Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Will I Give These Books 5 Stars?

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I’m going to make book predictions! At the start of 2021, I chose 10 books that I hadn’t read but thought I’d love. Over the course of the year, I read the books, then shared my reviews. I’m going to do that again. These are my 2022 5-star predictions. I promise I will read all these books sometime this year.

I currently have 60-something unread books on my to-be-read (TBR) shelf. I think all of them have the potential to earn a 5-star review from me. (They wouldn’t be on the shelf if I didn’t think I’d love them.) But I’m extra excited about the books in this post because they have mostly positive reviews on Goodreads. Their average ratings are between 4.22 and 4.53. I hope I love them as much as everybody else does.

Do These Books Deserve 5 Stars?

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Adult Science Fiction

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the Earth itself will perish.

Except that right now, he doesn't know that. He can't even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.

All he knows is that he's been asleep for a very, very long time. And he's just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.

His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, he realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Alone on this tiny ship that's been cobbled together by every government and space agency on the planet and hurled into the depths of space, it's up to him to conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.

And thanks to an unexpected ally, he just might have a chance.

Why I'm excited to read it: Well, my dad liked it. I guess that's a good sign because he hates everything. Also, this book has an insanely high average rating on Goodreads. At the time I'm writing this, the average is 4.53 / 5 stars. I haven't read many books with ratings that high. Goodreads is usually mean to books!



Human rights activist Park, who fled North Korea with her mother in 2007 at age 13 and eventually made it to South Korea two years later after a harrowing ordeal, recognized that in order to be "completely free," she had to confront the truth of her past. It is an ugly, shameful story of being sold with her mother into slave marriages by Chinese brokers, and although she at first tried to hide the painful details when blending into South Korean society, she realized how her survival story could inspire others. Moreover, her sister had also escaped earlier and had vanished into China for years, prompting the author to go public with her story in the hope of finding her sister.

Why I'm excited to read it: Remember when this book was everywhere? Somehow, I missed out on reading it while it was popular. (That always seems to happen.) I want to read it because North Korea is a curious place. We rarely get accurate information about what happens there. This book might be an informative peek into the mystery.

Buy it on Amazon


Young Adult Contemporary Novel-In-Verse

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

Why I'm excited to read it: I've come across this book on a few lists of modern novels that are destined to become classics. The author is an award-winning slam poet. This book won the National Book Award and the Printz Award. That's impressive. Those are big awards. I hope I love it as much as award committees do.

Buy it on Amazon

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Adult Historical Science Fiction

Thirteen-year-old Anna, an orphan, lives inside the formidable walls of Constantinople in a house of women who make their living embroidering the robes of priests. Restless, insatiably curious, Anna learns to read, and in this ancient city, famous for its libraries, she finds a book, the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky. This she reads to her ailing sister as the walls of the only place she has known are bombarded in the great siege of Constantinople. Outside the walls is Omeir, a village boy, miles from home, conscripted with his beloved oxen into the invading army. His path and Anna’s will cross.

Five hundred years later, in a library in Idaho, octogenarian Zeno, who learned Greek as a prisoner of war, rehearses five children in a play adaptation of Aethon’s story, preserved against all odds through centuries. Tucked among the library shelves is a bomb, planted by a troubled, idealistic teenager, Seymour. This is another siege. And in a not-so-distant future, on the interstellar ship Argos, Konstance is alone in a vault, copying on scraps of sacking the story of Aethon, told to her by her father. She has never set foot on our planet.

Why I'm excited to read it: The author's other book, All The Light We Cannot See, is one of my all-time-favorite novels. I even taught a college class on it, and I didn't end up hating the book by the end of the class! (Usually, if I teach a book, I never want to look at it again.) I'm interested to see what else the author can do.

Buy it on Amazon


Young Adult Historical Fiction

Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming promise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of an oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother's birth through the lens of his camera. Photography—and fate—introduce him to Ana, whose family's interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War—as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel's photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of difficult decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.


Why I’m excited to read it: I read a lot of historical fiction, and Ruta Sepetys is one of my all-time-favorite historical fiction authors. She always manages to teach me things while telling an entertaining story. Her books are fast-paced and often focus on parts of history that are overlooked.


Buy it on Amazon



At the age of thirty-eight, Stephen Kuusisto—who has managed his whole life without one—gets his first guide dog, a beautiful yellow Labrador named Corky. Theirs is a partnership of movement, mutual self-interest, and wanderlust.

Why I'm excited to read it: I want to read more animal books, but it's hard to find good ones because too many of them are sappy! I can't stand sappy books. I have no idea if this book is sappy, but I picked it up because it has extremely positive reviews on Goodreads. It's about a man going on adventures with his dog. Sounds cool.

Buy it on Amazon


Middle Grade Fantasy

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl's castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there's far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.


Why I’m excited to read it: It's a classic. I often stumble across this novel on lists of must-read children’s books. I’ve somehow gone my entire life without reading it. I guess it’s time to see what the hype is about. Why does everybody love it so much?


Buy it on Amazon


Young Adult (Or Middle Grade?) Contemporary Fiction

When Jack meets his new foster brother, he already knows three things about him:

Joseph almost killed a teacher.

He was incarcerated at a place called Stone Mountain.

He has a daughter. Her name is Jupiter. And he has never seen her.

What Jack doesn’t know, at first, is how desperate Joseph is to find his baby girl.

Or how urgently he, Jack, will want to help.

But the past can’t be shaken off. Even as new bonds form, old wounds reopen. The search for Jupiter demands more from Jack than he can imagine.

Why I'm excited to read it: People have been recommending this book to me for years. My teacher friends love it. The writers from my graduate school rave about it. The library waitlist is so long I could never get a copy. Well, I have one now! It's time to find out if it's worth the hype.

Buy it on Amazon


Sociology / Philosophy Nonfiction

A stevedore on the San Francisco docks in the 1940s, Eric Hoffer wrote philosophical treatises in his spare time while living in the railroad yards. The True Believer—the first and most famous of his books—was made into a bestseller when President Eisenhower cited it during one of the earliest television press conferences. Completely relevant and essential for understanding the world today, The True Believer is a visionary, highly provocative look into the mind of the fanatic and a penetrating study of how an individual becomes one.


Why I’m excited to read it: It’s a classic that’s been recommended to me for years. I’m interested in cults and how people become fanatical about religious or political beliefs. I swear I have no plans to start a cult. Nobody’s got time for that. I’m just curious.


Buy it on Amazon


Young Adult Science Fiction

It’s been three years since Rowan and Citra disappeared; since Scythe Goddard came into power; since the Thunderhead closed itself off to everyone but Grayson Tolliver.

In this pulse-pounding conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe trilogy, constitutions are tested and old friends are brought back from the dead.


Why I’m excited to read it: This series is so good! If you like dystopias, you need to read it. It’s fast-paced, thought-provoking, and completely unpredictable. The Toll is the final book in the series. I can’t wait to find out how it ends.


Buy it on Amazon

Have you read any of these books? Which unread book on your shelf do you think will get 5 stars?


  1. I need to read The Toll this year, too! Hope these are all fantastic reads for you!

  2. From all the gushing my daughter does during her dissertation on the Scythe series, the concept sounds quite deserving of five stars.

  3. What amazing books on this list. Howl's Moving Castle, The Fountains of Silence, and The Poet X all need to go on my wish list. Thanks for sharing.


  4. I have not read any of these books, but I've heard great things about Cloud Cuckoo Land.

  5. Love this idea and hope you'll love all of these too! The Arc of a Scythe series are on my TBR, as well as Project Hail Mary and Fountains of Silence.

  6. Cloud Cuckoo Land. YES. Project Hail Mary. YES. The Project X. YES. Good choices. My TTT

  7. Hail Mary is so popular. Cuckoo LAnd sounds wild!

  8. I did really like 'Howl's Moving Castle' but, for me, the Chrestomanci books are her best!

  9. I've read three of these books. I hope you enjoy all of these.

  10. The only one of these that I have read is Project Hail Mary. I gave it 5 stars, so obviously, I thought it was worth that! I wouldn't say it's perfect, but it pulled me right in and kept me reading, and it has an absolute gem of a secondary character (about whom I can say nothing without massive spoilers.) Incidentally, it's already in development as a film, with Drew Goddard writing the screenplay (he wrote the screenplay for The Martian) and Ryan Gosling signed on to play the main character. Should be fun!

    As for your other books, I also enjoyed Howl's Moving Castle, though not as much as Robin (my offspring), who loves it. The rest of them are less familiar to me, but I have heard of about half of them, and the others look interesting, too. I hope they are ALL 5-star reads for you!

  11. Oh! What a list of books! I liked Fountains of Silence and loved Orbiting Jupiter, The Toll, and Poet X. And, I am going to read Project Hail Mary in March.

    1. I don't know why my Blogger profile isn't showing up. Hmmmm. This is Helen from Helen's Book Blog :-)

  12. Lots of great books on this list! I especially hope you love The Toll - that series is epic. And I've always wondered about Howl's Moving Castle and Orbiting Jupiter as well (and Schmidt in general). I recently added that last book to my Hoopla Favorites, so I plan to listen to it soon.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  13. Ah I hope you'll love all of these! Howl's Moving Castle is SUCH a great read, I remember reading it a long, long time ago and loving it very much. I still need to read The Poet X, but I'm excited! It sounds really great :)

  14. Well, I have read two of these- Project Hail Mary, and The Toll, and I did indeed give them 5 stars, so I have my fingers crossed that you will also! And, I have heard great things about the others, too!