Friday, December 30, 2011

Top 10 of 2011

It's kind of insane to think that it's been a full year since the 'Top 10 of 2010' post. In any case, it's been another year of awesome YA books, so let's celebrate that a little! Like last year, a brief disclaimer: the following list is comprised only of books published this past year that I've read. Doubtless there're numerous other great books out there (many of which I've been meaning to read, but haven't gotten around to yet) that aren't included. But anyway, without further ado, let's start the countdown:
9th and 10th place go to Choker by Elizabeth Woods (January 4th, 2011 - Simon & Schuster) and Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey (September 20th, 2011 - HarperTeen), respectively. Choker is a thrilling and mysterious read that'll leave you thinking long after the last page is turned [review] and Cold Kiss has a great fresh twist that makes it a unique paranormal romance [review].
Mandy Hubbard's Ripple (July 21st, 2011 - Penguin) and Gayle Forman's Where She Went (April 5th, 2011 - Penguin) take 7th and 8th place, respectively. Ripple [review] is a super unique and creative mermaid tale, while Where She Went [review] is the emotionally breath-taking sequel to If I Stay [review].
Coming in 6th place is Ally Condie's Matched (November 30th, 2010 - Penguin). I love science fiction and dystopians, and I've read a decent amount of the YA dystopians out there - Matched definitely measures up among the best. Amy Plum's Die For Me (May 10th, 2011 - HarperTeen) takes 5th place for the year. The first in a series, Die For Me is alluring and fresh and takes place in Paris - romantic! [review]
Ranked 4th is Julia Karr's XVI (January 6th, 2011 - Penguin). Another futuristic YA dystopian, XVI proposes a lot of interesting concepts worth thinking about. Thought-provoking and action-packed, XVI also ranks up there with the greats. 3rd is Myra McEntire's Hourglass (June 14th, 2011 - EgmontUSA), a timeslip romance. The leading lady has got spunk! Hourglass is a fun read - it's different from any other YAs currently out there [review].
This takes us to 2nd, which goes to Beth Revis with Across the Universe (January 11th, 2011 - Penguin). Across the Universe has got a bit of many aspects of my favourites - plot turns, space, science fiction, dystopia... It's a pretty epic read! [review] [interview]

And 1st place for 2011? Wither by Lauren DeStefano (March 22nd, 2011 - Simon & Schuster). Absolutely loved Wither. Also a dystopian. Definitely well worth checking out! [review]

So there you have it - my list of top 11 YA books for 2011. What were your favourites this year?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sarah Dessen Meet & Greet Recap

On Thursday, September 22nd, I had the awesome opportunity to attend a Meet & Greet with Sarah Dessen at the North York Central Library. So after an early dinner, my friend M. & I TTCed over to North York (more exploration of the city, woo!) North York Central is a really big library (& one of the nicer ones I've seen)!

We got to go into a back room (the staff room?) and there was a square arrangement of sofas - and Sarah Dessen! (I don't have any photos from inside, but there's one on Sarah's blog. You can see part of my leg & my black bag on the left side :)

Sarah was really awesome and super nice and down to earth and genuine. I'll admit, I was a little starstruck. (Or as M. phrased it, "I wasn't sure if you were still breathing.") Then we got adorable lock & key necklaces from Penguin (Thanks Penguin!) and a hardcover copy of either Along for the Ride or What Happened to Goodbye and we lined up to get books signed.
Next, we all went back out into the general seating area, where Dana Krook from Faze magazine interviewed Sarah. And as it turned out, Audrey from Holes In My Brain was sitting behind me, & lo and behold, we go to the same school (and live basically across the street from each other). I was even one of the Frosh Leaders who'd been assigned to help the Frosh move into her residence building! Crazy small world ;)

Listening to Sarah speak was kind of surreal and really awesome and entertaining and inspirational, all at the same time. Dana did a great job asking lots of interesting questions. And after the official "interview" was done, the audience members got to ask some questions as well.

After all that was done, people lined up for book signings. Over all, it was a really cool experience and it was super awesome getting to meet Sarah Dessen!

*Photos of signed books & necklace to come in the next IMM post.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (36)

Destined - Jessie Harrell
*November 17th, 2011 Mae Day Publishing

When Psyche receives a prophecy gone horribly wrong, she learns that even the most beautiful girl in Greece can have a hideous future. Her fate? Fall in love with the one creature even the gods fear.

As she feels herself slipping closer into the arms of the prophecy, Psyche must choose between the terrifyingly tender touch she feels almost powerless to resist and the one constant she's come to expect out of life: you cannot escape what is destined.

Destined is a fresh and heartachingly romantic retelling of the Cupid & Psyche myth from debut novelist, Jessie Harrell.

Featuring this one as a "waiting on" book for a number of reasons. First off, it's a pretty striking cover. The pale tones and colour scheme are very soft and seem to fit Psyche very well. Secondly, it's a mythical re-telling of Cupid & Psyche.

It seems like myth re-tellings are pretty big in the YA realm these days, but excited about this one nonetheless. (I actually took a course on Classical Mythology lately, which was very interesting!)

So what're you waiting on this Wednesday?

*WoW is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine

Monday, October 3, 2011

Giveaway: My Life Undecided

Hard to believe that it's already October and cool Autumn days are here once again. Coloured leaves, layered clothing and piping hot chocolate... despite the cooler weather, Fall is still a pretty awesome season. So... giveaway time! In collaboration with Zeitghost Media, Lucid Conspiracy is pleased to present a giveaway for a copy of My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody!PLEASE READ THIS! MY LIFE DEPENDS ON IT!

Okay, maybe that was a bit melodramatic, but I’m sorry, I’m feeling a bit melodramatic at the moment.

Here’s the deal. My name is Brooklyn Pierce, I’m fifteen years old, and I am decisionally challenged. Seriously, I can’t remember the last good decision I made. I can remember plenty of crappy ones though. Including that party I threw when my parents were out of town that accidentally burned down a model home. Yeah, not my finest moment, for sure.

But see, that’s why I started a blog. To enlist readers to make my decisions for me. That’s right. I gave up. Threw in the towel. I let someone else be the one to decide which book I read for English. Or whether or not I accepted an invitation to join the debate team from that cute-in-a-dorky-sort-of-way guy who gave me the Heimlich Maneuver in the cafeteria. (Note to self: Chew the melon before swallowing it.) I even let them decide who I dated!

Well, it turns out there are some things in life you simply can’t choose or have chosen for you—like who you fall in love with. And now everything’s more screwed up than ever.

But don’t take my word for it, read the book and decide for yourself. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll scream in frustration. Or maybe that’s just me. After all, it’s my life.

Contest open to US & Canada [mailing addresses] and runs until October 15th, 11:59pm EST. First entry is a freebie.


Submit your entry here, and good luck! Check out Jessica Brody's site or the book site for more info.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Word on the Street 2011

Sunday, September 25th was The Word on the Street, an annual national book & magazine festival that celebrates literacy and the written word. (WOTS site) It was pretty cool last year (Yann Martel had a presentation!), so J (who went with me last year too) and I decided to check it out again this year.

We went earlier in the afternoon this time around, and it was definitely a lot more packed, as we were there during peak hours.
^ Look, it's the HarperCollins booth! Not sure if you guys can tell from the photo, but there are cover promos for Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (set for release November 2011) and Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon (October 2011), among others.
Overall, it was a pretty cool festival!

Did any of you guys check it out/what did you think?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ripple Review

Ripple - Mandy Hubbard
*July 21st, 2011 Razorbill

Lexi is cursed with a dark secret. Each day she goes to school like a normal
teenager, and each night she must swim, or the pain will be unbearable. She is a siren - a deadly mermaid destined to lure men to their watery deaths. After a terrible tragedy, Lexi shut herself off from the world, vowing to protect the ones she loves. But she soon finds herself caught between a new boy at school who may have the power to melt her icy exterior, and a handsome water spirit who says he can break Lexi's curse if she gives up everything else. Lexi is faced with the hardest decision she's ever had to make: the life she's always longed for - or the love she can't live without?

Ripple is an adorable YA paranormal romance by literary superpower Mandy Hubbard.

Like its connotatively watery title suggests, Ripple is a mermaid tale of sorts. However, Hubbard puts a distinctively new and unique spin on the age-old concept in an enjoyable and entertaining way. Personally, I devoured Ripple in pretty much one sitting.

Ripple is a fast read, perfect for the beach, a patch of grass underneath a tree or a cool autumn day spent inside with hot chocolate. Lexi, as a character, is fairly well developed. She's the type of leading lady that you'll find yourself rooting for as the plot progresses. The plot is nicely balanced in terms of portions of light-heartedness and darker moments.

These are certain aspects - both of characters' actions and plot development - which require some suspension of disbelief. This is a paranormal romance though, so to some degree, that's to be expected.

All in all, Mandy Hubbard's Ripple is a fun, unique and highly entertaining read! With just the right ratios of cuteness and conflict, seriousness and fun, Ripple caters to its target audience magnificently.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cold Kiss Review

Cold Kiss - Amy Garvey
*September 20th, 2011 HarperTeen

When her boyfriend, Danny, is killed in a car accident, Wren can’t imagine living without him. Wild with grief, she uses the untamed powers she’s inherited to bring him back. But the Danny who returns is just a shell of the boy she once loved.

Wren has spent four months keeping Danny hidden, while her life slowly unravels around her. Then Gabriel DeMarnes transfers to her school and somehow, inexplicably, he can sense her secret. Wren finds herself drawn to Gabriel, who is so much more alive than the ghost of the boy she loved. But Wren can’t turn her back on Danny or the choice she made for him—and she realizes she must find a way to make things right, even if it means breaking her own heart.

Amy Garvey's Cold Kiss is a beautifully written paranormal romance, conveying young love in a poignant and aching manner.

Cold Kiss has all the requisite elements of a paranormal romance, and will no doubt be very much appealing to the target demographic. As set up in the synopsis, leading lady Wren is caught in quite the predicament with her more-than-mortal love triangle. With this genre, why have only one enticing gentleman when you can have two?

The strongest aspect of Cold Kiss, however, is Garvey's writing. The voice is exquisite and unique, beautiful and vivid. The descriptions, the digressions, everything is expressed with fluid writing that just flows beautifully. The aspect that was a little lacking, however, was the plot. Not a lot of action happens, and questionable aspects of world-building aren't entirely resolved by the end of the novel. At the times when the plot dragged, even the nice writing got bogged down.

With that being said, Cold Kiss is an emotion-charged read, and it follows that vein nicely. Most of the characters are fairly likeable, or at the very least, neutral. (Interesting to note that Cold Kiss breaks from convention a little in that there is no explicit antagonist - only antagonized situations - which perhaps more closely resembles real life.)

With beautiful writing and aching emotion, Cold Kiss is a touching read about young love.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Graveminder Review

Graveminder - Melissa Marr
*May 17th, 2011 HarperCollins

Three sips to mind the dead . . .

Rebekkah Barrow never forgot the attention her grandmother Maylene bestowed upon the dead of Claysville, the small town where Bek spent her adolescence. There wasn't a funeral that Maylene didn't attend, and at each one Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual: She took three sips from a silver flask and spoke the words "Sleep well, and stay where I put you."

Now Maylene is dead, and Bek must go back to the place she left a decade earlier. She soon discovers that Claysville is not just the sleepy town she remembers, and that Maylene had good reason for her odd traditions. It turns out that in Claysville the worlds of the living and the dead are dangerously connected; beneath the town lies a shadowy, lawless land ruled by the enigmatic Charles, aka Mr. D. If the dead are not properly cared for, they will come back to satiate themselves with food, drink, and stories from the land of the living. Only the Graveminder, by tradition a Barrow woman, and her Undertaker—in this case Byron Montgomery, with whom Bek shares a complicated past—can set things right once the dead begin to walk.

