Top Ten Tuesday: Unexpectedly Amazing

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme is a Book Wars original.

Books that defied expectation. Books that you didn’t think you would like but ended up loving.

Nafiza

This happens to me a lot. I will read books reluctantly and then have them blow my mind. Of course the reverse is also true but that’s a different top ten.

  1. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
    I was prepared to hate it because the cover is just so not pretty. But I was really blown away by the contents inside. I loved the story and the characters and wish for more books set in the same world.
  2. The Glass Sentence by S. E. Grove
    The hype made me really wary but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this middle grade novel.
  3. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
    So, I don’t really read realistic/contemporary fiction but this one had such great reviews that I just bit the bullet and boy am I glad I did.
  4. The Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy by Martha Wells
    I just read this because…why not? And well. I was not prepared for the awesome in it. Like wow. Hands down one of my favourite fantasy/sci-fi hybrid trilogy of all time.
  5. The Ravenous Gown and 14 More Tales About Real Beauty by Steffani Raff
    I’ll be talking about this one in way more detail come this Wednesday. So stay tuned.

 Janet

  1. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. I had expected that this would be a good book, because Nafiza raved about it and insisted that I MUST read it, but I was in no way prepared for the complexity of the world-building, the beauty (not external) of the characters, and the quality of the writing.
  2. A Coalition of Lions by Elizabeth Wein. I had read one of her Aksum books in elementary school, but hesitated to read Code Name Verity in university, because everyone (and I do mean everyone) who had read it praised it to the skies, and I did not expect that any book could live up to what I had heard. I was wrong. I was blown away by Code Name Verity, and then by Rose Under Fire. I decided to (re)read the series set in Aksum, and came across A Coalition of Lions. The character arcs are extraordinary, both within each book and across the series as a whole.
  3. Sanditon by Jane Austin and Another Lady. I had read one other continuation of Austen’s unfinished novel, and it was rubbish. In this version, however, the transition between Austen’s last line and Another Lady’s first is seamless. Lines from Austen’s unpublished works are incorporated into the added chapters, which are a delight for avid fans to identify. True, the overall tone is a little sweeter with the romance than Austen allowed in her published works, but the basic plot of a protagonist who learns to know herself and in doing so finds a worthwhile partner remains, and it is hard to resist the deft maneuvering of certain characters – or to scorn the machinations of others.
  4. The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. Sometimes I worry that I talk about the same books too often, but there is no way I can sufficiently emphasize how excellent this series until you, too, read and join the legions of MWT/Gen fans. My local library only had this, the third book in the series, and after months (maybe years) of consideration (should I hope the branch would buy the first and second? but it looked so good! but it was the third in a series – how silly to start there! but I didn’t want to put the first two on hold before I knew I would like them) I borrowed it. I fell in love. The character that is infused into every sentence floors me with every rereading, even now, years later, when I know what will happen and how and why. If you doubt me, read the second chapter (the first is by way of an epilogue, and while it is a wonderful chapter you will probably appreciate the second chapter more, if you haven’t read the first two books) and THEN tell me if you aren’t convinced.
  5. Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden. This was assigned in a class on (post)apocalyptic Canadian literatire. We had just finished Timothy Findley’s The Wars and I had loathed it – full of hateful people and the innocents they hurt – and as both The Wars and Three Day Road are set before, during, and after World War One, I expected another miserable slog. I was entirely wrong. The subject matter is serious (our two protagonists are First Nations people: Niska, who resists assimilation and rescues her nephew, Xavier, and his friend Elijah from abuse at a residential school and neglect at home; and Xavier, who as a young man enlists in the army when Elijah does and returns to Niska, shell-shocked and addicted to morphine), but the three day healing journey is a confirmation of life and the strength of familial love. This was a joy to read.

Yash

  1. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman: Despite being told (repeatedly) that the book had dragons and was awesome, it took me the longest time to pick this one up. When I did though, I couldn’t put it down.
  2. Every Breath by Ellie Marney: I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I accepted that review copy from Tundra Books. Now, it’s one of my favourite crime/romance series. I basically begged my uncle to get me a signed copy of the last book in the trilogy since it’ll probably be out late next year in Canada. (FYI, perfect ending to the series.)
  3. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett: It was, I think, a birthday present. I’m pretty sure it took me a couple of years to get around to it. It is one of my all-time faves.
  4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: I was just being stuck-up about the attention it was receiving and basically avoided it until I had to read it for a class. And then I read the second one (while ignoring the rest of my reading list for class) and … found out I had to wait ages for the third one.
  5. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black: I had a moment of conflict: on the one hand, oh no, vampires again. On the other hand, HOLLY BLACK. Obviously, I made the right decision.
  • Felt equally doubtful about The Hunger Games at first but the moment I finished the first book, I was hooked