Top Ten Tuesday: Ten books that surprised us, which may or may not be a good thing

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

CJ's Selections

I'm usually pretty good at telling whether I'm going to enjoy a book, which is why I've been so good at avoiding really dreadful ones. But every so often, something sneaks up on me: a book I loved more than I thought I would, a book I expected to love and want to throw across the room. 
1.A Crown of Wishes / Roshani Chokshi - When I got to this, I'd already read A Star-Touched Queen. I thought it was okay, but kind of--read: very--slow. The first half was so draggy! But it was pretty, so I tried her second one. Thank god. ACOW smacked me in the face with its awesomeness. Gauri and Vikram gave me all the slow-burn feels that were missing from Maya's story, plus a tightly-wound plot and lots of stabbing. I'm so glad I gave Roshani another chance.

2.Queen of Shadows / Sarah J. Maas - If you're going to be all SJM!?@L!! then you might want to stop reading now. This was the book that killed me love of her books. I'd liked the first three a lot--I used to stan Throne of Glass--hardcore. But then it took me like a month to read QoS because IT WAS SO BORING. And I kept reading other people's reviews and no one seemed to see what I was seeing! And the ships were all mixed up and half of it was just about Calaena and Rowan jumping into bed and I DIDN'T CARE. By the time I realized SJM herself was sketchy, I'd already lost all interest in going further in her tales.

3.The Secret of a Heart Note / Stacey Lee - For a contemporary romance about a topic that totally didn't interest me, this fluffy little fluffball was epically adorable. I'd read Outrun the Moon first, so Lee's super sharp writing was my main incentive to read this. Pretty sure I lost twenty years of cynic street cred, but SO worth it. This quasi-magical tale yanked the hopeless romantic in me out through my spine and left me looking like one of those heart-eyes emoticons.

4.And I Darken / Kiersten White - I didn't go in expecting to hate this book, but I definitely had the wrong impression of it. I'd heard it pitched as a genderbent Vlad the Impaler story. So naturally I was expecting some bad Transylvanian accents and people turning into bats and shit. Instead, I got a hardcore sweeping historical, brutally and beautifully rendered, with the political intrigue of The Winner's Curse on crack and two morally gray narrators--plus my empire-building cinnamon roll Mehmed.

5.A History of Glitter and Blood / Hannah Moskowitz - I had no idea what I was getting into when I opened this ARC. I was expecting a dark fairy story and it was that, but it was also an unapologetically brutal, bizarre, bisexual postmodern ball of chaos with a consummately unreliable narrator who was literally writing the book while you were reading it. It's still one of the coolest, weirdest books I've ever read, and I only wish more people worshipped it properly.

Whitley's Selections

1.The Duchess War - This a super petty entry, guys. See, I didn't like the author. *le gasp* you say! Not like Courtney Milan? BUT WHY? For no good reason, that's why. I was mildly pissed off about a twitter exchange with no moral value attached to it (i.e., no one was 'wrong' or 'problematic' or whatnot), thus the "this entry is super petty." But one day I found myself with nothing to read while out to dinner, and I had the Duchess War on my phone, so...

I loved the book, like really absolutely loved it, but the whole time I was reading I was also going "damnit, why is this good, let me hold onto my pettiness!"

2.The Great Hunt - I expected this book to be bad. I expected it to be tropey and cliched and full of Stock White Fantasy, but also I was in the mood for some stock-trope-cliche fantasy. I was so ready for this one to fit that uninspiring bill.

What surprised me was how utterly boring it was. How do you pick that many cliches and not make at least one of them actually interesting? They're cliches because they're fun, it should have been at least an entertaining combination! Alas, nope.

3.Public Relations - I don't know why I picked this one up. I don't read a lot of contemporary works; it's just not my style. But ... IDK someone posted something about it on Twitter probably, which is where most of my TBR comes from, and for some inexplicable reason I picked it up. I thought it would be light and funny and kill an afternoon.

Which, to be fair, it was all of that. But I didn't expect to connect quite so hard with the main character! Every other chapter had something that made me chuckle with glee and cry 'yes, someone else does that too!'

If you're in the mood for a New Adult (it's at the higher end of that, like 24-26, does that still count? Maybe we need more sub-categories) then I'd highly recommend this one.

4.The Thousandth Floor - I'm honestly still surprised I like this one. It's rich teens having rich teen problems, plus a lot of weird incest. (Adopted siblings, BUT STILL.) I wasn't supposed to like this one. I still can't tell you why I like this one. But there it is.

5.Into The Dim - This came out during what felt like a whole rash of time travel books, and I picked it because it seemed like the one most suited to me.

LOL NO. This book was such trash. I hated it as thoroughly as I've ever hated SJM or CC. The misogyny and nonsense was completely off the wall. This book took 'rape as a device to show the bad guys are bad' and cranked it up to...well, okay, 9.5, BUT THAT'S STILL TOO MUCH. Not to mention the main character who couldn't keep her eidetic memory straight and female characters who kept randomly going missing to make room for the boys and a plot that missed out on all its best potential. Sigh, I had such...middling hopes for it, too.

Your turn! What books most surprised you? For better or worse. 


  1. As a Romanian, I was offended by the lack of research in "And I Darken". It was quite insulting the way she treated our history. I mean, I get it`s historial fiction, but I just wished the author did more research. I agree with you on Sarah J Maas though.

    Carmen`s Reading Corner

  2. "...and lots of stabbing..." - what kind of book is this? I'm not sure I like books with lot of stabbing but I really like your brief review here.

    sarah j maas books and I don't get along so, I bascially have not even finished a single one of her books because I never seem to get into them. I still don't know how other people get into them plus each series is like 10 books or something.

    have a lovely day.