Tag Archives: Church life

Payne, Peggy. Revelation. Wilmington, N.C. : Banks Channel Books, 1995, c1988.

revelationDr. Swain Hammond is perfectly happy before he steps out into his yard one summer night and hears the voice of God. He has a nice house with his beautiful wife in the heart of Chapel Hill, where he grew up. They don’t have a family, but neither wants children–they’re happy by themselves. Although he works as the minister of Westside Presbyterian Church in Chapel Hill, Swain would count himself as the last man likely to hear any kind of divine message. His congregation is made up of individuals who aren’t inclined to make literal interpretations of scripture, and neither is Swain. Yet, while his wife is grilling pork shish kebabs only a few yards away, God speaks to him.

The next year of Swain’s life is fraught with anguish. Far from the joy and peace he imagined hearing the voice of God would bring him, instead it seems to bring nothing but trouble. The congregation doesn’t know what to think of their formerly intellectually detached leader claiming to hear directly from God. At first they staunchly stand beside his right to free speech, but as the year wears on and Swain begins to preach about believing in miracles and hearing His voice again, they become uncomfortable and even angry. A few demand he step down, while others think he should seek counseling. Even Swain’s beloved wife, Julie, doesn’t know what to think.

In the midst of all this turmoil are the local children. Swain has never liked children, or felt comfortable around them. But when a boy named Jakey Miles, the son of a local woman he had a crush on in high school, is blinded in a terrible accident, Swain finds himself drawn to the boy. Against his will, he finds himself reflecting on his own childhood, where his intelligent parents played cruel games of emotional chess with one another that inevitably left young Swain traumatized. As the minister questions his faith, his relationships, and himself, one thing becomes startlingly clear–happiness is where you least expect to find it.

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

 

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Filed under 1980-1989, 1988, 1990-1999, 1995, Orange, Payne, Peggy, Piedmont, Religious/Inspirational

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

Marybeth Whalen. The Guest Book. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.

Macy Dillon and her family used to take a vacation to Sunset Beach, North Carolina every year. Her most treasured childhood memories are of walking the beach with her mother, brother, and especially her father. But Darren Dillion passed away when she was just sixteen, and Macy’s life has contained a gaping hole ever since. Macy is barely holding it together, working at the local grocery store, and suffering through her mother’s forced celebration of her father’s birthday each year. The only good thing that has happened since Macy’s father’s death is her now five-year-old daughter, Emma, even though Emma’s father walked out on them both shortly after she was born.

But this year at the birthday celebration they hold annually for her deceased father, Macy’s mom announces that they are once more taking a family vacation to Sunset Beach. Macy begins to hope. As a child, her father encouraged her natural artistic talent by asking her to draw a picture in the guest book at their beach house rental each year. Amazingly, another child, a young boy, would answer Macy’s drawings each year with a drawing of his own. The children traded drawings for ten years without meeting, but in what she knew would be her final drawing, Macy promised to come back and find him. Macy is determined that this trip to Sunset Beach will be the one in which she finds the boy. But when they arrive, no less than three men begin vying for Macy’s attention…and any of the three could be the artist. Will she ever find out his identity? And will her family ever find peace without her father?

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Brunswick, Coast, Religious/Inspirational, Romance/Relationship, Whalen, Marybeth

Kim Cash Tate. Hope Springs. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012.

Hope Springs is a small, fictional town 40 minutes east of Raleigh, North Carolina. Geraldine “Grandma Geri” Sanders, the matriarch of the Sanders clan, holds family reunions here every summer and every Christmas, welcoming her far-flung chicks back to the nest where they grew up. Some, like her granddaughter Libby who lives in Raleigh, haven’t strayed so far. But her other adult grandchildren are so far away; some haven’t visited in years. Sisters Cyd and Stephanie grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, where they spend most holidays with their husbands’ families. Janelle has refused to make the journey down from her home in Maryland ever since she lost her husband two years ago.

