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Heads You Win

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  13,000 ratings  ·  1,699 reviews
Leningrad, Russia, 1968. Alexander Karpenko is no ordinary child, and from an early age, it is clear he is destined to lead his countrymen. But when his father is assassinated by the KGB for defying the state, he and his mother will have to escape from Russia if they hope to survive. At the docks, they are confronted with an irreversible choice: should they board a ...more
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published November 6th 2018 by St. Martin's Press (first published October 30th 2018)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
** 4.5 Stars *

Wow! The last sentence in Heads You Win was akin to a slap across the face - a kind of thats what you get for not being perceptive enough to recognise what was right in front of you the whole time!

1968 Leningrad, Russia, and teenager Alexander Karpenko and his mother Elena are about to flee their homeland with the help of his uncle, who has bribed the Captain of a cargo ship. Alexanders father has been assassinated whilst carrying out his duties at the docks where he was a well
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Lord Jeffrey Archer remains one of the eminent writers of my time, able to craft brilliant novels that can be enjoyed years after the ink dries on their publication. Archer develops his books with pages of captivating text and believable dialogue. On the docks of Leningrad in 1968, Alexander Karpenko lives under the iron fist of the Soviet regime. No choice or decision goes unwatched by the KGB and punishment is usually brutal. When Alexanders father is involved in a workplace accident, young ...more
Diane S ☔
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read very few political thrillers, but for Archer I make an exception. From the beginning one is aware that they are in the hands of a author who has perfected his craft, has a firm grasp of his characters and the plot. His prose is written with clarity, his storyline flows seamlessly. What an unusual but perceptive, history in the making, storyline this turned out to be.

Russia, Alexander's father, a dockworker, secret orginizer of those in opposition to communism, is murdered by the KGB, an
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
*some edits*

Loved it but umm... The ending and the last few pages, anyone else confused?

What I thought was gonna be mind blowing wasn't explored to completion and what I guess was the big surprise seemed like a non-ending (to me).

Maybe because I was expecting something else but I was left with "Umm, that's all?"

Doesn't dampen my enjoyment of the rest of the story but it did cause me to knock off that one star.

My one friend suggested maybe its a series or duology (as of right now we haven't
Ron Hartley
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Patrice Hoffman
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
In the interest of full disclosure, I have been a fan of Jeffrey Archer's since I found Kane and Abel in the clearance bin at my local used book store. I was urged by my insanely smart brother to pick a book by its cover and so... that's what I chose. Suffice it to say, I was hooked to Archer's uncomplicated style of writing. His delivery can be described as hearing a story from that human fixture in your local bar or fellow commuter. He writes as if he's telling a story that might be a tad ...more
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps if one doesn't usually read great writing, poor writing doesn't scream out. Archer's writing just screamed at me -bad, bad, bad. Sometimes I find it easier to describe what good writing is than what is lacking in poor writing. Poor character development, predictability, cliches - just a few things that drove me crazy in this book.

I would have given the book 1 star, but since I kept turning the pages and wanted to know how it ended, I figured 2 stars was more accurate. Since I think one
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another great piece of storytelling by top author Jeffrey Archer. Rarely disappointed by his books and this latest novel is another excellent story. The more I read of this novel the bigger my appetite to find out more. Well written, good characters and a plot expertly crafted for maximum enjoyment.
Alexander Karpenko is a child in Leningrad, Russia, 1968 and he is easily identifiable as a leader in the making. But his future plans take a sudden turn when his father is assassinated by the KGB for
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heads You Win is one of critically-acclaimed, bestselling author Jeffrey Archer's most imaginative novel to date and takes advantage of the sliding doors theme whereby the outcomes of two separate paths that a character could take are shown. Here, it manifests itself as a life-changing moment in which young Alexander Karpenko and his mother flip a coin on the docks to decide whether they board a boat and emigrate to Great Britain or the United States after his father was murdered by the KGB. ...more
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Archer has other works that are definitely worth a read if you enjoy this genre, but Heads You Win is not one I would recommend.

