Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Coffee Pot Book Club: #BookReview — Crusader's Path by Mary Ann Bernal

The Coffee Pot Book Club: #BookReview — Crusader's Path by Mary Ann Bernal #...: Crusader's Path By Mary Ann Bernal From the sweeping hills of Argences to the port city of Cologne overlooking the ...

Crusader's Path
By Mary Ann Bernal

"Did not the walls of Jericho fall after the Israelites walked around them? … Is not our faith equal to theirs, if not greater?"

Etienne d'Argences did not need much encouragement to heed the call of His Holiness, Urban II. If Duke Robert of Normandy intended to fight in this Holy War, then Etienne would as well.

Avielle had to get away from Cologne, for there is nothing left there for her but bittersweet memories. When Avielle hears Peter of Amiens' sermon, she feels compelled to join his army and march towards Jerusalem.

But when Avielle reaches Constantinople, her life is irrevocably changed forever...

From the mountain tops of Cologne, where the lepers made their home, to the Siege of Jerusalem, Crusader's Path by Mary Ann Bernal is the unforgettable story of two people who find love amongst the carnage of the First Crusade.

What a journey Bernal takes her readers on! Crusader's Path is a richly detailed and emotionally charged story that is utterly unputdownable. With carefully crafted prose and a narrative that is as lucid as it is detailed, Bernal shows us what the Holy War was like for both the Crusaders and those who got in the way of their goal. It is a story of sacrifice and loss, but above everything else, it is a story of love. This is the kind of book that sends shivers down your spine.

The heroine of this tale is a young woman called Avielle. Having suffered so greatly with the loss of her father to leprosy, Avielle has great compassion for the sick and the shunned. She risks her health, and indeed her own life, to nurse those with the disease. Avielle trusts God to keep her safe — a trust that is sometimes misplaced. And yet, her faith isn't shaken, and she continues to look to Him for guidance. Her story is a tragic one. She is a lost lamb that seems forever out of reach of the Good Shepherd. Avielle also carries a tremendous burden of guilt which leads her to some extraordinary situations. She feels compelled to follow Peter's Crusade to the Holy Land, where she witnesses the most appalling atrocities, which makes her question the holiness of the army she is following. However, she is still convinced in divine intervention and indeed, when Avielle chooses to follow her own path and not one ordained by God, she finds herself in the most desperate of situations. Avielle is an extraordinarily complex heroine who is almost like a feather caught in the breeze — she does not quite know where she is going to land. I thought Bernal portrayed Avielle with great skill and diligence. I really enjoyed reading about her and this perilous journey that she finds herself on.

Etienne d'Argences is an intriguing protagonist who is pulled in several very different directions during this book. He single-mindedly pursues his own desires. He is determined to follow Duke Robert wherever he may lead, but by doing so, he sacrifices many people along the way, including his wife. Often Etienne finds himself conflicted between reason and emotion — he knows his wife needs him, but when he is at his estate with the people who love him, he feels stifled and he cannot wait to leave again. Initially, he sees love as an obstacle that he has to overcome, and it isn't until he meets Avielle that he realises that love should have been his goal all along. Bernal has really captured the essence of a Crusader who longs for adventure and the comradeship of his Lord and fellow knights. His relationship with Duke Robert is an interesting one — it is not the usual relationship one would expect to find between a Duke and his knight — they are each other's confidante and above everything else, best friends. His relationship with Avielle has a similar feel to it, except romantic love is also added to the equation. I adored Etienne, and I enjoyed reading about him.

This portrayal of love in Crusader's Path is slightly different when compared to what one would expect from a traditional historical romance. It takes a while for the two protagonists to find each other, which worked exceptionally well for this story. Etienne and Avielle's love is forged in the fires of a Holy War. Their love is a welcomed relief to the horrors of the battlefield and the sickroom. But it is also a love that cannot be withheld, despite the social difference between the two. Etienne and Avielle are not looking for love when they find each other, but they both recognise that they are meant to be together, which is exceedingly romantic.

Bernal has masterfully depicted the horrors of the First Crusade. There are some profoundly upsetting scenes in this book, and there are certainly many casualties in this war. Bernal's portrayal of what became known in history as the Rhineland Massacres of the Jews, in particular, the persecution and the destruction of Jewish communities in Mentz (Mainz) left me reaching for the tissues. The Siege of Antioch was also particularly well-drawn — Bernal captured the horrors in the Crusader's camp as food ran scare and disease took hold. She also demonstrated the rivalry between Godfrey of Bouillon and Raymond IV, Count of Toulouse, fabulously. The historical detailing in this book is staggering. Bernal has captured the very essence of what it must have been like to follow men such as Peter of Amiens (Peter the Hermit) and The Army of Robert Curthose of Normandy which was led by Robert, Duke of Normandy.

If you are looking for your next great Historical Fiction book then look no further than Crusader's Path by Mary Ann Bernal. I think this may well be Bernal's best book yet!

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.


Pick up your copy of
Crusader's Path

Monday, April 27, 2020

The Briton and the Dane: Timeline by Mary Ann Bernal

Dr. Gwyneth Franger is a renowned expert in early medieval England who is set upon learning the truth about the death of Lord Erik, the last descendant of the powerful House of Wareham.  Her quest becomes an obsession, a condition that began with the discovery of a portrait of the tall and valiant warrior with which she forms an extraordinary and inexplicable bond.

Digesting troves of mildewed scrolls and source documentation only enhances her belief that Lord Erik was brutally assassinated by a cabal of traitors in the pay of William the Bastard, shortly before the onslaught of the Norman Invasion.

On an archeological dig in Southern England, her team unearths an Anglo-Saxon fortress, a vast citadel built during the reign of Alfred the Great, which she believes was Lord Erik’s stronghold.  In the midst of her excitement, she is awakened one night from her slumbers by a disconcerting anomaly emerging from the site.

Dr. Franger finds herself transported back to the Dark Ages and at the side of the noble Lord Erik who commands an army of elite Saxon warriors, a swift and mobile force able to deploy quickly throughout the kingdom to ward off invaders.

Witnessing the unrest firsthand, Gwyneth senses that her instincts had been right all along, and she is determined to learn the identities of the treacherous blackguards hiding in the shadows, villains who may well be posing as Lord Erik’s friends and counselors.

Will Gwyneth stop the assassins?  Is she strong enough to walk away and watch her beloved Erik die?  Or will she intervene, change the course of history and wipe out an entire timeline to save the man she loves with all her heart?


Sunday, April 26, 2020

Book Spotlight: The Du Lac Curse: Book 5 of The Du Lac Chronicles by Mary Anne Yarde

God against Gods. King against King. Brother against Brother.

Mordred Pendragon had once said that the sons of Lancelot would eventually destroy each other, it seemed he was right all along.

Garren du Lac knew what the burning pyres meant in his brother's kingdom — invasion. But who would dare to challenge King Alden of Cerniw for his throne? Only one man was daring enough, arrogant enough, to attempt such a feat — Budic du Lac, their eldest half-brother.

While Merton du Lac struggles to come to terms with the magnitude of Budic's crime, there is another threat, one that is as ancient as it is powerful. But with the death toll rising and his men deserting who will take up the banner and fight in his name?

It had been a long time since Guinevere had last ridden a horse. She had loved galloping with the wind in her hair when she was a young girl, but youth was far behind her now. And yet, when she had first looked upon Alden du Lac, the years had rolled away and she was that shy young girl again, looking into the face of the man she had once loved. Alden looked so much like his father that it hurt her eyes and broke her heart to look upon him. Sister Agatha had once told her that time heals all wounds. But that was not true… A heart, once broken, can never be mended. You just learned to live with the pain.

Fate had been cruel, but Guinevere had tried her best not to become bitter. She had been made to marry a Pendragon, but her heart had always been faithful to the House of Du Lac. “Lancelot,” she whispered the name of the only man she had ever loved under her breath. Alden was what she had foolishly once imagined her own son would look like. Only there had been no son, just as there had been no future with the man she had loved. In the end, it was the Church that had saved, not only her life, but also her sanity. No one could stop her from loving God, and God would never stop loving her, no matter what.

And yet, here she was once again choosing Lancelot over God — choosing Lancelot over everything. The child whimpered, and she held onto him a little tighter.

“Shh, be brave,” she soothed.

“I want my Mother,” Jowan, Alden’s six-year-old son and heir, said as he sniffed back his tears.

“I know you do.” Guinevere wanted to reassure the child, tell him that he would see his mother soon. But she would not lie to him. She had been lied to as a child. She had been told that her mother had gone away for a few days, and then when her mother had not returned, she had been told that her mother had been delayed. Only she had not been delayed. She was dead. Guinevere may have been young, but she would have rather been told the truth from the start than to live a lie for two years before her father thought her old enough to understand.

Guinevere kicked the horse on again, and the child fell silent. Guinevere knew what she had to do, but that did not mean she did not have grave misgivings. Guinevere did not know how she would be received, but for the sake of Lancelot’s grandson, she would put aside their differences and ask… No, she would get down on her knees and beg this knight for help. It was the only thing she could do. It was that, or run away. Guinevere had been running for too long. She had been running from her past for years. It was about time she stopped.

Where to Buy

About the Author

Mary Anne Yarde is the multi award-winning author of the International Bestselling Series — The Du Lac Chronicles. Set a generation after the fall of King Arthur, The Du Lac Chronicles takes you on a journey through Dark Age Britain and Brittany, where you will meet new friends and terrifying foes. Based on legends and historical fact, The Du Lac Chronicles is a series not to be missed.

Born in Bath, England, Mary Anne Yarde grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury — the fabled Isle of Avalon — was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were part of her childhood.

Connect with the Author

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The Briton and the Dane: Concordia by Mary Ann Bernal

Travel back in time to late Ninth Century Anglo-Saxon Britain where Alfred the Great rules with a benevolent hand while the Danish King rules peacefully within the boundaries of the Danelaw. Trade flourishes, and scholars from throughout the civilized world flock to Britannia’s shores to study at the King’s Court School at Winchester.

Enter Concordia, a beautiful noblewoman whose family is favored by the king. Vain, willful, and admired, but ambitious and cunning, Concordia is not willing to accept her fate. She is betrothed to the valiant warrior, Brantson, but sees herself as far too young to lay in the bedchamber of an older suitor. She wants to see the wonders of the world, embracing everything in it; preferably, but dangerously, at the side of Thayer, the exotic Saracen who charms King Alfred’s court and ignites her yearning passions.

Concordia manipulates her besotted husband into taking her to Rome, but her ship is captured by bloodthirsty pirates, and the seafarers protecting her are ruthlessly slain to a man. As she awaits her fate in the Moorish captain’s bed, by sheer chance, she discovers that salvation is at hand in the gilded court of a Saracen nobleman.

While awaiting rescue, Concordia finds herself at the center of intrigue, plots, blackmail, betrayal and the vain desires of two egotistical brothers, each willing to die for her favor. Using only feminine cunning, Concordia must defend her honor while plotting her escape as she awaits deliverance, somewhere inside steamy, unconquered Muslim Hispania.


Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Spotlight on novelist Mercedes Rochelle

Mercedes Rochelle

Fun Facts

Oh dear, I’m very shy about making myself the center of attention. That’s the first thing you didn’t know about me. Even when I got married, I was embarrassed about all the fuss (we had the ceremony on our back porch). In school, I loved sitting in the back of the room. It’s very hard for me to make announcements about my own books, which is why I like blog tours!

The second thing you don’t know about me is that I love tchotchke. Not just little baubles, but especially tacky lamps. See? Isn’t that fun?


What writer could live without such inspiration?

The third thing you don’t know about me is that I live in a log home that we built ourselves. Well, we didn’t wield the hammer, but we did design the house ourselves. The arts-and-crafts stonework on the dormers was my idea.

The fourth thing you don’t know about me is my love of artwork. I was self-taught by osmosis; I searched through hundreds of art books. Thirty years ago—way before the internet—I compiled three art indexes arranged by subject: Historical Art Index A.D. 400-1650, Mythological and Classical World Art Index, and Post-Biblical Saints Art Index. These three library books garnered royalties somewhere around $10,000 total, and I thought I was being screwed. Little did I know!

The fifth thing you don’t know about me is I have a weakness for cheese and crackers—specifically Triscuits—and wine. And pistachios. I indulge myself almost every evening. I eat my heavy meal at lunchtime and keep it light in the evening. Life is good. 
The King’s Retribution:
Book 2 of The Plantagenet Legacy

If you read A KING UNDER SIEGE, you might remember that we left off just as Richard declared his majority at age 22. He was able to rise above the humiliation inflicted on him during the Merciless Parliament, but the fear that it could happen again haunted him the rest of his life. Ten years was a long time to wait before taking revenge on your enemies, but King Richard II was a patient man. Hiding his antagonism toward the Lords Appellant, once he felt strong enough to wreak his revenge he was swift and merciless. Alas for Richard, he went too far, and in his eagerness to protect his crown Richard underestimated the very man who would take it from him: Henry Bolingbroke.
About the Author
Mercedes Rochelle

Born in St. Louis MO with a degree from the University of Missouri, Mercedes Rochelle learned about living history as a re-enactor and has been enamored with historical fiction ever since. A move to New York to do research and two careers ensued, but writing fiction remains her primary vocation. She lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.

Where to Buy


Connect with the author

Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Briton and the Dane: The Complete Trilogy by Mary Ann Bernal

The Briton and the Dane novels bring to life the tumultuous ninth century when the formidable Vikings terrorized the civilized world. The epic adventure runs the gamut of deception, treachery, intrigue, and betrayal during a time of war and conquest in Anglo-Saxon Britain.


Sunday, April 12, 2020

New Release - Crusader's Path by Mary Ann Bernal

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?


At first light, Avielle headed to the Bishop’s residence. She had not requested an audience and was surprised to receive such a command. She wondered why the Bishop wanted to see her. Perhaps, to change her mind about joining Duke Robert’s Army? Or he might wish to thank her for serving the Lord’s flock all these months or having the foresight to build the new hospital or both?

Unless I still require the Bishop’s approval for joining His Holiness’s campaign?

The Bishop rarely stayed in his assigned quarters at the Abbey, preferring to conduct church business on the grounds given to him by the Emperor. The small fortification was not far from the royal palace and was guarded by soldiers who had sworn their allegiance to him and not to the ruler of the Byzantine Empire.

Avielle paced herself, a long journey on foot, shorter if she had a donkey, faster if she had a horse. She pulled back her hood as the sun rose in the morning sky, regretting having worn the cloak at all once the heat of the day warmed the land. As Avielle reached the palace gates, she noticed soldiers holding the reins of six horses. She stopped when she saw the red flag with two leopards hanging listlessly on a lance. Should she stay, hoping to see the knight who had caught her eye or continue on her way? One did not keep the Bishop waiting!

At that moment, Duke Robert and his men crossed the courtyard. They mounted the horses in silence, riding slowly into the street. Etienne moved with his animal, as if they were one, riding on the side of the road where Avielle stood. She looked up, her face glowing when their eyes locked. A brief moment without words, a memory to reflect upon in the night, when unable to sleep. Avielle did not move, watching the knights returning from whence they came, and holding her breath when Etienne turned around, not once but twice before disappearing from her view.

