Read local: Top books by Charlotte or N.C. writers
Plus: New local crossword + News of the week — Retention bonuses coming for school staff — 2022 elections delayed — whispers of an election bid for Patrick Cannon — new SouthPark taxing district
Good morning! Today is Saturday, December 11, 2021. You’re reading The Charlotte Ledger’s Weekend Edition. You might enjoy listening to our audio version on Spotify 🎧.
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Today’s Charlotte Ledger is sponsored by Carroll Financial. Carroll Financial recently joined forces with Wealth Enhancement Group to offer even more financial planning and investment services to the Carolinas.
From an N.C. mountain murder mystery to Charlotte historical fiction, recommendations from a librarian and podcaster
by Cristina Bolling
Books may be one of the most perfect holiday gifts — there’s no fit or color choices to stress over, no worries about taking up too much shelf space or being hard to tuck into a suitcase.
In the spirit of making your holiday shopping a little easier (or giving yourself something enriching to do with your downtime this winter) we’ve asked two people who spend lots of time scoping out great books to share five of their favorites published in 2021 by Charlotte or North Carolina authors. We’ve also listed a few books by local authors that’ve been getting a lot of buzz recently.
Sally Deason is an adult services librarian at the Mint Hill branch of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library who takes great joy in spreading the word of new literature. “I truly love the part of my job that is suggesting new authors or titles to the wider community,” she told The Ledger.
And Landis Wade is the host of the Charlotte Readers Podcast, in which he interviews authors from North Carolina and across the country. He’s recorded nearly 270 podcasts with storytellers and poets, getting to the depth and insight behind their works.
Enjoy these recommendations, and if you have a locally penned 2021 book recommendation of your own, let us know and we’ll include it in a future edition of The Ledger.
Sally Deason’s recommendations
📗 When Ghosts Come Home by Wiley Cash. A mystery unfolds after a plane crashed at an airfield in eastern North Carolina near the coast. Local personalities emerge in the suspenseful novel alongside larger social issues from the past. Well worth the read.
📗 Doctors and Friends by Kimmery Martin. Author of two previous novels, Kimmery Martin practiced medicine for years prior to launching a successful writing career. This novel delves into female friendships begun in medical school that continued into a pandemic. Written before Covid but eerily familiar to our current situation, Martin develops great characters with the wildness of a pandemic as the collective setting.
📗 Tomorrow’s Bread by Anna Jean Mayhew. Though published in 2019, this title did not come across my desk until 2021. Selected as the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Community Read for 2022, this historical fiction relied heavily on primary sources from the North Carolina Room (in the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library). Set in 1960s Charlotte, the story follows three adults: an African American woman living in the Brooklyn neighborhood, soon to be demolished for Urban Renewal; an African-American pastor from the same neighborhood; and a white woman from the Myers Park neighborhood. Truly, it is a great book to read and consider with the current affordable housing crisis.
📗 Mergers and Acquisitions: Or, Everything I Learned About Love I Learned on the Wedding Pages by Cate Doty. Doty lives in Raleigh and attended UNC Chapel Hill before her career at the New York Times on the wedding pages. The book gives some neat insights into working at the New York Times, and in particular, for one of the sections most sought after in any paper pre-internet. Her references to the “South” and cultural shifts highlight other changes that occurred during the 2000s.
📗Fatal Scores by Mark de Castrique. The 8th installment in the Sam Blackmon Series, this murder mystery continues in the Western North Carolina area, but this time the focus has an environmental twist. One of the best mystery writers from North Carolina!
Landis Wade’s recommendations
📕 Triangle True Crime Stories by Cathy Pickens, a Charlotte award-winning mystery and true crime author. This is the third book in a series of North Carolina true crime stories, the first being Charlotte True Crime Stories, published in 2019. In this third collection, Cathy Pickens explores headline-grabbing tales that show the sinister side of the Triangle’s cities, where readers can learn about the nation’s largest prison escape, a couple of North Carolina’s poisoners, and other stories of murder, fraud, and betrayal. The stories are old in a way that only an award-winning mystery writer can tell them.
📕 My Mistress’ Eyes are Raven Black, by Terry Roberts, an Asheville award-winning literary fiction author. This is a literary mystery that explores the disturbing lengths some people will go to protect racial purity and condemn those that are different, the ones they fear. The book is set on Ellis Island in 1920. A young, pregnant Irish woman disappears from the Isolation Hospital on Ellis Island. Stephen Robbins, a specialist in finding missing persons, discovers an inexplicable string of deaths and disappearances among immigrant patients … and a staff that appears to be hiding a chilling secret.
