Books in Review: 2022 Q2 Recap

Devan Zimmerman's Books in Review 2022 Q2 Recap

A brief review of the books I read from April through June of 2022.

A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout


The Blood and Ash series continues with Poppy’s world further flipped upside down. In book one, everything she knew about her home and upbringing was thrown into question. Here, the man she is falling in love with turns out to be a lie too. As the lands around her grow into further unrest, Poppy must decide if she will work with this familiar stranger in order to achieve her own goal of finding her brother.

I was yet again enthralled by the B&A world and the unfurling of the storyline. I read many reviews that felt the story began slow, but I was pulled right back in.

My Evil Mother by Margaret Atwood


A short story about a daughter and her eccentric mother – who may or may not be a witch – set in the late 50s. This was a quick read I was able to start and finish in less than an hour. I received this for free as a prime member and used this towards points for Realm-A-Thon.

The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout


In the third installment of the Blood and Ash series, Poppy learns of her true origins and the title that is her birthright. She must choose if she will claim her stake, all the while attempting a dangerous mission to free both her brother and her lovers’. Simultaneously, the Blood Queen has plans of her own, and a war is brewing.

I lapped this one up, finishing it in less than four days. Poppy begins to come into her own outside of her relationship and starts to recognize the badass she is.

God of the Sun by Kimberly Loth


This story was…eh. It wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t entirely engaging either. I rarely DNF books, but this came close to being added to the pile. I found myself reading simply for it to end so I could read something else. The end was a bit more entertaining, but I doubt I will continue reading the other books in the series.

The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont


It took me a few chapters to get into this book but once I was in, I was hooked. The tale of Agatha Christie’s disappearance and the affair that started it all provided color to an already interesting story. I enjoyed the telling from multiple viewpoints and am glad to have read it. It made me more interested in reading Christie’s books as well.

The War of Two Queens by Jennifer L. Armentrout


Poppy will do anything to free her king and destroy the evil the Blood Crown has sown. The fourth installment follows along on the harrowing journey of rescue, as well as an introduction to primal players that have been in the game for eons, simply waiting to be unleashed.

This was definitely the best book in the series for me. Poppy has always been a badass, but she takes it to another level in this story. Her connection to the wolven grows and the relationships become more entangled and complex. This is a book I wish I could read again for the first time.

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake


Six are invited to practice at the Alexandrian Society, but only five will be accepted. Rapt with power, intellect, seduction, and betrayal, The Atlas Six takes you on a journey through a secret society of magicians with incredible skill, presented with an opportunity to safeguard the world’s most coveted information from lost and ancient civilizations.

I love a good dark academia read. It did take me some time to get into though, which is why I gave it 4 stars. The more the story unfurled, the more I enjoyed the tale and each of the characters involved. I am looking forward to reading the next in the series.

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas


Catherine House is a school of prestige located deep in rural Pennsylvania, accepting a wide range of students and developing the most brilliant of minds thanks to its experimental curriculum. Students are provided with a generous endowment and the promise of power and prestige. The catch? Students are required to give three years to the house with no outside contact. As the school years transpire and the novelty wears off, something sinister seems to be lurking within the required coursework.

Continuing with the dark academia, I really wanted to like this story but it fell kind of flat for me. There didn’t seem to be any real purpose to the cult-like aspects of the school, other than to study plasm. I gave it an extra star because the story was based in my home state.

The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd


Following the tale of a cartographer with a ruined reputation – courtesy of her well-known cartographer father – Nell has been stuck making copies of maps for the last few years, unable to get a better job in the field. When Nell’s father mysteriously passes, she finds the map that ruined her career in the secret drawer in his office desk. A map her father said was useless, turns out to be an exceedingly rare artifact – one someone deems worthy to kill for.

I took a course on map making in college and I have always been fascinated by the variety of maps created. This story is one of made-up spaces added to very real maps – except the “made-up” space can become real if the map is in hand. A combination of “whodunit” and a scavenger hunt in paper towns, this is a magical read unlike any other I’ve come across.

A Court of Thorns and Rose by Sarah J. Maas


Feyre is out hunting, searching for food to feed her family. In the midst of her hunt, a wolf is hunting too. Killing the predator, Feyre takes its prey home and moves on with her life. Until a few days later, when a fae male appears at her door, seeking retribution for the life of the fae Feyre took. Abducted from her home, Feyre is taken to Prythian, the fae world, to atone for her sins. As she adjusts to her new life, she learns something is happening in the fae lands, one that threatens the lives of not only the fae, but the human world too.

