Tag Archives: North Carolina


Title: Serena

Author: Ron Rash

Publisher: Ecco, October 2008

Summary: Have you ever read a book that is so good, you just don’t understand how the author isn’t more well-known? For me, that book was the astonishing One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash. This talented author’s words are so devastatingly beautiful that they make you stop and re-read the same sentence over and over again. His latest book, like his previous efforts, is set in Appalachia, this time in the Western North Carolina’s logging fields of the late 1920s. It is there we meet Pemberton, the owner of a lumber company racing to clean out the forest before he loses his land to a planned National Park, and his wife, Serena.

Pemberton is an ambitious man, and Serena is more than his equal. Her unrelenting drive allows no questioning, and certainly no opposition. The violence and danger of life in a lumber camp is mirrored by the treacherous actions of Serena, who may be the most memorable female villain since Lady Macbeth. This fabulous book opens a window into a forgotten past, and will resonate with historical fiction fans, as well as readers who enjoy a good thriller.

Who will like this book? Fans of regional fiction. People who enjoy thrillers that aren’t procedural or formulaic.

If you like this, try this: One Foot in Eden and The World Made Straight, both by Ron Rash.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Garden Spells and The Lace Reader

Titles: Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen and The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

Summary: It was sheer coincidence that I read these two novels back to back, so I thought it would be nice to review them together.  The two stories have a lot in common and share many similar themes, but each one evokes a completely different (and wonderful!) reading experience.

Garden Spells is a delightful story about two half-sisters, Claire and Sydney, their magical garden, and life in the small town of Bascom, North Carolina.   The Waverly women have always had mysterious gifts, but they’ve not always embraced them.  Claire’s magic comes through the herbs and spices she uses from the famous Waverly garden, while Cousin Evanelle intuits exactly what item people will need the most and gives it to them.  Sydney spent most of her life running away from her gifts, but finds herself returning to Bascom with her daughter when her boyfriend becomes abusive.  As the bond between Claire and Sydney grows, so does their appreciation of their unusual talents.  This book was a pleasure to read, the perfect summer novel.

If Garden Spells is the perfect summer novel, then The Lace Reader is its perfect cold weather counterpart – it’s a bit darker, but still a fantastic read.  We meet another family with mystical powers, the Whitneys of Salem, Massachusetts.  The Whitney women can read your future in patterns of the Ipswich lace that they help to make, which leads some people to believe they are witches.  Towner Whitney thought she’d left all of that behind when she moved to California, but she’s called back home when her beloved Aunt Eva goes missing.  Her return to the family home sets off a series of events that are a more than a little unsettling.  There are some fascinating people and places in this novel.  I particularly loved reading about Salem and Yellow Dog Island, a fictional island of the coast of Massachusetts that’s inhabited by hundreds of wild Golden Retrievers.

By the way, The Lace Reader is one of the books that created a buzz at this year’s Book Expo America.  It’s being published in hardcover this month, but we happened to have a previously-published paperback edition on our shelves – and I’m so glad we did!

Who will like these books?:  Any fan of Alice Hoffman and Laura Esquivel.

If you like these try: Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman; The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen.

Recommended by: Mary, Reference Librarian

Down River

Title: Down River

Author: John Hart

Summary: Five years ago, Adam Chase was acquitted of murder, even though his own stepmother testified against him. Most people in his hometown believed that he was guilty and that his father’s money paid for the verdict. Adam left home soon after the trial and has been living in New York ever since.

Now Adam has been asked by a childhood friend to come back to his hometown in North Carolina. Adam returns to find that the residents’ feelings toward him have not changed since he left. To make matters worse, many of them are angry with Adam’s father for interfering with a local land deal which could make them all rich. After Adam’s arrival,  violent attacks occur against the people closest to him. Seeds of doubt as to Adam’s innocence are again planted and he must find the true murderer before he/she kills again.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator