Tag Archives: The Longest Ride

Top 5 Favorite Nicholas Sparks Books

You might have already figured out that my favorite author of all time is Nicholas Sparks. I’ve read every single one of his books (some more than once) and can’t get enough of the stories he creates. So, today I want to share my top five favorite Nicholas Sparks Books.

#1 THE LAST SONG

6400090Seventeen year-old Veronica “Ronnie” Miller’s life was turned upside-down when her parents divorced and her father moved from New York City to Wilmington, North Carolina.

Three years later, she remains angry and alienated from her parents, especially her father… until her mother decides it would be in everyone’s best interest if she spent the summer in Wilmington with him.

Ronnie’s father, a former concert pianist and teacher, is living a quiet life in the beach town, immersed in creating a work of art that will become the centerpiece of a local church. The tale that unfolds is an unforgettable story about love in its myriad forms – first love, the love between parents and children – that demonstrates, as only a Nicholas Sparks novel can, the many ways that deeply felt relationships can break our hearts… and heal them. (Description from Goodreads)

#2 THE LONGEST RIDE

"The Longest Ride" by Nicholas SparksIra Levinson is in trouble. At ninety-one years old, in poor health 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 recounting the stories of their lifetime together – how they met, the precious paintings they collected together, the dark days of WWII and its effect on them and their families. Ira knows that Ruth can’t possibly be in the car with him, but he clings to her words and his memories, reliving the sorrows and everyday joys that defined their marriage.

A few miles away, at a local rodeo, 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, who bears little resemblance to the privileged frat boys she has encountered at school. Through Luke, Sophia is introduced to a world in which the stakes of survival and success, ruin and reward — 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 — a future that Luke has the power to rewrite . . . if the secret he’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: beyond despair, beyond death, to the farthest reaches of the human heart. (Description from Goodreads)

#3 THE NOTEBOOK

15931Set amid the austere beauty of the North Carolina coast, The Notebook begins with the story of Noah Calhoun, a rural Southerner recently returned form the Second World War. Noah is restoring a plantation home to its former glory, and he is haunted by images of the beautiful girl he met fourteen years earlier, a girl he loved like no other. Unable to find her, yet unwilling to forget the summer they spent together, Noah is content to live with only memories…until she unexpectedly returns to his town to see him once again.

Like a puzzle within a puzzle, the story of Noah and Allie is just the beginning. As it unfolds, their tale miraculously becomes something different, with much higher stakes. The result is a deeply moving portrait of love itself, the tender moments and the fundamental changes that affect us all. It is a story of miracles and emotions that will stay with you forever. (Description from Goodreads)

#4 NIGHTS IN RODANTHE

15926From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks comes a tender story of hope and joy; of sacrifice and forgiveness — a moving reminder that love is possible at any age, at any time, and often comes when we least expect it. At forty-five, Adrienne Willis must rethink her entire life when her husband abandons her for a younger woman.

Reeling with heartache and in search of a respite, she flees to the small coastal town of Rodanthe, North Carolina to tend to a friend’s inn for the weekend. But when a major storm starts moving in, it appears that Adrienne’s perfect getaway will be ruined — until a guest named Paul Flanner arrives. At fifty-four, Paul has just sold his medical practice and come to Rodanthe to escape his own shattered past. Now, with the storm closing in, two wounded people will turn to each other for comfort — and in one weekend set in motion feelings that will resonate throughout the rest of their lives. (Description from Goodreads)

#5 THE CHOICE

200709-the-choiceTravis Parker has everything a man could want: a good job, loyal friends, even a waterfront home in small-town North Carolina. In full pursuit of the good life — boating, swimming, and regular barbecues with his good-natured buddies — he holds the vague conviction that a serious relationship with a woman would only cramp his style. That is, until Gabby Holland moves in next door.

Despite his attempts to be neighborly, the appealing redhead seems to have a chip on her shoulder about him…and the presence of her longtime boyfriend doesn’t help. Despite himself, Travis can’t stop trying to ingratiate himself with his new neighbor, and his persistent efforts lead them both to the doorstep of a journey that neither could have foreseen.

Spanning the eventful years of young love, marriage and family, The Choice ultimately confronts us with the most heartwrenching question of all: how far would you go to keep the hope of love alive? (Description from Goodreads)

What are you favorite Nicholas Sparks books?

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Book vs Movie | The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks

The-Longest-Ride-Review-thiscuriousthing

The Longest Ride is one of my favorite Nicholas Sparks books. The combination of two different love stories, in two different time periods, is what puts it in my top 5 books he’s written.

There are many people who believe books are always better than the movie (I usually agree), but I thought the book and the movie of The Longest Ride we equally great.

So I wanted to share the three major differences between The Longest Ride book and movie.

IRA’S RESCUE 

scott eastwood and britt robertson THE LONGEST RIDE-

Ira’s rescue is what causes a chain reaction of differences between the book and the movie. In the book, Ira crashes down an embankment during a snowy night and is wounded and stuck in his truck. While inside he imagines that his late wife is talking to him, telling him to think back to certain moments in their life together. This was Ira’s way of holding on until someone found him. Sophia and Luke don’t find Ira until close to the end of the book.

The movie, on the other hand, has a much more dramatic rescue. Sophia and Luke rescue Ira when they were heading back from their first date. They pulled Ira out of his truck right before it burst into flames and rushed him to the hospital. The rescue was much more dramatic than the book portrayed it.

This difference worked though because the movie made it much more believable than if we had to watch Ira talking to his deceased wife. It also worked because it led to a different storyline between Ira and Sophia. Which leads me to the next difference.

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN IRA & SOPHIA

alan alda _britt robertson THE LONGEST RIDE

In the book, Sophia and Ira didn’t really know each other. Sophia only read his letter to him once when he was in the hospital. This was the only interaction she had with Ira in the book. With that being said, I really enjoyed that the movie gave Ira and Sophia a chance to get to know each other.

She visited him often in the movie and was able to hear the story between him and his wife first hand; both by reading Ira’s letters and listening to him talk about the life he had with Ruth. This added so much more to the movie and I actually preferred this storyline than what was written in the book.

SOPHIA’S EX BOYFRIEND

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Sophia has an ex boyfriend in the book named Brian. You can tell he’s a total tool and is extremely jealous of Luke. Both Luke and Brian get into a few fights in the book. However, the movie completely removed this character and honestly, I was fine with that. Brian was a total jerk and it would have taken away from the Ira/Sophia relationship in the movie.

Well, those are the major differences I noticed between The Longest Ride book and movie. Even though there were some big differences, both the book and movie were amazing! Nicholas Sparks really knows how to create a story and he has a great team that makes his stories come alive on screen.

Photo Links: Book vs Movie Photo, Ira’s Rescue, Relationship Between Ira & Sophie

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Book Review: “The Longest Ride” by Nicholas Sparks

Ok, so I may be a bit biased with my first official book review because #1: I’m a hopeless romantic and #2: I’m a die hard Nicholas Sparks fan.  But I’m still going to review the heck out of this book

“The Longest Ride” Book Review

“The Longest Ride” tells the story of two couples in North Carolina.  The first is about Ira Levinson, an old widow who became stranded after crashing his truck down an embankment.  While struggling to stay alive he relives the memories of his late wife Ruth and we get to experience the love they had and how they came to spend their lives together.

The second follows the story of a young couple Sophia Danko, a college senior at Wake Forest University,  and Luke Collins, a cowboy and Champion bull rider.  After meeting during a rodeo after-party, they begin to fall in love, but both have different paths and their love is tested.  They have life decisions to make and put them aside until they finally have to face them.

This book shows you the beginning and end of life with another person.  It’s like the “I Do” and “Till Death Do Us Part” combined into one book.  It’s about making memories and looking back on them for comfort and joy.  It’s about sacrifices a person makes in order to make a relationship work.

***

While the book seemed to be primarily about Sophia and Luke, I really enjoyed Ira’s story.  It’s sad how he’s remembering his wife while trying to stay alive long enough for someone to find him, but the stories told about their life together makes me feel that true love really does last forever.

At ninety-one, the crash left him with injuries that made him immobile and struggling to stay awake.  This is when his subconscious brings his beloved wife, Ruth, back to him.  Ruth asks him to tell her about significant moments in their lives like when they met, when Ira went to war, his proposal, and their honeymoon.  All in an effort for him to hold on just a bit longer because he still had unfinished business to do.

*Spoilers Ahead

The more I read about Ira, the more I realized that it’s the simple things in life that are important.  I think this is one reason Ira was one of my favorite characters.  The relationship he had with Ruth seemed real, not some fairytale romance.  There were ups and downs, but Ira and Ruth worked through even the toughest of times.  This is something that many marriages fail to do these days…fight to keep love alive.  

There were two significant times during Ira and Ruth’s relationship that truly tested them.  The first is when Ira returned home from serving in WWII.  Before going off to war he had proposed to Ruth and it was completely lacking romance.  Not in the sense that Nicholas Sparks didn’t add enough romance to the proposal, but Sparks created Ira as a man who has a tough time being romantic, which is how many men are.  However, even seemingly unromantic men can surprise you.  Keep that in mind when you read this book.

Ira had returned home as a wounded solider.  He was in the hospital for a few weeks recovery from gun shot wounds during an air raid.  Doctors thought he wouldn’t survive especially since he developed peritonitis and had a severe fever for thirteen days.  When he returned, he broke off the engagement to Ruth.  Of course Ruth was heartbroken…what woman wouldn’t be?  She didn’t understand why he had made this decision, but months later he finally told her.

Due to the peritonitis it was likely he couldn’t have children.  Ira knew that having a child was something Ruth really wanted in the future and he didn’t want to deprive her of that.  He thought the right thing to do was to let her move on with someone that could give her exactly what she wanted.  This is when Ruth had to make the decision to stay or go…she stayed.

Ira should have told Ruth right from the beginning the reason they shouldn’t get married.  It’s worse to leave a woman in the dark because she wonders, what did I do wrong?  But I also see Ira’s side of the story.  It’s a painful feeling knowing you can’t give someone you love exactly what they want.  But I was glad that he finally had the courage to tell her, considering how much he loved her.

The second most trying moment for Ira and Ruth was many many years later.  They still had no children and Ruth was a school teacher where children came from very poor families.  That’s where she met Daniel who became the son she never had.  They were contemplating adopting Daniel, but after coming home from their yearly anniversary trip Daniel was gone and she never found out where he had been taken.  It’s not until much later in the book that you find out.  Ruth took this terribly and their marriage was in turmoil.  Ira thought that it was ending between them.

But they made it…

What you don’t know yet, about Ira and Ruth, is they had started collecting art pieces during their first honeymoon.  They would take a yearly trip to Black Mountain College or exhibits in various places, where they would buy artwork from young upcoming artists.  By the time Ira was stranded in his truck he was worth millions and millions of dollars based on their art collection.  This is an important part of the ending because Ira and Ruth never sold one painting….they kept them.  That meant Ira had to decide where they would go once he was gone.

Now, I want to turn the attention over to Sophia and Luke.  I believe they embody what being a young couple is about.  Everyone has been in the phase when you try to spend as much time as possible together because it’s so new and exciting.  That’s what was going on with Sophia and Luke.  But they both had things that troubled them.  Sophia was worried about school and what would happen after she graduated. 

From personal experience, when you’re in college things are really put into perspective about where you want your life to be going.  Sophia was no different.  She was starting her senior year as an art history major and wanted to end up working in a museum.  Sophia’s struggles are like many college students preparing to graduate.  Studying for finals, applying for jobs or internships, and essentially dealing with the fear of the unknown because nobody ever really knows what will happen after graduation.

Luke is on the complete opposite spectrum of Sophia..but there’s a phrase “opposites attract”.  He never went to college and had no plans to go in the future.  All he knew was farming and bull riding because that’s how he grew up.  Tending to cattle, growing and harvesting pumpkins, and bailing hay were just some of the daily chores Luke grew up doing.  He was also a very good bull rider.  He was well known in the sport, but a little over a year before he met Sophia, Luke had a terrible accident.  When Luke finally told Sophia just how serious this accident was she gave him an ultimatum.  He had to choose between Sophia and riding.

I did understand the internal struggle Luke had with this because he wasn’t riding again for the glory.  He was riding so that his mother wouldn’t lose the farm.  The money he won helped pay bills that were overdue and mortgage payments that would eventually double.  It was like he had to choose between Sophia and his mother.  Sophia did have a good reason to give Luke an ultimatum.  Riding would most certainly kill him.  Bull riding is dangerous to begin with, but the injuries he sustained a year before increased his chances of death substantially.  This is why I believe Sophia made the right decision.

Thankfully, right before an important ride, Luke makes the decision…he chooses Sophia.

I know you’re probably wondering if Ira makes it, which was what I was thinking through most of the book.  A good thing because it kept me on my toes and wanting to read more.  I’m going to tell you that yes, Ira does make it and guess who found him….Sophia and Luke.

Ira didn’t last too much longer…but he asked Sophia to do one thing for him.  He asked her to read a letter that he had written to his wife.  This is when I was tearing up.

Now, I don’t want to give away the ending, but I will say that you may or may not know what’s coming.  I certainly figured out what was coming, but that didn’t take away from how sweet it was.  I will say that you shouldn’t forget about the large estate of paintings Ira had left.

In the end, everyone got what they needed and things turned out right.  While Ira did pass on, he was able to join Ruth again…something he truly wanted.  Luke got more than he ever dreamed of, which would change his life and that of Sophia’s forever.

All four main characters, Ira, Ruth, Luke, and Sophia were giving up something in order to have something worth so much more….the chance to have a life filled with love and happiness.  I believe this is what the book was striving for.

Favorite Quotes:

“If we’d never met, I think I would have known my life wasn’t complete. And I would have wandered the world in search of you, even if I didn’t know who I was looking for.”

“After all, if there is a heaven, we will find each other again, for there is no heaven without you.”

“His voice, even now, follows me everywhere on this longest of rides, this thing called life.”

“Remember me with joy, for this is how I always thought of you. That is what I want, more than anything. I want you to smile when you think of me. And in your smile, I will live forever.”

“Sophia, after all, was the real treasure he’d found this year, worth more to him than all the art in the world.”

Overall Rating

From a scale of 1-10 I give “The Longest Ride” a 9.  This book didn’t have as much of an emotional impact on me as others he has written, like “The Last Song”.  I literally was bawling reading that book, but this one is still very good.  I would recommend this book to those who enjoy love stories and are hopeless romantics like myself.

 Let me know what you think or if you have any book recommendations by leaving a comment.

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