Friday 25 July 2008

Book Review- T’ain’t Nobody’s Business if I Do: Women Blues Singers Old and New

Written as a series of short biographies, T’ain’t Nobody’s Business if I Do: Women Blues Singers Old and New by Rhetta Akamatsu, is a revealing peak into the characters of memorable women in the world of blues music. After giving a short introduction into the background of the blues, the author lets us glimpse into the lives of the women that sang the music. She takes the reader from the early days of singers carving out the industry, to the ladies of today that still carry the blues legacy. Each biography is complemented with photos, quotes, selected song lyrics and footnotes.

It is quite obvious from the first sentence that the author knows her subject, and has an affection for the blues. Ms. Akamatsu has done her research, infusing the book with absorbing facts, while maintaining a lively, entertaining pace and feel to the book.

It is a captivating look into music history, and in her writing style she manages to capture the essence of the blues era at its heyday. The book is written with atmosphere that clearly invokes both a time and a lifestyle. Even when writing of the modern blues musicians, the legacy is never far away.

She writes:

“Of course, this was a hard-drinking, hardloving, hard-fighting life, and a woman had to be tough. Many of the women blues singers were tall, big-boned, and quick with temper and fist. All of them could stand up for themselves. There were no shrinking violets among the early blues women.”

And here she paints a vivid picture:

“They spent lots of time roughing it on the road, playing in juke joints and bars, or in tents in the middle of fields. They traveled in overcrowded, broken down trucks and cars, or on buses and trains. They ate at the backdoors of restaurants and in alleys, or at eating establishments for blacks only, and they slept in the homes of relatives or friends or in black boarding houses (many of which did not cater to entertainers.) Sometimes they slept in the cars or trucks.”

Ms. Akamatsu opens the lives of these women for viewing, and never pulls any punches; she lays out the details, bad and good. All the pain, triumphs, blood and tears are arranged on the pages.

She pens:

“Janis wanted to be the living embodiment of Bessie Smith. She tried to act tough and free, but she was really vulnerable and insecure. She loved her Southern Comfort and she preached free love, but a world of pain came through in her voice.”

I highly recommend the book for anyone who likes a good read, but especially for fans of biographies, or music lovers.

Rhetta Akamatsu is a freelance writer, and author of Ghost to Coast, a paranormal handbook of ghost tours, paranormal investigation groups, and haunted hotels. She has also penned the craft recipe book for kids called Crafty Kids: Make Your Own Craft Recipes. You can find more information on these books as well as T’ain’t Nobody’s Business if I Do: Women Blues Singers Old and New on the website:

T’ain’t Nobody’s Business if I Do: Women Blues Singers Old and New is available on

Monday 7 July 2008

Book Review

Here is the first post in my series of book reviews and recommendations.

Book Review of The Long and Short of It by Gretchen Lee Bourquin:

Author Gretchen Lee Bourquin manages to write a contemporary and intimate slice of life in her book of poetry, The Long and Short of It.

The Long and Short of It is a book of twenty-five poems that the author divides into four categories: Poems at Play, a selection of graceful and whimsical verses; A Celebration of Craft, insightful poetry into the skill of writing and the muse; Finding a Place, a variety of introspective poems; and Poetry of Conscience, a commentary on different societal conditions.

Ms. Bourquin has a strong voice, a straightforward style and thankfully, does not indulge in overly fluffy prose. She knows how to capture a visual image, and reinforce it with emotional impact.

In the poem “Permission” she pens:

“She wraps herself inside her flannel tomb
to ward off chills that rival winter's breath.
She wonders how she'll dare to grant herself
a chance to move outside her inner shell,
and pull herself from self-inflicted death.”

One poem in particular I enjoyed was her “Casey at the Bat” sequel, “Casey in the Dugout.” Not only was it an amusing comment on the original poem, but I believe it holds satiric significance for today’s game of baseball.

She writes:

“Once the field was emptied and the crowd had been dispersed,
Casey's loyal fans did yell at him and tell him he's the worst
The once compliant baseball fans became an angry mob
And those who'd begged for autographs, now called the man a slob”

The author knows how to paint an effective portrait in verse, while quietly weaving in her unique view of the world. Her poetry is a gentle vista of the everyday. The Long and Short of It has no extraordinary, philosophical musings, but does offer quiet observations, intermingling with a few perceptive opinions.

Gretchen Lee Bourquin graduated with a Bachelor's of Arts Degree in Literature/Creative Writing from Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, MN, and garnered some early writing success with various publications. She has, in addition to The Long and Short of It, a published novel No Sensible People. Her biography and book information can be found on her website:

Friday 4 July 2008

Reviews and recommendations are coming.

I have found quite a few deserving and talented authors while engaging in my online literary endeavors and travels, so I have decided to post an occasional book review and book recommendations here in my blog.

The reviews and book recommendations will most likely be in genres I enjoy: fantasy, sci-fi, mystery and historical nonfiction.

So if you want the scoop on something new to read, check back every now and then. The first review should be up next week.

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