Although she is still grieving for Maylene, Rebekkah will soon find that she has more than a funeral to attend to in Claysville, and that what awaits her may be far worse: dark secrets, a centuries-old bargain, a romance that still haunts her, and a frightening new responsibility—to stop a monster and put the dead to rest where they belong.

Graveminder is Bestselling YA author Melissa Marr's first foray into the realm of adult novels.
And certainly, what an interesting foray it is! With her apt ability for urban paranormalcy, one would expect no less than Graveminder from the Bestselling Marr. Graveminder is eerie and remote, familiar and creepy.

Something about the way that Marr lays out the setting makes the story seem very near. The mood and atmosphere is captured and shared beautifully. The concepts explored throughout the novel are intriguing and chilling. At times, it seemed to take the characters significantly longer to figure things out than the readers (which was also mentioned in the review of Marr's YA novel Radiant Shadows). Which is to say, it could've moved a bit faster, been a bit shorter. There are aspects of Graveminder which seem to fall more in the vein of YA than adult, stylistically. The resolution also came off a little anti-climatic.

Marr's world building remains her strong suit in debut adult novel Graveminder, with an enthralling and haunting setting.

With interesting characters, a vivid setting and haunting story, Melissa Marr's Graveminder is a wonderful debut into the realm of adult fiction.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (35)

Centauriad #1: Daughter of the Centaurs - K. K. Ross
*January 24th, 2012 Random House

Malora knows what she was born to be: a horse wrangler and a hunter, just like her father. But when her people are massacred by batlike monsters called Leatherwings, Malora will need her horse skills just to survive. The last living human, Malora roams the wilderness at the head of a band of magnificent horses, relying only on her own wits, strength, and courage. When she is captured by a group of centaurs and taken to their city, Malora must decide whether the comforts of her new home and family are worth the parts of herself she must sacrifice to keep them.

Kate Klimo has masterfully created a new world, which at first seems to be an ancient one or perhaps another world altogether, but is in fact set on earth sometime far in the future.

Centaurs! How splendid. Centaurs are definitely an aspect of mythology that hasn't been adequately explored in YA literature yet, so it'll be very interesting to see how Ross does so.

And who hasn't read at least one horse book in their early chapter/MG days?

So what're you waiting on this Wednesday?

*WoW is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Die For Me Review

Die For Me - Amy Plum
*May 10th, 2011 HarperTeen

In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.

When Kate Mercier's parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life--and memories--behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.

Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate's guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he's a revenant--an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again.

Amy Plum's Die for Me is a tantalizing YA paranormal romance, brimming with allure and sure to captivate the female YA market segment.

Die for Me may be Plum's debut novel, but as an author, it is clear that Plum is already quite a master. It is quite remarkable really, that Plum manages to take a paranormal element that would usually have gnarly associations and grotesque associations, and turn it into something scintillating and sexy.

And of course, the fact that Die for Me is set in romantic Paris certainly doesn't hurt. The exotic locale paired with the intriguing characters and captivating plot make for a very entrancing story.

The beginning of the novel does start a little slowly and a bit of suspension of disbelief is necessary on the part of the reader, but Die for Me is definitely well worth sticking in there for.

The chemistry between Kate and Vincent is splayed across the pages skillfully and smoothly. The mythology behind the paranormal elements is fresh and unique. And Plum's writing is beautiful to boot. This is definitely going to be an author to keep an eye out for, especially since Die for Me will indeed have a sequel!

Exotic and romantic, Die for Me is a very fresh and unique piece of YA paranormal romance.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

In My Mailbox [53]

Since my last In My Mailbox post, I've received:

` Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
` Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer
` Ripple by Mandy Hubbard

and a card, signed postcard, and set of trading cards for Solstice by P.J. Hoover. (Thanks!)

Imaginary Girls was reviewed here, and I reviewed Andrea Cremer's Nightshade, the prequel to Wolfsbane, here.

So there you have it, the contents of my mailbox lately. What about you, what literary goodies have you gotten?

& while you're here - don't forget to enter to win the complete Relic Master series by Catherine Fisher. Go, go, go!

*In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren
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