Category Archives: 2010

2010

Lights, Camera, Novel: Nicholas Sparks’s The Last Song, The Lucky One and Safe Haven

When it comes to romance, Nicholas Sparks has made a name for North Carolina. Although not a native North Carolinian (he hails from Omaha, Nebraska) Sparks’s geographical obsession with the state has become a hallmark of his writing. In all, Sparks has authored seventeen novels and one autobiographical travelogue. All but the travelogue are set in various locations around North Carolina. Sparks is often very active and hands-on in the process of adapting his novels for the big screen. As of now, eight of Sparks’s novels have been made into films and the ninth and tenth are on the way. Three of the eight adapted novels have been blogged on here in the past: The Lucky One (2008), The Last Song (2009), and Safe Haven (2010), so we’ll focus on those. His five earlier adapted novels: The Notebook (1996), Message in a Bottle (1998), A Walk to Remember (1999), Nights in Rodanthe (2002), and Dear John (2006) haven’t been covered on the blog, at least not just yet.

Chronologically, Sparks wrote The Lucky One before the The Last Song, but the film based upon the later was released first. The Last Song (book released 2009, movie released 2010) is a bit of an anomaly in that formulating the screenplay for the film inspired Sparks to create a corresponding novel.

The idea for the novel came about when Miley Cyrus, at the time primarily known for her starring role in Disney’s Hannah Montana, was searching for newer, more mature work. Cyrus met with Sparks and he devised an idea based on her interest. His story focuses on a daughter and father healing their estranged relationship. A budding romance between the daughter and a privileged local boy and loggerhead sea turtles appear heavily in the sidelines. The Last Song was a slight departure from his other works as the characters were teenaged and most of his works featured adult and middle-aged characters.

Although Sparks stuck to his customary North Carolina setting (Wilmington) for the novelization of The Last Song, the film was relocated to Georgia and shot on Tybee Island and in Savannah. North Carolina vied against Georgia during the selection process. Ultimately, Disney selected Georgia over North Carolina on the basis of film tax incentives. Losing a deal with Disney and The Last Song was an especially hard blow since Sparks’s last adaptation, Dear John, was also filmed outside of North Carolina. Reviews of the film were mixed, though Miley Cyrus’ performance was praised — see an enthusiastic review of her acting by Roger Ebert here.

By contrast, The Lucky One and Safe Haven featured romances between attractive twenty-and-thirty-somethings. The Lucky One (novel released in 2008, film released in 2012) starred another Disney teen sensation, Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling.  Like Cyrus, The Lucky One was one of Efron’s gateway roles as an adult actor. The plot follows a Marine, who during his third tour in Iraq, finds a photo of a mystery blonde woman that becomes his lucky charm. After his return to the US, the Marine searches for his lucky Jane Doe. Again, the setting was the defining change for the adaptation. The movie was set and filmed in Louisiana as a result of film tax incentives. Sparks seemed unconcerned about the geographical shift. In a quote from Nola.com, website of The Times-Picayune, Sparks explains that he aims for his novels to feel interchangeable and relatable: “I try to write stories that feel like they could happen anywhere…And that’s what I’m trying to do, too, is write a universal story that people will really enjoy.” Audiences enjoyed The Lucky One while critics were split.

Safe Haven (novel released in 2010, film released in 2013) tells the tale of another mystery woman, who quietly moves into the small, coastal city of Southport. She doesn’t mean to fall in love, but she can’t escape the attentions of a handsome widower with two children. Once she gets to know him, she can’t help but to fall in love. Unlike the other two films, Safe Haven was filmed entirely on location in Southport and Wilmington. IndyWeek notes that the movie is only the third of Sparks’ eight adaptations to be shot exclusively in-state. The other two films were A Walk to Remember (2002) and Nights in Rodanthe (2008). Yet again, the critical response was mixed. Roger Ebert issued a much harsher review compared to his review of The Lucky One, based on his visceral response to Safe Haven’s surprise ending. Despite critics’ response to Safe Haven, it was a success with audiences again. Clearly the divide between critics and audience is a pattern with Sparks’ book-to-movie adaptations.

A Look at box office stats

Screen capture from Box Office Mojo site representing the box office sales of Nicholas Sparks film adaptations.

While critics might not universally laud his films, audience-goers buy the tickets. All three films were box office successes. Sparks has cracked the secret to commercial success, now only if North Carolina could figure out a way to keep his adaptations in-state. The Best of Me stars James Marsden (who replaced the late Paul Walker) and Michelle Monaghan. Filming is underway in Louisiana. His latest novel, The Longest Ride, is in pre-production and it was recently announced that Clint Eastwood’s son, Scott Eastwood will play one of the lead roles. Here’s to hoping that movie will be filmed locally in NC.

Read the original blog posts on The Last Song, The Lucky One, and Safe Haven. The novel and film for The Lucky One are available through the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog. Currently, only the novels for The Last Song and Safe Haven are available. Both films are available through the Chapel Hill Public Library though.

Sources consulted:

Box Office Mojo, Forbes, Hollywood Reporter {two articles}, IMDb {Miley Cyrus, Zac Efron, Nicholas Sparks, The Last Song, The Lucky One, Safe Haven, The Best of Me, The Longest Ride, Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, IndyWeek, Movie Clips, New York Times, News & Observer {two articles}, Nicholas Sparks, Nola, Relativity Media/iamROGUE, Roger Ebert {The Last Song, The Lucky One, Safe Haven}, Touchstone Pictures, Variety, Vox, Vulture, Wikipedia {Nicholas Sparks, The Last Song – novel and film, The Lucky One – novel and film, Safe Haven – novel and film}

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2010-2019, 2012, 2013, Brunswick, Coast, Romance/Relationship, Sparks, Nicholas

Annis Ward Jackson. High Country Coverup. United States: SunnyBrick Publishers, 2010.

high countryIsn’t it a truism that when a person is murdered, the police always suspect that a family member is the killer?  Then why was it that when Everett Dawson, a wealthy retiree, was murdered no one suspected his newish, stylish, younger wife?  Marcia Dawson wasn’t a suspect because her husband’s body was found hidden on Gurney Styles’ property.  Styles, who had been drinking the weekend of the murder and whose wife was out of town, didn’t have much of a memory of the night Dawson died, let alone have an alibi.  Although the case against Styles was far from airtight, the assistant district attorney prosecuted it with great energy, and Styles was convicted.  But Gurney’s wife, Dulcie, believes that her husband is innocent, and when she asks Rachel Myers for help, Rachel can’t refuse.  Soon Sheppard County’s amateur detective puts her mid-summer gardening aside to help this nice woman save her husband from a life in prison.

This is the seventh book in the Rachel Myers Murder Mysteries Series. Many of the characters in the previous books, including Isaac Starling and that handsome detective Robby Barnett, are present in this book, and Ms. Jackson’s love of gardening comes through as it did in the earlier volumes.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Jackson, Annis Ward, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Monique Miller. Secret Sisterhood. Deer Park, NY: Urban Books, 2010.

Secret SisterhoodInfertility can be all-consuming. It’s a devastating setback for couples ready to start their families. Novelist Monique Miller writes a story of three women from different backgrounds united by their struggles with infertility.

At first Shelby Tomlinson loved her job as a registered nurse with the Silvermont Women’s Center. Her patients’ happiness at their good news rubbed off on Shelby. She felt excited to come to work in such a positive atmosphere. That elation has fizzled out ever since Shelby and her husband Phillip started trying for a baby. They’ve tried for two years without any luck. Now, whenever Shelby deals with prenatal patients their good fortune depresses her. Suddenly, she feels a stronger bond with the patients who suffer from infertility too. However, her anxiety attacks, a lifelong problem, are increasing and Phillip has been distant whenever she broaches the topic of children. Shelby can’t figure out his odd behavior. Does he have a secret he’s hiding? In the face of all this stress, Shelby manages to find some hope when a patient struggling with infertility gets pregnant. Maybe Shelby still stands a chance at beating her infertility.

Crystal Shaw wants to open a day care center of her own one day. She also wants to have a baby, but it doesn’t look like that dream is going to come true any time soon. Crystal is envious of the pregnant women around her, especially those who don’t seem worthy in her eyes. Everyone around her is getting pregnant, including her sister Shanice, who already has a baby with another man and refuses to work, relying on public assistance and her “Man of the Quarter” instead.  Crystal is tired of breezily claiming that she’s not quite ready for kids. Even her work toward establishing a day care center is difficult. Spending all her time around children only reminds Crystal how she and her husband Warren, her childhood sweetheart, haven’t been able to conceive despite trying for years. Crystal starts thinking how nice a desk job might be so she could stop confronting the harsh reality of her childlessness.

When she was young, Vivian Parker made a promise to her grandmother, Eva – a promise that she has managed to fulfill, and then some. Eva emphasized the importance of an education as a priceless investment. Once Vivian earned an education, she insisted, it could never be taken away. After Eva passed away, Vivian focused all her energy on her grades and her career. She obtained her bachelor’s and master’s, eventually becoming a successful and esteemed architect with careful planning and hard work. But she’s behind on her plans for her personal life. By thirty she assumed she would be married, and then a child or two would follow shortly thereafter. Instead, Vivian didn’t get married until thirty-eight. Her husband Roland is the CEO of the company Vivian works for. Together, they’re a powerful couple professionally. But now that they’re more serious about having a baby, they learn that even though they can bankroll expensive procedures like in vitro fertilization, they still might not be able to fight time.

Faith is a central element to Secret Sisterhood. Shelby, Crystal, and Vivian turn to their religion to strengthen themselves in the midst of hardships. Miller breaks the story up, chapter by chapter, alternating the perspectives of the three main characters, although she also creates some areas of overlap and interconnection between the women during their journey to become mothers.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Miller, Monique, Piedmont, Religious/Inspirational

Julie Hyzy. Grace under Pressure. New York: Berkley Prime Crime, 2010.

If ever there was the time for Grace Wheaton to prove herself during her probationary period as Assistant Curator of Marshfield Manor, here it is. Screaming right in her face. What started as a regular day at her new job at the crown jewel of Emberstowne, North Carolina, ended with Grace trying to calm down a deranged visitor in the fancy tearoom, the Birdcage. Sadly, the day also included in the murder of Grace’s boss. With new responsibilities – and power – to keep the manor and museum running smoothly in the wake of this tragedy, Grace tries to help the overworked police get to the bottom of why anyone would want to kill the easy-going and respected curator. She immediately suspects that the true target was the estate’s owner, Bennett Marshfield, who had just testified against someone accused of running a Ponzi scheme. As Grace uncovers important clues, she also discovers long-buried family secrets. Exposing any of them could cost her her job – or even her life.

Grace Under Pressure is the first novel in the “Manor House Mystery” series.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Hyzy, Julie, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Tim Myers. Coventry. United States: CreateSpace, 2010.

Widower Abraham Cole has just sent his only daughter off to college, and his home in the small mountain town of Coventry, North Carolina feels a little empty. Luckily (maybe), he is both the town’s mayor and its sole handyman, so there is a nonstop list of tasks to which he should be attending. Some he enjoys more than others, but Abraham takes it all on, from fixing Opal Matheson’s front door to soothing tensions between feuding business owners. Although his friends and neighbors threaten on a daily basis to withhold their vote from him in the next election, he is roundly loved by the small, tightly knit community…at least until Rena Ashe arrives.

Rena Ashe has everyone excited– the town’s ancient librarian, Ms. Miller, is retiring, and Rena is going to be her young, multi-credentialed replacement. Some of the men in the town have also been quick to note that she isn’t bad looking, either. Unfortunately for Abraham, he gets off to a bad start with the town’s newest resident, and things go downhill from there. A neighbor keeps dropping her unruly son off at Abraham’s on the weekends because he needs the influence of “a good man,” the fight between two shop keepers becomes increasingly chaotic, and worst of all, his daughter Hannah has announced she’s going to Europe with a friend for the holidays. But it’s certain that things will turn around soon, because Coventry always looks out for its own.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Mountains, Myers, Tim, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Romance/Relationship

Erin McCarthy. Hot Finish. New York: Berkley Sensation, 2010.

Ryder Jefferson and his feisty ex-wife, Suzanne, take center stage in this third book in McCarthy’s Fast Track series.  Suzanne has her hands full planning an over-the-top wedding for a race car driver and his bridezilla fiancée.  After a stint on the board of a medical charity, Suzanne’s heart just isn’t in wedding planning anymore, but she has to keep at it.  Suzanne is close to broke, without a steady income or alimony from Ryder.

Ryder would be happy to pay alimony to Suzanne.  He considers himself an openhanded man, and he is concerned about Suzanne’s financial security.  But there’s more to it than that.  He still has feelings for Suzanne and wishes that he tried harder to keep her.  In the parlance of his profession, he thinks he quit the race a few laps too soon.

But fate may give them another chance.  For the past few months, Suzanne has been enlisting Ryder’s help with the matchmaking she’s done for some friends; Ryder is to be a groomsman in bridezilla’s wedding; and on top of that, it turns out that the paperwork for their divorce is incomplete.  Suzanne and Ryder are still legally married!  As the story unfolds, readers learn the history of Ryder and Suzanne’s marriage and the source of Suzanne’s prickliness.  The character development is particularly good  in Hot Finish, but the book also delivers the snappy repartee and sexy scenes that are standard elements of  this series.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Cabarrus, McCarthy, Erin, Mecklenburg, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship

Brenda Tetreault. The Devil’s Own Angel. Baltimore, MD: PublishAmerica, 2010.

When last we visited Bounty Cove, a fictional small town on North Carolina’s coast, we followed Melissa Witcher as she reclaimed her family home from mold, neglect, and a serious infestation of malignant ghosts. Now Melissa is happily married to local boy Michael Kemper, but there’s always something going on in Bounty Cove. This time Angeline “Angel” Carston, a petite beauty on the run from an abusive ex-fiance, brings the trouble with her. Dogged by her stalker ex across the country, Angel is just looking for any safe place beyond his wealthy, possessive reach. She stops in Bounty Cove when she’s too tired to drive anymore, never thinking that something might tempt her to stay for the rest of her life.

Nick Damien is known as Devil due to his unfortunate surname, but the moniker fits. Bounty Cove’s resident playboy, Devil has logged a lot of time with the majority of the women around, which isn’t many to begin with in such a small town. When he happens to see a petite blonde unloading her car in front of the local bed and breakfast, Devil goes on the hunt. Unfortunately, he fails to realize that he is the prey, quickly falling hook, line, and sinker for Angel Carston and her silvery eyes. But there’s more than just physical beauty to Angel– she has a dark secret, one that is far more dangerous than her stalker ex-fiance. Although they’re deeply in love, will Devil and Angel be able to overcome the darkness that threatens the sleepy, seaside town? Meant for readers 18 and up, this series will delight those who like a healthy dose of the supernatural mixed in with their romance.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

The Library also holds the first book in this planned series of six, The Witcher Legacy

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Coast, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Romance/Relationship, Tetreault, Brenda

Joseph L. S. Terrell. Tide of Darkness. Rock Hill, SC: Bella Rosa Books, 2010.

Harrison Weaver is a writer whose stories have been published in a  number of true crime magazines.  But Weaver is tired of murder and the lowlifes and psychos he meets in his work, so he’s getting away from it all by renting a house on the Outer Banks. Unfortunately for Weaver, he arrives in Manteo just as the body of Sally Jean Pearson is found.  Sally was a college student, in Manteo for the summer working as a stage hand and extra in The Lost Colony production.

Sally’s murder is eerily similar to the murder of another Lost Colony actress four years earlier.  Weaver wrote about that murder, making both friends and enemies in the process. Manteo has changed little in the past four years, and soon the investigative team that worked on the first murder is together again to work on the Pearson case.  Weaver’s buddy, SBI Agent Thomas Twiddy, is back, but so is Rick Schweikert, the county prosecutor who has it out for Weaver.  Schweikert and some other locals think it’s just too much of a coincidence that Weaver arrived in town the day Pearson’s body was found–could it be that the crime writer knows something the local police don’t?  When a sheriff’s deputy leads people to think that Twiddy and Weaver are about to break both cases open, Weaver finds himself in danger.  But before long it’s clear that the killer feels backed into a corner and that Weaver is not the only one whose life is in danger as this novel moves to a dramatic conclusion.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Coast, Dare, Mystery, Novels in Series, Terrell, Joseph L. S.

Erin McCarthy. Hard and Fast. New York: Berkley Sensation, 2010.

This book gets off to a fast start.  Who can resist a novel in which the heroine quotes Shakespeare and the hero compares himself to an old work boot?  Yet that’s just what Imogene Wilson and Ty McCardle do as they sit in her car debating  whether to go back into the party they’ve been at or take off to his condo for a night of more private adventure.  Ty is a stock car driver, just pushing past thirty and starting to think that he should begin dating women closer to his age with whom he might want to settle down.  Imogene is a graduate student in sociology at a Charlotte area university.   She and Ty meet because Imogene’s academic mentor is Tamara, the heroine in an earlier Erin McCarthy novel who is now married to NASCAR drive Elec Monroe.  Through Tamara Imogene meets drivers, their wives and ex-wives, and women who think it would be great to be a NASCAR wife.   Mixing with these people and coming across the book How to Marry a Race Car Driver in Six Easy Steps gives Imogene the idea for her thesis: she will test if it’s possible to follow a set of guidelines to success in an area as unpredictable as courtship.  Imogene is as straight-forward as they come, so early on she lets Ty know her interest in him is purely academic.  She even enlists his help to prepare her to move around more knowledgeably  in racing circles.  (The book says that drivers like a woman who knows the history of the sport.) Despite the odds, Imogene and Ty fall in love, but when Ty shares a secret that he had kept from Imogene and most everyone else, their romance hits a rough patch.  Readers of McCarthy’s previous race car romance, Flat-Out Sexy, will enjoy the reappearance of Tamara, Elec, Suzanne, and Ryder as characters in this book, and they can look forward to McCarthy’s next novel in which Suzanne and her ex-husband Ryder take center stage.

 

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, McCarthy, Erin, Mecklenburg, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship

Péron Long. The First Person. Deer Park, NY: Urban Renaissance, 2010.

T’Shobi Wells is an up-and-coming gospel star who has just moved to Charlotte, North Carolina from his childhood home of Atlanta. Running from a dark childhood filled with abuse and molestation from adults who should have been there to protect him, he has tried to move on with his life, but keeps getting caught in bad situations. At the moment, he’s currently involved in a torrid affair with two people: one is the wife of his pastor…and the other is the pastor himself. Justine and Seth Reynolds have no idea that T’Shobi is fooling around with both of them, and T’Shobi plans to keep it that way. But Tanisha Jackson, an innocent young woman with a serious crush on the charismatic and talented T’Shobi, might ruin everything.

Tanisha truly believes that what God wants most is for her to make T’Shobi see that she’s the one for him, but as he continually pushes her away, the impressionable young woman slowly loses herself. The sweet Tanisha vanishes, replaced by her alter-ego TiTi: a violent, sexually deviant young woman who will go to any length to make sure T’Shobi is punished for ignoring her. In this dark, gritty urban drama, the reader is witness to the psychological and physical damage that human beings are capable of visiting on themselves and others in their intimate relationships.

This book is not recommended for young readers.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Long, Péron, Mecklenburg, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship, Urban Fiction