The Emperor of Shoes by Spencer Wise

emperorIf this isn’t on the Not the Booker list then it should be.

It’s hard to say which character should really have been in the spotlight in this book. In this case it is Alex, but I would love to hear the story from Ivy’s perspective and delve deeper into her life. Perhaps even go back to Tiananmen Square, the story of her sister and the massacre.

Ivy shows Alex the reality of living as immigrants and worker bees in and under the oppressive regime of the Chinese government. She opens his eyes to the injustices happening on a daily basis all around them.

Alex struggles with fitting in the way his father expects him to, and he dislikes the hypocrisy his father displays. After experiencing oppression, genocide and hatred because of their faith it seems a paradox that their family be involved in the oppression of other human beings.

Towards the end I think it is fair to say that Alex begins to doubt whether Ivy has pure motives. Did she intentionally target and manipulate the privileged heir? Is the scent of freedom stronger than her conscience or is it her guilty conscience driving her actions and words?

The relationship between Alex and his father is the catalyst that propels the young man forward and helps him to discover his backbone. The old man is one of the dinosaurs, the old boy capitalist brigade who detest change and put money over everything else.

This story encompasses a lot of genres including history, politics, civil and human rights. It’s important to remember the modern era in which this takes place and take note of the injustices. It’s ironic, actually it is ruthless and tragic, that capitalists who profit from democracies in their native countries profit financially from having factories and using workforces in countries run by autocratic regimes and/or oppressive communist regimes.

This is a story of awakening and also about acknowledging the corruption hidden in the guise of employment and development. I look forward to reading more by Wise in the future.

Buy The Emperor of Shoes at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: No Exit Press

Follow @SpencerWise10 @noexitpress on Twitter

Visit spencerwiseauthor.com

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#BlogTour The Very White of Love by S.C. Worrall

It’s my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for The Very White of Love by Simon Worrall. It is a nostalgic ode to Nancy and Martin, and of course to their love and a relationship that took place across many miles through the medium of pen and paper.

About the Author

S.C. Worrall was born in Wellington, England and spent his childhood in Eritrea, Paris an Singapore. Since 1984, he has been a full-time, freelance journalist and book author. He has written for National Geographic, GQ, The London Times and The Guardian. He has also made frequent appearances on Radio and TV, including the BBC’s From Our Own Correspondent: NPR and PBS. He speaks six languages and has lived in or visited more than 70 countries. The Very White of Love is his debut novel.

Follow @simonworrall @HQStories

Visit simonworrallauthor.com

Buy The Very White of Love

About the book

Torn apart by war, their letters mean everything…

‘My love. I am writing to you without knowing where you are but I will find you after all these long months…’

3rd September September 1938. Martin Preston is in his second year of Oxford when his world is split in two by a beautiful redhead, Nancy Whelan. A whirlwind romance blossoms in the Buckinghamshire countryside as dark clouds begin to gather in Europe.

3rd September 1939. Britain declares war on Germany. Martin is sent to the battlefields of France, but as their letters cross the channel, he tells Nancy their love will keep him safe. Then, one day, his letters stop.

3rd September 1940. It’s four months since Nancy last heard from Martin. She knows he is still alive. And she’ll do anything to find him. But what she discovers will change her life forever.

Review

This story of romance, first love and the tragedy of war is based on the correspondence between Martin Preston and Nancy Whelan. Her son found the letters and a picture of Martin after the death of his mother, and decided to tell the world about this forgotten blip in time instead of letting it fall into the deep hole of unknown stories.

Unfortunately none or not many of her letters exist, but the author has been able to give the reader a good idea what they would have looked like based on Martin’s emotional and honest letters to Nancy.

Aside from the romantic element of the story, the author also highlights the tragedy of war. In this case both World Wars, during which whole generations of young men were annihilated, and damaged both mentally and physically. Even the men lucky enough to return home were never the same again. You don’t just bury trauma like that without it leaving some kind of mark.

One of the things I think is important to note when discussing the events of both the Great War and World War 2, is the military hierarchy and how it influenced the process of decision-making and number of fatalities. In fact it is probably also the case in other war conflicts and so-called skirmishes. There is this automatic assumption that academic learning and higher socio-economic status in life equates to good leadership skills in the military hierarchy.

