Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks

It’s that time of the year again when I would endlessly talk about Nicholas Sparks and his new book. If you’ve been following my blog since the beginning, you already know that Nicholas Sparks is my favorite author and I’ve read each and every one of his books. I am a great fan of his since I was twelve years old and never did I ever get tired reading his works. Every year, I anticipate the release of his new book and will continue to do so until time could tell. You see what I did there? I would ramble about Nicholas Sparks for hours without getting bored or anything. But enough about that. The Longest Ride is his latest book and I will be discussing it in a short while.

Here’s the synopsis from the back cover of the book:

The Longest Ride coverIra Levinson is in trouble. At ninety-one years old and alone in the world, he finds himself stranded on an isolated embankment after a car crash. Suffering multiple injuries, he struggles to retain consciousness until a blurry image materializes and comes into focus beside him: his beloved wife, Ruth, who passed away nine years ago. Urging him to hang on, she forces him to remain alert by reminiscing about their lifetime together. Ira knows that Ruth can’t possibly be in the car with him, but he clings to her words and his memories.

A few miles away, at a local bull-riding event, a Wake Forest College senior’s life is about to change. Recovering from a recent break-up, Sophia Danko meets a young cowboy named Luke. Through Luke, Sophia is introduced to a world in which the stakes are high: Reward and ruin – and even life and death – loom large in everyday life. As she and Luke fall in love, Sophia finds herself imagining a future far removed from her plans – if the secret Luke’s keeping doesn’t destroy it first.

Ira and Ruth. Sophia and Luke. Two couples who have little in common and who are separated by years and experience. Yet their lives will converge with unexpected poignancy, reminding us all that even the most difficult decisions can yield extraordinary journeys.

I bought the book during the Manila International Book Fair that happened last year. I didn’t actually expect that the book will be displayed during the event because it wasn’t the release date yet, as it was still a few days shy of the official date. So, the moment I saw the book, I immediately bought a copy. I’m so glad that the local bookstores release Nicholas Sparks’ books on time. The only thing I’m disappointed at is that they don’t have the hardcover editions of the book, but rather, only the paperback editions. I had a hard time accepting this reality at first because as OC as I can be, I want all his books to be in hardcover editions. But as time passed, I slowly came to accept that I can happily settle for the paperback editions.

Going back to the story, The Longest Ride centers on the lives of two couples – Ira and Ruth, Luke and Sophia – from the day they first meet up until the very end. The book is actually narrated in three different points of view: Ira, Luke, and Sophia. At the beginning, readers are already introduced to Ira and how he gets into an accident. Alone and old, and in the middle of a snow storm, getting out alive seems to be an impossible scenario. But then, Ruth’s ghost and his memories of her miraculously keep him alive despite his current condition. And now, there’s Luke and Sophia, two twenty-something adults who surprisingly find themselves falling in love with each other in spite of their differences. How Ira and Luke and Sophia cross paths is quite a mystery to me and I’m eager to find out how Nicholas Sparks would go about the story.

And just like that, I devoured the book in just two days. Nicholas Sparks’ books always have that effect on me. His writing style has made me become so engrossed in the story, letting me savor each word and fall in love with the characters as well. On the other hand, I guess it’s also because of this characterization that helps me connect with his characters easily. For a change, Nicholas Sparks provides us with two love stories of two different couples and we are able to witness how love grows and strengthens their relationships and how it affects their actions and decisions in life.

It’s impressive to see that Nicholas Sparks successfully makes the stories of Ira and Ruth, and Luke and Sophia become so engaging that I find myself having a hard time putting down the book. His portrayal of the characters and the way he presents the conflicts faced by them are so realistic that I often nod in agreement with what the characters think and do. Moreover, I guess it’s also because of their maturity and values in life that I could easily understand and relate to them, especially in the case of Luke and Sophia. I love how they come to embrace their differences and deal with the possible issues that may arise in the future. I may not be a fan of cowboys, but who knew I would still end up enjoying this book so much?

Once again, Nicholas Sparks is at his best – The Longest Ride does not disappoint. The storyline is dealt with much depth and the lives of these imperfectly perfect characters could definitely reach into the hearts and souls of the readers. That’s what undeniably happened to me. Nicholas Sparks never fails to capture my heart through his books. I have certainly learned a lot about love in his books, especially this one, and it gives me hope that true love still exists. The Longest Ride has taught me how love plays a major role in our lives and how it keeps us grounded and alive and how one’s love story would surprisingly affect the other. I would never ask for a better ending than this. The Longest Ride literally keeps me glued to the seat from the beginning all the way to the end. Ira and Ruth, and Luke and Sophia’s love stories will surely stay with me forever. At the end of the day, all I can say is that: I also understand you, Ira.


How to Fall in Love by Cecelia Ahern

Cecelia Ahern has become one of my favorite authors ever since I’ve read PS, I Love You – the first book I’ve read written by her. I don’t miss any of her books after that as I’ve always been anticipating whenever she has a new book coming out. Thus, when I learned that her latest work, How to Fall in Love, was released, I immediately bought a copy from The Book Depository.

Here’s the plot description from the jacket cover of the book:

How to Fall in Love coverShe has just two weeks. Two weeks to teach him how to fall in love – with his own life.

Adam Basil and Christine Rose are thrown together late one night, when Christine is crossing the Ha’penny Bridge in Dublin. Adam is there, poised, threatening to jump.

Adam is desperate – but Christine makes a crazy deal with him. His 35th birthday is looming and she bets him that before then she can show him life is worth living.

