23 In Book Reviews

Popular Books That Lived Up to the Hype

I tend to scoff at popular books that show up on EVERY summer reading list or pop up all over my bookstagram feed. I assume a certain amount of groupthink is involved or lack of wanting to voice a negative opinion when so many others praise a novel. However, there are exceptions to this random prejudice that I created based on practically no evidence : ) So, it was a useful exercise for me to put together my list of books that I loved despite the hype. 


The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

This WWII historical fiction novel is enjoying a resurgence due to the release of the movie on Netflix in August. It’s probably my favorite WWII book, full of wonderful characters and a touching story.





Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

I’m a devoted fan of JoJo Moyes and Me Before You is still one of her best. The rest of the trilogy doesn’t live up to the standard, but you can read this one as a standalone.





A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with this grumpy old man, but he will win over anyone’s heart. Be prepared for ugly tears and have a box of tissues ready throughout. Ultimately though, this is a heart-warming and hopeful tale.



Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Before reading this, I assumed it was a typical steamy historical fiction romance. While those elements are certainly present in abundance, there’s a fascinating plot and intriguing characters that make this worth the read.





The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

This story of two sisters surviving in Nazi-occupied France is eye-opening. It showcases the horrors of civilian day-to-day life during a war and the impossible choices faced by these people. However, resilience and bravery are the themes that shine through.





The Martian by Andy Weir

Matt Damon is probably my biggest celebrity crush, so when I heard he was starring in this movie, I knew I had to read the book. As it turns out, the book completely captivated me. It felt extremely realistic and Matt Damon basically IS Mark Watney. 





A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

After reading a slew of YA dystopian / fantasy books that all started to blur together, I was skeptical of this series. However, the plethora of passionate reviews finally convinced me to give it a try. Well, once I started I couldn’t stop!!! They’re incredibly fast-paced and fun. Pure reading pleasure.




Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Gaiman is obviously a respected and beloved author, but I assumed his writing would be too “out-there” for me. Stardust is the first book I read and I was completely hooked. I actually wish it was twice as long so I could keep reading about these characters!





I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

For some unknown reason, I picked this as one of my first Book of the Month selections. It’s a mystery/thriller that starts with a little boy being killed by a car. The twist in the middle literally made my jaw drop! I normally avoid this genre, but I honestly loved every minute of this one.





Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I think I’ve recommended this book to more people than any other. It’s a geeky/nerdy love fest with a multitude of 80’s pop culture references and a virtual reality treasure hunt. P.S. Surprisingly I loved the movie, despite all the changes! 






What popular books would you add to this list? Are there any that you hated but everyone else seems to love?

For more book lists, check out my Top 10 World War II Novels and my Favorite Books of 2018 (so far)!

*Disclosure – I earn a tiny commission for any items purchased through the links above. The price to you remains the same so thank you for supporting this book blog!!


  • Reply
    July 27, 2018 at 10:42 am

    I absolutely loved Outlander and Me Before You! The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society and A Man Called Ove are both on my list, so I’m glad to hear they were good. I think I’d add Hillbilly Elegy to the list. It’s non-fiction and I wasn’t sure about it because it blew up last year and I don’t typically trust things that are over-hyped, but it was really interesting and I thought the author lent a great point of view to the story he was telling.

    • Reply
      Rachel Kamery
      July 31, 2018 at 7:03 pm

      I just started listening to Hillbilly Elegy today! So far I’m enjoying hearing the author tell his own story.

  • Reply
    July 27, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    I tend to avoid the popular/hyped books because I always seem to be the one person that doesn’t like them. But I recently read My Lady Jane, which it seemed like everyone was raving about last year, and I loved it!

    • Reply
      Rachel Kamery
      July 31, 2018 at 7:02 pm

      Glad I’m not the only one with that attitude. I’ll have to check out My Lady Jane. I don’t think I’d heard of it yet…

  • Reply
    July 29, 2018 at 11:25 am

    I’m going to have to try Stardust…I loved The Ocean at the End of the Lane, but never *quite* enjoyed his other books.

  • Reply
    July 31, 2018 at 10:53 am

    I’ve been seeing previews for the movie Netflix(?) made from the first book on your list. It looks really good, so I’m happy to see that the book is good as well!

    Here is our Top Ten Tuesday. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Leslie @ Books Are The New Black
    July 31, 2018 at 11:59 am

    So many great books on this list. A Man Called Ove is one of my all time favorite books! I got in on it before it was hyped and didn’t put it on my list. Great list!

    Top Ten Tuesday

  • Reply
    Megan @ The Hungry Bookworm
    July 31, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    You’re the second person to remind me I forgot to add The Martian to my list! 🙁 I loved it so much. I also really loved Ready Player One, but I’m pretty sure I read it before it was widely hyped… and then I remember telling literally everyone I knew to read it too!

    You do have some really great ones on here… and you’re making me reconsider reading Outlander. I have the same reservations that you appeared to have before you picked it up. Was it easy to get into?

    • Reply
      Rachel Kamery
      July 31, 2018 at 6:59 pm

      I think I remember being hooked pretty fast on Outlander and then absolutely flying through the rest of the book. Even though I struggled with the next book, I still own Outlander and will happily go back and read it multiple times, I’m sure.

  • Reply
    Vicki @ Reading in Wellies
    July 31, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    Outlander made my list too! The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie and ACOTAR are on my tbr. I Let You Go was a complete surprise for me. A work colleague lent it to me and I didn’t expect to like it. I couldn’t put it down!

    • Reply
      Rachel Kamery
      July 31, 2018 at 6:58 pm

      Sounds like we have similar reading tastes!

  • Reply
    Aj @ Read All The Things!
    August 1, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    I’m always skeptical of hype. I’m rebellious and never like doing what’s popular. I’m glad you liked some popular books. I liked A Man Called Ove, too.

  • Reply
    Amy @ Quixotic Pixels
    August 1, 2018 at 6:44 pm

    Great list! I haven’t read Me Before You or I Let You Go–but I totally agree with your assessment of the others!

  • Reply
    December 5, 2018 at 9:55 am

    You’ve got a good list! I loved The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society, Ready Player One, A Man Called Over, and ACOTAR trilogy. I don’t know that I could pick a favourite among them and they are all different.

    I was “meh” about I Let You Go and I am probably the only person on earth who didn’t LOVE The Nightingale. It might have to do with the fact that my husband is Jewish and my daughter’s name is Rachel and the book just hit too close to home for me. I couldn’t finish it.

  • Reply
    Elizabeth @Silver's Reviews
    December 5, 2018 at 10:53 am

    I enjoyed The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society. I loved the characters too.

    I Let You Go was VERY good.

    I haven’t read any of the others.

    These are the ones I chose as WORTH THE HYPE:

    1. OUR HOUSE by Louise Candlish was very good. I gasped at the last line.

    2. THE OTHER WOMAN was good – I liked the surprises but also wanted to jump into the book and shake Emily.

    3. LIES by T. M. Logan was definitely a summer MUST read.

    4. THE LIES WE TOLD by Camilla Way draws you in and doesn’t let you go until you turn the last page.

    5. SOLD ON A MONDAY by Kristina McMorris. A heartwarming but heartbreaking book.


    • Reply
      Rachel Kamery
      December 6, 2018 at 10:30 am

      Thanks for visiting 🙂 A lot of those on your list are new to me so thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Bryan G. Robinson
    December 5, 2018 at 11:56 am

    My wife really enjoyed The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society. The second one today (among the other bloggers participating in #AMonthofFaves) that my wife enjoyed, that I haven’t read yet. I guess that might mean I should read them, huh? 🙂

    I liked Stardust, but for some reason, I enjoyed the movie more. I did love Neverwhere, though.

    • Reply
      Rachel Kamery
      December 6, 2018 at 10:28 am

      My husband’s actually the one who gives me book recommendations 🙂 He’s excellent at picking fantasy novels I’d like. I still have to read Neverwhere…

    • Reply
      Michelle Harmon
      March 18, 2020 at 10:39 am

      If you particularly liked Neverwhere, you might like a book by Nick Harkaway call AngelMaker. He’s John LeCarre’s son and a fabulous writer. All of his books are good, but I particularly recommend that one.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    A Man Called Ove was such a delight. Have you seen the Stardust movie? Or read Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones? It was inspired by the same poem as Stardust.

    • Reply
      Rachel Kamery
      December 6, 2018 at 10:27 am

      I did see the Stardust movie and liked it quite a lot. I’ve never heard of that book so I’ll check it out!!

  • Reply
    Tamara @ Traveling With T
    December 5, 2018 at 5:09 pm

    I LOVED The Nightingale, but can barely read WWII books after reading that.

    I remember liking both Me Before You and Ready Player One a few years ago!

    • Reply
      Rachel Kamery
      December 6, 2018 at 10:26 am

      I took a break from WWII books after that one as well. Actually haven’t gotten back into them yet ha.

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