MY TOP FIVE BOOK SURPRISES (YA EDITION)

Have you ever picked up a book on a whim, that soon became one of your favourite novels? Well I have (quite a few times), and I thought it would be fun to fill you in on some of the best book related surprises that I’ve had.

So here are my top five!

QUICK HEADS UP: As an Amazon Affiliate, if you purchase using the links provided, I’ll earn a small commission. This doesn’t effect my reviews in any way.

ONE OF US IS LYING BY KAREN M. MCMANUS

book surprise

I was in desperate need of a novel to complete a ‘3 for 2’ deal, and so I scanned a sea of titles, but nothing seemed to catch my eye. And then I spotted One of Us is Lying. Though I’m an avid viewer of an ITV thriller/drama aimed at retired grandparents, I read very little thriller, so I did put it back a number of times. But the premise intrigued me – I ADORE The Breakfast Club, and it seemed as though that had been stirred in with Pretty Little Liars.

IT WAS INCREDIBLE – a favourite by far of all of my MANY reads last summer. From first scene to last, I was addicted. I’m still baffled by how well Karen is able to offer many differing perspectives, but never leave the reader rattled or confused. You are continually compelled to shift the focus of blame, and are constantly hungry for more information. I DARE you to try and put it down without fighting with yourself!

FUN FACT: it’s the only YA I’ve ever given to my mum, and she adored it; it’s very much an all ages kind of novel. We are both VERY excited for Karen’s next release, Two Can Keep a Secret, which you can preorder here (SOMEONE PLEASE SEND ME AN ARC I’M DYING OVER HERE), and the follow up to One of Us is Lying.

I WAS BORN FOR THIS BY ALICE OSEMAN

book surprise

I was ludicrously early for a train one afternoon, and wandered WH Smith to pass a little time. When I noticed I Was Born for This, I was SMITTEN with the cover (I KNOW, don’t judge a book by its cover, but this one is SO PRETTY), and so I picked it up. The premise did sound a little cheesy, but I thought I would look past that, and I AM SO GLAD THAT I DID. Now, I’m a very passionate girl; I tend not to like things, but instead ADORE everything, and devote all of my heart to whatever I’m passionate about. This novel wholeheartedly embraces warm, passionate people, that devote their lives to what they love. The characters are wonderful, the LGBTQ+ rep is brilliant, and story is so sweet that my heart doubled in size. I couldn’t have picked a better spontaneous train read.

SONGS ABOUT A GIRL (SERIES) BY CHRIS RUSSELL

book surprise

Perhaps boyband novels are my new favourite novels because these books fill my heart with pure, undiluted joy. I adored the first instalment, Songs About a Girl (bought on another WH Smith whim), and then I moved onto other reads. When I returned to Songs About Us on Monday, I could not have anticipated how wonderful it would feel. It was as though I was coming home to a group of friends, all with their arms wide open, ready for me to fall right in. I cannot tell you how wonderful Chris Russell’s characters are! They have nestled into my heart and rearranged the furniture to their liking, and I could not be more in love.

The plot is also utterly fantastic; I thought it would be a little predictable and cheesy (stop judging boyband books, Emily), but it is incredibly gripping, and a constant page turner. Songs About Us ends on a CRAZY cliffhanger.

I’ve yet to read the final (CRIES) instalment, Songs About a Boy, but I’m certain I’m going to adore it. I can’t imagine disliking a book that lets me spend another 400 pages with Fire&Lights, Melissa, and Charlie Bloom.

THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE BY PATRICK NESS

book surprise

Another pick to complete a ‘3 for 2’, that became the catalyst in my adoration of Patrick Ness. I was VERY intrigued by the premise of this novel: though there are supernatural events throughout, it isn’t the focal point. The focal point is, instead, the characters that live outside of these events; the ‘rest of us’. The reader is given small scraps of information relative to a supernatural happening at the beginning of every chapter. But Ness then diverts your attention to the lives of others in this town – their angst, familial struggles, and the mundanity of normality.

