YA Superlative Blogfest 2013: Best in Show

We're on to the final day of the YA Superlatives Blogfest! I'm kind of sad, but my TBR list is brimming!

About the blogfest: The Class of 2013: YA Superlative Blogfest will run Monday, December 16th – Thursday, December 19th and will highlight our favorite books of 2013. This year, the lovely hosts Jessica Love, Tracey Neithercott, Alison Miller, and Katy Upperman will also be giving away books to bloggers who participate in all 4 days of the fest. Click the banner for more info!

If you join in, don't forget to link up at one of the host blogs! There's a prize for participating every day!

*Disclaimer: We tried to choose books published in 2013, but as we didn't read that many 2013 releases some of these might not be from 2013. Also, some books had their last book in the series pubbed in 2013.

The topic is Best in Show!

Favorite Cover

Krispy's Pick: Because I love the type-dominated design and the perfectly moody imagery.

Type by Simon Alander / Designed by Nancy R. Leo-Kelly
Alz's Pick: Because I do love me some winged things, and the colors and arrangement combined with the title make for a gorgeously ethereal and evocative whole.

Jacket art by Chiara Fersini / Jacket design by Kristin Smith

Honorable Mention (Krispy's): I didn't get around to reading TAKEN, but I freaking love the cover design. Like the combination of bright colors and sleek sci-fi-y imagery somehow works, and goodness that raised K in the title!

Photography by Alisdair Miller & Howard Huang /
Designed by Alison Donalty and Erin Fitzsimmons

Cutest Couple

Alz's Pick:  Frenenqer and Sangris from The Girl with Borrowed Wings by Rinsai Rossetti because the book is all about her, and them, and how they are.  She's been bound up in so many psychological and social restrictions her entire life and he teaches her to shake free her shackles and grow.  Also, they're just super cute together.

Krispy's multi-picks: I actually couldn't really pick so here we are.

Honorable Mention: From The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, Blue and Noah not as like an actual couple but because of their cute friendship, but specifically A SCENE from this book. Also,  The Gray Man and Blue's mom Maura had an unexpectedly sweet relationship.

Most Likely to Succeed (Or, pick a Printz Winner.)

Krispy's Pick: The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta because they are amazing (and Marchetta has already won a Printz, though not for these books)


Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn, which has already been nominated for a number of awards including being chosen as a finalist for YALSA's 2014 William C. Morris award.

Alz's Pick: The Girl with Borrowed Wings by Rinsai Rossetti because it's just poetically striking and moves worlds with the rhythm of its words.  Really, I love it a lot.  Which is why it's showing up all over Superlatives.

Most Likely to Make You Miss Your Bedtime (Book you just couldn’t put down!)

Krispy's Pick: I read a lot of page-turners this year, but for some reason I just could not put down Kendare Blake's Antigoddess.

Maybe it's because Blake writes a good plot (remember Anna Dressed in Blood?)  or maybe I just really love Greek Mythology (I do), but I blasted through this book in 2 days and then wished I had the next.

Alz's Pick: The Girl with Borrowed Wings by Rinsai Rossetti - I tore through this sucker in one sitting, which is pretty amazing since usually "plotless" books tend to be not that gripping for me.  But this, this was gripping.  I wanted it to never end.

Best Repeat Performance (Your favorite sequel or follow-up.) 

Krispy & Alz's pick:

Krispy's Pick 2: As a runner-up, I actually really enjoyed Siege & Storm, which was pleasant because I hadn't been that enamored of Shadow & Bone.

Alz's Pick 2: Dandelion Fire by N.D. Wilson - So technically this book is MG, not YA, nor was it published this year, but it really was a great book that didn't suffer at all from midquel-itis.  Although it is a fairly chunky book at nearly 500 pages and some parts were a bit slow, everything built up and the momentum in the end meant the story was a fireball hurtling forward.  I found the first book to be a lot slower, though it was worth it in the end; this sequel was much better overall.

Favorite Finale or End of Series Novel

Krispy's pick: ALL THE FEELS. Perfect ending to an extraordinary fantasy trilogy.

[Fan art by Cassandra Jean]

Romance Most Worthy of an Ice Bath
(Krispy only)

1) I wouldn't characterize the whole romance of the main couple this way, but in soon-to-be-released Control, there's this scene at a nightclub that is just... it is something else and all kinds of, uh, delirium-making.

2) Tana and Gavriel in The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - again, not exactly on fire the whole time, but there is definitely a delectable kind of tension between these two and when that finally bubbles over? Well, it's "as dangerous as daybreak."

Breakout Novel (Your favorite book by a debut author.)

Krispy's Pick(s): Tie - Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (for its voice and beautiful writing) and Charm & Strange (for its taut craft and unflinching depth).

Alz's Pick: You'll never guess that I'm picking The Girl with Borrowed Wings for this category because reasons.  I just hope Rinsai Rossetti is working on another breathtakingly beautiful book as I type this.

Honorable Mention: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill because I (Krispy) did really enjoy it and I think I haven't given it enough props. Time travel that is not crazy-making is hard to do, and the premise of this book is amazing.

Best Old-Timer (Your favorite read of the year, published BEFORE 2013.)

Krispy's Pick: The Lumatere Chronicles - Quintana was the only book published this year and that was only in the U.S.!

Alz's Pick: The Girl with Borrowed Wings was technically published July 2012.  I wish I had read it then so I could've known how awesome it was all the sooner.

Book Most Likely to Make a Grown Man Cry
(Krispy only)

The Lumatere Chronicles gave me all the feels. I probably got a little sniffly at points.

Most Pleasant Surprise (Best book you didn’t think you’d like, but totally did.)

Krispy's Pick: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand. It's a pre-2013 book, I know, but I finally read it this year despite years of wariness and disinterest. I'd been burned by far too many angel books and this one had a love triangle (always tricky)! Surprisingly, I liked it and I want to continue the series!

Alz's Pick: The Girl with Borrowed Wings has a book blurb that was only kind of interesting to me, mostly because of the mention of winged shapeshifters and not so much the blurb-bits about a girl searching for her identity and struggling to free herself from etc.  It basically sounded like the type of book that I don't really go out of my way to read.  But it had an intriguing title and a beautiful cover and, as is my wont, I skimmed the first few pages to see how the writing was.  The writing was fascinating and beautiful, so I took the book home from the library and never regretted it.

Most Creative Use of a Love Triangle

The Dream Thieves because there are a lot of compelling boys and one complex girl with a heavy prophecy hanging over her when it comes to her love life. What will happen with this ever changing polygon of love?

Honorable Mention (Krispy's): The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson. There's a love triangle, sort of, and it's also not what you think. A fascinating look at different kinds of love - between friends, lovers, artists, and between people and places.

Sleeper Hit (Book you found so awesome you wish it had been hyped more.)

Krispy's Pick: Antigoddess by Kendare Blake! With all the love for her horror books featuring the ghostly Anna Dressed in Blood, I was surprised there didn't seem to be as much buzz/excitement for her newest series The Goddess Wars. Maybe the Greek myth retelling thing was not so popular?

Athena by Cassandra Jean (though not specifically
as fan art for Antigoddess).
In any case, Blake brings her horror chops to this mythological adventure, and she reinvents the gods in interesting ways. I loved it! And I loved Hermes and Athena, and that Kendare Blake wrote some of my other Classical favorites in too (but I won't ruin which of them for you)!

Alz's Pick: The Girl with Borrowed Wings. I'm not going to cheapen this any by admitting that I read far fewer books this year than last--oh wait, I just did.  But even if I had read more, this book still would have taken the cake, hell, the entire dessert buffet, because it was just that awesome.  I'm running out of gushy things to say.

Favorite Outlier (Your favorite middle grade or adult 2013 book)

Krispy's Pick: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Adult book) because it was a page-turner. I could not stop reading about these dysfunctional people and their psychological games, even though they were such terrible people.

Alz's Pick: Dandelion Fire by N.D. Wilson (MG book) was, as I mentioned previously, pretty dang riveting with many more good and interesting and terrible things happening than in the first book.

Pick Your Own Superlative: (Real) Oldie but Goodie

Krispy's Pick: Dragon's Bait by Vivian Vande Velde. Loved this as a tween because it had dragons and revenge and a sort-of romance? Also, Selendrile was a total babe. Upon my re-read this year, I found I still loved all these things...and that Selendrile is still a total babe.


Alz's Pick: The Boxcar Children #1 by Gertrude Chandler.  Loved this as a child.  Read it again as an adult and still loved it.  I've read quite a few in this quintessential children's series, but the first book has always been my favorite.

Q4U: What are your picks for these categories?

And that's it for this year's YA Superlative blogfest! Thanks for joining us, and we hope you found some new books to put on your TBR piles!

We probably won't be blogging again until after Christmas. So until then, have happy and safe holidays! EAT ALL THE FOOD! Here's a bonus majestic!Loki.

YA Superlative Blogfest recap:
Head Of Class
Popularity Contest
Elements of Fiction


YA Superlative Blogfest 2013: Elements of Fiction

There's no What's Up Wednesday today because we're on to Day 3 of the YA Superlatives Blogfest!

