Juliette’s Book Club: An Eclectic Mix

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Forgive me for the fuzzy photo in the early morning light. Then again sometimes everything seems fuzzy in those wee hours when the only things up are birds, garbage trucks, and coyotes. Oh yes, and cats. My cats had a serious case of the zoomies this morning. They must have sped like lightening up and down the stairs and hallways of my house at least seventy five times. The neighborhood yappy little shit for brains dogs have also been shrilly barking for over an hour while their owners sip their coffee cluelessly not realizing how much everyone hates them. These people also flood the gutters. 

Most of us have that stack, shelf, or bag of books we are going to read next. Mine is quite the mixed bag right now, but an interesting bag. You know, it is like when you go to the grocery store and find yourself with a bag containing a bottle of wine, a sponge, apples, dog food, aluminum foil, and coffee beans. A mixed bag.

Right now I’m reading Masked Prey by John Sanford. It is a Lucas Davenport Novel. I’ve been reading this series since Rules of Prey came out in 1989. Like most longtime readers I’ve seen the characters grow, grow up, and adjust to changing times. I love these books. Last night I was telling my husband that I appreciate a writer like John Sanford who can write believable characters be they male, female, children, teens, young, old, of any racial, cultural, or other background. Great characters and great dialogue make his stories worth coming back to.

 

On my Need to Read Next list are the following books: 

The Cold Six Thousand by James Ellroy

My daughter gave me this book for my birthday. She said it sounded like something I’d like to read. It is a long book – 672 pages. It should be quite entertaining and extremely interesting.

The official description: The internationally acclaimed author of the L.A. Quartet and The Underworld USA Trilogy, James Ellroy, presents another literary noir masterpiece of historical paranoia.

In this savagely audacious novel, James Ellroy plants a pipe bomb under the America in the 1960s, lights the fuse, and watches the shrapnel fly. On November 22, 1963 three men converge in Dallas. Their job: to clean up the JFK hit’s loose ends and inconvenient witnesses. They are Wayne Tedrow, Jr., a Las Vegas cop with family ties to the lunatic right; Ward J. Littell, a defrocked FBI man turned underworld mouthpiece; and Pete Bondurant, a dope-runner and hit-man who serves as the mob’s emissary to the anti-Castro underground.

It goes bad from there. For the next five years these night-riders run a whirlwind of plots and counter-plots: Howard Hughes’s takeover of Vegas, J. Edgar Hoover’s war against the civil rights movement, the heroin trade in Vietnam, and the murders of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. Wilder than L. A. Confidential, more devastating than American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand establishes Ellroy as one of our most fearless novelists.

 

My Sister. The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

I was looking forward to reading this book just because of the title. It is described as darkly comic. Unfortunately it slid under the couch and was hiding there for months until my husband was moving furniture around about a week ago.

The official description: NOMINATED FOR THE 2019 BOOKER PRIZE
WINNER OF THE LA TIMES BOOK PRIZE FOR MYSTERY/THRILLER
FINALIST FOR THE 2019 WOMEN’S PRIZE

Korede’s sister Ayoola is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead, stabbed through the heart with Ayoola’s knife. Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood (bleach, bleach, and more bleach), the best way to move a body (wrap it in sheets like a mummy), and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.

Korede has long been in love with a kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where she works. She dreams of the day when he will realize that she’s exactly what he needs. But when he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and how far she’s willing to go to protect her.

 

A Dog’s Way Home by W. Bruce Cameron

I love dogs. Everybody I know loves dogs. Dogs are great. My mother gave me this book. The paperback book I now have looks like it has been read by a dozen people, and probably has. I’m looking forward to this light and heartwarming tail (pun intended.)

The official description: This remarkable story of one endearing dog’s journey home after she is separated from her beloved human is directed by Charles Martin Smith and stars Ashley Judd, Edward James Olmos, Wes Studi, Alexandra Shipp, and Jonah Hauer-King. W. Bruce Cameron and his wife, Cathryn Michon, wrote the screenplay for the film.

With four hundred miles of dangerous Colorado wilderness separating one brave dog from her beloved person, Bella sets off on a seemingly impossible and completely unforgettable adventure home.

A Dog’s Way Home is a beautifully told, charming tale that explores the unbreakable bond between us and those we love. This is a fantastic and exhilarating journey of the heart that brilliantly speaks to the incredible power of love and resilience of spirit that tie us together–making it a perfect gift for everyone who’s ever loved a dog.

 

The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier

I’ve had this book for a couple of years and have no idea why it keeps getting put to the bottom of the pile. The description is super interesting. It will be read before the summer is out. This book might just be one of those tales you can’t forget because it is that good. I hope so.

The official description: From Kevin Brockmeier, one of this generation’s most inventive young writers, comes a striking new novel about death, life, and the mysterious place in between.

The City is inhabited by those who have departed Earth but are still remembered by the living. They will reside in this afterlife until they are completely forgotten. But the City is shrinking, and the residents clearing out. Some of the holdouts, like Luka Sims, who produces the City’s only newspaper, are wondering what exactly is going on. Others, like Coleman Kinzler, believe it is the beginning of the end. Meanwhile, Laura Byrd is trapped in an Antarctic research station, her supplies are running low, her radio finds only static, and the power is failing. With little choice, Laura sets out across the ice to look for help, but time is running out. Kevin Brockmeier alternates these two storylines to create a lyrical and haunting story about love, loss and the power of memory.

 

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Normally I do not have the patience to write book reviews other than saying, “WOW I LOVED IT,” or “I threw it in the recycle bin before I hit the first hundred pages.” My hope is that you go through my to-read pile and go through your own to-read pile. Then read, share, and leave a good review online if you like it.

Happy Summer Reading!

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Juliette’s Book Club: Cool Cats for Hot Summer Reading

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Oscar the Tuxedo Cat and Gloria the Calico Cat. It is too hot to go out and play today so they’re going to stay in and read.

 

I’ve always been slightly suspicious about people who say they don’t like cats. Three of my closest friends are allergic to cats but they still don’t hate them. My weirder than weird cat Angus used to visit a neighbor who was allergic to cats. When we weren’t home he’d scratch at her front door then go sleep on a corner of her couch for a few hours. Angus hated everyone except my husband and his friend across the street. Cats rock. I have two. They’re assholes and they’re completely devoted to me. I love them. I think I love almost every cat in the world. Today for your reading pleasure I’m suggesting THREE options for those who love cats, or just love a GREAT stories from master story tellers.

As a bonus I’ve included a short cat story at the end of this post.

Spence and Nameless

by

Dave Henderson

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I recently had the pleasure of meeting author Dave Henderson (online but hey, we’re still social distancing).

His stories about Spence are such a delight and so original. If you want to smile and like something a little different, a little odd, and exceptionally entertaining and well written check out his work.

The official description: Nameless is just a fella who values his solitude. His only companion is a big ol’ orange and white tabby cat named Spence. They are just livin’ the life, out in their shack outside town, ‘Close enough so it ain’t so bad to get supplies, and far enough out soz no one bothers much, and the sky is open at night.’ Until one day, when Spence disappears … and things get really fecked up.

Whatever you do, never get between a man and his cat.

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One of my favorite books of 2019. It is still one of my favorite new books. I can’t wait for the next one. It is a wild, crazy, and unexpected ride, AND there is a CAT.

Red Darkling

by L.A. Guttler

“Red Darkling”, is a runaway Science Fiction, Fantasy, Smart Thriller, Comedy, HIT. If you haven’t read it already you need to NOW.

I loved this book and can’t wait for the next one to come out.

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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.

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?

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

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Gloria give this book 5 out of 5 stars

Strange Adventures in a Deviant Universe

WPaD Science Fiction Anthology

Looking for some Science Fiction AND cats? This is the book for you. I also have to add that this is another great cover from Jason Kemp.

I recommend all of the stories but especially these cat stories:

Rocket Cats are Go by David Hunter

and

Bonk by Lea Anne Guettler

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Now do you need a quick cat story fix? Well, here you go.

The Offer (a fairy tale with a wizard, a kitten and a mysterious stranger)

A Short Story by Juliette Kings

Miles was the official Royal Wizard to the Kingdom of the Moonbeam Mountains. What the fuck kind of name was that for a Kingdom?

“I will NEVER be as good as my dad.” he thought brooding in the dark under the night sky on the roof with a bottle of 80 proof Dragon Blood.

Sitting alone in his castle by the sea he thought of her, the princess who’d more or less left him for another man. Hell, he never had her. She’d always been in love with someone else. They’d been together for ten years. In ten years she’d told him a thousand times that she loved him but at the same time she was running a fantasy in her head about another guy.

For the past 6 years they’d lived with each other almost full-time. Their father’s were best friends. Hers was the King of the Northwestern Kingdom, his father was the Royal Wizard there and their mother’s were girlfriends. Everything was perfect, just like it was supposed to be. Every single year he’d proposed to her. Every single year she’d told him that she wanted to wait. Wait for what? Now he knew. She was waiting for another guy.

He called to have his horse ready and took off to the local pub. At least there he could keep his mind off of things.

Half way to the pub he stopped to pull his gloves out of his saddle bag. He heard a noise on the side of the road. A teeny tiny gray and white kitten ran towards him. It couldn’t have been more than six weeks old.

“Oh sweetie,” he whispered to the kitten, “I can’t leave you out here alone.” He tucked the tiny cat under his coat and continued on.

As he entered the village gate he could hear the band playing at the pub and already see friends lingering around the front door. “Deep breath Miles,” he thought to himself knowing everyone would ask about his princess. They knew he’d left her. They didn’t know why or for how long. He didn’t want to talk about it. Maybe he’d just put a spell on the place to make them all shut up about it, but ethics and his own code of decency stopped him from it. There is no crime in being curious.

After dropping his horse off in safe hands he greeted the people outside then went in. He could feel the small body purring inside of his coat. There was something about a cat that could make one forget everything. Cats were so pure and so decadent and so useless and so calming and so everything that made the universe worth living in. Cats represented all that was. Not good or bad just everything.

He caught his reflection in a window. Blonde hair, board shoulders, blue eyes, dimples on his boy-next-door cheeks and a scar across his neck that would tingle every time she kissed him, no matter what violent memories it brought him.

Everyone greeted him. Big points were scored with the ladies when he cradled the purring kitten in the crook of his arm. Damn that kitty was cute. She looked up at him and mewed a purr dripped sound that was absolutely toxic cute. He could never get enough of that feeling of pure joy and love.

After ordering a brew Miles did a few tricks for the patrons. They always asked and he was glad to give them some shows of blue sparks, wispy smoke dragons and fairies flying over their heads and levitating beer steins. It was all good fun. Fun was always good especially with the way he was feeling.

The fact that he’d been alone for a few months hadn’t gone unnoticed. He could hear the gossip behind his back. He could feel the single women watching him and wanting him. There was no reason for him to be alone at night but he wasn’t ready yet for company in his cold bed.

He heard a voice at his shoulder. “Missing your homeland Wizard?”

Miles turned around to see a tall exceptionally thin man standing at his shoulder. He wore a good suit and a sarcastic smile on his face.

The man continued to speak. “Do you miss a warm princess next to you in your cold bed? Do you wish your magic was more powerful? Do you wish you’d get the same respect and power as your father has? I can give you all of that.”

“It isn’t wise to attempt to provoke a wizard, even a piss poor attempt like yours. I don’t know you sir, but I’m here to enjoy an evening with friends. Now if you’ll excuse me and my cat we’ve got others to talk to,” Miles said to the tall thin man.

“Give me that kitten and I’ll grant you three wishes,” the stranger said in a voice so smooth it made Miles cringe.

“I don’t want your wishes and I’m sure as Hell not giving you my cat.”

At a large table he sat with friends, joking and listening to their stories, but his senses were wide open to any evil that lurked in the building. The tall thin stranger occupied himself with another group, but Miles could feel his presence.

The kitten purred and played with everyone at the table. There was nothing special or magic about her except that she was a cat. “Just a cat,” thought Miles, “nothing more.”

