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.

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