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: Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb

Witchstruck - Victoria Lamb

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


Witchcraft alongside the intrigue of Tudor-era England sounds fun, right? According to most of the reviews, it is. I can agree with that! Sadly, the most entertaining elements of Witchstruck fall by the wayside and can do very little to redeem this ultimately frustrating novel.


Most Tudor-era YA historicals are set during King Henry VIII’s reign, but Lamb sets it during Princess Elizabeth’s confinement  in 1555/1556. I honestly thought this was AU at first because I had no idea about it! A good Tudor-era scholar I am not. Despite the frustrations that slowly built up as the novel went on, it’s easy to care a lot about where Meg and her story are going, especially since female friendships/the powers and rights of women are thoroughly emphasized. Most of the characters are merely okay, but Elizabeth shines in all of her appearances. If only it were the same for Meg and Alejandro, our main characters.


Alejandro is by far the more grating of the two as he falls in love with Meg over the course of 70 pages and a handful of conversations. After that, a choppy time-skip tells us Meg has gotten closer to him, she loves how he’s such a good conversationalist, etc. and we’re expected to take this poor relationship development as-is. Not in this house! The development he gets closer to the end is appreciated, but it’s not enough to make up for everything that bothers me about his character.


Meg is the textbook “okay” heroine. She has something of a personality, she doesn’t hate other women, she’s admirably loyal to Princess Elizabeth, and all the mistakes she makes are forgivable. Sounds good, right? Yet her heavily flawed first-person narration makes it easy to let the flaws of the prose reflect back on her.


One of her worst narrative sins is how maddeningly repetitive she is. She thoroughly details why she hates Marcus Dent twice in a single chapter and tells us a few details about a person but then proceeds to repeat those few details about them almost every single time they come up. It almost seems like she thinks the reader has about as much memory as a dead bird. As if we could easily forget Marcus is a cruel, wealthy man and Joan is the simple girl who called Meg a witch after bringing them up so many times!


The ending’s deus ex machina with Meg’s sudden superwitch powers after surprisingly little witchery beforehand eased few of my issues and doesn’t encourage me to stick around for Witchfall. It’s easy to recommend to fans of Jessica Spotswood’s books and anyone who unabashedly loves witches, but others may want to be cautious.


Review: Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman

Want to Go Private? - Sarah Darer Littman

See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten, my shiny new home!


Ew ew ew ew ew ew ew. This is the kind of book so gross that you need a shower after finishing it. Heck, you might need thorough showers while reading it alongside your usual showers in hopes of feeling clean again. Want to Go Private? can be really graphic at times, yeah, but that isn’t quite what I mean. What makes it so horrible that you need to scrub half your skin off? That it’s deeply rooted in truth and events that have happened to children across the world. That is more chilling than any graphic description the novel can offer, and that is why this novel is so wonderful and worth reading. The increase in your water bill will be worth it that month.


The jacket copy makes it sound like a thriller, but it’s not. It’s a slow-burn horror story about a man grooming a fourteen-year-old girl over the course of three months, what happens with her friends and family in the three days she’s missing, and how she and her loved ones continue to suffer in the months after what happened to her. It’s not a pretty story at all. You might need to read it over the course of about a week the way I did because it can be too much to handle sometimes, but it’s absolutely worth reading because it’s so eerily accurate.


Sometimes, it’s really, really hard not to scream ABBY, WHERE IS YOUR BRAIN, CAN’T YOU SEE THIS GUY IS A MASSIVE FREAK AND CREEP AND OH MY GOD, BURN YOUR COMPUTER JUST BECAUSE YOU USED IT TO CHAT WITH HIM.  She very nearly approaches brainless, TSTL levels, but it’s impossible for me to fault her for it because I know it really happens. When I was her age, I felt the same way and used a site called Zwinky the way Abby uses Chez Teen. Had the right person started sweet-talking me, I might have been Abby. I’m sure many of us who became teens in the digital age can remember a time where we could have been Abby.


Perverted Justice, a site that once worked with Dateline for To Catch a Predator and still works to catch sex offenders/predators when they can, contains chat logs from men who talked with these undercover men and women thinking they were teens and tweens. If you have the guts for it, check out the one they list as the slimiest. If you aren’t chilled by a man trying to coerce what he believes to be a depressed, abused thirteen-year-old girl into becoming his submissive, I don’t know what to do with you.


Those volunteers wouldn’t have to pose as children the way they do and say what they do if there weren’t real children speaking the same way and being taken advantage of. So even though Abby is brainless, there is no blaming her, and the way the novel hammers this point in repeatedly in Part 3 warms my heart. There is a lot of doubt, yes, and I understand where the characters are coming from, but there’s always someone ready to say, “Yeah, NO. You are hurting this abused child even more with that kind of thinking and this is exactly why.” And they’re always right.


The graphic nature of descriptions like what Luke does to Abby when they finally meet and the striptease she gives him right after they start chatting over webcam remind me of critics of Speak. Specifically, of the people who want Speak banned because it’s “child pornography” for having a rape scene in it. Want to Go Private? is exactly the kind of book those morons who can’t figure out the intent of a text would say should be banned. They would think the blatant victimization and exploitation of a child by a grown man who should know better is too titillating for the public.


All I have to say to arguments like that is that if they find such abuse and exploitation of children–even fictional children–too titillating, the problem has nothing to do with the text. They’re thinking of the children, all right, but they’re thoughts we don’t want to be privy to.


The only bad thing I have to say about this book is that you should not buy the paperback.  The one I got and all the ones I’ve seen since have bindings so tight that it wrinkles the pages and makes reading it that much more difficult for reasons not related to the subject matter. Get a hardcover or ebook. Other than that, read this. My God, read this. Littman takes what could have been just another modern horror story that isn’t actually scary and breaths terrifying life into it. Beautiful.

Review: Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

Freakboy - Kristin Elizabeth Clark

See more of my reviews on Birth of a New Witch! My copy was an ARC I received from the publisher.


LGBT YA is something we're always going to need more of. It's been on the rise the last few years and it's a joy to see LGBT books like Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe taking home a bunch of awards. However,  I've personally noticed how YA tends to lean toward gay and lesbian characters and away from bisexual and transgender characters. If you expand to QUILTBAG (good lord, even I can't remember what all those letters stand for and one of them represents me!), it becomes clear how even as YA is growing, there are still so many stories it's not covering. Clark tells a story desperately underrepresented in YA and does it well, but it needs to really be hers.


All three POVs in this verse novel have something to add to the overall story, though some sections are weaker than others. Angel's POV, for instance, is the strongest thanks to how she has it all figured out already and shows us the intersectionality of race, class, and gender identity. A POC male-to-female transgender person from a poor background like Angel isn't going to have the same struggle a white upper-class male like Brendan is and thank goodness Clark recognizes this and makes it clear.


In comparison to Angel's POV, Brendan's and Vanessa's are a lot weaker. Brendan spends most of the novel complaining, worrying, and such about whether or not he's transgender. Vanessa's is the weakest of all because so little of importance is in her sections, but it's still important enough that she's an integral part of the novel. When someone comes to realize they are or may be transgender or gender fluid, the boyfriend/girlfriend, partner, spouse, etc. has their own set of problems to deal with. It's not as difficult as discovering your gender identity may not be what you thought it was, but it's pretty difficult to learn your loved one is going through that and not know where you stand with them anymore.


The great issue here is that this doesn't feel like it's wholly Clark's novel. It simply can't be when her style is so strongly imitative of the way Ellen Hopkins writes. If someone took twenty pages of this novel and twenty pages of any Hopkins novel and handed them to a reader blind to either author, there's a good chance they won't realize the samples are from two different authors. Clark pulls all the same tricks Hopkins did in the four novels of hers I read: making symbolic shapes with her verse, hiding deeper thoughts within them, spacing them out to emphasize a point,...


Is it wrong for me to want to see Clark develop her own narrative techniques and play around with verse her way instead of imitating an author she admits she knows personally? It makes Freakboy feel a little less like her own creation, though it never gets derivative enough to be tacky or have plagiarism called on it.


I'm on board for any future novels from Clark because she makes it clear she knows how to tell stories most people don't think about but should, but I desperately hope she comes into her own style instead of continuing to write like someone else.

DNF: After Eden by Helen Douglas

After Eden - Helen  Douglas

Gave up after 150 pages of cliches and Eden hating on other girls (especially Chloe Mason; my GOD, Eden has such a hate-on for Chloe).


After Eden is a list of cliches turned into a time-travel story. There are the dead parents, how all the girls fall all over themselves for Ryan because there are apparently no lesbians in their part of England or any girls who wouldn't be interested in him because he's so sexy, a heroine who doesn't know she's beautiful and denies it every time her crush calls her beautiful (fact: I subtract one star if the main character in any YA novel is exactly the kind of girl One Direction sings about in "What Makes You Beautiful") and the works.


Eden, Ryan, and Connor are all flat as the paper the book is printed on. It's insta-love all the way with Eden and Ryan, though it was excusable at first because it seemed like a simple mutual crush. Unfortunately, it got more grating as the novel went on and earned the insta-love title.


With Connor and Eden, we're told they've been friends for twelve years and they're very close and he's a good guy for real. Well, I sure wouldn't know it! Almost every time we see him, he's so busy being a jealous prick that we never get to see anything that would so much as hint at what has sustained their friendship for twelve years. How Eden didn't notice such an obvious crush is beyond me.


Now we come to Chloe. Her fake tan is so bad she's orange, she wears a bunch of short, tight clothes, and she's all over Ryan because she sees someone she likes and goes for him. That makes her a pathetic joke, according to Eden. Chloe gets this over and over and over again in just 150 pages (and probably gets it even most after this point, but I didn't have the patience to read on), but she's just the main target. Other girls get it too; a couple of girls bash Eden because Ryan is interested in her and go on about how sexy Ryan is.


Jesus Christ, YA, women are not the enemy! We're probably the majority of your audience, so it would be nice to stop insulting us and trying to pit us against each other, please and thank you.


My last four days have thrown a lot of shit at me. I've been on the edge of three breakdowns, two of my roommates were complete assholes to me and haven't apologized yet, one of them has yet to realize she upset me at all because she has all the emotional sensitivity of a decapitated buzzard, I'm on crunch time with a major project, there was an ordeal earlier this week with a book that stressed me out, I desperately want to let out the pressure in my blogging bottle but realize I will most likely be forced to quit blogging if I say what's really on my mind, and this is all happening in the middle of midterms.

Do I have time for this kind of shit too? No I don't, and I'm not going to give it that time. The only nice thing I have to say is that it's not outright offensive that often. Just dumb.

Review: Once We Were by Kat Zhang

Once We Were - Kat Zhang

It’s easy to look at dystopian novels nowadays, roll your eyes, and keep going. Many of them sound the same and it’s easy to pick out which books use the dystopia as an obstacle for the romance or the drama, which ones have premises so laughably weak you can write a paper on why it will never happen based on just the jacket copy, and which wants are actually trying to say something about society. Zhang’s masterful Hybrid Chronicles is one of the strongest, if not THE strongest, YA dystopian series on the market right now and there’s nothing about it I don’t love at this point.


Now that Addie and Eva have semi-equal control of their body, they deal with a whole new set of issues, what with Eva liking Ryan and Addie liking a boy who is not Ryan or Devon. Oh, and not telling Eva that for a while. Their struggle with compromise–because they don’t always want the same thing; Eva agrees to foreboding plans Addie strongly disagrees with and both girls start keeping things to themselves when it’s something both girls need to know–is one of the conflicts at the forefront of the novel.


The other major conflict? Oh, some of the hybrids wanting to delve into terrorism in order to show the single-souled populace they refuse to be incarcerated and lobotomized any longer.


Eva/Addie act as more of vehicles through which we get the story instead of an actual character taking part in the action on occasion, but such moments aren’t enough to dampen my enthusiasm for this novel. It may even be better for them to be reduced to this when their fellow hybrids are planning terrorism because we get a greater understanding of how they got to their current mindsets and what the anti-hybrid sentiment has done to them.


What makes this so strong as a dystopian novel is the metaphors through which it examines our world and what might happen if our Islamophobia/xenophobia goes too far. Reading this so soon after the Boston Marathon bombings makes the parallel of hybrid discrimination and Islamophobia/xenophobia even clearer than it was during What’s Left of Me. Once Sabine, Christoph, and like-minded hybrids make their plans and build their bombs, they become the parallel to Islamic extremists in our world. It’s easy to think of Islamic extremists as pure evil, but like the terrorist hybrids, they’re people too. Their motivations may have arisen from maltreatment and they want change, but both the hybrids and the extremists are only going to make things worse and hurt their cause.


The ending leaves where they’re going from here clear about three feet ahead and beyond that, they’ve got to be trailblazers because what they’ve been doing isn’t going to work anymore. I’ll be awaiting and dreading the third and final book of Zhang’s beautiful trilogy in equal measure. Why would I want the only dystopian series I honestly love to end, after all?


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: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Not a Drop to Drink - Mindy McGinnis

Every now and then, my friends all really like or love a book and then when I get to it, I dislike it. Being the black sheep is rarely fun, but when it happens, it happens. It definitely happened with Not a Drop to Drink. I see where it could be really, really good and wow another reader, but for me, it was too quiet with not enough going on to really engage me.


First and foremost, this book is about Lynn learning how to open up and the story is supposed to be driven by her character development. I say “supposed” because it isn’t actually driven by her character or anything else. Though she gets great development after her mother dies and she comes into contact with more people than she’s ever known, her character simply isn’t strong enough to bear the weight of the story and this relatively short book feels much longer.


She’s a decent enough main character, but some of her leaps in logic are a little ridiculous, like expecting a sixteen-year-old boy to be getting it on with his sister-in-law, who just had a stillborn baby and is in a terrible place mentally due to that and her husband’s death. She demonstrates multiple times throughout the book that she’s well-read and knows plenty about relations between people just from her books, so why get crush-nervous over him being near her? He even denies it multiple times and she still worries about it constantly! Maybe others get it, but it doesn’t click for me.


The world itself seems a bit muddled and poorly explained. This is mostly a survival novel, but there are elements of post-apocalyptic in that something caused a large amount of fresh water to either dry up or get contaminated, leading to the hoarding of what’s left by private citizens and the government. Even more oddly, there are bits of the paranormal with the introduction of water witching, in which certain people have the genetic ability to find water.  It’s brought up two or three times and is completely unnecessary, so I’m not sure why it’s here at all.


Not a Drop to Drink isn’t terrible and it’s sure to find its fair share of fans. Judging from the reviews my friends put up, it already has! I’m ready and willing to read more from her, but I hope future books from her are much more engaging than her debut and her characters can adequately carry their story if they’re character-driven instead of plot-driven.


Review: Fault Line by Christa Desir

Fault Line - Christa Desir

Sexual abuse and sexual assault can screw people up like nobody’s business. Responses can vary from not wanting to be touched at all to wanting to have sex with everyone to anything between the two or far beyond them. It’s one of those events so damaging that their effects on the victims are unpredictable. With Fault Line, Desir writes a raw and perfectly illustrated story of one girl’s downward spiral, the boyfriend who goes down with her while trying to help her, and how rape is everyone’s problem, not just the victim’s. This is a tragedy, not a mystery.


Ani and Ben’s development both separately and together feels a little bit rushed, but there’s enough personality and heart on Ani’s part to feel her pain immediately once she’s raped about a third of the way through the book. Her downward spiral into trying to empower herself by living up to her reputation while telling herself she’s challenging it is all too familiar. I wanted to reach into the book and tell her she was only hurting herself and others, but I know I’d never get through to her. No one could at the point she was at. Not even her beloved Ben.


Ben’s individual development is the one that carries most of the novel’s issues. We hear about how he’s on the swim team and up for a scholarship and spends a lot of time with his family, but we don’t see very little of that in action before Ani is raped and he starts to neglect all that to try and help her get better. It’s simply things we heard he lost and it almost turns him into a vehicle for a story instead of a living, breathing part of the story. The last thirty pages or so are what save him because he finally gets it. Though I know there’s little to no hope for a sequel, I’d love to know where both Ben and Ani go after the abrupt yet strong ending of the novel.


What’s especially sad is how true-to-life this book is about the way people will treat rape victims like Ani, who have little to no idea what happened to them. They’ll say rape must not have happened because she doubted herself due to her lack of memory or she dressed/acted a certain way or they’d rather side with the people who took advantage of her and raped her when she was clearly intoxicated.


These are the kind of horrible people who manipulate the few known and many unknown details of the incident to support their positions, bring in a strawman argument like “two drunk people have sex, the girl wakes up the next morning and calls rape because she doesn’t want people to know she did it willingly” to a situation that is NOTHING like that, and sympathize with the Steubenville rapists. These are people who are all too common and once the book is out, reviews along these lines are sure to pop up. These are people I want to wash my hands of, but running into one is almost certain because of widespread myths and lies about rape.


I’ve been a fan of Desir for a while because of how she expresses her beliefs and personality on Twitter and it’s great to see those beliefs shine through in Fault Lines‘s pages. Her next YA novel won’t be out until fall 2014, but I’m already anticipating it eagerly and planning to get a finished copy of Fault Line to go on my shelves (or in my bins of books, as the case may be; there’s no room for a bookshelf in my dorm room).


My Monday Rocks

I've spent most of today geeking out to all the opening themes and closing songs to Blood+. NO REGRETS. It would be the best Monday all month were it not the guy next to me and his rancid sushi. He gotta get rid of that crap.

Reblogged from The Book Lantern:

Good! Nice to have that cleared up.




Agreed! Also nice to know STGRB is fine with impersonating people now. -rolls eyes-



Fault Line, p. 110

I'm only about halfway through and this just about made me cry with how people are treating Ani, what's happening to her, and how she's feeling.


That might be because it struck me that Ani could be any girl. One of my roommates went to a party recently where there was a lot of drinking going on, quite a bit of it underage. With just minor tweaks to the circumstances, she could have been Ani and people would try to treat her the same way.


THIS is how to write a book about rape and how to subvert ideas about "good" rape victims (the ones who get attacked out of nowhere), how rape happens, what rape is, and the way society treats people who are deemed "bad" rape victims because they were drinking at a party or were drugged or can't remember what happened (and sometimes, it might be all the above). No matter the circumstances, rape is rape. Some people can try to say the circumstances are too unclear and try to say it didn't happen, but the truth stands and they've simply exposed themselves as horrible people.

Good Friends, We May Be in Trouble

I heard through the vine that the CEO of this site might be in cahoots with (even though it's inaccurate, I REALLY wanted to use that phrase, but now I fixed it) bowing to STGRB. At a friend's prompting, I took my proxy and went to investigate.


It doesn't look good. (By the way, there are links and not images because the images were too big to fit in this post. I tried, trust me.)


This is STGRB's post about it, which uses posts from Rick Carufel's site.They don't link to Rick's site for these because the two had a tiff and never want to see each other again, but it took about a minute's worth of investigating to figure it out. His profile as shown here links to BookLikes. Not any specific profile. Just BookLikes.


Here are Dawid's comments on Rick's post.


Here is where Dawid's profile links from Rick's post.


STGRB's MO, from my experience, is simply a manipulation of the facts by presenting some while omitting others. Their decisive commenters and supporters-in-email are usually anonymous. If this is them trying to manipulate us once again, they've changed their MO significantly by outright impersonating this man on one site or both.


Make your own judgments. We will hopefully have word from Dawid soon on if he really made these statements or if these people are making up his comments and impersonating him.

Guess who is helping STGRB hide our reviews

Reblogged from The Book Lantern:



- - - - - - - - - - 


Oh goody, as basically no site is free from bully mollycoddling.


How can anyone justify going out of their way to appease a group of people who have BEEN PROVEN to be stalkers, harassers and the very thing they claim to be against? All you have to do is Google the site and Foz Meadows's wonderful Huffington Post piece comes up on the first page! 


Has Dawid or anyone at BookLikes said anything else about this? They know exactly why so many people left GoodReads to join their site and they should know better than to pat the backs of the very group that spoiled blogging for so many good people.

Review: Heaven by Alexandra Adornetto

Heaven - Alexandra Adornetto

In the first two chapters of Heaven, a priest dies solely because he officiates Bethany and Xavier's wedding and Bethany's response is a childish "I didn't know that would happen!" when she is confronted about what she did. The rest of the novel is this bad and worse. Bigotry, rampant girl-hate, a complete disregard for the tenants of Christianity, purposeful misinformation about abusive relationships, and more make this the worst of the Halo trilogy.

On the bright side, the pacing is better. Whether it had to do with my desire to get this book read as quickly as possible, I took less issue with the prose. That's... about it.

Before anyone asks, I read this to get back my peace of mind and put the series behind me for good. A few weeks ago, I realized I'd never be rid of the thought of these books if I didn't read Heaven and get all my questions answered, so I did some legwork and managed to procure an ARC. Are we clear on that? Good. Anyone who asks "Well, why did you read this?" will be ignored now.

Bethany regresses to the behavior and logic of a three-year-old in Heaven. Funny how she says she said she'll never forget that her actions led to a priest's untimely death and yet she only brings it up once or twice after she says that. Multiple people get killed because Xavier and Bethany go on the run and yet the body count their actions rack up don't matter to them. Those people are merely bits of collateral damage incurred on the way to their happily-ever-after (as I believe Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead once put it). Why Ivy and Gabriel put all their effort into defending Bethany and Xavier when they would be well within their rights to force the kids to deal with the tempest they've wrought upon themselves is a mystery.

Then there's this line is uttered by Gabriel: "Marriage is an indissoluble covenant between man and woman (ARC p. 37)."

Outright marriage bigotry. The implication that gay marriage is wrong is clear and it made me, a staunch supporter of LGBT-and-beyond rights, have a fit. Friends will be reporting back to me on whether or not this proclamation makes it into the final copy. I don't want this to be like the "gas pedals on a motorcycle" gaff from Hades that I raised a stink about only for it to not appear in the final copy. Unfortunately, since the purity myth bull permeating Hades didn't get cut, I have a bad feeling this offensive statement won't be cut either.

Girl-hate is everywhere in Heaven. Bethany presents herself as nonjudgmental, but the way she describes other women's clothes and behaviors is pretty judgmental, and the portrayals of human girls is twice as bad as that. Bethany's roommate Mary Ellen is portrayed as obsessed with Xavier and clingy. One girl is deemed bad for asking Xavier (who was undercover with a fake name/background as an unmarried college guy named Ford McGraw) on a date. What is wrong with creating a female character who isn't bad, one-dimensional, an airhead, or a punching bag?

Does this book even know what Christianity is? This is supposed to be an uber-Christian book, but it violates most of the religion's tenants and every rule in the angel handbook gets broken, including an angel and a human having sex (in a forest!). The only rule-breaking that comes with repercussions is Xavier and Bethany's marriage and that's because of the rogue Sevens, who aren't really following the rules. It's implied that God has no problem with Bethany breaking every angel rule she can get her hands on. That's a very large bird being flipped at Christianity.

Oh yeah, and there's something about Hell being up in arms, but that's not important. A visit from Lucifer halfway through the book when he possesses Xavier and a cameo by Jake's ghost is all Hell has to do with this book. That little plot thread about Hell's reaction to Jake's death in Hades gets left hanging there, snipped by a pair of Deus Ex Machina scissors. The real villain is Hamiel (a POC angel; making the only POC character evil was a bad idea) and the Sevens.

Double standards are nothing new in the Halo series, but applying double standards when comparing Xavier and Bethany's unhealthy relationship to Molly's unhealthy relationship is purposely spreading misinformation about what defines an unhealthy relationship. Xavier calls Molly insane for changing schools and making decisions based on what her boyfriend wants. That Bethany decided what college to go to, who her favorite football team was, what her favorite food was, and more based on what Xavier liked is not brought up or challenged. There are multiple jabs at the codependency Xavier and Bethany have and they're all either shut down or ignored. At one point, both characters say they will kill themselves if deprived of the other.

Why was Molly even in this book? The poor girl is a constant punching bag and putting her through an abusive relationship in this book was unnecessary, especially when that is the only time she plays a major part in this book. It almost felt like another jab at critics who say Bethany and Xavier have an unhealthy relationship. "You think they have an unhealthy relationship?" the situation seems to scream. "Well, you're wrong! Molly and her boyfriend Wade are going to show you what a real bad romance looks like!"

This isn't even funny anymore. This is dangerous. There is more than one shade of abuse in the relationship spectrum and ignoring Bethany and Xavier's shade to focus on Molly's like hers is the only one that exists is wrong. Young men and women need to be educated on all the ways, big and small, a relationship can go wrong, not just one or two ways.

And in the end, the only one who has to make a sacrifice so they can be together is Bethany. She has to give up an integral part of herself to be with Xavier and he doesn't have to give up one little thing to have Bethany back. Not even an eyelash. Supernatural or no, I'm disappointed and angered she is the one who has to conform to his life and start all over while he doesn't have to make any adjustments.

Now I am done. That's what matters. I am dancing around in my Jaguars pajamas because I am finally done and after this, I don't expect to pick up any more books I know I'm not going to like. It's all about the good books now, baby. (But I read a book I think I'll like and it turns out to be bad, any jokes at its expense are fair game.) Speaking of good books, I'm going to read some Courtney Summers in order to get over Heaven's mess. In my eyes, Summers just can't write a bad book.


The pre-review I put so much love and hard work into is here:


[...The fuck? That cover? That is probably one of the cheesiest covers I've ever seen and I know cheese. It also looks painful. I wouldn't want to imitate that girl's posture for fear of joining my brother when he goes to get an MRI done on his back.

YA needs a lot of help right now. YA needs editors who will not let manuscripts like Halo and Hades slip by, manuscripts that may as well be written with ink made of fresh shit. YA needs authors who have original ideas, can do their research, know what is and is not romantic (like Bethany and Xavier's relationship? Not romantic. I think Virgil and Andi from Revolution, Alona and Will from The Ghost and the Goth, and Isobel and Varen from Nevermore are far better examples), and know what they're talking about, such as that motorcycles don't have gas pedals. (Full disclosure: that appeared in the ARC and was fixed before final publication.)

YA needs to take risks and publish a book that is different. Not just give-it-a-little-tweak different. Storylines, characters--I mean everything should be more unique and more diverse. Seriously, most of the YA I read and can find is about straight white people with no eyesight problems, medical disorders, or anything. Where's the YA book with a Korean main character or the girl who has to take medication every morning for her bipolar disorder? You can include details like that without making the story all about said details. YA's got to stop clinging to the trends!

Most of all, YA doesn't need authors like Alexandra Adornetto, Lauren Kate, Becca Fitzpatrick, and the entire fleet of wanky authors seen in the first few weeks of 2012. The slut shaming and purity myth indoctrination and glorification/justification of abusive behavior has got to stop before it does even more serious damage to our generation of young women. Girls are worth a hell of a lot more than their virginity, their weight, or their appearances no matter what anyone has to say. They're worth their thoughts, their feelings, their passions, and most of all, they're worth themselves. They're sure worth more than a douchebag who controls them, keeps secrets from them, and won't let them be who they are. No one should be telling them any different.

There are many problems with YA and it's going to take a long time to fix them. I hope I'll be working to fix it from the inside one day, but it's the readers who can make a difference. Don't buy their books even for snark bait. Make noise. Support the good books. Do what you must to stop authors who want to keep preaching such damaging messages.

I get this is Adornetto's hard work and she has put a lot of effort into it. That doesn't mean I can't call it out for the badly written, misogynistic shit it turned out to be. Ignoring the problematic issues of a story just because bringing them up might hurt someone's feelings is much worse than calling them out on it. A book is not just a book; it is media by which people are seriously influenced. Letting her have the power to influence people through her books without holding her responsible for the terrible message she sends out is wrong.

Also, God looking down on haters? Seriously? He's God. He has more important things to do. Why would He condemn a group of people for being honest and speaking out against what they feel is an injustice?


I spent an hour typing up a comprehensive list of books I plan to get, organized by month and then week/release date. I have a similar version offline that I take with me on bookstore trips, but since I'm leaving Goodreads, I it would be a good idea to create one in Quickfox (a note-taking app for Firefox).


Unfortunately, Quickfox's habit of saving the updates to my favorites--which I did not like because it clogged up space--resulted in me losing everything I did while trying to get rid of the six or seven versions I saved while working.






I opened up Quicknote instead (another note-taking app for Firefox; much more reliable) and typed it all back up. Now all is well.



Review: Dinner with a Vampire by Abigail Gibbs

Dinner with a Vampire - Abigail Gibbs

Any novel that makes it okay when the primary love interest threatens/attempts to rape his love interest is on my shitlist. Dinner with a Vampire is the topmost name on said shitlist for this and more. I slogged through 400 pages of this bloated, melodramatic mess before it became impossible.

There were dozens of dynamic opening lines I considered for this review, but that one in particular gets across exactly what someone is getting into if they decide to read this novel. Some people are only going to glance over the first lines of this lengthy review and I want to make what little they'll see have a serious impression on them. Despite receiving six figures for it, Gibbs' novel lacks any redeeming qualities and immature in its execution and characterization.

Right off the bat, we're hit with a lack of logic. Considering the police and Violet's dad already know about vampires and want an excuse to come after them, it's actually safer to let Violet go free than to keep her among vampires. She's kept more because the plot of the book demands it than because it makes sense. Even after reading the entire novel, I'm still not sure why Kaspar didn't kill her.

Violet, despite being the daughter of the Secretary of State for Defense, says "Vampires are monsters. Monsters do horrible things. Humans don't (Dinner with a Vampire, p. 39)." Has she never heard of Ed Gein? Charles Manson? Ted Bundy? Timothy McVeigh? Adolf Hitler? I could go on and on with all the humans who have done monstrous things. This is supposed to establish how in denial she is about what's happening to her and it works somewhat. What it does more of is establish what she is throughout the novel: naive and annoying. I can't remember any redeeming qualities she has.

The beginning isn't so offensive or cliched, but this doesn't last long. Kaspar's bed buddy Charity is almost immediately established as mean girl love rival number one. This happens around the same time the Kaspar/Violet/Fabian love triangle sets in. Then Lyla, Violet's insta-best friend, turns into a second mean girl love rival. Slut-shaming is everywhere, and it's portrayed as wrong when it's Violet being called a slut, but it's apparently right when it's Charity. What? NO. Double standards are not welcome here. Kaspar starts playing hot and cold, the antagonists are flat like paper, and it steals the "are you scared of me?" "I'm not scared of you" bit straight out of Twilight.

Unfortunately, this is not the only double standard of the novel. When Violet takes Kaspar's condoms as a prank, he responds by ATTEMPTING TO RAPE HER. This get brushed off and he remains the primary love interest. When another guy attempts to rape her and then kill her? He's evil.

WHAT IS THIS? Whether it's a vampire novel or contemporary novel or any other kind of novel, it is NEVER okay for the love interest/hero to threaten to rape the heroine, condescend to her all the time by calling her Girly, blame her for the terrible things he does to her, or do pretty much anything Kaspar did to Violet. The way she shrugs off all the bull he throws at her and still fawns over him? That is called RAPE CULTURE and it's dangerous. It's why society still says "she asked for it" when a girl gets raped or assaulted.

I know vampire lit. Dracula has been one of my favorites since the age of seven,. Vampires remain my favorite monsters despite the oversaturation of them in the current market and there is no counting how many vampire books I've read. I have written my own book centered on vampires (and nothing I have said or will say about this book has anything to do with professional jealousy, so don't even try it) because I love vampires so much.

I could wax about all the ways in which I establish the antagonist vampire in my book as evil, but the point: I never use rape to do it. Rape is THE cheapest way to portray a character as evil because it lacks effort and is beyond offensive. Really, what of the double standards? Another character is evil for trying to sexually assault Violet, but Kaspar is good and droolworthy when he does the same thing? This issue is never addressed.

This book reinforces the rape culture people like me have spent so much time fighting and makes teen writers such as myself look bad. If only I'd recognized that I read part of this when it was still on Wattpad as "Dinner with a Vampire. Did I Mention I'm Vegetarian?" It was awful then and it's awful now. I just have a better sense of exactly how bad it is. On the bright side, I didn't pay for this fat piece of badfic.

I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss for review. Also, I hated this book so much that it took me five months to post my review of it here. Truth.