Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Loved Less/More Than I Thought

February 21, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the prompt is books I loved more/less than I thought I would. I spent a lot of time deciding which way to turn–Do I pick the books I loved the most? Or the books upon which the hype burned me? Indecisively, I instead decided to break this down the middle with 5 for each option. I’m a wonderful cheater. 😀

All titles below are links to Goodreads. Below each description you can find links to my reviews, should they exist.


5 Books I Loved Less Than I Thought I Would

Ugh. Nothing worse than reading a book and finding you just can’t get into it. This happens to me more often than I’d care to admit. Particularly when it comes to hyped books! Mostly, I just avoid hyped books. But, that said, I can’t always escape it.

The following books didn’t quite work out for me, in no particular order:

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

I was super excited to pick up the first graphic novel ever to be nominated for a National Book Award. It’s a beautiful graphic novel, and I adore graphic novels. But it didn’t click for me. I’m ashamed to admit I couldn’t connect to it at all. I struggled to follow the formatting and the story. I definitely plan on revisiting this book again in the future, though! I have a feeling that a more expereinced and well-read Jackie B will better appreciate this beautiful graphic novel.

You can read my review here.


The Diviners by Libba Bray

Ugh. The Diviners. I had never read anything by Libba Bray, but she came highly recommended as an author. This was 578 pages of bloated and vague text. It wasn’t until the halfway point that the “subplot” I thought we were focusing on far too much was the real plot. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. One star. Forever.

You can review here.


The Gunslinger by Stephen King

One of my very few 1 star reviews, I had high hopes going into my first Stephen King novel. Dark fantasy/Western? Yes, please! I adore science-fiction/westerns, so I figured this would be in my wheelhouse. Boy, was I surprised! I felt lost. Thrown into the world with no explanations, world-building, consistent themes, or even character development… I was done with this series after book one.

You can read my review here.


One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

Many of my friends had recommended the Stephanie Plum series to me in the past. Looking back, none of them were my bookish friends. That should have been the first flag. But, I went in expecting a fun chick lit/mystery romp. Instead, I ended up laughing only a handful of times throughout a book which eventually gave me nightmares. Pass.

You can read my review here.


A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Oh man. Where do I even start with this book? Heck, this whole series?! I read A Game of Thrones all the way through. I barely connected with any of the characters. I was confused with how large the cast was and felt like I never got to know any of them. I didn’t feel like we had much of a plot. Life was just happening, and so was plotting. There was all sorts of potential foreshadowing and there were so many great allusions which never came to pass. I read about 60 pages of book two and decided that I felt the author didn’t care about his characters, which was why I didn’t. So I put it down and never went back.

It’s okay. You can berate me in the comments. I am ready.


5 Books I Loved More Than I Thought I Would

Whew! After all that negativity let’s get into the positive! There are many books I was surprised I enjoyed as much as I did reading them. I try not to go into reading with preconceived notions. But sometimes… well, we all make assumptions sometimes. Actually, most of these books came from surprising sources; NetGalley, Bookbub, or a friend who traditionally I don’t agree with on books. A surprising number of these books were read before Death by Tsundoku existed! So, no reviews for a few of these.

It was hard to narrow down the list, but in no particular order:

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Reading the blurb for The One and Only Ivan, I wasn’t impressed. But it won the Newbery and was a book club book. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up late and tried to read this all in one sitting. A moving middle-grade novel, I recommend this to everyone. Just bring tissues.


Division of the Marked by March McCarron

Division of the Marked is a debut novel for March McCarron, and I received a copy free through the magic of Bookbub. This was the first time I found a free book which I fell in love with. No, it isn’t a perfect novel. But it’s a fascinating fantasy tale with a unique magic system, well-developed characters, and a mysterious plot which will always keep you guessing. Plus, I laughed aloud at many of the lines. Brilliant writing. I can’t wait for the final book to be released!


What’s A Soulmate? by Lindsey Ouimet

For any of you following my blog, you might know this was the hidden gem for 2016 for me. I was blown away by the world building Ouimet presented the reader with. I am not really into contemporaries or romance, but the magical realism and character development sold me. A wonderful, fun, light novel I would recommend to lovers of any of the aforementioned genres.

You can read my review here.

You can read my interview with Lindsay Ouimet here.


At Home with Madhur Jaffrey by Madhur Jaffrey

My other half and I started checking cookbooks out from the library recently. We are using this to identify how we want to build out own cookbook library. Wow. I have never seen Indian food presented in such an accessible way. This is now a go-to book for us. We use this cookbook more than any other in our kitchen.

You can read my review here.


The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern

The book which started it all. I picked up The Night Circus for a new book club. I didn’t know anyone there, I had never even heard of this book. I had minimal expectations if any. And boom. Suddenly I am introduced to magical realism! A brilliant story with brilliant characters and a mysterious plot– I recommend this book to anyone interested in fantasy, historical fiction, or magical realism. When I finished this book, I closed the back cover and just sat. I just experienced how the book made me feel. I was completely sated, like I had just eaten the best meal of my life. And I knew I needed more.

You can read my Goodreads review here.

What do you think?

  • What books were you hyped for which let you down?
  • What books have surprised you with how much you enjoyed them?
  • Do you participate in Top Ten Tuesday? If so, cross-post below!


  • Resh Susan @ The Book Satchel February 21, 2017 at 9:12 am

    Most of the books are unread for me. I have read Night Circus and I loved it lesser than I thought I would. I loved the magic but the ending did not appeal much to me

    • Jackie B February 21, 2017 at 10:18 am

      The ending of The Night Circus seems to be pretty hit-or-miss for people. I am always careful about who I recommend that book to for that reason. Plus, magical realism isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

      I’m glad that you don’t know most of these books! I wanted to pick books which were lesser known to try and get them out there. I apparently did my job well. 🙂

  • MyBookJacket February 21, 2017 at 9:17 am

    Oh wow, I can’t believe there’s an Indian cookbook in her. Though by her name I’m assuming it’ all north Indian food? Do let me know how you enjoy the recipes!

    • Jackie B February 21, 2017 at 10:31 am

      Jaffrey was born in Bahadur, however she has also lived in Delhi, New York, and currently in London.

      But, this cookbook has a wide variety of food in it. She has recipes from all over India as well as Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. I adore this cookbook and I haven’t found a recipe I disliked yet. Our household staples are her chicken vindaloo, goan-style chicken moelho, salmon in Bengali mustard sauce, and yogurt with pineapple. Yum!

      Any other cookbooks you’d recommend?

  • AvalinahsBooks February 21, 2017 at 9:43 am

    Some of the ones you loved sound really good. I’ll have to check them out! Maybe you’re just selling them really well 😀 haha

    • Jackie B February 21, 2017 at 11:56 am

      Thanks! That’s quite a compliment! I’m glad my passion for them has come through. 🙂

  • Rebecca February 21, 2017 at 10:33 am

    I was very hopeful with The Night Circus and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s one of my all-time favs. Love that book!
    Rebecca @ The Portsmouth Review
    Follow me on Bloglovin’

    • Jackie B February 21, 2017 at 12:38 pm

      Yay! It makes me so happy to know I’m not alone! I know it requires a particular kind of reader to appreciate that ending, too. 🙂

  • Danielle February 21, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    Sorry to see GoT and The Gunslinger on the list. Of coirse you know how I feel about GoT Now the Gunslinger has been too many years. Maybe time to reasses at this point.

    Happy though the The Night Circus (a personal favorite) passed the test!

    Enjoy how you divided this one up. Very nice approach!

    • Jackie B February 21, 2017 at 7:41 pm

      Sorry, Danielle! I knew at *least* you would call me out on GoT and the Dark Tower. I’ve recently been told that The Dark Tower series is amazing for people who are fluent in King’s works. Unfortunately, I am not. And I probably never will be — I just can’t do horror/thriller. Nightmares. O_o

      Thanks for the props. 🙂 I just couldn’t leave The Night Circus out!

  • icebreaker694 February 21, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    The cover for Soulmate is gorgeous! I love that cover! I’ve never heard of it before, but now I want to see what it’s about! I also really want to read The Night Circus!!! I have been wanting to for a long time actually, I’m so glad you liked it! Great list!

    • Jackie B February 22, 2017 at 9:35 am

      Thanks! What’s A Soulmate? was one of my favorite reads of 2016. I hope that you read it and love it too! Oh man, The Night Circus. It’s amazing. I hope that you enjoy it. Do you enjoy magical realism?

      • icebreaker694 February 22, 2017 at 12:21 pm

        I haven’t seen anything with a lot of magic realism but I do like it!

        • Jackie B February 22, 2017 at 1:51 pm

          Then I would definitely recommend it. 😀

  • Anna @MyBookishDream February 21, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    Too bad that you didn’t enjoy The Diviners. I read it years ago and remember liking it quiet a bit. Though I really don’t remember much of the plot anymore. I just know that I read it while I was recovering from an operation…so I’m not sure how clear my thoughts were when I was reading it! 😀
    I love the Game of Thrones books (or I do the two that I read), but I can really see how people wouldn’t enjoy it. I don’t really think that series is for everyone. I plan on continuing the series some time soon, so we shall see if I’ll continue loving it.
    I’m VERY happy to see The Night Circus on your list! It’s one of my all time favourite books after all. I adored everything about it. And the writing style of Erin Morgenstern is simply wonderful. I hope she comes out with a new book some time in the future, I really need more of her writing. 🙂

    • Jackie B February 22, 2017 at 9:50 am

      Oh man, you read The Diviners while recovering? I imagine that strong pain relievers would have made it a bit scarier than it was, for sure!
      I hope that you do continue to love GoT. While it might not be for me, I definitely wish for the best anytime someone commits to a book over 400 pages. O_o
      I really hope Erin Morgenstern comes out with another book, too!!! She swears the world of the Night Circus is over and done with… that said, I still want more. 😀 Even if she writes a book in a completely different world, I’m certain I’ll adore it. Her writing style just speaks to me. Did you know that The Night Circus was a successful NaNoWriMo novel?! That’s even more impressive to me.

      • Anna @MyBookishDream February 22, 2017 at 2:30 pm

        Yeah, I think the pain relievers made the story scarier than it actually was. That’s why I’m really unsure what I actually thought of the book!
        Thank you! Getting through the next GoT book is going to take me a while, but I will do it somehow.
        I didn’t know that! That’s seriously amazing, writing such a wonderful book during NaNoWriMo. I’m even more impressed as well.

        • Jackie B February 23, 2017 at 4:55 pm

          Good luck getting through the next GoT book! I hope they just keep getting better for you. 😀

  • Shouni February 21, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Oh man, I feel like I hear about the Night Circus everywhere I turn. I really need to read that book soon. I also need to read “What’s a Soul Mate” since you love it so much. I felt the same way about “The Diviner”, I couldn’t finish the book because I never got invested in the story. Oh my gosh, a good South Asian cookbook in English? Those are super rare!

    • Jackie B February 22, 2017 at 9:47 am

      You definitely should read The Night Circus if you are considering it, Shouni! It’s one of my favorite books of all time. But, it’s heavy with the magical realism. Do you like that? I know it puts some people off, for sure. There is some of that in What’s a Soulmate? but it’s much milder. If you like contemporary literature, I think you’ll really enjoy it.

      I’m so glad that I’m not alone when it comes to The Diviners! It has a lot going for it, but I feel like the execution was off… Oh well. We can’t win them all, right?

      • Shouni February 22, 2017 at 8:19 pm

        I love magical realism! I just haven’t come across it too often but the ones I have read are some of my favorite books. I’m starting to like contemporary more and more so there’s a high hope. I added it to my TBR!

        No, we really can’t win with them all. It’s quite tragic 😀

  • hopewellslibraryoflife February 21, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Stephanie Plum series got off to a really dark start. It gets much livelier as the series goes on.

    • Jackie B February 22, 2017 at 9:09 am

      That’s good to know! Should I make an effort to keep reading this series, then? Or are there other books you’d recommend in place of these?

  • Lost In A Good Book February 21, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    Game of Thrones seems to be one of those books where you either hate it or are completely obsessed with it. I’m in the latter category, but I can still see it’s flaws. As for that Night Circus. I hear so many people talking about that book, I really do need to read it sometime.

    • Jackie B February 22, 2017 at 9:37 am

      Oh, I know I’m in the minority for GoT. And I’m okay with that! I also don’t watch television, so I’ve never seen the show. Many people have told me that once I see the show I’d appreciate it more, but, well, that’s just no my MO. Oh well!

      Let me know when you do read The Night Circus! I hope that you just love it.

  • Louise February 21, 2017 at 6:12 pm

    I’ve been thinking about reading The Gunslinger, for the same reason you put, but now I’m not so sure.

    • Jackie B February 22, 2017 at 9:19 am

      I had a conversation with a few friends about this today. They all told me that if I was fluent in King’s bibliography it would be much more enjoyable. There are tons of references to his other books all set in like Easter Eggs. Plus, this book King wrote when he was in his teens.

      It was disinteresting enough that I won’t pick up the rest of the series, though. There might be great things lurking, but it’s definitely not for me.

  • Aj @ Read All The Things! February 21, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    I agree on The One and Only Ivan. The synopsis sounded so “Meh.” The story is adorable, though.

    • Jackie B February 22, 2017 at 9:06 am

      Exactly! I wonder how many other books are out in the world which people have passed over due to poorly written synopses and ugly covers? Any books like that come to mind for you, AJ?
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  • Lauren Stoolfire (@SunSoar25) February 22, 2017 at 11:49 am

    The Night Circus was awesome! 🙂

    • Jackie B February 22, 2017 at 12:45 pm

      Yay! I’m so glad you agree, Lauren! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. 🙂

  • Diana February 23, 2017 at 12:06 am

    I haven’t read any of the books that you’ve mentioned. I do get what you mean about having high expectations about books and then getting disappointment. It has happened to me a couple of times especially with hyped books. On the other hand, I have just finished reading a book that has very low/negative ratings on goodreads but I totally loved it. My expectations were so low though lol.

    I need to read Night Circus. It sounds like quite a wonderful read.

