And We’re Off | GRWM + Book Review

I’ve been a bad reader for the last few years, and I’ve used the excuse that I am both a picky reader and constantly busy doing something as a means to sort of justify my lack of reading more often over that time. Fortunately, as of late I’ve been reading a bit more, and so I have another book review for you.

And We’re Off, by Dana Schwartz is the story of a teen artist who’s about to go on the trip of a lifetime, the catch is, her estranged mother is going to be tagging along. Along the way, Nora enjoys the sights of Europe, while vaguely getting along with/fighting with her mother most of the book. Meet’s a boy who’s basically a womanizer, but that’s okay, and then, in the end, she sees her work in her grandfather’s latest art show.

Let me preface my review by saying it’s not a bad book. It’s not really my thing. The beginning hooked me just enough to string me along to the end, which I actually really liked and honestly salvaged my feelings about the story overall but there wasn’t much to it. It’s worth noting that this is (I would guess Literary Fiction) which frankly for me is hit or miss, so take this review with a grain of salt on that front. Obviously, I finished it (which is a feat when I don’t really care for a book).

Would I recommend it? If you like literary fiction, or family drama sagas, sure.

I’m going to update my review to a: 3.5/5 stars. Not bad. Not great. Another book I have read this year. 🙂

Welcome Back Cissa

I never wanted to stop blogging.

I never imagined that such a time would ever even exist, but the Universe has a way of bringing us where we need to be and along the way, some things, unfortunately, fall by the wayside. In the early days of starting on YouTube, I worked diligently to try and keep up with my regular blogging routine. I had been doing it for ten years after all, and I had only just gotten into the routine of doing it again. I had already put essays on hold, in favor of these vlogs, and podcasts. I couldn’t possibly put my blogging on hold too.

But there was a problem with all of this, in all of my worry about what I didn’t want to put on hold, I had without my even realizing it put something very important to me on hold. My novels. How had I not even noticed it? I thought to myself. I was so consumed with all of the things I needed to do for my platform that I had forgotten the whole reason I was creating the platform in the first place.

On the one hand, writers have more opportunities than ever to showcase our work and gain exposure, more so than ever before in history. In other ways, screaming into the void that is the internet can take a lot of work before it actually pays off, and as with anything sometimes trade-offs become inevitable, and so—I made a decision. I put blogging on hold.

For about three months.

It was sort of an indefinite timeline, and eventually, the pull to blog again was strong and I realized that there was a solution to all of my problems. A way to double my exposure with platforms I had already spent a decade creating. I had close to a hundred WordPress followers (down from well over 400 back before the blog name change) which meant at least a 100 new people who could potentially see my channel, and potentially subscribe, and potentially grow the power of Cissa! *muahahaha*

So here’s to coming back to blogging. To scheduling things in advance, and growing my platform.

She Done Already Done Brought it On – Drag Race Season 9 ep. 2 Review

popcultureNote: If you haven’t seen episode 2 season 9 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, do not read on. Spoilers ahead.

When I first heard the rumors that Cynthia was expected to return on Drag Race, I wasn’t sure I believed it, then at the end of episode 1, when Ru announced another queen was returning, I realized it was most definitely true, and I wasn’t mad about it. I didn’t dislike Cynthia on her season but I did wonder if perhaps it wouldn’t have been better to bring her back for the inevitable All Stars 3 instead?

This week’s episode, was all about cheer! And boy was it fun. There’s sonething about watching these queen’s doing some incredible stunts, probably more advanced than any other season, it was incredible, and a lot of fun, though I definitely thought between her runway and her overall presentation Shea should have won the episode. I’m really living for her looks and I think she could go pretty far.

The runway this week was white party, which brought out some gorgeous and interesting outfits to say the least, my favorite look of the evening had to be Charlie’s winter goddess look, it was absolutely stunning and I can’t wait to see the next look she pulls out on Friday.

ELIMINATION–

I can’t say I was surprised by the bottom two. I was predicting Jaymes would go home for most of the previous week, because well, exactly the reasons given. She wasn’t showing much energy. I’d like to see her outside of the competition, I think she might be interesting and/or funny, but unfortunately for her we didn’t get to see that on this season. Truthfully I feel like the lip sync this week was lackluster on both parties part, but I think what saved Kimora was using more of the stage. Love Shack seems definitely like a more difficult song to do, but I could have done with some more energy from bother performers.

