Alright, so I couldn’t really decide whether to write my list in accordance to books I expected would be great but weren’t and books I ended up loving more than I thought I would. So for this TTT, I went with a divided split, though I did find that I had a bit of trouble narrowing things down to a 5/5 split. Which meant that this post got longer in the process, and I ultimately decided on 10 books I ended up loving more and 10 books I ended up loving less after having finished them.
Let’s start with the good stuff first.
Ten Books I Loved More Than I Thought I Would
These books were surprisingly good, even when the expectation I had was that I would like them, but not as much as I thought I would.
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch – I tend to watch more science fiction than read them, so occasionally I pick up books that I probably would have preferred to see on television to be able to visualize it better. In the case of Dark Matter, though, the audiobook sufficed, and I totally did love this book more than I thought I would.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – So this one grew on me after a while. Like Dark Matter, I eventually listened to the audiobook and found that I was loving this book. Of course, the television series helped tremendously, but there you have it.
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell – I hadn’t expected Rowell to be the best thing I’d ever read, considering she wasn’t really a fantasy author prior to Carry On. If it hadn’t been for the fact that the book jacket summary hinted at LGBT romance and the Harry Potter wizard trope, I probably would have just passed on this one. Thank goodness I didn’t!
Naked in Death by J.D. Robb – Yeah, normally I watch police procedurals. I don’t really read suspense stuff anymore, but I make occasional exception for Eve and Roarke, because well…they’re just a sexy couple, that’s all.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik – I have raved over this book so many times by now that you’d think this was the type of book I would have loved from the very beginning. To be honest, I was hesitant to pick it up at first because I was not a big fan of Temeraire. Uprooted is, by all means, fantastic.
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks – Another unusual read for me, since this type of book is out of my element. World War Z is an epistolary novel, with interviews and first-hand accounts being the primary narration of the book, which is about–surprise, surprise–zombies. It was highly interesting and I actually loved how the writing style worked for the narration.
Valiant by Sarah McGuire – This was one of my first NetGalley ARCs, and honestly, I didn’t expect much from it, considering. However, after having read it once, then twice, then several scenes a third time, it’s safe to say that I ended up loving this book.
Briar’s Book by Tamora Pierce – As a Tamora Pierce fan, it’s weird to put up one of her books on this list, only because I love all of what I’ve read from the author. That said, because I’ve been so engrossed in Pierce’s Tortallan world, I never really took to her Circle books. I must have read only the first four books from the Circle series, and it was only in Briar’s Book where I finally decided “Well, shit. I need more of this series in my life!”
Hounded by Kevin Hearne – Reminiscent of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, Hounded follows in a similar urban fantasy light, focusing on a man with too much magical know-how yet is struggling to make ends meet in the real world. Humor and stuff. That sort of thing. My first impression of Dresden wasn’t much, but I did love Atticus for some reason.
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins – You’d think a repeat of another Hunger Games scenario would get old. NOPE. If anything, I think I loved that they upped the ante in the sequel of The Hunger Games, and the stakes risked were much bigger and grander, and focused on the bigger picture. This is probably why Catching Fire still stands as my favorite of the trilogy.
Ten Books I Loved Less Than I Thought I Would
To be fair, most–if not all–of the authors on this list have books that I absolutely love. But even so, there are the occasional blips where I thought “Eh, this book was a little disappointing.” And that’s probably due to my mood for the most part, though it’s probably also because I had put their previous works high up on the pedestal (a dangerous thing, but what can I say, I’m not infallible).
The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter – I really couldn’t take to this novel. When I read a Pratchett collaboration, I expect some of his sardonic, often hilarious humor to show through, and this was the case in Gaiman-Pratchett’s Good Omens book. In The Long Earth, I felt the essence of Pratchett to be lacking.
Rebel Genius by Michael Dante DiMartino – Rebel Genius wasn’t a bad read, let me just say that now. It was pretty good, and imaginative, and the pictures helped. However, I couldn’t help but see this as a shadow–maybe even an alternate reality world–of the Avatar universe, and the adventure in the book was drawn out a bit longer than I’d hoped.
Clariel by Garth Nix – I will admit that I had been waiting a while for a book on Chlorr of the Mask to be written. The result wasn’t as fabulous as I’d hoped, because at the end of the day, the story of Clariel doesn’t even explain why she became Chlorr in the first place. Clariel was a bit of a let-down compared to the first three of the Abhorsen books, and while I sometimes did relate to Clariel in a few things, I thought she made for a poor protagonist, even an anti-heroic one at that.
Magi by Shinobu Ohtaka – There are no words to how disappointed I was at this series, particularly because I was so eager to read manga that was inspired by the story of Scheherezade’s 1,001 Nights. And this was a major disappointment.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – I find myself less and less inclined to pick up the second book, because honestly, I stopped being interested in the characters and the world the more I thought about the book. Don’t get me wrong, at the time I was reading Red Queen, I’d been riveted to the action sequences, which were undoubtedly the best parts of the book. But eh, it’s an overhyped series.
A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston – I will admit this was a beautifully written novel, and on the strength of the prose alone, I probably wouldn’t have added this to the list at all. That said, I did feel a disconnect with the characters, and so found myself a little disappointed at how the plot went down.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – Same as A Thousand Nights, really. The main characters and the main plot were not very interesting, and I found myself only enjoying this book when I started treating scenes as short stories. Nicely written, though.
Pegasus by Robin McKinley – Alright, Robin McKinley is an author I have long admired ever since I’d read The Hero and the Crown. Since then I’ve read a bunch of her books and loved them almost as equally (Deerskin was just…omgah amazing). Pegasus was a major exception, unfortunately. I will still read more McKinley, though, because one meh book doesn’t mean anything when I’ve loved most of her repertoire.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan – I put too much expectation off a short story, which I probably shouldn’t have. That all said, this book was pretty disappointing once I finally did get to it.
Servant of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts – Now. Let me tell you how much I loved Daughter of the Empire. I loved it so much that it constantly made my top ten lists for many different reasons. It was such a great novel, with a Japanese-inspired female as the protagonist, in a time period where this barely happened. But then it got followed up by Servant of the Empire, which drove me nuts, because then they threw in some basic Felicia (well, his name wasn’t actually Felicia…) who ends up wooing quite possibly the most calculatingly badass female of Tsuranuanni. And ugh, where was Arakasi the whole time. Yeah, I liked it, but I was loving the first book much better, really.