#Blogtour Raiders of the Hidden Ark: The Story of the Parker Expedition to Jerusalem by Graham Addison

It’s my turn on the BlogTour Raiders of the Hidden Ark by Graham Addison .

About the Author

Graham Addison – BIO: My first love is history, which is what I obtained my degree in from Leeds University. I am married with two children, who are no longer children, have lived in Scotland and France and now reside in Berkshire in the south of England.

History may be my first love but I have spent the last thirty-five years helping create the modern world. If you love the world of mobile communications, personal computing, spreadsheets, instantly being able to search for any answer in the world and online financial transactions then I played a small part in its creation. If you hate a world in which people spent all their time on their phones, can’t be bothered to remember anything because they can always look it up, you are asked to fill in yet another spreadsheet and can’t deal with an individual because you are always dealing with a computer then I am sorry, it wasn’t all my fault.

A few years ago I decided that wanted to do something different. I came back to my first love and have now written a book, which seeks to shed new flight on an almost forgotten episode. I hope you will enjoy it. Follow @GrahamAddison7 on Twitter, Visit www.grahamaddison.com

About the book

The mystery surrounding the Ark of the Covenant’s location is among the world’s greatest and most enduring. One of the Bible’s most sacred and powerful objects has not been seen for over 2,500 years. The missing Ark has inspired many quests and even a famous film.

Perhaps the most remarkable of the quests to find the Ark is the Parker expedition. Its story seems stranger than fiction and includes aristocrats, poets, psychics, secret cyphers in the Bible, a deadly curse, bribery, gun-running, riots, and madness. It sounds unbelievable but the Parker expedition is real. Rudyard Kipling, who knew several expedition members, wrote ‘Talk of fiction! Fiction isn’t in it’.

Previously untold in English in its entirety, Graham Addison has uncovered many new details during his research. He skilfully weaves these together in the amazing story of the individuals who sailed on a private yacht bound for Jerusalem in 1909 to retrieve the Ark. He examines who the adventurers were, why they went, what really happened while they were in Jerusalem and what happened to them afterwards.


This is the story of the Parker Expedition, an expedition mounted by a peculiar bunch, who weren’t experts per se, but certainly enthusiastic and meticulous in their attempt to find the Ark of the Covenant. From the research, the motives, the dismissive attitude towards the looting of antiquities and the historical importance and legacy of said research – the author covers it all.

I was sceptical about this read in a sense that I thought it would be a tale of religious zealots or passionate historians trying to find a mythical boat. Even now the tale of the Ark inspires many for a multitude of reasons, often spiritual and of course there is the element of infamy plus possible financial gains.

It’s exactly those reasons for the Parker Expedition that the author goes into in details. I can honestly say by the end that Addison had drawn me in hook, line and sinker. I do love a well-researched venture into history, especially when the object in question holds such power in religion, and yet the author gives facts without playing into the aspect of religion other than written references left throughout history.

I found the political and historical implications of the Parker Expedition absolutely fascinating – certainly in regards to the last few decades. Follow the money couldn’t be any more accurate, and of course why said money sources have an invested interest in this particular hotbed area of contention.

Buy Raiders of the Hidden Ark at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Edgcumbe Press pub date 13 Aug. 2021. Buy at Amazon com

#BlogTour The Twins of Auschwitz by Eva Mozes Kor with Lisa Rojany Buccieri

It’s a pleasure to take part in the last day of this fantastic BlogTour for The Twins of Auschwitz by Eva Mozes Kor with Lisa Rojany Buccieri.

About the Author

Eva Mozes Kor was a resident of Terre Haute, Indiana. Following her survival of Auschwitz, she became a recognised speaker, both nationally and internationally, on topics related to the Holocaust and social justice. Eva created the CANDLES organisation in 1985 to locate other Mengele twins and found 122 twins across the world. Ten years later, she opened the CANDLES Holocaust Museum to educate the public about the historic event she survived. A community leader, champion of human rights, and tireless educator, Eva has been covered in numerous media outlets and is the subject of a documentary, Forgiving Dr. Mengele. She passed away in 2019.

