337 by M. Jonathan Lee #BookReview #337LEE

337 def


337 follows the life of Samuel Darte whose mother vanished when he was in his teens. It was his brother, Tom who found her wedding ring on the kitchen table along with the note.

While their father pays the price of his mother’s disappearance, Sam learns that his long-estranged Gramma is living out her last days in a nursing home nearby.

Keen to learn about what really happened that day and realising the importance of how little time there is, he visits her to finally get the truth.

Soon it’ll be too late and the family secrets will be lost forever. Reduced to ashes. But in a story like this, nothing is as it seems.

amazon uk amazon com



337 is a new and thoughtful story by author Jonathan Lee. In the first 16 pages the author seems to randomly zoom in more and more as if watching from the sky and finally selecting one family that draws his attention. It stops at an idyllic scene, a picknick to be more exact of 2 children Sam and Tom, their parents and their grandparents. The following day Sam and Tom’s mother went missing.

The novel is constructed in such a way that you then have to flip the novel over and with a lovely new cover on the other side you can then read on from where you left off and get the whole story. I love novels that are a bit special and this is the first time I came across such a flip-over novel, so I’m very proud to have such a novelty in my library. (A small note: the book with two covers is only available in the UK and not in other countries)

I already had an uneasy feeling about this picknick scene because there was a certain coldness present that I couldn’t place, a sense that something about that scene wasn’t quite right. I wondered what they were thinking right there, was someone plotting on murdering Sam’s mother there, or did she really plan to leave the next day?

Sam’s grandmother has an impact on the story and his development, even though she’s merely being present and is not an actively participating in the conversations. Her role was significant though and she did get to me. I wish I could have slowed down Gramma’s imminent death so many times while reading but it was clear from her physical descriptions that time was ticking away. While Sam doesn’t make a lot of progress, other mysteries are answered one by one. I found out about the whereabouts of his father, why his brother isn’t there, and in the end why there was a rift between Sam and his Gramma. They hadn’t seen each other in many years, so I could only guess (well I actually didn’t guess this) what caused this family to fall apart even more after what happened to them.

If you love a beautifully written novel with a lot of meaning you must read this novel. It’s a novel that makes you think things over, not to solve a mystery but to understand the characters and how you yourself feel about what Sam’s dealt with. Also, even when I’m someone who’s not very receptive for lyrical prose in novels, this author finds just the right balance to make it easily accessible and beautiful to read, the language is so poetic. I love how the author uses metaphors in his novels, they are easy to comprehend and wonderful to read at the same time.

Although I really enjoyed this novel and didn’t even mind that I thought we would never even get an answer in the end, the answer that we did get left me practically even more curious because in only an instant so much more was left unsaid. If it were up to me I’d have loved an epilogue or an extra chapter. The final line was definitely a shocker and didn’t miss its effect but it left me a bit hanging about the past. Another little thing that I wondered about was the title, I still have no idea what 337 stands for. It’s an intriguing title but not explained in the novel. The only thing I can come up with is that 337 months could be 28 years, and maybe that’s the amount of time his mother went missing but I couldn’t find the exact amount of time in the novel.

337 is a different kind of novel, it has mystery but not in the traditional sense and if the investigation itself is your main interest I wouldn’t recommend it BUT if you want to take an interest in finding out more about a dysfunctional family, if you want to really get to know the main character and see how he’s dealing with grief, with the aftermath of losing a mother, of coming to terms with never knowing, of finally starting to live in the present and letting go, then do pick this one up. 337 is a very engaging, intimate and poetic read.

I received a free hardback copy of this novel from the publisher, Hideaway Fall, in exchange for my honest opinion.

You can also read my reviews of M. Jonathan Lee’s novel Drift, Stumble, Fall by clicking here and Broken Branches here.

15 Christmas gift ideas for book lovers – edition 2020-2021

Christmas gift ideas for book lovers

Here we are again.. can you believe it’s almost the end of the year? If you don’t know what to get your loved ones this year, fear not, I have you covered and I have (more than) a few ideas that I’m very happy to share with you today:

1. Socks Dedoles

Christmas Dedoles Socks Books     Christmas Dedoles Socks library 01

I ordered from this site already so it’s a definitely legit company and they have many cute designs. If you search for key words library and books, you’ll find these! 

2. Hot Chocolate Design

If you can spend more money, then these shoes look pretty amazing. With a big thank you to Karin Slaughter for this great tip! 

Voodoo Women’s Mary Jane Flats or Crime Women’s Slip-On Shoes

Chocolaticas Voodoo Women's Mary Jane Flat   Chocolaticas Crime Women's Slip-On Shoes   

3. Rooby Lane

Voile Book Covers Scarf or an Antique Book Covers Blanket ooorrr a cool Cushion Cover?

RoobyLane 01 RoobyLane 02  RoobyLane 03

4. Harkel Clothing

How about some colour in your wardrobe? You can always put this dress on your list : Treat Your Shelf Dress

Harkel dress

5. Kabouter Boeken (gnome books!)

This site is in Dutch but you can always ask my help if you need it. I just wanted to show these adorable books that have lights in them. They are hollow on the inside (the crafter finds books in garage sales and such) and they have a little light switch. On the inside are 2 AAA batteries and you can store your treasures there. 

Kabouter Boeken

6. Blackwell’s

Face Mask – Curl Up with a Book (small adult) (also comes in large adult) or a Bibliophile Vase: The Writer’s Companion – Bibliophile

Blackwells 01                  Blackwells 02

7. The Book Lounge Online Store

Bookminders – Cat & Mouse or Bookends – The Library or also not expensive are the Book Fans

A little secret, one of my personal favorites are the Cat & Mouse bookminders, isn’t it cute?

BookLoungeSquare 01        TheBookLounge 02           BookLoungeSquare 03

8. Books By The Foot

Maybe not for everyone but if you like surprises, or your partner really doesn’t know which book to get you, why not?

With pricing starting at $4.99 per linear foot and over 30 standard styles, we provide you with shelf-ready books that will display attractively

Candy Cane or Rainbow Ombre

BooksByTheFoot 01     BooksByTheFoot 02

9. IF Bookaroo Glasses Hanger

Also in pink! 


10. Redbubble.com Shop GrandeDuc

Literary Giants Pattern Throw Blanket

Signatures and autographs from Shakespeare, Austen, Dickens, Christie, Orwell, Shelley, Poe, Woolf, Twain, Brontë, Hemingway, Alcott, du Maurier, Conan Doyle, Stein, Blyton, Lewis, Steinbeck.

GrandDuc 01  

Pride and Prejudice Throw Blanket

GrandDuc 02

11. Amazon: Not On The High Street

Personalised Initial Leather Heart Page Corner Bookmark

NotOnTheHighStreet 01

This innovative leather bookmark slots over the corner of the page that you wish to mark.
Crafted from Italian leather and personalised with the recipients initial it will delight all ages.
Available in a variety of gorgeous coloured leathers this makes the perfect personalised gift.

12. Amazon: The Cypher Files

An interactive puzzle book? Yes please!

The Cypher Files

You are an agent of CY.P.H.E.R., the secret international agency working on ‘unsolvable’ code-based cases. Called upon to investigate cryptic clues discovered in the wake of a series of mysterious disappearances, the clock is ticking to crack the codes before it’s too late.

To escape this book, you must write, draw, search, fold and cut pages, explore virtual escape rooms and think laterally to identify the perpetrator and solve the mystery.

13. Amazon: 365 Days of True Crime Page-A-Day Calendar 2021

A Year of True Crime

For anyone who binge-watched Making a Murderer. Including the weirder-than-fiction murder of Tim McLean, who was cannibalized on a bus by a total stranger. Plus Netflix and Chill(ing) Documentaries; inspiring Survivor Stories, Trials of the Century, True Crime Quizzes, and great crimes of yesteryear. 

14. Capital Crime Book Club

I joined this book club myself recently and I can’t recommend it enough. If you love reading thrillers then you won’t be disappointed because there are two amazing titles coming your way every month. We already had Mark Edwards, and John Marrs to name just two, so definitely only top of the shelf authors in the boxes! 


15. Rachel Amphlett (author) merchandise 

Saving one of the best for last because seriously, I love this mug, it is so cool! Unfortunately Belgium is not on the list of countries (and if it were it would probably cost more than the mug itself for shipping) but if you’re in the UK or the US, you’re all lucky. This would make a perfect gift don’t you think? 

Mug Shipping


I hope you found some of my ideas inspirational. Do let me know which one you prefer if you like what you see! 

If you want more inspiration you can also check out my past gift ideas in the years 2017, 2018 and 2019.

The Secretary by Renée Knight #BookReview

TheSecretary def


She knows all your secrets. But will she keep them?

Look around you. Who holds the most power in the room? Is it the one who speaks loudest, who looks the part, who has the most money, who commands the most respect?

Or perhaps it’s someone like Christine Butcher: a meek, overlooked figure, who silently bears witness as information is shared and secrets are whispered. Someone who quietly, perhaps even unwittingly, gathers together knowledge of the people she’s there to serve – the ones who don’t notice her, the ones who consider themselves to be important.

