Happy Saturday Morning folksies! Today I want to talk about the books that I feel will be five-star reads for me, and I decided to make it a coffee time post because I want to delve a bit into the factors involved in doing this. At this point in writing the post, I haven’t actually created the list of books yet, and I feel like it’s going to be more challenging than I expect. Well, here goes nothing:
…this is where I go make a list…
Alright! I came up with five books that I think are going to be five stars for me, and let me tell you, I have three hundred-something odd books on my physical TBR, and these were the only ones I’m 95% sure of getting a five stars. It was difficult, and honestly I’m surprised how few I looked at and went ‘Oh I’m going to absolutely love this’.
And while I was able to choose five books, I identified that each one fell into one of three categories.
Category 1: Have heard zero bad things about it
There are two books on the list that I haven’t seen a single negative review about. And I mean none. So, these two are the ones that have the most risk of falling prey to over-hype. Maybe my expectations are too high for these. So I’ll try to quell them before actually picking them up so I can enjoy them for what they are. But man! Both of these sound so damn good!
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson – I’ve only ever read one other Sanderson book, Elantris, and gave it a four star rating… and I’ve heard his books only get better from there, and that this one is his best one. So, reason would say that I’ll love this.
‘Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.
It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.
One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.
Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.
Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.
The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.
Speak again the ancient oaths:
Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before Destination.
and return to men the Shards they once bore.
The Knights Radiant must stand again.’
The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang – This one I feel like is going to be amazing. It’s the debut novel of this author, and everyone I’ve seen read it has loved it. I’m hoping I’ll love it too.
‘When Rin aced the Keju, the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies, it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard, the most elite military school in Nikan, was even more surprising.
But surprises aren’t always good.
Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.
For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .
Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.’
Category 2: Reminds me of other books I loved
The single book in this category is here because it when reading the synopsis, I got tendrils of other book plots I’ve adored.
Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente – This books reminds me of Spinning Silver and Uprooted by Naomi Novik, and even has hints of The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. I’ve heard the writing style is a bit different, so I’m going to keep that in mind, but I hope I enjoy this one as much as I think I will.
‘Koschei the Deathless is to Russian folklore what devils or wicked witches are to European culture: a menacing, evil figure; the villain of countless stories which have been passed on through story and text for generations. But Koschei has never before been seen through the eyes of Catherynne Valente, whose modernized and transformed take on the legend brings the action to modern times, spanning many of the great developments of Russian history in the twentieth century.
Deathless, however, is no dry, historical tome: it lights up like fire as the young Marya Morevna transforms from a clever child of the revolution, to Koschei’s beautiful bride, to his eventual undoing. Along the way there are Stalinist house elves, magical quests, secrecy and bureaucracy, and games of lust and power. All told, Deathless is a collision of magical history and actual history, of revolution and mythology, of love and death, which will bring Russian myth back to life in a stunning new incarnation.’
Category 3: Sequels to books I loved
This last category is the one where I’m most confident in loving the book, especially the second one I will mention. Earlier books in the series mentioned have all gotten five stars from me, so hopefully the trend will just continue. For these, the synopsis I list will be for the first book in the series, to avoid spoilers.
Caliban’s War by James S. A. Corey – Sequel to Leviathan Wakes, this book continues the Expanse series. And actually, I’ve already watched this one’s plot in the tv series and adored it, so I’m almost 100% sure I’m going to love this one.
Goodreads synopsis of Leviathian Wakes:
Humanity has colonized the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond – but the stars are still out of our reach.
Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, the Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for – and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.
Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to the Scopuli and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.
Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations – and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.
Tongues of Serpents by Noami Novik – The sixth book in Novik’s Temeraire series, the first one being His Majesty’s Dragon, I’m sure I’m going to adore this. I’ve adored the first four – all five stars – and am currently reading the fifth (aaaand am loving it just as much). Plus! Everything of Novik’s that I’ve read, I’ve been smitten with. Temeraire, Uprooted, Spinning Silver, all of it.
Goodreads synopsis of His Majesty’s Dragon:
Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors ride mighty fighting dragons, bred for size or speed. When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes the precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Captain Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future – and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.
By the way, the Temeraire series is one of my all-time favorites. I’ve loved it since I first read the first four books back in high school. If you are tempted to pick any of the books mentioned up, I recommend this one the most.
And that’s it for the predictions. Are there any other factors you use to determine how much you’ll like a book? Or ones that you know will make you hate it? Do tell!