2019 Summer Reading: Dracula, Frankenstein, and Other 19th Century Horrors

For me summer reading means picking up a variety of books. It means trying out new books, as well as revisiting old friends.

After a steady diet of mysteries, romances, and modern literary fiction, sometimes we need to sit around the proverbial camp fire and be scared silly.

Oh by the way, this blog is inhabited by Vampires, and we read. We usually don’t sit around and read Vampire books but when we do we like it to be interesting.

Dracula – Annotated

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Dracula is a fun, unusual, and well written book.

Unfortunately, as with many books that grab the imagination, Dracula has been made into a lot of awful movies that only vaguely capture the story line. You have to read the book.

I recommend adding “The Annotated Dracula” which is Dracula by Bram Stoker, with an introduction, Notes, and Bibliography by Leonard Wolf. The book also includes maps, drawings, and photographs, plus beautiful illustrations by Satty.

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Mr. Wolf, who sadly passed away earlier this year, also created annotated versions of Frankenstein, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and The Phantom of the Opera,

Note: An annotated book is a book that includes notes and images about the book. It is more than just foot notes. Please see the photos I’ve included.

There are many annotated versions of Dracula from 1975. I recommend this one. It is out of print but you can find copies on eBay, other online sources, your library, and at your local used book store. Ask around.

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This is hours of good fun, and you’ll get to read the ORIGINAL.

 

Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein

Assembled from the original text by Mary Shelley

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For a lot of people Frankenstein can be a difficult read. First published in 1818 it quickly became a classic. However, it was written in 1818 and is sometimes puzzling and odd to many modern readers. I love the book, but I understand if it isn’t always easy.

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Like with Dracula, NOBODY has made a movie true to the book. READ THE BOOK. Get the real story.

A great version to start with is the illustrated version from one of my favorite illustrators Gris Grimly. Yes, it is a graphic novel. Yes, you will like it. Yes it is strangely weird and ugly and beautiful at the same time just like the original story.

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Get a copy, put it in your tote bag, back pack, satchel, or purse and carry it with you all summer. Savor it with a tall glass of something cold and remember to keep a light on later in the night.

 

Now for a different kind of horror…

 

The House of Mirth

by Edith Wharton

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Imagine living in a world where social status and money rules every chance of happiness you have. Imagine being a woman with no power over her own life, and who is judged and brutally unforgiven by every choice she makes – by the people who should be her own. Welcome to the cruel world of the 1870’s and how a women who is of the upper class, but with nobody to protect her is left to fend for herself in a world that has no place for women like her. This is the story of Lily Bart, beautifully told by Edith Wharton.

This book is brilliant, but frustrating and tragic. This is also a reminder to get out and vote in every single election so that the rights and opportunities for women everywhere will not be taken away.

The House of Mirth can be found in every bookstore and every library.

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High Fashion 1870’s

 

Happy summer reading and feel free to leave your comments or reading suggestions in the comments.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

2019 Summer Reading: Poe

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This summer read at least one short story by Edgar Allan Poe.

Just one. You’ll want to read more, but at least read one.

You can read a well known story like The Black Cat, or The Cask of Amonrillado, or The Murders in the Rue Morgue.

Or read one of the lesser known stories (those not made into Vincent Price movies) such as A Tale of the Ragged Mountains, or The Balloon-Hoax.

Then read some of Poe’s poetry.

Poe is the master of mystery and horror, the inventor of the modern detective story, and a true romantic. To put it bluntly, he tells a damn good story.

We’ve all seen the Vincent Price movie versions. Who doesn’t love Vincent Price?

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That said, I urge you all to find a quiet corner and READ at least one of Poe’s stories. Just one.

Let me know what you think.

~ 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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Friday Political Thought

On my alter ego Facebook page I have a feature called “Friday Political Thought.” I started it during the first Obama election cycle. People were getting nasty and ugly so I vowed to post kittens and things that would make everyone feel good, since political thoughts are rarely good. In fact most political thoughts are vile and ugly. I find that sad since politicians and politics should “serve us” not “Serve us up to the alligators” or “Serve us and make us sick to our stomachs.” These days politics are so vile and disgusting that I have no words, but I do have silly memes. I always have silly memes.

Anyway, here we go. Friday Political Thought for April 5, 2019:

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And here is your kitten:

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Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Chloe’s Face

A new story to maybe give you the creepies, or make you feel all warm and fuzzy in a twisted romantic kind of way.

Tangled Tales

Chloe’s Face

 

“I wasn’t alone. It was at a party for God’s sake. You saw how many people were here.”

“You said you went to the beach before the tide came in.”

“It was coming in. I told the police officer, the first one to arrive there.”

“You don’t seem frightened or upset. Most women would be crying at the sight of all of those body parts.”

I looked him straight in the eye, “Detective, I don’t appreciate your condescending attitude. I’ve been spending the past hour comforting my friends over this. If you continue your misogynistic tone I will report you to your supervisors, and I’ll put it in my blog.”

“I didn’t intend it that way. Your eyes look yellow. Are you alright?”

Oh now he was concerned. I wanted to say sure my eyes are yellow, I’m a fucking goblin. My eyes always turn yellow when I’m angry or upset. But I didn’t tell him that. I took a deep breath and brought back the baby blues in their shining glory.

Sure I might look like a beautiful woman in a silvery silk evening gown, and I am, but deep down inside my blood runs green, and my soul is the color and texture of charcoal briquettes, and I was in no mood to be grilled by some SOB who was one step from a hard on.

This all started when I walked down a path to the beach, wine glass in hand, with a couple of extremely shallow women whom I found quite refreshing.  We’d take off our heels and started running, while we laughed all the way. Hey, if I can find kindred spirits I take advantage of it.

So we get to the beach, just as the sun starts to set, and the tide is just coming in for the night. Is it the pretty picture we expected? Absolutely not.

Jackie, a tall brunette with high cheekbones wearing a backless red dress, catches her breath and drops her wine glass, then backs up a few steps.

Mags, a short busty blonde in a fabulous blue jumpsuit, and I stop.

“What the fuck?” Mags says as she stops and stares.

“Don’t go any closer,” I said.

Jackie starts to whimper like a puppy. Mags downs the Martini she brought with her and gets an extreme grimace on her face. I picked up a stick and poked the thing. Of course it didn’t move. I looked closer.

“There aren’t any bones. His bones are completely gone.”

What we were looking at was the naked body of a man with no bones. He didn’t even have a skull.

Mags looked closer. “Is it real?”

I put out my arm to stop her from getting closer. “Yes,” I said. “It is absolutely real.”

Looking out to the beach and incoming waves I saw something just as interesting and unusual. The beach was covered in body parts. There must have been a hundred or more pieces of, well, people. This wasn’t like random shoes washing up with feet in them. I saw feet, legs, arms, torsos, organs, and faces. No skulls. Just faces.

I’m usually not at a loss for words but I had no words for this.

“Maybe there was a plane crash,” said Jackie.

I guess it could have been, but when I looked at the closest group of parts, an arm, what looked like a butt, and a face, they all looked like they’d been surgically removed. The edges were clean. The bone wasn’t fractured. Then I noticed the butt had a tag attached with a red ribbon threaded through a perfectly round little hole.

On a triangular laminated piece of parchment looking paper were the words,

 

You were a pillow

For her body

A place to sit

Pleasure for a man

To fondle

With desire and lust

A whore

Deserves more.

 

This was both fascinating and repulsive in a sexist nasty kinky kind of way. Hey, I’m a goblin, so I get a pass at not getting all sentimental about these things. I wouldn’t cut anyone’s butt off, but I’d love to know who did it and why. Seriously, what would motivate someone, a human, to do something like that? Or humans. One person couldn’t have dumped all of these parts on the beach in a matter of a few hours. I was out on the beach earlier in the day. I didn’t see anything but birds, a couple of shells, and some crab parts.

