The Grip Of It

The real estate agent, with his waxy hair and perm-smile, keeps stopping to listen, waving his hand, saying, “That’s just the house settling.”

New house owners Julie and James weren’t electing the move to be an easy one. A relocation from city to countryside prompted by James’ penchant for gambling – his inability to keep his impulses in check – is, in actuality, quick and seamless. Both find themselves relieved to leave behind their old haunts and habits as they settle into a quiet life in their new house between the lake and the woods.

But their new house has other plans.

The architecture becomes unrecognisable, decaying before their eyes. Stains contract and explained, mapping themselves onto Julie’s body in the form of bruises; mould taints the water that James pours from the sink. As the couple search for the source of their mutual torment, they become mired in the history of their peculiar neighbours and the mysterious previous residents of the house.

The Grip Of It, Jac Jemc

The Grip Of It starts with James and Julie looking for a new home, an escape from the city, and the chance to put their problems behind them.

But like all new homes, there are things to get used to. Strange noises, that could be the house settling. Weird mould in the water, could be from old pipes. Growing damp, maybe the real estate agent want completely honest with them.

Growing bruises, mysterious rooms, old journals, ok maybe that’s not normal.

The stress of James’ gambling and the new house are enough to put strain on any relationship. Add in the oddities and the secrets of this house and it will keep you up all night. As the chapters alternate between both Julie and James, the suspense builds, each discovering new mysteries and eerie events that they hide. Can their marriage survive the haunting of their home, and more importantly, can they?

Jac Jemc and information about books and events can be found here, twitter, Facebook and instagram. The Grip of It is available via Titan Books as of September 3rd.

The Retreat

Katie Manning was a beloved child star until her mid-teens when her manager attacked and permanently scarred her face, effectively ending her career and sending her on a path of all-too-familiar post-Hollywood self-destruction.

Now twenty-seven, Katie wants a better answer to those click bait “Where Are They Now?” articles that float around online. An answer she hopes to find when her brother’s to-good-to-be-true fiancée invites her to a wellness retreat upstate. Together with Katie’s two best friends – one struggling with crippling debt and family obligations, one running away from a failed job and relationship – Katie will try to find the inner peace promised at the tranquil retreat. But finding oneself just might drudge up more memories than Katie is prepared to deal with.

Each woman has come to the retreat for different reasons. Each has her secrets to hide, and at the end of the weekend, nay one will live.

The last girl standing.

The Retreat, Sherri Smith

Thrillers are definitely one of my favourite genres, and Sherri Smith gives us not one, but four deeply layered and troubled women, all hiding secrets. The dynamic of Katie and her practically perfect future sister in law Ellie is fraught and dysfunctional, filled with dislike and distrust. Katie’s college friends Ariel and Carmen have an equally complicated relationship with Katie with varying degrees of emotional and financial dependancy. The vastly different lives and upbringings of each of these women create an intriguing mix of personalities.

Once they arrive at the retreat, we meet a fantastic array of characters. A couple who are camp regulars, a video game designer, a recent divorcée, a paramedic with PTSD, the famous Dr Dave, and his wife Naomi.

As the days progress, the therapy and activities intensify from picking vegetable to a ceremony with a special tea to help you find the real you. But that’s not the only thing that comes out in the climax of this tale.

The Retreat doesn’t just look at the consequences of your actions, but also dark pasts, old trauma, and repressed memories. Told by Katie, Ellie, Ariel, and Carmen, each secret that is revealed makes you want more, each new action leaves you hungry for the consequences, and most importantly you just want to know who is the last girl standing.

The Retreat is available to read right now, via Titan Books. Sherri Smith can be found here, on twitter, Facebook, and on instagram, where you can keep up with all the book news and events.

Only Ashes Remain

Today is my stop on the Only Ashes Remain blog tour. I have been looking forward to this since I received Not Even Bones for Christmas. And let me tell you it does not disappoint.

