June 15th, 2009

A Time to Kill

A Time to Kill

John Grisham

A Time to Kill was published in 1989 and is John Grisham's first novel. The novel takes place in rural Mississippi, and centers around the Hailey family. When Carl Lee Hailey receives a phone call from his wife at work telling him that his daughter is missing, he doesn't hurry home; Gwen has been known to overreact and exaggerate. However, when he does arrive home, his life as he knows it has been flipped upside down. Tonya Hailey, 10 years old, had been kidnapped, raped, and almost beaten to death. The two rednecks who raped her are caught, but Carl Lee seeks vengeance, and kills them with an M-16 in the basement of the courthouse. When Carl Lee is arrested and put on trial for capital murder, he seeks the help of defense lawyer, Jake Brigance, to save him from the gas chamber.

This book is very much a downplayed version of To Kill a Mockingbird, but is still good nonetheless. Grisham's writing style makes for an easy read, and it is definitely a page-turner. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick summer read and enjoys a good court room case.

3 out of 5 stars


#53 City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

The City of Ember exists in a world of darkness that is illuminated by electric lights. When every child reaches twelve years of age, they are assigned a job at random. Lina Mayfleet is horrified when she does not get her desired job as messenger, and instead is has to work in the damp, cold Pipeworks. She is surprised, but happy when Doon Harrow, volunteers to switch jobs with her, giving up he recently picked position as messenger. Doon knows there is something wrong with Ember. Blackouts are becoming more frequent, supplies are running thin, and the people are becoming nervous and scared. Working on the Pipeworks means he will be closer to the generator. Doon, who has always been good at fixing things, hopes that he can access the generator and figure out how to fix the electrical problems before the City of Ember is doomed to darkness.

One thing Jeanne DuPrau does wonderfully here is crafting a unique, rich world with a limited word count. Through the eyes of Lina and Doon we’re introduced to a culture that is very different from our own. Most writers would depend on long passages of info dump, but DuPrau does a great job of integrating the necessary info into the story as casually as possible. Like many children’s book published since Harry Potter convinced the world that children do like to think too, is also not a fluff novel. It’s not afraid to ask some tricky questions, and doesn’t provide straightforward answers. The characters, such as moody Doon, and responsible Lina, are also quite likeable.

Now here’s where I get a little critical. I know that I’m in the minority here, as this book is pretty universally loved. I also want to admit up front that I do consider this to be positive reading experience, and consider any set back to be partially due to the fact that I am not in the intended 9-12 age range. Still… I expected a little more from The City of Ember. The set up is great. We’re presented with morally complex characters in a unique setting, who have to solve an interesting puzzle-like quest. My problem was I wanted to see more of the culture of the city. Also, the end, which does resolve the main plotline (Will they escape Ember?), leaves far too many questions unanswered. Why did the Builders find in necessary to create Ember? Why did they want to leave its people so ignorant? What is going on in the outside world? Etc. A similar book, The Giver, does this as well, but to be honest I’ve never had that problem with The Giver. Fortunately, there are other books in the series that will hopefully answer these questions.

Perhaps I am being a little too picky here, but I like my books to be a little more self-contained. Still, despite my one frustration, as mentioned before I do consider this a positive reading experience. I suspect that eventually I will go and read the other books in the series.

Rating: three and a half stars
Length: 270 pages
Source: Lewiston Public Library
TBR Pile: 144 books
Similar Books: Lois Lowry’s The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Messenger.
Other books I've read by this author: This is my first

xposted to bookish  and temporaryworlds 

Storm Glass

Author: Maria V. Snyder
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Glass, bk. 1
Related Series: Study (Poison Study, Magic Study & Fire Study) 
Rating, according to me: 2/5

My review of this book is basically that the main character, Opal, is annoying; she has no self confidence, has a tendency to make horrible decisions, and is a bit of a door mat. Maybe if Snyder had explained some of the reasons for this at the beginning I might have been able to accept them but right from the beginning Opal's thoughts and actions were making me think that she was not very bright. Personally I have no problem with the flawed hero bit but I think it's a bit over done in this book. If Opal's background and reasons for her lack of faith in herself were shared right from the beginning I might not have been as annoyed but they weren't and I was. I think even the author was getting annoyed with her at the end since Opal had a tendency to get tortured excessively and some times for very little reason. It felt like Snyder was just enjoying Opal's suffering; of course it could also have been a bid for sympathy, I'm not sure. Either way it felt overdone. I also thought that the plot was kind of jumpy, one second they're here fixing orbs, the next they're there chasing diamonds, and then they're looking over there for glass prisons. Overall I wasn't very impressed with this book but it still kept me entertained on the bus so I'm happy enough.