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Stay Mad, Sweetheart

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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?

A pacy and suspenseful novel with its feet firmly in the #MeToo era. 9 to 5 meets Suits with a dash of Black Mirror.

330 pages, Kindle Edition

Published November 19, 2019

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Heleen Kist

3 books57 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 55 reviews
Profile Image for Sarah.
2,551 reviews162 followers
November 5, 2019
How do I review a book that is so current, so now and more importantly a book that everyone should read?

The start of this story is quite sombre. We hear all to often about the bullying and trolling that can go on, on line, of which Emily finds herself victim to. My heart went out to this woman who I had only known for a brief few moments.

As the story goes along, we get to meet Laura, Suki and Claire. All very much career women and good at what they do. It was actually an eye opener to see different scenarios of sexual discrimination through the places that they work.

The storyline actually took my breath away. It sent my head in a spin as we see how men in power use that power without thought of anyone but themselves. I was wholly routing for these three different women, coming together for justice.

Stay Mad, Sweetheart is an exceptional story of women doing it for themselves. I loved the combined strength of these women and all that they brought to this novel. It is a fresh and enthralling story that really hits home with the reader. Bravo to the author. An outstanding read.

My thanks to Red Dog Press for an advanced readers copy of this book. All opinions are my own and not biased in anyway.
Profile Image for TheBookwormBlog.
254 reviews11 followers
March 26, 2021
This is my second time reading this books – I thought I would re-read for a fresh updated review ahead of this blog tour.

Firstly, let’s talk about the amazing cover, it certainly draws you to the book straight away, making you want to judge a book by its cover.

This book was filled with beautiful descriptive writing, with one of my favourite paragraphs being ‘I loved how authors used words – the perfect words – to convey a thousand emotions and take me on a journey from which I could emerge simultaneously drained and invigorated to take reality again’ – and Heleen Kist certainly has a serious talent with words.

The main theme of this book is feminism – the three main characters Laura, Suki and Claire want equality and justice for how they have been wronged, and I think it is the perfect book for everyone to read in this current day we are living in.

Laura was instantly likeable and my favourite character by a mile, an introverted, avid reader, what is there not to love about her right? I felt an incredible connection to Laura and loved how her character progressed throughout the pages, starting from an isolated quiet reader to making bold choices to right her wrongs with her new set of friends.

This book is a fantastic thrilling read that will keep you hooked.

Profile Image for Danielle.
192 reviews11 followers
November 29, 2019
'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.
Profile Image for Kelly Van Damme.
647 reviews23 followers
November 23, 2019
Hi and welcome to my review of Stay Mad, Sweetheart! Massive thanks to Red Dog Press for the paperback!

Today I’m here to tell you… that I have no idea what to tell you 🙈

I could tell you that this is a very topical and important book. Who knows, you may be someone who feels it’s important to pick up important books. Frankly, I am not. Tell me a book is important and odds are I’ll run the other way, ‘cause important books are boring and/or pedantic, right? Wrong! Stay Mad, Sweetheart is neither, yet it is important in that it holds up a mirror to society and makes the reader take a long hard look… Yes, I’m talking about #MeToo.

Before you run away screaming, yes I’ll admit I’m pretty much fed up too with books in which women (often all the female characters) are portrayed as victims and men (often all the male characters) as the scum of the earth. I think we can all agree that, regardless of our personal experiences and opinions, #MeToo has been everywhere, and its influence has been felt in the arts as well. It was in the sudden departure of certain actors on Netflix after sexual abuse allegations were made, like Kevin Spacey, who was chucked from his leading role in House of Cards, and producer / actor Danny Masterson, who had to walk away from The Ranch. But #MeToo also left its mark on literature, to a point where I decided never to pick up a novel again if it had even the faintest whiff of #MeToo, because I had simply read too many in too short a time and they all boiled down to the same thing. Then why on earth did I want to be on this tour for a book that screamed #MeToo? Because I had faith in Heleen! I read her first novel, In Servitude, last year and I had a feeling that she would get this right, that she would make the reader ponder by means of a nuanced story. And she more than delivered, ponder I did, and actually, I still am.