For my full review:

For all my reviews:
Laura Danks
I really wanted to love this book because I loved The Clifton Chronicles Series, but unfortunately, I didn't enjoy as much as I hoped.
To me, it felt as if the structure of The Clifton Chronicles had been copied and paste into Russian settings. I don't want to give away any spoilers, especially for readers who have not read Archer before but I found the whole thing a little too predictable following a formula that I've seen before.

I think I would only feel comfortable recommending this book to
An interesting story. Have you ever wondered what would have happened if you had made a different choice at some point in your life? This novel explores that idea.

The story opens in 1968 in Leningrad, Russia. Alexander Karpenko is a very intelligent youth. He dreams of becoming the first democratically elected president of Russia. Alexander's father is a foreman on the docks who is attempting to unionize his co-workers on the docks. That effort targets him for assassination by the KGB.
Oct 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
HEADS YOU WIN is Jeffrey Archers attempt to write a novel about a single character and the two paths that bifurcated his life.

Alexander and his morher must leave Russia, after their lives are endangered by the perfidy of friend, Vladimir. There are 2 ships they can take, one going to England and the other to the USA. Here Archer follows the life that Alex/Sasha would have followed on each of the different paths.

The unbelievable success that the characters find actually fly against realities
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have been reading Jeffrey Archer books for years so I know when I pick one up it's going to be an entertaining and fast read and this lived up to my expectations. Alexander Karpenko has to flee Russia in 1968 after his father was assassinated by the KGB for trying to form a labor union. Alexander and his mother manage to get aboard a cargo ship to escape. Here the story takes a definite turn following two different scenarios on what happens to Alexander. I found this approach to be interesting ...more
Andrea Betting
Nov 20, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Worst book by this author.

I am a big Jeffrey archer fan, however this was the worst book hes ever written! The book never explains how a Russian mother and her 16-year-old son are given the choice between stowing away in a packing crate heading for either England or America. They choose one of the crates and after climbing in the crate is Nailed shut. Some how or another, which is never explained, two crates on two different ships are opened and mother and son step out. They go on to lead
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it

Let me say first and foremost that I won an ARC of this book for my review from St. Martins Press~ THANK YOU!!!!

Second, this is ONE of my favorite authors as he never disappoints in writing about good and evil in politics as in life in general.

This book however, HEADS YOU WIN, is as it says on the man, two lives. And how is that? That is the question. Amazingly, Mr. Archer writes a little bit different from his past novels (that I have read).

Alexander Karpenko HAS TO
Nov 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am utterly confused. Throughout the book, and in the premise, the impression is that it is the same person whose story is written from 2 different perspective. How then do people who know one come across the other? They are supposed to be same person Life1 and Life2...then how can they also exist simultaneously....? I am only left with this one headbanging confusion in the end ....
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martins Press for this book which shows the authors skill for great story telling. I found the structure of the book a little confusing at first. I have never been able to fathom the British Parliamentary system and I tried not to zone out during those sections. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the changes in Russia (and lack of them) over the years and the excursions into the art world. There were times while I was reading that I was contemplating a 3 star review ...more
I still don't understand that ending, and I don't think I ever will. And as for the oh so shocking bit twist the blurb promises? I laughed so hard. Honestly

Other than that, this book mostly bore me to tears. Excellent narration aside (it IS read by the wonderful Richard Armitage, after all - the only reason I picked this up), I just couldn't possibly care less.

Also, if you're going to explore two lives, is it two much to ask to NOT hear basically the same story twice? I mean. Whenever one
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jeffrey Archer is my 9th most read author....well actually he is tied with Brandon Sanderson. This is the 16th book by him that I've read. He is a master story teller. He does place, plot, and especially characters well. I loved the relationships. He adds rich detail to his characters....even when it comes to the mean ones because I feel like I understand them.

I loved the fork in the road with this one regarding the crates. That was a nice little surprise and he made it work. I loved the
Dec 02, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What a garbage book this is. It seems you lose whether you are heads or tails.
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Having read many of Archer's earlier offerings, the characters, plot, and events were recycled, especially from the Clifton Chronicles. Luckily it was a quick read.
Di Paterson
What a disappointment. I've read most of Jeffrey Archer's books, and I think he should stick to short stories now. His sagas, like this one, are becoming formulaic, and his characters, while being well-written, lead such charmed lives, and seldom have character flaws, as is the case in this book. The beginning, with the split lives, was definitely intriguing, but ultimately the story went nowhere, with a totally disappointing ending. I'm not sure there was a satisfactory ending once the story ...more
Angela Oatham
Never let it be said that Jeffrey Archer doesn't tell a good story. This is another very readable novel from him, there's nothing new or groundbreaking and yes you will get slight deja vu if you've read all his previous novels but so what? Sometimes I just want to turn my brain off and delve into a good story.
If I was Mr Archer I wouldn't be holidaying in Russia anytime soon though!
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just "hit the spot" for exactly what I needed in the hospital following surgery. I was surprised. Not having read an Archer book since a life-time ago with Kane and AbelI had forgotten what an amazing storyteller can do. I was definitely caught-up in this uniquely formatted story. It took me back many, many years when our children were enamored with Choose Your Own Adventure books. This book has similarities. The story is told from two different perspectives. What would have happened if the ...more
Oct 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: from-publishers
Thanks to St. Martin's Press for this ARC.

I haven't read this author's books in 30+ years and wasn't sure if I would like this book since it's not a book I would read but I needed something different and this was it.

I've read a lot of books in my lifetime and have never read a book like this and it's not your typical book. It was interesting between Alex/Sasha in London/New York/Russia and what it would be like if he went to London or New York in a crate with his mother after his father was
Diane Lynn
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jeffrey Archer has certainly mastered story telling! I was immediately pulled into the adventures of Alexander as he and his mother escape from Russia. They hop into a crate on a ship headed to England, or is it America? A flip of a coin will tell, and what an interesting way to tell a story. I really enjoyed the technique used here but, for me at least, the final twist was too obvious.
Nov 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was fortunate to be one of 500 readers around the world selected to read a free pre-publication serialisation of 'Heads You Win' on The Pigeonhole. I first read Jeffrey Archer years ago, when I picked up 'As The Crow Flies' at the suggestion of a friend who loved Archer's stories. I found it an honest, enjoyable, decently crafted page-turner, your typical rags to riches tale. To be honest it did smack a little bit of formula, so I desisted from reading his other titles because I was more ...more
Roma Sharma
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jeffrey Archer is called a master story teller for a reason. His books are captivating and spellbinding. This one is no exception. I enjoy thrillers and I usually dont like to read historical books or overly political books, but when it comes to Archer, the genre becomes irrelevant and the story is all that matters. I have devoured every novel and short story hes ever published and never have I been disappointed.
This book held my attention from the first word and it was a very easy and
Kirsty Scott
I found this book was a tad confusing at times. I got the premise of a 'sliding doors' scenario and that could have been good if the two characters split had a little explanation. I actually went back and double checked the beginning chapter when the character split as Alexander had never been called Sasha in the first part so had to double check it was the same character. I was starting to think 'were the mum's twins?' or 'had someone saved a twin son by being a mother to one of them?' due to ...more
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Review on advance reader copy 13 49 Jan 03, 2020 07:12AM  
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Jeffrey Howard Archer, Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare (born 15 April 1940) is an English author and former politician.

He was a Member of Parliament and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, and became a life peer in 1992. His political career, having suffered several controversies, ended after a conviction for perverting the course of justice and his subsequent imprisonment. He is married

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