About the blogfest: The Class of 2013: YA Superlative Blogfest will run Monday, December 16th – Thursday, December 19th and will highlight our favorite books of 2013. This year, the lovely hosts Jessica Love, Tracey Neithercott, Alison Miller, and Katy Upperman will also be giving away books to bloggers who participate in all 4 days of the fest. Click the banner for more info!

If you join in, don't forget to link up at one of the host blogs! There's a prize for participating every day!

*Disclaimer: We tried to choose books published in 2013, but as we didn't read that many 2013 releases some of these might not be from 2013. Also, some books had their last book in the series pubbed in 2013.

The topic is Elements of Fiction!

Most Envy-Inducing Plot (Or, the plot you wish you’d thought of yourself.)

Krispy's pick: The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta basically makes me never want to write fantasy again because they're just so darn good. The plots are riveting, the characters compelling, and the world of Skuldenore is just so well-realized. Don't even get me started on the complex themes!

Alz's pick: The Girl with Borrowed Wings by Rinsai Rossetti doesn't have a plot as such--it's more of a character-development-and-exploration piece.  In fact, it almost goes out of its way to not have a plot, which is why it works--the narrator's psychological issues, relationships, and personal growth shine all the more for not being mired in plot.

Most Formidable World (Or, the setting you definitely would NOT want to visit.)

Krispy's pick: In the world of Dualed, if you live in the city of Kersh (like the MC does), you have to kill your Alt before your Alt kills you. So while daily life seems like it's okay overall, you'd have to kill or be killed, and you might get accidentally killed by Alt-vs-Alt crossfire. The motto of the city is "Be the one. Be worthy." Nope, count me out.

Cover art from DIVIDED, upcoming sequel to DUALED. [Source: MTV Geek First Look]

Alz's pick: Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve takes place in a far, far future version of our world where cities are mobile and scuttle across the land, devouring weaker cities to fuel themselves.  It takes survival of the fittest to a whole new level, and really, you're screwed either way--seems like the cities (and towns and villages) are getting scarcer after centuries of predation so even if you're in a pretty big city like London, you still have to live with the worry that someday soon a bigger, hungrier city is going to eat you whole.  Also, if you live on the ground, you're pretty much screwed too because all the mobile cityfolk hate you.  Thank you, I'll take living in the comparatively far, far past over that eat-or-run lifestyle.

Wanderlust-Inducing (Or, the setting you’d happily travel to.)

[Source: April Tucholke's pinterest]
Krispy's pick: The small seaside town and crumbling mansion in April Tucholke's Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is straight out of a gothic novel and thus equal parts creepy and dreamy. But even with the creep factor, there's something so beautiful and romantic about the windswept cliffs and Violet's nook-filled home, the Citizen. I would love to spend an afternoon with Violet playing dress-up and listening to old records while sipping espresso in the Citizen's attic.

Alz's pick: The Girl with Borrowed Wings by Rinsai Rossetti is just all over my Superlatives this year, ain't it?  And it's because everything about this book was so gorgeous.  The desert is beautiful and the worlds that Frenenqer (yes, that's her name) travels to are strange and beautiful too.  I'd love to borrow her borrowed wings sometime.

Honorable Mentions: Henrietta from The Dream Thieves is, as ever and always, an atmospheric place, with lush magical forests and not-quite-as-picturesque-as-it-seems small-town life.   Just One Day was actual wanderlust-inducing because of all the traveling and romance in the real world. Paris! Amsterdam!

Loveliest Prose

The Dream Thieves because it's Maggie Stiefvater and she strings words together in wondrous and beautiful ways. Every book seems to bring new descriptions and turns of phrase for us to ponder and admire.

Krispy's pick 2: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea gets a shout-out here because the writing really is lovely. The settings are characters themselves, and Violet's voice is what carries the whole tale.



Best First Line

Krispy's Pick: From Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea:
You stop fearing the Devil when you're holding his hand.

Alz's Pick: From The Girl with Borrowed Wings:
I am unlike most other people because I began, not in the body of my mother, but in the brain of my father.

Most Dynamic Main Character

Krispy's pick: Quintana from Quintana of Charyn - There are a number of characters I could put here just from The Lumatere Chronicles, but I picked Quintana because she is one of the most unusual characters I've come across. I didn't always like her and like the other characters in the book, I didn't always know what to make of her. But in Marchetta's skilled hands, Quintana comes across as a multifaceted character. She is damaged, wild, selfless, violent, strong, vulnerable, and maybe half-mad, but she also turns out to be one of the most dynamic and heroic characters of the trilogy.

