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Blog Tours Book Reviews

Blog Tour: The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper

About the book

Sold by her mother. Enslaved in Pompeii’s brothel. Determined to survive. Her name is Amara. Welcome to the Wolf Den…

Amara was once a beloved daughter, until her father’s death plunged her family into penury. Now she is a slave in Pompeii’s infamous brothel, owned by a man she despises. Sharp, clever and resourceful, Amara is forced to hide her talents. For as a she-wolf, her only value lies in the desire she can stir in others.

But Amara’s spirit is far from broken.

By day, she walks the streets with her fellow she-wolves, finding comfort in the laughter and dreams they share. For the streets of Pompeii are alive with opportunity. Out here, even the lowest slave can secure a reversal in fortune. Amara has learnt that everything in this city has its price. But how much is her freedom going to cost her?

Set in Pompeii’s lupanar, The Wolf Den reimagines the lives of women who have long been overlooked.

My review

The Wolf Den was probably my most anticipated read of 2021. Nuanced, impactful, and captivating, this book is now among my favourite reads full stop. Elodie Harper puts Pompeii’s brothel under a microscope and breathes life and agency into the women who were stripped of it. Amara, once a doctor’s daughter from Greece, had her homeland, family, and identity ripped from her. Now a prostitute enslaved in the Lupanar of Pompeii, she uses her wits and sheer force of will to fight for a chance at autonomy.

Elodie Harper’s voice is sharp and unique, making the ancient world relatable to modern readers while keeping us immersed in the sights and sounds of AD 74 Pompeii. I loved the affinity and unshakeable bond between the women in the Wolf Den. It was interesting to see the flip in Amara’s language between her interactions with the other women at the brothel and with her ‘upper class’ clients. The dialogue between Amara and her friends swings between poignant and humorous. It often had me laughing out loud, but some parts were so deeply sad and affecting that I had to put the book down and take a breather. The book is both subtle and unflinching; no character, including the antagonist, is without layers. At the same time, the trauma and emotional impact of the women’s circumstances are illustrated without sugar-coating or glamorisation.

The Wolf Den tears away our desensitised attitudes towards the horrors of the ancient world. There’s no longer a disconnect from reality, no longer a feeling of ‘that’s just how things were back then.’ It’s a book that opens us to the experiences and emotions of people who were seen as the dregs of society – a book that keeps us submerged in its world long after we’ve left it.

Thank you so much to Head of Zeus and Elodie Harper for having me on The Wolf Den’s blog tour!

Author Bio

Elodie Harper is a journalist and prize-winning short story writer. Her story ‘Wild Swimming’ won the 2016 Bazaar of Bad Dreams short story competition, which was judged by Stephen King. She is currently a reporter and presenter at ITV News Anglia, and before that worked as a producer for Channel 4 News.

Purchase links

Waterstones | Bookshop.org | Hive | Amazon | Wordery

Follow Elodie Harper

Twitter: @ElodieITV

Instagram: @elodielharper

Website: elodieharper.com

Follow Head of Zeus

Twitter: @HoZ_Books

Instagram: @headofzeus

Website: www.headofzeus.com

Categories
Blog Tours Book Reviews

Blog Tour: Just One More Thing by Dom Haslam

About the book

The partner we no longer trust, the boss we fear, the family member we cannot tolerate. Stories exploring the psychological effect of modern life: a pregnant mother becomes convinced her husband is having an affair and will stop at nothing to get to the truth; a married man is drawn inexorably towards temptation, despite knowing it could cost him his family; a quiet man absorbs increasing pressure and stress, with devastating consequences. Ordinary people count the cost of ‘just one more thing’.

My review

There’s something voyeuristic about this short story collection. I felt as though I was eavesdropping on the characters’ thoughts and conversations, peering through their windows into their lives. Each story pulses with tension and raw honesty, revealing the often-ugly effects of modern life’s pressures. They leave you wanting more but never give too much, always stopping at a point that achieves the most impact. The collection isn’t comfortable to read. It deals with challenging emotions and actions. It looks at Brexit, COVID, social media, politics, and racism in everyday life. It’s a bold and unapologetic examination of life today, forcing us to confront what and who we might be under the surface.  

Author bio

In between his day job, bringing up three children, being run off his feet by a crazy cocker spaniel, listening to Mozart’s D minor piano concerto, perfecting the art of homemade pizzas and studying Ordnance Survey maps of the Yorkshire Moors, Dom likes to write. Dom lives in the fantastic town of Ilkley in Yorkshire, having arrived there via Bedford, Nottingham and London. Dom has written two books, So Long, Marianne, a romantic fiction, and Just One More Thing, a book of short stories about greed, obsession and fear.

Purchase links

Amazon | Waterstones

Follow Dom Haslam

Twitter: @DomHaslam

Instagram: @domhaslambooks

Website: www.domhaslambooks.com

Follow Love Books Tours

Twitter: @LoveBooksGroup

Instagram: @kellysloveofbooks

Website: https://lovebooksgroup.com/

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Blog Tours Book Reviews

Blog Tour: Into the Fire by Rachael Blok

About the book

Eleven guests. Three nights. One murderer.

In a crumbling old mansion in the English countryside, eleven people gather, each one famous in their field. They have been invited for a three-day house party, to celebrate the launch of a groundbreaking virtual reality game that promises to unite the worlds of technology, politics and the environment.

DCI Maarten Jansen has been summoned to join the house party. His instructions are to offer police protection in case of an outside attack. Instead, he finds simmering tensions, long-buried secrets – and a murderer in their midst…

My review

This book was straight up addictive. Packed across three tense days, it jumps between height of the crisis and the build-up. The chapters are short and suspenseful, divided into the perspectives of Maarten, Filip, Lois, and Iqbal. There is a sense of watching each scene through a smudged magnifying glass. I felt simultaneously imbued with the heightening tension between the characters and kept at arm’s length from the truth simmering beneath them – right up until the last moment.

The secluded countryside mansion setting adds a layer of claustrophobia to the taut atmosphere. The threads binding the guests together wind tighter with each conversation. Each page vibrates with energy. Rachael Blok’s writing has an urgency that keeps the reader almost stumbling in excitement to read the next sentence.

Into the Fire hits that spot between a totally unputdownable mystery and a fascinating delve into human emotion and relationships. It totally engrossed me and gave me a much-needed shake from my lockdown lethargy.

Thank you to Midas PR and Head of Zeus for having me on the blog tour!

Follow Rachael Blok

Twitter: @MsRachaelBlok

Instagram: @r__blok

Website: www.rachaelblok.com

Follow Head of Zeus

Twitter: @HoZ_Books

Instagram: @headofzeus

Website: www.headofzeus.com

Follow Midas PR

Instagram @midaspublicrelations

Twitter: @midaspr

Website: www.midaspr.co.uk

Purchase links:

Waterstones | Hive | Blackwell’s | Amazon | Kobo

Categories
Blog Tours Book Reviews

The Lip by Charlie Carroll

About the book

Away from the hotels and holiday lets, there is an unseen side of Cornwall, where the shifting uncertainties of the future breed resentment and mistrust.

Melody Janie is hidden. She lives alone in a caravan in Bones Break: a small cliff-top on Cornwall’s north coast. She spends her time roaming her territory, spying on passing tourists and ramblers, and remembering. She sees everything and yet remains unseen.

However, when a stranger enters her life, she is forced to confront not only him but the terrible tragedies of her past.

My review

This story stayed with me long after I finished it. Uncovering the Cornwall behind the picturesque photos and holiday advertisements, The Lip is a raw and powerful read. There’s a distinctive honesty to Charlie Carroll’s writing and the way he paints both his characters and their surroundings with a poignant, unflinching beauty. Melody Janie’s story and her blend of resilience and vulnerability really moved me. There were times where I had to take breaks from reading because of how absorbed I became in both her life and character.

Dealing with themes of grief, mental health, and isolation, the story dips between Melody Janie’s past and present, reaching the roots of her pain. There’s a twist that comes as a shock, but emphasises the heartbreaking, unforgiving reality of mental illness. The book also shines a light on the issue of treating Cornwall as a holiday destination alone, ignoring and compromising the lives of the people who live there.

Atmospheric, harrowing, and unique, The Lip is an important read – and one I recommend.

Thank you to John Murrays and Two Roads Books for having me on this blog tour!

About the author

Charlie Carroll is the author of three non-fiction books: The Friendship Highway (2014), No Fixed Abode (2013) and On the Edge (2010). He has twice won the K Blundell Trust Award for ‘writers under 40 who aim to raise social awareness with their writing’, wrote the voice-over for the TV series Transamazonica (2017), and is one of the Kindness of Strangers storytellers. His debut novel, The Lip, is out in March 2021.

Follow Charlie Carroll

Instagram: @charliecarrollauthor

Twitter: @CharlieCarroll1

Website: www.charliecarroll.co.uk

Follow John Murray Press

Instagram: @johnmurrays

Twitter: @johnmurrays

Website: www.johnmurraypress.co.uk

Follow Two Roads Books

Instagram: @tworoadsbooks

Twitter: @TwoRoadsBooks

Website: www.tworoadsbooks.com

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Blog Tours

Nemesis by Anthony Riches: Extract

Today I’m part of the blog tour for Nemesis by Anthony Riches, and I’m excited to be sharing an extract below! If you like the sound of it, scroll down for links to where you can grab a copy.

First off, a little about the the book…

They killed his sister. Now he’ll kill them all.

Mickey Bale is an elite close protection officer. That’s why the Met police has given him the toughest job of all: guarding the Minister of Defence at a moment when Chinese-British relations have hit a deadly boiling point.
And when Mickey’s life isn’t on the line for his work, he’s taking his chances waging war on a powerful London gang family. Their dealer supplied a lethal ecstasy pill to his sister, and Mickey is determined to take them down, one at a time. But will he get away with it – or will his colleagues in the force realise that the man on an underworld killing spree is one of their own?

The extract

The black Loake boots, Mickey decided. A perfect match for black Wrangler Arizonas, and freshly resoled in rubber. A midnight-blue shirt, and that was him ready. Externally, at least. Looked in the mirror and got a quizzical stare back. Michael James Bale. Age forty-three, no distinguishing marks. A nondescript face, nothing to make him stand out. Not the tallest of men at six foot one, but solid. One hundred and eighty-five pounds of gym-toned muscle honed at his local boxing club. Good genes too. Strong, and in good shape. In his prime, pretty much.

Roz met him at the bottom of the stairs. The usual examination, before letting him out for the night. Looking up at him with that expression. The all-knowing, all-commanding, straight-to-the-point woman who’d charmed him over a decade before. And who still had him in the palm of her hand after all that time. With her dark hair that she wished was blonde. The all-seeing brown eyes that she wished were green, like Mickey’s. And a body that she kept very, very well toned. ‘Giving you no excuses, Mickey Bale,’ as she frequently told him. Not that Mickey wanted any excuses. A childhood spent watching his friends struggling through the debris of their parents’ failed relationships had taught him the value of holding on to what worked. And not letting go for anything.

‘Shaved? Sure there’s no-one waiting for you?’

He grinned in the way that always disarmed her.

‘Oh they’ll be waiting all right. Empty glasses and “where you been all this fucking time?” looks.’

She laughed with him. Knowing his friends well enough.

‘You will keep drinking with that lot. What do you expect?’

He let his face assume what she called his chump look. Lips pursed, eyes rolled up. Waited a moment, timing being the secret of comedy. Then face-palmed and shook his head.

‘Now you tell me?’

‘Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing.’

‘Wait… what? You’ve seen through my plan?’

A swift prod in the breadbasket to reinforce her point.

‘You come it the poor me, but really you love it. Talking shop with the boys, playing up to the image. Flash Mickey. With the guns and the cars and all that.’

He shrugged. ‘Beats the alternative, doesn’t it? Beats actually working. You know how that would have gone.’

‘Yeah.’ She turned him round and pushed him to the door. Slapped his backside for emphasis. ‘Go on. Back by eleven though; you’ve got an early start.’

He grinned at her again, accepting the heavy-lipped kiss. The door closed behind him as he stepped out into the early spring night. Down the Crescent and out onto the High Road. Warm enough in his black Belstaff jacket that had cost a fortune the previous month. Strolling under the streetlamps, he zipped it up to his neck. Clicked the placket pop-studs shut. Checked that the wrist and pocket studs were closed too. Knowing they would clatter if left unfastened. Then fastened the neck strap, not wanting the buckle to flap around.

He paused on the corner with Jervis Road. Looked up at the CCTV camera above his head. Frozen, lifeless on its gimbal mount. Still out of action. Just the way Warren liked it. Mickey quietly slipped into a doorway and squatted down. Affecting to fiddle with a bootlace. Peeped round the corner, looking down the pavement. The club opposite Warren Margetson’s pitch would still be nine-tenths empty. Its drinks too expensive while the pubs were open. But Warren was already on duty. As any good dealer would be. A professional, of a sort, Warren. And there was more than one sort of client in his line of business. Some of them dabbling. Some of them hardened recreational users. Some of them functioning addicts. And some just victims. Like Katie.

About the author
Anthony Riches, coming from a family with three generations of army service, has always been fascinated by military history, psychology and weaponry – which led him to write the Empire series set in ancient Rome. The idea for his first contemporary thriller, Nemesis, came to him under the influence of jetlag at two in the morning in a Brisbane hotel room. He lives in rural Suffolk with his wife, two dogs the size of ponies and a bad tempered cat.

Follow Anthony:
Twitter: @AnthonyRiches
Facebook: @AnthonyRichesAuthor

Follow Aries:
Twitter: @AriesFiction
Facebook: @AriesFictionBooks
Website: www.headofzeus.com

Purchase links:
Waterstones | Amazon | Kobo | Google Play | iBooks