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: Something Unexpected

After years of drought we’ve gone from unreasonable unseasonable amounts of rain and cool weather right into the scorching heat of summer. Yes, but it is a dry heat, usually.

With summer comes the need to read. Be it a book, a blog, paper, or some sort of e-reader, or computer, some of us just HAVE to read.

Sooooooo, each Monday I’ll attempt to give you, my readers, some suggestions for interesting things I’ve read, I’m reading, or book in my “to read” proverbial pile of books. I will also (at the end of this post) provide links to past Summer Reading and other book related posts.

First a disclaimer: I suck at writing book reviews. Maybe I’ll get better as the summer goes on. Just get trough it. I won’t bore you with long descriptions. Just read the books. 

Right now I’m reading “The Big Kahuna” by Janet Evanovich and her son Peter Evanovich. It is light silly totally mindless summer reading. I picked up “The Big Kahuna” at Costco last week while picking up dog food and laundry stuff. It isn’t the author’s best (definitely not) but hey, if you want some light mindless fun it is ok.  I stopped reading Evanovich books a while back after the last Lizzy and Diesel book came out. I love those and recommend them. OMG you will fall in love with Lizzy and Diesel if you haven’t already. The Stephanie Plum books are laugh out loud funny and always good for what ails you, but fell off of my radar. I might eventually get back to them again.

Anyway… Here are books I  recommend for this summer, including books I’ve read and the next book on my list.

Red Darkling

The next book I’ll be reading (maybe even starting today) is “Red Darkling”, this summer’s runaway Science Fiction, Fantasy, Smart Thriller, Comedy, HIT.

I swear I’m the only one who hasn’t read it yet.

 

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I haven’t read this book yet but I’m a BIG FAN of Red and her cat and of course her Granny. For several years now I’ve been following Red’s adventures through L.A. Guettler’s short stories about Red. OMG you’ll fall in love with her. I am so excited about this book.

Here is the official description:

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

I’ll get back to you after I read it. I know I’ll love it so before I even start I’ll give it five stars…maybe six.

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

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Author L.A. Guettler

The Blinds

The Blinds is so unique, and different, and mysterious, and it will surprise you in such quiet ways you won’t be expecting.

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This one was a surprise to me. I picked it up because it was on a “staff” recommended list from a place I buy books.

As a rule I can’t stand books written entirely in present tense. I find them difficult and annoying. This book is one of the rare exceptions.

Adam Sternberg is a master storyteller. That is all I can say. He totally ROCKS at storytelling, and creating believable characters in such a twisted and unexpected way.

At first you won’t know what to expect but then you’ll get sucked in. This is one of those books I thought about a lot. It is so different, and so well written, and so unexpected. Wow. Just read it. I know in the future I will add more Adam Sternberg books to my reading lists.

Here is the official description:

Welcome to the Blinds, a dusty town in rural Texas populated by criminals and misfits who’ve been plucked from their lives, had their memories altered, and been granted new identities and a second chance. For eight years, Sheriff Calvin Cooper has kept an uneasy peace—but after a suicide and a murder in quick succession, the town’s residents revolt. Cooper must navigate an investigation amid questions from his ambitious deputy, the terrified citizens, and the mysterious outsiders who threaten to tear the whole place down—all while protecting his own dangerous secrets. The more he learns, the more the hard truth is revealed: The Blinds is no sleepy hideaway. It’s simmering with violence and deception, aching heartbreak, and dark betrayals.

 

Weirder Tales

I love this book so much. It isn’t because some of my stories are featured in it. I love this book because of the other well written, unexpected, and weird stories in it. As short story anthologies go this one is PERFECT for summer reading.

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I’ve given away so many copies of this book, and I’ve had so many people tell me that they’ve read it and loved it. I’ll be reading it again, and again, and again.

The official description:

The warped minds of WPaD are proud to present this tribute to the bizarre:

– People who eat Tide Pods turn into detergent-craving zombies
– A gift of a fishing bobber turns deadly
– A woman lost in the desert befriends an ancient creature
– A hole inside a closet holds unknown mysteries
– A grieving father consults a psychic to solve his daughter’s murder
– Two friends embark on a fantastic adventure during a game of Dungeons and Dragons
– A call for help from an abandoned house leads a man to his doom
– Strange explosions cause terror and speculation about the end of the world
– A meteor falls from the sky, leading a woman on a surreal journey

Enjoy these stories and many more in Weirder Tales: An Omnibus of Odd Ditties.

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

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

The cover of “Weirder Tales” is by Jason Kemp. Love this one too.

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So what are some of my favorite books from the past? CLICK here to find out.

