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    Confession: I'd never finished a Nicholas Sparks novel before this one. I've started a couple of his books in the past few years upon suggestion from others but never made it more than twenty pages in before giving up. I'm not sure what it is, but none of them have ever appealed to me. But a close friend of mine LOVES this book, and she told me I should read it, so of course, I did. I made it all the way through this time, but let me just say right now that I didn't love it. I also watched the movie (both were checked out from the library, so don't judge the quality of the items in the photo), and I didn't fall in love with that.
    I went into the book with high hopes and low expectations. I wasn't entirely sure what it was about: I knew it had a bull rider and some sort of crazy romantic love story (because Nicholas Sparks). Other than that, I didn't really know what I was getting myself into, but honestly, that was basically what I got out of it.
    This book has two storylines that cross over (though not until very late in the book). The first focuses on Ira Levinson, a ninety-something man who gets trapped in his car after going through a guardrail during a snowstorm. His chapters span a day or two in which he drifts in and out of consciousness, dreaming/hallucinating about his deceased wife, Ruth, and their life together. Their love story begins in the 1940s and progresses until her death decades later, and tells of shy walks home from church, war, early marriage, problems with children, and a lot of art collecting.
    The second storyline follows Sophia Danko, a college senior coming off of a recent breakup, who meets Luke Collins, a bull rider who, for reasons not stated until much later in the book, hasn't ridden in a long time, and may be considering quitting altogether. The two meet at a competition near Sophia's school in North Carolina, and have, as expected, a beautiful love story, though it is punctuated with difficulties and some big secrets. 
    Overall, I didn't love this book because it was predictable. It read like a typical YA romance novel, as I expected, but their story never caused me to feel any strong emotions, which I usually hope to get out of these books. It wasn't a bad book, but I would have liked a little more from their romance, to make it easier for me to fall in love with the idea of love. (Goodness, it's hard to articulate what I expected from this book! But you get it, right?)
    After reading the book, I promptly got the movie from the library, and, possibly because I'd just read the book, I didn't feel that the movie held up. Of course, movie adaptations are always missing some of the best parts of the book (in my opinion), but this one seemed to cut out all of the parts that made the story sweet and endearing. Obviously, it would have been difficult to jam everything that made the book what it was into a two-hour film, but because of the way things were cut, I didn't feel any of the emotional appeal that was present in Sophia and Luke's story in the book. Instead, their journey felt shallow, and only the physical aspects of their relationship were emphasized. If I had enjoyed the book more, I may have had a deeper appreciation for the movie, but as I didn't love the book, so the movie just felt a little disappointing.
    The Longest Ride was a good story, especially if you love the rodeo and bull riding, but if you're looking for something deep that requires a lot of thought and consideration to appreciate, this isn't it. It is the first Nicholas Sparks novel I've ever finished, but I didn't love it by the end. I did appreciate the stories that wove together nicely, and the romance in general, but in some ways, it just wasn't my style. However, after attending a college rodeo this spring, I did have a much greater appreciation for Luke Collins. Thank you, Taylor, for making me read and watch this (and for making me go to the rodeo)!!

 
 
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    My first book review back! Yay! I got this book forever ago, but I hadn't read it yet (which seems to be a theme for my summer). I tried several months ago, but I only got about ten pages in before I gave up. So needless to say, I didn't have super high hopes for it. Nevertheless, I picked it up last month, hoping that I could just get it over with once and for all.
    The story centers on Barrie Watson, a teenage girl about to enter her senior year of high school when her mother dies and she is sent to live on a plantation in South Carolina with family she's never heard of. There she discovers a reclusive aunt, cute future lawyer and/or baseball player, possibly murderous uncle, jealous cousin, family secrets, potential magic, and a curse that will change her life. It's difficult to summarize this book without spoiling anything, but just trust me when I say that there are twists and turns every few pages.
    As someone who generally appreciates character development more than plot, I didn't really like Barrie for most of the book. She felt somewhat like a real teenage girl, albeit not a very bright one. Over the course of the book, she didn't change a whole lot, even when crazy things were happening in her life that definitely should have affected her. 
    While I didn't like that, though, I did like the exploration of family. I wish the book had gone a little deeper into Barrie's aunt, mother, and the rest of the family, because there seemed to be some tense, yet interesting, dynamics in their past that could have been explored a little more. For instance, Barrie's mother and aunt are revealed to have had very different and complicated relationships with their father, but Barrie only seems interested in learning the basics of those relationships. 
    Overall, my reaction to this book was kind of a rollercoaster. I didn't like it, then I did, then I didn't, and then I kind of did again. By the end, I appreciated the story for what it was, but I still wished there had been a little more to it. I think it was a fascinating idea for a novel with a lot of potential, but I think because of how much there was to work with, it could have been more than it turned out to be. I didn't dislike it by the time I was finished, but I also didn't feel compelled to read the sequel.

 
 
    Hey, everyone! I know it's been so long (six months!) since I last published, and the reasons for that are technical difficulties and life. I just finished up my freshman year of college, and the second semester was so busy that I just had to no time to read for pleasure, and therefore nothing to write about. Once I got out for the summer, I planned on doing a lot of reading and writing a lot of blog posts, but unfortunately, I've been having difficulties with my website's host service for quite some time. But it's finally up and working again, so I'm back!
    In case anyone was wondering, here's a brief overview of my life the past six months: I did my second semester of college, took some really cool classes, did a lot of fun things with friends and groups at school (including planning an escape room, taking a scary night drive, and buying 30 pizzas), got a job as an RA for next semester, moved out of my dorm and back home, took a trip to New York, turned 19, and spent a bunch of time with family. Needless to say, it's been busy!
    I've also read several books over the last six months, most since I got out of school, so I'll be writing some reviews for those soon! Thanks for sticking with me!