Showing posts with label History Related. Show all posts
Showing posts with label History Related. Show all posts

12 May 2021

[Audio Blog Tour] 'The Assassins' By Alan Bardos (Audiobook Narrated By Jack Bennett) #HistoricalFiction #Thriller

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[Audio Blog Tour] 'The Assassins' By Alan Bardos (Audiobook Narrated By Jack Bennett) #HistoricalFiction #Thriller
'The Assassins' - Audio Blog Tour Banner

The Book:

'The Assassins' 
By Alan Bardos
Audiobook narrated by Jack Bennett
  • Series: Johnny Swift Thrillers
  • Publication Date: (current edition) 15th February 2021
  • Publisher: Sharpe Books
  • Page Length: 376 Pages
  • Genre: Historical Thriller

The Blurb:

1914.

Tensions are reaching boiling point in Europe and the threat of war is imminent.

Johnny Swift, a young and brash diplomatic clerk employed by the British embassy is sent to infiltrate the ‘Young Bosnians’, a group of idealistic conspirators planning to murder Franz Ferdinand. The heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, in a bid to liberate their country from the monarchy’s grip.

Swift has been having an affair with his employer’s wife, Lady Elizabeth Smyth. Sir George Smyth dispatches the agent on the dangerous mission, believing that it will be the last he will see of his young rival.

The agent manages to infiltrate the Young Bosnian conspirators’ cell, helped by Lazlo Breitner, a Hungarian Civil Servant.

However, Swift soon realises that he may be in over his head. His gambling debts and taste for beautiful women prove the least of his problems as he struggles to survive on his wits in the increasingly complex - and perilous - world of politics and espionage.

Desperate to advance himself and with the lives of a royal couple unexpectedly in his hands, Swift tries to avert catastrophe.
[Audio Blog Tour] 'The Assassins' By Alan Bardos (Audiobook Narrated By Jack Bennett) #HistoricalFiction #Thriller
'The Assassins' By Alan Bardos - Front Cover

Praise for 'Assassins':

A cracking read, highly recommended’ - Roger A Price
Written with polished panache, it kept me gripped from the first to last. Five stars from me!’ - A.A. Chaudhuri
Part historical fiction, part thriller and part love story, this is a compelling and entertaining read’ - Gary Haynes
Buy Links: Amazon UK ✔  Amazon US 
 ✔ 
  • This book is available to read for free with #KindleUnlimited subscription.

Audiobook Excerpt:


Audiobook Buy Links: 
US Audible ✔ UK Audible ✔ US Amazon ✔ UK Amazon 

[Audio Blog Tour] 'The Assassins' By Alan Bardos (Audiobook Narrated By Jack Bennett) #HistoricalFiction #Thriller
Alan Bardos

Author Bio:

Alan Bardos is a graduate of the MA in TV Script Writing at De Montfort University, he also has a degree in Politics and History from Brunel University. Writing historical fiction combines the first great love of his life, making up stories, with the second, researching historical events and characters. Alan currently lives in Oxfordshire with his wife… the other great love of his life.

Despite the amount of material that has been written about the twentieth century there is still a great deal of mystery and debate surrounding many of its events, which Alan explores in his historical fiction series using a certain amount of artistic license to fill in the gaps, while remaining historically accurate. The series will chronicle the first half of the twentieth century from the perspective of Johnny Swift, a disgraced and degenerate diplomat and soldier; starting with the pivotal event of the twentieth century, the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, in ‘The Assassins’.

Connect with Alan Bardos:

The Assassins Tour Schedule Banner
'The Assassins' - Tour Schedule Banner

7 May 2021

[Blog Tour] 'The Queen's Rival' By Anne O'Brien #HistoricalFiction #Medieval

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[Blog Tour] 'The Queen's Rival' By Anne O'Brien #HistoricalFiction #Medieval
 'The Queen's Rival' - Tour Banner

The Book:

The Queen's Rival
By Anne O'Brien
  • Publication Date: 15th April 2021(paperback) September 2020 (Hardback and ebook)
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • Page Length: 531 pages
  • Genre: Historical Fiction

The Blurb:

England, 1459.

One family united by blood. Torn apart by war…

The Wars of the Roses storm through the country, and Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, plots to topple the weak-minded King Henry VI from the throne.

But when the Yorkists are defeated at the battle of Ludford Bridge, Cecily’s family flee and abandon her to face a marauding Lancastrian army on her own.

Stripped of her lands and imprisoned in Tonbridge Castle, the Duchess begins to spin a web of deceit. One that will eventually lead to treason, to the fall of King Henry VI, and to her eldest son being crowned King Edward IV.

Buy Links: 

Amazon UK ✔ Amazon US ✔ Amazon CA   Amazon AU  
Barnes and Noble  Waterstones  Kobo ✔ Audio  Blackwells ✔ WHSmith  

'The Queen's Rival' - Front Cover

'The Queen's Rival' - Excerpt:

Duchess Cecily takes the King to task in Reading Abbey, September 1464

Edward, King of England, stood before me.

‘Where is she?’

‘Who?’

‘Do not be obtuse, Edward.’

I could not address him as Ned. There was no maternal affection within me.

His eyes widened with just the hint of the temper that he rarely showed to me.

‘You refer to my wife, Madam.’

A little silence fell, broken only by a squawk from the popinjay that had been consigned to the corner of the room. I ignored the wine poured and presented to me. Rejected the delicacy of fried fig pastries he had ordered to sweeten my mood. There would be no sweetening here.

‘What have you done, Edward? What in God’s name have you done?’

Replacing the cup on the salver, my son stood foursquare before me. He had known that he would have to face this conversation with me. They said that he was charismatic in his treatment of women. There was no doubting it. His smile could have melted winter ice.

‘I have entered into a marriage. Was that not what you had been commanding me to do since the day that I became King?’

The truth of this stirred my anger to a new level of heat.