Find more books by Eva Mozes Kor on Amazonon Goodreads, Visit The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum ushmm.org and candlesholocaustmuseum.orgBuy The Twins of Auschwitz

Follow on Lisa Rojany Buccieri on Amazonon Goodreads, Visit lisarojany.com

About the book

In the summer of 1944, Eva Mozes Kor and her family arrived at Auschwitz. Within thirty minutes, they were separated. Her parents and two older sisters were taken to the gas chambers, while Eva and her twin, Miriam, were herded into the care of the man who became known as the Angel of Death: Dr. Josef Mengele. They were 10 years old.

The Nazis spared their lives because they were twins.

While twins at Auschwitz were granted the ‘privileges’ of keeping their own clothes and hair, they were also subjected to Mengele’s sadistic medical experiments. They were forced to fight daily for their own survival, and many died as a result of the experiments, or from the disease and hunger rife in the concentration camp.

Publishing for the first time in the UK in the year that marks the 75th anniversary of Auschwitz liberation, The Twins of Auschwitz shares the inspirational story of a child’s endurance and survival in the face of truly extraordinary evil.

Also included is an epilogue on Eva’s incredible recovery and her remarkable decision to publicly forgive the Nazis. Through her museum and her lectures, she dedicated her life to giving testimony on the Holocaust, providing a message of hope for people who have suffered, and worked toward goals of forgiveness, peace, and the elimination of hatred and prejudice in the world.


Eva Mozes Kor is or was a remarkable woman. She dedicated the majority of her life to educating the world on the horrors of The Holocaust, the loss of her family, and the experiences both and her twin sister Miriam were subjected to at the hands of Dr. Josef Mengele. She also made a lot of waves and created discussion because of her choice to forgive her tormentors and the Nazis. She was very vocal, and watching the documentary Forgiving Dr. Mengele will give more insight into this approach to taking back the power for herself and living with some semblance of peace.

Given the level of atrocities, the systematic and well-oiled machinery of murder, which was used to annihilate millions of children, women and men – it’s perhaps hard to understand the willingness to forgive. Understandable however if viewed merely from each person and their own perspective. How they live and deal with that burden of pain, torment, memories, nightmares and the survivor’s guilt, is not for anyone else to judge. In equal measures neither is the way others deal with the anguish, anger or the way the legacy of trauma has caused epigenetic changes to the genes of Holocaust Survivor’s and their children.

Eva Mozes Kor was very clear on it being her personal path, but also one she hoped others could find peace with. I think it is important that survivors share their stories and journeys in an attempt to stop the past from repeating itself, especially given the rise of anti-Semitism in the 21st century. We are seeing fascists, far-right and Nazi parties with politically correct party names sit in governments throughout Europe. Hate crimes against Jews are on the rise, Swastikas and Juden Raus are scrawled on walls, and neo-Nazis march through the streets once again. That’s why the eyewitness and survivor accounts are so important.

It’s a poignant story that should be shared and retold.

Buy The Twins of Auschwitz at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Monoray: pub date 6 August 2020 | Paperback | £7.99. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Children of War by Ahmet Yorulma

Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Children of War by Ahmet Yorulma, translated from Turkish by Paula Darwish.

About the Author

Ahmet Yorulmaz was a Turkish a journalist, author and translator. He was born in Ayvalik to a family of Cretan Turks deported to mainland Turkey as part of the Greek-Turkish population exchange decreed in the Treaty of Lausanne. He was fluent in modern Greek and translated novels and poems from contemporary Greek literature to Turkish.

Most of his original works were written with the aim of making people learn about Ayvalık, the city where he grew up. He dedicated himself to Greek-Turkish friendship and rapprochement.

About the Translator

Paula Darwish is a freelance translator and professional musician. She read Turkish Language and Literature with Middle Eastern History at SOAS in London graduating with a First in 1997. She is a qualified member of the Institute of Translators and Interpreters (MITI).

Follow Ahmet Yorulma on GoodreadsBuy Children of War

About the book

Hassanakis is a young Muslim boy of Turkish descent growing up on Crete during WWI. Fifteen generations of his family have lived on the island and until now he has never had any reason not to think he is a Cretan. But with the Great Powers tussling over the collapsing Ottoman Empire and the island’s Christians in rebellion, an outbreak of ethnic violence forces his family to flee to the Cretan city of Chania.

He begins to lay down roots and his snappy dress earns him the nickname of Hassan ‘the mirror’. As WWI draws to a close and the Turkish War of Independence rages, he begins a heady romance with

the elegant Hüsniye. There are rumours that the Cretan Muslims will be sent to Turkey but Hassanakis can’t believe he will be sent to a country whose language he barely knows and where he knows no-one.


My bad, I had no idea the history of Crete was such a geo-political minefield and that the migration associated with it was so complex. A powder-keg of two national identities and religions who live together peacefully, until pot-stirrers looking for power and acknowledgment stoke hatred, which sets the two against each other.

Hassanakis is a young boy, a Muslim boy of Turkish descent who only knows peace and friendship between the Turks and the Cretans of Greek descent. His father starts to speak about rumours of dissent and trouble aimed at anyone of Turkish descent. His fear and paranoia seem to be pulled out of thin air, as he uproots his family to head for a safer location.

The violence they and others encounter leaves a permanent stain on the family as they find themselves in the middle of  ethnic violence. People who have lived on Crete for many generations and yet now find themselves without jobs, businesses and homes. They are targeted, attacked, raped, murdered and those left living become displaced persons.

It’s historical, geo-political fiction or rather a fictional family in the midst of a factual historical setting.

One of my favourite things about this book is the conversations it can generate. After reading it I had a chat with a fellow book enthusiast about the history, so the author achieves both a story and a history lesson at the same time. Now that may not sound interesting to some readers, but it does serve an important purpose.

In times where the curriculum can no longer fit every single bit of history in and the history of the country you live in supersedes the majority of other countries history – many important moments get lost. The kind of important historical moments that help to explain old animosity and scars, conflicts that are often continued over decades and centuries.

It’s a fascinating story of upheaval, displacement and national identity.

Buy Children of War at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Neem Tree Press; pub date 26 Mar. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Murders of Old China by Paul French

Today it’s a pleasure to review the Audiobook Murders of Old China by Paul French. It is narrated by Paul French.

About the Author

Paul French was born in Enfield, London and moved to Shanghai after studying Chinese at the City Literary Institute. Paul spent nearly twenty years living and working in China, splitting time between Shanghai and Beijing. During this time, he worked as a journalist and book reviewer for a number of publications, researching the early twentieth century history of both cities, particularly the foreign communities that lived there.

French is known for his true crime literary non-fiction set in twentieth century China. His book Midnight in Peking was a New York Times bestseller, and won a number of prestigious awards including the CWA Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction and the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime. Paul’s second literary non-fiction book City of Devils: A Shanghai Noir was a Kirkus Book of the Year.

Follow Paul French @chinarhyming on Twitter, on Facebookon Goodreads, Visit chinarhyming.comBuy Murders of Old China

About the book

Paul French (Midnight in Peking, City of Devils: A Shanghai Noir) dives into fifty years of murder and true crime across China and Hong Kong from the start of the twentieth century in Audible original narrative non-fiction Murders of Old China. Drawing on two and a half decades of research, French explores a dozen gripping murder cases, taking listeners from warlord-wracked Beijing, through the mighty international city of Shanghai and on to the remote and bandit-infested hinterlands of the Tibetan border and Inner Mongolia.

