Tag Archives: Environmentalism

E. R. Herring. Goshen’s Watch. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2010.

Jaysie Curtis and her husband Kayle lead a quiet life in Traverstown, a fictional hamlet in North Carolina’s Piedmont region. Bordered by a marsh known as Goshen’s Swamp, the town has remained a sleepy backwater in spite of encroaching developments and highways. In fact, when the town attempted to build a major thoroughfare through the swamp, the project failed within a matter of days, and most troubling of all, the entire road crew disappeared.

They aren’t the only ones. Lately, strange disappearances have become the norm in Traverstown. If someone lives in a reckless way, endangers other members of the community, or is just plain mean, he or she will vanish without a trace. As time goes on, some people even claim to see these wicked individuals disappearing in clouds of acidic steam. Community elders declare that “Goshen is angry,” and it certainly feels as though something supernatural is afoot. But what kind of force is ridding Traverstown of unsavory individuals? Is this entity out for justice … or blood? Jaysie’s voice guides us through this spooky tale, but at times it feels as though the narrative takes on the unsettling perspective of whatever resides in Goshen’s Swamp itself.

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

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Herring, E. R., Horror, Mystery, Piedmont

Horace Kephart. Smoky Mountain Magic. Gatlinburg, TN: Great Smoky Mountain Association, 2009.

Horace Kephart on the summit of Mount Kephart, courtesy of the National Park Service

Horace Kephart, known as one of the fathers of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, was a prolific writer and naturalist. He is well known for his nonfiction works on camping and the inhabitants of the southern Appalachians, but it was not until 2009 that his great- great-granddaughter and her husband were able to publish his long-lost novel, Smoky Mountain Magic. Originally written in 1929, the novel draws deeply on Kephart’s years of experience living in and wandering through the Smokies.

It’s 1925, and a young man from New York arrives on the outskirts of Kittuwa (Bryson City) in the Smoky Mountains. John Cabarrus has been away for fifteen years, but has finally returned to claim the land that is rightfully his. But his property is still in possession of the wicked W. G. Matlock, the greedy businessman who stole it from Cabarrus’ grandfather, so John must keep his intentions secret. Unfortunately, a local troublemaker sees Cabarrus on the property, possibly panning for gold. Matlock finds out, and goes after the prodigal son with a vengeance.

Marian Wentworth, a young woman visiting relatives in Kittuwa while on holiday from college, is immediately drawn to the mysterious, handsome Cabarrus. She soon discovers his family’s sad tale, and Cabarrus tells her the whole truth- he isn’t searching for gold, but for beryllium, uranium, and other mineral deposits in high demand as science advances. If he can find enough, his career and fortune will be made and he can regain his grandfather’s prized land from the scheming Matlock. Marian is determined to help, so the two young people search the mountains together for this precious treasure. Along the way, they encounter witches, the Little People, gum-chewing teenagers, mythical beasts, ornery dogs, the Cherokee, and magical crystals.

In this fascinating glimpse into the colliding cultures of the Roaring Twenties and the still wild back woods of the Great Smoky Mountains, Horace Kephart has written a masterful portrayal of the mountain folk, the Cherokee, and the land itself. Readers of adventure, natural science, and early twentieth century literature will all be delighted.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Kephart, Horace, Mountains, Suspense/Thriller, Swain

Rose Senehi. Render unto the Valley. Chimney Rock, NC: K.I.M. Publishing, 2012.

Karen Godwell is a curator at one of the most prestigious institutions in the United States: the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. She has carefully hidden the North Carolina-born mountain girl she used to be behind a veneer of New York sophistication, but when her husband Joel dies, everything changes. Joel, with his writer’s soul, fell  in love with North Carolina as much as Karen tried to forget it, and he always urged her to return. When Karen gets wind that something has gone badly wrong with her family there soon after Joel’s death, it’s the impetus she needs to fulfill his wish. She and her young daughter Hali pack their things and move south, where Karen takes a job at the Folk Art Center just outside of Asheville.

But it was a famous Ashevillean who knew that you can’t go home again so easily, and trouble waits for Karen in spades. Karen fled the Old North State for a reason: her sociopathic brother. Abused and neglected by their alcoholic mother’s string of shady boyfriends, Karen and her siblings Travis and Amy had a hard life that improved only when mom left for good, leaving the children to be raised by her parents. Grandma Pearl and her farm saved Karen, but there was never any hope for Travis.

Outwardly handsome and charming, Travis takes delight in seemingly random acts of cruelty and violation. Finally he has gone too far, placing Grandma Pearl in a rest home and taking her ancestral farm for himself by force. Obsessed with becoming wealthy, only his sisters stand in the way of his selling everything that their family has held dear for generations. In order to save her family’s, and daughter’s, future, Karen must finally face her childhood, with all its traumatic secrets.

The third of Senehi’s stand-alone novels set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Render Unto the Valley is an absorbing tale of homecoming, family, and the courage it takes to face the past. Art, environmental protection, and the preservation of personal and local history are all themes that make this an enriching and entertaining read.

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


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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Buncombe, Mountains, Romance/Relationship, Senehi, Rose, Suspense/Thriller

Anne V. Wigg. Filex 13. New York: Xlibris, 2007.

Tiffany Silver lives in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina with her husband Shadow and two young children. She has a happy existence running a small dress shop while Shadow works as an oceanographer, and they are surrounded by friends and family. But all of that is about to change. A hurricane destroys their home, and Shadow dies in a mysterious accident at sea. Tiffany and the children are grief-stricken, and rebuilding everything they have lost is a slow process. Over time, life becomes more normal: they move into a new house, and Tiffany’s dress shop is working on the biggest wedding of the decade.

Disaster, however, is about to call again. Something is wrong with the lake near Tiffany’s new house, where she spots glowing bathers late at night, and her best friend from high school, Lindy, has been acting strangely. Steve Treat, the lone survivor of the accident at sea that took Shadow’s life, rouses from his coma muttering nonsense about blue, glowing lights. Incredibly, all of these weird occurrences are linked, and the answer is nothing anyone in Wrightsville Beach would ever have guessed: visitors from another world walk among them.

Now Tiffany and state officials must work quickly to determine the extent of this threat that is slowly polluting North Carolina’s pristine waterways, all while keeping it a secret from an easily-panicked public … and keeping their lives. By turns spooky, scientific, and sentimental, this tale of otherworldly beings doesn’t end at all the way one might think.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Coast, New Hanover, Wigg, Anne V.

Tamara Leigh. Restless in Carolina. Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah, 2011.

Bridget Pickwick Buchanan, despite her large (and at times tiresome) family, the wealthy Pickwicks of Pickwick, North Carolina, has never felt more alone. The free-wheeling, avid environmental advocate, with her head full of dreadlocks and sarcastic attitude, finds herself struggling to get through her brother’s wedding one sweltering day in late July. It’s not just the terrible dress she has to wear, but the loss of her husband, Easton Buchanan, that makes it so difficult. Her sister Bonnie is convinced that she needs to snap out of it: Easton died four years ago, and since then Bridget has refused to take off her ring, kept her hair in dreads, and slept in the guest bedroom. Even worse, Uncle Obediah, the Pickwick patriarch, is selling the family estate in order to make restitution to those the (formerly) swindling Pickwicks wronged. Bridget has to find an environmentally-friendly buyer for the estate and its acres of unblemished forest, and fast, or risk seeing it developed into something horrible.

She is intrigued by J.C. Dirk, a handsome Atlanta-based developer who has established a reputation for his “green” work, but no one in his office will return her phone calls. Bridget, never one to be overlooked, decides that if the Mountain won’t come to Mohammed…in short order she finds herself in the polished offices of Dirk Developers Inc., interrupting Mr. J.C. Dirk’s busy schedule. Initially displeased when she crashes his meeting, J.C. agrees to come look at the property when she reveals her prestigious family name. But there may be more in J.C. Dirk, and his fateful trip to the small mountain town of Pickwick, than Bridget bargains for.

An inspirational tale of one woman’s journey back to life, God, and love (saving the planet along the way, of course), this third installment in the Southern Discomfort series doesn’t disappoint!

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Leigh, Tamara, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Religious/Inspirational, Romance/Relationship

Jeanne Webster. Strays. Fawnskin, CA: Personhood Press, 2011.

Jane is deeply unhappy. At 24, just starting out in life, she feels as though she has come to the end of the road. She lives with a smothering boyfriend in Atlanta, a city she dislikes, putting her dreams of being an author on hold just to make ends meet. She exists, but she does not live, no matter how hard she tries or prays for some kind of sign. No one answers. Things disintegrate further when she looses her job. With only a few hundred dollars in her bank account and feeling lost, she heads north to a cabin in the Smoky Mountains to regroup and get her life back on track. One wet, rainy day, she stops at a mountain outlook, thinking that if God is anywhere, surely she will find Him here. But the silence is louder than ever. Enraged and frightened, she pleads, screams, and threatens whatever is out there until a chance misstep sends her crashing onto the stony outcrop.

Waking with a large, throbbing lump, Jane is at first frightened and then bewildered to find that she has developed an interesting gift: she can understand the speech of animals and plants. Soon, a guide arrives: a tough and capable but compassionate stray mutt who calls himself Max. With Max as her companion, Jane slowly learns about the power that has always existed within her to change, to choose, and to fill her life with meaning. Together they wander the mountains, speaking with ancient trees, animals, and insects who share their purpose and wisdom with the two strays.

Jeanne Webster, a certified life coach, has written a narrative that is both a novel and a guide for those of us seeking our own passion and authenticity as human beings. Based around Native American stories she heard as a child, the plot is heavily focused on Jane’s, and by extension the reader’s, inner journey. As Jane finds her truth through the wisdom of the natural world, we begin to believe that such a transformation is possible for us as well. Readers will be particularly charmed by the sweet and lovable Max, a familiar figure of wisdom and grace to any friend of dogs.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Mountains, Religious/Inspirational, Webster, Jeanne

Susan Kelly. By Accident. New York: Pegasus Books, 2010.

Laura Lucas has experienced what might be the worst thing a person can experience–the death of a child.  In this introspective novel, the reader follows Laura in her grief–numbly walking through her daily routines, feeling awkward at social events, observing the radical changes in her formerly settled neighborhood. Laura loves the neighborhood, especially the trees.  It’s a pleasant surprise when the elderly woman next door leaves and a young man, an arborist, moves in.

Elliot is lively, a little crazy, and he delights Ebie, Laura’s daughter–and Laura too. They take note of the nature around them and Laura laughs and confides in Elliot. Laura’s husband senses that Elliot could become a rival.  He warns Laura and her friend warns her, but it is not Laura’s infidelity that pushes the marriage to its end.

By Accident won the 2010 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction.

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

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Guilford, Kelly, Susan S., Piedmont

Margaret G. Cahill. Five Star Fraud.Morrisville, NC: Lulu.com, 2010.

Changing jobs and moving to a new city are big steps.  Neil Launders is a cautious man, a scientist, so he didn’t move to Charlotte on a whim.  Gordon Byrnes recruited Neil hard with the offer of a great salary and a vast research-and-development budget.  The flattering words about Neil’s brilliance as a chemist didn’t hurt either.  But almost from the first moments at GB Polymers, Neil feels that something is wrong.  Only one person on his research team has been with the company for more than a year, Gordon is a micro-managing bully, and there is something off about the heir apparent, Gordon’s son, Chadwick.  But as difficult as the Byrnes men are, it’s parts of GB Polymers’ business that are truly scary in this environmentally-themed novel.

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

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Cahill, Margaret G., Mecklenburg, Piedmont

Rose Senehi. The Wind in the Woods. Vilas, NC: Canterbury House Publishing, 2010.

Jack “Tiger” Morrison is an honorable man.  He has balanced the competing demands of family and his strong environmental creed. Together, he and his wife, Susan, created a family and started a successful camp for children in North Carolina’s Green River Valley.  Susan has been dead for some time, the victim of a drunk driver, but his daughter Sammy helps him run the camp.

Tiger’s love of the camp and love of nature is as strong as ever, but lately he can’t help but notice that the property around the camp is being bought by developers. How can he hold on to the camp–should he even try? What does Sammy want?  Tiger has a feeling that this will come to a head soon, but he is unprepared for the other developments of this eventful summer when a serial killer is stalking women in the mountains.  Senehi mixes difficult and horrifying elements–the murders and the threats to Tiger’s way of life–with warm elements such as a young camper’s growth and a pair of romances.

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

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Henderson, Mountains, Senehi, Rose, Suspense/Thriller

George Ivey. Up River: A Novel of Attempted Restoration. Indianapolis, IN: Dog Ear Publishing, 2009.

Moving to a new place, especially a small town, without knowing anyone is difficult. People look at you inquisitively, and most people know everything about you even before a formal introduction. In Walnut Falls, North Carolina, Peter Bailey finds this to be true. However, he has the additional complication of being an “outlander” with a mission – a mission to save the Akwanee River. This water source is home to endangered fish and mussels, and Peter has joined with the controversial organization Global Alliance for River Defense (GARD), to protect it. Because GARD is known for suing localities to enforce better practices, his affiliation with the group complicates his task. As Peter works to find common ground with his new community, which is not always friendly to the newcomer, he reestablishes his dedication to environmentalism. Part of this, he learns, is working not only with diehard conservation-minded folks like him but also with other players, such as farmers, ministers, and bureaucrats. As the end of his two years comes up, Peter secures additional funds without the association with GARD, commits to continuing his work saving the Akwanee River, and feels like he is finally part of the Walnut Falls community.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Ivey, George, Mountains, Novels Set in Fictional Places