Welcome to my first ever Red Dog Press blog tour review! My fellow blogger Sarah at Lost in The Land Of Books has been screaming about this book, so when I saw the call for book bloggers for the tour, you can bet my Twitter hand shot straight up! Many thanks to Red Dog Press for the opportunity to be on the tour and for the electronic copy of the book to review, as well as many thanks to Heleen for writing Stay Mad, Sweetheart.
The book that has brought us here today is Stay Mad, Sweetheart by Heleen Kist, a very in our time novel about being a woman living in the era of the #MeToo movement. The book’s theme is of insidious harassment and discrimination which required no research: it is familiar to all women. Stay Mad, Sweetheart is published tomorrow by Red Dog Press, you can pre-order a copy here, directly from the publishers (which helps them more than you know!)
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 revenge, out November 19th 2019.
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 or Goodreads. You can also sign up to her newsletter on www.heleenkist.com.
THERE’S A FINE LINE BETWEEN INNOCENCE AND GUILT. AN EVEN FINER LINE BETWEEN JUSTICE AND REVENGE.
Data scientist 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.
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’ this was my mood the whole time reading Stay Mad, Sweetheart, it sparked a thought provoking interest in themes that are entwined into this anger inducingly gripping novel, I fell down a hole of podcasts to understand the themes further and that only solidified how important I thought this book is, it needs to be read – it’s not only a book, it’s the experiences of women in a world where they are deemed as the lesser sex, where they are clawing to survive in a misogynistic riddled society and what they endure on a scarily daily basis. I will recommend this book to everyone and you will certainly be seeing it on my top reads of the year list.
In a time of the #MeToo movement, reads such as Heleen’s are both raw and for me, made me realise that the way society treats those who have experienced sexual assault is disgusting – we need a damn word with ourselves if you ask me. One thing that initially angered me while reading Stay Mad, Sweetheart was how the survivors of this type of abuse aren’t named, where this may be a ‘protection’ thing, doesn’t it dehumanise the survivor? Doesn’t it devalue their feelings concerning the attack – the pain, loathing and confusion? The whole book was not only a shocking read, but it was also highly informative using a variety of female characters who each experienced some sort of harassment, whether sexually, racial or sexist, in the workplace.
First, we meet Emily, who becomes the bullseye of a violent, male dominated and grotesque social group through the medium of social media. Emily has experienced a life changing event, something that will stay with her forever – a crime has been committed and instead of her being the ‘victim’, it is the actual perpetrator who has become the affected party. With a huge amount of victim – blaming and everyone’s 50C thrown in for extra measure, we see how the rippling effects not only Emily but those connected to her whether directly or indirectly. Another anger inducing moment, yet one that makes you stop and think is this quote:
‘How can you say non – verbal cues should be enough?’ the blonde demanded. ‘What is a non – verbal cue, anyway? A squirm? Does that count? Why not say ‘no’ like a normal person?’
This is one of the biggest points in the book, it’s a question of what counts as consent, how is the other party meant to know what means no? This is exactly the reason why this needs to be talked about, consent isn’t only ‘yes’ or ‘no’ there’s tell tale signs that need to be highlighted and just because a person gave consent at the beginning, they are ALWAYS within their right to say ‘no’ at anytime and that counts whether you’re in a relationship or not, it crosses the lines between wanted or unwanted attention at a bar, or any environment. See what I mean about the thought mulling over that this book creates?
Heleen has penned what I feel is one of the most important books of the year, a strong #MeToo read that takes into consideration a lot of individual experiences of women, from a variety of backgrounds, occupations and races, to tell a broad story of what IS experienced by women in the workplace – whether you’re a waitress or a high status consultant in a highly patriarchal corporation, it’s happening and if you’re turning a blind eye, you’re part of the problem.
Through Heleen’s words I was entranced in a personal, raw, dark and fist shaking journey in mind blowing proportion, with an allure of mystery as Laura joins forces with Claire and Suki, two other women who face everyday workplace discrimination because of their sex, to investigate the real happenings behind Emily’s experience. There’s heartache, hold your breath moments and also times where you want to cheer while simultaneously punching someone in the face. This is a read that will undoubtable stay with me, it’s a book that will give me strength not to take the s**t some people expect me to because i’m a woman. Stay Mad, Sweetheart is a read that absolutely, no questions asked be read, shouted about and discussed – that’s part of the problem right? No one is discussing it! Well read this book then start! Remember Heleen has experienced the fondling and patronising of men, she’s sewn this feminist tale using the thread of some of her own experiences, she’s written about a subject that she knows and THAT fact, as well as the storyline punched me in the gut so many times.
I can’t say much more, I don’t want to spoil anything about this book but it is an absolutely necessary read for a variety of reasons! It is the literary essence of turning female victimisation to female empowerment, Stay Mad, Sweetheart has taught me that just because i’m a woman, doesn’t mean that I should just accept that sexual harassment, sexualised comments and cat calls are all parts of being a woman – they are not, we deserve respect and to all those men who think they can get away with it, well, their Time’s up.
Thanks again to Red Dog for having me on the tour, I’m so glad that I got to read Stay Mad, Sweetheart and share my thoughts on the tour. It’s a mind sticking read! I think we are going to need a book club for this one!
If you find that you’re reading pickle has been well and truly tickled, make sure to grab yourself a copy tomorrow (or pre-order today) directly from the Red Dog’s website here, remember, it is necessary!
I’ve also taken the liberty of including a video I found ages ago that I feel is educational in terms of explaining sexual consent. Check it out: