When you make a conscious choice to be happy, no one can take it away from you because no one gave it to you: you gave it to yourself.

A quote from April Green's - Bloom For Yourself Journal

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Welcoming Malve von Hassell and her book - The Amber Crane - to my blog

 Today I'm welcoming Malve von Hassell and her book - The Amber Crane - to my blog as part of the blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club (founded by Mary Anne Yarde)

I'm delighted to share an excerpt with you all, but first I will introduce the book.

The Amber Crane

Chafing at the rules of the amber guild, Peter, an apprentice during the waning years of the Thirty Years’ War, finds and keeps a forbidden piece of amber, despite the risk of severe penalties should his secret be discovered.

Little does he know that this amber has hidden powers, transporting him into a future far beyond anything he could imagine. In dreamlike encounters, Peter witnesses the ravages of the final months of World War II in and around his home. He becomes embroiled in the troubles faced by Lioba, a girl he meets who seeks to escape from the oncoming Russian army.

Peter struggles with the consequences of his actions, endangering his family, his amber master’s reputation, and his own future. How much is Peter prepared to sacrifice to right his wrongs?

Trigger Warnings:

References to rape, Holocaust, World War II, violence

You can purchase a copy of the book via -

Universal Link:

Now for the excerpt -

Excerpt from Chapter 6 GIRL WITHOUT A NAME

Peter shivers. His bed is gone, and he is standing in a strange room.

Light comes through a small opening. The air feels cold and clammy. He rubs his eyes as he takes in his surroundings. A bed stands at a slant in the middle of the room, bare, with its mattress slashed open like a gaping wound. As his eyes adjust, he can see a chest of drawers, two of the drawers pulled out, the top one hanging crookedly in its tracks, its contents spilled onto the floor. A cast-iron stove is covered in dust, and a chipped white enamel pitcher and bowl have been upended and tossed onto the floor.

On a big chair in the corner, someone is curled up underneath a green and red-checkered woolen covering.

On the floor close to the chair sits the same beast Peter remembers from the previous dream, its head raised and growling softly. The fluffy hair around its ears, combined with its impossibly long slightly curved snout, gives it a curiously bird-like appearance, a grey raptor ready to pounce on its prey.

The sleeper is awake, staring at him and clutching the blanket with one hand, the other hidden in its folds.

You are a girl,Peter exclaims as he takes in the sleepers face and the long thick braid resting on top of the blanket. His voice sounds muffled as if he is talking through thick cloudbanks.

The girl moves her arm and pulls out an odd-looking pistol from beneath her leg. She points it directly at him, scowling furiously.

Peter gulps and takes a step backward. I am not going to hurt you.

“Don’t come any closer.Her voice is scratchy as if she has not spoken in a while. I’ll shoot, I promise you that.Then she adds with a note of puzzlement, Who are you? You dont sound Russian.

Russian? Are the Russians fighting against the Swedes?

Are you daft?She still holds on to the pistol. Where are you from? Are you a refugee?

I live in Stolpmünde.”

“Stolpmünde? Why are you here? Shouldnt you be going west?

What is here? And what do you mean going west?

Elbing, or at least somewhere nearby. I lost track.

We have not seen any refugees for a while,Peter says slowly, shaking his head. None of this makes any sense. Elbing—that is almost halfway to Königsberg. With Denmark out of the war, it has been quieter.This strange girl must be confused. Will you stop pointing that pistol at me?

Denmark?She frowns at him. What are you talking about? Denmark is occupied, and they arent fighting at all. And Swedes? Pistol? Are you serious? And why are you wearing such strange clothes?

What do you mean? And what about Russians?

I saw you the other day. You were in a ditch, watching me,the girl says accusingly. And last night, I dreamed of you. Wait.Her voice grows faint. Come back.

Malve von Hassell 


Malve von Hassell is a freelance writer, researcher, and translator. She holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the New School for Social Research. Working as an independent scholar, she published The Struggle for Eden: Community Gardens in New York City (Bergin & Garvey 2002) and Homesteading in New York City 1978-1993: The Divided Heart of Loisaida (Bergin & Garvey 1996). She has also edited her grandfather Ulrich von Hassell's memoirs written in prison in 1944, Der Kreis schließt sich - Aufzeichnungen aus der Haft 1944 (Propylaen Verlag 1994). She has taught at Queens College, Baruch College, Pace University, and Suffolk County Community College, while continuing her work as a translator and writer. She has self-published two children’s picture books, Letters from the Tooth Fairy (2012/2020) and Turtle Crossing (2021), and her translation and annotation of a German children’s classic by Tamara Ramsay, Rennefarre: Dott’s Wonderful Travels and Adventures (Two Harbors Press, 2012). The Falconer’s Apprentice (namelos, 2015) was her first historical fiction novel for young adults. She has published Alina: A Song for the Telling (BHC Press, 2020), set in Jerusalem in the time of the crusades, and The Amber Crane (Odyssey Books, 2021), set in Germany in 1645 and 1945. She has completed a biographical work about a woman coming of age in Nazi Germany and is working on a historical fiction trilogy featuring Adela of Normandy.

You can connect with the author via these platforms -





Book Bub:

Amazon Author Page:


You can learn more about the author and the book by visiting the other blogs on this tour.

 That's it for now.

Till the next time.

Take care Zoe.



Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Welcoming A B Michaels and her book - The Art of Love _ to my blog

 Today I'm welcoming A B Michaels and her book - The Art of Love (The Golden City Book 1) - to my blog as part of the blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club (founded by Mary Anne Yarde)

I'm delighted to share an excerpt with you all but first I will introduce the book.

The Art of Love

Your Journey to The Golden City begins here...


A tale of mystery, social morality and second chances during America’s Gilded Age, The Art of Love will take you on an unforgettable journey from the last frontier of the Yukon Territory to the new Sodom and Gomorrah of its time - the boomtown of San Francisco.

After digging a fortune from the frozen fields of the Klondike, August Wolff heads south to the “Golden City,” hoping to put the unsolved disappearance of his wife and daughter behind him. The turn of the twentieth century brings him even more success, but the distractions of a hedonistic mecca can’t fill the gaping hole in his life.

Amelia Starling is a wildly talented artist caught in the straightjacket of Old New York society. Making a heart-breaking decision, she moves to San Francisco to further her career, all the while living with the pain of a sacrifice no woman should ever have to make. 

Brought together by the city’s flourishing art scene, Gus and Lia forge a rare connection. But the past, shrouded in mystery, prevents the two of them from moving forward as one. Unwilling to face society’s scorn, Lia leaves the city and vows to begin again in Europe.

The Golden City offers everything a man could wish for except the answers Gus is desperate to find. But find them he must, or he and Lia have no chance at all.

Publication Date: 4th May 2014

Publisher: Red Trumpet Press

Page Length: 360 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

You can purchase a copy of the book and the others in the series via -

The Art of Love:

The Depth of Beauty:

The Promise:

The Price of Compassion:

Josephine’s Daughter:

The Madness of Mrs Whittaker:

Now for the excerpt -

God, it feels good to hit something. Gus set up a rhythm with the punching ball, hitting the suspended rubber bag dead on in a series of short, quick jabs that drove it back and forth into the back corner walls of the gym. He kept up the pace until sweat started dripping down his face and onto his chest, and then he punched some more. Some men liked working out with the newer, heavier bags, but Gus liked the challenge of punching the fast-swinging ball bare knuckled before it punched him back. His chest heaving, he began to angle his jabs in order to catch the return swing from different angles.

“Ah, Mr. Hansen was right. He said you’d probably be here, beating the crap out of that thing. You picturing somebody’s face on that?” Will Firestone’s drawl was unmistakable.

Gus caught the ball just before it swung back and hit him between the eyes. “Yeah, do the initials W.F. ring a bell?” He grabbed a nearby towel and wiped his face and arms.

“Funny,” Will said. He gestured to Gus’s reddened hands. “Maybe you should have gone a few rounds with Jack Root instead of Kid McCoy. You could have been the first ever light heavyweight champ.”

“Right.” Gus drank from a jug of water sitting near his towel. “I assume you’re here for some other reason than giving me grief?”

“Yes, actually. Have you got time for a beer?”

Gus nodded. “Be out directly.” He headed for the locker room for a quick shower and a change of clothes. In fact, he was glad to see his partner; anything to take his mind off the mess he’d gotten himself into with Lia.

Ten minutes later Gus and Will were drinking a couple of Anchor Steams over at Fidelio’s Crab Shack, across the street from the Y where Gus habitually worked out.

“What do you need?” Gus asked.

“Not me, friend. I’m here for you. You’ve been out of sorts lately. Mr. Hansen’s noticed, I’ve certainly noticed. You think you’re good at hiding whatever’s going on, but you aren’t.”

Gus snorted. “So, now you’re not only my business partner, you’re my very own Sigmund Freud? When did I get so lucky?”

Will wouldn’t let up. “Look, I told you months ago that Lia was somebody special and that I didn’t want you hurting her. You remember?”

Gus nodded reluctantly.

“And you remember I told you that you were like clockwork when it came to winding down your relationships?”

“You don’t have to remind me.”

“Yeah, well I do. Something’s going on because you’re acting much the same way you’ve acted every time you were ready to cut bait, and I swear, Gus, if you—”

“Okay. All right,” Gus admitted. “Something’s not going right, but it’s not what you think.”

The look Will gave Gus could have cut glass. Shit, on top of everything else, his own partner was ready to smack him. Well, he’d probably do the same if he were in Will’s shoes.

“So, spill it.”

Gus paused and took a long pull on his beer. This was harder to get out than he thought. But he needed to vent or he really was going to hit somebody. “All right. Not that it’s any of your damn business, but I’ve gone and done it. Plain and simple, I’ve fallen head over ass in love with Lia. She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to a lout like me, and that includes the Klondike.”

“Whoa,” Will said, leaning back in his chair. “That’s just about the last thing I thought you were going to say.”

“Well, I said it and I meant it.”

“So what’s the problem? She doesn’t feel likewise?”

“No, I’m pretty sure she feels the same way.”

Will tipped his glass to Gus’s. “So, what’s the problem? You pick a date, you rent a hall …”

Gus rolled his shoulders. “Ah, not so fast. There’s a slight problem.”

“Yeah, what? Don’t tell me she doesn’t want to get married. I mean, I wouldn’t blame her after a messy divorce and all, but …”

“I don’t know, I haven’t asked her. But knowing Lia, I think she’d want to.”

“Well, what are you waiting for? If you want her, you’d better claim her before somebody else does. Marriage is the logical next step. That’s what they tell me, anyhow.”

“Except for one hitch …”

“What’s that?”

“I’m already married.”

Will glared at Gus and grabbed him across the table. “What?! Why, you miserable prick—”

Gus stopped Will’s arm and broke his grip. “Hear me out,” he growled.

“Damn you, this better be good.” Will was breathing hard. Gus had never seen him so ornery.

“Look, nine years ago I thought with my cock instead of my head, and I got married. We went up north and had a baby girl right away. Mattie, my wife, couldn’t hack it, so she took our daughter back down to Seattle. We both knew our marriage wasn’t workin’ out, but she said she’d wait for me … only she didn’t.” He counted off on his fingers. “I checked the boarding house where she’d lived. They said she’d gone down south with a new friend she’d met named Bethany Jones. I met the woman down at her family’s ranch. She said Mattie never made it down that far.”

“What happened?”

“Supposedly she thought I was dead and took off with an old childhood friend she ran into—some bloke I’d never heard of—while they were taking a break from their journey here in San Francisco. I’ve had Pinkerton’s men on it for years. Every time they find a missing person, every time they find a woman’s body …” his voice hitched. “You don’t know what it’s like, not knowing where your little girl is, whether she’s safe or has enough to eat, or …” He stopped, took another swig of beer. Pulled himself together. Finally, he looked up at Will. “So, you know that saying ‘between a rock and a hard place’? Well, that’s precisely where I am.”

“So, I take it Lia doesn’t know any of this.”

Gus shook his head. “No. And I can’t bear to tell her.”

“Why not?”

“Why not? Because there’s no way in hell a woman like her is going to stick with a man who can’t give her everything, including a ring on her finger. And I can’t give her that ring because I can’t find my goddamn wife to get a divorce from her—that’s why not.”

Will straightened in his chair and pulled out a small notebook and pencil from the inner pocket of his jacket. “What the name of that rooming house?”

 “The Empire. Run by an old biddy named Partridge, I think. Yeah, Eugenia Partridge. Why?”

“I’m headed up to Seattle to seal that deal with Rochester. If I have time, maybe I’ll poke around. See what I can find out.” He shrugged. “Couldn’t hurt.”

Gus shook his head. “No point in it. If the Pinkertons couldn’t find any leads, I doubt you will.” He rose from the table and reached for his wallet. “But thanks all the same. I appreciate it.”

Will stayed Gus’s hand. “I’ll get this,” he said, pulling out his own billfold. “But, Gus?”


“You know you’ve got to tell her.”

Gus nodded and heaved a sigh. “And that, Dr. Firestone, is why I’ve wanted to punch the hell out of something all week.”

A B Michaels

A native of California, A.B. Michaels holds mastersdegrees in history (UCLA) and broadcasting (San Francisco State University). After working for many years as a promotional writer and editor, she turned to writing fiction, which is the hardest thing she's ever done besides raise two boys. She lives with her husband and two spoiled dogs in Boise, Idaho, where she is often distracted by playing darts and bocce and trying to hit a golf ball more than fifty yards. Reading, quilt-making and travel figure into the mix as well, leading her to hope that sometime soon, someone invents a 25+ hour day.

You can connect with the author via these platforms -






Amazon Author Page:


You can learn more about the book and the series by visiting the other blogs on this tour.

That's it for now.

Till the next time.

Take care Zoe






Welcoming Tracey Warr and her book - The Anarchy - to my blog.

Today I'm welcoming Tracey Warr and her book - The Anarchy (Conquest book 3) - to my blog as part of the blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club (founded by Mary Anne Yarde)

I'm delighted to share an excerpt with you all but first I will introduce the book.

The Anarchy

Unhappily married to Stephen de Marais, the Welsh princess, Nest, becomes increasingly embroiled in her countrymens resistance to the Norman occupation of her family lands. She plans to visit King Henry in the hope of securing a life away from her unwanted husband, but grieving for the loss of his son, the King is obsessed with relics and prophecies.

Meanwhile, Haith tries to avoid the reality that Nest is married to another man by distracting himself with the mystery of the shipwreck in which the Kings heir drowned. As Haith pieces together fragments of the tragedy, he discovers a chest full of secrets, but will the revelations bring a culprit to light and aid the grieving King?

Will the two lovers be united as Nest fights for independence and Haith struggles to protect King Henry?

Publication Date: 2nd June 2020

Publisher: Impress Books

Page Length: 218 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/ Historical Romance

You can purchase this book and others from the series via -

The Daughter of the Last King (Book 1) -

The Drowned Court (Book 2) -

The Anarchy (Book 3) -

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Amazon CA:

Amazon AU:

Barnes and Noble:



Now for the excerpt -

Chapter 21

The Beard

‘Hold still, man!’ Gwenllian cried. Einon, one of the men serving Cadell’s father, sat before her as she struggled to weave the tiny, folded message into the strands of his bushy, red beard. Cadell pinched a hand over his nose and mouth to stop his snort of laughter, but it was near impossible to hold it all in, and his stepmother Gwenllian glanced sidelong at him. ‘You’re not helping, Cadell!’ she exclaimed.

Einon was also doing his best not to laugh. ‘It’s a mite ticklish, my queen.’

Gwenllian sat back to take a frustrated break from her third attempt to entwine the parchment in the beard. Twice before she had almost got it suspended in the wiry red hairs so that it was invisible and carefully couched. But as soon as Einon stood and drew himself up to his considerable height, the tiny letter dropped to the floor. ‘This is no good! It won’t work!’ Gwenllian groaned, her face pink with frustrated effort.

‘You’ve so nearly done it, mother.’ Cadell’s stepmother was not renowned for her patience. ‘Here, let me try.’ Cadell held his hand out for the small, folded square. He had penned the letter. His parents did not write, but he had learnt to do so during visits to his Aunt Nest’s household and he had written the message to the Norse lord Raegnald in a minuscule script. It read,

Gruffudd, King of Deuheubarth, sends love to his foster-brother Raegnald. I mean to attack the Normans at Cardigan, aided by the sons of Gwynedd. Will you send boats and men to assist me in this endeavour and help me to regain the kingdom that is rightfully mine?


Cadell’s slender fingers nested the message deep into the beard. He plaited strands around it so that it could not fall—not when Einon rode, or rolled over in his sleep, or stood in a gale-force wind on the ship taking him to Dublin and Raegnald’s hall. ‘There!’

The man looked down. ‘Can’t see it at all.’

‘It will hold?’ Gwenllian asked.

‘It will hold,’ Cadell said with certainty, looking at Einon. Then he turned to Gwenllian. ‘But is this wise mother?’


‘To trust our lives and throne to your brothers?’

‘Go, with my thanks and hopes,’ Gwenllian told Einon, her brusque manner belying her words.

‘My brother and I will be ready at the gate shortly,’ Cadell told him courteously in an effort to mitigate Gwenllian’s tone.

Einon tucked the forked ends of his loaded beard into his belt, bowed low to them and strode from the room.

‘I don’t want to speak in front of him. That is why you wrote the letter rather than sending a message by mouth,’ Gwenllian told Cadell.

‘Yes, I know.’ This way Einon could not have the message tortured from him if he were captured by the Normans at the port. He would be travelling from Llansteffan. That had been Cadell’s idea too. Nest had invited her nephews to visit her again and Einon would travel as part of the boys’ escort, and then slip away to Ireland by boat at night.

‘No, it’s not wise,’ Gwenllian stated. ‘I don’t trust my brothers at all, but is it wise for us, the royal family of Deheubarth, to sit here in this backwater stirring potage all day long?’

Cadell shook his head. ‘No, for sure. That is not wise.’

Tracey Warr

Tracey Warr (1958- ) was born in London and lives in the UK and France. Her first historical novel, Almodis the Peaceweaver (Impress, 2011) is set in 11th century France and Spain and is a fictionalised account of the true story of the Occitan female lord, Almodis de la Marche, who was Countess of Toulouse and Barcelona. It was shortlisted for the Impress Prize for New Fiction and the Rome Film Festival Books Initiative and won a Santander Research Award. Her second novel, The Viking Hostage, set in 10th century France and Wales, was published by Impress Books in 2014 and topped the Amazon Australia charts. Her Conquest trilogy, Daughter of the Last King, The Drowned Court, and The Anarchy recount the story of a Welsh noblewoman caught up in the struggle between the Welsh and the Normans in the 12th century. She was awarded a Literature Wales Writers Bursary. Her writing is a weave of researched history and imagined stories in the gaps in history.

Tracey Warr studied English at University of Hull and Oxford University, gaining a BA (Hons) and MPhil. She worked at the Arts Council, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Chatto & Windus Publishers, and edited Poetry Review magazine with Mick Imlah. She also publishes art writing on contemporary artists, and in 2016 she published a future fiction novella, Meanda, in English and French, as part of the art project, Exoplanet Lot. She recently published a series of three books, The Water Age, which are future fiction and art and writing workshop books - one for adults and one for children - on the topic of water in the future. She gained a PhD in Art History in 2007 and was Guest Professor at Bauhaus University and Senior Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University and Dartington College of Arts. Her published books on contemporary art include The Artists Body (Phaidon, 2000), Remote Performances in Nature and Architecture (Routledge, 2015) and The Midden (Garret, 2018). She gained an MA in Creative Writing at University of Wales Trinity St David in 2011. She is Head of Research at Dartington Trust and teaches on MA Poetics of Imagination for Dartington Arts School.

You can connect with the author via these platforms -






Amazon Author Page:


You can learn more about the book and the series by visiting the other blogs on this tour,

That's it for now.

Till the next time.

Take care Zoe