Top 10 Tuesday – 5 Books That Blew Me Away & 5 Books That…Not So Much
Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is “Ten Books I Loved Less/More Than I Thought I Would (recently or all time) — or you could do something like books I liked more/less than everyone else.”
Okay, so I struggled with this topic a bit. I couldn’t think of 10 books I loved more or less than I thought I would, so I split it down the middle and did five of each. What I went for here are books I read in 2016 that either far exceeded my expectation or else didn’t meet my expectations at all or live up to the hype that surrounded them. In other words, I liked them well enough; I just didn’t love them like I was sure that I would. Let’s start with the good…
5 BOOKS THAT BLEW ME AWAY
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1. THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir
To this day, I still can’t get over how much I truly loved this book. The only reason I even picked it up was because of the Matt Damon movie and my rule about always reading the book first. I ended up devouring it in less than a day. It fed both my inner geek and my inner smart ass and I loved every page of it. Talk about exceeding expectations – if you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it!
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2. A COURT OF MIST AND FURY by Sarah J. Maas
I’m actually finishing this book as we speak and cannot believe how quickly I’ve blown through 600+ pages. This is one of the few books I’ve read in the past year or so that really lives up to all of the hype that has surrounded it and as much as I enjoyed A Court of Thorns and Roses, I think this book far exceeds that one. I’ll be reviewing this book soon so don’t want to say too much, but I’m beyond ready to get my hands on the third book!
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3. MY LADY JANE by Cynthia Hand Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
I truly had no idea what to expect when I picked up My Lady Jane but it ended up being one of my favorite reads of 2016. Written in the vein of The Princess Bride or perhaps Monty Python, if you love random and quirky humor, definitely put this one on your TBR. It’s truly laugh-out-loud funny!
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4. THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE by Katherine Arden
I honestly chose this book because I thought the cover was so beautiful and because I was intrigued by the idea of a retelling involving Russian folklore. I was thrilled to find that the writing inside is just as beautiful as the cover outside. Truly exquisite. This is a title that I hope receives the acclaim I believe it deserves. I still can’t believe it’s Arden’s debut novel.
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5. LILAC GIRLS by Martha Hall Kelly
I’ve always been drawn to historical fiction so I picked this book up as soon as I heard it was centered during World War II and focused on a women’s concentration camp. Lilac Girls is a powerful exploration of how women in particular were impacted by the atrocities committed by the Nazis during WWII. The primary setting of the book is the Nazi concentration camp Ravensbruck and its primary focus, the women — primarily Polish political prisoners — who were detained there, with special attention paid to those known as the “Ravensbruck Rabbits”, a group of prisoners who were experimented on against their will by Nazi doctors. One of the most compelling qualities of Lilac Girls, in my opinion, is its moving portrayal of the strength and courage of the Ravensbruck prisoners. Up against inhumane treatment and almost certain death, they demonstrated such resilience, determination, and even at times, defiance, that it just blew me away. I found the sisterhood they created for themselves within the camp very moving as well – the way they worked so hard to keep hope alive, no matter how hard the Nazis tried to dehumanize them and strip that hope away. I knew it would be a compelling read and an educational one, but I still wasn’t prepared for just how much it would blow me away. Lilac Girls was a 2016 Goodreads Choice finalist and it’s my most recommended book of 2016. It’s an important book because of the story that it tells and it’s also an incredibly well written book.
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5 BOOKS THAT … NOT SO MUCH
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6. THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Colson Whitehead
I liked this book, but I hate that I didn’t completely love it, especially considering the widespread acclaim it has received. I thought Cora’s story was very compelling and that Whitehead’s writing is powerful in the way it exposes so many of the horrors of slavery. I also loved the imaginative idea of the Underground Railroad as an actual physical railroad — Cora’s journey on the various stops was probably my favorite part of the novel. That said, there was still just something about this book that made it a difficult one for me to get through. I’m thinking maybe it was something stylistic or maybe the point of view, but I just wasn’t as riveted by what was going on as I would have expected to be. It took me nearly two months to finish the book, which just isn’t like me at all.
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7. HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, and J.K. Rowling
I don’t know if there was anyway this could possibly live up to the hype, but I found it to be a real letdown. I’m sure it’s a phenomenal play, but that’s the thing. It’s meant to be seen rather than read. I found the script to be just too bare bones for my liking and many of the characters that should feel familiar just didn’t.
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8. THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins
I guess maybe I was just already over the hype of “The Girl….” books with unreliable narrators and unlikable characters by the time this one came out, but The Girl on the Train just didn’t do much for me to live up to all of the hype it was generating.
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9. MODERN LOVERS BY EMMA STRAUB
This was another super-hyped book that just didn’t do much for me. I literally saw it on every “Most Anticipated”, “Must Read” books list I came across last year and after I read it, I just sat there like “I don’t get it. What was all the fuss about?”
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10. RED QUEEN by Victoria Aveyard
I have a love-hate relationship with the Red Queen series. It’s one of the most fast-paced and entertaining series out there, which is why I love it, but it also has Mare and her endless distracted behavior when she’s around her crushes. And don’t even get me started on the love triangle/love square thing she has going on in the first book. What the heck? I soooo want this to be a 5 star read because so many parts of it are so epic, but every time the love gets in the way of the rest of the storyline, I want to scream and so I end up rating it as a 3 star read. I’m still hoping for that 5 star amazing-ness when the next book comes out later this year though!
Totally agree with The Bear and The Nightingale!! I haven’t read any of the others but The Martian movie was great and I was surprised I liked it 🙂
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed both the book and the movie of The Martian. It’s not usually my genre but I just thought it was brilliant.
I really enjoyed The Girl on the Train. But agree with you about the hype. I also agree with you on Cursed Child. I just finished The Best Kind of People and although parts were a tad dull and predictable, I enjoyed the story.
I’ve not read The Best Kind of People. I’ll have to check that one out.
Oh, I actually loved The Girl on the Train – I thought it lived up to the hype!
I do agree with you on the Red Queen series – the first book was good enough that I continued onto the second, but that’s where things fell apart for me. I’m not sure if I’ll read the next book.
I hear you on Red Queen. I really did almost bail on it after the second book, but then as soon as the third book was announced, I got sucked right back into the excitement. I’m really hoping it doesn’t let me down.
I didn’t like Red Queen either. 🙁
I’m glad I’m not alone. I mean, I liked parts of it, but it didn’t wow me the way I had hoped it would
Yes to Cursed child. It did not blow me away. Now I really have to get Bear and the Nightingale. You seem to have loved it
I’d definitely be curious to see what you think of The Bear and the Nightingale. It seems like people either really love it or don’t like it at all.
Loved The Martian <3
Hated THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins 😀
I haven't read THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Colson Whitehead but it's been on my tbr pile for ages – I'll be rethinking that one:D
The Underground Railroad just frustrated me because of the way it kept throwing chapters about random people in between the chapters where the main action was taking place. If it wasn’t for that, I probably would have liked it so much more.
I really need to break down and just read The Martian already. I own it. I just keep forgetting about it when it comes time to read.
Haha, I do that all the time! Too many books (well, there’s no such thing as too many books, but you know what I mean). I hope you enjoy it when you do read it.
The MArtian I have not read yet although I did like the movie. And I felt the same way about The Girl on the Train- it wasn’t bad but it didn’t wow me either. I felt like it was strictly average?
Average is exactly how I’d describe The Girl on the Train. Maybe if I hadn’t already read Gone Girl and a few other similar books, it would have done more for me, but it was just okay overall.
I was the same way with The Martian. I wasn’t expecting to love it. I really need to read The Lilac Girls. Great lists!!
Right? Me neither. It’s totally not my typical read so I was truly shocked at how quickly it sucked me in and held my attention. Oh yes, if you like historical fiction, I highly recommend The Lilac Girls.
I’ve been lucky to see Cursed Child live and yeah, it’s DEFINITELY meant to be seen live. I loved reading the play, though, but I can see how people would like seeing it live much better.
I didn’t really love The Girl on the Train either. Too obvious for me.
I agree about The Girl on the Train. It was pretty predictable.
I’m dying to read the bear and the nightingale! I’ve heard so many great things about it. I want to read my lady jane as well even though I’m not entirely sure what it’s about, I’ve just seen it be talked about a lot! Sorry and the red queen, I’ve heard mixed things about it but I haven’t read it personally, I do want to at some point though! Great choices!
I hope you’ll enjoy The Bear and the Nightingale as much as I did 🙂
So happy you enjoyed ACOMAF! It really is so much better than ACOTAR 🙂 And I liked The Martian way more than I expected as well! I did like Red Queen, but not the second book (Glass Sword). I did just finish the third book, King’s Cage, and loved it again, so maybe you’d enjoy that one more as well 🙂
I’m glad to hear you enjoyed King’s Cage so much. That gives me hope that I’ll enjoy it as well 🙂 And OMG yes on ACOMAF! I’m trying to write my review now and can barely put my thoughts into words. I need the next book NOW, haha!
I didn’t even pick up Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, because I knew I would just be let down by it… But that’s coming from someone who has no interest in it as play format either. I kind of just wish they would leave HP as is. I really quite enjoyed Red Queen, however not enough to continue with the series. I really want to read The Bear and the Nightingale. Interesting list!
I kind of wished I hadn’t picked up Harry Potter and the Cursed Child either. I let the hype draw me in.
RE: Lilac Girls. Suzanne, thx for the edit. But it’s odd that you are reticent about naming the perpetrators — Germans — while you had no compunctions about attributing the concentration camps to their victims.
Yvonne, thanks for stopping by to point out the mistake in my post. In this case, it was a typo and nothing more. I was typing this post at midnight, changed my mind mid thought, deleted out some other information, and clearly did not proofread what was left. I was horrified to realize I had made such a glaring typo when I got your message the next morning, went in as quickly as time would permit to correct it, and had actually planned to email you directly to apologize and to thank you for letting me know the error was there. It was an honest mistake, nothing more, and I’m truly sorry that I offended you.