Sara’s Top Ten Favorite YA Reads in 2011

Murr! It’s the last week of December and New Years is just around the corner. Wow, did the time just fly by! Murr! At one point I had said I would create a “Top Ten Favorites” for this year and, after a bit of thinking and looking over what I had read, this is what I came up with. Some of these were books that I knew I wanted to read the moment I saw the cover and read the description, a few of the others were delightful finds that I picked up on a whim and figured I would try just for fun, and a couple were books that friends said I had to read ASAP

Enjoy the list and I hope you find a few worth checking out for next year. Murr!


1. The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one except the “thing” inside her.

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch…

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits. Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help-and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on, even if it seems no one believes her.

2. Legend by Marie Lu

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

3. Pyxis by K.C. Neal

Corinne lives an average teenage life working at her dad’s cafe, hanging out with her best friend, and trying to forget a falling-out with her almost-boyfriend Mason. Things take a strange turn when she uses her late grandmother’s food dyes for a bake sale, and her customers suddenly find her irresistibly alluring. Then she discovers she and Mason are haunted by the same dreams of a dark force that consumes everything in its path.

Pursued by shadowy figures and a crazy woman with secrets from the past, Corinne must find out who her grandmother really was. In her quest to unravel her family’s history, she learns she is destined to protect this world–and the dark world of her dreams. She races to find the answers she seeks before her nightmares break free.

4. Fairy Bad Day by Amanda Ashby

While most students at Burtonwood Academy get to kill demons and goblins, fifteen-year-old Emma gets to rid the world of little annoying fairies with glittery wings and a hipster fashion sense. She was destined to be a dragon slayer, but cute and charming Curtis stole her spot. Then she sees a giant killer fairy – and it’s invisible to everyone but her! If Emma has any chance of stopping this evil fairy, she’s going to need help. Unfortunately, the only person who can help is Curtis. And now, not only has he stolen her dragon-slayer spot, but maybe her heart as well! Why does she think it’s going to be a fairy bad day?

5. Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber

The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Pride and Prejudice, with a dash of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

New York City, 1882. Seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart’s latest obsession is a painting of the handsome British Lord Denbury. Something in his striking blue eyes calls to her. As his incredibly life-like gaze seems to follow her, Natalie gets the uneasy feeling that details of the painting keep changing…

Jonathan Denbury’s soul is trapped in the gilded painting by dark magic while his possessed body commits unspeakable crimes in the city slums. He must lure Natalie into the painting, for only together can they reverse the curse and free his damaged soul.

6. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie’s always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours, but still. Normal.

Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie’s dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.

7. Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton

It starts off simply.

Draw a circle … place a dead leaf in the center … sprinkle some salt … recite a little Latin … add a drop of blood …

Maybe that last part isn’t exactly simple. Yet somehow it feels right to Silla Kennicott. And nothing in her life has felt remotely right since her parents’ horrific deaths. She’s willing to do anything to uncover the truth about her family—even try a few spells from the mysterious book that arrived on her doorstep … and spill some blood.

The book isn’t the only recent arrival in Silla’s life. There’s Nick Pardee, the new guy next door who may have seen Silla casting a spell. She’s not sure what he saw and is afraid to find out. But as they spend more time together, Silla realizes this may not be Nick’s first encounter with Blood Magic. Brought together by a combination of fate and chemistry, Silla and Nick can’t deny their attraction. And they can’t ignore the dark presence lurking nearby—waiting to reclaim the book and all its power.

Tessa Gratton’s intoxicating first novel will keep pulses racing, minds reeling, and pages turning right up to the very last drop of blood.

8. Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

The Dragon King Seeks His Princess–

Who Dares to Stop Him?

Princess Una of Parumvir has come of age and will soon marry. She dreams of a charming prince, but when her first suitor arrives, he’s not what she’d hoped. Prince Aethelbald of mysterious Farthestshore has travelled a great distance to prove his love–and also to bring hushed warnings of danger. A dragon is rumored to be on the hunt and blazing a path of terror.

Una, smitten instead with a more dashing prince, refuses Aethelbald’s offer–and ignores his cautions with dire consequences. Soon the Dragon King himself is in Parumvir and Una, in giving her heart away unwisely, finds herself in his sights. Only those courageous enough to risk everything have a hope of fighting off this advancing evil.

A Tale of Goldstone Wood

Timeless Fantasy That Will Keep You Spellbound

9. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister Primrose, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

10. Spirit by J.P. Hightman

Now, ages later, in the cold, dark heart of the Victorian era an age of black clothes and black moods one train is bound for Blackthorne, near Salem, where a winter carnival awaits. The cars are full of the promise of fireworks, sleigh rides, and skating. But for Tess and Tobias Goodraven, this train will take them to a place much darker than they imagined.

Even a seasoned pair of ghost hunters like Tess and Tobias didn’t expect a witch like Old Mother Malgore a witch who stalks the forests, silent as snowfall, hunting, hungering. When the train derails and the casualties climb, the Goodravens must bridge the gap between past and present tragedies if they have any chance of quieting the souls of the living, the dead, and the haunted.

In J. P. Hightman’s richly woven story of ghosts and witchcraft, the simple is sinister, the dead stalk the living, and the only real weapon is love.

Honorable Mention: Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts

Since mankind began, civilizations have always fallen: the Romans, the Greeks, the Aztecs…Now it’s our turn. Huge earthquakes rock the world. Cities are destroyed. But something even more awful is happening. An ancient evil has been unleashed, turning everyday people into hunters, killers, crazies.

Mason’s mother is dying after a terrible car accident. As he endures a last vigil at her hospital bed, his school is bombed and razed to the ground, and everyone he knows is killed. Aries survives an earthquake aftershock on a bus, and thinks the worst is over when a mysterious stranger pulls her out of the wreckage, but she’s about to discover a world changed forever. Clementine, the only survivor of an emergency town hall meeting that descends into murderous chaos, is on the run from savage strangers who used to be her friends and neighbors. And Michael witnesses a brutal road rage incident that is made much worse by the arrival of the police–who gun down the guilty party and then turn on the bystanding crowd.

Where do you go for justice when even the lawmakers have turned bad? These four teens are on the same road in a world gone mad. Struggling to survive, clinging on to love and meaning wherever it can be found, this is a journey into the heart of darkness – but also a journey to find each other and a place of safety.


Posted on December 27, 2011, in General. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Sara, I loved “Girl in the Steel Corset”. I’m waiting impatiently for the sequel and I *must* purchase “Darker Still” ASAP, since nobody got it for me for Christmas. 😉

    I’m definitely checking out some of the other books on your list right now.

    • I’ve got so many ya books that I’ve yet to read which I’m sure would have made it even harder to choose my top ten, but they will just have to wait until next year. Got a lot of reviews to write up too. lol Girl in the Steel Corset was a fun read and I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel. Darker Still was another wonderful surprise read. I’m really enjoying those books which blend in elements from classic lit. The Dorian Gray element in Darker Still was intriguing. Likewise the Jekyll and Hyde element to Girl in the Steel Corset was well done. Steampunk with a bit of Goth…what can I say, it gets me every time. 🐱

  2. Spirit looks right up my alley! I’ve never heard of it before. I’m going to put it on my TBR list right now!

    • Spirit was one of those books that I picked up on a whim at the local library because I thought the cover was interesting. I was surprised with how creeped out I became the more I read it. It really does play with the mind…at least it did for me. When you do read it, let me know what you thought of it.

  3. Blood Magic is one of my top 2011 reads!

    • Read Blood Magic in response to a challenge a friend of mine had going on her blog. I enjoyed it, though I didn’t particularly care for the animal killing bits. I’m curious to see what the next book in the series is all about.

  4. Haven’t read any of these except Hunger Games, but some look really cool – will definitely try and check out Fairy Bad Day and Darker Still. Great list, thanks!

    • Hunger Games was one of those books that I refused to read until I saw the trailer for the movie. It wasn’t that I didn’t plan on reading the series at some point, but merely that I didn’t want to be another person jumping on the “bandwagon” so to speak. They were never a “must read now” type of books to me. I got sucked into the Harry Potter craze around the time the first movie came out and swore that I would never again read a book simply because everyone else was reading it. So when everyone started screaming about how wonderful the Hunger Games series was, I put my foot down and refused to be baited into reading the books. Course, you see how well that worked out…only held off reading them for a year. lol I’m now on the waiting list for both books 2 & 3 at my local library and am hoping that I get them before the movie comes out.

      I sort of wish that I had managed to finish Dark Inside before I created my list as it really deserves to be in the top ten. But since I was still in the middle of finishing it, yes it took me a month and a half to finish because it scared the living daylights out of me, it ended up as an honorable mention. I warn you now, Dark Inside is not a book to pick up if you are looking for a bit of light reading. I don’t know why I enjoy psychological thriller like novels, but this was definitely a good one.

      Fairy Bad Day and Darker Still were both enjoyable. If you read them, do please come back and share your thoughts about them. ;D

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