Hours later, after he’d had a successful evening with friends who’d done more than a good job of cheering him up and getting him out of his gloomy mood, Miles arrived home. His staff would be in bed so he put the horse to bed for the night, gathered the kitten back under his coat and headed for the front door. The moonlight made the dark pathway easy. He took a deep breath of the salt air and listened to the waves crashing on the beach below.

“Welcome to my castle by the sea dear kitten,” he told his small purring friend. “You look like a Lizzie to me. How about it? Do you like that name my dear?” The kitten meowed and purred.

Looking up he saw a figure on the cliff. It was the annoying thin stranger from the pub.

“Wizard, give me the cat and I will give you everything you desire. I can make your princess love you. I can make you famous. I can bring you riches.”

“Get off my property or I’ll…” he thought a moment for the bad things he could do then spoke. “What’s so special about the cat?”

“Your princess for the cat Miles. Say the word and you’ll have what your heart desires.”

“I don’t know who you are but I don’t want a woman who loves me because of a spell. I want her to love me for the right reason. I want her to fall for me in a nice long romantic way of her own accord. Love spells are bull shit. Every wizard with any talent knows that. And any man who knows what his heart desires and knows what true love feels like knows that.”

“Give me the cat.”

“Is she yours? Don’t lie to me man. I’ll know if you’re telling me a lie.”

The stranger halted a bit. “Well, no.”

“Then what is it? I don’t want any wishes and I don’t trust you with a helpless kitten. What do you really want? Is this some sort of test? Or are you just a creepy stalker? What is it? Tell me.”

“Do you love your princess?” The man asked him as if he was accusing Miles of cheating.

“Sure I do but, it’s none of your business.” None of anyone’s business that she was in love with someone else. “Get the Hell off of my property.” Miles blasted the ground in front of the man with a bolt of orange lightning. The man jumped back. “Go or the next one will hit you.”

The man was gone. Miles was alone in the kitchen with the kitten. “What was that about? Do you know?”

The kitten just purred.

Three wishes. He laughed out loud a bitter laugh. What would he need with three wishes. He’d worked hard for everything he had. He was proud of what he’d accomplished. Being a wizard, much less one in a foreign country, wasn’t always easy. People depended on him.

He thought of calling her, his princess, but he decided to let it go, at least for tonight. She had left him letters and messages but he couldn’t get past the pain of betrayal.

He wondered who the skinny guy was and why he wanted the cat. Three wishes. It wasn’t worth it. He’d never trade his soul or the tiny stray he’d found on the side of the road. After all, wasn’t it the same thing? He had shown compassion to a small beast. He’d shown his soul.

The kitten didn’t start to talk. He kissed the top of her tiny head but she didn’t turn into a princess.

Taking out a piece of paper and a pen he started to write.

Tonight a strange skinny man offered me three wishes in exchange for a small kitten I found on the side of the road. The man said he could make you love me. I wasn’t tempted by the offer. If you love me I want it to be honest and true for me. No magic. No games. No more lies. 

He wadded up the letter and made it vanish with a flash of blue smoke.  It was no use.  Heading up the stairs with the kitten in his arms he stopped at the sound of someone knocking on the door. “Damn you, I do not want your wishes.”

Jerking open the door Miles yelled, “I’m not giving you my kitten.”

But standing at the door wasn’t the tall skinny man, it was his princess. He brought her in and told her the story of the strange skinny man and the kitten. She listened in wonder and then they both went upstairs.

And did they live happily ever after? Maybe. Only time, or maybe the cat will tell.

~ end

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

What we’re talking about today: Heat, Famous People Saying Stupid Things, and NEW Summer Reading

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Alice the German Shepard says to make sure you stay hydrated.

 

I have to say that I’m glad my children DID NOT read the Harry Potter books. They tried but just couldn’t get into them. The movies were fun, but we did not buy or read the books.

I also have to say that I am proud of my LGBTQ friends. I am proud of my children for having close LGBTQ friends.

I have seen how difficult it can be coming out. I have seen the pain and rejection my friends have gone through. I have seen the incredible love they’ve given to me and others. I’ve seen the stupid ignorant hate thrown at them just because they loved someone. Some people are just shit heads. Don’t be a shit head.

 

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I’m love all of my friends who don’t have periods. YES there are women who, for MANY reasons don’t have periods. Why does it matter if a woman has a period or not?

