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What is Mt. SAC Doing About Students with Eating Disorders?

My current job is a Tutor in the Classroom (Supplemental Instruction) at Mt. San Antonio Writing Center. On August 28th, 2018, one of the English classes I TC for had a debate regarding if dignity comes from within or is determined by external forces? The teacher and I disagreed on who won the debate. She chose the side arguing that dignity comes from within, and I selected the one that said dignity is determined by external forces.

Later that day during my lunch break, I heard two women talking about weight loss. One woman said that she was frustrated, and the other woman claimed she could see it on her face and asked her what was wrong.

“I’ve only lost two pounds this week, and last time I tried to lose weight it was more per week.” I sympathized with this woman because I am currently also trying to lose weight, and that morning I did not like the number the scale spat back at me.

Her friend responded, “you mean the unhealthy way? Losing 2 pounds a week is not a bad thing, in fact, I think experts say it is a healthier way to lose weight.” They walked out of the hallway at this point; however, I reminded myself that her friend was right. There are unhealthy ways to lose weight that are incredibly bad for your body.

Even later in that day, when I went to the restroom, I walked into a stall and almost threw up because of what I saw in the toilet. I tried to go into the next stall, but the smell was so bad that I did not want to risk throwing up on the floor. Other’s waste is the only thing that makes me throw up when I am not nauseous. I ran out gagging but trying really hard not to throw up, and I went to the second-floor bathroom which had a line, but I thought it was worth it because I did not want to throw up in public. The very back stall finally became available, and I sat down.

There are many issues with the bathrooms at Mt. SAC especially those located in building 26 where the humanity departments and classes are. They are usually not clean even in the morning when I work, and some of the locks do not work making it not private and unsafe. Finally, people act like teenagers in the bathroom and vandalize the walls with silly unimportant writing. I find the scribbles to be silly and immature, but it is something to read while I do my business. However, this time I was surprised by what I saw on the wall:

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“Here is my confession…I am bulimic. Everyone compliments me when I lose weight.” This was written in two different colors because the person obviously ran out of black ink, and she (I only say she because it was in the girl’s bathroom) wanted to emphasize her point. This was neither immature or childish, but obviously, someone who was trying to ask for help and did not know how. I remembered some people force themselves to throw up, and here I was trying to prevent myself from doing so because I physically hate it. However, some people receive their dignity through their weight and will do things to help keep it high even though it is actually really low.

I went back down to work and told one of my supervisors because she is also a fellow feminist, and I was also not sure if this fell under a code that we had to report. She did look surprised when I told her, but then she said this is a continuing problem in the bathrooms of girls throwing up in there. Our center is right across from a female restroom, so we deal with a lot of issues occurring in this space. My supervisor told me that one time they had to call public safety because one of our workers was worried about a girl throwing up in the bathroom while another just said, “oh girls always do that in there.” Like this is supposed to be some normal everyday situation. I went back upstairs to take a picture of the writing on the wall for these reasons:

  1. According to the National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders, it claims, “At least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S. Every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness” (“Eating Disorder Statistics”).
  2. Maybe this girl will find this blog and finally ask for help.
  3. Bulimia might be an everyday situation for those who suffer from it and their loved ones, but it should never be considered normal.
  4. Many females find their dignity from society thinking that skinny is beautiful. This girl obviously receives her dignity from outside sources.

This is not about fat or skinny shaming, but people need to realize that when it comes to weight, America is obsessed with it. People gain their dignity from outside sources from those complementing or mocking their weight.

So, my question is what is Mt. SAC doing about this issue? From what I have been told this is very common in the female bathroom; however, this does not mean the males at the school are not suffering from an eating disorder. Eating disorders affect all categories of people: “In a large national study of college students, 3.5% sexual minority women and 2.1% of sexual minority men reported having an eating disorder. 16% of transgender college students reported having an eating disorder” (“Eating Disorder Statistics”).

Upon doing some research about Mt. SAC’s resources for eating disorders, I found a couple of web pages that can help.

The first is a pdf for students to find resources for eating disorders and other issues like alcohol abuse: www.mtsac.edu/healthcenter/counseling/Community%20Referrals.SG.PV%208.2015.pdf.

I also found an “Educational Information” page that provides links for different mental and physical health issues: www.mtsac.edu/healthcenter/counseling/educational_info.html.

If you want to be someone who specializes in counseling those with eating disorders or other mental health issues, they have programs and classes for you: www.mtsac.edu/cte/cte_program.html?profession=Substance%20Abuse%20and%20Behavioral%20Disorder%20Counselors.

Finally, I found Mt. SAC’s counseling page that gives students a “non-judgmental, confidential short-term personal counseling, and counseling in emergency situations. Referrals to community agencies are available if needs cannot be met by short-term counseling. These services are available for students currently enrolled in, and attending credit classes” (“Counseling Service”). I know “short-term” is scary for some people, and others need to understand that mental disorders are not like a disease that can be cured, but something that someone lives with their entire life; however, they provide referrals to agencies that will help Mt. SAC students.  However, the counseling page is the one page that does not provide resource links for those who have an eating disorder. The closest one is probably a link to hotlines for those in need of help. One number is the suicide prevention hotline 24-hr Suicide Hotline 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) or 1-800-273-TALK (8255) that also provides a link for college students with mental health disorders or issues http://www.ulifeline.org/mtsac/get_help_now (“Know Someone in Trouble?”). The reason why this is important is that according to the National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders, “1 in 5 anorexia deaths is by suicide” (“Eating Disorder Statistics”).

I mention these resources because they are good to know; however, it brings up the question if Mt. SAC is doing enough by providing resources for those who have eating disorders and telling students about them? If you agree that they do, then why did this student have to write this on the wall as a cry for help?

Someone is thinking that this person is probably only doing this for attention. My answer is, so what? First, if it was for attention, I do not think she would have written that she was bulimic anonymously on a wall in a school bathroom probably before or after she forced herself to throw up. Second, if someone is harming their body or is not taking care of their mental health, they need attention to become healthier. We need to destigmatize mental health and stop making fun of those who seek therapy and not treat them as some twisted other who does not belong in our society.

Disability scholars Stephanie Phillips and Mark Leahy in “Anticipating the Unknown” make a call for action for changing the binary of physical and mental disabilities: “Calling for the inclusion of bodymind into FDS, [Feminist Disability Studies] Price indicates that the use of a single term to cover both mental and physical processes can create a new understanding of these processes as one, instead of treated as separate, distinct processes” (128). Therefore, they conclude that just because someone has a physical disability this does not mean it is not affecting their mind. If someone has a mental disability, this does not mean that their body is not affected. Let us turn back to eating disorders. According to the National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders, “Nearly half of bulimia patients have a comorbid mood disorder. More than half of bulimia patients have comorbid anxiety disorders” (“Eating Disorder Statistics”). Though it can be argued that a disorder is different from a disability, I think Phillips and Leahy’s argument still stands in this situation. Those who have an eating disorder are hurting their bodies the most.

So, what can you do? If you are a college student suffering from an eating disorder, you should look up your school’s resources. If you feel like there is not enough for those who suffer from an eating disorder, do a call to action to ask for more help from the school, and even if you do not, do this as well. If dignity does truly come from outside sources, then everyone deserves the right to live even if you think you are simply giving someone a compliment.

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Recourses for eating disorders:

National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders

http://www.anad.org/

NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association)

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/help-support/contact-helpline

Help Line: (800) 931-2237

Eating Disorder Hope

https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/

Eating Disorder Recovery Center

https://www.eatingrecoverycenter.com/professionals/resources

Suicide Hotline

1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) or 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

 

You are Not alone. Here are two Youtubers that suffered from eating disorders

Kendall Rae

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_34uOPoJTAo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIQ44D5c0lo

Jaiden Animations

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhEATqXnXCI&t=403s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36QMyiRAv-Y

 

 

Works Cited

(works cited do not format correctly on this blog page)

“Counseling Service.” Mt. SAC, www.mtsac.edu/healthcenter/counseling/index.html.

“Eating Disorder Statistic.” National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated            Disorders,

www.anad.org/education-and-awareness/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/.

“Know Someone in Trouble?” Mt. SAC,

https://www.mtsac.edu/healthcenter/counseling/trouble.html.

Phillips, Stephanie, and Mark Leachy. “Anticipating the Unknown: Postpedagogy and

Accessibility.” Peitho, vol. 20, no.1, 2017, pp. 122-143, peitho.cwshrc.org/issue/20-1/.

 

Summer Reading: Leah Remini’s Trouble Maker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology

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In Leah Remini’s autobiography Trouble Maker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, her friend, Stacy, asks how she received such a nice house and pool, and Remini replies with hard work. Her friend’s response is, “‘No, come on. It’s gotta be that Scientology stuff you’re involved in. It must have given you a leg up in the business.” She also states, ““I want that Tom Cruise shit.’” Remini explains, not to her friend, that this is a myth about Scientology:

The real truth is that while the church would like you to believe it wields a tremendous amount of influence in Hollywood, that is simply not the case. Throughout my career I know of one minor casting director who was a Scientologist, but other than that, no real movers and shakers. As a matter of fact, I think identifying myself publicly as a Scientologist probably hurt my career more than it helped as far as perception was concerned. And while some of the courses the church offered provided me with better communication skills to help land roles, the time, money, and effort I invested certainly didn’t outweigh the benefit for me (115).

The reason why I decided to start my review of Remini’s book with this quote is because this is the section of the book that stayed with me the most. I know this is strange because Remini reveals many horrible things about her former religion, but the idea that Scientology is persuading to young hopeful actors that the church will forward their careers, yet then proceeds to bankrupt them really annoys me. These are signs of a cult and a scam.

This is what happened to youtuber Steven Mango www.youtube.com/channel/UCE5IHywtKYHcTGfr0AUB1Mw. (He is not mentioned in Remini’s book) He explains through multiple videos in his Mangotology series that he joined the church because of their acting classes, which turned out to only be propaganda for the church. Instead of propelling his career forward, he put his money and time into the classes the church offered and was forced to hide his sexuality. Scientology only held back his acting career. If there is one thing I want young people to take away from Remini’s book, it is this.

Going back to Leah Remini’s autobiography Trouble Maker, this was the first non-fiction book I have read. There are two main reasons why I chose to read this book. First, I have already watched the documentary Going Clear and Remini’s documentary show Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath (an Emmy-Award winning show), so I thought this was the natural next step even though the book was written before the show. Second, as someone who has a degree in rhetoric, I am interested in the persuasion that cults employ to prevent their followers from leaving. Basically, Scientology threatens followers with disconnection, blackmails them with what they said during private auditing sessions, or they will persuade that they are saving the planet and any indiscretion they make is preventing this from happening. They tell followers that anything bad that happens to them is their own fault because they did something horrible in a past life. This makes people feel like they deserve the mistreatment from their church. Followers are persuaded that it is their fault alone that the world is not saved.

Remini herself writes of all the hardship Scientology had put her through during her time at the church, such as: making her family move to Florida and live separately from her mother in rat and cockroach infested dorms in a hotel, cleaning the hotel and being feed scraps while in the Sea Org, being thrown off a boat for not calling a higher up sir: “he picked me up and before I even realized what was happening, he threw me overboard” (27) (this is L. Ron Hubbard’s overboarding policy when someone is not being compliant), spending a fortune on the church, and being emotionally abused by the church after she supposedly ruined Tom Cruise’s wedding.

Speaking of Tom Cruise, this book confirmed my suspicions concerning how he is treated by the leaders of Scientology. Remini states, “I don’t doubt that Tom is in Scientology because he believes in it, but to me he has simply been given too much power by his church” (204). I have always perceived that if the late LRH is God, and Dave Miscavige is the pope of Scientology then Cruise is Jesus. To me, Remini confirmed this: “Dave told him that if he could, he would make Tom Cruise the number two in Scientology. He said that Tom Cruise was a more dedicated Scientologist than anyone else he knew” (205).

This book covers the start of Remini’s life and spans to her reality tv show Leah Remini: It’s All Relative in 2014. Though she discusses hardships in her life, she does it as her sassy, funny, Italian female self. I believe all Remini’s statements. She calls out a lot of B.S even her own when she was in the church.

I should state that the church of Scientology has denied every statement that Remini has made.

Overall, I would give this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars. This is because while Remini’s story is moving, there are many grammar issues. This is not her fault, but it is her editors. Do not get me wrong. I have dyslexia, and you will probably find grammar issues throughout my blog, but the job of editors is to catch these mistakes.

You should definitely read Remini’s autobiography and watch Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.

I do believe in freedom of religion; however, I do not believe in cults mistreating and isolating their members.

Source

Remini, Leah. Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology. Ballantine Books, 2015.

Solstice is Here: Literary Alchemy Poetry and Fiction Zine’s First Release

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Hello everyone! I am very excited to announce the release of the very first Literary Alchemy Poetry and Fiction Zine! This zine is very close to my heart, and is something that I have wanted to accomplish since my freshmen year of college when I was a scared student sitting in John Brantingham’s creative writing class. However, I was so busy with trying to receive my B.A after I transferred that I did not have the time to start one. The first attempt to release this literary magazine was a flop. The person who I attempted to do a full literary magazine with started a very rigorous grad program, so she no longer had the time to help me, and then I started grad school as well and did not have the time to focus on a full literary magazine. However, at the end of a very stressful and tiring (quarter system) first year of grad school, I needed something to revitalize my love for literature and creative writing. One day I crashed John Brantingham’s class again (he is used to it by now) because my quarter was over, but I took my boyfriend to class and did not feel like driving all the way home. After he was done teaching I told him I was a little warn down, and was thinking about trying to restart Literary Alchemy. I thought it could be a zine so one person could handle all of the work, for it can be done on my off time from school. He told me that was a great idea, and that I should do it. So, when I went home I figured out the guidelines and announced the submission period.

So, what is a zine? A zine is a very small magazine that is formatted to be on 8.5×11 sheets of paper folded in half so it can be easily produced. Zines are usually not for profit and are meant to help someone’s voice, cause, or movement be presented to the public. My personal influence for this zine is the old punk zines’ from the ‘80s and ‘90s, with the Riot Grrl zines being the biggest inspiration. (If you do not know about the Riot Grrl movement look it up, it is a female punk movement that helped start third-wave feminism.)

Next question. Why is it called Solstice if the publication is at the end of summer? There are many reasons. Most of them are personal. Summer for me is always a season of change because I have been in school for most of my life. To me, a new year never started in January, it begins in late August or early September when school starts. I am currently in school to teach community college, so this mind set will not shift anytime soon. Therefore, the name of the summer issue is “solstice” because of my personal experiences of change or shifting in summer time. However, I did not expect this to become a theme.  When asked by contributors, I simply said, “there is no theme, the first issue is called ‘Solstice,’ submit anything you like or something you feel fits that.” I did not expect people to take me seriously! Many of the submissions (not all) deal with change or a fear of it. I believe this is because we are living in Sothern California during the start of the Trump era. The other reason for naming the first issue Solstice is I very much love the religion of Wicca. That is why I requested my best friend, Elisa Lugo, to draw a woman dancing for the cover because she is celebrating summer solstice.

I cannot say that taking on this project was a huge undertaking because I actually had a lot of fun working on it. I finally learned that if you do what you love you will never work a day in your life. I am really proud of this project, and I am glad that I can produce a literary zine for everyone to enjoy. Thank you to all who supported and contributed to this zine to make my dreams real!

here is the link:

https://literaryalchemypress.wordpress.com/issuesstore/

Will Destiny 2 Maintain a Better Story?

Destiny 2 was announced at E3, and there are many concerns that once again Destiny 2 will be another installment of a well-designed game that lacks an in-depth story. This is unfortunate for Bungie who has great story telling games, suchas, the Halo series underneath their belts. However, maybe there is some hope with footage of the beta being released?

With IGN releasing early footage of the Beta mission, it seems as if Bungie is taking a different approach to Destiny 2. The mission entitled “Homecoming” starts by giving characters that have little personality in the first game receive a full character developmental makeover. These characters are the leaders of the class’ vanguards: Ikora Rey, Commander Zavala, and Cayde-6. Cayde-6 receives the most character development by sharing characteristics with Star Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy films due to his sense of humor; whereas, the other two maintain a more serious disposition. The story begins in 4k graphics, and the Cabal are attacking The Last City and the guardian’s headquarters, The Tower. The player is able to see the Vanguard leaders in full action instead of meeting them behind a desk as they do in Destiny, and the player learns why the Vanguard leaders rises to the top of their ranks. They display their powers and battle tactics. This adds to the story so far.

The Cabal attack The Traveler, and The Speaker is missing and the character must find him and then attack the core of the ship that is leading the attack. At first, this is similar to typical missions from Destiny. The player runs through a map of the tower with the only difference being it is in ruins, and the boss appears with a yellow health bar. However, the story helps add more to the missions, and new areas of the tower are revealed. The mission ends with a cliff hanger, and Destiny 2 appears across the screen. Does this beta and the story developed DLC “The Taken King” from Destiny adds hope that to Destiny 2 having a better developed story.

Destiny-2-Beta

The Two Big Issues Everyone has with Wonder Woman: Doctor Poison and Ares

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*Warning this article maintains spoilers*

Everyone loves the new Wonder Woman, including myself, because we finally have a great DC movie and with a female lead. However, people tend to have two major issues with the Wonder Woman film and that is Doctor Poison’s face disfigurement and the fact that Ares is “some old guy.”

Let us address Doctor Poison’s face disfigurement first. The main issue with this character is a long standing problem within Hollywood since the black and white monster era of Universal. Villains are usually disfigured, hence displaying how evil they are. This makes people in the modern era (and probably back then as well) feel alienated and bullied. This is a major issue that Hollywood must address and stop; however, I feel like Doctor Poison should be an exception to this stereotype. I am not saying people with disabilities and body disfigurements are villains. What I am saying is that Doctor Poison’s face disfigurement is a cause of her own twisted actions. If you watch closely during the scene in Wonder Woman when Diana is in the war room in London a brief picture of Doctor Poison is seen and she does not have her face mask on, and there is no disfigurement on her face.

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Therefore, she was not born with her face like this, and it is a result of her own evil antics of working with poison to kill people. This is her karma and a constant physical reminder that she is an awful person helping in a war that she must address every day in her life. Could the movie have done this in a different way? Yes. However, the movie is not saying she is a villain because of her face disfigurement, but it is her evil actions that result in the permanent damage to her face.

Next is the fact that Ares is some old guy, and many complained that this is not Ares. In the comics he is buff and wears armor, and this is true. However, we must remember that when these DC movies were in development by the awful director that is Zac Snyder this was in the New 52 cycle of comics. Wonder Woman the movie takes influence from this universe with Diana being a daughter of Zeus and not sculpted from clay and being brought to life by Aphrodite. Guess what else receives an influenced from the New 52? Ares is some old guy!

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Gasp! All of the Gods and Goddess receive a remodel in Wonder Woman’s New 52 issues, and I actually enjoyed Ares as an old cranky character who just wants to get away from his family’s drama. I was not too surprised when Sir Patrick turned out to be Ares. I simply thought “Oh they are using more New 52 influence.” However, everyone is claiming that this is not Aries. But it is, just in a different universe. Some people are purist and want their favorite heroes to be exactly like the comics. But I always have the mindset that there is a time to be a purist and a time to realize that they actually did take influence from the comics.

Summer Reading Review: Sarah Dessen’s Once and for All

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Review for Sarah Dessen’s Once and for All

What can I say about Sarah Dessen that has not already been written a million times? She is a bestselling author whose first book was published in 1996.

I was introduced to Dessen through a friend who recommended her books to me, and of course being a young teenager obsessed with romance, I fell in love with her writing, and was blinded from any flaws in her books. When I recommended one of my favorite books of Dessen’s, Just Listen, to a friend (who was much older than me), the friend said she thought it was immature until the end. I was surprised because everyone I recommended Dessen’s to, feel in love with her. However, now being older and maintaining a BA in English (I am not trying to brag, but majoring in English turns you into a monster that criticizes any type of storytelling) I now find issues within Dessen’s writing.

Let’s start with a reoccurring theme in Dessen’s books. The story usually begins with the loss of a loved one for the protagonist, usually pertaining to death. This is something I usually love about her books. I know she has helped a lot of people through grief periods with her writing. However, the dead parents were starting to get old after a while. I believe that is why I skipped Dessen’s last book Saint Anything because I was growing bored of Dessen, and her stories are starting to seem the same. When I read that the protagonist of Once and for All, Louna, father has died I rolled my eyes and thought “oh big surprise,” and almost put down the book. However, this is not the loss Louna deals within her life. Her father abandons her and dies when she is three. I thought this is a repeat from Just Listen, but I digress. Louna’s lost the same as in Dessen’s other book Someone Like You were a character’s boyfriend dies (like I said Dessen has been repeating herself lately). However, this is slightly different wherein SLY it is the protagonist best friend’s boyfriend; whereas, is OAFA it is the main character herself, Louna, who loses her boyfriend. If you are mad because this might be a spoiler, it is not because it is revealed in the first couple of chapters.

Honestly, the flashbacks of Louna and her deceased boyfriend are the best sections of this book. I feel that they are very strong and everyone can relate to that late night summer when you spend all night with that one person you know will become a defining relationship. There are some issues I have within these sections of the story, such as the two of them dropping the love bomb after only a night together, but they are teenagers, so it can be forgiven. The only problem with these sections is Dessen does not do the typical trope of having a flashback. Which is something reminding Louna of the time she spent with Ethan, and then she goes into the memory. Instead the sections are separate chapters. This causes problems because it feels out of place. This might have worked if they were every other chapter, but instead the flashbacks chapters are scattered throughout the novel. I know Dessen does not write series, and all her books take place within the same universe, but this plot it might have been better if one book was about Louana and Ethan story, and the other is her dealing with his death and trying to move on with Ambrose.

I say this novel is worth reading for those chapters alone, and can really help with someone who is going through the death of a spouse.

The other issue I have with this novel is Louna’s character in general. As a reader, you do not really know her likes and dislikes as far as hobbies or what she is interested in at school. What will she be majoring in when she goes to college? Even stating she does not know would show some character development, but we do not receive any of this which is strange for a Dessen novel because her female protagonists are usually so well developed. Louana just reacts to everything around her, and is a cynic about love despite being in the wedding business. She does not really receive any character development until the end when she realizes that she is a workaholic like her mother, and that is about it.

The last thing I do not like about this novel is that Dessen argues that every romance in some way has to be epic in order to work, and she does not mean in the fantasy way, but in the romantic sunset walking, every moment is epic, passionate, and have sparks flying between them constantly. I know there are couples out there who have a really tame relationship and are fine with this. I have issues with Dessen saying all relationships need to be epic. Since young adults read her books, I do not want them to receive the wrong message.

I should probably say what I do like about this novel, since I claim to love Sarah Dessen’s work.

Ambrose is a really fun character that I would usually hate because he dates so many girls; however, he is still fun and I am pretty sure he has ADD which is nice to see a character with a mental disability be a protagonist. At one point he justly steals a dog and it is honestly my favorite chapter in the book. Though I find his chemistry with Louna rocky because of her lack of development, I still find him a very fun character.

Also, I liked that Louna’s name is a combination of her parents’ names: Louis and Natalie. This is clever.

The book design is beautiful and screams wedding which is a major theme of the book. The jacket is of a girl throwing a pink bouquet and with a blue and pink blush background while the actual book is purple and the inside is pink. I know this is a weird thing to love, but Dessen’s books are always really pretty to look at.

Overall I give the book a 3 out of 5 stars.

Summer Reading: Richelle Mead’s An Age of X

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Review for Richelle Mead’s The Immortal Crown and Gameboard of the Gods

Let us get one bias thing out of the way, Richelle Mead is my favorite contemporary author. I was introduced to her novels through her acclaim young adult series Vampire Academy and its spin off series Bloodlines. One of my favorite novels is her standalone novel Soundless. Now that I have stated how much I love Mead’s work, let us move on to her newest adult series An Age of X.

I was introduced to Richelle Mead through her young adult books, but apparently these novels are a return to form for Mead. This surprised me, and I was shocked on how much sex was in the first novel, Gameboard of the Gods. However, this is simply because I was not use to reading sex in her work. I will only talk briefly about the first novel since it has been some time since I have read it. However, this novel is a great introduction to the series. Mae and Justin have great chemistry and sexual tension. Of course I love that Mead always has her heroines save the male protagonist showing some role reversal. I like that they brought a Latino transfer student, Tessa, into RUNA (the future United States and Canada), and displayed her culture shock. Yet, a part of me feels like this section is even stronger because of all the immigration issues we are currently having in the United States, even though this was published three years before the Trump era began. As someone who has Mexican heritage it was nice to not read an all-white cast of character, and I believe Justin is part Chinese. Mead also does a wonderful job of combining science fiction and fantasy, and I love it when authors step out of their comfort zones.

I honestly cannot find many issues with the first novel. Mead is a great world builder, and her introduction novels are always very well written and organized. There is an action packed climax that is made for the big screen. The only issue I can see occurring with this series is that I am surprised Christian groups have not boycotted this novel because it maintains the theme of anti-religion.

The second novel The Immortal Crown I have some issues with, and this is mostly within Tessa’s chapters. In the first novel Tessa’s character is interesting because she deals with a new culture, her adjustment to society and finally being comfortable within it is boring. At first her I thought her section might become interesting because she might receive a love story, but this is quickly pushed aside for her to deal with the most annoying stereotypical reporter ever. Tessa does discover a major plot that will probably unfold in other novels, but she does something that makes this utterly pointless. (Sorry for the vagueness I am trying to remain spoiler free). Also the climax is not as action packed as the first novel, but still very good.

However, what Tessa’s story lacks is made up for in Mae and Justin’s side of the story. They travel to a country Arcadia (the south in the United States) where women are treated as second class citizens, sex slaves, and maids. Mae being a strong willed soldier has to adapt to this culture, and Mead plays it out in a fun but very feminist way. This country also worships a God that supposedly allows their women to be treated this way. Honestly, these sections where hard to read. They literally treated “their” women like punching bags. Yet, it is still educational because there was a time when women were regarded this way, and are still in certain cultures.

Finally, the final aspect of the novel I liked is Mae’s and Justin’s relationship. I cannot give too much away because this is in spoiler territory. It was nice to see an adult relationship play out and not have the “will they won’t they?” last more than two novels like it does in a young adult series.    

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