Monday, July 23, 2012

Julia's Top Ten Most Vivid Book Worlds/Settings


Hey everyone! It’s Julia again. Are you sick of me yet? :) Today we get a special glimpse into one reason why we love the books we love: the settings and the worlds. A setting can make or break a book for me, especially if it is supposed to be in a world different then our own. World building is super important because it gets your readers invested in the story by bringing it to life in their minds. So let's take a look at 10 of my most vivid worlds/settings in books.

Top Ten Most Vivid Worlds/Settings in Books

1. The Magical World of Harry Potter
I dare anyone who has read these books not to include it on this list. JK Rowling goes into so much detail about each and every aspect of the magical world. I love how she even includes how they interact with the non-magic folk. Moving photos, enchanted objects, fireplace transportation, it is seriously not a world that can be forgotten. Plus with Pottermore slowly making each chapter available for exploration, the world is becoming even more alive.

2. Middle Earth
My high school age self would murder me if I didn’t put this on the list, and how could I not? Tolkien spent books upon books elaborating on the world he created. I mean hell, he even created languages! Evolved languages at that! Within his stories he creates a sense of place and a sense of history. I’ve read The Silmarillion, and in that book especially you can feel the depth of Middle Earth. Now, sometimes I get bored by the descriptions of rocks or trees, but let no one say that Tolkien did not create a vivid world!

3. The Seven Kingdoms
Currently, I am reading my way through Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (aka A Game of Thrones). I am not very far being about halfway through A Clash of Kings, so if you spoil me in the comments I may cry and then kick the shit out of... a pillow. Anyway, from what I’ve read so far, Martin’s world is reminiscent of Middle Earth meets the Middle Ages. I can see the castles; I can feel the struggle of the villagers. And then he mixes in the fantasy with the trees with faces or the fact that Winter is such a huge part of their lives. I can’t wait to finish writing this post so I can delve more into that world.

4. The Worlds of His Dark Materials
Oh, Pullman. Why must you tempt a young me with the animal visual representation of my soul? What would it be? Something portable I hope. The fact that Pullman creates not one but MANY different types of universes in his novels that all still slightly resemble the familiar is amazing. The thing I will remember the most though and always wish I knew is my daemon. I think he’s a panther, like Bagheera in the Jungle Book: calm most of the time, but can lash out if needed.

5. Panem
The Hunger Games are atrocious acts of cruelty set in a world of vanity and desolation. I could see the people of the capital with their gold skin and their awesome beards. I also felt the hopelessness and resigned assignation of the people of district 12. Wake up, go into the mines. It’s chilling how real this world feels.

6. All Steampunk Worlds Ever
Steampunk is an amazing thing. It takes something as intriguing as the Victorian era and adds technology. Most times they also add paranormal elements (I am looking at you, Soulless). The flying dirigibles, the steam powered everything, the pollution and Victorian morals. It is just so engaging! In addition to Soulless, The Iron Duke was amazing in this regard as well.

7. Gone with the Wind
When I have to think of one book all alone the created a vivid setting for me it would be Gone with the Wind. This book just keeps popping up on my lists, but it was impossible for me to keep off. As a child who grew up in the North, I had never read a book about the Civil War from a southern perspective. You never read about the fires and the tragedy from a personal perspective in a textbook. I remember the setting and surrounding times really stuck with me from this book.

8. Fatherland
This alternate reality fiction book is sort of a ‘what would have happened had the Nazi’s won the war’. It is a thriller and a mystery if I remember correctly, with fun espionage and running from the law and all those shenanigans. But the thing about this book was that I could see the world where the Nazi’s won. It was so vivid. I could wrap myself in the suppression and subjugation. It is a great book!

9. Homer’s Greece and Troy**
I remember being utterly enthralled by all the TV movies that I watched that were based on Ancient Greece and Troy (not to mention Kevin Sorbo as Hercules and Catherine Zeta Jones Lucy Lawless as Xena). When I finally got around to reading the books, I was just as enraptured. Even the lyrical verse of The Iliad still had such vivid language you could just picture everything going on around you.

