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The Diversity Corner #2 : March Updates, Asian Representation, and April New Releases

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Hello everyone, welcome to the second edition of The Diversity Corner! ♥

ICYMI, I talked about Muslim representation in books on my first edition, you could read it here. Today I’ll be talking about Asian representation and I teamed up with several Asian bloggers to put this post together! 😀 But before we get there, as usual, I’m bringing you some diversity-related news and updates ♣

P.S. it’s gonna be long, so grab your drink, settle into a comfortable position, and read 😉 Continue reading

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9

The Evolution of My Book Photography Style

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Hello everyone! ♥

If you do book photography—whether it’s for your blog or bookstagram or both, you must have taken some times to experiment with your photography style before eventually finding one that you’re comfortable with. To be honest, this is an ongoing process. You never stop experimenting because even if today you have found your favorite styles, you might find another favorite in the future. Especially if you’re someone who’s always looking for the next best style. Like me 😛

As you’ve seen from the title, today I’m gonna show you the evolution of my photography style 😀

Style #1 : The Simple Flatlay

I started out taking pictures of books long before I created my instagram account. At first I used my phone because it was simple, and I didn’t think I would need more options—the ones that camera provides. My first style was super simple! They’re all flatlays of books with a few of my stuffs. 

That was pretty basic and practically required no effort to set up 🙈 while some bloggers/bookstagrammers could pull off this simple style effortlessly, I failed miserably 😂 I wasn’t satisfied at my pictures. I hated looking at the empty spaces and I always had this urge to fill those empty spaces up, which is weird because if you look at my blog design, it’s all about empty white spaces 😛

Style #2 : The Origami Phase

After realizing the fact that I hated empty spaces, I started to look for props to make my pictures look more cluttered. At first it was difficult because when I looked at those pretty pictures on instagram, everybody seemed to use expensive props like candles, funko, etc. Some bookstagrammers successfully used random items as their props but when I tried using random items on my pictures, they looked like… well, random items 😂 it was very discouraging ahaha that was when I discovered the magic of origami ♣

Spoiler : I didn’t make those paper stars. I can’t 😂🙈 buuut I did make the origami flowers and butterfly. They’re very easy to make! This is also around the time when I started using my brother’s DSLR. I didn’t understand a single thing about it though, so I only used automatic hahaha it was pretty satisfying for a newbie.

Style #3 : The Graduation Flowers Edition

I’d always wanted to use flowers as props but to have to buy them myself ONLY for props sounded… absurd. And redundant. No judging any of you who does, but I’m cheap and I don’t want to spend money on things that don’t last 😂😂 but then the day finally came for me to use flowers as props! Remember how I got so many flowers on my graduation day? Those flowers served as my props, at least while they last 😛

I actually really liked this aesthetic! It’s pretty and I love the colors, especially because the flowers came in so many colors I basically had so many choices.

Style 4 : The Drying Flowers

Like I said above, flowers don’t last. I put them in a vase of water but still, in less than week they started to dry. But hey, drying flowers still make good props, right? So I thought. I started using them as my props and while at first they looked great, I started to dislike them rather quickly.

The thing with using dried flowers as props is they made the pictures looked a lot darker than I preferred. Compare it with the pictures above, you’d see the difference. This was the time when I started to experiment with manual setting, because as you see, the pictures are dark 😂 I wanted to brighten them, but unfortunately (or fortunately?) automatic setting didn’t suffice. So I had to learn to play with ISO, aperture, and shutter speed 😛

Style #5 : The Autumn Vibes

There’s really no stopping the flowers from dying, so one day I asked my friend about what to do with my flowers because I didn’t want to throw them out. She told me to pry all the dried petals and put them in a jar, it would look pretty, she said. It was actually a good idea so I started prying them, but then halfway through it I realized these dried petals would be great for props! I mixed them with my paper stars and voila ♥

I also started to experiment with props and used random stationery items for my pictures. Thankfully they blended well enough and no longer looked like random items 😂🙈 I called this autumn aesthetic because with all the dried petals and flowers, they created an autumn-ish vibe. Maybe. I don’t know, I’m a tropical girl and we don’t have autumn here 😛 anyway, I was pretty content and I stuck with this style for a long time… until something dreadful happened.

