Category Archives: Novels by Genre

3. Novels by Genre

Tommy Hays. What I Came to Tell You. New York: Egmont USA, 2013.

whatWhen tragedy strikes, it can bring a family closer together–or tear it apart.  Jean Johnston was a school counselor and a great mother to her children, Grover and Sudie.  She made her husband Walt laugh and kept him from becoming a complete workaholic.  After Jean dies rescuing the family dog from traffic, Walt retreats into his work.  He is the director of the Old Kentucky Home, the Thomas Wolfe historic site in Asheville, North Carolina.  The site has reopened after a fire, but attendance is down from what it once was, and the county commissioners, especially Delbert Lunsford, are reluctant to give the site much more support.  Asheville is booming and the Old Kentucky Home sits on some valuable land that could be developed for something more commercial.

There is also a lot prime for development right next to the Johnston family home in the Montford neighborhood.  The lot is overrun with bamboo and “the Bamboo Forest” has become Grover’s retreat.  Grover has found an outlet for his artistic talent and his grief by creating weavings from bamboo, leaves, and other bits of nature.  He carries these weavings to his mother’s grave, a place that he and Sudie go to several times a week.  Although Grover is grieving, he is not so lost in his grief that he doesn’t watch out for Sudie.  And while their dad is inattentive, other adults–at school and in the neighborhood–watch out for the children.  Those concerned adults–especially Jessie, a neighbor who does a lot of landscape work at the cemetery and Leila, a nurse who rents a house in the neighborhood–aid the Johnstons when Delbert Lunsford tries to destroy the bamboo forest, and they help each family member move beyond anger and grief.

Readers will enjoy this gentle book for its portrayal of how a warm community helps people to heal.  Readers who know Asheville will like the many mentions of local business and locations and with how their town is portrayed.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Buncombe, Children & Young Adults, Hays, Tommy, Mountains

Elizabeth Spann Craig. A Body at Book Club. United States: Elizabeth Spann Craig, 2014.

abodyatbookclubMyrtle Clover may be in her 80s but she can still think of better things to do with her time than go to book club meetings where no real literature will be discussed. But, a missing cat has forced Myrtle into attending book club in order to get the word out around the fictional town of Bradley, North Carolina. Pasha may not be a house cat, but Myrtle cares about her and wants to make sure she’s safe. After making her announcement, Myrtle finds herself quite teary-eyed and makes her way inside Rose Mayfield’s, the hostess for book club, house in search of a tissue. Instead of tissue, Myrtle stumbles upon a neighbor, Naomi Pelter, dead in Rose’s living room. Now she wasn’t there just thirty minutes ago.

Naomi had emailed Rose to let her know that she was sick and couldn’t make book club. Her death seems to be from natural causes, but Myrtle decides her son Red, the police chief, should be called anyhow. Whether or not Naomi died from natural causes, the story would still be a good one to write up for the town paper. So, of course Myrtle is determined to sniff out all the details. When it’s discovered that Naomi was poisoned, Myrtle already has her suspicions and sets out with her widower sidekick Miles to begin her investigation. Handing out flyers about Pasha is the perfect excuse to talk to suspects. Red wants her off the case and blocks her at every turn. Myrtle decides Red must be the one off his rocker when she gets a call from Greener Pastures telling her that she’s been added to their waiting list and they need to set up an interview and tour to determine if she would be a good fit for their retirement community.

The case is looking like a no-brainer for Myrtle. There are other suspects, but Rose Mayfield had a grudge against the victim and was very vocal about it. However, there is a twist; another murder knocks out the biggest suspect. On top of that, Myrtle and Miles have a falling out over his not caring about Pasha. Nevertheless, Myrtle is not giving up on solving these crimes. The return of Pasha and reconciliation with Miles helps Myrtle to focus on the case. As Myrtle draws ever closer to the killer, the danger to her life continues to increase. Confronted with death, who would have ever thought Greener Pastures would be Myrtle’s salvation?

A Body at Book Club is the sixth novel in the Myrtle Clover Mysteries. Read on to find out if our favorite octogenarian sleuth will retire for good.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Craig, Elizabeth Spann, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

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

Joseph L. S. Terrell. Undertow of Vengeance. Rock Hill, SC: Bella Rosa Books, 2014.

undertowHarrison Weaver isn’t even over jet lag from his recent trip to Paris with his girlfriend Elly when a friend alerts him to a body in Nags Head Woods.  His friend, Linda Shackleford, had been in the woods photographing its natural beauty; only later, when she was reviewing her photos, did she notice what appears to be a human arm.  Linda fears returning to the woods by herself, so she asks Harrison to accompany her.  Harrison knows he shouldn’t–the local district attorney resents his involvement in some previous high-profile investigations–but after he alerts Odell Wright, his friend in the sheriff’s department, he agrees to go.

Weaver, Shackleford, and Wright find not one body, but two–a man and a woman.  Each was shot just once, in a manner that suggests a cool, methodical killer.  When a third person is killed in a similar manner, and Harrison receives taunting phone calls from the killer, Harrison knows that this killer won’t stop on his own.  Because all the victims have a connection to a new church in town, Harrison and his friend SBI Agent Ballsford Twiddy focus in on the pastor and his deacons. But what would make one of these God-fearing people become a killer? Only when one victim escapes alive, does Harrison have the clue he needs.

This is the fourth title in the Harrison Weaver Mysteries series.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Coast, Dare, Mystery, Novels in Series, Terrell, Joseph L. S.

Jessica Beck. Deep Fried Homicide. United States: CreateSpace, 2014.

Suzanne’s Hart’s normal day at Donut Hearts in April Springs is shattered by a “dark stranger in a severe suit.” Inspector Terry Hanlan hasn’t come to the shop to catch a last-minute donut, but instead to inform Suzanne that her boyfriend, Jake Bishop, has been shot in the line of duty. Suzanne rushes out with hardly a thought at all to the shop.

Jake was shot tracking down a killer in Hickory. Jake escaped with his life; the same cannot be said of the killer. Jake’s wound will require him to take a lot of rest and wear his arm in a sling. So, when he’s released he will be going to stay with Suzanne at the cottage while he recuperates. This will be interesting; Suzanne, her mother, and Jake all in the same house.

But, upon arriving at the hospital, Dorothea, Suzanne’s mother, informs Suzanne that she’s bought a house in town and will be moving there so Jake can have her downstairs bedroom. Even more surprising is the fact that Dorothea has gotten engaged to Chief Martin and plans to stay in the other house permanently. After adjusting to this announcement, Suzanne realizes that this is a good thing for her mom and also for her. She hasn’t ever lived on her own and will get the chance to do so after Jake gets better.

However, Jake’s road to recovery and Suzanne’s time off from Donut Hearts won’t be as tranquil as she hoped. Apparently the killer Jake took down had a partner, Rusk, who is out for revenge. Rusk might be after Jake, but Suzanne is in danger as well. Heather Masterson, who was in prison for poisoning her aunt and coming after Suzanne, is on the loose and may very well be on the way to finish what she began.

With two killers who want the couple dead, how will Jake and Suzanne fare? This thirteenth book in the Donut Shop Mystery series is filled with action and surprises that will keep readers hooked until the very end.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Beck, Jessica, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Mary L. Ball. Stone of Destiny. USA: Prism Book Group, 2013.

stoneofdestinyTaylor Harrison is the youngest CEO of Mugful’s Beverage Company. Moving further up within the company is Taylor’s highest priority. For Taylor, work always comes before play. Nevertheless, work does not come before family. Taylor’s parents often traveled while she was growing up, and they still do so now. Because of this, Taylor has spent most of her time with her paternal grandparents. Now that her grandfather has passed on, her grandmother, Kay Harrison, is the most important person in her life. Granny Kay has decided to sell their family home in Liberty Cove, North Carolina. When she asks Taylor for assistance in getting the place ready, Taylor can’t help but take some time off from her busy schedule. Taylor will soon discover Granny Kay actually wants Taylor there to search the house for a lost family ring.

Also unbeknownst to Taylor, Granny Kay and her best friend Louise are matchmaking. The contractor, Brent Roberts, who Granny Kay has employed to work on the house, is actually Louise’s nephew. The two ladies are hoping that the young couple will hit it off. There is chemistry between Taylor and Brent, but Taylor has no time to get involved. Right now, her career is her complete focus.

When Taylor miraculously uncovers the ring from a loose floorboard and Brent gets Taylor to agree to regularly going out with him, it looks like life couldn’t get much better. Then Taylor gets offered a promotion that might end the relationship. This promotion would require Taylor to oversee the building of a new Mugful’s in Panama.

Deciding to take the job, Taylor asks Brent not to contact her again. Additionally, the separation is the furthest that Taylor has ever been away from Granny Kay and will be hard for the both of them. But, it is only three years and Taylor will make sure to come back every few months to visit her.

Soon after the move, Granny Kay falls seriously ill. Will Taylor risk her position with Mugful’s when her boss denies her the leave? If she returns to North Carolina, what will happen with her and Brent? Most importantly, will Granny Kay pull through?

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

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Ball, Mary L., Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont, Religious/Inspirational, Romance/Relationship

Lori Benton. The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn. Colorado Springs, CO: Waterbrook Press, 2014.

thepursuitoftamsenlittlejohnAll that Tamsen Littlejohn has been brought up for, since her mother married Hezekiah Parrish, comes to this single moment in 1787 Morganton, North Carolina. Ambrose Kincaid, a twenty-nine year old heir to a Virginia fortune, has been enraptured by the portrait Parrish carries around of his stepdaughter. Kincaid has agreed to meet with the family in order to discover whether he and Tamsen will make a good match.

Sure that Kincaid will turn out to be a younger version of Parrish, Tamsen approaches the meeting reluctantly. However, she soon finds herself caught up in conversation with the young man and thinking that this might not be a bad match after all. Then Kincaid backhands his slave just for interrupting them. Tamsen believes this act has shown her Kincaid’s true nature and rushes from the table, right into the arms of Cade, a backwoods trapper and cattle drover.

Cade and his son, Jesse Bird, are caught off guard when the young lady runs into them, and Jesse can’t keep his eyes off her. Later that night, Jesse unknowingly halts Tamsen’s flight from her stepfather’s cruel rule. Realizing that Tamsen will not bend to her stepfather’s will, Tamsen’s mother decides to reveal a family secret, one she promised Parrish she would never reveal. Upset by Tamsen’s defiance and further angered by his wife’s disobedience, Parrish commits an unforgivable act. Knowing there is no way that she will be safe under her stepfather’s control, Tamsen decides that escape is her only option.

Unable to get Tamsen out of his head, Jesse Bird has discovered the cruelty that Tamsen and her mother have had to suffer living with Parrish. He offers to help Tamsen get away. They have no idea the amount of trouble that will follow.

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn is a tale of discovery. Tamsen will discover the kind of woman she is without the strong influence of her stepfather and possibly discover love along the way. On the other hand, Jesse, sure of the man he is, will discover the truth about his birth family and the meaning of selfless love.

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

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Benton, Lori, Burke, Historical, Mountains, Romance/Relationship

Auburn Seal. Roanoke Vanishing. United States: CreateSpace, 2013.

vanishing The fate of the English colonists on Roanoke Island has puzzled North Carolinians and scholars for centuries.  Did the colonist die of disease?  Did they starve during a harsh winter?  Were they killed?  Did they migrate inland and become absorbed into a Native American community?

With no conclusive evidence, theories have dominated discussions of the Lost Colony.  Avery Lane, the heroine of Roanoke Vanishing, has long been bothered by the theory that Native Americans killed the colonists.  To Avery, this unproven speculation has been used as a justification for unfair treatment of Native Americans in this state.  Avery, a grad student in history at UNC-Chapel Hill, wants to take a new approach to the topic by focusing on who the colonists were and what their lives were like before they made the long sea voyage from England to the New World.  Could it be that their lives in England hold the key to their eventual fate?

Avery’s thesis adviser, Jonas Allen, is a specialist on the English settlement of America, so Avery expects him to endorse her thesis proposal.  She is stunned when he angrily refuses to do so.  Professor Allen’s outburst is just the first of several unsettling, even dangerous, encounters that Avery has as she pursues her research.  Avery is followed, her house is broken into, and  her best friend is put in peril.  Avery comes to see that she must heed the words of the ghost Elinor (yes, that Elinor) and trust no one as she pursues the truth about the Lost Colony.

Roanoke Vanishing is the first novel in the author’s Vanishing Series.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coast, Dare, Historical, Mystery, Novels in Series, Orange, Piedmont, Seal, Auburn

Virginia Kantra. Carolina Girl. New York: Berkley Sensation, 2013.

carolinagirlMeg Fletcher is just getting back to the office in Manhattan after spending time with her family in their moment of need. The matriarch of the Fletcher family, Tess, was in a car accident with a drunk driver and the Fletchers rallied together in order to get things done. Meg doesn’t usually take time off from her job. But her mother was in the hospital and family has always been important to the Fletchers. In a Marine household, you learn how to stick together in order to deal with the constant moving. When you’re always the new kids in town, your siblings are your closest friends.

Meg might have enjoyed being with the family on Dare Island, her family’s home for generations, but she is glad to get back to Manhattan, her job, and her long-term boyfriend and roommate Derek. However, the return isn’t anything like Meg expected. Meg is fired on her first day back at her job of twelve years. Derek works for the same company but his job is secure. Convincing herself that it wouldn’t have been professional for Derek to stick up for her, Meg still expects him to come home early that night to comfort her. When Derek comes home even later than usual and starts talking about taking some time apart to think, Meg heads back to Dare Island.

When Meg is picked up by her high-school crush–and brother Matt’s best friend–Sam Grady, she feels familiar stirrings in her heart, but she won’t make that mistake again. They shared one night of passion as teens and then he made sure to avoid her. What a jerk! Yet, she soon finds herself confiding in him. Also, when her mother’s accident threatens to cause them to lose Taylor–the niece that no one knew about until Taylor’s mother died–Sam does everything he can to help. Maybe he isn’t the boy he used to be. But, that doesn’t mean anything can happen between them. Meg still has Derek to think about, and she’s definitely not giving up life in New York for an island she dreamed of escaping all her youth.

Carolina Girl is the second book in the Dare Island series. The first title in the series Carolina Home told the tale of her brother Matt, who stayed home on Dare Island. The third book in the series, Carolina Man, continues on with the siblings, telling the story of Luke, a Marine like their father. In Carolina Girl, we get the story of the family’s only girl, and readers grow ever closer to this North Carolina family and the values they live by.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coast, Dare, Kantra, Virginia, Novels in Series, Romance/Relationship

Margaret Maron. Designated Daughters. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2014.

daughtersReaders of Margaret Maron’s Deborah Knott series are used to Deborah’s large family, and Maron kindly helps readers to keep them straight by providing a family tree in recent books.  In Designated Daughters, Deborah’s Aunt Rachel briefly takes center stage.

Aunt Rachel has always been an easy going, neighborly person who made friends with many of the people who came to her vegetable stand.  Although never a gossip, Aunt Rachel has been privy to a lot of secrets.  Nearing death, she begins to unburden herself of some of those stories–not in a way her family understands but clearly enough to unnerve at least one listener.  When the family steps away from her room, someone smothers this sweet woman.

The family is both horrified and puzzled.  Even though Deborah has promised Dwight that she will not interfere in the homicide investigation, this is her family.  Deborah begins to match up some of her aunt’s ramblings with the stories of neighbors and kin.  A church man who hit his wife, a house fire that killed a mother and her young daughters, a cowbird egg, a revealing bathing suit–which one of these references would incite someone to murder a woman already in hospice care?  Through Deborah’s investigations, readers learn more about the Knotts family history while Deborah identifies the killer.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Coastal Plain, Maron, Margaret, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places