Thursday 30 April 2020

Upcoming Blog Tour: The Road to Liberation: Trials and Triumphs of WWII May 5th — May 14th 2020 #HistoricalFiction #WWII #CoffeePotBookClub

The Road to Liberation: Trials and Triumphs of WWII
A Collection
By Marion Kummerow, Marina Osipova, Rachel Wesson, JJ Toner, Ellie Midwood, and Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger.

Riveting stories dedicated to celebrating the end of WWII.

From USA Today, international bestselling and award-winning authors comes a collection filled with courage, betrayal, hardships and, ultimately, victory over some of the most oppressive rulers the world has ever encountered.

By 1944, the Axis powers are fiercely holding on to their quickly shrinking territories.

The stakes are high—on both sides:

Liberators and oppressors face off in the final battles between good and evil. Only personal bravery and self-sacrifice will tip the scales when the world needs it most.

Read about a small child finding unexpected friends amidst the cruelty of the concentration camps, an Auschwitz survivor working to capture a senior member of the SS, the revolt of a domestic servant hunted by the enemy, a young Jewish girl in a desperate plan to escape the Gestapo, the chaos that confused underground resistance fighters in the Soviet Union, and the difficult lives of a British family made up of displaced children...

2020 marks 75 years since the world celebrated the end of WWII. These books will transport you across countries and continents during the final days, revealing the high price of freedom—and why it is still so necessary to “never forget”.

Stolen Childhood by Marion Kummerow
The Aftermath by Ellie Midwood
When's Mummy coming? by Rachel Wesson
Too Many Wolves in the Local Woods by Marina Osipova
Liberation Berlin by JJ Toner
Magda’s Mark by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

Pick up your copy of

The Road to Liberation: Trials and Triumphs of WWII

Marion Kummerow

Marion Kummerow was born and raised in Germany, before she set out to "discover the world" and lived in various countries. In 1999 she returned to Germany and settled down in Munich where she's now living with her family.

After dipping her toes with non-fiction books, she finally tackled the project dear to her heart. UNRELENTING is the story about her grandparents, who belonged to the German resistance and fought against the Nazi regime. It's a book about resilience, love and the courage to stand up and do the right thing.

Marina Osipova

Marina Osipova was born in East Germany into a military family and grew up in Russia where she graduated from the Moscow State Institute of History and Archives. She also has a diploma as a German language translator from the Moscow State Institute of Foreign Languages. In Russia, she worked first in a scientific-technical institute as a translator then in a Government Ministry in the office of international relations, later for some Austrian firms. For seventeen years, she lived in the United States where she worked in a law firm. Eventually, she found her home in Austria. She is an award-winning author and a member of the Historical Novel Society.

Rachel Wesson

Rachel Wesson is Irish born and bred. Drawn to reading from an early age, she started writing for publication a few years back. When she is not writing, Rachel likes to spend her time reading and playing with her three kids. Living in Dublin there are plenty of things to do, although the cowboys and Indians of her books rarely make an appearance. To chat with Rachel connect with her on Facebook - authorrachelwesson. To check out her newest releases sign up to her mailing list.

JJ Toner:

My background is in Mathematics and computing, but I have been writing full time since 2005. I write short stories and novels. My novels include the bestselling WW2 spy story 'The Black Orchestra', and its three sequels, 'The Wings of the Eagle', 'A Postcard from Hamburg', and 'The Gingerbread Spy'.

Many of my short stories have been published in mainstream magazines. Check out 'EGGS and Other Stories' - a collection of satirical SF stories. I was born in a cabbage patch in Ireland, and I still live here with my first wife, although a significant part of our extended family lives in Australia.

Ellie Midwood 

Ellie Midwood is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning historical fiction author. She owes her interest in the history of the Second World War to her grandfather, Junior Sergeant in the 2nd Guards Tank Army of the First Belorussian Front, who began telling her about his experiences on the frontline when she was a young girl. Growing up, her interest in history only deepened and transformed from reading about the war to writing about it. After obtaining her BA in Linguistics, Ellie decided to make writing her full-time career and began working on her first full-length historical novel, "The Girl from Berlin." Ellie is continuously enriching her library with new research material and feeds her passion for WWII and Holocaust history by collecting rare memorabilia and documents.

In her free time, Ellie is a health-obsessed yoga enthusiast, neat freak, adventurer, Nazi Germany history expert, polyglot, philosopher, a proud Jew, and a doggie mama. Ellie lives in New York with her fiancé and their Chihuahua named Shark Bait.

Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger was born in Minnesota in 1969 and grew up in the culture-rich neighborhood of "Nordeast" Minneapolis. She started her writing career with short stories, travel narratives, worked as a journalist and then as a managing editor for a magazine publisher before jumping the editor's desk and pursuing her dreams of writing and traveling. In 2000, she moved to western Austria and established her own communications training company. In 2005, she self-published a historical narrative based on her relatives' personal histories and experiences in Ukraine during WWII. She has won several awards for her short stories and now primarily writes historical fiction. During a trip into northern Italy over the Reschen Pass, she stood on the edge of Reschen Lake and desperately wanted to understand how a 15th-century church tower ends up sticking out of the water. What stories were lying beneath? Some eight years later, she launched the "Reschen Valley" series with five books and a novella releasing between 2018 and 2021.

For more on Chrystyna, dive in at inktreks(dot)com.

Join #HistoricalFiction author, Mary Ann Bernal, as she takes a look back in time to the plight of the Lepers. There is also a chance to check out Mary Ann’s fabulous new book — Crusader’s Path #History @BritonandDane

The Plight of the Lepers
Mary Ann Bernal

Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) has been around long before 1550 B.C. when the infection was first documented in ancient Egypt and other countries. The culprit behind the now-treatable disorder is Mycobacterium leprae, a bacterium related to the tuberculosis strain.

Recapping some of the symptoms include disfigurement, claw hands, skin lesions, nerve damage, muscle weakness, and a collapsed nose. The contagion is spread through skin contact and respiratory secretions. While leprosy is contagious, it never reached pandemic proportions. Meaning, isolating the poor souls was never necessary, so much heartbreak because of ignorance.

Leviticus 14 provides a recipe for a “cure” where bird blood is sprinkled over the affected person. Throughout the ages, dog and lamb blood was used to either drink or bathe in. Desperation leads to desperate measures as witnessed by the various odd treatments using snake venom, frog poison, bee and scorpion stings, and chaulmoogra oil to apply on the lesions. Worse yet was the use of arsenic and castration, believing the disease was sexually transmitted.

Fear and superstition held a firm grip on societal mores. Why were lepers shunned? Was it because of Leviticus? Was it not written the afflicted were unclean? And of course, the inference for causation was sin. Even though the New Testament states, Jesus healed lepers while forgiving sins, mankind was not as forgiving.

Leviticus states lepers are unclean and sinful. The afflicted were shunned, forced to live in caves during Biblical times, and in colonies as the centuries passed. Laws were enacted to protect the population. Lepers lost their rights. They were declared legally dead, forced to participate in a ritual where they stood in an open grave as the damming words were read. They became the living dead. Their property was confiscated; all their wealth went into governmental coffers. They were denied entry to places inhabited by healthy people.

Leper houses and asylums became prominent throughout all of Christendom in the Middle Ages. If not confined, the lepers had to follow harsh rules. They had to wear special clothing and play a wooden clapper, later a bell, to warn of their approach. They also had to take vows listed in the Mass of Separation. And yes, rich lepers fared better than poor ones.

It is hard to visualize a beloved family member being treated with disdain, ostracized by the community, and forced to live a life of misery, begging for alms, bereft of hope. Can you imagine yourself having to ring a bell as you approached the local mall, warning people of your imminent arrival? You probably wouldn’t have made it out of the parking lot before the Police arrived.

Grant it, catching a disease was very scary throughout time. We still shy away from people infected with some respiratory disease, sending sick workers home. How many times have you heard “I’m not contagious” when greeting someone who has a runny nose and coughs a lot? And remember how patients with AIDS were treated when the disease was first diagnosed? Fear and ignorance reigned, just like it did when lepers walked the countryside in days of old. At least, today, we are fortunate to have science to explain the unexplainable. We have the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While we are much better off than our forebearers, we still have a long way to go to eradicate the fear and educate the ignorant.

Hawaii’s leper colony is located at Kalaupapa, on the island of Molokai. It housed thousands of infected people since its inception in 1866. The statement by Makia Malo is a stark reminder of society’s failure to embrace the truth.

Kalaupapa leper colony in 1905 Wikipedia.

In 2003, patient Makia Malo said to the Associated Press, “One of the worst things about having had this disease is that even after you're cured, society will not let you heal because of the 'L' word. People don't know how hurtful and wrong that term is.”

The word leper is synonymous with outcast and is offensive to modern-day sufferers of the disease. While using the medical term, Hansen’s disease, is preferable, an acceptable alternative is stating the person has leprosy.

Leprosy is a curable disease today, but there are still people being crippled by this wretched pestilence. India, Brazil, and Indonesia have the highest rate of infection.

Distribution of leprosy around the world Wellcome— Wikipedia.

World Leprosy Day is observed on the last Sunday in January.

Crusader’s Path
By Mary Ann Bernal

From the sweeping hills of Argences to the port city of Cologne overlooking the River Rhine, Etienne and Avielle find themselves drawn by the need for redemption against the backdrop of the First Crusade.

Heeding the call of His Holiness, Urban II, to free the Holy Land from the infidel, Etienne follows Duke Robert of Normandy across the treacherous miles, braving sweltering heat and snow-covered mountain passes while en route to the Byzantine Empire.

Moved by Peter of Amiens’ charismatic rhetoric in the streets of the Holy Roman Empire, Avielle joins the humble army of pilgrims. Upon arrival in Mentz, the peasant Crusaders do the unthinkable, destroying the Jewish Community. Consumed with guilt, Avielle is determined to die fighting for Christ, assuring her place in Heaven.

Etienne and Avielle cross paths in Constantinople, where they commiserate over past misdeeds. A spark becomes a flame, but when Avielle contracts leprosy, Etienne makes a promise to God, offering to take the priest cowl in exchange for ridding Avielle of her affliction.

Will Etienne be true to his word if Avielle is cleansed of the contagion, or will he risk eternal damnation to be with the woman he loves?

Pick up your copy of
Crusader’s Path

Mary Ann Bernal

Mary Ann Bernal attended Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, NY, where she received a degree in Business Administration.  Her literary aspirations were ultimately realized when the first book of The Briton and the Dane novels was published in 2009.  In addition to writing historical fiction, Mary Ann has also authored a collection of contemporary short stories in the Scribbler Tales series. Her latest endeavor is a science fiction/fantasy novel entitled Planetary Wars  Rise of an Empire. Originally hailing from New York, Mary Ann now resides in Elkhorn, Nebraska.

Connect with Mary Ann: Website • Whispering Legends Press • Twitter.

Wednesday 29 April 2020

#BookReview — There is Always a Tomorrow (The Graham Saga, Book #9) by Anna Belfrage #HistoricalFiction #TimeTravel @abelfrageauthor

There is Always a Tomorrow
(The Graham Saga, Book #9)
By Anna Belfrage

It is 1692 and the Colony of Maryland is still adapting to the consequences of Coode’s Rebellion some years previously. Religious tolerance in the colony is now a thing of the past, but safe in their home, Alex and Matthew Graham have no reason to suspect they will become embroiled in the ongoing religious conflicts—until one of their sons betrays their friend Carlos Muñoz to the authorities.

Matthew Graham does not leave his friends to rot—not even if they’re papist priests—so soon enough most of the Graham family is involved in a rescue attempt, desperate to save Carlos from a sentence that may well kill him.

Meanwhile, in London little Rachel is going through hell. In a matter of months she loses everything, even her surname, as apparently her father is not Master Cooke but one Jacob Graham. Not that her paternity matters when her entire life implodes.

Will Alex and Matthew be able to help their unknown grandchild? More importantly, will Rachel want their help?

“I did as I had to do,” Daniel said, straightening up to his full, rather impressive, height. The only one of their sons who overtopped his father by an inch or so, Daniel Graham was a good-looking man, bright blue eyes contrasting with his dark hair.

“I guess that’s what Pilate said as well,” Alex retorted.

Matthew Graham had sent his son away to learn to be a man of God, but he would never have thought that the same son would be instrumental in another man’s suffering — a friend’s suffering.

Like Jesus, Carlos Muñoz prayed for a merciful death, but with a corrupt magistrate proceeding over the trial, Carlos fears for the worst. The only way he can survive such torment is if his friends take the law into their own hands…

From a desperate rescue to save a man’s life to the longed-for homecoming of a prodigal son, There is Always a Tomorrow (The Graham Saga, Book #9) by Anna Belfrage is the dramatic conclusion of a story of one woman who fell through time and found herself in the 17th Century.

I have been enchanted with The Graham Saga from the opening chapter of A Rip in the Veil (The Graham Saga, Book #1) to the end of that very final full stop in There is Always a Tomorrow (The Graham Saga, Book #9). Absorbing, heart-warming and utterly captivating, Belfrage has captured the very essence of this period — from the evocative depiction of Scotland, the bustling back-alleys of London, the seemingly tranquil streets of Seville, Spain, the horrors of slavery in the West Indies, to the majestically beautiful Colony of Maryland. With such a large and wonderful canvas, which history tells us was ripe with volatile political instability and religious ideology, Belfrage has crafted a series that is as absorbing as it is compelling. This is a series that bewitches, and as it is a time-travel adventure there really is something for everyone. It is a series bursting with swoon-worthy romance, war, religious persecution, witch trials, hate, love, survival, and on top of this it is also a sprawling family sage that entwines two very different centuries over three very turbulent decades.

I was both looking forward to and dreading reading There is Always a Tomorrow (The Graham Saga, Book #9). I was looking forward to it because I have cherished every book in this series, and I could not wait to find out what would happen next. I was dreading it because book #9 is the very last book, and I did not want this story to end. I held my breath with trepidation as I picked up this novel and allowed myself to be swept back to the 17th century. There is Always a Tomorrow is perhaps the darkest book in The Graham Saga. There are scenes in this story that are incredibly distressing. One of the characters endures the most horrific abuse, and the consequences of such abuse are dreadful for everyone who tries to help the abused. There are also moments of intolerance, cruelty and revenge. Belfrage reminds us that to glorify the past is to give a false sense of time and place. This was a brutally unforgiving era, and life was hard. It is a very sobering account of what life was like in the 17th century. But, it is also a story of hope, putting aside past grievances and coming together for the greater good. This is a story about one family and their tenacious determination to stay together even if they are spread out all over the world.

What a journey the protagonists have taken us on. Alex and Matthew Graham — a love story centuries in the making. The trials and tribulations these two beloved characters have to go through had me reaching for the tissues on more than one occasion. This time I came prepared with a box of tissues close at hand before I even started reading! It was a wise decision. With old age creeping rapidly upon them, Alex and Matthew have seen it all. They have buried loved ones. They have watched the world around them change and develop, not always for the better. Alex, having travelled through time, also has the terrible burden of hindsight, which at times is heart-rendering. I adored Alex from the moment she was first introduced. She is this strong, feisty woman, but she also has this overflowing ability to love, and it is her love that binds her family together. It was an absolute pleasure spending so many hours in her company. Matthew, on the other hand... I will admit, at times he was infuriating, especially in the early years of their marriage, but he is also devoted to Alex and his family. He is a man with a time-travelling wife whose ideas and theories, backed up by science, are so different from his god-fearing upbringing. Matthew is a character whom I grew to love. His depiction was fabulously drawn, and his devotion to his wife and his strength of character brings so much to this tale. Bravo, Ms Belfrage.

This is the novel where I found myself rather disconcertingly thinking “Go, Luke” — the antagonist became a protagonist, I never saw that coming! Luke is a character that I despised right up until Book #8 when he began to try and make amends for the damage and heartache he has caused. He is still not the kind of person you want as an enemy, but old age has given him a certain amount of wisdom, and he is very protective of those whom he loves. In this novel, Luke becomes someone who you would perhaps now acknowledged if you were to meet him in the street, rather than crossing the road and hoping he did not notice you! I thought Belfrage’s depiction of Luke throughout this series was superb. He is a villain, a murderer, but he is also compassionate and fiercely loyal. An anti-hero who one really should hate, but I just could not find it in myself to hate this character anymore. Dare I say, by the end of this novel, I almost liked him.

The Grahams are an extensive extended family, and each character has had a part to play in this tale. Characters such as Ian captured my heart when they were first introduced, and others, like Michael Conner and Julian Allerton, became characters whom I grew to respect. But of all the secondary characters in this series, it is Matthew and Alex’s son, Samuel, “White Bear” who I loved the most. Samuel is one of the most conflicted characters in this series, more so even than his time-travelling half-brother, Isaac, who at least knew where he wanted to be. Caught between his adoptive Indian family and his parents, Samuel struggles to find a place for himself in two vastly different worlds. His choices have terrible consequences for his family, and he so desperately wants to please everyone but, in the end, he realises that such a thing is impossible. Samuel sealed the deal on this series for me, and he really comes into his own in this book. I thought his depiction was truly amazing, and he is a character that would be impossible to forget.

It was with a strange sense of heartache that I found myself turning the last page, but then I realised that this was not where the story ended, it was where the book did, and in my mind, I can still see all of these characters going about their everyday lives. And as the years go by and generation after generation of the Grahams live and die, one cannot help but wonder about that muggy August day in three hundred years time, when the past and future will collide, and Alex Lind will be once again thrown through a rip in the veil.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.

Pick up your copy of
There is Always a Tomorrow

Anna Belfrage

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.  She has recently released the first in a new series, The Wanderer. This time, she steps out of her normal historical context and A Torch in His Heart is with a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense with paranormal and time-slip ingredients.

Find out more about Anna by visiting her website, or her Amazon page.