‘I am finding it difficult to choose my words. You have married a commoner, a woman of no connection, a woman already wed, with a family of her own, and so defiled. A Queen of England should be a spotless virgin, not a widow. I can barely believe the truth of it, that you should have embarked on so misguided a policy.’

‘I regret that you are so dismissive of my choice of wife.’ How smooth he was. How adult. I remembered that he was now two and twenty years old. ‘Not one word to wish us happy. I might have hoped for more.’

At least his smile had waned.

‘Happy is not a concept for a King when entering into matrimony,’ I replied. ‘Did you not think? Did you not stop and consider before you committed the deed? As King of England you had your choice of European women of high birth. Bona of Savoy would have been the perfect match. Your children would be magnificently connected to the best blood of England and France. Here was a chance to tie France into an alliance which would defeat the Lancastrians for ever. Since, without a reply, Edward picked up his own cup and drank, I continued.

‘Instead you have chosen a woman who will give you no advantage, and in so doing you have antagonised Warwick, humiliated King Louis, horrified your Council. And if that were not enough you have angered the bedrock of your Yorkist followers whose blood has been spilt in our cause on the battlefield. They think that you have betrayed them by this marriage. Surely I and your father raised you to see the value of making and keeping friends in political circles. You have destroyed so much goodwill. It will serve you badly if King Louis, feeling thwarted by your inexplicable volte-face, promptly gives his support to Queen Marguerite and furnishes her with French troops to win the throne back for her son. We could have a French army landing on our shores within months, and it will be entirely your own fault.’

Which at last prompted my son into some level of response.

‘You take no account of the reason why I asked that she would wed me. It is very clear to anyone who knows me well, and who knows the lady. I fell in love. I wed her because I did not wish to live without her.’

His features were alight with it. I would not be persuaded.

‘Love! It is an embarrassment.’

And there again was the flash of temper in his eyes as they held mine without any sense of regret.

‘I love her! Did I not appreciate the problems surrounding this marriage? I am neither ignorant or naive, but the moment I set eyes on Mistress Grey, my heart was hers, as hers was mine. I wed her because I wished to spend my life with her. I know that she will be an unimpeachable Queen.’

His confidence was disquieting. 'You say that you are not naive. This marriage was the opportunity to make that one single irrevocable alliance with a European power through the hand of a foreign Princess. Instead you have thrown it away on a family of little renown. Rivers, a man of meagre nobility. Jacquetta, it is true, the daughter of some distant branch of the family of Luxembourg, but it does not make amends for Woodville’s less than glorious birth.’

‘I care not.’

‘You should care. A King, particularly a new King with a kingdom to take in hand, should wed a virgin, a woman of pure reputation. It is not acceptable for you to wed a widow.’

My son’s face was wiped clean of any expression, but he was not lost for words.

‘It’s always an education to hear your views of my character, Madam.’ Edward, opening the door for me to depart, bowed with a perfect degree of respect, denied by his closing words.

‘I hope you will change your mind. In the interest of harmony in my household. If you will not, then I fear that you will be the loser.’

Before the door closed behind me, all I heard was the popinjay’s shriek, startled by some reaction from within the room. Edward laughed. The popinjay had more effect on him than I.

All was clear, like iron nails hammered into a coffin. Elizabeth Woodville would be Queen of England. I had been supplanted by a woman for whom I had no respect.

At some point I would have to meet her.

What a game that would be to play out. Queen versus King’s Mother.
Anne O'Brien

Author Bio:

Sunday Times Bestselling author Anne O’Brien was born in West Yorkshire. After gaining a BA Honours degree in History at Manchester University and a Master’s in Education at Hull, she lived in East Yorkshire for many years as a teacher of history.

Today she has sold over 700,000 copies of her books medieval history novels in the UK and internationally. She lives with her husband in an eighteenth-century timber-framed cottage in the depths of the Welsh Marches in Herefordshire. The area provides endless inspiration for her novels which breathe life into the forgotten women of medieval history.

Connect with Anne O’Brien:

Website ✔ Twitter  Facebook  LinkedIn  Pinterest  

[Blog Tour] 'The Queen's Rival' By Anne O'Brien #HistoricalFiction #Medieval
'The Queen's Rival' - Tour Schedule Banner

5 May 2021

#BlackTransPrayerBook - Black Trans Artists Say This Film Will End Anti-Trans Violence

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#BlackTransPrayerBook - Black Trans Artists Say This Film Will End Anti-Trans Violence
Dane Figueroa Edidi (L) J Mase III (R) photo by Michael J. Eckert
Transphobia is rooted in white supremacy. This is what J Mase III & Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi, executive producers of the forthcoming documentary, the Black Trans Prayer Book, continuously remind their audiences. 
At a recent workshop for Syracuse University, the two went through a timeline of ways that Trans & Non-Binary individuals have been targeted in North America since the 1500's. Dane spent some time sharing with the audience a poem for one of her biggest inspirations, Mary Jones, a Black Trans ancestor from the 1800's that lived in New York City; Mase did a call and response piece that moved the virtual room through a legacy of Black & Brown Trans experiences via the lens of a platypus. 

As performers and educators, the two have been skillful at combining a robust stage presence with insightful historical analysis and humor. Having co-edited a book published last year, the Black Trans Prayer Book, they have set their sights on producing their first feature length documentary using this text as a framework.

#BlackTransPrayerBook - Black Trans Artists Say This Film Will End Anti-Trans Violence
'The Black Trans Prayer Book' - The Book (image via theblacktransprayerbook.org)

About 'The Black Trans Prayer Book' - The Book:

The Black Trans Prayer Book is an interfaith, multi-dimensional, artistic and theological work that collects the stories, poems, prayers, meditation, spells, and incantations of Black Trans & Non-Binary people. Often pushed out of Faith spaces and yet still deeply connected to a historical legacy of spiritual essentiality, Black Trans People face unprecedented amounts of spiritual, physical, and psychological violence. The Black Trans Prayer Book is a tool of healing, and affirmation centered on uplifting Black Trans & Non-Binary people and celebrating our place within faith.

What does it mean to have a faith practice that simultaneously challenges white supremacy and transphobia? Where is there a theological framework that centers the most marginalized and creates pathways towards an active spirituality moving alongside social justice? How might a spiritual practice not in tune with these questions cause harm? The #BlackTransPrayerBook, is holding these very questions.
  • Having launched a GoFundMe to call attention to this daring project as well as raise funds for its completion, these two have begun production all while keeping COVID safe. 
When asked what they imagine this film will do, Dane shared she believes it will, "Help build a world free from oppression." While Mase views it as, "the first film of its kind to connect white supremacy to transantagonism, by centering the experiences of Black Trans people."
SOURCE The Black Trans Prayer Book

3 May 2021

[Blog Tour] 'Dawn Empress: A Novel of Imperial Rome' (The Theodosian Women, Book Two) By Faith L. Justice #HistoricalFiction

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[Blog Tour] 'Dawn Empress: A Novel of Imperial Rome' (The Theodosian Women, Book Two) By Faith L. Justice #HistoricalFiction
'Dawn Empress' - Tour Banner

The Book:

Dawn Empress: A Novel of Imperial Rome
(The Theodosian Women, Book Two)
By Faith L. Justice

Audiobook narrated by Kathleen Li
  • Print/ebook Publication Date: 24th May 2020
  • Audiobook Publication date: 19th February 2021
  • Publisher: Raggedy Moon Books
  • Page Length: 354 pages
  • Audio Book Length: 12 hrs 41 min
  • Genre: Biographical Historical Fiction

The Blurb:

As Rome reels under barbarian assaults, a young girl must step up.

After the Emperor’s unexpected death, ambitious men eye the Eastern Roman throne occupied by seven-year-old Theodosius II. His older sister Pulcheria faces a stark choice: she must find allies and take control of the Eastern court or doom the imperial children to a life of obscurity—or worse. Beloved by the people and respected by the Church, Pulcheria forges her own path to power. Can her piety and steely will protect her brother from military assassins, heretic bishops, scheming eunuchs and—most insidious of all—a beautiful, intelligent bride? Or will she lose all in the trying?

Dawn Empress tells the little-known and remarkable story of Pulcheria Augusta, 5th century Empress of Eastern Rome. Her accomplishments rival those of Elizabeth I and Catherine the Great as she sets the stage for the dawn of the Byzantine Empire. Don’t miss this “gripping tale” (Kirkus Reviews); a “deftly written and impressively entertaining historical novel” (Midwest Book Reviews). Historical Novel Reviews calls Dawn Empress an “outstanding novel…highly recommended” and awarded it the coveted Editor’s Choice.

Buy Links:

Print/eBook
Audiobook
[Blog Tour] 'Dawn Empress: A Novel of Imperial Rome' (The Theodosian Women, Book Two) By Faith L. Justice #HistoricalFiction
Dawn Empress - eBook Cover

'Dawn Empress: A Novel of Imperial Rome' - Excerpt:

From Chapter 12

Imperial Palace, February 420

“Brother, you missed the morning audience and the day’s prayers.” Pulcheria’s gaze pinned Theo as he traversed the corridor to his private rooms. The boy emperor had grown into a man during the past five years. Riding, hunting, and sword practice honed his body and gave him an animal grace. He would never be a burly man, but her brother was handsome and healthy.

He turned; a blush crept up his neck to suffuse his face. “My apologies, Sister. Paulinus invited me to spend the day. We rode and dined at his father’s estate.” His eyes took on a wary cast. “I told the Master of Offices. Did he not inform you?”

“Of course.” Little or nothing happened in the palace that she did not know of. When she took over running the household after Antiochus’ retirement, she also took over his network of informants among the servants. As government absorbed her time, over the past couple of years she had turned more and more responsibility for running the palace over to Arcadia. Luckily, her younger sister showed an admirable talent for organizing, and took to the tasks willingly. Pulcheria did not want another eunuch meddling in her life.

She took her brother’s arm as they walked towards his rooms. At their posts, the ever-present guards stared straight ahead. Servants retreated to the walls to stand with downcast eyes as they passed. “I was disappointed you did not see fit to tell me yourself.” She let him squirm during the moments of silence that followed.

His mouth twisted into a sulk. “I never get to leave the palace. I’m emperor and have less freedom than any of my subjects. People attend me constantly. Court ritual and Church obligations mark my hours, night and day.”

“God did not make you emperor to constantly carouse and ignore His business on earth. You were chosen and must fulfill your obligations to empire and Church.” She patted his arm. “But I’m sure God did not intend you to have no recreation to lighten your burden. You are just shy of nineteen. Exercise and pleasant companionship are good for the soul, as well as the body. What did you and Paulinus speak of?”

“Not much. Hunting. Horses.” His voice trailed off.

Pulcheria gave him a sharp look. Theo’s boyhood companions were a constant thorn in her side. Her brother had a true and loyal heart. He lavished honors on the boys and their families. Placitus had taken an important position in Moesia and was thankfully gone from the palace, but Paulinus shadowed Theo still. She suspected Isidorus coached the boy to bend Theo to his will. She could almost feel Anthemius’ son lurking in the shadows. She needed to keep a closer eye on Paulinus.

They arrived at the brass-bound door marking Theo’s suite of private rooms. He dithered, obviously not wanting to invite her in.

She dropped his arm to confront him. “We have important news from Persia. May I come in?”

“What news?”

“Something not to be discussed in the corridors!” She pursed her lips in exasperation. What’s wrong with Theo?

“Fine. Come in.” He opened the door and bowed her in.

His rooms were austere, but not as monastic as her own. The walls of his personal audience chamber sported frescoes of nature and hunting scenes. Niches which normally held statuary contained fragrant pots of flowers grown indoors over the winter. The lavenders teased her with the scent of spring, still a month or two away. Pulcheria passed carved oak chairs sporting purple cushions with gold tassels but chose to sit on a bench devoid of padding.

Inside, Theo relaxed a bit, taking one of the chairs across from her. Pulcheria glanced at the servants. “Warm spiced wine for the emperor.”

Her action brought another frown to Theo’s face. “I am capable of directing my servants, Ria.”

“I know.” She waited until the servants left the room. “It was my way of getting us a little private time. The palace will soon be ringing with the news.”

“Are you going to tell me before the servants announce it?” His eyebrow rose in imitation of her own when exasperated.

“King Yazdgard executed a Christian bishop and several of his followers.”

“What?” Theo leapt to his feet and started pacing—echoing another of her habits. His cheeks turned red again, this time with the hot blood of anger. “How dare he execute Christians? We have a treaty!”

Pulcheria’s fears that the Hellenes led her brother to light-mindedness receded. She had been unaware she carried such a burden until it lifted like a weight from her shoulders. She should never have doubted her brother’s faith and dedication to the Church, having raised him in piety. His occasional small rebellion was a function of his youth and vigor, to be expected. I should find him a suitable wife soon, one without the burden of too many family connections. It is time he fulfilled his dynastic obligations and produced an heir.

“The bishop destroyed a state Zoroastrian fire-altar. He and his followers did not repent. I’m afraid Yazdgard had little choice but to execute them. However, we must be on our guard and object to any further persecution of our co-religionists.”

“I don’t understand.” Theo sat, a frown puckering his brow. “We’ve been at peace with Persia for years. Prefect Anthemius insured Christian freedom from persecution in exchange for granting the same rights to Persians in our lands.”

She reached across a low marble table to grab his hand. It was imperative Theo understand her next point. “Brother, it is time your people see their emperor not just as Protector of the Empire, but Protector of the Faith. We will meet with our generals tomorrow to plan our strategy. I hope to avoid further bloodshed, but if Yazdgard pursues Christians, we must respond. This will not be a normal skirmish about borders or trade. If it comes to it, this will be a holy war.”

“I understand, Ria.” He squeezed her hand, looking grim. “Now I must repair to bed. Only a few hours until midnight prayers.”


[Blog Tour] 'Dawn Empress: A Novel of Imperial Rome' (The Theodosian Women, Book Two) By Faith L. Justice #HistoricalFiction
Faith L. Justice

Author Bio:

Faith L. Justice writes award-winning historical novels, short stories, and articles in Brooklyn, New York where she lives with her family and the requisite gaggle of cats. Her work has appeared in Salon.com, Writer’s Digest, The Copperfield Review, and many more publications. She is Chair of the New York City chapter of the Historical Novel Society, and Associate Editor for Space and Time Magazine. She co-founded a writer’s workshop many more years ago than she likes to admit. For fun, she digs in the dirt—her garden and various archaeological sites.

Connect With Faith L. Justice:

[Blog Tour] 'Dawn Empress: A Novel of Imperial Rome' (The Theodosian Women, Book Two) By Faith L. Justice #HistoricalFiction
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29 April 2021

Graphic Novel 'Caravaggio: A Light Before the Darkness' by Ken Mora Receives Independent Press Award

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Independent Press Award Win, 2021 added to accolades for Caravaggio: A Light Before The Darkness
'Caravaggio: A Light Before the Darkness' by Ken Mora is recognized as Winner in the category of Graphic Novel by Independent Press Award, 2021.
The Independent Press Award is judged by experts from the book industry, including publishers, writers, editors, book cover designers, and professional copywriters. Winners and distinguished favorites are awarded based on overall excellence from entries worldwide. English Language publications were considered from the United States, Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and worldwide.
"We congratulate this year's 2021 winners and distinguished favorites in the annual Independent Press Award. The quality and quantity of excellent independently published books hit a record. Independents recognized are thriving around the globe. We are so proud to announce these key titles representing global independent publishing." - awards sponsor Gabrielle Olczak.
"We are delighted to have signed Ken Mora's 'Caravaggio: A Light Before the Darkness'. Although we are a small publishing house, we have been around for some 15 years now, so we know quality when we see it. When Ken sent it over, it didn't take me long to recognize how well produced it was, and as such we are proud to be the publisher of such a book. I look forward to getting it out to the masses!" - Harry Markos, publisher Markosia Enterprises
WINNER 2021 Independent Press Award, 2021 in the category of Graphic Novel

'Caravaggio: A Light Before the Darkness' - The Blurb:

  • His art saved the dying Church. 
  • Ambition exposed his secret lover. 
  • His sword sealed their tragic fate.
The artist known as Caravaggio must flee to Rome to protect his lover from The Inquisition. In Rome, his art spurs the faithful to return to The Church at the time of The Counter-Reformation. Hubris exposes his secret lover and forces him to flee Rome on a journey of penitence fraught with peril, intrigue, and murder.
  • Previous accolades include Winner of the 2020 Screencraft Cinematic Book Award and finalist in the Eric Hoffer, Wishing Shelf, and National Indie Excellence awards.
  • 'Caravaggio: A Light Before the Darkness' is available at major international booksellers including Amazon

SOURCE Bella Fe Media

26 April 2021

[Blog Tour] 'Pied Piper' By Keith Stuart #HistoricalFiction #WW2

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[Blog Tour] 'Pied Piper' By Keith Stuart #HistoricalFiction #WW2
'Pied Piper' - Tour Banner

The Book:

Pied Piper
By Keith Stuart
  • Publication Date: 1st March 2021
  • Publisher: LMP- Len Maynard Publishing
  • Page Length: 176 Pages
  • Genre: Historical Fiction / WWII

The Blurb:

In September 1939 the British Government launched Operation Pied Piper. To protect them from the perils of German bombing raids, in three days millions of city children were evacuated - separated from their parents.

