Juliette’s Monday Book Club: Books I Read To My Kids

Some books will always be favorites even when we’re all grown up.

Vampire Maman

When I was a child there were a lot of books with pretty pictures, but it has been in the past 50 years that the children’s book industry has blossomed into something truly magical and inspiring for both children and adults.

I’ll put links to Amazon and other sites on here, but I found out about most of these books by word of mouth or GOING TO MY LOCAL LIBRARY. Libraries ROCK – I urge you to GO to your local library and take advantage of all of the useful services they provide. You can also find many of the out of print books on eBay or used book stories (real life and online.)

Sammy the Seal by Sid Hoff

We found an old copy of this at our local library sale. What a find! Sammy the seal decides to go to school but finds it isn’t really the best…

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Juliette’s Book Club: Close to Home

We’re experiencing a pandemic. Fires blaze around us. The air is filled with smoke. Social changes and politics are beyond volatile. I’m still waiting for the space aliens to land or for my dog to start talking. All of that and the new fucking block editor. In the meantime I’m reading two books that are extremely close to home. I had no idea when I started these how close.

The Brief History of the Dead
by Kevin Brockmeier

Official Description: The City is inhabited by those who have departed Earth but are still remembered by the living. They will reside in this afterlife until they are completely forgotten. But the City is shrinking, and the residents clearing out. Some of the holdouts, like Luka Sims, who produces the City’s only newspaper, are wondering what exactly is going on. Others, like Coleman Kinzler, believe it is the beginning of the end. Meanwhile, Laura Byrd is trapped in an Antarctic research station, her supplies are running low, her radio finds only static, and the power is failing. With little choice, Laura sets out across the ice to look for help, but time is running out. Kevin Brockmeier alternates these two storylines to create a lyrical and haunting story about love, loss and the power of memory.

My Note: I am loving this book. It is unexpected and beautifully written

Second Sleep
by Robert Harris 

Official Description: 1468. A young priest, Christopher Fairfax, arrives in a remote Exmoor village to conduct the funeral of his predecessor. The land around is strewn with ancient artefacts–coins, fragments of glass, human bones–which the old parson used to collect. Did his obsession with the past lead to his death?
     Fairfax becomes determined to discover the truth. Over the course of the next six days, everything he believes–about himself, his faith, and the history of his world–will be tested to destruction.

My note: This is not the 1468 you’re expecting.

As I write this my computer is acting like a ghost is in it so I’m going to be quick. I’m in Aptos, California right now. We are mostly out of the smoke. The object that looks like a giant dead fish in the water is a sunken ship. Just thought I’d share last night’s sunset.

Read a good book. Stay safe. Wear your mask. Pet your dog. Talk to your kids. Stay sane. Kiss a Vampire (it is safe to do that you know.)

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Juliette’s Book Club: Apocalypse A GO-GO!

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Now available in paperback!

Goin’ Extinct Too
Apocalypse A GO-GO!

It was so much fun the first time, we decided to take another stab at ending the world in as many creative ways as possible.

When we began work on our second apocalyptic anthology in early 2019, long before the world had ever heard of COVID-19, we never would have dreamed that toilet paper and hand sanitizer would become symbols of the apocalypse.

The pandemic pushed our release to a later date than anticipated. We assumed readers had more important things on their minds and might not be in the mood for apocalyptic fiction at that time. The lockdown allowed our writers more time to write, resulting in a larger collection of stories than originally anticipated. The backdrop of the pandemic colored the mood of some of the pieces, as you will see.

We think of this book as the Extra-Big Bonus Pandemic Edition, written in a reality stranger than fiction.

Stay safe, wash your hands, and may your quarantine dreams be sweet ones.

~ The authors of WPaD

Be sure to pick up a copy of the first Goin’ Extinct. (If you haven’t already done so)

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Available in paperback and electronic ebook versions on Amazon, Good Reads, Barnes and Noble and other fine online booksellers.

 

We are Writers, Poets and Deviants, AKA WPaD.

We are an independent publishing group made up of writers who collaborate on thematic anthologies to raise funds for MS research.

We meet on the internet to share ideas and challenge ourselves to write in different genres. The stories and poetry we compose are compiled into books, which are sold to help raise funds in support of group members who live with MS.

To date, WPaD has published twelve books, with a thirteenth already in progress. Wanna know a secret? Number thirteen will be our Paranormal anthology. 

Books by WPaD:

Goin’ Extinct Too (apocalyptic ~ published in 2020)
Creepies 3 (horror ~ published in 2019)
Tinsel Tales 2 (holiday ~ published in 2018)
Weirder Tales (bizarre ~ published in 2018)
Strange Adventures in a Deviant Universe (science fiction ~ published in 2017)
Creepies 2 (horror ~ published in 2015)
Goin’ Extinct (apocalyptic ~ published in 2014)
Tinsel Tales (holiday ~ published in 2013)

Dragons and Dreams (fantasy ~ published in 2013)
Passion’s Prisms (romance ~ published in 2013)
Creepies (horror ~ published in 2012)
Nocturnal Desires (erotica ~ published in 2012)

Stock up for summer reading, or stock up for fall and winter. We don’t know what might happen next but at least we’ll have some great stories from WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants.)

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  • Happy Reading
  • Wear a mask
  • Social Distance
  • Kiss a Vampire
  • Be kind
  • Check in on those who might need extra help, might be extra lonely, or be technically challenged.
  • Talk to your kids.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Online Party and Live Short Story Reading

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My friends Jon and Brian are having a Book Launch Party and you’re invited.

I’ve been to their events before and it is well worth the time.

This is a benefit (donate what you want to, if you want to) for Project Open Hand.

Project Open Hand’s mission is to improve health outcomes and quality of life by providing nutritious meals to the sick and vulnerable, caring for and educating our community.

Our vision is for a healthy California for the sick and vulnerable through nutrition.

Founded in 1985, Project Open Hand is a nonprofit organization that provides meals with love to critically ill neighbors and seniors. Our food is like medicine, helping clients recover from illness, get stronger, and lead healthier lives.

Every day, we prepare 2,500 nutritious meals and provide 200 bags of healthy groceries to help sustain our clients as they battle serious illnesses, isolation, or the health challenges of aging. We serve San Francisco and Oakland, engaging more than 125 volunteers daily to nourish our community.

Jon’s readings are always a joy. Brian is always fun. Special guest Maureen Kadish Sherbondy will also join in the festivities. Set aside some time for yourself during the pandemic and get a positive mental charge right from the comfort of your own home. You won’t even need to wear your mask.

Yes, something is happening in August 2020 that isn’t a disaster.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Juliette’s Book Club: An Eclectic Mix

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Forgive me for the fuzzy photo in the early morning light. Then again sometimes everything seems fuzzy in those wee hours when the only things up are birds, garbage trucks, and coyotes. Oh yes, and cats. My cats had a serious case of the zoomies this morning. They must have sped like lightening up and down the stairs and hallways of my house at least seventy five times. The neighborhood yappy little shit for brains dogs have also been shrilly barking for over an hour while their owners sip their coffee cluelessly not realizing how much everyone hates them. These people also flood the gutters. 

Most of us have that stack, shelf, or bag of books we are going to read next. Mine is quite the mixed bag right now, but an interesting bag. You know, it is like when you go to the grocery store and find yourself with a bag containing a bottle of wine, a sponge, apples, dog food, aluminum foil, and coffee beans. A mixed bag.

Right now I’m reading Masked Prey by John Sanford. It is a Lucas Davenport Novel. I’ve been reading this series since Rules of Prey came out in 1989. Like most longtime readers I’ve seen the characters grow, grow up, and adjust to changing times. I love these books. Last night I was telling my husband that I appreciate a writer like John Sanford who can write believable characters be they male, female, children, teens, young, old, of any racial, cultural, or other background. Great characters and great dialogue make his stories worth coming back to.

 

On my Need to Read Next list are the following books: 

The Cold Six Thousand by James Ellroy

My daughter gave me this book for my birthday. She said it sounded like something I’d like to read. It is a long book – 672 pages. It should be quite entertaining and extremely interesting.

The official description: The internationally acclaimed author of the L.A. Quartet and The Underworld USA Trilogy, James Ellroy, presents another literary noir masterpiece of historical paranoia.

In this savagely audacious novel, James Ellroy plants a pipe bomb under the America in the 1960s, lights the fuse, and watches the shrapnel fly. On November 22, 1963 three men converge in Dallas. Their job: to clean up the JFK hit’s loose ends and inconvenient witnesses. They are Wayne Tedrow, Jr., a Las Vegas cop with family ties to the lunatic right; Ward J. Littell, a defrocked FBI man turned underworld mouthpiece; and Pete Bondurant, a dope-runner and hit-man who serves as the mob’s emissary to the anti-Castro underground.

It goes bad from there. For the next five years these night-riders run a whirlwind of plots and counter-plots: Howard Hughes’s takeover of Vegas, J. Edgar Hoover’s war against the civil rights movement, the heroin trade in Vietnam, and the murders of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. Wilder than L. A. Confidential, more devastating than American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand establishes Ellroy as one of our most fearless novelists.

 

My Sister. The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

I was looking forward to reading this book just because of the title. It is described as darkly comic. Unfortunately it slid under the couch and was hiding there for months until my husband was moving furniture around about a week ago.

The official description: NOMINATED FOR THE 2019 BOOKER PRIZE
WINNER OF THE LA TIMES BOOK PRIZE FOR MYSTERY/THRILLER
FINALIST FOR THE 2019 WOMEN’S PRIZE

Korede’s sister Ayoola is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead, stabbed through the heart with Ayoola’s knife. Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood (bleach, bleach, and more bleach), the best way to move a body (wrap it in sheets like a mummy), and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.

Korede has long been in love with a kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where she works. She dreams of the day when he will realize that she’s exactly what he needs. But when he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and how far she’s willing to go to protect her.

 

A Dog’s Way Home by W. Bruce Cameron

I love dogs. Everybody I know loves dogs. Dogs are great. My mother gave me this book. The paperback book I now have looks like it has been read by a dozen people, and probably has. I’m looking forward to this light and heartwarming tail (pun intended.)

The official description: This remarkable story of one endearing dog’s journey home after she is separated from her beloved human is directed by Charles Martin Smith and stars Ashley Judd, Edward James Olmos, Wes Studi, Alexandra Shipp, and Jonah Hauer-King. W. Bruce Cameron and his wife, Cathryn Michon, wrote the screenplay for the film.

With four hundred miles of dangerous Colorado wilderness separating one brave dog from her beloved person, Bella sets off on a seemingly impossible and completely unforgettable adventure home.

A Dog’s Way Home is a beautifully told, charming tale that explores the unbreakable bond between us and those we love. This is a fantastic and exhilarating journey of the heart that brilliantly speaks to the incredible power of love and resilience of spirit that tie us together–making it a perfect gift for everyone who’s ever loved a dog.

 

The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier

I’ve had this book for a couple of years and have no idea why it keeps getting put to the bottom of the pile. The description is super interesting. It will be read before the summer is out. This book might just be one of those tales you can’t forget because it is that good. I hope so.

The official description: From Kevin Brockmeier, one of this generation’s most inventive young writers, comes a striking new novel about death, life, and the mysterious place in between.

The City is inhabited by those who have departed Earth but are still remembered by the living. They will reside in this afterlife until they are completely forgotten. But the City is shrinking, and the residents clearing out. Some of the holdouts, like Luka Sims, who produces the City’s only newspaper, are wondering what exactly is going on. Others, like Coleman Kinzler, believe it is the beginning of the end. Meanwhile, Laura Byrd is trapped in an Antarctic research station, her supplies are running low, her radio finds only static, and the power is failing. With little choice, Laura sets out across the ice to look for help, but time is running out. Kevin Brockmeier alternates these two storylines to create a lyrical and haunting story about love, loss and the power of memory.

 

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Normally I do not have the patience to write book reviews other than saying, “WOW I LOVED IT,” or “I threw it in the recycle bin before I hit the first hundred pages.” My hope is that you go through my to-read pile and go through your own to-read pile. Then read, share, and leave a good review online if you like it.

Happy Summer Reading!

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Juliette’s Book Club: Cool Cats for Hot Summer Reading

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Oscar the Tuxedo Cat and Gloria the Calico Cat. It is too hot to go out and play today so they’re going to stay in and read.

 

I’ve always been slightly suspicious about people who say they don’t like cats. Three of my closest friends are allergic to cats but they still don’t hate them. My weirder than weird cat Angus used to visit a neighbor who was allergic to cats. When we weren’t home he’d scratch at her front door then go sleep on a corner of her couch for a few hours. Angus hated everyone except my husband and his friend across the street. Cats rock. I have two. They’re assholes and they’re completely devoted to me. I love them. I think I love almost every cat in the world. Today for your reading pleasure I’m suggesting THREE options for those who love cats, or just love a GREAT stories from master story tellers.

As a bonus I’ve included a short cat story at the end of this post.

Spence and Nameless

by

Dave Henderson

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I recently had the pleasure of meeting author Dave Henderson (online but hey, we’re still social distancing).

His stories about Spence are such a delight and so original. If you want to smile and like something a little different, a little odd, and exceptionally entertaining and well written check out his work.

The official description: Nameless is just a fella who values his solitude. His only companion is a big ol’ orange and white tabby cat named Spence. They are just livin’ the life, out in their shack outside town, ‘Close enough so it ain’t so bad to get supplies, and far enough out soz no one bothers much, and the sky is open at night.’ Until one day, when Spence disappears … and things get really fecked up.

Whatever you do, never get between a man and his cat.

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One of my favorite books of 2019. It is still one of my favorite new books. I can’t wait for the next one. It is a wild, crazy, and unexpected ride, AND there is a CAT.

Red Darkling

by L.A. Guttler

“Red Darkling”, is a runaway Science Fiction, Fantasy, Smart Thriller, Comedy, HIT. If you haven’t read it already you need to NOW.

I loved this book and can’t wait for the next one to come out.

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I’m a BIG FAN of Red and her cat and of course her Granny. For several years now I’ve been following Red’s adventures through L.A. Guettler’s short stories about Red. OMG you’ll fall in love with her.

Here is the official description:

Red Darkling’s ship is a weevil-infested piece of junk. Her smuggling business barely brings in enough credits to buy cheap beer. Alien creeps think a blaster can get them favors when their charm fails. Her only company is a glitchy cat and the occasional hook-up. Her life is dirty, dangerous, and lonely: just how she likes it.It all takes a turn for the worse when things start going well. A little too well. Partying with movie stars, weekends in paradise, troublesome people turning up dead-it’s maddening. Who is this anonymous benefactor, and why does he think she needs protecting?

Also check out the great cover by artist Jason Kemp. Nice.

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Gloria give this book 5 out of 5 stars

Strange Adventures in a Deviant Universe

WPaD Science Fiction Anthology

Looking for some Science Fiction AND cats? This is the book for you. I also have to add that this is another great cover from Jason Kemp.

I recommend all of the stories but especially these cat stories:

Rocket Cats are Go by David Hunter

and

Bonk by Lea Anne Guettler

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Now do you need a quick cat story fix? Well, here you go.

