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Action-packed, full of socio-political commentary and witty humor, Victoria Aveyard's The Red Queen is an enjoayble read. The world where the novel is set is extensively developed by Aveyard, who expertly conveys the complexity of its society. The novel is set in a futuristic dystopia, where people are divided into two groups: the “Reds”, who have red-colored blood, and the “Silvers”, who have silver-colored blood. The Silvers rule society and are considered the superior race, having evolved to the point of developing superpowers. The main character, Mare, is a Red who discovers she has superpowers. When everyone in the royal court ends up witnessing her powers, the royal family forces her to undertake a new identity as a Silver, since a Red with superpowers could destabilize the social balance. Forced to pretend to be the long-lost daughter of a noble Silver family that had died years ago, Mare must keep up her facade or risk the deadly consequences.
As a fan of the fantasy/dystopian fiction genre, I really enjoyed The Red Queen. Personally, I love books that are set in an interesting and different world and have fierce main characters, which I guess is partly why I liked it so much. Readers who liked The Hunger Games, Graceling, The Grisha and/or Seraphina are likely to also appreciate this debut novel by Victoria Aveyard. If, like me, you are fond of novels with a quick-paced, compelling plot, and relatable characters, I fully recommend The Red Queen!
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I remember when Dairy Queen’s Free Cone Day was a time for fun and relaxation. A chance to rest from work, forget about trouble, and just enjoy free ice cream with my son, Jamie. I now look at a screen with plane departures, and, knowing that today is Free Cone Day, all I can focus on is time. It’s 10:30 in the morning, and I’m sitting right next to the love of my life, contemplating the screen and dreading the time she’ll have to cross the airport security gate. Angela’s plane takes off in one more hour. That means I get only a few more minutes with her until she leaves on her business trip. From here, the next thing to do is go straight to Dairy Queen, join my sister and Jamie for a free ice cream cone, and take my son home so he can do his homework and I can finish my own. My boss currently has me up and down, working my life off. Sadly, I can’t believe I’m not really looking forward to the ice cream. It just feels like another part of the day I’ve already fully planned even if it’s barely 10:30 in the morning. This does not look like a fun Sunday.
As soon as I feel Angela holding my hand, my head becomes clear and my eyes drift away from the screen. I look down to our hands, her left on top of my right. I notice the diamond ring, and a whole other train of thought comes to mind. That ring has been in her hand for six months now, but, with all that’s been going on, we haven’t been able to set anything for the wedding. Whether it is her job or my job or Sylvia or Jamie, we never get to talk about it. I’m really worried about it, yet it seems neither of us is hurrying to actually get anything done. I deviate my gaze from Angela’s hand and look into her wide brown eyes. She’s looking straight ahead at the gate and seems to be calm. I wonder if she’s as worried about everything as I am. There are only a few minutes left before she leaves; I should probably take advantage of them.
“I’m really gonna miss you, Angela,” I say.
She turns to look at me with a sweet, comforting smile. “So will I, baby.”
“You know, this is the longest we’ll be away from each other since we got engaged.”
“Hey, you’re right. Gosh, I don’t think I’ll be able to stand it. I guess I’ll just end up hopping on the next plane back once I get there.”
We both smile. “You know,” I continue. “Do you remember the day I proposed to you?”
“How could I forget it!” She looks into the horizon and mimics the scene as she describes it. “The soft lights, the violin, the stars shining, my favorite spaghetti recipe, the ring in the cheesecake… It was truly a magical night!”
The image of this perfect evening eases my thoughts. “It truly was. You know, that whole date wasn’t my original plan.”
“Really? How come?”
“Well, my plan was to propose during last year’s Free Cone Day. You know, take a walk, have some ice cream, and pop the question… Of course it wasn’t as special, it wouldn’t have―”
“Honey, I would have loved that, too! Anything would have been perfect! It’s us being together that makes it special.”
“You’re right, baby,” I conclude. “You know, today’s Free Cone Day.”
“Yeah, I realized. I’m very sorry I won’t be here for it. I know it’s a special day for all of us.”
“Yeah, that’s very true. It does kinda suck that you won’t be with us for that. Anyway, so, today is Free Cone Day, right? That means it’s been one year since we could have been engaged, you know.”
She looks at me suspiciously. “Where are you going with that?”
“Nothing, it’s just that, you know, we could have been engaged for a year instead of half. Do you think that would have made any difference?”
“Well, it’s just that we don’t have much ready for our wedding. We don’t even have a date! It all just seems like I haven’t done enough , that’s all.”
“Listen, Max. It’s not your fault that our wedding preparations are not exactly coming together. Don’t blame yourself for it. There’s always something in the way, and I understand that. I mean, wasn’t last year’s Free Cone Day, the day you were going to propose, the same day Sylvia showed up on your doorstep?”
“Yeah, that was an unlucky day for us all.”
“See? It’s not for lack of trying. We are doing the best we can. Besides, I don’t mind if it takes us three months or seven years to get married. What matters is that we’re together. You, me, and little Jamie are already a family. Sure, I’d like to be able to call you my husband, but this we have here is a great arrangement.”
This is why I love her. She always makes me feel better.
“Speaking of arrangements,” she continues. “Is Jamie with Sylvia?”
“Oh, yeah, sorry I couldn’t bring him. You know he stays with Sylvia every weekend.”
“Yeah, I figured. Then again, why does she have custody over him?”
“She doesn’t actually. It’s just that I want Jamie to spend time with his mother,” I respond before noticing some concern in Angela’s eyes. “I know she doesn’t deserve it after abandoning us and whatnot, but I just can’t deprive my son from getting to know his own mother.”
“I understand,” she responds.
I see the concern hasn’t left her eyes. “Still, you know he would have loved to be here to say goodbye.” I’m not sure if this is entirely true, though. Jamie adores Angela, but he’s been acting a bit weird with regards to her lately. I can’t tell her this. It would break her heart, and I care too much about her to do that.
We both look at the screen and see it’s time for her to leave. We get up and move towards the security gate, holding hands, knowing we won’t be seeing each other for a month. Just before she walks away from me, she starts speaking again. “You know, maybe I can check out a few places while I’m over there. Who knows if our dream salon is just a plane ride away?”
We both laugh and stand still for a few moments. We share a small kiss, and she finally lets go of my hand.
“I love you, Max.”
“I love you, too.”
At this point, my left leg starts to tremble. It always does when I’m nervous or anxious. She walks away, and a last sight of her lush, dark hair leaves me in a bittersweet comfort.
Now that Angela’s gone, it’s time to proceed with my schedule, only now it doesn’t feel so aggravating. As soon as I’m in my car, on the road, and on my way, I decide to give my sister, Bonnie, a call to make sure Jamie’s with her. It’s time for the three of us to have some fun at the Dairy Queen’s Free Cone Day extravaganza.
“Hello, who this?” she answers.
“Hey, Bonnie, it’s your brother. Who else could it be?”
“Well, let me tell you, silly sire, that I am popular as can be. You see, we successful personalities of the art industry are in possession of phones often saturated with calls from only the most recognized of celebrities and spokespeople.”
“Yeah, sure. Anyway, are you at Dairy Queen already?”
“Yes, man. There’s nothing that could make me miss today.”
“Great, sis. Hey, how’s Jamie treating you? Is he being nice today?”
“Well, I’m gonna have to say he is, you know, considering he is not with me.”
My heart sinks with despair. I knew the feeling of comfort wouldn’t last long. “What do you mean he’s not with you? Where is he then?”
I guess she can notice the panic in my voice. “I don’t know, Max, I haven’t seen him since last week.”
“What are you talking about? Sylvia was supposed to drive him to your apartment this morning so you could take him to Dairy Queen!”
“Well she obviously didn’t, Mr. Father of the Year.”
My immediate response is to step hard on my brakes and bring the car to a halt. My second thought is to turn around and head straight to Sylvia’s house.
I forget Bonnie is still on the phone. “Young sir,” I hear her say, “are you driving while on the phone? What kind of irrespon―”
“Bonnie, I’m gonna have to hang up. I’ll see you later.” I hang up before she even answers. Right now, my only goal is to get to Sylvia’s house and find out what is going on.
As I race to my destination, a string of thoughts comes to mind. First, I am consumed by rage at Sylvia’s lack of commitment. I am furious at how I’ve allowed her to be with Jamie when she can’t seem to honor her part of the agreement. Why am I even letting her see him, anyway? It’s not like I owe her anything. She abandoned us for a stupid lawyer. She left us. And, then, just last year, she dared to walk up to my door and come back into our lives. She just ruined everything again. I could have been married now. I could have been living happily with my son and Angela, not having to deal with a selfish ex-wife. Instead, I get a rehashed soap opera storyline.
It takes me a while before I cool down and remember what I told Angela earlier. Why am I even letting her see him? I’m not doing this for her. I’m not doing her any favors. I’m doing this for my son, my Jamie, so he can get to know her. I want my son to know where he comes from. I don’t want him to suffer having an estranged parent. It would be too hard on him. I’m doing this for Jamie. He deserves to know his mother. Besides, I don’t think Sylvia meant to keep Jamie from going to Dairy Queen. Maybe they just lost track of time.
By the time I arrive at Sylvia’s house, I am calm again. I park with ease in front of her house, hop off my car, and walk to the main door. I am relaxed, ready to hear and understand the reasons for this misunderstanding. As I am about to knock on the door, however, I manage to overhear the conversation Sylvia’s having with my son.
“So, Jamie, what do we call a woman like Angela?”
And out of my seven year old’s mouth comes a four letter word I prohibit even myself from saying. The word alone has enough weight; it’s enough to make me feel offended. The fact that it’s being used to describe the love of my life infuriates me. The fact that it’s being said by my innocent, little Jamie leaves me breathless and drowns me in rage. The fact that it was Sylvia who taught him such a thing sends me off into a spiral of wrath that brings all my emotions together and ties them up nicely with a shiny, blood red ribbon.
I open the door without asking and admire my ex-wife sitting by the dining table, with my son on her lap. Without knowing what my next move will be, I sternly put words together in a simple sentence. “Jamie, please get in the car.” I guess he can sense my state given how he sprints outside without even looking at his mother. As soon as he’s gone, I direct my gaze at Sylvia. She sits still, fear in her piercing blue eyes. I somehow manage to pull myself together and start talking.
“Listen to me, you self-righteous, impulsive, abandoning witch. Our deal’s off. I tried to be kind and reasonable, but it appears that’s just not how it rolls with you. If I ever see you anywhere near my son or fiancée, I will sue you for abandonment and make sure you end up alone, with nobody and nothing to soothe your sorry existence.” I am not angry anymore. It’s a sudden determination to make things right that is giving me the energy for this conversation.
Sylvia gets up and responds rigidly. “You’re crazy if you think I’m gonna give up my child that easily. You can’t take him away from me! I’ll do everything to make sure he’s still my child.”
“That’s where you’ve gotten it wrong. He’s not yours. You gave up your right to care about him long ago.”
“Think about what this is gonna do to him! If you take him away from me, he’ll never have a mother, and he will resent you for it.”
My answer to that comes out naturally. “Angela and I may not be married, but the three of us are a family now. She’ll be a better mother than you ever were or ever will be, and there’s nothing you can do that will break us apart.”
“I won’t give up my child without a fight.”
“I guess I’ll see you in court, then.”
Before Sylvia can respond to my remark, I turn around and leave the house. My left leg should be trembling now. I just declared war on my ex-wife; that’s more than enough reason to be nervous. Yet, my leg is perfectly fine. I’m not nervous. I’m determined to end my relationship with Sylvia, whatever shape it has taken, and start a new phase of my life with Angela and my son.
I hop in my car and see my son through the rearview mirror. He seems calm, so I think this is a good moment to set things straight.
“Jamie, do you truly believe what you said of Angela?”
My little boy looks up innocently and eases my worry. “No, Daddy. I don’t even know what that word means.”
“Good. Please don’t say it again, okay?
“Also, how do you feel about me and Angela getting married?”
“I can’t wait for us to live together!”
“All three of us?”
“All three of us!”
This is a moment where all my fears seem to evaporate. I suddenly remember what Free Cone Day’s really about. It’s not supposed to be a burden, just another part of my schedule. It’s a day to bring family together and enjoy being with those close to us.
“Let’s get some ice cream, shall we?” I finally propose.
“I’d love that!”
I don’t know how long this feeling of bliss is going to last, but I will enjoy every second of it. As I start the engine, I begin to think of the future. I imagine a future where Angela, Jamie, and I are together, where just being by their side is enough to chase all my worries away. As soon as I start driving away from Sylvia’s house, I think of a future where I’ve finally gotten closure from the years of lost hope, the years before I met my angel. I think of a future where the shadow of Sylvia has finally disappeared and all there is to worry about is writing my wedding vows.
And I can’t help but smile.
Would you ever suspect that rich stockbrokers have the unique hobby of throwing midgets at a bullseye in the middle of their company in New York? Well, that is only one of the many peculiar events that happen in the almost three hour long comedy that has shocked the world. The story of Jordan Belfort’s rise to success and turn into an international criminal told in The Wolf of Wall Street is certainly one of the most intense movies of the twenty-first century. With countless reasons to be rated R, the plot narrates Jordan’s multiple addictions as he becomes one of the wealthiest people in America. A stunning performance by Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, and Matthew McConaughy the movie is surely unforgettable for those who have the stomach to watch it.
From a garage in a small town in Long Island, with a team of eight men who had no clue of what the stock market was, Jordan founded Stratton Oakmont and took over Wall Street. He creates the company, designs the logo, and trains his assortment of highly unqualified waiters, gang members, drug dealers, mechanics, and nerds to become the best sellers of stock to ever rule Wall Street. As his fame increases, so do his addictions: women, drugs, and alcohol. His young, blooming smile turned to dilated pupils and constant drooling that just broke my heart. Was it money, ambition, stress, or both that trapped his young soul to the vices of mankind? Was it his work that made him succumb to the easing of the mind through unscrupulous means, or would his ambitious personality have done that regardless?
So, if you meet the age requirement and want something to do for three hours, watch The Wolf of Wall Street and learn how to become successful in the stock market with the help of anyone you find on the street! Well, keeping in mind that being “successful” includes being chased by the feds and going to jail.
Expressing deep frustration with the the former PT government, God, Supreme Creator of the Multiverse, reportedly decided to call forth the power of electricity and strike down Dilma Rouseff, Brazil’s beleaguered president today. According to eyewitnesses, Rousseff was climbing the Empire State building in New York to prove herself to the UN when a lightning bolt struck her, causing her skeleton to become instantly visible and her internal organs to immediately explode. The result, depending on who one talks to, was either horrifying or delightful: Rouseff fell over 100 stories and splattered on the concrete, leaving a huge mess for the good garbage men of NYC to clean up. After all the blood and entrails had been scraped off the sidewalk, God released the following statement to the press through his spokesperson, archangel Gabriel:
“Today I had the privilege to electrocute Dilma Rousseff with my divine powers. It was pretty awesome. I haven’t had this much fun since JFK! Anyways, politics is great, especially when you’re a god! And for those of you are worried, Dilma’s definitely going to hell. Peace out.”