Top 5 Tuesday: Reasons I Rate a Book 5 Stars

Top 5 Tuesday is created and run by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm. You can join the fun by checking out the topics for the month here.

Hi everyone,

This week I’m coming to you from:

  • The middle of a work conference…
  • Which I was forced to go to during the middle of manuscript deadline hell….
  • And where there is a strict “no exceptions” to the evening social rule…
  • So if we want to get any of our work done (because of course the deadline doesn’t change even if you pull us out of the office for a week!!), we have to stay up until the early hours to do so….

So life is great right now. So great.

Okay rant over. Let’s get onto to celebrating why I rate books 5 stars! You know, I’ve never actually considered what makes me rate 5 stars in huge detail, outside of thinking about the one specific book I’m reviewing. I’m not even sure if there are recurring elements – I think to rate 5 stars, pretty much every part of the book needs to be incredible right? So I decided to go through all my 5 star reads of 2019, and go down a very statistical direction to identify the common themes and elements between those books. This is what I got.

It’s gay

Yup. No surprises here. If a book has LGBTQIA+ characters, I am on the squee express and will love that book. For some stats, 71% of my 2019 five star reads were queer! And that makes me so happy. I love reading books about people like me, so it is no surprise that most of my 5 star reads are loudly, proudly queer. Bring on the 2020 gays.

My 5 star examples:

A morally grey protagonist/villain

Give me our morally grey protagonists and villains. I love characters that do bad things for good reasons. I love when authors play with the idea of good and evil, when I don’t know who I’m supposed to be supporting, when there’s no clear idea of who is good and who is evil. God I love it so much. Give me morally grey every day.

My 5 star examples:

Excellent mental health rep

Much like queer books, seeing characters cope with mental health, in both real life-settings or fantasy worlds, just makes my heart hurt because I’m seeing people like me. It can be hopeful, which for obvious reasons, is fantastic to read as way of finding hope myself. But even if it is hopeless, it makes you feel seen and understood as a reader, and for a second, you can feel less alone because there’s someone out there who feels like you do.

My 5 star examples:

Nails the ending

So many of my 4 star books last year were fantastic….until the ending. Nailing the ending is such a difficult part of writing, and it has such an impact on my ultimate enjoyment of the book. I want an ending that is as brutually emotional as every page before it has been. I want knowledge and understanding of what’s happened. I don’t need all the ends tied up, but I want to feel something on the last pages. You can shock me, hurt me, thrill me. But the ending should make me feel something.

My 5 star examples:

Breaks my heart

So almost 50% of my 5 star reads of 2019 broke my heart. I don’t necessarily mean they made me cry – I’m a difficult reader to make actually cry, though I do tear up a lot. I like books that make me have a visceral emotional reaction, and let’s be honest, that kind of reaction usually comes when a book is stabbing you in the heart and ripping you open. I want to feel my chest physically hurt because I can’t believe what’s happening on the page. I need to be so emotionally invested in the characters, that what happens to them hurts me as much as possible. That’s definitely worth 5 stars.

My 5 star examples:

So to conclude, basically I want a queer, depressed, murder muffin to make me cry. Which does actually sum up several of the books I’m very excited for this year, so I clearly definitely have a 5 Star Type.

8 thoughts on “Top 5 Tuesday: Reasons I Rate a Book 5 Stars

  1. Okay, so this is the best post ever. Thank you so much for that. Couple things: First, have you read TJ Klune? Because, if not, methinks you’d be a fan. He has two books coming out this year with Tor. Second, for morally grey characters, maybe check out Vicious by Victoria Schwab? Definitely morally grey.

    Also, i love books that break my heart, but it has to come at me as a surprise. If I know it’s a book that will break my heart it’s really hard to get me to pick it up. There’s something inside me that runs from pain, lol. This is the reason why, even though I own it, I have yet to read The Song of Achilles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahhh I actually just read my first TJ Klune over my December holiday – I ADORED Wolfsong – and I’m about half way through Ravensong currently! I cannot wait for his books this year, they both sound awesome!

      Vicious has been on my list for so long now, and I just haven’t got around to buying it yet! I keep trying to find this specific cover and then totally forgetting about it :S

      Oooh that’s so interesting – I think I like both books that surprise break me and that I know coming. I’m one of those people who really love that sense of like knowing everything, and sometimes I feel like knowing what happens breaks my heart even more because I just keep waiting for The Thing to happen (which is what happened to me with Song of Achilles!)


      • I’m TERRIFIED of that book. I struggle with angst, and I can’t read something I know ends in tragedy (if it’s romance, lol.) I like happy endings.

        You should try How to be a Normal Person next. It’s my all time favorite book by TJ Klune. It’s also his favorite book he’s written. Definitely A+ read.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope the work conference will be worth it! And a book being gay is not so important to me even if my top favorites of last year were gay or trans or … Come to think of it, it’s because they made me feel and opened my eyes LOL That being said, I do find myself in all your other reasons!

    Liked by 1 person

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