Saturday, December 31, 2016

Favorite Books of 2016


I read a lot of books this year and I particularly read a lot of really good books this year. So narrowing down the 138 books down to my top favorites was a little challenging. Here are my favorite books of 2016, in no particular order:

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson - This is a coming of age story that follows Henry Denton, a boy who has frequently been abducted by aliens and they have given him the choice to save the world in 144 days by pressing a red button, which he has has no intentions of doing so. I was absolutely floored by everything about this book, especially the characters and the plot. The author wrote an incredibly moving story, that I will be revisiting for years to come. I know I said that this list is in no particular order, but this book has the highest honors.

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski - This is the first book in a trilogy that revolves around a well respected general's daughter, Kestrel, and the consequences of purchasing a slave. I absolutely loved this trilogy and the first installment was my favorite of the three. Rutkoski's writing is beautiful and I love how she crafted the mentally strong, Kestrel. I also loved the romance aspects of this book.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas - This is the second book in Maas' Beauty and the Beast retelling/Fae trilogy. This book was leagues better than the first book, and I was blown away by how much the world and story evolved in this installment. I love how Maas tackled the huge subject of emotional abuse in Feyre's character. I'm impatiently waiting for the next book to come out in May.

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas - This is the fifth book in the Throne of Glass series. The ToG series is one of my absolute favorite series (right behind Harry Potter), and this installment did not disapoint. I shed so many tears and experienced so many different emotions while reading this book, it was a lot like a rollercoaster. This book ended on a massive cliffhanger and that fact is emotional hurting me, especially since I have no idea when the last book will be out.

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson - This book follows Andie, who has her whole summer planned out and then due to her father's political scandal her life is turned upside down and unexpected things happen to her. This book happens to be the only contemporary novel on my list. Lately I've realized that my tastes have shifted away from contemporary novels, but I will always read anything that Morgan Matson puts out. This book is fighting with Second Chance Summer as my favorite of her books. But in this one, I especially loved the friendship and family aspects (I'm very much in love with Clark), and there's also a ton of dogs in this book!

Air Awakens by Elise Kova - This is the first book in a series following Vhalla, a library apprentices, who discovers that she is the first person with air magic in a 150 years. I absolutely loved this book, especially the characters and the plot. Although there were some cliche elements, I was absolutely addicted to the story and finished this book in less than a day.

 The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan - This is the third book in The Heroes of Olympus series. I read A LOT of Rick Riordan books this year, 12 to be exact, and I loved all of them. I particularly loved the story of this novel and all the challenges the characters underwent.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo - This is the sequel to Six of Crows, which followed Kaz and his crew of criminals and misfits as they pull of an impossible heist. I enjoyed reading Six of Crows, but I felt that this book completely blew that one out of the water. I connected and understood the characters and their story so much better in this book. This book was also another emotional rollercoaster for me, so much happens in this story and I wish Leigh Bardugo would continue to write more books about these characters.

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare - This is the last book in The Infernal Devices trilogy. I finally read a Cassandra Clare book this year! I really loved this trilogy as a whole, especially the characters and their relationships with each other. Again, this was another emotional rollercoaster for me (the ending had me sobbing). I'm really happy I jumped on the Shadowhunter bandwagon this year.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

December Snapshots


I usually only share one snapshots post per month, but with the holidays and everything else, I've taken so many photos that I thought I would divide it up into two different posts.

1. I've been buying a lot more books than usual lately and my bookshelves have been in a really big disarray. With school done for the semester, I finally had time to rearrange everything and I spent almost a whole day getting it to my liking.

 

2. I've been wanting to get an eReader for a while now, especially since I like to check out ebooks from the library and so I decided to get the Kindle Paperwhite while it was on sale during Black Friday. // 3. I've also been buying a lot of vinyl lately and I was so happy when my limited edition vinyl of KAYE's Honey came in the mail.


4. I finally tried Voodoo Doughnuts. Their doughnuts are really good, but I'm a little biased towards Gourdough's


5. I'm still obsessed with Fantastic Beasts! I saw it for a fourth time and I've added another Newt to my Funko collection and I jumped at getting these bookmarks from Happy Hello Art. // 6. I've also slowly been adding the new wave of Harry Potter Funkos to my collection. Harry and Ron in their Weasley sweaters are definitely some of my faves yet. // 7. I've somehow got through loving Harry Potter all these years and never had a Harry Potter ornament for my family's christmas tree until now.


8. And now for the real reason why I decided to make a second snapshots post this month. For Christmas this year, my family got me a corgi puppy! His name is Fawkes and he's a lot to handle but I'm obsessed with him. - Jessica 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Holiday Snapshots


1. Reedit from this year's Trail of Lights post.



2-5. Decorating the tree! My family actually got a live tree this year and it's so much more exciting than having our old plastic tree out.

6.
A photo posted by Jessica (@7remedies) on


And not pictured is the sheer amount of Christmas music I have listened to, especially Pentatonix's Christmas music since they have a new holiday album. As a result I added a couple of my favorite tracks to the holiday playlist I made last year.

Have a merry Christmas! - Jessica 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Instax Diaries #8


I can't believe it has been 6 months since I've made my last instax post, I've gotten quite a few good shots since then but I haven't been shooting instant film enough lately. I do have some monochrome film in the mail, that I can't wait to test out. So hopefully during break I'll have a little bit more time to experiment.



As always, I only took photos of trees and leaves... - Jessica

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Trail of Lights (2016)


My absolute favorite holiday event in Austin is the Trail of Lights. I've been going since I was a kid and every year I love to blog my shots from the Trail. So here are some of the shots I got this year...


Happy holidays! - Jessica 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Bookish Goals For 2016 (Con't)


At the beginning of the year, I set a couple of bookish goals for myself. One of the goals I set for myself was to read 70 books, I surpassed that goal and have so far read a total of 135 books (with two weeks to spare). I also made a list of books that I would like to read this year, and did not do as good of a job with reaching the goal of this list. So here's the list of books that I wanted to get through this year:

1. Jane Austen collection - Of the 6 novels that Jane Austen wrote, I read one this year. And I almost didn't finish it. I started reading Persuasion in February and I didn't end up finishing it until this month. And it wasn't because it's a terrible book (I really loved it), but I was slowly reading it and I just kept picking up other books to read instead.  One day I will read the rest of her novels, because I absolutely loved Persuasion and I know her other books are just as loved.

2. The Grisha Trilogy and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo - I feel really accomplished because I read all four of these books this year, plus the sequel to Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom. I really enjoy Bardugo's writing, and her characters. I definitely understand why her books are so popular now.

3. Forgive Me if I've Told You This Before by Karelia Stetz-Waters - I failed at reading this book this year. I did start this book and got about 40 pages in before I set it down, and never picked it up again. Absolutely nothing was wrong with the 40 pages I read, I just wasn't feeling in the mood for reading it at the time. This is really rare for me, because I'm the type of person who once I start a book, I finish it (I don't like to DNF a book). This year I really wasn't in the mood for reading contemporary novels, and a majority of the ones that I did read (with the exception of like 2 or 3), didn't blow me away. I think as I've grown older, my tastes have shifted more and I enjoy reading fantasy novels a lot more. That being said, I am still really intrigued by the plot of this novel and I hope to get around to finishing it.

4. The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi - And this is another book series I didn't get to. In my defense, I read a lot of other middle grade books this year (including a ton of Rick Riordan books and the WondLa Trilogy). But at the same time, these were the easiest books to read on my list because they're so short (there's five books and they're all under 150 pages), so I don't really have a great excuse for not getting to these.

5. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - And again, I still haven't read this. I've wanted to read this book for so long, and I've heard nothing but good things about it. This is another book that I still really want to read, I just didn't have the time to read it.

6. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson - And for the last book on my list, I did get to this one. I enjoyed this book, the art style and the story were fantastic. I also read more graphic novels this year, and I really enjoy them.

