The Class of 2012: YA Superlatives Blogfest – Elements of Fiction

Before I get on with my Elements of Fiction choices for the YA Superlatives Blogfest, I’d love to refer you to Kristin Lynn Thetford‘s blog. First and foremost, she just signed with a fantastic agent… Go congratulate her! Second, she recently interviewed me about my writing, my experiences with querying, and my eventual signing with super agent Victoria Marini of GSLA. The interview is HERE if you want to check it out. (You totally should!)

The Class of 2012: YA Superlative Blogfest (hosted by Jessica LoveTracey NeithercottAlison Miller, and me) runs Monday, December 17th through Thursday, December 20th. All of the awesome people who are participating in the blogfest (YOU, I hope!) will highlight favorite books published 2012 using a variety of super fun superlative categories. The Class of 2012: YA Superlative Blogfest is about promoting extraordinary young adult books, so if you haven’t already, draft a post, hop down to the end of this post, and sign up to participate. We can’t wait to see your favorite reads of 2012!

The 2012 YA novels I’ve read, listed in no particular order: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, A Million Suns, The Fault in Our Stars, The Disenchantments, Something Strange and Deadly, Pandemonium, Wanderlove, Under the Never Sky, Ten, This is Not a Test, Happy Families, Insurgent, Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone, Monstrous Beauty, Bitterblue, Time Between Us, My Life Next Door, Breathe, Pushing the Limits, Skylark, The Raven Boys, Live Through This, Bittersweet, Flawed, Ditched, Starters, Reached, Lovely, Dark and Deep, Meant to Be, and Days of Blood and Starlight…

And here’s how I chose to award today’s categories:

Elements of Fiction

Most Envy-Inducing Plot (Plot I wish I’d thought of myself…)

Time Between UsUsing time travel to tell a story of intense, lasting love has been done before, but I especially love the way Tamara Ireland Stone uses Bennett’s  special “talent” to challenge Anna and everything she thinks she knows.

Most Formidable World (Setting I would NOT want to visit…)

Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky, #1)From Smarteyes and Realms to Aether storms and savages and potentially dangerous air, Veronica Rossi has created a detailed and dynamic world where almost nobody can be trusted.

Wanderlust-Inducing (Setting I’d happily travel to…)

WanderloveAah, beaches and hiking and fun in the sun — this book’s title is spot-on. I’d love to backpack with Bria and Rowan.

Loveliest Prose

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #2)Or… perhaps Fate laid out your life for you like a dress on a bed, and you could either wear it or go naked. ~ Gorgeous imagery on every. Single. Page.

Best First Line

Amelia Anne is Dead and GoneThe night before Amelia Anne Richardson bled her life away on a parched dirt road outside of town, I bled out my dignity in the back of a pickup truck under a star-pricked sky. ~ The whole book is written this beautifully.

Most Dynamic Main Character

Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)I absolutely adore Bitterblue. She’s so many things: utterly endearing, open and charmingly honest, naive and occasionally brusque, determined and loyal. Over the course of the novel, she faces what should be soul-crushing opposition, but she never, ever folds.

Most Jaw-Dropping Ending

The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle, #1)Ronan’s confession about Chainsaw’s origins… *shivers* Next book, please!

Best Performance in a Supporting Role

This is Not a TestGrace, Trace, Cary, Harrison, and especially Rhys from This is Not a Test. I loved the Breakfast Club-esque dynamic between main character Sloane and her colorful and carefully fleshed-out supporting cast.

Best Use of Theme

Lovely, Dark and DeepWren’s struggles with unimaginable guilt and grief could have been preachy and cliche, but Amy McNamara handles her protagonist’s troubles with subtle grace, which makes themes of forgiveness and acceptance shine.

The Class of 2012: YA Superlative Blogfest – Popularity Contest

The Class of 2012: YA Superlative Blogfest (hosted by Jessica LoveTracey NeithercottAlison Miller, and me) runs Monday, December 17th through Thursday, December 20th. All of the awesome people who are participating in the blogfest (YOU, I hope!) will highlight favorite books published 2012 using a variety of super fun superlative categories. The Class of 2012: YA Superlative Blogfest is about promoting extraordinary young adult books, so if you haven’t already, draft a post, hop down to the end of this post, and sign up to participate. We can’t wait to see your favorite reads of 2012!

The 2012 YA novels I’ve read over the last year, listed in no particular order:

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, A Million Suns, The Fault in Our Stars, The Disenchantments, Something Strange and Deadly, Pandemonium, Wanderlove, Under the Never Sky, Ten, This is Not a Test, Happy Families, Insurgent, Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone, Monstrous Beauty, Bitterblue, Time Between Us, My Life Next Door, Breathe, Pushing the Limits, Skylark, The Raven Boys, Live Through This, Bittersweet, Flawed, Ditched, Starters, Reached, Lovely, Dark and Deep, Meant to Be, and Days of Blood and Starlight…

And here’s how I chose to award today’s categories:

Popularity Contest

Class Clown

Augustus from The Fault in Our Stars, because if anyone can make can cancer funny, it’s Gus. (image source)

Most Likely to Become a Rock Star

The DisenchantmentsWhile Bev from The Disenchantments may not have tons of musical talent, she’s definitely got that irreverent, arrogant aura of a rock star down.

Most Likely to Start a Riot

Tobias and Tris from Insurgent. They’re total badasses, and they both possess the leadership qualities necessary for mobilizing the masses. (image source)

Biggest Flirt

The Statistical Probability of Love at First SightOliver from The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. He’s such an effective flirt, he got Hadley to fall for him over the course of one night. Plus, his flirting is genuine and sweet.

Fashion King and/or Queen

Bitterblue. Not because she cares about fashion, but because of the beautiful way her gowns and hair and shoes are described in Bitterblue. (image source)

Girl You’d Most Want For Your BFF

Time Between UsAnna from Time Between Us because she’s a loyal, relateable girl with goals and dreams. Plus, she’s a runner like me.

Boy You Most Wish You’d Dated in High School

My Life Next DoorJase from My Life Next Door because he’s sweet and attentive and driven, and he has a totally awesome family.

Most Likely to Become President

Elder from A Million Suns. He’s not a perfect leader, but he’s a passionate leader, and he’s an honorable leader. I can’t wait to see how his arch concludes in Shades of Earth. (image source)

Quirkiest Character

Meant to BeMeant to Be‘s Julia has a pencil sharpener in her purse and head full of Beatles trivia, and she travels with dozens of guide books. She’s awkward and sometimes uncertain, but she’s also totally endearing. Loved her!

Villain You Love to Hate

Syrenka from Monstrous Beauty. She can be evil and single-minded and shockingly violent, but she has her reasons. Mermaids need love too, right? (image source)

Favorite Parental Figure

The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle, #1)I’m going to cheat a little and go with Blue Sargent’s mother and all of the clairvoyant ladies who live in her house. They’re such an eclectic, strong group of women, and each is so unique. Their scenes were a joy to read.

Coolest Nerd

Xander from Reached. He’s got all those medical, scientific smarts, and he’s sort of brooding and mysterious. A perfect combination. (image source unknown)

Method Writing

You’ve probably heard of “method acting.”

From WikipediaMethod acting is any of a family of techniques used by actors to create in themselves the thoughts and emotions of their characters, so as to develop lifelike performances.

I can’t act my way out of a paper bag, but I am a fan of method writing. I find it incredibly helpful and inspiring to immerse myself in my characters’ lives. Their hobbies and their passions and their cultures. Let me give you an example…

I recently shared a bit about my WiP, Cross My Heart, in a post called The Next Big Thing. I mentioned that the story’s main character, Jillian, aspires to be a pastry chef. It probably goes without saying, but this aspect of the story was a lot of fun to research. I found two food blogs in particular that were incredibly helpful: Brown Eyed Baker and Eat, Live, Run. I learned a lot about basic food preparation, the science of baking, and the art of presentation.

