Tag: Heather Gudenkauf

Little Lies and Little Mercies

Little Lies is a prequel novella to Heather Gudenkauf’s next novel Little Mercies. Both will be featured today.

Please note: I read these before I even thought about reviewing and having a blog. The reviews for both are short. I wish I had reviewed them better on Goodreads earlier this year.  My short reviews here do not do the books justice.  They had to be posted since this is, “The Week of Heather Gudenkauf”!


Little Lies (Novella)
Author: Heather Gudenkauf

44 pages in Kindle

Published: May 4, 2014
Dates Read: March 31- April 2, 2016

My Rating: 4 Stars

Book Summary from Amazon:

In this riveting prequel novella to her novel Little Mercies, New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf explores how even the smallest lies can have far-reaching consequences.

When the body of a woman is discovered in a local park—with her bewildered four-year-old son sitting beside her—veteran social worker Ellen Moore is called in to assist in the police investigation. Positioned beneath a statue of Leto, the goddess of motherhood, the crime is weighted with meaning and, Ellen discovers, remarkably similar to one from a decade past.

Ellen’s professional duty is to protect the child, but she’s not equipped to contend with a killer. As she races to connect the dots, she knows her time is running out. And the stakes are high: if she fails, another mother is sure to make the ultimate sacrifice.

My Review:

A short novella to introduce you to the characters in Little Mercies. I liked having this introduction Ellen and Joe.  I enjoyed it, but wasn’t really satisfied with who the killer ended up being.


Little Mercies
Author: Heather Gudenkauf
320 Pages in Paperback

Published: June 24, 2014
Dates Read: April 3-April 14, 2016

My Rating: 3 Stars

Book Summary from Amazon:

In her latest ripped-from-the-headlines tour de force, New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf shows how one small mistake can have life-altering consequences…

Veteran social worker Ellen Moore has seen the worst side of humanity—the vilest acts one person can commit against another. She is a fiercely dedicated children’s advocate and a devoted mother and wife. But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined, threatening to shatter everything she holds dear, and trapping her between the gears of the system she works for.

Meanwhile, ten-year-old Jenny Briard has been living with her well-meaning but irresponsible father since her mother left them, sleeping on friends’ couches and moving in and out of cheap motels. When Jenny suddenly finds herself on her own, she is forced to survive with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. The last thing she wants is a social worker, but when Ellen’s and Jenny’s lives collide, little do they know just how much they can help one another.

A powerful and emotionally charged tale about motherhood and justice, Little Mercies is a searing portrait of the tenuous grasp we have on the things we love the most, and of the ties that unexpectedly bring us together.

My Review:

I love Heather Gudenkauf and her writing style with the multiple points of view.

This was a gripping book but not as intense as her others. Yes, I wanted to know what was going to happen next, but this one was different from the others. It may have been the subject matter. A very difficult subject to write about, though it was done very well, and I could see how the accident in this case could happen. It made me wonder if I could do that. Really, it could happen to anyone in that one moment.

The book was hard at times for me to read because of the fact a child was left in the car. And going on right now in Georgia is a case where a father left his small child in the car while he was at work. The child died. The father’s case was moved out of Metro-Atlanta, and jury selection is supposed to begin soon. I won’t go into details about that case or my opinion of the father’s guilt or innocence, but as I was reading Little Mercies I kept thinking about that case.

Children being left in cars is happening too often and we need to find a way to keep it from happening. One child dying because of being left in a car is too many. Because of the subject matter I could see some not being able to read it.

I loved the meaning of the title in relation to the novel. We all need Little Mercies in our life.

I enjoyed Little Mercies and would recommend it.

One Breath Away


Author: Heather Gudenkauf
384 Pages in Paperback

Published: June 26, 2012
Dates Read: March 9- March 30, 2016

My Rating: 4 Stars

Book Summary from Amazon:

In her most emotionally charged novel to date, New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf explores the unspoken events that shape a community, the ties between parents and their children and how the fragile normalcy of our everyday life is so easily shattered.

In the midst of a sudden spring snowstorm, an unknown man armed with a gun walks into an elementary school classroom. Outside the school, the town of Broken Branch watches and waits.

Officer Meg Barrett holds the responsibility for the town’s children in her hands. Will Thwaite, reluctantly entrusted with the care of his two grandchildren by the daughter who left home years earlier, stands by helplessly and wonders if he has failed his child again. Trapped in her classroom, Evelyn Oliver watches for an opportunity to rescue the children in her care. And thirteen-year-old Augie Baker, already struggling with the aftermath of a terrible accident that has brought her to Broken Branch, will risk her own safety to protect her little brother.

As tension mounts with each passing minute, the hidden fears and grudges of the small town are revealed as the people of Broken Branch race to uncover the identity of the stranger who holds their children hostage.

My Review:

Heather Gudenkauf is my favorite author. I love that she writes with multiple points of views in her novels. One Breath Away was a very intense read. I never wanted to put it down (Specifically the last 50 or so pages)! I hated when my lunch break was over at work because I wanted to keep reading it.

I did have a few issues with some things the characters did (SPOILERS): A teacher leaving his classroom during lock down because he hears a noise above a classroom. Really!?!? A student walking around the school during lock down, a grandfather trying to go into the school and almost getting shot by a police officer in the process. What were the characters thinking? (END SPOILERS).

I can see this book becoming a Lifetime movie down the road. You wonder if everyone will be ok in the end. This book could be hard to read for some as it deal with a tough issue: Our children and shootings, specifically school shootings. We never want to see something terrible happen to our children, or for them to experience something like this.

Despite the issues I had with the book, I still really enjoyed One Breath Away and would recommend it.


These Things Hidden


Author: Heather Gudenkauf
337 Pages in Paperback

Published: January 18, 2011
Dates Book was Re-Read: February 18-March 7, 2016

My Rating: 5 Stars

Book Summary from Amazon:

When teenager Allison Glenn is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind her reputation as Linden Falls’ golden girl forever. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child. Her former friends exult her downfall. Her sister, Brynn, faces whispered rumors every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. It’s Brynn—shy, quiet Brynn—who carries the burden of what really happened that night. All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her.

But then Allison is released to a halfway house, and is more determined than ever to speak with her estranged sister.

Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden.

My Review:

I first listened to the audio book version of These Things Hidden several years ago. With having read/listened to These Things Hidden, Heather Gudenkauf became my favorite author. I enjoy the multiple points of view that she writes to tell the whole story.

I did not want to put this book down. It is very intense. I wish I had been able to read it quicker. I had forgotten the twists in the books as well, so for most of the book, it was as if I was reading it for the first time.  You wonder what actually happened that night.

These Things Hidden is highly recommended!