Skip to main content

Stand-Out Books of 2011!!!

Happy New Year’s Eve!

It is now time for the second annual Stand-Out Books of the Year (2011) post! It has been a crazy, reading frenzy this year! Anybody who’s been frequenting the blog for a while now, will know this is the most review-ridden year I’ve had! Don’t believe me? Here are the stats for 2011:

How many books did I read?

171

That is 76 more than in 2010!!!

How many pages did I read?

55,037

That is 26,310 more than in 2010!!!

How many pages (on average) did I read per day?

151

That is 73 more than in 2010!!!

Yep, it’s been an insane, wonderful, bibliophile-friendly 2011. Hopefully for you too!

So, now it’s time to pick my Stand-Outs! I can never name anything my “favorite”, because there are far too many – and that is just too hard for me! Especially when there are just SO many amazing books out there!

All this extra reading make it even HARDER to pick Stand-Out titles and keep the list short! Inevitably, it is going to be longer than last year’s. However, to make it a little easier I’m going to be listing the books that stood out to me the most over 2011 by categories. For example, I’ll list books as “Sweeping Historicals” and “Contemporary Tear-Jerkers”.

I’m doing this to simplify things and be a bit more organized, but keep in mind that a historical novel might very well also be a tear-jerker! This applies to all categories. I’m going to place them in what I consider the most obvious, easy to identify category. Also, this year I will be imbedding the link to my direct review right in the title of the book, so feel free to read more on each title, as I will only give a tiny bit of my opinion of each here.

Just like last year, these are the books that stood out to me the most over my reading this year. It doesn’t mean that ALL of these books were published in 2011, just that I read them in 2011. Also like last year, I loved/liked MANY books in 2011 – so believe you me, I’m being tough keeping the list down to 43. In fact, I'm still struggling with not including books like Anna Dressed in Blood, Faerie Winter, and others. Yet, I figured that being tough on myself would be the only way to keep from having 100 books on the list!

Are you ready? Hopefully, many of you bibliophile maniacs got gift cards for Christmas and are ready to go purchase some of these absolutely AWESOME titles!!!
Okay, here goes:



Contemporary Tear-Jerkers

Bitter Melon by Cara Chow
A story about an Asian girl’s struggle with fulfilling her mother’s high expectation for her academic future and her desire to find her own path. Stunningly simple, yet anything but.

Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman
A novel taking the perspective of an immigrated Argentinian teen girl, following her as she tries to acclimate to American culture, language, and homesickness – while also watching her family life disintegrate.

I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Profound book about two brothers who have grown up with next to no normalcy, but a strong, unshakeable bond to each other – the older of which begins to experience what life might be like outside of the hard, sometimes mad hand of his ever-traveling and thieving father, after he meets a girl his own age at a church.

Forgotten by Cat Patrick
Wowza of a unique story about a girl who “remembers” the future, but never remembers the past. She writes down notes to herself about what happened each day, before she “resets”. Fascinating and fast-paced, and absolutely unforgettable.

Kindred by Tammar Stein
Down-to-earth college freshman story about a girl who is confronted with a message from an angel, whose twin brother seems to be getting supernatural visits from the opposite spectrum. Some of the most memorable parts of it are the character development, honesty, and raw emotion of sibling love and coming-of-age.

Rotters by Daniel Kraus
Shocking, gruesome foray into the world of grave digging, in one of the year’s most original novels. Teen boy loses his mother only to be reunited with a dad he never met, and begin to become involved in the age-old, hard-core, illegal career and how it affects his entire life.

Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray
This reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet from a contemporary standpoint, giving up Ophelia as our main character is tragic, painful, and flat-out gripping.

Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman
A horrifying story of a young teen girl meeting up with an older online chat friend – and what happens.

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
Sara Zarr almost got two slots on the list this year, but like I said, I’m being tough! We are introduced to two hurting teen girls as one mourns her father and the other comes to give her baby to them and has her own secrets to hide.



Unique Sci-Fi/Dystopia

Memento Nora by Angie Smibert
This was a thrilling, futuristic, short novel that presented us with a time when everybody literally forgets their troubles. And what happens when certain teens decide they want to see what happens when they don’t.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
I think this may be the scariest book I read all year. Zombies have never been presented in such an expertly crafted way, in my opinion. Whoa.

Star Time by Henry Melton
Sci-fi extraordinaire Henry Melton outdid himself with this end-of-the-world meets aliens epic. I was floored by the originality mixed with classic themes. Quite something.

Dark Parties by Sara Grant
A dystopia featuring a controlling, enigmatic governing body that encourages procreation even among teens. A world where everyone looks so similar that they go to extremes to find individuality.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
This is why sometimes it is worth it to read something besides YA. A brilliant hodgepodge of virtual reality, 80s pop culture and thrilling adventure in a future where next to nobody lives out their life in reality, but instead inside of a giant videogame where an embedded puzzle of clues will lead to complete ownership of the creator’s fortune.



ROFL Hilarious

You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin
A refreshing new twist of black-and-white film noir with a teen private detective and his investigation into the death of one of the more dangerous high schools out there. Super clever, super fun!

Seven Kinds of Ordinary Catastrophes by Amber Kizer
Frank and laugh-out-loud funny as our heroine tries to figure out romance and the further expectations in high school. Shocking and maybe a bit inappropriate for younger readers, but always in good fun and delightful.

Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris
Take a geeky, smart girl that is relatable and has big doctor dreams and place her in a situation where almost the entire student body is turning into zombies. Fresh, original, and awesome!

My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody
There’s a classic romantic comedy feel to this book, but that is part of its charm. We have likable characters and interesting romantic tension that makes you frustrated in the best way – not to mention tons of humor as we follow a girl that is so fed up with her never-ending display of bad decisions that she begins a blog to have other run her life – by multiple choice polls!

Jane. Jones. Worst. Vampire. Ever. By Caissie St. Onge
One of the best vampire books I have ever read! Imagine a teen vampire girl who is allergic to blood! Therefore, being a vampire really really sucks since she’s sick all the time with malnourishment! A dash of romance and mystery mixed with hilarious situations equals amusing joy!

Starstruck by Cyn Balog
Overweight girl finds out her best friend/long distance boyfriend (who hasn’t seen her since she was at least fifty pounds lighter) is coming back to town! That’s horrifying enough, but then he seems oddly obsessed with the sun, and her, to be normal. What’s up? Gotta read this gem to find out!



Fantastic Fantasy

The False Princess by Ellis O’Neal
This is a traditional-feeling fantasy story about a princess that finds out she may be false. But there may be even more lies and sorcery going on than is easily noticed. The human elements of betrayal and finding one’s place in the world after having everything you thought you knew turned on its head brings this fantasy YA novel to another level.

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
A sweet, epic, classic-in-the-making about an orphaned boy going on the adventure of his life as he helps a dragon and his friends try and find a place where the dragon race will be safe. Surprisingly poignant and easily readable, this is a children’s novel that reminds you that when they’re done right – they can be read by any age!

Reckless by Cornelia Funke
Another side of Funke is shown here as we are given a set of older characters and an alternative world full of refreshingly different, and quite often creepy, creatures. This starts off what will hopefully be a series of many books featuring the dashing Reckless. In this novel he races to save his younger brother from becoming something entirely inhuman.

The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton
A delightfully fun and festive-feeling Victoria-era fantasy/adventure. We get the perspective of pickpocket teens as they try to survive in life lacking in guardianship. Then, of course, the main character of Tiki ends up mixed up in an age-old truce with rather menacing faeries – a truce that she may have accidentally broke.



Phenomenal Paranormal

Thirteen Days to Midnight by Patrick Carman
One of the darker, more unique novels of the year. It’s hard to even explain, really. Except to say that after a teen boy’s guardian speaks a few words to him and then dies in a car crash that leaves the boy unscathed, he seems to become next to impossible to hurt. He and his friends try to figure it out… but may be too late.

Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore
The newest YA novel from Clement-Moore is stock full of wit, romantic tension, and ghostly mystery. It’s tons of fun to read and left me hoping/wishing for a sequel.

Corsets & Clockwork edited by Trisha Telep
This anthology of short stories by some of the biggest names in YA fantasy/steampunk is something to behold. You get numerous tales of Victorian era faeries, mechanical people, mermaids, and more – some of which are super creepy, some of which are lighthearted, and some of which are just flat-out romantic. It’s a great introduction to many fantastic authors and an overall excellent read!

Abandon by Meg Cabot
Meg’s newest YA paranormal series is hot, dark, and super entertaining. It’s a new spin on the myth of Persephone and makes the underworld a whole lot more appealing. With an amazing mix of scariness, humor, and expert plotting this is a book that I’m sure many of us are anticipating the second novel for!

