2019 Summer Reading: Four Novels and An Art Book. Fun Summer Reading.

summerreading

I’ve got a pile of books waiting for me to read right now. I’d whittled my pile down but built it back up over the past few months.

All I hope for are books I can finish. Damn, I’ve started to read three books this summer that I could not finish because they were either stupid, boring, or just difficult to follow.  I don’t need amazing literature. What I do need and crave is a good story – a well told story – with interesting characters.

The books I’m posting today aren’t books I’ve read already. These are books I’m going to read over the next few months. Read along with me. I hope these are all entertaining and a lot of fun to read.

RIGHT NOW, I’m reading

Field of Bones
by J.A. Jance

51kAqRF5ezL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

This is the first book I’ve read by this author. It is the fourth in the Joanna Brady series, and the first in this series I’ve read. I didn’t even know it was part of a series until I started. I’m only on chapter 8, and so far it has captured my attention.

Description from the back cover:

While on maternity leave, Sheriff Joanna Brady is dragged into a far-reaching investigation to bring down a sadistic killer in this chilling tale of suspense from beloved New York Times bestselling author J. A. Jance

Though she’s still recovering from a series of tragedies, Joanna Brady’s life has never been busier.  Her older daughter is off to college, her five-year-old son is full of energy and boundless curiosity, and she’s just given birth to a new daughter—on the same night she won her third election as Cochise County sheriff in a squeaker of a race.  In addition, her husband, Butch, is away on an exhausting book tour.

Despite her devotion to her work, Joanna is determined to see her maternity leave through this time. But in this beautiful desert landscape, home of Wyatt Earp, Tombstone, and the shoot-out at the OK Corral, a monster is roaming free—a serial killer who has transformed Joanna’s small corner of the Southwest into a field of bones.

When a teenager turns in a human skull found on the far side of the San Bernardino Valley in the Peloncillo Mountains between Arizona and New Mexico, it is the beginning of a multiple homicide case. As much as she would rather stay home with her newborn and lose herself in the cold cases to be found in her father’s long- unread diaries, Joanna instead finds herself overseeing a complex investigation involving multiple jurisdictions and an FBI profiler.

Some of the online reviews are sort of odd, stating this book is just a Republican tool and that they don’t like the authors stance on women or border control. We’ll wait and see. I think there might be some trolling here. At chapter 8 I’m going to give the author a benefit of a doubt.

Eat Only When You’re Hungry
By Lindsay Hunter

61y3gcYhhhL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

This is a short book, only 208 pages, but it look like it is going to be a big story. I looks different. It looks fun. It seems like it just might be really really good.

Official Description:

Finalist for the 2017 Chicago Review of Books Fiction Award and a 2017 NPR Great Read

Recommended reading by Nylon, Buzzfeed, Vulture, Lit Hub, Chicago Review of Books and Chicago Reader

With this novel, Hunter establishes herself as an unforgettable voice in American letters. Her work here, as ever, is unparalleled.” ―Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist and Hunger

Achingly funny and full of feeling, Eat Only When You’re Hungry follows fifty-eight-year-old Greg as he searches for his son, GJ, an addict who has been missing for three weeks. Greg is bored, demoralized, obese, and as dubious of GJ’s desire to be found as he is of his own motivation to go looking. Almost on a whim, Greg embarks on a road trip to central Florida―a noble search for his son, or so he tells himself.

Greg takes us on a tour of highway and roadside, of Taco Bell, KFC, gas-station Slurpees, sticky strip-club floors, pooling sweat, candy wrappers and crumpled panes of cellophane and wrinkled plastic bags tumbling along the interstate. This is the America Greg knows, one he feels closer to than to his youthful idealism, closer even than to his younger second wife. As his journey continues, through drive-thru windows and into the living rooms of his alluring ex-wife and his distant, curmudgeonly father, Greg’s urgent search for GJ slowly recedes into the background, replaced with a painstaking, illuminating, and unavoidable look at Greg’s own mistakes―as a father, as a husband, and as a man.

Brimming with the same visceral regret and joy that leak from the fast food Greg inhales, Eat Only When You’re Hungry is a wild and biting study of addiction, perseverance, and the insurmountable struggle to change. With America’s desolate underbelly serving as her guide, Lindsay Hunter elicits a singular type of sympathy for her characters, using them to challenge our preconceived notions about addiction and to explore the innumerable ways we fail ourselves.

Someone Knows
by Lisa Scottoline

51BVRMrl0BL-1._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

Official Description:

Allie Garvey is heading home to the funeral of a childhood friend. Allie is not only grief-stricken, she’s full of dread. Because going home means seeing the other two people with whom she shares an unbearable secret.

Twenty years earlier, a horrific incident shattered the lives of five teenagers, including Allie. Drinking and partying in the woods, they played a dangerous prank that went tragically wrong, turning deadly. The teenagers kept what happened a secret, believing that getting caught would be the worst thing that could happen. But time has taught Allie otherwise. Not getting caught was far worse.

Allie has been haunted for two decades by what she and the others did, and by the fact that she never told a soul. The dark secret has eaten away at her, distancing her from everyone she loves, including her husband. Because she wasn’t punished by the law, Allie has punished herself, and it’s a life sentence.

Now, Allie stands on the precipice of losing everything. She’s ready for a reckoning, determined to learn how the prank went so horribly wrong. She digs to unearth the truth, but reaches a shocking conclusion that she never saw coming–and neither will the reader.

As you all know Lisa Scottoline has been one of my favorite authors since I first picked up one of my favorite books Dirty Blonde.

Tight Rope
By Amanda Quick

515CATm7BNL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

Amanda Quick is one of the many pen names of Jayne Ann Krentz.

This book is the newest in the Burning Cove series. These books are light mystery, ROMANCE, total Summer Reading fluff and a lot of fun. I’ve been hooked on her books for a while. Don’t even ask me why. These aren’t literary, but sometimes we need something more than meat and vegetables.

Official description:

Former trapeze artist Amalie Vaughn moved to Burning Cove to reinvent herself, but things are not going well. After spending her entire inheritance on a mansion with the intention of turning it into a bed-and-breakfast, she learns too late that the villa is said to be cursed. When the first guest, Dr. Norman Pickwell, is murdered by his robot invention during a sold-out demonstration, rumors circulate that the curse is real. 

In the chaotic aftermath of the spectacle, Amalie watches as a stranger from the audience disappears behind the curtain. When Matthias Jones reappears, he is slipping a gun into a concealed holster. It looks like the gossip that is swirling around him is true—Matthias evidently does have connections to the criminal underworld. 

Matthias is on the trail of a groundbreaking prototype cipher machine. He suspects that Pickwell stole the device and planned to sell it. But now Pickwell is dead and the machine has vanished. When Matthias’s investigation leads him to Amalie’s front door, the attraction between them is intense, but she knows it is also dangerous. Amalie and Matthias must decide if they can trust each other and the passion that binds them, because time is running out.

Edwin Deakin
California Painter of the Picturesque
By Scott A. Shelds, Ph.D.

51EOOW3pHML._SY436_BO1,204,203,200_

This beautiful book has been calling out for me to read the entire thing from cover to cover for a long time. I’ve spent time with the pictures, and looked up bits and pieces. Now is the time to read all of it. Scott A. Shelds is an excellent writer who always makes art read like an adventure – he is never dull or overly academic.

Official description:

The paintings of Edwin Deakin–beautiful, romantic depictions of California’s early architecture, particularly its missions, as well as picturesque and nostalgic scenes of California wilderness–are regarded as major achievements in early California art. Deakin’s trip to Europe in 1877 also inspired breathtaking canvases, notably of Notre Dame in Paris and the Castle of Chillon on Lake Geneva. Later in Deakin’s career, his brush captured the uniqueness of San Francisco’s Chinatown and the destruction of the 1906 earthquake. Deakin (1838-1923) was equally gifted at still-life painting and produced magnificient compositions of fruits and flowers. Edwin Deakin: California Painter of the Picturesque is the first book to survey the artist’s vast accomplishments, bringing together examples from all the genres in which he worked–including all twenty-one of his paintings of the California missions.

Born in Sheffield, England, Deakin first came to San Francisco in 1870. The next year he established a studio in the city and began exhibiting regularly. His later years were spent in Berkeley, where in 1890 he purchased a large tract of land and built a mission-style home. Today a street in Berkeley is named in his honor.

The Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California, developed this book in concert with an exhibition of the artist’s paintings. Edwin Deakin has long been admired by aficionados of California art, but wider recognition of his accomplishments is overdue. This publication, with illuminating text by Alfred C. Harrison Jr., president of the The North Point Gallery, and Scott A. Shields, chief curator at the Crocker Art Museum, strives to further the painter’s legacy as an important contributor to the canon of California–and American–art.

summerreading

Until next Monday, happy reading.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

2019 Summer Reading: Transport Yourself to Another Time

Today, on my Monday Book/Reading feature I present three books that are quite different, but three books that will transport you into another time or place.

Reveries of a Bachelor

by I.K. Marvel
1850

I’ve carried my curious little volume around for years, with now yellow and brittle pages, treasuring it as a nice little book that takes one back to 1850, in the time of the Industrial Revolution and the California Gold Rush.

This summer I’ll be reading it again after many many many years.

Reveries of a Bachelor examines the dream-like lives Americans were living at the time. It was one of the top best sellers of its time but has received little attention from 19th century literary critics. In the text, Ik Marvel theorizes on boyhood, country life style, marriage, travel, and dreaming.

It was one of poet Emily Dickinson’s favorite books.

It is now quaint, and dated, but there are still hard truths of the heart and soul that we can all find in this volume of essays.

If you like social history, or write historic history from the mid-19th Century this book contains a wealth of sentimental information.

Reveries of a Bachelor is no longer in print. You might be able to find a copy online, on eBay, or maybe at your local used bookstore. Some people are asking over $100 for a copy but I know you can find one on eBay for under $10.

This sweet, and sometimes silly book will transport you to another time. Fix a tall drink and spend an hour or two with it under a shade tree or on your back porch with your cat or dog at your feet.

ik

Author I. K. Marvel

Artful Players
Artistic Life in Early San Francisco

by Brigitta Hjalmarson

51MV3YZMYGL._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_

I love this book so much.

From the book jacket: With a handful of wealthy Gold Rush barons as indulgent patrons, an active community of artist appeared in San Francisco almost overnight. A subculture of artistic brilliance and social experimentation was the result in essence, a decades-long revelry which finally ended with the 1906 earthquake. 

Unfortunately when most people think about art from 1849 – 1906 they think of French, or Italian, or German art. Or they think of artist in the Eastern United States. But the real story, the personalities, the talent, and the fun was in California, specifically San Francisco down to Monterey, and even in Sacramento.

This book is non-fiction but it is a well written story and oh so fun to read. You’ll be transported in time with the adventures of Jules Travrnier, Thomas Hill, William Keith, Julian Rix, Grace Hudson, Theodore Wore, Oscar Wilde, and others. It was a time and place where both men and women could break out of the normal constraints and be the artists they wanted to be. Yes, there was drama, and the guys still didn’t want the girls to play in their club house, but it was an amazing time. It is a time and place you won’t want to leave. So pack your tuxedo, your camping gear, and your paint brushes and join the fun in Artful Players.

I read this book in January but I know I’ll be reading it again soon, just to savor it and get in the details once more.

Note: This book is available on Amazon for about $30. You can get a nice copy for a lot less on eBay or other online non-Amazon book sellers. Also check with your local used bookstores.

Chronicles of The One Trilogy

Book 1 Year One

Book 2 Of Blood and Bone

By Nora Roberts

I have book one and two of this Nora Roberts trilogy. Book 3 comes out later this year. I have to admit that I’m a fan of Nora Roberts trilogies. This post appocolyptic series includes magic, romance, and no doubt some nice twists and turns. I haven’t read either books yet. These are on my summer reading list. I will no doubt read them with tall cool drinks on my back deck undisturbed by two or four legged visitors.

I absolutely LOVE the J.D. Robb “In Death” series, and am of course waiting for the next book to come out.

 

35781671_10214101033498980_1333595866623115264_n

I will never shame anyone about what they read (if you want me to I can give you my shameful awful reading list of books I violently dislike.) I like to read just about anything. My goal is to give you some fun and interesting suggestions, and share books I’ve enjoyed, found curious, or think I’m going to enjoy.

So until next Monday – have fun and happy reading.

And you know, you can always read my blog anytime you want. With over 2,000 posts it is guaranteed to keep you entertained.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

summerreading

 

Cat-ur-day

Saturday is here which usually means a Burning Question Poll or a lousy drawing.

But TODAY it is Cat-ur-Day. Move over Saturn, the cats are here.

Last night while I was folding laundry (yes, Vampires have laundry) my cat Oscar was curled up next to his buddy Stan-Lee. Stan is an old Steiff tiger of the most pleasant disposition. Oscar loves his Stan.

IMG_2230IMG_2231IMG_2234IMG_2236

Oscar is my baby boy, even though he turns eight this summer.

Gloria is almost fourteen. We got her at the pound (Sacramento Animal Control and Rescue) on my daughter’s 6th birthday. She was a teeny tiny little thing. Gloria is still pretty small but fierce. She is the hunter, and I will say no more. Birds, bugs, lizards, and all small rodents – you have been warned.

But wait… for all of you who need your poochie dogo fix I also took a picture of Alice, my cuddle bug hellhound (aka GSD aka German Shepard Dog.) Alice is three years old. Her birthday is December 25th. Alice weights 86 pounds, loves the cats to no end, listens to the “mom voice”, and steals the cat food as often as she can.

IMG_2238

For those who came here looking for a Burning Question or a drawing I aim to please.

Here is a doodle I did a while back of a vampire child and her cat. Just a doodle.

Vampire Maman

The Tiger and Vampire Maman

And something else a little more detailed.

This one was done under another name (aka Marla Todd) but I drew it. This was a while back. I have a stash of works I’ve never shown anyone, and a lot of work I’ve sold or given away. Hell yeah I’ve been paid for my artwork and illustrations.

marla_small

Finally…

Drum roll please…

The BURNING QUESTION for today is: How does society influence art?

If you don’t like that one talk about your cats, dogs, art, or spring garden in the comment section below. Yes, that is what the comment section is for. Start the discussions NOW.

Happy Cat-ur-Day.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vlad’s Vampire Diary: Culture

Dear Diary,

Tonight I cut myself while shaving my face. I did not bleed as I had not eaten yet. I realized that if I did eat I would start to bleed. That would be a problem as I had put on a white shirt. I had rolled up the sleeves to right below my elbow. Modern women find that “hot.” I am not sure what they mean by “hot” except maybe they are so excited that they age a dozen years in their excitement and stop having children but I know that is not what hot means. I also know that my lover Gillian would slap me if she knew such a thought had come into my mind. What do they call it? Hot flash? A hot flash. I would cause a hot flash. I do not think that is what women mean by hot when they see my sleeves rolled up.

I am a Vampire. Hot is not a good description for me. I once heard a woman say I was smoking hot. I went into the restroom to find a mirror. There was no smoke coming out of me or my clothing. I was going to ask her to explain but ended up going to her house and drinking her blood instead. If a woman wants me to be hot then I shall be hot.

In order to make my cut go away I put my finger on the wound and said a few ancient Vampire words in order to heal myself. Then I left my house. As I drove I wondered if a hot flash was anything like a flash mob, then I thought of something else.

After going out to a local club for a quick bite I noticed a spot on my shirt. I was bleeding. I covered my cut with a paper napkin until the bleeding stopped. I hate it when I leak. It has been what some call one of those days.

~ Vlad

 

Dear Diary,

Today I met my friend Constantine at the art museum. When I was Vampire King of my own Vampire Kingdom there were no museums. I had paintings, and sculpture, and skulls, tapestries, and strange bones on shelves. I would let people into my castle to see the objects. We did not have churches in the Vampire Kingdom so I displayed interesting things people brought me from far away places.

While I was locked in a crypt for the 18th – 20th Centuries museums came into vogue. Constantine told me that museum comes from the word muse, or as a shrine of the muses. This museum phenomenon is all new to me. I do not think I have a muse. I only have an um.

Constantine was late. I walked into the vast building, connected to an older vast building. Herds of children followed old people called docents out of the lobby, up stairwells, and elevators. I walked the halls alone finding myself surrounded by strange things.

I find almost all things strange in the 21st Century but the museum seemed to be a repository of strangeness. The strange galleries were filling up with children who seemed to love the random splashes of color, and disturbing sculptures. I could hear someone asking the children about the purpose of the horizontal lines. I had to leave before I was caught up in the frantic excitement.

Down a hall I found myself alone, surrounded by paintings of mostly outdoor places. I stood in front of a painting of singular beauty. The scene was that of a marsh, or field on a foggy morning, with a group of trees in the background. It was simple, yet drew me in unlike any other piece I had seen.

A hand settled on my shoulder and a voice spoke quietly next to me. “I knew the artist well. He painted that right before he left California. It was because of a woman. She was cheating on him. I miss him.”

“That is a sad story my friend,” I said. “What happened to him?”

“I was going to go back to the East Coast where he’d set up a studio, but he’d died. I should have changed him into a Vampire when I had the opportunity, while he was still here. I think he would have done well as one of us,” said Constantine.

Constantine spends a lot of time at the art museum. He is there on Thursday nights and other adult events. He said there were lectures and films to see. He says it is his favorite place to dine because he likes the crowd of art lovers. He says art makes their blood sweeter.

As we walked around, he told me stories about the artists and the artworks. He explained the different art movements, even with art that does not move. Yes indeed, there is art that moves.

At one point two lovely young women stood near us. All young women are lovely are they not?

I glanced over at them and smiled. Constantine did the same.

“Are you two models? Actors maybe?” One asked while the other just smiled.

We told them no. They smiled and walked on, talking to each other about how handsome and cute we were.

“What do those charming women mean by cute? Is it different in a museum setting? Either way I have yet to understand exactly what they mean. A kitten is cute. A baby is cute. We are not kittens or babies.” I said to my friend.

Constantine just laughed but failed to answer my questions.

I asked him if any of his art was in the museum. “Not yet,” he said. “Maybe I’ll donate one of my 17th Century pieces, but I have to admit my early 20th Century landscapes are more popular.”

Constantine has always been an artist. He has also always been sly and quick to take advantage of easy situations. He is an extremely successful Vampire.

I will come back to the art museum. Maybe I will get a membership.

~ Vlad

 

Dear Diary,

Five years ago I was rescued from my entombment. Trapped in a crypt for three hundred years left me completely in the dark. Maybe that is not the correct expression to use since I am a Vampire and being in the dark is not that bad of a thing.

I am 675 years year old yet my points of reference and my appearance is that of a Millennial.

I have experience but my technology is too old.

Once I even told someone that I was raised in a religious cult in an isolated mountain town and home schooled by coyotes and squirrels. I could not tell them that my isolation was due to being locked in a crypt with five dead bodies, and with a wooden stake through my heart.

I know that my style is such that my friends need not call the five Queer Eye men to make me over.

I know that my hesitation and naivety can charm both men and women. I know my good looks can do the same.

But when someone asks me if I am straight and I check my posture that is embarrassing. It was two years before someone told me that “straight” was someone who is attracted to the opposite sex. I do not know these new words.

I do not want to act like an old man. On the other hand I have met old men who would be considered “exceptionally cool” by a Mellinnial, or anyone else who is alive and not a Vampire.

My head is spinning. It is time to sleep. Good night Diary. Close up. Go to sleep. The cats are waiting on the foot of the bed and wish for me to join them.

~Vlad

 

Kissed by a Vampire

Kissed by a Vampire

Click HERE to see all of Vlad’s Vampire Diary entries. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winding River – A Mystery

 

While going through a pile of old artwork I found this large format photo. It is about 16 x 18 inches and printed on heavy paper. It was printed in the 19th – early 20th Century. I don’t know who the photographer was, or who printed the photo. It is an original photograph.

s-l1600

About a month ago I saw a photo of a painting of the exact same scene. The photo was from the late 19th Century. The scene is in the Rocky Mountains, maybe in Colorado. I don’t remember the what/where/who of that painting.

I’m putting the following questions out to my readers, and art/photo/Western historians. I don’t know the answers to these questions so any help would be WONDERFUL and I’d be grateful to you forever:

Who was the photographer?

Was this the Winding River and are the mountains in the background the Rockies?

Who painted this scene?

What is the painting and where is it located? Is it in a museum?

If you know any of the answers let me know. Yes, this is a mystery. Let’s solve it together.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

96 Colors

96 Colors

Yesterday my new set of 96 Firm Pastel Color Sticks (Prismacolor Nupastel) landed on my front porch along with pastel paper to draw on.

I am so excited.

NINETY SIX COLORS! AND PAPER 18 x 24 INCH PAPER!

It has been years since I’ve created any serious fine artwork. Sure I doodle and still occasionally do graphic design shit but I’m ready to start working on a grander scale again.

So what are YOUR goals for today?

  • Do something creative (even if it is fixing something without instructions.)
  • Seek out color.
  • Keep away from bad blood (for both Vampires and non-Vampires.)
  • Laugh.
  • Look at the moon (Werewolves – that is up to your discretion.)
  • Talk to your kids. Hug them. Listen to them. Encourage them.
  • Go to a museum (I will be there.)
  • Banish Demons (especially the ones with the big leathery wings and yellow eyes.)
  • Have fun.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

IMG_0813