Happy Reading,

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vampire Diary: Mysteries

Dear Diary,

He said his name was Kit. We talked about things I do not understand such as cars, and shopping at REI, and Game of Thrones.

I locked my eyes on his then I put him into a trance. I did not feel like being scratched by the stubble of his beard so I went for the crook of his arm. I closed his hand into a fist.

“Hold this tight,” I whispered in his ear. Then I sank my teeth into his veins.

His blood was warm with that tasted that always brought back memories of warm summer nights and…

Women. Yet, there was something male. Quite male…looking. Kit had short hair, no face paint, a loose shirt in a mulch color, and cargo shorts. Kit was also tall. Kit was as tall as I am. Kit had a voice as deep as mine.

I finished and said, “wake my friend.”

Kit opened bright blue eyes and smiled. “I feel tired all of the sudden. Sorry, a little light headed. I haven’t even been drinking.”

“Is Kit for Katherine?” I asked softly.

“Not this again. Oh my God to I always have to explain myself. Kit is for Kit. I don’t have anything to hide.”

“As well you shouldn’t. You wear a wedding ring.”

“I do. My husband will be here any minute.”

“You’re pregnant.”

“Whoa, wait, what did you say? How did you know that? I just found out today. I haven’t even told my hubby.”

“I am also different. I also do not, what do you say, fit the Normans.”

“Fit the norms. It’s norms,” said Kit. “How are you different, aside from being incredibly cute.”

“You would not understand,” I said. I do not understand why Kit had to call me cute.

“Try me.”

I said nothing. I do not understand but I suppose it is not something for me to try to understand. I also do not have to explain myself.

Then Kit smiled. “You’re prettier than most women, but you’re definitely a guy. What’s your story?”

“Where I come from my community, where I was the leader, we accepted everyone as they were. Unfortunately when many left outside of our protection they were persecuted and often put to death in horrible ways. I do not care about what is underneath your clothing. Congratulations by the way. You’re having a girl, and a boy. There are two babies in there.”

Kit’s mouth fell open. “How. Did. You. Know.”

“I’m a Vampire,” I whispered into Kit’s ear. “I will make sure you and your children, and your husband are kept safe, forever.”

I winked at Kit then gave them a kiss on their cheek. I know it was a strange encounter for Kit. It was certainly a strange encounter for me. Yet, it is my duty as a Vampire to keep those who befriend me safe. I also like Kit.

Kit looked confused and said, “I sort of believe you Vlad.”

“You have nothing to fear,” I said, and blew Kit a kiss and went home.

I will ask Kit to send me baby pictures when the time comes. With any luck the babies will be as cute as I am. I say that with a large dose of sarcasm.

It is a mixed-up, muddled-up, shook-up world indeed.

What a strange world I have awakened in after being locked in a crypt for three hundred years. For a Vampire King I have become quite, how do you say, soft. That is not a bad thing. Usually.

~ Vlad

 

Dear Diary,

This morning I arrived home to see my neighbor, a woman named Zoe, digging in her yard with a pick ax. She is not a large woman. She is fairly short and fairly round. Zoe looked at me with her bright eyes and a smile came upon her pretty face as she waved at me, then bent over and tossed a skull sized rock to the side.

I admired the explosion of flowers in her yard.

“What is the hole for?” I asked her.

Zoe brushed her hair out of her face and scowled. “I have been digging this thing for almost a half hour, just for one rose. River rocks. Our entire neighborhood is built on ROCKS. And damned if I’m going to have dirt hauled in.”

“I will help you if you wish,” I told her.

“No, I’m about done. I swear to God if I dig anymore I’ll find the Oak Island Treasure,” she said.

Oak Island. That is a place in Canada where there is said to be a treasure buried underneath the ground among tunnels. Two brothers and their friends did without luck finding small bits of information, mostly unrelated, in hopes of solving the mystery. Their progress is shown on the TV each week.

“Zoe do you know of Rick and Marty and their Oak Island Treasure hunting?”

“You watch that too? My dad told me about Oak Island when I was a kid. I expected someone would find the damn treasure by now if there is a treasure. I think it was some sort of waystation, or maybe a cache of banned books.”

“That sounds reasonable to me,” I said.

“I don’t think they’ll every find anything. What I’d love to do is go there and just plant a bunch of random shit. Like a couple of old Roman coins, some pre-Columbian pottery, something from the Middle Ages, maybe a few match box cars, plant a copy of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy at 150 feet. That would mix things up.”

We talked some more and Zoe told me of the flowers and her passion for growing them. As we spoke a car pulled in front my house. It was a large black car.”

“Do you know who that is in the SVU?” I asked.

“You mean SUV? I don’t know, but if they keep hanging around I’m going to go tell them to leave.”

She wiped her hand across her brow and left a streak of dirt. I rubbed the dirt off with my hand. As I was doing that four men came out of the car. They were all dressed in black with black masks over their faces. Cowards I thought.

As they approached us I could see knives, a gun, and a sharpened stake in their hands. Vampire Hunters. What were they doing here. If I had been back in my old country when I was King of Vampires I would have killed them all and put their heads upon tall poles as warnings to all who entered my lands. Unfortunately I have been told that I can not do that now. Yet, I have to protect my lands and my people. That includes Zoe and everyone who lives on my street.

One of the men yelled, “Vlad, Vampire Lord, we have come for you. Prepare to die.”

“What is this? Princess Bride?” said Zoe. She hefted her pick ax up and held it like a baseball bat.

The men charged us. Two grabbed my arms. I pushed forward and flung them off as if they were rats. One approached Zoe. She swung the as and hit the man with the side of the tool, rendering him unconscious. The others came at us using their full force as obviously trained assassins.

From out of the house across the street ran nineteen year old Kylee, yelling like a Banshee. She picked up a garden shovel and started to pound on one of the men.

I was knocked to the ground. I felt a sharp pain then noticed the pointed wooden stake in my chest, more by my shoulder, but missing my heart. Not again I thought. This exact same thing is how I ended up locked in a crypt for three hundred years.

Barring my fangs I pushed the men off of me. They fell to the ground. Zoe came at them with the high pressure nozzle of the garden hose, while Kylee hit them again and again with the shovel.

I saw the flash of a blade and felt it go through my face. If this kept up I would lose all of my blood. We heard sirens and all three of us know the sheriff would be here soon.

Then men picked up their fallen comrade and drove away in the black SUV.

“What the Hell was that?” Zoe looked at me, then sat on the ground next to me and held my wounds.

“Your face,” gasped Kylee. “Oh Vlad, they cut your face.”

“Chicks dig scars,” said Zoe.

“I will heal,” I said and then passed out.

When I awoke I was at home in my own bed.

“Impressive room,” said Kylee, who was looking around at the large bed and black coverings. Of course a bed is important to a Vampire.

“The paramedics wanted to take you to the hospital but your friend Randolpho showed up and talked them out of it,” said Zoe.

I noticed Randolpho, my oldest and dearest Vampire friend sitting on the foot of my bed. He was not wearing one of his ridiculous hats. “Vlad, this is not good. They know where you live.”

“They must have followed me home,” I whispered, weak with blood loss.

“What if they come back? Think about that Vlad,” said Randolpho.

Zoe scowled, then took my hand. “Our boy won’t be moving anytime soon. If anyone comes by again we’ll chase them off.”

“We have tools and we know how to use them,” said Kylee.

“Next time I’ll bring out the chainsaw,” said Zoe. And I believe she would.

“You don’t know what we’re dealing with,” said Randolpho.

“Sure we do,” said Zoe. “You guys are Vampires. Oh don’t look so surprised. We’ve known that for a couple of years. You can’t live on a small narrow dead end street like this and not know what your neighbors are up to.”

“If you weren’t Vampires,” said Kylee, “we’d think you were really weird. You’re pretty cool for Vampires. Cute too.”

I noticed my cats were curled up by my side. My cats are cute. I was not feeling cute at all.

Then my Vampire love Gillian came in. She was as always a beautiful sight.

“Vlad my love,” she said. Then she kissed my stitched face cut. I could feel it starting to heal.

“No more crypts for you Vlad,” said Kaylee.

“You’re home Vlad, and like it or not you’re one of us,” said Zoe.

My cold still Vampire heart started to flutter a bit. I almost felt warm, for just a bit.

I looked at Gillian. “I should have killed them. I am losing my touch.”

“We don’t do that anymore love.” Then she kissed me again.

Then I fell asleep trying to recover from the poison tipped stake and the evil knife cut, and had dreams of hunting down Vampire Hunters. I also dream of standing on the top of the tower in my castle, the wind in my hair, and knowing I rule all that I see.

~ Vlad

 

Dear Diary,

I do not understand, still after five years in this time, this century, how to adapt. I have adapted well. I can drive. I can use a computer. I have mastered a keyboard. I have cats who do not depend on catching vermin to survive.

Yet, sometimes I wonder that there is no place on this planet for me.

Then I think of Zoe and Kaylee who have taken me, like a war orphan into their embrace. They are Amazons who showed me the power and might of garden tools. Do not underestimate a woman with a pick ax or a shovel.

I reached out and felt the cold shoulder of my love Gillian. She is a Vampire so she is cold. I find that intensely attractive.

“Would you like it if I gave you garden tools my love?”

She looked at me as if I was insane, curled into my side and fell asleep again.

I grabbed my phone, for I am a modern man. The local news establishment reported that a girl of nineteen, a man of thirty four years, and a woman of sixty years, were attacked by three unknown masked men.

Zoe is sixty? She looks and acts like someone much younger. I am 675 years old but I can pass for thirty four because I am a Vampire. Zoe is not a Vampire. Back when I was a Vampire King a woman as old as Zoe would have been considered a crone. She would have been ancient. I have seen Zoe in a dress. She is vibrant. Oh how things have changed. An old woman with a pick ax can fight off Vampire Hunters then go dance the night away with her friends. I am in awe.

I touch my face. The wound is healing. Gillian took away the pain and there will be no great scar.

I do not understand so much, yet I am finding there is a place in the universe for me. I just do not know where it is yet. I am a Vampire, so I have time.

And for the first time a community which does not accept me out of fear and awe, but out of love. I do not understand but I will accept that which I do not yet…understand.

~ Vlad

 

 

Kissed by a Vampire

Kissed by a Vampire

This has been the 48th installment of Vlad’s Vampire Diary. To read from the beginning CLICK HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You wait at my door

You Wait At My Door

 

You wait at my door,

Your bite still fresh,

Your cries

Your pleading

Your banging

The scratching

Your love

Astounds me

You will not give up

Fangs set

Love forever

I must let you in

For after all

Despite all

Forever all

I laugh

I smile

I let you in

You are my cat.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Wrong Number

This is a story from 2014. On this cold rainy night I thought it was worth telling again.

This isn’t a tall tale or something from the mysterious paranormal or gothic side of life.

It is just a story of something sort of sad.

It isn’t even my story. It is the story of someone who is alone. We think this person is alone. We don’t know for sure. It is a mystery.

It is a story of missed connections.

I didn’t make this up.

Smart phones don’t always reflect the situation of the people who are calling them. When we get a new phone number more likely than not somebody else had that number before we did. Or our number is close to another more popular number. When I first go my cell phone number about 12 years ago I kept getting calls from people speaking Spanish and Chinese. I got calls for a bakery. I got calls for a tire store.

My daughter has been getting calls from a local mental hospital. They are looking for a man named Thomas. He needs to pick up a patient who is only called by a number. No name. Just a number. This has been going on for two weeks.

If we were in a movie or a novel Clara, Garrett her 17-year-old brother and their friend Randy would go to the mental hospital and get the mysterious patient only known by a number. Then they’d have a strange and wild adventure and it would all wrap up after a lot of violence and car chases. But this isn’t a movie or a book.

Unfortunately the mystery isn’t unfolding. It is just a sad situation. Somebody is at a mental hospital for teens and adults. Someone is alone. So alone. They need a ride and the only number the hospital has is the wrong number which belongs to the phone of a 14-year-old girl. Nobody seems interested in finding the correct number or perhaps a different contact. Isn’t anyone talking to the patient only known by a number? Clara has spoken to people at the hospital explaining the situation but she keeps getting calls for asking for the mysterious Thomas.

This mysterious phone number (with the prefix of 666) also receives calls for a young woman I’ll call M. These are also sad and weird. M missed a court date. The parole officer is pissed off to no end. M deals drugs.  M owes everyone money. M is a go between for drug deals. M has an ex-boyfriend who is looking for her. M is a train wreck. M gets a lot of phone calls. I’ve heard these phone messages too. It is not a life I’d want to be part of or want my children to be part of. I don’t even want M to be part of it. It is an unfortunate life full of bad choices that nobody should be part of.

It is strange and sad that by accident we have seen into sad lives of people we will never meet. We don’t know anyone like M. We don’t know who Thomas is. We don’t know who the person is who needs to be picked up. We never will know. Clara has told the callers that they have called the wrong number. That is all she can do.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Winding River – A Mystery

 

While going through a pile of old artwork I found this large format photo. It is about 16 x 18 inches and printed on heavy paper. It was printed in the 19th – early 20th Century. I don’t know who the photographer was, or who printed the photo. It is an original photograph.

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About a month ago I saw a photo of a painting of the exact same scene. The photo was from the late 19th Century. The scene is in the Rocky Mountains, maybe in Colorado. I don’t remember the what/where/who of that painting.

I’m putting the following questions out to my readers, and art/photo/Western historians. I don’t know the answers to these questions so any help would be WONDERFUL and I’d be grateful to you forever:

Who was the photographer?

Was this the Winding River and are the mountains in the background the Rockies?

Who painted this scene?

What is the painting and where is it located? Is it in a museum?

If you know any of the answers let me know. Yes, this is a mystery. Let’s solve it together.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman