Juliette’s Monday Book Club: Don’t Mess With The Original – Dracula

This is both a book review and kind of a rant. Fair warning.

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In 1897 something extraordinary in both popular fiction and popular culture happened. Irish author Bram Stoker’s book Dracula was published.

Dracula introduced the iconic vampire Count Dracula.

The book is written brilliantly in the form of letters and diary entries.

This is the plot in less than three hundred words: Young attorney Jonathan Harker goes to Count Dracula’s castle to help facilitate a move from Transylvania to England. Harker finds himself in a strange and scary situation but makes it home. Dracula also makes it to England. The rest of the story is about Harker, Professor Abraham Van Helsing, and various friends trying to stop Dracula from stealing their women, and doing other horrible things. There is also a wonderful story of Renfield a bat shit crazy patient of Dr. Stewart. Renfield is controlled in a weird twisted fandom sort of way by Dracula. Of course there at the very Victorian main squeezes Mina and Lucy. Some people get bitten. Some don’t. Some make it. Some don’t. It is a fantastic brilliant book and oh so interesting to read. Stoker did an outstanding job making it all real. And I have an appointment to get to so I’m making this really fast today.

READ THE BOOK.

I bring this up because, in my opinion, nobody has ever done a screen version of this story that really follows the spirit of the book or does justice to the story.

Then there are those fans who obsess with every little detail of the book. Seriously folks, it was written as popular fiction by an author who managed a successful theater, hobnobbed with royalty and other popular authors of the time (Oscar Wilde among them) and wrote many other stories and books. This story is fun but nobody is expected to write their dissertation on what the “blue light” means.

Anyway, back to film and TV…

I recently attempted to watch the new Netflix version of Dracula. OMG it was bad. I couldn’t get through the first episode. It was painful to watch. You’d be better off checking out some of the old Hammer films with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. At least those had some entertainment and production value. The Netflix version is the WORST version of Dracula I have ever witnessed or imagined.

With the Netflix series they had to include weird nuns, bad special effects, juvenile and unnecessary references to sex (gotta get in all of the sex), and horrible casting choices.

If you’re going to make a TV series or movie about Vampires make it NEW. Make a NEW STORY with NEW VAMPIRES. Don’t take a classic and mangle it.

Too few people have had the pleasure of reading the original Dracula. If you haven’t read it PLEASE read it. If you have read it, read it again.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Juliette’s Monday Book Club: Ecotopia

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Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach

On Christmas morning I found my stocking hung by the chimney with care with a copy of Ernest Callenbach‘s Ecotopia.

The back cover description: Ecotopia was founded when northern California, Oregon, and Washington seceded from the Union to create a “stable-state” ecosystem: the perfect balance between human beings and the environment. Now, twenty years later, this isolated, mysterious nation is welcoming its first officially sanctioned American visitor: New York Times-Post reporter Will Weston.

Skeptical yet curious about this green new world, Weston is determined to report his findings objectively. But from the start, he’s alternately impressed and unsettled by the laws governing Ecotopia’s earth-friendly agenda: energy-efficient “mini-cities” to eliminate urban sprawl, zero-tolerance pollution control, tree worship, ritual war games, and a woman-dominated government that has instituted such peaceful revolutions as the twenty-hour workweek and employee ownership of farms and businesses. His old beliefs challenged, his cynicism replaced by hope, Weston meets a sexually forthright Ecotopian woman and undertakes a relationship whose intensity will lead him to a critical choice between two worlds.

Written in 1975 this novel is still relevant, especially today.

I haven’t read Ecotopia, but I’ll start today.

As a life long resident of California, and explorer of the West Coast and American West I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of California and maybe a few other states breaking off and seceding from the Union. I’m not one of those State of Jefferson folks, but the idea is fascinating (especially in today’s toxic political environment.)

So read along with me. Let me know what you think. My daughter told me that when she found the book at the used bookstore near the University she thought of me.

So happy reading, and wishing you a wonderful 2020 and many, many, many books well worth reading.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman 

Juliette’s Monday Book Club: Popular Books From An Alternate Universe

Note: Vampires are not overly fond of Time Travelers   from our universe but from time to time we get some delightful books shared by travelers from an Alternate Universe.

