Since I started blogging almost five years ago, I think I have a pretty good understanding of my reading taste and can accurately predict whether or not I will like a book. Something I have not gotten a handle on is predicting if a book is going to be a five-star read for me! There are so many factors that go into a five-star book, which is something I really should dive into in a separate post. Even though I am terrible at this, it does not stop me from putting together a stack of five-star predictions! I have included five backlist titles and five 2022 releases. I hope to come back at the end of the year having read all of these and letting you know how well I did.
The Girl With the Louding Voice
Despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles in her path, Adunni never loses sight of her goal of escaping the life of poverty she was born into so that she can build the future she chooses for herself – and help other girls like her do the same.
Her spirited determination to find joy and hope in even the most difficult circumstances imaginable will “break your heart and then put it back together again” (Jenna Bush Hager on The Today Show) even as Adunni shows us how one courageous young girl can inspire us all to reach for our dreams…and maybe even change the world.
I have had a copy of The Girl With the Louding Voice on my shelves since it came out in 2020. This is probably the book on this list that I am most confident in. It has over 95,000 ratings on Goodreads and an average rating of 4.46. That is pretty incredible! I have been recommended this book so often and I just know in my heart that I am going to love it. This is a book that follows into the “I’m saving it for the perfect time” category, which is something I am pushing against in 2022!
In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant — and that her lover is married — she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son’s powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.
Richly told and profoundly moving, Pachinko is a story of love, sacrifice, ambition, and loyalty. From bustling street markets to the halls of Japan’s finest universities to the pachinko parlors of the criminal underworld, Lee’s complex and passionate characters — strong, stubborn women, devoted sisters and sons, fathers shaken by moral crisis — survive and thrive against the indifferent arc of history.
Pachinko is another book that I have had on my shelves for years now! It has almost 300,000 ratings on Goodreads and an average rating of 4.29- wow! This book has so many of my buzzwords- family saga, multi-generational, and lush writing. I am pretty confident that Panchinko will end up being a five-star read for me, especially as I sit here reading reviews from friends.
Salt to the Sea
While the Titanic and Lusitania are both well-documented disasters, the single greatest tragedy in maritime history is the little-known January 30, 1945 sinking in the Baltic Sea by a Soviet submarine of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German cruise liner that was supposed to ferry wartime personnel and refugees to safety from the advancing Red Army. The ship was overcrowded with more than 10,500 passengers — the intended capacity was approximately 1,800 — and more than 9,000 people, including 5,000 children, lost their lives.
Sepetys (writer of ‘Between Shades of Gray’) crafts four fictionalized but historically accurate voices to convey the real-life tragedy. Joana, a Lithuanian with nursing experience; Florian, a Prussian soldier fleeing the Nazis with stolen treasure; and Emilia, a Polish girl close to the end of her pregnancy, converge on their escape journeys as Russian troops advance; each will eventually meet Albert, a Nazi peon with delusions of grandeur, assigned to the Gustloff decks.
It is finally happening- I am going to read Salt to the Sea! It is part of my 12 Challenge, which I am so thrilled about because I am not sure when I would have prioritized it, despite thinking it is going to be five stars. I have not read a lot of YA historical fiction but I have heard incredible things about all of Ruta Sepetys work. I have a feeling Salt to the Sea is going to crush me and then I am going to want to read everything Ruta Sepetys has written. I predict that she will be one of my best author discoveries of 2022!
Fourteen years ago, Delphine abandoned her prestigious soloist spot at the Paris Opera Ballet for a new life in St. Petersburg––taking with her a secret that could upend the lives of her best friends, fellow dancers Lindsay and Margaux. Now 36 years old, Delphine has returned to her former home and to the legendary Palais Garnier Opera House, to choreograph the ballet that will kickstart the next phase of her career––and, she hopes, finally make things right with her former friends. But Delphine quickly discovers that things have changed while she’s been away…and some secrets can’t stay buried forever.
Moving between the trio’s adolescent years and the present day, The Ballerinas explores the complexities of female friendship, the dark drive towards physical perfection in the name of artistic expression, the double-edged sword of ambition and passion, and the sublimated rage that so many women hold inside––all culminating in a twist you won’t see coming, with magnetic characters you won’t soon forget.
The Ballerinas is the first book on this list that I am not as confident about, but my gut is still telling me I am going to love it. The reviews on Goodreads are extremely mixed, but readers who I would consider my book twins have loved it. I am always drawn to books about the dark side of ballet and I think that I am going into this one with the right expectations. I am so up for a slow-burn suspense novel following ballerinas!
Tuscany, 1944: As Allied troops advance and bombs fall around deserted villages, a young English soldier, Ulysses Temper, finds himself in the wine cellar of a deserted villa. There, he has a chance encounter with Evelyn Skinner, a middle-aged art historian who has come to Italy to salvage paintings from the ruins and recall long-forgotten memories of her own youth. In each other, Ulysses and Evelyn find a kindred spirit amongst the rubble of war-torn Italy, and set off on a course of events that will shape Ulysses’s life for the next four decades.
As Ulysses returns home to London, reimmersing himself in his crew at The Stoat and Parrot — a motley mix of pub crawlers and eccentrics — he carries his time in Italy with him. And when an unexpected inheritance brings him back to where it all began, Ulysses knows better than to tempt fate, and returns to the Tuscan hills.
With beautiful prose, extraordinary tenderness, and bursts of humor and light, Still Life is a sweeping portrait of unforgettable individuals who come together to make a family, and a richly drawn celebration of beauty and love in all its forms.
Sarah Winman wrote Tin Man, which is one of my favourite books of all time, so I think it is a pretty safe bet that Still Life will be a five-star read for me. Still Life sounds completely different from Tin Man, but it is Sarah Winman’s writing and characterization that I loved, so I think I will connect to anything she writes in whatever genre. Also, the cover alone is five-stars!
Love In the Time of Serial Killers
Turns out that reading nothing but true crime isn’t exactly conducive to modern dating—and one woman is going to have to learn how to give love a chance when she’s used to suspecting the worst.
PhD candidate Phoebe Walsh has always been obsessed with true crime. She’s even analyzing the genre in her dissertation—if she can manage to finish writing it. It’s hard to find the time while she spends the summer in Florida, cleaning out her childhood home, dealing with her obnoxiously good-natured younger brother, and grappling with the complicated feelings of mourning a father she hadn’t had a relationship with for years.
It doesn’t help that she’s low-key convinced that her new neighbor, Sam Dennings, is a serial killer (he may dress business casual by day, but at night he’s clearly up to something). But it’s not long before Phoebe realizes that Sam might be something much scarier—a genuinely nice guy who can pierce her armor to reach her vulnerable heart.
Love in the Time of Serial Killers does not come out until August and the anticipation is killing me! That title and the cover are everything! I love that it is a romance where the main character initially suspects that the love interest is a serial killer. There is so much potential in that premise and the early reviews have all given this book five-stars!
Logan Ramsay is about to get the brain he always dreamed of. But will he be transformed into something more than human…or something less? The mind-blowing new thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Dark Matter and Recursion
When the SWAT team gives the all-clear and Logan Ramsay steps into the basement, he has no idea that everything’s about to change.
Then there’s the hiss of aerosol. The explosion. The shrapnel that punctures his hazmat gear. Logan wakes up to find himself in a hospital bed, attended by doctors in their own hazmat suits, his wife and daughter looking on from behind the glass.
The doctors say he’s been infected by a virus–one designed not to make him sick, but to modify his very genetic structure. In a world where the next-generation gene-editing tool known as Scythe is widely available–and has already reaped disastrous consequences–the possibilities are too many and terrifying to count.
Except that after the fever, the pain, the fear…the virus is gone. And according to his government bosses, Logan’s got a clean bill of health.
But the truth is that with each day that passes, Logan’s getting smarter. Seeing things more clearly. He’s realizing that he’s been upgraded in ways that go beyond even Scythe’s capabilities–and that he’s been given these abilities for a reason.
Because a holy grail of genetic engineering–one that could change our very definitions of humanity–has just been unearthed. And now it’s up to him to stop it from falling into the wrong hands.
Logan’s becoming something more. Something better. Even with the whole world hunting for him, he might be able to outthink his opponents and win the war that’s coming.
But what if it’s at the cost of being himself?
Blake Crouch is one of the authors that got me into SciFi and it feels like I have been waiting for ages for a new book from him. Dark Matter and Recursion are two books I find myself recommendation often and it seems as though Upgrade has a similar vibe. The premise is out there but I trust Blake Crouch. I am so ready for a five-star SciFi with a bit of a mystery!
You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty
Feyi Adekola wants to learn how to be alive again.
It’s been five years since the accident that killed the love of her life and she’s almost a new person now—an artist with her own studio, and sharing a brownstone apartment with her ride-or-die best friend, Joy, who insists it’s time for Feyi to ease back into the dating scene. Feyi isn’t ready for anything serious, but a steamy encounter at a rooftop party cascades into a whirlwind summer she could have never imagined: a luxury trip to a tropical island, decadent meals in the glamorous home of a celebrity chef, and a major curator who wants to launch her art career.
She’s even started dating the perfect guy, but their new relationship might be sabotaged before it has a chance by the dangerous thrill Feyi feels every time she locks eyes with the one person in the house who is most definitely off-limits. This new life she asked for just got a lot more complicated, and Feyi must begin her search for real answers. Who is she ready to become? Can she release her past and honor her grief while still embracing her future? And, of course, there’s the biggest question of all—how far is she willing to go for a second chance at love?
I do not think that I have ever given one of Akwaeke Emezi’s books anything less than five stars, so I am pretty confident it will be the same for You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty. I love that Emezi is not afraid to explore a variety of genres and this is their first romance. I already know that I adore their writing and I think it will translate well for romance, especially since this book tackles grief and moving on after a loss. Emezi does emotions so well!
Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases
I order another bourbon, neat. This is the drink that will flip the switch. I don’t even know how I got here, to this place, to this point. Something is happening to me lately. I’m drinking too much. My sheets are soaking wet when I wake up from nightmares of decaying corpses. I order another drink and swig it, trying to forget about the latest case I can’t shake.
Crime-solving for me is more complex than the challenge of the hunt, or the process of piecing together a scientific puzzle. The thought of good people suffering drives me, for better or worse, to the point of obsession.
People always ask how I am able to detach from the horrors of my work. Part of it is an innate capacity to compartmentalize; the rest is experience and exposure, and I’ve had plenty of both. But I had always taken pride in the fact that I can keep my feelings locked up to get the job done. It’s only been recently that it feels like all that suppressed darkness is beginning to seep out.
When I look back at my long career, there is a lot I am proud of. I have caught some of the most notorious killers of the twenty-first century and brought justice and closure for their victims and families. I want to tell you about a lifetime solving these cold cases, from Laci Peterson to Jaycee Dugard to the Pittsburg homicides to, yes, my twenty-year-long hunt for the Golden State Killer.
But a deeper question eats at me as I ask myself, at what cost? I have sacrificed relationships, joy—even fatherhood—because the pursuit of evil always came first. Did I make the right choice? It’s something I grapple with every day. Yet as I stand in the spot where a young girl took her last breath, as I look into the eyes of her family, I know that, for me, there has never been a choice. “I don’t know if I can solve your case,” I whisper. “But I promise I will do my best.”
It is a promise I know I can keep.
Do I need to explain this one? Unmasked is a true crime/memoir from Paul Holes- the detective who found the Golden State Killer. I am cautious about the true crime that I do pick up, but I do tend to love them.
Acts of Violet
Nearly a decade ago, iconic magician Violet Volk performed her greatest trick yet: vanishing mid-act. Though she hasn’t been seen since, her hold on the public imagination is stronger than ever. While Violet sought out the spotlight, her sister Sasha always had to be the responsible one, taking over their mother’s hair salon and building a quiet life for her beloved daughter, Quinn. But Sasha can never seem to escape her sister’s orbit or her memories of their unresolved, tumultuous relationship. Then there’s Cameron Frank, tapped to host a podcast devoted to all things Violet, who is determined to finally get his big break–even if he promised to land an exclusive interview with Sasha, the one person who definitely doesn’t want to talk to him.
As the ten-year anniversary approaches, the podcast picks up steam, and Cameron’s pursuit of Sasha becomes increasingly intrusive. He isn’t the only one wondering what secrets she might be keeping: Quinn, loyal to the aunt she always idolized, is doing her own investigating. Meanwhile, Sasha begins to experience an unsettling series of sleepwalking episodes and coincidences, which all seem to lead back to Violet. Pushed to her emotional limits, Sasha must finally confront the most painful truths about her sister, and herself, even at the risk of losing everything.
Acts of Violet is a new book from Margarita Montimore, the author of Oona Out of Order, which is a book that really took me by surprise. Her new book has so many of my buzzwords- sisters, a podcast, and a mystery. Early reviews have been glowing as well!