This meant that inexperienced, and often very young men were made officers and therefore put in charge of the lives of all men beneath them in the hierarchy. The irony of the fact these boys had lower ranking men with prior war and military experience working beneath them and giving them advice, and yet not in charge, is just tragic in every sense of the word.

Men who have no clue what the situation is on the ground are making decisions that will ultimately kill many innocent men, because they are playing games of strategy in their office. Officers not suited to their positions are leading hundreds of men into traps. Is it any wonder the majority of lower ranking soldiers speak of the same frustration when it comes to the reality of war.

Anyway I digress, although in a way it is pertinent to how Martin ended up where he was and perhaps ultimately decided his fate and that of many others. Although the information was hard to gather, put together and the exact truth will never be known, it is fair to say he was a brave man.

I believe Simon Worrall has made the best of a double-edged sword. He found a secret that determined the inner emotional stability and/or turmoil of his mother and her marriage to his father. She kept the torch burning for Martin throughout her life. Their love was romanticised in her head, especially because it was never physical, and the dreams of a wedding and children were never fulfilled.

It’s the not knowing that makes the brutally interrupted first love something she dwells on in moments of unhappiness or frustration. The trauma of not knowing the truth, and perhaps never quite believing it, stayed with her forever.

It’s a beautiful story, probably one of very many during that particular era, but this one provided the author with enough physical evidence to be able to replicate the events. Obviously he has filled in certain scenes with fictional dialogues and descriptions, but he does so with the greatest respect towards his own family and the family of Martin Preston.

It is a nostalgic ode to Nancy and Martin, and of course to their love and a relationship that took place across many miles through the medium of pen and paper.

Buy The Very White of Love at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Published by HQ 14th June 2018 Hardback  ebook  Audio

#BlogTour Absolution by Paul E. Hardisty

It is my pleasure to host the BlogTour for Absolution by Paul E. Hardisty today. Absolution is the fourth book in the Claymore Straker series by Hardisty, and by Jove it does not disappoint. Looks to me like Hardisty is just getting warmed up!

About the Author

Canadian Paul Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). He is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia.

To connect with Paul E. Hardisty follow @Hardisty_Paul or @Orendabooks on Twitter

Follow Hardisty on facebook.com/paul.hardisty.9

Buy Absolution

About the book

It is 1997, eight months since vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker fled South Africa after his explosive testimony to Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In Paris, Rania LaTour, journalist, comes home to find that her son and her husband, a celebrated human rights lawyer, have disappeared. On an isolated island off the coast of East Africa, the family that Clay has befriended is murdered as he watches.

So begins the fourth instalment in the Claymore Straker series, a breakneck journey through the darkest reaches of the human soul, as Clay and Rania fight to uncover the mystery behind the disappearances and murders, and find those responsible. Events lead them both inexorably to Egypt, where an act of the most shocking terrorist brutality will reveal not only why those they loved were sacrificed, but how they were both, indirectly, responsible. Relentlessly pursued by those who want them dead, they must work together to uncover the truth, and to find a way to survive in a world gone crazy. At times brutal, often lyrical, but always gripping, Absolution is a thriller that will leave you breathless and questioning the very basis of how we live and why we love.

Review

Hardisty has stepped up his game since Reconciliation for the Dead (Claymore Straker #3). The flow of the story, dialogue, plot and interactions between characters – everything has been taken up a notch to create a read par excellence in this fourth book of the Straker series.

The story switches between two characters throughout the duration of the book. We follow Claymore as he is tracked and hunted for speaking out against heinous crimes, and Rania who feels compelled to track and hunt those who have taken her loved ones from her.

Rania’s account is written as if she were writing a letter to Clay or having a constant inner dialogue with herself, with Clay and often even with God. Clay’s part of the story is written in the here and now, as a story would evolve naturally.

It gives the reader a feeling of being in the midst of intense action scenes one minute, and then switching to this nostalgic, almost apologetic intimate dialogue in the next minute. If you have ever read or seen The English Patient, you will understand what I mean. The only difference is The EP wanders from past to present, whereas this takes place simultaneously in the same time period, but in different countries at first.

Hardisty is without a doubt honing his skills as a writer and a storyteller. Absolution is an extraordinary venture into the action genre. It brims with political intrigue, sins of the past and betrayal, and the tension is as taut as a wire strung with the deadly intention of a hidden assassin.

The beginning lures the reader in with the mellow warmth of the beautiful setting, which is quickly interrupted by persistent enemies and ruthless collaborators. The pace goes from that of a hesitant uncertain gazelle to a lion stalking its prey with a dogged stride, until the characters collide with unexpected violence and irreparable consequences.

Hardisty can take his place up there with the best of them with Absolution, it is an exceptional read.

Buy Absolution (Claymore Straker #4) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Published by Orenda Books. Visit orendabooks.co.uk

Kindle released 30th March 2018  Paperback release 30th May 2018

Read my review of Reconciliation for the Dead

The Claymore Straker series:

Buy The Abrupt Physics of Dying (Claymore Straker #1),

Buy The Evolution of Fear (Claymore Straker #2)

Buy Reconciliation for the Dead (Claymore Straker #3)

Queen of the North by Anne O’Brien

queenof the northThere are few ways of approaching a story that ventures into historical fiction, stories with the odd bit of history thrown in for good luck or to validate a time period, fiction that imagines a different narrative of history and stories with inaccurate historical facts.

Then you have the authors, who like Anne O’Brien, incorporate their story within the confines of accurate historical narratives, obviously with a wee bit of artistic licence here and there, thereby making it more than just a read. It is an experience of culture, learning and history.

In Queen of the North O’Brien takes the reader to the events in 1399, and although they aren’t given as much attention as the events that unfold a few decades later, they are pivotal to said events. They are the seeds that are sown, which bring about the later catalyst and murderous power struggles between the York and Lancaster cousins of the Plantagenet house.

From the very beginning one thing is clear about Elizabeth, she will never forget the fact she is a Mortimer or the legitimacy of their claim to the throne. Her loyalty to the name comes before any loyalty towards her husband, the Percy family and even her own children.

In fact I would go so far as to claim hypocrisy, because the political power plays and machinations of the men she is surrounded by are no different to her own secret plans and ploys. Fluttering eyelashes, sweet voices and wiles of a woman, all in the name of her own agenda. Elizabeth has to take a step back and consider her own portion of guilt in regards to her husband, his untimely death and the desecration of his corpse.

Along with her propensity for elaborate prose and descriptive writing, O’Brien’s powerful characters are what I enjoy the most about her books. She is in a class of her own, and in my personal opinion belongs up there with the best.

Buy Queen of the North at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @anne_obrien @HQStories @HarperCollinsUk

Visit anneobrien.co.uk

My Dear Ones: One Family and the Final Solution by Jonathan Wittenberg

my dear onesWittenberg presents the fate of his family members and friends through a series of written correspondence throughout the Nazi regime, the war and the years after WW2.

I can imagine it must have been incredibly painful and frustrating to read such loving, but often mundane letters, knowing that they were being prevented from writing the truth. Their letters were censored and towards the end more or less dictated to them by others, to give the impression they were being cared for by their captors.

At times it seems as if the author would rather accept the frivolity and pretence of the content of the letters, despite being aware of and relating the historical facts and truth. I believe this is his attempt to maintain a scholars neutrality. Never presume, and if you can, always back your facts up with evidence, which he has done in every instance. He has narrowed down the possible scenarios to the nearest provable possibility, and does not venture into what might have happened. His conclusions are based on written testimony and eyewitness reports.

The factor of the unknown is what plagued, and still plagues, the majority of the survivors and their descendants. The Nazi regime and their collaborators were meticulous record-keepers and when the time came experts at destroying said records and evidence.

You can’t erase years of well-planned mass murder. You can however change the narrative of history, which is why Holocaust deniers are so dangerous.

Wittenberg reads between the lines, as his family members have done before him, so the narrative becomes one between stark reality and wishful thinking. It is obvious that Jonathan Wittenberg has spent a lot of time searching for some wisp of memory, a physical residue or a sense of being in the locations his ancestors once walked, lived and died in.

