Category Archives: Johnston


N.W. “Red” Pope. The Sweet Potato Caper. Scottsdale, AZ: Five Points Publishing, 2009.

Benson, North Carolina, in the fall of 1959 may appear to be a typically sleepy, small Southern town, but that simplicity is deceiving. Sure, traditional mores still dictate interactions and stores close for the noontime meal (“dinner,” not “supper”). However, Benson becomes the center of excitement when a few outsiders kick up some dust.

The strangers who cause the ruckus arrive in Benson for different reasons. Jimmy, a gambler with a losing-streak and a demanding family, is in town to train for a banking job with the People’s State Bank. He drives to work from Raleigh with Woody, a likable fellow who begins dating a teller at the bank. One afternoon, they make the acquaintance of Tom Boney, aka T-Bone, an unsuccessful crop insurance salesman from Roanoke Rapids. His infidelity leads to divorce, and he is desperate for money. Woody makes an off-handed comment about how the positioning of the train – which divides Benson and blocks five major roads in town – would make robbing the bank easy. For the next few weeks, no one thinks anything else of his remark.

As Jimmy’s and T-Bone’s situations worsen, Jimmy decides to put Woody’s observation to the test. He gets T-Bone in on the plan, arranging for him to find two associates to help with the robbery. Although the burglary goes off without a hitch, the criminals leave damning clues that the FBI uses to catch two of the crooks; the other pair are off the hook to live luxuriously in Costa Rica.

And for Benson, this alarming episode signals a change in its once-trusting community – simply that “times ain’t like they used to be.”

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Coastal Plain, Johnston, Pope, N. W., Suspense/Thriller, Wake

Kim Reynolds. Alex Charles: The Evening Oak. Plymouth, MI: HMSI Publishing, 2010.

Alexandra “Alex” Charles is at a crossroads in her life. Over the past eighteen months, she has wished many times for her parents’ guidance. After both perished in a tragic car accident when she was just sixteen, Alex was left with no family. Having just graduated from high school, she wonders if college is the right next step. Alex is trying to enjoy a carefree summer when a man contacts her claiming to be her long lost uncle. Although Alex is apprehensive about meeting the stranger, she is enticed by the idea that she might not be completely alone. She decides to meet Joseph Graham.

Alex immediately likes her Uncle Joe, but she must learn to trust him. Joe has some (almost) unbelievable information about her heritage: her family has the ability to travel through time. They see themselves as special angels who can go back in history seven times throughout their lives to right wrongs. Although her parents chose to live a normal life, Joe wants Alex to know her options.

As she gets to know her sole family member through his own stories of time travel, Alex realizes that this is the direction for which she has been yearning. She lets Joe introduce her to the family business, which includes teaching her how to research an event in history that she would like to change (nothing too big or too personal, so she cannot save her parents), and allowing Alex to view his own first experience in 1865 Bentonville, North Carolina. With this knowledge, Alex must choose which life to live.

Alex Charles: The Evening Oak is the first book in the “Alex Charles Book Series.”

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

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Johnston, New Hanover, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Reynolds, Kim, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Wake

Sandra Carrington-Smith. The Book of Obeah. Winchester, UK: O Books, 2010.

Melody Bennet and her grandmother, Giselle, were close, so she wasn’t surprise when her grandmother specified that Melody should be the one to take her ashes back home to Louisiana.  Melody grew up in Johnston County, North Carolina and knows little about her family’s roots in the bayous of Louisiana.  Melody thought it was odd that Giselle talked so little about her mother and her brother and why they left Louisiana. Melody also though it a bit strange that while all the other family members regularly attended the local Catholic church, Giselle, although spiritually inclined, attended mass only on major holy days.

Following Giselle’s request, Melody goes to Louisiana to bring Giselle’s ashes to Marie Devereux for a blessing.  Marie welcomes Melody, knowing that Giselle tapped Melody for this assignment because she saw in her granddaughter the potential to carry on a tradition of power and healing outside the conventions of modern life.  In a story that moves back and forth between Louisiana and North Carolina, Melody comes to understand her family’s legacy and to accept the power within.  She also has to fight off individuals jealous of her power and a religious organization threatened by the knowledge in a book of “magick” that her great-grandmother brought from the bayou.

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

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Carrington-Smith, Sandra, Johnston, Piedmont, Suspense/Thriller, Wake

Bob Boan. Bobby Becomes Bob. Kingsport, TN: Twilight Times Books, 2009.

As the title suggests, Bobby Becomes Bob is a coming-of-age story.  At twenty-eight Bobby Padgett has returned to his childhood home of St. Umblers, North Carolina.  Before the reader learns why he is back or what his mission there is, we follow Bobby as his mind flashes back to the experiences of his childhood – from his first broken bone to his first love, Sam.  He also recalls experiences such as finding a wallet on the sidewalk, working hard to pay for college, and twice avoiding the Army draft.  As he grew up, Bobby’s parents taught him how to be honorable, a gentleman; they also instilled in him strong family values.

Bobby was drafted for a third time and quickly sent to Vietnam. This altered the course of his life. On his second day in Vietnam, Bobby and his squad were captured. In captivity they were brutally and repeatedly tortured. When Bobby was rescued by American soldiers three and a half years later, he was a different person.  After spending months in Japan, Germany, and Washington, D.C. recovering, Bobby resolves to go by “Robert” or “Bob” from now on as a sign of his maturity.

When he finally returns to St. Umblers, Bob finds a street named in his honor, and Sam walks by him without recognizing her former flame. Bob realizes that his family and friends believe that he died in Vietnam, and that they have changed as much as he has. Although he plans to set the record straight eventually, Bob decides that this day would not be the day for his homecoming, and he returns to Washington.

Small-town North Carolina in the 1950s and 1960s is vividly portrayed in this novel.

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

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Boan. Bob, Coastal Plain, Johnston, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Romance/Relationship

Victor L. Martin. For the Strength of You. Columbus, OH: Triple Crown Publications, 2005.

Sibling loyalties are strong in this novel set among drug dealers in Selma, North Carolina.  While Anshon was serving time in prison, his sister Tammy was shot and paralyzed.  Once Anshon is back in Selma, he searches to find out who shot Tammy. Tammy wants to help her brother by showing him how to make big money dealing drugs.  Anshon takes some, but not all, of his sister’s advice, and as the double-dealing unfolds, the bodies mount up.  This novel is well beyond a PG rating.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2005, Coastal Plain, Johnston, Martin, Victor L., Urban Fiction