Tag Archives: Summer

Jennifer Lohmann. Weekends in Carolina. Don Mills, Ontario: Harlequin, 2014.

weekendsincarolinaFollowing the death of his father, Hank, Trey Harris is left with the family farm located in Durham, North Carolina. He never expected his father to overcome his prejudices and leave the farm to Trey’s gay brother, Kelly, but Trey had hoped their father would sell the farm before he keeled over and forced this burden upon Trey. Planning to sell the farm to the highest bidder, Trey is stunned to discover that his father’s farmer, Max Backstrom, is actually a woman. Soon Trey can’t keep his mind off of what it would be like to kiss Max. How can he want to start something with this woman who can’t separate herself from the farm–the same farm that Trey did everything he could to escape from? Trey has a great job in D.C. with no reason to ever come back to North Carolina. Well, no reason until gay marriage becomes legal and Kelly gets hitched. Then again, who knows if that will ever happen. Continuing to be Max’s landlord would force Trey to visit North Carolina, and the temptation to get involved with this lovely tenant would only grow stronger. This is something Trey just can’t risk.

Maxine “Max” Backstrom grew up on a big farm in Illinois, but Max has always been one for the small farm life. So, after her parents got divorced and her mom moved to Asheville, North Carolina, Max found an ad for a farmer in Durham and packed up her bags. Max had a three-year lease agreement with Hank Harris detailing that she would buy the farm after these three years were up. When Hank dies before the three years are over, the problem is that the agreement was a spoken one and Max doesn’t know if Hank ever put it down on paper. Faced with Hank’s son Trey, who has always hated the farm and just wants to get rid of it, Max is unsure if she’ll even have a farm to work next year. Max either can use all of her savings to buy the farm, or let Trey sell to a developer. If she doesn’t buy, Max will have to start the search for a new farm and lose all of her crops. If she buys the farm and then a tractor breaks down or it’s a bad crop year, Max won’t have any funds to fall back on. All of this, coupled with the fact that she’s discovering that Trey Harris is a man she could fall in love with, might be the undoing of Max’s well-laid plans.

Trey Harris is a country boy who just wants to get lost in the city life. Max Backstrom is a farmer who knows taking risks can lead to losing it all. When their lives become intertwined, both recognize the passion between them waiting to be ignited. Is Max willing to take the risk on buying the farm and/or on a relationship with Trey? Will Trey be able to embrace his down-home roots?

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Durham, Lohmann, Jenifer, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship

Tessa Emily Hall. Purple Moon. Raleigh, NC: Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, 2013.

    “…withpurple moonout the dark, we’d never see the stars. There also would be no use for the moon if there was never a night.”

Selena Taylor’s life has been pretty dark since the day her father kicked her and her mother out of his life. She can’t understand how he could go from being her best friend to not wanting anything to do with her. Eight years later, Selena’s dark night may just turn into the starlit fairy tale she’s always dreamed of. Moving in with her aunt’s family in Lake Lure, North Carolina is not what Selena planned to do this summer, but it might be exactly what she and her mother need.

Ever since they were kicked out, Selena has been taking care of her mom. But now an agreement has been made between the two: mom will go to rehab and Selena will stop smoking and drinking. Actually, Lake Lure isn’t looking too bad to Selena. She runs into someone she knew from when she was a kid, Austin Brewer, and he’s not such a nerd anymore, at least not to her. Austin and his sister Audrey soon talk Selena into joining in their church group activities. Of course she’s a little wary of church after how her hypocritical father, a preacher, behaved. Nevertheless, she goes with them and is soon having the time of her life with her new friends. Selena even begins to believe in God again. Now, if only she could avoid her cousin Whitney, then things might really start to look up.

When Whitney breaks up with her boyfriend, Richard, and he turns his attention to her, Selena thinks life can’t get much better. However, she’s breaking her promise to her mother as well as skipping out on the church skit that she agreed to do with her friends. Also, what about her feelings for Austin? In the end, will Selena be able to find the purple moon in the darkness of her life?

Purple Moon is Tessa Emily Hall’s first novel. The author wanted to write Christian fiction that would appeal to teenagers. She succeeded. Both Christian teens and those struggling with Christianity will be able to connect with Selena’s story–the struggle to run away or to trust in a being unseen.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Children & Young Adults, Hall, Tessa Emily, Mountains, Religious/Inspirational, Romance/Relationship, Rutherford

Lisa Ann Scott. School of Charm. New York: Katherine Tegen Books, 2014.

school of charmEleven-year-old Brenda Anderson, better known as Chip, has always been a daddy’s girl. After Daddy dies, Chip, her mom and two sisters must move down south to their grandmother’s house in Mount Airy, North Carolina. When her grandmother greets the group in high heels and pearls, Chip just knows she doesn’t fit in with this family of Southern belles. Grandmother Nancy was Miss North Carolina in 1939 and Chip’s mother was runner-up in 1961. Though Chip’s sisters, Charlene and Ruthie weren’t born in the South, the two are budding Southern belles themselves. They will both enter the Miss Dogwood 1977 pageant in the Miss and Little Miss divisions respectively.

Preferring to climb trees, work in the garden and save animals, Chip believes that she has nothing in common with her family. While out exploring the area, in order to escape from all the pageant plans in the house, Chip sees a sign for Miss Vernie’s School of Charm. She ventures in to discover whether this charm school is for magic or for beauty. Miss Vernie gives a confusing answer, but Chip decides to join anyway. Having been given a charm bracelet that must be worn at all times, Chip starts to think that she’s come to the wrong place for her.

However, Chip reconsiders when she meets her classmates, Dana and Karen, and they all get to work cleaning bird feeders. Dana and Karen are at the school because they are entering the Miss Dogwood pageant. Constantly clashing with her grandmother leads Chip to consider entering the pageant herself, in order to become a brand-new Brenda who does fit in with her family. But, telling her family that she’s joined the pageant only gets her laughed at. Will brand-new Brenda be able to show her family that she is one of them? Which Anderson sister will bring home a crown? And is there hope for peace between nature-loving tomboy Chip and her pageant loving, bird-killing grandmother Nancy?

School of Charm is a young adult novel. But, this tale of a young daddy’s girl who has just lost her father and must now relearn how she fits into the family will touch the heart of any reader, whether younger or older.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Children & Young Adults, Mountains, Scott, Lisa Ann, Surry

R. E. Bradshaw. Out on the Sound. 2nd ed. Oklahoma?: R. E. Bradshaw Books, 2012.

outonthesound“First, there was a touch, not much of a touch, just a simple brush of skin on skin.”

Thirty-seven year old Decky Bradshaw has spent most of her life in Currituck County and has had a pretty great life up to this point.  She has a job doing what she loves, which has paid well enough for her to live very comfortably, and she’s in great health. Except for her brief marriage to the father of her child, Decky’s life has been a smooth ride. This all changes with a single touch on the softball field. In the past, Decky has been a love ‘em-and-leave ‘em kind of gal. Not breaking any hearts, because a Southern lady knows better, but having relationships where both parties know it isn’t going to last long. But Decky knew when someone special came along, she would be ready to hold on tight. She just didn’t expect that someone special to be a woman.

Charlie Warren is the new math teacher in town. After a mutual friend formally introduces the two, Decky and Charlie become practically inseparable. Dating a woman is something completely new to Decky, but she’s sure she can handle it. The question is whether Decky’s mother, Lizzie, and the rest of the town can. And will Decky be able to handle what the bipolar Lizzie and a small Southern town dish out in reaction to Decky coming out? Will Charlie and Decky’s newly found relationship be able to survive the challenges to come?

Out on the Sound was originally published in 2010, without the use of a professional editor. It was the author’s first novel. This second edition is a reissue of the original work with input from an editor. The author made a “conscious effort” not to change the books. It remains a wonderful tale of two women finding each other.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Bradshaw, R. E., Coast, Currituck, Romance/Relationship

Laura S. & William L. B. Wharton. The Mermaid’s Tale. Mt. Airy, NC: Broad Creek Press, 2014.

themermaid'stale“No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit” ~ Helen Keller

Jock Avery is back, along with his new friends Lynna and Chip Woodward. During their first summer together, the trio solved the mystery of Monsters Below Longleaf Lake in Moore County, North Carolina. Now there is a new mystery to discover. Seven-year old Chip, from his dock, has spotted a mermaid in the lake while Lynna and Jock are having a sailboat race. Lynna’s boat almost hit her! Although he suspects that they will never believe him, Chip still can’t help but to tell his friends what he’s seen. Jock quickly expresses his disbelief but is silenced by Lynna who defends her brother. This calls for an investigation!

The trio decide to search the lake using a grid pattern just like underwater archeologists. They draw out a grid in order to mark every spot they search and what they find there. The mermaid quest brings up some problems like their inability to dive but so deep. Soon, there is a discussion of deep sea divers and scuba tanks. Lynna and Jock have a contest to see who can hold their breath the longest underwater while Lynna and Chip’s mom times the two. Lynna wins! This leads Jock to want to join the swim team in order to improve his underwater breathing.

The search for the mermaid continues full force when Jock catches a glimpse of her at night–he no longer doubts Chip’s claim. However, will the grownups ever believe? Will the trio be able to find the mermaid in the lake? Jock turns to his favorite adventurer, Sam Justice, and his underwater adventures for inspiration on how to look for the mermaid. While the kids have a mission, the adults are planning an adventure of their own. The parents have been invited to a grand opening event and everyone is going. What surprise could be waiting for Jock, Chip, and Lynna at the event?

Co-authored by novelist Laura S. Wharton and her son William, The Mermaid’s Tale is the second book in the Mystery at the Lake House Series. This chapter book is intended for children aged 9-12; it includes lots of information on swimming, diving, fishing, and the importance of taking care of our water environments. Also included are instructions on how to build an underwater viewer, used by Chip in the book, and two interviews: one with the mermaid and one with William. This book encourages kids to believe in themselves and not be so quick to doubt others.  This is a book that kids will find enjoyable as well as informative.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Children & Young Adults, Moore, Mystery, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Wharton, Laura S., Wharton, William L. B.

Bennett Madison. September Girls. New York: HarperTeen, 2013.

September GirlsSeventeen-year old Sam isn’t excited by his dad’s resolution to spend the summer at a quiet little beach town on the Outer Banks, but he isn’t surprised by the scheme either. Earlier that winter Sam’s mother dropped all her responsibilities and abandoned her husband and her son to spend time at Women’s Land, which the book implies is something of a feminist commune. Prior to her departure, Sam’s mother, a “frumpy kindergarten teacher,” adopted radical feminist tenants, like the SCUM Manifesto, so the act is something of personal (or self-satisfying) liberation for her.

Sam’s dad has dealt with the change by throwing himself into hobbies from yoga to knitting to cooking. Sam jokes “if there was a tear-off sheet on a bulletin board in Starbucks he was willing to give it a try.” So his latest idea to relocate temporarily to the Outer Banks is one of many distractions from the reality of his wife’s abandonment. Jeff, Sam’s brother, has returned from college recently and helps somewhat to plug the hole left by their mother. With Jeff and Sam in tow, their father packs everything up and heads for the beach, even before Sam’s school year ends.

After several months of dealing with his fragile father and pressure from his friends–and now Jeff– to “man up” and “get laid,” Sam wants to escape. He is troubled by ideas of love and manhood. The men in his life don’t exactly provide a shining paragon of masculinity. But soon Sam’s attention is diverted by another presence on at the beach, the Girls. They are blonde and beautiful and, to Sam, interchangeable. Sam watches them working menial summer jobs around town, taking cigarette breaks, flipping through magazines, lying on the beach. Yet the strangest part is not that the Girls are everywhere, but that they are all interested in Sam. They eye him with a lustful hunger.

Sam is befuddled that the Girls notice him rather than his hunky brother, or any other hunky guy around the town for that matter. He is scrawny and awkward, hardly a chick magnet. Then he meets one of the Girls, DeeDee. Normally they travel in pairs, but DeeDee seems different from the rest of the Girls. She and Sam bond, and he feels genuine affection for her. But she hesitates. There is a mystery of an otherworldly nature surrounding her and the rest of the Girls. When Sam learns the truth behind the secret, it alters his relationship with DeeDee irreparably.

Novelist Bennett Madison captures pitch-perfect the crude exchanges between Sam, Jeff, and their father, and Sam’s constant cynicism sounds like a teenager attempting jaded and world-weary angst. Madison structures the novel traditionally and from Sam’s perspective with numbered chapters, but he weaves in parallel chapters from the Girls with named chapters. The interspersed chapters from the Girls read like an echo and function similarly to a Greek chorus, summarizing background information and responding to and supplementing the story’s action. These chapters also successfully bolster the mythic quality of the story. However, Madison maintains a clean balance between the fairy tale and the reality. Madison’s treatment of Sam and his story is based the development of a boy tripping around the edge of manhood and a confused family trying to mend life’s rips and holes.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Currituck, Dare, Hyde, Madison, Bennett

Lisa Williams Kline. Season of Change. Grand Rapids, MI: ZonderKidz, 2013.

Season of ChangeIn Season of Change, the fifth and final installment of the Sisters in All Seasons series, Diana and Stephanie have returned with new challenges. The stepsisters overhear fighting between their parents, Lynn and Norm, and Stephanie unwittingly finds a brochure advertising marriage counseling in their bathroom. While the thought of another divorce makes Stephanie distraught and anxious, Diana acts nonchalant and indifferent about the evidence of marital discord. She tells Stephanie not to worry about the conflict. In Diana’s experience, not fighting is much worse than fighting.

Soon after the girls suspect trouble, Norm and Lynn announce that they are taking a quick weekend vacation to reconnect and refresh their relationship. They have decided that Stephanie and Diana will stay for the weekend with Lynn’s parents who live on Lake Norman. Stephanie feels uncomfortable with that arrangement. She believes that her presence at Diana’s grandparents will be unwanted and out-of-place since she is their granddaughter through remarriage and not by blood. Her sensitivity is heightened because she is already nursing an open wound. Stephanie’s mother has been consistently unavailable when Stephanie has needed her the most, devoting her time to her new husband, Barry, instead of her daughter. The weekend of Norm and Lynn’s vacation, Stephanie’s mom has a trip to Asheville planned with Barry and she does not intend to cancel it for Stephanie. Meanwhile, Diana faces difficulties with her horse, Commanche, who has gone lame. She visits and cares for the horse, but she cannot ride him and is not certain when he will be well enough to ride again. Diana is also practicing driving, and not without some usual parental stress and novice mishaps.

Throughout the series, Stephanie and Diana’s relationship has been rocky. Neither girl felt they could understand the other; shy and nature-loving Diana and social and artistic Stephanie clashed at first. They each wanted to sever the relationship between Norm and Lynn. Now, with what looks to be another potential divorce, the girls are starting to question their initial desires and to understand that they have grown more attached to each other than they realized. Do they really want to be separated? What will happen when Norm and Lynn return from their weekend vacation? Novelist Lisa Kline has penned another absorbing book in her Sisters in All Seasons series. Diana and Stephanie are relatable characters, and their problems and adolescent milestones – divorce and family strife, boy trouble, summer jobs, driving, and more– are realistically portrayed. This is a great read for teen readers and readers fond of young adult novels to sneak in before the end of the summer.

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

To start at the beginning, take a look at the posts written on the previous volumes in the series:

  1. Summer of the Wolves
  2. Wild Horse Spring
  3. Blue Autumn
  4. Winter’s Tide

 

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Children & Young Adults, Kline, Lisa Williams, Novels in Series, Piedmont

Kathryn O’Sullivan. Foal Play. New York: Minotaur Books, 2013.

Foal PlayWho killed Myrtle Crepe? That’s the question lingering on the minds of the townspeople of Corolla. Not many people were fond of Myrtle. A retired schoolteacher and the despotic head of the Lighthouse Wild Horse Preservation Society, Myrtle was known for her terse and domineering manner. Myrtle made it difficult for anyone to like her. Even her son Bobby and her sole companion Nellie Byrd struggled to overlook her demanding attitude. But did someone hate Myrtle enough to want her dead?

Gruesome things have been turning up around Corolla lately. Immediately prior to Myrtle’s death, the burned body of a John Doe washed ashore. News of the murder entices Fire Chief Colleen McCabe into the beginning stages of the investigation despite well-meaning warnings for Colleen to mind her business from her best friend, Sheriff Bill Dorman. In the past, Colleen has demonstrated a tendency to conduct her own “unofficial” investigations without solicitation from the local police force.

With her tenacious Irish roots, Colleen is a tough protagonist, and definitely not one to be deterred from solving a mystery. She single-handedly whipped the firemen of Station 6 into shape and refused to tolerate any insubordination. Colleen is not afraid to go with her gut and get her hands dirty. With her trusty Border Collie, Sparky (who has a nose for sniffing out fire) alongside her, Colleen winds up at the center of all the action. Although she is in for a few bigger shocks than she could ever imagine.

Kathryn O’Sullivan is a first time novelist. With the offbeat characters, the coastal setting, and the wild horses, O’Sullivan emphasizes local color in Foal Play. She formulates many comedic encounters and interweaves them between more serious moments and surprising plot developments. Readers interested in mystery and and Outer Banks enthusiasts will enjoy this novel. Foal Play is a great read to get in the mood for summertime.

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

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coast, Currituck, Mystery, O'Sullivan, Kathryn

Stephen King. Joyland. London: Hard Case Crime, 2013.

JoylandJoyland is an amusement park in the business of selling fun – and that’s by the “seat-of-the-pants” fun not that “scripted” fun that Disney peddles to its customers, according to geriatric park owner, Bradley Easterbrook. Joyland has all the standard amusement park fare: rides, refreshments, a crackpot fortune-teller, a beloved mascot, and a haunted house. Except Joyland’s haunted house really is haunted. Or so twenty-one year-old Devin Jones is told. In the summer of 1969, Linda Gray spent the day at Joyland in the company of an unidentified male masked in sunglasses and a baseball cap with a bird tattoo on his hand. Later in the evening, the pair entered the Horror House together, only Linda never left. Linda’s companion slashed her throat and left her body inside, where it was discovered the next day. Four years later in 1973, the killer still roams free. Since the murder, employees have reported sightings of Linda’s ghost.

When Devin first hears the tale, he is more concerned with relaying it to his disinterested girlfriend Wendy Keegan than focusing on the lurid details. Wendy is the first thing on Devin’s mind and he is the furthest thing from hers. Devin eagerly fantasizes about his life with Wendy following their graduation from the University of New Hampshire. He dreams of a successful literary career and wedded bliss completed with a few kids running underfoot. His unquenched libido and earnest schoolboy devotion blind Devin from the fact that Wendy is slipping, or rather pushing, away from him. Wendy plans to work in Boston with a friend during the summer and she encourages Devin to take a job far away at Joyland in the small, fictional town of Heaven’s Bay, North Carolina. Their break-up is predictable, and Devin spends a good portion of his time ruminating on first love.

Then he becomes absorbed into the world of Joyland. He finds friends, “wears the fur,” learns the park lingo, and juggles a million menial tasks at once.  Howie the Happy Hound is Joyland’s mascot and all the Happy Helpers take turns in wearing the dog costume. During the summer, shifts are restricted to 15 minutes to prevent heatstroke. Devin, though, dons the suit repeatedly. Despite the discomfort, he discovers an unexpected enthusiasm for wearing the costume and exciting children at the park. Reflecting back on his time at Joyland, Devin muses that no job has satisfied him as deeply as dressing as Howie and dancing the Hokey Pokey.

Veteran novelist Stephen King establishes a convincing atmosphere in Joyland with his use of colorful carny slang. The book features a pulpy cover design and is marketed as a hardboiled crime novel, although Devin is an inadvertent sleuth rather than a jaded detective. Joyland is a bildungsroman meets murder mystery. King’s focus is less on the horror and gore and more on Devin’s maturation. Solving Linda Gray’s murder just falls on the laundry list of Devin’s pivotal summer of development. By deemphasizing the mystery aspect of the novel, Joyland becomes a more dimensional story and quite an exhilarating ride of a read.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coast, King, Stephen, Mystery, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Gail Godwin. Flora. New York: Bloomsbury, 2013.

FloraHelen Anstruther does not think highly of her Alabama relative, Flora. In Helen’s opinion, Flora is simple-minded and prone to regrettable emotional outbursts. At ten, Helen feels more mature than the unrefined, twenty-two year old Flora. Helen’s father Harry, an alcoholic and sharp-tongued high school principal, is no fonder of Flora than is his daughter. But after Nonie, Helen’s grandmother and primary parental figure, passes away Harry has a problem. He intends to spend the summer in Oak Ridge, Tennessee working on a top secret military project and needs someone to watch over Helen during his absence. Flora is his deceased wife’s cousin and his only viable choice left. Despite her perceived shortcomings, Harry asks Flora to spend the summer at their home in a fictional North Carolina mountain town during the close of World War II.

After a polio scare strikes the town, Flora and Helen remain shut away in the Anstruther house, Old One Thousand, which served previously as a convalescent home. The house is rich in material for Helen’s busy imagination. In fact, Helen’s curiosity often leads her into places she does not belong and to things that belong to others, like a series of letters exchanged between Nonie and Flora. Nonie and her father have raised Helen on a steady diet of sarcasm and disapproval. Helen finds fault after fault with Flora: her unflagging sincerity, her predilection for tears, her inability to drive. Fresh out of teachers’ college, Flora hopes to become a teacher, however her childlike nature and seeming dependence undercuts this ambition. Often Helen feels like the adult, guiding Flora and even helping her practice her skills by creating an imaginary classroom. Helen is a precocious child and has an acute awareness that Flora longs for her approval. Although Helen expresses contempt toward Flora, the two develop a fast friendship with their Irish grocery boy, Finn, that creates an uneasy triangle. By the end of the summer, those tense relationships reach a breaking point.

Godwin situates the novel from Helen’s perspective, as child and as adult. With the perspective of adult Helen, the book possesses an elegiac tone. The novel edges toward a coming-of-age story, except that the lessons come late to Helen, who mourns that as a child she missed the complexity of Flora’s true character. Godwin creates vivid yet realistic characters shaded through the eyes of Helen. She also depicts how children are influenced and shaped by their elders, for better or for worse.

This book, like many of Godwin’s novels, is set in Mountain City, which is widely thought to be modeled on the author’s hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. There are some instances of racist language and dialogue in the book.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Buncombe, Godwin, Gail, Mountains, Novels Set in Fictional Places