Tag Archives: Historical Fiction

Review & Giveaway: The Encouragement Letters by Shanna Spence

THE ENCOURAGEMENT
LETTERS
by
SHANNA SPENCE
Sub-genre: Middle Grade / Historical Fiction
Publisher: Book Liftoff
Date of Publication: November 22, 2017
Number of Pages: 180
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WILLIAM CROMWELL, at age eleven, knew what it was like living with new changes. In 1865, Manchester, England a new textile factory moved into town and after a tragedy that befell him and his mum, they struggled to live. With so many things going on in his young life he wanted to be the encouragement that his father was to him.
As everything changes along with terrible hardships, just maybe the hope he gives to the growing town will find its way to Will…
PRAISE FOR THE ENCOURAGEMENT LETTERS: 
This was such an uplifting wholesome book! It was so nice to read something positive about a time when people were so willing to step in and help someone in need without expecting anything in return! I couldn’t put it down!– 5 Stars, Kindle verified purchase reviewer
Excellent read!! This story speaks to people in all walks of life. It is encouraging, sweet, and funny at the same time. I would recommend this book to anyone needing to see what it means to “treat others as you want to be treated.” — 5 Stars, Kindle verified purchase reviewer

 
A very inspiring book from a great new author! — 5 Stars, Kindle verified purchase reviewer

A charming tale of a simpler time. Yet, the message is ageless. I congratulate Ms. Spence on this her first effort and look forward to more entertaining reads from her in the future.— 5 Stars, Kindle reviewer
 
review
At first glance you can already tell that this book is historical. But the cover is so mature looking that I thought it might be a nonfiction book intended for adults. However, the book’s slight profile and, as I began to read, tone tipped me off to the intended middle grade audience. While an adult fiction book would ease the reader slowly into its world and gradually unfold the protagonist’s innermost desires or struggles, middle grade books tend to be more straight forward and honest with their intentions. I enjoy a flowery passage here or there, but the direct delivery found in books like this can be refreshing when you want to immerse yourself in a different world and just get down to the nitty gritty.
And poor little Will’s world is very gritty. Tragedy hasn’t lost his address as it continues to visit him at every turn. First his beloved father dies, then he worries that his mother is ill with the same affliction, and… well, I don’t want to ruin the story for you. But know that this young man is made of such wonderful moral fiber that he repays other people’s kindness with beautifully crafted, anonymous letters of encouragement until he is able to repay them properly. What really struck my heartstrings was the love and respect that he had for his mother. No matter how dire their situation, he never went against her wishes for him to continue his schooling and not work in a factory.
Spence did a really lovely job of creating characters that I cared about and set them in a time and place in history that I wasn’t very familiar with. I’ve read my fair share of books set across the pond or books that took place in the 1800s, but I’ve never read a combination of the two before. I was fully invested in the people, especially Will, and loved reading about a village that was helping to raise a good man.
I highly recommend this book to young readers and older readers alike. I think that this would be a great book to read in history class preceding lessons on the industrial revolution or child labor. But this is also a great book to read when life is getting you down and you need to pick yourself up.
Shanna Spence is a wife, mother, and registered nurse of over twenty years. She has written poetry since the age of thirteen and always dreamed of writing books. Raised in a small East Texas town, she pursued a career of nursing in Dallas, Texas but eventually went back to East Texas to settle down and raise a family.
Now she finally has found the time to fulfill her dream of writing stories that will hopefully bring out the imagination in others — as well as inspiration. She is currently living in Longview, Texas. 
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Review & Giveaway: Harmon General by Kimberly Fish

 
HARMON GENERAL
Misfits and Millionaires #2 
by
KIMBERLY FISH
Genre: Historical Fiction / WWII / Spies
Publisher: Fish Tales, LLC 
Date of Publication: June 16, 2018
Number of Pages: 330Scroll down for giveaway!

In 1943, Lane Mercer and Emmie Tesco had nothing in common. Well, nothing stronger than a town neither of them chose and careers they couldn’t advertise as agents within the Office of Strategic Services. During the days of Longview, Texas’s Friendly Trek Homecoming Parade, Lane was gearing up for the grand opening of a bookshop that also disguised an espionage safe house, and Emmie was chasing a criminal with evil intent through the US Army’s new medical facility, Harmon General Hospital, treating diseased and amputated soldiers. Emmie ropes Lane into international threats at Harmon General, making it increasingly hard for the two spies to navigate the Junior Service League, church life, or anything else that might be considered normal for a town sizzling with oil boom wealth. A friend from Lane’s past arrives and pushes against the fiction she’s created to distance her spy history from the wedding bells ringing her future. Emmie flirts with the idea of finding a life outside of the OSS but justifies the danger as a way to make amends for those she’s betrayed. Connecting the two women, to their surprise, is a rogue agent who targets them for crimes he believes they created. For better, or worse, they have to put aside their differences to share responsibility for stopping “The Grasshopper” before he blows apart the Big Inch Pipeline project and Harmon General Hospital. The hope of malaria treatments for US soldiers depends on it, and justice of the heart demands it. 

