Review: Wandering Wild by Jessica Taylor

Title: Wandering Wild
Author : Jessica Taylor
Genre : Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication Date : May 3rd, 2016
Publisher : Sky Pony Press
| Goodreads | Amazon

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“I believe in possibility. Of magic, of omens, of compasses, of love. Some of it’s a little bit true.”

Sixteen-year-old Tal is a Wanderer—a grifter whose life is built around the sound of wheels on the road, the customs of her camp, and the artful scams that keep her fed. With her brother, Wen, by her side, it’s the only life she’s ever known. It’s the only one she’s ever needed.

Then in a sleepy Southern town, the queen of cons picks the wrong mark when she meets Spencer Sway—the clean-cut Socially Secured boy who ends up hustling her instead of the other way around. For the first time, she sees a reason to stay. As her obligations to the camp begin to feel like a prison sentence, the pull to leave tradition behind has never been so strong.

But the Wanderers live by signs, and all the signs all say that Tal and Spencer will end only in heartache and disaster. Is a chance at freedom worth almost certain destruction?

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REVIEW

Reading Wandering Wild was a task.  It was annoying to struggle through the writing, and it was painful to trudge through a story that didn’t hold my interest beyond the first couple of chapters.  The characters were flat, and their motives were ambiguous, and much like the story itself, they drifted without a true destination for themselves.  After all of this criticism, I should have rated the book lesser 3 stars, and yet I can’t.  I was strangely looking forward to reading more and more about them.  God help me, I was entertained.

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Mini Reviews #5

Title: Liars And Losers Like Us
Author : Ami Allen-Vath
Genre : Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication Date : March 15th, 2016
Publisher :  Sky Pony Press
| Goodreads | Amazon | B & N |

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Keep calm and make it to prom night—without a legit panic attack.

For seventeen-year-old Bree Hughes, it’s easier said than done when gossip, grief, and the opportunity to fail at love are practically high-fiving her in the hallways of Belmont High.

When Bree’s crush, Sean Mills, gives her his phone number, she can’t even leave a voicemail without sounding like a freak. Then she’s asked to be on Prom Court because Maisey Morgan, the school outcast nominated as a joke, declined. She apologizes to Maisey, but it’s too late. After years of torment and an ugly secret shared with their class’s cruel Pageant Queen, Maisey commits suicide. Bree is left with a lot of regret…and a revealing letter with a final request.

With Sean by her side, Bree navigates through her guilt, her parents’ divorce, and all the Prom Court drama. But when a cheating-love-triangle secret hits the fan after a night of sex, drinks, and video games, she’s left with new information about Sean and the class Pageant Queen. Bree must now speak up or stay silent. If she lets fear be her guide, she’ll lose her first love, and head to prom to avenge the death of the school outcast—as a party of one.
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REVIEW

Where the synopsis promises drama, heartbreak, grief, and even swoons, Liars And Losers Like Us unfortunately failed to deliver.

This book was a huge, huge disappointment to me.  You see, according to the blurb, when Maisey, a student from her school commits suicide, protagonist Bree Hughes tries to deal with the guilt of not having helped Maisey when she could, and deals with her grief alongside her boyfriend Sean Mills.  But what I got was a flimsy portrayal of Maisey being bullied, her tragic suicide that only felt like a plot device, and a long-ass speech at the senior prom that felt as forced as it was unnecessary.

The book which should have been about the impact of a fellow student’s suicidal on a school community was actually a 240 page long discussion on how much more important prom was than anything else on the planet.  I’ve been a teenager and I’ve been to dances, and thankfully, I know for a fact that teens really aren’t as shallow as this book showed them to be.  The mention of Maisey’s suicide was used in inside jokes even after her death, which seemed like something not even the most immature of teens would do.

The other thing that this book was chock full of was high school drama that was petty and confusing and absolutely pathetic.  It read like a monologue on exactly how not to spend your time in high school, and I was very very surprised at the utter ridiculousness of some of their conversations.  It got to a point where I had to stop, take a little break, skip a few pages ahead and then continue reading.

The love interest, Sean, was a one-dimensional, static character, who, in my opinion, featured way too much in this book.  He was the textbook book boyfriend (plays the guitar, smells good, doesn’t push for sex, loves the girl in a month’s time) and all of his cliché attributes made me irritable every time he opened his mouth to speak.  And sharing classes with Maisey was one thing, this guy didn’t even acknowledge that one of his classmates was dead.

Definitely one book you can go without reading this year.

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 Title: Into My Arms (Off The Map #3.2)
Author : Lia Riley
Genre : New Adult, Contemporary
Publication Date : September 8th, 2016
Publisher : Piatkus
| Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | iBooks | 
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“You’re here because I want to touch you.”

Beth Jacobs spends her days slogging away in a corporate “fish bowl,” as the hard-working assistant for one of North America’s youngest dot-com billionaires. Aleksander “Z” Zavtra is the definition of dark and dangerous with a sexy Eastern European snarl. He’s also ruthless. Curt. Exacting. An infuriating man she loves to hate. While Beth hardly sees him, it’s as if he’s always watching her . . . Z doesn’t do romance. But he never expected to be captivated by a whip-smart, fiery assistant who just so happens to share an uncanny resemblance to the beautiful face that haunts his dreams. He craves Beth. He wants to stroke her skin, to feel her heat beneath him. And what Z wants, he gets. And for one weekend, the lines between employer and employee are blurred as Z and Beth give themselves completely to the dark pleasures they’ve both been dreaming about. blackdots

REVIEW

Talk about a book that ended fast…way too fast. So fast, that I didn’t have enough time to connect with it.

This is precisely why the idea of novellas about secondary characters don’t sit too well with me. I’m a fan of the 300 odd page love story—the beginning, the middle, the conflict, the reunion—and I probably always will be. Which is why, for me to accept that a full length’s worth of story has been cramped into a 150 page novella, and then to actually like said novella is something that causes me a physical ache in my chest.

Keeping all this in mind, I’d say I liked Into My Arms. It wasn’t a bad book by any means and it made me so, so happy to finally see Beth and Z’s story. However, I also wouldn’t say this was Lia Riley’s best work. Maybe I feel this way because it was too short, or because the story itself felt a bit unlike the author’s usual MO, but something definitely felt off. And I didn’t like that one bit.

The story is about the mysterious hero, Z, owner of Zavtra Tech, surveillance aficionado, and his lady love Beth, whom we know as being one of Talia’s best friends, and personal assistant to Z. Except, she hasn’t seen him, not really. Sure they talk, a lot, but strictly business and only through messages on a computer. Basically, she works for messages on a screen.

And then, one evening, both their lives are turned upside down when Z invites Beth over to his place for a bit of TLC. As secrets are revealed on both sides and Beth understands why exactly Z cannot stand to be touched, she can’t resist falling for this elusive, beautiful man who makes her feel. As for their chemistry, they were okay. cringes  I’ve read better literary couples, I really have, and I found myself boarding the Sunny-Tanner ship. But this one? Yeah…not so much.

Again, I didn’t hate the book. In fact, I loved the writing that felt both typically Off The Map but also a thing of its own. But I wouldn’t say that I really connected with the characters either. I’m more of a talk-it-out romance lover and this book was basically love-through-sex. I’m not against it, but it just isn’t for me. So there was that. Also, Z’s history was really fascinating and regardless of whether or not I liked the book, I appreciated a chance to once and for all have a glimpse into the life of this man who essentially solved most of Bran and Talia’s problems in Inside Out.

As far as novellas go, I’ve read better and I’ve most definitely read worse. I’m a teensy bit disappointed with the lack of real chemistry and the length was absurdly short. I can only hope for better if at all the author decides to pursue some other character’s story from the series.

 

I was provided a free review copy by Sky Pony Press & Piatkus through Edelweiss & Netgalley respectively in exchange for an honest review. This did not in any way, however, influence the content of this review.

Review: Beyond The Red by Ava Jae

Title: Beyond The Red
Author : Ava Jae
Genre : Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication Date : March 1st, 2016
Publisher :  Sky Pony Press
| Goodreads | Amazon | B & N | iBooks |

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Alien queen Kora has a problem as vast as the endless crimson deserts. She’s the first female ruler of her territory in generations, but her people are rioting and call for her violent younger twin brother to take the throne. Despite assassination attempts, a mounting uprising of nomadic human rebels, and pressure to find a mate to help her rule, she’s determined to protect her people from her brother’s would-be tyrannical rule.

Eros is a rebel soldier hated by aliens and human alike for being a half-blood. Yet that doesn’t stop him from defending his people, at least until Kora’s soldiers raze his camp and take him captive. He’s given an ultimatum: be an enslaved bodyguard to Kora, or be executed for his true identity—a secret kept even from him.

When Kora and Eros are framed for the attempted assassination of her betrothed, they flee. Their only chance of survival is to turn themselves in to the high court, where revealing Eros’s secret could mean a swift public execution. But when they uncover a violent plot to end the human insurgency, they must find a way to work together to prevent genocide.

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REVIEW

Beyond The Red is a YA Sci-Fi novel about Queen Kora of the Sepharon Kingdom and rebel soldier Eros.  To say that Queen Kora in deep shit is an understatement, and her problems seem to be growing larger everyday.  Kora is the first female to take the throne in seven generations, and her people are starting to think her incapable of doing her job.  There’s also her twin brother Dima, who resents her for being the older twin and thus acquiring the throne, and her soldiers who are more loyal to Dima than the Queen herself.  Add to that mess the pressure of finding a man to be her mate and producing a heir, and Kora may very well lose her mind.

So how exactly does Eros fit into this equation?  Eros is half-human, and that makes him an abomination and unaccepted to both species.  He lives in the Sepharon deserts with his make-do family, but when Kora kills them all in what can only be called slaughter, he is presented with the option of being Kora’s personal guard or death.  But things quickly go up shits’ creek when Dima basically hates everything to do with Eros.

So that’s it.  Basically, that’s all you need to know about Beyond The Red before you read it.

Safara. The planet.  I loved it.  Yes, it’s possible to love a planet.  The entire world was built very unlike our own planet, and yet, I found myself strangely fascinated by its red desert, the quadruple moons (!!!!) and the entire political scene on Safara.  The whole thing reminded me a lot of John Carter, down to the tattoos and texts engraved on the humanoid Sepharons who were the pre-dominant species on the planet.

Again, with this comes the sci-fi that the planet is based on, and I’m happy to report that there was no overwhelming info-dump whatsoever.  I’m a reader who loves sci-fi, but hates all the info dumped on me in the first ten pages, and Beyond The Red had nothing of the sort.  Information about the planet and its inhabitants (human or otherwise) was given when it was required, and sometimes too late, but exactly when it should have been.

I can’t exactly say that I didn’t loved Kora, but I didn’t exactly hate her either.  I liked being in her mind more than I liked Eros’ POV, but she was of a mercurial mind, and I can’t say that is to my liking.  She was a strong, able queen, with only the wrong people and circumstances around her, but she wasn’t exactly the most outgoing queen either.  She herself admitted that it had been years since she’d seen the city she was ruling, and that felt a little stupid to me.  How would the people like her if they didn’t know her?  So there’s that.

On the other hand, Eros who was one horny guy.  He knew Kora had slaughtered his family (he was right there when it happened) and yet, he wanted to sleep with her every time he saw her thigh, or stomach, or abs, whatever.  he got along with her amazingly, which is ridiculous, because he really should have hated her.  You can say, he was one guy I didn’t get from the beginning to the end.  Complete crazy, no jokes.  I wasn’t exactly gunning for their romance either.  It wasn’t swoony or slow-burn or instalove, it was just plain annoying.  And thankfully, there wasn’t too much romance, so that was quite a relief.  No ships for me in this book, and I don’t even mind.

I can say one of the things that truly disappointed me was the actual parts of adventure.  Most of the book is just Kora feeling conflicted about something or the other, and Eros trying not to mount her like a dog.  The actual adventures were all covered in the last 25% or so, and that really was a bummer.  Everything felt rushed and cramped into the end, and there was literally too much happening in too little time.  Not cool. AT ALL.  The entire book could have gone on a completely different (and better) tangent had the plot consisted of more fleeing and phasers and conspiracies and court politics but I just kept waiting for something big to happen mid-book and nothing did.

All this aside, I do believe that I’d jump on the chance to read a sequel.  The book is pretty one-ended for a sequel, and much is left to the imagination, so I suppose it could go either ways.  And no cliffhanger (yayayayay) so there’s also that.  It’s not a very bad book, but it’s not the best there is either.  The writing could have been so much more impactful but the characters and their generally bothersome personalities ruined the book for me.  There were a number of major events that took place throughout the book, so here’s hoping that the sequel will be better, with less cantankerous characters and more fighting and flighting!

 

I WAS PROVIDED A FREE EARC OF THIS BOOK BY Sky pony press IN EXCHANGE OF AN HONEST REVIEW. THIS DID NOT IN ANY WAY, HOWEVER, INFLUENCE THE CONTENT OF THIS REVIEW.

Blog Tour: The Wanderers by Kate Ormand {Review & Giveaway}

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Hello there, and welcome to Rhea’s Neon Journal? Ever heard of a circus filled with people…who shift into fabulous animals? No? Well, you’re about to! The Wanderers by Kate Ormand is so unique, and so well-done, I’m sure you’re going to love it! Go enter the giveaway for a HC of the book, open internationally! For more entries, hop on to all other tour stops, listed here!

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