Gray Mountain by John Grisham

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Gray Mountain 

By John Grisham

published by Doubleday


I borrowed a copy of this book from my local library.

My Review

If you read this blog, you know that I am a pretty big fan of John Grisham and I think I have read almost every single one of his books- Calico Joe being the exception.  I know after a while  they can seem a little predictable and formulaic, but I still love them.  So I was really looking forward to his latest, Gray Mountain.  The beginning was great, especially the imagined bloodbath that occurred when the “you know what” hit the fan in 2008, and so many lost their jobs.  We meet Samantha, three years out of law school and racking up massive billing hours in the real estate department of one of the biggest law firms in the country.  When she is laid off, the firm gives her the option of doing pro bono work in a not for profit in the sour in return for keeping her benefits and her seniority if they can rehire her.  I found this part a little strange-what person only three years out of law school can work for free for a whole year?  Anyway, she goes to work in Appalachia at a legal aid clinic.  This part I loved, since Grisham has such a great touch with his secondary characters- especially southern ones.  I almost wish the story had just concentrated on the work Samantha does at the clinic, but it veered into typical Grisham territory with the little guy versus Big Coal.  While I definitely learned a good deal about the absolutely awful things cola companies are doing everyday without punishment, I just wish it didn’t take over the story.  A good book, but not his best.  Give me The Pelican Brief any day.


The year is 2008 and Samantha Kofer’s career at a huge Wall Street law firm is on the fast track—until the recession hits and she gets downsized, furloughed, escorted out of the building. Samantha, though, is one of the “lucky” associates. She’s offered an opportunity to work at a legal aid clinic for one year without pay, after which there would be a slim chance that she’d get her old job back.

In a matter of days Samantha moves from Manhattan to Brady, Virginia, population 2,200, in the heart of Appalachia, a part of the world she has only read about. Mattie Wyatt, lifelong Brady resident and head of the town’s legal aid clinic, is there to teach her how to “help real people with real problems.” For the first time in her career, Samantha prepares a lawsuit, sees the inside of an actual courtroom, gets scolded by a judge, and receives threats from locals who aren’t so thrilled to have a big-city lawyer in town. And she learns that Brady, like most small towns, harbors some big secrets.

Her new job takes Samantha into the murky and dangerous world of coal mining, where laws are often broken, rules are ignored, regulations are flouted, communities are divided, and the land itself is under attack from Big Coal. Violence is always just around the corner, and within weeks Samantha finds herself engulfed in litigation that turns deadly.

My “Gateway” Books- a Top Ten list




Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke & the Bookish. It’s awesome. Every Tuesday, the lovely ladies over there give us book bloggers wonderful and fun topics to create our lists! Check out what others have posted by going over there!

This week’s topic is-

Top Ten “Gateway Books/Authors”

(maybe a book that got me into reading, or into a certain genre)

1.  Nancy Drew  – First Series

I still have my copies from when I was a little girl, though I am pretty miffed that I seem to be missing a few.  Namely #18 and #22.  I’m not naming any names, but I am pretty sure the middle sister absconded with them just to piss me off.

2.  John Grisham- Crime Thillers

I know that many of you haven’t gotten into Grisham, but for me he is an author who always provides an entertaining read.  I loved The Firm-hated Tom Cruise as Mitch McDeere, though Matthew McConaughey can play Jake Brigance any day for me!


3.  The Lord of the Rings-Fantasy

I had never read any fantasy, and one day soon after we were married my husband came home with a book for me-The Hobbit.  Now, as cool as getting a book is, this was a little strange for hubby-he had NEVER bought me a book before (or read any I suggested to bought for him).  SO this was a first.

Well, I took that bad boy down in two days, and then he ordered The Lord of the REings for me.  I was hooked!  I even went out and bought The Silmarillion for myself and read that too.  I try to do a reread every few years.  As a matter of fact, I think I am due.

4.  The Year of Magical Thinking and The Lost Dogs:MichaelVick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption-Non Fiction

I have stated before on this blog how much these two books meant to me-and more so because they were the first non-fiction books that really drew me in.

5.  Stephen King- Horror/Paranormal

I have already said that a- I am the BIGGEST baby and never wanted to read horror, and b- I read The Shining last October and fell in love with King’s work.  I actually feel stupid labeling King as Horror, since so many of his books aren’t really scary.  I just finished reading The Green Mile last night- perfect example of a King book that isn’t scary.  The Shining, on the other hand, scared the crap out of me!

Seriously, I am really loving discovering this wonderful author, but part of me is cursing him because I am staying up way too late reading.


Sycamore Row



Sycamore Row

by John Grisham

published by Doubleday



Seth Hubbard is a wealthy man dying of lung cancer. He trusts no one. Before he hangs himself from a sycamore tree, Hubbard leaves a new, handwritten, will. It is an act that drags his adult children, his black maid, and Jake into a conflict as riveting and dramatic as the murder trial that made Brigance one of Ford County’s most notorious citizens, just three years earlier.
The second will raises far more questions than it answers. Why would Hubbard leave nearly all of his fortune to his maid? Had chemotherapy and painkillers affected his ability to think clearly? And what does it all have to do with a piece of land once known as Sycamore Row? (Goodreads)

My Review

I admit to having a soft spot for John Grisham novels.  It started when I entered college and didn’t really have a lot of time to read for pleasure.  Grisham’s books were easy reads, yet interesting and fun.  I think I have read almost everything he has written, with the exception go Calico Joe.  That being said, I was very excited when I heard he was writing a sequel to one of my favs, A Time to Kill.  I loved that book, and it doesn’t hurt that I think of Matthew McConaughey whenever I think of Jake Brigance.  Sycamore Row picks up with Jake and all the original characters three years after the Hailey trial.  Jake become involved in the trial to challenge a handwritten will of a white man who killed himself, and left almost everything to his black housekeeper.  It might seem at times that Grisham follows a formula to write his courtroom dramas, but this is a fun, captivating, fast read.  If you enjoy legal dramas, and a look into sour country’s complex race relations, I word definitely recommend this book!

My Rating

4 out of 5 stars

Top Ten Books on my Winter TBR Pile



Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke & the Bookish.  It’s awesome. Every Tuesday, the lovely ladies over there give us book bloggers wonderful and fun topics to create our lists!  Check out what others have posted by going over there!

WOW- What a day!  Both kids are home because of the snow in NJ_ can you believe we are using a snow day already??

Aside from the fact that I was already up (my son too) by the time they actually called and cancelled, it’s been a pretty cool morning.  I sat in my reading chair with a cozy blanket as the snow began falling before 7 am, and read for two hours.  I started The Bone Season yesterday and cannot wait to finish!

I have been very slow to post/review lately, but I have been lucky enough to be reading lots!  Here is a list of what I hope to read over the winter.  I don’t know about you, but I tend to choose a little deeper reading in the winter months, mixed in with some fun stuff for a change of pace.  I am still planning to join up with The Classics Club…yeah yeah I know I keep saying it, but I really am!  So here are some lighter things (and 1-2 not so light) to pull me through the dreary months ahead.

1.  The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu

I heard this was a good book, and now has a sequel, so it’s on the list.

2.  Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

This has been on my TBR for a while now, and I found that I read a good amount of the books I listed for my Fall TBR post, so maybe I will finally get to it!

3.  After Her by Joyce Maynard

4.  Sycamore Row by John Grisham

I have been waiting for this through my library for almost a month.

5.  The Dark Witch by Nora Roberts

a little lighter for the in betweens

6.  What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarity

I am loving this author.  Her book The Husband’s Secret was great and I have heard this is just as good!

7.  The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison

I have seen some great review- looks like a fun book- maybe after skiing?

8-14.  Harry Potter Reread!!

I am inspired by Leah at Books Speak Volumes– she had such a great time doing her reread, and I want to do another also!

I usually find lots of time to read in the winter, and eat, now that I think about it.

What about you?  What are you hoping to read?

Please leave a comment-I love to hear from you!

A to Z Survey



This is a little fun survey created by Jamie over at The Perpetual Page Turner.  I have wanted to do it for a few weeks, and finally decided to go for it!!

Author you’ve read the most books from:

John Grisham – started reading him when The Firm first came out.

Best Sequel Ever:

Hmmmm…this is a bit difficult for me-but I will sayThe Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson.

Currently Reading:

Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield

Drink of Choice While Reading:

Water.  When it’s later, maybe a glass of chardonnay, but I do most of my reading before dark.

E-reader or Physical Book?

Physical book 85% and E-Reader maybe 15%- I borrow my daughter’s kindle when I really want a book from Net Galley, but otherwise I prefer a real book.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

Sirius Black in High School- later, I would want a Mr. Darcy definitely.  Actually, my husband is a little like that, now that I think of it…

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

The Book Thief

Hidden Gem Book:

The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski

Important Moment in your Reading Life:

When, for the umpteenth time, I picked up a book from the library, only to read a chapter or so and realized I had already read it.  That’s when I decided to start keeping track of all the books I read-and stretching those writing muscles- by writing reviews.  Hence, this blog.

Just Finished:

The Never List by Koethi Zan

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

I usually do not read heavy romance.  I like a light, beachy read, but straight romance is not my thing,

Longest Book You’ve Read:

Gone with the Wind– over 1,000 pages

Major book hangover because of:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-I think I actually turned right back to the front and read it again.

Number of Bookcases You Own:

4-two upstairs and two in the basement, but one of those actually has mostly kid’s books.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

Pride & Prejudice

Preferred Place To Read:

on my deck

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

“He’d have been glad to witness her kissing his his dusty, bomb hit lips.  Yes, I know it.  In the darkness of my dark-beating heart, I know.  He’d have loved it, all right.  You see?  Even death has a heart.”

from The Book Thief by Mark Zusak

Reading Regret:

I have never read a Stephen King book.  I will change that.

Series You Started And Need To Finish(all books are out in series):

I started The Game of Thrones series- but came up against a wall with the 5th book.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

Pride & Pejudice, The Book Thief, The Lord of The Rings.

Unapologetic Fangirl For:

Harry Potter-though i am horrified to say that I have been unable to get my mother OR my husband (non-reader) to read any of them.

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

Sycamore Row by John Grisham- going back to Jack Brigance from A Time to Kill-always picture Matthew McConaughey!

Worst Bookish Habit:

I am-cringe-guilty of dog-earing books I own-but only whenI love a passage and want to be able to find it again-never to mark my place.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind.

Your latest book purchase:

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty-the She Reads Book Club September selection

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

The Bones of Paris by Laurie R. King- a great mystery.