Kiss of Midnight
kaj77
 Today I finished Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian.  This is the first book in the Midnight Breed series about warrior vampires fighting the evil Master and his rogue vampires.  This book is actually a romance novel involving Gabrielle, a talented photographer, and Lucan, leader of the Boston group of warrior vampires.  Turns out that Gabrielle is actually a Breedmate, and no matter how hard he tries, Lucan can't stay away from her.  No matter how much they both deny it, they finally admit their mutual love and become mates.  This is a pretty good, but fairly standard romance novel. Although the setting is sort of unusual and interesting, it hits all the standard romance novel plot points.

I'll probably read the next book in the series sometime in the next month or so.  I think it involves one  of the other warrior vampires.  I wouldn't doubt if the series takes us through each of them, one by one.

I've also been reading lots of fanfic.  I'm amazed how much good stuff is out there - some of it is very original and very well written.  It's paid for in reviews, so these writers are doing it because they love it.  In the last couple of days a read a few, including:

Into the Mystic by DKMulder:   www.fanfiction.net/s/5600528
Withering the Ferns by AngstGoddess003:  www.fanfiction.net/s/5281881
and a bunch of updates.  They all do a really good job.

Crazy Heart
kaj77
 We saw Crazy Heart last night.  Really good movie - funny, sad, bittersweet, and hopeful all at once.  Jeff Bridges was amazing in it.  I  really hope he wins an Oscar for this performance because he totally owned it!  And Maggie Gyllenhall, Colin Farrell, and Duvall were all really good too.  The music, though, is what made this the movie that it was.  I'm definitely going to get this soundtrack!!

I also read some more fanfic - 22 chapters of TNGUS (that's all there is so far).  Love this ff - cant wait until she updates!

The Superbowl just ended and I'm going to start a new book tonight.

The Gathering
kaj77
I finally finished The Gathering by Anne Enright.  Man, I wish I liked this book.  Or at least appreciated it.  After all, it was the winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2007.  And it sounded good - the back cover blurb says, in part, that this book was a moving, evocative portrait of a large Irish family haunted by the past.  The nine surviving children of the Hegarty clan are gathering in Dublin for the wake of their wayward brother, Liam, who drowned in the sea.  His sister, Veronica, collects the body and keeps the dead man company, guarding the secret she shares with him - something that happened in their childhood.  

This sounds like the kind of book I would enjoy, but I was really disappointed, especially with the first two-thirds of the book.  It's told from Veronica's point of view and skips all over the place from the present, to a few months in the future, to her childhood, and then skips back to what she assumes was her grandmother's youth, and then back again.  Sadly, I didn't find Veronica to be very likable or sympathetic, or even slightly interesting.  She whines a lot, is nasty to her family, and makes her brother's death all about her.  The last third of the book is more interesting and saves the book from total failure.  This is where we finally learn of the secret and also where some of the other characters are finally involved.  Funny thing is Liam is probably the most compelling character in the entire book and he's dead!

All in all, I'd probably skip this book if I had to do it all over again.  I probably could have read three books in the time it took me to dredge through this one.



The Runaways
kaj77

Went to Madison yesterday with Fred to see a special screening of The Runaways movie.  It was part of a special program through the Sundance Film Festival, which is still going on, in which eight films were flown out to theaters in other parts of the country.  Madison got the Runaways, Chicago got Jack Goes Boating, San Fran got Howl, etc.  I think we lucked out because I really wanted to see The Runaways and now I don't have to wait until March.

First of all, although there were some problems with this film, I really, really liked it.  I love this time in music and I loved all the live performances.  Kristen Stewart became Joan Jett, Michael Shannon was mesmerizing as Kim Fowley, and I truly didn't think Dakota Fanning could pull off the role, but I was very pleasantly surprised by her performance.  She had a few weak spots, but all in all did a really good job.  The vocals and attitudes by all was spot on and their performances were riveting.   The direction seemed to be a bit of a problem and I think a different director could have done better, but that's just a personal opinion.