There’s a fine line between loyalty and obsession. And when someone like Christine Butcher is pushed to her limit, she might just become the most dangerous person in the room . . .

amazon uk amazon com


5_Star_Rating_System_4_and_a_half_stars_1457015900_81_246_96_2 / 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars_1457015727_81_246_96_2

The Secretary had terrible characters but it was so fun to read. Christine and I share the same profession and almost the same amount of years at the job so of course I wanted to read this novel and take a peek behind the curtains of another corporate environment (the offices of one of the biggest supermarket brands in the UK). Christine Butcher is like the perfect secretary. She’s discreet, meticulous, organised… and that’s where our similarities stop because Christine really takes her skills to the limit. It’s unbelievable how devoted she is to her boss Mina Appleton. She knows Mina’s every mood and aims to please Mina however she can. It goes way beyond helping her only at work. Christine is utterly blind to her bosses manipulations, but I must admit I never felt deeply sorry for Christine exactly because of the fact that she was so obsessed with her boss. I’m sure people in the highest echelons would praise her and would want someone exactly like her, but normal people know that her priorities were really askew. She was truly a very fascinating character to read about and I felt like I really knew who she was.  

The story was told through Christine’s eyes and even if she tells the story as if everyhing is fine and normal, there was a constant sinister and ominous feeling present. Would she wake up and stand up for herself? What would be her breaking point? What was she going to do with all the knowledge she had on Mina? Oh I felt gleeful in advance because I seriously don’t think I could hate Mina more. I was waiting patiently for Christine to see that her boss is like all bosses; someone who takes as much advantage as she can but IS certainly NOT your friend. 

I was excited about the story development and I gobbled up every word, phrase and chapter with a racing speed. Christine did not let me down at all and I loved how it ended, so grandiose and clever. Christine is both a good person and a bad person and I loved how hard she made me work to decide which side dominates most. I don’t know if it’s permitted but I still love her in the end.  

I haven’t read this author’s debut novel Disclaimer but after reading this novel I need to have it so I’m definitely putting it on my Christmas list! 

I found a battered copy of this book in a Little Free Library. This is my honest opinion.

Inside Out by Chris McGeorge #BookReview

InsideOut def


Cara Lockhart has just commenced a life sentence in HMP North Fern – the newest maximum security women’s prison in the country. She was convicted of a crime she is adamant she didn’t commit.

One morning she wakes up to find her cellmate murdered – shot in the head with a gun that is missing. The door was locked all night, which makes Cara the only suspect.

Cara needs to clear her name, unravelling an impossible case, with an investigation governed by a prison timetable.
But as Cara starts to learn more about North Fern and the predicament she is in, she finds connections between the past and present that she never could have imagined.

Indeed it seems that her conviction and her current situation might be linked in very strange ways…

amazon uk amazon com



Chris McGeorge writes the type of novels that I love to read and even though all of his books are completely different, he gives the locked-in mystery trope always a baffling new spin. In the first novel the objective was to literally get out of a room, in the second novel there was a tunnel where everyone went in but only one person came out and everyone else went missing, and now I had the pleasure of reading about an impossible murder in prison…  

This is not a typical prison though, North Fern is one-of-a-kind. The author gives the prison a cool sci-fi vibe with the implementation of electronic cuffs and the replacement of real windows by led screens that only project images of blue skies. They don’t allow visitors in this prison either and if you thought that was horrible, how about having to watch the same fifties movie every single week on movie night for years? Presence mandatory, of course.

This is the place Cara Lockhart is sent to and when her cellmate is murdered, all eyes are on her. I knew she was a convicted murderer  – they call her The Butcher – but I believed her. It’s impossible not to sympathise with Cara, she’s easy to like, even identify with, and a clever woman who’s not fooled easily at all. We are not told from the start but intermittent with Cara’s own ‘investigation’ of what is going on the author releases little pieces of the background story that earned her that terrible nickname

Who, how and why are the million dollar questions and anyone who can solve this puzzle without help shall have my everlasting admiration. I was certainly convinced that someone wanted to set her up but it wasn’t only interested to know who could do this when their cell was locked but, even more interesting was finding out why. Well the truth was a real kicker. I could think of only a few persons capable but I especially enjoyed the shock factor of learning the reasons why all this had happened.  

I might not have been the biggest fan of the psychological warfare of the same old movie that Cara had to watch in isolation and the author might have taken it a bit too far there but the plot construction itself was rather genius and it all falls into the right place at the right time.

Inside Out was an exciting read that had me rooting for Cara from the start. It was deviously twisted and I’ve never seen revenge take this kind of proportions. I can’t wait to read his next novel 😃. 

I received a free ecopy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley. This is still my honest opinion.


Stand By Me by S.D. Robertson #BookReview

StandByMe def


Lisa and Elliot have been best friends ever since the day they met as children. Popular, bright and sporty, Lisa was Elliot’s biggest supporter when the school bullies made his life a misery, and for that, he will always be grateful.

Twenty years later, life has pulled the pair apart and Lisa is struggling. Her marriage is floundering, her teenage kids are being secretive, and she’s so tired she can’t think straight. So when Elliot knocks on the door, looking much better than she remembers, she can’t help but be delighted to see her old friend again.

With Elliot back in their lives, Lisa’s family problems begin to improve – he’s like the fairy godmother she never had. As their bond deepens, she realises how much she’s missed him, and prays that this is one friendship that will last a lifetime. But sometimes, life has other ideas…

amazon uk amazon com



In these (corona) times where we are confined to spend much time alone in our homes, I felt a need to wrap myself into a warm blanket of (fictional) friendship and if you need a friend too and want your heart filled then you must meet Elliot and Lisa because you’re going to wish for a friend like these two after you meet with them.

I’m very lucky to have received a wonderful copy of Stand By Me from an even more wonderful blogfriend and if you want to read an extract about the time Elliot and Lisa had to say goodbye when Elliot moved to Australia you can read it on her blog here. It’s definitely a scene that gives your heart a little squeeze but you don’t have to worry that you’ll be sobbing your heart out from start to finish, the heart of the story is a happy one that celebrates friendship and shows the meaning of a true friend, someone who literally stands by you when you need him or her the most.

The story flashes between present and past and the flashbacks convey just how great a young Lisa is for defending Elliot and being his best friend. And whereas it was Lisa who came to the rescue when they were young, it is now Elliot who is turning things around. Lisa doesn’t know he’s there to come to her rescue this time. She tries very hard to help everyone in her little family but sometimes a little help from someone else can go a long way.

Her husband, a deputy head at a school, was accused by a pupil of attacking him and since then he’s not himself anymore, taking up drinking more and more and putting a real strain on their marriage. He’s not the only one with a problem though, their children Chloe and Ben also have a very real secret, something they are struggling with and are facing all alone and it is Elliot who will help them come to terms with it as he’s always just showing up at the right time at the right place. It seems he has a sixth sense and dare I say magic skills because it looks like he knows things. It’s almost like he’s a godsend, an angel, or is he?

I knew from the beginning it was going to be ‘one of those stories’ but I didn’t really mind, it worked well here. I did think there was a lot of build-up towards the end about repaying for the past and I expected something else, something big and ominous to still happen to one of the members of Lisa’s family but I was completely wrong about that, I guess I made it worse in my own head :-). In the end it was a bittersweet ending but I couldn’t help but smile anyway. Stand By Me was a really heartwarming story of a friendship forming a bond for life. All this with a few extra sprinkles of love and a little magic. Exactly what I needed!

The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer by Joël Dicker #BookReview

Blank bookcover with clipping path


In the summer of 1994, the quiet seaside town of Orphea reels from the discovery of three murders.

Confounding their superiors, two young police officers, Jesse Rosenberg and Derek Scott crack the case and identify the killer, earning themselves handsome promotions and the lasting respect of their colleagues.

But twenty years later, just as he is on the point of taking early retirement, Rosenberg is approached by Stephanie Mailer, a journalist who believes he made a mistake back in 1994 and that the real murderer is still at liberty, perhaps ready to strike again. Before she can give any more details however, Stephanie Mailer mysteriously disappears without trace, and Rosenberg and Scott are forced to confront the awful possibility that her suspicions might have been accurate.

What happened to Stephanie Mailer?

What did she know?

And what really happened in Orphea all those years ago?

amazon uk amazon com



First of all I just want to say how great the cover is of the proof copy I received (courtesy of MacLehose Press and distributed at the Capital Crime festival 2019). I swear it’s even more gorgeous than the published novel and people even asked me if I was reading true crime (if you want to see it head over to my IG page).

Now The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer is a massive novel of 635 pages. This usually scares me so I’m not in a habit of picking a book this size but since I received a free copy and it’s really difficult (well, virtually impossible) not to see it standing in your library, I decided to gather my courage and just dive in. Before you continue I might want to say that even though I’m trying hard not to, there may or may not be spoilers ahead, so continue at your own risk :-).

In the first few pages we find ourselves witness to the first opening night of the Orphea Theater Festival of 1994 and while most people are at this event, four people will not live to see another day as they are brutally murdered. After these dreadful events we jump to 2014 where Stephanie Mailer talks to Detective Jesse Rosenberg and she tells him that he didn’t in fact solve that case in 1994, he made a mistake. Before she can talk to him again, she disappears… but the last words she spoke to him were quite memorable:

She raised her hand and placed it at the level of my eyes.
“What do you see captain?”
“Your hand”
“I was showing you my fingers.”
“But I see your hand”, I said, not understanding.
“That’s the problem right there” she said. “You saw what you wanted to see, not what you were being shown. That’s what you missed twenty years ago.”

This little statement played on my mind and I just think I’m really good at this thing or the author really underestimates his readers because 420 pages later the detective came to the same findings as I had after page 16 and the novel can finally take off.

The two cases and timelines are obviously connected, solve one and you’ll solve the other but there’s a lot to untangle and the author makes the detectives really run around. In the end I felt the denouement of the plot was clever, I never could have foreseen how things fit together and there was much more at play than I had expected but the execution was a bit slow and winding. The plot was speckled with red herrings and twists but I knew where to focus my attention to, it only wasn’t getting me anywhere and it frustrated me at the beginning that they weren’t looking where they should.

Apart from that, the other problem I encountered was that the author hammered the term ‘The Darkest Night’ into my reader’s brain so much, it started to annoy me, especially since it wasn’t clear what it meant, apart from the fact that it became some urban legend referring to THAT night in 1994. Yes, The Darkest Night is also the name of a play but after all these pages I STILL DON’T KNOW what the play is about, even when they practice the first scene of the play over and over again. The director of the play – a former police officer – is also an utterly weird guy and it didn’t feel very believable considering his previous profession. Bottomline is that the play is a big part of the story and in the end it marvelously brings all the side characters, the famous theater critic, the CEO with his mistress, the father with his daughter, back to Orphea and I was surprised when the who, how and why of the 1994 killings was revealed. Unsurprising, the final 150 pages or so were the best part of the story for me and I couldn’t put it away then, needing to know the answers and feeling I was getting closer and closer to the truth. A truth that is a real shocker after all

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher for review. This is my honest opinion.


My Mother’s Secret by Sanjida Kay #BookReview

MyMothersSecret def


You can only hide for so long…

Lizzie Bradshaw. A student from the Lake District, forced to work away from home, who witnesses a terrible crime. But who will ultimately pay the price?

Emma Taylor. A mother, a wife, and a woman with a dangerous secret. Can she keep her beloved family safely together?

Stella Taylor. A disaffected teenager, determined to discover what her mother is hiding. But how far will she go to uncover the truth?

And one man, powerful, manipulative and cunning, who controls all their destinies.

amazon uk amazon com


star three and a half

I’m not sure what’s going on with me lately but I’m still working on it to find my next top read. I really need to finish this review now because it is taking me forever to write something down and the funny part is that I actually liked the novel, I just wasn’t blown away by it. My Mother’s Secret is the second novel I read by Sanjida Kay and I do really enjoy this author’s style of writing so there is definitely that and right from the beginning the story had me hooked again. Differently from my first experience with her previous novel, The Stolen Child it didn’t have that same shocking quality though. It did have several twists but none of them really surprised me.

The story is narrated by Lizzy in the past and Emma and Stella (mother and daughter) in the present. It became clear that Emma knew things about Lizzy’s past and about her husband so I knew there was some connection, there was no denying that. Was she someone close or could it even be that she was Lizzy, but how and why? This little mystery was what actually kept me guessing the longest. Emma did make some strange decisions and I didn’t really like the way she treated her husband, seeking the company of another man. The story flowed nicely but it was all quite predictable, there was a lot of foreshadowing and I knew who everyone was before it was revealed.

There were some serious Gone Girl vibes weaved into the plot in the end and I did enjoy that part though so I’m hoping she’ll surprise me more next time, I’ll be her biggest fan again then.

I won a free copy of this novel in a Twitter giveaway. This is my honest opinion.

Mini #AudioBookReviews – liar, liar, tongue on fire!

The Last Wife audio


Two women. A dying wish. And a web of lies that will bring their world crashing down.

Nina and Marie were best friends-until Nina was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Before she died, Nina asked Marie to fulfill her final wishes.

But her mistake was in thinking Marie was someone she could trust.

What Nina didn’t know was that Marie always wanted her beautiful life, and that Marie has an agenda of her own. She’ll do anything to get what she wants.

Marie thinks she can keep her promise to her friend’s family on her own terms. But what she doesn’t know is that Nina was hiding explosive secrets of her own…

amazon uk amazon com


star three and a half

I read Karen Hamilton’s debut novel The Perfect Girlfriend in 2017 as one of the first and I couldn’t shut up about it at the time so it went without saying that I had to read – or listen to – her next novel. It did take me a while to get into the story but it was worth pushing through. I like revenge stories but sometimes it grows old to read about an obsessive jealous protagonist. Marie, the main character, seems calculated, wanting nothing else than Nina’s life who seems to have all her ducks in order. Nina has a wonderful relationship with Stuart and two children, a boy Felix and a girl Emily, until she dies. Cue Marie who sees an opportunity there… but while I thought I knew how this story was going to go it veered into a completely different direction and the past that I had overlooked at first, plays a much more important role than I initially thought and I saw literally everyone in another light by the end of the novel.

The narration of Marie’s and Camilla’s (the other woman in the picture who Marie rather want to see going than coming) voices were quite pleasant to listen to but I didn’t really like Stuart’s. The narrator (Michelle Ford) made his voice croak and he sounded much older than he should be in my head, he also spoke rather slowly, making me feel that he was a bit simple minded. It’s a small qualm but still. I know I was wrong about him though, he’s not a dumb ass and neither is Marie. My opinions about her changed greatly and I even felt sorry for her (the one I called the bitch in my head I have to admit) at a given point. She tries so hard to have Nina’s life and when she finally almost has it, only then does she realize that Nina had quite a few secrets and now she’ll have to make her own decisions if she wants to keep the secrets too. Personally, I think I’d give this 4 stars if I had read it, it had quite a few suspects and twists involved in the second part of the novel, there’s only a teensy bit more love for this author’s debut that had me hooked right away.  


HowNotToDieAlone audio


Andrew’s been feeling stuck.

For years he’s worked a thankless public health job, searching for the next of kin of those who die alone. Luckily, he goes home to a loving family every night. At least, that’s what his coworkers believe.

Then he meets Peggy.

A misunderstanding has left Andrew trapped in his own white lie and his lonely apartment. When new employee Peggy breezes into the office like a breath of fresh air, she makes Andrew feel truly alive for the first time in decades.

Could there be more to life than this?

But telling Peggy the truth could mean losing everything. For twenty years, Andrew has worked to keep his heart safe, forgetting one important thing: how to live. Maybe it’s time for him to start.

amazon uk amazon com



First of all, the narration was performed by Simon Vance and we hit it off right away, I loved the fast tempo in which he told the story. He sounded a bit on speed, going a hundred words an hour, but I liked it. You had no choice but to pay attention, there’s not a single chance that you risk a wandering mind when listening to this one. Peggy’s accent was rather special to my ears, I don’t know where she was from. It was still understandable so there were no worries but let’s just say Andrew’s voice was easier.

Secondly, I really liked Andrew’s job. He works for the city council and he has to investigate dead people’s homes, looking for evidence of next of kin in the form of letters, cards, any contact details, and also see if there are any financial statements or official documents lying around that can shed a light on their finances. I was intrigued and interested in witnessing what he came across when entering someone’s home.

I know this might sound weird but I had already thought about this before this audiobook and I actually think this could happen to me when I’m old. I think that’s why I also connected quite well with Andrew, we are actually pretty much alike. For one, he’s also in the same situation as the people of the houses he visits, he lives a very solitary life and he also happened to have told a little white lie about having a family. A white lie that is hard to keep up and is going to get him into trouble, especially as his boss is insisting at organizing dinner’s at everyone’s homes. Where is he going to find a wife and two kids in a fortnight so to speak? 

I found the story itself rather slow and not all of the characters were equally interesting or fleshed out enough. I liked the friends Andrew had online and the plotlines revolving around them, and I liked how understanding Peggy was but I didn’t care for his other colleagues or his boss at all. In the end you know how this is going to end and while the journey towards the end is just as important, I felt was just not quite so memorable as I would have liked and for once I liked the narration more than the story itself. 

New BFF: Aleks and the Books


Happy hump day! Can you believe we’re the middle of the week – again?!

Today on The Belgian Reviewer I want to introduce you to sweet, friendly and smart Aleksandra who blogs at Aleks and the Books. She’s Polish-born but settled in Britain where she resides in Cardiff. She’s a very diverse blogger and reads several genres but to start off I can already say that she also likes to read The Classics and she has compiled a list of 50 novels that she wants to read so if you want to join The Classics Club, you need to check it out (the deadline is far, far FAR away you’ll see!). She’s only started with her blog so do show her some blog love, and you can always follow her on Goodreads too. Now let’s get to know her a little better, shall we?


