Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

I used to be a huge Nicholas Sparks fan. He wrote about the "movie love" that I love and he is from NC so most of his stories are set in familiar places. I cried my eyes out reading The Notebook and to this day that book and movie are still on my all-time favorites list. I loved Message in a Bottle and A Walk to Remember too. But slowly his books became too predictable for even me.

But since I now have to watch commercials due to not having DVR, I kept seeing the commercial for the movie Dear John. What can I say? I am a HUGE sucker for movie love and Channing Tatum is HOT and the actress that plays the female lead is on one of my favorite shows- Big Love. But since the book is always better than the movie, I had to read the book first.

I still heart Nicholas Sparks. I flew through this book in 3 days. I was reading it in my car at stoplights. It's just such an easy romantic read that sucks you in.

The main character Savannah is from Lenior, NC which is literally 15-20 minutes from my hometown of Morganton. So needless to say I could relate to her. The boy John is from Wilmington which I have been to many times. Savannah goes to UNC which is right up the road from where I am now. So really the whole story felt like it could be written by people I actually might know.

Savannah meets John while he is on leave from his army base in Germany. She is staying with a group of students from UNC who are there for a month to build some houses for Habitat for Humanity. He is there for 2 weeks visiting his dad. Their paths cross and immediately they are smitten with each other. By the time John's leave is up, they are full blown head-over-heels in love.

The rest of the story is about how they try to keep their relationship and love going through letters and short phone conversations and visits. You'll have to read it to find out the rest, but I will tell you it made me think about what true love really looks like and acts like.

It doesn't have that happily ever after ending I love, but it doesn't have that tragic someone dies ending either. At first I hated the ending because it didn't wrap up everything in a nice little happy bow, but I appreciate it and what the author is trying to get across.

It's a story about soul mates and love- in many different forms.

I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

I still haven't seen the movie, but I heard they totally changed the setting and the ending.

Also last summer I listened to Nicholas Sparks other book The Last Song on my way to the beach. It was pretty good and apparently it is going to be made in to a movie too!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Flashbang: How I Get Over Myself by Mark Steele

This guy is freaking HILARIOUS! I saw this book reccommended on one of my pastor's blogs and he said it was great. He was right.

First of all I think this guy might have ADD because this book does not follow a normal flow. But it is great because it never gets stale. He has these conversations with himself that interrupt the story and backgroud autobiographical information breaks. It really was different than anything I've ever read.

It is some seriously funny stuff. The story of Claus literally had me putting the book down and exclaiming "No he didn't!"

I'm not good at explaining what books are about, so here's a summary from

"Mark Steele found himself trying to be a good Christian, but felt he wasn’t making any permanent difference. His life was turning into a flashbang — something that makes a lot of noise but leaves no permanent indentation. In this hilarious memoir, Steele gives autobiographical accounts of enduring 40 days of facial paralysis, suffering public embarrassment at a Presidential Inauguration, receiving treatments of shock therapy from a first-timer and giving blood in a Mexican hospital. Each story brings Steele closer to the realization that being a Christian is more than just saying you are. In the end, he reveals his secret to living a more meaningful life—how he got over himself."

It was very entertaining while helping me learn something at the same time!

I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

This was Oprah’s book club pick a few years ago and I got the impression from her shows that it was about the bond between dogs and their owners, so it was added to my “to-read” list. It is a thick book. I get intimidated by thick books because I have ADD and don’t know if I can concentrate on one book for that long.

When people asked me what the book was about it was hard for me to say. Even after finishing it, it is hard for me to say without giving anything away.

So here is a review from Publishers Weekly:
Starred Review. A literary thriller with commercial legs, this stunning debut is bound to be a bestseller. In the backwoods of Wisconsin, the Sawtelle family—Gar, Trudy and their young son, Edgar—carry on the family business of breeding and training dogs. Edgar, born mute, has developed a special relationship and a unique means of communicating with Almondine, one of the Sawtelle dogs, a fictional breed distinguished by personality, temperament and the dogs' ability to intuit commands and to make decisions. Raising them is an arduous life, but a satisfying one for the family until Gar's brother, Claude, a mystifying mixture of charm and menace, arrives. When Gar unexpectedly dies, mute Edgar cannot summon help via the telephone. His guilt and grief give way to the realization that his father was murdered; here, the resemblance to Hamlet resonates. After another gut-wrenching tragedy, Edgar goes on the run, accompanied by three loyal dogs. His quest for safety and succor provides a classic coming-of-age story with an ironic twist. Sustained by a momentum that has the crushing inevitability of fate, the propulsive narrative will have readers sucked in all the way through the breathtaking final scenes. (June)
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Basically it is the story of Edgar Sawtelle, just like the title says. Edgar is born without the ability to speak. He grows up on a farm where they breed dogs. His grandfather started breeding the dogs and now his father has given Edgar his first litter to raise. They are a different kind of breeder because they raise the puppies and make sure they are super-trained before giving them up. Sawtelle dogs are the best and they do a lot to keep up with their reputation and continue to breed better and smarter dogs. Most of this is epitomized by Edgar’s lifelong companion Almondine.

But Edgar’s father dies suddenly and very unexpectedly and Edgar and his mother have a hard time dealing with the tragedy. Edgar’s father’s brother returns to help with the farm and worms his way into Edgar’s mother’s affections. But Edgar knows there is something not right with Claude. After an unfortunate event, Edgar flees the farm with the dogs he has been raising.

They are on the run together and embark on a kind of crazy adventure. They have to learn to survive on their own. I can’t really describe it, but that is the most interesting part of the book.

But I did not like the ending. Literally until about the last 3 pages you do not know what is going to happen. It is good because the last 100-200 pages just fly because there is so much going on and you are just dying to know what happens. Then all of a sudden it ends and not in a happy way. I was very disturbed and mad.

But it is still a good book. If you like dogs, you’ll probably like this book.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars.
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