Sunday, September 27, 2015

Last Sunday Snapshot for September

Thor has his Halloween costume ready!

Currently reading:

Flight of Magpies by KJ Charles–I wonder if Stephen will ever actually agree to leave England.

Movies watched:

art and craft movie poster
Art and Craft, starring Mark A. Landis

A profile of one of the most prolific art forgers in US history. What makes Landis unique–aside from his remarkable talent for copying works of art–is that he doesn't do it for the money. Since he donates all his forgeries, he's not even technically committing a crime. Landis is a weird little dude (imagine a cross between Truman Capote and Norman Bates and you have a good idea of how he comes across) and not charismatic by any means, but still surprisingly sympathetic. Despite his myriad Issues, he has a quirky sense of humor and an undiluted passion for art. There's not a mean-spirited bone in his body, but like any artist he wants to share his work with others. Recommend this one for people who enjoy films about art crime! I think I might have even spotted Robert K Wittman in there.

Subscription boxes:

stunner of the month

I know this will shock y'all, but I signed up for another subscription box. This one is called Stunner and it sends one pair of sunglasses every month. Yes, sunglasses! It seemed like a good idea at the time. However, I didn't really like the style of the sunglasses they sent, and they didn't fit me. After reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up I'm not much interested in keeping stuff I don't like, and I don't make enough money to just throw $10 away every month on things I'm not going to use, either. This one was a cancel for me, although if you're the type of person who is constantly buying new sunglasses I'd say try it.

le tote

And another Le Tote! Kind of a mixed bag. I was hoping to get some stuff I could take to Ireland, but I think I might just send it back and put my account on pause for a week, instead, as the only thing I'd take here is the checkered driving coat. The purse was a disappointment and the long sleeved shirt doesn't fit.

caution glossy box

Oh! And I almost forgot: Beware of Glossybox. When I canceled my subscription I was informed I would still be getting–and therefore paying for–my October box because I had canceled after the 15th of September. Since the boxes are mailed out the third week of every month, it would have been kinda illogical for me to cancel my first box before the 15th, when they hadn't even shipped yet. Glossybox won't accept returns, even unopened, because of "food and health regulations." Yeah, that's plausible.

So basically, if you sign up for Glossybox, you're committing to 2 months and $42 whether you like it or not. What a racket, especially considering I could get 4 months worth of Birchbox or Ipsy for that much AND be able to cancel at any time.

This week in heidenkindom:

And speaking of Ireland, this will most likely be my last Sunday Snapshot for a while, as I'll literally be up in the air the next two Sundays flying to and from Dublin. But I'll be back mid-October with (hopefully) plenty of awesome pics and things to report.

I spent the week getting ready to go by pre-packing (I do love packing for a trip) and taking care of belated appointments, which caused a mild panic attack when I realized I really do need to find a doctor. The doctor I'd had since I was eight retired a few months ago. If you're ever tried to find a PCP who will accept new Medicaid patients, you know how much fun that is; plus I'm more than a bit nervous about trusting my health care to a stranger. Still haven't found anyone.


My interest in the pre-Voldy lives of Lily and James Potter is minimal-bordering-on-DGAF, but I have to admit this webcomic series based on Tumblr questions about them is kinda adorable. Plus, Snape makes an appearance!

Gratuitous Snape pic.

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday Snapshot Thinks You Should Treat Yo Self

austenland book dedication
Great dedication, or greatest dedication?

Currently reading:

Austenland, because I can't get over the movie. It's taking me a ridiculously long time to read it, but yanno...

I also started a book I found in a winery called Experiencing Colorado Wine. Yes, I went into a winery and instead of coming out with a bottle of wine I left with a book. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Subscription boxes:

treat yo self gif

Since my birthday is coming up, I decided to treat myself by trying out a couple more makeup subscriptions. As I've said before, I love Ipsy, but it's been a year and I'm getting restless. I chose Birchbox and Glossybox because they were both rated better than Ipsy on various articles online.


First off, Birchbox, the one I was least impressed by. There was a face masque, eye cream, perfume (yay /sarcasm), a concealer stick and an eyebrow pencil. So two out of the five items were skin care. I don't *hate* getting skin care products in these boxes, but I do always feel like they're filler. If I wanted cream and soaps and shit I'd sign up for a skin care box, not a makeup box. Plus, both the masque and the eye cream smelled weeeeeeiiiiirrrrrrrrrrd. The perfume is supposed to smell like the Australian rain forest, which explains why there's a white model pretending to be an aboriginal on the cover. OH WAIT NO IT DOESN'T.

Anyway, I threw away most of these items. I'll probably keep the concealer stick for covering up blemishes, and I'm on the fence about keeping the brow pencil. Total tally: toss, 4; keep, 1; love, 0.


Next up, Glossybox, which is more than twice the price of Ipsy and Birchbox at $21/month. Why? I have no idea. Supposedly they're unique because they only send "luxury brands," but the brands they send are the same ones I've seen from Ipsy and Birchbox, sooooo yeah.

Anyway, compared to Birchbox this one was a winner! Only one skin care product–a revitalizing serum that seems to work okay–and some of my favorite types of makeup. To wit, nail polish, blush, and lip gloss. Plus mascara. I tend not to wear mascara because it irritates my eyes, but I'm willing to give it a try on the off chance it won't be too hateful. This mascara wasn't bad, although it did start flaking off pretty severely by the end of the day. The lip gloss was AWFUL and weird tasting. The nail polish shade can best be described as puke-rific, but who knows, it might look good on me.

Overall tally: keep, 4; toss, 1; love, 0. I'm not sure this box is worth the money, and it seems to skew towards an older demographic than Ipsy and Birchbox (hence the price?).


Finally, good ol' Ipsy. The September Glam Bag I got last year was one of the best bags I ever received from them. This month's, however, was mixed. The bag itself is nice, but I don't do gold. I was SUPER excited to receive the NYX eyeshadow palette, and the mascara was pretty decent (oh goody more mascara /sarcasm). I don't do eyeliner or this weird eyebrow stuff that made it look like I'd applied mascara to my brows. The masque was very refreshing!

Total tally: keep, 2; toss, 2; love, 1.

Ipsy is still the winner for me. It's a much better deal than Glossybox and sends more of the type of products I like than Birchbox. Yes, it has its problems now and then, but for the money I don't think you can beat it.

le tote

I also got another Le Tote. I adored the cuff and the striped shirts were suuuuper cute. The pink dress was more like a nightgown and looked terrible on me, but oh well. The next box is already on its way!

This week in heidendom:

A busy but fun week. I worked long hours on Sunday and Monday finishing up articles and artist profiles so that me and my mom could go to Denver on Tuesday. We were planning to visit a winery (I paid for a tour and tasting on Groupon), but when we got there it was closed and open by appointment only, even though online they said they were open daily and no appointment was needed! The business phone was scratched off the door and the number listed online went to a private residence. Did I mention it was sandwiched between two industrial suppliers in a garage? Kinda sketchy.

My still-life.

Since we had nothing to do at that point, we went to the Denver Art Museum and saw the In Bloom exhibit, which I had little to no expectations for. Silly me, it actually turned out really fun and awesome! There were paintings by all my favorite artists, you could make your own still life, and there was a room where they recreated the scents of Monet's garden. You should definitely go see this if you're in town.

A cool flower still-life by Odilon Redon.

Finally, we went out to dinner with my aunt to Osteria Marco, which according to some sources is the absolute best pizzeria in the entire state of Colorado. The pizza was delicious, and the service impeccable. I also highly recommend the grilled artichokes and thyme traveler cocktail. Yummm.


Have you ever wondered why wine is so often served with bread and cheese? Wonder no more.

Have a great week!

FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sunday Snapshot for September 13th

Currently reading:

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. I can see why everyone is crazy about this book, it has everything you could possibly want.

Subscription boxes:

Another week, another Rocks Box. Again, all of these items are okay. I like the necklace on me more than I thought I would, and the bracelet is very nice if a bit loose. The earrings are heavy and uncomfortable, but they look great!

I'm not sure if I'll continue subscribing to Rocks Box after my six months runs out (I prepaid for a discount). I do enjoy it, but a necklace I bought from them a few months ago is already turning to copper, which really makes me question the quality of their jewelry.

This week in heidendom:

Last night my mom and I went to a workshop on photographing the Milky Way, hosted by this guy named Lars Leber. It went from 6:30pm to 2am. We left before 2am, thank god. Looking at the stars was beautiful and the photographs were cool, but I remain unconvinced spending eight hours taking pictures of things in the dark is a worthwhile endeavor. I was so tired I had dreams about making coffee. When you know you need coffee before you even wake up, that's pretty tired.

I also spent the week cleaning out various accessories that were cluttering my closet (re: KonMari) and working on an article about wine that I've had the past two months to do but only started four days before the deadline. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯



I'm going to use this space as my declaration post for Bloggiesta, which starts this Thursday and runs through the weekend. I'll be focusing on getting links to my online articles posted on my freelancing website, as well as checking my privacy settings and personal information using tips from Violet Blue's The Smart Girl's Guide to Privacy.

Have a great week, everyone. Sorry for the short post!

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sunday Snapshot is Looking for Sherlockian Bloggers

I can haz plants?

Currently reading:

The same as last week, except I'm also reading The Smart Girl's Guide to Privacy by Violet Blue, and I'll probably mainline the third volume of Alex + Ada tonight.


As promised, my review of Citizenfour went up this week.

Subscription boxes:

le tote

It was a slow week for subscription boxes. I just got a Le Tote box. While I liked the tribal pattern shirt on the model, for me I think it's a little too dark and heavy. I do love the skirt and the earrings, though!

The week in review:

This was the week for infuriating and perplexing computer problems. I've been getting rid of my unused and broken electronics (see: KonMari), and realized I could trade in my somewhat ancient netbook on Amazon for $40! Sounded like a great idea at first, but it took me two days and much cursing to get the hard drive wiped and Windows XP reinstalled. I'd forgotten what a son of a bitch Windows can be. I should have just removed the hard drive, buried it in my backyard, and taken the stupid netbook for recycling, BUT NO, I had to get $40 out of it.

Then my Mac was making me rage against the machine because I couldn't type out a single word without seeing the spinning rainbow ball of doom (and when you make your living writing, this is doubly problematic), so I had to figure out what was the heck was wrong with it. Fortunately, being a Mac, it basically fixed itself once I figured out how to restart in recovery mode.


sherlockian month

I'm putting together a Sherlockian month for Book Bloggers International in October. All Sherlock, all month! If you'd like to participate, email me at bookbloggersintl [at] gmail [dot] com.

Rock the long(er) weekend if you have it!

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Originally released: 2014
Starring: Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill
Directed by: Laura Poitras
Based on: real life.

In January of 2013, Laura Poitras received an encrypted email from someone codenamed Citizenfour, who claimed to have documents proving a whole host of illegal spying was being perpetrated by the NSA, in violation of the US Constitution, domestically and abroad. Most of Citizenfour takes place over eight days in a Hong Kong hotel room, as the now-infamous whistleblower Edward Snowden divvied up NSA documents to different journalists and prepared for the shit storm that was about to be his life.


I had high expectations for Citizenfour, mainly because of Anachronist's review but also because it won the Academy Award for Best Documentary this year. I came away with mixed feelings on it. Is it an important documentary? Yes. But I was frustrated by the lack of concrete information.

My biggest issue with Citizenfour is that from the start, Snowden says he doesn't want this to be about him, he wants it to be about the information. Yet Poitras made a film that's basically all about him! And not just about him, but apparently designed to make him look as attractive and noble as possible. Do I admire Snowden? Yes. Do I think emphasizing the sacrifices he made in regards to his family and friends is important? Sure. Do I need the scenes where Snowden is swathed in white robes, all lithe and willowy and peering into the black screen of his laptop as if receiving messages from the great beyond? NOPE.

Furthermore, the information on NSA spying that Poitras is presumably supposed to be conveying in Citizenfour is vague at best. If you want to learn what was in the documents Snowden handed to journalists, and about the events leading up to it, best seek out Frontline's United States of Secrets and give Citizenfour a skip–or at least watch the former before the latter so you're already familiar with the context. And we're only fed the barest tidbits of information on the NSA spying. At the very least Poitras could have kept the camera on Snowden while he explained to Greenwald how to encrypt his emails ("It sounds really difficult but it's actually very easy") and then we would have actually learned something useful!

That kind of ties in to a small beef I have with all the reporting I've seen about the NSA spying, not just Poitras'. People say that Americans don't care the government is spying on them, but I don't think that's true. I think we just don't know what we're supposed to do about it, aside from living off the grid, and that's not going to happen. Keeping your information private online is overwhelming enough without throwing Big Brother into the mix. I'm not saying what Greenwald and the other journalists are doing isn't important and heroic in its own right, but I always get the impression their audience is other political journalists. Aside from concrete examples, like the US listening to every conversation on Angela Merkel's phone, this is not easily digestible information to the average person who just wants to play Candy Crush and check their Facebook timeline, you know what I mean?

Other thoughts:

  • I wonder how Snowden feels taking refuge in Russia, a country not exactly known for its human rights and free speech policies. The ironies of life are manifold, my darlings.
  • The connection between corporations and the government that's come out of the NSA's "program," if you want to call it that, is pretty chilling. To quote my American history prof, corporations will eat their own children if it means they get short-term profit out of it. Now, apparently, there's little to no line between corporations and the government. What a great combo.
  • I wonder if checking this movie out from the library puts me on the NSA's watch list. But then I was probably already on it for being a liberal independent who works in a gun store.
  • I didn't completely buy Snowden's explanation for why he decided to become a whistleblower. It seemed a little too simplistic and obvious. I wonder if the real reason was that he wanted to be like Marcus Yallow from the Cory Doctorow books (a copy of Homeland is prominently displayed next to Snowden's laptop–seriously, could this guy get any more adorkable??) but he didn't want to say that because he realized that was too geeky, even for him, so he went with, um, free communication and exchange of ideas is important and stuff. Yeah. That's it.

If there's one thing I came away with after watching Citizenfour, is that Snowden is a smart motherfucking cookie. I mean, I already knew that on some level, but Citizenfour really crystallizes it. If he'd just released all those documents online, he'd probably be rotting in a hole in prison somewhere like Bradley Manning. Instead he methodically planned out every aspect of the situation and sequence of events that he could in order to minimize the negative effects on the people involved–not just himself, but his friends, family, and reporters. Having the journalists vet the information instead of himself, in particular, was brilliant, and might be the only thing that allows him to return to the US someday (should he wish to). I do appreciate people who are thorough planners. He was also lucky, but mainly he was smart.

While I don't think Citizenfour succeeds as well as it could have in informing people about NSA spying, it is an important movie to watch, especially with an election coming up. This is definitely the most important issue of our time, and as a film designed to make people give a fuck, Citizenfour succeeds.

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Snapshot for the Last Weekend in August

"Paint me like one of your French girls."

Currently reading:

The Lost Island by Douglas Preston and Lee Child: This book came up in the library catalog when I searched for "Ireland." It is sooooo cheesy and ridiculous and I'm enjoying the hell out of it.

The Kill Artist by Daniel Silva: The first book in the Gabriel Allon series. Much better than I was expecting.


This week Anachronist was kind enough to do a guest review for me of Banquet of Lies by Michelle Diener.

My post on the bookish guests I really wish would be on StarTalk, Neil DeGrasse Tyson's talk show "where science and pop culture collide" also went up on Book Riot this week.

And last but not least, get your Sherlockian on with my definitive list of Sherlock Holmes travel destinations.

Movies watched:

Citizenfour, starring Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald

I'm planning to write a more in-depth review of this documentary later in the week, but suffice it to say that my feelings are mixed. If you want to find out about NSA spying, you'd be better off watching Frontline's United States of Secrets. If you want to learn about the glory and wonder that is Edward Snowden, on the other hand, this movie's your jam.

Subscription boxes:

wantable august box

I was super disappointed in this month's Wantable box. As you may recall, in my July Wantable box there was a bra that didn't work for me at all. So I sent it back with a note that I don't wear that style of bra. LO AND BEHOLD, when I opened August's box, the exact same style of bra was there, just a different color. I take that back, this bra was actually worse than the previous one–it made my boobs look like two flapping tongues on my chest. How attractive! I almost canceled Wantable then and there, but decided to send the bra back (again) and give them another chance. Currently, though, I don't feel listened to and, as anyone with even minimal observational skills knows, not feeling listened to is the kiss of death for subscription box services.

le tote

On a more positive note, I also got a Le Tote this week, and the two shirts are super cute. I love the necklace–so much so that I'm thinking about maybe buying it. It's fairly affordable at $24, but I'm intent on saving money. We'll see.

rocks box

My Rocks Box this week was okay. I really like the dagger pendant necklace, but I'm meh on the earrings and bar necklace.

Theme of the week:

We didn't like this movie, apparently.

Tuesday morning, the dogs chewed up a DVD I'd borrowed from the library, which kick-started a whole day where I felt like I was being punished for my sins. Ever had one of those days? In addition to numerous other things, I had to buy a new DVD to replace this one. Yayyy. Thanks, dogs.

Other than that, the week's been busy in a good way. I'm finishing up a feature article on street art that will appear in Artispectrum, working on artist profiles and press releases, and finalizing the details for the trip to Ireland!



This game is totally addictive: You judge book covers and then it matches your opinion of the cover with the book's average rating on Goodreads. I'm a SCOTUS-worthy judger of book covers, ha.

Have a great week!

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Review: BANQUET OF LIES by Michelle Diener

banquet of lies

Guest review by Anachronist of Portable Pieces of Thought.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

A Secret Treaty and a Secret Life
LONDON, 1812: Giselle Barrington is living a double life, juggling the duties of chef with those of spy catcher. She must identify her father’s savage killer before the shadowy man finds her and uncovers the explosive political document her father entrusted to her safekeeping.
Posing as a French cook in the home of Lord Aldridge, Giselle is surrounded by unlikely allies and vicious enemies. In the streets where she once walked freely among polite society, she now hides in plain sight, learning the hard lessons of class distinction and negotiating the delicate balance between servant and master.
Lord Aldridge’s insatiable curiosity about his mysterious new chef blurs the line between civic duty and outright desire. Carefully watching Giselle’s every move, he undertakes a mission to figure out who she really is—and, in the process, plunges her straight into the heart of danger when her only hope for survival is to remain invisible.

My impressions:

I might surprise you with this statement but historical romances written by Michelle Diener have several serious assets. Firstly, as far as I know, every one of them is based around a Regency historical event, be it the assassination of the British Prime Minister, a French plot to bleed British gold out of the country or, as it was this time, a secret change of alliances between Russia and France in the middle of the Napoleonic wars. As a result (and secondly) the characters have something more to do than to attend parties, woo the people they fancy and defeat their romantic rivals. In my humble opinion it makes the reading far more enjoyable.

I also appreciate the fact that Diener’s romantic heroines are usually independent, intelligent women who usually have a set of interesting skills apart from just being pretty. In the case of Gigi, the female lead of Banquet of Lies, it was her cooking skills, especially when it comes to gourmet French cuisine. I admit I warmed up to her from the first chapter and I wasn’t surprised Lord Aldridge, her male love interest, was so taken with her instantly. Insta-cooking-love is far more palatable than any other kind of infatuation and the girl in question could cook and bake like an angel (or rather like a three-star Michelin chef) – who wouldn’t love to have such a wife/husband/partner?

Let me also say that the lack of any explicit sex scenes actually improved my reading experience: mainly because I wasn’t ‘treated’ by different artificially ‘historical’ terms describing male and female sexual organs *shudders*; I also found it closer to the beginning of the 19th century’s standards.

Still there were problems which decreased my reading pleasure.

It grated a bit that, despite well-rounded characterizations I appreciated and enjoyed so much, all main characters were just obnoxiously handsome and/OR pretty (I bet you can be handsome and pretty at the same time, right?). I am really sick and tired with a message most of romantic fiction books try to convey: esthetics means EVERYTHING; if you are nice to look at you’ll be loved, happy and successful. Alternatively you might be an illegitimate daughter of a whore, with the whole street of potential candidates for fatherhood, or a thieving son of a gangster but, as long as you look nice people will give you second, third or even fourth chance. SO. NOT. TRUE.

nope gif

My other issue concerned the way these Regency lords and ladies thought and behaved in this one. It was so strange to find out all of them had a quite modern mindset, not influenced by religion or any other prejudices so typical for those times. It reminded me of the fact that in Persuasion by Jane Austen, a Regency novel written actually in Regency times by a Regency author, it was a quite important issue for Anne Elliot, the main heroine, that her cousin who courted her for some time dared travel on Sunday and didn’t attend church. Well, in Ms. Diener’s Regency novels virtually nobody attends church or thinks about religion at all – go figure.

look at your life look at your choices gif

What's more? Here is a quite juicy tidbit: after Giselle Barrington's diplomat father is murdered at the beginning of the story, Giselle, a young girl, travels from Sweden to England with all her bags and whatnots completely unattended. Mind you nobody seems to care or notice that a respectable miss goes on such a long distance trip without a chaperone, a maid or a male relative in tow. What's even stranger, none of the super-duper kick-ass-and-kill-on-the-spot spymasters in this book has ever heard of ship manifests, let alone checked one to find out whether the girl actually left the countr. Hmmm...let me quote here Mr. Eastwood who expresses my feelings the best:

get off my lawn gif

Oh, and as I've already started to complain: I would love to learn more about Mr Edgars who had such a potential (underdeveloped unfortunately) that he could have overshadowed both bland Aldridge and the rest of secondary characters...

The cover: somehow bland. Show me your face, pretty lady, and then show me your cooking, not just your tits...ehem, bosom...

Final verdict:

Despite its shortcomings one of better historical romance novels I’ve stumbled across. If you like Regency England, secret plots, secret services and no-nonsense heroines you might want to try this one.

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...