PRAISE FOR HARMON GENERAL:
“The war that changed the world brought the world to East Texas through Harmon General, a significant US Army hospital that treated thousands of wounded soldiers in Longview.  In Harmon General, we meet again Lane Mercer, a World War II heroine, and we enjoy again how the drama of her secret service to the nation and her complicated personal relationships pull us into the vast impact of the world war.” — Dale Lunsford, Ph.D., President, LeTourneau University

Harmon General is a brilliant story for historical fiction readers! Set in World War II, the female spies, Army hospital setting, and drama amongst the Longview townsfolk kept me riveted and engaged until the very end.” – Jody T. Morse

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review
It’s been a while since I read book one, The Big Inch, but I’m glad to see that my wish to read more about Sergeant Tesco (Emmie) has been granted. I’m glad to see that Lane is still as strong and independent as ever, but it looks like she hasn’t improved on reading people yet.
From the beginning of book two, you know that Emmie and Lane are secret agents; but what you don’t know is why their relationship seems tense. You later learn that the two ladies stayed at the same boardinghouse at one time, and obviously they have the same occupation. It makes you think that they would be more friendly with each other, especially since they’re on the same side (you assume, since they have the same boss). It got me thinking that maybe Fish was making a comment on how women tend to get in each other’s way rather than help each other excel. At any rate, she introduces a small collection of men from both the civilian and spy sects who further muddle the relationship.
Understandably, it takes a while to unravel a story when you have so many interesting characters, but I was antsy for the action to begin. Heck, it took about halfway through the book for Lane to have the very serious conversation with her fiancé that we are expecting from the moment we find out the widow is already engaged to another man. But once we hit that halfway point, strap in folks. There is definitely more than meets the eye when it comes to these characters. I guess that’s why they are spies, right?
If this series gets picked up for the big screen, do not turn your HD on. The Texas heat is a character of its own that makes the spies miss Europe. I felt their pain every time Fish detailed the way perspiration ran rampant on everybody. Fish’s attention to detail goes far beyond climate, but these were details that really stood out to me and made me smile because I’m living in the same hell every time I walk out the door.
So, go get The Big Inch and read it, pick up Harmon General and read it, and then eagerly anticipate book three. You’re welcome.

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For the first five days of the Lone Star Book Blog Tours promotion of Harmon General, the Kindle  e-book of The Big Inch is FREE!!  That’s right, from June 22-27, the e-book that started the whole Misfits and Millionaires adventure costs nada! Click to download your copy!

A WORD FROM THE AUTHOR:

Kimberly Fish started writing professionally with the birth of her second child and the purchase of a home computer. Having found this dubious outlet, she then entered and won The Writer’s League of Texas manuscript contest which fed her on-going fascination with story crafting. 


She has since published in magazines, newspapers, and online formats and in January 2017, released the first novel in the Misfits and Millionaires series set during the World War II years in Longview, Texas—The Big Inch. Her second book, Comfort Plans, was published later that same year.

She lives with her family in East Texas.


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Guest Post & Giveaway: The Way of Beauty by Camille Di Maio

 
THE WAY OF BEAUTY
by
Camille Di Maio
Genre: Historical Fiction / 20th Century / Literary
Publisher: Lake Union Press
Date of Publication: May 1, 2018
Number of Pages: 384

  
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Hearts and dreams evolve in the shadow of the once-magnificent Penn Station.
Vera Keller, the daughter of German immigrants in turn-of-the-century New York City, finds her life upended when the man she loves becomes engaged to another woman. But Angelo Bellavia has also inadvertently opened up Vera’s life to unexpected possibilities. Angelo’s new wife, Pearl, the wealthy daughter of a clothing manufacturer, has defied her family’s expectations by devoting herself to the suffrage movement. In Pearl, Vera finds an unexpected dear friend…and a stirring new cause of her own. But when Pearl’s selfless work pulls her farther from Angelo and their son, the life Vera craved is suddenly within her reach—if her conscience will allow her to take it.
Her choice will define not only her future but also that of her daughter, Alice.
Vera and Alice—a generation and a world apart—are bound by the same passionate drive to fulfill their dreams. As first mother and then daughter come of age in a city that is changing as rapidly as its skyline, they’ll each discover that love is the only constant.

PRAISE FOR THE WAY OF BEAUTY:

The Way of Beauty is a thing of beauty. The writing is gorgeous, the story is engaging, the characters are amazing. The amount of research that goes into historical fiction just astounds me. Add this to your TBR!”

“If you want to be swept away by a love story set in a fascinating and meticulously researched past, Camille Di Maio is the author for you. Don’t miss this one.”

“A captivating story of love and family that spans several generations.”

“The writing transports you to the time, not so long ago when women had to choose between love and their rights. Camille Di Maio’s dialogue, descriptions, and relationships create a complete picture of the era and struggles. Great book club book.” 

 

GuestPost

What’s in a Title?

Guest Post by Author Camille Di Maio

 

When I was first writing THE WAY OF BEAUTY, my working title was A PARADE OF EAGLES. I still like that one – the book starts with the demolition of Penn Station and the magnificent eagles that are taken down and carted to a swamp in New Jersey. The image of these beautiful granite birds processing down the streets of New York City was so stunning to me.

 

But it was suggested to me that the title sounded more like literary fiction than the historical fiction/romance that it is. And that it would not resonate with my primary audience: women.

 

So, it was back to the drawing board. One of my characters, Angelo, is an Italian immigrant. As I thought through good surnames for him, I remembered the name of a girl I used to do high school theater with – Bellavia. That was her first name, but I thought it could work for Angelo, too. It means beautiful way. Angelo is one of my favorite characters, and his friendship provides a beautiful new way for Vera to look at life when she needs it the most.

 

And then it struck me that I could play with that word as the title. It reflects the arc of the train station – the building, the heyday, and the deconstruction. Much the same path we travel as people – our beginning, our middle, and our end. But each part is necessary and beautiful in its own way – the way of beauty.

 

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~Romance Writers of America Honor Roll Inductee~

Camille recently left an award-winning real estate career in San Antonio to become a full-time writer. Along with her husband of 19 years, she enjoys raising their four children. She has a bucket list that is never-ending and uses her adventures to inspire her writing. She’s lived in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California, and spends enough time in Hawai’i to feel like a local. She’s traveled to four continents (so far) and met Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. She just about fainted when she had a chance to meet her musical idol,

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