The Best Books I Read For The First Time In 2011

This list is basically a Christmas gift list of recommendations for young female book lovers. These five books had a huge emotional impact on me in 2011. I’m planning on re-reading them in 2012. The good thing is, these oldest of these books were printed in 2009 so they should still be available in book stores. And who doesn’t want to support their book store?

Fire by Kristen Cashore

Fire (The Seven Kingdoms Trilogy, #2)

Young adult high fantasy, published in 2009.

At first I didn’t expect Fire to be a favourite read of mine. I’d read Graceling and only given it three stars, so I didn’t even buy my copy of Fire – it was given to me by a friend who didn’t like it. I however loved it. I aspire to write books like this. My favourite part is the building romance, which is simply lovely. I love broken, vulnerable heroines like Fire – in fact, I’ve written one myself – and her growth to become the strong heroine at the end astounded me. I found it perfect, and although I know a lot of people will have problems with the pre-marital sex and bed-hopping, I didn’t mind that part so much.

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Bloodlines

Young adult paranormal/urban fantasy, published in 2011.

Bloodlines is the first book in a spin-off series of Mead’s popular young adult paranormal romance/urban fantasy Vampire Academy. A lot of people had problems with Sydney the protagonist because they claim she’s boring, lacking courage, and a teacher’s pet or whatever, but I found her personality resounded so strongly with mine that I really identified with her. I found parallels between her uncertainty, her realistic desire to avoid conflict, and especially her tendency to think about things a lot before acting – these things contrasted to Vampire Academy’s narrator, Rose, which is what a lot of people didn’t like, but to me it simply proved Mead can write in different voices. I haven’t tackled Mead’s other two series, Dark Swan and Georgina Kincaid yet, but I will get them when I moved back to Australia.

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan – Author Debut

Glow (Sky Chasers, #1)

Young adult sci-fi, published in 2011.

My blogging friend Penelope from The Reading Fever actually sent me the ARC (Advance Reader’s Copy) of this book, and I couldn’t believe my luck. I thought the blurb sounded awesome, but I predicted I’d gotten my hopes up yet again and was half-expecting this book to fall short. Luckily I was completely wrong – this book was amazing. Waverly the female protagonist was super-tough and smart, and I liked her a lot. There was also a scene in this book that tackled one of my absolute worst nightmares, so I was pretty horrified by it all. Ultimately, Ryan proved her worth as an author because this book’s characters were all different shades of grey and I didn’t know who to trust.

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand – Author Debut

Unearthly (Unearthly, #1)

Young adult paranormal romance, published in 2011.

This trope-defying novel was extraordinarily well written. Hand played with my emotions and I shed a tear during the climax. Despite it being a novel about angels, it managed to tackle religion while avoid being preachy, which is probably the most important thing. The amazing thing about this book is that I started out hating the love interest and ended up totally loving him – along with Sam from Shiver, he’s made my extremely short list of YA male love interests I actually like. I trust Hand so much I’d pay in advance to read Hallowed (if I had the money), the second book in the trilogy, which is being released mid-January. The Australian covers of these books are simply gorgeous, so I’ll probably get the sequel after I’ve moved.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver – Author Debut

Before I Fall

Young adult contemporary with a twist, published in 2010.

This was a rare book that totally blew me away but I neither admired the lead character nor could identify with her. Sam Kingston is a bitch through and through, but when she starts re-living the same day over and over again after a fateful car crash, she learns the true value of everything she’d experienced and unravels the mystery of her death. This was probably my favourite read of 2011 because it made me cry four times. Oliver has beautiful lyrical writing and the novel was just so perfect and poignant. Unfortunately it was a library book, so I had to return it. I do want to buy my own copy, but I will probably wait until I’ve moved to Australia and started to build my collection again.

Honourable mentions:

Divergent (Divergent, #1)

Divergent by Veronica Roth (debut, 2011).

Bumped (Bumped, #1)

Bumped by Megan McCafferty (2011).

Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy, #1)

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White (debut, 2010).

Nevermore (Nevermore, #1)

Nevermore by Kelly Creagh (debut, 2010).

Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #1)

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (2009).

What books did you love reading for the first time in 2011?

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14 thoughts on “The Best Books I Read For The First Time In 2011

  1. Melbourne on my mind says:

    Oooh, excellent. I haven’t read any of these. I think after Christmas, I’m going to go down to our local library and get a new library card so that I can indulge in all the books I haven’t read and can’t afford to buy!

    I read the Hunger Games for the first time this year, and still can’t believe I waited as long as I did!

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  2. Novel Girl says:

    I know this post is more geared for fiction, but I read Jaycee Dugard’s memoir, A STOLEN LIFE, recently and it blew me away. So honest and heartbreaking.

    I decided to do a post on her memoir called: “Inspiration this hectic Christmas — a kidnapped story from Jaycee Dugard”. I’m a book worm so I just had to share her heroic story. My post is all about drawing truth from her memoir to use in your writing. I’d love if you stopped by here: http://wp.me/p1WPf3-6Y.

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  3. Penelope @ The Reading Fever says:

    Awesome list. I tried reading Fire once, but only got one or two chapters into it before I gave up. After reading your thoughts, and hearing so much about the book from the Heroine Tourney, I’m going to give it another try next year. Fire sounds like an awesome heroine. I haven’t read Bloodlines yet, but I cannot wait to.

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    • Lissa says:

      Fire’s strengths definitely show the more you read it, and as stupid and typical as it sounds, the beginning is very slow. I was totally torn between supporting you and Katniss or Fire in the Tourney – I knew Katniss would win purely because more people know about her, but I think more people should read Fire because I simply loved it.

      Bloodlines is very good as well, but it is quite different to Vampire Academy.

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  4. Caitlin McColl says:

    are these ranked in order of favourites?!

    i absolutely LOVED Before I Fall (thanks for the rec!) and all these sound great! any one you recommend to read first?

    thanks for this post! 🙂

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    • Lissa says:

      Nope, not ranked at all.
      I recommend you try Unearthly first, because it seems to be the consistent 4 and 5 star book among my snarking ‘tear apart shitty books’ friends. Although it would help if you’d read a lot of BAD young adult paranormal romance first, so you know exactly how good it is in comparison.

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  5. therealbookcritique says:

    I didn’t love Bloodlines as much as you must have, but I certainly enjoyed it enough that’s memorable to me now, and probably considered the best paranormal I’ve read all year.

    Nice picks. I might pick up some of the ones I’ve never read from your list sometime in 2012. Happy New Year 🙂

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    • Lissa says:

      My connection to Bloodlines was purely on a personal level. I really identified with Sydney. It’s totally subjective and a lot of my friends didn’t like it as much as I did.

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