Of course, all of this food-themed reading and research lit a fire of inspiration under me, and I found myself wanting to bake. Often.

So I did.

And every time I stepped into my kitchen and the world of yeast and coconut flakes and dark chocolate chips, I found myself connecting on a deeper level with Jillian. I felt the same contentment I imagine she feels when she’s among her rolling pins and pie pans and spatulas. I fell in love with the process of measuring and mixing and tasting, just like Jillian. I felt a sense of pride when presenting my treats to family and friends, just as Jillian does in the story.

I attribute the five pounds I gained while rewriting Cross My Heart to Jillian and her love of pastries, and you know what? They were totally worth it. Diving into my main character’s passion not only made my manuscript more authentic, but I also discovered a new hobby, one I’ll continue to foster long after my revision is complete.

     #Homemade wine-and-cheese #bread. #Near #Baking #Food #Yum #FMSPhotoADay   #Chocolate Chip #Scones ... #Yum! #Baking #Treats #Food

Tell Me: Do you METHOD WRITE?

MAY I tell you something about the Page 69 Test?

A week or two ago, I blogged raved about attending Seattle’s YA or Bust tour stop. In case you’ve forgotten or are unaware, YA or Bust featured contemporary YA authors Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, and Gayle Forman, who discussed writing and their books. One question they were asked during the panel portion of the event had to do with character development. This question got the authors extra excited. “Let’s do the Page 69 Test!” Gayle suggested.

You can find out more about the original Page 69 Test HERE (it’s a cool and unique book blog). The YA or Bust authors have modified the initial idea to demonstrate how they develop character. Nina, Stephanie, and Gayle each read an excerpt from one of their novels (from page sixty-nine, obviously), and then discussed how the excerpt revealed something about the passage’s character(s). Nina used her MC’s reaction to his setting to reveal more about the kind of person he his. Stephanie showed what one of her characters carried in his pocket, which spoke volumes about his personality. And Gayle read lyrics written by her MC, which illustrated the pain he was going through when he penned them.

I learned so much from the YA or Bust Page 69 Test, I thought it would be fun to do my own. Below is an excerpt from page sixty-nine of my manuscript Where Poppies Bloom, and below that, I’ve shared a bit about the story’s MC, Callie, and her friend Tucker…

Kittens. Several, wriggling around, making sad little mewing sounds. Their eyes are open, but they’re tiny. They look like Daisy Cat, gray and white, and they’re very cute. I’m unexpectedly grateful to Tucker for dragging me out here.

“I think this is where my aunt found her cat,” I tell him.

“You’d think their mother would’ve come running to the noise they’re making. She must have abandoned them.”

I stare at the kittens, thinking of the photograph in my pocket. I can’t help but wonder if whatever may have scared off their mother is the same entity that’s been scaring me in Stewart House.

“Cal? What should we do?” Tucker asks.

I pull my eyes from the kittens and look at him. “I don’t know… nothing?”

“We have to do something. We can’t leave them out here.”

“Why not?”

“Because they’ll freeze. Or starve.” He gives me a teasing smile. “You don’t want dead kittens on your conscience, do you?”

Something about my expression must change—darken—because his smile vanishes.

Hopefully this excerpt shows how profoundly Callie is impacted by the mere mention of death, and a bit of the push-and-pull she’s going through as far as normalcy — she resisted Tucker’s initial invitation to go outside, yet she’s surprisingly happy that he managed to convince her. The mention of Tucker’s “teasing smile” speaks to his good-natured personality, as well as his comfort level with Callie, despite the fact that she tends to hold him at a distance.

Tell me: What’s one way you’ve revealed character in your own writing? (Oh, and if you give the Page 69 Test a try on your blog, let me know… I’d love to check it out!)

MAY I tell you something about Aria?

