Sunday, August 30, 2015

August Snapshots

1. I got these earrings and I feel like a woodland fairy every time I wear them. // 2. My new nightstand and the huge pile of books next to my bed. Getting new bookshelves is high on my list of things to do because those books need a proper home. 

3. I've been waiting ages for the Harry Potter Funko Pop collection and I've slowly been collecting all nine of them. This is my current collection and the rest are currently in the mail. These are going to look so good on my bookshelf, when I finally get my new ones...

4. My sisters and I went to Town Lake the other day to see if our dogs would swim. McCoy wouldn't go anywhere near the water but I was able to get some good shots of him. // 5. A random photograph that I got while at the lake, and I really love how it came out. 

6 & 7. A breakfast crepe from La Madeline and Butterbeer ice creme from Austin Scoops. Both of them were so good. 

8. I caved and got tickets to see Penatonix and Kelly Clarkson last night. Pentatonix was amazing as always, and I will see them every single time they come to town. Kelly Clarkson sounded so good as well, she was hilarious and adorable the whole show. Her album Breakaway was actually the first album I ever bought so getting to see her live was pretty much a dream come true. 
- Jessica

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Instax Diaries #4

Lately I've been taking classes at this really old campus downtown. On my first day there I passed the window shown above and I instantly wanted to try and capture it on film. I love taking pictures of window and vines so when I stumbled across this wall, I knew that this was a perfect place to take pictures. One day I'd love to try and have a shoot here but for now I extremely satisfied with how these photos came out. 

I decided to show the last two photos because they reflected my trial and errors trying to get the right exposure. The first one is a little overexposed, while the second one is extremely underexposed. For all these photos I used my Lomo'Instant, and I think since I've been using this camera for a while I gotten used to working with the settings. I still like having the safety net of using my digital camera, and having a built in light meter and being able to frame images that way that I want. But for the first three photos I really paid attention to the lighting and framing and I remember being elated as I watched them develop. - Jessica 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Top Five Books I've Read This Year (So Far)

2015 is more than half over, and so far I've read 71 books this year. When I started my goal of reading more books this year, I didn't think I'd make this much progress in a little over 7 months. I had really wanted to beat last year's record of 40 books, but now that I've read so many I want to see if I can read 100 books, maybe even 125 this year. So here are my favorite books I've read so far this year and a short explanation as to why:

1. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenze - I knew from the second that I read the summary of this book that I would love it. The story is so beautiful and touching that I became swept up in it. I absolutely fell in love with everything about this book, so much so that I have trouble placing all those feelings into words.

2. The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson - This book is the sequel to Kiss of Deception, which I had read earlier this year and I had liked the story but I wasn't blown away by it. So I didn't have very many expectations going into this book, and I ended up absolutely loving it. I absolutely love slow building and complex stories so reading this book was like eating candy. This book was so well developed and as I was turning each page I was anxious for what would happen next. Everything in this book is building up so much and I'm anxiously awaiting for the next book to come out.

3. I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson - I absolutely love how this story was told with the alternating perspectives between the twins. This book is so beautifully written and I love how all the elements of the story developed. The ending of this story was so beautifully crafted and I love how everything came together at the end.

4. To All The Boy's I've Loved Before by Jenny Han - I honestly expected this book to be a cheesy YA romance novel, and I was proven wrong. The romantic elements are there (and they're really cute), but there's so much more than that. I really loved the family elements, and the main character, Lara Jean, is the most realistic and relatable character that I've read in YA literature.

5. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson - This book surprised me so much. I read this while I was in a mood to read some cute YA contemporary books, and I wasn't expecting anything to really come of reading it. But I became so emotionally involved in the story and the characters. One of my favorite things is when a book is so well written that I become absorbed in the characters and their experiences. I experienced that while reading this book and I was sobbing by the end of it.

I have several books that I didn't include in this list but I still love, like Vicious by V. E. Shwab and Two Kissing Boys by David Levithan. So maybe the ones that I didn't add to this post will end up on my top 10 favorite books of 2015 post later this year. There are also books that are coming out later this year that I feel will end up on that list, like Winter by Melissa Meyer and Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. As always you can follow me on Goodreads to see what I'm currently reading as I try to read 100 books by the end of the year (fingers crossed!) - Jessica

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Books I Read In July

I didn't have a whole lot of time to read during the month of July, but I still managed to read 10 books. I did a really good job of reading the books that I own this month, only checking out one book from the library. But of the nine books that I read and owned, six of them were purchased in July so that didn't really help me reduce my TBR pile.  So here are the books that I read this month along with some of my feelings on them:

In A World Just Right by Jen Brooks - This book centers around a boy who after surviving a plane crash, he realizes he can create his own universes. He creates a universe where someone he knows is his girlfriend and everything starts to intertwine when he mixes the real world with his made up one. This story was so complex and involved several plot twists that I'm still wrapping my head around. I was really intrigued by the concept of this story and I think it was well executed. Overall I felt that the story and characters were well developed but I felt that there were some minor plot points that didn't add up. Overall I really liked this book and I can see myself rereading it sometime in the distant future.

Love Fortunes and Other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius - This book follows Fallon, who lives in a society where love is predetermined and she rebells against her fortune that predicts she will not fall in love. This book ended up being a light fantasy, which worked for the story but I really wanted to know more about the magical aspect of the world. The world the author created was really interesting, and I ended up really liking this book.

The Summer I Turned Pretty Trilogy by Jenny Han - This trilogy follows Belly (short for Isabel), and her family and friends each summer at their shared beach house. I had a lot of expectations going into reading this series because I love Jenny Han's writing, her series, To All The Boys I've Loved Before is high on my favorite list. I ended up liking this series but I didn't love it as much as I wanted to. I really liked the characters, but I wasn't a fan of the love triangle and that made it harder for me to get into the last two books. The redeeming qualities were that I really like how the series ended and there was a part in the second book where I started crying because the emotions were so raw.

The Land of Stories: Beyond The Kingdoms by Chris Colfer - This book is the fourth installment of The Land of Stories series. The series follows twins, Alex and Connor, after they get trapped in a fairytale world. I love this series, the stories are great and they're full of humor. This series has the strangest and most hilarious twists to classic fairy tale characters. Currently Chris Colfer plans to write one more book in the series, but he has said that he's considering writing a sixth one. This book was not my favorite it in the series, it felt like the first part of a story to me. There was a lot of storylines that were built up and left as a giant cliffhanger. I'm really looking forward to the fifth book being released next year because I really want to know how everything get's resolved.

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson - This book is the sequel to The Kiss of Deception, which I read earlier this year. I really liked The Kiss of Deception, but this book completely floored me. I seriously loved everything about this book, and it has earned a place on my favorites shelf. The author did such an incredible job developing the story and characters, everything about this series is extremely well written. I had the chance to go meet the author and get my books signed, and it was a fun experience to hear her talk about this series. I seriously can't wait for the third book to come out because this story is so beautiful and I need to know what happens next.

Shatter Me Trilogy by Tahereh Mafi - This is a dystopian YA series that revolves around a girl who can't touch anyone without torturing them to death. I ended up loving this series, it's well written and I liked how everything came together. The thing that blew me away about this books was the character development, especially Juliette and Warner's. I absolutely hated Warner during the first book, but the author wrote him so well that my opinion of him changed dramatically towards the end. I think Warner has the best development of any character I've yet to read. I just really love how well written this series is, and I'm looking forward to reading more of Tahereh Mafi.

So those are the books that I read during July, and I've already started reading Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour and Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson. As always, feel free to follow me on Goodreads to see my reviews on these books and I see my progress during August. - Jessica