Ashleigh Paige is Leaving

The title is exactly what it looks like: I’m leaving for a new site. I meant for this arrangement to last longer and to not jerk people around so much between moving here and deleting my account on Goodreads, but going back to blogging on my own is what is best for me. Check out my new site here:

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Some posts you have already missed on The YA Kitten:

See you there if you hadn’t seen my announcement about this on Twitter earlier this week and made your way over for a visit!


Waiting on Wednesday (87)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly anticipating.

Once again, Usagi is not here for comment/WoW pick, so it’s just little old Ashleigh. YA contemporary is one of my very favorite things in the whole wide world and this one caught my eye from the moment I saw it in the Macmillan catalog. Dead people! Letters! If it’s in epistolary the whole way through (I looooooove epistolary novels), I might just die. Since I have an ARC, I hope to start it soon and see if it lives up to my expectations.

Love Letters to the Dead - Ava DellairaTitle: Love Letters to the Dead
Author: Ava Dellaria
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Jacket Copy: It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more; though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was; lovely and amazing and deeply flawed; can she begin to discover her own path.

Top Ten Character Names I Love

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

I’m a name nerd who spends hours upon hours looking at baby names for characters, electronics, and anything else I can name (usually because I can’t find a damn name I like), so this week’s theme is PERFECT for me to jump into Top Ten Tuesday regularly with. I feel like I’m going mad having two reviews a week and nothing else. I want to have more fun! That’s what blogging is supposed to be, right? Anyway, my top ten favorite character names with reasons why that will probably make you laugh at me:

1. Esme Rockett (Sister Mischief by Laura Goode)- First off, I think Esme is a gorgeous name. It reminds me of jewels. Second, HER LAST NAME IS ROCKETT. Rockets are awesome enough, but it looks even better with that extra t on the end just chilling. Changing/adding/subtracting just one letter from a name can make a huge difference in how I perceive it. The girl is a rockstar (actually, she’s a rapper, but you know what I mean) with a name like that.

2. Katharine Tulman (The Dark Unwinding/A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron)- I’m very picky with how the name is spelled–I prefer Katherine and typically revile all spellings of it that start with a C–and at first glance, the spelling here bothered me because WRONG WRONG WRONG. Unlike most alternate spellings of names, this one grew on me and I really, really like it now.

3. Eleanor Fitt (Something Strange and Deadly/A Darkness Strange and Lovely/Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard)- Okay, so I didn’t like Eleanor’s book so much (I still want to read on in the series because I have a good feeling about it), but I love her name. Eleanor is typically not a favorite of mine because it’s a little too retro for my tastes, but pairing it with Fitt as a surname made it work for me all of a sudden. A too-sweet older name balanced out by a curt, harsh surname. Yesss.

4. Vanessa Adler (Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black)- I didn’t like this book either and I’m far from alone in not liking it, but Vanessa is another favorite name. It looks so pretty and sounds so smooth when you say it and– You know what? Let’s cut that off there before this turns into a love letter to that name. Now that I think about it, I like an unusual number of names where the surname is significantly shorter than the character’s given name. I think it gives a nice effect of balance to a name.

5. Audrey Whitticomb (Dark Star/Burn Bright by Bethany Frenette)- Confession: Audrey is one of my favorite names. I could fill in any novel with a character named Audrey in this slot. Like most, I associate it with the glamorous Audrey Hepburn and even on its own, the name Audrey looks fancy. If I were a more outgoing girl who dug all the fancier things in life, I’d want my name to be Audrey because it fits so perfectly.

6. Briony (Chime by Franny Billingsley)- It’s not a name I would use myself, but I LOVE the name Briony whether it’s spelled that way or spelled as Bryony. It sounds lovely and it looks pretty too. Not necessarily neat, but unusual and lovely that way.

7. Every princess’s name in Entwined by Heather Dixon- There’s Azalea, Bramble, Clover, Delphinium, Eve, Flora, Goldenrod, Hollyhock, Ivy, Jessamine, Kale, and Lily. Seeing as there are twelve of them, I had to squeeze them all into one number because they would have made up the entire damn list otherwise. I’m really fond of nature-like names and though the cast has a questionable name in Kale, I genuinely like all the princesses’ names. What can I say? I have a weakness for nature names.

8. Alona Dare (The Ghost and The Goth/The Queen of the Dead/Body & Soul by Stacey Kade)- Rarely is a character’s name so perfect for them. Alona comes off as a preppy name to me and Alona is pretty to the extreme. Good God, this girl. Also a good, unique name for a cheerleader, which she also is. Dare works as a verb and as a mutilated descriptor. There’s little she doesn’t dare to do.

…Hey, I had to make a pun somewhere in this post. Deal with it. Julie Beaufort-Stuart (Code Name Verity/Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein)– Can’t say much about this one for reasons, but it sounds so regal and royal and matches its character perfectly even if we don’t learn it until… Nope. Nope. Not gonna say it.

10. Nikki Beckett (Everneath/Everbound/Evertrue by Brodi Ashton)- It’s got such a nice, bouncy rhythm when you say it, Nikki Beckett, Nikki Beckett, Nikki Beckett,… All those k sounds together sound nice instead of harsh and it’s pleasing to the eyes.

Now indulge my name-nerdiness. What did y’all come up with? I want to see! Feel free to tell me whether or not I made sense in the reasoning for any of my picks too.


Review: Sorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow

Sorrow's KnotTitle: Sorrow’s Knot

Author: Erin Bow

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Publication Date: October 29, 2013 (Arthur A. Levine Books)

Source: ARC I received in a swap

Jacket Copy: In the world of Sorrow’s Knot, the dead do not rest easy. Every patch of shadow might be home to something hungry and nearly invisible, something deadly. The dead can only be repelled or destroyed with magically knotted cords and yarns. The women who tie these knots are called binders.

Otter is the daughter of Willow, a binder of great power. She’s a proud and privileged girl who takes it for granted that she will be a binder some day herself. But when Willow’s power begins to turn inward and tear her apart, Otter finds herself trapped with a responsibility she’s not ready for, and a power she no longer wants.

3/5 stars – Lyrical and uniquely woven but not always grabbing

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.

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The 50-Page Rule: Round 1

We apologize for the silence, dear followers! I’ve been stuck in the middle of midterms and preparing for a major paper for the past two weeks and Usagi just got a job (yay!). With all that going on, it’s been difficult to find time to read and write reviews,

Like most of you, I buy more books than I actually read or have the time to read as a busy blogger. There are some books I’ve owned for two years and STILL have yet to read because shiny new books I can’t wait to read catch my attention. To cull the herd and make sure I’m still interested in what I have on hand, I pick up a few books and invoke the 50-Page Rule. The title is almost self-explanatory: first fifty pages of one of a book I’m no longer sure I want to read. If I like it, it’s for keeps. If I don’t, it’s time to get rid of it. Some of you have your own variations on that, right? You may even have the same rule.

Here are just a few of the books, both upcoming and already released, I’ve gone through in my latest invocations of the 50-Page Rule.

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Review: After Eden by Helen Douglas

After EdenI interrupt my binge of playing Pokemon X and studying for my midterms to bring you this review!

Title: After Eden

Author: Helen Douglas

Genre: YA Sci-fi, Time Travel

Publication Date: November 5, 2013 (Bloomsbury USA Childrens)

Source: print ARC from a swap

Jacket Copy: The day Eden met Ryan changed her world forever. Actually, not just her world. Ryan has time traveled from the future to save the world. In a few weeks, Eden’s best friend Connor will discover a new planet—one where human life is possible. The discovery will make him famous. It will also ruin the world as we know it. When Ryan asks Eden for help, she must choose between saving the world and saving her best friend’s greatest achievement. And a crush on Ryan complicates things more than she could have imagined. Because Connor is due to make the discovery after the girl he loves breaks his heart. That girl is Eden.

Grounded in a realistic teen world with fascinating sci-fi elements, After Eden is a heart-pounding love triangle that’s perfect for dystopian fans looking for something new to devour.

1/5 stars – DNFed after 150 pages/nearly half the book; too ridiculous to bother with

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. This is all the preamble necessary, methinks.

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Review: Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

FreakboyTitle: Freakboy

Author: Kristin Elizabeth Clark

Genre: YA Contemporary, LGBT, Coming of Age

Publication Date: October 22, 2013

Source: print ARC from the publisher

Synopsis: From the outside, Brendan Chase seems to have it pretty easy. He’s a star wrestler, a video game aficionado, and a loving boyfriend to his seemingly perfect match, Vanessa. But on the inside, Brendan struggles to understand why his body feels so wrong—why he sometimes fantasizes having long hair, soft skin, and gentle curves. Is there even a name for guys like him? Guys who sometimes want to be girls? Or is Brendan just a freak?

In razor-sharp verse, Kristin Clark folds three narratives into one powerful story: Brendan trying to understand his sexual identity, Vanessa fighting to keep her and Brendan’s relationship alive, and Angel struggling to confront her demons.

☆: 3.5/5 stars – It’s a story that desperately needed telling and was executed well, but Clark needs to show off her own style

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.