Chicago Cool

The Crusader's Bride, a medieval romance by Claire DelacroixI made a very quick trip to Chicago this past weekend, to sign copies of The Crusader’s Bride at BookCon on Saturday. I signed in the RWA booth and, as usual, they were very organized and helpful. I was disappointed that the show floor had changed after BookExpo America closed on Friday night, and particularly that the librarians’ booth was gone on Saturday, but still met quite a few librarians. The books went quickly, which was fun.

I also had a little bit of time to walk the show floor and talk to some peeps. The good people from BookBub were there, as were those from Draft2Digital and Kobo Writing Life. I made some discoveries on the show floor – as well as picking up a few books. I was traveling light so I exercised some restraint. I have three new Georgette Heyer editions—because I haven’t read these three titles—a copy of Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses (an incompetent acquisition on my part. It’s not her first book, but I do like the cover. At least it’s the first book in her newer series.) and an advance reading copy of The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron. There were a couple of other titles that intrigued me, but either I was too lazy to line up for the signings or the publishers were selling copies, instead of giving them away. I think that goes against the spirit of BookCon, so declined to help them with that.

And there were some interesting vendors.

Paint by StickerPaint by Sticker
These books include line drawings of images – this upcoming one is of paintings – with coloured stickers to stick on the image. It reminded me of paint-by-numbers, but with stickers, it’s a lot less messy. They had the Girl with the Pearl Earring from the cover on the wall, and people were filling it in.

At first glimpse, these people sell t-shirts with images rendered in tones of grey. But no – the images are drawn with words. In fact, the images are created with the text of specific books, and the image is chosen to convey the book. Here’s a selection of their t-shirts. Slide your mouse over each one to see the other side. I’m not sure how the books have been chosen – they’re not all in the public domain, so maybe they’re licensed or commissioned – but they’re really cool shirts.

Litographs also makes literary temporary tattoos, and they were applying them for free at BookCon. I bought a pack of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and one of Sherlock Holmes. On the website, they show them individually, so maybe these packs of six are new. It wasn’t possible for me to leave a temporary tattoo that says “Twas brillig and the slithy toves” behind, much less “I never guess”.

Blue Star Coloring Books
I liked the variety of the coloring books offered by this company. (Their website is fun, too. Drag your mouse over the header and it will be coloured in. 🙂 Ha!) One of the neat features they offer through their website is a monthly subscription for those who like to colour. I also liked the way that they feature their artists so prominently.

Claude Monet Cliff Walk at Pourville in the Art Institute of Chicago's collectionArt Institute of Chicago
In addition to attending BookCon, I also went to the Art Institute, primarily to see their collection of Impressionist paintings. The galleries didn’t disappoint – the paintings were marvelous! They had Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, which – as is so often the case – was a much larger work than I’d expected.

My favourite discovery was Claude Monet’s Cliff Walk at Pourville. I don’t recall having seen this work before, and it is lovely.

I also visited the Thorne Miniature Rooms and was enchanted. There are sixty-eight miniature rooms on display, each meticulously crafted by Mrs. James Ward Thorne. The scale is an inch to a foot, and the detail is incredible. I really enjoyed that you can see the room but there are also glimpses and hints of a world beyond the room. The lighting may come from beyond the open windows, for example, and you can catch a glimpse of a balcony and garden beyond. I bought the book on this collection to have a closer look.

The Crusader's Handfast: Part Six by Claire DelacroixTwo more things resulted from this trip, one bad and one good. The bad news is that I wore my Aeolian shawl for the first time, and snagged it twice. 😦 One snag is just a pull that can be worked back, but in the other, the wool snapped. I shoved it into a bag before it could unravel and shed beads, but have to sit down and figure out how to fix it.

The good news is that I figured out where I’ve gone wrong with the last installment of Duncan and Radegunde’s story, The Crusader’s Handfast: Part Six. I’ve been stuck for a while, which always means I’ve taken a wrong turn. While walking through the galleries of paintings, I found the solution. I have pages of notes of how to straighten out the wrinkle and finish the story, which is a very good thing.

It’s good to be home, even though there’s a lot of catching up to be done!