    • Jackie B February 23, 2017 at 3:01 pm

      Hyped books. I have such a love-hate relationship with them! I want them all to be amazing, but most of the time I’m disappointed. And when I’m not disappointed, I’m blown away! So, I keep seeking them out. It’s frustrating. Really, we should just all start with low expectations. 🙂

      Personally, I love it when I find lists which contain no books I’ve read. It just shows the variety in the world, and in the opinions of my bookish friends! I hope when you finally get to The Night Circus you really enjoy it.

  • Laila@BigReadingLife February 23, 2017 at 11:57 am

    Jackie, so many regular library patrons enjoy the Stephanie Plum books, but I read the first one and was NOT impressed at all. I thought it wasn’t funny. I didn’t continue. I’m glad to know we think alike on that one!

    • Jackie B February 23, 2017 at 4:37 pm

      I am so glad to hear you say that, Laila! Sometimes, I feel like I’ve missed something with hyped books– particularly since I know this series is so popular. They are pretty easy reads, but, yes, I didn’t really get it. I’m just going to assume we’re sophisticated book connoisseurs then! 🙂

  • Jasmine February 23, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    I applaud you for trying to read the Game of Thrones. Definitely a thick book. I have picked up that book at the store, flipped through it, and put it back down haha.. My co-worker have mentioned to me that the author describe the scenes very detailed. I don’t know if I am up to reading all narration. But that Night Circus, the more I thought about it, the more I love it. I do love the writing and descriptions of the characters/circus. I still don’t love the open ending but it’s definitely a great book. Too bad the author hasn’t written anymore books because I would read her next book!

    • Jackie B February 23, 2017 at 4:54 pm

      D’aw, thanks Jasmine! There are so many people who have read GoT, and I am not afraid of thick fantasy novels, but it just didn’t click. I don’t blame you for putting it back down!

      I’m glad to hear The Night Circus is growing on you! I agree– I can’t wait for more books, but so far Erin Morgenstern’s website and social media have been woefully silent.

  • Deepika @BookHearts Forever February 23, 2017 at 11:06 pm

    I am excited to read Night Circus.It’s on my TBR.I haven’t touched GoT novels but I love the TV show so I need to give this series a chance.

    • Jackie B February 26, 2017 at 9:41 pm

      I’ve heard that watching the TV series before reading the books is the way to go. It’s a lot easier to keep the characters separated in your mind when you already have some idea of what they look like and understand their personalities. I hope that you enjoy Game of Thrones more than I did!

      I hope you get to read The Night Circus soon. It’s one of my favorites!

  • Marie February 24, 2017 at 6:49 am

    I love your list, and thank you for reminding me about What’s A Soulmate. I really wanted to read this book, even more after reading your review and interview a little while ago – I really need to put it at the very top of my TBR! Also, I have been hearing lots of great things about The Night Circus for AGES – it seems like a magical story with such a strange atmosphere. Can’t wait to dive into it. 🙂

    • Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku February 24, 2017 at 9:33 am

      Thanks, Marie! I really appreciate that. I obviously *adored* What’s A Soulmate, and I hope you enjoy it as well!! I would love to see another review or two pop up. If only to make certain I’m not crazy! It’s so rare I enjoy a book that much…
      Oh man. Read The Night Circus. You won’t regret it. I have a feeling you’ll really enjoy it, but, well, there’s only one way to find out!!! 😀

  • theorangutanlibrarian March 13, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    Ahh I thought I was the only one that didn’t like Dark Tower- that one was a dnf for me- I’ve really tried with Stephen King but have dnf’d so many of his books and only finished one that I thought was pretty meh (actually, technically I thought “I should’ve just watched the movie”). And I’m glad I didn’t bother with Diviners- I decided not to cos I ended up disliking her other series. And I remember you mentioning What’s a Soulmate 🙂

    • Jackie B March 15, 2017 at 12:32 pm

      YAY! I am not alone, and you are not alone in disliking The Dark Towner! I haven’t tried to read any other King as I avoid books which might give me nightmares (thankfully, my friends are great at advising me one way or the other on books/authors, so I rarely run into this problem).

      What other Libba Bray book(S) did you dislike?

      • theorangutanlibrarian March 16, 2017 at 8:34 pm

        Yeah I’m the same- I’m really not into horror either!! I ended up not liking her Gemma Doyle series- it had a decent start, but it really went downhill :/

  • Ann Marie March 15, 2017 at 10:39 pm

    I’ve been wanting to read The One and Only Ivan and The Night Circus forever! They’d kind of fallen off my radar with so many other new and shiny books but I’m so glad to hear you loved them. I’ll have to work them in somehow.

    • Jackie B March 16, 2017 at 4:08 pm

      It’s easy for books to fall off with all the new and shiny. There are some books which have been on my TBR for literal years. I know I’ll get to them someday. But, as these are some of my favorite books of all time, well, I certainly would encourage you to push them up your list. 🙂

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