#BookReview: The Girls Next Door by Mel Sherratt@writermels @bookouture

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About the Book

One warm spring evening, five teenagers meet in a local park. Only four will come out alive.

Six months after the stabbing of sixteen-year-old Deanna Barker, someone is coming after the teenagers of Stockleigh, as a spate of vicious assaults rocks this small community. Revenge for Deanna? Or something more?

Detective Eden Berrisford is locked into a race against time to catch the twisted individual behind the attacks – but when her own niece, Jess Mountford, goes missing, the case gets personal.

With the kidnapper threatening Jess’s life, can Eden bring back her niece to safety? Or will the people of Stockleigh be forced to mourn another daughter…?

My Thoughts

I’m a huge fan of Mel Sherratt and have read and very much enjoyed all of her novels to date and this one is no exception!

I have to start by saying that I loved Eden Berrisford and I think she may have the potential to overtake Allie Shenton (from Mel’s other series) in my affections! I really enjoyed reading about Eden and I can’t wait to read more in the future. It’s brilliant to find such strong, interesting women in crime fiction novels.

I was expecting this novel to focus more on what happened in the woods but that is just the catalyst for what happens to the characters next – one in particular is Jess, who is Eden’s niece, gets caught up in something way bigger than she’s expected when she started dating a new boyfriend. This novel has some twists and turns – some I saw coming but others had me quite shocked.

There is always a real sense of community in Mel’s novels, and this novel is no different. There are the bad guys, as there are anywhere, but there is also a sense of a tight-knit community who look out for their own and that always adds a warmth to a story that is about teenage gangs and the terrible crimes that some people commit.

I also have to mention that I really enjoyed how this had little references to the Estate series and so some of the setting for this book already felt familiar to me and it was lovely seeing Josie the housing officer from that series pop up in this book too. You don’t need to have read the Estate series to read this one but it’s a lovely bonus if you have.

I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the Author

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Mel Sherratt write police procedurals, psychological suspense and women’s fiction with a punch – or grit-lit, as Mel calls it. Shortlisted for the prestigious CWA (Crime Writer’s Association) Dagger in Library Award 2014, my inspiration comes from authors such as Martina Cole, Lynda la Plante, Mandasue Heller and Elizabeth Haynes.

Mel live in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, with her husband and terrier, Dexter (named after the TV serial killer) and makes liberal use of her hometown as a backdrop for some of her books. You can find out more at Mel’s website www.melsherratt.co.uk

 

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#BookReview: Because of You by Helen Fermont

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About the Book

Because of You is the deeply moving debut novel by Scandinavian writer Helene Fermont. It’s a gripping work of modern women’s fiction with a distinct ‘Scandi’ feel and a psychological twist.

Because of You spans 36 years in the life of Hannah Stein, a Swedish teenager who arrives in London, at the tail end of the disco era, for a gap year before embarking on a teaching career. The people she meets change the course of her life irrevocably and the novel charts her changing personal and professional fortunes over the next three decades. Because of You is about love, coming of age, friendship, bereavement, stillbirth and rape. Its themes include redemption, acceptance, fidelity and family. Because of You is a story that every woman can relate to.

Scandinavian noir has firmly established itself as a bestselling genre in the UK. Because of You takes the elements that make this style of writing so compelling – the realism and dark, morally complex mood – and combines it with women’s fiction.

This is a dark, morally complex and cross-generational story of enduring love, fate and destiny and will appeal to readers who appreciate an emotive, uncompromising and fulfilling read driven by character and circumstance.

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed this novel; it was different to what I was expecting but it was a great read.

Because of You spans 36 years of Hannah Stein’s life – from being a teenager on a gap year in London through until her middle years. It was wonderful to read a book with a long timeline, it was refreshing to get to stay with these characters and see how their lives changed over the years.

I very much enjoyed reading about the older members of Hannah’s family – particularly her grandmother Zipporah, and the older lady, Ella, that Hannah stays with when she first moves to London. I loved how they guided Hannah through her early adulthood and tried to keep her secure without crowding her. I loved Hannah’s relationship with her parents and brother too, it was nice to read about such close bonds within a family and to explore how roles change as everyone gets older. I don’t think this is often covered in novels as the usual short time span doesn’t allow for seeing how everyone ages and changes so it was refreshing and enjoyable to follow all the characters lives in this book. It was moving to see Hannah’s parents age to read about how that then changed the relationship – it comes to us all in life but it’s not often in  contemporary fiction that we get to see people go from still quite young and full of vitality through to old age and all that comes with it. Seeing Hannah become the age her parents must have been at the start of the novel brings it all around full circle.

There is a darker side to this novel – mainly from Hannah’s boyfriend Mark when she first arrived in London and after a while we see that he’s becoming quite controlling and then obsessed with her. Later in the novel Hannah suffers at the hands of an obsessive colleague who won’t take no for an answer. Because of You doesn’t shy away from difficult topics and, although at times the storylines were hard to read, it was actually good to see these issues covered in contemporary fiction because these things do happen to people in real life.

Because of You is a great mix of contemporary fiction and noir. I’d recommend this novel to anyone who loves long novels that are cross genre. I’ll certainly be looking out for more books by Helene Fermont in the future, I can’t wait to read whatever she writes next!

I received this book from Bookollective in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

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Born into a bilingual family (Swedish/English), Hélene Fermont enjoyed an idyllic childhood on the outskirts of Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city and a major cultural hub.

Growing up in the early 1970s, she enjoyed a brief musical career on Swedish TV and radio before pursuing a rewarding career as a therapist specialising in children with learning difficulties.

Hélene has lived in London for over 20 years but still regularly returns to her native Sweden, where the unspoiled scenery and tranquility help aid the creative process. Hélene is currently hard at work on her second novel.