But first a recap. Not Even Bones is Rebecca Schaeffer’s debut novel and Book 1 in the Market of Monsters series. A series which sees the world as it is experienced by monsters, villains and the morally grey. The main character Nita dissects the bodies of the unnaturals that her mother hunts and kills to sell on the black market. It’s a life of order that she doesn’t question until the body her mother brings back is very alive. Nita defies her mother and releases their captive, only to have him betray her. Finding herself the caged specimen on the black market, Nita begins to question her morals and lifestyle.

After escaping her kidnappers and destroying the black market where she was held captive, all Nita wants is to find a way to live her life without looking over her shoulder. But with a video of her ability to self-heal all over the dark web, Nita knows she’s still a prime target on the black market. There’s only one way to keep herself safe. Nita must make herself so feared that no one would ever dare come after her again. And the best way to start building her reputation? Take her revenge on Fabricio, the boy who sold Nita to her kidnappers. But killing Fabricio is harder than Nita thought it would be, even with Kovit by her side. Now caught in a game of kill or be killed, Nita will do whatever it takes to win.

Only Ashes Remain is a killer sequel. Starting with Nita coming face to face with the root of all her current problems Fabricio.

She took a deep breath. She was in the middle of the INHUP headquarters in Botogá. There was an agent standing right beside her. This was not the time to commit murder.

Nita upon meeting Fabricio

When INHUP transfer Nita to Toronto, she reconnects with Kovit.

Nita had never imagined herself having friends, but if she had, they wouldn’t have been psychopaths who worked as mafia torturers.

Nita on her friendship with Kovit

While Nita makes plans to free herself from the cross hairs of the black market, and to kill Fabricio, Kovit uses his Family connections to find somewhere to stay. Making Nita’s circle of monsters a little bigger and more dangerous.

“Fine.” She frowned. “But do we have any assurance he won’t drag us underwater and eat our rotting corpses?”

Nita to Kovit

The problems that Nita and Kovit face in their time in Canada escalate as both their troubled worlds collide leaving them to face difficult choices. Nita is driven by vengeance and the desire to escape the life she feels her mother forced onto her. Kovit too wishes to escape a life he didn’t choose with the Family and to find his own family, the sister he hasn’t seen since he was 10 years old.

Not Even Bones was Nita’s story, Only Ashes Remain is where Kovit’s past comes to light. Seeing them both grow and learn more about themselves as they find their boundaries and how they fit together had me hooked and hungry for more. The only thing I hated was getting to the end and knowing I’ll be hanging there until book 3!

Rebecca Schaeffer was born and raised in the Canadian prairies. Her itchy feet took her far from home when she turned eighteen, and she hasn’t returned for more than
a few months here or there since. You can find her sitting in a cafe on the other side of the world, writing about villains, antiheroes and morally ambiguous characters. Her debut , Not Even Bones, is about a girl who dissects and sells monsters on the internet. Not Even Bones received a starred review from Booklist, was shortlisted for the Sunburst Award for Speculative Fiction, as well as the Cybilis awards.
The sequel, Only Ashes Remain, comes out September 2019.

Rebecca Schaeffer’s can be found on twitter, instagram, and on the Rebecca Schaeffer website.

Marie Brennan Author Interview

In all their Todd Lockwood glory

I was so incredibly excited when I was given the chance to read and review Marie Brennan’s Turning Darkness Into Light by Titan Books. I’m a huge fan of the Lady Trent series from both fantasy and throughly researched realism points. The world building is phenomenal, the characters are fantastic, and there are dragons! When there was an opportunity to be part of the blog tour and do a Q&A, I was absolutely on board.

Not only did I get to ask Marie about Lady Trent and Audrey, RPG campaigns, research, and smallpox scabs. I actually went to the release day signing event for Turning Darkness Into Light at Forbidden Planet and hear a short story letter exchange between Lady Isabella and Benjamin Talbot called From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review (A Lady Trent Story) performed to perfection in character voice.

In full character, Marie Brennan reading From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review

Lady Trent was quite the pioneer. Between her parents and grandparents Audrey has a lot to live up to, although the expectation comes from outside the family. Aside from being strong, intelligent, independent women, how do the two compare?

They’re both headstrong, of course but Audrey is cockier. She grew up with the assumption that she could get away with things, and that if she got into trouble her family would bail her out — neither of which were true for Isabella. But at the same time, Audrey is in some ways less sure of herself, because she has this yardstick everybody else is holding her up to . . . and she holds herself up to it as well. Plus there’s an experience in her past that badly undercut her confidence, as much as she tries to pretend otherwise.

I am fascinated by world building and how different influences and viewpoints create such contrasting imagery. If Lady Trent and Audrey could study the dragons and historic civilisations of any world, where would they go?

Anywhere they could get to!

It’s a flip answer, but it’s also true; they’ve both got a rampaging case of intellectual curiosity. I suspect Isabella would be fascinated to go into Naomi Novik’s version of our history, because it’s so much like her own, but the dragons there are intelligent. (Even if she would undoubtedly find some diplomatic faux pas to commit with them.) For Audrey, because her interest is more on the archaeological and linguistic end of things, she would need a place with ancient legends and the like. She would be wildly out of place in Middle-Earth, but Tolkien’s attention to detail on such matters would make her as happy as a clam.

The Spotify playlists are fantastic scene setters. What music do you imagine Audrey would work to?

Time to turn darkness into light

I’m so delighted people are listening to those! And it makes me feel a little guilty that I didn’t put together a full soundtrack for this novel, the way I’ve done with most of my previous ones. In large part that was because I don’t have a very big reservoir of the appropriate music; what I listened to while writing this novel was in the vague direction of swing, big band, and jazz, but I only have a little of that kind of thing. I wanted music with a 1920s feel, though, to help break me out of the Victorian mold of the Memoirs. I can absolutely see Audrey turning on the wireless and bobbing her head along to some swing as she works out a particularly knotty bit of text.

New Worlds (a Patreon project with compilations for years one and two available) is an amazing project and unbelievable resource for writers. I am a huge research nerd and will fall merrily into any obscure rabbit hole. Previously you spoke about 1491 and the Incan Mummy Problem. What has been the weirdest discovery in your reading or research?

I have to pick just one? Let’s go with two, and I apologize that they’re both a little bit gross.

The first is that China was practicing a form of immunization against smallpox centuries before Europe was, by taking smallpox scabs, drying them out, grinding them to a powder, and then snorting them. Which doesn’t sound appetizing — but when the alternative is getting smallpox . . . I think I’d take the scabs.

The other has to do with the way Japan was almost completely closed to outsiders during the Tokugawa Era. Because of this, they had adapt to working with limited resources, which meant that most of the very limited arable land they have was devoted to farming, not livestock. But without livestock, they didn’t have animal manure to fertilize the fields; they had to use human waste instead (taking measures to minimize the risk of pathogens). So Tokugawa-period Japanese cities were quite sanitary, because urine and fecal matter were valuable resources; shopkeepers and the like owned the right to collect it in barrels, and when barges came into the cities loaded with crates of food, they went out again loaded with barrels of waste. Except that after a while the exchange rate broke down . . . because the waste was becoming more valuable per cubic foot than the food. In fact, it was so valuable that there started being a problem with people stealing it.

So there you go. Snorting scabs and stealing crap. The world is so, so full of weird things.

Todd Lockwood’s artwork for both the memoirs and turning darkness into light is beautiful, it instantly calls to mind the lithographs displayed at the Natural History museum. Would you ever consider a Lady Trent Guide to Dragons?

