Tag Archives: Summer

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

Katrina Thomas. Coastal Summons. Las Vegas, NV: Montlake Romance, 2013.

coastal

Laina Danvers and Ian Hamilton grew up together, not quite family but almost.  Laina’s father was the foster child of Ian’s grandparents, and when he died Ian’s grandparents took her in and raised her.  But the car accident that killed Laina’s father also killed Ian’s father and uncle.  Beatrice Hamilton made peace with that tragic accident but her grandsons never did.  They took their anger out on Laina because her father had been behind the wheel.  Even now, as adults, they are cold and cutting toward her.

Ian Hamilton was the exception among the Hamilton boys, and he is the person who Laina turns to for help when she notices that Beatrice (Gram) is beginning to fail.  The family is scattered and each sibling has adult responsibilities: Ian is an assistant district attorney in Richmond; Elliott is a partner in a large insurance company; Cal is a financial adviser; and cousin Palmer moved to California is escape his overprotective mother.

Laina is busy too as the president of an international trading company and the foster mother of a seven-year old girl.  But just as Gram was always there for her when she was a child, Laina will help Gram now.  When Laina has visited Gram in Arlington, Virginia she’s noticed that the older woman has become frail and is forgetting things, but it is Gram’s annual move to the beach house on Hatteras Island that precipitates a crisis.  The house needs a lot of work, and Gram shouldn’t be there alone.  Laina can see what needs to be done, but the Hamilton men will not accept her advice on anything.  When the family gathers at the beach house on the Fourth of July weekend a stray box of letters reveals something about their shared past that upends the Hamilton family story and allows Ian and Laina to acknowledge feelings that his brothers’ hositility toward Laina forced them to hide.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coast, Dare, Romance/Relationship, Thomas, Katrina

Katrina Thomas. Island Sojourn. Las Vegas, NV: Montlake Romance, 2012.

islandsojournDelaney Sutton used to love her job. A professional firefighter living in Richmond, Virginia, she has been passionately dedicated to saving lives for years. Now, at twenty-six, she’s reached a crossroads. Firefighting has always been her dream, but with the death of her friend and co-worker, Hal, in a fire that also injured her severely, Delaney is unsure and worn out. Her chief decides she needs a forced vacation at the same time that her sisters are planning their annual Sisterhood Sojourn to North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Delaney gives in and goes with them.

Her four weeks in Avon on Hatteras Island are supposed to be relaxing. Unfortunately, her three sisters have other ideas about what she needs– well, one idea. A man. Luckily for them, Gareth Collins arrives almost within a day of the four women, and the Sutton sisters waste no time in hounding their youngest about how cute he is. Delaney has to agree, but she just doesn’t know if she wants a relationship right now. She hasn’t been able to sleep properly since Hal’s death, about which she keeps having post-traumatic flashbacks. Gareth realizes something isn’t entirely right with the pretty youngest Sutton sister, so he tries to take it slow, encouraging her to open up to him a little at a time. Is love really the medicine Delaney needs?

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Coast, Dare, Romance/Relationship, Thomas, Katrina

Kathleen Thomas. Blackbeard’s Treasure. Greensboro, NC: Tudor Publishing, 2009.

Blackbeard's TreasureMatthew and Lauren Bakker, and their cousins Haley and Luke Bakker, are all set for a fabulous six weeks of summer camp on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Everyone is excited about different parts of the camp, but Matthew is focused on one thing only: Blackbeard. The most infamous pirate to terrorize the coast of the Old North State, Blackbeard supposedly left mountains of treasure behind when his ship Queen Anne’s Revenge sank in 1718. Matthew has been reading a book about the bloodthirsty buccaneer, and it’s not long before his enthusiasm infects his sister and cousins. Incredibly, when the four children arrive at summer camp, they discover that an underwater archaeological expedition is in progress nearby to find and recover Blackbeard’s ship for a local university.

Unfortunately, more than one person is interested in the sunken pirate galley. A private collector thinks he can beat the academics to what could be the discovery of the century. He’ll stop at nothing to steal the priceless wreck from under their noses and sell its treasure on the black market. Yet, the children come to suspect that a modern-day privateer is the least of their worries. Could Blackbeard’s angry spirit be haunting the beaches and coves of the Outer Banks, as well? With the help of the archaeologists, their harried camp counselors, and a crusty local former sailor, the four young troublemakers are determined to protect the treasure and thwart the ghost…by hook or by crook.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Carteret, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Thomas, Kathleen

Marybeth Whalen. The Guest Book. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.

Macy Dillon and her family used to take a vacation to Sunset Beach, North Carolina every year. Her most treasured childhood memories are of walking the beach with her mother, brother, and especially her father. But Darren Dillion passed away when she was just sixteen, and Macy’s life has contained a gaping hole ever since. Macy is barely holding it together, working at the local grocery store, and suffering through her mother’s forced celebration of her father’s birthday each year. The only good thing that has happened since Macy’s father’s death is her now five-year-old daughter, Emma, even though Emma’s father walked out on them both shortly after she was born.

But this year at the birthday celebration they hold annually for her deceased father, Macy’s mom announces that they are once more taking a family vacation to Sunset Beach. Macy begins to hope. As a child, her father encouraged her natural artistic talent by asking her to draw a picture in the guest book at their beach house rental each year. Amazingly, another child, a young boy, would answer Macy’s drawings each year with a drawing of his own. The children traded drawings for ten years without meeting, but in what she knew would be her final drawing, Macy promised to come back and find him. Macy is determined that this trip to Sunset Beach will be the one in which she finds the boy. But when they arrive, no less than three men begin vying for Macy’s attention…and any of the three could be the artist. Will she ever find out his identity? And will her family ever find peace without her father?

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Brunswick, Coast, Religious/Inspirational, Romance/Relationship, Whalen, Marybeth

Kim Cash Tate. Hope Springs. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012.

Hope Springs is a small, fictional town 40 minutes east of Raleigh, North Carolina. Geraldine “Grandma Geri” Sanders, the matriarch of the Sanders clan, holds family reunions here every summer and every Christmas, welcoming her far-flung chicks back to the nest where they grew up. Some, like her granddaughter Libby who lives in Raleigh, haven’t strayed so far. But her other adult grandchildren are so far away; some haven’t visited in years. Sisters Cyd and Stephanie grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, where they spend most holidays with their husbands’ families. Janelle has refused to make the journey down from her home in Maryland ever since she lost her husband two years ago.

The Sanders aren’t the only family in Hope Springs hosting a reunion: the Dillons, their neighbors for many years, are all congregating after the death of their patriarch, Jerry Dillon, who also happened to be the local pastor. His son Todd and daughter-in-law Becca are also heavily involved in ministry, but have moved outside of Hope Springs. Now all the adults from both families have a chance to reconnect over shared happiness and sorrow, and each person must ponder what God truly wants for him or her in their hearts. When Grandma Geri contracts cancer, everyone pulls together, and what is meant to be a Christmas visit turns into a months-long extended stay.

While the novel is told through the eyes of Stephanie, Janelle, and Becca, we witness everyone’s journey together as a family in more ways than one. Will Stephanie be able to adjust to her family after so many years away? Will Janelle eventually overcome her husband’s death, and even find new love? Will Becca do what’s right for herself and her children? Most importantly, will everyone survive in a house full of young children and toddlers? Only God has the answers.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont, Religious/Inspirational, Tate, Kim Cash

Lisa Williams Kline. Summer of the Wolves. Grand Rapids, MI: Zonderkidz, 2012.

Stephanie and Diana are like night and day: blonde Diana loves the outdoors, and gets along with animals better than people. Dark-haired Stephanie is artsy, social, and fashionable. Each regards the other’s world as alien to her own. Unfortunately, Stephanie’s dad and Diana’s mom have just gotten married, and the two new stepsisters are pushed into a “family” vacation at a ranch in the North Carolina mountains. Stephanie is horrified that she’ll be expected to participate in activities like trail riding and white-water rafting, while Diana is angry that she’ll be held back by her stepsister’s reluctance. Stephanie actually wants to be friends, but Diana is so angry that civil interaction is barely possible.

With the family shift weighing down on both of them, the vacation does not start well for the girls. Stephanie nearly falls off a horse, and Diana is even more annoyed when her socially skilled stepsister starts making friends with other children right away. But then Diana discovers the wolves: two part-wolf, part-dog hybrids that a local man keeps for show. Diana’s heart goes out immediately to the skinny, frightened creatures, who are kept in a small pen with little food or water. She determines to free them, and when Stephanie catches wind of her plan, the usually cautious brunette decides to help Diana. Together they free the wolves, but their actions have far-reaching consequences that they didn’t consider. The girls must help those who wish to bring the wolves safely home, realizing along the way that they’re more similar than they thought.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Children & Young Adults, Kline, Lisa Williams, Mountains, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Maggie Bishop. One Shot Too Many. Banner Elk, NC: Ingalls Publishing Group, 2011.

Jemma Chase, the CSI-obsessed heroine of Murder at Blue Falls and Perfect for Framing, is back in this latest installment in Bishop’s Appalachian Adventure series.

When Scott Barker dies suddenly at a photography club meeting held at Jemma’s ranch, Blue Falls, the investigator-wannabe can barely contain her enthusiasm. Of course it’s terrible that Scott is dead, but the chance to be at the center of another investigation (and interact with handsome Detective Tucker) is too exciting. When it turns out that Barker was poisoned, the case gets even more interesting, as the killer has to be one of the amateur photographers present at the club meeting. Unfortunately, Tucker wants Jemma to stay out of the way this time, in an effort to protect both her safety and his reputation. But when the detective kisses another woman, Jemma begins to wonder if her safety is really what’s foremost in his mind.

Return to Blue Falls for another exciting murder mystery, filled with the usual suspects, intriguing new characters, and plenty of illicit activity for Jemma and Detective Tucker to unravel.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Bishop, Maggie, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Romance/Relationship, Watauga

JT Kalnay. The Topsail Accord. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace, 2011.

Shannon has come to Topsail Beach on the Outer Banks of North Carolina to escape; surrounded with work and family, she feels stifled instead of loved and fulfilled. Yet, she is somehow also lonely. Convinced that no one will notice her at the “decrepit” age of forty, she is content to walk the beach in front of her rental cottage and reflect on her sad past. What Shannon doesn’t realize is that someone has noticed her. Joe jogs along Topsail Beach every morning, and has lately noticed the new renter out walking. He thinks she’s striking, but as a local, Joe is used to being treated as something subhuman by visitors. It’s not until fate intervenes and he literally crashes into her, spilling her coffee, that the two really meet.

Falling in love, or at first in lust, is inevitable, but Joe and Shannon are both damaged goods. Shannon is a divorced scientist, and thanks to rich natural gas deposits discovered on her property in Ohio, a billionaire. Joe is a widower after the tragic deaths of his wife and daughter and runs a coffee shop just off the beach. In the face of their feelings for one another and these obstacles, Shannon and Joe develop the Topsail Accord, agreeing to spend two months a year together on Topsail, one week in Costa Rica in July, and one week in October at a different lighthouse. But as much as they attempt to limit their time and feelings to something manageable, both must ultimately face love’s one constant: in order to love and be loved in return, you have to be willing to be vulnerable. Joe and Shannon’s relationship is initially satisfying for both, but after a few years each feels as though something is missing. When Shannon is struck with a terrifying disease, the lovers must admit what they truly mean to each other before it’s too late and tragedy strikes their lives again.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Kalnay, JT, Pender, Romance/Relationship