Ghosts & Spirits! BOO! - The Melting Pot
Fall is my favorite time of year. The trees reveal a beautiful array of bright colors; warm sweaters are pulled from their cedar chests for cool breezes; and the spicy scents of mulled wine or cider start to fill the air of my apartment. The first sort of holiday of the season is Halloween…I simply LOVE Halloween. I mean – who doesn’t love dressing up and being absolutely silly for a day (or two).
So, is it any wonder that I find myself reading ghost stories? Both books I’ve selected for this month’s column have ghosts that play prominent roles in the stories. I promise, they aren’t that creepy.
Let’s add the sweet flavor of Halloweenie treats to The Melting Pot.
EJ Russell is my kinda geek! All of her stories feature characters who are passionate about their work and interests. So, of course, I fell in love with Riley – folklorist and all around guru of the strange and paranormal. Poor Riley just can’t catch a break even when it comes to love! Logan is just trying to do the right thing. Unfortunately, he has some major cleaning up to do to fix the worst of his wrongs….
Stumptown Spirits is the first book in a planned series. The second book, Wolf’s Clothing, comes out on October 10th and I am SUPER excited to read it! Ms. Russell does a superb job of world building complete with a cast of quirky characters. I have to admit that I LOVE her characters….which is why you should take a hard look at the bonus book at the end of this post.
Stumptown Spirits (Legend Tripping: Volume 1) by EJ Russell
What price would you pay to rescue a friend from hell?
For Logan Conner, the answer is almost anything. Guilt-ridden over trapping his college roommate in a ghost war rooted in Portland’s pioneer past, Logan has spent years searching for a solution. Then his new boyfriend, folklorist Riley Morrel, inadvertently gives him the key. Determined to pay his debt—and keep Riley safe—Logan abandons Riley and returns to Portland, prepared to give up his freedom and his future to make things right.
Crushed by Logan’s betrayal, Riley drops out of school and takes a job on a lackluster paranormal investigation show. When the crew arrives in Portland to film an episode about a local legend of feuding ghosts, he stumbles across Logan working at a local bar, and learns the truth about Logan’s plan.
Their destinies once more intertwined, the two men attempt to reforge their relationship while dodging a narcissistic TV personality, a craven ex-ghost, and a curmudgeonly bar owner with a hidden agenda. But Logan’s date with destiny is looming, and his life might not be the only one at stake.
What initially attracted me to this book was the fact that it features an interracial (African-American & Caucasian) female lead in Oregon during the 1920’s. Oregon, the state where I live, isn’t the most diverse state and it definitely wasn’t diverse in the 1920’s. In fact, Oregon history is rife with intolerance…but I digress…. I picked up Cat Winters’ The Steep and Thorny Way because I just HAD to see how this story would unfold.
Hanalee really has the deck stacked against her and yet she still manages to survive and thrive. When her father’s convicted killer is released and returns to town, Hanalee wants to confront him and give him what he deserves. When she learns that her father was still alive after the accident there is a mystery to be solved. Did her stepfather, the town doctor, really murder her father? And why is her father’s ghost wandering around the roads at night? Add the Klan, corrupt townsfolk, and an odd family who makes their own moonshine to the mix and you have a story filled with plans within plans and loads of hidden agendas.
Take some time to savor this read. It really isn’t meant to be skimmed or rushed. Instead, it must be savored.
The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters
A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.
1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.
The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.
When EJ Russell asked me to do a sensitivity read for her short story, Sun, Moon, and Stars, I was more than willing to roll up my sleeves and help. Then we she mentioned that the main characters were a mage and a cyborg – I almost fell out of my chair.
Zal is mage who wields sun magic to maintain bridges, heal citizens, and take care of his general duties in his assigned territory during the warm season. Torian is a cyborg designed by the star-born Infomancers. Torian has the ability to shift from male to female or remain gender neutral based on what they consider to be the best form for survival. Working together, Zal and Torian start to unravel the true history of their world. Could it be that sunstones aren’t as rare as Zal was taught?
What a lovely story! And what an incredible challenge – Ms. Russell basically wrote a romance that features a character who is asexual matched with a character who is gender neutral. BRILLIANT! And yes, dear reader, not every romantic relationship includes sex. My only problem was that I wanted to read more! Ms. Russell assures me that there will be more stories that feature Zal and Torian.
Plus – this book is a fundraiser for The Gay Romance Northwest Meet-Up!
Magic & Mayhem: Fiction & Essays Celebrating LGBTQ Romance by E.J. Russell, Josh Lanyon, Ginn Hale, Megan Derr, Alex Powell, Karelia Stetz-Waters, Dev Bentham, Austin Chant
Everyone deserves to see themselves in stories, to see themselves get a happy ending. For the past few years, Gay Romance Northwest (GRNW) has helped to see those stories reach more of the LGBTQ community, and gain traction in libraries and beyond.
Furthering that goal is this collection of new fiction and essays, including information on how to get LGBT books in libraries, letters from authors sharing their personal reflections on writing, essays about why positive and happy queer books are so important, and short stories about tattooists, soldiers, mages, and cyborgs that span the LGBTQ spectrum and show that love has no bounds.
This anthology includes never-before-published short stories by Josh Lanyon, Karelia Stetz-Waters, Ginn Hale, Megan Derr, Dev Bentham, Alex Powell, EJ Russell and Austin Chant. Contributed essays include works by Radclyffe, Rick R. Reed, Jordan Castillo Price, Rose Christo, and EE Ottoman.
We welcome you to join the celebration and Read with Pride with us!
Columnist: C. Morgan Kennedy
I have a confession to make. I’m a time traveler. I love flinging myself into the future, then hurtling fast to an alternative past. In my usual time-space-dimension, I’m a mechanical engineer and business woman. So, I have a natural penchant for hover cars and steam or aether powered engines. Though I was born in the wrong era, I’m actually a child of the sixties – 1860, 1960, 2060.
My stories feature strong women, who know how to wield their minds like weapons. Their men are smart and often controlling….but, rest assured, my female leads give them a run for their money. They strive to follow their hearts and dreams for the betterment of themselves and their loved ones. Like my life, all of my stories feature a diverse cast of characters.
With my business partner, Therese Patrick, I work to demystify marketing principles for my author friends. Our first book, Author Marketing 101 Guide & Journal, was published by Gazebo Gardens Publishing and released in October 2013.
Steampunk, futurist, blerd, artist, author, and marketing maven…a real creative force of nature – that’s me in a nutshell.
Keep tabs on my adventures via my blog, Morgan’s Mix Tape, on my website: http://www.cmorgankennedy.com.