The first four books are ones I read at school because they were shortlisted for an award, and I had pretty low expectations for some of them, but they all turned out to be pretty good. The others are ones I chose myself and expected to enjoy, but they exceeded my expectations.
Airman by Eoin Colfer
I read this because it was on the Carnegie shortlist one year, which I was reading through with some others at school. I didn't expect to enjoy it because it looked quite sci-fi-y which wasn't really a genre I enjoyed then. But actually, I really enjoyed it! (It's really more historical than sci-fi; now I'd probably class it as ruritanian).
Creature of the Night by Kate Thompson
Also read because it was on the Carnegie shortlist. This wasn't the kind of book I would usually read, and I found the start a bit slow, but once it got going I did enjoy it quite a lot.
Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Again, this was probably not the kind of book I would usually read, but I thought it was pretty good.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This was on the Red House shortlist. I'd seen it around a lot and thought I might be interested in it, but was hesitant because I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy it and it also looked like it could be quite violent/dark. Which it kind of was, but I really enjoyed it anyway.
Raider's Tide by Maggie Prince
I picked this up very cheaply at a school library sale, thinking it might be enjoyable - it's historical fiction which is one of my favourite genres, but I don't think I had massively high expectations for it. However, I really liked it (and discovered on rereading it lately that it still holds up now, which not everything I read as a teenager does).
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne
I mean, I expected to enjoy this but had some reservations about it. However, although I am aware that it had some flaws, I did find it a very entertaining read which I enjoyed a lot (and it would have been amazing to see on stage).
Escape from Rome by Caroline Lawrence
This was the first in a sequel-series to one of my favourite series when I was younger, and I wasn't sure whether it would be as good, or whether I would enjoy it as much now as I would have done had it been out eight or ten years ago. But it was really good, and I think I possibly prefer it to the original Roman Mysteries series. (The sequel was very good, too, and I'm now eagerly awaiting book three.)
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
This is not the sort of book I usually tend to read, but I'd heard so many good things about it that I decided to try it, although I was a bit hesitant, and I am glad to say I really enjoyed it.
Saffy's Angel by Hilary McKay
I love Hilary McKay's books, but the first time I read this book (which was one of the first of hers that I read) I thought it was enjoyable, but nothing special (I rated it three stars). However, on rereading it recently I enjoyed it so much more. I hope to reread some of the other books in the series soon!
The Small Woman by Alan Burgess
This was another book I expected to enjoy, but I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. Although it's non-fiction, it's also a gripping narrative.