Alz's pick: Cassie from The 5th Wave - I'll be honest, I couldn't even remember Cassie's name when Krispy and I were discussing our picks for this category.  But what stuck with me was the fact that Cassie was a typical teen girl with her whims and high school woes, who was then forced to become a lone survivor in an apocalyptic alien-invaded world.  It's been hard on her and hardened her, and yet she still retains her teenagery-ness and some truly admirable spirit despite the pretty damn awful turns her life has taken.


Most Jaw-Dropping Ending (Krispy's only, because Alz hasn't read anything this year where the ending totally blew her away)

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson- I pretty much can't say anything except that while this ending wasn't wholly unexpected, it was so beautifully and movingly done. It was triumph and tragedy and magnificently symbolic. It gave me chills.

Honorable Mention: The Lumatere Chronicles because it gave me ALL THE FEELS, and though Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn isn't YA, I needed to mention this here because that book was all kinds of W-T-F. But in a good way!

Best Performance in a Supporting Role

Krispy's pick: The Lumatere Chronicles - I just love everyone, okay? Can we give an award for best ensemble cast? Because they're great. Main characters become supporting characters and vice versa, but they all work together to create this amazing patchwork whole.

Alz's pick (Krispy agrees too): Sturmhond from Siege & Storm by Leigh Bardugo - He's handsome and blond and piratey and charming and all those good things that make him instantly likable, but beneath that roguish exterior there are some hidden depths.

Best Use of Theme

Krispy's pick: Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn is a finely focused novel. Everything is about character and theme, so it was a no-brainer pick for this category. From the imagery to the metaphors and motifs used, everything serves Win's story and explores the idea of survival and grief.

Seriously, just read my full review of Charm & Strange to see all the THEME flailing I did over this (because I love themes).

Alz's pick: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater is all about family.  And love.  And secrets.  Like, what happens when you keep them even when you shouldn't, or don't understand them.  And what happens when you don't keep them.  And especially what happens when said secrets involve family and love.  They all weave together into one complex and intriguing thematic tapestry.

Honorable mentions: 1) The Lumatere Chronicles because one of the reasons these books stand out is the incredibly mature themes -about diaspora, national & cultural identity, faith, feminism, and sacrifice just to name a few. 2) The Coldest Girl in Coldtown because there are vampires and the vampirism is used to explore themes of love, mortality, identity, humanity, and monstrosity.

Who would you put in these categories?  Join us again tomorrow!

YA Superlative Blogfest recap:
Head Of Class
Popularity Contest


YA Superlative Blogfest 2013: Popularity Contest

Welcome to Day 2 of the 2013 YA Superlatives Blogfest!

About the blogfest: The Class of 2013: YA Superlative Blogfest will run Monday, December 16th – Thursday, December 19th and will highlight our favorite books of 2013. This year, the lovely hosts Jessica Love, Tracey Neithercott, Alison Miller, and Katy Upperman will also be giving away books to bloggers who participate in all 4 days of the fest. Click the banner for more info!

If you join in, don't forget to link up at one of the host blogs! There's a prize for participating every day!

*Disclaimer: We tried to choose books published in 2013, but as we didn't read that many 2013 releases and today's topic allows us to pick characters from ANY YA book we read this year.

The topic is Popularity Contest!

Most Likely to Become a Rock Star

Krispy's Pick: June from The Summer Prince. She's not a musician, but she's a budding artist who wants to make a difference, and in the course of her journey, she does become something of a Palmares TrĂªs celebrity for her activist art.

Alz's Pick: Lena Mattacascar from The Peculiars. Lena's not exactly what you'd immediately think of as a rock star, figuratively or literally, but this girl has the willpower, the brains, and a certain Victorian drama that enable her to get a great many things accomplished and figured out, when push comes to shove.

Most Likely to Start a Riot: Ronan from The Dream Thieves / Alina from Siege & Storm

We always knew Ronan was the troublemaker in the Raven Boys, and with the increased focus on him in The Dream Thieves, we definitely saw more of that reckless streak in him. Though he has much hidden depth, his devil-may-care badass exterior certainly suggests he's capable of starting a riot.

Alina by Ardawling [Source: ardawling.deviantart.com]

Alina from Siege & Storm (Book 2 of the Grisha Trilogy) has always been a controversial figure, but she is more so in this book than in the former. Her actions in Shadow & Bone have made her into something of a national idol, complete with a fanatic following. In fact, at one point in Siege & Storm, we think she does (accidentally) start a riot!

Biggest Flirt: Willem De Ruiter from Just One Day

I think anyone who has read the Just One Day and Just One Year duology would agree with this - Willem is a lady's man. Even when he's not purposefully flirting, he's flirting. That's just his thing. He's freaking charming.

Back cover art for CoM.
[Source: Sarah Maas' LJ]

Fashion King and/or Queen: Celaena from Crown of Midnight

We're pretty sure Celaena took the crown for this category last year too. So it's no surprise she is still reigning fashion queen, especially in this follow-up book to Throne of Glass. Since then, Celaena has been out shopping, and we are spared no detail when it comes to some of her more fabulous frocks.

But seriously, this girl should probably have a couture fashion runway installed in her closet.

Honorable mention: Violet from Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea because she's an artsy, cool, vintage-dressing girl. It also helps that she had a cool, socialite grandmother who left an attic full of chic clothes.

Girl You’d Most Want For Your BFF: Tana from The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

I admire Tana because she is a normal girl thrust into the worst circumstances (and I mean, the worst) and not only does she manage to make the best of it, she sort of kicks those circumstances in the teeth. She is arguably the least powerful character in the main cast, but she is tough as nails and smart. She cares about her friends and family and has empathy for even those society has deemed monstrous.

Basically, if I were infected and in danger of going Cold, I'd want her to be by my side because with her, I'd have a chance of coming out of it alive.

Honorable Mention: Vera from Lydia Kang's upcoming Control. Control will be out later this month, but we were lucky enough to borrow an ARC to read. We don't want to give anything away, but Vera is kind of great, though she comes off prickly in the beginning. Confident, loyal girls, ftw!

Boy You Wish You’d Dated in High School:

Krispy's pick: Sturmhond from Siege & Storm, and I really can't say much more than that because of spoilers. As much as I love the Darkling, I'm not sure I would want to date him, especially since he seems pre-occupied with his grandiose political plans and um, more volatile than usual in this book. Sturmhond has ambitions too, but he seems much more, uh, emotionally stable. Plus, it helps that he's charming and handsome as well.

Alz's pick: Liam from The Darkest Minds - I've said it before and I'll say it again.  This boy is a nice boy, decent and trusting and conscientious and courteous and caring.  Like, for real, if I were going to be facing a dystopian apocalypse, I'd rather have Liam as my love interest than 90% of the other YA love interests in his genre--I mean, he's such a great guy, I'd choose him apocalypse or not.

ALSO: Sangris from The Girl with Borrowed Wings ties in this category because he's just such a delightfully different and free guy who incidentally is a shapeshifting world traveler and can be quite devoted and quite mischievous at the same time.  Gotta love 'im.

Honorable Mention: The Raven Boys from The Dream Thieves for obvious reasons.

Fanart of The Raven Boys by Cassandra Jean [Source: Cassandra Jean's tumblr]

  • Gavriel from The Coldest Girl in Coldtown needs to be mentioned here too because I just loved him, even though he's not exactly someone you can or should trust. He's a monster, and he knows it. It's just hard to keep that in mind because he's so endearing too.

Most Likely to Become President:

Krispy's pick: The Darkling from The Grisha Trilogy - political ambitions, charisma, and crazy powers? He's got them.

Also, I have a secondary pick of Evanjalin from The Lumatere Chronicles. I won't say more in case there's anyone new to the trilogy, but this is a girl with a will of steel and a clear sense of purpose. She is one of my favorite heroines.

Alz's pick: June from Prodigy because, well, I think we chose her last year too, because this girl is on a fast-track to political power with with her prodigy-ness, family background, and government/rebel ties.  No matter which side she's on, it's more than likely that she'll end up in a seat of power, though honestly speaking I see her more as the power behind the throne.

Villain You Love to Hate:

Krispy's pick: The Darkling from the Grisha Trilogy - and actually, it's more like I love to love him. I think I said this last year too... Darkness never dies (and neither does my Team Darkling allegiance)!

Fan-favorite casting of Sean O'Pry as the Darkling.
[Source: The Fashionisto /Armani Jeans FW 2012]

Alz's pick (and Krispy agrees): A certain guy from Control.  Can't say because of spoilers, but this guy is really bastard-level evil and manipulative.  Like, it's not even like "love" to hate, it's I fricking hate this guy.  He's not the type of antagonist whose appearance you relish and hope continues to pop up throughout the story; he's the type of antagonist you want killed utterly, permanently dead forever.

Honorable Mention: (Krispy's pick) I had to include Gillian Flynn's characters, even though her books are not YA, because Flynn has managed to make me invested in the outcome of characters I almost entirely dislike. I read both Sharp Objects and Gone Girl this year, and I can honestly say, I didn't really like any of the people populating those pages. But were they complex and compelling? YES. I couldn't put these books down.

Favorite Parental Figure:

Krispy's pick (and Alz agrees): Blue's family in The Dream Thieves. We love the psychic women of Henrietta and were glad to see them take a bigger role in this 2nd Raven Cycle book. They're weird and quirky, but they obviously care deeply about each other and about Blue.

Alz's pick: Canny's mom in Mortal Fire.  I had a lot of issues and mixed feelings about Mortal Fire as a novel, but Canny's mom (whose name escapes me at the moment) is extremely badass.  In her youth, she was a civilian war hero; currently she is a very grand and rather haughty woman who loves her daughter very much and knows her extremely well, even if her methods of expression occasionally leave something to be desired.  Theirs is a somewhat unconventional mother-daughter relationship, but it was well-done and heartfelt.

Honorable mention: (Krispy's pick) There are so many characters in The Lumatere Chronicles that I want to tell you about, but you should just read this amazing trilogy. Of the many parental figures, I loved Trevanion & his Guard because not only were they parental figures to Finnikin (Trevanion's actual son), they acted as guardians to so many of the trilogy's main characters. They were a part of one of many created families.

Coolest Nerd: Gansey from The Dream Thieves.

His loft and his journal is what we hope our nerding out would look like if we had a ginormous fortune, a flock of similarly-minded cohorts, and all the time in the world.

Who would you put in these categories?  Join us again for Day 3!

YA Superlative Blogfest recap:
Head Of Class


YA Superlative Blogfest 2013: Head of Class

It's Monday and there's a blog post! Why? Because it's Day 1 of the 2013 YA Superlatives Blogfest!

About the blogfest: The Class of 2013: YA Superlative Blogfest will run Monday, December 16th – Thursday, December 19th and will highlight our favorite books of 2013. This year, the lovely hosts Jessica Love, Tracey Neithercott, Alison Miller, and Katy Upperman will also be giving away books to bloggers who participate in all 4 days of the fest. Click the banner for more info!

If you join in, don't forget to link up at one of the host blogs! There's a prize for participating every day!

*Disclaimer: We tried to choose books published in 2013, but it's possible we used some older books since we were both more diverse in our reading this year. In some cases, it was the last book in a series that came out in 2013, but we may talk about the series as a whole.

The topic of the day is HEAD OF CLASS, and we're sharing our favorite 2013 YA books.


Favorite Dystopian: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken & Dualed by Elsie Chapman


Alz: I had some plausibility detail issues with The Darkest Minds, and really there wasn't much of a plot since 80% of the book was wandering around/traveling, but I have to admit that it was pretty gripping while reading.  Also, the romance aspect was definitely much better done than typical YA dystopia as it wasn't insta-love and the dude love interest wasn't douchey, angsty, or stalker-possessive.  He was actually a nice guy.

Krispy: I had a few issues with Dualed, much of which ended up being the fault of preconceptions I had going into the book. I expected Dualed to follow the path of many a YA dystopian before it, but the book didn't and once I let my own expectations go, it was a fun ride.

You can get my full thoughts by looking at my full review of Dualed.

Favorite Science Fiction: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

16101128Alz: Krispy loooooved this book way more than I did, one of the few instances where we disagree by more than a star's worth on Goodreads.  Nonetheless, I enjoyed The Fifth Wave even if I found it to be predictable and not really anything new as far as the alien invasion aspect goes.  It had interesting characters, tons of action, and post-apocalyptic survival.

Krispy: There was a lot of hype for this one, which always makes me wary. But once I started this book, I could hardly put it down. It was thrilling and epic and also quite moving in parts. This one was a bit of a genre bender too because it's quite post-apocalyptic and action-y/adventure-y.


Favorite Fantasy: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

You might remember from last year's Superlatives blogfest that both of us loved Maggie Stiefvater's 1st Raven Cycle book, The Raven Boys. This year's follow-up The Dream Thieves was no exception. We actually read quite a few great fantasy novels this year, but the reason this one takes the top spot is the fact that though we may not know (or have any idea) where the story is going, we would follow these characters anywhere. The premise is unique, the world-building seamless, and the characters are each so complex and distinct, with equal amounts wit and heart and despair. We can't wait to see what they'll discover.

Pick 2 for Alz: The Girl with Borrowed Wings by Rinsai Rossetti - This book doesn't have a plot, and so the hints of bigger worlds and fantastic creatures remain mostly hints--the focus is on the protagonist and her relationships with people like her psychologically abusive father, her expressionless closest-thing-to-a-friend, and the free-spirited shapeshifter who learns as much from her as she teaches him.  The complexities of character interaction coupled with some truly beautiful and poetic writing made for one astonished but happy Alz, who is normally disinterested in plotless/contemporary romance books.

Pick 2 for Krispy: The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta - I was a complete Marchetta newbie until this year when I finally read Finnikin of the Rock, Book 1 in The Lumatere Chronicles. I was completely blown away by how mature the themes were (how many fantasy books discuss the effects of diaspora on a people's national and cultural identity?) and how deftly Marchetta navigated the well-trod waters of traditional fantasy while handling a big ensemble cast and multiple story lines. The storytelling in this trilogy is masterful. I have never cared so much about so many different people in one series, and she made me feel for them all. She made me change my mind about characters I didn't even like!

Favorite Contemporary: The Girl with Borrowed Wings by Rinsai Rossetti and Just One Day by Gayle Forman


Alz: I already gushed above about The Girl with Borrowed Wings.  I just really unexpectedly loved it.  There it was on the library shelf with its cool title and pretty cover and I picked it up and read a few pages and was like, Hey, this is pretty well-written, and I took it home and I read it and I loved it and now I actually own a copy because it just hit all the right notes and didn't try to be anything other than what it was.  Ah!

Krispy: I read a bit more Contemporary this year than usual, but the one that moved me the most was probably Just One Day. It sounds like a typical contemp-romance, but it turns into a story about how sometimes chance encounters can transform a person's life. I related a lot to Allyson's struggles and her feelings of being sort of stuck in her life. And it's Gayle Forman, so the writing was wonderful.

Check out my full review of Just One Day for my more detailed impressions.

Favorite Historical Fiction: The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry and The FitzOsbornes at War by Michelle Cooper


Alz: All right, so technically The Peculiars falls under "alternate history" and "steampunk" more than what you'd think of when you hear "historical fiction", but I'm chucking it under this category because this was yet another book that I read on a whim and unexpectedly liked.  For one thing, that pretty winged girl on the cover is not the protagonist, who is afflicted with goblinism--which is to say she has very, very long fingers and toes, and worries that she might have the petty-mindedness and thieving nature associated with goblins.  The plot follows Lena Mattacascar hieing out on her own and dealing with a society that views her as less than human, which makes for some great social and cultural worldbuilding.  Ignore the over-hyping book blurb because most of the exciting stuff doesn't happen until the last quarter of the book, but that doesn't mean that what comes before isn't still interesting.

Krispy: The FitzOsbornes at War was probably the only historical I read this year (I never did get around to ROSE UNDER FIRE, the companion to my favorite historical last year CODE NAME VERITY). However, I did enjoy this 3rd book in Michelle Cooper's Montmaray trilogy. It was a fitting conclusion to the tale of the fictional family of impoverished Montmaray royals living in England during World War II. I loved these characters enough to follow them through 3 books, and it was nice but sad to see where they ended up and to say goodbye to them.

Favorite Mystery: 17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma

13132403  12930909

Krispy: It looks like I was the Mystery reader this year! While 17& Gone wasn't exactly a traditional mystery, it is the mystery of a missing girl that gets the main character Lauren's own journey going. In a very well-crafted use of magical realism, Nova Ren Suma mixes the missing girl mystery with the slow unraveling of Lauren's mind while also exploring the larger theme of missing girls and how society treats them. It was fantastic, not knowing what was relevant or what was real or not.

Honorable Mention: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke gets a mention because like any good gothic, there's a creepy mystery at the center of the book's small, sea-swept town. But it was really the setting and voice that drew me into this story.

Favorite Paranormal: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

12813630Krispy: Just me again for this category too! Read more paranormals than usual this year too, but my hands down favorite was Holly Black's latest The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. I'm always so impressed with Holly Black's seamless worldbuilding, and this book was her at her best. She integrates the supernatural into our world in such a natural, logical way that I could believe that if vampires were to come out into the open, this might be a way our society would handle it. Beyond that, the character development and thematic exploration of humanity and monstrosity in this book was top notch. Holly Black hits that sweet spot of giving us vampires who are seductive and romantic but also unquestionably dangerous and inhuman.

Honorable Mention: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Gothic + paranormal kind of goes hand in hand, no?

Favorite Family Drama:The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Yep, we do really love the Raven Cycle books. This makes it in this category because like we said before (and last year), the relationship dynamics of the characters is compelling and it keeps us coming back. Besides, in The Dream Thieves, we get a lot more of Blue's quirky, endearing family of psychic women. So there's drama there and of course drama with Blue's new family of Raven Boys, and of course there's dear, dark Ronan with a metric boatload of family drama in this installment.

Pick 2 for Krispy: Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn. This deserves a mention because while this book is very much about Win's struggle to reconcile his present and his past and to come to terms to the tragedy in his life, his family plays a large part in this. While they mostly appear as characters in his past, his siblings and parents have a far-reaching impact on Win's present and likely his future - and their absence in his present is only emphasized by their presence in his past.

My complete thoughts on Charm & Strange in my original book review.

Favorite Genre Bender: The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson.


Krispy: I didn't really know where to put this, but I was so impressed by this book that I had to mention it somewhere. Genre bender actually fits quite well. The book is Sci-Fi and post-apocalyptic and its main city-setting has dystopian elements. It's a book that presents a society that actually looks utopian, and it's only when you look closer that you see things are not as perfect as they seem and that there is unrest. But this is sort of a subplot that only comes to the forefront because the main character June has a character arc that intersects these bigger, societal issues. In her quest to become a true artist, to discover herself and her feelings on love, family, and tradition, she realizes she wants to be an agent of change. So in that way, this book is also very much about self-discovery and identity. It's a plus that we also get trope subversions, gender subversions, a diverse cast (including POC main characters), and the non-traditional setting of future-Brazil.

My deeper thinky thoughts can be found in my review of The Summer Prince.

Honorable Mention: Charm & Strange Like 17 & Gone, this one really utilized magical realism to explore its themes. The book seems almost like it'll be a paranormal-contemporary, but the paranormal elements are really just an incredibly effective use of extended metaphor.


Woohoo for Day 1 of Superlatives!  Krispy read many books this year and Alz not quite so many.  We're looking forward to the rest of this yearly book tradition of title-dropping, favoriting, and re-squeeing.  Join us tomorrow for Day 2!


Randomosity on Fridays: Pre-Holiday Friday 5

It's been a while since we did a Friday 5, especially since I'm all about the What's Up Wednesday meme these days. But the Friday 5 is an oldie but a goodie, and it's helpful for random announcements.

So here we go!

1. During all the Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sales, the Sister and I managed to buy a bunch of Christmas presents for friends, family, and ourselves. Specifically, we snagged some coveted BlackMilk items, and I bought some Shadowplaynyc dresses I've been eye-ing for a long time.

Blackmilk AT-AT dress for the Sister; Hamlet leggings for me!

Shadowplaynyc Crimson Galaxy Dress for me; Stardust Galaxy dress for the Sister.

2. It has been freaking COLD here, which I know isn't that cold all things considered. But I am a Californian born and bred, which means I am so weak to coldness, haha. But the coldness has given us quite beautiful, clear and crisp skies.

3. The Sister bought Loki a new toy. It's a red dragon, and it's pretty tough (or so we thought)! Naturally, we named it Benedict Cumbersmaug.

Loki looks cute here, but he is actually chewing off CBSmaug's arm with his back teeth. We stopped
him before he managed to get all he way through the arm.
Speaking of Loki and that Loki poster in the background, Alz noted that the sheer size of the display is not obvious from pictures alone. One of my friends thought we'd taken puppy!Loki out somewhere and took a pic of him in front of a Loki display.

Nope, this giant cardboard side of a display is in my house. Here is a picture of the Sister standing in front of the fully unfolded Loki side.

The top is scraping the ceiling of this room.

4. Last weekend, the Sister and I pulled out my books and built a book tree. We made one last year and wanted to make another one this year. We even bought more lights for it!

Progress shots of the book tree. We wore holiday socks until the Sister
changed into her shark onesie, complete with shark feet. 
There are Capt America & Spiderman ornaments in there, but since this pic was taken
Lokis have taken over. They're currently at the top of the tree.

5. Need gift ideas and general holiday amusement? The Sister and I wrote some helpful Buzzfeed articles!

From me: Affordable And Clever Gifts For Your Writer And Bibliophile Friends.

From the Sister: 15 Travel Themed Gifts To Give Your Favorite Globetrotter

Also from the Sister (and it's really funny): 6 Studly Fabrics To Gift Those On Your Naughty List. Yeah, it's surprising what you can find at craft stores...

Oh and finally, almost all next week from Dec 16-19 is the YA Superlatives Blogfest. It's a great way to see what people read over the year and to add new books to your TBR lists. It's super fun and is seriously my favorite blogging event every year. I do hope you'll join for some of the days if not all of them! We'll be trying to participate every day! Click on the banner below for more info.

Q4U: Can you believe it's already the 2nd week of December? Will you be seeing The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug?