#TopTenTuesday: Books That Surprised Me (in Both Good and Bad Ways)

It’s that time of the week again, friends! We’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is: my December TBR. But as I’ve already written a few posts (like this one and this one here) I thought I would choose a past topic to do and I’ve chosen: books that surprised me (in both good and bad ways) focusing on the books I’ve read this year. I’m splitting the post up into ‘the good’ and ‘the not-so-good’ and for both parts, the books I listed were mostly in order read (from earliest to later in the year), so it’s not about some books being better/worse than others. It was interesting to look back on what books surprised me this year and it’s definitely making me think more about what my top reads for 2019 are going to be!


Year One
I’ve read plenty of Nora Roberts’ romances and I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy this one since it’s such a departure from her norm. So I was pleasantly surprised when I really enjoyed this dystopia and its elements of magick, and I’m looking forward to continuing with the story and seeing where Roberts takes us next! You can read my review here.

CoHo is another romance author that I had read way early on back in the day and even though I’d heard amazing things about Verity, I wasn’t sure if I’d like it. Well, color me completely surprised because this one pulled me right out of my months long reading slump! I really want CoHo to write more stories like Verity because it was awesome! You can read my review here.

Normal People
I read Rooney’s debut in 2018 and absolutely hated it. Okay, that’s a strong word but wow, that book sent me right into a funky slump and I never thought I’d read another of her books. I’m glad I gave Normal People a chance though because even though the characters are messed up, this story was one that hit me so strongly in the feels!
You can read my review here.

Sorry I’m Late I Didn’t Want to Come
I struggle a lot with non-fiction and when I got the eARC for this I was questioning why I’d even request it because of how much I struggle to get through NF books. I ended up loving this one! Pan is hilarious and her experiences were so relatable. This is one that will stick with me for a while and already I’ve recommended it to tons of people!
You can read my review here.

Rules for Vanishing
My chicken soul was freaking out big time when I bought this book on a whim, but there was something about this cover/description that had me wanting to read it. There’s no doubt it was freaky AF but I’m so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone to read this (in October no less!) because once I started I couldn’t put it down!
You can read my review here.


The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
I was so looking forward to reading this one. It was my first book for the Popsugar Reading Challenge this year and I was pumped up by all the rave reviews about it. Unfortunately, this one just wasn’t for me. The jumping timelines was confusing as heck and the explanation of the plot, while interesting, was underwhelming. I wish I loved it!
You can read my review here.

Mixed Signals
I admit that I picked this up because I immediately zoned in on the cover and thought: CUTE ROMANCE! But no. It wasn’t and I was so freaking disappointed by it! Holy wow, it was a hot mess. You can read my review here.

Little Darlings
When I picked this up I didn’t know it had supernatural/paranormal elements to it and that’s not my normal jam. A lot of people had been praising how amazing it was and while it wasn’t my worst read, I was disappointed by how… slow it was and I couldn’t connect with the characters at all. This was definitely more about the book not being for me than the book not being good though. I know a lot of people enjoyed it! You can read my review here.

Red, White and Royal Blue
First of all, this being on ‘the not-so-good’ list is slightly misleading. I did enjoy it but I didn’t love it as much as everyone else and that really disappointed me. So, still a hella unpopular opinion. Liking characters, especially the MC, is big in my enjoyment of a story and although he wasn’t the worst, I found Alex’s character annoyed me too much for me to totally be into this. I wished we got Henry’s perspective too! Plus, this could’ve been much shorter.
You can read my review here.

Stalking Jack the Ripper
I was so excited to read this book and dive into this series because many of my favorite bloggers/bookstagrammers love it. But again, it’s another case of “it’s not you, it’s me” because while there were some good bits (and it was much creepier than I expected, especially with those photos!) I was ultimately disappointed by how ‘meh’ I felt after reading it. I still don’t know if I’ll continue on with the series either. You can read my review here.

What books from this year surprised you in both good and bad ways? Did you feel the same way about any of the books on my list?

33 thoughts on “#TopTenTuesday: Books That Surprised Me (in Both Good and Bad Ways)

    • Roberts was my first foray into good ole’ classic romance several years back and I don’t regret it at all! Haha this was very different although there was still a romantic element in it, so I was pleasantly surprised by how I enjoyed it. I hope you like RW&RB! I did enjoy parts of it and I agree it’s a book that brings to light so many important and relevant issues today, and it had such a positive and hopeful message. But I found it so hard getting on with Alex and unfortunately it really swayed my enjoyment of the book 😊 I’m definitely in the minority though!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think I had some really high expectations for some of these books (looking at you RW&RB) and even though it wasn’t on my ‘good’ list, that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it… I just expected more? I hope you enjoy Year One if/when you get to read it!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I know a lot of people loved it but I just… Couldn’t get into it as much. I did like the main character but there were lots of plot holes that had me scratching my head and even having to suspend my disbelief it was still a bit of a stretch… 🙈


    • Haha I’m half-disappointed that I didn’t enjoy that book as much as I’d hoped. BUT I’m also glad knowing that tons of people have commented how awful the final book was and that the others before it were not the greatest 😅 So yeah, I guess it’s a good thing? Haha


  1. I actually didn’t realize CoHo was considered a romance author, but I do have Verity on my TBR for next year, along with The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, so I’m sorry to hear you didn’t love it! I was on the fence with Normal People, but I think you’ve convinced me to try it!

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    • Verity was GREAT! That one pulled me straight up out of an intense reading slump and I was shook! 😂I hope you enjoy it! I also know a lot of people who enjoyed Evelyn Hardcastle but I suppose it just wasn’t for me… I think it’d make an interesting show or movie though! Normal People was interesting. It’s definitely not an easy or happy read, but I enjoyed it so much because of how much I could relate to the characters’ feelings. I think it’s one that will stick with me a while so I hope you enjoy it too! 😊


    • Yeah, I was so disappointed by that one. It’s so hyped and I was a little surprised by that when I was reading it. It definitely wasn’t the book I was expecting 😅 I also heard that the rest of the series doesn’t get that much better… so I really don’t feel like I’m missing out by not continuing!


    • I think it was just more the connection with the characters (Alex especially) that made it feel a little meh for me… I know my opinion is highly unpopular though 🙂 But I loved what the book stood for and the message it sent!


  2. I’ve never been able to get into Nora Roberts really. Once in a blue moon I find something I like by her, but then I read something else and I hate it and then I don’t read her stuff for years haha.

    I am so glad I didn’t get into the hype for Stalking, because I enjoyed it for what it was. I did really love RW&RB though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fair enough. I’m definitely a romance lover so I think my introduction to her was pretty fitting 🙂 Haha but I was surprised how much I enjoyed this dystopia series of hers. It was interesting!

      I know a lot of people loved STJR and I know my opinions about these books are very unpopular. It’s not that I didn’t like them, I was personally just a little disappointed because I expected more from the hype. Guess we can’t always like everything, eh? Lol 🤷🏻‍♀️


  3. I really want to read Rules for Vanishing! I’ve heard some mixed reviews, but it’s one of those that I definitely want to give a shot myself. Noooo. I still have to read The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, and I’m disappointed that it was a miss for you. xD Maybe I’ll lower my expectations for that one just a teensy bit. I’m 100% with you on Stalking Jack the Ripper, though. I actually ended up DNFing it, because it just wasn’t working out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope you enjoy Rules for Vanishing! I don’t normally read these kinds of books (as you well know lol) so I think maybe I’m less picky about it? I’m quite surprised I enjoyed it as much as I did! My opinion on Evelyn Hardcastle is pretty unpopular but I was pretty disappointed it wasn’t for me either 😅 Glad to know I’m not alone on the STJR front though lol I just didn’t get the hype 🙈

      Liked by 1 person

      • I didn’t get the hype, either, which was all the more disappointing because based on what other people said about it, I went in expecting to love it. I’m still gonna give Evelyn a try, but we’ll see if I end up with the same unpopular opinion. I seem to have a lot of those lately. xD


  4. Stalking Jack the Ripper was a bit of a meh for me too. I have heard that the next few are better so maybe one day I’ll purchase the next book as ebook on a whim.

    I have mostly read Nora Robers as J.D. Robb with her in death books, but I own the first 2 year one books . I have been putting it off a little but I really need to get on it in 2020.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I was a little whelmed by it considering how much hype its got! I’ve heard some pretty mixed reviews of the sequels so I don’t know if I’ll pick them up anytime soon but let’s see 🙂

      I haven’t read anything by her as J.D. Robb but that series is pretty famous. Did you enjoy it? Hope you like Year One!

      Liked by 1 person

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