Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Bookstagram Reflection #1

Hi everyone! I recently started a bookstagram which you should definitely follow (shameless advertising but this is my blog so :P). It's been a few months so far, so I thought I'd reflect on what I learned and some of the stuff I want to implement. So here's 5 things I learned since September about bookstagram.

1. The more hashtags the better (until a certain point, ofc).
For one of my posts, I wasn't following/being followed by 8 of the people that reacted to it because I used the hashtag #bookstagram and #bookreview. In addition to using many tags, try to use generic ones to get people's attentions.
2. Choose popular books, and feature as many books as you can per post.
For the aforementioned post, I used Caraval, which is pretty well-known (in fact, the third book in the series is a winner in the best YA fantasy category in the Goodreads Choice Awards!). I also put 10 pretty well-known books in the background of that photo, and I think that helped.
3. Use props.
I use candleholders, baked goods, ceramic pots I make, faux flowers, pumpkins, etc. etc. These are really essential to add aesthetic appeal to your photo.
4. Lighting + Color is everything.
If you don't have natural light when taking your photo, apply one of Instagram's darker filters so the lighting looks intentional. For the Caraval photo, the colors of all the books were different and the picture didn't look good, but when I made everything black and white, the photo turned out quite nicely!
5. Sometimes angles, photos, and props just don't work out.
I've had to scrap some photos because they just didn't look good no matter how much I edited them. But that's okay; bookstagram is a learning process!






Baking, setting the stage, and photos I didn't really like and didn't post.
Setting up for a photoshoot.

Before the magic of editing!

Yum (except not really)!

This one looked okay, but I wasn't completely happy with the colors so I decided not to post it.
Overall, these past few months have been fun, and I've enjoyed using bookstagram! I'll be doing a few posts reflecting on my experiences from time to time. Until then, what do you think of bookstagram? Do you have any suggestions/tips/tricks for me? Let me know below! And please make sure to follow me @not_a_prima_donna_girl :).
Also, please follow me on bloglovin for quality content ;)

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Book Review: The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo


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Goodreads Synopsis: From the author of I Believe in a Thing Called Love, a laugh-out-loud story of love, new friendships, and one unique food truck.

Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn't so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind?

With Maurene Goo's signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look.


My Review: This reminds me so much of The Unexpected Everything (which, coincidentally, I haven't reviewed yet, so this might be a sort of dual-review). Both books involve:
  • girls living with their fathers + managing their relationships with their parent
  • friendship trouble
  • getting a summer job
  • changing perceptions through summer experiences
And both of them are very similar in style, too! I'd actually call these book twins (and I will be making a post about these!).

But going back to TWYMMF, I first and foremost enjoyed the diversity of the story. I drooled reading about KoBra and the Korean-Brazilian food (and definitely need to try both cuisines!); the main characters had different cultures and stories (a lost Korean-Brazilian girl, an African American girl struggling to be the best, and a Chinese boy trying to fit in); the story discussed microaggressions; and mental health was briefly touched upon. Clara was also a likable MC, her pranks were entertaining, and her relationship with her father was sweet. From reading about Clara's changing friendships, pool fun, and summer job, I enjoyed a peek into summer break.

At its core, though, the story was really a standard contemporary; though fun to explore and read, there wasn't really anything new I'd taken away, and the story was largely predictable. Clara was also very impulsive and didn't really change, even at the end. Additionally, Clara's parents are divorced, and there was a vibe of a good parent/bad parent; I'd like to see more stories where both parents just have different lives to lead and are equally loving to their kid(s). But I suppose in this case Clara's mother's character was important to Clara's character development, and I might have to let that point go :). 

Overall, The Way You Make Me Feel was a solid, diverse read, and I give it 3.5 stars. Have you read this story, or any other books my Maurene Goo? Let me know below!

Monday, December 30, 2019

My Blogoversary + End of the Year Recap

Happy Lisa Kudrow GIF by Friends
Credit: Giphy

Well, this is a surprise. Apparently my blog is 5 years old 🤭. Unfortunately this sometimes feels too real when blogger behaves like a fussy toddler with all of its rules... jk I love my blog, I really do.

But for real, these past few years with my blog have been so fun, and I'm sure next year will be even better! Today's post is all about my blogging resolutions for next year and a recap of what I've been up to this year.

  • I had a total of 30 posts this year. Not too bad, but I definitely want to post more next year!
  • I read... but I didn't really keep track of how many titles 😅. My goal for next year is to either use Goodreads or keep track of the books I enjoy in some way.
  • I attended an author event + acquired a signed copy of Capturing the Devil! (In case you missed the post, you can read more here.)
  • I started participating in Top Ten Tuesday, and it's been so fun connecting with other bloggers!
  • I got a bookstagram and embedded my feed on the bottom of my blog's homepage. I'm majorly proud! 🦚
  • I created a formula to validate how real your excuses are, and talked about quantum mechanics.
  • I watched Sherlock (all four seasons within 3 weeks :)).
  • I watched Friends (why Netflix is removing the best show in the world is beyond me). There will definitely be more Friends GIFs on this blog as I grieve.
  • I added some elements to my blog. You can now follow me on bloglovin, for example. I changed the theme to blue and started designing graphics for each post. I transferred old pages to the sidebar and added a better contact form for an overall more concise look :).
  • Blog more. My goal is to post once a week, every Tuesday, in 2020 (I made today's post on a Monday to align with my blogoversary :P).
  • Use Goodreads more. I have a lot of books marked to-read, and I have updated some of my reviews, but I want to be more consistent on that platform.
  • Use spreadsheet software to track what I read. If I made a list of everything I was obsessed with, Friends, spreadsheets, and Emma Watson would be tied. I'd love to be able to create a post with charts and graphs of what I read, so I'll use a spreadsheet next year and play around with it all I want 😌.
  • Engage with other bloggers more. Since I started participating in TTT, I've seen other bloggers' perspectives, and I'd like to do so more in 2020.
  • Use bookstagram more (at least once for every blog post). Once it literally took me 10 minutes to find the "share" button, though, so I'm still learning, but I find it really fun!
How was your year? Any resolutions for 2020? Let me know below!

Also, please follow my blog on bloglovin for quality content ;).

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Hope Santa Brings Me!

A Bookish Meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl
Christmas is scary because it means that the year is ending and I haven't gotten to half of my TBR, but it's also great because I can buy whatever books I'd like without feeling guilty (Santa would have wanted it that way ;) ). Here are 18 books on my TBR that I hope I'll get for Christmas!

1. The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling
2. A Million Junes
3. A Kind of Paradise
4. A Match Made in Mehendi
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5. A Thousand Beginnings and Endings
6. When Dimple Met Rishi
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7. Again, but Better
8. Unscripted
9. If I'm Being Honest
10. Fake It Till You Break It
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11. Other Words For Home
12. Fountains of Silence
13. The Lady Rouge
14. Dangerous Alliance: An Austentacious Romance
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15. Descendant of the Crane
16. The Light Between Us
17. The Weight of Our Sky
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18. This Time Will Be Different
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What are you wishing for this year? Have you read any of the above books? Let me know your thoughts!

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Review: Caraval
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Goodreads Synopsis: Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic.


My Review: Considering this was a debut novel, it was not at all bad, but there were definitely parts the author could have written better. For example, in the beginning the writing is not descriptive enough; while I was reading it felt like I was skimming the book simply because there weren't enough details to understand Scarlett and the world she was living in. Also, Scarlett's problems are solved very soon; for example, she dreams a certain person might be Legend, and instead of waiting and acting suspicious around them, she just confronts him right away. Scenes like so could have been written with more detail to add more depth to the characters and enhance the plot.
     I also wasn't a fan of Scarlett or Julian; both seemed very one-dimensional and hypocritical at times. Tella was more of an interesting character, but as she was kidnapped, I didn't see too much of her.
      The mystery was alright, but I don't see how other characters would have found the answers to clues like Scarlett did (since she found most clues pretty randomly and half of the time she just guessed that found a a clue even if she wasn't sure she had). Although, after reading the ending, I suppose the clues were designed for Scarlett anyway. Still, they were too random to be realistic (ex she asks a man to read her fortune and he gives her a clue, but what if she had never gone to see him?).
     I was also confused on how the magic worked; sometimes Julian explained that performers were behind everything, and then he'd say the island had its own magic. 

***MINOR SPOILERS BELOW***
Wow, the story really was true to the fact that everything is a performance. I didn't really understand the point of what Tella did (I think she mentions that she never meant for their dad to find out, which doesn't make much sense because I thought she wanted Scarlett to leave their dad and never go back?), but perhaps I need to reread the ending. 
***END SPOILERS***

Overall, I give the story 3 stars. Though the magic and carnival were interesting, the story didn't blow me away.

Have you read Caraval or any fantasy-slash-mystery novels recently? What are your thoughts? Tell me below!
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