Book Review: Through The Ever Night

Hello Little Darlings,

Today is Book Review Day!

“Through the Ever Night” by Veronica Rossi

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Let me just start by saying that I have finished this series and am suffering from major book hangover. I didn’t want it to end. I kept turning the last few pages over and over hoping new words would just appear out of the thin air. I needed a “Ten Years Later…” epilogue. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to these characters that I had fallen in love with. I’m mentioning this because this post my end up being unintentionally scattered. If that’s the case I apologize and now you know why.

Veronica Rossi, in my humble opinion, took a huge risk with the second book in this series. She got you to fall in love with the two main characters in the first book and then separated them for the majority of the second book; but here is why it worked. Through the journey of “Under the Never Sky” you became invested in these two characters as individuals, not just as a couple; so though it hurt to keep them a part, it had it’s higher purpose and you as the reader understood that. With the escalation of events there was no way Perry and Aria could have remained together and accomplished the major feats that needed to be completed. It was also a great test for each character to see what they were made of on their own. It tested Perry’s loyalty and old way of thinking. It tested Aria’s confidence and abilities.

I personally loved what this book did for my favorite heroine, Aria. It really showed what she was capable of without the help of her love interest. She came into her own. She became a confident, self-assured woman. She made the hard decisions and took action without anyone holding her hand. Rossi knows how to write a female character that you can respect and look up to. She is fierce, loyal, intelligent, gentle and most importantly REAL. Maybe that is why I loved Aria so much, she felt like some I could know. She felt like someone I could be if I was placed in those dire circumstances. At least I would hope I would be. I could gush on Aria all day long, but there is more to discuss.

The one thing that stuck out to me the most about this book were the individual story lines between Aria and Perry. They were so equally compelling that at the end of each chapter I wanted to skip ahead to see what happens, since the chapters go back and forth between the two main characters. However, by two paragraphs in the next chapter, I completely forgot about that. I was hooked again on the separate story. The pace was steady, yet thrilling and she never wasted a word. The action was just as charged, if not more so than the first book; and so were the feels even though the two love birds were hundreds of miles apart.

It was an opportunity to explore other relationships formed or spoken of in the first book that took a backseat to the love story. My only warning is that there will be some major blows to the heart in this one. Sacrifices will be made and lives lost, but all with purpose and none that will push you over the edge and make you want to strangle the author, (Cough, cough… Allegiant).

This book really upped the level of intensity, emotion, action, information, etc… Everything you’d want in a second novel, which usually seems to be the weakest link in the series chain. That can not be said of “Through the Ever Night”. It did a great job carrying through the story from the first book while perfectly setting up the events of the final installment in the series. I highly recommend it. It will not be the one in the series that you will have to “get through”, it will be the one you never want to end.

Here is the link to the book on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13253276-through-the-ever-night?from_search=true 

 

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Feminism = Objectification

I’m not generally considered a “cool” person. My whole life I’ve only ever had a handful of actual friends at a time. Even my group of acquaintances has always been relatively small. Back in high school I hated that I was on the outside looking in, but in hindsight I am grateful that I was never popular. Knowing my tendencies and given the opportunity I may have turned into someone I would not respect. Besides, there’s something invaluable about the adversities you face as an underdog. All that to say, that there is a lot about me that doesn’t fit into social norms. For example, I don’t really watch t.v., which leads me into the topic I wanted to discuss.

Because I don’t have cable I wasn’t able to watch this year’s VMAs this past weekend. To be honest, I’m relieved after having seen clips on YouTube. When did woman writhing on stage, simulating sex become an act of female empowerment? When did dressing and acting promiscuously become synonymous with confidence and independence? I have a major issue with this because it’s a serious deception that is being passed down from generation to generation as truth.

Don’t get me wrong, to each his, or in this case, her own. If you want to walk around with your butt cheeks hanging out of the bottom of your shorts or nipples covered in pasties, go right ahead. What I have an issue with is calling it female empowerment because you’ve claimed to have taken control of your sexuality and can exude it on your “own terms”. When did our gender lose our ability to reason intelligently? Let’s break this down.

We have always been a sexual people, but before the exploration of the 60s and 70s, it was kept mostly behind closed doors. There certainly was a stigma against women who dressed or acted provocatively. That all changed in the previously mentioned decades. After that, sexuality became more prevalent in the influencing spheres of society, which then made it common place outside the home. Suddenly, everything was on display. Due to this, the objectification of woman became a universal social norm. It’s no secret that throughout time woman have been treated as objects of fantasy and lust, but at some point there came a clear mentality shift among woman in regards to this treatment. Suddenly, instead of fighting it, we’re embracing it, further still we’re perpetuating it. It’s the old “if you can’t beat em’, join em'” school of thought that’s rearing it’s ugly head and it’s being disguised as giving woman the “power”. WHAT?!?!

So, we are allowing ourselves to be a product for the entertainment industry or an object of lust for the masses because it empowers us as human beings? Does anyone else see the logic in this? cause I don’t. Supposedly feminism was about equality, right? How does embracing this picture of women put us on an equal playing field? Please, if someone has a rational explanation that makes sense and gives evidence to support it, I’m all ears. Not to mention, that we in no way have put “the ball in our court” with this. Woman being over sexualized is nothing our gender can possibly hope to control. If so, they wouldn’t be playing Beyonce videos on television screens outside the Red Light District in Amsterdam where human trafficking takes place. So, the men we are supposedly fighting for equality and respect are getting exactly what they want from us, at the quantity they want it, and on top of that the fight against it has decreased since women have started to embrace it. The power being in our hands is an illusion, a clever deception we took hook, line and sinker.

Yes, I have noticed the slow increase in men being objectified in the same fashion that women tend to be, but is that the kind of equality we meant? If so, then have a seat and get comfortable, because this is still a patriarchal society and men will never endure the treatment women do, to the same degree that women do. In addition, if this is about using your sexuality as a weapon to get what you want; like I will jiggle around in a cleavage baring bodysuit in my music video if you allow me to spit with the big boys or I’ll do that nude scene in this movie if you pay me more, than congratulations, you have just officially prostituted yourself.

I recently heard a song from a musical girl group, “Fifth Harmony” called “Boss”. It’s all about being confident and independent woman, but in the music video the girls are doing nothing of value or deserving of such descriptions except being scantily clad and thrusting their hips while holding up letters that spell “confidence.” Mind you, this video is light years away from their previous ones were they looked like sweet girls next door; but sex is what sells, right? In their lyrics they mention two woman of power, Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey. Let me just point out that these are two woman who are always fully dressed and use their influence, not to promote the degradation of, but the intelligence, virtue and power of women.

In conclusion, what the hell are we doing ladies? Something needs to give, because we have got it twisted and this is what we are teaching young girls? You’re only as valuable as how sexy you can be? or how good your body looks? If this is not the case, than I challenge singers and rappers like Beyonce, Rihanna and Nicki Minaj to take a whole year and write music that has nothing to do with your looks or your body, make music videos were you’re fully clothed and not dancing provocatively and step out in public with conservative apparel. Show me that it’s really about your talent and that you can be strong, independent and confident woman without all the bulls&%t.

 

Jane Austen Praise Break

It has come to my attention that my recent posts have been a bit heavy. They tackle weighty subjects like identity, sexuality, marriage, etc… These are all topics worth discussing, but even the most contemplative person needs a break every now and then for some good old-fashioned feel good entertainment. So, this is my Jane Austen Praise Break. If you have not already come across these two series on YouTube, than you have seriously been missing you. Especially if you claim to be a Janeite. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Emma Approved. Each web series is a modern adaptation of the the Austen novels we’ve grown to love so much. In particular, Pride and Prejudice and Emma. These series’ are clever, witty and engaging. They manage to stay true to the story lines that we cherish, while keeping it fresh with their own spins and twists. Definitely worth investing your time. Each episode is about 4-7 minutes long; and can easily be found on YouTube just be searching the titles.

To get you started I have included the first episode of each series. Enjoy my Little Darlings!

The Lizzie Bennett Diaries:

Emma Approved:

To Marry or not to Marry?