This story tells of two families: one whose children leave London and the other which takes them in. We share the ups and downs of their lives, their dramas and tragedies, their stoicism and their optimism. But. unlike many other stories and images about this time, this one unfolds mainly through the eyes of Tom, the father whose children set off, to who knew where, with just a small case and gas mask to see them on their way
Buy Links: Amazon UK ✔ Amazon US ✔ Amazon CA ✔ Amazon AU
  • This novel is free to read with #KindleUnlimited subscription.
[Blog Tour] 'Pied Piper' By Keith Stuart #HistoricalFiction #WW2
'Pied Piper' - Front Cover

'Pied Piper' - Excerpt:

The next few minutes’ thoughts were drowned by the clatter of pots and cutlery and plates but there was an unusual absence of chatter. Alice and Micky always had something to say, correcting and contradicting each other about things they had been doing together and interrupting each other as they shared what they had done alone, each certain the other was being given too much time to tell. But that night they were subdued, quiet.

“Right, you two, hands washed quickly,” and I whisked Micky off his feet towards the sink, trying my darnedest to tickle his ribs and illicit a giggle. Instead, he twisted in my arms and threw his arms round my neck, pressing his warm little cheek against mine and whispered in my ear. “I don’t want to go, Daddy.” I wrapped him in my arms and clasped him so close I wanted him to melt into me so we couldn’t be parted.

“I know, Soldier, but it won’t be for long and you’re a lucky thing getting extra holiday in the country. Wish I was coming.” He could never know how much I meant that. “And you have to look after Alice, too, ’cause you know what she’s like, she won’t want to go either.”

Alice could not have heard the exchange, but she sensed the moment and came running from the sink and crashed into my legs, trying her best to join her hands round my waist and bury her face into my belly. I could feel her shoulders heaving with her sobs and, clutching my son in one arm, I reached down and clasped the back of her head and pressed her closer still. Without looking, my eyes were so tightly shut they hurt, I could see in my mind’s eye her soft, golden hair, tumbling in bubbling curls half-way down her back.

When I dared open my eyes, I found myself instinctively looking straight into Mary’s. She made no sound as tears slid down each side of her face.

“Right, you silly lot. This won’t do. We’ve got tea to eat and lots of getting ready for your adventure. You gotta choose the things you want to take, then everything’s got to be packed, Mummy’s got labels to write. And I…well I’ve got things to do, too.”

“What have you got to do, Daddy?” It was Alice who managed to join me in breaking the moment.

“Now that’s for me to know and you to find out. But you won’t be finding out till tomorrow.”

“Oh Daddy, that’s not fair. That’s teasing and you say we shouldn’t tease.” Micky had eased his cheek from mine and was looking straight at me.

“Yeah, but I’m a grown up and I’m allowed.”

As I lowered Micky to the floor again, I kissed the top of Alice’s head and inhaled as deeply as I could. I needed to lock in the smell of them both. We took our usual places at the table, Mary nearest the stove to fetch and carry, the children either side and opposite each other, and me at the end opposite Mary. It had never been decided that this is how it would be, it just happened. It was a bit like the colour of eyes, or the size of feet being handed down, inherited. It was just the way we did it and it felt right and comfortable. It was the shape of our perfect little family.

Tea was eaten more quietly than usual: the questions the children must have had I suspect could not be asked. They were too big, too difficult to voice because then they would become real issues instead of potential ones. Neither Mary nor I could guess their thoughts for certain and feared we might sow a seed of fear they might not have had if we were to explore the possibilities with them. So, we sat in a cloud of denial. Not lying to each other by saying but doing so by not.

Micky looked the most lost in his thoughts. It wasn’t right that such big things had to be considered by one so small. I daren’t even try to put myself in his place, wonder what I would have felt like at six years old, leaving my Mum and Dad to go off to who knew where, to live with who knew who, for who knew how long. One thought poked itself into my head but, as the possibility of never seeing my little ones again flitted across my thoughts, Micky spoke and a shutter seemingly came down and ‘what ifs’ returned to ‘what now?’

“Can I take Bunners?”

In all the magnitude of the situation, in a mountain of potential consequences, Micky’s troubled, almost tearful fear that he might be separated from his beloved, stuffed and threadbare rabbit broke the silence at last. And I laughed. It was so absurd, so incongruous and had I not laughed I would most certainly have cried.

Author Bio:

Keith Stuart (Wadsworth) taught English for 36 years in Hertfordshire schools, the county in which he was born and has lived most of his life. Married with two sons, sport, music and, especially when he retired after sixteen years as a headteacher, travel, have been his passions. Apart from his own reading, reading and guiding students in their writing; composing assemblies; writing reports, discussion and analysis papers, left him with a declared intention to write a book. Pied Piper is ‘it’. Starting life as a warm-up exercise at the Creative Writing Class he joined in Letchworth, it grew into this debut novel.

[Blog Tour] 'Pied Piper' By Keith Stuart #HistoricalFiction #WW2
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21 April 2021

From A Dinosaur Skeleton To The Famous Michael Jackson Hat, What Are The Most Extraordinary Objects Bought By The Belgians?

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From A Dinosaur Skeleton To The Famous Michael Jackson Hat, What Are The Most Extraordinary Objects Bought By The Belgians?
10 million objects sold on Catawiki
Online auctions are increasingly popular in Belgium, especially with the Covid-19 pandemic which has prompted huge numbers of consumers to shop from their homes , leading to a boom in e-commerce. More consumers have turned to online auctions to find bargains and find unusual, rare and exceptional items. This trend will persist and intensify, and Belgium is no exception.
Catawiki , the most visited online auction platform for exceptional objects in Europe, has seen significant growth in recent months. It welcomed more than 19,000 unique Belgian sellers in 2020 alone, and today celebrates an exceptional milestone: the success and popularity of the platform have made it possible to sell the 10 millionth object, namely an 18 kt white gold ring. .
More and more online consumers and auction fans are using the Catawiki online marketplace to find special and unique items, especially during this time when a major shift is taking place from offline to online. . Today we are experiencing double-digit growth. So it's no surprise that we sold our 10 millionth item this year. After this important step, we will continue to supply our passionate customers with the best articles: exceptional and breathtaking objects ”, declares Cyrille Cyrille Coiffet, general manager of the Art and Antiquities department at Catawiki.

The most remarkable objects bought by the Belgians:

With the help of experts, Catawiki exclusively offers unique and special objects and collectibles. From a dinosaur skeleton to a lock of Napoleon's hair, Europe's number one online auction platform has collected an impressive number of remarkable items since its inception. Belgian buyers and auction enthusiasts spent more than 50 million euros on the platform last year (an increase of 45% compared to 2019) to acquire the most unique and unusual objects.

As part of this very important step that marks the success of the company, Catawiki has drawn up a (non-exhaustive) list of the most remarkable objects purchased by Belgians on the platform:

From A Dinosaur Skeleton To The Famous Michael Jackson Hat, What Are The Most Extraordinary Objects Bought By The Belgians?
Elephant Bird Egg
  • A spectacular elephant bird egg at 4,600 € Originally from Madagascar, elephant birds were larger birds to tread the earth's surface and suddenly disappeared in 17 th century. All the parts come from the same egg, an exceptional rare object.
From A Dinosaur Skeleton To The Famous Michael Jackson Hat, What Are The Most Extraordinary Objects Bought By The Belgians?
Napoleon's Hair
  • Napoleon's hair at 2,000  The “most expensive hair in the world”, namely that of French General Napoleon Bonaparte, was found with his personal items and was auctioned on Catawiki.
From A Dinosaur Skeleton To The Famous Michael Jackson Hat, What Are The Most Extraordinary Objects Bought By The Belgians?
Lunar meteorite
  • Lunar meteorite at 4,900  On March 10, 1998, a meteorite weighing 1.425 kg was discovered in the Libyan desert.
From A Dinosaur Skeleton To The Famous Michael Jackson Hat, What Are The Most Extraordinary Objects Bought By The Belgians?
Michael Jackson's Hat
  • The hat of Michael Jackson at 10,000  Michael Jackson gave this autographed hat to his former manager. It was worn by the American star and even appears in the music video for the famous song Smooth Criminal.
Tintin Comic
  • Tintin comic at 39,000   An edition "avant la lettre" of Tintin in Congo, devoid of bubbles and title. This extremely rare edition reinforces the value of the object, since only 7 classified copies are known.

Exceptional objects soon on sale:

  • "Newton's apple" was painted by Dutch astronaut writer Piet Smolders and his wife Lyudmila Fomina . This work of art has spent more than six months in space. Dutch astronaut André Kuipers took it with him when he left Earth on December 21, 2011 aboard the Soyuz spacecraft to travel to the International Space Station. On the back of the canvas is the original ISS stamp, dated May 5, 2012. The estimate is: 4,000.
  • Another exceptional item will be auctioned at the end of April: a Playmouth Superbird, a unique aerodynamic car that was marketed in the late 1960s as a homologation model for NASCAR racing. It was designed with the expertise of former NASA employees, with the sole aim of being the most efficient and winning as many races as possible. The estimate is: 175,000 €.
SOURCE: Catawiki

19 April 2021

[Blog Tour] 'Two Fatherlands' (A Reschen Valley Novel Part 4) By Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger #HistoricalFiction #WW2

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[Blog Tour] 'Two Fatherlands' (A Reschen Valley Novel Part 4) By Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger  #HistoricalFiction #WW2
'Two Fatherlands' - Tour banner

The Book:

Two Fatherlands
(A Reschen Valley Novel Part 4)
By Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger
  • Publication Date: April 13, 2021
  • Publisher: Inktreks/Lucyk-Berger
  • Page Length: 636 Pages
  • Genre: Historical Fiction (WW2)

The Blurb:

It's a dangerous time to be a dissident...

1938. Northern Italy. Since saving Angelo Grimani's life 18 years earlier, Katharina is grappling with how their lives have since been entwined. Construction on the Reschen Lake reservoir begins and the Reschen Valley community is torn apart into two fronts - those who want to stay no matter what comes, and those who hold out hope that Hitler will bring Tyrol back into the fold.

Back in Bolzano, Angelo finds one fascist politician who may have the power to help Katharina and her community, but there is a group of corrupt players eager to have a piece of him. When they realise that Angelo and Katharina are joining forces, they turn to a strategy of conquering and dividing to weaken both the community and Angelo's efforts.

Meanwhile, the daughter Angelo shares with Katharina - Annamarie - has fled to Austria to pursue her acting career but the past she is running away from lands her directly into the arms of a new adversary: the Nazis. She goes as far as Berlin, and as far as Goebbels, to pursue her dreams, only to realise that Germany is darker than any place she's been before.

Angelo puts aside his prejudices and seeks alliances with old enemies; Katharina finds ingenious ways to preserve what is left of her community, and Annamarie wrests herself from the black forces of Nazism with plans to return home. But when Hitler and Mussolini present the Tyroleans with “The Option”, the residents are forced to choose between Italian and German nationhood with no guarantee that they will be able to stay in Tyrol at all!

Out of the ruins of war, will they be able to find their way back to one another and pick up the pieces?

This blockbuster finale will keep readers glued to the pages. Early readers are calling it, "...engrossing", "...enlightening" and "...both a heartbreaking and uplifting end to this incredible series!"

