My Favourite Books (2015 edition)

Since I’ve started this blog, I’ve talked about more books than I can count, whether in reviews, or critiques, or cover reveals. I’ve gabbed and gushed, and sometimes even talked about books that I don’t like. But I haven’t really spent a lot of time talking about books that aren’t new and hot, especially since converting from a purely dystopia-oriented blog to a more open-ended one.

Recently, I enjoyed the glorious week-of-all-weeks, better known to university and college students as “Reading Week.” Although I had way too much work to read anything new for pleasure, I did have to review Anne of Green Gables for a test. I say “had to,” but Anne is actually my favourite book ever. Getting to read it is always a pleasure (I’ve re-read it almost every year since I was eight), and every time I read it I get a new understanding of it. Because I’ve read it so often, I also get a bunch of good memories flooding back at me every time I re-read it.

Book lovers will understand. While some books are enjoyable for a time, or a guilty pleasure, some books stick with us for life. Their words make us smile, or their characters feel like friends. Sometimes, in these cases, even holding a copy of the book is enough to touch us. So, in honour of favourite books, I’ve decided to share some of mine, as of February 2015. It’s maybe not an exhaustive list, but it’s the books that are at the top of my head. Which maybe establishes them as my favourites.

1. Anne of Green Gables (and Anne of Avonlea, and Anne of the Island)

2. Anything by Jane Austen

3. Little Women and Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott

4. Writing Jane Austen by Elizabeth Aston

5. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton (I like pretty much anything she writes, but this one is my favourite)

6. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

7. The Selection by Kiera Cass

8. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

9. Anything by Agatha Christie

10. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Shaffer and Annie Barrows

11. Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts

12. The Walk series by Richard Paul Evans

13. Fallen Angel by Don J. Snyder

14 Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

15. After the Fear by Rosanne Rivers

16. Queen of Someday by Sherry D. Ficklin

Book Review: Grasping at Eternity by Karen Amanda Hooper

I’ll admit it, I’m really behind in book reviews. Even though I’m a fast reader, and can even speed-read, it’s my last year of my English degree, and I’m required to read about two books per week, plus assignments and other readings. As such, I’ve regulated most of my reading for book reviews for reading on the bus. That said, rules are meant to be broken. Especially when reading books like Grasping at Eternity.

Even with my self-enforced ban on any review-reading, except on the bus, I was so compelled by this book that I found myself reading it between classes, before bed, sitting on my porch…you get the idea.

Grasping at Eternity is about Maryah, whose parents and brother are brutally murdered at the beginning of the novel. Maryah is almost murdered and left for dead, but is rescued by a mysterious force and recovers after several surgeries, save for the emotional trauma. Orphaned, she moves in with her hippie-esque godmother, her godmother’s husband, and their expansive family of  children, surrogate children, and other family members. What Maryah doesn’t realize is that they are a family of reincarnated souls who have lived many past lives, and that she herself has lived through many past lives. She also doesn’t realize that one of the Luna family’s children, Nathan is her soulmate, and that she must face grave danger in order to be with him.

I loved how this book started off structurally and emotionally strong and kept plugging through, pulling me along the entire way. Maryah’s emotions as she copes with the grief of her family’s deaths  feel very real, and she is very relatable as a character, not only in her grief, but also in her humour and spunky personality. I also loved the past lives/soulmates idea, which is original to many of the paranormal plots I’ve read recently.

If I have one complaint about this novel, it is probably the dual narration of Nathan and Maryah. Hooper does a good job of giving both characters distinctive voices, but I wasn’t overly keen on the dual narration. Usually I enjoy dual narration, but I felt that in this story, it slightly inhibited the mysteriousness of the plot by cluing the reader into Nathan and his family’s background almost immediately. It doesn’t take away from the plot, but I would have preferred to find out about the past-lives plot through Maryah’s point of view. Still, the emotional integrity of the story and a nice little twist at the end keeps things exciting enough to keep the reader turning the pages past bedtime. Recommended!

Missing you…..

Hey All,

Just taking a break from my PowerPoint slides (ugh, I hate doing PowerPoints), to let you know that I am still here and that I miss you! I’ve been incredibly busy, but will be back the week of Feb. 14 (Valentine’s! My Favourite!) with some great new content…my Valentine’s Day gift to you!

Until then, Em XO

x

New Year, New (well not new, but improved) Blog + what I’m Looking Forward to this Year

Hi All!

Happy New Year!!!!! Can’t believe it’s already a new year. Time flies. Anyway, I thought I’d add a couple things that I didn’t already add in my Fall/Winter update.

I’m celebrating two years of blogging in February!! So excited. I can’t believe that it’s been two years already. This blog is so special to me, and I really feel that it’s “grown up” with me over the past couple of years. The more I’ve read and blogged, the more wonderful people I’ve met and my interests have expanded. That’s why I’m pleased to announce that this blog is undergoing some changes in the new year. I’m planning on changing the format to fit more a “book blog” style. I love my old style and will miss it, but it isn’t the most functional for the intents and purposes of this blog. If anyone has any suggestions for free WordPress templates that suit a book blog, please let me know. Also, I’ll be adding some other features, like an expanded review policy section, additional services, and an email address that’s designated especially for this site.

Dystopia Capitol is also no longer going to be a purely dystopian-focused blog anymore. It hasn’t been for some time, so I figured it’s time for a change. Right now, I’ll be focusing on not just YA fiction, but also book that will appeal to young readers. even adult books (that’s books marketed to the over-18’s, not X-rated books :)). So that’ll be YA, NA, and also other books I think teens will appreciate, like Kate Morton’s books. Dystopian fiction is still close to my heart, and I will still specialize in it, I just wanted to expand a bit.