As Drew Barrymore once said, “To be a good writer you have to write what you know. Well, this is what I know.” Marriage has been on my mind a lot in the last few months, but in a different way than I’ve previously experienced. Suddenly all my daydreams of white picket fences and happily ever afters are going up in flames. I stand in the midst of them, smoke wafting all around me; and instead of watching horrified, I’m waving good-bye with a smile on my face. Suddenly, I’m relieved to see them disintegrate before me. It’s like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I have been liberated. Let me explain.

Marriage is another reason I feel I was born in the wrong time era. For me, marriage is till death do you part, not till I get bored with you or till things get too hard. It’s not till the fluttery feelings fade or until I can’t stand to look at you because you reflect me and I’m ugly right now. It’s a commitment that is based on more than our flighty emotions. Believe it or not, marriage is about more than just me and what I want, especially when children are involved. So, it’s no surprise in our narcissistic, “Me” generation divorce is the highest it’s ever been and we barely bat an eye anymore. It’s more common for people to separate than to stay together and slowly, but surely the idea of marriage has become antiquated with many deciding to take a hard pass. Nowadays all it takes is a well timed statement expressing their deepest regrets and “commitment” to the future, we shed our single tear and the next minute we’re back to talking about selfies because it’s so commonplace, why waste time and energy on it? And this is what I’m supposed to look up to? or learn from? Someone needs to change the vows we make at the alter to “For richer or richer, in health and only health, till I’m done,” because we clearly aren’t abiding by the ones we say now. It feels as though we’ve redefined commitment to suit our needs and desires with no regard to sacrifice or honor.

You might presume that my thinking about matrimony gives me a better chance at a successful marriage; but I’m only one half of a relationship. That’s the real dilemma. The success of your marriage is dependent on an unpredictable human being that can lose their minds at any moment and do a 180 degree turn away from you and your marriage. Relationships are a huge risk and with the mentality shift of “Let’s see how it goes,” instead of “Till the end,” who wants to bother? Not me.

I know some of you may be thinking that this is an irrational fear and that I should just get over it because I’ll be missing out, but… I don’t want “divorcee” to ever succeed my name. It’s not in me, it’s not who I am. I don’t know what fairy tale I was living in before, but now I am painfully aware that there is no guarantee of that in life, now more than ever. So I ask myself, to marry or not to marry? It’s a weighty choice because I’m not about being in relationships just for the sake of being in them. It has to be going somewhere, have a future. I’m also not the type to live with a man as though we were married when we aren’t. Yes, that means no sharing a home and no sex. So, where does that leave me? I would say that qualifies me as a nun. I wont ever say the words out loud because celibacy is not something to be taken lightly. It’s a commitment that should be entered into thoughtful and confidently without feelings of anger, bitterness or disappointment clouding your judgment.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m really hoping that in a few years I will be eating my words; but I can’t deny that the older I get the easier it is to remain single. Thirty is two years away and though that is by no means the end of the line for me, I would just like to point out that if we were living in the Regency Era I would practically be a spinster. Age isn’t the issue here though, it’s desire. It’s deciding if someone or something is worth the risk, worth the possible consequences. Day to day I literally feel myself get more and more jaded. I can’t even watch a romantic moment in a movie, one of my simple yet profound joys in life, without scoffing under my breath about how unrealistic it is or how that would never happen in the real world. What’s worse is I will literally go off in rants. I was watching the proposal scene from the movie “Leap Year” on YouTube and I laughed while saying things like, “Enjoy it will it lasts, cause it wont” and “You’re idiots, you’ve known each other for a week.” Though there is truth to some of the things I stated, it’s a movie, it’s not supposed to be realistic. Movies purposely tap into the things that don’t happen in real life, into fantasy. I’m aware of this and yet I can’t just enjoy a sweet moment of suspended reality. Nope, I have to muck it up with my cynical realism. This is where I’m at.

In conclusion, the jury is still out about this issue and to be honest about how I feel about this new version of myself. I used to be a hopeless romantic and now that the rose-colored glasses are gone the phrase, “ignorance is bliss” comes to mind. Help me out Little Darlings? What do you think about what I’ve said?

A Different Kind of Virgin Story

Believe it or not being a virgin isn’t something I think or talk about on the daily. It’s not a scarlet letter I bare for all to see. On the list of things that define me it’s not even in the top 3. With that being said, in our society sex is more than just an act. It’s a product we consume in mass quantities. Sadly, it’s probably the most talked about topic among us, so I’m chiming in, as the minority, and putting in my two cents because there is an awful lot of misconceptions floating around out there.

