Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Share an Extract – The Cruel Romance: A Novel of Love and War by Marina Osipova

Welcome to the new Cafe and Bookstore  New Series 2020 – Share an Extract with an opportunity to show one of your earlier books some love and attention by sharing an extract.. Check out the above link for all the details.

To kick the new series off in style Marina Osipova shares an extract from The Cruel Romance: A Novel of Love and War

About the book

October 1941. A small village outside Moscow. Serafima bids farewell to Vitya, a Soviet officer going to the front. With only moments left together, she places a cross around her beloved’s neck and reluctantly releases him into a cruel world where nothing is certain, especially whether she will ever see him again. Days later Germans invade her village and take over her tiny house. Serafima and her mother must comply with orders, endure abuse, and stay put or their village will be annihilated.

As World War II intertwines Serafima’s and Vitya’s life with that of a young German violinist and a Russian intellectual, their destinies are irrevocably altered. Can they rise to the challenge of agonizing moral choices and learn to forgive and love again? Praise The Cruel Romance is a tale of love, violence, and acceptance as Serafima is forced to live with what the Germans left behind.

This compelling story makes for a thrilling read in a setting and time that comes to life, pulling the reader into the vividly drawn, rarely seen world. Elisabeth Amaral, author of When Any Kind of Love Will Do and Czar Nicholas, The Toad, and Duck Soup


The extract from The Cruel Romance

By noon break, the house was empty; all their possessions had been heaped on the straw in the corner of the barn. They returned to the house and stood side by side in the doorway, not daring to look at the Germans.

The young man flicked through his little book again. “Clean.”

“Los! Los! Schnell!—Move! Move! Quick!” The major snapped his fingers three times.

“Quickly,” the young man said after he had found the right word and, averting his eyes, made for the door after the major.

“I hope you choke, you brute,” Serafima said through her teeth.

Carefully, Glafira unhinged the icon from the wall. It slipped through her fingers and fell to the floor face down. “God Almighty, God Almighty.” She made the sign of the cross and picked it up with shaking hands. She wrapped the icon in a kerchief and pushed the bundle in Serafima’s hands. “Hide it. I will go to fetch water.”

On her hands and knees, Serafima removed a loose floorboard behind the stove and slipped the icon inside.

For hours, they dusted and swept and mopped and scrubbed the floor and the walls. Every movement of their fingers opened up the cracks in their hands, which oozed blood.

The younger officer walked in and out, carrying traveling bags and suitcases. He brought in a radio, and a flood of brassy words poured out, taking turns with barking marches and choruses of “sieg heils.” An alcohol burner appeared and a foreign, bitter aroma wafted from the pot.

Soon an oil painting of Hitler in a wide gold frame replaced the Savior in the corner of veneration.

One of the many 5* reviews for the book

Have you ever read a book that was so good that you wished there was a movie about it? This is exactly what happened to me after I finished “The Cruel Romance.” The setting was so authentic, the characters so vivid and real, and the atmosphere so haunting and emotionally-charged that I couldn’t help but moan, “I wish I saw this on the big screen” from time to time! The story is set in the Eastern front, where too few historical fiction authors dare to go, unfortunately. Just this fact makes this excellent novel stand out among many of its WW2 peers.

But to me, it was the characters that made me fall in love with the plot – real, authentic, multi-dimensional, with all of their doubts, hopes, sufferings, and their will to go on despite it all. The ending was perfect and left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling after all the devastation that the characters had to go through. Meticulously researched and beautifully presented, “The Cruel Romance” will keep you captivated till the very last page is turned. Highly recommended to all fans of the genre!

Read all the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Also by Marina Osipova

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Marina on Goodreads: Goodreads

About Marina Osipova

I was born in the German Democratic Republic to a military family. I am a graduate of the Moscow State Institute of History and Archives and also graduated from the Moscow Institute for Foreign Languages as a German language interpreter. I worked for a Soviet Governmental Department in the section of International Affairs, then for various German and Austrian firms. Extensive travel to these countries gave me a chance to become intimately familiar with the lands and the people.

In 2001, I immigrated to the United States and eventually made my home in Pawling, NY.
Before publishing The Cruel Romance (Historical Fiction), I have written two other books, The Garden of Weeds and Katyuscha.

My next project is related to the occupation of a part of Austria by the Soviet Army in 1945 – 1955 (working title, österreichisches Engelchen und Alescha. Die Okkupationsromanze).

Connect to Marina

Twitter: @marosikok

Thanks for dropping in and if you are an author in the Cafe and Bookstore and would like to promote one of your early books then please check out the post: New Series 2020 – Share an Extract 

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore Special -Pre-order for May 5th – Anthology – The Road to Liberation – Trials and Triumphs of World War II

One of our authors on the shelves in the Cafe and Bookstore has been included in a special commemorative collection of books as part of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, The Road to Liberation. The collection is on pre-order at a special price for delivery on May 5th.

Marina Osipova is the author of three novels set during the war and she is joined by USA Today, International bestselling and award winning authors collaborating on the project.

About the collection

Riveting stories dedicated to celebrating the end of WWII.

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

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

The stakes are high—on both sides:

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

Read about the heroic act of a long-term prisoner, an RAF squadron leader on the run in France, a small child finding unexpected friends amidst the cruelty of the concentration camps, a shipwrecked woman captured by the enemy, and a young Jewish girl in a desperate plan to escape the Gestapo.

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

Buy now and indulge in more than 1000 pages filled with suspense, danger, heartbreak, and redemption.

Some of the included books are:

Stolen Childhood by Marion Kummerow

The Aftermath by Ellie Midwood

Too Many Wolves in the Local Woods by Marina Osipova

Liberation Berlin by JJ Toner

Magda’s Mark by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

The authors included in the collection.

Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger   Ellie Midwood   Marion Kummerow  

Head over to buy the collection for only $2.66 for delivery May 5th: Amazon US
And only £2.26 : Amazon UK

Also by Marina Osipova

One of the recent reviews for How Dare the Birds Sing

Reviewed in the United States on January 31, 2020

An ominous beginning with a beautiful bird singing and then the looming cruelty that is hard to understand. How “we” humans do to each other what we do is more times than not incomprehensible. Perhaps it is in wanting to understand that I am so enamored by this author’s brilliant portrayal of war on the eastern front. Within the hard seed of heartbreaking suffering lies courage, faith, resilience, and what makes up the best of the human condition. Bold and defiant, nothing is held back and it is in the integrity of this author’s writing that the book is hard to stop reading. It takes a great talent to turn something as dark as devastating war into a light that shines on what is possible in the worst of conditions. A compelling, excellent read.

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Marina on Goodreads: Goodreads

Connect to Marina via her website: Marina Osipova

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will head over to check this collection out in more detail.. Thanks Sally.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – #WarDrama Marina Osipova, #Memoir Cynthia Reyes, #Thriller Gwen M. Plano, #Poetry Frank Prem

Welcome to this year’s Christmas book fair where I will be sharing the books of all the authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore with their most recent review in the last six months. I will be selecting authors at random so that there is something for everyone in the post.

The first book today which has been recommended by several reviewers is a novella  Order No.227. From Stalin With Love by Marina Osipova.

About the book

“It is necessary to defend each position, each meter of our territory, up to the last drop of blood, to cling for each plot of Soviet land and to defend it as long as possible.” – from Order No. 227.

Based on the actual events on the Eastern Front of World War II, this short story is a rare account of a Soviet penal company, told from a perspective of a real person, the military prosecutor, Jakov Antonovich Krivenkov, and a fictional character, an ordinary Russian woman, Matryona, both caught in the horror of an impossible situation.

427,910 Soviet men shed their blood in defending their motherland in penal military units. They were to stop the enemy regardless of cost. Eighty percent of them did not survive. This is the story of thirteen of them.

One of the recent reviews for the book

anna kunkes 5.0 out of 5 stars War and Humanity September 17, 2019

“Order 227: From Stalin with Love” is the most recent entry in a series of books about World War II, written by Marina Osipova. I certainly enjoyed this one as much as her previous book “A Cruel Roman: A Novel of Love and War.”

The Stalin book consists of two separate, but related stories, about humanity, respect and love for people, regardless of their hope or nation, as well as the way in which people deal with wartime atrocities.

It is helpful for the reader to understand that, under Stalin, many people were arrested on weak charges and imprisoned and executed with no trial.
But it must also be remembered that not everyone involved in Stalin’s war effort necessarily agreed with his policies, and were not heartless, but that they had to do what they had to do in order for themselves to remain alive.

The first of this book’s two stories deals with a commanding officer, who tried to treat those destined to die under his charge with respect and compassion. It also deals with the regret and sorrow he bore in not being able to spare their lives.

The book’s second story deals with a woman who risked her own life in protecting Soviet soldiers and sheltering a German soldier from capture and certain execution. But who came to her home, and what’s happened there? Why did she did this? You will get answers to this questions as soon as you starting to read …

Thank you very much Marina for your excellent righting and I am looing forward to reading your future books with eager anticipation.

Also by Marina Osipova

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Marina on Goodreads: Goodreads

About Marina Osipova

Connect to Marina via her website: Marina Osipova

Now something for the lovers of memoirs with one of the recent reviews for her latest release is Cynthia Reyes, a gardening memoir – Twigs in my Hair.

About Twigs in my Hair

Author Cynthia Reyes returns with Twigs in My Hair, a book about her lifelong passion for gardens and nature and the surprising relationships and events involved. Gorgeous photographs by Hamlin Grange complement a humorous and profound story. A beautiful gift for gardeners and non-gardeners. Readers will meet a variety of interesting creatures, both human and animal, some of whom compete for gardening produce or gardening glory. You may conclude, after reading Twigs in My Hair, that the gardener’s love for growing things swings from reverence to mania. But there is also a deeply emotional side to this story about what happens when a passionate gardener can no longer do what she loves.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Cynthia Reyes has published another excellent memoir, “Twigs in my Hair”, accompanied by lovely photographs from Hamlin Grange. The chapters are well-written, straight from her heart, the vivid descriptions leaving me with the feeling that I was there, too, seeing all through her words. Although I knew I would love this book based on her earlier memoirs, ” A Good Home” and “And Honest House”, I found myself particularly moved by her latest work, as she takes her readers through her early days and gardens in Jamaica, her first real teacher and mentor, Mr. Smith, to all the various gardeners she has come to know, learn from and share with over the years. Beginning with her accounting of her elderly mentor Mr. Smith, it became apparent that one’s relationships with others need to be tended just like our gardens, each person being different, with different needs.

Lives are gardens, blossoming and fruiting if carefully tended. Love of gardening and love of life, even in the face of physical adversity in the form of a serious accident, are the ties that bind this work to the heart of not only any gardener, but to anyone with an interest in life.

Also by Cynthia Reyes

And co-written with Lauren Reyes-Grange – Illustrated by Jo Robinson

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on : Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Cynthia : Goodreads

Connect to Cynthia via her website: Cynthia Reyes

And the next author with recent reviews is Gwendolyn M. Plano for a thriller The Choice: The Unexpected Heroes which is the sequel to the paranormal thriller The Contract co-written with John W. Howell.

About The Choice

The Choice: unexpected heroesis the sequel to The Contract: between heaven and earth. In the first book, a catastrophic political event threatens Earth. The heavenly leadership decides to execute extraordinary measures to ensure the survival and long-term viability of the planet. Two volunteer souls return to Earth and take human form as Brad Channing and Sarah O’Brien. They are ultimately successful in preventing the catastrophe, but lose their lives in the process.

The Choicepicks up where the first book ends, at an Air Force Base in northern California. The base commander invites Brad’s former Navy SEAL instructor to help him determine who is behind the murder of Brad and Sarah. It is evident that their deaths are part of a bigger plan, and the commander has an urgent need to thwart that plan.

A mystery unfolds which implicates key Washington D.C. officials. A confidential team studies the evidence and pursues leads. Eventually, they uncover a traitorous conspiracy that has as its goal: world domination. The pressing question is who can be trusted and who cannot.

One of the recent reviews for the book

This is a sequel jumps in where the first book ended. Someone attempted to assassinate the US President at an Air Force Base in northern California. The central characters, Brad Channing and Sarah O’Brien, from the first book died saving the President. The AF Base Commander, General Taylor, wants to know what happened and why former Navy Seal, Brad Channing, became involved and saved the President. He calls upon the Navy Seal Commander at Annapolis, Admiral Parker, to help solve the mystery. When Adm. Parker arrives at the AF Base, he meets Donna Tucker who had been Sarah O’Brien’s Best-Friend and asks for Parker’s help in finding out what happened to Sarah and Brad. Gen Taylor and Adm. Parker agree to let Donna help because Donna knows where Sarah kept all her journals about the assassination team.

