Tag Archives: Politics

Scott Nicholson. Chronic Fear. Las Vegas, NV: Thomas & Mercer, 2011.

After the death of Dr. Sebastian Briggs, the cohort of strangers and old friends who survived the murderous events at the Monkey House try to go back to their old lives, but with little success. Roland and Wendy flee to the Blue Ridge Mountains, looking for some peace. Psychologically ruined Anita and David undergo extreme medical treatment, though with little hope for recovery. Senator Burchfield heads back to Washington, DC, intent on making a run for the presidency. Mark and Alexis Morgan return to their marriage, and while Mark is understandably fired from CRO for destroying their pet project, Alexis continues to conduct research at UNC.

But some people aren’t content to let Halcyon, a calming drug meant to cure PTSD, live on in memory alone–or its rage-inducing counterpart, Seethe. Although Alexis would prefer to forget everything, she can’t. Mark, who had never been exposed to Seethe before, has reacted badly to the dose from the Monkey House. He’s become unpredictable, prone to violent outbursts, and has developed a paranoid obsession with firearms. Quietly, Alexis has begun attempting to revive Halcyon, the only thing that can tame the Seethe left in Mark’s system. And someone has noticed. Alexis receives a chilling phone call at her campus office: Surely you didn’t think we could let you live, after what happened?

Soon, the survivors from the Monkey House are embroiled in a second fight to keep Seethe and Halcyon out of government hands, a race that takes them all across the Old North State. As before, their worst enemy isn’t the CIA, NCS, or even the greedy Senator Burchfield, but the darkness that Seethe brings to the surface in every human being it touches. How will they survive the Monkey House when the Monkey House is all around them?

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

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Mountains, Nicholson, Scott, Orange, Piedmont

Scott Nicholson. Liquid Fear. Las Vegas, NV: Thomas & Mercer, 2011.

Halcyon is rumored to be a miracle drug–a cure-all for post-traumatic stress disorder. Inducing a state of calm amnesia, the drug helps people completely forget their fears. Those afflicted with PTSD, most notably veterans from the recent wars, will finally be able to lead normal lives. But the research process behind the medication is shadowy and filled with terrible secrets.

Dr. Sebastian Briggs, Halcyon’s inventor, was a respected professional conducting his research at UNC. During trials, the accidental death of Susan Sharpe, an undergraduate test subject, forced the university to let him go, but Briggs refused to stop testing. The scientist’s obsessive, sadistic nature pushed him to continue for his own evil enjoyment, and besides, powerful people were willing to fund his work. Briggs sets up a new lab in nearby Research Triangle Park, and gives it a sinister nickname: the Monkey House. What he does there is anyone’s guess. His funders, sensing major returns, make sure they don’t look too closely at his methods.

But what these powerful, wealthy benefactors don’t realize is that Briggs developed another drug alongside the calming Halcyon– a pill that strips away everything that makes a person human, bringing about a state of complete and total animal fear and anger. Briggs called it Seethe, and unbeknownst to UNC, he was testing this drug when Susan’s death occurred.

Ten years later, Briggs’s other test subjects, also students at the time, find themselves struggling to control their behavior. Each person finds a mysterious bottle of pills among his or her belongings, cryptically labeled take every 4 hours, or else. Somehow, all paths lead back to Dr. Briggs and his fateful experiments, and soon each is drawn to the Monkey House. They come to get answers about troubling memories that seem to stem from nowhere–Was Susan’s death really an accident? Is one of them responsible? What are the pills for? Most importantly, why are they still being affected? But Sebastian Briggs isn’t interested in providing explanations. In fact, he has one final test in mind: put his old subjects in the Monkey House, inject them with the deadly Seethe, and watch. After the lights go out, who will emerge alive?

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Horror, Nicholson, Scott, Orange, Piedmont, Suspense/Thriller

Barbara Wright. Crow. New York: Random House Books for Young Readers, 2012.

“We will never surrender to a ragged raffle of negroes, even if we have to choke the Cape Fear River with carcasses.”
-Alfred Moore Waddell, leader of the 1898 Wilmington race riots

The only complete overthrow of a local government in US history, the Wilmington race riots successfully removed the Fusionist party from power in the North Carolina town of Wilmington. In early November, a group of  insurrectionists known as the Red Shirts seized power from the legally elected officials, both white and black. Armed with rifles and a Gatling gun mounted on a wagon, they burned the offices of the  local African-American newspaper and wounded, killed, or ran off the majority of the black population.

Crow is the story of this coup, as seen through the eyes of Moses Thomas, a young African-American boy just entering the sixth grade. Moses is a typical child; he likes swimming, eating pie, riding bicycles, and getting into a little trouble now and again. Bright and motivated to learn, he loves going to school and finding new words, but lately he’s been frustrated. There’s trouble brewing in Wilmington, and no one will explain what’s going on. Groups of men in red clothing walk the streets, getting drunk and listening to angry speeches, and he isn’t allowed to enter the slogan contest at the hardware store, even though he’s under 18 and has the best entry. Worst of all, everyone is whispering words like “lynching” and “rape” without telling Moses what they mean.

Despite the tension,  Moses is mostly happy. His daddy, Jack Thomas, is an educated and honest man who works as a reporter for the Record in addition to serving as an alderman. Father and son share a particularly special bond, and together they spend hours playing word games and discussing philosophy. The other pillar of Moses’ life is Boo Nanny, his aged grandmother. Boo Nanny is the opposite of her son-in-law Jack in many ways–superstitious, filled with stories and poems, and prone to making bad-smelling medicinal concoctions. A cautious person lacking in self-esteem due to the abuse she endured as a slave, Boo Nanny’s ideas on the best ways to approach the growing conflict with white Wilmingtonians often cause her to clash with Jack, but the little family loves one another deeply all the same.

But with election day looming and the Red Shirt violence increasing, will the relative peace of Moses’ small world be shattered forever? A mature and heartbreaking look at an often ignored piece of American history, Wright’s novel, though aimed at young adults, will capture readers of all ages.

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

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Historical, New Hanover, Wright, Barbara

Jody Meacham. Through the Heart of the South. San Jose, CA: Doodlebug Publishing, 2010.

It’s the summer of 1968, and Chris McAndrew should be relaxed and looking forward to his senior year of high school in Shortridge, North Carolina. But this year, the local black school, Booker T. Washington High, is closing, and all of the students there will matriculate at the formerly whites-only Shortridge High. The School Board fought long and hard against this integration, and when nothing prevented it, did everything they could to make this year as uncomfortable as possible for the black community. Class activities and trips are eliminated, and if any black player should even think of scoring the winning point in a football game, there will be hell to pay. Chris is convinced it’s just plain wrong to treat anyone this way, but speaking up means being labeled a “nigger-lover” by the rest of the whites in Shortridge, especially his girlfriend Susan Marks’s angry father, Wade.

But as Chris and his best friend Cam get to know the new students, especially Malachi Stevens, a particularly gifted singer and football player, it gets harder to be friends in the classroom but treat them as less than human when school lets out. Susan and the rest of the town continue to try to convince Chris that “they” are the ones taking everything from the white population and polluting it, but somehow that doesn’t make sense. The situation finally comes to an ugly head when a local NAACP representative is murdered and found by his young daughter, and a teenage biracial couple flee to South Carolina to get married, only to return under a shadow when they find out it’s illegal. With the Vietnam War hanging over their heads and the railroad industry that supports Shortridge sliding under their feet, the graduating class of 1969 must at least agree on one thing: the times, they are a’changin’.

This heartfelt and engaging coming-of-age novel is Meacham’s first, and is based partially on his own experiences growing up in Hamlet, North Carolina.

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

 

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Historical, Meacham, Jody, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont, Richmond

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.

A. L. Provost. The Unwilling Spy. New York: Xlibris, 2011.

It is 1943, and the atomic arms race is on. In Los Alamos, New Mexico, physicists labor night and day to develop the first atomic bomb … and nearby German spies observe them. In this fictional account of espionage and murder, German, American, and British agents are embroiled in a battle of wits to uncover scientific secrets first, before the enemy has a chance to gain the advantage.

The tale begins in Santa Fe with Gunter Fleiss, cleverly disguised as all-American Bill Wilson. When he and his attractive co-conspirator, Marla Hawkins, discover the location of a bomb test-site near Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, they get word to the Fuhrer as quickly as possible. The Nazi network in America works overtime to set up an attractive, female German spy who will meet a German expert in Camp Lejeune to ferret out the secrets of the bomb. But these observers are not themselves unobserved. The FBI gets wind of their plan, and dispatches their own attractive, female German-American counter-agent to North Carolina.

The Fuhrer decides to send trusted SS Colonel Max Reiner on this dangerous North Carolinian mission, but there is one problem: Colonel Reiner doesn’t know the first thing about atomic physics, and the powers of the beautiful German spy lie in chemistry of another kind. The Fuhrer is forced to send along an expert in atomic physics. When physicist Hans Richter is chosen, he has no desire to go. His father was murdered by an SS officer, and Richter abhors the Nazi Party. Ever since that tragedy, Hans has been biding his time for revenge, and what better revenge than using this opportunity to sabotage the Fuhrer’s plans?

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Historical, Lenoir, Onslow, Provost, A. L., Suspense/Thriller

Alan Thompson. A Hollow Cup. Livermore, CA: Wingspan Press, 2011.

Lilah Freedman, a young woman involved in the civil rights movements in the small North Carolina town of New Hope in 1966, was brutally murdered one night after a protest at the local university. The white man originally accused of her murder was never convicted and a great deal of mystery and racial tension has surrounded this cold case ever since. Now, in 1991, a State attorney thinks he has enough evidence for a surprising new indictment, throwing the small town into an uproar once again. Pete Johnson and Luke Stanley, two attorneys sharing a past with each other, Lilah Freedman, and New Hope, return seeking closure and redemption in their own lives. Pete, having watched an unfairly convicted client of his go to his death, is disillusioned with the justice system. Luke Stanley, having spent his life fighting for racial integration in Chicago, seeks to bring that battle to his home town.

A complex novel that often switches perspective to give the reader a chance at glimpsing the world through a variety of eyes and opinions, A Hollow Cup travels back and forth in time between the youth of these main characters in the 1960s and their actions in the present day of 1991, illustrating the racial division and tension of each time. Alan Thompson’s readers will enjoy the geographical treasure hunt as the author describes his characters’ forays throughout the fictional town of New Hope, which bears a great many similarities to Chapel Hill.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Historical, Mystery, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Orange, Piedmont, Thompson, Alan

H. Leigh Aubrey. A Keen Edge. New York: iUniverse, 2009.

Scott Davan is the man with everything: he is a partner in his father’s successful architectural firm, has a supportive wife and three loving sons, and at thirty-seven, is still in peak physical condition. Poised to run for state senator, he is Charlotte, North Carolina’s golden boy in every way. There’s no reason for him not to be happy…but he isn’t. Randall Davan is a controlling man who refuses to relinquish his hold on both his son and the business, and in reality, Scott’s relationship with his wife Paula has been cold and distant for years. When the senior Davan hires Scott an assistant without his knowledge, it’s the last straw, but not in the way he thinks. Instead of plunging Scott deeper into his father’s stifling grasp, Neil Phelan will free him.

Because Neil turns out to be just what Scott needs: he’s an excellent architect, a competitive jogging partner, and incredibly easy to talk with, not to mention handsome. There is an undeniable connection, and the two men fall for one another instantly. Neil has identified as gay for some years, always struggling with the fact. Scott has denied that he is anything but heterosexual for his entire life, and must now embark on an inner journey to find his true self. The outside world is little help. The Davans have always held conservative views on certain topics, homosexual relationships included. When Paula and Randall are faced with Scott’s self-discovery, a painfully difficult time ensues for all involved, especially the children.

