Ten Recent Five Star Reads

Top Ten Tuesday: Recent Five Star Reads

Ten Most Recent Five Star Reads:

1. Morning Star (Red Rising #3) | Pierce Brown
2. Hawkeye Vol. 4: Rio Bravo | Matt Fraction
3. The Girl With Ghost Eyes | M.H. Boroson (My review)
4. A Silent Voice (#1) | Yoshitoki Ooima (My review)
5. Station Eleven | Emily St. John Mandel
6. I Kill Giants | Joe Kelly
7. Hounded (Iron Druid #1) | Kevin Hearne
8. Gotham Central Vol. 2: Jokers and Madmen | Ed Brubaker
9. Rat Queens Vol. 2 | Kurtis J. Wiebe
10. Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) | James S.A. Corey (My review)

What a five star read means for me:
* I will recommend it often, and not just within a reader’s comfort zone.
* Weaknesses are nitpicks rather than major flaws.
* Something in the writing stands out above average, whether characterization, plotting, prose, or a challenging structure.
* For graphic novels, it must achieve that level of quality in both story AND technique.
* My ratings can change over time as I read wider in a subgenre, my technical understanding progresses, or the emotional reaction fades.

What does a five star rating mean for you?

My stats:
To get my 10 most recent five star reads, I went back 59 reads, through mid July 2015. I awarded five stars 17% of the time, and my highest ratings were split equally between books and graphic novels.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is 10 most recent five star reads.


Leviathan Wakes Review

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. CoreyLeviathan Wakes (2011)
Expanse #1
by James S.A. Corey

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from Saturn’s rings to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew find a derelict ship, they find a secret they never wanted. Someone is willing to kill to cover up the truth, and war is brewing.

Detective Miller is looking for a missing girl. When the trail leads to Holden’s mystery ship, he realizes the girl may be the key to everything. Holden and Miller must thread the needle between Earth’s government, Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations. The odds are against them, but one small ship could change the fate of the universe.

Pin for laterAdd Leviathan Wakes to Goodreads or see more reviewsMy result: Highly Recommended
5 Stars - Highly Recommended

Book Review

Leviathan Wakes is the perfect blend of science fiction, mystery, and horror. It starts out noir in a world of teeming spaceports and isolated outposts, then takes a turn into Lovecraftian horror as the plot races forward. The mystery delivers an obsessed detective on the trail of the case he can’t forget, and enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. The horror elements come late, but are chilling enough to satisfy.

Holden and Miller are viewpoint characters with polar opposite beliefs and conflicting morals. Their actions spring naturally from what they believe, and drive the plot. Rarely have I seen differing beliefs shown so clearly, with neither side cast as fully right or wrong.

If you love cross-genre reads or complex characters in conflict, you’ll love Leviathan Wakes. (And if you like to read the book before the TV show, The Expanse is coming to SyFy this December. Here’s hoping they get the balance right.)

Recommended for:
* Science fiction fans with a love of cross-genre elements
* Mystery or horror fans looking for something different
* Well-developed characters with complex moral beliefs

If you like Leviathan Wakes, check out these book recommendations!

The Wrath and the Dawn Review

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee AhdiehThe Wrath and the Dawn
by Renee Ahdieh (2015)

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings death. Each night Khalid takes a new bride only to have her strangled come morning. When Shahrzad’s friend falls victim, she volunteers to be his next bride. She vows to end the reign of terror once and for all.

Each night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid with stories to survive another night. But incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself beginning to fall for Khalid. All is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. Can love survive in this world of stories and secrets?

Pin for laterAdd to Goodreads or see more reviewsMy result: Highly Recommended
5 Stars - Highly Recommended

Book Review

The Wrath and the Dawn is a lushly written retelling of the Arabian Nights. Rich language and silver-edged dialogue live up to the premise, while the romance provides something new. By fleshing out the world and characters of Arabian Nights, Ahdieh accomplishes something special: a hate to love romance that actually makes sense.

The slow-burn, complicated romance made this story for me (which is rare). Highlight, for minor spoilers:

There’s none of that hate is just the other side of love nonsense. Instead, they get to know each other, and find that many of their reasons for hatred aren’t quite true. As they learn more about each other, they find reasons for love. But that still doesn’t forgive the things that they have done.

With dark magicks and deadly curses, The Wrath and the Dawn satisfies as a fantasy too. The world building, though based on our own history, is elaborate and well-developed. Rich details and beautiful prose paint a landscape that’s a pleasure to sink into as you read.

Recommended as:
* Beautifully-written retelling of Arabian Nights
* Swoon-worthy slow-burning romance
* Diverse read from non-Western culture

If you like The Wrath and the Dawn, check out these book recommendations!

The Wicked + The Divine – Graphic Novel Review

Book Review of The Wicked + The Divine, Volume 1: The Faust ActYou will love The Wicked + The Divine for its:
* Stunning, colorful artwork
* Eternal themes and modern context
* A story that’s as fun as it is thought-provoking

The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act
By Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (2014)     Add to Goodreads or see more reviews
Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. This is a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever.5 Stars - Highly Recommended
My result: Highly Recommended

Read the full review!

Finn Fancy Necromancy – Review

Finn Fancy Necromancy by Randy Henderson

Finn Fancy Necromancy will make you laugh, with:
* oddball humor and a wise-cracking sarcastic narrator
* a world of deadly gnomes and assassin sasquatches
* 80s pop culture nostalgia in a quirky urban fantasy

Finn Fancy Necromancy by Randy Henderson (February 2015)     Add to Goodreads or see more reviews
Finn Gramaraye was framed for the crime of dark necromancy in 1986 and exiled to the Other Realm. Twenty five years later, he’s free, but someone’s trying to get him sent back. He has only a few days to prove his innocence. 5 Stars - Highly recommended
My result: Highly recommended

Read the full review!

Golden Son (Red Rising #2) – Review

Golden Son by Pierce Brown, Red Rising #2

Book 2 of the Red Rising Trilogy

Golden Son is a powerhouse sequel to an already stellar debut. It delivers fast action and epic interplanetary war. Darrow is larger than life, but still as complex and layered as ever.

I gave book one, Red Rising, an enthusiastic 5 stars, and chose it as one of my top picks for 2014. Golden Son tops that, and makes me wish I used a five stars PLUS rating.

My result: Highly Recommended
5 Stars - Highly recommended
Read the full review!

Through the Woods – Graphic Novel Review

Book Cover: Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

You will love Through the Woods if:

  • You’re in the mood for something scary and unexpected.
  • You like your fairy tales dark and unsettling, in the Grimm tradition.
  • You want illustrations to perfectly suit the tone and content of the story.

But if you want to sleep soundly tonight, beware. Through the Woods will lurk in the corner shadows and slink into your dreams.

My result: Highly Recommended
5 Stars - Highly recommended
Read the full review!