2018 Tribute to Veterans

Honoring veterans of all wars

This year you have the rare opportunity to obtain three historic war novels FREE.  Just click the links below and enjoy reading and learning about the  our veterans and the sacrifices that helped to maintain our freedoms.

Kicker (The Forgotten Front)   A WWII thriller about a family’s hardships on the home front and the Army airmen who flew unarmed missions over Japanese territory in China, Burma and India.  This ebook is available free November 9, 10 and 11 of 2018.

The Dandelion Clock  A wish to end all wishes. The war to end all wars. This WWI novel is available free November 10, 11 and 12 of 2018.

Touching the Wire  Auschwitz:1944 A Jewish nurse steps from a cattle wagon into the heart of a young doctor, but can he save her? 70yrs later, his granddaughter tries to keep the promise he made.  This WWII novel is available free…

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The Dying Minutes of World War One

A very poignant post about the last minutes of World War One


The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 brought peace, at last, to the war-ravaged fields of Flanders and other blood-soaked theatres of carnage. To
those three elevens would be added another – 11,000 men were killed or wounded on
that last day before the guns finally stopped firing.

It is a cruel irony that men who had fervently prayed they would make it home to
their loved ones would fall as the final hours and minutes ticked down to the

In frontline aid stations, in hospitals and in convalescence facilities far beyond the
sound of gunfire, soldiers would die as the minutes ticked down to peace. Historian
Tom Burnell estimates that 29 Irishmen lost their lives on that final day… most of
them to pneumonia, disease or by succumbing to wounds received days earlier.

However, four of them were killed in action that last…

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November 9th – another memorable day in German history

There are always particularly memorable days in each nation’s history. In Germany one of those days that is engraved in my mind is November 9th. No other day had so many hugely significant events linked to the date. It always make me feel serious and overly conscious of the fragility of life and politics:

In 1918 the day brought the end of the monarchies in 1918:

Kaiser Wilhelm II was dethroned in the November Revolution by his chancellor Max von Baden, who published the news before the emperor had actually abdicated.
The same day Philipp Scheidemann proclaimed the German republic from a window of the Reichstag, keen to proclaim the republic before the communists did.
He just beat Karl Liebknecht, who proclaimed a “Free Socialist Republic” from a balcony of the Berliner Stadtschloss. 

In 1922 Albert Einstein was named the winner of the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect”

In 1923, the failed Beer Hall Putsch, from 8 to 9 November, marks an early emergence and provisional downfall of the Nazi Party as an important player on Germany’s political landscape. Without sufficient preparation Hitler simply declared himself leader in Munich, Bavaria. Hitler’s march through Munich was stopped by Bavarian police who opened fire. Sixteen nationalists and four policemen were killed. During the Nazi rule 9 November was a national holiday in Germany in memory of the Nazis who died in the beer hall Putsch.

In 1938, in what is today known in German as Kristallnacht (“Night of Broken Glass”), from 9 to 10 November, synagogues and Jewish property were burned and destroyed on a large scale, and more than four hundred Jews were killed or driven to suicide. The event demonstrated that the antisemitic stance of the Nazi regime was not so ‘moderate’ as it had appeared partially in earlier years. After 10 November, about 30,000 Jews were arrested; many of them later died in concentration camps.

In 1989 the fall of the Berlin wall ended German separation and started a series of events that ultimately led to German reunification and the Fall of Communism in eastern Europe. November 9 was considered for the date for German Unity Day, but as it was also the anniversary of Kristallnacht, this date was considered inappropriate as a national holiday. The date of the formal reunification of Germany, 3 October 1990, therefore, was chosen as the date for this German national holiday instead, to replace 17 June, the celebration of the uprising of 1953 in East Germany.

Llandovery writers group launches “Turnings of the Years” Anthology

An eclectic collection of short stories and tales from Wales exploring the human condition, humorous tales, short stories with a twist and stories in time. All profits from sales of ‘The Turnings of the Years’ are going to Llandovery Youth and Community Centre. ‘The Turnings of the Years’ is a compendium of thirty-three classic tales from more than twenty different authors, some established names, others just starting their literary adventures.
How to obtain copies
and the Amazon e-book:
BUT:  if people buy off the web then less money comes back to the Centre as these guys take their cut. All the profit does if you sell direct.
The book retails for £9 and just over half of this will go to the centre in Llandovery. So if we sell 200 copies then they get £1000. Jill, the manager, is very happy.
Price: For resale, copies can be bought at £7.
To purchase these you can EITHER:
a) come to Llandovery and get them from the Community Centre on Broad Street in working hours (M-F, 10-5), paying the manager Jill Tatman
b) order by post but you have to add £2 per copy p+p.
How to order if you order by post:
either use PayPal or BACS bank transfer:
1. PayPal: to  Paypal account ajuliangray@gmail.com. Then send an email with details of what you’ve ordered and paid, and your address.
2. Bank transfer:
Account holder A J Gray
Sort Code 40-36-05
Account no.51010085
Then, again, send an email to me with details of what you’ve ordered and paid, and your address.
Celebrate! Wednesday, December 5, 7pm: a celebratory meal with a seasonal spirit in The Bear, Market Square, Llandovery.

Who Shot Tony Blair? The Novel

A very entertaining story, previously serialised on the author’s blog, highly recommended if you like satire and witty humour.

Who Shot Tony Blair?

Now available on Kindle and coming soon on paperback!


Not the political thriller we wanted, but the political thriller we deserve



In a post-Brexit, pre-dystopian Britain, the traditional political system has collapsed and Tony Blair is back in Number 10. Only this time, he is tied to a chair in the kitchen under the watchful eye of the accidental Prime Minister’s mother.

Following several years of instability, Britain is more divided than ever. The country has devolved into a ragtag assembly of self-governing provinces, each with their own unique and particular arrangements. 

Elected to the position of Prime Minister of East Anglia by lottery (considered the only true method of democracy by some drunk Cambridge scholars), Lucy Wastell comes to power with the intention of reuniting her beloved country, establishing Cambridge as the new capital city and giving her chums all the top jobs. Which…

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“A Different Kind of Angel” by Paulette Mahurin

I’m delighted to finally prewsent my own review of this marvellous book. I am a big fan of Paulette who has been on my blog plenty of times and yet, not often enough.

A different kind of Angel
by Paulette Mahurin
is particularly powerful as it is based on a true story. When a brave female journalist infiltrates a women’s asylum in 1887 she finds shocking malpractice and saves the lives of endless women who have been wrongfully institutionalized.
On the way Mahurin details the lives of several ‘inmates’, for many of whom the asylum was the culmination of already horrific lives. The main protagonist being a Jewish woman from Russia who was the sole survivor of her family of the Russian pogrom.
Told in dramatic voice and an affecting manner this is a gripping read that teaches much about history, humanity and the strength of the human spirit. Another incredible story from the pen of a sensitive and compassionate writer that will appeal to her growing fan base no doubt.

Inspired by real events chronicled by a journalist for The World News, Elizabeth Cochrane (pen name, Nellie Bly), in 1887.

Klara Gelfman’s life in Kiev was serene until she turned nineteen. That’s when Russia’s Tsar Alexander II was assassinated, and a vicious propaganda campaign spread that blamed the Jews for his death. Klara and her family became victims of the many pogroms breaking out throughout Russia. None were so violent as what hit Kiev in 1881. It was there that Klara’s family was torn asunder and her world changed forever.

This is the story of what happens to this traumatized, orphaned, young Jewish woman when she escapes Russia and crosses an ocean to arrive on the rough streets of New York City able to speak only a few words of English. There, in the land of the free, Klara’s life is thrown into turmoil when she is mistaken for a drunken prostitute. Mistreated by those entrusted to protect her—the police, a judge, doctors, and nurses—she is condemned to an unrelenting hellscape when she is incorrectly and involuntarily committed to a lunatic asylum.

At a time when women had no political, economic or professional rights, comes a story where corruption by the powerful was as overt and commonplace as was garbage on the New York City streets. From the award-winning, international best-selling author of The Seven Year Dress comes an unforgettable story of the devastating effects of persecution, hatred, and arrogance. A Different Kind of Angel is also a story of love, family, friendship, and loyalty. It is a journey into the nature and heart of the resilience of the human spirit that will leave readers thinking about the story long after they finish the book.

Paulette Mahurin is an international best selling literary fiction and historical fiction novelist. She lives with her husband Terry and two dogs, Max and Bella, in Ventura County, California. She grew up in West Los Angeles and attended UCLA, where she received a Master’s Degree in Science.

Her first novel, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, made it to Amazon bestseller lists and won awards, including best historical fiction 2012 in Turning the Pages Magazine. Her second novel, His Name Was Ben, originally written as an award winning short story while she was in college and later expanded into a novel, rose to bestseller lists its second week out. Her third novel, To Live Out Loud, won international critical acclaim and made it to multiple sites as favorite read book of 2015. Her fourth book, The Seven Year Dress, made it to the bestseller lists for literary fiction and historical fiction on Amazon U.S., Amazon U.K. and Amazon Australia. Her fifth book, The Day I Saw The Hummingbird, was released in 2017 to rave reviews.

Semi-retired, she continues to work part-time as a Nurse Practitioner in Ventura County. When she’s not writing, she does pro-bono consultation work with women with cancer, works in the Westminster Free Clinic as a volunteer provider, volunteers as a mediator in the Ventura County Courthouse for small claims cases, and involves herself, along with her husband, in dog rescue. Profits from her books go to help rescue dogs from kill shelters.

Book Launch – Party Bus & Atonement TN Book Fair!

Happy days – one of my favourite authors and bloggers has released Book 2. Heading straight over to Amazon to get my copy of the charming and creative world of Atonement

Teagan's Books

October 20, 2018

Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit — Atonement in Bloom is finally published!  It was a wild ride, even after I finished all the work on the novel.  Meaning I’m not best pleased with all the bumps in the road from the Amazon take-over of Create Space…  Now, let’s get this party bus on the highway!

Atonement Blog Party Bus LoadedThe bus is headed to Atonement, TN, the fictional town of my urban fantasy series.  The stories in my “Atonement universe” are not romances, not science fiction, not family drama, or religious — and they certainly are not high-brow literature.  They’re whimsical, suspenseful, magical, fantasies set in our current real world. 

All aboard!  Beep-beep, yeah! The party bus is here. (Click here for theme music Magic Bus!)  Our first stop is in Connecticut to pick up Dan Antion, who has a handy guided tour…

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Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New book on the shelves – Frolicksome Women and Troublesome Wives: Wife Selling in England by Barb Drummond

I’ve met Barb at bookish events from London to Llandeilo.
Barb Drummond has been researching and self-publishing books on British history for over a decade. She writes about art, architecture, civil engineering and abolition of the slave trade. She has appeared on local tv and radio, carried out research for the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum and is often consulted by researchers.

On September 4 2018 she published a trio of quirky, original books:
Mr Bridges’ Enlightenment Machine: Forty Years on Tour in Georgian Britain
Frolicksome Women and Troublesome Wives: Wife Selling in England
The Midas of Manumission: Samuel Gist and his Virginian Slaves

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to a new author to the cafe and bookstore… Barb Drummond and her latest book released at the end of August – Frolicksome Women & Troublesome Wives  – Wife Selling England.

About the book

In the late 18th century, French travellers claimed an Englishman tired of his wife could dispose of her at Smithfield’s beast market. Examples can be found scattered through press records. Some were, as often claimed, brutal, sometimes drunken affairs. But others were civilised, even joyful events ending in marriage-style dinners. They varied widely over time, place, and practice. In England marriage was easily entered into, but was virtually impossible to escape. Sales took many forms to ensure they were legal, and rituals were often incorporated.

This book is about the nature of marriage itself, of what it meant to our ancestors, of how the public responded to disputes, and about the rights of women and…

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Review: “The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter (A Becks Ruchinsky Mystery Book 1)” by Joan Lipinsky Cochran

The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter 

A very compelling and intense read as the daughter of a Yiddish gangster gradually learns more about the mis-doings of her father. The book is set in the Jewish community of contemporary Miami and has a very authentic feel to it. Having never forgiven her father Tootsie fully for cheating on his mother, Becks has a difficult relationship with him to start with. Then a woman accuses her father of murder and so Becks decides to investigate those claims, opening old wounds and cans of worms. At the same time she finds her own husband was also having an affair, bringing more complications and soul searching into her life.
This is as much a family saga as it is crime fiction. There are more family members involved and affected, the same as there are more criminals and business associates in the crime part of the story.
Some of the inner conflicts Becks goes through seem the same as we are going into deeper levels of crimes and disclosure, yet I found the story overall well told and the writing and the narrative voice so compelling that I read the novel within almost one sitting.
I enjoyed the few interspersed chapters told from the perspective of her father very much, too, as it added a great extra note without taking away from the rest. Definitely an author I’ll be watching.

Get the book at:

Joan Lipinsky Cochran is a former journalist who now focuses on writing crime-related novels that explore subcultures of American Judaism. Her most recent book, The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter, is about a woman whose life is endangered when she discovers her father was a member of the Jewish mafia. It was one of three 2011 Claymore Award finalists and an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award quarter-finalist. Her first book, Still Missing Beulah: Stories of Jews and Blacks in Mid-Century Miami, explores the racism and anti-Semitism that tarnished Miami’s past and informed the relationship between the two minority groups. Three of the short stories in that collection have won literary awards. When she’s not working on a novel, Joan is testing recipes and writing food columns and articles, playing classical and Irish violin, reading, sailing, and bicycling. She lives in Boca Raton with her husband and ungrateful cat.

Official plot:
Since separating from her philandering husband, Boca Raton writer Becks Ruchinsky has struggled to build a closer relationship with her quirky and contentious father, Tootsie, who lives in a retirement home. One evening, as she and her father are relaxing on the home’s front porch, an elderly woman accuses Tootsie of having murdered her husband fifty years earlier.

Tootsie admits to ratting on the man, who’d cheated their Jewish syndicate boss out of thousands of dollars, but denies killing the widow’s husband. He also admits to having friends in the Jewish mafia and shares stories about his experiences. But the more time she spends with her father, the more convinced Becks becomes that Tootsie is lying about his involvement. Determined to discover the truth about her dad’s past, she sets out on a journey to undercover his darkest secrets. She learns he worked for the Jewish mafia –running numbers for the Cuban lottery, beating up Nazi sympathizers, and smuggling arms to Israeli independence fighters. When she learns that he murdered his best friend and, possibly, his own brother, she must decide if she can accept his criminal past – or cut him out of her life.

The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter also explores the impact our parents’ relationships have on our own. Throughout the book, Becks challenges her father on his infidelity toward her mother and becomes frustrated by his refusal to acknowledge that what he did was hurtful to his entire family. She’s upset when Tootsie minimizes her husband’s affair and encourages her to take him back. Ultimately, Becks realizes that she cannot forgive her husband for cheating until she comes to terms with her father’s infidelities…and her mother’s willingness to put up with them.

A gripping and thought-provoking murder mystery, this award-winning novel explores the colorful and precarious world of the 1940s and 1950s Jewish mafia . . . and the limits of familial love.

Praise for The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter
Whatever you might think you’ll find in a book entitled The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter, forget it. Joan Lipinsky Cochran has crafted an engaging, multi-layered family saga cum mystery where a fifty-something woman and mother of two grown sons suddenly discovers that the comfortable, predictable life she has been living is nothing but a sham. Her attempts to make sense of her impossible new reality are both touching and gripping, making for a truly unique literary experience.
Les Standiford, author of Center of Dreams and Last Train to Paradise

A compelling and well-written family drama. Cochran beautifully captures a daughter’s angst and frustration with a father who’s determined to hold onto his secrets even when his family members’ lives are at risk. These are characters you want to be friends with . . . and a few you hope never to run into in a dark alley.
Sharon Potts, award-winning author of The Other Traitor

A gripping family drama in which a daughter has to confront the mystery of her father’s criminal past. Gritty and realistic and hard to put down. Well done!
Deborah Shlian, author of Florida Book Award Gold Medal Winner for Rabbit on the Moon

A fascinating and engrossing read. The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter examines questions of trust and loyalty through the dual eyes of a father with a hidden past and a daughter who is gradually discovering her father’s secrets – and wishes she hadn’t. It’s a story of heartbreak and loss told with humor and grace.
Rabbi Ilene Schneider, award winning author of the Rabbi Akiva Cohen Mysteries and of Talking Dirty – in Yiddish

Christoph Fischer: The Body in the Snow

A charming review for my Bebe Bollinger series. Thanks Carol!

Carol Balawyder

The body in the snow

Figuring out the puzzle in a mystery is always a lot of fun and has the added perk of exercising the brain.
The Body in the Snow is a modern version of a classic Agatha Christie plotline. Set in Llangurrey, a remote hamlet tucked miles away from the nearest town, is experiencing the worst snowstorm in twenty years. All roads and motorways have been closed.
I was immediately drawn into this cozy whodunit and the domestic dynamics among the characters.
The author begins by introducing the characters, a bit of their background, their family, marital status and so forth in very broad drawn strokes. You get the picture. There’s a Diva, a happy divorcee, a handyman and a host of other unlikeable characters.
Now, in present time, they find themselves neighbors, along with their past histories, secrets and personalities that clash with each other. The characters have such unique characteristics…

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