Last September, I wrote a post about the books on my TBR most likely to be 5 stars. While my first attempt at 5 star predictions was pretty successful (four out of five ended up being 5 stars), this one… was not.
Today, I’m going to try again. Let’s see how it goes?
In the order of the least to most likely (but all likely, or… so I thought) to be a five stars, in my September post I talked about these books:
Vita Nostra by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko: this was, without a doubt, an experience, and while I’m still glad I read it, it’s not one I enjoyed in any way. I rated it 3 stars for the sheer weirdness of it all, but I didn’t get much out of it (maybe if I reread it in a few years I will? I don’t know). Someone else could, however.
Final Draft by Riley Redgate: this one did end up being 5 stars! A beautiful novel about anxiety and art, with one of my favorite romances (and it’s f/f! with a pansexual Ecuadorian main character.)
Borderline by Mishell Baker: this was really good! I especially loved the main character and the diversity, but it still wasn’t 5 star territory for me – it was a solid urban fantasy novel, but I wasn’t that invested in the plot or in any character but Millie. I gave this one 4 stars.
Mirage by Somaiya Daud: this was… a beautifully written, truly original Moroccan-inspired space fantasy, but a combination of me reading it in a difficult moment and this book employing some tropes I struggle with (main character is isolated and then forced to do things they find painful and/or humiliating) made me not enjoy it that much. I see it as a weak 4 stars.
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley: I was told this book was slow. I thought a premise like this one couldn’t go wrong, but it didn’t go right either, and I thought I was prepared for the pacing, but I wasn’t. This book is one of the worst-paced things I read in the last few years. I thought several aspects of this were fascinating, but… a lot of things weren’t. 3 stars. [I still want to try The Bedlam Stacks, though]
As you can see, last round didn’t go terribly (I still liked all the books at least a little), but I can do better. I hope. As usual, sequels don’t count!
5. Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden
I haven’t heard anyone talk about this yet, so it’s the one I’m most hesitant about, but it’s also true that Drayden’s books don’t get even half the hype they deserve, and… if you like weird novels that blend sci-fi and fantasy in ways you’ve never seen before and that don’t take themselves too seriously without being comedy, try them?
I’m in love with this cover, and I don’t need to know more than “this is Drayden’s take on biological spaceships” to put it on this list, after how much I loved Temper last summer.
4. Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi
All the negative things I’ve heard about this book are actually things I love – so the main characters are unlikable and overdramatic? I love that, especially if they’re teens! Even more if they’re teen girls, let teen girls be messy! – and I’m seeing a few more positive reviews lately, so I hope I like this? I’ve never read anything by this author before. (Also: gay!)
3. The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar
I’ve heard very little about this but all I’ve heard has been amazing and it sounds like a very fascinating, very unique, and very gay novel. Apparently it’s non-linear and specifically plays with that format to put together a very unreliable narration? As I said with Vita Nostra last time, this could either go perfectly or really wrong.
2. Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
Not all of Seanan McGuire’s books end up resonating with me, but when they do… well, she did write three of my favorite books. And when they don’t, they’re still solid stories, and by now I know what to expect from her writing (I don’t always love her tendency to rely on telling rather than showing more than the average author, but by now I know she does). I realize I haven’t said anything about Middlegame specifically yet, but it’s fine. I don’t know what this is about, and I want to go into it that way.
1. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
I guess we’re going to know the answer to this one very soon? Anyway: Elizabeth Acevedo wrote The Poet X. I would be surprised if I don’t end up at least really liking this one. Also, it involves food!
Have you read any of these?