Category Archives: Cumberland

Cumberland

Shelley Pearsall. Jump into the Sky. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012.

Jump into the SkyChange is nothing new to thirteen-year- old Levi Battle. He is well acquainted with getting passed around and traded off among relatives. His mother, Queen Bee Walker, a beautiful but demanding jazz singer, abandoned Levi as an infant in an old Ford in the parking lot of a jazz club because she was dissatisfied with her unglamorous lifestyle and the weight of her maternal obligations. His father, Charles Battle, left Levi behind to serve as an army lieutenant in World War II. By contrast to his family, Levi views himself as a person who sticks around, even though his relatives are constantly shifting.

In his father’s absence, Levi lived first in the custody of his grandmother. Upon her death, he was transferred to the care of his Aunt Odella. The novel begins in the spring of 1945. After three years of housing her nephew, Aunt Odella has decided that since the war is almost over, the time has arrived for Levi to depart Chicago and reconnect with his father who is stationed in Fayetteville. Truth be told, she is tired of her charge and wants a reprieve from her responsibility. For three years she has slept on a cot in her living room to make space for Levi in her cramped apartment. With the end of the war in sight, Aunt Odella sees the opportunity for her personal liberation too.

So Aunt Odella packs Levi onto a train from Illinois to North Carolina with a suitcase and a bag of fried chicken. Levi is panic-stricken. He fears that he will arrive at his father’s army post unwanted. As the train travels further South, Levi faces another unexpected trouble as well–racism. Before relocating, Levi was unaware of the full extent of regional differences toward race. He is unaccustomed to the open hostility that he meets in the South. On his route and upon his arrival to North Carolina, he makes a couple of honest faux pas that do not jibe with the laws of Jim Crow. In one hard lesson, a shopkeeper threatens Levi’s life when he asks for a Coca-Cola. Following that encounter, Levi understands Southern racial etiquette with greater clarity.

With a little bit of luck, Levi manages to arrive unharmed in Fayetteville only to discover that his father’s unit has moved out to a new, undisclosed location. Yet again, he has been deserted, albeit unintentionally. The people in Levi’s life do not appear to discard him totally out of malevolence. Outside factors seem to nudge between Levi and his family and snip the ties. During his time in North Carolina, Levi encounters an old sweetgrass basket weaver named MawMaw Sands who teaches him that at the center of every basket is “a knot of pain” that anchors its foundation. In MawMaw Sands’ opinion, pain and sweetness are interwoven in life. Levi’s life appears knotted with an especially large amount of pain. His challenge is to clutch at the sweetness he can find and braid it in, no matter the struggle.

Novelist Shelley Pearsall sends Levi on a journey to unexpected locations across the country in pursuit of his father. Family, is not so easily found or established, and, as Pearsall reveals, these bonds must sometimes be learned anew. This book is intended for children and young adults, however, Pearsall’s memorable characters and witty narrator could hook readers of any age. Additionally, the portrayal of racism from Levi’s adolescent and unfamiliar perspective is poignant in its genuine and innocent surprise.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Children & Young Adults, Coastal Plain, Cumberland, Moore, Pearsall, Shelley, Piedmont

Karen Foley. Coming Up for Air. Toronto: Harlequin, 2012.

comingupforairArmy captain Jenna Larson is an ace Black Hawk helicopter pilot on her way from Fort Drum in New York to Kabul Airbase in Afghanistan. Stuck at Fort Bragg in North Carolina for three days before heading out, Jenna finds herself running into the same handsome serviceman over and over. Her nosy Warrant Officer and best friend, Laura Costanza, ID’s him– he’s Chase Rawlins, a soon-to-be-deployed, serious-minded special ops officer. When Jenna next sees him at a local bar, he seems just as attracted to her as she is to him. One thing leads to another. Jenna files the memorable encounter away in her head for later, when she’s running dangerous missions in Afghanistan. She never thinks she’ll see Chase Rawlins again.

In fact, she’d be surprised to learn that she has never met Chase Rawlins to begin with. Her tryst was not with him, but with his identical twin brother Chance– a hot-headed, devilish Apache helicopter pilot. When Jenna’s path crosses that of the real Chase in Afghanistan, she’s surprised and disappointed but stoic about his blank response to her presence…until she runs into Chance the same day. Chance hasn’t been able to stop thinking about Jenna, and when he finally sets her case of mistaken identity to rights, she isn’t pleased. Jenna has rules about sleeping with other pilots. Will Chance get a second chance with Jenna? And is their budding romance able to withstand both Afghanistan and the United States Army’s strict regulations?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Coastal Plain, Cumberland, Foley, Karen, Harnett, Hoke, Moore, Romance/Relationship

Corrine Jackson. If I Lie. New York: Simon Pulse, 2012.

lieWhen you’re in high school, things can seem very black-or-white. Girl cheats on her boyfriend who is a Marine on duty in Afghanistan, she’s trash. When that boyfriend is MIA after a firefight, the whole town shuns her and calls her ugly names.  Since this girl is the child of a woman who ran off with another man, even her own father treats her with a cold disdain. Like mother, like daughter.

This is Sophie Topper Quinn’s life. Quinn–the name her father insists on–has learned to accept her father’s cold manner. In the years since her mother left, Quinn has wondered what role she might have played in her mother’s departure. She can’t say that her father’s behavior is unreasonable, but she is shocked to find herself so on her own after a photo surfaces on Facebook that shows her kissing someone other than Carey Breen. No one knows that Quinn turned to someone else after Carey told her her that he was gay and asked her help in covering that for him in their small military town.

To keep Quinn out of trouble, her dad arranges for her to volunteer at the Veterans Administration Hospital in nearby Fayetteville.  There she becomes friends with George Wilkins, a retired military photographer.  George recognizes Quinn’s talent and enlists her to work with him on the Veterans History Project. Quinn’s edgy defensiveness does not put off George and as their friendship grows, he helps her navigate additional curve balls–like her mother’s return–that come her way.

Although If I Lie focuses on how Quinn responds the turmoil in her life, readers also get a look into the lives of other characters, particularly George, Quinn’s mother, and Carey’s best friend, Blake.  All have behaved in ways that they regret, without mercy or grace to themselves or those closest to them. By placing this coming-of-age novel in a military town in the Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell Era, Corrine Jackson has produced a book that will engage both young adult and mature readers.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Children & Young Adults, Coastal Plain, Cumberland, Jackson, Corrine, Onslow

Richard Folsom. Indian Wood. [United States: BookSurge?], 2009.

Is it possible that three people were murdered because of something they found on an old reel of microfilm?  That’s what newspaperman Luther Surles wants to find out in this mystery that moves between the Court of Queen Elizabeth I and present day Greenville and Lumberton, North Carolina.

Carl Burden and Luther Surles met when they were covering a Klan rally in Robeson County in 1958. Carl was a cub reporter; Luther had been a newspaperman for a few years.  Luther stayed in journalism, but Carl went to graduate school and eventually became a history professor at East Carolina University.  Carl’s research interest is the Lost Colony and a possible connection between the colonists and the Lumbee Tribe.

Carl’s new graduate student, the lovely Roberta Locklear, is also interested in a Lost Colony-Lumbee connection, and soon both Carl’s research and his love life heat up.  But Roberta has her own history, and Luther begins to suspect that some piece of that ties into Carl’s murder.  This novel moves weaves stories of the wars, exploitation, and double-dealing of earlier centuries with a very twenty-first century story of property development and greed.  As a bonus, the book contains a novel-within-a-novel–Carl’s historical novella on the Lost Colony.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Coast, Coastal Plain, Cumberland, Dare, Folsom, Richard, Greene, Historical, Mystery, Robeson

Edward Vaughn. A Bite of the Apple. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2010.

Mike Dawson has it all: a doting wife, Diane, three healthy and happy children, and a successful career as a pastor in a growing church. Although he grew up being neglected by his alcoholic and abusive parents, Mike is providing a different environment for his family. This all changes when his affairs with congregation members, including the church organist, come to light.

Although Diane and his children want nothing to do with him, Mike seeks treatment for his sex addiction in the hope that they will one day accept him. He experiences lapses and periods of extreme self-pity, but Mike eventually is able to control his obsession. When Mike and Diane’s older son dies tragically in a car accident, the family is reunited in their sorrow.

Although the Dawsons experience unimaginable pain, their shared experiences help them to confront other issues–including teen pregnancy and a diagnosis of HIV–with each other’s love, support, and understanding.

A Bite of the Apple is the fifth novel in Edward Vaughn’s “Cumberland County Series.”

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Coastal Plain, Cumberland, Novels in Series, Romance/Relationship, Vaughn, Edward

Edward Vaughn. The Forgiven. New York: Xlibris, 2007.

Kathleen Kelley grew up in a sheltered and deeply religious family in Omaha, Nebraska. Her strict parents placed well-intended expectations on her, and their daughter grew up to be very naive. When Kathleen follows her boyfriend to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, she cuts ties with her family and entrusts her future to someone she does not know very well. He quickly proves to be a poor choice, and Kathleen soon finds herself alone and penniless. She begins dancing and becomes a cocaine addict, eventually prostituting herself.

Although Kathleen is miserable at the turn in her life, she finds a glimmer of hope in her daughter. Sadly, one of her johns violates her trust and kidnaps her child, molesting the girl before killing her. Kathleen is heartbroken, but the police and media rapidly condemn her as the murderer. She does not refute her negligence, but Kathleen venomously denies committing the heinous murder.

Though most people in Cumberland County persecute Kathleen, her public defender does not believe that someone who had previously trained to become a nun would later kill her daughter. He works to clear her name and to find the criminal; he also falls in love with his client. Throughout her ordeal, Kathleen must find the strength to forgive herself for her past life in order to start anew as an exonerated citizen and loved wife.

The Forgiven is the second novel in Edward Vaughn’s “Cumberland County Series.”

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Coastal Plain, Cumberland, Novels in Series, Suspense/Thriller, Vaughn, Edward

Edith Edwards. From Hallowed Ground. April Publishing Company, 2009.

The death of a loved one results in grief, and the length and magnitude of this response varies for every person. Deep depression sets in for Lucy James after the death of her husband, and her friends become very concerned about her well-being. After a few months of mourning, they suggest that she get out of the house and confront what her life will be like without Charlie. Spending more time with, Dottie, her English Setter, seashell collecting, committees, after-school tutoring, and running for the school board are some of the projects that Lucy undertakes to appease her friends’ concern. As she involves herself in more community activities, Lucy finds that she is able to live without the constant cloud of sorrow hanging over her. In fact, she identifies signs – the sound of his voice or the presence of a red rose – that Charlie is still with her. She needs the comfort of his spirit when the ugliness of the election and opposition to her work with a slave reburial site is compounded by her violent rape and the sexual abuse of one of her tutoring students. As Lucy faces her future without Charlie, she finds her purpose in opening her heart and in serving others.

Edwards’ first book, The Ghosts of Turtle Nest, introduced readers to Lucy James.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Brunswick, Coast, Cumberland, Edwards, Edith, Religious/Inspirational

Edward Vaughn. The Paths of Glory. Charleston, SC: BookSurge, 2009.

The reader is introduced to Mac McDermott as he is contemplating suicide. Although he once led a happy, successful life, Mac’s nasty divorce from his vindictive second wife, Martha, his estrangement from his son and two stepsons, and the loss of his high-paying job has led to a deep depression. The mounting bills and his dependence on alcohol have not helped his situation, and he concludes that a boating accident is his best way “out.” While at sea, Mac is mysteriously saved by the spirit of his stepfather, who encourages Mac to abandon his plans. That night, Mac wins the lottery. The $40 million prize takes care of his money problems, and he finds a new lease on life, which includes trying to make peace with his former wives.

Things are going well for Mac and his girlfriend, Loretta, until Martha is found dead in her swimming pool the day after Mac’s visit. He is immediately suspected of her murder, and after a quick trial, the jury finds him guilty. Z, the private investigator Mac enlisted before and during the trial, will not rest after Mac is put on death row, and he continues searching for clues. Z reaches the conclusion that Martha faked her death to collect her life insurance money and that she had no problem incriminating Mac in her scheme. Her plan almost works, but Z finds justice for Mac, and he is once again able to find contentment.

The Paths of Glory is Edward Vaughn’s fourth novel in his “Cumberland County Series.”

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Coastal Plain, Cumberland, Novels in Series, Suspense/Thriller, Vaughn, Edward

Edward Vaughn. The Evil That Men Do. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2007.

The Ku Klux Klan was a dividing force in many southern families in the middle of the twentieth century. For the Morris-McConnell family of Cumberland County this is especially true. In a story that spans the 1930s to the early 1960s, the reader witnesses how the hate group affected relationships as well as influenced opinions. Opening on the day of LT McConnell’s birth, this novel reveals how ingrained the KKK is in the lives of Wadesville men. LT’s father, grandfather, and doctor are all members. However, LT’s strong-willed mother, Birdie, has no respect for the group, and she teaches her son to be accepting of all people. For example, one of Birdie’s best friends is Sara Willis, the black woman she insisted deliver LT, much to her husband’s displeasure. Birdie’s resolute attitude against the KKK puts her at odds with many member of the community, including her husband and father.

When LT’s father is away serving in World War II, Birdie takes over his poorly-run weekly newspaper, turning it into a respected daily publication and fulfilling her dream of a career in journalism. Because she writes with a liberal tilt and encourages Sara to write a medical column in the paper, Birdie captures the attention of the local KKK. When she and her friends find suspicious fires set on their properties, they persuade LT, who is now a Duke medical student, to infiltrate the KKK so that they will be aware of the group’s next move. Tricking his grandfather into believing that he disagrees with his mother’s “socialist” ideas, LT joins the KKK and learns that members plan to burn down Sara’s house – with her in it. With the help of the FBI, LT is able to protect his mother and her friends from danger and to shut down the local KKK. LT and Birdie are willing to take a stand against the hate group, even if it means going against his or her father’s wishes and putting their lives in peril.

The Evil That Men Do is Edward Vaughn’s first novel in his “Cumberland County Series.”

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Coastal Plain, Cumberland, Historical, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Vaughn, Edward

Suzetta Perkins. Déjà Vu. Largo, MD: Strebor Books, 2009.

In Suzetta Perkins’ earlier novel, Behind the Veil,  Margo Myles is betrayed by her closest confidants: her husband of twenty-five years, her long-term next door neighbor, and her very best friend in the world. In  Déjà Vu, Angelica Barnes (Margo’s best friend) is at the center of the drama.  Recently released from prison after being caught up in the “Operation Stingray” that got Margo’s husband into trouble, Angelica is trying to get her life back on track and to mend broken relationships.  However, she finds that making a new life in North Carolina will be too difficult; everyone in Fayetteville knows all about her past.  Angelica decides to move to New York City after being offered a job as a model, but the turmoil from her previous life follows her.  Robert Santiago, the ringleader of the criminal organization Operation Stingray finds her so that she can “repay her debt” to him.  Angelica, her family, and her friends are in danger as Santiago terrorizes and kills those who undid his schemes five years ago.  Angelica hopes that Margo will forgive her and help her, but Margo is struggling to reconnect with her husband who has just been released from prison.  Finally, it takes intervention from an outsider who is not what he appears to be to prevent Santiago from harming more people.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Coastal Plain, Cumberland, Perkins, Suzetta, Suspense/Thriller