Sunday, 24 June 2018

Book Blog Tour: More Than Us by Dawn Barker

HI guys! Long time no see! Bringing  this blog back to its roots  a good old book review, as part of the More Than Us book blog tour!

A little background about this book for y'all:

Title: More Than Us
Author Name: Dawn Barker
Previous Books (if applicable): Let Her Go
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Family Drama
Release Date: 21st May 2018
Publisher: Canelo

Now for the More important parts: (aka what's actually about?).

Book Blurb: When parents disagree on how to care for their child, is it justifiable to take extreme measures?
Emily and Paul have a glorious home, money in the bank and two beautiful children. Since leaving Scotland for Paul to play football for an Australian team they have been blessed. But sadness lies behind the picture-perfect family - sixteen-year-old Cameron has battled with health troubles his entire life. There's no name for what he has, but his disruptive behaviour, OCD and difficulty in social situations is a constant source of worry.
When Paul's career comes to a shuddering halt, he descends into a spiral of addiction, gambling away the family's future. By the time he seeks help, it's his new boss Damien who recommends and pays for a rehab facility.
While Paul is away, Emily has to make a tough decision about their son. She keeps it from Paul knowing he'll disapprove. And when a terrible accident reveals the truth, Paul takes his son and goes on the run, leaving Emily to care for fourteen-year-old Tilly, who unbeknown to her parents is fighting battles of her own.
Can the family join together for the sake of their loved ones, or will their troubles tear them apart?

Aaaaaaand my review:

The story wasn't massively grabbing me at first but persevering past the first few chapter  saw the characters begin to gain a lovely bit of depth.

The character that stood it to me by far was  Tilly, perhaps because she reminded me a lot of my youngest  and similarly aged sister. I often wonder how much is left under the surface and her story a  told very well throughout.

The character of Paul I found hard to grasp. The way in which he abandons Emily is hard to believe, but it is for Emily too so it fit well in the arch of the plot.

The book concludes in a really gripping way after all the build of the over arching plots....but don't expect any spoilers from me here!

Well worth a read, landing a solid 6/10 from me.

Abi x

Author Bio:
Dawn Barker is a psychiatrist and author. She grew up in Scotland, then in 2001 she moved to Australia, completed her psychiatric training and began writing. Her first novel, Fractured, was selected for the 2010 Hachette/Queensland Writers Centre manuscript development programme, was one of Australia's bestselling debut fiction titles for 2013, and was shortlisted for the 2014 WA Premier's Book Awards. Her second novel is Let Her Go. Dawn lives in Perth with her husband and three young children.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Book blog tour: The Wrong Man by Kate White

Helllooo! So I have been lucky enough to be invited to take part in the book blog tour for Kate White’s The Wrong Man by performing a lovely little Q&A about this great  thriller released last year by Canelo .

A moment of pleasure leads to a deadly game of cat and mouse in this slick and suspenseful thriller.
Kit Finn meets handsome sculptor Matt Healy on a business trip and the two share a night of passion. They arrange a second date, but when Kit arrives at Matt’s apartment she is greeted by a stranger claiming he is the real Matt and that his identity was stolen.
Realising she has been duped Kit decides to put the encounter behind her. Shortly after, the police ask her to identify a man killed in a hit and run, carrying only her business card, and she is shocked to find the dead man is the person she knows as the genuine Matt Healy.
Kit fears she has become unintentionally embroiled in a sinister web of deceit. With no real evidence to take to police, Kit resolves to unravel the mystery herself. But can she do so before more lives, including her own, are put in danger?
For fans of psychological suspense and compulsive mysteries, don’t miss this tense and page-turning novel.
Kate White is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve works of fiction: seven Bailey Weggins mysteries and five stand-alone psychological thrillers, including most recently, The Secrets You Keep. For fourteen years she was the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, and though she loved the job (and the Cosmo beauty closet!), she decided to leave in late 2013 to concentrate on being a full-time author and speaker
Hi! I really enjoyed The Wrong Man, how did you come up with the idea for the story?
Thanks so much for saying that. I usually start a book with a germ of an idea, a tantalzingitem I’ve read somehwhere or simply come up with in my own head, and then I play the “What if....?” game with it, seeing if that germ will take me someplace scary, twisty, and mysterious. That was the case with this book. I was stopping by someone’s apartment in New York City one day and before he swung open the door, I found myself wondering what it would be like if the person who appeared on the other side of the threshold wasn’t the person I was expecting but had the same name. How creepy and unsettling that would be. 
 And then I was off and running with that concept.

The characters are so detailed, who was the easiest to write? I never find anyoneeasy to write, much to my despair, though I’m certainly drawn to some characters more than others . You have to think about each character so much, even about aspects of his or her back story that you might not even end up putting in the final pages.

  In the end, if you’ve done your work, the characters can feel so real to you. I really liked writing about Kit Finn, the protagonnist in The Wrong Man, because she faces challenges many women encounterShe’s uncertain about the kind of risks she needs to take in life. And uncertain about what type of man she should be drawn to. Of course, ultimately she ends up in the kind of danger most women fortunately never face, and she has to try to navigate her way out using all her nerve and ability.

  She not perfect, but she’s also not a trainwreck either. Frankly, I’m a little tired of that type of female character in books. There have been so many of them in thrillers lately.

 Where do you enjoy writing? I love writing in small spaces, where it’s very,very quiet. Beware the death stare I will subject you to if you’re making noise!!! My husband and I live during the winter months in a little beach town in Uruguayand he was surprised when I told him he could have the office with the view of the ocean. That kind of setting would offer too much distraction for me. My office has a view of only tree tops. And though there are lots of large parakeets jabbering all day long, it’s just white noise to me by this point.

The story begins in The Florida Keys, have you been there personally? I had heard about the amazing Florida Keys and researched it a lot onlinebut finally decided I needed to actually to travel there to make sure I got the setting right in the book. I stayed at this small, enchanting, Carribean-style hotel called Casa Morada,with lush jungle-like grounds. I was in heaven. But I swear I managed to find the time to research when I was there. 

Who are your favourite thriller authors?I’m a big fan of Americans like Karin Slaughter, Michael Connelly, and Linda Fairstein. I also adore so many British thriller writers. Currently I’m absolutelyhooked on British author Susie Steiner, who’s only published two booksMissing, Presumed and Persons Unknown. Please, Susie, write faster!

How long did it take to write The Wrong Man?. Just a year but that’s only because I’m under contract to produce one book a year.

What’s your least favourite part of writing a book? The last two chapters. I have them mapped out in my head, but I’m alway so eager to get to the finish line that it can be excrutiating. I love starting a book. When you have this delicious idea and you can’t wait for it all to unfold. 

Do you have plans for your next novel? I just turned in my eighth Bailey Weggins mystery and am now at work on a new stand-alone psychological thrillerI love the plot and it’s making me a little giddy.

Your work includes both stand alone novels and a series. Which do you prefer to write? Do you think that your writing style differs between themthoroughly relish doing both because it offers nice variety in my work life. My BaileyWeggins mysteries have quite a bit of humor. Bailey is totally irreverent. My psychologicall thrillers are darker, though there’s some humor in The Wrong Manthanks to this one charcter, Baby Meadow.

Lastly, what advice would you give aspiring writers? I say this a lot but I feel it’s worth repeating. Know roughly where you’re going. Some writers don’t plot things out, but I think in the early years, it’s very helpful. That way you don’t find yourself boxed into a corner. 

  Give your protagonist a big, seemingly unsurmountable challenge to overcome. Jessica Knoll, the author of The Luckiest Girl Alive, which has sold over a million copies, used to work for me when I ran Cosmopolitan magazine in the U.S. and it was clear from the beginning that she would be an awesome fiction writer. She told me recently that the best advice I gave her was to go big or go home,” and she’s sure done that with her books. But don’t make the twists ridiculous. I just read a book this past weekend with twists so preposetrous I was tempted to ask for my money back

Finally—though there’s tons more I could say--don’t try to write too much in a day. It can be defeating to set super big goals in the beginning. Aim for a certain number pages and adher to that. If you feel stuck, it often means you haven’t done enough thinking or research for that section.

Hope you enjoyed reading the Q&A, it’s the first I’ve ever done! 

Abi x

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

The Bentley: Afternoon tea

Stepping into The Bentley, Liverpool’s latest venue serving up afternoon tea to the delight of the public was a unexpected treat last Saturday.

Invited for the launch, myself and a few close friends were treated to a glass of prosecco on arrival and an Instagram worthy light up sign. 

We got to taste some of the lovely cakes and sandwichs that come as part of the afternoon tea package. 

All of this happening with an amazing acoustic singer serenading is. 

Having never been to the venue before, I was impressed by the decor. Cool grays with beautiful fixtures to accent it. It’s clear that £24.95 per person, afternoon tea at The Bentley is a steal. 

Considering it’s my first time going to an afternoon tea, I can safely say I wasn’t disappointed. Thank you for having me!

Abi x

Ps thanks to Kier Smith for including myself with the launch. I was not paid for this opportunity and all opinions are mine solely.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Book blog tour: The Leavers by Lisa Ko

Imagine being pulled from the world you know, thrust into a new culture. New faces, new people, a new life.
Imagine, as you start to adjust, to adapt, that the one anchor to the life you know vanishes. 
Imagine losing your mother and having to carry on. 
That is the premise of The Leavers, which follows Demings life after his mother goes missing without a trace in their new American home.
We see Deming through his teens and adulthood, gaining understanding of the trials he’s had to face to become the person he is today. 
How as an adult he still misses his mother and feels that things he does could bring her back...

The story is cleverly written, discussing challenging topics that deserve the recognition. Deming’s mother Peilan came to America, a young pregnant woman scared of China’s strict pregnancy laws. 
It gives a new window into the struggles of immigration, a concept that has in recent times become  a fodder for media but with no true recognition of the real people experiencing it. 
We have insights to the challenges of growing up within an adopted family.

The book for me deserves a solid 7/10, for challenging me intellectually as well as entertaining me with its gripping story. 

Abi x

Ps: I was kindly sent this book for free as part of the blog tour, all opinions are mine(get your own!).

Monday, 19 March 2018

Caernarfon: photo diary

Okayyyy so it may only be a few hours away by car, and I may have only stayed one night...but this trip was absolutely lovely so naturally I wanted to share it on this 'ere blog thing. I've always enjoyed visiting new places, in this instance Caernarfon wasn't new to me, but it was the first time I'd been as an adult. It gave me a new appreciation for the small welsh town that I hadn't had previously.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Stephen Hawking: thought-provoking even in death.

On the 14th March 2018, the world woke to the news that the brilliantly iconic Stephen Hawking had passed away aged 76. To me it symbolizes a great loss to the world. I feel honored to have shared a part of my lifetime with such a person.
Stephen Hawking
He's known twofold among-st the world. Partially for his brilliant mind, to have such a brain to not only understand out of this world theories but be able to create and support your own is a rare thing. His novel, "A Brief History of Time" sold over 10 million copies and was on the Sunday Times  bestseller list for over 4 years.  He was known for his views on numerous topics and was not afraid of causing academic controversy.

The other side of the coin comes of course, from living with MND (Motor Neurone Disease)since his early twenties. To the majority of the world, to picture Stephen Hawking is to see the wheels and hear that slightly americanised robotic voice. Its something that drew him outside of the scientific sphere ofinfuence and into the public eye. He went on to use his popularity a gap between science and the public mind in ways that have yet to be replicated. He featured cameos on numerous shows from The Simpsons to Star Trek and culminated his IMDB with a film depicted of his life starring Eddie Redmayne: The Theory of Everything.
He campaigned and succeded in gaining disabled access throughout Oxford University. A good portion of his life he worked within the realms of disability outreach, using his publicity to improve peoples knowledge of disability rights and in protecting those rights.

In the hours since his passing, the internet has blown up with messages of respect and mourning. One message however stands strong amongst the well-wishers, that he was " a great man despite  his disease". Of course, as I stated above, Hawking is known publicly as much for his condition as he is his mind.
What isn't known is that messages like that reflect and attitude that an be harmful for those living with chronic illness.

Let me explain a bit more. To say that someone is good at something despite living with a chronic condition is to not see them as a whole person. Instead you are cherry-picking the qualities you are complimenting to meet the ideal of an able-bodied person.
For example, Hawking was an amazing person for all his achievements AND  he had MND. it's a simple change but actually reflects a better understanding. His achievements are not a testament to his condition, they are of what he himself could achieve. Yes, they may have only been possible with technology to provide speech, or of a wheel chair to allow him mobility but they are his.
It's important we see people as a whole person, not just components. To respect that some peoples goals might be different compared to other peoples because of how their day to day life is. To some people a goal might be to write a best selling physics novel, or it could be to get dressed every day in one week.
It's not to say that they are limited by their illness, and that any goal they achieve is despite of it. It's to recognise that they are a person as a whole and that they can still have goals and dreams.

As someone who does work in the NHS, we are conditioned to treat the acute problem. Your knee is sore? Heres pain relief. Problem with your shoulder? Send for a short course of physio.
We are conditioned to treat the smaller things, to not see someone as a whole person. It's something I try to work around in m own practise. To work with people to set goals, not despite their condition,  but that have meaning to them and are achievable.

I sit here as an able-bodied person, and it's still something that I find hard not to say. Yet I'm trying. So next time, think about how you phrase things, because often it reflects more about you than the person you're talking about.

Even in death, Hawking challenges how we see the world.

Abi x


Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Liverpool Urban Hair and Fashion Awards

Before Christmas  I attended a little event on my own in a local Liverpool restaurant, I got chatting to lovely ladies and had a great night.

Fast forward a few months and I’m sat at the Liverpool Urban Hair and Fashion Awards. Random, I know. But it’s one of the many things that we chatted about that fateful night and that really caught my imagination.