I’m restarting school again soon, so I don’t know what sort of free time I’ll have, but I have another idea for blogging that I think you guys will enjoy. I’ll keep you posted!!

Is there anything I can write about that you’d like to see in 2015? Any books I should review, or topics I could cover? let me know!!

And now, some of the top things I’m looking forward to this year (book and movie wise, and in no particular order):

1. Sherry D. Ficklin’s Queen of Tomorrow. I adored the first book in this series, Queen of Someday, and am so excited for a sequel. Plus there’s another gorgeous cover to look at!

2. The Heir by Kiera Cass. When I heard that Kiera Cass’s final book in the Selection trilogy was not the final book, and that there would be another, I SCREAMED. Plus this one is quite far in the future, when America’s children are grown. Seeing Maxon and America all grown up and middle aged together with a couple of kiddos will the most adorable thing ever. Plus (yeah, I know) it comes out just three days before my birthday!

3. Mockingjay Part 2 and Insurgent. Well, duh!

What are you all looking forward to this year?

x Emily

Review: Impervious by Heather Letto (Ascension #1)

******I received this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks so much to Heather Letto and Book Fish Books!!!******

This gripping dystopian novel by Heather Letto features Fran, an Unacountable in the city of Impervious. While the living in the city has its benefits, Fran chooses to live off-the-grid, moving out of sight and gathering what food she can find with her friend, Pete, all in the hope that can remain hopeful of seeing the Epoch before The Beast, a mysterious illness responsible for the deaths of previous Generations, takes her hope from her.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a Bible quote on the first page of the novel. It’s uncommon to see overt Christian content in dystopian literature, likely because the genre lends itself towards a dark tone. However, it makes sense, considering that apocalyptic and dark situations take place in the Bible, making it perhaps the “first” dystopian piece of literature. The theme carries out well throughout the book, and as a Christian reader, I certainly thought it was original and a positive feature. However, this theme is also subtle, and those who are not reading from a Christian background will still appreciate it for being a thoughtful, hopeful, and action-packed story.

The world-building in this book was fantastic! I felt fully absorbed in this thought-out dystopian universe, and fully invested in Fran’s distrust of the city, and in her off-the-grid lifestyle. The immersive quality of Letto’s beautiful prose, combined with the world building, made this a suspenseful read, with just the right amount of underlying, lurking terror that the dystopian genre is famous for.

A minor issue I had with this book, lies mostly within the first few chapters. The book starts off very quickly, and very fast-paced. This is a good thing, except I felt that it didn’t leave enough time for the reader to ease into the world that the author so deftly created, and resulted in more telling than showing. However, this cleared up quickly, and I was able to sink into the author’s cleverly crafted world and stay there right until the very end.

Ultimately, Impervious is an entry to the dystopian genre that is as thoughtful and well-crafted as it is fast-paced and exciting. Highly recommended to fans of Divergent,  Ruth Silver’s Aberrant, and Gemma Malley’s The Declaration.

2014 in review

Thanks for a great year Peoples!!!!!!!! You helped me do this! Love Ya!!!!!!!! XO, Emily

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,900 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 48 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Winter (and late Fall) Update

Hi All!!!

Well, it’s been forever, hasn’t it? I’m sorry it’s been so long, my life has been crazy!!!!!!!!!!! It’s my final (God-willing and fingers crossed) year of university, so I’ve been working really hard to make sure that I do good work and that my grades are good. Because it’s my last year, doing the best I can is really important to me, because I know that unless I choose to go back to school, this will be the last time that I will complete academic schoolwork. It’s both an exciting and sad thought, but I’m super excited to move on to new things.

Doing this, however, hasn’t made for the most relaxing term. I worked through not one, but two nights, and also spent a lot of time working late and getting up early to try and make things as perfect as possible. Trust me,  sitting up at 4 a.m bawling over Ed Sheeran’s “Photograph” and “Thinking Out Loud” and drinking yet another cup of coffee is not a pretty sight.  It’s been rewarding, in that I won a scholarship and made the dean’s list, but I think my new Year’s Resolution this year might be to take it a little easier on myself!

Speaking of New Year’s, I hope everyone had a great Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate in winter :)) I certainly did, although it’s all going much faster than I’d like! But I’ve been enjoying spending time with my family and catching up on reading and writing for fun. I read a lot of different books at any one given time, but I am currently reading Heather Letto’s dystopian novel, Impervious. I’m almost done and will be writing a review on it in the next couple of days. It’s super-good, so I know you’ll all love it as well! Also, check back for my new-cover reveal of Ruth Silver’s Dead Girl Walking. I’ve been going through some HTML issues, but I’m trying to get those sorted. Come January, I’ll also be reviewing a few other great YA titles that are leftover from my fall reading. I was lucky enough to get Pierce Brown’s sequel to Red Rising, Golden Son, and will be reviewing that to coincide with its release, so keep checking back!

As far as my writing’s been going, it’s been going well. I had all these elaborate plans to completely revise my YA novel over the winter break (right, like that was ever going to happen), but I got a bit slowed down from leftover repetitive motion strain from fall. However, I have made some changes, and have a really good idea where I’m going with it. I also have begun a Christmas story, the beginning of which is with a publisher now. And I have also spent some time thinking about how to revise a novella I wrote a couple of years ago. No promises, but I’m thinking that I may be able to gift it to you guys as a free ebook! I hope so, anyways.

Anyway, lots happening! Hope to be back soon! Until then, happy New Years!!!

x Emily

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