Cover Image: Are You Awake?

Are You Awake?

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Member Reviews

A good plot line that never graduated to great. Two sleep deprived neighbors bear witness to a crime, but cannot convince the police of what they saw. There are a few inconsistencies in the characters actions that were glaring enough to interrupt the story. I've read a few of Clare McGowan's back library and found them excellent thrillers so started this one anticipating another great read. While this is a GOOD book, it just doesn't seem to live up to Ms McGowan's previous books.

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Mary Collins is a mom of two under two on maternity leave from her job as a family lawyer. By her own account, she hasn’t really slept for two years, and she thinks of her husband, Jack, as little more than deadweight at the moment.

Tim Darbandi, is a senior foreign correspondent who’s on long-term leave from his paper while he recovers psychologically and physically from a Syrian bomb attack. He’s also really not slept in years.

One thing to know about these two, because it will be repeated incessantly for the first quarter of the book: They’re tired. Really, really, reeeally tired. It’s amazing that they can function at all, they’re so tired. Despite their unending tiredness, these neighbors both end up in a park near their homes at 4 AM peering up at a lit window of a home where they both believe they’ve seen a young woman, Samantha Ellis, recently reported missing in the news.

After getting skepticism and no help whatsoever from the police, these two barely functioning adults decide the best course of action is to amateur sleuth this thing in the most ill-advised ways possible that get them in trouble over and over again, because that's what intelligent adults do. 🤦‍♀️

In ‘Mum of the Year’ fashion, Mary occasionally brings her nursing three-month old son and her continually screaming two-year-old daughter who either speaks Caveman “HOT, MUMMY!” or beyond her years sentences “WHO IS THIS MAN, MUMMY?” along on her potentially dangerous snooping. When they aren’t with her, she’s shuffled them off to her friends to continue investigating the disappearance of a girl she doesn’t know with her neighbor she’s just met, while continually whining about her mom guilt.

Tim, on the other hand, seems like a fairly stand-up kind of guy when he’s not spying on his ex-wife, Alice. He means no harm. I guess he’s just checking up on her between his Sherlock Holmes adventures with Mary. It’s never really explained.

Despite my complaints, I did want to see how things wrapped up rather than DNF’ing it, so there was enough intrigue to keep me turning pages.

As for the characters? I liked Tim. That’s it. Unfortunately, he wasn’t enough to save this.

★★ ½

Thanks to Amazon Publishing UK, Thomas & Mercer, NetGalley and author Claire McGowan for the opportunity to review this honestly. It's now available.

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The atmosphere created by Claire McGowan in this, her latest novel, replicates the life of the chief protagonist, Mary. Mary hasn't had any proper sleep for what feels like forever, she is a mother to two young children and anyone who has been in her shoes will recognise the claustrophobia and resentment to the partner that the trials and tribulations that go alongside this magical time.

One night Mary and Tim, who can't sleep due to PTSD, see something in a house across the park. The pair combine their efforts to find out more and the unlikely duo turn into amateur sleuths.

This was a good plot with a great premise although perhaps reality had to be suspended more than I am usually happy with.

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Ever been so tired you can’t see straight? That you being to question what you are seeing? Is it real or is your mind playing tricks on you? Tim and Mary both have sleeping issues. Mary is a mother of two who never gets any sleep. Readers are told how often she is up in the night with her two children. She is bleary eyed and dog tired. Tim, a former war journalist, has PTSD which keeps him awake. Both are up in the night and see something through a window - something that doesn't look quite right. They both believe they are seeing an attack or some form of violence taking place in an abandoned building.

They inform the police but don't get far. Both believe that a missing woman may have been the victim in the incident they both witnessed. They decide to do their own detective work when they get nowhere with the police.

This was a hard one to rate. It's a book that I didn't dislike but I didn't particularly like either. Although readers are meant to feel for the two main characters as one struggles with PTSD and the other is a sleep deprived Mother with a husband who is clueless. I mean seriously, how did he not see how tired his wife was? But do we care for them? I didn't really connect with either. I can relate to being a sleep deprived mother but that was it.

