Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

I haven’t really been  to a Barnes & Noble in about 4 years. And all my readers out there know that I don’t mean I haven’t been inside one in 4 years. I haven’t sat for hours in a deliciously soft leather couch, with a sweating Java Chip Frap in one hand and a hardcover in the other, flipping through page after chapter after book to the tune of a soft banjo playing an indie beat through the speakers. Sounds amazing, right? 2015-07-08 14-50-27

Well, after 4 years, and a really crappy day at work, I drove over to the nearest Barnes & Noble and treated myself to that special “me-time”. I bought a lot of books that day… lol. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard was one of them.

I was drawn in by a promising beginning and an amazing reference from abookutopia on Youtube. She claimed it had one of the biggest plot twists she’d ever stumbled onto so I was intrigued.

The middle turned out to be ok. There were lots of awkward situations where I felt distant from the main character. It bothered me that she was placed in such an incredibly powerful position but instead of taking advantage of it, making friends of those around her (she’s not anti-social like Katniss), she instead chooses to skulk around and live in a state of perpetual fear. Yes, we’re seeing more “strong, female protagonists” in books these days, but why do they all have to be so…detached? Can’t we have a strong, female protagonist that uses charm to her advantage in difficult situations that she’s facing? Am I reaching for the stars?

Sadly, I knew about halfway through that I was going to be given a terrible ending. At least that met my expectations! 😦 I think the author lost touch of her characters’ personalities in her scramble to give us a plot twist. A good reader knows that anything is fair game if the characters no longer seem to be who they were at the beginning of the book… #disappointed

But hey, at least #therewasblood! (*cough cough* Breaking Dawn *cough cough*)

Have you read Red Queen? If so, what did you think of it? Did the plot twist take you by surprise? Did you feel like there were a lot of similarities between Red Queen and The Hunger Games? Let me know in the comments below!

Branching Out

Sara Sheikh, the owner of Covered Bliss, reached out to me not too long after our shoot together to ask me if I would shoot for Miss Lavalier. When I said yes to this shoot, I realized this wasn’t a onesie-twosie thing that I did randomly anymore. I was signing on to be a model.

While the first two shoots I’d done had provided a makeup artist, this shoot required that I do my own makeup. If you don’t already know, photo makeup is very different from day-to-day makeup. The lines of contouring have to be harsher, the colors you put on your face, brighter, and it takes more liner than you’re used to to make your eyes pop in a photo. It’s because photo makeup needs to catch light and dimension in your face that artificial light washes out. Needless to say, I watched a LOT of beauty makeup tutorials on Youtube to prepare…

The day of the shoot was stiflingly hot. We had problems with makeup melting, sweaty upper lips, & the unfortunate truth of modeling–it’s never seasonally appropriate. Especially when you wear modest attire. lol. The photographer was more laid-back and expected her models to do their own poses, which was a challenge, but I think the photos turned out quite nice, don’t you?

Check out their site at

Finding Modest Modeling

My next gig was Covered Bliss. It came around quite suddenly & out of the blue. I was speaking with the owner about becoming their Marketing Intern when our conversation got sidetracked. I love the company’s kaftans and told her about the several I owned. She asked me to post them and when I did she immediately asked me to model for the brand.

My parents were uneasy about the idea of modeling. Being a modest Muslim girl in today’s society is difficult to maintain and even more so in the modeling world. I had the same reservations but I was seeing a whole new area of the market opening up for modest modeling. Instagram and Youtube figures were making strides in the area of Islamically appropriate attire all the time. In the end, my parents had no objections to it as long as I stayed modest & didn’t cross the boundaries dictated by family and religion. I agreed.

The shoot took about 5 hours with makeup and outfit changes. Nida Rehman of Nida Rehman Photography was a big help with poses. She directed me completely on this shoot; she could see I knew nothing. I should’ve introduced myself as Jon Snow… lol. I also got to see some experienced models at the shoot. Dalia Kasseem, the face of Covered Bliss, was there, as was Leena, famously known on Instagram as iloveleena. Both girls knew how to pose and were able to shoot several more outfits than me in half the time. It was a great learning experience.

In the modeling world, connections are everything. In fact, my relationship with the owner of Sara Sheikh led me to my next shoot…

A new experience

You could say my shoot with Epsilon was my very first photo shoot. My company had sent out an email to “All Interested Parties”, telling us that they were looking for volunteers to be in some internal creatives they were producing for in-house marketing. I volunteered. And I loved it.

The kind, energetic photographer with his desire to tell a story about the happy, hardworking employees helped me give him what he wanted. Plus, he really loved that I had purposely selected an outfit that would create just the right amount of contrast in photos around the building.

He really wanted me to be myself and express myself and I, being a first-timer, couldn’t help but laugh every few seconds–I thought the whole thing ought to be considered silly. We had a long session because he was trying really hard to catch a particular moment. The moment right after a pose and right before my face contorted into a laugh. He wanted to catch the twinkle and the soft smirk that my brother loves to point out when he’s told a successful joke.

You tell me, did the photographer capture it?