Category Archives: Henderson

Henderson

Sam Mills. The Money Tree. New York: Xlibris, 1999.

moneyMitchell Rainey and his brother Lee are country boys.  They live outside of town in the forested mountains.  And they know those mountains–the birds, the trees, the ravines and gorges, the old trails, the best places to fish.  On the way back from fishing one day, Mitch’s dog Mica takes off.  When Mitch catches up with him, they are at a remote clearing along the riverbed. There, in the hollow of a tree, Mitch notices a plastic bag.  A bag containing $1,800.

That night, Mitch shares the news of his find with his older brother Lee.  Lee, a high school boy who has just gotten an expensive parking ticket, cannot believe his brother’s good fortune.  And because the boys are close, Mitch readily agrees to share the money with Lee.  Lee now has the funds to buy a car and new clothes that will help him shed his hayseed image and attract the town girl he’s been pining after.  Mitch only pines for better fishing gear, a deer rifle, and new collars for his dogs.

But is turns out that Mitch is sharing danger as well.  That $1,800 is drug money and when the boys come to get the last of it, they see a man killed–a man who the dealers thought had cheated them.  The thugs know that the boys have seen the murder and they now now know who the real thief is.  Mitch and Lee have to run for their lives–through the forest that they know so well and that is well described in this coming-of-age adventure story.

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

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Filed under 1990-1999, 1999, Henderson, Mills, Sam, Mountains, Polk

Ann B. Ross. Etta Mae’s Worst Bad-Luck Day. New York: Viking, 2014.

“What I wanted more than anything else was to be somebody. Somebody who was respected and listened to and treated in a nice way all the time. What I wanted was to be in a situation where nobody would ever again look at me and, without blinking an eye, think the worst.”

That’s Etta Mae Wiggins talking, and this is her story.  Readers of Ann Ross’s Miss Julia Series know Etta Mae as the cheerful, voluptuous manager of Miss Julia’s trailer-park and an occasional sidekick in Miss Julia’s adventures.  It was Etta Mae who Miss Julia recruited to rescue J. D. Pickens when he was in danger in West Virginia, and Etta Mae found a housekeeper–her granny–to manage J. D. and Hazel Marie’s household after their twins were born.  Miss Julia knows that she can count on Etta’s Mae’s energy and good heart to help her solve the problems of family and friends in little Abbotsville.

In this book, Ann Ross takes a half-step away from the Miss Julia series to give us Etta Mae’s back-story.  Etta Mae is from the poorer part of Abbot County, and her people–the Wiggins clan–have been considered lazy and shiftless.  Etta Mae grew up already judged because of her family name.  Etta Mae hasn’t help herself by her way of dressing and her complicated romantic history; some of her own missteps only reinforced people’s negative opinion of her.  And Miss Julia was one of those doing the judging.  We learn that Etta Mae and Miss Julia did not immediately get off on the right foot, and that it took Hazel Marie’s intervention and some spiked punch to break the chill between them.  This is only one of a number of funny scenes in this gentle, enjoyable novel.  Etta Mae gets her man, and some of the respectability she seeks, but that’s not to say that everything works out as she planned.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Henderson, Humor, Mountains, Novels in Series, Ross, Ann B.

Ann B. Ross. Miss Julia’s Marvelous Makeover. New York: Viking, 2014.

makeoverFear not, gentle reader–Miss Julia is not giving up her classic, understated, age-appropriate look.  The subject of the makeover is Trixie, a twenty-something distant relative who has been sent to live with Miss Julia.  Trixie’s “Meemaw” thinks that Miss Julia is rich and uppity, but Meemaw wants the girl off her hands, so she puts Trixie on a bus to Abbotsville. Meemaw hopes that Julia will spruce up Trixie and find her a suitable husband.

Trixie’s visit comes at an inopportune time. Miss Julia and Sam are about to embark on a new adventure as Sam runs for a seat in the state senate.  Just as Sam’s campaign is taking off, he has to have surgery for a cantankerous gallbladder.  Suddenly, Miss Julia has to stand in for Sam at various campaign events.  Public speaking terrifies Julia, but little Lloyd adds moral support by accompanying her and even doing a little speech writing.

At least all is well again with the Pickens family.  Hazel Marie–with help from from James and Granny Wiggins–has her household back in order, with the twins well cared for and Hazel Marie feeling like her old self.  Hazel Marie helps Julia by taking Trixie off her hands.  Under Hazel Marie’s gentle guidance, and in a two-steps-forward, one-step-back process, Trixie begins to groom and dress herself better.  Unfortunately, Trixie attracts the attention of Rodney Pace, a young man on the make–for money.  Pace’s ambitions are focused on setting up a new funeral parlor in town–on land that Julia owns.  Soon Julia needs her full team of family and friends to thwart his plot, and what was to be a quiet summer in Abbotsville gets very hectic even before the Fourth of July fireworks get cold.

This is the fifteen novel in the Miss Julia series.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Henderson, Humor, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Ross, Ann B.

Terrell T. Garren. The Secret of War. Spartanburg, SC: The Reprint Co., 2004.

With the 150th anniversary of the Civil War upon us, many libraries, including this one, have digitized diaries, letters, and other documents that bring the realities of the war–for both soldiers and civilians–to light in a way that our school textbooks did not.  We now can know more about what drew men to fight for one side or the other, how they experienced the routines of military life, and how they felt about what they saw and did in battle.  Life on the home front also can come alive in these documents, showing us that the war changed the lives of people who never left their communities.

Terrell Garren covers this subject matter using fiction–fiction based on the experiences of his great grandparents.  Joseph Youngblood’s military service took him from Henderson County to battlefields across the  South and as far as a Union hospital in Indianapolis.  Delia Russell stayed on her family’s farm, but the war came to her in a devastating way.  Joseph and Delia’s stories are at the heart of the novel, but they are surrounded by a community of people–good and bad–and better known historical figures whose actions altered the lives of Mr. Garren’s ancestors. Mr. Garren does a good job of portraying the mixture of political allegiances in the western part of this state, the chaos at the end of the war, and the way that actions from those war years could reverberate through the decades.

The Secret of War is the fruit of many years of research.  Readers who are drawn to historical topics will be delighted by the historical photographs that Mr. Garren has included and by the index of names, places, events, and military units at the end of the book.

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

Interested in the Civil War? Click here to read today’s entry for Wilson Library’s The Civil War Day by Day blog.

 

 

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2004, Garren, Terrell T., Henderson, Historical, Mountains

Mark de Castrique. A Murder in Passing. Scottsdale, AZ: Poisoned Pen Press, 2013.

murder inReaders of the previous novels in this series know that author Mark de Castrique serves up engaging mysteries that are rich with literary and local history.  These novels are not just set in North Carolina, they weave our state’s history into the plot and the characters.

In A Murder in Passing, de Castrique introduces readers to the Kingdom of the Happy Land, a communal settlement of former slaves that existed on the North Carolina-South Carolina border in the late nineteenth century.  Detectives Sam Blackman and Nakayla Robertson are at the kingdom site for a mushroom hunt when Sam trips onto a fallen tree and discovers a skeleton. The skeleton is a big story on a quiet news day in western North Carolina, and soon Sam is once again the subject of a lot of talk. Coincidentally (or maybe not), the Blackman & Robertson Detective Agency is approached by Marsha Montogmery who wants them to find a rifle and a photograph stolen in the 1960s.  The photograph was made in the 1930s by the famous photographer Doris Ulmann at the site of the Kingdom of the Happy Land.

When Marsha’s mother, Lucille Montgomery, is arrested for the murder of the man whose body Sam discovered, it’s clear that the two crimes are linked–but how? The police don’t even have a proper ID of the victim, so they attempt to obtain DNA evidence from the family of Jimmy Lang, the man who was Lucille’s lover–and Marsha’s father.  This brings the story of America’s racial history closer to the present–to the time of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Loving v. Virginia. Did Lucille kill a man who now could, but wouldn’t, marry her, or did someone else kill him to prevent him from making a new life with Lucille and Marsha?  Family relations are under the microscope in a mystery that invites readers to consider how true Faulkner’s famous quote–“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”–still is.

Regular readers of this series will be happy to know that interspersed with the business of the mystery are interludes with some of the characters from previous novels such as the lawyer Hewitt Donaldson, an antagonist deputy sheriff,  Sidney Overcash, and Ron Kline from the Golden Oaks Retirement Center.  De Castrique also introduces a promising new character, an injured young veteran Jason Frettwell, who is in rehab at the Asheville V.A. center.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Buncombe, deCastrique, Mark, Henderson, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series

Ann B. Ross. Miss Julia Stirs Up Trouble. New York: Viking, 2013.

miss juliaReaders of this series know that Miss Julia has come to love Hazel Marie and her son Lloyd, who is the illegitimate son of Miss Julia’s late husband.  They are family.  So much so that Julia and her new husband, Sam Murdock, have settled the pair, along with Hazel Marie’s husband, J.D. Pickens, and their twin girls into Sam’s old house.  Not only does the Pickens family have a nice house, but Sam’s cook, James, has stayed on to help.  This is a blessing because Hazel Marie was never much of a cook and those babies have her worn down.  But James is no spring chicken and when he injures himself in a fall, the Pickens household is in crisis.  James needs help to get in and out of bed, so Hazel Marie must tend to him and her babies, keep the house in order, and cook the kind of meals that keep a man at home. (J.D. was a womanizer before he married Hazel Marie and he travels quite a bit for his work–all of which causes Miss Julia to worry about this marriage.)

Of course, Miss Julia steps in.  She has trouble finding a temporary cook, so she lines up various friends to come over and both cook and give Hazel Marie cooking lessons.  (The recipes that are used are scattered throughout the book.)  Organizing all these cooking lessons is quite a juggling act, but it is nothing compared to managing the personalities sharing space at the Pickens house.  James proves to be a demanding patient, Hazel Marie’s sleazy uncle, Brother Vern, is back in town and has moved in, and Granny Wiggins, who Etta Mae has recruited to clean, is a tornado of energy–and opinions.  Plus, Miss Julia and Lillian have both spotted J.D. with another woman and they will do anything to keep Lloyd from finding out that his new dad is no saint.  This, the fourteenth book in the Miss Julia series, is a tasty dish of misadventure, misunderstanding, and southern charm.

A note on the dust-jacket:  The imagery on dust-jackets has become stereotypical and formulaic–and sometimes even misleading.  It’s not uncommon for the image on the cover to misrepresent some basic element of the location or the main character by, for example, making the heroine a blonde when the book says she’s a brunette, or showing a mountain lodge out of Travel + Leisure when the action takes places at an abandoned hunting cabin.  The dust-jacket for Miss Julia Stirs Up Trouble is an exception to this trend.  It’s a delight to look at the image and see so many items mentioned in the book–everything from a bag of Gold Medal flour to a grilled cheese sandwich to J.D.’s aviator style sunglasses.  Kudos to the people at Viking Press.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Henderson, Humor, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Ross, Ann B.

Travis Thrasher. Hurt. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2013.

hurtIn this fourth and final installment in the Solitary Tales, author Travis Thrasher takes us back once more to the fictional town of Solitary, North Carolina.

Chris Buckley has tried everything when it comes to the evil in Solitary. He’s mocked it, pretended it doesn’t exist, given in for a time, even run away. Nothing has stopped his demon-possessed great-grandfather, Walter Kinner, from giving up his satanic control on the town. Worst of all, Chris is somehow the centerpiece of his upcoming final showdown with the powers of good. Tired, terrified, but most of all determined never to give in to the Devil, Chris takes the only course of action left– fighting back. It’s hard enough being a teenaged boy without having to fight the powers of darkness, but with his belief in the powers of God growing stronger every day, Chris has hope where before he had none.

Unfortunately, his very real demons know exactly how to keep him on their side– by threatening the ones he loves. His mother has been missing for some time, held by Walter’s henchmen. They’re also threatening his latest girlfriend, the sweet and guileless Kelsey. Since his other two girlfriends, Jocelyn and Lily, have both ended up as bloody sacrifices, Chris was reluctant to start dating again. But there’s just something about Kelsey that makes him think everything will be okay. But there is a long fight ahead, and no telling who will emerge triumphant. Will faith, hope, and love keep back the darkness?

Check out this final chapter in the Solitary Tales in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Henderson, Horror, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Religious/Inspirational, Thrasher, Travis

Elizabeth Flock. What Happened to My Sister. New York: Ballentine Books, 2012.

Carrie Parker, age nine, and her mother Libby are leaving Hendersonville, North Carolina. Before they drive away, Libby makes her daughter promise never to talk about anything that happened there, and to remember that her sister, Emma, was just an imaginary friend she made up. But Carrie knows better– Emma was real, until something bad happened.

After moving down into the foothills, Carrie and her mother eke out a miserable existence at a motel in the fictional Hartsville, where Libby is often too intoxicated or too busy with her boyfriends to even feed her daughter. The little girl lives on paper and stolen food, until entirely by accident, she meets the Chaplin family. Ruth, Honor, and Cricket Chaplin are three generations living under the same roof. Living in a comfortable house filled with memorabilia dedicated to their famous relative, Charlie, the Chaplin women nevertheless have their own struggles. Cricket’s sister, Caroline, passed away only a short while ago from cancer, and it has torn her parents apart. Honor, Cricket’s mother, thinks that she’s hallucinating that day in the Wendy’s when she sees the little girl stealing from the salad bar– she’s the spitting image of her Caroline. When she discover’s Carrie’s name, she knows that she has to keep this unloved, sad little girl in her life. This conviction will change her and her family’s life, and will help Carrie discover what actually happened to the sister she’s sure she didn’t imagine.

A simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting story about family, blood ties, and what’s most important in life, Elizabeth Flock has written a beautiful story that gets at the heart of child abuse. Told from the dual perspectives of Honor Chaplin and Carrie Parker, it is an intricately woven tale that both surprises and satisfies.

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

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Buncombe, Flock, Elizabeth, Henderson, Mountains, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Suspense/Thriller

D. H. Caldwell. Velma. New York: iUniverse, 2007.

Calvin “Cal” Curtis has recently retired and decides that instead of endless rounds of golf, he should put his newly unlimited free time towards solving  a murder from his childhood. As a fifteen-year-old paper boy in Gastonia in 1930, Cal lost his virginity to the sultry, nineteen-year-old Velma, the niece of one of his customers. One day she was found murdered more than fifty miles away in McDowell County, and the mystery of the killer was never resolved. Now Cal is determined to find out the truth, and write a novel on the circumstances of the crime.

He slowly tracks down old acquaintances from his youth, from Velma’s aunt and uncle, to mutual neighbors, to young women he knew as a teenger. Cal is happily married to a lovely woman named Gwenn, but that doesn’t seem to matter to some of the ladies with whom he’s catching up: they still see him as fair game and are eager to talk him out of his clothes. Dodging sexual advances and eating plenty of hearty diner fare, Cal journeys across North Carolina and Virginia, discovering more and more about Velma’s sexual exploits–dangerous behavior that ultimately led to her death.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Caldwell, D. H., Gaston, Henderson, Mystery

Travis Thrasher. Temptation. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2012.

Junior year is over for Chris Buckley in the small town of Solitary, North Carolina, but school isn’t out. Forced to attend summer classes at Harrington High in order to graduate, Chris can think of about a million things a normal teenager would rather be doing than listening to Mr. Taggert drone on about literature and algebra. But Chris isn’t a normal teenager, not after the past year in Solitary. There are much darker, scarier things abroad in this seemingly sleepy mountain town than algebra.

This third installment in The Solitary Tales finds our teenage hero worn down. After the murders, satanic rituals, and strange phenomena he has witnessed over the course of just twelve months, all Chris wants is for it to stop. His friends have moved away or died, his mother is an alcoholic mess, and he has no one to stand with against the darkness. The enigmatic Pastor Jeremiah Marsh assures him that he has an answer to Chris’s pain– all Chris has to do is give up and give in. Pastor Marsh and his friends need Chris Buckley: they need him to fall in line, to stop fighting, and to stop falling in love with the wrong sort of girls. But what they need most of all is for Chris to trust them that he has powers he doesn’t fully understand– powers related directly to the founding of Solitary, and to what makes it such a hotbed of demonic activity. It’s very tempting: Chris is only sixteen, and what kind of sixteen-year-old takes on the Devil? But as Chris learns more and more about his true identity and his family’s history with Solitary, his horror grows, and it becomes more difficult for him to accept Pastor Marsh’s proposal. Chris craves the relief of a normal life, but is it worth his soul?

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Children & Young Adults, Henderson, Horror, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Thrasher, Travis