Monday, 29 September 2014

Book Reviews: Trust in Me by Sophie McKenzie, In The Blood by Lisa Unger & A Trick of the Mind by Penny Hancock.

Who can you trust, when everything you've ever known is  a lie?

From the outside, it might look as though Livy and Julia have nothing in common. Livy is a married mum of two, while Julia is a single girl, living the high life with a series of men who never stick around for too long. Livy and Julia may be as different as can be, but they have a unique bond, united as they are in their shared grief after the years ago murder of Livy’s younger sister, Kara. While many in her circle see Julia as flighty and unpredictable, Livy knows that her friend is utterly dependable, the one person she can always count on in a crisis. Livy also knows that Julia loves her life – she knows Julia better than anyone. So when Julia dies and everyone cries suicide, Livy cries foul. She knows her friend didn’t, wouldn’t kill herself. Livy instinctively knows that her friend was murdered. But why? What did Julia know? What did she find out that caused her to text Livy on the night of her death telling her that she needed to talk? 

Why didn’t Livy answer that text? And what exactly has Julia been hiding from her for all these years?

Trust in Me is the second adult offering from renowned YA author Sophie McKenzie (Girl Missing). I haven’t yet gotten around to reading McKenzie’s adult debut Close Your Eyes, but having enjoyed Trust in Me, I’m now bumping that one up my TBR. Trust in Me drew me right into the mystery of Julia’s death where everyone – secret boyfriends, cheating husbands, random acquaintances and tea drinkers - is a suspect. I called the culprit right from our very first meeting, but that didn’t stop me second guessing myself throughout this book as there are red herrings a-plenty, and plot twists and suspects galore. All in all, Trust in Me is a great page-turner of a thriller that will keep you hooked from start to finish. 

 P.S. Animal lovers, there is a rather disturbing episode involving a cat early on in the book. I actually put the book down for a while after reading it, but I'm glad I picked it up again!

Trust in Me by Sophie McKenzie.  Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK.  Release date: Sept. 11th 2014.  Ages: Adult.  My Rating: 3½/5. Source: Received from publisher for review.

I love a good psychological thriller, mainly because I love to play the guessing game; to look for clues and figure out twists, and spot red herrings –figure out what is real and what is not. Not all psychological thrillers are good: some can be all too obvious, others just too far-fetched to be believable. I want my thrillers to be clever, chilling too, and even a little scary. In the Blood by Lisa Unger is all of these things – and it’s got a stellar twist. I have read Lisa Unger in the past (Beautiful Lies, Sliver of Truth) and so I knew the storyline here would be multi-layered and complex. It is. Lisa Unger if one of the best in her field. I knew I would have to pay close attention to In the Blood if I wanted to pick up all the clues. And the twist is good, but the clues are there – pretty much right from the beginning. On this one, I’d like to have been caught unawares; but that hasn’t happened to me in a while (Gone Girl). That’s why I’m rating this one four stars. If I hadn’t figured out the twist so early on, I probably would have rated it higher. It’s certainly one of the best thrillers I’ve read in a while. 

So, here’s how the story goes: Lana Granger is a girl with a past. But, hey, isn’t everyone? However, Lana’s past is a little different from yours or mine. Lana’s had a lot of tragedy in her life, but with the help of her support network, she’s moving on and learning how to live a normal life. Lana is a trust fund kid, but what she really wants is normal. To that effect, while in her final year at University, she takes a job looking after an eleven year old kid, called Luke. Luke is bright, but he’s also troubled. Lana knows all about that – she knows what it’s like to be smarter than everyone else and the whole new set of challenges that can bring. Lana is sure she can help Luke, but maybe Luke doesn’t want to be helped. Maybe Luke just wants to play games. Luke likes to play games, just like Lana likes to tell lies, but when her best friend Beck goes missing, Lana feels her house of lies closing in on her. Just what does Luke know about Lana’s past? How could he know what happened all those years ago? After all, he’s just a little boy. Isn’t he?

 So, Luke creeped me out just a little. And so did Lana. I was never quite sure who to trust in this book – never quite sure who, if anyone, was telling the truth. Lisa Unger knows how to weave a riveting tale, and even though I was pretty sure I had figured out some of the bigger twists early on, I couldn’t put this book down until I was done and I knew for sure. There are a lot of surprises in this book, a lot of interesting characters too. Everybody’s got a secret! There are riddles, and secret diaries, and late night expeditions to abandoned graves – all of that good stuff! In the Blood is also an interesting study in the nature vs. nurture debate: are psychopaths born, or are they created by their environment? The thing about psychological thriller is that they are sometimes a little difficult to review – because everything is a spoiler – but in short is one is a creepy, complex chiller that kept me up all night.

 And, the last line of this book – just killer! If you want a good thriller that will keep you guessing, this is the book for you!

In The Blood by Lisa Unger. Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK.  Release date: Jan. 7th 2014.  Ages: Adult.  My Rating: 4/5. Source: Received from publisher for review.


So, picture the scenario. You’re driving along a quiet country road, when your car hits something – a fallen branch, a rock, maybe. Do you: 

 A: Stop the car – get out and take a look to see what you’ve hit. 

 B: Continue on your merry way, only to find out later that a man has been seriously injured in a hit and run in that very spot– jump to the conclusion that the little bump in the road you barely even noticed was actually this man – go visit him, and when he thinks that you’re his girlfriend (because he’s suffering from amnesia) play along with him, ditch all your old friends and your old life, and move in with him, even though his behaviour is…pretty damn scary, actually. 

 Guess which option Ellie, the protagonist of A Trick of the Mind chose? I don’t think I’m ruining the plot if I tell you it wasn’t A. I’ve been on a bit of a crime/mystery/psychological thriller binge of late, and I was hoping for good things from A Trick of the Mind; the cover is pretty eye-catching and the blurb is good too. However, as I read chapter after chapter, this book just failed to grab me. In fact, it left me a little bored – something a thriller should never do. A Trick of the Mind annoyed me at times too. Ellie’s actions are so unbelievably dumb and adolescent (she’s in her late-twenties) at times that I just couldn’t buy into her character – and I certainly didn’t root for her. This book didn’t work for me on many levels; too many of the set ups and scenarios in this book were too far-fetched to be believable, while on so many counts Ellie’s actions and reactions just didn’t ring true.

 If you like a slow-burner of a thriller that is all too predictable at times, then A Trick of the Mind might work for you. But it was a miss for me.

A Trick of the Mind by Penny Hancock. Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK.  Release date: Sept. 11th 2014.  Ages: Adult.  My Rating: 2½/5. Source: Received from publisher for review.


Cover Alert & Series Comparison: Expertus by Holly Lauren.

Expertus (GenEx Saga #2) by Holly Lauren || Release date: Oct. 5th 2014.

You might remember that a little while ago I read and loved a little book by the name of Tempus by Holly Lauren. Tempus is one of my 2014 favourites and I've been eagerly awaiting news of a sequel. Well, Expertus is almost here and it looks as though the series has gotten a cover makeover.

I have to say it: I'm not a huge fan of this new cover look. Yes, I guess it fits the series - Tempus is a touch paranormal, a touch science fiction; and from what we learned at the end of the first book, and this new cover direction, I'm guessing the Sci-Fi aspect will be amped up  in the second book. Now, I'm not a fan of Sci-Fi - it turns me right off.  If this was my first look at the series, I'm not sure that I would have picked up Tempus. And then, I would really have missed out on a great read!

Here's are the old and new covers of Tempus side-by-side. 

I know that the old cover doesn't exactly scream paranormal or science-fiction, and I think that's maybe what I liked about it. Well, that and the fact that it's quite pretty! 

What do you think?

Have you read Tempus? If not, it's definitely worth checking out. Here's my review: clicky.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

TV Things: Do You ShondaLand?

“I remember saying, very almost jokingly, I’m going to take over the world through television, that’s my plan. And I said it to my agent, and I said it to my friends, and I said it to myself.”

- Shonda Rhimes.

I don't know about taking over the world, but Shonda Rhimes is certainly taking over my TV! 

I've been with Grey's right from the start and while it's not 'must watch' TV for me these days, I still look forward to tuning in every week. Hey, after all this time, these guys are like my friends. We've been through so much together!  Post-Cristina Yang I wonder if the show can ever be the same again?  Things are certainly going to be different in Mer's world, and that's before I even get started on her latest McDreamy debacle. Usually I'm all about the HEA, but I think Mer/Der have become a little boring and settled of late, so I welcome the drama!

So, yeah, Grey's fan here. I'm definitely still into this show and I crush big time on Jackson Avery. I mean, doesn't everyone? I also want a HEA for him and April. Those guys are CUTE!


Scandal is my #OMG OBSESSION. I cannot get enough of this show - it never fails to shock me, and yes, I have an almighty crush on Fitz. I may not agree with everything he does - I may think that he is plain bratty a LOT of the time, but I can't help my obsession. POTUS is HOT - and I want a happy ever after for him and OP.  I want Olivia Pope to live in that house in Vermont where she can have babies and make jam every day if she feels like it, dammit!

FYI, I think Mellie is AWESOME! But Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn have such amazing chemistry that I can't not ship them!

And, then, there's Shonda's new show - How to Get Away With Murder which looks like a whole lot of fun: watched the trailer, and I'm pretty much hooked already! I usually don't watch new season shows until they get a full season pick up - I have been burned too many times in the past! --but I have to check this one out, because, Shonda!

Do you ShondaLand?

Will you be watching How to Get Away With Murder?

What other new season shows do you plan on watching?

 I am always looking for recommendations!


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Loved Half Bad? Now You Can Read the First Chapter of Half Wild by Sally Green!

Half Wild (Half Bad #2) by Sally Green || Release date: March 2015

And that's not all!

To keep fans satisfied while they wait for the publication of Half Wild on 24th March next year, Penguin also announce an exciting new short story by Green today. Half Lies is due for release across all digital book platforms on 13 November. Set in the months before Half Bad, Half Lies takes the form of a diary written by Michele, the sister of Gabriel, Nathan’s Black witch friend. Having fled Europe for Florida, Michele falls in love with a local White witch boy. There, she finds that the divide between the Black and White witch communities is just as dangerous as it was in the life she's left behind.

 Ben Horslen, Editorial Director says: 'Fan response to Half Bad has been so overwhelming that it seemed very unfair to keep readers on tenterhooks until March for their next taste of Sally Green's amazing world. I know Half Lies will thrill and intrigue her fans while they wait for the next chapter of Nathan's story.' 

 Sally Green says: 'Gabriel is a key character in the Half Bad trilogy and he also happens to be the one I'm desperately in love with (I know a lot of fans are rather fond of him too) so it was great to write a little more about his life. Half Lies is the story of Gabriel and his sister Michele, told from Michele's point of view. Of course it's not a totally happy story, there's love but there's violence too, but they are Black witches so what do you expect?' 

Additional Info: Press Release.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Book Review: Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini.

Product details:
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books.
Paperback, 384 pages.
Release date: August 28th 2014.
Rating:  4 out of 5.
Ages: 12+
Source: Received from publisher for review.

Love burns. Worlds collide. Magic reigns.
This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying many of the experiences that other teenagers take for granted...which is why she is determined to enjoy her first (and perhaps only) high-school party. But Lily's life never goes according to plan, and after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly Lily is in a different Salem - one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruellest of all the Crucibles is Lillian . . . Lily's identical other self in this alternate universe. This new version of her world is terrifyingly sensual, and Lily is soon overwhelmed by new experiences.

Lily realizes that what makes her weak at home is exactly what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. It also puts her life in danger. Thrown into a world she doesn't understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected.

But how can Lily be the saviour of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?

It sucks to be Lily Proctor. Her mom is going insane, her love life is a conundrum and worst of all, she suffers from debilitating allergies – allergies that ensure she can’t live a normal life and do normal teenage-girl things – allergies that are getting worse by the day - and are slowly killing her. It’s not all bad though, because Lily has Tristan; her best friend and long-time crush who recently has become something more. Lily’s not quite sure what’s going on between her and Tristan – but let’s just say that there has been kissing. Then again, Tristan kisses everyone. He’s not exactly the type to commit. Lily thinks that she might just be the girl to change Tristan’s love them and leave them ways, but she’s wrong, and when he betrays her – publicly and terribly – Lily is done. She wants out of her no-good life; she wants out of this world.

 And, what do you know? Lily gets her wish. Also, you know what they say about wishes, right? 

 The world that Lily finds herself in is Salem, Massachusetts, the same place Lily has lived all her life, only it’s not the Salem Lily knows: for one, in this world, the whole city of Salem is enclosed by huge city walls. Oh, and there is a castle. A castle where Lily belongs. The people of this world see Lily and they treat her like a lady, they treat her like a Queen. That’s because Lily’s other self, Lilian, is the all-powerful ruler of this strange, parallel world where witches rule, chaos reigns and magic is currency. And just like her other self, Lily is a witch: she’s also all-powerful. In this world, what made her weak in her own world, now makes her strong. Allergies and annoying boys called Tristan, be gone.

 Or maybe not. 

Because there’s a Tristan in this world too. And there’s a Rowan – Rowan Fall – a boy who knows Lily better than she knows herself. Soon, Lily learns that Lilian is not a revered leader, but a cruel mistress who is seemingly intent on the reckless destruction of her people. This new world is not all it’s cracked up to be, and Lily wants out of here too – but first she finds herself as a major player in a rebel plot to overthrow Lillian, because Lily’s powers are manifesting, and her crush on the enigmatic and often-prone-to-mood-swings Rowan – that’s growing by the day too. But, with Rowan’s past – and all his secrets – is that really a good idea? 

An expertly woven tale that seamlessly blends romance and science with witchcraft, Trial by Fire, the first in Starcrossed author Josephine Angelini’s Worldwalker series, is an engagingly told, captivating story that is a perfect mix of fairy tale, fantasy and paranormal fiction. The world-building in this book is epic in scale, and is beautifully and flawlessly done in a story that is unique and imaginative throughout.

 That said, I found Trial by Fire a little predictable in places. I have heard people talking about a cliffhanger ending in relation to this one, but I didn’t find the ending cliffhanger at all. A cliffhanger ending should be shocking and twisty and leave you mouth-agape in bewilderment as to what happens next. I think a lot of people got 'cliffhanger' from the end of this book, but it just didn't happen for me. I knew Trial by Fire would end just how it did right from the start. Maybe I have read too many of these first-in-a-series YA books? Or maybe I am tiring of YA just a little. On both of those counts, that may be the case, but I will say that while I found this to be a very enjoyable read, I would like to have seen a few more surprises in this one though, and maybe a twist or two. I guess the ending felt a little rushed, and didn’t totally work for me, although apart from that, Trial by Fire is pretty perfectly formed, and it’s safe to say that Angelini has another blockbuster hit on her hands. Trial by Fire is a fun, engaging and exciting read, and it will be loved by many the world over.

 What I would like to see in book two:

 -More Lillian (I think there may be a method to her madness, after all). 

 - More world-jumping/sliding or whatever we’re calling it – into different worlds. (Fun!) 

 - Less science (because while the ideas are all very interesting, my eyes glaze over at the mention of science. Sad, but true). 

 - More romance (there’s slow-burn, and then there’s SLOWww-BURNnn….know what I mean? A little more sizzle, please!) 

 - A shocking, evil twist (I had a culprit in mind for a shocking, evil twist in this book and it DID NOT HAPPEN –but it would have been fun. Also, it may have been a little too predictable. Or maybe it will still happen.)

 - An answer to my question about Rowan. I won’t say what my question is here for fear of posting a spoiler, but, I’m intrigued and I hope there is an answer to my question and that it isn’t just left unexplained. I know, I’m being annoying now by not saying what my question is! 

Trail of Tears the second instalment in Josephine Angelini’s Worldwalker series releases in 2015.
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