Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Briton and the Dane: Legacy by Mary Ann Bernal

Whispered by the wise and the learned. Talked of in hushed tones round luminous firesides. Engraved by awestruck scribes in the scriptoria of the Chronicles.  Against all the odds, great King Alfred defeated a vastly superior Danish army outside Chippenham.

This victory, the sages prophesied, would guarantee peace throughout the land. Or so they thought.

Two years later, Rigr the Bastard, vengeful and seeking to claim his birthright, was defeated in the wilds of East Anglia. His blood smeared berserker warriors vanquished; no quarter asked for - no quarter given.

Now, a further two years later, the Vikings return. Noble Prince Sven instigates a seaborne invasion, fuelled partly by blind rage when he discovers that his brother, Prince Erik, has sworn fealty to the Anglo-Saxon king.  

His own brother: A traitor and a fool.

Erik’s love, Lady Gwyneth, attempts to stop the invasion before it starts by uniting the two estranged brothers, but her scheming only succeeds in making matters worse. Indeed, her interference guarantees the death of thousands of warriors in the freezing, tumultuous North Sea.

So, when the horns of Sven’s monumental fleet of warships are heard off the fogbound coast of Britannia, King Alfred – outnumbered, outshipped and weary of the fray - must rouse his jaded Saxon warriors and lead them to sea, to repel his most formidable enemy yet.

For a host motivated by the spilled blood of the fallen, the spirit of black vengeance, and the delights of a warrior’s reward in Valhalla, is the most fearsome opponent of all.  

Alfred. Sven. Erik. Gwyneth.  Amidst the ferrous reverberation of a battle royale - one or all must die, and the fate of a nation hangs in the balance, one final time.


Monday, February 24, 2020

Spotlight on History Enthusiast Jon Marshall – actor, director, producer - History Roadshow

Jon Marshall has been interested in cinematography since his early years, having been a member of an 8 mm club in his home city of Sheffield, Yorkshire. His artistic expression in film and an insatiable love of history led to the creation of History Roadshow, providing video tours of English Heritage and National Trust properties showcased on YouTube.

Initially, chosen locations held personal memories of past visits, but public interest expanded his vision to include the myriad of sites throughout the United Kingdom. His membership with English Heritage and the National Trust gave him access to every location in the country, comprising a large catalog of famous and not so famous places of interest.

Recently, Jon decided to leave directing, embarking on an actor’s career to narrate the series personally. His work includes Conquest, Crown, and Charter. A trilogy of videos starting with the reign of William the Conqueror through that of King John and Magna Carta.

Jon’s latest endeavor includes another trilogy of videos, The Six Mothers in Law of Henry VIII.

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Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Briton and the Dane: Birthright by Mary Ann Bernal

Two years have passed since Alfred the Great successfully defeated Guthrum, King of the Vikings.

The fair land of England is at peace. That is, until the harmony is threatened by Guthrum’s angry, vengeful, illegitimate son, Rigr, who is hell-bent on usurping his father’s throne.

Rigr demands his Birthright – an acknowledgement that he is the sole heir to the Danelaw, but his father refuses his claim. Rigr assembles his army; a motley, but formidable, cohort of disenchanted warriors.

Fearsome Guthrum, ruler of everything from Kent to Northumbria, is made aware of the threat and conjures his forces, meeting the rebellious host on the field at Thetford. 

Thousands upon thousands of bloodthirsty warriors confront each other on the sunlit, windless plains of East Anglia. The victors will rewrite the course of history, and the fate of England is in the hands of the gods of war.


Sunday, February 16, 2020

Spotlight on actor, director, and author John Reign

John Reign began his career in the music industry, branching out into all venues of the entertainment business after touring the country for MCA Records. His experience with TV and film production led to the founding of Polestar Studios, where he currently serves as CEO.

Originally hailing from Oswego, New York, John and his wife, Rowena, currently reside in Sharpsville, Pennsylvania.

Some fun facts
You may or may not know

John was an Elvis impersonator for MCA Records.

