Posted in Book Recommendations, Book Reviews

Book Review: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: 4 1/2 Stars.

Born into a family of slaves, Frederick Douglass educated himself through sheer determination. His unconquered will to triumph over his circumstances makes his one of America’s best and most unlikely success stories. Douglass’ own account of his journey from slave to one of America’s great statesmen, writers, and orators is as fascinating as it is inspiring.

The book follows Douglass from his early years as a slave child, raised away from the brutality and ugly politics of Southern slavery, to his own encounters with sadistic masters, and his eventual escape to freedom. Although I was well aware of this facet of history, (I can’t count how many times I learned about the Civil War and Abolition in my high school history classes) this was still as horrifying and eye-opening as if I were completely ignorant to that time in America’s history. As disturbing and downright depressing as Douglass’ situation is at times, I still found myself empowered. Douglass exhibits such courage and intelligence despite his situation. It really makes you look at your own life and the things we take for granted.

One of the best aspects of this book, in my opinion, is that he wrote it himself. Despite the original controversy surrounding its publication back in 1845, today there is no doubt that Douglass not only taught himself to read and write in secret after his master forbid it, but he managed to write an extremely well-written book.

It’s fair to say this book kind of changed my life.

Have you read the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass? Let me know what you thought or if you think you’ll pick this one up.

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Posted in Book Recommendations

Break My Heart, Why Don’t You: Tear Inducing Reads

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You’ll want a box of tissues nearby for these books. As sad and horribly depressed as some of these stories made me, I can’t help but love them. Here are my current favorite books that made me cry.

1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

  • Whether you’re a fan of the classics or not, you can’t deny how tragically brilliant that ending was. That ending.

2. Falling Into You by Jasinda Wilder

  • Somehow Wilder had me crying before I even reached one hundred pages. All the feelings.

3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

  • Laugh all you want, but listening to Harry talk to all of his dead loved ones about being afraid to die broke my heart.

4. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

  • I won’t lie. I bawled at the epilogue. Okay, through the epilogue.

5. The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

  •  I really just want to give Mara a hug; her life is so hard.

6. Fade by Lisa McMann

  • Poor Janie. I cried for a solid chapter in there. I just…I can’t….Losing her sight and the use of her hands? She’s only 17!

7. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

  •  At least I know I’m not alone in this one. That funeral scene. I mean, really??

Do you have any favorite sad books? Have you read any of these? Let me know what you think!

Posted in Uncategorized

Reading Overload!

So I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately, and I’m usually a one book type of gal. When I start something, I finish it. Period. I don’t care how horrible the book or how painful it is to drag myself to the final page by my fingernails. I finish it. And I don’t start something new until I do.

And now I find myself in the middle of five books at once.

I’m curious to see if any of you out there are capable of reading more than one book at once (I mean, you’re all probably physically capable of it, but do you enjoy it? Do you prefer reading multiple stories at once?).

Suddenly I have a hundred characters and dozens of subplots and settings and themes all dancing in my head. Apparently, I am not a wizard multitasker like I thought I was. Why do this to myself you ask? Because there are a million books I want to read and not enough time to read them all, so, naturally, driving myself mad is the only option.

Tell me about your reading habits. Do you read multiple books at once? Give yourself breaks after you finish one before starting another? Are you one of those people who is always reading a book? And do you always finish a book, or set it aside if it’s just not doing it for you? Let me know in the comments!

Posted in Book Recommendations, Book Reviews

Book Review: Parallel by Lauren Miller

Parallel by Lauren Miller: 3 ½ stars

Abby Barnes had a plan. The Plan. She’d go to Northwestern, major in journalism, and land a job at a national newspaper, all before she turned twenty-two. But one tiny choice—taking a drama class her senior year of high school—changed all that. Now, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Abby is stuck on a Hollywood movie set, miles from where she wants to be, wishing she could rewind her life. The next morning, she’s in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. Overnight, it’s as if her past has been rewritten.

With the help of Caitlin, her science-savvy BFF, Abby discovers that this new reality is the result of a cosmic collision of parallel universes that has Abby living an alternate version of her life. And not only that: Abby’s life changes every time her parallel self makes a new choice. Meanwhile, her parallel is living out Abby’s senior year of high school and falling for someone Abby’s never even met.

As she struggles to navigate her ever-shifting existence, forced to live out the consequences of a path she didn’t choose, Abby must let go of the Plan and learn to focus on the present, without losing sight of who she is, the boy who might just be her soul mate, and the destiny that’s finally within reach.

I went into Parallel thinking there would be high supernatural elements, the main focus on Parallel Abby and how that worked. Though we do get some great scenes with Dr. Mann explaining cosmic entanglement and the concept of shared reality (which turned out to be extremely interesting. Honestly, I’m glad I read the book just to learn more about this.) But after that, the book turns into a very high school esque cliché.

I understand the romance is supposed to be sweet and the reader is supposed to feel sympathetic for Abby’s confusion and panic over her life constantly flip-flopping so randomly, but I wasn’t impressed with the execution of such an interesting story.

The beginning was interesting enough to keep me hooked, but around page 80 I started slogging, reading a few pages, and setting the book down for days at a time. After you hit the half-point, the pace picks up and it’s interesting until the end, but those hundred pages or so before that were pretty difficult to get through.

I did like Abby as our narrator. I think she was reasonably smart, interesting, and relatable. She wasn’t nearly as frustrating as many YA protagonists I’ve come across lately. The secondary characters are also entertaining, though Miller sort of side steps them so she can focus on Abby’s relationships in both the real world and the parallel one.

The book was extremely interesting, and the ending was satisfying. If you’re a patient reader, definitely give this one a try.

Parallel is available in hardcover, ebook, and paperback (UK only for paperback). Parallel is Lauren Miller’s debut novel, a standalone, and was published June 6th 2013 by Scholastic.

If you’ve read Parallel, share your thoughts in the comments, or let me know if you’re thinking about picking it up!