Ashleigh Paige

I'm a full-time college sophomore pursuing my B.A. in English with hopes of one day working as an editor. Cats, musicals, documentaries about cults/disasters/tragedies, and curse words are just a few of my favorite things. Also, check out our blog or I WILL FIND YOU.


Review: Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell

Dear Killer - Katherine Ewell

See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten! Because I am so angry, I need to share this one early.


Many implied spoilers for Dear Killer are within. Not lightly implied either. Read even half-attentively and you will see spoilers.


How on earth I went from enjoying the last 90 pages of the adorable, totally-worth-reading Alienated by Melissa Landers to reading all 368 pages of this... THING in a day escapes me. One of my friends started reading it just before me and warned me of what was to come, but the full impact of it did not hit me until I read it myself. Dear Killer is one of the most offensive novels I have ever read. My shame that Alexandra Adornetto wrote the Halo books at my age is nothing compared to the same I feel knowing Katherine Ewell is also my age and put out this sexist, poorly written and researched piece of horse shit. I would rather reread all three Halo books than suffer through this again.


It starts out decent. Not great, not well. Decent. After all, when the first victim is Lily, a woman whose fiance wants her dead because she knows he killed a man while driving drunk and is "blackmailing" him with that, there's only so good it can be. Then a policeman--the policeman who is a major force in Kit's life throughout the novel--says this about the victim and the motive behind her death:

"Most of the time, I find the Perfect Killer disgusting, but other times I wonder why we aren't congratulating him." (Ch.6; around page 88 according to my estimation)

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Review: Premeditated by Josin L. McQuein

Premeditated -

See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten!


Premeditated was probably my most highly anticipated standalone novel of 2013. Vengeance story, you say? SOLD. Nothing gets me more than a good vengeance story. The novel isn't exactly what I would it would be based on what I'd heard, but it's still a great contemporary YA/mystery. Even Dinah's difficult personality and how much energy it takes to simply let her be without criticizing her for her numerous, later-admitted flaws aren't enough to stop this book from being worth the read!

The jacket copy makes it sound like Premeditated is going to be a really screwed-up book and dark as can be, but it's a very different book inside. Dinah's pursuit of the boy she believes pushed her darling cousin Claire to suicide is immature at times in the lengths she goes to (like spiking foods to give the guy a false positive on a drug test), but it works. Her single-minded personality and utterly rapturous descriptions of what it feels like to be her when the cousin she loves more than anything is fighting for her life in the hospital make it all work.  Her character is not a kind one or an easy one; it is a character that must simply be taken as it is. More humorous moments usually provided by her best friends Tabitha and Brucey keep things balanced, as does an improbable romance between Dinah and Brooks.

The way she describes Chandi, one of Brooks' friends, for most of the novel really grated on me because she was falling just short of sex-shaming (using that term now instead of slut-shaming for reasons) and Dinah pretty much does sex-shame late in the novel, but thankfully, Chandi's character gets a good, thorough flip and a whole lot of depth. I loved Chandi before because I knew she was getting a bad deal, but once she had her big scene with Dinah toward the end of the book, I wanted to keep her.

Readers are probably going to see the truth of the mess long before Dinah does and that can be a little frustrating, no doubt. I accidentally spoiled myself before reading the novel and knew it the whole time, so I'm not a good judge of it, but it didn't bother me too much. Because I knew what, I wanted to know why even though I was pretty sure I'd answered that question on my own too. This novel definitely doesn't have the sort of mystery that keeps you in the dark until its resolution. It does have a very satisfying resolution, though. It's bittersweet, but justice will be served.

It's really a shame this book hasn't gotten more promotion because it's good. Really, really good. It means taking Dinah's single-minded way of doing things and the way she ignores obvious signs as they are even though those are difficult traits to simply let lie, but it's so worth it in the end. I'm definitely up for some more contemporaries from her. I'm already in for her next book, which is the second in a series with another publisher.


Review: Ink is Thicker Than Water by Amy Spalding

Ink is Thicker Than Water - Amy Spalding

See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten! My copy was an ARC I received from the publisher via NetGalley.