I would love to do one! People should instead be asking my publishers whether they’d consider it. 🙂 Side note: absolutely make sure you do this. I want this and a film/tv series that starts with the older Lady Trent sat at a desk writing and then goes into the action in the style of Granny Wendy’s story in Hook.

Do you have any favourite folklore or mythology tales? And if you could, which one would you do a retelling of?

I’ve actually done retellings of quite a few, or at least stories that riff on the sources in some fashion. I wouldn’t necessarily say those are my favorites, because what sparks a story isn’t how much I love a folktale or song; it’s whether I can find some angle or gap that gives me a way to do something new with it. One I do love, though, is the Scottish border ballad “Tam Lin” — I’ve got a retelling of that one that I’m trying to sell right now, though it’s unfortunately quite long, which limits the number of markets that will even let me send it to them.

Perfectly positioned between the Fantasy and RPG sections

As an RPG player, what was the most memorable campaign you’ve played or the most fun to write?

Aw, man — the first half of that is asking me to play favorites among my GMs!
I’ve honestly had so many great experiences of different kinds that choosing between them is a bit like apples and oranges. Several of the most memorable have worked their way into my fiction in one fashion or another; my novelette “False Colours” is based (with permission) on the most ridiculously serendipitous sequence of events that has ever occurred for me in a game, while the Varekai novellas grew out of a character I played for about four years in a Changeling LARP, and the Onyx Court series has its roots in the historical context for the first tabletop campaign I ever ran. And that’s only scratching the surface.

Can you tell us what’s next for Audrey or what you are working on now?

Audrey’s done for now; Turning Darkness Into Light is a standalone novel that resolves her personal arc. But since I thought I was done with Lady Trent’s world in general after the Memoirs, and then accidentally tripped and wrote another novel, I won’t rule it out entirely!

As for current projects, I have a novella connected to the Legend of the Five Rings game called The Eternal Knot coming out this fall, probably in September. And last year my friend Alyc Helms and I wrote an epic fantasy novel together, which we have just sold to Orbit Books; that’s the first book of the Rook and Rose trilogy, and we’ll be publishing it next year under the joint pen name of M.A. Carrick.

From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review (A Lady Trent Story) can be read at tor.com where it was first published, or as part of an ebook collection called Maps to Nowhere. Marie Brennan has also recently published a short for Uncanny magazine called On the Impurity of Dragons, written in the point of view of Lady Trent’s son

Be sure to check out my fellow tour guides blogs and see what they are up to.

The Bone Garden

Made of dust and bone and imagination, Irréelle fears she’s not quite real. Only the finest magical thread tethers her to life – and to Miss Vesper. But for all her efforts to please her cruel creator, the thread is unravelling. Irréelle is forgetful as she gathers bone dust. She is slow returning from the dark passages beneath the cemetery. Worst of all, she is unmindful of her crooked bones

When Irréelle makes one final, unforgivable mistake by destroying a frightful creature just brought to life, Miss Vesper threatens to imagine her away once and for all. Defying her creator for the very first time, Irréelle flees to the underside of the graveyard and embarks on an adventure to unearth the mysterious magic that breathes bones to life, even if it means she will return to dust and be no more

The Bone Garden

Heather Kassner’s debut The Bone Garden is utterly magical, beautiful and just deliciously dark and mysterious middle grade adventure.

Irrélle is the imperfect creation who wants to be loved and to be real. Miss Vesper is the cruel and demanding mistress who created her. With each task she is reprimanded for failing, each clumsy mistake, your heart breaks for Irréelle. In her quest to please Miss Vesper, she uncovers more than she expects and it makes her grow in ways she could never have imagined.

I throughly enjoyed The Bone Garden, as did Tiny Satan who has now re homed it to his own bookshelf where it feels right at home with Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book and Coraline. Heather Kassner has us hungry for more and it will come next year in the form of The Forest of Stars.

Heather Kassner’s author website, twitter, Instagram, and Facebook will keep you up to date with all sorts of events, information, and bookish beauty.

