Top Ten Tuesday: 5 Stars or Not?

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. The topic today is a completely open freebie. Back in February of 2020, there was a TTT topic that I participated in titled “Books On My TBR I Predict Will Be 5-Star Reads.” Every single one of the books on my list that Tuesday I have since read, save one. For today’s post, I thought it would be fun to see how my predictions and hopes turned out. With each entry, I’ve included my original thoughts on the book back in February 2020, before I’d read it, and then the update.

1. Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

I read Anne of Green Gables for the first time a few months ago and loved it. It was one of the 5-star reads I mentioned above. I plan to read the 2nd book in the series this month, and while some of what made me love the first book will likely be downplayed in the 2nd one (because Anne isn’t a kid anymore), I still anticipate loving it!

Sadly, this did not turn out as great as I’d hoped. I gave it 3.5 stars, and that’s largely due to the loss of Anne as a child. See my review here.

2. North! or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson

This is also book #2 in a series, and I loved book #1 (On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness). The first book was mostly the story of how this family went from a normal family in an oppressed land to finding out that they were so much more than normal. The 2nd book will build on that and start the real saga, and I’m looking forward to it!

This was an accurate prediction! I loved the 2nd book in the series, and went on to love the rest just as much. This book series has become a huge deal in my family! See my review here.

3. The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin

I read the 3rd book in this series recently and loved it so much that I knew I needed to read the rest of the series. Normally I don’t like to read out of order, but when I requested the 3rd book on NetGalley, I thought the series was basically stand-alones. However, I realized while reading it that the three books in the series are all about 3 brothers. Though I’ve read a few spoilers of the first 2 books now, it’s not much more than what I would know just from the fact that they’re in the romance genre.

I wasn’t too far off on this one. I gave this book 4 stars, and the 2nd book in the series, the final one for me to read, 5 stars like the 1st one I read (which was 3rd in the series). Overall, it was a great series that I look forward to re-reading someday (in order). See my review here.

4. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

I have watched the BBC mini-series several times. I love it so much. I’ve heard from others who felt that Mr. Thornton (the male lead) has a lot more depth in the book, and I already really like his character. So I’m looking forward to reading it!

Another accurate prediction! Technically, I gave it 4.5 stars, but that’s close enough for me. See my review here.

5. Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman

I was invited to be part of a blog tour for this book, which comes out in June. This is a first for me, and I’m really hoping to be able to give it a good review as part of the blog tour.

Here’s where my predictions turned into hopes–less certainty that I’d like it, and more the hope I would for one reason or another, like being part of a blog tour for this book. Unfortunately, this one didn’t turn out so well. I gave it 3.5 stars. See my review here.

6. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

My sister extolled the virtues of this book all through the holidays. She actually recommended several books to me during that time, but she seemed the most sure that I’d like this one. I really hope I love it!

I am happy to report that I did love this book! It earned all of its 5 stars, and I was quite relieved that I so enjoyed a book my sister highly recommended. See my review here.

7.  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

This is another book that my sister recommended, but it’s actually on this list because of the fact that, based on her recommendation, I picked up a copy for cheap at Half-Price Books. And even more than that, I later bought book #2 in the series also at a bargain price. It would be particularly disappointing to not like the first book.

I only read this book earlier this month, and was really caught up in it! I gave it 4.5 stars and am so happy that I already bought the follow-up book at a bargain price. See my review here.

8. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I’ve never read any Tolkien, and it never used to bother me. But after the LotR movies came out, I found myself wishing I was a fan. I have good reason to believe that I would have a difficult time getting through those books, though, and I don’t really want to deal with that. But with this book being for a younger audience, I thought it might be a good way to start. If I still struggle with it, my sister mentioned that listening to the audiobook helped her to push through the LotR books, and while I’m not normally one for audiobooks, I can see the merit in this case.

I did read this book, rather than listening to the audiobook, and gave it 5 stars in the end. I did, however, listen to the LoTR books and have gotten into audiobooks more in general since February of last year. See my review here.

9. Redeeming Grace: Ruth’s Story by Jill Eileen Smith

I don’t know if other people have a favorite book in the Bible, but mine is Ruth. I have always found the romance in the story of Ruth and Boaz. I watched a movie based on the book once, but it was pretty bad (even though I like the guy that played Boaz as a musician, his performance was terribly stilted). So when I came across this book, I knew I had to read it. And if it doesn’t live up to my idea of the story…maybe I should just write my own version!

I literally just finished this book last night, which was perfect, since it was the only book on the list I hadn’t either read or passed on (see #10). And though I haven’t written the review yet or settled 100% on a rating, it will likely be either 3 or 3.5, sadly. Part of that is because of my own ridiculously high standards regarding this story, but I think there were some other issues too.

