Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Books I'm Thankful For

It is officially Thanksgiving break for me and I thought it would be fun to share the books that I read this year that I'm most thankful for. So without further to do...

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling - To be fair, I'm always thankful that I first read Harry Potter as a kid, but this year especially because it was my first time rereading the series in its entirety in 6 years. This reread reminded me how much I love the series and I'm already thinking about when I'll be able to reread it again.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas - It is not often that I come across a book that is incredibly powerful. I was absolutely blown away by this book and how it handled such a sensitive topic. I listened to this book on audio and the narration is so well done, I could not recommend it more. 

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green - I'm so grateful for this book, because of how it deals with mental illness. I really felt like I was in the narrator's head and experiencing her thoughts while reading this. I love when books have the ability to transport emotions, like that.

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare - This book had so many twists and turns and I'm still reeling from it all. I'm especially thankful that the release date of the sequel was moved up, and the last book in the trilogy will be coming out next December.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer - I rarely see Filipino characters in YA literature, let alone Filipino protagonists. So when I saw that one of my favorite authors was writing a book with a Italian-Filipino main character, I started freaking out. Although that aspect of the book is pretty small, I'm so thankful for the representation in this book.

And those are the books I'm thankful that I've read this year. - Jessica

Friday, November 17, 2017

Instax Diaries #9

It has been almost a year since I've shared my last instax post, and I had a ton of shots building up to scan. I finally got to try out the monochrome mini film, and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on some monochrome wide film. The above photo was taken with my Lomo'Instant wide and it was actually an accidental shot, but I really like the effect. The rest of these photos were taken with my trusty Lomo'Instant.

Some b/w shots. I haven't had the chance to fully test out this film, but I really like the results so far.

The last two images are some of the most interesting shots that I've taken in a while. The first of the two was taken in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey storms. Austin was only hit with floods from the hurricane and whenever the storms stopped, the sky turned a crazy, orange color. And the last photo is a shot of a dead butterfly, I'm always on the lookout to capture living butterflies, but it never works out, and I get to photograph the sad ones instead. 

I bought a ton of film last week and I'm looking forward to shooting through it. I still need to buy film for my Polaroid One Step (I keep holding off cause it's twice the price of instax film). - Jessica

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Books I Read in October

In October, I read 12 novels, a graphic novel, a comic and a novella. In total, I read 15 works, even though it really doesn't feel like I read a whole lot. One of the books was for school (Women Without Men) and I won't get into it below, because I already had to write about it. Like last month, there were a lot of new releases that came out, and I was excited to get to those. So here are the books I read and some of my thoughts on them...

The Dire King by William Ritter - This is the final series of the Jackaby series. This was a really satisfying ending to the series. Overall this series is a fun read; it's a cool blend of mystery and monsters, and it's got a great female protagonist.

Hunted by Meagan Spooner - This is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, with elements of Russian fairy tales. I was surprised by how much I loved this book, I thought it would draw a lot of similarities between A Court of Thorns and Roses, but that was not the case. I absolutely loved the elements of the Firebird and how they were weaved so well into the narrative. I'm a huge fan of slow burn stories, and this was a highly addictive read.

Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo and illustrated by Sara Kipin - This is a series of fairy tales set in Bardugo's Grisha Verse. This is honestly my favorite work that Bardugo has published, I would rank it higher than Crooked Kingdom. Each story is so unique and captivating. The stories are accompanied by a series of drawings that evolve like flipbooks with the story, and the whole presentation is perfect. I highly recommend reading this, if you're a Grisha fan because you won't be disappointed.

Ringer by Lauren Oliver - This is the second book in the Replica duology. This series follows two girls, Lyra and Gemma, who's stories can be read individually or together in alternating chapters. Like the first book, I read this in alternating chapters. I enjoyed this a lot more than the first book. In this book, Lyra and Gemma's stories are more separated than in the first, and so the story felt less repetitive. I really enjoyed the direction that this book went in and how the series wrapped up.

Skin&Earth (Issue 4) by Lights - This is the fourth issue in Light's comic series, that ties into her album of the same name. I've mentioned lately how obsessed I am with both the comic and album. I love this comic series so much, because the story and the music are interwoven so well, but are also amazing on their own. I absolutely love the direction that this narrative is going in and I was blown away by the ending. I keep listening to the rest of the album, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about potential directions the next issue will take. I'm counting down the days until the next issue, only 6 more!

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green - This is John Green's newest novel, following Aza, a girl with anxiety and OCD, and how she gets caught up in the search for a missing billionaire. I have been anticipating this book since it was announced, but I was also skeptical because I wasn't sure how this book would live up to TFioS's shadow. I absolutely was blown away by this book, Aza's issues felt so relatable and John Green did an amazing job of describing her train of thought. There were so many points in this novel where I related to Aza and I was in tears because of it. I absolutely just love this book, and I loved the writing which is beautiful, it's full of brilliant metaphors in typical John Green fashion.

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King - This story follows Lucky Linderman, who is constantly bullied and as a coping mechanism has dreams that he is rescuing his grandfather, a MIA POW from the Vietnam War. This is one of those books that I have heard a lot of hype over and it's been on my shelves for ages, that I'm finally getting too. I ended up really liking this book, although I did have a few issues with the narration.

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy - This book follows Willowdean, an overweight teenager, who enters into the beauty pageant her mother won as a teenager, and now runs. I really enjoyed this book, I listened to the audiobook in less than a day because I didn't want to stop reading it. The only thing that stopped me from absolutely loving this book was the love triangle, which just felt unnecessary. But overall this book is great, and I'm really looking forward to the movie adaptation, that's coming out next year.

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins - This is a mystery/thriller, following a small town high school, that is shaken by a series of murders. I think this book needs a warning label attached to it, there's a lot of gore and description of hazing. It took me almost two weeks to read this book (I usually read books in a couple of days), because of some of the triggers. That being said, I did like this book, I felt that it was something different from what I normally read and it was a good slasher book to read before Halloween. I honestly was surprised with how well the romance elements were weaved in to this story.

Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach - This book follows Parker, who stopped talking after his dead dies, after he meets Zelda, a girl who claims she's older than she looks. This is another book, that I've had for ages and I really wanted to like this story, but this book just ended up being okay. I found that Zelda's character felt like a plotpoint and her only objective in the story was too heal Parker.

Amid Stars and Darkness by Chani Lynn Feener - This book follows Delaney, after she is mistaken for an alien princess and she has to pose as the missing princess. I randomly bought this book, because although it sounded like it had a ton of common YA troupes, I thought it would be a fun read. I've been having a lot of trouble finding fantasy/sci-fi books to read lately, and this one was a good fit. I ended up loving this book, it's a fast paced read and I breezed through it. I really enjoyed the characters and I found the romance addictive. I honestly can't wait until the second book is released next summer.

Life After Legend by Marie Lu - This is a novella, and is Day's persepctive of the epilogue of Champion, the last book in the Legend trilogy. Legend is one of my favorite all time series and I was so excited to hear that this was being released. Even though this novella is so short, I ended up in tears because of how much closure it adds to the trilogy.

Monstrees, Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda - This graphic novel follows Maika, a girl who has an unusually psychic connection to a monster. This graphic novel has been on my radar for over a year now, and after getting into Skin&Earth, I've been in the mood to read more comics/graphic novels. The art in this series is absolutely stunning, and is the best part of the story. Unfortunately the story is really confusing, but I think as the story progresses, it will become clearer. I really like how this story is set in an Asia-inspired dystopian, matriarchal society, and how it deals with race.

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Steifvater - This story follows the Soria family, who's members are able to preform miracles. I really liked this book, the writing is absolutely beautiful and outshines the overall story, which I didn't find as nearly as enticing. I also really enjoyed the diversity of this book, and I think the author really handled the culture well.

And those are all the books that I read in October. I'm honestly amazed with the fact that I'm four books ahead of my Goodreads challenge for the year, and I only have to read 20 more books. Plus there are some new releases out soon, that I'm hoping will help me finish that challenge. - Jessica

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

October Snapshots

1. Fawkes is really cute and I'm always taking photos of him. /// 2. I'm really obsessed with bookish candles and I've been burning the Phoenix Riders candle from Meraki Candles. It is inspired by Warcross by Marie Lu and I got it in the Fanmail box for the book. 

3 & 4. I bought the Nerdy Post "Back to Hogwarts" box and I loved it. Here's some of the artwork included. The journal is coincidentally by Cara Kozik, who designed the Owl Crate mug I shared in my last post. I also wanted to show off the exclusive Harry Potter wand pen that I got in last month's Wizarding World Loot Crate. It's made by Noble Collection, who also has another version here, I compared both and the WWLC pen is of much higher quality. /// 5. I also modified a section of my Harry Potter wall so that I could fit in all the new art from Nerdy Post, including this Hogwarts print, that I'm in love with. My wall is a hodge podge of various HP prints, so comment down below if you want to know where I got something.

6 & 7. Here's some random shots with some fairly lights that I've had for a while. /// 8. I finally tracked down physical copies of every issue of Skin & Earth. I was going to hold out until Lights published the graphic novel and just get the ebook for each issue, but I love the story and the album so much. I spent a little too much money to get the first two issues from her Canadian store, but it was worth it, and I was able to get the third and fourth issue at my local comic book store. I also recommend that if anyone is looking for the issues and can't find them at their local comic book store, to get them from her website. - Jessica

Thursday, October 26, 2017

October Owlcrate: Find Me in the Forrest

It's been a while since I shared an Owlcrate unboxing so I thought it would be fun to share since it's been a year since I got my first Owlcrate box. I also wanted to share because this is my all time favorite Owlcrate. I've been an avid fan of Owlcrate since before I was a subscriber, and I've been a fairly loyal subscriber since then. I did skip out of the August box, in favor of Litjoy's Wonder Women Warbringer box, and I'm still upset that I didn't get it cause it combined two of my all time favorite things, Harry Potter and coffee. One of the things that I love about Owlcrate is that they secure exclusive covers for all of the books involved and all of the items fit each month's theme so well. So here is the October Owlcrate, the theme is Find Me in the Forrest, and if you don't want to be spoiled, I suggest you stop scrolling here!

My favorite item in the box (and probably my favorite Owlcrate item ever) is this Harry Potter themed mug. It is an Owlcrate exclusive design by Cara Kozik. I can't wait until it get's colder here so I can use this mug everyday, but at the same time I never want to use this mug because I'm scared of breaking it. Anyways, I'm going to be taking pictures of this mug forever.

To go along with the mug, there is an adorable coaster. This features another exclusive artwork by Kirstin Askland. Fair warning, I do not recommend placing an ice beverage on this coaster, cause it dried a little weird. Yeah, I'm upset with myself for ruining it already. Another exclusive item was this Raven Boys themed candle by In the Wick of Time. I've developed a massive obsession with book candles, and I've been really happy with all the one's I've gotten.

The box also featured these adorable Where the Wild Things Are bookmarks by CraftedVan. I've wanted some bookmarks from that shop for a while, and I was really happy to see them included in this box. Also my bookmark problem has gotten out of hand lately, I have way more than I need. Tthe box featured this Robin Hood inspired tea from Riddle's Tea Shoppe. Riddle's Tea Shoppe also has a ton of Harry Potter themed teas, that I've been wanting to try. I love how three of the items in the box tied together. The box also featured a cute Princess Mononoke print, which I forgot to take a picture of...

And finally, the book of this month is Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore. My new Luna Funko Pop decided to join in on this picture. I've heard a lot of great things about this book and I'm excited to read it. All I know is that it is a magical realism story, heavily centered around a family garden. The box also included these some seeds to plant, and I'm looking forward to planting them next spring.

So that was the October Owlcrate. Next month's box is themed Castles, Courts & Kingdoms. I'm already really excited for it, because the details sound amazing. If you're interested in subscribing to Owlcrate (which I highly recommend), here's my referral link and you can use the code KINGDOMS15 for 15% off. They also have some past boxes on there website, although this one unfortunately sold out. - Jessica