Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween

      In honor of my favorite holiday I just HAVE to post about my favorite movie...HALLOWEEN (the first one)!! This has been my favorite movie since I was five, yes FIVE. I watched it on repeat like some little girls watched Cinderella. I still think it is one of the best creepy movies ever made. It isn't super gory, or satanic, or use a bunch of tricks to scare you. The boogie man never even talks! It's the music, the mood, the atmosphere, the shadows, and the unknown that is scary. Why is he just standing there? Why doesn't he say something? Why does he look like that? This movie is most definitely full of artful cinematography,'s just creeeeeeeepy!! Jamie Lee Curtis is awesome in it too! Still love it, all these years later. Can't wait to watch it after trick or treating tonight!
      Thought I would add a pic of my wild things, well two of them, my oldest is on a band trip tonight and so doesn't get to go with us. Boo! I think Halloween should be considered a family holiday just like Thanksgiving, no school scheduled activities!
      Teen Zombie, he's so handsome he reminds me of the zombie in Warm Hearts. How can you be scared of such a handsome guy? He would definitely get my brains.
      This wild thing is going to be a ninja tonight, but he hasn't put his costume on yet so this is a pic from earlier today when he got a hair cut. He is the cutest ninja I have ever seen!
      Have a Safe and Happy Halloween everyone! This creature of the arts is ready to get started on some tricking and treating, and then a little watching of my favorite movie while helping the wild things devour their candy!
      I came back to add Ninja pics. He looked so great I had to! Plus, there was a house with an awesome graveyard and other spooky scenes, I took a pic of him in front of it that I wanted to show. They always put so much creativity into their décor, I love it. They also play little games with the kids when they come up for their candy, such Halloween, and artful spirit!!
I hope your night went as well as ours!

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Ad-Dams Fam-i-LY.....LIVE

      The Addams Family! Live! What a great play to see as we are almost at Halloween. This family IS Halloween. The wild things and I set off for Plaza Theatre last night to enjoy some dark comedy, and be a part of the Addams family. We laughed and whispered about all the fun little details through the whole of the show, (and munched on popcorn of course). I have always loved the tv show of this kooky family, but have never been able to watch it with the wild things as I have never found it on Netflix. They have seen the movie with Anjelica Huston though, so they knew a little about the family, but still had a lot of questions when it was over.
      The story for the play centered around Wednesday Addams, that made me happy as she has always been one of my favorite family members. She has met a boy, a very main stream boy, and they have decided they want to get married. She breaks the news to Gomez, asks him not to tell Morticia, and says she wants to have him and his family to dinner. Gomez is anxious about this, he doesn't like the idea of Wednesday getting married, but more than that he doesn't want to keep a secret from Morticia. Wednesday makes him promise though, and so he does.

      All kinds of dark hilarity ensues after this. Morticia begrudgingly allows a dinner, but the fiancé's family are all squares, so they do not understand the Addams' at all. There is a very Addamsish scene at the dinner table, a moment when Morticia finds out that Gomez has been keeping something from her and gets furious (in a slow and deliberate way that only Morticia can show anger), and then the audience got much enjoyment when Morticia and Gomez realize the grandmother that lives with them isn't either one of their who is she? Lurch was dragging around through the play making everyone laugh with his Lurchiness, and Pugsley (played by a 12yo) did a great job being a creepy younger brother. By the end Morticia got over her anger, the fiancé's family accepted the kookiness of the Addams - and the Addams accepted them and all their squared edges, and there was a terrific tango scene among all the cast to finish it off....they never did resolve who the grandma was, in true Addams fashion they just accepted her anyway!
      We had such a great time! We always do when we go to this theatre. It is a small theatre in the round where the stage is at ground level and there are only about 50 seats. So, you really get to feel like you are a part of the show. The cast interacts with the audience, and everything is happening mere feet in front of you. We can't wait to go to the next show!
      When we got back I looked up ordering the box set of the Addams family series, thought I would share the link for anyone who may be interested. Have a safe, happy, and spooky Halloween!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #1

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick this Wednesday for the book I am most anxious to be published is:
Fallen Land

Fallen Land

Fallen Land is Taylor Brown's debut novel set in the final year of the Civil War, as a young couple on horseback flees a dangerous band of marauders who seek a bounty reward.

Callum, a seasoned horse thief at fifteen years old, came to America from his native Ireland as an orphan. Ava, her father and brother lost to the war, hides in her crumbling home until Callum determines to rescue her from the bands of hungry soldiers pillaging the land, leaving destruction in their wake. Ava and Callum have only each other in the world and their remarkable horse, Reiver, who carries them through the destruction that is the South.

Pursued relentlessly by a murderous slave hunter, tracking dogs, and ruthless ex-partisan rangers, the couple race through a beautiful but ruined land, surviving on food they glean from abandoned farms and the occasional kindness of strangers.

In the end, as they intersect with the scorching destruction of Sherman's March, the couple seek a safe haven where they can make a home and begin to rebuild their lives.

Dramatic and thrillingly written with an uncanny eye for glimpses of beauty in a ravaged landscape, Fallen Land is a love story at its core, and an unusually assured first novel by award-winning young author Taylor Brown.
Hardcover, 288 pages
Expected publication: January 12th 2016 by St. Martin's Press
I can't wait to sink my teeth into this one! History, danger, romance, intrigue...sounds like a good meal to me!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Vampire Diaries 1 & 2, The Awakening and The Struggle...Book Review

The Vampire Diaries 1 & 2

The Awakening and The Struggle

by L.J. Smith

Copyright 1991

                L.J. Smith has done a very good job at surprising this very realistic loving reader into thoroughly enjoying her books, ’The Vampire Diaries’, ‘The Awakening’ and ‘The Struggle’. I am reviewing these together because I read them together. They are commonly both in one book and flow seamlessly into one another. I originally began reading these because my daughter talked me into watching the t.v. show by the same name, originally aired on the CW and now on Netflix, with her. I was also surprised when I enjoyed it, at least the first three seasons, then it lost me, but that’s a different review. I decided I wanted to read the books to see how closely they aligned; since I enjoyed the show I thought I might also enjoy the books. I was right.

                Something that intrigued me about these books were that the first four were published in 1991 & 92. That is after ‘Interview with a Vampire’ by Anne Rice, published 1976, but before ‘Twilight’ by Stephenie Meyer, published 2005-08. ‘Twilight’ got so much hype and attention, but I personally like these better. ‘Interview with a Vampire’ was a great read, and movie for me, but hard to compare when one was adult and the other young adult. Where as these and ‘Twilight’ are both Young Adult. I am not a fan of ‘Twilight’, the books or the movies, but again, that’s a different review. These held my attention through all nearly 500 pages, and I can’t wait to dive into the next two.

                These novels are set in Fell’s Church, Virginia, a small southern town, rich in history and steeped in tradition. I could picture this town and everything about it, the people, the atmosphere (dark and gloomy with temperamental weather), the buildings/houses/surroundings, and all of the circumstances that the characters found themselves in within the setting. While the supernatural elements of vampires and druids seems unrealistic to the skeptics mind, the author did a great job putting me inside a setting where I could believe that maybe they could be out there, and maybe they aren’t all bad after all. The attention paid to small town details was a great extra, the Founder’s Day celebration toward the end of ‘The Struggle’ for instance was something I wanted to be a part of, and something that is similar to a lot of small town celebrations in the real world.

                ‘The Awakening’ begins by introducing you to Elena Gilbert, several of her friends, and Stefan Salvatore. They are all high school students in present day (1991) Fell’s Church. Elena and her friends are the popular girls in school, Stefan is new and mysterious and Elena is intrigued by him. He ignores her at first and she is determined to get his attention, slowly she starts to break through his seemingly disinterested attitude, and learns about his past and who he is. There is a lot of folklore, and history intertwined in Stefan, and soon enough we learn of his and his brother Damon Salvatore’s story. Both are devastatingly handsome, and aristocratic in nature and dress. Elena learns they were born in 15th century Italy, turned to vampire’s by a girl who looked exactly like her, Katherine, and that they were both in love and competition for her affection. Katherine was never able to choose between the two of them, and left them angry with one another over her memory.

The Salvatore brothers were of noble blood in historic Italy, and were expected to act as such. Stefan remembers his tutor telling him, “An aristocrat should dress as befits his position. If he does not, he is showing contempt for others.” This is something that defines their character even in modern times. I like all of these details curling and uncurling with in the story. Each new little detail brings another thrilling aspect to the story. How exciting it would be to meet someone so rich in ideas and perspectives to have lived so long, and know so much.

                Elena is soon devoted to Stefan, Stefan to her, but…enter Damon. Stefan only feeds on animals, he is sensitive and doesn’t like killing humans, nor does he want Elena to become a vampire. Damon on the other hand is dangerous, shows little regard for human life, wants Elena for himself, as well as wants to turn her into a vampire.  Elena loves Stefan, but can’t deny a connection she sometimes feels to Damon. History seems to be repeating itself. This causes many conflicts as you can probably imagine, especially since Damon is the stronger vampire because he feeds on human blood and Stefan doesn’t. Another aspect of the story that adds further supernatural detail is Elena’s best friend, Bonnie, who is of druid descent. She is not strong or even fully aware of her powers as a druid, but she is able to help Elena and Stefan through many problems they have with the townspeople of Fell’s church, and also with Damon.

                There is an exciting climax toward the end of the second book, and then a cliffhanger at the very end that leads you into the next two books. I found these very imaginative, and well thought out. I find myself wishing I could know the Salvatore brothers. The consequence’s our lives would face if supernatural beings were among us is a well-executed theme throughout. Not just from the human side of things, but also from the supernatural beings perspective. Vampires are inherently evil, whether real beings or imagined, bloodlust is what drives and sustains them. Stefan’s tutor tells him, “Evil will never find peace. It may triumph, but it will never find peace.” This feeling of being evil is something that haunts Stefan, and peace obviously eludes Damon even if evil doesn’t bother him like it does Stefan. Even in human form, evil isn’t synonymous with peace. It is a tortured soul that has evil in their veins.

                Another aspect I really like of these novels is that the main characters don’t always win, or get their way. I don’t like reading a story where everything works out just right, because in reality it doesn’t, sometimes things just don’t go the way we want. These books are very simply written, while there is some great detail, I feel like it is lacking in some that would be present in an adult novel, and I miss it. I am happy that it isn’t over sexualized, the teens do fall in love and have deep feelings for one another, but the actual physical parts of it have more to do with vampires needing to drink blood rather than have sex. While their feelings for one another are mentioned quite a bit, there are also many other aspects to the story that make it more than just an overdramatized romance. As the mom of two teens that these books are directed at, I appreciate that. There are some instances that I think the characters do more mature things than most teens would be able to do, they are still minors and I know that at least I pay more attention to what my 16yo is doing than the parents in this story. I know though, that it is a novel and some things need to be fictionalized and written that way to move the story along, and appeal to teens. Overall, any critiques I have are small. I am really enjoying these books, and look forward to the next two.

                As for whether it is like the t.v. show? Yes actually, while some things have changed of course, there are a lot of characters, personalities, situations, and settings that are the same. I am glad I have read these because now I understand the show, and some of the feelings of the characters in greater detail.





Saturday, October 24, 2015

Time warp to the Speakeasy

     So two of my wild things and I got the chance to go to a Speakeasy Soiree fundraiser for one of our favorite community theatre's, Plaza Theatre. We jumped at the chance, and went all out in our attire. When we were done dressing for the event we decided we looked like Daisy, Jordan, and of course Gatsby! I loved being Jordan, I always thought it was a fun, and interesting choice for Fitzgerald to make her a professional golfer in the 1920's. That's a rare profession even for a man, but for a woman in the 20's? Almost unheard of! So I was thrilled to be her part.
When we pulled into the parking lot there was a beautiful vintage Roadster sitting all alone in a remote part of the lot. I thought my oldest wild thing was going to hyperventilate, it was beautiful!! We HAD to go take some fun pictures by it and dream about what it would be like if it was ours. I can only imagine the fun we would have rolling up to one of our events in that beauty!
Then we went inside where the community center was decorated in 20's style, with tables all set up for the guests. There were quite a few humans dressed in period clothes, but there were some that just came for the entertainment...such squares! We had yummy food delivered by students of the theatre all dressed up in fun fashion, and were treated to an array of small skits, dances, and singers revolving around the Jazz Age.
     We got a lot of compliments on our willingness to go all out, and felt very fancy and nostalgic all night. The show wrapped up to a round of applause and smiles all around. We were sorry it was over, but so glad we had gone and put so much emphasis on getting ready for it.

     As we left we said goodbye to the Roadster, blew it kisses, and hoped we would see it again some day (maybe even get to ride in it! Or better, own one!!) I think Daisy would give up her left arm for one, so long as she could still drive it. The whole night was the berries, we would  definitely jump on the chance to revisit a speakeasy!!

My favorite part of my whole costume was my wig, it was the only thing I bought extra for the night, well that and the pearls Daisy and I wore. Everything else we found in our closet. It was cheap, but worked perfectly. I will add a link to one on Amazon incase anyone is interested, I am glad to have it as an addition to my collection.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn...Book Review

Gone Girl
By Gillian Flynn

Copyright 2012
Gillian Flynn took me on a psychological roller coaster in her book ‘Gone Girl’. The story unfolds from two different points of view, husband and wife Nick and Amy Dunne. It is made clear early in the novel that Amy grew up in New York City and loves all the fast paced glitz and glamour of her home, but moved to economically depressed North Carthage, Missouri with her husband Nick two years ago to be near his ailing parents. It was easy for me to picture the slow paced, languid Midwest town of North Carthage that Nick and Amy live in. Boredom and restlessness seep from every detail so carefully described by the author, I could feel myself being suffocated by its inhabitants, atmosphere, and overall mood. It made a great setting for a somber and suspenseful tale with many twists and turns.

I found that I switched back and forth between liking one main character, and then the other during this book. I was never able to like both at the same time, the roller coaster flung me this way and that, bouncing between the two. Lies, manipulations, and skewed perceptions played a big part throughout this entire story. The author gave information slowly through the characters, when the characters felt like giving it, and if they felt like giving it honestly. I heard their voices loud and clear, sometimes I liked them and what they had to say, other times I didn’t. This kept the thrill of the story, and the suspense of what was going to be around the next corner throughout the over 400 pages of novel.

Amy and Nick’s childhood play a big role in who they are as characters, and decisions they make throughout this story. They analyze themselves, their personalities, reactions, and emotions, and also each other through a lens filtered by what they experienced as children with their parents. Amy grew up in a wealthy household as an only child with doting parents. She was the main character in her parent’s popular children’s book series called ‘Amazing Amy’. Her parents are still married and love each other, and her, very much. While Nick grew up in a broken home, with a father who was somewhat abusive, a mother who did everything for him, and a twin sister that has always been his best friend. His mother has died, and his dad is in a home suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. He owns and works at a bar with his sister that he bought with money borrowed from Amy’s trust fund account. All of these aspects are combed over many times, and referred to as reasons why Nick and Amy are the people they are. This attention to detail of character brought Nick and Amy alive for me. They were real people with intricate, multi-faceted childhoods that shaped the adults I was reading about in the story.

Not long after you meet them Nick comes home to find Amy missing and his living room in disarray. Where is she? What has happened to her? Things start to unfold in all different directions. What you think you know isn’t always right, and what either character tells you isn’t always true. One of my favorite lines from the book is, “I want the house to tell a story between true and false.” This is an ever present theme throughout the book, and I am not sure I ever really knew the difference between what was true and what was false, even after reading the last word on the last page.  What is truth? What makes something false?  Our perceptions play such a big role in who we are, what we say, how we act, how we feel and what emotions we attach to things. True or false, and right or wrong are easily defined on the surface of things, but when put under a microscope in this novel it can be hard to discern.

Much of this book focuses on marriage, emotions and expectations brought into a relationship, and how resentments can bloom when people don’t live up to what we imagined them to be. I liked what Amy had to say about men wanting the “Cool Girl” in a relationship, finding that person in the beginning, but then being unhappy and wanting to give up when the person gets real. Amy says, “I hated Nick for being surprised when I became me.” and “He truly seemed astonished when I asked him to listen to me.” This can, and definitely does go both ways in a relationship, but it is Amy’s character that talks about it most. This is a real issue couple’s face, and the psychological twists and subsequent situations it can create was an interesting facet of life to explore in a novel. I always like stories that are believable, I thought the author did a great job at delving into each characters psyche, pulling it a part piece by piece, and constructing reasons why and how they did the things they do in the book. I believed they would do the things they did, and while she kept me guessing, one minute thinking this and the next minute that, it made me want to keep reading.

While I liked this book, and thought it had many good observations about people, perceptions, and behavior all written in an excellent structure, clear voice, and clever words…if she were to write a sequel to this I would not read it. By the end of the book I was disappointed in Nick, and tired of Amy. I wouldn’t care what happened to them next. It did not end in a way that was satisfactory to me, and that’s okay, not all stories do. It had a depressing mood overall and there was no redeeming factor, or character at the end. I would read another book by this author, I did like her writing, it was intelligent and I appreciate that, but not another novel about these characters.



Tuesday, October 20, 2015

On your toes Dracula!

       This weekend my little vamp and I had a Fangtastic!! time at Bass Hall in downtown Fort Worth watching, and dressing up for (yes, this is one of our favorite parts of anything we partake in), Dracula!! It was performed by Texas Ballet Theater, and accompanied by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. To say we enjoyed it is just not good enough...we sunk our teeth into it!
      Our seats were near the top in the Upper Gallery, and all though you could feasibly get a nose bleed up there (and that's a little scary when you're in a performance hall full of vampires!), we love being above any tall humans or giant heads! We are miniature and don't want to miss a thing! We love to people watch while we are there, seeing all the different ideas of how to dress when going to a ballet in the 21st century gives one plenty to talk about. Some people dressed up with vintage and vampire-y thoughts in their minds, one group of four even dressed in beautiful old world costumes that we Oooo-ed and Aaah-ed over. Some had expensive looking gowns and suits on, while others looked as though they opted for their Sunday best. We saw quite a few capes, but mine was still my favorite...other than Dracula's, have I mentioned Dracula's cape?!
      The story was pretty simple, acted/danced in three acts. Act One, we were introduced to Dracula's crypt as he is brought a new maiden from the village by his henchman. Count Dracula and his many wives perform a lilting dance as they awaken and she arrives. Act Two, Dracula learns of an extraordinarily beautiful girl in the village that is soon to be married. He interrupts the festivities surrounding her 18th birthday, where we had been delighted with several energetic performances by wonderfully talented ballet dancers, and abducts her. Act Three, he has taken his new soon-to-be bride back to his castle and just as she is about to be initiated her fiancé storms in with a priest and her father to rescue her. At this point a huge blast of pyrotechnics were burst forth and scared the entire was perfect!! The audience cheered and clapped their appreciation.

      So....back to Dracula's cape. It.Was.GORGEOUS!! One of my favorite parts of the whole performance. It was huge, had large scallops on the bottom of  the "wings" making it look "batish", it was red on the inside and had tons of glittery gems on the outside that made it glisten in the lights of the stage. He raced around on stage with it swept outward, or he would curl it around himself with a brooding look to signify danger on the horizon. At one point he out stretched the cape with the red of the inside glowing hot from his arms, one of his brides dressed in flowing white with pale skin stood beside him, she was so frail and ghostly next to his menacing black and red figure that the contrast was breath taking! We couldn't take our eyes off of the dancers.
      The whole show had many enchanting aspects, and they did so great creating the atmosphere. They had the inside of the castle at one point with windows, the fiancé jerked the curtains back on the windows as part of his rescue and light poured through. Then once he rescued her they danced around the room and out on what looked like the balcony of the castle, only you were seeing it from the inside. So, you would see them through the windows as they went by, but not when they were covered by the walls of the castle...I think that was just screens that they made appear that way, but I haven't figured that one out yet!! The curtains were obviously real, but I couldn't make the rest look entirely solid to my eyes.

      The live orchestra is always a wonderful addition. The spooky music foreshadowing the upcoming events is delicious. Candy for the ears!! What makes the orchestra even more exciting for us is that  Savannah (my little vamp) plays clarinet, and her private teacher is the Assistant Principal Clarinetist of the FWSO. So, we could see him down in the orchestra pit from where we were. She has dreams of being down in that pit one day!!
      This was a beautiful and exciting evening that these two Creatures of the Arts will not soon forget! Halloween is almost heeerrrrreeeee!!!!

My cape is by Zootzu, a Renaissance clothes maker that sells on EBay and Etsy, and travels to Renaissance Festivals (another of my favorite haunts). Here is a link to a fun cape on Amazon...they are a must for any dress up collection!