Today’s Bookanista recommendation is Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, and to tie it in to Blog Me MAYbe, I’d love to talk about one of the story’s two main characters, Aria. First, a quick synopsis:

Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky, #1)

From Goodreads: Since she’d been on the outside, she’d survived an Aether storm, she’d had a knife held to her throat, and she’d seen men murdered. This was worse. Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland – known as The Death Shop – are slim. If the cannibals don’t get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She’s been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He’s wild – a savage – and her only hope of staying alive. A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile – everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria’s help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.

Let me be honest about Aria… I did not find her initially likable. When we meet her at the novel’s beginning, she’s naive and pampered and pretty helpless — although through no fault of her own. Aria is Aria because of her environment, the Pod she grew up in, confined and safe and clueless, and she appears to embrace that lifestyle. That said, there’s much more to Aria than meets the eye, and after life throws a few major curve balls her way, she starts to become a protagonist readers can believe in.

While Aria at first resists her new world and all its challenges, it’s not long before she takes initiative. She learns to feed herself and defend herself and, in the process, to be herself. She has a way of dealing with Peregrine, her “ally,” that I found very intriguing. Though they’re opposites in many ways, in several instances Aria seems to know intuitively exactly what Perry needs. Their relationship was balanced and grew out of respect, which made its progression a satisfying climb. The more Aria accepted her new world, and Perry, the more I grew to love her, until I found myself invested, rooting for her and thinking about her plight even when I wasn’t actively reading. Aria’s steep, authentic arc transformed her from a character I felt eh about, into a character I adored, a character whose story I can’t wait to continue reading.

And, if Aria isn’t enough to make you desperate to pick up a copy of Under the Never Sky, here a few more ways in which Veronica Rossi’s story amazed me:

1. Word-building – Thorough, creative, inimitable. There are so many thoughtful, unique details in Aria and Perry’s world.

2. Pacing – Unputdownable! A surprise around every corner…

3. Perry – Tortured, tough but secretly sensitive, courageous, intelligent and loyal. Oh, and he makes leather pants look good.

4. Prose – Straight-forward, yet elegant and descriptive. I found myself rereading passages because they were so beautiful.

5. The Spontaneous Kiss — Yes, it’s a thing, and it’s so sweet!

Please, please, PLEASE check out Under the Never Sky if you haven’t already!

Check out what my fellow Bookanistas are up to today:

Christine Fonseca revels in TO RIDE A PUCA

Stasia Ward Kehoe gushes over GILT

Tracy Banghart delights in THE DISENCHANTMENTS

Gennifer Albin celebrates SHADOW AND BONE

Jessica Love is wowed by YOU’RE THE ONE THAT I WANT

Shelli Johannes-Wells is crazy for CLOCKWISER

Have you read Under the Never Sky? Thoughts?

M is for Max

Today is the very last day to enter my Lucky Me, Lucky You Giveaway — it closes tonight at midnight, PST! A  signed copy of John Green’s The Fault in our Stars and a free book of choice from The Book Depository are up for grabs for TWO winners. Click HERE if you’d like to enter!

Also, I wanted to give a quick shout to writers and fellow A-Zers Pam Harris and Marquita Hockaday. They’ve themed their Challenge posts over at their Y(A)? Cuz We Write! blog, focusing on controversial issues and subject matter in YA. So far their topics have been timely, incredibly interesting, and well thought-out. Plus, they’re plugging books that deal with each day’s controversial topic. Very cool! I definitely recommend you check their blog out.

On Wednesday (J!) I blogged about my girl Jillian, protagonist from my WiP, Cross My Heart. Today, I’d love to introduce you to her adorable neighbor, one-time best friend, and greatest frustration: Max Holden.

Max is the baby of his family, and his three older sisters never let him forget it. He loves football, classic country music, and cheap beer. He’s a straight-shooter, super energetic, and forever impulsive. One of his favorite pastimes? Making Jillian blush. Max is all kinds of fun — the life of every party — and that’s exactly why you’d never guess how much the challenges at home wear him down.