Taylor and Parker are formulating their plan of action when nefarious forces begin killing senior Cabinet officials, starting with the Secretary of Defense who is killed shortly after returning to WASH DC after visiting Taylor and Parker.

Spooks and spies come out of the woodwork, literally bugs hid everywhere. Parker calls in a favor from Seal members across the country, who recover Sarah’s journals’ out from under the feet of the CIA. Her journals make it clear a shadowy character known as the Lion is trying to bring down the US government and other heads of state to reorganize the world in the Lion’s new order. People on and around the AF Base are being killed by remote controlled bombs but Taylor and Parker can’t find the connection that ties it all together.

The powers that be, whether in the Lion’s control or not, are wondering what happened at the AF base and why all the attacks continue at the base, putting even more pressure on Taylor and Parker to make sense of whose is attacking the President and the US government.

In the midst of this turmoil loves blossoms between Parker and Donna and Taylor’s old flame, Julie Underwood, is asked to present an expose on live TV.

Taylor and Parker have based the hopes that once the skullduggery is exposed on TV by Julie, the scheme will fall apart. The press and media assemble at the AF base to listen to Julie’s presentation when a shot is fired.

Did the Lion succeed in his plot or will love conquer all?

This is a fast-paced story with adventure and intrigue in the middle of a love story. It’s an easy read, well-edited and no typos. I enjoyed this book enough to order the first book.

Also by Gwendolyn Plano and co-written with John W. Howell.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

and on : Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Gwen : Goodreads

You can find out more about Gwen on her website: Gwen Plano

I have had the pleasure of reading and reviewing three poetry collections by Frank Prem and his latest The New Asylum: a memoir of psychiatry is receiving wonderful reviews.

About the collection

The New Asylum is the third volume in a series of free-verse poetry anthologies and personal memoirs from Australian author Frank Prem (Small Town Kid, Devil In The Wind).

This collection is an exposé of life in the public psychiatric system, spanning five decades and describing sometimes graphically, sometimes ironically, often poignantly, and always honestly, a search for meaning in extraordinary and often incomprehensible circumstances.

The journey begins with childhood experiences of watching immigrant parents earn their living in the Mayday Hills Mental Asylum… progresses through the oddities and antics of psychiatric nurse training in the 1970s… on to the high-pressure coalface of managing regional centres facing an inundation of modern urban challenges… and finally, settles into the generally calmer waters of a small town residential facility.

Join Frank Prem on his New Asylum journey, and discover what it means to become that particular ‘mental health creature’ that is a psychiatric nurse.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Frank catches the essence of life in a few words, he has the gift of enabling you to see it all.
Because my wife is a nurse, I approached The New Asylum eagerly. I wondered what Franks vivid descriptions would make of psychiatry, a field he knows so well. For a lot of people, it’s a difficult subject and one that I thought might be difficult to capture with empathy.
I needn’t have had any doubts about the content. I was not disappointed in the way Frank describes it. Living with a nurse (of any discipline), you get to hear all sorts of stories about life on and off the wards.

While there is great sadness in the job, there is also humour and hope. The humour is necessary, without it, survival would be impossible for staff faced with the day to day travails of caring for the patients. These poems have it all, poignant, sympathetic and non-judgemental, they are infused with ‘nursiness’, that mixture of no-nonsense and kindness that’s the hallmark of the professional.

And it bought back memories, in fact, the whole collection is stuffed with perfectly observed vignettes of nursing and asylum life; the patients, the staff and the reality of the job. It’s impossible to single one out, they all contain nuggets.

My favourite two are The Smell of Stockings and Not a lot Anymore, In the first, Frank describes nursing shoes perfectly, my wife used to keep hers outside on the window ledge (for obvious reasons). In the other, an old hand sums up the categories of mental illness.
The poems are grouped into sections and take the reader on a journey through the asylum through the eyes of a student and a nurse. There are also observations and stories of life, seen from all sides. And they show that, in the midst of despair, there is hope. There are a cadre of carers, who even if they can’t cure, can make things better.

I recommend The New Asylum, it’s a sensitive handling of a subject that, for so long, has been ignored.

Also by Frank Prem

Read the reviews and buy the books:  Amazon US

And Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Frank on Goodreads: Goodreads

Connect to Frank via his blog: Frank Prem WordPress

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books under your arm.. thanks Sally