Grog Wars

Who Will Win The War For Love And Beer?

Young Adult - Adventure
322 Pages
Reviewed on 05/22/2015
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Anne Sweazy-Kulju is a B & B Innkeeper-turned-storyteller. Daughter of a history teacher and granddaughter to an Irish yarn-spinner, Anne stirs in a few mediocre psychic abilities to offer book lovers unique adventures in award-winning Historical Fiction.

Sweazy-Kulju is currently the author of three historical fiction novels, with a fourth in progress. "Grog Wars" was winner of WritersType International's March 2013 writers' contest, is nominated for the 2015 Global eBook Award, has earned Children's Literature Classics' Seal of Approval for YA and Mature audiences, the Historical Novels Society 5-Star Review, ReadersFavorites 5-Star Review Medallions (3), and is winner of the 2015 Literary Classics Book Awards silver medal for Young Adult Literary Fiction. Anne has earned other writing awards and honors for earlier novels and short stories. "BODIE" won Venture Galleries' Book of the Moment Club (2/2015) and the 2014 WILLA Literary Award Silver Medal. Her debut novel, "the thing with feathers" is an Amazon darling, and won Contemporary Books' "What To Read Next" Book Poll (10/2014). Anne has won numerous honors for short stories, short-short fiction (Flash) and editorials. Read some of them, plus fun historical posts, on my website:

    Book Review

Reviewed by Kathryn Bennett for Readers' Favorite

Grog Wars: Who Will Win The War For Love And Beer? by Anne Sweazy-Kulju asks the definitive question: who will win the war for love and beer? There is the German brewer who is self made and will give all of it up for the love of his woman, but another man who is lesser than him will try to take everything from him and get rid of the woman. In 1849, Burke Kaufmann survived a journey across the Atlantic in a floating coffin ship, and then he survived the Oregon trail. He had to fight for his life, but manages to keep it and a fortune so that he can send for his wife, only to find himself in more danger when she arrives.

The first word that comes to mind when I think of this book is wow. I picked it up and I could not set it down for a minute. While the Oregon trail era is not one that I know much about, I felt right at home with all of the detail that Anne Sweazy-Kulju put into this book. It flows so effortlessly, and the characters seem to come alive off the page as well fleshed out people. Burke is an amazing man who has come so far and done so much, only to keep getting more roadblocks put up in front of him. He goes through depression like most of us would, but he pulls himself up by his bootstraps and he keeps going on. I love that about him and I highly recommend this book for your next read.

K.C. Finn

Grog Wars is a historical drama novel by Anne Sweazy-Kulju with a subtitle that says it all: Who Will Win The War For Love And Beer? These are the two most important things in the life of brewer Burke Kaufmann, a member of the prestigious German beer-making clan. Burke makes the deadly journey across to America in the mid-1800s, aboard the disease-ridden ships of that time, before continuing his quest for new prosperity by tackling the Oregon Trail. Blacksmith Queensy Gray becomes a favourable ally to the expert brewer, giving him valuable advice so that he may survive and succeed where others fail all around him. What follows is a historical story of the price of success, and how love is hard to come by in a world where prosperity means everything.

One of things I enjoyed most about Grog Wars was the attention to detail in historical travel and its hardships in the nineteenth century. Anne Sweazy-Kulju describes every location in Burke’s trail wonderfully, from steamships to oxen-led carts and the dreaded coffin ships of the Atlantic, as well as the shanghai culture of Portland. The story covers multiple perspectives at different times and locations in the narrative, which gives the novel a truly human feel, especially when we see Burke and Lily suffering when they are parted from one another. Queensy was a particularly charming side man who always made me smile, and overall I found that both the historical elements and the character development of the story made it a rewarding and enjoyable read.

Maria Beltran

Grog Wars by Anne Sweazy-Kulju is a historical fiction novel that unfolds in 1849 in Europe. Hans Kaufmann, the eldest son of a German brewer, dies in a fatal accident and this will change the lives of his siblings Bryce and Burke Kaufmann forever. Their distraught father decides to marry Burke off to Lilly, a woman he barely knows, and sends him to the United States of America to look for better prospects for the family business, leaving his new bride alone. A beautiful and industrious woman with a humble background, Lilly was in love with Josh, a cruel and ambitious man. However, Burke and Lilly soon fall in love. Burke crosses the Atlantic, goes on the perilous Oregon Trail, and lands in Portland, one of the most dangerous places in the world. At that time, he is driven to success by the idea of sending for the woman he loves so that they can start a big family in the New World. Josh, however, will not so easily disappear from their lives.

Grog Wars brings us back to a time when the turmoil in Europe drove many people to seek a better future in the New World. This was a period in our history fraught with danger and adventure, and Burke Kaufmann comes across as an unlikely hero. One of Anne Sweazy-Kulju’s main protagonists is a shy and unassuming lad thrust into a situation that will either turn him into a failure or a man of courage. This is perhaps one of the elements in Burke’s character that make us rejoice when he succeeds and sad when he fails. Equally tantalizing is Lilly - a woman whose only fault, perhaps, is to be born in humble circumstances. Well researched and written in a delightful creative style, Grog Wars is one of those novels where the demarcation line between the antagonists and the protagonists is clear. This does not, however, steal the thunder from the story. Instead, it heightens the reader’s interest to find out what happens to them in the end. Anne Sweazy-Kulju certainly knows a thing or two about how to brew an interesting historical fiction novel and the result is a bubbly, warm and earthy read!

Paul Johnson

In 1849, Burke Kaufmann is dispatched to America to build a new brewery. Back in his own country, he has been forced into an arranged marriage. Soon he falls madly in love with his new bride, but has to quickly leave to catch a ship to America. The trip was accomplished in two deadly steps. First, he had to survived the Atlantic voyage, and then he had to endure the Oregon Trail during one of the most dangerous times in history. But, along with his new friend from Australia, Queensy Gray, Burke finally manages to arrive in Portland, Oregon, possibly the most dangerous place on earth. Although having to fight for his life throughout his dangerous travels, the experience made him enormously wealthy. He is finally able to send for his bride, Lily, who also has dangerous adventures on her travels.

Grog Wars by Anne Sweazy-Kulju isn’t just a story about beer making. It is an epic adventure set in a period of major world changes. The book is very well written with a good plot and strong dialogue. The first quarter of the book was set in the old world, and I found it to be a little long. Once the expedition started, the plot picked up and moved swiftly along. I found the characters to be well developed, the good and the bad. The reader will quickly form a bond with Burke and Lily, and also quickly learn to dislike others. Overall, the author has penned a very good story. I highly recommend it to fans of period adventure fiction.

Kayti Nika Raet

Grog Wars, a riveting historical novel by Anne Sweazy-Kulju begins in Germany in the mid 19th century, with Burke Kaufmann, the youngest son of an innkeeper and brewery merchant, being placed in an arranged marriage by his father and sent off to America to expand the family's brewing enterprise. After surviving a dangerous journey across the Atlantic in what is known as a 'floating coffin,' he soon befriends colorful Australian, Queensy Gray, and they both make their way on the Oregon Trail. But while Burke thought the journey was dangerous, the destination itself may be more so.

Grog Wars by Anne Sweazy-Kulju is an engaging and well researched novel. Everything from the brewing process itself, German life, and the immigrant experience in 1849, to the hardships endured on the Oregon Trail is covered. Sweazy-Kulju knows how to keep a reader's attention and also peppers her novel with guest appearances from notable figures in history. Sweazy-Kulju brings a lot of warmth and a little bit of humor to her characters, and they put on a good face whenever they're confronted with hardship.

My only complaint is that many of the good characters carried with them all of our modern sensibilities and morals. To me, this made them feel less authentically rooted in their time period and would sometimes knock me out of the story. Other than that, and an incident where Native-American characters were said to eat dogs, Sweazy-Kulju has crafted a story that draws you in and keeps you turning the pages. A good read for history buffs, and beer lovers alike.

Patricia Reding

For so long as I’ve been an avid reader (and I cannot remember a time when I was not), I’ve believed that there is something to be learned from most any read. There are truths about personal relationships that may give us insight into the motivations of those in our own lives, and there are new understandings of the world around us that may help us to make our own way through it. On occasion, when I read, I even glean interesting historical nuggets that I might put to later use. So it was with Grog Wars, by Anne Sweasy-Kulju.

In Grog Wars, readers follow Burke Kaufmann, a German Brew Master, forced into an arranged marriage to Lily (who, much to his surprise, he comes to love). But Burke’s father has more plans for him: a trip to the western United States at the height of the gold rush days. Burke sets off, meeting the colorful Aussie, Queensy Gray, along the way. When the two finally arrive in Oregon, Burke sends for Lily. Perhaps the most interesting historical details set out in this adventure, for me, came while following Lily on her travels to the New World by way of Panama. Thereafter, I enjoyed learning a bit about “shanghaiing” as that “art” was practiced in Portland, Oregon, known at the time as the “Shanghai capital.”

In a story I would classify as appropriate for the more mature YA (as well as “adult”) audience, Anne Sweazy-Kulju takes readers, in the Literary Classics award-winning Grog Wars, on an historical adventure. It is one sure to leave them with details of the art of brewing, around-the-world traveling in the mid-1800s, and the history of the “shanghai” practice—any of which could come in handy the next time a Trivia question on one of those subjects happens their way.