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Beautiful Books - June 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 June 2014.

Smart by Kim Slater has such a great illustrative cover. When you've read the story, it all fits together with an added depth which I really like. I think if this cover was a poster, I'd really want to own it!


This cover for The Visitors by Simon Sylvester is absolutely lush. I love the use of white space and the sea foam green. It's a cover that really makes me want to read the book!


The beauty of this cover for A Song For Issy Bradley by Carys Bray barley needs any explaination. Look at how lovely the textures and colours are. It reminds me of scarves and paper. It's just lovely. I'm also a huge fan of hand drawn fonts and this one is great!


Mr Mercedes by Stephen King arrived with fanfare and the cover did it justice. The red and blue colour scheme is really effective and the largely white background is something a bit different from previous King covers. Me like!


My wildcard this month is The Incomplete Book Of Dragons by Cressida Cowell - The sketchy quality and bold colours plus DRAGON makes this cover amazing. Once again, there's a great use of negative space too. Blue seems to be a string theme for June!

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The One with Mia

Hello! Today I'd like to welcome Mia to Mab is Mab! Mia blogs at My Literary Jam (And Toast) and you can find her on Twitter @miahayson

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


The One you always recommend:

When people ask me to recommend books I often panic, shake my head, drag them to my bookcases and tell them to pick a book and we can plan some kind of young adult reading schedule based on their tastes because there are just so many books! That said, A History of Love by Nicole Krauss is one I think everyone should read. It has incredible prose, and is as touching as it is sweet.

 
The One that was a gift:

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson was gifted to me by Tahereh Mafi and it is one of the greatest gifts I've ever been given I say gift, I won it in a giveaway. Regardless of how I got it, The Sky is Everywhere tore me apart and put me back together in the prose within its pages. It is beautiful, and funny, and heartbreaking. It was a book I never knew I needed until I did, and now I don't think I could live in a world without it.


The One that got away:

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E Emith is a book I have heard great things about but just have not gotten around to reading! I am definitely going to read it -- I have been circling it for months now -- but it may take a while to get around to it because first I should really finish the pile beside my bed.

The One that makes you cry:

I mean, I cry a lot. I am drawn to books that make me cry. But, I suppose the book that made me cry first was The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman. There's been some chat on the internet by that one person who thinks YA books are too satisfying in their prose, and they never address difficult problems. I don't think that person has ever read The Amber Spyglass. It's as sad as it is sweet, and whenever I read it a part of me is taken back to my younger self reading it for the first time and realising that sometimes there is no solution that will make you happy, only a solution that you can live with.

The One that still haunts you:

There are some books you pick up meaning only to check the bookplate and maybe sniff a few pages only to accidentally look up hours later and realise you've devoured the entire book, that was Pantomine by Laura Lam for me. I love the atmosphere and the world building, and the characters. I love the words, the prose, and the way I tumbled into a world I never knew I cared about until I cared too much. I was enthralled by R.H. Ragona's Circus of Magic and enchanted until the very last page. I'm still enchanted now.

It also happens to have fab characters if you are a fan of the #weneeddiversebooks movement.

The One you always go back to:

Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series (or Abhorsen in the US) are three books to I find myself coming back to again and again.They're effortless fantasy, with incredible characters and originality. I adore them.

I was stunned when I found out another book was being released September after I had very slowly come to terms with the fact I may never read new words in the series. I absolutely cannot wait for Clariel. It is all I can think about!


Thanks Mia! I couldn't agree more about The Amber Spyglass - a wonderful book bringing to light some very adult themes!






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Guest post: BOOKS ABOUT BOOKS by Kelly of Paper Obsessed

Hi everyone, today I would like to welcome the lovely Kelly from Paper Obsessed to the blog - shes taking you on a journey of books, through books!


I have always been known as the book girl. In primary school I was the one reading Stephen King and Virginia Andrews in Year 5 and at University I was the one who spent her student loan on books rather than wine. I adore all books but I have a particular thing for books about books and I eagerly look for new ones to add to my collection (a bit like my weird obsession with end of the world films but that is a whole other blog post!). I can’t quite put my finger on why it is. It could be because I really just love anything book related so books about books are a must. It might also be that it is a way to get insight into other people’s book passions and some recommendations thrown in there too. It makes me realise I am NOT THE ONLY ONE. When I discovered the wonderful world of book blogging it was exactly the same feeling. I would love to share with you some of my favourite books about books. It was really hard choosing a top list and it changes regularly. But as of June 2014 I adore;

- Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman. This is a gorgeous volume of essays about books, reading and collecting. It it one I revisit often and appears regularly on book blogs.

- The Library Book by various. This is a collection of essays by well known writers that celebrate the amazingness of libraries. Each essay shares something different but personal to the author and it is a reminder of how important our libraries are.

- A Book Addict’s Treasury by Julie Rugg and Lynda Murphy. A fun and quirky collection that is described as being for anyone ‘who has ever smelled a book before reading it.’ Guilty! The collection contains quotes from a wide variety of people. It is divided into chapters such as Booknesting, Buying Books and Settling Down to Read and has a quote to suit every book related occasion. A great book to dip into!

- Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch. I have to confess I am still reading this book but I had to include it as it is a heart wrenching tale of one woman’s loss of her sister and how she devotes herself to reading a book a day for a year. A powerful story of the healing power of literature.

Have you read any of the above? What did you think of them? Do you have any books about books recommendations? I would love to hear them!

A huuuge thanks to Kelly - don't forget to go and check out her blog!
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The Never List by Koethe Zan - review

“Or is it the case that no one gets over anything? Is there really that much pain and suffering continuing right now at this minute, in millions of hearts, in bodies carrying on the burden of existence, trying to smile through tears for fleeting, passing moments here and there-when they can forget what happened to them, maybe even for whole hours at a time? Maybe that's what it is to live.”   

Title: The Never List
Author: Koethe Zan

Publisher: Vintage
Source: Purchased paperback
Available: Now
Buy it: Here

Synopsis

Sarah and Jennifer are best friends. After a car accident when they are young, they start keeping The Never List; everything they should never do, in order to keep themselves out of danger. What starts as fun soon becomes and obsession, though, and as the girls reach University, they are frightful and wary. That is until one day they break their own rule: Never Get Into The Car. Ten years later, Sarah is trying to work out where her best friend is...

Review

I found The Never List to be a quick and exciting page turner that would make a great holiday read for fans of crime thrillers. The book had just enough darkness to keep it intriguing but never stepped over the line into horror territory, that keeps it at the "light read" end of the genre spectrum! I actually really enjoyed the fact that this was so, as I'm finding a lot of books in the crime thriller genre are trying to graphically out-do each other. It was nice to just sit back and enjoy a twisted tale again!

The characters of the taken girls were really well developed for such a fast paced read. You really felt their differences, and where their strengths and weaknesses lay. The psychological aspect of their experience was often sporadic though - in some ways it was very well considered, and at other times I felt it didn't go deep enough. Flashbacks always kept just shy of any hard-hitting fact to explain the extent of some of the longer lasting mental effects.

This leads me to the only frustrating thing about The Never List; The lack of detail given to the reader about "the box". I really expected a revelation of it's use, manipulation and purpose at the denouement of this novel, but it was all just kind of forgotten. Considering the opening page of the book gives such a nod towards it's presence, I was really expecting something!

That said, it was but a slight disappointment in an otherwise great read. It's not a calculated novel in the sense of Gone Girl but comparisons in reference to it's atmosphere and style are well deserved. I'll be recommending The Never List to friends.

Overall

The Never List is a fast paced and thrilling novel, extremely dark in parts and hopeful in others. I feel some of the darker elements of the plot were left unexplored, which gave the ending a bit less punch than it could have had, but overall a great read for fans of dark thrillers.

Score 
★★★
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Guest post: A WEASLEY FAMILY HOLIDAY by Mily of The YA Nightstand

I'm currently on holiday, but I have some lovely guest posts in my absence! First up is the wonderful Mily from The YA Nightstand, who is all kinds of amazing with this post! I asked her
"Which character wold you most like to go on holiday with?"...


A WEASLEY FAMILY HOLIDAY
INVASION OF THE GINGER’SBy Mily


So I’m packing my bags and heading off on my holiday’s with some of my favorite fictional characters. Well, not literally… I’m not that insane, but for all intense and purposes that’s what happening. And without a shadow of a doubt the characters I’d go on holiday with would be the Weasley’s. It would be a manic, unorganized, ginger adventure and I wouldn’t want to spend my summer with anyone else!

Okay so there would probably be a couple of hiccups, for instance Molly would get all flustered when Mr. W insisted that we take Muggle transport. After all why would she want to spend twelve hours sat in between Fred and George when they could all just apperate themselves across the globe? And I’m sure that once we got wherever it is we were heading there will be a couple of arguments – mainly over who gets what room – but after we’ve settled in I think it would be awesome! On the condition that we didn’t need to send any post… Errol’s not too great with directions.

But they’re only tiny winy little things that ALL families go through. Once we get settled we’ll go sight seeing. Arthur will have his Muggle camera at the ready and Harry on stand by for when he can’t figure out how to use it… yes Harry’s there! Although I wouldn’t see him much because him and Ginny would be getting busy behind the pyramids!

The twins would be causing international chaos with their inappropriate and elaborate practical jokes. The Muggles in Argentina didn’t appreciate the sudden snowstorm they created in July! But I really wanted to build a snowman.

Then there’s Percy who will look like he’s been sucking on lemons but to be honest, when doesn’t he?

Bill and Charlie even spot by for a couple of days when we pass through Italy! We will be one big, dysfunctional happy family!! Well we would have been if Ron hadn’t left after Peru to go on holiday in the Lake District with Hermione and her folks.

But that doesn’t matter because do you want to hear the best part? When we stay in Paris – because we’re travelling the WHOLE globe if you hadn’t already noticed – George and I will get a little closer and he’ll realize I’m the love of his life and we need to have cute little freckled ginger babies together!

As you can imagine, a holiday with this lot would be insane and I’m just scraping the surface of what would happen as we take on the world. I couldn’t possibly go into every adventure we would have because there just isn’t time! What I do have though is some holiday snaps. Enjoy!!




Thank you SO much to Mily - such a fun post! Check back in a couple of days time when Kelly from Paper Obsessed will be discussing "books in books"!

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The One - new feature and sign up!

Hello! You may have noticed that I'm introducing some new series and features on the blog lately? Well, here's one I'd love you to get involved in! Many of us are grasping for the newest next-big-thing as bloggers and book lovers, but I know many of us cling to that one special book that will always be "the one we recommend", "the one we turn to" and "the one that will always be with us".

So, I want to know, which books have been "the one" for you?! If you would like to be featured in future posts in this series, please share your stories on the sign-up form here. I can't wait to see the books you choose!

To kick things off, here is my own submission for "The One"!

The One you always recommend:

The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I truly believe that no matter what genre you read, this book has something for you - murder, mystery, love, romance, comedy, tragedy, lyricism, travel, war, family... I could go on! It's one of my all time favourite books and one I try to push onto everyone haha.

The One that was a gift:

Second Glance by Jodi Picoult was given to me by a friend when she left the UK. I hadn't known her very long, but her pick was perfect, and had such a lovely inscription in the front. I'll treasure it forever!

The One that got away:

I bet even the most avid reader doesn't have the time to read everything! Being on a review schedule also means I have to let some amazing books pass me by. I have never read a Rainbow Rowell novel, for example, but I plan to rectify that on holiday next week, where I'm going to try and catch up on a good few of the titles I've "missed" this year! First up will be Eleanor and Park.


The One that makes you cry:

The Bridges of Madison County by James Waller. Every time. It's heartbreaking!

The One that still haunts you:

The Troop by Nick Cutter. If you haven't read it, I really don't know whether you should haha! Scenes from that book have not left my head since they entered my imagination. I'm traumatised! *shudder*

The One you always go back to:

It has to be the Harry Potter series for me. They're such comfort reads! The just take me back to some great years in my life. I always turn to them for an easy read between tougher books.




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We Were Liars by E. Lockhart - review

“She confused being spartan with being charitable, and gave away her possessions without truly doing good with them.
She confused being sick with being brave, and suffered agonies while imagining she merited praise for it.
She confused wit with intelligence, and made people laugh rather than lightening their hearts or making them think.”


Title: We Were Liars
Author: E. Lockhart

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

Synopsis

A group of privileged teenagers meet every summer on their family's private island, each of them carry the burdens of their parents' expectation, the judgement of others, and their own personal tragedies. Things are different this year for Cadence, though. The previous year ended in mystery, hospitals and amnesia - and with the help of her cousins and the boy she is forbidden to love, she tries to piece Summer Fifteen together.

Review

So general consensus on We Were Liars is "don't talk about We Were Liars"! What's a blogger to do?! Well, I'm going to talk about it, because its a book that deserves to be discussed - or else how will anyone know of its merits?! Plus, when I give a book 5 stars, I really really want to talk about it! Ha! Don't worry though, no spoilers ahead :)

So, what I really wanted to tell you about We Were Liars is how much I enjoyed the process of reading it! E Lockhart does something I think is quite brave - she writes in a very poetic style, employing repetition, half haikus, metaphor, allegory and much more into the head space of a troubled teen. In every sense this should not work. But oh, it does! It very much reminded me of a Donna Tartt-esque atmosphere; claustrophobic, aloof and lyrical.

I was whisked away by the language, finding it beautiful, haunting and introspective. We Were Liars is a dark tale of mystery and privilege and the sense of not-as-you'd-expect narrative fit perfectly. I'm sure there are quotes aplenty, and many character quirks soon to be adopted by fans (sentences over hands, anyone?!)

That said, the story behind We Were Liars felt a little bit weak in comparison to the grandeur with which it is written. This is not a negative though, I must point out. The story is well enough, but I wanted to be bowled over by substance as well as style and found it just shy of "OMG-AMAZING".

If you are looking for something a bit different in the field of YA, I cannot recommend We Were Liars enough to you. Take a chance and go with it, and I'm sure you will find it a rewarding experience.

Overall

We Were Liars is a book that captivated me from the start with its wonderful and experimental writing style that gave it uniqueness and character. However, it won't be for everyone due to this very reason. I did feel that the style itself carried a story that in parts was quite weak, but this was a minor blip in an otherwise brave and intriguing novel.


Score 
★★★
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Prisoner Of Night And Fog by Anne Blankman - review

In profile, she saw things about his features she hadn't noticed before: the straightness of his nose, the full shape of his lips, the sharp point of his chin. Why couldn't he appear the way he was supposed to? The human shape of his face, the human smell of him-all combined to make it difficult to remember he was a subhuman.

Title: Prisoner of Night and Fog
Author: Anne Blankman

Publisher: Headline
Source: ARC from publisher
Available: Now
Buy it: Here

Synopsis

Gretchen is the poster-girl for the National Party - blonde, tall and one of Hitler's favourite companions. However, as the circumstances surrounding her father's martyred death take on a new understanding as hidden details come to light, Gretchen finds herself questioning what Hitler really means when he talks. The only place she will find the answers, is in the company of a Jew...

Review

There is no denying that Prisoner of Night and Fog is a well researched and intriguing novel - the imagined insight into Hitler's life, pre-war, is both morbidly fascinating and very humanly portrayed within the novel. However, beyond my initial intrigue, I found I had to will myself to the end of the book.

It isn't that the book is badly written - the language was rich and the characters were really well developed. I just felt that the novel's plot was missing that "hook" that would drive me through. The mystery surrounding Gretchen's father was only ever interesting. It was never urgent, or pressingly important, to me as the reader.

I did, however, really enjoy the psychoanalysis elements of Prisoner of Night and Fog - and almost wish that this formed more of an integral storyline. The doctor Gretchen meets was one of the more alluring presences in the book and I wish I had read more of him. Perhaps, though, this is saved for the second book. Prisoner of Night and Fog is the first in an upcoming series.

I would be very interested to read further in this series, but I think I would read it as something in the background of another book - more as a history book than as a thriller.

Overall

Prisoner of Night and Fog is a great fictional insight into Hitler's rise to power, giving a unique imagining of his social- and family life. It does, however, suffer from a lack of pacing and urgency, that made it very easy to put the book down.


Score 
★★★

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