Thursday, March 12, 2015

Sisters of Shiloh Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway!

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

Genre: Historical Fiction


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.

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.

What Did I Think About the Story?

The first thing I have to say about Sisters of Shiloh is that the concept behind it - two sisters disguising themselves as men so they can fight for the South in the Civil War, both for love but of very different kinds - is truly fascinating! While I learned from author Kathy Hepinstall's guest post that over 400 cases of women doing this have been documented, this is the first time I have ever read a book that discusses it and found it to be a completely original point of view for a novel. With so many components of history - the Tudors, the Borgias, WWII - saturating the market it was refreshing to read a part of history wholly new to me and let me just tell you that Sisters of Shiloh shines a bright light into historical fiction all it's own.

The novel starts out with a bang, Libby (now disguised as Thomas) meeting with her angry, demanding....and very much DEAD!...husband Arden in the woods, where  he is demanding she kill more men to avenge his death and hinting to her that her much beloved sister, Josephine (now Joseph), is hiding something heinous regarding someone's death. This strange, disturbing encounter and mystery regarding what Arden is hinting at just pulled me in and made it nearly impossible to stop reading.

After this occurrence the novel goes back in time to when the two sisters are young and close and the whole world lays before them. Arden soon arrives on the scene and becomes a slight wedge between them, being unkind to Josephine and rather possessive and manipulative of Libby. But even when faced with an unlikable and prejudiced man like Arden, Josephine will do anything for her sister, including going along with Libby on her crazy mission to be with Arden before a huge battle he is set to fight in  and to go into battle herself when Libby is determined to do so in an attempt to seek some sort of revenge for Arden's death. Josephine can clearly see that her sister is mad with grief but there is nothing for her to do - she will follow Libby right up to the gates of hell in order to protect her sister. This all consuming love that Josephine has for her sister is beyond touching and is the perfect mirror to the much more unhealthy consumption Libby has for Arden once he is gone. I don't have a sister but I could only hope if I did I had a relationship with her that was half as unconditional as Josephine's love for Libby!

The meat of this  novel is the time the sisters spend in battle. The vivid descriptions of the carnage of war is unbelievably realistic and it is  hard to read while also impossible to look away. The reader is in the middle of the battles and front and center to see men fall apart, both mentally and physically, as they trudge along between the spurts of furious and deadly activity in a war that seems unending. We see it all, disease, every possibly privation and what we all later will know as PTSD. Sisters of Shiloh is the perfect example of what makes me love a work of historical fiction - I was immersed in the goings on of the characters, not told what was happening to them.

While the battles and hardships might be called the meat, the tender love that develops between Josephine and the soldier Wesley would be its balm. With everything they go through and all that Josephine sacrifices, seeing her have a little bit of  happiness, just for herself, was so sweet and, while rather a small part of the overall story, is by far my favorite part. It is one of the few happy points in a novel that definitely has more dark side to it.

I was completely blown away by Sisters of Shiloh. I can only hope that these sisters collaborate on more novels together. I, for one, will be first in line to get them if they do!

What Did I Think About the Cover?

I love it! It is simple in design but the colors and font give it an old-timey feel and the soft, beautiful flower marred by the spray of blood is a perfect representation of the sisters to me.

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

Thank you to Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for providing me with a free copy of Sisters of Shiloh in exchange for an honest review. Be sure to continue below for more information about the authors, the book, the rest of the blog tour and how to win a copy of your very own!

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

Buy the Book

Barnes & Noble

About 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.



To win a Paperback copy of Sisters of Shiloh please fill out the form HERE.
Please note that the mandatory entry requires you to leave a comment below. If you do not leave a comment and then enter your name and email on the form you will not be entered. All other entries are optional.
I will pick a winner on March 19th and email the winner for their mailing address. The winner will have 48 hours to respond before I have to pick another winner.
You must be 18 or older to enter.
Giveaway is open to US residents only.
Only one entry per household.

All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog
/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
Good luck!

Sisters of Shiloh Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, March 3
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Review & Giveaway at The Book Binder’s Daughter
Wednesday, March 4
Thursday, March 5
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Review & Giveaway at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Friday, March 6
Review & Giveaway at Unshelfish
Saturday, March 7
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court
Monday, March 9
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, March 10
Guest Post at A Literary Vacation
Review & Interview at Books and Benches
Spotlight at Layered Pages
Wednesday, March 11
Thursday, March 12
Review & Giveaway at A Literary Vacation
Interview & Giveaway at Forever Ashley
Friday, March 13
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Monday, March 16
Guest Post & Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf


  1. This is a fascinating period in our history and this novel sounds right up my alley. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of the book!

    1. Isn't it simply fascinating?! I honestly didn't know this was done and I'm clearly sadly unaware of much of Civil War history. I hope to remedy that by reading more about it! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment! Good luck in the giveaway!

  2. I was aware that women disguised themselves as men and fought during the Civil War but have never read any historical fiction or non-fiction on this subject. I am wondering how did they keep men from knowing that they were women? Did they disguise their voices? How did they deal with their monthlies? I also wonder about when the women who did this during the war, did they return, marry and have children? I also wonder if they did have children, did they keep their service a secret from their children, if there were any. I would love to read this historical fiction account.


    1. Hi Carol! You bring up some very interesting questions and some of that is discussed in the book (doesn't it make you want to read it even more? :) ). I think you would love this! Good luck with the giveaway!

  3. HI Colleen - thanks so much for your review, we're glad you enjoyed it. I just wanted to respond to Carol and tell her that I'm writing a three-part series about this subject (which will answer some of her questions) for's blog. And they are doing a fantastic giveaway of a three-month subscription to ancestry plus a signed copy of our book. Check it out on their Facebook page - the first article was earlier this week and the next two will be in the next several days. Thanks!

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog, Becky!! I will be checking out your series about have me fascinated now :)!

  4. I'm pleased to hear that you liked the book so much. It sounds like a really fascinating treatment of the horrors of war from a female perspective, something I'd like to see more of. Thanks for the review.

    1. It really is fascinating Carl! Thanks for stopping by my blog and good luck in the giveaway!

  5. This book sounds very interesting. I like that it is the story of two sisters during the Civil War.

    1. I agree Angela! Thank you for stopping by and good luck in the giveaway!

  6. What a great review. I'm surprised there's 400 cases of women dressing as men to join up--I know I remember hearing about it in school (wasn't there a few for the Revolution, too?), but no idea there were that many.

    1. Thank you! I was surprised by that high a number of women dressing as men to fight as well...I had no idea! Thanks for coming by and good luck in the giveaway!

  7. My reasons for interest in this book are relatively lame:
    1) awesome plot line in my fave genre
    2) liked Kathy Hepinstall's other novel
    3) curious what a sibling artistic collaboration of this kind, presumably a successful ones, actually looks like

    Thanks for the in-depth features and the chance to win, Colleen! --Kara S

    1. I don't think those reasons are lame at all! In fact, those are some of the very same reasons I wanted to read this book :)! Good luck in the giveaway!!

  8. Sorry I'm a few minutes late announcing the winner of our paperback copy of Sisters of Shiloh! My son is on Spring Break and I also took the week off from work, so nothing is as orderly as it usually is :)! Anyway...our winner is Carol Wong!! Congratulations Carol! I'm off to send you an email for your mailing address and you will have 48 hours to answer before I have to pick another winner. I'll have more giveaway coming up so be sure to come back and check them out!