Recent Surprising Reads: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

It's time for Top Ten Tuesday and this weeks topic is:

Recent Books I Loved More or Less Than I Thought I Would

YAY!!! I like this weeks topic because it lets me do two of my favourite things:

1. Gush about those books that blew me away and I loved.
2. Moan excessively about horrible disappointing books that did not live up to my expectations.

Who doesn't love a good moan every now and then! I have decided to stick to recent reads, so those read within the last few months.

Phantom LimbsLoved More Than Expected

Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner

I didn't really know what to expect from Phantom Limbs. it was a review copy sent over by Walker. I knew it was a contemporary YA novel, and I am a very big contemporary fan. This book follows Otis, who tragically lost his younger brother three years ago, straight after his neighbour, best friend and first love Meg also moved away. Now she's coming back and he doesn't know what it means for them, he has never got over her but they are both different people to who they were three years ago, the tragedy has changed them both in different ways. It was a beautiful and moving story, I absolutely loved it and was happily surprised by it. I am now counting down the days till her next release, which is over a year away. If you are a fan of contemporary YA then I highly recommend this.
Letters to the Lost
Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

I realise already that all the books that pleasantly surprised me are YA contemporary books, what can I say, I love them. I was very unsure of this book before I read it, I had tried the author in the past and her book just didn't work for me. I am so glad I took a chance on it, I ended up absolutely loving the story. It follows Juliet, who lost her mother in a car crash and has been leaving letters on her grave as a way to talk to her. She doesn't expect anyone to ever read them, let alone reply. But Declan does, he feels her connection to her and the guilt and grief she feels. It is another contemporary YA dealing with grief and it is soooooooo good. Soooooo good!!! I loved the characters, I loved the romance, I loved the complex relationships between characters.

Stargazing For BeginnersStargazing for Beginners by Jenny McLachlan

I read the first three books in Jenny McLachlan's Ladybirds series and enjoyed them all. They were fun, easy, contemporary romance reads aimed at a younger YA audience and they were a lot of fun. I expected to enjoy Stargazing for Beginners, I was surprised to find that I absolutely loved it. It is another YA contemp that seems perfect for a younger YA audience, but anyone will love and enjoy it. This book was so adorably cute, especially when it came to the romance, it was almost too much to handle. It jas epmfrtg
Margot & Me

Margot & Me by Juno Dawson

I have read a lot of Juno Dawsons books, and I have enjoyed them all for the most part but never been blown away by them. Margot & Me is definitely the best book Juno Dawson has wrote so far, I really loved this book. It's an emotional and moving book, it sucked me into the story completely and I wasn't able to put it down. We follow Fliss, a fashion forward teen from the city, as she moves to a rural Welsh town, on to her grandmother's farm. It is set in the 90s, but we also get diary entries from her grandmothers diary of her time during the war. It is about family secrets, romance and seeing how our experiences change us. The diary entries transported me back and explored so many issues of the time -homophobia, racism, as well as the every day struggles of living during war time. Superb book, highly recommend.

Wing JonesWing Jones by Katherine Webber

Wing Jones is another book set in the 90s, this time set in the South of the US. It follows Wing Jones, a girl who has never felt like she belonged. She has Ghanaian and Chinese heritage, it has always set her apart from everyone else around her. I loved Wing as a character, she wasn't looking to change who she was as a person. When her family suffer a tragedy, she finds a talent for running she never knew she had. It proves to be the perfect distraction, as well as being the answer to some of her families problems. I loved the writing, I loved the characters, I loved the story and I loved the slow build romance. You can read a full review here.

Done Dirt CheapLoved Less Than Expected

Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon

I was so excited to read Done Dirt Cheap, it was pitched as a young adult Thelma & Louise meets Sons of Anarchy, which just sounded awesome. Sadly, I did not enjoy this at all and I appear to be the odd one out - it has so many 4 and 5 star reviews on Goodreads. I think my biggest problem with the book was the writing, and it wasn't even that it was bad it just didn't work for me. It didn't pull me into the story, it didn't connect me to the characters. There were two POVs in this and there wasn't enough to distinguish between the two of them.

By Your SideBy Your Side by Kasie West

Now By Your Side wasn't a terrible read, it was just very disappointing considering how much I love Kasie Wests books. It was pitched as a locked in a library story, which it very much wasn't as that only made up about 35% of the book. Plus the characters didn't appreciate the awesomeness of being locked in a library. Also, as someone who has worked in libraries for 7 years now, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the whole locked in situation would never have happened like that - it was so unrealistic. The romance was okay, it was adorable and there was one brilliant kiss but there wasn't enough. This just wasn't as good as I would have expected from West.
RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

RoseBlood is one of those books where the more I think about it, the worse it gets. Quite honestly, it has to be one of the most ridiculous books I have ever read. It made almost no sense, and has one of those storylines that just seems more and more stupid the more you think on it. I can't even describe this story. All I can say is this: PSYCHIC VAMPIRES! Urgh, really. You take amazing source material like The Phantom of the Opera and that is what you come up with. Nope, no, nope. It was terrible. Awful in every sense of the word. You can read my full review here.
It Ends with Us
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

I have mentioned many times that Colleen Hoover is one of only a few new adult authors whose books I will actually read. I love her characters, I just connect with them so easily. I love her romance, it doesn't get too cheesy. She also seemed to avoid some of the usual NA tropes that I hate. She went on to hit almost all of them here and I didn't like it. The most utterly awful of them being all the tragic back stories she had to give to almost every single character. It was not okay. Plus the first male lead I didn't care for at all, even before the story progressed. My favourite character was the guy from her past, he was the best and I shipped him the whole time. But overall this was not the usual CoHo book, it was just missing everything I love about her books.
The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2)
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

I really enjoyed The Raven Boys, I could understand why so many people recommend this series. So I was quite excited to read the sequel, especially since it focuses on Ronan and he is one of my favourite characters. But, to me, this book was horribly disappointing and made me want to not bother continuing. The main problem was that it seemed to have almost zero plot. It didn't really progress the story much, it seemed more of a filler book. I just was expecting so much more from this series and this book. You can read my full review here.

What recent books disappointed you or surprised you in a good way?


  1. Dream Thieves is definitely my least favorite of the stories, it's very slow paced and there's zero plot! but the series in general IS very slow paced and relies more on the characters, so while it is my least favorite, I'm still curious enough to continue :D

    Tasya // The Literary Huntress

  2. Stargazing for beginners, that's a neat title. :) Sorry to hear dream thieves was disappointing!

  3. I've heard in a lot of people say they were disappointed by 'by your side'. I just read the fill in boyfriend and wasn't impressed by it. I still want to read her other books but it's not got off to a good start...

  4. I just got RoseBlood in an Owlcrate box and I am hoping that its better than I expect it to be, but I don't really have very high expectations.

  5. So many great book covers on your list! I'm a sucker for a great cover. Oh, and I noticed that for the first book the author is Paula Garner and you have Jennifer Garner listed, just thought I would point it out. Not trying to be rude by pointing it out, just helpful. I do that kind of stuff all the time. I've seen a lot of negative reviews about Roseblood, and a lot of people said By Your Side wasn't Kasie West's best work either. I haven't gotten a chance to read anything by Kasie West yet, but I hope to soon! I've also never read anything by Colleen Hoover. Great list! Hope you have a great week!

  6. I've seen lots of meh reviews for Roseblood and it's gotten me a little nervous since I plan on reading Splintered by the same author soon. Raven Boys is also on my list of books so I'm thinking I should go into Dream Thieves with low expectations. Great list!

  7. I actually liked Dream Thieves but I know I'm one of the few!
    My TTT:

  8. Ooh--RoseBlood should have been on my list of disappointments. I was really hoping to love it and I definitely didn't. :-(

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  9. I'm glad I'm not alone in thinking By Your Side was a complete mess!! I mean, HOW could she be locked in a library like that??! Although tbh I didn't see her trying computers or phones so...maybe she didn't really want to get out.😂 And I can't believe she didn't even read! Like what was the point? I would've laid around reading all weekend and been so happy in that situation. :') Or, well, maybe not happy without snacks haha.😂

  10. It sounds like you and contemporary are doing incredibly well lately! I am glad you've been able to enjoy it so much. They all sound like some really lovely books. I actually haven't heard very positive things about Roseblood. So even though the cover is gorgeous, I think that's one I'll be avoiding.

  11. Oh the Dream Thieves....I did love this series and I was lucky enough to have marathoned them. I read book 1 when it came out then as Raven King came out I had to re-read because it had been forever then I went through them quickly so they all flowed so beautifully together for me but look at them individually I can kind of see your point in that it didn't advance the overall plot as much as the other books and focused more on the characters, specifically Ronan. But I still loved it, sorry it let you down I hope you enjoyed the rest of the series.


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