New BFF: Aleks and the Books

BFF

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?

QandA

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”

Age:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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

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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 Capital Crime Book Club #booksubscription #unboxing @CapitalCrime1

Capital Crime Book Club

Last year I went to the 2-day Capital Crime festival in London, which was absolutely amazing to be a part of, but unfortunately due to the COVID19-virus the 2020 event had to be postponed until next year. That doesn’t mean I can’t get excited this year though because they launched their very own Book Subscription Box this month and I have the first box!

Capital Crime 01

The Capital Crime Book Club is an affordable monthy book subscription service where subscribers receive:

  • Two carefully curated paperbacks from the crime and thriller genre.
  • Access to exclusive online author interviews with the opportunity to submit questions in advance.
  • The first to hear about the latest news and competitions in the crime and thriller community.
  • Access to the back catalog of festival content and interviews which grows every month.

Do you want to see what I received?

Capital Crime 02

I have tested a few book subscription boxes in the past but The Capital Crime Book Club is the perfect match for me!

I loved the books in this box and I’m not the kind of reader who needs much more swag than books. I really do like the pen and the (signed) postcard and that is the perfect book swag for me and they’re items I’m definitely going to use to bookmark my page and to write my reviews! The pen even has a little light in it by the way, you can even write in the dark haha.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman is a wonderful hardback edition (wow!) with beautiful endpapers and a lovely silver wolf hiding behind the dust jacket, and… saving the best part for last… it was signed! Totally unexpected but quite a bonus.

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What’s it about?

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved killings.

But when a local property developer shows up dead, ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

The four friends, Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron, might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late

The House Guest by Mark Edwards was a novel I really really wanted because I loved the author’s previous novel so much (and also because he was such a nice and kind author to me at the Capital Crime event last year) so no you’re not seeing double (well you are but… you know what I mean), I had bought the book already.

Capital Crime 04

What’s it about?

A perfect summer. A perfect stranger. A perfect nightmare.

When British twenty-somethings Ruth and Adam are offered the chance to spend the summer housesitting in New York, they can’t say no. Young, in love and on the cusp of professional success, they feel as if luck is finally on their side.

So the moment that Eden turns up on the doorstep, drenched from a summer storm, it seems only right to share a bit of that good fortune. Beautiful and charismatic, Eden claims to be a friend of the homeowners, who told her she could stay whenever she was in New York.

They know you’re not supposed to talk to strangers—let alone invite them into your home—but after all, Eden’s only a stranger until they get to know her.

As suspicions creep in that Eden may not be who she claims to be, they begin to wonder if they’ve made a terrible mistake…

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The books in this box are definitely the genre of books I like to read. Yes I had one novel already but I know it’s a real exception because I don’t buy new books very often.

The very best thing about this box is that it is finally a book box that not only ships internationally but also comes at TRULY affordable subscription prices.

You have the options to subscribe for 3, 6 or 12 months at 14,99 £/month, 12,99 £/month or 10,00 £/month if you sign up for 12 months. I received the launch box free for review but I honestly have not found any book box that looks better so I signed up for 6-months right away and I don’t want to get ahead of myself but I see myself signing up for a whole year after that even.

If you need another little nudge… the October box looks amazing too! I read What Lies Between Us digitally but I’m very happy to add the paperback to my library because I’m a big fan of the author (and there’s a big chance you’ll see this book in my top 10 favourite list of the year)! I can’t wait to read Remember Me either, it has received top reviews.

Some might say that there’s no surprise in what you’re getting but I rather have the organizer share the books than seeing a million unboxings from other bloggers before having the chance to open the box myself and get that surprise. No I’d rather have it this way then.

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So there you go. Would you be happy with the September/October box? Which one do you prefer? 

If you love both boxes (like me) then I wouldn’t hesitate any longer and join the book club (they have the coolest members ;-)). You can find out all about the scheme and sign up at the Capital Crime Website here.

New BFF: In Another Era

BFF

Hi guys! Remember this feature ;)?

It’s been a year but I finally made a new wonderful blog friend! Annelies blogs over at In Another Era and she’s from Belgium too! Some of the things I learned about her so far is that she loves a minimalistic lifestyle, she’s addicted to chocolate and eats it every day (yes girl!! Also, is this a Belgian thing I wonder?), she’s a control freak, very creative and she can still remember the first latin words she learned in school (the little bunny cries). My admiration only grows now because I can’t even remember what I ate yesterday. Anywayyy if you want to hear more about my interesting blogfriend, do keep on reading to hear the rest of our talk.

Name: Annelies

This is me:

Age: I’m 27

Birthday: Born on August 26

I’m just too late then to celebrate your birthday on my blog…

What did you study or do you study now / what is your current job? I have a master’s degree in business communication sciences and I did a postgraduate in Advertising. I’m currently working as a marketing strategist in a web agency in the beautiful city of Leuven in Belgium. We want to make the world, and especially the internet, a better place. That’s why we only work for companies that want to make a good and sustainable impact on society. I work for all different kinds of clients and projects and I have a wonderful bunch of colleagues.

Do you have any other hobbies?

I love travelling to other countries and visiting museums. Here’s two photos taken during my travels in Paris and Valencia, and the other photos in this blogpost were taken in Berlin and Malta.

I go to my dancing classes twice a week. I love watching cycling and especially cyclocross (which is a typical Belgian sport). And apart from that, you can find me walking in the woods or playing with my cats. I also love blogging. I am writing on a Dutch personal blog for more than 5 years now and it really empties my mind to just write about what keeps me busy. And now it was time for an English counterpart focused on my love for books and history.

Do you have any pets?
At the moment I have 12 cats. I know! It wasn’t a deliberate choice. They’re all street cats that were dumped by their owners or kittens from dumped cats. More than 9 of them are above 10 years old so sometimes it feels like I’m living in an elderly home for cats :). I love my cats dearly, but when I will be moving in a few years I don’t know if I want to have some of my own. It breaks my heart when I lose them.

I was able to get 5 of them in one picture :-), they’re the eldest and all siblings.

The cat’s names are: Felix (Feke), Whiskas (Wiske), Toyke, Aico, Gigi, Gimber, Domino (Doke), Fleur, Nette, Lela, Jetta and Simba.

Your favourite color?
Yellow. It’s just a bright and happy color.

   

Hmmm I think I know a few bloggers (but at least one in particular) who looove yellow too!

OK raise your hand if you like yellow 🙂

Do you collect anything (besides books)? 
I don’t collect any stuff. I have a minimalistic mindset. You might be disappointed in a few instances if you see my book collection :).

What’s the name of the book that you’ve had the longest? Have you read it?
That will be a bundle of fairytale stories my grandparents used to read me every day (I was with them before and after school). I believe it was a collection of the brothers Grimm, but I also had a book with nice illustrations and stories about animals. I loved that book.

Jacob Ludwig Karl Grimm, German philologist, jurist and mythologist, was born at Hanau, in Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel). He is best known as the discoverer of Grimm’s Law, the author of the monumental German Dictionary, his Deutsche Mythologie and more popularly, with his brother Wilhelm, as one of the Brothers Grimm, as the editor of Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

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?
Probably, but I’m picky when I purchase a book for my own shelves. So mostly it’s a considered choice. I can’t name a book that I regretted purchasing by heart now.

Do you listen to audio books?

No. My boyfriend is an avid podcast listener and I’m trying for some years now to incorporate that habit in my life also. But I don’t seem to succeed. I’m the kind of person who wants to combine listening to a book with something else, but I also want to give my full attention to the story… So that just doesn’t work out.

When I was a child, I had some cassettes with fairytales (I know, I was raised on fairy tales) that I could listen to for hours. But I’ve lost that habit apparently.

Do you have a favorite genre?
Easy one! Historical fiction is my favorite genre, hence the name of the blog. I love to read stories about times when life was more difficult than now. I just hate these contemporary books where the main characters’s only worry is the fact that her lover didn’t text back just yet.

No, let me read about ancient kingdoms or medieval cities where people have to travel for months to reach their family or lover. Full of adventure, war, drama and real romance.

What is the book highest on your wishlist right now?
I guess that would be the new Elizabeth Freemantle, named ‘the honey and the sting‘. I have all her books in my library and this cover is so pretty.

How is your library organized?
By color and a bit by genre. So all non-fiction books are on one shelf and then my historical fiction collection takes already a few shelfs. I also have my magazines and personal photo albums, my travel guides, some random books… I need more space, ok? :D.

I’m currently building my own house and there will be an office room with walls purely dedicated to become book shelfs. My boyfriend also has a fair collection of books (he reads mostly thrillers and detectives), so we’ll need some space for that. I’d love to work between my piles of books.