It is as odd and interesting a style as it sounds, but it’s wonderful. And the characters are incredibly endearing. I’d definitely recommend if you’d like a YA contemporary with a little bit of a twist. This novel is proof that Ness can do anything.

THE NAMES THEY GAVE US BY EMERY LORD

book surprise

This was a beautiful surprise! I adored The Start of Me and You (a Zoella book club pick), and soon discovered that Lord’s novels all come in similar cover formats. I wanted a little collection, as I thought that they would look cute together – I wasn’t wrong. Initially, I was intent on When We Collided as it’s a more traditional romance, and The Names They Gave Us didn’t seem to fit my style. As an atheist, I wasn’t particularly interested in a YA that centred largely around faith. (That is VERY ignorant of me, I’m aware of this now, because this novel is spectacular). But I couldn’t find WWC in Waterstones, and so I bought TNTGU instead and WOW.

In my review of Holly Bourne’s Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes?, I discuss my adoration of camp-based novels. This is the reason for that adoration. I fell madly in love with the premise and characters – the parentless setting brought honesty and interactions that will warm your heart. It is a beautiful tale of love, grief, and faith, and the beauty of teens in crisis. I’m still an atheist, but have reevaluated my opinion of faith since reading this novel. It really is the most beautiful thing.

I’m getting goosebumps TALKING about this book; imagine what it’s like to read it. I balled like a baby for the last third. I would encourage anyone and everyone in search of a wonderful YA, to pick up this book.

AND THAT’S A WRAP

I didn’t quite mean to ramble for so long, but there are my TOP FIVE BOOK SURPRISES!

Here are some lessons to take from this: sometimes it’s acceptable to judge a book by its cover; boybands are GREAT subject matter; summer camps are wonderful; refrain from ignorance when you’re contemplating a plot, as you might find it will open your mind to a host of new ideas.

I hope you enjoyed this post! I’m LOVING lists at the moment, so it was super fun to write. Let me know if you’d like to see another like this (maybe university related). Also, don’t forget to comment some of your favourite book surprises!

Also, if you’ve been enjoying my posts lately, please hit the follow button in the sidebar, or you can scroll down to subscribe if you don’t have a WordPress account. It would really mean the world to me!

Thank you for reading!

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53 Comments

  1. August 24, 2018 / 12:25 pm

    I loved one of us is lying! Will defo be reading some of the books on this list!

    • Emily
      Author
      August 24, 2018 / 5:45 pm

      Hope you enjoy whatever you decide to read!

  2. August 24, 2018 / 4:02 pm

    One of us is lying is great but I did end up knowing what happened before it was said and I never thought any of them did it 😂
    Abi xx
    https://simple-joys.blog

    • Emily
      Author
      August 24, 2018 / 5:46 pm

      Really? I was never really sure what I thought! I was constantly changing my mind. 😂

    • Emily
      Author
      August 25, 2018 / 9:36 am

      Hope you enjoy whatever you decide to read! 😊

  3. August 24, 2018 / 8:35 pm

    Yes! I loved One of us is lying! I just loved all of the characters they were written so well! The plot was pretty good too! I think it is a book I would like to re-read because it was good and quick. I Was Born For This sounds pretty good too, I need to read more books with LGBTQ characters! Patrick Ness sounds like an amazing author and I love a book with a twist! x

    • Emily
      Author
      August 25, 2018 / 9:38 am

      I completely agree! I definitely want to reread it soon! I Was Born for This is a great start if you’re looking for LGBTQ rep in books – would also recommend Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda (it’s super lovely). 💛

  4. August 24, 2018 / 8:45 pm

    Great post! I love YA books and have read quite a few that I really enjoyed but never know what to read next, I was thinking of reading one of us is lying and now I’m definitely going too! Loved this xx

    • Emily
      Author
      August 25, 2018 / 9:38 am

      Yay! That makes me so happy! I hope you enjoy it. Thank you so much! 😊

  5. August 24, 2018 / 10:09 pm

    I bought One of Us is Lying, and keep meaning to read it but have never got round to it! I’m usually a classic romance/chic lit kinda gal when it comes to books so this will be a little different for me, but I can’t wait to read it now, as i’ve seen lots of good reviews about it! Great post!😘✨ xx

    lucy elizabeth | lucyelizabeth96.wordpress.com

    • Emily
      Author
      August 25, 2018 / 9:40 am

      I don’t read a lot of thriller/mystery novels, so I was a little worried about it too, but it’s just SO GOOD. Plus, there is a romance in the book, so you don’t miss out on that. Thank you! 💛

    • Emily
      Author
      August 25, 2018 / 9:41 am

      It’s really wonderful! Would definitely recommend it if you’re looking to start reading more. It’s a really easy read. 😊

  6. August 25, 2018 / 6:44 am

    Oh man, book deals are the BEST! Glad you loved One of Us is Lying. It’s nice to see more inclusion and diversity in literature these days. This is one of the many ways to help spread awareness. It’s great that you had a nice haul of books – even better when they were surprises! Thanks for sharing :).

    Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me

    • Emily
      Author
      August 25, 2018 / 9:43 am

      I agree! It really is. Thank you for reading! 😊

  7. August 25, 2018 / 10:00 am

    Thanks for sharing I’ve been meaning to read One of Us Is Lying and I Was Born For This. Your post might just be the motivation I needed 🙂

    • Emily
      Author
      August 25, 2018 / 10:25 am

      Yay! I’m so happy to hear that. I hope you enjoy them! 💛

  8. August 25, 2018 / 1:59 pm

    Book surprises are one of my favourite things because you get to go in with an open mind instead of having loads of expectations beforehand! Great post xx

    • Emily
      Author
      August 26, 2018 / 3:06 pm

      Exactly! It makes the act of falling in love so wonderful! Thank you. 💛

    • Emily
      Author
      August 26, 2018 / 3:07 pm

      It’s possibly my favourite of his! Hope you enjoy it! 😊

  9. August 26, 2018 / 11:35 am

    3 for 2 deals seem to be working out well for you! 😉

  10. August 26, 2018 / 2:40 pm

    I keep seeing One of us is Lying crop up – definitely going to have to add that to my TBR pile now! The name they gave us has such a beautiful cover as well – not to mention sounds like a good read. Great post!

    • Emily
      Author
      August 26, 2018 / 3:08 pm

      There’s definitely a reason that lots of people are talking about it! Doesn’t it? It’s so colourful, but still really subtle. Thank you. 😊

  11. August 26, 2018 / 3:04 pm

    My best pal bought me one of us is lying for my birthday but I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet!! I’m going to have a lot of rest time on my hands soon though so I’m planning to get stuck in and I’m so glad to hear that it’s a good one. I was a big PLL fan too so hopefully that’ll help! The second one sounds really lovely too. I love a good heartwarming story and I’m the same as you in the sense that I’m an all or nothing kind of person. Will definitely have to invest in that one!
    Alice Xx

    • Emily
      Author
      August 26, 2018 / 3:10 pm

      Hope you enjoy it when you do read it! And I hope your recovery goes well – make sure to grab lots of good books to keep you company. Would definitely recommend I Was Born for This for a comfort read. You’ll fly through it! 💛

  12. August 26, 2018 / 3:55 pm

    Book surprises are the best! I’m guilty of judging a book by its cover, by its summary, by just about everything! And I know that I shouldn’t do that because they’re 300+ pages (on average) of surprise, joy, sadness, excitement, love… there’s so much more to a book than its cover and summary. I have to admit that I’ve passed up on The Names They Gave Us based on its summary for the exact same reason. I think I may have to rethink this book and maybe pick it up.
    Great post!

    • Emily
      Author
      August 26, 2018 / 8:48 pm

      I completely agree with you! I’m incredibly guilty of this, but ever since TNTGU, I’ve been buying whatever catches my eye or intrigues me (whether I think I’ll like it or not) – I just kind of go for it. And I’ve found so many great reads because of it. I’d definitely recommend giving it a read. It’s so much more than meets the eye! I promise. Thank you. ☺️

  13. August 26, 2018 / 4:01 pm

    Ooh I love it when you pick a book at random and it turns out to be awesome! I did this with Wonder at the airport when I was going on holiday earlier this year. I really love the cover of I Was Born for This too, it’s so bright and eye catching, I’d definitely pick this up and read more. Even better that it’s a brilliant story too! Thanks for sharing your surprises Emily! <3 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

    • Emily
      Author
      August 26, 2018 / 8:49 pm

      It’s the best feeling! Like you’ve stumbled upon a little piece of genius that’s entirely your own to love. It really is! That’s definitely what pulled me in. Thank you for the comment! 💛

  14. August 26, 2018 / 4:47 pm

    I must read some of these! I’ve read one of us is lying on holiday and it was amazing!! Great post!

    • Emily
      Author
      August 26, 2018 / 8:49 pm

      Thank you! Hope you enjoy whatever you pick!

  15. August 26, 2018 / 10:48 pm

    I really love the feeling when a book surprises you in a positive way!

    • Emily
      Author
      August 27, 2018 / 3:09 pm

      It’s the best!

  16. August 27, 2018 / 7:50 am

    I find YA too young for me now but I do really want to read One of Us is Lying! Great review!

    • Emily
      Author
      August 27, 2018 / 3:10 pm

      I’ve given it to people of all ages, who have all loved it, so would definitely recommend! It doesn’t really fit into any age boundaries.

  17. August 27, 2018 / 4:39 pm

    A great post. My daughter reads a lot of YA but its not something I have tried yet. Thank you for the recommendations x

    • Emily
      Author
      August 27, 2018 / 11:05 pm

      You’re welcome!

  18. August 28, 2018 / 9:23 am

    The Rest of Us Just Live Here is definitely one of my favourite reads of the year, I need to get myself on more Patrick Ness books. I’ll be using this post to decide on my next few reads, after I attempt to get through my ridiculously big TBR pile.

    Megan // https://pixieskiesblog.wordpress.com

    • Emily
      Author
      August 29, 2018 / 8:29 pm

      Release is another great Patrick Ness pick, if you’re looking for something similar. Good luck getting through your TBR. Hope you enjoy whatever you read. 💛

  19. August 28, 2018 / 10:49 am

    Thank you so much for sharing these books, I am currently searching for a new book to read and I am really interested in « I was born for this » 😊✨

    • Emily
      Author
      August 29, 2018 / 8:30 pm

      You’re welcome! I’m so glad to hear that. It’s a great pick. 😊

  20. August 28, 2018 / 2:21 pm

    I should not have read this post. Now I have to add these to my overflowing TBR pile because they all sound amazing!

    • Emily
      Author
      August 29, 2018 / 8:30 pm

      I feel like I’m on a personal mission to make everyone’s TBR pile as tall as mine! 😂

  21. August 28, 2018 / 3:29 pm

    Adding these to my list – they look great. Thanks for sharing!

    • Emily
      Author
      August 29, 2018 / 8:30 pm

      Yay! Glad to hear it. Thank you for reading! 😊

  22. August 28, 2018 / 3:32 pm

    I’ve been in the need of looking for a good book! thank you for sharing!

    • Emily
      Author
      August 29, 2018 / 8:31 pm

      Thank you for reading!

  23. August 28, 2018 / 4:14 pm

    I must add all of these to my ‘to-read’ list because I inevitably go blank when I’m looking for a good new read. The weirdest book surprise I ever had was a little novel called ‘Fergus Crane’, which came free with some kind of cereal or something (the details are hazy) when I was around 10 or 11 – and I instantly fell in love with it after not expecting much. It’s a bit of an odd one, but I loved the plot and the characters, and the writing was so good.

    Cordelia || cordeliamoor.com

    • Emily
      Author
      August 29, 2018 / 8:31 pm

      That is such a brilliant way to discover a new book! Will definitely be looking that up. 😊

  24. August 28, 2018 / 5:36 pm

    Definitely will look at reading some of these! Great reviews!

    • Emily
      Author
      August 29, 2018 / 8:32 pm

      Thank you!

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