“The day I went missing. That’s where I’ll start. Keep up.”First line in Echo Cycle by Patrick Edwards
I might have forgotten that I had read all my 5-star predictions but my wrap-up is here now! It’s time to reveal whether I have gotten any better at predicting which books I’ll give 5 stars since the first two times were major failures. Let’s see if third time’s the charm.
The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys
Rating: 4 stars
This was a perfectly fine book but the plot wasn’t the strongest. It dragged quite a bit in a book that ended up feeling very long because of it. The characters were good but its biggest selling point is the atmosphere of Spain in the 50s. Because of that, I’d still say that fans of Ruta Sepetys should read this book.
Sistersong by Lucy Holland
Rating: 2.5 stars
The first half of this book was amazing but then all the set-up never amounted to anything and we got a rushed second half with character development happening off-page. I also really like a book that isn’t afraid to be dark and maybe a little controversial and I felt this was what Holland was aiming for in the first half but she didn’t carry through and because of that, made it a historical book that could have taken place in 2022.
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
Rating: 5 stars
THIS WAS AMAZING! The book is just one long WTF-moment and I love it! It’s super weird and totally relies on the reader to piece stuff together, and I just need more books to be like this!
The Bone Ship’s Wake by RJ Barker
Rating: 4 stars
This is the final book in a trilogy that I hold in high esteem, and that is despite this conclusion being a little disappointing. A lot of it is saved by the ending which is one I still find myself thinking about, but everything leading up to that felt rather anti-climactic. I would call this my least favorite book in the trilogy.
Echo Cycle by Patrick Edwards
Rating: 3 stars
Picking this one as a 5-star prediction was a bit of a long shot, I knew that. It’s fairly unknown and just had a highly unique premise that felt like it was written just for me. Turns out it was too good to be true and the author had some trouble fully utilizing that premise. It was a fine read but I had expected more.
So how did I do?
Books given 5 stars: 1
Books I’m also counting as a win: 0
That is the exact same result as the previous round and I guess I should just be happy that I got one. I was just much more confident about these five books (except maybe Echo Cycle), and especially Sistersong was a huge letdown.
I usually look at the results and find out what I can learn about my reading tastes in regard to what isn’t working for me, but I don’t think there’s much to learn this time around. There was no way for me to know that the final book in The Tide Child trilogy would be the worst one or that Sistersong would be written like a contemporary. I know I took a chance on Echo Cycle but I don’t want to say that I’ll never do that again.
I see no reason not to try again though so here are five new books I expect will be 5-star reads!
A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne
Maurice Swift is handsome, charming, and hungry for fame. The one thing he doesn’t have is talent—but he’s not about to let a detail like that stand in his way. After all, a would-be writer can find stories anywhere. They don’t need to be his own.
Working as a waiter in a West Berlin hotel in 1988, Maurice engineers the perfect opportunity: a chance encounter with celebrated novelist Erich Ackermann. He quickly ingratiates himself with the powerful – but desperately lonely – older man, teasing out of Erich a terrible, long-held secret about his activities during the war. Perfect material for Maurice’s first novel.
Once Maurice has had a taste of literary fame, he knows he can stop at nothing in pursuit of that high. Moving from the Amalfi Coast, where he matches wits with Gore Vidal, to Manhattan and London, Maurice hones his talent for deceit and manipulation, preying on the talented and vulnerable in his cold-blooded climb to the top. But the higher he climbs, the further he has to fall. . . .
A Taste of Gold and Iron by Alexandra Rowland
Kadou, the shy prince of Arasht, finds himself at odds with one of the most powerful ambassadors at court—the body-father of the queen’s new child—in an altercation which results in his humiliation.
To prove his loyalty to the queen, his sister, Kadou takes responsibility for the investigation of a break-in at one of their guilds, with the help of his newly appointed bodyguard, the coldly handsome Evemer, who seems to tolerate him at best. In Arasht, where princes can touch-taste precious metals with their fingers and myth runs side by side with history, counterfeiting is heresy, and the conspiracy they discover could cripple the kingdom’s financial standing and bring about its ruin.
Ordinary Monsters by J. M. Miro
England, 1882. In Victorian London, two children with mysterious powers are hunted by a figure of darkness —a man made of smoke.
Sixteen-year-old Charlie Ovid, despite a lifetime of brutality, doesn’t have a scar on him. His body heals itself, whether he wants it to or not. Marlowe, a foundling from a railway freight car, shines with a strange bluish light. He can melt or mend flesh. When two grizzled detectives are recruited to escort them north to safety, they are forced to confront the nature of difference, and belonging, and the shadowy edges of the monstrous.
What follows is a journey from the gaslit streets of London, to an eerie estate outside Edinburgh, where other children with gifts—the Talents—have been gathered. Here, the world of the dead and the world of the living threaten to collide. And as secrets within the Institute unfurl, Marlowe, Charlie and the rest of the Talents will discover the truth about their abilities, and the nature of the force that is stalking them: that the worst monsters sometimes come bearing the sweetest gifts.
Honeybee by Craig Silvey
Late in the night, fourteen-year-old Sam Watson steps onto a quiet overpass, climbs over the rail and looks down at the road far below.
At the other end of the same bridge, an old man, Vic, smokes his last cigarette.
The two see each other across the void. A fateful connection is made, and an unlikely friendship blooms. Slowly, we learn what led Sam and Vic to the bridge that night. Bonded by their suffering, each privately commits to the impossible task of saving the other.
Honeybee is a heart-breaking, life-affirming novel that throws us headlong into a world of petty thefts, extortion plots, botched bank robberies, daring dog rescues and one spectacular drag show.
At the heart of Honeybee is Sam: a solitary, resilient young person battling to navigate the world as their true self; ensnared by a loyalty to a troubled mother, scarred by the volatility of a domineering step-father, and confounded by the kindness of new alliances.
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, and centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation’s past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains: the reclusive Mr Norrell, whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country.
Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of another magician: the brilliant novice Jonathan Strange.
Young, handsome and daring, Strange is the very antithesis of Norrel. So begins a dangerous battle between these two great men which overwhelms that between England and France. And their own obsessions and secret dabblings with the dark arts are going to cause more trouble than they can imagine.
I’m choosing some books by authors I’ve had good experiences with for my next attempt and hoping they won’t let me down. I’m most confident about A Taste of Gold and Iron and very much afraid of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell but let’s see how it goes. Have you read any of the books mentioned? Maybe you can reassure me about my predictions?