Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Ladybug's Top Reads of 2011

I actually read more books than I thought I would this year.  While I tend to gravitate toward young adult fantasy, many of the books I read were from different genres (or for different age groups)... including some of my top-rated reads for the year.  Overall, I finished 34 books.  There were only 3 DNFs.

These books made the top of my list (there are 11 because the last two were tied in rating):

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
My Review
Buy The Art of Racing in the Rain from Kobo

Room by Emma Donoghue
My Review
Buy Room from Kobo

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
My Review
Buy Ship Breaker from Kobo

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
My Review
Buy The Adoration Of Jenna Fox from Kobo

The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder
My Review
Buy The Day Before from Indigo

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
My Review
Buy Inside Out and Back Again from Kobo

The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller
My Review
Buy The Lost Crown from Indigo

The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
My Review
Buy The Magician's Elephant from Indigo

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
My Review
Buy Peter and the Starcatchers from Indigo

God Went to Beauty School by Cynthia Rylant
My Review
Buy God Went To Beauty School from Kobo

Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury
My Review
Buy Wrapped from Indigo

Honourable mentions (all rated 4 ladybugs or above):

I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder
My Review
Buy I Heart You You Haunt Me from Kobo

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
My Review
Buy Shiver from Kobo

Eli the Good by Silas House
My Review
Buy Eli the Good from Kobo

Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer
My Review
Buy Charlotte Sometimes from Kobo

Friday, December 23, 2011

Faves of TwentyEleven Book Awards - The Covers

Here's another contribution to inkcrush's meme.  It almost seems like covers are getting better and better as time goes on... like mini works of art!

This is probably my favourite cover of 2011.  I love the colours and the cute little figure standing in the breeze.

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
This cover is really pretty, with metallic lettering and some sparkles. Very cute and perfect for a Peter Pan prequel.

Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury
The colours are what drew me to this cover. I haven't seen too many historical novels with illustrated covers, so this one definitely caught my attention.

The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller
This book has a pretty cover on the front... but also on the spine (a background of pearls) and back (a photo of three other girls).  As a bonus, it also has photos of the real Romanov family inside.

Tempestuous by Lesley Livingston
While this isn't my favourite cover of the three book in this series, it's still rather pretty.  I like the ethereal look of all three covers.

Breathless by Lurlene McDaniel
Though I didn't really like this book, the cover was one of the reasons I picked it up in the first place.  The colours are gorgeous and the photo fits the title and subject matter very well.

Ice by Sarah Beth Durst
Though I ended up not really liking this one, I still love the cover. The chilly colours and snowflake patterns really help set the mood.

Evil? by Timothy Carter
This cover is pretty unique, being turned 90 degrees. It's certainly eye-catching.

Eli the Good by Silas House
This book evoked a hot summer in Kentucky very well.  The cover continues in the same vein.  I love the light coming through the branches.

I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder
This cover is simple, but very effective. You can tell pretty much right away what the story is going to be about. The casual, handwriting-like script for the title is a nice touch.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Faves of TwentyEleven Book Awards - The Characters

I thought it would be fun to join in with inkcrush's meme.  I read quite a few enjoyable books this year with some awesome characters.

1. favourite female main character - Jenna from The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson ~ Although she's not one of my all-time favourites, she was probably my favourite of 2011.  It wasn't so much who she was as how she came across on paper; I thoroughly enjoyed her narration of this thought-provoking story.

2. favourite male main character - Jack from Room by Emma Donoghue ~ Who would've thought a five-year-old narrator would take my top spot for male characters?  This book was unlike anything I'd read before, and Jack's telling of the story was unforgettable.

3. best couple <3 - Agnes and Caedmon from Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury ~ A lot of young adult romantic couples are overly saccharine and not very realistic.  I really enjoyed the interplay between Agnes and Caedmon, and even if they were mainly just friends, I was rooting for them to get together by the end.

4. who i so want to be best friends with - God from God Went to Beauty School by Cynthia Rylant ~ This is not the vengeance-seeking deity that inspires fear.  Rylant's God is a kinder, gentler sort of character with a likeable hint of vulnerability.  He'd be awfully fun to hang out with.

5. who i fell completely in love with (new literary crush) - Lyric from I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder ~ I don't know if I'd say I completely fell in love with him, but he was one of the least objectionable love interests that I came across this year.  Sensitive, kind, and smart... what's not to like?

6. worst (best & baddest) villian - Richard Lopez from Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi ~ This guy was just plain scary.  You never knew where or when he'd turn up next... but you knew that when he inevitably did, he would cause trouble.

7. best character twist (who you loved then hated or vice versa) - Cassie from Ice by Sarah Beth Durst ~ I didn't start out loving this character; in fact, I was pretty indifferent.  But by the end of the book, I couldn't stand her.  I guess I couldn't get over the fact that she let her "husband" (whom she initially married only to secure her mother's freedom) off the hook for tampering with her birth control and impregnating her against her will.  Ew.

8. best kick-arse female - Nikki Heat from Naked Heat by Richard Castle ~ Nikki Heat is the very definition of "kick-arse"... especially in some of the scenes in this book.

9. best kick-arse male - Peter from Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson ~ Peter was pretty much a normal boy... until he started being able to fly.  Then he was a force to be reckoned with!

10. broke your heart the most - Amber from The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder ~ I have to be honest: I still don't fully understand (or agree with) Amber's decision in this book.  The whole situation was pretty heartbreaking.

11. favourite pet/animal character award - Enzo from The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein ~ If I'm being honest, Enzo could probably tie with Jack for my favourite male character (see above).  I loved his storytelling.

12. best YA parents award - Eli's parents from Eli the Good by Silas House ~ I picked these two not so much because they were perfect, but because they were real.  As an added bonus, they're actually an integral part of the main character's life (something that seems to be all too rare in today's crop of YA titles).

13. favourite sibling relationship - Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia from The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller ~ The author really captured the relationship between these four girls (and, to a lesser extent, their brother).  After reading this one, I kind of wished I had a few more sisters!

14. favourite best friends/friendship award - Charlotte and Emily from Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer ~ These two almost had a sibling-type relationship, but since they weren't actually related, I've chosen them for the friendship category.  Like siblings, they had their arguments and their ups and downs... but the dynamic was really interesting and made the most of the story's unusual circumstances.

15. best/worst character names - best: Count Jonty Um from A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine ~ A lot of the names in this book were fun (hint: say them out loud); worst: Dek from The Always War by Margaret Peterson Haddix ~ It sounds too harsh and negative... like "dreck".  Her full name was Dekaterina, which is much nicer.