Another Woman’s Husband [review]

Another Woman's Husband - Gill Paul

Title: Another Woman’s Husband
Author: Gill Paul
Publisher: Headline Review

[Synopsis]

Two women who challenged the Crown. Divided by time. Bound by a secret…

1911

At the age of fifteen, carefree Mary Kirk and indomitable Wallis Warfield meet at summer camp. Their friendship will survive heartbreaks, separation and the demands of the British Crown until it is shattered by one unforgivable betrayal.

1997

Rachel’s romantic break in Paris with her fiance ends in tragedy when the car ahead crashes. Inside was Princess Diana. Back in Brighton, Rachel is haunted by the accident, and intrigued to learn the princess had visited the last home of Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, only hours before the crash. Soon, the discovery of a long-forgotten link to Wallis Simpson leads Rachel to the truth behind a scandal that shook the world…

Richly imagined and beautifully written, Another Woman’s Husband is a gripping, moving novel about two women thrust into the spotlight, followed by scandal, touched by loss.

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[My Review]

I didn’t read up much about this novel before I started it, and I’m so glad I didn’t. It really surprised me – both in the plot (I’d forgotten that one of the narratives is set just after Diana’s death in 1997, but find the entire subject so interesting) and the way certain parts seemed unconnected but then came together in unexpected ways.

I loved reading both timeframes; the 1997 narrative is something I can very vaguely remember happening – I was only 7 at the time, but remember where I was at the time as I remember my grandparents and parents being so shocked. It was so interesting to read about – both the parts that were fact, and those that the author fabricated to great effect (And still, despite some exaggeration in some aspects – which the author explains at the end – it’s still completely believable!). I also really enjoyed reading the 1911 timeframe, as that’s a fascinating era to me and always so shocking as it reinforces how different life was back then, especially for women.

The main female characters in Another Woman’s Husband are interesting and likeable, though some of the people around them are definitely not nice people! I felt that Gill Paul did a great job of evoking a real sense of time and place in both storylines. Although it’s not a jam-packed, action-adventure storyline, I still found it gripping; it’s a very well-written, intriguing novel which I’d definitely recommend!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Headline Review and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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The House of Secrets [review]

The House of Secrets - Sarra Manning

Title: The House of Secrets
Author: Sarra Manning
Publisher:  Sphere

[Synopsis]

An ordinary house on an ordinary street, built in 1936 and never lived in. Its rooms might be empty, but this house is full of secrets.

When Zoe and Win, raw and reeling from a recent tragedy, move into their new home it’s meant to be a fresh start and a way to mend the holes in their relationship.

But pushed to the back of a cupboard is a suitcase that’s been gathering dust for eighty years. Inside is a wedding dress, letters and a diary all belonging to a woman called Libby. And there’s something else in the suitcase, something that echoes Zoe’s own pain.

Zoe follows Libby’s trail from Paris to Spain on the brink of Civil War to secret trysts in London, and as Libby finds the courage to live and love again, Zoe begins to let go of her own grief.

But when Libby’s story takes a darker turn, Zoe becomes increasingly obsessed with discovering what really happened all those years ago. Because if Libby managed to get her happy ever after then maybe Zoe and Win can too…

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[My Review]

I loved this novel! It had everything I wanted in it – great characters, a plot featuring dual narratives, and a sense of mystery in working out how certain characters may or may not be connected…

I don’t read that much historical romance but I would definitely read more if they were all as engaging as this! I felt that Sarra Manning is particularly great at creating a real sense of atmosphere around the times the two main characters – Zoe and Libby – are living in. I loved the present day narrative which felt refreshing familiar every time I came back from the narrative set in the 1930’s. It’s amazing how different their lives are, but in many ways are very similar, and that’s partly what this novel seems to focus on.

There were times I really disliked the male ‘love interests’ but on the whole I really warmed to both Zoe and Libby, increasingly liking them as I read more about them. Sarra Manning has effectively created a a real sense of atmosphere but including hidden or less obvious objects and elements in and around the ‘house of secrets’. I personally really enjoyed the switch between eras too, though I know some people don’t get along with this type of narrative structure.

I also liked that the plot surprised me at various points; sometimes I thought I knew exactly what would happen, but often it wasn’t as black and white as that. I feel that this reflects real life more, and I really preferred that not everything was tied up with a nice bow…

I’d highly recommend The House of Secrets  for anyone looking to read a well structured and beautifully written historical novel, and I will certainly be reading more by this author in the future.

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Sphere and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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WWW Wednesday [10 September 2017]

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Sam at Taking On a World of Words.

Visit her blog to take a look, and get involved too if you can, even if you don’t have a blog yourself – as she says, you can leave your answers in the post comments. I’d love to see your answers too!

It’s been a good few weeks since I last did a WWW post (inconsistent as always!) so I’ll just focus on the last week in this post…

The three W’s are:

    1. What have you finished reading?
    2. What are you currently reading?
    3. What will you read next?

What have you finished reading? 

Unforgivable (DC Will MacReady, #2) – Mike Thomas [read my review here]
The Red Ribbon – Lucy Adlington [read my review here]
Did You See Melody? – Sophie Hannah [review to follow]

 

What are you currently reading? 

I’m listening to the audiobook of The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson, and I’m reading The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz.

What will you read next?

 

Either: The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde by Eve Chase or Yesterday by Felicia Yap… or perhaps a paperback book (I really need to start getting through some of my bookshelf!) – so I might start The Doll’s House by Phoebe Morgan. So many possibilities!

What have you been reading recently? Any exciting books you’re looking forward to reading next?

If you do your own version of this tag please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to read your answers too!


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Unforgivable [review]

Unforgivable - Mike Thomas

Title: Unforgivable
Author: Mike Thomas
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre

[Synopsis]

Bombs detonate in a busy souk, causing massive devastation.
An explosion rips apart a mosque, killing and injuring those inside.
But this isn’t the Middle East – this is Cardiff . . .

In a city where tensions are already running high, DC Will MacReady and his colleagues begin the desperate hunt for the attacker. If they knew the ‘why’, then surely they can find the ‘who’? But that isn’t so easy, and time is fast running out . . .

MacReady is still trying to prove himself after the horrific events of the previous year, which left his sergeant injured and his job in jeopardy, so he feels sidelined when he’s asked to investigate a vicious knife attack on a young woman.

But all is not as it seems with his new case, and soon MacReady must put everything on the line in order to do what is right.

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[My Review]

This is a smart, well-written thriller/crime novel which focuses on the topical issue of terrorism, specifically in Cardiff, and makes the reader think about attacks which seem to focus on the muslim population too, instead of just thinking of terrorism as something that is inflicted upon others by muslim extremists. It’s an interesting look at the way the police try to prevent and track down those who are likely to carry out terrorist attacks, or already have. There is another element to the storyline, in that a teenager has been killed in the midst of the most recent attack in Cardiff, but her death is being eclipsed by recent events, and it’s interesting to read how the police desperately appeal for information but it doesn’t gain anywhere near the coverage it would potentially have got, had it occurred at any other time.

I haven’t read the first in the DC Will MacReady series, Ash and Bones. Because of this, I’m not sure if it would be better to reads this one first, so you know most about the background of Will and his colleagues, but I found I understood it all well enough with having done so. I do always think it’s good to start at the beginning where possible, although I don’t feel it’s essential for enjoyment of this novel.

The pace is fast and exciting and the characters are all well crafted and interesting to read about – I liked Will MacReady, though he certainly had his faults, and enjoyed reading about his relationship with people such as his wife, work colleagues, and others Things certainly aren’t simple in his marriage! I imagine reading the previous novel would give more information on this.

Mike Thomas has crafted a gritty, realistic novel that is chilling and definitely packs a punch. It kept me wanting to read on from first page to last and didn’t release its grip on me until the very end!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Readers First for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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The Cedar Cage [spotlight] @robscape

Today I’m spotlighting the new novel by Robert Greenfield, The Cedar Cage. It’s set in Norfolk, the county I currently live in, and I love finding out more about novels set in this area – and this sounds like a great read!

Read on to find out more about the book and some information from Robert as he tells us about the setting for his new noir-fiction novel…

The Cedar Cage - Robert Greenfield

Title: The Cedar Cage
Author: Robert Greenfield
Publisher: Pegasus Elliot Mackenzie

[Synopsis]

The boathouse had been built by an Edwardian aristocrat – from a single cedar of Lebanon – as a retreat, maybe even a cage, for his glamorous American bride. But in 2008, just weeks after moving into this dream home, Bertie starts to feel uneasy about living inside someone else’s fantasy.

Obsession takes hold when he becomes convinced that a carpenter, commissioned to fulfil Lord James Newton-Grey’s vision, was murdered in the boathouse. His investigations immerse him in a sinister web of family secrets, as tangled and treacherous as the Norfolk marshlands that lie beyond his windows.

Bertie’s own dark past plays tag with the present, driving him to the edge of madness, when he is forced to confront a chilling truth about himself – delivered by an unexpected visitor on Christmas Day.

Readers of The Cedar Cage – like its characters – must make up their own minds: is Bertie’s strange, unquenchable imagination running riot … or has something genuinely supernatural been at work?”

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[Over to Robert…]

61cmqrkojxl-_ux250_“Originally, The Cedar Cage was supposed to be a sequel to my autobiography Samphire Coast (a bestseller for my publisher, Pegasus), but as my narrative developed, it became clear to me that the setting for the boathouse, which was our new Riverside home (formerly a boathouse) could be transposed to an altogether even-more isolated location, than its village setting. And thus inspired by not only the dense pinewoods at Holkham, but also the woods at Stiffkey, where I walked my dog Barnaby (Boo) most mornings – the idea propagated into a much-darker and deliciously Gothic multi-layered fictional tale, as tangled and treacherous as the Norfolk marshlands beyond…

 

Watch the book trailer for The Cedar Cage on Youtube here

a href=”https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cedar-Cage-Robert-Greenfield/dp/1910903051/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Amazon! FInd out more about Robert Greenfield by visiting his website, www.robertgreenfield.co.uk.


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The Art of Hiding [review]

The Art of Hiding - Amanda Prowse

Title: The Art of Hiding
Author: Amanda Prowse
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

[Synopsis]

What would you do if you learned that the life you lived was a lie?

Nina McCarrick lives the perfect life, until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.

Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.

But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.

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[My Review]

The Art of Hiding is a story of family, resilience and finding the inner strength when you’re at your lowest for the sake of your kids. This is what poor Nina finds she has to do when her husband Finn is in a car accident. With no real goodbye or preparation, she is plunged into a completely different world as she discovers the real mess her husband has left them in – intentionally or not. Her and her kids’ lives are completely turned upside down, and the resulting story of how they cope is a well-written, interesting and easy read.

The characters are always a selling point for Amanda Prowse’s novels which I’ve hugely enjoyed in the past. Nina admits she’s not perfect, and as her situation becomes more and more removed from the privileged life she used to lead, she realises just how easy things were. At times I, along with Nina, felt a little disgusted at how easy life must have been for her and her two boys, Connor and Declan, and how snobby Nina used to be at times, but eventually they all pull together and do the best they can.

I liked that this book doesn’t try to make everything in Nina’s life ‘so much better’ in the end. Things aren’t totally resolved but it’s really interesting to read how she improves their situation as best she can. Her and the boys really grow as people and I liked that it wasn’t overly predictable – and I particularly liked that Amanda Prowse didn’t make any character either ‘good’ or ‘bad’. They all had their faults, but that’s real life. Nina also didn’t suddenly get over her dead husband in a matter of months and move onto anyone else, as is the case in other novels like this, and I liked that the way Finn treated her might not have always been best for her, but that doesn’t mean Nina suddenly stops loving him now he’s gone.

I’d recommend this novel to anyone looking for an interesting read which isn’t too predictable, and it features some great characters. Amanda Prowse has a knack for releasing great reads and this is no exception.

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Lake Union Publishing and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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The Red Ribbon [review]

The Red Ribbon - Lucy Adlington

Title: The Red Ribbon
Author: Lucy Adlington
Publisher: Hot Key Books

[Synopsis]

Rose, Ella, Marta and Carla. In another life we might have all been friends together. But this was Birchwood.

As fourteen-year-old Ella begins her first day at work she steps into a world of silks, seams, scissors, pins, hems and trimmings. She is a dressmaker, but this is no ordinary sewing workshop. Hers are no ordinary clients. Ella has joined the seamstresses of Birkenau-Auschwitz.

Every dress she makes could be the difference between life and death. And this place is all about survival.

Ella seeks refuge from this reality, and from haunting memories, in her work and in the world of fashion and fabrics. She is faced with painful decisions about how far she is prepared to go to survive.

Is her love of clothes and creativity nothing more than collaboration wth her captors, or is it a means of staying alive?

Will she fight for herself alone, or will she trust the importance of an ever-deepening friendship with Rose?

One thing weaves through the colours of couture gowns and camp mud – a red ribbon, given to Ella as a symbol of hope.

