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…

 

If this has you intrigued, The Cedar Cage is available to buy now on 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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Goodreads Monday [A Suitable Lie]

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners . To take part, you simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to check out her blog and link back to Lauren’s Page Turners, and add your own links!


Today I’ve picked A Suitable Lie; this is a book I’ve seen loads of rave reviews for and it sounds amazing. I definitely need to buy a copy soon – it’s on my ‘want to read’ list!

A Suitable Lie - Michael J Malone

Title: A Suitable Lie
Author: Michael J Malone
Publisher: Orenda Books

Publish date: 1 January 2017

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[Synopsis]

Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she’s his perfect match, and she loves his son like he is her own. When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. Desperate for that happy-ever-after, he ignores it—a dangerous mistake that could cost him everything.

Have you heard anything about this book, or have you got it on your TBR list? 

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The Roanoke Girls [review]

The Roanoke Girls - Amy Engel

Title: The Roanoke Girls
Author: Amy Engel
Publisher: Hodder

[Synopsis]

Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

[My Review]

The Roanoke Girls is a very dark and disturbing, but very well-crafted, novel which grabbed me from the first to last page.

There are uncomfortable moments which I can completely see being a problem for some readers, but I personally really – maybe ‘enjoyed’ isn’t the right word – but I felt it was handled well and I personally found it an interesting and engrossing read.

The characters swing between likable and horrible, but all are flawed in their own ways. I really felt bad for the Roanoke girls; each with their own problems and taken advantage of by someone they should trust, and someone who should care about them the most. There are contradicting emotions presented in this novel, with characters claiming to do just that – love and care for other people – but their actions speak louder than words and, in many cases, do not end well for those involved.

There is an element of mystery in this novel, which I liked, but it’s not the main crux of the storyline; it’s more about the relationship between Lane and Allegra and the rest of the family, and those around them.

I don’t want to say anything else as I don’t want to give too much away, but I feel that The Roanoke Girls is a multi layered and well-written novel. I’d definitely read more by Amy Engel in the future!

[Rating: 4/5]

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

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Got You Back [audiobook review]

Got You Back - Jane Fallon

Title: Got You Back
Author: Jane Fallon
Format: Audiobook

[Synopsis]

Two women seek revenge on the man who has wronged them. Stephanie discovers a text message from a mystery woman on her husband James’ cell phone. The other woman, Katie, is just as surprised to learn of Stephanie’s existence. Now the two are teaming up to teach James a lesson.

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[My Review]

Got You Back is an easy read which didn’t overly excite me but was quite entertaining.

The synopsis sounded great – I think it’s always quite fun to read about some revenge served up cold to a cheating partner – and the novel satisfied that to some extent, but it wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be. I wanted more of a ‘smack-you-in-the-face’ resolution or perhaps some kind of unexpected event or twist to make me go ‘wow!’, but it was just a little lacking. Maybe I just expected a different kind of novel. The characters were interesting enough but I just wasn’t hugely engrossed in the story – basically it was okay, but not great.

The narration, however, was quite engaging and I would still read other books by Jane Fallon in the future, as I’ve heard good things about her other novels!

[Rating: 2.5/5]

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Goodreads Monday [The Red Ribbon]

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners . To take part, you simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to check out her blog and link back to Lauren’s Page Turners, and add your own links!


Today I’m going to pick a book I’m very excited to have on the way from Readers First, and I can’t wait to read it – I love books set in WW2, and this looks like it shows the war from a slightly different perspective…

The Red Ribbon - Lucy Adlington

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

Publish date: 21 September 2017

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[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

Have you heard anything about this book, or have you got it on your TBR list? 

Don’t forget… follow me on: instagram @snazzy_stuff_goodreads Laura / and twitter @lauranazmdeh!