My Current Obsession (6): RuPaul's Drag Race

I've been aware of RuPaul's Drag Race for years. One of my best friends from college, Carolyn, was obsessed with it. Throughout freshman year, we'd often have study days where I'd glance over her shoulder and watch an old episode while I knocked out an essay. And then sophomore year rolled around where I ramped up my education to graduate early, had a 50 hour work week, and a lack of access to a television and I promptly let all of my television watching die. All those shows...dropped. The struggle was real.

Fast forward a few years and I'm sitting in my friend's flat in London, once again knocking out an essay for my Advertising class and she's giggling maniacally in a corner and eventually loudly declared, "NOT TODAY, SATAN!"

That was my re-introduction to the obsessive RuPaul's Drag Race. There's a ridiculous amount of herstory to the show and I don't think I could ever do it justice, but I am sure as heck enjoying it anyway.


What a lot of people don't realize is that this series is huge in the United Kingdom. This is because they have the 4 most recent seasons on Netflix (the most recent season's trailer you can see above). Sure, I watched out of order because I had to finish Bianca Del Rio's season, but I was all over this show again.

This show is just so important for the LGBTQIA community because it gives them a widely adored platform to be themselves and love it. One of the main morals throughout the reality series is the question: if you can't love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else? As someone who has many friends who have struggled in their pasts with love and acceptance, this show almost acts as a beacon of hope in some regards. It also showcases a part of a very important community that many people don't necessarily understand.

And, let's not forget the fact that it is a piece of mainstream media that is prominent on the social scene. The word "sickening" is one of the most common pieces of slang in recent years, and I can say this because of my time spent interning at OED. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if another definition is added to the dictionary if its usage continues to rise.

Did anyone really know what the heck a death drop was more than a few years ago or that the term "bitch" could literally be the most endearing thing ever?! Have we ever found enough people to throw so much killer shade that we could make an entire Olympics for reading queens to filth?! Seriously, this book lover is desperate to visit RuPaul's library! Were were just completely unaware that Drag Mother's are better than any sorority Big a girl could ever dream of?

The list of absolute fierceness is near infinite. All I'm saying is that if you haven't discovered the greatness that is Snatch Game for yourself, you need to get on that pronto.

Upon my return from London, it was announced that the next season of RuPaul's is going to be All Stars 2!


I am so ready for it to premiere at the end of August! By now, I know the backstory to most of these ladies and I have some serious thoughts because this is a freaking great cast with a few key players from the older seasons, too. This show promises lots of amazing drag, and some even more amazing drama.

I've got my eye on Katya and Ginger Minj for entertainment, Alaska for annoying catchphrases that we all love and the occasional bit of petty jealousy of her ex, some fashion risks from the intoxicating Detox, relatability and entertainment from the now hogbody-less Libra Adore Delano, and a whole lotta drama from Roxxxy Andrews.

Photo credit: Entertainment Weekly / I thought this showed the queens the best!
RuPaul's All Stars Drag Race season 2 premieres on August 25th. I highly recommend binging the show on UK Netflix or Logo's website here before then because it is so, so worth it. If your cable provider supports the network, you can watch past episodes easily.

Now, I've gotta go because I have until August to learn how to beat my face and feel totally flazeda (love ya, Pearl).


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Do you watch RuPaul's? What was your favorite season? Who is your favorite winner? Who do you think will win All Stars 2? Who do you wish was in All Stars 2 that isn't?! SO MANY QUESTIONS! Comment below with your thoughts so that we can fangirl together.  And, you know, if you haven't watched yet then you gotta get on that! <3

Review: The Graces by Laure Eve

Series: The Graces #1
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: Amulet Books
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 335 (ARC)
Source: From Publisher For Review
In The Graces, the first rule of witchcraft states that if you want something badly enough, you can get it . . . no matter who has to pay.

Everyone loves the Graces. Fenrin, Thalia, and Summer Grace are captivating, wealthy, and glamorous. They’ve managed to cast a spell over not just their high school but also their entire town—and they’re rumored to have powerful connections all over the world. If you’re not in love with one of them, you want to be them. Especially River: the loner, new girl at school. She’s different from her peers, who both revere and fear the Grace family. She wants to be a Grace more than anything. And what the Graces don’t know is that River’s presence in town is no accident.

This fabulously addictive fantasy combines sophisticated and haunting prose with a gut-punching twist that readers will be dying to discuss. Perfect for fans of We Were Liars as well as nostalgic classics like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the 1996 movie The Craft, The Graces marks the beginning of a new wave of teen witches.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I rarely request books these days because I have such little time to read. Because of this, I only request books I think I will really enjoy, if not love. I had huge hopes for this book ever since I met the author in the UK and heard her read out the first chapter at a book event. Thus, writing this review is really hard because I am supremely disappointed. This is not the book that I thought it would be.

To put it simply, I was extremely bored with this one. I plowed through out of commitment issues (it's hard for me to say no to a book once I pick it up) and sheer curiosity about the weirdness I was reading. At some point, in the last seventy pages, things really pick up and I was really into it, but then everything was explained away nonsensically which only frustrated me further because I am having trouble finding aspects of the book that I like aside from the enticing synopsis.

The main character is super unlikable, and I think that's part of the reason I struggled so much with this one. I am all for anti-heroes, but there's a difference between anti-hero and downright unlikable. Our main character never shares her name with us, but she calls herself River because that is her "true name." She is a very flat character that alternates moods every scene...sometimes she's shy and awkward, other times she is standing up to the bully, other times she is super cold, etc. I have no idea who she really is aside from the fact that she is extremely obsessed with the idea of witchcraft but also The Graces. She is just an obsessive character. She latches onto something so tight and never lets it go because she envelops herself in that something and forgets how to live without it. That something is the witchy Grace family. And it made me a little sick of reading about them.

Also, it doesn't help that the book is extremely predictable. I will admit that Eve had me confused several times in the beginning, but the huge reveals in the end are easily seen a mile away. The foreshadowing is a bit too obvious, not allowing the book to have the BOOM! TRUTH BOMB! effect that it is going for.

This isn't helped by the fact that the writing is a bit bland. I think that there is an amazing concept here, but the execution was lacking, which hurt my reading experience because it almost felt like there was no plot to me. It doesn't help when I come across weird lines that had me scratching my head like, "He smelled like a thicker, manlier kind of vanilla." I'm sorry, but what? I'd come across something like this and just kinda sit there trying to figure out what I just read. I had trouble picturing a lot of the things mentioned in this book. Eve's style of description just doesn't mesh with my brain.

I am so sad to find myself ridiculously disappointed in this book because I had so much hope for it. C'est la vie, I suppose it just was not meant to be with this one.

1 star

~*~Links~*~

FTC Disclaimer: I received no compensation of any kind in exchange for this honest review.

Waiting on Wednesday #77

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.

My pick of the week is...
Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Reading Level: Young Adult
Juliet Young has always written letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither of them knows that they're not actually strangers. When real life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart. This emotional, compulsively-readable romance will sweep everyone off their feet.

Why I Am Waiting 

I love Brigid Kemmerer's writing! I used to devour her ELEMENTALS series that she published with Kensington, so now I am super excited to have a contemporary to read. Plus, look at the synopsis! I have a feeling that this book is going to explore some really dark, haunting themes and go places most YA books haven't gone before. I am so ready for it!!! I am a sucker for dark, beautiful novels and I know it.

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Are you equally as excited for this book as me? Is there another book you are even more excited about? Please share your thoughts with me below!

Top Eleven Books Set Outside the United States

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and Bookish.

I had so much fun putting this post together, mostly because I didn't realize a lot of the books I read have travel in them. It's even more fun that I have visited many of these places on my own. It's amazing to look back on these books with that in mind. I also cheated and did 11 but something tells me y readers will forgive me!
1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling - I know it's not explicitly clearly where Hogwarts School if Witchcraft and Wizardry is located, but JK Rowling has said it is in Scotland several times, the movie is filmed there, and it just seems right since Edinburgh Castle served as her inspiration for the castle. Having explored Scotland, I could see Hogwarts belonging there, so I'm rolling with it.
2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - This is my ultimate favorite book ever. I love everything about it. Liesel and Max and Rudy and Mama and Papa and everyone. Set during the Nazi regime's rule in Germany, this book gives you a different look at a harrowing part of history.
 
3. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson - Ginny goes on an adventure following the instructions in 13 little blue envelopes. They lead her to London, England first, and then she finds herself traveling to Scotland as well with a mysterious boy. I read this book while I was at sleep-away camp for the very first time, and though I've lost my copy, I still have the fondest memories of this adventure! I really need to reread this old favorite and start the sequel.

4. Heist Society by Ally Carter - This book takes you to a ton of places, but the main heist in this book is to steal a valuable work of art from a London museum before the bad guys do. I ADORE this series, even more than The Gallagher Girls series, to be honest. I really hope Ally Carter writes more. Anyway, Kat is one of the best people to pull off a heist in the world despite the fact that she's still a teenager. Naturally, she does a lot of traveling to Europe with her crew, and I love every minute of it.

5. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith - This is such a unique story! It takes place over a flight that eventually lands in London, England, where love may or may not blossom. It all depends on the statistical probability of love at first sight!

6. The BFG by Roald Dahl - I swear this book was on this list prior to the movie's release! haha But anyway, Sophie's orphanage is located in England and Giant Country is out in the middle of who knows where, but the real world is in lovely London, England. I loved this book growing up, and I still love this story to this day. Plus, I adored the movie so there's that, too.
7. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - High school students at a French boarding school? Sign me up! I love me some Etienne St. Clare.
8. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Anna Brashares - Lena spends the summer in beautiful Santorini, Greece in this book. The pants truly get to travel the world in one of my favorite childhood favorites! This is one of the books responsible for giving me the travel bug, so it will always have a special place in my heart.
 
9. The Scorprio Races by Maggie Stiefvater - This may be cheating since Thisby is a made-up place, but with all the Welsh mythology in this book (and many of Stiefvater's other writings) it is obvious that the island stares onto mainland Wales. Or...at least to me, I think.
10. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - This book makes the streets of the capital of the Czech Republic come to life! I read this so long ago, and I never finished the series (so I must remedy that!), but I made sure to go to Prague on my recent jaunt through Europe because of the pictures this book painted in my mind. So. Well. Done.
11. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer - This series goes everywhere...China, Africa, the surface of the Moon! You name it and this destination is explores. This is one of the reasons that I love this series so much. <3

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I really loved putting together this list, so please don't hesitate to link your lists below so that I can check them out and add some material to my reading list! Have you read any of these? What did you think? Don't forget to your thoughts in the comments below!

Stacking the Shelves #115

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

These past 2 weeks I somehow managed to accumulate many more books then expected!

Bought
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Blogbound Con (Thank you, pubs and organizers!)
Scythe by Neal Shusterman
We Know It Was You by Maggie Thrash
Moon Chosen by P.C. Cast
Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley
All The Rage by Courtney Summers
We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen

Edelweiss (Thank you, Harper!)
The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge
Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Gifted from Andi (thank you!)
All Lined Up by Cora Carmack

Traded with Mary (thank you!)
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

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Have you read any of these books? I have read the last 2 at this point and I cannot wait to dive into the others! If you can't tell, I am on a huge fantasy kick right now (Hey, Harper!!!!!) and there was just so many cool books at blogbound! I used to love the House of Night series until it went to double PoV, so I got super excited when I saw MOON CHOSEN alongside some killer S&S fantasies and amazing looking Griffin Teen contemporaries! *breathes in and out* Let's do this! 

College Cheat Sheet: CLEP Exams


TL;DR: This post is a bit on the longer side because it describes my experiences with the CLEP and also what my other friends know about it. If you just want the basics, scroll to the bottom where you'll see a second set of bullet points (8 bullets). That set of bullet points is a summary of the important things you need to know about this exam if you're interested in taking it and don't want to read this post.

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I know that a lot of my readers are in high school or just beginning college or are even moms of kids in that age range, and I get a lot of questions about graduating college early since I am managing to graduate in 3.5 years either summa or magna cum laude with a major, a double minor, 5 months abroad, and a thesis under my belt. In my attempt to just kind of turn this blog into whatever I want to talk about, I thought this would be an interesting topic to address. But, before I begin, I have to tell you the reason I am accomplishing most of this is because I am certifiably insane.

Anyhow...

CLEP Exams are super helpful and cheap alternative for lightening coursework and stress during the school year. It stands for College Level Examination Program, and it is run by College Board just like the SAT. The test can be taken in 36 different areas ranging from literature, several different languages, history, the sciences, mathematics, sociology, business, psychology, law, and more to assess your knowledge in that subject matter. It is a good way of earning college credit without taking college courses, which leads me to believe that high school students might be allowed to partake in the program as well. Unfortunately, I discovered it a bit too late.

I should also mention in this post that I didn't bring in any AP credits with me from high school. I didn't want to stress myself out too much in high school, and that's coming from someone who dropped lunch two years in a row to take two extra Honors level courses online. I preferred to load up on, like, 8 honors level courses and knock my GPA out of the park to get better scholarships instead of AP courses because I didn't really like the AP crowd in my school. I loathed them, really, and I didn't want to force myself into spending every class with them despite the urging of several of my teachers. High school was a tough time.

Instead, I got my credits other ways. I enrolled in a few basic online classes in my local community college where credits are way cheaper than at my private institution and did the paperwork to have those transfer in. I knocked out a few general education requirements and even a major requirement that way.

And, now that I am in college, I am taking CLEP exams. Because graduating early was a decision I made on the later end of my college career, I didn't always take 18 credit terms that would have helped me along. I realized that if I took 18 credits this upcoming fall (which I am), I would still need 4 credits to graduate on time. 4 measly credits standing in my way, so I asked around and turned to the CLEP as an extremely cheap alternative instead of dropping monstrous loads of money on summer classes from my own institution. 2 passed CLEP tests and I could graduate on time.

A CLEP Test costs $80 to sign up for on College Board, and then you call your test center. I've tested at two different centers due to convenience at the time...one cost me $40 and one cost me $60. You also need to invest in study materials. My friends tend to go the route of Chegg renting, but I like to take advantage of general library materials and example CLEP tests found online. So, with that knowledge in mind, even with renting textbooks, this test might cause you $200 a piece to get 3 credits. If you go to a private institution like me, that's SIGNIFICANTLY lower than what a single credit would cost, and it's a hard deal to ignore.

For most tests, the recommended score is a 50 and there are 100 questions that you need to go through in about 2 hours. So you're literally looking at getting half of those questions right. You need no more, but you can't have any less. If you do not get 50 questions correct on your first try, you have to wait 3 months before retaking it and do not get refunded the money you invested into the test. You also get your score immediately upon pressing "submit" so there's no anxiety inducing "how did I do?" questions like with the SAT and ACT.

I took my first test in the Fall one morning before class. I walked out 50 minutes later with a score of 54 after studying for 5 hours the night before. My test was on Introductory Sociology, a topic I had never studied before prior to cracking open the textbook I grabbed from the library the night prior. As you read this post, I am sitting for my second CLEP exam on American History I. Hopefully I'll pass this one, but I've given myself enough time to retake it before my December graduation if I don't since I need that last credit.

The beauty of these tests is you just need to demonstrate a basic understanding of the content, enough knowledge to demonstrate it's something you could have grasped in a classroom. You don't need to master the subject matter and impress the judges because there are none.

A few things to consider before signing up for the CLEP exam:
  1. Does your college take exam credits? - Not every college takes CLEP. Most do, but they won't take all. For example, my college will take 33/36 CLEP exams, so I have to watch which ones I sign up for.
  2. Does your college have a limit as to how many credits can transfer in? - My college has a limited amount of credits I can take at other institutions while enrolled there. Because I discovered the CLEP late, I planned out my college career with this number in mind. If this is something you want to take advantage of while IN college, definitely look into that.
  3. What scores does your college approve of? - The national average of a CLEP exam is a 50. That means you need to get 50/100 questions right. Sometimes there's less than 100, though, like in math, so look into that before paying for a test. I was going to take an algebra CLEP until I realized I needed to get 50/60 questions correct and was like nope. My college happens to take 50 questions for every exam except for the literature ones. There you need at least a 60.
  4. Is there a testing center near you? - College Board lets you hunt this down on their website, but it is worth putting in a few calls to learn. Test Centers charge different amounts of money whether or not you're an enrolled student there and also due to location. Make sure you have that money set aside. Also, not every testing location is open every day. The first one I tested at only administered tests on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. The second one I am testing at administers for tests on Mondays, and then two tests on Friday and Saturday mornings.
  5. Do you have access to proper study materials? - Take advantage of the library or rent textbooks. I don't recommend going in blind, but I don't recommend throwing your heart and soul into these tests because, in the end, you just need to get half the questions right. Refresh your memory on the subject content a few times and throw yourself in, but if you fail the test you cannot retake it for 3 months and that's some money lost. Be smart about it.
Now that I've got that out of the way, this post is getting super long. I am going to do a highlights "things you need to know" about the CLEP exam below.
  1. CLEP = College Level Examination Program and it is a test through College Board that asseses your proficiency in 36 different subject matters popular in college classrooms.
  2. A test costs less than $200 to take, including study materials.
  3. This one test transfers in as a full 3 credits (one class worth) or more if you are taking a language CLEP if you pass.
  4. If you fail the test, you need to wait 3 months before retaking it.
  5. Most universities take CLEP exams, but check before taking it, and look into the scores they are accepting.
  6. The national average accepted score on most exams, minus literature, is a 50.
  7. Most exams are 100 questions long, meaning you just need to get half correct to pass. Remember to research that though, as some exams are different. Introductory Algebra, for example, is only 60 questions and you still need to get 50 correct.
  8. Testing centers are located throughout the country. I have a choice of 70 all within a 40 mile driving distance of my home in New Jersey or my university in NYC. Call them, ask about money and dates they test since not every testing center is open 7 days a week, and pick the one that is best for you.
Alright, that's all I got for you. I hope you find this post helpful! I'll be sending it off to the people who have emailed me asking me for early graduation advice.

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Did you find this post helpful or interesting? Are you a reader in the proper age range to find this post useful? Share your thoughts in the comments below! <3

Review: The Score by Elle Kennedy

Series: Off-Campus #3
Publication Date: January 11, 2016
Publisher: Indie
Reading Level: New Adult, 18+
Pages: 361 (eBook)
Source: Borrowed From Friend
He knows how to score, on and off the ice

Allie Hayes is in crisis mode. With graduation looming, she still doesn’t have the first clue about what she's going to do after college. To make matters worse, she’s nursing a broken heart thanks to the end of her longtime relationship. Wild rebound sex is definitely not the solution to her problems, but gorgeous hockey star Dean Di-Laurentis is impossible to resist. Just once, though, because even if her future is uncertain, it sure as heck won’t include the king of one-night stands.

It’ll take more than flashy moves to win her over

Dean always gets what he wants. Girls, grades, girls, recognition, girls…he’s a ladies man, all right, and he’s yet to meet a woman who’s immune to his charms. Until Allie. For one night, the feisty blonde rocked his entire world—and now she wants to be friends? Nope. It’s not over until he says it’s over. Dean is in full-on pursuit, but when life-rocking changes strike, he starts to wonder if maybe it’s time to stop focusing on scoring…and shoot for love.

~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I was really excited for the third installment in the Off-Campus series by Elle Kennedy because it features Dean! Dean-the most sexually promiscuous guy on campus! You know this book is bound to get interesting with that in mind, and it totally did.

What started off as a one night stand turned into a fling turned into an epic romance, and I am a big fan of it. But the best lesson that this boo teaches is anti-slut-shaming. Dean has a lot of sex, he's aware what other people think of him, and he doesn't care. He lives The Life of Dean and does what he wants when he wants without a care in the world. Allie, on the other hand, may have way too many cares in the world, but she learns to accept who she is, not who others think she is, and begins a slow journey on discovering The Life of Dean for herself.

We first met Allie in book one as Wellsy's best friend and roommate. I loved her then, and I love her even more now that we get to know her better. She's broken up with Sean because they're at another low in their relationship, but this time she's determined to stay broken up. Running away from him, she ends up at Garrett's house and ingests way too much tequila, waking up the next morning in a classic "I can't believe that happened last night!" moment. This journey is as much of a journey of self-discovery and acceptance for Allie as it is a steamy romance.

We learn so much about Dean too. Everything else we knew about him was basically surface. He's super good-looking, his parents are very rich lawyers, he is a beast on the ice but doesn't want to play hockey for the rest of his life, he can throw back liquor like no other, and he is a no strings attached kind of guy. Well, we learn why he is that way, just how intelligent and deep he is, and how tenacious he truly is when there's something he wants. Is he still the over-sexed guy we met in book one? Yes, but there's so much more to him. And I freaking love his character growth. It's perfect.

What is not perfect and ruined this book from being 5 stars, if you ask me, is the ending. Naturally, the ending involves Tuck, the last roommate in the off-campus house. I'm really excited for his book because I loved him in book one, but he pretty much fell to the wayside in this book, only to reappear at the end with a truth bomb. I am totally fine with truth bombs, but the twist that Kennedy set up for him just doesn't seem to match his personality? It's something that I'm a bit worried about, and I hope she proves me wrong. Then again, I loved this series so much, so it is very possible that book four may wow me in unexpected ways.

Read this series, you won't regret it!

4.5 stars

~*~Links~*~