This post is very late. Very extremely late.
You guys probably don’t know, but back in July (yes, I know—so long ago), I made a six-book TBR consisting only of books that I thought would be 5-star reads. Yes, it took me months to finish a six-book TBR. Haha, you thought you were a mood reader? Think again.
The bad timing of this post aside, I’m excited to share what I thought about these books with you today. I love 5-star predictions TBRs, because they push us to read books that we’re pretty sure we’ll love. They’re also a great way to gauge our taste in books and how well we know it. If you haven’t done a 5-star predictions TBR yet, I highly recommend doing so!
The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang
I actually rated The Dragon Republic 5 stars after I finished it. Honestly, it was because everyone else was rating it 5 stars, so I subconsciously thought that I had to rate it 5 stars as well. Since then, I’ve realized that this series is a little too dark for me to handle, and that I don’t connect with its characters very much, which I know are very subjective criticisms. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed this book, and I see why everyone loves it so much, because as a sequel, The Dragon Republic was excellent. It had the same grittiness as the first book. But I loved that this time it focused on naval battles, which were clearly well-researched. I also love that we got more of Su Daji, everyone’s favorite snake empress.
CWsrape, infanticide, war themes, graphic violence, graphic depiction of injury, racism, drug addiction
Rep: Chinese-coded main characters, Japanese antagonists, Mongolian-coded side characters
Descendant of the Crane by Joan He
Descendant of the Crane was… not great, my friends. I’m really disappointed because this book has Chinese characters, and it’s written by a Chinese author!! Plus, a lot of people I admire in the blogging community love it.
I do commend Joan He for writing such an original story. It was refreshing to read a YA book that didn’t follow a “special” heroine or an epic battle against the forces of evil. This story is more of a quiet one that makes you think, and it’s filled with tons of twists and turns.
However, as a character-driven reader, I wasn’t satisfied. I think I once saw a thread written by Joan He on Twitter about how she tried to approach the writing of her characters in a different way. That’s probably why I felt such a palpable detachment to them. On top of that, the writing didn’t flow well, and though there were a lot of plot twists, those ruined the pacing.
I agree that we don’t give teens enough credit, but as a teen myself, I couldn’t take this book seriously. I can get past a 15-year-old girl being the sole ruler of a kingdom. But when you make every character who holds an important role in the kingdom (general, adviser, high-ranking soldier, etc.) a teen??? I’m sorry, but I can’t suspend my disbelief that much! Again, this was probably intentional, because the author has stated that DOTC is supposed to represent the pressure that teens face daily.
So maybe I just don’t get this book? I feel like the problems I had with it were written on purpose.
CWsslavery, blood, self-harm, institutionalized oppression, parental neglect, death of a parent
Rep: Chinese-coded main characters, Asian-inspired setting
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
Sorcery of Thorns is the love child of The Infernal Devices series and Howl’s Moving Caste. There’s no better way to describe it! And yes, it’s filled with tropes, but I truly think that these tropes were depicted at their finest. Also, Silas is my baby. I am literally the 🥺 emoji whenever I think of him.
CWsanxiety depiction, anxiety attacks, talk of loss of a loved one, captivity, talk of forced institutionalization, and violence
Rep: bisexual love interest, main character with anxiety, aromantic side character
Related: review of Sorcery of Thorns
Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett
Foundryside has one of the most complex and interesting magic systems I’ve ever read about!! The author is a genius for coming up with it. (Though I’ll admit that its sheer intricacy confused me at times.)
If you enjoyed Six of Crows and want an adult version of it, then I’d highly suggest picking Foundryside up, because it has:
- A main f/f relationship
- A heist plotline
- Three-dimensional characters whose personalities jump off the page
- Lots of fun banter between the characters
- A talking key
- A setting that feels like a character of its own
I really don’t know why more people haven’t picked it up yet, because I’m pretty sure that so many readers will love it.
(I would like to say though, that some comments about fat people that were made in this book left a poor taste in my mouth. Check out Melanie’s review for quotes.)
CWsabandonment, torture, abuse, murder, death, mentions of sexual assault, child trafficking, loss of a loved one, slavery
Rep: main f/f relationship
Vicious by V.E. Schwab
I’ve been screaming about this book so much lately! You already know how I feel about it—I loved it!! I’m not gonna talk about it here because I’ve already written a review. Plus, this post is long enough.
CWstalk of suicide, attempted suicide, overdosing, self-harm, drug use, murder, animal death, abandonment, panic attacks
Related: mini-review of Vicious
Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
I’ve written an in-depth review of this already, so I won’t be talking too much. It was a wonderful conclusion, and I’m convinced that this book holds magic within its pages. I did find the writing too heavy-handed at times, even though it was beautiful.
CWswar themes, death, torture, human trafficking, rape, parental abuse, suicide, PTSD
Rep: side mlm characters, multiple characters with PTSD, side f/f relationship
Related: review of Muse of Nightmares
Overall, I’m super proud of myself because I highly enjoyed all except one of my 5-star predictions. In the original post wherein I made the predictions, I even said that Vicious would probably be the one I’d love the most, and I was right. Go me!
NEW 5-Star Predictions!
This time, I’m giving myself a lot more leeway to finish these books—until June 2020, to be exact. This will work super well because all five of my new 5-star predictions are around 500 to more than 500 pages long (it’s what I get for liking fantasy lmao).
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
This book is well-known for two reasons: 1) the fact that it has dragons and sapphics, and 2) its page count. I’m pretty sure I’ll love it because of reason #1, and I’ll admit, I used to be intimidated by its size. But I’ve read some of it (as in less than five pages) already, and the writing was surprisingly easy to get through.
Jade City by Fonda Lee
I promised CW @ The Quiet Pond that I’d get to this before the end of the year, and I really don’t want to break my promise! In my heart, I just Know that I’ll love this. So many people I trust consider Jade City as one of their favorite books of all time. Also, this is an Asian-inspired fantasy featuring martial arts and gangsters. Yes. Please!!
The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
I’ve been intimidated by adult fantasy for so long, but I don’t think I am any longer. I’m ready to read one of the most popular adult fantasy series out there, written by one of the most popular adult fantasy authors out there. Plus, many people cite the Mistborn series as a great starting point for readers who are transitioning from YA fantasy to adult fantasy.
Steel Crow Saga by Paul Krueger
Ever since this released, it’s been getting rave reviews. And if Steel Crow Saga is anything like its author’s humor (and from the quotes I’ve seen, it is), I’m going to love it. Also, this is an Asian-inspired fantasy by an Asian author—I’m on brand here.
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
I’m excited to read Erin Morgenstern’s first work in eight years. From what I’ve heard, The Starless Sea was worth the wait, and many people have described it as magical.
I just spent the entirety of this post exposing myself for my love of fantasy. Oops. Anyways, fingers crossed that the next round of predictions will be as successful (or even more successful) than the first round!