Summer Heat by Rachel Van Dyken — A Review

40865208Summer Heat (Cruel Summer #1) by Rachel Van Dyken

RaeleighReads rating: love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236

Note: This book is only available as an iBook.

Summer Heat is the first book in Rachel Van Dyken’s Cruel Summer series — a fast-paced, new adult romance.

The tables have turned. Marlo, the boy who used to mow Ray’s lawn, is now the director of the elite acting camp where she’ll be working for the summer. Her professional fate is in his hands now, and Marlo is definitely putting Ray through her paces, making her tenure at the summer camp as uncomfortable as possible. Ray is determined not to back down though. She may have been raised a spoiled princess, but she has a strong work ethic and desire to prove herself. A sizzling tension exists between the two, proving that there is indeed a fine line between love and hate.

Van Dyken does an amazing job of building tension, both psychological and sexual, in Summer Heat. There is so much left unsaid and unexplained between Marlo and Ray. It made me want to reach into the book and shake them both to make them communicate with each other.

I became heavily invested in seeing these two work things out between them and give in to the attraction they obviously have for each other, which made my dismay all the more palpable when Van Dyken abruptly ends this book on a cliffhanger. Grrr. I desperately wanted to know what happened next, but in order to find out I’ll have to read the next book, Summer Seduction. That irritated me enough to drop my rating from four stars to three.

Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Top Ten Tuesday – Books From My Favorite Genre (Young Adult)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

My Favorite Books in Young Adult Fantasy and Paranormal

Fair warning, reading lovelies: most of my choices are series. 😀 I’ll include links to all the books in the series where available, just click the covers!

Now, in no particular order…

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

I recently finished this whole series and bawled my eyes out. I was so sorry it was over. I have loved witnessing the evolution of Celaena Sardothien the past couple of years.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

So far, this series has three novels and a novella. According to Goodreads, Maas is working on three more novels and one more novella for this series. I don’t know about you guys, but that makes my heart sing. I love me some Feyre!

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

I’ll be honest. When I first started reading this series, I was not a fan of the protagonist. BUT, bit by bit Laia grew on me. Tahir is masterful at character development. There is supposed to be a fourth book in this series, to be released in 2020. Ugh, I don’t want to wait that long!

Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Such a cool series! A bit of a slow burn in comparison to some of the others on this list, but the imagery really sticks with you.

Caster Chronicles by Garcia & Stohl

This one makes for a perfect summer read. Don’t forget to also pick up the spin-off — Dangerous Creatures 😉

The Legion by Kami Garcia

FYI, we are still waiting on book three in this series because Garcia’s silly publisher didn’t purchase the third book…lame. I’m hoping one day it gets published because I flew through the first two books in two days!

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

I actually didn’t like this series when I first started it, but when I started reading Scarlet, I was hooked!

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

So many cover options for this series nowadays, but these are the ones I read. If you haven’t read these yet, just do yourself a favor, and do it! Jace and Clary, you guys! Ach, my heart!

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

The same Shadowhunters world we know and love from The Mortal Instruments, but set further back in time. Tessa’s love story in this is epic!

The Dark Artifices by Cassandra Clare

Again set in the world of the Shadowhunters, this trilogy follows a younger generation of Shadowhunters — teens who look up to Jace and Clary from The Mortal Instruments. I found this series riveting. Even though the books are gargantuan, I still sped through them because I couldn’t bear to put them down. In fact, I loved the main male character so much, Julian, that I’m naming my son after him. 😀

Can you tell I love Cassandra Clare!?

I can’t wait to see what everyone else has listed as their favorites this week. Cheers, reading lovelies!

Monthly Reading Wrap-Up

Books Read in May 2019

Monthly Reading Wrap-Up May 2019

Wow! May was a busy, busy month!

Genres read:  high fantasy, erotica, young adult fantasy, contemporary, regency romance.

Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

The epic finale to the Throne of Glass series.

Summary:  Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.

Claiming His Mountain Bride by Madison Faye

Pure. Smut. Honestly, there’s not even much story to this one, but if you’re looking for a raunchy (if somewhat repetetive) read, this is for you! And at only $1 on Amazon, it’s totally worth it!*

Summary: My mountain. My cabin. My rules. And she’s my woman – she just doesn’t know it yet.

I left civilization and my demons a long time ago, seeking solitude up on Blackthorn Mountain. Just one ex-Marine, a remote cabin, and the wilderness, with no distractions.

But then she turns up, blowing in with a winter’s blizzard like a very f**king big distraction.

Blonde, beautiful, and mouthy as all hell, even when I save her from freezing that sweet little butt off.

A rough mountain man like me should want nothing to do with a rich city girl like Katrina. Except one look at her sweet, tempting curves, and one taste of those sassy, pouty lips, and I want everything to do with her.

I saved her from freezing, but maybe it’s her who’s going to save my frozen heart.

We’re trapped up here for the storm, locked in a cabin with only the heat between us to keep us warm. Her wealthy, city family thinks they can marry her off to some rich little sh*t. But they’re very wrong.

My mountain. My cabin. My woman.

I’ll make Katrina my bride, and I’ll be d*mned if I let them take her from me.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (#2) by J.K. Rowling

I began a nostalgic re-read of this beloved series this year. It’s certainly a different experience from reading it when I was a kid. 🙂

Summary:  The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike

And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls’ bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny.

But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone — or something — starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects . . . Harry Potter himself?

The Night I Lost My Father’s Gun by Azmi Abusam

Disclosure: I was paid for my review of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Summary:  Elon X has been caught all his life. Caught in a claustrophobic little corner of Washington D.C. Caught in the shadow that only an accomplished older sister can cast. Even his well-meaning parents pull at him. His absent father had seen a place for righteous violence when he named Elon after Malcolm X, while his mother quotes Reverend King even from the depths of her alcoholism.

Dreams of professional basketball help drag Elon through drab days, but those dreams end when he’s expelled. His mother starts using words like “military school” and “Montana”–not exactly the escape Elon had in mind. Before he’s banished to the Rockies, he needs a getaway of his own making.

Just for a night.

That getaway won’t include a tame dinner date with his patient girlfriend. He seeks the delights of a rough teenage underground, where rumors mean gang trouble and a secret crush makes thrilling promises. Come along to Sophisticated Ignorance, she whispers–a notorious house party alive with hedonism and violence.

Just for a night.

His mom’s Impala isn’t the only thing Elon steals. He heads to a secluded Maryland mansion with his best friends and his father’s .38. When the gun goes missing, he knows he’s in trouble. And when that gun is used in a double murder, he’ll know what it’s like to be truly trapped.

Maybe for the rest of his life.

Waking Up with a Rake (The Royal Rakes #1) by Connie Mason & Mia Marlowe

Based on the real event, The Hymen Race Terrific. Regency romance + devilish rakes = sizzling read. Book 1 of 3 in the series. Rhys & Olivia.

Summary:  To prevent three royal dukes from marrying their way onto the throne, heroic, selfless agents for the crown will be dispatched…to seduce the dukes’ intended brides. These wickedly debauched rakes will rumple sheets and cause a scandal. But they just might fall into their own trap…

After he’s blamed for a botched assignment during war, former cavalry officer Rhys Warrick turns his back on “honor.” He spends his nights in brothels doing his best to live down to the expectations of his disapproving family. But one last mission could restore the reputation he’s so thoroughly sullied. All he has to do is seduce and ruin Miss Olivia Symon and his military record will be cleared. For a man with Rhys’s reputation, ravishing the delectably innocent miss should be easy. But Olivia’s honesty and bold curiosity stir more than Rhys’s desire. Suddenly the heart he thought he left on the battlefield is about to surrender…

One Night with a Rake (The Royal Rakes #2) by Connie Mason & Mia Marlowe

Based on the real event, The Hymen Race Terrific. Regency romance + devilish rakes = sizzling read. Book 2 of 3 in the series. Nate & Georgette.

Summary: For King and Country, Three Notorious Rakes Will Put All Their Seductive Skills to Work.

After All, The Fate of England’s Monarchy is in Their Hands.

Since the death of his fiancée, Nathaniel Colton’s polished boots have rested beneath the beds of countless wayward wives and widows of the ton. He’s careful to leave each lady smiling, and equally careful to guard his heart. So seducing Lady Georgette should pose no problem. But the beautiful reformist is no easy conquest, and Nate’s considerable charm fails to entice Georgette to his bed. To woo her, Nate will have to make her believe he cares about someone besides himself–and no one is more surprised than Nate when he realizes he actually does.

Between a Rake and a Hard Place (The Royal Rakes #3) by Connie Mason & Mia Marlowe

Based on the real event, The Hymen Race Terrific. Regency romance + devilish rakes = sizzling read. Book 3 of 3 in the series. Jonah & Serena.

Summary:  When a royal’s intended bride is kidnapped, only a rake can set things right…

Wealthy heiress Serena Osborne feels like her father is determined to sacrifice her on the marriage altar. The Duke of Kent is negotiating for a bride, and the wickedly appealing Sir Jonah Sharp is sent to woo the Lady Serena on the Duke’s behalf. It only muddies the waters when she succumbs to Jonah’s charm. Repeatedly. But Jonah has a secret agenda—to prevent the marriage at any cost.

When Serena is kidnapped in a desperate attempt to force the royal betrothal, Jonah realizes his new agenda is to secure a bride—for himself.

A new edition of Settle Down Now by Leenna Naidoo was re-released in February of this year. Check it out!

Summary: He has secrets. She has cents.
Billionaire Charmaine Donnet’s search for Mr Right goes public in the most humiliating way. Her dating coach, and trusted friend Joss, has turned introvert Charmaine’s quest into a hit reality TV show. Events take a dark turn when one of the potential Mr Rights goes missing at sea. Charmaine is not sure she will survive this desperate Hart’s cruise.


The Night I Lost My Father’s Gun by Azmi Abusam — A Review

The Night I lost My Father’s Gun by Azmi Abusam

RaeleighReads rating: love--coffee-png-image-52236 love--coffee-png-image-52236 love--coffee-png-image-52236

Set in Washington DC, The Night I Lost My Father’s Gun follows Elon, known to his friends as X, through one fateful day. We’re introduced to his high school, his friends, and his family situation.

This one is a bit odd in that the entire book takes place in less than 24 hours. Because of that there isn’t much room for the buildup and release of tension. We literally follow Elon from one task in his day to the next.

Unfortunately I was left wondering when the story was going to begin until nearly 93% of the novel was over. I’m still not sure how I feel about Elon or any of the characters in this book because I don’t feel like I got to know any of them very well. Half the time, I couldn’t understand what they were saying to each other because of the prolific amount of slang in the dialogue and narration of the text.

I wanted to like this one. The setting and cast of characters — urban high school and an ethnically diverse cast — made me sit up and take notice. I don’t see enough books that look or feel like this one. So I was looking forward to it, but there were just too many structural and dialogue problems for me to really enjoy it.

The only other works I can think to compare it to are Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova and Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older, and only because they have urban settings with characters of color. There are no supernatural elements in The Night I Lost My Father’s Gun.

While this wasn’t my favorite, those who enjoy young adult novels with urban settings, tons of pop culture references, and atypical story structure might enjoy this.

How the Internet Happened: From Netscape to the iPhone by Brian McCullough — A Review

How the Internet Happened: From Netscape to the iPhone by Brian McCullough

RaeleighReads rating: love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236

I never know how I’m going to feel about non-fiction books when I pick them up, whether I enjoy the subject or not. They can often be dry, boring, slog-of-a-reads. That wasn’t the case for me with Brian McCullough’s How the Internet Happened.

McCullough takes us through the history of the internet from the founding of Netscape by Marc Andreessen and Jim Clark all the way to the present day and the ubiquity of smart phones, which didn’t hit their stride until 2007 with Apple’s iPhone.

McCullough’s voice is conversational, almost peppy. I moved through each chapter with ease, often smiling at his analysis of some of the events I experienced personally as a young person in the early aughts. I still remember when Facebook first made its way through my dorm in 2005. It was an odd feeling knowing I could stay connected to all of the people I had gone to high school with, and it was even odder to recognize that we were able to keep up with each other without ever having to interact at all, without ever having to have a conversation. Go ahead and roll your eyes at me younger people. I know you want to. At that time though, the idea of an online social network was extraordinary.

I enjoyed being able to read about some of the big names behind companies I take for granted today – Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Jerry Yang and David Filo – the yahoos who started Yahoo!, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google. And not only that, but it was really interesting to read about the dot-com bubble and eventual burst. I was about 10 when the dot-coms were having their heyday, and about 15 when that bubble burst. Of course, as a kid I had no idea what that internet thing was or the impact it would eventually have on my life.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable and informative read. It has certainly sparked my interest in reading even more accounts of this time period and the phenomenon known as the internet.

Thanks to NetGalley and W. W. Norton & Company for my review copy.

Expected publication: October 23rd 2018 by Liveright

View all my reviews on Goodreads.