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[My Review]

The Red Ribbon is a touching, emotional and shocking story, set in the concentration camps of WW2, but showing a different side of the camps. Not a nicer side, mind you, but definitely a little different to what we often read about or see in films – I knew nothing about the seamstresses and clothing studios of WW2 concentration camps before I read this novel.

The story centers around Ella, who has just started a new job at a sewing studio – in Auschwitz. It’s a truly shocking story at times, and at other points it’s quite sweet and touching as we see the relationship between Ella and her best friend, Rose. It also feels very poignant when Ella thinks back to life before the war, and about her family; you really feel for her and can’t imagine the horror. She’ll drop thinks into the story really casually – like she was picking lice off the seams of her dress, for example. This really shocked me – I re-read it twice – even though there were other horrible things happening. It made my skin crawl! It’s just one of the ways Lucy Adlington illustrates the horrible living conditions for Ella and the prisoners around her.

I loved both Ella and Rose; they were both really sweet in their own ways, though Ella could be a very headstrong at times and at first I have to admit I found her a little annoying…  Rose was also so likable, trying her hardest to create an imaginary world around her to attempt to block out the horrors taking place there.

I don’t read a huge amount from the Young Adult genre and was surprised to see that The Red Ribbon is classed as YA – I hugely enjoyed it, anyway. The book itself is so aesthetically pleasing – it would make an amazing gift. Each page features illustrations of ribbons, scissors and pins, and the cover is beautiful! This provides a strong contrast compared to the stark, colourless world of Auschwitz.

This is a powerful novel of friendship, determination and desperation which I would recommend to anyone. It’s not an ‘enjoyable‘ read as such, due to the subject matter, but I think it is an important one.

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Readers First for providing a copy of this beautiful novel, on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

The Break [review]

the break - marian keyes

Title: The Break
Author: Marian Keyes
Publisher: Michael Joseph UK

[Synopsis]

Amy’s husband Hugh isn’t really leaving her.

At least, that’s what he promises. He is just taking a break – from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. For six-months Hugh will lose himself in south-east Asia, and there is nothing Amy can say or do about it.

Yes, it’s a mid-life crisis, but let’s be clear: a break isn’t a break up – yet . . .

It’s been a long time since Amy held a briefcase in one hand and a baby in the other. She never believed she’d have to go it alone again. She just has to hold the family together until Hugh comes back.

But a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns, if he returns, will he be the same man she married? And will Amy be the same woman?

Because falling in love is easy. The hard part – the painful, joyous, maddening, beautiful part – is staying in love.

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[My Review]

The Break is another absorbing, interesting and humorous read from an author I’ve loved reading for years: Marian Keyes. I was so ready for a new novel from this brilliant and funny Irish writer and I was definitely not disappointed!

You sort of know what to expect from Marian Keyes’s new novels but The Break surprised me in many ways. For one, it was more emotional and upsetting than many of her other novel (or so I felt anyway). Amy’s husband Richard has what seems to be a sort of mental breakdown after the death of his father and decides he wants a break from their marriage – and yes, a proper break, heading to travel around Asia and potentially involving romances with OTHER PEOPLE! No wonder Amy was devastated; as much as Richard can say it’s nothing to do with her personally, how on earth would you NOT take this at least a little personally?

Mental health is something that’s affected various people I know and care about in the past, so reading this felt very emotional. At times I felt genuinely sick reading about the betrayal that Amy feels, imagining if I was in the same situation.

Don’t get me wrong – there’s still plenty of the classic Keyes humour we’ve all grown to expect and love. Amy really made me laugh, though I definitely did not agree with some of her choices, and she’s definitely not perfect – as we learn in this novel. However she IS really likeable, witty, and fun, and there are some very humorous moments; in fact this novel has a lot of likeable characters, and even when you think you’ll hate a character or have them completely figured out, you realise you don’t because people are not that black and white.

The Break is a fairly long novel but I loved every minute, despite the emotional subject matter. It made me laugh, cry, and consider the fact that there really aren’t many (or perhaps any?) completely perfect marriages – they take work. I’d definitely recommend this novel to fans of Marian Keyes or anyone who enjoys ‘chick lit’/ women’s fiction with an extra level of depth.

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Michael Joseph UK and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.


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Cold Blood [review]

Cold Blood - Robert Bryndza

Title: Cold Blood
Author: Robert Bryndza
Publisher: Bookouture

[Synopsis]

She fell in love with a killer, now she’s one too.

The suitcase was badly rusted, and took Erika several attempts, but it yielded and sagged open as she unzipped it. Nothing could prepare her for what she would find inside…

When a battered suitcase containing the dismembered body of a young man washes up on the shore of the river Thames, Detective Erika Foster is shocked. She’s worked on some terrifying cases but never seen anything like this before.

As Erika and her team set to work, she makes the link with another victim – the body of a young woman dumped in an identical suitcase two weeks ago.

Erika quickly realises she’s on the trail of a serial killer who’s already made their next move. Yet just as Erika starts to make headway with the investigation, she is the victim of a brutal attack.

But nothing will stop Erika. As the body count rises, the twin daughters of her colleague Commander Marsh are abducted, and the stakes are higher than ever before. Can Erika save the lives of two innocent children before it’s too late? She’s running out of time and about to make a disturbing discovery…there’s more than one killer.

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[My Review]

Robert Bryndza has done it again; Cold Water lives up to the great writing and utterly addictive storyline of the previous four novels in this seriesand, side note, I can’t believe there have been that many already, it only seems like 5 minutes since the brilliant The Girl In The Ice came out! (Scroll to the bottom of the page to read my reviews for each previous novel).

Of course, Erika is a great character – one of my favourite detectives, and even better than she’s a strong female character! She’s back on great form here, as usual disregarding the rules when she feels it’s necessary (or just wants to), but she has some personal problems that are causing her some worry and is another layer of heartache on top of the constant sadness for her ex-husband’s death.

The story itself is dark and gritty, featuring a serial killer who Erika and the team must link to the string of dead bodies turning up, all the time working against the clock. It takes a dark turn when the children of someone Erika knows well are kidnapped. This definitely adds a menacing touch to the story, and the writing is as gritty and tense as always.

I finished this novel in no time – the next instalment can’t come quickly enough! Cold Water is another great release in this stellar series and I’d highly recommended it!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Bookouture and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

See my reviews for titles in this series:
The Girl In The Ice 
The Night Stalker  
Dark Water
Last Breath


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31 Days of Wonder [review]

31 Days of Wonder - Tom Winter

Title: 31 Days of Wonder
Author: Tom Winter
Publisher: Corsair – Little Brown Book Group UK

[Synopsis]

‘And in that instant, he knows in his heart that today is a momentous day; come what may, he and Alice will meet again, and life will never be the same.’

Alice is stuck in an internship she loathes and a body she is forever trying to change.

Ben, also in his early twenties, is still trying to find his place in the world.

By chance they meet one day in a London park.

Day 1
Ben spots Alice sitting on a bench and feels compelled to speak to her. To his surprise, their connection is instant. But before numbers are exchanged, Alice is whisked off by her demanding boss.

20 minutes later
Alone in her office toilets, Alice looks at herself in the mirror and desperately searches for the beauty Ben could see in her.

Meanwhile, having misunderstood a parting remark, Ben is already planning a trip to Glasgow where he believes Alice lives, not realising that they actually live barely ten miles apart.

Over the next 31 days, Alice and Ben will discover that even if they never manage to find each other again, they have sparked a change in each other that will last a lifetime. In 31 Days of Wonder, Tom Winter shows us the magic of chance encounters and how one brief moment on a Thursday afternoon can change the rest of your life.

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[My Review]

This is a sweet, quirky and, at times, sentimental story about chance and fate. It’s not your usual ‘love story’ but it does involve two characters who meet – albeit very briefly – one day and feel a strange sort of spark between them. It doesn’t end the way love stories usually end, though; in fact the beginning and middle don’t follow the usual love story format either!

The characters are really likeable and I cared about what would happen to both of them. They each have their own problems, and at first I was a little confused as I tried to work out more of Ben’s character but soon got into the swing of the story. Both characters felt like they were unique and a change from some of the ‘samey’ characters which can often pop up in books from this genre. Alice and Ben are both sweet characters, a stark contrast to some of their acquaintances and work colleagues. At times I felt the way these other characters (including family and ‘friends’ of Alice) spoke to her was a bit too cruel and rude at times, and made me wonder if anyone would really be that horrible… then I thought about how cruel people can be, sadly, and it only made me feel more for poor Alice.

31 Days of Wonder was quite refreshing in its style and plot, and it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting – I suppose I thought there’d be more elements of a traditional ‘romance’ in there – but I liked that it surprised me and definitely preferred the way it usurped the usual genre stereotypes to create a charming, sweet story. It’s not a long read, so you can race through it pretty quickly (as I did)! I definitely recommend giving it a go.

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Little Brown Book Group UK and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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