YVO’S SHORTIES #192 – The Coral Bride & The Guest List

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a double those of suspense with The Coral Bride and The Guest List… With the first I have confirmed that the writing style of the author just isn’t for me, but the second has me wanting to read more of the author now.


Title: The Coral Bride
(Enquêteur Moralès #2)
Author: Roxanne Bouchard

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 18th 2020
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: November 7th 2020
Pages: 355
(Originally written in French: ‘La mariée de corail’)

“The dead leave everything behind them. Especially the living.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***


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So… The Coral Bride. I’m still surprised myself this happened, but apparently this series marks the first time an Orenda title somehow didn’t work for me. I struggled considerably with the first book, which was my reason to swap my stop of the blog tour last month to a content post just in case… I’m kind of glad I did, because this sequel has confirmed to me that there is just something about Roxanne Bouchard‘s writing that simply isn’t for me. I did enjoy The Coral Bride slightly better, which might have something to do with less repetitive phrases and different characters in the spotlight. I liked how both detective Moralès and his son make their appearance and are important in the plot here, and I can’t deny the power of the sea and its many descriptions. BUT. Somehow I found the actual plot and development to be a little slow, and the whole cheating element and objectifying of women was a real turn off for me. I enjoyed the detective angle a bit more in The Coral Bride, although I did see part of the ending coming… But overall I’ve decided to just leave this series be in the future, as it clearly shows that Roxanne Bouchard‘s writing style and me don’t see eye to eye.


Title: The Guest List
Author: Lucy Foley

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: February 20th 2020
Publisher: HarperCollins
Finished reading: November 24th 2020
Pages: 400

“In my experience, those who have the greatest respect for the rules also take the most enjoyment in breaking them.”


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Between the fact that I love a good locked room mystery and that I’ve been meaning to try this author for quite some time now, I decided to just give in and pick up my copy of The Guest List. And I definitely liked what I found! Engaging and fast writing style, fantastic eerie setting, multiple characters with something to hide… And multiple POVs along the way to keep you on your toes. The small island definitely makes for the perfect ominous backdrop for this story, and it is one of the reasons The Guest List works so well for me. The descriptions really made the setting come alive for me, and the bad weather fits the building up of tension perfectly too. I do have to admit that I guessed some of the twists early on, but I never guessed the full truth about it all so that was still a win for me. I will most definitely be looking forward to read more of Lucy Foley in the future! Starting with The Hunting Party which I’ve failed to get to until now…


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ARC REVIEW: The Shadow Man – by Helen Fields

Title: The Shadow Man
Author: Helen Fields
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: February 4th 2021
Publisher: Avon
Finished reading: November 25th 2020
Pages: 400

“Time stood still here, the same ritual repeated, until the grave was little more than a revolving door between one world and the next.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Avon in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I’ve been meaning to start the D.I. Callanach series for ages now, so when I saw Helen Fields was having a new stand-alone coming out in 2021 I just couldn’t resist the temptation to finally try her work. I have to say that I’m most definitely a fan now! Thriller fans: make sure to add The Shadow Man to your 2021 wishlist, as you will be in for an absolutely thrilling as well as shocking ride.

I’ll keep things short to avoid spoilers, but what I can say is that in The Shadow Man you will find yourself an extremely fascinating and terrifying serial killer in the spotlight. Being able to get a glimpse inside his head and learn more about the reasons behind the way he is and why he does what he does is absolutely intriguing. Definitely kuddos for originality here! The other character in the spotlight, forensic psychologist Connie Woolwine, makes for an excellent counter character too and I loved both her kick-ass personality and personal background with the achromat details. The cast of characters overall makes for a very interesting mix and with the help of different POVs we get a full perspective of the different angles in play.

The plot and building up of suspense was solid, and I really liked the focus on the psychological angle suplementing the police investigation. Connie and DI Baarda make for a great team and I liked how some of the bantering made for a great balance in between the more shocking scenes. There is also plenty of action in The Shadow Man, and the writing makes it really easy to just keep turning those pages. Fast, suspenseful, disturbing and action-packed: you won’t find a boring minute as you sit on the edge of your seat and keep your fingers crossed they will able to stop him before it’s too late.

All in all, The Shadow Man is an excellent crime thriller featuring an unique and shocking serial killer I won’t forget any time soon. Highly recommended if you enjoy the genre!


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**CLOSED** BLOG TOUR GIVEAWAY: Fallen Angels – by Gunnar Staalesen #giveaway #win #competition #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @RandomTTours

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Fallen Angels Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. Today I will be having a little something special: one of you lucky UK residents will be able to win your very own paperback copy of Fallen Angels! Another huge thanks to Orenda Books and Anne Cater for providing the mentioned copy and making this giveaway possible. More details about the giveaway below, but first let’s take a look at what this Nordic Noir title is all about to further tempt you to join.

Some people might have already met Varg Veum in later books of this series, brilliantly translated by the talented Don Bartlett. Not every book in this prolific series has been translated to English so far, but we now have the chance to meet a younger Varg Veum in this translation of book number eight that was first published in Norwegian back in 1989. It is a story that focuses on the main character contemplating his past as well as ‘present’ events, and it is an excellent opportunity to learn more about his roots and why he became the man he is in the most recent books of the series. Need another reason to join the giveaway? Just look at that absolutely stunning cover! I know I wouldn’t be complaining of having this beauty hanging out on my shelves, that’s for sure. 😉

So… The giveaway. I’m going to keep this nice and simple, as we all have already too many lockdown rules to follow in the first place. 😉 This giveaway is UK only, and the winner will receive a paperback copy of Fallen Angels. The winner must be willing to send me his/her address so I can pass it on to Anne Cater who will kindly take care of the rest.

How do you join the giveaway?

No rafflecopter. No complicated steps. Simply leave a comment below telling me about your favorite and/or most recent Nordic Noir read (if you have never read one before, the book you would want to try first).

Your comment will be your entry to this giveway! The giveway will run until November 30th 2020; I will announce the winner on Twitter and my blog on December 1st.

>>> Aaandd the winner of the paperback copy of Fallen Angels is… Entry number 9 a.k.a. Kayleigh Tanner!! Make sure you contact me through my contact page or on Twitter (@yvo_about_books) with your postal address within the next 48hs so I can pass it along to the blog tour host. <<<

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

One of the fathers of Nordic Noir, Gunnar Staalesen was born in
Bergen, Norway, in 1947. He made his debut at the age of twenty-two
with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in
the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over twenty titles, which have
been published in twenty-four countries and sold over four million
copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have
appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond
Espen Seim. Staalesen has won three Golden Pistols (including the
Prize of Honour) and Where Roses Never Die won the 2017 Petrona
Award for Nordic Crime Fiction, and Big Sister was shortlisted in 2019.
He lives with his wife in Bergen.


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ARC REVIEW: Deadly Betrayal – by OMJ Ryan

Title: Deadly Betrayal
(Detective Jane Phillips #4)
Author: OMJ Ryan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Detective
First published: November 22nd 2020
Publisher: Inkubator Books
Finished reading: November 15th 2020
Pages: ?

“Now she wondered if she had been spared each of those times because her fate was to die in the place where she had been born: Hong Kong.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Inkubator Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I’ve been following this series ever since the first book came out last year, and Deadly Betrayal is already Detective Jane Phillips book number four… And without doubt another action-packed and entertaining ride! Technically you might be able to read this one as a stand-alone, but I don’t recommend it as you will be missing out on character background that might make it harder to understand the dynamics between the different characters. The case itself stands on its own though, and Jane Phillips and her team without doubt have another intriguing case on their hands.

The first thing that stands out in Deadly Betrayal is that this time around we don’t just stay in Manchester and its surroundings. Oh no, we get to travel all the way to Hong Kong for a few chapters as well! I really liked how this aspect of the investigation was incorporated into the plot and the descriptions and personal connection to Jane Phillips really made that setting come alive for me. And such shocking scenes too! The whole possible Triad connection in general managed to raise this story to the next level for me, and really gave the story an original touch.

These books always read superfast and Deadly Betrayal is no exception. This is one of those detective series where it’s best to clear your schedule, as you won’t even notice hours have passed until you reach that final page and stare at the clock. You won’t find a boring minute in Deadly Betrayal as it is packed with suspense, danger as well as your typical murder investigation. I had a brilliant time following Jane and her team as they try to get to the bottom of what is going on… And there is no doubt that this story ends with a bang too.

As for the characters… I’m still a fan of both Jane and her team. They are easy to like and their banter is a nice contrast with some of the heavier and action-packed moments of the story. Fox is still enormously frustrating though, and the story ends with a hint a different irritating character is going to be coming back in the next book… Overall, the plot and writing made up for those minor frustations though.

In short, if you enjoy the detective thriller genre and like your stories fast, suspenseful and action-packed, this series will always provide you with an entertaining ride.


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ARC REVIEW: Breathe Your Last – by Lisa Regan @bookouture

Title: Breathe Your Last
(Detective Josie Quinn #10)

Author: Lisa Regan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Detective
First published: December 9th 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: November 6th 2020
Pages: 350

“If they knew what I’d done, I’d probably go to prison. If I went to prison, I wouldn’t be able to play my little game. Where would be the fun in that?”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Bookouture in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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We all have our series we cannot wait to get back to, those characters and settings that feel like old friends every time you have the pleasure to return to when you pick up a new installment. The Detective Josie Quinn series is exactly that for me. I’ve been a fan of this detective series ever since I read the first book back in 2018, and I’ve devoured every single sequel since then. This series is known for its lightning fast and action-packed plots, and I can definitely recommend clearing your schedule as it will be really hard to stop reading once you’ve read the first chapters. These books are highly addictive and simply exhilarating!

While technically you could read Breathe Your Last as a stand-alone, I would suggest reading the books in order as you will be missing out on significant character background otherwise. And trust me, you will be missing out on hours and hours of detective thriller entertainment in the first place! Breathe Your Last has once again a very interesting plot as well as developments on a personal level for Josie Quinn. It might not be all too credible to have that many criminals and serial killers running around in the small town of Denton, but I’m not complaining as it means more Josie Quinn adventures to enjoy! Things can be said about the credibility in general, but I personally don’t mind as I’m always too busy turning those pages and having fun.

We get to see the story unfold both through the eyes of Josie and the killer. The chapters with the killer’s POV were particularly interesting, as I always appreciate an opportunity to get a glimpse inside the head of a serial killer. The plot was another interesting one, and you will find yourself on the edge of your seat as the case starts to develop. It definitely won’t be easy to guess the identity of the killer early either! You will also find a healthy dose of action and suspense, and I confess at one point towards the ending my heart nearly stopped and I suddenly wanted to throw my kindle at the wall… Trust me, you will know exactly what I’m talking about as soon as you reach that point in the story. I really liked how everything was wrapped up though, and I’m already looking forward to the next one. What a read!

If you enjoy a well written, fast and action-packed detective thriller series that just keeps delivering, you should definitely find the time to schedule a meeting with Josie Quinn. This is without doubt one of my favorite detective series, and Breathe Your Last is another winner!


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AUDIO ARC REVIEW: Furia – by Yamile Saied Méndez

Title: Furia
Author: Yamile Saied Méndez
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: September 15th 2020
Publisher: Workman Audio
Finished reading: October 30th 2020
Pages: 368

Duration audiobook 8 Hours, 51 Minutes, 38 Seconds
Narrated by Sol Madariaga

“I’d leave this house the first chance I got, but not by chasing after a boy, including my brother. I’d do it on my own terms, following my dreams, not someone else’s.”

*** A copy of this audiobook was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Workman Audio in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I confess that I have a weak spot for any story with a Latin American setting, and any story set in Argentina will instantly have a special place in my heart. As an immigrant who has had the opportunity to live in Argentina during (most of) the last decade, I love seeing the Argentinian culture and customs portrayed in my stories. As soon as I read the blurb of Furia, I knew I was going to be in for a treat. The setting in Rosario (a city I’ve had the chance to visit a couple of times over the years) as well as the prejudice the main character has to face as a female soccer player had me fully intrigued… And it most definitely turned out to be a powerful listen.

I know that I’m still a newby when it comes to the whole audiobook experience, and I also confess that I still prefer reading the stories myself, but there is just something about listening to a book set in Argentina that is narrated by someone with an Argentinian accent. While I do understand that some might be put off by this as non-Spanish speakers might be having a more difficult time understanding the many Spanish phrases thrown in, I personally felt it gave the story a real sense of authenticity. Sol Madariaga‘s voice grew on me almost immediately and I applaude her fluidity switching between English and (Argentinian) Spanish flawlessly. The pace and flow of the audiobook were just right for me, and I had no problems at all keeping up with the story. And I think that this audiobook might just only have enhanced my experience with this story for me.

Like I mentioned before, Furia is set in Argentina and it shows. Not only do we have many thorough descriptions of Rosario and Argentinian customs in general, but this story also deals with social issues including domestic abuse and violence. The all-popular soccer is another very important element of course, and the power of this sport can be felt throughout the story. It doesn’t stop there though, as Furia is made even more authentic through the use of many many (Argentinian) Spanish words and phrases that are woven expertly into the plot and dialogue. While I do understand that non-Spanish speakers might seem them as a burden, I personally loved how it gave the story that true Argentinian flavor.

I personally more of a rugby fan, but I have seen with my own eyes just how important soccer is in Argentina and I really liked how the sport was incorporated into the plot. Furia is about soccer as well as the struggles of the main character as a female soccer player, and the writing really made the sport and its players come alive for me. As for the characters… Camila was quite easy to warm up to, although I did end up having mixed thoughts about her. Why? I don’t want to give away spoilers, but the constant lying and ‘hot and cold’ treatment of Diego did get on my nerves… And I particularly found the whole keeping her soccer playing a secret for over a year unbelievable. Again, why? Well, let’s just say that people love to talk and gossip down here, and the soccer passion is in the blood of most… So I just don’t believe nobody ever mentioned something to her parents before, especially with her brother being a well known player too.

That said, I did enjoy most of this story and it felt like a true ode to Argentinian soccer and culture. Lighter moments and romance are mixed with heavier topics, and all in all Furia turned out to be a satisfying story to listen to. I can definitely recommend the audio version, but I would advice non-Spanish speakers to approach with caution as you might struggle understanding the Spanish words and phrases in the audio even though they do make the story feel more authentic.


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ARC REVIEW: Harrow Lake – by Kat Ellis

Title: Harrow Lake
Author: Kat Ellis
Genre: YA, Thriller, Horror
First published: July 9th 2020
Publisher: Penguin
Finished reading: November 2nd 2020
Pages: 320

“But when you’re alone in the dark, impossible things grow bones and flesh.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Penguin in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I’ve been curious about Harrow Lake ever since I first read the blurb. The horror movie element, the small town where strange things happen… It sounded like the perfect premise for a creepy read, and also a perfect story to read close to Halloween. And while I did end up having mixed thoughts, I can’t deny that Harrow Lake nailed that creepy and eerie vibe.

There is no doubt that the star of the show is the town, Harrow Lake, itself. Between the many descriptions, background as well as what is happening in the present, this town gives us the perfect backdrop for the story. Creepy, eerie and with a hint of the supernatural… It gives us that perfect ominous feel and a hint of foreboding; you just feel in your bones things are going to get out of hand fast. The history behind Harrow Lake was intriguing, and I loved how seamlessly the story switched between the supernatural and the ‘real’ world. I could also really appreciate the important role the horror movie Nightjar played throughout the story. As Lola revisits the many places that were part of the movie her father filmed there, you will learn more about the town itself as well as her missing mother… The upcoming movie festival also adds that little something extra to the plot.

That said, I can’t say that I was charmed by the main characters at all. Especially Lola started to get really annoying, and I swear that if she says ‘Optimal‘ one more time I’m going to smack her in the head. I found her personality itself to be rather bland too… And I didn’t really get a proper feel off the rest of the characters either. Like I said before, the town itself is the true star of the show and I almost felt like it had more personality than the characters itself… I can’t say that I was a fan of the ending either, and I saw some of the twists coming quite early on. The writing did make it quite easy to keep reading though.

All in all it wasn’t a bad read and I most definitely loved the horror movie element as well as that eerie Harrow Lake setting, but there were also elements that didn’t work that well for me. If you like creepy reads with a hint of the supernatural and a thoroughly developed eerie small town setting, Harrow Lake might just be for you.


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ARC REVIEW: The Last Thing To Burn – by Will Dean

Title: The Last Thing To Burn
Author: Will Dean
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: January 21st 2021
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton / Atria Books
Finished reading: November 4th 2020
Pages: 256

“There is no handcuff keeping me here, there is no manacle locked around my ankle. And yet I am imprisoned.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton/Atria Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I really enjoyed Will Dean‘s writing in his Tuva Moodyson series, so I knew I wanted to read this stand-alone as soon as I first heard about it. I mean, have you seen that blurb?! A man keeping an illegal woman trapped in his home, pretending to be his wife… That most definitely sounds like a rock solid premise to build your story around. I had a feeling that I was going to enjoy my time with The Last Thing To Burn, and my instincts turned out to be absolutely right. You will want to clear your schedule for this one, as it will be REALLY hard to stop reading before you reach that final page. Unputdownable indeed!

Like I said, the premise itself is rock solid. While you can argue that nothing much is going on, as it is basically the two main characters inside the same house in the middle of nowhere during most of the story… But its power is in its simplicity. With other distractions stripped away, the sole spotlight is on that house and what happens inside. This gives the story an even bigger impact, and the descriptions of the tired house and its surroundings most definitely set the right tone for the story. An air of desperation, loneliness and a hint of foreboding… You will know things will escalate, and the future seems bleak, but you won’t be able to stop reading to see if things will improve against all odds.

The Last Thing To Burn is a character-driven story, and the focus is mainly on Thanh (Jane) and her ‘husband’. We see the events unfold through Thanh’s eyes as we learn a little about the past, but mainly about what happens in the present. It’s a truly terrifying and inhumane situation she finds herself in, something so hopeless that it is hard to imagine how she could ever find a way out of it all… Plot developments and twists will arrive along the way, both showing her strength and moral dilemma as she considers the consequences of her actions if he finds out. The last part of The Last Thing To Burn definitely amps up the suspense and action, and I was literally biting my nails as I kept turning those pages. The ending was more than satisfying!

All in all The Last Thing To Burn is a brilliantly written, atmospheric and suspenseful character-driven thriller and a title to watch out for in 2021. Enjoy thrillers and wonder what to put on your wishlist for next year? You have found your next addition.


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ARC REVIEW: Across The Green Grass Fields – by Seanan McGuire

Title: Across The Green Grass Fields
(Wayward Children #6)
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: January 12th 2021
Publisher: Tor.com
Finished reading: October 2nd 2020
Pages: 208

“Anything with enough brain to know itself as an individual will reach out to others, looking for other eyes with which to see the world.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Tor.com in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I’ve been a fan of the Wayward Children series ever since I read the first book back in 2018, and each new installment has been a most-anticipated release without fail. I simply couldn’t resist reading Across The Green Grass Fields almost as soon as my request was approved… I was THAT excited to have this title hanging out on my kindle months early. I most definitely didn’t expect to have mixed feelings about this newest installment though… But it is what it is I guess.

Across The Green Grass Fields is already book number six of the series, but it can be read as a stand-alone perfectly as it only contains new characters. The whole magic behind the ‘door to a different world’ is quite easy to understand without the background knowledge of the previous books, so you wouldn’t have any difficulties understanding the idea behind this story. That said, I did prefer the previous books over this one, so maybe reading them in order is worth it anyway? Across The Green Grass Fields is by no means a bad read, but I just felt that spark of the previous installments was missing here.

I do have to say that I loved having an intersex main character; something I haven’t come across often during my years reading. Regan makes for an interesting character and I liked seeing the contrast between her situation in the ‘real’ world and the Hooflands. That said, I felt that the first part set in the real world dragged on for too long, and the pace was considerably slow there. Especially considering that this is a short story in the first place, and I would have loved to have more focus on the fantasy world. I understand that it was important to give Regan a background without just throwing in the intersex element and be done with it, but it took me a long time to properly warm up to the story with the way this first part was narrated.

I enjoyed the idea behind the Hooflands, with the centaurs, unicorns, kelpies and other creatures. As always, the worldbuilding of the fantasy world the main characters find themselves in is my favorite part of the story, and I would have loved to see even more background. It was interesting to see how the centaurs lived and took Regan in as one of their own, but again it felt a bit slow going and the final part considerably abrupt and quite an anti-climax. Was I surprised by the final twist? Yes. But I can’t say that the ending was exactly all that satisfying.

As a whole, Across The Green Grass Fields was sadly my least favorite Wayward Children story by far to this date… Between the slow parts, abrupt ending and too much focus on the ‘real’ world, the elements I did enjoy (including the worldbuilding of the Hooflands and Regan’s character) just didn’t make up for it. This might just have been me though, as most people did seem to love this story so far.


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BLOG TOUR EXTRACT: The Coral Bride – by Roxanne Bouchard #extract #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @RandomTTours

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Coral Bride Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. Today, I will be sharing an extract of the second Detective Morales book set in Canada. Originally written in French and expertly translated by David Warriner, in The Coral Bride Roxanne Bouchard returns to main character DS Joaquin Moralès as he once again struggles to conduct a proper investigation without interference. Curious already? Let’s look at the summary before we continue to the extract itself…

What an introduction! It sounds like our main character will have his hands full once again… The sea theme seems to be a trademark of this series, and will again play an all important role in the plot. Are you ready for more? Below an extract to entice you further…

EXTRACT Continue reading