Do you read more ebooks or physical books?
I only have a Kindle for a month now, so I still read a lot of physical books. I love to go the library to discover new books and sometimes read another genre. The library is around the corner of my office and has a vast collection, both Dutch and English. But due to the pandemic I am working from home for some time now, so that’s why I bought a Kindle and thus for the moment I’m reading more ebooks.

Do you have a favorite book?
Yes and no. It changes constantly. But if I should choose one, it would be Augustus from John Williams. That book could be a direct translation from one of the ancient Latin texts. It’s so real and written with so much respect for the Roman era. I just love it. I really believe studying Latin made me become such as history lover and also learned me to appreciate different languages and styles of writing.

Synopsis: Augustus is a sweeping narrative that brings vividly to life a compelling cast of historical figures through their letters, dispatches, and memoirs.

A mere eighteen years of age when his uncle, Julius Caesar, is murdered, Octavius Caesar prematurely inherits rule of the Roman Republic. Surrounded by men who are jockeying for power–Cicero, Brutus, Cassius, and Mark Antony–young Octavius must work against the powerful Roman political machinations to claim his destiny as first Roman emperor. Sprung from meticulous research and the pen of a true poet, Augustus tells the story of one man’s dream to liberate a corrupt Rome from the fancy of the capriciously crooked and the wildly wealthy

“One does not deceive oneself about the consequences of one’s acts; one deceives oneself about the ease with which one can live with those consequences.”
― John Williams, Augustus

What’s the cover in your collection that you’re most proud of?
I don’t think many people will agree, but I love the cover of ‘the sins of the house of Borgia‘. Yes, it’s with a nude woman and appeals to an erotic topic. But I love the colors and the gold on the letters. I just find it a very beautiful and attractive cover. Let me, please 😀

The book is also more about life at the Ferrara court in the 15th century, then about the Borgias. Highly recommended (it also goes by the alternative title ‘the book of love’)!

I’m also in love with my deluxe edition of the seven works of Jane Austen. You can slay someone with that book I believe, as it is so so big. And the font is really small. So it took me some years to finish her whole oeuvre, but now I can say I read every Jane Austen book. (Bonus answer: Sense & sensibility is my favorite and I hated Emma so much I could hit her).

Do you have any idea how many books you own? <100, >100, >200, >300 …?
I believe it will be above 100 books, but no more than 200. My mum also has a library in her room that we share. I have never counted them.

What’s the title of the last book you purchased?
I bought The silken rose by Carol MCGrath as a kindle ebook. It’s about Eleanor Of Provence. I’m excited to start reading it.

What was your favorite author when you were a child?
Patrick Lagrou, a Flemish author of children books. His most famous work is also translated in English as ‘Born among the Dolphins‘. Maybe someone here has heard of it?

From which author do you have most books?
I have no idea. I think it will be Tatiana De Rosnay, Elizabeth Freemantle or Joanna Hickson that I own the most books from. But I have copies of a lot of different authors. And I read so many stories from the library that I have no idea about my most read author (and Goodreads deleted that stat apparantly).

Are there books you’ve read 2 or 3 times?
A few, I reread books when I was younger. But now, there are so many books and so little time… There are a lot of books and classics that I want to reread but a new book always appeals to me more in some way.

How many books are there on your Goodreads challenge this year and how many have you read already?
Compared to other book bloggers, I don’t read a lot of books. Building your home by yourself while working full-time is not the best combination for your reading time. I can promise you that :D.

My Goodreads challenge says I need to read 35 books and secretly I hope to finish around 40. My best reading year was 2018, when I read 40 books. At the moment I have read 23 books this year and I’m 2 books ahead on schedule. To my defense, I read books with an average length above 450 pages, so at the end of the year I have read a lot of pages. Sometimes more than fellow Dutch bloggers who read 10 books more. It’s the quality of the books that counts (and I just like big books).

I would be happy to connect on Goodreads by the way.

Can you spell your name with the first letters of titles in your book case? 
I’m blessed to have a long name :D.

A column of fire by Ken Follett
Nancy Bilyeau – The crown
Northhanger abbey by Jane Austen
Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman
Lynn Andrews – the queen’s promise
I Mona Lisa by Jeanne Kalogridis
Elizabeth Freemantle – The queen’s gambit
Sunne in splendour by Sharon Kay Penman

And that’s a wrap for today! This was so much fun again. Thank you soooo much Annelies for participating!

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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.

