Monday, November 12, 2018

The Big Inch by Kimberly Fish: Lone Star Literary Audio Book Tour - Review, Trailer and Giveaway!

Misfits and Millionaires #1
Narrated by Sydney Young
   Genre: Historical Fiction / Romance / WWII Spies
  Publisher: Fish Tales Publishing
Date of Publication: August 1, 2018
Length: 10 hours, 22 minutes

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Fans of Pam Jenoff, Susan Elia MacNeal, and Kate Quinn will want to read the first book in a sparkling WWII historical fiction series, The Big Inch. Lane Mercer is a spy recovering from a disastrous mission in France when she’s assigned to protect the interests of the new federal project sending American oil to the Allies. Thrown into the high-stakes world of Texas oilmen, she’s inventing maneuvers on the fly to outwit would be counter-intelligence and Fascist sympathizers. Complicating her mission is a handsome con-artist who manages to be under her feet at the most inopportune times. Trapped between trusting her gut or trusting her informers, Lane has to learn to navigate a town that is laced with more intrigue than she’d ever have guessed, and she soon discovers that the life she might have to save. . .is her own. Kimberly Fish’s well-researched writing drops readers into the colorful world of the American home front known so well to those who lived alongside the Greatest Generation. Buy The Big Inch today to begin this exciting first novel in a WWII series set in Texas.

“Narrator Makes Book Exciting!” 
-- 5 Stars Review on Audible
“Kimberly Fish’s writing style snatched me out of my easy chair.” 
-- Vickie Phelps, author of Moved, Left No Address
“Kimberly Fish has a gift for combining conflict, emotion, and characterization to create a compelling story.” 
-- Louis Gouge, author of Love Inspired Historical Four Star Ranch series

The Big Inch was my first experience using Audible. I normally go “old school” and listen to books on CD on my daily commute, but it’s getting harder to find what I want that way. Audible has a huge selection, and I'm glad I had an opportunity to experience a new format for the audio book tour for this historical fiction novel written by Kimberly Fish and narrated by Sydney Young.

One of the things I learned right away is that the speed of the narration can be adjusted with Audible, and that went a long way toward improving the listening experience. My ears and my brain seem to feel the need for the speed! Once that was adjusted, I settled in and truly enjoyed listening to The Big Inch. 

This is Ms.Young’s first time to narrate an audio book, and I would have never guessed that based on the range of voices she uses to distinguish among the characters. The book is set in Longview, Texas during WWII, and the narrator’s southern accent really works in this case. I’ve listened to other non-southern narrators try to imitate our speech in the South with usually comical, if not irritating, results.

This story is about the completion of an oil pipeline, the titular ”Big Inch,” which would have been beneficial to the Allies during the war. Lane Mercer is an intelligence agent who had a traumatic experience working with the resistance in France and has been sent to Longview to act as a secretary to a military officer who is coordinating the completion of the pipeline. Her role is more than administrative, however, and she uses her keen observation skills and intelligence to keep things moving on the pipeline construction and the officer safe. Lane has family in Longview, and we gradually learn more about her upbringing and past through the course of the novel. There is a little mystery, and a little romance, but mostly The Big Inch is about all the characters who inhabit this small Texas town. The author has done a tremendous job of writing so many different distinct and well-developed characters, and Sydney Young’s narration truly shines in giving voice to them all.

My only criticism of the narration is that at times the narrator’s voice would elevate at the end of a sentence and make it difficult to follow that a new sentence had been started. And sometimes the pauses between words made it seem as though a sentence had ended. But I think that overall this was a well-narrated book, especially for a first time narrator.

As for the story itself, there were a few anachronisms that caught my ear. I’m not sure “climbing the corporate ladder” was a phrase used yet in the 1940s, and was the term sausage biscuits part of the vernacular yet? Not sure!  At times, the pacing of the story was rather slow, with a lot more dialogue than action occurring. I remember it took a really long time (listening-wise) for the main character to “faint” after a shooting occurred in which she bravely saved the life of a stranger. Other than that, I truly enjoyed this historical fiction novel, primarily because I’m a native Texan, and I’m sorry to say it never occurred to me to think about what was going on in my home state during World War II! I became engaged enough in the setting and the characters to want to read the next book in the Misfits and Millionaires series, Harmon General.

I appreciated the opportunity to spend a number of enjoyable hours on my daily commute getting to know the great characters from the mind of Kimberly Fish and Sydney Young’s mellifluous narration. I would read another book by this author and listen to another audio book by this narrator, which is my high praise indeed.