The Phones I’ve Loved and Lost

techSince 2010, I have owned and enjoyed to varying degrees, eight phones over the last seven years, three of which were non-Apple related phones. The Windows Phone first caught my attention, with Metro UI and live tiles. I had been on the iPhone since the iPhone 3G. But something about the idea of the live tiles spoke to me deeply. On paper it was a dream. In practice however, the Windows Phone seldom lived up to its promise. It was a beautiful phone, and it offered me a different look from what I had become accustomed to in the last two iPhones. But the love affair was short lived. A lack of apps, combined with the reality that live tiles were never quite as lively as they should have been, and adding that almost no one I knew actually had such a phone, I inevitably ended up back with the iPhone 5s.

But by the 6, almost a year and a half later, I found myself bored again, and during my next upgrade availability I decided to try for something new. Something fresh. Windows Phone had been a disaster, and unfortunately for them, their sales followed suit. As admittedly something of an Apple elitist, I had never considered Android a viable option. From purely a design perspective, there was always something about the look of Android that I could never quite get over. Recently I read a quote in which someone called Android, ‘a face only an engineer could love,’ in it’s early days. And that was most certainly true in the earliest days of the OS. Then Lollipop happened. The inevitable answer to iOS 7, and yet, honestly the better of the two. The flat design craze had met a formidable partner in Lollipop, and it was the first time that I considered the possibility of making the switch.

Like the Windows Phone before it, I suddenly found myself overwhelmed with choice. The LG G4, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, were the top contenders. I had been edged away from HTC from others’ experiences with it, and I had all but forgotten about the One Plus as even being an option as I was doing my research. I had never particularly cared for the look of other Samsung Galaxy phones, but the Note was simple enough that I thought I might enjoy it. I think the S-pen was really what got me (for as much as I used it). The Android experience was an enjoyable one, but somewhere the siren call of the iPhone called to me again with the 6s+, and I found myself falling back into it’s clutches for at least the next two phone cycles until this past year when I finally decided to check out the phone that I had heard so much about across the Android blogosphere. The One Plus 3T. Even though it’s still early days, and it won’t be long now before we’re looking at an entirely new One Plus phone, I actually really love it. It has an incredible camera and light feel, and for the first time my mother is even considering leaving iPhone for this phone. There are definitely some design features they could update, but it’s a solid phone with a beautiful interface and I’m appreciating the customization ability more and more the longer I have it.

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit – mid Review

day4A few weeks ago I promised that I would be going through my reading list based on an Instagram pic I took of my bookshelf all color coded. I promised to start with the first book in black Six of Crows, but for one reason or another I wasn’t feeling that book when I started reading it, so I decided to switch instead, to a random pick, one I had picked up (or rather my boyfriend picked up for me) for my birthday.

This actually is one of my favorite stories I’ve read in a minute (probably since If I Were Your Girl), it’s the story of a lesbian high school student, who’s Christian radio minister father moves her to a small town in Georgia because of his new wife. As with If I Were Your Girl, it seems like for the most part everyone is pretty on board with her, her father is super cool about it, his new wife is super cool about it, and she’s fallen in love with a girl at her new school after promising her father she would lay low in exchange for her own radio show.

9780062270986_p0_v1_s192x300

Enter a caption

I’m a little more than mid-way through the book at this point (290 of 419) and I absolutely love it, it’s got a great friendship, and an amazing storyline thus far and I can’t wait to finish it.

glass5

I’m giving it 5/5 glasses for just being great, and building the gay tension like the best sort of fan fiction. I’ll update this post once I’ve finished reading it.

Notes on a Transition

day7Over the weekend Apple released the Public Beta for macOS: Sierra, as a huge Apple fan, and someone who loves to be on the cutting edge of technology, I downloaded it the day it was available. Being in beta format however means that this is not the solid software one would generally expect of a public release. It can be buggy and certain features may not work properly because it isn’t the ‘final version’ of the software. (I realize while writing this the metaphor for my transition).


I love to jot down notes. Scribbling thoughts and ideas that come to mind; were computer files, physical scraps of paper, I would likely be buried in hundreds upon hundreds of pages of just different notes. Notes for stories, notes for parts of a series, notes on my thoughts about relationships in general, my dislike of certain authors, my transition and everything in between. This also means that, try though I might, I’m not as organized with these notes as I’d like to be, but over the weekend as I backed up my computer (admittedly after installing the beta version of macOS Sierra), I started looking at some of my notes, and organizing them into a larger Scrivener file with some of my thoughts and ideas, and possible blog posts for the future.

It was interesting seeing some of my thoughts and notes from early in my transition,. There were times that felt like I was never going to be able to fully accomplish my transition because it felt so overwhelming that I didn’t even know where to begin. Now with two years of full time experience under my belt and the plethora of knowledge that goes with being in transition for the better part of three years now, I know now that there is no right or wrong way to begin. Transitioning is a personal experience, it’s something we all have to come to on our own terms, in our on ways, and in our own time. For me, the start of my journey was my full time experience because it was something I could do without having to ask anyone’s permission.

I didn’t need any letters, I didn’t really need a great deal of money, it was just in starting small, and living my life. Eventually after I got a job I was able to afford my name change, and to really feel like I was beginning my transition. Changing my name and gender marker along with starting hormones gave me a new lease on my life that I hadn’t fully realized it would. Reading my notes there’s a part of me that wants to tell myself that even though it’s going to take time (and patience isn’t your strong suit), that this experience sort of helps with that. I realize however that these experiences with my transition have made me the person I am today.

#MakeupMonday Mini MAC Haul

mon_Mon#MakeupMonday

I_transp‘m not really a makeup blogger so my haul isn’t going to be as major as some of theirs are, but I did just buy a few new goodies online from MAC including the Caitlyn Jenner ‘Finally Free’ although I wrote about that a few Mondays ago. However I thought I’d showcase a little look at two lip colors I purchased and talk a little bit about a new foundation I picked up.

FOUNDATION:

I’m a huge fan of MAC’s Pro-Longwear Foundation, there’s something about crème based foundations that I’ve always found particularly amazing, and there’s something in particular about the Pro-Longwear line that I just really love, that said, as someone who is more than occasionally self conscious (even as I am doing Laser Hair Removal) of the shadow on my upper lip, I felt that a full coverage crème foundation would be just the ticket to covering it up.

One of the things that I love about the Pro-Longwear foundation is that it glides onto my skin and matches my skin tone perfectly. One of the things I hate… I go through it crazy fast! I generally have to buy a new one about every two weeks. Which seems crazy, to me. The good and the bad of the full coverage foundation seems to be that it’s much thicker so it goes a bit further than it’s pro-longwear sheer counterpart, which means it seems to cover more with less (so in theory I won’t go through it as fast). The downside is, when I use my beauty blender to apply  it (or knockoff that is) and I know I’m not quite using it right because I’m dragging it across my skin (rather than dabbing it), and it’s a little rough at times. (I wouldn’t actually need to do this if I took more time with my makeup routine but who wants to get up like 40 minutes early if they don’t have to? I can do my face in 10 minutes).

LIPS:

I’ve been looking at MAC’s Velvetease Lip Pencils for some time now, and so when I finally decided to pick one up it was between ‘Just add Romance’ (which can we not with these names?) and ‘Temper Tantrum’ now there were a few reasons why that was the obvious choice, but also because I had just picked up Brooke Candy for MAC in a brilliant red called Mind Control, so it seemed like, do I really need another red? I probably should have gotten a nude color, but I like this orangey coral just the same.

I also purchased Mind Control by Brooke Candy for MAC, which is one of the few non-matte colors I have of any lipstick. The only other one that I can think of off hand is Finally Free, by Caitlyn Jenner for MAC. Mind Control is a brilliantly sickening bright red that looks absolutely divine with just about everything. I’m generally a huge fan of red lipstick but this one is quickly becoming a particular favorite, even if not a matte.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 8: A Review

days2 copy

*fangirl screaming in the distance*

Okay this isn’t really trans specific necessarily, but as a huge fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and being there have been several trans performers to come out of the show, I think today is as good a day as any to do a little review (or RuView if you prefer) of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 8 and the 100th episode!

This season is going to be particularly interesting because it’s only 12 queen’s instead of the normal 14.

There are a few queens I think I’m going to be very impressed by this season, already, Acid Betty, Kim Chi, and Bob the Drag Queen, are all my top three. For the mini challenge, Ru had the queens do a photoshoot with the previous 8 winners (minus Bianca, who had probably a tour going on). I can’t imagine being that queen who was too busy for RuPaul, but if anyone would be it, it’s Bianca.

Of all the mini challenges they’ve had over the past 7 seasons (plus All Stars), I think this is far and away my favorite. It’s such a brilliant idea gathering all of the winners and saying okay, you think you’re the best, and you’re worthy to sit here next to these winners. Prove it.

Then came the main challenge. Again, by far my favorite main challenge because it pulled from the main challenges of all the other seasons minus All-Stars and I think nothing of season 1 was really used. It’s brilliant to take everyone’s favorite challenges from the past seven seasons and make the different queens show what they could do with them. As expected, Acid Betty, Kim Chi, and Bob turned it with their looks. Part of what I loved about it was seeing newer queen’s take on these iconic challenges. In some ways these led to exciting recreations or interpretations. Acid Betty’s take on the Money Ball was sickening, and Kim Chi’s Hair Ball look was everything. Even the Gone with the Window look Bob turned out was stunning. Naturally there were a few flops, Robbie Turner’s Bitch Ball outfit (who, I’m looking forward to in spite of this slip) left a lot to be desired. Some of the outfits were less memorable although I will say Thorgy Thor’s Cake challenge outfit was gorgeous. Particularly considering that red velvet cake was what sent Stacey Lane Mathews Home in season 3.

In the end the bottom two came down to Laila McQueen and Naysha Lopez, and one queen has already sashayed away. (I won’t spoil it here).

PS: I’m not sure whether or not this is going to become a regular Trans Tuesday thing or if it’s just a one time deal.

Reading Flynn: Chapters 1-2

Summary: 

Chapter One: Libby learns she’s out of money and agrees to meet with a club obsessed with the murder of her family, for a price of course.

Chapter Two: Patty Day, (Libby’s mother) makes breakfast for her kids and discovers her teenage son has dyed his hair.

Thoughts: 

Barely a few pages in and I’m already enjoying this a lot better than I enjoyed the Corrections. Told in the first person (which is an interesting change and a tactic that for me either works or fails miserably, there is no in between). In third person you can not like the character and it doesn’t much matter, but in first, when the narrator is literally who you interact with in such an intimate way, to hate them, truly hate them in the way I detested every character in the Corrections, it wouldn’t work. Had the story been told by Chip, or Gary, or Enid, or any of the loathsome characters it would have been if possible more intolerable than it already was. In the case of Dark Places however, at least thus far, Libby Day appears to be far more interesting to follow around, and a much better narrator. Though I suspect (two chapters in as of this writing), not a particularly reliable one.

The book is broken up between the past and present with the first chapter showing present day Libby, and chapter two showcasing life before the murder that took her family. This particular idea, breaking up the book between the past and present can be tricky, but I actually really love it as a storytelling tactic, and it works particularly well for this story. It’s worth noting that not only does the story slip into the past, it slips almost imperceptibly into the third person in chapter two, and back into first with chapter three.

I’m really pleasantly surprised with Dark Places, thus far. Libby isn’t necessarily the hero of our story, I’m willing to guess she’s more of an anti-hero, and yet, she’s fascinating in a sort of Lisabeth Salander way that makes you curious to see what she’s going to do next.

Reading Flynn: Pre-Thoughts

readingflynn

This month, as part of my reading authors I would not normally look into/Devillicious Book Club I’ve decided to take on Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places. Unlike Franzen, and a good majority of the authors on this list, I don’t have any issue with Flynn personally. The reason she’s on the list at all is because I didn’t really understand the hype that surrounded Gone Girl, nothing about it really struck me as something I would enjoy, I don’t really read crime fiction, or thrillers, but I realize that in order to write a thriller one ought to have a familiarity with the genre. Part of the reason I think Gone Girl didn’t feel to me like the sort of story I wanted to read was because from what I sort of gleaned about it from hearing vaguely about it, everywhere, I sort of got the impression that it was a sort of Franzen-esque lovers quarrel type story and I really wasn’t interested in that. Now of course, much later I’ve come to learn that this isn’t the case at all, but for this particular project that I’m doing I really wanted to go with a bit of a lesser known work or at least lesser talked about work. Dark Places happened to be recommended to me by a close friend, and it happened to also be one of three books currently available by this author and only one of two that isn’t as hyped as Gone Girl.

According to it’s back cover blurb on BN.com Dark Places is about:

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

Because Dark Places is 43 chapters long, and there are only really 12 post days between Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in February I’ll be reviewing 3 chapters at a time.