Monday, September 04, 2017

Tuesday Favorites: Favorite Fantasy Novel & My Top Ten Books That Were a Chore to Get Through

Each week Maureen from Maureen's Books asks participants to share a favorite on the weekly designated topic.

This week's topic is my favorite fantasy novel.

It is really hard to list just one favorite fantasy novel as I have read several that have stuck with me and are among my favorites: J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, A Game of Thrones by R.R. Martin, and The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, among them.

If I had to pick just one favorite . . . I still can't do it. It would be a tie.

More often than not, I prefer to read the book before seeing the movie, but it doesn't always work out that way. I am not even sure I knew about the book before my husband made me watch his favorite movie, The Princess Bride. I thought it was on the silly side, and not especially good. But the movie grew on me with each watching, and now I love it. Reading the book helped with that as well as it made me appreciate the movie even more.


My husband talked me into finally reading the book in 2004, and it was love at first page. Author William Goldman charmed me from the beginning of the introduction, and I loved every word of his book. I laughed out loud. I held my breath. I cried--both out of sadness and out of joy. It's one of my all time favorite books.

Funny enough, another of my all time favorite fantasy novels is one I saw in movie form first as well. At least, the first movie. And that would be The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I like to tease my husband that he tricked me into reading the books. I was so enamored with the first movie that he told me I should read the book. He had me believing he had read it. And so I did. And then I went on to read the next two books in quick succession. I absolutely love the books--the world J.R. Tolkien has created and I fell in love with all of his characters. So beautiful and rich! I was mesmerized. I love all three movies as well, even in their differences from the books.


What is your favorite fantasy novel? 

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely ladies at Broke and Bookish.

This week's  Top Ten Tuesday is Ten Books That Were A Chore To Get ThroughIt is not often I give attention to the books that I was less than impressed with. Enjoyment of a book is subjective. A book I love may be a book you hate or vice versa. The books on today's list have earned a lot of love from some people--just not me. This is just a list of the Top Ten books I rated 2 or under in the last five years. It is very rare I rate a book below a 2, simply because those are usually books I end up not finishing (and I don't rate books I do not finish). [Note: A 2 on my rating scale means I found the book to be okay or "meh". An 1 means I didn't like it. I used my Goodreads ratings for the sake of this list.]

1. Ripper by Isabel Allende (Rating: 2 Paws) ~ Described by the publisher as being an "atmospheric, fast-paced mystery involving a brilliant teenage sleuth who must unmask a serial killer in San Francisco." I was so excited to read this as it was my first Isabel Allende novel and a mystery to boot. I do want to give this author another chance as I know her work is well loved.  This one just didn't do much for me. 



2. Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley (Rating: 2 Paws) ~ Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte being one of my all time favorite novels, I couldn't resist this one about the Bronte siblings and their imaginary world come to life. I loved another of Coakley's novels and so had high hopes for this one. Alas, it was a chore to get through. I was bored most of the way through.



3. The Night Visitor by Dianne Emley (Rating: 2 Paws) ~ I love a good paranormal mystery and this one about a woman possessed who is compelled to uncover a murder. I wanted to like this one, but it just didn't work for me.



4. Under the Skin by Michel Faber (Rating: 2 Paws) ~ I really enjoyed this author's historical fiction novel Crimson Petal in White, and was interested to seeing how he pulled off writing a science fiction novel. Described by the publisher as "a grotesque and comical allegory, Under the Skin takes us on a heart-thumping ride through dangerous territory — our own moral instincts and the boundaries of compassion — to present a surreal representation of contemporary society run amok." I admit my opinion of this book did go up after a book club discussion of it, but it still fell flat for me.



5. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Rating: 2 Paws) ~ This book has gotten a lot of buzz, and I rushed to read it when I heard the movie was coming out. I wanted to like this one. I mean--witches! I love books about witches. Not so much this one though.



6. Kiss of Pride by Sandra Hill (Rating: 2 Paws) ~ Maybe this one was a case of wrong book at the wrong time. I was just beginning to appreciate romance novels again and thought a book about a Viking vampire angel sounded unique. Although there were aspects of this one I liked, ultimately, I finished it feeling disappointed. 



7. A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (Rating: 1 Paw) ~ I just finished listening to the audio of this 1932 Classic after many failed attempts at reading the print version. This time around it was more a matter of me wanting to come out on top by finishing it even though I wasn't especially enjoying it. I don't challenge a book like that very often, but sometimes I can't help myself.



8. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (Rating: 2 Paws) ~ This well loved modern classic was one I hoped to love. I really tried too. I just did not like the character of Owen Meany very much at all. In fact, I found him rather annoying.



9. Fifty Shades of Grey/Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James (Rating: 1 Paw) ~ I read the first two books in the trilogy because I wanted to know for myself why there were such polar reactions to this book. Why was my friend at work singing its praises and fawning over Christian? And why were so many of my book blogger friends castigating the trilogy? The sex scenes didn't bother me. The writing did. And I don't think much of the characters, Christian in particular. I ended up laughing my way through these two books more than I was probably meant to. And came away feeling like I didn't need to bother with the third.



10. Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris (Rating: 1 Paw) ~ After being unable to finish another of this author's books, I was given the opportunity to try again with this little gem. Only, it's not the kind of gem I find particularly appealing. I do not find him funny, but rather depressing. I acknowledge now that Sedaris is not for me.



What books did you find especially disappointing after reading? 


© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

66 comments:

  1. I haven't read any of the books you've listed, but I have had Brave New World on my TBR for a long time now. I'll get around to reading it eventually, but I keep putting it off 😅 And I feel like I resisted the Fifty Shades series quite well; my friends kept bugging me to read it but I just wasn't interested at all.

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    1. Louise - I am glad I finally got through Brave New World, but it was a real struggle. As for Fifty Shades... I'm surprised I made it through two of the books,to be honest.

      Thanks for visiting!

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  2. Ha! I totally know what you mean about Fifty Shades. I laughed my way through it too. :-)

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    1. Chrissi - I'm glad I'm not the only one. :-) Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. I appreciated having read Brave New World but it was a bit of a chore to get through it, the second time around as well, especially compared to Animal Farm and 1984 (for me, at least).

    By the way, LOTR is my favourite fantasy novel as well/one of my favourite books of all time =D

    My TTT

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    1. Lianne - I haven't read Animal Farm, but I loved 1984. I had really hoped if come around on Brave New World. Oh well. At least now I can say I've read it.

      Lord of the Rings is awesome. :-)

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. I was going to read Princess Bride once (LOVE the movie) but it didn't look like it would grab me, so I moved on to something else. Which surprised me! A lot of people seem to love the book though, I should give it another chance.

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    1. Greg - Not everyone liked the little breaks in the narrative of the main story, but I loved it. I think it is worth reading, if you get the chance. It's very true to the book, with only minor changes here and there.

      Thanks for visiting!

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  5. My favourite fantasy novels are The Dark is Rising series. It's got such a wonderful sense of innocence and darkness about it, it's always stuck with me. I haven't read any of these books though. I should probably get to the Princess Bride though at least!

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    1. Verushka - I haven't read The Dark Rising series yet. I am glad you recommend them though! Thanks for visiting.

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  6. Owen Meany has to be my all-time really, really hated-this-after-forcing-myself-to-read-it book. I didn't like the character of Owen at all, and I felt like the author was cruelly poking fun of religion. Probably just me.

    https://readerbuzz.blogspot.com/2017/09/books-i-read-and-loved-but-didnt-really.html

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    1. Deb - I had hoped to like Owen Meany. So many others had. I'm glad I'm not alone in disliking that one, including Owen himself.

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  7. Tolkien reigns in my fantasy world, but I love Robin Hobb and Kate Elliot as well. Abandoned Owen Meany.

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    1. Jenclair - Tolkien is pretty awesome. I like Kate Elliot too. I haven't tried Hobb yet.

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  8. I'm not a fantasy person but do kind of want to try The Princess Bride. I loved A Prayer for Owen Meany and Holidays on Ice. :/

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    1. Kathy - The Princess Bride is a lot of fun. :-) I had really hoped to like Sedaris's writing more. Oh well.

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  9. I think Holidays on Ice is the only Sedaris I've read - it was okay, but I'm not itching to read more by him. I actually really loved Brave New World!! :)

    I don't read a ton of fantasy books but The Princess Bride IS one I want to check out.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. Lauren - I kept hearing how funny Sedaris was, but he's just not for me. I do have a weird sense of humor though, so there is that.

      I have a feeling I'm in the minority when it comes to Brave New World.

      Thanks for visiting!

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  10. I struggled through a Prayer for Owen Meany and couldn't see why the book was so highly rated. I did not enjoy it at all.

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    1. Catherine - I don't really get it either. At least I'm not alone in not liking it.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  11. I haven't read any of the books on your list. Sorry you didn't enjoy them! Here is my Top Ten Tuesday.

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    1. Poinsettia - I guess if we liked everything we read, we wouldn't appreciate the books we love as much. Thanks for stopping by!

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  12. Ugh, I read another of Isabel Allende's books and did NOT like it at all. She's a very popular author so I don't know what I missed, but I was so turned off of trying anymore of her books after that one.

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    1. Rachel - It wasn't House of Spirits was it? That's the other one I plan to read by Allende. I've heard good and bad about it.

      Thanks for stopping by, Rachel!

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  13. Like you, I could never pick just one favorite- in any category! It's a tie between LOTR, Harry Potter, and the Amber series by Zelazny. Not too many years ago I would have added Mists of Avalon, but when I found out what a horrible person MZB was in real life, I just couldn't love the book anymore. I know what she did shouldn't change my opinion of her work, but there you go. Mists was life changing for me, though.

    In my 'chores to get through' list would be *anything* by John Irving, The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau (grim), The Other Side of the Wall, by Andrea Mara (I thought it was supernatural horror; it's not, just horrible), Vanity Fair, Tom Jones, Forever Amber- most things from that era!

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    1. Laurie - I haven't had a chance to read the Amber series yet. I understand your feelings about Marion Zimmer Bradley. I hesitated mentioning Mists of Avalon for that very reason. The book had a big impact on me when I was young, but my view of it has been sullied by the author's actions. I try to keep separate the work from the personal life of the author, but there are things I just can't get past.

      Thanks for stopping by, Laurie!

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    1. Ellen - I don't see why it wouldn't count as it does involve magic and such. :-) I really liked the hook Wicked, although I like the musical better.

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  15. I watched the movie of Owen Meany on tv and thought it unusual but okay. I tried the book and only got through a few chapters, then DNF.

    Of my own books-- and just counting this year alone-- I couldn't get into Daughter of Smoke and Bone, nor His Fair Assassin. My elder daughter recommended both of these YA Fantasys to me several times in the past couple of years, but I kept putting these down more than picking them up. I didn't bother finishing them, though I can certainly see why these were loved by other readers! Just my opinion, of course!

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    1. Rita - I didn't care for the movie version of Owen Meany,but I did watch it soon after reading the book to compare the two.

      I have a copy of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, so hopefully I will enjoy it.

      We all get something different out of the books we read, and so it's a given we won't always agree. But you know that. :-) I like hearing different viewpoints. Sometimes it gives me a different way of looking at things.

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  16. Lord of the Rings will forever be one of my favorites as well! :)
    And I DNF'ed Ripper myself, since it felt so slow and tedious, but I did enjoy some of Isabel Allende's other books! Also wasn't a fan of Beautiful Creatures.

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    1. Lindsey - I love the world Tolkien created!

      I'm glad to hear you liked Allende's other books. Hopefully I will too!

      Thanks for stopping by, Lindsey!

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  17. I love books about witches, too, but there's something about Beautiful Creatures that always makes me reluctant to pick it up whenever I consider reading it. Great list!

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    1. Jess - If you do read Beautiful Creatures, I hope you like it. It was more a case of the characters getting on my nerves that really dragged the book down for me.

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    2. Every once in awhile I find Sedaris hilarious but it's very rare and I think there's only one collection I actually enjoyed. Owen Meany is one I feel like I should read but don't really want to. I think I'll keep avoiding it! I read the first 50 Shades book and it was okay. The sex didn't bother me but I agree on the writing. I wasn't surprised to learn it was fan ficiton. Allende is on my TVR but I think I'll skip Ripper. It sounds like trudgery.

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    3. Katherine - I really wanted to like Sedaris's writing. Oh well. I do recommend skipping Ripper, especially as a mystery reader. Hopefully you and I will find we like Allende's other work.

      Thanks for stopping by, Katherine!

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  18. Oh gosh, I should have put A Prayer for Owen Meany on my list too. I have tried to read that book 3 or 4 times now and always end up throwing it back in the pile. Great list!

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    1. Suzanne - I really wanted to like Owen Meany. So many people love it.

