2020 5-Star Predictions Wrap-Up (Part 1)

One of my favourite new experiments that I tried last year was making 5-star predictions, and I was really looking forward to doing it again this year. I’ve become pretty good at predicting which books I’m going to enjoy, which I think is a side effect of doing so many years of reading challenges by now. This year, I decided to go for a 2020 theme and pick 20 books that I expected to give 5 stars! Since I had 5 challenges, I gave myself the structure of choosing 4 books per challenge for a total of 20. In fact, I actually had a few additional 5-star predictions that were part of a Top 10 Tuesday topic earlier this year. I was not planning on a formal wrap-up for those, but I’m definitely open to doing one if people are interested. Unfortunately, just like last year, I didn’t end up getting to all of the books that I’d planned, and I’ve decided to shift those that I didn’t get to into next year’s challenges instead. Since I know I’m unlikely to read any of the rest of the list in the last few days of this month, this seemed like the perfect time for this wrap-up. Given the number of books I had to separate my initial predictions into two posts (here and here), and will be doing the same for the wrap-up as well. Please check back tomorrow for Part 2!

Goodreads Around the Year Challenge

1) Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

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Prediction: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo was easily one of my favourite books that I read last year, and I was really looking forward to reading more of her books. Both this book and With the Fire On High (which made it to my list of extra 5-star predictions) were high on my list to read this year, and I was sure I would love both.

What I Actually Rated It: 5 Stars!

Why It Was/Was Not 5 Stars: I absolutely loved the concept of this book, which was about two sisters who discover that their father was living a double-life after he dies in a plane crash. I loved how Elizabeth Acevedo captured the complexity of both sisters’ feelings for their father, and especially how they could both love and grieve him while also being very angry. Similarly, I also loved the recognition that he could be a good father to them both, while also being a bad husband. I’m not usually that interested in novels told in verse, but I thought the medium was very effective in this case for capturing both girls’ perspectives and I loved the way the author drew parallels between both sisters’ lives, despite their very different circumstances. I thought this book was beautifully written, and captured such a complex topic so well.

2) Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok


Prediction: I read Girl In Translation a few years ago and I loved it a lot more than I expected, so I was looking forward to reading something else by this author. The premise also reminded me quite strongly of Everything I Never Told You, which was another book that I really loved, so it sounded like exactly the kind of book that I would love.

What I Actually Rated It: 4 Stars

Why It Was/Was Not 5 Stars: Even though I enjoyed this one overall, I couldn’t help feeling like it was one of my biggest disappointments of the year. I’d expected it to be a very easy 5 stars, but I found myself very put off by the characters. I loved the first third or so of the book as the story was initially set up, but got thrown off relatively early on by a certain romance plotline. I don’t want to say too much since it might be too spoiler-y, but I’d picked up on some romantic subtext between two characters that I’d hoped I’d either misinterpreted or that it would at least be a minor subplot since it was quite uncomfortable to read. Unfortunately, that aspect took on a much more significant role in the story than I thought, and I just couldn’t get into it. I found both main characters very frustrating toward the middle, but luckily it picked back up again toward the end. I just couldn’t get past my irritation with the characters enough to really get into the story as much as I expected.

3) Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

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Prediction: I saw this book in passing at a bookstore in 2019 and knew right away that I wanted to read it. It was one of the first books I added to my challenge plans this year. I assumed I would like it because it reminded me of Big Little Lies, which is a definite favourite, and I’ve also been looking for more books that have an office setting.

What I Actually Rated It: 5 Stars!

Why It Was/Was Not 5 Stars: There is definitely a strong resemblance to Big Little Lies, both in terms of the format and the style, and I mean that in a very good way. I loved how the author handled the complex topic of sexual harassment, and especially how she incorporated the discussion of the impact unsubstantiated accusations can have for men and for the women who made the claim. I especially loved the Greek chorus style of narration that opened many chapters, and thought there were so many impactful quotes throughout. I also loved the focus on the women supporting and helping each other, as well as the exploration of how each of them had a different relationship with the man in question. I was a bit disappointed that the mystery/thriller element was not quite as strong as I expected, but I loved the overall concept and execution of the plot and especially loved the characters.

4) Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore

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Prediction: I was a bit apprehensive about this one because I didn’t love the last Anna-Marie McLemore book that I read as much as I expected, but I was obsessed with this cover and also thought the plot of this one seemed a lot more up my alley. I’ve really wanted to give this author another chance, and I kept getting drawn back to this book when I was making my challenge plans, so it seemed right to expect to love it.

What I Actually Rated It: 5 Stars!

Why It Was/Was Not 5 Stars?: I found this book so beautifully written, as expected for this author, and I was pleasantly surprised by how easily I was drawn into the story, given that I had found When The Moon Was ours a bit confusing. I loved how the author alternated between the perspectives of all three characters, and enjoyed how the short chapters kept me wanting to keep reading and see what happened next. I especially enjoyed the parallels drawn between the past and present storylines, and also loved the focus on knowing your family’s history and how it many have a long-lasting influence across generations. I also loved the historical context given toward accusations of witchcraft and how queer people were treated in this time period. I also really loved the fairy tale-like quality of the story and thought it handled the topics of self-acceptance and prejudice so well.

PopSugar 2020 Challenge

1) Saving Meghan by D.J. Palmer

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Prediction: I find books about Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy so fascinating, so that’s always a bit of a buzzword for me. I was very interested by the premise of this one, and was very curious to see which direction it would go. It also came highly recommended by my mom, who had read it sometime last year and loved it.

What I Actually Rated It: 5 Stars!

Why It Was/Was Not 5 Stars: I thought all of the main characters were so compelling, and I loved the way the author alternated between their perspectives. The book reminded me quite a bit of Jodi Picoult, my all-time favourite author, both in terms of the premise and the style. I hadn’t expected to have the perspective of one of the doctors working on Meghan’s case, but I thought it was very intriguing and a great way to see some of the medical side and even some of the office politics in a hospital. I loved that the author kept me guessing throughout about what was really happening to Meghan, and found the ending unexpected but very interesting as more detail was revealed. It was definitely one of the most unique and interesting thrillers I’ve read this year.

2) Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo


Prediction: Leigh Bardugo has quickly become one of my favourite authors, and I was really looking forward to trying something outside of the Grishaverse from her. I loved the dark academia focus, and got strong Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibes from the premise. It seemed so different from her previous books, and I was so excited to try it.

What I Actually Rated It: 5 Stars!

Why It Was/Was Not 5 Stars: I think it’s safe to say that this is one of my favourite books that I read all year. I was definitely right about the Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibes, both in terms of the humour and overall plot, although it was quite a bit darker than Buffy. I absolutely loved the characters and I was drawn into the writing immediately. I loved the backstory given about all the secret societies, and about both Alex and Darlington as the story unfolded. I especially loved Alex’s interactions with the other characters, and also loved how her ability to see ghosts was woven in throughout. I found this book so engrossing and immediately wanted the next one as soon as I finished, so I was disappointed to find that there is no release date yet!

3) Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater


Prediction: The Raven Cycle became one of my favourite series when I finally decided to pick it up, and I was really looking forward to reading this one since it is the start of a spin-off series about Ronan. I love Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style and given that this book is set in the same world and features some of the same characters, I expected to love it just as much as The Raven Cycle.

What I Actually Rated It: 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 on Goodreads

Why It Was/Was Not 5 Stars: To be honest, I think I picked this book up at the wrong time this year. I decided to read it in the middle of the lockdown since I assumed I’d have the time to focus on it, but it was at a time where I was having trouble getting into any book at all. As a result, I found the book very confusing at first and it took me longer than expected to get into it, but once I did, I really loved it. I especially loved the snippets we got of Ronan’s relationship with Adam, and loved the focus on Ronan’s brothers, Declan and Matthew. I fully expect that I will love this book even more the next time I read it, but it was still a great read and really not that far off 5 stars at all!

4) Loveless by Alice Oseman

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Prediction: I loved Radio Silence, which immediately became one of my favourite books that I read in 2019 because of Alice Oseman’s writing style, and I thought this one would hit a lot of the things I really look for: a university setting, and a focus on friendship. It was one of my most anticipated books to read this year.

What I Actually Rated It: 5 Stars!

Why It Was/Was Not 5 Stars: As expected, I was immediately drawn in by the writing and the characters. I found Georgia surprisingly relatable, and loved her relationships with her friends Pip and Jason, as well as with her new roommate, Rooney. I loved the banter and dynamics between them all and thought it felt so realistic. I also absolutely loved the exploration of what it means to be aro-ace, and Georgia’s process of figuring out her identity and what that means for her. I occasionally found the book a tiny bit repetitive toward the end, but it also made sense for Georgia to keep reflecting on the same ideas or discussing them with different people. I absolutely loved the focus on friendship and the importance of these relationships, and adored all of the characters.

ATY Top Picks & Leftovers Challenge (Part 1)

1) The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

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Prediction: I had absolutely no idea that this book was even happening, so I was very surprised to see it online. It was great timing too, since I’d already been planning to re-read The Hunger Games this year anyway. Although I wasn’t convinced that this prequel was really necessary, I assumed I would love it just because of Suzanne Collins’ writing and how much I loved the series in general.

What I Actually Rated It: 5 Stars!

Why It Was/Was Not 5 Stars: I know a lot of people were disappointed with this one so I was a little apprehensive when I finally picked it up, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it! I loved the school setting and how so many of Snow’s classes and assignments were used to explore some of the issues and ideas surrounding the Hunger Games, their purpose, and their politics behind them. I loved the focus on the evolution of the Games, and especially how different the earlier ones were. I enjoyed the bond Snow formed with Lucy Gray, the girl he was mentoring, but also had some difficulty buying into the romance. I found this book slower than the original series, especially toward the end, but also not surprised given that the book was quite a bit longer than the others too. While I’m still not sure how necessary this book was, I thought it was a great addition to the series and I found the backstory so intriguing.

2) All the Bad Apples by Moira Fowley-Doyle

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Prediction: This author was very high on my list to try this year, since I’ve had her books on my TBR for such a long time. This book was one of the reasons she shot to the top of my priority list because it sounded like exactly the kind of story that I tend to love, and I was very intrigued by the idea of the curse and how it affected the way women were treated over the years.

What I Actually Rated It: Nothing yet! I expected to get this book from the library, but the pandemic prevented me from using it this year. I did end up purchasing a copy and had hoped to read it around Halloween, but I didn’t get it in time for that. Given that it was for a lower-priority challenge, I decided to put it off and plan to read it next year instead (although I probably won’t wait for Halloween).

Would I Still Predict 5 Stars?: Yes, although I rated the other book I read by this author 4 stars. I’m expecting to like this one even more since the plot is a bit more intriguing to me, and hope that I enjoy the writing style and atmosphere as much as I did in Spellbook of the Lost & Found.

Check back tomorrow for the second half of this year’s 5-star predictions wrap-up!


One thought on “2020 5-Star Predictions Wrap-Up (Part 1)

  1. Pingback: 2020 5-Star Predictions Wrap-Up (Part 2) | Abyssal Librarian

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