Using new documentation, cross-referencing and what French calls ‘sleuthing by hindsight’, Murders of Old China takes a fresh look at these twelve cases, whisking listeners on a journey through the dangerous underbelly of old China and uncovering more of the country’s unique history.

Each true crime case offers new insights into foreign society in China in the last days of the dying Qing Dynasty and the first decades of the Chinese Republic, shining a light on racial tensions and the criminal underworld, and querying the extent to which foreigners exploited the turmoil of the time. With a backdrop of war, imperialism and revolution, these stories provide an incredible insight into how modern China was formed, and the dark realities behind much of its recent past.

Narrated by French, and written in the style of the “American Noir” exemplified by Capote’s In Cold Blood, Murders of Old China is a must for fans of true crime, and those keen to learn more about China’s fascinating history.Review

What I really enjoyed about this Audiobook is the way the author narrates the story as if he were sat beside you having a dram whilst lounging in a comfortable leather chair in front of a log fire. He adds the smallest details, so in a sense it becomes almost like a vigorous discussion on various murderous scandals. Twelve true stories of violence, betrayal and murder that took place in the 20th century.

A Very Awkward Death in Tibet (1907) – The first big murder case tried by the American court for China in Shanghai. It was an attempt by the POTUS (Roosevelt) to extend American justice and punishments to its US citizens in China. A white foreigner killed a Chinese national. It was unheard of in times of white supremacy and patriarchy that a white man would stand trial with the possibility of death.

The Death of a Rickshaw Man (1908) – In this case a white man is tried by a jury. Once again a white foreigner kills a Chinese national. This time a British national, which meant it even made the news in Britain. The accused denied the charge and claimed self-defense. No wonder the Chinese thought the deck was stacked against them when having to abide by foreign rules in their own country.

Trafficked to her Death – Eliza Shapera (1907) – In a time when rumours of White Slavery were abundant. When gossips spoke of white women being tricked into prostitution in foreign countries. The real outrage caused by the thought that non-whites were having sex with white women. The body of a European woman was found – a prostitute.

A Deadly Rampage in Tai-O (1918) – It’s safe to say that not all the evidence or factors leading up to this tragedy were reviewed at the time. Colonialists being reluctant or unable to take issues such as inequality, racism into account and the corruption in this remote location. There is no doubt about victim or perpetrator, but perhaps the reasons for the rampage would have shed a different light on the matter.

The Irritating Betram Lennox Simpson (1930) – French wonders how Simpson managed to attract so many enemies in so many different fractions. Perhaps his part in the looting, which the in China born Simpson always denied. His machinations and loud protestations both written and vocal made him a contentious person to everyone.

A Deadly Dinner in Shanghai’s Gangster Mansion (1932) – Shanghai represented the power position of France equal to that of their rival Britain. Shanghai was often known as the Paris of the East or the Whore of the Orient. The Green Gang was a well-known criminal operation both in China and overseas. The leader or crime boss of this gang at the time, Big-Eared Du, invited the most senior and important French officials to a dinner at his fortress like mansion. It became the most vicious of lessons in authority and power plays.

Slain by His Best Friend – Two Tragic Deaths in Shanghai (1932) – Did a personal dispute really cause one man to kill the other over something as trivial as a job promotion? Why did the two friends end up in such a contentious relationship? Or was the disagreement that ended in the death of one of them born in a more base emotion like greed?

Gareth Jones – The Man Who Knew Too Much (1935) – The death of the investigative journalist looked like another kidnapping gone wrong by bandits out for quick profit. However his investigations appeared to have hit a goldmine when it came to the political pulse of that era. He was an intelligent young reporter with an interest in current affairs, and interest that probably led to his death.

The Shanghai Long Drop: The Case of The Sikh They Couldn’t Hang (1935) – A straightforward crime and conviction – a death sentence. The story really starts after the death sentence is pronounced. The guilty man was transported to a hellhole, six thousand prisoners in a space equipped for two thousand prisoners. One could argue that physics play a big role in this story and perhaps not ‘luck’ per se.

