Monthly Archives: January 2012

Maddie James. The Quest. Edgewater, FL: Resplendence Publishing, 2010.

This third novel in The Legend of Blackbeard’s Chalice series finds Jackson Porter traveling through time to fulfill his mother’s dying wish–that he search for what is rightfully his. His quest takes him from eighteenth century Ocracoke Island to twenty-first century Ohio–the land of his birth. There he will find that his mother’s well tended farm is imperiled–by government sanctions and by The Cult of Teach, in the person of the cult leader’s son, Tye Gentry.  Will Kari Upton, the woman who now owns the farm, marry Gentry, or will she and Jackson have another one of the passionate, adventure-filled romances that are a feature of this series?

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

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Coast, Hyde, James, Maddie, Novels in Series, Suspense/Thriller

John Sayles. A Moment in the Sun. San Francisco: McSweeney’s Books, 2011.

This big book takes readers back to the America of the late nineteenth century with all of that period’s optimism, adventurism, technological progress–and its imperialism and racism.  Part of the story takes place in Wilmington, North Carolina where two families–one white, one African American–experience both imperialism and racism in very different ways.  The Manigaults, a powerful white family, resent the changes that the Confederate defeat brought.  The family patriarch, Judge Cornelius Manigault, values his honor and disdains the rabble who are organizing to take back the state for the white man.  Still, in the end the Judge joins forces with the men who are plotting to suppress the African American vote on election day, only to be surprised by the violence that follows.  Dr. Lunceford is the patriarch of an African American family who has made a comfortable place for himself and his family.  Feeling part of this country and yet eager to see the wider world, his son Junior volunteers to fight for America in Cuba.  Neither patriotism nor a life of honor and service will protect the Luncefords; their community in Wilmington will be destroyed.  The Luncefords head north, to New York, and a life of struggle. The judge’s son, Niles, Junior Lunceford, and Junior’s good friend Royal Scott will cross paths in the Philippines;  not all of them will return.

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

Click here to see documentary material on the election of 1898 in North Carolina.


Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Historical, New Hanover, Sayles, John

Gardner Martin Kelley. The Outer Banks Sea Gypsies. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2011.

Captain Gardner Martin Kelley has “many tales to tell” from a long life spent working on yachts, steamships, and in a World War II Liberty Shipyard. Born in 1913 on an island off the coast of Maine, this ninety-eight-year-old author has crafted a gripping story of rum running and survival on the Outer Banks beginning in 1923, as the dawning of a new age in technology saw the end of the very last cargo sailing schooners.

His tale follows three individuals, beginning with the young sailor Ron Fickett, whose father is brutally murdered by scavengers after the elder Fickett wrecks their schooner in the infamous Graveyard of the Atlantic off the North Carolina coast. The second plot concerns Johnny Mapp, one of the many “bankers” who arrive to salvage material from the schooner and witnesses Captain Fickett’s murder. He decides then that he and his family should move on, away from such brutality. The Mapp family build a floating houseboat, living off the land and selling their catch from the bountiful waters to buy what they can’t hunt or gather. Meanwhile, Ron searches first for his father, and then for revenge when he learns the truth of his death.

Finally, Kelley’s story follows Cissy Mapp, Johnny’s younger sister, who is tragically kidnapped by Cuban rum runners and sold into slavery. She escapes and assumes the identity of a street urchin called Tiar, growing up among the orphans and street children of Havana. She sells her body to survive, but eventually finds her way back to her family … with a plan to corner the market in running liquor, illegal during this era of Prohibition.

A rousing tale from an author with first-hand knowledge of much of what he writes, readers will enjoy learning about Captain Kelley’s life through his writing, and through the many photographs of the author, the ships, and the land included in this self-published novel.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Historical, Kelley, Gardner Martin, Suspense/Thriller

Mike Sanders. Thirsty 2. East Orange, NJ: Wahida Clark Presents, 2011.

Justice Dial is back in this bloody sequel to Thirsty, Mike Sanders’s novel about hustling on the streets of Charlotte, North Carolina. Beautiful, clever, and ruthless, Justice used to make loads of cash by seducing men, gleaning the location of their wealth, and passing on the information to her brother, Monk. But then it all went wrong, and in a terrible case of mistaken blame, her murderous, drug lord ex-boyfriend Carlos came after the brother and sister. Monk was killed, but Justice fled to Chicago.

Now Justice owns and operates a successful strip club but has never stopped plotting her revenge on Tan, the vicious drug dealer who killed her brother. The situation heats up when Justice returns to the Queen City to support her best friend Sapphire, whose mother is dying. Sapphire was a victim of a nearly fatal beating when Carlos’s crew thought she crossed them, and Carlos has been making restitution ever since he discovered her and Justice’s innocence. Sapphire has forgiven him, but Justice refuses, so Sapphire sees her best friend’s return to Charlotte as an opportunity to convince her of Carlos’s sincerity.