If he is Duke Robert, he posed no threat, but if not?

A soldier Avielle had tended to at the hospital found her and offered to be of service.

“The Bishop expects me at his residence; I must not keep him waiting.”

“Ride with me,” the soldier said. “I am driving a cart filled with supplies for the Bishop’s kitchens.”

During the short journey, Avielle questioned the unsuspecting soldier about the leader of the Army encamped in the fields. She mentioned seeing six knights and could he identify any of them.

“I know only one name other than the ducal lord. A favored knight, who is called Etienne. They leave soon for the Holy Land.”

Etienne, is that who you are? Why do you haunt my thoughts?


Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Spotlight on novelist Diana Jackson

Diana Jackson

Fun facts

I was a member of the Monkees fan club! In fact, I made Roger my husband, who makes music with friends in a little band, play 'I'm a Believer.'

I'm scared of heights, especially if I'm tired. No bungee jumping for me.

I still read Winnie the Pooh from time to time.

I used to ring church bells ~ a campanologist. I don't think they have bell towers like that in Scotland. It must be a very English thing, like Morris Dancing ~ which I've never done. (although I think there are a few places in America and Australia too).

I once booked a single flight for myself to fly to Bolivia and then a return ticket three weeks later from Ecuador.


Missing: Past and Present

Following the mysterious disappearance of her husband, Dorothy Gibbons, affectionately known as Lady Pink Hat, trudged the lanes around Drumford, homeless and directionless. Alone, she rolled a dice, reflecting on her life, times both painful and pleasant. She stumbled upon The Grange, which changed the course of her life. In her isolation and surrounded by old books Dorothy began to write ...

An 18th Century aspirant nun, Millie, ran away from The Grange ...

Jamal Hussain, a Syrian refugee and asylum seeker, was fostered under the careful wing of Dorothy until leaving school and finding work. He and his brother settled in a nearby flat until the misguided Ahmed Hussain also disappeared.

With three missing people, who will discover the truth? Is it Millie who is still haunting The Grange until her story is told?

About the Author

After six years in the wilderness, (wandering the Fife Coastal Path and finding her way back to writing, to be precise!) author Diana Jackson is about to launch the second novel in her Mystery Inspired by History series. A retired teacher of sixty-one years, Diana Jackson has published five works since 2009. Her first, historical romantic fiction, Riduna, set in the Victorian era, was published by Pegasus Elliot Mc Kenzie in 2009 but was re-launched by Eventispress in 2012 - a writer’s indie collaborative publisher, through which all her other works have been published:

2012 Ancasta, Guide me Swiftly Home ~ Riduna’s sequel

2013 The Life and Demise of Norman Campbell ~ a memoir

2014 Murder Now and Then ~ a mystery set in two time zones, 1919 and 2019

2017 The Healing Paths of Fife ~ a personal fantasy memoir

After moving to Fife from Bedfordshire in 2014, Diana has had a break from her life as an author to settle into her new life within the Kinghorn Community. The Healing Paths of Fife tells of that journey. Rejuvenated, she finally turned to finish MISSING, Past and Present.

Diana writes, ‘This novel is special to me because it is influenced, in part, by my experience volunteering in a soup kitchen in Bedfordshire and also at a local food-bank here in Fife. My experience as a course team leader and personal tutor at a College of Further Education in the heart of Luton and a teacher of English as a Second Language is also reflected, where I gained valuable insights into social issues and difficulties some young people of today face.’

Where to Buy

Connect with the Author

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Those boots were made for playing at Bashley FC

Yes, those boots were made for playing, and play is what they did.  These boots were worn during the first-ever game at Bashley FC in 1947 by the late Jim Chase and donated 71 years later to Bashley FC by his son Les.  The dirt of the pitch still on the boots. 

Let's make sure Bashley FC's legacy continues. We pride ourselves on being part of the community and nurture new talents, males and females, alike. Here at Bashley FC families come together in safety. We aim is to make this happen again, as soon as the country gets the 'go-ahead' to plan for the future. 

Please help by donating funds to refurbish the grounds, a refurbishment which will be necessary to undertake, since right now we are unable to look after our well-loved football pitch.

If you can help, Click on this Link to Donate

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Dawn - The Eating Disorder Recovery Workbook and Community - sharing Eleanor's story

At 14 years of age, I collapsed and was hospitalized with a possible heart attack.
The diagnosis came back as malnutrition from anorexia. The eating disorder took over, and I almost died. But my story didn’t start in the hospital. It began at the impressionable age of 9. I knew I had to lose weight. All the bullies told me so.
Year-after-year my obsession with losing weight consumed me. In 2014, I lost half my body weight in six months.
The hospitalization was the first time my fear of death overcome my fear of weight gain.
For the next five years, I attended recovery meetings for eating disorders. The work was hard, and yet I remained confused. A ball of emotions swirled inside me, and even though the sessions were good, I felt I was missing something. My mental health still suffered.
Today, I am using my skills as a successful freelance artist and the knowledge of eating disorder recovery to help others going through what I did.
I’ve created a recovery journal called: Dawn: Your guided workbook and journal for eating disorder recovery.
Who Am I? I am nineteen-year-old Eleanor Loseby, an anorexia survivor.
To learn more, please view and consider supporting my Kickstarter campaign. Listen to my story. Look at my book.
Together, let’s educate and help others with anorexia survive and thrive.
*** Please Share ***


Eleanor Loseby
Leicester, UK

My name is Eleanor Loseby, I am a freelance illustrator, published children’s book illustrator and second-year illustration student from the UK. After a 10 ten year battle with Anorexia Nervosa I have designed an illustrated workbook to help others through this difficult time.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

New Release - 5 Short Story Gems: Once Were Brothers / Mr. 100% / A Gladiator's Love / The Last Tasmanian Tiger / Brooklyn Bankster by Lance Morcan

5 SHORT STORY GEMS is a compendium of short stories written by New Zealand author Lance Morcan and published by Sterling Gate Books in 2019/2020. The stories, which have also been released as standalone Kindle ebooks, are aimed at lovers of thrillers, adventure, romance, and historical fiction. Details follow…

ONCE WERE BROTHERS – Life will never be the same for young Benjamin Thomas after disaffected Maoris abduct his identical twin brother in this moving short story adventure set in Nineteenth-Century New Zealand.

Mr. 100% – When New York defense lawyer Madison ‘Mr. 100%’ Harley secures a Not Guilty verdict for a client who confides that he is guilty of the ghastly crimes he was accused of, he sets out to ensure that justice is done.

A GLADIATOR’S LOVE – In this short story set in Ancient Rome, dashing Greek gladiator Leonidas is one fight away from winning his freedom. Throughout his trials, he is sustained by the love of Fatuma, a beautiful gladiatrix.

THE LAST TASMANIAN TIGER – Outdoorsman Charlie Truganini can’t believe his eyes when on a trip into Tasmania’s wilderness he sees a Tasmanian tiger – a carnivorous marsupial considered by most Australians to be extinct.

BROOKLYN BANKSTER – After aging hippy Bill Hogan is taken hostage during a bank heist in Brooklyn, his captors demand a million-dollar ransom for his safe return. The problem is no-one knows who the hell Bill Hogan is. Does he even exist?

Free Kindle edition on Saturday, April 4 and again on April  11 - 12, 2020

About the Author

About the Author

New Zealand novelist and screenwriter Lance Morcan is a prolific author with more than 20 published fiction and non-fiction books to his credit as well as several screenplay adaptations of his work. A former journalist and newspaper editor, he regularly writes in collaboration with his son James Morcan, and their books are published by Sterling Gate Books.