Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Review Blog Tour and Interview: SISTERS OF SHILOH by Kathy and Becky Hepinstall

Please join sisters and authors, Kathy and Becky Hepinstall as they tour the blogosphere with HF Virtual Book Tours for Sisters of Shiloh, from March 3-16.

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A best-selling novelist enlists her own sister to bring us the story of two Southern sisters, disguised as men, who join the Confederate Army—one seeking vengeance on the battlefield, the other finding love.

01_Sisters of Shiloh_Cover
In a war that pitted brother against brother, two sisters choose their own battle. Joseph and Thomas are fresh recruits for the Confederate Army, daring to join the wild fray that has become the seemingly endless Civil War, sharing everything with their fellow soldiers—except the secret that would mean their undoing: they are sisters.

Before the war, Joseph and Thomas were Josephine and Libby. But that bloodiest battle, Antietam, leaves Libby to find her husband, Arden, dead. She vows vengeance, dons Arden's clothes, and sneaks off to enlist with the Stonewall Brigade, swearing to kill one Yankee for every year of his too-short life. Desperate to protect her grief-crazed sister, Josephine insists on joining her. Surrounded by flying bullets, deprivation, and illness, the sisters are found by other dangers: Libby is hurtling toward madness, haunted and urged on by her husband's ghost; Josephine is falling in love with a fellow soldier. She lives in fear both of revealing their disguise and of losing her first love before she can make her heart known to him.

In her trademark "vibrant" (Washington Post Book World) and "luscious" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) prose, Kathy Hepinstall joins with her sister Becky to show us the hopes of love and war, the impossible-to-sever bonds of sisterhood, and how what matters most can both hurt us and heal us.

Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Formats: Hardcover, Ebook
Pages: 256
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Praise for Sisters of Shiloh
"The Hepinstall sisters provide a fascinating glimpse into Civil War life from an unconventional perspective." -Kirkus

"The very best historical fiction delivers us into another time and place. In Sisters of Shiloh, Kathy and Becky Hepinstall plunge us so deeply into a complete and vividly rendered world of Civil War battlefields and Confederate campsites, we can smell the gun powder and taste the metallic tinge of fear along with their remarkable heroines." -Janis Cooke Newman, author of Mary

Q&A with Kathy & Becky
What are three things people may not know about Sisters of Shiloh?

Becky: I think the fact that surprises people the most is that Kathy and I started writing this book more than 12 years ago! We finished the first version of it about a year and a half later, but couldn’t get a publisher at the time. As Kathy likes to say, it didn’t take us 12 years to write it, it just took twelve years for someone to give a damn!”

Kathy: The girls were originally younger in early versions of the book, and it was initially called The Stonewall Girls. In those drafts, Josephine and Libby were avenging the death of their brother, who then was called Ambrose. Parts of the original version went into my novel, Blue Asylum, which was published in 2012.

What is your favorite scene in Sisters of Shiloh?
Becky: I think my favorite scene is where Josephine and Wesley discover a barrel of applejack brandy while rooting through the smokehouse of a farm they come across. They proceed to get quite drunk and the resulting scene is funny, awkward, and in the end, a little shocking (which is pretty much how most of my experiences with alcohol go). 

Kathy: Becky is just trying to pretend that her favorite scene isn’t the one with the most nudity. 

What else have you written? 
Kathy: This is my fifth novel, but my first with a partner. I wrote House of Gentle Men, The Absence of Nectar, Prince of Lost Places and Blue Asylum. Next I have my first Young Adult novel coming out next winter called The Lifeboat Clique.

Becky: This is the first novel I’ve ever gotten to help write, and I can’t wait to try another one with Kathy (we’re laying the groundwork for novel about female Russian fighter pilots in WWII). In the meantime, I write a mean Christmas Card. 

What has been your greatest pleasure in writing Sisters of Shiloh?
Becky: Kathy is my big sister, and I have looked up to her my entire life. She is such an amazingly talented writer, and I’ve always been so proud of her. And she has been my biggest champion, encouraging me to write and to find my own voice. So when she approached me about working together, I was honored…and so scared and feeling unworthy. Here she was, this twice-published author and I was just a young Navy-wife, working in a career I didn’t really love. We became even closer throughout this whole process. How lucky am I that I get to hang out with my cool sister and have this amazing adventure together? Working with Kathy - that was the best part of this whole experience. The rest is just gravy. 

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead characters from Sisters of Shiloh?
Becky: Because our characters have to completely dissolve all of their ties with femininity and become men, I think it will be a real challenge for any actress. It will take someone who isn’t afraid to look dirty and unglamorous and pass for a man. There are a lot of really talented young actresses out there that I think could pull this off, especially Jennifer Lawrence. She also has that intensity and focus that would make her a perfect fit for Libby, I think. I also like Saoirse Ronan.

Kathy: Jennifer Lawrence would be perfect as Libby! And I love Nicolas Hoult.
A Reader's Opinion

I love Civil War-era stories, and though the concept of this story isn't a new one, the Hepinstall sisters deliver a unique viewpoint. I'll admit that the story was different from what I expected, but that's sometimes a good thing. I like to be surprised. Two sisters--one suffering the loss of a husband, the other loyal to a fault--are drawn into the war like so many others. Instead of remaining at home, Libby and Josephine dress up like soldiers and join the fight, though Josephine doesn't actually fight. The sisters manage to survive life in the Confederate Army without going unnoticed, and Josephine finds love along the way, which she deserves after the way she was treated. 

I would have liked to have delved deeper into the sisters lives; the character's themselves. For some reason it felt more on the surface. I'm all for avenging the love of a good man, but it would have taken a lot more to get me to go through what Libby and Josephine experienced in the war. Josephine definitely turned out to be be favorite character for reasons future readers will no doubt see for themselves. I also preferred Josephine's storyline.

I will say that by the end, the authors helped me understand Libby's reasons a little better, albeit unhealthy reasons. There's no sugar-coating of life during the war, and I do believe that those who enjoy the Civil War could appreciate this novel. It might be a bit dark and filled with angst for those more interested in romance.

Content Note: The in-depth description of bloodshed and carnage didn't bother me, but it is present. One should expect some violence in a war-based novel.

Authors and Sisters, Kathy and Becky HepinstallAbout the Authors
Kathy Hepinstall grew up outside of Houston, Texas. Kathy is the best selling author of The House of Gentle Men, The Absence of Nectar and Blue Asylum She is an award-winning creative director and advertising writer. She currently resides in Santa Barbara, California with her husband. Visit Kathy's Blog.

Becky Hepinstall grew up outside of Houston, Texas. She holds a degree in History from the University of Texas in Austin, and currently resides in Virginia Beach, Virginia with her husband, a Navy pilot, and their four children.

Join the Sisters of Shiloh Blog Tour
Monday, March 3
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Review & Giveaway at The Book Binder's Daughter

Tuesday, March 4
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, March 5
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Review & Giveaway at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Thursday, March 6
Review & Giveaway at Unshelfish

Friday, March 7
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden's Court

Monday, March 10
Guest Post at A Literary Vacation
Review & Interview at Books and Benches
Spotlight at Layered Pages

Tuesday, March 11
Review at Beth's Book Nook

Wednesday, March 12
Review & Giveaway at A Literary Vacation
Interview & Giveaway at Forever Ashley

Thursday, March 13
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Friday, March 14
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Sunday, March 16
Guest Post & Giveaway at Mina's Bookshelf

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1 comment:

  1. Sounds tempting, have to add it to my Civil War shelf on GoodReads.