The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks

I’ve been meaning to read The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks for awhile, and even bought a paperback copy from the bookstore when I went about a year ago, but it’s taken me this long to finally pick it up and read through it. I’m so glad I finally did.

I think in order for me to really enjoy a book I have to either be really interested in what it’s about or I have to be able to somehow relate parts of the story to my life. With this one in particular, there were a lot of things in the story line that I felt I could relate to.

Although I was  a journalism major in college, I took an art major class and actually had considered switching my major because I enjoyed it so much. Still kind of wish I would have done something with art in college. I kind of admired that Sophia had chosen it with her background and having immigrant parents who worked really hard just to survive in a new country. I know she’s a fictional character, but I feel like if she were real it would be a really difficult decision to pursue something you’re passionate about rather than something that will help you land a good job. I respected her for that.

Ira and Ruth’s art collection was also a fascinating part of the story for me. Almost makes me want to start collecting art, but I’m not sure I have the eye that Ruth had. This kind of ties in with me wanted to be an art history major. I just have always had an interest in the arts and it’s cool to think that there could’ve been a couple who lived and met all these amazing artists in their lifetime. Again, I know it’s fictional, but I really loved this part of the story line and how it tied the two couples together in the end.

And, of course, I’ve fallen for the guy who would work himself to death to help out his family. I could definitely see a lot of him in Luke, so that kept me interested. Being a hard worker and family-oriented is something that I absolutely find attractive in a man, so I could understand why Sophia would fall so hard. Definitely been there.

Plus, who doesn’t love a good love story in general? This one had a lot of depth to it and you could tell that Nicholas Sparks did a lot of research while writing. I’m honestly surprised it took me this long to read it and I feel like I should definitely read more of his work.

Any recommendations for what Nicholas Sparks book I should read next?

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

I had always heard that Frankenstein was boring for a horror novel and that it wasn’t really what most people expected. Though I am a huge horror fan, I haven’t read a lot of horror fiction and this was never really on my list of books I wanted to read.

One night recently I was looking for a movie to watch and decided to start the 2017 movie Mary Shelley staring Elle Fanning because the trailer looked pretty good. First of all, I thought the movie was great and I was kind of shocked to learn that most of what happened in the movie was true to Mary Shelley’s life. The reviews online aren’t great, but I really enjoyed it.

So after watching the movie I decided to finally read Frankenstein. I have to say, it wasn’t at all what I expected.

Maybe I wasn’t reading closely enough, or maybe it was intentional, but I felt like the creation of the creature went by really quickly and I wasn’t even sure that it had actually been done when Frankenstein says that it opened its yellow eyes. With him rushing out and leaving the creature behind, I wasn’t sure if it was something that he had imagined doing or not, especially when it was missing once he finally came back.

For a while I questioned the existence of the creature. When his brother was murdered and Justine was found guilty and executed for the murder I still thought that maybe Frankenstein was just mad and paranoid.

Honestly it wasn’t until he actually had the conversation with the creature that I believed it even existed. The creature’s story was really sad. He just wanted someone to accept him for what he was and not run away because of his appearance. You can kind of understand how he would end up so angry with Frankenstein after trying over and over to prove that he wasn’t some monster.

Just want to say here that it doesn’t make any sense for the creature to have learned to speak so well. That was the only thing that bothered me about the whole story. Curious if anyone else thought this as well when reading.

I understand that Frankenstein didn’t want to create another monster to put out in to the world, but also understood why the creature would be so upset to learn that his creator refused him some sort of happiness.

Frankenstein ends up losing everyone he loves to the vengeance of the creature and then spends the rest of his life hunting him down. There is a nice moment at the end when Frankenstein dies and the creature feels sad and regretful that he took away Frankenstein’s happiness and ultimately made him waste his life. It was pretty interesting that they both sort of felt this regret that they had caused each other so much pain.

