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 29 June 2021

Welcoming Eric Schumacher and his book - Sigurd's Swords - to my blog

  Today I'm welcoming Eric Schumacher and his book - Sigurds's Swords (Olaf's Saga 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.

Sigurd's Swords

From best-selling historical fiction novelist, Eric Schumacher, comes the second volume in Olaf’s Saga: the adrenaline-charged story of Olaf Tryggvason and his adventures in the kingdom of the Rus.

AD 968. It has been ten summers since the noble sons of the North, Olaf and Torgil, were driven from their homeland by the treachery of the Norse king, Harald Eriksson. Having then escaped the horrors of slavery in Estland, they now fight among the Rus in the company of Olaf’s uncle, Sigurd.

It will be some of the bloodiest years in Rus history. The Grand Prince, Sviatoslav, is hungry for land, riches, and power, but his unending campaigns are leaving the corpses of thousands in their wakes. From the siege of Konugard to the battlefields of ancient Bulgaria, Olaf and Torgil struggle to stay alive in Sigurd’s Swords, the riveting sequel to Forged by Iron.

Book Title: Sigurd’s Swords

Series: Olaf’s Saga, Book 2

Author: Eric Schumacher

Publication Date: June 28, 2021

Publisher: Bodn Books

Page Length: 300 Pages (print)

Genre: Historical Fiction

You can purchase a copy of the book via -

This book is on Kindle Unlimited.

Now for the review -

It is said that with great power comes great responsibility, but nobody mentions about the greed. More money, more land, more of everything, it is like an addiction. For men such as Torgil, their lives are in the hands of such powerful men, and they must obey orders and follow the rules—if only someone had told Olaf that, oh yes, they did, but he didn't listen!!

Sigurd’s Swords (Olaf’s Saga, Book 2) follows the story of Olaf but is told through Torgil—who is oathbound to Olaf. Through Torgil's eyes, we witness what life was like for a warrior. We experience the camaraderie between the warriors as well as the competition. We witness the horrors of battle, the sacred moments of peace and the fear of a long drawn-out siege and what that would mean for those trapped inside a cities walls. This novel came across as very realistic in the telling and I slipped into the story very easily and became utterly enchanted by this gripping tale.

Torgil was a character that was very easy to like. His past is explained carefully and with consideration throughout this novel, and as we learn more about his past we can understand more about his character and the seemingly unbreakable bond between him, Olaf and Torgil. Having not read the first book in the series, I was thankful that the author left the readers with little hints throughout as to what had happened rather than dump all the information at the beginning of the novel as most authors tend to do.

This novel is packed with unforgettable characters, non-stop action and even some romance. If you love historical fiction, especially when it is set in the world of the Vikings, then I think you will really enjoy this novel. I will certainly be looking out for more books by this author in the future.

Eric Schumacher

Eric Schumacher (1968 - ) is an American historical novelist who currently resides in Santa Barbara, California, with his wife and two children. He was born and raised in Los Angeles and attended college at the University of San Diego.

At a very early age, Schumacher discovered his love for writing and medieval European history, as well as authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Those discoveries continue to fuel his imagination and influence the stories he tells. His first novel, God's Hammer, was published in 2005.

You can connect with the author via these platforms -






Amazon Author Page:


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

Follow the tour:

That's it for now.

Till the next time.

Take care Zoe





Thursday 24 June 2021

Welcoming Tom Durwood and his book - The Pact - to my blog

 Today I'm welcoming Tom Durwood and his book - The Pact (The Illustrated Colonials, Book One) - 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.

The Pact

Six international teens join the American Revolution.

Coming of age and making history.

They went into 1776 looking for a fight. Little did they know how much it would cost them…

Six rich kids from around the globe join the Bostonian cause, finding love and treachery along the path to liberty.

A new perspective on one of history’s most fascinating moments.

Amply illustrated edition of a young-adult historical fiction novel.

