In addition to the books sent to me for review, I do occasionally get to read just for my own enjoyment, and today, I want to share a bit about a couple I just finished reading. I’ve been lucky to have two in particular that I wholeheartedly recommend for your reading pleasure.
First up is Omaha to Ogallala – a wonderful memoir from Terry Korth Fischer. It recounts a trip she took with her sisters and two nieces back to Nebraska where the Korth family has deep roots.
“I admit I never got it—the hometown. Returning to your roots. The allure of being in the land of your ancestors. But with Dad gone, a desire to reunite with my sisters shouted: Nebraska!“
“Dad never said he loved Nebraska. When summer drew near, we saw it in his eyes, overheard it in an unexpected chuckle, and noted the lift in his step. We were a nomadic family, moving often in my youth, never calling any one place home. Each summer, no matter where we were, we made a journey to Nebraska—his birthplace. Mom saw the trip as duty, something she dreaded but endured. Dad looked forward to the annual two week visit and treasured each act of going home.”
I enjoyed this trip across Nebraska with Terry and the gang. Since I’d lived for nine years in Omaha the book appealed to me even before I read a word of it, as I was eager to revisit some of the places my husband and I had explored during our sojourn in that fair state. Like all families, this one isn’t perfect, and Terry starts the journey hoping that the trip will bring the sisters closer together, especially Holly and Casey who have always seemed to butt heads. Wanting to know if the closeness came, I kept reading and was so glad to come to a very satisfying ending.
The trip was called The Wise Women’s Summit, and I thought it was so nice that each person wrote words of wisdom for Jonie in honor of her 40th birthday. Those sentiments were written in a book that Jonie then got to keep. It was also so nice to see how Maya, the youngest of the travelers, was transformed from the shy, reserved twelve-year-old to the excited, fully engaged preteen.
I was totally immersed in this story, presented in a style that read like fiction.
Well done, Terry.
Up next is a wonderful new story from Kristy Woodson Harvey.
Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I’m a huge fan of her books. I’ve loved her stories ever since I read the first one, Dear Carolina. After that, I’ve followed her through all of the Peachtree Bluff books with that wonderful cast of characters that are so appealing. I was so eager to read this latest book, Under The Southern Sky, and for the most part I wasn’t disappointed.
Recently separated Amelia Buxton, a dedicated journalist, never expected that uncovering the biggest story of her career would become deeply personal. But when she discovers that a cluster of embryos belonging to her childhood friend Parker and his late wife Greer have been deemed “abandoned,” she’s put in the unenviable position of telling Parker–and dredging up old wounds in the process.Parker has been unable to move forward since the loss of his beloved wife three years ago. He has all but forgotten about the frozen embryos, but once Amelia reveals her discovery, he knows that if he ever wants to get a part of Greer back, he’ll need to accept his fate as a single father and find a surrogate.Each dealing with their own private griefs, Parker and Amelia slowly begin to find solace in one another as they navigate an uncertain future against the backdrop of the pristine waters of their childhood home, Buxton Beach.
I was thoroughly engaged in this story of three people whose lives were intertwined in such a unique way, and I loved Parker and Greer and Amelia. The way the book was presented from the three different points of view was a good technique. That is one of the things I like about reading Kristy’s stories, and it’s a technique she uses well. I remember how delighted I was when I first read Dear Carolina, where character voices were so distinct, offering a different perspective on what was going on in the story.
The friendships between the three characters in Under the Southern Sky is really sweet, and I want them all for my friends. It’s great how the past connections intersect with the present story and influence the relationships. It’s also great that each of the three main characters has equal stage time, so the reader can become fully invested in them and want to continue reading. There are bits of wisdom dropped along the way, another trademark of the author, and I had to smile when I read, “In a lot of ways, life never moves beyond 7th grade.” That’s something that Amelia thinks when she’s in a movie theater on a date with the first man she’s dated since Thad and walking away from Parker, and she’s right. While we think we are all grown up and past those silly games we played in middle school, and the awkwardness of those years, we aren’t always totally removed from that time. The awkwardness will sneak up on us at the most inconvenient times
For most of the read, I was totally absorbed in what was going on in the story, enjoying how different situations popped up to complicate the relationships and the directions those relationships took. However, some of the later plot twists didn’t work as well as others for me, especially a secret that Amelia’s mother had that once revealed, didn’t seem so devastating as the lead-up indicated it might be. That secret did help Amelia make a decision for a direction to take in her own life, so for that reason, it was necessary, but I’d already suspected what the secret was, so maybe that’s why it lost some of the impact it could have had. I also thought that Parker’s waffling over whether he could ever get past his grief over losing Greer wasn’t always working well. I understand the grief, and it was so clear that she was the woman he thought he was going to love forever. That relationship was so well presented, and for the most part I accepted that he would really struggle over whether he would ever have another love like that, but that went on a little bit too long for me.
Still, that doesn’t take away from the rest of the story that is wonderfully written with surprises that delight, characters to love, and a wonderful setting that makes one want to go visit Cape Carolina to sit on the dock and dip toes in the water.
That’s all from me for today, folks. I do hope you have a great weekend. I’ll get a bit of writing done over the weekend, then I think it’s time to start a new quilt. Whatever you have planned I hope it involves some fun activities. Be safe. Be happy.