Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish, and this week’s prompt was “Top Ten Books I Enjoyed That Have Under 2000 Ratings on Goodreads.”
It took me exactly five minutes to realise I was going to struggle finding ten books I’d read and enjoyed that had less than 2000 ratings, so I decided to put my own spin on it and choose 5 books I enjoyed, and 5 books I want to read.
Top 5 Books I Enjoyed
1. The Light that Gets Lost by Natasha Carthew
71 ratings on Goodreads.
A small boy hiding in a cupboard witnesses something no child should ever see. He tries not to look but he still hears it. And when he comes out, there’s no mistaking. His mum and dad have been killed. And though he’s only small, he swears that he’ll get revenge one day.
Years later, Trey enters a strange camp that is meant to save troubled teenagers. It’s packed with crazies, god-botherers, devoted felons and broken kids. Trey’s been in and out of trouble ever since the day the bad thing happened, but he’s he not here for saving: this is where he’ll find the man who did it. Revenge and healing, salvation and hell are a boiling, dangerous mix, and Trey finds himself drawn to a girl, a dream and the offer of friendship in the dark.
I’m actually surprised that this book isn’t doing so well on Goodreads (with an average of 2.69 stars) because I found it captivating and super quick to read. The Light that Gets Lost is definitely one of the strangest, well-written novels I’ve read since I started reviewing, and I found it really hard to put it down. Most of the story is written with a distinct British dialect tilt (for example, replacing “isn’t it” with “int” which is, in my opinion, a lot better than the overused innit I hear on a daily basis) and I definitely got a feel of the British countryside and the crazy institution/cult Trey was thrown into.
2. Black Beast by Nenia Campbell
238 ratings on Goodreads
She walks the line between the hunter and the hunted.
Vampires want her blood.
Witches consider her less-than-human.
Slayers simply want her dead.
As if being in high school wasn’t hard enough, Catherine Pierce has to deal with a whole other set of problems that arise from being a shifter that hasn’t settled. Because after puberty, shifters are supposed to stop changing–and Catherine, well, hasn’t.
Even among her own kind, Catherine is regarded as a freak.
To make matters worse, she’d caught the attention of the witches’ Council because they think she’s been dabbling in dark magic because of a stupid old book that popped up at her work. And she’s been having nightmares about a terrifying man who calls himself the Shadow Thane and plans to end the world in a burst of darkness and dragon fire.
Just in case that wasn’t enough, a branch of Slayers are infiltrating Catherine’s town, under the guise of a community youth group called Sterling Rep.
Times are changing and that means, for Catherine, it’s time to Change.
Although Black Beast isn’t my favourite book out of the series (ahemCrownByFire), you can’t read its sequels without first reading Black Beast, and it’s definitely a whopper of a series starter. Not because it’s long, or because it has much going on, but because you get a hell of a lot of information all in one go, and the rest of the series is where shit seriously hits the fan. I’m still not-so-patiently waiting for the next instalment, but I tide myself over by badgering Nenia incessantly on Twitter for my favourite ship’s teaser scenes.
3. Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie
1,323 ratings on Goodreads
Sonya was born with the rare gift to feel what those around her feel—both physically and emotionally—a gift she’s kept hidden from the empire for seventeen long years. After a reckless mistake wipes out all the other girls with similar abilities, Sonya is hauled off to the palace and forced to serve the emperor as his sovereign Auraseer.
Tasked with sensing the intentions of would-be assassins, Sonya is under constant pressure to protect the emperor. But Sonya’s power is untamed and reckless, and she can’t always decipher when other people’s impulses end and her own begin. In a palace full of warring emotions and looming darkness, Sonya fears that the biggest danger to the empire may be herself.
As she struggles to wrangle her abilities, Sonya seeks refuge in her tenuous alliances with the charming-yet-volatile Emperor Valko and his idealistic younger brother, Anton, the crown prince. But when threats of revolution pit the two brothers against each other, Sonya must choose which brother to trust—and which to betray.
Burning Glass is definitely a strange book, an awesome book, but also a hell of a confusing book. I really enjoyed this one and ripped through the first half with excitement, and it sort of petered off after the 50% mark, and picked up again around 20% from the end. Which isn’t bad, but the lull was long enough for me to set it aside for a few days before finishing it, and sometimes a gap in reading affects my enjoyment of the book. However, Sonya was a really interesting character (with really interesting powers), and I am 100% Team Valko because I am ALWAYS on the villain’s side. Of course.
4. Fearscape by Nenia Campbell
1,657 ratings on Goodreads.
He followed her because he wanted to own her. She trusted him because she wanted excitement. There’s a saying that curiosity can kill … but Valerian Kimble is beginning to learn that satisfaction might just be worse.
Fourteen-year-old Valerian lives in an age where antiheroes and bad boys are portrayed as the romantic ideal, and good guys are passe and boring. So when Gavin Mecozzi, the school’s brilliant but twisted loner, begins to show an interest in her after a chance meeting in a pet store, Val is intrigued. He’s charming and poetic and makes her feel things that she thought were only possible in books–
Because somebody is stalking Val. Somebody who wants to hurt her. Own her. Possess her. Maybe even kill her.
As her meetings with Gavin unravel into a more complex and frightening relationship, Val can’t help but wonder if the new boy in her life is her depraved and obsessive stalker.
And whether he’s capable of murder.
Time is running out.
Nenia is capable of writing some seriously messed up, creepy as hell characters, and maybe this is why I’m such a huge fan of hers. You’d think Gavin Mecozzi’s psychopathic tendencies are enough to turn even the biggest lover of villains away, but nope. Here I am, jumping up and down and waving a “GO GAVIN GO” banner, because my parents obviously didn’t love me enough as a child. Anyway, Fearscape was the first book of Nenia’s I ever read after I won it in a giveaway a few years ago, and it’s still the book I recommend most when people ask, “Hey Aly, what’s the creepiest book you’ve read to date?”
GO NENIA GO FORTH AND WRITE MORE.
5. Josie & Jack by Kelly Braffet
1,241 ratings on Goodreads
In Josie and Jack, Kelly Braffet gives us a deliciously dark, suspenseful debut novel in the tradition of Patricia Highsmith.
Beautiful, brilliant, and inseparable, Josie and Jack Raeburn live a secluded, anarchic existence in their decaying western Pennsylvania home. The only adult in their lives is their rage-prone father, a physicist, whose erratic behavior finally drives them away. Without a moral compass to guide them, Jack leads Josie into a menacing world of wealth, eroticism, and betrayal. His sociopathic tendencies emerge, and soon Josie must decide which is stronger: the love and devotion she feels for her brother or her will to survive.
From its opening page to its shocking climax, this contemporary Hansel and Gretel story is compulsively readable and hugely entertaining.
Kelly Braffet is actually Stephen King’s daughter-in-law so you can bet your sweet patootie that anything she writes is screwed up in the best of ways, and super dark. Hence my looooove for her, especially Josie & Jack, which was the first book I’d ever read by her. However, you guys should also check out Save Yourself which is the story of a man and his teenage stalker, cults, and other screwed up things. SO MUCH LOVE.
5 Books I’d Like to Read
1. In the Skin Of A Monster by Kathryn Barker
261 ratings on Goodreads
What if your identical twin sister was a murderer? Does that make you a monster too? A profound, intense, heartbreaking fantasy that tackles issues of fate versus free will, and whether you can ever truly know someone.
Caught in a dreamscape, mistaken for a killer … will Alice find a way home?
Three years ago, Alice’s identical twin sister took a gun to school and killed seven innocent kids; now Alice wears the same face as a monster. She’s struggling with her identity, and with life in the small Australian town where everyone was touched by the tragedy. Just as Alice thinks things can’t get much worse, she encounters her sister on a deserted highway. But all is not what it seems, and Alice soon discovers that she has stepped into a different reality, a dream world, where she’s trapped with the nightmares of everyone in the community. Here Alice is forced to confront the true impact of everything that happened the day her twin sister took a gun to school … and to reveal her own secret to the boy who hates her most.
I mean… *flails* It sounds so good. So tragic, so awful, so good. A good friend of Inge and mine sent us both a copy of this book to read after I bemoaned the fact that Australian books are so expensive to get, and how even Book Depository’s prices are high and their availability so slim. I’m super grateful to have a copy, so thank you Steph! You’re the bestest <333
But this is definitely a book I plan on reading soon, and I’m super excited because it just sounds so amazing. *flails some more*
2. The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North
381 ratings on Goodreads
All the world forgets me. First my face, then my voice, then the consequences of my deeds.
So listen. Remember me.
My name is Hope Arden, and you won’t know who I am. We’ve met before – a thousand times. But I am the girl the world forgets.
It started when I was sixteen years old. A slow declining, an isolation, one piece at a time.
A father forgetting to drive me to school. A mother setting the table for three, not four. A teacher who forgets to chase my missing homework. A friend who looks straight through me and sees a stranger.
No matter what I do, the words I say, the people I hurt, the crimes I commit – you will never remember who I am.
That makes my life tricky. But it also makes me dangerous . . .
The Sudden Appearance of Hope is the tale of the girl no one remembers. But this gripping story – of love and loss, of hope and despair, of living in the moment and dying to leave a mark – is novel that will stay with you for ever.
I’ve seen North’s first novel, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, pretty much everywhere ever since it came out in 2o14, but have never felt the urge to pick it up. Maybe because it just sounds like such a long, convoluted, heavy book, or maybe because it just never tickled my fancy, yet the moment I heard of The Sudden Appearance of Hope, I needed it. Needed it like I need to breathe. I mean, how cool and deep and depressing does this book sound? I can’t wait to read it!
3. The Flywheel by Erin Gough
398 ratings on Goodreads
Seventeen-year-old Del drops out of high school when her romance with another girl goes horribly wrong. Preferring chaos to bullying, Del makes it her mission to save her dad’s crumbling café, the Flywheel, while he ‘finds himself’ overseas.
Accompanied by her charming troublemaker best friend Charlie, Del sets out to save the cafe, keep Charlie out of prison, and maybe get a date with Rosa, the beautiful flamenco dancer from across the road. But when life is messy enough as it is, can girl-on-girl romance ever have a happy ending?
This hilarious and accident-prone novel is about how to be heartbroken and how to fall in love; about rising above high-school drama and wrestling with problems that are (almost) too big. It speaks directly to teens and assures them that they’re not alone, and does it all with an abundance of heart.
This is another book I’ve been wanting to read ever since Steph gushed about its never-ending cuteness and fantastic plot. The Flywheel not only has a gorgeous cover but also seems to be the kind of funny, sweet book I would read on a particularly breezy summer day when all I want is to get lost in a book and have a laugh or twenty.
4. A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond
684 ratings on Goodreads
“I’m the one who’s left behind. I’m the one to tell the tale. I knew them both…knew how they lived and how they died.”
Claire is Ella Grey’s best friend. She’s there when the whirlwind arrives on the scene: catapulted into a North East landscape of gutted shipyards; of high arched bridges and ancient collapsed mines. She witnesses a love so dramatic it is as if her best friend has been captured and taken from her. But the loss of her friend to the arms of Orpheus is nothing compared to the loss she feels when Ella is taken from the world. This is her story – as she bears witness to a love so complete; so sure, that not even death can prove final.
I’ve only ever read one other book by David Almond and that was Skellig, which I had to read in school and then ended up watching the film too, because it was so weird it was actually good. A Song For Ella Grey had never been on my radar, not until I walked into WHSmith one Tuesday morning and saw it sat on the shelf, all sad and lonely like. So I picked it up and bought it without even reading the blurb. (The gorgeous cover might have had something to do with it, too.)
And now I can’t wait to dive into it.
5. Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman
1,030 ratings on Goodreads
Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.
Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There’s just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.
Following her parents’ deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she’s stuck in England?
From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.
A few months back, after reading The Girl From Everywhere, I went on a desperate I-want-pirates-now binge, and ended up buying Blackhearts. I knew nothing about it except the cover was pretty and that it was the story of Blackbeard before his infamous pirating days. Which is interesting, because in a lot of retellings, you never get the story of how the characters were before they became kings/princesses/heroes/heroines and I was interested in seeing how Castroman weaved this tale. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m looking forward to curling up with it one night and possibly reading it in one go.
What are some books you enjoyed that aren’t so popular? Any from the list above? Let’s discuss in the comments!