Alexandra – Alexandra Wolfe
Kelly – FromBelgiumWithBookLove
Deborah – The Reading Chick
Jonetta – The Blue Mood Cafe
Zoé – Zooloo’s Book Diary

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!

Same book, different cover #14

battle-of-the-books

Happy hump day!

I’m back with 5 new book covers to pick and choose your favorite one. This is just for fun so there are no wrong answers! OK, I’ll go first, then it’s up to you:

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

The Turn of the Key 01  The Turn of the Key 02  The TUrn of the Key 03

I have cover 2 and I’m also going with that one. I like how big the font is, it’s so in your face that it feels like that’s the most ominous of all the covers.

The Suspect by Lesley Kara

The Suspect 01  The Suspect 02  The Suspect 03

Even though I have the second one, I actually like the first cover most of all. There’s just something about a message slipped beneath a door…

Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louise 

DearEmmieBlue  Dear Emmie Blue

They do look alike but I still like the first one more, it’s much clearer this way.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

AGoodGirlsGuidetoMurder 02   AGoodGirlsGuidetoMurder

That’s easy as well, I definitely choose cover 2! The first is too chaotic for me and the second is much organised and nicer to look at.

The Holdout by Graham Moore 

TheHoldout  The Holdout 02

Not so easy but I think cover 1. It’s a really clear image, one person is holding them up and I also like that they chose a different colour to make it even clearer.

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So that’s it. Tell me your thoughts! If you can’t get enough, check out my previous post in the series: Battle Of The Books #13 

Also don’t forget to check out the Secret Library Book Blog where Nicki regularly holds a book battle with AUDIObooks.

Q&A with Tom Bale, author of the ultimate summer thriller ‘Survive’ @t0mbale

Author spotlight 2

On the blog today I’m very happy to welcome Tom Bale, a British author who has written eleven novels so far, including the great titles See How They Run and All Fall Down. Today, however, the spotlight is on his shiny new novel Survive which is claimed to be the ultimate summer thriller.

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My review will be up this weekend but until then I hope you’ll enjoy the interview I had with the very kind author. You’ll see that I wasn’t shy asking him about his favorite holiday destination and preferred drink, so if you want to know all, by all means keep on reading!

QandA

1. Can you tell me briefly what your latest novel Survive is about?

Survive is the story of Sam and Jody, a young couple with two children, taking their first ever foreign holiday. They’re expecting a week of all-inclusive luxury, but instead they end up fighting for their lives.

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2. What inspired you to write this novel, it’s a bit different from your other novels, isn’t it?

It is quite different, yes. I saw it from the beginning as an allegory of sorts, driven by anger and frustration at various news stories illustrating how the one percent treat the rest of us. I was also influenced by a Graham Greene novel, Dr Fischer of Geneva, which has essentially the same theme. As the idea formed, I drew on real-life experiences of holidays with my family – including the rather frightening incident at the start of the novel – and I also sought to create the otherworldly feel that I remembered from John Fowles’ The Magus, a novel that had a big impact on me when I read it as a teenager.

3. The location in the novel is an idyllic island named Sekliw. Did you base it on a real place? I was thinking of Malta when I read it, but I could be completely wrong and it could well be purely fiction as well of course.

The nature of the story meant it had to be a completely fictional island, but when I described it I was thinking of various locations in southern Europe – Greek islands, Cyprus and so on. I’ve never been to Malta, but it sounds like that would make a suitable candidate as well.

(There’s also a clue in the island’s name as to another of the books that inspired me: reverse the word and think Stephen King!)

4. I felt that Jody was the stronger person in the novel, often taking the lead instead of the usual ‘alpha man’. What were your thoughts for this unusual plotline?

To me it was a natural reflection of many relationships that I’ve known and witnessed, especially those involving the parents of young children. Very often the woman is the stronger of the two, the key decision maker, even if that’s not always immediately obvious to others. I also thought it would make for a more interesting dynamic if Sam is less at home in the holiday environment, given that as a society we often still expect the man to take the lead and be the more dominant partner. But once they’re in danger, I think it becomes more balanced. Jody and Sam are both strong at different times and weak at others, and most importantly they have to work together to protect their children.

Tom Hanks

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OK time for some slightly different questions now, inspired by the novel 🙂

5. What is your favorite holiday destination? Do you like an active vacation and do you sign up with a rep (like Gabby (Gabrielle) in Survive) right away or do you like exploring on your own, or perhaps you prefer to relax at the pool all day?

When my children were little we had some wonderful holidays where we signed up for the excursions and the kids took part in daytime activities and loved watching the evening entertainment. Nowadays I’m more likely to favour a quiet beach where I can read and swim in peace. My favourite destination has to be Greece – I’ve been to half a dozen islands and several different places on the mainland, and every single time it was a wonderful, idyllic experience.

6. Which books would you take with you if you were going on holiday next week and why did you pick these?

I love choosing books to take on holiday – and no matter how many I take, I always go mad and buy several more at the airport! Right now I’d go with Masked Prey, the latest book from my favourite thriller writer, John Sandford. For non-fiction I’d take Putin’s People by Catherine Belton, partly because the issues I explored in Survive are more relevant than ever. Finally, a book I’m about to re-read after many years: Sandmouth People by Ronald Frame, which is an evocative, multi-layered story set in the quintessential seaside town.

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7. If you were dropped on a deserted island, which 3 items would you take with you?

I know it ought to be food and drink, but my first thought is a large library of books. My second is a large collection of music – perhaps a solar powered MP3 player? And my third would be a speedboat – but failing that, a solar powered fridge full of beer and chocolate!

8. Do you have ANY survival skills? Basically, are you a Jody (with some skills) or a Sam (not so skilled) and would you be able to survive if put to the test?

I don’t really have any survival skills – I was never in the boy scouts, for one thing. But I’m a fairly practical person, and years of plotting out stories has made me a pretty good problem solver. I suspect I’d be okay at building a shelter and finding a way to collect water, but useless when it came to identifying edible plants or berries, let alone catching and cooking fish.

9. OK let’s round up with a more positive note than thoughts of death. What is your favorite cocktail to drink on holiday? 

I don’t really drink spirits, so I’m more likely to take a sip of someone else’s just to try it out, and then return to my ice cold beer!

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Huge thanks to Tom for taking the time to answer my questions!

Anyone already having second thoughts too about that all-in holiday? If not, I’ll ask again after you read the novel 😉

Same book, different cover #13

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I’m back with 5 new book covers to pick and choose your favorite one. This is just for fun so there are no wrong answers! OK, I’ll go first, then it’s up to you:

Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain

Dirty Little Secrets 01  Dirty Little Secrets 02

I choose cover number 2. It feels much more ominous and makes me wonder what goes on in that house.

The Rumour by Lesley Kara

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Definitely cover 2, it’s so telling of the gossip at the school gate, which is how the whole story starts.

Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Force of Nature 02   Force of Nature

Difficult! The first gives me strong ideas about it being in the wilderness and forest, the second one is more open but looks like it really is the storm that could be dangerous for the chances to survive with nowhere to hide. After careful weighing of both, I stick to cover 2.

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Sometimes I Lie 02  Sometimes I Lie

That’s easy, I definitely choose cover 2! I love the two sides represented like this. She’s not Alice falling down a rabbit hole, is she?

The Sight of You by Holly Miller 

The Sight Of You The Sight Of You 02

Oh I was sold as soon as I saw the first cover and that hasn’t changed. It feels like I’m getting an emotional story, especially with a tagline like that, whereas the second one only screams romance to me.

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So that’s it. Tell me your thoughts! If you can’t get enough, check out my previous post in the series: Battle Of The Books #12 

Also don’t forget to check out the Secret Library Book Blog where Nicki holds a book battle with some AUDIObooks.

 

Same book, different cover #12

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I might have stopped doing these post but I did continue to collect covers of books I read or are on my readlist. So I’m finally back today with 5 new book covers to pick and choose your favorite one. This is just for fun so there are no wrong answers! OK, I’ll go first, then it’s up to you:

Forget My Name by J.S. Monroe

Forget My Name Forget My Name 02

Hmm difficult because it feels basically like it’s the same cover, although it’s not because if you look closely you see the woman is not in the window of the second cover. It took me a minute to even notice this to be honest. Anyway, I think I’ll go for the first one because in this case the woman feels even more intriguing.

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

The Escape Room 02  The Escape Room 03  The Escape Room

I love the first cover! The last one feels too clinical and makes me think it’s more of a sci-fi read and the second cover is very dark but also makes me think of a chase in the woods and the novel is a locked-room mystery so that doesn’t really give the right impression for me.

Never Tell by Lisa Gardner

never tell 02  never tell 01

I choose the second cover here. The first one makes me think I’m going to read a memoir of a ballerina or something. I also really like the tagline which flows so naturally into the book title.

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

The Craftsman The Craftsman 01 The Craftsman 02 The Craftsman 03

I love the first and second cover most of all. The third cover is okay but I’ve seen this figure plenty of times on covers already, and it doesn’t even appear in the novel at all.. it should be a clay effigy if they want to do it right. The fourth novel looks like an ’80s novel, that one doesn’t attract me at all.

Watching from the Dark by Gytha Lodge

WatchingFromTheDark 02 WatchingFromTheDark

I prefer the second cover again. I totally get the first cover, although I had to think it through. It’s the spyhole in a door, right, or am I seeing things now? I think I’d like it more if it didn’t have these colours, it gives me more of a YA fantasy vibe. The second cover isn’t really so special, but I still like it, and also the typesetting feels better in this one.

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So that’s it. Tell me your thoughts! If you can’t get enough, check out Battle Of The Books #1 – #2#3 – #4 – #5#6 – #7#8#9#10#11

Also don’t forget to check out the Secret Library Book Blog where Nicki holds a book battle with some AUDIObooks 🙂

I Am Dust by Louise Beech #BookReview

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A haunted theatre
A murdered actress
Three cursed teenagers
A secret that devastates them all…

The Dean Wilson Theatre is believed to be haunted by a long-dead actress, singing her last song, waiting for her final cue, looking for her killer…

Now Dust, the iconic musical, is returning after twenty years. But who will be brave enough to take on the role of ghostly goddess Esme Black, last played by Morgan Miller, who was murdered in her dressing room?

Theatre usher Chloe Dee is caught up in the spectacle. As the new actors arrive, including an unexpected face from her past, everything changes. Are the eerie sounds and sightings backstage real or just her imagination? Is someone playing games?

Is the role of Esme Black cursed? Could witchcraft be at the heart of the tragedy? And are dark deeds from Chloe’s past about to catch up with her? Not all the drama takes place onstage. Sometimes murder, magic, obsession and the biggest of betrayals are real life. When you’re in the theatre shadows, you see everything.

And Chloe has been watching…

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As you all probably well know by now, I’m not very attracted to the supernatural, and the mention of witches, magic or ghosts in a novel makes me shiver horribly, and usually not how I want it to. But, newsflash!, this novel was able to enthrall me, and I really have to credit the wonderful author for being able to do so. I Am Dust is very, very different from the psychological thriller Call Me Stargirl, which was my first novel by this author and made me an instant fan, and is much more of a mix between mystery and teenage drama with a good dash of gothic, BUT it’s equally hard to put down and the ending was as heartbreaking as ever.

The story is told over two timelines, perfectly balancing scenes in the present and past. Both timelines keep you alert and I felt even more excited to see that links to the past gradually start to shimmer through in the present when Chloé starts to remember the game she played. For one or the other obscure reason – and believe me this novel is drenched in darkness and obscurity – Chloé doesn’t remember a lot about the time she spent with Jess and Ryan in 2005. I know I have a faulty memory at the best of times but that’s nothing compared to the big black hole in Chloé’s memory. When she hears that the musical Dust is being revived and especially when she sees who will be the lead actress who will have to tread in the footsteps of the murdered actress of the first show, it starts to jog her memory and little by little memories start to surface, unsettling memories, which might perhaps give an answer to the question why she has to wear long sleeves even at summer time and how it all ended between the three of them back in 2005 when they were such good friends and why they have no contact in the present.

I Am Dust is so much more than a ghost story, it is also a story of unrequited love, jealousy and betrayal. I really loved the atmosphere of the novel, the gloomy light of a few single candles, the board with its Welcome and Goodbye sign, the moving of the glass with the tip of their finger (or even without the use of their finger), the internal debate whether Chloe is some kind of a witch with special powers or not… but I was happy to find the story was also serving my appetite for a conventional story at the same time and the murder mystery and the issues at play between the three of them made it all the more addictive.

‘I’m still here; I am dust.
I’m those fragments in the air,
the gold light dancing there,
that breeze from nowhere.’

I’m not one for ghost stories but those words, lyrics actually from the musical in the book that plays such a huge role, are so beautiful. I loved that they were repeated often throughout the story so that I could read them over and over again.

In the end I felt nothing short of bereft and I wasn’t expecting to feel this way. I finally had the HUGELY surprising answer who killed Morgan Miller but even more than that I was caught in the emotional rollercoaster of Chloe, Jess and Ryan’s story because Louise Beech certainly knows how to write a hard-hitting ending. I had no idea I was so deep under its spell until I felt my heart bleed. I so wish I had discovered this author sooner and had listened to the words of praise from everyone from the start. Don’t be me, so just get one of her books, I’m sure they are all amazing. Ah, now let me read that poem one last time, it felt special before but even more special now that I finished it.

I received a free paper copy of this novel from the publisher, Orenda Books. This is still my honest opinion.

4 years of blogging: my highlights

Celebrating

Hi people! Yesterday was a special day for two reasons. First of all I handed over the keys to the home I had for 20 years. I’m ok and fine, the day before my move last week was a difficult one but it was all better after a good night’s sleep. I found a temporary location with a bit of a change in scenery (I’m not used to seeing traffic and pedestrians all the time so I’m glued to the window instead of my cat who doesn’t care too much) and I’m hoping to move to my own apartment somewhere in April. I haven’t seen my books since the end of December and I miss them, so fingers crossed! I also found a very cool bookcase that I’m thinking about. I don’t have a lot of space for it (I think 150m is max length) so my options are limited and this is playful which is why I like it… If you have other ideas I’m always happy to hear them, now is the time :-).

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Anyway, you’re not here to hear about my personal affairs today, so the other news is that the blog also turned four yesterday whoohoo!

It’s been such an adventure these past years and so many things happened to me that I still can’t believe. I’ve always been a person who lacks confidence, I can’t help it, but now, even at work, they say I’m more confident. They probably think it grew naturally but I really believe it’s all thanks to blogging and the kind words I hear every week, even daily from so many lovely people.

In the past four years I have received so many wonderful and amazing novels, from authors, publishers, even other bloggers that I’d never have been able to read otherwise. Books have an average price of 20 euro here (well you can usually have a party like it’s 19,99) so I could never buy all the books I want to read and be up to date and able to talk books with my fellow readers without help. Libraries here also lack a serious selection of English books and we still don’t have any systems like Overdrive (they give you an ereader with some 30 books on it if you want to read digital but it’s also very limited), so I can only be very very grateful for every single book I receive this way. Also, bookpost is just amazing, a letter addressed to you that isn’t a bill is just thrilling, it NEVER EVER grows old.

I’ve had bookpost arrive here (I always give my work address because my mailbox at home was too small for some books) that was just an empty envelope, I had envelopes without my last name (lucky there’s only 2 possibilities out of 250 people here), without the company name, even with my blog name written on it. I’ve seen it all 🙂

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I was quoted in several novels (written by bestselling authors such as Riley Sager and Johana Gustawsson), and my real name was even mentioned in the acknowledgements by the very sweet Carole Wyer.

The appreciation is so big, every time I see a comment like this my day is made! Orenda Books is an amazing publishing company and Karen is so sweet…

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… and her authors are as sweet as she is!

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One of my first followers on Twitter was the great Peter James and since then many lovely authors and bloggers found my profile and want to see what I like, love and hate. I feel blessed that so many people want to be my friend!

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It feels amazing that I HAVE THE POWER to make people want to read the same novel I read. I find it difficult in real life to put my emotions into words and express myself, but appearantly if it comes to books, people do get me 😉 and you get reactions like these:

About The Guestlist:

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About Passengers:

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About Call Me Star Girl:

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About Blackberry and Wild Rose:

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About The Lion Tamer Who Lost:

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So many lovely words and it’s no surprise these people are my bestest blogfriends (there was a time that I did BFF posts and of course they had to be part of it).

Thanks to my fantastic decision to start blogging I also met a few magnificent people in real life: Kathy, Meggy, Zoe, Ronnie, Danielle, Jen, Vanessa, Marina… Each and every one touched my heart and I’m grateful to have met all of them because they bring me happy memories every time I think of the meet-up. I also never had imagined me going to a book event IN ANOTHER COUNTRY where everyone likes to read just as much I do. It was so memorable and a highlight not only of those 4 years but for eh ‘all’ the years of my life so far.

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So, thank you for reading, for being here for me and with me. I thought about stopping with my blog the past year but when I see this all for myself now, I don’t think I can. I might be a little quiet for a few more weeks, or months, but once the dust has settled, I hope to get back into the swing of it. So till later!

When The Time Comes by Adele O’Neill #BookReview #BlogTour

WhenTheTimeComes

Welcome to my stop for When The Time Comes by Adele O’Neill. Thanks so much to Aria Fiction for the invitation to join this blog tour! I don’t review on blog tours very much but this one sounded so good that I grabbed the chance right away. So I’m sharing a review today but first a little more info about the book.

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Her husband says it’s suicide. The police say it’s murder.

Liam Buckley was a married man with two teenage children when he moved out of the family home to start a new life with his lover. His wife Jennifer never forgave him, but now she needs him to come back: she’s been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and the kids can’t cope alone.

One day after Liam moves home, Jennifer is found dead. Liam thinks it’s suicide. But the police, led by DS Louise Kennedy, are convinced it’s murder.

Liam hires a retired detective to help prove his innocence, but it’s no easy task. The children are distraught, and Jennifer’s best friend, Sarah, is waging a campaign against Liam, determined to expose him for a liar and a cheat.

As secrets surface from the complex web of Buckley family life, DS Kennedy must decide. Did Jennifer Buckley end her own life, or did Liam take it from her? The answer, when it comes, will shock them all…

Purchase

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

Author

thumbnail_AdeleO'Neill[1]

Adele is a writer from Co. Wicklow who lives with her husband Alan and her two teenage daughters. Influenced by writers across all genres she has a particular fondness for fiction that is relatable and realistic.

Her debut novel was awarded The Annie McHale Debut Novel Award for 2017 and is a character driven story of survival, dark family secrets and sibling loyalty, just like life. Her second novel Behind A Closed Door is another emotionally harrowing tale of impossible choices, loyalty and friendship.

Adele writes overlooking the Irish Sea, which she credits for the tumultuous dynamics in the relationships and lives of her unsuspecting characters in her third novel, When The Time Comes, another dark tale that tests the lengths we go to protect the ones we love.

Connect

Twitter: @adelesbooks
Facebook: @adeleoneillbooks

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I only found out this was the third novel in a detective series after I finished reading the novel. Louise’s life did make out part of the story so I presume there are still things I don’t know about her and her partner but I never had a feeling of not knowing enough. I can say that the author wrote about the investigators in a realistic way and there were ups and downs in their personal life too. Some readers may find it distracting from the main story, it is sort of a side story after all, but I liked seeing them as people with real problems too, Louise wasn’t a detective in the abstract sense after a while anymore.

I might say I could see the novel as divided in three parts. The first was about the side characters mostly, Liam and Alex and Louise and (Tony) Kelly. Then came the part about Jennifer, which built up to the trial in the third part of the novel.

When The Time Comes is a novel that tells the reader everything about Jennifer Buckley, her ex-husband Liam and their two children Josh and Abbie. By extention there’s also Liam’s new lover involved and her sister, who happens to be the detective who becomes involved in the case. There’s quite a few characters but I like how they’re all linked and it didn’t pose any problems following who’s who. The only thing that threw me at the start and I had to get a bit used to were two of the character’s names, because Alex is more often a guy’s name here and Kelly is always a girl and in this story it’s the other way around (well Kelly is a last name but for some reason it’s the only character whose first name is only mentioned once).

I thought that the focus of the novel would be largely on the murder investigation and the question whether Liam – suspect numero uno – did or didn’t kill his ex-wife but the author kept me in suspense as the investigation is mostly covered in the final part of the novel. Although this was of course what I was waiting for and therefore one of my favorite parts of the novel, I also became more invested in the family themselves in the build up to the trial.

When The Time Comes was almost more of a family drama than a murder mystery, well if it was a murder in the first place that is because Jennifer Buckley was pro euthanasia and didn’t make it a secret exactly. She hated that the motor neurone disease she’d been diagnosed with left her feeling more trapped  in her body with each passing day. She called it the 1000 day disease and when 900 of them passed she made arrangements for her children to be looked after by their father. It meant Liam moved back in to take care of them but as soon as he did she wound up dead. Coincidence? I think not ;-).

The impact of her disease and the consequences on everyone around her were prominent and made me care for this little family. The novel deals with some emotional and hard topics but it was still very enjoyable and easy to read.

At first I wondered who would have killed her, or helped her to kill herself, but after a while I had nothing more than a hunch to go on about what happened. The way the truth was revealed left me with a smile on my face though, quite clever from the author!

Follow Aria

Website: http://www.ariafiction.com
Twitter: @aria_fiction
Facebook: @ariafiction
Instagram: @ariafiction

*** Don’t forget to check out the rest of the book tour ***