Author Archives: Lucy Peaden

Lori Copeland. The One Who Waits for Me. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2011.

Captain Pierce Montgomery, Second Lieutenant Samuel “Preach” Madison, and First Lieutenant Gray Eagle are three veterans traveling home to North Carolina after the Civil War. They cannot wait to get home to their family, the promise of peace, and the taste of sweet tea.

Beth and Joanie Jornigan are two sisters who have just undertaken the heartbreaking task of burying their parents. Although their hearts are heavy, the sisters see their parents’ deaths as an opportunity to flee their horrendous Uncle Walt and his son, Bear. Uncle Walt forced the Jornigans to work the farm, treating them as farmhands, not kin, and threatened to marry Beth to Bear while neglecting Joanie’s health. To add a touch of finality to this chapter of their lives, the Jornigan sisters torch their shanty as they leave the farm.

The soldiers’ plans for returning home are upended when they happen upon an enormous field fire. As they try to rescue survivors, they save the Jornigan sisters. Over the next few days, as the men help the sisters and another field hand (whose baby they just delivered) flee an angry Walt, the men begin to realize the impact these women will have on their lives. Romantic interests are formed, and Beth’s negative impression of men is challenged. Beth also realizes the power of prayer and the presence of a higher power.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Copeland, Lori, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Religious/Inspirational

Clyde Edgerton. The Night Train. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2011.

The phrase “the night train” has two meanings in Clyde Edgerton’s latest novel. For most people in Starke, North Carolina, this daily event is something to which they give little thought. Accepting the brief clatter, many have trained themselves to sleep right through it. The tracks upon which the train glides divide the small town racially, with Larry Lime Beacon of Time Reckoning Breathe on Me Nolan (so named by his grandmother) being from the black side and Dwayne Hallston being from the white side. Although they live on different sides of the track, Larry Lime and Dwayne forge a friendship that encompasses their shared love of mischief and music – and overlooks race.

For Larry Lime and Dwayne (and anyone else following pop culture in 1963) “Night Train” represents the hottest single on the charts. James Brown’s unbelievable presentation of it on Live at the Apollo prompts Dwayne to envision his band performing a similar rendition on the local television program The Brother Bobby Lee Reese Country Music Jamboree (a show that “people on both sides of the tracks enjoyed”). Fortunately for Dwayne, Larry Lime is musically gifted, especially after taking lessons from a  jazz master called The Bleeder, and he instructs his friend on exactly how to move, sound, and look on stage. When Dwayne and his band, the Amazing Rumblers, land a spot on the show, Dwayne and Larry Lime see firsthand how unprepared Starke (and society) is to see a white boy impersonating James Brown. In an age of sit-ins, with the Ku Klux Klan seven miles down the road, and prejudice strong, Dwayne and Larry Lime test the status quo, not afraid to blow like the night train through Starke, North Carolina.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Edgerton, Clyde, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Joanna Pearson. The Rites and Wrongs of Janice Wills. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2011.

Few people look back on their high school years without cringing at least a little. Social mores often seem to be at odds with creativity, and your social group has a lot to do with what you experience and how you feel about it. For young women in Melva, North Carolina, one of the rites of passage is participating in the Annual Miss Livermush Pageant. Although Janice Wills, a junior at Melva High School, agrees to take part in this tradition mostly to make her mother happy, she also has an ulterior motive. Janice is a budding anthropologist and she reasons that one way to make the next few weeks bearable is to approach the pageant in the same way the approaches life: as an anthropological study. How else could she get excited about a festival devoted to liver pudding? Just as she begins to develop fascinating hypotheses about adolescents, Janice’s friends throw her a curve ball. All of her “observations” seem to them to be mean-spirited criticisms. Being around her is no longer fun. Only when she takes an honest look at herself does Janice find the beauty surrounding her and the value of livermush-loving Melva.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Children & Young Adults, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Pearson, Joanna, Piedmont

Alison Pratt. A Murder Before Eden. Morrisville, NC:, 2010.

The adage that claims that “Truth is stranger than fiction” is often proven true. Newspapers publish “Weird News” sections, family folklore (albeit possibly embellished a little) is passed down through the generations, and history books always have their fair share of bizarre tales.

One such head-scratcher is set in 1940s Leaksville, North Carolina, which is now Eden. Tom Pratt, an elderly man, is viciously murdered in the middle of the night in his cabin. Only his wife, Ruby, caught a glimpse of the intruder. As the authorities begin to build an easy case against Junior Thompson, a neighbor who recently escaped from prison, Tom’s family begins to question that theory. Ruby’s description of the killer fails to match Junior’s appearance, and the circumstances of the crime seem highly unusual. Then there is the fact that they do not necessarily trust Ruby, the much younger and somewhat estranged wife of their father. Could she have something to do with the crime, allowing a possibly innocent African American man to be the scapegoat? Or is the Pratt family so caught up with questioning Ruby – to the point that they hire a lawyer to defend Junior – that they ignore all other possibilities? Only a small town jury can decide, but their ruling does not stop Leaksville residents from speculating for years to come.

This book is based on a real event, one that Alison Pratt has meticulously researched. In the book’s second part, she offers a follow up on the characters’ real lives as well as her own questions related to the case.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Historical, Piedmont, Pratt, Alison, Rockingham

Alice E. Sink. Gifts of Grace. Kernsersville, NC: Alabaster Book Publishing, 2010.

“Grace” may have been the name Mrs. Thomas Riley’s parents gave her at birth, but it is also the manner in which she chose to live her life. As a girl in Mount Olivia, North Carolina, at the turn of the twentieth century, Grace was level-headed, considerate, and driven. When Thomas, her older second cousin, asked for her hand in marriage, she joyfully accepted. Thus began a partnership in nearby Weston Ridge that nurtured four strong-willed children, built a booming business in the tobacco industry, and produced an exquisite estate, Rilea, and thriving community.

Rather than being content to focus solely on her home and family, Grace boldly undertook a variety of causes, including social reform for women and children. After the untimely death of Thomas, Grace remarried. Feeling such profound love for her new husband, Jonathan, Grace wanted  to have children with him too. Doing so was dangerous for Grace but she wanted Jonathan to experience the wonder of life and love that she so greatly enjoyed throughout her full–but tragically short–life.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Historical, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Sink, Alice E.

Eugene E. Pfaff, Jr. Guns at Guilford Court House. Greensboro, NC: Tudor Publishers, 2009.

The Revolutionary War has been going on for six years, and James Todd is beginning to feel even more conflicted about it. As a member of the New Garden Meeting House in Guilford County, North Carolina, he knows that he cannot participate in any violence, much less battle. To do so would put his Quaker standing into jeopardy. However, when James’s father is fatally injured by a British captain who steals the family’s horse, the teenager feels as if he has no choice. James must fight, in part to protect his family but also to avenge his father’s death. He befriends a free Black soldier named Glenn, and the two serve under General Nathanael Greene. General Greene, a disowned Quaker, understands James’ struggle in reconciling his religious convictions with his sense of patriotic duty. James provides geographic intelligence to the American army while addressing what to do when he comes face-to-face with his father’s murderer, accepting the Friends’ decision of his fate, and realizing the significance of friendship and family loyalty.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Children & Young Adults, Guilford, Historical, Pfaff, Eugene E., Piedmont

Ellery Adams. A Deadly Cliché. New York: Berkley Prime Crime, 2011.

Labor Day is approaching, and Oyster Bay, North Carolina, is bustling in preparation for a busy extended weekend. A popular tourist destination, the quaint village needs a spree of burglaries about as much as it needs a hurricane. Unfortunately, both are making their presence known. When the burglaries turn deadly, Olivia Limoges springs into action. A wealthy woman who owns about half of the town and genuinely cares for its citizens, she does not want Oyster Bay to get the reputation of being unsafe (even if it does weather the occasional storm). As a friend, fellow member of the Bayside Book Writers, and potential love interest of Sawyer Rawlings, Oyster Bay’s chief of police, Olivia has an inside source to the details of murders and robberies. Enlisting the help of her fellow writers and beloved poodle, Captain Haviland, Olivia realizes that the perpetrators leave clues in the form of clichés. Her quick wit will come in handy when she comes face-to-face with the criminals.

In the midst of exposing the Cliché Killers, Olivia also makes a personal discovery. For the past thirty years, she has accepted the fact that her father was lost at sea. When Olivia receives a letter telling her that her father is alive, but ill, and demanding $1,000, she writes it off as a blackmail ploy. However, when her curiosity gets the best of her, Olivia uncovers a stunning truth.

A Deadly Cliché is the second title in the “Books by the Bay Mystery” series.

Check the availability of this title in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog, or start with the first “Books by the Bay Mystery,” A Killer Plot.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Adams, Ellery, Coast, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Steve Watkins. What Comes After. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 2011.

Iris Wight knew that moving to Craven County, North Carolina, from her lifelong home in Maine would come with many changes, but she had no choice. Her father had just passed away, and her best friend’s family who was supposed to take care of the sixteen year old backed out of their promise. Iris’s only option was to start over in a new land where she would stand out with her Northern accent, attend a high school that did not offer the AP (Advanced Placement) classes she was used to, and would be without the comfort of her best friend and softball teammates.

What Iris could not have anticipated, though, was just how different her life in Craven County would be. Her Aunt Sue and cousin Book, both of whom she met briefly as a young child, do not welcome her with open arms (although Aunt Sue is more than happy to take Iris’s inheritance). Instead, they treat her as if she is a nuisance and give her the chores of milking the goats and pasteurizing the milk for cheese that will be sold at the farmers market. Iris does not mind these responsibilities; playing with the goats is the only form of warmth she receives in North Carolina. The way Aunt Sue and Book treat the farm animals and the family dog, however, deeply troubles Iris. Their cruelties are in stark contrast to the way her veterinarian father taught her. When she tries to protect the four-legged friends she has grown to adore, Aunt Sue and Book beat her. This violent act puts Iris in the hospital, then into foster care, and Aunt Sue and Book in jail. Over the next few months, Iris must prove to herself and to others that she is worthy of independence, trust, and affection.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.


Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Craven, Watkins, Steve

Alex Hairston. She Creeps. New York: Dafina Books, 2008.

For the first time in Naomi Gaffney’s twenty-nine years, life is normal. Although her childhood was marred by her white mother’s death, her black father’s conviction of that murder, and the racial tensions that episode created in the community of Eden, North Carolina, Naomi finally has the life she always wanted. She is married to a man she loves, has three children she adores, and household chores she enjoys, such as cooking big meals for her family. This should be the picture of perfection, but Naomi is unsatisfied. When her sister suggests she go outside of her marriage to find happiness, Naomi balks at the thought. Sure, the spark she and her husband once shared has lost its shimmer, but after seeing what happened between her parents, Naomi is not interested in ruining a good (if not great) thing. All of this changes when an attractive mechanic rescues her on the side of the road. Naomi gives in to the temptation, but this puts her life in danger. There is a sociopath on the loose in Eden who is targeting “sinners.”  That zealot kidnaps Naomi with the intention of murdering her. As Naomi confronts the complications her act of adultery has created, she realizes that the simple life was not so bad after all.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Hairston, Alex, Piedmont, Rockingham

Tamar Myers. The Glass Is Always Greener. New York: Avon Books, 2011.

Abby Timberlake Washburn, proprietor of the Den of Antiquity in Charleston, South Carolina, is delighted when she is invited to a soiree in Charlotte, North Carolina. This is not just any party – Jerry Ovumkoph, the eccentric and elderly aunt of Abby’s friend Rob, is hosting her own going-away party. Rather than being a sorrowful event in which family members and dear friends share their happy memories of Jerry, she uses the occasion to express her disappointment in her family and to announce the minimal gifts she will leave them. She also makes the peculiar bequest of her enormous emerald ring to Abby, a complete stranger.

Therefore, when Aunt Jerry is found lifeless in the freezer, the people closest to her become the prime suspects. Unfortunately, it was Abby who made the discovery, and the fact that the prized ring was missing from the deceased’s finger does not help Abby convince people that she is no murderer. As theories begin to form with her at the center, Abby enlists the help of her mother, best friend, and former sister-in-law to get to the bottom of the situation. Along the way, she befriends Aunt Jerry’s family members, leading her to uncover upsetting Ovumkoph family secrets.

The Glass Is Always Greener is the sixteenth and final novel in Tamar Myers’ “Den of Antiquity Mystery” series. The series began with Gilt by Association in 1996, and the first eight novels were set in Charlotte before Abigail moved her shop to Charleston, South Carolina. It’s nice to see our intrepid heroine come full circle.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Mecklenburg, Myers, Tamar, Mystery, Novels in Series, Piedmont