Fallen by Lauren Kate
This was a hard pick. I almost put the sequels Torment and Passion on here as well, as I read and thoroughly enjoyed all three this year. However, like I said, I’m being tough on myself. And despite all three being great, Fallen was the spookiest, most enigmatic experience for me. Having a novel take place almost entirely in a sort of “mental hospital” sort of school was so different. Finding out the beginning of Luce and Daniel’s connection was entirely hypnotic.

Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton
Quite possibly the bloodiest novel I read all year – I was floored. Here we have a new sort of magic. It’s not cool or sweet – it’s weird and kind of masochistic (which is better than the alternative, we learn later). We have a couple of unique, sympathetic teens characters that are slowly falling for each other while they’re also experiencing this dark, scary sort of magic that the main character’s murdered father may have been involved in. Twists like crazy!

The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge
I am so on the bandwagon with this novel. I am practically jumping up and down knowing the second book in the series, The Nightmare Garden, will be out in February! This book takes place in an alternative 1950s where otherworldly creatures have eaten away at society (sometimes literally) and a girl who slowly learns more about the secrets hidden from society – while she struggles with her oncoming, genetically-inherited madness. Wowza! This is steampunk and awesomeness combined!

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
An epic start to a new, magnificent series! We meet characters descended from gods, and find out about prophecies and curses passed down over the years to now torment two new lovebirds. I hate to give too much away because of all the twists and turns – all I’ll say is that it is a fantastic new take on mythology and is both romantic and suspenseful from start to finish!



Sweeping Historical

Cleopatra’s Moon by Vicki Alvear Shecter
Historical fiction can’t get much better as we follow Cleopatra’s only daughter navigate through enemy-ridden Rome to keep her and her brothers safe from those who wish to harm them. An untold, fascinating story given life – infused with horror, compassion, and human emotional depth.

The Measure of Katie Calloway by Serena Miller
Soon after the civil war in the South, Katie Calloway escapes from the heavy, abusive hand of her husband and takes her young brother to the North. They don’t know where they’re going or what they’ll do, but she knows that they can’t survive any longer with the madman that is her husband. In this touching, down-to-earth, rich novel we follow their journey to a work camp deep in the woods as she works as a cook and begins to fall for a man that treats her with kindness.

A Heart Revealed by Julie Lessman
I loved this family of Irish Christians in 1930s Boston! Emma Malloy is a scarred, previously abused wife that has lived in Boston and become successful for many years now. Her morals and fears war with her as she begins to fall in love with someone she’s known for a long time. Also we follow married couples, some for a long time, some newlyweds, and become increasingly involved in this loving, realistic family.

A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander
This historical novel takes place in 1800s Nashville in a huge, beautiful place called Belmont Mansion. Our main character is hiding her past, and trying desperately to escape from it, as she finds a job with the wealthy, powerful, demanding woman of the manor. Infused with character development and raw human flaws, this is a lovely tale of redemption and love.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
A fantastic children’s novel written with both words and pictures, we follow young Hugo in 1930s Paris as he struggles to fulfill his and his now deceased father’s wish of fixing an old, forgotten automaton. This is an adventure full of secrets and a brilliant foray into original filmmaking. This is an unforgettable book that is poignant and meaningful, while also being a unique feast for the eyes and imagination.



Spectacular Sequels

Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
For the sequel portion I won’t be giving too many details – because all of the plots should be kinda secret until you read the first novel! But oh my is the books stunning! This is the sequel to Raised by Wolves, a truly original take on YA werewolf novels – full of terror and a more grounded main character. I cannot wait for the third book!

Forever Princess by Meg Cabot
I finally got to read the final book in The Princess Diaries and I was more than satisfied. If you haven’t yet, you totally should!

In the Forests of the Night by Kersten Hamilton
A fantastic, extremely well-written follow-up to Tyger Tyger in which we continue the story of Teagan, Finn, and Aiden as they explore the dangerous, horrifying, mesmerizing world of goblins and Irish folklore come-to-life.

A Web of Air by Philip Reeve
It was soooo hard not to add Fever Crumb, the first novel in this series, to the list! This is an amazingly different, futuristic, dystopia London and a girl engineer who is carving her own place in it.

So Silver Bright by Lisa Mantchev
Beautiful, stunning, heart-stopping conclusion the elegantly magical Theatre Illuminata trilogy. Oh how I wish there were more!!!

The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson
Touching, incredibly, genius follow-up to her previous The Adoration of Jenna Fox.

Ascendant by Diane Peterfreund
A unicorn novel like you’ve never read before – frightening, powerful, and unforgettable. I struggled with not putting Rampant on the list… Oh, so there are so many amazing books that I’ve read in 2011!

The Empire of Gut and Bone by M. T. Anderson
Again, I sooo wanted to place The Game of Sunken Places and The Suburb Under the Stars on the Stand-Out Books of 2011 list, too! This is the third and penultimate novel in the fun, intelligent, amazing Norumbegan Quartet of sci-fi YA novels.

Alright, so that completes the list of Stand-Out Books of 2011 this year! I hope you all are ready to go out and purchase some of these titles as I can put my Bibliophile Support Group stamp of approval on each one!

I’m excited to enter a whole new year of reading and I want to thank all the authors, publishers, editors, and publicists still in the business of promoting the written word for continuing to offer such high-quality entertainment every year!!!

Most of all, though, I thank YOU – the reader and follower of the Bibliophile Support Group! You have made 2011 the most successful year yet! I hope you all help to make this blog grow and support even more admitted, mad bibliophiles that want to hear about books, books, books!!!!!

I’ll see you all in 2012!

Comments

Julie Lessman said…
ANGIE, you sweetheart, you -- WOW, THANK YOU for including A Heart Revealed on your fabulous list -- that blesses the socks off of me, girl!! I wish you and yours the happiest and healthiest of new years!

Hugs,
Julie
Thank you so much for including Texas Gothic on your list! I'm tickled to be in the company of some of MY favorite books of 2011... and I'm scribbling the titles of several that I missed but now can't wait to read. :-D

--Rosemary
Serena Miller said…
I'm honored to be on your list, Angie! Thank you so much for your wonderful review!

Blessings,
Serena

Popular posts from this blog

Reckless

Reckless is a YA fantasy adventure by the ever-revered (for good reason) Cornelia Funke.

Jacob Reckless has been passing through a mirror portal in his father's forgotten (or, rather, ignored) study for years now. After his father disappeared and his mother became a shell of her former self, he found it. Since then, it's been hard to stay tethered to his world - instead, he's become more and more connected to the alternative option.

In fact, he's managed to make a name for himself as a treasure hunter. And always by his side is a loyal vixen named Fox, a shape-shifter. She's probably the closest thing he has to a friend - but Jacob still considers himself a loner. But he's become comfortable with the different creatures, monsters, and magic this world has to offer - even though right now they are at war with a stone people called Goyl. None of that interests him. He just seeks out his mysterious objects and fetches good prices.

But that's all about to change. …

Real Live Boyfriends

Real Live Boyfriends is a YA contemporary novel by E. Lockhart, and the fourth novel in the Ruby Oliver quartet.

Here we are on the last day of “Ruby Oliver Week” and if you aren’t already reading these books – well, why not?

But I’m more than sure most of you are – and hopefully you’re all caught up, and therefore not at risk of being spoiled by my review of Real Live Boyfriends. You’ve been warned!

Ruby Oliver is beginning her senior year of high school with a real live boyfriend: Noel.

At least she thought she was.

After having spent the rest of junior year and the beginning of summer being fully in love (okay, they never actually said the word, but the vibes were strongly in that direction), Ruby is now confused.

Again.

When Noel went to visit his brother in New York for a while, almost every day they talked on the phone and exchanged funny emails. She never once felt insecure.

Until all of a sudden – communication stopped. Ruby would call and he wouldn’t answer. She’d leave a voice mai…

Titanic: S.O.S.

S.O.S. is the third and final book in Gordon Korman's middle-grade Titanic trilogy.

This is the third book in a trilogy, book addicts! You must, I repeat, must read the first two books (Unsinkable and Collision Course) before you read this review. Otherwise you are just going to ruin all the twists! Sure, we know the Titanic sinks - but the surprises that are revealed about our characters, among other things, should not be spoiled!

But all of you that have read the first two books (which I hope are many of you, because this a great series), can rest assured that I won't spoil anything from S.O.S. itself - just a basic recap and my opinion.

Here goes:

The Titanic is sinking. No one wants to believe it, but the bow is almost imperceptibly starting to dip into the freezing Atlantic Ocean - and our four main characters are thrown into a race for survival.

Paddy is locked up below deck, having finally been caught as a stowaway. In one cell over are the very criminals that wish him dead…