This sat on my TBR for sooo long and I’m not sure why?? I bought this maybe a year or so ago, way before I even heard of Blood and Ash. It was the perfect series to follow up with though. While B&A spoke to my vampire-loving nature, the fae in this story enthralled me. These faeries are vicious and violent, even if they’re stunning. This was a concept I adored about True Blood. It was sexy, but there was plot too.

The Golden Couple by Greeg Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen


Matthew and Melissa were the perfect couple who seemingly had it all – until Melissa cheated. In an effort to repair their relationship, Melissa seeks out a therapist to help them solve their issues. Avery has some unorthodox methods – ones that resulted in her losing her professional license – but her methods have been proven to work. But not everything, or every one, is as they seem as the truth begins to emerge during the course of the 10-step program.

I passed this up when I chose my Book of the Month choice but saw it was available to listen on audiobook a few weeks later. I really didn’t think I would like this domestic thriller and I am happy to report that I was wrong. So wrong. This book was FANTASTIC. I found myself wanting to listen to this book instead of reading my physical books (that hasn’t happened since January when I read Mexican Gothic on audio). I was never entirely sure what was going to happen up until the very end. And the way the story lines connected. Whew. Another book I wish I could read it again for the first time.

Devan Zimmerman April 22 Reads

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas


Feyre’s story continues as she transitions into her life with Tamlin as High Fae. She tries to pretend everything is okay, but her heart is still human, and it has been broken beyond repair after her journey Under the Mountain. Plus, she still has her bargain with Rhysand she must adhere to.

Book two was even better than the first. Ryhs is definitely my favorite character at this point and I am loving Feyre in the Night Court. Can’t wait to continue with the series.

A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw


When a well-known children’s author goes missing, Travis is called in to help with the search. He has a knack for finding people – all he needs is an item that belongs to them. His search leads him to a place many consider a legend – Pastoral. Many years later, one of the Pastoral members crosses the community boundary and finds Travis’s abandoned truck. What transpires is a series of events that unleash a world of secrets – secrets that prove their perfect world isn’t as safe and isolated as they thought.

This was a book club selection and I enjoyed it so much. I had a bunch of theories as to what was going on from the start, and none of them turned out to be correct – which I loved. I have a habit of figuring out the plot early on, and this one kept me guessing. I definitely thought there was going to be more fantasy involved, and I think the fact that there were more realistic elements included made it spookier.

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas


Feyre returns to Tamlin in the Spring court in this third installment. Under the guise that she was kidnapped and controlled by Rhysand, Feyre has now returned to her former lover and plays the part of wanting to move forward with their lives together. All the while, she is really there to infiltrate the court and sow the seed of doubt from within.

This book was brilliant and cunning and I love Feyre more and more.

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas


It’s Feyre’s first Winter Solstice as High Lady of the Night Court and this time of year brings a welcome moment of reprieve from an otherwise chaotic time of rebuilding after war.

I know this is meant to be a companion book but I was a bit disappointed with it because it didn’t really seem to go anywhere. Maybe that was the point of the “reprieve.” I docked a star and gave myself permission to put some space between myself and this series so I could read other books I’ve had on my list. I still look forward to reading the next in the series.

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow


A retelling of Sleeping Beauty, one fueled by hope and the desire to live life, regardless of its trials and tribulations. Diagnosed with a rare condition, Zinnia is not expected to live past her 21st birthday. On the last day of her 20th year, Zinnia’s best friend Charm throws her a celebration fitted with the full Sleeping Beauty experience, spindle and tower included. When Zinnia pricks her finger, she is transported to another world with another Sleeping Beauty, also desperate to free herself from her fate.

I enjoyed this take on the Sleeping Beauty tale infused with modern culture. There were some cringy cliche bits as is often found in YA, but I didn’t mind them too much.

Lore by Alexandra Bracken 


This sat on my TBR for a couple years and once I finally picked it up, took me some time to get into. I am glad that I persevered though, and saw it through to the end. I love Greek myth and this was a very different sort of story. I also have always felt that Medusa never got the story she deserved and this kind of gave her that.

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton


I really liked 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle and was hoping for more of the same from Turton. I was dismayed by this story though, and almost DNF. I listened to it on audiobook and was only about 30% through when I needed to return it to the library. It became available shortly after I finished reading Lore, so I decided to give it another try and borrowed it again. I ended up getting through it, but it definitely wasn’t my favorite.

