Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Book Review: Dawn of Liberty

Book Review: Dawn of Liberty

History, Mystery and Faith is pleased to be part of the blog tour for Amber Schamel's new book Dawn of Liberty. Pour yourself a "cuppa" and enjoy my review of this wonderful set of short stories.

Samuel Adams is often depicted as a heavy-handed rogue who used propaganda and violence to convince his fellow colonists to go to war with England. However, most scholars agree about the inaccuracy of that portrayal. Adams was raised in a highly religious, Puritan family that was active in the Massachusetts political scene. One of only three children to live to adulthood, Adams considered entering the ministry, but settled on going into business. Unfortunately, by all accounts he was unsuccessful in a number of enterprises, and finally settled on politics.

Dawn of Liberty features three short stories: “Dawn of Liberty,” “A Shot at Freedom,” and “Travail of a Nation.” In the first, the Pennsylvanian delegate is divided over the vote for independence. Two hours remain on the clock for Samuel to convince the men to put aside their differences to help birth a nation. In the second, Samuel and his friend, John Hancock, are on the run for their lives. Lexington is filled with British soldiers eager to take them into custody for their part in the colonies’ disobedience to the Crown. Samuel and John must decide whether to stay and fight, or escape to safety. In the third story, more British troops are on their way, and Samuel is must once again use his skills as an orator to convince his fellow delegates of the importance of unification among the colonies.

Through vivid description and effective dialogue, Samuel Adams becomes a living, vibrant character with dreams and goals of his own. He is no longer a two-dimensional man in the dry pages of a textbook. Readers are drawn into the era and the issues that everyday people dealt with as they struggled to raise their families, earn a living, and exercise their faith. Historical information is skillfully threaded throughout the story, giving readers an understanding of the controversies affecting the colonists.
By offering “slices” or vignettes of Adams’s life, the author helps us see Adams as a real person, not just a name on the bottom of the Declaration of Independence. Ms. Schamel has created a fast paced, intriguing collection of stories. Highly recommended.

About the Author: Author of over half a dozen books, Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for travel, history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call “historical fiction at its finest”. She lives in Colorado and spends half her time volunteering in the Ozarks. Visit her online at

Giveaway: To celebrate her tour Amber is giving away a signed copy of The Healer's Touch and a $15 Amazon gift card. Click to enter:


Monday, June 27, 2016

Mystery Monday: Who is E.R Punshon?

As if I don’t have enough TBR (to be read) books on my nightstand, I continue to search for authors I’ve not heard of from the 1930s and 1940s. Thanks (again) to The Passing Tramp, I have discovered E.R Punshon.

A British literary critic, playwright and novelist, Punshon also wrote under the pseudonym Robertson Halket. He published a series of crime and deduction stories (perhaps called police procedurals today) that featured Inspector Carter, Sergeant Bell, and Constable Bobby Owen, who eventually rose to the rank of Commander at Scotland Yard. Owen was Oxford educated and reminiscent of the “gentlemen sleuths” found in writers like Agatha Christie and Margery Alligham.

Punshon’s ability to construct intricate plots has been compared to that of John Dickson Carr, considered one of the greatest of the “Golden Age” mystery writers, and author of the Dr. Fell and Sir Henry Merrivale series. In addition to well-written plots, Punshon also studied character in his novels-the motives behind crimes and what drives a seemingly normal person to commit them.

It is challenging to find books from the less popular writers of this era. Even if you find them, they are often cost prohibitive. The good news is that Dean Street Press has reprinted many detective stories from the lesser known authors, including E.R. Punshon. If you’re looking for a intriguing, well-constructed stories, give one of Punshon’s classics a try.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Book Review: Hold Me Close

Book Review: Hold Me Close

History, Mystery and Faith is pleased to be part of the blog tour for Marguerite Martin Gray's new book Hold Me Close. Pour yourself a "cuppa" and check out my review.

Louise Lestarjette is a young Frenchman whose family lost everything during the prosecution of the Huguenots (French Protestants influenced by the writings of John Calvin.) Tired of the elitism of French society and determined to make his own way, he flees to the American colonies. He lands in Charles Town, South Carolina where his aunt has settled after her marriage to an American merchant. Louis’s plan is to earn a tidy profit, and then be on his way. He doesn’t count on meeting a beautiful, intriguing young woman or members of the Sons of Liberty. As relationships between the colonies and England deteriorate, Louis struggles to remain non-partisan. Eventually, he must make a choice about which side he will support.

Elizabeth Elliott is not a typical colonial era daughter. Raised in a family where education is allowed for both genders, she is versed in politics, religion, and social issues. She teaches pianoforte to the students at Charles Town College, where her father is a founding trustee and vocal supporter of King George. Courted by William Burns, a soldier in the British Army, yet a member of the Daughters of Liberty, Elizabeth must somehow reconcile the disparate parts of her life.
Hold Me Close is a sweet romance set during the volatile times leading up to the American
Revolution. Although a work of fiction, some of the events are real, and many of the people and places existed. Partially told through the viewpoint of Louis, a Frenchman and outsider, readers are exposed to both sides of the issues that thrust the colonies into war with their motherland. Description and dialogue effectively evoke the flavor of the era.

Colonial America is not a time period I typically read, so I appreciated the historical information woven throughout the story. Christian themes of God’s love and forgiveness, as well as dependence on God are evidenced through the character’s lives without being overly preachy. The novel ties up all the “loose ends,” but does include a bit of a cliff hanger. Historical notes, sketches, and photos give readers additional insight into the characters and time period.

About the Author: Marguerite Martin Gray enjoys the study of history, especially when combined with fiction. An avid traveler and reader, she teaches French and has degrees in French, Spanish, and Journalism from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. Recently, she received a MA in English from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene. She has two grown children and currently lives with her husband and Cleo, her cat, in Abilene, Texas.

GIVEAWAY: To celebrate her tour, Marguerite is giving away a fun themed prize basket. Click to enter:

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Lisa Flickinger

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Lisa Flickinger

I'd like to welcome Lisa Flickinger today who has recently published her first novel!

Linda: Your bio indicates that you journey to writing began as a young girl. When did you know you want to pursue publication?

Lisa: Publication has always been a dream of mine, not so I will become famous or make a lot of money (probably a good thing as it won’t be happening anytime soon) but because I’ve always wanted to share my stories with others.

LM: Congratulations on publishing your first novel. Where did you come up with the idea for the story?

Lisa: My dad used to take us gold panning for hours along the rivers near our home. At the time we found it boring; but as I aged it sparked a fascination with gold rush history and led to the topic of my novel All That Glitters.

LM: The age old question for writers-are you a “pantster” or a plotter?

Lisa: I am most definitely a pantser. Characters come to my mind and play out scenes all the time. I usually have a vague idea of where I want a story to go but often new characters or plot twists will appear out of nowhere.

LM: Are any of your characters based on real people?

Lisa: Near the end of the novel, my main character, Vivian, and her friend, Alistair, visit a hospital to see if her sister Ginny might be a patient. They meet a Catholic Priest who runs the hospital and was famous in actual Dawson City history for his dedication and service. 

LM: What is your next project?

Lisa: My next project is another historical romance about a spunky young woman who sets out across country to deliver a team of mules to Death Valley, California during the Borax rush.

LM: Sounds very interesting! What are your passions outside of writing?

Lisa: I love antiques and decorating. My favourite shows are reno shows and when inspired I do some of that too. My newest passion is training as a Pregnancy Care Centre client advocate.

LM: What else do you want folks to know about you?

Lisa: I love the Lord Jesus Christ dearly, and my deepest wish is to discover what He wants me to do and to be faithful in the doing. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Traveling Tuesday: Resurrection Bay

My husband and I recently visited Alaska. Part of our trip included a boat tour of Resurrection Bay, a bay on the Kenai Peninsula, named by Captain Alexandr Baranov who retreated into the bay during a horrific storm in the late 1700s. The ship and her crew survived the storm that lifted on Easter Sunday.

The Russians decided they had harvested as much as they could from the territory, and sold it to the United States for 7.2 million dollars in 1867 (about $.20 per acre). The deal was negotiated by Secretary of State William Seward. At the time, the purchase was considered a foolish decision by many and referred to the transaction as Seward’s Folly. Ultimately the value of the land was realized, and the largest town on the Kenai Peninsula was named in Seward’s honor.  
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government realized its need to improve coastal defenses. A deep water port, Seward remains ice-free during the winter months. In addition, the mountains and islands surrounding the bay gave it strategic importance. Because of its position overlooking Resurrection Bay, the first site chosen was Caines Head. Over the course of several months, gun batteries, searchlights, communication sites, and supporting facilities were constructed. Six other sites around the bay were set aside, but only four were eventually used.
According to the National Park Service website, there were very few incidents of real or perceived enemy activity in the bay. However, a local fox farmer named Pete Sather made the mistake of heading into the bay without signaling. Within minutes, he found himself under attack. Soldiers turned the searchlight on him and boarded his boat. Indignant over the incident, he felt he should have been ensured safe passage. After all, he was carrying the mail.
The areas were demilitarized after the war, and the land was turned over to the Department of Interior. In the early 1960s, the state of Alaska Bureau of Land Management took over the property.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Wartime Wednesday: Roald Dahl Before Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Wartime Wednesday: Roald Dahl

Before he wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl served in the Royal Air Force as a fighter pilot during WWII. He rose to the rank of acting Wing Commander. Born to Norwegian parents in Wales on September 13, 1916. In 1920, he lost his sister to appendicitis and his father to pneumonia within weeks of each other. He went to several schools while growing up, and had several bad experiences over the years.

Despite his unhappiness at school, he was an excellent athlete, primarily playing squash and football. In addition to his interest in literature, he was an avid amateur photographer, rarely seen without a camera around his neck. After he finished his schooling, he traveled to Newfoundland where he hiked extensively. In 1934, he joined the Shell Petroleum Company where he was first stationed in Kenya and then Tanganyika (now Tanzania).

In November 1939, Dahl joined the Royal Air Force. He received his pilot training and flew sorties until he was badly injured in a crash a year later. He fully recovered and was released for flying duties in February 1941. However, by May he began to experience debilitating headaches which caused him to black out. He was invalided out and sent home to Britain.

After nearly a year of treatment, he recovered and made his way to America where he served in several capacities including intelligence officer for William Stephenson. It was during this time, he met novelist C.S. Forester and began to write. Dahl’s first published story was “A Piece of Cake” issued in 1942. His first children’s book, The Gremlins, was published in 1943.

Considered one of the greatest children’s storytellers in the 20th Century, Dahl received numerous awards for his writing. Known for inventing new words in his books, he might be pleased to discover that The Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary has been issued to celebrate the centenary of his birth.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Mystery Monday: A Master of Humdrum Mystery

Mystery Monday: Cecil John Charles Street

I continue to look for detective and crime novels written in the 1930s and 1940s. I have stumbled on a wonderful blog called The Passting Tramp that focuses on mystery writers from that era, discovering that there are more authors from that time period than Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett.

My most recent find is Cecil John Charles Street. Born in 1884 on Gibraltar where his father was serving, Street followed his father’s footsteps and went into the military. He served in WWI and the Irish War of Independence, and ultimately mustered out as a Major. Married twice, he had one daughter with his first wife. He was awarded the military cross as well as the OBE (Order of the British Empire) – some say it was for the prolific number of books he wrote.

He published an estimated 140 novels under six pseudonyms. (I cannot imagine! It’s all I can do to produce a full manuscript in 8-9 months!) Under the name John Rhode, he wrote a series of more than fifty books featuring forensic scientist Dr. Priestly. A second long series (more than 40 books) was written under the name of Miles Burton.

Street was often referred to as one of the Masters of Humdrum Mystery, a derogatory term coined by critic and author Julian Symons. (However, perhaps Street has the last laugh as his books are highly collectable, and commanding significant prices.) His claim to fame is his ingenious ways of “bumping off” the victims in his stories. Who knew there were that many ways to kill someone?