YVO’S SHORTIES #66 – The Great Alone & Children Of Blood And Bone

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two highly popular books I’ve been a bit afraid to pick up, since hyped books and me don’t really get along… The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah turned out to be a huge success, while Children Of Blood And Bone by Tomi Adeyemi failed to blow me away completely.


Title: The Great Alone
Author: Kristin Hannah

Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: February 6th 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: November 20th 2018
Pages: 435

“All this time, Dad had taught Leni how dangerous the outside world was. The truth was that the biggest danger of all was in her own home.”


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After enjoying her other story The Nightingale in the past, I had high hopes for this one as well. I’ve heard lots of wonderful things about The Great Alone over time, and I’m glad to say I’m another one to join the fan club. The Great Alone is without doubt one of the best historical fiction stories I’ve read so far this year. I already knew the writing was going to be good, but that doesn’t take away I was overwhelmed by just how emotional, challenging and harrowing this story was going to be. The Alaskan setting is brilliantly developed and well described, making it feel as if you were discovering the island along with the characters. This setting was definitely a huge bonus! I also loved how the development of the setting reflected a development in the characters as well. The story is set in three different years (1974,1978, 1986), where we follow the same characters as Alaska changes them and things happen. Warning: The Great Alone is not a happy story. It is a story of survivors, emotional and hard to read. Trigger warnings are in place for abuse and violence… The development of the characters is excellent and makes them both feel realistic and easy to connect to. Especially Leni won over my heart easily (and Matthew of course!). Domestic abuse is a very difficult topic to write and read about, but I think Kristin Hannah did an excellent job of portraying it realistically. Did I feel frustrated sometimes by some of their actions? Definitely. But that doesn’t take away that I feel their situation was very realistically developed. There are a lot of difficult, sad and harrowing moments involved in The Great Alone, and I definitely suggest keeping a box of tissues close. But it is also a very rewarding read and I’m sure fans of both historical fiction and family dramas will love reading about Leni’s journey.


Title: Children Of Blood And Bone
(Legacy Of Orïsha #1)
Author: Tomi Adeyemi

Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: March 6th 2018
Publisher: Henry Holt And Co.
Finished reading: November 23rd 2018
Pages: 537

“You crushed us to build your monarchy on the backs of our blood and bone. Your mistake wasn’t keeping us alive. it was thinking we’d never fight back.”


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I wasn’t planning on reading this one at first. Hyped books and me don’t tend to get along, especially YA fantasy ones, and let’s face it: there has been a lot of hype around Children Of Blood And Bone. But there was just something about the cover and blurb that made me want to give it a go anyway. And while I do have to say that this first book of a new high fantasy series failed to blow me away completely, I can also understand the love for this story. In fact, I was going to give it an even higher rating before the appearance of the romance scenes… Which I felt were completely unnecessary and made me feel a little disappointed. The writing is good though, and I really like the idea behind Children Of Blood And Bone. While I did feel the many foreign sounding names and terms were a bit confusing in the beginning, they did add to the magical atmosphere. I admit I would have liked to see the worldbuilding a bit mor developed, with more details and sooner in the story to fully enjoy the setting. But the idea of the diviners and maji is fascinating as well as the different kinds of magic. The quest was a bit too simple to my taste, and the plot twists a bit too abrupt, but overall it was without doubt a very entertaining YA fantasy read with pleasant enough characters. They just didn’t really stand out for me.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #65 – The Cruel Prince & The Wife Between Us

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two very hyped books that (I should have known) didn’t live up to the hype for me even though they weren’t bad reads. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black and The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks &Sarah Pekkanen


Title: The Cruel Prince
(The Folk Of The Air #1)
Author: Holly Black

Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: January 2nd 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: November 17th 2018
Pages: 384

“Before, I never knew how far I would go. Now I believe I have the answer. I will go as far as there is to go. I will go way to far.”


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I have been hesitant, almost afraid to pick up The Cruel Prince for a long time. There has been such a hype around this book, and you all know how hyped books and me get along… But I figured I had waited enough to give it a try myself and see how I will react to the story. I was surprised when I saw just how well I reacted to the story initially. Of course I already knew I liked Holly Black‘s writing style, and this is part of the reason this story worked for me. And what a start! I like it when a YA fantasy story isn’t afraid to go dark and throw some blood and action at us. Things were going really well even though I’m not sure the plot itself is all that original. I would have liked to see the worldbuilding a little more developed and I think not enough attention was given to the description of the different characters. I mean, they are magical creatures and we only get so and so has a tail, that one has horns, that one has hooves etc? Without a more detailed description or more attention paid to the fact they are in fact not humans, I tended to forget about their special features completely after a few pages. The lack of sappy romance scenes in the beginning was a true relief though, although of course I should have had my hopes up. Of course the cliche romance scenes would come, and of course there would be another love triangle to deal with. Not talking about Locke, who I initially liked and came to despise. Jude is an interesting enough character though. While she in a way is just another typical strong female lead, I did enjoy reading about her development and how she would get themselves out of that mess. Did she lose points for the romance related actions in the second half? Most definitely yes. But I’m still intrigued enough to be looking forward to the second book. In short, while The Cruel Prince failed to blow me away completely, overall it was still a very entertaining read.


Title: The Wife Between Us
Author: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: January 9th 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: November 19th 2018
Pages: 346

“We all layer them over our remembrances; the filters through which we want to see our lives.”


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In a way I’ve been hesitant to pick up The Wife Between Us due to the enormous hype around it earlier this year. I almost never react well to hyped books, but I was also curious about this title so I decided to give it a go. Now I’ve read it, I’m not sure what to make of it. I guess it’s unpopular opinion time again! I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but part of the reason The Wife Between Us didn’t manage to convince me probably has to do with the fact I felt this book was simply trying to hard. Sure, there are a LOT of twists involved and a lot of things I couldn’t guess beforehand, but I’m not sure if I actually LIKE how these plot twists are presented or developed. Instead of being shocked and saying ‘wow, I definitely didn’t see that coming!’, I was mostly left confused and not in a good way. Let’s just say my eyebrows worked overtime with this one… I’m not denying some of the twists were very clever, but they just didn’t do it for me (mostly related to the feeling this story was trying too hard). The writing style itself was pleasant to read and the unreliable narrator technique well used. It’s by no means a bad read and I can understand the love for it, but sadly The Wife Between Us just didn’t hit the mark for me.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #64: An Officer And A Spy (DNF) & Educated

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two books that didn’t manage to convince me. The first, An Officer And A Spy by Robbert Harris, sadly a DNF, something that rarely happens. And I had high hopes for Educated by Tara Westover after so many glowing reviews, but I guess it’s unpopular opinion time again.


Title: An Officer And A Spy
Author: Robert Harris

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
First published: September 26th 2013
Publisher: Knopf
Finished reading: November 12th 2018 
Pages: 429
DNF at 30% (129 pages)

“It seems to be a necessary part of the criminal mentality: to survive captivity, one must somehow convince oneself one is not guilty.”


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An Officer And A Spy is one of my TBR jar picks and a title I’ve been meaning to read for a while. I had been looking forward to it despite the mixed reviews, mostly because the setting sounded fascinating. I still think the setting on its own is very interesting and the general plot has a lot of potential. A possibly wrongly convicted officer, espionage, the threat of a war and other struggles definitely sound like a good recipe for a successful historical fiction read. Sadly, the execution of those elements in An Officer And A Spy just didn’t work for me. I have picked it up only to put it down again after only a few pages multiple times over the last few weeks. I’ve tried and tried to at least make it to the end to see if things improved later on, but in the end I decided to make the difficult decision to just DNF it. I hardly ever give up on a book, so it definitely makes me sad to do so… But between the superslow pace, writing style, too many descriptions and a lack of interest in both the plot and the characters, I think this was the right choice for me. An Officer And A Spy just never grabbed me and I was never able to stay interested in the story… It’s very possible this story simply wasn’t for me even though historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. A lot of readers did love it, so definitely don’t give up on it if you are thinking about reading it.


Title: Educated
Author: Tara Westover

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir
First published: February 20th 2018
Publisher: Random House
Finished reading: November 14th 2018
Pages: 352

“My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occured to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.”


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It’s unpopular opinion time again… You’ve been warned. 

I have been looking forward to finally read Educated for months now, especially after reading so many glowing reviews. This is probably one of the reasons my expectations might have been too high, that and the fact that this memoir has been compared to The Glass Castle. The fact is: I was quite underwhelmed by all of it. This was not what I was expecting, and I feel sad for feeling this way, but it is what it is… I’m going to try and explain the reasons why. First of all, I know that I’m a skeptical person, and I don’t tend to believe things easily just because they are written down on paper. I also had a hard time believing Tara Westover‘s story as it was written down. Please don’t tell me I’m implying she is a liar, which I’m not. I do believe that she wrote Educated based on her memories, memories that can have gotten distorted over time especially if her early life has been such a struggle. And I really had to take her story with a whole lot of grains of salt to be able to continue reading. Like I said, I’m not saying she hasn’t had a tough life, or that her family didn’t do what they did, just that I didn’t find her story as told credible. I mean, for a survivalist family living in the mountains they sure have a lot of luxuries including at some point even a phone, TV and internet (not talking about the enormous mansion they seem to be having in the end). Her family life definitely wasn’t standard, with them not even having a birth certificate for a long time, not going to school and working in the junkyard etc etc. But I would rather call it eccentric for the most part instead. Also, at one point she describes her father as bipolar, something that is never confirmed as the same disease prevents him getting a medical diagnose. Still, I would have liked to have seen this angle developed further rather than just throwing the ‘bipolar’ word out and leave it at that. Another thing that bothered me were the many many serious accidents, a few life threatening, and somehow they are all healed with essential oils and other herbal cures? I do believe in holistic treatments along with medical care, but this is just getting too hard to believe. (I’m not saying they weren’t injured, just that the injuries maybe weren’t as bad as they remembered?) Anyhow, this reckless behavior and indifference towards general safety of others and the ‘miracle’ recoveries were just too much for the skeptical person in me to handle. Another thing I found hard to believe? Where all the money came from. First we are told they are poor, then money starts popping up everywhere somehow. I can get why her childhood chapters are a bit vague about money, but how on earth did she get the money together to get into a prestigious college and university? I know there are grants, but they don’t cover it all and it is a LOT of money we are talking about and very prestigious and expensive education. I mean, she goes to the UK and studies abroad for a long time? And then travels back and forth between the US and the UK multiple times? The flights alone cost a fortune, and surely aren’t covered by grants. A real mystery to me. There is also the question how she got into college in the first place, especially since she was never really educated at home in the first place. Somehow being able to get a superhigh score just by teaching herself advanced math and everything else in the test just doesn’t come over as credible to the skeptical me. Maybe she had a higher level of education than stated in the memoir before she started preparing herself for the test? I don’t know, but as it is Educated wasn’t at all credible to me. I’m not saying her being able to get her degrees isn’t admirable, and I’m sure she’s had a hard life especially with her despicable brother Shawn (I’m not even going into the abuse and her brother here, or we could still be talking tomorrow), but sadly her memoir wasn’t able to convince me.


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ARC REVIEW: Her Final Confession – by Lisa Regan

Title: Her Final Confession
(Detective Josie Quinn #4)
Author: Lisa Regan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: November 28th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: November 11th 2018
Pages: 306

“Sometimes people get it wrong. Even when there is no good reason. Even when it’s the very last thing you’d expect them to do.”

*** 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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!! Happy publication day !!

I always have a weak spot for a good detective thriller series, and Detective Josie Quinn has quickly grown into one of my favorites. I have been enjoying spending time with his main character in the fictional city of Denton, and book number four is without doubt another great addition to the series. If you like your detective thrillers fast, intense and basically similar to crazy rollercoaster rides, you definitely have to try this series. What a ride! I wasn’t sure what else could be happening after all Denton and its habitants have already gone through, but Lisa Regan has another surprise in store and the plot intensifies. One of the reasons the series works this well is that the main characters are easy to like and connect to. Between this, the writing style and a gripping plot you will definitely want to free some of your time when you start reading Her Final Confession. Did I think some aspects of the plot were a bit too farfetched and not everything was credible? Without doubt. Does this take away from the overall credibility of the story and made me raise my eyebrows at points? Maybe. But the fact is: Her Final Confession is still one heck of an entertaining and intense ride and the story had me at serial killer. (Ok, technically long before that.) It was fascinating to find out more about both Gretchen’s past and learn more about Josie… Even though some plot twists and facts were a bit too convenient and farfetched. This is the only minor flaw of what has been an excellent detective thriller series so far, and I’m already looking forward to the next installment.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first three books of this series yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

When the body of a young student is found on the driveway of Gretchen Palmer, a valuable member of Detective Josie Quinn’s team, Josie is sure Gretchen is innocent. But with Gretchen missing and no real clue as to what happened, Josie is forced to treat her as a suspect anyway. Even when Gretchen finally shows up and even confesses to the crime, Josie doesn’t believe she has killed the boy. And Josie is determined to find out the identity of the real killer instead. This means digging into Gretchen’s past, something that turns out to be more dangerous than they thought…

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I have consistently enjoyed the books of this detective thriller series so far and book number four is no different. Her Final Confession is fast, suspenseful and filled with plot twists and shocking surprises. Intense is an understatement! While not everything about the plot and twists is exactly credible, it’s still quite easy to forget about the credibility and enjoy the ride anyway. The writing style and the characters have a lot to do with this! Entertaining, intense and full of suspense: Her Final Confession is without doubt another excellent addition!


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ARC REVIEW: Cold Dark Places – by Kylie Brant @amazonpub

Title: Cold Dark Places
(Cady Maddix Mystery #1)
Author: Kylie Brant
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 4th 2018
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: November 18th 2018
Pages: 350

“People didn’t always act the way they should. Not even grown-ups. Sometimes the people who were supposed to protect you from monsters were monsters themselves.”

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

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I admit I was sold as soon as I saw the cover and read the blurb. A stunning cover AND the promise of meeting a new twisted serial killer? Yes please! I have been looking forward to start Cold Dark Places and there is no doubt that the story delivered. This complex, action-packed and heart stoppingly good thriller was everything I hoped for and more… The perfect start of a new series. What I liked is that Cold Dark Places isn’t just another detective thriller and instead treats us to a multiple POV story where we get to follow four different characters including the killer, two different law inforcement angles and a young woman with mental health issues. And that is not all: we also get a dose of flashbacks helping to reveal more about the past. This seems like a lot to stuff into just one thriller, but somehow Kylie Brant makes it work. A lot of this has to do with the excellent writing and a fast pace that will sweep you away until you have somehow reached the final page. The plot development and use of suspense and plot twists is also spot on: being able to create a constant atmosphere of urgency, danger and suspense. There is a lot of action involved as the hunt for the escaped killer is on, but this is not the only angle of the story. It is also about Eryn, her past and her mental issues, and we get indirect hints about Cady’s past as well. It was interesting to see how the different storylines slowly connected, and Cold Dark Places definitely has some shocking surprises in store for you. If you like your thrillers fast, action-packed, disturbing and suspenseful, this new series definitely is for you. Trigger warnings are in place for sexual and child abuse, violence and graphic scenes in general.

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When child killer Samuel Aldeen breaks out of a well guarded facility for the criminally insane, it is all hands on deck and everyone is called in to aid during the hunt. The authorities believe he had accomplices both on the inside and out, and it’s a race against the clock to find out their identities. Cady Maddix is one of the persons called in to track all of them down. When an unexpected lead brings her to Eryn Pullman, a young woman recently released from a closeby psychiatric facility, it not only brings back flashbacks of her own past but also more questions about the killer’s true motive behind his escape…

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I had a good feeling about Cold Dark Places and it turns out my instincts were right. I do love my detective thrillers, but I also love when a story is able to bring something original to the mix. Being able to get a glimpse inside of the head of both the serial killer Samuel and Eryn as well was simply fascinating. Another bonus was that both other POV characters Cady and Ryder were easy to like… The writing is spot on, the pace is superfast, the plot twists are brutal. Oh yes, this was one hell of a ride and an excellently constructed and complex one at that. I’ll be looking forward to see more of Cady Maddix in the future!


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ARC REVIEW: The Liar’s Wife – by Samantha Hayes @bookouture

Title: The Liar’s Wife
Author: Samantha Hayes
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: November 22nd 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: November 8th 2018
Pages: 372

“Someone who doesn’t even know her. Someone who doesn’t know that she’s trapped. Stuck inside her own nightmare.”

*** 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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!! Happy publication day !!

First of all, excuse me while I go and pick up my jaw off the floor. Flabbergasted, baffled, shocked, astonished… I can keep on stacking one synonym on top of the other, but I think you got the idea. The Liar’s Wife surprised me. Blew me away. I literally couldn’t believe my eyes as I tore through the pages, my brain screaming ‘do not compute!’ over and over again. Oh yes, this one is a shocker indeed. It will also grab you from the start and won’t let go, so make sure to free up your schedule before you start reading The Liar’s Wife. One of the most original and twisted psychological thriller plots I’ve seen in a while… And it get’s better. It was my first experience with Samantha Hayes’ writing, and it definitely won’t be my last. Because I was completely hooked by her writing style, pacing and way of constructing her plot and plot twists. The Liar’s Wife mixes chapters set in the past and present, always dangling that wanted carrot in front of you without actually revealing the information you are dying to discover. This development of the suspense and the use of plot twist and the dual time line is simply spot on. The Liar’s Wife has quite a few shocking surprises in store for you, and you won’t believe the ending! Any psychological thriller fan should add The Liar’s Wife to their wishlist. Trust me, it’s worth it. Just bear in mind a few trigger warnings are in place for abuse, rape and some graphic scenes.


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Ella has kept during herself during most of her adult life, working hard and never interested in socialising. She likes it that way, feeling safe and comfortable with her own predictable schedule. Everything changes forever when Ella wakes up one day in the hospital after she was hit by a van on her way home from work. She has been in an induced coma for days and is still scared an confused as she wakes up… But not so confused that she doesn’t know she isn’t actually married like her nurse and the get-well-soon card in her room claim. In fact, she has been alone for a long time. Who is this man that claims to be her husband? Fear paralyzes her as soon as she finds out his identity… And she has no choice but to play along with his sick game.

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If the blurb of The Liar’s Wife doesn’t convince you already, I can promise you that this is only just the tip of the huge iceberg of plot twists, shocking surprises and suspenseful scenes that this story has in store for you. Make sure to free some time, because you will want to keep turning those pages until you find out what exactly happened all that time ago and how everything fits with what is happening now. Without doubt an excellent psychological thriller and a very satisfying read despite some difficult themes.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #60 – Baby Teeth & The Chalk Man

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two creepy 2018 reads that were right up my alley: Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage and The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor.


Title: Baby Teeth
Author: Zoje Stage

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 17th 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: October 30th 2018
Pages: 304

“It was hard to pour endless love into someone who wouldn’t love you back. No one could do it forever.”


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There has been a lot of talk about Baby Teeth ever since it was published, and I have been looking forward to read it myself. Even though I remember comments about Hanna, I didn’t realize fully just how creepy this read was going to be. I understand all those comments now, because she truly is something that comes right out of your worst nightmare! She most definitely gave me the creeps and more; the next time they ask when we are finally having kids, I’ll refer them to Baby Teeth instead. I like the writing style and was soon fully absorbed in the story. I literally finished it in less than a day! Because as soon as Hanna had me in her claws (or do I have to say teeth), I wasn’t able to let go until I found out just how far things would go. The suspense and plot building is very well done, and I really liked how the story also shined a light on the autoimmune disease Crohn. I also loved the fact that we have a Swedish main character and both culture and language are referenced to in the story. There was a lot to love in Baby Teeth, and the only thing I questioned was the ending. Not only was it sort of an anti-climax, but the ending was also quite open and made me wonder if there will be a sequel one day? Otherwise, the ending is actually quite disappointing.


Title: The Chalk Man
Author: C.J. Tudor

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: January 9th 2018
Publisher: Crown
Finished reading: November 2nd 2018
Pages: 288

“What shapes us is not always our achievements but our omissions. Not lies; simply the truths we don’t tell.”

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I’m sure I’m about the last person on the planet to read The Chalk Man, but you know how things go with other titles getting in the way… The good thing about it is that with a good couple of months going by before picking it up is that I have since forgotten exactly what the story was about. I like going into stories blind, and this definitely enhanced the reading experience for me here. The Chalk Man has been said to having that Stranger Things feel and isn’t just another crime thriller. There is something more going on that is hard to put your finger on, something that will both keep you on edge and brings a whole lot of suspense on board. This is one of those stories where the dual timeline actually worked for me. Even though I liked the chapters set in 1986 slightly better, I had a great time reading the story as a whole. The plot and character development, plot twists and suspense building are all excellently done. Your mind is thrown back and forward as you try to figure out what happened all those years ago and what is happening right now. This dual tension in both past and present makes The Chalk Man even more intense, and you will have a hard time letting this one go before you have all the answers. An excellent debut and I’ll be looking forward to what the author will come up with next!


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