Round-Up: Emma Approved, True Dystopia, and More

Round-Up is my very occasional feature where I share my favorite story and media related articles from the interwebs with you! 

Emma Approved

I am super excited about this! The same team that brought The Lizzie Bennet Diaries will soon be tackling Jane Austen’s Emma with Emma Approved! In this version of Emma, the title character is an entrepreneur and, of course, a self-proclaimed match-maker. I watched the first few episodes of Welcome to Sanditon, the Lizzie Bennet spin-off, but it ended up boring me, but I am expecting that Emma Approved will be great! 

Loving YA Books as a Grown-Up Adult

HarperCollins shared a great blog post from a member of the EpicReads team about why, as a grown-up adult, she loves young adult fiction and what she feels it has to offer adults. If you’re a fan of YA (as I know most of my blog readers are), then check it out!

Cress Cover

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Speaking of young adult, have you seen the new cover for the next installment of The Lunar Chronicles, Cress? The long hair! The red ribbon! (It seems red is a theme on these covers… hmmm…) Can’t wait! I haven’t read the first chapter yet, but it’s posted out there on the web. Google for it if you’re less lazy than me! I’ve heard great things about it!

The Abuse and True Meaning of Dystopia

As I mentioned in a recent post, the word dystopia gets tossed around a lot for stories that aren’t truly dystopic. And I understand, I’m guilty of it too, but I do think it’s important to recognize the true meaning of the word. Shanelle at The Tracery of Ink elaborated on the matter further, and I would encourage you to check her post out!

Blogging News

I mentioned in my mini-review of 1984 that I would be elaborating more on the final act of the book, where the main character is tortured, in a future post. Tentatively scheduled for Friday, I will be posting a comparison of the torture scenes in 1984 with the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Chain of Command, Part II. It was only a matter of time before I did a post like this where I compared something in a book I read to Star Trek! But I’ll be bringing in some psychology as well, and yes it will be nerdy, but I am so excited and hope you guys will enjoy reading it.

Book Aquistions

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I finally took advantage of the sale at Epic Reads for the Pivot Point e-book for $1.99, and will be buying What’s Left of Me pretty soon (as in, once it’s out in paperback later this month). I was going to pre-order it on Amazon yesterday but… long story. I’ve heard some good things about Pivot Point, and since parallel universes are on my mind thanks to a certain TV show I have been watching, I thought it was worth checking out. I’m going to be discussing What’s Left of Me with some fellow blogging friends online and am looking forward to reading a book about clones.

And I was excited a few weeks ago to find out I won four autographed books by one of my favorite authors, Jon Acuff! I already had two of the books (though one of them just as an e-book), but not the other two, and plus to have them autographed was exciting! I won them by filling out a survey on his blog, and was hoping to win the grand prize of a ticket to his upcoming conference, but I’m pretty happy with my “consolation prize.”

Looking forward to reading the two books I haven’t read yet! Stuff Christians Like looks absolutely hilarious.

Who else is excited about Emma Approved and Cress? What are your favorite true dystopia reads? What books have you acquired recently? 

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My Top 10 Books I Have Read So Far This Year

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by The Broke and The Bookish) is the Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2013. Well, I’m an extremely lightweight book blogger, so I have read exactly 10 books so far this year (if you don’t count a couple of really short companion e-books). Though this isn’t much for some, this is actually pretty big for me as it means I am on par with my goal of reading at least 20 books this year (though I would love to pick up the pace and read a few more!), which will put me at reading more books this year than I have in a single year since… before high school. So there you have it.

Since I have read only 10 books this year, I thought I would rank each book from least favorite (which thankfully I still didn’t hate) to most favorite, and why I ranked them accordingly.

TTT

10. Reached by Allie Condie (2 Stars)

This book, as the end of a series, was fairly disappointing. The beginning of the book showed potential, with a plague outbreak caused by the Rising, who we had believed were supposed to be the good guys, but then it went downhill. For starters, since this was the first book of this trilogy I had read since reading The Giver, I suddenly realized that the Society in this series was a little too similar to that of The Giver. Also, I thought most of the characters felt out of place. I don’t want to re-review the book; you can see my thoughts on it by clicking on the the book title.

9. Across the Universe by Beth Revis (3 Stars)

I loved the concept of this one… a girl who is cryogenically frozen wakes too early on a spaceship still years from its destination. The execution of it… was just OK for me. It featured a really creepy mating season among humans on the ship, a lackluster romance, but some interesting twists. I plan to finish the series one day as I’ve heard it gets better, but let’s just say I wasn’t rushing to buy the second book after finishing this one.

8. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis (3 Stars)

The Last Battle turned out to be neither my favorite nor least favorite in The Chronicles of Narnia, with a story that was part boring, part interesting, but wrapped up with a beautiful ending.

7. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis (? Stars) 

I still haven’t figured out how to rate Till We Have Faces, because it left me with more questions than answers. Maybe it’s not a bad thing, as I know C.S. Lewis was much smarter than I am, but it left me feeling a little unsatisfied. Still, there was a certain captivating quality to it. Watch for my review to come soon.

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6. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (4 Stars)

This follow-up for Cinder did not do as much for me as the first book of The Lunar Chronicles, but I still found it enjoyable overall. I do love the characters and world Meyer has created, and I am looking forward to Cress!

5. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (4 Stars)

Reading this book was me dipping my toe into science fiction waters. It’s an interesting story about a bright boy who is sent to train for a war when he is far too young, and the secrets kept from him. I enjoyed it overall, but there were parts that were slow and that did not enjoy as much. By the recommendation of a friend, I do plan to read at least one of the follow-up books, Ender’s Shadow. I’m also looking forward to the movie later this year!

4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer (4 Stars)

I absolutely adored this first book of The Lunar Chronicles, especially the friendship/blooming relationship between Cinder and Kai. Truly the most swoon-worthy romance (even though it was really a pre-romance) I’ve read this year! The only real reason I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5 was because it was just way too predictable. Still, this was a great debut by Meyer!

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3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (5 Stars)

A heartbreaking book filled with beautiful words. I’m not sure what else to say without writing another review.

2. Start by Jon Acuff (5 Stars)

If you’ve been on this blog long enough or read my About Me, you know I have been influenced by author and speaker Jon Acuff, who has this idea that anyone can work towards their dream, but it may not always happen the way you expect it. I can’t really do his words justice, though. But if you’ve had a dream banging around the back of your mind, if you’ve ever wondered what your next step in life should be, if you wake up every morning wishing you could quit your day job, read Quitter and Start. They are five star books for me because if you follow his advice, it’s life-changing. I’m still in the middle of the process of working on my dream, and starting this blog has played a role in that. 

1. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (5 Stars)

Unbroken, the true account of a WWII fighter pilot’s life before, during, and after his incarceration at multiple Japanese POW camps is simply a stunning tale. I don’t read much non-fiction, especially long historical books like this one, but it always kept my interest, and Louie’s story never ceased to amaze me. If you only read one book on this list, it should be this one. I would recommend it to EVERYONE.

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What have been your favorite reads this year so far? 

Start.

I suppose this is the part where I introduce myself. So… my name is Amy, I’m 26 years old, and I blogged consistently for years. Then slowly, after years of sharing my life online, I just got tired of it. I was starting to focus more on my fiction. I felt my blog had no real direction. Well, it did, I suppose… it was sharing my weekend with my friends. But I was tired of that and I knew that if I was going to blog anymore, it needed to be different. It needed to have a direction and be something that people I don’t know would find interesting.

But the thought of focusing on one thing and the thought of total strangers reading my stuff online was terrifying. Sure, I wanted to be a published author one day, but I wouldn’t hear most of the criticism, and it wouldn’t be as immediate and personal as a negative comment on a blog. (Actually, it would be just as personal, because if I do ever get published, I can guarantee that book will be like my baby… a true labor of love.)

February 7, I attended a great event called Start Night, thrown by Jon Acuff. He’s pretty much been my hero since I read his book Quitter. I am not even 100% certain how I found out about the book. I knew him from the few times I had visited his Stuff Christians Like blog, and then he started making appearances on a radio show I listen to. I assume I heard him on the radio that day, checked out his blog, and then on the side of the page saw something about his new book Quitter, which had the tagline: “Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job & Your Dream Job.” Needless to say, this intrigued me. I downloaded it to my Nook and started reading it right away even though I had been reading Northanger Abbey. And it changed my thinking; it changed me.

When I saw the announcement for Start night, I knew I had to go. I got my ticket the first day. It felt a little risky. I, the introvert, would be going solo. I would have to parallel park in the downtown area. I would probably be sleep deprived the next day. And it was also the due date of my friend’s baby. I had no way of knowing he would be born a month early. I just hoped it would work out. And it did.

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Waiting in line… thankfully not long.

The theme of the night, and of the upcoming book, was this idea of leaving behind the path of an average life and getting on the path to awesome.

Inside the theatre

Inside the theatre… the switch from average to awesome.

I don’t think it sounds cool when I explain it, but it does when Jon Acuff does. Anyhow… and of course there was the idea of STARTING, to not put your dreams on hold any longer. Yes, keep your day job for now. Yes, be aware of your present circumstances and what you are capable of in terms of commitments and finances and what is important now. But dream of what’s ahead. Take every small baby step you can towards your dream and watch it grow. And don’t listen to the negative voices inside you that say you can’t do it, or the myth that you’ll be ready one day but you aren’t now. You’ll never really be ready. You have to start and go through an awkward, fumbling beginning and learning stage before you can become the master of your craft that you want to be. And not only is that OK, that’s what everyone who lives an awesome life goes through.

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Jon Acuff gave a great presentation of the material and I felt encouraged afterward. I got to leave with a pre-release copy of the book, which I am reading through now. Do yourself a favor and pre-order it.

All this to say, this blog is how I am STARTING, at least with my public writing. I have been writing pretty religiously for a little over a year now, and it’s paid off. Since November 2011 I have basically written 1 novel and I am almost finished with another one. That is more than I accomplished in my previous 15+ years of writing (but don’t get me wrong… I needed those years to start a lot of bad stories, ha).

But believe it or not, this blog is not all about my pursuit of writing. I think that would actually be quite boring to read about unless I posted my writing, which I am not doing quite yet. I do want to talk about stories however, whether they be in TV, movie, or book format. I love stories in all mediums. I majored in TV Production in college because I thought I might want to tell stories that way. I still hope to one day do a little something with film. But right now, I want  to write, and write, and rewrite, until I get that first novel bound with my name on the cover. But any exercise in writing and exploring story telling is beneficial I believe. So I will be discussing everything from Jo in Little Women (book and novel form) to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine to movie adaptations of Jane Austen’s stories to The Hunger Games… and everything else in between.

I still don’t know exactly how this blog is going to look as it progresses. I have sat on this idea for about a year. But it’s time to START and find out. Thanks for reading this long (I promise not all posts will be this long). And thanks for your willingness to go through the growing pains with me.

Tell me, what do you want to START? What’s your dream?