Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks

Well, as I wrote in my last post (a LONG time ago...) I don't always enjoy Nicholas Sparks. Too mushy, unrealistic-fairytailish for me at times. Don't get me wrong - I fit into the category of the stereotypical girl that loves The Notebook and A Walk to Remember AND Dear John. And though this book isn't necessarily worthy of The Notebook status, I loved this story as well.

The two main characters are Miles Ryan and Sarah Andrews. They both share a common ground in that love has in a way betrayed them. Miles lost his wife, his high school sweetheart Missy, in a terrible hit and run accident (don't worry this doesn't give anything away-it's thrown out there in the first few pages of the book). As deputy sheriff, Miles holds himself accountable for not being able to bring his wife's killer to justice. Sarah on the other hand has moved to the sleepy town of New Bern, North Carolina after a devastating divorce. Though the reason behind her divorce may not seem as tragic as Miles' loss at first, readers learn about the heartbreaking details as the story unfolds and how she fears this will jeopardize her relationship with Miles.

Obviously, this is Nicholas Sparks we're talking about. You know right off the bat that Miles and Sarah fall in love. No question there. They are brought together by Miles' son Jonah, whom Sarah teaches in the 2nd grade and offers to help after school in an effort to help raise his terribly suffering grades. Understandably, Jonah's grades began to suffer after his mother was killed. Unlike his other teachers, "Miss Andrews" is unwilling to let him slide on through because she feels bad for the situation. After all, that wouldn't be helping him- and there wouldn't be a clean cut way to bring Miles and Sarah together!

Right away, it becomes clear that Sarah and Miles are meant to be in each other's lives. She helps him face the demons of not knowing the true details of his wife's death while he helps her feel whole again. However, every couple of chapters is from the perspective of Missy's killer. The reader becomes aware not only of the fact that he's still in New Bern, but that he's very much involved in both Miles and Sarah's lives and living with the tremendous guilt of taking a life.

So the first half of the book is mainly spent developing the love story of Miles and Sarah while the second half of the book, the reader is left trying to figure out which character Missy's killer could possibly be. Was it a deliberate hit and run? Or a terribly unfortunate accident? And either way, how should justice be brought to the driver? And can Sarah and Miles' relationship survive the truth of what really happened the day Missy was killed?

I absolutely recommend this book for an easy, sweet read. Nicholas Sparks has an uncanny ability to make you feel like you really know the characters as well as their pain, joy, despair. I also love his descriptions of North Carolina. Just about all of his stories are set in North Carolina and the way he describes the sleepy towns, the people, the way of life-makes me miss Georgia. It really gives you a taste of the South.

 Hope you enjoy! I would love to read any comments if you've already read the book or hear what you think after you decide to read it :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

First Blog!

Well, as a new blogger, I'm not sure how to really start other than to say how this concept came to be. Yesterday, as my boyfriend Brian and guy friends were all surrounded by the TV watching football, I was curled up on the love seat finishing my latest Jodi Picoult novel, The Pact. Every now and then I'll be interested in football Sunday and will partake in the beer drinking and shouting (even though I know nothing at all about football and choose my favorite teams based on their colors or if they're based out of New Orleans- which I'm not even from), but I was on my last 80 pages and could not put the book down. By halftime, I had finished the book, suppressing my urge to cry at the end the whole time. Naturally, I went directly into my next book: Joe Hill's Heart Shaped Box. About 30 pages in, one of the guys asked, "MoMo is that another book? Did you just sit there and finish that other one?" My response was, "Yea, I knew I would finish so I brought another one," not really seeing why this was such a shock. Brian then put in his 2 cents by saying I should be a book editor as fast as I fly through books. And then, as it so often happens, I watched the lightbulb go off in his head. His eyes lit up. His mouth dropped open, and he said, "Holy shit why don't you actually do that? Not a real editor or anything but start a blog. Just write about the books you read." And so the concept was born. 
Everyone who's ever known me has known I love to read. If I don't physically have a book or my Nook on my person, I can tell you which book I'm reading or am about to start reading. I've never had a time in my life I haven't been in the middle of a book. I learned to read at an early age-before kindergarden. I vaguely remember having one of those scary Speak and Spell things (which reminds me- if any of you know what I'm talking about, YouTube Dane Cook's standup about the Speak and Spell-hilarious) which may have helped me to learn, but I was always read to as a child. I suppose I just picked up on it along the way. 
A small amount of my background is probably necessary to understand why I initially became obsessed with reading. My Mummy and Daddy as I call them, were both alcoholics. They divorced when I was about 2 or 3 so I never really remember them living together. Mummy raised my brother Taylor and me until I was in second grade. Though she tried her hardest to raise us, the disease just made it impossible. Thankfully, I'm at a place in my life where I don't place any blame on her for that. I know she loves us dearly and would never choose to live the train wreck lifestyle of THOSE days. Things are better for her now but they definitely weren't "peachy" back then. I was forced to grow up and grow up quickly. We had to eat, we had to get to school, we needed baths. And if she wasn't working she was usually passed out on the couch. Which left me to the cooking (usually crumbled up peanut butter bread with cinnamon and sugar-which I still eat to this day), bathing, and making sure Taylor didn't go around cutting electrical cords with scissors. My escape from everything: reading. I would get lost in Nancy Drew and Anne of Green Gables, The Babysitter's Club and Little House on the Prairie. I would read about other people's lives and dream of what I wanted mine to be. 
Now don't get me wrong, I owe Mummy for being the brave, strong person she is to admit that she couldn't take care of us the way that we needed. And quite honestly it's going to make a great memoir some day! So after years of back and forth custody stints, my aunt, whom I now call Mom, adopted Taylor and me when I was in 5th grade. And I was opened up to an entirely NEW world of books! We had a nook in our house with built-in library shelves that were packed ceiling to floor with books upon books. "Grown-up" books at that! And Mom never censored my reading. She might say, "This might be a little over your head right now-it's pretty sexual stuff" but she would never tell me I wasn't allowed to read something. And lets face it, if I wanted to steal a naughty book and read it I would have and she would have never known the difference. Ok maybe that did happen with The Joy of Sex just laying around. First time reading about group sex: 6th grade. Confused? Yes, you might say that. 
Anyways, back to the point- after I was adopted, I threw myself into Dean Koontz, James Patterson, Anne Rice (I've read The Witching Hour MULTIPLE times). I own multiple Ayn Rand books that used to sit on my Mom's bookshelf begging to be read, but haven't quite tackled those yet. My reading has evolved to include the classics I was forced to read in high school and ended up loving: Sense and Sensibility, The Scarlet Letter, Huckleberry Finn, The Odyssey, Great Expectations, and my favorite, Wuthering Heights. I also became a Twilight fan after fighting with myself, telling myself they were stupid vampire books for 14 year olds. Well, if that's what they are I guess I should still be 14- and I've always loved vampires. I don't know who I was kidding not letting myself read them the first couple years they were out. Once I became hooked I had the entire saga read in less than 2 months. And that was at the end of my first year of nursing school so I was definitely busy. I'm also a sucker for a good romance novel like The Notebook and The Time Traveler's Wife. Nicholas Sparks can get a tad sappy for my liking, taking 15 pages to describe a sunset and whatnot, but I'll get to him when I review the next book of his I'm going to read: A Bend in the Road.
Needless to say, I don't stick to a certain genre of books. I go off of suggestions, I go off of the mood I happen to be in that day. I just love to read. Period. SO, now that I've shared some of my history, I'll let you know my plan, future readers I hope exist! For each book I read, I'll write a review. What I thought of the story, the author's voice, the characters. I won't reveal the ending because I'm doing this to spark an interest in reading the book itself! 
And let me just say, I am not a lit major. I've never taken any courses on writing or literature other than the 1101 classes everyone was required to take in school. I'm not going to write a book report/mini Cliff's Notes post. I can't tell you the first thing about symbolism other than I was a master bullshitter in high school when it came to WRITING about symbolism. These posts will just be my opinions and feelings. I hope y'all enjoy them! And if no imaginary web people interested in my blog exist out there, it will at least be a fun thing for me to do! 
But before I end this post, I have to apologize to my best friend Bridgette. She is an established journalist in Louisiana and I'm sure she will cringe at my grammar if she ever reads any of these. So, Bridge, if you're reading this: SORRY! At least I know what an Oxford comma is now-but that's only because of someone's status on Facebook today :)