Sunday, January 13, 2019

Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks

Hope Anderson is at a crossroads. At thirty-six, she's been dating her boyfriend, an orthopedic surgeon, for six years. With no wedding plans in sight, and her father recently diagnosed with ALS, she decides to use a week at her family's cottage in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, to ready the house for sale and mull over some difficult decisions about her future.

Tru Walls has never visited North Carolina but is summoned to Sunset Beach by a letter from a man claiming to be his father. A safari guide, born and raised in Zimbabwe, Tru hopes to unravel some of the mysteries surrounding his mother's early life and recapture memories lost with her death. When the two strangers cross paths, their connection is as electric as it is unfathomable . . . but in the immersive days that follow, their feelings for each other will give way to choices that pit family duty against personal happiness in devastating ways.

My Thoughts 
This book is quintessential Sparks and to be honest a good percentage of the book was a tad drawn out and boring for me.  Although, I can say that I like the premise of the book with the letters in the mailbox on Sunset Beach.
I love the scenes that took place in Africa, they were breathtaking in detail and awe.
I hoped from the beginning that Tru and Hope would end up together from the very beginning, but that wouldn't make for a good Sparks tale now would it?

Drink Selection
A perfect southern drink to go with the beach and sunsets would be a Mint Julep.  Delish, am I right?

Rating


Nicholas Sparks
About Nicholas
Nicholas Sparks is one of the world’s most beloved storytellers. All of his books have been New York Times bestsellers, with over 105 million copies sold worldwide, in more than 50 languages, including over 75 million copies in the United States alone.
Sparks wrote one of his best-known stories, The Notebook, over a period of six months at age 28. It was published in 1996 and he followed with the novels Message in a Bottle (1998), A Walk to Remember (1999), The Rescue (2000), A Bend in the Road (2001), Nights in Rodanthe (2002), The Guardian (2003), The Wedding (2003), True Believer (2005) and its sequel, At First Sight (2005), Dear John (2006), The Choice (2007), The Lucky One (2008), The Last Song (2009), Safe Haven (2010), The Best of Me (2011), and The Longest Ride (2013) as well as the 2004 non-fiction memoir Three Weeks With My Brother, co-written with his brother Micah. His eighteenth novel, See Me, published on October 12, 2015. His newest book, Two by Two, will be published on October 4, 2016.
Film adaptations of Nicholas Sparks novels, including The Choice, The Longest Ride, The Best of Me, Safe Haven (on all of which he served as a producer), The Lucky One, Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe, Dear John and The Last Song, have had a cumulative worldwide gross of over three-quarters of a billion dollars.
In 2012, Sparks and his publishing agent and creative partner Theresa Park, launched Nicholas Sparks Productions, with Park as President of Production.  A film version of The Guardian is currently in development, as is a film based on Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers’s friendship with Chicago Bears teammate Brian Piccolo.
Sparks lives in North Carolina. He contributes to a variety of local and national charities, and is a major contributor to the Creative Writing Program (MFA) at the University of Notre Dame, where he provides scholarships, internships, and a fellowship annually. He co-founded The Epiphany School in New Bern, North Carolina in 2006. As a former full scholarship athlete (he still holds a track and field record at the University of Notre Dame) he also spent four years coaching track and field athletes at the local public high school. In 2009, the team he coached at New Bern High School set a World Junior Indoor Record in the 4 x400 meter, in New York. The record still stands. Click to watch the Runner’s World video with Nicholas.
The Nicholas Sparks Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit committed to improving cultural and international understanding through global education experiences for students of all ages was launched in 2011. Between the foundation, and the personal gifts of the Sparks family, more than $15 million dollars have been distributed to deserving charities, scholarship programs, and projects. Because the Sparks family covers all operational expenses of the foundation, 100% of donations are devoted to programs.

Link to Purchase


The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib

The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries, the ice cream. The bread was more difficult, but if she could just lose a little more weight, perhaps she would make the soloists’ list. Perhaps if she were lighter, danced better, tried harder, she would be good enough. Perhaps if she just ran for one more mile, lost just one more pound.

Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears – imperfection, failure, loneliness – she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Valerie; Julia, always hungry. Together, they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day.
 
