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, 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.

Friday, 13 May 2022

Welcoming M. K. Tod and her book - The Admiral's Wife - to my blog

Today I'm welcoming M.K.Tod and her book - The Admiral's Wife 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 Admiral's Wife

The lives of two women living in Hong Kong more than a century apart are unexpectedly linked by forbidden love and financial scandal.

In 2016, Patricia Findlay leaves a high-powered career to move to Hong Kong, where she hopes to rekindle the bonds of family and embrace the city of her ancestors. Instead, she is overwhelmed by feelings of displacement and depression. To make matters worse, her father, CEO of the family bank, insists that Patricia’s duty is to produce an heir, even though she has suffered three miscarriages.

In 1912, when Isabel Taylor moves to Hong Kong with her husband, Henry, and their young daughter, she struggles to find her place in such a different world and to meet the demands of being the admiral’s wife. At a reception hosted by the governor of Hong Kong, she meets Li Tao-Kai, an influential member of the Chinese community and a man she met a decade earlier when he was a student at Cambridge.

As the story unfolds, each woman must consider where her loyalties lie and what she is prepared to risk for love.

Trigger Warnings:
Brief sex scenes


“Family secrets and personal ambitions, east and west, collide in this compelling, deeply moving novel." -- Weina Dai Randel, award-winning author of THE LAST ROSE OF


“Irresistible and absorbing.” Janie Chang, bestselling author of THE LIBRARY OF LEGENDS

Publication Date: 11th April 2022

Publisher: Heath Street Publishing

Page Length: 390 Pages

Genre: Dual-Timeline

You can purchase a copy of the book via -

Amazon (Universal Link):

Now for the excerpt -

At 6:00 p.m., Kennedy Road was still crowded along the winding section that cut across Victoria Peak. Hong Kong’s ubiquitous red taxis dodged from lane to lane as they ferried commuters from offices in Sheung Wan, Central, and Wan Chai to apartment buildings that crammed the hillside like an invading army. Patricia stared out the tinted windows of their limousine, idly reading the names mounted on each grand entrance gate: Camelot Heights, Wing Wai Court, Amber Garden, Bamboo Grove.

“You seem moody,” Andrew said.

“Do I?” She turned to look at him. “I’m sorry. I guess I’m still annoyed with my father.”

“Come on, sweetheart. That was more than a week ago. Just ignore him and find a job on your own.” He squeezed her hand. “What’s happened to my strong, capable wife? The woman who could handle tough negotiations with people who had twice as much experience.”

Patricia flashed him a little smile. “You’re right,” she said. “But the whole thing still pisses me off.”

Her husband rubbed the red stubble on his face, a sign that he was weighing his next words. “Should we return to New York?” he asked.

She pushed a strand of long black hair behind one ear. “No, no, no. We can’t go back to the U.S. My father would have a fit. So would my mother. But I’m going nuts with nothing to do.”

During the first three or four months in Hong Kong, Patricia had spent her days organizing their spacious apartment, exploring the city, spending time with her family, and indulging in what she thought of as frivolous pursuits like shopping and weekly pedicures. She had also played tennis, learned mahjong, taken up qigong, and made a few friends. After almost twenty years of working in a demanding career, she’d considered this interlude a well-deserved rest.

Depression had come on unexpectedly. The first sign was difficulty getting out of bed in the morning. General fatigue and irritability had followed, and there were days when she just couldn’t focus. Andrew had encouraged her to go to the doctor. Doctor Leung, her mother’s GP, had prescribed pills but after less than a month Patricia had stopped taking the medication. At the same time, she’d resolved to get back to work.

“I know it’s been difficult,” Andrew said. He took her hand again and ran his thumb across her fingers. “You’ll find something. But please don’t antagonize your father tonight. I’m finally making headway at the bank. I think he’s even beginning to appreciate my skills, which is an improvement over resenting me. If he believes he can trust me, there could be more opportunity here than back home. And more money. I have to think of the kids.”

“I wish we could see them,” she said. Sadness surged across her chest.

“So do I. Very much. But they’ll be here for Christmas.”

Andrew’s ex-wife had primary custody of his two children. When Patricia and Andrew lived in New York, Steven and Emma had spent every other weekend with them, but now that they were in Hong Kong, visits could only be scheduled during summer holidays, spring break, and Christmas, unless business took Andrew to the U.S. After agonizing over the decision, she and Andrew had agreed to restrict their relocation to three years. They both missed his children terribly, a sacrifice made more
acute by her inability to carry a baby to term.

Patricia looked at her husband, whose pale blue eyes were bloodshot from a string of late nights. She was being unreasonable but couldn’t help herself. Situations that she would have dismissed as trivial when they lived in New York had become major sources of discontent and angst.

“If I had a job . . .” Her voice trailed off. They’d been round and round the topic all week. Andrew was becoming exasperated.

“Well, given your father’s reaction, you should probably wait a while before raising that topic again.” Andrew withdrew his hand and fingered the crease of his dark gray pants. “What about looking outside banking? You’re a great project manager.”

“Maybe,” Patricia said. “But so far, every possibility I’ve found requires Asian experience and fluency in Cantonese or Mandarin.” She sighed. “Dammit. Why does he always make things so difficult?”

“To tell you the truth, I have no idea. Probably because he can. I admire many of your father’s tactics. But I don’t like the way he treats people, especially you.” Andrew’s voice was gentler than before. “Aren’t you seeing someone about that board position?”

“Mm-hmm. Arthur Chung said it’s mine if I want it.” She linked her fingers with Andrew’s. “We’re meeting Friday afternoon for a briefing on the role he wants me to play. I’m sure he only asked me to get a donation from Ah Ba, but it could be interesting.”

Their driver merged the Mercedes onto Queen’s Road East, past hotels and schools along with a Sikh temple and remnants of air-raid tunnels built during the Second World War. Traffic was at a standstill.

“Well, make the best of it for now,” he said. “I’m sure things will get better.”

Patricia knew her husband was trying to be helpful, but his remark felt patronizing. She hated being patronized. Unlike many of her male colleagues who had underestimated her abilities, Andrew had treated her as an equal from the day they’d met. Had their new circumstances changed his perspective? Was she only his equal when they were both working?

After she’d told him about the conversation with her father, Andrew had asked why she’d allowed her parents to persuade her to live in a place that had never been her home. Patricia hadn’t replied. And ever since, the question had hovered, unsettling in its stark clarity.

She loved her parents, despite their idiosyncrasies and traditional ways. And they loved her. Of that she was certain. Eighteen months earlier, when she and Andrew still lived in New York, her mother had ended a lengthy argument about Patricia’s duty to her family by saying, “We’ll be dead soon and then you’ll be sorry you never came back.”

That conversation had been the tipping point. After much debate, Andrew had agreed to try living in Hong Kong. They’d also agreed that if it didn’t work out, they would return to New York. Ever since, she’d felt displaced, torn between Andrew’s world and the Chinese world of her parents. Her husband expected a modern businesswoman with Western values; her parents expected a dutiful Chinese daughter. The two were irreconcilable.

“I wonder when this place is going to feel like home,” Patricia said.

“You’re the one—”

“Yes, I know,” she said. “I’m the one who wanted to move here. I’m just a little out of sorts. But don’t worry. I’ll make nice with my father. You should know, though, that I’m not going to put up with him telling me what to do any longer.”

M.K. Tod

M.K. (Mary) Tod’s interest in historical fiction began as a teenager immersed in the stories of Rosemary Sutcliff, Jean Plaidy, and Georgette Heyer. In 2004, her husband’s career took them to Hong Kong where, with no job and few prospects, Mary began what became Unravelled, her first novel. The Admiral’s Wife is her fifth novel.

Mary’s award-winning blog,, focuses on reading and writing historical fiction. She’s an active member of the historical fiction community and has conducted five unique reader surveys on topics from readers’ habits and preferences to favorite historical fiction authors. Mary is happily married to her high-school sweetheart. They have two adult children and two delightful grandsons.

You can connect with Mary Tod via these platforms -