Despite her determination, Christine knows what a dangerous promise she’s made. Against the ticking of the clock, the two of them embark on wild escapades, grand romantic gestures and some unlikely late-night outings. Slowly, Christine thinks Adam is starting to fall back in love with his life. But has she done enough to change his mind for good? And is that all that’s starting to happen?

I remember I used to buy Cecelia Ahern’s newly-released books in international airports whenever I go abroad because they seem to sell Cecelia Ahern’s books on time as compared to ours. If I’m not mistaken, it takes at least six months after the release date for our local bookstores to store her books. What’s more disappointing is that the ones that are released here are merely mass market paperback editions and the book cover designs aren’t that attractive as the first edition. So I’m happy to have discovered The Book Depository. That way, it becomes more accessible for me to buy UK books anytime and on time.

Moving on, in this story, we find Christine in a peculiar situation wherein she encounters two persons who attempt to commit suicide. One case doesn’t turn out as well as she hopes it would, while the other one Christine is able to prevent the worst that could happen. Talk about wrong place at the wrong time. Anyway, of these two persons, Cecelia Ahern centers her plotline on the second person, named Adam, and how Christine will be able to help him appreciate life once again.

We all encounter problems, depending on its level of depth, and how these affect us emotionally, psychologically, and physically differ from one person to another. As such, how we handle our obstacles also varies from one another. However, it’s not unusual to some of us, if not most, for having suicidal thoughts and more often than not, the darkness that invades us overshadows our capability for optimism. Hence, these thoughts will eventually lead to pursuing it. Committing suicides constantly happen not just in limited number of societies, but to all parts of the world as well. It’s such a disheartening feeling to hear news about these people, both young and old, ending their lives. And all these feelings Cecelia Ahern is able to realistically narrate successfully in her book without any hint of sugarcoating whatsoever. With this said, it becomes easier to present the conflict of the story to the readers and make them understand the characters’ situations and empathize with them better.

At the beginning, Christine already gives me the impression that she works as a therapist, but I got it wrong. On the other hand, I find her personality quite interesting. It’s evident that she has a way to connect with people easily and how she handles them in desperate situations amazes me. Readers will find her optimism inspiring and it’s funny how she bases her actions from her huge, I mean HUGE, collection of “How To” self-help books. On a serious note, there’s a deeper reason why Christine is portrayed like that. Her trying to fix everything and make everything right is somehow an extension of what she wants for herself.

As for Adam, well, for a handsome man and someone who has everything he needs, the world suddenly comes crashing down on him and affects him greatly. I enjoy how Christine tries to help him and comes up with ways to make him enjoy life once again. The steps she got from her self-help books may seem simple, but the execution of those steps is what makes the book more unique and entertaining to read. They’re fun and with that process, readers could see the bond and the friendship that slowly form between them. At the end of the day, I’m hoping that they’d end up together.

Cecelia Ahern never fails to disappoint me every time I read her latest book. The story is always something new and fresh and unexpected. In this case, I’m surprised to know that Cecelia Ahern would create a story centering on the issue about suicides and while the topic may be heavy, Cecelia Ahern doesn’t make it too serious. Cecelia Ahern writes How to Fall in Love with just a right amount of humor and seriousness. Even the characters have their own flaws, struggles, and conflicts, but that doesn’t make the story any less interesting. Cecelia Ahern portrays the characters as such to make them more relatable to the readers.

Overall, I enjoyed the book from beginning until the end. I’m glad that this doesn’t wholly encompass as merely a romance book, but rather, issues mentioned in it are also tackled with much depth. How to Fall in Love has shown me that life is often taken for granted, that sometimes, we all need to slow down, contemplate, and observe our surroundings. That way, we could appreciate life fully and perhaps, change the way we view life. This book is a great reminder for me to be more optimistic and to be content with the simple things in life. How to Fall in Love has taught me so much and made me reflect about my life as well. I’m actually feeling quite enlightened and inspired after reading this book. I recommend this to anyone and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

(DNF) The 39 Clues: Unstoppable, Book Two: Breakaway by Jeff Hirsch

The 39 Clues - Unstoppable, Book Two - Breakaway coverHere’s the plot description from the back cover of the book:

A Nightmare Come True:

As a member of the most powerful family history has ever known, thirteen-year-old Dan Cahill has been shot at, kidnapped, and even thrown into a pit with a deadly snake. He’s survived it all due to luck, smarts, and his older sister, Amy, who always sticks by his side.

Now Dan and Amy are facing their greatest threat yet, an enemy who has found a way to use the source of the Cahill family power against them. To stop him, Dan and Amy must set out on a desperate mission that will take them from one of the world’s hottest regions all the way to the frozen blast of the Arctic Circle. But with the enemy closing in, Dan finds himself facing the one terror he never imagined – being betrayed by his own sister.

Let me go straight to the point: unfortunately, I was not able to finish the book. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the series, but as the story lengthens, I find myself getting less enthusiastic about it. I feel that the plotline is becoming more unnatural as if being forced just to make the series longer. Moreover, the general concept of the story is also becoming more repetitive. The protagonists go to greater lengths any persons of their age shouldn’t have – travelling to all parts of the world in order to retrieve certain things they need –, fight villains who would stop at nothing to destroy them, and endure bad to worst obstacles that risk their lives.

This is the first time I DNF a book. I’m a bit disappointed because I used to enjoy the series as I always anticipate the next book. But now, everything I feel about the book seems to change. I don’t know if various authors writing each book affect the way I view the characters. From being likeable, their personalities and behaviors change drastically overtime. They’re not who I’ve known from the previous series. Aside from that, I guess I’ve also outgrown the story. I actually wanted to see if I’ll still like the book after the 50th page, but even before reaching that page, I’m just not into it anymore. So there.