Tag Archives: University of North Carolina

K.A. Linde. On the Record. Seattle, WA: Montlake Romance, 2014.

ontherecord“…Congressman Maxwell, I want you to make a comment on Sandy Carmichael actually being the fake identity of Liz Dougherty.”

At a newspaper party on Election Day is when Liz Dougherty decides it is finally time to move past her secret summer affair. State Senator Brady Maxwell has won the race for North Carolina Fourth District Congressional seat and will soon be moving to D.C. to take up the position. Liz has not heard from Brady since she walked out on the night of his primary victory over two months ago. It is time for Liz to stop thinking about Brady Maxwell and start dating Hayden Lane, her editor at the University of North Carolina’s newspaper.

The relationship with Hayden is exactly what Liz needs. The two don’t argue, they share a passion, and everything is out in the open; there’s no hiding what they are to one another. But, Liz can’t escape Brady. He’s all over the news along with his new girlfriend. If that wasn’t bad enough, his little sister Savannah works at the newspaper and is a constant reminder of Brady, especially since Liz and Savannah have become close friends.

When Brady shows up at a research colloquium that Liz helped her advisor, Professor Mires, put together and Savannah offers to introduce her, Liz doesn’t know what to do. That same day Savannah invites her to dinner and Liz finds herself across from Brady and his girlfriend at the dinner table. These interactions push Liz to focus even more on putting Brady out of her mind and focusing on Hayden and her future career. Everything is going well: Liz is finally able to tell Hayden she loves him, Professor Mires is helping Liz to gain the connections needed in order to get a great job after graduation, and now that Hayden has graduated, Liz is the new editor of the University of North Carolina’s newspaper.

But, when Liz and Hayden have their first big argument, Liz finds herself back in Brady’s arms. Will Liz be able to walk away a second time? Will Brady let her? All of the secrets are too much for Liz to bear and she has to tell someone. Who will it be–and is this someone Liz can trust to keep her secret?

On the Record is the second book in the Record series. The first novel of the series, Off the Record, tells how Liz, using the pseudonym of Sandy Carmichael, began her affair with Brady. It ended in a cliffhanger that left readers wanting more. This continuation of the tale does not disappoint and will have readers looking forward to the release of the last book in the series later this fall.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Linde, K.A., Novels in Series, Orange, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship

Auburn Seal. Roanoke Vanishing. United States: CreateSpace, 2013.

vanishing The fate of the English colonists on Roanoke Island has puzzled North Carolinians and scholars for centuries.  Did the colonist die of disease?  Did they starve during a harsh winter?  Were they killed?  Did they migrate inland and become absorbed into a Native American community?

With no conclusive evidence, theories have dominated discussions of the Lost Colony.  Avery Lane, the heroine of Roanoke Vanishing, has long been bothered by the theory that Native Americans killed the colonists.  To Avery, this unproven speculation has been used as a justification for unfair treatment of Native Americans in this state.  Avery, a grad student in history at UNC-Chapel Hill, wants to take a new approach to the topic by focusing on who the colonists were and what their lives were like before they made the long sea voyage from England to the New World.  Could it be that their lives in England hold the key to their eventual fate?

Avery’s thesis adviser, Jonas Allen, is a specialist on the English settlement of America, so Avery expects him to endorse her thesis proposal.  She is stunned when he angrily refuses to do so.  Professor Allen’s outburst is just the first of several unsettling, even dangerous, encounters that Avery has as she pursues her research.  Avery is followed, her house is broken into, and  her best friend is put in peril.  Avery comes to see that she must heed the words of the ghost Elinor (yes, that Elinor) and trust no one as she pursues the truth about the Lost Colony.

Roanoke Vanishing is the first novel in the author’s Vanishing Series.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coast, Dare, Historical, Mystery, Novels in Series, Orange, Piedmont, Seal, Auburn

Elizabeth Janet Gray. Jane Hope. New York: Viking Press, 1933.

All her short life Jane Hope Kenard has heard about Chapel Hill, the Southern town where her mother grew up.  Now she is going to live there.  After her father’s death and the complicated problems with his estate, at last Jane Hope and her mother and siblings are moving from Philadelphia to live with her paternal grandparents in North Carolina. Jane Hope thinks she is off to a world of magnolias, persimmons, jasmine, and figs–and a great college that she hopes to attend.  Jane Hope will find Chapel Hill not the enchanted land of her dreams–the great college is just for boys and slavery is not the benign institution she’s been told it is–but she manages to find her way in this new world.  Jane learns to overcome her shyness, check her rashness, and open her heart to not just her grandparents, but her mother’s new husband too.  Although the novel depicts Chapel Hill on the eve of the Civil War, the novel is about the person–Jane Hope–more than the place.  Readers see a romantic, impetuous, tomboy grow into a kind, level-headed young woman.

The author lived in Chapel Hill during the 1930s  where she would have had easy access to the standard published sources about the university and the town and would have heard stories about Chapel Hill life “before the War”. Many readers have enjoyed this novel for its depiction of Chapel Hill places and people.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 1930-1939, 1933, Children & Young Adults, Orange, Piedmont, Vining, Elizabeth Gray

K. A. Linde. Off the Record. Seattle, WA: Montlake Romance, 2014.

OfftheRecord“In an endless sea of overindulgence, find time to indulge in something worthwhile…”

On her first big assignment for the University of North Carolina’s newspaper, Liz Dougherty isn’t even expecting to get a question in to State Senator Brady Maxwell. When she does, she asks a question that gets her noticed by her editor, big time reporters, and even the senator himself. Later that night, a guy sends Liz a drink and she investigates who it was. Liz finds herself one-on-one with the senator! Senator Maxwell may be charismatic, but Liz strongly disagrees with his politics and writes about this in her article. However, this doesn’t keep her from using the business card he gave her. Soon the two are engaged in a hot and heavy romance that must stay hidden. The senator is a single man, yet voters might not agree with his dating a reporter, especially one whose articles so passionately express her distaste for his political views. With his announcement that he is running for the United States House of Representatives, Brady Maxwell can’t afford to lose the approval of any of his voters at this time. Liz’s career is at stake too, as an affair with a politician could ruin her journalistic ambitions.

Nevertheless, the two throw caution to the wind and indulge their desires. Brady makes it abundantly clear what his choice will be if he has to decide between the campaign and Liz. Both are sure that they can keep emotion out of the equation. But, when things start to heat up and emotions run high, will Liz find herself in love alone? If their secret is discovered will Brady be able to casually toss their relationship aside?

Off the Record is the first book in the Record Series. The tale ends in a cliffhanger that will have readers wishing for the release of the second book later this summer.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Linde, K.A., Novels in Series, Orange, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship

Larry Rochelle. Back to the Rat. Chapel Hill: Larry Rochelle, 2013.

Back to the Rat has a ripped-from-the-headlines feel: an athletic scandal is tarnishing UNC’s reputation and an NCAA investigation of it is itself a questionable endeavor; shadowy figures who may or may not work for the government drug and kidnap the hero; and locals who hope that a beloved Chapel Hill landmark may be resurrected.  Palmer Morel, a forty-something tennis pro is in the midst of all this.

Palmer lives just south of Chapel Hill and as his tennis fortunes have waned, he’s picked up a dubious second career as a bag man for a local mobster, Chucky Minori. He needs the money, but he needs something more too.  At the suggestion of a friend who notices his down mood, Palmer visits The Body Shop, a Carrboro dance therapy center.  There Palmer encounters Pris Price, who he fantasizes could cure all his ills.  Pris both rebuffs and bewitches him, drawing him into danger and an immense conspiracy.

Readers who know the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area will enjoy Mr. Rochelle’s use of local landmarks as the settings for many key scenes.  And Palmer’s confidant and caper partner, the columnist “Barry Cinders”, will bring to mind a certain News & Observer columnist.  But one need not be steeped in local lore to enjoy Back to the Rat.

Back to the Rat is fourteenth Palmer Morel thriller. Morel’s adventures have taken him across the United States, from Kansas City to Biloxi, to Chapel Hill and points in between.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Novels in Series, Orange, Piedmont, Rochelle, Larry, Suspense/Thriller

Lights, Camera, Novel: James Patterson’s Kiss the Girls.

Kiss the Girls Movie PosterJames Patterson’s Alex Cross series was perfectly timed for moviegoers of the nineties who were primed for psychological thrillers after a number of popular hits. Reviewers drew comparisons between Kiss the Girls and other releases like Silence of the Lambs and Se7en. However, the comparisons between the films were not entirely favorable. Kiss the Girls starred Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd, whose career was just beginning to accelerate.

The novel follows forensic psychologist Alex Cross as he learns that his niece Naomi, a law student at Duke, was kidnapped by a lascivious serial killer who masquerades under the pseudonym, Casanova. Cross abandons DC for Durham. His emotions are high and he is focused on finding Naomi before it’s too late. Meanwhile, medical intern Kate McTiernan is Casanova’s latest victim, but not for long. McTiernan manages to escape, which makes her the anomalous sole survivor. She and Cross team up to uncover Casanova’s true identity and rescue the other victims still languishing in Casanova’s “harem.”

Kiss the Girls is Patterson’s only novel that features a North Carolina setting. But Patterson layered plenty of authenticating detail in his book to evoke the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area. Filming locations for the movie adaptation were largely limited to Durham, and of course, Los Angeles. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill did not to approve the film’s request to use the university’s campus during shooting.

In the past, the University has a mixed record of accepting some requests to film on campus, but rejecting others. According to a Daily Tarheel article from 2001, UNC’s major ruling factor is maintaining the University’s image. The University also considers how the project might provide opportunities or disruptions to campus life. Ultimately, the University decided against Kiss the Girls due to its graphic content. Chapel Hill officials did not consent to give the producers permission to shut down Franklin Street for filming.

Although Kiss the Girls is second in the Cross series it was adapted first. Along Came a Spider, the first novel in the series, was a follow-up in 2001. While Kiss the Girls performed well at the box office, critics panned the film for pacing issues and a lack of uniqueness. Both Freeman and Judd were commended for their performances however. In 2012, Tyler Perry starred in an Alex Cross reboot. There are plans for a sequel reportedly.

The clip below, from Movie Clips, shows a scene following Kate’s escape where she delivers a statement to the press:

The movie version is a bit more solemn than the novel. In the book, Kate’s introductory remarks are self-deprecating and elicit a few smiles. More or less, the monologues match up.  But both versions represent Kate as a strong and intelligent character, in spite of her ordeal.

Patterson’s novel is available through the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog. There are copies at Davis Library and Wilson Library. The film adaptation is available through the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog as well. Copies can be found at the Media Resources Center in the Undergraduate Library and Wilson Library. The original blog post for the novel is here.

Sources consulted here: The Baltimore Sun, The Daily Tarheel (two different articles), Film Journal InternationalIMDb, Movie Clips, The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Roger Ebert, The Washington Post (two different reviews), Wikipedia

Leave a Comment

Filed under 1990-1999, 1997, Durham, Orange, Patterson, James, Piedmont, Suspense/Thriller

William Conescu. Kara Was Here. Berkeley, CA: Soft Skull Press, 2013.

Kara Was HereLife after college doesn’t always go exactly as planned. Brad Mitchell had rainbow-hued hair and hoped to find serious employment as an actor. He was cast in a few area productions and commercials, but nothing that amounted to a real paycheck. So his part-time gig as a realtor went full-time. His wife’s pregnancy and recent vision problems make Brad feel well into his mid-thirties. Margot Cominsky has shed her racy image as “Cougar Cominsky,” seductress of the football team. Instead, she’s packed on some extra weight, probably a result of her booming muffin business. Her love life is unsteady and her current long-distance relationship is steering through choppy waters. Kara Tinsley, Brad’s college girlfriend and Margot’s college friend, moved to New York City to chase after her dreams of becoming an actress. She abandoned Brad back in North Carolina without much of a second look back. Unfortunately, Kara never managed to make a name for herself on Broadway. And now she’s dead.

