Audiobook Review: IN THE BLOOD by Lisa Unger

Format: Audio; 10 hrs, 4 mins
Narrators: Gretchen Mol, Candace Thaxton
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Released: January 7, 2014
Source: Review copy from the publisher

LANA GRANGER LIVES A LIFE OF LIES. She has told so many lies about where she comes from and who she is that the truth is like a cloudy nightmare she can’t quite recall. About to graduate from college and with her trust fund almost tapped out, she takes a job babysitting a troubled boy named Luke. Expelled from schools all over the country, the manipulative young Luke is accustomed to controlling the people in his life. But, in Lana, he may have met his match. Or has Lana met hers?

When Lana’s closest friend, Beck, mysteriously disappears, Lana resumes her lying ways—to friends, to the police, to herself. The police have a lot of questions for Lana when the story about her whereabouts the night Beck disappeared doesn’t jibe with eyewitness accounts. Lana will do anything to hide the truth, but it might not be enough to keep her ominous secrets buried: someone else knows about Lana’s lies. And he’s dying to tell.


IN THE BLOOD is the first book by Lisa Unger I’ve read (or listened to), and I was completely wowed! It’s hard to convey how much I loved this book. It was so good. The story is told from the point of view of Lana Granger, a college student whose best friend Beck goes missing. Lana is a self-professed liar with a past full of secrets, so can the reader really trust what she says? You gotta love those unreliable narrators!

As the search for Beck is on, Lana becomes wrapped up in this demented game with Luke, a troubled child that she’s been hired to care for. Lana doesn’t know what Luke’s ultimate goal is with the game, but she can’t resist playing along and finding out what he knows. Putting it mildly, Luke has issues. He’s a master manipulator, very intelligent with psychopathic tendencies. Luke’s character gave me chills, and my heart went out to his scared and emotionally exhausted mother Rachel.

IN THE BLOOD was a gripping psychological thriller filled with shocking twists and turns. I had to pause more than once for a jaw-dropping “O.M.G.” moment. Just when I thought I’d put the pieces of the puzzle together…nope! I was proven wrong. I love books that can really mess with my mind. This book addresses the question if “evil” can be inherited, and if it is “in the blood,” can it be overcome?

The audiobook was narrated by Candace Thaxton and Gretchen Mol, and both performances were amazing. Ms. Thaxton narrated from Lana’s POV, and Ms. Mol read the part of a mystery woman writing in her journal. They both did a great job capturing the essence of their characters. I could really hear the tension, fear, and desperation in their voices, perfect for this thriller. Highly recommended!

Rating: 5 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Audiobook Review: OUTSIDE THE LINES by Amy Hatvany

Format: Audio; 10 hrs, 29 mins
Narrators: Candace Thaxton, Corey Brill
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Released: December 10, 2013
Source: Review copy from the publisher

When Eden was ten years old she found her father, David, bleeding out on the bathroom floor. The suicide attempt led to her parents’ divorce, and David all but vanished from Eden’s life. Since childhood, she has heard from him only rarely, just enough to know he’s been living on the streets and struggling with mental illness. But lately, there has been no word at all.

Now in her thirties, Eden decides to go look for her father, so she can forgive him at last, and finally move forward. When her search uncovers other painful truths–not only the secrets her mother has kept from her, but also the agonizing question of whether David, after all these years, even wants to be found–Eden is forced to decide just how far she’ll go in the name of love.

Listening to OUTSIDE THE LINES stirred up all kinds of emotions in me. The story is about a woman’s quest to find her father, missing from her life for 20 years. Eden was 10 when her parents divorced, her father David’s suicide attempt was the last straw for her mother. David, a very talented artist, suffered from mental illness most of his adult life, and he was unwilling to stay on medication. After the divorce David disappeared from mainstream society, earning a few dollars for alcohol by sketching portraits of tourists and living on the streets.

I enjoyed how the story was told from Eden’s and David’s POVs, and the time period alternates between 2010 and the late 1980s forward. It took several chapters for me to warm up to Eden and become invested in her quest. Just hearing about David’s behavior and how it affected Eden made me angry. He was a man who did not want to be helped. As the story progressed, I began to understand and sympathize with Eden. I particularly loved seeing her relationship with Jack develop. Jack was the founder and director of Hope House, a homeless shelter in Seattle. (Eden described him as looking like Tom Cruise without the “crazed look” in his eyes. Ha ha.) Jack helped Eden see the situation with her father in a new and realistic light.

Overall, I liked the audio performance by Candace Thaxton as Eden and Corey Brill as David. Both captured the temperament and emotions of their character very well. My only complaint was there was little or no variation in voices of the secondary characters, and sometimes it was hard to tell who was speaking.

OUTSIDE THE LINES is a poignant story about love, trust, forgiveness, and acceptance. The bittersweet ending made me teary-eyed. Amy Hatvany is an amazing storyteller, and I’m looking forward to reading more from her.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.