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.

 

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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.

The Proving by Ken Brosky — A Review


The Proving by Ken Brosky

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

A post-apocalyptic YA series in the same vein as Veronica Roth’s Divergent, but with a science fiction angle.

After an asteroid enters Earth’s orbit, covered in creatures called Specters, life for humans is drastically altered. The specters, sort of like ghosts, sort of like large insects or animals, can kill by simply passing through you. In an effort to combat these creatures, humanity has walled itself off from them with something called Xenoshields, and they’ve divided themselves into Clans and free citizens.

The clans:  Spartans are tough, military people trained to shoot, kill, and wield machinery. Clan Athens is made up of healers, biologists, and the like. Clan Persia is full of tech geeks. Parliament is exactly what it sounds like. These are the government folks. Then there are Historians, those tasked with objectively recording (and memorizing) everything they see.

At ages 13 and 18, the Young Adults and New Adults of Earth, respectively, must go through something called the Proving. Normally, everyone stays behind the Xenoshields in their cities, but during the Proving, the New and Young Adults must go outside the walls.

In this first book, we follow Skye (Spartan), Cleo (Persian), Ben (Athenian), Gabriel (Parliament), and Seamus (Historian) along with Skye, Cleo, Ben, and Gabriel’s younger siblings as they complete the Proving. The characters are three-dimensional, complex, and at times surprising. So, I thought they were really well done. I personally felt myself drawn to Skye. She’s incredibly tough, but you can tell that she’s got one of those soft, gooey, caramel centers. I can’t wait to see how her arc plays out in the next book.

When the group first gets together they seem to be a bit of a motley crew. They don’t really mesh well and they have a tendency to argue or boast. But then, all too soon, they are outside of the walls and taking on the Proving. What follows after they pass through the Xenoshield is a hair-raising, action-packed thrill ride. And that ending! Oh my god, I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book in this series and find out what the heck has happened to our group!

Now, just one complaint because overall I enjoyed this very, very much. The story is told from alternating perspectives, and at times, they aren’t handled well. I often found myself confused at who was speaking or from whose perspective the story was being told. That was really frustrating because it caused the action and the fast pace of the story to stutter. If the alternating perspectives had been tightened up a bit more or been made clearer, this probably would have been a five-coffee-cup read for me.

I’m not sure when book two of the Earth-X Triology will be out, but I can’t wait to read it!

Happy reading, lovelies!

I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

The Gift of the Quoxxel by Richard Titus — A Review


The Gift of the Quoxxel by Richard Titus

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

This one is a bit of an odd ball, but I kinda liked it!

Summary from Goodreads:

King Norr was not content. He longed to know the world beyond his tiny, island kingdom of Nibb. The Nibbians, however, were not a seafaring people and had no desire to travel elsewhere. Why bother, they said. What could be as perfect as Nibb?

Even so, Norr watched foreign ships come and go. They approached, hesitated, then sailed away without ever coming ashore. Why was that?

And that wasn’t the only mystery.

Who was the prankster who had set the palace afloat?

Was there a sea monster skulking the waters along shore?

Who was the little girl who sang but would not speak?

Had the Minister of Science been eaten by migrating drumbkins?

This was not the average Nibbian day. King Norr was unprepared and only hoped to get through it with as few “haddocks” as possible.

Set sail on this armchair adventure of wit and riddle. It’s an imaginative voyage to
the Isle of Nibb whose only flaw is being a little too perfect — or, at least, it was
until today.

So, King Norr is basically a bumbling idiot, but you can’t help but smile at his ridiculousness. He wants so badly to know what else is out there in the world, and why the heck people don’t ever come to the Island of Nibb?!

There are so many moving parts to this little story — Nibb and the Nibbians, pirates sailing the open ocean, a giant sea monster who is perhaps not so monsterish?, and of course, the drumbkins! What are those you ask? Well, you’ll have to read to find out. I’m not spoiling that here.

Gift of the Quoxxel is definitely bizarre. It makes me think: there was someone who fell asleep on the beach of a beautiful island (maybe after one too many piña coladas), and this was the fever dream they had. Can you see those hazy lines they use in TV and film to let you know you’re entering dream world? Squint your eyes… There they are! *ripple ripple*

This book is perfect for summer reading and beach reading (or any-time-of-year reading). It’s cute and quirky, and it’s quick. It’s also great for either children, middle grade readers, young adults, or adults — anyone can enjoy this! Now, I know school may be starting back up for some of you soon, so while you’ve got the time, take a chance on this unexpected delight.

I totally stole this gif off another review on Goodreads, but it’s just so perfect — whimsical and funny!

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Happy reading, lovelies!