Deadly Secrets by OMJ Ryan

I am absolutely thrilled to be part of the Deadly Secrets book tour! Thank you so much to Emma Welton of Damppebbles blog tours for letting me be a part of this. Although this review of Deadly Secrets is as part of the tour the thoughts are my own. 

Synopsis

Millionaire Marty Michaels had the perfect life — until he found a dead girl in his bathroom.

For twenty years, superstar radio host Marty Michaels has used his vast fame and power to make or break the careers of celebrities and politicians.

But Marty discovers that power comes at a price when he wakes in a strange hotel room and finds a murdered girl in the bathroom. He’s been setup. Someone wants to destroy him.

Desperate to clear his name, Marty is propelled into a dark world of danger, corruption and depravity, and with the media world he once ruled now baying for his blood — the hunter has become the hunted.

Not knowing who to trust, or where to turn, Marty fights alone against a powerful criminal network as he tries to save his reputation, his job…and his life.

My review of Deadly Secrets

This is a very fast paced book focusing on the famous Radio DJ Marty, famed for his ability run trials by media on his show. Suddenly his world comes crashing down around him and his life’s work is only making his fall from grace harder.

I enjoyed this book thoroughly. At all times the book kept me guessing, when I was correct the plot point turned out to be minor and I completely didn’t see the bigger ones coming. Some points it was like you were Marty, not knowing who to trust and where to go, it certainly kept me on my toes.

Deadly Secrets in set in Manchester which I have spent a great deal of my time so hearing about familiar streets made the story feel so real. Ryan used a mixture of real and fictional places for the story, this didn’t change the impact of the plot.

Ryan included a real depth to the characters, including the lead, Marty. This didn’t mean that I particularly liked the characters. I found Marty to be very self centered, demanding and entitled but I think that this helped develop the character arc.  

If you like a good, fast paced crime book I think this is the one for you. Especially if you have links to Manchester, it really does make the story come to life. I will be definitely recommending this one.

About OMJ Ryan:

Hailing from Yorkshire, OMJ Ryan worked in radio and entertainment for over twenty years, collaborating with household names and accumulating a host of international writing and radio awards. In 2018 he followed his passion to become a full-time novelist, writing stories for people who devour exciting, fast-paced thrillers by the pool, on their commute – or those rare moments of downtime before bed. Owen’s mission is to entertain from the first page to the last.

 

Social Media: Twitter: https://twitter.com/OMJRYAN1 @OMJRYAN1 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OMJ-Ryan-2449880305025779/ Website: https://www.omjryan.comInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/omjryan/

 

Purchase Links: Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deadly-Secrets-gripping-crime-thriller-ebook/dp/B07R766J9L/ref=sr_1_1?qid=1556530739&refinements=p_27%3AOMJ+Ryan&s=digital-text&sr=1-1&text=OMJ+Ryan Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Deadly-Secrets-gripping-crime-thriller-ebook/dp/B07R766J9L/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=deadly+secrets+OMJ+ryan&qid=1556530793&s=gateway&sr=8-1-spell 

 

Please let me know if you have read it and what your favourite crime book is!

I was sent Deadly Secrets to review as part of the book tour, my comments are my own.  

The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary – Review

I was lucky enough to be given this book by Hannah from Quercus Books, this has not changed my opinion of the book and I was sent this book for an honest review. I had heard so much about this book and it sounded like I could relate to the story in so many different ways. I couldn’t put this book down, I had to stay up reading because I needed to know what happend, and I’ve not done this since the Harry Potter books!

The Flat Share is Beth O’Leary’s debut novel, written on her commute to work. The starting plot is about a flat/bed share where you never see the other person who lives there. O’Leary experienced a version of this when her and her boyfriend moved in together but worked opposite shift patterns.

Synopsis

Tiffy and Leon share a flat

Tiffy and Leon share a bed

Tiffy and Leon have never met…

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

My review of The Flat Share

How is this O’Leary’s debut? The story is incredible. I have experienced the joy of trying to find a half decent flat/house-share that is not insanely priced, and I’m in the North where it is cheaper. I have also experienced some of the other themes in this book such as gaslighting. Even with some of the negative themes in the book, such as family members being in prison, obsessive exes and Leon being a palliative care nurse, the plot still remains uplifting. In an odd way, Tiffy’s character gave me hope that there is a life outside of negative relationships and headspaces, and that with the support of friends and therapy you can get through it.

O’Leary’s way of writing characters blew me away, the attention for the secondary characters like Richie, Mo and Gerty makes the story believable and ensured that I couldn’t put the book down. You learn about the positives and negatives of each of these characters in a way which makes them so real and relatable such as Mo’s ability to somehow know exactly what Tiffy is thinking and how much it annoys her.

The attention to detail O’Leary writes about builds the flat to life. It’s incredibly easy to visualise every small detail, and this is part of the reason that I found the book so compelling.

The audiobook for The Flat Share is narrated by Carrie Hope Fletcher and Kwaku Fortune who sound exactly how I thought Tiffy and Leon would sound when I was reading the physical book which made me fall in love with it more.

I am so excited to see the next thing from O’Leary! With The Flat Share being her debut it makes me wonder what she will write next.

Self-care tips

Here are my self-care tips/ what I try to when I’m having a bad or an off day. Obviously, when it comes to self-care it is very personal and what works for one person may not work for another.

Books in all forms

I think books are my favourite form of self-care, it allows me time away from my head! I make sure I have the Kindle App on every device I have so I’m never too far from a book.

Kindle also have an online reading link so you don’t have to download any applications. This is really useful at work.

Audible – I spend most of my time with my headphones on. I live in a block of flats, as you can imagine the walls are not the thickest, so on they go.

I really like audiobooks, I started with the Harry Potter books read by Stephen Fry. It’s soothing and very familiar; this really helps me when I’m feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Matt Haig is another go-to, both his non-fiction books: Notes From a Nervous Planet and Reasons To Stay Alive are incredible for when you are feeling bad. They also help me remember that I am not alone, and not the only one that feels like this.

My most recent reads on audiobook are:

  • Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
  • Harry Potter – they are on rotation most of the time!
  • Becoming – Michelle Obama
  • To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (trilogy) – Jenny Han

Podcasts

I am as obsessed with podcasts as I am with audiobooks for mostly the same reasons. I like how podcasts do not require as much focus compared to an audiobook and you can be doing other things whilst there on.

My top podcasts:

I have written more about this in an earlier post, you can find it here

Apps

Some of my favourite apps to help with self-care are:

Forest At £1.99 for IOS, it is really not bad. This app allows you to grow a virtual tree and collect tokens, which you can eventually trade in to plant a real tree in a place that needs it!

In Forest, you set a timer for a period of time, the aim being to focus on something other than your phone. If the exit the app, a notification appears to say remind you that the tree will die if you don’t go back to the app. This is actually weirdly motivating as you can see the dead tree in your forest area.

Headspace – This is a guided meditation app but as well as guided meditation sessions, it has “Sleepcasts” and they are incredible- to the point where I have never got to the end of one because I always fall asleep! I need to explore the app further and experience the meditations, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.

 

Hot drinks

My go to is a loose leaf tea an hour or so before bed, currently I’m loving Jasmine Huang Shan Ya and White Peony from Leaf. But if I’m feeling overwhelmed I will just make a standard brew. As you can probably work out my favourite teas are from Leaf and I love going to their flagship store on Bold Street in Liverpool.

Bedding  

A small thing, but fresh bedding encourages me to have an early night. I love sweet patterned bedding and I was obsessed with Urban Outfitters range. This was until ASDA upped their game, and now have the cutest ranges!

Hair, body and facial

When I’m feeling really bad, even if I’m not planning on going anywhere I will make sure I shower and sometimes put a face mask on.

My self-care routine is not complete without something from Lush. My current skincare contains; Angels on Bare Skin, Mask of Magnaminty,  Cup O’Coffee, Tea Totaler and Full of Grace. Occasionally Lush’s fresh facemask, Don’t Look At Me makes an appearance. Normally I would use either Angels on Bare Skin; Mask of Magnaminty or Cup O’Coffee and then follow up with Tea Totaler and Full of Grace as a moisturiser – I have found I don’t need to use a primer after this too, which is a plus!

For my hair I use:

Maria Nila Head & Heal Shampoo & Conditioner and sometimes Lush’s Jasmine and Henna Fluff-Ease as a pre-wash mash!

https://uk.lush.com/products/jasmine-and-henna-fluff-ease

My Favorite Podcasts are…

I absolutely adore Podcasts. I listen to them everywhere and they really help on those days where you just want something small, light and fluffy! I mainly listen to podcasts on my headphones when I’m walking or doing tasks around my flat, sometimes I actually choose them over a movie. I currently use the Apple Podcast App and Spotify to listen to the following, but there are so many different podcast apps out there!

All Killa No Filla https://allkillanofilla.libsyn.com/

All Killa No Filla

My ultimate fave podcast has got to be All Killa No Filla with Kiri Prichard-Mclean and Rachel Fairburn. Those girls can make me cry laughing. They (respectfully) talk about serial killers past and present, and the amount of research they do is unbelievable. They break up the hard-hitting discussion with lighter topics and jokes- which are actually my favourite bit.

Here’s a list of my other top podcast recommendations:

Off Menu Podcast https://www.offmenupodcast.co.uk/


This is Ed Gamble and James Acaster’s podcast, it’s as weird and wonderful as you would expect. Ed and James ask their guests (often fellow comedians) to talk about their dream meal and explain their choices. There is always a hilarious anecdote for the pair to comment on.

Griefcast with Cariad Lloyd https://play.acast.com/s/griefcast

Cariad and her guests talk about a loved one they have lost, it is heartful and sad but hearing about past experiences is both interesting and inspiring.

Kermode on Film
https://play.acast.com/s/kermodeonfilm

In his podcast, Mark Kermode talks about new and upcoming films as well as his personal favourites. I love the episodes where Mark Kermode and Jack Howard talk (read: argue) about a film; the passion is amazing.

David Tennant Does a Podcast With..
https://play.acast.com/s/davidtennant

I could listen to David talk all day and hearing him interview some of his close friends like Olivia Colman is a joy to hear; it feels like you have an in on the conversation.

No Such Thing As A Fish
https://www.nosuchthingasafish.com/

The QI Elves have a podcast and it’s exactly what you might expect! I love it because it’s funny, odd and clever. The group consists of: Dan, James, Anna and Andy and they talk about the favourite facts that they have found from the past 7 days and comment on each other’s facts.

Sappenin’ Podcast with Sean Smith
https://play.acast.com/s/sappenin

Sean Smith was my Scene Kid crush and still probably is! I still love The Blackout, the band he fronted and have seen them a few times. In his podcast, he interviews other bands and talks about music, recent guests including Charlie Simpson from Busted and Fightstar and Deaf Havana’s James and Tom.

The Tip Off
https://play.acast.com/s/thetipoff

The Tip Off Podcast

The podcast looks at investigative journalism how a story starts and the work that goes into some of the biggest finds and stories. I find this level of journalism so interesting and I love the perspective it gives.

I most definitely have missed some out and there is no doubt I will discover a new favourite at some point soon so I may need to do a part 2! Let me know if you love podcasts and what your favourite ones are.

Northern Young Adult Literature Festival


The NYALitFest 2019 was held at UCLan last Saturday and it was incredible! I knew it was going to be good as I’d been to the last one and I discovered some of my favourite authors there.

The Harrington Social Space was absolutely buzzing at 9 am on a really grim day, and the stalls were packed with books, literary merch and bookish gifts. To be honest, I was mainly looking at the publishers’ stalls with the hope of getting my hands on a proof copy or two! Here in the North, we don’t really have many (any) book festivals like this so getting hold of a proof copy of pretty much anything is a huge bonus.  

YA Thriller

The first panel was YA Thrillers, chaired by Caroline Carpenter and on the panel were Will Hill and M.A. Bennett. I don’t really read YA thrillers, which thinking about it doesn’t make much sense considering my love for true crime. But hearing both Hill and Bennet speak about their books and their writing process made me excited to give this genre a go: as a reader and maybe even as a writer!

Bennett spoke about her writing process by describing it as unscientific- “winging it” -but also creating a chapter plan and following it, ensuring that the story remains organic. Sounded like a great way to keep on track without stifling creative flow!

While talking about one of his works, After the Fire, Hill discussed his worry about making sure the book was factually accurate, the book centres around what happens after trauma and the psychiatry involved.

Feminist Fantasy panel

Next, I went to the Feminist Fantasy panel which featured Melinda Salisbury, Samantha Shannon, Laure Eve & Rose Edwards. There was a lot of exciting discussions here, and it could have continued for hours without any of us getting bored!

First, the authors were asked whether or not they specifically set out to write feminist fiction. Short answer: No. Eve said that she sets out to write interesting female characters that don’t always stick by society’s roles. She also points out that the female characters are not necessarily nice or morally outstanding.

Shannon stated that a criticism she often faces is the presence of noble characters who are women, people of colour or anyone representing LGBTQ+. She pointed out that this complaint is ridiculous, given that the existence of fantasy creatures such as dragons in her books doesn’t get any obvious reaction.

The panel went on to talk about the Bechdel Test, the updated test and how it relates to their favourite films. This is described at https://bechdeltest.com/:

The Bechdel Test, sometimes called the Mo Movie Measure or Bechdel Rule is a simple test of female representation which names the following three criteria: (1) it has to have at least two women in it, who (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man. The test was popularized by Alison Bechdel’s comic Dykes to Watch Out For, in a 1985 strip called The Rule.

Eve commented that she does still watch some films that do fail the test but is more mindful of them. I have been aware of this test for some time and I do find it funny to watch and read with this test in mind, but, I don’t actively avoid material that I know won’t pass the test.

The panel discussed relationships, and how many don’t see platonic friendships as relationships even though they can be as hard, if not harder when they go wrong. They discussed that as a teenager you long for romantic relationships but in reality, you desire what you already have with close friends: trips to the cinema, meals out, closeness. With this I found that the longing doesn’t just happen in adolescents it happens throughout; this can be caused by the media and society portraying romantic relationships as some kind of goal which needs to be achieved for a happy fulfilled life. This part of the discussion really resonated with me as I had never thought about how society and media controlled this thought process was.

Shannon and Eve spoke about the issue they have when writing; ‘getting it wrong’. Eve noted that no matter what they say not everyone will agree. Shannon stated that this can be the case when writing about sensitive topics such as sexual assault. Salisbury used this to point out that the only time that women are described as strong is when something bad has happened to them.

I found this panel to be incredible, I have not been able to write about everything that was talked about as I was engrossed. All four authors spoke with such passion and this made me so excited to read more of their work.

Following this panel, I went to the Ask an Agent event, but worrying about the word count of this post, it will be in a separate entry!

Shame-Less in YA

On this panel were Katherine Webber, Melvin Burgess, Laura Steven and Tamsin Winter. I was so excited to see Laura Steven back at the NYA Lit Fest, I had been introduced to her at last year’s event and been so excited to read her debut: The Exact Opposite of Okay.

Webber defined shaming as an act of bullying and asked the panel what drew them to the subject. Steven spoke about her past experiences of bullying and how she wanted to write about and develop a character that fought back; this being the reverse of her own experiences.

