Thursday, July 21, 2011

From the Archives: Mini Reviews from May 2005 (part 3)

I began keeping a reading journal several years before I began blogging. I find it interesting to sift through my thoughts of books that I read back then. My reviews were often brief and contained little substance, but I thought it'd be fun to document them here on my blog as well as share them with you. Here are a few from May 2005:

A Time to Kill by John Grisham
Island Books, 1989 - Crime Fiction (S/T) - 515 pgs

When books are made into movies, there are several reasons I prefer reading a book before watching the movie. I first like to be able to soak in the words on the pages of a book, use my own colors and shades to paint the scenes in my mind’s eye. There is a freedom in that which is lost if I’ve seen the movie and the characters, setting and story are locked into their places. With a book, I am able to look into nooks and crannies that are often left out of the movies because of time constraints and even that which may put a movie going audience off. In some ways, my enjoyment of a movie based on a book is enhanced because I am privy to the little tidbits of background that just couldn’t be fit into the movie when I have read the book first. I like to see the differences and similarities and compare the two, always cognizant of the fact that both forms of media have their own strengths and weaknesses.

In the case of A Time to Kill, I saw the movie first—many years ago. It made an impact on me, being one of my favorite movies based on a John Grisham novel brought to the big screen. As I read about Jake Brigance, defense attorney, I couldn’t help but picture Matthew McConaughey; and Carl Lee Hailey, the father on trial for the murder of his daughter’s rapists, resembled and acted much like Samuel L. Jackson’s character in the movie. I found that a little off putting through the first half of the book because as I read, I was thinking of the movie.

Moving on to the book itself, A Time to Kill takes on the controversial issues of vigilante justice, racism, and on a lesser side, corruption. True to John Grisham’s author’s note at the beginning of the novel, I felt that the author rambled on at times. The book really picked up for me about 300 pages in. I thought that the argument of racism throughout the book was underplayed and as a result, it detracted from the gist of story, including taking some of the significance out of the reasoning behind the jury’s verdict. I did enjoy the book overall and plan to read more by Mr. Grisham in the future, however. My favorite parts of the book perhaps were Mr. Grisham’s descriptions of and looks into the lives of the ordinary town people throughout the novel. It added depth and complexity to the story, which helped bring it to life for me.

The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty
Hyperion, 2003 - Fiction, 291 pgs

The Center of Everything is about Evelyn Bucknow, a typical teenager growing up in Kansas during the 1980’s. The story begins when Evelyn is 9 years old and spans through her teen years up near her high school graduation. She is raised by her single mother and has a brother with special needs. She faces challenges that are very common for young people today and comes into her own with each new experience. The author Laura Moriarty’s novel is simple in its presentation, narrated by young Evelyn. Ms. Moriarty has created a true to life story that could be about anyone anywhere. I enjoyed reading The Center of Everything.

Misery by Stephen King
Signet, 1987 - Horror, 352 pgs

The popularity and hype of author Stephen King kept me away from his novels for many years, however, I finally decided that I would give him a try. A fellow booklover recommended her favorite, Misery, and so I decided to start with this one. I had seen the movie several years ago and enjoyed it, and so imagined it was a safe bet. Misery is the story of an insane fan who nurses her favorite author, Paul Sheldon, back to health, terrorizing and tormenting him as he is held prisoner in her Colorado home. Mr. King is a wonderful storyteller and I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. He kept the suspense up and the novel was at times heart wrenching and chilling.

Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think?

© 2011, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. I've read A Time to Kill, but don't remember much about my reaction, except that I liked it.

  2. I read both Misery and A Time to Kill AGES ago. In my foggy brain I liked them both, but only Misery held up at the theaters in my opinon. ATTK drove me looked like all the actors were slathered in baby oil.

  3. I read A Time to Kill after I saw the movie, wish I would have done it the other way around. I did enjoy both the book and the film. I read Misery and then saw the movie. I just loved Kathy Bates in the film and thought she did a great job with the character.

  4. I used to love to read John Grisham when I was younger and remember reading this book awhile back. I'm wondering if I ever watched the movie or not. Hmmm...

  5. I have read Misery and seen the movie. That one scene with the ankle was almost too much for me! I haven't read either of the others, but they sound pretty good. I often think I'd like to go back and read some older books instead of always reading the new stuff. There are tons of books out there that are worth a little perusal, you know?

  6. A Time to Kill was my first Grisham and I remember really liking it. I saw the movie after and enjoyed that too.

  7. Kathy - Honestly, I can't remember much about the book anymore either--or wouldn't have had I not written down my general impression of the book. It feels like so long ago when I read it.

    Sandy - LOL I don't remember that about the movie. Now I want to watch it just to see what you mean about the character's looking like they were slathered in baby oil.

    I believe I saw the movie Misery before I read the book, which is what, in part, inspired me to read the book. I couldn't picture the main character as anyone but Kathy Bates. She did such a good job.

    Kathleen - I agree! Kathy Bates was perfect for the role. I really do prefer reading the book before seeing the movie but it didn't happen in either case with these two books.

    Samantha - I really want to read Pelican Brief one day. It wasn't my favorite movie, but I remember thinking I might like the book.

    Heather - The ankle scene was definitely cringe worthy. Ouch!

    I have quite a few older books still in my TBR collection I always say I'll get to. I wish I had more time and energy to spend reading them. So much focus is put on new books--which is great--but there are so many older books worth reading too.

    Stacy - I've enjoyed most of the other movies made based on Grisham's books, but I confess I haven't been too excited about reading his other books. I've read one other of his books, which hasn't been made into a movie--but that's about it for me so far.


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