Thursday 30 June 2016

Reading Round-Up: May/June 2016

It's scary to think that we're now halfway through the year already, but that also means it's time for the May/June reading round-up! If you missed the March/April post, you can find that here.

What is reading round-up?

Reading round-up is a simple way for me to keep track of everything book-related and a fun way to show my readers what I've been reading over the last few months!

Out are the books I've read in March/April.

In are the books I've acquired during that time.

And wishlist are the books I've found out about and want to buy but haven't managed to get my hands on yet!


  • Dead White Female (The Sam Jones Mysteries #1) by Lauren Henderson
  • The Girl Who Broke the Rules by Marnie Riches
  • The Valley of Heaven and Hell by Susie Kelly
  • Between the Bleeding Willows (The Demon Hunters #1) by D.A. Roach
  • Shades of Sydney (Sydney West #1) by Brittney Coon
  • The House at the Edge of the World by Julia Rochester
  • The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
  • The Arrivals by Melissa Marr 
  • While My Eyes Were Closed by Linda Green
  • The Huntingfield Paintress by Pamela Holmes
  • The Inspector Rebus series (books #1-9) by Ian Rankin
  • Doors Open by Ian Rankin
  • The Mary Russell series (books #1-3) by Laurie R. King
  • Joe Sandilands series (books #1-3) by Barbara Cleverly
  • Sisters By a River by Barbara Comyns
  • Our Spoons Came From Woolworths by Barbara Comyns
  • The Vet's Daughter by Barbara Comyns
  • Spare Me the Drama by Karen Tomsovic 
  • Circle of Words by Brussels Writers' Circle
  • Summer Days & Summer Nights
  • We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas
  • Can You Read Without Prejudice? 
  • The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis
  • Time After Time by Hannah McKinnon 
  • The Serial Dater's Shopping List by Morgen Bailey
  • Thin Air by Michelle Paver

  • The Summer We All Ran Away by Cassandra Parkin
  • Starflight by Melissa Landers 
  • Paper and Fire (The Great Library #2) by Rachel Caine
  • Before I Die by Jenny Downham
  • Ordinary Joe by Jon Teckman
  • Always With Love by Giovanna Fletcher
  • All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
  • You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour 
  • The UnTied Kingdom by Kate Johnson
What have you been reading recently? Have you read a book I should know about? Let me know in the comments below!

#Blogival - Book Review & Giveaway (CLOSED): Tim Connor Hits Trouble by Frank Lankaster

Last Updated: 21 June 2021

Clink Street Publishing Blogival

AD* | Tim Connor Hits Trouble defies conventional genres. It is funny, occasionally violent, intelligent, controversial and full of sexual twists and turns.

We meet Tim Connor just as his marriage hits the rocks and as he is about to 'escape' to a new job in the Social Science Department at Wash University. Far from finding tranquillity, Tim 'hits trouble' in Wash both personally and at work. Now on the loose, he has several interesting and 'unusual' encounters with women. At work, Tim finds himself drawn into a conflict between an old rebel academic, Henry Jones, and the ambitious Head of Faculty, Howard Swankie, that culminates in a tense and dramatic climax. 

Within the novel's lively narrative, characters argue, sometimes angrily, over the direction of contemporary higher education - making this a relevant as well as a gripping and highly enjoyable novel.

Tuesday 28 June 2016

Glastonbury 2016: The view from the sofa

* Originally published here by Kettle Mag.

Glastonbury Festival is one of the UK's biggest cultural institutions and one of the most popular and most talked about festivals in the world. With the festival attracting bigger and bigger names each year, all eyes were on Worthy Farm to see if 2016's line-up would deliver.

Tickets for Glastonbury are notoriously difficult to come by, so the fact that a great deal of the festival is broadcast by the BBC makes it a lot easier to stay up to date with everything that goes on over the weekend. If you, like me, prefer to watch the performances from the comfort of your own home, the BBC's coverage is ideal. You can pick and choose which performances you want to see, skip the ones you don't, and enjoy the festival atmosphere without even leaving the house.


If you go to a festival (especially in the UK), you kind of expect to encounter some mud. However, due to the very wet June we've had, this year's festival-goers had to deal with the 'worst ever mud' Glastonbury has ever had. If you combine that with the travel chaos the festival caused last Wednesday, where every major route to the festival site came to a standstill and people were left queueing to get into the site for up to 12 hours, this year's visitors have had more than their fair share of Glasto problems. If you then add Thursday's EU Referendum and the subsequent Brexit into the mix, it's a wonder that the festival ran as well as it did. 

If anything, the bad weather and general mood of the country did the opposite of dampening Glastonbury's spirits. Performers and fans alike seemed intent on carrying on regardless and banded together to promote a feeling of solidarity at odds with the current political climate. Glastonbury has always been a transcendent hotspot of the weird and wonderful, but this year its roots shone through more than ever.
This year's headliners were Muse (Friday night), Adele (Saturday night) and Coldplay (Sunday night). Back when the headliners were announced, a lot of people were querying whether songstress Adele was the right choice for a Glastonbury headliner. In scenes reminiscent of rapper Kanye West's controversial headline set last year, Glasto fans were asking if Adele would be a success. After all, being a headliner at Glastonbury is no small feat.


It's just as well, then, that Adele was well aware of the doubters. Using them to stoke the fire of her performance, she put on an incredible show on Saturday night at the Pyramid Stage. One of the best things about Adele, songs aside, is her personality. It's that surprising yet charming contrast between Adele the singer and Adele the person that really makes her unique. Even following her rise to success, she is incredibly genuine, down to earth, and just plain likeable. She quite happily plunges into the crowd between songs, emerging with a fez and a stuffed toy, invites one emotional Brazilian fan onstage for a chat and a selfie, and addresses everyone as 'my darling'. She's also remarkably self-aware, pointing out during her set that she 'doesn't have a lot of happy songs'. But that doesn't matter. The set was comprised of all her biggest hits, and the audience was more than content to lap up ballad after ballad, belting out the lyrics along with Adele. Following a stunning rendition of 'Someone Like You', arguably her most successful track, she leaves the stage. There's no encore because she simply doesn't need one. After that performance, I hope she's managed to silence her doubters for good.
The job of headlining Sunday night and closing out the 2016 festival fell to Glastonbury veterans Coldplay. 2016 marked the band's fourth time headlining the show, a record-breaking figure, and it's not hard to see why they keep being invited back. On the whole, Coldplay is one of those bands everyone loves to hate; a title which I've always personally felt is rather unfair and undeserved.


In fact, tough as it was to beat Adele, in my opinion, Coldplay delivered the best performance of the entire weekend. From start to finish, their sheer energy and gratitude to be back at 'the best place in the world' was clear to see. Theirs was an interactive, feelgood, sing-a-long set, and the atmosphere was so electric it managed to seep not only through the captivated crowd but also into the homes of everyone watching live across the country. Even a piano malfunction couldn't stop the rainbow rave - instead, frontman Chris Martin improvised with a solo version of 'Everglow'. Coldplay also played tribute to the band Viola Beach, who were tragically killed earlier in the year, with a touching performance of their song 'Boys That Sing' which allowed Viola Beach to 'headline' Glastonbury.
In a slightly bizarre turn of events, former Bee Gee Barry Gibb joined Coldplay on stage for a rendition of 'You Don't Know What It's Like' followed by, as Martin introduced it, "the greatest song of all time" - or 'Staying Alive'. The crowd went wild, singing and dancing along, waving flags, drinks, and even a couple of inflatable flamingos (don't ask me why - it's Glastonbury!) As if all that wasn't enough, they were joined during the encore by festival founder Michael Eavis for a mass karaoke rendition of 'My Way' (again, because Glastonbury!)

Explosions of colour, fireworks and confetti, and a really imaginative and effective use of light-up wristbands in the crowd added to the celebratory atmosphere. What were they celebrating? As Chris Martin said, "We came here a little scared for the state of the world. But to see Glastonbury makes you believe together we can do anything".

What did you think of Glastonbury this year? Let me know in the comments below!

Monday 27 June 2016

Cover Reveal: Red Lights, Black Hearts by Fabiola Francisco

Today I'm super excited to be able to reveal the amazing cover for author Fabiola Francisco's latest book, Red Lights, Black Hearts.

And wow - what a cover it is!

It's a strong, sassy, sexy cover that perfectly fits the book description - definitely makes me want to get stuck into reading it now!

Red Lights, Black Hearts by Fabiola Francisco

Release date: 18th July

Don't forget to add the book on Goodreads!

Darkness can be stained by light. Light can outshine the darkest of corners.

Behind a window in Amsterdam’s desired Red Light District, Samantha practices the art of seduction. Man after man, she controls them, seeking what they both want. But behind the faΓ§ade of the glass, lies her truth waiting to be uncovered. An inner battle of light and dark takes place as Sam learns to release the past and truly live the beautiful tragedy that is life.

Red lights and black hearts collide in a tale of heart and soul.

About the author

Fabiola Francisco is a contemporary romance author from South Florida. Writing has been a part of her life since she was a teenager. Even at that age, she dreamed of happy endings with emotional twists. She currently has five books released, her latest being Whiskey Nights.

Her passion for books and writing has inspired her to write her own stories. She writes novels readers could relate to and grow with. She’s currently working on writing more stories that connect with readers on a deeper.

Fabiola also loves expressing herself through art and spending time in nature. In her spare time, she loves to cuddle with a good book and a glass of wine.

To find out more about Fabiola and her books, visit her website, follow her on Twitter, or visit her Amazon author page.

What do you think of the cover? Let me know in the comments below!

Friday 24 June 2016

#Blogival - Extract & Giveaway (CLOSED): A Father's Betrayal by Gabriella Gillespie

Continuing with the Clink Street #Blogival, today I have an exclusive extract from A Father's Betrayal by Gabriella Gillespie to share with you.

Telling the story of a murdered mother, being sold as a child bride, and 17 years of living with an abusive husband, A Father's Betrayal is an unflinching memoir from Gabriella Gillespie. Brutally honest, it doesn't shy away from the truth, yet in doing so Gabriella's voice epitomises hope and inspiration for women around the world.


“Ouch!” I screamed, as Yas smacked me in the face, “I’m telling Dad on you!”

“Go ahead, he was the one who told me to do it,” she replied.

Yas and I had been sitting on the floor in our living room watching TV. I was around five years old and Yas, my older sister, around six and half. I’d picked up a bad habit of making funny movements with my face without realising I was doing it, stretching my nose and mouth in a downwards position. I ran out of the living room screeching as loud as possible to get Mum’s attention, and towards the kitchen where Mum was, straight into her arms.

“Muna, baby, what’s wrong with you?” she asked as she picked me up and cuddled me while wiping away my tears.

“Yas punched me in the face,” I lied.

“No I did not!” Yas came storming in. “You’re such a liar! I just gave you a little slap to stop you from making those stupid faces, and anyway Dad told me to do it!”

“Dad told you to do what?” Mum asked. She wasn’t happy with Yas for hitting me, but hearing Dad told her to do it made her angry. “He said if you catch your sister pulling those silly faces again give her a slap!” Yas replied.

“No, Yas, that’s not the way to stop her from doing it, so I’m telling you to apologize to your sister and do not hit her again.” Yas was always the stubborn one.

“No way, that’s not fair! Dad told me to do it so get him to apologize when he gets back; it’s not my fault, why do I always get the blame?” Yas stormed out of the kitchen and upstairs, stomping her feet as she went along so we would get the message that she was upset; the next thing we heard was the bedroom door slam.

“Don’t worry baby, I will talk to your Dad, but you really need to stop making those faces, they spoil your pretty face!” Mum kissed me and told me to go upstairs and make up with my sister.

I went upstairs into the bedroom that I shared with Yas. I sat next to her on her bed but she shoved me with her feet. “Get off my bed!” she sulked.

“Sorry for telling Mum on you, Yas, but you hurt me,” I replied.

“Yeah I know Moo, and I’m sorry, but if you keep pulling that stupid face you’re going to end up staying like that forever, so if I see you doing it again I’m going to smack you! Anyway you know Mum and Dad are going to argue now, don’t you?”

There were four of us sisters. Ablah was around nine and a half years old and Issy, whose real name was Ismahan, was about eight, then there was Yasmin who we called Yas, and me, Muna, who they called Moo. Yas also called me Moo cow because she said I was a cow bag, and I had big eyes like a cow! She also said I talked a load of bull and had a wild imagination! That evening after dinner we all sat down to watch TV in the living room. As usual we girls would all sit on the floor in front of the TV. Yas sat to the side of me, her eyes glued to my face, and as soon as I pulled the face, smack! I let out a huge scream!

“I can’t believe you did that again!” Mum shouted at Yas.

“Dad told me to do it, didn’t you Dad?” was my sister’s calm reply, as she looked at Dad.

Dad was sat comfortably in his chair. “She needs to learn,” he mumbled. That set off an argument between Mum and Dad! Mum didn’t believe in smacking whereas Dad apparently didn’t have a problem with it. Mum sent us all to our rooms while they kept on arguing, the next morning everything seemed fine. Yas and I tiptoed downstairs as quietly as possible, we made it to the kitchen.

“Come on, bunk me up,” I whispered. Yas was still trying to bunk me up onto the kitchen top when mum came through the door!

“Caught red handed once again, you two!” she teased as she started to chase us around the kitchen. “You need to wait for your sisters. Ablah, Issy, come on, hurry up!” Mum shouted out.

As they were coming downstairs Mum reached up into the kitchen cupboard and took out a bottle of malt. As she turned around to get a spoon from the drawer she laughed when she saw I was already stood there with a spoon in my hand! “It’s a good job you love this stuff isn’t it?” she smiled.

Since we were babies Mum had propped us on the kitchen top every morning come rain or shine and given us each a spoonful of malt. She would always tell us, “This will help you grow to be tall and beautiful!” We loved it so much we would always beg for more.

Mum was called Mary Yafai and she was from Birmingham. Every morning she would take us to school without fail, and she always watched us go in and waved us goodbye. Then she would go off and see her friends, mum had lots of friends in the area, even though she wasn’t from the area that we were living in. We were living in Grafton Road, Newport, South Wales.

She was really beautiful and when she walked down the street heads would turn; she was tall and slim with long dark hair, and long legs that she liked to show off!

She had met Dad when she was really young. Dad was also a good looking guy with his Middle Eastern looks; he was Ali Abdulla Saleh Yafai, a Yemeni guy who had moved to England around 24 years earlier. I think they met when Mum was only around 15 because she married really young and she had Yas when she was only 16.

Ablah and Issy were not Mum’s biological daughters, although Mum loved them just as much. Mum insisted she bring them up when she found out they were in a care home because their real mum had given them up after she left Dad. Mum insisted she wanted us all to grow up together, she believed sisters shouldn’t be apart.

Yas and I never knew at first that our older sisters were not Mum’s daughters. We found out when I was around five and Mum and Dad had a huge argument and Mum took us to her parents’ house in Birmingham.

Dad refused to allow my older sisters to come with us, saying Mum wasn’t their real mother so had no rights to take them. We returned after a couple of days because neither Mum nor us could stand being away from our sisters.

Mum’s family hated Dad and were not supportive of her relationship with him. We visited them every once in a while, usually when our parents had an argument. Dad never came with us, he wasn’t welcomed in our grandparents’ home.

Dad worked away a lot; he had different part time jobs. He was a part time butcher and would deliver meat in a van he owned. He also worked in Llanwern steelworks in Newport Gwent and part time as a labourer up and down the country.

He had lots of friends from his home country; he would take us to their homes and would chat to them for hours in a language we couldn’t understand. He and his friends would say to us, “You need to learn Arabic, you will need to speak it one day!” We would run off laughing, blurting out, “Blah, blah, blah!”

Mum hated it when Dad took us to his friends’ houses and they would constantly argue over it. If she found out we had gone alone to play with other children and gone inside their houses without permission she would be furious with us!

Even though Mum and Dad argued a lot we girls were happy. We would hardly ever leave Mum’s side and she always loved to dress us up in the latest fashion. She and Dad had different ideas on what clothes we should wear, but Dad was never around so Mum got to dress us up just like she wanted, skirts instead of trousers like Dad wanted!

Mum loved having a house full of kids. At one time we had four other children living with us. There were two boys and two girls whose father was also Arabic. I think they lived with us because their Mum had left them and their Dad had a new girlfriend who didn’t look after them properly. Whatever the reason, they stayed with us for many months.

It was the day before Mum’s 26th birthday, on 2nd September 1971. Mum took us to school and told us she would see us that afternoon. My sisters and I were excited because we always did something special on someone’s birthday. After she dropped us off we were secretly planning what we could do or give her for her birthday; we decided to make her a card that evening.

It was Dad who picked us up in his meat van, something he had never done before. When Yas asked where Mum was he told us she had gone to stay with her parents and wouldn’t be back for a while.


A Father's Betrayal is available to buy now.

If you enjoyed the extract you're in luck, as I've got a signed copy of the book to give away to one lucky reader! Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below - good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions:
1. Giveaway closes on 3rd July 2016 at 11.59pm (GMT).
2. The prize consists of one signed copy of A Father's Betrayal by Gabriella Gillespie.
3. Upon confirmation of the winner's address, the prize will be sent to the winner by Authoright PR and Clink Street Publishing, NOT The Writing Greyhound.
4. This giveaway is open to residents of the UK, US and Northern Ireland aged 18 and over.
5. The winner will be randomly generated by Rafflecopter once the giveaway has ended.
6. The winner will be informed by email once the giveaway has ended.
7. The winner will have 72 hours to claim their prize. If the winner has not responded by this time, another winner will be announced.

I've got one more post to come as part of the Blogival, so look out for a review of Frank Lankaster's Tim Connor Hits Trouble coming on the 30th! In the meantime, don't forget to check out all the other fantastic Blogival content! 

Will you be reading A Father's Betrayal? Let me know in the comments below!

Thursday 23 June 2016

The Extra Smile Back Project: Book Review & Giveaway (CLOSED)

AD* | What makes children smile?

New research has found that the thing most likely to make a child smile is a bedtime story. The survey (commissioned by Wrigley's Extra) found that it's the simple things in life that really make children happy, with the top 3 results being 'pulling silly faces', 'reading stories', and 'playing hide-and-seek'.

Wrigley's Extra commissioned the survey to coincide with the launch of their Extra Smile Back Project. The project aims to protect children's smiles by donating money to children's charity Action for Children from every packet of sugar-free gum sold during the promotional period. They plan to use the money to run workshops alongside the Oral Health Foundation, aiming to protect the smiles of over 10,000 children across the UK.

Wednesday 22 June 2016

Book Review: Tiger Days and the Secret Cat by Sarah Lean

Last Updated: 21 June 2021

Tiger Days and the Secret Cat by Sarah Lean book cover

AD* | Meet animal lover, Tiger Days! A brand-new young fiction series about animals, friendship and adventure by bestselling author Sarah Lean. Beautiful black-and-white illustrations throughout.

When nine-year-old Tiger Days stays with her grandmother at Willowgate House she never knows what might happen… new friends to meet, animals to rescue and problems to solve!

Tiger’s grandmother looks after animals in need and on her first visit, Tiger quickly learns how to feed a baby warthog and keep it safe. Tiger already has her hands full, but then a mysterious sound leads her to another little animal…

At Willowgate House, no day is ever dull for Tiger!

Saturday 18 June 2016

Book Review: Dotty Detective by Clara Vulliamy

Last Updated: 21 June 2021

Dotty Detective by Clara Vulliamy book cover

AD* | Meet Dorothy Constance Mae Louise, or Dot as she prefers to be called! Dot loves super-sour apple sherberts, running fast and puzzles - especially if they're fiendishly tricky. And with the help of trusty sidekick, Beans and TOP DOG, McClusky, she is always ready to sniff out a mystery. So when mean girl Laura seems set on sabotaging the school talent show, Dot is determined to find out how and save the day...

Thursday 16 June 2016

Book Review: Rent a Bridesmaid by Jacqueline Wilson

Last Updated: 8 June 2021

Rent a Bridesmaid by Jacqueline Wilson book cover

AD* | Tilly can’t believe it when her best friend Matty is asked to be a bridesmaid. In Tilly’s favourite daydream, she’s kitted out in the most beautiful bridesmaid dress, walking down the aisle behind a beautiful bride. The one wedding she’d really like to attend is her own mum and dad’s. But as that’s never going to happen, it’s time for Tilly to make her own dream come true – and put her bridesmaid services up for hire...

A fabulous, funny and moving story about the power of friendship from the mega-bestselling author of Tracy Beaker, Hetty Feather and Katy. Full of beautiful illustrations by much-loved illustrator, Nick Sharratt.

Wednesday 15 June 2016

Book Review: Katy by Jacqueline Wilson

Last Updated: 8 June 2021

Katy by Jacqueline Wilson book cover

AD* | Katy Carr is a lively, daredevil oldest sister in a big family. She loves messing around outdoors, climbing on the garage roof, or up a tree, cycling, skateboarding, swinging... But her life changes in dramatic and unexpected ways after a serious accident.

Inspired by the classic novel, What Katy Did, Jacqueline Wilson creates an irresistible twenty-first-century heroine. 

Friday 10 June 2016

#Blogival - Book Review: We Never Let Go by Tracy Peppiatt

Last Updated: 8 June 2021

Clink Street Publishing Blogival

AD* | It is said that a picture paints a thousand words but unless those words are revealed the viewer has to make their own interpretation. A family photograph like thousands of others may give a clue to the location and time through clothing and scenery, but what is not apparent is the thoughts, aspirations, and life of those portrayed. This is a story of a working class family, whose voyage through the rapidly changing society of the 60s and 70s, was probably like many others.

But the difference with this story is that despite the often genuinely desperate situations that they found themselves, they persevered throughout with love and mutual dependence but primarily because there was little choice. The bond that holds us all together through all of life's twists and turns and ultimately determines how we turn out in later life is the underlying story that is revealed. However, as we are the product of our response to our experiences through life, we ultimately never let go.

Saturday 4 June 2016

Book Review: Happily by Sophie Tanner

Last Updated: 2 January 2023

Happily by Sophie Tanner book cover

AD* | How far will you go for your Happily Ever After?

Chloe Usher’s had enough of being asked why she's still single; people can’t seem to understand why she’s not freaking out about the slippery slope to spinsterhood. But, as far as Chloe’s concerned, life is sweet; she’s happy, she loves her job, her friends and her flatshare next to Brighton beach. One summer evening, after being told that she will never know what love is until she has children, she decides to say ‘actually, I do!’ and announces to her friends that she’s going to marry herself. 

She’s not quite prepared for the huge reaction to her news on social media and finds herself thrust firmly into the public eye; suddenly she’s a spokesperson for every crazy cat lady out there. With the warm support of her colourful extended family, Chloe attempts to justify her self wedding and the events that unfold take her on a bumpy journey of self-discovery - making exciting new connections and settling old ghosts.

This is a cheeky, original and light-heartedly subversive tale that challenges the notion of ‘settling down’.

Friday 3 June 2016

#Blogival - Guest Post: Why it is important to tell the story of the Battle of Narvik, by Ron Cope

Today I'm delighted to welcome author Ron Cope to TWG as my first offering for the Clink Street Publishing Summer Blogival.

Ron Cope is the author of Attack at Dawn, a fascinating novel about the First Battle of Narvik in World War Two, released to mark the 75th anniversary of the battle. Attack at Dawn focuses on the bravery of the young naval officers, including Ron's own father, who were behind this dramatic military campaign, telling their story through first-hand real life experiences.

Why it is important to tell the story of the Battle of Narvik, especially the 75th Anniversary

There are a number of factors that inspired me to tell the story of the Battles of Narvik, 10th April 1940. Not just because my father Cyril Cope was then a twenty one year old Torpedoman on board the flotilla leader HMS Hardy; although it appears he had a photographic memory and being part of the torpedoes tube crew, this helped him to write a vivid account years later.

He also intended to write a book himself in the 1970s, but for a number of reasons did not get round to doing so. He even approached two well known film companies at the time, one of which was very interested once the book was published.

I followed my father in his footsteps and joined the Royal Navy in 1964, and interestingly this was only nineteen years after the war had finished. Other than new technology, little had changed by way of the sailor’s life and slang words, forms and traditions. There were still sailors around on board who had served in the war to tell us their tales. Hence after serving twenty three years in the navy, I was well versed to be able to describe life below decks and time served at sea. Whilst I was not involved in a major war, my experience allowed me to get close to understanding and picturing how war conditions and action would have been. I had a good tutor, my father, who sadly passed away in 2003, leaving me to take on the task.

Subsequent to the Battles of Narvik, there were many famous military confrontations both on land and sea, which seemed to leave the epic battles lost in the mist of time. However, at that time in early 1940 the Royal Navy and the Kriegsmarine had not fully tested each other in battle. So it was an important occasion for either to get an early success over the other. Both for their country and the morale of their armed forces, and on this occasion the men on board their warships.

It was also a crucial battle for maintaining the valuable iron ore, for both country's war effort. This natural resource came by train from northern Sweden to the Norwegian port of Narvik. The former a neutral country, and the latter hopeful it could be to.

As history shows, Adolf Hitler’s armies were advancing and taking over European countries in turn and the British naturally became concerned that Norway was to be next to be invaded by a German occupying force. To halt the tide the Royal Navy needed up to date intelligence of their foes' positions, unfortunately this was not immediately forthcoming. This resulted in the British being too late to know the Kriegsmarine had already reached Narvik with not only ten large and modern zerstorers (destroyers) but each ship had also disembarked 220 Alpine Troops.

This was the situation in which the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla led by Captain Bernard Warburton-Lee was left with, and given the task to assess further the position. So it was at just gone midnight on the 10th April 1940, the Captain led his five smaller ‘H’ Class destroyers into the Oftofjord. The conditions were dreadful, not only darkness but also during a snow storm. Each ship following the blue stern light of the one for’d. Although of course the leader, HMS Hardy, had none to follow and had to rely on the experience of their navigating officer.

The scene is set for a confrontation that could best be described as of biblical proportions, ‘David and Goliath’. In the annals of the Royal Navy the First Battle was recorded as a great success, throughout the country, the Dominions and congratulations were sent by her allies:

BBC ‘World Service’.

Sunday 14th April at midnight.

“The British Navy’s entry into Narvik Fjord yesterday, and
the sinking of the seven German destroyers, was front-page
news in all the Paris newspapers today. French gratification
has been expressed in many ways, notably by M. Reynaud,
the French Prime Minister, who has sent a telegram to Mr
Chamberlain saying ‘The French nation shares Britain’s feelings
of admiration and gratitude for the Royal Navy, which
has added a page of glory to its records, and has inflicted on
the enemy a wound that will never heal’. 

As in all great battles, on land or sea, many brave fighters do not return home. Approximately 150 sailors lost their lives out of 850. Captain Warburton-Lee was posthumously awarded the first Victoria Cross of the Second World War. The whole country welcomed back the crews as ‘Heroes’ and there was a lot of celebrations throughout.

However, the ‘Kriegsmarine’ was not yet fully defeated but were trapped in the Narvik fjord, with depleted fuel and ammunition. It took a second battle three days later to finish the task.

Subsequent to seven years research, collecting many crewmen’s accounts of their experiences at Narvik, I had to take stock of how many words I had written. Due to the total at that point, it was obvious I had to write two books.

The first “Attack at Dawn” focused on the crew of HMS Hardy and how they fared when the ship was abandoned, leaving them stranded, with no dry clothes. Needing to leave their dead comrades buried in snow, to walk ten miles to the nearest town with a hospital.

The book at the beginning describes life on board their destroyer and life ashore in their home towns. I introduce many of the characters personal lives and the lead up to the out break of war and describe the effect of loved ones left at home.

The second book, once more with many accounts from crew members, is concentrated on HMS Hunter, both her participation in the Spanish Civil War and Narvik. Whilst in Malta describing life in dock and work up ready for war. Once more introducing the characters, their survival or not in the ice cold waters of the fjord. A more in depth accounts of the first and second battles, from opposing sides view points.

The crew's imprisonment and treatment and how the local populace lived under the German occupying forces. The circumstances of why the ‘Hunter’ crew had to endure another survival attempt, being forced marched over the mountains for internment in Sweden. Eye witness accounts from those in the Narvik community.

Finally, the astounding stories of the ‘Hunter’ crew’s survival and escapes from Sweden back to Britain. Although, unfortunately for eleven out of the forty three, they had another survival challenge, three years in German POW camp.

At the beginning of starting the book I managed to make contact with Captain Warburton-Lee’s grandson, John Warburton-Lee. He and his father over the years have received many copies of books broaching the subject of the Norwegian campaign, which he found to a degree banal and with political manoeuvres, warfare strategies and comparisons of weaponry, missing the human aspect. He was thankful that my book would be an attempt to bring back to life those times, allowing an opportunity for those participating in the battles to have their say.

We both believe the task has now been achieved

To conclude, “the story is important to tell” so that these remarkable accounts of brave sailors, average age of twenty three, enlisted volunteers, involved in an extraordinary sea battle are never again lost in the mist of time.


Attack at Dawn is available to buy now.

The Blogival is running until the end of June, so look out for more posts about fantastic Clink Street authors and their books from participating bloggers over the next few weeks. Next up on TWG is Tracy Peppiatt's We Never Let Go on the 10th, so stay tuned!

Will you be reading Attack at Dawn? Are you following the Blogival? Let me know in the comments below!