Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The 13th Day: Your Favorite Book of 2011

Some people may think that the number 13 is unlucky, but not those of us at The Lucky 13s!

In fact, we're celebrating the 13th day of each month by featuring a blog entry that celebrates all of our members.

Here's how it works... I'll ask a question, and they'll answer.

It's a way of making the 13th day of each month a little bit more special!

The question I asked this month was for each person's favorite book of 2011. Check them out and see if there is one you might like to put on your last minute Christmas list!

Here are our favorite books...

Rachele Alpine:
IMAGINARY GIRLS by Nova Ren Suma. I've always been in love with magical realism and was ecstatic when I found a YA novel that focused on this genre. The world Nova sets up is beautiful and the bond between the two sisters is amazing. I couldn't put it down and slowed down near the end because I didn't want it to be over. That's the sign of a good book!

Kristen Kittscher:
My favorite read of 2011 was the illustrated middle-grade novel MILO: STICKY NOTES & BRAIN FREEZE by Alan Silberberg. How does a book about a seventh grade boy struggling in the aftermath of his mother's death win the 2011 Sid Fleischman award for *humor*? Because Alan Silberberg is magic, clearly. Equal parts poignant and hilarious, this is absolutely -- as its
synopsis promises -- "a book that can change lives." While *Milo* touched me especially because I lost my father very suddenly this year, its spot-on portrayal of middle school also makes it a book with broad appeal.

Jessica Young:
I WANT MY HAT BACK by Jon Klassen. The illustrations are done in a folk-y style that complements the spare, wry text. The deadpan expressions of the animals crack me up. And the limited use of red in the otherwise muted color palette is so effective for telling this funny (and slightly naughty) story.

Liz Coley:
My favorite read of 2011 was SOLD by Patricia McCormick. I can't even tell you what age the work is for because the subject matter of the child sex trade is so dark, but my thirteen year old read it without scarring. This story of one girl's journey from a village in Nepal to a city brothel is told so truthfully and carefully and poetically, the novel made a huge impression on me.

Cat Winters:
DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor. Not only has Taylor's boundless imagination conjured up fantastical characters and settings that frighten and entertain, but she has grounded her story with enough reality and honest human emotion to make us believe her unique tale could have actually occurred. Following her lonely, blue-haired, art-student protagonist, Karou, on her teeth-collecting expeditions thought the darkest alleys of the world is a gripping, enjoyable ride.

Elizabeth May:
Jackie Morse Kessler's RAGE was easily the best book I read this year, hands down. Aside from the fact that I envy her writing ability, she wrote a strong, capable heroine who was not without faults or weaknesses. It's a gem of a read. Prepare to be heartbroken.

Ashley Elston:
DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor was one of my favorite reads for 2011. Could not put this book down. Laini's writing is exquisite and her world building incredible. A must read!

Brandy Colbert:
Nearly 10 months later, I'm still thinking about my favorite read of 2011: PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ by A.S. King. I was fully invested from the first page due to the book's mystery, genuinely poignant moments, and its ability to make my stomach hurt in a way that can only mean the characters truly resonated with me.

Ryan Graudin:
Maggie Stiefvater's THE SCORPIO RACES was definitely my favorite read of 2011. Her language, world-building and atmosphere is unmatched, and she keeps readers questioning until the very end. And it has horses. Terrifying, bloody carnivorous horses. What more could you ask for really?

Caroline Carlson:
I've been glued to the pages of R.L. LaFevers' Theodosia series about a young Egyptologist who fights the forces of dark magic and outwits a whole bunch of delightful villains. Theodosia is spunky and hilarious, and the books are perfect for curling up with on a cold day with a cup of tea.

Betsy Cornwell :
Gae Polisner's THE PULL OF GRAVITY was my favorite 2011 young adult read. It's a sweet but not cloying story (such a tricky balance) and the characters are charming and endearing, especially Nick and The Scoot. The copious Star Wars references are an excellent bonus.

Corey Haydu :
My pick for 2011 is Arlaina Tibensky's AND THEN THINGS FALL APART, one of the best contemporary YA's I've read, about a girl, her typewriter, chicken pox and, to top it all off and make it truly perfect, Sylvia Plath.

Lydia Kang:
My pick would be THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie. I laughed, I cried (from laughing too much), and yet saw so much depth throughout the story. I think it might have been targeted for banning, which only made me want to read it more.

Alison Cherry:
My best read is HOW TO SAVE A LIFE by Sara Zarr. It could so easily have been an "issue book," but instead, Sara Zarr crafted a heartbreaking, honest, beautiful story about people struggling to make sense of the end of life and the beginning of it. The two protagonist's voices were spot on, and the end left me in a puddle of happy tears.

Julia Gibson loved:
One of my standouts was Lois Lowry's THE SILENT BOY. I admire her gutsy deep truthtelling in such spare language, and she doesn't shy away from tragedy and bleakness and is never maudlin.

Jessica Corra:
FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK by Melina Marchetta. This book haunts me with its heart-wrenching story and soul-deep characters. It wasn't just a read, it was an experience. Very visceral. I'm still in awe and I read it in March!

Amy LV:
THE GENIUS IN ALL OF US by David Shenk has changed so much of what I think about talent, learning, and work. The power to succeed lies within our drive to put in daily effort, and the stories within this book are inspiring for writers, teachers, and parents. Wow.

Emma Pass:
My top read of 2011 has to be Justin Cronin's THE PASSAGE. I was blown away by this book – by the writing, the concept, the ideas… and especially the fact that he came up with the plot through discussions with his 8-year-old daughter! I can't wait for the sequel to come out next year.

Sarah Skilton:
The best book I read this year was NO PLACE SAFE, a memoir by Kim Reid. The story expertly combines two simultaneous narratives: a notoriously sad true crime tale -- the child murders that took place in 1979 Atlanta -- with the author's own personal coming of age, while her mother was a lead investigator on the case. A compelling and riveting read, beautifully

Elsie Chapman:
Absolutely loved TOAST, Nigel Slater's childhood memoir. He uses food to tell his story, his memories brought to life with the most amazing descriptions of roasts and pies, custards and sweets. Tying emotion to food is supposed to be a bad thing, but not here.

L.R. Giles:
READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline...this is the most fun I've had with a book in years. 80's pop culture, and incredible virtual reality, an evil corporation, and a giant robot battle. Can you ask for anything more.

Chelsey Flood:
EVERYBODY JAM by Ali Lewis is an unsentimental family story full of heart. Set on a cattle ranch in the Australian outback, it deals with the loss of a child, racism and bigotry with an impressive lightness. Lewis's characters are memorable, flawed and real, and she writes grief and heartache as well as joy and humour.

Elisabeth Dahl:
Jon Klassen's I WANT MY HAT BACK (Candlewick, 2011) is destined to be a classic picture book, right up there with CAPS FOR SALE and ARE YOU MY MOTHER? With very few words and very simple illustrations, Klassen delivers a full and funny story of a bear in search of his red hat.

Tamera Will Wissinger loved:
MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN by Ransom Riggs is among my favorite reads this year. I admire how Riggs used a collection of real photos from the early days of photography to create a fresh adventure/mystery about children with unusual capabilities.

Imogen Howson loved:
Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez (YA contemporary). The story of a teenage violin-playing prodigy, Virtuosity is full of superbly crafted tension and unpredictability. It also has an entirely convincing British hero, which is a lot rarer than you'd think. I loved it from beginning to end.

Debra Driza loved:
I read some incredible, powerful stories in 2011, but if I'm being absolutely honest, my *favorite* read was ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins. The story was practically bursting with humor and joy, and mixed my love of chick lit and romance into one delicious YA package--set in Paris, no less! With ST. CLAIRE!

What about you? What was your favorite read of 2011????

Rachele Alpine is surrounded by words! She's a high school English teacher by day (10th grader American Literature), MFA fiction student by night and tries to find whatever free time she can in between to write, write, write.

She's represented by John Rudolph from Dystel and Goderich and her young adult comtemporary novel CANARY will be published in the summer of 2013 by Medallion Press.

She blogs, or you can find her on Facebook and Goodreads.


  1. oh, loved this list! Thanks for great reading suggestions! I did LOVE Vera Dietz too.
    Picking one is very hard, but I would say Between Shades of Gray because I was blown away by how much I didn't know. And the mother character stayed with me for a very long time.

  2. Vera Dietz is one of my favorites too....I loved the different points of view! I haven't read Shades of Gray yet, but I plan to!

  3. So many amazing books on this list! Thanks so much for doing this, Rachele!

  4. Terry Lynn, I loved BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY as well. So heartbreaking and well-written and I learned so much about that period in history, too!

  5. Oh no, I forgot to send in my additions to the list! I have to second those people who said DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE and THE SCORPIO RACES. I also loved THE NIGHT CIRCUS, a book for adults but one that could be enjoyed by most ages.

  6. Great list! I enjoy reading about everyone's favorite books of the year even though it adds more to my TBR pile. I like to try out books that are outside my comfort zone that other people have said are their favorites!