Book explores past murders in the mountains

“The lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine.”
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A walking tour of Paris and the arts

Every once in a while I like to go back and read the classics, especially those that have managed to…
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Literature as a defensive fortification

It’s late summer, but the song lyrics still work: living is supposed to be easy. So I’m looking for some…
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Good folks and a wicked man

Years ago, a friend and I were watching some news show like 60 Minutes about juvenile murderers. The point of…
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A light in our darkness: Michael O’Brien’s The Lighthouse

So it’s a late Thursday afternoon, and I’m sitting on the front porch finishing up a novel when my eyes…
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Doubling up: a review of Basil’s War and Bourdain’s World Travel

I’ve long been a fan of Stephen Hunter’s novels, particularly his series about Bob Lee Swagger. Swagger is a sniper,…
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A quiet place: the book nook

Readers generally look for a special place to sink into their books, to escape the noise and hubbub of the…
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A story of immigrants gone missing

Asheville’s own Terry Roberts is back again with another page-turner in the form of a brand new novel just released…
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Imagining Bob Dylan’s fictional youth

As a reader, I tend to get on jags with authors whom I admire. Recently, I’ve discovered the work of…
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Worlds apart: a look at two very different books

The last four months of 1862 brought blood and slaughter to the armies of the South and the North. Earlier…
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Ken Follett’s tribute to Notre Dame

On April 15, 2019, Notre-Dame de Paris, one of the world’s most beloved architectural landmarks, caught fire. The blaze started…
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A shiner’s tale, a woman’s perspective

In a literary genre (Appalachian noir) dominated by men, Amy Jo Burns’ new novel Shiner breaks through barriers and the…
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Surprised by Stewart’s ‘Very Good Things’

Most of us like comeback stories.
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Perhaps we all need to laugh a little more

Recently I realized I needed to laugh more often.  I do laugh when I’m on the phone with one of…
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A few lessons in virtue from a veteran

On the shelves around the room where I write and work a visitor would find all sorts of books, including…
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Neanderthals were smarter than we thought

Toward the end of 2020, I reviewed a book here titled The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron. This was fiction…
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Peterson updates his popular ‘Rules for Life’

In 2018, Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos became an international bestseller, and Peterson himself became…
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The poetry of living off the grid

If the word “value” is to mean anything, it should at least apply to two or more things. First it…
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Insight into the power of listening

Have you ever engaged in a political argument where instead of listening to your opponent your mind is furiously creating…
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Reflections on spirituality, creativity and art

Sometimes a book can overwhelm us with its energy and its wisdom. Like most readers, I love when a writer,…
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Throwing punches and having some fun

Jack Reacher must own the toughest set of knuckles on planet Earth. About halfway through the latest Reacher saga, The…
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Unhappy reading vs. happy reading

Books, books, books, and more books. After a long hiatus, in the last month books have again become my daily…
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It’s National Poetry Month: Join the party!

Time to party, everyone! April is here, and along with warmer weather, blossoms and flowers, and grass grown green, April…
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Pick up a book and travel

If you are like me and have been more than somewhat stranded by the pandemic for the past year or…
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Book details atrocities in Chinese factories

Historically, and presently, the women at Masanjia experienced worse torture and degradation than men. The guards would jam and twist…
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Taking a vacation with Nicholas Sparks

February and early March were a little rough on your reviewer. We got slammed with some bad weather — snow…
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Spilling words like a house afire

News flash: Buncombe County author Wayne Caldwell is also a poet! Evidenced by his just-released collection Woodsmoke (Blair Publications, Durham)…
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Silence, devils, pollyanna and peace of mind

“What happens to people who live inside their phones?” In his short novel The Silence (Simon & Schuster, Inc. 2020,…
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Blindsided by Rachel Hollis

My sister, her husband, and a friend recently visited me for several days. Though I don’t own a television, there’s…
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An excellent history lesson

Having recently read and reviewed for the Smoky Mountain Living magazine Vicki Lane’s And The Crows Took Their Eyes, a…
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Lit-bits: a wild week with books and words

Sometimes I feel waist deep not in flood waters, troubles, quandaries, or even grandchildren, but in books, literature, literary classics,…
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A look inside a Nazi family

About 10 years ago, I was standing in the checkout line at my local Ingles. The clerk, age 19 or…
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Ginseng, family, friends and home

Many of us who read novels find ourselves in awe of authors who create a landscape and a place so…
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An earth-focused vision for the future

David  Suzuki is an internationally renowned geneticist and environmentalist and is the author of more than 40 books and recipient…
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Joys and comforts of cooking: Kitchen Yarns

Before taking a look at Ann Hood’s Kitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Love, and Food (W.W. Norton & Company, 229…
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For what would you lay down your life?

Not everyone will enjoy Michael Walsh’s Last Stands: Why Men Fight When All Is Lost (St. Martin’s Press, 2020, 358…
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Life, dreams, canoes and rivers

One fond childhood memory involves a yellow fiberglass canoe and the Yadkin River. My dad, one of my younger brothers,…
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Secrets, winning friends, and ‘Ivanhoe’

All families have their secrets, but some families have deeper and darker secrets than others. In June Titus’s novel Banjo Man…
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A resolution to get back to the books

Harper Lee of To Kill A Mockingbird fame once wrote, “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved…
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Folks and faith: two books about the South

In his short essay, “Dear Santa (Again),” Rick Bragg writes, “For my big brother Sam, I would like you to…
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Honoring the old ways

“I make a prayer for words. Let me say my heart.” — M. Scott Momaday As the winner of almost all…
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Too many books, too little time: books unread but recognized

For five years or so, Nick Hornby’s Ten Years In The Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books has occupied…
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Tracing the human family tree

As someone who was an anthropology major in college and have been somewhat obsessed by the truth behind the idea…
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Helpful, innocent, sweet, informative: four reads

As I write this book review, the presidential election is one day away. Like many of my readers, I have…
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A voice of his own: the stories of Ed Stansell

So you’re a reader, a lover of books and the printed word, and if the pandemic permits, you visit your…
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Sitting in the sweetgrass of freedom

“I want to dance for the renewal of the world.” —Robin Wall Kimmerer
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Finding joy and exploring a museum

Near the beginning of Katherine Center’s novel What You Wish For (St. Martin’s Press, 2020, 309 pages), school librarian Samantha…
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Some books for the little ones, some fun for you

It’s time to put away the books About politicos and other crooks, No more fat novels for today, It’s time…
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Good reads: romance, cupcakes, and the Constitution

So why would a guy approaching 70 select for review a “Contemporary Romance” about the owner of a cupcake and…
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Digging into history: a visit to Jamestown

Right after Labor Day, my friend John and I traveled to Virginia’s Historic Triangle: Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown. A paper…
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