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.



  1. After reading Gone Girl I am craving some other adult thrillers so these reviews couldn't come at a better time! I'm going to add Trust in Me and In The Blood to my wishlist. Thanks lovely! x

  2. Definitely make In the Blood your top pick. That was the best of the bunch for me - and one of the best thrillers I've read in a while!

  3. ChristinaBookAddict30 September 2014 at 12:46

    Wow---look at you!! You're reading adult thrillers…I like it! Taking a step back from YA for a bit? I definitely do from time to time. It sounds like In the Blood is my best bet if I am looking for a thriller to read. I have been loving psychological thrillers this year (shocking, I know and I even am watching The Killing!??!) and I should give this one a try…sounds perfect to read around Halloween. Thanks for the great reviews!

  4. I know right! I am reading ALL the adult thrillers. In the Blood is really good - and I think you would like it! Lots of twists. I am a little over YA of late, but hoping it's just a phase!

  5. I loved Tempus, and I loved the original cover. It was soft, and feminine, but there was something about it that was a bit secretive. I have to say, I don't like the new covers. I was completely shocked to see that they'd changed so dramatically.

    I'll read Expertus, and I'm sure I'll love it just like Tempus, but if I saw it sitting on a shelf, I'm not sure I'd pick it up. In fact, I know I wouldn't.

  6. I'm totally with you on this. The new covers don't appeal to me AT ALL and I loved the original. I know we shouldn't judge a book by its cover and all but I would have bypassed Tempus if it had been originally released with the new cover!


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