Tuesday, August 27, 2013

City of Bones: The Mortal Instruments Series, Book One, by Cassandra Clare

Cassandra Clare's City of Bones: The Mortal Instruments
Review by Sharon Powers.

This book is available in the usual formats: hardcover, paperback and on Kindle, and, of course, you can also read this book almost anywhere (computer, phone, tablet, etc.) if you download the free app from Amazon. Also note that the book is less expensive if you buy it for an e-reader or a Kindle device.

Who is the audience for this book? It is apparent that it is a urban fantasy series written for young adults. As a somewhat older reader, I have found find that young adults, in general, have a fresh approach to novels geared to them--they look at the stories with eyes that are not jaded or sometimes clouded with years of experience that would lead them to prejudge what they are reading. Young adults tend to know what they like, and are unabashedly happy to let you know what it is they enjoy. With this book, Cassandra Clare's City of Bones: The Mortal Instruments, an approach must be made taking the intended audience into consideration.

Up front, though, I have to acknowledge that the plot is predictable. It is a typical hero's journey where the hero/heroine must leave home (or is forcibly driven from their home), and encounters many obstacles on the way before they can return home, having found the sacred elixir (or, in this case, the Mortal Cup).

SYNOPSIS: A fifteen-year old girl, Clary Fray, and her friend, Simon, go to the Pandemonium Club for an evening's enjoyment. Two club patrons catch Clary's eye--a blue-haired boy being enticed by a beautiful young woman into a storage room. After the door closes, two young men appear near the door. One young man pulls out a long, sharp knife and then the two also enter the storage room. Clary gets her friend, Simon, to alert security while Clary enters the storage room. She hears talk of demons, monsters and sees the blue-haired boy struck down with the knife, black blood, and then the boy melting away into nothingness (just as the witch did when Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz movie, threw water on her.).

Simon arrives with security, but they don't see anyone other than Clary standing in the storage room. Clary realized that she was the only one who could see (Jace) the blonde-haired boy, (Alec) the dark-haired boy, and (Isabelle) the beautiful young woman in the white dress. Such is Clary's introduction into the world of the shadowhunters...a world where she is strangely attracted to the mysterious shadowhunter boy, Jace.

The next day, Clary's mother, Jocelyn Fray, disappears from their apartment. A demon appears and Clary fights and kills it, but is injured; Jace appears and takes her to the "Institute" for healing by one of the "silent brothers." It is then that Clary learns that she was born into a line of shadowhunters. On her birthday, Clary and Jace kiss, bringing more romantic tension into the story. Thereafter, Clary faces a series of obstacles to unblock her memory, learn to draw magical runes, find the mortal cup, get her mother back, and rescue her friend, Simon, who has been kidnapped by a group of vampires. Werewolves (good, of course) enter the story as Luke, friend of Clary's mother, reveals to Clary that Valentine (long thought dead--but who is now back) is her father; later Luke (with his pack of werewolves) comes to the rescue of Clary and her friends at the vampire's lair. Things get even more complicated when Valentine, the villain of the book, reveals that he is Jace's father--to her horror, Jace is now her brother! And, unfortunately, it is then that Valentine escapes to Idris with the Mortal Cup. Clary's mother is found in a coma and she is taken to the hospital.

Somehow, the shadowhunters will have to stop Valentine as he endeavors to get all three of the Mortal Instruments (the cup, the sword, and the mirror). Having all three instruments would give him the power to make his own evil shadowhunter army.

MY VIEW: So, since I've already acknowledged that the plot is predictable, that some of the characters are cookie cutter-like, and even poked fun at the fact that sometimes the story seems like a cross between Harry Potter and Star Wars, what is it that is good about Cassandra Clare's story?

Well, first, I find it hard to resist a strong female in the lead of a book. Here, Clary is the heroine that walks the hero's journey. As a female, I like seeing strong female leads in the collective mythos where traditionally men were the only ones to walk the hero's quest. I've been happy to see more and more books coming out where the hero is the heroine. Yeah, us!

The other thing is, I'm a sucker for action. I love action sequences and tend to enjoy thoroughly those books that include chunks of action to get the story moving. I love seeing sword play or physical confrontations where a lot is going on in the story. I like the pace picking up and really getting to feel the momentum of the actors going through their paces. One scene like this is where the werewolves help to rescue Clary, Simon and the others from the vampires--things are so chaotic in the fighting that Clary thinks a werewolf is one of her enemies, and wielding her knife, she stabs a werewolf, someone actually on her side. Humorously, the werewolf later returns the knife and Clary apologizes for stabbing him.

Cassandra Clare also really kept the romantic tension going among the characters--shifting likes and dislikes, misunderstandings and reunions. Jace and Clary, for instance, develop a real like/love (?) for each other only to have their romantic hopes dashed when they find out they are siblings (or are they?). We also see Luke's unresolved love for Jocelyn--he hangs around and shows fatherly care toward Clary, but yet hasn't told Jocelyn he loves her...will he? Magnus Bane (a warlock who says he doesn't like shadowhunters, but constantly helps them) is very attracted to Alec. Alec is attracted to Jace (initially in the book), and Alec's sister, Isabelle, is being looked at "dreamy-eyed" by Simon--who by the way, is really in love with his best friend, Clary. And, of course, the evil Valentine still has a thing for Jocelyn after all these years...and after she went and "betrayed" him, too. Hmmm. Should we say evil stalker?

CONCLUSION: If you can suspend your disbelief in magic and runes and fantastical creatures like werewolves and vampires, if you love action, romance and a heroine to save the day, then City of Bones, The Mortal Instruments, Book 1 may be the urban fantasy book for you. If you dislike evil villains, demon hunters, werewolves and vampires or warlocks, violence and blood, don't read it.


As for me, this was a very easy book to rate. I choose, read it--I rate it 4.0 Stars out of 5.

Amazon Readers rated it 4.1 stars out of 5 (out of 1,697 Reviewers)
Good Reads Readers: 4.1 stars out of 5 (381,079 Reviewers)
Love Vampires Readers: 4.0 stars out of 5 (unknown no.)
Google Books Readers: 4.0 stars out of 5 (224 Reviewers)
Barnes & Noble Readers: 4.3 stars out of 5 (4,937 Reviewers)

ADDITIONAL INFO.--FROM BOOK TO THE BIGSCREEN: I love it when a book goes to the big screen. I just salivate at the thought of being able to compare the book to the screen writer's and director's version of the printed page. Just for fun, I have included, here, a trailer of the newly released movie, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones for you to enjoy.

Until next time...many happy pages of reading.

Sharon Powers.

