Book Review–The Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

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This is the 14th book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

The Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs
First Published November 30th, 1860

 

In what has become a landmark of American history and literature, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl recounts the incredible but true story of Harriet Jacobs, born a slave in North Carolina in 1813. Her tale gains its importance from her descriptions, in great and painful detail, of the sexual exploitation that daily haunted her life—and the life of every other black female slave.

As a child, Harriet Jacobs remained blissfully unaware that she was a slave until the deaths of both her mother and a benevolent mistress exposed her to a sexually predatory master, Dr. Flint. Determined to escape, she spends seven years hidden away in a garret in her grandmother’s house, three feet high at its tallest point, with almost no air or light, and with only glimpses of her children to sustain her courage. In the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, she finally wins her battle for freedom by escaping to the North in 1842.

A powerful, unflinching portrayal of the brutality of slave life, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl stands alongside Frederick Douglass’s classic autobiographies as one of the most significant slave narratives ever written.

 

 

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My fiance’ recommended this book and The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass to me a few years back and I just now got the chance to read them. While I enjoyed the one by Douglass, I liked this one even better because the writing was less dry and held my interest better.

I liked this edition because of all the notes and back history that came with it. It was fascinating and a bit shocking that many seemed to think this narrative was fiction and that Harriet Jacobs didn’t exist.

A clear look into what life was like for Harriet Jacobs as a female slave and her journey toward freedom. I am still astounded by all the things she went for and did not only for her own freedom, but for her children.

Definitely a recommended slave narrative.

 

 

4stars

 

jncname

The Book vs the Movie: Jaws

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jaws-title

Book written by Peter Benchley, 1973
Movie directed by Steven Spielberg, 1975

Jaws is one of my favorite movies of all times. I’ll try to be as non-biased as I can.

Synopsis from Goodreads.com:

It’s out there in the water…waiting. Nature’s most fearsome predator. The seaside community of Amity is at its mercy. A small-town police chief, a marine biologist, and a modern-day Ahab must try to stop it. But they are only three men…alone against the Great White Death.

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

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Picture Source: imdb.com

Picture Source: imdb.com

Which I Viewed First: The movie.

Which I Enjoyed Most: The movie.

Out of 5 stars, the Book Gets: 5 stars.

Out of 5 stars, the Movie Gets: 2 stars.

Things the Book Did Better: It’s been a while since I’ve read the book, but I can’t really think of anything except perhaps the description.

Things the Movie Did Better: Everything. The characters were way more likable, the ending was much better, and the story was more interesting to watch than to read.  The book came across as more dry and with very few likable characters–bad enough that I wanted the shark to win.

Verdict?: The movie.

Should the movie be re-made?: No!

What do you think? Agree, disagree? Would love to hear your thoughts!

jncname

Writing Tip: Writing Exercise #9: Using Body Language to Express Emotion

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Writing Exercise #9: Decide on a certain emotion for a character to feel (anger/sadness/joy/etc) and write a paragraph about it using body language.

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Here’s mine:

Narrowing my eyes, I face the wall, looking straight at the picture of my ex. Balling my hands into fists, I release a long stream of carbon dioxide, trying to calm myself down. Instead, I grit my teeth, unable to stop seeing red. That lying, cheating–and then I’m storming over to the picture. In one fluid motion I rip it from the wall and hurl it down to the floor, watching the glass shatter into a million pieces. Letting out a growl of rage, I lift my right foot and step right where his smug face is smiling at me.

 

I also found this great cheat sheet for emotions and body language!

 

 

jncname

Book Recommendation of the Week: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

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Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

This week’s book recommendation is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. If you’re looking for a brilliant, hilarious read, this is the right book for you. Extra points if you enjoy Sci-Fi. Very fun read! There’s more in the series if you enjoy this one, too.

Intrigued?

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.

 

 

jncname

What I’m Working On: April 2014

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Hey guys.

It’s been a rough week due to Brushie’s death, but I managed to finish the third part of Chalts. I’ve started on the fourth. I’m almost to 50K though so I know I’m going to have to trim this one down later on since I still have one more part after this. I did enter #NestPitch last week with Whispertown. I’ll keep you updated if anything happens with it. Besides that, there’s not much else to report. Hopefully next week will be more productive. Stay tuned for a slight visual change on the site. Nothing major, but little tweaks that I think will tie in the overall look of this site. Let me know what you think once I change it.

