Top Ten Books I Loved Less Than I Thought I Would


Hello and happy Top Ten Tuesday, you guys! This week’s theme is books you loved more/less than you thought you would, so… I decided to go with less, just because this happens quite a bit more often than the reverse (unfortunately). 😂

Here we go! ✨

1) Caraval – Stephanie Garber

caraval-stephanie-garberScarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.

Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.

When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.

RATING: ★★★☆☆

THOUGHTS: Magical, but overall kind of forgettable. Too much deus ex machina for me to enjoy and get behind. Also, insta-love. 😞

2) Openly Straight – Bill Konigsberg

openly-straight-bill-konigsbergRafe is a normal teenager from Boulder, Colorado. He plays soccer. He’s won skiing prizes. He likes to write.

And, oh yeah, he’s gay. He’s been out since 8th grade, and he isn’t teased, and he goes to other high schools and talks about tolerance and stuff. And while that’s important, all Rafe really wants is to just be a regular guy. Not that GAY guy. To have it be a part of who he is, but not the headline, every single time.

So when he transfers to an all-boys’ boarding school in New England, he decides to keep his sexuality a secret — not so much going back in the closet as starting over with a clean slate. But then he sees a classmate break down. He meets a teacher who challenges him to write his story. And most of all, he falls in love with Ben… who doesn’t even know that love is possible.

RATING: ★★☆☆☆

THOUGHTS: Great premise, problematic execution. Also kind of boring. 💁

3) The Scorpio Races – Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio Races Maggie StiefvaterIt happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

RATING: ★★☆☆☆

THOUGHTS: I buddy read this book with the lovely Sara @ Freadom Library and Estefani @ Fiction Jungle and heeey, what do you know? I’m the black sheep for this one! I thought the plot was sluggish and the characters were kind of dull. 😐

4) The Crown’s Game – Evelyn Skye

The Crown's Game Evelyn SkyeVika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

RATING: ★★☆☆☆

THOUGHTS: Really, really interesting premise that’s potentially similar to The Night Circus (which I haven’t read), but ultimately empty and forgettable and unremarkable. Also has insta-love. 🙈

5) Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here – Anna Breslaw

Scarlett Epstein Hates It HereMeet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her weed-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.

When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. And if they ever find out what Scarlett truly thinks about them, she’ll be thrust into a situation far more dramatic than anything she’s ever seen on TV…

RATING: ★★☆☆☆

THOUGHTS: Loved the references to fandom and fanfiction, but found the characters so unlikeable and infuriating, I just didn’t enjoy it. 😭

6) Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas

Throne_of_Glass_UKMeet Celaena Sardothien. Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.

In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake. She got caught.

Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament—fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted? (less)

RATING: ★☆☆☆☆

THOUGHTS: SJM’s works and I don’t really get along, and after the hype Throne of Glass has gotten, I was sorely disappointed. I didn’t really like Celaena and I think it bled through pretty much everything else. 🙉

7) The Next Together – Lauren James

The Next TogetherKatherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again, century after century. Each time, their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated.

Spanning the Crimean War, the Siege of Carlisle and the near-future of 2019 and 2039 they find themselves sacrificing their lives to save the world. But why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace?

Maybe the next together will be different…

RATING: ★☆☆☆☆

THOUGHTS: The idea was amazing but writing and characters didn’t really do it for me. Such a shame, because again… that idea was amazing. 😫

8) Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Laini TaylorAround the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

RATING: ★★★☆☆

THOUGHTS: This book is super hyped (I think) and while the writing was beautiful and the world-building commendable, the characters and romance didn’t really work for me. I suppose it’s one of those things where the trope — insta-love, again — just isn’t for me no matter the circumstances. 🙃

9) Three Dark Crowns – Kendare Blake

Three Dark Crowns Kendare BlakeIn every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown, all possessed of a coveted magic.

Mirabella, a fierce elemental, can spark hungry flames with the click of a finger. Katharine, a poisoner, is known to be resistant to the deadliest of snake bites. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is rumoured to have the ability to bloom the reddest of roses.

But becoming the Queen Crowned is not just a matter of royal birth. These three sisters must fight to the death for the throne, and on the night they turn sixteen the battle begins. Only one queen can inherit the crown.

RATING: ★★★☆☆

THOUGHTS: I was really, really, really excited for this book — I love fights to the death and the idea that sisters get to do it? Awesome! But then the book came and… nothing happened. I still think the series has potential, but as a book this one was really more of a setup than an actual book, if that makes sense. 🤔

10) Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Saenz

Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire SaenzAristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common.

