The Green Mile by Stephen King

This was my very first Stephen King book. I may love horror films, but horror novels are not really my cup of tea. I never get as scared as I should, so the novel never hits home. Hence, I’ve never picked up a King novel, until now.  The Green Mile was made into a film in 1999 and nominated for 4 Oscars. It has been on my movie list for a while, yet I wanted to read the novel first.

The novel is about a guards who serve on a Southern death row called “Green Mile” because the linoleum is lime green. These guards are in charge of individual’s execution by “Old Sparky.” The novel starts with a black man coming onto the death row for the murder and rape of twin 10 year old girls. John Coffey is a large African American man who is kind, with a sweet temperament, and has a special power. The whole novel discusses the life on the mile, and explores the guards and their inmates as people with hearts (and in some cases, without hearts).

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel since it was straight and to the point, stylistically. Moreover, the general themes of the novel hit home for any person. Execution is obviously one of the topics that is presented for thoughts and opinions of the reader. This is especially presented when “Del” is electrocuted and there happens to be a huge mishap that happens, in which Del is essentially burned alive. Another topic that I found was the general rule of thumb: “doing the right things.” Paul, Brutal, Dean, and Harry find that John has a special power to cure illnesses, so they spring John to help their boss’ wife (Read the book for more information). They also come to find that John couldn’t have killed those twin girls, so how do they in good conscious kill him? How can you execute an innocent man? These are topics to discuss with your inner self; what would you do if you were in their shoes?

So, I have to be honest in my analysis. My favorite character in the novel is Mr. Jingles, the mouse. For a character that doesn’t say a single word, but only portrays themes through actions,  his symbolism in the novel is probably the greatest part of the book. He is at the beginning, the middle, and the end of the novel and is one of John Coffey’s examples of his gifts. He also is quite comical and I love King’s sections when he is brought into the action. He makes the book!!!

All in all, I read this 538 page novel in 4 days, so if that doesn’t tell you how good it is, I’m not sure what is. It’s captivating, hopeful, and well-written, all aspects to a good read. Plus, it’s not too scary, but thrilling. Go pick it up!

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Fairest of Them All by Carolyn Turgeon

After reading the rather serious novel Cider House Rules by John Iriving, I was in the mood for something a little more lighthearted and a “fast read.” Thus, I turned to a book that I had in my bookcase for a while, just have never started since it’s by an author I am unfamiliar with. I’m always very cautious in starting an author who I’ve never read for if I start a book and don’t like it, I still read it. HA!

Fairy tales are something that I always turn to make me happy. There’s a way that fairy tales make you feel young again, similar to a child hearing the story for the first time. The Fairest of Them All is a story about Rapunzel and her story from childhood to adulthood. Turgeon provides a very interesting take on Rapunzel’s fairy tale and mix it with Snow White.

Rapunzel grew up with Mother Gothel in a Tower outside of the Palace in a forest. The story began with Gothel sharing all of her witchcraft skill with Rapunzel, thus Rapunzel is a witch. One day, a Prince showed up at their forest hideout and fell in love with Rapunzel. He returned to his palace to marry a princess from the East and together they had a child named Snow White. In a few years, the king dies and the prince and princess become King and Queen. Thus, Gothel has the Queen poisoned so that the king will be free to marry Rapunzel making Rapunzel Snow White’s stepmother. Read the book, if you want the end of the story!

The book took me 36 hours to read, so it’s a very easy read. The characters, while usual for the fairy tales, Turgeon is a gifted storyteller that puts an interesting twist on a traditional story. I will be honest and was not expecting Rapunzel and Snow White to be in the same story, let alone Rapunzel being Snow White’s stepmother. There were no seven dwarfs though, so sad!

All together I enjoyed the book, and while it was not something to rave about, it satisfied my reading thirst for a light read. I haven’t read a lot of sci-fi/magical books recently, so this was a good change of pace for me. And would be for you too. The best part: it was 66% off at Barnes & Noble. WIN!

 

Grace & Frankie: Season 2 on Netflix

I am not a huge TV comedy fan (excluding the Simpsons). I tend more to enjoy dramas or sci-fi TV series, so it’s a bit of an anomaly that I enjoyed Grace and Frankie so much in its second season. To recap: Grace was married to Robert and Frankie was married to Saul for almost 40 years. Robert was having an affair with Saul and they both divorced their wives, only to leave them as roommates. That was the first season in a nutshell. The second season took this general plot-line to the next level and built upon the relationship between Grace and Frankie.

I enjoyed this season for instead of relying on the relationships that Grace and Frankie had with their former husbands, the show focused more on the pasts of the main female characters. Frankie has no sense of business, yet spends a few episodes discussing the promotion of her all-natural lube. Yes, I just typed lube. Grace, on the other hand, is establishing a new relationship with a former suitor, Phil. Phil has a wife who is suffering from end-stage Alzheimers. Unfortunately, the relationship does not go any where for Grace learns she can’t mess around with a married man, especially when she has met his wife.

My favorite  character in the season was Babe, an old hippy friend of both Grace and Frankie. Babe makes Frankie look like a staunch conservative in comparison. Her return is due to her cancer returning and her refusal to seek treatment. Instead, Babe asks Frankie to assist with her suicide. Babe’s dialogue is very intriguing and absolutely hilarious, and in that she was a great asset to the show. In addition though, her story concerning suicide delved into the matters that older people have to consider as they age. It also established both main female cast members as real people with real feelings, which has increased the legitimacy of the series.

The last episode of season 2 is HILARIOUS! We are left at a quasi-cliffhanger of Grace and Frankie going into business with each other. I will leave the secret of the business to those who watch the show, for it’s a good one! If you are in need of a laugh, and in the mood to forecast what getting older may perhaps hold for you, I would suggest watching the series. Episodes are only 30 minutes so to get through a 13 episode season does not take that much time. Watch it!

New Haven, CT

Washington, DC has been my home for the past 4.5 years. It was exceptionally rocky since graduate school is, well, rocky. During those years, I have done quite a few of the touristy things in DC. Lets get real though, how many times can one person see the monuments? Alternatively, I have done quite a few more non-touristy things. I would recommend the Kennedy Center for any show (ballet, musical, etc.).

So, DC was great, but I’ve moved on. For how much I loved the city, it has so many bad memories for me, I was happy to leave it far behind. I literally honked and waved as we got on the freeway on the road to New Haven, CT.

New Haven is quite the city. If you don’t know, it’s the home for Yale University. And that’s kind of the only reason to visit. There’s different sections of the university: medical campus, old campus, and science campus to name a few. Most people’s personal favorite is the old campus. Old campus is a few blocks and contains all of the colleges that most (if not all) Yale undergraduates live in. These buildings are old, like centuries old. There is one college, in particular, that the builders cracked windows in the shape of a “Y.” Literally, they cracked Y’s into the windows. My personal favorite is Sterling Memorial Library. The stained glass windows, the huge reading room, the large entryway hall, all are amazing to see.

Other than the university, it’s an interesting New England city. Safety is a large problem. The city does not have the safest track record. I have been told not to walk the streets at night, always take the Yale Shuttle, and don’t walk anywhere but close to campus. These are serious concerns of New Haven downtown. As you travel outside of New Haven downtown there’s quite cute neighborhoods of older houses. Very sweet. Then again, there are pockets of cute neighborhoods that are kind of “icky.”

I will comment that there’s a lovely Sailors and Soldiers Memorial that sits on a bluff overlooking all of New Haven. It’s so high up that, on a clear day, you can see Long Island across the Long Island sound. The view is spectacular! I would highly recommend this sight. New Haven, you better treat me well (especially in the winter)!

The Cider House Rules: John Irving

John Irving is a prolific author who has written some of the greatest literary works of the 20th Century. I thoroughly loved his A Prayer for Owen Meany. It was a terrific work, extremely heartwarming story, even though it was a bit long in the tooth. Recently, I was looking for a novel that I could take on my moving trip that was long and would keep me enthralled. I couldn’t put my first Irving book down, so I figured I might as well try another of his works.

I knew of The Cider House Rules from its Oscar night when Irving himself won for Best Screenplay. The novel is about an orphanage run by Dr. Larch. He establishes it in Maine after returning from WWI. He and his two nurses not only run the orphanage (boys and girls, separated), but also a secret abortion clinic. Women show  to St. Clouds to deliver their baby and leave him/her at the orphanage. Alternatively, women show to undergo an abortion.

In addition to Dr. Larch and St. Clouds, the other main character was Homer Wells, an orphan who was adopted a plethora of times, but always returned to St. Clouds. Homer grew up under Dr. Larch’s tutelage as an obstetrician. He was Dr. Larch’s protege until he refused to abortions. Thus, Homer moved away with a couple, Wally and Candy, who was similar to age as him, and assisted Wally with his apple orchard. The Cider House was the building (if you could call it that) where the transient workers would stay during apple picking season. The Cider House Rules are those rules that Wally’s family posts in the house: don’t drink too much and don’t drink then climb on the roof, as some examples.

I think it’s interesting that Irving named this book after the cider house rules, since they played a large role, but I don’t think they played a HUGE role in the novel as a whole. If anything I think one of the most pivotal themes is the morality of human life and deception. Homer and Candy sleep together while Wally is fighting in WWII and is thought to be dead over Burma. Candy has the baby at St. Clouds and Homer “adopts” him as his son, calling him Angel. Candy and Homer deceived their family, except at St. Clouds, regarding Angel Homer’s adopted, but biological son. Alternatively, Dr. Larch has spent decades covering up the death of Fuzzy Stone, while he has “written” correspondence from him as a Harvard medical student who wants to be an obstetrician. These are only two HUGE lies that consume the novel. All I can read into it is: Irving was commenting about the depravity of humanity.

Overall, I really enjoyed the novel. There were only a few drawbacks that I could identify. The first is Irving’s style is fairly descriptive and tedious. What could be said in a sentence, Irving says in a paragraph. He sometimes gets on tangents that have nothing to do with the main theme of the chapter. While its annoying and tedious to read through, it is Irving’s writing style and you can’t fault him for that. The other drawback was Irving’s description of gruesome actions. For example, there’s this picture that causes Homer Wells and Melony see in an abandoned room. It’s of a girl and a horse (I will leave the rest to your imagination). Quite frankly, Irving’s description is disgusting and too much (beyond X-rated). It’s very difficult to read these things and take them in. I didn’t enjoy it, and it for sure is not appropriate for children.

I cannot recommend this book enough, but one must take care of some of its written prose.I cannot wait to watch the film, to see how comparable it is to the novel. For now, the book is excellent and well-worth your time.

How to Get Away with Murder: Season 2 on Netflix

When I started the second season of How to Get Away with Murder I thought to myself: “Ok, how are the writers going to make season two even close to as suspenseful as season one?” Season one had a personal feel to it for Annalise’s husband, Sam, was the one who died by her law students. Surprisingly, the writers did meet my expectations on keeping the show fast-paced, viewers on their toes, and the risque-nature of the show.

The first episode of the second season begins with the murder of two parents of an adopted son and daughter, both of which were on trial for the murder of their parents. Annalise becomes their defending attorney, along with her team, to represent the two children (they aren’t children, actually fully-functioning adults). Similar to the first season, the second season starts in an anti-chronological order, in which Annalise is shot. Throughout the season the viewer is introduced to the plot sequence that caused Annalise to be shot in a backwards manner. It’s a very interesting way of telling a story. I wasn’t a huge fan of the method the first season, but it went really well for telling the second season’s story.

Characters from the first season were also present in the second for the seasons occurred exactly back to back so all people kept their role. The students: Wes, Laurel, Michaela, Asher, and Connor were all wonderful in this season. I’m really happy that the producers brought Connor’s boyfriend, Oliver, into more shows, because he is very talented and a shining light in the show. As always, Annalise’s confidants, Frank and Bonnie, were a huge part of the season and we got to find out more about their pas; how they operate as a unit, and how they always have Annalise’s back is fully discussed.

The one plot line that really was very enticing during the new season was discussing Wes’ past and how his mother committed suicide. All we knew in season one was that Wes’ mother did commit suicide. The second season discussed that Annalise played an integral part in her suicide and Wes’ progress into law school. The whole storyline was very interesting and was left at a huge cliffhanger. YAY!

All in all, this show is a masterpiece and incredibly unique. However, I think the only way to watch it is to stream it so you catch multiple shows at once. The show leaves you at the edge of your seat, it’s really hard to stop watching it!!

Salem: Season 2 on Netflix

I thoroughly enjoyed the intrigue of Salem Season One a year ago when it was released onto Netflix. All of the actors were terrific and the plot lines were cutting edge while keeping with the traditional story behind the Salem Witch Trials. Season 2 is just as good as Season 1, even more so at times with the addition of gifted cast members.

This season of Salem takes the traditional story of the Witch Trials and builds upon the establishment of witches in MA as well as the rest of the world. The amazing Lucy Lawless joins the cast as Countess Marburg, a witch from Germany who is incredibly evil and the only one to survive Increase Mather. She is spectacular and plays an evil enchantress amazingly. Stuart Townsend also became a cast member as Dr. Samuel Wainwright. Townsend played a critical role in the show as a scientist trying to undercover the reason for the plague on Salem. Both of these talented actors were incredible additions to the show and made the second season tremendous.

In addition to the above cast member additions, the returning cast members came back to Salem, and built upon their season one plot lines. John Alden and Mary Sibley are tremendous lead characters in the second season. Most importantly, they are supported by even more talented supporting cast of Tituba, Mercy Lewis, Anne Hale, and Cotton Mather. There’s a bit of love, a bit of blood and guts, and a ton of magic in this season. As I said, season one follows a traditional Salem Witch Trial plot line. The second season, however, adds more blood, more magic, and more sex. What a season!!

My last comment must be concerning my favorite aspect of the show: costumes! The costume designer made all of the stops for Countess Marburg. Her dresses were magnificent! All of the other characters, especially Mary Sibley, were incredibly ornate and wonderful to watch (at times better than the acting).

I would highly recommend watching this show, but start from Season one if you haven’t seen it. The second season will not make sense if you don’t watch the first season, so binge it all!!!