Looking For Alaska

Austin and his Granny head north in her motorhome looking for adventure, and vampires.

Life of Pi

Mathematician Laurence Humboldt has all of the numbers and formulas figured out. That is until he meets baker and the county fair pie champion Emily Frost. Not only can she bake but she has the recipe for love. Is it an acquired taste for Laurence or just  something he just can’t resist.

Lonesome Dove

Political analyst Hawk Kilpatrick is sick and tired of women thinking he is just another tough and cocky guy due to his name. While at an election debate he meets another guy with a tough name, Raven Jones, who introduces Hawk to a unique dating club – a club only for those with avian names.

The Goldfinch

Book Two in the Avian Club Trilogy. Raven Jones has given up on love. But soon finds himself investigating the theft of a rare endangered Bolivian Trenimore’s Goldfinch, and also investigating love with a mysterious woman named Wren.

Catcher in the Rye

After an injury at the World Series star baseball catcher Blake Woodward finds happiness running his grandfather’s distillery, but will he find romance with the quirky booze blogger Andie Sampson?

Lord of the Rings

Jared inherits a title and a castle. But will he also find love when he allows a circus to camp on his property over the summer?

Madam Bovery

When Emma, a French widow finds herself alone and longing for adventure, she buys a Montana Cattle Ranch. Little did she know that along with her bovine companions, she’d have to deal with the mysterious and handsome large animal vet Logan McClellen. Will Emma find love among the cows or will Logan’s past catch up with them both?

Frank N Stein

Dr. Victor is a successful medical researcher during the day, but at night he moonlights at the brew pub Frank N Stein. Just as he finds cures for the body, at the pub he finds cures for the souls of those who come in for the fine brews. When he meets the beautiful and spunky fashions designer Melanie Zapp he wonders if it is now his time for healing and love.

Dracula

Dashing Count Dracula finds that he can no longer live a quiet life when the evil attorney Jonathan Barker accuses him of murder. To make it even more complicated Dracula is a Vampire. In order to clear his name and that of his Werewolf sidekick the lovely India Tanto, he goes to England where he attempts to clear his name and along the way find love in the most unlikely of places.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Tiffany Jackson finally is getting her dream and turning the old Sea Mansion into the most trendy Bed and Breakfast on the West Coast. After hiring handsome breakfast cook LaMar Donatello things couldn’t be better until mysterious and frightening things began to happen in the old house by the sea. LaMar and Tiffany look for clues in their cooking and maybe solve the mystery of multiple murders and perhaps find love.

David Copperfield

Hunky David English finds himself winning the largest Copper mine in the state of Arizona in a poker game. He literally digs in and brings profits back to the people of Rattle Snake Gulch, but will he find love in the arms of the mysterious daughter of the local ghost?

The Outsiders

Classic teen tale of a group of friends who are forced to give up their cell phones and spend the summer OUTSIDE by the local lake and walking nature trails. Can they survive? Can they find love? Maybe a little common sense and conversation? Find out in this gripping tale of survival and friendship.

Eat, Pray, Love

Howard Smith is overweight and destined to be single for the rest of his life. So he becomes a priest, but soon he falls in love with Sister Ann. They both find redemption through healthy living and sharing an adventure in soul searching (with a little soul food added in for spice.)

Bridges of Madison County

Former National Geographic Photographer and musician Jimmy Page is hired to take photos of structural damage after an earthquake but soon finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation. Very married Detective Maria Italiano soon tries to find the killer while she tries to stay out of the arms of Jimmy Page.

50 Shades of Gray

Christian found himself in a rut and feeling like his World was black and white. Take a spiritual journey with him as he finds the shades of gray in life and gets depth back into his life with color and the true meaning of spiritual giving.

Hamlet

A small pig brings joy to a stressed out New York stockbroker.

The Time Traveler’s Wife

Tired of staying home while her husband travels through time Betty takes charge and does some traveling of her own.  Not only does she turn the clock back on her cheating pervert of a husband but she ends up finding true love in the most unusual time and place.

 

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Happy Reading! Feel free to share your favorite books.

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

2019 Nano Pablano Cheer Peppers. 

 

Juliette’s Monday Book Club: Friendship, Veterans, & Men’s Health.

I met Bob Tierno a few months ago at a book reading at my friend Dave’s shop in Fair Oaks, California.  Jon Obyermeyer (writer/poet) had recommended I come to the event. I’m glad I went.

Today, on Veteran’s Day, I feel honored to feature two books by Bob Tierno.

I just started reading the memoir “Letters in a Helmet.”  I love the concept of this story. We all have those friends who, no matter how much time, or how much distance, we always pick up where we left off. Shared histories and shared souls bring it all together.

Letters in a Helmet

by Ron Sorter and Bob Tierno  

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A Story of Fraternity and Brotherhood is a sweeping tale of two men, covering five decades of friendship and brotherhood. What elevates this story is a profound, interlocking bond that carries Delta Kappa Epsilon (“Deke”) fraternity brothers Ron Sorter and Bob Tierno across a transformative landscape of military service, career transitions, marriages, war wounds, cancer battles and bereavement. The immaturity of their youthful antics is followed immediately by the accelerated maturity of early adulthood, and later on, the accumulation of wisdom as they enter their eighth decade of life. This is an inspiring chronicle of American life, bridging the 20th and 21st centuries with this enduring mantra: “your brothers are always there for you.”

Letters in a Helmet, A Story of Fraternity and Brotherhood  Now Available (10/3/2019} in Amazon Books .

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My second book choice is something completely different. Listen up guys – this is about PROSTATE CANCER. This is IMPORTANT. There is a myth out there that Prostate Cancer is slow and won’t kill you. I stress the word myth. Prostate Cancer WILL kill you. Luckily the test is EASY. Just a simple blood test once a year. I know people who’ve tested and gotten it taken care of early (and still have great sex lives.) I also knew those who did not get it taken care of and are no longer with us because of that. The choice is yours. On the other hand it isn’t all yours if you think of your wife, your children, your friends. If you don’t do it for yourself then do it for them.

The Prostate Chronicles – A Medical Memoir: Detours and Decisions following my Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

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“I know not all that may be coming, but be it will, I’ll go laughing.” Herman Melville, Moby DickFrankly, most books on prostate cancer like this are boring and predictable, with an over-emphasis on the medical aspect. This book is irreverent and, therefore different. It sheds light on my journey and speaks to how relationships matter. Men generally don’t like to talk about their prostate because of its impact on their ego (sex life) and quality of life (incontinence). Life as they knew it is “over,” not acknowledging that their life already sucked thanks to their prostate as in always asking for an aisle seat near the restroom. As in always looking for the nearest bathroom at events, and of course, not enjoying that favorite cup of joe if a toilet was more than an hour away. You do have several options when diagnosed with prostate cancer, but frankly, they all suck. Despite numerous downside implications, there is the outcome that you live to see another five, fifteen or twenty years. Having that definitive end-of-life conversation with my urologist was sobering. Whether you are a man or a significant other, prostate cancer is steady part of our health lexicon today. If you’re lucky enough to live to eighty, you’ll most likely encounter this disease.I think of prostate cancer as a detour in my life in my late 60s, something I would not have asked for by any means. If you happen to have prostate cancer, you’re not totally, FUBAR, (Fouled Up Beyond All Repair). Okay, maybe a just little bit. At least you won’t ever again have to hear your urologist say “Bend over here it comes again!”Ella Wheeler said in her famous poem Solitude, “Laugh and the whole world laughs with you. Weep, and you weep alone.”Prostate cancer sucks, but you stand a better chance of coping if you have humor on your side. I’m choosing to take a humorous approach because it’s freaking healthy and because I can and that is what you will find in this book. My life has been a series of exciting eras, all of them fueled by my love of experiencing new challenges. I’m knowledgeable about many things, which I can now add prostate cancer and robotic surgery. Not my first choice, but it does make the list of my expertise longer. ~ Bob Tierno

The Prostate Chronicles- A Medical Memoir Now available on Amazon Books in paperback and Kindle E-Book.