I want to start by getting right in there and attacking the stereotypes that immediately pop into a person’s head when they hear “virgin”. I want to shoot them down dead with a giant bazooka. No shade, we all make initial snap judgments without even realizing it. We call them “first impressions” and they are the reason for cliches like “judging a book by its cover”. Let me tell you, many a good story has been missed out on because of it. So, let’s try and have an open mind here and remove any preconceived notions we might have of someone whose turning 28 and still a virgin.

Let’s talk about the thirty-something year old down-and-out loser we typically see on the silver screen. She’s usually deemed pathetic and makes it pretty obvious that she is achingly aware of it. In the beginning their usually at some dead end job they hate because never having sex equals never having taken any risks in life. Their invisible to everyone around them because their frumpy and sloppy with no clue on what to do with that hidden beauty dying to burst out in a cleavage baring top. In some cases, they aren’t considered to be classically good-looking, whatever that means; and can tend to be a bit voluptuous, because we all know skinny woman are the only one’s who get laid. Most importantly, being a virgin is considered a curse to them and one they would gladly relinquish if only Mr. Right would give them the time of day. Case in point: My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Never Been Kissed, etc. Where did this idea come from? Frankly, it needs to crawl back into whatever pit it came out of because it’s insulting. Of course if you’re beautiful you can’t be intelligent and have standards as well. Unheard of. So, the only explanation that we can come up with for someone not flinging their maidenhood around the moment they come of age is because they are disgusting slobs with nothing going for them in life. How openminded of us!

Well, here is one story that defies convention. It just so happens to be my story. I’m not homeschooled, I was public schooled my whole life, so I’m not sheltered or naive. I don’t come from a small town. I was raised in one of the biggest cities in this country, Miami, Florida. How’s that for bursting the big city equals fast life bubble? I wasn’t raised in an uber religious household. We would go to church occasionally, but prayer, fasting and reading the bible on a daily basis was not a family practice. I’m confident, socially apt, fit and good-looking. The point I am trying to make here is that nothing is as black and white as we try and make it. Not everything or everyone fits snuggly in the boxes we have in our minds. In fact, l challenge you reader, to cry out “anarachy” like you’re in Braveheart and smash the boxes. Smash every single one. We only like them because it makes complicated things seem understandable and simple, because it makes things comfortable for us. Frankly, I’m tired of trying to fit in the box that people try and put me in marked “virgin”. My arms and legs are hanging all out and I’m suffocating.

Isn’t it possible that a person can, of their own volition, decide to keep themselves for as long as they see fit? That their reasoning is actually sound? My choice really has served me well thus far; and believe or not I actually don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. Once the mystery and glamour of it all passed in my late teens and early twenties, I felt affirmed that I had made the right choice for myself. It didn’t hurt that I had countless sexually active people telling me they thought what I was doing was admirable; or heard the numerous stories of bitter regret spewing like poison from person after person. Even still, those things weren’t even factors in my decision. My choice was my own and one I made with all the facts. One that made sense to me. Don’t get me wrong, as I said in my last article, it’s something I look forward to and plan on being really good at it. Sex is not a shameful thing to me, something that can only be discussed behind closed doors or in hushed whispers. On the contrary, I think it’s beautiful and in context, very natural. For now though, it’s one less piece of baggage that I have to carry around. One less complication that I have to deal with on a daily basis. One less possible regret I have to harbor.

Understand, this is one perspective, one opinion; and yes, I have heard all the arguments. Sex is fun, it feels good, it’s not that big of a deal, etc… There isn’t a question that someone hasn’t asked me or I haven’t asked myself. I still stand firm; and if I die a virgin that’s actually fine with me. I’m sure on my deathbed I will have bigger regrets to grapple with than never having had sex. This is my philosophy, sex is like bungee jumping: It’s thrilling, there is an aspect of danger and excitement, it’s over in sixty seconds and something I can happily live my life without ever having done. So, I will hold on to my “V” card thank you. My goal here isn’t to glamorize virginhood, it’s simply to shed light on a small, but important people group that need to be acknowledged, not as abnormal or out of touch, but as intelligent and modest people that don’t allow their sexual status to be THE defining factor in their lives. Just some food for thought, Bon Appetit My Little Darlings.

