Best Kept YA Secrets of 2011

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Every year there are YA blockbuster books, and I love those as much as the next reader.
But I decided to make a list of Best YA Books of 2011 That You Might Not Have Read. And Should Read.

This is what the books on my list have in common:

Strong female lead/strong characters
Vivid sense of place/setting
Beautiful writing
Unique concept, or unique twist on a familiar concept

Here's my list:

1. Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

I got an ARC of this last year and it sat on my TBR pile for months. I assumed it would be a light, frothy, summer-romance-on-the-beach read. (Not that there's anything wrong with that!) When I finally picked it up, I wondered why I waited so long. In the book, Anna moves back to the beach community where her parents first met and fell in love -- and where her mother drowned. Before she died, Anna's mother loved collecting sea glass. Years later, Anna collects bits and pieces of her mother's life, trying to piece together her secrets.

Moonglass is a beautifully written book. The author clearly loves the beach -- as I read, I could almost feel the wind in my hair and the sand under my feet. There's romance, but that's not the main point of the book. It's a book about coming to terms with the past, and with the present.

2. Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler

I knew I wanted to read this book -- I just couldn't get hold of a copy. When I finally did, I wasn't disappointed. Chelsea, the main character, is a basketball star who was seriously injured during a game. [When I was in high school, I would have done anything to get out of gym, but I love the idea of a tough female athlete as a YA character.] Chelsea's parents take her to Minnesota for a vacation and hire Clint, an ex-hockey player, to help Chelsea with her rehab. Yes, Clint and Chelsea fall in love, but there are complications. Chelsea has a boyfriend. Clint has an ex who died under tragic circumstances. Chelsea and Clint are each wounded, both physically and psychologically. I found their story beautiful and vivid and honest.

3. And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky

Sylvia Plath. Chicken Pox. An old-fashioned typewriter. This sounds like a party game: pick three things out of a hat and make them into a story. But it works. Keek is quarantined at her grandmother's house with a case of the chicken pox and this mysterious device called a typewriter. She's pissed at her boyfriend. Her parents are splitting up. And she's obsessed with Sylvia Plath. This book is clever, poignant and funny. Keek has a strong, hilarious voice. If you haven't read this book, why not?

4. Paradise by Jill Alexander

"Of all the airplane hangers in all the small towns in the world, he walks into mine." Oops, wrong story. This one takes place in small-town Texas, not 1940s Morocco. The main character is Paisley, a drummer in a country rock band. Paisley's band practices in her Uncle L.V.'s airplane hangar. If her band is going to make it to the Texapalooza music festival, they need a lead singer. Now. Suddenly, in strolls Paradise. Not only does he complete the band, he turns Paisley's head. Which is great, except that Cal, the band's quiet lead guitarist, is also secretly in love with Paisley. Each chapter from Paisley's point of view alternates with a song written by Cal. About his feelings for Paisley. Okay, just writing this makes me want to go read this book all over again.

Tell me your best kept YA secret of 2011...


  1. Never heard of these before but they all sound really good!

  2. Oooh I got an ARC of Paradise and it's been sitting on my bookshelf for months! Will go movie it way up on my TBR.......*hour later after great struggle and sweating* okay, I haven't heard of any of the others but I will keep 'em in mind, especially the first one! I'm not sure if The Unidentified counts as a YA secret, but I really enjoyed that book! Ever heard of it? It's by Rae Mariz
    Ana @ BookSpark

  3. Yes... move that book up the pile!! And let me know what you think.
    I have not read the Unidentified. Noting it down now :)

  4. The YA Demon Princess series by Michelle Rowen is one that most people have not read but I love. I just read an eARC of the third book coming out in January and it is such a cute and fun YA series.

  5. Oooh Moonglass! I've actually forgotten about that book! *slaps forehead*

    My best YA secret?.... I haven't read tons of popular YA books yet. Yeah I know- what kind of a blogger am I? :P Still catching up...

  6. @Jen M I'm going to check that out. Sounds good!

    @Jenelle I know. We should do a post called "Books I Am Embarrassed Not to Have Read."

  7. I've only read Playing Hurt, which I really liked. I'm not good at keeping YA secrets :) I really like The Anti-Prom, which was released early this year, as well as You Wish and Past Perfect. They're not YA secrets, but I don't know a lot of people who have read them.

  8. Anti-Prom -- I love that title. I'm going to check it out.
    Yes, I agree that the books I picked aren't really secrets. But I figured if I wrote a tantalizing headline, more people would read the post and hear about these great books!!

  9. Thanks a I have to add MORE books to my wishlist!

  10. I want to read Paradise by Jill Alexander really bad! I was lucky enough to meet Jessi Kirby last year! And her book was so awesome!


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