End of Year Book Survey: 2016

It is officially 2017 now, and since I am trying to get back to blogging after a few months of absence from this platform, I knew that looking back on my reading year of 2016 was the best option. I was torn between the top ten books and this survey, but the latter looks a bit more challenging, and I want to dedicate more time for my official come-back post. Maybe I will do the former post as well later on, maybe not. Although I will be completing only the first section of this survey, it still leaves me with quite a lot of difficult questions ahead. So I better get started now…

Before I start, I just want to credit the creator of this excellent survey, allowing readers to reflect on their reading of the previous year. Jamie @ The Perpetual Page-Turner is the one hosting this wonderful survey, and I could not pass the opportunity to participate.

2016 has been a good year for me reading-wise. I have read 60 books, surpassing my Goodreads challenge of 50, with quite a few exceptional reads.

I am not a person who ever re-reads the books (with Harry Potter being the only exception, and it happening years after reading it in the first place), so I can only share my number of the new books (at least for me).

2016 was also a year when I rediscovered my love for fantasy, mainly YA, realising that it is not really silly at all, but can be really intense, creative, smart, and magical. So, therefore, fantasy was the dominant genre of the books I’ve read in 2016.

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1. Best Book You Read In 2016?

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Although 2016 has gifted me with many great reads, It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover comes as a true winner. This book affected me deeply, changing my perspective of things I was so sure I would never change my opinion about. It is a very emotional read, which surpassed any other book that I have read in the previous year, and none of the others could simply measure up to this one.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

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Whether it is as a result of every incredibly great thing I have heard about this book prior to reading it, or that the storyline was the one I have heard before way too many times, Eleanor and Park just did not do it for me. I guess me being late to the party was at play here, and I wonder if my opinion would have been different if I have read this book earlier, being unaware of the hype surrounding it.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

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Not that astounding plot-wise, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I have enjoyed this book. Truly, when I started Clockwork Angel, my expectations were quite low, since I thought that The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare was pretty mediocre. But I got so attached to all these characters and so invested in the story, that it ended up surprising me a great deal.

 

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

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I believe this book will appear on numerous questions in this post as it impacted me greatly. After reading it, I pushed all my friends to read it as well (and it is not an ordinary task since my friends do not read that much). I do believe that this book should be read by everyone, and will be the one I will be recommending to everybody for years to come.

 

5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?

It is quite a difficult question since series was my thing this year, but I will try to choose wisely.

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Best Series I started would have to be The Infernal Devices, proving me that authors should be given second chances. Although I do not think this series is that outstanding quality-wise, but it definitely sucked me up to the magical world and did not let go.

 

 

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Best Sequel would have to be Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas. To this day, I cannot stop feeling utterly disappointed by the turnout of the progression of the series. Although I and the series have more of a hate rather than love relationship, this book blew my mind, delivering everything a reader can hope for from a sequel.

 

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The Best Series Ender without a doubt is  The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski. I don’t believe I have ever read a more satisfying ending, where everything I wished for was delivered to me, without a drop of more or less than required. It made me hurt, it made me laugh, and overall, it was the perfect end to a truly wonderful series.

6. Favourite new author you discovered in 2016?

I guess I will go with Marissa Meyer. She delivers insanely intense storylines, creates highly compelling characters, produces an incredibly entertaining plot, and makes sure you do not spend a minute bored, even if the book is more than 800 pages long!

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

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Science fiction is a genre I do not consider to be for me. I was never a star wars fan, and all the space stuff does not really peak my interest. Nevertheless, Illuminae convinced be that sometimes it is not a bad thing to get out of your comfort zone. This book had everything – action, love, intensity, and most of all, creativity – both in the storyline and in narration.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

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I have to go with Wolf by Wolf for this category. Not only this book came as a total surprise, but throughout the whole read, it has kept me on the edge of my seat. It was definitely one thrilling ride, filled with many twists and turns on every corner.

 

 

9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

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Although I do not tend to re-read books, I have a feeling that I will be getting back to this one someday. It might not be in 2017 precisely, but I do believe that I will need to read this powerful novel again.

 

 

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?

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Even though the book was quite disappointing, the cover was not.

 

 

 

11. Most memorable character of 2016?

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Although I am not as mesmerised with Sarah J. Maas as half the world seems to be, and do not consider ACOMAF to be the best book ever, Rhysand still has to be the most memorable character of this year. The character’s development was truly magnificent, and if not for the insane hype surrounding this book, I might be able to love it a bit more.

 

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

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No competition there, Renee Ahdieh has a gift, and throughout the whole book, the whole series in fact, I could not stop admiring her way with words. The Rose and the Dagger is a wonderfully written masterpiece, and I highly recommend it.

 

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

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Again, I go with this one, but what can I do, it did change my life. It is funny how you go your whole life thinking you definitely know the situation and the appropriate reaction to it, and you really don’t. It also helped me realise the reason behind my flawed relationship with my grandfather, and why it will never get better. But enough with being cryptic. Just read this book if you haven’t already.

 

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read?

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I mean, I was supposed to read this in school,  I guess it took me finishing university to finally get to this one.

 

 

 

 15. Favourite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?

“All humans make mistakes. What determines a person’s character aren’t the mistakes we make. It’s how we take those mistakes and turn them into lessons rather than excuses.”

Colleen Hoover, It Ends With Us

 

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

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Shortest (92 pages)                                         Longest (832 pages)

 

17. Book That Shocked You The Most

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I just did not see any plot-twists coming in this one, everything was so intense and ground-breaking. The next book also shocked me quite a lot, like how can a book series go so downhill.

 

 

 

 18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

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There have been quite a few pairings that got me crazily invested in the books this year, but I have to go with Arin and Kestrel. I loved how their relationship progressed, how they were developed as characters, but not just for the sake of romantic angst, and how the relationship was resolved. I will have to go with the relationship that makes me happy, not the one that will anger me forever *cough Chaol and Celaena cough*.

 

19. Favourite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

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Will and Jem, enough said. The whole parabatai bond in this series was the most beautiful thing, and more authors should focus on friendship bonds.

 

 

 

20. Favourite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

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Obviously.

 

 

 

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

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The Catcher in the Rye, I guess. Usually I am the one that does the recommending. I have started like 3 books based on the suggestions of others this year, yet I have not finished any of them. Probably best if I stick to finding the books I want to read myself.

 

 

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

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Arin from The Winner’s Curse series. His character was amazing, and I did want to go with someone other than Rhysand.

 

 

23. Best 2016 debut you read?

Pretty sure I have not read any. I am usually late to the party.

 

24. Best World-building/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

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Marissa Meyer has done wonders with her series, especially the world build-up.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

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I smiled so much while reading Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda that my face really started to hurt. This is such a feel-good book, with a highly entertaining main character, that it is just impossible not to love this one.

 

 

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?

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Since I am quite a cryer when it comes to books, it would be like 50% of my reads. So instead I will just go with the one that made me cry the most. And surprise surprise, it is my favourite book of the year! I guess I just really love the books that destroy me emotionally.

 

 27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

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I’ll Meet You There is definitely the hidden gem that I found this year. The story was so beautiful and tragic, and it just made me feel. It was a great romance of second chances and finding silver linings during the darkest of times.

 

 

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

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Yup, this one again. Totally crushed my soul in the best possible way.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?

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It definitely was the most unique Beauty and the Beast retelling that I have read, for sure. Cruel Beauty builds a mesmerising world, mixing fairy tales with ancient Greek mythology, and it is something I have never seen before. Plus, the story is very compelling, making it a really great read.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

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Don’t even start with me on this one, destroying one of my favourite series. It had so much potential, and everything was flushed down the toilet. I need some time (like years) before I am calm enough to continue with the series (probably just to be able to rant about it more).

 

 

 

So here it is, my reflection on the books that I have read in 2016. I know I have not completed the survey fully, but I feel like this post has been long enough. Otherwise, I doubt I will go to sleep today. Also, I guess my writing skills are a bit rusty after a few months of absence.

So these are my opinions. I would love to hear if we share any of the same ones, or if you disagree with me on some of my choices. Most of all, I just want to wish you a good reading year in 2017!

It is good to be back.

 

 

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Top 5 Wednesday: Most Unlikable Characters

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Hey, so it is top 5 Wednesday time. Although it has been hard to find time for blogging lately, I decided to squeeze this meme in my busy schedule. It is just so satisfying expressing your dislikes. And this week’s topic is the most unlikeable characters, the characters that the readers are actually supposed to like.

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Laney, where you get a new topic every Wednesday, and get to choose 5 books for the topic. You can join the Goodreads group if you wish to take part in this meme.

Oh I have so many characters that I have issues with, but I’ll try to limit them to one per book. So here it goes:

1. Celaena Sardothien from Throne of Glass series.

Where do I even begin, it just makes me so angry. She is ruining a really complex and incredibly rich book series, that at times I just feel too exhausted to continue with the books. I liked her in the first and the second book, but by the third one, I just had enough. She is too damn special. A badass assassin, a queen, she is smart, and beautiful, and feminine, and strong, and loves music, and food, and books, and every single male cannot even talk to her without falling in love. Enough is enough, her and Rowan is ruining the series as a whole. I found myself trying not to skim the pages about her and Rowan in Queen of Shadows. Give her some flaws to make her actually relatable.

2. Clary Fray from The Mortal Instruments series.

She is annoying, promiscuous, childish, whiny, a know-it-all, and most of all, too special. I really cannot connect to the characters that are that special. But I don’t even care enough about her to rant too much, the whole series is lacking on character development.

3. Four from Divergent series.

I just do not get his character at all. Did I miss some part in the book, where his character is developed to a likeable human being, or was his whole purpose to do completely nothing?

4. Levin from Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina is the classic that really gets me worked up. I loved reading Anna’s story. But this monster of a book features the most boring and indecisive whiny character that is Levin, and I had to suffer through his story for HOURS, getting angry at his story, and at Leo Tolstoy for having to include himself in a dramatic Russian society relations story, and making the book so boring at times.  

5. Travis Maddox from Beautiful Disaster

I just had to mention my least favourite character in my least favourite book. He is everything what is bad about certain male behaviour. He is a psychopath who would lock a female in a cage and swallow the key if he could. Especially since he is painted as a romantic hero, the character just makes me so angry with his stalker-like behaviour. The female in the book is not much better as well, representing the stupid innocent delusional the guy-will-change-because-he-loves-me and he-is-abusive-because-of-love, type. But if I have to choose just one character, I have to go with the male abuser.

So these are my choices. There are definitely more characters, but some are either too similar or too obvious. Like Gale from the Hunger Games is a kind of character like Four, with no charisma or purpose. Or Bella Swan and Anastasia Steele or whatever her surname is, and all the other weak female idiots. And of course, Christian Grey and the whole lot of his type of characters.

Ok, rant over. I feel much better now, calmer, relaxed. It is like therapy, only free. It is good to let your negative emptions out.

So do you agree or disagree with my picks? And what are the characters that you just cannot stand? Let me know.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Set Outside of the US

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, where each week you get a topic for your top ten list.

This week, we focus on the books that are set outside the US. I have noticed that quite a few books that I tend to read are based in the US, and I do enjoy this setting immensely, since it is a foreign country to me. However, I also love stumbling upon a book that is set outside the stated, especially in places that are completely unfamiliar to me. And the wanderlust soul in me loves to experience new cultures, therefore, transporting yourself to a new place through a book, is wonderful.

So here are my top 10 books set outside USA:

1. On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

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Set in Australia

2. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

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Set in Germany

3. The Wraith & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

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Set in Khorasan, a place that would be somewhere in Iraq and Afghanistan

4. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

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Set in Prague, Czech Republic

5. And the Moutains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

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Set in Kabul, Afghanistan; Paris, France; Tinos, Greece

6. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

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Set in Paris, France

7. Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern

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Set in Ireland

8. Someone To Run With by David Grossman

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Set in Israel

9. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

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Set in London, England

10. Vain by Fisher Amelie

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Set in Uganda and Cape Town, South Africa

So these are my choices for the books that are set outside the US. I was trying to use as many locations as I could, because there are quite a few really great books that I have read set in England or Australia, but their spots in the list have been filled by other ones.

Have you read these books? Tell me what you think of there reads, and recommend me more great books that are set outside the US.

 

Cry-Worthy Book Recommendations

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Sometimes you just want to find yourself reading a book so emotionally griping, that you start leaking water from your eyes. Sad books just have some kind of power over me, that I am always drawn to reading the stories that will make me cry. Somehow, a book  that has the ability to send me to tears, always gets my respect and utter appreciation. So in case I am not alone in enjoying the suffering, I decided to give you all some recommendations for books that should make you cry.

I am a book cryer (with a heart of stone in real life, since I shed all my reserved tears while reading), so some choices might not make you cry as much, but they all have the ability to bring the tears out of the reader (as it happened to me).  Whether you are a book cryer or not, these books are definitely worth reading, as they have the power to affect the reader, bringing strong emotions to the surface. So without further ado, here are my recommendations:

1. For People Who Can Never Get Enough of the Classics

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Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell is one of those books that leaves you emotionally drained  when you finish it. Not trying to hide any shockingly brutal details and cruel tragedies thrust upon the characters, this epic tale did not earn the respect it has now for nothing.

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The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough is such a gripping story, that I recommend it so everyone. The author has a unique ability to turn a simple family journey into something magnificent, and your attachment to the characters will make you shed quite a few tears.

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The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux is such a captivation story, filled with horror and obsession, and most of all, the need of human connection. It is a beautiful heart-breaking story, truly worth reading.

2. For Historical Fiction Lovers

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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is a book that I am certain will become a classic one day. It’s unique narration, a light-hearted children’s perspective, and a heart-wrenching portrayal of events in WW2, make this book a tear-jerking masterpiece.

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Atonement by Ian McEwan is a different kind of portrayal of tragic WW2 events, heavily focused on romance. Many have seen the movie adaptation, but I suggest reading this wonderful story, because it is truly magnificent.

3. For Those Who Enjoy a Story About Life, and the Traumas That Come With It.

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In The Stillness by Andrea Randall is probably the most emotionally-gripping book that I had pleasure reading. When you read the description of the book, it does not sound that spectacular. But it is a story, exploring so many sensitive topics and portraying real-life issues. The author has a unique talent to make the reader feel such deep emotions throughout the whole length of the book, therefore, after years of reading it, I still keep the story close to my heart.

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On The Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta is a hard book to describe, but an incredible story nonetheless. After getting used to the storytelling, the emotional journey that the characters have to face really brings the reader to tears. I believe it is one of the most beautifully written pieces of literature of this century.

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All The Rage by Courtney Summers explores a really sensitive topic, and people’s cruelty in the midst of a terrible trauma. The writing style is so unique, and the story – emotionally heavy. So be prepared for anger and sadness, because this book covers a heavy subject in an incredible manner.

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And The Moutans Echoed by Khaled Hosseini is a beautiful story, with multiple storylines intertwining together, resulting in a creation of a wonderful journey that sends a great message. It is not tragic, nor it is particularly happy, but it captures life incredibly, bringing out many different emotions out of the reader.

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We Were Liars by E. Lockhart is a book that gained quite an amount of mixed reviews, with many people loving it, and many – hating it. I found this story really beautiful and shockingly tragic, and with the book being quite short, I suggest you check it out, because it really did make quite an impression on me.

4. For The Peeps That Adore Sad Romance Stories

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A Different Blue by Amy Harmon is not just a simple romance, but it is an incredible story about challenges that life throws upon us, and how to find hope and strength within yourself in order to be able to face them. It is beautiful in its melodic storytelling technique and the simplicity of the storyline.

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The Sweet Gum Tree is a powerful and breath-taking story of two souls from very different surroundings falling is love, being tragically separated, and finding the ability to love again after many years of hurt, anger, and bottled up emotions. It is sure to make you shed at least a few tears while reading this piece of literature.

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The Mason List by S.D. Hendrickson is not a well-known book. I do not remember how exactly I have stumbled upon it, but an incredible story that is portrayed in this piece of literature, makes me want to recommend it to everybody. It portrays a beautiful love story throughout a period of time, and the realistic depiction of it, with the avoidance of overly-dramatic revelations of love, makes this a truly cry-worthy book.

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Fighting Redemption by Kate McCarthy is yet another underdog in my collection, but it is a must-read for those who are looking for a beautiful and tragic love story. It is a nowadays take on challenges of separation and dealing with loss as a result of war.

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Me Before You by Jojo Moyes is a must-read if you are looking for a way to cry. It definitely deserves all the hype surrounding the book, and the mix of light-hearted jokes and dealing with trauma, makes this story one that stays with you for long to come.

5. For Those Who Prefer Magical Worlds

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The Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare is the book that was the biggest tear-jerker for me. Clare’s ability to make the reader so attached to the characters, that reading half of the book does not produce a single tear, but a  session sobbing, is really magnificent. I definitely suggest reading this series (it is so much better than her first attempt).

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Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge is an unusual Beauty and the Beast retelling, with weird and mysterious plot and an enchanting romance. The book is written so wonderfully, filled with heart-breaking moments, making it a story you want to cry while reading.

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Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor is the last book in Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. It makes you cry because the characters have come so far. It makes you cry because it’s tragic. It makes you cry because it’s so beautiful. And most of all, it makes you cry because it’s over.

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The Rose and The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh is just magnificent. There are so many reasons why I would recommend this superbly-written masterpiece, and the fact that it is able to bring the reader to tears, is one of them.

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Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows by J. K. Rowling. I just had to put it on the list. I doubt that there are any sane people who haven’t read the Harry Potter series (and if you are one of the crazy people who haven’t, why?), but it is an obvious choice for a guaranteed tear-jerker.

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The Law of Moses by Amy Harmon does not have an easily-defined genre, but because of paranormal elements, I will put it here, although it does belong to the romance category as well. It is magnificent, and incredible, and I love this book so much. Amy Harmon really has a unique ability to bring the reader to tears.

So these are the books that made me shed a few (or a whole river) of tears. Not only these books a cry-worthy, but they are really incredible for various reasons. So go ahead and read them. Now!

Do you enjoy reading good tear-jerkers? Have any of these books made you cry? And my love for suffering eagerly welcomes any recommendations of books that made you cry.

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

Thank you Chicnerdreads for tagging me, it is always fun to reflect on your reading achievements once in a while. I cannot believe it’s July already, but I am quite proud of my book numbers this year. I believe I have not read as many books in any 6 month period as in the last half the year, and considering my busy schedule, I am happy I managed to squeeze in more reading this year.

So anyway, I’ll start with the list:

Best Book You’ve Read In 2016

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Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Well probably. I don’t feel like I should single out just one book, because I have read quite a few really great ones, but I guess this out objectively and subjectively. Plus, it was a genre that is out of my comfort zone, therefore I name it my favourite of the year so far.

Best Sequel You’ve Read In 2016

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Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas definitely tops the list. Compared to Throne of Glass, it was an immense improvement of the series. I just felt so many emotions while reading this one, it completely blew my mind.

New Release You Haven’t Read But Want To

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This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab. I need to read more of Schwab’s work ASAP.

Most Anticipated Release For the Second Half of the Year

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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. There are quite a few books that I cannot wait to get my hands on, but this one really tops the list.

Biggest Disappointment

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Never Never: Part Three by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher. I really loved the first two parts of Never Never. They were mysterious and engaging and confusing in the best way. But after reading the resolve of all the actions, I could not believe how lazy and clique the ending was.

Biggest Surprise

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Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I have no idea how I have decided to pick up this book, but I was convinced that I wouldn’t like it. When I read about Cinder being a cyborg, living in a futuristic world, it just seemed like not my cup of tea. But I was completely blown away by the well-crafted storyline and the writing. The whole series was entertainment at its best, and I got completely sucked in that world.

Favourite New Author

There are so many new great authors that I have discovered this year, but I will go with Marissa Meyer. Since I have read the whole of The Lunar Chronicles by her, and not one book disappointed me, I can honestly say that her ability to crate such a rich story world and entertain the reader to the bone, blew me away.

Newest Fictional Crush

Ok, so I was trying to name only one thing in each category, but I cannot in this one. I guess it will have to be a tie between Raffe from Anngelfall, Chaol from Thorne of Glass series, and Captain Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles.

Newest Favourite Character

Cress from The Lunar Chronicles and Jem from The Infernal Devices. But there are too many.

Book That Made You Cry

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Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare. The Infernal Devices series came as a complete surprise to me. I never got the appeal to The Mortal Instruments series, I only managed to read those books because I was not aware of how easy it is to get any book you want now. I was prepared for something silly, but fun, and this series just blew me away. I don’t remember when was the last time that I have cried as much as I have while reading Clockwork Princess.

Book That Made You Happy

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Simon vs. Te Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. It was such a light-hearted and fun read, that I thing my face started to hurt from all the smiling.

Favourite Book to Film Adaptation

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So I have not read the book, but I absolutely adored the movie, and found newly born love for Matt Damon. So it counts.

Favourite Post You Have Done This Year

Since my blog is very recent, I just love all the posts that I have done recently. It is very refreshing to write and love it.

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year

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The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh.

What Book Do You Need To Read By the End Of the Year

Way too many. But I’ll go with:

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A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is definitely a must read for me.

So this was fun. It is definitely useful to reflect, because when it comes to deciding on your favourite books of the year, it proves to be a difficult task.

For this fun task, I tag (you don’t have to do this tag if you don’t want to):

areaderswhimsy

novelacious

aubreyleaman

caronbull

rabidwhite

And anybody else who wants to do this tag.

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Wednesday

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So I have started to really get into the memes, and this one seems like a lot of fun.

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Lainey, where you get a new topic every Wednesday, and get to choose 5 books for the topic. You can join the Goodreads group if you wish to take part in this meme.

This week’s topic is:

Books you wish had sequels

It is definitely hard to choose 5 books for this topic. Not for the reasons most of the readers have, by having to narrow their lists down. I myself really appreciate the endings, and always want to leave the story when I will still miss it. But I will try anyway. So:

1. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

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It is one of my all time favourites. And although the book is relatively long, and has a perfect bittersweet ending, I would have loved to read more of this phenomenal story. I am still perfectly content with how the things have ended.

2. Vicious by V. E. Schwab

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I think the author has explored a very thought-provoking idea and created an utterly captivating world. I would love to read more about it, but I am also perfectly content with how the things have ended.

3. The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Adhieh

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I absolutely adored both of the books in this wonderful One Thousand and One Nights retelling. The world building was amazing, the characters – really captivating, and it was probably one of the most well-written books I had the pleasure reading. So I would love to explore more of this world. However, I am always afraid of more story ruining the original, and this book has a beautiful ending.

4. Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor

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So this book series completely blew my mind. The writing style was truly magical, and everything was just wonderful. It did end in a way of having potential to further story development, and I would be happy to get more books. However, since it is a trilogy, I would be afraid of more books actually ruining the quality of the series. And I do love an unfinished kind of ending.

5. Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling

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I mean this series is perfect as it is, but I would love to read more about this magical world. I might prefer to read something about the years before the epilogue, of the Marauders era though, but who would complain about more Harry Potter. Still, I completely respect J. K. Rowling for ending the series when everybody was craving more.

So these are my picks. I am still perfectly content with the way all these books have ended. I do not believe that sequels are often necessary if not planned by the author. There is something wonderful about unclear endings, as if they give life to the characters, since we can imagine their stories continuing. And I tend to remember the books that ends before boring the reader much longer.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Facts About Me

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So I have decided to participate in a Top Ten Tuesday meme for the first time, since it does sound like a lot of fun. It is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and this week’s topic is:

Ten Facts About Me (bookish or just general about you facts or ten facts about you as a blogger…whatever you want).

I usually do not like to talk about myself that much in a virtual space, but I want to try something new, that is sharing things about myself on the Internet.

So let’s see if I can come up with 10 facts about myself (at least the less weird ones):

1. I believe that the best thing that was ever created was Phantom of the Opera (the musical).

I love it so much. I have found my love for that wonderful creation about a year ago, and have seen it about 62 times since then (thank all the wonderful people who allowed a filmed version of the 25th anniversary concert exist. Ramin Karimloo’s voice is something out of this world). I have also seen the actual musical, and know all the songs by heart. Also, I cried at least first 32 times I have watched it.

2. I prefer e-books to the actual physical copies.

I know, the smell and the feel of a book is just wonderful. I have been trying to convince myself that I do prefer the physical version, but I just like the idea. With e-books, I can have so many choices always with me, and I don’t have to hold the pages, and I just love it so much.

3. My favourite movie is either Moulin Rouge or Tangled.

I just love a good tragic love story or a Disney film. I have been watching these movies non-stop for a while now, and I will probably keep doing it forever. And you can probably see a pattern here. I really LOOOOVE musicals.

4. I can marathon the whole season of a TV show in a day (sometimes more than a season).

I am just a ‘go big or go home’ kind of person. When a TV show is good, I cease to exist outside my bed. I avoided all my friends until I was finished with Buffy the Vampire. Dawson’s Creek gave me all the feels. The Office kills me every time. And I do not need sleep to function.

5. I cannot live without avocadoes.

My love for them is absolute.

6. My favourite part when reading a book is the romance. But I hate romance books.

Well, mostly I just like to suffer. When I have to wait for romance, I just really need it. But when romance is thrown to the reader right and left, I start hating it. (There are a few quite dramatic romance books that I adore, but it is a rare occurrence). The more traumatic experience, the better.

7. If I had enough money, I would love to travel the world.

I have been to quite a few places already, but offer me any kind of trip, and I am up to it. Whether it is a budget holiday in shitty conditions, or the most luxurious spa retreat, I will love it all. I am up to any kind of adventure. It is a shame that so many people are not.

8. I have so many guilty pleasures.

Like fantasy series (the Lunar Chronicles is the ultimate one), or silly movies like Warm Bodies. But my ultimate guilty pleasure is Vampire Diaries. I used to love the show when  I was sixteen, then started seeing its stupidity, but kept going since I am not a quitter, and recently in the midst of my dissertation writing insanity, I have marathoned 6 seasons in a week and loved it so much. It made me cry more times than it is normal.

9. I am originally from Lithuania.

But now I live in UK, and have been moving around constantly. And although I love my country, I doubt I will ever want to return permanently.

10. I am an introverted extrovert.

I love to socialise, but I prefer small groups. And after I do it more excessively, I need some time alone. I am never bored when I am alone at home, I can find stuff to do for days. No, weeks. I might come as a bit shy at first, but only at first. But the alone time is necessary for me to function normally. A bit of laughing, a bit of insane crying, and I am back to being the sociable me.

So this was a really fun thing to do. It is always hard to decide what is worth sharing, but sometimes it is best to just write the first few things that come to mind.

9 Tips For Choosing Your Next ‘It’ Book

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With the immense amount of books available nowadays, actually choosing a book that you want to read can be quite difficult, preventing you from reading more. Especially if the last book you picked up ended up disappointing you, and you feel worried about choosing your next read. Since a book is a timely commitment, you want to be sure the story you are reading will bring you tears of joy, and not anguish.

So I suggest a few ways of how to decide on your next read:

1.Explore Goodreads.

Goodreads.com website is a great social media site for every book lover. It allows you to check out book ratings and reviews, explore what your friends are reading, and get all kinds of recommendations. Plus, the option of registering the books you want to read will ensure you always remember the ideas for your next great read.

2. Check out the professionals.

And by that, I mean the people who read a lot. With an immense knowledge of literature, you can get ideas from book bloggers, booktubers or bookstagramers. Choose the genre you prefer, and check out what books these people are recommending. Having read quite a few different works, these people will know a truly captivating story. And you can find the people who really know your favourite genre or author.

Check out multiple accounts to be sure.

3. Do not trust the masses.

Sometimes, certain books tend to be a little bit overhyped, disappointing you in the end. Although some truly magnificent pieces have produced quite a large fan base,  sometimes all the love can be misleading, especially if you are a picky reader. Somehow Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey have become one of the most read pieces (and if you believe they are wonderful, I am trying hard not to judge). So the masses are a bit untrustworthy when it comes to picking a good book.

4. Pick a title out of the hat.

Well, the format does not matter, just the idea. It can be a jar, or a sock, or whatever. Just write down the book titles that have been on your TBR list, and pick one out. I myself have been using this technique, and although at times I was unsure about the book I picked out, all the reads proved to be incredible. Since the ability to make decisions is not my strong suit, this way, you do not have to spend hours by deciding. Just let the magic to the work! And stick with the book that you picked out.

There are also apps available, following a similar process, but an old-school piece of paper just seems much more classy and fun!

5. Subscribe to a newsletter.

Quite a lot of sites offer recommendations of truly magnificent books. They usually are categorised either by genre, age group, or the year of publication, allowing you to find the right content. I have been subscribing to Buzzfeed book newsletter, and it has proven very helpful in finding new captivating reads.

6. Ask.

Ask a friend or a family member what is their favourite book. Go to a bookstore and ask the person who works there for some recommendations. Or if you are feeling brave enough, you can even ask a stranger!

Some recommendations might not be your cup of tea. However, I suggest checking them out, because there sure is a reason why these people who introduced you to the book love it so much. For example, I was certain I would not like The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough when my parents kept insisting I read it. But after years of avoiding the book, it has become one of my favourite reads of all time.

7. Try a book you wouldn’t normally read.

Sometimes it will give you yet another reason for disliking that genre. But at times, you can be pleasantly surprised. So do not be too conservative, and dip your toe in a pool of unusual things.

For the longest time, I have been convinced that fantasy and sci-fi were not for me. But after reading really great works of both of these genres, I was proven wrong.

8. Go for the underdog.

Sometimes the less popular books can deliver incredible quality. Do not stick with only popular authors. Some great reads can be found in second-hand bookshops or be randomly recommended. Be sure to give them a chance.

9. Let the book choose you.

Just pick the book that catches your eye. Can be disappointing, or very rewarding.

I hope you have found these tips helpful. At least these ideas help me since my TBR pile seems to grow by a minute. And if you have any ideas on how to choose a good book, I always want to hear them!

Is Fantasy a Lesser Genre? Part 2

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In my previous post, I have discussed the issues with the fantasy genre. You can find the first part of the post at Is Fantasy a Lesser Genre

Since fantasy is rarely considered to be high literature, with little literature value, only the people who actually indulge in reading these books understand what fantasy is able to bring to the table.

I believe this genre is highly underrated. The poor quality and numerous works featuring silly characters and unrealistic worlds have discredited the genre, giving it the perception of guilty pleasure kind of read. And although all the genres are filled with poorly written works as well as really amazing pieces, the high literature type of genres do not get that much of a judgement.

Having quite a few issues, and being well, quite unrealistic, fantasy genre often presents trouble in getting used to the new supernatural world of the book. However, when fantasy is done right, it has so much to offer. So there are a few examples why fantasy should not be brushed under the rug so easily:

The Benefits of Fantasy

1. The plot can be completely unexpected.

When you pick up a novel set in reality, certain things are expected. For example, if you are reading a war story, you know how it is going to end. Who is going to win, and who is going to lose. With fantasy, you are in for a surprise. A war can be horrible, and bloody, and the outcome – completely unexpected. There is so much space in fantasy for really powerful moments, with immense consequences. And this unpredictability has the power to surprise the reader much more than a book set in the real world.

2. The story can be taken much further.

Although there are quite a number of series set in the real world, I always tend to think that they work better in a standalone format. Fantasy, on the contrary, works better when it is told in series format. With the previously discussed ability to deliver a truly surprising and captivating plot, it is more likely for the fantasy story to keep the reader interested for a longer time. The truly compelling series, featuring the same characters and maintaining the intense and captivating plot going, are able to bring the reader to care more about the books. Since the plot takes the time to develop, the reader is able to form stronger connections with the characters, and the story in general, making the whole journey much more satisfactory.

3. Ability to create a truly magnificent enemy.

I do not in any way suggest that other genres are not able to deliver captivating villains. Yet in reality-based works, the impact will not be that immense as it is possible in fantasy. Because in a supernatural world, there are no limitations The bad guy might have destroyed worlds, or have possession of truly horrifying powers. You just never know, making the possibility of utter terror a true possibility.

4. As well as a true hero.

Of course, it can always be done in any kind of genre. It depends on the ability of the writer. Just the hero’s journey has much more potential and twists. And really tough tests.

5. Compelling love story.

In fantasy, the romance can be really compelling, attracting a lot of attention from the readers. There are some factors that work in crafting a magnificent romance, that purely romantic books are not that able to deliver. Like:

  1. Romance can develop over time since it is not the main or at least not the only focus of the story. And we always want the things we do not have, making us root for the characters even harder.
  2. Forbidden love can be taken to a completely new level. I mean, there aren’t that many forbidden love stories set in reality, unless really immoral. With fantasy, it can be a completely new perspective. Like two rivalry species. An enemy lover. Some magical twist that keeps the characters apart. And let’s be honest, forbidden things are always the sweetest.
  3. Possibility to really develop characters. You get really attached to them after following their journey for a while.

There are certainly more aspects that make fantasy such an enjoyable genre. However, these factors cease to be that exclusive to the genre. The ability to create a complex story with an unpredictable plot or truly entertaining multi-dimensional characters, allows fantasy genre to always surprise the reader. Of course, the issues of creating a captivating story always exist, making only the well-crafted works stand out from the immense amount of crappy texts. After the reader becomes familiar with the formula, fantasy loses its ability to surprise just because of its creativity. Therefore, it is up to a skilled and talented author to create an amazing story.

Having explored both the issues and benefits of the fantasy genre, it is easy to say that all the genres have truly magnificent works as well as the crappy works. Each genre possesses their dangers and strongpoints. But having found the love for this particular field quite recently, I feel the need to inform the fellow readers of the truly magnificent books that the genre allowed me to read. It really should get more recognition for the ability to convey a truly complex and captivating story.

