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Handwritten Girl’s Top 12 Books of 2022

Handwritten Girl’s Top 12 Books of 2022

It was initially meant to be my top 10 books of the year but I really struggled as we were treated to some fantastic books, so here’s my top 12 books of 2022!

The list is a combination of debuts and the return of some of my favourite authors, including Marian Keyes and Louise O’Neill. There’s something for everyone – comedy, drama, crime and psychology thrillers.

If you’re looking for some book inspiration for yourself or some Christmas gifts, hopefully this list will help you out.

1. ‘Meredith, Alone’ by Claire Alexander.
2. ‘Love and Other Human Errors’ by Bethany Clift.
3. ‘A Tidy Ending’ by Joanna Cannon.
4. ‘Wahala’ by Nikki May.
5. ‘The Vanishing Of Margaret Small’ by Neil Alexander.
6. ‘So Happy For You’ by Celia Laskey.
7. ‘Idol’ by Louise O’Neill.
8. ‘Mad About You’ by Mhairi McFarlane.
9. ‘The Dead Romantics’ by Ashley Poston.
10. ‘The Hive’ by Scarlett Brade.
11. ‘Again, Rachel’ by Marian Keyes.
12. ‘One Of The Girls’ by Lucy Clarke.

Meredith, Alone By Claire Alexander

Meredith, Alone’Meredith, Alone’ is the debut novel by Claire Alexander.

Meredith Maggs hasn’t left her house in 1,214 days. But she insists she isn’t alone. She has her cat, Fred. Her friend Sadie visits when she can. There’s her online support group, StrengthInNumbers. She has her jigsaws, favourite recipes, her beloved Emily Dickinson, the internet, the Tesco delivery man and her treacherous memories for company. But something’s about to change. First, new friends Tom and Celeste burst into her life. Then an estranged sister she hasn’t spoken to in years.
Suddenly her carefully curated home is no longer a safe place to hide. Whether Meredith likes it or not, the world is coming to her door.

This book is one of the most beautiful debuts I’ve read and will certainly be featuring in my top 10 books of 2022.

The story is seen through the narrative of Meredith who after a terrible incident doesn’t leave the house. With home deliveries and the ability to work from home, she’s content with her life with her best friend Sadie and her ginger cat Fred. But one day Tom McDermott from Holding Hands befriending charity enters her life and between him and her online friend Celeste, she starts to think of life beyond her front door. But to step beyond her threshold, Meredith has to face up to her past and make amends.

The story is written in the past and present tense. The past present features Meredith as a child with her older sister Fiona who live with their mother. A cold and hard faced character who’s bitter after since the girls’ father left. She’s a complex woman and it was unsettling in parts as she had such a split personality and the girls were always on eggshells as they never knew what mood she’d be in. The past tense to the story really sets the scene to how Meredith came to staying indoors.

The story is set in Glasgow, a city I’ve visited and the author has beautifully described the streets and landscape of the city painting a vivid description. Her writing is stunning in parts and so picturesque from the four walls of Meredith’s house to the anxiety of confronting her fears. Other supporting characters such as Sadie, who’s Meredith’s best friend is a bright and vibrant character who adds a splash of colour to Meredith’s small world, whilst Meredith herself is an admirable woman, who finds comfort in jigsaws and cooking. Her life has been far from perfect, but she’s a strong, empowering woman and I fell in love with her witty personality from the first page.

This book is an absolutely gorgeous and heartwarming story that was impossible to put down. With short chapters, it was a delight to consume and with complex, relatable and fun characters, ‘Meredith, Alone’ is an inspirational story of resilience, new beginnings and friendship.

You can buy ‘Meredith, Alone’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Case Files: Collected Short Crime Stories Vol. 1 By Rachel Amphlett

Case Files: Collected Short Crime Stories Vol. 1‘Case Files: Collected Short Crime Stories Vol. 1’ is the latest book by Rachel Amphlett.

This page-turning collection features ‘The Man Cave’, in which Darren regains consciousness in a dank basement where escape turns out to be the least of his worries; in ‘All Night Long’ Zoe soon wishes she wasn’t working the late shift; and in ‘Nowhere to Run’ a rookie detective encounters her first serial killer… but will she survive?

If you enjoy thrillers but don’t have the time to read a full novel, then I’d thoroughly recommend this collection of short stories, perfect for people short on time.

The stories are thrillingly written packed with fast paced plot lines, flawed and relatable characters all with secrets and drama that they’ll go to any length to keep hidden. There are 12 stories to enjoy, some considerably shorter than others and some that you really could sink your teeth into!

I particularly enjoyed ‘The Reckoning’ about a mysterious newcomer to a nursing home and ‘Nowhere To Run’ which is a Detective Kay Hunter short story, about a night time killer targeting young women out running.

Witty, dark and creepy, ‘Case Files’ gives an interesting insight into police procedures as well as the narratives from the good and bad guys. I’ll definitely be looking into Volume 2!

You can buy ‘Case Files: Collected Short Crime Stories Vol. 1’ from Amazon.

Homecoming By Isabel Ashdown

Homecoming‘Homecoming’ is the latest book by Isabel Ashdown.

Welcome to The Starlings… sun, sea and neighbours to die for. Security, a sparkling sea view and the best kind of neighbours – The Starlings gated community has it all. Here, doors are left open, children run free, and at the heart of it all is the entrepreneurial Gold Family, who first dreamed up this aspirational vision of ‘Dorset’s Safest Community’. To the outside world the popular family appears glitteringly blessed… until an idyllic party takes a dark turn and one of their number is found slumped at the foot of the clocktower. Who knows what really happened? And what answers are harboured within the old building, the former Highcap Mother and Baby Home?

The latest book by Isabel Ashdown is a character driven thriller packed with secrets and lies that made for gripping reading.

Set in The Starlings, it was once a mother and baby home but Katrin has bought the land and made a lovely development for homeowners. Born in the Starlings home herself, Katrin hopes to make the development a happier place and when Ginny moves in, an older woman they become close friends.

The story is seen through the narrative of Katrin, Ginny and Frida who is Katrin’s niece. All three are going through difficult times and keeping secrets and as the story progresses and we delve into their backgrounds of the mother and baby homes and in Frida who’s dealing with being dropped by her best friends and suspended from school.

The different perspectives of the story add such an element of mystery to plot as everyone has something to hide. The story is wonderfully descriptive from the vivid descriptions of the harsh treatment at the mother and baby home to the beautiful descriptions of The Starlings and its majestic clock tower.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, it had just the right amount of character and plot development that really pulled me in. The characters are relatable and engaging and their dramas really hooked my attention.

Twisty and compelling from the start, ‘Homecoming’ is a story of deceit, drama and finding yourself along the way.

You can buy ‘Homecoming’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Vanishing Of Margaret Small By Neil Alexander

The Vanishing Of Margaret Small‘The Vanishing Of Margaret Small’ is the latest book by Neil Alexander.

Meet Margaret Small: 75, plain spoken, Whitstable native and a Cilla Black super fan. Shortly after the death of her idol, Margaret begins receiving sums of money in the post, signed simply ‘C’. She is convinced it must be Cilla, but how can it be? To solve the mystery of her benefactor Margaret must go back in her memories almost 70 years, to the time when she was ‘vanished’ to a long-stay institution for children with learning disabilities.

This story is one of the most beautifully written stories that I’ve read this year, with a clever and sensitive storyline and a leading lady that you desperately wanted to get her happy ever after.

The story is written in the past and present tense of Margaret Small, who from a young age until her early forties spent her life in hospitals under the watchful and controlling eye of nurses. Margaret is a meek girl who likes to keep other happy and throughout her time at the hospital she made friends and lost friends. She’s independent but was never given the chance to read and write and has to rely on others to help her and when she’s given the opportunity to life outside in the real world with the help of her kind carer and Madonna fan, Wayne. Now into her 70’s, Margaret real companion is the Cilla Black autobiography that she listens on her CD Walkman and she has a real connection and admiration for the Liverpool singer. But when she starts receiving mysterious notes and money marked from a sender called ‘C’, Margaret is convinced that Cilla is trying to reach out to her.

There are so many elements of this story that I genuinely loved, Margaret’s sweet and witty way of behaving, her relationship with Wayne and Cilla. The scenes of the harsh treatment of hospitals back in the 1940’s from the nurses and fellow patients and just the general flow of the story with its many twists weaved throughout.

I’m not sure if this is the first book by Neil but if he’s written more, I’ll certainly be looking into them as he really knows how to create a character that’s relatable, engaging and and the reader forms a connection with. His writing is witty, empathetic and really pulls the reader into Margaret’s world, speaking her dialect and seeing the world through her innocent and sheltered eyes.

A tender and poignant story that will make you cry, laugh and break your heart all in one go, ‘The Vanishing Of Margaret Small’ is a heartwarming story with a leading lady that you’ll immediately fall in love with.

You can buy ‘The Vanishing Of Margaret Small’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.