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October 2019 Reviews

October 2019 Reviews


The Wonderfully Wild Ones by Adeline Schneid. Terra Alta, West Virginia: Headline Kids/ Headline Books, 2019. 32 pages illustrated throughout by Ashley Belote. 8.5” X 11” hardback with pictorial cover, $16.95.

The wonderfully wild ones of this book are siblings, Teresa, Kolbe, and Siena. They are young lions who escape from a zoo and explore West Virginia. “I adored the story of The Wonderfully Wild Ones by Adeline Schneid. The plot is fun, interesting and full of adventure as the lions cause chaos at the zoo. The characters are smart, funny and easy for anyone to be entertained by their antics. The illustrations by Ashley Belote are colorful and tell the story through the images just as efficiently as Schneid's story. My favorite thing about The Wonderfully Wild Ones are the lessons kids will learn about the importance of freedom and not taking those closest to you for granted. I recommend The Wonderfully Wild Ones to anyone with children and hope that Schneid and Belote will team up for many more stories like this in the future. -  Amy Raines. The author, Adelilne Schneid, teaches school in Monongalia County, West Virginia. She is a life-long resident of West Virginia with a masters from WVU. 


A Blue Sky A Butterfly A Sneaky Spider and . . .The Bug! by Ann Weaver. Parsons, West Virginia: McClain Printing Company, 2019. 14 pages fully illustrated by Sharon Hildebrand. 8.5” X 11” staple-bound paperback, $9.95.

Life is a challenge for a junebug. Enemies range from old ladies to spiders, but a beautiful butterfly comes to the rescue.



The Secrets They Kept by Stewart Goodwin. Sandston, Virginia: self-published, 2019. 331 pages. Trade paperback. $24.00.

The author, Stewart Goodwin, was born in Clifton Forge, Virginia, but left there as a child. In this novel, her protagonist Susan Leigh, also leaves that town as a child, but gets tired of the Washington, D.C., rat race, and decides to move back to her childhood home despite the disapproval of her siblings. What could go wrong? This is the eighth book by Goodwin whose careers were in law enforcement and education. She currently lives in Henrico County, Virginia.


The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. New York: Viking/Penguin Random House, 2019. 400 pages. Hardback in dust jacket, $28.00.

Jojo Moyes, whose novels have been number 1 best sellers in twelve countries, including America’s New York Times best-seller lists, and have been translated into forty-six languages, read a story in the Smithsonian magazine about the Packhorse Librarians of Eastern Kentucky. She quickly and easily decided her next novel would be about them. She visited Eastern Kentucky three times from 2017 until this year, rode horses along the trails that the Packhorse Librarians followed, stayed in a tiny mountain-side cabin, and talked with legions of people. “I have never enjoyed writing a book like I enjoyed this one,” she has said. For this novel she chose five women as her main characters. One an Englishwoman like herself, who marries a local man, another an African-American, one handicapped, all strong and self-reliant. The title is a tribute to the poem, “The Giver of Stars,” by Amy Lowell (1874-1925), which can easily be viewed as a feminist love-letter. The novel deals with themes of feminism, race, social class, and the battle between knowledge and ignorance. “Though she made her mark writing contemporary romance, Moyes proves just as adept at historical fiction. . . The Giver of Stars is a celebration of love, but also of reading, of knowledge, of female friendship, of the beauty of our most rural corners and our enduring American grit: the kind of true grit that can be found in the hills of Kentucky and on the pages of this inspiring book.”—The Washington Post. “Timeless, Jojo Moyes' greatest work yet, and one of the most exquisitely-writtenand absolutely compulsorynovels about women ever told.” —Lisa Taddeo.  “With characters so real they feel like dear friends and a compelling storyline, this is a beautiful, special novel. I loved it and didn’t want it to end!”—Liane Moriarty.  The Pack Horse Library Project was part of the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) that lasted from 1935 until 1943. It employed 200 people and reached more than 100,000 residents. This book appeared on the New York Times bestseller lists in Hardback Fiction as soon as it was published.


A Casualty of Indifference by David Selby. Terra Alta, West Virginia: Publisher Page/Headline Books, 2019. 216 pages. Trade paperback, $19.95.

David Selby is a film, television, and stage actor, best known for his roles in the daytime soap opera, Dark Shadows, which ran from 1968-71, and the prime-time production, Falcon Crest.  He played the role, Joshua Williams, in The Waltons and has had roles in 35 tv shows in all.  He also has had roles in 28 movies, most recently Back Fork (2019). He is a native of Morgantown, West Virginia, and earned both bachelors and masters degrees in theater from West Virginia University and a PhD from Southern Illinois University. He is the author of ten books including memoirs, poetry collections, plays, and novels. This novel, A Casualty of Indifference, is a murder mystery. The protagonist is Mary Ellen Heater whose grandfather discovers the body of Mary Ellen’s sister Trudy, while searching for recyclables in a dump. The two survivors set about trying to find out who killed Trudy. The setting is West Virginia’s Tug Fork Valley, and marijuana plays a big part in this story.


Fare Thee Well, Harvey’s Creek by Karl L. Stewart. Terra Alta, West Virginia: Publishers Page/Headline Books, 2019. 208 pages. Trade paperback, $19.95.

Like Stu Carter, Jr., the protagonist of this novel, the author left West Virginia as a teen. In the late sixties, the author served in the Green Berets, an experience that gives him some insight into the conflicts and trauma experienced by the fictional Stu Carter, Jr’s father during World War II. This novel is a sequel to Up Harvey’s Creek. The author’s first two books are loosely based on the life of his great-grandfather, of Choctaw descent, and the Hatfield-McCoy feud. The author lives in rural Wisconsin.


Up Harvey’s Creek by Karl L. Stewart. Terra Alta, West Virginia: Publisher’s Page/Headline Books,2018. 207 pages. Trade paperback.

This is a novel of both pathos and humor. The protagonist, “Junior” Carter, is eleven-years-old and frightened by his erratic and violent father who suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome as a result of his experience fighting in World War II. Junior seeks solace in the woods that surrounds his rural West Virginia home. The author, Karl Stewart, left rural West Virginia as a teenager, served in the Green Berets, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin. He taught high school English and Social Studies, and is now retired and living in rural Wisconsin.



More Stories of a West Virginia Doctor for Kith and Kin by Greenbrier Almond. Parsons, West Virginia: McClain Printing Company, 2019.  220 pages. Trade paperback, $15.00.

This is the seventh book in this series. The first was by Dr. Harold Almond, but the subsequent ones have been written by his son, also a doctor, Greenbrier Almond, now retired. As the sub-title states, the emphasis of this book is on Dr. Almond’s children and grand-children and the travels that he and his wife of 43 years have undertaken. Dr. Almond lives in Buckhannon, West Virginia.


Jewel of the Meadow: History of Blue Sulphur Springs by Irma Smith Cadle. Grassy Meadows, West Virginia: Grassy Meadows Publishing Company, 2019. 60 pages with an Index, Bibliography, and color photos. Trade paperback, $11.95.

The Blue Sulphur Springs Pavilion is a Greek Revival structure that stands over a spring, now in the middle of a field. It was constructed in 1834 as part of the Blue Sulphur Springs Resort in southern Greenbrier County, West Virginia, where the Kitchen Creek and Sawmill Hollow valleys meet. It closed in 1859 and became Allegheny College, a school for Baptist ministers that closed two years later. In the Civil War, both sides used the property as a camp and hospital, but in 1864 the Union Army burned all but the Pavilion to prevent the Confederates from further using it. The author of this book is an avid preservationist who grew up in the area and attended a one-room school nearby. After a forty-five-year career in business in Washington, D.C., she has returned to Grassy Meadows, West Virginia.


An Allegheny Triumph of Justice: Carrie Williams’ Courageous Fight for Equal Rights in the Early Jim Crow Era by Kathleen Jackson Constantini. Charleston, West Virginia: 35th Star Publishing, 2019. 213 pages with an Index, Bibliography, and photos. Trade paperback, $19.95.

In 1892, Carrie Williams was the wife of a coal miner and pregnant with her third child. She was also the African-American teacher at the Coketon Colored School in Tucker County, West Virginia. When the county school board shortened the school term for African-American students to three months, she objected, and John Robert Clifford, the first African-American lawyer admitted to the bar in West Virginia, litigated her case. They emerged triumphant six years later with a decision by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. This decision provided a crucial legal precedent that arguably had an important impact in preventing further erosion of educational opportunities during the Jim Crow era. The author, Kathleen Jackson Costantini, is a teacher, administrator, counselor and consultant on educational issues including using primary source documents in history and promoting educational opportunities among the underserved. She lives in New York City.


John Jenkins: American Revolutionary War Soldier: Pioneer of the Great Kanawha Valley by Karen J. Dunn. Parsons, West Virginia: McClain Printing Company, 2018. 82 pages with indexes, References, maps, illustrations, and photos. 8.5” X 11” trade paperback, $40.00.

The life of John Jenkins parallels that of many restless American pioneers who settled West Virginia.  He was born in Bedford County, Virginia, served in the Revolutionary War and then moved on to Greenbrier and Kanawha Counties in present-day West Virginia, then moved east to the part of Montgomery County, Virginia, that became Giles County. He died in 1830 and is buried in Fayette County, West Virginia. A great deal of research was done – especially in county seat records -  to try to determine his many moves, yet a clear picture just barely emerges.


Down on the Farm with Three Little Girls: An Autobiography by Dorothy E. Duty. Parsons, West Virginia: McClain Printing Company, 2018. 314 pages with photos. Trade paperback, $20.00.

When she was eight years old, in 1954, the author, Dorothy E. Duty, lost her mother to cancer so she and her two younger sisters were raised by their maternal grandparents. Their father worked at a steel mill in Wierton, West Virginia, two hours away. After high school, she worked as a phone operator in New Martinsville, West Virginia, and subsequently lived in Tennessee and New Mexico. These are her stories of growing up on a West Virginia farm.


Back of Beyond: A Horace Kephart Biography by George Ellison and Janet McCue. Gatlinburg, Tennessee: Great Smoky Mountains Association, 2019. 460 pages with an Index, Bibliography, a poem “Horace Kephart” by Robert Morgan, and an Introduction by Dan Pierce. Trade paperback, $14.95

In December 1903, Horace Kephart resigned – under duress - his position at the Saint Louis Mercantile Library.  Soon thereafter, his wife, Laura, and their six children - left without any financial support - moved to Ithaca, New York, to live with her parents. Then Kephart left for Dayton, Ohio, where his parents lived.  From there he traveled by himself to Dillsboro, North Carolina, in August of 1904. He lived the rest of his life in North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains. In the thirteen years he had served as a librarian in St. Louis, he had taken frequent camping trips and written on the subject. In the Smokies, he continued writing about experiencing the outdoors for periodicals and published Camping and Woodcraft, the definitive book on the subject at the time, in 1906. Camp Cookery followed in 1910 and Sporting Firearms in 1912. In 1913 he published Our Southern Highlanders, a report on the life of mountain people from a distinctively male perspective that complemented Emma Bell Miles’ The Spirit of the Mountains (1905).  He prominently championed the idea of a National Park in the Smokies and helped establish the route of the Appalachian Trail in the area. On April 2, 1931, he was killed in an automobile accident in Bryson City, North Carolina. “This long-awaited biography of Horace Kephart is so well written and informative that one reads it with the pleasure of a riveting novel and an admiration reserved for the finest scholarship. Back of Beyond is a triumph.” ~Ron Rash. “With affection and candor, McCue and Ellison reveal an intimate knowledge of Kephart’s ancestry, education, marriage, and career, his place in American literature and history, and his part in the founding of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.” ~Robert Morgan. “This meticulously researched and carefully considered book is a great contribution to the history and culture of the Southern Appalachians.” ~Charles Frazier. Although George Ellison came to the Smokies drama-free, perhaps nobody has lived a life that parallels that of Horace Kephart as closely as he has in this generation. Ellison hunts wildflowers unarmed, in contrast to Kephart who wrote extensively on hunting and firearms, but Ellison lives simply on property that adjoins the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and writes for periodicals, leads wildflower walks and has published several books, illustrated by his artist wife, Elizabeth. Since 1976, when Ellison wrote the introduction to the University of Tennessee Press edition of Our Southern Highlanders, he has been considered a Kephart expert. Like Kephart, Ellison’s co-author, Janet McCue, is a former Library Director, in Ithaca, no less, where Kephart was a student, worked in a library, and met his wife, the townie, Laura White Mack.  McCue has subsequently been a free-lance writer and researcher, much like Kephart, and has previously written about him. This book won the Thomas Wolfe Literary Award as the most outstanding book about Western North Carolina published in 2019.


The Battle of Hurricane Bridge, March 28, 1863, With the Firmness of Veterans by Philip Hatfield. Charleston, West Virginia, 35th Star Publishing, 2019. 283 pages with a Name Index, maps, photos, illustrations and appendixes. Trade paperback, $19.95.

Although this Civil War engagement has ordinarily been termed a skirmish, Hatfield argues that it deserves to be called a battle due to its significance and intensity despite its duration of only five hours. It was a victory for the Union Army’s 13th West Virginia Volunteer Infantry led by James William Johnson that engaged with the Confederate’s 8th and 16th Virginia Calvary, led by Albert Gallatin Jenkins. Johnson was from Coal’s Mouth, now St. Albans, West Virginia, located 13 miles east of present-day Hurricane, West Virginia, and Jenkins was from near present-day Huntington, West Virginia, 28 miles to the west.  The sub-title, “with the firmness of veterans,” is a tribute to the band of union soldiers who were less experienced than their Confederate counterparts, yet fought with equal ferocity. The bridge was on the vital James River and Kanawha Turnpike at the mouth of Hurricane Creek. The author, Dr. Philip Hatfield, is a native and resident of Hurricane, West Virginia, an Air Force Veteran and the author of five Civil War books.


Fatherless: A Memoir by Keith Maillard. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 2019. 231 pages. Trade paperback, $23.95.

Keith Maillard is a fabulous story-teller, the author of fourteen novels, set in both West Virginia and British Columbia, and a consummate scholar who has been teaching English at the University of British Columbia since 1989.  I knew that Mallard was born and raised in West Virginia and had lived in Canada since the Vietnam War era, but I didn’t realize that his father was Canadian or that he never knew his father.  This, Maillard’s first non-fiction book, is, like the title suggests, a memoir that seeks to come to grips with being fatherless. “This memoir is an astonishing act of generosity and tenacity, exploring the profound flaws of one family’s dynamics and the resiliency of the human spirit.”- Eden Robinson. “Fatherless is Keith Maillard’s haunting response to that most ancient curse: Why, father, did you desert me? How, father, should I love you?” - Clark Blaise. “Marvelous and brutally honest.” - Marc Harshman.


Don’t Tell’em You’re Cold: A Memoir of Poverty and Resilience by Katherine P. Manley. Scott Depot, West Virginia: Mountain State Press, 2019. 245 pages with photos and an Introduction by Cat Pleska. Trade paperback, $19.99.

In 1967, when she was in the 9th grade and her sister in the 5th, and her brother in the 3th, Kathy Manley’s mother left their home in the Verdunville coal camp in Logan County, West Virginia. Kathy now had to care for her disabled father, who sometimes begged in the streets, and her siblings by herself. As the sub-title states, this is a memoir of extreme poverty and inspiring resilience. “Her story rings with vibrancy and truth. Highly recommended.” – Homer Hickam. “Kathy Manley’s compelling memoir ought to be required reading for every person in America today—especially every person in high school. Not a shred of sentimentality or self-pity mars this beautifully written account of an Appalachian childhood spent in deepest poverty, yet Manley’s narrative is neither pitiful nor sad; it is courageous and loving, filled with hope for the future. Read this book.” – Lee Smith.


Talking Out of School by Lexsana Pilenski-Carr. Parsons, West Virginia: McClain Printing Company, 2019. Trade paperback, $17.95.

This is the memoir of a Harrison County, West Virginia, teacher, married to another teacher, whose writing style will irritate some and ingratiate others! Many will find it hilarious and enjoyable.


The Settlement of the Greater Greenbrier Valley, West Virginia: The People, Their Homeplaces and Their Lives on the Frontier by Fred Ziegler. Charleston, West Virginia: 35th Star Publishing, 2019. 145 pages with a Bibliography, tables, figures, chapter appendices and photos. 8.5” X 11” trade paperback, $24.95.

This study focuses on the 1770s when 583 families lived in the Greenbrier Valley on an average tract of land of 200 acres. This book covers all aspects of life in the Greenbrier Valley just before the Revolutionary War from remedies to roads and from mills to the military. After 37 years teaching geology at the University of Chicago, Fred Ziegler purchased Cook’s Old Mill in Monroe County and retired there in 2003. He has read about and researched the four counties of the Greenbrier Valley ever since.



All Present, Unaccounted For by Robert Flanagan. Winchester, Virginia: Connemara Press, 2018. 111 pages. Trade paperback, $18.00.

The author, Robert Flanagan, joined the Marines in 1953 and left the Corps in 1960 to join the Army. He retired in 1976, and, ten years later, moved to the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia.  He is the author of six previous books. Most of these poems deal with his service during the Vietnam War.


Alternate Centres of Being by Robert Flanagan. Winchester, Virginia: Connemara Press, 2019. 98 pages. Trade paperback, $17.00.

After retiring from the Army, Robert Flanagan received a Masters in Creative Writing at George Mason University and taught English at three Virginia colleges.  Since 1986 he has lived in the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia where he wrote a “Bits and Pieces” local newspaper column for nineteen years. This is his eighth book, including novels, a memoir, and two collections of his columns. This is a collection of over 40 poems that reflect a variety of his experiences and aspirations.


Technical Notes for Bird Government by Jonathan Minton. Carbondale, Illinois: Telemetry Press, 2018. 77 pages. Trade paperback, $15.00

Some super short, a few a couple of pages long, these poems come in all shapes as well as sizes. The first and last of the five sections do deal with birds, the last section is the title section.
“Testing the language of myth, the naturalist, and the historian, Jonathan Minton’s Technical Notes for Bird Government taps into a vast, skeletal architecture underpinning the hugeness of the world, and its wounded places where we vanish. Mapping its rifts and junctures, these poetic sequences emerge in surprising ways, at times coiling into themselves and at times unfurling fast to the edge of another sentence full of horizons and strange creatures. It’s a remarkable book. Reading it, one is in the presence of an electric, relentless intelligence.” --James Capozz. The author, Jonathan Minton, is an Associate Professor of English at Glenville State College in West Virginia. He is the editor of the journal, Word For/Word.



The Middle Ground: A Book of Western Virginia Frontier Short Stories by Shon A. Butler. Parsons, West Virginia: McClain Printing Company, 2019. 98 pages with a Foreword by John Butler, cover art by Dave Hasler and chapter art by Josh Simons. Trade paperback, 15.00.

This is a book of short stories with historical West Virginia settings, some based on local legends, that together illuminate the West Virginia frontier. The author, Shon Butler, grew up in an outdoors family and has been a life-long hunter. A forester by profession, he makes authentic period clothing from the furs of the animals he hunts – sometimes with a long rifle.


Kanawha Salt: The Stories of Jesse Cox by William Drennen. Shepherdstown, West Virginia: The Aerial Image, 2018. 139 pages with maps, an article by Anne Royall (1769-1854) entitled “Salt Works at Kanawha County” as the Foreword; an excerpt from an article by W. S. Laidley (1839-1917) entitled “History of West Virginia and Kanawha County West” as Appendix B, and a Bibliography. Hardback with a pictorial cover, $24.99.

In 1954, a boy named Billy started listening to the stories of his great-grandfather, Jesse Cox, who was in his nineties at the time and had been a prominent Kanawha Valley businessman who had listened carefully to stories of the early industrial history of the area. The author, William Drennen, recreates the stories he heard as a boy. Drennen graduated from Yale and earned a Masters from West Virginia State. He taught history both at West Virginia State and Shepherd College. He serves on the board of the Jefferson County Historical Society.