Devan Zimmerman May 22 Reading

The Push by Ashley Audrain (Book Club)


Blythe is convinced that there is something deeply wrong with her daughter. Chalking it up to the fog of early motherhood, her husband, Fox, adamantly dismisses her fears. But Blythe is wary and constantly thinks about her own relationship with her mother. When Blyth becomes pregnant again, her relationship with her son is everything she had hoped it would have been with her daughter. When her son tragically dies, Blythe’s world is ripped to pieces and soon Fox leaves, taking their remaining child with him.

This book was so. good. I loved Verity by Colleen Hoover and felt the was a pseudo-sequel – one that I didn’t know I needed. The entire story was incredible but the last line… **chef’s kiss** This was a book club pick and my favorite read in June.

Brown Girls by Daphne Palasi Andreades


The story follows a group of friends and their immigrant families residing in the borough of Queens, New York. This was an original piece of colored women trying to forge their place in the world – and the friendships and relationships developed along the way. Highlighting childhood, motherhood, community, and beyond, this is a tale of class, race, and marginalization in America.

Darling Girl by Liz Michalski


When Holly Darling, granddaughter of Wendy Darling, learns that her daughter Eden is missing, she is taken on a whirlwind path of finding and confronting Peter – the father of her child. With the help of Christopher Cooke, an ex-soldier turned PI, together they seek to find and retrieve Eden before something nefarious occurs.

I really enjoyed this twist on the story of Peter Pan and Neverland. A grown-up version I didn’t know I needed.

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas


The next installment of the A Court of Thorns and Roses series focuses on Nesta and her grappling with the new life as Fae and Cauldron Made. She is hateful and takes her anger out on everyone that tries to get in her way. Finally, Feyre has had enough of her sister’s antics. Nesta is places in the House of Wind, only able to leave on her own accord if she is able to traverse the 10,000 stairs to ground level. So, she is put to work and learns to train, and in the process, finds love and friendship in the unlikeliest of places.

SJM does it again. This might (???) be my favorite of the series. I was not a Nesta fan originally, but she grew on me and I found her to be one of the more relatable characters in the series. I started Q2 with this series and wrapped it by finishing all of the currently published novels in the series. Similar to the Blood and Ash series, I was enraptured and found it nearly impossible to read anything else while reading these books.

The Brighter the Light – Mary Ellen Taylor


After her grandmother’s passing, Ivy Neale inherits her cottage in her hometown of Nags Head North Carolina. For the last decade or so, she has been living in New York, working in the restaurant industry. Having bailed on her friends and their plan to open their own restaurant, she is loath to return to the place she once thought of as home. She is resolved to pack up the cottage and get out of the area as quickly as she can. Instead, she uncovers more than just her own skeletons. As the secrets about her family emerge and the budding romance that she is facing in the present grows, she realizes she is already where she belongs.

I enjoyed this (somewhat) light-hearted story about growing up and unearthing family secrets. I particularly liked the setting and found it fitting to read at the beach.

The Night Shift – Alex Finlay


On NYE of 1999, the world is expected to descend into chaos and enter an apocalyptic state. While none of that happened, something sinister did occur at a local Blockbuster in New Jersey. Four teenagers working the night shift are slaughtered, with only one remaining survivor. 15 years later, a murder at an ice cream shop occurs in the same town and there is only one survivor – eerily similar to the one on the eve of the year 2000. The tale unfolds following the lives of three individuals; the FBI agent determined to solve the case, the brother of the original murder suspect, and the lone survivor of the Blockbuster murders.

This story reminded me why I adore thrillers. After having been on a fantasy kick for the last year or so, this was a great read to get back into the genre.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King


Stephen King’s memoir about his life as a writer and some of the methods required to succeed at the craft are laid out in this beautiful non-fiction piece.

I was gifted this novel for Christmas a couple of years ago and finally felt the call to read it in its entirety. Not only did I learn a great deal from King about the craft of writing, but there was also an emotional component. I wrapped this book with tears in my eyes and a reminder of why I am doing what I’m doing. Highly recommend this book to writers of all kinds.

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead


Set in NYC in the early 60s, Harlem Shuffle is a novel about a man named Ray Carney that owns and operates a furniture store in Harlem. Some of the goods he resells don’t always come from legal sources – but Ray knows better than to ask too many questions when his cousin Freddie drops them off. It’s not until Freddie gets involved in a heist that goes sideways, that Ray is further brought into the fold of criminal activity — and those who hold the true power Harlem. Can Ray manage this double life while maintaining his reputation as an upstanding business man?

I listened to this on audiobook and about halfway through I kind of lost track of what was happening. I might have enjoyed the story more if I had read it via a physical book or ebook rather than listening to it. However, I found Freddie incredibly annoying so perhaps not.

Devan Zimmerman June 22 Reads

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