Seashells in My Pocket

Apr 16, 2024 | Book Reviews

With so many World War II stories set in Europe or America, Seashells in My Pocket by Terri Wangard is a breath of fresh air—both figuratively and literally. The unique setting is Brazil. Several scenes take place on the Atlantic seashore by Recife or Natal—vivid enough to feel the wind, inhale the salty air, sink your feet into the sand, or hold a beautiful, intricate seashell. 

I appreciated learning more about how World War II impacted Brazil—something I never knew about before. In fact, never even considered! 

Another unique feature of Terri’s novels are her realistic scenes with pilots in flight. Be sure to check out the Friends & Enemies Q & A (listed below) to learn more about her airplane knowledge and experience. You’ll see it evidenced in Seashells in My Pocket, too.

Terri joined me on the blog twice before:

Scrivenings Press LLC (March 2, 2024)



My thoughts:

The hero Daniel and heroine Isabella are easy to love. Daniel’s an American pilot based in Natal. Isabella grew up in Brazil and works at the same American base. They are both half German. The characterizations and dialogs are strong and enhance the plot.

Isabella’s difficulty understanding American idioms adds a sweet touch of humor. After all, how can store items be “on the house” when they’re in her hands? And of course “tough cookies” don’t cry . . . or crumble. 

Daniel’s a noble hero so it’s no surprise Isabella is attracted to him. Though accused of avoiding combat, Daniel doesn’t run from trouble. In fact, he does what he needs to do, whatever the risk. The risk increases as the evil man stalking Isabella gets closer to his target. 

The setting comes to life whether on the beach surrounded by seashells or in an airplane over the ocean. The intricacy of seashells is relayed in the same stark detail as the rigors and dangers of navigating a wounded aircraft miles from the base. You will feel like you’re there—experiencing both the serenity and the fright. 

Join me for some Q & A with author Terri Wangard.

Questions about Seashells in My Pocket

Gail Halvorsen was famously known as the Candy Bomber of the Berlin Airlift. During WWII, he was based in Brazil as a cargo pilot with the Air Transport Command. Brazil? What was going on in Brazil?

Most WWII books are set in Europe. I like the idea of unusual settings. That’s what this series is all about. My connection to Brazil is having spent one day in Rio de Janeiro in 2008. The only other setting in any of my books where I’ve spent time is Stockholm, Sweden.

The problem with unusual settings is the dearth of research materials available. For my B-17 series, I had dozens of sources. For Brazil, I found one out-of-print book by a navy photographer. Without it, I would have had a hard time putting a face on Natal. 

I also found an obscure document that I was able to purchase through the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Other than that, I picked up clues here and there. Humphrey Bogart was there? When? What did he do? I spent a lot of time verifying and fleshing out those clues.

The US airbase in Natal was one of the busiest airports in the world during the war, yet who knows about it now?

Brazil came first, then an ATC pilot. A lot of German communities were located in South America and southern Brazil, so that offered lots of possibilities for the heroine and the plot. Since Isabel lived on the coast, seashells were a logical hobby. The racial mix in Brazil added another dimension.

The common denominator in the series is the friendship of three Milwaukee men who all became pilots in WWII. Daniel debuted in my WWI book The Storm Breaks Forth as the baby nephew of the heroine, so he came with a backstory. I gift my characters with talents I wish I had, so Isabel was fluent in languages and brilliant in math.

This story was written a few years ago. (The draft of book three, coming in March 2026, is nearly complete.) I don’t recall any surprising twists. While I don’t outline, I have an idea going in on what will happen. New angles come from my ongoing research, like finding out Daniel and Isabel had a chance to meet Humphrey Bogart. 

I love seashells and have created “masterpieces” with them. My favorite thing to do in Florida in shelling at dawn on the gulf coast. Isabel would say I’m an amateur. 

Writing the woman’s role is easier because who can understand what a man is thinking? My beta readers have sometimes asked, would he really say/do that? Smoking, drinking, and swearing were rampant on military bases. My heroes are squeaky clean and avoid the bad habits!

I like to think all of my books are outside of the norm with their settings. Friends & Enemies is set in rural Germany without an emphasis on Jewish persecution or Gestapo tactics. No Neutral Ground is in Sweden and Rolf, the American airman, fled Germany because of Jewish ancestry. Soar Like Eagles features the Red Cross doughnut girls in England and France.

Isabel’s biggest difference is she’s not an American. She’d never been in the US. She’s fluent in English, but doesn’t always understand Americanisms. 

Once I’m finished with this series, I am not going to feature another pilot! 

When I wrote Friends & Enemies, I dove into B-17 research and found so many sources, especially my favorite type: memoirs. Those authors lent their experiences to my characters. My dad and brother have flying experience (Cessna types, but still . . .). They can answer my questions about throttles or rudders or whatever. 

Living in Wisconsin, I’ve been able to attend the Experimental Aircraft Association shows in Oshkosh and other warbirds exhibits. I’ve boarded C-47s like Daniel flew, so I know how steeply the floor slopes when the plane is parked.

Book two, coming in March of 2025, is set in Iceland. Daniel’s friend Stefan (mentioned in Seashells) is a PBY pilot. He meets a Red Cross worker who is French Canadian. 

Book three will be a little different. My original story idea fell apart before I even started writing. It was supposed to be set in Australia, but ended up in Hawaii and on an aircraft carrier and a hospital ship. It features Daniel’s friend John (also mentioned in Seashells) and Daniel’s cousin Gloria (also mentioned in The Storm Breaks Forth).


If you like historical fiction, you might enjoy my novel, A Hundred Magical Reasons. This story spotlights L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, his friendship with a young girl, and his impact through the decades. Set in Holland, Michigan, this pre-published dual timeline novel alternates between 1980 and the early 1900s. Read more and watch the book trailer here. The story recently won Scrivenings Press novel contest and is currently under consideration at another publisher.

If you like historical Southern fiction or small town/rural stories about family dynamics and secrets, you might enjoy my re-launched novel All That Is Hidden. Set near North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains in 1968, the story spotlights the bond of family and the connections of a tight-knit community. Northern exploitation threatens as a father’s hidden past catches up to him and tests family ties. Learn more and watch the trailer here.

  • Winner of the Artisan Book Reviews Book Excellence Award
  • Semifinalist in Serious Writer’s Book of the Decade contest


Terri Wangard bio

Terri Wangard grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, during the Lombardi Glory Years. Her first Girl Scout badge was the Writer. These days she writes historical fiction, and won the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Woodland’s Chapter 2013 Writers on the Storm (WOTS) contest and the ACFW 2013 First Impressions, as well as being an ACFW 2012 Genesis finalist. Holder of a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in library science, her research included going for a ride in a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. Classic Boating Magazine, a family business since 1984, keeps her busy as an associate editor. Learn more on her website.


Join me next time for a visit with author Kendra Broekhuis.

Meanwhile, have you read Seashells in My Pocket or any others by Terri Wangard? What are some of the World War II settings you’ve enjoyed reading about? Answer in the comments below.

Ever reading,


Sign up for my monthly newsletter and receive the prequel for All That Is Hidden:

Coming soon: A Hundred Magical Reasons, a novel

Join My Newsletter!

Stay in the loop! Subscribe to my monthly e-newsletter for book news & exclusive  giveaways.

Bonus: I’ll send you the Prequel to All That Is Hidden.

Follow Me Here!

Want Book Reviews?

Subscribe to the Standout Stories blog and I’ll send you Smoky Mountain recipes based on food in my novel All That Is Hidden.

By clicking “subscribe,” you agree with the terms of the privacy policy noted on the bottom of our website.


  1. Anita Klumpers

    This is fascinating! All the various threads Terri brings together—so much imagination and research.
    The best of almost all worlds!
    It must be rather delightful to investigate how the war (it was another world war, after all!)
    impacted other continents.
    And does Terri plan to do on-the-spot research in Iceland and Hawaii? 🙂

    Thanks for another interesting interview with another interesting author!

    • Laura DeNooyer

      Yes, she has an excellent blend of research and imagination!

    • Terri

      Anita, I would love to visit Iceland and Hawaii for research, but those trips are slightly out of my budget! I did travel to Hawaii many years ago with no idea that I would one day write a book set there.

  2. Elizabeth Daghfal

    This book told such a sweet story 🙂 It was perfect for a Sunday afternoon getaway. I loved that it opened up a whole new realm of knowledge of WWII–proving it REALLY was a WORLD war.

    And, after reading the books, it’s so fun hearing Terri’s comments here about her process of writing: “I gift my characters with talents I wish I had”–LOVE that!
    I always look forward to your question about what the characters would have to say about the authors. Terri’s response made me literally laugh out loud. 😉

    Looking forward to her next book!

    • Laura DeNooyer

      I’m glad you enjoyed the book, Elizabeth, as well as the Q & A!

    • Terri

      Thank you, Elizabeth!

  3. Gretchen Carlson

    I’ve read my share of World War II books, and none have referred to an American airbase in Brazil. This sounds fascinating!

    • Terri

      I hope you have a chance to read Seashells in My Pocket, Gretchen. Finding the unusual makes writing more interesting for me.

  4. Mary

    This is one book review you have posted that I have also read and enjoyed. I loved the cover of Seashells in My Pocket. Just as the cover had a refreshing look, so was the story refreshing. Isabel’s seashell art being woven into the story gave depth to her as a character. The unique settings of Brazil in WWll was fascinating. Terri’s stories always have a Christian world view. Her characters express their faith wherever they are at. I appreciate this very much. It is a great book to read!

    • Laura DeNooyer

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the book, Mary! Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm!

    • Terri

      Thank you, Mary!

  5. Ruth Schmeckpeper

    This was a great book. I love WWII stories, but Terri captured a new perspective and sweet romance. Well done!

    • Terri

      Thank you, Ruth!

  6. Rita Trickel

    I love that Terri landed on setting a novel in Brazil—like you, Laura, I don’t think I’d heard or read anything about Brazil during WWII. What a terrific location choice. Add that to the interesting characters, and she’s enticed me!

    • Terri

      Thank you, Rita!

  7. Barbara M. Britton

    Terri always does a great job bringing WWII to life. I enjoyed my trip to Brazil and all the tension in the story. And of course, the happy-ever-after.

  8. Deena Adams

    I love the cover of Terri’s book and it sounds like a great story. I’m adding to my want to read list!

    • Terri

      Thank you, Deena!

  9. Nancy Radosevich

    Great review of this super novel! I enjoyed reading Seashells in My Pocket and highly recommend it! I had no idea Terri was a seashell artist herself, but I have loved all of her previous historical novels – this is no exception!

    • Laura DeNooyer

      So glad you loved it and can recommend it, too, Nancy!

    • Terri

      Thank you, Nancy.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to my Standout Stories blog to receive email alerts when a new post goes live!

I'll send you Smoky Mountain recipes based on my novel!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This