Tuesday, January 17, 2017

12 Underrated/Overrated Books I've Read Recently

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic is about underrated books/hidden gems we've read lately. We did a similar topic a few months ago so I'm switching it up a bit. Below are 6 great books that I think deserve to be more widely read, and six books that everyone else seemed to like but I didn't get the hype. I've read all these in the past year and half or so (most in 2016).

I highly recommend the underrated books (the first four were 5-star reads for me!) and if you were a big fan of any of the books on my overrated list, I'd love to know what you saw in them. (Granted, we all have different reading tastes, and I think it is totally ok for some books to just not "be" for us.)

underrated books

1. To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey // From my review: I loved everything about this historical fiction novel, from the setting -- Alaska and Washington -- to the unique format to the engrossing story to the illustrations.

2. The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis // From my review: "The Wolf Road" is a post-apocalyptic tale, an adventure story, a horrifying thriller and, above all, a fascinating character study of 17-year-old Elka, who just found out the man who raised her may very well be a serial killer.

3. The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church // From my review: Meridian and the issues of marriage, identity, sacrifice, regret, love and friendship are center stage, but they're perfectly supported by the unique WWII story playing in the background. On top of that, Church's prose is beautiful. I couldn't put this book down and I urge you to get wrapped up in Meridian's heartbreaking -- but ultimately hopeful -- saga too!

4. Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey // No review for this one, but I absolutely recommend this dual narrative told in WWII and present day. It was amazing and anyone who enjoys historical fiction should read it!

5. Poor Your Soul by Mira Ptacin // From my review: I appreciated Mira's candid, sincere, real account of this terrible thing that happened to her, her grief and, ultimately, how she overcame it. An added bonus is that her writing is gorgeous -- almost poetic at times -- and full of lovely similes and metaphors. Plus the book is as readable as a novel. I highly recommend this insightful, enthralling memoir.

6. Boo by Neil Smith // From my review: "Boo" is one of the most unique books I've read this year. Somehow Smith managed to write a book about a dead eighth-grader -- not the most cheerful subject matter -- that is sweet, funny and thought-provoking. I fully recommend this quick read.

overrated books

1. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena // From my review: Oh, the writing. It was fine grammatically, but it was so very dull and uninspired. Half the time I felt like I was reading a "Dick and Jane" book, with short, straightforward sentences -- no metaphors or interesting word use and little varied sentence structure. There was no "writing as an art form" to be found here. (Needless to say, I had a few other problems with this one besides the writing.)

2. Redemption Road by John Hart // From my review: This gritty North Carolina crime thriller didn't live up to the hype. The plot was over-the-top and the writing was not nearly as good as I expected from reviews. This one was just ok for me.

3. The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George // From my (rather long and rant-y) review: That book-centric plot certainly sounds intriguing and I fully expected this book to be one of my favorite reads of the year, but I just could not get into the story. I had to force myself over and over to pick it up and read. The last 50 pages were the best of the book -- not only because it was ending, but because our characters finally stopped being moronic idiots!

4. Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson // From my review: "Be Frank With Me" is a perfect example of a promising premise suffering from poor execution. I was all set to love what I thought would be a charming, funny and poignant story only to encounter a plot that went nowhere and zero character development. At least it was well-written!

5. What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan // From my (self-described as a bitch-fest) review: The most glaring problem with the book is that it's billed as a psychological thriller -- and the cover even proclaims that it's as gripping as "The Girl on The Train." But it's really just a straight-up mystery -- and a slow-moving one at that. It didn't have the requisite twists, turns, unreliable narrators and jaw-dropping reveals of a proper psychological thriller. I kept waiting and waiting for the big game-changer and it never came. It was nothing like "The Girl on the Train."

6. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katrina Bivald // From my review: While "Broken Wheel" was a cute, fun, fluffy bookish story, there were several things I struggled with. I initially had a hard time keeping all the characters straight, and I never really cared about their stories or the sometimes-annoying small-town dynamic. Bivald was going for quirk, but sometimes Sara's new friends were just plain irritating. I also never really warmed up to Sara. I appreciated her deep love of books, but I was frustrated with her utter lack of self-confidence and her weak nature.


  1. The Atomic Weight of Love made my list too! It was such a great story of a woman's evolution. I'm still trying to get to To the Bright Edge of the World.

    I like that you included overrated books, too. I'm happy to say that I didn't read any of them!

    1. Since you liked "Atomic Weight" you should definitely enjoy "To the Bright Edge"! :)

  2. Well, I haven't read any of your recommended ones, but you know I share your feelings on The Couple Next Door. You know, seeing the cover still makes me a tad angry, maybe for the time I spent reading it which I'll never get back, or for all the stupid people in the book!

  3. The Wold Road is one I want to get to. I liked What She Knew but didn't love it and agree they totally put out the wrong vibes on what kind of book it was. Great lists!!

    1. I definitely recommend "The Wolf Road"! It was one of my favorite books in 2016.

  4. I haven't read any of those, though To the Bright Edge of the World is on my high-priority list for this year. The Wolf Road sounds like I'd like it! I think the most overrated book I've read recently is The Woman in Cabin 10. It wasn't bad, but I've read better thrillers that didn't get nearly as much attention.

    1. Interesting about "The Woman in Cabin 10"! I feel like I almost ALWAYS find thrillers to be overrated these days. I guess, with a few exceptions, it might just not be the genre for me anymore. I feel myself gravitating more toward literary fiction and character-driven novels instead of fast-paced page-turners.

      As I'm sure you've gathered, I HIGHLY recommend both "The Wolf Road" and "To the Bright Edge." "The Wolf Road" was just a unique book (and a thriller of a totally different stripe), and I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy "To the Bright Edge." And both had excellent writing!

  5. This weeks TTT is killing my NY resolution to read from my TBR pile!


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