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.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

5 reasons to start running

I sit here typing, legs tired, mind relaxed and heart light. I'm back from a run and cheesy as it sounds I feel great.

I started running properly about a year ago. It helped me keep focused at a time when I needed a big distraction and an even bigger confidence boost. This post isn't about how everyone should try running. I'm not being that person, because I know its not suited for everyone. Instead its targeted at those of you who are thinking of starting. Who don't really know whether its for them or if they even could. Here are just a few reasons why I lace up my running shoes and work up a sweat:

1/ Goals//
Goals are important. Not necessarily the achieving of them(although obvs thats great) but aiming for them. Having something you're heading towards can give anything a bit of purpose.
Running is a great sport for setting goals. They can be as big or as little as you like, they simply have to be meaningful to you. I set a big goal after the Liverpool Rock'n'Roll marathon to run a half marathon in less then 2hrs30. I've since signed up for 2 halfs this year so we can see how close I get!

2/ Confidence//
Following closely behind goal setting is confidence. As well as that larger goal I mentioned, I've also set a smaller goal to be consistently running under 10 minute miles. The more running I'm doing the more consistent I'm getting and I feel this year I'll get that so that pretty much all my running will be at that pace. It's a long slog but actually makes me really confident seeing the progress I'm making. Even if we look at an early post I wrote last year, my average mileage was around 13:30 so its made big leaps and bounds in only a year.

3/ Friends//
We are looooading up on cheese today but starting running has helped me become closer to some of my friends. Most Tuesdays I go running with a few gal pals and its great, we can have a good natter and it helps push me to run better as they're a lot faster than me! Running is one of the most accessible sports around, anyone can do it and anyone can talk about it. Even people who have been running for years, who smash out the miles at paces you can only dream of will happily chat to you about it. I've yet to meet a runner who talks down to another runner, they always want to see you succeed as much as you do.

4/ Body image//
I won't sit here and tell you I lost shit tons of weight because it would be a big ass lie. I lost a little bit of weight when I first started, like a couple of pounds but I didn't make any changes to my diet so I wasn't expecting to and it slowly crept back up. Instead what I noticed was that I gradually became more toned, mostly my legs. So while the scales didn't change, I still found that I was having to do a little less squeezing into some of my tight er clothes. Feeling that little bit more sassy really helped my body image. I still weigh the same but I don't care as much as I used to about that. Instead I have a new appreciation for my own strength. I don't see that I have big legs,  I see legs that have the strength and endurance to run for miles. Its that trust in my own body that pushed me to start playing hockey again for the first time since high school.

5/ Mentality//
As if all that wasn't enough, for me running helps me stay on top of my mental health. I know that exercise doesn't work for everyone but for me it's a biiig part of me feeling well. Even on days where I haven't walked as much I feel angsty and irritable, it has a massive effect on my mood. Going running helps me to clear my mind. I can use it either as a distraction or as a focus as needed. It's time thats mostly for me, even if I do go for a run with others!

Theres just a few reasons I like to run, it's something I used to hate but have really come to love.

Abi x

P.S.: do you want more running related posts?
P.P.S. yep. theres a wee amazon affiliate link tucked away in this post, brownie points if you find it.