10. Romancelandia
I have read 156 historical romance novels since I started counting in 2008. If you add contemporaries its more like 200. I absolutely love the settings they give me. Some are more historically accurate than others in actual settings, but taken as a whole it is a fun place to be. The ratio of Dukes and other titled members to the other people of the world is way off. Everyone has an interesting story and a happy ending. Plus there is the other aspects of Romancelandia, like paranormal and contemporary. And begrudgingly I’d even give a small corner of this world to the 50 Shades club. In general though Romancelandia is a place where hard work and strife always pay off in the end by finding the one you love.

So tell me, Readers, what are your most vivid settings? What are your worlds that you can't miss? Link it up below. And I promise you'll get a new list writer next week ;)


**Footnote: I seruoisly need to get more sleep and learn the difference between an movie set in the 50s and the country. And the difference between 's' and 'c'. Greece is now spelled correctly. Thanks to all who corrected me. Also, Lucy Lawless is Xena. I have no idea where Jones came from. Sleeplessness probably. Thanks again for pointing that out!

83 comments :

  1. Great list :-)

    I had 3 out of your ten!

    This is my first T10T and i love it.

    -Cassie

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    1. Welcome! I hope you stick around :)

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  2. I had two out of your ten: Panem and Middle Earth. Those two can't be ignored. Great list!
    ~Shelby @ Gobs and Gobs of Books

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  3. I have Middle Earth, Hogwarts, and Westeros on my list as well. There's no way that I could NOT include Middle Earth and Hogwarts on mine. And some of the places in Westeros are so iconic: the wall, Harrenhal, etc., that I needed to include that one too. I definitely agree with the "All Steampunk Worlds Ever" part. :) Great list!

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    1. I knew there was an actual name to The Seven Kingdoms, but I couldn't for the life of me think of it. I should have just looked at the map in the front of the book lol

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  4. Awesome list! Middle Earth and the Seven Kingdoms also made it on my list this week xD

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  5. Yes to Gone With the Wind! I should have put it on my list. http://booksaremyfavouriteandbest.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/top-ten-tuesday-setting-the-scene/

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  6. I would add Raymond E. Feist's worlds, which he describes in detail in a lot of his books. Krondor (and its sequels) is very much on the "sword and sorcery" style, but IMO the most outstanding world-building part of his books lies in the Empire Trilogy, with a feodal society very reminiscent of Japan's shogun era and a quite interesting role in the form of Mara, the main character.

    In the same style, the Wheel of Time series is an astounding epic by Robert Jordan totaling more than 3 or 4 thousand pages, so not for the faint of heart!

    Also, even if they are perhaps much less known, I have to add Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series as well as Diana Wynne Jones Chronicles of Chrestomanci, two personnal favorites of mine which have a very interesting take on the very common genres of fantasy and science-fiction!

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    1. I'll have to look into the Empire Trilogy. I have a soft spot for historical-esque type fantasies and I have never read one with an Asian base.

      I also have heard so much about Wheel of Time but it just is the ultimate conquest!

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  7. I would add Raymond E. Feist's worlds, which he describes in detail in a lot of his books. Krondor (and its sequels) is very much on the "sword and sorcery" style, but IMO the most outstanding world-building part of his books lies in the Empire Trilogy, with a feodal society very reminiscent of Japan's shogun era and a quite interesting role in the form of Mara, the main character.

    In the same style, the Wheel of Time series is an astounding epic by Robert Jordan totaling more than 3 or 4 thousand pages, so not for the faint of heart!

    Also, even if they are perhaps much less known, I have to add Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series as well as Diana Wynne Jones Chronicles of Chrestomanci, two personnal favorites of mine which have a very interesting take on the very common genres of fantasy and science-fiction!

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  8. I'd add Victorian London in the works of Charles Dickens.

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  9. I agree with all of your choices!! I haven't read Fatherland yet, but the others: YES! The worldbuilding in Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire is mindblowing and I don't think I'll ever forget about those worlds!
    Also, yay Romancelandia! You know I love historical romance as well, I know: not so historically accurate mostly, but you gotta love the swoonworthy romance and happy endings! :)

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  10. So so many great ones. I definitely would love to being in the world of the Harry Potter books. My trip to Orlando was magical I can't imagine if it was bigger and I'd adore a visit to the Night Circus yup that would be fabulous!

    marissa
    http://raegunwear.blogspot.com

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  11. My 1 and 2 were Middle Earth and Harry Potter world too! I think those are two of the most well-devleoped worlds in the history of literature. And I have decided right now I need to read more Steampunk. =)

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  12. Your top two made my list as well. :) I also really need to read George R.R. Martin's books... Great list! :)

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  13. wow, that's a really good list! I can't believe I forgot about His Dark Materials! I really wish that I had a daemon as well. Real life is awesome, but once you finish a really good book I kind of just have to sit there and be like "dang it, just having that one little element in life would be so cool!". Ah well, we can only deal with what we have :)

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  14. I kept (well actually keep) changing my list. There are so many great world/settings in books! Love your list, you're totally right about Harry Potter!

    My TTT

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  15. I have a feeling HP and HG are on everyones lists this week. They are definitely on mine.

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  16. Harry Potter and Middle Earth are both on my list, therein the similarity ends! Actually, I had a reeeeeally tough time choosing between Gone With The Wind and One Hundred Years of Solitude for the slightly-historical-fiction spot on my Top Ten. The town of Macondo won out, barely. Awesome list, and thank you for putting up the new schedule!

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    1. I hope you like the new ones on the list! Some of them I can wait to see everyones!

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  17. I can't believe I forgot Harry Potter :). Great list. This is my first entry into the Top Ten Tuesday.

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    1. You forgot Harry Potter! Oh no!

      Welcome to TTT! I hope you enjoy it!

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  18. Agree on Middle Earth, His Dark Materials and Fatherland! Great list!

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  19. If I don't see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter on every list I will be really surprised and also really sad.

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  20. I forgot Harry Potter! Headdesk. :( I also put the Seven Kingdoms and Panem.

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  21. Great list! I also included Harry Potter (of course) and Middle Earth!

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  22. If Harry Potter doesn't make everybody's list, I'll be surprised! And I totally forgot Gone With the Wind!

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  23. I'm totally with you on Gone With the Wind and Harry Potter. I can't believe I forgot His Dark Materials!

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  24. Do you like Pottermore?? I was really disappointed with it. I got into the Beta testing, and it was kind of... boring.

    Great list though, I really want to start the A Song of Fire and Ice series.

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    1. I was really excited to be "officially sorted" (into Gryffindor I might add), but I was a bit disappointed. Especially after all that hype.

      I was in the beta testing too... but it suffers from two problems 1)its slower then hell and 2)its not that interesting.

      The reason I keep going though is for all the bonus information I can learn.

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  25. AGREE SO MUCH about the Wizarding World. Everything about Harry Potter, at Hogwarts and beyond, is absolutely enchanting and so thoroughly detailed that it would be difficult to create a list about amazing worlds and settings without including this one as well. (I had to throw it on my list as well! :D )

    I've heard SO MUCH about A Song of Ice and Fire. I have yet to read the books or watch the show, but it's on my TBR! Your description of the seven kingdoms only makes me want to get to it faster!

    As terrifying as it is, I have to admit that Panem is one of the most vivid settings I've encountered in books, and the arena feels so real that I'd scare myself reading The Hunger Games constantly.

    As a classical civilizations major, I approve so much of Homer's Greece being on this list. And YES to everything historical romance ever.

    Awesome list and incredibly fun topic!


    Here's my list.

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  26. This is a great list. I put mine together last minute, but of course HP is on it. :)

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  27. Great list! I also (of course) included Harry Potter and His Dark Materials. This was a really fun theme!

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  28. This is a A+ list. Pullman is such a good choice, and somehow I overlooked his worlds. Also, I laughed out loud at Romancelandia! Hilarious!

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  29. Haha, our top ten start out so similar, but they end so differently! I loved this challenge, though. It was surprising to me how many worlds I left out even when I was done with my ten -- and my ten took effort!

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  30. Great list! It would appear we agree on many of the settings!

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  31. Many of mine appear on yours! Great list! I definitely need to check out more steampunk

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  32. Ahh these are really good ones and I can't believe I didn't include Middle Earth!! I have yet to read Pullman but I have heard that I need to ASAP!!

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  33. Great list! I'm in the middle of Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. Her world building is incredible, so I hope to see her kingdom of Goredd added to this kind of list someday.

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    1. I've never heard of it. I'll have to check it out!

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  34. Great list! Middle Earth and Harry Potter ended up on my list as well. I can't believe I didn't think of Panem and Romancelandia, but they're really good choices! I'm thinking about re-reading His Dark Materials, because it's been a few years since I've read it.

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  35. I can't believe I didn't even think of Harry Potter! But I did put Middle Earth and the Arena from the Hunger Games. You've got a great list here but I've never heard of Ancient Grease (although I can imagine a pretty fun story taking place there)--I believe it is Ancient Greece *hehehe* kaye—the road goes ever ever on

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    1. Darn it! I even wrote this one is word to alleviate spelling mistakes. I am going to blame it on the Grease dance game for Kinect I have been obsessed with lately. Dancing to Grease Lightening has gone to my head.

      Ancient Grease sounds like something that may be used in Romancelandia...

      Thanks for the catch! I've fixed it now!

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  36. That is a really great list! Totally agree with #1, #2, & #4 (which I forgot to add to my list - d'oh!).

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  37. This is a great topic and one that was hard to narrow down. I took your 'advice' and include Hogwarts on my list, although it was actually one of the first ones that came to mind anyway!

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  38. Awesome topic this week! At first I thought I was going to have a hard time coming up with some good ones but ended up having way more than 10! :)
    http://sweet-tidbits.blogspot.com/2012/07/top-ten-tuesday-top-ten-most-vivid-book.html

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  39. It is a wonderful topic, and I like your list. Although I focused on books for younger readers, we agreed on the first two. And now I have GOT to read Soulless!

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  40. Oooh, I loved this topic. Thanks!

    Interesting that a lot of people reached to fantasy for vibrant worlds/settings...is it harder to make our own worlds vibrant?

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    1. I was thinking about that a lot too when writing this list. I immediately went to the fantastical. Even when I pulled it in to something it was alternate history fiction and vaguely-historical Gone with the Wind.

      It is definitely an interesting discussion point. If I had to pick a non-fiction book that had a vivid setting, I would chose Paris In Love by Eloisa James, a memoir about her year spent in France with her family.

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  41. Yep! Harry Potter and the Dark Materials made my list too. I keep putting Harry Potter on my lists, but it's all their fault, they're just so incredible in all your listy ways! It was hard to pick these as it was a balance between "you can't have the list without these classics" and trying to list books that not everyone has possibly read before.

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  42. Definitely agree with Harry Potter and Gone With the Wind! The Hunger Games made my list too! Here's my Top Ten Tuesday: http://thebookvoyage.blogspot.com/2012/07/top-ten-tuesday-top-ten-most-vivid.html

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  43. i think you mean ancient Greece.

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    1. Yeah, thanks for the catch! I've fixed it now.

      No one wants to live in a world with vibrant old oil...

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  44. Yes agree about Steampunk settings!!! Soulless and Leviathan are my two favorites. "Romancelandia" made me smile.

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  45. I thought Gone With the Wind was one of those where the details got in the way of the story. I just got so bored during all those descriptive passages. But that's just me.

    Anyway, this theme was a blast, and it wasn't hard at all for me to come up with the full list of ten. I even managed to have three on my list that weren't sci-fi/fantasy!

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    1. Oh, I was probably bored, too. I hate getting bogged down in the details. But reading it a while ago and remembering littler tends to color my view toward the positive.

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  46. I pretty sure we are going to see Harry Potter's world crop up on every list possible. How can it not? Awesome choices!

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  47. I love you'r list. I messed up while adding mine to the list, I'm sorry, maybe you can delete the other one. Really sorry. :}

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  48. I think Harry Potter's Wizarding World is going to be on everybody's list! (:

    Around the World Giveaway

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  49. I think you're right Sara. Rowling did a fabulous job of describing the setting.
    Angela @ AJ Arndt Books Blog

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  50. Steampunk worlds are some of my new favorite homes :) I would love to live in a steampunk world but I guess I would have to learn the difference between types of wrenches and you know, how to use tools...

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  51. I hope you know that you made me SO HAPPY by saying Romancelandia - best place EVER haha.

    Aside from that, I'm in complete agreement about Hogwarts, Middle Earth and Panem. Amazing stuff!

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  52. His Dark Materials!! Good one! I didn't think of it. That trilogy is AMAZING! GREAT TTT this week! Love this topic!

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  53. I love you list! I forgot Gone With The Wind in mine, but that was a great one. I definitely agree on Harry Potter and a few of the others.

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  54. OOohh.. I certainly agree with Harry Potter and Panem!

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  55. totally forgot Gone with the Wind! Such a good one.
    p.s. this is my first T10T!

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  56. I had to kidnap Panem from you on this one...and, well, I definitely agree with a few others. Great list! Keep 'em coming!

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  57. I see that you've already been called out on spelling "Greece" incorrectly, but it seems as though another mistake has been made. Catherine Zeta Jones was NEVER in Xena and therefore definitely didn't portray Xena on TV. The actress who played Xena was Lucy Lawless. Perhaps if they looked alike or at least had similar names I would understand the mix up, but they don't have any similarity to each other in looks or name.

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    1. You, of course, are right. I wonder why I was thinking of her? I would make a case however that they do look similar. Especially if they both had the longish black hair.

      I wonder why I was thinking of her, though. Looking at her IMBD page, I can't find anything similar that I could have mixed it up with.

      Thanks for the correction! I will add a footnote.

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  58. And Greece still has a C in it not an S.

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    1. Again, I thank you. I apparently 1)need to learn better spelling 2)need to have someone else proof my work.

      Correction noted.

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  59. Got it in just under the wire! Very excited to see what everyone else picked.

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  60. I would've made it in if my internet hadn't cut out 8 times in the last 2 hours :(

    Anyways, it was fun, my first time participating! I'll definately be back in the future!

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    1. No worries. You can add the link whenever. Welcome!

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  61. I have three out of ten of yours :-). Check out the map I found and posted on our TTT that combines serveral fictional lands. I think you'll like it. http://mysistersbookshelf.com/top-ten-tuesdays-most-vivid-book-worldssettings/

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  62. I forgot about Gone With The Wind. I loved that one and have read it over and over so many times that I can't even count them anymore. Can't believe I forgot about it.

    Nancy @ The Avid Reader

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  63. Definitely agree with HP and the Seven Kingdoms, both of those were on my list too! Love the choice of Gone With The Wind, I would have never thought of it, but it's such a vivid setting and it really seeps into the atmosphere of the book.

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  64. I love that you made Romancelandia a world!

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  65. I think every post I have seen, like mine, has harry potter and hunger games =D They are great worlds! And I completely agree with you on anything steampunk!!

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  66. This is a bit late since I was out of town doing a mission trip where there was no internet. But, I really liked this week's post's theme! It was a lot of fun!

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  67. Really late with this one but it was fun. Enjoyed it.

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