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Did I Love My 5 Star Book Predictions?

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Hi everyone, in December last year I made
a video with my 5 star book predictions. Many people make these, where you sit
down and you talk about books you have on your TBR that you are adamant, that
you are sure, you were going to absolutely adore and I thought that once
I had read half of that list I would come back and make a reaction to that
video and talk to you about whether or not I did actually love those books,
whether I correctly guessed that I would love something based on a blurb and
maybe a small extract, because sometimes you get it right and sometimes you get
it wrong. At the beginning of that video I talked about two books that
I had been sure were going to be five-star reads for me, one was Cloud Atlas by
David Mitchell and one was English animals by Laura Kaye. English animals I
adored, I’ve spoken about it so many times on this channel I’ll link my
review down below. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell I dnf’d; I just I don’t know
what it is with me and that book. I love the film so much but I just couldn’t get
into the book at all. So I sat down, pulled some books off my shelves and now I’m
going to go through the ones that I have already read and then once I’ve read the
other books in that video that I haven’t got to yet I will sit down and make a
part 2 to this reaction video as well. So, let’s see what I said about the first
one that I have now read. ‘Next is a short story collection it’s called All the
Names they Used for God by Anjali’s Sachdeva. I’m not sure if this is out in the UK; I
had to purchase a US Edition and quite a few people in the US recommended this
to me saying that they think I would really like it. It says “spanning
centuries, continents and a diverse set of characters, these alluring strange
stories are united by each character struggle with fate.” So this seems to be
sci-fi, maybe a bit of magical realism and also looks of bodies and those are
three things that I really like particularly in short story collections.’
Okay, so this is the one that I’ve read most recently and it is what I thought
it was going to be, however it’s not a 5-star read for me. I still did very much
enjoy it; I think it’s actually very hard to get a five-star short story
collection because the tones of the stories, the subject matter, the
characters, they’re all so varied so you probably going to be drawn to some more
than others and that was definitely the case with this one. When I first
started reading it, I thought it was going to be my favorite short story
collection of all the time but unfortunately my favorite short story
was the first one in the collection and there were several particularly in the
middle that I just didn’t really gel with at all and several that I have
forgotten even though I only read it probably about two weeks ago. I do
recommend checking out the collection if those themes appeal to you, especially if
you like things like Black Mirror; if you liked Alexander Weinstein’s Children of
the New World I think that you’ll also love this collection. I think it’s worth
it just for the first story on its own which is about a woman who has albinism
and she goes exploring in caves and that become her ground that she can
claim. There are elements throughout the whole book that are
beautiful but I think that first short story is definitely the best. Let’s see
what’s next. “Now we have a novel that’s coming out next year it’s The Dreamers
by Karen Thompson Walker. I’m sure this is going to be… no [laughs] I’m not
sure, I *hope* this is a book I will adore because I love at The Age of Miracles
which was her debut novel about The Slowing; I’ve spoken about it in other
videos. This is The Dreamers about a society where girls start falling asleep
and no one can wake them up and what I love about her is the way she writes
about disasters but she focuses on the small elements of the disasters:
individual reactions and how one family copes with a situation instead of doing
epic world-building where you can feel quite an emotional detachment. So I’m
hoping that this will be similar to The Age of Miracles.”
That’s really
interesting, so I said in the five star prediction video that I hoped that in The
Dreamers she would create the same tone as she did in The Age of Miracles which
is focusing on one person or one family so that you feel an emotional connection
in a situation that is so different to our own. That’s not what she
did at all in The Dreamers; she did the opposite, so she did create that
emotional detachment that I mentioned other writers do but she did it
deliberately. In this novel people are in this village
are falling asleep, no one knows why, the hospitals are completely overrun
and have been shut down, all public spaces are taken up with people who are
asleep and it’s a struggle to keep nutrients
going into these people so that they don’t die. Instead of focusing on one
person or one family Karen Thompson Walker jumps from person to person and
really quickly, as well, which creates a sense of panic and it also creates a
sense of emotional detachment which reflects I think how people feel in a
disaster; sure, we have all of that adrenaline and in the immediate
situation will cope with things because we’re on high alert, but when that
continues for so long and you keep on seeing horrible things happening as a
means of self-preservation you become emotionally numb, day after day, because
otherwise you wouldn’t be able to function. I think that the novel had the
effect on the reader that the author wanted it’s just not my favorite kind of
book. I found myself feeling extremely anxious when I was reading it, which is
the point’ it’s supposed to make you feel like that, but also once I finished reading
it, because it was all in such a rush, because there was so many different
elements to it, even though the reading experience itself was very intense it
faded very quickly, it didn’t have a lasting impact on me in the same way
that The Age of Miracles did, so for that reason I don’t think that this book was
a five star but I still would recommend it. I also reviewed it and I’ll leave a
link to that article in the description box down below if you would like to go
and read it. Let’s see the next one that I read. “Then we have No Other World by
Rahul Meta, a book so good by my expectations that I bought it twice! [laughs] I
bought it in hardback and then I bought it in paperback,
they had different blurbs and different covers so I thought they were different
books. They’re not. I gave the hardcover to Jean I’ve kept the
paperback for myself. This is about Kiran Shah, he and his family have moved
from India to America, he is gay and he falls in love with one of his neighbours.
It says ‘as he leaves his childhood behind, Kiran finds himself perpetually
on the outside as an Indian American torn between two cultures and is a gay
man living in homophobic society, so he goes back to
India where he forms an intense bond with a teenage hera, a member of
India’s ancient transgender community with her help Kiran begins to pull
together the pieces of his broken past.’ I am hoping that this will be like A
Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza, showing that clash of culture and also
intense family bonds and disputes and arguments and yeah I’m very excited
about that.” This is actually a book that I DNF’d and
I’m still sad about it and frustrated because I had so many high hopes for it.
When I started reading it I even thought “my goodness, this could be one of my
favorite books of the year!” We open with Chris who is Kiran Shah’s neighbour. Kiran has been looking through their window at Chris and his wife, so Chris
goes through to Kiran’s dad and says ‘look, your son’s doing this you need to
get him to stop.’ Kiran’s dad seems to be a very calm, collected person and he
listens to what Chris has to say and then he suddenly starts swearing at him.
This is really jarring because it’s not what we’ve come to expect from this
character, from the small amount we’ve seen from this character. Then we dive
into the past and we see events that have happened previously which may have
caused Kiran’s dad to act in this way, so there are lots of layers, lots of things
going on but because it jumped in time all the time and between characters I
didn’t feel as though I really got to grips with who these characters were in
a way that made me emotionally care about them when things happened to them,
and because that bridge had never been made I just read it thinking “I know you
want me to feel things” and I could see that that was the intent, that I should be
feeling things at certain points but I just didn’t and that was not what
happened in the book that I referenced in the 5 star predictions video — A Place for
Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza, a book that does jump from year to year and from character to
character but those jumps are seamless and also it’s much slower so you feel as
though you really know all of the characters and you don’t feel lost at
any point. I’m sad about [No Other World] because I had high hopes for it.
“Then we
have Lanny by Max Porter, which I don’t know
much about except that max told me it was fableesque, he is the author of
Grief is The Thing with Feathers which I adored so much, this is coming out in
March I think …I think it’s March… yeah 7th of March, so I’ll be reading it
before then, early in the new year.” I mean, I think by this point that we all
know that I love Lanny with all of my heart, it’s my favourite book of this year
so far, I think it is absolutely brilliant, I’ll link my review in the
description box down below I don’t think I’ll talk about it more here but just
please go read it if you haven’t read it already because it’s stunning.
“A book I’ll be reading in January is Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman which
is translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori. I have heard so many
amazing things about this, it’s a very short book about a woman who works in a
convenience store and that’s all I’ve heard about it but everyone who has read
it said that it’s an amazing character study so I’m looking forward to getting
to that.” Convenience Store Woman was a book that I absolutely loved. If I’m
being picky it’s probably not five stars, probably more four or four point five
but I still loved it, would still highly recommend it. This is one I did get right,
which I’m very glad about, so I’ll link my review in the description box down
below it’s about a woman called Keiko who works in a convenience store and she
feels as though at the handbook that she has been given which tells her how to
communicate with customers is a really great handbook and tool for her and her
daily life because she doesn’t feel as though she understands humans that well.
It’s illuminating, it’s funny, it’s dark it’s got lots of different flavours
to it and I really really appreciated it. Those are all of the books that I’ve
read it from the list so far, I still have eight to read so when I’ve read the
other eight I’ll come back and make a part two. It’s interesting looking back
on these because there are a couple that I liked but didn’t love as much as I
thought I would, there are a couple that I adored — Convenience Store Woman and Lanny —
and then there was one, No Other World by Rahul Mehta, which
was just not for me in the end at all. I would love to know in the comments
section what books you hoped you would love in recent
times and whether or not you did end up loving them or whether they just weren’t
what you hoped. All of the books that I’ve mentioned today will be linked in
the description box if you would like to go and find out more. I hope you’re all
having a great week and I’ll speak to very soon. Lots of love, bye! x

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24 thoughts on “Did I Love My 5 Star Book Predictions?”

  1. Paul Winchell says:

    Very cool Jen going flashback review.

  2. Jacqueline McMenamin says:

    The books I've loved since beginning of July
    The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay
    Frankisstein by Janette Winterson
    Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
    Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
    Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
    Unless by Carol Shields
    The books that have disappointed me/ DNFd
    An American Marriage ( awful)
    Saltwater ( boring)

  3. Charles Heathcote says:

    Alas, I've had a run of disappointing reads, the most recent being A Wonderful Stroke of Luck by Ann Beattie. I'm seeking out fantastic books, should you have any you think would be worth my time. (I know I've previously mention that I've read and adored Lanny. Maybe that's the thing that's upset my reading – I read Lanny and nothing has reached such heights since. I don't know, your comments section is not the place for me to question my reading habits.) Hope you're having a superbly splendiferous week.

  4. Mary Rose says:

    I love these sorts of follow up videos! I also really enjoyed Convenience Store Woman, I think it definitely deserved the hype. Looking forward to part 2!

  5. rimbluebooks says:

    I always wanted to read "grief is the thing with feathers" but I don't know what to expect.

  6. Theresa says:

    I recently read " The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield after hearing so much praise about it on Booktube, and I really enjoyed it. Currently, I'm reading "The Remains of the Day" by Kazuo Ishiguro, and I'm quite surprised that I find myself struggling to finish it. I usually love his books, but for some reason, I just can't seem to dive into the story… I remember that you were quite excited about "The Doll Factory". Have you read it yet?
    Have a nice week!

  7. Just Juan Reader says:

    Cloud Atlas the movie is wonderful….book was just awful, I couldn’t stand it. Still, I enjoyed The Bone Clocks and want to read Jacob de Zoet

  8. SavidgeReads says:

    Ooh I really enjoyed this. It’s so interesting to see expectations/hopes and then the reactions and thoughts afterwards. I need to read Lanny pronto. I did a five star predictions autumn/winter of 2017 I think and can’t even remember what they were. Whoops. Once I’m back in the land of the living and not the living dead maybe I should do a catch up. I wish I could do those video in videos.

  9. Peeta Mellark says:

    How you can watch the movie first, I would never do that.
    Good video!
    Keep it up!

  10. Miss Autumn says:

    The Power by Naomi Alderman was a book I thought I would love. It took me over a month to read and it's only just under 350 pages (a book that size takes me about a week). I like the concept but it wasn't really executed properly. The characters were under developed and the time scale of change within societies (going from a patriarchy to a matriarchy) wasn't really that believable for me.

    I like seeing your thoughts on what you thought would be 5 stars books. I really need to read The Convenience Store Woman. I have yet to hear/see a bad review of it.

  11. Nola A says:

    Enjoyed this vid. Haven't read any of these books, will look into a few.

  12. Anthony Clements says:

    I didn't think I would enjoy the doctor at large but the writer made me envision everything that was happening. Also didn't expect there to be any humor the ending is brilliant

  13. Rachel's Reading Corner says:

    I'm half way through Lanny at the minute and I'm loving it so much! Max Porter is one of the only writers who I will buy every book by no matter whether the blurb sounds good or not, I just know it will be great anyway. Convenience Store Woman was a really fascinating book, I loved how it related people's expectations and the pressures they put on others. Great video 🙂

  14. Anne-Marie says:

    I thought I would love Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot but only gave it 3 stars (so I still enjoyed it!) but I did accurately predict that I would love The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (absolutely amazing and 5 stars).

  15. Anna Goldberg says:

    I adored "Convenience Store Woman" as well, though I didn't know anything about it before picking it up on a whim, so I couldn't have predicted it as a five-star book. It was wonderful.

  16. Dawn Bish says:

    I’m reading Convenience Store Woman now and loving it. I think that the main character has high functioning autism and that is the reason why she does so well with a manual of how to interact with people.

  17. Freddy Lowe says:

    Hi Jen!
    I remember your Favourite Film Adaptations video from years ago, where you talked about Cloud Atlas.
    “…I’m going to love that book, right?”

    Goes to show how unpredictable books are! 🙂
    (As well as life generally…)

  18. Samantha Moyes says:

    Call Me By Your Name was a book I thought I would love, yet I was really disappointed with it. A surprising book for me this year was Severance by Ling Ma.

  19. MyPurestEndeavor says:

    Such a great video!

  20. k bal says:

    Loved Cloud Atlas but I can understand why someone would DNF it. There is just so much detail, more than the film. Also each different story-line is told in a different sort of genre. If some of the stories don't appeal, maybe try one of the other story-lines. I can't remember if the stories are told in segments? Could also try just following a storyline to the end and then start on another? It was definitely a 5 star read for me. Loved the film too.

  21. Michael Dornan says:

    Lanny and The Convenience Story Woman are both stunning! Totally agree!

  22. Natalie says:

    Hi Jen , I love your channel! I have a recommendation – Tony's Chocolonely – not sure whether you've tried it but maybe it could be a Sept favourite if you like it 🦄

  23. Drinking By My Shelf says:

    Agree with everything you said about The Dreamers. It hasn’t stuck with me but I did really enjoy it at the time!

  24. Stephanie Eaves says:

    I bought Convenience Store Woman and am waiting for it to come and I am so happy to hear you loved it!!

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