Top Ten Tuesday is an awesomely original weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish, and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.
ABOUT: A young girl who loves books, set in the backdrop of World War II and narrated by death? Check, check and CHECK. This should be right up my alley, surely?
SURPRISE: Umm… turns out, not. I feel like the only person on the planet who is not in love with this book. I didn’t go into it with any particular expectations but had basically never seen a poor review of this. While I enjoyed the story and its twists and turns, I was surprised that I never developed any kind of emotional connection with it or the characters.
ABOUT: Angels and Demons and Shadowhunters…Oh My!
WHY I WAS SURPRISED: I was a serious latecomer to this series. I knew of it but had never been interested in picking it up because I’d never gotten on with the ‘fallen angels’ thing. However, the praise kept racking up so I decided to give book 1 a go in 2015. I wasn’t convinced at first, but by the second book all the sass and dramatic drama overtook the sensible side of my brain which cringed at some of the writing; I was gobbling it up. I even purposely spaced out the books to stop me reading them all at once! They also became my ‘travel’ books that I took on many an adventure.
ABOUT: Several teenagers discover they only have two months to live (due to pending death by asteroid).
I WAS UNPLEASANTLY SURPRISED: This book, ACK. The internet told me it would be profound and poignant. There was a lot of hype around this one when it was released, BUT IT WAS ALLLLL LIESSSS.
Unfortunately, I failed to find one redeeming feature in this and almost DNF’d it. It’s the worst book I’ve read in a while. The storyline was bizzare, the characters hollow and vapid, and none of them felt sincere. Good premise, poor execution.
ABOUT: On paper, The Shambling Guide was everything I ever wanted in a book, it’s like the blurb was written for the sole purpose of getting Becky the Bookaholic to pick it up and read the heck out of it. I mean, a supernatural travel writer?! Story based in New York? Lots of different ghosts, ghouls and demons? YUSS. Oh and the totally awesome comic book style cover? I was expecting Buffy in a book.
SURPRISE, YOUR DREAMS HAVEN’T COME TRUE, YET: Unfortunately, I set my hopes too high and was surprised to find that the supposedly kick-ass protagonist was a whiny whatsit who couldn’t even protect herself from a New York cockroach. Oh, and her travel writing was TERRIBLE. 😦
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (Review)
ABOUT: 4 sisters finding their way through the perils of growing up in the 19th Century.
I WAS PLEASANTLY SURPRISED: I wasn’t expecting to love this as much as I did. For many years, I’ve been making my way through as many classics as I can, but Little Women was pretty far down on the list. I had seen the movie with Winona Ryder, and thought the main character Jo seemed whiny, ungrateful and arrogant. However, I got a free copy of the book from the Radio Times magazine which prompted me to give it ago. Turns out, the book was super sweet and endearing, and not at all what I was expecting!
Note to reader’s: the 2017 TV mini-series is MUCH better than the movie!
ABOUT: A boy who drowns… and then wakes up again. Is it heaven? Is it limbo? Or is it something else altogether?
WHY I WAS SADLY SURPRISED: I read and loved Ness’s A Monster Calls. It was powerful, immersive and a brain sensation. More Than This was… odd, and not what I was expecting. It was way more sci-fi for starters, there’s a kind of ‘villain’ in it that bordered on the ridiculous, I never got invested in the characters and the plot was repetitive. Basically, I just wasn’t able to buy into the concept of this one. I could tell that it was supposed to be philosophical and thought-provoking but I just found it… annoying and flat. I was gutted!
ABOUT: An unlikely friendship between a teenager and a widowed elderly gentleman.
I WAS HAPPILY SURPRISED: I didn’t know much about this book but I’d read good reviews. Pair that with the blurb hook of a 17 year-old getting stopped in customs with some strange cargo – marijuana and an urn full of ashes, and how can you not read on to find out how the heck he got there? Yes, this was a sweet book portraying a brilliant friendship between generations, but what surprised and excited me was how science-related it was. Alex loves physics and astronomy and visiting museums. He also spends hours talking with Neurologists, University professors and fans of Kurt Vonnegut. It was a refreshingly unexpected aspect of the book, and I had never read about such a scienc-ey character before! As a science-inclined person myself, I loved learning all sorts of random facts the characters blurted out!
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (Review)
ABOUT: The Picture of Dorian Gray is, of course, a well known classic about the perils of vanity. A man who stays the same, but his portrait grows old. How’s that for a spooky tale?
SURPRISE, IT WASN’T THAT SPOOKY: Well, I could not get on with this novel. At. All. I normally LOVE Gothic literature from this time period, but Oscar Wilde’s writing was more flowery than dark and dramatic, and I found myself recoiling from it, hissing, like a vampire faced with sunlight. This novel just wasn’t for me!
ABOUT: A dagger wielding, sword swinging, sass slinging assassin.
LUCKILY I WAS SUPRISED… OR THE INTERNET WOULD HAVE SHUNNED ME: I did not like book 1 of this series (Throne of Glass). Not even a little bit, and the internet looooves this series. Luckily, book 2 was a lot better. It built on the world building, the plots started to weave and become more complex, and the action was way awesome. Surprisingly, I was a convert and I will soon be starting book 5. Bring it on!
ABOUT: American Gods follows a man named Shadow whose wife dies in a car accident the day that he is released from prison. On his way back home he meets a Man named Sunday, who claims to be an ancient God.
WHY THIS SURPRISED THE HECK OUT OF ME: This book surprised me in every chapter, but I still don’t even know whether it was in a good or a bad way! In fact, I still can’t decide how I actually felt about this. I mean, the writing was exquisite, the characters were fascinating, the plot kept me engrossed, and it gets super philosophical, but guys, SO MANY WEIRD THINGS HAPPEN IN THIS BOOK. I MEAN, A MAN GETS SWALLOWED BY HIS DATE’S LADY PARTS IN THE FIRST FEW CHAPTERS. I WAS NOT PREPARED FOR THAT.
In fact, I think this may be the weirdest book I’ve ever read, and I still can’t work out if American Gods was genius or just made no sense whatsoever. Readers, is all Neil Gaiman’s work like this? The only other book of his I’ve read is Stardust. All I know, is I definitely want to read another book by this author, but I’m not too sure why? Or whether it’s advisable!
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Now, it’s your turn. What books have you read recently that have surprised you? Was it for a good reason or a bad reason? Have any of the above books surprised you? Let me know in the comments!