The Good Doctor Colbert – Wife Poisoner? (1936) – Interesting how poisoning was considered an alternative to ridding oneself of a wife or husband. Divorce, especially for women, was synonymous with scandal. This is also the only story where the victim is actually able to watch the trial herself. It was a case that caught the attention of not only China, but also the US.

Who Killed The Baron of Frenchtown (1941) – A murder, an assassination that remains unsolved to this day. A murder with motives that draw from long before a pre-war time and culminate in wartime. The Baron opposed the new regime and wrote favourably about the prior one. He was highly critical of the way the powers that be let crime run rampant. His opinions may have made him a potential target.

The Death of a Shanghai Gold Dealer (1947) – As an East meets West city, Shanghai became a melting pot of refugees, peasants looking for a better life and ex-soldiers. Eight long years of war and occupation had left their mark on the city that once was its own jewel in the crown of China. Greed and coming to the attention of people who were interested in making a profit to restart their lives back home was the downfall of the Gold Dealer.

I think what shines through in the majority of these old cases is just how oppressive and unjust colonialism was. It’s really no surprise that there is a general sense and feeling of mistrust towards predominantly white regimes that believed themselves to be superior above all others, especially to non-whites. Was there really any justice for victims of crime when the victim was a native, and indeed if the roles were reversed the punishments were harsher for non-whites.

This is a must-listen for readers or listeners who enjoy true crime and like their crime to be factual rather than fictional. French does an excellent job of melding history, politics, social structures and culture together with well-researched crimes that have been buried and forgotten with the passing of time.

French narrates with passion and power, and opens the door to the world and captivating history of China, albeit just a small part His voice draws readers in as he tells the tragic stories of debt, theft, abuse, violence and murder. He brings in all of  the documented evidence that is available and gives life to the men, women and children who have become mere blips in history.

Buy Murders of Old China at Amazon Uk. Publisher Audible Original: pub date: 4 Dec 2019. Buy at Audible Uk.

Audible Audiobook

Listening Length: 8 hours and 32 minutes, Narrated by: Paul French, Program Type: Audiobook, Version: Unabridged, Publisher: Audible Original, Audible.co.uk Release Date: 4 Dec. 2019, Language: English, English, ASIN: B08288B56D

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

I think the majority of people will have a certain image of Achilles in their heads thanks to the portrayal of his persona as a great warrior and handsome hero in major blockbuster movies. According to Greek mythology, Achilles was the son of the mortal Peleus, king of the Myrmidons, and the immortal Nereid Thetis. She is a sea nymph, a goddess of water and also purported to be one of fifty Nereids, the daughters of the ancient sea god Nereus.

The latter is especially important during this story, because Achilles’ obsession with his mother has a direct influence on the way he interacts with women, in this case Briseis. The initial attraction is caused by memories evoked by the smell of the sea on Briseis, which reminds him of the mother who abandoned him. He returns to the sea over and over again to connect with the feeling of love and protection he misses so much. Achilles becomes the young boy who yearns for the arms of his mother. Of course in relation to Briseis and memories of his mother we are talking Oedipal complex.

The Greeks are fighting to get Helen back, the infamous Helen of Troy. This story is focused on the lives of the women in the camp of the Greeks during this conflict. Women and girls who are bounty from other conflicts and sieges. Any male above a certain age is considered a future threat and therefore annihilated.

It doesn’t matter which status the women had before, they are all in the same boat when they are taken prisoner. Saying that, there is still a hierarchy with the worst position being the women no man of importance has any interest in. They are given to the soldiers as camp whores. The others are just whores by a different name. Although sometimes a woman might rise to the position of wife, it tends to be a rarity. The reality is that these women are treated like voiceless scum.

Barker combines mythology, history and women’s fiction, the result is a beautiful bold and heart-wrenching piece of literature. It is the gift that keeps on giving. It speaks of the unheard voices and the imposed silence girls have always had to live with. Even the alleged hero, winner of hearts and ruler of warriors is but a man at the end of the day. A man who treats women with disdain.

Buy The Silence of the Girls at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.Publisher: Penguin; Paperback pub date 2 May 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Falling from the Floating World by Nick Hurst

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Falling from the Floating World by Nick Hurst. It’s a story of brutal crime mixed with a mesmerising tale of the old country. It’s tradition, culture and myth with a splash of stark reality to keep the reader in the present.

About the Author

Nick Hurst spent three years training with a kung fu master in Malaysia to write his first book, Sugong, which was published in 2012. He was written for the Guardian and Time Out. He lives in Japan.

Follow @nickhurst18 @Unbound_Digital on Twitter, on Goodreadson Amazon,

Buy Falling from the Floating World

About the book

When Ray is sacked from his advertising job in London, he goes to Japan hoping to start his life afresh. Things begin well: he lands work as an English teacher and strikes up a relationship with the  beautful, intriguing Tomoe. But his world is turned upside down when Tomoe’s father is found dead.

Convinced that his death was a murder, Tomoe sets out after the killers, and when she goes missing Ray is forced to act. In his quest to find her he’s dragged into the ‘floating world’ – a place of corrupt politicians, yakuza, sumo wrestlers and call-girls – living out an adventure that echoes his dreams of Tokyo’s feudal past.

It’s a search guaranteed to bring further loss of life, and Ray is pulled into a desperate chase to ensure it won’t  be his.


This is a story of love. It’s also one of revenge and a determination to find the truth. A tale of a young man, a foreigner in a country that despises his foreignness, and yet is too polite to tell him that. The complex layers of history and past grievances are mixed together with ancient rules dictated by the Japan of the past to create this combination of modern crime and historical myth.

Ray finds himself drawn into the underbelly of the Yakusa crime world and the disagreement between fractions when his beautiful girlfriend Tomoe disappears after she starts asking too many questions. The reader then sees him being pulled deep into this world of brutality, as he fights to find her in a town full of secrets and violence.

It’s fascinating how Hurst describes the different levels of prostitution. The upper levels are portrayed in a way which suggests a less than sordid connotation. The art of pleasure, the highly sought after skills of the most beautiful women in the country. Hidden behind some elusive and exclusive mirage of forgotten history and culture. The suggestion of choice and pleasure in the activities instead of being forced or coerced.

I think that overall feeling of a country seeped in culture, myths and complex ideas of behaviour, ranking, honour and interaction is thrown over the modern day reality like a light layer of material. Everyone knows it’s there on top of them and they choose to hide behind it when it suits them, but it doesn’t stop the brusque reality of crime and the 21st century from taking place simultaneously. It’s almost as if they are trying to deceive themselves and others into believing that they are still living by the rules of the admired old guard.

The story of Tomoe has echoes of the story of Katsuyama. It’s intentional, the parallels between the woman in the present and the strong woman in the past. Perhaps in a way it actually speaks to the fact that not much has changed when it comes to Japanese heritage, feudal pasts and the way their lives are dictated by their strict ideas of honour.

Personally I found myself drawn more to the tale of the young woman in the past. Her determination to discover who caused the downfall of her father and to get revenge at any cost to herself. It’s what drew me in like the soft call of a nightingale, as the rage of the rest of the story continued in the background. 

It’s a story of brutal crime mixed with a mesmerising tale of the old country. It’s tradition, culture and myth with a splash of stark reality to keep the reader in the present.

I would love to hear more about Katsuyama and to read her story. I especially want to know where she went. What happened?

Buy Falling from the Floating World at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.Publisher: Unbound; pub date 7 Mar. 2019

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

#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.


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.


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