 I think maybe the biggest problem could be solved by changing the name from The Runaways to Neon Angels or something, because it really is not a movie about The Runaways.  Going in with this misconception could be disappointing.  It's actually a movie about Cherie Currie and her family and her friendship with Joan Jett, which takes place around the formation of and first couple of years of The Runaways.  As a result we miss alot of what happens with the band.  The members other than Cherie & Joan are given short shrift, as are much of the band itself.  I personally was disappointed that they never told us how the band was named and that there was no scenes of the early recording sessions.  They showed the girls going on the road to Cleveland and playing a few other dates on the road, and then flashed some press clippings, and then showed them arriving in Japan as big stars.  If Cherie hadn't mentioned it after the movie we would never have known that the first US tour was supposed to last 3 weeks, but that they stayed out on the road for 3 1/2 months, and that after that they did a few months in Europe, which was followed by a few more months on the road in the US, and that all this took place prior to Japan.  Knowing that would have put other aspects of the movie - like Cherie's exhaustion - into perspective.

Interesting Q&A with Cherie Currie after the movie - she was there because the director "couldn't make it."  Um, yeah right.  All in all, it might have worked out for the best.  Cherie was very forthcoming about her feelings for the movie.  She indicated that she was angry at first, because there were some creative liberties taken with her story.  She made it clear that even though it was based on her book, she had no control over the script or anything really.   She was very impressed with the performances by Dakota Fanning, Kristen Stewart, and Michael Shannon, but admitted that her and Joan were "shitting bricks" throughout filming.  She was worried because Floria was a first-time script writer and a first-time feature director.  She also wouldn't say she liked the movie, but did admit it was growing on her a little more every time she saw it.  She also talked a bit what it was like back then, including that Kim Fowley was constantly pitting the girls against each other.  She also said she thought that she believed all the girls wanted her to quit the band, that Lita was scary and intimidating, and that the thing with Joan was just experimentation - they loved each other but were not in love with each other.  When asked about Jackie - she said she was being difficult with rights, as was Lita when asked to participate by Joan.  She was sad when asked about Sandy & said her & Joan fought to have her drumming kept in the movie.  She said Sandy was the one who really wanted the movie to be made.  

All in all, a very enjoyable movie.  I might have to see it again when it's released in March.

The Girl Who Played With Fire
kaj77
 I finished reading The Girl Who Played With Fire yesterday, and now I am ruined.  I've fallen so in love with the characters in the first two books of the Millennium series, that I don't want to read anything else.  So I guess I'm screwed because there is only one more book and it doesn't come out until May.  But I digress - enough of my whining.

The Girl Who Played With Fire is even better than The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.  It focuses on Lisbeth, how she dealt with her internalized love for Blomqvist - she assumed it was unrequited, but Blomqvist is totally in the dark & has no idea how she feels.  Anyway, she travels for about 18 months and becomes enamoured with math & a certain equation.  When she finally returns to Stockholm, she reconnects with some old acquaintances, Mimi, her old employer Armansky, and Palmgren - her old guardian who she thought had died.  She also buys a new apartment, but refuses to see Blomqvist.  An enemy she made in the first book wants her dead and hires someone to kill her.  It sets off a series of events that exposes Lisbeth's past and sets her up as the murderer of 3 people, including 2 of Blomqvist's friends.  He is the only person who believes her to be innocent and is relentless in proving it by finding the real killer.  Along the way a few others start to believe him, but not before there's more casualties.  It all leads to a suspenseful conclusion and skillfully sets up the next book - all kinds of unanswered questions.

The thing that really got me with this book was how skillfully it was written - especially the relationship between the 2 main characters - without having them have any physical contact until the last page of the book.  Despite this, their connection was palpable.  I love how the characters, especially Lisbeth, grow in this book.  She might be my favorite female character ever - she is so interesting and compelling and just plain odd.