I always love to hear your thoughts and opinions and welcome recommendations of your favourite fantasy books.

Is Fantasy a Lesser Genre?

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The fantasy genre is rarely considered as the one that has much value. Many judge fantasy books as well as the people who love it. Some say it is because of snobbish ideals, or the unfamiliarity with the genre, or because of the bad experience one had while reading the poorly-crafted story. Either way, it is often judged.

While I might agree with the opinion that fantasy books will never be considered as high literature, seeing them as guilty pleasures is also wrong. I used to belong to the type of people who only saw fantasy as a way to relax when you do not want to read anything smart or serious. With an exception of Harry Potter, obviously. Yet, after indulging in more books of the genre, I have realised that fantasy was not the problem. Some books are just not that good.

I believe it is much more difficult to write a good fantasy book. Although with this genre, endless possibilities and storylines are able to be crafted, only a thin line exists between fantasy being believable and stupid. With no limitations, authors often tend to either try too hard or not hard enough.

So I will attempt to analyse the main advantages and disadvantages the Fantasy genre has to face in comparison to more high-literature-like books. Since there are quite a few pros and cons I want to explore, this post will focus merely on the issues, with the advantages following a bit later.

Issues with fantasy

 1. Creating a believable world.

With endless possibilities of fantastic elements, the author can never be sure when their created world is going to be believable. It is important to establish the rules straight from the beginning. Whether magic will be involved, how much power the ‘supernaturals’ will be handed. Whether it will be our own reality with a supernatural twist, or a new world completely. Either way, no matter how many elements the author decides to use, it is crucial to make the reader accept the world as true. Therefore, failure to maintain a balance between fantastic things and relatable problems often tend to result in the reader perceiving fantasy as quite stupid.

2. Avoiding repetition.

There is quite a limited amount of certain supernatural beings that tend to be used in fantasy fiction. Therefore, a high amount of books involving the same creatures will appear as well. From vampires to witches to angels, so many books exist that feature these overused supernatural beings, that finding the way to present these creatures in a fresh and entertaining way becomes quite a task. Nobody wants to read about the same vampires over and over again. At some point, the readers will have enough. Especially if the novel tends to resemble a previously read text a bit too much. So finding fresh, unseen material, even if the copying is accidental, is a crucial part of a successful fantasy book.

3. Keeping the story going.

It is a known fact that fantasy books rarely come as ‘standalones’. With so much time spent in crafting a complex fantasy world, authors often build the story requiring more than one book for a satisfactory finish. However, it is a tricky quest to maintain the same quality of the books. Quite a few fantasy works reach their peak before the whole plot is resolved, and goes downhill, with the author not knowing where to take the story next.

Another problem that surfaces quite often is prolonging the storyline without any necessity. After the success of the book, some authors just refuse to leave their created world at the right time. The reader grows bored. The writer’s need of money becomes stronger that the ability to deliver a good story. And everyone loses.

I hate when I have to abandon certain books because the quality ceases to be the same, and my attachment to the characters is the only thing keeping me going. That, or the before interesting characters are ruined or become boring, and you have to stop without getting the satisfaction of a proper ending.

4. Let’s face it, some authors are just not that good.

Nowadays, it is so easy to become an author. However, you actually need to have the required skills for crafting a great novel. There are so many elements that need to be considered when an engaging fantasy book is concerned. Like:

  1. The plot needs to be intense.
  2. The characters need to be likable and believable. Not dumb and annoying.
  3. No unnecessary high-school drama when there are much bigger problems in the picture.
  4. Finding the balance with relationships. Too much will be a disaster. Too little will make caring for the characters quite difficult.
  5. Make it smart and engaging, not dumb and filled with sparkling vampires.
  6. WRITING STYLE. Because when you are a waffle, you will not become a cake.

Some authors just do not have what it takes. Yet they still get published, and read. There are so many poorly-written fantasy novels, that the belief of fantasy genre being crappy is not that far-fetched.

5.Dumb things tend to be popular.

People loved Twilight. People LOOOVED 50 Shades of Grey. Trump has a whole bunch of supporters. Therefore, some real dumb fantasy books are bound to become popular, overshadowing the really well-crafted ones, and establishing a belief of the genre being ‘lesser’.

Certainly, more issues exist, but these would be the main ones. With so many poorly-written fantasy books in existence, and with so many elements that can go wrong, it is easy to assume that fantasy acquires more cons than pros. I believe fantasy does not have the recognition it truly deserves. So if you are one of the people that consider the genre to be quite dumb, I suggest you give it another go. Because when it’s done right, it’s so worth it.

Maybe try Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor or Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo before sustaining from the genre completely.

I would also love to hear your thoughts about the genre, and what are the reasons for liking/disliking it.

You can find the second part of the post at Is Fantasy a Lesser Genre? Part 2