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 30 June 2022

Welcoming Rachel R. Heil and her book - Leningrad: The People's War - to my blog

Today I'm welcoming Rachel R. Heil and her book - Leningrad: The People's War (Leningrad book 1) - to my blog as part of the blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club (founded by Mary Anne Yarde)

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

Leningrad: The People's War

Leningrad, 1941. As Europe crumbles under the German war machine, the people of the Soviet Union watch. There are whispers of war but not loud enough for the civilians of Leningrad to notice. Instead, they keep their heads down and try to avoid the ever-watching eyes of their own oppressive government.

University student Tatiana Ivankova tries to look ahead to the future after a family tragedy that characterizes life under the brutal regime. But, when the rumors that have been circulating the country become a terrifying reality, Tatiana realizes that the greatest fear may not be the enemy but what her fellow citizens are prepared to do to each other to survive.

As his men plow through the Russian countryside, Heinrich Nottebohm is told to follow orders and ask no questions, even if such commands go against his own principles. His superiors hold over him a past event that continues to destroy him with every day that passes. But, when given the opportunity to take an act of defiance, Heinrich will jump at the chance, ignoring what the end results could be.

Leningrad: The Peoples War tells the harrowing beginning of a war that forever changed the landscape of a city, told through the eyes of both sides in a tale of courage, love, and sacrifice.

Publication Date: February 5, 2021

Publisher: Independently Published

Page Length: 326 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance 

You can purchase a copy of the book via -

Universal Link:

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Amazon CA:

Amazon AU:

You can also get this book on Kindle Unlimited.

Now for the excerpt -

The whistles squealed and Heinrich slid away his mirror, closed his bag, and stood. He threw his luggage over his shoulder, grabbed his overcoat, and headed for the door. From the small window, Heinrich could see the figure of his old friend Maximilian Rothmann waiting by the tracks, hands behind his back and leaning on his heels. So, his appointment hadn’t been accidental after all.

The train came to an uneasy stop and one of the workers opened the door for Heinrich. Before him stood a grinning Max.

“I should have known.” Heinrich stepped on solid ground.

Max strode up and held his hand. “It’s good to see you again, Heinrich.”

A friend from their days in training, Max was a handsome individual. Slightly over six feet tall with blond hair, calm brown eyes, and smooth skin, he never had issues finding a female companion. Strange he hadn’t settled down yet.

“So, when given the option, you request someone all the way from Belgium?” Heinrich chuckled. “I think you have something against me.”

“Come now, Heinrich!” Max held up his arms. “You can’t tell me you enjoyed Belgium. Hell, you nearly lost your life there.” Max motioned to his chest, where Heinrich’s injury was located.

“Still a bit sore, might I add! They weren’t planning on discharging me for another few days.”

Max rolled his eyes. “You were taking advantage of it, I’m sure.”

“Nevertheless, when the doctor gave me some pills in case it flared up, he told me to take it easy. I exploded with laughter.”

Max joined in and patted Heinrich on the back. “Come on, let me take you to your camp.”

The city of Pinsk had been taken the day before, and from Heinrich’s new company’s position, he could still see the city smoldering. Max led Heinrich into a tent. In the middle of the space was a large table with several maps and a bed in the corner.

“Don’t get too comfortable,” Max advised. “Your unit is heading out early tomorrow morning.”

Heinrich placed his bag on the ground next to the table. “And what is our ultimate goal, Moscow?”

Max grinned. “Where were you born again, Heinrich?”

He closed his eyes and shook his head.

Max howled. “Doesn’t seem like my appointment was made out of spite, now does it?”

“No.” Heinrich sighed. “But it was foolish.”

“How do you suppose?”

“Max, it will kill me inside to bomb that city to ruins.”

“Well if the rumor I am hearing from upper command is true, then it will make you happy.” Max stood straight. “We aren’t going to bomb Leningrad.”

“No?” Heinrich raised an eyebrow.

“No. We’re going to starve it out.”

Heinrich felt his mouth drop. “Starve it out?”

Max’s forehead wrinkled. “You seem upset.”

“I applaud Higher Command for not destroying the city but starving it doesn’t seem like a mercy plea either.”

“Heinrich, I wouldn’t worry about this.” Max waved away his concerns. “At the rate the Red Army has been retreating, the city will be abandoned. No need to make yourself ill over it.”

Heinrich made himself look relaxed but inside he was stirring. Why inflict such needless suffering on civilians who wanted nothing to do with the war? He hadn’t wanted to burn the city but that seemed more humane than starving its people.
“In any case, you’ll have several other cities to get through before Leningrad.” Max gestured to the map. Heinrich leaned over while Max pointed to the city of Smolensk. “This is our next target. Some of the companies are already heading that way so you’ll need to catch up. I’m leaving tonight with my unit.”

Heinrich nodded. “I’m used to chasing you, so it should be fun.”

“This isn’t military school anymore, Heinrich.” Max playfully jabbed his finger into Heinrich’s shoulder. “I rank above you. Remember that.”

“Not for much longer.” Heinrich grinned.

“Fighting words, Nottebohm. Ranks are earned by blood these days. This isn’t France—or even Poland for that matter.”

His words had a serious tone to them that Heinrich did not fail to notice. “I understand.”

Max shook his head. “You don’t, but in time you will.”

Heinrich said nothing, allowing Max’s words to sink in. What had he signed up for?

Rachel R. Heil
Rachel R. Heil is a historical fiction writer who always dreamed of being an author. After years of dreaming, she finally decided to turn this dream into a reality with her first novel, and series, Behind the Darkened Glass. Rachel is an avid history fan, primarily focused on twentieth century history and particularly World War Two-era events. In addition to her love for history, Rachel loves following the British Royal Family and traveling the world, which only opens the door to learning more about a country's history. Rachel resides in Wisconsin.

You can connect with Rachel via these platforms -

Tuesday 21 June 2022

Welcoming Craig R. Hipkins and his book - Clement: The Templar's Treasure - to my blog

Today I'm welcoming Craig R. Hipkins and his book - Clement: The Templar's Treasure (Clement 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 share a guest post with you all, but first I will introduce the book.

Clement: The Templar's Treasure

Clement & Dagena return for another action packed adventure. From the cold and dreary shores of Greenland to the fabled land of Vinland. The legendary treasure of the Knights Templar awaits.

Publication Date: 4th May 2022

Publisher: Hipkins Twins

Page Length: 233 Pages

Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction

You can purchase a copy of the book via -

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Amazon CA:

Amazon AU:

The book is also available on Kindle Unlimited.

Now for the guest post -

For as long as I can remember I have always been fascinated by medieval times. The inspiration behind writing Clement: The Templar’s Treasure most certainly came from my youth. My twin brother and I would devour the works of Sir Walter Scott and Howard Pyle. We were also fascinated by the legend of Robin Hood and the campaigns of King Richard the Lionheart. We would often act out and pretend to be these classic heroes. As we got older our interests changed from play-acting to writing adventure tales of our own. Some of them with a gothic or horror theme, but we always returned to the Middle Ages.

The character of Clement first appeared in my novel Adalbert. At first, he was merely a minor character, but as the book progressed his character became more developed and by the end was an integral part of the plot. I decided that I would do a YA spin off series of books centered around him and Dagena, his witty and strong-willed girlfriend. Together, the two youths involve themselves in many adventures. In this third installment of the Clement series, they find themselves traveling to the fabled land of Vinland. Although this book can be read as a stand alone novel, it is really a continuation of the previous book in the series; Clement: The Green Ship.

Over the years, I have read a lot of books about the Norse and their settlements in Greenland and Iceland. I am also fascinated with the voyages of Leif Erikson who is known to have traveled west of Greenland and recorded two large land masses. The first, he named Markland, a wooded region where the Norse gathered timber. It has often been suggested that Markland might be located in present day Labrador. South of Markland, Leif encountered an area where a wild grape grew in abundance. Leif called this area Vinland. It is not known with any certainty where Vinland was located. Some scholars point to L'Anse aux Meadows, on the coast of Newfoundland where a Norse settlement was excavated back in the 1960s. However, no wild grapes are known to grow there. I am of the opinion that Vinland was located much farther south of Newfoundland near Cape Cod, where there are cranberry bogs that might be mistaken for wild grapes. It is here where I take a little literary license and set the story for Clement: The Templar’s Treasure.

Since I grew up in Massachusetts, I am well familiar with the terrain and the history of the region. This was one of the main reasons that I set the story to take place here. In a way, as I was writing this, my mind occasionally drifted back to my childhood and the days spent romping through the forests of Vinland. 

Craig R. Hipkins

Craig R. Hipkins grew up in Hubbardston Massachusetts. He is the author of medieval and gothic fiction. His novel, Adalbert is the sequel to Astrolabe written by his late twin brother Jay S. Hipkins (1968-2018) He is an avid long-distance runner and enjoys astronomy in his spare time.

You can connect with Craig R. Hipkins via these platforms -


Friday 17 June 2022

Welcoming Tony Riches and his book - Raleigh - Tudor Adventurer - to my blog

Today I'm welcoming Tony Riches and his book - Raleigh - Tudor Adventurer (Book 3, The Elizabethan Series) - to my blog as part of the blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club (founded by Mary Anne Yarde)

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

Raleigh - Tudor Adventurer

Tudor adventurer, courtier, explorer and poet, Sir Walter Raleigh has been called the last true Elizabethan.

He didn’t dance or joust, didn’t come from a noble family, or marry into one. So how did an impoverished law student become a favourite of the queen, and Captain of the Guard?

The story which began with the best-selling Tudor trilogy follows Walter Raleigh from his first days at the Elizabethan Court to the end of the Tudor dynasty.

Publication Date: 1st May 2022

Publisher: Preseli Press

Page Length: 332 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

You can purchase a copy of the book via -

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Amazon CA:

Amazon AU:

Now for the excerpt -

Westminster Palace

July 1580

Sir Francis Walsingham gestured to me to sit, and returned to studying his papers. I’d never been inside Westminster Palace before, and was surprised at the plainness of his office. His desk was empty except for an inkstand and the papers in front of him. The tapestries on the walls were faded relics from another age.

His trimmed beard was tinged with grey and he dressed in black with an outdated figure-of-eight ruff. I noted the hem of his sleeve was frayed and repaired. It seemed impossible such an influential and powerful man might be short of money, and I guessed that, unlike me, he had no concern for what he wore.

His terse note summoning me to see him offered no clue as to the reason. I expected to finally account to the queen’s principal secretary for the ruin of the Falcon. I had no idea what the punishment might be, but was so deep in debt a fine would be of little consequence.

‘It seems you’ve been making quite a nuisance of yourself since your return, Master Raleigh.’

His softly spoken voice sounded more sinister than if he’d shouted and, for once, I hesitated to spring to my own defence. I’d been restless since landing at Plymouth, fallen in with the wrong company and turned to drink to forget the burden of guilt.

‘Nothing to say?’ Sir Francis raised an eyebrow. ‘I was told you are something of a poet.’

‘I’ve been unwell, sir, after contracting a fever at sea.’

He looked through his papers. ‘There is the matter of oranges, stolen from a Spanish merchant ship in Dartmouth.’

‘I swear I had no part in that, sir.’

‘The Privy Council believes you did, but I’m sure the Spanish can spare a few oranges.’

I smiled at his understatement, beginning to like him, despite my dire situation. Some members of the impoverished Falcon crew had taken the Spanish merchant ship one moonless night. They sailed her to Torbay, and sold her valuable cargo of ripe fruit before the alarm was raised.

Sir Francis turned his papers to the next page. ‘You were summoned again to the Privy Council, and sent to the Fleet prison for a week for fighting with Sir Thomas Perrot.’ His eyes narrowed. ‘You know Her Majesty’s views on duelling?’

‘It wasn’t a duel, sir. Thomas Perrot was also sentenced to the Fleet, so the Privy Council understood the fault was not entirely mine. He offended me, and I demanded his apology.’

‘Sir Thomas Perrot is well known for his ability to give offence. If I were to demand an apology from every man who offended me, I would be busy indeed.’ He read the next page and looked up at me. ‘You were then committed to Marshalsea prison for fighting in the street and wounding a man named Edward Wingfield.’ He frowned. ‘You were released from the Fleet on a good conduct bond from the Privy Council.’

My hand formed a fist at the memory. ‘I was set upon by Perrot’s friends, who lay in wait to ambush me as I walked here in Westminster. I believed they intended to murder me, sir.’

‘This was the third time you’ve been before the Privy Council in as many months.’ Sir Francis leaned forwards in his chair, fixing me with his intense stare. ‘What are we to do with you, Master Raleigh?’

I had no answer for him and sat in dejected silence, waiting to hear my punishment. I cursed my bad luck.
Things could not be much worse. My reputation was destroyed, and I’d come to the Privy Council’s notice once too often, through no fault of my own.

Sir Francis smiled, for the first time. ‘You are fortunate that I see some of your redeeming qualities. You are the only commander who refused to abandon Sir Humphrey Gilbert’s expedition. I also hear you’ve proved a natural leader, and an able ship’s captain.’

My conscience urged me to point out that half of my crew failed to return, but I recalled that Simon Fernandez was Sir Francis Walsingham’s man. We’d formed an unexpected bond, and he would have given the queen’s spymaster a colourful account of my part in our voyage.

Sir Francis didn’t wait for my answer. ‘The Spanish believe Ireland is our Achilles heel and are plotting another revolt. We’re sending reinforcements, and you will have a Crown commission of the rank of captain, and an opportunity to redeem yourself.’

It sounded like an order, but my mind filled with the possibilities of a new adventure. My brother had been knighted for his service in Ireland. I could become one of Walsingham’s men, part of his network of trusted informers, put my past behind me and win my longed-for place at court.

‘I would be honoured, sir.’

He nodded. ‘A hundred men have been mustered here in London. You will take them to Cork, and report to the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Lord Grey of Wilton.’ He spoke as if I had no choice, leaving me wondering whether this was my punishment, or a test.

Tony Riches
Tony Riches is a full-time UK author of best-selling historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the lives of the Tudors. He also runs the popular
Stories of the Tudorspodcast, and posts book reviews, author interviews and guest posts at his blog, The Writing Desk. For more information about Tonys books please visit his website and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches

You can connect with Tony Riches via these platforms -
Till the next time.
Take care Zoe

Wednesday 8 June 2022

Welcoming Mercedes Rochelle and her book - The Accursed King - to my blog

Today I'm welcoming Mercedes Rochelle and her book - The Accursed King (Book 4, The Plantagenet Legacy) - to my blog as part of the blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club (founded by Mary Anne Yarde)

I am delighted to introduce you all to this book.

The Accursed King

What happens when a king loses his prowess? The day Henry IV could finally declare he had vanquished his enemies, he threw it all away with an infamous deed. No English king had executed an archbishop before. And divine judgement was quick to follow. Many thought he was struck with leprosy—God's greatest punishment for sinners. From that point on, Henry's health was cursed and he fought doggedly on as his body continued to betray him—reducing this once great warrior to an invalid. Fortunately for England, his heir was ready and eager to take over. But Henry wasn't willing to relinquish what he had worked so hard to preserve. No one was going to take away his royal prerogative—not even Prince Hal. But Henry didn't count on Hal's dauntless nature, which threatened to tear the royal family apart.

Publication Date: 18th April 2022

Publisher: Sergeant Press

Page Length: 282 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

You can purchase a copy of the book via -

Amazon UK:

Series Links:

A King Under Siege (Book 1):

The King’s Retribution (Book 2):

The Usurper King (Book 3):

The Accursed King (Book 4):

This book is free to read with #KindleUnlimited subscription

Mercedes Rochelle

Mercedes Rochelle is an ardent lover of medieval history, and has channeled this interest into fiction writing. Her first four books cover eleventh-century Britain and events surrounding the Norman Conquest of England. The next series is called The Plantagenet Legacy about the struggles and abdication of Richard II, leading to the troubled reigns of the Lancastrian Kings. She also writes a blog: to explore the history behind the story. Born in St. Louis, MO, she received by BA in Literature at the Univ. of Missouri St.Louis in 1979 then moved to New York in 1982 while in her mid-20s to see the world. The search hasnt ended! Today she lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.

You can connect with Mercedes Rochelle via -





Amazon Author Page:


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

Tour Schedule Page:

That's it for now.

Till the next time.

Take care Zoe.