Tuesday 31 August 2021

Read an #excerpt from Malve von Hassell's fabulous book - THE AMBER CRANE @MvonHassell

By Malve von Hassell

Publication Date: 25th June 2021
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Page Length: 268 Pages
Genre: Time-slip Historical Fiction / Young Adult

Chafing at the rules of the amber guild, Peter, an apprentice during the waning years of the Thirty Years’ War, finds and keeps a forbidden piece of amber, despite the risk of severe penalties should his secret be discovered.

Little does he know that this amber has hidden powers, transporting him into a future far beyond anything he could imagine. In dreamlike encounters, Peter witnesses the ravages of the final months of World War II in and around his home. He becomes embroiled in the troubles faced by Lioba, a girl he meets who seeks to escape from the oncoming Russian army.

Peter struggles with the consequences of his actions, endangering his family, his amber master’s reputation, and his own future. How much is Peter prepared to sacrifice to right his wrongs?

Chapter 2: Shadows

Rat-a-tat, rat-a-tat. Sharp rapid bangs in the distance. Peter raises his head. He must have fallen asleep. 

Another rat-a-tat, closer this time. Cannons? Not like any cannons he has ever heard. Have the imperialists returned to take over Stolp? 

Peter blinks in disbelief. The beach is gone. The ocean is gone. He sits in a ditch, water seeping into his shoes. Next to him, the stinking bloated carcass of a horse. He flinches and tries to shift away. It is as if he is stuck. Unable to move, he peers over the top of the ditch at a hayfield. 

This field and the gently rolling hills in the distance covered with dense stands of trees do not look anything like the land around Stolpmünde.

Where is he? What’s happening to him? His mouth is dry. The hayfield appears unkempt. Someone apparently began with the harvest and then abandoned the work, having finished just a small area and leaving behind piles of hay and a mess of stubble and dust. At least that’s familiar. All the villages around Stolpmünde suffered over the last years. Swedish and Imperialist troops took turns pillaging, burning, and looting over and over again. Many fields have the same look of neglect as this one.

Peter rubs his eyes. Everything is flat, as if taken out of the pages of a book—a world leached of all color, leaving behind just shades of black and grey.

Another rat-a-tat. A humming sound far above in the sky makes him glance up, squinting to avoid the last rays of the setting sun. Light-headed and dizzy, Peter stares at something monstrous and utterly impossible—huge, bird-like shapes, with snub noses and blades whirring in front that streak across the horizon and disappear behind a bank of clouds. 

Shaken, Peter turns and gazes over the top of the embankment on the other side. People walk in a steady stream along a road. Old people, women, children grabbing on to their mother’s skirts. Heads bowed. Silent. They pass a large metal box with wheels, with doors left open. Nobody glances at it. Horse-drawn wagons with tent-like covers. Horses coated with mud, heads bent, hooves dragging. Bundles, bags, boxes held together with rope, a few handheld carts. 

A young man with a dark cap, long baggy breeches, a jacket too big on his slender frame, and a bag slung over his shoulder walks next to a horse-drawn cart. With one hand, he keeps pushing a bulging sack in place as the vehicle wobbles precariously in the rutted street. A woman sits on top, the reins in one hand, the other gripping a small child on her lap, two children next to her, their faces blank. When the young man passes, he briefly turns his head in Peter’s direction, glancing at him with large light-colored eyes. Then he walks on. 

Another rapid rat-a-tat in the distance. Peter feels himself slide into the ditch. 

Malve von Hassell is a freelance writer, researcher, and translator. She holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the New School for Social Research. Working as an independent scholar, she published The Struggle for Eden: Community Gardens in New York City (Bergin & Garvey 2002) and Homesteading in New York City 1978-1993: The Divided Heart of Loisaida (Bergin & Garvey 1996). She has also edited her grandfather Ulrich von Hassell's memoirs written in prison in 1944, Der Kreis schließt sich - Aufzeichnungen aus der Haft 1944 (Propylaen Verlag 1994). She has taught at Queens College, Baruch College, Pace University, and Suffolk County Community College, while continuing her work as a translator and writer. She has self-published two children’s picture books, Letters from the Tooth Fairy (2012/2020) and Turtle Crossing (2021), and her translation and annotation of a German children’s classic by Tamara Ramsay, Rennefarre: Dott’s Wonderful Travels and Adventures (Two Harbors Press, 2012). The Falconer’s Apprentice (namelos, 2015) was her first historical fiction novel for young adults. She has published Alina: A Song for the Telling (BHC Press, 2020), set in Jerusalem in the time of the crusades, and The Amber Crane (Odyssey Books, 2021), set in Germany in 1645 and 1945. She has completed a biographical work about a woman coming of age in Nazi Germany and is working on a historical fiction trilogy featuring Adela of Normandy.

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Monday 30 August 2021

Blog Tour: The Book Boyfriend by Jeanna Louise Skinner @jeannalstars @UKRomChat

Join The Coffee Pot Book Club on tour with…

The Book Boyfriend
By Jeanna Louise Skinner

October 25th – October 29th 2021

Publication Date: 27th October 2021
Publisher: Violet Gaze Press/Saga Egmont
Page Length: 340 Pages
Genre: Paranormal/Time-Travel Romance

"Let us find solace in the quiet…"

Emmeline always dreamed of being an author, finding comfort in words and between the pages of her beloved romance novels, but a mental health diagnosis leaves her blocked and unable to write. Then she inherits a crumbling, second-hand bookshop from a mysterious old friend and Emmy discovers that magic is real and maybe her fantasies about the heroes in her favourite historical romances aren't so far-fetched after all.

A handsome stranger–wielding a sword as dangerous as his Tudor past–appears in Emmy's bookshop asking for help. Together they must race against time itself to lift the curse imprisoning him in an ancient book. But when growing threats to her safety are proved real and not another symptom of her illness, Emmy must learn to trust her own voice again. Can she find the words to save Jonathan and her shop before tragedy strikes on the fateful final page? 

Romance-addict Emmy may be, but this damsel is about to kick distress into the Ever After.

Jeanna Louise Skinner

Jeanna Louise Skinner writes romance with a sprinkling of magic. The Book Boyfriend is her debut novel and she is currently working on a prequel. She has ADHD and CRPS, a rare neuro-inflammatory disorder, and she is passionate about writing about people underrepresented in Romance, especially those with disabilities and chronic health conditions. She’s also the co-creator of UKRomChat, a much-lauded, Romance-centric live Twitter chat. She lives in Devon with her husband, their two children and a cat who sounds like a goat. 

Read an #excerpt from Clement: The Green Ship (Clement, Book 2) by Craig R. Hipkins @CraigHipkins

Clement: The Green Ship
By Craig R. Hipkins

Publication Date: June 02, 2021
Publisher: Hipkins Twins
Page Length: 313
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Young Adult 12+

Normandy. The year 1161. King Henry ll sends the 14-year-old Clement, Count of la Haye on a secret mission. The young count and his friends travel in the wake of the mysterious mariner known as Sir Humphrey Rochford. Their destination? The legendary land of Vinland, known only from the Norse sagas. The journey is full of adventure and intrigue. Clement battles with a tyrannical Irish king and then finds his vessel attacked by a massive monster from the deep. The Green Ship sails to the sparse and barren land of Greenland where more trouble awaits.

The herald signaled for the games to begin by blowing through his horn from the turret of the west tower of the castle. A total of fifteen archers gathered in the butts examining their targets to ensure fair play. Each archer was to have an assistant to help handing the shooter arrows and retrieving them from the targets. Clement, of course, chose Olaf. The archers would shoot ten arrows at a target thirty yards away. The top four shooters would then square off in a second round at forty yards and then the top two would compete for champion at the distance of fifty yards. The archers were to shoot by rank. The favorite was to shoot first and the least favorite was to shoot last. Claude of York was by far the favorite archer in the group, followed by O’Sullivan, the Rector of Cork. Tieg, known for his skills was third in the betting odds. Clement, count de la Haye, as an unknown, was dead last. Hundreds of spectators lined the perimeter of the field drinking mead and nibbling on quail and slices of pork. Around the elevated platform where Mac Lochlainn sat, banners and colorful flags flapped in the breeze. 

Claude of York leisurely strolled up to the firing line and was handed an arrow by his assistant. He yawned as he let the first one fly. A bullseye dead center in the target. Clement watched him anxiously as he let each one of them fly. After each shot the crowd let out an audible gasp. Ten shots, ten bullseyes. O’Sullivan was next and he performed a similar feat, ten bullseyes. Tieg was next. Unlike the previous two competitors he took his time finding his mark, but each arrow was true. Ten bullseyes. The rest of the shooters had mixed results but each one of them missed the bullseye at least one time. Finally, it was Clement’s turn to shoot. When he strode up to the line, he could hear people murmuring and laughing. Although he was the same age as Tieg, he appeared much younger and as an unknown, he was given little respect or chance. Claude of York and O’Sullivan did not even care to watch him shoot and headed for the platform where they engaged in conversation with Mac Lochlainn. 

“Give the lad a mug full of goats milk!” came a disrespectful taunt from the crowd. 

The audience burst out in laughter. Olaf handed Clement an arrow.

“Do not listen to them sire. Concentrate,” Olaf said, encouragingly.

Clement nodded and glanced over at the platform. He could see O’Sullivan attempting to talk to Dagena and Alice, but their attention was wrapped up in what he was about to do. The crowd was inattentive and boisterous. Some people took this time to begin their intermission to prepare for the second round. It was blatant disrespect. They had already brushed off Clement as if he were a non-factor in the game. Only Tieg was attentive. He stood off to the side watching his adversary carefully. Clement loaded the arrow and took aim. Bullseye, dead center. Suddenly the crowd became deathly still. People’s heads began to turn back towards the butts, or towards the shooter who calmly loaded his second arrow. The second one lodged right up against the first one. The crowd let out an audible gasp. This got the attention of Claude of York and O’Sullivan who turned to see what all the commotion was about. Clement could see Mac Lochlainn whispering something into Padraig O’Kane’s ear. The third arrow landed in the bullseye but to the upper left of the first two arrows. The fourth one in the bullseye to the upper right. The final six arrows formed a semi-circle in the bullseye below the first two. It was Claude of York who first noticed what Clement had done. He turned to Mac Lochlainn who had stood up and casually stepped off the platform onto the shooting field to get a better look at the target. Clement had created a smiley face with the arrows. His unbelievable accomplishment began to spread through the crowd who began cheering with cries of astonishment.


This novel is free to read with #KindleUnlimited subscription.

Craig R. Hipkins grew up in Hubbardston Massachusetts. He is the author of medieval and gothic fiction. His novel, Adalbert is the sequel to Astrolabe written by his late twin brother Jay S. Hipkins (1968-2018)

He is an avid long-distance runner and enjoys astronomy in his spare time.

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Tour Schedule

Thursday 26 August 2021

Blog Tour: 1066 Turned Upside Down @HelenHollick

1066 Turned Upside Down 

By Joanna Courtney, Helen Hollick, Anna Belfrage, Richard Dee, G.K. Holloway, 
Carol McGrath, Alison Morton, Eliza Redgold, Annie Whitehead
With a foreword by C.C. Humphreys

January 3rd – January 7th 2022

Publication Date: 14th September 2021
Publisher: Taw River Press (paperback) Matador/Troubador (e-book)
Page Length: 222 Pages
Genre: Alternative History

Have you ever wondered what might have happened if William the Conqueror had been beaten at Hastings in 1066? Or if Harald Hardrada had won at Stamford Bridge? Or if Edward the Confessor had died with an heir ready to take his crown? If so – here is the perfect set of short stories for you.

1066 Turned Upside Down explores a variety of ways in which that momentous year could have played out very differently.

Written by nine well-known authors the stories will take you on a journey through the speculative ‘what ifs?’ of England’s most famous year in history.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CAAmazon AUBarnes & NobleKoboTroubador Books

1066 Turned Upside Down is a collection of eleven alternative history short stories of a ‘what if’ nature imagined by nine well-known successful authors:

JOANNA COURTNEY Ever since Joanna sat up in her cot with a book, she’d wanted to be a writer and cut her publication teeth on short stories and serials for the women’s magazines before signing to PanMacmillan in 2014 for her three-book series The Queens of the Conquest about the wives of the men fighting to be King of England in 1066. Her second series, written for Piatkus is Shakespeare’s Queens exploring the real history of three of the bard’s greatest female characters – Lady Macbeth, Ophelia and Cordelia.

Joanna’s fascination with historical writing is in finding the similarities between us and them –with an especial goal to provide a female take on some of the greatest stories we think we know. www.joannacourtney.com

ALISON MORTON writes the award-winning alternative fiction Roma Nova thriller series featuring tough, but compassionate heroines. She blends her deep love of Roman history with six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, historical, adventure and thriller fiction. A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, she started wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women. She has recently branched out into a contemporary crime setting with Double Identity, the first of a planned series. 


ANNA BELFRAGE Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, 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 set in 14th century England. Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients. His Castilian Hawk - returning to medieval times and her most recent release, The Whirlpools of Time, a time travel romance set against the backdrop of brewing rebellion in the Scottish highlands. Anna has won several awards including various Gold, Silver and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards. www.annabelfrage.com

ANNIE WHITEHEAD is an historian and prize-winning author. Her main interest in history is the period formerly known as the ‘Dark Ages’. Her first novel, To Be A Queen, is the story of Aethelflaed (daughter of Alfred the Great), who came to be known as the Lady of the Mercians. Alvar the Kingmaker, tells the story of Aelfhere of Mercia, a nobleman in the time of King Edgar. Cometh the Hour goes further back in time to the seventh century, to tell the story of Penda, the last pagan king of Mercia. Annie has twice been a prizewinner in the Mail on Sunday Novel Writing competition, she won first prize for nonfiction in the new Writing Magazine Poetry and Prose competition, and was the inaugural winner of the HWA (Historical Writers’ Association)/Dorothy Dunnett Society Short Story Competition and is now a judge for that same competition.

Annie has had two nonfiction books published. Mercia: The Rise and Fall of a Kingdom (Amberley Books) has been an Amazon #1 Bestseller. Women of Power in Anglo-Saxon England was published by Pen & Sword Books in 2020.


CAROL McGRATH is the author of The Daughters of Hastings Trilogy. Her fifth historical novel, The Silken Rose, first in The Rose Trilogy, published by the Headline Group, is set during the High Middle Ages. It features Ailenor of Provence and was published in 2020. The Damask Rose about Eleanor of Castile was published in 2021. The Stone Rose, Isabella of France, follows in 2022. Carol has also written Historical Non-Fiction for Pen & Sword.


ELIZA REDGOLD is an author and ‘romantic academic’. Her bestselling historical fiction includes her Ladies of Legend trilogy, starting with Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva released internationally by St Martin’s Press, New York. Her historical romances are published by Harlequin Historical, London (Harper Collins). They include Playing the Duke’s Mistress, Enticing Benedict Cole, The Scandalous Suffragette and The Master’s New Governess. They have been translated into multiple languages including Italian, Polish, Czech, Danish and Swedish, and are available internationally.


G.K. HOLLOWAY After graduating from Coventry University with an honours degree in history and politics, he worked in education in and around Bristol, England, where he now lives. After reading a biography about Harold Godwinson, he studied the late Anglo-Saxon era in detail. When he had enough material to weave together facts and fiction he produced his novel. 1066 What Fates Impose, a story of family feuds, court intrigues, assassinations, plotting and scheming, loyalty and love, all ingredients in an epic struggle for the English crown. www.gkholloway.co.uk

HELEN HOLLICK moved from London in 2013 and now lives on a thirteen-acre farm in North Devon, England. Born in London, Helen wrote pony stories as a teenager, moved to science fiction and fantasy, and then discovered the wonder of historical fiction. Published since 1994 with her Arthurian Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy, followed by her 1066 era duo. She became a USA Today bestseller with her story of Queen Emma: The Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK), and its companion novel, Harold the King (titled I Am the Chosen King in the U.S.A). She also writes the Sea Witch Voyages, a series of pirate-based nautical adventures with a touch of fantasy. Commissioned by Amberley Press she wrote a non-fiction book about pirates in fact, fantasy and fiction and a non-fiction book about smugglers, published by Pen and Sword.