My Thoughts 
This is the most poignant read of 2019.  I can say that right now, hands down.  It's relevant, sad, scary, hopeful and breathtaking all in one.
Yara's intimate details on the topic of anorexia and other eating disorders are disturbing in a very must read kind of way.  I have always wondered what life would be like for someone with that condition and Yara delivers with a brilliant writing style.
Anna has stopped living her true life and has sustained on only popcorn, apples and coffee.  She currently weighs 88 pounds and has fainted several times.  In an effort to save her life, her husband Matthius enrolls her onsite treatment at 17 Swann Street.  
Here she meets many girls with their own personal demons.  But they become a team and learn to fight together.  But this disease takes lives, will they all make it?
 
Drink Selection
 Perfect drink pairing would be a Mimosa!  Delish!

Rating

Yara Zgheib
About Yara 
Yara Zgheib is a Fulbright scholar with a Masters degree in Security Studies from Georgetown University and a PhD in International Affairs in Diplomacy from Centre D'études Diplomatiques et Stratégiques in Paris. She is fluent in English, Arabic, French, and Spanish. Yara is a writer for several US and European magazines, including The Huffington Post, The Four Seasons Magazine, A Woman’s Paris, The Idea List, and Holiday Magazine. She writes on culture, art, travel, and philosophy on her blog, "Aristotle at Afternoon Tea.

Link to Purchase 
Amazon 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Elevation by Shephen King

Although Scott Carey doesn’t look any different, he’s been steadily losing weight. There are a couple of other odd things, too. He weighs the same in his clothes and out of them, no matter how heavy they are. Scott doesn’t want to be poked and prodded. He mostly just wants someone else to know, and he trusts Doctor Bob Ellis.

In the small town of Castle Rock, the setting of many of King’s most iconic stories, Scott is engaged in a low grade—but escalating—battle with the lesbians next door whose dog regularly drops his business on Scott’s lawn. One of the women is friendly; the other, cold as ice. Both are trying to launch a new restaurant, but the people of Castle Rock want no part of a gay married couple, and the place is in trouble. When Scott finally understands the prejudices they face–including his own—he tries to help. Unlikely alliances, the annual foot race, and the mystery of Scott’s affliction bring out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others.

My Thoughts 
 I'm not sure how I feel about this book - I'm personally not seeing the point to this story.  
I'm lost as to why the main character, Scott, is wasting away and there is no reason why?  Not to be a spoiler but it's NEVER said!  What the heck?
I've never read a book by Stephen King and truthfully this story is not making me jump on the bandwagon.  
Aside from the main plot, the characters around the town of Castle Rock are well written and interesting but it doesn't truthfully help with my confusion and lost state.

Drink Selection
 I need a few drinks of something (no idea what) to wrap my head around what is happening in this story!

Rating 

 
About Stephen 
Stephen Edwin King was born the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. After his father left them when Stephen was two, he and his older brother, David, were raised by his mother. Parts of his childhood were spent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father's family was at the time, and in Stratford, Connecticut. When Stephen was eleven, his mother brought her children back to Durham, Maine, for good. Her parents, Guy and Nellie Pillsbury, had become incapacitated with old age, and Ruth King was persuaded by her sisters to take over the physical care of them. Other family members provided a small house in Durham and financial support. After Stephen's grandparents passed away, Mrs. King found work in the kitchens of Pineland, a nearby residential facility for the mentally challenged.

Stephen attended the grammar school in Durham and Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. From his sophomore year at the University of Maine at Orono, he wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, THE MAINE CAMPUS. He was also active in student politics, serving as a member of the Student Senate. He came to support the anti-war movement on the Orono campus, arriving at his stance from a conservative view that the war in Vietnam was unconstitutional. He graduated in 1970, with a B.A. in English and qualified to teach on the high school level. A draft board examination immediately post-graduation found him 4-F on grounds of high blood pressure, limited vision, flat feet, and punctured eardrums.

He met Tabitha Spruce in the stacks of the Fogler Library at the University, where they both worked as students; they married in January of 1971. As Stephen was unable to find placement as a teacher immediately, the Kings lived on his earnings as a laborer at an industrial laundry, and her student loan and savings, with an occasional boost from a short story sale to men's magazines.

Stephen made his first professional short story sale ("The Glass Floor") to Startling Mystery Stories in 1967. Throughout the early years of his marriage, he continued to sell stories to men's magazines. Many were gathered into the Night Shift collection or appeared in other anthologies.

In the fall of 1971, Stephen began teaching English at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels.