I had heard rumors that George Clooney was attached to this project for the film version, and so that's who I pictured when I read the book.  I've since heard Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt are also interested in playing Blomqvist, and while I love JD, I totally think that GC would be perfect.  I also pictured Kristen Stewart as Lisbeth, but I've heard solid no casting rumors for this role (although I guess Natalie Portman and ellen Page are also interested).

Anyway, I really loved this book.  I started The Gathering by Anne Enright last night, but I'm having a hard time getting into it.  I decided to put some distance between the two books with a few fanfic chapters today - hope it works.  I'm taking a long car ride tomorrow afternoon, so I'll give it another go then.  Will be attending a screening of The Runaways in Madison tomorrow night.  The director was supposed to attend, but I heard Cherie Currie will be filling in for her instead.  I'm really looking forward to the movie.


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
kaj77
 I finished The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson today.   I loved this book and would describe it as a mystery/suspense novel.  It took me a little bit to get into it because of the unfamiliar Swedish locations and trying to keep track of the numerous members of the Vanger family, but once I got past this it was a great ride. The writing is tight and it just flows.  The story is interesting and the intertwining plots are intriguing.  But the best part of the book had to be the wonderful characters.  Lisbeth Salander is an anti-social punk genius hacker/ researcher who appears to have had few, if any positive relationships with adults, especially men, during her upbringing.   Mikael Blomqvist is a financial journalist and editor of Millennium, a financial magazine, who was just found guilty at a libel trial.  He takes a leave of absence and accepts a job looking into a cold case.  His path eventually crosses Salander's and he takes her on as a research assistant.  They work well together - he is impressed with her abilities and she finally experiences a man who treats her with trust and respect.  Not only do they solve the mystery, but Salander saves Mikael's life in the process and provides him with information to fight the libel charge.  

Apparently violence toward women is fairly common in Sweden, so while it bothered me that much of that which was in the book was never reported to the police, they explained why it wasn't and therefore made it easier to understand and accept.  The book was also kind of sad.  What struck me as the most moving scene in the book was when, shortly after Lisbeth admits to herself that she is in love with Blomqvist, she sees him out with Berger.  Her broken heart is palpable while Blomqvist is totally oblivious.  My heart broke for her.  Anyway, I loved this book and ran out & bought the next one, The Girl Who Played With Fire, about an hour ago.  I am so sad that Mr. Larsson passed away after writing the third book in this series - I would've like to have read many, many more books with these wonderful characters.

I actually read this book in just a few days.  I was going to start reading it on 1/7, the date of my last post, but I started reading more fanfic which pushed the book back.  I read Wide Awake by Angstgoddess003 which was fucking amazing.  This should really be considered a novel rather than a story.  It was a novel-length, complete.  Although they used the names of established characters, it was totally alternate universe and could easily stand on it's own just by changing the character names.  Anyway, it was awesome.  I also read Faking it by Spanglemaker9.  The was a really sweet and fun fanfic with actors and musicians, and was well written.  Finally, I discovered In_a_blue_bathrobe.  This writer owns me.  She is fuckawsome and writes like no one I've ever read before - very poetic and swirling with music.  Oh, and lemony good too!  I started with Tropic of Virgo, which is complete, and moved on to her others.  I now faithfully wait for her updates to Tropic of Gemini.  Tropic of Virgo was my favorite, but the rest are wonderful as well.  I love her!!!
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Books
kaj77
 Well, it's been awhile since I've posted.  I made a resolution that this year I would read a wider selection of books than I did last year (Twilight series anyone??), and I'm going to keep track of them here.   I think I've made a pretty good (and early) start.  

I finished The Night Train by Martin Amis just before New Years.  I've been meaning to read a few of his books for years and I'm not sure why I never got around to it.  Night Train was a really interesting take on a crime/detective novel and made me look at suicide in a way I'd never thought about before.  Very interesting.  Another of his books - London Fields is on the shelf, but I've got a bunch of others I want to read first.

