Top Ten Tuesday: Great Books, Few Ratings (aka Hidden Gems)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic: 
Great Books, Few Ratings

Big thumbs up to this week's prompt. Giving some love to hidden gems. Those books that are so good and deserve a lot more attention that they get (in this case, books with fewer than 2,000 ratings on GoodReads). 

Jolene Perry
# of GoodReads ratings: 1,991

Synopsis: All they have in common is that they're less than perfect. And all they're looking for is the perfect distraction.

Kate's dream boyfriend has just broken up with her and she's still reeling from her diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Aidan planned on being a lifer in the army and went to Afghanistan straight out of high school. Now he's a disabled young veteran struggling to embrace his new life. When Kate and Aidan find each other neither one wants to get attached. But could they be right for each other after all?

Granted, I have a complicated relationship with Jolene Perry. I've read others by her that I outright disliked. But that doesn't change the fact that I seriously love this one. The two main characters felt so genuine - just two regular people dealing with real-life situations and their story made a big impact on me.

Marley Jacobs
# of GoodReads ratings: 72

Synopsis: Twenty-four-year-old Nicole Fletcher is having a rough summer. The woman who raised her is dying and there’s nothing she can do about it. Nothing but find solace in the forbidden fantasies starring her best friend’s younger brother. Nic knows there are some lines you can never cross – but when it comes to “little” Landon Pike, she kind of already has. She tries to stay away but when your world is falling apart, you can’t help but fall right along with it. Good thing Landon refuses to let her fall alone.

This is new adult with depth. Yes, there's a romance, but it also deals with family and grief. Filled with wonderful characters (both main characters and secondary), great humor and banter, and a lot of heart, this one deserves so much more attention.

Katy Upperman
# of GoodReads ratings: 378

Synopsis: The last thing Elise wants is to start over in a new town. But after her brother’s death in Afghanistan, she and her mother move to a sleepy coastal village to be closer to Elise’s sister-in-law and niece.
When Elise meets Mati during a beachside walk, they quickly discover how much they have in common. Mati is new to town, too. Over the course of the summer, their relationship begins to blossom, and what starts out as a friendship becomes so much more.
But as Elise and Mati grow closer, her family becomes more and more uncomfortable with their relationship, and their concerns all center on one fact—Mati is Afghan.
Beautifully written, utterly compelling, and ultimately hopeful, The Impossibility of Us asks—how brave can you be when your relationship is questioned by everyone you love?
There were several instances where I was floored by the low number of ratings for certain books, and this is one of them. How can this book - this amazingly well-written, heartfelt gem of a book - have just 378 ratings? I don't know how this one (apparently) stayed under the radar, but that's a travesty because it is filled with emotion and tackles a timely issue so well. One of my favorites of 2018.

Renee Carlino
# of GoodReads ratings: 1,685

Synopsis: A powerful story of two people who spend years denying their scientifically-proven chemistry.

Penny spends her afternoons sitting outside a sandwich shop, surrounded by ghosts. Fourteen years ago, this shop was her childhood dance studio... Now she’s a suburban housewife, dreading the moment her son departs for MIT, leaving her with an impeccably decorated McMansion and a failing marriage. She had her chance at wild, stars-in-her-eyes happiness, but that was a lifetime ago. After The Kiss. Before The Decision.

The Kiss was soulful. Magical. Earth-shattering, And it was all for a free gift card. Asked to participate in a psych study that posed the question, “Can you have sexual chemistry without knowing what the other person looks like?” Penny agreed to be blindfolded, make polite conversation with a total stranger, and kiss him. She never expected The Kiss to change her life forever and introduce her to Gavin: tattooed, gorgeous, and spontaneous enough to ask her out seconds after the blindfolds came off.

For a year, they danced between friendship and romance—until Penny made The Decision that forced them to settle for friendship. Now, fourteen years later, both of their lives are about to radically change—and it’s his turn to decide what will become of their once-in-a-lifetime connection.

While this isn't necessarily my favorite by Carlino, this is still a solid read that had me 100% invested so I'm surprised it falls into the 'fewer than 2,000 ratings' range. Penny sometimes had me wanting to shake her but even so I pulled hard for her and Gavin both. Filled with bad timing, bad decisions and just bad circumstances, their friendship was so enduring and they traveled a long road together.

Martin Wilson
# of GoodReads ratings: 693

Synopsis: Sam Walsh had been missing for three years. His older sister, Beth, thought he was dead. His childhood friend Josh thought it was all his fault. They were the last two people to see him alive.

Until now. Because Sam has been found, and he’s coming home. Beth desperately wants to understand what happened to her brother, but her family refuses to talk about it—even though Sam is clearly still affected by the abuse he faced at the hands of his captor.

And as Sam starts to confide in Josh about his past, Josh can’t admit the truths he’s hidden deep within himself: that he’s gay, and developing feelings for Sam. And, even bigger: that he never told the police everything he saw the day Sam disappeared. 

As Beth and Josh struggle with their own issues, their friends and neighbors slowly turn on Sam, until one night when everything explodes. Beth can’t live in silence. Josh can’t live with his secrets. And Sam can’t continue on until the whole truth of what happened to him is out in the open.

This is one of those sleeper books that didn't seem to make much of a splash when it was released (in 2017). But it was a gut-wrenching read that has stayed with me. My heart broke again and again for Sam, and while this book also had a strong focus on the impact his kidnapping had on family and friends, it was Sam's own story and aftermath that had me trying to choke back the tears.

Jessica Redmerski
# of GoodReads ratings: 533

Synopsis: Thais Fenwick was eleven-years-old when civilization fell, devastated by a virus that killed off the majority of the world’s population. For seven years, Thais and her family lived in a community of survivors deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. But when her town is attacked by raiders, she and her blind sister are taken away to the East-Central Territory where she is destined to live the cruel and unjust kind of life her late mother warned her about. 

Atticus Hunt is a troubled soldier in Lexington City who has spent the past seven years trying to conform to the vicious nature of men in a post-apocalyptic society. He knows that in order to survive, he must abandon his morals and his conscience and become like those he is surrounded by. But when he meets Thais, morals and conscience win out over conformity, and he risks his rank and his life to help her. They escape the city and set out together on a long and perilous journey to find safety in Shreveport, Louisiana. 

Struggling to survive in a world without electricity, food, shelter, and clean water, Atticus and Thais shed their fear of growing too close, and they fall hopelessly in love. But can love survive in such dark times, or is it fated to die with them?

I had exactly two 5-star reads in 2018 and this was one of them. So how is it possible that it has barely 500 ratings? This book just swallowed me whole and I felt as if I were living it all right along with Thais and Atticus. Why are more people not reading this book? Gah!

Samatha Harris
# of GoodReads ratings: 262

Synopsis: Alexandra McCabe​​ is disconnected from the world, grieving the loss of her parents...

Content with studying and keeping to herself, Alex has no interest in the campus playboy, Drew Collins, trying to get close to her. But even dousing him with beer doesn't deter the easy-going charmer, and against her better judgment, the pair fall into a reluctant friendship.

Drew is bored with college life, and Alex's romantic rejection intrigues him...

Their friendship is good for both of them, but Drew is used to getting what he wants, and he's tired of shallow sorority girls. He's much more interested in the feisty redhead, but despite his growing feeling, Alex keeps him firmly in the friend zone.

Old heartaches and new tragedies deepen a complicated relationship... (Abridged because this has the longest synopsis I've ever seen on GoodReads - just go ahead and tell the whole story why don't you? Sheesh.)

All three books in this trilogy are enjoyable but it's this first one that made the biggest impression on me. I can't say that this one is super unique or brings something new and different to the new adult/contemporary romance genre, but it still had me hooked. The blend of Samatha's writing that made every conversation ring true and two main characters who were so incredibly likable made for a real winner that deserves a lot more attention from fans of contemporary romance.

Alex Evansley
# of GoodReads ratings: 424

Synopsis: Teddy Sharpe is kind of famous. He might actually be on his way to being really famous, especially if he'd nailed an audition for the lead role in the movie adaption of the newest bestselling young adult book series. There's just one problem: He totally blew the audition. And he's stuck in a tiny North Carolina airport. And his maybe-ex-girlfriend kind of just broke up with him.
The weekend isn't exactly looking good until Bennett Caldwell, author of the very book series he just auditioned for, takes pity on him and invites him to her family's lake house. Away from the glitz and glam of Hollywood for a few days, Teddy starts to relax . . . and somehow he and Bennett just click. But dating is hard enough when you aren't the subject of several dozen fanblogs, and the Internet is full of juicy gossip about Teddy and Bennett . . . gossip that Bennett might not be prepared to handle.

Almost a year after reading this one and I still can't decide if it's YA or new adult. It seems to be marketed as YA but Bennett turns 18 during the course of the novel and Teddy is 20, so...  Regardless of the target audience, if you're looking for a total feel-good experience this is the one. Super likable characters and fantastic banter and humor that gave me serious Becky Albertalli vibes made this one a total treat. So why only 424 ratings? No reason I can think of because I already want more from Evansley.

Off the Ice/Breaking the Ice
Juniper Falls series
Julie Cross
# of GoodReads ratings: 595/327

Synopsis: Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business—a hockey bar beside the ice rink—afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again.

Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good.

It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love. (Synopsis is for Off the Ice. Click link above for Breaking the Ice synopsis.)

This is a contemporary YA series that deserves so much more attention. Cross has written some solid new adults titles and she excels just as well at YA. I love these characters (that carry over from book to book), I love the small town setting, I love the hockey, the story lines... I love it all. (Note: the third book in this series releases next week and my review can be found here.)


The Edge of Juniper/Juniper Limits/Juniper Skies
The Juniper series
Lora Richardson
# of GoodReads ratings: 215/35/21

Synopsis: Fay Whitaker, sixteen years old and yearning for adventure, is excited to spend the summer with her fearless cousin Celia in small-town Juniper, Indiana.

But Fay soon discovers that her summer home is not what she expected. She is alarmed by her uncle’s temper, and learns of the grudge he holds against the Dearing family. Celia handles the tension at home by escaping with her boyfriend, leaving Fay with time on her hands—time that leads her straight to Malcolm Dearing, off-limits because of his last name. Fay is captivated by Malcolm’s warmth and intensity. She finds that trying to stay away from him only makes her think of him more.

Fay and Celia are launched on a journey, and each must attempt to navigate the thrilling and unpredictable world of love. Everything Fay thinks she knows about love is put to the test, as relationships unfold and reveal themselves in ways she never before dreamed. Synopsis is for The Edge of Juniper. Links to others are above.)

I swear, everyone must be tired of me touting this series but I can't help it. This is the kind of YA I love. And more people need to be reading these books. I always say that Katie McGarry is my #1 when is comes to YA - and she is. But while her books tackle serious social issues, often in a near life or death manner, Richardson's books take a somewhat softer approach. The issues are no less important, and the emotions are no less real, and yet there is a sweetness and an innocence woven throughout that just does something for me. I adore the characters, I am invested in their lives, and I finish every one with a smile on my face and a full heart. I won't stop recommending this series... or anything else Richardson writes.


Have you read any of these books?
What is your favorite underrated read?


  1. I am a little surprised to see a Renee Carlino book on this list and the Katy Upperman book too. I thought they were pretty popular. My library has The Summer I Found You and I vow to read it before the end of the year, because you have talked about it before, and I think I could love this book too.

    1. Those two totally surprised me, Sam. A Renee Carlino with only 1,600 ratings? What the heck is with that? Okay, you vow to read The Summer I Found You before the end of the year and I vow to read both Josh & Hazel *and* Starry Eyes (way before the end of the year). :)

  2. So many awesome sounding books!

    Goodnight Nic has been on my TBR for a while so I think I'll read that soon...

    1. Oh, I hope you do, Nicci. And I'll be excited to see what you think of it. (And now the pressure of recommending a book begins. LOL)

  3. I love the Summer I Found You and Blind Kiss. I have The Impossibility of Us to get to. Great list!

    1. You are one of the few people I know that's read The Summer I Found You, Grace. I think you'll love The Impossibility of Us.

  4. All of these are new to me and I'm in love with the cover for The Summer I Found You. I've heard good things about Perry's books so I may have to give that one a try.

    1. I think the cover is what initially attracted me to The Summer I Found You. Luckily I ended up loving the inside even more than the outside. :)

  5. I've seen Jolene Perry on other people's lists and that makes me sad because I LOVE HER! I have Goodnight, Nic on my shelf because of your review. ;) And I also loved Kill Devil Hills so... The others are going on my tbr because if you loved them, I know I will. :)

    1. Doesn't it just make you sad when authors/books you love don't get the attention they deserve? I hope you'll enjoy Goodnight, Nic if/when you get around to it.

  6. I've actually heard of a few of these, although I haven't read any of them. I've heard great things about The Impossibility of Us! Maybe it's time to give some of them a read!

    1. The Impossibility of Us was just wonderful. Upperman's first book was good, but this one was even better.

  7. I don't know what my favorite under rated book is. I would have to go through GR and I don't have enough time for that. But, to me it would be Sadie and Anna Dressed in Blood. Two of my most favorite books.


    1. I've seen so many rave reviews for Sadie. Eventually I'll pick that one up.

  8. I've read Jessica Redmerski and Julie Cross before, but not these books. I really want to check them both out!

    1. This one felt so different from Redmerski's other work... but in a great way. I truly loved it. Other than the Juniper Falls series, I've only read one or two others by Julie Cross. I definitely want to read more from her.

  9. I haven't read any of these. I've heard of Katy Upperman before. I hear she writes amazing stories. I really love The Summer I Found You cover. It's gorgeous!!!

    1. Katy Upperman is so good! I really liked her first one, Kissing Max Holden, but The Impossibility of Us was just outstanding.