Anne Bonny #BookReview Good Girl Bad Girl by Michael Robotham 5* #Thriller #CrimeFiction #Psychological @michaelrobotham

 

coverGood Girl Bad Girl by Michael Robotham
Review Copy ~ Netgally Ebook
Synopsis ~

The girl with no past.

Six years ago, Evie Cormac was discovered, filthy and half-starved, hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a shocking crime. Now approaching adulthood, Evie is damaged, self-destructive and has never revealed her true identity.

The boy who survived.

Forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven, a man haunted by his own past, is investigating the death of champion figure-skater Jodie Sheehan. When Cyrus is called upon to assess Evie, she threatens to disrupt the case and destroy his ordered life. Because Evie has a unique and dangerous gift – she knows when someone is lying. And nobody is telling the truth.

My Review ~

The novel opens in Longford secure children’s home in Nottingham. We are introduced to Guthrie the resident social worker as he leads a group session with residents Alana, Evie, Holly, Nathan, Cordelia, Rebekah and Serena. When a disagreement develops between Serena and Evia, Serena attacks!
‘Someone tried to strangle me’ ~ Evie
Evie has a bruised neck and states that she hopes to escape the facility.

The novel then jumps to Evie’s point of view and we learn there is much more depth to Evie than just a regular violent resident. Evie is consumed by self loathing and we learn of previous abuse. But who abused Evie and why has she remained silent about her abuser?
I have spent 10yrs of my career working mainly in secure setting with residents with mental health conditions and I can honestly say Evie’s character and background is incredibly accurate.

‘Nobody can hate like I can’

The novel then move to DS Alan Edgar and his investigation into the murder of a teenage girl Jodie Sheehan. Jodie has suffered a blow to the head, has DNA evidence on her body and is a case of intense public interest due to her professional figure skating. Eventually we learn about Jodie’s family background, strange brother,  career/coach and on/off lover. It would seem Jodie’s life isn’t the perfect life the family would have people believe it is? So who would kill the local popular figure skater and why?

Via a series of files, ward notes, offences, assessments and escapes we finally learn the complexity of Evie’s character. As stated above the characterisation is intense and brilliant. Forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven in an attempt to understand Evie further speaks to the special constable (Sacha Hopewell) who found Evie.

The investigation into Jodie’s murder reaches a new turn when £5/6K is found in her school locker. Where and how does a teenage girl acquire such cash and what did the need it for? Chief Superintendent Timothy Heller-Smith and PC Harry Plover suspect Craig Farley a previous hospital worker in the vicinity if the crime scene. But are they merely clutching at straws in an attempt to solve the case.

Evie’s anger and rage begins to unravel and in a bizarre and unethical attempt to help Evie, Cyrus agrees to foster her. But Cyrus has his own past, his own dark secrets he is trying desperately to contain. Will fostering Evie, unravel Cyrus’s coping mechanisms. Is he fully prepared for Evie…
‘She’ll find your weakness’

‘Victims of childhood abuse don’t associate kindness with trust’

DNA profile comes back and it is a match to Craig Farley…
‘People keep saying that Jodie was a normal teenager, who loved dancing and music and ice-skating, but there’s more to her than that’ ~ Cyrus

Overall this is a phenomenal novel! I sincerely hope this is a cracking new series to follow, devour and LOVE! 5*

MR
Michael Robotham
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#BlogTour #Review Q&A The Future Can’t Wait by @AngelenaBoden @urbanepub #NewRelease 99p #BookGroupQuestions

*I received an arc via the publisher in return for an honest review. I read/review and write Q&As, before I agree to organise a blog tour*

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The Future Can’t Wait by Angelena Boden
Synopsis:

The Future Can’t Wait is a contemporary novel set in multicultural Birmingham against a background of growing radicalisation of young people sympathetic to Islamic State.   Kendra Blackmore’s half Iranian daughter Ariana (Rani) undergoes an identity crisis which results in her cutting off all contact with her family. Sick with worry and desperate to understand why her home loving daughter would do this, Kendra becomes increasingly desperate for answers – and to bring her estranged daughter home….

My review:

The novel opens in contemporary, multicultural Birmingham. With its mix of cultures and heritage, the location provides the perfect backdrop. Kendra Blackmore a lecturer at the Darwin Academy; is delivering a guest speech, in a lecture regarding psychology. She is widely respected in her field. The crowd are in awe of her ability to relate sympathies to the Islamic State with neuroscience and an individual’s susceptibility to make certain choices.

Kendra returns home to her husband David. He is quite an oddball in his nature but a loving stepfather to her two children. Eldest son Adam is a respected Dr himself, currently living in Boston, USA. Daughter Ariana (Rani), is quite complex young madam! She is currently in the final months of her Astrophysics degree and facing huge exam pressure/stress. She is cleverly a very bright and talented young woman, at the beginning of her adult life. However, she is often moody, immature and prone to outburst towards her mother. I found the mother and daughter relationship, very intriguing!
The way Kendra smothers her daughter, whilst allowing her to be so verbally abusive towards her.
But we have all known such relationships exist.

The background of Kendra’s first marriage is fully explored. With Kendra wondering if this is why, Rani is so distant. Does rani blame her mother for the divorce and having an absent father? Rani continues to push her mother away and Kendra’s desperate attempts to bring her closer only lead to further rows. With Rani becoming suffocated, until the day she leaves. Rani sends her mother a note, cutting off all contact.
It is quite spitefully done and has the reader, questioning Rani’s motives for such a malicious act.

The note and abandonment dominate Kendra’s life. She becomes obsessed and her life slowly unravels. It was at this point I questioned the dynamics, they have the appearance of the perfect middle class family but under the surface, there’s a lot going on! No-one truly knows what goes on in another person’s family. Their inner secrets and shared pain. From the viewpoint of family relationships, this novel offers up, much food for thought!

“The past can be dangerous territory”

Kendra’s obsessions about her daughter build and build. Upon finding some leaflets, in her daughter’s bedroom. She becomes convinced her daughter has been at risk of radicalisation. Messages in Arabic and friendship with a Persian student, add fuel to Kendra’s fire!
She becomes a woman on a mission to find her daughter at all costs………..

As Rani is an adult, she cannot consult the police or authorities until she learns more and gathers more proof. This leads her to an almost breakdown and the devastation of her family.

There are themes of fascism, vulnerability, miseducation, isolation, risk, unity, innocence and maturity within this novel. They are tactfully and sensitively explored. I felt the young adults ‘coming of age’ in this novel are really struggling. With the dark side of the disenfranchised youth of today, fully demonstrated. Kendra struggles to assess how she missed or failed to notice her own daughter’s unhappiness.
But how well do we ever know, those whom we profess to love the most, our children!

What sort of mother does that make me then?”

This novel follows the story of an intelligent woman, whom appears to have it all. We watch her lose something so precious to her, her daughters love and understanding. The aftermath proving so traumatic, it sets off a chain of events. Kendra won’t always make the choices, you think she will or have the thoughts you think she should and that is what makes this novel perfect for book groups. There are a wealth of issues/themes up for debate. The characters are relatable and believable. I would urge book groups to focus on the responses of those in the family and what they themselves would do.

“Ego is the only requirement to destroy any relationship”

Q&A:

Q) The novel opens in contemporary multicultural Birmingham. What made you decide on this location and era, to tell this story?

A) I lived in different areas of Birmingham for almost thirty years and raised my dual heritage children there – I prefer that term to mixed race. I have seen the changes over the years and am saddened to witness today’s tensions in a city which has prided itself on fostering harmonious relationships between the many communities. I wanted to show that things are not always what the media like to make them out to be and that Birmingham is a decent city in which to live and raise a family. I chose a well-to-do suburb of the city as the setting for the book for reasons that hopefully will become clear to the readers.

Q) The mother and daughter relationship is extremely authentic. As I regard in my review, we have all known such relationships take place. What was the inspiration behind this?

A) Many mother-daughter relationships become fraught as the daughter moves into adulthood. This often coincides with major changes for the mother – physical and emotional. The empty nest can be viewed with anticipation and excitement by some but with fear and trepidation by others. I know of many mothers who have really struggled with this. Me included.

Q) The novel deals with the theme of parental abandonment and Kendra’s response to such abandonment. Was this emotionally draining to write? Did it you see the situation through the eyes of the characters themselves?

A) Very draining as I was actually writing from a degree of personal experience. I plan to write about this in more detail in a blog. It took seven drafts to get the balance of the story right for the readers. I could really feel Kendra’s shock and pain and was writing for her. I was in tears many times and had to put the book aside. David’s character was a pleasure to create as my husband is just like him J As far as Rani is concerned I could relate to being her age, many moons ago but more importantly I wrote the book when I was experiencing the tidal waves of my own daughter’s estrangement in 2012 -15.

Q) The novel also depicts family secrets and what goes on behind closed doors. This would be tricky to research, yet is the basis for many novels in this genre. I think your novel is exceptionally unique. From your point of view, as a writer, why are secrets/lies themes so intriguing to the reader?

A) I really didn’t do any research because there were so many secrets in my own immediate family surrounding both my daughters at the time but particularly the younger one that I often felt I was writing more of a memoir. Many families have the proverbial skeleton in the wardrobe and I think we, as readers, are gripped by the intrigue. However not all secrets are revealed in real life or fiction!

Q) The novel depicts Rani’s coming of age and also the disenfranchised youth of today in general, very well. What was the inspiration behind this theme?

A) Young people in the 18-25 age group have never had things so difficult in many respects despite the technology and material stuff many of them have. Parents generally want to see their children do better than they have done – jobs, homes, quality of life but for many this isn’t happening. Frustration and anger has been building up for a while, especially in cities where there has been a target for this – often a minority group gets blamed. In addition we have a generational clash, greater than ever, as my generation had free university education, career progression and the chance to own our own houses from an early age. As a specialist in behaviour I have been tracking these sociological changes for a number of years. More young people present with depression and anxiety at a time they are starting out in life. The pressure to succeed and compete is greater than ever.

Q) One thing that fascinated me, was that Kendra never responded to a situation as I would have predicted. She often made irrational and confusing choices. Was this intentional, to show how we react when emotions are involved?

A) We are really looking at a grief reaction and as you know it is different for everyone. Some cope by blocking it out and getting on with their lives. Others feel the pain more deeply and become paralysed by it. All of us need support when tragedy strikes.

We are all capable of descending into a sort of madness or obsession when we lose something very precious. To answer the last part of your question – yes it was intentional. I hope to encourage more empathy and understanding from those who might say – “I would not have reacted in that way.” There is no right or wrong way to grieve.

It’s a good topic for discussion!

Q) Finally, what are you working on next? Will we see more of Kendra and Rani’s story?

A) Edna’s Death Café is finished and is resting on my desk for the second edit. The main character is an 80 year old woman who goes to university in her seventies and studies Philosophy and Death. She runs a café in a village in my own county of Derbyshire and sets up meetings to talk about death and dying. It’s a light take on a serious, still taboo, subject. The Death Café movement is growing around the UK.

I do have Rani’s story in mind if readers are keen to find out what has happened to her. It wasn’t planned as a sequel but I would feel very privileged to write it if readers requested it.  

AB: Thank you so much Abby for this opportunity to talk about The Future Can’t Wait and for the blog tour.

Book club discussion Questions:

1) How well did you engage with the book?
2) What were your feelings about the main characters? Kendra, David, Rani, Adam, Marco. How authentic were they?

3) The key theme is the mother-daughter relationship. Why is this so fraught? If you don’t have a daughter, think about the relationship with your mother/mother-figure.

4) Did Kendra act/react to her daughter’s disappearance in the way you expected? Why/Why not? How would you have handled it?

5) Where did Kendra’s main sources of support come from? How did they help?

6) What are your impressions of David? Is he just a grumpy old man in his shed or is there something else about him?

7) Another theme is the struggle of young people into adult hood. Why is this such a problem these days? Think back to when you were young. Compare the challenges.

8) What are your thoughts on turning to psychics and mediums for help during difficult times? Have you ever done this?

9) We often jump to conclusions when faced with a shock as our emotions are heightened. What did you conclude about Rani’s disappearance?

10) Were you disappointed that the author didn’t reveal Rani’s story in this book? Would you be interested in a sequel?

AB2
Angelena Boden

Author Bio:
Angelena Boden (M.Soc.Sc PGDE) has spent thirty five years as an international training consultant, specialising in interpersonal skills and conflict resolution. She trained in Transactional Analysis, the psychology of communication and behaviour, her preferred tool for counselling and coaching.

Since retiring from training, she runs a coaching practice in Malvern for people who are going through transition periods in their life; divorce, empty nesting, redundancy or coping with difficult situations at work, home and within the wider family.

Angelena has two half Iranian daughters and has extensive experience of helping mixed nationality couples navigate problems in their marriages.

She is the author of The Cruelty of Lambs, a novel about psychological domestic abuse. Her new book, The Future Can’t Wait tackles the breakdown of a mother and daughter relationship within a cross cultural context. It is published by Urbane Publications and is out in November 2017.

Author Links:
Web: http://www.angelenaboden.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AngelenaBoden @AngelenaBoden
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bodenangelena/

*The Future Can’t Wait, is available for just 99p on Kindle Ebook and is free to members of Kindle Unlimited*

 

#GuestPost Lord Of The Dead by @RichRippon @ObliteratiPress @NathanOHagan #NewRelease #Indie

*I am proud to post this #GuestPost this morning as not only does the novel sound intense and intriguing. The title pretty much summarises how I feel this cold foggy November morning! lol*

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Lord Of The Dead by Richard Rippon
Synopsis:

A woman’s body has been found on the moors of Northumberland, brutally murdered and dismembered. Northumbria police enlist the help of unconventional psychologist Jon Atherton, a decision complicated by his personal history with lead investigator Detective Sergeant Kate Prejean.

As Christmas approaches and pressure mounts on the force, Prejean and Atherton’s personal lives begin to unravel as they find themselves the focus of media attention, and that of the killer known only as Son Of Geb.

Lord Of The Dead is a gripping, startling piece of modern noir fiction.

“A stunning debut. If Thomas Harris was to write a British take on the Nordic-Noir genre, this would be it. Rippon is an exciting new voice in British crime fiction.”

Nathan O’Hagan, author of ‘The World Is (Not) A Cold Dead Place’

#GuestPost:

Cave, Mann and Deep Red

 I wrote my new novel, Lord of the Dead, on the back of cigarette packets. Not literally of course – that would be just mad. What I mean is that it was written in a very piecemeal style and on the hoof, using snatches of stolen time. Anyone with a full-time job and a family knows how hard it is to find spare time for a hobby or passion. And so, my book was written on the bus, to and from work, or an hour here and there after the kids had gone to bed.

I wrote in notebooks, on scraps of paper, or in emails that I’d send to myself. Sometimes I’d write a few hundred words in one go, other times just a few lines. Sometimes, weeks would go by and I’d not have written a thing.

The result was inevitably patchy. Names – or their spellings – would mysteriously change from one chapter to the next. Plot strands would begin only to be completely abandoned. Once, a character was spectacularly killed off, only to appear in much better health later on.

Time for research was scant. I relied on Google and Twitter; the latter providing a forensic expert and someone living with cerebral palsy, who graciously helped to answer my stupid questions online. Close friends – a cop and a nurse – helped to keep things real when it came to police and hospital procedures.

When I grew closer to finishing, my patient agent – a former editor – helped me make sense of the mess, and told me what was working and what wasn’t. After multiple reworks, revisions and redrafts, it grew closer to something resembling a novel.

Over almost two years of writing it, I had a number of inspirations. Michael Mann’s 1986 film, Manhunter, featured a killer who’d watch the families who would eventually become his victims. Brian Cox – as Hannibal Lector – has a great line: “Have you ever seen blood in the moonlight, Will? It appears quite black.” I became interested in writing a killer who revelled in the night, felt empowered and emboldened by it. It was the starting point for the character and his motivation. I wondered what aspect of the night and darkness might fuel his fantasies. I also loved the idea of someone who was a watcher. I wrote my villain as someone who liked to surveil the cops as well as his victims, and was always one step ahead, and ready to strike.

I became obsessed with the Manhunter soundtrack. A difficult-to-find collection of electronica and eighties pop-rock. Similarly, I was listening to Nick Cave’s album, Push the Sky Away on endless loop. There were a number of tracks that seemed to resonate with what I was aiming for. Songs like We No Who U R, Water’s Edge and the title track, had a beautiful, hypnotic and ominous quality that I’ll forever associate with Lord of the Dead. Later I saw the video for We No Who U R, with a shadowy figure wandering through a forest at night, which could have been depicting my antagonist himself.

As a teenager, I became a fan of horror movies and decorated my bedroom with gory posters from Fangoria magazine. When I was writing the book, I bought a blu-ray of an old favourite, Dario Argento’s Deep Red, which I’d previously owned on bootleg VHS. Back in the day, the ‘video nasty’ scandal had led to a number of titles being banned outright, and others severely cut by the British Board of Film Classification. Me and my friends, who preferred our horror unadulterated, would buy copies by post, videos that would have terrible image quality, colours that bled into each other and tape-chewing tracking issues. Deep Red features a number of gruesome and ritualised killings and an antagonist who’s hiding in plain sight. Both of these elements feature in Lord of the Dead, and although I don’t think the book is an outright horror, it certainly doesn’t shy away from the horrific.

As I write this, I’m pondering a sequel to Lord of the Dead and hopefully, I’ve learnt something from the chaotic way I tackled the first book. Planning is the key. Then, I’m going to take it one chapter at a time. ‘Write one true sentence, and then go on from there…’ was Hemingway’s advice. I’d like it to have a subtly different vibe – the same, but different. It exists in the same world of course, but the main characters have been dramatically and permanently affected by the events of the first book. The villain needs to be completely different, something we’ve never seen before, and therein lies the challenge – and the fun.

RR
Richard Rippon
Author Bio:
Richard Rippon has been writing since 2007, when his short story, Full Tilt, was long-listed for a Northern Dagger award. In 2009, he won a New Writing North Award for his first novel, The Kebab King. Since then he’s had a number of short stories published in newspapers, magazines and online. In 2012, he was commissioned to write a short story (The Other One), which appears in the Platform anthology. He lives on the North East coast with his wife and two children, and works in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Richard was also a social media phenomenon in 2016, as one of the men behind the twitter sensation #DrummondPuddleWatch.
Authors Links:
Follow Richard on Twitter @RichRippon
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/richard.rippon.3.

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Q&A with @AydinGuner66 #Author of The Devil In I #Thriller #GoodVsEvil #Indie

The Devil In I
The Devil In I by Aydin Guner
Synopsis:

Damon West is a twenty-eight-year old living in New York City. His life appears to be perfect. He has a loving girlfriend, good friends, lots of money and a job on Wall Street, everything a young man could ask for.

However, Damon has a secret. Damon is the Devil. For centuries, Damon has roamed the Earth enjoying everything the human world has to offer. Sex, entertainment, travel and new discoveries. Damon’s life appears to be perfect but takes an unexpected turn when he meets a co-worker, Latasha.

Damon is suddenly submerged in a spiraling obsession with Latasha he can’t control. She plays him for the fool. For all his charms, Damon is unable to deal with those emotions. Is it love? Whilst Damon’s world starts to spiral out of control, we start to question who Latasha really is. Is she who she appears to be? Was this all part of a higher plan? Has she been conspiring with the suspicious new boss, Jason Godfrey?

In The Devil In I, Damon faces the ultimate battle to hold on to everything he has: his job, his reputation, his girlfriend, and his life. This is a fast paced, sexy, violent modern day thriller. It is the ultimate story of Good vs Evil. Based in New York City, The Devil In I is not for the faint of heart.

Q&A:

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your novel?

A) Hi Anne, I live in the North West of England and come from a big family with 3 sisters! Growing up, being the only boy, I was isolated a lot and developed an over active imagination. I always used to read and watch movies and loved story telling, even at a young age. Over the years, I’ve done freelance articles and reviews for websites, but started writing my novel The Devil In I. It took 4 years to write because it was incredibly challenging to get into the mind-set of the lead character.

The story is about a young Wall Street worker called Damon West who is secretly the Devil. He walks on Earth as a charming, witty, intelligent man and no one suspects he is the Devil, in fact, he appears as something completely the opposite. Which was key to the thesis of the story, the Devil is the ultimate deceptor.

Damon’s life starts to fall apart when he meets a co-worker, he is infatuated with her but is unsure why. As the story unfolds, the wheels start coming off the track for Damon and the story develops into a whirlwind murder, sex and deception filled web, with multiple twists and surprises.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) I think writing the first novel is challenging, because it’s all new, but it’s also the easiest. There is no expectation. I’m currently working on the second novel and some of the things I’m exploring early on is, “What do I want this book to achieve?” and “What is the overarching message to this story”?

It’s important to be passionate about those two questions. Writing a book is a long road and if you’re not 100% into the story you’re telling, it will show.

I’ve been spending a lot of time researching the topics in the book, so I can write about them and discuss and explore those themes. Research is very important.

Patience is key to writing, once you have your story, there’s several ways you can get it published. You can self publish on sites like Amazon, or you can reach out to publishers yourself with a press pack or you can scout out a literary agent to represent you. There’s several avenues, several ways to skin a cat, so to speak.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) Brett Easton Ellis is one of my favourite authors and also Stephen King.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) As a kid, I loved Roald Dahl. Got all of his books. I also loved the Goosebumps series! They were so entertaining. Very cool reads.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being an author?

A) It’s a very strange journey, because when you first release the book there’s fear, the fear that no one will like your book. Which is probably something every writer feels. Then when the reviews come in, it’s a really humbling feeling to read the reviews and how people have connected with it.

I’d say my favourite part of being an author is discussing the characters with people who have read it. It’s like we’re bringing them to life. I love hearing other peoples perspective on the characters and analysing why they did and said certain things. I also love it when people I know ask if a character is based on a real person. The whole point of the lead character is to blur the lines between reality and fiction and if that can happen to someone whilst they’re reading this, then that’s a great thing.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) Good question, I didn’t have a mentor as such, but a good friend of mine, Amy, was is also writing her first novel and we used to talk about ideas and techniques and see how we were getting on. Having that writing buddy was really helpful. Someone you can discuss things with.

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Aydin Guner
Authors Links:
www.aydinguner.com
www.twitter.com/aydinguner66
www.twitter.com/narcsupport101
www.facebook.com/aydinguner66
www.youtube.com/AydinRD

*Thank you for taking part in the Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your writing career*

**The Devil And I, is also available Free to kindle unlimited members**