It’s Tuesday! And that means another Top Ten list brought to you by the girls at The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is ‘Books that you loved less/more than you thought you would.’ I thought the positive side of this topic would make for a much cheerier post than the negative, so without further ado, I present my list of books that I loved more than I thought I would:
The Hunger Games Trilogy – Suzanne Collins
I’ll start with the controversial one! I have heard many people commenting along the lines of ‘I’ll never read that book,’ or saying to their children, ‘You’re never reading that book,’ and once upon a time I would have been nodding along with them vigorously. If all you know is a vague idea of the premise—something along the lines of ‘Kids get forced into playing a game where they have to kill all the other kids’—then it’s probably understandable. As it turns out, this series is a lot deeper than that. You need to look beyond ‘What’s happening?’ to ‘What is the author saying about what’s happening?’
The main reason I picked this up in the first place was because I had been reading a lot about how well crafted the story was. I became curious, and decided to check it out for myself. Boy, was I sucked in! And I learned a very valuable lesson: Don’t be too quick to criticise something you haven’t taken the time to check out for yourself! (Unless it’s Fifty Shades of Gray…)
I won’t do an in-depth analysis here, but I will say that one of the things that struck me most about this series was that it was a very accurate picture of a Godless world; a world without any hope beyond human nature. It’s not a pretty picture, but it was certainly thought provoking. And gripping. And well-written.
If I Run – Terri Blackstock
This is one of those books I almost didn’t pick for review when it first released. Reviews were mixed, and I hadn’t been all that impressed with a previous series I had started by the same author, but I read the opening sample and got sucked in!
By all my normal standards, I really shouldn’t have enjoyed it as much as I did: It’s written in first person, present tense (not my favourite); it alternates between the two main characters (which can be confusing in the first person); there’s no romance (gasp!); and the two main characters barely even meet each other. And yet, I couldn’t put it down.
I guess it just goes to show, it’s always worth giving an author a second shot!
Read my full review here.
Kept – Sally Bradley
This was probably one of the first Christian novels I ever read where the main character really took me out of my comfort zone. Miska Tomlinson is the kept mistress of a pro baseball player—not the kind of protagonist I was used to reading about!—and as soon as she can convince Mark to leave his wife, she’ll have everything she wants. Or so she thinks.
Dillon Foster is Miska’s antithesis: a pastor-in-training, a deliberate twenty-nine year old virgin, and unlike any man she’s ever known. And her journey to redemption was unlike any I had ever read: saturated with truth and grace.
And now I’m tearing up! The lesson from this one: Don’t be afraid to be taken out of your comfort zone. Sometimes they’re the most rewarding reads. ❤️
Read my full review here.
Nightshade – Ronie Kendig
This was the first book I ever read by Ronie Kendig, and therefore the only one of hers that qualifies for this list; because after this book, I knew exactly what to expect—and I’ve not been disappointed yet!
Picking this up was not so much a case of fearing I wouldn’t like it, as completely underestimating how much I would like it. I loved the action, I loved the psychological insight she used to portray her characters, I loved the energy and pace in her writing, and by the end, I was completely addicted.
(And just between you and me and cyberspace, I still am!)
Balancing Act – Kimberly Stuart
Kimberly Stuart was a new-to-me author when I was asked to be a reviewer for the third book in her Heidi Elliott series (Better Together – you can read my review here). I decided to do some homework and read the first in the series before I committed myself.
I signed up at the end of the first chapter!
Although there was a serious side to the story, Heidi Elliott is the kind of character who is easy to relate to and highly entertaining, and so this became one of my most entertaining reads of 2016.
Spinstered – Sharyn Kopf
I recently agreed to review the second book in this series for the new blog Diversity Between the Pages, but I have to confess I wondered how well I would relate to three single women who are either nearing or past the big four-oh and still looking for the right guy to share their life with. I also wasn’t sure what to expect from the ending…
I needn’t have worried. The first person point-of-view may have helped, but each of the characters’ voices were so personable and engaging, I was immediately drawn in—at times, entertainingly so, and at others, with an ache in my heart. I’m yet to read the rest of the series, so where these three women will end up is still unknown, but I am very much looking forward to finding out. Watch out for my review of this novel, coming soon on this blog!
Seek and Hide – Amanda G. Stevens
If you’ve followed my blog for long, you’ll have come across this series before. I’m not sure I knew what to expect when I picked this up. The Hunger Games notwithstanding, I’m not generally a dystopian/ speculative reader, and I think the main reason I did start reading this was because I had bought it during a Kindle sale, and the last book in the series was releasing and therefore offered for review. (Doing my homework again! 😉)
I am SO glad I picked it up. And if I even start trying to tell you why, this post will get way too long. So just read my review for the last in the series here. It will tell you everything you need to know!
A Fool and His Monet – Sandra Orchard
Since picking this book up I have become a big Serena Jones fan, but I have to tell you: I’m very nervous about the last book in the series, yet to release. #TeamTanner or #TeamNate? I just can’t decide, and I’m afraid that when she does, I’ll work out that I really wanted it to be the other guy!
But I digress. I’d read and enjoyed Sandra Orchard before, so I thought I knew what to expect, but this book had that something extra that took it beyond my expectations. I think it’s largely the quirky characters and Serena’s dry, down-to-earth personality. Basically, it’s fun as well as a great suspense.
Newton and Polly – Jody Hedlund
Again, Jody Hedlund is an author I have read and enjoyed to varying degrees in the past, but none of that prepared me for this novel. To be fair, part of its appeal is simply the story itself (which was a little out of Jody’s hands!), but she really has excelled herself in the way she’s written it. It engaged me in a way her previous stories haven’t, and if you haven’t had the chance to read it yet, I strongly encourage you to get a copy. It truly is a story of Amazing Grace!
My review will be coming shortly, so keep your eyes peeled 🙂
The Promise of Jesse Woods – Chris Fabry
I would have missed out on a seriously good read.
The writing, the story—everything was mesmerising. I could almost physically feel myself being drawn deeper in as the story progressed. You can read my full review here.
Three Little Words – Melissa Tagg
This one’s a bonus for you. Until I read this little gem, I was fully convinced that a novella could not be as satisfying as a full-length novel. Melissa Tagg continues to prove me wrong every time she releases a new novella. (And I’m pleased to say I have since found other authors who do so as well). But this one still has a special place in my heart, because, well… the ending… *sigh*
What about you? Which bookish gems have taken you by surprise?