Top Ten Tuesday: books that lived up to the hype

Text only: top ten TUESDAY

Top Ten Tuesday is was created by The Broke and the Bookish, and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. It’s all about books, lists and sharing the love we have of both with our bookish friends. This week, we’re talking about books we’d heard a lot about – and that lived up to our expectations.

Hype: love it or hate it, it’s hard to escape it. You see the chatter on Twitter and Goodreads, you maybe avoid the reviews, but you see the names popping up on Top Ten Tuesdays and book tags. Before you know it, you’ve got the Impression that this one might be Really Good. Other times, we do it to ourselves: we get Expectations because it’s That Author or Those Tropes. And sometimes, just sometimes, the books live up to the devastating weight of what we think we’ll think about them…

I’m often really slow to pick up books that are hyped precisely because I’m leery of it. So it’s a delight when I finally do and they’re every bit as good as everyone told me they’d be.

The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch

I read Locke Lamora before my book blogging days, but there was no escaping the buzz around this book. It was everywhere, for a start – bookshops practically pushing it into your hands – and I honestly don’t know why it took as long as it did for me to give in and read it. Clearly I have no regrets: I just bought my second copy of The Republic of Thieves, because matching editions.

The Memoirs of Lady Trent – Marie Brennan

I missed the first couple of Lady Trent books coming out (although I’d noticed the amazing cover art), but I couldn’t miss how excited a number of my fellow book bloggers were to get their hands on The Labyrinth of Drakes. It still took another year or so for me to get on board, but oh my word I’m glad I did. Happy warm fuzzy dragon feelings for the win.

The Fifth Season – N K Jemisin

I actively didn’t-read The Fifth Season as I’d had mixed feelings about the Dreamblood duology, and I was WRONG. This is currently up there for me as Probably the Best Fantasy since the Printing Press, because it leaves me utterly breathless. Hey, let me add to that hype.

The Expanse – James S A Corey

…another one I was actively not-reading. I heard the hype, checked out the synopsis and OH LOOK it was another book about white dudes in space solving issues. Yawn, I thought, and ignored it. MY MISTAKE. Although I’m quite glad I was able to binge the first 7 books, because how people who read at the pace of publication coped with the cliffhangers I’ll never know.

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

Pfft, thought I back in the day. One of them there Young Adult books. Yes, I was a snob and a fool, and I’ve become a better person since then, okay? I learned. Because when I did finally get round to The Hunger Games (having seen and mostly enjoyed the film), needless to say I didn’t put it down until I finished Mockingjay. I have a great deal of respect for this trilogy, although I’ll probably always re-watch the films instead of re-reading the books.

Swordspoint – Ellen Kushner

The classics of the genre have a different sort of hype – fewer Tumblr posts and Top Ten Tuesday references, more DIckensian shock if you don’t like them. I hadn’t read Swordspoint because it wasn’t particularly easy to get hold of… but it won me over with its pointy-sharp characterisation and social skewerings. I’m overdue a reread, I think.

The Long Way to A Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers

This falls into the Locke Lamora bucket for me: I’d seen it everywhere and (in this case) been stopped in my tracks transfixed by the gorgeous cover art – but somehow never picked it up. Hooray for read-alongs, which let’s face it have been the deciding factor in me giving in to the hype of half the books on this list! My heart was not ready.

Every Heart a Doorway – Seanan McGuire

Speaking of my heart, I knew about the hype but somehow I wasn’t ready for this powerful novella, either. It’s a perfect pitch for my tastes, and I generally enjoy McGuire’s work, but I didn’t appreciate what a powerful emotional punch she could pack.

A Darker Shade of Magic – V E Schwab

Erm, you know I learned from my mistakes with The Hunger Games? It doesn’t mean I rush to pick up YA titles – quite the opposite, I’m very cautious (as I find love triangles unreasonably irritating). This series hovers near the borders of YA, so it took me a while to dip my toe (ably pushed in to the deep end by my fellow Muskedragons) – but I adored every page of its swashbuckling world-hopping magical adventure.

The Tethered Mage – Melissa Caruso

I didn’t hesitate to read The Tethered Mage because I was nervous, I was just awfully busy and distracted – and the hype only grew while I delayed. But I’m delighted to say it’s my new favourite thing, for its thoughtful world-building, powerful female characters and their interesting relationships. Lady scholars in trousers. Reddit doesn’t understand why that’s awesome, but then that’s why I don’t hang out on Reddit.


What books have lived up to your expectations? Which ones let you down?