Collected Works, History, Non-Fiction, True strange Happenings

#420 Ghosts of the Carolina Coasts by Terrance Zepke

Ghosts of the Carolina Coasts by Terrance ZepkeGhosts of the Carolina Coasts by Terrance Zepke

I recently went on a short trip to the outer banks of North Carolina. At the Cape Hatteras lighthouse visitor center I picked up a book by a somewhat local author and endeavored to read it. I mostly read this book on the ferry from Hatteras island to Ocracoke island. Ocracoke totally being where Blackbeard liked to hang out, maybe I’ll write about that later. Yes, the real Blackbeard, for real, liked to hang out there.

This is a collection of local ghost stories. The ghost stories are both from North Carolina and South Carolina. They mainly concern the coasts, as mentioned, but some of the areas mentioned in the stories are further inland.

There is an important thing you must know about books like this. You may not believe in ghosts, whatever, it’s your choice, but that doesn’t mean these stories don’t have merit. These stories are about history. Most of these stories surround a real-life event and the aftermath of that event. There would have been a record of a man burning down a saloon because he felt jilted. The story that happens afterwards may be real or it may not be real. These stories have ingrained themselves into the local lore of the areas they concern. They’re retold for their shock value and creep value, but the history of the story gets transported right along with the creepy.

Terrance has written a few of these books, but I chose this one, primarily because it was the cheapest. Unfortunately, unlike The Carl Sandburg Home, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse visitor center doesn’t have a book stamp that says you bought the book there. I was a bit disappointed.

I also bought this book because I like ghost stories.

One of the more memorable tales in this book was about Blackbeard. Supposedly, he fell for a young woman in the area. He liked her; she didn’t like him. She said she was about to be married and she loved her fiance just so much. Blackbeard was kind if irritated about this, so he cut off the fiance’s finger and gave it to this woman. The fiance was never found. The bride was upset and would wait on the docks for her fiance to see if she could see him. Later, supposedly, she did marry Blackbeard, I guess because he was there, Ocracoke island only has about 900 residents these days, I’m sure there were less back then, there probably wasn’t much of a choice. Supposedly, you can see her ghost waiting on Blackbeard or her fiance to return, sometimes.

Another story concerned the area I was staying in. The area is called Buxton and it’s on Hatteras island. The story goes that a young man went to a voodoo woman for a love potion, but he didn’t follow directions and the girl became obsessed with him. He wanted out; he told her so, but she killed herself. He became distraught and lived in the empty house of the voodoo woman for the rest of his life.

There was another story concerning the Hilton Head lighthouse. A lighthouse keeper lived there with his daughter. He got caught in a storm one night and suffered a heart attack on the steps of the lighthouse. His daughter went looking for him and also died in the storm due to exposure. The story goes that a man and a little girl can be seen on the island from time to time.

The story of Roanoke was also in the book. No one knows what happened to those people. We can guess, but no one knows. The first English child born in what is now the United States, Virginia Dare, was born on Roanoke island and subsequently disappeared with the rest of the colony. I think that’s kind of sad. Roanoke has spawned many tales and stories over the years. It’s definitely one of history’s mysteries.

What I liked

Despite the fact that this is a ghost story book, it contains a lot of history, just as I mentioned before. I liked that I was able to learn so much about the area from one little book. I could have learned more. I passed up a few books on Blackbeard. You have to consider that an area like the outer banks of North and South Carolina have been populated for a very, very long time. There are going to be strange bumps in the night and history upon history. There are secrets upon secret.

I don’t care who you are, an entire colony of people just disappearing is weird. What happened to them? Were they murdered? Did they turn native? Did aliens abduct them? Who knows? They didn’t leave a lot of clues besides the word “Croatoan,” carved in a tree. That’s it. It’s highly fascinating.

What I didn’t like

I can’t really say there was anything I didn’t like about the book. It was short, so maybe that was something I didn’t like. It didn’t have pictures, well, it did, but I was hoping for actual photographs, it has a few, but not for every story. I would like to have seen pictures of some of these areas spoken of in the stories. Like I said, a few of the stories had photographs, but not all of them. I think it would be really neat to see a picture of this place or that place, this coast line, this dock, this bay and so on.


Here is a hint for you… if you want to learn about an area you’re traveling to, buy a local ghost story book by a local author. You’ll get the local history as well as the local lore and you won’t have to spend a ton of money doing so.

blackbeard stories, blackbeard the pirate, buxton, cape hatteras light house, coastal ghost stories, ghost stories, ghost stories in the carolinas, ghosts of the carolina coasts, Ghosts of the Carolina Coasts by Terrance Zepke, hatteras, light house, lighthouses, north carolina ghost stories, ocracoke, outer banks, pirates, south carolina ghost stories, terrance zepke
Collected Works, History, Non-Fiction, True strange Happenings, Zepke-Terrance

Collected Works, Comical true life, Health, History, Home, How To, Non-Fiction, Random fact, Reference

Spotlight: Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Collection

I have been a fan of this book series since high school, not because I spent all my time in the bathroom, but because this series is full of lots of interesting information. I’ve lost track of how many of these books exist these days. Each book is rather thick and has nice digestible bits of information that span one to three pages, usually. There are some items that are several sections long.

One of the more interesting articles I have read in an Uncle John book was about how to teach your cat to use the toilet. I wish my cats knew how to do that. I have the instructions somewhere.

I have over ten of these books that I do like to peruse from time to time. Sometimes I just need to ready wacky court transcripts or read silly laws in various states.

So if you’re looking for something to read that is full of large amounts of easily readable information pick yourself up one of these.

Collected Works, McIntyre-Mike, Memoir, Non-Fiction, social commentary

#211 The Wander Year by Mike McIntyre


I read Mike’s other book about wandering. His other book The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America deals with Mike’s bright idea to travel across the United States without any money. I’ll have to be honest with you, I don’t think Mike is too smart for doing this. This was in the early 1990s so times weren’t as tough as they are today, but still, seriously, Mike, think ideas through before you carry them out.

This book is about Mike and his wife traveling around the world. Yes, Mike manages to find a wife even if he did pull that weird hitchhiking stunt. At the time Mike and Andrea weren’t married yet. So just imagine your boyfriend asks you to travel around the world with him for a year without you killing him along the way.

Things turned out alright for the pair. They planned the trip for months. They budgeted $40,000 for their jaunt around the world. They made charts about weather. They bought plane tickets that were good for up to six months. They took very little in the way of clothing.

On their trip Mike and Andrea visit six continents. They go a of places they have never been and they go a few places they have been before. They visit the South Pacific. They visit New Zealand, which is a place I would really like to go. They visit Bali. They visit India. They visit Nepal. They visit China. They go to Spain and Ireland. They go to Chile. They go to Bolivia. They even get right at the edge of Antarctica while they are in South America.

That is a lot of places to see in just one year. They don’t go home to visit anybody during this time. People do come and see then though along their journey. On several occasions friends and family meet them in various countries for a visit.

There are some humorous incidents. For the length of the entire book Mike complains that Andrea has brought a blow-up clothes hanger in her bag. Mike thinks this is weird and frivolous, but later on, he learns to like the hanger. During the journey Mike and Andrea are accosted by carpet salesmen in Morocco and a couple of other countries. They meet some Unarians in South America, which are basically people who have some sort of religion that involves UFOs.

Mike and Andrea see a lot of beautiful sights. They talk about how New Zealand makes them sick because it’s so perfect.

What I liked: I don’t know how it has come to pass that I have read two books about globe-trotting in very little time. I guess it just turned out that way. I do find it interesting to read about other people’s travels. That way, if you’re planning a trip you can use the recommendations and stories of others to get where you want to go.

Each leg of the trip is divided into an essay. Mike originally wrote these for either a magazine or a newspaper. It’s nice that he bound them in a book. The good thing about this idea is that you don’t have to read this long drawn out section about one country or another. The sections are short and do not take long to read.

The book isn’t actually very long. The e-book version includes either the whole The Kindness of Strangers or a very large sample of it at the back. So don’t look at the page numbers listed for the Kindle version and be discouraged. It’s not really that long.

At the end of the book there is a breakdown of costs. Mike and Andrea spend over ten thousand dollars more than they had planned to. They list what they spend on hotels, air travel, other transportation costs and food. It’s kind of neat to see how much money it took them to get around the world.

What I didn’t like: This is a nice book and all, but some of it really seems in that realm of not-relateable. How many people have $40,000 dollars lying around that they can blow on a trip around the world? If I had $40,000 it would not be spent on a trip around the world. In fact, if most people had $40,000 it wouldn’t be spent on a trip around the world.

For another matter, who quits their job to go on a trip around the world? We’re in the age of keep your job pretty much no matter what. I think people could probably relate more to Mike’s previous trip across the United States without any money than they could to his trip around the world with $50,000 dollars.

I think extravagant travel is probably waning in its popularity. Yes, it’s sad, but people just don’t have that kind of money anymore. Through economic inflation and a terrible job market, people don’t have the money to make those trips to Disney World, let alone a trip to South America. I would love to travel around the world some day, maybe not all at once though. I would rather go in short bursts. I may never have enough money to do that.

Overall, this book is entertaining. It is interesting. I don’t now how Mike and Andrea managed so well on their very long trip. These two are twelve years older now. I don’t know what they find to spend their time on these days.


Collected Works, History, Memoir, Non-Fiction, social commentary, Various

#165 2:46 Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake by Various


This book is a collection of stories concerning the very large Earthquake in Japan over a year ago. This is close to my heart because I was in Japan when this happened. I wasn’t anywhere near where any of this happened, but I was still there and felt a lot of the emotion that was traveling around during the time.

The main force in creating this book got the idea from looking at a Twitter feed on the days of and days following the Earthquake. I think it’s nice to hear from the people who lived it what went on.

I started reading and repeatedly I read stories about people walking home from work for miles and miles. I read stories about the phone services going down. I read stories about children having to spend the night at school. I read stories about not having anything to eat but rice balls. I read stories about families worried about other family members.

Some of the authors were very close to where everything happened. Some were further away. This was not an earthquake that kept to one location. I have several friends in Japan who teach English and all of them were directly affected by this earthquake even though they weren’t that close to the epicenter.

What I liked: I liked reading stories about what happened. I liked knowing that the people of Japan were sticking together during this time of crisis. If this disaster had happened in the United States you would not belive the chaos it would cause. We are not as orderly or as polite as the society of Japan. Say whatever you want, but it’s true. I lived in Japan for a while, I know. I think it’s amazing how so many of the people decided to stay. Many of the people affected by hurricane Katrina decided to leave and not go back. Why go back to a place that was a disaster? Why go back to a place that was trying to kill you?

Japan definitely has its share of earthquakes. It is on what is called “the ring of fire,” no, I’m not talking about a Johnny Cash song. The ring of fire is around the pacific tectonic plate. English please? The Earth’s crust is made of plates. The one that forms the pacific ocean is very large. Whenever plates collide there are mountains, but there are also volcanos and earthquakes. The plates never stop moving. Whenever you experience an earthquake or a volcano it is because the plates underneath you are still moving around.

The largest earthquake I experienced in Japan was a 6.0 on the Richter scale. I was half asleep when it happened and thought my husband was being a dork and shaking the bed. I can’t imagine what it would be like to experience an earthquake that was a 9.0. That is huge. For the most part people in the United States are free of earthquakes, unless you live in California, which is going to fall off into the ocean one day…not really. There are tremors on the east coast every so often, but they are few and far between.

It’s hard for us in the United States to imagine what this would be like. To top it off Japan now has to deal with nuclear radiation. Ok, short aside on radiation people…radiation is never good for you. There are people who will say, “Hey it’s ok to get some radiation.” No, it’s not ok to get some radiation. Your body can handle small amounts without much of a problem, but you don’t want to constantly expose yourself to the stuff. Something else, there are all kinds of different radiation. There is nuclear radiation, there is solar radiation, there is microwave radiation, there is electromagnetic radiation, and even your cell phone puts off radiation. In short bursts you’re ok. That is why it’s fine for a person to get an x-ray every now and then and be ok, but it’s not ok to get x-rays all the time. I’m looking at you TSA.

When something like a nuclear leak happens, you are receiving more radiation in a shorter amount of time than your normally would; this is what makes the whole thing dangerous. Sure being around, let’s say, Tokyo right now, may only give you the amount of radiation you would receive in six months from the sun or whatever, but in a much shorter amount of time. You’re probably not going to get sick from this. You may not notice anything. It’s only if you are closer to a larger source of radiation that you might get radiation sickness.

Ok? It’s important that you understand radiation is never good.

What I didn’t like: I wish there would have been more Japanese natives contributing to this book. There were a few, but for the most part the authors were ex-pats of American or Canadian origin or ex-pats from Japan living in the states. I really wanted to hear more of what actually went on. How did it relate to the culture?

I also would have liked to read more stories from closer to where everything actually happened. These stories are mild compared to what others went through. I don’t want anyone to read this and think as a whole this was what went on. No, things were terrible for the people who had to leave their homes because A) they lived in the evacuate zone around the nuclear power plants or B) their homes just weren’t there anymore. People lost family members.This was a terrible, terrible, thing and I don’t think this particular collection of stories really conveys how awful it really was.

I don’t like how people have forgotten about this. That whole radiation thing is still happening. Japan is going to have to deal with this radiation leak forever pretty much. There is no magical solution to make nuclear radiation just go away. I’m glad Japan is chosing to go without nuclear power plants because of what happened, but I’m not glad that every other country isn’t following along. Do you even know how many nuclear power plants we have in the United States that are close to fault lines and/or oceans/rivers? You would be surprised. I’m within range of at least three nuclear power plants. If something happened to one of them, it would probably be a good idea for me to get the heck out of dodge.

I don’t like how we’re not hearing about the bravery and sacrifice that the people who are at Fukushima power plant now are exhibiting. Those people are going to die for what they are doing. There is no question. They may not die right away. It may take years, but those people will die because of the work they are doing trying to stem the leak from Fukushima. Those people are heroes. Do we hear about them in the news? No. It’s the custom in Japan to not draw a lot of attention to yourself. It’s a custom to exhibit honor. It’s a custom to be brave even when you don’t want to be.

This is something that shook the whole world. It’s something that we should remember. Things like this book only go so far to help us in our remembrance.

Collected Works, Comical true life, Health, Non-Fiction, ponder provoking, Teague-Gloria, True strange Happenings

#153 Safe in the Heart of a Miracle: More True Stories of Medical Miracles by Gloria Teague


Every once in a while you just want to read a book that makes you feel good. This is one of those books, although, it’s a little corny.

There are twelve supposedly true stories in this book with people who survived against all odds. It’s like a book version of I shouldn’t be Alive or as Southpark puts it; I should’ve Never have Went Ziplinning.

The book isn’t just straight facts of what happened the author, Gloria, dramatizes the entire thing. I don’t know if her dramatized events are actually something like what happened or she just made up the events leading to the actual events.

In one story a mother is surprised to find her son home from Afghanistan, which I find unlikely because there are too many logistics to deal with coming home from a foreign country, but whatever. This mother is happy to have her son home and he’s happy too. He goes to a party some of his friends decide to throw for him down at the lake. Some trouble makers show up and due to the string of events the returned soldier ends up with an ax in his head. That’s right, an ax. The ax is embedded into the soldier’s head four inches and by a miracle it went perfectly between the two hemispheres of his brain. The soldier lives.

There are other stories in the book. There are stories where one sibling dies, but others survives. There are stories where entire families are attacked. There are stories were single women are attacked. There are stories of car accidents and other happenings.

Honestly, I really like to hear about the miracles every day people are given in life. If you don’t belive miracles exist just watch Animal Miracles hosted by Growing Pains dad Alan Thicke for ten minutes. I love to watch that show whenever it comes on some random channel. Of course, I don’t actually have cable or satellite so my chances of seeing it are slim.

There are facts in this world and then there is faith. Sometimes when the facts say you have zero chance, you somehow manage to make it by faith. Some call it luck, or whatever. Whatever you call it can’t be denied that some people do something against all odds without any science or facts to back them up.

I’ve heard many stories in which a person survives if only by an inch. Life is just something you can’t plan out.

What I liked: I liked the stories. I like how many of these people survived when things were all against them.

What I didn’t like: Gloria dramatizes all these stories. She puts so much in that I am not even sure if these are one-hundred percent true stories or something she has just made up. She is also a very corny writer. At one point she even uses the phrase ‘the halitosis of hatred.’ Seriously? The bad breath of hate? Who doesn’t love stringing a bunch of words together that start with the same letter? Dr. Suess does it; Barney the Purple Dinosaur does it; why not do it in a story about people almost dying?

I wish the stories were presented in a more factual manner. The presentation just seems very corny and cheesy.

There are quite a few grammar errors in this e-book. I know I have mentioned before that I don’t believe people edit their e-books as much as hard copy books are edited. E-books should be presented in a professional manner just like regular old books.

Overall, it’s an ok collection, but it’s not amazing.

Collected Works, Comical true life, Non-Fiction, Torkells-Erik

#74 A Stingray Bit my Nipple: True Stories from Real Travelers by Erik Torkells and the Readers of Budget Travel


Just imagine, you’re on vacation, when something unexpected happens……you get bit by a stingray on the nipple. I will level with you, I had to read this after reading the title. Where in the world, besides here, are you going to find the words ‘stingray’ and ‘nipple’ in the same sentence? Nowhere! When two completely unrelated items are in a title of book you know it’s going to be comical and this definitely was.

