Book Review Friday: Two Can Play

“Cautious is boring.”

I took a trip to my local library on a mission to find books from unknown authors. I wanted to stroll through the shelves and see what I could find without having my usual list of must haves. Two Can Play caught my eye with its bold red cover and “deliciously twisted” quote. I did not realize it was the second in a series before I made it home but it was easy to follow regardless.

Audrey Harte is a criminal psychologist hired to prepare for the trial of a teenage serial killer, Ian Monroe. Before interviewing Monroe, Audrey receives flowers signaling the beginning of a game that she did not intend on playing. As evidence begins to come together, it is likely that Monroe had a partner or someone that is helping taunt Audrey. She must race to find answers as more girls are taken and protect the one surviving witness, Tori Scott. Between the victims, Monroe and Audrey’s personal life this book is jam packed with action. After getting past the first few chapters I couldn’t put this one down. I had to know how everything was going to come together.

As far as mystery novels go, this one is a winner! The author gives just enough of the story to keep you hooked without letting you guess too much about the future. I didn’t really know the ending until about 20 pages before it was revealed. The clues left along the way are perfect to keep the reader going. I would definitely read this book again to see if I found any more along the way.

I have spoken to the author, Kate Kessler, and book three will be out in November of this year. She is currently writing the fourth installment. I am going to be anxiously waiting for my copy to arrive! 

Write About it Wednesday: The Fountain of Youth

“Why, heck, Winnie, life’s to enjoy yourself isn’t it? What else is it good for? That’s what I say.”

I began my research of the Fountain of Youth before reading Tuck Everlasting. This well-known classic has been on my reading list for quite some time and I was lucky enough to share it with my students. The idea of eternal youth is an interesting concept. The perspective of a teenager compared to my now adult (do I have to admit it?) opinion varies greatly on the subject.

The Fountain of Youth holds the key to staying young forever. If you drink or bathe in the waters, youth will be restored. Many believe that Ponce de Leon went in search of the fountain in present day Florida, but the accounts of his travel do not support this claim. The tale continues to live on, but I think it’s the adventure of finding it that actually appeals to readers. There are countless articles and documentaries of people searching for the fountain. What do you think would happen if these magical waters were found today? 

Tuck Everlasting is a tale of young love and adventure. Winnie is desperate to live life outside the confines of her mother. She decides to go into the woods by her house and discovers Jess, a member of the Tuck family, drinking from a spring. The spring provides immortality to all those that consume it, but Winnie wishes to drink from it without knowing the consequences. The Tucks fear that she will either drink the water or tell others about the spring so they kidnap her. Winnie is scared at first, but after spending time with the family she grows to love and care for them. She is given the choice to drink from the spring, but I won’t reveal the ending! It made me question if I would drink from the fountain if given the choice. Life is so short, and there is so much to do and see. If tempted, would I have the courage to decide?

I think aging is such a natural process. I can’t imagine being suspended in time. My students think youth is the greatest asset for a person. Anything can be possible if you are young. I would argue that wisdom and experience make for a greater asset. I think after several years I would grow weary of the constant change surrounding me while I remain in a state of agelessness. I already grow cynical with the state of the world. If given the choice, I would have to choose to live life to the fullest with the knowledge that it would end one day. What’s that old saying? We must make the most of it while we are here.

Would you drink from the fountain? Let me know if you have read Tuck Everlasting, or have any opinions on eternal youth! 

Book Review Friday: The King of Torts

“This money will improve your life if you keep it quiet. If you talk about it, then it will destroy you.”

My first Grisham experience is complete. Is it bad that I’m really disappointed? This always happens when an author or book has been hyped up as perfection. Is it meant to appeal to those that do not read often? I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. I can find this story line in a thousand books, making it very predictable. I wanted it all with Grisham: intrigue, mystery, excitement, something to make me root for reading all his books. I don’t think this is the author’s fault, but a sad consequence of the media. The hype can destroy the basis of a book before the reader is ever allowed to form their own opinion.

Clay Carter works for the Public Defender’s Office in DC. He is unhappy with his situation, and finds himself appointed to yet another murder case. He begins investigating the crime and finds a conspiracy involving a large pharmaceutical company. He is offered millions to keep the company safe and open his own practice. He quickly becomes the “king of torts,” only to spend through his millions and wind up back where he started.

I love books involving court cases and law, but this just fell flat. The potential was lost on the idea for a drug that would combat criminal behavior. The focus is on Clay and his attempt to secure settlements and make lots of money. I would have enjoyed more information about the original case and some actual courtroom time. The relationship between Clay and his girlfriend/ex-girlfriend/girlfriend again complicates the story even further and is downright annoying. There is just nothing that stands out about this book that makes me want to read more of his writing.

Do you have a Grisham that you love? Should I try another one? I’d love to hear your opinion!

Write About it Wednesday: What Makes a Good Biography?

“Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.”

Biographies are my go to nonfiction. I find it hard to pick up a book that details a war or a particular time period with 500 + pages without getting bored and feeling guilty for not being able to read it through. A biography allows the reader a more personal experience of what occurred.

So what makes a good biography?

A good biography should read like a novel. Truth can be told as any other story, and presentation is important. A reader shouldn’t feel as though they picked up their old history book and need to take notes in case there is a quiz at the end. The story should flow and keep the reader engaged and excited. The most important aspect of a biography is the research. An author should research thoroughly before beginning the writing process. Facts about the person’s life are important, but combining elements of the world around them makes it authentic. It is immediately evident if the right amount of research has been done. Another important element is the author’s passion. Why are they writing about this particular person? What made them significant? If the reader can’t tell then the author has missed an essential element.

My biggest pet peeve in a biography is when the author is outright biased about a historical event, or a decision made by the person they are discussing. I do not pick up a biography to hear an author’s opinion on historical matters. I want a well-rounded viewpoint so I can develop my own opinions. How do I know if something is accurate if the author is telling their own form of the truth?

What are your favorite biographies? Do you have any that you despised?

Book Review Friday: Something Blue

“It was love as a verb, as Rachel used to say. Love that made me more patient, more loyal, and stronger. Love that made me feel more complete than I had ever felt in my glamorous, Jimmy Choo filled past.”

Something Blue is the follow up to Something Borrowed, a story of love and lost friendships. This story follows Darcy after her wedding has been called off and she finds herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s baby. When she goes to tell her best friend about the wedding cancellation, she finds her fiancé hiding in her friend’s closet. This is basically a crazy love triangle at its finest. Darcy’s best friend is in love with her former fiancé and Darcy is sleeping with her former fiancés friend aka groomsmen in their cancelled wedding. I wish this was less complicated than it sounds but the story does flow easily. If catching your best friend with your ex fiancé of only a few hours isn’t bad enough, her boyfriend breaks up with her and wants zero involvement with the baby. Left with few options, Darcy takes a leave of absence from her job and leaves for London to stay with a childhood friend.

Darcy spends the first few weeks in London absorbed in shopping and self-pity. Her only plan is to stay with Ethan in his small apartment and daydream of the perfect man coming along. She longs for a night out but meeting Ethan’s friends’ ends up leading to a serious fight about her true nature. “He had said so many mean things, come at me from so many angles, that I was unsure how to defend myself.” She wakes up the next morning feeling her baby kick and decides to write the steps to becoming a better Darcy. As she tackles this list she finds friends, finds out she is having twin boys, begins dating her doctor, and finds out that there is more to life than being pretty and marrying a rich man.

Sometimes life throws you curveballs and you have to reevaluate yourself. I think this is a great story for anyone starting over, or looking for a good read about relationships made over. ***Spoiler Alert*** I do not like when everything works out perfectly though. I’m not sure if this makes me cynical or a realist, but the ending left me wondering how often the happily ever after works out this easily. I would have liked more time spent on Darcy discovering herself, rather than realizing she’s in love and winding up married with her friend and ex fiancé attending the wedding. Life is complicated and messy and literature should reveal that.

Happy Reading!! 

Write About it Wednesday: Rise of ISIS

“Americans are weary of war, but our enemies are not. Wars do not end when we grow tired of fighting them. They end when our enemies are defeated.”

The Rise of ISIS is a combination of background, crimes committed by the terrorist organization and a detailed account of Hamas and their threat to Israel. This is an excellent description for people who have minimal knowledge of ISIS and the threat we’re currently facing. I am not an expert on terrorism, but I was hoping for a deeper knowledge of ISIS based on the title. There are several chapters outlining Hamas and their influential role on other organizations. I did find this intriguing and hope to dive into some research over the Gaza conflict, and the Palestinian authority. I was alarmed that Fatah and Hamas jointly govern the authority and that Obama funded $221 million to the organization three hours before Trump’s inauguration. The fact that Hamas is a terrorist organization is widely known, and our tax dollars were sent as aid to their new government.

One thing I found shocking was the overwhelming use of media by ISIS. “…on June 13, 2014, ISIS posted a picture of a decapitated head on Twitter, along with the following text: This is our football, it’s made of skin #WorldCup.” With the 90, 000 + social media messages per day they have a firm hold on marketing strategies. People are flocking from countries all over the world to join ISIS at an alarming rate. Their violent crimes and lack of concern for human life is not a deterrent. They also have a steady cash flow making them the wealthiest terror organization with countless weapons at their disposal.

I have always had my fair share of issues with the U.N. (and their involvement in terrorist organizations) and this book only increased my concerns. It brought to light issues that I did not know about the Red Cross and how each organization reports the news on the ground. They both lean towards the left and if this book is correct, have aided in promoting terrorism in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I like to explore both sides and determine fact vs opinion, but I found little evidence disputing some of the claims. It’s shocking and downright scary.

This book leaves us: “It’s once again time for America to lead.” I couldn’t agree more

May TBR

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The Marriage Plot- I found this on a website that suggested books for Austen fans. I haven’t read a Pulitzer Prize in awhile and I’m excited for another romantic novel.

Those Are Real Bullets- I found this book on a search for an Ireland challenge on Goodreads. I have fairly limited knowledge of Bloody Sunday, or Ireland in general so this will be a great start to the challenge.

Breaking Dawn – The finale to Twilight. This is my second time reading but I’m still not prepared for it to be over.

The Palestine-Israeli Conflict- After reading The Rise of ISIS, I wanted to check into Hamas and the Gaza conflict. I think the Beginner’s Guide is a perfect starting place.

Martha Washington- This is the precursor for another blog that I will be heading up. I have made it through several presidential biographies, but I haven’t read any about the women in their lives.

Captivated by You- I started this series in April and I’m already on book four. I’m not sure why I can’t put them down. I do not even like their controlling, jealous relationship but I have to know how it ends.

The Shadow Queen- This was a suggestion from a friend. I love anything to do with the British throne.

A Rising Man- I am halfway through this mystery novel and obsessed. It takes place during British occupation of India, and I have already started research on this time period. I find everything about it fascinating.

There are big changes coming to A Million Pages this month! Look for Write About it Wednesday, featuring nonfiction reviews and Book Review Friday for my fictional reads.

Also, my contact information, about me, and review policies have been updated!

May is a wonderful month for book lovers!