In other words, to state that Stay Mad, Sweetheart is thought-provoking would be an understatement. It made me think about the nuances of sexual harassment, it made me question more than a few things that happened to me and people I know and it made me realise that some of those things were just not okay. The crazy thing is, everyone kind of thinks it’s normal, and ignores it, it’s just men being men, boys will be boys hardy har har, when actually… it isn’t, is it?

It’s precisely the fact that Heleen Kist tells the story in such a nuanced way, that makes it so thought-provoking. Nothing is black and white, there are good guys and bad guys, the characters’ opinions clash and morph and as a consequence the reader is tempted into consciously pondering their own opinions.

#MeToo is not the only harrowing and thought-provoking bit of Stay Mad, Sweetheart, it also shines a light on social media and the trolls that come with it, and how detrimental to a cyberbullied person’s mental health this can all be. This is the technological equivalent of villagers forming a mob and picking up their pitchforks and torches, but it’s worse since the whole world can get involved effortlessly, having not only an opinion but also a desperate need to voice it, often in the least eloquent and most damaging ways possible.

Which brings us to the Black Mirror aspect of Stay Mad, Sweetheart: what if data scientists could create a model to reveal who the instigators are? What if a program could determine in offices and social media alike who are the people spreading kindness and happiness, making others feel better, and who are the ones making the work floor or the worldwide web a darker place, spreading hate, making others feel worse, even in tiny ways. I’m not at all tech savvy, but I loved this storyline! And any tech stuff is explained in plain English, suitable for tech dummies like myself, yet not in a way that made me feel stupid (it’s a fine line, people!). I got curious and asked Heleen if she based this on any kind of present-day technology. She told me it’s completely fictional, yet plausible and she had a friendly data scientist check what she’d written, so I think the tech savvy should be able to enjoy this too, knowing the science adds up.

Whichever way you turn it, from its stunning cover hinting at the various aspects of the content to the story itself, Stay Mad, Sweetheart is a gorgeous novel that I enjoyed very much, and an exciting addition to my Red Dog Press shelf, or any shelf for that matter. Recommended!
Profile Image for Zoé-Lee O'Farrell.
Author 1 book175 followers
November 25, 2019
This book, I mean wow! It is totally a now book, very relevant to the #metoo movement. I’m not going to voice my opinions on this movement but I did like the take Stay Mad, Sweetheart took on this and the wider scope of cyberbullying. I found this segment of the story heartbreaking. Bullying in any form is awful but to the degree, that occurs in this book is astonishing. It’s cruel, uncalled for and you can see elements of this on Twitter in this present day. There are way too many keyboard warriors out there and no one thinks of the consequences of the words they sent out on the WWW.

This is only the start of the story, we meet the three women that are all affected by the devastating events. We watch these women all affected in one or another by unwanted advances, being “protected” by a man and spoken down to just for being a woman. However, there is a spin on this story and I quite liked because it as not always as black and white as it seems and the men aren’t always at fault!

This is, at times, an uncomfortable read, it really doesn’t hold back and that I do love. It shows the deep, down and ugly side to things, Kist really did not sugar coat anything and I have so much respect for her. It would be so easy to glamourise things but here we have a scenario, a very real scenario and Kist shows the very real and gritty side to it all.

The three women in the story, Laura, Claire and Suki are powerhouses and not to be messed when they are combined. When the Avengers assemble boy do they! They are supportive and boost confidence in each other, a sisterhood that is to be treasured and I did enjoy them on the pages. Stay Mad, Sweetheart focuses on Laura and the sale of her IT company. I am a techie geek to an extent but I don’t understand all of it, so when we are told about a new piece of technology being built, it is explained in a way that helps us understand straight away. We aren’t treated as being “stupid” we are treated the same as Suki and Claire, as knowing a little bit to get by but the rest is explained. It is also a little terrifying where technology is going, however, this programme that Laura is testing is also fascinating! I mean how a programme can do what it can just wow.

I did enjoy how everything unfolded slowly, it didn’t rush, we took in every detail and every nuisance. When everything came together in its climatic way, it was shocking and quite gratifying.

Kist writing is compelling and enthralling. She knows how to intrigue the reading to keep the pages turning and she knows how to reveal things to the reader to shock and awe them. She is a great storyteller and I will be making sure I get to In Servitude quick smart!!!
Profile Image for Shalini.
2,477 reviews199 followers
November 25, 2019
Author Helen Kist has done it again, written book which was so in tune with the work culture of today. She has brought it out into the open for all of us.

3 women Laura, Suki, and Claire’s lives were intertwined with Emily. Their ire was raised when they came to know how a woman was vilified by the trolls of Twitter. The emotional effects of cyber bullying led to the three standing up for themselves.

Second book by author Heleen Kist, she has smashed this one right out of the part in a glorious win. The writing was superfluous and passionate. Evocative and clear in the wordings. The author used the right words to reveal what the women went through which also reflected each of our personal experiences. Who amongst us hasn’t gone through sexual harassment?

Characters were few, some I didn’t like, and some I downrightly loved to hate. I loved that the prose could get me all fired up. I believed I didn’t have to like the characters to appreciate the story, in fact not liking them worked for me as I wanted to gauge how the story would pull me in. The voices of the women were strong, and they spoke for all of us and to all of us. Twists in the story especially at the end made my vengeant heart smile.

Gender equality will take years probably decades to come into my country, so I liked it when the women decided to get their revenge. I don’t believe there is a fine line between justice and revenge, where these icky men are concerned. Why should we spare the rod and spoil them? Pun not intended.

The story had layers which seeped into the deepest part of me bringing out what women all over the world have gone through, are going through. Heleen Kist was brilliant when she wrote a book which spoke for all of us. I would stay mad and get even, and no sweethearts ever in the work front for me.
Profile Image for rina dunn.
434 reviews9 followers
November 19, 2019
Everybody needs to read this book! It's completely current and timely and covers a very important subject. Far from being very political this book which covers Gender discrimination and sexual harassment towards women is written in an easy to read engaging way.
The plot follows three highly independent, intellectual women who are all experiencing sexism, and discrimination in some way. When Laura's friend is subject to horrific cyber bullying which results in tragedy the three women's lives are intertwined as they plot to take revenge on the wrong doings of these men.
Emotions are high and I was completely with them the whole way through. The friendship between them that grows due to something many women experience is powerful.
I've read a few books inspired by the #metoomovement and this is firmly my favourite. It's engrossing and I became completely invested in the characters and the plot. I highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for Jesika.
694 reviews40 followers
November 5, 2019
I'm not sure how to review this novel, except to start with if you are so much as thinking about reading it, you absolutely should.

I didn't know what to expect, but this book pulled me in and I couldn't put it down. The writing is that hard to achieve conversational tone between intelligent women, the plot is extremely well paced and not one of the characters comes across as anything less than a fully realised person. It was a joy to read, and I read it in 26 hours.

There are a lot of novels trying to be a defining voice of the #MeToo movement, and most of them come across heavy handed and painfully political. This book felt real to me, like a genuine reflection of how sincerely exhausted women are by the systemic and inane gender discrimination and unwanted sexual attention they face every day in almost any situation. The main trio of women in this novel find their lives, their frustrations and their individual expert knowledge slowly becoming entangled and it leads to a genuinely John Hughes type resolution.

This book deserves all the attention I'm sure it will garner after release, and I sincerely hope it is read very widely.
Profile Image for Anthony Frobisher.
183 reviews2 followers
December 1, 2020
A thriller of justifiable revenge

25 years ago I began a career as a manager in the railway industry in the UK. One thing that struck me, after I had left, was how the management teams at every level were equally split between male and female managers, appointed on ability and experience.
Reading Heleen Kist's excellent novel that exposes the inherent sexism within the corporate world, made me realise how progressive the railways were, especially in an era unenlightened by #metoo and where sexism and discrimination are far more to the fore of HR departments

Heleen Kist has written a novel that creates an entirely believable world, with well developed characters, and a strong plot that fizzes along. As a man reading the developing storyline of revenge, I gradually realised how much casual sexism occurs in daily life, without comeback or consequence (other than for the victim).

An interesting, clever book and one that certainly gives you pause for thought.
Profile Image for Adite.
Author 9 books342 followers
December 25, 2019
Stay Mad...is a great read on a subject that is universal: the insidious manner in which women are undermined at the workplace. Heleen Kist negotiates the subject with ease without ever letting the narrative slide into a dark and depressing commentary or an unbelievable ra-ra revenge story. She keeps it real with her three protagonists - Laura, a data scientist, Claire, a PR executive and Suki, a hotshot finance exec. The common incident that binds is the suicide of Emily, Laura's best friend, triggered by a horrific troll attack. How they come together to fight their own personal battles against workplace discrimination and sexual harassment is what this story is all about. Kist throws in twists at the appropriate moments which gives it a thriller like immediacy.
Profile Image for Madeleine Black.
Author 2 books70 followers
October 26, 2019
Whilst this is a work of fiction, I also think it is an incredibly important book for both men and women to read. It cleverly raises awareness through the story being weaved of the everyday sexism that women face daily both at their work place and private life, and also makes us question what exactly does consent look like. Really enjoyed this fast paced read and will be reading more from this author. #TimesUp
Profile Image for Livy.
252 reviews13 followers
March 24, 2021
This book is absolutely incredible and I think that everyone should read it. Ugh, I loved reading this, not only because of it's feminist angle with very 9 to 5 vibes but also in the way that it looked at issues like gender equality in the workplace and sexual harassment. Plus (and this is very minor), it's set in Edinburgh which is where I am for university and so I loved how the events were happening around a city that I know so well.

The characters are incredible. The three women, Claire, Suki and Laura are so well written because they are complex and flawed but still so loveable. I felt with them as they fought against the injustices that they faced in their respective workplaces and as they plotted revenge on the people that have wronged them. Even the "villains" of the story were complex and like real people and that helped to feed in the idea of a grey area which is central to the book. Especially the grey area between justice and revenge which is incredibly central to the plot (but more on that in a second). I just adored how every character was unique and interesting to read about and it was just such a delight to be included in the small group that the three women formed and it felt like we really got inside their minds and their experiences given that the book was told from their perspectives. It was just incredible and I feel so grateful to have read this story from their perspective.

The plot is of course all about dealing with gender equality in the workplace and facing sexual harassment as well as the consequences of actions. That is certainly a major theme because throughout the book whether it is the actions of the three women or the "villains" of the story we get to see all the consequences of the actions, both negative and positive. And of course, as I briefly mentioned, we have the idea of the grey area between justice and revenge when concerning the three women and their desire for justice which perhaps morphs into revenge nearer the end of the book when the "villains" get their just deserts. I just adored this story and feel like they all got what was coming to them, although Suki may have gone a bit too far at the end but I'm not sure because (and I'm trying so hard to not spoil this book) the person she was getting revenge for was truly vicious.

The writing was incredible, form the description of the settings to the characters and to the plot. Heleen Kist really knows how to write a good book. Her use of perspectives was really good and you got a wonderful insight into the characters throughout their journeys for justice and as they faced injustices continually and tried to make their own way in the world. I cannot wait to see what else Heleen comes out wiht next because I know that it is going to blow everyone away.

I was kindly provided with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Sarah Faichney.
734 reviews18 followers
January 6, 2021
A feminist tale of revenge set in Scotland, "Stay Mad, Sweetheart" will appeal to anyone who enjoys crime fiction, information technology and strong female characters. Heleen Kist has married her professional knowledge to her considerable writing talent to conceive this brilliant book. Themes include the high cost of full disclosure online, privacy and anonymity, doxxing, the corrosive nature of incels and keyboard warriors. "Stay Mad, Sweetheart" is also about the power of female friendships, sexism and workplace discrimination, and business ethics. Kist's narrative raises questions about current legislative arrangements as regards the Internet, with a particular emphasis on social media, and culpability. Through protagonist Laura we also see the frustrations of dealing with a police service pitifully under-resourced. I loved Laura and it was particularly refreshing to see a female tech genius and company founder. Whilst the book has an obvious feminist agenda, it's not preachy and highlights that feminism is, at its heart, a quest for equality. The plot is compelling and I held my breath for much of the final chapters. There is a lot to unpack and Kist does it with skill and grace. She makes us consider the impact of male entitlement and imbalances of power. We see sexual harassment and racist stereotypes being played out in the workplace. The characters in this novel aren't perfect either. Sometimes they make mistakes, reflect and then try to fix them (I'm looking at you, Claire). I found the three women at the heart of the story relatable and authentic. There are some important lessons in "Stay Mad, Sweetheart" but they're cleverly concealed within a story which makes a compelling read - a true testament to the talent of the writer. When the reason for the book's title was revealed, I was jumping up and down with excitement and pride. Hell hath no fury and there's more than one way to skin a cat! I'm unsure whether some of the software in the book exists but if it does, I want to know more and if it doesn't, then I hope someone gets onto it soon as the possibilities are fascinating. I was buzzing when I finished this book. Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Lel Budge.
1,397 reviews26 followers
November 21, 2019
This really is a must read, it’s very relevant for the time we live in.

This is Laura’s story, her friend Emily is vilified online after she posts her sexual assault by a Hollywood star online. It was meant to be anonymous but she was identified and out came the trolls…making her life unliveable.

Laura wants to get justice for her friend, at the same time dealing with the potential sale of her company. She was the co-founder with her friend Justin and the sale could bring them millions.

As a data scientist, Laura finds information that could help the police but they are not really interested, so she decides to investigate herself…..

She becomes friends with two women, and together they highlight and expose the sexism and discrimination they experience every day. These three women plot revenge on those responsible.

This has a bit of everything, there’s sexual assault, cyber bullying, corporate misdoings and toxic everyday sexism, all wrapped up in an amazingly compelling plot..I was invested in these characters and really couldn’t wait to see how their plans unfolded. I was cheering them along….all credit to Heleen Kist’s immersive, emotional writing. Gripping and utterly compelling.

Thank you to Red Dog Press for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour and for a free ecopy of the book. This is my honest and unbiased review.
Profile Image for s.
37 reviews13 followers
July 25, 2020
The problem when writing book reviews is I tend to want to jump straight to the spoilers, you know those bits that really grab you so you want to see how other people react to them?
But without ruining anything for potential readers I can say that this is a thought-provoking book with diverse, strong characters. Besides being completely ‘of the moment’ - addressing the highly topical #MeToo and ‘consent’ conversations – Stay Mad Sweetheart has some unexpected twists along the way. Don’t worry if you don’t have a ‘techy’ mind – those bits are explained in easy-to-follow dialogue.
It’s an uncomfortable read in places, because of the way it observes some of the less savoury aspects of human behaviour and how tech can interact with and enable that, raising important questions in doing so, but the positive aspects of friendship and solidarity win the day.

I picked this up after reading In Servitude by the same author, and her ‘pro-powerful women’ voice comes through in both novels. I’m sure we’ll hear more from Heleen Kist!
Profile Image for Jessica Belmont.
1,482 reviews44 followers
November 20, 2019
Everything about Stay Mad, Sweetheart is incredible. This 5 star novel is in the running for my favorite of 2019 for so many reasons, but I'm only going to cover some of them, so you have time to read!!!

In the wake of the 'me too' movement, Stay Mad, Sweetheart shows us the realities of sexual harassment and unfair gender discrimination in the workplace. Heelen Kist delves deep into this topi c and creates this compelling, and realistic view of a real issue.

The characters in this novel are brilliant. Each character has their place, and each brings something to the table to keep the plot moving forward. The high stakes deals and how the characters react are so realistic, it felt like I was watching the story through the eyes of the characters.

I can't gush enough about Stay Mad, Sweeheart. Even the title is brilliant and look at that cover. I'm fangirling and proud of it. Heleen Kist is easily one of my favorite writers and I can't wait to see what she has for us next!
Profile Image for Liam.
257 reviews7 followers
January 20, 2020
How do you get revenge when you don't know who to blame?

Stay Mad, Sweetheart is a fantastic crime thriller for the Me Too era, with Internet trolls, bullies and office gropers all getting their just desserts in this exciting novel that had me cheering by the end!

I loved the setting, the way Edinburgh was brought in as a vibrant and very real part of the story. I loved the corporate intrigue, high-tech, high-finance world. I loved the three main characters, and all their little quirks, and the ghost of Emily over the whole thing.

And I loved it's positive take on feminism, that change is possible, change is coming, that men can and should do better and women can kick arse. I loved how it confronted so many stereotypes too, from women coding to which PR portfolio they're given.

So much I loved about this story and despite the often heavy, serious subject matter, it was fun and funny.
Profile Image for Awais Khan.
Author 5 books158 followers
January 9, 2020
This is a highly topical novel about what happens when you push women too far. Coming out in the midst of the Me Too movement, this book is written by an author who has an astute understanding of the topic. It only helps that Kist is also an expert in the art of storytelling and keeps the reader hooked till the very end. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an compelling and original read. Five Stars!
Profile Image for Louise Beech.
Author 17 books312 followers
November 4, 2019
An intelligent and topical read. A book that - while you're hungrily turning the pages - also makes you think. Makes you angry. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Robert Parker.
Author 9 books34 followers
November 13, 2019
Twisting and thrilling, topical, nuanced and insightful - and so beautifully written. It's a bold, relatable, REAL, lyrical, standout read and it's going to knock everyone's socks off.
Profile Image for Anne.
2,041 reviews1,028 followers
May 15, 2020
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.
March 28, 2021
Stay Mad, Sweetheart is a whole new ball game and is so highly relevant and topical. It’s an intense and emotional tale of revenge and I indulged in, and devoured every word of it.
Laura, Claire and Suki have all been affected by similar experiences and are not taking it lying down. All involving men, and all being swept under the carpet or rewritten to tell make men into victims.
Heleen takes a sensitive subject matter and tackles it head on – showing the dark and realistic side and the reality of how people can be affected. She does not shy away from telling it as it is rather than giving it a Hollywood make over. Sexual harassment and abuse is rife and needs to be discussed in the open in an honest way and Stay Mad, Sweetheart does this. It made me angry!
Stay Mad Sweetheart is thought-provoking and really made me question how I, and society view certain behaviours and how we need to rethink the narrative around a lot of things. It made me reflect on certain terms we use to describe thing and how truthful these were and how harmful they can be. In addition to a #metoo narrative, another strong theme of this story is around #BeKind and the impact of trolls on social media.
Despite exploring dark themes, the writing is easy to follow and moves at a good pace. It’s emotionally charged and uncomfortable at times but it needs to be said! A superb piece of story telling that hopefully serves to raise some awareness around sexual abuse, trolling and victim blaming. Stay Mad, Sweetheart really packs a punch and I cannot recommend enough.
Profile Image for Leah M.
1,063 reviews29 followers
December 23, 2020
TRIGGER WARNING: sexual assault, online bullying, suicide, sexual harassment, racism, sexism

This book absolutely blew me out of the water. It’s the coolest combination of mystery/thriller with some women’s empowerment and a healthy splash of revenge, and I’ve never read anything like it.

I loved the characters, and they’re all so relatable in different ways. Each of the women who have a point of view felt like someone I could know, and may in fact have already met at some point in my life. The women are smart, motivated, ambitious, interesting, and successful in their chosen and varied fields. Part of what makes the story work so well is that they each bring different strengths to the table, and the way they work together and in the process, actually wind up becoming friends. I loved the fact that each of the women are successful in male-dominated fields — Laura in data science, Suki in corporate finance, and Claire in PR, which also sets them up to face gender-based discrimination.

The story moved along at a consistently fast pace. It never felt as though it was dragging or boring, and I was always interested in finding out what was going to happen next. There were plenty of surprising plot twists, and I couldn’t figure out what was coming next, even right up until the end.

This was an awesome book, and I really enjoyed reading it. It’s definitely an experience, and I really recommend it.
Profile Image for Nancy.
97 reviews12 followers
December 26, 2020
This story was both alarming and satisfying on so many levels. First of all, it firmly centers the stories of unabashedly smart, clever women. The obstacles placed in their way are the results of men's actions, but the women don't make things easy on themselves, either (there are realistic misunderstandings and rivalries) - so while it's a #MeToo story, it's also a story as old as time.

The women come up with their own solutions and problem solve for themselves along the way. Not everyone is gloriously beautiful, perfectly good, or purely evil. The punishments, when they finally come, fit the crime and make the reader fist-punch the sky. If you've ever been on the receiving end of vicious gossip, you'll feel vindicated at the end.

NB - the author obviously knows enough about data science to truly scare the reader. I suppose technically the book is a thriller, but it is for sure unsettling, what is being done with our online information - and what can be done *to* us if we dare disturb the bottom-feeders of the internet.
Profile Image for Karen.
669 reviews7 followers
October 31, 2020
This was a thought-provoking and intelligent story that while focusing on some tough subjects, was still a very entertaining read.
The three main characters are all likeable, well-rounded and believable so it is very easy to identify with at least one of them and get behind their causes. And you will, because the 'baddies' are also all written so well too that you will be hoping for their comeuppance just as much as the protagonist are!
While it is a fictional story, it can't be ignored that the themes and subjects covered are all too real. It will make you mad, and it should make you mad, but it is done in the best way and makes you wonder just how prevalent situations like these in workplaces around the country.
Profile Image for George.
145 reviews
June 2, 2020
Thank you, Red Dog Press for introducing me to this author and suggesting this book. This is one of my top two books so far in 2020. It is great to lose yourself in a storyline with great characters and come out with education too. As I moved through the life of Emily and was immersed in her tech-savvy world, I began to get an education about the social networking world and how it works. It kept me up several nights until the wee hours of the mornings as my questions and interest grew. I am anxiously awaiting Ms. Kist's next novel.
Profile Image for Humaira.
160 reviews37 followers
June 5, 2021
Very interesting book and one I would not have picked up normally if I hadn’t won it in a giveaway.

The book focuses on 3 women who end up working together to fight injustice, bullying and sexism.

I found the 3 different points of view really interesting and the ending was satisfactory but the way it jumped from first person to 3 person was disconcerting at times.

Overall a great meditation on how women can pursue passions in Tech, Finance and PR whilst overcoming sexism, racism and misogyny.
Profile Image for Dave Holwill.
Author 5 books11 followers
April 15, 2020
Gives an insight into the murky world of tech start-ups and corporate takeovers while remaining a fast-paced excellent tale of female camaraderie and revenge.
Wonderful believable characters I was sad to let go.
Profile Image for Yvonne (The Coycaterpillar Reads).
653 reviews200 followers
November 26, 2019
Happy new week to everyone!  Well I am extremely excited to bring to you my review for Stay Mad, Sweetheart by the awesome Heleen Kist.  In order for a reader to truly enjoy a book they need to connect with it on some level, be that a previous experience, a love for the story or a topic that you have wanted someone accurately depict for some time.  This is the book that we all didn’t know we needed.  This book ticks all the boxes.  The writing is plain addictive with kaleidoscopic complexity.  Now I know that the term – favourite book of the year is thrown around a lot, but this book truly deserves that title, it deserves the awards, hell its importance makes it essential reading. 

So, what is there to reel you in, if I haven’t already convinced you to pick this book up now?  A locked room of human emotion

Everyday sexism

Online bullying and trolling

A compulsively heart-breaking mystery

Sexual Abuse

Sizzling girl power

Strong female characters

I’m not sure that I give this book the justice it so rightly deserves.  Heleen Kist has created a Literary sensation, it’s the book of our time.  This book was created to move- it propels forward and doesn’t look back.  This book was so in your face and garners your attention immediately from the very first page.  The book was almost too hot to touch.  You will not be able to put this book down until its done…

Data Scientist, Laura is one hell of a character.  She’s the hero we didn’t know we needed.  She’s cleverer than the average, she’s a good friend and daughter but she also has her insecurities and she damn near relatable to every woman I know.  She’s had the knowledge, the know-how and the balls to build her company from nothing with her partner, Justin.  He’s the face, she’s the brains.  I wish I had her strength…she may not know it but boy is she the epitome of strength. her dad has died, and her mum is remarrying, and her partner is headed in a different direction.  She feels she can’t control any of these things…but she takes derisive action in finding out what happened to her best friend.  She has the knowledge and drive to nail whoever is to blame. 

Now the main theme within the book is equality or lack thereof.  She becomes acutely aware that she has been manipulated by a male colleague.  This is all going on during the company’s acquisition.  She’s shocked, hurt and betrayed. How in this day and age can such equality be allowed to breed and fester?  Luckily her acquaintance with two other wronged woman leaves her feeling empowered and ready to kick some ass!  I love the spunk the trio of women have and their desire to change things for the better.  Laura is special, it’s the choices she makes, the morals she has instilled within herself and the decision not to take it anymore.  Her strength of character is inspiring, and you just can’t help flying through the pages.  She has gone from the victim to an independent ass kicking woman.  She doesn’t let anything stand in her way, justice will be done, and she will come out on top.  Heleen Kist weaves this multi-faceted web, and yet during all this Laura doesn’t lose her humanity, the need for revenge doesn’t change who she is, she just won’t stand for everyday sexism/equality to be lurking in the corners threatening to engulf them whole.  The Me-too movement needs someone like Laura and her friends.  Those guys are the true superhero’s in our messed-up world. 

I just adored the nerdy element to Laura’s character.  It just brought her to life all the more.  This made her the perfect one to do some technological take downs.  I related to her from the very start and loved that she was introverted, was in love with her books.  Laura is definitely the character you would want as your best friend.  She has built a software programme that can run data through it so that it can detect if an employee is suffering with discontent, depression/anxiety but it can also highlight who are true influencers and who is bad guys.  It is truly radical.  Their journey to revenge and justice is a harrowing one but it is so worthwhile.

Stay Mad, Sweetheart is as sharp as a knife.  An expert at crafting thought provoking content and leaving you feeling empowered.  This novel is so patently heartfelt, a necessary read for everyone.  Important with imagery that leaves you in the centre of the storm, you feel anguish.  Just please go and read this now…it’s that good.

Thank you to Dylan @Red Dog Press for my spot on the blog tour and a copy of the book. All thoughts are unbiased
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