Top Ten Tuesday – Books That Disappointed or Exceeded Expectations

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book meme held over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week we are listing our top ten books that we thought we would like more or less than we did. Interesting topic! Here are my picks:

Books I Was Expecting More From…

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1) The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King

I am a huge Stephen King fan and bought this book a few years back. I took it with me on holiday as it’s only a thin book. However it took me ages to read it and I just found it boring! The ending I found really disappointing too. It’s the only King book I’ve ever read and not liked.

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2) The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

As a huge Potter fan I was disappointed with this book. It was probably my own fault though as it was never marketed as being similar to Harry Potter. My full review is here.

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3) Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch

I still don’t really understand what I didn’t like about this book. It has everything that I would like but I just couldn’t get into it!

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4) The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

I remember seeing the description of this and falling in love with it. I love stories that use food this adds magical properties. I think it was the writing style that got me this time. I just didn’t like it.

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5) The Somnambulist by Essie Fox

I rushed to the library to find this book. Victorian gothic? Yes please! The start of the novel was very slow going though and I ended up giving up.

 

Books That Exceeded Expectations…

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1) The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas

It’s difficult choosing a book to take to a festival. I have to take one for late night reading in my tent before I go to sleep. It has to be not too thick, interesting enough to keep me occupied on the train but not so interesting that it makes me want to sit on my own and read it all week! This book ticked the boxes. It was a brilliant read though and my train journey (from Liverpool to the Isle of Wight!) sped by.

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2) Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Green

This was an impulse buy that sat on my shelf for a while before I read it. It’s not my usual kind of story at all. I adored it though. I’ve become a huge fan of novels written from a young child’s perspective.

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3) Room by Emma Donoghue

Similar to the one above really! Everyone raved about this book but I wasn’t sure. I got hold of a copy and it sat on my bookshelves for ages. When I did finally get to it, I read it within a couple of days.

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4) The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern

The good thing about the library is that you can pick up books that you would probably never buy but look vaguely interesting. If you don’t like it you can take it back and you’ve not lost anything! I’ve always looked at Cecelia Ahern novels as boring chick lit. Let me tell you though that if this is chick lit then I’ve been misinformed about quality!

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5) When God Was A Rabbit by Sarah Winman

Another library book! I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and used it in the recommendation  part of my interview for my Christmas job at Waterstones 2 years ago!

Thats all! I probably could have come up with a lot more than ten books here. Novels are constantly surprising me. The two things I’ve learnt are:

1) If you don’t like a book then stop reading it! I used to commit myself to struggle through a book if I’d started it. I now know not to!

2) Try anything. If there’s a book that looks interesting but you don’t usually like that genre/author then try it anyway!

Are there any novels that you thought you’d like more or were disappointed in?

 

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The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling – A Quick Review!

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I’ve just finished this book after a whole two months. This is a bad start really as I usually go through a book this length in a week. This is just a quick review with no spoilers and I’m not going to go too in depth.

Firstly let me confess that as I grew up with Harry Potter and slightly idolise JK Rowling, I was always going to try this book. I am currently writing a story which is aimed at a similar aged audience as the later Harry Potter books and I really admire the way she wrote the series, particularly the way she built a whole world from scratch. I never want to be famous like she is (I’d be happy just seeing some of my writing in print) but I do think she is brilliant. That said, I am not going to compare this novel to the Harry Potter series because it can’t be done. This was never meant to be similar to the Potter books and needs to be read and reviewed as a stand alone novel. With that bit over and done with let’s get onto The Casual Vacancy.

The Casual Vacancy

A BIG NOVEL ABOUT A SMALL TOWN …

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils … Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

 

 

This book failed to grip me from the very start. I persevered with it hoping it would get better and I found that my interest came and went as the story went on. I loved Pagford and the war with The Fields (the poorer end of the village). It’s the kind of place that always looks perfect but when you get a closer look it never is. With tiny village shops, the school and the community where everyone knows each other, Pagford is the perfect setting for a scandal such as there is in this novel.

However I feel that the characters let this story down. I found it hard to keep track of who was who and there was only really one family in the story that I was interested in. It turned out to be a very important story to the plot but I think focusing more on that part of the story would have made it a better read. I also found the election story line quite boring and not much happened in the first half of the book.

I won’t give anything away but I liked the ending. It was a good climax to the story and made for a more interesting few chapters. I definitely related more to the teenagers in this story and wonder whether it’s because JK Rowling is better at creating unique teenage characters than adults? 

All in all I did not enjoy this book as much as I thought I would and do not understand the hype surrounding it. However I think fans of this type of novel would maybe enjoy it more. I’ve heard it compared to Joanna Trollope although I have never read any of her books. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who isn’t a fan of this type of literature though. I was willing to give a new genre a try but it didn’t really work! I hope JK will branch out into other genres soon.