Category Archives: Watauga

Watauga

Anton DiSclafani. The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. New York: Riverhead Books, 2013.

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for GirlsThea Atwell has done something terrible. What teenaged Thea has done exactly is not clear, at least not right away. However, it is certain that Thea’s shameful actions have caused a rift in the Atwell family, so much so that she is shipped hastily from her insulated home near Emathla, Florida to the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls in Blowing Rock, North Carolina in the middle of the summer.

The sudden separation is a shock for Thea. Before her relocation, she lived in virtual isolation. Her family resided outside of town and Thea had few regular interactions with other people aside from her mother, father, twin brother, Sam, and a handful of immediate relatives. She feels acute pain and longing in her separation from Sam, her primary companion, in particular. Her absence severs their deep bond as twins.  Upon and following her removal from her home, she questions the endurance of her family and their connection to each other.

The novel is set in 1930, during the difficult years of the Great Depression. Thanks to the Atwell citrus farm though, Thea’s family has remained largely unscathed by financial burdens. They are not necessarily wealthy, but they are comfortable for sure. If not for her indiscretions, Thea might have continued without much notice of the Depression. Not until Thea is removed from her home does she begin to notice traces of financial insecurity and become more acutely aware of class differences surrounding her.

Not surprisingly, the transition to the Yonahlossee Riding Camp, or YRC, is abrupt and disorienting for Thea. Everything at YRC is different from Florida: the land is mountainous rather than flat, the camp is populated by girls and Thea is unaccustomed to female friendship. The lifestyle and attitudes at the camp are quite alien to Thea as well. Although Thea is from the South geographically speaking, she does not feel Southern culturally, and she displays emotions of inferiority in her new locale.

The fact that gossip clings to Thea, due to her mid-season enrollment, does not help her acclimation either. Nevertheless, she is befriended by a popular girl named Sissy who helps her through the social minefields of the camp. Despite Thea’s alliances, she is still snubbed by girls from more fashionable areas like Memphis and Atlanta and she develops a rivalry with Leona Keller, the top rider at the camp. Apart from Sissy, horses help Thea adjust to her surroundings. She is an expert rider. Her fearlessness for riding and her competitive nature benefit her in the ring. Novelist Anton DiSclafani’s equestrian background is apparent in her writing.

DiSclafani does not reveal the specifics of Thea’s inappropriate behavior up front. Instead she chooses to gradually reveal the details of Thea’s scandal alongside her arrival at YRC so that the two stories are intertwined with heavier suspense. The novel’s setting almost appears tangible with its atmospheric description. Indeed, the world of YRC is so lucid and authentic that it could believably exist off the page. Much like Thea’s sheltered life in Florida, YRC seems to be shielded at large from the world suffering at the hands of the Depression. But DiSclafani hints that the bubble that YRC and its occupants exist within might not be as protected as it appears. Currents of change are manifested throughout the story in both possessions and customs. Moreover, Thea is in for another surprise when she discovers that YRC is more than just a riding camp…

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Caldwell, DiSclafani, Anton, Mountains, Watauga

Mary Flinn. A Forever Man. New York: Aviva Publishing, 2012.

foreverReaders met Chelsea Davenport and Kyle Davis as teenagers in Mary Flinn’s first book, The One.  The young couple married in Three Gifts and they are well settled in their marriage and their careers as A Forever Man opens.  As readers of the previous books know, Chelsea and Kyle are surrounded by family and friends, and the pair and those in their circle have faced a number of challenges and disappointments.

When the interior design expert in Kyle’s building company retires, Kyle and his partner Frank are delighted to hire Elise Masters, a talented twenty-something who was recently let go by a large Charlotte firm.  Since Kyle’s firm is so small, he and Elise often work together–meeting clients, assessing sites, and working nearby each other in the office.  Elise has a past that she is not eager to talk about, and a child who has special needs.  Kyle feels protective of Elise and her daughter, Lydia, but he feels something more too. Kyle’s feeling may be hidden, but friends and business associates can see that Elise is smitten with Kyle–Kyle is the “forever man” that Elise has been looking for.

Chelsea can sense that this new colleague poses a temptation for Kyle, and the situation is complicated by friends’ gossip, family crises, and the revelation that Lydia’s father is nearby.  Seeing how Kyle and Chelsea navigate this difficult situation will remind readers that “happily ever after”  is really “happy if we continue to work at it”–growing together, drawing strength from what has been, and keeping that passionate spark alive.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Flinn, Mary, Mountains, Romance/Relationship, Watauga

Ryan Jakubsen. Portals III: Band of Rogues. Kernersville: Alabaster Publishing Company, 2011.

portals In Ryan Jakubsen’s conclusion to the Portals trilogy, the Pierce brothers, dropped  on Grandfather Mountain by a tornado and lost in other-world realms linked by portals, move through one final gateway. Their mission?  To find home.

Having fixed the portal that will transport them stateside, brothers Axel, Alex, and Exile are ready to say goodbye to their brother Jacob, the new warrior king of wolf-man hybrids, a faction of “manimals.” Joined by Lucy and Jackellel, the group ventures on, this time in a dimension where trees have eyes, ancient Pierce kin reign, manimal spiders joust, and the “shrockney” beatle conjures instant death. But control of the portals is unstable, and a War of the Rogues is blooming. When a written message from the Pierces to their hosts disappears by way of courier concussion, the company’s safety is jeopardized. The addition of mysterious newcomers Araknia and The Dark One keeps suspicion, lies, and allegiances ever-puzzling and occasionally deadly while the Pierces travel.

Told by cosmic, animal, and human voices, the brothers’ story imaginatively beams from a spaceless battlefield to North Carolina locations like the UNC School of Law and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Families and their journeys are taken to new worlds in fifth-grader Ryan Jakubsen’s last installment of this series for young adult readers. Follow the portal home? If only it were that simple.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Avery, Caldwell, Children & Young Adults, Jakubsen, Ryan, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Orange, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Watauga

Mark Schweizer. The Treble Wore Trouble. Tryon, NC: SJMP Books, 2012.

There is never a dull moment in the (fictitious) little town of St. Germaine, North Carolina.  In this latest installment in the Liturgical Mysteries series, a body is found in the alley behind the town beauty parlor, and a young child is kidnapped.  Are these two events related?  Police Chief Hayden Koning thinks so, but before he gets far in his investigations, a singer is electrocuted during a service at St. Barnabas Church.  (It isn’t a Liturgical Mysteries book unless a death occurs in or near St. Barnabas.)  This, the tenth book in the series, contains the same cast of characters and many of the usual elements (another new rector, conflicts over the church’s liturgy, interesting minor characters) along with a few zany new additions–a truffle hunting pig and a Christian astrologer.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Humor, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Schweizer, Mark, Watauga

Maggie Bishop. One Shot Too Many. Banner Elk, NC: Ingalls Publishing Group, 2011.

Jemma Chase, the CSI-obsessed heroine of Murder at Blue Falls and Perfect for Framing, is back in this latest installment in Bishop’s Appalachian Adventure series.

When Scott Barker dies suddenly at a photography club meeting held at Jemma’s ranch, Blue Falls, the investigator-wannabe can barely contain her enthusiasm. Of course it’s terrible that Scott is dead, but the chance to be at the center of another investigation (and interact with handsome Detective Tucker) is too exciting. When it turns out that Barker was poisoned, the case gets even more interesting, as the killer has to be one of the amateur photographers present at the club meeting. Unfortunately, Tucker wants Jemma to stay out of the way this time, in an effort to protect both her safety and his reputation. But when the detective kisses another woman, Jemma begins to wonder if her safety is really what’s foremost in his mind.

Return to Blue Falls for another exciting murder mystery, filled with the usual suspects, intriguing new characters, and plenty of illicit activity for Jemma and Detective Tucker to unravel.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Bishop, Maggie, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Romance/Relationship, Watauga

Mary Flinn. Three Gifts. New York: Aviva Publishing, 2011.

Kyle Davis and Chelsea Davenport, introduced to readers in Flinn’s novel The One, marry in the first chapter of Three Gifts.  Their future together looks bright. Kyle and Chelsea have weathered the problems of their high school years, they are doing work they enjoy, they are near Chelsea’s loving parents, and they truly love each other.  But happily-ever-after is illusive for most couples, and Kyle and Chelsea are no exceptions to this hard truth.

Soon after Kyle and Chelsea return from their honeymoon, Kyle’s architectural firm is contacted by two women from Florida who want to build a condo development just up the road from Kyle and Chelsea’s cabin.  A boozy dinner with these potential clients unnerves Kyle and arouses Chelsea’s jealousy.  Kyle fears that one of the women was more than just a client to his late father, a disgraced builder.  Neither Kyle nor his mother have come to terms with Kyle’s father’s death, and Kyle fears what he could learn from this woman.  Chelsea senses Kyle’s uneasiness, but she misidentifies its source.  A car accident, estrangement from a close friend, illnesses, and the death of a pet are additional challenges that the young couple faces, but as in Flinn’s other books, the main characters, aided by family and friends, find their path to a happy future. Flinn does a good job mixing ordinary newlywed challenges with extraordinary circumstances, and her gift for dialogue and the likableness of her characters makes this an enjoyable read.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Flinn, Mary, Mountains, Romance/Relationship, Watauga

Mark Schweizer. The Organist Wore Pumps. Tryon, NC: SJMP Books, 2010.

It’s been two years since St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in St. Germaine, North Carolina burned to the ground, and the holidays are just around the corner. Police Chief  Hayden Konig, also the organist at St. Barnabas, is looking forward to a long month of Advent music and writing bad prose between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly for those familiar with St. Barnabas, murder and mayhem intervene. First, Old Man Hiram Frost, the town grump, dies after the bank forecloses on his property. At the resulting auction, Hayden gets sucked into a bidding war with a stranger over three cases of French wine. A week later, the mystery bidder shows up again…floating face-first in Tannenbaum Lake. Additionally, St. Barnabas has a new deacon: the aptly named Donald Mushrat (that’s Moo-shrat). Deacon Mushrat is oily, overfond of the word “awesome” and obsessed with tithing. Everyone feels blessed that the beloved Rector Gaylen Weatherall will still be giving the sermons, but thanks to a terrible car accident, Rector Weatherall is put out of action for a time, opening the way for Deacon Mushrat’s pontificating. Even worse, Konig was in the car with Gaylen during the accident…and his arm is broken. A substitute organist is found, and Konig will just have to grit his teeth and endure their “creative differences.” But when another murder occurs and it becomes clear that a killer is stalking St. Germaine, the Chief finds he has bigger fish to fry.

Filled with the hilarity and quirky characters that are distinctive of The Liturgical Mysteries, this book includes a live creche, an inflammatory (literally) Christmas parade complete with a tap dancing Virgin, a scoodle of skunks, and the “liberation” of a priceless medieval reliquary by a gang of hyperactive children trapped in the church for a lock-in. It may be many things, but at least St. Germaine is never boring.

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

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Humor, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Schweizer, Mark, Watauga

Schweizer, Mark. The Tenor Wore Tapshoes. Tryon, NC: SJMP Books, 2005.

With writing that compares the rustling of a woman’s gown to the sounds of a cockroach rooting in a sugar-bowl, it’s safe to say that Police Chief Hayden Konig will never join the greats of American literature. Still, he insists on trying, even purchasing an old typewriter that once belonged to Raymond Chandler. Mr. Chandler, and his pipe, even show up on occasion to compliment Hayden’s efforts. Poor prose and ghostly sightings notwithstanding, Konig is an excellent police chief, and a talented organist at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in the small, sleepy mountain town of St. Germaine, North Carolina.

Hayden has just settled in from his last crime-solving adventure, which included the theft of a valuable diamond, a dead chorister, and multiple trips to England. You’d think that life would resume its leisurely pace, but this is just when St. Germaine chooses to get…interesting. First, there’s the body that parishoners discover hidden in the altar at St. Barnabas. Next, the local bakery produces a miraculous cinnamon bun in the shape of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is soon stolen. Poor Hayden loses a bet with his beautiful girlfriend Meg, and is made to enroll in a program designed to help him discover his religious masculinity, known simply as the Iron Mike Men’s Retreat. As if this weren’t enough, an itinerant preacher blows into town with his large revival tent and a feathered assistant known as Binny Hen the Scripture Chicken, who helps him select passages from the Bible.

Reeling from the amount of insanity a small town can apparently inflict in such a short time, Chief Konig somehow also finds time to be troubled by the arrival of a charming attorney called Robert Brannon, who immediately worms his way into everyone’s heart, and the very center of church politics. Hayden is also perplexed by the crimes that have sprung up throughout the community–very specific crimes that seem to follow a popular hymn depicting the trials of the saints. Will Konig solve all, or any of these mysteries? More importantly, will he have time to pay attention to what, or who, really matters? And will she say yes?

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

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Filed under Humor, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Schweizer, Mark, Watauga

Mark Schweizer. The Countertenor Wore Garlic. Tryon, NC: SJMP Books, 2011.

It’s almost Halloween and little St. Barnabas Episcopal Church has yet another interim vicar–Oh, the horror! Fearghus McTavish is an Episcopal priest on a mission from his diocese in Aberdeen, Scotland to establish a sister church near Grandfather Mountain.  With the Grandfather Mountain church as the focus of his attention, he’ll be at St. Barnabas just for Sunday services.  And that will be quite enough. Vicar McTavish is decidedly old school, preferring the 1928 prayer book, refusing to co-celebrate communion with his predecessor because she’s a woman, and preaching some of the most hell-fire sermons this side of Cotton Mather.

But a lot of people in the little town of St. Germaine are much more interested in the here-and-now rather than the next life.  For the first time, the town is having a Halloween Carnival at the park in the center of town. (This as a sop to the Kiwanis Club who could not dislodge the Rotary Club’s lock on the town’s Christmas festivities.)  Packs of children are at the park for the 11 a.m. opening, and they and their elders will soon be thrilled and frightened by hundreds of zombies who descend on the park.  (A Bible-inspired group of “Zombies of Easter” organized by the Baptist Church, augmented by a flashmob of college students.)  In one of the funniest scences in this series of humorous mysteries, Chief of Police Hayden Konig and his two deputies provide the thin blue line between the zombies and several hundred Goth-garbed young women lined up at the local bookstore to see the author of a blockbuster series of vampire novels.

And all that is before the murder happens.  But, as in previous books in this series, a body is found at St. Barnabas.  In this case, in the maze the church built for the Halloween Carnival.  Longtime readers of the series will be happy to see that other signature elements of the Liturgical Mysteries series are present–wordplay, light doses of musical and religious history, church politics, small town entanglements, and Hayden’s clever and attractive wife, Meg, his dog, and even his owl Archimedes.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Schweizer, Mark, Watauga

Sharyn McCrumb. The Ballad of Tom Dooley. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2011.

If you grew up in the Appalachians of western North Carolina, chances are you’ve heard the tale of Tom Dooley at least once. You may even have heard the song made famous by the likes of Frank Proffitt, the New Lost City Ramblers, and Doc Watson: hang down your head, Tom Dooley…hang down your head and cry… a sordid tale of love, betrayal, and murder set in the years following the Civil War. But fact often proves more shocking than the tale. Author Sharyn McCrumb, after spending hours consulting the legal evidence, trial transcripts, and speaking with experts, determined that something didn’t add up. The answers she found in her lengthy research hint at a dark, Brontë-like pentagon of individuals trapped by disease, starvation, racial boundaries, and the after-effects of armed conflict.

Zebulon Baird Vance, the educated sometime-Governor of North Carolina,  represented Tom Dooley during his trial for murder. In McCrumb’s telling, he is convinced that Dooley is innocent. While his narrative reflects on the aftermath, the voice of servant-girl Pauline Foster recounts the tale from its origin. Survival during the war meant Pauline had to sell her body to passing soldiers for food, but she escaped death. Unfortunately, she didn’t emerge entirely unscathed. Infected with syphilis, she makes her way from her home county of Watauga to neighboring Wilkes, in hopes of staying with one of her cousins there while seeing a doctor. She chooses her wealthy relation Ann Melton, who allows her room and board in exchange for servant work. Ann is narcissistic and spoiled, and the sociopathic Pauline quickly determines that she will bring suffering to her cousin’s door, no matter the consequences for others. When Pauline realizes the depth of love between the married Ann and Tom Dooley, a former Confederate soldier and Ann’s childhood sweetheart, she hatches a terrible plan for revenge that inflicts tragedy across the entirety of Wilkes County. Expertly researched and written, history and fiction lovers alike will find this a fascinating read.

Frank Proffitt and his banjo

Click here for a clip of “Tom Dooley” as sung by Doc Watson, and here for a clip as sung by Frank Proffitt, both courtesy of the Southern Folklife Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill. The songs, and many others, are available on CD and vinyl in the Southern Folklife Collection, which like the North Carolina Collection, is located in Wilson Library. While you’re here, check the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog for the availability of The Ballad of Tom Dooley.

 

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Historical, McCrumb, Sharyn, Mountains, Watauga, Wilkes