“It wasn’t a plane crash. We would have seen something, or heard about it on the news. I don’t know what this is.”

A couple of guys in suits came down the path from the party. They were laughing and yelling funny stuff at us. That didn’t last long.

They were horrified too. One of them called 911. Then the police showed up.

Before the authorities arrived I lifted up my dress and tied the hem in a knot just above my knees so I could walk around and take a better look.

About half of the body parts had the cleaver little labels with cryptic free verse or other weird descriptions. I have to admit the labels were pretty imaginative.

A male face, with fashionable stubble, laid face up, looking surprisingly handsome. You know, in a weird sad way that dead things look. I hear the Victorians were really into that kind of stuff, but back to now. His note got me thinking.

 

Those lips

Brushed against

Sun bronzed skin

Not mine

Never mine

Too

Bad

For

You

 

Were these revenge killings? I was trying to tie my brain around it. I was looking out over a hundred body parts. A man with no bones was dumped at the trailhead. One person, male or female couldn’t have done this alone.

I turned to see my four human friends huddled together about twenty feet from the boneless guy. I dropped my shoes, put down my wine glass, and took my phone out of my bra, then started to take photos of the tags.

The tag on a hand only had two words.

 

Poison Pen

 

On a heart and lung set was another romantic tag.

 

You took my heart

You took my breath away

So I shall do the same

To you

 

I’m a goblin so I don’t get too romantic, not even with other goblins. We’re not like that. We just laugh, and fuck a lot, and get all nasty with each other. We bond, but not in what you’d call a sweet way. I looked at that note and wondered what the hell had happened with that relationship. Had she cheated? Did she walk out for no reason? Was she a casting director who didn’t give some asshole actor a part he thought he deserved? Did someone not get into medical school and wanted revenge? It could have been anything. I wanted to know. I really really wanted to know.

Goblins, as a whole, cause a lot of grief. That is what we do. It is in our nature. That said, no goblin that I know would ever do anything like this. We definitely wouldn’t leave notes behind. We don’t exact revenge. We’re too self assured and confident to even think about revenge. Also, we might be different but we don’t do body parts. No way.

I looked down on a torso. It was the top half of a woman, from the shoulders down to the navel. She had a tattoo of a butterfly on her left shoulder. On the right breast was some sort of flower thing. The ink was beautifully done. She’d paid a lot for her ink. Gold rings pierced her nipples. The cuts were clean, and her organs were in tact. Her label was just as random as the others.

 

Lovely to

Look at

Lovely to hold

But it you break it

Consider yourself

Sold

 

Even I have to admit that was creepy.

A few days later, a couple of hours up the highway, I was sitting on the deck of my own beach house, wrapped in a blanket, and wondering about those body parts and the boneless man.

I heard someone come through the side gate. It was the detective I’d spoken to at the scene of the crime. I waved at him. He tripped and fell on the gravel pathway. I smiled. After all, I am a goblin and I can do all sorts of mean things if I want to, and I always want to.

He got up without me offering to help, then brushed off his clothing. He was one of those tall sort of ex-football player types who thought he was hot shit in high school and college, and never lets anyone forget. Fuck him.

I thought about telling him to have a seat and making the chair break but I decided against it. There was no need to make him remember me more than he had to. I didn’t offer him coffee or tea.

My tail involuntarily twitched. I adjusted myself in my seat and pulled my blanket closer, and quieted my backside appendage so he wouldn’t see it (I just like saying that, you know, backside appendage.)

“Ms. St. Marie, I couldn’t get you by phone. I have some more questions I need you to answer,” he said.

“Gloria. There is no need to be formal.” I said. “I already told you everything I know.”

He walked up the steps onto my deck and leaned against the rail. “Gloria. Do you have time to talk?”

“Does it look like I’m doing anything? Sure, it isn’t like you’re going to go away.”

My brain quickly ran through ways to make him cry. I tried not to smile.

“So,” I said, “Detective Howard. Or should I call you Ian? Why are you here?”

“What is your relationship with Anthony James Berkins?”

Well, that was out of the blue.

“We’re friends. Friends with benefits. Excellent benefits. Why are you asking about Tony? He’d never kill anyone. Sure he killed them with words, but he’s a gossip writer. Damn good at it too.”

“How about Chloe Elizabeth Anderson?”

“Chloe? I adore Chloe. We’re friends. Great friends.”

Chloe was such a bitch. She had a snarky comment about everything and everyone. The C in her name stood for more than just Chloe, and I loved her for it.

“Within three days after you and your friends found the body parts on the beach sixty people in California, Nevada, and Oregon were found dead in their homes. All were single. All of them were found with parts of their bodies missing. Only three were still alive.”

For one of the few times in my life I actually felt like I might have lost something precious. “Tony and Chloe. Are they dead?”

Ian Howard looked at me with almost a symphetic gaze. I wanted to make a gull fly by and crap on his head (and I can do that) but I just waited for him to say something.

“Your friend Tony is alive. His sister found him before he bled to death. That hand you found with the poison penlabel was his. He doesn’t remember anything about what happened.”

“Chloe? Is she alive?”

“No. Her heart, face, and breasts were taken.”

I said nothing, trying to process it all. I felt numb. I never feel numb. It was weird.

“Do you know if Chloe was involved with anyone?”

“Chloe was seeing everyone,” I said. “She’d never give her heart to anyone. Fuck. I didn’t mean to say that.” I really didn’t mean to say that.

The detective pulled up and chair and sat across from me. “Gloria, you always seem to show up when bad things happen.”

“What do you mean by bad things?”

“Accidents. People fall into pools and almost drown. Kitchens catch on fire. Car accidents happen near you. People trip and fall a lot when you’re around. You’ve also been at the discovery of three other murders.”

“That wasn’t my fault. How was I to know a dumb ass real estate agent was going to show me a house with a body in the living room?”

“I’m sure it wasn’t your fault when you found a body in the trunk of a car you rented. It also wasn’t your fault when you witnessed an arson fire where three bodies were found.”

“No, it wasn’t my fault. The other accidents were not my fault either. Shit happens. People are stupid.” Actually the accidents were my fault because I make shit happen. I’m a goblin. That’s what I do. But I had nothing to do with the murders. Goblins don’t kill, we just make people miserable.

“Do you know who would hurt Tony or Chloe?”

“No. Listen, Ian, I read the notes. I took pictures. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. It looks like the body parts, the removal of parts, was part of a revenge service. I know it sounds sick and twisted, and it is, but I can’t think of anything else. Sixty people. Holy shit. Poor Chloe. You said Tony will be OK?”

“He’ll recover, at least physically.”

We talked a bit more until I was too annoyed to take it anymore and asked Detective Ian Howard leave.

A year later he came back with some more questions. The case was never officially solved. I seduced him, but didn’t let him see my tail. Then I made sure he had a flat tire on the way home just for the fun of it.

I’m still trying to figure out how that one guy was deboned. His bones were found in his bed. If that isn’t weird I don’t know what is.

I still have drinks from time to time with Megs and Jackie. They’re still freaked out by the body part ordeal but neither one has lost her magic snark touch. I worry about them though. What if the killer is still out there. They’d be perfect targets the way they spread gossip and break hearts.

Tony and I are still friends with benefits. He has some very interesting and fun attachments he can click into where his hand used to be. We’ve spent hours trying to figure out who cut his hand off. We’ve come up with exactly nothing.

I still couldn’t walk on a beach without thinking about Chloe. Who cut off her face?

My friend Magnus, another goblin changling like me, had his theories about the killers.  It was obvious to us that the killers were hired to do what they did. From what I read on the notes all of the killings must have been revenge based.

A few nights before we found the body parts on the beach, before the owners of said parts were found, my friend Magnus had an interesting experience. Being a goblin, he didn’t think much of it due to the fact that he tends to be unpleasant to be around. The night was nice so he opened his windows and sat down to watch some mindless TV. He’d fixed his favorite snack of stir fry red crawler worms with sweet and sour sauce, with an ice cold beer, and just as he was ready to dig in he heard the sliding glass door that went out to his backyard open.

Like any goblin he turned and yelled, “Fuck you asshole.” The door slammed, and the two guys in his dark backyard were plummeted by flying garden tools, then drenched with motor oil he driained from an old car he was restoring.  By the time he got out on his porch the visitors had jumped the fence. The curious thing about the event was that on his porch he found a red ribbon. It was exactly like the red ribbons used to tie the notes onto the body parts found on the beach.

“I’m sure they would have been put off by my green blood, not to mention it would have burned their skin right down to the bone,” said Magnus.

“Only if you wanted it to burn them,” I said.

“Oh sweetie pie, you know I wanted to burn them. I always want to burn them. I know you do too,” he said with a wink.

“Do you think they were the murderers?”

“Of course I do,” said Magnus.

“Why didn’t you tell me about this earlier?”

He leaned back and gave me a big smile, his eyes glowing yellow green. “Because you never asked me.”

A few hours later I called Ian Howard and asked him what was on Chloe’s tag.

The detective seemed surprised I’d called. About an hour later he called me back with an answer.

 

Mirror Mirror

Blank and Cold

You’re beautiful face

Will never grow old

You don’t deserve

Your beauty

Or your cold unfeeling

Heart

I’m setting you free

And setting you apart.

 

Then he told me Chloe had been mutilated before she died. Even my twisted burned out soul couldn’t help but feel for her. I made a list of everyone I knew she’d been seeing or crossed. Nobody stood out as her killer, or the person who might have paid for her torture and death.

I called Ian and hold him about what Magnus had told me, omitting the part about Magnus being a goblin. Not that it mattered because Detective Ian Howard said, “The killers were stupid to go after a goblin. Not just because it is dangerous but because you regenerate damaged flesh.”

“Goblins? What are you talking about?”

“I know you and Magnus are goblins. I knew the first night I met you on the beach. We watch for your kind.”

Your kind?It sounded sort of racist to me, but it didn’t surprise me. So much for jumping through virtual fiery hoops to hide my tail.

“I pegged your for an asshole the first time I met you,” I said.

“Do you mind if I come over?”

I wanted to say something mean but just said, “whatever.”

The police never found out who killed Chloe and cut off Tony’s hand. They never figured out who hired them. Ian promised me that he’d never tell anyone I was a goblin. Later that night before he drifted off to sleep in my big comfortable bed I kissed him and thought of the note tied to the empty wrist of the boneless man.

 

Spineless

Unable to stand up

Betraying

My trust

And

Showing

Your true

Shape.

 

I heard a noise outside and went to check it out.

The next morning Ian took a cup of coffee out to the deck.

“Gloria, come out here,” he called.

In his hand he held a piece of paper and a note.

I looked at the paper.

 

Unholy union

Man and Demon

She seduces

He comes to her

Without hesitation

We will

Take

Them

Apart

 

“Look out on the beach Gloria,” Ian said.

The tide was coming in, washing away body parts. The cuts weren’t as clean as the previous case, but it looked pretty efficient. I could see a head rolling out with the last wave. I was fascinated with the way it moved.

“Do you know anything about this Gloria?”

“Let me refill your coffee for you,” I said giving him a kiss and taking his cup.

And you know what? We more or less lived happily after. Imagine that.

 

 

 

~ end

 

~ Juliette Kings / Marla Todd, ©March 2019