Top Eleven of 2011

Top Eleven Books of 2011

I have read a lot of books this year and I thought it would be cool to compile a list and my favorites with you all. The first six are not ranked, they were all just amazing and I loved them all, however the last five are. Those are the five books that I felt my heart twisting the most during and mostly I want you to all take away Book #1. It is an amazing story that I really honestly think that every one should read.

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

Chilling YA fairy tale focused on two strangers, one who just arrived in the town, and one who has lived there her whole life. What happens when the children start disappearing?

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Very unique tale about a society that believed love is a disease and must be cured but what happened when the protagonist falls in love right before she is supposed to be cured?

Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer

Amazing tale that shows the beauty in wolfs (not werewolves) and the trials that a teenager must face as the weight of three different worlds is put on her shoulders.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Captivating tale about a group of boy who wakes up in a Maze and must work together with the other boys to find their way out. This book has a shocking ending.

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

An endearing tale about a girl, given a purpose in life, but in the end must choose between love and the life that has been set out for her.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

A mysterious tale about the sole survivor of a building collapse and is plagued by hallucinations afterwards and is left to wonder what really caused the tragedy.

5) The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

An amazing conclusion to the epic Iron Fey series that will leave you on the edge of your seat from page one to the very end.

4) Where She Went by Gayle Forman

A heartbreaking journey about a boy as he goes through life after the tragic end of the relationship with the women he loved. Can fate bring them back together?

3) Divergent by Veronica Roth

An epic book about a girl who leaves everything behind to start a new life in a society she knows nothing about besides the need to fight for survival.

2) The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

A heart-wrenching tale about a girl who looses everything and then regains it just in time for the end of the world.

1) Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

A stunning tale about a Lithuanian teenager on Stalin’s extermination list during World War II, this is an absolute must read.

Of course I read lots of other amazing books this year but those are the ones that popped into my head when I thought of the list. Feel free to comment on what your favorite books are.

I am also very exited to say that Ruta Sepetys is really awesome and agreed to let me host a blog tour for the paperback release of Between Shades of Gray, I am planning some really cool stuff for it so if you would like to participate then let me know!

Hannah
@Hannah_TBV

“Lemniscate” Blog Tour

Lemniscate

Interview with Jennifer Murgia

Jennifer Murgia

1) There was a lot of background research done by the characters in Lemniscate. How much of the things you wrote about were based on actual research you did and how much was your creation?

~ I’d say there was a good mix of both! I enjoy, and appreciate, stories with plausible tones – anything to make the reader wonder “hmmm….”, so I did a fair amount of research on angels and angelic mythology. Of course, spiritual beliefs are extremely diverse, so I took what I personally believe in, along with the beliefs of others, and turned it into a fictional premise. Lemniscate is based on the age-old belief – the more you open yourself up to evil, the easier it is to let that evil in. Sort of like the more you surround yourself with something, you become influenced by it, and it takes on a life of its own.

2) I absolutely love the way that you perceived Heaven and Hell in the book. Why did you decide to have them exist in the mind instead of in physical places?

~ I think everyone’s take on Heaven and Hell is a personal one. I also think the mind is an extremely powerful thing, perhaps powerful enough to be able to create a “place” when really all it is, is a state of mind. Also the notion of good and evil being of equal existence in our own minds is absolutely real. Why else are people able to experience such highs and lows? Why do we feel happiness and fear? The two most definitely co-exist.

3) Three of the teenage characters in the book all have one parent that has died. Was this a coincidence? Why was it important to show that each of them was united through a missing parent?

~ How awesome you noticed that! Yes, Teagan, Brynn and Ryan have each lost a parent, and that loss has allowed them to want something they feel is tremendously out of reach. In the end, they realize they all have a common bond. It’s also to face the fact that life isn’t perfect. It throws you curve balls and we either dodge the hits, or run from them – sometimes learning how to face it with someone they didn’t expect to lean on.

4) My heart broke when I found out Ryan was being abused. Why was it important to have his character go through that experience and to include it in the book?

~ With both Ryan and Brynn’s characters, I wanted to give a solid reason why they were “bullies” in Angel Star. Bullying and “losing” the real you is often the result of trauma. Losing a loved one or enduring abuse, to me, has to be one of the hardest things to live with, and certainly would alter a person. Not only does that break you, but it shapes you – sometimes for better or worse, and overcoming something that devastating is an awesome “power”.

5) I love the way that Lemniscate ended but I would love to see the story continue, will there be another book in the series?

~ I’m so excited to say yes! I’m working on the next installment now, and it will actually be a Prequel to Angel Star! I can only reveal a little bit to you by saying it will tell of Lucifer’s fall, how it swayed Hadrian to corrupt the Guardians, and will also include the backstory of Teagan’s father. A couple months ago I held a contest to create two new characters for the book and I can’t wait to write them into the story line!

There’s also a giveaway that Jennifer Murgia is hosting. =)

Giveaway Lemniscate

Many thanks to Mundie Moms for hosting the blog tour. =)

You can also stop by and visit Jennifer on her website

I really like these books you guys, and I loved Lemniscate. I became Team Ryan, and then switched back to Team Garreth for Teagan. Truthfully though if I am being honest if Garreth and Teagan broke up and I had to pick between Ryan and Garreth its totally Ryan. (THis is all in the second book btw, he was kind of a jerk in the first one but it wasn’t his fault. Read it to find out why!)

Hannah
@Hannah_TBV

Review “Invisible”

Invisible Blog Tour Banner

Review “Invisible

Invisible by Jeanne Bannon is both a heart-breaking and heart-warming coming of age tale. Seventeen-year-old Lola is an awkwardly tall “big girl” who struggled with self-esteem. Born into a family she has never felt she belongs in Lola takes refuge in the company of her grandmother. When forced into a situation she has been dreading all summer, donning a bathing suit in public, Lola wishes she could become invisible, and to her shock she does just that.
Invisible is an amazing story that is truly relatable to people of all ages dealing with self-esteem issues. This book showcase’s Lola’s relationships as they bloom, grow, and change throughout the book.
I personally really loved watching Lola grow every page from start to finish. I loved how this book uses the same basic techniques that all YA books do but it changes them at the same time. The main character is not the typical physically beautiful girl. She is beautiful in her own way and she lets that shine as the story continues.
The ending of the story was really great and tied everything together really well, and got the message across. You don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful, and that all girls should love themselves even when society tries to put them down.

Here are some questions that Jeanne Bannon was really awesome and agreed to answer for me.

1) Lola’s relationship with her family is rocky but she has a great friendship with her grandmother. Was the relationship between Lola and her grandmother influenced by a someone outside of your immediate family you were really close to?

The relationship between Lola and her grandmother was influenced by the relationship I had with my own grandmother. One difference is that my grandmother lived with us. And my parents are certainly not like Lola’s. But my grandmother who I called “Mama” was a hugely important part of my life. We lost her nearly six years ago and there isn’t day that goes by that I don’t miss her.

2) I can relate a lot to Lola, and I think tons of other girls can relate to her too. I LOVED how she evolved through the story and the message that it sends to girls who aren’t considered “perfect”. What inspired you to write this book?

I didn’t want to write the typical YA protagonist. I wanted a character who was real, a little plump and not beautiful. I wanted a girl who was very relatable. I don’t buy into the myth that YA has to be filled with gorgeous model-thin girls and hunky guys for readers to be pulled into the story. Instead, I think a story is much more enjoyable when the reader can sympathize with the protagonist and understand what he or she is going through. That’s also why I chose to write the novel in first person present. I wanted to take readers directly into Lola’s mind.

3) Is there anything in “Invisible” that you took from your personal life?

When I was in grade 7 and 8 I was bullied, not for the same reasons as Lola but the experience made a huge impact on my life and I struggled for years with self-esteem issues. If there’s one thing I wanted to accomplish with Invisible it was to make a difference in the life of a teen or child who’s bullied. When you’re being bullied, it feels like it will never stop. I want young people to realize that they don’t have to be defined by the experience and that it doesn’t last forever, that they will get through it.

4) Do you believe that if what happened to Lola’s grandmother hadn’t happened that she would have been able to build that relationship with her parents and sister?

I do believe that the tragedy in Lola’s life brought her closer to her parents and sister, in particular to her mother. Lola began to realize that there was much more of her grandmother in her own mother than she realized and allowed herself to open her heart to her mom in a way she never had before.

About Jeanne Bannon
Jeanne Bannon
Jeanne Bannon has worked in the publishing industry for over twenty years. She began her career as a freelance journalist, then worked as an in-house editor for LexisNexis Canada. Jeanne currently works as a freelance editor and writer.
Jeanne’s had several short stories published and won first place in the Writes of Caledon Short Story Contest. Her novels, The Barely Boy and Dark Angel were finalists in the 2010 and 2011 Strongest Start Contests. Another of her short stories “Thom’s Journey” is part of an Anthology entitled A Visitor to Sandahl and is available at Amazon.com.
Invisible, Jeanne’s debut novel, is about a teenage girl who isn’t happy with herself and wishes she could disappear. And one day she does. Invisible is available on Amazon, Smashwords, and the Solstice Publishing website.
When not reading or writing, Jeanne enjoy being with her daughters, Nina and Sara and her husband, David. She’s also the proud mother of two fur babies, a sweet Miniature Schnauzer named Emily and Spencer, a rambunctious tabby, who can be a very bad boy.
To learn more about Jeanne, visit her at her website www.jeannebannon.com
You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter

Invisible

For the duration of this blog tour (December 5th-16th) Jeanne Bannon’s Invisible will be only $0.99 at Amazon.com and Smashwords. So be sure to go check it out!

I hope you all enjoy this book as much as I did!

Hannah
@Hannah_TBV

Review: The Dark and Hollow Places

The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Dead-Tossed Waves

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

First off I want to start by saying that this is the third book in The Forest of Hands and Teeth series. If you haven’t read the first two go read them! The first one is The Forest of Hands and Teeth and the second one is The Dead-Tossed Waves. The third one that I am going to talk about today is The Dark and Hollow Places. I want to take a moment to admire those amazing titles. I am a big title person and I love it when someone gives their books EPIC titles.

Very rarely do I read a book that makes me feel as if my heart has been viciously ripped from my chest and shredded into tiny little pieces like this book did. There are only two other books this year that have made me feel like that: Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys and Where She Went by Gayle Forman. The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan will leave you withering in pain on the floor as you follow Annah. It’s a good kind of pain though; I think I should point that out.

Carrie Ryan’s amazing writing style puts directly into Annah’s mind and you see the entire story though her eyes. If you love zombie thrillers, with tons of action, and romance then this book is most definitely for you. However if you are interested in boring unimaginative books then I must say put down whatever books you’ve been reading and pick up a copy of The Forest of Hands and Teeth and prepare to have your mind blown!

Eat/Prey/Love

I am not going to give anything away, you all will just have to read the book but this is what I took away from the book.

1) Love is worth fighting for. No matter what, even when you are scared, when you are threatened, it is worth it. Don’t be afraid of rejection because sometimes you won’t get rejected and it will all work out.
2) Don’t be afraid to live. The Forest of Hands and Teeth is set in a world where there are WAY more zombies than there are uninfected humans. Annah realizes that her life is so short and life in general is so fragile. What would you do if you knew you only had a few days to live? Would you hide away from the world or would you actually live?
3) How far would you go to save the ones around you that you love? How hard would you push yourself to be with the ones you loved? Would you push yourself past your edge?

I don’t often give these (at least I don’t think that I do) but this is definitely a five star book! Of the dozens of book I have read this year only four have been five star books. I can’t tell you enough how amazing this book is.

A note on my reaction; I CRIED at the end of this book. Yes, I cried. I have only ever cried at one movie and I NEVER cry at book, but seriously everyone there were tears in my eyes when I finished reading this book. THAT’S how amazing it is. I expect everyone to go buy a copy and then come back and tell me what you thought of it.

Hannah
@Hannah_TBV

I got this from youtube =)