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Book Reviews

With the exception of Civil War buffs, few today will remember Varina Howell Davis (1826-1906), wife to Jefferson Davis and the only first lady of the Confederate States of America. Read more

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In The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home, Denise Kiernan once again acts as an entertaining and knowledgeable docent as she tells the story of the Biltmore House. Read more

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Backpack Explorer: On the Nature Trail is a take-along guide for children ages 4 and up, designed to jump start their curiosity about nature. Read more

Outdoors

To the left of the desk where I work stands a small shelf containing 114 books—I just counted them—nearly all of which are collections of essays. Standing shoulder to shoulder in this crowd are counselors, comedians, critics, sinners and saints. Read more

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In her 2014 Annaliese From Off, novelist and journalist Lindy Keane Carter introduced readers to Annaliese Stregal, a young wife and mother who follows her husband away from a comfortable life in Louisville, Kentucky, to the hills of North Georgia. Read more

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Atomic City

Photo by James E. Westcott, Official US Army Photographer for the Manhattan Project. American Museum of Science and Energy, amse.org.

In The Atomic City Girls, novelist Janet Beard takes her readers to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the birth of the nuclear world. Read more

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In August 1940, five days of thunderstorms and torrential rains brought massive flooding to large parts of Western North Carolina. Read more

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Sometimes a writer so imaginatively recreates a place and a people that the book becomes a time machine, sweeping us into the past so effectively that when we finish reading the last page we feel as if we have breathed the air of a different century. Read more

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Avery McGaha photo

In Flat Broke With Two Goats: A Memoir of Appalachia, Asheville writer Jennifer McGaha takes readers on a wild ride through disaster and triumph. Read more

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I stopped doing CD and book reviews at the end of 2013, but reading Becky Mushko’s latest book Them That Go, set in the 1970s in the same Virginia mountains where I was born and raised, has inspired me to put on my reviewer’s cap one last time. Read more

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I delight in books of literary compendia. Sometimes, of course, I quarrel with the selections. Read more

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Have you ever pulled into an overlook in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and gazed across the distance at the rippling mountain peaks and wondered, what are the names of all those mountains? Do they have stories to tell? Read more

Outdoors

The holidays are approaching, and once again you have no idea what to give your beloved Uncle Fergus and Aunt Ida. What to do? What the blazes do you give such people? Well, books, of course. But not just any books. Read more

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In Family of Earth, we find the seeds that would blossom in Wilma Dykeman’s later writing. Her love for the mountains, her concern for the environment and her ability to treat as equals people from varying backgrounds. Read more

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Reading list

Joshua Moore Photo

With June here, let’s wander the shelves and pick over some travel books. Whether you are living in Western North Carolina or just visiting, here is a smorgasbord of guidebooks that should enrich your explorations. Read more

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“There are things that only pot likker can cure & times when what actually matters can be spooned on to a plate — the savories & the sweetest of things that simply taste like my North Carolina home.” — Sheila Smith McKay, Home in Mind Read more

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Sometimes commendable works of literature go out of print or fade away with the death of their author, only to be rescued and given new life by champions who have loved and admired them. Read more

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This year, the muses of literature by North Carolina authors served up a feast of nectar and ambrosia, which—were I not speaking metaphorically—would make for some sticky reading. Read more

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Home. The word slips from the mouth as easily as an exhalation of air. We don’t need to finagle over the word’s definition because, for each of us, home—like love—carries its own special connotations. Read more

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In Over the Plain Houses, Atlanta writer Julia Franks gives us a powerful story of a disintegrating marriage, social change, and religious struggles, all set in Southern Appalachia. Read more

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