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Top Ten Tuesday: Books that surprised me

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that surprised me

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish, but was recently relocated to That Artsy Reader Girl

I read a lot of books which surprise me in a bad way, so this week I challenged myself to think of ten books which surprised me in a good way. These are books which lived up to the hype, completely demolished the expectations I had of them or made me fall head over heels in love when I thought I was going to feel ambivalent towards them.

10) The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black cover

I’ve read a lot of Black’s books in the past, but they’ve all been forgettable and haven’t had much of an impact on me. However, The Cruel Prince blew me away. I’d seen a lot of people raving about it and didn’t think it would live up to the hype, but it surpassed it. I’ve got a feeling it’s going to remain one of the best books I read in 2018.

9) Saga by Brian K. Vaughan

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan

I like graphic novels, but I’ve never been emotionally invested in a series before. In fact, I read most of the volumes of Saga consecutively, unable to put them down and desperate to know what was going on with the characters. Unfortunately my local library doesn’t have the newest volume in stock and I can’t afford to purchase it, so I’m going to have to wait for a while to see what happens next!

8) Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

I’ve mentioned this a lot in the past, but I’ve never been the biggest sci-fi fan so I was more shocked than anyone when I fell in love with the world of Red Rising. The first novel feels closer to a YA dystopian, so it was the perfect gateway drug to a series which rapidly grew into epic proportions.

7) The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

The main reason I picked up The Smell of Other People’s Houses was because one of the characters shared my unusual spelling of Alyce. It was the first time I’d encountered that in a YA novel, and it overexcited me! I didn’t have any expectations of the book at all, because I had no idea what it was about, but it’s probably one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. There are multiple perspectives which tell individual stories but are all seamlessly woven together: it’s like a collection of short stories and a novel all at once!

6) Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

Carve The Mark by Veronica Roth

There was some controversy surrounding Carve the Mark when it was released, and I only borrowed it from the library because I wanted to make my own mind up about it. I ended up really enjoying it, and I’m looking forward to carrying on with the series. It’s far better than the Divergent trilogy, and you can tell that Veronica Roth has focused on developing her writing since her success.

5) Girl Online: Going Solo by Zoella

Girl Online Going Solo by Zoe Sugg

I didn’t particularly enjoy either of the first two Girl Online books, but because I managed to read them so quickly and they were quite fun I thought I’d give the third volume a go and finish the trilogy off. However, I ended up enjoying it more than most YA contemporary novels I’ve read, which I definitely didn’t expect!

4) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

The first time I read Frankenstein I was a lot younger and it bored me to tears. How could a book so short feel so endless?! However, I had to reread Frankenstein at the end of 2017 for my university course, and I enjoyed it so much more the second (and third) times around. That was a lovely surprise – I thought I was going to hate studying it, but it ended up being a lot of fun!

3) The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui by Bertolt Brecht

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui by Bertolt Brecht

Another one of the titles that I had to study for my university course and ended up really enjoying. I’ve never been a huge fan of reading and studying plays, but Bertolt Brecht’s tongue-in-cheek portrayal of Hitler was hilarious!

2) Crongton Knights by Alex Wheatle

Crongton Knights by Alex Wheatle

Crongton Knights was shortlisted for the YA Book Prize last year, and I wrongly assumed that I was going to hate it. It sounded like a real laddish book, and I’m not normally a fan of titles like that… But it actually modernises the traditional quest plot, and it’s so much fun.

1) Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume

Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume

I was drawn to this one because there was a dog on the cover. I know, I know, not the best reason to pick a book up… But Sara Baume’s writing is utterly captivating, and it even caused me to shed a few tears. There haven’t been many literary novels which have tugged on my heartstrings, but Spill Simmer Falter Wither is flawless.


If you’re interested in purchasing any of these books, please consider using my Amazon Affiliate link (found in the book’s title). If you’d like to read more about each book, please click on its cover: you’ll be redirected to their Goodreads page.


I hope you enjoyed this Top Ten Tuesday! What’s the most surprising book you’ve ever read?



  • I really need to pick up that Bertold Brecht book, it sounds like it’s worth a read and it’s been a while since I picked up a German classic. I’ve still not read Frankenstein but I probably should! Agreed on Saga and Red Rising!

    • I can’t recommend it enough! When I learnt that it was a play about Hitler I thought I was going to hate it – I’ve been inundated with World War II since primary school – but I couldn’t stop myself from laughing out loud at so many points! I really want to go and see it on the stage, because I think that would only make it better.

      • As a Swiss I didn’t quite get as inundated as German folks but yes I’ve got my fair share of Hitler so I totally understand that. I’ll pick it up 🙂

  • Ahhh the more I see people talk about The Cruel Prince, the more I want to read it. But I don’t usually like Fae books so I’m scared I’ll be a black sheep and hate it. XD

    • I’ve never liked a fae book THIS MUCH before (in fact, I normally find them pretty forgettable!). I think it helps that the protagonist is human, so she’s the odd one out and there’s a lot of internal conflict about growing up in a world where you’re an outsider.

  • Barb(Boxermommyreads)

    So I own Spill Simmer Falter Wither and yes, I bought it because of the dog as well. I read The Cruel Prince last month and didn’t love it as much as many people. It was still a solid read though and I do want to know how it continues on so I will likely pick up the next one!

    • You definitely make me feel a lot better about grabbing books that have dogs on the covers 😛 It’s a shame that you didn’t love The Cruel Prince, but hopefully the series will keep getting stronger and you’ll be in love with it by the end!

  • Greg Hill

    The Cruel Prince does sound really good from the reviews I’ve seen.

  • Ash

    Saga is so good! One of my co-workers gave it to me, so I can read it and i loved it.
    Frankenstein was also surprisingly good.
    Those are the only two on the list I’ve read…

    Here’s our tuesday posts:

    Teaser Tuesday:

    • My mum bought me the first installment for my birthday, but I read the rest out of the library. Definitely planning to invest in buying them one day, though, because I already want to reread them!

  • The Smell Of Other People’s Houses really interests me. I love that title.

    • Isn’t it so beautifully evocative? So simple, yet it brings the smells of many of my friends houses to the forefront of my mind and reminds me of great memories.

  • Jo Elliott

    I’ve seen a lot of hype about The Cruel Prince, maybe I should check it out?
    My TTT:

    • DO IT! You definitely will not regret it.

  • The Cruel Prince really impressed me too.

  • Amy

    Oddly, I liked Girl Online one and two, but thought the third was much weaker! Looking forward to getting to Alex Wheatle’s books on my TBR.
    Amy xx

    • That’s so funny! I’m actually tempted to reread them, but I know I REALLY didn’t like book one…

  • I’ve heard Holly’s book is amazing! It shows up on a lot of others lists, and as reviews, too. Perhaps someday I’ll give it a chance. I’ve not read any of her novels, but do know she’s a popular author. As for Veronica’s book. I’m pretty sure I’m skipping over that one. I picked up a copy when it released, but have kind of lost interesting. Still… never say never. 😀

    Thanks so much for visiting Finding Wonderland, Alyce.

    • I’ve read nearly all of Holly’s books, but The Cruel Prince is both the one I enjoyed the most and the most memorable of all. If you’re going to start somewhere, start here!

  • The Cruel Prince is easily one of my favorite reads of the year already as well. It was amazing and I can’t wait for The Wicked King!

    • Neither can I! I just can’t wait to see where Holly takes the series next, and I’m so invested in all of the characters at this point.

  • Destiny @ Howling Libraries

    The Cruel Prince was so good! I’m glad you enjoyed it, and the Saga graphic novels.