Reviews

Book Review and Author Interview – Lord of The Dead by Richard Rippon

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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.

Review:

As regular readers of my reviews will know, I love a good Thriller. Lord of The Dead had most of the things that I like about them, and I finished it within a few days. There was something about this Thriller that stood out from the others I’ve read, and made it a very enjoyable read.

The protagonist, Atherton, is ever so flawed. I’m a sucker for a flawed character. There were certain things that he did that I despised, and he definitely didn’t do himself any favours sometimes. But I did love his determination to discover what was happening, and overall, I liked him. He also had cerebral palsy, which I wanted to mention as it’s a disorder that two people I know have, and therefore hits close to home. Atherton is the first main character in a book I’ve read that is affected by cerebral palsy, and I thought he was represented well.

I liked Kate. Despite her history with Atherton, she was professional and didn’t disregard his advice, which I found admirable, as I’ll sometimes find female characters that are written by male authors can be represented in a way that I find unrealistic, in my opinion. So I applaud Rippon for writing a strong, mature and likeable female character.

I thought the pace of the plot was just right, too, and it kept me wanting more each chapter. The plot, and search for the serial killer, were very interesting to follow, and no matter how hard I tried, or how many theories I came up with, I just could not figure out who the killer was! That made it even better for me.

The killer (who I am going to refer to using ‘They’ as I don’t want to give anything away), who calls them self ‘Son of Geb’ interested me so much! They wasn’t your typical serial killer, and there were definitely a few twists to them that I did not see coming. There was something that happened at the end that was a little cliche, but other than that, the ending was exciting and dramatic!

Overall, I really enjoyed Lord Of The Dead, and I hope to see some more of Atherton and Kate in the future. The only thing that I will mention is there is a bit of infidelity, so if that’s something you don’t want to read about, I’d give this one a miss. However, it really is only sub-plot, and whilst I don’t condone it, it didn’t bother me as I was too focused on who the hell the Son of Geb was!

I give this book 4.5 stars.

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Author Interview:

I am lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to interview the author, Richard Rippons, which I was very glad about as there were a few questions I had that I really wanted answers to! I’m also very excited to share this, as it is my first author interview!

1.  Where did the inspiration for Lord of The Dead come from?

I’d become obsessed with the Michael Mann film, Manhunter and the Thomas Harris novel, Red Dragon on which it’s based. It’s the first Hannibal Lecter novel, but as brilliant and fascinating this character is, I was always more interested in Will Graham, the FBI profiler with an affinity to the killers he’s hunting. I was also listening to a lot of Nick Cave, and those dark, brooding songs were also an influence. I wanted to write something that had a noirish feel. Something set in the North East, but not parochial or cosy. Something with a big-world, cinematic feel to it.
2.  If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
“Start now!” Although I enjoyed writing at school, I never felt there was a chance of me making a living as a writer. Instead, I did a science degree and worked in that field. It took a long time for me to realise I’d be happier doing more creative things. I think I should have studied English or maybe Film Studies. However, perhaps when I was younger, I might not have had the patience to write at length, and this is the way it was meant to be.
3. Why do you write about crime?
Good question. Although I like the aforementioned Harris and Val McDermid, I don’t read many crime novels. I do have an interest in real-life serial killers. There’s something fascinating about what drives them to do what they do.
4. What made you want to use social media as a form of communication for the Son of Geb?
I work in social media and spend a lot of time on Twitter. It’s interesting that social media, particularly YouTube and Instagram, is where so many people are finding fame and fortune these days. I though it would be interesting to see how a serial killer might goad the police on Twitter, where the public can also see what he’s writing and develop a following of his own.
5. What was your writing process whilst writing Lord of The Dead?
I wrote mainly on the bus, to and from work. There’s a lot to be said for writers using public transport. It gave me about and hour and a half every day of uninterrupted time to work on it. I’d scribble in notebooks and eventually type it up. It was good, because I’d usually improve on it at that step. Sometimes I’d do longer stints in the shed at the top of the garden. I used Twitter to find experts (a forensics scientist, a historian and someone with cerebral palsy) to help me with various aspects of the book.

(Bit of a spoiler here, but I’m super curious! LOOK AWAY IF YOU’VE NOT READ LORD OF THE DEAD!!!)

6. Why did you have Jon Atherton have an affair with Kate Prejean?
The ‘will they, won’t they?’ aspect always raises tension in a story. At the start of Lord of the Dead, Atherton is enrolled on a police team with Prejean, with whom he’s previously had an adulterous relationship. As the pressure of the case builds, it’s whether or not they’ll give in to that mutual attraction again. 
7. What scene did you find the most difficult to write in Lord of The Dead? Why?
The final couple of chapters were probably the most difficult. I wanted to keep the denouement nice and pacy, and for it to have a nice dramatic payoff, but for it not to feel forced. Solving these problems is part of the fun, but it can feel frustrating at times.
8. If you’re able to talk about it, are you working on anything at the moment?
I’m working on ideas for a sequel to Lord of the Dead. The working title is The Life of the Flesh. I’m also collaborating on a really interesting horror screenplay idea with a couple of friends.
So, there we have it! My first author interview, and a review of Lord of The Dead. You can follow Richard Rippon on:
-Books&Belle xx
Reviews

Blog Tour: A Pearl For My Mistress by Annabel Fielding (Spoiler-Free!)

Hello everyone! I feel like I have been away for so long, when it’s actually only been around two weeks. I had my mocks, so I thought it best to take a break from blogging to focus on that. But they’re over, and I’m back. Yay!

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Synopsis:

A story of class, scandal and forbidden passions in the shadow of war. Perfect for fans of Iona Grey, Gill Paul and Downtown Abbey.

England, 1934. Hester Blake, an ambitious girl from an industrial Northern town, finds a job as a lady’s maid in a small aristocratic household.

Despite their impressive title and glorious past, the Fitzmartins are crumbling under the pressures of the new century. And in the cold isolation of these new surroundings, Hester ends up hopelessly besotted with her young mistress, Lady Lucy.

Accompanying Lucy on her London Season, Hester is plunged into a heady and decadent world. But hushed whispers of another war swirl beneath the capital… and soon, Hester finds herself the keeper of some of society’s most dangerous secrets…

Review:

I am lucky enough to be a participant in the blog tour for A Pearl For My Mistress, and I’m going to start off by saying that I haven’t read a historical romance in absolutely ages. I really can’t even remember what the last one was, and A Pearl For My Mistress was the perfect book to get me back into them. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The plot, the characters, the writing, and the relationships were all amazing!

The main character, Hester, was brilliant. She was loyal, and kind, which are both lovely qualities to have. There were definitely a few flaws to her, but if you’ve read my reviews in the past, you’ll know that I enjoy a flawed character. It makes them much more interesting and realistic. I felt that she was a little unambitious. However, I understand that this wouldn’t have been uncommon of a woman in her position at the time period in which this book is set in.

With Lucy, there were things I loved, and things that really bugged me. She’s a grey area for me. She’s Hester’s mistress, but there were clear instances where I felt that she was manipulative toward Hester. This definitely showed the class differences between them, despite the close relationship that had developed between them. What I loved, though, was how ahead of her time she seemed, in my opinion. She was ambitious, power-hungry, and very interesting.

Now, the relationship between Hester and Lucy. I loved that a romantic relationship formed between them, and whilst I did like it, I didn’t like that there was one of them who was clearly ‘superior’ to the other, as I don’t believe that that is healthy in a relationship.

I won’t go into the plot, but I’ll just say that I did enjoy it. It is obvious that a lot of research went into it due to the history included, and I did expect a little more romance, but I was pleasantly surprised with what I got! Fielding’s writing is enjoyable to read, and has a unique style to it that I liked.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I did judge it by it’s cover a bit before reading it, and it wasn’t what I expected at all, but instead it was even better! I give it four out of five stars.

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I’d like to thank Annabel Fielding for providing me with a copy ofA Pearl For My Mistress in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

-Books&Belle xx

Reviews

Book Review – I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan (Spoiler-Free!)

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Synopsis

Fifteen-year-old Muzna Saleem, who dreams of being a writer, struggles with controlling parents who only care about her studying to be a doctor. Forced to move to a new school in South London after her best friend is shamed in a scandal, Muzna realizes that the bullies will follow her wherever she goes. But deciding to stand and face them instead of fighting her instinct to disappear is harder than it looks when there’s prejudice everywhere you turn. Until the gorgeous and confident Arif shows an interest in her, encouraging Muzna to explore her freedom.

But Arif is hiding his own secrets and, along with his brother Jameel, he begins to influence Muzna with their extreme view of the world. As her new freedom starts to disappear, Muzna is forced to question everything around her and make a terrible choice – keep quiet and betray herself, or speak out and betray her heart?

A stunning new YA voice which questions how far you’ll go to protect what you believe in.

Review

Okay, the first thing that I want to say is that I absolutely loved this book. Everything from the characters to the plot was brilliant, and I read it in a matter of days. I think that this books covers some issues that are very relevant in todays society, such as terrorism and Islamophobia, which I think is very important.

The main character, Muzna Saleem, is a Muslim. This is actually the first book that has featured a Muslim main character I’ve read, and I’m so eager to read more now. Representation in books is something that is desperately, so that is part of the reason that I love this book so much. I really liked Muzna, she was courageous, brave and stood up for what she thought was right, despite certain things trying to influence her to do the opposites.

As I said before, Islamophobia is an issue that is tackled in this book. Whilst I know that this is important to cover as it is something that Muslim’s face in their everyday lives, it just made me so angry to read! There was a particular character that was very open about her racism towards Muslims, and I honestly despised her. It was very relevant though, as people that share her views do exist, unfortunately.

The plot was also very interesting, which lead me to reading the whole book over 2 or 3 days. It was fast-paced, and there were a few time jumps which I liked. Especially the one between 13 year old Muzna and 16 year old Muzna as it showed the differences between how she was then, and how she is now.

The only thing that I wasn’t too keen on is how some of the teenagers speak. I understand that it is set in a certain place, but I just don’t think that teenagers use some of the slang that the author used. I do understand that writing from the perspective from a teenage girl might be difficult when you’re not one, but I just wanted to mention that.

Overall, I really did love this book. It was engaging, tackled important issues and was representative of a group of people who don’t get as much representation as they need. I give it 4.5 stars.

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I’d like to thank Macmillan’s Children for sending me a copy of I Am Thunder in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

-Books&Belle xx

Me

What I Read In October 2017

So, it’s the first day of the month. I feel like October flew by! I’m going to miss my Halloween name on Twitter, ‘Hocus Locus Paige’, but it also means Christmas is next month! October was a very productive reading month for me, and I’m really happy with the amount of books I got through! Now I’ve just got to review them…

1. Doubt The Stars

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2. Murder At First Sight

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3. Sleeping Beauties

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4. Dead Girls Don’t Lie

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5. Dead Woman Walking

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6. Search For Maylee

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7. I Am Thunder

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8. Heart Of Mist

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9. Heartless

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10. Now You See

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So, that’s the wrap up for October 2017! Have you read any of these?

-Books&Belle xx