Between the Stacks

Here you will find the good, the great and the fantastic of the library world. You will also find out how the library's materials and services connect to the larger community and enhance the quality of life for the citizens of Wilkes County.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Now now available for checkout:

The Piano Man by Marcia Preston. Three years after the death of her son, Nathan, Claire O’Neal’s life remains flat and hopeless. But with the unexpected discovery of a forgotten letter, written by the wife of the man who received Nathan’s heart, Claire feels as if she has been given a chance to reconnect with her son. Imagine her shock when she finds the recipient of her son’s heart playing piano in a seedy bar, a chain-smoking, down on his luck cynic.

Recipes for a Perfect Marriage by Morag Prunty. Once all the excitement of the wedding is behind her, Tressa is struck with an awful idea: Maybe Dan isn’t the great love of her life. Into this mess of uncertainty comes the journals and recipes of her grandmother Bernadine. The unexpected secret to marital bliss unfolds through the voices and shared recipes of Tressa and Bernadine. They are generations and oceans apart yet together they learn that marriage is both sturdy and fragile, and never to be taken for granted.

The Female of the Species by Joyce Carol Oates. In these gripping and disturbing tales, women are confronted by the evil around then and surprised by the evil they find within themselves. With wicked insight, Oates demonstrates why the female of the species—be they six-year-old girls, seemingly devoted wives, or aging mothers—are by nature more deadly than the males.

The Catastrophist by Lawrence Douglas. The specter of imminent fatherhood sends young, neurotic academic Daniel Wellington into a full-blown existential crisis. Soon he finds himself plotting bigamy, lying about his past, imagining his wife in the arms of a student, and explaining to the dean why he e-mailed an obscene suggestion to a student actress. Naturally, Daniel’s hilariously deranged behavior brings about the very catastrophes he fears most.
Daniel Isn’t Talking by Marti Leimbach. Melanie Marsh is determined to fight to teach her autistic son Daniel to speak, play, and become as “normal” as possible. The situation is not helped by Melanie’s shaky marriage to true Brit Stephen and Stephen’s far-from- supportive parents. But Melanie does have one strong ally in Andy, a talented and off-the-wall play therapist who specializes in teaching autistic children.

Toss the Bride by Jennifer Manske Fenske. Working for a high-profile wedding planner in Atlanta, Macie Fuller is having trouble making up her mind about her own marriage. When boyfriend Avery finally does ask her, Macie’s reaction shocks everyone. She simply can’t relate to Avery’s jet-set lifestyle while she scrambles to pay the bills. Then there’s Avery’s mother, who married into family money and seems desperately unhappy. Will that happen to Macie, too?

Riding with John Wayne by Aaron Latham. Chick Goodnight has arrived in Hollywood to write a screenplay about an ancestor who more or less invented the Texas cowboy of the 1870s. As the film’s director—Hollywood veteran Jamie Stone—shows Chick how to write for the screen, he finds his Western-inspired code of ethics challenged by an industry suffused with venality and lechery. But culture shock becomes the least of Chick’s worries when his young cousin, an aspiring actress, dies under suspicious circumstances.

The Prisoner Pear by Elissa Minor Rust. The dozen stories presented here take place in an affluent suburb of Portland. Each story begins with an entry from the local paper’s police blotter. The author fills in the backgrounds to these small, odd events—a headless parakeet found in a mailbox, a nude jogger, a deathlike discarded stuffed toy—giving them weight and consequence. Her stories, both humorous and disturbing, dive beneath the clear surface of a community into the murky world that swirls beneath.

The Little Balloonist by Linda Donn. In post-revolutionary Paris a young widow inherits her late husband’s dangerous but much-celebrated hydrogen balloon. Sophie wins fame throughout France for her feats in the air. As a result, she finds herself welcomed into the circles of nineteenth century luminaries where she wins the love of two very different men. One is her faithful childhood friend, Andre Giroux. The other is Napoleon Bonaparte.

The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril by Paul Malmont. The hideous murder of the fringe pulp writer H.P. Lovecraft—victim of a mysterious death that literally makes the skin crawl—sets Walter Gibson, the mind behind the Shadow, and Lester Dent, creator of Doc Savage, on a collision course with each other and face to face with a terrifying and very real evil that could have sprung from the pages of their own pulp novels.

Prop by Pete Hautman. Peeky Kane is a prop player at an Arizona casino owned by the Santa Cruz tribe. When a band of clown-masked robbers makes off with millions of the casino’s dollars and leaves behind four corpses, Peeky recognizes one of the robbers as a casino employee. That same day, Peeky’s son-in-law turns up to tell her that Jaymie, her daughter, has been stealing money from Peeky for years to feed a crack habit.

In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders. The stories in In Persuasion Nation work to produce a whole, unsettling portrait of a country beautiful and horrific, blessed and aggressive, where truth is hostage to commerce and grace springs up in unexpected places. “The Red Bow” won the 2004 National Magazine Award, and “Bohemians” appeared in the 2005 Best American Short Stories.

Literacy and Longing in L.A. by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack. Dora is an indiscriminate book junkie whose life has fallen apart. She’s coping with a painful separation from her husband, scraping the bottom of a dwindling inheritance, and attracted to a seductive bookseller. Joining Dora in her odyssey is an elderly society hair brusher, a heartbroken young girl, a hilarious off-the-wall female teamster, and Dora’s mother, now on the wagon, trying to make amends.

The Unsettling by Peter Rock. A lonely man saving library books from an outbreak of mold listens to a coworker’s tale about a blind woman and imbues it with his own sense of romance; a woman drives a gold Firebird through the desert with a television on the passenger seat playing “Rockford Files” reruns; a girl returns to her childhood home and spies on its new inhabitants; and a Poe-obsessed medical examiner brings hope to a dark and desperate city. Stories and a novella.

About Yvonne by Donna Massini. “I have been stalking my husband’s lover,” says Terry Spera at the beginning of this novel. We watch as Terry begins to follow Yvonne through the streets of Manhattan, to her apartment on the Upper West Side, and as she begins to make even more alarming inroads into Yvonne’s life. As she tries to maintain a semblance of normal life with her husband, Mark, we, like Terry, veer from certainty to uncertainty. Is Mark having an affair?

Voodoo Heart by Scott Snyder. Snyder’s protagonists inhabit a playfully deranged fictional world in which a Wall Street trader can find himself armed with a spear gun, guarding a dumpster outside a pawnshop in Florida; or an employee at Niagara Falls will take off in a car after a blimp in which his girlfriend has escaped. In Snyder’s imagination there’s a thin membrane between the whimsical and the disturbing.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Staff Picks

Nicole suggests:

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Sendak uses the language like a paint brush and paints a bold picture of an angry child's imagination. The illustrations are gloriously unrestrained. It's been my favorite for years.

Memnoch the Devil by Anne Rice. In this novel, fifth in the series of her vampire chronicles, Rice brings her beloved Lestat in contact with God and the Devil which leads him to define for himself what is good, what is evil and the true essence of having a soul. Inspiring, yet at times very dark, this book questions the natural order of the universe and asks you to question your beliefs as you watch God and the Devil try to recruit Lestat to their cause. All the Vampire Chronicles are excellent but this is, by far, the best!

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Originally written as a young adult novel, the story of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen will appeal to any fantasy reader who enjoys a good vampire fiction with a touch of humor and teenage angst.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. One woman's search for the mysteries of her father's life brings her face to face with the legendary Dracula. It's a long, enthralling read that keeps you guessing. A definite page turner!

Timeline by Michael Crichton. A group of archaeologist use modern technology to go back in time to save a friend, without understanding the dangers involved. There was a movie adapted from the book, but it certainly didn't do justice to the original plot. After all, time travel, sword fights, history and science. What more could you want in a novel?

The Belgariad by David Eddings. This series of novels tell the story of a band of adventurers out to save the world from the wrath of a vengeful god. Excellently written fantasy that doesn't take its self too seriously. A good, light read that I keep coming back to time and again. I've recommended the series to a lot of people, and most came back raving about how they enjoyed it. It's especially good for young adults who enjoy fantasy.

Try these other staff recommendations:

Janet picks:

Auel, Jean Clan of the Cave Bear et al
Dai, Sijie Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Lemony Snicket series
Murakami, Haruki After the Quake
Rice, Anne Memnoch the Devil

John’s picks:

Barker, Nicola Wide Open
Krusoe, Jim Iceland
Murakami, Haruki The Wind-up Bird Chronicle
Tartt, Donna The Little Friend
Wesley, Mary A Sensible Life

Louise's picks:

Clark, Martin The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living
Edgerton, Clyde Raney
anything by John Grisham
Guterson, Dan Snow Falling on Cedars
Steinbeck, John The Grapes of Wrath

Mary’s picks:

Amis, Kingsley Lucky Jim
Capote, Truman Other Voices, Other Rooms
Shute, Nevil On the Beach
Tartt, Donna The Little Friend
Trumbo, Dalton Johnny Got His Gun

Meg’s picks:

Divakaruni, Chita Banerjee The Mistress of Spices
Staples, Suzanne Fisher Shabanu
Gaiman, Neil American Gods
Carroll, Lewis Alice in Wonderland
Spinelli, Jerry Stargirl

Misty’s picks:

Abu-Jaber, Diana The Language of Baklava
Berendt, John City of Fallen Angels
Dobson, Joanne Quieter Than Sleep
Fowler, Karen Joy The Jane Austen Book Club
Kandel, Susan I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason
Seierstad, Asne The Bookseller of Kabul
Southworth, E.D.E.N. The Hidden Hand or Capitola the Madcap

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Ubiquitous Librarian

In his blog, Brian Mathews muses:

"The Ubiquitous Librarian is everywhere! The Ubiquitous Librarian constantly seeks new ways to interact with users. The Ubiquitous Librarian is all about participation. It’s about stepping outside of the library and interacting with patrons wherever they may be: online, in the classroom, in the hallway, at football games, in the cafeteria, off campus. Instead of trying to force them into the library, into our world, the ubiquitous librarian is embedded into their world. It’s about not pushing the library agenda, but rather about participating in the larger community we serve. Put simply: Instead of trying to make your library seem cool, be a librarian and do cool things."

How are we doing?

Friday, June 30, 2006


Love books? Try this great service, available through your local library!

NoveList is a fiction database that provides subject heading access, reviews, annotations, and much more for over 135,000 fiction titles. It also includes other content of interest to fiction readers, such as Author Read-alikes, What We're Reading, Book Discussion Guides, BookTalks, and Annotated Book Lists. For school media specialists and teachers there are Picture Book Extenders and articles on Teaching with Fiction.

What You Can Do in NoveList

NoveList allows readers to use a favorite author or title as a template to locate other authors and titles of interest. When you look up a favorite book in NoveList, you have the option of finding similar books in one of two ways:

You can click on subject headings from your favorite book and search the database for more titles using the subject headings you have selected, or
You can click the "Find Similar Books" button (at the top of the title record) and search for more titles like the one you enjoyed.
Author Read-alikes articles (at the For Readers tab) can also help you find authors whose books are similar to the novels your favorite author writes. In addition to finding similar books to your favorites, NoveList allows you to:

Look up and view series information (in series order),
Search for books by entering your own descriptive terms in Describe a Plot,
Use the Boolean Search function to search specific parts of the title record, such as reviews,
Browse book lists by category, genre, or theme at every reading level through Explore Fiction, and look for award-winning titles in Best Fiction,
Link directly from many title records to web sites with information about the author.
Customized Content for Readers, Library Staff, Schools

Designed for our fiction readers: In addition to the Author Read-alikes articles, NoveList offers several features at the For Readers tab. These include What We're Reading, Annotated Book Lists, Book Discussion Guides, and BookTalks. These features have been developed specifically with NoveList users in mind. Hypertext links from title records also allow the user to go directly to articles or guides that mention the title, as well as to the lists in Explore Fiction or Best Fiction where the titles appear.

Designed for the staff at your library: In addition to the For Readers tab, NoveList offers resources for public library staff at the Readers' Advisory tab. Training materials, articles written by leaders in the field, and NoveList Notes are accessible from this tab.

Designed for schools: NoveList provides materials developed specifically for educators at the School Resources tab. If you are a library media specialist or a teacher, this page leads you to essential curriculum-related articles and Picture Book Extenders. These materials provide support for the increased use of literature in the classroom and across the curriculum. There are articles and guides for all grade levels from pre-school through high school.

The Database
NoveList provides full title records of fiction for all ages, including picture books, children's "chapter" books, young adult titles and books for adult readers. Updated monthly, the NoveList database integrates information from a variety of sources. The title records include full-text reviews from several journals, including: Booklist, Kirkus, School Library Journal, Library Journal and Publishers Weekly. In addition to these reviews, there are annotations and summaries, and all of them are searchable!