Tonight I finished The Outlander by Gil Adamson.  I really enjoyed this book.  In her first novel, the author tells the story of Mary Boulton, a 19 year old girl who, in 1903, fights for her freedom from a cold and distant and possibly abusive husband, and later his brothers, and manages to find herself along the way.  It's kind of an early version of grrlll power, with a wonderful cast of characters that she meets along the way, including the Ridgerunner - a loner who lives off of the land and what he can steal from ranger stations, Bonney - the reverend who gives Mary a home and gets her back on track, and McEchern, a dwarf who runs the store in Frank and treats Mary as an equal of sorts.   By the end of the book the author had instilled Mary, who isn't always a likable or sympathetic kind of girl, with a sense of empowerment that I imagine was unusual for a woman in 1903.  I liked the author's writing style - descriptive but not in a flowery kind of way - and look forward to reading her next novel if she writes one.  But then again, as this book took her 10 years to write...

I have to admit that over the last week I've read a couple of fanfics by Icy (Snowqueens Icedragon).  Her writing sucked me in - especially on Master of the Universe.  I'm impatiently waiting for the next chapter.  I love her writing.  If she ever has her novel published I will gladly wait in line to purchase it for full price.

Next up:The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Joy Installed!
kaj77
I finally got the photo of Joy installed on my client's wall.  Big props to Fred who actually did the installation, which ended up being very difficult.  It took about two hours, but it really looks great on the wall and in their room.   Love those old converted factories.


If they ever get sick of it on the wall, they can always use it on the bed-


Restocking
kaj77
These photos show what my booth looked like on the first day of Art Fair on the Square in Madison, WI on July 11 & 12.  I sold a number of quilts the first day, including the three you see hanging.  Luckily, the folks that bought those quilts were nice enough to let me keep them up until the judges all came through.  I was soo happy they did that because I got an invitational award and will not have to jury into the fair next year.  By day two, the booth looked alot different and much emptier.  Now I'm working my but off trying to restock by booth for my next fair - Naperville's Riverwalk Art Fair in September.  Wish me luck!

Booth ShotBooth Shot

This is what my booth looked like on the first day of Art Fair on the Square in Madison, WI July 11&12.





First Post
kaj77
Figured it was about time I started a blog!  Well today was a really good day.  Fred & I spent a couple of hours today at a client's condo installing one of my quilts on a large wall.  Took much longer than I thought due to the size - 99" x 105" - but it really looked beautiful.  Fred took a few photos & I'll post one whenever he gets around to giving me one.   While we were there I got a phone call from another customer finalizing the sale of two other quilts - yay!  It's shaping up to be a great month - especially when considering how good Art Fair on Square was.  Now I have to worry if I'll have enough pieces for Riverwalk Art Fair in Naperville in September, (that's actually a good problem), and my challenge quilt for the upcoming ukelele festival (yep, that's right, ukelele festival!!).  The theme is "The Blues" and I've got a couple cool ideas.

I've also been catching up on movies.  Saw Public Enemies a couple week ago.  Good movie, very good Johnny Depp, and it was great seeing all the Wisconsin locations - part of the filming was at the Historical Society in Milwauke - just a couple blocks away from where I work.  We saw the new Harry Potter last weekend.  The theatre had a bar and there was a group of about 12 middle aged men in line in front of us getting toasted on martinis.  Whoever said these movies were for kids only is whack!  Tonight we watched Lords of Dogtown, which I really enjoyed despite the presence of the douchebag EH, who actually looked really good in this movie.  We also watched The Other Bolyn Girl, which was just a hot mess.  Total butchering of history and the book too.  I found it amazing that they managed to take out all the suspense and twist all the juicy parts of the book.  So disappointing!

I've also spent some time on my guilty pleasure - catching up on all the Robsten gossip from Comic Con.  I have no idea why they interest me so much, but they do.  I really appreciate those folks in the know who take the time to share with us - Thank You!!

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