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

 

Short Story Sunday: School Night (and a poll)

This week I have an excerpt from a novel I started AND a poll. Would you read this book? Yes, this is a rough rough draft but if I polished it up…
By the way, this isn’t a Vampire story.

It is all just a bunch of strange physics!

School Night

Advanced Physics.

Dr. Jackson Bartello

Tom looked at the white board relieved he was in the right classroom. This was Back-to-School-Night at his kid’s new high school. Oh boy.

Parents wandered into the classroom, squeezing into small plastic and laminated wood desks. Tom’s 6’3” frame hardly fit. He swore the desks were never this small when he was in high school.

Intentionally avoiding conversation with other parents he studied the hand written schedule his son Declan had given him.

First Period: Advanced Physics – Dr. B (Bartello) – HIPSTER GEEK EXCEPTIONALLY COOL GUY. Say something good about me. Seriously.

A large woman pushed herself into the desk next to Tom, still wearing her nurses uniform with a cartoon cat print on the top. Her brown hair was short and practical, but her face was pretty in a sort of old time glamour girl kind of way. She smiled at Tom. He smiled back to be polite.

At the front of the class stood a blond haired girl wearing a school tee shirt, and the kind of self-assured plastered on smile of an experienced politician. Tom figured she was Dr. Bartello’s student assistant Katie Hunter.

According to his daughter Rowan, Katie Hunter had recently changed her name to Kat, because she was dating a boy named Hunter Katz. Kat Hunter and Hunter Katz. It was all incredibly cute. Declan had said Kat and Hunter were also the two smartest kids in the school. Tom thought if they were that smart they’d stay away from romance.

“Hi Roxy,” the girl said to the woman in the cat uniform.

“Hey, Katie, excuse me, Kat. Good to see you.”

Katie turned to Tom. “You’re Declan’s dad.”

Tom smiled. “Yes, I am. How’d you know?

“You look just like him.” Her voice was deeper than most girls her age and lacked the singsong upswings at the end of her sentences.

“Everyone loves Declan,” said the woman called Roxy. “I’m Roxy Taylor, Jordan’s mom.”

“Tom Mather. Good to meet you.” He had no idea who Jordan was.

“Your wife Sage is great. We’re all so happy she agreed to be the advisor for the Student Technology Team.”

That was news to Tom. “Technology Team, sure, Sage loves her technology.” He gave an uncomfortable laugh. Sage was always great. She couldn’t help it; even after their lives fell completely apart she continued to wear her mask of greatness.

He’d encouraged Sage to take her dream job on the other side of the country. The new job paid twice their combined income. He would sell his law practice and work from home. They’d make a new start. She wouldn’t sleep with other men anymore. Life would pretend to be good.

Tom glanced around the classroom again. The other dads were relaxed slobs in cargo shorts and Dockers. He couldn’t imagine Sage being attracted to any of them.

The bell rang for first period to start. Bartello still hadn’t show up. A phone on the desk vibrated and danced around for a second. Tom noticed that a set of keys and half finished iced coffee next to the phone.

Katie cleared her throat then made an announcement. “Sign in if you haven’t already. Your kid will get points for it. I um, know Dr. Bartello has some handouts. Just a sec and I’ll get them.”

She went to the tall cabinet on the wall next to where Tom was sitting.

Katie tried to open the door but it wouldn’t slide. Tom noticed a latch at the top. “I’ll get it “Here you go,” he said with a wink to Katie as he slid the door open.

From the inside of the cabinet a dead Jackson Bartello faced Tom. One eye was closed, the other a squint. In the fraction of a second Tom’s brain registered the blood and gaping cut across Bartello’s throat. Before Tom could step back the full dead weight of the man fell forward against him.

Tom could feel himself falling but couldn’t stop the momentum. He remembered hearing himself say oh fuck, when the back of his head slammed into a desk, then bounced on the floor. He saw sparks, and the pain nearly knocked him out. He caught his breath and found himself flat on the floor. Bartello’s head was twisted at an almost ninety degree angle unnaturally resting on the inside of Tom’s left thigh, with the rest of his body on Tom’s legs and feet.

Bartello’s throat had been cut from ear to ear, all the way to the bone. Tom could see what might have been bone, or the esophagus. The cut was clean with no ragged edges. Bartello’s hands were bound behind him with his own black and teal atomic age print tie. He was still warm.

Tom could hardly catch his breath. Roxy was already up out of the desk and by his side. “Roxy, help get him off of me.”

She held Tom’s arm and helped him slide out from under the dead man. He felt Roxy’s hand go to the back of his head.

“You’re bleeding.” Then she yelled, “Somebody get me some paper towels NOW.”

The parents looked on in shocked silence. Then the murmurs of “Oh my God,” and soft gasps began. It wasn’t like in the movies where everyone screams and runs when a body appears. One was calling 911, another the school front office.

“Tom, Mr. Mather,” Katie said, sounding as if she were being strangled.

“I’m OK,” said Tom. He reached to the back of his head and felt the blood. He tried to stand, but couldn’t get his body to work for him. “Katie, don’t panic. You can do that later. Right now let’s get everyone out of the room. Then find your parents. Roxy, Find my wife, please.”

Tom looked at Bartello again. He couldn’t imagine cutting into flesh with that kind of force. It was too intimate for him. He never touched his marks. He’d always used a gun with a silencer, with the goal to always keep things clean and anonymous. But this killing wasn’t business. It was personal.

 

_____

More to come…

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman