little talks

A few days ago, I read Corey Ann Haydu’s Life By Committee (which was a great book, btw- definitely watch out for it!) and was pleasantly surprised that the main character, Tabitha, was a reader. In the book, she mentions active reading and defines it as: writing notes in the margins, asking questions and underlining, asterisking, and highlighting anything that hits the reader emotionally or intellectually.

I was fascinated by this because I ‘read actively’ too. I didn’t used to do it until four years ago, when I got really addicted to YA. I started writing down my favourite quotes and commenting on them, to take note of those that I loved, related to or those that made me swoon or made me ponder about things. At that time, I was against writing on margins or marking my books because I wanted them to stay pristine.

And then I discovered ebooks, where I could easily highlight and make notes. I was delighted by this feature and it’s one of the reasons why I continue to read ebooks no matter how much I’d rather own physical copies. There was point that I was reading only ebooks mostly so when I went back to reading physicals, I itched to highlight or underline important things. So, I did. I still do now. I use a pencil to mark my books because I do not trust myself with a pen.

“It’s like having a conversation with the book. It tells me things and I respond with semi-illegible scrawlings and exclamation points, and wild circles around phrases that hit me really hard.”  - Life By Committee, Corey Ann Haydu

Active reading is pretty awesome. I love it because it’s like leaving footprints as I was reading. I love it because it helps me retain memory of what I’ve read and also because it helps me write book reviews. Sometimes, I do find myself reading passively but doing so makes me feel sad after because I feel like I didn’t interact with the book. I love active reading because I’m not simply a bystander- I also get to be a participant.

Are you an active reader? Do you like making notes, underlining, highlighting, etc.? Why or why not? Let’s talk!

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the geography of you and me
 The Geography of You And Me
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publication: April 15th 2014 by Headline
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Received from publisher (Thank you!)
Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Goodreads / The Book Depository / Amazon


Owen lives in the basement. Lucy lives on the 24th floor. But when the power goes out in the midst of a New York heatwave, they find themselves together for the first time: stuck in a lift between the 10th and 11th floors. As they await help, they start talking…

The brief time they spend together leaves a mark. And as their lives take them to Edinburgh and San Francisco, to Prague and to Portland they can’t shake the memory of the time they shared. Postcards cross the globe when they themselves can’t, as Owen and Lucy experience the joy – and pain – of first love.

And as they make their separate journeys in search of home, they discover that sometimes it is a person rather than a place that anchors you most in the world.


The Geography Of You And Me is no doubt my favorite Jen E. Smith novel so far! I am in love with the way she has crafted such a fantastic story with her brilliant writing. Geography is a true work of art, twining together words and thoughts, distant places and two beating hearts. There are just so many reasons why I loved this book!

First of all, like This Is What Happy Looks Like, Smith’s earlier novel, The Geography Of You And Me is split in different parts- five to be exact. The parts consist of Here, There, Everywhere, Somewhere, and finally, Home. As someone who’s read the book, I understood how these titles fit perfectly for Lucy and Owen’s complicated situation. I’m just really the type of person who notices things like these and adores them, especially when they’re very becoming for a book. I thought that it was ingenious for the author to have sectioned her story so precisely.

“There are so many ways to be alone here, even when you’re surrounded by this many people.”

I also thought she did a great job working with her characters. I think many readers will appreciate how down to earth Lucy and Owen, the female and male lead respectively, were. The two didn’t lack substance and I liked reading about each of their families- which for most part is imperfect and real. Admittedly, there was a point that I felt uninterested in Lucy and Owen, mostly in the There part, and that caused a serious lull in my reading. Then, I was a little disconnected because the story had gotten slow for me. The next parts pick up thankfully, as I gradually appreciated how the author elaborated the plot.

“Sometimes it seemed as if his whole life was an exercise in waiting; not waiting to leave, exactly, but simply waiting to go.”

Getting back to my point: Smith did a lovely job interconnecting Lucy and Owen, despite the huge and very literal distance between them. Her take on long distance relationships was pragmatic and by that I mean that Lucy and Owen move on with their lives- the whole world isn’t stopping because they’re apart. They grow apart, they grow individually. BUT all that time, it felt like the two still had an invisible and unshakeable link and that made me fall really hard for the romance. And of course, the sending of those “Wish you were here” postcards made their love story even sweeter. It’s a kind of storyline that starry-eyed romantics could thoroughly enjoy.

“He was like one of her novels, still unfinished and best understood in the right place and at the right time. She couldn’t wait to read the rest.”

Ultimately though, what made the book outstanding for me was the way Smith paints such a vivid picture of the places Lucy and Owen visit. Owen is hopping from state to state with his father and we learn about Chicago, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle. Lucy explores such beautiful countries as her family makes a move from New York to Europe and we get to read about Edinburgh, Prague, London, Paris, Rome. I felt wanderlust while reading The Geography of You and Me!

I just adore books that take me to places, especially those with love stories that leave me satisfied and totally twitterpated. The Geography of You and Me delivered both. This one really left my heart very content and happy. I highly recommend reading this lovely book!


four point five


Novel Portraits is a weekend feature where I showcase book photography! Photography is my second most favourite hobby next to reading! A love child of the two dearest things to me- book photography is awesome and thus demands a segment on the blog. To read more about the feature, check out the introductory post for Novel Portraits.

Weekend = pretty book photos! Today though, I’m going to be sharing photos by Nikki of The Paper Sea! Her book blog is one of my favourites to visit and it just so happens that she’s also very interested in photography so I interviewed her! Today, y’all can discover more about Nikki as we chat about her bookish tendencies and her photographic pursuits!

Behind The Lens: Nikki of The Paper Sea


Hello! Care to tell us a little about yourself?

I’m Nikki, a 22 year old psychology graduate and retail supervisor from England.  I run The Paper Sea, a young adult-focused book blog that began in June 2013 and has become an obsession ever since.

How did you fall in love with reading? What do you love most about books?

I was a reader ever since I was little.  I don’t ever remember the moment where I first fell in love with reading — apparently, I started reading the dictionary at age four and asked for books as a child instead of toys — but I have a lot of fond memories, sitting in the school library or reading Harry Potter at home (I even went to one of the midnight releases!).  I kind of lost my love of reading towards the end of secondary school and into sixth form, when I was busy studying and didn’t have time for anything other than coursework and exams.  But then I started university, and I had two hours worth of commuting every day, and one day I just picked up a book from the WHSmith in the train station, and I haven’t looked back since.

The thing I love most about books, like so many others, is the escapism.  I can be anyone, go anywhere, do anything in a book.  The imagination and possibilities are endless in books.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Panic

What are some of your recent favorite reads?

Panic, and a few books before that one, Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver.  She’s one of my favourite authors (although she still hasn’t quite made me give out a five star rating), with such a beautiful grasp of language.  Not only that, her characters are always so well developed.  At the time of writing this, I was rereading Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor which is one of my favourite series. Dreams of Gods and Monsters is possibly by most-anticipated release ever!

This Song Will Save Your Life Delirium series

How did you take up photography as a hobby? When did you start taking book photos?

The first time I ever really remember thinking about photography seriously as a hobby was when I was 16 and I went to London.  Like reading, I don’t have a clear memory of when I decided I enjoyed photography! But with the trip to London, I remember that I must have looked at photography books or posts or something, and then I tried to emulate that with my crappy point and shoot.  The shots came out all crooked, but at the time I thought the different angles were exciting and cool! In retrospect, the photos I took then now aren’t all that usable for photo albums or scrapbooks.  After that, photography just became a thing that I did, and tried to do the best that I could do even without fancy professional equipment.  I’m still learning, about composition and lighting and such, but that’ll come with practice.

I’ve only recently started taking book photography (inspired by Hazel, actually!) but I just think it’s an extension of my hobby as an amateur photographer.  It’s a marrying of my photography hobby and my reading.

What cameras/photo equipments do you use to take your book photos?

I don’t have any professional equipment! All I use is my iPhone 5C, and edit the photos using the VCSOcam app.  I do have a compact camera but I don’t really use it.  I keep it in my closet, and it’s much easier just to whip out my phone.  I am interested in more professional equipment, but they’re so expensive.  I’m going to start saving up, and treat myself to a bridge camera at some point!


Aside from book photography, what other types of photography do you like?

90% of my time on Pinterest is spent browsing wedding photography.  I’m not getting married any time soon, but I love it when photography captures all of the love and magic of a wedding day! It can be quite expensive, but when I come to getting married, photography isn’t something I’ll be scrimping on.  I also like portraiture, especially candid shots! There’s just something about capturing someone in a moment, when they’re most themselves.

As for my own photography, though, I tend to take more landscape shots.  Of course, they never capture just how beautiful places are in person, but they’re a nice reminder.

The Diviners Pandemonium

Lastly, what advice or tips would you give when it comes to taking book photos?

I’m no expert, so my main advice is just practice, practice, practice! I don’t have a degree in photography, no education in it at all, but I can see an improvement in my photography.  If you don’t try, you don’t succeed.

Thank you, Nikki, for being a part of Behind The Lens! I’m so happy to have learned more about you and also to have been able to share your photos! If y’all want to see more of Nikki, check out The Paper Sea for her book posts and her instagram for her snapshots!

What do you think of Behind The Lens? What are your thoughts on some of the photos Nikki shared? Do you like taking book photos too? Any other bookworm-slash-photography-enthusiasts that you would like to see on Behind The Lens?

If you want to be featured on Novel Portrait’s sub feature, Behind The Lens, shoot me an email!