Top 10 Book Covers of 2011

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And the hard decisions keep on coming!  There were so many gorgeous covers that came out in 2011… How to choose just 10?!?
((IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER))
Bad Taste in Boys (Kate Grable #1) by Carrie Harris

Delacorte Press  (July 12th 2011)
Why:  Why not?! I love the lips and colors in this cover.  The gray scale of the cover makes the lips POP!
SummarySomeone’s been a very bad zombie.
Kate Grable is horrified to find out that the football coach has given the team steroids. Worse yet, the steriods are having an unexpected effect, turning hot gridiron hunks into mindless flesh-eating zombies. No one is safe–not her cute crush Aaron, not her dorky brother, Jonah . . . not even Kate! She’s got to find an antidote–before her entire high school ends up eating each other. So Kate, her best girlfriend, Rocky, and Aaron stage a frantic battle to save their town  . . . and stay hormonally human.
Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey

Philomel/Penguin  (December 8th 2011)
Why: I love how Lenzi’s dress breaks apart into rose petals. 
SummaryA thrilling debut story of death, love, destiny and danger

Lenzi hears voices and has visions – gravestones, floods, a boy with steel gray eyes. Her boyfriend, Zak, can’t help, and everything keeps getting louder and more intense. Then Lenzi meets Alden, the boy from her dreams, who reveals that she’s a reincarnated Speaker – someone who can talk to and help lost souls – and that he has been her Protector for centuries.

Now Lenzi must choose between her life with Zak and the life she is destined to lead with Alden. But time is running out: a malevolent spirit is out to destroy Lenzi, and he will kill her if she doesn’t make a decision soon.

And Then Things fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky

Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing (July 26th 2011)

Why:  I love the simplicity of the cover.  The white background really makes the old style type-writer pop.  I also love the way the title is made into a heart.

Summary: Keek’s life was totally perfect.
Keek and her boyfriend just had their Worst Fight Ever, her best friend heinously betrayed her, her parents are divorcing, and her mom’s across the country caring for her newborn cousin, who may or may not make it home from the hospital. To top it all off, Keek’s got the plague. (Well, the chicken pox.) Now she’s holed up at her grandmother’s technologically-barren house until further notice. Not quite the summer vacation Keek had in mind.
With only an old typewriter and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar for solace and guidance, Keek’s alone with her swirling thoughts. But one thing’s clear through her feverish haze—she’s got to figure out why things went wrong so she can put them right.

Possession (Possession #1) by Elana Johnson

Simon & Schuster  (June 7th 2011)

Why: Again, a white background can really allow colors to pop! I also love the imagery used with a butterfly half-way stuck in ice (a prison of sorts).  Plus the colors are beautiful!

SummaryVi knows the Rule: Girls don’t walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn…and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi’s future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they’re set on convincing Vi to become one of them…starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can’t leave Zenn in the Thinkers’ hands, but she’s wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous–everything Zenn’s not. Vi can’t quite trust Jag and can’t quite resist him, but she also can’t give up on Zenn.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

 Cathcing Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
Sourcebooks Fire (December 1st 2011)
Why: The colors in this cover are rich.  Plus who doesn’t love a bad-ass girl walking down a football field with a helmet in her hand. Girl Power!
Summary: What girl doesn’t want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn’t just surrounded by hot guys, though – she leads them as the captain and quarterback on her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys, and that’s just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university. But now there’s a new guy in town who threatens her starring position on the team… and has her suddenly wishing to be seen as more than just a teammate.

Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen

Dutton Juvenile (February 17th 2011)
Why:  You can tell how raw and gritty this book will be just by the veins in the arm.  Again and again a white background really can make a difference.

Summary:  The football field is a battlefield

There’s an extraordinary price for victory at Oregrove High. It is paid on – and off – the football field. And it claims its victims without mercy – including the most innocent bystanders.

When a violent, steroid-infused, ever-escalating prank war has devastating consequences, an unlikely friendship between a talented but emotionally damaged fullback and a promising gymnast might hold the key to a school’s salvation.

Told in alternating voices and with unapologetic truth, Leverage illuminates the fierce loyalty, flawed justice, and hard-won optimism of two young athletes.



Love & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay

Katherine Tegen Books  (December 27th 2011)

Why: I just low how cute the cover is.  I love the touch of the converse!!

SummaryMy wish is to fall cranium over Converse in dizzy daydream-worthy love.
If only it were that easy.
Marcie has been dragged away from home for the summer—from Idaho to a family summerhouse in New Hampshire. She’s left behind her friends, a group of freaks and geeks called the Leftovers, including her emo-rocker boyfriend, and her father.
By the time Labor Day rolls around, Marcie suspects this “summer vacation” has become permanent. She has to start at a new school, and there she leaves behind her Leftover status when a cute boy brings her breakfast and a new romance heats up. But understanding love, especially when you’ve watched your parents’ affections end, is elusive. What does it feel like, really? Can you even know it until you’ve lost it?

Love & Leftovers is a beautifully written story of one girl’s journey navigating family, friends, and love, and a compelling and sexy read that teens will gobble up whole.

Remembrance (Transcended Time Saga #1) by Michelle Madow 
Dreamscape Publishing  (July 27th 2011)

Read My Review

Why: Who doesn’t love masks!? I love that the mask hides the real girl. 

Summary: New Hampshire high school junior Lizzie Davenport has been reincarnated from Regency Era, England … but she doesn’t know it yet.

Then Drew Carmichael transfers into Lizzie’s school at the beginning of the year, and she feels a connection to him, almost like she knows him. She can’t stop thinking about him, but whenever she tries talking with him about the mysteries behind her feelings, he makes it clear that he wants nothing to do with her. Reaching him is even more difficult because she has a boyfriend, Jeremy, who has started to become full of himself after being elected co-captain of the varsity soccer team, and her flirtatious best friend Chelsea starts dating Drew soon after his arrival. So why can’t she seem to get him out of her mind?

Even though Lizzie knows she should let go of her fascination with Drew, the pair of them soon find that fighting fate isn’t going to be easy.

Earth (Elementals #1) by Shauna Granger

CreateSpace  (May 2nd 2011)

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Why: Beyond the gorgeous colors and how they blend into each other, you can’t help but be attracted to the glitter/shine in her eye.

SummaryShayna and her two best friends have the abilities to manipulate and control the four elements, earth, air, water and fire. While learning to hone their growing powers, they discover a new and malicious presence in their sleepy beach town. Someone is performing blood magic and threatens to expose their small magical community. So far only small animals have been slaughtered, but then the nightmares start.

Shayna suffers nightmares of being chased and sacrificed only to wake up bloodied and bruised. She thinks her magical blood is the ultimate target for the final blood rite. When an innocent girl, Tracy, is kidnapped Shayna knows it’s only a ploy to draw her out; she can’t let someone die because of her.

The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1) by Maureen Johnson

Putnam Juvenile   (September 29th 2011)

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Why: Beyond being a sucker for anything that is set in England, I love the shadow and background, set in mist.  Very mysterious!

SummaryThe day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it’s the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn’t notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

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Top 10 Books I’ve Read in 2011

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Boy was this hard… there were so many AMAZING books that I read in 2011 (and I know I still have a few days left too).  But after much thought I think I’ve finally chosen my top 10 of 2011…
((IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER – that would too hard!))

 Cathcing Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
Sourcebooks Fire (December 1st 2011)
Why: As a debut author, Miranda Kenneally blew me away with her talent at writing as well as character development.  The main character, Jordan, is not only very strong but very real and relateable.  There really was not one thing wrong with this book.
Summary: What girl doesn’t want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn’t just surrounded by hot guys, though – she leads them as the captain and quarterback on her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys, and that’s just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university. But now there’s a new guy in town who threatens her starring position on the team… and has her suddenly wishing to be seen as more than just a teammate.

Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen

Dutton Juvenile (February 17th 2011)
Why:  This book was real, gritty, raw, and even hard to read at times, but I promise it will stick with you for a long time if not for a lifetime.  As a YA Debut Author for 2011, Joshua C. Cohen has shown he is not afraid to write about what is real, shoving such issues in your face – making him a favorite author and a favorite read.

Summary:  The football field is a battlefield

There’s an extraordinary price for victory at Oregrove High. It is paid on – and off – the football field. And it claims its victims without mercy – including the most innocent bystanders.

When a violent, steroid-infused, ever-escalating prank war has devastating consequences, an unlikely friendship between a talented but emotionally damaged fullback and a promising gymnast might hold the key to a school’s salvation.

Told in alternating voices and with unapologetic truth, Leverage illuminates the fierce loyalty, flawed justice, and hard-won optimism of two young athletes.

The Secret of the Keepers (Kailmeyra #2) by Elizabeth Isaacs
EFIsaacs (November 1st 2011)
GoodReads | Amazon
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Why: Where to begin with my I loved this book (and series) so much… it is really hard to explain why it is one of all time favorites.  Elizabeth shows a unique talent and craft for writing, making nature itself come alive.  While reading you become part of the story. 

Summary: Life for Nora couldn’t be better; she has married the man of her dreams and loves living in the pristine land of Kailmeyra.

That is, until the darkness threatens her perfect world.

Now war is upon the land. She and Gavin must strengthen their clan and prepare to fight. But the enemy has an ally—one that not only wields power, but holds knowledge of the ancients’ secrets. Secrets that could destroy creation itself.

As the darkness grows, doubt seeps in … protectiveness hinders progress … and the unthinkable comes to pass.

Bewildered and alone, Nora shoulders the responsibility of leading an entire race to war. As she struggles with decisions that seem impossible to make, she is haunted by one choice.






Impulse (Impulse #1) by Ellen Hopkins
Simon Pulse (January 23rd 2007)
GoodReads | Amazon
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Why: Ellen Hopkins has become a favorite author in 2011, Impulse being my favorite of her’s… so far.  I felt very connected to each character and their unique “impulse”.  Each character also was very well developed through verse. 

Summary: Sometimes you don’t wake up. But if you happen to, you know things will never be the same.

Three lives, three different paths to the same destination: Aspen Springs, a psychiatric hospital for those who have attempted the ultimate act — suicide.

Vanessa is beautiful and smart, but her secrets keep her answering the call of the blade.

Tony, after suffering a painful childhood, can only find peace through pills.

And Conner, outwardly, has the perfect life. But dig a little deeper and find a boy who is in constant battle with his parents, his life, himself.

In one instant each of these young people decided enough was enough. They grabbed the blade, the bottle, the gun — and tried to end it all. Now they have a second chance, and just maybe, with each other’s help, they can find their way to a better life — but only if they’re strong and can fight the demons that brought them here in the first place.

Waterfall (River of Time #1) by Lisa T. Bergren
Cook, David C. (February 1st 2011)
GoodReads | Amazon
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Why: Waterfall is probably one of the first Historical novels that I have actually liked, and in this case loved.  You have suspense, romantic history, romance, and so much more!

Summary: What do you do when your knight in shining armor lives, literally, in a different world?

Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives among the romantic hills with their archaelogist parents. Stuck among the rubble of the medieval castles in rural Tuscany, on yet another hot, dusty archaeological site, Gabi and Lia are bored out of their minds…until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces.

Suddenly Gabi’s summer in Italy is much, much more interesting.

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby
Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing (May 3rd 2011)
GoodReads | Amazon
Read My Review

Why: Jessi Kirby’s YA debut blew me away.  You feel like you are really on the beach along with Ann, experiencing every emotion as if they were your own.

Summary:   From Jessi Kirby, a debut novel about confronting the past in order to move ahead.

I read once that water is a symbol for emotions. And for a while now, I’ve thought maybe my mother drowned in both.

Anna’s life is upended when her father accepts a job transfer the summer before her junior year. It’s bad enough that she has to leave her friends and her life behind, but her dad is moving them to the beach where her parents first met and fell in love- a place awash in memories that Anna would just as soon leave under the surface.

