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Venice – An Artist’s Delight

April 28, 2017 in Art, Books, Non Fiction, Travel

A sketchers guide to sketchingAmazon buy buttonA treat for the eyes. Venice – A Sketcher’s Guide, by professional contemporary artist, Allan Kirk, is a beautifully illustrated book that captures the essence of this Italian city. It’s Allan’s view that there is no ‘right’ way to sketch and paint but, in his wise commentary that accompanies the numerous colour illustrations, there are hints and tips galore that many will find invaluable.

Coffee tables often groan under the weight of glossy books that seldom get read. This gem is not in that category. It is a work that delights with its fresh approach to artistic endeavour, and that most beautiful of destinations – Venice. Unputdownable. For Venice lovers, and for those planning to make their first visit, this will make a superb companion.

Allan Kirk is a teacher of art who is currently based in the South of France where he offers painting courses to students of all ages.

Purchase this Book

Available now from Amazon, you can purchase this Sketcher’s Guide for Venice and  find great practical tips to improve your sketching using Venice for the inspiration. Use the links below:

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A Tame Colonial Girl – An African Adventure

March 18, 2017 in Books, Travel

Afican adventure This African Adventure begins when a small girl, born in England, travels to Kenya to join her parents who had arrived there overland via the Sahara Desert circa 1947/1948.

It is essentially an intimate diary of her life living as a colonial girl amongst the natives of Kenya at a time when there was a hierarchial class system and when decent white girls were not supposed to be too associated with their black counterparts.

As she matured into adulthood her working life led her to encounter many prominent people in the Kenyan government.

She ran a business in Mombassa on the coast of Kenya and for a short time she and her partner worked for an ‘Aid Transportation Company’ in the port of Assab, Eritrea, where living in a tent proved to be better accommodation than the best local hotel.

Having given up her business on the Kenya coast, she and her partner left the beach resort to start a Safari Company. This move saw them visit nearly every point of interest on the map of Kenya. She was an English girl who had learned how to survive and live in Africa.

The author ‘Wendy Stanley’ shares her times of heartbreak and suffering, such as her parents separation after many years of fighting together as a team to survive in a new country that seemed like a million miles from where they had come from.

Life isn’t all heartbreak and suffering  however, Wendy also shares times of great joy, especially the joy that came with the birth of her two children and the way of life they had for more than sixty years in a country she came to adore…. her beloved Kenya.

A Novel Out of Africa




Purchase this Book

Available now from Amazon, you can purchase this Story of A Tame Colonial Girl and  be reading it in minutes if you chose the Kindle version. Use the links below:

Nazis in Ukraine – Driven Into Exile

February 15, 2017 in Books, Espionage, Military Fiction

Nazis in UkraineNazis in Ukraine

The latest novel by award winning author Maria Dziedzan is a story of German occupation and what happened with the Nazis in Ukraine during the second world war.

The story begins in 1943 at a time when the Germans occupied the whole of Ukraine. Hitler’s plan was remove all Ukrainian rights to their land, use the country as living space for the German population and to utilise the Ukrainian people as slave labour. The programme, overseen by Goering, would take more than two million young men and women from the Ukraine to work on farms, in factories and as domestic servants in Germany.

For anyone that did not comply retribution was swift and brutal.

Driven into Exile tells the story of Natalya and her involvement with the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, the resistance they put up to the occupying forces and the consequences that fell upon, not only the resistance fighters, but their families and their friends.

Any association with partisans can lead to death under Nazis occupation. And teenager Natalya had forged a very close link indeed. When her lover, and secret husband, is betrayed and ambushed, she must flee her home in Ukraine to avoid endangering the lives of her mother and sisters.

Transported to Germany as forced labour, she hides in plain sight among her enemies where she performs the role of the obedient maid.

But as the Reich begins to crumble under the weight of the Allied onslaught, Natalya must take more dangerous and arduous work alongside other slave labourers in German armaments factories.

As the Germans started to lose battles, especially against the Russians, a new threat would emerge. If the Ukraine wanted independence they would not only have to stand up to the Nazis, but also the Red army.

For many of the millions of displaced persons, there was an easy solution at the end of the war, they could simply return to their lost countries. But for some that was not so simple, Stalin treated any returnees to Ukraine as traitors who were either summarily executed on returning home or deported to Siberia, often to be worked to death in the gulags. Agreements between the Allied forces and Stalin meant that many had no choice, they were sent back to Ukraine and had to face Stalin’s wrath.

Others like Natalya, however, fell into a loophole. They had not been citizens of the USSR in 1939, because Poland had control of Western Ukraine. These people were stuck in limbo and when forced repatriation ceased they were put into refugee camps while their fate was decided. Then a lifeline was thrown when the Allied countries found themselves short of labour. Suddenly thousands of displaced persons could relocate to Britain, Australia, America and Canada to be used as cheap labour. Effectively they were Driven Into Exile.

Purchase this Book

Available now from Amazon, you can purchase this Story of Nazis in Ukraine and  be reading it in minutes if you chose the Kindle version. Use the links below:

Also available on Smashwords in multiple formats including ePub

You can find out all about Maria and her other books via this link Maria Dziedzan

German Occupation of the Ukraine


Driven Into Exile is the second book in the My Lost Country series but it is a complete story in itself. Certain characters reappear from the first novel, When Sorrows Come, and different lives are revealed. If you prefer to read When Sorrows Come first you can use this link to find out more about the book and where you can buy it.

Maria Dziedzan became an award winning author when she published her debut novel When Sorrows Come and this, her second novel written in the same inimitable style, is one not to be missed. Especially if you are interested in the events surrounding the Second World War

Not necessary, but if you prefer it you can read Maria’s first book before this one When Sorrows Come . Unless you have read it already of course 🙂

Bolshovik and Stalanist Russia

When Sorrows Come – A Story of Russian & German Oppression

November 19, 2016 in Books, Military Fiction

Bolshevik and Stalinist RussiaUnrest and repression are common bedfellows for the Ukraine. First it was the Bolshevik and Stalinist Russia and then a Nazi occupation.  When Sorrows Come draws from this period in history starting in 1939 when Stalin took Western Ukraine from the Poles and began a reign of terror that saw many Ukranians deported to almost certain death in Siberia.

Then in 1941 it was the turn of the Nazi’s to invade and abuse the Ukraine, any hopes that they would be allowed to govern their own country were soon dashed. Hitler enslaved much of the indigenous population to work on the land and feed the German people. Even when a Ukranian division of the Waffen SS was formed there was no respect, they were just sent to fight on the Eastern Front and essentially used as cannon fodder.

Any lingering hopes of independence were dashed by the Red Army’s rampage west from Stalingrad. When they reached Halychyna in Western Ukraine, Stalin instructed the NKVD to destroy the ambitions of the Ukrainian people of achieving independent nationhood. The brutality with which this was done even exceeded their slaughter of political prisoners in 1941. The Ukrainian Insurgent Army was remorselessly destroyed as were any citizens thought to have sympathy with the partisans.

When Sorrows Come is the first novel in Maria Dziedzan’s My Lost Country Series. It won The Big Bingham Book Read in 2015 and was one of four finalists for the Historical Novel Society Indie Award 2016.

When teenager Anna’s family in Ukraine is torn apart by Stalin’s bullies, she and her mother must try to survive the Russian occupation of their village. But the violence intensifies in the Second World War when the Nazis invade, and as the Fascists’ cruelty affects those close to her, Anna’s resilience grows. She has the will to survive the occupying force despite the dangers.

When her lover joins the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, she decides to help the partisans in their fight against powerful enemies. Her courage does not fail as she loses those she loves…but being brave doesn’t guarantee survival.

The second novel in the series will be published in early 2017.

Here is a little look at the storyline for When Sorrows Come:

The door opened and someone peered out, holding a lantern. He saw infantrymen of the Red Army on his porch wearing crumpled greatcoats with red collar patches. On their heads, soft ushankas, the red star prominently displayed at the front, framing hard faces.

“Who’s there?” he asked in Polish, hoping his eyes were deceiving him.

when sorrows comeThe leader nodded to one of his men, who put his boot in the opening and leaned on the door with his shoulder.

“Soldiers of the Red Army, comrade,” announced the leader as he barged in. “And you are Enemies of the People!”

The Polish farmer stepped back quickly in order to avoid being knocked over. In his night-shirt he was shocked and frightened, but he looked almost as if he had been expecting them. The rumours had begun to spread of Polish families being turned off their farms and being sent God knew where. He began to gather his wits. “You can’t just barge in here. This is our home…”


Purchase this Book

Available now from Amazon, you can purchase this Story of Ukranian Oppression and  be reading it in minutes if you chose the Kindle version. Use the links below:

Also available on Smashwords in multiple formats including ePub

You can find out all about Maria and her other books via this link Maria Dziedzan

Bolshevik & Stalinist Russia

This a fabulous book that looks at the history of Europe and the period around the second world war. It also makes you wonder if history is about to repeat itself. Only this time it is is not Stalin who is the threat but rather a saber rattling Putin that has seems to have aspirations towards European, if not world, domination.

Also now available is Maria’s second book Driven Into Exile

Nazis In Ukraine


Out of Africa – The House Called Mbabati

June 19, 2016 in Books, Fiction, Romantic Novels, Suspense Thriller

Out of Africa - The House Called MbabatiLike many people, you may have been waiting for Samantha Ford’s second novel for quite a while, but I can assure you it was well worth the wait and finally June 2016 is the month that her second book out of Africa has been published.

Samantha’s first novel The Zanzibar Affair was a very well received and highly acclaimed debut novel which used Africa as a backdrop to her story telling. Once again she has drawn on her knowledge and experiences of Africa, its culture and the lives of the rich and privileged to weave an even more tangled web of mystery, intrigue and suspense in this, her second superb novel. You can read more about The Zanzibar Affair with this link.

Here is a little look at the storyline for A House Called Mbabati:

The Mother Superior crossed herself quickly. “May God forgive them both,”she murmured as she locked the diary and faded letters in the drawer.

Deep in the heart of the East African bush stands a deserted mansion. Boarded up, on the top floor, is a magnificent Steinway Concert Grand, shrouded in decades of dust.

In an antique shop in London, an elderly nun recognises an old photograph of the mansion; she knows it well – it is called Mbabati.

A Novel Out of AfricaSeven thousand miles away in Cape Town a woman lies dying, she whispers one final word to journalist Alex Patterson – Mbabati.

Sensing a good story, and intrigued with what he has discovered about the dead woman’s past, Alex heads for East Africa in search of the old abandoned house.

He is totally unprepared for what he discovers there; the hidden home of a once famous classical pianist whose career came to a shattering end; a grave with a blank headstone and an old retainer called Luke, who is the only one left alive who knows the truth about two sisters who disappeared without trace more than twenty years earlier.

Alex unravels a story which has fascinated the media and the police for decades. A twisting tale of love, passion, betrayal and murder; and the unbreakable bond between two extraordinary sisters who were prepared to sacrifice everything to hide the truth.

Mbabati is set against the magnificent and enduring landscape of the African bush – where nothing is ever quite as it seems.

Purchase this Book

Available now from Amazon, you can purchase this romantic suspense novel and  be reading it in minutes if you chose the Kindle version. Use the links below:

You can find out all about Samantha and her other book via this link Samantha Ford – Romantic Novelist

Out of Africa

The House Called MbabatiThe House Called Mbabati by Samantha Ford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having read Samantha’s first book ‘The Zanzibar Affair’, I knew I was going to be in for a treat and I wasn’t disappointed. The story has so many twists and turns it keeps you guessing right to the end as investigative journalist Alex Patterson unravels a complex story of lies, deceit and injustice.

Sparked by the death of what appeared to be lonely old woman who at first sight looked like a homeless and destitute vagrant. He soon discovered she was a far cry from the impression she had created of herself. He paid for her funeral and started to investigate exactly who she was and where she had come from. But he had no idea where or how far his investigation was going to take him.

View all my reviews

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