2019 Summer Reading: Long Books You’ll Savor

 

Some stories just can’t be told in three hundred and fifty pages.

Some stories need at least eight hundred pages, or twelve hundred, or even a few more than that.

For me long books are like road trips. Epic road trips. My kind of road trips.

Don’t be intimidated by long books. Read them. Savor them. Enjoy them. Add one to your summer reading list, even if you have to bring it into fall.

Seriously, I kid you not, I read It by Stephen King in one weekend. It is 1,138 pages. No problem. The next week I read The Stand, also by Stephen King . It is a little over 800 pages.

Here is my list. I might not have pictures for all of them. I don’t have exact page counts for all of them because that varies depending on addition and media, but all are long. I will give a brief line about each book. You can look up more about it on either your favorite online book site, go to a bookstore, or the library, or go to Wikipedia for more information. These are all books I have read (some more than once) and enjoyed.

So here we go…

The Stand by Stephen King

The ultimate epic battle of good and evil. You will never forget it. Never. Nobody does good and evil better than Stephen King.

Boy’s Life by Robert R. McCammon

I love this book so much. So will you. Take my word on it. You will laugh. You will cry. You will be amazed at how wonderful, and weird, and fun this book is.

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

All movie versions of this suck. The book is the story of a family, and a story about changing times, and one of the most beautifully written American stories ever. Read it.

Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

I know, I know, this is a Trilogy but I’m including this because you MUST read all of it. PLEASE if you have only seen the movies (which left out so many important parts) please read the book. The books are about friendship, change, love, and grit. We can all relate to the characters. I’ve always thought that Pippen was based off of me. I love these books. READ THE BOOKS. My copies are falling apart I have read them so many times.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

A man is tricked by someone (some asshole) he thought was his friend. He is imprisoned. His wife is wooed and won by his enemy. Then he escapes with a vast treasure and comes back as The Count of Monte Cristo and seeks revenge and love.

Also make sure you read Les Miserables by Dumas. Always read the original.

The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye

An epic tale of crossed love and crossed cultures.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Another book I’ve read many many times. Anna is in an unhappy marriage. In a world where divorce brings ruin she finds love outside of her marriage. But it is so much more than that. Just read it.

The Crystal Cave and The Hollow Hills
Two long books by Mary Stewart

Druce and Morcant approve of these books. A beautifully written pair of books about the life of Merlin the Wizard. I have read these books many many times.

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

More than just a western. This story will sweep you off of your feet. Take my word for it.

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Just out of the Dark Ages and edging towards the Middle Ages. You’ll love the characters. You’ll learn things you never imagined you’d know.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

An unexpected story of a boy who stole a famous painting and carried it with him through his life.

cat reads the classics

Until next Monday for more happy reading suggestions.

Click here for my entire line up of 2019 Summer Reading suggestions. 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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Until next Monday, happy reading.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

2019 Summer Reading: Escape into Reality – Nonfiction Adventures

2019 Summer Reading: Escape into Reality With Four Nonfiction Adventures

 

Today I’m featuring a quartet of absolutely wonderful books that will suck you into adventure, mystery, and places you’ve never imagined you’d be. You’ll meet a colorful, dangerous, interesting, lovely, and witty characters. Best of all it is all true.

Good nonfiction is a wonderful thing. I think about some of my favorites that I could read again and again and again. Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness is an autobiographical work by Edward Abbey is one book that should be on every book list and every book shelf. Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez moved my soul. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson made me think and also made me laugh almost unlike any book I’ve ever read.

Copies of these books, even those now out of print, can be found in libraries, on Amazon, B&N, eBay, your local used book store, and other online outlets. If you’re having trouble finding any of them let me know and I’ll help you look.

 

Attending Marvels – A Patagonian Journal

By George Gaylord Simpson

In 1930 George Taylor Simpson traveled to Argentina, was shot at, had a few exciting adventures, finally made his way to Patagonia, and dug for dinosaur bones.

This is on my list of top ten favorite books ever. Simpson will charm you, enlighten you, and inspire you. Attending Marvels is a marvel of a book. Look it up. Find a copy. Read it. It isn’t a long book so it is perfect for summer reading.

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The Lost City of the Monkey God

By Douglas Preston

Years ago I read a book called Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. Then I read Reliquary. THEN I read one of my favorite books by the pair, and favorite books by anyone – The Cabinet of Curiosities. Like many I was hooked on the adventures of Agent Pendergast and the many other characters Preston and Child created. I can’t wait to read their next book which involved the Donner Party.

A few years ago I read The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston. It was about American student Amanda Knox who had been accused of murder in Italy. This was my first test of nonfiction by Douglas Preston.

I was so excited when The Lost City of the Monkey God came out. Unfortunately half way through the book I lost The Lost City of the Monkey God. Fast forward to this year and I found it. I will finish it next week while I’m on a road trip.

But what is this book about?

In 2012 Preston joined a team of scientists to find The Lost City of the Monkey God, The White City, in the Amazon jungle. The story covers stories of explorers, interesting characters, snakes (this will scare the jeebers out of you), rain, rain, rain, amazing discoveries, bugs, and a mysterious illness. Oh, I forgot, TECHNOLOGY. Finding a lost city in a jungle is no small task. Take my word for it. This is a fun book.

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Eldorado – Adventures in the Path of Empire

By Bayard Taylor

I love this book.

In 1849 a young reporter (and poet) named Bayard Taylor left New York, traveled to California by the way of Panama (pre-canal), and wrote about it. He wasn’t looking for gold. Taylor was looking for stories. With brutal honesty, detail, humor, and an eye for detail he covers everything from the journey to California, to life in the mining camps, the new and growing cities of San Francisco and Sacramento, Volcanos, Rain, Society in California, robbers, a trip to Mexico, and more.

This is a brilliant first hand account of the California Gold Rush unlike anything you thought you knew about one of the most amazing events in the history of the world.

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Empire Express – Building the First Transcontinental Railroad

By David Howard Bain

This year is the 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad. Empire Express was recommended by a docent at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, CA. Believe me, that if a docent from the California State Railroad Museum recommends a book it will be good.

Empire Express is over seven hundred pages and covers a lot of territory. I haven’t read it yet, but what I’ve seen (thumbing through it) looks great. I know this book will be as exciting as the big personalities it covers. It is an adventure, a social history, a story about dreams, heartbreak, triumph, and how the United States was forever changed.

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No matter what you’re interested in, or what you like to read, I encourage everyone to try something new, go out of your comfort zones, take a chance, and seek out new adventures through books.

I’ll be back next Monday with more 2019 Summer Reading.

If you have any suggestions for non-fiction books please leave them in the comments. Please share!

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman.

 

 

 

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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2019 Summer Reading: A Very Bad Girl and Invisible Furies

The temperatures are going to reach into the triple digits today, so I’m thinking about upcoming trips to the coast, the mountains, and other cooler climates. That means books to bring along. I bring a book everywhere I go, no matter what the weather.

The two books I’m featuring today from my shelf have nothing in common except that both are supposed to be extremely interesting and extremely good.

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The Heart’s Invisible Furies

by John Boyne

My husband is from an Irish family so I originally got this one for him.

This is the official description:

From the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Boy In the Striped Pajamas, a sweeping, heartfelt saga about the course of one man’s life, beginning and ending in post-war Ireland

Cyril Avery is not a real Avery — or at least, that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?

Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his many years, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country, and much more.

In this, Boyne’s most transcendent work to date, we are shown the story of Ireland from the 1940s to today through the eyes of one ordinary man. The Heart’s Invisible Furies is a novel to make you laugh and cry while reminding us all of the redemptive power of the human spirit.

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Bad Blood – Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

By John Carreyrou

My kids talked me into getting this one. It is a fascinating story. A young woman who is brilliant, beautiful, and has the determination and leadership skills we all want our kids to have goes down the wrong path. Why? Greed. Let’s get reading.

The official write up:

NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER •  NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY: NPR, The New York Times Book Review, Time, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post • The McKinsey Business Book of the Year

The full inside story of the breathtaking rise and shocking collapse of Theranos, the one-time multibillion-dollar biotech startup founded by Elizabeth Holmes—now the subject of the HBO documentary The Inventor—by the prize-winning journalist who first broke the story and pursued it to the end.

“The story is even crazier than I expected, and I found myself unable to put it down once I started. This book has everything: elaborate scams, corporate intrigue, magazine cover stories, ruined family relationships, and the demise of a company once valued at nearly $10 billion.” —Bill Gates

In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup “unicorn” promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood testing significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fundraising round that valued the company at more than $9 billion, putting Holmes’s worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work.

A riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a tale of ambition and hubris set amid the bold promises of Silicon Valley.

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Unlike my choices last week these are fairly new books (2017 and 2018.) You’ll be able to find both online, in bookstores (yes there are still a few left) and in your local library.

For more book suggestions and to find out what I’m reading this summer check out my other 2019 Summer Reading Posts. I’m posting every Monday for the rest of the summer.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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2019 Summer Reading: My Old Favorites

Since I’m on vacation…and it is summer I’m going to repost my popular summer reading list. This was first posted in 2012. I left off so many but this IS a great list. Enjoy your summer and I’ll be back with new postings in a few days. ~ Juliette.

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I am always reading a book- usually fiction and on the average of 2-5 books a month. That said, in the summer I savor my books during trips, on the back deck while the sun goes down or at night with the porch light on. There is always a book in my purse or in my car. I am never without a book.

Here is my list – The Official Vampire Maman Summer Reading List.

Note: This is a list for grown ups or very mature teens.

I have read every book on this list – more than once.

These are my favorite books to read and enjoy. I hope you enjoy too. I have a long list of books I haven’t read yet but hope to get this summer. That will be a different blog posting.

Sources:

  • Your local library
  • Your local used bookstore
  • Your local new book store
  • Amazon.com and Barnsandnoble.com
  • Ebay.com
  • Literaryguild.com
  • Or look it up on google.com
  • Or BEG your friends and family to loan their copies to you.

Boys Life by Robert R. McCammon

“Zephyr, Alabama, is an idyllic hometown for eleven-year-old Cory Mackenson — a place where monsters swim the river deep and friends are forever. Then, one cold spring morning, Cory and his father witness a car plunge into a lake — and a desperate rescue attempt brings his father face-to-face with a terrible vision of death that will haunt him forever.”

OK enough of the book review stuff – this book is laugh out loud, pee your pants FUNNY and touching and just about the most perfect book I’ve ever read (and I read a lot of books)

The Wolf’s Hour by Robert R. McCammon

One of the most wonderful and amazing books I’ve ever read. It is about a Russian werewolf, living in England who hunts Nazi’s during WW2. It is in my top 5 favorite books of all time. The characters are true to life and believable. On the eve of D-Day, a British secret agent with unique powers goes behind Nazi lines Michael Gallatin is a British spy with a peculiar talent: the ability to transform himself into a wolf. Although his work in North Africa helped the Allies win the continent in the early days of World War II, he quit the service when a German spy shot his lover in her bed. Now, three years later, the army asks him to end his retirement and parachute into occupied Paris. A mysterious German plan called the Iron Fist threatens the D-Day invasion, and the Nazi in charge is the spy who betrayed Michael’s lover. The werewolf goes to France for king and country, hoping for a chance at bloody vengeance.

The Garden of Beasts – A Novel of Berlin 1936 by Jeffery Deaver

If this book doesn’t move you then your heart and brain are made of stone. This is one of those rare gems, a book by Jeffery Deaver that most readers don’t know exist.

“Paul Schumann, a German American living in New York City in 1936, is a mobster hitman known as much for his brilliant tactics as for taking only “righteous” assignments. But then Paul gets caught. And the arresting officer offers him a stark choice: prison or covert government service. Paul is asked to pose as a journalist covering the summer Olympics taking place in Berlin. He’s to hunt down and kill Reinhard Ernst — the ruthless architect of Hitler’s clandestine rearmament. If successful, Paul will be pardoned and given the financial means to go legit; if he refuses the job, his fate will be Sing Sing and the electric chair.

Paul travels to Germany, takes a room in a boardinghouse near the Tiergarten — the huge park in central Berlin but also, literally, the Garden of Beasts — and begins his hunt. In classic Deaver fashion, the next forty-eight hours are a feverish cat-and-mouse chase, as Paul stalks Ernst through Berlin while a dogged Berlin police officer and the entire Third Reich apparatus search frantically for the American.

Garden of Beasts is packed with fascinating period detail and features a cast of perfectly realized locals, Olympic athletes and senior Nazi officials — some real, some fictional. With hairpin plot twists, the reigning “master of ticking-bomb suspense” (People) plumbs the nerve-jangling paranoia of prewar Berlin and steers the story to a breathtaking and wholly unpredictable ending.”

The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen

Nobody can tell a story like Tess Gerritsen. Of course the descriptions don’t do it justice. The switch between the past and present and relationships of the characters make it a truly wonderful summer escape.

Present day: Julia Hamill has made a horrifying discovery on the grounds of her new home in rural Massachusetts: a skull buried in the rocky soil–human, female, and, according to the trained eye of Boston medical examiner, scarred with the unmistakable marks of murder. But whoever this nameless woman was, and whatever befell her, is knowledge lost to another time. . . .

Boston, 1830: In order to pay for his education, Norris Marshall, a talented but penniless student at Boston Medical College, has joined the ranks of local “resurrectionists”–those who plunder graveyards and harvest the dead for sale on the black market. Yet even this ghoulish commerce pales beside the shocking murder of a nurse found mutilated on the university hospital grounds. And when a distinguished doctor meets the same grisly fate, Norris finds that trafficking in the illicit cadaver trade has made him a prime suspect.

To prove his innocence, Norris must track down the only witness to have glimpsed the killer: Rose Connolly, a beautiful seamstress from the Boston slums who fears she may be the next victim. Joined by a sardonic, keenly intelligent young man named Oliver Wendell Holmes, Norris and Rose comb the city–from its grim cemeteries and autopsy suites to its glittering mansions and centers of Brahmin power–on the trail of a maniacal fiend who lurks where least expected . . . and who waits for his next lethal opportunity.

With unflagging suspense and pitch-perfect period detail, The Bone Garden deftly interweaves the thrilling narratives of its nineteenth- and twenty-first century protagonists, tracing the dark mystery at its heart across time and place to a finale as ingeniously conceived as it is shocking. Bold, bloody, and brilliant, this is Tess Gerritsen’s finest achievement to date.

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

Forget shades of gray, black, white or whatever. This is the book to read for hot summer erotic weirdness. And this is extremely well written.

He placed a notice in a Chicago paper, an advertisement for “a reliable wife.” She responded, saying that she was “a simple, honest woman.” She was, of course, anything but honest, and the only simple thing about her was her single-minded determination to marry this man and then kill him, slowly and carefully, leaving her a wealthy widow, able to take care of the one she truly loved.

What Catherine Land did not realize was that the enigmatic and lonely Ralph Truitt had a plan of his own. And what neither anticipated was that they would fall so completely in love.

Filled with unforgettable characters, and shimmering with color and atmosphere, A Reliable Wife is an enthralling tale of love and madness, of longing and murder.

We Took to The Woods by Louise Dickinson Rich (1942)

I can’t count how many copies of this book I’ve found and used book stores and given to friends. I love this book.

In her early thirties, Louise Dickinson Rich took to the woods of Maine with her husband. They found their livelihood and raised a family in the remote backcountry settlement of Middle Dam, in the Rangeley area. Rich made time after morning chores to write about their lives. We Took to the Woods is an adventure story, written with humor, but it also portrays a cherished dream awakened into full life. First published 1942.

 

A Walk in the Woods – Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book I enjoyed more – or laughed more or learned more by reading it. A MUST read for everyone.

Bill Bryson, whose previous travelogues The Lost Continent, Neither Here Nor There, and Notes from a Small Island have garnered the author quite a following, now returns to his native United States after more than two decades of living abroad. In order to rediscover America by, as he puts it, “going out into an America that most people scarcely know is there,” he set out to walk, in the company of Stephen Katz, his college roommate and sometime nemesis, the length of the Appalachian Trail. His account of that adventure is at once hilarious, inspiring, and even educational.

Shadow of the Moon M. M. Kaye

The ultimate in historic romance and exotic adventure. Born in India and orphaned at an early age, Winter is brought up in England but is always longing for the land of her birth. The opportunity to return home to India presents itself when she is betrothed at a tender age to the debauched Conway Barton, the grasping Commissioner of Lunjore, who is many years her senior. Captain Randall, who is sent by the Commissioner to escort his betrothed to India, is loathe to do so, knowing the Commissioner to be no fit husband for a seventeen year old girl, Moreover, Captain Randall is keenly sensitive to the potentially dangerous feelings of unrest that seem to be sweeping India, as its native population begins to chafe under the insensitive rule of its colonial masters.

The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart (1970)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crystal_Cave

The story of Merlin of the Arthurian legend. This is followed by The Hollow Hills and The Last Enchantment. Well written and magical the story brings Merlin to life in a way no other book has done. I read this so many times my paperback copy fell apart.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King (2000)

My favorite Stephen King novel.

On a six-mile hike on the Maine-New Hampshire branch of the Appalachian Trail, nine-year-old Trisha McFarland quickly tires of the constant bickering between her older brother, Pete, and her recently divorced mother. But when she wanders off by herself, and then tries to catch up by attempting a shortcut, she becomes lost in a wilderness maze full of peril and terror.

Charm School by Neilson DeMille (1999)

Charm School is a chilling cold war classic. On a dark road deep inside Russia, a young American tourist picks up a most unusual passenger a U.S. POW on the run with an incredible secret to reveal to an unsuspecting world.

I love the work of Neilson DeMille. He is one of my top 5 favorites. The last book was a little lame but everything previous to that is sheer brilliance. Charm School and Gold Coast are both must read classics of American books.

 

Foul Matter by Martha Grimes

This book is so much fun and so brilliant you’ll never forget it. The audio version is a must listen and perfect if you have a long road trip.

From Publishers Weekly: Red pencils draw real blood in this delightful publishing world crime spoof by Grimes, expert storyteller and bestselling author of the Richard Jury mysteries (The Man with a Load of Mischief, etc.). When Paul Giverney, a hot suspense novelist, seeks a new publisher, he decides on the house of Mackensie-Haack under the condition that they dump their highly respected and award-winning author, Ned Isaly. Ruthless president Bobby Mackensie will stop at nothing to sign Giverney, even though breaking Isaly’s contract is a legal impossibility. His solution? Sign another contract-this one with two hit men, who are hired to knock off Isaly. What Mackensie doesn’t know is that Candy and Karl are killers with scruples and a keen interest in literature.

Testament by John Grisham

This is the first book that ever made me cry.

Troy Phelan, an eccentric elderly billionaire, commits suicide minutes after leaving his vast fortune to an illegitimate daughter, Rachel Lane, instead of his six children by three marriages. His reason is revulsion over years of fighting with, and embarrassment from, his family, as well as their greed — much of which was due to his neglect of his children and multiple affairs (both personal and business).

His lawyers are now tasked with protecting Troy’s wishes as well as finding the heiress. Nate O’Riley, a high-powered litigation lawyer and now recovering alcoholic, is sent to Brazil, where Rachel is believed to be living as a missionary.

While Nate is trying to find Rachel, Troy’s family does everything in their power to contest the new will.

The Last Juror by John Grisham

This is the second book that ever made me cry.

The story is set in the fictional town of Clanton, Mississippi from 1970 to 1979. Clanton is also the venue for John Grisham’s first novel A Time To Kill which was published in 1989. Some of the characters appear in both novels with the same occupation and characteristics. Although A Time to Kill was published 15 years before The Last Juror, it took place in 1985 (on the first page of Chapter 3, it notes the date as Wednesday, May 15), which is a year after Grisham formed the idea for A Time to Kill, his first novel, and began writing it. Therefore the characters who appear in both novels, such as Lucien Wilbanks and Harry Rex Vonner, have matured in A Time to Kill. Harry Rex Vonner also appears in the novel The Summons, published in 2002, as an adviser of the protagonist Ray Atlee.

Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

I love these books. My copies are ancient and falling apart. A must read about friendship and learning more about one’s true self.

Screw the movies – read the books – nuff said.

 

The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl (2006)

This books makes you feel like you’re traveling back into time. The first encounter with this book was the wonderful audio version. I couldn’t stop listening! I’ve since read it too. I love this book. It is soooo Victorian!

Dracula by Bram Stoker (1887)

I love this book because it has such wonderful character development. If you’re going to read ONE vampire book – this is the one to read. Written as diary entries and letters it is a quick and fun read. Of course it is FICTION. Remember folks – it is FICTION.

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (1868)

It was good when it first came out and still will capture your attention until the very end.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Moonstone

Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (2009)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sweetness_at_the_Bottom_of_the_Pie

Another laugh out loud book that will make you wish your were an 11 year old girl with the love of chemistry and poisons!

  

My Favorite Series (look them up)

  • Prey series featuring Lucas Davenport by John Sanford
  • In Death series featuring Eve Dallas by J. D. Robb

Read both from the start – as the characters grow and age and mature into something akin to the book equivalent of a fine red wine. Once you get hooked on these…well, you’ll be hooked and you’ll thank me.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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