Articles: ProstateCancer.net

https://prostatecancer.net/living/staying-active-during-recovery/

Juliette’s Monday Book Club: Feeling that Colonial America Vibe

Juliette’s Monday Book Club: America was founded by Vampires and Free Thinkers, Among Others

 

The first Vampires came to the colonies in the mid 1600’s. While a few came as individuals, most came in small groups organized by Nathaniel Chase. The first groups were from England, but they also came from France, Holland, Scotland and Ireland. Most left to flee persecution by both humans and other less progressive old guard Vampires. They established themselves as successful business and trade leaders, keeping their identities as Vampires secret. Their community grew and prospered. Today there are several groups still established, including my group, the “Modern Vampires.”  

Still feeling the Colonial America Vibe? Here is a list of some of my favorite books, movies and plays on the subject. Disclaimer: I’m stealing descriptions from other sites.

 

Books (Not the movies, the books. Read the books.)

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (1959)

You may have read this one in school or your kids might have. If you haven’t now is time to do so. I love this book.

Sixteen-year-old Kit Tyler is marked by suspicion and disapproval from the moment she arrives on the unfamiliar shores of colonial Connecticut in 1687. Alone and desperate, she has been forced to leave her beloved home on the island of Barbados and join a family she has never met. Torn between her quest for belonging and her desire to be true to herself, Kit struggles to survive in a hostile place. Just when it seems she must give up, she finds a kindred spirit. But Kit’s friendship with Hannah Tupper, believed by the colonists to be a witch, proves more taboo than she could have imagined and ultimately forces Kit to choose between her heart and her duty.

Elizabeth George Speare won the 1959 Newbery Medal for this portrayal of a heroine whom readers will admire for her unwavering sense of truth as well as her infinite capacity to love.

 

The Orphan Master by Jean Zimmerman

I can’t say enough good things about this book. Wow. This is one of the best books I’ve read – EVER. And one of my favorites. This is on the love list. THANK YOU JEAN ZIMMERMAN for writing this wonderful book.

It’s 1663 in the tiny, hardscrabble Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, now present-day southern Manhattan. Orphan children are going missing, and among those looking into the mysterious state of affairs are a quick-witted twenty-two-year-old trader, Blandine von Couvering, herself an orphan, and a dashing British spy named Edward Drummond.

Suspects abound, including the governor’s wealthy nephew, a green-eyed aristocrat with decadent tastes; an Algonquin trapper who may be possessed by a demon that turns people into cannibals; and the colony’s own corrupt and conflicted orphanmaster. Both the search for the killer and Edward and Blandine’s newfound romance are endangered, however, when Blandine is accused of being a witch and Edward is sentenced to hang for espionage. Meanwhile, war looms as the English king plans to wrest control of the colony.

 

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Heart and soul I love this book. Hester Prynne rocks!

Here is a rather dry description but believe me, it is part of American History and literary tradition.

The Scarlet Letter: A Romance is an 1850 work of fiction in a historical setting, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and is considered to be his magnum opus. Set in 17th-century Puritan Boston, Massachusetts, during the years 1642 to 1649, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter through an affair and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. Throughout the book, Hawthorne explores themes of legalism, sin, and guilt.

Note and WARNING: Every time someone watches the movie “The Scarlett Letter” with Demi Moore a puppy dies. Every time someone says they like that movie they forfeit their soul to HELL. Plus you will lose ALL of my respect.

 

Young Goodman Brown, a story by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The story starts like this:

YOUNG GOODMAN BROWN came forth at sunset, into the street of Salem village, but put his head back, after crossing the threshold, to exchange a parting kiss with his young wife. And Faith, as the wife was aptly named, thrust her own pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons of her cap, while she called to Goodman Brown.

“Dearest heart,” whispered she, softly and rather sadly, when her lips were close to his ear, “pr’y thee, put off your journey until sunrise, and sleep in your own bed to-night. A lone woman is troubled with such dreams and such thoughts, that she’s afeard of herself, sometimes. Pray, tarry with me this night, dear husband, of all nights in the year!”

