Blog Hop; Why I write

I was recently tagged by Claire for this Blog Hop, and as it focuses a bit on writing, I thought I would take part!

The hop itself was started by Katy of Folly and Bloom.


WHY DO I WRITE?

I started Mab is Mab when I left college and started to work, because I was still reading a lot of books and still really wanted to talk about them! Apart from my mum, I didn't have any friends who loved books as much as me, so I put my thoughts online to see what came of it.

Now, I write because I still absolutely love it.



WHAT AM I WORKING ON?

I have a couple of projects I'm cooking up in the background of the blog; one of them is that I'm working on opening an online shop of designed goodies that should appeal to the book lover and the stationery addict alike. Unfortunately my self-motivation flags a bit when work has been particularly busy, so feel free to give gentle nudges on that ;)

I'm also a Project Life and #PostCircle convert, and I'm working on making sure I spend a bit less time in front of the computer - a bit of a new life choice! -  Scrap-booking and joining pen pal groups has been such a rewarding step away from the screen :)

I also have the inevitable pile of "To Be Read" books leering at me from the bookshelf. So I'm really working hard to get through them!



HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?

I call Mab is Mab a book blog, and it is, but if there is another genre that defines "Really likes to talk a lot and fangirl over cute things, and usually has a natural bookish/writer-ly theme" then Mab is Mab is that!

I post a review a week, because reviews are important to me as a reader, but I also like to make things fun and light-hearted. No-one wants to be all critique-y all the time! That's why I introduced the Weekly Reflection photo diary series and love having random posts such as the literary-based Cat-pocalypse!



HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK?

I thank the internet for scheduling tools and file syncing. I work a full day in an office so I usually keep paper notes of blog post ideas I have in notebooks, and then will sit down after dinner (usually while my partner plays FIFA) and write up as many as I can! I then steal as many minutes as I can during lunch breaks at work to refine reviews before posting them. (They're always better the second time round, right?!)

Thanks for tagging me Claire! I'm now tagging Kelly, who writes about a mixture of books, life and baking, and Sophie at Reviewed The Book who has brilliant reviews, author interviews and features!

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The One with Sipech

Hello! Today I'd like to welcome Simon (Sipech) to Mab is Mab! Sipech blogs at The Alethiophile and is on Twitter @TheAlethiophile



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

The One you always recommend:

Well, you've already taken The Shadow of the Wind, which I agree is excellent (if a little predictable). So instead I shall opt for Love in the Time of Cholera. The late Gabriel Garcia Marquez was a fantastic writer. Though I have only read English translations of his work, the imagery he conjures up with small turns of phrase are beautiful and the structure of this, in my view, his finest work, is a work to rival the majesty of a cathedral.

The One that was a gift:

This has to be a non fiction offering and I hereby nominate Surely You're Joking, Mr Feynman by Richard Feynman and Ralph Leighton. It got me hooked on Feynman as a popular writer, having already read his lectures on physics for my degree. A great collection of anecdotes given to me by an ex-girlfriend, it's wonderful to just dip into from time to time.

The One that got away:

The Book Thief. It's been on my 'to read' list for a while but I just haven't got round to it yet.

The One that makes you cry:

It has to be a Thomas Hardy novel. But which one? It might be easy to pick Tess, in particular the moment she finds her letter to Angel unread. But I would have go for The Mayor of Casterbridge. As a story of the impact of one silly mistake in one's youth, it gets a little close to the bone.

The One that still haunts you:

Back to the non fiction and a book that should haunt anyone who reads it, Elie Wiesel's Night is an eyewitness account of the Holocaust. The extent of evil that mankind can inflict on itself when it dehumanises 'the other' is shocking, even now.

The One you always go back to:

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Douglas Adams manages to give what is the finest example of silly self-deprecating British humour. Easy to read and utterly delightful, I revisit it about one every 5 years.


Thanks Sipech! It's really interesting to see some non-fiction in here, and some great picks. I've had Surely You're Joking, My Feynman on my shelf for a long while and have never dipped in - I think the time has come to give it a go! 




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Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - review

In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can't Google.)"  

Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell

Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Source: Gifted to me
Available: Now
Buy it: Here

Synopsis

Cath and Wren are twins starting their freshman year at college. Cath loves Simon Snow; the wizard in a popular book series, and is a prolific fan-fiction writer within the fandom. Wren is desperate to make the break from "twin" at college, and embraces the social aspects of college whole-heartedly. As Cath struggles with all the new changes college life brings - not to mention the effect of the twins' departure on those left at home - she finds herself fighting to hold on to the things she loves, burying herself deep into the familiar world of Simon and Baz, and struggling to keep her head above water.

Review

Fangirl is such a wonderfully real representation of school/college/university if you were ever the Cath of the class - the quiet, smart one; the sensible one with "geeky" tendencies, few friends and a worry for everything. Rainbow Rowell's talent at creating characters so real and relate-able once again shines brightest in this book.

And characters are 100% what makes Fangirl, and as a novel focused hugely of fan-fiction and its meaning I think that's entirely appropriate. I loved Cath, but equally I loved the "louder" characters of Fangirl. Reagan and Wren were the perfect counter to Cath, each bringing a slice of a different college experience to the narrative. We were allowed to know these characters fully, to wrap ourselves up in them and feel like they were friends: much like the twins relationship with Snow.

As much as I enjoyed Fangirl - and it was a great book - I couldn't give it 5 stars. I felt it was too long, lacked action in some parts, and some of the fan-fiction was a bit over-kill in length and style. It was like reading Harry Potter on too many e-numbers. I do, though, recognize how this is personal preference, and not a fault at all with the book!

I highly recommend Fangirl as a high-five to anyone who writes, anyone who kept their head down in school, anyone finding their place in the tumult of adolescence and anyone looking for a slice honest, cute romance. This book is for you.

Overall

Rainbow Rowell once again plants her all-too-real characters deep within our psyche. Relate-able situations, and the ability of the characters to voice the things we all feel but are too afraid to say make Fangirl a winner!

Score 
★★

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Weekly Reflection #49

Hi everyone! This week has been a bit of a stationery overload(!) and a lot of gardening.


1. I am a sucker for a bargain, and when I saw these items in WH Smith I just had to get them! Not to mention, the lilac bits will go with the lilac planner I ordered from Kikki K this week! (shh!)

2. I also got my first Kawaii Box delivery! I found out about this subscription on the Claireabellemakes blog and i LOVE it. So many cute things in one package.

3. Yet more stationery... I know, I know! I have been waiting for these Mildlighters to arrive for ages though, and they really are as good as everyone says. Worth the wait!

4. I saw these shoes online and instantly fell in love. I need them!

5. I found this drawing I did a while ago when rifling through my old files for Project Life photos. I wish I could still draw that well haha.

6. Speaking of Project Life... Claire sent me the Summer set of cards! They were sold out when I was trying to get them and she was so kind to nab me a pack when she saw them. Thanks Claire!

7. Another un-earthing from the past. I discovered some forgotten snaps of my besties <3 p="">
8. At the weekend we tackled our garden and planted up some new beds. This was the help we got ;)

9. I also got given a set of these gorgeous stoneware mugs. I love them!

Did you all have a good week? The Weekly Reflection will be out on Tuesday next week as on Monday I will be taking part in a Blog Hop all about writing!

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Bookish By Design - a giveaway!

This week I have guest posted over at The YA Nightstand with a post called Bookish By Design and I am giving away the illustration I created for the post (which you can see below) and a book of your choice! *

Have a read of the post and enter to win :)




( * Conditions apply! Check the Rafflecopter terms for details)

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Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas - review

Our lives are made up of choices, you see. Big ones, small ones, strung together by the thin air of good intentions; a line of dominoes, ready to fall."  

Title: Dangerous Boys
Author: Abigail Haas

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Source: ARC via Netgalley
Available: August 14th 2014
Buy it: Here

Synopsis


One fire, two brothers, a very small town, and Chloe - the only one with any of the answers. Why was the Monroe estate burning? Whose blood covers her clothes? And, most importantly, just which body did she pull out of the flames?

Review

Wow, just let me take a minute to process all that just happened. Dangerous Boys is an absolute rollercoaster of excitement. Dark, intense and with streaks of crazy, the story switches from past to present in a frenzy of flashbacks, action and deceits. And. I. Loved. Every. Second.

I don't want to say too much about the plot, as I don't want to ruin the ride for anyone - but it has a great mix of teen angst, impulsive lust, romance, action, tension and mystery. I really got a feel for  small-town America in this book, and all the hardships and benefits it brings to teenagers wanting to get away. It was the perfect setting for the plot which matched it for claustrophobic pressure.

A slight drawback for some may be that I found myself disliking nearly all of the characters. Though I am a reader who doesn't need to like characters to enjoy a book, I know others may feel differently. There is not a lot going for the key figures in Dangerous Boys, I have to say. However, this made the decisions and happenings in this book seem more plausible, and the right side of melodrama!

This is the first book by Abigail Haas I have read, and I have been left desperate for more, thanks to Dangerous Boys!

Overall

A dark and delicious thrill ride that never stops for air! Dangerous Boys was engrossing from the first page and impressed me so much, I am heading right out to find and purchase Dangerous Girls, which I hear is even better!

Score 
★★

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Weekly Reflection #48

This weekend saw the Balloon Fiesta arrive in Bristol (and subsequently saw it rained off - boo!) as well as the BBC's WW1 At Home tour!



1. I set up my new desk in my new office this week. I'm going to try and make it more of a "creative" space than at the last office. At least it means I have an excuse to buy stationery!

2. I ordered my first full set of Project Life cards! I have bought small partial sets from ebay before to use as bookmarks, but I'm thinking I might try turning these Weekly Reflections into physical memories too!

3. My favourite of the cards from the set. Something we should all remember :)

4. The annual Balloon Fiesta kicked off on Thursday, and hundreds of balloons set off across the city. Such a pretty sight at sunset!

5. There was a smurf!

6. The BBC also set up its WW1 At Home tour within the Balloon Fiesta grounds, and I stopped by a talk with Kate Adie about the women's war effort which was great :)

7. I received this gorgeous handmade card in the post from a pen pal.

8. And I'm slowly making my way through all the Japanese goodies in the house. This is some mango mochi - yum!

9. Finally, the TV ads got me good. I bought these pens solely on the advert, but I have to say they were worth it. Very pretty pens that I can;t wait to use more!

What did you get up to this week?

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The One with Mily

Hello! Today I'd like to welcome Mily to Mab is Mab! Mily blogs at The YA Nightstand and you can find her on Twitter @theYAnightstand


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


The One you always recommend:

Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher. I feel like I'm constantly telling everyone to buy this book. It's ridiculously sweet and the character's are vivid and loveable.
The story itself follows Sophie May as she falls in love with movie star Billy. However, Sophie has a secret that's eaten away at her confidence for so long that the idea of being with Billy is almost too much to handle.
I adore this book and Sophie's story. I think everyone should read it as it's just a brilliant chicklit-y book that will leave you with that warm fuzzy feeling.


The One that was a gift:

I actually don't get given books... I think I need new friends! Who doesn't buy they're bestie books for their birthday?

The One that got away:

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins.
I LOVED Anna and the French Kiss and I bought Lola the second I finished reading it but I just haven't had the time to read this one. Stephanie is an insanely funny writer that can grip hold of your attention from the very first page. I need to get my butt in gear and read this one! It will be perfect for summer.

The One that makes you cry:

I don't actually cry at books... I'm a little afraid I'm some kind of emotionless robot.
HOWEVER, Sever by Lauren DeStefano was heartbreaking! No tears but I will admit that once I had finished reading I didn't know what to do with my life. The book almost spent the night in the freezer!
Sever is the final book in The Chemical Garden's trilogy and so I kind of suspected there would be something big happening but I didn't see this coming and I was speechless when it happened! This one scene tore my life in two! And no, I don't feel like I'm being dramatic.


The One that still haunts you:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Damn that man knows how to pull at your heart strings! My flat mate actually told me to read this a couple of years back and I remember leaving him a little sticky note on his cupboard in the kitchen telling him that if what I thought was going to happen happened we would no longer be friends.
This book is devastatingly good and one I think everyone needs to read at least once.

The One you always go back to:

Harry Potter by J.K Rowling
HP was my childhood! I know it's technically 7 books but I've read this series a couple of times now and I'll read it a couple more. My mum used to read me and my brother the first ones when we were little and I still remember her reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in the car when we were on our way to the beach.
These character's have been with me since I was five years old and they are books that I will read to my children. They made me believe in magic and friendship and as J.K said,
"Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home."


Thanks Mily! That J.K quote is just perfect, isnt it? And I'd like to put a call out to all Mily's friends, virtual and IRL. Buy her books you meanies! haha





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The Girl With All The Gifts by M R Carey - review

You can't save people from the world. There's nowhere else to take them."  

Title: The Girl With All The Gifts
Author: M R Carey

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

Synopsis


(from Goodreads) Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh.
Melanie is a very special girl.

Review

I had heard a lot about The Girl With All The Gifts before I picked it up, but had managed to steer clear of spoilers. Many people told me it was un-put-down-able. Others raved at its brilliance. In fact, I hadn't heard a bad word about it! And so, with piqued interest, I entered the world of Melanie.

What I found was a well written zombie tale that didn't really bring anything groundbreaking to the tradition of zombie novels that came before it. That's not a bad thing - it was a solid zombie book! - but given the hype, I was expecting something that bit different. What we have is a military compound, an ambush, a group of survivors fighting to stay alive against the danger of "hungries" and the desperation to understand the disease that started the "Breakout".

There were some great elements to The Girl With All The Gifts, no doubt. I loved the originality of what the disease actually was. I loved the metaphor of greek myths running through the story. I loved - no, LOVED - the catastrophic and almost poetic ending. Melanie was a charismatic and complex character and Miss Justineau was the perfect mother figure. That said, I do have to disagree quite strongly with the "un-put-down-able" remark. Half way through this book, the story drags like you wouldn't believe. I was skipping pages, I have to admit. I'm not saying what happened over these pages wasn't necessary. It could probably have just been shorter!

Overall

The Girl With All The Gifts was a great zombie novel; it mixed humanity with horror, and gave a strong sci-fi outbreak theory. However, the pacing suffered at the midpoint taking some of the excitement out of the narrative. Bonus points for the brilliant ending, though!

Score 
★★

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Weekly Reflection #47

Hi everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend. The Weekly Reflection feels a little bit sparse this week, which is crazy as I've been so busy! Here's just a little of what I got up to :)



1. The company I work for is moving to a new office today, so I was clearing out mydesk and found all kinds of old treasures! I found an old story synopsis I never wrote, and also a couple of sketches I never drew up properly.

2. Anyone else think I invented the standing desk before it was cool? ;)

3. I received some awesome post from pen pals, including this teeny tiny origami book...

4. A bundle of pretty things ...

5. and OWL POST! Yes, I do wish it was real.

6. Inside was some great things including my Hogwarts Express ticket and the Marauder's Map! See you at Hogwarts, guys!

7. My boyfriend bought me this amazing colouring book. If you think colouring is for kids, think again. This book is beauuutiful.

8. I also experimented with some magnet paper. Geekery included a lot of Katamari themed magnets ;)

9. Finally this week, I got my hair chopped! It's a bit shorter than I originally planned, but I think I like it!

What did you get up to?!

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