Tag Archives: Environmentalism

Kenneth Butcher. The Middle of the Air. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, Publisher, 2009.

The Colebrook family is not your typical four-generation span of Hendersonville, NC residents. The patriarch, Pipo, is a talented but controversial painter. His son, Philip, has an active business account with a nuclear weapons facility, and Phillip’s wife Lilly heads an ecological watch group while running the local chocolate shop. Their three sons, Xavier, Charles, and Leon have built prototype unmanned spy planes, developed government satellites, and made breakthrough archaeological discoveries, while Leon’s 6-year-old daughter has a precocious knack for drawing and detecting ancient artifacts.

One day a truck full of nuclear fuel goes missing. The theft occurred suspiciously close to where Leon finds a downed unmarked surveillance plane on the Appalachian Trail. After he brings the fuselage of the plane to Xavier’s workshop, all of the Colebrook men fall under investigation by the FBI. It turns out that the higher-ups in Washington are trying to protect a government nuclear power project that doesn’t officially exist. As the FBI discovers, there is more to the entire Colebrook family than meets the eye in this novel of hiking, chocolate, politics and government intrigue.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Butcher, Kenneth, Henderson, Mountains

Wilma Dykeman. The Tall Woman. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1962.

Wilma Dykeman tells the story of a tight-knit mountain family living in Appalachia as the Civil War ends and Reconstruction begins.  Lydia McQueen moves to a mountain clearing when her husband, Mark, returns from fighting for the Union during the Civil War and has a difficult time readjusting to their predominately Confederate town in the valley.  On the mountain they raise six children, just a few hours away from Lydia’s parents and siblings who live in the valley below.  The family survives the hardships of mountain life and other trials during a time of political and economic difficulty. Lydia is a woman of action who works hard to rebuild her community and leave the next generation with something better – a school.

The Tall Woman features well-developed characters and relationships without neglecting the character of the Appalachian environment.  Lydia is no less tied to her family than she is the land she farms and the livestock she raises.

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Filed under 1960-1969, 1962, Dykeman, Wilma, Graham, Historical, Mountains

Joan Medlicott. The Gardens of Covington. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2001.

The “Ladies” have been living in Covington for just over a year and although they have settled into their home, they’re not so sure they are truly accepted by their neighbors. Each of the women faces her own trials, tribulations, and triumphs: Hannah works in her greenhouse and takes up an environmental cause, Grace opens a tearoom with her gentleman friend Bob (who wants to build a house on the ladies’ land), and Amelia works on her photography and falls for a mysterious man. The ladies also befriend the lonely and elderly Miss Lurina Masterson and face developers from Georgia who want to ruin their beloved Cove Road with a slew of new condominiums. This is the second book in Medlicott’s Covington series.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2001, Medlicott, Joan, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Joyce and Jim Lavene. Fruit of the Poisoned Tree. New York: Berkley Prime Crime, 2006.

When lawyer Park Lamonte dies after his car plummets off an overpass, the police first suspect that he committed suicide. Then attention shifts to his wife Beth and the accusations against her grow louder after Park’s mother is also killed. Charlotte-based botanist and garden shop owner Peggy Lee doesn’t think Beth is guilty and uses her experience and expertise with plants to try to free the widow from police custody. The story includes winter gardening tips and discussions of environmental topics, and features characters from the previous Peggy Lee stories, including Peggy’s boyfriend Steve, her online chess partner Nightflyer, and her unruly dog Shakespeare.

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Filed under 2006, Lavene, Jim and Joyce, Mecklenburg, Mystery, Novels in Series, Piedmont

Ron Rash. Serena. New York: Ecco, 2008.

Set in 1929, Serena begins with timber-baron George Pemberton bringing his new wife from Boston to the North Carolina Mountains. The wife is the titular Serena, an ambitious and intelligent woman who is a good match for her husband and who quickly settles into life in the lumber camp. But as many of her material desires are met, she also faces dissatisfactions due to uncertain investors, the presence of Pemberton’s illegitimate child, and the U.S. government’s attempts to buy land to form Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Her ambitions and cruelty grow. In addition to portraying Serena as a Lady MacBeth-like character, author Ron Rash also presents a look at early environmentalism and shows the harsh and dangerous world of timber labor during the Great Depression. Serena was listed as one of the best books of 2008 by The New York Times, Amazon.com and Publishers Weekly.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Haywood, Historical, Mountains, Rash, Ron

Theodore Taylor. The Weirdo. New York: Harcourt Paperbacks, 2006.

A four-year ban on hunting in the Powhatan Swamp is about to expire and the situation creates tension between local environmentalists and hunters. One of the people spearheading the conservation efforts is teenager Chip Clewt, a boy generally more comfortable with animals than with people. The controversy heats up after the disappearance of a graduate student who was working on tracking the local bears. Originally published in 1992, The Weirdo was that year’s winner of the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2006, Children & Young Adults, Coastal Plain, Mystery, Novels in Series, Taylor, Theodore

William J. Everett. Red Clay, Blood River. Booklocker.com, 2008.

Through the lives of its main characters and with the Earth as a narrator, Red Clay, Blood River spans space and time to tell a story that is both historical and ecological. It ties together two massive and tragedy-filled relocations of the mid-1830s–the Trail of Tears in the United States and the Great Trek in Africa. It also ties these historical events to the present through the experiences of three ecology students.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Everett, William J., Historical, Mountains

Rose Senehi. In the Shadows of Chimney Rock. Boone, NC: Ingalls Publishing Group, 2008.

Since Elizabeth Tarrington went to a lot of trouble to make it look like her husband died in the Vietnam War, she’s angry when he informs her that he will be including their daughters in his will. One daughter, Hayden, goes to visit him in Asheville, but she discovers that her father died only a few hours before her arrival. The main plot centers on the competition between developers and a conservancy group for control of land in the Hickory Nut Gorge that Hayden and her sister inherit, but Hayden also faces the mysteries of her father’s two “deaths,” the challenges of running his art gallery, and the possibilities of a new romance. The local details of In the Shadows of Chimney Rock add realism to the story: Ben, the novel’s ex-football-star-turned-environmentalist, teaches at Warren Wilson College; the art gallery is in the Grove Arcade; and real land conservancy groups continue to work to protect Hickory Nut Gorge from developers.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Buncombe, Mountains, Mystery, Rutherford, Senehi, Rose, Suspense/Thriller

Judy Nichols. Tree Huggers. Austin, TX: Zumaya Enigma, 2008.

When a local environmentalist and a real estate agent die in a blaze at a new shorefront McMansion, everyone suspects that a militant environmental group has committed the arson. Kate Dennison is new to Wilmington and as she covers the story for the Winslow Beach Beacon she begins to attract unwanted attention.  Threatening messages and a dead rat left on her desk are preludes to more dangerous actions.  Kate has to balance her work with her responsibilities as a single mom.  A rekindled romance also complicates matters. Can Kate keep herself and her daughter safe while probing into an shadowy environmental group and a developer who may not be all that he seems?

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Coast, Mystery, New Hanover, Nichols, Judy

B.J. Mountford. Bloodlines of Shackleford Banks. Winston-Salem: John F. Blair, 2004.

Wild ponies have run wild for centuries on the Outer Banks island of Shackleford Banks. But modern development and diseases have taken their toll, and each year volunteers gather to roundup the ponies for a checkup. This year, however, things don’t go quite as usual. One of the horses is missing, and there are signs of foul play. The stakes quickly escalate when one of the volunteers is murdered. Park Service worker Roberta “Bert” Lenehan pursues the case, in the course of which she encounters greedy developers and environmental activists, and studies the long lineage of the horses.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2004, Carteret, Coast, Mountford, B. J., Mystery, Novels in Series