 

 

jncname

Book Review–1 Year, 100 Pounds: My Journey to a Better, Happier Life by Whitney Holcombe

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This is the 13th book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

1 Year, 100 Pounds: My Journey to a Better, Happier Life by Whitney Holcombe
Published December 24th 2013 by Simon Pulse/Beyond Words

 

Part cheerleader, part drill sergeant, Whitney Holcombe chronicles how to transition from the fat girl to being a healthy, confident young woman.

At age fourteen, Whitney Holcombe stepped onto her bathroom scale and a number glared up at her: 230. That number controlled her life until one day she went for a walk that changed everything.

A little bit memoir and a whole lot of advice, 1 Year, 100 Pounds follows Whitney’s journey to battle obesity, negative self-image, and peer ridicule. Through following a healthy diet and exercise routine, Whitney shed the pounds without pills, trainers, or surgery. And along the way, she discovered the confidence to love her body.

Reviewed by experts in the fields of diet, health, and fitness, with a foreword by Dr. Joseph Colella, a leading bariatric surgeon who endorses Whitney’s method of healthy weight loss over surgery, 1 Year, 100 Pounds is a personal guidebook packed with tips for making healthy food choices, easy exercises, and inspiration that empowers you to change your own life.

 

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I won a copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads Giveaway program. Many thanks to the publisher/author for giving me the chance to read and review this book from the Goodreads First Reads program.

While I am not the target audience for this book exactly–I am NOT a teenager–I have been working on my own weight loss/healthy journey since last year. And I do know what it is like to be an overweight teenager because I was one.

This book looked really promising, but it didn’t take long for the author to annoy me. I really tried to like it, but after the first few chapters, it was obvious that it wasn’t going to happen. Still, I tried to be optimistic as I continued on, but mostly I just wanted to hurl this book against the wall. Maybe it’s me. Maybe it’s her. All I know is that for the entire book, she grated on my nerves.

While what Whitney did was amazing, I found myself becoming annoyed with her attitude toward her audience. Which is basically ALL overweight people just sit around eating all day. Nothing could be further from the truth for me (and I’m not just saying this–even when I was an overweight teenager, I did not sit around all day stuffing myself and didn’t go back for seconds and thirds like she suggests I might). I’m willing to bet is the same for others. Just because you have personally done this does not mean every overweight person has/does. I would have been willing to overlook this assumption if it had only been mentioned once or twice, but it was mentioned so many times that it wore on my nerves.

Examples of the above straight from the book: Soon you were back to staring like a zombie at the TV. Back to devouring bags of Fritos and containers of fried rice.

Yeah, so maybe it wasn’t your fault that your mom made cheesy lasagna and apple cobbler way too often for dinner. But was anyone forcing you to down two or three helpings?

While I did think the resources and tips were helpful, the book did not inspire me at all. I get that sometimes you have to make a point (such as pointing out that the reader of the book is more than likely overweight) but it just felt like there was more negativity toward the reader’s failings rather than anything inspirational. Tough love is one thing but the constant griping about the reader being fat because they eat like a pig doesn’t seem to accomplish anything. Especially when assumptions are made–like having two to three helpings of dinner and dessert?

Maybe this book will help some teenagers. But for those with really low self-esteem and confidence, I worry that this book may be too much for them. This book wouldn’t have encouraged me as a teenager. I would recommend approaching this one with extreme caution. If you can’t take criticism, especially when it’s given over and over again, this book is probably not going to be helpful to you. If you do find that helpful, this book probably is right for you.

Was planning on giving this at least 2 stars since it did contain helpful information, but by the end I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

1star

 

 

jncname

The Book vs the Movie: Rain

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rain-title

Book written by V.C. Andrews (Andrew Neiderman), 2000
Movie directed by Craig DiBona, 2006

Rain is the 2nd V.C. Andrews novel that has been adapted into a movie.

Synopsis from Goodreads.com:

RAIN ALREADY KNOWS HOW HARD LIFE CAN BE. BUT SHE IS ABOUT TO DISCOVER A SHATTERING SECRET FROM THE PAST THAT WILL CHANGE HER FUTURE FOREVER….


Growing up in the ghettos of Washington, D.C., the cards are stacked against a hardworking dreamer like Rain Arnold. Rain has fought to be the best daughter she can: she studies hard and gets good grades; she helps her mother cook and clean. And unlike her defiant younger sister, she avoids the dangers of the city streets as if her life depends on it…and it does. But Rain can’t suppress the feeling that she has never truly fit in, that she is a stranger in her own world.


Then one fateful night, Rain overhears something she shouldn’t: a heartbreaking revelation from the past, a long-buried secret that is about to change her life in ways she never could have imagined. In the blink of an eye, everything Rain has ever known — the family she has loved and the familiar place she has called home is left behind, and Rain is sent to live with total strangers, the wealthy Hudson family. But just as she did not belong to the troubled world she was raised in, Rain is also out of place in this realm of luxury and privilege. With nowhere to turn, Rain finds an escape in the theater, inside the walls of an exclusive private school. But will it be enough to fulfill her heart’s deepest wish — and give her a place to call home?

Picture Source: vcandrews.wikia.com

Picture Source: vcandrews.wikia.com

VS

Picture Source: www.mrqe.com

Picture Source: http://www.mrqe.com

Which I Viewed First: The book.

Which I Enjoyed Most: The book.

Out of 5 stars, the Book Gets: 4 stars.

Out of 5 stars, the Movie Gets: 3 stars.

Things the Book Did Better: More character depth, enjoyed the original plot better.

Things the Movie Did Better: While the cast overall did a good job, several plot points were changed and didn’t come across as well as in the book. In the book, she was interested in acting; in the movie, she was into music.

Verdict?: The book.

Should the movie be re-made?: Nah.

What do you think? Agree, disagree? Would love to hear your thoughts!

jncname

Writing Tip: Writing Exercise #8: Writing About an Emotional Event (Letter to Brushie)

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Writing Exercise #8: On Monday, we lost one of our fur babies. Her name was Brushie and she was a very grumpy, albino hedgehog. She had been with us for over four years and was a valued member of our little family. It has been hard on us but I am finding it somewhat easier whenever I write about her. So for this exercise, I dare you to write about an event in your life that has been very emotional. It doesn’t have to be tragic. Just anything that you have deep inside and want to get off your chest. Don’t worry about style or grammar or spelling–focus on the emotions and thoughts you are feeling!

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In Memory of the Brush Hog

by J.N. Cahill

 

Dear Brushie,

I miss you so much. Especially at night. No crunching, sloshing of water, or huffing. Just pure silence. I think it kills Thomas, too. I still remember when we first got you. You were a grumpy but cute little thing. Before you left us, you still were a grumpy, cute little thing. Despite your constant grumpiness, we loved you. I miss so many things about you. Your cute little face. That little pink nose, sniffing away. The way your tongue would dart out. All the antics that made us laugh. Like eating pizza crusts, ranch dressing, and trying to tug a much larger pair of long johns for whatever reason. The way you would panic whenever you heard the water faucet turn on.

It’s hard to believe that you’re no longer here. I guess I thought you were invincible, that nothing would happen to you for a long, long time. Maybe it was the prickly quills that made me think that. When you got sick, we had no idea that death was even an option. We assumed you would take your medicine, rest, and be back to yourself in no time. If I had known, I would have done things differently.

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I feel guilty, Brush hog. When I had to come and get you to bring back home after work, I was slightly annoyed by it. I hated that you were hurting, but regardless there it was in the back of my mind. And then I saw how pitiful you were. Barely moving with bubbles occasionally coming from your nose. Oh how my heart softened. I kept reassuring you on the drive home, after you had your medicine. I smiled when you started sniffing around. When we got home, you huffed when I reached to take you out of the car. It seemed like the medicine was working. So I put you back in your box. Made sure you were comfortable and had food and water. Checked on you occasionally, but went ahead with my plans. Dinner. Watching TV. And then working out for a bit.

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If I had known, I would have kept you in my lap. I keep thinking that maybe if I had, you would still be there. It’s stupid, I know. The what-if game never helps. There was probably nothing I could have done to keep you living. We got you to the vet as soon as we could. We got you the medicine you needed. It just all happened so fast. Still, I wish I hadn’t went ahead with my plans. I wish I’d curled up with you. I wish I could have spent more time with you. But like I said, I believed you were invincible. That, like your quills, you would endure this.

