Book Review: Fairest by Marissa Meyer

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Princess Levana is royality on the planet of Luna, but she is not the fairest of them all. Disfigured as a child by her malicious sister, Channary, Levana uses a glamour that allows her to look as beautiful as she wants. She hides her true face, not wanting others to be disgusted by her appearance. She wants respect. She wants admiration. But most of all, Levana wants love. She falls head over heals for Evret, one of the palace guards whose job it is to protect the royal family.

She considers Evret to be her only friend, and knows deep down that the two of them are destined to fall in love. Evret’s heart belong’s to another woman, but Levana does not let that crush her dreams of a fairy tale ending. When an opportunity presents itself to her, she uses manipulation to have Evret for herself, trusting that, in time, he’ll realize that he is in love with her, too.

Levana is not only concerned with love. She is also concerned with politics. In order to be sustained, Luna needs land and resources, and there is only one other planet that can provide these things: Earth. As she manipulates others to bring herself to power, Levana desires Earth more than anything. A plan is put into place and Levana is eager to oversee it. She knows she will get what she wants.

Although she still desires Earth, Levana does get most of the things she always dreamed of. Through manipulation, she gains Evret, a family, power, respect, and beauty. She gets almost everything she has ever wanted. It seems that Levana is blind to something that many others know– her reign cannot last forever.

I really enjoyed this book. Marissa Meyer’s use of language appeals to the senses in a beautiful way. Reading a story from the perspective of a villain is an interesting experience. I sympathized with Levana, but I also thought she was a terrible person. There are three other books in The Lunar Chronicles series that came before this one: Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress. I have not read those other books (trust me, I plan to!), so I probably don’t have as deep an appreciation for the characters as someone more familiar with the series.

Still, I loved reading Levana’s story. She is similar to many other young women in the sense that she cares about finding love, feeling beautiful and achieving success. However, her methods of obtaining these things are so malicious and horrible that I would never want to be in the same room as her. Still, I sympathized with her, and I felt bad when she was hurt or tricked by someone else. Fairest is a book worth reading, and I look forward to reading the other books in the series (Including the upcoming book, Winter!).

xo

-Ashley

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Title: Fairest Author: Marissa Meyer Publisher: Feiwel & Friends  Length: 222 pages. ISBN– 1250060559

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What I Learned From Changing My Major In College

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When I first entered college as an undergrad, I chose to major in Theater. It wasn’t a hard choice. I had been taking acting classes for a few years and it was all I wanted to do. I loved theater. I loved learning my lines. I loved working with passionate, creative people. Being on stage gave me a voice, and getting into character meant that I could take a break from being me. It meant that I could get a glimpse into what it might be like to be someone else. Nothing was more magical to me than acting.

My freshman year, I got to experience some really cool things. I got to learn about acting, arts management, sets, costumes, stage lighting, Stanislavski, musical theater, and much more. I got to see myself grow through my different scenes and assignments. I got to meet people who were all unique, but who were all united by their common love of the theater.

I also got to watch my peers act, sing and dance in several performances. Seeing people live their passion is one of my favorite things in the world, so being surrounded by creative people brought me a lot of joy.

While I experienced a lot of good things my freshman year, I wasn’t always happy. I spent a lot of time feeling sad, anxious and isolated. I broke down crying on more than one occasion. I knew I needed a change in my life, I just didn’t know what kind. My freshman year was followed by a terrible summer that only made my sadness and anxiety worse. I was in a really low place, and I knew that a hectic theater schedule wasn’t going to help me get out of it. I needed to find some peace and solitude.

I’ve never been the kind of person who only had one passion. I loved acting, but I also loved writing, so I decided to change my major to English. This wasn’t an easy decision, and no one I talked to thought I should do it. This isn’t surprising. People don’t like change, and even if the change you want to make is good for you, you’ll find that people won’t want to accept it. (You’ll understand what I mean by this if you’ve ever told your friends you’ve chosen to eat healthier. There will always be that one person who says, “Just have one cookie. It won’t hurt you!”)

Once I changed my major, things got better slowly, but not overnight. I missed acting and I was always worried about the future. Still, my friends said they noticed that I was less stressed than I was before. I was starting over, and starting over is never easy. Luckily for me, English majors are some of the loveliest humans you will ever encounter, so I got to meet some really kind people.

I began to focus more on writing. For so long, I had been used to putting a lot of my creative energy into acting. Now that I wasn’t taking acting classes anymore, there was this huge, ginormous void in my life. So, I filled it. In my need to create, I went from being a terrible fiction writer to a decent one. I wrote hundreds of poems. I wrote plays and scripts. I learned how to write songs with my guitar. Occasionally I got to perform my songs, or read my poems and stories aloud at events. I found ways to continue to create and connect with others, all while maintaining the level of solitude I needed to find peace.

Experiencing two different majors really added to my college experience. I got to submerse myself in two different crafts. Writing and acting are very different, but they also have things in common. Both require you to use sense memory and to see things from another character’s perspective. I believe that acting helped me to be a better writer.

I learned a lot from all of this. I learned that there doesn’t have to be just one passion that will bring me happiness in life. It is important to choose something and commit to it, but it is also important to stay open to new things and new experiences. I thought that choosing a major meant doing one thing for the rest of my life. I realize now that this simply is not true. As C.S Lewis says, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

I have a lot of different passions, especially when it comes to the arts. I realize now that this is not a bad thing. I got to see myself grow as an actress and as a writer. Making a change is not always easy. I made a change because I wanted to be my best, healthiest self. Sometimes you need a break, even from something you love to do. And that’s okay.

xo

-Ashley

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Thoughts on Marriage Equality

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Today, the supreme court ruled that same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states! What an amazing accomplishment. Today, my generation can open their eyes to see history in the making. Every day we move one step closer to accepting each other’s differences. I know there will be many long-awaited marriages today and in the days to come.

Marriage equality across the country will give many couples the rights they deserve. It means that activists who are no longer with us have not fought in vain. It means that activists who are alive today can see that their voices and actions truly do matter and make a difference. Across our country, people are beginning to see that love is love.

Naturally, there is still work to be done. Discrimination is still a problem in numerous places. Teens are rejected from their homes after coming out as gay, lesbian, bi, or trans. Many become homeless as a result. Young people are still committing suicide after facing the pain of being rejected by their own families, friends, communities, and work places.

This discrimination is not only brought about by straight, cisgender people. People who are trans, bi, pan, or of any other orientation or gender identity may still experience discrimination within the LGBTQ community itself. I do not believe that people discriminate because they are inherently mean. I believe that that if we can educate each other, and embrace each other’s differences, our world can become the loving place it has always had the potential to be. Even more, I believe we can realize that, deep down, we are not all that different from each other.

Anne Frank said that “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” I think so, too. And I believe that marriage equality across the United States is a small reflection of just that.

xo

-Ashley

Book Review: YES PLEASE by Amy Poehler

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     “Writing is hard.” We know this is true because Amy Poehler says so. In fact, those three words are the title of the preface in her comical memoir, Yes Please. She says more than once that writing a book is no easy feat, but that doesn’t stop her from completing one that is funny, honest, and chock-full of personality.

In her stories, she discusses life, love, divorce, motherhood, body image, show biz, and one of her greatest loves in life: improv. Improvisation is the foundation of Poehler’s career. Her book is divided into three sections, and in each section she starts off by saying “How I Fell in Love with Improv.” From growing up in Boston, to moving to Chicago, to watching her career blossom in New York City, improv teaches her to “Say whatever you want, Do whatever you like, and Be whoever you are.”

Poehler talks about how women apologize too much, even when they aren’t at fault. She opens up about making mistakes, having regrets, and how it can take courage to face problems head on and to make things right. There are sections about her work on SNL, her experimentation with minor drugs, her friendship with Tina Fey, and her tendency of being a “bad sleeper.” The book includes stories about Parks and Recreation, her two wonderful boys, and she asserts the fact that “Every mother needs a wife.” She talks about sex and time travel. She discusses technology in a conclusion titled, “The Robots Will Kill Us All.”

One thing I enjoyed about this book is that Amy’s personality really comes across through her writing. At times it feels a bit like it is jumping around from one idea to the next, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I think it serves to reflect her personality even more. I liked that a section or two of the book wasn’t written by Poehler, but was instead written by someone close to her. It made me feel, as a reader, like I was having a conversation with Amy and her friends.

This book is relatable to anyone who enjoys comedy, has big dreams, has gone through a divorce, has had to balance work and parenthood, has had off days, or to anyone who is simply a fan of Amy Poehler. We may not all be able to hang out and be friends with her in real life, but reading her book is the next best thing.

xo

-Ashley

Bibliographic Information:

Title: Yes Please. Author: Amy Poehler. Publisher: HarperCollins, 2014. Length: 352 pages. ISBN-13: 9780062268341

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