Lifestyle

A Little Reading Update

20:56

It’s been a while. I think it’s been a month since I last published a post? I’ve thought of loads of ideas, but this blog has had to be sidelined a little due to life getting in the way. Because of all this, I haven’t even had much time for Twitter (I know, the horror!), so I thought today I’d give you a little update on what I’ve been reading, because I've read some really good books recently.

Illuminae
Since we last spoke, I’ve read some really good books - Illuminae being one of them. It seems everyone has been raving about this book forever, so I have wanted to read it for ages, but I finally read it at the end of October. And I loved it! It was so addicting and fast paced - I just wish I had read it sooner! I'm really hoping Santa might bring me Gemina for Christmas, because I am so excited to continue with the series.

...And A Happy New Year?
You might remember me adoring the Spinster trilogy a few months ago, so I was desperate to read this one as soon as I got it. I’m really glad we got a novella to round of the series, because I was not ready to let these characters go! I’m still upset that the series is over, but I’m glad we got to see what happened to them. I will miss this series so much!

A Little Life
If you have spoken to me at all in the past few weeks, you will know just how much this book means to me. It’s the biggest book sitting on my shelf, but I managed to read it in under a week (a school week too!). This is the best book I’ve ever read, because I saw so much of myself in the characters. It truly is my favourite book ever because it touched me so deeply; I don't think I have ever cried so much in a book! I am so glad I read it, but now I am desperate to reread it. I want to write a full review very soon (if I can gather my thoughts together!), so hopefully I will!

I’m really hoping life will clear up soon so I’ll be able to get back to blogging properly soon. Tell me:
What have you been reading lately? What’s been going on in your life? I would love to know!


Blogging

7 Tips For Getting Out of a Blogging Slump

11:00


Blogging slumps. It seems like every single blogger gets into them sometimes (if you don’t, are you even human?), and when you do, it’s one of the most frustrating feelings. I know I absolutely hate having no inspiration for my blog, because I love my blog - it’s my baby! Blogging is one of my favourite things to do, so if I can’t... it’s not fun! I think I’ve seen a lot of people recently who feel like they’re in a bit of a runt, so here are some tips to help you out:

1. Have a design make over
This might sound like a weird one, but for me it really works. If for a while you feel like you’ve had no inspiration, you could drastically change your blog design. For me, this always makes me feel so excited to blog again, because I want to see what my new content looks like! Because my blog feels so pretty again, I tend to fall in love with it, so I want to work on it, which usually gives me so much motivation.

2. Read some of your older blog posts
When I’m feeling like my blog isn’t special to me anymore, I like to go through the archives and read the posts which I’m most proud of. For me, this reminds me of what I can write when I want to, and how great I can make my blog. Something that also helps is reading the comments on these posts - often when I’ve published a post I’m really proud of, other people like it too, and their kind words motivate me to carry on!

3. Hire a co-blogger
If you feel like you’ve been stuck in a slump for ages, something you could consider is getting a co-blogger to join your blog. Obviously I don’t have a co-blogger, but I’ve seen it work for a few people, since you’ll have someone else to share ideas with. Also, even if you do get into a slump whilst you have a co-blogger, you don’t need to worry! They’ll be able to post whilst you’re away, so they’ll be no pressure on you. I think this would mean that you’ll be able to get back to blogging quicker!

4. Chat to some blogger friends about it (thanks Emily for this tip!)
For some people, talking to blogger friends can really help. You could have a chat to some friends about your favourite parts about blogging, share tips, or even just have a good moan about how annoying blogging slumps are! If you want someone to chat to, I love making new friends, and my DMs are always open!

5.  Participate in a meme (even if only once)
Don’t get me wrong - I’m of the opinion that I don’t want to participate in a blog meme like Top Ten Tuesday (I think they’re repetitive and often unoriginal). But, because they’re so easy to make (someone thinks of the topic for you!), it might just help to get the inspiration flowing. I think the topics for TTT are really interesting (I just don’t like reading 20 of the same posts every week!), so they could inspire you to write your own post, or put your own spin on the suggestions.

6. Keep a list of blog post ideas
This tip isn’t really a way to get out of a blogging slump; more of a way to prevent one in the future. I have a word document of all my blog post ideas, so whenever I think of one, I can add it to the list, and then when I have time, I can come back and write it. I have hundreds, so if I feel like I don’t have any inspiration, I can check that list, and I’ve got a totally original post to write! I know some people do this in a journal instead, which is a super cool idea too.

7. Just wait it out
If all else fails, sometimes you’ve just got to wait until it passes and you get your blogging mojo back. You could publish a post telling your followers that you’re taking a break, and then just do something else completely for a couple weeks/months. Sometimes just completely taking it off your mind is the best thing that you could do, so then when you do feel like blogging again, there’s no pressure and you can come back in your own time.


If you're in a blogging slump right now, I hope this helps! Do you have any tips for getting out of one?

Book photos

How I Edit My Book Photos (using VSCO!)

08:00

As you may know, as well as blogging, I really love to use Instagram to share pictures the books I'm reading and loving. In almost all of my recent blog posts, I have included some pictures from my Instagram page, because I find my aesthetic there is pretty similar. Today I'm going to share how I edit all my photos for free!


When most people share how they edit their photos, it's systematic, and almost definitely, they use Photoshop. I don't have Photoshop (all of my banners are made using Fotor!), so I edit all my photos on my phone, using free apps. Obviously this is a lot cheaper, but it's also more convenient for Instagram, because I can upload them straight to Instagram from VSCO. You can get VSCO for free on most phones/tablets, but if you're really serious about it, you can pay extra for some filters (which I don't). I think this would be pretty pointless, because the free filters do look stunning!

When I first started using VSCO, I was totally overwhelmed, and so confused by the UI. It's very minimalist, so the icons can be very confusing because they don't look like what they do (in my opinion, anyway!). I upload my pictures to VSCO straight from my camera roll because honestly, I have no idea how to do it from the app.

I always edit the colours/structure of the picture before adding a filter, because then I can get it exactly how I want it.

Just a quick heads up: this post has lots of images in, so if you're reading this on mobile, I'm sorry if it's trippy!

Some people here would do the edits in a special order, but I just do them in the order of the icons! First I will change the exposure. I usually do +1, and that's what I'm going to do for this picture, because it's a little dark.


Depending on the lighting, I would -1 the contrast if it's a particularly bright day, but I took this photo on an overcast day, so I don't think the contrast needs changing. I then skip a few of the icons until I get to the sharpen tool, which is probably one of my favourites! I take all my photos on my phone, so the quality isn't that great, so the sharpen tool makes them look so much clearer.

I had to reach up high to take this photo, so my phone was probably wobbling around a bit, and it's not the clearest. So for this photo, I've changed the sharpen to +7 to make it seem clearer and to get the full detail of the book! (because come on, this cover is so pretty!)



I then use the saturation tool. Most people hate this, or only use it in negatives, but it's actually one of my favourites for editing photos. You have to be careful how heavily you saturate your pictures, but I find it makes them feel warmer and brighter, if you use the right amount. I use saturation on all my photos!

I find it works best with reds, and this photo has a lot of red in it, so I've used quite a lot: +3.


I then fiddle around a little with the highlights save, and shadows save, I don't really know what they do, just that they change the lighting a little! I find the shadows save tends to make my pictures feel calmer, which I really like, so I usually do +2/+3 of that.



Next I alter the temperature. This is so important, because the saturation makes my photos feel too warm, so I usually make them feel colder. It loses some of the brightness, but the colours still pop, which I really like! The combination of these two tools work really well for me - it's important to find balance because they're so strong, but I love how they work together.



I then use the tint feature. I don't really know what it's actually meant to be used for, except it makes the photo a little more blue-ey. I really like this! I usually do +1 or +2, so my pictures feel a little bit more mellow and calm.


The final things I do are add a filter, and crop my photo! I've tried out all the filters, and my favourite is HB1. I tend to do around +5 on this, so all my pictures match on my feed. I will then crop out the bad bits, so make the book more central!

How do you edit your photos? Are there any tips I need to improve my editing? Leave me your Instagram too - I'm always on the look out for new accounts to follow!

5 Stars

The best sequel ever? // ARC Review: A Torch Against the Night

07:00

A Torch Against the Night
By Sabaa Tahir


Series: An Ember in the Ashes #2
Source: Harper Voyager UK (thank you!)
Format: ARC
Page count: 464
Published (UK): 8th September 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy,

Elias and Laia are running for their lives.

After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf - the Empire's most secure and dangerous prison - to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars' survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene - Elias's former friend and the Empire's newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus's will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own - one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape... and kill them both.


***I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, This does not affect my opinion***

Last year, I devoured An Ember in the Ashes on holiday, but at the time I read it, it was a standalone! So, obviously, I was so excited when the sequel was announced, and even more excited when I got an ARC to review. I went in with high expectations, but it completely blew them away because it was so much better than AEITA (which I didn’t think was possible!). It is maybe even my favourite sequel of all time!

I think the reason I enjoyed it so much was because of how invested I was in the characters. I already knew and loved them from the previous book, so I enjoyed getting back into their voices. Helene was still my favourite character, and she had her own POV in this book, which made me so happy! She was so fierce and caring - everything she did was thought about because she was so sensitive and loyal. She’s my favourite character from a book ever!

I loved all the other characters, too. Laia and Elias are our other protagonists, and they were so well executed as well. I liked Laia because she was determined to get what she wanted, and nothing could stop her, even if everyone thought she couldn’t! She was so clever, and her strong loyalty to her family was admirable.

A Torch Against the Night was incredibly well written and paced. It was written through 3 POVs (which sounds confusing, but never was!), so something was always happening to at least one of the characters. This made the book relentlessly exciting, which made me never want to stop reading it! Sabaa Tahir’s writing has really improved since her last book (which I didn’t think was possible!) which makes me so excited to read more from here. I would highly recommend the series, as it’s now one of my all-time favourites!

4 stars

Review: The Problem With Forever

07:00

The Problem With Forever
By Jennifer L. Armentrout


Series: None
Source: Netgalley (thank you, MIRA Ink!)
Format: eARC
Page count: 474
Published (UK): 31st May 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Abuse,

For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.

Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.

It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.


When I began this book, I had no idea just how much it would affect me. To say this book made emotional would be to say the least! It’s such a tricky subject to write about, but the author handled it with care and sensitivity. It was beautiful, yet so heartbreaking, and I would highly recommend it to everyone.

This is a book about childhood abuse and negative pasts - how it affected the characters, and how the traumatic events have changed them forever. Obviously, it’s a very sensitive and hard hitting topic, which if not done right could be horrible and so offensive. I thought the topic was handled so carefully, which made the book even more heartbreaking.

The main thing that I liked so much about this book was just how emotionally affecting it was. I felt an instant connection to all the characters, so I was really invested in their story. The way they felt about themselves really impacted the way the story was going, so at many points I really felt like just shaking them! They were flawed, and seemed so real, which just made the book impact me even more, because I connected to them.

I really loved all the characters. Everyone was so unique and full of life that I really felt like I was in the moment, living it through Mallory’s eyes. Mallory was such a special character because she changed so much. The book showed that you can be quietly fierce, like Mallory was. Her strength and courage through such hard times was really admirable, and I loved reading about her fight.

My only problem with this book was the pacing. At the start, it did feel pretty slow, and there were some scenes that did feel unnecessary. I didn’t like Ainsley, so I found the parts where Mallory was with her to be pretty slow. I would have liked more time spent at Mrs Luna’s place too, because it was always so exciting there!

I would really recommend this book if you’re looking for  heart wrenching and very emotional book. I found the plot to be reminiscent of Colleen Hoover’s books, so if you’re a fan of her, I think you would enjoy this one! It takes a bit of time to get invested in the story, but once you are, this will be a story that is with you for a long time.