Emily Hickey

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Ireland vs. The States

While studying abroad, you are introduced to many new experiences, cultures and overall ways of life, whether it be in your host country or through your travels. Over the course of the past two months, I have experienced five different countries’ cultures, with the main one being Ireland’s (my host country). From food to people to work ethic, living in Ireland isn’t too different from living in the U.S., but at the same time, the differences are very noticeable. Here’s what I’ve seen from my time living in Ireland.

You have time to relax in Ireland. The Irish are known for being very relaxed and happy people. This is because they actually give their citizens breaks, whether it be in work, in school or in general. There is so much time in Ireland because they’re never in a rush; in fact, most are always late. This isn’t rude and it’s actually expected. Because there’s so much free time in their lives, being late doesn’t deter anything, and even professors don’t mind when students are late, as long as they show up. Compared to America, the Irish live life slower, more genuine, and all their work is completed with quality – because they actually give themselves time to do everything correctly. This is the number one thing I have had to adjust to coming here because I was used to always being in a rush and always having one million and one things to do, but now I see that the Irish are doing it right.

Irish people love people. There’s a reason why Irish culture is so attractive to outsiders: there’s a unity throughout this small island. With a whopping population of approximately four million, Ireland is a pretty small country, resulting in everyone pretty much knowing everyone from their towns and always being interested in people they’ve never seen before. If you’re standing on the street and someone comes up and starts telling you about their lives, don’t freak out. They’re actually interested in who you are as a person and why you’re in Ireland. This is one of my favorite things about Ireland because the people are genuinely nice and actually have the time to sit down and get to know people. This abundance of time I keep rambling about is also the reason they drink like champs – don’t try to keep up with them. The Irish will outdrink you three times over, but drinking with them is great craic anyway.

Life isn’t hard in Ireland. Reiterating my previous two points, life really isn’t hard in Ireland. The only thing they’re worried about is not being called English and whether the Guinness is fresh and not from the bottom of the barrel. People are kind and almost everyone you talk to will become a friend or at least a helping hand (and most of the time they’ll come up to you first). Work is done efficiently in order to avoid mistakes and to complete it sooner so you can enjoy life (they work to live as opposed to America’s live to work mentality). Family almost always comes first, and most college students actually go home on the weekends to spend time with theirs (considering the furthest they would have to travel is only three and a half hours, it’s really no big deal). Overall, the Irish live a slow-paced, happy life and getting sucked into this lifestyle is the best thing that could have ever happened to me.

While it may seem I’m biased towards Ireland (I am), America still has good qualities. However, in my opinion, the way of life in Ireland is better than in America and it’s an experience I wish everyone could enjoy. The Irish really are one of a kind and I’m proud to have ancestors from such a beautiful and wonderful country. From the landscapes to the culture to the atmosphere, this tiny island is truly a wonder.

(SPRING FEVER) What’s in for 2019 fashion

2019 is the year for all different types of patterns. Paris Fashion Week 2019 gave us the fall predictions for this year, yet most of the designs reflected the streetwear happening this season. Thanks to Emma Chamberlain and other influencers (but mainly Emma), we are likely to see a rise in the Californian-style that Urban Outfitters and PacSun have been pushing since the beginning of time.

Faux Shearling Jackets

This is the biggest one. This trend has really taken off since Emma’s rise to fame and has now been adopted by many other celebrities, like Selena Gomez and Kylie Jenner. Even though the warmer months are approaching, there are multiple styles of this jacket, ranging from button up to pullover, making it perfect for those chillier spring nights.

Checked Patterns

Plaid and checked patterns have never really gone out of style, but with the rise in Glen Plaid pants, the patterns are in – specifically in pant form. Everyone is obsessed with pants this season, experimenting with flare, wide-cut and mom/boyfriend styles to really amp their style. While a lot of times the go-to fabric is jean, a lot more people have been feeling the checked print to add that extra oomph to their outfits. I have to admit, it’s one of my favorite trends. Everyone looks so stylish.

 

Animal Prints

Animal prints come and go, but this season, we’ve seen a resurgence in cheetah print. Because of this, zebra print has also wiggled its way back into our wardrobes. But hey, don’t leave out snake print! Apparently, to go with our checked pants, we want to look like a zoo. Despite how harsh that sounds, I actually love it. The prints are perfect for going out or just making a plain outfit pop. While animal print shirts and dresses are the most popular in this trend, don’t overlook the snake print boots or animal print belts. They do just as much to your outfit and are good for those who like to be subtler with their style.

Neon

Spring always calls for neon, so of course, Forever 21 is running with it. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, though. In fact, it’s no longer as tacky as we remember it in middle school. Probably because the Kardashians have made us think it’s not tacky and we’ll look back in a couple years and cringe, but for right now, we’re running with it. Spring is bright and so is neon, so it’s like they’re the perfect pair. It also makes your outfits that much more fun. Experiment this spring and try adding neon into your wardrobe. It might make you feel good.

Of course, these are only some of the trends spring is likely to see. There are so many more, especially with accessories and shoes, but I just wanted to cover the most popular that I see right now. My advice is to try to incorporate one or more of these into your spring wardrobe, especially those you would never usually wear. Fashion is fun and should make you feel good, so step out of your comfort zone and maybe find the style you never knew you needed!

(SPRING FEVER) Spring music recommendations

Spring is the time for new beginnings and fresh starts, bringing warmer weather and beautiful flowers to give us all the nature feels. Not only does the earth give our senses an absolute overload, but many people turn more to art during this season due to the influx of beauty. This is my list of recommendations to listen to this spring, combining both new and old albums and songs to give you a truly ethereal season.

Wasteland, Baby! – Hozier

Hozier’s recently released album gives us all the swamp-lord vibes we consistently receive from him. His infusion of choirs and elongated notes make for a perfect springtime album that makes you feel like you need to be dancing in a muddy field barefoot in the late spring evening. I don’t make the rules, Hozier does. His voice is perfect for an emotional outburst of any sort, pairing it with the birth of springtime even more so. You too will feel as if you’re blossoming when you listen to this beautiful album.

wish you were gay – Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish is one of my all-time favorite artists, so it’s really no surprise she made it onto this list. Her newest single, “wish you were gay,” has the perfect amount of softness mixed with synthetic beats to make a spring day that much brighter. Perhaps you listen to this with your morning coffee, or maybe when you’re lying under a freshly green tree. No matter where you listen to it, I am convinced you will love it.

All information courtesy of Darkroom/Interscope Records

Wake Me – Message to Bears

This is the epitome of springtime. An instrumental song that samples different animal sounds in the background is certain to make your spring morning that much more authentic. Grab a nice cup of coffee or tea and sit outside on a nice day, watching the world as this song plays in the background. I am positive you will feel like you are a part of spring; like spring is probably growing out of you. You are the captain now.

Needs – Verzache

An overall feel-good song. I guarantee your first listen you will be bopping along to this addictive jam. Not only does it make you feel good and want to dance, but it’s a great song for a nice spring day to get you in a happy mood. Grab some friends, put this on and dance your heart out. You won’t regret it.

Everytime You Go – Broods

On the more electric side, this song will also make you want to dance. Although the lyrics are kind of sad, the beat is electrifying. This is probably better suited for the multitude of rainy days spring always has to offer, but honestly, this song could work in any mood. It’s versatile, making it THAT much better.

Pat 1 Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Foals

Alternative music is my JAM. Being my favorite genre, I love the infusion of rock mixed with experimentalism that Foals consistently utilizes. They’re a band that always finds their way into my library. Their newest album is perfect for those spring drives with your friends as the weather finally gets warmer, leading into the highly anticipated summer months. They make music that is fun and that you can sing and dance to. Roll down the windows and let this album play at full volume for a spring/summer you won’t forget.

All information courtesy of Warner Music UK

Give these a listen to see if any suit your musical preferences. If they don’t, that’s okay; I tried my best. I’ll still be jamming out to them this upcoming spring.

Getting sick while abroad

First of all, being sick in itself sucks. Especially when you have a fever/common cold combination. But being sick abroad might be slightly worse. You don’t have your normal medicine, a ready doctor or even your mom (or maybe you do; I just didn’t).

A couple weeks ago, I developed a fever as I ate dinner and woke up feeling worse. So much worse, my roommate had to go to the pharmacy for me to get my other roommate (who also felt the same) and me medicine and other essentials to get us feeling better. Considering Ireland doesn’t have the same medications America does, she had to show the pharmacist pictures and hope for the best, and thankfully, they worked. However, it was a pain to be sick in Ireland without the normal things I have to make myself better. If you happen to get sick abroad, here are some tips I found helpful.

  1. Ibuprofen really does work. If you feel a fever coming on, take three to four Ibuprofen right away. Not only do the pills help headaches, but they act as a fever remedy as well. If you don’t have Ibuprofen, Advil works just as well.
  2. Find a pharmacy or, depending on the severity, a GP or Red Cross. Americans abroad have it easier than they think when they fall sick. Find any Red Cross and they will help you when you’re sick, or if you have international insurance, find a GP (General Practitioner) in Ireland. However, you can always find a pharmacy within close proximity. Just Google one near you and show up, and like my roommate did, it’s helpful to show the pharmacists pictures of what you need so they can find you the equivalent.
  3. Forget about FOMO. While studying abroad, FOMO is real. Even when I’m exhausted, I talk myself into doing things for fear of missing out. When you’re sick, though, you have to rest or else you won’t get better and only miss out on so much more. Do what’s necessary to take care of your health and rest as much as possible. This will ensure that you have a speedy recovery and are good to go in no time. It only took me three days to recover because of how much I rested.
  4. Call your mom. Even if she can’t be there physically, she can comfort you over the phone or Facetime. Trust me, this is worth it.

These are just a few tips to help you when you aren’t feeling your best while abroad. Of course, depending on the illness, follow the necessary steps to ensure you are getting healthier. If that means checking into a hospital, so be it. It’s better to be sick for a week rather than miserable the entire time you’re abroad. Remember to always get enough rest, eat healthy and drink enough water – even when you’re not sick. This will prevent future illnesses, like common colds or fevers, from infiltrating on your wonderful experience abroad. Do what’s best for you and always look out for yourself.

Movie Review: “If Beale Street Could Talk”

As an avid YouTube viewer, many of the videos I have recently watched were preceded by the ambient and moody trailer for the movie “If Beale Street Could Talk.” It could have been the drama, the cinematography or even the soulful singing of “Killing Me Softly With His Song” by Fugees playing in the background that initially grabbed my attention, but I knew after seeing the preview twice that I needed to see this movie. So, I sent the link to my roommate and we decided immediately to go to the first showtime that worked for both of us.

The film, directed by Barry Jenkins, was not what I expected. Of course, trailers usually contrast the actual film, but this contrast was too big for my liking. I was expecting drama and tears and scenes that made my heart race, but what I received was a two-hour movie that moved too slow and focused too much on aesthetics than the actual plot. Even though the plot was interesting and the actors were truly remarkable, a lot of the time the movie was moving so slow that I had no idea where it was going to go next. With that being said, it was not an awful film.

Set in Harlem in the 1970s, the overuse of aestheticism and cinematography gave me the sense that I could be there with Tish Rivers (KiKi Layne) and Fonny Hunt (Stephan James), the main characters, if I had lived in NYC in the ‘70s. The chemistry between the two was impeccable; I really felt the emotion emitted them. Tish and Fonny captured my heart and made me sympathize for their situation: a young couple who grew up together, fell in love and then were forced to face the challenge of Fonny being wrongfully accused of raping a woman while Tish discovered she was pregnant with their first child. The movie moved through Fonny’s jail time and Tish’s pregnancy simultaneously, showing her struggle to get him out while also relying on her parents’ help, and also included flashbacks of their relationship, showing them falling in love and being in love before the arrest. Layne and James definitely produced emotional performances, but in my opinion, the actress who stole the show was Regina King, who played Tish’s mother Sharon Rivers.

Having loved Regina King since she was in “A Cinderella Story” with Hilary Duff, it was no surprise to me that she was the one who stole the show. Her performance was so natural, I felt like I wasn’t watching her act, but rather actually watching Sharon deal with the impossibilities she faced. Simultaneously, I felt that the scenes she was in moved by at a normal movie pace compared to the snail-like pace of Tish and Fonny’s scenes, leaving me only wanting more from King. She gave her character sass, confidence and immense courage, doing everything she could to help her son-in-law whom she viewed as a son of her own. If I were to redirect this movie, I would demand more screen-time for King.

Like I said, this movie was not terrible, it just wasn’t what I was expecting it to be. If it had moved quicker, I probably wouldn’t have any problems with it – besides the ending. I knew what happened was going to happen, I just didn’t want it to. I wanted a happy ending for these characters who endured far too much pain throughout the entire film, and although it wasn’t a sad ending, it just wasn’t ideal. However, it was necessary to get the overall message across: the unfair treatment of blacks in America at the hands of cops. The narrative of this movie really highlighted the ethos side of the Black vs. Cop war in America, giving you an insight on how people deal with it in a normal life, behind closed doors. Just that alone is the reason I promote this movie; to let people experience the pain institutionalized racism produces. Add in the random appearances of Finn Wittrock and Dave Franco — which genuinely confused me but nevertheless delighted me — that made this movie worth seeing, despite my near-negative review. All in all, I give “If Beale Street Could Talk” a 7 out of 10.

Traveling alone

One of the biggest worries people have about traveling is whether or not they have to do it alone. In fact, a lot of people prefer not to travel if they don’t have a companion. I, however, prefer to travel alone. I like to do things on my time, on my schedule. Not that I won’t travel with others, because that’s the way I travel mostly, but there’s something so liberating about traveling alone. Despite the feeling of freedom I get from solo travel, I know it’s nerve-wracking for many, so I’m here to give you some tips for a more comfortable solo experience.

Make sure you have everything you need on hand.

If you’re already nervous to travel alone, prevent the most common stressor beforehand: have your boarding pass and license/passport out when you arrive. I choose to check-in to my flights the night before and download my boarding pass to my iPhone. This alone is easier in my opinion. When you arrive to the airport, put your license/passport either in your pocket or keep it in your hand before going through security. Having both of these readily available prevents the stressful situation of having to rummage around in front of a TSA agent, holding up the line behind you.

Ask for help.

If you don’t know where something is, ask for help! Don’t talk yourself out of it because of embarrassment; the people working in the airport are there to help. You can also ask other travelers — and this one really shouldn’t scare you. Sometimes they don’t know the answer, but sometimes they do, especially when it comes to baggage claim. And if you’re too afraid to ask, following people can come in handy in some situations (like going to baggage claim when you don’t know which concourse your bag will be on, not to their hotel).

During long layovers, find familiarity.

My favorite place to relax is a coffee shop. Most of the time when I’m home, you can either find me at a local café or in my bed. When I’m at the airport and I have a long layover, I always search for a coffee shop. The sense of familiarity eases my travel worries and also calms me down after a day of travel. In a place that is utterly unfamiliar, it is my sense of comfort. Finding spots like this can greatly help reduce travel anxiety, acting as almost a comfort blanket.

Remember, you’re not the only solo traveler.

If you feel embarrassed or anxious, even if it’s for no reason other than being a solo traveler, just take some deep breaths and remember: you’re not the only person traveling alone. There are many other solo travelers every day at the airport who are just going on with their day, and some might feel the same as you. Just do what’s best for you and what feels comfortable and don’t worry about them — because they’re not worrying about you.

These are just some of many things you can do as a solo traveler to ease any kind of anxiety you may have about traveling alone. Even if you don’t find it scary, these can still help on a long day of travel as a way to get you through the day.

BOOK REVIEW: “Althea & Oliver” by Cristina Moracho

There’s always that one book I find at the bookstore that I expect to be great because of the synopsis and/or overall look of the book. (I know; those are never accurate prerequisites when choosing a novel to read.) However, lately, I’ve been choosing the wrong books. Ones that seem to be great, and most of the time have good reviews, but in the end just aren’t. Some are actually terrible, but others are simply not good, like “Althea & Oliver” by Cristina Moracho.

Set in the 1990s in Wilmington, NC and later NYC, Moracho’s first ever novel follows high school juniors Althea Carter and Oliver McKinley as they deal with the impossibilities life throws at them while still trying to hold on to the parts of each other that they have known their whole lives – plus navigate the end of high school and college. Having been introduced at six-years-old when Oliver’s single mother desperately needed a babysitter and knocked on Althea’s single father’s door searching for a last minute attempt, the two instantly connected and were conjoined at the hip ever since. However, during their junior year, Oliver develops Kleine-Levin Syndrome, turning both of their worlds upside down. While he has to deal with the frustrations and heartbreak of a syndrome that makes him sleep for several weeks to several months straight, only waking up to use the bathroom, eat, or become a deranged version of himself, Althea has to deal with finding the version of herself that isn’t just the other half of Oliver.

While the synopsis of the plot is really what drew me in, the novel itself was too clipped. Clipped meaning it was too under-detailed and choppy in transition. In one chapter, Oliver is falling asleep while Althea helps him inside while the next chapter is her smoking cigarettes with her blonde hair dyed black. Where were the in-between moments? Althea was fine, and then suddenly she was part delinquent. It didn’t make the story flow badly and there were more details than what I just listed, but it sometimes was confusing and made Althea out to be this crazy, dramatic best friend who was not only in love with Oliver, but weirdly obsessed with him too. The only reason this put me off was because Oliver was in no way described as being the same way. Sure, he loved Althea, but he handled it, in my opinion, normally. She went buck-wild.

For being a first novel, I have to give Moracho credit. Writing books is not easy, and this book didn’t completely suck, it just wasn’t my favorite. I can see why it has a decent rating on Goodreads, and I am probably being a little too critical considering I did genuinely enjoy reading their adventures in NYC (you know, after Oliver went to a clinic to be treated for KLS and then Althea lied to her father and drove her car all the way there at seventeen and randomly found twenty-year-old hippie/hipsters to take her in while she waited for Oliver to wake up), but the overall story was too simple. The only reason I say that is because it seemed like Moracho was trying to create a reality that people could relate to – I mean, she included major highways and specific locations like Alphabet City in Manhattan – but it was too unrealistic. I genuinely don’t know a single parent who would let their seventeen-year-old daughter drive all the way to New Mexico from Wilmington, North Carolina to visit their estranged mother, and then allow her to stay in New York City with complete strangers after a month of her lying about her whereabouts. Also, I know Althea had a hard time with Oliver’s diagnosis considering they were conjoined at the hip and then suddenly not for months on end, but she took it worse than he did. I understand illnesses like that are sometimes harder for the people around them, but she turned it into something about herself. If that’s the way to find yourself, I don’t like it.

Overall, I give “Althea & Oliver” a four out of ten. Moracho’s writing was easy to follow and gave enough details for me to picture what was happening with ease, but the actual happenings of the novel were too unrealistic when they didn’t have to be. I know it’s a fiction novel, but sometimes it was too outrageous. However, the novel is a good read when looking for something light with a little bit of romance and a whole lot of drama. But they weren’t true Geminis, no matter how many times Moracho tried to get that point across. Maybe Althea (I think Leo or Scorpio fits her better), but definitely not the obviously Aquarius Oliver. Sorry, not sorry.

4/10

The art of minimalism

Courtesy of Pixabay

Have you ever walked into your bedroom and felt like you were hit with the clutter and messiness that has consumed it? Sometimes, instead of cleaning, you wish you could just throw all your belongings away, but when it comes down to it, you would never be able to. Each belonging has some sort of sentimental value. Yes, even the seashell your ex-boyfriend from the 4th grade got you from his summer vacation trip. It’s personal. Maybe a little cracked and dusty, but nevertheless personal.

This is where minimalism comes in to tell you that not everything is personal, and that’s a fact. Yes, even the 4th grade ex-boyfriend seashell. Throw it away. If an item just collects dust, forgotten time and time again until your eyes accidentally graze over it and you think: “Wow! I remember that!” it is safe to say the item is no longer needed. If it doesn’t match your color scheme or your feng-shui, throw it away. If you really, really can’t throw things away, put them in a storage bin in your closet or under your bed.

Minimalism is basically the decluttering of your living space, which could eventually lead to the decluttering of your life. (Or not, but we can dream.) It’s the room you walk into that is aesthetically pleasing with just enough things to add that personal touch. There’s a bed, a dresser, a desk and sometimes a side table and/or bookshelf. There are just enough pillows and usually one or two picture frames displayed on the dresser. The desk has just enough office supplies, and if there’s a bookshelf, the books are neatly lined. The side table usually has a lamp, a book and a candle. Throughout the room will be “scattered” memorabilia (in a real minimalistic room, nothing is scattered, even if it looks like it) and the walls have at most three posters. There may be a floor lamp and a rug, but they are neutral colors. In fact, most minimalistic rooms are neutral with one color accent to give the space that necessary POP. There will always be twinkle lights, don’t worry. If there aren’t twinkle lights or some sort of artistic light exposure, the room is still in process.

Courtesy of Pixabay

All that I just listed may seem like a lot, but nothing in minimalism ever is. It’s not expensive, either. As a college student and a fan of the minimalism trend, when I moved into my first apartment, I knew I wanted to model my bedroom like such. I admit, I have clutter in my room, but I’m also a college student with five thousand textbooks and three million papers/notebooks. Besides my school stuff, I really do not have that many trinkets or gadgets.

My bed has four pillows, a throw pillow, and a throw blanket. Above it is a framed poster that says “PARIS” in red letters. Next to the poster is another French poster of a man and a woman dancing. Under them is my side table that holds a lamp, a vintage clock, a candle and a book. My bookshelf next to my side table has my perfume bottles, necklace holder, picture frame and two fake plants on top. My bookshelf is neatly lined, and the only things on the top shelf are my newspapers and a painting my roommate gave me for my birthday. I have a black floor lamp, a gray area rug, and my desk is a table from IKEA. My desk is cluttered, so let’s not talk about it. All of that makes for my very gray, white, and black minimalistic bedroom.

Minimalism is easy. I did it on a budget and my room still feels cozy despite the lack of excessive personal items. To create a minimalistic bedroom, you don’t need to immediately throw everything away. Try storage bins first, and leave the necessary or matching items out on display. Minimalism may look simple, but in order to maintain the coziness of a bedroom, you always need to keep it personal. Remember: colors (or lack of) make a difference, and less is always more. Whoever told you more is more lied. Live simply, live minimal. It will change you.

An introduction to the moon signs

Zodiac shmodiac. Is it even real? Actually, it’s more real than you think. While not entirely to blame for all the mishaps of life or the negative quirks in your character, the Zodiac signs you were born under influence a lot more than what is consciously recognized. For example, your moon sign influences the way you think and feel as well as your intuition. This sign is especially important when dealing with said mishaps, for it gives you an understanding on why you react and deal with it the way you do. Look at it as an insight to your emotional side. Here’s a description of each sign under the moon.

Aries

The Ram in the moon is impatient, finding everything to not happen fast enough. Their constant state of emergency makes it hard for them to wait for life to happen, emphasizing their fiery inner passion. These lunar signs have a desire for activity and will waste no time when it comes to getting what they want instantly, especially when it comes to romance. Because their needs and wants are undefined to them, many lunar Arians have many short-lived romances and secretly love being surrounded by trouble. Despite their aggressiveness, they tend to be very defensive people. The difference between lunar Arians and Cancers are that, when upset, Arians lash out while Cancers retreat. Although their fire burns, many people appreciate lunar Arians’ ability to be straight-forward, even if you sometimes feel you can never keep up with them.

Taurus

Lunar Taureans thrive in familiarity. Due to their earthy nature, they tend to be rooted in their ways and feel safe in comfortable foundations. Don’t try to push these people to do something because they’ll just ignore you. However, there is a steadiness when it comes to those under lunar Taurus, and those around them feel their comforting nature. They tend to stay away from “messy” emotions and situations and are very romantic beings. They are sentimental and warm; their affections are strong, and because Taurus is a fixed sign, the likelihood of a break-up is slim. Anything a lunar Taurean decides will be safe to them, making them very reliable people. These people are loyal yet fiercely stubborn and falter when their routine is interrupted, so don’t try to surprise them. They love the good things in life.

Gemini

Have you ever met someone who is utterly charming yet emotionally detached? They were probably a lunar Gemini. To the public, they are pleasant and interesting, but at home, they can be irritable and moody at times. They are comfortable talking about feelings, but feeling their feelings is hard for them. Because of this, they come off as detached, but really, they just feel misunderstood. When confronted with a problem, lunar Geminis are known to talk it out immediately. These people are plagued with nervousness and restlessness, making them prone to reading, talking and thinking a lot — maybe sometimes too much. They have a way with words and are generally adaptable and open to new ideas. Lunar Geminis strive when they have plenty of things to do and love home improvement, even if they don’t necessarily like housework, they just need an outlet for their unending imagination. Their need to do a million and one things, however, causes them to find trouble at sticking to one thing.

Cancer

The moon happens to be the natural ruler of Cancer, so those born with this lunar sign are able to truly understand the feelings and emotions of others. These people have immaculate memories and are very clingy in every aspect of their life, seeking familiarity and comfort in all things. They are peace-loving, accommodating and dwellers. Their insecurity in confronting others leads them to use indirect ways to garner attention, which many feel is them usually beating a dead horse, but they just want to get you to understand how they feel. Since they are ruled by the watery moon, their moodiness can be surprising since they tend to be irrational. Despite this, they will always take care of you, even if they are being crabby.

Leo

Those who know some about Zodiac signs are familiar with the outgoing Leo. However, lunar Leos are the complete opposite. They only seek attention when they feel comfortable, more specifically with family or friends. Those born with this lunar sign have a need to organize and control, making them the overseers of everyone in their group. Because of this, don’t change plans at the last minute. They need time to adjust their schedules. They can come off as bossy at times, but they have a deep desire to treat others fairly and justly. Lunar Leos love the idea of creating and entertaining but can be rather lazy. They also require a lot of love, and when their pride has been hurt, they will sulk dramatically. Not in public, though, because they can’t make a scene. Their integrity and dignity won’t allow them.

Virgo

Like many of the previous signs, lunar Virgos search for security, only this time it’s in the little things in life. Many love the mundane errands of everyday, like paying bills and balancing the books, because they feel most content when life feels straightened out. Although they are prone to nagging and complaining, lunar Virgos love taking care of things and people. They feel best when they are needed and useful, being the first to offer help to those in need. Lunar Virgos are content with regular lives and reject attention due to their ability to become overwhelmed easily when there is too much to think about. These people need a steady routine and a hobby where they can analyze, attend to details and micromanage. When it comes to relationships, lunar Virgos shy away from gushy displays of affection. They are shy, self-effacing and kind, and when they come out of their shell, they have a lot to give.

Libra

The co-dependent Libra; those with their moon sign in Libra need partnership and feel incomplete without people to share their lives with. Lunar Librans are sympathetic, sharing, social and most likely to get married young. Their partnerships give them strength and reinforcement. Lunar Librans are charming and flirtatious, winning the hearts of others in gentle ways. However, when it comes to flaws, people with in this sign are nit picky and stubborn. Anything flawed will bother them until fixed, and in arguments, they always have to have the last say, making them great lawyers. People in this sign will always love and defend others, even if they are stubborn.

Scorpio

Give a lunar Scorpio emotional intensity and they are set for life. These people are intense, seeking out the core of everyone they meet to be able to see what’s hidden inside. Because of their need for dramatic emotions, their lives can seem like a lot of up and downs, but to the lunar Scorpio, it’s merely transformation and rebirth. They tend to stir up emotional excitement and seek out intense experiences, going into everything with the mindset “all or nothing.” Lunar Scorpios have a strong fear of betrayal and challenge their partners with love tests, expecting the other to give up something for them. Once they are committed, lunar Scorpios are the most loyal and protective partners around. These people radiate strength and have the ability to size up situations and people quickly, satisfying their need to understand human motivation and nature. Intelligent and intimate, lunar Scorpios make for rewarding friends and lovers.

Sagittarius

Similar to the sun in Sagittarius, those with their moon in Sagittarius need personal freedom and space. If they have both, they are happy and easygoing. Their love for open spaces extends to their need for travel. They love meeting new people and going out in the world, using their optimism to help inspire others. Some may consider lunar Sagittarians to be irresponsible, but it’s only their dislike for mundane routines. Lunar Sagittarians enjoy friendly competition, but when life becomes too much, they tend to run away. They will always come back though, they just needed to take a break. Their need for freedom gives them the mindset that everything will work out, especially since everything they do is generally on a whim. These people are lovers of truth, new experiences and mind-expanding ideas.

Capricorn

The competent Capricorn should be the nickname for people with this moon sign. These people keep their emotions under check, and if they are experiencing a tornado under the surface, they will always keep a calm composure. This, along with their usefulness and productiveness, makes them come across as steady, reliable people. Clear boundaries and realistic goals are a must for these traditional people. They respect authority and seek safety and security in most everything. Mood swings can occur, but for the most part, their collected nature makes them scared of people with turbulent emotions. Although they come off as level-headed, lunar Capricorns experience emotions like the rest of us, they’re just better at hiding it. These people crave respect and feeling worthwhile. They also put a lot of value into real, tangible things, like money and realistic goals. Lunar Capricorns are well-managed and like to live a structured life.

Aquarius

Why do people do what they do? This is what lunar Aquarians want to know most. Being extremely observant people, they tend to come off as shy or detached, although they can be very sociable. They strive for uniqueness and often feel different from others. These people are admired for their idealism and ability to put themselves above jealousy and possessiveness. They are fiercely independent and are generally proud of their family. Young lunar Aquarians are prone to temper tantrums, but as they grow older, they outgrow “messy” emotions and pride themselves on their level-headedness, even if it may come off as detached to others. Lunar Aquarians give those they love copious amounts of personal freedom and are very tolerant people, making them good humanitarians. They are constant, trustworthy and loyal, making for amazing friends since they refuse to leave anybody out. Lunar Aquarians are charming yet stubborn, and when they feel their pride has been attacked or are being criticized, they will hide their sensitivity and probably end the relationship.

Pisces

Dreamy lunar Pisces seems to never be in touch with reality, but that’s not a bad thing! They need time to daydream or else they become overwhelmed with life. They are intuitive and find ease at putting themselves in other people’s shoes, even though they sometimes lose themselves in the suffering of others. Lunar Pisceans are perceptive and a bit odd, always laughing and making others laugh. Soft-hearted and sweet, these people are touched by human suffering and are suckers for sob stories. However, they have an apt ability to discern between sincerity and manipulation. They may come across as absent-minded, but they are anything but weak. They are compassionate and seem to understand things even if they have never experienced it, making them brilliant actors/actresses. When they retreat to recharge, you can often find them drawing, writing and making/listening to music. They love emotion and the ability to share it with the world.

To find out your moon sign, go to https://astro.cafeastrology.com/natal.php.

Photo via NASA Astrobiology

Poll your weight: why you should vote and what you can vote for

Election time tends to turn the nation into a violent atmosphere yet just as much an exciting one. Most Americans only focus on the Presidential Election, but the midterm elections are actually more important. Midterm elections consist of voting for your state Senators and Representatives, also known as the people who you have a direct voice towards who can benefit you when it comes to the workings of the government. Everyone gets so caught up in the theater that presidential elections have become that the importance of Congress gets buried beneath it all, making midterms “just another election.” But now is the time for action; if you want change, you need to vote. Congress has always been more important than the President when it comes to enacting change, so it is important to vote for those who share your values and who you truly believe will get shit done, especially when it comes to the five amendments proposed for North Carolina.

For those who are unaware, on North Carolina’s ballot for this midterm election, citizens will be able to vote for or against six North Carolina constitutional amendments pertaining to a variety of issues that have created great divide between North Carolina’s political parties. The amendment that most people are really focusing on is a requirement to show a photo ID when voting. This was found unconstitutional in the 2016 elections, so the fact that the NC GOP is trying to bring it back is beyond me. Not only is this discriminatory, but it creates barriers to voter participation by targeting minorities who may not have access to photo IDs. The fear that voter fraud is more likely without a photo ID is false considering the amount of voter frauds in 2016’s election was documented at four, so this proposed amendment is unnecessary and a way to further take away voter rights.

Another amendment proposed deals with income tax cap, which will lower North Carolina’s maximum possible rate from 10 to seven. The state’s current income tax rate is at 5.499 percent, and the News & Observer assures this number will not change, no matter the voting outcome. However, there is still fear for those who could be negatively affected by this income tax limitation, such as public school teachers. Those against income tax find this proposal to be a step forward, however, many people from poorer counties throughout the state fear for their schools and children’s education. By capping income tax, the likelihood that public schools — most of whom are already in poor conditions — would lose even more funding is real and scary. If our education crumbles, so will everything else.

Moving from that amendment, the third amendment proposed contains changes to North Carolina’s election board. As of currently, the board has four Democrats, four Republicans, and one unaffiliated person of whom the amendment is targeting. This amendment is for the removal of the unaffiliated member in order to leave the board equally split and free from a tiebreaker. Because of this, the governor will no longer be able to choose the members on the election board as that power will be transferred to the Legislature. This amendment not only instills a party divide in our state but also threatens for important legislation to possibly never be passed due to an indecisive vote. With only eight members, those voting against important legislation, like public school issues and rights, could potentially be blocked.

If you thought any of those three amendments were threatening, the fourth amendment proposed concerns judicial appointments and is even more frightening. In this amendment, the power to appoint judges will be taken from the governor and changed to a list of appointees presented to the governor from the state Legislature as well as, in other cases, given to the chief justice of the Supreme Court. As someone who identifies as more center when it comes to politics, I have to judge the GOP when it comes to this amendment. It’s public knowledge that the Republicans stray away from government power and focus more on state rights, but does this not directly contradict that? While the power will be shifted to North Carolina leaders in Legislature or the Supreme Court, that still takes away from North Carolina’s elected Governor to make direct decisions. Why elect a governor if you are going to give the North Carolina representatives working in D.C. the authority over major decisions? I personally would rather someone who is in North Carolina to make our decisions, despite the Legislature’s allegiance to our state, making this is a direct attack on Governor Cooper.

The final two amendments do not hold as much momentum as the previously mentioned four, but they are still important nonetheless. Marsy’s law, an amendment that would give more rights to crime victims, is the only amendment I have yet to find a major flaw in. While I see the controversial nature of this amendment, I am not educated enough on crime rights and the proceedings of the judicial. The hunting and fishing amendment proposed will actually make no changes to North Carolina law; its sole purpose is to reel in a particular voting demographic. Since all of the amendments align with the right, hunting and fishing is a tactic used by the GOP to grab the attention of many Republicans, ensuring they are at the polls voting for all six. It is up to you to decide which you will vote for, and it is up to you to make it to the polls. DO NOT SKIMP OUT. This is more important than you think, and just because America’s political climate is seemingly dangerous and threatening, fight for your beliefs and vote for who you want to enact change to your state, your HOME.

The sun signs

Have you ever wondered how Zodiac signs actually pertain to who you are and how they affect the way you react to the happenings of life? Well, here’s a guide to how your sun sign, the most widely known sign of the Zodiacs, contributes to who you are in regards to your style and life purpose — whether you choose to believe in it or not.

Photo by Pixabay

Aries (March 21-April 19)

The first sign of the Zodiac is the fiery, energetic Ram, most compatible with Sagittarians. Those who were born with the sun in Aries are independent, impatient and impulsive. They are generally competitive and passionate. Keeping up with an Aries may seem like a task in itself; it’s like keeping up with a baby, which is what Aries are in the astrology world. Don’t let this discourage you, they keep you on your toes in a charming and thrilling way. An Aries’ purpose is to learn more about themselves and to become more courageous. Famous Aries include James Franco, Thomas Jefferson and Lady Gaga.

 

Taurus (April 20-May 20)

The dependable and stubborn Bull, those born under the sun in Taurus are smart and trustworthy. Sometimes referred to as the “anchor of the signs,” Taureans love comfort, honesty and security, making them great partners and friends. They are very sensual and discover the world through their senses, whether it be through food, entertainment or sex. A Taurean’s purpose is to create strong relationships with those they meet in their life, especially with Cancers and Virgos, making this stabilizing factor the reason they are the Zodiac anchor. Famous Taureans include Adele, Cam Newton and Audrey Hepburn.

 

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

One of the more controversial signs, Geminis aren’t always the two-faced people they are perceived to be in social media. Symbolized by the Twins, Castor and Pollux, the reason those under this sign are more scrutinized is because of the Twins being known to have two different sides they display to the world. But this isn’t always negative! In fact, it refers more to their ability to adopt the moods of those that surround them. They are loyal and emotional, but will voice their opinions and sometimes are perceived of having a scattered and nervous energy. Geminis are restless and enjoy stimulating conversations, becoming bored easily if things begin to move slow. They are most compatible with Aries and Leos. A Geminis purpose is to bring people together in the same way Castor and Pollux were brought together, reflecting on their chameleon-like abilities. Famous Geminis include Kendrick Lamar, Angelina Jolie and Natalie Portman.

 

Cancer (June 21-July 22)

The emotional Crab, Cancers are the sign to most likely start crying at any small inconvenience. This doesn’t mean they are weak, it shows they are very passionate and caring. They are sometimes thought to be too loyal to those they love, expecting the same in return and often being disappointed. However, this doesn’t discourage them, but rather teaches those around them to be as passionate as Cancers. They are also intuitive and intelligent, often needing creative outlets to unveil the inner workings of their imaginative thinking. A Gemini is most compatible with Taureans and Pisceans, and their purpose in life is to show everyone and everything that it is worthy of love. Famous Cancers include Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez and Luke Bryan.

 

Leo (July 23-August 22)

The prideful Leo Lion. Those with their sun in Leo are outgoing, bold and warm, the latter pertaining to the element of fire that Leo falls under, just like Aries. In contrast to Aries, Leos are able to make friendships along their ambitious pursuits while Aries accumulate admirers along theirs. A Leo’s ease in making friendships is stemmed from their grand gestures, attentiveness and friendliness to everyone they encounter. There is even a sense of regality when it comes to Leos. There is a reason a lion is the leader of the pact, and it’s the same reason the lion symbolizes Leos. They are most compatible with Libras, and their life purpose is to shine by being known. Famous Leos include Barack Obama, Jennifer Lawrence and Madonna.

 

Virgo (August 23-September 22)

It seems ironic that Virgos are called “virgins” when being made-fun of, but The Virgin happens to be the symbol for this graceful sign. Virgos tend to be sophisticated and kind people, making for excellent friends for life. They are intelligent and inspired by beauty, sometimes coming off as shy at first due to their need to be able to see the inner life of everyone they encounter, even themselves. Virgos also tend to be nit-picky and clean freaks, but that just creates more beauty in the Virgo’s eye. They also have a sarcastic sense of humor and are very concerned with how they are perceived by others, vying for the respect from others that they effortlessly give. Virgos are most compatible with emotional Cancers, and famous Virgos include Beyoncé, Blake Lively and Prince Harry. A Virgo’s purpose in life is to make sure the world keeps keeping on.

 

Libra (September 23-October 22)

The Scales are the symbols for Libra and they are respectively accurate. Librans value harmony, which is easy to see in the contrast between their love for intelligence and their tendency to be perceived as spacey. Their daydreaming, however, is what makes them successful. Librans can take anything imagined and make it a reality. Librans are very peace-loving people and can connect with almost anyone. A Libran’s best quality could arguably be their ability to compare and think in relative terms rather than in absolute terms, referring back to The Scales. A Libran’s purpose in life is to teach others good communication, and they’re most compatible with Geminis. Famous Librans include Kim Kardashian, Bruno Mars and Will Smith.

 

Scorpio (October 23-November 21)

Scorpios are the first most controversial sign in astrology. The Scorpions of Zodiac, they are first seen as intense creatures who are motivated by power. Sometimes they can be seen as manipulative since their nature is to not go out and grab what they want, but rather sit back and observe until the time is right. This isn’t necessarily negative considering a Scorpio will never give up. They are unafraid and passionate, making them seem intimidating at first. To sum up this seductive sign, horoscope.com says: “A Scorpio will be your most loyal friend, most dedicated employee–and your worst enemy, if they want to be.” Scorpios are most compatible with Cancers, and their purpose in life is to show everyone passion, whether it be towards people or just in the things you do. Famous Scorpios include Drake, Ryan Reynolds and Kris Jenner.

 

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21)

The adventurous Archers are the Sagittarians in Zodiac. They love freedom, traveling and straying from the pact. They are open-hearted and generous, but most importantly truthful. They will tell you how it really is but with only good intentions. Sagittarians love to learn and travel alone to really immerse themselves in what the world can teach them. They know what they want and won’t jeopardize that just to preserve the other person’s feelings. Sagittarians are generally easy-going and dislike a routine. A Sagittarian’s purpose is to discover and to seek the “new” in all things, and they are most compatible with Aries. Famous Sagittarians include Miley Cyrus, Chrissy Teigen and Jay-Z.

 

Capricorn (December 22-January 19)

The Capricorn, symbolized by the Goat, is usually fully in control of their destiny. They always get what they set their mind to and thrive on strict rules. They are realistic and want to do something worthwhile with their life, even enjoying the nicer things in life to show off their accomplishments (like nice clothes and expensive cars). Capricorns are known for getting things done but also for mastering humor. Their dry-sense of humor is what makes Capricorns enjoyable, along with their get-it-done personalities that extend to benefit the people in their lives. They are most compatible with Virgos, and their purpose in life is to give a meaning to friendship. Famous Capricorns include John Legend, Michelle Obama and Finn Wolfhard.

 

Aquarius (January 20-February 18)

The Water-Bearer Aquarians are clever, witty and intellectual people. They are open to change but are surprisingly stubborn and fixed in their opinions. They need space, freedom and individualism in order to strive. They have an intense love of helping others but require time alone to rejuvenate. Aquarians can come off as shy, but this is only time spent thinking about how to contribute to conversations and groups effectively. Aquarians are most compatible with Leos, and their purpose in life is to embrace the human in everyone and to show that the most important thing is to love one another. Famous Aquarians include Ellen Degeneres, Jeffrey Kopp and Ed Sheeran.

 

Pisces (February 19-March 20)

The final sign of the Zodiacs is Pisces. Pisceans, represented by The Fish, are considered the wisest of all the signs, being the oldest. They are gentle and adaptable, garnering the ability to relate to anyone yet always pining for understanding from others. They are usually sensitive to criticism and would rather spend time in their own world, wondering about life and the things it throws at Pisceans. Because of their sometimes woe-is-me attitude, Pisceans make for great poets or artists, driving off their angst and absent-mindedness. Expression is important to this sign, and their purpose in life is to show others the importance of emotional creativity. They are most compatible with Virgos, and famous Pisceans include Justin Bieber, George Washington and Kurt Cobain.

If the description of your sign doesn’t particularly relate to how you feel you are, don’t be discouraged! There are many other levels to your sign that will be published in due time. Since your sun sign is your style and purpose of life, those traits might not be as noticeable to you as other signs you were born under, such as your emotional moon sign, and if you were born on a cusp (the days before or after two signs), which is also a factor.

Book Review: ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ by Philippa Gregory

Poor Mary Boleyn. That’s all I could think as I read “The Other Boleyn Girl” by Philippa Gregory. Being a major history nerd and an even bigger Henry VIII nerd, my mom recommended this book to me to feed into both obsessions. She is a staunch Philippa Gregory fan and raves about her historical fiction a lot, claiming that although it is not 100% accurate, the story is always enchanting. As soon as she told me to read “The Other Boleyn Girl,” I picked it up and could not put it down.

I will admit, you have to love historical fiction in order to love this book. You can probably love it without loving history, but it may be much harder to get into. The book takes place during the Tudor Era (approximately 1500s England) and stays true to the styles and customs of the time. Although it is written in modern day English, the

Photo By Emily Hickey

language is still slightly different, since speech was more formal and the ideas of the time were different. However, there are many more similarities than I believed, which looking on now makes me laugh. Of course people had relationships like those of today, why wouldn’t they? History paints a big, broad picture of a time period, leaving out the topics that it deems wrong, especially when it comes to women. While Mary Boleyn was frowned upon for having an extramarital affair, it was not uncommon. And sex before marriage wasn’t uncommon either, girls just were talented at pretending they were virgins before getting married. Small details like that are different from today’s societal mindset, but people were still people, just wearing corsets and boy-tights.

Philippa Gregory, in my opinion, does a wonderful job at conveying the confusing emotions young Mary goes through. Married at 14 and having an affair with the King of England by age 15, the poor girl is still a child through it all. She is a servant to her father and whichever man she is sleeping with at the time, but Philippa Gregory doesn’t let Mary become dim because of it. That’s just how times were. Her sister on the other hand is utterly rambunctious. Everyone knows Anne Boleyn and her fiery and manipulative personality, but Gregory amplifies it to lay out the path of destruction that she paves for the Boleyn family.

Despite Mary’s young age for most of the beginning, Gregory does an excellent job at letting Mary grow up. The feelings she had as a young girl differ from those at the end of the book, feelings of a young woman who has endured hardships, death, ridicule and being taken advantage of for the sake of the Boleyn family name. Her development throughout the story is prideful, to watch a young, spineless girl turn into a wise, brave woman is the kind of thing I enjoy reading. The emotions she experienced were real emotions that produced real reactions, some juvenile, some frustrating, but in the end, it’s captivating to read how Mary handles the life she is forced to live through a real approach. Not everything is black and white for the Boleyn family, and Mary has to grow up throughout the entirety of the book. It isn’t quick and sometimes she messes up, but in the end, she discovers what she really wants with her life and the journey to get there is worth it.

Mary’s duty to rise the Boleyn family up in the kingdom takes a toll on the young girl. To be ordered around from every male in your family and to have no say would have an impact on everyone, especially those who are not Anne Boleyn. While Mary’s father and uncle caused a lot of Mary’s stress, the major stressor in her life was definitely her sister. From the start, Anne was jealous of Mary for being married first and then chosen by the King to be his mistress. It’s a sisterly feud that Mary time and time again claims was the basis for their relationship, and as the reader watches Anne blatantly walk all over Mary throughout the story, Mary goes back to this one link that keeps them together: their sisterly competition. Because of their sisterhood, they will always love one another, but because of their competition, they will always hate the other, too. This mindset stirs within the reader the more Anne uses her power to destroy Mary after the former steals Henry, for Gregory didn’t write Mary as dumb, but rather an ideal woman of the time; a woman who allows her superiors to dictate her life. Anne is everything a woman should not have been: opinionated, loud, sexual and demanding. She demanded the King’s love and then demanded he reform an entire church to prove it to her. The only brave thing Mary does is marry for love, which follows with a banishment from court due to Anne’s apparent jealousy but what she claims is disobeying the crown. Despite her banishment, she is constantly summoned back for Anne’s comfort during tumultuous times, showing that the feud is alive along with the sisterly companionship.

The relationship between Mary and Anne is one to not be envious of. Anne is cruel and selfish while Mary is kind and loving. Mary cares about the simple things in life, like love, family and farming, while Anne is only concerned with power. These contrasting lifestyles lead to an unhealthy relationship between the sisters and one that Anne abuses once she is crowned Queen of England. Some would believe her sole motive is to make Mary miserable, but I saw through her strong demeanor and only saw a weak woman who is jealous of the simplicity Mary lives by and envies the love that Mary emits and attracts. Anne wants to be everything Mary is, but instead uses her fire to light flames around herself, burning everything in the process. Mary, although fragile at the beginning, grows a tolerance to Anne’s heat, and with her newly thick skin seeks out the life she has always wanted to live: a simple one with her husband and kids on the countryside. While Anne isn’t jealous of the farm life, she is jealous of Mary taking control of her own and finding a pure and healthy love with William, something Anne would never have with Henry.

Gregory includes a lot of fiction in her story, hence why it’s called historical fiction, but it’s not without purpose. There is so much that went on that no one knows about, especially conversations between the family and the King. Gregory uses this to her advantage to create a riveting story that focuses on the other Boleyn girl, sweet Mary. Mary is usually the forgotten of the family, but she no doubt plays an important role in Henry and Anne’s relationship. Gregory also adds a lot of speculations historians have conjured over time (like Mary birthing two of the King’s kids, which I researched and found no proof of), but again, it makes the story more dramatic. And I’m a drama fiend, added to the list of my love for history and Henry VIII (who sucks in this book. Fuck you, Henry).

I would highly recommend this story if you love history, historical fiction or any previous reason I’ve listed throughout. It’s well-written, addicting and produces real-life emotions that is sometimes hard to do in novels with depth, such as this one. You will fall in love with Mary and grow to despise Anne and Henry – if you didn’t already. Gregory did an excellent job with the story and leaves you wondering where Mary will go or what she will do next, surprising you every time as she grows as a person. Character development gets an A from me, as well as the plot. I may be biased with my love for the Tudors, but this book was truly compelling and I would definitely read it again along with others by Philippa Gregory.

 

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Book Review: ‘Fangirl’ by Rainbow Rowell

I love Young Adult novels. There, I said it. I’m 20 years old and I feel giddy when I read about simplistic relationship standards. Maybe it’s the mixture of realistic and unrealistic that keeps me enchanted, or the simple language that lets me get lost in 114 pages in one hour, but “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell captured everything I love about Y/A.

During my sophomore year of high school (circa 2014), “Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell rampaged through the Y/A universe. Everyone was reading about the red-haired girl and her Asian love interest. Of course, I fell in love with it. Rowell has an easy writing style, very similar to Suzanne Collins, author of “The Hunger Games”

Photo By Hailey Turpin

trilogy. Short sentences and facile words; I could swim through her sentences and feel like I wasn’t missing a beat. My love for “Eleanor & Park” led me to her other books, including “Fangirl.”

And did I love “Fangirl.” I still love that freaking book.

Cather Avery is in no way, shape, or form anything like me besides that we both like to read fanfiction. (One Direction got me. I was a pubescent in 2012, let me be.) Not just fanfiction, but gay fanfiction. Between two characters who are never going to end up together, but in our hearts, there’s no one better suited for the other. “Fangirl” is about Cath’s transition to college and trying to handle the adult world while still holding onto the biggest part of her youth: Simon and Baz from the Simon Snow series. The book begins with Cath moving into her dorm and meeting her roommate’s boyfriend. From there, Rowell jumps right in. You meet Cath quickly, her personality filtering into you as you read. That’s one thing I love about Rowell’s writing style; she molds characters into who they’re supposed to be. They’re distinguishable, they’re relatable, and best of all, they’re quirky. I love me some quirk.

The story is fairly long, but I got so lost in the story while reading, I lost track of page numbers. I would sit down at 10:30 p.m. to read, and the next thing I knew, it was 1 a.m. and I had just read through close to 200 pages. I was sucked into Cather Avery’s world and I honestly didn’t mind. Cath is unique; she is nerdy and emotional and nervous, three things I try to suppress. She allows herself to let it out and I love that about her. Not only that, Cath is real. She understands when things aren’t right and she feels bad when she does things wrong, even if they aren’t actually wrong. Like making out with her roommate’s boyfriend who isn’t actually her boyfriend but turns into Cath’s boyfriend. Ugh, the innocence.

Of course, this book is filled with fantasies. You don’t get a 100% realistic experience in any Y/A novel, especially written by one who is not the age of the main character. Life is better with fantasies, so reading all the cheesy lines exchanged between Cath and Levi made my heart flutter instead of repulse. The innocence is breathtaking. I know for a fact life is anything but innocent, but to read about it and feel it through the life of another, it’s nice.

Reading Y/A, in my opinion, is to live vicariously through the characters as they journey through their almost-perfect lives. Cath is awkward and adjusting horribly to college life, but she finds a writing partner who bounces off her writing as if they are two waves in the same tide. He ends up fucking her over, of course, but it brings back her twin sister who had abandoned her. Another bad thing in her life: her twin, best friend, soulmate abandoned her as soon as college started. This was a big deal considering they did everything together. Even shared a room until college. Imagine no privacy ever. Ew.

Cath struggles a lot. She struggles with being social, she struggles with adult things, she struggles with Wren (her twin sister) contacting their estranged mother again, and she struggles with feelings for boys. She is the conductor of the struggle bus, and reading her journey makes you feel sad for her but also root for her. That’s why I love Cath so much; she’s a fighter, no matter how quirky or awkward she is. And life molds around her, no matter how much she tries to mold herself around it. My advice to Cath Avery would be to just let it happen. Life sucks, but it’s also so good. Just like Y/A novels. Say all you want about them, I will agree many are naïvely terrible, but too many are innocently amazing, like “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell. Fall in love with Cather Avery like I did and read this book.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Book Review: ‘White Oleander’ by Janet Fitch

For months, my mom had been telling me to read “White Oleander” by Janet Fitch, and for months, I had been putting it off. My list of to-read books is too long for my preference, but it’s also inconvenient that I’m a college student who has virtually no time to read (hence, why my New Year’s resolution was to read one book a month). For February, I was unsure of what to read. I had just finished “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell and trying to find equal stimulation was going to be tough. My shelf is filled with classic novels, business novels recommended by my dad and other random books strewed in with titles I thought were interesting. I was unsure of what was to be the successor of “Fangirl,” so I chose “White Oleander.”

And boy, I’m glad I did. I have to admit, this book was not as stimulating as “Fangirl,” but it was calming in the way it probably shouldn’t have been. Astrid, a young Californian girl, lives with her manipulative hippie mother who goes to jail for killing her ex-lover, forcing Astrid to move throughout the foster system. She is met with too many obstacles a girl her age should have to go through, but it’s fascinating to watch her journey through each one and how she grows into an adult (probably too soon, but that’s what life does to you).

While it’s easy to tell Astrid is a young girl written by an adult, Janet Fitch still did a wonderful job with Astrid’s character development over the course of the book. Astrid in the beginning is completely different from Astrid at the end, an innocent girl with a warped perception of the world at the hands of her mother. Her presence is Astrid’s entire life turned the main character into a young adult hardened by the troubles she faced in the system, the people who took advantage of her and used her, who showed her love

Photo by Emily Hickey

then ripped it away, and a mother who was still trying to control every aspect of poor Astrid’s life from the letters sent from behind bars. When I closed the book after finishing it, I felt shell-shocked. This girl, younger than me, had experienced more than I could fathom, and the worst part was that it happens to girls like her in real life all. the. time.

Poor, orphaned or abandoned girls are sucked into a system that is said to be for their best interest, but is more interested in money and getting the kid into any home they can so the social workers can say they did it. Fitch’s characters were very well-written and had prominent personalities that were completely identifiable, and their interactions with Astrid only improved their written personas all while affecting Astrid’s character development, but in a good way – if good means Fitch’s ability to have a character grow rather than the actual situations Astrid was put through. Man, this girl had it tough. And sometimes, it hurt to read.

I imagine that’s exactly what Fitch wanted. To show that life really is unfair, and no matter how good or kind or beautiful you are, life hurts everyone, some more than others. Astrid more than the average person, and solely because she was good, kind and beautiful. Jealousy is gun-wielding dangerous, beauty is prostitution, slavery is only one meal a day. Just when I thought Astrid had gone through enough, Fitch added in another thing, and then another thing, and then another, just to remind us readers that life doesn’t end just because you’ve had enough, and it is to keep going that matters.

And to stick it to the big man – or mother, in Astrid’s case.

When Astrid finally let go of her oppressive mother, I could literally feel the freedom on the pages. A girl, tormented by life and the system for years on end, all the while her jailed mother scrutinized from the tiny cell block, finally found freedom in the most broken of homes and in the arms of the only person who ever saw her for her; not a product of her mother, not a ward of the system, not as a child, or as a broken adult, but as Astrid Magnusson. The girl who found herself while the world around her tried to tear her apart.

This book was almost as good as my mom had said it was. The only thing setting it back from receiving the full five stars from me is the adult language that Fitch wrote with. At times, I found myself bored at the slowness of the story, and it only seemed to go slow because of Fitch’s language. Some words were too big for Astrid’s age, and sometimes she was too wise for a 13-year-old. Besides the language discrepancies, I genuinely enjoyed reading “White Oleander” and I will never stop feeling unbearably sad for Astrid. She may have had a happy ending, but I will never be able to shake what she had to go through to get there.

Kudos, Janet Fitch.

 

Rate: 3.5/5 stars