Sunday, 29 November 2009

Haunts and History

My Review of Haunted Marietta by Rhetta Akamatsu.


Do you believe in ghosts?

This question may come to mind when you pick up this book to read, but by the time you finish the last page it won’t matter.  You will have simply enjoyed an engrossing story of a town’s history, which is in turn, personal, epic, tragic and yes, ethereal.

This book is one part history lesson, one part ghost story and one part paranormal primer, stirred into a delightfully entertaining read.  The author takes you on a whirlwind tour of the town of Marietta, from its founding through the American Civil War, to contemporary day.  Along the way, the reader is treated to fascinating stories of times past, shown the diversity of the town, and regaled with tales of its citizens, living and dead.


“History is in the air all around, and it is not hard to believe that shades from the past linger here or, indeed, all around the square.”

The paranormal aspects in the book are presented in a very factual, even subdued manner; no ghosts pop out and say boo (at least until the last chapter regarding the Haunted Doll; that tale spooked me a bit).  The author documents well researched accounts of the hauntings, gives her opinions, and lays out eerie possibilities, deftly dangling the unexplained before the reader.  Certainly some of the stories gave this reader something to consider.


“It is no wonder, then, that some of these soldiers linger here in spirit, as they do at every major Civil War battlefield and no doubt countless other unsung battle locations throughout the country.”

Haunted Marietta is a wonderful look at a small slice of the Southern past, including some that may be lingering in the present.  I highly recommend it.


Haunted Marietta can be found on Amazon.com 



About the author:

Rhetta Akamatsu is a certified paranormal investigator, is a member of Ghost Hounds Paranormal Investigation Group and the national paranormal network ParaNexus.  She is a long-time resident of Marietta, Georgia and has a strong interest in history, psychology, and parapsychology.
She has also written two other books about the paranormal, Ghost to Coast, and Ghost to Coast Tours and Haunted Places, as well as the non-fiction book, T'aint Nobody's Business if I Do, about the women of blues music. 

Website:   http://www.ghosttocoast.us/


 

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Passing Fancies of Inspiration.


It seems, according to various articles I've read, people like to know the stories behind a book and how an author gets his/her inspiration. Generally, I don't ponder on my inspirations and it may be a touch dangerous to probe the workings of my mind, but I'm going to spill the secret of what motivated my book of short fiction, Passing Fancies.

The internet.
Yes, the world wide web is responsible for my collection of strange tales.  What, you say?  How did the internet inspire you?  A simple answer:  online writing groups, writing articles and Twitter.
Passing Fancies is a varied and odd collection of stories from short tales of 100 words or less to much longer narratives.  Much of the microfiction was written for a online writing group, Genre Shorties (where you write a tiny tale for a supplied prompt) and several of the longer stories were written for the Genre Creatives Challenge group.  Both of these groups can be found on Gather.com.

Two of the stories in the book, A Hand in his Pocket, and Time in a Box were thought up after I read posts by two online author friends.
A Hand in his Pocket came about after reading a post on how certain written phrases might appear if they were taken literally.  Example:  "He put a hand in his pocket", instead of "He put his hand in his pocket".  This gem of writing advice got me thinking, "Why would someone put a hand in his pocket if it wasn't his?" and my story, A Hand in his Pocket, was born, as were werewolves.  (Note:  I posted the original version of this story on Gather.com, but there is a re-written version in the book.)
Time in a Box has a far less complicated origin.  Another author friend was discussing writing exercises and how he was using photos for inspiration.  One of the photos he included in the article gave me my own bit of inspiration and a different view of time-travel.

Now for Twitter.  Two of the stories were directly inspired by Tweets and one story was born of frustration from a bad day of Twitter spam.
Veil of Tears germinated after someone tweeted about a spelling goof with the words, vale and veil and well, I think Die, Spam Die speaks for itself.
Conversation in the Country Club came about after I read a Tweet by Elmore Leonard (yes, the Elmore Leonard).  He was ruminating on how he wrote about the dark underbelly of life and commented how he thought it was more interesting than a conversation in a club.  I would like to point out I did not disagree with this observation, but the thought did occur to me, "it would depend on the conversation".  Hence, my story about a strange underbelly in a country club.

So now you know.  My twisted mind can warp even the most mundane observation.


Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The Charming Saga Resumes: A review of Kirins: The Flight of the Ain

The following book review is the second volume of the Kirins Trilogy; you can find my review of the first book, Kirins: The Spell of No’an, here: http://afstewartblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/book-review-kirins-spell-of-noan.html

Note for the FTC (in compliance with their new "rules"): Since I reviewed his first book in the trilogy, the author kindly asked me if I would care to read the second book; he provided me with a free e-book copy of his book for this review.


My review of Kirins: The Flight of the Ain
by James D. Priest



Kirins: The Flight of the Ain, by James D. Priest is an excellent sequel to the first delightful book of the Kirins and continues their saga with an ever-deepening story.

The book begins where the previous novel ended and although events of the first volume are woven into this narrative, I do recommend you read the books in order. This part of the trilogy has our tiny band of fantasy creatures, the Kirins, still pursuing their quest to restore what is amiss with their magic. They make headway in their travels, encounter dangers, new friends, find strange new Kirin communities and discover answers to the location of their destination.

The travelers moved cautiously up the last few stairs. Speckarin, at the head of his party, neared the entrance, peered through, and to his immense surprise saw the ocean. But instead of the tumultuous onslaught of breakers, waves were washing serenely over a sandy beach. A hint of something was in the air—smoke, thought Speckarin—and a second vague scent not immediately identifiable.


I found the pacing far better in this book, than I did in the first novel. The quest seems be more urgent and our tiny heroes more focused. The book still holds the sense of wonder and fantasy I enjoyed the first volume and expands on the well-crafted world in which the Kirins live. The interaction of Kirin world and human world is very credible and the portrayal of the extraordinary homes of the Kirins a delight.
I especially liked the character depth in this book; the author did an exceptional job of letting the characters develop and grow. They suffer troubles and tragedy, persevere and show courage to chase their mission. The author’s creations are well-rounded beings, both familiar and strange and the connection between reader and character is effortless.

What can possibly go wrong next? wondered Speckarin. Our water’s nearly gone. Thelasa’s food and containers are gone. Hut’s food’s been decimated. We now have three marginal stores to feed seven. Hut’s wounded, here on this endless, hostile ocean. And we have nothing to treat him with but this bit of cloth!


The second book in the trilogy expands on the situations and themes of the first volume nicely, giving readers more insights into both the characters and the fantasy culture of Kirin society. I enjoyed this second installment of the Kirin adventures and look forward to reading the conclusion.

I highly recommend this enjoyable fantasy book.


Website for the Kirins books:
http://www.kirinbooks.com/Kirinbooks.com/KIRINS_Home.html


About the Author:

James D. Priest, M.D., majored in English at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. He studied English in the masters program and received a Doctor of Medicine degree at the University of Minnesota. He spent three years in Japan as a physician in the Army of the United States caring for casualties from Viet Nam, and four years in orthopedic residency at Stanford University. He practiced orthopedics in Minneapolis for twenty-one years.
In addition to "Kirins", he has authored or co-authored approximately thirty medical articles, the
book for the layperson, "Beating Prostate Cancer without Surgery",and received the Minnesota Medicine Outstanding Writing Award.

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