Win by Harlan Coben #BookReview @PenguinUKBooks

Win def

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Over twenty years ago, heiress Patricia Lockwood was abducted during a robbery of her family’s estate, then locked inside an isolated cabin for months. Patricia escaped, but so did her captors, and the items stolen from her family were never recovered.

Until now.

On New York’s Upper West Side, a recluse is found murdered in his penthouse apartment, alongside two objects of note: a stolen Vermeer painting and a leather suitcase bearing the initials WHL3. For the first time in years, the authorities have a lead not only on Patricia’s kidnapping but also on another FBI cold case – with the suitcase and painting both pointing them towards one man.

Windsor Horne Lockwood III – or Win as his few friends call him – doesn’t know how his suitcase and his family’s stolen painting ended up in this dead man’s apartment. But he’s interested – especially when the FBI tell him that the man who kidnapped his cousin was also behind an act of domestic terrorism, and that he may still be at large.

The two cases have baffled the FBI for decades. But Win has three things the FBI does not: a personal connection to the case, a large fortune, and his own unique brand of justice …

amazon uk amazon com

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I’m not one of Harlan Coben’s long-time fans but I really want to become one! This novel is an absolute WINner (yes that couldn’t be helped)!

I haven’t read the 11 books in Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar series where Win makes his appearance but that clearly isn’t imperative for enjoying this novel. I do have to say that I am a little curious about Myron himself because he’s talked about on several occasions but he doesn’t make an appearance in this novel. I’m mentioning this to keep the die hard fans from being disappointed ;-). I was happy though that the story really focuses on Win in the first novel of this brand new series.

Win (full name Windsor Horne Lockwood III) is as his name suggests as rich as croesus. He also has class and style and he might come across as a snob because who in the world answers the phone with ‘Articulate’, but aside from that I knew that deep down he is essentially a good guy, someone who will take action for the weak, even if his methods tend to be a bit violent sometimes. He’s charismatic, witty and he has a good dose of self confidence but he gets away with everything for me. Win is an awesome character to come across, he’s very well described and I enjoyed getting to know him throughout the novel.

I would not dare to say much about the complex plot except that it is kept intriguing at all times and I had no idea how the different subplots could end up fitting together. While there is progress on one front continually, other aspects of the story remain delightfully incomprehensible until Win’s tenacity pays off in the end. Over the course of the novel he dives into a story of terrorism in the seventies where a group of youngsters who became known as The Jane Street 6 threw a Molotov cocktail causing the deaths of several, as well as into his own family history and what happened with his cousin when she was 18 and the death of her father on the same night.

I marvel at the way the author used an abduction, an art heist and the murder of a recluse, all over the span of several decades, and made them very logically come together in the end. It’s a very clever and ingenious plot indeed!

I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this but I enjoyed this mystery novel decidedly more than I did the Netflix series The Stranger (I actually found it ok to watch at the time but it is nothing compared to this)! A very promising start to a brand new series! I for one can’t wait to read the next one!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher Century. This is as always my honest opinion.

Same book, different cover #15

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

Lost You by Haylen Beck

Lost You 02  Lost You

I don’t have to think long about this, I think the second novel’s title pops out more and the first one has mostly dull colours on the cover so cover 2.

The Strangers We Know by Pip Drysdale

TheStrangersWeKnow TheStrangersWeKnow 02

Cover nr 1. I know we’ve seen a lot of covers of buildings with lit windows before but I quite like this one, it makes me wonder who is in the window. The second cover makes me think about someone who isn’t who she says she is but I read the book and it’s definitely not the main character, she is the victim here, it is her husband who she suspects of lying and cheating so I might like it for another book but I don’t find it fitting for this one.

The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney

The Perfect Wife 01  The Perfect Wife 02

Hmm… I feel the second one has more sci-fi and a cold feel than the first but I like that the first one shows the woman in a mirror image, and in the novel there’s also a duplicate (robot) Abbie. I’m not entirely convinced but my ultimate choice goes to cover 1.

You Are Not Alone by Greet Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

You Are Not Alone 01  You Are Not Alone 02  You Are Not Alone 03

Definitely the second one! I like that there’s someone behind the first person, and I also like the yellow on the blue font, it gives the novel more of a contrast than the third one, which I also like but not as much as the second cover.

Dear Child by Romy Hausmann

Dear Child 02  Dear Child

I’m going for cover 2, I find the grown-up version with the hint of a prison (at least I see bars) much more intriguing.Line

So that’s it. Tell me your thoughts! If you can’t get enough, check out Battle Of The Books – #14

Also don’t forget to check out the Secret Library Book Blog where Nicki holds a book battle with AUDIObooks (and she held a special Christmas edition in December).

My top 10 favorite books of 2020

My top 10 favorite books of 2020

Every single year it’s such a difficult decision to make! I read so many great books this year and I have at least 20 titles that I want on my list. I finally (after changing titles two more times) made a selection among my 4 and 5 star reads and here are 10 favourite reads:

My top 10 involves: Two romance novels and 8 thrillers OR 7 paperbacks and 3 e-books OR two young adult novels and 8 contemporary adult novels OR 7 proof copies and 3 books I bought myself (What Lies Between Us was in my Capital Crime book club box too so actually 4 books I bought myself then). A bit diverse but overall my favorite genre (thrillers) and format (paperback) takes up the majority again.

If you’re a fan of lists you can also check out my favorite books of the previous years: 2019201820172016

So any thoughts about my list? Are any of the titles I listed in your top 10 as well?

The Spiral by Iain Ryan #BookReview #Netgalley #DNF

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Erma Bridges’ life is far from perfect, but entirely ordinary. So when she is shot twice in a targetted attack by a colleague, her quiet existence is shattered in an instant.

With her would-be murderer dead, no one can give Erma the answers she needs to move on from her trauma. Why her? Why now?

So begins Erma’s quest for the truth – and a dangerous, spiralling journey into the heart of darkness.

With all the inventiveness of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle and the raw brutality of Mulholland Drive, THE SPIRAL is a unique crime thriller with killer twists – and 2020’s most jaw-dropping ending.

amazon uk amazon com

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1 star

This doesn’t happen to me usually as I’m very careful which books to pick but you simply can never have everything in hand so it was bound to happen sooner or later that I would find myself struggling with a book. Giving up is something I normally don’t do either but I soon knew that this book wasn’t the book for me and if I tell you that half of the book is about a man called Sero The Barbarian roaming a fantasy world (in the form of Erma’s dreams) including orcs, witches, swords and mages, well this is not the kind of world I want to be reading about. I would have skipped these alternating chapters altogether but I couldn’t just ignore them, I felt there might be some important message or truth hidden in there, a metaphore for her current situation perhaps, but whatever it might have been it didn’t take very long to feel a reluctance to read those chapters and with them taking up half of the novel, I didn’t see this ending well for me.

If you’re into fantasy then this might very well be the book for you and if you like cross-over genres all the better but if you like a straight story anchored in the real world then this might be not your cup of tea. I did love The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle and yes there was something unrealistic about that novel too but it was entirely different and not at all about a world inhabited by goblins and orcs with bloodshed and killings.

I wish I could also say that the plotline involving Dr. Erma Bridges – a full-time academic at The Centre for Creative Writing and Cultural Understanding – pulled me through but it was clear from the start that she might not be a very reliable character. Accusations at her address for sleeping with students don’t make her a bad person but nonetheless someone with jaded morals and not someone to sympathize with right away. That didn’t change over time for me either. I was interested in the mystery at the base of the novel, the missing research that Erma’s assistant had in her possession and that she’s looking for to finish her book, and a sideplot about some students that are missing which one of Erma’s colleagues is investigating but it was quite a contrast with this fantasy world full of action.

The book Dr. Erma Bridges is writing with the help of a postgrad has the working title Secret Interactions: A History of Reader-Deployed Young Adult Fiction. It involves the Choose Your Own Adventure novels, Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, Archibald Moder’s Zone Mover series, spin-offs and extensions these books introduced to YA fiction in the eighties. Just reading the explanation about the title made my head spin. I don’t know about you but this all went over my head, I have not read a fantasy gamebook so I wasn’t even familiar with the concept. After some googling I know a whole lot more on the subject now so I do like that this book brought something new (well something that is clearly not entirely new but is not well-known) back.

I’m afraid I can’t say I know how this book ended. I read till the 50% mark and I’m not any further in knowing what happened, nor do I care very much about what happened to Erma or if Sero finds an answer to his quest. The novel wanted to be too much at once, original and quirky, fantasy and a thriller.. but it all but left me confused as to what was going on. The fantasy overshadowed the other side of the novel for me, maybe because I’m not used to it but it is what it is. If you feel yourself challenged, give it a go and find out if it’s the one for you!

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

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! 

Bookaroo

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.

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Pride and Prejudice Throw Blanket

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11. Amazon: Not On The High Street

Personalised Initial Leather Heart Page Corner Bookmark
by HURLEYBURLEY

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! 

Bookclub

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

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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.

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.

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.

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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.

Capital Crime 03

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.

Survive def

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.

107679-Ocean-Tide

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

🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴

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.

Beach Reads

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!

Beer

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 😉