I didn’t think the story was boring at all, and I actually found myself wanting to keep reading after finishing a chapter. It wasn’t very scary, but it was definitely interesting and well written. I can’t believe Mary Shelley was 18 when she started writing this. Kind of incredible honestly.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I’m not sure what made me decide to read Michelle Obama’s book. I don’t think I’ve ever read a memoir before, I guess I was just interested in hearing more about her life. I will admit, I was more interested in her after I found out that she’s a Capricorn like me.

I honestly really enjoyed reading this book. At some points, I couldn’t put it down and needed to know what part of her life she was going to discuss next. It was so interesting to see everything from her point of view throughout Barack’s political career and how much her life changed.

She’s a very interesting person and after reading this I feel like Barack and Michelle were too good for this country. They genuinely wanted to make things better and tried to do so. It’s a shame that we’ve taken so many steps back with the current presidency.

It really made me sad to hear how personally she took a lot of the attacks against her and her family. I don’t think we even think about these public figures as normal people and we don’t think about how our words could hurt them. It’s a shame to think that there are so many people, especially with the internet, who felt it was important to shame them or bring them down for things like their appearance. People are so hateful and really need to take a step back and assess their own lives if they really feel the need to do these things.

I would absolutely recommend this book, and I’ve actually been telling people they need to read it since I first picked it up. Her voice is very strong throughout the book and there’s this honesty and rawness to her storytelling that makes me feel almost like I know her now. I realize that I don’t actually know her, but she seems like the type of person who I could easily have a conversation with and I’d actually really love if I ever got the chance to do that.

Highly, highly recommend!

Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton

I’ve always been interested in mythology, but never really put a lot of time into reading the stories. I think in seventh grade we spent some time reading about mythology in my English class but I remember not doing well with it and that there were too many stories and names to remember.

I’ve taken up an interest in astrology lately, and I think the connection between the planets and the gods sort of sparked my interest in mythology again. As it turns out, if you’re interested in mythology there’s basically an unlimited amount of reading material out there for you. It’s a bit overwhelming to say the least.

While I was researching, I kept coming across recommendations to read Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. In my opinion, it’s definitely a good resource for beginners. The book does a good job of explaining the myths and organizing them in a way that makes sense. It’s still a bit overwhelming and I still don’t have all the names straight, but I really enjoyed reading this.

The stories about Persephone and Hades really stuck out to me and I think if I continue to read into any mythology, it would need to have a strong focus on these two. I guess mythology is sort of all over the place so that everyone finds something they like or can relate to and dive deeper into that. If anyone has any good recommendations for further reading, I’d really appreciate it!

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

I’ve been going through this weird sort of dating thing with a guy for the last two years. It really doesn’t make any sense to my family and friends, and I know that it isn’t healthy for me anymore, so I’m working on ending it completely and letting go.

I’ve avoided love stories for this reason, but I actually think reading Dear John may have been what I needed.

John is in the army and has really struggled throughout life. He meets Savannah, they fall in love quickly, but then he has to go away. They write letters, but eventually the distance becomes too much and she ends it. She moves on, gets married, but it’s obvious that they both have a lot of love for each other.

I think reading this book made me really think about how you can have these intense feelings for someone, but that they might not be the right person for you, or that the timing may not be right and it just might not work out for that reason only.

I think it’s important to recognize this and use that as closure so that you can move on. John wanted the best for Savannah and was okay with letting go of his own desires so that she could move on and hopefully be happy. I really like that. I like that they didn’t have their happy ending together, but they both could be happy with how things ended up. It’s more realistic than the fairy tale stories about love.

The Shining by Stephen King

I have never read anything written by Stephen King before. It’s pretty crazy actually because I’m such a huge fan of horror movies. I’ve always heard that he wasn’t happy with the Stanley Kubrick film, so I was interested in seeing how it was different.

I really, really enjoyed the character development. You could really see that there were hidden issues inside of each of the characters and that the hotel really fed off of their problems. I absolutely loved Wendy and really found myself rooting for her the entire time.