Why is it that so many extremely rich and famous people are so out of touch with humanity? Why is it that so many extremely rich and famous people have no filters when it comes to people who are not like them? Why is it so many rich and famous people have the need to spout out ignorant and stupid thoughts in public? Don’t they have handlers?

Then they back track and try to make everything think they were misunderstood and play the pity party poor me card. Give me a break. Thousands and thousands of children made J.K. Roling a rich and famous woman and now she has chosen to be a dick and many of her most loyal fans in the back – for no reason. How fucked up is that?

Everyone has a right to their own opinion but NOT to hurt someone who is not in your life, who is not hurting you, and is quietly minding their own business.

We already have an unhinged president and plenty of politicians who have no filters – we don’t need our YA authors to start spouting off like a bunch of idiot politicians too.

Humans have been LBGTQ for centuries. They’ve been LBGTQ since before we had a word for centuries. Get over it. Accept it. And remember if we were all the same life would be incredibly boring.

Now on to something else…

It is HOT outside. Please make sure to check in on elderly friends and family, or others who might need your help to stay cool. Sometimes old folks don’t realize it is 100°F inside of their homes or are afraid their electricity bill might be too high. Go check on them.

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Available June 15th on Amazon from WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants): 

Twenty authors. Fiction. Essays. Pandemic ponderings. Poetry.

Goin’ Extinct Too – Apocalypse A Go-Go!

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My dog Alice and I go walking almost every day. Here are a few shots of our journeys. Yes, I wear a hat and sunscreen. You need to do that too even if you’re not a Vampire.

We also walk to the school because nobody is there and it gives Alice the GSD a chance to run around without her leash and use the drinking fountain. We have no idea when the students are coming back.

 

That is it for today. I just wanted to vent and share. Keep cool. Wear a mask. Don’t drink any bad blood. Wash your hands. Be nice. Don’t be a dick. Talk to your kids.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

2019 Summer Reading: Beauty, Brutality, Reflection, Love, Verse, and Humor

This morning I pulled four books off of my self. Four books by two authors.

This morning, and most mornings, I can tell a story, but I am not a master of words. Both of these authors put together words in a way that is pure art. The word “wonder” comes to mind. I am in awe.

These are books to savor. They include poetry, short stories, and a gentle calling.

Jon Obermeyer

I met Jon Obermeyer at a reading in Fair Oaks, California last summer. I was taken by his words. Like I said before it is all about the words. Jon is also just a great guy; smart, friendly, great sense of humor.

I’ve featured two of his books today. He has many.

Wingspan

by Jon Obermeyer

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The official description: The 70 new poems in “Wingspan” reflects poet Jon Obermeyer’s wide ranging interests and geographic wanderings. A native of Santa Barbara, CA, Jon has lived most of his adult life in North Carolina (with a short detour to west Florida). In this third collection of poetry, Jon explores his West Coast roots and his East Coast habitats, the delights of parenting, creative work and exploring the natural wold, and musings about turning 60. In a confident, original voice Jon reminds us what is important and what keeps us going, riding the thermals. “What defines Jon Obermeyer’s poetry is a trust of plain speech and sure-footed humility; a willingness to let circumstance wash over, but not wash away.” Terry L. Kennedy, author of New River Breakdown “Jon Obermeyer was a student of the brilliant Robert Watson and one thing he learned from Watson was to find his own voice…diction, lyricism, and meaning uniting to let us see what he sees, hear what he hears, feel what he feels.” Kelly Cherry, author of The Life and Death of Poetry: Poems (LSU Press) “Jon Obermeyer is one of those poets who goes right for the gut. His words are bright, penetrating, clean as a bone. In this collection, he talks about tectonic plates, English invaders, and red-eye gravy in a spiritual way….He listens. He listens closely. That’s his secret. I’ve never met anyone with a better ear to the ground. He’s not trying to solve anything.” John Miller, from the Foreword

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Centripetal Force and Other Stories

by Jon Obermeyer

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Official Description: David Sedaris wrote, “A good short story should take me out of myself and then stuff me back in, outsized, now, and uneasy with the fit.” Sixteen stories are included in Jon Obermeyer’s second collection of short fiction. Both cautionary and comic, these post-2008 financial meltdown tales feature characters who are caught off guard, in their personal lives and in financial status. A divorced man finds witnessing the aftermath of a horrific highway accident strangely purifying. A retired auto inspection mechanic finds himself kicked out of an art crawl open house, and it triggers flashback to an incident on a high school football field. A homeowner and father worries that the ex-con handyman fixing his termite-damaged subflooring might also be a suspect in a local murder. Two couples, one wealthy, the other struggling financially, vacation together in Italy, as one marriage disintegrates and the other relationship is strangely affirmed. A woman is forced to choose a way to assuage the hurt of an absent boyfriend over a holiday weekend, possibly reuniting with a former finance. An unemployed poet decides to open a retail store devoted solely to one book, his 400-page opus about the working man. The author in his preface writes: “For two years in the early part of this century, I wrote the annual circus program for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. I ventured each December to Ringling “Winter Quarters” at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, and spent three weeks interviewing the performers and watching the new acts in rehearsal. “To make the circus interesting for the 12-year-old boys who were the target audience for the book, we planned a series of graphics alongside the text. These visual, small nuggets based on the science behind the circus, comprised what my editor John Miller called our “Dorling-Kindersley” approach. “That’s when I first learned the difference between Centripetal Force (center seeking) and Centrifugal Force (center fleeing). The Ringling equestrian act, circa 2002, worked on the defying the principle of Centrifugal Force, keeping the horses contained the small ring as they spun around it at fast speed. This act was known as “Little and Big,” because horses and small dogs were involved. “So, what keeps us from flying off the surface of our spinning planet into Deep Space? It’s gravity mostly, but I might argue there’s a bit of centripetal force at work, a subtler form of grounding. What keeps us from flying off the proverbial handle? What distinguishes that line between sane and in-sane? “Fiction, like poetry, keeps us from becoming scatterlings. It’s my job as a kind of Ringmaster, the professional artist, to salvage these little events that might have big import when laid out in a narrative arc; Little and Big. I’m going to take the tiny things that have happened to me, or something I’ve heard about from others or in a public forum, and whip them into an enjoyable froth, with some dialogue and description.”

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Ra Avis

You are loved. You are frightfully wondrous. Those are the words you will read or hear when the name Ra Avis comes up.

I’ve known Ra through blogging since 2012. I came across her words and her beautiful heart. Since then I’ve met other wonderful bloggers through her. I’ve also shared her work and message.

Ra is a dinosaur with a dinosaur heart. She is also a woman with a great capacity for life, joy, resilience, humor, words, and all things good.

Rarasaur.com

Snack Nasty

Prison Poetry by Ra Avis

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This book is both brutal and beautiful. Verse.

From the back of the book: The stories told here don’t always fall sinn-side up. They are the scrambled and fried edges of prison life. They are the illusion of dignity, the inconsistency of justice, and the fluidity (and fluids of the human condition. These are the true stories from my 438 days of incarceration.

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Dinosaur-Hearted

by Ra Avis

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This is a book that will inspire you and make you smile. Trivia: I have my own dinosaur heart necklace that I wear when I give docent tours at the art museum.

Official description: This book is a gentle call to happiness in a time of healing, and a reminder that — wherever you are, whoever you are– you are loved.

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I’ll see you next Monday for more reading suggestions. Since school has started in most locations, and September is here, I will be changing the name to Juliette’s Reading or something along those lines.

Happy Reading. And feel free to share your own reading suggestions.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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2019 Summer Reading: Old Bones and a Birthday

This past July 4th I was sitting on the side of a mountain overlooking Donner Lake and watching a spectacular fireworks show. As the fireworks went off we could see the train on the other side of Donner Lake moving along watching the show. Truckers and cars along the highway also stopped to view the fireworks.

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We were there for my daughter’s 20th birthday. The dogs are Brody and Alice. I had to show off this cake – made by my daughter’s boyfriend’s mom.

I’m from Sacramento, and I’ve spent a lot of time around Donner Lake. Needless to say everything the ghosts of the Gold Rush, and transcontinental railroad workers are still around, as well as the ghosts from the ill fated Donner Party.

Let’s go back to October of 1846. The Donners and the Reeds were two families who headed up a group of folks coming out to California to start a new life. From the get go it was a total shit storm of misdirections, grumbling among the travelers, and bad decisions.

When the “Donner Party” finally made it to what is now Donner Lake, they were only what is now a 90 minute drive from my house outside of Sacramento. Unfortunately there was no Interstate 80 to take them down the hill, no snowplows, no tow truck, no park rangers, no nothing. They were trapped by an unusually heavy snow fall and had to spend the winter in a high mountain wilderness. Many survived. Many did not. Of course, you all know, and I know you’ve been waiting for me to say this, many ate the bodies of their traveling companions (yes humans, they’d already eaten their horses, cattle, and dogs.)

The members of this unassuming and ill-fated group had no idea they’d be so famous. They also had no idea that the frozen lake they camped by would become a California State Park, and a favorite vacation spot. We go up for a day trip there all the time.

Descendants of the Donners, Reeds, and other members of the Donner Party are still living in the Sacramento area.

Which brings me back to 2019 SUMMER READING.

For years I’ve been reading ALL of the books by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I’ve listed many of them in my past reading lists on vampiremaman.com.

THANK YOU to the authors for so many hours of fun reading.

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Preston & Child

I love their books. Some of the stories are so far fetched and out there that you’d think a Vampire like me wouldn’t be reading them, but hey, I read for FUN. And you know, I’m sort of out there far fetched myself.

I am so excited because my copy of their newest book OLD BONES has finally arrived.

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This is the official description:

Nora Kelly, a young curator at the Santa Fe Institute of Archaeology, is approached by historian Clive Benton with a once-in-a-lifetime proposal: to lead a team in search of the so-called “Lost Camp” of the tragic Donner Party. This was a group of pioneers who earned a terrible place in American history when they became snow-bound in the California mountains in 1847, their fate unknown until the first skeletonized survivors stumbled out of the wilderness, raving about starvation, murder-and cannibalism.

Benton tells Kelly he has stumbled upon an amazing find: the long-sought diary of one of the victims, which has an enigmatic description of the Lost Camp. Nora agrees to lead an expedition to locate and excavate it-to reveal its long-buried secrets.

Once in the mountains, however, they learn that discovering the camp is only the first step in a mounting journey of fear. For as they uncover old bones, they expose the real truth of what happened, one that is far more shocking and bizarre than mere cannibalism. And when those ancient horrors lead to present-day violence on a grand scale, rookie FBI agent Corrie Swanson is assigned the case…only to find that her first investigation might very well be her last.

As soon as I finish the deliciously wonderful  book I’m reading now (Tight Rope by Amanda Quick) I will devour Old Bones.

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Donner Lake

 

Today’s post was brought to you by my coffee cup, which is now unfortunately empty, and my busy day. I’ll have more reading fun next Monday.

It will be 102F here today. I don’t know about where you are but I plan on staying cool, editing MY BOOK, and maybe getting in a little reading. Alice the dog also is getting her nails clipped but then again that is an entirely different blog post.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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2019 Summer Reading: King Arthur and John Steinbeck

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I will always be in awe of John Steinbeck, both as a reader and as a writer.

The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976) is John Steinbeck’s retelling of the Arthurian legend, based on the Winchester Manuscript text of Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur.

I’ve read almost all of Steinbeck’s books – many multiple times – but I’ve never read this one. It has been on my self for years. So, without any additional introductions I will add this to my 2019 Summer Reading List.

Why this? Why now?

We’ve all been fascinated with stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. From the musical Camelot to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, we can’t get enough. The series of books about Arthur is endless. There are even television shows.

I’ve even started a series of stories about a Warlock and Selkie who occasionally run into Merlin and other characters from Arthur’s court.

My hope is that Steinbeck’s unfinished version will be as beautifully crafted like the rest of his books. I’m sure I won’t be disappointed. I’m sure you won’t be either.

If Arthur isn’t your kind of story, then do yourself a favor and read one of Steinbeck’s other novels, or even a short story or two this summer. You’ll be glad you did.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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