10. This Present Darkness by Frank E. Peretti

This entry is quite different from the others. I’ve read this book before, but it’s been at least 15 years. I remember loving it, and gave it 5 stars on Goodreads when I first signed up in 2015. I want to re-read this soon and see if it lives up to my memory of it.

I started reading this several months ago, then stopped. I only got a few pages into the story before remembering how long and drama-filled it is, and realizing that I just don’t want to put the time into it. Then I considered listening to the audiobook, but was disappointed when I didn’t have easy access to the version read by the author (I love hearing him read his own work). I may still come back to it for a re-read of a book I read many times in my younger days, but I have a feeling now that it won’t turn out to be 5 stars.

Have you read any of these books? Were any 5-star reads for you?

24 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: 5 Stars or Not?

  1. This Present Darkness is a five star read for me. I read it as a child and love to re-visit occasionally. I recommended it to my best friend, but her experience was similar to yours. She just wasn’t able to get into it. I also enjoyed North and South, but I think i actually prefer the mini-series even more than the book. Have you read Fields of Grace by Tessa Afshar? It’s a pretty well done telling of Ruth. If you would like one that is updated to a more modern time I also recommend Shadow Among Sheaves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I read This Present Darkness and its sequel multiple times as a teenager, so obviously I liked it. I really don’t know why, exactly, I stopped myself when I started reading it recently. Peretti’s long been my favorite author, so it’s kind of a strange situation.

      I watched the North and South miniseries several times before ever reading the book, and will always like it more than the book too. The music alone makes it worth watching over and over.

      I will check out both of those books you suggested about Ruth. Though I’ll probably wait a bit to get over the disappointment of this one. I have a feeling I’ll always be picky about that particular biblical account, but who knows. Maybe I’ll find a fictionalized version I love if I don’t give up. Thank you so much for your comments!!


  2. My personal favourite of the Anne books is actually book 3, Anne of the Island. I think it just depends on what part of Anne’s life we connected with that makes it enjoyable. I will note I read book 3 while I was not even a teenager yet and I still loved seeing college age Anne.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s really interesting, because I’m pretty sure that #3 was my least favorite of the whole series. But I’d never read them before recently, and I’m an adult with older kids of my own. The very first was my favorite, I think just because Anne herself won me over like she did the other characters, but the other one I like the most is later in the series, when she’s married, and I think that’s like what you’re saying, a part of her life I connected more with at the time I first read it.


    • I haven’t watched the movie yet. The trailer makes me worried about how it’s going to be. I didn’t mind the epistolary format, but I think I’m the kind of person it works for better than it might for others, liking the quick read with less description that the format provided.


  3. What a fun topic! I love it. I’ve been listening to the Anne books on audio this year. I’ve read the first one numerous times and adored it every time. I agree that ANNE OF AVONLEA isn’t quite as good, mostly because Anne is growing up and not getting into all the scrapes she does as a child. I’m on ANNE OF THE ISLAND now and it’s mostly about Anne’s romance with Gilbert. Definitely not as charming as the other books. I’m still enjoying the characters and the setting, though.

    Happy TTT!


    Liked by 1 person

    • A book series where the main character starts out as a precocious child and then ages to an adult definitely makes sense to give people vastly different feelings as they read through the series. It’s a little sad, because I really did love the first one, but it just wasn’t the same when she matured. I’ve read 6 out of the 9 (I think?) and don’t plan to read any more.


  4. It seems like most of your predictions came true. That’s pretty good odds. I, too, really liked The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m pretty happy with how it turned out! Both of those books you mentioned are ones I read because of my sister’s recommendation, interestingly enough, and I agree, they were good books!


  5. I like that you went back and noted which ones you guessed would be 5-stars! I always forget to actually see if what I predicted is accurate.

    Even though I loved reading all of the Anne books, I can totally see how the other ones aren’t as memorable as Green Gables because Anne isn’t a child. I felt the same as a kid when I read the Little House books and Laura grew up. But now that I’m older I appreciate those books and the later Anne books more XD

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was completely random that I happened to be reminded of my original prediction post right before a freebie week came up, and even more so that I’d just finished reading the last of the books on the list!

      I suppose in a way it’s like the difference between watching a TV show as a kid, where the characters are around your age, and you grow up with them, versus a kid now watching that same show that is all online, and the kids in the show grow up faster than the kid watching. Those who read these books closer to when they were written might have grown up along with Anne. But it mostly just makes me sad, lol.

      Liked by 1 person

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