Top Five Tuesday: Books That Exceeded My Expectations

This Top Five Tuesday, Bionic Book Worm wants to know, what books exceeded our expectations?  Put simply, this is going to be a whole post of books I fully believed I would enjoy, but was not prepared for how absolutely in LOVE with them I would become.  These are my favorite kinds of books to write about because it’s mostly just me flailing unreservedly.  So let’s dive in!

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WRITTEN IN RED/THE OTHERS by Anne Bishop
My love affair with THE OTHERS is actually not a straight forward one.  I’ll be honest, I had a very low bar going into WRITTEN IN RED, the first book in the series.  It had been shoved into my hands at Comic Con, and the premise interested in me, but I wasn’t quite sure if it was going to be my cup of tea.  After finishing the tale about an alt Earth where supernatural creatures live out in the open (and in fact are the dominant species above humans), I initially went, “Okay, that was a pleasant read” and moved on with my life.  But instead of moving on, I realized I couldn’t stop thinking about the world and the characters.  I NEEDED to go back to the Lakeside Courtyard and pull up a chair next to Simon and Meg and all the rest and settle back in with the oddball found family.  This was a series that stole its way into my heart when I wasn’t looking, and now I’ve read all seven books and will defend the characters with my dying breath.

TRAIL OF LIGHTNING by Rebecca Roanhorse
A book that promises a gruff monster-hunting woman who just wants to be left alone when she’s not on contract is already banking brownie points in my personal win column.  I was prepared for the action and the slaying, but I was not prepared for the FEELS.  This is a book that clocks in under 300 pages, and absolutely blind-sided me with emotions.  There’s a physical fight between two characters towards the end that is absolutely layered with bottled up emotions, and I found myself rereading that passage two or three times as I marveled at the knife slipping into my emotional gut.

SORCERY OF THORNS by Margaret Rogerson
Here was an instance where my expectations for a book were so high, I was pretty much convinced I could only be disappointed by the final product.  After all, between a gorgeous cover and a premise of a warrior librarian guarding the world from dangerous magical books, this was checking too many boxes to count.  So imagine my delight when this book not only delivered on adventure, but romance as well.  I was here for every second of the book, and nothing could prepare me for the fact that I burst into tears in a restaurant when I read the final sentence.

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FOUNDRYSIDE by Robert Jackson Bennett
I really enjoyed Bennett’s DIVINE CITIES trilogy (beginning with CITY OF STAIRS), but they could sometimes be a bit esoteric in their magic and plot and I had to be in the right mood to tackle them.  FOUNDRYSIDE is a WHOLE different beast.  It’s much more accessible, action-packed, and driven by a magic system of rune-writing that I found delightful to see in action. This has become one of my favorite books of all time and I am really looking forward to the sequel SHOREFALL in spring 2020!

SERPENT & DOVE by Shelby Mahurin
I wanted to like this one so very badly.  The premise of a secret witch forced into a marriage with a witch-hunter, who in turn would have to wrestle with his duty to his wife and his duty to destroy any witch he encounters, was very tantalizing. Thankfully, the romance absolutely checked all the right boxes, especially when it came to the evolving enemies to lovers trope, the two leads bickering with gusto until they eventually fall in love.  It doesn’t hurt that female lead Lou is a force of nature to be reckoned with, a thief who will do just about anything to survive.

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