THE GORGON & THE GLASS SLIPPER: Medusa was late. It was not in her nature to be late. It was not allowed. She feared tardiness, bustle, and hurry. Her sisters, her familial captors, would torment her so if she was late. They dealt out punishment the way witches passed out candy to little children.
With wickedness and delight.
She quickly set about slicing bread, setting the pieces over the fire to toast. She cracked eggs and stirred maniacally. She grated fine cheeses and chopped vegetables. She set bacon to sizzle on the iron.
The ingredients were gifts – tributes from nearby communities – ferried across the river by Charon in exchange for the sisters sparing the lives of the villagers.
It kept the larders stocked, but it did not stop the eldest of the sisters from taking her pick of the population every now and again. Tributes or no tributes, Stheno took what she wanted and did as she pleased.
There was a hierarchy between the sisters, and Stheno rested comfortably atop of it.
It was Medusa’s job to clean the vegetables, churn the butter, and butcher the meat. It was her job to sweep the floors and beat the rugs. To draw the baths, stoke the fires and prune the trees. She took care of the chores. The house, her sisters. Everyone and everything excluding herself.
The other two benefitted. This was the order of things. (Amazon)
MORBIDLY OBTUSE (OR, HOW TO BITE FRIENDS & INFLUENCE PEOPLE): If your idea of a vampire novel begins and ends with teenage angst and sparkles, then you may want to take a pass on this book. If you often find yourself salivating at the thought of a veiny, blood-soaked gore-fest, then it’s probably best if you moved right on along. Sweet William Ambrose just isn’t that kind of vampire.
Billy’s fat. He’s unattractive. His back hurts and his knees ache when it rains. He feels every bit his age, all one hundred and eighty-seven years of it. Billy’s seen and done a lot during his time on this planet; from witnessing the hardscrabble beginnings of the American West firsthand, to the atrocities of World War II and the coke-fueled decadence of the seventies. He’s rubbed elbows with cannibals and giants, outlaws and rock stars, presidents and paupers.
For the last thirty-six years Billy has spent his time bedridden in a moldering abandoned warehouse, subsisting on a diet of pizza and stray cats procured for him by an assistant. That is until the authorities had to knock out one of the building’s exterior walls just to get him out of the building.
They say that life sucks and then you die and maybe that’s true.
Well, for most of us anyway. (Amazon)
INFINITE ZOE: String Theory. Quantum Mechanics. Joey Ramone.
Zoe Stanton’s life used to be normal. Which is to say normal, but by no means average. Then her mother died and with her passing came the era of the new normal; one that was anything but.
And now her father was gone too.
Zoe arrived home from school one afternoon to discover her father missing and his basement office in ruin. What’s more, there was a curious new addition to the Stanton family home. An old utility closet had mysteriously transformed into a portal to the infinite.
Zoe was about to venture deep into the weird world of quantum theory. (Amazon)
THE WHOLE BEAST: “He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.” – Jonathan Swift
Camrose Rose considered himself to be many things, but a bold man he was not.
In another place, in another life, Camrose might have been an innkeeper, an antiques dealer, a sommelier or tea monger; nothing less than a man of elegance and quiet sophistication. The type of individual who stands out against their chosen backdrop – be it a quaint little coastal community nestled along the East Coast or deep in the heart of California wine country – someone you might read about in an airline magazine or in the lifestyles section of your local newspaper.
And you might, just maybe, envy him.
Unfortunately for Mr. Rose, he remained firmly planted in the here and now, standing about in a small patch of woods in the drizzling rain, preparing to film a local news piece on wild truffles. He felt spectacularly unenviable.
But that’s the thing about those days that change your life forever; they rarely begin demonstrably. Teeth need brushing, pets need feeding; the thousand tiny rituals that make up the day must be adhered to. Only when one is firmly entrenched in the comfortable familiarity of day-to-day life can the proverbial rug be swept out from underfoot.
It wasn’t long before the news crew realized they were not alone.
They say that every meal is an adventure, and isn’t that just the offal truth? (Amazon)
MARLEY: The Ghosts of Christmas still lived, to begin with. There is no doubt whatsoever about that…
But things were not well for the spirits. Victims to progress and time, to apathy and indifference, the guardians of Christmas past, present and yet to come have spent the better part of a century slumming it in a haunted dive bar in Reno, Nevada. It was up to Oliver Marley to save them. The words of his uncle would forever haunt him, “Tell me dear boy, when the winter holidays are over will you recount your encounter with a giant to your co-workers? Will you regale them with stories of a long dead relative stopping by for a cup of tea?”
Marley is a dark yuletide comedy set in Reno, Nevada and starring all your Christmas favorites like Jack the Ripper, Seshat (Ancient Egyptian god of wisdom), Argos (A hundred-eyed giant of Greek lore), Jacob Marley and, of course, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. (Amazon)
HELLRACER!: Legend has it that Johnny Driver rebuilt his first carburetor at the tender age of five. To suggest that Johnny knew his way around an automobile was to say that Stradivarius could craft you a mean fiddle. No shit, Sherlock. Johnny drove like the opening notes of Moonage Daydream. Like Mozart. Like Michelangelo. Motor vehicles spoke to him like lovers on hot summer nights.
Johnny could drive a car all right. Better than you. Better than anyone.
But tonight, he had competition. (Amazon)
SHERMER (FOREVER YOUNG): They don’t teach you this in history class, but the eighties were an era where smiling and pointing at things was considered a perfectly acceptable career goal. It even paid well. My mother showed me the cancelled checks.
Those were the salad days of the wild, wild west. The Reagan years and all the jelly beans you could eat. Polo shirts and pressed slacks. Yuppies and Muppets and nose candy, oh my! Everyone looked like a professional golfer.
Smile. Point. (Amazon)
THE UNDERTAKER & HIS FRIENDS (BOOK ONE): “I first came to Bodie chocked full of good intentions and love in my heart, just like everyone else. Sure, I had a healthy thirst for bullion, but you show me anyone who didn’t. Ain’t no reason to come to Bodie otherwise. Not like anyone is going to make it as a farmer out here. Bodie’s all about mining and gambling and drugging and whoring. And thank God for that. Bodie ain’t got nothing to offer nobody but false promises and unregulated lust.” – Tucker Strand (Local derelict, mass murderer.)
Power, corruption and lies. Greed, lust and murder. (Amazon)
THE LAST SUPPER (BOOK TWO): Seeing him there, with the dainty China cup before him, it was almost enough to make a fellow laugh. Should that man be brave enough to laugh at August Waters, of which there were precious few men in existence up to such a challenge. To scoff at August Waters required either great courage, a syphilitic mind, or a death wish. The namesake of the Waters Gang was fast with a gun and creative with a dagger. Few men dared laugh in his face. Fewer still lived to tell the tale. (Amazon)