Books I Thought Weren’t Going to be 5 Stars but Were!

We are now doing the opposite of what I posted about last week which is talking all about the books that surprised me and were 5 star reads despite me thinking they weren’t going to be! Let’s jump in!

To preface, most of these books I thought I would enjoy but I didn’t expect to love them as much as I did!

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé 

What I thought my rating was going to be: 4 stars

Plot: Welcome to Niveus Private Academy, where money paves the hallways, and the students are never less than perfect. Until now. Because anonymous texter, Aces, is bringing two students’ dark secrets to light. Talented musician Devon buries himself in rehearsals, but he can’t escape the spotlight when his private photos go public. Head girl Chiamaka isn’t afraid to get what she wants, but soon everyone will know the price she has paid for power. Someone is out to get them both. Someone who holds all the aces. And they’re planning much more than a high-school game…

Like I said, I was expecting to enjoy this. I had heard amazing things about this book and I was hoping to feel the same. I love a mystery but I don’t always love contemporary high-school settings. As I have stated many times, contemporary settings aren’t always my fave kind of book settings so because of that I thought it was going to be 4 stars.

That being said, I read this book in like 2 days. I literally could not put it down. I connected so quickly with the characters and I was so invested in their investigation and let me tell you – this story goes places I was not expecting. Due to that surprising nature and my absolute love for Devon and Chiamaka, it shot up to that 5 star mark.

Mexican Gothic – Silvia Moreno-Garcia

What I thought my rating was going to be: 4 stars

Plot: After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region. Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid. There are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness. And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

Again, I expected to enjoy this novel. I love a historical mystery but I thought I could probably guess where the story was going to go and how it was going to end. Well, let me tell you. YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHERE THIS STORY IS GOING TO GO. I promise you when I tell you that this book goes in such an unexpected direction, the book grabbed me and sat me firmly down and said you will finish this book! It was so so so good. That unexpected element put it in the 5 star bracket.

Daughters of Night – Laura Shepherd-Robinson

What I thought my rating was going to be: 3 stars

Plot: London, 1782. Desperate for her politician husband to return home from France, Caroline ‘Caro’ Corsham is already in a state of anxiety when she finds a well-dressed woman mortally wounded in the bowers of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The Bow Street constables are swift to act, until they discover that the deceased woman was a highly-paid prostitute, at which point they cease to care entirely. But Caro has motives of her own for wanting to see justice done, and so sets out to solve the crime herself. Enlisting the help of thieftaker, Peregrine Child, their inquiry delves into the hidden corners of Georgian society, a world of artifice, deception and secret lives. But with many gentlemen refusing to speak about their dealings with the dead woman, and Caro’s own reputation under threat, finding the killer will be harder, and more treacherous than she can know . . .

Now like I said I love a good historical mystery but let me tell you, when I saw the size of this book, it scared me. Was this book going to be able to hold my attention enough? Is the plot going to be engaging? This was one of the books that secured historical mysteries for me. Before this book I only ever read like your Agatha Christie books and that was it. So, going into this book I was nervous.

This book just blew my mind. Despite it being a tome, I sped through it! I thought the mystery was super compelling and it went places I didn’t think of and just when I thought I knew everything the author added another layer to the story. I thought the characters were expertly written, especially Caro. I loved her so so much! It was such an exhilrating book that I just couldn’t put it down.

It Happened One Summer – Tessa Bailey

What I thought my rating was going to be: 3 stars

Plot: Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough. So he cuts her off, and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar… in Washington. Piper hasn’t even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills. But, how bad could it really be? She’s determined to show her stepfather—and the hot, grumpy local—that she’s more than a pretty face. Except it’s a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. The fun-loving socialite and the gruff fisherman are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. Piper doesn’t want any distractions, especially feelings for a man who sails off into the sunset for weeks at a time. Yet as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants. LA is calling her name, but Brendan—and this town full of memories—may have already caught her heart. 

Now I saw so much hype for this author and this book spefically on TikTok that I gave in and read it. At that point I wasn’t a massive romance fan so I didn’t think it was going to be my cup of tea. But I ended up loving it. I loved Piper as a character. I thought she was hilarious and I loved her chemistry with Brendan. But what I also loved was the setting. Tessa Bailey does a great job of making you fall in love with not just Brendan but also the place he calls home. You follow Piper on her journey and you alongside her fall in love with Westport and it’s inhabitants. I thought this was such a fun and easy read and I literally bought the sequel the day I finished it!

The Five People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom

What I thought my rating was going to be: 2 stars

Plot: Eddie is a wounded war veteran, an old man who has lived, in his mind, an uninspired life. His job is fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. On his 83rd birthday, a tragic accident kills him as he tries to save a little girl from a falling cart. He awakes in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a destination. It’s a place where your life is explained to you by five people, some of whom you knew, others who may have been strangers. One by one, from childhood to soldier to old age, Eddie’s five people revisit their connections to him on earth, illuminating the mysteries of his “meaningless” life, and revealing the haunting secret behind the eternal question: “Why was I here?”

Now this was an impulse, in the moment, type of purchase. I had left one of the books, I was meant to take with me on holiday, at home so I randomly picked this one up on a whim and thought I will probably not like this. I don’t like character focused novels, I don’t like books that look back and reflect on one’s actions and bad moments in life. It’s the kind of book I avoid wholeheartedly. But this book was the opposite of what I expected. It was positive and it was a celebration of life. The good and the bad. It was about the impact the decisions we make have on others lives no matter how small. It left me with more hope than I thought it was going to and it impacted me a lot!

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