The Bone Garden was released in UK paperback on July 23rd and August 6th in US hardcover and is available in bookshops now. The US hardcover has illustrations by Matt Sanders both on the cover and inside. Julia Lloyd is responsible for the darker more gothic UK cover.

Bout of Books 26

It’s that time again, and though I am midway through the Magical Readathon doing my NEWTs, the boost of an intense week gets me focused.

Enter Bout of Books 26.

A week long readathon with twitter chat, twitter and instagram challenges, and prizes. Running Monday 19th – Sunday 25th August. bout of books is fun whether you keep up with everything, pop in occasionally, or just use it as a self motivator.

Do you need an excuse to read and talk to you bookish tribe?

Strange Ink

When washed-up journalist Harry Hendricks wakes up one morning with a hangover and a strange symbol tattooed on his neck, he shrugs it off as a bad night out. But soon more tattoos appear: grisly, violent images which come accompanied by horrific nightmares – so he begins to dig deeper. Harry’s search leads him to a sinister disappearance, torment from beyond the grave, and a web of corruption and violence tangled with his own past.

One way or another, he has to right the wrongs.

Strange Ink synopsis

I love tattoos. My love of body art is beyond reason. I have been in love with it for as long as I can remember. The first tattoo I ever saw was a scroll with my name under a skull on my dads arm. These days I am fairly tattooed myself. This all leads to me being a sucker for any story that centre on tattoos. Throw in supernatural thriller and I’m all yours. Or in this case all Gary Kemble’s.

Black edged beauty and cover design by Natasha McKenzie

Harry Hendricks is a talented journalist. However that talent lead to the him crossing powerful people before he even graduated, meaning the big papers passed him over. Harry has been working at local weekly Chermside Chronicle ever since. Now with his friends wedding in days, Bec, Harry’s girlfriend of 6 years breaks up with him and Haryy moves into a new place.

Amid the boxes and confusion Harry starts to have nightmares. Each nightmare brings with it pain and a new tattoo. At first he brushes it off as a drunken mistake, but as the dreams get more intense and detailed Harry knows he has to do something. Discovering that they aren’t nightmares but the memories of a missing SAS soldier Rob finds Harry in a world of trouble. Politics, corruption, drug smuggling, biker gangs, and a story with the potential to be bigger and more dangerous than his first big scoop.

This book was a masterpiece. It grabbed me by the throat from the first line and it just didn’t stop. Fast paced action, constant on the edge of your seat tension, perfectly flowing, Strange Ink is a just one more page, up all night type of read. And that’s exactly what happened. There isn’t anywhere you want to stop, you can’t put it down, you have to know what next. And what’s next? Dark Ink on October 8th.

Gary Kemble can be found here, and on twitter. Strange Ink is available to buy now and Dark Ink can be preordered from any bookseller. Thank you to Titan Books for providing me with a copy of Dark Ink, as always all opinions are my own.

Spin The Dawn

A gifted tailor in disguise. Three legendary dresses. The competition of a lifetime.
​On the fringes of the Great Spice Road, Maia Tamarin works as a seamstress in her father’s shop. She dreams of becoming the best tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well.
When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as his son and travels to the Summer Palace in his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to save her family and achieve her dream of becoming the imperial tailor. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job. Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the unwelcome attention of the court enchanter, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise. And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be: from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Synopsis for Spin The Dawn

Spin The Dawn is Book 1 of The Blood of The Stars series by Elizabeth Lim, and I have been looking forward to this book for the longest time. The longest. I preordered it the minute it was available to. When it arrived from Books of Wonder utterly stunning, accompanied by the most beautiful swag, character art and a pin, not to mention personalised and signed, I definitely had a little happy squeak.

But first, before we get into it, let’s talk about a misquote that has been used EVERYWHERE. That’s right. I want to talk about “Project Runway meets Mulan”. The original quote best match that I can find was this

“Part epic adventure, part fairy tale, and part Project Runway, SPIN THE DAWN is a thrilling tale as rich as velvet and as exquisite as fine embroidery.”

Heidi Heilig, author of The Girl from Everywhere

I’m not sure if it’s because the main character is a Chinese female or just a unwise choice in quote condensing, but Spin the Dawn is not part Mulan, nor does part epic adventure, part fairy tale equal Mulan. If Mulan is what you are after allow me to suggest Reflection, which is the Mulan retelling by Elizabeth Lim for Disney.

Back to our previously scheduled review. Maia Tamarin is the youngest of 4 children and the only daughter of a renowned tailor who struggles to hold his life together after the death of his wife. Maia is the one with the most skill as and desire to be a tailor. She has dreamed of becoming a sought after tailor, so she is the one to step up and continue his work, all the while acting as a mere seamstress. When her oldest 2 brothers are called to war, the younger brother follows, leaving Maia to manage the home and work hard to do so. Only the younger son returns.

When the war is won, a union is proposed. The Emperor Khanujin and the daughter of the opposing war lord, Lady Sarnai. Unfortunately the Imperial Tailor has passed on and a new one must be found to create the wardrobe and wedding dress for Lady Sarnai.

The tailor Tamarin is called upon to attend the palace where 12 tailors will sew wonders in order to obtain the position. As neither her father or brother can go, Maia pretends to be the young Master Tamarin and follow her dream.

I enjoyed the world, religion and mythology of A’landi. Maia’s initial dislike for Edan and her confusion at being flirted with by kitchen staff play perfectly with the intensity of the contest and the impossible final task of crafting the 3 dresses of legend and the deadly journey for materials. I look forward to 2020 when I can find out the results of Maia’s impressive actions, and the consequences of her actions.

Spin the Dawn is available through Knopf Books at Penguin and Unravel the Dusk is set for release next year. More information about Elizabeth Lim books and events can be found here, on twitter, Facebook, and instagram.

Into The Crooked Place.

Alexandra Christo’s Into The Crooked Place is the first book of the Into The Crooked Place duology. And it was one if the most lusted after arcs at YALC. If you have read To Kill A Kingdom you will know why. If you haven’t go read it, it’s fabulous.

Magic rules the city if Creije, and Tavia Syn knows just how many trucks she needs up her sleeve to survive. Selling dark magic on the streets for her kingpin, she keeps clear of other crooks, counting the days until her debt is paid and she can flee her criminal life.

But then, one day, with her freedom in sight, Tavia uncovers a sinister plot that threatens to destroy the realm she calls home. Desperate to put an end to her kingpin’s plan, Tavia forms an unlikely alliance with three crooks even more deadly than her:

Wesley, the kingpin’s prodigy and most renowned criminal in the realm.

Karam, an underground fighter with a penchant for killing first and forgetting to ask questions.

Saxony, a Crafter in hiding who will stop at nothing to avenge her family.

With the reluctant saviours assembled, they embark on a quest to put an end to the dark magic before it’s too late. But even if they can take down the kingpin and save the realm, the one thing they can’t do is trust each other.

Into The Crooked Place synopsis

I loved it! Fantasy, magic, crime lords and politics. The relationships between the main characters are just perfect.

Wesley and Tavia, both taken in by an underboss to Kingpin of Creije as homelss starving children. They became friends while they trained as buskers, selling magic and tricks. Wesley moves up to the position of underboss but still cares for his best busker Tavia, and will do anything to protect his town and his people.

Tavia just wants to free herself from her life debt and from Creije. To return to Volo and not owe anything to anyone.

Karam the fierce warrior woman of the Rekhu d’Rihsni, protectors of Crafters. She left her home and her family to learn her craft.

Saxony the mysterious beauty, employee of Wesley, friend to Tavia, Karam’s former love. And underground Crafter. Hiding from the kingpin, and those who would use her kind, in plain sight.

All have secrets and all have a reason to fight

I can not wait for book 2. Alexandra Christo creates a world, characters, and a story that draws you in deep and keeps you there. And there’s something for everyone, magic, crime, and murder. How do you resist? And the cover is stunning!

Into The Crooked Place is released October 8th 2019 through Hot Key Books and can be preordered wherever fine books are sold. If you can’t wait that long check out To Kill A Kingdom and revel in it’s magnificence.

Alexandra Christo’s website is here, where you can find links to twitter, instagram, pinterest, and Facebook, along with updates, events, and appearances.

Thank you to Hot Key Books for sending me a review copy. As always all opinions are my own.

Heartstream

HEARTSTREAM: THE APP THAT ALLOWS YOU TO FEEL EVERYTHING

Amy Beaker is a star. She’s used Heartstream to broadcast every moment of her mother’s illness. It’s the rawest reality TV imaginable, and it’s everywhere.

On the day of her mother’s funeral, she goes home to find a fan of hers in the kitchen. She’s rigged herself and the house with explosives- and she’s been waiting to talk to Amy for a long time.

Amy is about to discover just how far true obsession can go.

Heartstream synopsis

One of the selling points for me was the Black Mirroresque future technology and how it affects society and human interactions. With Black Mirror the story lines aren’t always real, but they are either possible or set up to introduce the technology that would enable the situation. They usually leave me thinking what would I do in this senario, how would I respond to it, how would I feel. Heartstream left me thinking why for a different reason.

Heartstream is told from two points of view. Which for me usually means they know each other or will at some point, so the back of my mind is waiting for the first clue as to how. Amy the stream celebrity who started to use the Heartstream app when she struggled to cope with her mothers illness. Now overwhelmed by her fans, some of whom follow her to the funeral, hundred of people in t-shirts with her art on them. People who want more from her, who claim her mother as belonging to them through the use of Heartstream and that feel a right to her pain. Cat the boy band fan, who with her friend Evie runs a Rick ship forum dedicated to the suspected relationship between Nick and Ryan. Except Cat knows it isn’t real. Because she is dating Ryan in secret after a chance meeting. She can’t tell Evie, because if Evie furiously attacks any non believers using her tech knowledge, what we she do to Cat to protect this dream?

Amy, oh Amy. She isn’t mourning the way she thinks she should. She’s overwhelmed by her stream celebrity. She hints at not feeling like she fit in with her family. We hear how she felt protective of her brother but there isn’t a concern for him when she gets out of the house, just the desire to protect her captor.

Cat and her friend Evie are part of a boy band ship fandom. Evie uses technology to hack, expose, and dox anyone who leaves the Rick ship or throws doubt on it. But she blackmails a doctor by email and doesn’t just hack into the system herself. When Cat tells her she’s pregnant, Evie tells her she had an abortion a couple of years ago cause she couldn’t imagine coping or wanting a child, yet she steals the baby from Cat, then blackmails the Dr to help with this and informs the father (Why? Telling him anything means another person who could expose her) so that she can keep this one. Cat/Evie’s child has never heard of the boy band, who her mother adored to the point of illegal obsession, despite them being a One Direction like phenomenon, before and after her birth, whose lead becomes a politician. Now I know the band my own mother skipped school to see in London and that was long before the internet and intensity that celebrities get now. Who sent a swat team to Cat’s house? Where they caught? Punished? And how in the name of Jobs didn’t Cat have a photo or two of the pair of them on her phone to leak, along with all the messages, when she realised Ryan wasn’t the person she thought he was? She could have destroyed him like Katie Price did Gareth Gates. And then there’s Dr Ben and Ryan, why do they go along with it rather than expose Evie with the emails and evidence?

I really don’t know where I land with Heartstream. It was a quick read, it made me want to find out more, to see if I was right. It just didn’t give me enough.