Dean Geyer
Meet Max…

Where he sleeps…

Where he lives

Johnny Cash Men's Canvas Strap Watch
What he loves…

What he dreams of…

How he jokes…

River ...
Where he unwinds…

Love... !!!
What he learns…

Oh, Max, how I ♥ you!

Tell me: What one quality is a must in your ideal significant other?

J is for Jillian

Have you entered my Lucky Me, Lucky You Giveaway? A  signed copy of John Green’s The Fault in our Stars and a free book of choice from The Book Depository are up for grabs for TWO winners. Click HERE to enter!

As you may know, I’m currently working on a rewrite of my contemporary YA manuscript, Cross My Heart. This story is a labor of love — emphasis on the word LABOR. Once called Loving Max Holden (a title I might revert back to), it’s been giving me headaches for nearly two years. But I CANNOT let it go. Why, you might ask, have I stuck with a troublesome manuscript for so long? Well, its main characters, Jillian and Max (who you’ll meet on Saturday!), are just too adorable for words. I love them so much, and, simply, I can’t not tell their story.

Jillian is the most like me of any character I’ve written. She’s got a dry wit about her, and one might say she’s emotionally stunted. She’s constantly measuring herself against others, wondering how she compares. Though she puts on a casual-cool air, she’s highly analytical. She’s tight with her dad and angsty about her (pregnant and perfect) step-mom. Jill loves to bake, and she’s got clear goals in mind. She’s not the swooning type, and she’s definitely not that girl who’d let her life be derailed by a boy.

Until… it is.

Fun shoes!
Meet Jillian…

Where she sleeps…

Blue & White
Where she lives

Cupcakes Coffee Cream Brownies White Chocolate Lemon Truffles
What she loves…

What she dreams of…

What she reads…

Cream in your coffee?
What she drinks (no sugar, please)…

. Meet in the middle.
What she learns…

Tell me: Do you use visual inspiration for your WiPs?

H is for Hunk

Have you entered my Lucky Me, Lucky You Giveaway? A signed copy of John Green’s The Fault in our Stars and a free book of choice from The Book Depository are up for grabs for TWO winners. Click HERE to enter!

Teen literature is full of hunky boys and, if I’m being honest, they’re a big part of why I read YA books. The romantic interests are utterly swoon worthy. They’re so unlike the boys I went to high school with, but exactly like the boys I wish I’d gone to high school with. And, they come in every shape, size, color and persuasion, with varying hobbies and flaws and goals and backgrounds.

There’s the angsty rocker hunk, a la Adam from If I Stay

There’s the gawky science hunk, a la Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door

There’s the tattooed bad boy hunk, a la Alex from Perfect Chemisty

There’s the supportive beach boy hunk, a la Tyler from Moonglass

There’s the bold and valiant hunk, a la Four from Divergent

There’s the loyal boy-next-door hunk, a la Jay from The Body Finder

There’s the brooding hunk, a la Conrad from The Summer I Turned Pretty

There’s the cocky jock hunk, a la Doug from Forget You

There’s the super-sweet biker hunk, a la Harlin from A Need So Beautiful

The list goes on, and on, and on.

So, who’s my YA hunk of choice?


Jonah Griggs from Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road

On the Jellicoe Road

Why? Let me count the ways…

1. Jonah’s a badass cadet. My husband’s a soldier. Need I say more?

2. Jonah’s outdoorsy. He doesn’t shy away from dirt or exercise. Hot.

3. Jonah’s got a (very) tortured past, but he doesn’t let it hold him down.

4. Jonah’s tough-as-nails, but he’s incredibly sweet and sensitive and protective when it comes to his main squeeze, Taylor.

5. Jonah’s sort of crass. He doesn’t filter his language, and he doesn’t hesitate to flip someone the bird when they’ve earned it. Maybe I’m weird, but I find this kind of irreverence irresistible.

6. Jonah’s skeptical and analytical. His trust must be earned.

And, because Melina Marchetta portrays him, through Taylor’s eyes, like this:

“If you weren’t driving, I’d kiss you senseless,” I tell him.
He swerves to the side of the road and stops the car abruptly.
“Not driving any more.”

And this:

When I turn around, he cups my face in his hands and he kisses me so deeply that I don’t know who is breathing for who, but his mouth and tongue taste like warm honey. I don’t know how long it lasts, but when I let go of him, I miss it already.

And because he says things like this:

“I’m here because of you. You’re my priority. Your happiness, in some fucked way, is tuned in to mine. Get that through your thick skull. Would I like it any other way? Hell, yes, but I don’t think that will be happening in my lifetime.”

So, there you have him: Jonah Griggs, my YA hunk of choice.

Tell me: Who’s you ideal YA hunk?

Talk to me about…

…character-driven YA vs. plot-driven YA.

Just so we’re all on the same page, a character-driven novel is one that moves forward because of the protagonist, antagonist, and the decisions they make (most often romances or literary fiction–think Saving Francesca or The Sky is Everywhere). Conversely, a plot-driven story is propelled forward by circumstances, usually beyond the control of the protagonist (often historicals and fantasies–think The Hunger Games or Across the Universe). Although all novels have character growth and some semblance of story structure, most can be categorized as either character-driven or plot-driven.

While I read widely and enjoy books of all types, my tastes lean toward character-driven novels. I can appreciate a twisty, action-packed plot, but more often than not, my favorite books are those that are character-driven. I read to get lost in a new world and to get into the heads of fascinating people. I like to watch relationships develop and see characters grow and change and (hopefully) improve. After reading the final page of a novel, I most often find myself pondering the character arc before any other element of the story.

(Incidentally, the same can be said for my writing. I think about people first, story second. This, I suppose, is both a strength and a weakness. :))

Yes, thank you!

So… tell me:

  1. Do you prefer character-driven or plot driven stories? Why?
  2. What are your favorite character-driven novels? (Because I totally need MORE books to add to my TBR list!)

Class of 2011: YA Superlatives Blogfest DAY FOUR

Today is the final day of the The Class of 2011: YA Superlatives Blogfest, a fun and interactive way to highlight and share your favorite YA novels, covers, characters, and story elements, hosted by Jessica LoveTracey NeithercottAlison Miller, and me. The Class of 2011: YA Superlatives Blogfest spans four days, beginning December 26th and culminating today, December 30th.

Hopefully you’ve been participating throughout the week, but if not, that’s okay! Just draft today’s post (you can find the topics listed below or on the original post) and then scroll to the bottom of THIS post and add your link to the link list.

I’ve had so much fun dropping by the participants’ blogs this week, and I look forward to stopping by your blog to read about your Class of 2011 selections today!

And speaking of selections, here are mine for Day Four:

Best in Show

Again, my books published in 2011 Reading List:

Crossed, The Future of Us, Hushed, Want to Go Private?, The Scorpio Races, The Pledge, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Chain Reaction, Forgotten, Notes From the Blender, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, Ripple, Hourglass, A Need So Beautiful, Chime, The Day Before, Forever, Moonglass, Beauty Queens, Boyfriends With Girlfriends, Forbidden, Wither, Divergent, Invincible Summer, Trapped, Where She Went, We’ll Always Have Summer, Cryer’s Cross, Across the Universe, Desires of the Dead, Lola and the Boy Next Door, Imaginary Girls, and The Liar Society

And my favorites in the way of Best in Show:

Favorite Cover – I think the cover for Hourglass by Myra McIntyre is beautiful. I love the movement, the graceful point of the model’s foot, and her unusual hair color. I also love the  title font. Honorable Mentions: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children because it’s eerily intriguing, and Beauty Queens because it’s graphic and cheeky.

Cutest Couple – Luke and London from Cat Patrick’s Forgotten are so freaking sweet. Their relationship boasts  mutual adoration, tons of respect, and a big dose of fun, too. While Forgotten‘s plot is engaging, it was Luke and London’s interactions  that snagged my attention and kept me reading for the duration of this novel.

Most Likely to Succeed (Or, pick a Printz Winner) – Are you guys getting tired of hearing about Chime yet? Clearly Franny Billingsley’s novel had a huge impact on me. Of every book on my 2011 list, Chime is the one that, in my humble opinion, most exemplified literary excellence in young adult literature. Honorable Mentions: Divergent, The Scorpio Races, and Daughter of Smoke and Bone for their unbelievably thorough world-building and beautiful writing.

Most Likely to Make You Miss Your Bedtime – Veronica Roth’s Divergent is everything a page-turner should be. I was so connected to Tris and Four’s story, and so drawn in by their world, I could NOT put this book down. I still recommend it to anyone who asks for a great YA book or a fantastic dystopian read.

Best Repeat Performance (Favorite sequel or follow-up.) – An easy choice: Gayle Forman’s Where She Went, or My Most Anticipated Sequel EVER. Love the emotional intensity of this book, and I love how Adam and Mia’s story concluded.Honorable Mention: We’ll Always Have Summer. Belly totally ended up with who I wanted her to end up with!

Romance Most Worthy of an Ice Bath – Harlin and Charlotte from Suzanne Young’s A Need So Beautiful. These two are adorable, and they have chemistry that seeps through the page. Then there was that scene… you know, the one with the fancy dress and the–ahem–wall.  Honorable Mention: Violet and Jay from Kimberly Derting’s Desires of the Dead. They’re hot too. 🙂

Pair Most Likely to Stay Best Friends Till They’re 80 – Josh and Emma from The Future of Us. We’ve seen the future (thank you, Facebook!). We KNOW they’ll stay friends!


Breakout Novel (Favorite Book by a Debut Author) – Yep, Divergent again. This book rocks. Obviously. Honorable Mentions: Moonglass and Across the Universe. I honestly had a hard time believing Jessi Kirby and Beth Revis were debut novelists after reading their first books!

Best Old-Timer (Favorite read of the year, published BEFORE 2011) – Another easy choice. I read  Jellicoe Road this year and it broke me. Never have I envied another writer’s storytelling skills the way I envy Melina Marchetta’s, and never have I fallen so fully and completely for two characters as I did for Taylor and Jonah. Such an amazing book–a definite favorite!

Most Likely to Make a Grown Man Cry – I have it on good authority that “animal books” make men emotional. Take Where the Red Fern Grows, for example, or Stone Fox (hell, Stone Fox made ME cry!). That’s why I have to go with The Scorpio Races. The bond between Sean and his horse Corr is enough to make any man (anybody) weepy.

Most Pleasant Surprise (Book you didn’t think you’d like, but totally did.) – Laini Taylor’s The Daughter of Smoke and Bone, for sure. As a rule, I don’t like fantasy, and I definitely don’t like “angel” books. Plus, the mention of teeth in the back cover synopsis totally skeeved me out. I was wrong, of course. I ADORE this book.

Most Creative Use of a Love Triangle – The “triangle” in Ally Condie’s Crossed is pretty lopsided (Cassia’s not really wavering in who she wants), but there’s an element of loyalty and romance between both she and Ky, and she and Xander. What I love about this triangle is how it’s used in plot twists and in the bigger picture of what’s going on within the Society. Win.

Sleeper Hit (Book I found so awesome I wish it had been hyped more) – Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma. This book was a trip. I wasn’t quite sure what was real and what wasn’t, and I didn’t know what to think about Ruby (or Chloe or London, for that matter) until the very end. Plus, the writing was, as I’ve mentioned, gorgeous.

And now it’s MY turn to pick a superlative! Leave me a note in the comments telling me your:

Most anticipated 2012 YA release…

I’ll tell you mine next week, and I’ll post about your selections. 🙂 

And if you’re participating in the Class of 2011: YA Superlative Blogfest, please click on the image below to drop your link: