YA Superlative Blogfest: Best In Show

Today is the last day of the YA Superlative Blogfest! We hope you enjoy this last installment!

Click for more info!

Be sure to check out the other participants' picks by checking the linky on Katy, Jessica, Tracey, or Alison's pages.

The topic is BEST IN SHOW, and we've got a show for you.

Favorite Cover: Wither by Lauren DeStefano - This book has a gorgeous cover not only for the picture, but for the exterior ornamental designs that carry on inside the book.  That's some fiiiine design work.

Cutest Couple:
Platonic: SEAN KENDRICK & CORR from The Scorpio Races - They are the BOY and HIS HORSE, an archetypal pair about friendship and trust. Their bond was moving.  Even Alz, who never had a horse phase, was moved by their bond.

Romantic: NICK RYVES & MAE CRAWFORD from The Demon's Surrender - Because let's face it, Mae's stubbornness and spunk is the only thing that can withstand Nick's lack of empathetic ability and black, demon eyes. And she's bossy and we think Nick secretly likes being bossed around. And this exchange proves that they totally get each other.

“Sometimes I feel better around you. I kind of like your face." -Nick, The Demon's Covenant

[After Nick has just suffered a defeat] "I came to show you my face." - Mae, The Demon's Surrender (because she thought it'd make him feel better)

Most Likely to Succeed: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater - This book will not be everyone's cup of tea; indeed, it was very much Krispy's cup of tea and not so much Alz's, but even Alz acknowledges that this is a good book.  It's slow and steady-paced right up until the race at the end, as is only fitting; the language is at once spare and beautiful in its sparseness; and the themes of family, bonds, and courage are at the heart of this horse-and-rider story.  This isn't a buzzword book nor an appeal to the mass market, but there's something about its qualities that make it a winner.

Boy and Horses at the Beach
(c) Saguaro Pictures on flikr - Click picture to see more from this photographer

Most Likely to Make You Miss Your Bedtime (The book you just couldn’t put down!): The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan - Again, not quite YA, but this was the book we both blazed through. Our anticipation for the return of our favorite teen demigod made reading this book a race to find out where he had been and what he was going to do now.  This second book of the series also had more interesting and dynamic characters and better pacing than the first book.

Best Repeat Performance (Your favorite sequel or follow-up.): The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan - like we said, we were REALLY excited to see Percy again, and boy did not disappoint!

Goliath by Scott Westerfeld - This was a wonderful wrap up for a thrilling, nation-hopping trilogy, and finally, after 2 books, Alek & Deryn see each other as they really, truly are.

  • Honorable Mention: The Demon's Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan - What a satisfying yet not-too-pat resolution to a trilogy full of magic and amazing, layered characters. The characters! How we will miss them!  This one gets an honorable mention since we actually liked the second book of the trilogy most--which is not to say that Demon's Surrender wasn't also amazing.

Romance Most Worthy of an Ice Bath: ADAM & JULIETTE from Shatter Me - We're actually not totally sold on their romance, but goodness, did these two have some sizzling chemistry when they touched. In particular, we're talking about that scene in the shower. Yeah, you know the one. Tahereh Mafi's unique writing style was pitch-perfect here.

Pair Most Likely to Stay Best Friends Till They’re 80: PUCK & SEAN from The Scorpio Races - Whether together romantically or not, these two have the compatibility to weather all the storms and flesh-eating horses of Thisby. They both love the island and their horses, and they care about the same sorts of things.  They will grow old together on Thisby with horses and water horses, Sean largely wordless because words aren't always necessary and with Puck as full of spit and vinegar as ever.

Breakout Novel (Favorite Book by a Debut Author):

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake - We're actually not entirely sure if this is Kendare's debut, but it certainly was her first book in YA horror and she did a fabulous job with this book. It was funny, quick-paced, and scary with a charismatic main character and engaging supporting characters. All in all, an enjoyable read! We're excited for Book 2: Girl of Nightmares.

Best Old-Timer (Your favorite read of the year, published BEFORE 2011):
Graceling by Kristin Cashore - [Krispy's read] HOW did I not read this book until this year? It's high fantasy with a badass heroine, well-developed character arcs, and an intriguing plot. I need to read Fire asap, and then control my excitement for Bitterblue in 2012!

Armageddon Summer - [Alz's read] This YA novel by Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville was published some years ago but is still a fantastic read concerning belief and disbelief in everything from family to religion to love to armageddon.  All handled from two first-person POVs, the girl who is forced to take care of her siblings and the boy who feels it is his duty to look after his father.

Most Pleasant Surprise (The best book you didn’t think you’d like, but totally did):

Matched by Ally Condie - [Krispy's read, but not published in 2011] The blurb didn't grab me at all because it sounded like it was only a love triangle stretched over 300-some pages. But I read it because I won a copy, and I ended up really liking it. Yes, it's still mostly focused on the love triangle, but there was more. The utopian/dystopian setting was interesting and the theme was as much about love as it was about choice. The scariest part was I could easily see myself being content in a world like The Society, much like Cassia is at the start of the tale.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater - [Alz's read] I like horses all right but I never had a horse phase, and I had some strange misconceptions about what the book was actually about--plus my reading tastes lean more toward straight-up fantasy and/or dystopian than contemporary-slice-of-life-with-a-magical-element. So while I didn't think I'd hate The Scorpio Races or anything, I wasn't expecting much. And my expectations were beyond exceeded, for the book turned out to be a good, solid, enjoyable read.

Sleeper Hit (Book you found so awesome you wish it had been hyped more): Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake - We hadn't heard much about this book but it was October and we thought a scary read might be fun!  So Krispy picked up Anna from the library, read it, loved it, and passed it on to Alz, who read it and loved it just as much.  Horror is not really our preferred reading genre, but we do love the TV show Supernatural and Anna Dressed in Blood is right along those lines.

And our TWO self-chosen categories are...

Book That Deserves to Be Mentioned Here Just Because: I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen - It's not YA and it's a picture book, but trust us, this picture book is not just for kids!

Favorite Read of 2011:

Krispy's Pick

It was a tough call, but I loved this book to pieces. Bitty, bitty pieces.

Alz's Pick

This is a beautifully-written beautifully-set book with some beautiful characters.  Lots and lots of beauty. I had a few issues, but nothing so major as to dull my sparkly beautiful enjoyment.

Thanks for coming by during the blogfest! We hope you enjoyed this fun way of winding down 2011. Have a safe and Happy New Year, everyone!

What are your picks for these categories?

Superlative Blogfest RECAP:
Head of Class
Elements of Fiction


Connie Keller said...

I totally agree with your pick for best cover. The Wither art was gorgeous.

Tracey Neithercott said...

I agree with so many of these. Oh, and that exchange from The Demon's Surrender is adorable. It makes me want to read the series.

Oh, and BRILLIANT addition of Sean and Corr. They're so perfect for that spot!

Jessica Love said...

I am really kicking myself for forgetting about Shatter Me for the Ice Bath category. Bah.

Marquita Hockaday said...

Definitely adding Anna Dressed in Blood to my list of books I must read--very soon!

Anonymous said...

I have GOT to read Scorpio Races! The Wither cover was pretty awesome.

Alison Miller said...

Scorpio Races is my next buy. Must read!

And a book that deserves mention just because: Swim the Fly by Don Calame - totally hilarious! It's like a slightly PG version of American Pie at swim school.

Lydia Kang said...

The cover of Wither has the geneology graphics on it. IT's not just cool, it's relevant. That's another reason why it rocks.

Great picks! I'm reading Graceling right now, and hope to read DOSAB soon. Happy New Years guys!

Angela Brown said...

I like you pick for best cover. It took the trend of 'girl in gown' and gave it more, surrounded it with meaning from the book itself. Wonderful pick.

Laurie Dennison said...

Great picks! We had a few of the same ones. Also, I love Graceling so much! I can't wait for Bitterblue!

Katy Upperman said...

Agreed: WITHER's cover is lovely. I have heard so much today about SHATTER ME's steaminess. I clearly need to get my hands on that book! As far as a book that must be mentioned just because: Rebecca Stead's WHEN YOU REACH ME. It wasn't pubbed in 2011 and it's not YA, but oh-my-gosh I adored that book. It gave me chills! And my favorite of 2011? Probably DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, though CHIME and THE SCORPIO RACES are very close seconds.

Thanks so much for joining in on the blogfest! I had so much fun reading about your choices each day! :)

Anonymous said...

I love Wither's cover and I'm really curious about The Scorpio Races.

Happy New Year!

Emy Shin said...

After hearing about THE SCORPIO RACES from both Erin Bowman & Krispy -- I'm definitely reading this book now.

And yay for DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE being Alz's favorite book this year. Despite a few problems I have with it, it's totally my favorite, too. :)

Theresa Milstein said...

Wither does have a gorgeous cover. I thought Hourglass had a pretty cover too.