“My love and my Faith,” replied young Goodman Brown, “of all nights in the year, this one night must I tarry away from thee. My journey, as thou callest it, forth and back again, must needs be done ‘twixt now and sunrise. What, my sweet, pretty wife, dost thou doubt me already, and we but three months married!”

“Then God bless you!” said Faith, with the pink ribbons, “and may you find all well, when you come back.”

“Amen!” cried Goodman Brown. “Say thy prayers, dear Faith, and go to bed at dusk, and no harm will come to thee.”

So they parted; and the young man pursued his way, until, being about to turn the corner by the meeting-house, he looked back and saw the head of Faith still peeping after him, with a melancholy air, in spite of her pink ribbons.

It all starts off nice and sweet but then it gets as sick and twisted as any slasher film. You can find a copy at your local library or bookstore or read it for free online.

 

Plays/Films (READ or SEE)

The Crucible by Arthur Miller (1953)

A powerful play about the Salem Witch Trials which also echoes the McCarthy witch hunts of the 1950’s.  This will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up because the truths of this play still run true today.

The Crucible is a 1953 play by the American playwright Arthur Miller. It is a dramatized and partially fictionalized story of the Salem witch trials that took place in the Province of Massachusetts Bay during 1692 and 1693. Miller wrote the play as an allegory of McCarthyism, when the U.S. government blacklisted accused communists. Miller himself was questioned by the House of Representatives’ Committee on Un-American Activities in 1956 and convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to identify others present at meetings he had attended.

If you can find a live production of this play to see or know of a movie version that FOLLOWS THE PLAY then by all means please see this.

 

The Devil’s Disciple (1959 movie, 1897 play)

The Devil’s Disciple is an 1897 play written by Irish dramatist George Bernard Shaw. The play is Shaw’s eighth, and after Richard Mansfield’s original 1897 American production it was his first financial success, which helped to affirm his career as a playwright. It was published in Shaw’s 1901 collection Three Plays for Puritans together with Captain Brassbound’s Conversion and Caesar and Cleopatra. Set in Colonial America during the Revolutionary era, the play tells the story of Richard Dudgeon, a local outcast and self-proclaimed “Devil’s disciple”. In a twist characteristic of Shaw’s love of paradox, Dudgeon sacrifices himself in a Christ-like gesture despite his professed Infernal allegiance.

OMG I love this movie. I love this play. Such a fun story. The movie stars Kurt Douglas and Burt Lancaster (who are both hotter than a room full of Helmsworth brothers.)

Either see the play or the film version. This is one of my favorite movies.

 

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Next week I’ll be featuring two new books that are about men’s health, friendship, and more American history.

If you’re looking for some great blog reading check out the 2019 Nano Pablano Cheer Peppers. You’ll thank me for it later.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

A Toast of Thanksviging... and other stuff

Juliette’s Monday Book Club: Stories for the Holidays (from Arbor Day to Christmas, to Halloween to Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day and more)

The end of the year holiday season is here. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, then on to a new year with even MORE holidays.

To get you in the mood I recommend the following holiday themed anthologies. The stories range from hilarious. to sentimental, to frightening, to romantic, and more.

Both books are great for someone wanting a quick fix, a new tradition, or just a damn good story. Did I mention cheap thrills?

These are from the creative minds of WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants.) Proceeds to to MS Research to help support our fellow writers and friends who have MS.

Both books are available on Amazon, B&N, and with other online book sellers. Both are available in digital and paperback versions.

 

Tinsel Tales

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Experience the holidays through our eyes…
the magic, the memories, some warm and some bittersweet…
in this treasury of holiday-themed stories and poetry from the writers of WPaD.

Tinsel Tales 2: Holiday Hootenanny

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It’s a Holiday Hootenanny! In this anthology, you will find more than just Christmas stories. WPaD is proud to present our favorite fiction from holidays all year round, from Halloween to Arbor Day, ranging from sentimental to a bit on the dark side. An entertaining read for any season.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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