Trust In Me Review

Book: Trust In Me

Author: Sophie McKenzie

I know, I know, it’s been ages since I last did a review! It really shouldn’t have taken me this long to finish this book as I was halfway through it before I started reading A Court of Thorns and Roses, but I’ve been really busy lately what with Uni and everything. Anyway, I actually started reading this book way back in July, but I put it down to start ACOTAR and then only picked it up again just over a month ago. I don’t know whether the big gap between when I read the first half of the book and when I read the second half of the book affected my enjoyment of it, but I definitely didn’t enjoy this as much as some of Sophie McKenzie’s YA novels. I think she’s a much better YA writer than she is an adult writer and wish she would write more YA books, because those are so good, whereas the two adult books of hers that I’ve read so far, have just left me feeling ‘meh’. The chapters were too long and the exciting parts only happened at the end of each chapter, which did work in that it made me want to read on, but then at the start of the next chapter, the cycle began again, most of the chapter was pretty dull buildup and then the exciting event only happened right at the end. I suppose it’s a clever tactic to keep your readers reading, but I would have preferred it if the action and exciting bits had been more evenly spread through the novel.

trust in meThe suspicious circumstances of her best friend’s suicide drive a woman to the possibility that it was murder—a murder which might involve the same man who killed her sister eighteen years ago

On a quiet, gray, Saturday morning, Livy arrives at her best friend Julia’s flat for a lunch date only to find her dead. Though all the evidence supports it, Livy cannot accept the official ruling of suicide; the Julia she remembers was loud, inappropriate, joyful, outrageous and loving, not depressed. The suspicious circumstances cause Livy to dig further, and she is suddenly forced to confront a horrifying possibility: that Julia was murdered, by the same man who killed Livy’s sister, Kara, eighteen years ago.

Desperate to understand the tragedies of her past and hold her unraveling life together, Livy throws herself into the search for Kara and Julia’s killer, who she now believes is someone close to her family. But if that is true, who can she still trust? Damien, the man Julia was secretly dating? Leo, her husband’s boss and a close family friend? His son Paul, her husband’s best mate since college? Or Will, her own dear husband, who has betrayed her perhaps one time too many?

When Livy finally faces her sister’s killer, and he tries to force her to destroy her family with one horrible, impossible choice, she must finally decide: is she strong enough to trust herself?

For a thriller, it wasn’t exactly very thrilling, for the most part, the book is just build up and gathering of clues to piece together who the murderer is and it’s only really in the last couple of chapters that the action really starts happening. Yes, okay, with a mystery, it’s good to have a slow burn, but you need to keep readers engaged and I didn’t feel like I was all that engaged for most of the book because of the slow pace. I also found that the main protagonist, Livy, annoyed me somewhat for most of the book, she complains a lot about her life, she makes some very questionable decisions, she doesn’t trust her husband at all, which okay, I understand, he cheated on you once, it’s hard to get that trust back, but despite staying with him, she doesn’t seem to be willing or able to forgive him and seems to just be waiting for him to cheat again. It confused me, that she seemed so willing to trust Damian (Julia’s former boyfriend and the guy who helps her search for clues about Julia’s killer) so easily and yet she can’t trust her own husband, that didn’t make sense at all to me. It was only at the end, that I really found myself rooting for her, most of the book, I wanted to slap her for being so stupid, especially when she made idiotic decisions that were just going to get her into more trouble.

My favourite parts of the book were actually the chapters from the POV of the killer, interspersed throughout the book, you get diary entries from the diary of the killer about different women that he had slept with/killed/both and I really liked these because they were dark and creepy and it was interesting to get a look into the mind of the killer. I did like that Sophie McKenzie kept me guessing as to who actually was the killer, I didn’t figure it out before it was revealed, which was good and I liked that the reveal made sense and the killer wasn’t some random person she pulled out of thin air, it was someone who had a connection both to Julia and to Livy’s younger sister Kara. I’m sure if I read the book again, I would pick up some clues as to who the killer was, but I didn’t this time.  I wish the killer’s motivations had been explained though, it just seemed like he was a psychopath and there was no more explanation to it and I think it would have been a little better if they had been. This goes back to the problem with pacing in this book though, everything is too slow to begin with and then when it finally does speed up, it’s too rushed and doesn’t feel earned (although I suppose when you consider that everything in the book happens over the course of a month, a lot actually does happen, it’s just the writing makes it seem slow!).

Julia seemed like a very interesting character, but you couldn’t really tell, because we don’t actually get to see her, she is murdered very early on in the book so all we see of her is other people’s impressions of her. This is quite interesting though, because everyone has such different impressions of her that you never really know which one was actually her and she remains somewhat of an enigma. Usually this would frustrate me, but I think in the context of the book that it worked well, since the story is all about trust and just with all the other characters, you can never be quite sure if you can trust the perception of Julia that you are being given.

I didn’t find any of the characters particularly likeable to be honest, Livy was a wet doormat for most of the book and needed something tragic to happen to push her into action, Will came across as kind of a jerk, but maybe this was just because he was presented through Livy’s eyes, Hannah was a total brat and you don’t really know enough about Julia and get so many conflicting opinions of her that it’s impossible to make up your mind about her. Zack was cute however and I liked Damian, he didn’t seem to have ulterior motives other than wanting to find out who killed his girlfriend, although there are still moments where you feel like you can’t trust him. At points I thought I would have rather had Julia as the main protagonist, rather than Livy as from what you do find out about her, she seems far more alive and vibrant and fun than Livy.

There were some portions of the book that whilst I get why they were there, I felt they didn’t add anything to the story, all the bits where Livy was just at home with her kids, whilst I get that they showed she’s just a normal housewife and mother, they didn’t feel necessary to the story. I also felt that sometimes, the dialogues and Livy’s inner monologues wondering whether or not to trust someone and whether or not her husband was cheating on her, were too long. It’s a little unbelievable that Damian and Livy were able to discover that many clues on their own, but since it is a story and not real life, I was able to let that one go!

As a story, it definitely bears similarities to Close My Eyes, both Gen and Livy don’t want to believe that what they are being told is true, they both investigate with the help of handsome men (and feel attracted towards them, though in Livy’s case it doesn’t last), they both feel suspicious of their husbands, the characters aren’t all that likeable, the pace is uneven….wow I didn’t realize how many similarities there were until I listed them. They are different stories, but they definitely do have a lot in common. I feel like I preferred the premise to Close My Eyes, even if it was a little more out there than this one was. I also feel like the ending of Close My Eyes was better, the ending to Trust In Me felt rushed and undeserved and we don’t really get to see the fallout from the events of the book, though I liked how Livy decided to trust her husband in the end.

Overall, this book was okay, but too unevenly paced and whilst I did keep me reading and the mystery was pretty good, there was a lot about the book that I didn’t like and as I said above, there are quite a number of similarities with McKenzie’s previous adult book. I’m not sure I would recommend this book to a new McKenzie reader, you should definitely try her teen reads as I feel they are far more gripping than this book was. If, like me, you have read a lot of Sophie McKenzie’s books, then it might be worth reading it, but I wouldn’t go into it expecting it to be as good as her teen thrillers because it isn’t and you will just be disappointed. Her newest book is another YA, so I may try that, but I haven’t read favourable reviews so I’m not expecting too much. I hope it’s good though, I like this author too much to quit reading her books!

My Rating: 3/5

The next book I am going to be reading is The Assassin’s Blade, the collection of prequel novellas to Sarah J Maas’ Throne of Glass series. I’m so excited to be reading this, because I’ve heard such good things about it and I haven’t had a Celaena fix since the end of March!

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Every Second Counts Review

Book: Every Second Counts

Author: Sophie McKenzie

I was really excited to read this book as I loved Split Second and I really wanted to see what happened next. The last part of the book was so exciting, I read it all in one night and could not put it down. The book picks up a few weeks after Split Second finished with Charlie and Nat on the run from Riley and his cronies. There is action right from the start, you don’t have to wait for it to get exciting and the pace is fast all the way through, with every chapter ending on a cliffhanger. The only problem with that was that it was quite frustrating as since the character POV’s kept switching you had to wait through one of Nat’s POV’s before you finally got to see what was happening with Charlie or vice versa. I did like the switching POV’s as you could get inside both character’s heads and see what they were thinking and as they were apart for a significant portion of time during the story this was needed, but I think it may have worked better had she done two chapters in each character’s POV before switching, although that way it might not have been quite so exciting. The alternating POVs flowed very well, they didn’t feel stop starty like this technique can sometimes be and it did allow us to see that both characters knew things the other didn’t and neither knew who they could trust so it worked well in that way. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

The heart-stopping sequel to Split Second. Nat and Charlie are on the run, and in more danger than ever …Nowhere is safe for Charlie and Nat. They have each other, but Roman Riley’s networks could reach them at any time. Charlie believes the only option is to go undercover in Riley’s team, and sneaks away from Nat to pursue her plan alone. Nat is desperate to find Charlie, but his family are in danger and Riley is coming ever closer. Even if Nat and Charlie can find each other again, could being together be even more dangerous than being apart …?

I found that as with the last book, I liked Charlie better than Nat. She is just such a strong , smart, feisty female character and I just found that I enjoyed her chapters a little more. I liked the way that their relationship developed through the book and that they seemed more secure as a couple at the end, but also that their romance didn’t take away from the action of the book, it’s more of an underlying theme throughout the book, always there but never taking your attention away from the action.

The use of the page recapping what had happened in the last book was very helpful as often I find that I can’t remember what happened at the end of a book in a series particularly if it’s been a long time since I read the previous book and I often have to go back to the previous book and read the end again before I start the sequel. This meant that I didn’t have to do that which I really liked.

There are so many great twists in this book which makes it all the more exciting and I never saw any of them coming which was great, I hate it when I can work out what the twist is going to be before it happens. I also liked that despite the fact these teenagers are in a horrifying situation they still make mistakes and are easily mislead by adults because often in these sorts of books the teenagers start to act like adults and don’t seem very realistic but Charlie and Nat both act in a way that is realistic for their age even if they do make some of the same mistakes that they made in the first book. I did find it a little unrealistic that in some places where the two characters should get seriously injured they just end up with cuts and bruises, I mean I know getting seriously injured wouldn’t work for the way they have to run around everywhere trying to save the world but a little more realism in that respect would have been nice.

I liked that we got to see Charlie and her meeting her dad in this book as it was nice to see her relationship with a parent, we didn’t get to see much of her relationship with her mum in the first book because she was killed so quickly and the only other family she has is her aunt Karen and her Aunt Gail, Uncle Brian and Rosa. I thought this was done well, the fact that her dad is supporting Riley rather than against Riley creates some tension and their relationship seems quite strained through the book which I think is natural considering that they barely know each other, had they been all close right away it would have seemed rushed and unnatural. As a character I hated her dad, his ideas for government seemed strange to me and I hated the fact that he acted like bombing people was perfectly natural.

I liked that Nat’s brother Lucas was included more in this book as in the first book he was in a coma for the entirety of the book so we didn’t really get to see them interact whereas in this book we do and it was nice to see the sibling rivalry but also the cute brotherly relationship between the two.

We were introduced to some new characters in this book, Spider and his mother, Roman Riley’s girlfriend Martina and Uchi, Charlie’s dad (who I won’t talk about as I already have). Spider’s mother (Roman Riley’s ex-Spider is Riley’s son) and Riley’s girlfriend aren’t particularly important, so I’ll just talk about Spider. I didn’t really like him at first, I thought he was a little creepy and it seemed like he had been brainwashed into believing his father’s crazy ideas. I also thought his crush on Charlie was unnecessary, it was clear that Charlie was going to end up with Nat so i didn’t see why McKenzie needed to create a love triangle just for the sake of making one. However Spider was redeemed in my eyes when he switched to Charlie’s side so I ended the book not hating him but not really loving him either.

The main plot twist was exciting but I have to admit it seemed a little convoluted and unrealistic (I’m not going to say what it is but it is strange). Still it lead to some great exciting action scenes so to be honest I can forgive it that it probably couldn’t happen in real life because if everything we read in books could happen in real life then there would be no point in reading books!

I liked the scenes between Aaron and Nat as we got to see Nat in the protective big brother role as he doesn’t think Aaron is good enough to date Jas and it creates some great awkward moments between him, Jas and Aaron when they are trapped in the attic at the EFA headquarters. I wasn’t that keen on Jas herself, she seemed like a bit of a drip to me (although as far as I can remember she was like that in the first book too) and her part in the story as being used as bait to trap Nat seemed unnecessary, I’m sure someone as clever as Riley could have come up with another way to trap him. I liked that Nat confronted his parents about their neglect of him and Jas over comatose Lucas because it felt like something that should have been included in the last book so I’m glad it was included here. I wish there could have been a scene with Charlie and her aunt and uncle confronting them over their treatment of her when they thought she was a terrorist, that would have been nice.

Overall this was a great book (Split Second maybe has a slight edge but not much) and there is one line in it that I think really sums up the message of both books. Mayor Latimer, Aaron’s dad says that “democracy is the least worst option we have” and I think there’s something quite important in that as we all complain about the politicians in this country but reading a book like this shows you that things could be a lot worse and democracy may not always be the best option, but it’s the best of all bad options and that is maybe something we should remember. If you want a book with action but that also carries an important message for our life today then this book is definitely a great read (as is it’s predecessor).

My rating: 4/5

The next book I will be reviewing is the prequel to the Maze Runner, The Kill Order by James Dashner.

Close My Eyes Review

Book: Close My Eyes

Author: Sophie McKenzie

This book is Sophie McKenzie’s first book for adults, and was published last year. She is one of my favourite authors and over the last year or so, I have read and enjoyed most of her books for teenagers and am eagerly anticipating the release of Every Second Counts, the sequel to Split Second later next month. I have to admit this book is not my favourite one of hers that she has written, but it was still a good read. The beginning of the book was quite slow but it picked up towards the middle and the end was characteristic Sophie McKenzie fare-edge of your seat exciting as you finally found out the mystery that had been set up from the beginning of the book. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

It’s been eight years since Geniver Loxley lost her daughter Beth; eight years of grief in which nothing has really moved forward, for all that her husband Art wills it to. Gen, once a writer of novels, has settled into a life of half hearted teaching, while Art makes his name and their fortune-and pressures her into trying IVF again. For Gen, it seems like a cruel act of replacement, life without Beth is unthinkable, unbearable-but still it goes on.  And then a woman arrives on Gen’s doorstep, saying the very thing she longs to hear: that her daughter was not stillborn, but was spirited away as a healthy child, and is out there, waiting to be found….So why is Art so reluctant to get involved? To save his wife from further hurt? Or something much more sinister? What is the truth about Beth Loxley?

I felt the beginning was a little slow, but the beginnings of most stories are and it helps set up the mystery for the novel-each chapter leaves off with a cliffhanger that makes you want to read the next chapter and as a reader you do feel like Gen at times, trying to work out who you can trust and who you can’t. I think the plot is a little far fetched-I’m not sure something like this could actually happen in real life but it makes for interesting reading so I didn’t really care. I wasn’t sure how I felt about Gen as a character-at times I liked her and felt sympathetic towards her and at times I didn’t like her. Art, I didn’t like as soon as he was introduced-he seemed manipulative and I knew from the offset that he would have had something to do with it even before it was revealed.  The characters in general weren’t particularly likeable, I never liked Art’s sister Morgan and I found that I couldn’t fully trust Lorcan either-he seemed too charming for his own good. As a mystery, it works well as it keeps you guessing and for me at least, I didn’t work out who took Gen’s baby until the big reveal at the end. McKenzie makes you suspicious of so many different characters through the book and yet the person who did it is someone who I never suspected-I actually didn’t think they were important to the story at all. The end was truly shocking-I had figured out who the child narrator was earlier in the book (though initially I thought it was Art or Gen as a child-it was not) but it was a chilling end and truly unexpected. The characters, whilst not all completely likeable are very well developed and you do get a real sense of what motivates each character and why they act the way they act-which is good, I don’t mind if I don’t like characters in a book as long as they are well developed and I felt Sophie McKenzie did this well. The end of  the book makes you want a sequel because you want to find out what the child does next, but I don’t think that is going to happen-the book felt like it came to a natural end.

Through the book, you never really know if Gen’s child is alive or no-McKenzie offers different explanations as to what may have happened to her baby and I was never sure if her baby really was alive or if she was just unstable and wishing for her baby to be alive-you can easily see why Gen could be seen as unstable as her story is hard to believe and you don’t find out the truth until the last part of the book.  I fell pray to believing some of the red herrings that McKenzie used as well which made me as surprised as Gen was when the culprit was revealed. I did however guess at the affair between Lorcan and Gen as soon as he was introduced-but then I think that McKenzie made it pretty obvious to the readers anyway. Whilst I didn’t like Gen, I did feel that you could really sympathise with her and the fact that she’d lost her baby and I was just as desperate as she was to find out whether Beth was alive or not. Even if the book had been terrible (which it wasn’t) the end saved it because it was very intense and gripping and I felt like I couldn’t put the book down which I did not feel at the beginning of the book.

This may not be my favourite one of McKenzie’s books as I feel her teen thrillers have gripped me more-which is understandable considering that I am a teen-but it is a well written, gripping (for the most part) book with an intriguing mystery running through it and I would definitely recommend reading it, especially if you are a McKenzie fan because it is nice to read a book by her about a different topic but it still has some of the signature characteristics of her books. She is one of my favourite authors and I can’t wait to read what she writes next.

My rating-4/5

The next book I am going to be reviewing is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I’ve heard good things about this book, so I am hoping it will not disappoint me.

 

Split Second review

Book: Split Second
Author: Sophie McKenzie
This may be one of the best books I’ve read in the last year or so. It’s a fast paced, incredibly exciting book with a great storyline. I’ll give you a short synopsis of the book first:
Bound together by the devastating consequences of a terrorist attack on a London market, teenagers Charlotte (Charlie) and Nat appear at first to have much in common. But, as Charlie gets closer to Nat and his family, she begins to wonder if perhaps he knows more about the attack than he has let on. Split Second is an action-packed thriller that shifts between the perspectives of its two main characters as their courage and their loyalties are tested to the limit.
The beginning of the book is incredibly fast paced, Sophie McKenzie throws you straight into the action, as the main male character Nat is chasing through a market trying to find a bomb and the pace doesn’t really let up for most of the book. The relationship between Nat and Charlie is really well developed through the book and you really root for both of them through the book. I liked that Charlie was the stronger character out of the two of them, it’s really great to see a strong female character and a male character who is the more doubtful. The plot through the book is incredible and you honestly never really know what’s going to happen next-there are so many twists but it’s so good! The chapters can be quite short but it’s actually better that way because it keeps your attention and you find yourself desperate to know what happens next. It’s a very realistic portrayal of what could happen to our country and makes you slightly worried that we might end up living the same way they do in the book. Roman Riley, the politician is very well written (you feel the same way Charlie and Nat feel about him throughout) and there are parallels between our political system and the corrupt political system shown on the books. The League of Iron terrorist group reminds you a little of the Nazis in their rascist attitudes and the EFA (English Freedom Army) reminds me of the Liberation Militia in Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses series. Overall this book is a fantastic read, with a plot that will keep you enthralled from beginning to end, really well developed characters that you really root for and a huge twist at the end that makes you extremely impatient for the sequel. I can’t wait to read Every Second Counts when it comes out later this year and if it’s half as good as Split second was then it will be a fantastic read.
My rating: 5/5
The next book I am reviewing will be The Maze Runner by James Dashner.