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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 23 June 2014
I absolutely loved this read. Ellen is a social worker, dedicated to the vulnerable and abused children she has sworn to protect. If you can image the most vile thing that one human thing can do to another - then she has seen that thing. She is also a wife and mother and balancing her two roles can sometimes feel like walking a tightrope.

One small mistake, one which sadly I could easily imagine happening, and when you read about it your jaw will drop, will turn the tables on Ellen completely, the rug will be pulled from under her feet and she will see the system "from the other side".

The story is told from her perspective as well as that of Jenny, a ten year old girl, separated from her father who has arrived in Cedar City alone with a bit of money, and address scrawled on an envelope and the knowledge that she must stay away from those in authority. She finds help in the form of Maudeen a local kind hearted waitress and when Jenny's story collides with that of Ellen, they will both find that they have something to offer the other.

It is an absolutely spellbinding read, parts of which are quite harrowing - the stories of what some of the children that Ellen has met in her professional life have suffered would absolutely break your heart. The characters are believable, acting in believable ways. I particularly liked how Ellen's children are portrayed, Lucas and Leah are going through a particularly traumatic time and it shows - they are not little angels every second of the day, they are behaving like all children do at one point or another.

The story moves at a good pace and I found I just did not want to put it down, I had to keep on reading until it reached its conclusion. I really cared for and worried about the characters, wanting everything to work out for them.

Settle down on the sofa with plenty of snacks and drinks, start at page one and I will see you at the end!

Many thanks to the publisher for the ARC in return for an honest review.
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on 2 July 2014
Publication Date: 4 July 2014
Published by: Harlequin MIRA

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The Blurb:

Sometimes, one small mistake can have life-altering consequences...
As a veteran social worker, Ellen Moore has seen it all - the vilest acts one person can commit against another. The only thing that gets her through the workday is knowing her job helps children. That, and her family: her husband, Adam, and three beautiful kids, twins Leah and Lucas, and eleven-month-old Avery. But with a blink of an eye - with one small mistake - Ellen is suddenly at the mercy of the system she works for. Avery is ripped from her clutches, and her whole world begins crashing down around her.

Meanwhile, ten-year-old Jenny Briard has been living with her well-meaning but good-for-nothing father since her mother left them. When her father decides to pack their belongings and move to a new state, Jenny thinks she might be on the road to a better life. But soon she finds herself on her own, forced to survive with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. Evading police and the social system, Jenny finds refuge with a kind-hearted waitress. The last thing she needs is a social worker, but when Ellen and Jenny's lives collide unexpectedly, little do they know just how much they can help one another.

My Review:

I always get excited when I see a new book coming out by Heather Gudenkauf as I have read all her books to date and loved them. Little Mercies is no exception. I always find her books gripping reads with some serious and sensitive storylines.

If anyone has read the short story Little Lies, you will already have a brief introduction to Ellen Moore who is the main character. If not, don't worry, it is not essential. Ellen is a social worker within children's services which as we can all imagine, leads her to deal with many heartbreaking cases on a daily basis, including having to separate children from their parents.

Ellen is herself married with three young children. Right at the start of the book we get a feel for just how hectic her life is, and just how many balls she is constantly having to juggle to try and stay on top of things. We quickly see the consequences of this when something awful happens which may destroy heir family forever. I don't want to give it away and spoil it for other readers but this major storyline really kept me gripped until the end. I was desperately sad for them and wanted to jump into the book and make them all see sense.

Running alongside this is the secondary plot line which involves Jenny. Jenny is only ten years old and I think it's fair to say that life hasn't been particularly good to her. With an absent Mum and an alcoholic Dad it appeared to me that her life had been a battle. Jenny and her Dad are planning to move but when the police arrest the Dad, Jenny ends up in a bus travelling on her own. When she gets there she is all alone having to fend for herself, until she meets Maudene, a local waitress who comes to Jenny's rescue. Again, I don't want to say too much more as I feel it would ruin the surprises I had in the book and I would hate to ruin it for others.

This book really pulled at my heart strings throughout. I love the character of Ellen and really had the sense of her being an all round good egg. In Little Lies we saw how involved in her social work cases she becomes, and in this book too I felt it came across just how warm and loving she is. She seems to take no satisfaction in making difficult decisions but just wants each child to be happy and safe. It broke my heart when the heartbreaking event occurred in this story, and her nightmares became reality. I really did feel an urge to jump in and protect her and make it all ok.

However, my favourite character is Maudene. She, to me, seemed like an angel. Reading about Jenny's story and her struggles was terrible and I felt I wanted to rescue her so when Maudene came along I was over the moon. One of life's wonderful caring people she took Jenny under her wing and gave her love and care, just what we all want really.

I have admired Heathers work throughout all her books, and with Little Mercies this remained. I love the way she develops characters so that I really sensed who they were and what they were feeling. She doesn't shy away from serious subjects, but writes about them in a sensitive way. I felt such empathy towards them all.

The book is gripping. It captivated me from the start and kept me hooked until the very end. It also played on my heart strings all the way through.

It may sound corny but reading about what horrific events happen to others everyday it has made me thankful for my life and for small mercies.

Thank you to Harlequin MIRA who provided me with a copy of the book via Netgalley in return for an honest review.
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on 4 August 2014
Little Mercies is the fourth novel from Heather Gudenkauf and it is just as good as her others if not better. The last few books I had read were all light and easy enough reading so it was a change to read something more gritty and hard-hitting that dealt with a traumatic event that could so easily happen to anyone. It is essentially the story of how one small error can have such devastating consequences for a tight knit family and change their lives dramatically .

The story has two main characters Ellen - an overworked, stressed social worker and mum to three children, Leah (9) , Lucas (6) and Avery (11 months) - and Jenny – a ten year old girl who has been through untold horrors and has had to grow up way before her time. Each chapter is told from either Ellen or Jenny’s point of view so we get to experience how each character is feeling at any given time in the story.

One morning Ellen has overslept and is rushing for a morning meeting while trying to get her children ready for the day. She receives a phone call from one of the young children on her case list, the child is upset and terrified and needs Ellen's help as something terrible is happening at her home. Ellen rushes off to help little realising what her husband Adam had been trying to tell her. This will prove to have a devastating consequence for Ellen and her family.

One small mistake can have such a life altering consequence; this could so easily happen to anyone . Mothers are under such pressures these days and is extremely hard to keep on top of everything and strike the right balance between work and home life. But the tables are turned on Ellen when she becomes the focus of an investigation. How can she prove she was innocent and it was just a simple error of miscommunication?

Jenny is a child who has witnessed much in her short life and has to take on the adult role as her mother abandoned her and her father is also having difficulties in his life. Jenny ends up in the same city as Ellen and meets Ellen’s mother Maudene (who is a widow and works in a local diner). Maudene was a wonderful character she just seemed so sensitive, motherly and caring . Maudene knows the signs of abuse and takes Jenny under wing, trying to help her heal from the traumas she has suffered in the past. Poor Jenny was terrified and vulnerable yet was willing to place her trust in a strange adult. Jenny is determined to find her grandmother and here is where the link between Jenny and Ellen is established. I won’t reveal anymore just to say even at such a stressful, upsetting time for Ellen her kind, caring nature shone through in her willingness to help Jenny find the happy ending she deserved.

Heather Gudenkauf is not afraid to deal with serious life changing issues. This is an emotional, tough, heartbreaking story and even though I do not have children I still felt all the trauma and heartache Ellen was going through at the enforced separation from her child and her guilt for making such a simple mistake that she will have to live with for a long time to come. Although I did feel the character of Adam (Ellen’s husband) could have featured a bit more. I felt we really didn’t get to know him as he spent most of the book beside Avery’s bedside. The ending was wrapped up a bit too quickly , I would have preferred a few more twists and turns. Maybe some courtroom drama á la Jodi Picoult ! I want to know what happened to the characters after the story finished especially Jenny maybe even just a short story would suffice. Overall another emotionally charged and engaging read from Heather Gudenkauf which I would highly recommend.
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on 16 July 2014
Yet another brilliant book by Heather Gudenkauf, two separate lives intermingled by fate. I just wish that Jenny's story had been elaborated on a little more at the end. I read Little Lies first, but found it was not necessary for the follow up, as it was way too short and as far as I was concerned, left you expecting answers which never materialised in Little Mercies. I have given it 5 stars because I couldn't give it 4 and a half, only because the prequel was a huge disappointment. I felt like I had missed a good few chapters out in Little Lies and expected more.
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on 4 September 2014
Oh wow.
I don't actually know what to write here. My head and heart are thumping. I can't get out of my head that this book could actually be real life. It horrifies me.
I can't give a proper review for Little mercies to you, I don't know how. All I can say is that no matter what be kind to people because you sure as hell don't have a clue what is going on in theirs. There are good people on this earth and it's them that seem to be the ones who get s*** on terribly whilst the bad laugh and continue on easily. Life is all about love, family, friends, gratitude, kindness and happiness, and the one thing this book does is make you think hard about them five things and about the life you lead.

A chilling tale of fear, neglect, and having the courage to help others in need.
Fantastic read.
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Ellen Moore is a respected social worker but one day she makes a mistake and finds her whole life has been turned upside down. Meanwhile, her mother, Maudene, comes across a 10 year old girl, Jenny, who is alone and has found her way to the restaurant where Maudene works. Maudene takes Jenny under her wing and Ellen finds that there is more to Jenny's story than meets the eye.

I always enjoy Heather Gudenkauf's books. She writes easy to read yet compelling stories and puts you in a "what would I do if" position as you consider what would happen if you found yourself in the situations that her characters find themselves in. This story is told in alternate chapters. Ellen tells her own story, and Jenny's is in the third person. I liked both but I particularly liked plucky little Jenny.

This author's books are always a treat and I will look forward to her next one.
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on 31 August 2015
I've just finished reading this book, I couldn't put it down. Heather draws the characters so well, I believe they are real people. I do hope she writes more about these particular characters because I'd love to know more about them. I read Little Lies first and so felt I already knew Ellen Moore and her family. This book contains twists and turns and shocks, and doesn't try to sugar-coat things, a really great story by a thoughtful author. More please!
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on 11 September 2014
I have enjoyed previous books by this author so thought I'd give this one a go. The story of a 'normal' family thrust into a scary and difficult situation is one that fascinates me in some ways, the way that it was written was believable, I could see how what happened happened. I'm trying not to give it away, but it becomes clear early on and I knew it was coming before it happened from the way the story was set up. I enjoyed how the events made the main character evaluate her life and her priorities and this led to me thinking a bit about my own life too. I would recommend this book, it's a bit Jodi Picoult like so if you enjoy her then I'm sure that you will like this one too.
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on 23 July 2015
I've read a few books by Heather Gudenkauf and have really enjoyed them all. This one didn't disappoint, and the first thing I did after reading it was go and buy another two.

The story is at times hard to read, but the characters - especially Ellen and Jenny - are very likeable, and I could hardly put it down.
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on 9 March 2015
I really do like this author and her style of writing, it's page turning stuff. I feel connected to the characters and want to know what will happen next. This story really is a there but for the grace of God tale. The way she writes you feel the emotions the pain and despair and you know that what happened could have happened to you. Superb.
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