The Offer (a fairy tale with a wizard, a kitten and a mysterious stranger)

A Short Story by Juliette Kings

Miles was the official Royal Wizard to the Kingdom of the Moonbeam Mountains. What the fuck kind of name was that for a Kingdom?

“I will NEVER be as good as my dad.” he thought brooding in the dark under the night sky on the roof with a bottle of 80 proof Dragon Blood.

Sitting alone in his castle by the sea he thought of her, the princess who’d more or less left him for another man. Hell, he never had her. She’d always been in love with someone else. They’d been together for ten years. In ten years she’d told him a thousand times that she loved him but at the same time she was running a fantasy in her head about another guy.

For the past 6 years they’d lived with each other almost full-time. Their father’s were best friends. Hers was the King of the Northwestern Kingdom, his father was the Royal Wizard there and their mother’s were girlfriends. Everything was perfect, just like it was supposed to be. Every single year he’d proposed to her. Every single year she’d told him that she wanted to wait. Wait for what? Now he knew. She was waiting for another guy.

He called to have his horse ready and took off to the local pub. At least there he could keep his mind off of things.

Half way to the pub he stopped to pull his gloves out of his saddle bag. He heard a noise on the side of the road. A teeny tiny gray and white kitten ran towards him. It couldn’t have been more than six weeks old.

“Oh sweetie,” he whispered to the kitten, “I can’t leave you out here alone.” He tucked the tiny cat under his coat and continued on.

As he entered the village gate he could hear the band playing at the pub and already see friends lingering around the front door. “Deep breath Miles,” he thought to himself knowing everyone would ask about his princess. They knew he’d left her. They didn’t know why or for how long. He didn’t want to talk about it. Maybe he’d just put a spell on the place to make them all shut up about it, but ethics and his own code of decency stopped him from it. There is no crime in being curious.

After dropping his horse off in safe hands he greeted the people outside then went in. He could feel the small body purring inside of his coat. There was something about a cat that could make one forget everything. Cats were so pure and so decadent and so useless and so calming and so everything that made the universe worth living in. Cats represented all that was. Not good or bad just everything.

He caught his reflection in a window. Blonde hair, board shoulders, blue eyes, dimples on his boy-next-door cheeks and a scar across his neck that would tingle every time she kissed him, no matter what violent memories it brought him.

Everyone greeted him. Big points were scored with the ladies when he cradled the purring kitten in the crook of his arm. Damn that kitty was cute. She looked up at him and mewed a purr dripped sound that was absolutely toxic cute. He could never get enough of that feeling of pure joy and love.

After ordering a brew Miles did a few tricks for the patrons. They always asked and he was glad to give them some shows of blue sparks, wispy smoke dragons and fairies flying over their heads and levitating beer steins. It was all good fun. Fun was always good especially with the way he was feeling.

The fact that he’d been alone for a few months hadn’t gone unnoticed. He could hear the gossip behind his back. He could feel the single women watching him and wanting him. There was no reason for him to be alone at night but he wasn’t ready yet for company in his cold bed.

He heard a voice at his shoulder. “Missing your homeland Wizard?”

Miles turned around to see a tall exceptionally thin man standing at his shoulder. He wore a good suit and a sarcastic smile on his face.

The man continued to speak. “Do you miss a warm princess next to you in your cold bed? Do you wish your magic was more powerful? Do you wish you’d get the same respect and power as your father has? I can give you all of that.”

“It isn’t wise to attempt to provoke a wizard, even a piss poor attempt like yours. I don’t know you sir, but I’m here to enjoy an evening with friends. Now if you’ll excuse me and my cat we’ve got others to talk to,” Miles said to the tall thin man.

“Give me that kitten and I’ll grant you three wishes,” the stranger said in a voice so smooth it made Miles cringe.

“I don’t want your wishes and I’m sure as Hell not giving you my cat.”

At a large table he sat with friends, joking and listening to their stories, but his senses were wide open to any evil that lurked in the building. The tall thin stranger occupied himself with another group, but Miles could feel his presence.

The kitten purred and played with everyone at the table. There was nothing special or magic about her except that she was a cat. “Just a cat,” thought Miles, “nothing more.”

Hours later, after he’d had a successful evening with friends who’d done more than a good job of cheering him up and getting him out of his gloomy mood, Miles arrived home. His staff would be in bed so he put the horse to bed for the night, gathered the kitten back under his coat and headed for the front door. The moonlight made the dark pathway easy. He took a deep breath of the salt air and listened to the waves crashing on the beach below.

“Welcome to my castle by the sea dear kitten,” he told his small purring friend. “You look like a Lizzie to me. How about it? Do you like that name my dear?” The kitten meowed and purred.

Looking up he saw a figure on the cliff. It was the annoying thin stranger from the pub.

“Wizard, give me the cat and I will give you everything you desire. I can make your princess love you. I can make you famous. I can bring you riches.”

“Get off my property or I’ll…” he thought a moment for the bad things he could do then spoke. “What’s so special about the cat?”

“Your princess for the cat Miles. Say the word and you’ll have what your heart desires.”

“I don’t know who you are but I don’t want a woman who loves me because of a spell. I want her to love me for the right reason. I want her to fall for me in a nice long romantic way of her own accord. Love spells are bull shit. Every wizard with any talent knows that. And any man who knows what his heart desires and knows what true love feels like knows that.”

“Give me the cat.”

“Is she yours? Don’t lie to me man. I’ll know if you’re telling me a lie.”

The stranger halted a bit. “Well, no.”

“Then what is it? I don’t want any wishes and I don’t trust you with a helpless kitten. What do you really want? Is this some sort of test? Or are you just a creepy stalker? What is it? Tell me.”

“Do you love your princess?” The man asked him as if he was accusing Miles of cheating.

“Sure I do but, it’s none of your business.” None of anyone’s business that she was in love with someone else. “Get the Hell off of my property.” Miles blasted the ground in front of the man with a bolt of orange lightning. The man jumped back. “Go or the next one will hit you.”

The man was gone. Miles was alone in the kitchen with the kitten. “What was that about? Do you know?”

The kitten just purred.

Three wishes. He laughed out loud a bitter laugh. What would he need with three wishes. He’d worked hard for everything he had. He was proud of what he’d accomplished. Being a wizard, much less one in a foreign country, wasn’t always easy. People depended on him.

He thought of calling her, his princess, but he decided to let it go, at least for tonight. She had left him letters and messages but he couldn’t get past the pain of betrayal.

He wondered who the skinny guy was and why he wanted the cat. Three wishes. It wasn’t worth it. He’d never trade his soul or the tiny stray he’d found on the side of the road. After all, wasn’t it the same thing? He had shown compassion to a small beast. He’d shown his soul.

The kitten didn’t start to talk. He kissed the top of her tiny head but she didn’t turn into a princess.

Taking out a piece of paper and a pen he started to write.

Tonight a strange skinny man offered me three wishes in exchange for a small kitten I found on the side of the road. The man said he could make you love me. I wasn’t tempted by the offer. If you love me I want it to be honest and true for me. No magic. No games. No more lies. 

He wadded up the letter and made it vanish with a flash of blue smoke.  It was no use.  Heading up the stairs with the kitten in his arms he stopped at the sound of someone knocking on the door. “Damn you, I do not want your wishes.”

Jerking open the door Miles yelled, “I’m not giving you my kitten.”

But standing at the door wasn’t the tall skinny man, it was his princess. He brought her in and told her the story of the strange skinny man and the kitten. She listened in wonder and then they both went upstairs.

And did they live happily ever after? Maybe. Only time, or maybe the cat will tell.

~ end

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman