Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Surprised Me

This prompt was a lot of fun, because surprising books are often the most memorable. Most of these are books I loved (some of my all-time favorites are in this list!), but it was also fun to rant a bit about some books I just did not like! 

Let me know your thoughts on any of these if you've read them!

One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel
168 pages, Fiction
Published March 14, 2017 by Scribner

My rating: 

This was one of my favorite books of last year. Despite the fact that it is kind of heavy content (it's about child abuse and drug addicted parents and toxic masculinity) the writing was so clear and beautiful, I just couldn't put it down. I was reading it under my desk at school. I did not expect to fall so deeply in love with such a depressing book.

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway
374 pages, YA Contemporary
Published October 3, 2017 from Harper Teen

My rating: 

This one is a more recent read, so maybe that's why it stands out in my memory. I read it because it recently won the National Book Award for young people's literature, and so I expected it to be... really good? Or at least better than the synopsis made it sound (kind of generic). It wasn't, so I wasn't surprised in that regard. It was the narration that I found most surprising. It was third person omniscient, and at times very distant from the characters in a way that felt unnatural for YA.

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
332 pages, YA Urban Fantasy
Published January 2, 2007 by Razorbill

My rating: 

This series has been a staple of YA since before I started reading it avidly, but I didn't read it until around when the movie came out. I thought it looked like a horribly cheesy Twilight rip off... but it was so fun and amazing! First of all, I loved Rose's snark and confidence (Definitely not a Bella Swann). Second of all, Dimitri. I read it in about a day.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Classic, Public Domain
First published 1814

My rating: 

This one is actually memorable because I liked it when I didn't expect to. I used to abhor school reading (before I became a Literature major and started to actually like assigned reading??) but this was the first school book I read I really liked. On top of that, Mansfield Park is generally the least liked Austen novel. Personally, it's my favorite of those I've read (including Pride and Prejudice). Sure Fanny isn't as fiery as Lizzy, but I love how unfazed she is by Henry Crawford!

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty
400 pages, YA Magical Realism
Published September 18, 2012 by PanMacmillan Australia

My rating: 

I don't even remember what made me decide to take a chance on this unassuming magical realist book, but it ended up being one of the most unique, whimsical YA books I've ever read. I will now read any YA book Jaclyn Moriarty writes (Here's another surprise: Jaclyn is the sister of Liane Moriarty, of Big Little Lies fame)

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
404 pages, YA Fantasy
Published August 7, 2012 by Bloomsbury

My rating: 

This book is a big NOPE from me. Which is obviously surprising because SJM is probably the current most loved YA author on the planet. My problem with the book lies in the characters. Caelena, a badass assassin? Didn't buy it. Dorian and Chaol for love interests? Yawn. And the hype around this book continues to surprise me. Sometimes I feel like I need to reread it because I missed something. But overall: NOPE.

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
354 pages, YA Dystopian/Retro-Future/Awesome
Published September 6, 2011 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux

My rating: 

Allow me to pitch this book to you the way I wish it were pitched to me. This book is set in a retro-future New York where many necessities are rationed and chocolate is outlawed altogether. Coming from a chocolatier family means that Anya comes from a crime family, and because her (millennial) Grandma is dying and her older brother suffers from brain trauma (due to being shot in the head), Anya has to head her family while navigating family/crime politics and trying to stay in school. The series follows Anya from high school well into her twenties, and is a coming of age story more so than your typical YA dystopian romance. (Although it does have one of my favorite YA romances). This book is honestly so unlike any other YA series I've read, and it's an all-time favorite. Please read it!!!

Sunshine by Nikki Rae
330 pages, YA Paranormal Romance
Published January 28, 2013 by Nikki Rae

My rating: 

This is a self-published book and I'm not sure what made me click around on goodreads enough to discover that the author has the same birthday as me, or why that made me read it. It is very Twilight-y in a sense, as it's about a girl who falls for a vampire. But there's also the added element of Sophie processing family trauma, and dealing with mental and physical health (which made her a lot more interesting and relatable to me). And all of the characters are to die for. Since self-published books sadly don't have marketing teams, maybe I shouldn't be so surprised by how much I liked this and how much it stuck with me. If you like paranormal romance at all, this one is definitely worth picking up

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
517 pages, YA Fantasy
Published November 6, 2012 by Little, Brown

My rating: 

This is a sequel, so I should have known what I was getting into, right? I really liked Karou's adventures in Prague in Daughter of Smoke and Bone (the chimera chapters were less appealing if I'm being honest) and was expecting more of the same. But this book was So. Much. Better. It was epic: it brought the story from paranormal romance to wartime high fantasy. Plus Ziri. It's my favorite of the series.

Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartlzer
416 pages, YA Memoir
Published May 27, 2014 by Little, Brown

My rating: 

I bought this book because I met Aaron Hartzler at a festival and felt kind of obligated to buy his book. That sounds kind of shitty, doesn't it? But one day, for whatever reason, this book was calling to me and I read all 400+ pages in one day (a very rare feat for me). It is Aaron's memoir about growing up gay in the Bible Belt, and it was full of both love and pain, and it has just really stuck with me. Who knew.

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Gal!

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  1. I will be adding some of the books you've listed to my ever growing reading wishlist!!

    Here's a link to my TTT post for this week:

  2. I have Throne of Glass on my TBR, I might give it a go and see what I think, but I’ve found Maas’ books always have mixed reviews!

    1. I think it's worth checking out for yourself! A lot of people love them. I feel like SJM is kind of analogous to Cassie Clare when I started reading YA, and I was OBSESSED with her books*, even though they had really mixed reviews, too. I would hate to have missed out because of that!

      *Not to imply that Cassie is démodée

  3. I did really enjoy Throne of Glass and the rest of the series, though I can understand why people don't! I still need to read any of Laini Taylor's books, but I keep on hearing great things about them...

    1. I think I'm in the minority for liking the second DoSaB book the best, but it's 100% a great series any way you slice it!

  4. There are some really interesting titles on here. I had an obsessive sort of love for ToG when it first came out and then my love for the series pretty much disappeared and I'm not going to finish it. I wonder if I would still love it if I reread it.

    Thanks for sharing!!

    1. That’s interesting, I don’t think I’ve had that experience before, where I really love a series and then suddenly changed my mind. I’d be curious to know why you stopped!