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!

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!

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

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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.

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!

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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 😉

Capital Crime: for the Belgian jury… 12 points! @CapitalCrime1 @MidasPR

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I’m back from Capital Crime, the first thriller festival in London with over one hundred authors! I arrived on Friday and went back home on Saturday and it doesn’t seem long but it feels like it wasn’t two days but two weeks that I went away.

Even though it was exhausting and overwhelming, it was still totally worth it (and don’t you want to feel like you’ve been away much longer than you really have ;-)). I only need a bit of time to process all that’s happened to me, but now that it’s fresh I’ll share with you some of my highlights.

But first of all I want to give a special thanks to the lovely Anne Cater, Amber Choudhary at Midas PR and to my blogfriend Meggy because without these three I wouldn’t have been there!

My arrival

I had a bit of stress (ok I didn’t sleep well the night before) but as soon as I arrived I saw the lovely Meggy of Chocon’Waffles waiting for me outside of the gate of the Eurostar terminal. She’s been my rock throughout the festival, seriously. She’s just as lovely and kind as I hoped, she’s a true friend and I’m eternally grateful for sticking by me. It meant so much to me that she didn’t leave me alone there, even walked me to the trainstation again the following day!

BAM

The venue itself was gorgeous, with big halls and chandeliers… a really nice location, I was impressed. There were 2 big rooms (and the bar which was also frequented at a regular basis)

So, then, literally 2 seconds after stepping inside of the Grand Vere Connaught Rooms, I saw my first author! Mark Edwards was coming down the steps. Meggy asked me if I wanted to talk to him but of course no, no, too soon, much too soon :-).

Friends

I then met the rest of the bloggers I would hang out with these two days: Ronnie of Ronnie Turner, Penny of What Do I Read Now, Danielle of The Reading Closet, Zoé of  Zooloo’s Book Diary and on day 2 I also met blogger Jen of Jen Med’s Book Reviews. They are all wonderful and kind people, they made me feel very welcome and actually pleased to meet me. I love them all!

If you want to have the bestest of blogfriends, add them on Twitter here:
@Choconwaffles, @W2readnow, @Ronnie__Turner, @book_obsessed1, @zooloo2008, @JenMedBkReviews.

I was afraid of walking into a group that already knew each other and I’m certainly not a kisser or hugger (I spent my birthday at home alone to avoid the kissing at work (and also because I’m making my own special day and don’t want to work then)) but I felt really at ease among them. I still won’t initiate a hug but I was very happy with the hugs they insisted on giving me. Zoé is an amazing hugger, not too long or too short, not vice-like or half-hearted, just perfect. I knew in advance that there would be a question for a photo with me in it and I’m happy they didn’t insist but respected my wishes. It was a pleasure to have met the crimesquad!

Panel

I had my first panel of the day then with Claire McGowan asking questions to Lisa Jewell and Mark Edwards (it’s karma I tell ya) about The Psychology of Tension. I knew I was in trouble soon because I wanted to read both authors after their talk (I only read one novel by Mark Edwards years ago). I finally chose one author and bought the book. Two guesses which one :-).

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Mark Edwards is a very friendly author, I’m quite happy he’s the first author I ever saw in real life. I can’t wait to read his book Here to Stay now, his mind is fascinating… and he doesn’t kill off the cat in his books, he pays attention to giving the readers what they want and what do we want? That’s right, to SAVE THE ANIMALS!

This panel and all the other panel discussions I attended were great, it was really interesting to hear the authors talk on so many topics and answer questions about their favorite murder weapon or if they like to kill more men or women in their books, or how they react when people ring the doorbell when they’re writing… I should have taken notes really.

Here are some of the other panels I chose to attend. I wish I had a time-turner so I could have gone to the other panels that were happening at the same moment but unfortunately I had to make some tough choices.

When Women Make Murderers

Fiona Cummins and CJ Tudor really stood out for me in this panel, but maybe it’s because I only read their novels so far…

Chilled to the Bone

Of course I couldn’t miss the authors from Orenda Books. I was a bit horrified when the conversation went towards killing puffins… but there were a lot of funny quips, it was a great panel too!

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And then there was this one of course. I only read MW Craven so it was mostly for him that I wanted to attend, but the others were really interesting too and Amer Anwar even took a picture of the audience (the other way around!).

Britain's Toughest Streets

There was also a quiz between two teams of authors and it was just brilliant. There were questions about the other author’s books, genre what type of car was used in this or that book, but they also had to reenact a scene and the other team had to guess. It was such fun to just see them all going for it (well especially one person) and the quiz host, Paul Clayton, was superb.

Here’s the winning team although they only won with a difference of half a point, so both teams are winners for me 😉

Whosecrimeisitanyway

Approachable

In general, all the authors were all very approachable and I had no idea they would be so open. They’re people I often look up to and they have the same status as a rockstar to me, I’m in full admiration of what they can do with their pen and mind, so it took me by surprise you could easily talk to them outside of the signing sessions too.

If you followed me on Twitter you’ll also know that I called an author by the wrong name. Well I was forgiven right away because the lovely Deborah O’Donoghue (author of Sea of Bones) invited me to drink tea (I’m not English so coffee) with me. I also met Heidi Perks, Rachel Kennedy of Cornerstone publishers and the sweet Merilyn Davies (author of When I Lost You) with whom I had a good talk. It’s not evident for me to talk to people I don’t know but she was so friendly that I was comfortable talking to her. I sometimes wonder how people so sweet can write such crime but then I’m sweet too (if I’m allowed to say that of myself) and I love the hard, gritty thrillers too.

mde

dav

I also received a keyring from Carol Bridgestock who writes novels together with her husband Robert under the name RC Bridgestock. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t know them but it appears the couple has nearly half a century in combined police experience and they take this experience turning real cases into fictional stories. Carol was also suuupernice to me. Another author whose books I really want to try now.

So today I have Carol and Robert’s as well as my own fingerprint on a keyring!

bmd

Perfect ending of the day

I finished the day with a lovely dinner with Meggy where we – guess what – talked even more about books. It was perfect for destressing and I very much enjoyed our time together… if only she lived closer and not in another country.

I picked a hotel only a 5 minute walk from the venue and I’m quite happy I did that, although I did have a few problems in the room.

Meeting Mike Craven

I had a sleepless night so day two wasn’t my best day. I was already overwhelmed by so much that happened on day 1 so I was too emotional and a bit in lockdown, much quieter than the day before. I’ll tell you more about it in another blogpost. I did have one good streak though and I HAVE to share this with you: my encounter with MW Craven.

I was standing in line with Meggy for Zoé to get a book signed and I saw Danielle and Ronnie talking to him! I brought my book (from Belgium) to get it signed so I was excited to spot him (he’s hard to miss with the metal t-shirt and he’s not so small either). Meggy was urging me to go to him and then she was shouting at Danielle who was still talking and didn’t hear her at all 😉 and she was saying go, go, go to me… I went on automatism really, obeying that voice… so I came there and I seriously don’t remember but it’s possible that I just butted into the conversation (so sorry Danielle) and asked for a picture of him with me. He was reallyyy nice and I was already packing the book away again when he said, do you want me to sign it? I was of course too shy to ask but YES! He then asked my name and even wrote it on his hand to get it right (it seems my name is a difficult one for English people so in case you’re wondering INGE is pronounced as in sing-ING and then followed in one swoop with a dull E that sounds like UH). So that’s the story how M.W. Craven got to sign my book. Not everyone has a story like that eh?

bty

Photos

I also have photos of me with authors C.J. Tudor (I won a copy Those Other People!), Merilyn Davies (When I Lost You), Deborah O’Donoghue (Sea of Bones), Lizzie Barber (My Name is Anna), Will Dean (there was a lot of fangirling beforehand and I seriously didn’t know why but yes, I must admit he is in fact really good-looking in close-up too) and Mark Edwards. These photos are for my private collection only though, I don’t particularly feel the need to share.. you must know what the authors look like by now :-).

Conclusion

I’m not going to lie, the 24h I was there was long enough for me. Maybe I would feel a little differently if I had slept better but I’m not sure it would make all the difference either. It was just really full-on with authors everywhere, I didn’t know where to look first. The panel talks also gave a lot of information, I was quite happy there were signing sessions in between and a break for lunch. London is a strange city too so with every step I was looking around at everything new and it was a lot to take in.

I highly recommend this book festival though. I know it’s the first and only one I attended but it was very well organised, it had big author names on their programme, the panels were great and of outstanding quality (you won’t get bored, promise), there was a good vibe and atmosphere and the location is easy enough to reach. Don’t miss out on attending next year is all I can say !

My sweet friend Meggy made it so much better for me of course, I didn’t feel lost and I didn’t get lost (ok I did, twice even, but I’ll tell you about that in another blogpost). On day 2 she came with me to the trainstation again where I took the Eurostar home. In Brussels I took another local train then and after 4 hours (3 in reality but with the time difference 4) I was home again. The adventure might have ended in the present day but I’m still reliving it in my mind…

mde

It was an amazing experience and I’m grateful for meeting so many authors, new and old but all very friendly, for everyone I met there and the friends I made. I’m happy I did it!

Ah before I forget…. I came to London with one small rucksack and I went home with 10 books (and two I had brought from home) so that’s 12 books (and one of them is so thick it can even count for two). It’s a wonder I haven’t dislocated my shoulder or hurt my back.

Here’re the books I bought (I bought 3 in a secondhand bookstore too at lunchtime) and 2 were in the Capital Crime goodie bag.

bty

So what do you think? Who wants to attend Capital Crime next year? I hope I could convince you it’s really worth it!

The Book Fairy Box #Unboxing @the_bookfairies #bookfairybox

Book Fairy Unboxing

Hi lovelies! For the third year in a row I have purchased a one-off subscription box. It’s my birthday soon after all and I want books for my birthday! That’s not so strange is it? Every year it’s a quest to find a box that:

a) ships internationally,
b) isn’t exorbitant in (shipping) price,
c) can be ordered just one time, and
d) delivers books that I actually want to read.

It looks easy – there are a lot of book boxes – but surprisingly, not many tick all these boxes (excuse the pun).

So this year I found the Book Fairy BoxWhat’s in a name huh? I loved it already (and no it’s not a fantasy box)! Check out their lovely website to find out more.

To make it easier, I’ll already tell you what they have to offer in every box:

  • Book fairy exclusives
  • A new book and a second-hand book, to encourage the idea of reusing
  • At least one item that supports a greener lifestyle
  • SO MANY OTHER GOODIES!!!!
  • We promise no one-use plastic or any unnecessary plastic packaging

The boxes will be shipped as orders come in!

So here’s the box when it arrived, shipping was super quick too btw. Now it’s only a brown box, nothing special about it so I haven’t taken a pic of the closed box, but when I opened it, the look of the content really made up for the plain exterior.

BFBox 22

First of all there’s a little Book Fairy Survival Kit. There are little cards that you can leave in books if you want to let them fly in the wild and some cute little pins.

BFBox 24

Next up was the package with all the goodies, wrapped up in delicate paper. The first thing I found was a sachet to make ice tea. You just pour it in a glass and add ice and water. I’m certainly going to try this out!

Next item was a special book fairy cookie cutter from etsy shop Petit Craft. I’m not a great cook but I’m sure I’m going to try that one in the future. It’s a stupid question, I know, but how do you make THE BEST cookie dough? If I start googling I’ll find a hundred different recipes with other measurements that I won’t know which one to use probably.

Then I found this cute little trinket. It’s a little locket from etsy shop Locket Library in the shape of a book, how cute! I already checked out the shop, I’ve never heard of them but they’re a great discovery :-)!

And another package to open from Literary Emporium 

BFBox 11

I found this little booklet where you can note which book you lent to who and on what date. There are no more excuses to forget who you lent a book to. I like it but I only lend my books to one person and one at a time so it won’t be useful right away but I’m sure I’ll make someone happy with it sooner or later :-).

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And then there were also… a new bookmark and a handcrafted bookplate

BFBox 16

BFBox 17

And last but not least of the goodies (7 in total!): a reusable beeswax wrap to take my lunch to work with 🙂 from Eco-Habit Their product is hand made using Oeko-100 certified textiles and 100% natural British Beeswax. 

The wrap is airtight, malleable, reusable and when the time comes – biodegradable. I’m happy I can do something good by simply using this. In case you’re wondering, you can clean it by using a cloth and cold water. 

I haven’t used it yet but I’m going to try this out real soon. I’ll be the hippest one at the office and they’ll all know it!

Beeswax wrap

And then the books of course… one second-hand and a new one. Now I already knew what the new one was going to be (this actually did help me decide to take the plunge and order the box). I’m quite happy with the other novel, Still Dark as well. It has good ratings on Goodreads and an author I didn’t know so that’s wonderful.

There’s also a lovely little card from a mini book fairy in one of the books. It’s official now #ibelieveinbookfairies 🙂

Here’s the full box:

BFBox 19

BFBox 18

I really love this box, I was happy with the goodies and the books, and I could see myself ordering this one again!

So what do you think? Would you be happy with the box (it’s ok if you don’t agree with me)? Have you read one of the books, or both? Let me know in the comments! If you know any recommended boxes for next year, also let me know, it would save me a lot of trouble researching 🙂

PS: Here are my reviews of the subscription boxes in the past:

The Bookworm Box
Page Habit
Blind Date With A Book

New BFF: Zooloo’s Book Diary

BFF

Hello there! It’s been a while since I had a new blog friend (since May actually) but my wonderful friend Zoé who lives near the White Cliffs of Dover and blogs at Zooloo’s Book Diary helped me out here and was so kind to answer my bookish questions. If you don’t know Zoé yet, you should really do something about that ;-). She’s listed as a Nominee for Best Book Blog 2019 in the Blogger Bash for a reason you know. You can also find her on Twitter under @zooloo2008 if you want to give her a follow there.

If you enjoy horror novels you might want to take a trip down memory lane with Zoé and her friend Steph in her tab NostalgiAAARGH series. In case you’re interested, her first pick is Slumber Party by Christopher Pike!

Zoé is a busy bee, she participates in several bookish challenges, does buddy reads and you can also follow her Positivity Wave posts on Friday!

There’s plenty more to discover but I’ll let Zoé tell you herself in this next round of questions and answers:

QandA

Name: Zoé-Lee O’Farrell (but just call me Zoé)

Zoé BFF 05

Me and mum going to footy

Age: 36

Birthday: April 1st (I fully expect jokes!)

Zoé Birthday

What did you study or do you study now / what is your current job? I am currently an assistant finance manager for an arts charity. I have been here for 2 years as I relocated when we moved to Dover.

Do you have any other hobbies? When I am not reading, I love watching movies (a bit of a geek), gaming, sewing and I watch a LOT of sport! I have a season ticket for Watford football club as that is where I was born. And of course, spending time with my mini-me.

Zoé BFF 02

Your favourite color? Red is my power colour but blue is also my favourite.

red and blue

Do you collect anything (besides books)?  Sewings! I have way too many to do and like books, I want more lol

What’s the name of the book that you’ve had the longest? Have you read it? I really can’t remember, I had a huge purge a few years ago, in which I got rid of most of my books for my Kindle (let’s not go there, not my choice). I have loads of books from when I was a teenager at my mum’s, and I brought one home recently to read to Alicia, The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy. So until I can think otherwise I am sticking with that! lol

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? Going to be unpopular but Bram Stoker Dracula! It took me 5 months to read it before I started blogging and my god, I was pulling teeth. I do not like to be defeated by a book. I was gutted as I remembered really liking it before.

Dracula

Do you listen to audio books? Yes absolutely love them! Listen in the car on my drive to and from work and when I drive home. I have so many favourite narrators now, I love them as they can bring a book to life.

Do you have a favorite genre? Horror is my fav, but I do love a good thriller for sure and you have to have a bit of fluff to mix it up.

What is the book highest on your wishlist right now? I think because I am listening to the series now on Audible it has to be Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco. It is the last in the stalking Jack the ripper series – going to be a sad day.

Stalking Jack The Ripper Fandom Wiki page: Kerri Maniscalco was born in Newburgh, New York, United States, and grew up in a semi-haunted house outside New York City, where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula.

How is your library organized? At the moment, alphabetically by author surname. Bar my Flame Tree Press shelf which has one by itself.

Zoé BFF 08

Do you read more ebooks or physical books? I read a mixture of both, I have a lot more ebooks though.

Do you have a favorite book? Wow, that is a tough one to think. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe definitely and I have discovered so many amazing books lately. I think, mainly due to my fangirling, Jonathan Janz The Siren and the Spectre is up there. My list would not be complete without mentioning The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit and the Witches by Ronald Dahl, they hold so many memories for me.

What’s the cover in your collection that you’re most proud of? Oh god, I don’t know I have so many book covers that I love! I am a book cover hoe, so I generally have to fall in love with cover first – eek sorry!

Do you have any idea how many books you own? <100, >100, >200, >300 …? I am in the 1000s with my ebooks, probably hundred ish with print copies.

What’s the title of the last book you purchased? I brought Doug Johnstone Faultlines and Breakers today and my last audiobook was The Murderer’s Son by Joy Ellis (because Rae and Eva told me to lol)

Twenty years ago: a farmer and his wife are cut to pieces by a ruthless serial killer.

Now: a woman is viciously stabbed to death in the upmarket kitchen of her beautiful house on the edge of the marshes.

Then a man called Daniel Kinder walks into Saltern police station and confesses to the murder.

But DI Rowan Jackman and DS Marie Evans of the Fenland police soon discover that there is a lot more to Daniel than meets the eye. He has no memory of the first five years of his life and is obsessed with who his real mother is.

With no evidence to hold him, Jackman and Evans are forced to let him go, and in a matter of days the lonely Lincolnshire Fens become the stage for more killings and Daniel has disappeared.

In a breathtaking finale, the truth about Daniel’s mother comes to light and DI Jackman and DS Evans race against time to stop more lives being destroyed.

What was your favorite author when you were a child? Well, I was reading adult books when I was a teenager so it was Richard Laymon and Stephen King and all the point horror books (see the Nostalgiaaah feature mentioned above) which was various authors. Other than that, it was any horror book I could get my hand on.

Quote horror

From which author do you have most books? Depending on where I am looking !! I have Laurell Hamilton Meredith Gentry series, all the Harry Potters and I have about 7/8 Jonathan Janz books. On my kindle well……all James Patterson/Stephen King books’, Wilbur Smith,  Kathy Reichs, Patricia Cornwell and Karin Slaughter….it’s never-ending. I could go on and on but I won’t!

Are there books you’ve read 2 or 3 times? I don’t generally have the time, but because I have been reading books to my little lady, we have read Matilda and The Twits by Ronald Dahl and will start on the Harry Potter ones soon.

How many books are there on your Goodreads challenge this year and how many have you read already? I went for 120 this year and apparently I am on 106 so far……………

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

Zero by Marc Elsberg
On my life by Angela Clarke
Electric Woman by Tessa Fontaine
Little Sibera by Antti Tuomainen
Elemental Claim by Miranda Grant
Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeymen

Zoé BFF 09

Line

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.

Chloé – Review by Chloe
Alex – Alexandra Wolfe
Kelly – FromBelgiumWithBookLove
Deborah – The Reading Chick
Jonetta – Blue Mood Café

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!

What to do when you’re not reading: a bookworm’s hobby: making your own bookmark #cross-stitch

Bookmark

Hi everyone!

I was flipping through the pages of this old (French) magazine that I was about to throw out…

Bookmark 00

… and my eyes fell on this bookmark of a cat! I love bookmarks and cats so I decided to spend a few hours making this.

Bookmark 01

I had some spare aida count fabric (where you can really see the squares well enough but I’m sure you can do this on evenweave as well). Of course I didn’t follow the instructions (that would have been to simple) because I wanted to use that end bit that was already sticking out, so it meant I ended up with a much smaller design (I almost didn’t get the cat on it is what the truth is). So if you’re going to do this, follow the instructions, it’s like baking really. 

You have to fold the corners and stitch around with a thread the same colour as your fabric to prevent fraying.

Some supervision was necessary of course

Bookmark 05

and not always helping…

Bookmark 06

I just used some (Anchor) thread in different shades of grey that I kept from another cross-stitch kit. The design was ok but I hated the back-stitch (the contours) even more than usual because they made it in very small stitches and not using the big squares at all. I kind of freewheeled it a bit ;-).

Bookmark 07

And there you go! I did another butterfly too in case you hadn’t noticed it.

IMG_20190714_112026_resized_20190714_022545141

Now because it’s so ugly to see the thread on the back AND because you want your bookmark to hold up and not be flimsy, I inserted a piece of white cardboard (I don’t know why that wasn’t mentioned in the magazine!). It meant I had to open one side, slide it in and stitch it back again. Maybe it’s best to do the sides once you’re done with the design.

I was wondering if I should add something else on it, like my name or something bookish, like I’m reading or something, but I didn’t want to mess it up so I did another little project… I would make a bookmark with my name on it!

There were a lot of lettres in the magazine, each with a different style… but I preferred the last one.

Of course THAT’s the moment where you forget how to spell your own name. Gah!

I wasn’t too happy with the pink either so I decided to change to purple for the next word.

And it’s finished

Bookmark 14

Bookmark 17

Bookmark 15

 

So what do you think? Should I add a tassle on one of these to make it better? Would you have done anything different? Let me know in the comments. If you think I completely wasted my time (tell me something I don’t know) you don’t have to say so.

If you’re looking for more bookish hobbies, here are some other ideas I posted about in the past:

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day,

Inge

Same book, different cover #11

battle-of-the-books

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 Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal

The Doll Factory The Doll Factory 02

I choose cover number 1. The second one is too bleak and I like how many details there are to discover in first one.

Last Woman Standing by Amy Gentry

Last Woman Standing 01  Last Woman Standing 02  Last Woman Standing 03

Hmm I’m not really sure. Not cover 1 but a difficult choice between 2 and 3. I think I’ll still keep 3, the cover I have. In reality the colour really pops and I kind of like it.

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

The Flatshare 02   The Flatshare

Cover 2. I’m really not attracted to the first one and I don’t think I would pick it up if I saw it and didn’t know the novel.

Now You See Me by Chris McGeorge

Now You See Me 02  Now You See Me

Definitely cover 2! It’s just a nicer shade of blue and the yellow boat is an eye-catcher.

Degrees of Guilt by HS Chandler

Degrees of Guilt 02  Degrees of Guilt

Cover number 2! I love seeing this duality in a cover and I’m big on contrast so these very different sides make me even more interested. The first cover has been done before so the second one stands out more.Line

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 🙂

 

New BFF: Blue Mood Cafe

BFF

Happy hump day! I’m so happy I can introduce you to another fabulous blogger today! Jonetta is the sweet lady running the Blue Mood Café. She’s totally awesome, very kind and quite an eclectic reader. You can find hot romance, young adult and thrillers on her blog.

I love her Saturdays at the Café series because she lists all the novels she’d love to read and there’s always a few I want to add when visiting. She also participates in 4 reading challenges this year among which an audiobook and historical fiction challenge if anyone’s interested in joining, but then she reads soooo many books a year, I’m seriously jealous!

I hope you all already know this lovely lady, but if you don’t, here’s your chance to find out more… time to move on to the interview!

QandA

Name: Jonetta

Age: Now, now 😏

Birthday: September 29

Virgo

What did you study or do you study now / what is your current job? I studied accounting in college and though I decided I didn’t want to continue a career in that field after about 8 years, it was useful training that allowed me to branch off into a multitude of fields (research and development, marketing, government relations). I opted for early retirement when my wonderful employer was acquired by a not-so-nice one. I did some consulting but don’t do that so much any more.

Do you have any other hobbies? My first love was interior design and have helped friends and family with various projects over the years. Reading and blogging have consumed me most recently.

 

Your favourite color? Blue

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Do you collect anything (besides books)? I collect porcelain demitasse.

What’s the name of the book that you’ve had the longest? Have you read it? I’ve books I’ve owned since childhood and am sure I read it.

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?

BMC 06

Absolutely! I regretted not only the money but the time I spent wasting my brain space on the philosophies spewed throughout. It was my first experience with an author who used his zealot followers to write positive reviews about a book they never read. It was years ago and all those 5 star reviews influenced my decision to not only buy it but recommend it for one of my Shelfari group reads. I still feel taken advantage of after six years.

Do you listen to audio books? I love, love, love audiobooks 💜 Years ago when I was dating my husband long distance, I used to rent them from Cracker Barrel (popular highway restaurant chain in the US) for about $2/week. You could pick them up from one location and return them at any other. Those books helped make a 10-hour round trip monthly road trip easier. I also remember when I was a six-year old child that my parents got me two books on records. I played them over and over again for years. Now, I’m listening to more books than I’m reading.

Do you have a favorite genre? I’m an eclectic reader, enjoying so many genres. With that said, left to my own devices, I’m going to always be drawn to my first love, mystery & suspense. That love was developed and nurtured by the old Nancy Drew books and the Alfred Hitchcock films and old TV shows (which I still watch!)

BMC 08

What is the book highest on your wishlist right now? Might I list three? Redemption by David Baldacci, Under Currents by Nora Roberts and Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. The first two aren’t yet released but I let the third book get away 😒

How is your library organized?

I only read eBooks and listen to audiobooks so everything is digital. I use Goodreads as my tool to manage my books. I use a system of shelving that’s consistent and having a coding system in the personal notes section of the book that tells me if I own the book, am waiting for library purchase, etc. It’s highly organized as I own a LOT of digital books.

Jonetta 05

Do you read more ebooks or physical books?

I started reading eBooks exclusively about eight years ago, which is a big surprise to me. My husband bought me an eReader because I used to travel a lot for my job and I’m also a technology lover. However, I couldn’t conceive of giving up physical books. Well, the ease of purchase, handiness of having my library at my disposal and the ability to set my reading layouts just won me over. I miss the feel and smell of print books but am unwilling to give up the conveniences of digital reading. However! I love when publishers send me print books. My physical shelves runneth over 💜

Jonetta 04

Do you have a favorite book?

It’s typically the last 5-star book I read, which was Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I’ll never forget this story. Also, looking back over the years, some of the most impactful were In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, which introduced me to true crime told in the narrative; The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, which introduced me to the horrors of the Holocaust; and, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers, which taught me the value of literary fiction as a teen. I have tons of favorites in every genre, too many to capture here but these are good representations of what influenced my love of reading and appreciation of all genres.

What’s the cover in your collection that you’re most proud of?

I don’t have a single one that stands out to me right now but I added Dual Citizens recently to my readpile because of the cover…

Cover love

Lark and Robin are half-sisters whose similarities end at being named for birds. While Lark is shy and studious, Robin is wild and artistic. Raised in Montreal by their disinterested single mother, they form a fierce team in childhood regardless of their differences. As they grow up, Lark excels at school and Robin becomes an extraordinary pianist. At seventeen, Lark flees to America to attend college, where she finds her calling in documentary films, and her sister soon joins her.

Later, in New York City, they find themselves tested: Lark struggles with self-doubt, and Robin chafes against the demands of Juilliard. Under pressure, their bond grows strained and ultimately is broken, and their paths abruptly diverge. Years later, Lark’s life is in tatters and Robin’s is wilder than ever. As Lark tries to take charge of her destiny, she discovers that despite the difficulties of their relationship, there is only one person she can truly rely on: her sister.

In this gripping, unforgettable novel about art, ambition, sisterhood, motherhood, and self-knowledge, Alix Ohlin traces the rich and complicated lives of two indelible women. Dazzlingly insightful and beautifully crafted, Dual Citizens captures the unique language of sisters and makes visible the imperceptible strings that bind us to the ones we love for good.

I am, however, very prood of my copy of Native Son by Richard Wright. It’s a First Edition, published in 1940 and is one of my all time favorite books.

Do you have any idea how many books you own? <100, >100, >200, >300 …? Let’s just say I own more than 500 physical books and many, many more digital books 😏

Here’s a pic of my library of collectable books assembled by my husband and me:

What’s the title of the last book you purchased? I bought The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss…for my 7-year old nephew. For me, it was Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dreyer. It was recommended by What’s Non Fiction? and sits right by my reading chair.

As authoritative as it is amusing, this book distills everything Benjamin Dreyer has learned from the hundreds of books he has copyedited, including works by Elizabeth Strout, E. L. Doctorow, and Frank Rich, into a useful guide not just for writers but for everyone who wants to put their best foot forward in writing prose.

Dreyer offers lessons on the ins and outs of punctuation and grammar, including how to navigate the words he calls “the confusables,” like tricky homophones; the myriad ways to use (and misuse) a comma; and how to recognize–though not necessarily do away with–the passive voice. (Hint: If you can plausibly add “by zombies” to the end of a sentence, it’s passive.) People are sharing their writing more than ever–on blogs, on Twitter–and this book lays out, clearly and comprehensibly, everything writers can do to keep readers focused on the real reason writers write: to communicate their ideas clearly and effectively.

Chock-full of advice, insider wisdom, and fun facts on the rules (and nonrules) of the English language, this book will prove invaluable to everyone who wants to shore up their writing skills, mandatory for people who spend their time editing and shaping other people’s prose, and–perhaps best of all–an utter treat for anyone who simply revels in language.

What was your favorite author when you were a child? When I was really little (5-6 years old), I loved the Raggedy Ann & Raggedy Andy book series by Johnny Gruelle because I was consumed by the notion that my dolls and stuffed animals came to life at night. As mentioned before, I became a huge fan of the Nancy Drew book series. I also loved the Little House on the Prairie book series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I also loved The Bobbsey Twins book series by Laura Lee Hope. I don’t even remember the stories but do recall reading them all. I was also a Louisa May Alcott fan.

From which author do you have most books? J.D. Robb. I’m in love with the In Death series and own every book in the series (58 and counting).

Are there books you’ve read 2 or 3 times? I don’t really reread but did so with the J.D. Robb books…three times when there were 35 books in the series.

Facts JD Robb

How many books are there on your Goodreads challenge this year and how many have you read already? I plan to read 150 books and have read 57 to date.

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

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
N
uts! by Kevin & Jackie Freiberg
The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter
T
reasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
T
hen Came You by Jeannie Moon
The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama

Jonetta 01

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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.

Luci – Lunarlucibooks
Chloé – Review by Chloe
Alex – Alexandra Wolfe
Kelly – FromBelgiumWithBookLove
Deborah – The Reading Chick

I don’t want my BFF club to be complete just yet! There’s still room for plenty more so give me a shout if you want to be featured ! 

New BFF: The Reading Chick

BFF

Today on the blog I present to you a lovely and sweet blogger from Nashville in the US: a very warm welcome to Deborah a.k.a. The Reading Chick.

Apart from the fact that we’re both chicks who love to read we have at least two more things in common. First thing that comes to mind is that we both love bookmarks (and I’m sure Deborah has a bigger collection than I have) and second thing I found out is that she has her own Blogger to Blogger series and you should definitely read them because she interviewed so many awesome bloggers that I know. Seriously, when I see all of those blogger pictures taken from the front door, it makes me want to live in so many different countries!

Pink

Before I’ll start daydreaming about moving away, let’s go on with the questions, shall we? Oh and don’t forget to give her a follow on her blog and/or on Twitter later on ok?!

QandA

Name: Deborah, but I also go by Deb

Pronounce Names

US, France, Brasil etc.

Age: Oh boy, I plead the 5th!

Birthday: August 28th

What did you study or do you study now / what is your current job? When I went to school I was an English major. I had dreams of working for a publisher and reading books all day long. Seriously, I didn’t have a clue. Somehow I fell into a career in advertising and sell commercial time on a TV station in Nashville.

TV commercial

Top 10 on YouTube

Do you have any other hobbies? Well, I do read a lot, but I also love sports and going to sporting events.

Your favourite color? Pink and/or purple.

Pink 02

Do you collect anything (besides books)? I collect Angels but I don’t have them out all year round just at Christmas. My sister is an amazing needlework artist so most of them are needlepoint that she’s done.

What’s the name of the book that you’ve had the longest? Have you read it? The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I have definitely read it a couple of times but my favorite memory is of my mother reading it to me when I was a little girl. Kind of creepy, I know. She did great Golem voices!

TRC 01

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 gosh, there have probably been a LOT. Nothing jumps out at me though. Nowadays most of the books I read are from the library or an ARC that I’ve received for free. Not every book is excellent, but if they were we’d have to come up with a new rating system wouldn’t we?

Do you listen to audio books? I always have one going that I listen to while in my car driving to work or working out to at the gym.

Audiobook

Do you have a favorite genre? I have a few. I love romance novels and YA novels, but my favorite are Fantasy novels. You can tell that my mom reading the Hobbit to me as a child had a big influence, right?

Reader fantasy

What is the book highest on your wishlist right now? Oh gosh, if I’m being honest I’d have to say there are quite a few! I’m really looking forward to Katie Ruggle‘s In Her Sights which is the first in a new series. She’s a great Romantic Suspense writer. I’m also really looking forward to Anne Bishop‘s Wild Country which comes out next month and is another book in the World of Others series. I’m curious about Helen Hoang‘s Meet Cute and want to see if she can follow up with a second great novel… I could go on and on.. I’d say Ilona Andrews Sapphire Flames which doesn’t come out until August is probably my most anticipated though.

How is your library organized? Ummm. It isn’t? I do have a couple of nice bookcases that I try to keep pretty because people can see them. Then I have my hidden bookshelves which are just books stacked half hazard.

Bookcase 1

Books 2

Do you read more ebooks or physical books? I read a mixture of the two but because most of the ARC’s I get are ebooks it seems I’m leaning towards the ebooks. Also, I get ebooks from the library on my Overdrive app. That has really cut down on my book spending!

 

Do you have a favorite book? I have read and listened to Mariana Zapata’s Kulti quite a few times!

Kulti

What’s the cover in your collection that you’re most proud of? The prettiest cover in my collection is An Enchantment of Ravens. The novel was just as gorgeously written as the cover!

Ravens

Do you have any idea how many books you own? <100, >100, >200, >300 …? I would say around 250 ish? I haven’t counted lately, but I have a TON.

What’s the title of the last book you purchased? Kristen Ashley’s FREE.

Blurb

Through good times, bad times and times of war, Cole “Rush” Allen grew up in the Chaos Motorcycle Club. Along this journey, he watched his father, Tack, and his MC brothers fight, sweat, bleed and die to steer the Club to legitimacy.

And they’ve got one more battle on their hands.

A battle they have to win.

But when Rush meets the woman who put herself right in the thick of it, he knows he has to stop at nothing to get her out.

Rebel Stapleton has lost someone she loves to murder and she’s the kind of woman who’s going to do something about it. She puts her career on the line, and her life, to bring the man who did it to justice.

That is, she does this until Rush Allen intervenes.

Chaos is at war and they’re about to face the ultimate showdown. They’ll have to negotiate skeletons from the past, enemies becoming allies, and loved ones in the line of fire on their ride to be…

Free.

What was your favorite author when you were a child? Frank L. Baum. I was obsessed with the Wizard of Oz books. I still love them!

Frank Baum quote

From which author do you have most books? I have all of Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Sackhouse books, as well as a huge number of Kim Harrison, Kelley Armstrong, and Anne Bishop.

Are there books you’ve read 2 or 3 times? I’ve definitely read any book by Mariana Zapata at least twice. She’s an amazing romance author and is famous for slow burn romances. I’ve also read all of Ilona Andrews books at least twice, some of them 3-4 times. Recently, I am going through Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series again.

Did you know? Ilona Andrews is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team, Gordon and Ilona. They currently reside in Texas with their two children and numerous dogs and cats. The couple are the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors of the Kate Daniels and Kate Daniels World novels as well as The Edge and Hidden Legacy series. They also write the Innkeeper Chronicles series, which they post as a free weekly serial.

How many books are there on your Goodreads challenge this year and how many have you read already? I actually backed down off my challenge a little bit to 170. Last year I set a goal of 200 and while I did hit it, I wanted to read more books for me, than to just hit a goal so I’m giving myself a little break.

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

D ead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris
E tched in Bone by Anne Bishop
B reathe by Amanda Bouchet
O wn the Wind by Kristen Ashley
R ide Rough by Laura Kaye
A n Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
H arry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

DEBORAH

Thanks for your answers Deborah, it was wonderful to have you!!

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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.

Umut – Umut Reviews
Luci – Lunarlucibooks
Chloé – Review by Chloe
Alex – Alexandra Wolfe
Kelly – FromBelgiumWithBookLove

I don’t want my BFF club to be complete just yet! There’s still room for plenty more so give me a shout if you want to be featured !