So of the 18 books in this list, I managed to read 7. I know that there still two weeks left in the year, but I've got a list of books I want to finish before then and unfortunately these titles aren't on that list. So I didn't do the best job of completing the books on this list, but I'd rather have more books on my TBR then to have none at all. - Jessica

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Books I Read In November


During the month of November I didn't have a whole lot of reading time, and I only managed to read 8 books. This was actually my worst reading month of the year, but I really liked to books I got around to reading during that time. So here are all the books I read in November and my thoughts and spoiler free opinions on them...

This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills - This book centers around Sloane, who has just moved to a new state and has never really had friends before she met twins, Vera and Gabe. During this book, Solan sets out on an adventure to recover a painting by the twin's late mother. I enjoyed this book and I really enjoy the authors writing. I did have some really high expectations for this book, because the author's first book First & Then rekindled my love for contemporary YA novels.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer - This is an origin story for the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, and centers around how Catherine became a villain. I really loved this book, I think the author did a fantastic job of capturing the environment of Lewis Carroll. I really like the story that Marissa Meyer created for Catherine and how it explains her character from Alice. Marissa Meyer is also the author of one of my favorite series, The Lunar Chronicles, and I absolutely love how she reinvents common stories in general.

The Royals Trilogy by Erin Watt - This series follows Ella after her mother's death, when she goes to live with a friend of her father's and his five sons. I hardly read straight up romance novels, but I was really intrigued by the Cinderella premiss. These books were a little ridiculous at points, but they were so addictive and entertaining. I really liked these books and the characters, and I'm actually looking forward to reading some similar books in the future.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Screenplay by J. K. Rowling - I picked this up almost immediately after seeing the film, and I absolutely loved reading it. I loved seeing how J. K. Rowling's descriptions were taken and created perfectly on screen. I also loved reading each character and seeing how they were translated, and how the actors added so much to their roles. I highly recommend seeing the movie and breezing through this (it's such a quick read), because they each add so much more to my love for the Wizarding World.

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon - This book centers around the day Natasha and Daniel meet, for Natasha it is her last day in the states before she's deported and for Daniel he has a college interview for the professions his parents want for him. I liked this book, Nicola Yoon is an amazing story teller and I really like her writing style. This book tackles some serious issues of race and immigration and I really love seeing these types of diversity in YA novels.

Truthwitch by Susan Denard - This book centers around the unlikely friendship of Safiya and Iseult, one is a Truthwitch and can tell truths from lies and the other is a Threadwitch and can see the ties of people around her. This book centers around their escape from the royals who want to use and kill Safiya for her Truthwitch powers. This book absolutely blew me away. I love how complex the world the world building it and I absolutely loved the characters and their relationships. This book was initially really hard for me to get into, but as I unraveled the characters stories and the world, I could not put it down. I absolutely can't wait for the release of the second book, Windwitch, next month.

And those are all the books I read during the month of November. I've already completed my reading challenge of 130 books for the year, but since I'm almost done with school, I'm going to have a lot of free time and I just want to catch up on my reading. I'm also hoping to catch up on all my Harry Potter rereadings, as I have slowly been making my way through Deathly Hallows, I still need to read the illustrated edition of the Chamber of Secrets, and I have yet to read the Pottermore short stories that were released a couple of months ago. - Jessica

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

November Snapshots


I've been neglecting my blog this month but I have been so busy between school and having family over for both my sister's wedding and Thanksgiving. I didn't have a lot of chances to take photos this month but I did capture the most important events...

1. My sister's wedding was at the beginning of the month and that was one of the longest weekends of my life but her wedding turned out great and I had a lot of fun. For her wedding, one of my other sisters made like two hundred paper flowers and the above photos is of my bouquet.


2. "I'm not throwing away my shot..." I voted in my first presidential election and even though the outcome was not what I anticipated, I have no doubt that love will conquer over the next four years.


3. And obviously the most important event of the month, the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I absolutely loved the movie, and I've already seen it three times! I love everything that J.K. Rowling writes and I love that we are getting more from the Wizarding World. I will always love Harry Potter, but the release of this movie has rekindled my love in full force and I got really emotional on Instagram when I posted this photos.

So those are some of things that happened to me in November. I have two weeks left of classes for the semester, then Christmas will be here, and blogging during the holiday season is one of my all time favorite times. So I'll be able to share a lot of the photos I've taken then and catch up on my reading (I've only had time to read eight books so far this month *sigh*) - Jessica

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Books I Read in October


Life has been getting a little crazy lately and I was finally able to type up and share which books I read in October. I managed to read 9 books and a graphic novel last month, so here is what I read and some of my thoughts and opinions on them.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo - This is the sequel to Six of Crows, which followed Kaz and his crew of criminals and misfits as they pull of an impossible heist. I enjoyed Six of Crows but I didn't love it, with this books I was able to appreciate the characters and their story more. I really love the character development in this book, and I loved the story that I followed. I think this was a great conclusion to these two books, but I would not mind in the slightest if Leigh Bardugo decided to write more from this world and of these characters.

True Letters From a Fictional Life by Kenneth Logan - This book follows, James, a high school soccer player, who starts to realize he has feelings for guys. This book sold me over when I saw that it was compared to as the male version of To All the Boys I've Loved Before (which is one of my favorites). I really liked this book and I really admire how the author handled the topic of coming out. I did have some problems with plot issues but I like how everything came together in the end.

The Rose Society and The Midnight Star by Marie Lu - These are the last two books in The Young Elites Trilogy, which revolves around the anti-hero, Violetta, who has the power of crafting illusions. I had no idea where Marie Lu was going to take these two books because the first book ended on a major plot twist, but I ended up really enjoying these two books. I like how Violetta was characterized and how she grew as a character, even though I couldn't relate to her. I also really liked how this series wrapped up and I can't wait to see what Marie Lu writes next.

Replica by Lauren Oliver - This book is a "flip book" that follows two girls, Lyra and Gemma, who each carry stories that intersect. When I heard about this book, I was immediately intrigued by the premise, and I ended up alternating chapters (Lyra then Gemma) while reading it. I love how the plot was crafted and how the stories lined up. I liked Oliver story but I do think the plot fell a little flat in the end. I am still really looking forward to the next book because I like how the stories were told.

The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle - This book revolves around Quinn, an aspiring screenwriter but after his sister passed in a car accident, he trying to figure out how the type of person he wants to be. I liked this book, I enjoyed the characters and I liked the writing style, especially how some parts were written as a screenplay.

Saga, Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - This is the second volume in a graphic novel series that centers around Hazel, who was born to two different species that have been at war with each other. I enjoyed this volume, especially the world building. I still think this is a really cool concept and I'm looking forward to continuing on with the series.

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff - This is the second book in The Illuminae Files Trilogy, which is a SI-FI series told entirely through files (emails, audio transcriptions, documents...). I absolutely loved the first book in this trilogy, it was one of my favorite books that I read last year, and this book had a lot to live up to. I loved this book, but I didn't love it as much as the first book. I love how the authors challenge my imagination as I'm reading their stories, and their writing is fantastic. I love how this book answered a lot of questions from the first book, but also asked so many questions and I can't wait to read how everything wraps up in the last book (which is expected to be published in fall 2017).

The Archived and The Unbound by Victoria Schwab - This series revolves around Mackenzie, who is a Keeper, aka someone who captures the dead waking souls, Histories, and returns them to the Archive. The world that Schwab has created in this story is so complex and deep but I had a lot of trouble connecting to the main character and I didn't really care for her story in the first book. I liked the second book a lot more and I like the direction that the author took the series. Schwab has confirmed that there will be a third book in the series, but not much else has been announced. I will definitely be reading the third book when it comes out, because I think that there is still more left to this story.

And those are the books that I read in October. November has already been a really slow reading month for me, but I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving break next week to catch up on my reading goal. - Jessica

Monday, October 31, 2016

October Snapshots


1. This was taken when I was reading Replica by Lauren Oliver. I didn't get as much reading done as I wanted to this month but I did meet a ton of authors! In addition to going to the TTBF, I went to signings for Lauren Oliver, Maire Lu, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. 


2. My sisters and I randomly decided to visit UT on a Saturday, partly to get food and partly to see what Hazel would do at Turtle Pond. At first she really wanted to jump in the water but then some of the turtles freaked her out and she was over it. // 3. I've lived in Austin my whole life and somehow have never been to the greenbelt. At the beginning of the month my family went and we took our dogs.


4. I went to the Taylor Swift F1 concert! It was my second time seeing her live (I went to the Red Tour in May of 2013). I love seeing Taylor live, she's been one of my favorite artists since I was 11. I also loved how she played a mix of old and new songs at the show.


5. UT vs. Baylor. I went to my first UT football game this past week! I'm not a big football fan (I prefer soccer) but I ended up having a lot of fun and it was cool to show off some school spirit. We ended up wining by a point, my friend who goes to Baylor was so upset over the score! - Jessica

Thursday, October 27, 2016

October OwlCrate


In my last blog post I mentioned that I finally subscribed to OwlCrate, a monthly YA subscription box. I wanted to share what I got in the October box, and if you're interested in subscribing to OwlCrate please use my referral link and you can use the code WELCOME10 to receive 10% off.


The theme for October was Once Upon a Dream and the book included was Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter. I hadn't heard of this book previously and I'm looking forward to reading it. I always love to read and hear about fairy tale retellings and this book seems perfect.


The box included
  1. Along with the book, there was a signed book plate, a temporary tattoo, and a letter from the author
  2. A Sleeping Beauty bracelet from The Geeky Cauldron
  3. A Peter Pan beanie from Whosits and Whatsits
  4. Oz Passport - a mini journal
  5. A bookmark from My Heart My Tribe
  6. A Sleeping Beauty button

November's box is Wonderland and I'm 99.9% certain that I know what book it is. OwlCrate is also going to have an exclusive cover for the book and I can't wait to get my copy! - Jessica

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Texas Teen Book Fest 2016


At the beginning of the month I attended the Texas Teen Book Festival, which is an annual event that usually has around 25 authors participating in panels and signings. This was my 3rd consecutive time attending this event, but I remember going to the very first TTBF in 2009. This year I had so many authors that I wanted to meet and get my books signed. I unfortunately didn't get to meet two of the authors I was looking forward to seeing because I had to leave the fest early to go to work, but overall I did get a lot of books signed.


I ended up bringing about 15 books to the festival and I bought five books while I was there. Above is all the books I got signed (plus the second and third book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bones Trilogy). Here are some of the highlights of meeting some authors:
  • David Arnold drew a bus in my copy of Mosquitoland
  • Mary E. Pearson and I talked a little bit about how much I love her The Remnant Chronicles series and how I had previously met her last year. 
  • I wore my Marauders shirt from The Colorful Geek and Sabaa Tahir and I bonded because she owns the shirt as well. 
  • I was really looking forward to meet Shaun David Hutchinson and I told him that his book We Are the Ants is one of my all time favorite books, and he shared with me some details about his upcoming publications. 
  • I also met Laini Taylor and Book People had signed copies of Strange the Dreamer available for sale and I can't wait until March to get my copy. Since Strange the Dreamer's release date got pushed back, Taylor was handing out samplers of the first 100 pages of the book. 


I unfortunately wasn't able to meet Leigh Bardugo or Morgan Rhodes because I had to leave early and go to work. I luckily already have a signed book by both authors and I was able to get within close proximity to both of them, but I really hope that both authors will come back to the central Texas area soon. Leigh Bardugo was definitely the most popular author at the event and even though I didn't get to meet her, I was in awe when I saw that she stayed for hours making sure everyone got their books signed. And someone had an extra copy of the cards that Bardugo was handing out during her signing and they kindly gave me their Inej card!


There were also various booths set up during the festival for various publishing companies and other book related merchandise. One of them was OwlCrate, a monthly YA book subscription box, and at there booth I got a lot of fun trinkets. I also finally subscribed to OwlCrate after lusting over their Instagram account and watching various unboxing videos, so I'll be sharing photos of my first box soon.

So that was my experience at the 2016 TTBF, it has been really cool to see how big the festival has gotten over the years and how big the YA community in Austin has grown. - Jessica