Becky’s Fifty-Second Book Review: “The Green Mile” by Stephen King

“The Green Mile” was a quick, but tough read for me. I think that Stephen King is a great author and after starting to read his book “On Writing” I felt an overwhelming urge to read some of his work. Since I peruse my personal library on a regular basis, I had already decided to read “The Green Mile” in the near future so the decision was easy. It was right next to the couch.

For those of you who have not seen the movie or read the book, “The Green Mile” is told by a former prison guard who worked on death row. They called it “The Green Mile” (hence the title). Paul Edgecomb is the narrator writing about his time working at the prison and more specifically, the year 1932, when John Coffey came to the mile. The story goes back and forth between present day where Paul is living at a retirement home and 1932 when he was working on the mile. Personally, I like the shifts in time—it keeps the story fresh and even when you’re dying to know what is going to happen in 1932 you are flashed forward to how Paul is reacting to this story that he is telling.

Paul works with a group of guys whom for the most part are decent people. The exception is Percy Wetmore. He is only employed at the prison because of his political connections and is really just complete scum. King does a great job at making you hate this character. The other guards that Paul works with are Brutus ‘Brutal’ Howell, Dean Stanton and Harry Terwilliger. They are all friends and all share a dislike for Percy.

What makes 1932 so special is John Coffey, a gentle giant tried and convicted in the rape and murder of two little girls. In addition to John Coffey, there are two other notable prisoners, Eduard ‘Del’ Delacroix and ‘Wild Bill’ Wharton. The difference between Coffey and the other two is that he is able to perform miracles. I don’t want to give too much away because it was a really good book and the movie was very well done as well (I actually saw the movie first because I didn’t know that it was a book). There is another rather important character, Mr.Jingles–a mouse.

The story is heart-wrenching and addictive. I really enjoy Stephen King’s writing style. While he is gruesome at times, he is also a very ‘real’ writer. I enjoy how his books combine the mysteries of his mind with the realities of the world. Would I recommend this book? Yes, but only to certain people. I know that not everyone appreciates King’s techniques and style…but if you are a King fan then you would enjoy this story immensely.

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Becky’s Fifty-First Book Review: “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier

I love to re-read certain books. I have several favorites that I find myself picking up off the shelf time after time. It doesn’t matter how many books are in my ‘to read’ pile. When I get a craving to read a certain book, I have to do just that. Some of the books that I like to read over and over again include: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith; Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte; Harry Potter 1-7 by J. K. Rowling; Remember Me, Twenties Girl, The Undomestic Goddess, & The Shopoholic Series by Sophie Kinsella. The book that I just finished is also on that list, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

The first time that I read Rebecca I had picked it up at the library because I wanted to read the book about me, my full name being Rebecca and all. I was a little disappointed that the character Rebecca wasn’t a reflection of my personality.

The next time that I picked up the book was for a summer reading assignment in high school. This was several years after the first time and I saw a lot of things in the book that I hadn’t seen before. I also discussed the book in class, so it was analyzed a lot.

Let’s get to reviewing the book, shall we? Rebecca is a gothic novel that is very well written. There were a lot of things that I noticed this time around that I found interesting. I found the novel to have many more levels this time around. Rebecca is the late wife of Max de Winter. This novel is narrated by Max de Winter’s new bride. She is a very insecure individual who is convinced that Max has not gotten over his wife’s death. Her insecurity reminded me a lot of, well…me. It is a little sad how well I was able to connect with her. This woman is telling the story from both the present (after the story) and the past which is where we learn all about the relationship between the narrator, Max de Winter and his late wife, Rebecca. I have to admit, even though I have read the book several times, I had forgotten the ending, at least part of it. I don’t want to give too much away because I believe Rebecca is a fantastic read.

Would I recommend this book? Most definitely, Daphne du Maurier is an excellent writer and the novel Rebecca reflects her best work. I think that it is a great rainy day read, it is a little too heavy to be a beach read. But the book is worth reading at least once, although I cannot help myself from reading it again and again.     

Becky’s Fiftieth Book Review: “The Doll: The Lost Short Stories” by Daphne du Maurier

It has taken me longer than usual to write this review. I finished reading “The Doll: The Lost Short Stories” by Daphne du Maurier. While I am a big fan of Daphne du Maurier, short stories tend to frustrate me. As soon as I would get into a story, it ended. Now what I found truly interesting about the collection of short stories was how bits and pieces from each of the stories found their way into Daphne du Maurier’s most famous piece, “Rebecca”. I probably would not have noticed all of the similarities if it wasn’t for the fact that I picked up “Rebecca” to read once I finished with “The Doll”.

The first short story “East Wind” takes place at an island. It involves a lot of beach and rocks as the background for the story which is similar to parts of Manderly in “Rebecca”. There is jealousy in “East Wind” and the story definitely had a gothic taste to it that du Maurier is so well known for.

The second short story is called “The Doll” where one of the main characters is named Rebecca. The way that she is described is very similar to the Rebecca featured in the novel under the same title.

All of the short stories featured in “The Doll” in one way or another reminded me of “Rebecca”. One of the short stories “The Happy Valley” is actually a place in Manderly in the novel “Rebecca”. I thought that was interesting.

I don’t want to break down each story individually, but I did think that this collection of short stories was worth a read. It was fun to see the different ideas that du Maurier put together. Besides the stories mentioned above, the rest of the titles are below.

“And Now to God the Father”
“A Difference of Temperament”

“Frustration”

“Piccadilly”

“Tame Cat”

“Mazie”

“Nothing Hurts for Long”

“Week-End”

“The Happy Valley”

“And His Letters Grew Colder”

“The Limpet”

The book was worth a read and I believe that many people would enjoy it. As I stated before, I am not a big fan of short stories. I would have liked to see more in the stories that she told and would have been quite content to read entire novels.

 

 

Becky’s Forty-Ninth Book Review: “Remarkable Creatures” by Tracy Chevalier

Tracy Chevalier is an artist. The way that she uses language in her novels is classic. I would not be surprised if people were still reading her books one hundred years from now. Chevalier brings a whole new level to historical fiction. Part of what makes her stand out is how well she is able to make characters come to life. When I read one of her novels I feel like I am reading something substantial. In fact, I refer to her works as my ‘dark chocolate’. It is so good that I need to savor it. That being said, I just finished reading “Remarkable Creatures” by Tracy Chevalier.

“Remarkable Creatures” follows two characters and the relationship that develops between them from their mutual attraction to fossil hunting. Mary Anning is a child when she meets Elizabeth Philpot and though the two are from different generations and different classes, they become close friends. The kind of friends that few every experience—the kind of friend that you can be with without talking about every little thing, the two are content to just be in each other’s company while hunting for fossils in the small town of Lyme, England.

Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot experience a fair amount of drama both individually and between the two of them. Chevalier takes events that would seem ordinary to the outsider and makes them important through making the reader attached to Mary and Elizabeth.

Most of the characters in “Remarkable Creatures” are based off of real people. Mary Anning was a real person who helped make some of the most important scientific discoveries of the nineteenth century. Elizabeth Philpot was also a real person. Also, the majority of the men that make appearances throughout the novel are based off of real people including Lieutenant Colonel Thomas James Birch and William Buckland. There is a different sort of thrill coming from reading a historical fiction. While you go into the novel knowing that not everything is true, the bones of the novel are. Chevalier provides a peek into the past with her extraordinary ability to tell stories.

Would I recommend this book? Most definitely, Chevalier is an exquisite author and I believe anyone who enjoys reading would find themselves absorbed by this novel. I have read most of her works and would recommend them all. To date, “The Virgin Blue” remains my favorite of her novels.

Becky’s Tenth Movie Review: “Apollo 13”

Apollo 13: How have I gone so long without seeing this movie? I mentioned to Adam that I would like to see it and he told me that the last time he saw it he was a little kid and he got sick in the theater. So he was up for giving it another chance.

 

I was fairly impressed. The movie came out awhile ago and some of the actors would not have been my first choices (Bill Paxton & Kevin Bacon [although Bacon kept his pants on in this film]), but things came together nicely and I enjoyed it. Tom Hanks is an amazing actor—one of my favorites actually. I was glad to see him in this film. I am always impressed with Ed Harris as well.

 

Before sitting down to watch the movie, I really did not know anything about the Apollo 13 mission. I knew the famous line “Houston, we have a problem”…but I didn’t know what had gone wrong and I didn’t know if Apollo 13 had returned home safely. It was kind of nice being ignorant in this area because it allowed me to keep guessing. I had tears in my eyes at the end. Some of the effects in the movie were rather awful, but I think that the movie is impressive for the time.

 

Would I recommend this movie? Yes, I was glad that I took the time to watch it and I’m kind of glad that I took so long. When I was younger I don’t think that I would have appreciated the movie as much, especially since it is on the longer side and I would have been bored. I’d give this movie four out of five stars.

Becky’s Forty-Eighth Book Review: “A Dance with Dragons” by George R. R. Martin

I look around the room and see stacks of books that I brought down from my library, all books that I have yet to read but really want to. I also have a fairly sizeable stack of books that I am borrowing from my parents which I need to read. Then there are the rest of the books that are in my library calling to me to read them. I just finished reading “A Dance with Dragons” by George R. R. Martin and I’m still so emotionally involved with it that I cannot fathom starting another book.

“A Dance with Dragons” is the fifth book in the Game of Thrones series. If you have read the series, then you are aware that the story is told by not one or two main characters, but a whole slew of them. As the story progressed, more and more characters became involved in telling their own stories and Martin found himself needing to break up his novels. This happened in the fourth book. Only half of the characters tell their stories, and so the fifth book “A Dance with Dragons” is actually part of the fourth book as well. I was a little frustrated at this because I had to keep going back to the third book to see what had happened since that is where the fifth book picks up for many of the characters. Eventually we hear more from the same characters who were featured in the fourth book (roughly half-way through the book).

Now with this series, I have become attached to several characters and have probably three favorites. In this book, one of my favorite characters is taken out of the picture. I don’t want to say any more because I don’t want to spoil it for those who have yet to read the series. But I partly blame this character’s death on my inability to pick up another book. I just want to know what is going to happen next and the problem is that the next book in the series has yet to be published. What’s a girl to do?

I have been very much so enjoying this series and I would recommend it to most people. Really the only down side is that Martin’s writing technique of having so many different characters tell the story can be a bit confusing at times. It isn’t a book that you can half pay attention to. A Game of Thrones commands attention and is a very worthwhile read. I cannot wait for the rest of the series to be released.