Sergei and Hans by Dennis Santaniello

This is a very unusual book – both as regards the theme and the style. Two WWI soldiers experience the horrors of war, slaughtering mercilessly and seeing their comrades slaughtered. Each one finds himself alone in the most devastating conditions on a mountainside in the Romanian Carpathians, after all of his respective companions have died – accidentally, by suicide or in the relentless gunfire while attempting to push a cannon up the hillside. Neither of them has any real hope or wish to survive. They are starving, bitterly cold, lost among the snow-covered boulders.

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The Road to Nowhere by Catherine M. Byrne

 Isa and her young family emigrate from the tiny Orkney island of Raumsey to Alberta, where her parents are already living. An unfortunate young English girl, Sarah, happens to arrive at the same time, destined to marry a friend of her father’s, who is much older than she. The vastness of the prairie environment and the harsh climate prove enormously challenging for the newcomers. Hard work, tight finances and cruel weather strain Isa and Davie’s marriage and he spends months up north working on the paddle steamers.

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Deep convictions under fire. Flame in the Night by Heather Munn

Flame in the Night by Heather Munn is a captivating drama about the resistance movement in occupied France during WWII. Teenage scouts conceal Jewish children from the Gestapo in remote farms, attics, treetops and caves, while everyday life continues as usual: cultivating vegetables, going to school, shovelling snow, attending church.

An informer, working for the compromising Vichy government, takes up residence in the village. Injured German soldiers from the Eastern front are sent there to recuperate. The pastor and his assistant encourage the faithful to practise nonviolent resistance, and they establish a network of helpers, which enables many Jewish children from Poland or Germany, whose parents have been deported to concentration camps, to go into hiding or to take on new identities and mingle with the locals. However, some lads join the underground armed Maquis. And so the agonising questions of conscience keep surfacing. Read more