Book talk: ‘A Haunted Life,’ ‘Sarah’s Shadows,’ ‘From Cedar Point to the Confederacy’

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New Philadelphia musician
writes two haunting books

In A Haunted Life: The True Ghost Story of a Reluctant Psychic, New Philadelphia musician Debra Robinson says she’s “too Christian for the psychic world and too psychic for the Christian world,” often fighting her religious rearing about whether she should perform readings. She tells of accidents narrowly avoided by friends whom she warned of danger, and a grandmother who predicted death with visions of a white bird.

Robinson tells of her early first marriage and an abusive relationship, and her life with her second husband and bandmate, Rod, and son, James, all while she was learning to manage and interpret her gift of clairvoyance. In a reading from another psychic, she is told that darkness follows her, and it seems that it does, as she endures several heartbreaking tragedies and misfortunes.

For the believer, the book will reinforce the connection between this world and the next; to the nonbeliever, Robinson’s description of the house where her family moved to when she was 14 is the stuff of great horror fiction.

Robinson’s novel Sarah’s Shadows uses some events from her life to tell the story of a teenage girl who dies and enters the afterlife, finding her brother waiting for her.

Jesse had died two years before, having been hit by a drunk driver, and tells her that their father, John, who committed suicide in his grief, is stuck between the Light and the Darkness. Jesse has left the Light to take Sarah to him, so she can help lead the way out of the Caves of Consequence.

Though Robinson makes several analogies to The Wizard of Oz, with Jesse and Sarah picking up companions on their journey much as Dorothy did, there also is a strong sense of Dante’s Inferno, as the group wanders through treacherous caves, trying to avoid monsters and demons.

Sarah meets two young men: Charlie, who becomes her protector, and Jason, who incites Charlie’s jealousy. The battle for John’s soul extends to the rest of the group, becoming an epic good-versus-evil struggle, with Christian allusions to Satan as the Father of Lies.

A Haunted Life (261 pages, softcover) costs $16.99 from Llewellyn Worldwide, a Minnesota publisher that began offering books about astrology in 1901. The website is Sarah’s Shadows (199 pages, softcover) costs $10.99 from online retailers.

History of Route 250

Medina physician Robert A. Musson traveled U.S. 21 so often that he wrote a book about it — Readin’ Writin’ & Route 21: A Pictorial History of an American Road. Another thoroughfare with many stories to tell is U.S. 250, and Musson follows up his earlier book with From Cedar Point to the Confederacy: A Pictorial History of U.S. Route 250.

In his introduction, Musser explains that “few, if any, roads traverse more extended sections of isolated, tortuous landscape with minimal upgrades than Route 250.” In its 514-mile course from Sandusky to its southern terminus in Richmond, Va., 250 passes towns like Cadiz, Ohio, and Elkins, W.Va., crosses the Mason-Dixon Line and offers access to places like the Palace of Gold in the Hare Krishna community of New Vrindaban.

As he did in his previous book, Musson provides pictures of elaborate county courthouses and falling-down barns, and sidebars about points of interest like U.S. 250’s brief overlap with the 19th-century National Road, and events like the 1968 mine disaster in Farmington, W.Va.

For those who like history and choose to avoid the interstate, From Cedar Point to the Confederacy can be a travel companion. The 116-page softcover book costs $19.95 from, which also offers Musson’s books about brewing history.


Akron-Summit County Public Library (Nordonia Hills branch, 9458 Olde Eight Road, Northfield) — Cleveland novelist Nick Shamhart talks about his novel The Fog Within, about a woman with autism, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Registration requested; call 330-467-8595.

Hudson Library & Historical Society (96 Library St.) — Sportswriter Jonathan Knight talks about and signs Kardiac Kids: The Story of the 1980 Cleveland Browns, 7 p.m. Wednesday.

D’Angelo’s (7995 Darrow Road, Twinsburg) — The Learned Owl Book Shop’s Book Club in a Bar features Shaker Heights author Sam Thomas, who talks about and signs The Harlot’s Tale, second in his Midwife Mystery series, set during the English Civil War, 7 p.m. Thursday.

Barberton Library (602 W. Park Ave.) — Tallmadge author Amanda Flower talks about her books, including the Appleseed Creek and Amish Quilt Shop mystery series, 1 to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Coventry Library (1820 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights) — Cleveland native Daniel Stashower, whose The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War was announced Jan. 16 as a nominee in the Best Fact Crime category of the 2014 Edgar Awards, will discuss the book from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday. The Hour of Peril will be released Tuesday in paperback.

— Barbara McIntyre

Special to the Beacon Journal

Send information about books of local interest to Lynne Sherwin, Features Department, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309 or Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.

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