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Beautiful Books - May 2014 edition


I have a new feature to share with you! 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 May 2014.


Kicking things off is this lush cover for After The End by Amy Plum.
I think it's the clouds and the sand merging textures that make this cover so brilliant for me, teamed with the bright burst of yellow in the gloom. I love it, and it really gives a feel for the apocalyptic story line.


The Bees by Laline Paull has such a gorgeous retro vibe to it. It's very different to the swirly typography covers I'm seeing a lot of at the moment, and it stands out because of it.
It also reminds me of one of my favourite iconic covers from The Silence Of The Lambs with the queen bee at the top there!


Keeping with a retro feel, this Patrick Ness title achieves such depth in its simplicity.
I love the colours used. More Than This definitely caught my eyes when I walked into the book shop the other day!


The cover for Guy In Real Life by Steve Bresenoff is just so adorable! (And retro, again. Bit of a trend starting?!) I love it because the hearts remind me of playing Zelda, but also because I'm a massive fan of usng white space well. This cover does it :)


Everything Leads To You by Nina Lacour has one of the most "pretty" covers I've seen in a long time. There isn't anything I don't like about it - great colours, great font, great photo.


Ok, so I consider this one a bit of a wildcard choice. Darkworld by Cara Lynn Shultz has one of those "could be cheesy"/"could just fit" kind of covers, and to be honest, I haven't read it to completely make up my mind yet. But, despite the weird merging-ness (does the girl really need to be on the cover?!) I find myself drawn in by it. So it must be good  ;)

What have been your favoruite book covers for May?



 
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The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult - review

“Forgiving isn't something you do for someone else. It's something you do for yourself. It's saying, 'You're not important enough to have a stranglehold on me.' It's saying, 'You don't get to trap me in the past. I am worthy of a future.”

Title: The Storyteller
Author: Jodi Picoult

Publisher: Hodder
Source: Purchased
Available: Now
Buy it: Here

Synopsis

Sage has been asked to do an impossible thing - to listen to the confessional of a former Nazi officer, and help him to die, forgiven. As if that wasn't struggle enough, Sage finds herself personally implicated in his confession, as she goes to her Jewish grandmother for advice, and hears her story, kept from her for 25 years. What is the true meaning of forgiveness, and what, if at all, can she offer?

Review

I am a long-time fan of Jodi Picoult's novels, and in all honesty, I found The Storyteller hard to love. Usually so good at portraying an unbiased view of two sides to a moral dilemma, with The Storyteller it felt as if this was one topic Picoult was unable to draw enough distance from to do that. The "less popular"/challenging side to the story was very leading, and didn't give the reader space to form their own opinions.

I realise that holocaust is an unwavering topic. To most there are very defined lines of good and evil. However, in approaching this novel, and given the author's previous books, I expected to be given a tough and challenging read. I wanted to be uncomfortable, presented with hard choices of empathy - perhaps have my eyes opened. There wasn't any of that here. The story itself was good, well written and researched, moving and captivating. However, there is no denying that with The Storyteller, this is just "another war story". I was disappointed with this, and it's a personal opinion, but as a fan I didn't get what I thought Jodi would deliver.

This doesn't affect the overall quality of the novel. I enjoyed reading the story very much, and will certainly look forward to the next release from Jodi Picoult with anticipation. If you are looking for a novel portraying the Jewish struggle during WWII in an emotional and page-turning fashion, The Storyteller is a brilliant book for you.

Overall

A departure from the usual "two-sided" narrative approach, I found The Storyteller to be a page turner, but ultimately a little flat in it's delivery. However, I am basing this off of a previous love of the author's style, and taken alone The Storyteller is a great novel for those interested in historical drama.

Score 
★★★
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GUEST POST: The CAT-POCALYPSE!


The internet is cat-crazy, so when I recently asked on Twitter what people would like to see me talk about on the blog, I shouldn't have been surprised by Mily from The YA Nightstand's suggestion: The Cat-pocalypse!

Tweets traded, emails ensued... and suddenly, Cat-pocalypse was real! We may have lost a few marbles, but coming up with this post really was fun! We narrowed it down to an interview-style post. Mily's answers are below.

YOU CAN FIND OUT MY ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS BELOW ON MILY'S BLOG! CLICK HERE!

Here are Mily's answers!

How did the cat-pocalypse come about?

Crookshanks was fed up of everyone taking the rats side. He told them Scabbers was evil, but would they listen? Would they fudge! So, one day he simply snapped and called together the PODA – Pets Of Dumbledore's Army. The next thing we knew, cats had taken over the plant and enslaved the human race.

Who would be the cat mastermind of the cat-pocalypse?

Were you not listening? Crookshanks - Hermione’s fluffy ginger sidekick from the Harry Potter books.


Name a dystopia book that may give you some hints on surviving?

The Matched Trilogy - It doesn’t exactly have anything to do with cats but I think that – especially in the second book – there are some handy tips on what NOT to do when escaping a fascist society. Just in case you fancied making a run for it.

Who would be the leader of Human Revolution?

This may be a little controversial but Jezza (Jeremy Clarkson) has taken control of the Human Revolution. He’s also been running the Cat Masters down in his 4x4… Cat Sympathiser’s are not best pleased!

 

Are you a part of the Revolution or a Cat sympathiser?

Cat Sympathiser! How bad could it really be? I mean, my cats practically boss me around as it is so would it really be that different? Also, the Revolution seems like a lot of work.
The five best ways to bribe our new Cat Masters?

Tuna. Belly rubs. Cat treats. A doggie sacrifice & a monocle, because who doesn’t love a monocle?

Who would you turn to for help during the cat-pocalypse?

Doctor Dolittle seemed like the logical choice. BUT, I think I’m going to give The Doctor a call! Seriously, he’s my go-to guy when the Zombies come so I think he’ll be top of my list when the cats take over to. He can just take me away in his TARDIS! We could go back in time or into the future where the cats have finally been defeated. He’s kind of got it all.

Although, can I have the Matt Smith reincarnation please? No reason I can’t have something pretty to look at.

CAT FIGHT!! Crookshanks (Harry Potter) vs Buttercup (The Hunger Games) - who wins?

Being as in my world Crookshanks has taken over by his evil catty ways I should say him… but Buttercup is one tough cookie! Always seems to make it though, and in all honesty, I’m not 100% sure Crookshanks even made it to the end of book 7. So begrudgingly… the winner is… Buttercup.

The Cat Masters induct an "honorary cat" into their collective - who would it be?

Author, Lauren DeStefano. Have you seen her Instagram photographs? I mean I think she might be part cat anyway, how else can you explain this…


I can’t even get my cats in the same room without a fight breaking out!

Which book would you read to escape the cat-pocalypse madness around you?

I know I use this one for everything but… Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher! It’s the purr-fect escape book!

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Trouble by Non Pratt - review

'I want people to think Hannah before they think pregnant.

Title: Trouble
Author: Non Pratt

Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
Source: Purchased via Kindle Store
Available: Now
Buy it: Here

Synopsis

Hannah is fifteen and pregnant. Aaron is starting a new school and finding himself unexpectedly popular in an unfamiliar crowd. When the two of them meet, it seems like the perfect fit; Hannah gets a friend as her past catches up with her, and Aaron gets to do something to help right the wrongs of his own. But how long can it last? After all, there is a baby on the way!

Review

Once I had started Trouble, I just. could. not. stop. Trouble is the kind of book that places its characters right inside your head and will not let them leave! The voices for the teenage narrators were perfect, and utterly believable. I loved Hannah, for all her "flaws", and found Aaron to be mysterious in just the right amounts.

The storyline is poignant, and often quite moving. However, the gritty depth behind this novel is portrayed in a way that feels natural and, at times, very funny! Non Pratt has really brought to life situations in such a way as to portray their reality, but also make them entertaining. I really, really enjoyed it.

However, (and yes there is usually always a but!), I couldn't give Trouble a full five stars because the ending left me with a huge "WTF" bubble hanging over my head! It was so abrupt!!! I thought for a few seconds that I had bought an incomplete book... Having given it a few days, I totally understand why it ended the way it did, and in a way I have even come round to thinking it quite effective. But ultimately, I just can't get over that initial shock I felt...

Overall

Trouble is an absolutely brilliant teen read, funny and charming, full of wonderful characters and presenting teen pregnancy in a really non-preachy way. I would recommend this book to any fan of teen fiction!

Score 
★★★
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Superfumi stationary haul

I can't help myself! Just as I think I have enough stationary to last a lifetime, I discover something new and just have to buy it - and that is exactly what happened when I came across Superfumi's website! One word: UNICORNS.
I got in touch with Claudia to ask her about her products as I loved them so much, and even though she was mega busy at a tradeshow she sent me the following information and some of the photos above - I love finding out how designers are inspired and think Claudia's characters are wonderful!

The Superfumi brand is the brainchild of London-based Italian illustrator Claudia Fumagalli. The label was born out of Claudia's desire to transform her hand-drawn illustrations into something she and her friends could wear and use everyday.

The Enchanted Forest is Superfumi's current collection. It includes The Curious Fox, The Happy Hedgehog, The Woodland Fawn, The Magical Unicorn and more. They all began life as original artwork by Claudia and are now lovingly re-imagined as a collection of covetable gift ideas.




The range includes art prints, stationary, homeware, jewellery and gift ideas . Each illustration is available in different pieces across the range, allowing Superfumi fans to buy matching sets of their favourite designs. Claudia's illustrations are inspired by the world around us, childhood memories and magical stories. That's why every illustration comes with its very own story.

Claudia is always working on new pretty drawings from her home studio. She hopes her illustrations and trinkets will bring you, or someone close to your heart, lots of joy and happy memories.



My little haul is absolutely gorgeous, I can't recommend Superfumi highly enough for quirky British design. I have recently joined #PostCircle and I really can't wait to send some of these beauties to the group :D

Here's what I got:

 A little selection of illustrated greetings cards in the deer, fox and squirrel range.

 Two coasters; one for me and one for my Sheffield-ian boyfriend. I'll leave you to determine which is which!


Two mini notebooks in Squirrel print and Unicorn print. They're absolutely adorable. We'll be using them to write down our smoothie concoctions for our new Nutribullet ;)

THANKS CLAUDIA!


NOTE: I did not receive any compensation for this post, I simply wanted to share with you a designer whose work I love!


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Smart by Kim Slater - review

I found Jean's friend dead in the river. His name was Colin Kirk. He was a homeless man, but he still wanted to live.

Title: Smart
Author: Kim Slater

Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Source: ARC via Netgalley
Available: June 5th
Buy it: Pre-order here

Synopsis

Kieran has found a man dead in the Trent. As police investigate and question the local homeless community, Kieran sets out on his own investigation - writing to his hero, Martin Brunt of Sky News and jotting every detail down in his notebooks. As his findings have him looking closer and closer towards his own home life, Kieran uncovers a few secrets of his own.

Review

I absolutely loved this book. A quick read, written in the familiar vein of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (and I feel the comparisons are inevitable here), Smart takes a loveable, naive character in the form of Kieran and sweeps the reader through a tightly woven landscape of characters, mystery and struggle.

The narrative deals with some very dark issues - namely domestic abuse, drugs, learning difficulties and homelessness. I felt these were all handled in a very honest and relevant way. We experience these things all through the eyes of Kieran, who has an innocence yet a "smartness" about him which I found really interesting, and it really pulled me through the pages as I wondered what he would come across next.

The writing style is very simple and easy to read, and has such a character to it that I really felt like I knew Kieran. One of my favourite things in Smart is the presence of Miss Crane, Kieran's teaching assistant. Her words echo throughout Kieran's thoughts, even when she isn't around. I liked how the author used the student/teacher relationship he built at school as one of the strongest and most influential he had, really reflecting his home life without laying it out word by word.

Overall

Smart is an absolute page turner with a loveable narrator and great characterisation. A quick read but one that will stay with you. I will be recommending Smart a lot, and can;t wait to see what's next from Kim Slater!

Score 
★★★

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Top 10: Best bloggy apps

I use a lot of things on a day to day basis to help me blog. Today I'm sharing a list of my most-used web and mobile apps that help me make Mab is Mab what it is!

 1. Instagram

If you've looked at my Weekly Reflection posts, you'll know I love using Instagram to share photos! I've tried loads of camera apps on my phone, and I settled on Instagram as the community is the best over there!

2. Snapseed

I use this as a quick editor on my phone for photos. Although I have a DSLR, I default to my phone camera more often than not when I'm out and about. Snapseed makes them look great!

3. PicMonkey

PicMonkey is a web app for free photo editing and collaging. It makes the whole thing so quick and easy, I can't fault it. A lot of editing options are premium, but it doesn't mean they skimp on the freebies!

4. Adobe Illustrator

I recently moved from CS6 to Creative Cloud and I love it! I use illustrator for all the designs I make for myself and others. I still haven't scratched the surface of what it can do, and I've been using it for 7 years!

5. Evernote

I read all the time. Everywhere. And I review a book a week. Evernote means I can keep reading notes wherever I am, and can access them synced between my phone, my computer, and anywhere else I can log in!

6. TeuxDeux

I am lucky enough to get a lot of ARCs for review. TeuxDeux keeps me on task and on time with them! It's a really simple to-do list app, accessible on mobile and online, that loves lists almost as much as I do ;)

7. Goodreads

Ok, I have to admit I HATE this app. It's clunky and almost unusable. However, it is GREAT for a quick progress update on the reading targets when I'm out and about!

8.  Dropbox

Syncing up my photos and files between mobile and PC like a dream! Dropbox also gives my design clients access to their files - much better than large file-size emails!

9. Grooveshark

I can't write reviews without music. I just can't!

10. Twitter

Because, well... who doesn't?! I love Twitter :) Come and join me!

What are you favourite apps for blogging?


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The Moment Collector by Jodi Lynn Anderson - review

The yard of this house is a graveyard of moments and everything left behind is a clue. And I am here to dig.

Title: The Moment Collector
Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson

Publisher: Hachette Children's Books
Source: ARC via Netgalley
Available: August 7th
Buy it: Pre-order here

Synopsis

Maggie and her family have moved to Gill Creek - a remote town with few people, and fewer things to do. However, something is attracting a lot of attention; girls are going missing and turning up dead in the lake. As suspicions grow between the Gill Creek residents, Maggie finds herself experiencing her own small town troubles, as she befriends the aloof and alluring Pauline, and falls for thoughtful, but lovelorn, Liam.

Review

The Moment Collector is a really atmospheric look at close friendships in an almost suffocating environment. One of the best parts of this novel is the great characterisation of Pauline, Liam and Maggie - all of whom I found to be worthy of the "tragically beautiful" label! Each of them has such a vulnerability, a thankless obsession and a sense of love and loyalty. I found them to be the type of characters that can *only* exist in a book - but that's no bad thing! Sometimes, watching willowy, aloof, introspective teens doing the things they do has us wishing for a life like theirs. And often, I did!

If there was one word I would use to describe The Moment Collector best, it would be "gentle", which seems an odd sort of word for a book. However, the mood set by the characters we are aligned with has no real sense of urgency. They live their life, bit by bit, day by day, moment by moment - despite the horrific things happening around them. They still have moments to fall in love, to notice the small things, to be a daughter, a lover, a friend... And then, there is the ghost.

The ghost of The Moment Collector was both unexpected and the best part of the book. The writing, the sense of being, the observations - they were all wonderful and I can't help but feel the ghost's chapters were too few and far between! The chapters complimented the style of the three friends so well, it seemed almost natural to have something very unnatural in the narrative.

However, I found the intrigue, novelty and mystery of the characters and the plot wore a little thin in the second half of the book. Key plot drivers - such as the murders - almost waned into insignificance and the focus of the book shifted from life and its quirks to almost standard teen drama; which was a little disappointing after such a unique start.

Overall

A brilliant and mysterious start builds to reveal something of a disappointing second half. I felt key plot themes were left under-developed, but really enjoyed the characters and atmosphere of this not-quite-a-ghost-story ghost-story!

Score 
★★★

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Holiday reads!

 It's the constant "big question" for a book lover; You're going on holiday. You're going to be away from your book shelf - away from any bookshops likely to be selling books in a language you can read -

WHICH BOOKS DO YOU TAKE WITH YOU?!

Not only that, but how many books does a book lover get through in a week or two? How will you ever be able to fit them all in your luggage allowance?! (Thank you, invention of the e-reader, for at least solving that one.)

I'm facing this dilemma next month, so I'm planning early. My holiday to-read list so far consists of the books below, but I want to ask you - how do you decide what books to take away with you? And do you have any suggestions for me?

Very often, when I go on holiday, I like to take a "literary holiday" too - I choose books outside of my normal genres and open myself up to something new. So far, I'm taking two books I would consider as close to chick-lit romance as I'm willing to get(!), a historical fiction and a couple of YA books I've not had the time to read yet but really need to! Please send suggestions for more, I have two weeks to fill with lovely words!


My holiday reading:


Fangirl and Eleanor and Park- by Rainbow Rowell

The Rosie Project - by Graeme Simsion

The List - by Joanna Bolouri

Queen's Gambit - by Elizabeth Fremantle
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