Category Archives: Wake

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LaToya Hankins. SBF Seeking … Glen Allen, VA: JMS Books, 2012.

sbfAt twenty-five, Yvette Thurman seems to have her life mapped out.  She’s a journalist for a statewide magazine based in Raleigh, she has a nice circle of friends, and she’s engaged to marry a good-looking, stable man she’s known since college.  But Yvette is restless.  Not really knowing what it is that’s bothering her, she decides she’d like a little sexual fling–with a white man.  An ad on a dating site leads her to a willing partner.  It’s a nothing-special experience, but from it Yvette learns that she is just not ready to get married.

Yvette’s mother and her twin sister support her decision, as do her friends who go out of their way to include Yvette in the fun–and drama–of their lives.  But it’s not until a co-worker’s sister and her partner move into Yvette’s apartment complex that Yvette begins to reconsider how she’s always thought her life would be.  Yvette soon spends a good bit of her free time with Erica and Linda–especially Linda–and finds herself opening up to romantic relationship with another woman.  SBF Seeking follows Yvette during three years in which her heart leads her down a unexpected new path.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Hankins, LaToya, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship, Wake

Michele Andrea Bowen. Pastor Needs a Boo. New York: St. Martin’s, 2014.

pastorneedsabooReverend Denzelle Flowers is faced with a tough dilemma when three of his parishioners in New Jerusalem Gospel United Church in Raleigh, North Carolina lose their jobs. What can he do to help his flock? The only thing Denzelle can think of is to use money from the Pastor’s Aid fund. But, that money can only be used to fund activities for the Pastor’s Aid Club. Reinstating this club may be difficult since the past head of the organization, Mrs. Clara Mae Davidson, did not leave church members with a fond memory of her or the Pastor’s Aid Club. Nonetheless, re-instituting the club will solve the employment problem for these three parishioners and also help Denzelle to get started on his newest endeavor. However, for that to happen, Veronica Washington, Keisha Jackson, and Marsha Metcalf must be willing to serve on the committee. Convincing the three ladies that running the Pastor’s Aid Club is a worthy cause isn’t easy, but Denzelle gets them on board. The turning factor is that they’ll actually be helping run Reverend Flowers’ campaign for bishop.

Pastor Denzelle may have solved the problem of jobs for his unemployed church members, but he has another problem on his hands. This problem comes in the form of the lovely Marsha Metcalf. How in the world is he supposed to fight the desire to turn in his playah’s card and “get “booed” up” with the epitome of a Proverbs 31 woman? Denzelle hasn’t slept around since getting saved and rededicating his life to the Lord, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to put his heart into the hands of one woman for the rest of his life. He did that once and ended up with a woman who was a bigger player than he ever was.

Reverend Flowers has some experience running away from what God has planned for him. As a young man, Denzelle pledged Kappa Alpha Psi in college and enjoyed great times with his fraternity brothers filled with drinking, beautiful women and anything else a handsome young man could get into. When God called on him to become a preacher, Denzelle instead wanted to go after his dream of becoming an FBI agent. Denzelle did get his dream of becoming an FBI agent but also found out that you can’t run from God and ended up a preacher as well. He soon retired and focused on pastoring. But, Denzelle hadn’t fully mastered the ability to hear and follow the plan the God has for his life. Denzelle married a gorgeous woman named Tatiana, against the advice of those who cared for him. Tatiana outplayed the playah and actually cheated on Denzelle; it turns out that she was just a gold digger who doesn’t have the ability to love anyone but herself. Now in his forties, you would think Denzelle knows better than to think he can set God’s plans aside until he’s ready to follow them. Yet, this pastor is avoiding the virtuous woman that God has placed in his path as if  she’s a snake in the grass.

Nevertheless, Marsha isn’t Denzelle’s biggest difficulty. He will face a multitude of obstacles in his run for bishop. Denzelle has made enemies among the corrupt clergy who will do anything to have their candidate win the one bishop spot that is coming open. Their plotting consists of imposing a new rule that would make it impossible for a divorced preacher to become bishop. Also, Denzelle’s ex-wife is back in the game and sleeping with Denzelle’s enemies in the hopes of gaining power and prestige for herself, as well as hurting Denzelle along the way. With enemies surrounding him, Denzelle needs a “boo” to stand by his side. Will Denzelle be able to put aside his playah’s card and fear of a good woman in order to receive the blessing God has planned for him?

Pastor Needs a Boo is a funny and exciting tale of what can go on in the African American church scene. The author keeps it real, but also tasteful, in this story of a smooth Kappa man and ex-FBI agent turned preacher and the spurned but still faith-filled woman God has made for him.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Bowen, Michele Andrea, Piedmont, Religious/Inspirational, Romance/Relationship, Wake

Elizabeth Langston. A Whisper in Time. Contoocook, NH: Spencer Hill Press, 2014.

awhisperintimeSusanna Marsh is grateful that her boyfriend, Mark Lewis, rescued her from a life of servitude, but now she must learn the ways of a world two centuries apart from her own. An indentured servant from 1796, Susanna is not prepared for this world of freedom, nor its lax expectations for young adults of her age. Without identification Susanna can neither go to school, nor can she get a job. Unused to not having anything to do, Susanna is at a loss for what to do with herself and is having to depend upon others to survive.

On the other hand, Mark has much to do in his last year of high school. He has gained some new friends, is on the homecoming court and is trying to figure out what colleges he may be interested in attending. All he wants is to share his world with the young lady he loves. But first he must come up with a way to get her an identity within this century.

To give herself something worthwhile to invest her time in, Susanna seeks out information on those she left behind by combing through historical documents. She and Mark soon come upon journal written by her sister Phoebe. When she learns what Phoebe’s future holds, she can’t help but to act even though doing so bodes ill for her own happiness. Will Mark be able to save Susanna once again or will their lives be forever altered?

A Whisper in Time is the second book in the Whisper Falls series. Susanna and Mark first met in Whisper Falls, the first book in the series, and this novel continues their tale of a magical waterfall and a love that transcends centuries.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Children & Young Adults, Historical, Langston, Elizabeth, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship, Wake

Elizabeth Langston. Whisper Falls. Contoocook, NH: Spencer Hill Press, 2013.

whisperfallsMark Lewis is a young man dedicated to mountain bike racing. His constant training has just recently cost him his girlfriend. However, even this does not take away from his focus on training. It is while he is out training for a race that he sees a girl, Susanna Marsh, through the waters of Whisper Falls. Mark believes she is just standing on the other side of the falls until he tries to get through and the falls repel him. Even stranger is the fact that the girl doesn’t seem to know what a bike is and she claims that the year is 1796.

A few days go by without them seeing one another and the two begin to think that it must have been some illusion. Nevertheless, both are drawn back to the spot and the mystery of the falls. When next they meet, Mark has come prepared with a variety of questions. Susanna’s answers convince him that they are two hundred years apart. Continuing their meetings at Whisper Falls, Mark and Susanna soon become close friends. This is a treat for Susanna who is an indentured servant. Her master has forbidden her to have any friends. With friendship comes the intertwining of lives. Soon, Mark is so caught up in Susanna’s world that he starts missing out on training. This doesn’t bother him as much as what he finds out about what is in store for Susanna and those she loves.

Susanna’s indenture is coming to an end in a few months when she turns eighteen. Unfortunately, the cruelty of Susanna’s master, Mr. Pratt, may have arms long enough to reach to her sister Phoebe. Documents that Mark has found tell of a fate for Phoebe that is far worse than Susanna’s. Mark and Susanna set out to change Phoebe’s path. Doing so will alter the future forever, resulting in a consequence that will be unbearable for them both. Shall Phoebe be saved? Will Susanna? And will this budding romance be able to transcend a two-hundred year divide?

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Children & Young Adults, Historical, Langston, Elizabeth, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship, Wake

Sherry Richburg. Love, Lies and Betrayal. Denver, CO: Outskirts Press, 2009.

lovelies&betrayal In this novel, we follow our protagonist, known on the streets as India, from age twelve until her mid-20s. Early on in the tale India, at age fourteen, leaves home for the streets and a reckless lifestyle. India immerses herself in a world of drugs by dating one of the most well-known drug dealers in the area, having no qualms about using her womanly wiles to get what she wants. By doing so, India quickly becomes widely known and respected on the streets. But, she hides all of this from her family. India claims to be living with her best friend when she is actually living with a man fifteen years older than her.

Throughout the novel India is confronted with the challenges her lifestyle brings about and she must make some tough decisions. However, she continually displays her strength and determination to be her own woman and run things her way. Everything seems to be going great for India; she has dodged several violent episodes and many confrontations with the law, even while others of her team are brought down. Then one day someone tries to rob her crew and everything goes downhill from there. Was it someone they trusted? Will India be able to overcome this challenge as she has done all others? Will her well-built team support her or turn on her?

Love, Lies and Betrayal is based on a true story and provides an explicit look into India’s lifestyle.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Piedmont, Richberg, Sherry, Urban Fiction, Wake

Lee Mims. Trusting Viktor. Woodbury, MN: Midnight Ink, 2014.

viktorCleo Cooper has a good relationship with her ex-husband, Franklin Donovan Cooper IV (“Bud”). Cleo is a well known and well compensated economic geologist, but Bud still feels the need to watch out for her interests.  At Bud’s suggestion, Cleo has invested in a company that is exploring for natural gas off the North Carolina coast. This was supposed to be just a financial investment for Cleo, but when the company fires most of its geologists, Bud pulls Cleo in to use her expertise in a way that protects their investments.

Cleo does not relish a helicopter ride out to the drill ship, but the ride itself becomes the least of her problems. The drilling operation is clearly in flux, Cleo gets mixed signals about who is in charge, and soon after she arrives she is attacked by an unknown assailant. Cleo is grateful that her stay on the rig is a short one.

When the body of a man who might have been her assailant washes up on the sands of Atlantic Beach, Cleo is visited by the police.  Cleo cannot be sure the dead man was her attacker but when she looks at his body, she sees something that might implicate Bud in the man’s murder. Soon Cleo is back on the drilling ship–for personal and professional reasons. She’ll soon find that there is more than one kind of treasure beneath the ocean waves.

This well plotted mystery will be of special interest to readers who know North Carolina’s history–both the recent saga of offshore energy exploration and story of how German U-boats prowled along our coast during World War II.

This is the second Cleo Cooper mystery.  The first title in the series is Hiding Gladys.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Carteret, Coast, Dare, Mims, Lee, Mystery, Novels in Series, Wake

Reynolds Price. Kate Vaiden. New York: Atheneum, 1986.

Considering how I was soon to behave, I have to wonder if I ever really loved him. I’d shown most other human instincts till then. Why did mothering fail me?

At age 11, Kate Vaiden makes a vow to her mother Frances never to become a mother. In a sense, she never does. Although Kate gives birth at 17 to a son named Lee, she leaves him behind with her extended family. Forty years later, Kate begins to wonder what happened to Lee. If he is still alive and well, Lee is forty, and at Kate’s best estimation, he has made his way in the world without her. She believes it is unlikely that Lee would need or want her in his life at this point. For all intents and purposes, Kate kept good on her promise. By abandoning her son, it’s as if she never bore him at all. Yet there are questions hanging over her her, the first: Who is Lee Vaiden?

The second question traces back to Kate’s roots and a major turning point in her life: Who was Frances Bullock Vaiden? Kate’s parents, Frances Bullock and Dan Vaiden  met in 1925 and married soon after. Their union was tumultuous. Dan’s father was against the marriage. Although Dan was convinced that his father would grow to love Frances, he overestimated his father’s affections. The couple decided to escape to Greensboro for a fresh start. But the fresh start withered under their passions. As a child, Kate observed her father “burn” her mother with a “hot flow of words.”

Frances’ closeness with her family created a source of tension between her and Dan. When Frances’ nephew Traswell dies, she takes Kate home to Macon to attend the funeral, but Dan stays behind. After the funeral, Dan unexpectedly shows up in Macon. He arrives while Frances and another nephew have gone to Traswell’s grave. Dan drives to the cemetery, and without warning, shoots Frances and himself. Up to that point, Kate had believed that she had a happy childhood, irrespective of any strain between Frances and Dan.  Following her parent’s murder-suicide, she is left under the care of Frances’ sister Caroline and her husband in Macon. From there, the novel follows Kate from adolescence to middle-age. Kate struggles to form any sort of lasting commitment or attachment to another person. During her formative years, what Kate loved left her. As a young woman and adult, she becomes a quitter. Whenever things get serious, Kate bolts. Single and fifty-seven years old, she’s an eternal orphan.

Kate Vaiden is the story of Kate’s life, as told by Kate in hindsight. Parents, family, and home are contentious topics for Kate. Her residual questions about her mother and lingering questions about her son influence her life. In regard to Lee, Kate regrets that her “baby-making machinery works” but “when they made me, they left out the mothering part.” Price creates a flawed protagonist in Kate who is good at hurting others and has been hurt in turn. Despite all her imperfections, Kate’s engaging and entertaining voice smooths over her less attractive qualities and makes her situation more sympathetic. The novel earned Price, who was a novelist, poet, and English professor at Duke University, the National Book Critics Circle Award.

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

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Filed under 1980-1989, 1986, Guilford, Piedmont, Price, Reynolds, Wake, Warren

Electra Rome Parks. When Baldwin Loved Brenden. Deer Park, NY: Urban Books, 2013.

when baldwin lovedFor many people, those college years are the most intense period of their lives.  Friendship are made, identities are established, and hearts are won and lost.  So it was for “The Group,” five African Americans in the 1980s attending a school similar to North Carolina State University.  Brenden, Christopher, Bria, Baldwin, and Rihanna had good times–Christopher and Bria partying and hooking up with abandon, Brenden and Baldwin falling in love, and Rihanna keeping everyone from getting too far off track.

But as tight as their friendships were, The Group came apart. In the ten years since their graduation, communications were infrequent, and face-to-face get-togethers just didn’t happen.  It’s Rihanna’s death that brings them back together, at least for a few days.  In that time the friends confront their mistakes, bad choices, and secrets. Readers learn what happened between Brenden and Baldwin, the things that Christopher and Rihanna did that made a bad situation worse, and the secret that wild child Bria was keeping even from herself.  Their few days together, mourning Rihanna and reconsidering the past, allow them to move on with their lives and for them to support each other in the good–and sad–times ahead.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Parks, Electra Rome, Piedmont, Wake

Diane Chamberlain. Necessary Lies. New York: St. Martin’s, 2013.

Necessary LiesJane Forrester’s (née Mackie) husband, Robert, can’t understand why his new wife wants to work. Neither can her mother nor any of the stay-at-home wives in her imposed social circle. When Jane and Robert first met, her quirks beguiled him. She wasn’t cut from the same cloth of the prototypical 1960s woman. Now that they’re official newlyweds, Robert wishes that Jane would join the Raleigh Junior League and derive satisfaction in being a physician’s wife, as well as the future mother of his unborn children. But Jane wants a chance at a brief career before children. She is sensitive and idealistic and interested in helping others through work. She gets hired as a social worker in the Department of Public Welfare shortly before their wedding. Robert tolerates Jane’s job, however he makes his desire for children and his short timetable known. With an M.D., Robert has ascended the socio-economic ladder and he is concerned acutely with fitting into his more well-heeled surroundings.

Robert is not thrilled when he learns that Jane will conduct field work alone in the fictional rural Grace County. Field work entails visiting the families of the cases that the social worker manages to monitor their needs and progress. The social worker executes any actions or files any paperwork considered necessary for the greater good. Jane’s two first cases are the Hart and Jordan families who live and work on Davidson Gardiner’s farm. She neglects her boss’s advice and becomes invested emotionally in the Hart family, leading her to a series of choices that could violate the procedures of the Department of Public Welfare and negate the defined purpose of her position. But Jane feels unable to accept the rules as they’ve been handed to her. She is disturbed by how the department enforces its own code of morality and communicates its actions deceptively to the parties involved.

According Charlotte Werkmen, Jane’s boss and former social worker in charge of the case, fifteen year-old Ivy Hart is the last chance for the Hart family. Ivy’s older sister, Mary Ella has already given birth to a baby named William. Mary Ella is beautiful and slow, which Charlotte regards as a dangerous combination. Ivy and Mary Ella’s father is dead and mother is an institutionalized schizophrenic. They live in a farmhouse with their diabetic grandmother, Nonnie. Ivy worries about her family’s security in the farmhouse. Nonnie is increasingly unable to work and she has little regard for her health, indulging frequently in sugar. Because Nonnie is petulant and ornery and Mary Ella is unreliable and often missing, Ivy is the nucleus forced to mother and to hold the family together. By government standards, Ivy qualifies at a functioning level, but barely. She has an IQ of 80 and Petit Mal epilepsy. Charlotte warns Jane to watch Ivy carefully — if Ivy winds up pregnant, all her opportunities will evaporate.

Veteran novelist Diane Chamberlain deals with the sexism and racism prevalent during the 1960s and provides a historical basis to Necessary Lies. She alternates the story between Ivy and Jane’s points-of-view primarily. The novel explores the issue of people’s authority over their bodies. Chamberlain illustrates this point from both perspectives: a doctor refusing to prescribe Jane birth control without her husband’s permission to a eugenics program masked to its recipients as benevolent healthcare. The themes of control and consent reappear over the course of the novel, where institutions and people are given the power to make personal judgements for others. Additionally, the book questions the idea of people who are classified as “incapable” or “unfit” by official sanctioning. Who, if anyone, should have the agency to make decisions for those deemed “incapable” or “unfit”? Chamberlain offers an absorbing read on a fictionalized portrayal of a regrettable segment of North Carolina’s history.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Chamberlain, Diane, Historical, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont, Wake

Joan Opyr. Shaken and Stirred. Ann Arbor, MI: Bywater Books, 2011.

shakenTar Heels know that you can’t go home again–but sometimes you have to.  Poppy Koslowski has been living clear across the country from her loving, but dysfunctional, family.  Growing up, Poppy and her mother lived with her maternal grandparents in Wake County, North Carolina.  Or, that’s how it was until her grandfather, Hunter, ran off with the boozy mother of Poppy’s friends.  Before too long, Poppy herself left–to college, then graduate school, to jobs, moving ever further north and west, until she settled in Portland, Oregon.

As Shaken and Stirred opens, Poppy is recovering from a hysterectomy and is feeling sore and sad.  Poppy’s long-time BFF, Abby, who is a nurse, is keeping a watchful eye on her, and she’s present when Poppy gets the phone call telling her that her grandfather is dying.  Poppy can’t refuse her mother’s request that she come home to help her and Nana through this difficult time.  Abby volunteers to come too–Poppy is not back to full strength and Wake County is home turf for Abby too.  Abby can visit with her mother and help Poppy’s family make sense of Hunter’s medical condition.

But being back in North Carolina brings back so many memories for Poppy–her parents’ separation, her grandmother’s strict sense of propriety, her attempts to fit in at school and at home, her grandfather’s drinking.  Even as a child, she knew that her grandfather’s behavior was irresponsible, but he took an interest in her and took her on some of the most memorable adventures of her youth.  But all that came to an end when Hunter took off with Jean–the mother of Poppy’s first love, Susan.  Now Hunter’s whole life will be reviewed, and that old can of worms–and many others–will be opened.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Opyr, Joan, Piedmont, Wake