The Sanders aren’t the only family in Hope Springs hosting a reunion: the Dillons, their neighbors for many years, are all congregating after the death of their patriarch, Jerry Dillon, who also happened to be the local pastor. His son Todd and daughter-in-law Becca are also heavily involved in ministry, but have moved outside of Hope Springs. Now all the adults from both families have a chance to reconnect over shared happiness and sorrow, and each person must ponder what God truly wants for him or her in their hearts. When Grandma Geri contracts cancer, everyone pulls together, and what is meant to be a Christmas visit turns into a months-long extended stay.

While the novel is told through the eyes of Stephanie, Janelle, and Becca, we witness everyone’s journey together as a family in more ways than one. Will Stephanie be able to adjust to her family after so many years away? Will Janelle eventually overcome her husband’s death, and even find new love? Will Becca do what’s right for herself and her children? Most importantly, will everyone survive in a house full of young children and toddlers? Only God has the answers.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont, Religious/Inspirational, Tate, Kim Cash

Péron Long. The First Person. Deer Park, NY: Urban Renaissance, 2010.

T’Shobi Wells is an up-and-coming gospel star who has just moved to Charlotte, North Carolina from his childhood home of Atlanta. Running from a dark childhood filled with abuse and molestation from adults who should have been there to protect him, he has tried to move on with his life, but keeps getting caught in bad situations. At the moment, he’s currently involved in a torrid affair with two people: one is the wife of his pastor…and the other is the pastor himself. Justine and Seth Reynolds have no idea that T’Shobi is fooling around with both of them, and T’Shobi plans to keep it that way. But Tanisha Jackson, an innocent young woman with a serious crush on the charismatic and talented T’Shobi, might ruin everything.

Tanisha truly believes that what God wants most is for her to make T’Shobi see that she’s the one for him, but as he continually pushes her away, the impressionable young woman slowly loses herself. The sweet Tanisha vanishes, replaced by her alter-ego TiTi: a violent, sexually deviant young woman who will go to any length to make sure T’Shobi is punished for ignoring her. In this dark, gritty urban drama, the reader is witness to the psychological and physical damage that human beings are capable of visiting on themselves and others in their intimate relationships.

This book is not recommended for young readers.

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

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Long, Péron, Mecklenburg, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship, Urban Fiction

Phil Bowie. Diamondback. Aurora, IL: Medallion Press, 2007.

When the Cherokee were exiled from their mountains in 1838, their secrets and lore went with them, including how to find their precious gold mines. The new inhabitants of the Smoky Mountains have been searching ever since for these riches, finding some, but untold wealth still lies hidden in the North Carolina hills for those who know where to look. Moses Kyle isn’t the smartest of men, but he knows the backcountry of Haywood County, and one day he finds the ultimate motherload: a secret cave full of quartz and gold. But when the wrong people find out about his secret knowledge, they will do anything to extract the location. The local Cagle clan are many things, but patient isn’t one of them. Determined to souse out riches, they use their familial connections to a Pentecostal preacher (and his collection of snakes) to interrogate Moses.

Meanwhile, life has been difficult for John Hardin (formerly Sam Bass). Barely surviving the explosion that killed his girlfriend Valerie on the Outer Banks, he’s had to transition to a life in the Smokies. Even though the threat that placed him under witness protection is nearly gone, John is still living under the radar. When Moses Kyle goes missing and then turns up dead, John’s adopted mother, Hattie, begins to worry. She won’t rest until John looks into the situation, and once John goes looking, he finds more than he anticipated. Although he would like to keep living a quiet life with his successful aerial photography business, John can’t let these stones stay unturned. Along with his neighbor, the attractive, motorcycle-riding Kitty Birdsong, John investigates Moses’s mysterious death.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Bowie, Phil, Haywood, Mountains, Novels in Series, Suspense/Thriller

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

Tim Owens. The Search Committee. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2012.

In this novel Tim Owens presents an affectionate portrait of the people and places of eastern North Carolina.  When a small North Carolina Presbyterian church east of  I-95 needs a new pastor, the church does what churches do: they appoint a search committee to screen applications and visit the best candidates.  The seven parishioners on the committee represent all types of people in the church: they are young and old, long-time locals and newcomers, single, married, and widowed.  Most Sundays between the spring and early fall they pack themselves into the church’s Econoline van and drive around the state visiting preachers who are looking to move to a new church.

Much of the story is revealed through the musings of a young married man, Travis Booth.  Through him readers ponder how difficult it is for seven strangers to slip into the Sunday service of a small church without being noticed, what hymn selection might indicate about the preacher’s liturgical style, and whether pew cushions are worth the expense.  While most chapters begin with a brief selection from a Presbyterian catechism or confessional document and the book includes sermon excerpts that will make some regular church goers smile, the novel is not so much about the church as it is about the people on the search committee.  Each person carries a long-term sorrow or is facing a problem that is revealed as the novel unfolds.  Readers will root for these nice people to find grace and healing as much as they wait to see if the search for a minister will be successful.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Coastal Plain, Owens, Tim, Religious/Inspirational

Jim Metzger. Dim. Albion, MI: Aberdeen Bay, 2011.

Tom Maloney, budding Methodist minister and native son, has returned to North Carolina after finishing up a lengthy educational stint in the northeast at Princeton Theological Seminary. The young Methodist’s first job is in Harmony, a fictional small town on the Outer Banks, preaching to a mostly elderly population. Unfortunately for Tom, his northeastern education has not prepared him to lead a flock from the Bible Belt. In a town that thrives on pimento cheese, barbecue, and strong conservative values, Tom’s parishioners think  him far too liberal and his sermons disturbingly lacking in fire and brimstone.

Besides this obvious problem, Tom himself finds the town more and more distasteful: he is frustrated by the closed-minded opinions of his parish, annoyed by their strong objections to his girlfriend Sophie, and hates pimento cheese, which everyone offers in abundance. Additionally, Tom struggles with deep feelings of inadequacy and doubt with regards to his chosen profession, and finds himself more and more engaged by the few dissenters who present alternatives to traditional Methodist principles. His doubts and the community’s dissatisfaction with his abilities both come to a head just as hurricane season rolls in, and Tom must decide what to do. Jim Metzger’s debut novel charts the spiritual and emotional journey of a young man questioning who he is, what he will become, and the meaning of his presence in the greater scheme of life against the backdrop of what is for him, a stifling community.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Metzger, Jim, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Religious/Inspirational

Travis Thrasher. Gravestone. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2011.

Chris Buckley still isn’t sure whether or not he survived the ritual murder of his true love. He’s walking and breathing, but something inside feels dead. Unfortunately, life goes on as usual (or unusual) in the strange and sinister town of Solitary, North Carolina. In this sequel to Solitary and the second book in the Solitary Tales, Chris finds himself swept along in the daily grind with the rest of the kids at Harrington High– taking classes, eating lunch, and getting picked on by the school bully. His mother still struggles with alcoholism and depression following her divorce, but she manages to bring in a steady income and even finds Chris a part-time job. On the outside, Chris looks and acts like any other teenager.

However, unlike his compatriots, Chris’s goals have nothing to do with going to college or getting good grades. He has one thing on his mind: exposing Solitary’s evil, embodied by Pastor Jeremiah Marsh, to the world. The problem with this is that the Devil in Solitary is strong and watches Chris unceasingly. Bad things have happened in the past to those who have tried to root it out, and if Chris keeps pushing, he might be next. Thankfully, Chris isn’t alone in his fight, but he isn’t sure who to trust: Iris, the strange old lady who runs the inn where he works? Jared, his long-lost cousin? Poe, who used to be Jocelyn’s best friend? Sheriff Wells, who once told Chris to come to him with anything? As before, no one is forthcoming, and Chris must make his way blindly forward, hoping that this time, his decisions won’t result in his own or anyone else’s death. But evil is strong, and that hope may be in vain.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Children & Young Adults, Henderson, Horror, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Religious/Inspirational, Thrasher, Travis