My galley tried to pull a disappearing act on me and keep me from reading this book until I bought it (and I fully expected to buy it in order to pay for my stupidity/because I really wanted to read the darn book), but I eventually found the file lost in the annals of my computer and got it working. Huzzah! Though it was nice to read it for free, I would not have been unhappy one little bit to have paid for Ink is Thicker than Water instead.


Spalding's second novel is more focused on often-neglected family than anything else and she absolutely nails the dynamic of this odd, loveable family.More than anything else, Ink is Thicker Than Water is about family. In a world where most YA novels have awful parents or dead parents or missing parents, it can be really hard to find a "normal" family with a healthy, fun dynamic. That's exactly what's going on with the Brooks/Stone family. Even when adopted daughter Sara is getting to know her birth parents and having a crisis about who her family is and everyone else is trying to deal with that, the focus always remains on the importance and loveliness of a good family and it may have been my favorite element of the novel.


Kellie is a pretty well-developed character who sometimes comes off as a bit hipster-ish (she's rather strange when she's sneering at the idea of doing extracurricular activities) but is generally the kind of teenage girl you probably went to school with if there were teenage girls at your school. The secondary characters really got me too. Sara's conflict about her family and the way she feels insecure in her kooky family echo Kellie's own insecurities when standing next to her smart, perfect sister are wonderfully written. And Adelaide? LET ME LOVE YOU. YOU ARE ME IF I HAD A BACKBONE AND STUFF.


The romantic element of the novel is one of my less favorite bits of it. Oliver and Kellie are great as friends, but they don't work so well together as boyfriend and girlfriend. Honestly, I forgot sometimes they were even dating, but then I remembered they had sex and were going out on dates and such. Had this been more heavily focused on, it would have been a problem, but it's a relatively small part of the novel and the storyline as it plays out there is pitch perfect, so it's never in any danger of being awful. I wish Kellie didn't call Oliver crazy as much as she did, though. Yeah, he's got some mental health issues he's dealing with. Crazy = no.


It feels a little wandering and unfocused sometimes, but the family element of Ink is Thicker Than Water stay strong from the very first page to the very last, and I'm looking forward to reading Spalding's other novel The Reece Malcolm List, not to mention buying a physical copy of this one for myself. My review seems a little thin to me, but when a novel is pretty darn good like this and evades description, that's simply how it goes. It's almost always a good thing.

Review: The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

The Promise of Amazing - Robin Constantine

See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten! My copy was an ARC I received from the publisher via Edelweiss.


YA contemporary is my genre, okay? Most of my favorites come from it and the only thing I look more than a good YA contemporary novel is a good YA vampire novel because I'm one of the few remaining vampire fans out there. The Promise of Amazing sounded adorable and seemed to promise complex characters, a realistic story, and so much more. I enjoyed it to an extent, but the novel disappointed me.

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Review: Sorrow's Knot by Erin Bow

Sorrow's Knot - Erin Bow

See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten! My copy was an ARC I got in a swap.


For years, a copy of Plain Kate sat patiently on the shelf in my high school library and yet I never checked it out. The rave reviews were nearly everywhere in the blogosphere, but it took me until my last year and a half of high school to utilize our library. When I walked by it, I either said “I’ll do it later” or found too many other books I wanted to read more. I still want to read it, but my experience with Sorrow’s Knot makes me a little more hesitant. Though it’s beautifully written and very unlike other YA fantasy novels, the way the prose has to carry most of the story’s burden makes me worry Bow simply might not be a writer for me.


Its strongest selling point is how it’s so unapologetically female-centric. The residents of Westmost are almost all women and girls; the men of the village are usually either traders who are only there temporarily or boys born there who most likely end up leaving when they’re older. The women hold the power and it’s simply how it is. Most fantasy is European-based and usually has someone questioning women in power or oppressing women, so it’s unbelievably refreshing to see something different.


The worldbuilding is just as interesting. Bow paints a picture of a world heavily reminiscent of North American/Native American culture, though the Shadowed People aren’t meant to represent or parallel any particular culture. It’s a bit difficult to perceive some of the cords and knots they make while binding, but that didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying Otter’s world, trials, and enemies. Those white hands on the cover aren’t there for nothing; they’re among the most terrifying creatures the novel has to offer.


Bow writes like the tales she’s spinning are fairy tales and it’s absolutely gorgeous. For the first one-hundred pages, I was spellbound. After that, the magic wore off–but by no fault of the author. This has happened once before with Ash by Malinda Lo. Though I love fairy tale-esque writing as much as the next person, it’s best for me in short stories and novellas, not 200-page or 300-page or longer novels.


More troubling, it felt like the prose was forced to carry most of burden. The characters weren’t quite strong enough because they were so entangled in the prose and that is why I haven’t discussed the characters; there were brief moments of plotty happenings, but they resolved themselves quickly. Reading a story solely on the basic of beautiful prose isn’t doesn’t work for me.


I got to about page 200–over halfway through the novel–and yet it still felt like such an uphill battle to read more because it seemed their story turned into a journey and the prose really was all that drove the story forward. That kind of stress isn’t good for my already-in-trouble reading habits (I haven’t finished a single book since I started this about ten days ago due to reader apathy and outside factors), so I decided to put it down.


I absolutely recommend it to people who loved Ash‘s storytelling or Bow’s other novel because I hear it is the same, but if gorgeous writing can only take you so far, you might want to be wary of Sorrow’s Knot or take it slowly. Very slowly.

Review: No Angel by Helen Keeble

No Angel - Helen Keeble

Angels are bad for me. With maybe one or two exceptions, books that center on Judeo-Christian angel mythology usually kill me, but c’mon! Helen Keeble! How much I enjoyed Fang Girl + lovely author = I’m a sucker.


Rafael is kind of a douchebag, but it works because how douchey he can be never overpowers his personality. He’s got a good heart beneath the spot-on snark and when he gets too far out of line, there’s always someone ready to smack him in the back of the head and set him straight (usually Krystal or Faith). Seeing as he didn’t think very deeply into why students were being given guns and told to go to a shooting range when they got in trouble during one class, it’s also evident he has an Idiot Ball permanently glued to himself.


If you did a double take at the gun thing, don’t worry because I did too. I promise there’s a good explanation for it. It may not explain how parents never question a gun range and guns being on a prep school campus, but it explains why it’s there in the first place.


For the most part, the novel is slowly plotted, but it rarely feels as slow as it technically is. When the plot isn’t around to move us forward, Raf finds himself growing new appendages or discovering he has a lot more eyeballs than the average human being should. His research into this and incidents related to it all is what keeps us going in the meantime. When the plot does kick in, it becomes clear nothing is as it seems. There are enough twists and turns that everything we thought we knew at the beginning of No Angel is pretty much out the window by the end. And I mean everything.


There are just as many twists that make the novel’s mythology difficult to digest, sadly. I think of pentagrams (upside-down star in a circle) and pentacles (right-side-up star in a circle) as two different things. In No Angel, they are called the same thing. This is technically correct, but thanks to how I associate pentagrams with “evil” and pentacles with “good,” it seems a little strange to me that a pentagram was used to summon a guardian angel AND bring forth demons. And that makes sense to Raf, who has already been demonstrated to be a little brainless. A later reveal also makes the powers Raf comes into that much more confusing, It’s impossible to go into details because it’s a major spoiler, but the point in question doesn’t feel fully explained.


Then we come to what might be the most relieving element: the very low-key role romance plays. It seems like it plays a much stronger role when Raf meets Faith and starts to crush on her hardcore, but like I said, nothing is as it seems here. Believe it or not, it takes until the last page for Raf to take the first explicit step toward a romance with another character that has nothing to do with his angelic duties.


So all in all, anyone who enjoyed the way Keeble subverted, parodied, and generally poked tired tropes with fun results in Fang Girl will surely enjoy No Angel just as much. At this point, she could write just about anything and I would be willing to read it because I know she’s going to entertain me and make my head spin all the right ways.

Review: The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

The Distance Between Us - Kasie West

See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten!


Oh, The Distance Between Us. It got rave reviews across the board from all my friends and yet it disappointed me so thoroughly. There’s no doubt it earned its praise, but to me, it’s just another fluffy contemporary YA novel with nothing to make it stand out. Never before have I forgotten a hundred pages’ worth of development and events less than two minutes after I put it down.


