top five tips: book photography

31 January 2014

quite a few people have complimented me on my photographs i include in book hauls (thank you) and then orli asked me if i would do a post on my tips for good book photography. i asked around and it seemed like you guys were all interested so. ta da! sorry it's so wordy, i tried breaking it up with a few photographs but - i think it still looks a bit like an info overload. sorry again and i hope you read until the end! if you don't have time, just read the headings (!).
NEVER TAKE PHOTOS IN ARTIFICIAL LIGHT.
just don’t. ever. even if you have a professional camera that you can use in manual and change the aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings, i still wouldn’t recommend it for book photography. why? because what’s the rush? unless you are at an evening event inside who needs to take photos with no natural light? just wait until morning when the sunlight is streaming in through your window. the problems with artificial light are:
a) it makes your photo look yellow.
b) the colours of your books don’t look their true tones and shades
c) you will get light spots (those blinding white/yellow spots on shiny surfaces  where the light has reflected that ruin a photo)
d) they don’t look professional. (sunlight makes the background of your photo look white and clean where artificial light makes everything look fake and the background dark)
ANGLES ADD INTEREST.
there’s nothing wrong with taking a photo of a book straight on, or at a bird’s eye view. But with the former, sometimes it looks like a kid’s taken it; and the latter can sometimes go wrong (especially when I try!) because if you don’t get the position and alignment of the book right everything looks wonky and off-kilt. So, say you’re like me and when you do a book haul you have lots of books to photograph, instead of taking them individually, or just pasting covers from goodreads into your post, pile your books up, and take a photo of them. not too many in one go otherwise you won’t be able to fit them all in. and take photos at different angles. Experiment. I generally take about five photos, maybe more, at different angles, before I pick my final one. The angle of your subject is important because if it’s a straight pile of books, photographs can look boring//unappealing, so when you take a photo with edges of books at different angles for example, it spruces up the picture a little - which brings me to my next two  points.
COLOUR COORDINATE//MINIMIZE THE DISTRACTIONS
if you have quite a few books, sort them into piles by colour: this adds interest and gives it a ‘professional’ feel. It also helps to bring together the entire photograph so it doesn’t look messy and harmonizes the finished image. once you’ve sorted your books into coloured piles, you need to find a background that’s simple. white or cream (something soft and not bright) is what I usually use, although any colour as long as it’s not too bold and is one uninterrupted colour. this is because you need to make sure that when you take your photo, the only colour in your photo are the book (covers). otherwise the viewer’s eye will get distracted by all the colours going on and won’t focus on what you want them to, the books! you can however, have a coloured background if you have a non-coloured book, like a pile of black books, or small pops of colour from around the book pile that coordinate with the colour of the books you are photographing. for example, when I take photos of black books I make sure a little of the patchwork quilt I have on my bed peeps in from one corner of the photo to make sure my picture isn’t too ‘bland’.
IT'S OKAY TO EDIT
and finally, my last point. it’s okay to edit. i do. nearly everyone i know does. there’s no need to add mountains of effects onto it, it’s like someone who’s pretty without makeup, but layers on a ton anyway which makes her look overkill. if she just put cream and vaseline on for example it’d enhance her features and make her face look fresh but not unnatural. so it’s the same with editing. if it’s a grey day outside but with enough natural light to take use, i take the photo then edit it so that it’s slightly brighter. or if it’s extremely sunny outside, i take my photo but edit it so that it becomes a little dimmer. editing doesn’t mean that your photograph will be classed as fake; it just shows that you know when you need to touch up your photographs a little to increase the quality of them.
what did you think of this post? was it helpful?

BOOK REVIEW: counting by 7s :: holly goldberg sloan

27 January 2014

Author: Holly Goldberg Sloan
Publisher: Piccadilly Press
Publication Date: January 2014
Genre: Middle Grade {MG}, Love, Loss, Family, Friendship, Contemporary
Format: Proof
Pages: 352
Summary: In the tradition of Out of My Mind, Wonder, and Mockingbird, this is an intensely moving middle grade novel about being an outsider, coping with loss, and discovering the true meaning of family. Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life... until now. Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read. - from goodreads.
there was nothing complicated about this book; there were no intricate details, no scattering of metaphors and similes, no overuse of alliteration - the writing just was, and that's what i loved about it. it was simple, unaffected - yet it captured the personalities of the characters perfectly, and drew me in like a fishing rod reels in its catch. i finished the book in one sitting. it was night. the house was slumbering giant - my family were all in various rooms but i didn't feel alone, because i had the company of the characters.


"all reality, i decide, is a blender where hopes and dreams are mixed with fear and despair. only in cartoons and faiytales and greeting cards do endings have glitter."
willow was like a breath of fresh air for me. she was like-able, mature, genuine; earnest - and had none of the annoying traits and mannerisms that some characters have. she felt real. holly goldberg sloan has created characters that make you want to be friends with. they aren't flawless, they can't shoot a bow and arrow ans hit bulls-eye on their first attempt (or maybe Quang-ha can, i don't know), they don't have only four fears or a bionic arm; but they are superheros in their own way. they are the kind of characters that you can relate to; that give you hope and make warm your heart. they're believable. they show that you can make changes for the better, and those small changes could eventually make bigger ones if you try hard and don't give up.


"that's the thing about time. a second can feel like forever if what follows is heartbreak."
i can't really choose a favourite character because they were all individual and endearing. Mai was like the determined warrior that no-one said no to, and her mother Pattie was just like her; obstinate and set in her ways - yet able to love deeply and comfort Willow whom she had previously never met. she conjures up an image of a bee to me: small and sweet, but with a nasty sting in her tail. Quang-ha was probably the most intriguing character in my opinion. almost always with a scowl on his face, he seemed to never listen, yet always observed, and i would have liked to have see more of him in the story, to really get to know his character.
"i don't see anything anymore. but i can't help but notice."
there was one huge thing that bugged me in this story though: the fact that at the end of the book it is shown that Pattie has enough money to buy an entire building - yet before she had let her children live in an unconverted garage, and only decided to reveal her savings to help willow. she never thought of her children? this was part was really unbelievable and irked me slightly but other than that u enjoyed this book immensely.
"a genius shoots at something no one else can see, and hits it."
counting by 7s was a beautiful and entertaining story of unexpected friendships and building family ties, featuring a group of charismatic characters that will stay in the readers mind long after the last word has been read. it shows how you should never believe that this is the end if something bad happens - and portrays how change, whether it be big or small, can affect a person for the better; as long as your outlook on life remains positive and you have people around you who will support you no matter what.
*thank you to the Guardians Children's Books for sending me this in exchange for an honest review.

top ten winter reads

24 January 2014

When I saw this 'Top Ten' list on Ruby's blog I asked if I could participate too because I thought it was an amazing idea. Winter is my favourite season for reading because I absoultely hate being cold, so I tend to leave the snow for my siblings to play in while I curl up under a blanket with a nice cup of tea and disappear into one of my favourite books. So without further ado..
THE GOOSE GIRL and WONDER and THE GARBAGE KING
. If you know me, you'll know that THE GOOSE GIRL is my favourite book of all time, ever, ever, {amongst others...}. The writing is exquisite The story-line is perfect and the characters are wonderful. This book, just GAH, you must read it, and if you're friends with me and you've still not read it, how dare you betray me.
. WONDER was the first ever review book and ARC that i received when I started this blog thanks to the wonderful Luisa Plaja and to say I started reviewing with a bang is an understatement. This book made me cry and laugh and smile and make sure it is on your winter reading list? okay?
. I had never read any of this author's other books before I read THE GARBAGE KING, but since then - I've read every single one. It's the perfect book to curl up with and will tug at your heart strings: the author is now a firm favourite for my whole family, everyone reads her books and rejoices when a new one comes out!
FLYAWAY and THE WEIGHT OF WATER
. FLYAWAY was the first book I read by Lucy Christopher and definitely won't be the last. This book was a lovely feel-good novel about friendships that melted my heart into a puddle on the floor {not that i'm trying to say my heart is made of ice! ;p}
. I adore novels in verse, THE WEIGHT OF WATER being the first ever one I read. It's pulls you into the stroy with ease and doesn't let you out of its clutches until the end, but you really don't want to leave anyway! It's a perfect winter read.
GEEK GIRL and REBECCA
. You always need a good book to make you laugh out loud in winter, laughing makes you warm, and I DON'T LIKE being cold. Also, well, they're funny and hilarious and by the end of it you feel happy, no matter how grim it looks outside. And GEEK GIRL is the best book for that!
. REBECCA is a creepy, dark, amazingly well-written book that will give you chills creeping up your spine no matter how hot it is under your blanket. So make sure you have a nice cup of tea to warm you up after you've devoured the last page!
BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY and HARRY POTTER and THE WOLF PRINCESS
. Oh what do I say about this book other than the fact that it is sad, will make you cry; it's one of my favourite books of all time - i could re-read it every week and never get tired - and is written wonderfully. You must read BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY now, you will not regret it.
. HARRY POTTER, well, Winter at Hogwarts, Mrs Weasley's Jumpers, butter beer, food, food, food; need I say more?
. THE WOLF PRINCESS draws you in immediately with its crystal wonderland that glitters like jewels in the winter sunlight. I love reading this book purely because it's written well, and, errm, it's a way for me to ice-skate and play in snow without actually getting cold...;)
Have you read any of these? what are your favourite winter reads? leave a comment to tell me so i can expand my list!

BOOK REVIEW: fire storm by lauren st john

19 January 2014

Series: The One Dollar Horse #3
Title: Fire Storm
Author: Lauren St John
Publisher: Orion
Publication Date: March 6th 2014
Genre: Young Adult {YA}, Horses, Coming-of-Age, Romance, Action
Format: Proof
Pages: 224
Reviewed For: Guardian Children's Books
Summary: Teenage eventing star Casey Blue has it all - fame, her champion horse Storm and a boyfriend who loves her.
Then Kyle West walks into her life. The country's hottest equestrian coach is also drop dead gorgeous and Casey knows right away that she's in trouble. But who is Kyle and why are there so many unanswered questions about his past? And what is his connection to Anna Sparks, Casey's old rival?
As the Burghley Horse Trials approaches, it becomes clear that what is at stake is not just the Grand Slam but Casey's life. -from goodreads
Summed up in one word, Fire Storm was simply enthralling. I read it in one sitting, curled up in bed with a mug of tea; galloping through the pages as fast as a racing horse: absorbed from start to finish. The book is about chasing dreams; how if you put your mind to it you can achieve anything, but also has an underlying message running through the pages like a thread through a piece of cloth: honesty is everything. Honesty can change a person's life, and ultimately - even if you don't gain anything from it, even if you are likely to lose something if you don't lie - honesty is worth more than a golden medal.
Continuing on from Race the Wind, Casey Blue is still following her dreams, trying to win the Burghley Horse Trials and she couldn't have had a harder mission to accomplish. People are out to stop her, dangerous people that will stop at nothing - and while evading their attempts at ruining her ambitions, like avoiding balls in a dodge-ball game, Casey has a new horse to train and a relationship to keep up; Peter is slipping away from her and Casey is desperate for the glue that previously stuck them together to be reapplied. And on top of that, her coach, her confidant, and one of her best friends is keeping something from her.

Lauren St John certainly doesn't shy away from the action in the last book of The One Dollar Horse series, and, if anything, the tensions builds until it is stronger than a horse's muscles in Fire Storm. At first, i was a little sad that Storm Warning, the hero of the previous books had taken a backseat from the spotlight, but as i got to know the knew horse better; as i befriended him along with Casey, i didn't mind anymore. He was still there, he hadn't disappeared completely, and after all, he was still 'our' hero - he had just let someone else take center stage.
The characters were as vibrant as ever in this book. Casey, the flickering flame of hope and stubbornness - determined not to be snuffed out. Her coach, still dogged and head-strong despite 'her age'; Peter, the shoulder Casey could always rely on to be there for her to lean on and of course, the horses - like fireworks lighting up a dark night, they illuminated the book with their own personalities and traits. They were the 'old friends' in this book, but there were some new characters, and while they were not as familiar as the others, by the end of the book i could slip into their shoes and experience what was happening to them as easily as I could anyone elses.
Dramatic, lively and poignant, Fire Storm is a breath-taking ride into the conclusion of Casey's journey to achieve her dreams and it definitely didn't let me down. With a charming, but suspicious new character, pressure's rising as fast as a filling bottle, and a shocking revelation tossed into the mix for Casey; if you haven't read it yet then i'd advise you to get it right now. It's definitely not a book to be missed.
*Thank you to Guardian Children's Books for sending me thins free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

the book blogger tmi tag

14 January 2014

thank you to the lovely amber for tagging me in her original book blogger tmi tag.
HOW OLD ARE YOU?
fifteen and a half. {the half makes all the difference..}

WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING?
i am reading the snow child by eowyn ivey. 

WHAT ARE YOU WEARING?
a black top, dark green jumper and jeans..

OTP?
malec. malecmalecmalec.

BLOGGER OR WORDPRESS?
bloggerbloggerbloggerbloggerbloggerbloggerbloggerbloggerblogger

GOING OUTSIDE; BEING ACTIVE, OR STAYING IN?
both. i love sports, but in the winter all i want to do is curl up next to a fire with a good book, a cup of tea, and a some biscuits...*sighs blissfully*

WHAT IS THE LAST BOOK YOU READ?
defiance by c.j redwine. I'd heard some pretty negative reviews and then some amazing ones so i was a little dubious at first but i ended up enjoying it immensely. thank you caroline for giving it to me as a present. :)

WHAT BOOK ARE YOU GOING TO READ NEXT?
girl of fire and thorns by rae carson. i have been hyped about this book for TOO LONG, so...now i have it, I'm reading it!!!!!

EBOOKS - YES OR NO?
no. just no.

WHERE DO YOU PREFER TO READ?
in bed at night - or, strangely enough, in the car on long journeys. only long journeys though.

WHO'S BLOG DID YOU LOOK AT LAST?
jack's {the book stop}

WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE BLOGGER?
you know...i don't like to say...because...the blogger might become big headed..but...well...me. ;p only joking. i have many and i don't want to attempt to list them because i know i will miss someone out and then i'll just feel bad..
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE BOOKTUBER?
amber {the mile long bookshelf} and kat {katytastic} and christina {polandandbooks}

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN SOMEONE TELLS YOU READING IS BORING?
attack them.
obviously.

WHO IS THE LAST AUTHOR YOU SPOKE TO?
lauren st john. about. stuff. ;p
p.s READ HER BOOKS NOW.

WHO IS YOUR ALL TIME FAVOURITE BOOK CHARACTER
this question should be illegal. ani // isi {the goose girl} caleana sardothien {throne of glass} hermione {harry potter} and zuzana {daughter of smoke and bone}

UKYA OR USYA?
both. i see no difference aside from one was written in the rain, the other in sun.

WHAT IS YOUR PREFERRED DRINK WHILST READING?
i don't tend to drink and read, but if i did, tea. #sterotypicallybritish

IF YOU HATED READING WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
take a wild guess.

HOW MANY BOOKSHELVES // BOOKCASES DO YOU HAVE?
i have one bookcase, three shelves; and a hoard of books under my bed, in my clothes cupboard, on the floor, by my bed, in my little sister's toy cupboard and on my desk.

IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO MEET ALL YOUR FAVOURITE BLOGGERS OR ALL YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHORS WHICH WOULD YOU PICK?
bloggers. hands down.

INSTA-LOVE, YES OR NO?
it depends if it's written well // if it takes anything away from the story // if the characters have been created well.

FAVOURITE AUTHOR?
shannon hale // ruta sepetys // elizabeth laird // john green // suzanne collins // veronica roth // holly smale // lauren destefano // marissa meyer // lauren child // natasha ngan // rainbow rowell
oh, you meant one?

WHAT IS THE NUMBER ONE BOOK ON YOUR WISHLIST?
at the moment - cress by marissa meyer and fangirl by rainbow rowell are vying for the top spot , but by the time this is posted I'm hoping i'll have fangirl.

DO YOU PREFER BOOKS WITH MALE OR FEMALE PROTAGONISTS?
it doesn't matter as long as it's written well but i can always relate to a character better if she is female.

WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK TO FILM ADAPTION?
the fault in our stars // the book thief // divergent. they will be good. i know it.

WHICH DO YOU ENJOY READING MORE - POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE REVIEWS?
both. i love negative reviews because they're always funny and have a lovely hoard of gifs // reaction pics in them, but same goes for extremely positive reviews.
 i tag ////
> ruby {feedmebooksnow}
> debbie {snugglingonthesofa}
> rebekah {reflectionsofabookworm}
> Rachel {booktasticreviews}
> orli {blamemybookshelf}
> rita {weaving pages}