Link to Purchase


The Other Woman by Sandie Jones

Emily thinks Adam’s perfect; the man she thought she’d never meet. But lurking in the shadows is a rival; a woman who shares a deep bond with the man she loves.

Emily chose Adam, but she didn’t choose his mother Pammie. There’s nothing a mother wouldn’t do for her son, and now Emily is about to find out just how far Pammie will go to get what she wants: Emily gone forever.

My Thoughts 
 What an AWESOME book!  I loved everything about this book especially the fact that I was completely snowballed all the way to the very end!
The fact that many of you may not have read this story yet now crosses my mind so I will NOT spoil it for you.
But I will say that I 1000% did not see this ending and I love when a story can shock me that much.
Pammie drives me COMPLETELY crazy throughout this book and I can honesty say that if I were Emily and Pammie was a boyfriend/husband's mom I would be getting a divorce ASAP.  I can only handle so much and she surpassed my limits FOR SURE.
I can secretly say I was happy when Adam's brother treated her well BUT THEN I remembered they are from the same mother and thought she should RUN!
But then bits and pieces started creeping in and you can see the controlling nature out and that is never ok!
This story will grab from the beginning and have your mind spinning at the end.

Drink Selection
I needed a bottle to get through this book!  WOW!  Riesling hands down!

Rating 
About Sandie 

Sandie Jones has worked as a freelance journalist for over twenty years, and has written for publications including the Sunday Times, Woman’s Weekly and the Daily Mail. She lives in London with her husband and three children. The Other Woman is her debut novel.

Link to Purchase
 Amazon

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Florida by Lauren Groff

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The New York Times-bestselling author of Fates and Furies returns, bringing the reader into a physical world that is at once domestic and wild—a place where the hazards of the natural world lie waiting to pounce, yet the greatest threats and mysteries are still of an emotional, psychological nature. A family retreat can be derailed by a prowling panther, or by a sexual secret. Among those navigating this place are a resourceful pair of abandoned sisters; a lonely boy, grown up; a restless, childless couple, a searching, homeless woman; and an unforgettable, recurring character—a steely and conflicted wife and mother.

The stories in this collection span characters, towns, decades, even centuries, but Florida—its landscape, climate, history, and state of mind—becomes its gravitational center: an energy, a mood, as much as a place of residence. Groff transports the reader, then jolts us alert with a crackle of wit, a wave of sadness, a flash of cruelty, as she writes about loneliness, rage, family, and the passage of time. With shocking accuracy and effect, she pinpoints the moments and decisions and connections behind human pleasure and pain, hope and despair, love and fury—the moments that make us alive. Startling, precise, and affecting, Florida is a magnificent achievement.

My Thoughts 
I have not read a collection of short stories before - this was a great book to introduce that type of read. A few of the stories didn't particularly interest me, but others were very riveting and attention grabbing.
I loved the attention to detail that Lauren gave each and every story.   What an amazing picture she paints as well as intricate stories she weaves.
I won't give away too many details to each story but I will list those that attracted my attention; the stories regarding the abandoned sisters, a lonely boy with snakes and a searching homeless woman.  They grabbed my attention and had me wanting to know more!
For my first set of short stories, I was intrigued and will seek out more books of this type.

Drink Selection
I would pair this read with a warm applied cider or mulled wine, perfect for this time of year.

Rating


Lauren Groff
 About Lauren
Lauren Groff was born in Cooperstown, N.Y. and grew up one block from the Baseball Hall of Fame. She graduated from Amherst College and has an MFA in fiction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Her short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of journals, including The Atlantic Monthly, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, Hobart, and Five Points as well as in the anthologies Best American Short Stories 2007, Pushcart Prize XXXII, and Best New American Voices 2008.

She was awarded the Axton Fellowship in Fiction at the University of Louisville, and has had residencies and fellowships at Yaddo and the Vermont Studio Center.

She lives in Gainesville, Florida, with her husband, Clay, and her dog, Cooper.
 

Link to Purchase

 

The World Breaks Everyone by Lauren Clark

41045538

A Gripping Cat-and-Mouse Suspense Novel

Every day, I wake up certain of only three things:

I am responsible for my mother’s death.
My father has vanished.
Someone wants me dead.

I’m on the run. It’s me against the world.
I cannot let it break me.

When sixteen-year-old Olivia Jacobs and her celebrity chef father are brutally attacked after his French Quarter restaurant opening, the shell-shocked Olivia finds herself on the run on the streets of New Orleans.

Who wants her dead? And why?

My Thoughts 
This book was a little slow to start for me and pieces were slightly confusing to figure out (characterization) but once the action get going, I couldn't put the book down.
The main character Olivia is juggling so many things on her plate - death of a parent, her father being kidnapped and someone threatening to kill her.  What 16 year old could manage that life?  Certainly not my children!
This book is high energy, high stakes, action packed and will have you guessing all the way to the end. 
For those who are looking for an action packed page turner this would be the perfect read this winter!

Drink Selection
  I would pair this story with a hot glass of mulled cider on a cold winter night!

Rating 


Laura McNeill
 About Laura 

*Laura McNeill also writes under the pen name "Lauren Clark" (The World Breaks Everyone" (August 2018 release, suspense)*

ACCLAIM FOR CENTER OF GRAVITY (July 14, 2015)

"A bold and poignant look into an imploding marriage, told in a chorus of assured voices. Center of Gravity is a compelling, fierce, and ultimately hopeful tale, and McNeill is a writer to watch."
- Josilyn Jackson, author of Someone Else's Love Story

“McNeill’s debut is a heart stopping, nail-biting suspense novel that held me captive until I read the last page."
--Colleen Coble, author of The Inn at Ocean’s Edge and the Hope Beach novels

"A breathless, gut-wrenching, satisfying page turner about the real superheroes of the world who stand up to evil and won’t back down."
--Erin Healy, author of The Baker's Wife

Laura McNeill has been a voracious reader since the age of four and would rather be stranded at the library than on a desert island. In her former life, she worked as an anchor and producer for CBS affiliates in Upstate New York and Alabama. Lauren adores her family, yoga, her new Electra bike, and flavored coffee. Center of Gravity is her first novel with Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson.

Link to Purchase

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Mother, Can You Not? by Kate Siegal

Based on the wildly popular Instagram account @CrazyJewishMom, Kate Siegel's essay collection about life with the woman who redefined the term "helicopter mom"

There is nothing more wonderful than a mother’s love. There is also nothing more annoying. Who else can proudly insist that you’re perfect while simultaneously making you question every career, fashion, and relationship decision you have ever made?

No one understands the delicate mother-daughter dynamic better than Kate Siegel—her own mother drove her so crazy that she decided to broadcast their hilarious conversations on Instagram. Soon, hundreds of thousands of people were following their daily text exchanges, eager to see what outrageous thing Kate’s mom would do next. Now, in Mother, Can You NOT?, Kate pays tribute to the woman who invented the concept of drone parenting.

From embarrassing moments (like crashing Kate's gynecological exams) to outrageous stories (like the time she made Kate steal a cat from the pound) to hilarious celebrations (including but not limited to parties for Kate's menstrual cycles), Mother, Can you NOT? lovingly lampoons the lengths to which our mothers will go to better our lives (even if it feels like they’re ruining them in the process).

My Thoughts
What a funny freakin' book!  I just happened to receive a copy of this in my https://www.hamptongiftbag.com/ 's bag that I purchased.  For those of you who aren't familiar - Jane Ubell-Meyer puts together these amazing bags 4 times throughout the summer and it typically has 6-8 books and other goodies that you can purchase for the cost of shipping and a donation!! 
This book happened to be in there this past summer!
Kate and her mother are probably the two funniest people I have read about, and the most brutally honest.  Kate show's texts that her and her mother send each other and you will die laughing when you read them.  Her mother actually refers to her as spawn, not daughter and it kills me every time!
They talk about a wide range of topics from work to love to dr. visits and college.  If you are looking for a book to make you laugh then grab a copy today!

Drink Selection
This is clearly a Cosmopolitan book for sure!

Rating
Kate Friedman-Siegel
About Kate
KATE FRIEDMAN - SIEGEL is the New York Times bestselling author of Mother, Can You Not? and the social media guru who started the hit Instagram account @CrazyJewishMom. Kate, her debut essay collection, and her #CrazyJewishMom have been featured on The Today Show, BuzzFeed, and on Nightline. Previously, she served as an associate producer for Condé Nast Entertainment, overseeing digital video for Teen Vogue, Bon Appétit, Condé Nast Traveler, and The New Yorker Festival. Prior to joining Condé Nast, Kate studied English, creative writing, and theater at Princeton University.

Link to Purchase