Kara’s old college friends and family have gathered to mourn her sudden death. Reportedly, Kara died of an overdose. Not a complete shock since to the very end,  she refused to sacrifice her wild nature. Her friends remember Kara’s untamable, spitfire personality and irreverent sense of humor. At the funeral, Brad and Margot are surprised to see each other so different from their college years. They’re even more surprised to meet Steve, Kara’s secret fiancé. Steve (or “Mullet” as Kara called him) was Kara’s last roommate. Margot recalls that Kara didn’t have a single nice word for Mullet the entire time they lived together. So she doubts that Mullet, a hulky, forty-seven year-old loser, and Kara were ever in a serious relationship.

Brad reaches out to Kara’s younger sister, Gwen, who is eighteen and on the cusp of college, freedom, and young adulthood. He offers her a number to call for a little extra support or advice. Gwen ventures to New York for a special summer arts program. She had planned to spend the summer bonding with Kara. Despite Kara’s absence, Gwen decides to attend. During Kara’s funeral though, things turn slightly strange.  Both Brad and Gwen see an apparition of Kara, who lectures them and teases them with her usual spunk. Just as Gwen enters Kara’s old haunts and associates with her sister’s former paramours, Margot drags Brad into her suspicions that Kara was murdered.

A University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and NC State graduate, William Conescu, writes a psychological portrait of three college friends and their relatives and significant others. Brad’s double vision seems to represent the central aspect of the novel: aging and its effects on identity. Conescu’s characters, Brad and Margot in particular, are split in their identities, stuck between their former teenage and twenty-something self and the passage into their new thirty-something self. Gwen endures a similar entrance into young adulthood. Kara’s death brings Brad and Margot, and even Gwen, into a state of unnerving self-evaluation. But they soon realize that not only was Kara not exactly the person they thought her to be, neither are they.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Conescu, William, Mystery, Orange, Piedmont, Suspense/Thriller

Wilton Barnhardt. Lookaway, Lookaway. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2013

**Guest review by Arleen Fields**

 At the beginning of our new century, shrewd Charlotte socialite Jerene Johnston is willing to do whatever it takes to protect her family’s reputation and to secure her children’s future. Her radical daughter Annie, her gay son Josh, her preacher son Bo, and her insecure daughter Jerilyn don’t make this easy. The Johnston family proudly traces its lineage to Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston, and Jerene’s husband Duke has abandoned all professional and political aspirations, preferring to reside in a world of nostalgia and Civil War reenactments.

Each chapter, focusing on one character’s story, is like a portrait hung in a gallery. In some of the paintings the character is front and center; in others the subject blends into the background as action takes over the foreground. The chapter about Bo provides insight into his character, but the scene of a melodramatic Christmas dinner is far more memorable.

Jerene’s children and husband are not her only worries. Her alcoholic brother Gaston makes his living writing popular Civil War novels, her sister Dillard has never recovered from a personal tragedy, and their mother Jeannette lives with the knowledge that she failed to protect her children. Add to the mix Josh’s best friend Dorrie, who’s African American and a lesbian, and Bo’s wife Kate who longs to return to the Peace Corps, and you have the perfect southern tragicomedy.

The title obviously refers to the song “Dixie” and there are other allusions as well. Characters are forced to look the other way when reality is inconvenient. Watching the events unfold is like driving by a gruesome car wreck or watching a reality TV show—we should mind our own business, but morbid curiosity prevents us from averting our gaze.

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

For an interview with Wilton Barnhardt, see http://www.alumniblog.ncsu.edu/2013/07/23/wilton-barnhardt-im-nervous-about-being-in-any-camp/

A previous version of this review appears in North Carolina Libraries, vol. 71, no. 1 (2013)

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Barnhardt, Wilton, Mecklenburg, Orange, Piedmont

Jon Correll. The Sparks Fly Upward. Portland, OR: Inkwater Press, 2013.

The Sparks Fly Upward“It seemed only right and natural that the rhythms of Nathan’s life were tied so inexorably to the land and the seasons. He could not fathom people who lived days that were carbon copies of the previous one, no matter the place or the season. They were people without root in the soil, carried along by the distractions of the modern world. He was born a generation or two too late, and he was making the best of it.”

Nathan Miller and his family live in Idlewild, a tiny hamlet nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The rest of the Miller family consists of his younger sister Ally, his parents, Jean and Bill, and his grandparents, Emma and Clyde, otherwise known as “Mom” and “Dad.” The Millers’ devotion to their ancestral homeland is palpable, and they are clannish in their tight-knit family unit. Although Nate’s parents work at Appalachian State University in nearby Boone, it is clear that they see their income from the outside world as a necessary means to make life in Idlewild more comfortable. “Mom” and “Dad” are traditional farming folk and they keep the Miller home functioning using their mountain wisdom and almost clairvoyant perceptions.

Nathan is the central figure of the novel and he is faced with the challenge of leaving Idlewild to attend college at Chapel Hill during the turbulent 1970s. The Sparks Fly Upward focuses upon Nathan’s transition between the two locations. The first half of the story moves at a languid pace, dense with details of Nathan’s relation to the natural world and populated by a motley assembly of several minor characters who convey the atmosphere of small-town life. Novelist Jon Correll presents a clear delineation between the good and the evil in Idlewild, which has its share of heroes, good citizens, town off-casts, and bullies. Nathan relates to such a defined sense of right and wrong, saying “where I was raised, there was right and wrong, pure and simple, and you stuck to that code no matter what.” He is a character deeply shaped by faith and morality. His adherence to a rigid internal code of morals causes occasional flares of temper though. Early in the novel, when a bully picks an unfair fight with a weaker student, Nathan intercedes and strikes out against the bully. Despite his usually well-meant motivation, Nathan’s temper and quick action inevitably lead him to trouble.

Over the course of the novel, Nathan’s black-and-white way of thought becomes clouded gray. Before he sets off to Chapel Hill, he finds himself tested in his new relationship with Becky Jenkins who is about to relocate from Idlewild to Wake Forest. Nathan wants to stifle his attraction to Becky to maintain a respectable relationship, just as he plans to not succumb to the heady temptations of college life. Upon Nathan’s arrival at UNC, he is faced immediately with all the requisites of a wild undergraduate experience — drugs, alcohol, and sex. His roommate Gus, a slightly grizzled Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam, is a willing partner in these decadent escapades. He’s the first to offer Nathan a joint. And his recollections of the war deliver an ambiguous statement on a neatly wrapped dichotomy of good and evil. Still, when Nathan realizes how quickly he has strayed from his beliefs, he endeavors to return to his original path. Although Nathan’s path turns out to be less simple and straightforward than he anticipated, one thing is for certain: the ultimate destination is Idlewild.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Ashe, Correll, Jon, Mountains, Orange, Piedmont

H. Leigh Aubrey. Never Say Never United States: H. Leigh Aubrey, 2011.

never

The most important man in Brian Marano’s life has always been his father.  Brian’s parents divorced when he was young and since then his father’s visits have been precious and few.  In high school Brian hopes that his athletic achievements will get his father’s attention.  They do get the attention of faculty, administrators, and other students at his Charlotte, North Carolina high school. Because he is a good athlete and a good kid, a teacher finds Brian a peer tutor to help him with the subjects that he struggles with.

That tutor is Jason Ratcliffe, a student from a well-to-do, socially prominent family.  Jason is a bit of a nerd, but well dressed and not unattractive.  Brian is uncomfortable being tutored in the opulent home in which Jason lives.  Jason is uncomfortable too, but for a different reason–he’s attracted to Brian and before long Brian is the most important man in his life.

Never Say Never follows Brian and Jason from high school, to college at UNC, to the early years of their careers.  Their friendship grows as they share the challenges of young adult life and as they come to terms, at different times and in different ways, with their love for each other.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Aubrey, H. Leigh, Mecklenburg, Orange, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship