Friday, March 5, 2010

THE LAST SONG: REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

GIVEAWAY ENDED
THE LAST
SONG

BY NICHOLAS SPARKS

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Seventeen year old Veronica "Ronnie" Miller's life was turned upside-down when her parents divorced and her father moved from New York City to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Three years later, she remains angry and alientated 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 movie adaption hits theaters March 31, 2010.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Nicholas Charles Sparks was born in Omaha, Nebraska on December 31, 1965. As a child, he lived in Minnesota, Los Angeles, and Grand Island, Nebraska, finally settling in Fair Oaks, California at the age of eight. He lived in Fair Oaks through high school, graduated valedictorian in 1984, and received a full track scholarship to the University of Notre Dame.

After breaking the Notre Dame school record as part of a relay team in 1985 as a freshman (a record which still stands), he was injured and spent the summer recovering. During that summer, he wrote his first novel, though it was never published. He majored in Business Finance and graduated with high honors in 1988.

He and his wife Catherine, who met on spring break in 1988, were married in July, 1989. While living in Sacramento, he wrote his second novel that same year, though again, it wasn't published. In 1990, he collaborated on a book with Billy Mills, the Olympic Gold Medalist and it was published by Feather Publishing before later being picked up by Random House. (It was recently re-issued by Hay House Books.) Though it received scant publicity, sales topped 50,000 copies in the first year of release.

He began selling pharmaceuticals and moved from Sacramento, California to North Carolina in 1992. In 1994, at the age of 28, he wrote The Notebook over a period of six months. In October, 1995, rights to The Notebook were sold to Warner Books. It was published in October, 1996, and he followed that with Message in a Bottle (1998), A Walk to Remember (1999), The Rescue (2000), A Bend in the Road (2001), and Nights in Rodanthe (2002), The Guardian (2003), The Wedding (2003), Three Weeks with my Brother (2004), True Believer (2005), At First Sight (2005), Dear John (2006), The Choice (2007), and The Lucky One (2008). All were domestic and international best sellers and were translated into more than 40 languages. His newest book, The Last Song will be made into a movie starring Miley Cyrus, in theaters in 2010.

The movie version of Message in a Bottle was released in 1999, A Walk to Remember was released in 2002, and The Notebook was released in 2004. The average domestic box office gross per film was $56 million -- with another $100 million in DVD sales—making the novels by Nicholas Sparks one of the most successful franchises in Hollywood. The film version of Nights in Rodanthe was released in the fall of 2008 and starred Diane Lane and Richard Gere. Forthcoming movie adaptations of Nicholas Sparks' books include Dear John, The Lucky One and The Last Song.

Nichols Sparks is an avid athlete who runs daily, lifts weights regularly, and competes in Tae Kwon Do. He attends church regularly and reads approximately 125 books a year. He contributes to a variety of local and national charities, and is a major contributor to the Creative Writing Program (MFA) at the University of Notre Dame, where he provides scholarships, internships, and a fellowship annually.

He lives in North Carolina with his wife and children.

REVIEW:

Nicholas Sparks once again takes readers to a gorgeous North Carolina beach for a love story whose main theme is love and relationships within a family. Ronnie Miller who is approaching her 18th birthday when her mother decides it is important that she spend time with her father. Thus, she is sent with her ten-year-old brother, Jonah, to spend the summer at the beach with him.

Veronica “Ronnie” Miller is furious at having to leave her “gothic” friends while her mother’s disapproval of Ronnie’s peers and activities, including an arrest for shoplifting, is the major reason she made the decision. Ronnie has never gotten over her parents’ divorce. Her father, Steve, taught piano at Julliard and his being on the road for concerts and appearances was a major factor in the break-up. Ronnie learned to play piano from Steve, but her musical training stopped when he left. Because of all this, Ronnie blames him for all her problems and hasn’t spoken to him since he left. Jonah, on the other hand, is very excited to be able to be with his father. He is a cute kid and adds some comic relief to the story as well as some poignant moments.

Upon arrival in North Carolina, Ronnie gets involved with the wrong crowd when she meets Blaze, whose rebellious nature makes Ronnie seem tame. Ronnie is drawn to the excitement and not until Blaze turns on her, does Ronnie realize the bad choices she is making. The story wouldn’t be complete without a “bad boy” for Ronnie to take up with, and Marcus fills that spot perfectly. He is trouble with a capital T! The other major character is Will, a clean-cut volleyball player, who falls hard for Ronnie but at first, she ignores him. Will doesn’t have it as perfect as it seems either as he also has secrets of his own to hide.

When Ronnie makes an amazing discovery on the beach, it not only brings her closer to her father, but opens things up for a relationship with Will. As Ronnie begins to soften around Will, she also realizes her father has asked them to come for the summer for a more significant reason than just a get-away from home.

Can Ronnie and her dad be reunited by the one thing they have in common - their piano-playing skills? Or, is their relationship beyond repair? As the characters’ lives come together and secrets are uncovered, the somewhat predictable plot is spelled out. However, the path that Ronnie takes with her dad is the only thing that can provide resolution and salvation, and therefore, bring the story full circle to its conclusion.

READING GROUP GUIDE:

1. Ronnie is a difficult teenager who is prone to acting out and is alienated from both her parents at the start of the novel. Were you rebellious as a teenager? How was this manifested? On the other side, have you ever had to deal with a rebellious teenager? Did Ronnie’s behavior touch a nerve?

2. What do you think about the very different approaches to parenting taken by Ronnie’s mother and father? Do you think Ronnie’s mother is too intrusive or can you understand her relationship with Ronnie? Do you think Ronnie’s father is too absent, or can you understand why the relationship is the way it is?

3. Early in the novel we learn that Ronnie was a piano prodigy who performed at Carnegie Hall when she was thirteen. However, when we meet Ronnie she hasn’t played in many years and she’s sworn to never play the piano again. Why does Ronnie feel this way? Who do you think Ronnie hurts more by not playing the piano, herself or her father?

4. Reflecting back on his life, Steve wonders: “Was it still possible for someone like him to experience the presence of God?” Why does Steve ask himself this? What role do religion and belief play in this novel? How would you characterize Steve’s religious faith?

5. Why does Will fall for Ronnie? Can you understand the attraction from both Ronnie’s and Will’s point of view?

6. What do you make of Blaze? How would you characterize her relationship with Marcus? Have you ever been in a relationship that was not particularly healthy? Did you stay in the relationship? If so, why?

7. Ronnie and Will fall in love very quickly over the course of the summer. Have you ever had a summer romance that became something more than a fling?

8. This novel is, in large part, about loyalty and trust. Which characters exhibit the most trustworthiness and which exhibit the least? How does a betrayal of trust affect various relationships within the novel?

9. In the middle of the novel, Will asks Ronnie how far she would go to protect a friend. Why does Will ask Ronnie this? How far would you go to protect a friend?

10. How are Jonah and Ronnie affected by their parents’ divorce? What effect does divorce have on children, in your experience?

11. Both Will and Ronnie come from families that have certain expectations of them. How do these familial expectations shape them and in what ways do they reject these expectations?

12. Why does Ronnie get angry at Will toward the end of the novel? Do you think her anger is justified?

13. What do you think of the choices Steve and Kim make as parents? Do you think they were right in keeping certain things secret from their children?

14. Ronnie makes an important choice at the end of the novel. Would you have made the same choice if you were in her position?

15. In what ways does Ronnie change over the course of the novel? In what ways does she stay the same?


GIVEAWAY

THANKS TO VALERIE AND THE
HACHETTE
BOOK GROUP, I HAVE
5 COPIES OF THIS
WONDERFUL
BOOK TO GIVE AWAY. HERE IS
WHAT
YOU NEED TO DO TO WIN A COPY!



***U.S. RESIDENTS ONLY THIS TIME!
***NO P. O. BOXES
***INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS
IN CASE YOU WIN!
***ALL COMMENTS MUST BE SEPARATE TO
COUNT AS MORE THAN ONE!

HOW TO ENTER:

+1 ENTRY: COMMENT ON ANY OF NICHOLAS SPARKS BOOKS YOU HAVE READ, OR ONE YOU WOULD LIKE TO READ, BY VISITING HIS WEBSITE HERE

+1 MORE ENTRY:
COMMENT ON THE REVIEW OR READING GUIDE TO TELL SOMETHING THIS BOOK IS ABOUT


+1 MORE ENTRY: BLOG OR TWEET ABOUT THIS GIVEAWAY AND LEAVE A LINK I CAN FOLLOW

ALL ENTRIES ARE DUE
BY 6 PM,
EST, MARCH 22!

GOOD LUCK TO ALL!

60 comments:

rubynreba said...

The movie will be out on March 31, 2010 and stars Miley Cyrus.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

rubynreba said...

I have read The Notebook.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

Debbie said...

I am interested in this book being set on the North Carolina coast since we used to live there.

Debbie said...

I haven't read any (sorry!) but I'd like to read Dear John.

bermudaonion said...

Sparks' books are predictable, but they're still fun to read. (He actually lived in the neighborhood across the street from ours when The Notebook was published.) No need to enter me - I have the book.

skkorman said...

I've read several of Sparks's books, but "The Notebook" is my absolute favorite!

skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

lovely miss lucy(: said...

I want to read THE NOTEBOOK!

Lucy
delightfulreviews[at]gmail[dot]com

lovely miss lucy(: said...

Great contest!

Lucy
delightfulreviews[at]gmail[dot]com

LoveMy2Dogs said...

Oh, Nicholas Sparks...love him!!

I have read Message In a Bottle, The Notebook, Dear John, The Guardian and others. He is just an amazing writer.

jrandtam[at]columbus.rr.com

Bethie said...

Please count me in. I love Nicholas Sparks. I jsut finished Dear John and loved it. My friends and I keep trying to get together to see the movie, but just can't settle on a day.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Bethie said...

This is about Ronnie and her relationship with her parents.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

LoveMy2Dogs said...

Tweeted

http://twitter.com/lovemy2doggies/status/10027106957

jrandtam[at]columbus.rr.com

LoveMy2Dogs said...

Great review, it has me wanting to read it even more before the movie comes out. Sounds to me like Ronnie is attracted to the bad boy types and needs someone who will love her for her.

jrandtam[at]columbus.rr.com

amanda18228 said...

I have read most of his books and I love them.
amandarwest at gmaildotcom

holdenj said...

I think for the type of book it is, the reading guide seems very all-encomapssing.
JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

holdenj said...

The only one I've read is The Lucky One and I liked it.
JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

CrystalGB said...

I have read The Notebook, A Walk to Remember and A Message in a Bottle. All great books.

Crystal816[at]hotmail[dot}com

Sandee61 said...

I've read almost all of Nicholas's books and watched the movies based on some of them. I'd love to be entered in your giveaway for The Last Song. I haven't read or seen the movie for it yet and really want to. Thank you!

I'm a subscriber.

Sandee61

Muzzley56[at]aol[dot]com

Lisa R said...

I've read "The Notebook" & "Message in a Bottle". And have seen the "Notebook" probably 2 dozen times.


alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

Lisa R said...

bloogged about contest
http://lisaslovesbooksofcourse.blogspot.com/2010/03/bookin-with-bingo-last-song-review-and.html?zx=4cff39ee24f795a

alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

Lisa R said...

As I live in North Carolina and visit Wrightsville Beach every summer it will be interesting to see how many places I recognize.

alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

Linda Kish said...

I enjoyed A Walk to Remember


lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

Ronnie Miller has a strained relationship with her father..did not talk to him for 3 years and blamed him for all of her bad choices. She is sent to visit him before she turns 18 and she comes to rebuild a relationship with him.


lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Virginia said...

I have the audio book of Dear John and loved it. I would love to read this one.

lead[at]hotsheet[dot]com

Virginia said...

I am really interested in reading this book because it is set on the North Carolina Coast! I have been through North Carolina but never on the coast and since I travel in books it would be a great way to visit the coast!

lead[at]hotsheet[dot]com

Misusedinnocence said...

I loved The Notebook.

misusedinnocence@aol.com

Misusedinnocence said...

I love that so much of the book takes place in North Carolina.

misusedinnocence@aol.com

g.g. said...

The Notebook is one but I have read so many of his books

anjamie4 AT gmail DOT com

g.g. said...

The review and questions sound like Ronnie needed to get away to a different parent and better influences

anjamie AT gmail DOT com

Wickdogg said...

Sparks sure loves North Carolina especially the beaches

wickdogg at gmaildot com

Wickdogg said...

I read Nights as Rodanth and Message in a Bottle

wickdogg at gmaildot com

Colleen Turner said...

The movie stares Miley Cyrus (reallly?).
Thanks!
Colleen
candc320@gmail.com

Colleen Turner said...

I have read Dear John and a Walk to Remember. A Walk to Remember made me cry out loud, so read with some tissues!!!
Thanks!
Colleen
candc320@gmail.com

traveler said...

I read the Notebook. Thanks for this giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

Interesting review which sounds compelling. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

ossmcalc said...

I would like to read THREE WEEKS WITH MY BROTHER. I have always wanted to spend some time alone with my two sisters as we are so far apart in age and never really got to know each other like I would like to.

Thank you,

Christine
womackcm@sbcglobal.net

ossmcalc said...

I think that it is interesting that Ronnie was a child prodigee at playing the piano and then hasn't played for years. The question raised was who is hurt more by this act - Ronnie or her father. This will be interesting to me for personal reasons as to how this plays out in the book.

Thank you,

Christine
womackcm@sbcglobal.net

ossmcalc said...

I tweeted about this giveaway http://twitter.com/ossmcalc/status/10087108542

Thank you,

Christine
womackcm@sbcglobal.net

Francine said...

I have read The Notebook and loved it.

fmd518(at)gmail(dot)com

bison61 said...

The only one I have read is The Notebook

tiramisu392 (at) yahoo.com

Boo Bear's Place said...

I have read just about all of his books, he is one of my favorite authors. I've read the notebook, message in the bottle, the wedding, bend in the road, and several others

ezziriah(At)gmail(DOT)com

Boo Bear's Place said...

the book is about a teenaged girl visiting her father that she hasn;t seen in awhile.

Boo Bear's Place said...

http://twitter.com/BoosPlace/statuses/10241004768

I tweeted @BoosPlace really hope that I win cause would love to win it before the movie comes out

Lacey said...

I loved message in a bottle, so much better than the movie.

Lacey914 at sbcglobal dot net

Lacey said...

A love story about a girl who goes on summer vacation and meets a boy, bringing her closer to her father.

Lacey914 at sbcglobal dot net

Lacey said...

http://twitter.com/HtxAstrosFan/status/10449375263

tweet!!

Lacey914 at sbcglobal dot net

Cindy said...

I love Nicholas Sparks books! He is one of my favorite authors.

I have read The Notebook, Dear John, and a Walk to Remember. All were great but I remember crying through Dear John the most.

I would love to read The Last Song!

Cindy
Socmom213@aol.com

Cindy said...

This book sounds like a great read and I love your review.

I am a fan of Nicholas Sparks books but I had never read so much background on the author himself until I read your review. I never knew that he graduated from Notre Dame. I also did not know that he had a lot of rejects before he got published and as well known as he is today.

One part that I found interesting was how the daughter was such a talented pianist but gave it up after her father left. I have always wanted to learn to play the piano. It will be interesting to read this aspect of the book.

Thank you for such a detailed review on a book that I know that I would enjoy very much! As a mom who raised 4 teens (3 sons and a daughter), I know that I would not be able to put this book down until I finished it!

Cindy
Socmom213@aol.com

Bookie said...

I agree that Sparks books are predictable but I enjoy the ride along the way. :)

Bookie said...

I have read Dear John. I liked it but not not my favorite book by Sparks.

Bookie said...

tweet
http://twitter.com/dawnpnr/status/10580789041

catss99 said...

tweet
http://twitter.com/catss99/status/10710537909
catss99@yahoo.com

catss99 said...

I loved A walk to remember and message in a bottle. Some of his more recent books I haven't liked as much but I always like to read a book before the movie comes out!
catss99@yahoo.com

catss99 said...

Review: I didn't realize the book focused so much on piano playing/ music. but that explains why miley cyrus is in the movie:-)
catss99@yahoo.com

Jolee said...

shameful to admit (as a librarian and avid reader to boot!!) that I haven't read any of his books. Need to and would LOVE to try. Bend in the Road sounds particularly intriguing. joleehamlin@comcast.net

Jolee said...

I see there is a bad boy love twist. Always good. ;-)

LoveMy2Dogs said...

Daily tweet

http://twitter.com/lovemy2doggies/status/10838763450

jrandtam[at]columbus.r.com

Nancye said...

Let's see, I have read: A Walk to Remember, The Notebook, Message in a Bottle, The Wedding, Nights in Rodanthe.....I think that's all. I love Nicholas Sparks, as you can see! I have not read and I don't have this book yet. I would love to win a copy!

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

This book is about a girl named Ronnie. She is sent to her dad's for the summer with her little brother, Jonas. The book takes place in North Carolina, where most of his books are set. The movie is coming out soon. I guess I will have to get over my dilike of Miley Cyrus since she plays Ronnie.

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

Tweet! Tweet!

http://twitter.com/NancyeDavis/status/10891278887

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

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