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February 2020 Reviews

February 2020 Reviews


A Broom for Ma by Rhonda Cable. Buchtel, Ohio: Monday Creek Publishing, 2019. 32 un-numbered pages illustrated in full color on every page by Jackie Duffy. 8.25” X 10.25” hardback with pictorial cover, $14.95.

This is a nifty book that those who read it to children will enjoy as much as the kids. The main character is Amos who is 80 years old and has been married for 60 year to a woman he simply calls, “Ma.” The book follows him on a day when he decides to get up early and make Ma a broom. The story is endearing but also explains old-fashioned broom-making in great detail. It is a picture book delightfully illustrated by Jackie Duffy, a retired teacher who grew up in the Wayne National Forest of Southeast Ohio and now lives in California.  The author, Rhonda Cable, is a former elementary school teacher who lives in Southeast Ohio. Her husband makes brooms the old-fashioned way


On Snowden Mountain by Jeri Watts. Somerville, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press, 2019, 208 pages. Hardback in dust jacket, $16.99.

It is September, 1942, and twelve-year-old Ellen, the narrator of this novel, is worried that, with her father away fighting in World War II, her mother’s depression has almost immobilized her. In desperation, Ellen summons her Aunt Pearl to come to Baltimore to help. Aunt Pearl’s solution is to take Ellen and her mother back to her farm at the base of Snowden Mountain in the Virginia Mountains. Ellen dislikes the whole idea. She does not like the one-room school she has to go to. She worries her mom’s depression is hereditary. How will she pull herself out of this funk and come to appreciate her new life? The author, Jeri Watts, is a 27-year veteran school teacher who lives in Lexington, Virginia, and is a professor at Lynchburg College. This is her second youth novel. Her picture book, A Piece of Home, received an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award.



The Great Blue Hills of God: A Story of Facing Loss, Finding Peace, and Learning the True Meaning of Home by Kreis Beall. New York: Convergent Books/Penguin Random House, 2020. 288 pages. Hardback in dust jacket, $27.00.

In 1976, Kreis Beall and her husband founded Blackberry Farm, a luxury hotel and resort. The setting is idyllic, nestled on 4200 acres between Chilhowie Mountain and the Smoky Mountains National Park in Miller’s Cove in Blount County, Tennessee, and the resort is renowned.  Her life was on a dramatic upswing. She and her husband created restaurants in South Carolina and Alabama and bought properties all over before returning to Blackberry Farm and then Knoxville. Then the unthinkable happened. In 1999 she fell off a golf cart and suffered a terrible brain injury which left her deaf. Her recovery left her unable to continue the ambitious projects that had occupied her life, and several years later, her marriage came apart. The last chapters of her book tell the story of how, living on Blackberry Farm, she began to put her life back together.


It Happened in the Great Smokies: Stories of Events and People that Shaped a National Park, Second Edition by Michael R. Bradley. Guilford, Connecticut: Globe Pequot, 2020. 192 pages with an Index, Bibliography, Map and graphics. Trade paperback, $16.95.

In 1966, Michael Frome published Strangers in High Places: The Story of the Great Smoky Mountains.  The 1994 expanded edition is still in print and still popular because so many amazing people and events have taken place in and around the Smokies. The first edition of this book, It Happened in the Great Smokies, came out in 2004. It has shorter essays and more illustrations, making it more accessible, less in depth, but still fascinating. Here you will find interesting characters ranging from Dolly Parton to Sequoyah, from botanist William Bartram to long-hunter Stuart Bradley, from T’Sali to Horace Kephart. This is Michael R. Bradley’s third book. He is a retired history professor who lives in Tullahoma, Tennessee, and has hiked and camped in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for almost sixty years.


Hill Women: Finding Family and a Way Forward in the Appalachian Mountains by Cassie Chambers. New York: Ballantine Books/Penguin Random House, 2020. 304 pages. Hardback in dust jacket, $27.00.