📕 The Unwilling by John Hart, a six-time New York Times bestselling author. The book is set in Charlotte, during the height of the Vietnam War. It’s a novel inspired by the courage and sacrifice shown by soldiers who fought in that conflict. Booklist calls the book “another scorcher.” Mystery and Suspense Magazine describes the book as “a very enjoyable, twisty ride.” AARP uses the words “unforgettable and propulsive.” Several New York Times bestselling authors say the book “is crime fiction at its absolute best,” “richly complex” and “somehow, raw, tender, brutal and exquisite–all at the same time. Exceptional.”
📕 The Tannery by Michael Almond, a retired international business attorney who practiced in Charlotte. This is a story of racial injustice in 1900 in Wilkes County, North Carolina. It is a fast-paced courtroom drama set in the post-Reconstruction South laced with the truth of an early 1900s past gone backward. The Tannery will have readers wondering until the very end whether there is any hope for a 16-year-old Black boy on trial for murder and the young white lawyer who represents him. It reflects issues prominent in today’s headlines, themes of Black voter suppression and intimidation, and the violence and depravity of vigilante “justice.”
📕 Teaching During the Jurassic: Wit and Wisdom from an old Hippie Teacher by Martin Settle, a Charlotte artist, poet, author and photographer retired from a long career teaching English to high school and college students. This is a memoir in the vein of Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods,” but instead of the Appalachian Trail, we follow the twists and turns of Martin Settle’s teaching career from his first approach to teaching as a hippie subversive to his eventual triumph as a self-actualized person. Part memoir, part teaching guide, this book charts what Settle calls the “Jurassic” period of teaching with a humorous and poignant touch — it’s a world without personal computers, cell phones, or internet, where new social movements invade the classroom (women’s rights, civil rights, and gay rights). It’s a thought-provoking take on what it means to be a teacher.
Other books with local buzz
Noted Memories – How A Kid from Charlotte Had a Moment with Tony, Aretha, Bonnie, Sheryl and More by Larry Farber. Charlottean Larry Farber describes growing up playing in bands, performing at weddings and parties and then forging a career booking bands for a living, opening a private music club called Music with Friends and then Middle C Jazz Club in uptown Charlotte.
The P is Silent: pREACH by Lisa Saunders, a priest who has been on the staff at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlotte for 34 years. Saunders explores the challenge of preaching in this book, which is her second.
Coming Home: Recipes and Reflections from a Life in the Spotlight by Barbara McKay. Longtime Charlotte TV personality Barbara McKay’s memoir weaves together memories and stories from her life with some of her favorite recipes and those of her friends and family. (The Ledger interviewed McKay about her book last month.)
The Vote Collectors: The True Story of the Scamsters, Politicians, and Preachers behind the Nation’s Greatest Electoral Fraud by Michael Graff and Nick Ochsner. Graff, an Axios Charlotte writer and editor and Ochsner, a WBTV investigative reporter, chronicle 2018 election corruption in Bladen County that drew national attention to North Carolina and put a spotlight on issues of voter fraud and election integrity.
Old Breed General: How Marine Corps General William H. Rupertus Broke the Back of the Japanese in World War II from Guadalcanal to Peleliu by Amy Rupertus Peacock and Don Brown. Peacock — a Charlotte fitness trainer, running coach and author — recounts the career of Maj. Gen. William H. Rupertus, who led the 1st Marine Division in the Pacific during World War II. Publishers Weekly says it provides “plenty of drama and action” and “gives its subject well-deserved recognition.”
Cristina Bolling is managing editor of The Ledger: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Ledger Crossword, Week 4
It’s Week 4 of our Charlotte-themed crosswords — the second to last week of this current run.
We’re experimenting with crosswords to see if our readers like them, and whether they’re something we should continue in the future.
You can find the crosswords and answers in this series as they are released at our Charlotte Ledger Crosswords page. Puzzles are posted Saturdays, with solutions posted Mondays. They’re created by Chris King, edited by Tim Whitmire and presented by CXN Advisory.
Let us know what you think, and whether we should create more crosswords in the future. Email email@example.com.
.PDF (suitable for download and printing):
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.PUZ (suitable for use on tablets and computers with Across Lite app):
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This week in Charlotte: Elections delayed, teacher bonuses, Hornets with Covid, airline CEO retires, a Patrick Cannon comeback?
On Saturdays, The Ledger sifts through the local news of the week and links to the top articles — even if they appeared somewhere else. We’ll help you get caught up. That’s what Saturdays are for.
School staff bonuses: (WFAE) All Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools employees will get bonuses this month as part of an employee retention program aimed at recruiting and keeping employees. Full-time workers will receive $2,500 and part time employees will get $1,250. Half of the bonuses will be paid on Dec. 22 and the second half will be paid in September 2022. Union County also voted to give school staff bonuses of $2,000 for full-time staff and $1,000 for part-timers. Substitutes, bus drivers and cafeteria staff are eligible for $250 to $500.
Superintendent’s plea: (Observer) Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Ernest Winston issued “an urgent message” to families Thursday night after three more firearms were found on high school campuses Thursday, two at West Charlotte High School and one at North Mecklenburg High. “Have the tough conversations about guns, other weapons and fights,” Winston said. “Check their backpacks before they depart for school.”
Elections delayed: (Reuters) The N.C. Supreme Court halted filing for political office and moved all primary elections from March to May, as courts consider the legality of newly redrawn congressional and state districts. The Ledger on Friday examined the effect on city elections and politics.
Mayor and the country club: (Ledger 🔒) Mayor Vi Lyles said she has withdrawn her application from Myers Park Country Club after The Ledger started asking questions about it last week — and whether it violated ethics policies. In an interview with us this week, the mayor said she knew when applying it would be an honorary membership but was unsure what that was and how it worked.
Cannon comeback? (Ledger 🔒) Former Mayor Patrick Cannon, who served 22 months in prison after admitting to taking bribes, sounds as though he’s eyeing a political comeback, according to an emailed statement he sent to The Ledger after we asked about his potential candidacy for a City Council seat.
City ordinances: (WSOC) Gov. Roy Cooper signed a new law decriminalizing some city ordinances and as a result, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police aren’t arresting or making criminal charges against people for violating city ordinances including panhandling, littering, trespassing or animal abuse until the city finishes its review process of the ordinances and the law.
Rail-Trail Bridge: (Biz Journal) City officials unveiled new renderings of the planned Rail Trail Bridge, which will link South End to uptown over the John Belk Freeway (I-277).
Airline exec to retire: (Ledger 🔒) American Airlines CEO Doug Parker, who has led Charlotte’s dominant airline for 16 years, said this week he’s stepping down. As a young airline executive, he led the purchase of US Airways out of bankruptcy in 2005, kept the hub here, merged US Airways with American and kept adding flights from Charlotte — which has been a key to the city’s economic growth.
Med school infrastructure approved: (Observer) County commissioners gave final approval to $75M in public investment for the Charlotte campus of the Wake Forest School of Medicine that Atrium Health is building in the Dilworth/Midtown area.
Covid hits Hornets: (ESPN) The Charlotte Hornets had five players placed in Covid protocols and have had to use less experienced players this week. Most of the games were close.
Charlotte FC uniforms: (Charlotte FC) The Charlotte Football Club unveiled its uniform — or “kit,” in soccer lingo — on Thursday night. It’s a light blue jersey, and it’s a marketing triumph, with “Ally” plastered across the chest, “Adidas” in the upper corner and “Centene Corporation” on the sleeve. The gear is now available for sale online.
From the Ledger family of newsletters
Running death: (Ways of Life 🔒) Chris Owen, 26, embraced new challenges and was running his first half-marathon in Charlotte on Nov. 13 when he collapsed and died. His family and the president of the ad agency where he worked remember his knack for making others feel special and his go-get-it attitude.
Streetcar woes: (Transit Time) Charlotte’s new Gold Line streetcar, which runs between Elizabeth and the Historic West End, has reported delays on most of its first 100 days of operation. It is scheduled to run every 20 minutes but routinely runs every 30 or 40.
Flyover Friday 🎥 in University City: (Friday) There’s a lot going on in University City — a town center that’s redeveloping, a burgeoning entertainment district anchored by TopGolf, new companies settling in the area and much more. We take a closer look in our “Flyover Friday” series with professional drone video.
SouthPark tax district: (Friday 🔒) Business leaders in SouthPark are pushing for a “municipal service district” that would add a tax to property owners in the area’s commercial core. The money would be used to enhance the area through marketing, events and coordinating infrastructure and development. We have all the details and a map of where it would be.
You Ask, We Answer: (Friday 🔒) When a reader wrote in wondering what the plan is for a long-vacant block dotted by odd-looking columns in First Ward, we took the question to the developer who owns the parcel.
Humor column: (Monday) Columnist Colleen Brannan encourages you to reflect on what makes you happy around the holidays and shares a few of her favorite things.
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