Book Title: The Pact

Series: (The Illustrated Colonials, Book One)

Author: Tom Durwood

Publication Date: 8th April 2021

Publisher: Empire Studies Press

Page Length: 218 Pages

Genres: Young Adult / Historical Fiction / Adventure

You can purchase a copy of the book via -

Universal Buy Link:

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Amazon CA:

Amazon AU:

This book is available on Kindle Unlimited.

Now for the review -

Historical fiction is my favourite genre because of how much work that the author has to put into it to get everything historically accurate as well as write a book that is impossible to put down. The Pact is more historical fantasy than historical fiction because as the author states in his notes at the end of the book "I have willfully ignored accurate dates and names and sequences. I have invented characters and events in order to serve my low-brow adventure." I do wish I had read the authors declaration at the beginning of the book rather than the end!

Nevertheless, this book is loosely about the global effect the war had on the world - many countries were watching and so it stands to reason to have six brave protagonists, from around the world, come together to fight for freedom, and more importantly, for each other. I really enjoyed reading about each of the protagonists, although my favourite was probably Sheyndil because she is just so likeable and does not have the arrogance of some of the others.

This novel would make a great bedtime story read, but I do wish the author would stop highlighting sentences after they had already been written, I found this very distracting. But on the whole, it is a nicely packaged novel with some great illustrations.

Tom Durwood

Tom Durwood is a teacher, writer and editor with an interest in history. Tom most recently taught English Composition and Empire and Literature at Valley Forge Military College, where he won the Teacher of the Year Award five times. Tom has taught Public Speaking and Basic Communications as guest lecturer for the Naval Special Warfare Development Group at the Dam’s Neck Annex of the Naval War College.

Toms ebook Empire and Literature matches global works of film and fiction to specific quadrants of empire, finding surprising parallels. Literature, film, art and architecture are viewed against the rise and fall of empire. In a foreword to Empire and Literature, postcolonial scholar Dipesh Chakrabarty of the University of Chicago calls it “imaginative and innovative.” Prof. Chakrabarty writes that “Durwood has given us a thought-provoking introduction to the humanities.” His subsequent book “Kid Lit: An Introduction to Literary Criticism” has been well-reviewed. “My favorite nonfiction book of the year,” writes The Literary Apothecary (Goodreads).

Early reader response to Tom’s historical fiction adventures has been promising. “A true pleasure … the richness of the layers of Tom’s novel is compelling,” writes Fatima Sharrafedine in her foreword to “The Illustrated Boatman’s Daughter.” The Midwest Book Review calls that same adventure “uniformly gripping and educational … pairing action and adventure with social issues.” Adds Prairie Review, “A deeply intriguing, ambitious historical fiction series.”

Tom briefly ran his own children’s book imprint, Calico Books (Contemporary Books, Chicago). Tom’s newspaper column “Shelter” appeared in the North County Times for seven years. Tom earned a Masters in English Literature in San Diego, where he also served as Executive Director of San Diego Habitat for Humanity.

You can connect with Tom Durwood via these platforms -








Amazon Author Page:


 You can also 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





Wednesday 23 June 2021

Welcoming A B Michaels and her book - The Madness of Mrs Whittaker - to my blog

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

Delighted to share an excerpt with you all but first I will introduce the book.

The Madness of Mrs Whittaker

While exploring the remote possibility of contacting her dead husband through a spirit medium, a young widow is pronounced insane and committed to an asylum against her will. As she struggles to escape the nightmare shes been thrust into, she is stripped of everything she holds dear, including her identity and her reason to live. The fight to reclaim what is rightfully hers will test every aspect of her being, up to and including her sanity. Is she up to the task, or has her grip on reality already slipped away?

Book Six of The Golden City series, The Madness of Mrs. Whittaker explores two major forces of early twentieth century America: the religious movement called Spiritualism and treatment of the mentally ill. Like all of A.B. Michaelsnovels, it is a stand-alone read.

Book Title: The Madness of Mrs. Whittaker

Series: (The Golden City, Book Six)

Author: A.B. Michaels

Publication Date: 9th June 2021

Publisher: Red Trumpet Press

Page Length: 450 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

You can purchase this book as well as the other books in this series via -

Now for the excerpt -

Excerpt from The Madness of Mrs. Whittaker – partial Chapter 12

Mae is attending her third “mourning circle,” which we would call a séance.

The room’s meager light petered out, leaving only shadows. Pasiphae used her mesmerizing skills on Mrs. Springvale to once more lead her into a trance. Mae sat between Minos and the frail widow Sterope. Their hands could not be more different. His was meaty and moist, rubbing her palm inappropriately and making her skin crawl, while the old woman’s was tiny and birdlike, almost a claw. Mae felt as if she could easily crush it, were she to squeeze too hard. They both contrasted with the memory of Andre’s hand--strong, warm, dry--and she longed to feel it again.

Then it began: The wisp of a breeze across her arm. And several eerily quiet moments later, the telltale bump of the table. It was more pronounced this time. All hands were held above the surface, which had to mean that someone was causing the table to move with their leg or foot. It had to mean that. Because if she believed, as Claire did, that these were signs of spirits moving among them, then she would have to accept the idea that her father had somehow reached for her beyond the grave. The thought sent her nerves skittering and she felt a familiar jolt of panic, a powerful urge to jump up and run out of the room. She focused on remaining seated, calming herself with the mantra It’s only a game, just a parlor game.

A crash sounded from the far side of the room, as if something been slammed on the floor. At the same moment a figure--she had no idea what--swept over their heads; she could feel it displacing the air, a barely discernable shadow that crossed her field of vision and was gone.

“Ohhhh,” Sterope moaned, her skeletal hand surprisingly strong as it gripped hers. What is going on here? Mae wondered frantically. What is happening?

Her thoughts were interrupted by a strange sound emanating from Mrs. Springvale. She was speaking, but not in her normal voice--not even in the monotone she had used during the first séance. A foreign language spilled from her lips, a tongue Mae had never heard before. It had traces of Gaelic mixed with something else--could it be Russian?

Then the medium switched to her own flat voice. “Hermes, I call upon you. Help my sisters and brothers reach the ones they love. Speak so that they may understand you.” Her head began to rock from side to side before abruptly stopping. “I am here,” she said in a low, guttural manner. “I bring news.”

The flat voice: “What news?”

“A soldier ... his sweet Phebe ... someday soon...”

Mae felt Sterope’s brittle hand squeeze hers again. Through the gloom she could barely make out the woman’s face. It was tilted toward the ceiling and her eyes were closed. But she was wearing the most beatific smile; it transformed her from an old, nearly spent crone to a young bride full of love. Was Mrs. Springvale really a fraud? If she was, how could she bring such joy to others?

Silence ensued and after several minutes, “Hermes” spoke again.

“Albert ... so proud ... counting on you ... keep ... family ... strong.”

It was Claire’s turn to react, which she did by raising her hands up high, even though they were still clasped with those on either side of her. “Yes, Papa,” she said in a little girl voice.

Silence again, but it didn’t take long before Mae noticed the faintest sound--one she’d heard before but wasn’t sure if it was real. It was the soft but unmistakable drone of insects. “Do you hear that?” she whispered to Minos.

“Bzzzzz,” he whispered back.

It wasn’t just her imagination, then. Mae braced for what was to come and soon Hermes, through Mrs. Springvale, spoke once more. He didn’t specifically address Mae, but she had no doubt that he was talking to her.

“Your da knows ... what you did ... cailin ... atone.”

Mae began shaking so badly that she abruptly let go of the hands she was holding. She barely heard Pasiphae signal the end of the session and begin to dismiss the members one by one. Soon, only Mae and Mrs. Springvale were left, and by the light of the small lamp, which once again gave off a soft glow, she could see that the medium’s face was etched with worry.

“Are you all right?” Mrs. Springvale asked.

Mae let out a humorless bark. “All right? How will I ever be all right?” 

A B Michaels

A native of California, A.B. Michaels holds masters’ degrees 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 A B Michaels via these platforms -





Book Bub:

Amazon Author Page:


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

That's it for now.

Till the next time.

Take care Zoe



Wednesday 9 June 2021

Welcoming Deborah Swift and her book - The Poison Keeper - to my blog

Today I'm welcoming Deborah Swift and her book - The Poison Keeper - to my blog as part of the blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club (founded by Mary Anne Yarde)

So today I am sharing an excerpt with you all, but first I'll introduce the book.

The Poison Keeper

Naples 1633

Aqua Tofana – One drop to heal. Three drops to kill.

Giulia Tofana longs for more responsibility in her mother’s apothecary business, but Mamma has always been secretive and refuses to tell Giulia the hidden keys to her success. When Mamma is arrested for the poisoning of the powerful Duke de Verdi, Giulia is shocked to uncover the darker side of her trade.

Giulia must run for her life, and escapes to Naples, under the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, to the home of her Aunt Isabetta, a famous courtesan. But when Giulia hears that her mother has been executed, and the cruel manner of her death, she swears she will wreak revenge on the Duke de Verdi.

The trouble is, Naples is in the grip of Domenico, the Duke’s brother, who controls the city with the ‘Camorra’, the mafia. Worse, her Aunt Isabetta, under Domenico’s thrall, insists that she should be consort to him – the brother of the man she has vowed to kill.

Based on the legendary life of Giulia Tofana, this is a story of hidden family secrets, and how even the darkest desires can be vanquished by courage and love.

‘Her characters so real they linger in the mind long after the book is back on the shelf’ Historical Novel Society.

Publication Date: 18th May 2021

Publisher: Quire Books

Page Length: 394 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

You can purchase a copy of the book via -

Amazon UK:




This book is also available on Kindle Unlimited.

Now for the excerpt -

Chapter 5

Duke de Verdi’s palazzo, Palermo

Antonio, the Duke de Verdi, levered himself up from the pillows. His arms were as fragile as straw and the push as feeble. He hated this, scrabbling for purchase on a pile of bolsters like an old man. He had been the strongest of all the men he knew, even the mercenaries, and this unlooked-for infirmity filled him with pent-up rage. The fact his body was too frail to vent it exhausted him.

He was not too weak to give orders though. His men had caught up with those witches, Theofania d’Adamo and Francesca La Sarda, as they headed for the port, and they were now incarcerated in the city gaol. There was a daughter too, who’d been a part of this vile travesty, but she had slipped their net. Not for long though.

‘Lucio!’ he yelled. His voice was cracked and hoarse, not the commanding voice he once had. She had brought him to this. That whimpering dishcloth of a wife. ‘Lucio!’

The manservant came running from his position behind the door.

Antonio dragged himself upright against the bedhead to catch his breath, though he felt sweat trickle in a trail from his hairline.

‘Have you found men to be tasters?’

‘Yes, Your Excellency. The famine drives them to desperation. A man and a boy are in the kitchens.’

‘Good. Make sure the boy tastes first. The poison will show more easily on a small body.’

An inclination of the head.

‘And bring my hag of a wife here. I will speak with her again.’

‘She’s out, Your Excellency—’

‘Out?’ The word would barely come. ‘You disobey my orders? I forbade them to let her go out. She only lives at all because of my favour.’

‘She’s making penance at church. Bruno and Alessandro are guarding her. You were sleeping. And they saw no harm in her confessing before God.’

‘No harm? You would give the witch the comfort of a stay in heaven? Fetch her back.’

‘They swore they wouldn’t be more than—’

‘Enough. Don’t try my patience.’ He had to try harder from this position to make his authority felt. It was impossible to feel assertive in a nightshirt. Before this cursed calamity had befallen him, Lucio would never have dared answer back. Antonio raised his voice. ‘Bring her now,’ he insisted, ‘not in three hours’ time.’

Lucio bowed, looking aggrieved, and went out as if it was a chore he could do without. Antonio slumped back, breathless from exertion, before making a renewed effort. He could do nothing lying here like an invalid. He must get out of bed. He willed himself to get stronger. The effects of the poison were abating, hour by hour, he told himself. They had to be.

With effort, he pulled back the weight of the damask coverlet and stretched one leg out of the bed. He stared at it. He’d only been ill six weeks, and yet surely this was someone else’s limb – thin and white as raw pastry, blue veins crawling up the front of the bone. He eased himself to the edge of the bed and rested his weight gingerly on one bony bare foot. It held. A small triumph. Pressing his lips together in concentration, he dragged out the other foot and placed it on the cold marble.

He was weak, but not beaten. When Valentina had confessed, he sent the physicians away. Useless bunch of leeches, they’d sucked his purse dry, and never once suggested it could be poison. Mind you, he didn’t want them seeing his lack of control over his wife, it would be the talk of Palermo. So now, five days later, after fasting, and eating only food brought to him direct from the market and not from his own kitchen, he was improving.

But he must decide what to do with Valentina. It would do his reputation no good to have been brought so low by that worm of a woman. His housekeeper had been paid to leave him and keep silent, but in his position, he could not dispose of Valentina so easily, not without causing a scandal, and she knew it. Unlike his brother, Domenico, who had rid himself of one wife and had now found himself another.

Nauseous, he staggered to the basin, spat and then washed himself. In the stucco-framed glass, he saw his beard needed trimming and his skin was as grey as eel jelly. The sight of his own face, once strong-jawed but now jowly with loose skin, disgusted him. It fired his anger more. He wanted the old duke back. He struggled to the closet and dressed himself in a black leather doublet and matching breeches, though they hung loose over his wasted muscles. He could not drag on his high boots, but using a shoehorn, he prised on a pair of heeled shoes with red rosettes.

He was panting and rimed with sweat by the time he sank into the chair by the window, but he gripped the arms to heave himself more upright, braced his shoulders and took on a haughty expression.

Lucio returned shortly afterwards, but he stopped short when he saw him upright in the chair.

‘I am stronger than I look, Lucio,’ Antonio said. ‘The will is stronger than the flesh, is that not so? What’s more, I remember all those who slighted me when I was ill. Those who couldn’t wait for me to die. Were you one of them, eh?’ He fixed him with a cold gaze.

‘No, Your Excellency. Of course not.’ Lucio’s face flamed red. ‘Your wife waits below; shall I send her up?’

‘Not yet. Bring me some fortifying wine.’

Lucio went back downstairs, and after a while he appeared, bringing the tray with a decanter and a glass containing a red wine, dark as garnets.

‘Has it been tested? The boy?’

‘A nod.’

‘Has she tried it?’ he asked. His faithless wife, Valentina. The thought of her made him want to retch.


‘The same glass?’


‘Then you drink,’ he said, gesturing to Lucio to try it. Lucio wrinkled his nose, but then obliged before wiping the rim with a napkin and passing it to him.

‘Like communion wine,’ he said, giving a coarse chuckle, the first in weeks. ‘Now, fetch my wife up.’ He was wary of anything that passed his lips now, but he needed the strength. He downed the sweet cloying liquid and its heat rushed into his throat. He could always hold his liquor before, but now, since sickening, he had become overly attuned to the changes in his humours that such spirits brought. His head swam, but he felt something of his old vigour returning.

The door opened and his two bodyguards, Bruno and Alessandro, big-handed men, their faces scarred by fighting, parted to let Valentina come through.

Deborah Swift

Deborah Swift lives in the north of England and is a USA Today bestselling author who has written fourteen historical novels to date. Her first novel, The Lady’s Slipper, set in 17th Century England, was shortlisted for the Impress Prize, and her WW2 novel Past Encounters was a BookViral Millennium Award winner.

Deborah enjoys writing about ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances, and most of her novels have been published in reading group editions. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and is a mentor with The History Quill.

You can connect with Deborah Swift via these platforms -






Book Bub:

Amazon Author Page:


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

That's it for now.

Till the next time.

Take care Zoe.