H. Leigh Aubrey, a pen name for an author who has written over forty romances for straight audiences, has tackled some of the most charged issues in his first novel for “romantic gay men.” He fits a great deal into 288 pages, but the result is a combination of many different types of love: romantic, sexual, familial, and most importantly, the love and acceptance of oneself. Romance readers everywhere will enjoy Neil and Scott’s budding relationship, and applaud their courage in the face of so many trials.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Aubrey, H. Leigh, Mecklenburg, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship

John Hart. Iron House. New York, NY: Thomas Dunne Books, 2011.

Michael knows how to kill, possibly better than anyone else alive. He dispatches his victims without emotion or drama, a virtue that makes him nearly invisible in New York City. He is the Old Man’s silent, deadly shadow. But before New York and the Old Man, there was Iron House.

A lifetime ago, he was a small but strong boy who protected his weaker, younger brother Julian at the Iron House Home for Boys in the Smoky Mountains. But one day something horrible happened, and 10-year-old Michael became a fugitive, fleeing into the snowy wilds of a North Carolina winter. He never saw his brother again, and just as he ran from Iron House, Michael also runs from his past. He is content to kill the dishonest and criminal, to be the Old Man’s strong right arm, to leave the boy he once was at Iron Mountain…until he meets Elena.

Carmen Elena Del Portal is more than just a woman; Michael suddenly finds that she is his whole life. When she finds herself pregnant, he knows he has to start over one more time. But the New York underworld won’t give him up so easily. The Old Man may wish for Michael to find a good life with a wonderful woman, but his henchmen are a different story. In no time Michael is on the run again, back to North Carolina and the brother whose existence he tried to protect by denying it. But if he thinks that life is simpler outside the Big Apple, he’s wrong. Dead wrong.

John Hart writes lovely prose, filled with a complicated cast of mobsters, lost boys, corrupt politicians, beautiful but mysterious ladies, and witches. Iron House looms over it all, a stark presence of which Michael, for all his running, may never be free. For an immensely entertaining, complex thriller, try Iron House!

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Buncombe, Chatham, Hart, John, Madison, Mountains, Piedmont, Suspense/Thriller

Therese Fowler. Exposure. New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 2011.

Therese Fowler’s powerful novel, based loosely on the real-life experiences of one of her children, reminds us of the horrifying way that a community can lose its head. The story begins simply: Amelia Wilkes and Anthony Winter are in love. She is 17, he is 18, and together they have built a fairytale world of their entwined dreams. Together they will attend NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, living together in an apartment in New York City, and starring together on Broadway. Always together. But Amelia’s father, Harlan Wilkes, has different plans. Having clawed his way from the very bottom of life to the very top, he is as determined as any loving father would be to see that his precious baby, his little girl, never has to experience the poverty and deprivation that was once his lot. She will attend Duke University, only a few miles from the Wilkes’ Raleigh mansion, where she will major in something financially sound. One day, far off in the future, she will marry a wealthy, charming husband who will take care of her for the rest of her life.

Then, in a moment, that vision shatters when he finds nude photographs of an unknown young man on her computer.

What follows is a tragedy, and very nearly worse, in the most heart-stopping of ways. With a deft hand and the voice of personal experience, Fowler explores the depth of emotion and consequences that occur when two teenagers are publicly criminalized nearly beyond recognition. This novel does, and should, provoke conversations about the abuse of justice, the power of fear, and the difficulty of allowing a child to become an adult in a society that is both predatory and cruel. Therese Fowler’s novel suggests that, while placing trust in an adolescent to choose rightly is terrifying, withholding that trust can be more damaging than we think.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Fowler, Therese, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship, Wake