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But as soon as I heard and realized you were crying in pain, I went right to you. It hurt so much to see you in pain. I had never seen you look like this. It was frightening. I did what I could, but still, I feel it wasn’t enough. I cried and held you and watched your breaths get slower and slower. I tried to be positive, to reassure you that it was okay. I don’t know if any of it helped. Please God let it have helped.

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Maybe that’s another reason I feel guilty–that I was there and Thomas was not. You were his girl. But he had to work late for taking you to the vet. I wish so much that he had been there. I wish he could have said goodbye. And I know in my heart, that even if I did comfort you, he would have been better at it. You loved him more. That’s okay. I understand. I’m sorry you only had second best. But know that I love you and am glad you are no longer in pain. I hope you had a happy life despite it all. No one will ever replace you.

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I’ll never forget the times you huffed at me. Or the way you used to lick your lips and sniff at the air. It breaks my heart that I will never hear Thomas use that baby voice he always used with you or the way he would bounce you on his palms to calm you down. I’ll miss the sight of you munching on pizza crusts, ranch dressing, and dried noodles. I’ll probably cry at the sight of an empty Toasted Rice cereal box. I might cry just looking at that cereal regardless. I’ll miss taking pictures of you. Of listening for you in the dark. I’ll even miss making sure that the temperature is warm enough for you and the carpet being wet after you knock over your water bowl. Lately you had been showing up unexpectedly. Like the time I was working out and you came into the room. Now I am glad that I paused long enough to scoop you up and talk to you. It’s all in the little moments.

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The last four years wouldn’t have been quite the same without you. I hope we were good parents and that you were happy. We will never forget you.

 

Rest in peace, Brushie.

 

Brushie Brushie Brushie. Grump. Brushie Girl. Grumpzilla. We’ll miss it all.

 

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jncname

Book Recommendation of the Week: The Selection by Kiera Cass

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Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

This week’s book recommendation is The Selection by Kiera Cass. There was a lot of online drama concerning this one, but I decided to read it anyway way after it had all died down. If you like princess stories or shows like The Bachelor, you’ll probably enjoy this one. It’s also that rags-to-possible-riches story that I’m not sure I can ever get tired of.

Intrigued?

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

 

 

 

jncname

Book Review–So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti

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First off–apologies for the lack of posts lately. It has been a very hectic week. Also, I met R.L. Stine this weekend. Which I will go into further detail about later. Minus participating in #NestPitch, I really don’t have any new updates so I will start tomorrow with my Meeting R.L. Stine post, then move onto Book Recommendation of the week and so forth for the remainder of the week.

 

This is the 12th book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti
Published May 3rd, 2011 by Viking Juvenile

 

When Brooke’s crush, Scott, moves from their suburban town to New York City, she decides to follow him there. Living with her formerly estranged dad and adapting to a new school are challenging, and things go from bad to worse when Brooke learns that Scott already has a girlfriend. But as she builds her new life, Brooke begins to discover a side of herself she never knew existed. And as she finds out, in the city that never sleeps, love can appear around any corner…

 

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At first, I wasn’t so sure if I was going to like this one or not. The main character, Brooke, basically moves to another city to be closer to her crush once she discovers he’s moving. That itself seemed like a stretch because while I remember how deep-rooted my high school crushes were, I would have never moved for one.

The plot and character development got much better once she moved. I loved the scenery of New York–it made me experience it in a new way. Usually fiction tends to paint New York negatively, but this book focused on the beautiful aspects of it. I also loved the Out of the Box class Brooke gets to attend and wish I’d had such a cool class back in my school.

Brooke was a somewhat difficult character to like, but once she began to settle into her new life, I found myself liking her more and more. I wasn’t so crazy about her love interest, though her relationship with him later on reminds me of a relationship I once had and helped me to really be able to sympathize with her.

I loved Brooke’s friends, Sadie and John. Especially John, and I knew his “secret” about Brooke the entire time. It was pretty obvious. I also like how things went between the two of them toward the end. Made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Starts off as a lighthearted, fluffy read about love but ends up being more complicated than that. Really good read. And if you’re a fan of The Office or Office Space, you’ll love the references. Great read about following your heart.

 

4stars

 

 

jncname

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