There is a twist/reveal but after not caring for most of the book, I really didn't care. The premise was so intriguing and promising, and I really wanted to enjoy this one. I'll still read books by Claire McGowan in the future. This one just wasn't a winner for me.

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Fast solid read. A little unrealistic, but it's what I needed. It didn't stop me from enjoying the book. Starts off a little slow, but if you hang in there, you're in for a treat! After that start, the story moves quickly. I finished the book with a span of a couple of days. Started right before bed and wound up reading late into the night. There's a level of disbelief, but it doesn't take away from the story. Tried to figure out the story, but after letting go, it was a fun read. Thanks to NETGALLEY for providing a copy to read.

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So considering no one slept in this book, it was a very sleepy read.
I kept really wanting something exciting and gripping to happen, but it didn’t; it was very disappointing.
Mary and Tim decide to become amateur detectives when they think they see a missing girl in an abandoned house. Their suspicions are all based on not very much, and they put their lives in danger because they can’t sleep and are bored.
Mary wound me up with how she was with her children. She didn’t even sound like she wanted them, was the author hinting at PPD? If so, it was way too subtle and came across instead as Mary just moaning constantly. I have chosen not to have kids as I like my sleep, my time and everything that comes with not having kids. This is a choice; Mary chose to have not just 1 but 2 kids very close together in age. I just found her winding me up constantly!
The author had tried to make Tim interesting with his background in journalism and jet-setting around the world, but he too came across as boring. There was just nothing likeable about him; I found myself not even caring what had happened in his past to make him the recluse he is today.
As for the investigation, Mary and Tim weren’t very good at it, they just kept stumbling across situations, and it was frustrating that the police were doing nothing. As for the conclusion and what had happened to Samantha, this just fell flat and certainly wasn’t worth persevering with the book for.
So, overall, the book was unsatisfying, mediocre and just bored me. I have liked this author’s work in the past, but this one just didn’t do much for me, I’m afraid.

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Whoa!! This was definitely chilling. I felt the whiplash. Writing was on point, though I didn't feel like the story itself was very unique -- it was your run-of-the-mill thriller. However, there's nothing wrong with that. I will still recommend it to friends.

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Are You Awake by Claire McGowan is a mystery with plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader turning pages. Mary is a mum of two young children who hasn't had a full nights sleep in almost four years, and it is taking its toll on her marriage as well as her sanity. Awake once again in the early hours of the morning she meets another local with sleep struggles of his own, Tim was a journalist but following a traumatic assignment in the middle east which almost cost him his life he is suffering from PTSD and severe insomnia.. The unlikely duo are chatting casually when they notice the face of a young woman in the window of an unoccupied building on the street. She looks remarkably like a young woman who is all over the news following her disappearance on the way home from work a few days before. When the police are dismissive of their report, Mary and Tim decide to do some detecting of their own, but before long this gets them into trouble on multiple fronts.
This was an entertaining read, but not a very memorable one. The characters felt flat and unbelievable and I had to suspend my disbelief at some of their decisions and actions. I thought that some of the twists were very predictable and nothing really shocked or surprised me about the conclusion of the book.
I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.

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Mary hasn't slept for months & it feels like years, ever since she gave birth to her two children; Audrey, a smart but restless toddler & Leo, a few months old. As one falls asleep, the other wakes or they end up waking the other, & round & round it goes. One night she is looking out the window & sees what she thinks is 'violent movement' in an empty house over the way. Tim is a journalist who is currently out on sick leave following an earlier trauma. He can't sleep either due to PTSD, & he wanders the park in the early hours. He also sees someone in the upper window of the empty house & the following night, he returns to have a closer look & runs into Mary.

They talk & realise that the person they both saw looked like a local missing teenager, Samantha. Her family have been on the news recently begging for her safe return, & Tim & Mary fear she has been kidnapped & is being held in the empty house on Cliveden Road. The two of them report what they have seen to the police but nothing much comes of it, so they decide to continue their own investigation. For Mary it's a chance to have something for herself outside of motherhood, whilst for Tim, it's the first time he's been interesting in anything (apart from stalking his ex-wife) for a long time. Can they trust each other though, & given their respective issues, can they even trust themselves?

The two main characters are fairly likeable at first, but Tim is a bit of a wet lettuce whilst Mary flipflops between wanting to help & fear of getting involved. Mary is struggling but doesn't talk about it with her husband, but sits there seething instead. Mind you, don't even get me started on husband, Jack (as in Hit the Road if Mary's got any sense - she hasn't). Towards the end, hubby says "I didn't know you were struggling this much". Like dude, the woman can't go anywhere without two kids in tow whilst you go to work, then either come back & swan off out again or fake illness so you don't have to do your share of childcare! Your wife doesn't get to sleep whilst you snore in the next room. I don't know how she wasn't tempted to smother him with a pillow in his sleep, but I digress.

When Mary & Tim realise Samantha's disappearance could link to the disappearances of several other young women in the area over the years, things snowball. It's the usual case of amateur detectives somehow being able to outwit the police & get witnesses to talk, for example, the person they initially think is behind Sam's disappearance conveniently has a 'Road to Damascus' conversion & spills everything. The plot was okay but stretches credulity in some parts, it was interesting though & it mostly kept my attention. 3 stars

Thanks to NetGalley & publishers, Thomas & Mercer, for the opportunity to read an ARC.

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For someone who struggles to sleep, books with titles like Are you Awake will always jump out at me, this novel was a bit improbable, Mary a mother of two demanding children is awake when she sees what looks like a woman being attacked in a house that is run down and being renovated, she teams up with a neighbour who has his own demons and sleepless nights to discover the truth behind what they have both witnessed.
Claire McGowan always writes a good story but I can’t say this one grabbed me it was okay but it’s not dramatic and some of the plot you have to question but it’s an okay read.

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Are You Awake? is a cracking thriller, with an emotional edge. It starts off slow, with the narratives following Tim and Mary, two strangers who both think they see something untoward out of their windows late at night. Tim is a journalist on sick leave but still keeping his ear to the ground, and Mary is a frustrated mum on maternity leave. Their thirst for answers leads them off on a path of investigation, but cosy crime this is not. There are no easy clues or suspects presenting themselves. In fact, more often than not, it's Tim and Mary that find themselves in trouble.

We find out a lot about Mary and Tim's characters and back stories too, and they're not exactly wholesome amateur sleuths. I loved this side of the story, it elevates it from a standard whodunnit to much more of a psychological thriller.

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Mary and Tim both can't sleep for different reasons. After meeting in a park and witnessing an attack together, they feel bonded and both want to find out the reason why this attack happened.

I just couldn't get into the characters here. The writing wasn't what I normally get out of this author's books.

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I feel like this had promise going into it. I’ve loved the author before, started off with an intriguing plot line, and then my interest sort of fizzled.

Your basic overview is: Mary and Tim both can’t sleep. Mary and Tim are neighbors who think they saw a girl being attacked. A girl goes missing. Mary and Tim meet and join forces to try to figure out what has happened. This is the intriguing and interesting part of the book.

As I read on though, some things really got to me. Mary is supposedly an attorney, but she asks the simplest questions about crime and evidence. Also, Mary’s husband is actually kind of the worst and I just could not stand reading about how terribly unhelpful he was. I actually wanted to slap the man through the book. What a dud.

I will say I do think the exciting part of the plot kind of fizzled after the exposition. There was just so much back and forth with nothing really going on.

I will say, I really liked the ending though. So it might be worth your trouble if you don’t pull your hair out.

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Mary hasn't slept in what seems like years. Her two children never let her rest, so one exhausting night, in the middle of a London heatwave, she escapes to a nearby park for some air. Tim can't sleep. It doesn't feel safe after the terrible thing that happened to him. Seeking solace outside, he encounters a sleepless Mary in the park. There, the two strangers witness what looks like a violent attack in the window of a neighbouring house. Shocked at what they seen, Tim and Mary form an unlikely bond, desperate to find clues.

Mary is a lawyer on maternity leave. Tim is a disgraced reporter. They both suffer with sleep deprivation'. They met in a park in the middle of the night where they both witness a violent attack through a window of a neighbouring house. But neither of them os entirely sure of what they saw. The pace is slow throughout. The characters weren't interesting, and I felt there was something lacking that I couldn't quite put my finger on. The story is told from Tim and Mary's perspectives with occasional point of view from missing girl, Samantha. There's plenty of twists and red herrings. The plotline is a bit unrealistic, but it has some funny moments.

I would like to thank #NetGalley #AmazonPublishing #ThomasMercer and the author #ClaireMaGowan for my ARC of #AreYouAwake in exchange for an honest review.

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A mom of two, who has barely slept in three years and a man traumatized by his past, who also barley sleeps both see something suspicious across the park in the middle of the night. It appears to be someone fighting or being attacked in a window of one of the houses. When the two meet, they end up discussing what they saw and try to solve what happened by themselves.

Two amateur investigators are the case of what could be the local young woman who has gone missing.

The characters are real and flawed people. Yes they each have problems of their own, but you can't help but like them for what they are trying to do.

A little predictable at times. Reads like a made for TV movie.

Thanks to netgalley and Amazon Publishing UK for the arc

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This is a very interesting psychological thriller. I had read one book by this author before, so I generally knew what to expect. And I was not disappointed.

Two people living in a London suburb cannot sleep at night. Mary is a young mother whose two children won't let her close her eyes for even a few hours. Tim is a former journalist struggling with a serious case of PTSD. One night, these two see something in the empty house next door that really bothers them. Soon they are convinced that they have seen Samantha - a young girl who disappeared in the area not so long ago. Mary and Tim try to help the missing girl at all costs.

I really liked the very idea for the story. Two strangers, very different people, are connected by efforts to save a young girl, creating unlikely allies. Mary's struggles with motherhood and Tim's problems with coping with his past provided an excellent background for this story. And the main mystery is also really good. The author gives us some really nice twists, some of them I did not expect. The author also managed to build a really suitable atmosphere of the stuffy suburbs of London during the heatwave where everything is possible.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a good time with an interesting story. This is my second book by this author and I will definitely reach for another.

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Set in the depths of London, Are You Awake? is a book drenched in atmosphere, suspense and deceptions. The insomniac angle is a fascinating one which I understand too well. The first half of the book is anxiety-inducingly slow in such the best possible way and gets snappy the last half. It is told mostly from the perspectives of Mary and Tim but also occasionally by a third.

Mary is a married mum of two wee ones who is desperate to sleep. She is also a lawyer which in this story is almost irrelevant. One tormented sleepless night up with her babies she looks out the window and questions what she it her insomnia-induced state or did she really see something? Meanwhile, Tim is awake but for different reasons. His terrible past prevents him from falling asleep. But on that same fateful night he, too, sees something from his window. The two meet one night and make a decision to investigate. Is there a link to the missing neighbourhood girl? The pasts become the present as other characters appear. And there is reason to question each of them.

Though Mary's occupation as a lawyer isn't convincing enough to add depth, it did not really matter to me as the story is super good. If you seek a clever and atmospheric thriller to curl up with, make it this one.

My sincere thank you to Amazon Publishing UK and NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC of this taut and claustrophobic book.

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This was an enjoyable read.
It started out slow for me and it kinda made me want to stop reading after the first 30% in but I kept going and I’m glad I have.
There are some interesting characters and many twists. Some very predictable and some very unexpected.
The ending was satisfying for me and I think I’ll be reading more by the author in the future.
Perdido any domestic thrillers lovers.

Very grateful to the publisher for my review copy through NetGalley

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The synopsis for this one pulled me in, but sadly the story seemed to drag on and didn’t really hit the mark for me.

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'Decent Thriller'

Mary and Tim are neighbours who get caught up in finding a missing girl, Samantha. They both see something in a house across the park, that pretty much seem like violence.

Mary is a mother of two and Tim is a journalist on a break. This incident makes them both curious and they work with each other to solve the case, when police ignores their calls about them seeing someone in an empty house with over-security protocols.

This is a decent thriller. Held my curiosity from the start. Plot is good. Character development is good. Author also added about the struggles of raising babies, insomnia,loss and guilt.

It would be nice if some more scenes are added for Samantha. Overall, it is fine. A page-turner and enjoyable.

Thank you @netgalley and the publisher for the Arc.

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