Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fool Me Twice

Fool Me Twice, by Stephanie Black, is one twisty-turny book! It starts out with Megan O'Connor being bulldozed by her identical twin sister, Kristen, to take Kristen's place in caring for an aunt they never knew they had. Kristen tells Megan they're certain that Aunt Evelyn will leave all her money to them, and Megan's cut will come to half a million dollars. As the story goes on, however, the reader learns that Kristen has others plans – and so does "Aunt" Evelyn. Megan is suddenly caught up in the kidnapping of her new best friend and faces danger from a corner she didn't expect.

The story is fast-paced, especially towards the end, but doesn't skimp on characterization or description. Megan is shown right from the beginning to be a pushover, while her sister Kristen is ruthless. Megan has a conscience, whereas Kristen is lacking in that department. In the end, however, it is Megan's good and caring nature that helps her see that something's rotten in the state of Massachussetts, and by following her conscience, she can unravel all the evil snares that have been so painstakingly set up by many different people throughout the book. I particularly liked the way that Megan finally stands up to her sister at the end and is even starting to learn not to be such an easy touch by the conclusion of the story.

I also liked the little details that were scattered through the story, the mention of things that seemed so off-hand when I first read them, yet turn out to be significant later on, such as the mention of Megan's mother's car having been vandalized, or the way that Michael Drake prefers to pay a driver to chauffeur him around instead of doing his own driving. There are also scenes where details are left out, or rather, left to the reader's imagination. Later, it turns out that the scene was set up in such a way that the reader is left thinking that X must certainly have happened until the author reveals that actually, it was Y. I didn't feel cheated or frustrated in any way, however, because in the meantime, the author has filled in certain background information which helps the reader see that Y was actually the only possible outcome. An example of this is the prologue, where Evelyn comes into the house to find her husband dying after an attack by a burglar. The reader is left thinking that he does die because of the attack, but later, the true cause of death is revealed, and it's not the big shock it would have been if it had been spelled out right there in the prologue.

There were several different points of view shown in the story, which can be confusing for those of us with attention-deficit disorder, but the shifts from one person to the next were clearly marked. I only got lost once, between Trevor Drake and his brother Josh, because they were quite similar, but a quick re-read soon sorted me out. Aside from that, all the characters were so distinct that I had no difficulty in distinguishing them. I have no reservations about recommending this book to anyone who likes a good thriller.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Forged in the Refiner's Fire by Candace Salima and Elizabeth Cheever

Recently I read Forged in the Refiner’s Fire—a compilation by Candace Salima and Elizabeth Cheever. I immediately found myself caught up in the stories of the trials and tribulations that others have gone through (some are well-known LDS names such as entertainer Merrill Osmond, author Tristi Pinkston, etc.). These are stories from the heart—stories that have changed lives. From an unwanted painful divorce, to a debilitating injury, to a childless couple—many walks of life are examined. Do these stories have good endings? Not necessarily—because they are true stories—about the ebb and flow of living a good life in spite of difficult challenges. About finding and maintaining faith against the odds.

An informational video can be found here on You Tube. In it, Candace Salima discusses the purpose and impact of the book.

Copies of Forged in the Refiner’s Fire are available on Candace's Website or on Amazon.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Journey by Jewel Adams

Fans of Jewel Adams will enjoy her latest novel--one of making choices, finding love, and returning to what is tried and true. Something that resonates with all of us.

Ciran is on a journey--a journey in another world where she is tried and tested. But this is not any ordinary test. The fate of her homeland depends on her choices. When a charming man by the name of Ubal, asks her to dance at a party, she finds herself swept up by his charisma. But Ubal holds a secret, and when Ciran discovers it, she must face her true self and make the most important decision of her life.

LDS readers will find the theme of this novel familiar, though it is set in a "new world". This book is about making the right choices, even when we are unsure of our potential. For more information about her other books, please visit Jewel's website.