      Thanks for visiting!

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  19. To be completely honest, I still haven't read the Princess Bride or a Tolkien book yet, I hope to do so soon, but it might still take a while. I agree Ripper is not Allende's best book, I prefer her earlier works.

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    1. Lynn - With all the books out there, I can see how you might not have gotten to them yet. :-) Hopefully you will enjoy them when you do! Thanks for stopping by.

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  20. Ah...50 Shades. I had so many people telling me that I had to read the book so I did. I didn't like it but read book 2 to see if it got any better. Let's just say that it didn't. I won't be reading the third one or watching any of the movies.

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    1. Carole - Yeah, I have no interest in the movies either. Thanks for stopping by!

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  21. No way, no how could I name one (or even two) favorite fantasy novels though it might be an interesting exercise to try and narrow it down. My problem is that my opinion would probably change depending on the day and then there's nostalgia. For example, Narnia's always at the top or near it but I think it just holds on because it was my favorite as a child.

    I haven't read any of the books on your "chore" list which I guess is a good thing for me! I do like David Sedaris and the books of his I have read and find him funny but his humor is definitely quirky and not to everyone's taste! And I do get what you mean about it being kind of depressing.

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    1. Stephanie - It is very hard narrowing down a favorite fantasy novel. I am still thinking of titles I didn't mention. I loved the Narnia books too.

      Thanks for visiting, Stephanie!

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  22. I think my favorite fantasy novels are Patricia McKillip's Riddlemaster of Hed series with Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword and Elizabeth Boyer's The Sword and the Satchel a close second and third. :)

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    1. Lark - I haven't tried McKillip yet, but I want to. Robin McKinley and Boyner are others I need to read. :-) Thank you for the recommendations!

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  23. I tried on Beautiful Creatures, but I felt kind of ripped off by the ending...

    Lauren @ Always Me

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    1. Lauren - I didn't like the ending of Beautiful Creatures either.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  24. Ugh, I feel you with Fifty Shades! I read it because people were like "you can't say bad things about it because you haven't read it". So yeah, I had to hate read it haha. And Beautiful Creatures WAS pretty "meh". I read it years ago, when it first came out, and moderately liked it, but I think if I read it today it would have not worked for me AT all. Great list!

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    1. Shannon - At least now we can say all the bad things we want to say about Fifty Shades. :-)

      Thanks for visiting!

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  25. Wendy, I'm TOtally with you your fantasy picks of HP, LOTR and The Princess Bride (haven't read the others). I love them all!

    And the first book that comes to mind whenever I think of torturous reading was THE WIZARD OF OZ. I know many people who loved those books, but they read them as children and we know we take things in differently when we're young. For me, reading it for the first time as an adult (and writer), the movie being one of my all-time favorites, from the very first page to the last it was like pulling my literary teeth. All I can say is the people who adapted the book to the movie and all the movie people involved were absolute geniuses in how they elevated it to such an amazing, iconic degree.

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    1. Donna Marie - I really enjoy reading fantasy. I don't know why I don't read more of it.

      I haven't attempted THE WIZARD OF OZ. I've thought about it, but I always talk myself out of it. I do like the movie though.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  26. Yeah, I wasn't feeling 50 Shades. It was pretty laughable, so I didn't read the rest of them. I've read a few of John Irving's books and loved them, but haven't read that one. Actually, I still haven't even watched the movie. His books do take a little time for me to get into, though.

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    1. Christy - It's nice to know I wasn't alone in finding it more funny than not. I would like to try something else by John Irving. I liked his writing overall, just not the book. I didn't care for the movie either, for the record. Thanks for visiting!

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  27. I read the first Fifty Shades book and decided not to continue with the trilogy due to two reasons: bad writing and the plot. However, I've friends who loved them so it's all about personal view and preference.

    I wanted to read A Prayer for Owen Meany but figured I'm not in a hurry after reading several negative reviews of it. We shall see. ;)

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    1. Melody - I know people who love Fifty Shades as well--so I agree. It does come down to personal preference. I can think of many people who don't like Jane Austen's writing at all--but I love it.

      Maybe try something else by Irving if you want to read something by him first. :-) To be fair though, A Prayer for Owen Meany is loved by many people I know. I always feel like the odd person out for not liking it.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  28. I've never read 'The Princess Bride' before, but it's definitely on TBR. I loved the movie.
    Lord of the Rings, just wasn't really for me. I enjoyed the movies, but the books were not me.
    Thanks for joining again this week. ;)

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    1. Maureen - I hope you like it if you do decide to read it. I know some people have a problem with the narrative breaks in the story and don't like the humor. I think it's great though. Thanks for visiting, Maureen!

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  29. I had forgotten about the Mists of Avalon. I think I read the first three and loved them.
    I'm not a fan of A Brave New World either.

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    1. Carol - I am glad I am not the only one who doesn't care for A Brave New World!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  30. So glad someone else listed Mists as a favorite fantasy novel - even if it was just a passing mention.

    Brave New World is on my TBR list because I have a fancy leather bound gilded pages copy of it. It's one of those classics that is still in copyright so harder to get an ecopy for free/cheap. I have a feeling I may view it similarly to 1984 (which I also didn't like).

    LotR is on my TBR list as well because I adore the movies.

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    1. Shannon - I really appreciated your post about Mists of Avalon. Thank you for that!

      I actually liked 1984, so maybe you will like Brave New World since I didn't. :-) I am glad I read it, at least.

      Thank you for visiting!

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  31. I've heard mostly negative things about Beautiful Creatures so I scrapped that from my want to read list.
    Sounds like 50 Shades of Grey would be better of being a humor book. ;)

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    1. Annemieke - I wanted to like Beautiful Creatures, I really did. I guess we can't like everything, can we?

      Fifty Shades read more like a comedy to me, at least. :-)

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  32. Well, heck, I just HAD to backtrack and comment on this post! LOVE IT!! :) :)

    I have to say that the Harry Potter series and "The Lord of the Rings" are tied for First Place in my "Favorite Fantasy" category. I dearly LOVE them both!! While Tolkien's writing is, of course, more in keeping with literary fiction, and Rowling's is more in the popular genre category, I'm not one to turn up my nose and snub Rowling. Both of these authors have TOWERING (no pun intended, haha) imaginations!! Both of them make readers totally immerse themselves in the fascinating worlds they have created!! So I say, "Long live Harry!!" just as much as "Long live Frodo!!" YAAAAAAAY!!!! :) :) :)

    As for your list of books that were a chore to get through, I'm sad that "Worlds of Ink and Shadow" disappointed you.... I would like to read this one myself, being the HUGE Charlotte Bronte fan that I am!! I might still do so, and see if my reaction is similar to yours. I don't own this book, and might borrow it from the library, just in case I don't like it, either.

    As for "Beautiful Creatures", what can I say? I do own this one, and had been thinking of reading it as the Halloween season approaches. Well, I'll try it out. If I don't like it, I'll either pack it off to Goodwill, or offer it as a prize in a future giveaway. Lol.

    Now, the Fifty Shades books.... You know what? I LOVE to HATE these books!!! First off, I personally think that BDSM is DISGUSTING. From the summaries I've read of these books on Wikipedia, I can see that Christian is a pretty sick puppy. And the girl (I forgot her name) is also sick, going along with his SICK bondage games. Besides, I'm REALLY TICKED OFF that this author based her books on the Twilight series!!!! How DARE she?! The Twilight books are WAY better!!!!!

    I just don't care for erotica AT ALL. EVERYTHING is reduced to sex. Not that I have anything against sex, ahem.... It's just that, in these books, such things as plot and character development take a back seat (oooh, pun DEFINITELY intended!) to all the graphically depicted, frenzied, physical interactions.

    In this day and age in which feminism has supposedly achieved great strides for us women, it's pretty disheartening to see SO many women going crazy for books in which the female MC is HUMILIATED, MANIPULATED, COERCED, and basically treated like PROPERTY. And then, somehow, the whole thing turns into an HEA!! Of course, in real life, this would be TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE, with such a relationship.

    There. Rant over!! Getting off my soapbox now! Lol.

    Well, thanks for sharing your thoughts, Wendy! I will be sure to check out the other books you've mentioned here!

    Thanks for being so concerned about me and my family during Hurricane Irma!! You're SO SWEET!! Hope you have a GREAT week!! HUGS TO YOU AND MOUSE!! <3 <3 <3 :) :) :)

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  33. Definitely give Allende another chance - Ripper is definitely not her usual kind of book. I love her magical realism and I don't usually like magical realism.

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