Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

justmercyJust Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption is a well-written non-fiction book written by Bryan Stevenson. The story follows Bryan Stevenson, who is an attorney, as he works with clients on death row or who have been sentenced to life in prison as a teenager.

The book contains many stories about the various people that Stevenson has worked with. Stevenson does a great job making this about the people themselves and how the circumstances in their lives lead to them being arrested. While some of the people he worked with were wrongly convicted; others were not. For those, he does not excuse their choices or behaviors that landed them in jail; he simply helps to humanize them and show us that the issue of death row or life in prison is not as black-and-white as we may believe it to be.

So, if you enjoy non-fiction and have the emotional strength to read such a sensitive and sad topic, I highly recommend this book. (This book was required reading for a class I was taking; otherwise I would not have read it.) It will be added to my non-fiction “favorites” list.

Echoes of Fate by Philip C. Quaintrell

Echoes of Fate.jpgEchoes of Fate, a book series by Philip C. Quaintrell, is a very engrossing story. At first I wasn’t sure I would like it because the story follows many different lead characters, all with weird sounding names. I didn’t think I would be able to follow the many different story lines. However, it was not long before the stories intertwined, making it easier and much more enjoyable to follow.

My favorite aspect about this story is the path for redemption that two of the characters – Asher, the main character, and Galanor – are on. Each of these characters has had a tumultuous past. Whereas Asher has already turned from his old life as an assassin when you first meet him, Galanor is conflicted between duty, which calls him to perform unsavory actions, and his desire to be a good person. While you get to see Galanor in the before-and-after stages of his path to redemption, you meet Asher after he has turned away from the life of an assassin. However, trusting and friendship are two things foreign to Asher, and it is fun to watch his relationship with the characters develop as he struggles to live life as a better person while carrying the guilt of his past life.

Due to the content of this series, I would say it is rated R. There is intermittent use of the F-word and some fairly graphic violence (at least by my standards). However, it is the scenes in which the Darkakin torture/rape the queen of the elves that is primarily responsible for my rating the book as R. It is hard to describe these scenes; they are not graphic but there is enough description and allusions to what is going on that it is bothersome. While this did not stop me from reading the book (as you can easily skip those scenes), it does make me hesitant to recommend it to anyone but a mature audience.

Note: I continued reading the book despite the scenes with the Darkakin because I am enjoying (I’m on the last book) the path to redemption of Asher and Galanor. I also enjoy the internal struggle of the other characters who, after experiencing horrendous torture or loss, fight to retain their virtues and moral beliefs. The characters in this book experience very real, human emotions. You see them struggle to be the people they want to be despite the torture they’ve experienced or the losses they have endured. For that reason alone, the book is worth reading as you see that no matter how horrible life can get, you should always strive to be the better person, even if you don’t always succeed.

P.S. I will be adding this to my favorite books for adults.