The panel looked at the links between technology and shame, how people can be bullied 24/7 with social media. However, Steven stated she does not blame technology for bullying saying that anything that can impact a human, for good or bad, is the person themselves not social media or other technologies. Adding to this, Steven does see social media has a positive with the ability to help causes and to make people feel less alone as it can build communities.

Winter believes that shame cuts deeper as an emotion as people are made to feel ashamed about things that are part of who they are. For example, sexuality and anxiety. Winter went on to be thankful that she did got have Facebook when growing up and being in high school. Webber added that internet culture has magnified the idea of shame.

Going back to the idea of shame, Burgess stated that you can’t forgive yourself until your victims have forgiven you. Winter spoke about how shame can be a power for those who shame others.

Book recommendations:

Laura Steven: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed – Jon Ronson

Mental Health in YA

The Mental Health in YA panel was formed of: Lisa Williamson, Alice Broadway, Sara Barnard, Akemi Dawn Bowman & Alexandra Sheppard.

Sheppard spoke about how she did not set out to write about mental health but, she advised, when writing you need something negative to make a story “pop”.

Broadway said she found the truths you let other people see and those you keep to yourself interesting. Whilst she was speaking about this, I was thinking about social media- and specifically Instagram- where most people only show the best bits of their lives.

The panel talked about the increased amount of books that covered mental health was a real positive. Going further to say that having a book that looks at a person with a family member who has a mental health issue does help situations as books can be passed on to explain what life is like with a mental health illness.

The next question was ‘How important is showing the “ugly” side of mental health?

Barnard believes it to be really important as the ugly side is the reality and it is not fun, unlike its representation in popular culture. She said that authors need to be careful with the representation of mental health as there is a duty of care to readers. The panel advises that writers need to be careful of how they approach fixating and spiralling, but there also needs to be a two-way trust that it is sent and received in good faith.  I agree with this as a lot of the media I read or watched growing up portrayed mental health, particularly anxiety as a cute illness that just meant you were sometimes worried and a bit shy. I experience panic attacks quite a bit and they are definitely not cute!

The Mental Health in YA’s tips on staying sane as an author:

Alexandra Sheppard:

  • Be easy on yourself
  • Know when to stop
  • Listen to yourself
  • Learn the difference between procrastinating and being tired

Alice Broadway:

  • Anti-depressants and counselling where necessary, and keeping up with your own basic needs
  • Being aware when you are “in your head”
  • 5 minutes a day sitting outside with a cup of tea
  • Self-kindness and compassion
  • Taking mental health seriously

Akemi Dawn Bowman:

  • Self-care
  • Social media breaks
  • Focusing on what made you love writing
  • Learning how to keep centred and keep out the noise
  • Taking breaks if you are writing anything triggering
  • Learning when to step away from your writing

Lisa Williamson:

  • Work in a co-working space/ office, this allows her to figuratively clock in and out
  • Don’t work from home

Sara Barnard:

Admits that she doesn’t have this mastered yet as she is bad at knowing when to stop and uses the same device as she uses to access Twitter so can be distracted.

As someone who suffers from anxiety and depression, I found this panel so useful. Not only because it proves that people with the same illness can go on to be extremely successful in their field, but also because they too sometimes have the bad days. I am currently working on what I do and how I work self-care into my everyday life and are hoping to make a blog post about this later. So hearing the authors include this into their lives makes me feel like I am on the right track.

Book recommendations

Books that look at mental health:

Alexandra Sheppard: On The Come Up – Angie Thomas

Sara Barnard: Starfish – Akemi Dawn Bowman

Akemi Dawn Bowman: A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard

Stormkeepers – Cathrine Doyle

After this panel I got my book signed by Alice Broadway and had a lovely chat with her about my Book Group. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and being surrounded by people who shared a love for books! I was able to speak to a few of the lovely Northern Bloggers and got a haul of bought and (free!) proof books which I’m excited to tell you about – but in another post, because this one is huge already!    

I huge well done to Hazel, Debbie and UCLan Publishing for hosting this and letting the Book Group sit at the front! I am so very excited for next year already.