◆ Amazon ◆ Audible 

Kimberly Fish has been a professional writer in marketing and media for almost 30 years. In the course of research for the Longview Chamber of Commerce 100-year compilation, she stumbled across a 1940s federal works project that was too good, too war-winning, not to be retold to modern audience. In 2017, she released The Big Inch, her first WWII spy thriller detailing the crazy, big pipeline project that fueled the Allies to a win in Europe. The Big Inch has also been released as an audio download on Audible. That eye-opening novel was so consumed by readers, she quickly followed it with a second WWII spy thriller set in Longview, Harmon General. Both of these novels will be helpful to her work with the City of Longview’s 150th birthday celebrations which begin in January of 2020. Comfort Plans, a contemporary novel also set in Texas, continues her love of history by weaving old letters into the renovation of an iconic Hill Country farmhouse.  Kimberly enjoys speaking on the value of weaving history and nostalgia into our plans as we grow our communities for the future. 
 ║ Website ║ Facebook  Twitter InstagramGoodreads  ║ Pinterest Amazon Author Page   

Sydney Young is a lawyer, award-winning writer and audio book narrator from the Lone Star State. Her next theatrical project will be directing “SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE,” for the Paris Community Theatre stage (Feb. 2019), while her novel “I AM HOUSTON,” is being submitted for publication by the Loiacono Literary Agency. Sydney has long been a reading advocate, including with her readings to an adopted second grade class each year. She loved voicing THE BIG INCH for all of its authentic Texas voices and true characters, all while she learned the history of the East Texas oil effort for World War II.  Visit Sydney’s website for more information on her writings, theatre, and audio books.

║ Website ║ Facebook ║ Instagram ║ Twitter 

ONE WINNER!  Choice of Audio or Signed Print Copy of The Big Inch  + $25 Amazon Gift Card + a WWII Themed Surprise Gift! NOVEMBER 5-12, 2018
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A Quiet Weekend.....

Thinking of all who serve our country today and those who died defending our freedoms.....

I was excited to have a whole weekend to myself, with the family out of town: just me and the dog for 2 days! It was nice for a day, then I started missing all the noise, reminding me that "you don't always know what you've got 'til it's gone!" But I did get some reading done and some movies watched.

Tomb RaiderRed Sparrow

I checked out some DVDs from the library (natch!), and enjoyed them. Red Sparrow was a lot more graphic than I usually watch, and I guess I'm a little surprised that Jennifer Lawrence was willing to show that much....of herself! But it was a good spy story based on the book by Jason Matthews. I also really liked the new Tomb Raider starring Alica Vikander. I actually think I liked her portrayal better than Angelina Jolie's, but then again, I'm not that much of a fan of the latter actress.

The Dead House: A Novel by [O'Callaghan, Billy]

I recently read The Dead House by Billy O'Callaghan, which was a change for me: a creepy ghost story. It's a short novel, and it's a quick and eerie read. An art dealer is invited to visit one of his clients on the west coast of Ireland for the weekend, where he meets his future wife, and something is let loose into the world that has long reaching consequences. It starts in the present with the art dealer looking back into the past and thinking about what happened. When he was visiting Maggie, his client, she got out an Ouija board, because there was some mystery surrounding the house she had bought and was renovating. It was all fun and games until the art dealer goes back to see Maggie some months later and she's gone quite insane. Back in the present, he comes to realize that what what let loose back then isn't quite done with him yet.  This was really more like a short story, and I thought it did exactly what the author intended: made you feel the sense of dread and uneasiness that ghost stories often do. I'm not sure I'd highly recommend it, but it was an interesting change of pace for me.

I'm just about finished with The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams, a new author for me. It's getting so cold here that it was nice to read about someplace warm. This novel takes place over three time-lines and is a little confusing if you don't read it straight through. I put it down a few times to read something else (as I always do!), and it took me a bit to get the story back straight in my mind when I picked it up again. In this historical fiction novel, which begins in 1969, a famous actress returns home to Winthrop Island on the East Coast after having a car accident. She hasn't been back to the island since she left at 18 after a scandal occurred, and the details of what happened are slowly revealed throughout the course of the book. This is basically a story of conflict between the "townies" who live year-round on the island, and the "summer" people who have houses there. Miranda, the main character, becomes involved with both sets of residents when her mother marries into one of the wealthy families, and a fisherman whose family runs the lighthouse catches her eye. There are a lot of secrets that are revealed and the author does a good job of dropping surprises into the narrative to keep the reader interested. Other than a little confusion over the timeline and the relationship of some of the characters, this has been an excellent read.

The Current comes out in January, and the publisher, Algonquin/Workman, generously allowed me to read an early digital galley after I heard some good things about the book from a colleague. I'm about half-way through and this one is really good! The author has taken some risks in his writing: a lot of really long sentences with little punctuation; but this serves to give the narrative a propulsive pace that makes it hard to put down. It takes some getting used to as you read this type of writing, but the story is so intense and suspenseful, that I'm hanging in there.

In the middle of winter, outside a small Minnesota town, two young women are pulled from a river. One survives, and in her grief over losing her friend and someone else close to her, she realizes that her accident is linked to an unsolved murder that happened 10 years previously. This book has a lot of characters, and the POV of the narrative switches frequently. That, along with the sentence structure makes this a challenging read, but I am finding it really hard to put down! I like to be challenged as a reader and appreciate it when authors take risks. It doesn't always work, and I imagine some readers won't like the writing. But I am really enjoying it!

The Last: A Novel

Next up for me may be The Last by Hanna Jameson, which isn't coming out until next spring.  This one is a homage to Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, with a twist (there seem to be a number of similar stories being published lately)! Set in a Swiss hotel after an apocalyptic event, twenty survivors attempt to identify a murder in their midst. This one is being promoted as a dystopian psychological thriller, and it sounds really good!

What books are you enjoying reading this fall? I'd love to hear about them!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Gratitude: The Art of Being Thankful ~Lone Star Book Blog Tours ~ Excerpt, Promo and Giveaway!

Vickie Phelps
Genre: Non-Fiction / Inspirational / Devotional
Publisher: Inspire Books
Date of Publication: July 11, 2017
Number of Pages: 92, 4.5" x 6"
Scroll down for Giveaway!

This ninety-two-page gift book is a compilation of devotions, poems, prayers, and lists of things to be grateful for. The difference between having what you want and having what you need is a principle some people never grasp. In the reading of this book, you may realize you have much more to be grateful for than you were aware of.  Use this little book as a daily devotional or pick it up at random times to remind yourself that you are a blessed individual.

PRAISE FOR GRATITUDE: THE ART OF BEING THANKFUL: "This little gem of a book arrived before we left on vacation, so I took it along. It became our shared devotional and 'thought for the day' outlook…and colored our time away with gratitude. This unique discovery is one to treasure." – 5 Star Review, Amazon verified purchase 


Gratitude: The Art of Being Thankful
By Vickie S. Phelps

As I brewed my morning cup of coffee, I thought of the people who had been hit by recent hurricanes and earthquakes. Were they able to have something as simple as a cup of coffee this morning? Were they in homes darkened by a power outage that kept them from enjoying their usual morning routine or standing in a home flooded by water the storm dumped on the area?

I recalled what it had been like when a tornado came through our small town a few years earlier leaving us without power, uprooting trees, and damaging homes. Our neighbor came outside, and we talked for a moment. She remarked that we couldn’t have our usual morning cup of coffee without electricity. Later, when my husband hooked up a generator, I brewed some coffee and carried a cup to her house. She seemed excited that I brought her coffee and expressed her gratitude. Suddenly, on that May morning, the small things we took for granted every day had become something we were very grateful for.

Now, as I inhaled the warm scent of my morning coffee, I breathed a prayer of thanks for the cup in my hand and for those who were suffering, realizing there were those who might not even have this smallest of blessings today.

Prayer: Father, thank You for giving me the pleasure of a morning cup of coffee, knowing that You provided even that small gift.

Vickie Phelps writes to encourage, inspire, and influence. She has published 200 articles, devotionals, and essays in more than fifty magazines and contributed to several anthologies. Vickie is the author of the novels, Postmark From the Past, Moved, Left No Address, Waiting for Joy, and a devotional book, Psalms for the Common Man. Vickie is co-author with Jo Huddleston of the gift book, Simply Christmas, and Writing 101: A Handbook of Tips & Encouragement for Writers. 
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2nd Prize: Signed Copy of The Art of Being Thankful + $5 Amazon Gift Card + Postmark from the Past & Waiting for Joy (holiday theme pack)
3rd Prize:  Signed Copy of The Art of Being Thankful  
(US ONLY) NOVEMBER 7-16, 2018
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