5 star TBR predictions: results + new guesses

Just over a year ago, I posted about five books that I guessed I would rate 5 stars. It took me a while, but I have finally read all of the books from that list and I’m ready to talk about them!

Spoiler alert: I’m apparently terrible at judging my own reading taste because I rated none of these 5 stars. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed most of them, and a few came very close to 5 stars, but sadly I didn’t find any new all-time favorites.

Nonetheless, I’m going to be telling you a little able each of the books I originally predicted, as well as choosing five new books that I think I will rate 5 stars. Let’s get into it!

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Results of my predictions

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

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4

Read my review here.

This alternate history set in the Tudor era retells the story of Lady Jane Grey and her brief, ill-fated reign as the queen of England. I had a great time reading this book, since it’s full of lighthearted humor and lots of horse puns. However, the silliness made it difficult to actually get emotionally invested on a deeper level, which led to a 4 star rating rather than 5 stars.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

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4

Read my review here.

Following the crew of a spacecraft called the Wayfarer, this sci-fi novel is episodic and character focused, which I really appreciated. I’m a sucker for found family, so I enjoyed that aspect of this book quite a bit. This is an instance where I can’t really pinpoint anything that I disliked or felt was lacking that made me rate this 4 stars, but it just didn’t feel quite up to that level for me. Still, I enjoyed this enough that I have both of the sequels on hold from my library!

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

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2

Ah yes, the black sheep of this bunch, the one that I actually, genuinely disliked. I haven’t published my review of this yet, so stay tuned for more of my thoughts. This book involves a time traveler joining a crew of secret magic users from 1902 to steal a book that could change history, and in theory that sounds like something I would love (I mean, obviously — I thought I would rate it 5 stars). But unfortunately, I either didn’t care about or fully disliked all of the characters, and the story was so slow that it took me almost an entire month to finish this book.

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake

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4.5

Read my review here.

This middle grade book follows twelve-year-old Ivy Aberdeen after her home is destroyed in a tornado and she tries to find her place among her family and friends. Out of these five books, this one probably came the closest to getting 5 stars, because it definitely made me cry a little and was an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish. Though this wasn’t quite up to a 5 star level, it is among my favorite middle grade books now.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

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Read my review here.

Set in a town that butts up against the faerie world, this book follows siblings Hazel and Ben, and a mysterious horned boy in a glass coffin. I absolutely loved the vibes of this book, which gave me chills while reading. It was perfectly eerie and mysterious. I also loved all of the relationships, but especially the one between Hazel and Ben. Once again, I can’t pinpoint exactly what makes this 4.5 stars instead of 5, but that’s my rating.

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My new 5 star predictions

While I may not have been successful with this last list, I have total unearned confidence that this time I will find five books that I will absolutely adore! Do I even know what I like to read anymore? Apparently not! But am I going to try to predict how these will go? Absolutely!

Okay, choosing these books was more difficult than I expected because I guess I no longer have any faith that I’ll enjoy any of the books on my TBR. But after much deliberation, I have here five more books that I predict I will rate 5 stars. Let’s do this!

Picture Us In the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert

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Summary, via Goodreads:

Danny Cheng has always known his parents have secrets. But when he discovers a taped-up box in his father’s closet filled with old letters and a file on a powerful Silicon Valley family, he realizes there’s much more to his family’s past than he ever imagined.

Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD and his family’s blessing to pursue the career he’s always dreamed of. Still, contemplating a future without his best friend, Harry Wong, by his side makes Danny feel a panic he can barely put into words. Harry and Danny’s lives are deeply intertwined and as they approach the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that shook their friend group to its core, Danny can’t stop asking himself if Harry is truly in love with his girlfriend, Regina Chan.

When Danny digs deeper into his parents’ past, he uncovers a secret that disturbs the foundations of his family history and the carefully constructed facade his parents have maintained begins to crumble. With everything he loves in danger of being stripped away, Danny must face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him.

Ash @ Starlight Strands’ review of this book absolutely convinced me not only that I have to pick up this book, but that I’ll probably love it. From what I can tell, this is the kind of YA contemporary that I tend to adore: beautiful writing, amazing characters, and will definitely make me cry. I also love the sound of the focus on family relationships and uncovering family secrets! I have really high hopes for this book, so fingers crossed that they are fulfilled.

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby

Summary, via Goodreads:

The unforgettable story of two young women—one living, one dead—dealing with loss, desire, and the fragility of the American dream during WWII.

When Frankie’s mother died and her father left her and her siblings at an orphanage in Chicago, it was supposed to be only temporary—just long enough for him to get back on his feet and be able to provide for them once again. That’s why Frankie’s not prepared for the day that he arrives for his weekend visit with a new woman on his arm and out-of-state train tickets in his pocket.

Now Frankie and her sister, Toni, are abandoned alongside so many other orphans—two young, unwanted women doing everything they can to survive.

And as the embers of the Great Depression are kindled into the fires of World War II, and the shadows of injustice, poverty, and death walk the streets in broad daylight, it will be up to Frankie to find something worth holding on to in the ruins of this shattered America—every minute of every day spent wondering if the life she’s able to carve out will be enough.

Not only is this title absolutely phenomenal, but this book’s premise is checking so many of my boxes. Historical fiction with a pinch of fantasy, sister relationships, deconstructing the American dream — yes, yes, and yes. Also, it’s narrated by a freaking ghost?? I need you guys to appreciate how amazing this sounds.

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

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Summary, via Goodreads:

Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.

At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.

Going for a bit of a wild card here, since not only is this a middle grade — which I rarely rate 5 stars — but it’s written in verse. Though I tend to enjoy books in verse, I don’t usually love them. But hopefully I will with this one! From the reviews I’ve seen, this book sounds absolutely lovely and I’m guessing that it will also make me cry.

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

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Summary, via Goodreads:

In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the Eastwood sisters — James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna — join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

This is the only book on this list with an author who isn’t new to me, since I read (and loved) The Ten Thousand Doors of January earlier this year. It’s also the only book that isn’t out yet. But historical witches and the suffrage movement and critiquing the patriarchy sounds so incredibly good that I feel like I have to love this book.

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

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Summary, via Goodreads:

Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself?

More than anything, I’m just hoping so hard that I love this book, since it feels like way too long since I absolutely loved a YA fantasy. Honestly, the synopsis itself isn’t the most eye-catching, but all of the reviews I’ve seen are nothing but positive, so I’m certainly intrigued. I think (I hope) that if I’m going to love a YA fantasy in the near future, it’s going to be this one.

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Huh, I unknowingly chose three YA books, one middle grade, and one adult book, just like with my first list. Would you look at that.

Anyway, wish me luck with these books! Hopefully it won’t take me another year to give you an update.

Have you read any of the books on my new predictions list? What books do you think you’ll rate 5 stars?

x Margaret

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28 thoughts on “5 star TBR predictions: results + new guesses

  1. I’ve seen a few individuals dislike The Last Magician! The premise sounds so adventurous and the cover is gorgeous. Slow stories are a bit rough for me, so hopefully I will enjoy it. Sorry you didn’t!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the vibe of the Darkest Part of the Forest too but I agree, it wasn’t a 5 stars read for me either. There’s just something missing that could make it a 5 stars! I predict My Lady Jane to be a 5 stars read for me too and while the silliness is something that attracts me to the book, it could backfire too so we’ll see 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it can be so hard to figure out the difference between 4.5 and 5 stars sometimes, but I think The Darkest Part of the Forest fits right there at 4.5 for me! I hope My Lady Jane works for you – the silliness is a great aspect 😀

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  3. I’m so glad you liked The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet! I also rated it the same way you did, initially giving it 4 stars without really knowing why it wasn’t 5. But as time went on I just couldn’t stop thinking about it, and I now measure every Sci-Fi book I read against it, so I went back and upped my rating.

    That’s the only book on your list that I’ve read, but I’ve seen most of them before. I’m kind of glad you didn’t like The Last Magician because it’s never appealed to me despite people raving about it, so now I have a solid excuse not to read it 😅

    This post totally reminded me that I did one of these lists too. I just checked on it and I’ve read all the books – I actually read them all last year, but I’d completely forgotten about the post. I might have to copy you and reveal my own results! 😄

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love that The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet has had such a notable impact on you! I definitely think it’s one of the best hard scifi books I’ve read, so I can see myself measuring others that I read against it now 😄

      Ahaha I’m glad I could give you the excuse you needed to not read The Last Magician 😂 And oohh now I’m excited to see the results for your predictions!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It seems like you at least enjoyed a lot of the books you read, even if sadly none of them were 5 stars. I also loved My Lady Jane, it’s such a great, funny book 🥰 I also cannot wait to read The Darkest Part of the Forest and Raybearer, I predict I’ll enjoy them a lot 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. the initial premise of the last magician sounded really interesting for me too, and even though i’m not a fan of fantasy/sci-fi, i was always intrigued about it, but then i learned that all the books in the series are like 500+ pages long and almost everyone said that this first one could’ve very much just been a standalone soooo.. yeah probably never gonna happen lol

    i really hope you love other words for home! i remember loving it too and i think the only reason why i ended up not giving it a full 5 stars was because it’s supposed to be middle grade but sometimes the characters would act a lot older, like as if they were already 15/16 when i believe they’re supposed to be 13/14? like there’s legit a character who uses combat boots. like i could never picture a middle schooler wearing combat boots hahah hope you love it, though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahaha yep, I highly doubt I’ll ever pick up the rest of the books in the Last Magician series 😅 They’re just sooo long and considering I didn’t like the first, I doubt it’ll get better for me.

      I can’t wait for Other Words for Home! That seems like a valid reason to get taken out of the story – I would not have worn combat boots in middle school, but I feel like I knew of other people who did?? Still, hard to picture! 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I was pleasantly surprised when I did this to find that I actually understood my taste fairly well, and though, like you, I had a lot of four star reads, it was a lot of fun to see my predictions come (mostly) true! I’m curious to see what you think of Other Words for Home! I’ve been eyeing it for a while now, and the cover is just gorgeous.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I find it so hard to guess which books are 5-star reads. Granted, most of the books I read tend to be among the 4-stars so thankfully I still enjoy them. I’m pretty optimistic about Raybearer. Everything about the concept sounds like my cup of tea and I hope you enjoy it. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. aww i’m sorry you weren’t able to find any new favorites from your old 5-star predictions!! 😭 but i’m glad you enjoyed ivy aberdeen, i’ve been looking for more mg recs so it’s definitely going on my tbr!!

    and AAAAH!!! i am so ready for you to cry over and fall in love with picture us in the light!!! it means so much that my review convinced you to read it 😭🥰 i really enjoyed other words for home as well, so i hope you love it too!! and omg yes everyone is loving raybearer so i really want to know what the hype is about!! 😅

    this was such a fun post, i hope you end up loving all of these new predictions!! 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fingers crossed that I finally manage to find some new 5-stars from this new list! 🤞 And YES I absolutely recommend Ivy Aberdeen if you’re looking for MG books 😀

      SO excited to read Picture Us in the Light – thank you for your review that convinced me to read it! Raybearer also sounds sooo good, so I can’t wait 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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