The Big Inch: My Review

The Big Inch Book CoverAuthor Kimberly Fish has written an engaging novel set in Longview, Texas in 1942. The Allied offensive in Europe, dependent on the supply of fuel for its tanks, trucks, and planes, is threatened by German U-boat attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Mexico. In response, the largest pipeline construction project in the history of the United States is launched.

Longview is at the center of the joint government-private industry undertaking that becomes known as “The Big Inch.” Conceived to overcome the U-boat threat and provide uninterrupted flow of gasoline, diesel, heating oil, and kerosene from Texas to the Midwest and East Coast, both the project and the small East Texas town become the focus of domestic and international intrigue. Is there a real threat? The Office of Strategic Services, a wartime intelligence agency and precursor to today’s CIA, intends to find out.

Enter Lane Mercer, an agent trying to overcome grief and guilt associated with her husband’s death and a botched undercover assignment in France. Is she up to the job? Posing as the executive secretary to the pipeline project manager, she must overcome her own doubts and insecurities while ensuring that the project isn’t sabotaged.

Well drawn characters (many of whom aren’t who they profess to be,) excellent descriptions of landmarks in and around Longview that evoke time and place, multiple subplots involving small town attitudes, racial injustice, love interests, and finding inner peace are the hallmarks of this first book in a planned series by Kimberly Fish on “Misfits and Millionaires.”

The only detractors in Book 1 are the grammatical errors that should have been corrected prior to the book’s publication. Hopefully,  these won’t be repeated  in the sequel, “Harmon General,”  because I very much look forward to reading the continuing story.

 

 

The Captive Boy: Promo, Review, and Giveaway

THE CAPTIVE BOY
by
JULIA ROBB
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Date of Publication: December 20, 2015
Number of Pages: 170Scroll down for the giveaway!

Colonel Mac McKenna’s Fourth Cavalry recaptures white captive August Shiltz from the Comanche, only to find August is determined to return to the Indians. McKenna attempts to civilize August to nineteenth century American standards and becomes the boy’s foster father. But when August kills another boy in a fight, McKenna rejects him, and August escapes from Fort Richards (Texas). When war with the Comanche breaks out, McKenna discovers August is a war leader – and his greatest enemy.




PRAISE FOR THE CAPTIVE BOY:

“THE CAPTIVE BOY by Julia Robb is a story told in a unique way – through journal entries by several different characters, and a novel within the novel. Robb is masterful in her depiction of each character, bringing to life an intriguing tale of the Old West.”
 Writer’s Digest competition judge

“It will capture you and keep you engaged from the beginning all the way through the end and also give you insights into the difficulties faced by those who fought on both sides of the Indian Wars in Texas after the Civil War. Buy this book. You will not be disappointed.”
— Steve Mathisen

“Ms. Robb’s research is evident on every page. Without becoming bogged down in detail, she employs just enough of it to paint an accurate picture of a dangerous and unforgiving time.”

— Samuel L. Robinson

CLICK TO PURCHASE

CHECK OUT THE TRAILER!


Review
One of the many hardships endured by settlers along the Texas frontier was the abduction of their children by the Comanche. The Captive Boy by Julia Robb looks at the emotional toll and tragic consequences of these abductions in the story of one such captive.
The author uses the perspectives of different characters in the book to advance the plot. This approach is simultaneously the strength and lure of the story as well as a challenge to readers to funnel the multiple points of view into a cohesive body of work. Each of the character’s accounts is presented as either a memoir, a journal entry, or even a novel within the novel, which certainly adds to the story’s authenticity, however it also means that the writing styles vary from first to third person and the sequencing of events is not always chronological.
The fictional anthology alternates between the memoirs of Joseph Finley Grant, “With the Fourth Cavalry in Texas,” published as a serial in 1899, “On the Frontier with McKenna,” published in 1878 by Major Sam Brennan, the journal of Dr. Rufus Champ covering 1870-1874, and an Untitled Novel, discovered at West Point, author unknown.
Just as there are alternating viewpoints, there are multiple subplots – the violent confrontations between Native Americans, settlers and soldiers; acts of torture and brutality perpetrated by both sides; murder, suicide, and frontier justice; as well as the  hidden agendas, tested loyalties, and romantic relationships that threaten both friendships and military careers. At the heart of the the story, however, is the relationship between August Shiltz and Colonel Theodore McKenna.
Captured at age nine, August is adopted into the Comanche tribe as the son of a war chief and isn’t returned to white society until five years later. By this time he has accepted his new identity and lifestyle, but Colonel McKenna is determined to make him forget his former life as an Indian. He becomes a surrogate father to the boy and almost succeeds before fate intervenes. After another officer’s son bullies and even physically attacks August, he retaliates by killing his tormentor which leads McKenna to denounce August as a savage. The boy escapes and returns to the Comanche where he will become a warrior and enact his vengeance. The climactic ending plays out in the context of the Indian Wars.
As someone who has researched and written about this period in Texas history, I lobbied for the opportunity to read and review this book. I devoured it in a few nights, but confess to some trepidation writing this critique. Certainly the style is unique. It’s as if the reader is pouring through actual historical documents rather than reading a novel. Since each account is dissimilar in its presentation, the whole doesn’t come together until the very end.
Initially I found this style distracting, but credit Julia Robb with forging a detailed, historically accurate portrait of the Texas frontier, and a poignant tale of psychological trauma and self-discovery. 
Julia grew up on the lower Great Plains of Texas, eventually became a reporter, and lived in every corner of the Lone Star State, from the Rio Grande to the East Texas swamps. She couldn’t shake images and experiences and began writing them down.

A priest once disappeared on the Mexican border and that inspired parts of Saint of the Burning Heart. She discovered a hypnotic seducer, who she turned into Ray Cortez, the bad guy in Del Norte. Reading about child Comanche captives and their fates made her want to write about a cavalry colonel who attempts to heal a rescued boy, and that turned into The Captive Boy. Finally, what happens to a man who is in love with another man, in a time and place where the only answer is death? That became Scalp Mountain.
————————————-
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JUNE 19-28, 2018

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6/19/18
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6/19/18
BONUS POST
6/20/18
Review
6/21/18
Author Interview
6/22/18
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6/23/18
Review
6/24/18
Excerpt 1
6/25/18
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6/26/18
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6/27/18
Top 8 List
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Review
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Alternative History

BONNIE AND CLYDE: DAM NATION

COMING TO

LONE STAR BOOK BLOG TOURS

MAY 17-26, 2018

Dam NationThe year is 1935 and the Great Depression has America in a death grip of poverty, unemployment and starvation. But the New Deal is rekindling hope, with federally funded infrastructure projects, like Hoover Dam, putting folks back to work. So, why is someone trying to blow it up? That’s what Bonnie and Clyde set out to uncover in the novel Dam Nation by Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall, the second book in a provocative speculative fiction series that re-imagines the outlaws’ lives.

Bonnie and Clyde #2

by

CLARK HAYS AND KATHLEEN McFALL

Genre: Historical / Alternative History / Romance

Publisher: Pumpjack Press

Date of Publication: March 24, 2018

Number of Pages: 266

EXCERPT

The Texas Ranger looked up at Sal, a mixture of fear, respect and revulsion in his eyes. “Let’s pretend for a minute it wasn’t Bonnie and Clyde in that ambush,” he said. “Why? Why would it be different people in that car?”

“How would I know?” Sal asked. “I work for the government. I trust that the government has my best interests at heart. I follow orders. You didn’t.”

“I won’t be quiet about this unless you can tell me why anyone would try to save them outlaws.”

“If they were still alive, I would tell you that everyone has a purpose in life, and perhaps they are fulfilling theirs. And if they were still alive, I would tell you that you don’t use good dogs to guard the junkyard, you use the meanest goddamn dogs you can get a collar around.”

PRAISE FOR DAM NATION

“A rollicking good read; vivid, engrossing and hard to put down! Dam Nation is the second book in the speculative fiction series; but newcomers need no prior familiarity with the series, in order to find it accessible.” Midwest Book Review

ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Clark and Kathleen wrote their first book together in 1999 as a test for marriage. They passed. Dam Nation is their sixth co-authored book.

Authors Hays_Mcfall Photo

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The Texas Literary Scene

Book Blog Tours

I know you’ve seen the Lone Star Literary Life logo on my blog before, specifically this past January when they featured my historical novel Palo Duro on one of their blog tours, and most recently when it appeared again in their “Texas Reads” section on March 11th.

Because of their commitment to advancing Texas authors and their works and my wholehearted support of that effort, I recently asked if I might join their team of bloggers. I’m very pleased to announce that I was accepted and will henceforth be using this forum to not only post about my books, but to also write reviews and carry promotions on the latest releases and tours in the Lone Star State.

I hope to add my voice and perspective to the ongoing efforts of the professionals at Lone Star Literary Life who strive to encourage literacy throughout this great State by informing the public about Texas writers and their books. Look for related posts in the weeks to come, and in the interim be sure to check out their website!

 

Texas Reads

My novel has been featured in the Texas Reads section of this week’s edition of Lone Star Literary Life, (Sunday, March 11th.)

Historical fiction: San Antonio author Max L. Knight covers a lot of colorful historical western characters and events in his novel, Palo Duro (Page Publishing, $16.50 paperback).

 Among them: Quanah Parker, Charles Goodnight, Billy Dixon, Ranald Mackenzie,  Geronimo, Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, and John Wesley Hardin.

“The characters that populate my book,” Knight writes, “are a composite of both real people and the products of my imagination… The dialogue, with very few exceptions, is strictly fictional but captures the essence of the events portrayed and the people involved.”

 “I’ve tried to portray the savage nature of the conflict between the Southern Plains Indians and white settlers, buffalo hunters, merchants and soldiers as evenly as possible without bias to either side, and I’ve tried to portray the difference between the lawman and the lawless as a fine line that was often crossed.”

 Readers of historical fiction will find much to savor in Knight’s novel.

For anyone unfamiliar with the online publication, Lone Star Literary Life is the best source of information for all things literary in the State of Texas. Its stated mission is “to connect Texas books and writers with those who want to discover them,” and they’ve certainly done this for me!

Each edition includes write-ups on authors and new book releases, bestseller lists, literary destinations and events including festivals, author appearances, readings and book signings, upcoming blog tours, biographies, author insights, news briefs, classified listings and so much more.

To read their full issue each week, be sure to check out their website.