Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Finding Me by Kathryn Cushman

After her father and stepmother's accidental death, Kelli Huddleston sorts through their belongings and learns a shocking secret. Years before, her father faked his death during a boat wreck at sea--and faked Kelli's as well. He'd run from a wife, a son, and a daughter back in Tennessee, meaning Kelli has a family she's never known.
She's already cashed the payout on her dad's life insurance check and looks at it as her ticket to a new life. The lure and puzzle of digging into this hidden past is too much to resist, and she soon finds herself in Tennessee. When the trip threatens to open doors to the past better left shut, and her plans for the future are threatened, Kelli must make an agonizing choice that will change her life forever.


So what do you do when you’re not feeling very well and you can’t sleep?  Me?  I pick up a copy of whatever is lying around and open it up.  Boy, this is one time that I can say that I’m glad I wasn’t able to sleep!


The tragedy of having a parent and siblings dying in a house fire when you’re just a baby and then your only surviving parent and your step-mother perish in an auto accident later in life would put anybody’s life in a tailspin  This is what has happened to Kelli Huddleston.  As she attempts to recover from all of the despair in her life, she begins the process of cleaning out her parents’ house.  With all rooms emptied except for her dad’s office, she finally tackles the once forbidden area.  Gaining entrance to the safe, she finds old photographs of a family.  Knowing that the fire that had killed her mother and siblings had destroyed everything including photographs, she’s not sure who these photos must be of.  There are also newspaper clippings of a father and his daughter disappearing in the ocean and their bodies never being found.  What connection would these photos and clippings have to her father?  With just a little information, Kelli pieces together that all of what it seems her father has told her has been a lie.  In order to find the truth, Kelli heads out to find these people and find out why her father would have abandoned them all by faking his and his daughter’s death.  What secrets will she find out when she connects with the people in the photo?  Will they believe her story of who she is?  Will she be able to add anything to their lives now?  Don’t worry about uncovering the truth now, just go BUY THIS BOOK!

This isn’t the first book that I’ve read from Katie Cushman, but I must say that it’s probably the one that I enjoyed the most.  The pace of the story was steady, there wasn’t much lag, but there always wasn’t much speed either.  I stayed in focus of what the character was trying to accomplish, nothing was too unbelievable.  I felt that a couple of the characters (Shane and Kenmore) could have been fleshed out a little more, as their acceptance of Kelli seemed a little rushed.  I loved the additional back story of Kelli and her view on salvation, what a great discussion this can open up to so many different people.  I do feel like the ending was a bit rushed, but I understand why it had to be presented in the way that it was.


Is this a "Man’s Book"?   I would say that this is a great book for a man to read, even without the obligatory smashups and explosions.  This book, though, is one that men need to read so that they can see consequences of actions when they think that the grass is greener in the other pasture.  I will point out, though, that the tagline to the author is “Women’s Fiction Author”, so just make sure that you cover that up before you sit down to read this great book.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Kathryn Cushman is a graduate of Samford University with a degree in pharmacy. She is the author of five previous novels including Leaving Yesterday and A Promise to Remember, which were both finalists for the Carol Award in Women's Fiction. Kathryn and her family make their home in Santa Barbara, California.

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Monday, May 11, 2015

The Color of Justice by Ace Collins

1964
Justice, Mississippi, is a town divided. White and black. Rich and poor. Rule makers and rule breakers. Right or wrong, everyone assumes their place behind a fragile fa├žade that is about to crumble.  When attorney Coop Lindsay agrees to defend a black man accused of murdering a white teenager, the bribes and death threats don’t intimidate him. As he prepares for the case of a lifetime, the young lawyer knows it’s the verdict that poses the real threat—innocent or guilty, because of his stand Coop is no longer welcome in Justice. As he follows his conscience, he wonders just how far some people will go to make sure he doesn’t finish his job?

2014
To some, the result of the trial still feels like a fresh wound even fifty years later, when Coop’s grandson arrives in Justice seeking answers to the questions unresolved by the trial that changed his family’s legacy. When a new case is presented, again pitting white against black, this third generation Lindsay may have the opportunity he needs to right the wrongs of the past. 
But hate destroys everything it touches, and the Lindsay family will not escape unscathed.



Who has 36 (at least) novels to their credit and still has a Christy Award Finalist for 2015?  Ace Collins, that’s who.  And if you haven’t read anything buy this Ace yet, then shame on you.  Ace is, in my honest opinion, one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, author in the legal thriller genre today.


The setting is Deep South in the summer of 1964.  Racial division is alive and well, even if it’s rarely discussed out loud.  Having moved back to the town he grew up in to care for his mother, Attorney Coop Lindsay has thrown out his shingle in town.  What most locals accepts as an open and shut murder case of a white girl by a colored young man, turns into anything but when Coop agrees to represent the young man.  Not only is he committing career suicide, but he is placing himself and his family directly in harm’s way.  As the evidence, or lack of it, continues to mount, Coop is finally victorious in the courtroom, but at what cost.  Upon celebrating, Coop and the young man are never to be seen again.  Flash forward now to 2014 and the town has completed an about face.  The town is seemingly integrated now, but the bigotry from some of the past continues to shine.  Coop’s grandson visits the town upon reading some journals of his grandfather’s and seeks to find out what really happened to his grandfather.  The town is up in arms again, this time though, a young colored man has been killed by the white grandson of a very prominent citizen, one that played a major role in the last case of his grandfather’s.  Will justice be found again? Can Coop undercover what really happened to his grandfather?  Will the bigotry in town every go away?  You will be found guilty if you don’t run now and BUY THIS BOOK!!


The thing that I enjoy most about reading stories by Ace Collins is how believable his characters are and how easy it is to take an interest in their well-being.  This story presents a very tough subject during a tough time, but Ace handles it perfectly, even to the point of making me, the reader, pause to reflect what my prejudices look like.  The pace of this book is very fast, if you aren’t in for a story that takes off from the beginning and leaves you breathless, not knowing when to catch your breath, then I wouldn’t recommend this book.  I will admit that I thought I knew whodunit pretty early on, but I was wrong.  And not only was I wrong, I didn’t even see that there was an entire second half of this story to tell.  He makes every piece of this book come together realistically, that’s the kind of attention to detail that I’ve come to appreciate when I sit down and crack open a new Ace Collins novel.


Is this a "Man’s Book"?   This is not a “man’s book” or a “woman’s book”.  This is a book that must be read and will be enjoyed by everyone.  This is a book that will get you thinking and get you talking and one that will definitely keep you up as you try to finish the book.  If I could only have one legal genre author in my bookcase, it would definitely be a novel by Ace Collins.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Citing his Arkansas heritage, Christy finalist Ace Collins defines himself as a storyteller. In that capacity, Ace Collins has authored more than seventy books for 25 different publishers that have sold more than 2.5 million copies. His catalog includes novels, biographies, children’s works as well as books on history, culture and faith. He has also been the featured speaker at the National Archives Distinguished Lecture Series, hosted a network television special and does college basketball play-by-play



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