Though it takes place when Caymen is still in school, the California feel and the sweetness of it all makes it scream SUMMER at the top of its nonexistent lungs. Caymen’s penchant for dry humor is exaggerated to the point of annoyance in the beginning, but once that clears up, we have a clear road to an adorable romance between her and Xander that begins with “career days” and comes to fruition just after Caymen and her best friend Skye TP Xander’s house. Caymen gets proven wrong about her deep-seated prejudices (well, for the most part; she was entirely right about one guy) and everything is tied up with a happily-ever-after that’s a mite too neat but otherwise fine.


Sounds great, right? I thought the same while reading it, but all that disappeared once I put it down. Reading large sections of a book at once and then taking a while to get back to it if I have to put it down isn’t uncommon; it happens enough that I decided to call these sorts of incidences bubblegum books (because I when I get bubblegum, I devour all of it as quickly as I can and then don’t get more for months).


The Distance Between Us goes above and beyond as a bubblegum book because while I read a lot in one sitting and then take days to get back to the book, I remembered very little about it when I picked it up again and thought about it while not reading. That is most definitely not normal with bubblegum books and it’s probably due to the cookie-cutter nature of the novel and its meandering plot that takes forever to get anywhere. It’s cute and all, but so are a lot of other contemporary YA novels. There’s absolutely nothing that makes it memorable except for my annoyance at how yet another jacket copy is pretty bold/open about a twist that isn’t revealed until the last twenty pages.


If you’re looking for something to remind you of warm, sweet summers during the cold winter months, pick up The Distance Between Us and you might be in luck–and it’ll still be good for summer, of course. No time like then for a reread! Most of my friends have loved this and I’m a renowned black sheep, so there’s no way I can say not to consider it at the very least. Actually? Screw it. Go pick it up. This is 100% me and unless you’re my long-lost brain twin, you’ll love it.

Review: Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Blood Red Road (Dust Lands, #1) - Moira Young

See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten!


To compare any post-apocalyptic/dystopian novel to The Hunger Games and call it better than that bestselling series is the kiss of death. Putting that claim on the paperback cover? Eek. I picked up Blood Red Road a couple of months ago solely because the jacket copy for its sequel Rebel Heart sounded right up my alley, but I didn't expect to love it. Surprise surprise, but I really did love it! Call it the kiss of death for my credibility, but I honestly enjoyed Blood Red Road more than I ever enjoyed reading The Hunger Games.


It took over a week to finish Blood Red Road, but none of that is due to the novel's faults; classes and outside obligations kept getting in the way of precious reading time. Once free time did come around, I devoured large sections of the novel whole and found myself emotionally engaging with the book and reacting to it in ways I feel like I never do. Saba comes such a long way from the beginning, when she is content to follow her brother Lugh as he leads the way, to the leader and fighter she's become by the time the novel's climactic scenes arrive. Most of the characters get development just as strong. Even Emmi, Saba and Lugh's annoying little sister, turns out to be less annoying than originally thought and actually pretty useful.


The nonstandard narration is what originally warded me away from the novel when it came out. There are no quotation marks to indicate dialogue and the language is heavily colloquial, which means "misspelled and often wrong according to proper English" here. I expected that to annoy me and my by-the-books love of English, but it works out surprisingly well. The way it makes readers pay attention so they can figure out who is saying what may be what makes it all so engaging! It sure made me stop skimming (I confess, I am often a skimmer due to wanting to get to the good stuff) and really look at these characters' struggles.


There is no explanation for how our world became Saba's though that is clearly the case. It works in a way because we're more able to immerse ourselves in her world of deserts, storms, and desperate fights for survival without getting bogged down in backstory of how things got that way. People who like explanations for their post-apocalyptic wastelands will not be too big a fan of that choice, though. I'm big on worldbuilding and having the "how" and "why" of a setting if it's dystopian or post-apocalyptic, so it nagged me a little while I read. Not horribly, but the concern sat in the back of my mind and still sits there even now, waiting patiently to find out how we became known as Wreckers and what the heck we wrecked when.


The novel's focus is finding Lugh. Nothing trumps that, especially not the romance. Though that sounds good at first, but that inability to give the romance a little more time to develop put a damper on my enjoyment. Most of that development is left to the heartstone Saba acquires early on and how it gets hot when she gets near Jack, meaning he's her heart's desire. A rock really and truly directs the romance from the get-go and they later say they both knew they wanted each other and it was meant to be at first sight. -sigh- Fated or magic-rock-directed romances don't work like that, okay?


Despite all those concerns, Blood Red Road is a solid read. So solid, in fact, that the errands I have to run in order to get my car spider-free may or may not have been planned to take me by a bookstore where I can buy the new paperback for Rebel Heart, its sequel and the book whose jacket copy/buzz so entranced me. If you're feeling a little exhausted with post-apocalyptic YA, give this a try. Maybe it will break you out of your slump or become a new favorite!

Review: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

This Song Will Save Your Life -

See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten!


Just by looking at that jacket copy, it’s hard not to see a little of oneself in Elise. We’ve all struggled with being the butt of the joke, the outsider, the unpopular one, or the target of reasonless bullying. Thanks to that and plenty of glowing reviews, I expected This Song Will Save Your Life to make me ache in about a million different ways, all of them good. It did toward the end, but the journey to the last fifty pages or so took far too long for a book just 288 pages long.

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Review: The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman

The Grimm Legacy - Polly Shulman

See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten!


I've owned few books for as long as I've owned The Grimm Legacy. I got it as a Christmas gift in 2010, but it sat on my TBR pile, still looking good but not good enough for me to pick up. It took the 50-page rule to finally make me read it and though it passed that test with flying colors, the book as a whole just barely stayed on my good side. Shulman brings her setting to life, but so many other elements are neglected that it gets frustrating after a while.

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I apologize for the massive influx of my stuff that is incoming and that you've already suffered through. I forgot to cross-post reviews to here and Amazon for about a month.



Review: The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

The School for Good and Evil - Soman Chainani

See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten!


Warning: There is no sugarcoating to be found here.


The School for Good and Evil sounds awesome in concept. Maybe I expected too much from it--I don't think I did because middle-grade is just as capable of saying something and being intelligent as book from any other category--but the premise sounded like the perfect way to both pay tribute to fairy tales and challenge the gender roles and other such problematic elements that permeate them. Did it do it?


You get three guesses and this gif is your only hint.



Good god, no it didn't. The School for Good and Evil is bad on so many unexpected levels and I want to see it banished from my home. No, from my brain. I wish I'd never read it and never suffered through it spitting in the face of my feminism so much.


The novel starts out well enough and the lovable whimsy of fairy tales is threaded throughout the novel even when things get irritating. From the very first chapter, it's clear why Sophie ends up in Evil and Agatha ends up in good: everything "good" Sophie does is done with the self-centered purpose of proving she is good and Agatha has her heart set on getting her and Sophie home from the moment they arrive at the schools. Of course, it takes them roughly half the book to see this themselves. My reader privilege of seeing things more clearly and the obviousness of it all made that particularly frustrating.


Sophie is right at home in the School for Evil from the start even though all the villains think otherwise. Meanwhile, Agatha is in the right pleace in heart but not in spirit because she is the antithesis of everything the novels holds up as princess-like. She spends most of the novel being the most real, well-developed character with the best story. Then the last 100 pages arrive and she becomes the princess to a T. She loses everything about her that made me care so much about her story because she'd rather be like everyone else than keep being herself, and gives up on questioning and messing with fairy tales. It is 100% about conforming to them and glorifying them. Even the chapter with the Wish Fish seems suspect now. It initially seemed to be pointing out that Good has screwed-up, horrific standards for girls, but there's no way to be sure anymore because it rejoices in everything problematic.


The prince of our tale? A spineless, flip-flopping jock who kicks bunnies. WHY AM I SUPPOSED TO WANT THESE GIRLS TO BE SWOONY OVER A PRINCE THAT KICKS BUNNIES? That THIS jerk is who causes so much contention between Sophie and Agatha--and also ALL THE GIRLS IN GOOD for a time because all of them want him--appalls me. Take the nearest inanimate object and paint a face on it. BAM. Right there is a prince (or princess, depending on how you swing) far better than Tedros will ever be.



