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

Thursday 18 February 2021

Welcoming Richard Tearle/Helen Hollick and their book - The North Finchley Writers Group - to my blog

Today I'm welcoming Richard Tearle along with Helen Hollick and their book - The North Finchley Writers Group - 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 North Finchley Writers Group

When a group of north London writers meet each month for a chat, coffee, and cake – what else is on their agenda? Constructive criticism? New Ideas? An exciting project? And maybe, more than one prospective romance...?

Eavesdrop on the monthly meetings of the North Finchley Writers' Group, follow some ordinary people with a love of story writing, and an eagerness for success. Discover, along with them, the mysteries of creating characters and plot, of what inspires ideas, and how real life can, occasionally, divert the dream...

Publication Date: 2nd February 2021

Publisher: Taw River Press

Page Length: 142 pages

Genre: Contemporary Romance

You can purchase a copy of the book via -


Now for the excerpt - 


Angela Knight's House – Friern Barnet, January 2019

'Anthologies are very popular at the moment.'

Angela Knight kicked off the monthly meeting of the North Finchley Writers' Group following the usual business of apologies for absence. Quite a few today – hardly surprising, given the time of year and the cold, and until recently wet, weather. We were meeting in her house in north London’s Friern Barnet, so it was her honour to facilitate the proceedings.

Angela is petite, mid-forties. Hypnotising green eyes, natural blonde hair. She usually dresses in t-shirt and jeans but was wearing a baggy brown jumper and long floral-patterned skirt tonight. Very Bohemian.

'I've read a couple of anthologies,' I agreed.

'But they aren't proper –' Monty Donaldson. He clicked his fingers in the air to indicate inverted commas, '”Books”, are they?' One of us who had not been published.

'Oh?' Angela queried. 'Really? Why do you say that, Monty?' Those two did not see eye to eye. In fact, it was rare for any of us to agree with Monty because he was such an insufferable bore.

Monty was not put off. He never was. Sarcasm and irony went scudding over his head like clouds in a gale. 'I mean, a book is a story, a theme, lots of characters and incidents. Action. Beginning, middle and end. Short stories are, well, nothing more than that. Short and cute. No real substance.'

'Tell that to Ray Bradbury,' Zak Nichols murmured from where he sat in an armchair nearest to the blaze of a real coal and log fire. I knew from experience that he’d have to move soon, or he’d roast.

'What do you think of that, Rob? Anthologies are compiled of short stories, which you write for a living, after all.' Angela turned directly to me. The glint in her eye told me that it wouldn't worry her in the slightest if I started a real argument. Indeed, she was practically encouraging it. The minx.

'I’ve contributed to an anthology of stories about Richard the Third, enjoyed other such historical-based anthologies. Most of the great writers in the world have started off with short stories,' I pointed out. 'Bradbury – as Zak said – Dickens, Margaret Atwood. One way of honing your craft. Especially if you are waiting to hear from a publisher about something you've submitted.' A little dig, of course. One that took wings but also flew over Monty's head. As usual.

But alliance with Monty came from a surprise corner. Charlotte Caroll.

'I sort of agree with Monty,' she put in hesitantly. She flushed slightly beneath her immaculate coiffured hair, and nodded to Monty.

Hello! Have we got something here? Virginal Georgian heiress infatuated with slick talking Chicago private eye?

'You do?' queried Alicia St Simon. Peroxide blonde. Older than she looks. 'You do surprise me!'

Charlotte flushed again, and it was not just the heat of the fire burning her cheeks.

'Well,' she stumbled. 'Er, let's look at what Rob just said. None of the rest of us write historical fiction. I write Regency romances and that's completely different.' She was blustering and we knew that she knew that we knew. As the old song goes.

'Who said anything about historical fiction?' Angela remarked, sitting back in her chair and crossing her legs. A glimpse of ankle. I smiled to myself, put that into an historical context and smoke it!

'Well, no one, but I thought that's what you meant.'

'And if we were, what makes you think you couldn't write something historical?' Jean Hart entered the discussion, pulling up the sleeves of her pink, fluffy jumper, as if she were getting ready for a fight, although it was probably only because the room was getting rather warm.

'My setting might be Regency but the theme is romance. Beyond clothes, horses, carriages and balls I use very little historical fact. Austen wrote Pride And Prejudice which was set during a very big war between England and France, but she barely made mention of it! Battles and things are of no interest to me. Warfare is not my subject.' Charlotte replied haughtily. She had a point about Jane Austen.

'Nor mine.' Monty would not be left out. 'How would I fit my hard-nose PI Marty Diamond into a story set in, say, the English Civil War?'

Very badly. I bit back the retort and helped myself to another handful of peanuts from the glass bowl on the coffee table.

Angela caught my look. Knew what I was thinking. We were often on the same wavelength, more so when it involved goading Monty.

Angela steered the conversation back to the original point. 'I did a little bit of looking into this before I selected it as a topic, and there are a lot out there. All sorts of topics. World War I, World War II. London. I came across a blogger who has a feature on her book review blog every December, when she invites her reviewers to contribute stories inspired by songs.'

'I like that,' I grinned. 'And there you are, Monty. Private Investigations. Dire Straits.'

'I could always email her and ask if we could borrow the idea, if we decided to do something similar.' Hilary Jackson, one of our “mature” members, and our Arthurian expert.

Angela leaned forward, smiled prettily. 'Hold on! It was only meant to be a discussion topic, not a pitch for actually doing an anthology. A bit of fun, I thought.'

'It is fun,' Hilary continued. 'I'm really warming to the idea.'

I glanced, discretely, at everyone’s faces. Charlotte and Monty were not impressed, but the others were sitting upright or forward, full of eagerness. Had we hit upon something by accident?

* * * (After the meeting...)

Time to go home. There was a bustle of fetching coats, gloves and scarves, exclamations at the cold beyond the front door. I begged the use of the loo and, by the time I returned, everyone had gone.

We stood just inside the open front door, Angela and I, looking out at the frost riming the garden path and the tops of cars parked in the street beyond, admiring how it twinkled beneath the bright street lights.

'I'm really sorry, Rob,' she apologised. 'It was meant to be a light hearted discussion but it got rather out of hand. I never meant…'

'I know,' I said softly.

It was a moment that I never wanted to end. Her kiss was less passionate than it was affectionate.

'You'd better go,' she sighed. 'Steve will be home soon.'


'I'm sorry'.

'I know. So am I.'

She opened the door and, when I glanced back, she was still watching me, her hands clutched around her arms. I waved and then she closed the door.

I rubbed my right temple as I walked to the car. Lit a cigarette. There was no doubt that Angela excited me. Her very presence in the room made me want to be around her. But she was in a relationship. And so was I.

Liz and I had our ups and downs, although lately there have been more downs than usual. But we came through them.

We always did.

I guess.

A Word From Richard Tearle :

“To the writing community, whether they be traditionally published, indie or aspiring.

You make the rocking world go round...Writers are such a wonderful community – supportive, helpful and ever willing to give their time and expertise to one humble chap such as I. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

Richard – December 2020

A Word From Helen Hollick:

It was with great enthusiasm that I encouraged Richard to write this, his first novel. His enjoyment of creating a good story, I felt, should be shared to readers and writers, everywhere. Unfortunately, at the editing stage, Richard became ill, involving hospitalisation. In discussion with his son, rather than abandon the project or put it on hold, we decided that the best course of action was for me to continue with getting this book published on his behalf. The characters, plot – the story – are all Richard’s immense talent, I merely tidied up and added the final polish, coming in as ‘painter and decorator’ to Richard’s main role as architect, designer, and builder.

You can connect with Richard Tearle via -


You can connect with Helen Hollick via -



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

That's it for now.

Till the next time.

Take care Zoe.

Tuesday 16 February 2021

Welcoming Michael L Ross and his book - The Search: Across the Great Divide book 2 - to my blog.

Today I'm welcoming Michael L Ross and his book - The Search (Across the Great Divide Book 2) - 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 a review with you all, but first I will introduce the book.

Across the Great Divide

The Search

Where do you go when home is no longer an option?

The guns of the Civil War have ceased firing, and the shots are but an echo... yet the war rages on, deep inside Will Crump's soul. His "soldier's heart" is searching for peace, and in that quest Will joins the westward movement, setting his path on a collision course with adventure, loss, and love.

The Westward Expansion floods the sacred, untouched lands with immigrants, bringing conflict to the Shoshone, Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho. Amidst the chaos Will finds safety in the shadow of the US Army, but the army brings battle-hardened troops into Red Cloud's War, pulling Will into a tornado of conflict. Broken treaties and promises leave both sides searching for answers. Will's search leads him to a battle for survival, and there he finds a love that could change him forever.

Dove, a young Shoshone woman, is a survivor of the Bear Creek Massacre. After being kidnapped and escaping from the Cheyenne, she joins Will's search, seeking where she belongs. Dove longs for more than the restricted role placed on women in her tribe. If she can learn to trust a white man, he just might help her find home... and hope.

Together, Will and Dove must search for understanding, and reach Across the Great Divide.

Publication Date: December 15, 2020

Publisher: HistoricalNovelsRUS

Page Length: 217 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Historical Fiction, Historical Romance

You can purchase a copy via -

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CAAmazon AUBarnes and Noble Kobo

 You can buy an audio version via -

Apple BooksGoogle Play

Now for the review.

With all the majestic beauty of Michael Blake’s Dances with Wolves comes a new book in Michael Ross’ acclaimed series—Across The Great Divide.

I had heard some wonderful things about this series, so when I was offered the chance to review the audiobook of Ross’ new release, I jumped at the chance.

The Search (Across The Great Divide, Book 2) is the story of William Crump (1844 -1940) as he tries to find an escape from the horrors that have haunted him since the Civil War and his appalling treatment at Camp Douglas. Will firmly believes that the peace his soul craves will be found far away from home. Once he has recovered, Will hopes that he can return to his family, pick up his life, and maybe have a family of his own one day. My heart broke for Will. He has no idea what is happening to him, and he fears that he could accidentally hurt someone he loved when the terrors engulfed him. Having no notion of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and mental health conditions brought on by trauma, it must have been absolutely terrifying for the soldiers coming home from war. Will bravely struggles through the endless nightmares and is determined to find himself in the wilderness somehow. Unfortunately, fate is not finished with him yet, and he is reluctantly drawn back into a war where the enemy does not even understand, let adhere to, the rules of war.

Will was a character that certainly captured my attention. The struggles that he faces, the vivid flashback and the fear that he is losing his mind came across very realistically. I could emphasize with his suffering, and he commanded my respect because of his dogged determination not to give in and not to give up. When he saves Dove, a young woman from the Shoshone tribe, from a bear (and, unknowingly from a now dead Cheyenne brave), Will unconsciously begins a journey towards his own recovery.

Will and Dove’s relationship undoubtedly drove the narrative of this novel. Dove’s determination to return to her people is tempered only by her desperate desire to stay by Will’s side. This moving romance reduced me to tears. Their innocence, their hope, and their dreams that somehow, amongst the madness happening around them, that they could build a future together was heartrendingly beautiful.

The historical backdrop of this story is staggering in its accuracy. Ross has captured not only the history but also the wildness of the frontier. Reading this book was a little like watching the movie adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans. It is an exceptionally drawn backdrop.

As I listened to the audio version, I think it is important to say something about the narration. I do not think Ross could have chosen a better narrator for this story than Joshua Young. The narrator really did bring this novel to life.

The Search is a must-read for anyone who enjoys American historical fiction. Dear Reader, even if you are not a fan of American historical fiction, I urge you to add this book to your collection. I promise that you will not be disappointed. If I could give this book higher than a five-star rating, I would.

 Michael L Ross

Best-selling author Michael Ross is a lover of history and great stories. He's a retired software engineer turned author, with three children and five grandchildren, living in Newton, Kansas with his wife of forty years. He was born in Lubbock, Texas, and still loves Texas. The main character of "Across the Great Divide", William Dorsey Crump, is one of the founders of Lubbock and Shallowater, Texas. Michael knew Will's granddaughter when he was a child. He has written a scholarly article on Will Crump for the Texas Historical Society, published in the Handbook of Texas Online, and has sold short stories in the past. This is his first novel and the first in the Across the Great Divide series, now an Amazon bestseller.
Michael attended Rice University as an undergraduate, and Portland State University for his graduate degree. He has degrees in computer science, software engineering, and German. In his spare time, Michael loves to go fishing, riding horses, and play with his grandchildren, who are currently all under six years old.

He sees many parallels between the time of the Civil War and our divided nation of today. Sanctuary cities, immigration, arguments around the holiday table, threats of secession - all are nothing new. Sometimes, to understand the present, you have to look at the past- and reach Across the Great Divide.  

You can connect with the author via -



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

That's it for now.

Till the next time.

Take care Zoe


Monday 8 February 2021

Welcoming Stuart Rudge and his book - The Fall of Kings (Legend of the Cid: book 3) - to my blog

  Today I'm welcoming Stuart Rudge and his book - The Fall of Kings (Legend of the Cid, Book 3) - to my blog as part of the blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club (founded by Mary Anne Yarde)

Delighted to take part in a book blast for The Fall of Kings. Let's learn about the book and the author.

The Fall of Kings

Castile. 1071AD. Three kings. One crown.

After Sancho II of Castile dispatches his champion Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar to capture his brother, King Garcia of Galicia, he hopes it is a defining moment in his quest to reunite the lands of his father under one banner. But Alfonso VI of Leon is one step ahead, and has already added the lands of Galicia to his domain. When the only alternative is war, Sancho turns to Rodrigo to lead the armies of Castile, and he must use all his tactical acumen to defeat the Leonese in the field. Only one son of Fernando can claim victory and become the Emperor of Hispania.

Rodrigo and Antonio Perez, now a knight of the realm, find difficulty adjusting to the new regime. Dissent and unrest run rife throughout the kingdom, and the fear of a knife in the dark from enemies old and new hangs heavy upon the pair. But if it is allowed to fester, it threatens to undo all that has been achieved. Can Rodrigo and Antonio root out the enemies of the king, and prevent chaos reigning throughout the land?

The Fall of Kings in the breath taking third instalment of the Legend of the Cid.

Publication Date: February 5th 2021

Publisher: Independently Published

Page Length: 406 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

You can purchase a copy of the book via -

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Amazon CA:

Amazon AU:

Stuart Rudge

Stuart Rudge was born and raised in Middlesbrough, where he still lives. His love of history came from his father and uncle, both avid readers of history, and his love of table top war gaming and strategy video games. He studied Ancient History and Archaeology at Newcastle University, and has spent his fair share of time in muddy trenches, digging up treasure at Bamburgh Castle.

He was worked in the retail sector and volunteered in museums, before working in York Minster, which he considered the perfect office. His love of writing blossomed within the historic walls, and he knew there were stories within which had to be told. Despite a move in to the shipping and logistics sector (a far cry to what he hoped to ever do), his love of writing has only grown stronger.

Rise of a Champion is the first piece of work he has dared to share with the world. Before that came a novel about the Roman Republic and a Viking-themed fantasy series (which will likely never see the light of day, but served as good practise). He hopes to establish himself as a household name in the mound of Bernard Cornwell, Giles Kristian, Ben Kane and Matthew Harffy, amongst a host of his favourite writers.

You can connect with the author via -



There are many blogs taking part in today's book blast why not check them out? 

That's it for now.

Till the next time.

Take care Zoe