Style #6 : The Extinction of the Dried Petals

Sometimes in last September or October, I completely lost ANY desire to take pictures. I can’t remember why, maybe I didn’t have any inspiration, time, or was simply lazy. But I went for a few weeks without taking any pictures. During this brief hiatus, I stored my dried petals in a shoe box and it was closed. Fast forward a few weeks later, I suddenly wanted to take pictures and when I opened my shoe box, the dried petals were humid and covered with mildew. I freakeeeed 😂😂😂 honestly it felt like a step back because I lost a vital prop and didn’t have anything to replace it yet. So I started taking pictures with my usual style—only without the petals.

I really didn’t like this style, I thought it looked so boring. I started using my origami paper to spice things up. It worked, but it didn’t look like my style at all. It only lasted a few pictures before I tried on another 🙈

Style #7 : The Dried Petals Replacement & Return of the Flowers

I spent some time thinking of something to replace my dried petals then one day I went to the bookstore and found some dried wooden skins in arts and crafts section. It was a bit overpriced but I bought it. And while I was at it, might as well buy some flowers, or so I thought. The color is more white with less autumn vibe but it worked so well. I really liked this aesthetic, too bad it didn’t last long because the flowers (inevitably) dried 😂

Style #8 : The Fake Flowers

I was so done using flowers only to have them dried a week later so I decided to buy fake flowers altogether. If I was gonna spend money on it, might as well spent it on things that last, right? 😛 at first it was kind of difficult to set up but after some times experimenting, I started to really love this style. This is actually the style that I still use 😀 I’ve experimented with the set up and props ever since but my general aesthetic remains the same.

So you see, it took me a while to finally settle on this current style. I’m probably not gonna stick to it forever, but for now I’m pretty satisfied with it and have no intention of changing style anytime soon ♥

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Alright everyone, that was the evolution of my book photography style! I went through roughly 8 styles before settling with my current style. Which one do you like best? What about you, did you do a lot of experimenting before finding your perfect style? I’d love to hear your thoughts! ♥

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36

Review : The Bear and the Nightingale // Cold, Dark, and Captivating

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RATING : 45-stars

Goodreads • Amazon The Book Depository

There are two things that drawn me into this book : 1) Russian folklore and 2) gorgeous cover. I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book and I thought, even if I didn’t, the cover only was worth buying 😛 After reading it from end to end, I could say that The Bear and the Nightingale is one of those bizarre books that just work.

I always enjoy books with Russian vibe, but this book takes place in a rarely seen side of Russia. The characters live in this land called Lesnaya Zemlya, the northern part of Russia where the winter is so long. Since most of the stories take place in winter, the atmosphere of the book was cold and dark. Its depiction of winter nights and forests gave me chill. You just can feel the cold… figuratively.

The pace of the story was slow. It started before Vasya, our main character, was even born and ended until she was roughly 15. It was told from third person point of view and while at first I felt disconnected from the characters, I grew to love it as the story progressed. The way it was told was whimsical. It’s like hearing a fairy tale being read to you on a cold, dark night while you huddle under the blanket near the fire place. The prose is so rich, lyrical, and detailed. It was enchanting, but maybe not for those who prefer their stories fast paced and action packed. This isn’t that kind of story.

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The Bear and the Nightingale has some of the most complex and profound characters I’ve ever read about. They’re just endearing! ♥ At least some of them, while the rests are infuriating but still equally complex. I love Vasya to pieces. She’s so brave and caring, loyal and innocent, but not naive. She loves her family and her horses and the magical creatures so much. It hurts to see her misunderstood by so many people. I didn’t realize how much I care about her until I cried for her 😂

I adore almost all Vasya’s siblings as well. Olga, Sasha (!!!), Irina, and Alyosha (!!!) (sorry Kolya, you didn’t make the list. You’re annoying). They’re so sweet and loving especially Alyosha. I love seeing his relationship with Vasya. He takes care of her. He’s skeptical, but he always believes in Vasya and he’s willing to get involved in whatever weird things Vasya does just so she won’t be alone. It’s sweet ♥ Sasha’s exactly the same, too bad he went to Moscow early in the book and we didn’t get the chance to see more of him 😦 Their father Pyotr isn’t bad either. He’s complicated and I like it. The only person I don’t like from this book is Anna Ivanovna, Vasya’s stepmother. She’s mean and cruel to Vasya </3

The plot didn’t really kick until the third part of the book. The first part was more about introduction and history. It talked about who’s who, Vasya’s mother, the kids’ childhood, and the original tale of the Winter king. Part 2 mostly talked about Vasya’s life during her adolescence and her relationship with the magical creatures around her. Now part 3 is when the story gets serious. I tell you, IT’S CREEPY. Like, seriously! I was scared??? I had to close the book because I read at night and the story started to spook me. Some of the scenes were really graphic too 😂

By the end of the book, I was feeling content but also unsatisfied at the same time. Content because it didn’t end in cliffhanger and we actually got to see the resolution of the conflicts. Unsatisfied because while one conflict was resolved, we know that there will be more to the story, so much more, and I can’t wait to find out what will happen next. I’m also incredibly excited because I heard book two will tell us more about Olga and Sasha, Vasya’s elder siblings who both live in Moscow.

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ALL IN ALL, The Bear and the Nightingale was an enchanting story with rich and whimsical prose that will sway you with its magical vibe. It’s dark and cold and creepy but it will also charm you, especially because the characters are so endearing. However, this isn’t for the readers who like their story fast paced because this one is slow, but worth it ♥

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Book Title : The Bear and the Nightingale (The Bear and the Nightingale #1)
Author : Katherine Arden
Publisher Del Rey
Release Date : January 17th 2017

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

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Have you read The Bear and the Nightingale? What do you think about it? I’d love to hear your thoughts ♥ Also, I’m open to recommendations if you have any favorites Russian-inspired books 😀

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18

The Little Engine Tag

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Hello everyone! ♥

Welcome to that time of the month when I do a tag 😛 today’s tag is The Little Engine Tag, brought to me by Marie @ Drizzle & Hurricane Books. Marie tagged me a couple months ago and I immediately wanted to do it… but then I forgot about it and yesterday as I was scrolling through my tags I came across it again. Today I’m in the mood for some personal questions, so here you go! ♦ Continue reading

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Figuring Out Your Perfect Blogging Schedule

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Hello everyone! ♥

Today we’ll be talking about blogging schedule. I know a lot of you must have had your own schedules, but when I talked about it on my wrap up post last month, a lot of bloggers said that they still haven’t figured out their own schedule and they really want to change that. So here I am, sharing what I learned so far about things to consider when you want to create a blogging schedule 😀 

Before we start, let me make it clear that there is no one right way to blog. You can post whenever you feel like it. Any schedule (or no schedule at all) could work, as long as you’re happy with it. But if you’re a super organized, perfectionist bean like me, here are some suggestions that might help ♥ Continue reading

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Review : A Conjuring of Light // Intense, Comical, and Perfect

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RATING : 5 Stars

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Click here for my review of A Darker Shade of Magic • A Gathering of Shadow

SO, SO WORTH THE WAIT!!

In case you didn’t know, Shades of Magic is definitely one of my MOST favorite fantasy so naturally, I was really looking forward to this book. And guysss, the wait was so worth it because THIS IS AMAZING! This book is EVERYTHING I wanted and MORE ♥ This is one of those books that is SO GOOD it’s hard to review….. so bear with me while I try to find words? 😛

Plot wise, there’s no doubt this book was splendid. It picked up right where we left off on A Gathering of Shadows when Lila tried to go after Kell to White London. So yeah, we’re getting action since the first chapter and IT WAS INTENSE. I was already on edge from the start and stayed there until 5 chapters before the end. However, it wasn’t… as brutal as I feared it would be. Don’t get me wrong, it was VERY brutal with blood and deaths everywhere but I was kinda expecting something even more brutal. I’m morbid, I know. Continue reading

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Let’s Conquer My TBR : One Book at A Time

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Hello everyone! ♥

Welcome to my pile of shame : my TBR. Even as I was typing the title, I already knew it was futile because which bookworm, in the history of ever, has successfully conquered their TBR? None, I assume. Doesn’t matter how fast we read, we’ll never get ahead of our TBR because our TBR is endless and always expanding 🙈

Today I will present you my physical TBR. This is clearly not counting the unread books on my kindle app. Let’s not go there, shall we? 😂😂 I’m gonna need your help to decide which book I need to read soon so if you see a favorite, tell me! ♣ Continue reading