My (Super Easy) Guide To How I Edit My Bookstagram Photos

There is nothing more satisfying than looking at your Instagram feed and seeing a cohesive group of pictures that blend so well together that the overall effect is like you’re looking at one picture. It’s similar to one of those artistic photos that, when you look close enough, are actually made up of hundreds of different smaller photos.

So I know you probably haven’t been wondering, but if you have and would like to know, below you will find a (super easy) guide to how I take and edit my Instagram photos as of late! Keeping in mind that my feed has changed a lot since I first started Instagram, but I do feel like I have finally found a theme that suits me!

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Equipment & Editing Apps

Lets start with the easy stuff! What I use to take my photos. I don’t use anything special! No big bulky camera, not lighting set up. I just use my iPhone XS and I make sure I take all my photos right next to a big, open window, with lots of natural light streaming in! I always try to shoot when the lighting is the same, otherwise I end up having to tweak my photos more to keep their uniformity.

Once all my props are set up, which can take anywhere from about 5 minutes to an hour, depending on how creative I feel that day, I generally take about 10 photos before I get the one I’m most happy with. This can vary though, again, depending on how creative I feel and If I’m happy with my initial set up! I have also made sure to get really familiar with my Iphone’s camera settings so I know how to adjust the exposure and focus while shooting. I’ll usually shoot with ‘portrait’ mode when I’m not doing a flat lay because it gives the photos a really nice, almost professional, quality.

After sorting through the photos I’ve taken, I choose my favourites to edit. I start by using the in phone editing options to crop or realign a photo. After this I drop it into:

Colourtone

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Price: Free (with optional in app purchases)

Colourtone is my all time favourite editing app. I don’t want to bother with creating my own filters or paying big bucks for a subscription to an app I may not even use! I am much happier using presets! And boy, does this app have some beautiful preset filters!  The app itself is free and a select few of the filters are free also! However, the filter I use, I purchased in a pack for no more than, I believe, about $2.99 Australian.

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After I’ve thrown on the filter I like to use, I then move on to checking where it will fit in best on my feed by using:

UNUM

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Price: Free (with optional in app purchases)

UNUM allows you to plan out your entire feed, and the best part about it, is that it’s FREE! Well, you can purchase an upgrade, but I’ve never found I needed it. I import all the photos I have edited into UNUM and start moving them around to see what photos I want to upload to Instagram and in what order I’d like to upload them. This is a much easier way of creating an overall aesthetic, rather than uploading to Instagram and then finding out later that the photo doesn’t really fit with the rest of your feed! Or worse, uploading, then taking it down, then uploading, then taking it down… You get the picture! It’s annoying for both you and your followers!

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Once I’ve decided what order I want to post my content I move onto Instagram! In Instagram, I usually only ever use the sharpening tool to really make the foreground pop! Other than that, I don’t make use of any of the other editing tools or filters within Instagram.

At the end of the day, your content should reflect your personality. Create content that you love and are proud of, but don’t be afraid to try something new! Happy Bookstagramming everyone!

February Reading Wrap-Up

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I can’t believe we’re already wrapping up February! This year has been flying by. This month wasn’t the best for me in terms of reading. In theory it was looking like it’d be amazing, but after reading The Hearts We Sold, I slipped into a weird reading slump and it’s been taking me a good two weeks to finish the book I am currently reading! Here’s hoping I can get through it and smash my March TBR!

So the short of it is that I spent most of February buying more books than I have been reading, but I suppose thats pretty great too.

My Review System

5 Stars: This. Book. Blew. My. Mind. I’d read it again and again and would highly recommend it.
4 Stars: The book was great! I enjoyed it and I may read it again.
3 Stars: I could take or leave this book. It had some interesting moments, but nothing too captivating.
2 Stars: Not a very good book, I’ll more than likely forget about its existence once it’s lost in the expanse of my book shelves.
1 Star: A book I wish I didn’t waste my time on. I did not enjoy it at all and would definitely not recommend it.

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Title: Four Dead Queens (4.5 stars)
Author: Astrid Scholte
Genre: YA Fantasy/Dystopian/Murder Mystery
Find it on Book Depository

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: I was lucky enough to receive an advanced readers copy of this book from Allen and Unwin Publishing and I am so grateful because this book was fantastic! I would recommend it to YA fantasy lovers with a soft spot for smart mouthed, theives! The book has a really well executed “whodunit” aspect to it with a touch of dystopia!

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Title: Emergency Contact (3.5 Stars)
Author: Mary H. K. Choi
Genre: YA Contemporary
Find it on Book Depository

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: This book was so tough for me to review. I both loved it and disliked it immensely! For some weird reason, I feel like I might re-read it some time despite this. In the end I did come to love both the main characters and I recommend this to anyone looking for a cute but equally as quirky YA contemporary romance.

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Title: The Wicked King (5 stars)
Author: Holly Black
Genre: YA Fantasy
Find it on Book Depository

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: Do I even need to write anything here? I am trash for Cardan Greenbriar, High King of Elfhame. These books are amazing, go read The Cruel Prince and follow it closely with The Wicked King, then find me on instagram and fangirl with me.

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Title: The Hearts We Sold (1.5 Stars)
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Genre: YA Paranormal Fantasy
Find it on Book Depository

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: Uuuuhhhh… I really disliked this book. It had a terrific premise, but it wasn’t executed well at all. I had no strong feelings for any of the characters and a lot of their interactions felt really forced. Nothing really happens until the very end of the book. As such I probably wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone.

5 Popular YA Books That Were Given Really Terrible Covers In The Beginning

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“Don’t judge a book by its cover” your mother would say. Which, when it comes to people, is great advice! But when it comes to books, is easier said than done.

Below I have complied a list of really popular YA books/series that were given terrible covers in the beginning! Thankfully a lot of these books ended up getting new covers over time, but how anyone (myself included) picked them up to start with I have no idea!

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Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

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So it might just be me, but I absolutely hate when books have realistic looking character  portraits, or worse, an actual photograph of a person on the cover. I don’t need you filling my head with ideas of what these characters look like, I want to read the story and do all that for myself! The Throne of Glass series is one of my most highly recommended reads. Thank goodness it was given top notch covers after this debacle!

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

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So the original covers for this whole series where pretty terrible, but this one takes the cake for me! I remember I fell in love with this series despite its covers being horrible (and despite a certain weird plot twist at the end of book one! KEEP READING IT’S NOT TRUE!) These books were given a revamp fairly recently and are now much easier on the eye! Unfortunately I have the whole 6 book series in the above cover style though and I can’t bring myself to spend the money to get the new covers for books I already own.

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

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Eeeeek… I hate these covers. I hate everything about them, there really isn’t much I can say I like! I guess the font is ok and of course I didn’t mind the story! Well, It was ok, I read the first couple of books years ago and I didn’t mind them. Sadly, even the new covers for the Vampire Academy series are pretty average, but thank goodness they decided to ditch the models!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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The Hunger Games series had the biggest ‘glow-up’ I have ever seen when it comes to book covers! Once the movies came out the covers were changed, but not in that horrible “movie cover” way, where they chuck pictures of the actors on the front and call it a day. These books got some really beautiful editions! I’ve had my set with the original covers (above) on my bookcase for years! Until recently when I found the trilogy, second hand, in the most beautiful editions I have ever seen for just $3 each! I couldn’t resist and snapped them up right away! If I have successfully peaked your interest, you can find a picture of these editions on my instagram, here.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

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So I read the first book in this series on a plane from New York City to Los Angeles and I loved it. I then promptly left it in the back of a taxi, along with a number of my other belongings, never to be seen again. But I can tell you now, I would not have picked this book up if it had had this cover. Once you start putting people on the covers of books, I lose interest really quick! Not to mention, this cover has very little relevance to the book in my opinion. I’m not sure what they were thinking here! This series did end up getting some really lovely covers though, which is probably what got me to buy the book in the first place!

So I know in the end it doesn’t really matter what the cover of your book looks like, it’s the story that matters! But I’m sure most book lovers would agree, a pretty cover sure does help!

Bookstagram Behaviours That Are Making You Look Like An Idiot

If you’ve been on Bookstagram for any length of time, you’ll probably have noticed that some people are just out there looking for a “follow back.” They aren’t always easy to spot, but generally as a Bookstagrammer, if some big, beefy fitness guy who only ever posts mirror selfies follows my account, I can almost guarantee he’s doing it for the follow back and he’ll be unfollowing me within a day or so.

Unfortunately though, it doesn’t seem to end there! For some reason the Bookstagram community is now like this weird, post apocalyptic, dystopian world where we trade in likes and follows and we’re all really wary of giving away too many, without gaining in return. The more followers we have, the more successful we feel and the more we feel like our content matters.

There are a million reasons why I disagree with posting content solely for the purpose of gaining followers, my main reason being, it should be something you actually enjoy, not a chore. But that’s a whole different blog post altogether. Below I have compiled all the ridiculous follow-hungry behaviours that are prevalent in the Bookstagram community today and how they are making you look like an idiot.

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Asking Popular Accounts For Shoutouts

People work hard on their content and more often than not, it’s taken years of dedication for them to have gotten that follower count. Don’t contact popular Bookstagram accounts, or accounts bigger than yours begging for a shoutout, they won’t like it and it makes you look desperate and silly. Instead, enjoy the community and interact with people who share the same love of books as you!

Liking Someones Entire Feed, But Not Following

You know the ones, when someone randomly likes your last 30 posts in the span of a couple of minutes but they don’t follow you. They must like your content enough to sit there and like your posts, right? Oh, but not quite enough to follow your account. This tactic is so transparent and ridiculous, it’s actually quite clear you don’t really like the content, you’re just looking for someone to make their way to your page in hopes that you’ll end up with a new follower. How about next time, if you like that many of someones pictures, give them a follow, maybe even ask them about some of the books you can see in their photos! Trust me, you’re far more likely to make friends this way.

Playing The Follow, Unfollow Game

This one is the most annoying in my opinion. I’ve even had a fairly popular author use this method on me! I noticed because I got rather excited to see an author follow me! I thought “No way! She likes my content!” only to have her unfollow me the next day after she realised I’d followed her back. The ‘follow, unfollow’ method is the epitome of viewing your ‘follows’ as some weird form of currency! People don’t want to be following more accounts than the amount of followers they have. It’s ridiculous. If you like someones content, follow them, if you don’t, bugger off and leave them be. Not to mention how time consuming for you, when you could be using that time to create your own content! Or in the case of that author, I don’t know, writing more books!

Leaving Generic Comments

So I get it, you want people to make their way to your account. You want people to see all your hard work. But why don’t you actually pay attention to what peoples captions say? Chances are in the Bookstagram community, the post you’re about to comment on is worthy of more than just your generic “great content :)” comment. Interact, answer questions, ask questions! But please, for goodness sake, don’t leave a generic emoji comment hoping that you’ll get a follow. If you want to comment, make sure you mean it and you care about the topic being discussed!

There are so many more ridiculous things that go on in this community. It can be thoroughly disheartening when most of us joined Bookstagram to make friends and talk about the books we love. When social media becomes more about instant gratification and numbers, it gets less fun for not just you, but everyone else too. So next time you’re about to leave a generic comment or you’re getting your thumb ready for another round of follow-unfollow, maybe just, don’t. Go leave meaningful comments, start a discussion and enjoy the community. Don’t get so caught up in the numbers that you make yourself look like an idiot.

Book Review: The Hearts We Sold By Emily Lloyd-Jones

Find it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

When Dee Moreno makes a deal with a demon—her heart in exchange for an escape from a disastrous home life—she finds the trade may have been more than she bargained for. And becoming “heartless” is only the beginning. What lies ahead is a nightmare far bigger, far more monstrous than anything she could have ever imagined.

With reality turned on its head, Dee has only a group of other deal-making teens to keep her grounded, including the charming but secretive James Lancer. And as something grows between them amid an otherworldy ordeal, Dee begins to wonder: Can she give someone her heart when it’s no longer hers to give?

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I very nearly didn’t finish this book. It was a huge disappointment for me which I found to be a little surprising as most of the reviews I have seen for it are fairly good. There wasn’t really anything I liked about this book, except maybe the fact that they had some diverse character representation and that it finally did end. It’s such a shame to say, but I really, really, really, didn’t like this book.

Demons have come to Earth and they are making deals! They don’t want money as payment though, they want human limbs. The Hearts We Sold follows Dee Moreno, who is looking to make a deal to escape her less than ideal home life. The demon doesn’t want just any body part though, it wants her heart. Dee is thrust into a two year contract working for the demon where she, and her fellow heartless, get far more than they bargained for.

The premise itself is original and fantastic, but the execution was sloppy and underdeveloped. I had very little attachment to any of the characters and found myself unmoved by even the more drastic plot points. The story felt sluggish until the very end, where it felt like the author decided to drop everything on us at once and rush to a conclusion, leaving several questions unanswered. The ending however, was probably the only part of the book that I felt even a little bit for the characters. But unfortunately, an ‘alright’ ending doesn’t negate the fact that the rest of the book was slow, boring and a little repetitive.

The characters themselves were very bland. Even our main character, who’s back story was fairly interesting felt like cardboard. The character interactions felt forced and there seemed to be a severe lack of chemistry between the romantic pairing. So much so, that when they finally kissed, it felt weird and out of place for me. The story felt like there was just a whole lot of nothing happening at all times. It’s sad to say, but it was a down right chore to continue reading this book.

Over all, I wouldn’t recommend The Hearts We Sold. There was very little character or plot evolution which made the whole story feel stagnant and underdeveloped. The whole story felt very flat and one dimensional and quite honestly, it felt like a huge waste of time. Because the ending didn’t totally suck, this book has gained an extra half star from me, giving it a rating of 1.5 stars.

Why I Will Never Use An Electronic Reading Device

I can already hear what you e-book lovers are about to say! “But it’s so much easier” you’d protest. “What if you’re traveling?!” you’d scream, “You have hundreds of books right there in the palm of your hand!”

Well, as a girl who happily lugged at least 10+ books (yes, mostly hard covers) back from her last trip to America, I can assure you, I cannot relate. Physical books rock my world and I will never use, buy or borrow an electronic reading device. You can’t make me and below are a few reasons why!

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Smelling The Pages

Yeah, ok, don’t act like you’re above it! If you’re an avid reader, chances are you either do, or have done this at some point. But I cannot help but fan through the pages of a book, my nose pressed right up against the edges, breathing in that glorious ‘new book smell.’ Although ‘old book smell’ also has its merits, it isn’t quite the same for me. Perhaps it stems from my very real love of book stores, who knows. Speaking of which…

Perusing Book Stores

Have you ever stepped into a book store and had the overwhelming smell of ink on pages greet your sense? Because I have and it’s amazing. Not to mention, buying physical copies of books from your local book store helps keep them in business. There is nothing quite like spending hours in a book store perusing the shelves for your next read, or, lets be honest here, the next book you’re going to throw on that ever growing TBR (to be read) pile that you may or may not get to before you die of old age or it falls and crushes you to death.

The Feeling

Ok, so I might be getting a little pompous about it all here, but come on, the act of getting more than half way through a book and being able to feel when the pages you’ve read get thicker than the pages waiting to be read is the best. I don’t want to be told what percentage of the way through a book I am. I WANNA FEEL IT. The physical act of turning the pages is perfection and I will not give it up!

Also, what bookworm do you know that doesn’t carry a book with them everywhere they go?! That comforting thud, thud, thud of the heavy book whacking against your side because your bag is now 10x heavier than it should be, is glorious.

Public Libraries

LIBRARIES! Aren’t they the best!? Whether at home or at a dedicated establishment, libraries are just THE BEST. But public libraries are special! Much like second hand book stores, it’s nice to ponder at who read the book before you! What did they think of it? Did they dog ear like a savage and not use a bookmark? Did they spill coffee or accidentally smear orange Cheeto dust on one of the pages? It’s like a murder mystery only without the murder! Unless someone does the aforementioned savagery to your personal home library books, in which case, I have a tarp and a shovel.

So you see, physical books are the best. I won’t deny that there are merits in using an e-reader, but they just aren’t for me! I won’t judge you though, go ahead and use your soulless brick. In all seriousness though, read on whatever you like! At the end of the day, at least we’re all reading, right?

3 Easy Steps To Ensure Your Children Grow Up To Be Readers

From the moment I found out I was pregnant I had visions of my child sharing my love of literature. They would be someone who would happily sit on my lap and let me read to them and of course someone who would, eventually, jump at the opportunity to be sorted into their Hogwarts House (come on Bub, be a Ravenclaw, just like your mother!)

So along comes my beautiful baby girl. A lot like Harry Potter in the respect that she looks very little like her mother and very much like her father, but hooray! She got my eyes! My daughter is still just a baby so she doesn’t understand what I’m saying, but I read to her anyway! Below are 3 easy steps I’ll be taking (and you can too) to ensure my daughter and any future children I have, grow up to love reading.

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Give Them Easy Access to Books and a Cosy Place to Read.

Whether the books are purchased and kept on a shelf at home or you take a walk to the local library and get yourself a library card, books should always be made easily accessible for your children! Reading shouldn’t be a burden, so having access to books is key to having children that want to read! I can vividly remember being taken to the library as a child and it certainly felt like a magical place to me! I am now lucky enough to have been able to create my own personal library at home that I add to every so often. So I guess taking me to the library worked wonders for my mother in sparking my interest in books!

Now, this part isn’t completely necessary, but I think it helps! Set up a reading nook! Somewhere that is cosy and quiet, where you can sit and read to your kids, or if you have older children, somewhere they can sit and read without interruption. There are some really wonderful children’s reading chairs on the market if you’re looking to make it extra special! One of my favourite children’s chairs is from IKEA. It can be found here.

Start Young and Make Reading Fun.

Make it an event, make it theatrical and make it fun! As I said, my daughter is only young so story time isn’t so much about the story as it is about mum making funny faces/voices while she holds up pretty pictures. However, despite not having a clue what I’m saying, she laughs, giggles and squeals! Making story time a time for laughter and enjoyment is something I strive towards. I want my daughter to associate reading with enjoyment and I believe that starts now, while she is young.

If you have older children, try putting an emphasis on using their imaginations! Maybe ask them what they think certain characters look like, or how they picture the landscape the author is describing! Making a fun discussion out of it and taking the time to share your thoughts is, not only a great way to bond with your kids, but also a way to make reading more dynamic and interesting! Reading a book can be as good as going on an adventure or watching a movie and it makes for great family time too!

Make Sure They See You Reading For Fun Too!

And lastly this step, to me, is the most important to ensuring children grow up to love reading. Now I know the saying goes “do as I say, not what I do” but how often has that ever rang true. Children are our mirror image and, especially when they are young, they learn by watching us. Our behaviours, interactions and how we communicate is what shapes them as people. By making time to read yourself, you’re showing your kids that it is important.

My daughter is only little, but it doesn’t stop me for putting a book in her hands for a few minutes while I read a chapter of my own book next to her. She doesn’t read yet of course, she would rather be chewing the corner of her book. But I’d like to think that eventually, as she grows up, she will see the joy I get from reading and perhaps emulate that herself!

Maybe she’ll even ask if we can read Harry Potter together, one can only hope! Fingers crossed!