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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.

The Hive By Scarlett Brade

The Hive‘The Hive’ is the debut novel by Scarlett Brade.

Charlotte Goodwin looks directly at the camera and reveals a chilling truth to the thousands watching her Instagram Live broadcast. She has killed her ex-boyfriend’s new partner in cold blood. But she is not finished yet. The viewers must now vote to decide whether he should live or die. The public display sends shockwaves rippling through the online community and the numbers of viewers skyrockets. But as Lincoln’s past is revealed, how will he be judged?

This debut has got to be one of my favourite books of 2022. With a sizzling storyline and strong females, this topical story certainly packed a punch and kept me gripped throughout.

The story is seen through the perspective of Charlotte and starts in the present time, when she’s live broadcasting the death of her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend and how she has got to this moment in her life.

The story then travels back to the past when Charlotte first meets Lincoln, a successful boxer and influencer, Charlotte is an admin assistant and she falls for Lincoln’s charms and good looks hard. But when tragedy strikes and they break up, Charlotte finds it hard to move on especially when Lincoln moves on with a new woman and has his new relationship flaunted in her face.

This story is a powerful and triggering story that certainly makes for thoughtful and topical reading, as we join a woman on a journey to breaking point.

Charlotte is a fantastic lead, she’s strong and passionate and as her relationship and life unravels around her, so does her sanity and this truly is a sad reading. She is supported by a strong network of friends, who have all been there for each other during the hardest of times, whether that’s drugs, abuse or loss, they are always there to help.But they are struggling to help Charlotte particularly, as the life that she could have had is always there to be seen on ‘The Hive’ the social media platform that is rife with gossip and updates and keeps Charlotte informed of Lincoln’s news. Charlotte becomes addicted to social media and is consumed with passion to help put her life together but ‘The Hive’ is always there to catch her at her worst.

The story is topical in that it focuses on social media and life in the limelight. Nothing is private and everyone has an opinion, whether it’s good or bad and the author cleverly included social media posts about the rise of Lincoln and demise of Charlotte. I absolutely hated Lincoln, a narcissist, vain and he constantly gaslit Charlotte and made her double think everything.

Powerfully written, thought-provoking and packed with attitude, ‘The Hive’ is a fantastic thriller about the strength of the sisterhood, the toxicity of social media and the determination to seek vengeance and all these factors made this uniquely written and gripping debut impossible to put down!

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

Read An Extract On All Together Now Book Tour

All Together NowAnother day, another book tour and today I’m revealing an extract from Gill Hornby’s fabulous new book, ‘All Together Now’ So make yourself a cup of tea and enjoy.

Chapter 1

At ten to six, Tracey was, as usual, steering her way through the tunnelling that would take her up to the surface of the earth. Even on a good evening it took a while to get out of the car park. She always used those few minutes to select the soundtrack for the journey home – an eye on the bumper in front, a hand rifling through the CDs on the passenger seat. According to Billy, this was the last car to drive across the First World with such a pre- historic sound system. He was always on at her about it, like she was an Amish, or Fred Flintstone. He didn’t seem to notice that they would need to win the lottery just to upgrade to central locking. And anyway if he wanted Tracey’s opinion – yes, if – the CD player was the best thing about this car. It gave a physical dimension, an extra sensation, to her music that advanced elec- tronics denied her. Here in the excellent Flintmobile she could still touch it, spread it out, sift through the albums of the gods of rock like a jeweller her diamonds . . . And tonight, it looked like she would have even more time to play with than usual. She settled in to the long slow queue for the barrier and set about making her choice.

‘Here.’ The parking attendant knocked on her window. ‘Some- thing’s up.’ She wound it down. ‘It’s terrible out there tonight. Keep away from Bridgeford if you can help it.’

‘Ugh,’ Tracey tried to say, but nothing came out. ‘Wish I could.’ She cleared her throat. ‘But thanks . . . ’

She slumped back against the car seat and clutched at her hair. She’d already put up with a bog-standard, run-of-the-mill, utterly dehumanisingly normal day at ONS Systems – emails, contracts, emails about contracts – sitting alone, sit-offishly, in the corner. She coughed again – her vocal cords were in serious danger of atrophy. There had been a ‘Bless you’ to a sneezing junior and a twenty- second sing-song for a birthday – it being the office and there being the law of averages, it was bound to be somebody’s birthday – but apart from that, nothing. She needed – she really, properly needed – tohearthesoundofherownvoice.Somethingshouty,thatwaswhat she wanted tonight – straightforward and shouty. She found just the disc, flicked it out of its cover and into the machine and waited. The driver of the car ahead stopped to take on a couple more passengers; windows opened, hands stuck out, fingers waved. Someone called, another laughed; Tracey growled. At last, it was her turn. She passed through the barrier, back into the world and pressed Play. ‘Meat Loaf,’ she announced, ‘you may escort me home.’

. . . paradise by the dashboard light

Tracey emerged and scanned the dark sky. It throbbed with the rhythmic blue of the emergency lights but was giving no sign of what sort of day she had missed. Tracey, as usual, had no clue. They didn’t really go in for weather at ONS: it didn’t bother them, so they didn’t bother with it. The enormous metal-box structure had its own climate, permanently set to ‘very pleasant’; a little patch of northern California, just handy for the M4. Still, the roads were sodden, it was the middle of England in the depths of winter: it could only have been grim.

She took to the slip-road, thumping on the steering wheel, singing – bellowing – along until she came out to the roundabout and a sudden stop. Craning her neck to look ahead, Tracey saw
straight up and into the van in the next lane. Three young blokes, all lined up on the front seat, still in their overalls, were laughing away at her. So she shouted a bit louder. Not what they expected from a woman in her forties dressed in her sensible office clothes? Didn’t they like it from someone old enough to be their mum? Just because she didn’t look like a rocker, didn’t mean she wasn’t a rocker. She stuck out her tongue, showing them her stud, pressed it to the window and pulled her Ozzy Osbourne face. She might even have mooned them, but then they inched forward and her sport was over.

‘Oh, come on.’

Nearly twenty years she had been doing this commute, and it generally pulled some sort of trick on her at least once a week. It had caused her no end of trouble in the past – especially when Billy was little – and yet she had never been tempted to look for some sort of job on her own doorstep. Living in Bridgeford was dismal enough; she couldn’t possibly work there, too. It might not be exactly excit- ing coming out here every day but it did at least throw in another dimension to her existence, increase her imprint upon the earth, just a bit. Tracey tried to imagine her days and years without it and felt a shiver – her whole life would seem such a little thing. She leaned forward, switched off Meat Loaf and fiddled with the tuner.

Officially, Tracey never listened to Dave at Drivetime – soft pop and local radio being, obviously, landmarks in the Valley of Musical Death. Unofficially, though, she had to tune in quite often for the traffic updates, so she always made sure to keep her guard up. For the more vulnerable listeners, the traffic update could just be a dan- gerous beginning, like a gateway drug. Tracey worried about them, innocently tuning in to hear about a pile-up on the A-whatever and suddenly find themselves filling their brains with all that other stuff: humming along to Maroon 5, smiling dopily to a bit of Michael Bublé . . . She shook her head in sorrow. Of course, that could never happen to her, but still, even as she waited her own brain was being filled with ‘News from Your Neighbourhood’. ‘Ugh, please, spare us,’ she muttered, drumming her fingers on the gearstick.

‘ . . . the demonstration tomorrow night at the proposed site of the new superstore planned on the London Road…’

That reminded her: she needed to stock up the fridge yet again. The sooner they built a superstore the better, and London Road would be very convenient. She would be able to swoop in on the way home without battling into town, so let them get on with it. Honestly, of all the things to protest about. Third World hunger all sorted then, was it? World peace in the bag? People round here could do with some real problems.

An air ambulance clattered into the sky and one by one the cars ahead of her started to move.

‘ . . . recruitment drive. Yes, the Community Choir has announced that they are going BACK to the County Championships this year after a few quiet seasons. And this time they are in it to win it for your town. But they really need some new voices. So come on, you

Tracey hooted as, at last, she shifted up into second gear. ‘Belters of Bridgeford!’ There was an image. She must remember to tell Billy when she got home. They would have a right laugh at that one.

She crawled on to the motorway – past the wreckage piled on thehard shoulder, the flashing lights, the police in high-vis jackets – and pulled out into the middle lane.

You can buy All Together Now from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.