Recently she has ventured into the ‘Cosy Mystery’ genre with her Jan Christopher Mysteries, the first of which is A Mirror Murder. She runs Discovering Diamonds, an independent online review site for Historical Fiction, primarily aimed at showcasing Indie writers.

She occasionally gets time to write. www.helenhollick.net

RICHARD DEE was a Master Mariner and ship’s pilot, now living in Brixham, South Devon.  His novels include Science Fiction and Steampunk adventures,  as well as the exploits of Andorra Pett, a reluctant amateur detective. www.richarddeescifi.co.uk

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Tour Schedule

January 3rd

Wendy J. Dunn’s Official Blog

Viviana MacKade’s Official Blog

The Coffee Pot Book Club

January 4th

MJ Porter’s Official Blog

Let Your Words Shine…

The Whispering Bookworm

January 5th

Elizabeth St.John’s Official Blog

When Angels Fly

CelticLady’s Reviews

January 6th

Deborah Swift’s Official Blog

The Historical Fiction Blog

Judith Arnopp’s Official Blog


January 7th

Ruins & Reading

B for Bookreview

A Thousand Suns

Shadows of the Past

Read an #excerpt from Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger upcoming #NewRelease - The Woman at the Gates @ckalyna

The Woman at the Gates
By Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

Publication Date: 2nd September 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Page Length: 343 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, WW2

“For as long as Antonia could remember, there had been sliding panels and secret doors to discover in her Ukrainian village, and the music of their defiance had sustained her.”

 1944, Germany: Gazing through the barbed wire fence, up at the pale blue sky, Antonia dreams of her home in Ukraine: cherry orchards, golden fields, and the man she loves, whom she may never see again…

 The Nazi soldier thrust the barrel of his gun between Antonia’s shoulder blades and she stumbled, still clutching the hand of her youngest nephew. Her sister lifted her other little boy into the back of the truck. Under the threatening gaze of the Germans, Antonia met her sister’s dark and fearful expression then looked back at the village one last time before the flap dropped and locked them all in total darkness.

 Before Antonia and her family were captured and sent to a slave labor camp, she was a fighter rather than a victim. Her resistance group—made up of the young men and women she’d grown up with—risked everything to free their country from those who had turned it into a bloody battleground. By her side was clever, handsome Viktor—the man she was to marry, and whose love shone like a light even when dark and violent conflicts engulfed them.

 Antonia does not know if her beloved Viktor has been caught or executed. There are rumors the war is coming to an end. But she cannot wait to be saved. Her precious nephews will die without proper food. The Nazis need every able slave to push back the Red Tide, but Antonia also knows she or the others could be killed for any reason, at any moment.

 Outside the gates lies salvation and Antonia must find a way through them, even if means putting her own life at risk. The Nazis may have taken nearly everything from her - her country, her dreams, her passions - but they will never take away her fierce courage…

Inspired by the author's research into her family's histories, The Woman at the Gates is a heartbreaking, inspiring and unforgettable epic of the faith, courage and determination shown by those who survived the darkest days of the war. Fans of Mandy Robotham, Kate Quinn and Pam Jenoff will be gripped from the very first page until the final, heart-stopping conclusion. 


Summer 1945

Castle Neubeuern, Bavaria

It was Konstantin who evoked the memory of apricots, a memory so strong the air suddenly bloomed with the golden, sun-warmed scent. Antonia pulled her nephew closer to her, like a cushion against the impact, and dropped the children’s picture book flat onto her lap. She remembered the carelessness of that sweet, perfumed juice running down her chin. The feel of her lover’s finger catching that drop and putting it to her lips. And she remembered the apricots that had sustained her sister’s family on a horrible journey into darkness.

Antonia impatiently rubbed at the sting of tears. With all that she had endured, with all that they had survived, she was going to cry over apricots? The memory of apricots?

No, the memory of that apricot orchard. Her home. Her life. Him.

Antonia’s nephew pushed himself away, the metal bed frame squeaking as he shifted. “And cherries,” he added. “I miss apricots and I miss cherries.”

On Antonia’s other side, Nestor yawned. He was still too young to remember apricots from Ukraine, or the tart summer cherries for that matter. Nestor was too young to read, but his finger moved along the pages of the German picture book titled Unser Bauernhof—Our Farm. Except it wasn’t their farm. Their farm was in the Carpathian lowlands, in the village of Sadovyi Hai. Here, beyond the lead-pane windows of the castle attic, it was the Bavarian hillsides that Antonia looked upon.

Nestor pointed to the word for cherry tree in German.

Kirschbaum,” Konstantin read.

Kirschbaum,” Nestor repeated, then went back to the small orange circles on the initial illustration. “Marillenbaum.

To prevent herself from succumbing to a second gut punch, Antonia pressed Nestor to her. “And you? What is it that you miss?”

As soon as it was out of her mouth, she covered his ears and kissed his head. Nestor’s only memories would be the scratchy, dark and noisy ones of war. He’d known nothing else.

Outside the dormitory rooms, the wooden floorboards creaked from the staircase to the corridor as if they were on a ship. The others—displaced persons, as the Allied forces designated them—were heading up from the dining room. Some had spent the evening playing cards, or the old guitar from the music room. Others had sat in the castle gardens and listened to the crickets, thanking God they had survived. Or, more likely, wondering why they had. The children were being children. Instead of parents covering their mouths to hush them against discovery, or to prevent a beating, or capture by Nazis or Soviets, these children and their parents now loudly negotiated the brushing of teeth. Tomorrow, they would live to see another day, and that was why they pursued the frivolity with such passion.

As the boys fought to turn the next page of the picture book, Antonia tuned into the symphony of Eastern European languages. Polish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Czech, Russian and Ukrainian all intermixed in this old castle in Bavaria—just a short drive to Berchtesgaden; a short drive to Hitler’s bunker—now secured by American troops.

Antonia coughed and the boys gave her room, but the irritation quickly passed. Out of habit, she ran a finger beneath the thin, cream-colored scarf wrapped around her neck, and half-consciously checked the size of the growth at the base of her throat. Before she could assess it further, someone knocked on the door and Lena appeared.

“Mama,” Nestor called to his mother. “Aunt Antonia is reading to us.”

Lena did not seem to hear. She raised her hand, revealing an envelope. But it was the expression on Lena’s face that made Antonia close the book in her lap.

As her sister’s gaze locked with hers, Antonia was again whisked back to Sadovyi Hai. They were back in their village orchards, back to the first days in the secret underground organization. Lena’s and her first fight but not their last battle. In the time it took Lena to close the space between the doorway and the bed, Antonia relived the torture in the Soviet secret police interrogation room and the terror of being captured by the SS. Lena’s eyes reflected the value of unconditional love. Forgiveness. And freedom’s heavy toll. Antonia’s heart clenched at the fear of breaking again.

Lena knelt by the side of the bed, as she did when she said her prayers, then extended the envelope, but Antonia had already seen the Red Cross emblem. She already understood that one of their men had finally been found.


Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger grew up in the culturally rich neighborhood of “Nordeast” Minneapolis, Minnesota to Ukrainian immigrant parents. Though she was a first-generation American, it was not until she landed in Austria during a research holiday that she felt truly at home. That move propelled her on a journey of many discoveries and serendipitous connections.

An award-winning author of now ten historical novels, Lucyk-Berger writes the “institutionalized” stories; stories about men and women who face off against external forces—be it industrialists stealing land, oppressive regimes, or wars, her settings will take you beneath the strata of history and introduce you to the underdogs who fought for justice. 

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