It's a joy and a pleasure to recommend books by Oklahoma authors. The two I'm featuring today are finalists for the 2010 Oklahoma Book Award in Fiction. There are other nominees in five categories (Children/Young Adult, Design and Illustration, Fiction, Non-fiction and Poetry). For winners and nominees for previous years (a fine place to find "the best of the best" for your Oklahoma reading list) visit The Oklahoma Book Award website.
Marcia Preston's The Wind Comes Sweeping begins in the past with the suicide of a young woman in 1895 Oklahoma territory, resulting in the "Legend of Silk Mountain". I was a bit disappointed that the story didn't continue there, since I enjoy reading stories in historical settings, but soon settled into the shift to modern day Oklahoma and a gripping tale about a young woman who has returned to her home town after her rancher father's death. Marik Youngblood has the soul of an artist rather than a rancher, but respects the land and understands the promise of the wind power to the ranch's survival. Her return home forces her to deal with neighbors who oppose the land's use for that purpose. Marik and her neighbor, Lena, have little in common other than heartbreaking personal secrets, but each must ultimately accept her own need for resolution. This story includes some interesting descriptions of wind power technology and supplied some perspective on those giant (115 feet long) fiberglass rotors that we often see traveling down Oklahoma's highways.
The Sky Took Him by Donis Casey is an "Alafair Tucker" mystery. I had not read any of the other titles of the series, which include The Old Buzzard Had It Coming, Hornswoggled, and The Drop Edge of Yonder. In the latest of the series, Alafair Tucker travels to Enid, Oklahoma from her home in tiny Boynton in the fall of 1915 to help her sister, Ruth Ann, whose husband is on his death bed. Alafair is a practical, hardworking mother of several children, and her life contrasts with that of Ruth Ann, who lives a life of privilege and enjoys the social and political scene in the Cherokee Strip. The difficulty of watching her sister's husband die is magnified when Ruth Ann's son-in-law doesn't return home as scheduled. Lester's disappearance sets the stage for public disclosure of questionable dealings involving one of the most powerful and dangerous men in Enid and Alafair allows her natural curiosity and sleuthing abilities to uncover the source of a history of trouble for her sister's family. I particularly enjoyed getting to know Alafair and her family in The Sky Took Him (there is even a family tree included at the beginning of the book), as well as references to Oklahoma history. There are also some authentic recipes for some of the food mentioned in the book, including Alafair's chocolate pie/pudding (described as "potent" and "for extreme chocolate lovers only").
I look forward to continued good reading from Marcia Preston and Donis Casey!
p.s. Part of my blogging education is being introduced to many wonderful blogs about the things I love. They are in a list here on my own blog, but I've decided to tell you a little more about one or two in each of my posts. The first is from an Oklahoma blogger, Carol's Heirloom Collection , where you'll find frequent postings about recipes, memories, family, and decorating. The second is The Jewel Box Home and offers advice on how to decorate, entertain, and live happily in a smaller home. I hope that you enjoy these blogs as much as I do and I look forward to sharing many of the wonderful blogs I'm discovering.
p.p.s. I am adding this a couple of weeks after my original posting. It's just to illustrate how I'm willing to embarrass myself when it comes to books and authors. I was in the doctor's waiting room when I heard the name "Donis Casey" called, and a woman followed the nurse into the examination rooms. Of course, I couldn't let the opportunity pass without meeting the author of a book I had just read, enjoyed and reviewed. I was afraid that she might come out and her husband (waiting for her, near to where I was sitting) might join her, leaving before I had a chance to introduce myself. So, I went and sat down next to him -- "Sir, is the woman with you your wife?" He answered that she was. "Do you mind if I ask her name?" His answer: Lois Casey. Lois, not Donis. Oops! Well, I told him the truth, that I had misheard and thought that she was an author whose book I had just read. He responded that she hadn't written any books, as far as he knew. I guess he would know if she had written any books. And that her name was Lois, not Donis.
p.p.p.s. You can find the titles I've mentioned at your local library, or through these links to Amazon:
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