This books holds a collection of short paragraphs sent in by readers of Budget Travel. Each story is quite entertaining. There are quite a few stories about incidents with animals, including the one about the stingray.

There are also hilarious stories about tour guides and waiters on cruise liners. Wear a black dress to dinner on one cruise line, no matter your sex, and get plenty of attention from the waiter.

Also contained in this collection are stories about interesting and embarrassing cultural experiences. Bidet stories abound.

What I liked: It’s short and easy to read. There are also pictures, which add quite a bit to the stories. This book is currently free on Amazon for Kindle, so snap it up for some light reading. You could actually read the entire book in one sitting if you chose to do so.

The stories were comical and heart-warming at the same time. One of my favorites is about ordering a side dish called something like “we tell you you’re beautiful all night long” and it’s not actually food. The waiters just tell you that you are beautiful the entire time you are there, which is just awesome.

 What I didn’t like: I think there could have been more stories. There were quite a few and I really liked them, but there could have been more. They could have also been arranged into categories, for example, animals, culture, transportation, etc..

The formatting wasn’t the greatest for the Kindle. Pictures were on separate screens than stories and screen space was wasted after the ends of the stories. Who ever decided to release this on Kindle, needs to go back and format it correctly for the Kindle so it doesn’t look so bad when you’re clicking through it.

Overall impression is, it’s funny and it’s short. A good item to have to pick your mood up.

Bannister-Nonna, Collected Works, History, Memoir, Non-Fiction

#60 The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister by Nonna Bannister


If you’re looking for a rather short memoir about the Holocaust this is a good one to read, especially if you’re a bit squeamish because there isn’t much brutality depicted in this book.

This book was compiled from Nonna’s own diaries that she kept since she was a little girl. It is obviously not her complete diaries the book would have been much longer. The primary information came from a small diary that Nonna carried with her through out all of her trials in a small pillow she had sewn.

Nonna kept her life a secret up into her old age. Until she was an old woman her husband never really knew about her past. Her children never knew it either.

Nonna came from a wealthy Russian/Ukrainian family. Her family was so wealthy that they owned a 37 room house in addition to multiple other homes. Her family had been loyal to the Czar’s in Russia before their murder and overthrow. Nonna gives a little background information on this.

Nonna then starts to tell of how her older brother was sent away when things started to heat up in Russia. Then they moved back into the grandmother’s house. Her father was beaten and then died from his wounds in the town where the grandmother lived.

Eventually, Nonna and her mother are transferred to a work camp. They suffer through horrible conditions, although the conditions are not as bad as what Jewish people suffer. Nonna got by relatively easy compared to the Jewish population. Nonna even suspects that her father is from a Jewish family since her father never talked about his family and he taught Nonna Yiddish.

In the end, Nonna is the only remaining member of her family. This is a result that so many people faced at the end of WWII.

What I liked: It was a short simple account of a wealthy Russian family during WWII. I had never read any account of that before and it was educational. Russia intrigues me to an extent because I have never read many books placed in Russia. I would like to read more because it’s interesting.

What I didn’t like: There is some poetry in the book written by Nonna. It’s just not that great. I know any greatness it probably ever had been lost in translation. Nonna spoke seven differently languages. Her diaries were kept in many languages for fear that she would be discovered.

After the first couple of poems, I skipped over the rest of the poems in the book.

Another thing I didn’t like was the layout of the book. After ever chapter, before every section, and other various places in the book there is this graphic, which I assume is supposed to be the cloth that Nonna made her pillow out of. This may be a nice effect in the print version, but in the Kindle version it’s a pain in the butt. No one wants to click one page, see a full-page graphic which isn’t even an illustration, then flip another page to see a title, then flip another page to see another graphic. It’s not a practical layout.

Since this is a memoir, I also assume that the print version probably has pictures of Nonna’s life. Multiple photos were mentioned, but only one photo was ever included in the text. I wanted to see the photos referred to in the text. If they exist they should have been included in the text. I know there is this trend to remove images from Kindle books, but that just isn’t cool. I know they take up more space on the Kindle, but if they are removed something from the book is lost. An author or editor or whoever intends certain images to appear certain places in a book and it’s just not the same if they’re not there.

Nonna had a hard life, but it wasn’t that hard compared to many others. I am glad she finally gave her husband and family permission to share her story after her death. I do have this give this book a “thumbs down” on appearance and layout though.