Saturday, 25 April 2015

Cover Love - Rivers of London

SO I think by now everyone knows how much I love a good cover...I get drawn in and the really good one stick with me. They're fantastic pieces of art, and I've said on numerous occasions how I would like to have them up on my wall art art prints (and one day I will actually do this with a number of books)

I also (like any reader) love a good map (indeed I'm sure I saw someone with a #mapporn the other - as it should be) because maps are cool! They give life to the book, make it a more real place than it already is, and have you scratching your head when the ordinate survey map and the map in your books don't actually correlate so that the port of the Shattered sea, isn't actually up a hill in the Cotswolds! (face palm moment)

Sooooooooooooooooooooo how excited would I be if the two were combined!....Oh, what? Someone's already done this? YES THEY HAVE...may I present the BEAU-tiful covers for the books in the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch, which is this years CityReads London book, for today's COVER LOVE POST!!!!!!!

The covers in this series are based upon The Island by Stephen Walter, which if you haven't seen it (check it out here) is a AMAZING drawing that combines elements of cartography, drawings and words to create something that's sooooo full of detail (I could nearly see my 'endz' on the Rivers of London cover, but they were just out of reach of the frame) that the full scale thing is quite impressive!!! I can only think to the amount of time and dedication it took!

I also love the hand drawn nature to them, and how the drawings bring the map to life, especially with each little trailing connection to the plot of the novel, which I know has been added, but feels like its an extension of the map and the story from just the cover.

Then you've got the cool font and the red's that flow so well into the map and make me think of blood and rivers all at the same the big slosh where the crime 'just happens' to be centered, it all just fits so perfectly, and not only that but reflects the jovial yet serious nature that I find plays out in the books! 

The way that Stephen works is also fantastic, described in this piece in the Guardian:

"I think of my maps as palimpsests – documents that have been written and erased and rewritten, with traces of previous versions blending in with newer versions. I'm interested in these different layers of meaning. From a distance my works can look like medieval manuscripts, but looking closer at them reveals words, symbols, marks and other elements that are very contemporary.
I work from top left to bottom right, repeating this process four or five times. Firstly, I draw the main infrastructure of the geographical area – roads, borders, bridges and railways. And then I add the written information in small segments.
I like the friction of graphite on paper. The contact with the surface is very important. There is the issue of smudging, but I get over that by really digging in with the pencil. It's a very basic and economical medium, uncomplicated by colour, just line and pencil and paper and hard work."

Its hard when looking at these to even pic a favorite, in that there's something I get from each one, i would literally spend hours looking at them! 

If you haven't read this series before...what have you been doing, I cannot recommend them highly enough!! Its a fantastic mix of crime and fantasy set in London, with such string characters that I almost believe it's real! 

Rivers of London, the first in the series is also this years CityReads London book. Cityread London promotes the key ideas of reading for pleasure, engaging new library users, enhancing the experience of existing readers, and encouraging people to explore and celebrate London’s culture, landscape and history. They've been running a fantastic interactive experience based on the books, and Ben have been visiting a library in every London borough (and still is), the fun of which you can check out over on his blog here 

 Until we meet again....

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Friday, 24 April 2015

Alice's Adventures Underground Review

So this year celebrates the 150th Anniversary of the publication of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, and what better way to celebrate than taking you're on trip down the rabbit hole! Alices' Adventures Underground is a truly immersive experience, breaking down the story of Alice and putting it back together in a fantastic way! Developed by Les Enfants Terribles and Emma Brünjes Productions and adapted by Oliver Lansley and Anthony Spargo you get to step into Alices shoes and decide for yourself :

EAT ME of DRINK ME - which will you choose?

SO you know how I like to rave about book covers that I like, this will be something like that BUT TIMES A THOUSAND - BECAUSE THIS SET! OH ME OH MY!

I love an immersive experience, I think books transition so well into dramatic performances and this is times'd by a hundred when you actually recreate a world and put people right in the middle of it! We've all watched the Disney version, and if you haven't what rock are you living under, and wondered what it would be like to find yourself in wonderland. I'm not afraid to say I was skeptical going into this. I hadn't known what to expect and I've seen a range of different immersive shows and I was trying to go in without preconceptions. And then everything I went in worried about was blown out of the park....You go into a room, and your adventure begins, we heard the trains rumbling overhead and the lights flickered in strange coincidence. There were books everywhere so that's always a good start, and the amount of detail that went into everything in that fist room gave me a very good feeling. 

And Lo! Here is Alice, but not Alice like you'll remember and to get to her you'll have to take a journey through wonderland, deciding whether to eat me or drink me that sets you on a predetermined course, through a 90 minute rollercoater of a ride! 

I, as the picture above suggests decided to DRINK ME, maybe it was subliminal messaging from the beginning, and let me just say (in a very controlled way):

The costumes were FANTASTIC
The sets were AMAZING
The story was EXACTLY as I remembered it, but made personal!

Years ago I sent my friend a fun edited edition of ALice where we could be characters in the story...BUT NOW I WAS! I even had the Red queen accuse me of stealing her tarts! 

Oh how I could wax on all day about how cool the sets were, and I can only Imagine the time, effort and dedication that's gone into it! There was a great mix of Digital, puppetry and actual set that really built the story well! And they weren't your traditional, classical sets, but were aided by the setting of The Vaults which added a gritty level of underground nature...because well we were underground. They were also so different in their vibes, each one carefully thought out and recreated from the Caterpillars lair, to Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dee's room to the mad hatter's tea party, it felt like you were in Wonderland..but one like you've not been to before! 

I also loved the level of interaction with the characters, the White Rabbit was cool, guiding you in his jittery way we've all come to know and love, and the playing cards were friendly...well unless you were of a lower card (how rude!). The Mad Hatter's tea party was, well..mad, the March Hair a particular highlight, with her slinky Hollywood glamour nature, and carrot cigar. It was also quite a personal experience, with the initial groups broken down and down again so that it was more intimate, and the characters got you really involved ( I added a LOT of pepper to someone's soup for the Duchess and the Cook, I think she took quite a liking to me)

The only problem I had was that it wasn't longer and so I want to go back and experience it all again!!
There will also be some great discussions looking at the various influences Alice has had on us. On Monday nights The Wonderland Sessions will host a variety of companies and speakers to present a multi-art exploration of Alice as a cultural institution. There's a great one this Monday April 27th, 'The Story of Alice' which discuss the book of the same name (published by vintage) which looks to be a very interesting read. Check out the full schedule HERE.

If you do ONE thing this this summer GO AND SEE THIS SHOW, it's been extended until August so there's no excuse! We'll also be interviewing one of the designers, who worked on the production so #watchthisspace for that!

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Thursday, 23 April 2015

ST Georges Day (and there will be DRAGONS)

Happy St Georges Day everyone... As is it today (or was at the time of posting, and is whatever day you are now reading it on!), I thought I would do a little post on some of my favourite English authors! It's been quite an interesting experience putting this together as you'll see below! Also because it wouldn't be St Georges Day without...I've listed some of my Favourite fictional dragons!!! 

So on with the show! As I was wondering about the series I read growing up, and thinking about my reading habits now, I realized I read a LOT of fiction by British Authors, which quite frankly is great (YAY for #UKYA and #UKMG) and as I was looking at the list I was gathering of some of my favorites I realised a large amount of them were male. This isn't to say that I never read any female authors, because I have fond memories of reading authors like Anne Fine and Ally Kennen, but the ones that have stuck with me the most were the male authors...and they still continue to do so, especially with a lot of the new authors I'm reading (James Dawson anyone!!). I am finding though that more and more recently I have a plethora of female authors to choose from, with great works by authors such as Eve Ainsworth, Mel Salisbury and I've even been tempted by Laura Doctrill's mermaids...This might be because I'm more aware of the variety of different books than when I was younger, and I'm meeting more and more people who also love reading and who give me some great suggestions all he time and this makes me excited for what's to come in my reading life!

Some of my author highlights include:

- Jonathan Stroud and the Bartimaeus cycle, which is a series I still LOVE. The mix of magic and realism in London with the fantastic whit make it an exciting read and something I want to go back to! I remember being drawn in by the cover and then hooked on the book. Even now I've move on to the Lockwood series, I'm excited for it and I want to get more people excited in them! Allll of them!

- Philip Pullman and His Dark Materials, is a series I know resonates still with a LOT of us, especially if the #HDMreadalong is to go by...and on page and on stage these books continue it resonate and influence people and that's amazing, I've loved having being able to go back and re-experience them again and remember why I loved them to begin with...Bring on the Book of Dust!!

Mark Haddon - I've said it many a time, and I will continue to say it The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is one of my top books ever and has stuck with me over the years since I first read it, popping up in strange ways in my life and I make sure I give it to everyone to read. SO if you haven't READ IT. 

Lewis  Carroll - This is possibly one of the most appropriate as we're in #Alice150 this year, which is crazy to think about! Alice's adventures in Wonderland, and Alice through the looking glass, are fantastic examples of surrealism and escapism. He created such a fantastic world that has lived on and will continue to do so, and then Disney gave it further life...actually now I want to go and watch the Disney film, excuse me for a minute I'm late for a very important date....

Anthony Horowitz - I Loved the Alex Rider series growing up. I used to read a lot of fantasy but this was something that packed a punch, something I enjoyed, something different. Everyone wanted to be Alex lets not lie! I loved how the series grew as I was growing, and I thin it's paved the way for a lot of the Young Bond and Cherub books, that has really resonated with readers (both boys and girls)...

J.K Rowling, needs no introduction, and quite frankly no explanation. We all know what she did for us and what she still continues to do with every word she has or will write... and not least, for me, because of this moment (which probably makes sense to no one aha) :

Neil Gaiman - Has a fantastic way of drawing people in whether in his adults novels, which is where I started or right down through his teen books to MG and picture books. I love that I haven't read all his work yet, its like a little present that you know you still have to come! I started off with American Gods this big book that contained so much with such vivid satirical images, and then Neverwhere in contrast was a lot shorter, but both still pack a punch in completely different ways!

Ben Galley - I've talked a lot about the writers that I loved growing up, but I also feel it's important to highlight the now and one of my favorite writes currently is Ben whose Emaneska series, gripped me in ways I didn't expect it to. It just keep getting better to, and I've waxed on about Bloodrush a lot too but that because these are just great books that I think not enough people are aware of and should be!!

Terry Pratchett - Again a man who needs no introduction. Terry Pratchett created something so unique, and so special that words are almost not enough for it. His work is timeless, mainly because I'm not sure how time and watches and all the gibberjabber actually work on Discworld, but rest assured people will KNOW (and that's DEATHS seal of approval). With such am amazing array of character, each so deep there so much to have and to come from this! Also check out the #terrypratchettblogtour to get a feel for all the different kind of Pratchett and take a look at some of the covers here

And this is just me so I wanted to share this about a bit so I reached out on Twitter and here's what people had to say:

Rhys @FictionThirst William Nicholson, who has written some fantastic fantasy-dystopian-post-apocalyptic series set in dry, desolate landscapes. Elizabeth Wein, for her stunning historical fiction dominated by female aviators; unusual AND revelatory. Philip Reeve; brilliantly high-concept sci-fi with a touch of steampunk; Mortal Engines is the very definition of epic (should also be noted that Here Lies Arthur is a superb, under-appreciated and unknown retelling of the Arthurian legend - We agree!!)
Beth @Booklverx: Terry Pratchett!
@BookPforLife said: Sarah Alderson, Suzanne Wright. =)
Samina @EscapismFantastic : J.K Rowling of course (of course indeed!)
@ChouettBlog said her current favourite was: Angela Marsons
Cleo Bannister @cloe_bannister said: Peter James, Barbara Vine and Paula Daly

What I loved about getting all these in was that there was such a variety in what we're all reading and enjoying which is fantastic...Oh and I mentioned something about dragons right?!

Dragons, dragons we all love a dragon (that is of course heavily presumptuous!) But what would St Georges Day be without one so I wanted to look at some of my favorite dragons I've encountered over my reading journeys.

The Ice Dragon - This Dragon comes from the short story by George R R Martin and was great because of the fairy-tale nature of the story and the way in which the dragon would only come out when the winters made it so. The drawings that accompanied it were amazing and it was a really sweet story you should all check out. 

Norbert - actually all the dragons in HP because they we're all fantastic and feisty and fire-y, and I felt really sad for the blind dragon in HP7 and we all wanted our own dragon egg to watch our own Norbert grow!! 

The Invisible Library - I nearly gave a spoiler when writing this, so I've now managed not too... I really liked the way the dragons were created in this book, the sense of human to them, yet when they were unleashed it was a whole new understanding of what it mean to be a dragon as it were...that might mean nothing to anyone so pick the books up and let me know what you think..because I have many thoughts on it 

The Written - This is included, becccccause in the Graphic Novel of this book I got to be a dragon rider! The Dragons are you familiar kind, but the connections that they have iwth their riders is beautiful and the graphic novel brings them to life in such colour!!

Smaug - Whether you're of the Cumberbatch variety or of the more traditional sort, we couldn't exactly have a post on dragons without Smaug now could we! 

Eragon - Ohhh Saphira, we loved you, and I still do. This was one of my favorite books when I was younger, and the fact that the dragons were rare in this book made it even more precious...and oooh the heart stones! 

Oh and commendable shout outs to: The Dragon in Shrek! (You go girl!) and The Crocodile who was afraid of Water! 

I would love to hear you favorite English authors you favorite dragons or anything you just want to tell me! 

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