Meanwhile, Tandora Mendoza, daughter of the Mendoza crime family, is out for her own revenge. Robbed by Justice, Monk, and their gang, Tan has already eliminated one sibling, and now she’s waiting for her chance at Justice…before Justice can get to her first. The two women stalk one another through Charlotte and finally Chicago, surrounded by their henchmen and women. But who can they really trust? In the end, a true enemy may be the one they least expect. Justice must survive the hatred of those who want her dead, while fighting the love of the one man she swore never to forgive.

This novel contains graphic sexual and violent content.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Mecklenburg, Piedmont, Sanders, Mike, Suspense/Thriller, Urban Fiction

Barbara Neely. Blanche on the Lam. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992.

Barbara Neely was sharing insights about the lives of African American women who earn their livings as domestic workers long before The Help hit bookstores.  In this first novel in a four book series, Blanche White, feisty and forty-something, takes a week-long job with a rich family as a way to hide out after she is sentenced to jail on a bad-check charge.  The family are off to their country house in Hokeyville, a good distance from the Durham County jail where Blanche is supposed to spend the next thirty days.  Not that time with the Mumsfields doesn’t feel like a sentence.  The family matriach, Aunt Emmeline, is in decline and family members are circling like vultures to get their hands on her money.  But there are other things going on too–the suicide of the local sheriff, the death of the family’s long-time gardener, and Aunt Em’s disappearance. Curious and observant by nature, Blanche decides that she has to get to the bottom of it all.  What she finds is multiple  murders–and a family that will pay her to go far away.

Blanche on the Lam is listed as one of the  20 Essential Novels for African-American Women. See the whole list at


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

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Filed under 1990-1999, 1992, Mystery, Neely, Barbara, Novels in Series, Piedmont

Susan Donovan. Cheri on Top. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2011.

Cherise “Cheri” Newberry returns to her hometown just as Barbara Jean Smoot’s Impala is pulled from Paw Paw Lake. Cheri is back in Bigler, North Carolina after a wildly successful stint as a realtor in Tampa. Her beloved grandfather has asked her to come home to take over the family newspaper, the Bigler Bugle,  but Cheri expects to stay in the mountain community only for a month or two. Too much baggage remains in Bigler: her memories of being an ambitious, resourceful woman in a place that stifled her as she was growing up; fears that her parents’ death was her fault; and the still painful sting of losing her first true love, J.J. (now the Bugle‘s dashing editor). She just wants to get the paper running smoothly, and the discovery of the car owned by Smoot, a young woman who went missing in the 1950s, is sure to sell papers and make her return to Florida quicker.

As Cheri begins to sift through the Bugle‘s financial paperwork, she discovers something far worse than low readership. Thousands of dollars have been taken from the company, and that illegal deed is connected to Smoot’s murder. Fortunately for Cheri, she has reconciled with J.J., and their growing relationship gives her strength to confront the truth–and expose some of her own skeletons.

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


Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Donovan, Susan, Mountains, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Romance/Relationship

Alice J. Wisler. A Wedding Invitation. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2011.

When Samantha Bravencourt misinterprets a wedding invitation and lands up at a stranger’s nuptials in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, she’s embarrassed and annoyed. Still, the trip gives Sam the chance to visit her eccentric Aunt Dovie, and to get away from working in her mom’s D.C. fashion boutique. What she doesn’t count on is the past returning to haunt her with a vengeance.

When Samantha last saw Lien Hong , it was nearly a decade earlier, and Lien was Sam’s student at the Philippine Refugee Processing Center near Manila. In 1985, many Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian families were trying to immigrate to the United States. The teachers at the PRPC taught them English and American culture, attempting to ease their transition. Now Lien and her family are in Winston-Salem, and she is thrilled to find Samantha. Sam isn’t sure how she feels about their reunion. Lien was a handful then, and obsessed with the man Sam had a crush on–her handsome fellow teacher, Carson Brylie, also a North Carolinian. Carson broke Sam’s heart, and she would rather not be reminded of him or this part of her past.

But she doesn’t have much choice when Carson hears about her presence, and calls. Soon he’s back in her life, and as confusing as ever. Sam doesn’t know what Carson wants, but she does know that she won’t be so fast to give away her heart a second time. Unfortunately, since Lien needs both Sam and Carson’s help badly, Sam can’t avoid him. The young Vietnamese is an Amerasian: the daughter of a Vietnamese woman and an American G.I. Ridiculed and stigmatized, Lien’s mother gave her up to relatives as a baby, and fled. Now Lien is getting married, and wants to find her birth mother more than anything. As Samantha and Carson spend more and more time together in an effort to unite a family, Sam learns that the surest path to happiness lies in learning to trust herself, others, and God once more.

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



Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Forsyth, Piedmont, Religious/Inspirational, Romance/Relationship, Wisler, Alice J.

Jane Tesh. Stolen Hearts. Scottsdale, AZ: Poisoned Pen Press, 2011.

David Randall is down on his luck, sleeping in his car, when he hears police cars rushing down the street.  It appears that a burglar has broken into Albert Bennett’s house and killed the old man. The crimes galvanizes David the way almost nothing has since his young daughter died a few years back.  After a mediocre career as a private investigator and two failed marriages, David wakes up and tries to take back his life.  He will avenge Bennett’s death and in doing so redeem his own life.

Unfortunately for David,  Albert Bennett’s murder is not an open and shut case. For starters, why would anyone break into a rich man’s house and leave with nothing but an old notebook found on the front lawn the night of the murder? And what does all that gibberish in the notebook mean? Is it music? Before David can get very far into the case, he realizes that he needs a place to stay and a place to call an office.  His obliging friend Camden provides both, but Cam is a psychic who runs a boarding house, so suddenly David has a place to hang his hat, but also lots of complications, including a lovely fellow boarder who may help him forget about his unfortunate marital track record.

This is a book for music buffs and those who like their mysteries spiced up with a touch of the paranormal.

This is the first novel in Tesh’s new series, the Grace Street Mysteries.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont, Tesh, Jane

Chris Forman. Killer Surf. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace, 2011.

Ian Porthos Wallace is a simple man. He enjoys wearing the kilts of his Scottish ancestry, working as a food writer and photographer, and making his lovely fiancée, Athena Spyros, happy. What Ian doesn’t enjoy is murder, but it falls into his path anyway. Literally. He trips over Brenda Dexter’s body while walking on Wrightsville Beach, a stone’s throw from his home on the North Carolina coast. Ian used to know Brenda as the neighbor lady who locked herself out of the house every so often, but now he’ll be forced to remember her as a dead body.

Murder isn’t the only thing on Ian’s plate. He’s also planning a wedding with (or perhaps in spite of) his intended’s mother, Maria. Since Athena’s last marriage was an absolute disaster, Maria is determined that everything will be perfect for her baby this time around. When Ian gets the bright idea of holding the wedding in Scotland in his family’s ancestral town, Maria is dead set against it. But even with unrest on the home front and a wedding looming in the near future, Ian can’t stop thinking about Brenda Dexter’s murder, which remains a mystery. So he does a little sleuthing of his own, starting with his eccentric neighbors.

First, he talks to Ruby, who lived in the other side of Brenda’s duplex. Ruby is a great gal; she’s a stripper past her prime and her fashion sense favors animal print and pink fluff. But she doesn’t know anything. Next, he gets to know April and May, two eighty-year-old sisters with a passion for the home shopping network, who are similarly clueless about Brenda’s death. Other neighbors and various local characters come and go, but no one knows anything. Then, another murder occurs and someone steps forward with an unexpected confession.

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

Catch up on Ian’s adventures in the first Port City Mystery, Killer Cuisine, coming soon to the North Carolina Collection in Wilson Library.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Forman, Chris, Mystery, New Hanover, Novels in Series

Janett Norris Nelson. The Seamstress’ Nightmare. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2011.

When their cousin Danita decides to get married in Garden Grove, California, sisters and business partners Sherry and Harriet Torris are very excited. Besides their happiness for Danita, the wedding will give them the opportunity to travel all across the country in their mobile home. They pack their things, leave their design business in the capable hands of a friend, and are all ready to go, but then Harriet receives a mysterious letter in the mail warning them not to come to Garden Grove. Harriet is alarmed, but she is determined to make it to her cousin’s wedding, so the two sisters set off from their home in North Carolina.

Unfortunately, someone is clearly out to stop them. Threatening figures lurk around their mobile home at all hours of the night, and their tires are slashed or mysteriously flat. Only through the kindness of a handsome stranger, Wayne Gordon, are they able to make it to Garden Grove. The sisters breathe a sigh of relief, thinking that the troubling harassment will cease, but it only gets worse. When Danita’s fiancé is poisoned, Sherry and Harriet know that they and local law enforcement have to find the perpetrator. It’s difficult to find the truth when Harriet is distracted by her handsome boyfriend Dallas, and Sherry is busy fending off not one, but several would-be swains, but everything is resolved happily in the end.

Although the main characters are Tar Heels, almost all the action takes place in California.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Mystery, Nelson, Janett Norris