In trying to find understanding and peace, he has also tried to find an imprint they may have made on their journey through life. Something more than just restricted handwritten letters, and although these are a priceless family heirloom, one can feel he wanted to connect with them on a more spiritual level. I feel you, I feel your pain. We are family, my blood is your blood, and we will never forget you.

Which is of course the essence of any biographical or autobiographical story about the Holocaust. To tell the world, remind the new generations of those who live on only in the memories of their loved ones, so they will be less inclined to repeat the past.

In his own way Jonathan Wittenberg, Rabbi Wittenberg has created a written testimony to keep the memories alive. To keep the truth from being extinguished, much like every inch of their existence and their lives were eradicated in an attempt to act as if they had never even existed at all.

Buy My Dear Ones at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @RabbiWittenberg

Visit jonathanwittenberg.org

#BlogTour Aphrodite’s Tears by Hannah Fielding

Today @kraftireader and I are kicking off the Blog-Tour for Aphrodite’s Tears by Hannah Fielding. It is a delectable delight of mythology, history and a passionate romance. My post also features a fantastic Q&A with Hannah Fielding, and my review of course.

About the Author

Following her huge success as one of the UK’s leading romance authors with total sales of over 130k, Aphrodite’s Tears follows the award winning success of Hannah Fielding’s previous novels Burning Embers, Echoes of Love, Masquerade, Legacy and Indiscretion. Echoes of Love won Romance Novel of the Year at the IPB Awards in 2012 and Burning Embers was Amazon’s book of the month in 2011, while Hannah’s novels have been translated into 13 languages. With its spectacular setting and deep emotional drama, Aphrodite’s Tears will appeal both to fans of her backlist, as well as lovers of atmospheric travel writing including Santa Montefiore, Penny Vincenzie, Victoria Hislop and Lucinda Riley.

Egyptian by birth Hannah is fluent in French, English and Arabic and has lived all over the world, she currently lives between her writing retreat in the South of France and her rambling family home in Ireland. Hannah’s grandmother, Esther Fanous, was the revolutionary feminist writer in Egypt during the early 1900s and helped found the Women’s Wafd Central Committee in 1920.

Follow @fieldinghannah on Twitter or AuthorHannahFielding on Facebook

Visit hannahfielding.net Visit London Wall Publishing

Buy Aphrodite’s Tears

About the book

Summer 1977, Oriel Anderson finds herself on the charming Greek island of Helios hoping to fulfil a long held dream or joining an archaeological dive team. Broken hearted after her university fiancé left her for her best friend, Oriel is determined to prove she can make it in a man’s world heading up an all-male team on her first underwater dig.

Spending her days excavating a Roman shipwreck, surrounded by turquoise waters and scorching sunshine, Oriel thinks that she has found paradise, until she meets her employer and the owner of the Island, Damian Lekkas.

A widower, with a scarred face, Damian is a brooding presence on the island who instantly takes a shine to Oriel, but Oriel resolves to maintain a professional relationship between them.  But the mercurial Damian has other ideas, and Oriel’s stay soon becomes a battle between her head and her heart.

When strange things start happening Oriel doesn’t know what to think. She learns that no other women who had come to work on the dive had lasted more than a few weeks, then a young boy almost drowns on one of the dives, and one morning Oriel finds a dead songbird in her room, its throat slit, and out exploring the beaches on her own Oriel becomes trapped in a cave. Could these things just be a coincidence or is someone trying to send her a warning?

A modern retelling of some of the most popular Greek myths, Aphrodite’s Tears evokes the Legends of the Gods, their power and passion, playfulness and cunning.

Q&A

The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms would like to know) I have just finished reading Mythos: A Retelling of the Myths of Ancient Greece by Stephen Fry. He is such an intelligent and considered writer; I am very much enjoying his take on Greek mythology. I only wish the book were more comprehensive – no Troy and Odysseus, no Jason and the Argonauts, no Theseus and the Minotaur, no Heracles’ labours. Perhaps he will publish a second volume.

Books or authors who have inspired you to put pen to paper? I think it was the romantic writers like Victoria Holt, MM Kaye, Charlotte Bronte and Daphne du Maurier who inspired me and still inspire me the most: the romance, the detail in description, the beautiful, almost poetic prose. I am also deeply inspired by the French romantic authors of the 19th century, like Stendhal, Musset, Theophile Gautier, Leconte de Lisle and Victor Hugo, whose works formed the basis of my university degree in literature.

 
The last book you read which you felt left a mark (in your heart, soul, wallet…you name it)? Helen Dunmore’s collection of poetry Inside the Wave moved me deeply. She died this year, very soon after the publication of the book, which is about life and death and the borderline between. It was through her poem ‘Hold Out Your Arms’, published widely in the media after her death, that I discovered the book. It really is beautiful. You can read it here:
 
Are you more of a movie night or series-binger kind of person?
I love series, because just as I love thick books, I enjoy long, sustained stories on screen. Films can leave you wanting more, but series allow you to really get to know the characters, and there is plenty of scope for detailed, intricate plots with twists and turns that compel you to watch the next episode – and the next! Recently, I have been in a ‘royal phase’, watching The Crown about Queen Elizabeth II and Victoria about Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
 
Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet?
Margaret Mitchell, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gone with the Wind. I would love to know how the writing process was for her (supposedly, she wrote the ending of the book first, and then went back and wrote the story leading up to that ending) and how she enjoyed the epic movie based on the work. I’m also fascinated by her refusal, despite pressure, to write a sequel – and I wonder what she would make of the two sequels by other writers that were released many years later, after her death.
 
From where did you get your inspiration for Aphrodite’s Tears, and why did you pick Greece as the setting?
Quite simply, Greece is one of my favourite parts of the globe. It’s a very special place for me, because it is so romantic. I bought my wedding dress in Greece – and I felt like a goddess wearing it; and my husband and I honeymooned there. One of the best evenings of my life was spent in the Acropolis in Athens, watching a production of the Sleeping Beauty ballet under the stars.
 
Greek mythology plays an important role in Aphrodite’s Tears, in fact I would say it is the essence of the story. Do you think it is becoming a lost and forgotten subject?
The Ancient Greeks left such a rich inheritance of legends – stories full of wisdom, and a god or goddess for everything, from love and war to wine-making. It would be such a shame for those legends to fade from memory, I think.
Creative minds find all kinds of ways to reinvent old stories, whether legends or fairy tales.  In the 1960s, for example, colour films like Jason and the Argonauts brought the Greek myths to life. Fast-forward to the early 2000s and writer Rick Riordan’s ‘Percy Jackson’ series was enchanting children all over the world.
The Greek myths have timeless appeal, so I don’t think they will ever be lost. The main issue appears to be confusion between the Greek myths and the Roman ones, because there is considerable overlap between them.
 
Leading on from the previous question, along with mythology there is also a heavy emphasis on history and the cultural identity of the Greek people. How important was it to you to try and give your readers a real sense and taste of all of those elements?
Absolutely essential. I don’t just want to tell readers a story; I want to draw them into that story. I want them to be sitting in their armchair in London or Kansas or Amsterdam and be transported to a little Greek island – to feel the sun on their face, to smell the fishermen’s catch of the day, to taste the tang of the salt air on their tongue. I so love to travel, I want to help my readers travel too. Only then can they really understand the context of the story that unfolds, and believe in the characters.
 
Helios sometimes appears to be an island lost in time, especially when it comes to the gender inequality. Women are still not treated the same as men when it comes to inheritance and marriage. Is this an imbalance so ingrained in their society that they refuse to let go of it, because the Greek feel that it would be like letting go of their historical past and traditions?
I think all cultures find change difficult, particularly when a way of being has existed for a very long time. As you suggest, granting women full equality would mean letting go of past traditions – and these are important for a people’s identity. The island of Helios is traditional, and that can have a downside for women; but it also has an upside in terms of men providing for and protecting their families. Just as ancient Greeks revered goddesses, so do men of this island appreciate women.
 
There are occasional glimpses of the third eye, the divine instruments of fate and the connection between folklore and mythology.  The beliefs of the Greek are linked with all of those things. Do you believe in fate?
Yes, I do, which is why the concept appears in my most of my fiction in some way or another. I don’t believe that our futures are already written and we have no power over our destiny. But I do believe that something things are meant to be, and that if we are open to there being a guiding force, it can lead us to places where we can be our very best selves.
 
Will we be hearing from the inhabitants of Helios again?
I think not. It is never easy to part from characters; to leave them at a point in time in a story, even with the suggestion of a bright future ahead. But being an author is about writing the next story: a fresh story that will capture your heart and transport you to another world; a new set of characters about whom you will care deeply. I think my passion for travelling helps here: each new story is set in a new country, and I am always excited to let go of the last book and travel to the new place, where I can learn all about its people and culture.

Review

Aside from the fact the writing is beautiful, melodic even, Fielding manages to transport her readers straight onto the island of Helios. An island I would love to travel to and explore, despite it being a fictional one.

Oriel is hired in her capacity as an archaeologist trained in underwater excavation, to investigate a shipwreck on the island of Helios and catalogue any possible treasure or remnants of an ancient culture the team discovers. She is shocked to find that her employer isn’t a stranger to her, well technically he is. let’s just say they have yet to be formally introduced.

The spark between them is electric, despite the fact they are both fighting their attraction in different ways. Damian is a man with many female admirers, and Oriel is determined to only be with someone who wants her and her alone. Archaic views are quite normal in Helios, as are the traditions they follow, regardless of whether those traditions endanger the lives of the islanders.

The historical element made me want to take up scuba diving and treasure hunting. It is what makes this read more than just a romance with an intense relationship between two people in the throes of passion. The descriptive scenery, the islanders who seem to live by the rules of the middle ages, and the historical and cultural context, are what make this a beautiful read.

Helios sometimes appears to be an island lost in time. Lost in the history, the folklore and mythology of Greece. They adhere to the power of the divinities, the traditions set by the gods and of course the more mundane laws decided by man.

It is a delectable delight of mythology, history and a passionate romance. I admire authors who can transport their love of a culture and country onto the pages of a book, and in doing so inspire readers to experience new things. Not every scribe is capable of transporting their readers into the vivid imagery they create with words. Hannah Fielding is one of those authors.

Buy/Pre-order Aphrodite’s Tears at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Aphrodite’s Tears is out in paperback on 25th January for £7.99

Watch the booktrailer for Aphrodite’s Tears

Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell

Fools-and-Mortals-200x307Kudos to Cornwell for giving the works of Shakespeare their dues, especially A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He dissects the piece, as if it were the hottest new reality-soap in town. Leaving the historical references and importance of Shakespeare’s work aside for a moment, what remains are emotional roller-coasters for the masses. Shakespeare gives us drama, laughter, tears,violence and death. His plays were live television.

Cornwell is an excellent storyteller. The reader becomes so transfixed by the unfolding drama, and drawn in by the strong characters, that you almost forget everything is taking place in the Elizabethan era.

The story is about William and Richard Shakespeare, and their sibling rivalry. At the same time it is also about the existing rivalries between the various playhouses. An original play or new script is worth its weight in gold. People will pay good money to watch a new play being performed. It’s quite interesting to note how many new scripts playwrights had to come up with in such a short period of time to entertain not only the masses, but also the upper echelon of society, including the queen.

Richard struggles with the fact his brother seems to see him either as a hindrance or a complete failure. He wants acknowledgement of his talent and perhaps even an apology for being handed to the wolves by his brother. At the moment he is  always automatically picked to play the role of the pretty woman, because he is known for his striking looks. The kind of appealing physical appearance that tends to be noticed by the wrong people.

I really enjoyed it. I was expecting a story filled with heavy historical references. Instead it is a witty light-hearted entertaining read, which still manages to portray the hardships, the danger, the paranoia and the fear in that particular era, and the way of life in London.

Cornwell combines his talent for historical fiction with his concise knowledge of Shakespeare, which of course makes this a double-treat for bookworms with a penchant for both history and the works of the bard.

Buy Fools and Mortals at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @BernardCornwell @HarperCollinsUk

Visit bernardcornwell.net