http://www.amazon.com/City-Bones-Mortal-Instruments-Book/dp/1416955070/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377615463&sr=8-1&keywords=City+of+Bones image from Amazon; http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0083PWAPW/ref=amb_link_382086282_2?ie=UTF8&nav_sdd=aps&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-1&pf_rd_r=1PDK10XDJGTW9VAKC78X&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1607668842&pf_rd_i=507846 Kindle device;https://www.google.com/search?q=The+Mortal+Cup&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=jBwdUs2KI-azigKDloHgBg&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1222&bih=910#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=2dViEnEfBIrPUM%3A%3BWZ4Ssgq8oEng2M%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252F4.bp.blogspot.com%252F-pQkPMMUg-5c%252FUag8I06eQCI%252FAAAAAAAABhw%252FLDI31Mn_ceo%252Fs320%252Fthe%252Bmortal%252Bcup.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.themortalinstrumentsinmovies.com%252F2013%252F05%252Fizzys-whip-mortal-cup-ruby-pendant.html%3B500%3B250 The Mortal Cup; http://www.amazon.com/Wizard-Oz-75th-Anniversary/dp/B00CNW9ZI6/ref=sr_1_3?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1377627679&sr=1-3&keywords=wizard+of+oz The Wizard of Oz DVD; https://www.google.com/search?q=city+of+bones+mortal+cup&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=RiQdUsCqNuTXigKWjoCAAQ&sqi=2&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAQ&biw=1222&bih=867#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=q1thr1ra1INFrM%3A%3B_NkW6sO_KFcA2M%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252F24.media.tumblr.com%252Ftumblr_mdnbshEIbF1r9jpgoo1_500.png%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.tumblr.com%252Ftagged%252Face-of-cups%3B500%3B580 The Ace of Cups; https://www.google.com/search?q=Pandamonium+club&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&bvm=bv.51470160,d.cGE,pv.xjs.s.en_US.4lhx30YK4AM.O&biw=1222&bih=867&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=SR0dUrWKDInMiQLPkIGYCw#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=15P7oGFuoUbtGM%3A%3B4AcOZGSjTqTFZM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fimages.onesite.com%252Fpulseit.com%252F%252Fbdfd5735b1446de9631ee43d64786cb7.jpg%253Fv%253D252900%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.pulseit.com%252Fgo%252Farticle%252Fview%252Fevents%252F263373%252Fmovie_vs._book%253A_the_pandemonium_club%3B562%3B450 Pandemonium Club image; http://collider.com/wp-content/uploads/the-mortal-instruments-city-of-bones-lily-collins-jamie-campbell-bower.jpg Jace & Clary; http://www.amazon.com/City-Bones-Mortal-Instruments-Book/dp/1416955070/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top Reviews; http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/256683.City_of_Bones Reviews; http://www.lovevampires.com/cclcityofbones.html Love Vampires Reviews; http://books.google.com/books/about/City_of_Bones.html?id=UwH5IwTWH3EC Google Readers Reviews;https://www.google.com/search?q=5+stars&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&biw=1222&bih=867&bvm=pv.xjs.s.en_US.4lhx30YK4AM.O&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=-yodUunMA6H6iwLe_oC4CQ#fp=13d6aa3a7d487f41&hl=en&q=four+stars+out+of+5&tbm=isch&um=1&facrc=_&imgrc=RADPdsYMm2jXEM%3A%3BzppKiqDQJ50CXM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fbooksnooks.files.wordpress.com%252F2012%252F07%252Fstar-four-11-jpg.png%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fbooksnooks.wordpress.com%252F%3B3000%3B700 Star Rating;  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/city-of-bones-cassandra-clare/1100329400?ean=9781416955078&itm=2&usri=city+of+boneshttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGFk2qpOxqU Trailer--City of Bones.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A to Z (Fun) Survey...


This week I have several projects in the works, but in the midst of prepping my next blog, I stumbled across a fun survey I would love to pass along to you. I was reading one of my favorite blogs, My Life in Books by Jennine G. who posted an "A to Z Survey" from blogger Wensend...who, in turn, picked it up from The Perpetual Page-Turner. Jamie explains she created her survey as a typical A-Z survey--that is, the questions correspond to the letters of the alphabet. Have fun. Here they are with my answers to the questions:

Author you've read the most books from:

Lois McMaster Bujold. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 books. I've read, of course, the Vorkosigan Saga and the Sharing Knife Series. My favorite series by Bujold, though, is the Chalion Series (winner of the 2003 Hugo, Nebula and Locus Fantasy Awards). A truly wonderful fantasy series by a great writer.

Best Sequel Ever: Orson Scott Card's new book (co-authored by Aaron Johnston) from his The First Formic War Series, Earth Afire: The First Formic War, Book 2, released June 4, 2013. What a fantastic read! For followers of the Ender Series, Earth Afire: The First Formic War is nothing short of incredible. I loved not only finding out what happened after book 1, Victor arriving at (planet) Luna, why Wit O'Toole's MOPS were important, but most of all, getting to see Mazer Rackham at his best. In this book I've come to love Mazer far more than I did in the Ender series. We get to see Mazer before he takes out the buggers (and buys the earth time to regroup and find a commander that will save them all). Exciting, fun read! It blew me away...I can't wait for Book 3 of this new series.

Currently Reading: I'm currently reading The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. Like all books you can get this book in a variety of formats. I found it for free from Amazon as a Kindle download. I try to select books to read that give me a well-rounded collection, knowledge and education. I try to pick my books from different genres, authors I haven't read, prize winners, by word of mouth, and sometimes just a random selection. To that end, every couple of months I select a book from the list of Pulitzer Prize Winning novels to read. This month my selection is by a wonderful author who won the Pulitzer in 1921. On Amazon, it is rated 4.4 out of 5 stars. Edith Wharton was the first woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize--she won it for this book.

Drink of Choice While Reading: I love tea! My favorite is a Auyervedic white chai (I love the cinnamon and cardamom flavors), seconded only by a very delicious and smooth Monkey Picked Oolong.

E-reader or physical book? I used to read strictly from physical books, but since the e-readers have gotten so good, I tend to read more, now, on my e-reader. I have to add that having an e-reader has given me access to a lot of good FREE books that I might never have had the opportunity to read.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School: In high school I loved horses and actually owned three beautiful horses of my own. I think I might have dated someone like Albert in Warhorse by Michael Morpurgo. I think I'd choose him because he loved horses, too. After all, he goes to the lengths of joining the military to try to track down his favorite horse friend, Joey, and bring him home. What's not to love?

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance: Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez. Since I'm not really into horror, I quelled in trepidation at picking up this book. When I eventually did pick it up, I discovered it is a quirky, amusing, and enjoyable satire. It doesn't take itself seriously--that's the point. This is not high-brow reading, but enjoy it, I did. Everyone needs a mild diversion from all that serious stuff every now and again. And I got it in spades with this charmer. I really am glad I gave it a chance.  

Hidden Gem Book: Two of Red and Two of Blue: The Story of a Page and a Prince by Marjorie Phillips. Unfortunately, this book is UNAVAILABLE. I first read this little gem in grade school, back around 1960. Since then, I tried to find it for my children and found it to be out of print. I searched everywhere for a copy of a used book, even rare book sellers, all to no avail. In July (this year, 2013), I found it, of all places, on Amazon. The second I saw it, I bought it. Price: $95.00. I am so happy to have this beautiful little gem and thoroughly enjoyed reading this delightful book again! If there were a button, I'd click it to have it reprinted, released to e-books, or even audio or CD. Such a wonderful little story. This is, indeed a Hidden Gem Book.

Important Moment in Your Reading Life: When I went to law school, I read law books and cases morning, noon, and night. I loved learning about the law, and I liked that going to law school changed the way I think and process things. The one really bad thing about going to law school was that I got burnt out on reading. I totally stopped reading fiction all together--for years! Also, my vision got worse and I had to start wearing glasses. So, about six years ago, my husband and I were in a book store and he suggested I pick up the book, The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks. I argued with him and told him I didn't read fantasy books, but he persisted. I went home with a copy and eventually read the book. It only took that one book and I was reading again. Also, my snobbery at not wanting to read fantasy books evaporated into thin air. Now, I don't limit myself to any genre, I read them all. So, kill two birds with one stone. Way to go Sharon.

Just Finished: Sea of Monsters: Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan. I knew this book was coming to the big screen. Since I wanted to read the book before I saw the movie, I picked this book up on Amazon to read on my Kindle reader. I know this is a YA book, but as I stated above, I try to pick books from all genres; yes, even YA. Also, when the movie is brought up in conversation, I can speak intelligently about having read the book and speak to how the book differs from the movie. It is good to remember that we all were young adults at one point, and going back to revisit that state of mind can't hurt. The only potential difficulty I see is not judging the book from a more mature reader's standards and expectations. It can be delightful to enjoy a book from the young adult perspective, sometimes...just as I did with this book.

Kinds of Books You Won't Read: Well, I guess it is just too late for this question. I looked up a list of book genres and it looks like I've dabbled in most of them. But...if I had a genre that really didn't appeal to me, I guess it would be the Horror genre. Too late, though, I've already read books from this category.

Longest Book You've Read: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas at 1202 pages. A real bargain at $.99, you, too, can read 1202 pages of text of this humongous story. I also read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand which came in a close second and missed out by only two pages (1200 pages).

Major Book Hangover Because of: I'm guessing that most of us avid readers often have book hangovers. I've read some books that have lingered pleasantly in my memory for days. But I did have an unpleasant experience with one book. 

The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It lingered in my mind and in my life for over a week. I had a lot of difficulty dealing with the cannibalism in the book. In my reading journal I wrote, "It's been days after I've finished reading this book, and images from the book are still in my mind. I've had bad dreams about bodies, death, graves, etc." To be fair, many people love this book. Among other awards, it won the Pulitzer prize in 2007 and it was an Oprah's Book Club book choice. Even my daughter highly recommended this book to me. While it may be a great book, people who are sensitive to post-apocalyptic themes of murder and cannibalism should avoid this book. To help get over the book I read comedy and romance books voraciously for a while. Sorry about the downer folks, on this one.

Number of Bookcases You Own: Right now, I only own three large bookcases. I used to have more, but the books became a problem to store. I weeded out books and kept the ones I truly loved. Now, I have a virtual bookcase containing hundreds of books.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times: Ahhhh. All through grade school and even a few times in high school I read one book over and over and over. I am sure I must have read it at least thirty times. I checked it out of the library and book-mobile over and over again...that is, until I got enough quarters together to buy a copy for myself. I sated myself on the beautiful story. The most beloved book of my childhood is none other than Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. This iconic children's story may have been loved by many, but the me as a child loved it more than anyone else in the world. 

Preferred Place to Read: My soft, wonderful couch that has a place for me to put my Kindle on its stand and a place for a cup of tea over by the side.

Quote That Inspires You/Gives You All The Feels From A Book You've Read: [The character "Simi" speaking to another character called "Gallagher" who has lost his family and is achingly lonely:] "We have three kinds of family. Those we are born to, those who are born to us and those we let into our hearts. I have let you into my heart, so the Simi is your family and she won't give you up. [Gallagher responded:] I can't give them up. [Simi answered him:] And you shouldn't. Ever. No one should ever forget those they love. But your heart is an amazing thing. It can always expand to take in as many people as you need it to. The people who live there, they don't go away. It's kind of like a house. You just make room for one more person and then another and another and another...Somehow there's always space for more." Location 402 of 1074, Kindle Edition of Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter: An Insider's Guide (an anthology). This quote is kind of self explanatory. It's a wonderful statement about love. Even though we may have lost people and love in our lives, we can fill up our hearts again by letting other people into it.

Reading Regret: Since I have already listed one book I have regretted reading, I am going to list a book I regret I did not read. As a young person, I never read Sci-Fi. I wish I had read Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series. I am slowly working my way through the series, and enjoying it, but I wish I would have read the series years ago so I could talk to my husband about it (he is a big fan of Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series). 

Series You Started and Need to Finish (all books are out in the series): Well, shoot, I guess I blew that one, didn't I? And to think it would have been as easy as saying "Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series. OK. Since I gave that one up already, I guess I would have to go with the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. (Three books down, four to go.)

Three of Your All-Time Favorite Books: This is an easy one for me. I've already done a post on my blog listing my Top Ten Books. So, here are three of my Top Ten All-Time Favorite Books: (1) Les Miserables by Victor Hugo; (2) East of Eden by John Steinbeck; and (3) A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. See my first post for my other seven favorite books.

Unapologetic Fangirl For: The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. I absolutely love this series. My favorite character in this series is Oberon--an Irish Wolfhound that communicates with the protagonist and hero this series, Atticus O'Sullivan, Celtic druid. Oberon makes me laugh out loud and is always asking Atticus for food, like sausages. Atticus battles any number of gods with his truth-commanding sword, Fragarach. Well, there is just too much to put, here, for a short answer-- suffice to say that it action-packed beginning to end. I LOVE it.

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others: I loved the first book of Brandon Sanderson's new Stormlight Archive series, The Way of Kings. Book 2 of the series will be released in January. It is entitled, Words of Radience and will be released January 21, 2014. I can't wait. I can't wait. I can't wait....Did I say, "I can't wait?" I really can't...wait.

Worst Bookish Habit: I probably shouldn't admit to this one, but while the family and I are together watching movies on the television (or Blu-ray), I am surreptitiously reading. I sincerely hope this doesn't get me into any trouble with the family--or HORRORS....an intervention! Maybe I should rethink this answer.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book: At location 27 in my book case I found The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I finished reading this book on April 25, 2010. It is a paperback book.

Your Latest Book Purchase: Cast in Secret: The Chronicles of Elantra (Book 3) by
Michelle Sagara. This is a new series, to me. I've only finished two books, so far. I plan on reading this book, soon. I guess I will let you know, later, how much or little I like the series. I do have hopes of it being really good, though. The concepts are intriguing.

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late): A Memory of Light: The Wheel of Time Series (Book 14), the final book of the series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. I took a day off work the day it was released, and then stayed up all night to finish it. The book was 912 pages long--I had waited for this book for a long time and was so happy to get it, to read it, and finally find out what happened to all my favorite characters. It was definitely worth it. Two thumbs up.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my A-Z answers for this fun survey. Take it yourself. Have some fun. Until next time,

Many happy pages of reading...

Sharon P.


http://www.endersansible.com/earth-afire/ Cover photo of Earth Afire.
http://www.amazon.com/Gils-Fright-Diner-Alex-Awards/dp/B000GQLD0O Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez on Amazon.
 http://www.amazon.com/Two-Red-Blue-Story-Prince/dp/B00CSZRX2S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377368735&sr=8-1&keywords=Two+of+Red+and+Two+of+Blue+the+story+of+a+page+and+a+prince Two of Red and Two of Blue: The Story of a Page and a Prince by Marjorie Phillips on Amazon--UNAVAILABLE in books.
 http://www.amazon.com/Memory-Light-Wheel-Time-Book/dp/0765325950/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1377387331&sr=1-1&keywords=A+Memory+of+Light A Memory of Light, The Wheel of Time Series, Book XIV, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson at Amazon.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Green Mile by Stephen King

by Stephen King

 Please see the story synopsis below. [1] And what the heck is a green mile, anyway? And whatever is it about a book in the horror genre by a novelist known for writing horror stories that would prompt me to place it on my Top Ten Favorite Books List...especially when horror novels are not usually my cup of tea?

Well, first, this book isn't really horror...I'd say more thriller than horror. No jump out of your seat moments that cause you to scream, jump, or flinch. It does have its dramatic moments, but The Shining, also by Stephen King, it isn't. It has, however, received the The Bram Stoker Award for best novel, 1996, from the Horror Writer's Association, and in 1997 was nominated for the prestigious Locus Award as well as for the British Fantasy Award for Best Novel.

Book to movie: The Green Mile was adapted for film and came to the big screen with a title of the same name in 1999, winning the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA in 2000 for Best Supporting Actor (Michael Clarke Duncan), Best Supporting Actress (Patricia Clarkson), and Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film. Also in 2000, it won the BMI Film Music Award, the Critics Choice Award for Best Screenplay and for Best Supporting Actor; it also won the People's Choice Awards, USA for Favorite Dramatic Motion Picture/Favorite Motion Picture; and importantly, it won from the Political Film Society, USA, the PFS Award for Human Rights.

The StoryThe Green Mile.  What is a green mile? It is quite literally, the last steps a condemned man takes from his cell to his execution. In this book, The Green Mile, we find the character John Coffey, innocent of the crimes committed, under sentence of death and living on death row waiting to walk the green mile to his execution.

So, down to why I included this novel among the other nine novels in my all time Top Ten Favorite Books List. First, Stephen King masterfully draws a picture for us, indeed, shows us why the death penalty is by its very nature wrong. King never preaches or stands on a soap box spewing vehemence against the Death Penalty, he does not rip open his shirt and rend his garments, saying, "Ain't it just awful!" He doesn't insult the reader or embarrass himself in taking a strident open stand. Instead, he gently pulls us into John's story. He simply shows us that the government, the courts, and people can make mistakes because they have been morally outraged over a heinous crime and then, in their rush and in blindness (a deliberate pun on the legal system), condemn an innocent person...in John Coffey's case, a very good person. 

Historically, many innocent people have been sentenced to prison and death; later it was discovered through DNA or other evidence that the person could not possibly have committed the crime and the condemned, exonerated (See the Death Penalty Information Center for a list of 142 persons on "The Innocence List," so condemned and then later acquitted or dismissed.). This social stand, we as Americans have taken in the name of public safety, reminds me so much of Nazi Germany where untold numbers of people were executed because they were considered to be of inferior creation...ethnicity, religion, skin color....how many Einstein's, Jascha Heifetz's, Carl Sagan's, Marc Chagall's, Bob Dylan's, Levi Strauss's, Alan Greenspan's, or Jonas Salk's have been killed and lost to the world?

Moreover, King shows us that people really don't see into other people to see a true nature of the other...except in some cases. Even in this story where most of the people are blind to what is real, a prison guard (Paul Edgecomb) and the Warden's wife look past John's hulking frame, black skin, low intelligence and inarticulate nature to the beautiful gift that has been given to the world. The gifts of healing, hope and miracles.

John stands as the Christ figure, here--all about miracles. He heals others of their physical, emotional and spiritual wounds, and he chastises and punishes the wicked (Wild Bill Wharton, killer of the two little girls). He resurrects a little mouse ("Mr. Jingles"), very like Lazarus raised from the dead. He even gives mankind a part of himself--akin to the religious rite of Holy Communion (when he gives Paul Edgecomb a part of himself in order to show what happened to the little Girls). And, in the end he suffers for humanity and like the lamb led to the slaughter, takes on the sins of the world and chooses to walk himself to his own death.

King's writing is superb, maybe the best of his career. The Green Mile characters are realistically drawn, the plot engaging, and King walks us down through the last mile of this elegiac and moving story. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and am happy to have read this hauntingly beautiful novel.

Until next time...many happy pages of reading. Sharon.


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120689/awards List of Awards for the movie, The Green Mile.

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/innocence-list-those-freed-death-row, for the Death Penalty Information Center, Innocence List.
http://www.horror.org/blog/ for information about the Horror Writer's Association and the Bram Stoker Award

[1] Green Mile synopsis: Paul Edgecomb, now 104 years old looks back on his life to the time he was a prison guard on Death Row and tells Elaine (a nurse at the convalescent home) his story. He tells the following story...John Coffey, a tall black man, of low intelligence and inarticulate, arrives on Death Row, convicted of the rape and murder of two little white girls. John cures Paul of a urinary tract infection and reveals further mysterious powers by resurrecting a little mouse (later named "Mr. Jingles") that was killed by sadist Percy Wetmore. Paul then begins to doubt John's guilt. John is snuck out of prison to cure the Warden's wife (Melinda) of a brain tumor, and just as quickly snuck back into the prison. The guard, Percy Wetmore, sabotages the execution of Edward Delacroix, the caretaker of "Mr. Jingles," causing Delacroix a horrific death witnessed by all. William "Wild Bill" Wharton arrives on Death Row to complicate things even more; at one point Wharton grabs John Coffey's arm and John psychically visualizes Wharton's rape and murder of the two little girls. John punishes the bad men by passing Melinda's disease into Percy--Percy goes mad and kills "Wild Bill." Percy is then shipped off to the insane asylum, and John takes his last walk down the "green mile" to his execution. Paul is so disturbed by all the events, he leaves to work elsewhere. Back to the present, Paul introduced "Mr. Jingles," the inordinately long-lived mouse, to Elaine and then "Mr. Jingles" dies. Having lost his wife and everyone he has cared for, Paul remains in a kind of death row of his own, wondering how much more time he has left to serve before he will be able to walk his last mile.

Monday, August 19, 2013

My Top Ten Favorite Books--What are Yours?

UPDATE: 08-31-14:
     My one year update to this blog (where you can find my revised list of my top ten favorites) can be found by clicking the link, here.

My very first post. Wow! I never imagined I would ever write a blog. But here I am. I guess I should state the obvious, first. My name is Sharon, and I love books. I read (it seems like) all the time. I'm doing this because want to share some of the information and knowledge I've acquired while participating in this beautiful activity. To that end, here we go...

Let's start with something personal. Everyone has a list of favorite books they have read over the years...as do I. See what you can derive about my personality and character from this list:

1. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo;
2. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson;
3. East of Eden by John Steinbeck;
4. Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead by Orson S. Card;
5. The Gathering Storm / Towers of Midnight / A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson;
6. Night by Elie Wiesel;
7. La Chancon de Roland (The Song of Roland) by Unknown;
8. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle;
9. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown; and
10. The Green Mile by Stephen King.

I have not included the Bible on this list, as it is an entity unto itself. Although it can be looked at as literature (as it often is in academia), I prefer to keep the great work totally apart from a list of personal likes that may (as it has in the past) change with whatever whimsy I may be feeling or some new book that has recently captured my heart.

Also, I am not saying that these books are the top ten best books ever written. They are my top ten favorite books that I have ever read...up to this moment in time. This is a very personal list, and I realize everyone's list will differ. This list is just a beginning point to begin sharing my love of books with you.

I would absolutely love to know your favorite (top ten) books. Please share your favorites with me as I have shared mine with you. What do you like that is on my list? Do any of these books surprise you by their inclusion on the list? I really would love to hear from you about your own love of books by sharing your top ten with me along with any pertinent comments. Thank you with all my heart for reading my blog. Thank you in advance to those of you who send me your own personal list.