Friday 15 May 2020

Stay Mad Sweetheart by Heleen Kist @hkist #StayMadSweetheart @RedDogTweets #BookReview

There's a fine line between innocence and guilt. An even finer line between justice and revenge.

Shy and sensible Laura prefers the company of her books to the real world – let alone that cesspit online. But when her best friend Emily becomes the victim of horrific cyberbullying, she makes it her all-engulfing mission to track down the worst culprits using her finely-tuned data skills.

Petite corporate financier Suki is about to outshine the stupid boys at her firm: she's leading the acquisition of Edinburgh's most exciting start-up. If only she could get its brilliant, but distracted, co-founder Laura to engage.

Event planner Claire is left to salvage the start-up's annual conference after her colleague Emily fails to return to work. She's determined to get a promotion out of it, but her boss isn't playing ball.

As the women's paths intertwine, the insidious discrimination they each face comes to light. Emboldened by Emily's tragic experience, they join forces to plot the downfall of all those who've wronged them.

But with emotions running high, will the punishments fit the crimes?

Stay Mad Sweetheart by Heleen Kist was published by Red Dog Press in November last year. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

The tagline on my proof copy of Stay Mad Sweetheart reads 'there's a fine line between justice and revenge', this is the perfect sentence to sum up this incredibly intelligent, gripping thriller.

The story is like nothing that I've ever read before, it is set within the science and finance sector in Edinburgh and it is both educating and quite terrifying to read. Many of us will use Social Media regularly in our day to day lives, and I'd bet that the majority of us imagine that we are connecting with people just like us. Ordinary people, with various interests and levels of expertise who explain things that we may not really have thought about.  However, after reading this story, I will never look at my Twitter feed in the same light again. I know about targeted advertising, I know that information is gathered up, but I didn't realise just how intricate and clever it all really is.

Laura is a techie wizard. She and her university friend Justin had a innovative idea whilst studying and from that, have created Empisoft; one of the most exciting start-up businesses in the technical world. Laura is quiet and unassuming, preferring to hide away behind the cover of her current book than to take centre stage, that's what Justin does; he's the face of the company.

Emily was Laura's best friend, but now she's gone. The opening pages of this novel detail Emily's absolute despair after experiencing the horror that is cyber-bullying. She was unable to take it any longer.
Laura is devastated, and angry, and determined that those trolls, hidden away behind the anonymity of their online persona, will pay for what they did to Emily.

Heleen Kist writes beautifully and with such authenticity.  She thrusts her readers into the glamour and power of the business world whilst also taking them deep into the darkest part of the human mind, via the internet.
The story moves quickly and the characters are all really well created; each one of them with their own flaws, their own unique styles. The author really does champion the strength of the woman, and how difficult it can be to attempt to be equal in what remains a man's world.

Whilst the author deals with some very relevant and some very distressing issues within the novel, she does it with a grace and empathy that is both engaging and addictive.

Stay Mad Sweetheart is emotionally taut and very raw. Heleen Kist is certainly a talent to watch.

Throughout her life, Heleen Kist has been fondled, patronised and ordered to smile by random men. So she wrote 'Stay Mad, Sweetheart', a feminist tale of justice, published November 2019.Whilst her professional knowledge of technology start-ups fed the novel's setting, its theme of insidious harassment and discrimination required no research: it is familiar to all women.

Heleen was chosen as an up and coming new author at Bloody Scotland 2018. Her first novel, 'In Servitude' won the silver medal for Best European Fiction at the Independent Publishers Book Awards in the USA and was shortlisted for The Selfies awarded at London Book Fair.

A Dutch strategy consultant living in Glasgow and married to a Scotsman, she's raising their son to be a good man and their daughter to kick ass.

Heleen hopes you enjoy her writing, and would love to hear from you on twitter (@hkist), Faceboook (@heleenkistauthor

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