This is the autobiography of Cassie Chambers Armstrong, a woman in her middle thirties who is the Vice-Chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party and a candidate for the Louisville Metro Council in District 8. She is a lawyer for Kaplan, Johnson, Abate & Bird. Her mom grew up in Owsley County, Kentucky, and gave birth to her while she was a student at Berea College. She grew up in Berea through her sophomore year in high school, and then continued her studies at United World College, Wellesley University, Yale, the London School of Economics and Harvard Law School. She received a Skadden Fellowship to do legal work with survivors of domestic abuse in rural Kentucky. “Women in Kentucky’s Appalachian community come into focus in lawyer Chambers’s powerful debut memoir, which aims to put a human face on a stereotyped region. . . . This is a passionate memoir, one that honors Appalachia’s residents.”Publishers Weekly. “A family memoir that celebrates the inspiration of strong women within a rural culture most often characterized as patriarchal . . . [Chambers tells] stories that illuminate the hardworking spirit and flashes of hope among the populace, the women in particular.”Kirkus Reviews. “Cassie Chambers tells the story of the women in the mountains of Kentucky who nurtured her, as well as her own journey to become a fierce defender of Appalachian women. This is a book that teaches us about service and gratitude, family and the tenuousness of belonging, and the power of education, loyalty, and home.”Steven Stoll.


Conversations with Dorothy Allison edited by Mae Miller Claxton. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, a 2019 paperback reprint of 2012 release. 200 pages with an Index, Works Cited, and Chronology. Trade paperback, $25.00.

Ever since Dorothy Allison burst onto the literary scene in 1992 with her semi-autobiographical novel, Bastard Out of Carolina, the Greenville, South Carolina, daughter of a fifteen-year-old waitress and National Merit Scholar has been acknowledged as not just one of America’s foremost lesbian authors, but simply a great American author. What a treat it is to have a book of 18 interviews of her! Now those who have never been around Dorothy Allison know that this cannot be a boring book. I mean, there are straight shooters, and then, in a whole other universe, there is Dorothy Allison who will let you have it in the starkest terms! From 1993 until 2009, these interviews not only chart her life, but reveal stimulating insights into the writing and publishing processes and the role of sexuality, class, race, and the feminist movement in society. Editor Mae Miller Claxton teaches at Western Carolina University.


Conversations with Ron Rash edited by Mae Miller Claxton and Rain Newcomb. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, a 2019 paperback reprint of a 2017 release. 230 pages with an Index, Chronology and Additional Resources. Trade paperback, $25.00.

Those of us who have been around Ron Rash know that he is full of good stories – like the one of his realization that when his grandfather “read” him The Cat and the Hat it came out differently each time, unlike when his mother read the book. This was his first clue that his grandfather could not really read the words. The editors have chosen Rash’s conversations with people he is really comfortable talking with, like Joyce Compton Brown, his English professor at Gardner Webb University, and Jeff Daniel Marion and Jesse Graves, both East Tennessee poets. But they have also chosen four interviewers from other countries that illustrate the world-wide appeal of a writer whose works have been translated into fourteen different languages. An interview that was aired on NPR demonstrates Rash’s national appeal in the United States. The subjects of the interviews range from the connection between his work as a writer and his penchant for long-distance running to his life as both a student and a teacher. The interviews span fifteen years and are arranged so they illuminate his life in very roughly chronological order. Editor Mae Miller Claxton is a professor at Western Carolina University, where Ron Rash teaches, and Rain Newcomb is a lecturer at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College who was a graduate student at Western Carolina.


In Search of Appalachia by Nancy Brown Diggs. Lanham, Maryland: Hamilton/Rowman & Littlefield, 2019. 210 pages with an Index and References. Trade paperback. $24.99.

Nancy Brown Diggs lives in Dayton, Ohio, and has a PhD in East Asian Studies from Union Institute in Cincinnati. She has written books about charter schools, Japanese people, and Northern Ireland. “Having written several books that touched on other cultures,” she writes in her introduction to this book, “I thought it was time to look at one closer to my own, geographically, that is.” This book takes a chronological approach, starting with the white Europeans who moved into our region, although her index does list four pages that touch upon the Cherokees, and nine pages that touch upon African-Americans. Of those nine, two deal with music, two with coal, and two deal with “heroin addiction among.” The ten chapters in the book cover subjects like music and coal and faith and migration. Two focus on addiction. The last chapter deals with future prospects, and quotes Michael Bloomberg. “In Search of Appalachia paints an intimate and respectful portrait of the people of Appalachia. In a conversational tone enlivened with entertaining anecdotes and interviews, Diggs illustrates the spiritual and cultural values unique to Appalachians and shows how they have survived the many challenges they have faced.” - Bob Taft, former Governor of Ohio.


Look Abroad, Angel: Thomas Wolfe and the Geographies of Longing by Jedidiah Evans. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2020. 252 pages with a Bibliography, Notes, and a few graphics. Hardback with a pictorial cover, $54.95.

The basic thrust and thesis of this book is to illuminate Thomas Wolfe as a writer who was influenced by spending time in Europe, especially Germany and maintaining contact with that continent and also as a writer who impacted literary sensibility in Germany, Australia, and beyond. In case you are skeptical of Wolfe’s international impact, let me mention that the author of this book, Jedidiah Evans, teaches at the University of Sydney in Australia. 


Mountaineers Are Always Free: Heritage, Dissent, and a West Virginia Icon by Rosemary V. Hathaway.  Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 2020. 276 pages with an Index, Notes, Bibliography, photos and graphics. Trade paperback, $25.99.

In addition to West Virginia University, colleges and universities in Oklahoma, Maryland, Texas, Vermont, Colorado, Oregon, North Carolina, and Kentucky have mountaineer mascots, but none of those states have as their state motto, “Mountaineers Are Always Free.” Books have been written about the concept of “hillbilly,” but I know of no others that address the folklore of the “mountaineer” concept which is clearly distinct. The first three chapters consider the whole idea of a mountaineer, and the last two focus in on the WVU mascot and controversies that surrounded, for example, the first two female mountaineers. “Folklorist Rosemary Hathaway’s well-researched and engaging book explores the evolution of the WVU ‘mascot’ the Mountaineer from its preindustrial origins to the present. Imaginatively analyzing personal, local, and national sources, Hathaway reveals how the ongoing transformations of the Mountaineer have both built upon and challenged regional and national stereotypes in ways that reflect competing conceptions of freedom and identity.” - Anthony Harkins, author of Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon. “Rosemary Hathaway has written a well-crafted and thoroughly researched narrative with nuance, a strong historical foundation, and important analysis. Mountaineers Are Always Free has both relevance to the current political moment and the power to endure.” - Emily Hilliard, West Virginia State Folklorist. The author, Rosemary V. Hathaway, grew up in an Ohio family whose parents were both West Virginia natives and WVU graduates, The author now teaches at WVU.


Ailing in Place: Environmental Inequities and Health Disparities in Appalachia by Michele Morrone. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2020. 204 pages with Index, Notes, Suggestions for Further Reading, Resources, Discussion Questions, and appendices. Hardback with pictorial cover, $55.00.

The title of this book says it all. Water quality, waste disposal resources, polluted air, and devastated land, sometimes exacerbated by natural disasters, do affect public and personal health. This book provides a much-needed primer on this subject in Appalachia. “Ailing in Place should be a reference book in the Appalachia section of every library in the country. Morrone presents one of the most informative compilations and potential correlations leading to exposures and adverse health effects to the residents of Appalachia I have ever seen.”—Dr. Carolyn Harvey. “Ailing in Place provides a timely new resource for Appalachian health reference, particularly for those interested in the intersection of environmental health and Appalachian studies.”—F. Douglas Scutchfield. Michele Morrone directs the Appalachian Rural Health Institute at Ohio University where she is a professor of environmental health. She has co-authored two previous books, one on environmental justice in Appalachia and the other on food safety.


Backpacking Overnights: North Georgia Mountains, Southeast Tennessee by Jim Parham.  Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2019. 208 pages with maps, photos, and appendices. Trade paperback, $19.00.

Author Jim Parham returns to his native North Georgia, after publishing umpteen hiking and road biking and mountain biking guides. This book takes you on 38 Georgia trails and ten nearby Tennessee hikes in length from three to twenty-one miles on each trail or segment of a longer trail. Jim Parham has this whole hiking guide thing down pat. He gives at least one map, photo, and basic information box for each trail along with an elevation chart. In the box is the elevation change both directions, the mileage, the difficulty, the land manager, etc. The hike write-ups are interesting and thorough as well as succinct. Whatever you want is here – wild and scenic rivers, wilderness, a bald, views, you name it.


Insider’s Guide to North Carolina’s Mountains, Including Asheville, Biltmore Estate, Cherokee, and the Blue Ridge Parkway, Eleventh Edition by Constance E. Richards and Kenneth L. Richards. Guilford, Connecticut: Globe Pequot, 2020. 400 pages with an Index, maps, and color photos. Trade paperback, $24.95.

Nine chapters cover the basics from shopping and dining to kids’ attractions and scenic attractions, and from accommodations to arts and crafts. For each of these chapters, this guide mostly goes county to county covering Western North Carolina’s 18 counties. Each entry is a short paragraph facilitating easy browsing. The authors, neither kin nor married to each other, despite their common last names, are both prolific writers with international experience who live in Western North Carolina.


A Potter’s Progress: Emanuel Suter and the Business of Craft by Scott Hamilton Suter. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 2020. 149 pages with an Index, Bibliography, Notes, Appendix, and color and black-and-white photos. Hardback in dust jacket, $39.00.

Emanuel Suter (1833-1902) was born on a Rockingham County farm in the Shenandoah Valley and engaged in farming from an early age. His interest in turning pots soon became a side economic interest and then blossomed into a full-time pursuit when he moved to Harrisonburg and began operating a thriving industrial company producing functional pottery for the market. This book was written by Mr. Suter’s great-great-grandson who is an English professor in Rockingham County at Bridgewater College, a denominational college of the Mennonite faith that Emanuel Suter followed and advanced.


East Tennessee Newsmakers: Where Are They Now by Georgiana Vines. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 2019. 219 pages with photos and an Appendix. Trade paperback, $29.95.

This is a collection of columns written in the Knoxville News Sentinel about former newsmakers to give readers a sense of how their lives have evolved since they were in the news. The categories are politicians, University of Tennessee personalities, Great Smoky Mountains National Park leaders, media personalities, and folks around town. The author, Georgiana Vines, is also not in the news as much as previously when she was a regular features writer for the News Sentinel.  


Conversations with Robert Morgan by Randall Wilhelm and Jesse Graves. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press: 2019. 244 pages with an Index, Chronology, Additional Resources and Selected Bibliography. Trade paperback, $25.00.

Who do you get to put this book together?  Robert Morgan has published 30, yes, thirty, books. Not just poetry, stories, and novels, but non-fiction as well. Actually, Randall Wilhelm and Jesse Graves are the perfect pair of writers to do this, based on their deep and impressive familiarity with what could only be called Robert Morgan’s oeuvre. Jesse Graves, who grew up near Sharp’s Chapel, Tennessee, comes at this work with a real understanding, not just of Robert Morgan as a long-time Ivy League professor, but as a writer who grew up in a family without a car whose life was transformed when a bookmobile started coming to a church near the farm where he lived. Randall Wilhelm, in contrast, grew up on the Clemson University campus, but, like Graves, is a poet and literary scholar. O.K., you are still skeptical? These interviews span five decades! To begin with, Robert Morgan is one of the most scintillating conservationists I’ve ever talked with. I remember interviewing Robert Morgan decades ago, and when asked about his family, he gave me the birth and death dates of each member going back several generations and addressed the fascinating social class variations of his forbears. I mean, I have to look up the years that my mom and my dad died! Does Robert Morgan have the stories? Oh, yes, like his phone call from Oprah Winfrey telling him that she had selected his novel, Gap Creek. Is this a fun and fascinating book about a truly significant contemporary Appalachian and American writer? Indeed!


America’s Johannesburg: Industrialization and Racial Transformation in Birmingham by Bobby M. Wilson. Athens: University of Georgia Press, a 2019 paperback edition of a 2000 release. 292 pages with a new foreword by Ruth Wilson Gilmore, an Index, Bibliography, notes at the end of each chapter, charts, maps, and photos. Trade paperback, $29.95.

Nicknamed “Bombingham,” the city of Birmingham was a center of civil rights protest and repression more than any other Southern metropolitan area. This book asks why and answers that no other industrial city depended more upon the exploitation of Black labor from the days of slavery to an era with a different kind of dependence. “A fresh and original interpretation. The book contributes substantially to the historiography of industrial growth in Alabama. The author provides much insight into the racial dimensions of Birmingham's development. A pioneering work.” -- W. David Lewis. “America's Johannesburg is comprehensive, theoretically-driven, and convincing. America's Johannesburg contributes to the fields of urban studies, geography, and historical sociology by providing a case example of how racial oppression manifests itself in historically and geographically contingent ways. The text will be useful to scholars interested in the micro and macro processes that institutionalized and organized racial inequality in the U.S. southern economy.”  -- Ethnic and Racial Studies. “A powerful addition to academic fields as varied as southern studies and Marxian critical theory. Wilson has written a book of uncommon depth. His melding of critical race theory, Marxian critique, and regional analysis is effective and engrossing. Wilson's work is fascinating and well-written.” -- Economic Geography. “Wilson has constructed a theoretical and conceptual framework that can be used to study the Black experience across time, as well as at specific moments in time. -- Urban Studies. “This book is destined to make the 'required reading list' on Alabama history.”-- Alabama Review. The author is professor emeritus at the University of Alabama and the author of Race and Place in Birmingham: The Civil Rights and Neighborhood Movements.



Hillbilly Hustle by Wesley Browne. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 2020. 263 pages. Trade paperback, $19.99.

This is an autobiographical novel – opps, sorry, Wes -  I mean this is a contemporary novel that showcases Wesley Browne’s vivid imagination. The protagonist, Knox Thompson, is a Richmond, Kentucky, pizza parlor owner who gets involved in selling drugs along with the pizzas. What could go wrong? "A top-notch debut with a winning narrative voice and unexpectedly multidimensional characters." – Kirkus. “Wes Browne dishes up a smart, tasty debut delivered in an assured voice, one that is sure to create a buzz among readers who like their comedy dry and the pace of their tales brisk.” - Robert Gipe. “A narrative rolled as expertly as Willie Nelson’s nightcap. It takes shape between breakneck page turns and well-timed punch lines.” - David Joy.  “With masterful pacing and brilliant dialogue, Wes Browne’s compelling debut novel renders the deadly terrain of Appalachian noir with humor and heart. Don’t miss this savage, tender, hilarious read.” - Pamela Duncan. “Holy Hell! Move over Bible thumpers, Hillbilly Hustle is a religious experience to be read, taught, and talked about for years to come, piling on the conflict, the tension, and a cast of unforgettable rural Kentucky characters that are as authentic as the dialogue and the landscape that it’s rooted within. Wes Browne has written a satirical barn burner of a debut novel.” - Frank Bill. Wesley Browne is a lawyer who is the co-owner of Madison County, Kentucky’s top three pizza joints and a couple more in adjoining counties. As a patron of the regional literary arts, he founded and still hosts the Pages and Pints Reading Series at his Apollo Pizza venues.


The Girl Behind the Red Rope by Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Revell/Baker Publishing Group, 2019. 336 pages. Hardback in dust jacket, $24.99.

Rose is the girl behind the red rope in this novel, and she is six years old when her church family escapes what they view as a world-wide scourge and resettles at Haven Valley in the Tennessee hills. After a brief first chapter, the story picks up when this religious community has lived in Haven Valley for thirteen years following their religion based on fear of venturing beyond their red rope or disobeying any of the church’s rules. The drama comes as Rose slowly begins to see beyond the confines of the Valley and her community. How will her future unfold? Themes of religiosity, fear, family, and freedom are inescapable as the reader delves into this situation. "In this mind-bending thriller, father-daughter writing team Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker triumph in their faultlessly structured and deconstructed world of religious extremism. . . . the book's suspenseful plot drives the story forward at a racing pace, making this a riveting novel that will long haunt readers." - Booklist, Starred Review. Ted Dekker has written over 40 books that together have sold more than ten million copies worldwide. NPR readers nationwide put him in their list of the top fifty thriller authors, and he has received several awards as a religious writer. He was born in Indonesia of missionary parents and now lives in Nashville. His oldest daughter, Rachelle, has published a series of novels and two that stand alone. Both co-authors have won Christy Awards. This is their first collaboration.


Echoes of the Fall by Hank Early. New York: Crooked Lane, 2019. 345 pages. Hardback in dust jacket, $26.99.

This is the third Earl Marcus mystery from Hank Early. The action starts up right after Marcus has lost a close race for Sheriff to a lackey of the most corrupt politician in his North Georgia community and picks up when Marcus finds a body and a letter in his front lawn. The plot thickens when he discovers a connection with a nearby private school surrounded by barbed wire and locked gates. "Clever...The past hangs sheavily...adding depth to a story heavy on psychological introspection...In the end, it's the characters that the reader will remember. Early does a fine job blending crime and the Southern gothic." —Publishers Weekly. "A flawed, likable protagonist uses violent methods to solve a complex, compulsively readable case."  
Kirkus Reviews. The author grew up in North Georgia and now lives in Central Alabama where he teaches in a middle school.


The Moonshiner’s Daughter by Donna Everhart. New York: Kensington, 2019. 368 pages. Trade paperback with dust jacket flaps, $15.95.

Set in the Brushy Mountains of Wilkes County, North Carolina, in the 1960s, this novel centers on sixteen-year-old Jessie Sasser, a young woman who resents her father’s way of life as a moonshiner and blames him for the accident that killed her mother a dozen years earlier. But when her bitterness leads to a plan to destroy her father’s stills, a lot of action commences. “Rousing...movingly explores Jessie's struggle with her eating disorder, viscerally describing her twin desires for nourishment and purging in relation to a deep need to define  herself...Everhart's story of self-discovery, rife with colorful characters and a satisfying twist, will thrill readers."- Publishers Weekly starred review. This is Donna Everhart’s fourth novel following on novels that have been USA Today best-sellers, Indie next and Okra Picks and Southeastern Library Award winners. She lives near Raleigh, North Carolina, where she grew up.


Fractured Truth by Susan Furlong. New York: Kensington, 2019. 280 pages with a Reading Group Guide. Trade paperback, $15.95.

Although McCreary County is a real Kentucky county, this book is set in a fictional McCreary County in Tennessee. It is the middle book in the Bone Gap Travellers series. This book begins when a young woman’s remains are found in a mountain cave, and brand-new deputy sheriff, Brynn Callahan, an ex-Marine with PTSD, is charged with finding the killer. Brynn was born and raised in McCreary County as part of the tight-knit “Irish Travelers,” who immigrated from Ireland during the Great Famine and live secluded away in the county’s rural reaches. It doesn’t take long for her to discover that the murder victim is also part of her clan. “A harrowing tale of murder, bigotry, and redemption . . . whose twists and turns are complemented by raw descriptions of prejudice, physical pain, and the horrors of addiction.” – Kirkus Reviews. Susan Furlong has written three Georgia Peach Mysteries and two Novel Idea Mysteries. She lives in Central Illinois.


Shattered Justice by Susan Furlong. New York, Kensington, 2019. 304 pages with Discussion Questions. Hardback in dust jacket, $26.00.

The first message is found in a playground where two human ears hang from the monkey bars. Deputy Sheriff  Brynn Callahan cannot help but notice the earring because she saw it on the ear of a man she met at a party the night before! The second message, at a park pavilion, is next to a human tongue. She cannot help but think that the next message will be accompanied by an eyeball. That makes her even more anxious to solve this crime spree. This is the third crime novel in the Bone Gap Travellers Series set in East Tennessee. The author, Susan Furlong, was raised in North Dakota, went to Montana State, and lived in Ohio, Massachusetts, and Texas before settling in Central Illinois.


When You See Me by Lisa Gardner. New York: Dutton, 2020. 400 pages. Hardback in dust jacket, $27.00

Lisa Gardner is one of America’s most popular and successful novelists. She has published 13 romance novels using the pseudonym of Alicia Scott, three stand alone thrillers, three in the Tessa Leoni series, fifteen in the Detective D. D. Warren series, and nine in the FBI Special Agent Kimberly Quincy series. Three of her novels have become TV movies, and several have made it onto the New York Times bestseller lists, including the #1 spot. Lisa Garner was born and raised in Oregon and now lives in New Hampshire, but she set this thriller in North Georgia. Two of her favorite characters in previous series, D. D. Warren and Kimberly Quincy combine in this crime book along with previous character Flora Dane. "An emotionally powerful page-turner. Fans of kick-ass female investigators will be well satisfied."--Publishers Weekly.
“Lisa Gardner is a master of the psychological thriller that dives deep into the minds of characters that experience trauma and come out stronger from the experience.”--Associated Press. “This is top-notch suspense by a best-selling master of the genre.”--Booklist starred review. "The forensic analysis of shallow graves can unearth a lot of clues, but When You See Me also looks at the ways evil is handed down from one generation to the next. It’s a mystery that will keep you up late at night, haunted by the events within its pages.”—Bookpage.


Bound for Murder by Victoria Gilbert. New York: Crooked Lane Books, 2020. 311 pages. Hardback in dust jacket, $26.99.

This is the fourth in Gilbert’s Blue Ridge Library Mystery Series. The protagonist of this novel as well as the others is Amy Webber, the director of the Taylorsford Public Library. Her friend “Sunny” Fields is running for mayor, but a body is found on her grandparents organic farm where they were part of a 1960s commune. Amy Webber puts her planned wedding aside to see if she can solve the murder in a way that leaves her friend free of suspicion. “The plot builds to a complex but satisfying conclusion. Cozy fans will hope Amy will return soon.”—Publishers Weekly. "Series fans will enjoy the ongoing shenanigans...Newbies with an appreciation for small town politics (and an interlibrary loan mulligan) will have no trouble starting here."
Booklist. “Another deftly crafted mystery buff's delight by a true master of the genre.—Midwest Book Review. “The murder mystery is both well plotted and clever enough to keep the most seasoned of mystery readers guessing.”—My Shelf. The author, Victoria Gilbert grew up near the Virginia Blue Ridge where her novels are set and now lives in North Carolina.


Weedeater: An Illustrated Novel by Robert Gipe. Athens: Ohio University Press, a 2020 paperback reprint of a 1918 release. 256 pages, illustrated by the author. Trade paperback, $18.95.

This novel fills the gap between today’s graphic novels and yesterday’s bland, words-only, efforts. It should appeal to both kinds of readers. Nobody has captured the raw realities of life deep in the Appalachian Mountains as faithfully as this author, known to friends simply as “Gipe.”  Whether it is dialogue, plot, or setting, Gipe has it just right – unflinching and not worried about romanticizing or stereotyping, just telling it like it really is. “Robert Gipe is the real deal: a genuine storyteller, a writer of wit and style, wisdom and heart. His characters are as alive as anybody I know, and his sentences jump off the page. I find myself reading them out loud to whoever’s handy and saying, ‘This is how it’s done.’”—Jennifer Haigh. “Weedeater is about how to go on when your heart is broken. With a style worthy of Ray Hicks, [he was not an author, but rather a storyteller from way back on Beech Mountain] author Robert Gipe makes his characters Dawn and Gene stare straight at you and tell what they have to tell. It is impossible to turn away from them. Their compelling tale of current Appalachia, told through true and vital language and with great compassion, is necessary reading for everyone.”—Carrie Mullins. “(A) complicated, beautiful, heartbreaking, and hilarious story…. Gipe manages to craft characters who look around and see drug addiction and extractive industries and dysfunction—and who are funny and fierce and reflective.”—Appalachian Journal. “The dialogue, with its distinct Appalachian dialect, charges Gipe’s illustrated story of a tight-knit community in coal country, in which people struggle to make ends meet, raise families, maintain friendships, and survive the opioid epidemic. The many cartoons add emotional complexity to the evocative language and terrific character development.”—Booklist. The author, Robert Gipe, grew up in Kingsport, Tennessee, and, until recently ran the Appalachian Center at Southeast Community College in Harlan County, Kentucky.


Wildland by Rebecca Hodge. New York: Crooked Lane Books, 2020. 336 pages. Hardback in dust jacket, $26.99.

Kat Jamison comes to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia from Alexandria as a widow whose breast cancer has returned.  Her seclusion and self-reflection are challenged first by her friendship with two children who live nearby, Lily and Nirav, and then by the ravages of a wildfire. "[An] assured debut...Those looking for an inspirational story about one woman coming to terms with life and death will be rewarded."—Publishers Weekly. "Alongside the taut suspense, Hodge has created a likeable, sympathetic character in Kat”—Booklist. “Hodge’s band of characters pop off the page—adults, children, and dogs alike . . . A heart-warming page-turner not to be missed!" —Kathryn Craft.Storytelling at its best . . . A detailed and gripping page-turner you won’t want to put down but will also want to slow down and savor.” —Barbara Davis. “Gripping and filled with deep emotional truths, Wildland will lead you to the brink and back.”—Nancy Peacock. The author, Rebecca Hodge, is a veterinarian who lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.


Daughter of the Valley by Stephen Hupp. Parkersburg, West Virginia: Hilltop Publishing, 2019. 407 pages. Trade paperback, $19.99.,

Set in the Ohio Valley, this novel created a ghost that haunts a small town and has inspired a folk tale. A professor at the local college decides to investigate and enlists the help of a couple of students. What would go wrong? The author, Stephen Hupp is the Director of the Library at Parkersburg (West Virginia) Community College.


Wings in the Night by Stephen Hupp. Parkersburg, West Virginia: Hilltop Publishing, 2019. 140 pages. Trade paperback, $16.00.

This novel is a sequel to Hupp’s Daughter of the Valley.  The professor character from the previous book, Kit Tiffin, and her students take on a non-fictional West Virginia folk legend. It centers around Mothman, a seven-foot-tall flying creature with red eyes and large wings that several citizens of Point Pleasant, West Virginia,  swore they encountered in 1967. The setting of his novel, however, is contemporary. There is a statue of Mothman in downtown Point Pleasant.


Affair at Boreland Springs by Kay Meredith. Willow Spring, North Carolina: Realization Press, Second Edition, 2019. 383 pages. Trade paperback, $14.95.

The Boreland Springs Hotel was built in 1908 about twenty miles east of Parkersburg, West Virginia, at the site of a mineral spring. After Frank Grimm, the son of the owner, murdered another man, reputedly over a woman in 1918, guests began to report that the hotel was haunted. It was sold in 1932 and reopened in 1934 until 1938 and again reopened from 1940 to 1941, and burned down in 1967. This novel centers around a cross-class romance between the son of the hotel owner and a woman who works there as a housekeeper. A finely crafted, heartbreaking story set in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. Historically authentic with engaging characters.” – the late Ken Hechler.  “Affair at Boreland Springs captures the strength of character, practical ingenuity, and quiet grace of the Appalachian people. Set during the giddy days of the Roaring 20s and plowing headlong into the devastation of the Great Depression, this is an historical novel that could be taken from today's headlines. Ms. Meredith weaves all of these aspects amid a tapestry of love, murder, and intrigue that leaves you captivated by the whole experience.” – Nancy Thomas. The author of this novel, Kay Meredith, was born nearby, and her mother and aunts worked at the hotel.


A Distant Whistle by Kay Meredith. Willow Spring, North Carolina: Realization Press, Second Edition, 2019. 369 pages. Trade paperback, $14.95.

This is an historical novel set in the early 20th Century. The protagonist, Nev Phillips, grows up in an abusive West Virginia family near the Ohio River. He is drawn to the river steamboats, but once hired on is racked by guilt for leaving his younger siblings to deal with their mother’s wrath. The great 1913 flood and the Spanish Flu epidemic provide an historical context for this drama. The author, Kay Meredith, was inspired to write this novel by her father who, in the following decades, became the youngest steamboat engineer on the Ohio. She was part of the U. S. Dressage Team and wrote articles about that sport before writing this, her first novel. She now lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.


Goshen Road by Bonnie Proudfoot. Athens, Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, 2020. 220 pages. Trade paperback, $19.95.

This novel begins in West Virginia in 1967 with a logging accident and Lux Cranfield’s courtship and marriage to Dessie Price. Dessie’s little sister, Billie ends up with Lux’s friend, Ray Munn and the story follows them and their children for the next twenty years. “Proudfoot is a talented wordsmith, and her lyrical writing is the highlight of her debut novel. She details the landscape of the mountains and dirt roads with tenderness and detail, and creates complex, rich characters.”—Booklist. Goshen Road is a rich, multigenerational tale exploring women’s expanding roles in a rural environment. The women are afforded few opportunities here, and they often settle for much less than they deserve, but they are resourceful and ultimately as resilient and reliable as the untamable land.”—Marie Manilla. “Bonnie Proudfoot writes the kind of book that means something, a book that carries weight in a way that only serious fiction can. Her words delight and move, but they do much more than that. She interrogates the truth of the people and place of Appalachia. Her debut should be savored by those who admire timeless fiction.”—Charles Dodd White. The author, Bonnie Proudfoot, is a glass artist and poet who moved to Southeast Ohio in 1979, and has taught at Hocking College. This is her first book.