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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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.

 

RedDarkling

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.

TheBlinds

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

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: Ian Rutledge Series by Charles Todd

Ian Rutledge has returned from WW1 and is back to his job as an inspector with Scotland Yard. The woman he loves has left him. The ghost, only he can see of Corporal Hamish MacLeod is in his head, or riding in the back seat of his car. The war is over but violent death is still part of his life. His sister Francis is always there for him and always a delight.

I love these books. Right now I’m reading “A Pale Horse” which takes place in 1920. The characters are alive and believable. The story lines are captivating. If you’re looking for a new series (especially fans of Nigel the Ghost) you’ll like love these books.

The author is a mother/son team. They do a magnificent job.

The first Book in the series is A Test of Wills : Ian Rutledge, returned home from the trenches of the Great War, loses his fiancée Jean after long months in hospital with what is now called PTSD, and faces a bleak future. Fighting back from the edge of madness, he returns to his career at Scotland Yard. But Chief Superintendent Bowles is determined to break him. And so Rutledge finds himself in Warwickshire where the only witness to the murder of Colonel Harris is a drunken ex-soldier suffering from shell shock Rutledge is fighting his own battles with the voice of Corporal Hamish MacLeod in his head, survivor’s guilt after the bloody 1916 Battle of the Somme. The question is, will he win this test of wills with Hamish—or is the shell shocked witness a mirror of what he’ll become if he fails to keep his madness at bay?

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For more information go to: https://charlestodd.com/the-history-of-inspector-ian-rutledge/

 

Happy reading.

~ 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

 

 

Mid-Week Summer Reading: Norse Mythology & a Greek God

Mid-Week Summer Reading

For the rest of the summer I’ll be sharing books and stories I think you might enjoy. Everything from adventure to poetry, to horror, to romance will be here, and just about everything else.

If you have a suggestion for a fun summer book or story you’d like to share list it in the comments or send me an email (juliettevampiremom at gmail dot com.)

summerreading

Looking for a book to bring camping and read by a gas lamp under the pine trees and stars? I’m speaking from experience.

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Neil Giaman’s Norse Mythology is a fun collection of stories about Thor, Loki and all of their family and friends. This isn’t a novel. It is stories that start at the beginning of time and go forward. That is why it makes a good travel book. If you lose your place it is easy to catch up. The stories are entertaining and told in an entertaining non-lofty way.

Vampire romance Juliette banner

If you’re looking for another quick fix, but from a different author, add this story to your summer reading list – something free for the middle of the week.

Ode to a Greek God

A story by Marla Todd

I’ve been 6000 years at the top of my game. I knew it was too good to last.

I’m having breakfast on my deck overlooking the Pacific Ocean with the perfect amount of salty warm breeze drifting over me. A beautiful redheaded woman is still in my bed and I can still feel the warmth of her skin against mine. Fortunately she’ll be gone in an hour.

Anyway, I’m having coffee and some amazing cheese and apple pastries my son dropped off this morning. I’m also checking out a box Pan had dropped off with the pastries. That’s my son Pan, the famous happy-go-lucky satyr who dances through the woods making merry. That’s over. He settled down about 150 years ago with a wood nymph named Gloria and they’ve been keeping domestic bliss ever since. I never thought I’d see the day. Anyway, they were cleaning out some closets and found some stuff I’d swiped a few years ago. Thirty-four years ago to be exact.

It looked like I’d gone into the backpack of a college girl. I’d been in college mode that year for a change of pace. I was young, buffed and blue eyed and a killer smile. Female heads all turned in my direction.

In the box was a silver hair clip in the shape of a flowering tree branch, a delicate sexy lacy cream-colored underwire bra size 32C, a sea shell and a folded up piece of college ruled notebook paper. I unfolded the paper and read the words that would change my life.

It was a poem. It was in a round girlish script written in blue felt tip pen. No name identified the writer. I started to read, expecting the usually silly girlish babble about the meaning of life, teen angst and the horrible nature of never being understood. What I read was something else entirely.

As I stood upon the steps,

Halfway between the land and sea

The messenger god Hermes

Came to me,

Swift footed and bright

But somewhat overtaken

By his cousin Dionysus’ last visit

He brought me a message

And I read it through his blue eyes

“I bring you myself” he said.

No answer came from my lips

Except a kiss,

Which spoke very clear.

Oh happy was I,

When hand in hand

Under the stars we ran

For my mythical Hermes

Turned into a man

I took a gulp of coffee and stared at the poem. A poem about me? People had written poems about me, of course, but this was personal. It was a poem about ME, not a god of tales and lore but about ME, Hermes. It was about ME.

This girl knew me. I mean she KNEW me. She knew who I was. How? I never let on to any mortal to who or what I am. Never.

She wrote me a poem. It wasn’t a great poem. It wasn’t even a good poem. It wasn’t epic. But by my father Zeus, it was tender and sweet, full of the promise of love. It was happy. It was from her heart. A heart that considered me more than just a good body and maybe a great fuck, if I did indeed fuck her. I know I must have kissed her. I must have made love to her, because a girl who wrote the poem would never just fuck a guy. She’d have made love to me in a way I should have remembered, but damn it I couldn’t remember a thing.

A kiss. I tried to recall it. Such a kiss I should have remembered. It should have burned on my lips. It should have taken my immortal breath away. I sat going through all of the dusty file drawers in my brain trying to remember, but NOTHING came to mind.

Don’t get me wrong. I am usually NOT the romantic type. I love women but I refuse to be the kind of guy or god who is going to turn into a jellied mass of so much romantic bullshit over just any female. Or am I? My stomach knotted up. My head spun. My heart started to beat fast. I thought I was going to throw up.

By the way, I am Hermes, the messenger God. I go by a lot of names but my friends and family and people who worship me call me Hermes. The Romans called me Mercury, but that is a completely different story, one I’d like not to bring up right at this moment.

So I close my eyes and THINK. 34 years. I’m trying to get a face. A location. Who the hell wrote that poem? There was a ski trip to Aspen and another to Tahoe. An uneventful week in Miami brought back no memories. Of course there were trips to Greece and Paris. The summer was spent in San Francisco and a little north of there was the beach house. Fall brought on New York and Boston. I was in Vermont for the holidays with my family (I know what you’re thinking and yes, we do get together for the holidays just like any other large dysfunctional family).

I heard a car start and looked back to the side of the house. The redhead drove away in her red BMW. I wouldn’t see her again. She got what she wanted and was happy. Fine with me.

Up the drive walks my cousin Dionysus, who happens to be staying at my brother Apollo’s place next door. There again, he was the PARTY GOD. Now he turned into Mr. Bottle Shock. Always going up to Napa, Sonoma, Amador or jetting over to France, Australia, and all corners of the Earth for wine tastings. The guy has been going on about Lodi wines lately so much that I wanted to smack him until I tried them. He was right; it was the nectar of the God’s. But really – Lodi? Have you been to Lodi? Despite all of that he’s still my best friend.

He read the poem. “Halfway between the land and the sea. She was at the beach house you dork.”

“Do you remember her?”

“Yes I remember her.”

“Who was she?”

“Miranda. Quiet girl with the pretty blue-green eyes. She was cute enough.”

“I’m trying but I don’t have a face yet.”

Dionysus poured himself a cup of coffee, added about a gallon of milk to it and half a cup of sugar before sitting down. “She drove a beat up old MG Midget. You talked cars. She was impressed by your Porsche. The two of you hung out all weekend making small talk. Saturday night you went for a walk on the beach and she had sex with you. You thought she was sweet. Remember, she was getting ready to go off to UCLA for the fall. You told her you were going to Harvard.”

Pictures, smells, sound and feelings started to flood my brain.

“She’d been there for several weekends. We always ended up talking on the porch.” I said as images started to come back into my brain.

“Right. She liked you a lot but she didn’t come out and hunt you like the other chicks always did. It wasn’t until that last weekend that you acted on it.”

I remembered. She was a cute, somewhat pretty 17-year-old girl with long brown hair and aqua marine eyes. At a party she wouldn’t have been the girl all the guys were after, but I noticed her. Well, she noticed me first. She started out talking to me about cars. From cars we talked about the tides and the ocean and movies and music and school. She wanted to travel to Nepal and spend time in Europe. Most of her friends were moving on to different colleges but she seemed all right with it. Her mind was set towards the future. I liked her company but she didn’t indicate at all that she wanted true love or a lasting relationship.

We’d walked on the beach. I’d made a few jokes and she’d laughed. She said a few things that were so funny it surprised me. I kissed her and a few hours later we made love by the base of a cliff in a private isolated area of the beach. She didn’t howl at the moon or put on a show. She wasn’t a virgin either.

Miranda let me take the lead but followed with quiet perfection. She lost herself quietly in the moment (which by the way lasted a good hour) and in me and didn’t ask for more. She could kiss too and had an amazing body. What more could a young man want?

We walked back to the house with all of our friends and she never said a word about it. The next morning she gave me her number and said, “Call me”, knowing full well the chances of me doing that were slim to none.

I never called her back.

Now I sat alone in my anguished romantic hell. She’d written a poem that morning and I’d stolen it along with a few other items to remember my lovely weekend. The god of thieves had taken a token of love she dared not share with me and for 34 years I had no idea what she’d written on that piece of folded up note paper.

“Where is she now?” I asked Dionysius, knowing if he didn’t know he’d find out.

He pulled out a large wine glass; the big kind used for reds and filled it with water.

“Take a look Hermes. But you might not like what you find. I guarantee you that one like her isn’t sitting around pining for the boy who got away.”

Images and information started to swirl in the glass. And I guarantee you, it sounds primitive, but you get a lot better information in a wine glass than you’ll ever get on Google.

Miranda had earned a doctorate degree in Genetics from UCLA and an MBA from Stanford. She was currently the Director of Development for a biotech firm in Northern California. The husband was an advocate for foster youth and has been a public defender for 20 years. They’d produced two lovely children, one of each. 11-year-old girl and 13-year-old boy. Both in swim club, good students, get along, popular, no problems. Lots’ of friends with kids, vacations and barbeques. Her home is in a fairly upscale neighborhood but not too pretentious. They go wine tasting a lot and like to cook. My kind of mortals if you don’t mind me saying. The husband even built sort of a wine cellar in the basement. She also likes to build garden sculptures but the visuals were blurred.

“Like whirly gigs?” I asked, thinking of pink flamingos with wildly spinning wings and little figures of men chopping wood. The idea was too weird to digest.

“Kinetic yes, but more large found items, tiles, wood, paint.” Answered my cousin.

“Like the Watt Towers?”

“Not that extreme. More like something out of Sunset Magazine. Understated with a touch of rustic charm.”

Enough of the garden shit. “What’s the relationship like with the husband? What is he? Some middle-aged Viagra popper?”

Dion gave me a smile, like the kind you’d give someone who just said something incredibly stupid. “Hermes, I’m surprise in you. The husband doesn’t need Viagra. He functions quite well on his own.”

“I didn’t need to know that. Did she ever write HIM a poem?”

“The husband? No. You’re the only one she has ever written about.”

“Does she still write anything?”

“She just finished a novel. It’s a mystery romance sort of deal.”

“Can you get me a copy?”

“Sure. I’ll call her up tonight and ask her to email it to me.” He said with a slight touch of sarcasm in his voice.

“Am I in it?” I asked too urgently, hoping the answer would be a definite YES.

“I have no idea but I seriously doubt it.”

“Is she looking to publish it?”

“As we speak. This is her dream Herm. She wants to be published before her kids get into high school so she can be home more with them.”

How could any woman with such a romantic soul, who wrote a poem to a god end up where she was I wondered? “What the fuck is she doing in Biotech?” I asked my cousin.

Dionysus shrugged. “A growing and diverse field with fulfilling opportunities to make the world a better place. She loves it but after 25 years of it she is ready to move on, maybe be a consultant but her family is everything to her.”

I looked into the glass again and saw her as she is now. The brown hair was a little shorter falling slightly below her shoulders, now lighter with blonde highlights. She was dressed stylishly in one of those cute little sweater sets all the women are wearing with a slim skirt and flats with bows. She wore bows on her shoes, a fact that turned my body to so much more jelly. I remember she always wore some bit of fluff or frill along with her Levis and rag wool sweaters. The aqua marine eyes sparkled with little signs of aging. She laughed out loud filling the room with joy. How could someone be so happy working in a science lab? How could someone be so happy without me?

The glass told me that she is known for her humor and mirth. I hardly saw any of it 34 years ago. How could I have been so blind?

To make matters worse was the fact that she was lovely. Fifty one years of lovely female bliss aged to perfection – like the most exquisite and complex wine ever made. She was something to be savored. She was something to be lingered over and enjoyed slowly with great appreciation. I wanted her so bad I ached.

I’m not the kind of guy, or god for that matter, who turns himself into an animal (like dear old dad) to trick a woman. I’m not going to do anything to hurt or use a woman. If a woman wants to use me, then fine, I’ll let her, but that doesn’t make me a bad guy. But I guess I was the perfect asshole to Dr. Miranda Wilkenson Hobbs. She wrote me a poem and I never called her.

I looked up at my cousin. “What was it like before she met the perfect husband?

He shrugged. “She traveled a bit. Worked a lot. Dated a lot. Had a couple of serious relationships but nothing she couldn’t walk away from. She met her husband 16 years ago at a party.”

“Did she write him a poem?” I asked.

“No. Nothing.”

“Nothing. Any hang ups with old boyfriends?”

“None. She’s still friends with a few. They’re all married with kids. Nothing unusual. She didn’t write them any poetry either.”

I conjured up an image of the husband in the glass. Average to nice looking middle-aged man. Full head of black hair, sparkling bright blue eyes, slightly crooked nose but with one of those warm and fuzzy charm filled smiles that women love. Nice slightly better than average guy who could in no way compare to me. No way. Not enough for her to write him poetry. Asshole bastard.

During the following weeks I pulled strings and called in favors that sent Miranda’s book right into the waiting hands of Bryan Woods, literary agent extraordinaire. By the way, Bryan Woods was the name I went by when I spent those weekends at the beach house 34 years ago.

When she received my call I couldn’t believe how good it was to hear that lovely voice. Why of course she could meet me. Where? I made arrangements in San Francisco. She’d have to drive to the big city which was A) always a treat for her and, B) a few hours from her home and away any distractions, C) a most romantic spot for seduction.

It was a beautiful day in the city with clear skies and a high of 68 degrees F. I wore gray Armani and my Rolex Daytona (yellow gold), and of course a Hermes tie. The blonde highlights in my hair were perfect and natural. The smile was a zillion watts. The eyes sparkled blue as a Maxfield Parrish sky.

I picked a restaurant with impeccable service and food, an excellent wine list and a spectacular view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Exactly at noon Miranda showed up. She scanned the room and saw me with a slight hint of recognition. She’d dressed carefully with thought as women do. A flattering and pretty pink tweed suit over a pink silk blouse with high t-strap shoes that was so classic and sexy I nearly laughed out loud with joy.

She smiled and took my outstretched hand. I took her back to our table. There was the usual required small talk about the drive over, the weather, etc etc etc.

We ordered wine and food. I told her how impressed I was with her book. By the way, I was impressed. The woman could write a story. We spoke of publishing and possible options and contracts. I told her I could see a movie deal coming out of all of it. No lies there. After a flurry of animated conversation we suddenly stopped.

Then she looked at me with slightly squinted eyes and asked “Have we met before?”

I said “The beach house.”

“Oh my goodness. That is you.” She said looking slightly embarrassed.

“We made love on the beach.”

She glanced down unable to meet my eyes for a moment then took a sip of wine and looked up at me again. “We were just kids. Wow that was a long time ago. Small world. Um, it’s good to see you again. You’ve obviously done well for yourself”.

“So have you dear Miranda.” I put the piece of notepaper with the poem in front of her. “Read it.”

She read it but her reaction wasn’t what I thought it would be.

“Where did you get this?” she demanded.

“I took it from your backpack.”

“It wasn’t yours to take.”

“You wrote it about me.”

“Just because we…Bryan, this was private. You betrayed my trust in the absolute worst way.”

“It’s Hermes.”

“It wasn’t yours to take.”

“I’m Hermes. My real name is Hermes, not Bryan. On some level you had to know. Tell me you knew.”

It was as if she didn’t hear a word I said. “Yes, it was about you but the poem was mine,” she said. “You were not supposed to see it.” She was clearly upset, not in a crying angry way but in a calm and collected rage.

“How did you know?” I asked calmly trying to sooth and comfort her.

“Because you shrugged it of the next day like nothing ever happened. I really liked you a lot but oh well. Shit happens.”

I took her hand. “But it did happen Miranda. You and me. You wrote a poem about us.”

“Guess what? It happened a long time ago. I’m not that girl anymore.” She said obviously not following my lead as she pulled her hand away from mine.

“Obviously. How did you know that I am Hermes?”

“You were cute and light on your feet. You made me think of Hermes. Jeeze Bryan. Is that why I’m here? If this isn’t about my book…”

I put my hand on hers again. “I didn’t mean to upset you. But yes, Miranda, I am the messenger god Hermes. Hear me out. I only use the name Bryan Woods when I mix with mortals. Your poem touched me to the very soul and to my bones in a way that nothing else has ever touched me. Nobody has ever written anything so personal to me or about me before. I’m sorry I over looked you. I am sorry I never called back. I’m sorry that it has taken so long for me to tell you that I love you.”

“I should go.” She said trying to pull her hand away and starting to stand up.

“No” I said still holding her hand as I transported her to another time and place.

I took her to a beach. The air was cool and breezy not too cold. She wore a sweeping filmy dress of lavender and white that highlighted her curves. Her hair was slightly blown by an ocean breeze. She was bare footed. I wore a romantic poet’s shirt, sleeves rolled up, half way open to show my spectacular chest.

Against the cliff was a bed piled high with romantic white on white pillows and flowing curtains off of high bedposts. Pink garlands of fresh roses wound around the bedposts. It was one of her dream sort of things.

Miranda looked around 360 at her surroundings, completely ignoring me. Her eyes squinted at the sight of the bed. She turned to me with a total lack of expression on her lovely face except for an angry fire in her aqua marine eyes.

I put my arm around her waist and pulled her close then buried my face in her hair. “It’s been too long”. I said.

She pushed herself away. “What the hell is going on? Did you put something in my drink?”

“I told you I’m Hermes. You’re in my world now.” I said.

I grabbed her wrists. I would have her and she would submit and enjoy ever bit of it and then be glad that she was mine. Or so I thought. She twisted to get away and stomped on my foot. We lost balance and went down to the sand. I was still holding her wrists as I landed on top of her. I could have taken her then and there as I lay between her legs, but I didn’t. Not with Miranda.

“Let’s move it to the bed.” I said gently, my lips meeting hers.

“No, I’m not going to do this. Please. Don’t make me do this.” Tears welled in her eyes. I felt a knot in my stomach and then a wave of nausea swept over me. I rolled over onto my back letting her go. The day was not going as planned.

She got up and walked down the beach a ways then stopped dead in her tracks. She stared at the surf. The sea serpents were out there wrestling. They’re as big as humpback whales with all the teeth, big eyes and claws one expects from them. She froze, and then looked back at me.

“Sea serpents.” I said catching up with her. “Listen Miranda, I’m really sorry. Yes, I’m an arrogant son of a bitch. When I read the poem I thought just for a moment that, no it was more than a moment. Nobody has ever cared like that.”

She didn’t hear a word I said as she stood transfixed on the sea serpents. They roared and crashed into each other in kitten-like play. Green, blue and gold scales sparkled in the sunlight.

I put my arm around her shoulders. “Pretty magnificent creatures aren’t they?”

“Will they come after us?”

“No. They pretty much stay to themselves.”

“This is amazing. Are they real?”

I turned her around and looked into her face. “Yes, they’re as real as I am.” Taking her face in my hands I kissed her. She didn’t fight me, but didn’t exactly jump in my arms either.

“We’re at that point between the earth and the sea.” I kissed her again. She stepped back and crossed her arms. This was going to be more difficult than I thought.

“You’re Hermes, the god Hermes.”

“Yes. I am Hermes.”

“You’re real.”

“I am.”

I expected her to kiss me or something now that she realized who and what I was. She turned away from me and looked at the sea serpents again then looked back at me.

“I wish my kids could see this.”

“My children always loved it when I took them to see the sea serpents. They still do.” I said suddenly thinking that I’d done well by my children and their mothers. In these modern times we’d be a typical blended family. Go figure. Miranda didn’t say anything but kept looking out to the sea.

“This could all be part of your life Miranda. Few mortals ever see this. I’m willing to make you part of this.”

“I can’t.”

“You’d give up immortality?”

She gave me a look that would have killed any red blooded mortal. I watched her take off again down the beach.

I suddenly understood that she’d never love me in the way I wanted her too. Honestly I did. Of course understanding and acceptance are two different things. I ran after her and caught her by the arm spinning her around to face me.

“Miranda stop.” I said trying to reason with her.

“What about my book?” She demanded.

“What about it?” I spat back at her.

“Did you like it or were you just saying that to get me here?”

“It could be a best seller.”

She glared at me. “I won’t sleep with you to get it published.”

I was slightly offended but saw her point. “That isn’t good business Miranda, you should know that. Your book is good enough to publish without sex.”

“I know it is. But as my agent can you get me a good deal and top posting on Amazon and book and posters in the window of Barnes and Noble? Can you get me on the best seller lists? Can you get me an interview with the New York Times and NPR?”

“I’m your agent now?” I asked.

“Yes, I mean don’t you want to be?” She asked looking at me like I was stupid or something.

“What about your biotech job?”

“I’ll keep working until the royalty checks start coming in,” she snapped.

I put my hand on her shoulder, ever so gently. “I’ll get you a six figure advance. You can quit your job tomorrow if you want.”

Her face softened. I could feel her shoulders relaxing. “Really? You’d do that?”

“Of course I would. I’ll be your agent but you have to do something for me.” If I couldn’t have her love, I’d get something almost as good out of her.

She squinted her eyes up at me. “What?”

“You have to write about me.”

“Poetry?”

“Books. The modern adventures of an ancient god.”

“I can do that.”

“I’ll have the contracts drawn up. I believe you’ll like the terms.”

“I’m sure I will.”

“One day I will make love to you again.”

She finally smiled. “Don’t count on it.”

“Let’s go back.” I closed my eyes and when they were open we were back in San Francisco. The restaurant (which by the way I own) was empty of any other customers and fresh blackberry pie and fresh made vanilla ice cream was on the table along with coffee. The sun was starting to set over the San Francisco Bay. We talked about our lives and our kids for about another hour or two. It was so easy with the elder Miranda.

“You’re going to get caught in some pretty nasty traffic.” I told her in my most concerned and caring voice. “You can stay the night here with me.”

“It’s ok,” she said,”I have a couple of audio books in the car.”

I walked her out to her car, a blue 2010 Mustang convertible. I should have known she’d still have a convertible.

I didn’t want to let her go. “Miranda, I’m sorry I was a jerk. I didn’t know how you felt about me. Another time and place and we could have…”

She put her finger to her lips as if telling a child to be quiet. “Listen, Bryan, I mean Hermes, I’m sorry it didn’t work out the way you imagined it but I have a good feeling about this, about us. I really do and we’ll make a good partnership and maybe even become friends. I take that back. We will become friends. Okay?”

Friends usually means the kiss of death in a relationship but not this one.

“You’ll write about me.” I said, not as a question.

“I will write about you Hermes.” She put her hand on my waist, stood on her toes and kissed me. “I will write wonderful things about you that everyone will want to read.”

I opened the car door for her. “I’ll fax over the contracts in the morning. Drive safe Miranda.”

Late into the wee hours of the morning I sat on the balcony overlooking the Bay and thought of her kiss that lingered on my lips. The messenger god Hermes had indeed turned into a man.

 

Sea Monster

I’ll see you next Wednesday for more Summer Reading. Maybe it will be Vampires. Maybe it will be Dinosaurs. Maybe it will be romance. You never know.

Juliette aka Vampire Maman