How could you be so Heartless?

If you’ve not read Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, I greatly urge you to do so. I’ve always been a sucker for a good fairytale retelling. I’m still obsessed with Ella Enchanted. Meyer’s does wonders blending sci-fi and fantasy together in hers. 

Beyond her Lunar Chronicles series, Meyer’s new book, Heartless, does not disappoint. How did the Queen of Hearts find her catchphrase “OFF WITH HIS HEAD!”? We are given the thrilling experience of finding out.

love Catherine, with her kind yet passionate nature and strong sense of purpose. I found Jest to be a bit odd but I grew to like him, as I grew to like his whole tea party of friends. In a topsy-turvy world on the other side of Wonderland, Meyer ingeniously made me love a story I’ve never been fond of before. How? She has a very clear understanding of her characters and their actions and growth throughout the story feels devastatingly true. 

I swear to you, readers, I read the whole thing in 12 hours straight. No bathroom breaks or meals. 5pm to 5am. It was a whirlwind. And when destiny came knocking, I found myself sobbing. That’s how invested I was. At 4am, I was crying in big heaving sobs. By the end, I was an emotional wreck; my chest aching, hollow. 

Looking again at the title of the book, I have to ask, who does Meyer leave heartless? Because I could have sworn it was me.


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Caution: Banned Books found here

Hey Readers,

I’ve been feeling rebellious recently. Maybe it’s because the days are growing shorter (what a phrase! Growing shorter?) and the nights are increasingly darker as winter arrives. Or maybe it’s my dark lipstick and makeup’s bad influence? Whatever it may be, I’m in the mood for a little rebellion. If you’re right there with me, take a stab at confronting censorship head on. Grab one of these banned books at your local library or bookstore.

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Native Son by Richard Wright –I wouldn’t read this book after dark. It gets pretty gruesome!
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak –Baffled? So was I. The dark themes of the story made quite a few people nervous about making this available to children.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

You can do a little jig walking down the sidewalk ‘cuz you’ve stuck it to the Man–and also because you know you’re in for a treat tonight. Nothing is better than cozying up in your thickest knit, a cup of coffee by your side, and a forbidden fruit–i mean, book–in hand.

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Freedom of speech is a big deal in America, but too often we glaze over it when it happens in our very own communities. The media’s pushing soundbites like little pills in the playground. You laugh, but take a minute to think about it. Are these really just succinct phrases that embody a complete whole? Can we say for sure that our outlook on issues and people in the news isn’t being skewed by these censored bits and pieces? Because that’s really what a soundbite is–censorship at its trendiest.

Do you agree? Where else do you see censorship at work? Next time you see it, call it out, and think about why it’s happening. Then, go out and get educated. That’s the only way to fight this particular illness, the symptoms of which are ignorance and gullibility.

Go Set a Watchman

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Harper Lee’s second, and last novel Go Set A Watchman was received with mixed reviews by the critics. My favorite part had to be what made others cringe the most. The complete deconstruction of the one character most near and dear to our hearts, Atticus Finch. Over time, Atticus has become the epitome of a great father and a just and fair lawyer. Lee takes this man who so many have put on a pedestal, and through Scout’s eyes, bring that pedestal crashing down on all of us.

Just like Scout, we had to come to terms with the fact that no man, not even Atticus Finch, is perfectly just, perfectly good. To hold anyone on a pedestal like that is a form of worship, not admiration, and worshiping humans is a dangerous thing.

While I, ever the cynical one, could see the “fall from grace” a long time coming, it took Uncle Jack’s unnervingly winding conversations with her to get her to realize that it’s OK. Everyone has their own opinions and they may be right, they may be wrong, or they may just be different from your own, but that does not mean you have to cut them out of your life for having those opinions. You choose the battles you fight. You don’t choose the battles for you likelihood of winning, you choose them for the benefit of those voiceless whom you choose to represent.

Interestingly enough, Lee’s novel was released amidst intense controversy over the Confederate flag & several celebrated pro-slave historical statues around the USA. A considerable piece of that argument had to do with why the Civil War even happened. Was it just to preserve slavery? Or was there another reason that so many in the South chose to fight and die by the swords of their brothers in the North?

While the country fought over whether these symbols were actively encouraging acts of racism and discrimination or simply relics of the Civil War and Southern Pride, Scout Finch and Uncle Jack fought over the after-effects of the South losing that war and the reality that Atticus was NOT color-blind as Scout claims to be. I must admit, while at first, I strongly sided with those calling for the removal of the Confederate flag and statues from their government building, after reading Go Set A Watchman, I really understood the other side’s argument–or what it should have been, anyways.

I agree with the critics, it will not be a classic like To Kill A Mockingbird. But it was one hell of a good read.

An Exercise in Directing

Last weekend, I held a photo shoot with a new, up-and-coming line of elegant evening wear, Soiree. Knowing that this was their first time investing in a model and photo shoot, I brought a ton of fun accessories that I thought might come in handy. We were all beyond excited at how well they worked with the outfits.

In fact, I was given a lot of leeway on what we did with the shoot. I got a chance to really let my creative juices flow. I played with color contrast, shapes and got more into character for each article of clothing I put on. The geometric shapes on one dress felt like something a confident woman with places to go would wear. I felt like Serena Van der Woodsen in the more flowy gowns, a slightly detached “It Girl”. I hope I communicated that feeling in my modeling.

I love being spontaneous and think pictures come out best when they capture those moments, so I tried that. However, I took my spontaneity down a notch, letting the photographer know what I planned to do before I did it so she could find the best angle for the picture I was imagining. We had a lot of fun; like in my shoot with Miss Lavaliere, I was again scaring away cute little animals… Seems to be a trend. This time it was a group of little pigeons that had taken refuge in the fountain near us. lol.

Hair & Makeup by Me
Clothing courtesy of Soiree.

What do you guys think? Yay or nay?

 

The Girl On The Train

Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train is as eerie and unsettling as the blackouts we experience with Rachel, the main character. Hawkins’ novel plays with unreliable narratives, shifting POVs, and time skips to amplify the book’s building suspense. A true crime novel has a red herring or two and The Girl on the Train has several.

I wasn’t a huge fan of how Rachel would often describe events in the passive tense. Granted, it was a clever little way to express Rachel’s passivity and sadly pathetic state–i just didn’t love reading it all the time. Especially when it popped up in stressful, action-packed moments of the novel.

Like Red Queen I didn’t see the ending coming. Unlike Red Queen I was pleasantly surprised after the reveal. The clues were all there but carefully couched in trivial details, unsuspecting, waiting to come to the forefront like those optical illusions where the image is revealed only after you’re told what you should be seeing.

And the very last few pages of the book…HAUNTING.

I’d give it a solid 4 stars. Gone Girl was better. 😉

A Study in Hues

My latest photo shoot was a makeup one. A budding bridal makeup artist wanted to see how her art looks in photos so she hired Beenaz Photography for the shoot. Beena, whom I worked with on the Miss Lavalier shoot (see here), was kind enough to recommend me.

A bridal look isn’t just makeup though; the stylist provided all the jewelry for both looks as well.  I’ve gotten my makeup done for my sisters’ weddings so I know that it takes a while and you have to be still, but I’d never been in the position of the BRIDE. Makeup can take ages for them! I never realized! Also, setting spray is a life saver, especially in the heat. I’ll have to invest in some for my next shoot.

Beena also had a serious conversation with me on posing for shots. We decided that it was time for me to take the wheel with modeling. She encouraged me to begin working on poses and coming up with some of my own. I’ve got a few in my back pocket now, Beena!

So back to the shoot. I loved how the skin glows in these photos. What do you think, readers? I’ll be sure to send back any feedback to the artist! 🙂

Makeup by Sidra

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 http://www.misslavalier.com/

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?