Tag Archives: Church life

Ashley Memory. Naked and Hungry. Banner Elk, NC: Ingalls Publishing Group, 2011.

H.  T. McMullen has been roughing it. Once a successful loan officer with an expensive house, car, and wife, he lost it all to the recession. Disillusioned with his formerly excessive existence, he builds a rickety cabin in the backwoods of his fictional hometown of Yatesville, North Carolina, set deep in the Smokies. McMullen is surprisingly happy living with minimal comforts and growing his own food, despite the uncomfortable proximity of his Bible-thumping, gambling mother. He has his prize motorcycle and an ill-tempered dog named Shorty for company. What more could a man need? But one day he pulls a bright purple fish out of the nearby pond, and his simple life begins to disintegrate.

It’s clear that someone is poisoning the surrounding environment, and H. T. McMullen aims to find out who. But it’s more than just a simple matter of cornering the perpetrators. They know H. T. is sniffing around and decide to send a brash message in the form of two bullets– one in H.T.’s leg, and one in his dog, who barely survives. H. T. sends a plea for help to a Raleigh-based environmental coalition, but he doesn’t really expect an answer. He is delightfully surprised when stunning environmental lawyer Jessica Beane shows up on his doorstep, ready to personally take on his complaint. McMullen hasn’t really thought about romance since his divorce, but something about Jessica and her long red hair makes him a bit distracted. Unfortunately, there isn’t much time for a budding affair, since someone is clearly out to silence him. Soon H. T. and Jessica are on the run, and up to their necks in both poisonous water and deadly killers.

Ashley Memory’s debut novel, Naked and Hungry is simultaneously a romance, an environmental thriller, and the story of a man’s attempt to reinvent himself in our shifting times.

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

1 Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Memory, Ashley, Mountains, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Romance/Relationship, Suspense/Thriller

R. K. Hardy. The Cheetah Diaries. Charleston, SC: CreateSpace, 2012.

Fifteen-year-old Kenya Taymore is definitely a cat person. This is important, because her veterinarian father owns and operates a big cat rescue sanctuary high in the North Carolina mountains. All of the cats (six tigers, one jaguar, one panther, three leopards, a puma, and assorted ocelots, servals, and margays) are enclosed in spacious habitats designed to mimic their native surroundings as closely as possible. The only cat allowed free range is Kenya’s cheetah, Shaka, whom she raised from a kitten. Shaka is special: Kenya’s mother, a brilliant writer, passed away just over a year before due to cancer. That’s when Shaka entered Kenya’s life, a helpless kitten. Kenya knows that treating a wild animal like a house pet was wrong, but having a constant companion in Shaka helped her survive the initial stages of her grief.

Now Kenya is starting her sophomore year in high school and feeling her mother’s absence acutely. The majority of faculty and students at her school are deeply religious, and because of this often use Christian doctrine as a basis for their lessons. Kenya, who has grown up in a household that embraces atheism and science, hates being asked to pray or listening to Creationism presented as a valid alternative to Evolution. She begins to rebel in small ways, one of which is befriending the new English teacher, Mr. Draper. Mr. Draper supports Kenya’s ambitions as a budding poet, and he lends her books that have been banned from the school library. Meanwhile, other teachers and students become increasingly fixated on Kenya. Some attempt to force Christianity on her, while others claim that the scratches she gets from working with large cats are failed attempts at suicide. But Kenya slowly begins to realize the situation is far bigger than her problems at school, and by then it’s nearly too late– everything she holds dear is threatened.

R.K. Hardy’s second work of fiction, aimed at young adults, provides an interesting combination of his opinions on the presence of religion  in education and how to care for rehabilitated wildlife. The author includes a note in the back, expressing the hope that readers will check out organizations such as Carolina Tiger Rescue, which is a clear inspiration for the Taymore’s sanctuary.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Children & Young Adults, Hardy, R. K., Mountains, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Travis Thrasher. Solitary. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2010.

Chris Buckley is dealing with a lot for a 16-year-old: first his parents divorced, and now Chris and his mother have moved from Chicago to the small town of her girlhood in the rural North Carolina mountains. Solitary, North Carolina is as different from Chicago as night from day– here Chris and his mother live in a three-room cabin without internet access or television, and the center of town is small enough to fit into one city block. Chris is miserable at the town high school, where he manages to get on the wrong side of the school bully and his posse, can’t find his classes, and everyone stares at him constantly. But Solitary has one thing Chicago doesn’t: Jocelyn Evans.

Jocelyn is the most beautiful girl in Solitary, the most beautiful girl Chris has ever seen. Although she first ignores him and then treats him with disdainful politeness, he can’t help but keep trying to befriend her. Little by little, her icy exterior thaws, and he starts to see the real Jocelyn, who is kind, spirited–and fears for her life. Chris doesn’t understand what she’s so afraid of, but the rest of the school seems to know. Only no one’s talking, and when Chris tries to solve the mystery on his own, things get ugly quickly.

There are cryptic, anonymous notes warning him to stay away from Jocelyn, strange dogs haunting the woods behind his house, and the stares of his new classmates now seem more sinister than curious. There’s something strange about the church everyone attends, as well, especially Jeremiah  Marsh, the charismatic pastor. Everyone in town seems to take the time to tell Chris that he and his mom don’t belong here, they’re outsiders, and they had better keep their heads down if they know what’s good for them. But no one tells Chris Buckley what to do, and he refuses to give up his precious relationship with Jocelyn, even if it means his destruction. Which it surely will, because the Devil is alive and well in Solitary.

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

1 Comment

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

Marybeth Whalen. She Makes It Look Easy. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2011.

Ariel Baxter is struggling–her husband David is always gone on a sales trip, she has three active boys to deal with, and her photography business is picking up. There never seems to be enough time to make everything run smoothly. When she and David move their family to an upscale suburban neighborhood, Ariel feels exhausted, even though her new home is the house she’s always wanted. Then she meets Justine.

Justine Miller is Ariel’s perfect next-door neighbor. Always perfectly coiffed and lipsticked, Justine has two perfect little blonde girls, a perfectly clean house, serves meals done to perfection, and somehow always finds time to be the hit of the town. At first, Ariel thinks she’s found her new best friend, maybe even a sister, but something isn’t quite right.

Moving to the neighborhood at the same time as Ariel and David are Tom and his wife Betsy, and Tom can’t seem to keep his eyes off of Justine. Ariel assumes that her gorgeous neighbor is used to these kinds of looks from strange men, but it’s soon revealed that Tom and Justine were once high school sweethearts. When rumors begin circulating, Ariel must decide what to believe: her new best friend’s blithe reassurances, or the little voice in the back of her mind that refuses to be silenced. Is it possible for a woman who has everything to believe she has nothing worth keeping?

Told from the point of view of two first-person narrators, Ariel and Justine, Marybeth Whalen’s second novel will appeal to fans of Christian literature and Desperate Housewives alike.

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

1 Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Religious/Inspirational, Whalen, Marybeth

F. Paul Wilson. Reprisal: A Novel of the Adversary Cycle. New York: Tor, 2011.

F. Paul Wilson’s Adversary Cycle, originally published between 1981 and 1992, has been updated by the author and is now enjoying a revival. The series begins in 1941, when an incomprehensible evil whom we come to know as the Adversary is released among a group of Nazis in the Romanian wilderness. Over the course of the next four novels a wide cast of characters develops, all of whom are affected by this evil, either joining the fight against it, or falling to its dark power throughout the course of the 20th century. Reprisal, the fifth novel in this horror series, sees the Adversary rise again to seek revenge against those who tried to vanquish him in times past. The sixth and final novel of the series, Nightworld, is due to be republished in 2012.

Will Ryerson of Pendleton, North Carolina, is in reality Bill Ryan, a defrocked Jesuit priest from New York City. Years ago, a horrifying murder caused him to flee Manhattan and go into hiding in the small college town of Pendleton. Although reclusive, he has developed a good life for himself as a groundsman at Darnell University. Will reads Kierkegaard and Camus, performs small repairs and maintenance, and stays as far away from telephones as he can. If Will gets too close, the continuous ringing starts, followed by a terrified child’s screaming voice. Ryerson’s sole friend and companion is Lisl, a young, insecure assistant professor in the math department. But when she is seduced by the strangely magnetic Rafe, a graduate student in psychology, Will becomes concerned. Meanwhile, Sergeant Augustino of the NYPD thinks he has a lead on a long-missing child molester, and will stop at nothing to bring him to justice.

A complicated web of horror, seduction, and betrayal, Reprisal is a gripping glimpse into the mind of the ultimate evil in the tradition of The Exorcist.

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

46 Comments

Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Horror, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont, Wilson, F. Paul

Penelope J. Stokes. The Blue Bottle Club. Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group,1999.

The year 1929 is coming to an end, and most people in the United States have started to feel the dreadful onset of the Great Depression. For four young women in Asheville, North Carolina, everything in their lives is uncertain except for one thing: their dreams. Letitia Cameron dreams of marrying the wealthy and well-connected Philip Dorn and having a large, happy family. Adora Archer has set her sights on becoming a successful actress in Hollywood or on Broadway. Eleanor James, who has lived a privileged life thus far, hopes to become the next Jane Addams as a social worker. Mary Love Buchanan wishes to follow her talent as an artist. The four commit their dreams to paper and stuff the pieces into a blue bottle stored in Letitia’s attic. No matter what happens in the coming days, the friends will always have their dreams – and each other.

Sixty-five years later Brendan Delaney, a news anchor for WLOS, is at the Cameron House reporting on its upcoming demolition. She thinks that it is just another dead-end story until a worker discovers the blue bottle. This discovery renews Brendan’s passion for investigative journalism, and she sets out to find Letitia, Adora, Eleanor, and Mary Love to learn how (or if) they fulfilled their dreams.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 1990-1999, 1999, Buncombe, Mountains, Religious/Inspirational, Stokes, Penelope J.

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.

2 Comments

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.

Leave a Comment

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

Tamara Leigh. Restless in Carolina. Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah, 2011.

Bridget Pickwick Buchanan, despite her large (and at times tiresome) family, the wealthy Pickwicks of Pickwick, North Carolina, has never felt more alone. The free-wheeling, avid environmental advocate, with her head full of dreadlocks and sarcastic attitude, finds herself struggling to get through her brother’s wedding one sweltering day in late July. It’s not just the terrible dress she has to wear, but the loss of her husband, Easton Buchanan, that makes it so difficult. Her sister Bonnie is convinced that she needs to snap out of it: Easton died four years ago, and since then Bridget has refused to take off her ring, kept her hair in dreads, and slept in the guest bedroom. Even worse, Uncle Obediah, the Pickwick patriarch, is selling the family estate in order to make restitution to those the (formerly) swindling Pickwicks wronged. Bridget has to find an environmentally-friendly buyer for the estate and its acres of unblemished forest, and fast, or risk seeing it developed into something horrible.

She is intrigued by J.C. Dirk, a handsome Atlanta-based developer who has established a reputation for his “green” work, but no one in his office will return her phone calls. Bridget, never one to be overlooked, decides that if the Mountain won’t come to Mohammed…in short order she finds herself in the polished offices of Dirk Developers Inc., interrupting Mr. J.C. Dirk’s busy schedule. Initially displeased when she crashes his meeting, J.C. agrees to come look at the property when she reveals her prestigious family name. But there may be more in J.C. Dirk, and his fateful trip to the small mountain town of Pickwick, than Bridget bargains for.

An inspirational tale of one woman’s journey back to life, God, and love (saving the planet along the way, of course), this third installment in the Southern Discomfort series doesn’t disappoint!

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Leigh, Tamara, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Religious/Inspirational, Romance/Relationship

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.

Leave a Comment

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