Check out yesterday’s post here for Part 1!
ATY Top Picks & Leftovers Challenge (Part 2)
3) Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman
Prediction: I absolutely love the Illuminae Files series by these two authors, and have been really looking forward to trying this one too! This book has so many of the tropes that I tend to love, so it seemed pretty likely that I would love this one too.
What I Actually Rated It: Nothing yet! I was very disappointed not to get to this one like I expected this year, but ultimately decided it made more sense to wait for the third book to come out in 2021 so I could read all three books in the series together. I definitely need to make sure to prioritize this series next year because I’ve been waiting so long to read it now!
Would I Still Predict 5 Stars?: Definitely! Even though sci-fi is not a genre that I read too often, if Illuminae is anything to go on, I’m going to love this. I love ensemble casts, especially when it’s a band of misfits/found family, and I also love when a character is a “fish out of water” who wakes up in a different time and has to learn to adapt. I really hope I love this one as much as I expect!
4) The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica
Prediction: Mary Kubica was another author who was very high on my list to try this year, and this was another book that I kept coming back to when I was making my challenge plans. It sounded like exactly the kind of creepy thriller that I usually love, so I was really expecting to enjoy it.
What I Actually Rated It: Nothing yet! Despite making a point of buying a copy around the middle of the year and this book being one that I really wanted to pick up, I somehow kept putting it off until it was too late. I decided to save it for early next year instead so I don’t rush to squeeze it in, since I find that usually makes me like a book less.
Would I Still Predict 5 Stars?: Tentatively, yes. I was a bit disappointed to find that the only other Mary Kubica book that I tried this year wasn’t quite as engaging as I expected. I still really liked it, but nowhere near as much as I thought given how much I’ve heard about this author. Luckily, this one seems like a much more intriguing premise and definitely more like the kind of thriller I love.
Mommy Mannegren 2020 Challenge
1) Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
Prediction: I was very intrigued by the premise of this one because it sounded a lot like the kind of book Jodi Picoult might write. I love a good courtroom drama, and had seen so many amazing reviews for this one. I love books that focus on such complex topics and offer such a variety of perspectives, and it was a book that I knew I wanted to pick up this year.
What I Actually Rated It: 4.5 stars rounded up to 5 on Goodreads!
Why It Was/Was Not 5 Stars: This one was incredibly close to being a full 5 stars, and I think the only thing that held it back was the fact that I predicted who was responsible for the fire fairly early on, although I was still very interested in the explanations for how and why it happened. I also loved the exploration of all the different characters and their potential motives, and especially how even small actions by different people all played a role. I thought the court case was so interesting and I loved all the commentary that the book offered on such a variety of topics. It was definitely close enough to 5 stars that I essentially consider it a 5-star read anyway.
2) Yes, No, Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed
Prediction: Becky Albertalli is a must-read YA author for me, and I always look forward to her new books. I always relate so well to her characters and love her writing style. I haven’t read anything by Aisha Saeed yet, but have been meaning to try her books for a long time. I also liked that this one had a bit of a different angle on the romance, with the focus on politics.
What I Actually Rated It: 5 Stars!
Why It Was/Was Not 5 Stars: As expected, I absolutely loved the characters and found both of them so relatable. I enjoyed the religion representation for both of them (Jewish and Muslim), and really enjoyed the slower-burn relationship that developed between Jamie and Maya, which was a welcome change from the insta-love of most YA books. I have very little interest in politics, so I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed the focus on it, and especially the realistic approach of showing how activism does not always work in your favour. I also loved the pop culture references (especially the Koopa Troopa metaphor) and the focus on social media, and also loved both characters’ relationships with their families and friends. This book was easily one of the best YA books I read all year!
3) The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
Prediction: This book has been on my TBR for such a long time, and it was so high on my list to try this year. Peter Swanson was another of my top priority authors to try this year, and this book seemed like the best place to start. My mom has also read this one and highly recommended it, and we tend to have the same taste in thrillers.
What I Actually Rated It: Nothing yet! I think of all the books that I didn’t get to this year, this was the one I was most frustrated about. I had a lot of trouble finding an affordable copy of this one (at least the hardcover version that I wanted), and didn’t end up getting it until mid-November. By the time I got it, I had too many other books that I was prioritizing for other challenge goals, and didn’t want to rush this one. I was hoping to be able to squeeze it in before the end of the year, but decided it would be better to save it for next year when I can enjoy it properly.
Would I Still Predict 5 Stars?: Absolutely! This book is now at the top of my list for next year, and I’m still expecting to love it. I did read one other book by Peter Swanson this year and loved that one, so that only solidified my interest in reading this one. I’m so happy to have my own copy now so I have no excuse not to get to it early next year!
4) The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
Prediction: I’d heard so many amazing reviews for this one, but I avoided it for a while because I thought it seemed overhyped and that always tends to put me off. I was a bit hesitant about this one because I sometimes find books that involve characters repeating a day very repetitive, but the more I looked at the synopsis, the more interested I became!
