Beautiful Books - July 2014 edition

Every month, I will be rounding up some of my favourite book cover art from the month's new releases. As a designer during out-of-blog-hours, I love cover reveals and Q&A's with the artists! It's a bit of a dream job of mine to one day become a book cover designer, so I'm considering this good source for inspiration too ;)


Here are my favourites from July 2014

 

Landline by Rainbow Rowell - I just love the retro feel of this cover. I love the typography too - hard block type paired with swirly black "wire" font looks great. Big. bold and an awesome book to boot!



Reckoning by Kerry Wilkinson is the only photo-based cover this month and I loooove the inky colours and the merging images. The light out of the "O" is the perfect focus point. Love it! 




I'm not sure which cover of The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton I like best, so I'm featuring both! It looks intricate and creepy - much like the story, I hear! 




Isn't this cover for Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid just so cute? Maps are always pretty and this summer-yl colour scheme gives it a whimsical road trip feel. I would definitely pick this one up off the shelf!



My wildcard this month is a newly released boxed set! Stargirl/Love, Stargirl Set by Jerry Spinelli is one of my all-time favourite books, and this new set takes the iconic pink covers and gives them a fresh green and blue update! I might have to buy this set for myself :D 

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Say Her Name by James Dawson - review

Drip...drip...drip..."  

Title: Say Her Name
Author: James Dawson

Publisher: Hot Key Books
Source: ARC from publisher
Available: Now
Buy it: Here

Synopsis

It's Halloween and Bobbie, her best friend Naya and the super-cute boy from the village, Caine, find themselves in front of a mirror, proving to themselves (and each other) that ghosts do. not. exist. Five "bloody Mary"s later, and the drip, drip, dripping starts to get louder, and Bobbie starts to think perhaps she was wrong...

Review

First off the mark, let's just start the campaign now for more ghosts in YA, ok?! There is an aching hole just waiting to be filled with scary spectral goodness, and I, for one, really want to read it!

So onto the book... Say Her Name is a great slice of raging teenage hormones, set against a backdrop of tensions and spookiness. I loved that the ghost story itself is that of Bloody Mary. Right away it taps straight into that place of sleepovers and torchlight from my own teenage years, trying to scare each other silly! That's actually exactly what Say Her Name felt like to read; like you were sharing the story with these characters in a dark room.

The story took a little while for me to get into, and I think it's because my one "little moan" about the book came very early on. I'd been debating whether to say it or not, and I won't dwell on it too long... but it felt like the book was very aware of itself. Like it was counting its diversity quota or something... Some phrases felt a bit shoe-horned into the flow of the character description to make sure the reader definitely knew that there is more than the rich white kid in this boarding school tale. I don't know, maybe it's just me? (I'm totally for diverse books, by the way!)

That aside, once the character introductions were out the way, I was fully hooked, swept along nicely, and enjoyed every up, down and big reveal the story had to offer! I especially liked the cute romance that developed between Caine and Bobbie. I wasn't expecting it in a ghost story and I thought it came across as really honest and sweet. It definitely fit in.

Overall

I loved Say Her Name as it took "traditional" ghost legend and adapted it really well for a YA audience. The scares were good and well paced, and the atmosphere was nicely reminiscent of torch-in-your-face sleepovers! The addition of blossoming romance to a ghost story is something I wasn't expecting, but really enjoyed it. 

Score 
★★


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Weekly Reflection #46 - Hyper Japan

This weekend I went to the Hyper Japan event in Earl's Court. I was so excited to go and the exhibition was a really fun day out :) I also got some great post!



1. First post arrival was another Coheed and Cambria live DVD

2. And next was some new shoes I have fallen in love with. Stripes AND mint! LOVE.

3. Finally I received this book from Hot Key Books and I can't wait to see what it's like :) It's been very hyped and it's a lot shorter than I expected, so I'm sure I'll start it soon!

4. So... on to Hyper Japan! All the anime/manga culture figures were out in force, including this very puffy Totoro ! There was some great cosplay on show too, as the event held an awards ceremony for cosplayers.

5. Pikachu also made an appearance. I really wouldn't have wanted to be any of these guys in the mega hot weather!

6. I couldn't resist picking up a couple of these cute panda bowls. There were so many stalls to buy from - I had to be *relatively* restrained as I had to take everything back on the train. I almost bought a tea set but I couldn't carry it all :(

7. These alpacas were EVERYWHERE. I think the event makes its entire profit from alpaca sales :p - I really wanted one but they were quite pricey and I had so many things already....

8. ... including this haul from the Artbox stand! This is just some of it as I want to keep the letter sets a surprise for my snail mail friends :D I kind of love the pink poo pencil sharpener haha

9. And to top it all off, the event had lots of opportunity to try japanese food and drink. We tried lots of different teas, sake, tempura and noodles - and I bought lots of treats from the confectionery stalls! Mmmm Pocky :D

I hope you all had a great weekend!

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The One with Allie


Hello! Today I'd like to welcome Allie to Mab is Mab! Allie blogs at Little Birdie Books and you can find her on Twitter @allie_LBB


Here are Allie's picks for "The One"!

The One you always recommend:

The Raven Boys The book is gold dust to me. It has something for everyone and is a great abomination of fantasy, action, comedy, romance, thriller, horror and ALL THE THINGS. Plus it brings the feels. And, really, I can say with complete honesty that I have never before (or since) read a book with such fantastically crafted and developed characters.

The One that was a gift:

Ender's Game – my brother gave this to me. We did a sci-fi book swap thing and, since this is his favourite sci-fi book, he chucked it my way (not literally, of course).

The One that got away:

I have never read a David Levithan, so basically anything he's ever done has got away from me! I plan to rectify this soon as everyone is always going on about how fantastic he is and I feel like the kid who didn't get invited to the party.


The One that makes you cry:

I really don't tend to cry at books (I'm a heartless woman, I know). But a book that really did get me quite distressed was Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock. That was heart-shattering, my friends.

The One that still haunts you:

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma. For so many reasons (though incest and horribly depressing events are the top two).

The One you always go back to:

The Fault in Our Stars. It's funny and sad and sweet and just perfect. It's my snuggle-up-to book


Thanks Allie! The Fault In Our Stars is absolutely wonderful - though can't believe it wasn't a cry-er haha! 






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Weekly Reflection #45

This week I travelled by bike and by train, had my body weight in milkshake and was reminded that we are all beautiful!


1. My first "must do" of the week was to catch up on letters after a very busy few weeks!

2. I then took a break in the gorgeous weather and got on my bike! Off on a cycle to Pill.

3. Some cute ducks I saw all in a line ^.^

4. I spent part of the week shopping in Birmingham!

5. It was my first time in Birmingham not for work, so I took the opportunity to visit the new library, which was very fancy! Loved the roof gardens :)

6. This was taken from one of the garden balconies. You are beautiful!

7. I couldn't resist a trip to Selfridges Food Hall, when I think I consumed my body weight in Nutella milkshake at the diner!

8. I'm often shouting into a void when it comes to my love for this band, but my Coheed and Cambria Neverender DVD arrived and I WAS VERY EXCITED.

9. To top off an already awesome week, I booked myself tickets to Hyper Japan. At risk of sounding repetitive... I'M SO EXCITED! I'm expectign to spend far too much money on kawaii stationery and squishies!

Hope you all had a great week too!

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#HappyMail - Why I write letters


A short while ago, I was regularly coming home frustrated from a long day at work on a computer, and trying to relax...on a computer. Something in that situation didn't add up...(!)... So, I looked for other ways I could unwind from my work day at home.

That's when I discovered the world of pen pals! Now, if you're anything like me you probably thought pen paling died out along with Spice Girls (no! Viva Forever!) and stick-on earrings. But if you look on Pinterest and Instagram, you'll find the adult pen pal community is very alive - and really fun!

I love writing and making things, so joining some pen palling circles seemed like the perfect way to remove myself from a screen and do something fun to relax. It has been one of THE BEST decisions I have made. I currently write to some wonderful ladies who are funny, creative, interesting and best of all - pretty bookish! :D

Writing letters also opens up another fun hobby which I was already pretty good at; stationery hoarding! haha. Now I simply cannot pass a stationery shop without popping in and seeing what goodies I can pack into my next letter :)

My journey started with #PostCircle - a wonderful pen palling group set up by Anna at Tea with Miss Beatrix - and through the community hashtags I have added a few more correspondences to my list. Some are UK based, and some are overseas, and I love learning new things from everyone I write to. The hashtag #HappyMail could not be more true. The feeling of seeing a brightly decorated letter landing on my doormat brings such a smile to my face, and I know I need to grab a cuppa and have a quiet few minutes to catch up :)

I wanted to share this with you because I think a lot of us - especially bloggers - are "bound to a screen" and stick very much to our own circles. But if you want to widen out, meet some amazing people and get back to good old pen and paper? Well, why not find a pen pal? :)

What do you think? Would you want to write to people? Do you find it hard to pull yourself away from technology?

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This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers - review

“I wouldn't have left you like that. Not like she did to me." I swallow hard. "She always said I'd die without her and she left anyway."  

Title: This Is Not A Test
Author: Courtney Summers

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Source: Purchased from Kindle Store
Available: Now
Buy it: Here

Synopsis

Sloane wanted to die - there is a lot she wanted that never happened. She wanted her sister to come back for her, and she wanted to escape the clutches of her abusive father. So why, when the world is falling apart around her, is she still surviving?

Review

This Is Not A Test is a wonderfully written, if bleak, portrayal of teenagers thrown against a lot of "worst situations". Courtney Summers chooses to make the zombies almost background narrative to her story of teens struggling to survive the zombie outbreak, survive each other and, ultimately, survive themselves.
The plot is racked full of angsty emotion as each of the group of teen survivors battles their own demons and faces up to decisions they've had to make to stay alive.

I found that, personally, I wasn't much of a fan of the narrator, Sloane. I found her to be overly defeatist and although her unknown-to-herself strengths shone through, I found it frustrating that she couldn't find anything to live for. Having said that - not loving the main character did not in any way detract from the book. I wonder if the reader is even meant to like her? I did, though, warm to other characters when seeing them through Sloane's eyes. I especially warmed to Rhys and Grace, who both have compassion and loyalty in bounds. Sloane's idealisation of their perceived lives is quite heart-wrenching at times, and shows her to be very much a child at heart, desperate for love and companionship.

Of course, a zombie novel is not without its violence. This Is Not A Test is violent is a way which matches the intensity of the darkness within its characters. I don't think it ever over stepped the mark, and at times the violence was necessary to see characters develop and become more than their previous selves.

This Is Not A Test is not, in any way, a happy read. However, if you like a lot of angst, a bit of romance and the threat of zombie infection, you will love this book!

Overall

Hyper-charged teen angst takes centre stage in this novel that sets emotional complexity against the confusion of a zombie-outbreak backdrop. I enjoyed reading This Is Not A Test, despite its bleakness, and am thrilled to find another zombie YA novel that sets zombies as a catalyst for character development, rather than just action and gore.

Score 
★★


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Weekly Reflection #44 - YALC / LFCC edit!

So this week was very exciting because it was the first ever Young adult Literary Con in the UK! For all of us who gaze with envy across the pond every time BEA hits, we now finally had something to call our own - YAY!


YALC was part of the bigger event, London Film and Comic Con, and I think it was the perfect place for it - except I wish the book zone wasn't right next to the Stan Lee photo booth; it got VERY crowded over there! Mixing up all fandoms was a perfect choice, and we may even have discovered new ones! I for one loved the anime zone JUST as much as the book zone :D
There has been a lot of discontent over the queue management and the unbearable heat of the venue on the first day, but by day two, both these things were a lot better and I consider them minor blips in an otherwise amazing weekend.

I got to see SO many brilliant authors, publishers and people, and I want to send out a huge thank you to the organisers, and especially Malorie Blackman - using her Children's Laureate role to the best of her advantage for sure! My favourite talks were "Superfans Unite" with Andy Robb, Rainbow Rowell, Lucy Saxon and Tim O'Rourke, and "I'm Too Sexy For This Book" chaired by the amazing James Dawson alongside Cat Clarke, Non Pratt and Beth Reekles. That talk had me giggling no end!

I'm too sexy for this book!Superfans Unite

Not only were there great panels and signings, there was also ALL OF THIS!


Transformers... Game Of Thrones dragons... Cosplay... Kawaii... Artists... Game Of Thrones cast... GILES!... Meeting Rainbow Rowell... a trip to the V&A museum!


I had such a good time at Comic Con / YALC and I really really hope it will be back again next year, bigger and better!

Would you go to YALC if it's on again next year?


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The One with Fionnuala


Hello! Today I'd like to welcome Fionnuala to Mab is Mab! Fionnuala blogs at Books For Birds and you can find her on Twitter @CrazyCrunchies

Here are Fionnuala's picks for "The One"!

The One you always recommend:

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer - this book is my go to book if someone asks me what my favorite book is, this book is a real gem - I found it at a book market - and it really made me stop and think about the world, or more specifically human nature and emotion. I was only three when 9/11 occurred, but my mum did tell me about seeing it on the news and how horrible it was and I think EL&IC really illuminated that event for me. The main character is probably the most well written and thought provoking nine year old I have ever come across, and in general its just an amazing book. I would go as far to call it a piece of art.

The One that was a gift:

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman - I was first introduced the the His Dark Materials trilogy when I received the last book, when I was nine, from my mum (cheers, mum). I read this book within two days, loved it, and got The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife out of the school library, and so that's how that came to be. The Amber Spyglass is still my favorite book in that trilogy and from time to time I'll re-read it again. Going into more specifics I actually received this book on the 27th of July, 2007 - and I know this because there is an inscription in the book from my mum, with the date... yeah, I will always treasure that book.

The One that got away:

Pivot Point by Kasie West - Now A LOT of bloggers I know have praised this book, and its been sitting on my shelves for nearly two months now, but I haven't brought myself up to read it yet - but hoping to get through it very soon, after my exams are over.


The One that makes you cry:

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult - I admit to a slight bit of cheating here because I have never cried over a book, its just a thing that I don't do, buuut if I picked a book based on mental crying then it would be My Sister's Keeper. This book was a gift from the mum of one of my best friends, and I debated about mentioning it above in the gift section, then I saw there was this entry, so the best of both worlds, yay! This book is absolutely beautiful, and I have read it countless times, I think MSK is a book that is untouchable - in its own little bubble of amazingness and originality.


The One that still haunts you:

The Dead by Charlie Higson - This is the only book I have read in The Enemy series, and its not particularly scary, but it is quite gruesome and I can recall the scenes where decomposing bodies are being described very, very, clearly. Zombies. In my head. I'm not at all squeamish, but I cannot get these images out of my head, they look so clear and real... and yes, I am mental.

The One you always go back to:

The Harry Potter Series - I'm not copying alright, but I agree with Mab; the Harry Potter books are my ultimate comfort reads. I will never get tired of them or the world that J.K. Rowling has written, and when I'm in a slump or just generally wanting to take a break in-between review books, I will read one of these books (most likely with a cup of tea) and not only are they still brilliant reads but there are also so many good memories associated with these books that its like I'm in a TARDIS ("Books are bigger on the inside") within a TARDIS (going down memory lane = TIME TRAVELING).


Thanks Fionnuala! I have a feeling Harry Potter may be a very popular choice!






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Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell - review

Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”   

Title: Eleanor and Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell

Publisher: Orion
Source: Purchased from Kindle Store
Available: Now
Buy it: Here

Synopsis

Eleanor and Park meet on the bus to school. It is the beginning of everything neither of them ever knew they needed. And they do. They need it. Escape and understanding...
But how will the two kids who don't belong fare in the world of high school? And will it be any easier at home, either?

Review

Where to even begin with Eleanor and Park... I knew it would be good - the waves of love for this story and these characters are almost unfaltering. I just didn't realise just how MUCH good I was letting myself in for.

Eleanor and Park is the simplest of stories, in essence. Boy meets girl, they are both from different worlds, but they complete each other. They love like no one ever could love, and they feel each moment more than anyone could feel. But then, THEN... there are these characters. These beautifully subtle, unique and unforgettable characters. Simultaneously tragic and triumphant, too-good and continually faulted. Eurgh, it shouldn't even be possible, but Rainbow Rowell has written people so real it's hard to believe that they are not. Eleanor could have lost an eye lash, and I'd have wanted to know.

The narrative is engrossing as you care so much for the outcome of this couple, and for Eleanor and Park individually too. Eleanor faces a home life that is absolutely awful - while Park struggles with his identity as a korean kid who likes eyeliner in a massively traditional White American community. Both of these struggles are multiplied in importance when placed against a backdrop of the mid eighties, a decade less accepting, but open the the emerging changes in society.

As for the emotional impact, Eleanor and Park packs feelings in like sardines. It's a rollercoaster of ups and downs, fears and excitements, always keeping the reader on their toes.Should I stop gushing now?!

Overall

Unbelievably cute and heart-string-tugging, Eleanor and Park is the first Rainbow Rowell novel I have read and I can say with complete conviction that it will not be my last. Utter YA perfection, these characters will live with you while you read about them, and you will never forget them. Highly, highly recommended.

Score 
★★★★

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