Author: Lisa Unger


The Question of Nature v. Nurture Tackled in “In the Blood”

January 20, 2015 Book Review 7

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

The Question of Nature v. Nurture Tackled in “In the Blood”In the Blood by Lisa Unger
Published by Pocket Books on July 22nd, 2014
Genres: Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 416
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonBarnes & Noble


Is nature or nurture at fault when a child is ‘troubled?’  This is the basis of Lisa Unger’s novel In the Blood.  After years of working with abused children and their families asking that very question ~ yet never found the answer.

She thinks that we are made and not born, that it is the power of choice that forms our lives.  With enough positive energy and good feng shui we can overcome almost anything.  She’s one of those, the magical thinkers.  I think I envy her, even if I can hardly suppress my disdain.

Lana is a psychology major at a small college tucked away in upstate New York trying to escape the horrific murder of her mother six years prior.  She has a tumultuous relationship with one of her roommates, Rebecca ‘Beck,’ and sees her advisor, Langdon, as both mentor and friend.  Lana gets a job babysitting Luke, an 11-year-old troubled child attending Fieldcrest where both Lana and Langdon have worked.  When Lana has an argument with Beck over her relationship with Langdon and Beck subsequently disappears, Lana’s controlled life is turned upside down.

Lisa Unger outdid herself with this one.  In the Blood read like a true crime novel, unbelievable and yet so freaky scary enough to be true.  The plot develops more on a slow burn, perfectly paced.  Lana is disturbed enough to keep us questioning her motivations while 11-year-old Luke puts the terror in terrible!  Having read Lisa Unger’s Fragile {review here} and loving it, I can honestly say she has simply stepped up her game, giving her readers and fans a heavily researched thriller like no other.  Highly Recommended.


Book Review: Fragile by Lisa Unger

August 7, 2010 Book Review, reviews 8

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: Fragile by Lisa UngerFragile by Lisa Unger
Published by Crown Publishing Group on August 3rd, 2010
Genres: Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 336
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonBarnes & Noble


….Some consequences are forever. (83)
This book could not have had a better title. The fragility of the human bonds that tie us are at the very core of this novel, and Lisa Unger revealed the essence of those bonds superbly.


A small town about 100 miles north of New York is rocked by the runaway of Charlene after a fight with her mother, Melody.  Charlene happens to be dating the only child, Ricky, of the local chief of police, Jones, and town psychologist, Maggie (and daughter of the recently retired school principal).  The night Charlene runs away, she stands Ricky up at the local pizza joint.  Instead, she plans to run away to New York City to sing her songs and play in a band – or that’s what she posts on her Facebook page.


The eerie part and what sets the town on edge is that 30 years prior to Charlene running away another girl supposedly ran away after a fight with her mother, at least that’s how the police investigated it….until Sarah’s body turned up with unspeakable things having been done to her.  And all is not as it seems in the small town, The Hollows, where everyone-knows-your-name, nor is it in the Chief of Police’s home.  As soon as Jones began investigating Charlene’s disappearance, he began to act….well, weird.


From the outset of the case, Jones treated Ricky as more of a suspect than as a son, even telling Maggie while he searched Ricky’s room “Anyone is capable of anything, given the right circumstances, the right motivations.” (187)  Maggie is in the unenviable and tenuous spot of having to support her husband’s job and protect her child.
Maggie resonated with me. Perhaps because I have caretaking tendencies as she does, or maybe it was the son who plays in a band and likes to listen to his music LOUD! I can see sitting down with my book club and discussing the quote below.  Most of us in my bookclub do have personalities in which we want to save the world…it’s remembering when to pull back in self-preservation that is so difficult:


She didn’t know how to, didn’t always want to, stop at the edge when others were going over. She’d keep just enough weight on solid ground to pull herself back before it was too late. One day, she might misjudge and tumble over…(250)
The character development is so precise, thorough. We get a clear picture of all of the characters as Ms. Unger goes back and forth between Sarah and Charlene.  So we even get to see Maggie, Jones and Melody from when they were in high school. Maggie was the wannabe goth with the mom for the principal; Jones the gorgeous, star-Lacrosse-player/jock; Melody the school tramp; and Sarah, the good girl who played violin and went to Julliard for special lessons.  With Charlene, she was considered a drama queen by everyone except Ricky and Ricky had the piercing, bad-boy image, but his grades were stellar enough to get him accepted to Georgetown and NYU.  Ahh, high school – do we ever move past it?
[Tweet “What high school role were you happy to leave behind upon graduating?”]
I have to share with you – I use these tiny yellow stickies to notate important passages or quotes I want to include in my review. Well, with this book I must have used over 50 stickies! I wish I had a camera to take a picture of this because it is almost comical!  There’s that many fantastic quotes about human nature, fragile bonds, high school hierarchy and the roles we play, family ties and/or the lack thereof, redemption & forgiveness that I just cannot choose the right quote. Instead you simply must read the book!
I will make it easy for you, and give away my gently-read hardbound copy. I will even remove the stickies prior to sending it out!
To enter please complete the following entry form.
The giveaway closes on August 27th by 11:59 a.m.
The winner will be chosen by
The winner will be selected and notified by August 29th, 2010.

It is with tremendous thanks that I received Fragile from BookSneeze and Crown Publishing
for my honest review. In no way did it affect my opinion or review.