While life on the beach is pretty great, with ocean views and one adorable lifeguard in particular, there are also family secrets that were buried along the shore years ago. And the ebb and flow of the ocean’s tide means that nothing- not the sea glass that she collects on the sand and not the truths behind Anna’s mother’s death- stays buried forever.



Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6) by Richelle Mead
Penguin Group (December 7th 2010)
GoodReads | Amazon

Why: There is finally closure while leaving you to wonder what happens next.  The character development is amazing, even to the very last page.  Rose is one of the strongest characters I have ever read.

Summary:  The astonishing final novel in Richelle Mead’s epic series!


Murder. Love. Jealousy. And the ultimate sacrifice. Now, with Rose on trial for her life and Lissa first in line for the Royal Throne, nothing will ever be the same between them.

Unraveled (Intertwined #2) by Gena Showalter
Harlequin (August 31st 2010)
GoodReads | Amazon
Read My Review

WhyIntertwined is another favorite YA Series recently discovered.  I love that this series is told mainly from a man’s P.O.V..  I also really loved the voices inside Aden’s head – they were a hoot.

Summary: Since coming to Crossroads, Oklahoma, former outcast Aden Stone has been living the good life. Never mind that one of his best friends is a werewolf, his girlfriend is a vampire princess who hungers for his blood, and he’s supposed to be crowned Vampire King—while still a human! Well, kind of. With four—oops, three now—human souls living inside his head, Aden has always been “different” himself. These souls can time-travel, raise the dead, possess another’s mind and, his least favorite these days, tell the future.
The forecast for Aden? A knife through the heart.
Because a war is brewing between the creatures of the dark, and Aden is somehow at the center of it all. But he isn’t about to lie down and accept his destiny without a fight. Not when his new friends have his back, not when Victoria has risked her own future to be with him, and not when he has a reason to live for the first time in his life….

Legend of the Oceina Dragon (Dragon Sagas #1) by J.F. Jenkins

Astraea Press, LLC  (February 21st 2011)
GoodReads | Amazon
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Why: Even though this was about Dragons I didn’t get the ‘tacky’ imagery in my mind while reading this book. J.F. Jenkins really makes the Dragons human.

Summary: Darien Oceina is the youngest son of the Great Dragon Lord of the Water. For years he’s loved and cherished Tai Dawson from afar. Tai is a simple, ordinary girl who doesn’t even know Darien exists. On his eighteenth birthday, he chooses her as his wife. But there’s one problem: She thinks his choice means she’s going to be offered as a sacrifice to the Dragon Lord, but instead, she’s forced to move to his home, far away, to give up her life and be his bride.

When she first sees Darien after the ceremony, she doesn’t expect to feel anything but hatred toward him. The two are struggling with the complications of a new marriage when their nation is attacked by a rival dragon species. Together they learn to love one another while they struggle to stay one step ahead in a game where the prize is their survival.

 
 
If I Die (Soul Screamers #5) by Rachel Vincent

Harlequin  (September 27th 2011)
Read My Review
Why: Soul Screamers is one of my favorite YA Series.  Kaylee finally shows her true strength, fighting for her life by own strength and will.
SummaryThe entire school’s talking about the gorgeous new math teacher, Mr. Beck. Everyone except Kaylee Cavanaugh. After all, Kaylee’s no ordinary high-school junior. She’s a banshee—she screams when someone dies.

But the next scream might be for Kaylee.

Yeah—it’s a shock to her, too. So to distract herself, Kaylee’s going to save every girl in school. Because that hot new teacher is really an incubus who feeds on the desire of unsuspecting students. The only girls immune to his lure are Kaylee and Sabine, her boyfriend’s needy ex-girlfriend. Now the unlikely allies have to get rid of Mr. Beck…before he discovers they aren’t quite human, either.

But Kaylee’s borrowed lifeline is nearing its end. And those who care about her will do anything to save her life.

Anything.


Review: Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen

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I am very honored to be the first of the Leverage Blog Tour to review this outstanding book…
But no pressure right?….
I hope I can do this book justice
Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen
Publisher:  Dutton Juvenile
Hardcover, 426 pages
The football field is a battlefield

There’s an extraordinary price for victory at Oregrove High. It is paid on—and off—the football field. And it claims its victims without mercy—including the most innocent bystanders.

When a violent, steroid-infused, ever-escalating prank war has devastating consequences, an unlikely friendship between a talented but emotionally damaged fullback and a promising gymnast might hold the key to a school’s salvation.

Told in alternating voices and with unapologetic truth, Leverage illuminates the fierce loyalty, flawed justice, and hard-won optimism of two young athletes.

It is hard to know where to exactly begin… Joshua C. Cohen’s debut novel is anything and everything BUT disappointing.  I honestly cannot come up with a negative thing to say about this amazing, outstanding, one of kind, unique novel.  There is so much to say about this book that I am going to have to break it down into parts….

To start, a basic overview…
Kurt is the new football star at Oregrove High School.  Danny is on the Oregrove gymnastics team. Both boys have a past, full of sorrow and pain.  An unlikely friendship between these two boys is formed when pranks made between the football team and the gymnastics team get out of hand…. way out of hand.  ‘Prank war‘ is an understatement; things go beyond ‘war‘, creating consequences more severe than one could think possible.  


My Review…
As the book’s synopsis implies, steroids becomes a factor in this ‘war‘.  I am always drawn to books that focus on ‘social issues’ and taboo subjects that most authors dare not touch.  If Joshua C. Cohen was afraid to write about steroid use in high school athletics, he does not show it.  Kurt and Danny are both given the opportunity to have their say, from their own personal point of view. As a reader you learn about Kurt’s and Danny’s past and how it in turn it is affecting their present day decisions.  Cohen’s use of first person narrative makes you feel sympathy, understanding, and sometimes anger at each character; but you walk away with a better understanding of who they are.   
Breaking down the Characters…
Cohen does not shy away from giving real and raw characters.  Danny is a hard worker with one goal in mind: to get a full ride to college through his gymnastic skills.  His quiet demeanour in the school halls is far from his loud actions as a gymnast.  While he is terrified of the ‘steroid-infused‘ jocks that rule the school, he proves he is anything but scared while doing dare devil moves in the air.  

Kurt comes from a very sad and brutal past, one that you cannot put into words.  Having experienced things that many are lucky to not know about, Kurt hides behind his shaggy hair while out in the real world and a football helmet while on the field.  The only place he feels at ‘home’ is in the gym exercising or helping his teammates score touchdowns. 

Both boys’ sense of security and safety are shattered when the pranks between the two teams get way out of hand, invading the few places they feel safe.  The ripple affect is greater than you could imagine, even as the reader.  That brings us to the many supporting characters.  While Kurt and Danny are clearly the starts, each supporting character plays a very important role in this novel.  You have the ‘steroid-infused‘ football players who literally blow your mind in terms of “How can anyone act that way, and think its normal?”.  Then you have the tiny small gymnastics team, who work hard to show their place in high school by trying to stand up to the jocks.  Without these supporting characters the novel would not be complete.

My Final Thoughts
As I said, no matter how hard I try to come up with something negative to say about this book, I just can’t.  I first thought that because I couldn’t read this book in a few short sittings that this was not going to be as amazing as it was… on the contrary, I found taking this novel in small bits, at least for me, was perfect.  I was able to absorb every aspect in their entirety.  This book is RAW, GRITTY, and REAL in such a severe and affecting way.  Because of that, my mind had to grasp the severity of the topics and themes.  There were times I cringed and cried, and had to take a step back.  Other times, I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next, on the edge of my seat. 

I believe that a novel of any kind should affect you on some level, in some way.  You should walk away from that novel with a new perspective or insight into something, especially from a novel that dares to tackle a ‘social issue’ or taboo topic.  Joshua C. Cohen provides this in the most perfect way!  I am forever changed by this novel.  If you are not afraid to confront such a raw reality that most people ignore, you MUST MUST MUST read this book! 

My Rating:

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