Weekly

T10T: 5 Star Predictions

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is Books On My TBR I Predict Will Be 5-Star Reads.


Were They Five Stars?

As it’s tradition for my 5 star prediction posts, I’ll wrap up the previous one first. My last post about 5 star predictions was in July of 2019. I haven’t read all of them since, but I have read three of them:

  • Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden: a wonderful, futuristic F/F book full of great ideas; sadly, the execution was really messy at times. 3 stars (review)
  • Middlegame by Seanan McGuire: a genre-bending masterpiece from someone who is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. 5 stars (review)
  • With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo: slice-of-life about an Afrolatinx teen mother and her love for cooking. Changed my life.  5 stars (review)

Two out of three! Not bad; it means I can actually predict this kind of thing at least a little.

Still Have To Read:

  • The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar: currently reading! It’s really difficult to follow and also one of the most lyrical and confusing things I’ve ever read in my life.
  • Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi, a dislike-to-love contemporary romance following two girls; I’ve seen mixed reviews around this but I do tend to like stories about girls who make terrible decisions and dislike people for almost no reason. I’ve been that teenager.

The New Ones

Now, onto the new 5 star predictions. I will only list seven of them (five novels, two novellas), as I already have two left over and ten would be too much anyway.

Just one rule: sequels aren’t allowed. That would be too easy (to choose) and too difficult (despite my high hopes, I rarely like sequels).

The Empress of Salt and Fortune

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I’m starting with this, as I’m pretty confident I’ll like it. While I haven’t read anything by Nghi Vo before, this is a Tor.com novella and those almost never disappoint me – I really appreciate how high-quality this imprint is – and has also been compared to the Tensorate novellas, my favorite novella series together with Wayward Children.

Phoenix Extravagant

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My favorite author is back and he’s back with one of the weirdest covers I’ve seen in the fantasy genre! I don’t know who chooses his covers – or which is the weirdest between this and the Ninefox Gambit space urchin – but I hope they continue with this style. Anyway, this is Korean-inspired fantasy dealing with colonization, following a non-binary protagonist. I can’t wait.

In the Dream House

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I’ve since read the first chapter of this and can officially say I love both Carmen Maria Machado’s writing style and what she has to say. I took notes while only reading the prologue (it talks about the violence that is perpetrated on queer people through erasure and gatekeeping) and can already tell this is going to be a great experience.

Freshwater

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Akwaeke Emezi is the author of Pet, one of my favorite books of last year, so I’m really interested in reading this one; I think I’ll really like it as well. I don’t have a lot of experience with adult magical realism/literary stuff, so it should be interesting. I also already know that Akwaeke Emezi’s writing is stunning.

The Unspoken Name

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I was already anticipating this one, because anything F/F ends up on my radar, and this is F/F; however, the more I hear about this, the more it seems just… perfect. Not only it’s fantasy, space is somehow involved, and apparently the main character describes herself as an atheist? Can’t wait to get to it; I have an ARC from when I was still requesting them.

Desdemona and the Deep

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Again with the novellas! As I said, I trust Tor.com, and I trust all my friends who reviewed this and without one exception rated it five stars. I’m not even completely sure what it is about; I just know it’s queer and that there are the faerie involved. It should be interesting in any case.

Palimpsest

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This is the one I’m least sure about – mostly because I’ve had mixed experiences with Catherynne M. Valente’s older works – but I own it, and want to convince myself to read it. After all, I really do think I’ll like it once I get to it. I just need to get over the fact that I’m always intimidated by her books because getting into them isn’t easy. (Also I’m shallow and hate this cover.)


Have you read any of these?

TBR & Goals

5 Star Predictions #3

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?


Wrap-Up

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]


New Predictions!

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?

 

TBR & Goals

5 Star Predictions #2

In April I wrote a post about my 5 star predictions. I’ve read all of those books since then, and now I want to write a wrap-up and new five star predictions.


Wrap-Up

I put those images in the order from the post, which was least-to-most likely to be a five star, but I expected to love them all.
I almost did.

Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro: the only one I really didn’t like. I read it while sick (abdominal pain that turned out to be appendicitis, so that probably influenced my reading experience) but this book seriously needed more editing. I rated it 2 stars.

Witchmark by C.L. Polk: this didn’t end up being exactly what I expected but I loved it anyway. It’s a murder mystery with steampunk and paranormal aspect but it reads like a (m/m) romance and it was really good. 5 stars.

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan: I was afraid the length of this one (more than 400 pages is usually too much for a contemporary) would slow me down, but I flew through it. I was also afraid I wouldn’t like to read a story about someone losing a parent to suicide, but it was handled really well. The writing and characterization were as good as I expected them to be. This is a beautiful book and I really recommend it. 5 stars.

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire: I knew this would go either very right or very wrong. It did both, but it mostly went right, and I love reading about queer women in science. I mean, part of it is about a f/f couple in which one of the characters is a marine biologist (and the other is autistic). Also the sea is scary and mermaids will eat you. 5 stars.

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie: this was on the list because everyone I know who loves Ninefox Gambit has also loved this, and I can say that worked. If you like Ninefox Gambit, I think you’re going to like this too, but I can’t say the reverse always works because this is far less violent than Lee’s book. Anyway, it’s a story about an AI masquerading as a human, a colonizing space empire led by [something? someone?] probably evil, and a lot of tea. It’s about humanity and sentience, at its heart, and I loved it. 5 stars.


New Predictions!

The last five star prediction post mostly worked (I got four out of five right!), so I want to try again. I have three rules: no sequels, no books by favorite authors, no books that are going to come out in more than a month (unless I have an ARC).

5. Vita Nostra by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko

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For the first time in years, I’m going to read a book whose original language wasn’t English or Italian. Vita Nostra should be a creepy, unusual story set in a magical school, and I have a lot of feelings about that kind of setting. I know I’m either going to love this or hate it (if I hate it, it’s probably because I wasn’t able to get into it, but I hope that doesn’t happen).

4. Final Draft by Riley Redgate

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I don’t know what it is about this book – maybe some of the reviews I’ve read? the fact that I read the preview and decided the writing was nice? – but I think I’m really going to like this. It’s a contemporary book about a pansexual Ecuadorian girl, Laila, who is an author struggling with her writing. Some aspects of the preview kind of reminded of Mercedes’ struggle with art in one of my favorite books of all times, The Gallery of Unfinished Girls, so I hope I like this too.

3. Borderline by Mishell Baker
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I have a really good feeling about this. The fact that I know that the borderline representation is ownvoices helps – with very stigmatized mental illnesses, you never know if it’s going to be representation or a shitty plot device – but anyway, faeries, and I haven’t read a good adult contemporary urban fantasy in a while.

2. Mirage by Somaiya Daud

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I’ve had this on my TBR since I’ve heard it existed, everyone is giving it five stars, I really liked the preview and already bought an ebook – yes, I think I’m at least going to like this. I hope I love it. It’s a sci-fi book inspired by Moroccan history, and it should involve colonialism and royalty.

1. The Bedlam Stacks or The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

I know, this is a bit like cheating, but I own both of those and I have no idea which one I’m going to read first – and that will be the one I count for this tag. I have a really good feeling about both of those and I’ve heard mostly positive things about them, so I hope they won’t disappoint.
I really want to love the only gay adult historical fantasy books I know that got translated into Italian.


Have you read any of these? What was your latest five star read?

TBR & Goals

5 Star Predictions

These are the books on my TBR I consider most likely to get a five star from me. I’ve seen a few booktubers and bloggers do this lately, so why not try it myself?

(or: let’s hype up some books for ourselves and then complain when they don’t meet our definitely too-high expectations!) And maybe I will also write a wrap-up of this when I read them all to see how wrong I was.

I will not include sequels and authors I already know – that would be too easy.


Anger is a Gift

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The same kind of contemporary as The Hate U Give, but queer? Yes. I am worried about the US-centrism – American issue books are the best place to find it, and that’s why I avoid most of them. But this time the early reviews got me interested and I know it’s probably going to be at least a little bit US-centric, so it shouldn’t bother me too much.


Witchmark

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I want every book I read to be good but I really want this one to be good. Mostly because I’m in love with this cover and it promises the best atmosphere. A world inspired by Edwardian England, but magical and gay. I haven’t heard much about it but every review I’ve found so far was good.


The Astonishing Color of After

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A contemporary book that may or may not have magical aspects, and part of it is set in Taiwan. I haven’t read it yet because it’s almost 500 pages and I think that’s far too much for almost every contemporary book, but I also think I’m going to love this.


Into the Drowning Deep

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Mira Grant is Seanan McGuire so I’ve already read some of her novels, but different name and different genres = I don’t care.
The premise of this one is far too personal for it to go wrong. And that’s also why I haven’t read it yet. (Let’s not talk about how the last f/f book I read that had marginally something to do with underwater photography and marine life/biology actually was.) But I’ve read the first chapters and it doesn’t seem like I’ll have the annoying know-it-all voice telling me the author got science wrong while I read this.
I’m also afraid it could be the wrong kind of horror for me. We’ll see?


Ancillary Justice

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…If this isn’t five stars, I’m going to be very sad.
When your favorite book is constantly recommended as “for fans of [other book]”, you are going to have very high expectations for [other book]. And I mean, most reviewers I trust who have read it loved it. I have to get to it, I have a copy, and yet. The only thing I love more than reading and reviewing is procrastinating on Into the Drowning Deep, The Fifth Season and Ancillary Justice.


Have you read any of these? Do you also think this kind of post is the worst idea?*

*don’t worry! I would have hyped them up for myself too much anyway