The thing about running a reviewer blog of any kind is - you are essentially a critic. And more often than not, we come to equate critique with criticism (and not the constructive kind). It's altogether too easy to get lost in a world of underwhelming reads, overhyped books and all manner of disappointing bookish experiences. But here at The Honest Bookclub, we do our best to promote optimism and a positive attitude towards reading. We firmly believe, after all, that there's something - an author, a genre, a movement - for everyone to enjoy.

So instead of focusing on the books we found sub par and unworthy of the praise, for this week's Top 10 Monday, we've chosen to showcase the exact opposite. Down below are the ten books we were most pleasantly surprised by - ones which tore down our prejudice and which managed to conquer our flimsy expectations.

More often than not, these are the books which one of us has read, raved about on this blog and proceeded to encourage the other to read. The benefits of having a co-blogger, all. The benefits of having a co-blogger.

1. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Picked by: Natalie

I was recommended this book by my co-blogger, Lexie, as well as everyone else on my Goodreads list and decided to buy it. I caved. What is all the fuss about? Well, I finally know. I’ll be honest, I don’t always like the big hyped books, there are many that I’ve DNFd or not been that fond of. Shatter Me is a different story. I’m absolutely loving this series! I’m half way through Ignite Me at the moment and I love everything about it, if it’s not your cup of tea, at least give it a go. It’s worth the read!

2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Picked by: Lexie

A few years ago, in my high school days, rumors had begun circulating that somewhere in the world, there were a few select freaks who actually enjoyed Required reading! (Gasp!) And not only did they enjoy the reading lists they were being set, they went out of their way to read more of those hideously boring classics in their spare time... without being forced to do it! (Again, gasp!)
I was certainly not one of those people.
Except I was. I really, really was. And Anna Karenina, set as required reading in my freshman year of high school, was the first of the many classics I'd come to love in my teens. And not all the rumored-negatives in the world (the whopping 970 pages of it, the ending, the slow pace, the protagonist being somewhat of an anti-hero) could put an end to this budding romance between myself and the world's classics.

3. Thoughtless by S.C Stephens

Picked by: Natalie

Even though it's one of my favourite book series, I nearly didn't read this one. I remember looking at it on GoodReads and thinking 'this really isn't for me' as it's about cheating and I thought it would be all sexsexsex (which it isn't).
I'm 100% against cheating so I didn't see how I could enjoy it. I decided to buy it after umming and ahhing about it, and of course, I ended up loving it. 
It just goes to show that you should at least try books involving a topic that's out of your comfort zone, because why not. It's something different, you might also have your mind changed about things (FYI, I'm still not happy about the cheating). It did give me an interesting perspective on what goes on in the minds of someone who's unfaithful. Also, it wasn't a fling, it's true love. I can let it go because... it's Kellan and Kiera. 

I'm so glad I bought this book. 

4. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

Picked by: Lexie

Where The DUFF is concerned, it was not only the case of judging a book by its cover (which, although stylistically well-done, would never have prompted me to give the book a try). Where The DUFF was concerned, it was the title, the synopsis, the "what a cute book" sort of praise and a myriad of other things which had me deeply apprehensive. And it's a book I never would have picked up at all had my co-blogger Natalie not sent it to me for my birthday this year. In the midst of insanity that was NaNoWriMo, I found myself determined to diversify my reading list and give the cute read a try (whereupon firstly I realized I liked The DUFF, and secondly I finally came to appreciate the old adage about venturing out of one's comfort zone). Step out of your comfort zone from time to time, guys. You won't regret it.

5. Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Picked by: Natalie

It's about aliens. That's what put me off. I saw so much hype about this series - not forgetting the amount of love for Daemon! - and I thought... eff it. I'll try it. Boy, am I glad! I've always avoided books involving aliens and the supernatural, so it's good to get out of that bubble of reading the same story over and over again. Why not try something I'd never usually pick up? If I hadn't seen the love for it online, I would have read the summary, seen the word 'alien' and thought NOPE. 

Don't judge a book by that one word that puts you off usually. Yeah, aliens might not always be everyone's cup of tea but honestly, it was exciting, had some great characters and it was a diverse way of telling a paranormal story.
Definitely try it! 

6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Picked by: Lexie

Pride and Prejudice snuck up on me. In a case of absurd self-imposed masochism, I picked up Jane Austen's most famous novel fully expecting to find it tedious. The most I hoped to gain from it, I imagine, was an insight into the mindset of a young woman in early-19th-century Britain. What I got instead was a lovely, satirical, oftentimes hilarious and surprisingly romantic tale, interspersed with witty social commentary of a woman whose mind was way ahead of her time. I read it in a single day, I loved it from chapter 1 to chapter 61, and I never proceeded to watch any of the movie adaptations. The book was just that enjoyable to me.

7. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Picked by: Natalie

Psychological books aren’t usually for me. I tend to always stick to the same genres or types of books. I’m very glad that Lexie, my co-blogger, recommended this book to me. It was out of my comfort zone, for sure, but it was still full of the stuff that I usually love in a story; interesting characters, a fast pace, twists and cliffhangers. Very well done.
It's not for everyone but it's undeniably something I'd recommend people pick up and attempt.

8. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Picked by: Lexie

In the case of The Hunger Games (which I only read in early 2014), I achieved a feat few book-lovers ever manage to achieve: remain entirely in the dark and spoiler-free when it comes to one of the largest book series on the market right now. But despite not knowing what it was about or who the protagonist was, I was distinctly aware of its existence, and of the enormous hype surrounding it. And it's not that I expected to outright dislike the series. I just didn't think anything could live up to the glowing praise bestowed upon it day in and day out, everywhere I turned. As it turns out, I was wrong. And thanks to my co-blogger's insistence that I read it, I got to find out how wrong I was. Thanks, Natalie!

9. The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

Picked by: Natalie

I thought this book would be too dark for me. So much death. So many dead bodies. So much blood. Yeah, not for me. I was pleasantly surprised though - this book was fantastic! It is quite gruesome but it still had some strong characters, a good storyline and a cliffhanger as well as a few twists. Everything that I love in a good book! Very captivating and a real page turner. I read this over Halloween and I think it was the perfect time to read something like this. I can't wait for the next book! 

10. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Picked by: Lexie

As far as Unearthly goes, it was comparison to other paranormal YA novels that did it a horrible disservice where I was concerned. Year after year, I kept being told that Cynthia Hand's Unearthly was essentially the same book as Lauren Kate's Fallen and Brodi Ashton's Everneath. Having read the latter two and found them enjoyable but not memorable, this comparison by the YA blogger community kept me from picking up Unearthly and putting this rumor to a test. And had Natalie not fallen head over heels in love with the series, it would probably have been years before I finally got around to it. In case you ever debated the merits of having a co-blogger, consider instances like these to be one of the foremost (of the many, many) perks. Unearthly, as it turned out, was just what the doctor ordered.

We're everywhere! And we'd love to hear from you. (Really, though. Don't just follow us. Follow us and fangirl with us. Any book you love, we probably love every bit as much. Go ahead!)