Buy Links:

Universal Link ✔ Barnes and Noble ✔ Indigo  ✔ Kobo  ✔
iBooks ✔ Mondadori ✔ Angus & Robertson  ✔


[Blog Tour] 'Two Fatherlands' (A Reschen Valley Novel Part 4) By Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger  #HistoricalFiction #WW2
'Two Fatherlands' - Cover

'Two Fatherlands' - Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Graun, April 1938

Katharina was fixing the wiring on the chicken coop when she heard the gunfire. From below the ridge, surprised shrieks, like panicked birds startled from the brush. A second shot. Silence.

By the time she came around to the front of the house, Manuel appeared at the top of the road, furiously pushing the bicycle pedals. Even from a distance, she saw the way her youngest son’s face was pulled tight with sorrow. Bernd and he had been racing up and down the farm road, cheering one another on as they took turns with the bicycle. It had been a scene of peace and unity, of a normalcy so distant these last months that it nearly made everything all right again. Surely, Katharina thought, that squealing had simply come from something Florian had not properly oiled. Manuel was probably distressed because he thought he might have broken the old contraption.

Before he reached the barnyard, Manuel jumped off and dropped the bicycle to the ground—exactly what his father had told him not to do—before throwing himself on Katharina.

Mutti! They shot Hildi!”

“Who did?” But before Manuel could name the Italian police guards, Katharina was already running for the ridge.

Behind her, a tool clattered in the workshop, where Florian was mending the pushcart wheel, but she did not stop to see whether her husband was on her heels. She had to reach the carabinieri before they hurt anyone else.

At last sight, Katharina had seen Hildi’s black-and-white tail swinging wildly in circles as she had chased after Bernd on the bicycle. Hildi—God knew how much Bernd loved that dog—had kept up with him, but not because she’d been on a lead. Bernd must have removed it.

When she reached the scene, a policeman was fastening handcuffs onto Bernd. Her son’s head drooped over his heaving chest. Katharina rushed at the two policemen, intent on pulling her son out of their grips, but at the sight of the prostrate dog in the field, she pulled up short and covered her mouth.

Sentite, è davvero necessario?” she demanded. Was this necessary?

Florian now pushed towards the carabinieri, hands up. “Vi prego, he’s upset about the dog.”

“Yes,” Katharina reasoned with the smaller policeman, “you’ve shot his dog. Naturally he’s upset.”

With a crushed expression, Bernd looked down at Hildi, then up at Katharina. He wrenched himself from the policemen’s hold. There were always two of them: one to read and one to write—that was the joke. By the way they gripped Katharina’s son again and shook him into stillness, however, these two made it clear they were not joking.

“He came after us,” the shorter one replied, indignant. “He’s not allowed to strike at the police.” To Bernd, he added, “You know that. This is not the first time you’ve crossed the line of the law.”

Katharina started again, as did Florian, the two of them talking over each other.

“Don’t you dare beg them,” Bernd growled in German. Behind those eyes—so much like his great-grandfather’s had been—anger flared dark blue.

The policemen swung Bernd to the road and marched him towards town.

Katharina rushed for her boy, but Florian pulled her back. She twisted out of her husband’s grip, his interference making it all the more urgent that she fight harder. She grabbed the first policeman by the arm and pleaded again for Bernd’s release.

“Please! Fine us. The dog should have been on a lead, I know. We’ll pay whatever you want. Just don’t take my son to Captain Basso.”

The man’s expression wavered. “Signora Steinhauser, my mother is a lioness too. I’ll tell you what I tell her: you cannot fix everything for your children. Bernd is old enough to take responsibility for his actions, for his life.”

Katharina glared at him.

“Take the dog,” the presumptuous policeman said. “Bury it. Then come to the station and pick up your son. But only after he has learned his lesson.”

Florian came to her side and muttered something, but she wasn’t listening. She watched the two carabinieri stride off with her son still defiant between them. Florian then marched back up the road and to the farm.

Katharina followed her husband, Manuel, at her side. Only a few weeks ago, the authorities had fetched Florian in the middle of the night. He’d undergone questioning—questioning that had chilled Katharina. Captain Basso had made it clear that the authorities had information about the family, information that Katharina and Florian had carefully kept from the boys. Florian said Basso had seemed disappointed, angry even, that Florian had not reacted more surprised or vehement about Basso’s knowledge. Katharina could easily imagine the police captain would break open the truth to Bernd.

By the time she reached the top of the road, Florian had disappeared into the workshop. He returned with his hat.

“I’ll take care of this,” he said.

“I’m coming with you.”

He put a hand against her shoulder before she could move into the house. “Stay here.” He indicated the ridge. “You and Manuel should bury Hildi. I’ll come back with Bernd.”

“I want to go with you.”

“You offered to pay a fine. I’m going to need the emergency money.”

It wasn’t just Hildi running around without a lead. Accosting a carabinieri was a serious matter. Bernd could be sent to prison, as far as to Bolzano, unless they could pay. Katharina knew Vincenzo Basso well enough to know they could never pay enough to keep him quiet. He’d had his reasons for testing Florian. Divide et impera. Divide and conquer. That was Basso’s tactic. His and the other Fascists’.

“I’ll get the tin.” Katharina went into the house.

Above the stove, tucked away in the alcove, was the container of matches and the extra lire they’d saved for a rainy day. Florian would also need Bernd’s papers. She took the tin into the sitting room with her and pulled open the drawer of the writing credenza, removed the envelope with all their documents, and found Bernd’s. Before she put the envelope back, she noticed the edge of a picture frame sticking out from between old letters and newspaper clippings. Puzzled, she reached for it and then remembered. She dropped her hand.

That frame was empty now. It had once held the photo of Annamarie dressed in her blue-gingham smock and a white blouse. Katharina recalled the beginning of her daughter’s smile, the reason for it. Manuel and Bernd had dashed out, dressed up in capes and silly hats, swinging wooden swords and trying to get their older sister to laugh over made-up rhymes. Beyond that moment—beyond that photo—Katharina remembered her daughter’s eyes yearning for something far away, remembered how that child loved to run, bounding through the fields, abandoning her chores. How many times had that girl scorched the milk? She remembered her daughter’s crushed expression, the shame on Annamarie’s face, the day she’d returned from Bolzano, hoping for forgiveness. Instead, it was Katharina who had begged to be forgiven, and denied it.

Annamarie. She was in Innsbruck, across the border now, leaving Katharina and Florian to wrestle with the past, with the lies that had compounded over the years and that Annamarie had learned about in the most heartbreaking revelation.

The frame was empty, the photo in Angelo Grimani’s possession. Katharina had pleaded with him to search for their daughter, to be more than a politician and to finally take responsibility. He’d returned empty handed, remorseful, and far too late.

She stuffed the envelope into the drawer and slammed it shut, angry now. At the carabinieri. At Bernd. At the dog. At Florian for refurbishing the cursed bicycle. At herself, most of all, for all that she had managed to undo in the last year.
[Blog Tour] 'Two Fatherlands' (A Reschen Valley Novel Part 4) By Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger  #HistoricalFiction #WW2
Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

Author Bio:

Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger is an American author living in Austria. Her focus is on historical fiction. She has been a managing editor for a magazine publishing house, has worked as an editor, and has won several awards for her travel narrative, flash fiction and short stories. She lives with her husband in a “Grizzly Adams” hut in the Alps, just as she’d always dreamt she would when she was a child.

Connect with Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger:

WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn • 
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[Blog Tour] 'Two Fatherlands' (A Reschen Valley Novel Part 4) By Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger  #HistoricalFiction #WW2
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16 April 2021

Selena Photos Acquisition Commemorates Iconic Tejana Singer's 50th Birthday [Rare 1994 Interview Included]

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Selena Photos Acquisition Commemorates Iconic Tejana Singer's 50th Birthday [Rare 1994 Interview Included]
Selena Photos Acquisition Commemorates Singer’s 50th Birthday (photo via americanhistory.si.edu)
The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History has acquired 18 images of the iconic Tejana singer Selena Quintanilla-Perez (1971–1995) to add to its collection of photographs taken by San Antonio, Texas-based photographer Al Rendon
  • It will also release an educational video April 16 highlighting objects about, and images of, Selena in the Smithsonian's collections to share her story on what would have been her 50th birthday. One of Selena's performance costumes was gifted to the museum by her family in 1998.
These recently collected photographs depict Selena in concert, interacting with fans and professional headshots. A purchased acquisition, the images are part of the museum's Photographic History Collection and join images of Selena taken by Rendon and donated in 2015 as part of the museum's collecting initiative around Hispanic advertising history. 

In addition, the museum is publishing several digital resources to help audiences learn about Selena's legacy, including the final installment in the Smithsonian's "Latinas Talk Latinas" video series, produced in collaboration with the Smithsonian Latino CenterThe video was filmed in spring 2021 in her home state of Texas and in Washington, D.C. An educational Learning Lab featuring Selena in the Smithsonian collections will accompany the video, and the museum will publish blog posts and social media content.

Selena Photos Acquisition Commemorates Iconic Tejana Singer's 50th Birthday [Rare 1994 Interview Included]
Curator Mireya Loza holding one of the newly acquired photographs (photo via americanhistory.si.edu)
Selena was an American singer-songwriter who became known as the "Queen of Tejano Music," a popular form of music originating in Texas that takes influences from polka, rock, conjunto and mariachi. She rose to fame in the late 1980s among Mexican Americans and Mexicans, and her popularity quickly grew across U.S. and international Latino markets. She went on to sign with a major record label and served as a regional spokesperson for Coca-Cola from 1989 until her death. Selena played for crowds of 80,000 and won a Grammy for the best Mexican American album in 1994. At the time of her death, Selena was recording her first album in English, her native language, and had opened several fashion boutiques. She was killed March 31, 1995, by the president of her fan club, who also managed her clothing stores.
"Selena's music continues to animate family BBQs and celebrations such as quinceañeras, as her music and story continue to inspire, resonate and connect across generations and communities," said Verónica A. Méndez, curator at the museum. "Almost 30 years after her tragic death, she remains one of the most influential Latina artists of both the 20th and 21st centuries, with a growing fan base introduced to Selena by the 1997 namesake movie starring Jennifer Lopez, one of the best-selling cosmetics celebrity collaborations in 2016 and the recent 2020 Netflix series."
The museum's "American Enterprise" exhibition displays Selena's black leather jacket and black satin bustier that she wore between 1990 and 1995 for performances in the U.S. and Mexico to illustrate the story of Hispanic Advertising. It is the same outfit in which she is depicted at the Selena Memorial statue in Corpus Christi, Texas, and in several of the newly acquired photographs. 

Selena Photos Acquisition Commemorates Iconic Tejana Singer's 50th Birthday [Rare 1994 Interview Included]
Photo transparencies of Selena by Rendon for Coca-Cola advertisements (photo via americanhistory.si.edu)
The exhibition also features transparencies of Selena from a Coca-Cola photo session taken by Rendon, some of which were never published, and an image from the 1994 Coca-Cola ad developed by Sosa, Bromley, Aguilar & Associates. In addition, images of Selena are featured in the museum's new "Girlhood (It's Complicated)" exhibition.

A rare video of an interview with Selena on the program "Tejano USA" was discovered as part of a separate donation to the museum's Spanish-language television project by Univision, the parent company of San Antonio's KWEX-TV, Channel 41

  • The interview, with footage of Selena from 1994, has been viewed almost 4 million times.
Selena's costume is part of the museum's entertainment collections in the division of Cultural and Community Life. Other Mexican American artists whose costumes are in that collection include Lydia Mendoza (1916–2007) of Texas, who was known as the "La Alondra de la Frontera" or "The Lark of the Border," and "San Antonio's First Lady of Song" Rosita Fernández (1918–2006), who was best known for her corridos or ballads.


SOURCE: Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

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