In addition to all the, the narration is inconsistent, jumping between two or three people in a single scene without any good transition. Thanks to the girls taking so long to figure out they really are where they belong, the book moves forward slowly and is much, much longer than it needs to be. In the grand scale of what is to come, these problems are minor.


No, the real problem begins with the novel so ardently sticking to the less woman-friendly elements of fairy tales and basically spitting in feminism's face as much as possible.


From the start, it establishes good is pretty and evil is ugly. This is the one thing that seems to be really questioned and it gave me hope, but don't be fooled just because these beauty standards seem challenged early on. Like everything else, Sophie and Agatha, who originally defy this, conform to it perfectly. As mentioned earlier, there's a lot of girl-against-girl in part due to Tedros and in part due to... BECAUSE MEAN GIRLS! That's pretty much the reasoning I get from it. I can't even point to the friendship between Sophie and Agatha as female-positive because I don't understand why they're friends. Sophie treats Agatha horribly.


When Sophie decides to dress up and try to impress Tedros that way, things really take a turn for the disastrous. One day, she is wearing an "extermely short dress" that shows off "her long, creamy legs" and a heavily made-up face ("her face was painted geisha white, her eyelids pink, her lips vermilion") (all direct quotes from p. 250); another day, she is wearing a"revealing black sari" (p.261).


SOPHIE IS TWELVE OR THIRTEEN YEARS OLD. Sexualizing a girl this young is so far from good that there is no word for it. Sexualization + cultural appropriation with the sari =

Who needs words when there are explosion gifs?

We've also got a princess whose age is somewhere between twelve and sixteen (Beatrix's age is never stated) telling other girls to skip breakfast because it makes them fat anyway. For one thing, that's false. For two, a possibly pre-teen girl spouting that disturbs me. That girls care that much about their image is a huge problem and the line really is unnecessary. Even if it comes from the mean girl's mouth and can probably be discounted, it isn't needed.


I wanted to go on about the novel's bad relationship with homosexuality because it's treated like something awful when two princes are rumored to be going to a ball together so one of them doesn't get stuck going with Agatha and a villain uses implications of it falsely to try and make a prince betray his princess, but I cannot. I literally cannot because the mess there is so huge I can't tell what is awful and what is not. All I know for sure is the novel doesn't worry about LGBT people. No gay princes or lesbian princesses here.


The only reason this isn't zero stars and out my window is because Agatha started out so well, the illustrations inside are quite nice, and one particular page (161, if you're curious) remains awesome even after my reading experience went so sour. Tedros being kicked in the groin by Goblin!Agatha is never not wonderful. In any case, I want nothing to do with the sequel and nothing more to do with this book. Skip it, read it, whatever. As long as I don't get roped into it somehow, have at it! Meanwhile, I will be trying to find ways to get rid of both my ARC and my finished copy.

Review: Prodigy by Marie Lu

Prodigy - Marie Lu

See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten!


I didn't like Legend. Nope, didn't like it much at all due to the failure to pull off the dual points of view and the ridiculous premise. However, Prodigy is a very different story even though the hype and how almost everyone that has loved it has also loved book one made me worry it would be just another bad book.  Nope! Prodigy hooked me where Legend failed to and made me excited for Champion in a way I never expected.


With their escape from prison/Los Angeles and the way it takes them away from everything they've known all their lives, June and Day have to adjust fast. The conflicts they face romantically as both start to ponder if they have feelings for other people as well as each other and overall as they figure out where they're going next/who they owe their loyalty to are believably written (and very fun, when it comes to the romancey stuff). The basic message I get? Everyone and everything sucks. Both countries are terrible places because there is no pretty utopia and they both have terrible people, but the levels of awful vary and some things/people are far more or far less horrible than others.


June and Day still read the same to me sometimes (my ebook doesn't have colored ink the way the physical copy does) and the explanation behind how their world got to where it is still makes me giggle at how ridiculous it is. But you know what? I don't even care anymore. Good books make me forget all my niggles about character voice, worldbuilding, etc. in order to enjoy the story and that is exactly what Prodigy does. It's a thrill ride from start to finish and never once are any of the assassination plots, daring escapes, and sudden twists boring--and I can easily find that stuff boring. Action movies/books are not my thing until they're so good they are.


Also, the hype behind the bathtub scene? Rubbish. All of it. Gosh, I expected NA-level heat from the way people talked about it and yet it was so tame. They're making out, Day's shirt is gone, and they forget about the bathtub with its running water. The version I had a dream about just before starting Prodigy was a little more, ah, satisfying. What was it like? That's my little secret. Buuuuut it was still a fun scene. The hype killed some of the fun, though.


Thank goodness I bought Champion on a whim when I found a signed copy in Target one day. After that cliffhanger, I want to get to it ASAP and see where June and Day are going to go next. Sadly, review books are standing in my way...for the moment. They won't be in my way much longer because I refuse to wait more than a week or two.

Review: Horizon by Alyson Noel

Horizon - Alyson Noel

See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten! My copy was a hardcover I received from the publisher for review.


Very rarely does a series so completely change my mind as the Soul Seekers series had. Fated showed so much promise and yet failed to deliver on it, but Echo took some of those broken promises and mended them with Mystic doing more of the same. Horizon not only delivers the most promise of all four books but acts as a solid conclusion to a series full of diverse characters and a magic/mythos few others dare to try their hands at but that Noel uses well.


It's difficult to get a handle on these characters and their mindsets at first thanks to the unusually long six-month timeskip between the end of Mystic and the beginning of Horizon, but once Dace makes his move toward the side of the Richters for his own reasons, the heat is on and the book never slows down. Not even unnecessary chapters told from the POVs of Lita and Xotichl, whose voices often blend together with Daire's and Dace's because there isn't enough differentiation between them, are enough to stop the book from charging on toward the grand battle for Enchantment and the three worlds.


Something funny about this series is the fact Daire and her friends regularly bumble right into the enemy's hands, but they always win out in the end. There is usually some sacrifice, yes, but they come out surprisingly well for it and manage to just barely avoid defeat so they can keep fighting and keep good's light burning on. Just as it has happened in the last few books, it happens again here and Cade of all people is the one to help them achieve their victory this time. Let's just say Dace wasn't the only one affected by the piece of darkness he took from Cade.


The climactic fight takes up almost half the book, if you can believe it. And it works! That lengthy battle is exactly why the novel moves at such a breakneck pace. Once everyone slides their pieces into place and they go to the Rabbit Hole for the grand re-opening, all hell breaks loose as monsters come out to play and all three worlds are affected. So much of importance happens in all these pages that it's difficult to list them all! Then all that fighting and death turns into a happy ending for just about everyone who has earned it once the battle is over.


At first, the ending seems too sweet and HEA-ish. Good suffers few losses that mostly turn out to be Disney Deaths and they're going around claiming evil has been eradicated, which doesn't quite ring true with this series or with the entire structure of the good vs. evil battle the novel set u. Then one character walks in to remind us evil is far from gone and will never be gone because dark without light or light without dark is impossible. That law is why Daire exists, so it not applying to evil would be too disingenuous. This is the end of Daire's story, but this is far from the end of her work--and that is just how it should be on both counts. If you're willing to get through a bad first book to get to some really entertaining stuff, the Soul Seekers series will deliver on its promises.

Review: These Broken Stars by Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman

These Broken Stars - Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner

Just about everyone I know has been gushing about this for ages. Between the romance, the feels, the swoons, the "Titanic in space" pitch, and everything else, it sounded great. What I got? Not as great as expected. These Broken Stars is a likable enough story with strongly written characters and equally well-written sci-fi elements, but


Please go back to all the phrases/words I brought up when describing the hype. If you're sharper than me, you can figure out they sounds like they're all related to a romance. You're right! You'll also find what disappointed me so much because the romance is far from what it's cracked up to be. Though I love Tarver and Lilac as individual characters and Lilac especially as she finds herself after the crash releases her from her father's iron-fisted rule over her, the two of them together and in love does not work. They hate each other and yet are secretly swooning and then all of a sudden, it's like someone flipped a switch and they can't keep their hands off each other. It's odd.


What makes up the majority of the novel is a survival story. For over 200 pages, Tarver and Lilac crawl through the forests and over mountains to get to the crash site of the Icarus so rescuers can find them more easily. Though my galley's odd formatting (double-paged, which made it easier to read on my laptop than my Nook) and major college commitments contributed to why it took me so long to read this book, the number-one reason is how dreadfully boring those 200 pages of repetitive traveling and developing romance were. The first 50 pages and the last 100 pages are the only points of major action.


Intersped with our narrators' chapters are quotes from Tarver's interrogation. The quotes' main job is to characterize Tarver and foreshadow through his lies how much changes between him and Lilac--and how he has changed in general--but they made me so angry I nearly DNFed the book at many points. There I am, slogging through a book where the burgeoning romance bores me and nothing has happened for hundreds of pages and like spoilers from the future, the quotes come to tell me they get rescued eventually but I have to keep suffering for now. The quotes laughed at me. THEY LAUGHED AT ME.


Breathe in, breathe out... Sorry about that. Being teased by books in such a way really grinds my gears.


Going back to the sci-fi elements, I don't know or understand the science behind them (I rarely do with sci-fi novels, honestly), but it sounds fine enough and nothing sticks out to my non-science-y self as pure bull, so it passes my very easy test. Special mention goes to the thoroughly interesting ideas and explanation related to what Tarver and Lilac discover late in the novel. Seriously, more about that, please. Drown me in that science!


Readers who have been looking for a good YA sci-fi romance are surely going to find it here, but anyone reading for something other than that might encounter some disappointment. Tarver and Lilac's story is finished; the second book will star a new set of characters set in the same world. Depending on how it sounds once more information comes around, I might stick around for it, but for the moment, it looks unlikely.


Review: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

This Song Will Save Your Life -

See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten!


Just by looking at that jacket copy, it’s hard not to see a little of oneself in Elise. We’ve all struggled with being the butt of the joke, the outsider, the unpopular one, or the target of reasonless bullying. Thanks to that and plenty of glowing reviews, I expected This Song Will Save Your Life to make me ache in about a million different ways, all of them good. It did toward the end, but the journey to the last fifty pages or so took far too long for a book just 288 pages long.


The first two chapters have Elise telling us her story in this bafflingly blasé voice. “Yeah, I’ve been bullied endlessly for years and one day, I snapped and decided to attempt suicide. The weather is lovely outside.” That’s not an actual quote, but the tone of it is pretty much exactly the same. Most of the book is like this, but there are small moments of stellar, emotional writing throughout, usually to do with DJing and her experience with it. Somehow, most of these only come in the last fifty pages. Why couldn’t they be more evenly placed throughout the book? Better yet, why couldn’t the entire book have been that great?


Elise is only sympathetic as a bullying victim and as plenty of fellow victims will, they’ll know exactly what kind of pain she’s in. It’s a bit of a cheap way to gain that sympathy for someone who is otherwise thoroughly characterized as a terrible person. She’s a snob that thinks herself better than the two people who aren’t bullying her and actually trying to be nice to her–and in all honestly, she thinks herself better than everyone else too. This doesn’t change much Sally and Chava even know Elise thinks she’s better than them, but they take her crap anyway for a reason that doesn’t end up ringing true after everything she’s done.


But as I said, things finally get good in the last fifty pages. Elise’s shallowly developed infatuation with fellow DJ Char comes to the perfect resolution, a scene with Elise apologizing to her little sister for trying to “save” her in the worst way possible just about made me cry, and the identity of who is writing a fake journal under Elise’s name and their reasoning for it nearly blinded me with anger on Elise’s behalf.


Most importantly, Elise finds herself and recognizes she has plenty of good friends and a solid family support system. Just as much as she needs to be good for herself, she needs to be good to them. Had the whole book been this good, I’d have a four-star or five-star read on my hands, but it’s not and it is how it is.


This marks my second miss with Sales’ books (the first being her debut novel Mostly Good Girls). Her second novel Past Perfect is one I’ve been looking forward to for ages, but with two thorough misfires, its looking less and less likely I’ll ever get to it due to fear it will be another bad book and crush all my hopes. One of my friends thoroughly connected to and loved Elise’s story, so I can’t discourage people from picking up This Song Will Save Your Life either. My advice is to simply think about it.