Tag Archives: Farming

Jimmy C. Waters. The Bender Legacy. Toccoa, GA: Currahee Books, 2011.

The story of the Bender Family, begun in Waters’s New Bern: 1710 in the Carolinas, continues in this account of the Civil War in and around the family’s hometown of New Bern, North Carolina. Since Martin Bender built the family plantation in the 18th century, life has been good for the Benders- they have become successful cotton farmers and dry goods merchants. This novel begins in 1854 at the deathbed of John Knox Bender, the current Bender patriarch, as he instructs his sons in a shocking legacy passed down from father to son since Martin’s time. John Knox’s three sons, Philemon, Bryan, and Jake, are as different as can be: Philemon, the eldest, is boisterous and commanding, while Bryan, the middle son, is a quiet, bookish young man with a crippled arm. Jake, the youngest, is the sharply intelligent first mate on a ship transporting cotton to Britain. Although each reacts differently to their father’s surprising command, they all agree to honor his wish and keep the family legacy.

Soon, though, they will be tested. The dying John Knox Bender foresees what none of the rest can imagine: war will strike the South in just six short years. As the three sons scatter to the winds in an attempt to defend their homes and homeland, we accompany them to witness the war in different places: from the trenches on battlefields, through the eyes of a blockade runner out to sea, and where the conflict was perhaps the most brutal: on the farms and homesteads of Southern families. As these young men and their compatriots fight for their lives and for everything else they hold dear, some will emerge from the conflict, while others will fall.

Half history and half historical fiction, Jimmy C. Waters weaves statistics, facts, and a plethora of imaginary characters together in this stirring sequel to New Bern. Witness every battle that took place during the War Between the States in North Carolina, on the front lines with the brothers Bender.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Craven, Historical, Waters, Jimmy C.

Ann Hite. Ghost on Black Mountain. New York: Gallery Books, 2011.

Nellie Clay falls hard for winter-eyed, curly-haired Hobbs Pritchard. In no time at all they are married, paying no heed to Nellie’s mama, who warns that she sees death in her tea leaves. It’s 1939, and despite the Depression that the country is in,  it’s the modern world. Who believes in ghosts and hoodoo? Hobbs brings Nellie home to Black Mountain, a very different world than the one Nellie grew up in near Asheville. For a time, she’s happy, despite their neighbors’ coldness and the strange rumors she keeps hearing regarding her husband. But slowly she discovers that Hobbs Pritchard isn’t the man she thought he was, and she begins to dread hearing his tires on the gravel outside.

And she begins seeing people. There’s an old woman in the house with steel gray hair, and a small man with round glasses who walks the Pritchard land. Only Shelly, the Pritchards’s sometime maid, sees them too. Nellie knows that she has to get off Black Mountain, but Hobbs is squarely in her way. One dark night everything falls apart, and Nellie does leave Black Mountain for good…or so she thinks.

Told through the eyes of five women touched by the murderous cruelty of Hobbs Pritchard, Ghost on Black Mountain is set against the rich beauty of the Appalachians. Linked by blood, common experience, and the ability to see “haints,” each woman nonetheless has a unique voice that engages the reader with its compelling tale.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Buncombe, Hite, Ann, Mountains

Eileen Clymer Schwab. Shadow of a Quarter Moon. New York: New American Library, 2011.

“Jacy Lane, you are nothing more than a foolish quarter moon!” While Jacy is the pride and joy of her father, the wealthy plantation owner Mr. Bradford Lane, she is often the subject of her mother Claudia’s anger. Raised to be a fine southern lady in northeastern North Carolina, Jacy has enjoyed a comfortable existence marred only by her mother’s inexplicable bouts of rage. But her mostly happy life comes to an abrupt halt, first when a cruel landowner foists his ungentlemanly attentions on her, and then when Bradford Lane dies suddenly. When Jacy refuses to submit to the fate her mother Claudia has planned, the woman finally reveals the reason for her ill-treatment of Jacy: Jacy is the illegitimate child of Bradford and his true love, a half-white, half-black house slave. When the young Jacy heard her mother call her a “quarter moon”, she was really saying “quadroon”- a term for a person who is only three-quarters white. Naturally fair-skinned and kept paler with wide-brimmed sun hats, no one, not even Jacy, had guessed her true parentage.

Stunned by this revelation, Jacy begins a transformation. Galvanized by the further discovery that her birth mother and full brother are still enslaved on the plantation, she decides to deliver them, and the handsome horse trainer Rafe, to freedom. It is only when the three are safely away that Jacy realizes her true home is with them, no matter where they are or the color of their skin. Abandoning the relative safety of the plantation, Jacy strikes out to follow her family through the Underground Railroad to the north, true love, and acceptance of her own identity. Along the way she encounters great danger, temporary defeat, and the worst kind of human indecency, but ultimately emerges as a triumphant, strong woman with the ability to look her fears in the eye.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Camden, Coastal Plain, Gates, Historical, Pasquotank, Romance/Relationship, Schwab, Eileen Clymer

Kathy Reichs. Flash and Bones. New York, NY: Scribner, 2011.

This image courtesy of www.kathyreichs.com/bones.

Emily Deschanel portrays Dr. Temperance Brennan in the TV show Bones. She poses here with Kathy Reichs (right). Image courtesy of www.kathyreichs.com/bones.

What do NASCAR, missing teenagers, and an audacious tabby cat all have in common? None other than Dr. Temperance Brennan, the brilliant, savvy forensic anthropologist based in Charlotte, NC. In her latest case, Brennan is called out to the nearby Charlotte Motor Speedway to look at a barrel containing human remains. Soon she is caught in a tangled investigation involving the FBI, a dangerous white supremacist group, a local organic farmer, and sweaty, chain-smoking detective Erskine “Skinny” Slidell. But perhaps most dangerous of all, Brennan’s ex-husband, Pete, has asked her to intervene on his behalf with his new fiancée: blonde, bosomy Summer. Driven to hysterics over planning their wedding (and Pete’s disinterest in the ceremony), Summer clings to Brennan for emotional support, calling at all hours of the day and night. Harassed by both FBI agents and dangerous militants, drenched by unpredictable Piedmont storms, and romantically adrift, disgruntled Temperance doesn’t realize that she will soon be more thankful for the needy Summer than she thinks.

Kathy Reichs upholds her winning formula of science, mystery, and a strong female lead in this fourteenth installment of the series that inspired the hit TV show Bones. NASCAR fans will be delighted to watch Brennan’s education in racing , as well as the slew of characters she meets along the way. When she can take a break from the Speedway, Temperance touches base with her daughter Katy, old flame Andrew Ryan, and stalwart feline companion Birdie, although beau Charles Hunt doesn’t make an appearance. But Team Ryan and Team Hunt beware- there’s a new man on the scene providing Brennan with equal parts assistance and annoyance: tall, dark and handsome ex-detective (and ex-con) Cotton Galimore.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Mecklenburg, Mystery, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Reichs, Kathy, Suspense/Thriller

Lauren Myracle. Shine. New York: Amulet Books, 2011.

Patrick Truman was never afraid, or if he was it never showed. When his classmates called him a pansy or a fairy, when they stole his pants and left him trapped in the bathroom, when they knocked into him or threw the word fag in his face, it never stuck. He cast off their darkness and let his light shine, just like his grandma, Mama Sweetie, told him to. But some people are so infected with hate and anger that such strength, such survival in another is unbearable. A tourist finds Patrick one Sunday morning at the gas station where he works, beaten and left for dead with a nozzle shoved down his throat. He lies in a coma, an object of gossip and fascination to the entire community of Black Creek, his small, conservative mountain town.

Cat Robinson knows she has to get to the bottom of it. Despite their statements to the local paper, the sheriff’s department isn’t doing anything, and many people even whisper that Patrick was asking for it, maybe even deserved it. Though they haven’t spoken in years, Patrick was her best childhood friend, and Cat aches for the distance that grew up between them in high school. She starts asking questions, opening old wounds, and examining herself and her class-divided, embittered town with a critical and unsparing eye. Filled with a fire and bravery she had forgotten, Cat rediscovers herself in the search for her friend’s attacker. She remembers how to shine, even in the face of the intolerant, the mentally destroyed, and the beaten down. Even in the face of her own victimization. Undaunted and unwilling to remain silent any longer, Cat is an excellent example of how we hope our children will learn to respond to hate.

Native daughter Lauren Myracle has written an engrossing tale that acknowledges human nature’s strange capacity for both chilling evil and inestimable grace. While aimed at young adults, older readers will also find that the finely crafted characters, well-written narrative, and overarching themes of friendship, acceptance, and courage make for an excellent read. It is an apt message for our times.

UPDATE July 27th, 2012: Congratulations to Shine for winning the 2012 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award for Young Adult fiction!

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

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Children & Young Adults, Mountains, Myracle, Lauren

Kat Meads. When the Dust Finally Settles. Spokane, WA: Ravenna Press, 2011.

Clarence Carter died unexpectedly, giggling at the irony of it all, flipped over and pinned under his Oliver tractor on account of a wayward tree stump. Bewildered but rather amused by suddenly finding himself a ghost, he wanders back through the week leading up to his death in May of 1968. With a wry but empathetic voice, he examines the lives and emotions of the inhabitants of his home, (fictional) Mawatuck County in northeastern North Carolina. He comments on their age-old feuds, new loves, and festering anger at the harshness of life, surprised at how dying can alter one’s perspective so drastically. He is particularly interested in three impending graduates of the newly integrated Mawatuck County High School; his son, Lucian Carter, his orphaned niece, Amelia Nell Stallings, and their witty friend, Harrison Doxey. Lucian should be popular: he’s white, tall, and muscular. But he refuses to play football, and he’s always sticking up for his feisty, skinny, odd cousin Amelia Nell. On top of it all, he’s friends with Harrison, whose greatest crime (as far as the rest of the school is concerned) is being a member of the “first fifteen” to integrate Mawatuck.

Clarence Carter drifts through time and space to follow the trio as they grow up in the week leading to both their graduation and his death. Amelia Nell’s grandmother Mabel pushes her to commit to running the family farm, attempting to keep it out of the hands of her rich, no-good neighbors the Halstons. Harrison dreams of sashaying onto the dance floor at the local whites-only dance club, The Lido, and impressing the hard-to-please, gorgeous Jocelyn McPherson with his nonchalant daring. Lucian just wants Clarence to stop fighting The Man (in particular the severe, debt-collecting agents who come calling in a black sedan) and pay his federal taxes. In the end, the three children, for better or worse, will walk away from high school as adults.

Kat Meads has written a lovely tale about the strength it takes to make change and break rules that shouldn’t be rules. Embedded in her story are musings on a community’s shifting identity, its connection to the land, and the meaning of loyalty and love. Based on her home county of Currituck, Mawatuck County is filled with an abundance of diverse voices; some are familiar and expected, while others are new and beautifully different. As Clarence himself warns the reader at the beginning, “surprises coming your way, my friend, that much I guarantee.”

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Currituck, Historical, Meads, Kat, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Cleveland Jones. The Firescalds Road to the Sky. Summerville, SC: Holy Fire Publishing, 2009.

The Firescalds Road to the Sky is the life story of a young boy, called simply RC, growing up during the 1950s and ’60s. As a small child, RC lives happily on his family’s farm in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. But when hard times come to the farm, RC’s father EC has to go back to work building ships in Newport News, Virginia. Getting by but unhappy at being separated, the family relies on hard work and their Christian faith, somehow finding a way to survive and be together. RC does his part, too: hauling groceries, mowing lawns, delivering papers, and anything else he can for his mother, sisters, and at times faraway father. He even has a furry, fierce companion for a few years: a spirited Airedale named Bobby. But the evils of the world are constantly at hand, and RC must remind himself to follow what he has been taught in order to stay safe and true to his faith. RC’s story is a successful one: he leads an upright, Christian life, and goes to college all the way in California. In the end, though, he returns to his roots in the Appalachians, where he finds what he has somehow always known: his family farm is the true road to Heaven.

This book promotes a strong Christian view of modern society and history and is filled with direct quotations from the Bible. It offers an inspiring story of a young man who pulled himself up by his bootstraps and found comfort in both the strength of his family and his religion.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Jackson, Jones, Cleveland, Mountains, Religious/Inspirational

Carolyn Guy. Autumn Bends the Rebel Tree. Vilas, NC: Canterbury House Publishing, 2011.

Clarinda Darningbush enters the world at the turn of the 19th century, the youngest in a large family rooted in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Absent parents and dangerous surroundings means she grows up quickly, learning from her older siblings how to thrive in the unforgiving mountain environment. One day, she stops with her brother to speak with a handsome, blue-eyed stranger, and her whole world does a “dipsy-doodle.” Rufus McCloud is just as smitten as Clarinda, and soon they are happily married. Seventeen children and Rufus’ banjo music fill their joyful home on Levi’s Mountain to the brim, but tragedy comes to call. Left without her dearest love, Clarinda must weather life as a widow and single mother, struggling through the Great Depression and World War II with the help of her devoted children. Hooking rag rugs for trade, fighting off panthers and bears, and even building a new house when a devastating fire destroys their old home, Clarinda is the epitome of strength and courage. Throughout this bittersweet life of toil, she sometimes sees and hears her winsome husband, although she tells no one. Clarinda is sure that one bright day they will be reunited, and as spry as they were in youth, dance off together on the air.

A Boone, North Carolina native, Carolyn Guy has put forth what many readers are calling one of the most accurate depictions of North Carolina mountain life during the 1930s and 1940s that they’ve ever read. Bursting with Appalachian dialect, music, and customs, readers will find Clarinda’s resourcefulness and faith an inspiration as much as they will enjoy the humorous scrapes and stories of her large, warm family.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Guy, Carolyn, Historical, Mountains, Religious/Inspirational, Watauga

Blonnie Bunn Wyche. Cecilia’s Harvest: A Novel of the Revolution. Wilmington, NC: Whittler’s Bench Press, 2009.

Cecilia Moore is certain of two things: first, that she has to get away from her hardworking older sister Pauline and the hateful family tavern, and second, that Kenneth Black, atop his fine stallion, Big Boy, is the handsomest man in Wilmington, if not all North Carolina. The winter’s day in 1775 when he asks for her hand in marriage is the happiest of her sixteen-year-old life: he drapes her in a diamond necklace and promises to whisk her away to his prosperous farm full of servants. Cecilia cannot imagine that within a few months, just as the country plunges further into deadly warfare, she too will be fighting for mere survival. Murder, pregnancy, wild animals, and marauding British soldiers make life an unforgiving onslaught, and as quickly as Cecilia’s fortunes rise, the next day only brings more brutal tests. But Cecilia, in addition to being a crack shot with her rifle, is possessed of a nimble mind and a brave heart. Whatever dangers threaten, she finds she has the strength to rise and meet them again and again.

As Americans, we know the story of the Revolutionary War: taxation, then Declaration, followed by fighting and eventually freedom. But what of the smaller stories, the personal tales that won our nation its liberty? Blonnie Bunn Wyche follows her award-winning novel, The Anchor: P. Moore Proprietor, with the suspenseful story of a young woman struggling to survive the bitter years of revolution. Cecilia Moore Black is a stalwart, gutsy heroine who will make an excellent addition to any young adult’s reading list.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Brunswick, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Historical, New Hanover, Pender, Romance/Relationship, Suspense/Thriller, Wyche, Blonnie Bunn

Helen Taylor. Cobalt Blue. Virginia Beach, VA: Grunwald and Radcliff Publishers, 1989.

Helen Taylor used her own experiences and stories that she heard in her childhood as the basis for this novel of life in Granville County.  The Tazewell family had been on the land in Granville County since the early nineteenth century.  When the novel opens it is 1895 and Richard Tazewell is living at Longwood with his widowed mother, his wife Alice, and their seven children.  Also on the plantation are two orphans who are treated almost as kin,  and a changing cast of tenants.  The novel will follow these characters over twenty years during which the characters will experience the joys and sorrows of farm life and confront the technological and economic challenges that came to rural North Carolina one hundred years ago. This look at farm life is not sugar-coated, but neither is it critical of the social conventions of the time.  The endpapers of the book contain a charming, hand-drawn map of Longwood and the surrounding lands.

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

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Filed under 1980-1989, 1989, Granville, Taylor, Helen