A successful professional magician, John almost died doing Houdini's Water Cell Torture stunt. 

John owned a string of nightclubs in New York.

Grimmets Magic Forest was originally written over thirty years ago to help his son fall asleep.

 John and his wife have raised thirteen children. 

Coming Soon

Polestar Studios award-winning film, Finding Purpose: The Road to Redemption is scheduled for release later this year.

Purchase Links

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Briton and the Dane by Mary Ann Bernal

King Alfred the Great has thwarted the Viking threat against his kingdom of Wessex. Signing a treaty with the formidable Danish King Guthrum, he succeeds in pushing the heathen army back to the rolling fens of East Anglia.

An uneasy peace holds sway: The King establishes a standing army under Lord Richard, who takes command of the citadel at Wareham.

Richard and his army are accompanied by his daughter, Gwyneth, an impetuous and reckless young woman – at once striking, intellectually gifted, but dangerously vain and imprudent.

While Richard broods on the Viking threat, Gwyneth falls in love with an enemy prince - only to discover that she has been betrothed to a Saxon warrior twice her age.  

Refusing to countenance her grim fate, she flees the fortress, but is soon kidnapped by a Viking warrior and taken to the camp of King Guthrum while Saxon search parties scour the land.  

In captivity, a hostage to fortune, and the focus of political intrigue, Gwyneth is submerged in a world of expediency, betrayal, and black treachery. Slowly, she realizes the truth is suspect, nothing is what it appears and her reality cannot be trusted. 

And all the time, against this background, she desires nothing more than to be reunited with her dashing Danish prince.


Saturday, February 8, 2020

Scribbler Tales Presents: Escape from Berlin - a multi-genre selection of short stories by Mary Ann Bernal

Scribbler Tales Presents

Escape from Berlin
Mark Dresdner’s cover is blown, forcing him to flee East Germany, yet he refuses to leave the woman he loves.  Finding the border crossing blocked, and the enemy closing in, will he evade capture or be forced to make the ultimate sacrifice?


Aelia gives herself completely to the man she loves, revealing a life-threatening secret, trusting her husband unconditionally, but is he deserving of her trust?

Deadly Secrets
Lysandra seeks a new life in America, hoping to forget her past, but an accidental meeting with a man who knows her true identity endangers her happiness.

Murder in the First
As judge, jury, and executioner, Bethel decides the fate of the man responsible for her plight, but things go terribly wrong and the predator becomes the prey.

The Ritual
Devona’s initiation into a modern-day pagan sect on All Hallows’ Eve sends the terrified young woman fleeing for her life amidst a raging storm. Escaping the sacrificial altar, will she survive the tempest?

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Crusader's Path by Mary Ann Bernal available for pre-order

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, January 31, 2020

Book Launch - The Heretic Wind by Judith Arnopp

Judith Arnopp

Judith’s novels concentrate on strong female characters from English history. Her trilogy of Margaret Beaufort, The Beaufort Chronicle, provided Margaret with a credible voice. She does much the same in this novel of Mary Tudor, Queen of England. Mary, due to the violent punishment she inflicted on heretics has come to be viewed as little short of a monster. In this novel, Mary isn’t white-washed; she is simply allowed to tell her own story. Judith says:

 ‘I always think it would be awful if, after my death, I was only remembered for the very worst thing I’ve ever done. Everyone is guilty of something, and people like Mary, and her father Henry VIII carried out horrible deeds. Unfortunately, those actions have come to define them. Burning anyone to death seems terrible to us but it was the standard punishment for heresy in the 16th century. It would be wrong to look upon Mary as some half-mad monster, glibly sending Protestants to their death. There was much more to her than cruelty. She was kind, generous and terribly well-meaning. She adored her people but her reign wasn’t as benign as she intended. My study of Mary Tudor revealed a sad, isolated and desperate woman whose intention was to be a good and loving Queen. The fact things turned out rather differently were mostly due to exterior forces. In The Heretic Wind, the mortally sick and embittered Mary looks back on her life and explains to some extent, the reasons why things happened as they did.

