Monday, September 25, 2017

Tuesday Tomorrow

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
Published by: Imprint
Publication Date: September 26th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 288 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times-bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Enter the Grishaverse...

Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid's voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy's bidding but only for a terrible price.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, the tales in The Language of Thorns will transport you to lands both familiar and strange―to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, each of them lavishly illustrated and culminating in stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves."

The second book Bardugo has out in as many months and the one I'm REALLY looking forward to, Grishaverse!

The Wonderling by Mira Bartók
Published by: Candlewick
Publication Date: September 26th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 464 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In this extraordinary debut novel with its deft nod to Dickensian heroes and rogues, Mira Bartók tells the story of Arthur, a shy, fox-like foundling with only one ear and a desperate desire to belong, as he seeks his destiny.

Have you been unexpectedly burdened by a recently orphaned or unclaimed creature? Worry not! We have just the solution for you!

Welcome to the Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures, an institution run by evil Miss Carbunkle, a cunning villainess who believes her terrified young charges exist only to serve and suffer. Part animal and part human, the groundlings toil in classroom and factory, forbidden to enjoy anything regular children have, most particularly singing and music. For the Wonderling, an innocent-hearted, one-eared, fox-like eleven-year-old with only a number rather than a proper name — a 13 etched on a medallion around his neck — it is the only home he has ever known. But unexpected courage leads him to acquire the loyalty of a young bird groundling named Trinket, who gives the Home’s loneliest inhabitant two incredible gifts: a real name — Arthur, like the good king in the old stories — and a best friend. Using Trinket’s ingenious invention, the pair escape over the wall and embark on an adventure that will take them out into the wider world and ultimately down the path of sweet Arthur’s true destiny. Richly imagined, with shimmering language, steampunk motifs, and gripping, magical plot twists, this high adventure fantasy is the debut novel of award-winning memoirist Mira Bartók and has already been put into development for a major motion picture."

Foxen! Dickensian Foxen!?! Even better!

The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell
Published by: Profile Books Ltd
Publication Date: September 26th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown - Scotland's largest second-hand bookshop. It contains 100,000 books, spread over a mile of shelving, with twisting corridors and roaring fires, and all set in a beautiful, rural town by the edge of the sea. A book-lover's paradise? Well, almost ... In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff, who include the ski-suit-wearing, bin-foraging Nicky. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books (both lost classics and new discoveries), introduces us to the thrill of the unexpected find, and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life, always with a sharp and sympathetic eye."

That cover is just as inviting as a good book on a cold day!

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King
Published by: Scribner
Publication Date: September 26th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 720 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In this spectacular father/son collaboration, Stephen King and Owen King tell the highest of high-stakes stories: what might happen if women disappeared from the world of men?

In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep: they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent. And while they sleep they go to another place, a better place, where harmony prevails and conflict is rare.

One woman, the mysterious “Eve Black,” is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Eve a medical anomaly to be studied? Or is she a demon who must be slain? Abandoned, left to their increasingly primal urges, the men divide into warring factions, some wanting to kill Eve, some to save her. Others exploit the chaos to wreak their own vengeance on new enemies. All turn to violence in a suddenly all-male world.

Set in a small Appalachian town whose primary employer is a women’s prison, Sleeping Beauties is a wildly provocative, gloriously dramatic father-son collaboration that feels particularly urgent and relevant today."

So this could go really well or really bad... should be interesting either way.

Sleep Like a Baby by Charlaine Harris
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: September 26th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 272 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In Sleep Like a Baby, the latest installment of the #1 New York Times Bestselling Charlaine Harris’s Aurora Teagarden series, Robin and Aurora have finally begun their adventure in parenting. With newborn Sophie proving to be quite a handful, Roe’s mother pays for a partially trained nurse, Virginia Mitchell, to come help the new parents for a few weeks. Virginia proves to be especially helpful when Robin has to leave town for work and Roe is struck with a bad case of the flu.

One particularly stormy night, Roe wakes to hear her daughter crying and Virginia nowhere to be found. Roe's brother Philip helps her search the house and they happen upon a body outside… but it isn’t Virginia’s. Now, not only does she have a newborn to care for and a vulnerable new marriage to nurture, Roe also has to contend with a new puzzle -- who is this mystery woman dead in their backyard, and what happened to Virginia? This heart-pounding and exciting next installment of the Aurora Teagarden series will leave fans happy and hungry for more."

It's always a good day when there's a new Charlaine Harris book!

The Hunt by Chloe Neill
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: September 26th, 2017
Format: Paperback, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From the New York Times bestselling author of the Chicagoland Vampires Novels—the hunter becomes the hunted in a New Orleans devastated by a Paranormal war....

When bounty hunter Liam Quinn discovered that Claire Connolly was a Sensitive and infected with magic, he should have turned her in to be locked up in the prison district known as Devil’s Isle. Instead, he helped her learn to control her power and introduced her to an underground group of Paranormals and humans who know the truth about the war and those who fought it.

Now the weight of Liam’s own secrets has forced him into hiding. When a government agent is killed and Claire discovers that Liam is the prime suspect, she races to find him before the government can. But she’ll discover proving his innocence is no simple matter. Their enemies are drawing closer, and time is running out...."

Lost meets Urban Fantasy! Sign me up!

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Magicians

If you follow my goodreads feed you sometimes glean things that aren't readily apparent here on my blog. You might guess what I'm planning in the coming months, or you might, for example go "how the hell does she like The Magicians when she hated the book so much that she hasn't even bothered to write a scorching review because she probably views it as a waste of time." FYI I do view it as a waste of time. Well, this is one of those rare instances where an adaptation is so much better than the source material that it's best to forget that source exists. Although I will give a tip of the hat to how clever the showrunners are in circling around and sneaking in something from the books when you least expect it. Though they have a way of making it work where Lev Grossman didn't. Because, for those who've read the books, there's no denying that the protagonist Quentin Coldwater with his Fillory obsession is a bit of a wet blanket. He's mopey and just best avoided, hence here comes Elliot and Margo to the rescue. Secondary characters elevated to a bitchy king and queen of Fillory? Oh. My. God. Yes. Please. They not only add levity to the show, they seriously make the show what it is. Watch how much more screentime they get in season two compared to season one and you'll know what I'm talking about. And THAT is what I love most about The Magicians, they see areas where they need to improve and actually improve! This is the "dark/adult Harry Potter" I expected when I picked up the book series. This is what fantasy television is about!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Emerald City

Emerald City is, in my mind, the most successful adaptation of the Oz mythos in years, yeah, suck it Wicked and that movie with Zach Braff! Yet NBC never really knew what to do with this new Oz that was Steampunk and political and self-referential, heck, in one episode Vincent D'Onofrio played some Pink Floyd! So they just exiled it to a lingering death on Friday nights except for those few viewers, like me, who waited every week to see what new twist would happen. This had the grandeur of the old Merlin adaptation NBC did back in the day with Cersei Lannister as Quinevere or The 10th Kingdom, both epic fantasy but with classic appeal. In fact, there's no doubt in my mind that once people find this show on DVD or streaming it will become a favorite like these other two standards. But what's more by actually exploring the plotlines from the second Oz book, The Marvelous Land of Oz, wherein the Princess Ozma is hidden within the body of a boy, Tip, the show was able to cover far more currently relevant issues of gender identity than when the book was first published in 1904. Seriously, nothing was wrong with this series other than it probably cost NBC too much to make with the luscious sets and amazing locations. This show made me feel for the first time in years a desire to go back and immerse myself in the lore of Oz but also to figure out this new mythology. Emerald City inspired the reader and the watcher in me, but more importantly the storyteller, and I just wish I was getting one more chapter.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Tuesday Tomorrow

Murder, Magic and What We Wore by Kelly Jones
Published by: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 19th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The year is 1818, the city is London, and 16-year-old Annis Whitworth has just learned that her father is dead and all his money is missing. And so, of course, she decides to become a spy.

Annis always suspected that her father was himself a spy, and following in his footsteps to unmask his killer makes perfect sense. Alas, it does not make sense to England’s current spymasters—not even when Annis reveals that she has the rare magical ability to sew glamours: garments that can disguise the wearer completely.

Well, if the spies are too pigheaded to take on a young woman of quality, then Annis will take them on. And so she crafts a new double life for herself. Miss Annis Whitworth will appear to live a quiet life in a country cottage with her aunt, and Annis-in-disguise as Madame Martine, glamour artist, will open a magical dressmaking shop. That way she can earn a living, maintain her social standing, and, in her spare time, follow the coded clues her father left behind and unmask his killer.

It can’t be any harder than navigating the London social season, can it?"

A new Regency Magic book!?! YAS!

The Good People by Hannah Kent
Published by: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: September 19th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Based on true events in nineteenth century Ireland, Hannah Kent's startling new novel tells the story of three women, drawn together to rescue child from a superstitious community. Nora, bereft after the death of her husband, finds herself alone and caring for her grandson Micheál, who can neither speak nor walk. A handmaid, Mary, arrives to help Nóra just as rumours begin to spread that Micheál is a changeling child who is bringing bad luck to the valley. Determined to banish evil, Nora and Mary enlist the help of Nance, an elderly wanderer who understands the magic of the old ways.

Set in a lost world bound by its own laws, The Good People is Hannah Kent's startling new novel about absolute belief and devoted love. Terrifying, thrilling and moving in equal measure, this follow-up to Burial Rites shows an author at the height of her powers."

I really liked her book Burial Rites so I will gladly give this one a try!

Caroline by Sarah Miller
Published by: William Morrow
Publication Date: September 19th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In this novel authorized by Little House Heritage Trust, Sarah Miller vividly recreates the beauty, hardship, and joys of the frontier in a dazzling work of historical fiction, a captivating story that illuminates one courageous, resilient, and loving pioneer woman as never before--Caroline Ingalls, "Ma" in Laura Ingalls Wilder's beloved Little House books.

In the frigid days of February, 1870, Caroline Ingalls and her family leave the familiar comforts of the Big Woods of Wisconsin and the warm bosom of her family, for a new life in Kansas Indian Territory. Packing what they can carry in their wagon, Caroline, her husband Charles, and their little girls, Mary and Laura, head west to settle in a beautiful, unpredictable land full of promise and peril.

The pioneer life is a hard one, especially for a pregnant woman with no friends or kin to turn to for comfort or help. The burden of work must be shouldered alone, sickness tended without the aid of doctors, and babies birthed without the accustomed hands of mothers or sisters. But Caroline's new world is also full of tender joys. In adapting to this strange new place and transforming a rough log house built by Charles' hands into a home, Caroline must draw on untapped wells of strength she does not know she possesses.

For more than eighty years, generations of readers have been enchanted by the adventures of the American frontier's most famous child, Laura Ingalls Wilder, in the Little House books. Now, that familiar story is retold in this captivating tale of family, fidelity, hardship, love, and survival that vividly reimagines our past."

A reinterpretation of the Little House books? Sure, I'll bite. 

A Strange and Scottish Shore by Juliana Gray
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: September 19th, 2017
Format: Paperback, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The acclaimed author of A Most Extraordinary Pursuit brings a dazzling voice and extraordinary plot twists to this captivating Scottish adventure...

Scotland, 1906. A mysterious object discovered inside an ancient castle calls Maximilian Haywood, the new Duke of Olympia, and his fellow researcher Emmeline Truelove north to the remote Orkney Islands. No stranger to the study of anachronisms in archeological digs, Haywood is nevertheless puzzled by the artifact: a suit of clothing that, according to family legend, once belonged to a selkie who rose from the sea and married the castle’s first laird.

But Haywood and Truelove soon realize they’re not the only ones interested in the selkie’s strange hide. When their mutual friend Lord Silverton vanishes in the night from an Edinburgh street, their quest takes a dangerous turn through time, which puts Haywood’s extraordinary talents—and Truelove’s courage—to their most breathtaking test yet."

Scotland? Why not.

Half Past by Victoria Helen Stone
Published by: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: September 19th, 2017
Format: Paperback, 252 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"At forty-five, Hannah Smith is at a crossroads. That’s her spin on it. The reality is she’s divorced, jobless, and moving back to her family home in Iowa to keep an eye on her mother, who’s slipping into dementia. Her return stirs up the same unnerving sense of disconnect Hannah has felt since childhood—always the odd girl out, the loner outshone by her two older sisters. Hannah knew the feelings of hurt would come back. But she never expected fear. Because when her mother looks into her eyes and whispers, “You’re not my daughter,” Hannah is beginning to believe it’s not just the rambling of a confused woman.

It’s the truth.

Now Hannah’s following the trail of a family mystery to the dark coast of Big Sur, where years ago a lie was born—and buried. As frightened as she is to unearth it, Hannah knows this is the last chance she has before her past—and all its terrible secrets—are lost forever."

Sounds a little like Big Little Lies, so I'm in. 

Wicked Deeds by Heather Graham
Published by: MIRA
Publication Date: September 19th, 2017
Format: Paperback, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Eager to start their life together, historian Vickie Preston and Special Agent Griffin Pryce take a detour en route to their new home in Virginia and stop for a visit in Baltimore. But their romantic weekend is interrupted when a popular author is found dead in the basement of an Edgar Allan Poe–themed restaurant. Because of the mysterious circumstances surrounding the corpse, the FBI's Krewe of Hunters paranormal team is invited to investigate. As more bizarre deaths occur, Vickie and Griffin are drawn into a case that has disturbing echoes of Poe's great works, bringing the horrors of his fiction to life.

The restaurant is headquarters to scholars and fans, and any of them could be a merciless killer. Except there's also something reaching out from beyond the grave. The late, great Edgar Allan Poe himself is appearing to Vickie in dreams and visions with cryptic information about the murders. Unless they can uncover whose twisted mind is orchestrating the dramatic re-creations, Vickie and Griffin's future as a couple might never begin..."

Poe? Hells yes!

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Exorcist

What with the classic the movie has become it's understandable that a lot of people often forget that The Exorcist was a novel first by William Peter Blatty. In fact, so many of the classic horror films of the seventies were books first, but today I'm only interested in this one. While I initially said at the beginning of this month that I was only going to talk about shows that started out in book form, this is another one that stretches the boundaries of that definition in that it's a continuation of the story first set on page by Blatty. While I know many people out there, including many of my friends, are still hesitant to embrace this show it had one thing initially that had me interested, Ben Daniels, whom if you don't love him from season two of The Paradise I literally don't know what's to be done with you. Alan Ruck was just a wonderful surprise. At first you don't realize that this is actually connected to the original story, instead it's just a family suffering from a possession and the old wise priest and the young inexperienced priest are called in to help. But then things get complicated, there's a plot against the Pope by demonic forces and humans aligned with the demons, and if you don't love that poster announcing the Pope coming to Chicago like he's Elvis, again, what is to be done with you? But if you wait for the payoff as to who Genna Davis is, yes, she's not JUST a hardworking suburban housewife, well, it's so worth it. In fact, despite everyone thinking this show was going to be cancelled, it seems there were enough people like me singing it's praises in a properly sanctified church to get it a second season pickup. Might I suggest that an exorcist see you this Halloween season? 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Riverdale

Right about now you're probably thinking that she can't be serious including the dark reinterpretation of the Archie comics on her "must watch" list from the last year's television viewing? Oh yes I am. Deadly serious! Like when Jason Blossom's body washed ashore serious. Firstly, as a kid I loved reading the Archie comics, and yes, when I heard they were making Riverdale I was skeptical. In fact I didn't even watch it when it aired on the CW, instead, during a dark and trying weekend I really needed an escape and Riverdale was on Netflix and I binged it. I binged it hard and I loved every minute of it. It quite literally got me through each day knowing that at the end of it I could watch it. From eighties teen icons being the parents to me finally actually feeling something other than loathing for Veronica, I was shocked how much I enjoyed it. The show had a very specific target it was aiming for, trying to make Riverdale land somewhere between Veronica Mars and Twin Peaks and it hit the mark. It also didn't hurt that Betty's mom was played by Twin Peaks alum Mädchen Amick. There's a murder to be solved, there are shady dealings, gangs, and Jughead Jones becomes a Holden Caulfield for a new generation. Though once you realize that yes, that IS Skeet Ulrich as Jughead's dad you may start to feel a little old. I can't wait until it returns and I can tune into even more deadly teen drama with secret pregnancies, liaisons with teachers, and some kick ass music by Josie and the Pussycats. Just leave your high school hangups at the door of Pop's and grab a shake, just watch out for Archie's dad bleeding to death on the floor.  

Monday, September 11, 2017

Tuesday Tomorrow

Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor
Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 12th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 256 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In this stand-alone companion to the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke and Bone series comes the story of Mik and Zuzana's fantastical first date--as a gorgeously illustrated gift edition with bonus content included.

Petite though she may be, Zuzana is not known for timidity. Her best friend, Karou, calls her "rabid fairy," her "voodoo eyes" are said to freeze blood, and even her older brother fears her wrath. But when it comes to the simple matter of talking to Mik, or "Violin Boy," her courage deserts her. Now, enough is enough. Zuzana is determined to make the first move, and she has a fistful of magic and a plan. It's a wonderfully elaborate treasure hunt of a plan that will take Mik all over Prague on a cold winter's night before leading him to the treasure: herself! Violin Boy is not going to know what hit him.

New York Times bestselling author Laini Taylor brings to life a night only hinted at in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy--the magical first date of fan-favorites Zuzana and Mik. Originally published as an ebook, this new print edition will include breathtaking black and white illustrations, plus bonus content in a gorgeous package perfect for new and current fans of the series."

I loved this story when it was first released on Kindle and spent what would have been a bad Thanksgiving hiding in it's pages. Now I can't wait to have a copy with actual pages!

Odd and True by Cat Winters
Published by: Amulet Books
Publication Date: September 12th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio.

In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all."

Sounds interesting and makes me want to give this author another chance.

The Girl Who Takes An Eye For An Eye by David Lagercrantz
Published by: Knopf
Publication Date: September 12th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo, the brilliant hacker, the obstinate outsider, the volatile seeker of justice for herself and others—even she has never been able to uncover the most telling facts of her traumatic childhood, the secrets that might finally, fully explain her to herself. Now, when she sees a chance to uncover them once and for all, she enlists the help of Mikael Blomkvist, the editor of the muckraking, investigative journal Millennium. And she will let nothing stop her—not the Islamists she enrages by rescuing a young woman from their brutality; not the prison gang leader who passes a death sentence on her; not the deadly reach of her long-lost twin sister, Camilla; and not the people who will do anything to keep buried knowledge of a sinister pseudoscientific experiment known only as The Registry. Once again, Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist, together, are the fierce heart of a thrilling full-tilt novel that takes on some of the most insidious problems facing the world at this very moment."

Let's keep flogging a dead horse OK?

Death at the Seaside by Frances Brody
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: September 12th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Frances Brody returns with an intricate, absorbing plot while capturing the atmosphere and language of 1920s England in the eighth book of her cozy mystery series.

Nothing ever happens in August, and tenacious sleuth Kate Shackleton deserves a break.

Heading off for a long-overdue holiday to Whitby, she visits her school friend Alma who works as a fortune teller there. Kate had been looking forward to a relaxing seaside sojourn, but upon arrival discovers that Alma's daughter Felicity has disappeared, leaving her mother a note and the pawn ticket for their only asset: a watch-guard.

What makes this more intriguing is the jeweler who advanced Felicity the thirty shillings is Jack Phillips, Alma's current gentleman friend.

Kate can't help but become involved, and goes to the jeweller's shop to get some answers. When she makes a horrifying discovery in the back room, it becomes clear that her services are needed. Met by a wall of silence by town officials, keen to maintain Whitby's idyllic façade, it's up to Kate - ably assisted by Jim Sykes and Mrs Sugden - to discover the truth behind Felicity's disappearance.

And they say nothing happens in August..."

An August by the seaside? Yes please! Set in the 1920s, even more yas! 

A Secret Garden by Katie Fforde
Published by: Bookouture
Publication Date: September 12th, 2017
Format: Kindle, 386 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Step inside this beautiful novel to discover friendships, secrets and romance...

When Philly starts a new job, working with Lorna in the gorgeous grounds of a beautiful manor house, it marks a turning point in both of their lives.

Philly has never been in love before and is constantly disappointing her mother with her unwillingness to settle down. But all that changes when she meets Lucien, a free spirit with an intriguing past...

Lorna is learning to embrace life on her own, until dashing Jack sweeps her off her feet in a whirlwind romance. But is this what Lorna really wants?

When the two women discover a secret garden in the manor house grounds, they are encouraged to restore its forgotten beauty in time for an unforgettable end of summer party. As they work together, secrets are revealed and relationships tested. Will they both find the happy endings they are looking for?

Set against a stunning backdrop, this utterly charming and romantic story is certain to make you smile. Perfect for fans of Susan Mallery, Mary Kay Andrews and Debbie Macomber."

I really like Katie Fforde, and let's be honest, any secret garden will be better than the classic one which I hate. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Endeavour

By including Endevour I'm kind of bending the rules as to book adaptations. But seriously, I couldn't leave off a show of such brilliant acting and atmosphere even if it's really a prequel to an adaptation. Endeavour follows the career of a young Inspector Morse, who was created by the wonderful Colin Dexter and brought to life by John Thaw for over twenty years starting in the late eighties. Inspector Morse was so loved and so iconic that a sequel centering on his second in command, Robbie Lewis, soon came about and after nine stellar seasons the only logical solution to fill this Morse sized hole in the viewing schedule was a prequel, until the inevitable Hathaway spinoff that is! What makes Endeavour so wonderful, aside from the casting, the music, the scripts, the locations, the little references for die hard fans, is that it's a period piece! It's almost like someone looked into my head and saw that by combining my love of period drama and my love of Inspector Morse it could result in the perfect show. Set in Oxford during the sixties the golden hues on the screen just call back to a more innocent time that was simultaneously in upheaval. And while many people will rightly point to Roger Allam's portrayal of Fred Thursday, Morse's boss, as the star, I say look to the subtle performance of Shaun Evans as the titular character, he is the glue that keeps it all together.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Midnight, Texas

Midnight, Texas is one of those shows that qualify as cheesy fun. Based on the trilogy of the same name by Charlaine Harris it's halfway between True Blood and Grimm, so don't go in expecting Emmy worthy acting, it's pure summer fun in the spirit of the first few seasons of Under the Dome. With David Solomon, veteran of the Whedonverse producing and directing you know that at least it will handle the more supernatural elements correctly, am I sensing a hellmouth? Centering on a small town in Texas where the veil protecting the earth from hell is fraying, aka a hellmouth, the denizens are every kind of "other" from witches to angels to vampires to bounty hunters to talking cats. The show is seen through the eyes of Manfred Bernardo, a psychic and a character Charlaine Harris first introduced in her wonderful Harper Connelly series. While some may complain that Manfred isn't what they pictured or that Creek should just go and die already or that all three books are happening simultaneously, I say so what? No adaptation is perfect but within the first episode I just felt it, they had gotten it right. There may be little things I'd fix, mainly there not being nearly enough Mr. Snuggly because every show needs more talking cats, but even if this isn't how I pictured things when Fiji first spoke, I knew I was going to like it. This was a show for me.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Tuesday Tomorrow

The Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire
Published by: DAW
Publication Date: September 5th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Things are slow, and October “Toby” Daye couldn’t be happier about that. The elf-shot cure has been approved, Arden Windermere is settling into her position as Queen in the Mists, and Toby doesn’t have anything demanding her attention except for wedding planning and spending time with her family.

Maybe she should have realized that it was too good to last.

When Toby’s mother, Amandine, appears on her doorstep with a demand for help, refusing her seems like the right thing to do…until Amandine starts taking hostages, and everything changes. Now Toby doesn’t have a choice about whether or not she does as her mother asks. Not with Jazz and Tybalt’s lives hanging in the balance. But who could possibly help her find a pureblood she’s never met, one who’s been missing for over a hundred years?

Enter Simon Torquill, elf-shot enemy turned awakened, uneasy ally. Together, the two of them must try to solve one of the greatest mysteries in the Mists: what happened to Amandine’s oldest daughter, August, who disappeared in 1906.

This is one missing person case Toby can’t afford to get wrong."

Eleven books in a October Daye is going hardcover! Not that there was any doubt that Seanan wasn't "making it."

White Trash Zombie Unchained by Diana Rowland
Published by: DAW
Publication Date: September 5th, 2017
Format: Paperback, 368 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Angel Crawford has finally pulled herself together (literally!) after her disastrous dismemberment on Mardi Gras. She’s putting the pieces of her life back in order and is ready to tackle whatever the future holds.

Too bad the future is a nasty bitch. There’s a new kind of zombie in town: mindless shamblers, infectious and ravenous.

With the threat of a full-blown shambler pandemic looming, and a loved one stricken, Angel and the “real” zombies scramble to find a cure. Yet when Angel uncovers the true reason the plague is spreading so quickly, she adds “no-holds-barred revenge” to her to-do list.

Angel is busting her ass dealing with shambling hordes, zombie gators, government jerks, and way too many mosquitos, but this white trash chick ain’t giving up.

Good thing, since the fate of the world is resting on her undead shoulders."

Yeah, I like me some zombies!

Glow by Megan Bryant
Published by: Albert Whitman and Company
Publication Date: September 5th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 272 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"When thrift-store aficionado Julie discovers a series of antique paintings with hidden glowing images that are only visible in the dark, she wants to learn more about the artist. In her search, she uncovers a century-old romance and the haunting true story of the Radium Girls, young women who used radioactive paint to make the world's first glow-in-the-dark products—and ultimately became radioactive themselves. As Julie’s obsession with the paintings mounts, truths about the Radium Girls—and her own complicated relationships—are revealed. But will she uncover the truth about the luminous paintings before putting herself and everyone she loves at risk?"

Come on, art history and adventure!?! Yes!

The Princess in Black and the Mysterious Playdate by Shannon and Dean Hale
Published by: Candlewick
Publication Date: September 5th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 96 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Noseholes and elephants! A pet-eating monster interrupts a perfect playdate with Princess Sneezewort . . . but who is that new masked avenger?

Princess Magnolia and Princess Sneezewort have plans . . . mysterious plans, like a princess playdate! They dress-up slam! They karaoke jam! They playhouse romp and snack-time stomp! But then a shout from outside Princess Sneezewort's castle interrupts their fun. It’s a monster trying to eat someone’s kitty! This is a job for the Princess in Black. Yet when the Princess in Black gets there, she finds only a masked stranger and no monster in sight . . . or is there? Action and humor abound in this ode to friendship that proves that when shape-shifting monsters intrude on your plans, two heroes are better than one."

New book by Shannon Hale? It's time to party!

12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep
Published by: Shiloh Run Press
Publication Date: September 5th, 2017
Format: Paperback, 192 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A mysterious invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home may bring danger...and love?

England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of five hundred pounds.

But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, Benjamin Lane.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters.

What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

Pour a cup of tea and settle in for Book 1 of the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series--a page-turning Victorian-era holiday tale--by Michelle Griep, a reader and critic favorite."

A manor house? Christmas? Charles Dickens? This is on my TBR pile come December.

The Essence of Malice by Ashley Weaver
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: September 5th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"“For pity’s sake, darling, let me finish my coffee before you begin concocting schemes.”

When Amory Ames’s husband Milo receives a troubling letter from his childhood nanny, Madame Nanette, the couple travel to Paris where they become embroiled in a mystery surrounding the death of a famous parfumier. Helios Belanger died suddenly, shortly before the release of his new, highly anticipated perfume, and Madame Nanette, who works for his family, is convinced that her employer’s death was not due to natural causes.

The more Amory and Milo look into the motives of industry rivals and the Belanger heirs who are vying for control of his perfume empire, the more they are convinced that Madame Nanette may be right. When secrets unfold and things take a dangerous turn, Amory and Milo must work quickly to uncover the essence of the matter and catch a killer before the scent goes cold."

And cozy fun of a different sort...

The Property of Lies by Marjorie Eccles
Published by: Severn House Publishers
Publication Date: September 5th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 240 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"DI Herbert Reardon is drawn into a world of secrets and lies when a body is discovered at a girls’ boarding school.

1930. When a body is discovered on the premises of the newly-established Maxstead Court School for Girls, Detective Inspector Herbert Reardon is called in to investigate. His wife Ellen having just accepted a job as French teacher, Reardon is alarmed to find the school a hotbed of scandalous secrets, suppressed passions, petty jealousies and wanton schoolgirl cruelty. As he pursues his enquiries, it becomes clear that the dead woman was not who – or what – she claimed to be. Who was she really – and why is Reardon convinced that more than one member of staff is not telling him the whole truth?

Then a pupil goes missing – and the case takes a disturbing new twist..."

Sounds like some Christie-esque fun!

The Last Weekend by Laura DiSilverio
Published by: Midnight Ink
Publication Date: September 5th, 2017
Format: Paperback, 312 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A terrible accident. A killer among friends.

A woman risking everything for answers.

Every year for a decade, five college friends spent a weekend together at the atmospheric Chateau du Cygne Noir. Then, tragedy struck.

Ten years later, Laurel Muir returns to the castle for the first time since the accident, hoping to reconnect with her friends and lay the past to rest. When a murderer attacks, it rips open old wounds and forces the women to admit there’s a killer in their midst. The remaining friends make a pact to unearth the truth, but suspicion, doubt, and old secrets threaten to tear them apart. Unsure who to trust, Laurel puts herself in harm’s way, risking it all for friendship and long-delayed justice."

YAS! Old secrets, a new murder! I'm so easily sold on certain books. 

The Seagull by Ann Cleeves
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: September 5th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 416 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A visit to her local prison brings DI Vera Stanhope face to face with an old enemy: former detective superintendent, and now inmate, John Brace. Brace was convicted of corruption and involvement in the death of a gamekeeper – and Vera played a key part in his downfall.

Now, Brace promises Vera information about the disappearance of Robbie Marshall, a notorious wheeler-dealer who disappeared in the mid-nineties, if she will look out for his daughter and grandchildren. He tells her that Marshall is dead, and that his body is buried close to St Mary’s Island in Whitley Bay. However, when a search team investigates, officers find not one skeleton, but two.

This cold case case takes Vera back in time, and very close to home, as Brace and Marshall, along with a mysterious stranger known only as ‘the Prof’, were close friends of Hector, her father. Together, they were the 'Gang of Four’, regulars at a glamorous nightclub called The Seagull. Hector had been one of the last people to see Marshall alive. As the past begins to collide dangerously with the present, Vera confronts her prejudices and unwanted memories to dig out the truth...