What I Actually Rated It: 5 Stars!
Why It Was/Was Not 5 Stars: Ironically enough, I think what I loved most about this book was the way the repeated day element was handled. I loved how the main character repeated the day from a different body, and especially loved how he needed to figure out how to work with (or against) the traits of that person to solve the mystery, and also how it affected his ability to interact with others or get information from them. It was occasionally a little confusing to keep track of everyone, but it was in a way that kept in intrigued rather than annoyed, and I absolutely loved the ending and the way the explanation was ultimately presented. I also loved the setting and the old-fashioned style of the writing and the characters. I’m so glad I gave this one a chance!
Flourish & Blotts Wizarding World Tour Challenge
1) Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin
Prediction: I’d been hearing about this book absolutely everywhere, and it sounded so good! I love books that involve witches, and especially found the forced marriage aspect so interesting. I was especially intrigued to see the dynamics between the two main characters, since I’d heard that was a highlight.
What I Actually Rated It: Nothing yet! I was a bit upset not to get to this one this year, but ultimately decided it was better because it means I can read the entire series together next year instead. I already bought Blood & Honey, and I’m planning to get the next book too, so hopefully I love it as much as I expect.
Would I Still Predict 5 Stars?: Yes, even though I’ve since heard some very mixed reviews for the series in general and especially for the sequel. The premise still sounds just as intriguing to me and I’m very excited to finally be able to pick it up next year. I’m not quite as convinced that I’ll give Blood & Honey 5 stars, but I’m hoping to enjoy the entirety of the series.
2) Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
Prediction: I think of all my predictions, this was the one I was most unsure of. I love fairy tale retellings in general and I had heard such great things about this one, but it wasn’t necessarily at the top of my list. I ended up choosing it because I’d seen it highly recommended by many of my favourite vloggers, so I decided it was about time to pick it up.
What I Actually Rated It: 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 stars on Goodreads!
Why It Was/Wasn’t 5 Stars: I thought this book was a unique and interesting take on a Snow White story, and I loved how it used several of the classic elements in such a new way. It took a bit of time for me to really get into the writing and figure out what the story was really about, but once I got into it, I was hooked. I especially enjoyed the complex relationship between Mina and Lynet, and thought it felt very realistic, and I loved the perspectives of both characters. Ultimately, I gave it 4.5 stars because I found it a little too slow in places, but thought the overall story was unique and creative, and I loved the characters.
3) Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Prediction: Akemi Dawn Bowman is one of my favourite YA authors and someone whose books are automatically added to my TBR, regardless of what they are about. I’ve already given her previous two books 5 stars because of the writing and the strong characters, so it didn’t take much to expect the same for this one.
What I Actually Rated It: 5 Stars!
Why It Was/Was Not 5 Stars: As expected, I absolutely loved this one! I was immediately drawn in by the writing and especially the characters. I knew very little about the plot of this one before I picked it up, but I was pleasantly surprised by the mental health subplot for Harley and thought it was very well-done. I also loved that Harley got a bit of a wake-up call when she first joined the circus and realized it was not what she expected, which felt so realistic and led to her really having to reflect on what she wants and why. I also loved the focus on Harley’s relationships with her family and her best friend, as well as the absolutely adorable romance. I thought this book was so beautifully written and I was thoroughly engrossed the entire time.
4) A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
Prediction: While I didn’t love the previous YA book I’ve read by this author, I’ve been really looking forward to this one because it seems like something I’d absolutely love. This book is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, which is one of my favourite fairy tales. Even though I didn’t love Letters to the Lost, I did enjoy the author’s writing style and would love to see it in a fantasy setting.
What I Actually Rated It: Nothing yet! This was another one that I was upset not to get to, but once I realized that the third book was due out very early next year, I decided it made more sense to wait and read all three together.
Would I Still Predict 5 Stars?: Yes! I am so excited for this series, and really hope that I will love it as much as I expect. One of the things I’m most interested in for this series is that the main character has cerebral palsy, which is something I have never seen before in this kind of book. I’ve heard such great things about the series overall, so I’m really looking forward to it. I’m hoping to read it fairly early on in the year, if I can get the third book soon.
Overall, I was a little disappointed to see how many of the books I didn’t get to from my list! Of the 20 books that I picked, I read a total of 14 of them. On the other hand, I was very happy to realize that my predictions were pretty accurate! Of the 14 books that I read, 10 of them were 5 star reads for me. Three more were 4.5 stars that I rounded up to 5, so still very close, and even my least favourite of the bunch was still 4 stars! It definitely suggests that I was right to think that I’m pretty good at predicting which books I’ll enjoy. I’m actively planning to prioritize all of the books from this list that I didn’t get to next year instead, and I’m really looking forward to making some more 5-star predictions for 2021! I think the only thing I would change for next year is to put a bit more of a focus on picking up the books I predict I’ll love, to make sure I can get to them all. Both years that I’ve tried these predictions so far, they have been pretty accurate so I’m hoping to keep that streak going next year too.
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