Danny was such an intelligent little boy. I really loved his character as well and the insight into his thoughts while he was trying to understand the adult’s problems and thoughts.

In the movie, I feel like I never really but together that Danny’s “talent” was called shining. I vaguely remember Hallorann calling it the shine, but for some reason that just didn’t stand out to me, which I thought was interesting. I also never really felt like the hotel was after Danny in the movie, it just seemed like Jack was sort of stir crazy and needed a drink.

There were so many things in the movie that weren’t in the book and really surprised me. The creepy twins, the blood gushing from the elevator. I feel like both of these are very iconic and always what people think about when they think of The Shining, so it was interesting that they weren’t even part of the book.

The story was more creepy than scary, just gave me sort of an eerie feeling.

The ending was much better than in the movie, in my opinion. Instead of Jack freezing to death the hotel blew up and burned down completely. It’s more believable, I guess.

I also liked that it showed what happened to Danny, Wendy, and Hallorann at the end. I was glad that they all survived and sort of stayed a part of each other’s lives. I’m kind of interested in reading the sequel, but I don’t know if I’ll do that any time soon.

Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

After reading You, I absolutely had to know where the story would go.

I thought that it would be more about what happened to Joe after he killed Beck, how he was worried about the mug, the therapist, etc. There was a little about that and it was sort of interested, but for the most part it felt like this story wasn’t going anywhere.

After Beck, Joe dated Amy. Again there were obvious red flags with her, but he thought he was in love. She, of course, left him and stole from him. It made him feel like an idiot, so he decided to hunt her down.

I honestly would have preferred that the story just be about getting back at Amy. Instead he meets a woman named Love (completely ridiculous to literally name a character in this story love). I really have no idea why the author felt the need to distract him from everything else going on by having him fall in love with a character literally named Love. Then there’s a whole side story with her brother that I’m not even going to get into. It all just felt like a distraction.

The only purpose of Love is that Joe ends up confessing his crimes to her and she goes and gets the mug from the Salinger house. Honestly, I feel like there had to be a better way to get Joe in there to get that mug. It’s a bit of a stretch honestly.

It’s crazy too that she was just cool with his entire confession, all because she has a crazy brother. It was incredibly dumb and made me hate it honestly.

Eventually Joe runs into Amy, but it’s very anticlimactic. He just sees her and decides not to kill her because he’s in love with Love.

Joe finally gets caught at the end, but it doesn’t really come together well. There were just little things here and there, no real evidence was found against him. The part about Joe and Love having to figure out the answer to the police officer’s question was dumb.

Just overall, I wasn’t very happy with the storyline. It doesn’t feel like it was well thought out and it’s too complicated. There were also way too many celebrity name drops. It was almost like the author thought that the first season would get picked up as a tv show or movie so she wrote the second novel to see how many celebrities she could actually get into it.

I actually would not recommend this to anyone that liked the first book. I’m interested to see how true to the storyline the show will be in it’s second season. I hope they simplify it some.

You by Caroline Kepnes

Yet another Netflix inspired read! I promise I’ll start reading books that haven’t been made into movies or tv series eventually.

I’m so glad I read this one though. The book was 100% creepier than the show. Joe was so creepy and the worst kind of stalker. Watching Beck from outside her apartment, stealing her phone, reading her emails. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to find out someone was doing that to me.

As much as Joe creeped me out, Beck was honestly worse. She was a terrible person, so I didn’t care that Joe was so creepy toward her. I felt like she deserved it, or like it’s what she actually wanted.

I don’t want to victim blame, but Beck really didn’t care about anyone other than herself. She was miserable and wanted to make people around her miserable, and she expected these people to worship the ground she walks on.

I do really hate to say it, but I feel like she was just asking for something like this to happen to her and I think she actually enjoyed the drama of it all. She even mentions that she knew he had followed her, like she didn’t mind that he was stalking her from the beginning. It’s all pretty messed up honestly. As much as I didn’t like Joe I felt like he deserved better than Beck.

Beck definitely needed a better therapist because she clearly had a lot of issues that she needed to deal with.

The craziest thing is how relatable the story actually is. I thought to myself “how many times have I looked up someone I just met and stalked their social media accounts?”. We all do it.

You look at someone’s profile online and immediately make up your mind on if this is someone that you want to get to know better or not. I can definitely understand creating this image of someone in your head and what your future would look like together. I can understand the willingness to look past the bad stuff about them because you have this perfect future planned out.

It’s so crazy dating in a world with social media, especially with the jealousy and insecurity that it creates. I’ve been here. I spent two years trying to date someone who never gave me the attention that I craved from him. I would see him like other girls’ pictures when he never liked mine. It made me feel like shit about myself, but then also made me feel like it was a challenge. Like maybe if I did something differently it would get his attention. Why do we hold on to people who don’t want us?

This book definitely does a good job portraying how bad it can really get. I’m going to have to read the next book in the series now.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

I remember being little and watching The Haunting when it first came out in 1999. I’ve seen the movie about a million times since then and honestly can’t believe that I never knew it was a book.

It wasn’t until Netflix adapted it into a series that I realized it was based on the novel of the same name and absolutely decided that I had to read it. (Side note: Netflix is becoming a bit of a theme here isn’t it?)

The movie is definitely a closer adaptation of the book than the show was, but I feel like all three were done really well and told the story of Hill House.

I actually don’t think I’ve ever read a “horror” novel before, so this was a first. It was really creepy and I really liked the little scenes here and there that showed the house was haunted.

All of the characters had very strange, very different personalities. It was interesting to see how their personalities meshed together. It was obvious from the beginning that Nell was being affected by the house the most. I honestly was absolutely positive she was going to jump off that tower (probably because of Nell’s fate in the series).

The crash at the end happened pretty quickly, so I wasn’t sure that Nell had actually died. I hoped that she didn’t, or that if she did there would be a little bit about her ghost.

It’s super creepy how the house seems to consume the people in it. The series did a really good job showing that too.

I’m interested in seeing what the next season will be about since they’ve stated that it’ll be an entirely different storyline. It’s kind of sad honestly because I really fell in love with those characters, but it did have a good ending.

I did really like how there were subtle nods to things in the book in the series like the cup of stars, throwing rocks at the glass greenhouse, and the poem that the flapper woman recites.

Highly recommend the book if you’re a fan of the show. It was definitely worth the read.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

I definitely jumped on the Bird Box bandwagon when this movie first came out on Netflix. It was crazy how much it blew up on social media and how popular it became so quickly.

I really enjoyed the movie but there were a few things I had questions about, so I hoped that reading the book would explain everything better.

There were a lot of differences right off the bat. The story starts a lot slower, Malorie is living with her sister for awhile when it all starts happening around them and she saw an ad in the paper that mentioned a safe house. Definitely understand why they sped things up in the movie. I’m not sure it’s very believable that with all this panic going on someone took the time to go out and pay for an add in the newspaper.

The whole thing with Gary was really crazy, both in the movie and the book. I definitely liked how it was written better than how it was portrayed in the movie. It just didn’t make sense that he seemed normal and then was crazy out of nowhere. The book explains that he’s sort of immune to whatever is going on outside and believes that others can be immune too. That just makes more sense to me.

I can’t believe that after they kicked him out he was hiding in the attic and that Don was the one that pulled down all the curtains and blankets. I also can’t believe that everyone died and Malorie had the patience to wait that long by herself with babies before attempting to go down the river.

Ending at the school for the blind is definitely interesting. I’m curious why the author  chose to have people there who blinded themselves. It’s definitely understandable given the situation, and she understood because she almost blinded the babies. Maybe it makes her trust them because she could relate and they’re honest about it? Just felt like a weird detail to throw in at the end.