Book Review: Under the Never Sky

Hello Little Darlings,

Today is Book Review Day!

“Under the Never Sky” by Veronica Rossi

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I’m going to strive to give as impartial a review as I possibly can. I’m definitely the type of person that can get overly invested in movies and novels. If stories don’t conclude in the way I hoped they would, as someone who has been on the journey with these characters, it’s a serious blow to my emotions. I literally find I have to remind myself that these are fictional stories and fictional characters. “It’s not real life. It’s going to be okay.” With that being said, once I am hooked into a story line it is difficult to remain neutral, but I will try my best.

First of all, “Under the Never Sky” is focused on two characters, Aria and Perry, who in an interesting twist of fate end up relying on one another as a means to an end. It’s a dual perspective, narrated in the third person, but still gives you all the juicy inner dialogue you have come to love in a first person perspective. These two characters come from polar opposite worlds, which creates some interesting tension for the reader to explore. However, because of their dependence on each other they end up creating a bond that runs deeper and grows stronger than either expected.

Now, I will admit that the book didn’t grip me from the very beginning. To be honest, I was confused the first few chapters in, but as the story progressed I realized that what Veronica Rossi was doing was intentional and downright brilliant. When we read a YA dystopian novel we expect action from the get go, frankly it’s part of the formula; but often the world building that is required in such a novel takes a backseat to the initial push of adrenaline to suck the reader in and get them invested enough to continue on. This is not the case with Rossi. Her world building is evident from the beginning, and in fact, is one of the main things that draws you in. So many questions spring to mind and mysteries begin to unfold that she addresses as the story progresses. She remains consistent and goes through great lengths so that reader feels as though they understand this world and it’s cultures as well as the characters who live in them.

Her characters are well rounded, with rich histories and current circumstances that pull you in and manage to attach you to them individually. Aside from Aria and Perry, there is Talon, Roar, Cinder, Marron, Vale, etc… Each play a part that is integral to the plot while carrying a unique emotional makeup that causes a reader to relate and sympathize in deep ways. Its always a good sign after reading a novel to be able to go back and in your mind separate out each character, especially secondary characters, without their personalities and characteristics overlapping one another.

Speaking of characters, never have I fangirled so hard on a female character. Aria’s journey throughout this book is one of self-discovery, maturity and strength. She manages to be subtle in her power and remain real and relatable, which is the issue I had with Tris in Divergent. As a pre-qualification I want to say that I absolutely love the Divergent series and it is not my intention to throw shade on Tris, but I could not relate to her at all. I admired her, but that’s where it ended. Perhaps due to Abnegation upbringing or her transition into Dauntless, she came off robotic and at times emotionally stunted. She never appeared her age and her inner dialogue was calloused, as it related to her own emotions and the emotions of others. Aria wears her heart on her sleeve in a unique way. A way that shows that she is still in touch with the reality of her circumstances and has a decent balance between doing what is right and acting out of raw desire. Aria is so far, my favorite female heroine in YA.

The two separate societies Rossi creates in this book are so drastically different from one another that you find it difficult to reconcile that these to cultures could not only co-exist on the same planet, but be aware of each other and at times interact; and when they do collide it makes for some intense dynamics. Rossi makes you feel that though they are polar opposites they may in the end be able to put aside their differences/prejudices and unite through a common goal. Both worlds are in need of and seek after the same thing. It’s something that can either bring them to together as human beings or tear them further apart. The great thing about the way she wrote them is that no one outshines the other. They each have their distinct issues and evident ugliness that frankly make you, as the reader, want to do away with both ways of living and start fresh. It comes to the point where you are incapable of picking a side to root for and at the end of the day who you end up cheering on is humanity as whole. The story remains, at its core, about the people.

All in all, I highly recommend this book and hopefully the entire series. I’m hooked. I laughed, I cried, I gasped and yelled at characters as though they could hear me. There were great plot twists and intriguing discoveries. As well as, character building revelations. For those who enjoy a good old-fashioned hate to love story, this one will knock you in the feels over and over again. I definitely ship these two. More importantly, there is so much more to say, hence it being a trilogy. I will be getting the second book “Through the Ever Night” in two days and in a week or two write a review on that one as well. Till then find “Under the Never Sky” at your local bookstore and happy reading my Little Darlings.

Here is a link to the book on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11594257-under-the-never-sky?from_search=true

A Jane Austen Girl Living in a Sex in the City World

I know the title screams cliche, but it’s the best one I could come up with when trying to explain to my co-workers why I am on the verge of 28 and still single. To be honest, I’ve reached my limit. I’m at the breaking point, because if I have to hear one more person tell me they don’t understand why I am not married or pat me on the back and tell me it will happen when I least expect it, I’m going to light it up and burn it down. I will go all Office Space on someone if I get one more “well intentioned” suggestion on how to find and keep a man. Trust me, no one is more aware than I am that my ovaries aren’t getting any younger, but my problem is bigger than my lack of trying, the city I live in (which is one of the worst for dating and singles in the country), my job or circle of friends. The issue is that I am a Jane Austen girl in a Sex in the City world. I am an eighty-five year old woman in a twenty-seven year old’s body. I am half modern woman and half 1950s house wife.

Some people would read this and think that’s exactly what every man wants, WRONG! That’s what every man wants in movies and novels, not in the real world. Now, let me prequalify by saying that I do not live with my head in the clouds. People hear Jane Austen and they think I want to bust out Regency Era garb, british accents and needlework. That’s not the case. I’m all about finding the balance. So, while I’m not about to decorate my room with Mr. Darcy posters, neither am I going to light my bra on fire.

What I love is the solid morality, the propriety and modesty of that time. Men were men and woman, woman. Love was simple and straightforward. On the flip side, I also love the advances of my age. I like my iPad and air conditioning. I like that I have tattoos and piercings. I like that I can be an intelligent, strong and ambitious woman who gets to kick ass and take names in her career. I’m the girl who knows how to change the oil in her car but still expects men to open the door for me when they see me coming. I love being a woman and though I am unashamed of my femininity, I refuse to use it as a weapon. I am the proud prude who is so looking forward to having sex one day. I plan to be really good at it by the way. To me being a “good girl” isn’t a front for being a freak behind closed doors. I relate more to Nancy Drew than I do Beyonce. Do you see my dilemma here?

Let’s be honest people, the skirts are getting smaller and the times looser. I live in a world where I am constantly being told to throw the rule book out of the window. Do whatever floats your boat; but here is the thing, I like the rule book. The rule book has served me well up to this point. Because of it I have avoided a lot of heartache, brokenness, STDs and baggage.

I stand firm in who I am, what I’m about and what I want; but does being this way destine me for a life of spinsterhood with all the stereotypical trimmings of cats, moth balls and pathetic dinners for one? True, I like the way my heart flutters when I watch a sweet “happily ever after” scene on the movie screen or read one in a novel. I take them in and I enjoy them, but that’s where it stops. I don’t let these things shape my expectations. I don’t daydream about my own knight-in-shining-armor riding in on his noble stead to finally put a ring on it. I don’t let the fantasy become my reality. I know what the world is like cause I live in it Every. Day. All I am asking for is a good man with his crap together. Someone with integrity, respect and honor, which are words that have seemed to have lost their value in our current culture. A grown up without the mommy issues. Ok, so maybe I am looking for a modern day Mr. Darcy. Maybe that means I will die alone. At least I go to the grave knowing that I didn’t settle. That I didn’t attach myself to someone for the rest of my life who I don’t admire or respect.

I already know what some of you are thinking. Everyone settles and eventually so will I. Why? Because the desire for marriage will become too much? It’s called self-control and I have gotten abnormally good at it. Not to mention that marriage isn’t the end all. It’s not my means to happiness. There is a lot in life to desire and look forward to. What about sex? My Vag doesn’t control my decisions now, so why will it then? Besides, you can’t really miss what you never had. Well, what about companionship? It’s called friendship. Any other arguments?

So, in conclusion, to all my Jane Austen girls. Keep you chin up and your fans held high. Decide what’s important to you, being in a relationship or being happy with who you see looking back at you in the mirror; and maybe, just maybe, one day you can have both.