2019 Summer Reading: Beauty, Brutality, Reflection, Love, Verse, and Humor

This morning I pulled four books off of my self. Four books by two authors.

This morning, and most mornings, I can tell a story, but I am not a master of words. Both of these authors put together words in a way that is pure art. The word “wonder” comes to mind. I am in awe.

These are books to savor. They include poetry, short stories, and a gentle calling.

Jon Obermeyer

I met Jon Obermeyer at a reading in Fair Oaks, California last summer. I was taken by his words. Like I said before it is all about the words. Jon is also just a great guy; smart, friendly, great sense of humor.

I’ve featured two of his books today. He has many.

Wingspan

by Jon Obermeyer

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The official description: The 70 new poems in “Wingspan” reflects poet Jon Obermeyer’s wide ranging interests and geographic wanderings. A native of Santa Barbara, CA, Jon has lived most of his adult life in North Carolina (with a short detour to west Florida). In this third collection of poetry, Jon explores his West Coast roots and his East Coast habitats, the delights of parenting, creative work and exploring the natural wold, and musings about turning 60. In a confident, original voice Jon reminds us what is important and what keeps us going, riding the thermals. “What defines Jon Obermeyer’s poetry is a trust of plain speech and sure-footed humility; a willingness to let circumstance wash over, but not wash away.” Terry L. Kennedy, author of New River Breakdown “Jon Obermeyer was a student of the brilliant Robert Watson and one thing he learned from Watson was to find his own voice…diction, lyricism, and meaning uniting to let us see what he sees, hear what he hears, feel what he feels.” Kelly Cherry, author of The Life and Death of Poetry: Poems (LSU Press) “Jon Obermeyer is one of those poets who goes right for the gut. His words are bright, penetrating, clean as a bone. In this collection, he talks about tectonic plates, English invaders, and red-eye gravy in a spiritual way….He listens. He listens closely. That’s his secret. I’ve never met anyone with a better ear to the ground. He’s not trying to solve anything.” John Miller, from the Foreword

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Centripetal Force and Other Stories

by Jon Obermeyer

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Official Description: David Sedaris wrote, “A good short story should take me out of myself and then stuff me back in, outsized, now, and uneasy with the fit.” Sixteen stories are included in Jon Obermeyer’s second collection of short fiction. Both cautionary and comic, these post-2008 financial meltdown tales feature characters who are caught off guard, in their personal lives and in financial status. A divorced man finds witnessing the aftermath of a horrific highway accident strangely purifying. A retired auto inspection mechanic finds himself kicked out of an art crawl open house, and it triggers flashback to an incident on a high school football field. A homeowner and father worries that the ex-con handyman fixing his termite-damaged subflooring might also be a suspect in a local murder. Two couples, one wealthy, the other struggling financially, vacation together in Italy, as one marriage disintegrates and the other relationship is strangely affirmed. A woman is forced to choose a way to assuage the hurt of an absent boyfriend over a holiday weekend, possibly reuniting with a former finance. An unemployed poet decides to open a retail store devoted solely to one book, his 400-page opus about the working man. The author in his preface writes: “For two years in the early part of this century, I wrote the annual circus program for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. I ventured each December to Ringling “Winter Quarters” at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, and spent three weeks interviewing the performers and watching the new acts in rehearsal. “To make the circus interesting for the 12-year-old boys who were the target audience for the book, we planned a series of graphics alongside the text. These visual, small nuggets based on the science behind the circus, comprised what my editor John Miller called our “Dorling-Kindersley” approach. “That’s when I first learned the difference between Centripetal Force (center seeking) and Centrifugal Force (center fleeing). The Ringling equestrian act, circa 2002, worked on the defying the principle of Centrifugal Force, keeping the horses contained the small ring as they spun around it at fast speed. This act was known as “Little and Big,” because horses and small dogs were involved. “So, what keeps us from flying off the surface of our spinning planet into Deep Space? It’s gravity mostly, but I might argue there’s a bit of centripetal force at work, a subtler form of grounding. What keeps us from flying off the proverbial handle? What distinguishes that line between sane and in-sane? “Fiction, like poetry, keeps us from becoming scatterlings. It’s my job as a kind of Ringmaster, the professional artist, to salvage these little events that might have big import when laid out in a narrative arc; Little and Big. I’m going to take the tiny things that have happened to me, or something I’ve heard about from others or in a public forum, and whip them into an enjoyable froth, with some dialogue and description.”

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Ra Avis

You are loved. You are frightfully wondrous. Those are the words you will read or hear when the name Ra Avis comes up.

I’ve known Ra through blogging since 2012. I came across her words and her beautiful heart. Since then I’ve met other wonderful bloggers through her. I’ve also shared her work and message.

Ra is a dinosaur with a dinosaur heart. She is also a woman with a great capacity for life, joy, resilience, humor, words, and all things good.

Rarasaur.com

Snack Nasty

Prison Poetry by Ra Avis

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This book is both brutal and beautiful. Verse.

From the back of the book: The stories told here don’t always fall sinn-side up. They are the scrambled and fried edges of prison life. They are the illusion of dignity, the inconsistency of justice, and the fluidity (and fluids of the human condition. These are the true stories from my 438 days of incarceration.

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Dinosaur-Hearted

by Ra Avis

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This is a book that will inspire you and make you smile. Trivia: I have my own dinosaur heart necklace that I wear when I give docent tours at the art museum.

Official description: This book is a gentle call to happiness in a time of healing, and a reminder that — wherever you are, whoever you are– you are loved.

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I’ll see you next Monday for more reading suggestions. Since school has started in most locations, and September is here, I will be changing the name to Juliette’s Reading or something along those lines.

Happy Reading. And feel free to share your own reading suggestions.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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2019 Summer Reading: Old Bones and a Birthday

This past July 4th I was sitting on the side of a mountain overlooking Donner Lake and watching a spectacular fireworks show. As the fireworks went off we could see the train on the other side of Donner Lake moving along watching the show. Truckers and cars along the highway also stopped to view the fireworks.

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We were there for my daughter’s 20th birthday. The dogs are Brody and Alice. I had to show off this cake – made by my daughter’s boyfriend’s mom.

I’m from Sacramento, and I’ve spent a lot of time around Donner Lake. Needless to say everything the ghosts of the Gold Rush, and transcontinental railroad workers are still around, as well as the ghosts from the ill fated Donner Party.

Let’s go back to October of 1846. The Donners and the Reeds were two families who headed up a group of folks coming out to California to start a new life. From the get go it was a total shit storm of misdirections, grumbling among the travelers, and bad decisions.

When the “Donner Party” finally made it to what is now Donner Lake, they were only what is now a 90 minute drive from my house outside of Sacramento. Unfortunately there was no Interstate 80 to take them down the hill, no snowplows, no tow truck, no park rangers, no nothing. They were trapped by an unusually heavy snow fall and had to spend the winter in a high mountain wilderness. Many survived. Many did not. Of course, you all know, and I know you’ve been waiting for me to say this, many ate the bodies of their traveling companions (yes humans, they’d already eaten their horses, cattle, and dogs.)

The members of this unassuming and ill-fated group had no idea they’d be so famous. They also had no idea that the frozen lake they camped by would become a California State Park, and a favorite vacation spot. We go up for a day trip there all the time.

Descendants of the Donners, Reeds, and other members of the Donner Party are still living in the Sacramento area.

Which brings me back to 2019 SUMMER READING.

For years I’ve been reading ALL of the books by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I’ve listed many of them in my past reading lists on vampiremaman.com.

THANK YOU to the authors for so many hours of fun reading.

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Preston & Child

I love their books. Some of the stories are so far fetched and out there that you’d think a Vampire like me wouldn’t be reading them, but hey, I read for FUN. And you know, I’m sort of out there far fetched myself.

I am so excited because my copy of their newest book OLD BONES has finally arrived.

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This is the official description:

Nora Kelly, a young curator at the Santa Fe Institute of Archaeology, is approached by historian Clive Benton with a once-in-a-lifetime proposal: to lead a team in search of the so-called “Lost Camp” of the tragic Donner Party. This was a group of pioneers who earned a terrible place in American history when they became snow-bound in the California mountains in 1847, their fate unknown until the first skeletonized survivors stumbled out of the wilderness, raving about starvation, murder-and cannibalism.

Benton tells Kelly he has stumbled upon an amazing find: the long-sought diary of one of the victims, which has an enigmatic description of the Lost Camp. Nora agrees to lead an expedition to locate and excavate it-to reveal its long-buried secrets.

Once in the mountains, however, they learn that discovering the camp is only the first step in a mounting journey of fear. For as they uncover old bones, they expose the real truth of what happened, one that is far more shocking and bizarre than mere cannibalism. And when those ancient horrors lead to present-day violence on a grand scale, rookie FBI agent Corrie Swanson is assigned the case…only to find that her first investigation might very well be her last.

As soon as I finish the deliciously wonderful  book I’m reading now (Tight Rope by Amanda Quick) I will devour Old Bones.

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Donner Lake

 

Today’s post was brought to you by my coffee cup, which is now unfortunately empty, and my busy day. I’ll have more reading fun next Monday.

It will be 102F here today. I don’t know about where you are but I plan on staying cool, editing MY BOOK, and maybe getting in a little reading. Alice the dog also is getting her nails clipped but then again that is an entirely different blog post.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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2019 Summer Reading: Chilling and Thrilling

Monday is here so that means time to start a new book, or at least time to start thinking about what you’re going to read next.

Right now I’m in the middle of reading not one, but TWO, books – a novel and a horror anthology.

Tales to Chill Your Bones to

by Michael Haberfelner

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Michael Haberfelner is a master story teller. Yes, I’m a fan. I’ll make this quick. I love his style. It is different. He writes like a true story teller. I can just hear him saying, “gather round little children and I’ll tell you a story,” as yellow and red glowing eyes twinkle in the woods behind you.

I don’t want to say his style is old fashioned because it really isn’t, but it is comforting, while at the same time embracing the reader in unexpected, entertaining, and scary horror. Take my word for it. I’m really enjoying this book.

The official description: A collection of short stories and mini-plays ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous, from the post-apocalyptic to the weirdly romantic, tales about robots, demons and rats, about potholes, cuddly toys and shopping mall Santas, about love and death and everything in between, tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by the twisted mind of screenwriter Michael Haberfelner. Stories collected in this volume revolve around such things as … – the fate of a bookkeeper in the nuclear aftermath – artificial intelligence gone horribly wrong – a visit to the gynecologist one would rather forget – shrunken heads, quite a few of them – secret thoughts feeding the dreams of others – a Christmas wish gone horribly wrong – inappropriate jokes about moles – the deceiving kindness of strangers… and scores of other things that ought to disturb and entertain you at the same time. Enjoy – if you dare …

Michael Haberfelner also has work in the latest WPaD Anthology Creepies 3 and has contributed to many other WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants) books.

I am honored to have Michael as a fellow author and a friend. However, even if I didn’t know him I’d still love his writing. I’m looking forward to seeing what he writes in the future.

Judgment

By Joseph Finder

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I’ve been looking for new authors, both mainstream and indie. My big find of NYT Best Selling authors this summer has been Joseph Finder.

I’m in the middle of this book so I’ll tell you what I think so far. I LIKE IT. There is a court room, revenge, family drama, teens, a sexy stranger, and MURDER. The best thing is believable characters and a male author who knows how to write female characters. Thank you Mr. Finder. I don’t know what happens next but I know I won’t be disappointed.

When I first read the description of Judgement I have to admit I thought of Dirty Blonde by Lisa Scottoline. Dirty Blonde is in my top ten favorite books of all time. Thank you Lisa Scottoline.

I’m glad I took my chances and picked up with something that is entirely different and the perfect book for summer reading. I know I’ll be reading more Joseph Finder novels in the future.

The official description: New York Times bestselling author Joseph Finder returns with an explosive new thriller about a female judge and the one personal misstep that could lead to her—and her family’s—downfall.

It was nothing more than a one-night stand. Juliana Brody, a judge in the Superior Court of Massachusetts, is rumored to be in consideration for the federal circuit, maybe someday the highest court in the land. At a conference in a Chicago hotel, she meets a gentle, vulnerable man and has an unforgettable night with him—something she’d never done before. They part with an explicit understanding that this must never happen again.

But back home in Boston, Juliana realizes that this was no random encounter. The man from Chicago proves to have an integral role in a case she’s presiding over–a sex-discrimination case that’s received national attention. Juliana discovers that she’s been entrapped, her night of infidelity captured on video. Strings are being pulled in high places, a terrifying unfolding conspiracy that will turn her life upside down.  But soon it becomes clear that personal humiliation, even the possible destruction of her career, are the least of her concerns, as her own life and the lives of her family are put in mortal jeopardy.

In the end, turning the tables on her adversaries will require her to be as ruthless as they are.

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For as long as I can remember I’ve always loved a good story. I love reading them. I love telling them. For me, finding good storytellers is like finding gold, or even something more valuable. For the rest of the summer (and maybe beyond) I’ll continue to share my book finds, and tell you what I’m reading, or what is on my “to read” list.

I’m adding all of my summer reading posts to a link on the side bar of my blog. It will be up by July 2nd, if not sooner.

Happy reading. And as always share books with your friends, your kids, your lovers, your grandma, and everyone else who crosses your path.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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It’s ALIVE!

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CREEPIES 3: NIGHTMARES ON DEVIANT STREET

Writers, Poets, and Deviants (WPaD) have come out with their 11th Short Story Anthology and I AM DOING THE HAPPY DANCE.

A bloodthirsty refrigerator…
A murderous pothole…
Legends of mysterious monsters…
Ghosts and magic…
And much more!

A chilling collection of stories from the twisted minds of Writers, Poets and Deviants:
Volume 3 of WPaD’s popular Creepies series.

by WPaD (Author), Mandy White (Author), Diana Garcia (Author), Marla Todd (Author), Michael Haberfelner (Author), David Hunter (Author), Mike Cooley (Author), Soleil Daniels(Author), Lea Anne Guettler (Author), Debra Lamb (Author), and more!

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This anthology includes stories that will scare you silly, make you think, maybe even make you laugh.

And as with all WPaD anthologies, proceeds go to MS charities.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

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It’s a Holiday Hootenanny!

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It’s a Holiday Hootenanny! In this anthology, you will find Christmas stories and more. 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.

Now FREE or exceptionally low priced on Amazon.com

Get your copy today, read it, leave a review of any of our books and I’ll send you something nice (like a FREE poster) while supplies last.

Also NEW from WPAD: Weirder Tales.

Get the book. Be amazed at how good some of these stories are. Have fun. Get a free poster (offer applies on ALL WPaD Anthologies)

 

Weirder Tales

Weirder Tales – Now Available on Amazon and other fine online bookstores. Proceeds to to MS Research.

Happy Reading!

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Weirder Tales

Coming later this month from WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants) Weirder Tales – an Omnibus of Odd Ditties.Weirder Tales

Featuring weird tales from: Benedict, Cooley, Daniels, Fletcher, Garcia, Guettler, Haberfelner, Hunter, Kemp, Kings, Lamb, Merline, Nocera, Roland, Todd, Turley, and White.

There is still time to get your own coveted Strange Adventures in a Deviant Universe poster while supplies last. Click here for more information.

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WPaD is the acronym for Writers, Poets and Deviants. We are a diverse group of writers who came together on the Internet to support and encourage each other.

Our collaborative works are charity fundraisers, with a percentage of royalties being donated to Multiple Sclerosis in support of members of our group who live with MS. WPaD books are available worldwide in paperback and ebook. For more information, please visit our website: http//wpad.weebly.com

To see more of Jason’s art at (J Harrison Kemp, Tenkara Studios) and contact information go to:

https://www.facebook.com/tenkarastudios/

https://tenkarastudios.weebly.com

 

~ Juliette Kings aka Vampire Maman
and Marla Todd aka Regular Mom