When I read CRUEL PRINCE by Holly Black, I enjoyed it but wasn’t on the level of hype as everyone else until around the last third of the book. And then I read WICKED KING. I’m officially fully invested. Which is not to say that the first book isn’t good, I just really, really like all the court intrigue, conniving, and back-stabbing that takes place at the end of book one, which, to my immense delight, is the primary focus of book two.
Black’s world of faerie is dark and lavish and full of intricate details. The court machinations are such a joy to be surprised by. As someone who typically guesses plot twists before they happen, I’m always pleased when I’m surprised.
This is also a GREAT enemies-to-lovers trope. Jude is a mortal girl brought to live in faerie after a faerie kills her parents. In order to survive, Jude learns to play the game of court from a young age. The youngest prince of faerie, Cardan, torments Jude constantly to hide his feelings for her. (This is a little yikes, but bear with me.) Jude is awful. She is cunning and ruthless and will do anything to gain power for herself in a world that wants to give her none. Cardan is also awful. He is the youngest prince, will likely never rule, and he is spoiled and indulgent and the one thing he wants (Jude) he can’t have. The reason this works so well where other enemies-to-lovers fail is that neither of them is suddenly ‘forgiven’ for all their awfulness. They’re both still conniving, and they’re still enemies. Which makes for some very charged moments. And Black draws it out, makes you wait and long for them to just-kiss-already, and it’s so, so worth it.
Pick this up if you like: faeries, lush worlds, enemies-to-lovers, court intrigue, morally gray characters, and complex sibling dynamics.
WICKED SAINTS by Emily Duncan was one of my most anticipated reads of the read and it did not disappoint. The story follows Nadya and Serefin, who are on opposite sides of a holy war. Nadya is the last cleric to whom the gods speak and imbibe with their powers. Serefin is the High Prince of the neighboring country that practices blood magic, which is considered heresy by Nadya’s peoples. After Serefin hunts down Nadya and she narrowly escapes, Nadya joins forces with the enigmatic, can-we-really-trust-him Malachaisz, a blood mage who defected from his home country and is now determined to kill the king. There are so many ways anything and everything can go wrong with this plan, and the will-they wont-they chemistry between born enemies Nadya and Malachiasz sucks you in and keeps you reading to the very end.
Pick up this book if you like: theology, enemies-to-lovers, goth af magic, LGBT reads, Polish/Russian-based fantasy settings. You won’t be disappointed.
Since I began participating in #ThursdayAesthetic, the wonderfully fun Twitter hashtag started by @literarilyjess, I’ve seen multiple posts on how to create moodboards via apps, but none for Photoshop (which is what I prefer). Here’s a brief overview of my process. Feel free to ask questions if you have any!
- First, create a new project, 500 x 500 pixels.
- Create your squares using the Rectangle Tool on the left sidebar. You’ll need nine squares at 166.67 x 166.67 pixels. (One will be slightly smaller because math.)
- Each square will be its own layer. I put my squares in order from top left all the way to bottom right, and I change the layer name from ‘Rectangle #’ to the coordinating position on the board (i.e. Top Left, Top Mid, Top Right, Mid Left, etc…)
- By double-clicking on the squares, alternate their colors like this:
I’ve seen tutorials suggesting three base colors, but I work more easily with two and find that I end up with a cleaner end product.
- Search Pinterest, Tumblr, whatever photo source you like for your photos. I prefer Pinterest, and my friend Claire has a great color-coded aesthetic page that I use often.
* Search tip: Add the word ‘aesthetic’ to your searches. I.E. if you’re making a green-themed Legolas moodboard just search “Legolas aesthetic” and “green aesthetic”
- Gather your photos and arrange/crop them into the squares! For easy cropping, I use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to select the portion of the photo I want to use, right click on the selection > Layer Via Copy. Click the eye to make the original photo layer invisible. Or delete it. I tend to keep it until the very end so the original image is there if I need it.
- Once you have the nine photos you want, sharpen each one individually. I prefer the Smart Sharpen option.
- Don’t forget to color! There are lots of tutorials on this and I’m not the person to explain this, but it really helps bring your color scheme together.
- I suggest gathering more than just nine photos because even though you’re going to find something AWESOME, it may not work with the set.
- The color-coded blocks should be like-colored aesthetic photos. For me, the grey squares usually end up being photos with white backgrounds and the black squares end up being darker photos. I also try to pick one color that epitomizes the “mood” of the moodboard (get it?) and find photos that have that color. Not every square has to have it, but try to spread the photos with the color theme throughout the board.
- Also, try to balance your photo choices. Space out your photos that are heavy on texture with minimalist ones. Text squares and pins/patches are great for de-cluttering your moodboard.
- Have fun with it! When I get frustrated that a board isn’t turning out the way I want, just save it and come back later.
This week’s theme is “Beginnings”, so I’ll be back tomorrow with my board.