YVO’S SHORTIES #142 – The Unhoneymooners & Nothing To Lose

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two completely different genres, but both books I ended up enjoying a lot and I literally flew through them. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren has once again proven to me I can really enjoy the romance genre if it’s done right and I’m in the right mood for me. Nothing To Lose by Victoria Selman is an entertaining sequel, although book three is still my favorite of the series so far…


Title: The Unhoneymooners
Author: Christina Lauren

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 14th 2019
Publisher: Gallery Books
Finished reading: January 2nd 2020
Pages: 416

“Warily, I leave this deceptively upbeat version of Satan in the living room to go get my suit on and pack a bag.”


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Huh, a romance title on It’s All About Books? I know, I know, it’s not exactly a genre I tend to read a lot, especially if there are sexy scenes involved, but there was just something about The Unhoneymooners that made me want to read it. And guess what? This book came exactly at the right time for me and I ended up having so much fun reading it! Nothing better than a proper and funny contemporary romance to help taking a little break from all those thriller reads… This was definitely a winner for me. The Unhoneymooners gave off pretty strong The Hating Game vibes, with the ‘enemy to lover’ trope and just the right amount of snarkiness and humor… And as I loved that story last year, I was more than happy with this comparison! From the setting in Maui to the writing, plot, characters and humor; everything worked perfectly together and I had a great time following Olive and Ethan during and after their time in Maui. While a certain character was absolutely despicable (you know who if you have read the story already), it was really easy to like both Olive and Ethan and their snarkiness and awkward moments made for a very entertaining read. And yes, I didn’t even mind the sexy scenes, which is a miracle on its own haha. I can understand why fans of the genre would absolutely adore The Unhoneymooners and I definitely want to read more of this author duo now. Yay for having more romance authors to turn to for when I’m in need of a change of genre!


Title: Nothing To Lose
(Ziba MacKenzie #2)
Author: Victoria Selman

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 26th 2019
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: January 3rd 2020
Pages: 356

“Serial murderers always make the headlines. It’s the rubbernecker phenomenon: evil fascinates us. But when it’s on our doorstep all that changes.”


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I decided to pick up the Ziba Mackenzie sequel almost immediately after finishing the first book so I’d have one less series to catch up with in 2020. While I thought the first book wasn’t nearly as strong as the third, I was really curious to see how book two would connect the two and how certain character developments and events were explained. And I have to admit that while book three is still my favorite of the series, I had a great time reading Nothing To Lose and managed to finish it in less than a day. If you like your thrillers fast, action-packed and filled with suspenseful moments, this series is definitely for you! That said, Ziba did once again bother me considerably in this sequel. Her arrogance and constant need to prove and repeat just how tough and badass she is really started to get on my nerves. It made her character a lot harder to like and also distracted from the plot… Although I’m happy that I at least didn’t have the same feeling when I read the third book last month. The plot of Nothing To Lose is without doubt an exciting one, and even evolves around two completely different cases: the active murder investigation of a new serial killer Ziba is assigned to and the mystery around the death of her husband Duncan two years ago. It might have been a bit much to handle, but there is also no doubt that as a consequence you won’t find a boring minute in Nothing To Lose and the suspense is high. This is definitely one of those series that keeps improving its quality with each book! I was surprised not to find any mention of one of the prominent characters (Dr Vernon Sange) of book three in this sequel though…


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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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WWW Wednesdays #250 – January 8th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m finally reading Things You Save In A Fire by Katherine Center, a title I’ve heard lots of fantastic things about and one I’ve been looking forward to since finishing How To Walk Away… I’m also starting The Home by Sarah Stovell for my upcoming blog tour stop, and I’m fully ready to be blown away as I already know I will most likely love it if it’s anything like her debut Exquisite.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren (4/5 stars) REVIEW 21/01
This book came exactly at the right time for me and I ended up having so much fun reading it! Nothing better than a proper and funny contemporary romance to help taking a little break from all those thriller reads… This was definitely a winner for me.

2. Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire (5/5 stars) REVIEW 
I loved every single minute with Come Tumbling Down and I already know it will appear on my list of 2020 favorites even this early on in the year. Oh yes, it’s THAT good! Simply electrifying.

3. Nothing To Lose by Victoria Selman (4/5 stars) REVIEW 21/01
I have to admit that while book three is still my favorite of the series, I had a great time reading Nothing To Lose and managed to finish it in less than a day. If you like your thrillers fast, action-packed and filled with suspenseful moments, this series is definitely for you!

4. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming (3/5 stars) NO REVIEW
I loved the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang movie adaptation with Dick Van Dyke when I was little… Even though I don’t remember all the details of the movie and it has been at least 20 years since I last saw it, I was curious to see what the original story was like. I’m not sure if my memory completely failed me, but this definitely wasn’t what I remembered of the movie, and I wasn’t all that impressed by what I found to be honest… I felt the spark the movie had was missing, and the plot and writing style just didn’t do it for me. The illustrations were a nice touch though!

5. Big Lies In A Small Town by Diane Chamberlain (4/5 stars) REVIEW 12/01
Big Lies In A Small Town is a historical fiction read that isn’t afraid to go big and throw a complex and wide-ranging plot with a deeper meaning at you; well researched and well developed, the result is an abundant story following two flawed but absolutely fascinating characters. Fans of the genre who don’t mind a slower pace will most likely devour this one!

6. Dark Mother Earth by Kristian Novak (DNF at 31%; 0 stars) DNF REVIEW 14/01
I hate having a DNF this early in the year already, but I just couldn’t get myself to keep reading this. The story is too chaotic, superslow, nothing makes sense and nothing much seems to be happening even almost a third into the book. The characters are despicable and hardly make any sense. Also, there is way too much sex talk involved… More in my DNF review.

7. The Liar’s Daughter by Claire Allan (4/5 stars) REVIEW 20/01
I loved my first experience with her psychological thrillers last year and I’ve been looking forward to read this one… I literally started and finished it in less than a day! Some of the plot was quite predictable, some parts quite uncomfortable, but overall it’s a super engaging, quick and interesting read.

8. Like This For Ever by Sharon Bolton (4/5 stars) REVIEW 26/01
I finally came around reading my TBR jar pick and it has been interesting to meet up with Lacey Flint again and see how past events affected her. I fully thought I had the whole book figured out, and I was starting to feel disappointed, only for the plot twists to be thrown at me from an angle I definitely didn’t see coming. This is one of those books you will finish in record time, and it has an ending that will most likely surprise you!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

After finishing my last January ARC, I’m going to take a break for a bit and read a few backlist titles… First up are thrillers The One by John Marrs and The Defence by Steve Cavanagh, both titles I’ve been wanting to read for a long time now. And if I’m in the mood for something different, How To Be Brave by Louise Beech is definitely up first! And I finally have a new TBR jar pick: What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler.


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WWW Wednesdays #249 – January 1st

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

Happy new decade! A new year means new reads, and I’m still working through my mountain of ARCs… Big Lies In A Small Town by Diane Chamberlain is up first; a title I’ve been looking forward to. I’m also starting the sequel Nothing To Lose by Victoria Selman so I have one less series to catch up with in 2020. Especially since the sequels seem to be coming out in record speed!

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Black Summer by M.W. Craven (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 
While I do think I loved the first book a tiny bit more (please don’t hit me!), Black Summer was without doubt a brilliant sequel and as soon as Tilly made her entrance there was no way on earth I was putting down my copy. Thankfully I was able to spend most of Christmas Day in the company of my kindle, lots of tea, a sleeping cat closeby and a pile of leftover chocolate, so my wish came true and I was able to reach that final page almost in one sitting. And what a read!

2. The Perfect Mother by Caroline Mitchell (5/5 stars) REVIEW 04/01
I’m a big fan of her books, and I always look forward to a new one… The Perfect Mother is without doubt a fantastic read that had me absorbed from the very first page and I literally finished it in less than a day. Definitely right at the top of favorite 2020 releases so far!

3. On The Bright Side by Hendrik Groen (4/5 stars) REVIEW 10/01
I loved my first meeting with main character Hendrik Groen a few months back, his character reminding me of all time favorite Ove. I’ve been looking forward to meet up with him again in the sequel, and while I thought On The Bright Side was a tiny bit slower and I think I liked the first book a tiny bit better, I still had a great time reading this book.

4. A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone (4,5/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 09/01
Look out for my full review during my stop of the blog tour…

5. Blood For Blood by Victoria Selman (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 10/01
I loved the third book of the series when I read it recently, and I decided to read the first two books of the series ASAP so I have one less series to catch up with in 2020. The first book is without doubt an entertaining ride, and while I think the third book shows just how much this series has grown over time I did love learning more about Ziba. And what a way to start the story with a bang!

6. Six Wicked Reasons by Jo Spain (?/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 16/01
Look out for my full review during my stop of the blog tour…

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m probably reading the rest of my pending January ARCs first, so I can focus on reading mostly my own books during the rest of the month… The last three pending ARCs are Dark Mother Earth by Kristian Novak, The Home by Sarah Stovell and The Liar’s Daughter by Claire Allan. I also plan to finally read my latest TBR jar pick Like This For Ever by Sharon Bolton!


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WWW Wednesdays #247 – December 18th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m finally reading Next Year In Havana by Chanel Cleeton for one of last week’s prompts for the Magical Readathon Winter 2019 challenge… And I’m also starting The Rules Of Murder by Rob Sinclair. I really enjoyed the first book a few months back, so I’m looking forward to meet up with main character Dani Stephens again! Also, you might remember I was starting Good Omens last week… I read the first few pages and couldn’t get into it, so I’ve decided to put it on hold for now and picked a different title for the readathon instead.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Secret Messenger by Mandy Robotham (3/5 stars) REVIEW 20/12
Tthere were things I loved in The Secret Messenger, including the WWII setting in Venice, its history and the story of the resistance and Stella’s story as a whole. There were also things that didn’t work for me, incluiding the slow pace during most of the story, the dual timeline and main character Luisa’s POV in general. As a result, I ended up having mixed thoughts about The Secret Messenger despite the fact that this story should have been a perfect fit, but fans of the genre should definitely give it a go as most people seem to react a lot better to the elements that didn’t work for me personally. I guess it was unpopular opinion time once again?

2. Snakes And Ladders by Victoria Selman (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW
As soon as I read the first line of the blurb on Netgalley I was sold. I mean: Psycho meets The Silence Of The Lambs… How on earth would I be able to resist that?! Add the promise of a serial killer and profiler angle, and I just HAD to add it to my shelves. I confess I wasn’t aware that Snakes And Ladders was actually the third book of a series when I requested a copy, but thankfully it turns out that this story works really well as a stand-alone as well. Fans of darker, complex and twisted serial killer thrillers who love a profiler and psychological angle will have a great time with this one!

3. The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 27/12
Even though I wasn’t as impressed by the sequel when I finally read it a few months back, when I discovered I had to read an urban fantasy for the Magical Readathon Winter 2019 challenge my thoughts went to this series almost immediately. I decided to give Rory another shot, and see if the third book would make me fall in love with the series again… Sadly, it wasn’t ment to be and The Shadow Cabinet turned out to be the weakest link of this series yet.

4. Bitter Falls by Rachel Caine (4/5 stars) REVIEW 20/01/2020
The first two books of this series are on my all time favorites list, and I still think this series is brilliant, but I’m starting to think that maybe it’s just better to leave things as it is? Don’t get me wrong, the writing is still brilliant and it is without doubt an intense, twisted and thrilling ride, but you can only have that much stuff happening to the main characters before it starts becoming REALLY unbelievable. Book four, like book three, misses some of that spark of the first two books… I still devoured every single page, but I also started looking a bit more critical at certain aspects of the plot and that is never a good sign. This story will have your heart racing though!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I don’t want to fall behind with the Magical Readathon Winter 2019 challenge, so I’m probably reading Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen next. When I saw the third chapter prompt mention a book with pink or purple cover, I KNEW I had to pick up my pink and fabulous copy of this one! Then it’s back to ARCs and I’m planning on reading two early January blog tour books: Are You Watching? by Vincent Ralph and A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone. I can’t wait to read both! My latest TBR jar pick is still Like This For Ever by Sharon Bolton, which I probably won’t be able to get to this year even though I’m looking forward to it…


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ARC REVIEW: Snakes And Ladders – by Victoria Selman @amazonpub

Title: Snakes And Ladders
(Ziba MacKenzie #3)
Author: Victoria Selman
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: November 21st 2019
Publisher: Amazon Publishing UK
Finished reading: December 13th 2019
Pages: 382

“Caring makes you human. It’s the one thing that differentiates us from the monsters we hunt.”

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

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As soon as I read the first line of the blurb on Netgalley I was sold. I mean: Psycho meets The Silence Of The Lambs… How on earth would I be able to resist that?! Add the promise of a serial killer and profiler angle, and I just HAD to add it to my shelves. I confess I wasn’t aware that Snakes And Ladders was actually the third book of a series when I requested a copy, but thankfully it turns out that this story works really well as a stand-alone as well. A fair warning though: it is most likely that you will end up adding the first two books to your wishlist anyway afterwards, as you will be left wanting for more!

So, Snakes And Ladders. Of course, thanks to my mistake, I didn’t have the background of the main characters and past cases when I started reading, but despite this lack of knowledge I was able to dive straight in anyway. I’m not lying when I say that I was hooked after only a couple of pages! This is one of those thrillers that will draw you right in and won’t let you go until the very end. Snakes And Ladders has it all: intriguing main characters, not one but TWO disturbing serial killers, a fascinating case, a profiler angle, lots of suspense and plot twists, solid writing and plot development… Oh yes, there is a lot to love in this third book and it was definitely a huge success for me.

Ziba MacKenzie is without doubt a very strong lead and one of the reasons this story worked so well for me. Even though I missed some of her background information, I was still able to warm up to her almost instantly and I’m definitely a fan. I love how she is a profiler and gives us a slightly different angle on the typical murder investigation in detective thrillers. The profiling and psychological aspect in Snakes And Ladders is without doubt fascinating and definitely gives this story its unique touch! Likewise, I loved the fact that we had not one, but TWO serial killer characters involved. Vernon Sange is of course behind bars, but not less dangerous and he makes a fantastic villain. The Pink Rose Killer on the other hand is of course the main focus of this story, identity unknown and his case active. The flashback chapters give us some insight in his past and how he became the person he is today… But is he in contact with Vernon Sange? Why does he kill? And who is he? You will find yourself going round and round as cleverly designed plot twists keep misleading you.

Vernon Sange’s angle gave the plot more dept and added a whole different layer of danger both for Ziba and those close to her. It also gave us not one, but TWO riddles to unravel: who is the PRK and what is Vernon up to? Both riddles made me keep turning those pages and I managed to finish Snakes And Ladders in record time. And that ending! My eyes couldn’t believe what they had just read; while I saw some twists and reveals coming, that cliffhanger ending definitely was a true shocker. I’ll be waiting impatiently for book four to discover what will happen next, but not before I catch up with the first two books of course! Fans of darker, complex and twisted serial killer thrillers who love a profiler and psychological angle will have a great time with Snakes And Ladders.


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WWW Wednesdays #246 – December 11th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

Between pending DIY projects around the house and the superhot weather (I’m talking close to 40°C here; I’d swap for cold and snow any day), I haven’t been able to read as much as I had originally planned… I was expecting to be finished with The Secret Messenger by Mandy Robotham by now, but I guess it wasn’t ment to be. I’m hoping to finish it today though! I’m also currently reading Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett for one of this week’s prompts for the Magical Readathon Winter 2019 challenge I’ve decided to join again this month. I still can’t believe I haven’t read this one yet! Afterwards I’m starting Snakes And Ladders by Victoria Selman, a title I’ve been excited to read after all the buzz around it.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Missing Letters Of Mrs Bright by Beth Miller (3/5 stars) REVIEW 07/01/2020
There was just something about The Missing Letters Of Mrs. Bright that made me want to read it instantly. I think it was a combination of the blurb itself and the comparison to Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and A Man Called Ove; two of my favorite books with characters I absolutely adored. I might have set my expectations a tad too high, because somehow I didn’t end up enjoying this story as much as I thought I would…

2. How The Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 23/12
I’m probably the last person on earth to pick up How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, but somehow Dr. Seuss just wasn’t all that known in the Netherlands back when I was little… Or at least I never came in contact with his books (and trust me, I basically raided the library on a weekly basis back then). I’ve seen the movie adaptation multiple times, so I was very familiar with the story already, but finally being able to read the original book was an absolute delight.

3. Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 14/12
I think a lot of you know by now I’m a huge fan of the Erika Foster series, so of course I just HAD to try his newest series ASAP. I was stoked when I received an ARC earlier this month, and I can now say that my first meeting with new main character Kate was an absolute success. What a read! I’m already having a feeling this series will be a new favorite…

4. The Blossom Twins by Carol Wyer (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 12/12
I always enjoy Carol Wyer‘s books and I’ve been enjoying my time with Natalie Ward so far, so the decision whether to read book number five was a no-brainer. It’s without doubt another solid sequel with an ending that left me completely shocked, flabbergaster and simply destroyed… Although somehow there were some things that started to get on my nerves, including quite a lot of complaining and nagging going on in book five. Especially those moments related to Natalie’s personal life… The Blossom Twins wasn’t my favorite of the series, but the ending definitely left me desperate to find out what will happen next in Natalie’s life.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

Next up is my second book for the Magical Readathon Winter 2019 challenge: Next Year In Havana by Chanel Cleeton. I’ve been wanting to read this one for a long time so I’m happy I found an excuse to finally do so! Then it’s back to ARCs for a bit… First up is an most anticipated 2020 release: Bitter Falls by Rachel Caine. I can’t wait to dive into this series again! Afterwards, I’ll probably pick up The Rules Of Murder by Rob Sinclair… My latest TBR jar pick is still Like This For Ever by Sharon Bolton, which I’m hoping to read soon, but I’m not sure if I’ll actually get to it this year.


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