The Seagull is a searing new novel by Sunday Times bestselling author Ann Cleeves, about corruption deep in the heart of a community, and fragile, and fracturing, family relationships."

A Vera, I've missed ya!

The Golden House by Salman Rushdie
Published by: Random House
Publication Date: September 5th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A modern American epic set against the panorama of contemporary politics and culture—a hurtling, page-turning mystery that is equal parts The Great Gatsby and The Bonfire of the Vanities.

On the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration, an enigmatic billionaire from foreign shores takes up residence in the architectural jewel of “the Gardens,” a cloistered community in New York’s Greenwich Village. The neighborhood is a bubble within a bubble, and the residents are immediately intrigued by the eccentric newcomer and his family. Along with his improbable name, untraceable accent, and unmistakable whiff of danger, Nero Golden has brought along his three adult sons: agoraphobic, alcoholic Petya, a brilliant recluse with a tortured mind; Apu, the flamboyant artist, sexually and spiritually omnivorous, famous on twenty blocks; and D, at twenty-two the baby of the family, harboring an explosive secret even from himself. There is no mother, no wife; at least not until Vasilisa, a sleek Russian expat, snags the septuagenarian Nero, becoming the queen to his king—a queen in want of an heir.

Our guide to the Goldens’ world is their neighbor René, an ambitious young filmmaker. Researching a movie about the Goldens, he ingratiates himself into their household. Seduced by their mystique, he is inevitably implicated in their quarrels, their infidelities, and, indeed, their crimes. Meanwhile, like a bad joke, a certain comic-book villain embarks upon a crass presidential run that turns New York upside-down.

Set against the strange and exuberant backdrop of current American culture and politics, The Golden House also marks Salman Rushdie’s triumphant and exciting return to realism. The result is a modern epic of love and terrorism, loss and reinvention—a powerful, timely story told with the daring and panache that make Salman Rushdie a force of light in our dark new age."

If it's anything like the book it's compared to, well, new classic? 

Friday, September 1, 2017

And the Emmy Goes To...

Fall. The time of year when thoughts turn to the new TV season while also lauding the past year's work. While I love award shows and the Emmys are certainly a favorite, especially in a year when Stephen Colbert is hosting, it also makes me sad because my favorite shows are considered "genre" television so no matter how amazing the acting or the writing they just never get their plaudits just because they may have vampires. So I decided, I'm going to change that right here, right now. No, I'm not rigging the votes or casting my own statues, but I am going to pick my favorite shows that aired over the last year that just happen to have started out in book form and convince you to give them a chance! Be it science fiction, graphic novels, horror, some of my favorite shows got their start on my bookshelves. So let's hear it for Oz and Fillory and Midnight, Texas, and all the places in between that the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences looks down on. Let's hear it for the underdogs, the Ross Poldarks of the world! Here's to who the Emmy should be going to...

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Jane Austen Skateboard AKA The Darcy Deck

While looking for ideas as to what to make for the Jane Austen crafting exchange for the bicentenary of Pride and Prejudice I had with Miss Jessica my eye wandered to this skateboard deck I had had for many years. You might at this time be asking why I had a random skateboard deck just in my office, well, I'll tell you how that came about. A handful of years earlier when I had just started as the secretary of Madison College's Art Club the board thought it would be fun to have a screen printing workshop run by an acquaintance of the club's president. One of his specialties was doing skateboard decks and he offered to sell anyone who wanted one a deck at cost. I couldn't come up with a reason not to get a deck because there were so many interesting designs I saw people doing and I thought it would be fun. It became a fixture in my office that often fell on my foot, usually when I wasn't wearing shoes and as time moved on, more and more of an annoyance that was just taking up space. But then when the crafting exchange came about I knew that the time had comes to use this deck.

One of the first things I remember about Miss Jessica when I met her was that she was a skater. There was a time when I visited her in New York and she was getting back into it and I actually went shopping with her for a new helmet at this way trendy store in Times Square. Why it took this crafting exchange for me to connect my blank deck with a present for her is beyond me. Originally I had this idea of just having her favorite Austen quote done up in fancy hand-lettering that a friend and fellow Madison College student was doing for me but in the end, what with the squareness of the workable area, I decided to go for a more graphic old time advertisement approach similar to a design I had submitted to Madison's Frosty Dog Jog a few years earlier. I already had many of the icons I ended up using from doing The Jane Austen Centre brochure redesign for a class assignment. What I added was not just a story of Jane's life, but many of the recurring jokes that Miss Jessica and I over the years shared about Jane Austen and the various adaptations her work had spawned. This finished design has such jokes as Mr. Hurst's nickname being Fatty Fat Buckle. Seriously, just watch how he "sits" on a couch in the 1995 miniseries and you'll understand why. As for the "Dancing" and "British" you must shout the former when they say it on screen and the latter when a particularly British male dancer appears! The key is usually their teeth.

Originally I was going to do this all by wood burning, and even bought a nifty wood burning kit. The thing is I had never actually done any wood burning up to this point and I was on a tight deadline as I was seeing Miss Jessica in a few weeks and I really didn't have time to master it. Because, to say that my first attempt was dreadful is an understatement. I quickly saw there would be no way to maintain the thin lines and the delicacy of the type. What was interesting though is that the process for transferring the design onto the wood actually looked really good. You print an inversion of your design and then get it photocopied. The key is that it has to be a photocopy because it needs the static and the heat set on the paper which you will then transfer onto the board using the wood burning kit you have not bought in vain. And this looked really cool. Of course because of the wood burning snafu I had had to sand some sections and this distressing that resulted looked even cooler. Therefore I decided to just go with it, distressing some sections, emphasizing others. And yes, I did add gesso. Because, if you haven't guessed by now gesso is one of my most favorite things in the world and can literally be used for and on anything. After the gesso had dried I then sealed the deck and now it hangs proudly on Miss Jessica's wall, showcasing her love of Austen and her love of skateboarding. Two things that you'd think would cancel each other out but just make her that much cooler. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Tuesday Tomorrow

The Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors by Curtis Craddock
Published by: Tor Books
Publication Date: August 29th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 416 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A delightful and engrossing fantasy debut featuring an intelligent heroine and her guardian, a royal musketeer.

In a world of soaring continents and bottomless skies, where a burgeoning new science lifts skyships into the cloud-strewn heights, and ancient blood-borne sorceries cling to a fading glory, Princess Isabelle des Zephyrs is about to be married to a man she has barely heard of, the second son of a dying king in an empire collapsing into civil war.

Born without the sorcery that is her birthright but with a perspicacious intellect, Isabelle believes her marriage will stave off disastrous conflict and bring her opportunity and influence. But the last two women betrothed to this prince were murdered, and a sorcerer-assassin is bent on making Isabelle the third. Aided and defended by her loyal musketeer, Jean-Claude, Isabelle plunges into a great maze of prophecy, intrigue, and betrayal, where everyone wears masks of glamour and lies. Step by dangerous step, she unravels the lies of her enemies and discovers a truth more perilous than any deception."

Anyone else thinking this sounds so weird it has to be awesome?

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
Published by: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 29th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The highly anticipated, entirely new coming-of-age story for the world's greatest super hero: WONDER WOMAN by the # 1 New York Times bestselling author LEIGH BARDUGO.

She will become one of the world's greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning...

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn't know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war."

I don't know which aspect I'm more excited about, that this book is about Wonder Woman or that it's written by Leigh Bardugo...

The Dazzling Heights by Katherine McGee
Published by: HarperCollins
Publication Date: August 29th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 432 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel The Thousandth Floor.

New York, 2118. Manhattan is home to a thousand-story supertower, a breathtaking marvel that touches the sky. But amidst high-tech luxury and futuristic glamour, five teenagers are keeping dangerous secrets…

LEDA is haunted by memories of what happened on the worst night of her life. She’ll do anything to make sure the truth stays hidden—even if it means trusting her enemy.

WATT just wants to put everything behind him…until Leda forces him to start hacking again. Will he do what it takes to be free of her for good?

When RYLIN wins a scholarship to an upper-floor school, her life transforms overnight. But being there means seeing the boy whose heart she broke, and who broke hers in return.

AVERY is tormented by her love for the one person in the world she can never have. She’s desperate to be with him… no matter the cost.

And then there’s CALLIOPE, the mysterious, bohemian beauty who arrives in New York, determined to cause a stir. And she knows exactly where to begin.

But unbeknownst to them all, someone is watching their every move, someone with revenge in mind. And in a world of such dazzling heights, just one wrong step can mean a devastating fall.

The sumptuous second book in the bestselling Thousandth Floor series has all the drama, romance and hidden secrets that landed the first book in this series at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list."

The masochist in me says bring this on. Why masochist? Because I am SO afraid of heights! 

Glass Houses by Louise Penny
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: August 29th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"When a mysterious figure appears in Three Pines one cold November day, Armand Gamache and the rest of the villagers are at first curious. Then wary. Through rain and sleet, the figure stands unmoving, staring ahead.

From the moment its shadow falls over the village, Gamache, now Chief Superintendent of the Sûreté du Québec, suspects the creature has deep roots and a dark purpose. Yet he does nothing. What can he do? Only watch and wait. And hope his mounting fears are not realized.

But when the figure vanishes overnight and a body is discovered, it falls to Gamache to discover if a debt has been paid or levied.

Months later, on a steamy July day as the trial for the accused begins in Montréal, Chief Superintendent Gamache continues to struggle with actions he set in motion that bitter November, from which there is no going back. More than the accused is on trial. Gamache’s own conscience is standing in judgment.

In her latest utterly gripping book, number-one New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny shatters the conventions of the crime novel to explore what Gandhi called the court of conscience. A court that supersedes all others."

Anyone else thinking that Tree Pines is starting to rival Midsomer County as a haven for criminals and death? 

Further Associates of Sherlock Holmes edited by George Mann
Published by: Titan Books
Publication Date: August 29th, 2017
Format: Paperback, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Once again, famous associates of the Great Detective – clients, colleagues and, of course, villains – tell their own stories in this collection of brand-new adventures. Meet Lucy Hebron years after Holmes’s only ever failed deduction; follow your nose down the streets of London with Toby the Dog; join Mrs Hudson on her first ever case; greet an ambassador from Mars alongside Lord Holdhurst; and confess your sins to your cellmate, Professor James Moriarty…"

Yeah George! Also yeah to Stuart Douglas, and all other writers I love in this collection!

Victoria and Abdul by Shrabni Basu
Published by: Vintage
Publication Date: August 29th, 2017
Format: Paperback, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Soon to be a Major Motion Picture starring Dame Judi Dench from director Stephen Frears, releasing September 22, 2017.

Tall and handsome Abdul was just twenty-four years old when he arrived in England from Agra to wait at tables for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. Within a year, Abdul had grown to become a powerful figure at court, the Queen's teacher, or Munshi, her counsel on Urdu and Indian affairs, and a friend close to the Queen's heart. "I am so very fond of him.," Queen Victoria would write in 1888, "He is so good and gentle and understanding....a real comfort to me."

This marked the beginning of the most scandalous decade in Queen Victoria's long reign. Devastated first by the death of Prince Albert in 1861 and then her personal servant John Brown in 1883, Queen Victoria quickly found joy in an intense and controversial relationship with her Munshi, who traveled everywhere with her, cooked her curries and cultivated her understanding of the Indian sub-continent—a region, as Empress of India, she was long intrigued by but could never visit. The royal household roiled with resentment, but their devotion grew in defiance of all expectation and the societal pressures of their time and class and lasted until the Queen's death on January 22, 1901.

Drawn from never-before-seen first-hand documents that had been closely guarded secrets for a century, Shrabani Basu's Victoria and Abdul is a remarkable history of the last years of the 19th century in English court, an unforgettable view onto the passions of an aging Queen, and a fascinating portrayal of how a young Indian Muslim came to play a central role at the heart of the British Empire."

Firstly I was clued into this by Judi Dench on Graham Norton, then I saw the preview with Eddie Izzard, now I can't wait for the movie OR the book!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Jane Austen Centre Interactive Brochure

What's interesting about certain projects is what do you do when you're asked to take them further. I remember in undergrad I hated going back and having to re-conceptualize The Cherry Orchard yet again, this time for film instead of stage. Yet I think that was just my underlying hated of that Chekhov play. In fact I think it might be a hatred of Chekhov overall, stupid Three Sisters. But taking something I loved working on to the next level? Well, that's a fun challenge. Here I had to take my paper brochure and repurpose the content as an interactive pdf. Like a "brochure" you could download and watch from the Jane Austen Centre's website. Yes, I had to embrace the digital age while thinking of Austen! I was also required to add new photographic imagery that would be sourced from Getty Images, one that would be rights managed and one that would be royalty free so that I'd learn how to purchase and use the different kinds of stock imagery. But the one thing I was certain of when taking my brochure to the next level was that I still wanted to maintain that special feeling of reading a letter.

Therefore the opening shot was setting the scene of the Regency corespondent. Ink bottles, wax seals, letters, quills, and don't tell anyone that book on the left is actually Cranford. It's our secret OK? This tableaux I created from what I had lying about my office, and yes I'm so OCD that the wax seal is the letter 'A.' While you're not getting the animation here with my static imagery I can easily walk you through it, because the animation is almost secondary to the design and information, just a little something something for fun. If you compare this photo to the one above you'll notice there's now a letter unopened on the desk! It actually flies in from the upper right and lands on the desk and you click on it to turn it over and open it.

And at the click of a button the letter opens and if you're not one of those people who constantly leave their speakers off you will be surrounded by the theme music by Carl Davis to the 1995 miniseries adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. This was to get you in the Regency mood. Because seriously, what fan of Austen can hear that music and NOT get excited? In fact even though my DVD set has the option to watch all the episodes strung together as one I still prefer to watch them as they were originally broadcast and then distributed on VHS with the theme music playing every hour! 

Once past the desk space the design becomes more utilitarian. There's a hyperlink on the lower left to the centre's website and in the lower right a 'previous' and a 'next' button. I still maintain the language of correspondence with the cordial invitation, but again, this is a far more straightforward design. The large section in the center is actually the centre's welcome video which I embedded in the design but which can also be viewed on their website for the curious.

The next few pages are just the information from the previous paper brochure in a new format with added imagery. What I had the most fun with though was the little hidden gems. When you role over the icon of Jane she gets a little speech bubble quoting the opening line of Pride and Prejudice, and yes, it was spoken too! The teacup had the sound of tea being poured. On the following pages the reticule icon had coins jingling and the teapot whistled as it came to a boil, and yes, I know it's a decorative kettle, but it was fun. As for the umbrella icon? That open and closed with the sound of rain. Yes, I fully admit to being a design dork. But I embrace it heartily.

Again this design all came down to the map. Here I could do so much more now that it was interactive! In fact I started to call this my interactive masterpiece because I took Jane Austen sightseeing in Bath to a whole new level! Not only can you click on a dot and bring up facts you can click them all on or off as well as turning the highways on and off to highlight just one route. The details, the facts, the facets, everything about Jane's life and her novels as they are in Bath. The only thing that makes me sad is that between going from CS5.5 to CS6 Adobe really did away with all their interactive content, and they're even now phasing out Flash, which is good in the long run, but that means I can't really view this project anymore as the technology has changed. Therefore it's more a project in memory. Which kind of brings me around to the fact that while this was the culmination of this brochure project it's the first iteration that will have longevity. Technology changes, but paper and ink? Well, they stand the test of time as Austen herself would attest.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Jane Austen Centre Brochure

I am a brochure hoarder. Anywhere I go I grab one. The problem is what to do with them later? What's their purpose? They just take up space and yet you don't want to part with them. Unless they have a  place in a photo album or have a secondary function they are a waste of space and right now I'm all about downsizing. Therefore a brochure redesign is like a dream project for me. Because I can take it to the next level, making it functional and collectible. Though this assignment for school had two requirements, I had to use all the existing text in a current brochure while also using an interesting and unique fold. So I worked backwards. Whose brochure would I love to redesign and the answer quickly came to me, obviously The Jane Austen Centre in Bath. The next question was, what kind of fold? Well, for anyone like me who spends way too much time watching Jane Austen adaptations they covet getting a letter like Austen's characters, getting to crack the seal and unfold the paper. Therefore the fold became obvious, I would use a typical Regency letter fold.

What's unique about this fold is that it's based on one of Jane's own letters, which I scanned in and used as a background, drastically toned down to not interfere with the legibility of any information I needed to convey. While any brochure is functional to an extent I love that this made it a keepsake, like getting a letter from Austen herself. As for that red seal? No, it's not wax, but a faux wax seal sticker which can be purchased in bulk and used to add an air of authenticity. Ironically the seal in the picture is from another fandom I'm a part of. Yes, it's a seal for Hogwarts. Originally I wanted to take the wax seal further and create one in the centre's colors, but then I found out that during Jane Austen's time you could use only red or black wax, so it stayed red. Yes, I'm a stickler for certain things, also, the more you know, right?

The information in the brochure could basically be broken down into five categories: Jane Austen, Touring the Jane Austen Centre, the Gift Shop, the Tea Room, and Jane Austen's Bath. Using the centre's own logo as a starting point, I created four more icons to go with the subsections, a teacup, a reticule, a teapot, and an umbrella. These categories then easily divided the content into the sections that could correspond to the various panels the folds created. When you first open the brochure you get this nice little text area with all the information you could need with the headings set in a font based on Austen's own handwriting. In the smaller sections at the top I placed the valuable information of location, hours, and admission. But for me it was all about the interior of the brochure where I placed the map, where form and function combined in happy symmetry.

The entire interior was turned over to a map I drew in Photoshop with my Wacom. Yes. I drew a map of Bath with all the locations important to Jane Austen's life clearly marked. Why would I draw a map other than being totally OCD and always having a need to take a project to the next level? Because, to me, I find maps the most useful thing a brochure can give you. Therefore I figured I HAD to have a map. And while I haven't been to Bath I feel like I know it now. I drew out all the streets, and looked up all the names, I was not just an armchair traveler but an armchair detective, following Jane's life through the city she loathed. I hope one day to go to Bath, and before you ask, yes, I'm taking my own map. Though I also kind of want to see what would happen if I was left without a map. After this project could I find my way without any help? I have a feeling I could...

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