Books On My Summer TBR 2022

I love doing Top Ten posts so here it goes:

“Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.” -That Artsy Reader Girl

This week’s theme:  

Books On My Summer 2022 To-Read List

  1. Every Summer After by Carley Fortune
  2. My Killer Vacation by Tessa Bailey
  3. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  4. Fable by Adrienne Young
  5. Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
  6. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
  7. Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
  8. Book Lovers by Emily Henry
  9. Timeless by Gail Carriger
  10. A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas

Will I actually get around to reading all of these? Probably not, but I am hoping to get as much as I can.

I have a goal to finish all the books I have boughten before this year. So I could get at least half of these books done.

As always, thanks for reading,

A Bookie

Vespertine: A Book Review

The Book:

Title: Vespertine

Author: Margaret Rogerson

Published October 5th 2021 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Pages: 400

“The dead of Loraille do not rest.

Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on; otherwise, they will rise as spirits with a ravenous hunger for the living. She would rather deal with the dead than the living, who trade whispers about her scarred hands and troubled past.

When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia defends it by awakening an ancient spirit bound to a saint’s relic. It is a revenant, a malevolent being that threatens to possess her the moment she drops her guard. Wielding its extraordinary power almost consumes her—but death has come to Loraille, and only a vespertine, a priestess trained to wield a high relic, has any chance of stopping it. With all knowledge of vespertines lost to time, Artemisia turns to the last remaining expert for help: the revenant itself.

As she unravels a sinister mystery of saints, secrets, and dark magic, her bond with the revenant grows. And when a hidden evil begins to surface, she discovers that facing this enemy might require her to betray everything she has been taught to believe—if the revenant doesn’t betray her first.” -Goodreads

My Review:

Sadly, this book was not as great as Rogerson’s other books I have read. I want to say that it was my fault because I paused in between reading it for like two months. So hopefully that is all my fault.

The beginning was a little confusing. There was not enough exposition. I also think throughout the book points of the plot were not explained well enough so I was confused about the overall plot.

Ugh, I feel so bad. Rogerson is one of my favorite authors, and I hate to put her down.

I still love the book, mostly because of her, but it just was not the best.

The premise was great. I loved how unique it was, but I didn’t get half of the background. The magic/religious stuff was not explained well.

I loved the main character and the revenant that occupies her body. They are great characters. They work well together, if not a little reluctantly.

I think the side character should have been more developed and less static. I think the main character had no real growth. I also have been loving the romance in Rogerson’s books. This did not have any.

I know this review is short, but honestly, I don’t have anything to say. I don’t think it was that great. And I am so sad about that. But, I still am rating it more than I normally would, because I love the author.

As always, thanks for reading,

A Bookie

Star Rating: 3.5

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Clap When You Land: A Book Review

The Book:

Title: Clap When You Land

Author: Elizabeth Acevedo

Published May 5th 2020 by HarperTeen

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Poetry

Pages: 432

In a novel-in-verse, that brims with grief and love, National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.” -Goodreads

My Review:

This book was good! I thought the two characters were pleasant. I thought their situations and duality were interesting.

Like with my last review, The Black Kids, I said I don’t like character-driven stories. I still don’t, but why do I keep reading them? I have no idea.

But, I did like that one just like I liked this one. Again, more plot would have made the story amazing, but I think there is a big place for character-driven stories (otherwise they wouldn’t do so well in the market).

This book had such a unique premise. I instantly was thrown into the heartbreak of these two girls after they both lost a father in a plane crash.

That was kind of the only real plot point that I can talk about without it being a spoiler. The book was also very predictable, except the ending was interesting and a little unexpected.

The two main characters had a lot of focus (obviously) but the side characters we did not see very much. I did not like that. The side characters made decisions or said things that I did not fully understand because I didn’t get enough focus on them to feel like they were authentic. They just were there.

The writing was amazing. This book was literally poetry. The words wove this world for me so well. I felt like I was literally there with the main characters experiencing their pain. I love poetry and this book blends both, poetry and narrative, together really well.

This book was so well written and I loved it. I don’t like character-driven stories, but this one was pretty good!

As always, thanks for reading,

A Bookie

Star Rating: 3.8

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Perfect ’80s Nostalgia Horror Piece: My Best Friend’s Exorcism

The Book:

My Best friend's exorcism cover
Designed as a VHS case with rainbow stripes on a black ground with a VHS sticker on the bottom. THe overlay picture is a collage in a 80s style art. Some of the pictures here include A blonde girl with red eyes wearing a cross necklace that is floating upside down, another blonde girl screaming as crows surround here, an owl flying past a picture of the moon, a shadow of some person across trees, two children rollerblading around some balloons, a girl swimming in a lake while two girls sit in a boat, a brick school building, and a clock tower with a person taking flight from it, all of these images are in counter clockwise order as read,
My Best Friend’s Exorcism Cover pulled from Goodreads.com

Title: My Best Friend’s Exorcism

Author: Grady Hendrix

Published July 11th, 2017 by Quirk Books (first published May 17th 2016)

Genre: Horror, Fiction, YA

Pages: 332

“The year is 1988. High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fourth grade. But after an evening of skinny-dipping goes disastrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act … different. She’s moody. She’s irritable. And bizarre incidents keep happening whenever she’s nearby.

Abby’s investigation leads her to some startling discoveries — and by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?” –Goodreads

My Review:

*This book touches on themes of self-harm, suicide, and sexual assault*

Like I said in my Roll for Initiative review, Stranger Things has become my personality recently. When walking around The Strand, I saw the cover of this beautiful book with its VHS design and ’80s-style art. I grabbed it and knew I had to take it home with me immediately.

I am going to preface this (because I am rather negative about the book) by saying that I loved this book. I am so happy I picked it up even though it will add extra weight to my suitcase when I leave New York.

While I do not read horror often, so I cannot give its horror aspects an expert review, I did think it did well.

It did have great horror scenes, but there was nothing that made me not be able to sleep at night. I might not have been able to fully immerse in the horror scenes or it just was not a thriller-type book.

Writing-wise the book was so-so. I thought some parts, especially near the end, there were great descriptions. We got some vivid characterization of the two main characters. But then sometimes, things were confusing and not fully explained. Hendrix did not tell us how certain characters got from point A to point B, especially with the side characters, Glee and Margaret.

The biggest flaw for me was the prologue/first chapter. The one thing about most horror/murder mystery books I have read (like You’re So Dead) is they spoil the ending in the first chapter. They show that they get through all of their struggles in the first chapter of this book. You know that nothing bad is really going to happen to the main character because she is sitting in her cushy office at the beginning of the story.

Also, when we get to the end, it does not loop back around to the first chapter, and it doesn’t really take about the exorcist dying like it says in the first chapter. (None of this is a spoiler btw because I am still talking about the FIRST chapter.)

The first chapter revealing the ending is such a buzzkill.

The last little bit I didn’t like was the use of outdated, politically incorrect language. I felt that many of the instances used could have been left out. None of the references were necessary to the storyline, like a super racist spirit day theme, and could have been left out. An ’80s timepiece can still be good without the use of racism, ableism, sexism, and many other things touched upon.

Now you might be thinking: Wow I really don’t want to read this book because Kat gave it such a bad review. NO! Read this book! I still loved it!

Yes, I hated the first chapter thing, and it took me out of the suspenseful moments because I knew the end goal. I was so happy with how it ended and I even cried.

I CRIED!!

If you are a reader of this blog, you know that means that I was so enamored by this book to actually cry. Despite the book having a major spoiler in the beginning and not having a spine-chilling plot (mostly because of the first chapter), I still loved it.

The whole book had this crazy tale of adventure and touched on friendship in a weird, but heartwarming way. Let me tell you that the last 150 pages were worth everything. It gained a whole extra star just for making me cry!

I loved it and I am sure you will too.

As always, thanks for reading,

A Bookie

Star Rating: 4

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Newest Graphic Novel About D&D: Roll for Initiative

The Book:

THe cover of Last Session VOlume 1 Roll for Initiative focuses on two characters, Cassandra and Lana, in their D&D alternate personas wth the other four character lined up in the background. All six of the character sit around a table on the bottom.
The Last Session Vol. 1: Roll for Initiative pulled from Goodreads

Title: The Last Session Vol. 1: Roll for Initiative

Author: Jasmine Walls

Illustrator: Dozerdraws

Series: The Last Session #1

Published on June 22, 2022, by Mad Cave Studios

Genre: Graphic Novels, Fantasy, LGBTQIA+

Pages: 136

“Roll for initiative! Jay, Lana, Drew, Walter, and Shen have played Dice & Deathtraps together since high school. Now, on the verge of graduating college and scattering, they’ve decided to finally complete their unfinished first campaign. But when Jay’s partner Cassandra joins as a new player, Lana’s afraid the party won’t ever finish their quest…” –Goodreads page

My Review:

Stranger Things has been the only thing on my mind recently, so when Roll for Initiative, a graphic novel about a group of friends playing D&D, popped up in my inbox this week, I was so excited. 

I received a free copy of this graphic novel from a sweepstake I entered. Thankfully, Mad Cave Studios granted me access to read this arc. This graphic novel is out on June 22, 2022. 

This was not a long novel, but I believe the story will continue since this is a Vol. 1. I would have preferred a bit more to read, but the shorter graphic novels are always fun and get my reading count up. 

My most extensive critique of the story is that it probably should not have a sequel. The tale of these characters seems like it is over. There was absolutely nothing in the end that had a bit of suspense or openness. When I finished the story seemed over. There were no loose ends. 

I would have preferred the book to have stopped in the middle of the conflict, like a few of the graphic novels I have read do. I don’t know if there is a reason some stories like Heartstopper do that and this one didn’t. It just left me not feeling the need to pick the next copy.

Another issue is there really was no time to develop the characters. Yes, we got little blotches of the character here and there, but we did not get to understand the characters. I will explain more in a second. 

This novel does not center around one character. It centers around six characters, five of which who met in high school and began playing D&D together. 

Lana is the character who is the most irritating. I feel like she would not have been as irritating if we got a bit more context of her character, I think that is one f those things that happen when books are shorter, we don’t know why she is the way that she is. It could have been something the creators could have tried to explain. 

Drew is my favorite character. The illustrations of him make him seem so suave and charming. Who doesn’t love a barista? But, honestly, we don’t learn anything about him. We learn he has one struggle, that’s all. We don’t learn about his current projects, only his past writing projects. 

Shen and Walter play more of a background duo. They do not have too much that makes them stand out, and the story does not focus on them too much. We get a bit of background, but it did not go to places that they reference in the present day of the story. 

Jay and Cassandra are my two favorite people because I feel they were the most unproblematic of the group. Obviously, good characters have problems, but they seem to be at a point in their life where they can be themselves, and it is cool to see. I would love to get a background story of how they met and how Jay introduced Cassandra to D&D. 

It was short and sweet to read, but I am left a bit unsatisfied. I would love for people to check this out and comment about their thoughts. 

As always, thanks for reading,

A Bookie

Star Rating: 3

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Love Hypothesis: A Review

The Book:

Title: The Love Hypothesis

Author: Ali Hazelwood

Published September 14th 2021 by Berkley Books

Genre: Romance, Comtemporary, Fiction

Pages: 352

“As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding… six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.” –Goodreads

My Review:

I listened to this book over the course of two days and omg this was amazing.

Just like my review of One of Us Is Dead, I think this book uses modern-day speak without being super cliche and cringey.

The romance in this book was everything. I loved how there was not some big denial of feelings. The main character did not repeatedly say “I don’t like this man and I never will.” She realizes her crush and accepts it. I love the fake dating trope, but the whole not being truthful about your own feelings that run rampant in this genre gets on my nerves.

Adam Carlson was an amazing dream boyfriend. He is an academic. He is large and broody. He is rude to anyone but the girl, that is literally my favorite. And he has money!

The protagonist, Olive is sweet and charming. She is a good friend even though she goes about helping her friends in a weird fake dating your professor way.

I love how this book discusses some really important topics like the rampant sexism in academics, especially in STEM fields. There is a speech given by to Olive about how she is just a woman and must sleep with men to get higher in her field. This is a common thing in many fields. Men take advantage of women wanting to further themselves and force them into having sex with threats of blacklisting them. I was really impressed that Hazelwood bring this fact to light.

This book balanced everything so well. The science talk was not too much so that non-scientific readers would be confused, but the scene is still set. The romance was the main part of the story, but it didn’t override Olive’s life. She did not let her studies suffer because of her romance, which is something I always see and I hate.

I loved this book a lot. It was a really interesting and pleasing read. I wish I had more, but I am also happy with where the story left off.

As always, thanks for reading,

A Bookie

Star Rating: 4.5

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Escaping from Houdini: A Review

The Book:

Title: Escaping from Houdini

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper #3

Published September 18th 2018

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, YA, Romance

Pages: 416

“Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea.

It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?” –Goodreads

My Review:

This is the third book in the series and it just keeps getting better.

I have been perusing the other reviews on Goodreads to write this, mostly because I don’t have any ideas so I want to respond to the general feedback of others.

In this book, we see more horrific murders, which is super fun. The other books had fewer posed deaths. This one had interesting deaths that also had a mystery to find out what the specific deaths meant.

Wadsworth changes a lot in this book. She reflects on what she wants and her relationships. She has to work through her feelings of wanting to be free but also her feelings of wanting to be with Thomas Creswell. Yes, I agree with everyone saying she is dumb and annoying in this book, but she needs this character development. She literally understands she has been dumb in the end.

The circus aspect and magic show were so awesome. Maniscalco literally writes each so well. Normally, people are not that good at writing out magic tricks and writing magic shows out. I have never been impressed with an author’s portrayal of sleight of hand until Maniscalco.

Thomas Creswell is so amazing in this story. I love when a man gets jealous and he gets very jealous in this story. He also is trying to be so respectful of her while she is going around and keeping secrets from him. He let her choose him. He was amazing and patient. Why do people hate that?

I have seen a few people complain about how the heroes of the book become such bad people, but literally what more could you want? Characters need growth. They need to fall before they can fly. So I disagree with everyone who complains about that. It was so great.

I love the ending. Some people said that the ending was predictable, and I just might not understand stuff, but I do not think it was predictable at all. Maniscalco doesn’t have any predictable endings in my opinion.

I love this book series. Please check it out.

As always, thanks for reading,

A Bookie

Star Rating: 4.0

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Soulless: A Review

The Book:

Title: Souless

Author: Gail Carriger

Series: Parasol Protectorate #1

Published September 4th 2009 by Orbit

Genre: Steampunk, Romance

Pages: 404

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations.

First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire–and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?” –Goodreads

My Review:

This book was so good!

This was not as good as the finishing school stories. But that is only because the plot was a little lacking.

There was not a lot happening in the plot. A lot of the book revolved around this romance plot. There were a lot of questions unanswered, that I am sure that they are going to answer later, and they did not really do anything or fix anything. It felt like we missed like a crazy conclusion.

But the romance…was SPICY!!!

I loved it so much. In the beginning, there was so much tension. I found myself blushing and giggling while I listened. Alexia and Maccon are honestly such a good pairing. I will say it was sad we didn’t get to see their meeting. I thought that seeing their meeting and then slowly building up to where their story ended in this book would have been nice. I felt like Carriger could have had more tension in her books.

Carriger is such a funny writer. She has funny names. Her dialogue is so witty and unique.

Alexia is excellent. She makes me so happy. I am waiting for the second book to be available on my library app, but I just want more Alexia now! She is so precious. She is caring and daring.

I liked uncovering the mystery of this series. I also liked that we got to see other points of view. In finishing school, the series was only from Sophronia’s limited third-person point of view. In this one, we jump to Professor Lyle and Lord Maccon’s point of view. It gives us a little bit more suspense.

I love this book so much and highly recommend it.

As always, thanks for reading,

A Bookie

Star Rating: 3.8

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Manners & Mutiny: A Review

The Book:

Title: Manners & Mutiny

Author: Gail Carriger

Series: Finishing School #4

Published November 3rd 2015 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Genre: Steampunk, YA, Fantasy, Romance

Pages: 326

If one must flirt…flirt with danger.

Lessons in the art of espionage aboard Mademoiselle Geraldine’s floating dirigible have become tedious without Sophronia’s sweet sootie Soap nearby. She would much rather be using her skills to thwart the dastardly Picklemen, yet her concerns about their wicked intentions are ignored, and now she’s not sure whom to trust. What does the brusque werewolf dewan know? On whose side is the ever-stylish vampire Lord Akeldama? Only one thing is certain: a large-scale plot is under way, and when it comes to fruition, Sophronia must be ready to save her friends, her school, and all of London from disaster–in decidedly dramatic fashion, of course.

What will become of our proper young heroine when she puts her years of training to the test? Find out in this highly anticipated and thrilling conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Finishing School series!” –Goodreads

My Review:

This is the last book in the series. That is so sad.

I literally had to just ay down for a while and reminisce over this series.

This series was literally amazing. My review is going to be short because again all the books are so similar. The plot is just overarching over the entire thing. I do love it though, but I understand that some people have been saying that it gets a little dull.

This book was so funny. It was so charming. My heart was so full reading this.

I kept putting the audiobook down so that I could savor the last bit of the story. It was so good and I loved it. I would have finished it within a day, but I knew that it would all be over when I finished. I am definitely going to have to relisten to this series.

Sophronia is such a lovable character. Her and all of her friends are literally amazing. Literally, they are so excellent. Ugh, I just want to gush about all of them, but readers should go find that love for these characters themselves.

The love story came to a completion and it was so sweet. The ending was so perfect. I like was so happy. It just made me believe in love and finding your match.

I love the series so much. I know I keep saying that but it is true. This final plot was so exciting.

As always, thanks for reading,

A Bookie

Star Rating: 4.5

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Waistcoats & Weaponry Review

My Book:

Title: Waistcoats and Weaponry

Author: Gail Carriger

Series: Finishing School #3

Published November 4th 2014 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Genre: Steampunk, YA, Fantasy, Romance

Pages: 298

“Sophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style—with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a fashionable choice of weapon comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland.

No one suspected what—or who—they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all.” –Goodreads

My Review:

Like I said last post, this is going to be short. Most of these books are similar but still so good!

Literally amazing. While the plot and the endings end up being near the same, this one was probably my favorite in terms of plot. I think we got to see a lot more of the side characters in action. We also got a super dramatic end. I loved it.

The series at this point gets very repetitive. There is one overarching theme and they all follow the same structure.

This one does have a bigger focus on the romance and how Sophronia negotiates a love triangle. I loved seeing her fall more in love with my top choice (I won’t spoil anything).

I love love love this series so much. This book was probably my favorite out of all four. I highly recommend this series and this book!

As always, thanks for reading,

A Bookie

Star Rating: 4.5

Rating: 5 out of 5.