Saturday, December 31, 2011

Amy and Brittany's Top 11 YA Books of 2011

As we reflect back over 2011, we are still in awe of how many amazing books we read!  We've been talking the last few days about what exactly our lists would look like and were even more shocked about how many of our favorites were debut novels!  How exciting is that?!?  It puts us in great hopes for the future of YA literature!  Books just keep getting better and better!  Also, not to mention the next books in each of these series give us one heck of a TBR list!


Amy's Top 11: (I couldn't pick between a lot of these, so I just grouped them according to my favs)
Honorable Mentions:


Brittany's Top 11
I've read so many fantastic books this year that it was difficult to pick my favorites. In the end, I went with those books that made me want to lock myself in my office and write for days until I had a story that was THAT good. In short, I went with the books that inspired me. And here they are... 

1. Divergent by Veronica Roth: I love everything about this book. EVERYTHING. Even rereading it, I get so swept up in the story that I have to read it in one sitting. 

2. Half-blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout: This is one of those books that as soon as I finished it, I flipped back to the beginning and started over because I couldn't bear the idea of having to wait any amount of time for the story to continue. 

3. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor: I'm a complete jerk because I still haven't written a review for this book, even though it's my THIRD favorite of the year. I promise, it's coming! The language, characters, and locations of this book are to die for! Seriously. 

4. Chime by Franny Billingsley: Again, Me = Jerk who hasn't actually reviewed this book! I read this book right before I left for my MFA program, and when I got back homework took over my life. But this book.... THIS BOOK was amazing. The language and imagery was so vivid that I felt like I could see, smell, hear, taste, and touch everything Franny described. 

5. Shatter Me by Taherah Mafi: This book is unique and poetic and action-packed! And the romance... *faints*

6. Hourglass by Myra McEntire: We @ the YA Sisterhood LOVE Myra. And Hourglass. And Emerson. And Michael. And Kaleb. And everything about this book. :)

7. Delirium by Lauren Oliver: It's hard for me to put into words how much I love this book-- from the characters to the concept to the propaganda between the chapters-- this book BLEW ME AWAY! (Also... guys... Pandemonium is AMAZING). 

8. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand: Angels, Missions, Mountains, Swimming Holes, Hot country boys-- *sigh* I could read this book again and again and again! 

9. Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare: Cassie really outdid herself with this one! It might be my favorite book of hers yet! Maybe! Argh! I don't know, I love everything Cassie does!

10. Blood Red Road by Moira Young: I absolutely adored this book. It starts a little slow, but then BANG! I couldn't put it down! It's got action, romance, mystery-- you'll love it! 

11. Legend by Marie Lu: This book was fascinating and emotional and just plain exciting! I rarely like split narratives, but man did I love June and Day both! 

Honorable Mentions: 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tournament of Heroines

First off, we would like to thank everyone who has been a part of this tournament, whether through authoring the characters, advocating the characters, voting, or spreading the word through social media.  You are all rockstars and we can't say "thank you" enough!  We will say that in these tournaments there are a group of people that go above and beyond, staying up into the wee hours of the morning, recruiting people for their teams, spreading the word about their characters, writing amazing defenses for their character, and just generally working their butts off. That group of people is the advocates.  Because of their amazing awesomeness, at the end of these tournaments, we like to hold what we call a Tournament Blogemony in which we give out prizes and recognize those advocates we believe did an outstanding job.  With that being said, if you would like to donate anything that you want these advocates to have, we would be more than happy to take it!  Last year we received everything from signed boxed sets to arcs to books to buttons to bookmarks.  If you are interested in donating please contact us at yasisterhood(at)gmail(dot)com.  Remember, for authors and publishers this would be a great way to get your books in the hands of some of the best reviewers in the blogosphere! For fellow bloggers, we hope you'll see this as an opportunity to share the love with these advocates. With their impassioned defenses, many of these advocates have introduced our readers to not just new characters, but new books and authors. We hope you'll take this opportunity to celebrate those efforts with us.

Thank you all, again!


YA Sisterhood

Match #28: Tessa (Seed #3) vs Izzy (Seed #6) goes to TESSA!

And the winner is...


Welcome to The YA Sisterhood and round 3 of The Tournament of Heroines, The Extraordinary Eight! Can you guys believe we're already down to eight heroines? Crazy! Thank you in advance for your participation in our Tournament of Heroines! We hope you make some friends (and not too many enemies), discover some fantastic books, and have a lot of fun!

Some general rules before we begin:

There may be some spoilers in the following post. We've tried to keep it fairly general, but overall, this Tourney will not be spoiler-free. So beware.

Secondly, You are welcome to write your own comments about either character in the comments section, but we will not tolerate rudeness. The minute it crosses over from logical argument into character bashing, your comments will be deleted and your vote canceled.  POLLS WILL BE OPEN FOR 24 HOURS AND WILL CLOSE AT 12:01AM EST ON DECEMBER 31st.

And now for the match....

 Hey y'all! My name is Avery I review primarily YA paranormal books at my blog Avery's Book Nook. I have been a long time stalker follower of YA Sisterhood and their tournaments so it should come as no surprise that I am super excited to be advocating Tessa from Cassie Clare's Infernal Devices series! You can follow me during the tournament at:

 About Her:

Gray, a sixteen year old American is sent to live with her brother in
England after her guardian, her Aunt Harriet, passes away (both of
Tessa's parents passed away when she was three years old). Upon arriving
in England she learns that things are not what they seem- her life

Her world is turned upside down when she is
kidnapped and discovers that she has the ability to shapeshift. Upon
being rescued from her kidnappers she befriends the London Institute's
Shadowhunters including, but not limited to, Will, Jem, Charlotte, and
Henry, alongside the Institute's staff including Thomas, Agatha, and

Alongside the British Shadowhunter's Tessa
attempts to thwart the Magister, a man hellbent on destroying the
Shadowhunters through the use of clockwork creatures.  

Best Attributes: 

Tessa is by far one of the most genuine and modest female YA characters in my opinion, especially when it comes to her looks:

with his fair good looks, was the one in the family generally agreed to
have inherited her moth's beauty, but Tessa had always been perfectly
content with her own smooth brown hair, and steady gray eyes. Jane Eyre
had had brown hair, and plenty of other heroines besides. And it wasn't
so bad being tall, either..."
(Clockwork Angel, pg. 17)

is inquisitive and open-minded. She loves to read just as much, if not
not, than all of us and she can often be found quoting all of her
favourite books:

"He didn't know what books meant to her, that books were symbols of truth and meaning..." (Clockwork Angel, pg. 97). 
She is by far one of Cassie's most unique and mysterious characters
(In "Clockwork Angel" we are told that she appears to be a warlock,
however her true identity- or a better approximation of her identity- is
revealed in "Clockwork Prince").

She can outsnark even the snarkiest of characters, Will Herondale included:  

"Perhaps she's a girl who's fallen madly in love with me and persists in following me wherever I go." 

"My talent is shape-shifting, Will, not acting" (Clockwork Prince, pg. 87). 
Speaking of Will Herondale, she has two of the most swoon-worthy YA
male characters vying for her attention (and she never lets that
knowledge go to her head).

She takes everything in
stride. Her clockwork angel pendant is one of the most kick-butt pieces
of jewelry in the world of YA books (see "Clockwork Prince").

Let's pretend that the Dirty Sexy Balcony Scene is an attribute ;) 

What Makes Tessa a True Heroine?

is genuine and always remains true to her character. She is kind and
has a big heart. She's still able to love those who aren't always worthy
of being loved. 

is selfless beyond belief- she is willing to do the right thing even if
it means hurting herself in the process. For instance, in the case of
her brother: 
was not like other people... He had a beautiful innocence about him
that had to be protected at all costs. And Tessa had tried. She and her
aunt had hidden Nate's own weaknesses from him, the consequences of his
own flaws and failings. Never telling him of the work Aunt Harriet had
had to do to make up the money he had lost gambling, of the taunts Tessa
had endured from other children, calling her brother a drunk, a
wastrel. They had hidden these things from him from being hurt"
(pg. 352).
is eager to learn about the new world that she is thrown into. She
doesn't jump into things without any thought- she isn't careless, nor is
she afraid to ask for help.

Why should YOU Vote for Tessa instead of Izzy?

While their is no denying that Izzy is kick-butt and that she could most certainly take Tessa down in a fight, I do believe that Tessa is more of a heroine than Izzy for a number of reasons:

Unlike Izzy who looks down upon people (especially Mundanes and Downworlders), Tessa doesn't look down upon anyone (ie. Sophie occupying a lower
social status than herself, Jem being ill)- she gives everyone the
benefit of the doubt without doing so in a naive way.

Tessa doesn't pout when things don't go the way that she wants to, furthermore, she is willing to do what needs to be done without complaint, unlike Izzy who has a habit of locking herself in her room, throwing temper tantrums, and throwing things at people when things don't go her way.

Tessa is not dependent upon the males in her life (nor is she careless). She doesn't play on the
boy's feelings for her- manipulating them to do what she wants, whereas Izzy has been known a time to two to manipulate the males in her life, Simon especially, to do what she wants (which usually has disastrous consequences).  

Anything You'd Like to Add? 

Hi! *waves* I'm Amanda from Letters Inside Out. I'll be most active on Twitter - @lostalice7, follow me there for updates, giveaways. Our hashtag is #TeamIzzy!

1. About Her
Isabelle "Izzy" Lightwood is a 16 year-old Shadowhunter. She is stunningly beautiful, which works to her advantage - afterall who thinks the pretty ones are dangerous? Her weapon of choice is a whip, but she also uses daggers (and her charms). While she's out defending the world and keeping peace among the downworlders. She is a lover of fashion and is often seen fighting in boots with heels. She is a bit boy-crazy, but has her sights set on one lucky Simon. She's a bit insecure though, after seeing her brothers get hurt so often.
"Nothing less than seven inches. That's my motto." - Isabelle Lightwood (City of Ashes)

2. Best Attributes
For starters, she's written by Cassandra Clare! How can you not love her characters?
Izzy can kick ass and do it in style.
She has spunk and a fun, snarky sense of humor.
She has a bit of a tough exterior, but also a soft side for those she loves her family and would do anything for them that she only lets those close to her see.
“Isabelle," she said, lightening her tone with an obvious effort, "your loyalty to your friend is understandable --"
"He's not my friend." Isabelle looked over at Jace, who was staring at her in a sort of daze. "He's my brother.” ― Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes: Deleted Scene

3. What makes your girl a true heroine?
Izzy is a great heroine, she shows teens that even the "pretty" girls have doubts and personalities beyond the stereotype. She is fierce in every aspect. She is loyal to those she loves. Like I've already hinted at, sometimes she may at times be a bit harsh, she always does what is best for her loved ones. When harm comes to them and she is unable to do anything, she is guilt-ridden. Yet she perseveres and is stronger for it.

4. Why should we vote for Izzy instead of Tessa?
Honestly, I am not going to be like "IZZY IS BETTER", because's Tessa! Attitude wise they are two completely different characters, but Clare has a knack for writing incredibly strong female characters.

Because of that either way that this match goes, I will feel incredibly good about losing (or defeating) one of my co-Team Cassie characters/advocates.

I will say that, personally, of the two characters I prefer Izzy! She has more spunk and a personality that is a bit more like my own...or at least the type of person I'd prefer to be.
"I’m pure at heart. It repels the dirt.” -Isabelle Lightwood

5. Anything else you’d like to add?
Be sure and check out Letters Inside Out for giveaways and additional buttons to support Izzy!

YA Sisterhood


Match #27: Katniss (Seed #2) vs Alex (Seed #23) goes to Katniss!

And the winner is... 


Welcome to The YA Sisterhood and round 3 of The Tournament of Heroines, The Extraordinary Eight! Can you guys believe we're already down to eight heroines? Crazy! Thank you in advance for your participation in our Tournament of Heroines! We hope you make some friends (and not too many enemies), discover some fantastic books, and have a lot of fun!

Some general rules before we begin:

There may be some spoilers in the following post. We've tried to keep it fairly general, but overall, this Tourney will not be spoiler-free. So beware.

Secondly, You are welcome to write your own comments about either character in the comments section, but we will not tolerate rudeness. The minute it crosses over from logical argument into character bashing, your comments will be deleted and your vote canceled.  POLLS WILL BE OPEN FOR 24 HOURS AND WILL CLOSE AT 12:01AM EST ON DECEMBER 31st.

And now for the match....

My name is Penelope, and I run the book review blog: The Reading Fever. I am honored to be Katniss’ advocate, and will be blogging and tweeting about Katniss’ progress throughout the tournament. You can follow me using the links below for #TeamKatniss updates.


1. About Katniss
The bird, the pin, the song, the berries, the watch, the cracker, the dress that burst into flames. I am the Mockingjay. The one that survived despite the Capitol's plans. The symbol of the rebellion.

-Katniss, Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (pg. 386-387)
Credit: Entertainment Weekly
Katniss is the main character in The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. She is described as having long, straight black hair, which she usually pulls back into a tight braid. She has olive skin and gray eyes. She is an amazing hunter who has deadly aim with a bow, and has been using these skills to put food on her family's table--keeping them from the starvation that is so widespread in their district.

She is fiercely protective of those she loves, and has proven she will go to any lengths to ensure their safety. Not one to be easily swayed or broken, she proves to the Capitol that no matter their methods, they can't control everyone.

Also known as: Catnip, the Mockingjay, and The Girl On Fire.

2. Best Attributes
A mockingjay is a creature the capitol never intended to exist. They hadn’t counted on the highly controlled jabberjay having the brains to adapt to the wild...They hadn’t anticipated its will to live.

-Katniss, Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (pg. 92)
As tempting as it is to name Katniss' hunting skills and her innate sense of survival as her best attributes, that just wouldn't be completely true. Everything Katniss does in the series can be attributed to one of these: love, compassion, fear.

Her first act--entering the Hunger Games in place of her younger sister, Prim--was done out of her incredible love for Prim, and fear for Prim's safety. She is pushed to survive by fear of dying and leaving her family without a provider; called into action by compassion for Rue and Peeta (competitors in the hunger games); compelled to accept the title of The Mockingjay (symbol of the rebellion) by compassion for those enduring the destruction the Capitol brings. She takes what the world gives her and reacts to it in a way that benefits those around her; letting love, compassion, and fear guide her. These are her best attributes.

3. What makes Katniss a true heroine?
I’m moving in toward the camera now, carried forward by my rage. “President Snow says he’s sending us a message? Well, I have one for him. You can torture us and bomb us and burn our districts to the ground, but do you see that?” One of the cameras follows as I point to the planes burning on the roof of the warehouse across from us. The Capitol seal on a wing glows clearly through the flames. “Fire is catching!” I am shouting now, determined that he will not miss a word. “And if we burn, you burn with us!”

-Katniss, Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (pg. 99-100)
The quote above is from Katniss. At this point in the story, Katniss has already been through the hunger games, has witnessed the pain, torture, and death, of loved ones, has been forced to kill, seen her home destroyed, and has witnessed the extreme lengths the Capitol will go to in order to have total control--and yet these things only empower her to act.

To me a true heroine is someone who rises above her circumstances, who keeps going despite being knocked down, and most importantly: a heroine inspires others to keep going as well. Katniss is a true heroine.

4. Why should you vote for Katniss instead of Alex?

Credit: kara-lija on DeviantArt

Why wouldn’t you vote for the Mockingjay? She is the driving force behind the entire rebellion; the very hope of the oppressed; the one who brought an end to the devastating war.

So she doesn't exactly have a winning attitude. We can't all be perky and upbeat. She's only human, and would like nothing more than to be left in peace with her family for the rest of her life. But life rarely goes in the direction we hope, and when Katniss is forced down the path that leads to her becoming the Mockingjay, she accepts the title with respect, and recognizes the honor in being the Mockingjay.

It takes stamina and determination to be a symbol to the oppressed. It takes knowledge, cunning, and good instincts, to make good on the hope such a position gives to others. After a while, Katniss sees that she can no longer be a mere symbol; when an opportunity comes, she bravely takes matters into her own hands, risking her life--and sadly, losing some friends--to carry out the plans to bring an end to the war. And she succeeds.


Because when it comes down to it, Katniss comes through. Whether her plan is legit, risky, or completely crazy, you can bet she knows what she's doing, and that she will come through for you.

So I ask again: Why wouldn't you vote for the Mockingjay?


My name's Momo and I'm the blogger behind Books Over Boys. I got the honor of being the advocate for the awesome Alexandria Andros from Jennifer L. Armentrout's Covenant series for this tournament. You can connect with me via twitter and facebook to stay up to date with the #HalfBloodLegion as we support our girl, Alex!

About Alex Andros:

First off, according to Aiden, this is what he thought of Alex when he first saw her...after those three years:
Long, thick chestnut colored hair fell past a chest that had grown in the last three years. Her face was oval shape; lips full like a pure-blood’s. Cheekbones high and eyebrows delicately arched over two wide, brown eyes. Even with the faint purplish bruises marring an otherwise flawless complexion, she was… unbelievable.

And in Alex's own words:
With all the dirt and overall grossness gone, I looked just like my mom. Long dark hair fell down my back; I had those high cheekbones and full lips most pures did. I was a bit curvier than Mom's willowy frame and I didn't have her amazing eyes. Mine were brown, homely old brown.
Alex is irrational, unstable, out of control, wild, crazy, rash, and stubborn but that makes her everything that she is, which is a fighter. She is unpredictable and very quick to act but she believes strongly in what is right versus what is wrong. She hardly ever lets anything faze her and that makes her high lariously funny. She says the darnest things at the most inappropriate times, lol, but what's life without some humor? She's uber sarcastic and tough and edgy and all-out fierce. She lives in this world where all that matters are the pures and their safety. She doesn't want to be forced into servitude so she is in the process of training to be a Sentinel - one who fights and kills daimons → the scary, looking things that will suck the life out of you. Alex isn't a fighter just physically, but she's also a fighter internally...if you get what I mean. She won't take anyone's B. S and she won't ever give up, you can count on that. Plus, Aiden said this ↓ ↓ ↓ about Alex's...qualities that I had listed above:
...I always thought your irrational nature was a flaw. It's not. It's what makes you so strong.
*nods* Uh-huh, what he said.

Alex's Best Attributes:

Alex stands out to me among all the other female characters because she's funny. I know, anyone can be funny. Okay, not anyone but it doesn't take a mad scientist to crack a joke here and there. Alex is such a smart mouth; she speaks without thinking and that totally comes with its consequences, haha, but you can't help but think, "Omg, I was so thinking that!" She says stuff that you wouldn't say out loud or stuff that you would bite back. She's definitely hard to forget because she has such a character; that's why when the nominations for this tourney began, Alex immediately came to mind. You won't be able to forget her if you tried. Also, she stands out to me because she can definitely hold her own. She'll take things into her own hands when needed; she won't back down and she indubitably won't take no for an answer. Alex is rebellious and at times, that might sound like a bad thing but like I've mentioned, she believes in what's right and if a little rebellious-ness is needed, where's the harm in that?!

What makes Alex a true heroine?

As defined by...dictionary dot com, a heroine is:

  1. a woman of distinguished courage or ability, admired for her brave deeds and noble qualities.
  2. the principal female character in a story, play, film, etc.
In my opinion, a true heroine is someone who isn't afraid to be heard, someone who speaks up and fights back when they see something that is unjust; someone who isn't afraid to dive head first into a difficult situation. Also, a true heroine is courageous and brave and strong; someone who will step up when needed. And according to that, Alex is all of the above. Alex is a fighter, she's resilient and always bounces back after a horrible tragedy occurs. Like they say, what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. Because of what she's been through, it has shaped her into the kind of character that she is. You can count on her to save your butt whenever you're in a dire situation, that's for sure. Alex is a true heroine to me because she doesn't need a man to get her out of a ditch when she falls into one. She'll tire out all possible chances of saving herself before she'll resort to a man. Did I forget to mention that Alex can stab stuff? Oh yes, absolutely! She's a feisty little thing! Heck, she don't need no dagger or blade, she'll take you down with a garden spade! (OH WHAT?! That rhymed right there! I'm a genius! ;))

Why should we vote for Alex instead of Katniss?

Alex and Katniss are both survivors. They do what it takes to survive and get the eff outta...whatever horrible situation they are in. I mean, Katniss is the queen when it comes to a bow and arrow and Alex is a straight up boss when it comes to daggers so I wouldn't want to mess with either one of them because I don't even have to be in close proximity for them to harm me.

You should vote for Alex instead of Katniss because Alex was born a fighter. She was born into a world where having a tough skin was necessary. Alex is fierce, stable, strong-willed and her determination will never waver. Strip Alex of everything she has, and she will still fight to the death if it means that she will survive. I mean, that's basically Survival Skills 101. ;)

Alex has so much potential to be the top heroine of the whole tournament. Half-Blood has only been out in the world for two months and twelve days and already, any bookworm who has picked up a copy has immediately fallen in love with Alex's character and that's not for nothing. As we follow her throughout the series, I believe she will rise and be one of the most top-notch, butt kickin' heroine ever because she has what it takes to go over and beyond it all to survive.

Vote for Alex because....well, basically because I'm telling you too. What else?! Oh and because Alex is like...the underdog of all underdogs!

Anything else you'd like to add?

Now you know the #HalfBloodLegion went wild with their incentives last time and well...we're bringing it ten times more for this round because our passion for our gal, Alex, is just a fierce, burning fire (ha, that made me laugh a bit) that we can't seem to put out. Some might think this has come down to a bribery sort of thing instead for the character herself, but once someone is ignited with passion, you can't stop 'em. ;) If you haven't read Half-Blood...well then, you've kind of, sort of been deprived. I'm just sayin'. For this round, the brilliant JLA has offered up:

250 votes: a teaser from Pure
500 votes: a teaser from Onyx
750 votes: a teaser from Pure and Onyx
1,000 votes: a POV from Daemon (Obsidian)

And that's not all.

1250 votes: a teaser from Seth's POV in Pure 
1500 votes: a teaser from Shadows 
Winning votes: a teaser from Pure, Shadows, Onyx, and Cursed 


For every 1000 votes, JLA will give away an ARC of Pure, up to 6000 votes 
-ARCs will be given away on Twitter
• Follow Jennifer L. Armentrout on twitter.


Also, don't forget that my giveaway for a copy of Daimon, Half-Blood and Pure is still going on. Head on over to this post to enter for a chance at devouring this amazing series quicker than you can say: