CONTAINS SPOILERS!

Addition: Library hardback

Genre: Romance

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

When a mysterious young woman named Katie appears in the small North Carolina town of Southport, her sudden arrival raises questions about her past. Beautiful yet self-effacing, Katie seems determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships: one with Alex, a widowed store owner with a kind heart and two young children; and another with her plainspoken single neighbor, Jo.

Despite her reservations, Katie slowly begins to let down her guard, putting down roots in the close-knit community and becoming increasingly attached to Alex and his family.

But even as Katie begins to fall in love, she struggles with the dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her . . . a past that set her on a fearful, shattering journey across the country, to the sheltered oasis of Southport. With Jo’s empathic and stubborn support, Katie eventually realizes that she must choose between a life of transient safety and one of riskier rewards . . . and that in the darkest hour, love is the only true safe haven.

I am really glad I noticed this in the library. This is the latest novel from Nicholas Sparks and it is up to his usual high standard. We see love, fear, friendship, family and a controversial issue of domestic abuse.

The story follows Katie, a new girl to the small town of Southport. She turns up hungry, thin and desperate. She catches the eye of Alex, not only because she is beautiful, but because she looks scared. Alex used to be in the CID department of the Army and had learnt to read people – he saw the fear, although he didn’t know what she was running from. Slowly Katie gets ingrained in the small town, working in the famous diner and regularly shopping at Alex’s store. When his son falls into the canal, Katie is there to comfort his daughter – which starts their friendship. Another person who befriends Katie is her new neighbour Jo. Between Jo and Alex they bring Katie out of her shell and eventually, as she falls in love with Alex, she reveals what she is running from. The story follows her and Alex as they fall in love and Katie slips into the family, spending time with Alex and his children. She is being hunted however, and life might not always be happy or safe.

The blurb hints at a dark secret , but it doesn’t take long to see this is domestic abuse and that she is running from her husband. Around halfway through the book Katie reveals her real name and tells the story of her marriage, and her husband Kevin. What I liked is that after that we then follow Kevin’s story as well. We see what happens to him once he realises Katie is gone, his thoughts and feelings and his actions. I was intrigued that he regularly quoted Bible verses, even when he was in the wrong – it showed a very confused man. However, this does not excuse his actions. I did like that both sides of the story were told, it added depth and meaning to the story.

I liked the characters, especially Katie and Alex. I loved how delicate they were at the beginning, Katie because of her husband and Alex because of the death of his wife. They were careful and I liked how they didn’t just jump into a relationship, especially as there were small children involved. I was impressed that even though Katie had left Kevin she refused to sleep with Alex because she was still married. I thought Sparks was right to do that – it added integrity to the book and characters.

The ending of the book was so exciting! Kevin came and chased Katie. I was hooked and couldn’t put the book down once he discovered where she was. The ending was tense, but really good. There was a twist that I didn’t see coming and I enjoyed the ending. I was satisfied and gripped until the end.

This is a great book. The ending was fast moving and the storyline was lovely. I think Sparks dealt with the issue of domestic abuse and death very well. The characters were so easy to like and I was hooked to this book. I can’t recommend this book enough.

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I’ve just been to the library and took out:

  • The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern
  • The True History of Paradise by Margaret Cezair-Thompson
  • Before We Say Goodbye by Louise Candlish
  • Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

Has anyone read these books? Are they good?

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I saw these questions over at The Diary of a Domestic Goddess, and thought I would answer them too!

1. Who is your all-time favourite author, and why?

My favourite all time author is Roald Dahl. I love his books. They gave me hours of entertainment when I was small, and now keep me entertained as an adult. I’m currently re-reading James and the Giant Peach, and I’m laughing, and I’m gripped, and I love the illustrations by Quentin Blake. I don’t think it is possible to be too old to enjoy Roald Dahl, I love him.

2. Who was your first favourite author, and why?  Do you still consider him or her among your favourites?


Enid Blyton. I loved everything of hers that I read. I loved The Magic Faraway Tree, and remember my Mum reading that to me and my brother – and the Secret Seven, the Famous Five, Mallory Towers…the list goes on. I loved them all! I always found myself wanting to live in those books! I haven’t read any of these books in a long time, but I really want to – I’m sure I would still love them. I think I would still put Enid Elyton as a favourite author because of the memories I have of reading her books and really enjoying them.

3. Who’s the most recent addition to your list of favourite authors, and why?

Sarah Dessen. I discovered her when I was blogging about young adult books. Every one of her books that I have read I have loved. I found her gripping, entertaining, touching, realistic and just fantastic. I read Just Listen first and it blew me away. I haven’t found a bad book by her yet – thankfully!

4. If someone asked you who your favourite authors were right now, which authors would first pop out of your mouth?  Are there any you’d add on a moment of further reflection?


Terry Pratchett, CS Lewis, Sarah Dessen, Erica James, Wendy Virgo, Philippa Gregory, Roald Dahl. After some thought… Enid Blyton, Ben Elton, Dorothy Koomson, Beatrix Potter, A A Milne, Mark Driscoll, Debbie Macomber, Elizabeth Noble, Nicholas Sparks, Sophie Kinsella, Stephanie Meyer, JK Rowling, Andrew Wilson and Jane Austen I think.

5. Which “unknown” author do you recommend to people most often?

Probably Wendy Virgo. She writes theology books, mainly for women and I love her. I wrote a Recommended Author post about her. The books are easy to read, engaging and for me, life changing. I think everyone should read her books.

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I’m gutted to put this down as Nicholas Sparks is one of my favourite authors but for no real reason I just cannot get into this book.

Synopsis:

As a science journalist with a regular column in Scientific American, Jeremy Marsh specializes in debunking the supernatural and has a real nose for the strange and unusual. A born skeptic, he travels to the small town of Boone Creek, North Carolina, determined to find the real cause behind the ghostly apparitions that appear in the town cemetery. What he doesn’t plan on, however, is meeting and falling hopelessly in love with Lexie Darnell, granddaughter of the town psychic. Now, if the young lovers are to have any kind of future at all, Jeremy must make a difficult choice: return to the life he knows, or do something he could never do before-take a giant leap of faith.

Like I said, there is nothing glaringly obvious that caused me to struggle with this book, and I imagine if I was to pick this up in a few months time I would enjoy it, but as a firm believer in there being too many books to read to waste your time with one you don’t get on with, I have chosen to put this one aside as I just cannot get into it. Gutted, but such is life.

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Synopsis:

Set amid the austere beauty of the North Carolina coast, Nicholas Sparks tells the story of Travis Parker, a small-town veterinarian who’s perfectly content with the active and exciting life he leads. Since he uses his spare time bungee jumping and swimming with the dolphins, he can’t shake the belief that a woman would simply slow him down. That is, until Gabby Holland enters his life.

Gabby, Travis’s new neighbor, is in love with her boyfriend of three years, and wants nothing more than to start planning the wedding she’s always dreamed about. However, there is a story within a story and the connection between Travis and Gabby is just a beginning. As their tale unfolds, their relationship becomes something different–with much higher stakes. With echoes of THE NOTE BOOK abound, listeners everywhere will fall in love.

This is the second Nicholas Sparks book I have read, and it was what drew me to this other books, all of which I have loved. The story is set around Gabby, a new woman in the neighbourhood and her neighbour Travis. Their relationship starts badly, but Travis is patient and their relationship develops, and helps Gabby make new friends in the town. The story then jumps to the present day and their current situation, which broke my heart…

Sparks is a wonderful writer – engaging, amusing and writes realistic stories that are full of life, pain and joy. I was gripped right from the start. I loved watching Travis and Gabby’s relationship develop – from neighbours, to friends to more. The description of outings, the scenery and the fun and friendship were gorgeous. My favourite part was when they were out in Travis’s boat with his friends and their children. It was lovely to read.

I really liked both Gabby and Travis. I could relate to and empathise with both, and I felt myself willing the best for both of them. That said, my favourite character was Steph, Travis’s sister. She was forward, fun and wanted the best for everyone. She was there when Travis needed her and she came across as someone I would like to be friends with. I don’t think there was a character I didn’t like – Sparks writes people who I want to know and who I like reading about.

Yes, in true Sparks fashion there is a twist at the end. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting and it bought tears to my eyes. I liked  how Sparks played out the situation. I found my heart breaking, then relief washing over me, I almost cried at one point, and overall, felt satisfied with the read. This book really played on my emotions, it was great. Top marks and a big recommendation from me.

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Synopsis:

After thirty years of marriage, Wilson Lewis, son-in-law of Allie and Noah Calhoun (of The Notebook), is forced to admit that the romance has gone out of his marriage. Desperate to win back his wife, Jane’s, heart, he must figure out how to make her fall in love with him… again. Despite the shining example of Allie and Noah’s marriage, Wilson is himself a man unable to easily express his emotions. A successful estate attorney, he has provided well for his family, but now, with his daughter’s upcoming wedding, he is forced to face the fact that he and Jane have grown apart and he wonders if she even loves him anymore. Wilson is sure of one thing–his love for his wife has only deepened and intensified over the years. Now, with the memories of his in-laws’ magnificent fifty-year love affair as his guide, Wilson struggles to find his way back into the heart of the woman he adores.

As the synopsis states, this is the follow up book to The Notebook. At first, when I saw that there was a sequel, I was unsure as to how that would work (if you have read The Notebook I’m sure you will understand my questioning) but I was satisfied with this book.

The story does not follow Allie and Noah, but their son-in-law Wilson. He is hard-working , to the point where he has seemingly neglected his family. He wanted to provide them with a great life, but that meant he missed parties and sporting events, and worked very late most days. This seemed fine until he forgot his wedding anniversary. This woke him up to the fact his marriage was strained and his wife was sad. This caused him to try and change his ways – and is helped by his daughter announcing that she is getting married. This gives him an opportunity to repair his marriage.

The more Nicholas Sparks novels I read, the more I love him as an author. However, this is not my favourite of his works. I found this book started slowly, and it took a while to get going. By halfway through though, I had warmed up to Wilson and I loved all he was doing for Jane. The surprise at the end was gorgeous, and I sat there with a warmed heart and a smile on my face.

I did like Jane, and felt sorry for her and felt her pain; although I did think that if she was unhappy she should have spoken out. I took some time to warm up to Wilson but I started to like him the more I read. I thought their relationship was sweet – especially in the beginning when Wilson was shy and sensible. This might be heresy to say, but I preferred Noah in this novel than I did in The Notebook. He was wise and loving in this novel, whereas I found him a bit desperate in The Notebook.

This is a lovely romance novel. It is not a long book and worth reading if you like a heart warming, satisfying story. Nicholas Sparks is a great writer and I will be reading more of his novels.

This is the first novel completed in my 2010 Summer Romance Challenge

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I read 11 books in May:

John Piper: Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Save
Sarah Dessen: Just Listen
Vikas Swarup: Q & A
Nicholas Sparks: The Choice
Jessica Green: The Diary of a Would-Be Princess
Terry Pratchett: The Wee Free Men
Dorothy Koomson: The Ice-Cream Girls
Neil Gaimon: Stardust
Mary Naylus: The Dresskeeper
Erica James: The Queen of New Beginnings
Sarah Dessen: The Truth About Forever

I don’t think I read a bad book last month, which is always a pleasure.

Review Books:

The Dresskeeper

Library Books:

It seems that most of the books this month came from the library:

Sarah Dessen: Just Listen
Vikas Swarup: Q & A
Nicholas Sparks: The Choice
Jessica Green: The Diary of a Would-Be Princess
Dorothy Koomson: The Ice-Cream Girls
Neil Gaimon: Stardust
Erica James: The Queen of New Beginnings
Sarah Dessen: The Truth About Forever

Audiobooks:

I love audiobooks! Am listening to one as I type in fact:

John Piper: 50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Save
Terry Pratchett: The Wee Free Men

Young Adult Books


As you know I am a reviewer on the Pretty Little Young Adult Books site, and here are the books I read for the site:

Sarah Dessen: Just Listen
Jessica Green: The Diary of a Would-Be Princess
Neil Gaimon: Stardust
Sarah Dessen: The Truth About Forever

New Authors:

This month I have discovered one new author, who I now love! It is:

Sarah Dessen

Top-Rated Books

Here is the most important part of the month round-up. These are my favourite reads of May:

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

The Ice-Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson

The Queen of New Beginnings by Erica James

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

All in all, this has been a good month!

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