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: 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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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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Midweek Summer Reading: Suspect

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I first experienced Suspect by Robert Crais as an audio book. My husband is reading it now, and I plan to read it again when he is finished.

Most of us know Crais from his Elvis Cole and Joe Pike series. This is a stand alone book with an entirely new cast of characters.

Below is the description from the the Robert Crais web site:

LAPD cop Scott James is not doing so well. Eight months ago, a shocking nighttime assault by unidentified men killed his partner Stephanie, nearly killed him, and left him enraged, ashamed, and ready to explode. He is unfit for duty—until he meets his new partner.

Maggie is not doing so well, either. A German shepherd who survived three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan sniffing explosives before losing her handler to an IED, her PTSD is as bad as Scott’s.

They are each other’s last chance. Shunned and shunted to the side, they set out to investigate the one case that no one wants them to touch: the identity of the men who murdered Stephanie. What they begin to find is nothing like what Scott has been told, and the journey will take them both through the darkest moments of their own personal hells. Whether they will make it out again, no one can say.

The fact that I’m diving into Suspect for a second time says how good it is. Robert Crais gets into the soul of Maggie the dog. It isn’t always easy. It isn’t always feel good. Read the book. You’ll be moved.

For more about Robert Crais go to: http://www.robertcrais.com/books/book_suspect.htm

I love this book.
Buy or borrow Suspect and look at the photos below of my German Shepard Alice.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

Midweek Summer Reading: Tropical Treats that will have you laughing out loud

Today I’m taking you to Florida for two of my favorite books. Both will take you on a wild ride with characters you’ll never forget.

Favorite is an understatement. I’ve read one of them four times and plan to read it again this summer. The other is a book I discovered in 2013 and might also add that to my reading list again.

Warning: These are both laugh out loud, pee your pants, spit out your coffee funny.

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As a parent I knew all about the fun books for younger readers by Carl Hiaasen – Chomp, Holes, Hoot, and Scat. I had no idea he also wrote even  more books for adults.

Bad Monkey
by Car Hiaasen

Andrew Yancy-late of the Miami Police and soon-to-be-late of the Monroe County sheriff’s office-has a human arm in his freezer. There’s a logical (Hiaasenian) explanation for that, but not for how and why it parted from its shadowy owner. Yancy thinks the boating-accident/shark-luncheon explanation is full of holes, and if he can prove murder, the sheriff might rescue him from his grisly Health Inspector gig (it’s not called the roach patrol for nothing).

But first-this being Hiaasen country-Yancy must negotiate an obstacle course of wildly unpredictable events with a crew of even more wildly unpredictable characters, including his just-ex lover, a hot-blooded fugitive from Kansas; the twitchy widow of the frozen arm; two avariciously optimistic real-estate speculators; the Bahamian voodoo witch known as the Dragon Queen, whose suitors are blinded unto death by her peculiar charms; Yancy’s new true love, a kinky coroner; and the eponymous bad monkey-who just may be one of Carl Hiaasen’s greatest characters.

 

Where is Joe Merchant
By Jimmy Buffett

I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH.

Where is Joe Merchant? That’s what his sister, Trevor Kane, the hemorrhoid-ointment heiress, wants to know. For Desdemona, Merchant is the missing link in her ongoing communications with space aliens. Tabloid journalist Rudy Breno only cares that Merchant gets bigger headlines than Elvis. And for renegade seaplane pilot Frank Bama, the mystery of the presumed-dead-but-often-sighted rock star is turning his life upside down.

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Now all you need to do for a perfect summer reading experience is to sit back on the deck with a Margarita, or an ice cold beer, and escape with Carl Hiaasen and Jimmy Buffett.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman