YVO’S SHORTIES #153 – I’ll Be Gone In The Dark & If I Stay

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two backlist titles with a completely different target group and genre, but both I’ve been meaning to read for a while and both were stories I ended up enjoying. The true crime title I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara and If I Stay by Gayle Forman.


Title: I’ll Be Gone In The Dark
Author: Michelle McNamara

Genre: Non Fiction, True Crime
First published: February 27th 2018
Publisher: Harper
Finished reading: February 25th 2020
Pages: 340

“If you commit murder and then vanish, what you leave behind isn’t just pain but absence, a supreme blankness that triumphs over everything else.”


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True crime has always intrigued me, so I’m not sure why I don’t pick it up more often… I’ve been meaning to read I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara ever since it was first published two years ago, but somehow I just never got to it. I’m happy I finally did pick it up though. I confess I hadn’t heard of the Golden State Killer before, so this book was a true goldmine filled to the brim with information about his crimes and the investigation as it evolved both back in the 1970s and 1980s when they were first investigated as well as the cold case investigation in the 21st century with the help of DNA tests. True crime journalist Michelle McNamara played a big role in the investigation around the identity behind the Golden State Killer and it is sad that her untimely death ment she wasn’t able to see the guy finally get caught in 2018… Still, I’ll Be Gone In The Dark shows just how talented and determined the author was in her investigation and I can imagine just how big of a help she was in uncovering the truth after all that time. The details of the Golden State Killer crimes, both the rapes, home invasions and the murders, are pretty brutal and it’s hard to believe that with so many victims and attacks he was still able to escape justice for this long… I’ll Be Gone In The Dark doesn’t sugarcoat the graphic and gruesome facts, and definitely makes you glad you weren’t living in the areas mentioned back then… Or at least rethink about how terrifying the knowledge that someone dangerous is prowling close to where you live is, and how difficult it would be to defend yourself if he suddenly shows up in your bedroom that way. Definitely not a read for those with a weak stomach, but more than recommended if you are a true crime fan!


Title: If I Stay
(If I Stay #1)
Author: Gayle Forman

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 2nd 2009
Publisher: Speak
Finished reading: March 3rd 2020
Pages: 196

“He got it before I did. If I stay. If I live. It’s up to me.”


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I’m probably the last person on the planet to read this one! I’ve been meaning to try If I Stay for years now, but to be honest I wasn’t so sure if this story would be for me… I was afraid it was going to be too sappy and cliche for me, and that the hype around it simply wasn’t worth it. I confess I kept my expectations low, and the unexpected happened: I ended up being so much more invested in this story about Mia and Adam than I thought I would be! While I do feel part of the plot is a bit cliche, and especially the flashbacks can be a bit slow, there were also other elements I really loved. The most important of them being just how important music is throughout the story. Both the classical cello and the rock guitar come together beautifully and also represent the different characters in play in If I Stay… Somehow I ended up rooting for Mia and Adam despite the cliches, and I loved the fact that we saw the present story progress from the point of view of Mia’s unconscious self. Definitely an unique angle! The story introduces questions about life and death and it was intriguing to see Mia struggle to decide whether to stay or let go after this tragedy… Cliches and sometimes slow pace aside, I had a great time reading If I Stay and I might even have almost shed a tear or two at some point.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #152 – Blue Night & Beton Rouge by Simone Buchholz

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around the first two books of the Chas Riley series (at least the first that have been translated from German); a series I’ve been meaning to read for a while now and the current blog tour for the third book Mexico Street was a perfect excuse to finally catch up. I admit I was a bit confused in the beginning, but once I warmed up to the writing and got to know who was who, I was fully hooked!


Title: Blue Night
(Chas Riley #6)
Author: Simone Buchholz

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 7th 2016
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: February 27th 2020
Pages: 276
(Originally written in German: ‘Blaue Nacht’)

“We just let ourselves fall into the mist and all the sad things run under their own steam. Loneliness, for example. Or fear. Or being cut off from everything.”


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Blue Night has been on my radar for a while now… Both because I’m a huge sucker for any drugs and/or organized crime angle and because more than one trusted fellow blogger has recommended the series in the past. I’m definitely not disappointed by what I found! While Blue Night is the first Chas Riley title that has been translated into English and is technically called the first book of a new crime series, it is in fact already book number six published in German and it showed in my less than smooth first experience when I started Blue Night. Why? Let’s just say that it felt like I was thrown into the deep end without any helping hand or any helpful background information to make the introduction to Chastity Riley and the others a little smoother. It took me a while to get used to the short and snappy writing style, and I also had a hard time figuring out who was who in the beginning. The flashback chapters were especially confusing at first, as you have no background as to who is who and how they all fit together. I honestly wasn’t sure if this story would be for me… BUT. Somehow, after I decided to take a little break and continue with fresh eyes, I started to warm up to Blue Night. Once I got the hang of both the writing style and the different characters in play, I was hooked. Or more than hooked; I literally devoured the pages, hungry for more. The writing style sure is something else, and combined with the unique and diverse cast of characters and the fascinating plot this was definitely a slowburner turned explosive pageturner for me. Definitely recommended if you enjoy an original, sharp and action-packed crime thriller and don’t mind being kept in the dark for a bit until you get used to the unique writing style and cast of characters.


Title: Beton Rouge
(Chas Riley #7)
Author: Simone Buchholz

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: August 7th 2017
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: February 28th 2020
Pages: 276
(Originally written in German: ‘Beton Rouge’)

“Breathing this haze, which seems to soak up the big-city smog like a sponge, is a bit like smoking. I also light a cigarette – double poisoning is more reliable.”


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While it took me some time to get used to the writing style and characters in Blue Night, I had no such problem with Beton Rouge. I was fully hooked as soon as I read the first chapter, and the same short and snappy chapters kept me turning those pages like there was no tomorrow. I definitely managed to race through my second Chas Riley book in no time at all! Beton Rouge is a lot more ‘readable’ and easier to follow for those who, like me, don’t know a lot about the background of the main characters. This makes it quite easy to read Beton Rouge as a stand-alone as well, although the characters are worth sticking around and reading the other books for. Chas is an absolutely brilliant character and I just love her sass and sarcasm… The cast of characters in general is diverse, well developed and they truly feel unique and quirky; they all add that little je ne sais quoi to the story and really take this series to the next level. The case Chase finds herself involved in this time around is without doubt intriguing as well, and I had a great time following her as she was trying to solve the puzzle involving the tortured men showing up unconscious in cages. The plot and plot twists work perfectly together with the short and snappy chapters, making it impossible to stop reading as you simply keep devouring those pages. There are no diet restrictions possible here! Chas and the rest of her crew will have you under their spell, and you won’t be let go until after you read the final shocking new developments. Trust me, you will be dying to read the next book as soon as you finish Beton Rouge! This series is quickly turning into a new favorite of mine.


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ARC REVIEW: The Electric Heir – by Victoria Lee

Title: The Electric Heir
(Feverwake #2)

Author: Victoria Lee
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: March 17th 2020
Publisher: Skyscape
Finished reading: January 10th 2020
Pages: 479

“Just because something is a stereotype doesn’t make it true.”

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

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After enjoying the first book of this duology last year, I was excited to meet up with the main characters again in The Electric Heir. But before we continue with my rambles, can we just take a second to admire this absolutely gorgeous cover? Both Feverwake covers are simply stunning and most definitely fit this story as well, as it can be seen as a direct reference to the magical powers so fundamental to this story. Cover love aside, there are quite a few other elements that made this duology work for me.

The first thing that stands out in the Feverwake books is the dystopian setting and worldbuilding in general. While not entirely original, the dystopian world where a magical virus ravages the world, killing most and leaving the survivors with supernatural powers, is without doubt intriguing. While roughly based on actual US states and cities by name, the story has an obvious dystopian feel both because the country and government as we know it is long gone and the story is actually set in the future (2123 to be exact). The worldbuilding itself isn’t all that extensive, but solid enough to give the story the right backdrop.

One of the things I liked most about both books was the magic and the fact that there was a wide range of different supernatural powers as well as level of strength after surviving the virus. It was interesting to see the different characters develop their power over time as well as seeing the power change them… And as the blurb already states, the sudden absence of that power too. Magic is without doubt essential to the plot and definitely spiced up this story! As for the plot itself… It was interesting to see the new direction this story took. Lehrer is clearly the supervillian of this story and the main goal is to defeat him before things really spin out of control. I do admit that some parts of the plot were quite cliche and the pace can be considerably slow in points. Especially the second made the story drag in certain parts, but overall curiosity won out as I wanted to know how it would all end.

There are a lot of trigger warnings involved when it comes to The Electric Heir, including genocide, abuse, rape, mental health, suicide and addiction (full list available on the author’s website). There are a lot of deeper meanings to be uncovered while reading this duology and some parts even give off a political vibe, but I personally thought this only gave the story a little something extra. There are quite a lot of heavy elements included in The Electric Heir and if you are looking for a balanced and happy story this would definitely be the wrong place to look for it. But life isn’t all about happy endings and it made this story feel a lot more realistic because of it. I personally found the ending itself of The Electric Heir a bit abrupt, but I guess it does give you closure and all in all it’s a well rounded duology that wrapped things up nicely. If you are looking for an entertaining YA dystopia that isn’t afraid to go dark, love a good LGBT romance and don’t mind a dose of teen angst and a slower pace, this Feverwake duology is definitely for you.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #151 – (Modern) Classics Edition

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a flash round with very short shorties reviews featuring four (modern) classics I’ve read recently.


Title: A Study In Scarlet
(Sherlock Holmes #1)
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle

Genre: Classics, Mystery, Thriller
First published: 1887
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Finished reading: January 31st 2020
Pages: 143

“There’s a scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.”


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I’ve been meaning to meet up with the original Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson for ages now, and after watching the Netflix series and a recent mention in another book, I finally had the perfect excuse to do so. I must have read various retellings over the years as well as watch more than one screen adaptation, but it was without doubt fun to go back to the roots and see how the original Holmes Arthur Conan Doyle created was like. I was already familiar with most of the details of the case in A Study In Scarlet, so that didn’t come as a big surprise for me… What was a huge surprise to say the least was the second part of this first installment. Part two is seemingly completely different from the first part with Sherlock and Watson and is set in the US rather than the UK… A story about a man and a little girl rescued by the Mormons, forced to join their beliefs or face the consequences when disobeying. I personally found this part to be far less interesting and a bit too dragged out, and only towards the ending you will understand why this story is included. I highly enjoyed the first part and the ending though and I will definitely continue with the series soon.


Title: The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Genre: Classics, Fiction
First published: May 27th 1922
Publisher: Juniper Grove
Finished reading: January 31st 2020
Pages: 41

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want.”


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The movie adapation of The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button recently popped up in my mind and I remembered I somehow never read the short story it was based on despite wanting to do so. Since it’s a supershort read with only 41 pages, I decided to squeeze it in between my other books I was planning to read… It is without doubt a quick and quite entertaining read, although it did leave me wanting for more. This could have been such a perfect story for a full blown novel, as right now we don’t see a lot of dept, character development or insight in the different ages of Benjamin Button. That’s probably why I think I prefer the movie in this case? That said, if you are looking for a quick and surprisingly fun classic to read, this is a great choice for sure. I just don’t want to think about the poor Mrs. Button for having to give birth to a seventy-year-old man though! xD


Title: Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer
Author: Patrick Süskind

Genre: Classics, Thriller, Crime
First published: 1985
Publisher: Penguin Books
Finished reading: February 5th 2020
Pages: 263
(Originally written in German: ‘Das Parfum: Die Geschichte eines Mörders’)

“Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odor cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it.”


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This story had intrigued me ever since I first watched the movie years back, but somehow it took me a long time to finally make time for the original story. I’m definitely glad I finally did read the book! Patrick Süskind has a way with his words that really makes the descriptions come alive and Grenouille’s story is both horrifying and absolutely fascinating at the same time. I already knew what was going to come as I’ve seen the movie muliple times, but even so I highly enjoyed reading this modern classic. The building up to the moment Grenouille turns into a real ‘monster’ is excellently done. There is something strange and almost supernatural about his character from the start, with him having no smell and his extraordinary nose for detecting and identifying the most minimal scent… His character development is the main focus of the story, as well as anything involving scents of course. A dark and quite shocking serial killer thriller set in 18th century France, and without doubt a great pick if you are looking for an intriguing and engaging modern classic to read.


Title: Peter Pan
Author: J.M. Barrie

Genre: Classics, Children, Fantasy
First published: December 27th 1904
Publisher: Puffin
Finished reading: February 18th 2020
Pages: 207

“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.”


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I loved watching the Peter Pan adaptations when I was little, so I fully expected to love the original story and classic as well… But I guess it wasn’t ment to be. Warning: it’s unpopular opinion time again! I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t a fan of the writing at all and except for a few entertaining moments I found the story mostly dull and rather slowpaced… I even started skimreading at one point and that is never a good sign. The story just never managed to grab me and I kept wondering if I left it too late and maybe would have had a complete different experience as a child? That said, I definitely didn’t enjoy the story at all as an adult, while the adaptations still manage to entertain me even now. The story was also a lot darker and chaotic than expected, something that came as quite a surprise. Oh yes, the original Peter Pan definitely wasn’t my cup of tea, and turned out to be quite a disappointing experience to be honest. I’ll stick with the adaptations this time around!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #144 – The One & A Dark And Twisted Tide

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a double thriller dose… I’ve been meaning to read The One by John Marrs for ages and I’m definitely kicking myself now, because I’ve found myself a new favorite! And I decided to read the final Lacey Flint book while memories of book three were still fresh… A Dark And Twisted Tide isn’t my favorite of the bunch, but still an entertaining read.


Title: The One
Author: John Marrs

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Science Fiction
First published: July 15th 2016
Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Finished reading: January 10th 2020
Pages: 416

“They say you can’t miss what you’ve never had, but that’s not true.”


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I’ve been meaning to read The One for ages, and I’m still not sure why it took me this long to do so. I’m definitely kicking myself now, because I absolutely loved this one! The One has once again reconfirmed that John Marrs deserves to be on my list of favorite thriller authors and this story was absolutely brilliant. I literally cancelled all plans and flew through it in less than a day… The idea behind Match Your DNA is simply fascinating and makes for an excellent plot. It also makes you think about the ‘what if’ situation: if this test would actually exist, would you do it? Because as The One shows us, those matches not always have a happy ending… The story is divided into five different POVs, each with their own completely separate storyline and the only link between the different characters being them having found their Match. It’s like having five stories for the price of one! This structure gave the story a lot of dept and definitely took it to the next level for me. There are so many elements in play in the different storylines, each developed brilliantly into the plot. A serial killer, a Match on the other side of the planet, cancer, family issues, a same sex Match for a man about to be married, death and even the scientist who discovered the gen used to determine the matches… All of this and more will make its appearance before you reach that final page. There are so many twists and turns along the way, and your ideas about happy endings will soon be blown apart as secrets and plot twists come to light. There are so many shocking reveals in The One that it is easier to just keep your jaw on the floor until you reach the ending… The One might be based on the very romantic idea of finding your perfect Match, but it’s definitely mostly a mix of (family) drama and a solid thriller with a healthy dose of suspense and even crime sprinkled on top. A perfect recipe for a perfect read I already know will appear on my list of 2020 favorites!


Title: A Dark And Twisted Tide
(Lacey Flint #4)
Author: Sharon Bolton

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 8th 2014
Publisher: Bantam Press
Finished reading: January 12th 2020
Pages: 448

“Misery was like mud, she thought, as she turned on the water. It was greedy and jealous, grabbing hold and sucking you down. Misery stank like mud. It got in your eyes, making them sting and smart, and into your throat, drawing it closer and tighter so that you wondered how you’d ever breathe again.”


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I decided to go ahead and read the fourth and final book of the Lacey Flint series while memories of book three were still fresh… Especially since it ment that I would have one less unfinished series to worry about in 2020. Main character Lacey isn’t part of the actual investigation, but rather forced into the spotlight again… As A Dark And Twisted Tide will once again bring a killer to her doorstep (or boat in this case). While Lacey’s character is essentially an intriguing one with a mysterious background and all, somehow I never actually warmed up to her and this made it harder to connect to the series (with exception of book two). In this fourth and final book, the whole damaged and flawed main character was getting a bit old and I wasn’t really convinced by the tad chaotic plot and too many different storylines. I was also surprised to find the pace of the story a bit slow in points, and as a whole I don’t think it had the same quality of the last two books. That said, overall it was still quite an entertaining read and it was interesting to see how the story and series ended. I hoped this series would end on a higher note and I would have liked to see a bit more closure for the different characters, but at least the case in this fourth book did come to a close… In short, A Dark And Twisted Tide wasn’t my favorite of the series and could be a bit slow and chaotic in points, but overall it was still an entertaining ride.


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ARC REVIEW: The Neighbours – by Nicola Gill

Title: The Neighbours
Author: Nicola Gill
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
First published: January 23rd 2020
Publisher: Avon
Finished reading: October 21st 2019 
Pages: 400

“‘I was just trying to be the new Ginny.’ Cassie sighs. ‘Pity, because I think he really liked the old one.'”

*** 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 know this isn’t my usual genre, but there was just something about this title that spoke to me and I couldn’t resist requesting a copy. My instincts turned out to be right, because I ended up really enjoying my time with this story. If you are looking for a poignant and entertaining romcom with that Bridget Jones vibe, The Neighbours should definitely be on your 2020 wishlist.

It’s a superfast read and has both funny and more serious moments incorporated into the plot. Oh yes, it’s not all roses and sunshine in The Neighbours as more heavy themes as depression, suicide and cheating are incorporated into the plot. It was interesting to see how the author used these elements in her story and then balanced them with lighter moments and a dose of humor here and there. The plot itself might involve some cliches, but there is no doubt that it makes for an engaging read and fans of the genre will be more than pleased. The writing definitely makes you turn those pages fast enough, and I literally finished The Neighbours in one sitting. Whether you are looking for your next beach read or something to make you forget about the cold winter weather, this story will do the trick.

That said, I did have mixed thoughts about the main characters. It’s true that Ginny and Cassie make a very unlikely pair, and I did have a great time following their story and see their relationship grow. Cassie’s character is fascinating, with her being an older actress who is no longer as famous as she used to be… I liked her sass and ‘I don’t give a damn’ attitude and it was interesting to see other aspects of her personality developed as well. Ginny is an interesting character as well, although I did have issues with some of her character traits and decisions. Especially those relationship related and how she handles things in general… The whole love triangle vibe I could have done without as well, but those are only minor complaints for what is otherwise a very entertaining read.

In short, if you are looking for a fast, engaging, funny and sometimes poignant and heartbreaking romcom, this story is without doubt a great choice! I’m having the feeling fans of the genre will love this book.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #141 – On The Bright Side & Blood For Blood

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time I’m catching up with series… I’ve been wanting to read On The Bright Side ever since my first meeting with Hendrik Groen, and while I do prefer the first book, it was an excellent second meeting. And I wanted to read the first two books of the Ziba MacKenzie series after loving the third book last month, and while I do prefer that one Blood For Blood was still a very entertaining read.


Title: On The Bright Side
(Hendrik Groen #2)
Author: Hendrik Groen

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: January 27th 2016
Publisher: Penguin
Finished reading: December 27th 2019
Pages: 437
(Originally written in Dutch: ”Zolang er leven is)

“The most salient hallmark of life in an old-age home may well be the lack of duties or responsabilities. Everything is taen care of for you. There is no need for reflection. Life goes down as easily as custard without any lumps.”


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I loved my first meeting with Hendrik Groen, his character and personality reminding me of all time favorite Ove, and I have been waiting impatiently to meet up with him again in the sequel On The Bright Side. This series is written in diary form where we follow the daily life and adventures of an elderly Dutch man at his care home in Amsterdam. The Old-But-Not-Dead Club once again makes its appearance, along with the already known and treasured members of course. This is definitely a case where you should read the first book before starting the sequel, because you won’t understand or keep apart the characters otherwise! While it’s true that I thought that the sequel was a tiny bit slower and I enjoyed the first book a tiny bit better, I still loved spending time with Hendrik and the others. The diary entries are not only used to discuss daily life in a care home, but also talks about national and international happenings and politics. We also get to know the other main characters even better, albeit always through Hendrik’s eyes. On The Bright Side gives us humor and lighter moments as well as more heavy topics and there are definitely some sad moments before you reach the final page. If you loved A Man Called Ove you should definitely put meeting Hendrik on your list! His grumpy and slightly cheeky character is a true delight for anyone who can appreciate a truly unique character.


Title: Blood For Blood
(Ziba MacKenzie #1)
Author: Victoria Selman

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: February 1st 2019
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: December 30th 2019
Pages: 319

“I’ve been studying signature murderers for years. I know what drives them. I know what makes them tick. And I know that, like me, they’re also profilers.”


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I always try reading series in order, but sometimes mistakes are made and I didn’t realize Snakes And Ladders was the third book of a series when I got a copy on Netgalley. After loving that book and my first meeting with Ziba MacKenzie, I made a vow to myself to pick up the first two books ASAP while memories were still fresh… With the bonus that I would have one less series to catch up with in 2020 afterwards. Blood For Blood started with a bang and while this first book shows just how much this series has grown over time, I still had a great time reading it. It’s a quick, fast and entertaining read and I managed to read it in no time at all! While it’s true that I thought that Ziba was a bit too full-on, bitchy, arrogant and too eager to prove to everyone just how tough she is in Blood For Blood, I still liked her profiler angle and it was interesting to see where her character started and how she evolved over time. I also had some doubts about the credibility of certain aspects and plot twists, including the treasurehunt and certain actions of Ziba, but if you like your thrillers entertaining, fast and full of action you will find it quite easy to overlook those. I definitely didn’t realize hours had passed while I was flying through Blood For Blood!


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