But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

RATING: ★★★☆☆

THOUGHTS: Loved the idea and enjoyed the execution, but ultimately, the writing was very distant to me and made me feel rather disconnected from the characters. What was supposed to be an emotional read fell flat on that front. 😶

What’s on your TTT this week? Leave me a link or let me know in the comments! 💓

89 thoughts on “Top Ten Books I Loved Less Than I Thought I Would

  1. I kind of feel like the black sheep for not having read the ToG series at all, but…after knowing how you felt about it, I don’t’ really feel like I am missing out on this much…I don’t know if this would be a book I love ahah.
    I want to read more of Stiefvater’s work, but I’m not sure if I’ll read that one now ahah. Lovely list, Reg! 🙂


  2. Unfortunately I have to agree with Three Dark Crowns and The Next Together. The ideas were sooo good, but then it just did not hold up when I actually read it at all. It made me so sad, but I am going to try the sequels nonetheless.


  3. My experience of Daughter of Smoke and Bone was exactly the same. I wanted to love that book so badly. Even as I was reading it I was thinking about how much I SHOULD love it. Like you say, the writing is beautiful and the world building was just great but the characters… so boring. After the first 3 chapters it totally lost me. Every now and then I think to myself that I should continue with the series and then I remember that I can’t be bothered.

    I remember reading Shiver (maybe not that one. But I am confident there were werewolves) by Maggie Stiefvater back in high school and thinking it was garbage. For that reason I didn’t read The Raven Cycle for ages (I just finished Blue Lily, Lily Blue and am IN LOVE with the series now). But now I am way too scared to read any of her other books. What if The Raven Cycle was just a fluke? I don’t want to read anything that’ll make me feel differently about the series. Is this just crazy or do other people find this as well?


    • I actually finished DoSaB but would agree with what you said – the characters just aren’t that engaging at all, especially after the romance kicks in and it’s all about… insta-attraction.

      I think if you’re into Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style and don’t mind a sloooow build-up, you’d be into her newer works (though TRC is probably her newest). She’s writing a series for Ronan now I believe and while I love TRC I’ve no idea if I want to read that Ronan series. I’m more afraid that too much of a good thing makes it, you know, bad. :/

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hate it when you have higher expectations for a book! By the way I’ve nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger award so check out the post on my page if you’d like to take part 🙂


  5. Great list and I completely know what you mean. Well I am still about to read caraval so I will let you know what i think but the hype is always a bit over the top.
    I started 3 dark crowns but put it down as I got a bit bored. I loved Daughter of smoke and bone and i think i even gave it a lovely 5 star review. I think i was in it for the wold building and the writing. The roance was a bit meh! but i hope book 2 will give more. Would you read book 2?


    • I hope you like Caraval better than I did! I think to some people it really lived up to the hype, but it has some tropes that aren’t really my style, so for me it missed the jackpot.

      Three Dark Crowns took FOREVER for me to love as well – it just wasn’t as engaging as the blurb makes it sound like. And as for DoSaB, the world-building and the writing were both beautiful, but the romance made it impossible for me to enjoy. I don’t think I will read Book 2, unfortunately… will you?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am going to attempt 3 dark crowns again. Hopefully i will get past the halfway mark. And yes I will read book to of the DoSaB series. i want to go down that rabbit hole and see if its a rainbow on the other side.


        • Good luck! I don’t think you need to push yourself to read books you’re not into, but I gotta say that TDC and DoSaB both have potential (especially DoSaB – I think most people like the series). 😛


  6. Nooooo. My heart. LOL. I really enjoyed some of these (Caraval, Daughter, and The Scorpio Races) but I completely understand you view on them. I agree that instal-love is such a problematic trend in YA that needs to get gone. I wish there were more slow-burn relationships, tbh. But I completely agree with you on ToG. I was NOT impressed with the first book and I severely disliked Celaena’s character. BUT I recently read the second book and thought that it was a vast improvement over the first which I thought was a 2-3 star read. I heard the series gets better from further in but I’m keeping my expectations low just in case LOL.


    • Haha, I know! Some of these are popular releases, what was I thinking? 😂

      Incidentally, Crown of Midnight is also my favourite ToG book… but for me then the rest of the series were also as frustrating as ToG, haha. I appreciate how popular SJM is but her characters/romances just tend to not work with me at all. 🙈

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh no, it’s completely understandable. Not all popular books sit right with everyone. I mean, I REALLY did not like Shatter Me or Everything, Everything even though so many people seem to love them 😦
        Oh really?! That’s interesting! I’m not on board for all her relationships in ToG so far (which isn’t saying much because there’s just Dorian and Chaol by the 2nd book), but I DO love Feyre and Rhys. They’re a power couple I can support lol


        • I have not read Shatter Me, actually, but the writing doesn’t seem to be my thing. As for EE… I actually enjoyed it somewhat but it has some very obvious flaws. 🤔

          I haven’t read ACOTAR so I can’t say, but I must confess I’m more a Chaol/Celaena shipper than anything else in that series! But tbh I jut don’t care enough for any of the characters, so it really doesn’t matter. 🙈

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Checking this out a lil late. Seems he have a common dislike for insta-love. The only one I’ve read from this list is Laini Taylor…I enjoyed it if you eliminated the insta-love. Seems I have bad luck with fave characters since my fave was killed off by the end of the book 😑


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