Hi friends,

Today Shanah @bionicbookworm asked us about our top 5 books that exceeded our expectations.

As usual as I am a YA AND a romance blogger I’ll have way more than five books as I will choose some YA and some romance.

To complicate things further, I’ll have two big categories: the #underdogs and the #hypedbooks.

Let me explain…

A book can totally surprise me because it was flying under the “reader radar”, came with no big bang nor extra publicity but still amazed me! Even more because I had no expectations about it. That’s how unassuming it was and in some cases, still is to my utter despair!

So today will be me pushing my underdogs.


The second category is the hyped books.

You know the ones everyone is shouting about. Your friends tell you to read it. Your neighborstell you to read it. Your tax man tells you to read it (well, maybe not the tax mand but …). And for some reason… YOU RESIST THE HYPE!

Cue the hashtag #iamarebel but you just don’t want to read it. Or not immediately. Then, one day, either because you relent to all your friends, either because you made a bargain ….you read it, expecting it to be “meh” at best but you are wowed!


So, without further ado, let’s dive into the categories:



Romance: Binding 13 by Chloe Walsh

I know Chloe has a good fan base but I must confess that I had never heard about her before one of my friend told me to read her book. Then one of my followers was raving about it and I was intrigued!

To sum my thoughts once I’d read it: 

“Review to come with Keeping 13 because I just have to know what will happen!

Whoever recommended this book to me (Sarah J Pena I blame YOU!) is responsible for this mess because I have ARCs to read and review but I am just ADDICTED!!!!

Oh well I guess I’ll have to read late at night to meet my commitments (Sleep? Who said we need sleep? Pfew.)

PS Chloe Walsh you are now on my radar Lady!”


Romance: Eternally North by Tillie Cole

I don’t know why everyone is overlooking this one! I had first read Sweet Home by Tillie Cole but when I began Eternally North, I expected a sweet and enjoyable read. I got: so much more!

What are we looking for?

-Sassy, gorgeous heroine “on the plus size” with zero mouth filter: check.
-Glittery and totally eccentric gay best friend : check.
-Brooding, dark, tatooed movie star exuding male pheromones: check.
-Clumsy encounters where the heroine, slightly drunk and with zero complex but 100% “joie de vivre” makes a total funny fool of herself: check.
-Uncontrolable bursts of laughter and incredulous looks from my slightly worried husband (I knew she read too much, she has finally lost it!): check.


Romance: Red Winter by Annette Marie

It was a buddy read and I had no idea what I was looking for. I just knew that I wanted to share a read with friends.

You have the perfect mix of fantasy and ancestral tradition in a modern world.
Secrets, betrayals and unexpected alliances.
A quest and a mystery to solve.
A beautiful and resourceful heroine.
A hot kitsune.
What I hope will be a romance of course!
And lots of action.

The writing flows effortlessly and it’s a book that is meant to be devoured thanks to the plot and its interesting characters.


Romance that is not romance and not women fiction or …: A Charm of Finches by Suanne Laqueur

I already had read three books by Suanne when I read A Charm of Finches so I already knew that she had a wonderful writing but A Charm of Finches just…blew me away! It’s simple: I gave it 1000 stars!

This book was like being hit by an enormous emotional wave!

The story began on a huge “bang!” and I was panting, heart galloping like a wild horse inside my rib cage. I was having a panic attack. I WAS Geronimo and I wanted someone anyone to come save me. It was the worse betrayal you could ever imagine. One hitting you in the flesh. Earth shattering aftermaths.

That’s how talented Suanne is: immediately sucking you in her story barely releasing you from her clutches from time to time just to let you breathe a little and give you a false security feeling before the next blow.

Seriously this book should come with a warning. Suanne tells a terrible and powerful story. One where you’ll call for your mom to come rescue you because the fox is in the den and you’re the panicked little chick.


Young Adult: Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel

I checked again on Goodreads and that book only has 1559 ratings! Talk about the underdog! And yet I never tire of singing its praise!

Like a huge wave Black Bird of the Gallows engulfed me in its magic world and did not release me before the last sentence was over. It left me ashore a little stunned and with starry eyes.


Meg Kassel achieved the high feat of making me rediscover a genre that I’ve read often. No blazé reader here!


Romance: Covet by Ella James

Just the other day I was talking with my friend about how Covet was so good yet nearly no one talked about it!

Honestly the blurb was vague and I had no idea what I would find but this book blew me away! I felt to much!

this book deals with a MAJOR trigger for me. One that has me running the other way and avoiding that topic like men avoid the mall on Christmas eve. I went in blind not knowing about it. And it was forunate because I would never have read this story and missed what has been a very intense, flawed and emotional story.



Woman Fiction: Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I didn’t want to read it. I had nearly the heebie jeebies whan someone talked about that book. But Daisy @thedgbookblog made a bargain with me: if I read it, she would read Six of Crows. And we both ended up our read! So much that she even read Crooked Kingdom LOL

Listening to that story was …fabulous!

This format was meant to be read by these excellent narrators! All along I felt like watching one of my husband’s documentaries with war veterans retelling their memories.

I was so amazed that I began looking for that band and their songs that I never had heard before …. Just to realize that they never existed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I had absolutely no idea as I went into this book mostly blind!

And that’s when the extent of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s talent hit me like a Macktruck!


Romance: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

This book conquered the literary world in 2018. We saw it …everywhere.

And it was delightful!

This is the most appropriate word to describe this 5 stars read.

I had my attention drawn to this book by Astrid @thebookishsweettooth. She was so enthusiastic my interest was picked and I ordered the book on an impulse.

This story simply is a little gem. Essentially character driven, the writing is light, charming, funny and just right.


Romance MM: Wolfsong by TJ Klune

This was my first MM romance. I feared reading it as I thought maybe it would disgust me. Or feel weird to read about a romance between two men? Or …. Little did I know that it would be a huge eye opener and the best way to throw all my prejudices and fears to the trash!

I gave it 6 howling stars!

This book simply gutted me. I was overwhelmed with so many emotions… I tried not to quote too much from the book in my review but this was very, very hard as I was highlighting quotes and taking notes of everything that I felt like a mad woman.  That’s why I compromised with myself and wrote a “condensed” review a “first part”. I also put a second part with more quotes because the writing is so beautiful and so right I wanted to give people a taste of it. I want to convince everyone to give this book a chance because it’s so wonderful. I’m bursting with so many words I feel like Ox, too slow to speak/type them because they all sing in my head and want to come at the same time.


Young Adult: Sadie by Courtney Summers

I never intended to read Sadie. This is just one of these hyped books that kept popping on my feed and the reviews were so enthusiastic that my interest was picked.

Is the hype deserved?


Sadie was a very courageous and tragic heroine. One that never had luck in her life.

She was tired. So tired. But she had a mission to accomplish. We will follow this brave and broken girl till the end of the story, wondering if this can have a happy ending or not.


That’s it! Have you read these books? Or what books did surprise you and surpassed your expectations?


Thanks for reading!




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  1. A million tines yes to Red Winter AND Black Birds of the Gallows. I loved both of those books SO much and I’m so happy you loved them so much too!

  2. Personally I found Sadie just okay, but I know a lot of people loved it like you! I was just gifted Daisy Jones and the Six for my birthday, and I am so excited to read it and love it just as much as you did. I haven’t read anything by Annette Marie before, but she is on my wishlist.

  3. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang was good but the second book was even better in my opinion.Some of the books that surprised me how much I enjoyed them were Addicted to You (I usually avoid friends to lovers trope), Ice Planet Barbarians (who would have thought i’d fall for alien romance?), Feral Sins by Suzanne Weight (not a big fan of werewolves), Dark in You by Suzanne Wright (it’s just hard to find good books featuring demons!), Percy Jackson (I didn’t think I could enjoy a book without any romance. i don’t count percy/ annabeth since i don’t like them together) etc.

  4. I like how you separated these into two categories. I like how some of those books you never hear about can be great and leave you wondering why not more people are reading it. And sometimes you might be afraid a book doesn’t live up to the hype and it’s great when it does and as everyone already read it, you have plenty of people to talk with about it.

    I hope to read Red Winter soon. It’s the first Annette Marie book I bought, I have the whole box set of the series, but I still haven’t read it yet. I really like her Guild Codex series, so I hope I’ll enjoy Red Winter as well.

  5. Both Daisy Jones and The Kiss Quotient were such big hits for me. With Daisy Jones, I had zero reservations because I already loved Taylor Jenkins Reid. The Kiss Quotient had sooo much hype so I was a bit hesitant but I had nothing to fear. Stella and Michael were perfection together!

  6. So much yes for this list! I really loved The Kiss Quotient and Daisy Jones, too. It took me a while to try them because that hype really was real. Sometimes it is warranted. Great list, Sophie! 🙂

  7. Ooh Red Winter looks good. And kitsune! I’ve been digging Asian inspired fantasy lately and kitsune are pretty sweet. I need to read more of that stuff.

    Black Bird Gallows just looks awesome!

  8. I thought I would have at least read one of your underdogs, but I have not. I did love TKQ and Sadie, though. Helen Hoang is an amazing addition to the romance world, and I recently read my second Courtney Summers book, and I loved it even more than my first.

  9. This is such a great post you have here darling. I love looking at your list you have there. I love Tillie Cole but haven’t read that one yet, I am definitely grabbing it up and YES ….surprisingly the Kiss Quotient was amazing …hyped books like that never work for me.

  10. HAHAHA!! Taylor Jenkins Reid’s talent can definitely be described as being hit with a mac truck! She’s sooooo amazing! It took a lot of convincing to tell myself that they were fictional characters so STOP trying to find pictures on google…. lol