The Heretic Wind

Adored by her parents and pampered by the court, the infant Princess Mary’s life changes suddenly and drastically when her father’s eye is taken by the enigmatic Anne Boleyn.

Mary stands firm against her father’s determination to destroy both her mother’s reputation, and the Catholic church. It is a battle that will last throughout both her father’s and her brother’s reign, until, she is almost broken by persecution. When King Edward falls ill and dies Mary expects to be crowned queen.

But she has reckoned without John Dudley, the Duke of Northumberland, who before Mary can act, usurps her crown and places it on the head of her Protestant cousin, Lady Jane Grey.

Furious and determined not to be beaten, Mary musters a vast army at Framlingham Castle; a force so strong that support for Jane Grey crumbles in the face of it, and Mary is at last crowned Queen of England.

But her troubles are only just beginning. Rebellion and heresy take their toll both on Mary’s health, and on the English people. Suspecting she is fatally ill, and desperate to save her people from heresy, Mary steps up her campaign to compel her subjects to turn back to the Catholic faith.

All who resist will face punishment for heresy in the flames of the Smithfield fires.

Judith Arnopp is the author of twelve Historical Fiction novels:

The Heretic Wind; the life of Mary Tudor, Queen of England
Sisters of Arden
The Beaufort Chronicles: the life of Lady Margaret Beaufort (three-book series)
A Song of Sixpence: the story of Elizabeth of York
Intractable Heart: the story of Katheryn Parr
The Kiss of the Concubine: a story of Anne Boleyn
The Winchester Goose: at the court of Henry VIII
The Song of Heledd
The Forest Dwellers

To discover more kindly visit:  

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Scribbler Tales Volumes One - Five - multi-genre anthology by Mary Ann Bernal

Scribbler Tales
Volumes One - Five

Scribbler Tales Volume One

Desperate Measures: What happens when Audrey learns of Paul’s duplicity? Cloning experiments have gone awry.

 Forbidden Lore: Arianna and Ethan are locked inside a haunted cemetery. Will they survive the night?

Forever Lost: Rina and Adrian are star-crossed lovers. Will love prevail?

Sail with Me:  Aaron reflects upon his childhood. Confessions of a military brat.

The Hourglass:  A covenant with the Devil. How far will Flair go to keep Brice alive?

 Scribbler Tales Volume Two

Broken Promises: Madeline’s love for Nathan clouds her judgment as the Wall Street titan denies any wrongdoing.

Deception: Vigilante vengeance. The criminal justice system fails when the guilty walk free.
Endgame: It was a dream government job until Sandy learns the truth. Covert operations shrouded in secrecy.

 Malice: Proving innocence. Andrew’s life falls apart when he is falsely accused of rape.
The Portrait: Demonic possession. All Geoffrey wants is a family, but Holliday and Olivia have other plans.
Scribbler Tales Volume Three

Hidden Lies: When classified schematics are stolen, evidence points to an inside job. Industrial secrets compromised.

Nightmare:  Phantom Legacy. Melanie wants to sell her ancestral home, but the specter of her dreams has other plans

Payback: A psychopathic killer is on the loose. Detective Newport must stop an assassin
targeting prosecuting attorneys.

The Night Stalker:  Deadly Obsession. Pamela must prove her suspicions before the police can protect her

Turning Point: Personal vendetta. Is a decorated firefighter an arsonist? A Fire Marshall wrestles with the truth.

Scribbler Tales Volume Four

Abducted:  Threatened with death. When Katrina Cooper is kidnapped, can the money be raised in time?

Cunning: Lethal folklore. Charlotte stumbles upon the truth behind Transylvanian vampires.

Enamored: Pursuing love. Aging Lady Margaret is besotted with a much younger man.

Reckless: Eluding capture. Peter’s latest victim survives, informing the authorities.

Safeguard: Self-defense or Murder? Sarah awakens covered in blood.

Scribbler Tales Volume Five

Bloodlust: Lilly considers a Satanic covenant on All Hallows’ Eve as she seeks immortality.

Illusion:  Felicity stumbles upon tomb robbers in the Valley of the Queens. Dream vacation has gone awry.

Manhunt: Perilous flight. Tami and Mick plan one final heist, but will it lead to their downfall?

Pandemic: Facing extinction. Dr. Lancaster must find a cure for a mutated virus strain.

Revenge:  Criminal behavior. Can Angela rid herself of her abusive husband? 

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Friday, January 24, 2020

Spotlight on author Bronwyn Elsmore

In tropical beach mode on a small island in Vanuatu a few months ago, 
with some other animal friends.

Some fun facts about author Bronwyn Elsmore

Born under the sign of Libra.

 While I have an amused view of such things, I am drawn to balance and harmony. And I like to think that while the Libran symbol is the balance/scales, the word is similar to that for book – libre/liber/libri. Together they seem to sum me up pretty well. 

For the past dozen years, I’ve kept a record of books I have read in the year.

[Long pause while I complete and review my list for 2019] For the past few years, the total has been between 70-80, with a high of 93.

As usual, they’re non-fiction and fiction in a variety of genres, with Literary Fiction being my first pick. I’m always looking for books that are ultimately uplifting, which doesn’t mean they can’t deal with negative subjects. 

As well as an author of a dozen books, and hundreds of shorter works, 
I am also a playwright.

Along with my reading record, there’s another of the stage-plays I’ve been to. The number of those is showing a decline, for several reasons – reluctance to find parking in the city, I don’t review plays as I used to, and for a similar reason to my views on books – so many are on depressing subjects. However, playwriting has given me much pleasure over the years, and there’s nothing like sitting in an audience seeing actors adding their skills to one’s words.

I’m located in the South Pacific, so when most of the globe’s population are enduring winter, I’m glorying in summer days.

Right now, I’m spending a lot of time caring for my annual crop of monarch butterflies.  I grow plants for the caterpillars, make sure they have enough to eat, keep predators at bay, and bring them inside to develop safely. It takes many hours of my time but it’s lovely to see them fly off. Each butterfly I let go with the words “have a happy life.”

Altogether I spend far too much time on them and each year tell myself next year I won’t do it. But here I am, back into it. So far this season I have liberated 63 butterflies, and there are plenty more to come!

Cats are another thing. I don’t go looking for them, they find me. 

At the moment, I have to accept I have three – not by choice but because they’ve all turned up having decided to live here rather than wherever they came from. Over past years others have come and gone at their will or when I’ve managed to find other homes for them. Then there’s the wild tomcat that turns up for food when he’s in the area.

 One of the present three, Teddybear, I have tried to give away to three different willing new owners. Give him a few days and he’s escaped and walked back. Teddybear has now returned here five times, so he’s made his will very clear – he’s staying!

Bronwyn with #1 cat, McCullum, named after the, then, captain of the New Zealand cricket team

You can find out more about author Bronwyn Elsmore here:

Book Council

You can purchase Bronwyn Elsmore's books here:

  Amazon link

Backwards Into the Future
Everyone knows you can’t go back. Everyone except Mary.  A plum tree has gone. A lemon tree thrives.  A mystery surrounding a boat with painted eyes remains. A novel with the feel of a memoir – I find the combination very appealing.”    

Amazon link
Every Five Minutes
Gina, if that is her real name, sets out for work. Deliberately, she misses the bus and walks into the city, then turns and walks back again. This is not a day for work. Today she will spend with a white dog and a remarkable man. “I hated the story to end. Read it and you'll see. It's a lovely, lovely book.”

Seventeen Seas
Stowaways in lifeboats? Germans claiming deckchairs? When passengers from many places cruise together, there must be fun. Fiction, non-fiction, humor – Seventeen Seas is all of these. For all who have taken a cruise, think they'd like to, or are certain they never would!

Amazon link

These Islands Here — Short Stories of the South Pacific
Literary fiction, stories of life in the South Pacific – pleasure, pain, calamity, comedy, fun, misfortune, loss, triumph. Most have been published previously, several have won short story competitions.