Name: Aleksandra

Wikipedia: Etymologically, the name is a compound of the Greek alexein; meaning ‘to defend’ and andros; meaning ‘man’. Thus it may be roughly translated as “defender of man” or “protector of man”. The name was one of the epithets given to the Greek goddess Hera and as such is usually taken to mean “one who comes to save warriors”



Birthday:  20th January

What did you study or do you study now / what is your current job?
I am currently studying English Language and German, and I’m in my 3rd year now going on Erasmus exchange to study psychology and sociology in Berlin! And hopefully in the future I will be able to do my Master’s as well.


Do you have any other hobbies?
I love running! I have run 2 half-marathons (one in the UK, one in my hometown in Poland), and a couple of 5k and 10k races. I am not a professional runner or anything like that (I am quite terrible at running tbf), I just like to be physically active, challenge myself and have fun with other people! And I also love shiny medals.

I also love nature and everything that’s connected with it. I love going out with my camera and taking pictures of the landscapes, I love hiking in the mountains (my biggest dream now is to climb Mount Kilimanjaro), I love travelling and exploring new places, and I love animals! The first photo is from one of my recent hikes in Tatra Mountains, and the photo of the waterfall is Henhryd Falls in Wales.

Photo 04   Photo 05

Do you have any pets? 
I personally don’t have a pet, but my family has a cat called Masha (it’s short for Maria in Russian). She’s British Shorthair, she’s very fluffy and cuddly, and she loves relaxing next to books.

Photo 06

Your favourite color? 
Definitely pink! But I do like pastel colours as well such as lilac, mint, pastel blue and pastel yellow.

Do you collect anything (besides books)?
I have a small collection of all the medals I earned for my races. If I’m correct, I should have seven of them, and two new ones will join our family very soon!

Photo 07

I also collect pin badges from the places I’ve been to! It’s not a big collection as I got this idea about collecting them not so long ago, but it’s such a small and nice thing to get while on holidays, and I always feel like a proper traveller when I can showcase them on my traveller’s backpack!

What’s the name of the book that you’ve had the longest? Have you read it?
I think Harry Potter series are my first books I have till this day. Soon after, I bought a complete trilogy of The Lord of the Rings which is also chilling on my bookshelf at home! I think I was around 12 or 13. I got rid of most of my books from childhood (I know I know, very silly of me), but as a kid I didn’t buy many books anyway, I preferred to borrow everything from the library.

Foto 2       Foto 1

Have you ever regretted a book you purchased? A book that sounded so promising but you wished you’d have spent your money on another book after reading it?
Oh yes… Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! I remember I got it in English when I was once visiting my family in London and I spent a fortune on that. I DIDN’T hate it, but I was so totally disappointed after finishing that I thought it was the biggest waste of money ever.

Do you listen to audio books? 
To be totally honest, I don’t like audiobooks. I’m a very visual person and I have to have raw text in front of me to fully understand the book! I even have to watch films and shows with subtitles on, I just like looking at the text I guess!

Do you have a favorite genre?
I think currently it’s historical fiction, but I also like contemporary fiction, classics and nonfiction. I like topics of identity, culture and social issues, so I don’t mind a good thriller, as long as it explores these things in even small details!

Do you read more ebooks or physical books?
I love my Kindle and it travels with me everywhere. I like how small and convenient it is to have even the biggest books in a tiny device, and it’s very useful when you don’t have to drag It by Stephen King with you on a train! I have a lot of physical books, but recently I’ve been using my Kindle much much more.

Do you have a favorite book? 
If I could only name one… My favourite book of all time is The Little Prince. It’s a universal and beautiful story and it played a really important role in my life. My second favourite book is Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I absolutely love it, I think it’s beautifully written and it’s very thought-provoking. And the third favourite book is just recently finished The Midnight Library. There are a couple of other books that are my all-time favs, but I think these three mean a lot to me and have a special place in my heart.

Foto 4

What’s the cover in your collection that you’re most proud of? 
This edition of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. For some reason I really like it, and it’s not this basic cover of a woman in a red hood that you can usually see on The Handmaid’s Tale editions! And behind it, you can see Patrick Ness’s The Knife of Never Letting Go which has red pages, how cool is that?

Photo 09

What is the book highest on your wishlist right now?
All the Light We Cannot See. I still can’t believe I haven’t read that.

How is your library organized? 

This is my shelf from my room back at home. I still haven’t read a lot of the books so most of them are unopened and fresh editions, some of them are my young adult books that I haven’t touched since I was 14, and there are quite a few poetry books as well! Most of them are in Polish, some of them are in English, there should be a couple of books in German and one edition of Harry Potter in Russian. I really wish I could show you my shelf with my books at uni, but unfortunately they are all hidden in boxes now, waiting for me to come back from my Erasmus exchange.

Photo 08

Do you have any idea how many books you own? <100, >100, >200, >300 …?
If I think about all the books I own in all the places I’ve left my books, and also including books on my Kindle, that should be definitely more than 100! I know that only in my room I have around 40 books I still haven’t read…

What’s the title of the last book you purchased? 
I bought my last books at the airport in August, and they were The Midnight Library by Matt Haig and Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge. I have already finished The Midnight Library, and the another one is on my to-read list!

Reni Eddo-Lodge is a London-based, award-winning journalist. She has written for the New York Times, the Voice, Daily Telegraph, Guardian, Independent, Stylist, the Pool, Dazed and Confused and the New Humanist. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race is her first book. It was chosen as Foyles Non-Fiction Book of the Year and Blackwell’s Non-Fiction Book of the Year, longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize and shortlisted for the Books Are My Bag Readers Award for Non-Fiction.

From which author do you have most books? 
Naturally J. K. Rowling – all 7 books of Harry Potter in Polish editions, 3 books in English (and one of them is an American edition), The Tales of Beedle the Bard, The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch through the Ages and The Casual Vacancy. Jane Austen is next and her books are in my favourite, flowery and very girly editions – and that’s Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey!

Foto 3

How many books are there on your Goodreads challenge this year and how many have you read already? 
My challenge for this year is 32 books and I’ve already finished 27 of them. I used to read much more, but since I started uni, I haven’t had much time to do well in my adult life and still read 50 books a year. But I think I’m going to change my challenge soon and add a bit more since I’m doing pretty well this year.


Can you spell your name with the first letters of titles in your book case? 

I did my best to find those books I actually made it! There was a problem with K, but if you’ll accept a title in Polish then it should all be fine The books are:

A – Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie Ngozi
L – Lion by Saroo Brierley
E – Emma by Jane Austen
K – Krew elfów (Blood of Elves in English) by Andrzej Sapkowski
S – Serena by Ron Rash


In case you missed it, here are the 5 last BFF’s (Blog Friends Forever) I posted about. You can find the tab with links to these and the previous posts on my home page.

Kelly – FromBelgiumWithBookLove
Deborah – The Reading Chick
Jonetta – The Blue Mood Cafe
Zoé – Zooloo’s Book Diary
Annelies – In Another Era

I would really really love more friends in my BFF club so give me a shout if you want to be featured! I’m especially thinking of all newbie bloggers here who we don’t know very well yet!

The Chalet by Catherine Cooper #BookReview @HarperCollinsUK @catherinecooper

Blank bookcover with clipping path


French Alps, 1998

Two young men ski into a blizzard… but only one returns.

20 years later

Four people connected to the missing man find themselves in that same resort. Each has a secret. Two may have blood on their hands. One is a killer-in-waiting.

Someone knows what really happened that day.

And somebody will pay.

amazon uk amazon com



The Chalet is a wonderful wintry novel set at the foot of the ski slopes in the French alps. The plotline jumps between two time periods following different sets of people in each storyline. In 1998 two brothers came to the Alps with their girlfriends Louise and Nell and they went skiing in very bad weather. There was an accident and only one of them made it from the mountain.

In the present two couples are spending a week at La Madière (Ria and Hugo who invited Simon and Cass with their little baby and the nanny in the hope of reigning in Simon as a new investor for Hugo’s travel agency) and Millie and Cameron (the ‘cabin girl’ who cooks and cleans and the owner of the luxurious chalet). Someone among this (not always very lovely) bunch of people is putting on a show and it becomes clear that there are some invisible ties to the past and someone has to pay for what this person believes is not an accident but murder.

The Chalet intrigued me from the word go! I was looking for someone with a hidden agenda and at least one of them seemed to fit the bill a little too perfectly but could it be that easy? It took me a long time to make up my mind but in the end I settled on a suspect, even though my conclusion didn’t even sound very logical to my own ears, there was just this thing that didn’t add up, but in the end I was still right on the money! It is only with the big reveal that everything falls in place though and it finally makes so more sense. I loved how the background story of the past bleeds so well into the present happenings and I didn’t even mind that I had a hunch who was masquerading in The Chalet because I was so engrossed in untangling the secrets in the lives of all these people. I did feel Ria and Louise were the most developed and deep of the whole cast and I liked to read about these women most of all. It felt to me that the bad guy was in this case actually a bad woman so I didn’t mind that the men’s contributions to the story were smaller or at least didn’t leave the same impression as the women’s, I was interested most of all in the women anyway. Revenge is a dish best served cold and The Chalet hits the spot.

The Chalet is a great debut with interesting characters and a decent revenge plot, and it didn’t disappoint at all. Mystifying, addictive and surprising!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley for review. This is still my honest opinion.