NoveList adds about 9,000 new fiction records to the database per year, along with reviews and descriptions when they are available. The browsable book lists in Explore Fiction are periodically revised, and the awards lists in Best Fiction are updated along with the full database each month. New Author Read-alikes, What We're Reading updates or additions, Annotated Book Lists, Book Discussion Guides, and BookTalks are also added monthly.

NoveList K-8

NoveList K-8 provides a student-focused interface and a database of young adult, children's and easy titles designed for children in pre-K, elementary or middle schools or your library's children's room. NoveList K-8 uses the same great database engine as NoveList, and a subset of the database records with the same cataloging attention to detail. The primary differences between NoveList and NoveList K-8 are:

The interface uses different colors and fewer tabs.
Adult content in NoveList is not found in NoveList K-8,
Staff resources are found at the Teacher Resource tab (instead of the School Resource tab).

The NoveList Team

NoveList is a product of EBSCO Publishing, which has its headquarters in Ipswich, Massachusetts. However, the NoveList team resides in Durham, North Carolina. The product's co-creators, Duncan Smith and Roger Rohweder, are joined by a small but growing staff of professionals that includes librarians, educators, and programmers. Our staff consists of individuals from a variety of backgrounds but all sharing a love of NoveList and books.

You can access Novelist through
NCLive. For more information or to obtain a password, call the library at 838-2818.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Devil Wears Prada

With the release of The Devil Wears Prada, starring Meryl Streep as evil Miranda Priestly, we offer similar titles for your consideration:

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger. Most recent college grads know they have to start at the bottom and work their way up. But not many picture themselves having to pick up their boss's dry cleaning, deliver them hot lattes, land them copies of the newest Harry Potter book before it hits stores and screen potential nannies for their children. Charmingly unfashionable Andrea Sachs, upon graduating from Brown, finds herself in this precarious position: she's an assistant to the most revered-and hated-woman in fashion, Runway editor-in-chief Miranda Priestly. The self-described "biggest fashion loser to ever hit the scene," Andy takes the job hoping to land at the New Yorker after a year. As the "lowest-paid-but-most-highly-perked assistant in the free world," she soon learns her Nine West loafers won't cut it-everyone wears Jimmy Choos or Manolos-and that the four years she spent memorizing poems and examining prose will not help her in her new role of "finding, fetching, or faxing" whatever the diabolical Miranda wants, immediately. Life is pretty grim for Andy, but Weisberger, whose stint as Anna Wintour's assistant at Vogue couldn't possibly have anything to do with the novel's inspiration, infuses the narrative with plenty of dead-on assessments of fashion's frivolity and realistic, funny portrayals of life as a peon. Andy's mishaps will undoubtedly elicit laughter from readers, and the story's even got a virtuous little moral at its heart. Weisberger has penned a comic novel that manages to rise to the upper echelons of the chick-lit genre.

The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin. A blistering satire based on the real-life experiences of former New York City nannies McLaughlin and Kraus, this hilarious examination of the upper echelons of Manhattan society and the unlovable Park Avenue X family is flawlessly complemented by Roberts's limber, metamorphosing vocal performance. Depicted by the Academy Award winner's detached, patronizing tone, Mrs. X, a housewife, has little more to do than spend her adulterous, workaholic husband's seven-figure salary on manicures, designer clothes and floral arrangements. She delegates the care of her bratty four-year-old son, Grayer, and other small "errands" (e.g., shopping for a 50-guest dinner party) to an NYU grad student, Nan. Highlighting the disparity between the decadent, insular world of the Xs against the underpaid, disrespected one of the hired help surrounding them works especially well in audio, as Roberts acutely captures neglected Grayer's temper tantrums, piercing whines, inconsolable cries of "I want my mommy" and the hesitant tones and broken English of his playmate's caretakers. When the babysitter's "level of commitment" to the job is questioned and a developmental consultant is called in to handle the "deleterious self-esteem adjustment" her charge may have been set up for after failing to make it into a prestigious school, Roberts conveys Nan's struggle through readings alternately sarcastic, angry and falsely cheerful. This is a witty and thoroughly enjoyable production.

Lipstick Jungle by Candace Bushnell. In a way, Candace Bushnell's Lipstick Jungle picks up where her career-defining book Sex and the City left off, in the money-soaked, power-hungry, beauty-obsessed jungle that is New York City. This time around, the ladies are a bit older, a lot richer, but not particularly wiser nor more endearing than Bushnell's earlier heroines. Lipstick Jungle weaves the stories of Nico O'Neilly, Wendy Healy, and Victory Ford, numbers 8, 12, and 17 on The New York Post's list of "New York's 50 Most Powerful Women." But this is 21st Century New York, and to get ahead and stay ahead, these women will do anything, including jeopardizing their personal and professional relationships. Take for example Nico, editor-in-chief of Bonfire magazine, who betrays her boss to rise to the top of the entire magazine division at media mega-giant Splatch-Verner. As president of Paradour Pictures, Wendy may be poised to win an Oscar for her 10-year labor-of-love, Ragged Pilgrims, but her marriage is in shambles and her children care more about a $50,000 pony than their mother. And for single, 43-year-old fashion designer Victory, pleasing tough critics may be more important than ever finding the real relationship she's convinced herself she doesn't need. This racy tale of women behaving badly manages to shrewdly flip the tables to show us how gender roles are essentially interchangeable, given the right circumstances. Whether that was Bushnell's intent when crafting this wicked tale is another story.

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. If you've ever paid off one credit card with another, thrown out a bill before opening it, or convinced yourself that buying at a two-for-one sale is like making money, then this appealing novel is for you. In the opening pages, recent college graduate Rebecca Bloomwood is offered a hefty line of credit by a London bank. Within a few months, she has exceeded the limits of this generous offer, and begins furtively to scan her credit-card bills at work, certain that she couldn't have spent the reported sums. In theory anyway, the world of finance shouldn't be a mystery to Rebecca, since she writes for a magazine called Successful Saving. Struggling with her spendthrift impulses, she tries to heed the advice of an expert and appreciate life's cheaper pleasures: parks, museums, and so forth. Yet her first Saturday at the Victoria and Albert Museum strikes her as a waste. Why? There's not a price tag in sight. Eventually, Rebecca's uncontrollable shopping and her "imaginative" solutions to her debt attract the attention not only of her bank manager but of handsome Luke Brandon--a multimillionaire PR representative for a finance group frequently covered in Successful Saving. Kinsella's debut makes excellent fantasy reading for the long stretches between white sales and appliance specials.

Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination by Helen Fielding. Considering the number of writers who've tried, and generally failed, to do plummy Bridget Jones one better, it only makes sense that Fielding should take a vacation from the genre she spawned and seek (sort of) greener pastures. Her new inspiration? Think Ian Fleming. Fielding's ridiculous, delicious, wildly improbable plot goes something like this: freelance journalist Olivia Joules ("as in the unit of kinetic energy"), formerly Rachel Pixley (her whole family got run over when she was 14), gets bumped from the Sunday Times's international coverage down to the style pages thanks to the titular imagination (e.g., a story about a "cloud of giant, fanged locusts pancaking down on Ethiopia"). In between ducking twittering PR reps and airheaded blondes at a Miami face cream launch party, she uncovers what looks like an al-Qaeda plot, headed by a dreamy Osama bin Laden look-alike, who is either (1) a terrorist, (2) an international playboy, (3) a serial killer or (4) all of the above. Languid, mysterious Pierre Feramo returns Olivia's interest, and thus begins an around-the-world adventure that has plucky Olivia eventually recruited by MI6. In addition to the fun spy gear (e.g., Chloé shades fitted with a nerve-agent dagger) there are kidnappings, bomb plots and scuba-diving disasters. Olivia is slim, confident and accomplished; ostensibly, she's "painstakingly erased all womanly urges to question her shape, looks, role in life," etc. But she still has her bumbling Jonesian moments, and though she may not need a man, she'll get one in the end. What's wrong with the book: two-dimensional characters, dangling plot threads, the questionable taste of al-Qaeda bombings in an escapist, comic spy novel. What's right: girl-power punch, page-turning brio and a new heroine to root for.

Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot. Bag the tiara and get out the gun: Heather Wells, former teen idol, turns detective in the cute debut of a new mystery series from bestseller Cabot. After the 20-something Heather's rocker boyfriend dumps her, and her mother and manager flee with her earnings, she becomes an assistant director of an undergraduate residence hall at Manhattan's New York College (read: NYU) in hopes of free tuition. When students start to die mysteriously while "elevator surfing" in the building, weight-conscious, romance-obsessed Heather goes on a crazed hunt to uncover the truth—with an unwavering sense of style. As Magda, Heather's dorm cashier friend, says: "Even if the rest of your life is going down the toilet... at least your toes can still look pretty." Cabot delivers Heather's amateur sleuthing adventures in a rapid-fire narrative that may leave some readers begging for time-outs to control sudden laughing fits.

Good In Bed by Jennifer Weiner. It is temping at first but unwise to assume Candace Shapiro is yet another Bridget Jones. Feisty, funny and less self-hating than her predecessor, Cannie is a 28-year-old Philadelphia Examiner reporter preoccupied with her weight and men, but able to see the humor in even the most unpleasant of life's broadsides. Even she is floored, however, when she reads "Good in Bed," a new women's magazine column penned by her ex-boyfriend, pothead grad student Bruce Guberman. Three months earlier, Cannie suggested they take a break apparently, Bruce thought they were through and set about making such proclamations as, "Loving a larger woman is an act of courage in our world." Devastated by this public humiliation, Cannie takes comfort in tequila and her beloved dog, Nifkin. Bruce has let her down like another man in her life: Cannie's sadistic, plastic surgeon father emotionally abused her as a young girl, and eventually abandoned his wife and family, leaving no forwarding address. Cannie's siblings suffer, especially the youngest, Lucy, who has tried everything from phone sex to striptease. Their tough-as-nails mother managed to find love again with a woman, Tanya, the gravel-voiced owner of a two-ton loom. Somehow, Cannie stays strong for family and friends, joining a weight-loss group, selling her screenplay and gaining the maturity to ask for help when she faces something bigger than her fears. Weiner's witty, original, fast-moving debut features a lovable heroine, a solid cast, snappy dialogue and a poignant take on life's priorities. This is a must-read for any woman who struggles with body image, or for anyone who cares about someone who does.

Wild Designs by Katie Fforde. The appealing British heroine of this delicious romantic romp is Althea, who loves her house, her three rambunctious teenagers, her dog, and her garden. At 38, she loses her job, faces the return of her disagreeable ex-husband, and tries to cope with her impossible younger sister. Always a bit distracted by the pressures of daily life, she doesn't welcome the arrival of the architect who buys a nearby mill in whose greenhouse Althea has been surreptitiously raising plants. Patrick is rich, extremely attractive, and attached to the perfect musculature of a woman named Topaz. Althea, who hopes that winning a gardening competition will enable her to do something she loves and still keep her family financially intact, rings such glorious changes on the themes of motherhood, the bliss of gardening, friendship, and sibling relationships that we almost forgive her for wildly missing the cues of Patrick's interest and for her knee-jerk response to putting what she thinks are the children's interests first. In the end, she gets to keep home, garden, and love interest, although not in ways she might have expected. As pretty a piece of wish fulfillment as can be imagined; enchanting withal.

Spin Doctor by Leslie Carroll. Dirty laundry gets cleaned, dried and aired in the newest women-in-the-city soap opera from Carroll (Play Dates), an exuberant ode to friendship among women and the need for affordable mental health care (at least in New York City). When a Manhattan psychotherapist decides to offer pro bono counseling in her apartment building's laundry room, her lucky neighbors jump at the chance to wash away "the emotionally damaging detritus of their lives" while they wash away stains from their whites. Dr. Susan Lederer thinks of herself as the ultimate mother hen, dividing her time among her detergent-scented community work, her paying gig at the women's health center and her more literal motherly duties: taking care of a husband, Eli, their two children (aged 11 and 16) and an incontinent dog. That Susan's laundry room patients eventually join together to help Susan through her own domestic crisis is no surprise, but Carroll handles her material with wit and wisdom.

Faking It by Jennifer Crusie. Bestseller Crusie (Fast Women, etc.) takes readers on another smooth ride in her latest romantic caper. At the wheel this time is fab art forger Matilda Goodnight, whose chance encounter in a closet with cute con man/thief Davy Dempsey leads to madcap mayhem and breathless romance. He's trying to steal back the money he filched from Clea Lewis, ex-girlfriend (and possible husband killer), who had taken it right back. Tilda just wants her last "Scarlet" painting, which Clea has bought to impress Mason Phipps, her rich art-obsessed beau. It's the last of six forgeries Tilda did for Tony, her now deceased gallery-owner dad, and Tilda is determined to preserve her newly squeaky-clean reputation. Confused yet? It gets wackier, because the whole Goodnight clan and supporting cast are as enormously engaging as the loopy plot. There's Tilda's mother, Gwen; her sister, Eve/Louise, a split-personality teacher/diva; her gay ex-brother-in-law, Andrew; and her precocious teenage niece, Nadine. Add a host of shady characters and would-be hitmen, and the breezy plot thickens and puffs up like the light airy doughnuts all Goodnight women are attracted to but eventually forsake for muffins: "Muffins are for the long haul and they always taste good. They don't have that oh-my-God-I-have-to-have-that thing that the doughnuts have going for them, but you still want them the next morning." Finally, defying all odds, Crusie answers the burning questions she poses can liars and thieves fall in love, live happily ever after and stay out of jail while confirming the dangers of dating doughnuts.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

And the Oscar goes to...

Try out these great reads, brought to mind by recent Oscar nominated films...

Enjoy The Aviator? Try these:

Howard Hughes: Aviator by George J. Marrett. Marrett was an experimental test pilot for the Hughes Aircraft Company for 20 years, and before that he flew 188 combat missions for the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War. This scrupulously researched book begins by recounting Hughes' early flying years (his first flight took place in 1920, when he was 14) and continues with his work in developing aircraft during World War II and the postwar era, the growth of Hughes Aircraft, the early age of jets, and his famous flight in the Spruce Goose. Marrett tells how Hughes became a billionaire and relates his later calamitous years in Las Vegas, where, because of his desire for isolation, he became a recluse. Marrett also recounts Hughes' successful work as a film producer and his relationships with actresses, some of the most famous stars of the 1920s and 1930s.

Ava Gardner: Love is Nothing by Lee Server. At the ripe old age of 32, having collected three ex-husbands-Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw and Frank Sinatra-Ava Gardner waxed introspective: "I still believe the most important thing in life is to be loved." Server's (Baby, I Don't Care) deliciously entertaining tome bursts with Hollywood dish and Oscar-worthy dialogue and is written in a crackling style that reads like great pulp. "Love became her terrible habit," he writes, "something hopeless to resist, impossible to get right." A Tobacco Road urchin turned "statue of Venus sprung to succulent life," Gardner ditched her secretarial aspirations and started at MGM in the early '40s as a contract actress earning $50 a week. She became an international star, drawing huge crowds on both sides of the Atlantic. But life wasn't always sweet for the gorgeous star of Show Boat and The Barefoot Contessa; her steamy affair and marriage to Sinatra ranks among the most notorious of Hollywood love stories. Gardner's career, hard drinking and screen-worthy love affairs are all chronicled in Server's page-turner prose, doing justice to one of cinema's most beautiful faces.

Kate Remembered by A. Scott Berg. Even those who've read many Hepburn biographies will find Berg's immersion in the actor's world engrossing, full of crisply-voiced takes on old Hollywood and intimate looks at her everyday life. As a longtime friend and ardent fan, Berg (Lindbergh; Max Perkins; etc.) does not attempt an objective biography; instead, he aims to convey Hepburn's thoughts and memories. Framed by Berg and Hepburn's 20-year friendship, the book charts the inescapable subjects of Hepburn's life, such as her romance with Spencer Tracy and her assessment of her own performances. She considered Tracy the greatest American screen actor and her last years with him (in the 1960s) the happiest of her life. Among her movies, she spoke warmly of her films with George Cukor. As to Hepburn's sexual orientation, Berg notes that in the 1930s she lived with actress Laura Harding and decades later was rumored to have exceptionally close relations with a woman, but Hepburn reported nothing. Most interesting is Berg's depiction of Hepburn's early acting days: how she moved from Broadway to Hollywood, negotiated an outsized salary, and, after becoming box-office poison, fought her way back with The Philadelphia Story. Throughout those years, she was befriended personally and professionally by her husband Ludlow Ogden Smith and by industrialist Howard Hughes. Berg is true to his subject and lets her voice come through in every quote, whether she's pooh-poohing him for thinking the 50-ish-degree water near her Connecticut house is cold ("Only for the first few seconds. And then you're numb") or explaining why she never tried to marry Spencer Tracy: "I never wanted to marry Spencer Tracy."

Love Brokeback Mountain? Try these favorites:

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. Proulx has followed Postcards , her story of a family and their farm, with an extraordinary second novel of another family and the sea. The fulcrum is Quoyle, a patient, self-deprecating, oversized hack writer who, following the deaths of nasty parents and a succubus of a wife, moves with his two daughters and straight-thinking aunt back to the ancestral manse in Killick-Claw, a Newfoundland harbor town of no great distinction. There, Quoyle finds a job writing about car crashes and the shipping news for The Gammy Bird, a local paper kept afloat largely by reports of sexual abuse cases and comical, typographical errors. Killick-Claw may not be perfect, but it is a stable enough community for Quoyle and Co. to recover from the terrors of their past lives. But the novel is much more than Quoyle's story: it is a moving evocation of a place and people buffeted by nature and change. Proulx routinely does without nouns and conjunctions--"Quoyle, grinning. Expected to hear they were having a kid. Already picked himself for godfather"--but her terse prose seems perfectly at home on the rocky Newfoundland coast. She is in her element both when creating haunting images (such as Quoyle's inbred, mad and mean forbears pulling their house across the ice after being ostracized by more God-fearing folk) and when lyrically rendering a routine of gray, cold days filled with cold cheeks, squidburgers, fried bologna and the sea.

The Colonel and Little Missie: Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, and the Beginnings of Superstardom in America by Larry McMurtry. Pulitzer Prize-winner McMurtry chronicles the rise to fame, fortune, and international celebrity of two of the West's most enduring figures -- and America's first real superstars. From the early 1880s to the end of his life in 1917, Buffalo Bill Cody was as famous as anyone could be. Annie Oakley was his most celebrated protégée, the "slip of a girl" from Ohio who could (and did) outshoot anybody to become the most celebrated star of Buffalo Bill's Wild West show. In this sweeping dual biography, Larry McMurtry explores the lives, the legends, and above all the truths about two larger-than-life American figures. With his Wild West show, Buffalo Bill helped invent the image of the West that still exists today -- cowboys and Indians, rodeo rough riders, sheriffs and outlaws, trick shooting, Stetsons, and buckskin. To each other, they were always "Missie" and "Colonel." To the rest of the world, they were cultural icons, setting the path for all that followed. Larry McMurtry -- a writer who understands the West better than any other -- recreates their astonishing careers and curious friendship in a fascinating history that reads like the very best of his fiction.

Enjoy Capote? Try:

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. "Until one morning in mid-November of 1959, few Americans--in fact, few Kansans--had ever heard of Holcomb. Like the waters of the river, like the motorists on the highway, and like the yellow trains streaking down the Santa Fe tracks, drama, in the shape of exceptional happenings, had never stopped there." If all Truman Capote did was invent a new genre--journalism written with the language and structure of literature--this "nonfiction novel" about the brutal slaying of the Clutter family by two would-be robbers would be remembered as a trail-blazing experiment that has influenced countless writers. But Capote achieved more than that. He wrote a true masterpiece of creative nonfiction. The images of this tale continue to resonate in our minds: 16-year-old Nancy Clutter teaching a friend how to bake a cherry pie, Dick Hickock's black '49 Chevrolet sedan, Perry Smith's Gibson guitar and his dreams of gold in a tropical paradise--the blood on the walls and the final "thud-snap" of the rope-broken necks.

Breakfast at Tiffany's: A Short Novel and Three Stories by Truman Capote. "Breakfast at Tiffany's" is a story that was first published in 1958. This wacky hillbilly-turned-playgirl who lives in a Manhattan brownstone shares not only Capote's philosophy of freedom and acceptance of human irregularities but also his fears and anxieties--'the mean reds' she calls them. For her the cure is to jump into a taxi and head for Tiffany's; nothing bad could happen, she says, amid 'that lovely smell of silver and alligator wallets, and her dream is to have breakfast in that soothing setting. This volume also contains "House of Flowers," "A Diamond Guitar," and "A Christmas Memory."

Love Finding Neverland? Try:

The Little Minister by J. M. Barrie. "The Little Minister" by J. M. Barrie was first published in Good Words Magazine, spanning the months January to December 1891. Reckoned to be Barrie's best work, it is one of several novels about the fictional village of Thrums, said to be modeled on Barrie's home town of Kirriemuir. In 1840's Scotland, a young Scottish pastor falls in love with an educated, radiant gypsy girl, who turns out to be a peeress who impersonates a gypsy and smoothes things over between rebellious weavers and the authorities in 1840 Scotland. The play version, produced by the legendary Charles Frohman, was a tremendous success in which the star, according to William Winter's review Jan.10,1897 "expressed impulse, pertness, perversity, caprice, discontent. mischief, longing, self-will, arch and tantalizing sweetness and charmingly irrational contradictions of an impetuous girl." It was made into a RKO movie in 1934 with Katharine Hepburn and John Beal (as the Scottish Minister). Also try Half Hours by Barrie.

Love Seabiscuit? Try:

A Year At The Races: Reflections on Horses, Humans, Love, Money, and Luck by Jane Smiley. Smiley's great love for horses inspired her spectacular novel Horse Heaven (2000). Now she chronicles her real-life equestrian experiences as a novice but adventurous horse owner bringing her untried young horses to the track in California with the help of a gifted trainer, Alexis, and the astonishing disclosures of Hali, an animal communicator with whom Smiley's horses share their thoughts and concerns. The very qualities of mind that make Smiley such a compelling novelist--her keen attentiveness to the sensuous world, her deep sensitivity to psychological states, and her fascination with life's entwinement of chance and inevitability--enable her to write about horses, both their interior and exterior selves, with extraordinary avidity, empathy, wonder, and gratitude. As she tells the intriguing stories of the horses she knows best, neurotic Persey, scintillating Waterwheel, and the book's irresistible star, ardent Hornblower (who tells Hali that he wants to be called by his nickname, Wowie, because Hornblower has negative "vibrational qualities"), Smiley, as erudite and probing as she is passionate and witty, meticulously and bewitchingly illuminates equine sense and sensibility. Ultimately, Smiley succeeds brilliantly in portraying horses not only as fully sentient beings but also as beautiful and intriguing creatures of unique intelligence and heart, who have, over the course of centuries, greatly enhanced and graced human life.

Captivated by Mystic River? Try:

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane. Know this: Lehane's new novel, his first since the highly praised and bestselling Mystic River, carries an ending so shocking yet so faithful to what has come before, that it will go down as one of the most aesthetically right resolutions ever written. But as anyone who has read him knows, Lehane, despite his mastery of the mechanics of suspense, is about much more than twists; here, he's in pursuit of the nature of self-knowledge and self-deception, and the ways in which both can be warped by violence and evil. In summer 1954, two U.S. marshals, protagonist Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, arrive on Shutter Island, not far from Boston, to investigate the disappearance of patient Rachel Solando from the prison/hospital for the criminally insane that dominates the island. The marshals' digging gets them nowhere fast as they learn of Rachel's apparently miraculous escape past locked doors and myriad guards, and as they encounter roadblocks and lies strewn across their path-most notably by the hospital's chief physician, the enigmatic J. Cawley-and pick up hints of illegal brain surgery performed at the hospital. Then, as a major hurricane bears down on the island, inciting a riot among the insane and cutting off all access to the mainland, they begin to fear for their lives. All of the characters-particularly Teddy, haunted by the tragic death of his wife-are wonderful creations, but no more wonderful than the spot-on dialogue with which Lehane brings them to life and the marvelous prose that enriches the narrative. There are mysteries within mysteries in this novel, some as obvious as the numerical codes that the missing patient leaves behind and which Teddy, a code breaker in WWII, must solve; some as deep as the most profound fears of the human heart. There is no mystery, however, about how good this book is; like Mystic River, it's a tour de force.

The Innocent by Harlan Coben. Matt Hunter made a mistake when he was 20 years old and paid for it with a four-year stint in prison that left him with a determination never to be locked up again. Finally, his life is back on the promising track he was taking before he accidentally killed a man: He has a good job, a newly pregnant wife he adores, and is about to close on the home of their dreams. Then he gets a couple of bizarre photos on his cell phone that seem to show his wife in a compromising position with a black-haired stranger. But before he can sort out who sent the anonymous pictures and why, he's running from the law--especially from the cop who was his best friend in grade school, and a sharp young detective who's stepped right into the middle of an FBI investigation spurred by the discovery that a dead nun who wasn't who she claimed to be is somehow mixed up in Matt and Olivia Hunter's life. Coben deftly wields a complicated plot involving a missing stripper, a dead gangster, an incriminating videotape, and a couple of agents who aren't quite who they seem to be, while Hunter manages to hold onto his faith in Olivia despite her clouded past and uncertain future. Like all Coben's protagonists, (including the hero of his popular series starring sports agent turned detective Myron Bolitar) Hunter is a nice, middle-class New Jersey boy who's still the innocent of the title, despite the miscarriage of justice that sent him to prison. Or was it? That's the moral question at the heart of this tightly constructed thriller, which will no doubt shoot directly to the top of the bestseller list, and deservedly so.

The Forgotten Man by Robert Crais. Crais's latest L.A.-based crime novel featuring super-sleuth Elvis Cole blends high-powered action, a commanding cast and a touch of dark humor to excellent dramatic effect. One morning at four, Cole gets a call from the LAPD informing him that a murdered John Doe has claimed, with his dying breath, to be Cole's father, a man Cole has never met. Cole immediately gets to work gathering evidence on the dead man - Herbert Faustina, aka George Reinnike - while cramping the style of the assigned detective, Jeff Pardy. Though Cole finds Reinnike's motel room key at the crime scene, the puzzle pieces are tough to put together, even with the unfailing help of partner Joe Pike and feisty ex-Bomb Squad techie Carol Starkey, who's so smitten with Cole that she can't think of him without smiling. Days of smart sleuthing work take the self-proclaimed "World's Greatest Detective" from a Venice Beach escort service to the California desert, then a hospital in San Diego, where doubts about Reinnike's true heritage begin to dissipate. Meanwhile, a delusional psychopath named Frederick Conrad, who is convinced that his partner in crime was killed by Cole, stalks and schemes to even the score. There's lots to digest, but this character-driven series continues to be strong in plot, action and pacing, and Crais (The Last Detective) boasts a distinctive knack for a sucker-punch element of surprise.

**Reviews and descriptions taken from Amazon, Publisher's Weekly, and Books In Print.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Tom Dooley

Over the weekend, the Wilkes Playmakers opened their season at the new Forest Edge Community Amphitheater, formerly Fort Hamby Community Amphitheater. Forest Edge is a state-of-the art, 900 seat facility with a complete professional sound and lighting system. It is designed to offer the community and region superior accommodations and setting for outdoor concerts, theater productions, reunions, festivals, corporate functions, and arts and environmental education and training. (For more information and for a schedule of Summer on the Lake events, please visit the Friends of W. Kerr Scott Lake website).

People nationwide have been fascinated and intrigued with the Tom Dooley story for over a century. The murder of Laura Foster in the Elkville community, now known as Ferguson, in North Carolina was one of the nation’s first highly publicized crimes of passion. Tom Dooley hanged for the crime but many questions were left unanswered.

Over 200 pieces of testimony were recorded in the two years that Tom was on trial. Most of the testimony is conflicting and everyone was convinced that his or her side of the story was the right one. Governor Zebulon B. Vance came to Wilkes County to defend this Confederate war hero. A reporter from the New York Herald penned articles that gripped the nation and left them wanting more. Governor Vance lost the case and Tom was hanged in Statesville, NC in May of 1868. His last words were “Gentlemen, do you see this hand? I never harmed a hair on Laura Foster’s head”.

The Kingston Trio catapulted Tom Dooley to fame again in the 1960’s with the song “Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley”. Visitors still travel from far and wide to visit the graves and tour the countryside where the story took place. Tom Dula’s gravestone is on private property on the Tom Dula road in Ferguson, NC. Unfortunately, visitors have chipped away the marker for souvenirs and the access road has been closed. In Elkville, (now Ferguson) descendants still have different opinions on what really happened. Wilkes Playmakers held a story-telling session at the Whippoorwill Academy in Ferguson while the script was being developed. Karen Wheeling Reynolds, an Elkville native and author of the play, used these different opinions and stories to develop her intriguing script for the play.

“This script is a mixture of fact and folklore”, said Mrs. Reynolds. “These stories have been handed down from generation to generation. I’m proud to be a part of their preservation”. She should be. Calvin and Martha Cowles, the storekeeper and his wife in the script, are her great- great- great grandparents.

Anne Melton was Tom’s childhood sweetheart. Many in the community believe that she killed Laura Foster and persuaded Tom to help her bury the body. Anne was said to be a beauty, with coal black hair and milk white skin. She married James Melton while Tom was away at war. When Tom returned, he took up with Laura Foster. Citizens of Elkville are divided on this next issue. Some say he loved Laura. Some say he used Laura to get back at Anne. Whatever the case, Tom was known for being a ladies man. He was handsome and charming. Most folks will tell you that he was a good fiddle player too...always laughing and playing at local get-togethers.

Perline Foster, Anne’s cousin from Watauga County, was brought in to work for Anne after she married the wealthy James Melton. Perline was rumored to also be in love with Tom and may have played a part in the crime. Her testimony in the trial was instrumental in sending Tom to the gallows. Many believe that her testimony was false and that she acted out of jealousy and hatred towards Anne and rejection from Tom.

Tom is buried on a small hill out on the Tom Dooley road in Ferguson. Laura’s grave is in Caldwell County in a beautiful pasture at the bottom of German Hill. Anne rests out on Gladys Fork road between Ferguson and Darby not far from where the murder took place. Their graves, like their past lives, form a lover’s triangle. “Tom Dooley; A Wilkes County Legend” fills in many of the gaps for serious Tom Dooley fans.

(The above information was taken from the Friends of the Lake and Playmakers websites.)

Your library offers a number of titles of interest to Tom Dooley: A Wilkes County Legend visitors, including:

Lift Up Your Head, Tom Dooley: The True Story of the Appalachian Murder That Inspired One of America's Most Popular Ballads by John Foster West. When Laura Foster, a young & attractive woman, disappeared from her home in Happy Valley in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina in the spring of 1866, residents of the area assumed that Tom Dula (pronounced Dooley in the hill country), a young Civil War veteran, had something to do with it. He was known to be Laura's lover, as well as the lover of many other young women in the area. Months before Laura's body was found, stabbed through the heart, in a shallow grave near the Yadkin River, Dula was seized held in jail. His trial unveiled a sordid story of sexual immorality, resentment, jealousy and bitterness; Dula was convicted & hanged before a huge crowd in Statesville, an event that drew national attention. The story lived on, with time becoming entwined with myth and legend, because it inspired a ballad that was sung throughout the mountains. Nearly a century after the murder that inspired it, that ballad became a major national hit for a popular folk singing group called the Kingston Trio. Novelist John Foster West grew up in Happy Valley hearing the stories about Tom Dula. His search for the truth behind them led to this book. Foster also penned another volume with similar information entitled The Ballad of Tom Dula: The Documented Story Behind the Murder of Laura Foster and the Trials and Execution of Tom Dula. Don't miss Karen Reynolds' novel Tom Dooley: A Wilkes County Legend and Thomas W. Ferguson's Tom Dooley as well.

For more on Tom Dooley, plan a trip to the Tom Dooley Art Museum at Whippoorwill Academy.

Tom Dooley is not the only notorious criminal in Wilkes County history. Bandit Otto Wood offered a fascinating story in his life history, recorded while he was in prison for the murder of a Greensboro man. Otto Wood inspired his own ballad, Otto Wood: The Bandit, recorded in 1931 by the Carolina Buddies. The text of his autobiography in the North Wilkesboro News is on display in the genealogy room of the library. Also on display at the library is the original ball and chain worn by Otto Wood during his incarceration.

Other works of interest include:

The Mystery of Beautiful Nell Cropsey by Bland Simpson. As compelling as fiction, The Mystery of Beautiful Nell Cropsey tells the dramatic story of the disappearance of nineteen-year-old Nell Cropsey from her riverside home in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, in November 1901. Bloodhounds, detectives, divers, and even a psychic were brought in to search for her, and the case immediately became a national sensation. Bland Simpson, who first heard the tale as an Elizabeth City schoolboy, weaves this true story into a colorful nonfiction account, told in three first-person voices: Nell's sister Ollie; famous newspaper editor W. O. Saunders, who covered the case as a young reporter; and Jim Wilcox, Nell's beau, who was implicated in the case. Nell and Jim's romance, her disappearance, the great search, the trials, and their aftermath are artfully reconstructed from interviews, court records, and newspaper accounts. From the book Word spread like that into the swamps where the slaves had run, where convicts had run--mightn't Nell Cropsey run there too? Back deep toward the lake at the heart of the great Swamp, where the ghost of an Indian girl searched each night for her lost lover, by firefly lamp, gliding in her white canoe. And word spread far beyond those low tidelands, as the dailies in the big Eastern cities of Baltimore and Philadelphia and New York played up the mystery til Nell Cropsey and Jim Wilcox were the talk of the nation and the booming little river port Elizabeth City was suddenly on the map.

Blood Done Sign My Name by Timothy B. Tyson. In this outstanding personal history, Tyson, a professor of African-American studies who's white, unflinchingly examines the civil rights struggle in the South. The book focuses on the murder of a young black man, Henry Marrow, in 1970, a tragedy that dramatically widened the racial gap in the author's hometown of Oxford, N.C. Tyson portrays the killing and its aftermath from multiple perspectives, including that of his contemporary, 10-year-old self; his progressive Methodist pastor father, who strove to lead his parishioners to overcome their prejudices; members of the disempowered black community; one of the killers; and his older self, who comes to Oxford with a historian's eye. He also artfully interweaves the history of race relations in the South, carefully and convincingly rejecting less complex and self-serving versions ("violence and nonviolence were both more ethically complicated-and more tightly intertwined-than they appeared in most media accounts and history books"). A gifted writer, he celebrates a number of inspirational unsung heroes, ranging from his father to a respected elderly schoolteacher who spoke out at a crucial point to quash a white congregation's rebellion over an invitation to a black minister. Tyson's avoidance of stereotypes and simple answers brings a shameful recent era in our country's history to vivid life. This book deserves the largest possible audience.

Until He Is Dead: Capital Punishment in Western North Carolina History by Tom Rusher. Rusher is a former District Attorney who was elected to serve the counties of Watauga, Avery, Mitchell, Yancey and Madison for twenty years. During his career as a prosecutor, Rusher developed a hobby studying and collecting information, legends and lore about death penalty cases in the mountain counties and “Until He Is Dead” is a result of that long-standing hobby. He covers several trials in western North Carolina including the trial of the infamous Potter cousins. Boone and Clarence, of Pottertown in Watauga County and the Avery County trial of Reid Coffey’s murderer, whose sentence was first commuted and then paroled through political pressure on the Governor of North Carolina.

Deadly Greed: The McEachern Murders in Hamlet, North Carolina by Clark Cox. Deadly Greed, a true crime story, recalls the murders to Maceo and Vela McEachern of Hamlet, North Carolina in 1991. The African-American family lived in Rockingham County and their murders made headlines and shocked the community. No one expected murders could happen there. Through hard work, Maceo and Vela McEachern became financially and socially prominent. Their situation was unusual for African-Americans in that place and time. Cox, a former journalist, tells the story of the crime, the trial, and the eventual fate of the murder (and those surrounding him). The story is told in short chapters using the clear, precise language of journalism.

Unholy Covenant: A True Story of Murder in North Carolina by Lynn Chandler-Willis. Radiant in her white satin wedding gown, Patricia Blakley was living a dream come true. At last, she was marrying the man she loved, Ted Kimble-a fellow Christian and son of a local preacher. But little did she realize her new husband had a dark side. Shock waves rocked the small, North Carolina town of Pleasant Garden when Patricia's charred body was discovered inside the Kimble's burned-out home. Soon family and friends learned an even worse truth-Patricia had died from a bullet wound to the head. Now, in Unholy Covenant, North Carolina journalist Lynn Chandler-Willis uncovers the story behind the crime. Taking readers from the crime scene to the courtroom, she delivers a passionate account of a crime that forever changed the lives of many in the small North Carolina community.

Other similar titles include:

Jerry Bledsoe's
  • Before He Wakes: A True Story of Money, Marriage, Sex, and Murder
  • Bitter Blood: A True Story of Southern Family Pride, Madness, and Multiple Murder
  • Blood Games: A True Account of Family Murder

Joe McGinniss's

  • Cruel Doubt
  • Fatal Vision

Jim Schutze's

  • Preacher's Girl: The Life and Crimes of Blanche Taylor Moore

Too much gore for your taste? Try Darin Strauss's Chang and Eng. This fictionalized account is based on the life of Chang and Eng Bunker, the original Siamese twins. For more information about Chang and Eng, visit this link:

Chang and Eng.