29 Dec 2018

End of Year Wrap Up / Favourite Series of 2018

2018 has been my best reading year so far!  Over the past few years, my reading has still been good and regular but I have struggled to reach my 100 book goal.  This year, I wanted to push myself a little bit, so I set a challenge to read more than 100 books.  You can't imagine how happy I am to have achieved it.  Although, I do have to admit that reading all those books in 1 year has come at a cost.  In times where I have wanted to pick up the larger book, the more complicated read or a classic that might take longer to read, I have not gone for those.  I have gone for the books that I know, or hope, that I will enjoy that are fast reads or easy reads rather than those that are longer etc.  It has certainly been interesting to see what my reading has turned into when I task myself with reading more than what I would normally.  

So, there were quite a few gems that I came across throughout the year that I wanted to highlight to you here as my favourites for the year.  I will be doing a separate post with all my favourite stand alone reads of the year as well, so look out for that one.  

The list below includes completed series, series part way through waiting for more books and further books in a series that I have read this year.  


Check out my review here - Wychwood and Hallowdene  

Elspeth May, a young female journalist who never seems to be in the right place at the right time, suddenly gets her big break only to find that no one will ever believe her story.

When a local woman is found murdered in her own home, slashed viciously across the throat, the police begin a manhunt of the surrounding villages, unsure exactly of who or what they are looking for. Elspeth, accidentally first on the scene, finds her interest piqued, and sets out to investigate the details surrounding the crime. In doing so she finds herself constantly battling against Peter Shaw, a police sergeant working on the case and under suspicion due to a terrible incident that occurred during a previous investigation. More murders follow, each of them adopting a similar pattern.

What links the victims? And why are some of the local people trying to cover things up?"






Check out my review here - 
          
When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know.


Check out my review here (book 3 in the series) - The Song is Rising

To avoid spoilers, below is the description for The Bone Season (book 1) in this series.  

The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine and also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.




Check out my review here (book 1 in this series) - Otherworld

The company says Otherworld is amazing—like nothing you’ve ever seen before. They say it’s addictive—that you’ll want to stay forever. They promise Otherworld will make all your dreams come true.

Simon thought Otherworld was a game. Turns out he knew nothing. Otherworld is the next phase of reality. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted.

And it’s about to change humanity forever.
Welcome to the Otherworld. No one could have seen it coming.




Check out my review here (book 5 in this series) - Origin


Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” The evening’s host is Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old billionaire and futurist whose dazzling high-tech inventions and audacious predictions have made him a renowned global figure. Kirsch, who was one of Langdon’s first students at Harvard two decades earlier, is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough . . . one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence.
As the event begins, Langdon and several hundred guests find themselves captivated by an utterly original presentation, which Langdon realizes will be far more controversial than he ever imagined. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and Kirsch’s precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Reeling and facing an imminent threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao. With him is Ambra Vidal, the elegant museum director who worked with Kirsch to stage the provocative event. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.
Navigating the dark corridors of hidden history and extreme religion, Langdon and Vidal must evade a tormented enemy whose all-knowing power seems to emanate from Spain’s Royal Palace itself... and who will stop at nothing to silence Edmond Kirsch. On a trail marked by modern art and enigmatic symbols, Langdon and Vidal uncover clues that ultimately bring them face-to-face with Kirsch’s shocking discovery... and the breathtaking truth that has long eluded us.


















Continue reading End of Year Wrap Up / Favourite Series of 2018

26 Dec 2018

End of Year Wrap Up / Favourite Books of the Year 2018

2018 has been my best reading year so far!  Over the past few years, my reading has still been good and regular but I have struggled to reach my 100 book goal.  This year, I wanted to push myself a little bit, so I set a challenge to read more than 100 books.  You can't imagine how happy I am to have achieved it.  Although, I do have to admit that reading all those books in 1 year has come at a cost.  In times where I have wanted to pick up the larger book, the more complicated read or a classic that might take longer to read, I have not gone for those.  I have gone for the books that I know, or hope, that I will enjoy that are fast reads or easy reads rather than those that are longer etc.  It has certainly been interesting to see what my reading has turned into when I task myself with reading more than what I would normally.

So, there were quite a few gems that I came across throughout the year that I wanted to highlight to you here as my favourites for the year.  I will be doing a separate post with all my favourite series of the year as well, so look out for that one.



Check out my review here - A Sky Painted Gold

Growing up in her sleepy Cornish village dreaming of being a writer, sixteen-year-old Lou has always wondered about the grand Cardew house which has stood empty for years. And when the owners arrive for the summer - a handsome, dashing brother and sister - Lou is quite swept off her feet and into a world of moonlit cocktail parties and glamour beyond her wildest dreams.

But, as she grows closer to the Cardews, is she abandoning her own ambitions... And is there something darker lurking at the heart of the Cardew family?

A gorgeously dreamy coming-of-age romance set against a stunning Gatsby-esque backdrop, this is perfect for fans of I Capture the Castle and Eva Ibbotson.


Check out my review here - The Chamber

In the corridors of Chicago's top law firm:

Twenty -six-year-old Adam Hall stands on the brink of a brilliant legal career. Now he is risking it all for a death-row killer and an impossible case.

Maximum Security Unit, Mississippi State Prison:

Sam Cayhall is a former Klansman and unrepentant racist now facing the death penalty for a fatal bombing in 1967. He has run out of chances -- except for one: the young, liberal Chicago lawyer who just happens to be his grandson.

While the executioners prepare the gas chamber, while the protesters gather and the TV cameras wait, Adam has only days, hours, minutes to save his client. For between the two men is a chasm of shame, family lies, and secrets -- including the one secret that could save Sam Cayhall's life... or cost Adam his.


Check out my review here - The Pelican Brief

In suburban Georgetown a killer's Reeboks whisper on the front floor of a posh home... In a seedy D.C. porno house a patron is swiftly garroted to death... The next day America learns that two of its Supreme Court justices have been assassinated. And in New Orleans, a young law student prepares a legal brief... To Darby Shaw it was no more than a legal shot in the dark, a brilliant guess. To the Washington establishment it was political dynamite. Suddenly Darby is witness to a murder -- a murder intended for her. Going underground, she finds there is only one person she can trust -- an ambitious reporter after a newsbreak hotter than Watergate -- to help her piece together the deadly puzzle. Somewhere between the bayous of  Louisiana and the White House's inner sanctums, a violent cover-up is being engineered. For someone has read Darby's brief. Someone who will stop at nothing to destroy the evidence of an unthinkable crime.


Check out my review here - A Baby's Bones

"Finely observed beautifully written" Daily Mail on The Secrets of Life and Death

"It was a secret burial. Maybe even murder..."

Archaeologist Sage Westfield has been called in to excavate a sixteenth-century well, and expects to find little more than soil and the odd piece of pottery. But the disturbing discovery of the bones of a woman and newborn baby make it clear that she has stumbled onto an historical crime scene, one that is interwoven with an unsettling local legend of witchcraft and unrequited love. Yet there is more to the case than a four-hundred-year-old mystery. The owners of a nearby cottage are convinced that it is haunted, and the local vicar is being plagued with abusive phone calls. Then a tragic death makes it all too clear that a modern murderer is at work...




Check out my review here - The Greatcoat

A terrifyingly atmospheric ghost story by the Orange-prize-winning Helen Dunmore.
 
In the summer of 1954, newly wed Isabel Carey arrives in a Yorkshire town with her husband Philip. As a GP he spends much of his time working, while Isabel tries hard to adjust to the realities of married life. Life is not easy: she feels out-of-place and constantly judged by the people around her, so she spends much of her time alone.
 
One cold winter night, Isabel finds an old RAF greatcoat in the back of a cupboard that she uses to help keep warm. Once wrapped in the coat she is beset by dreams. And not long afterwards, while her husband is out, she is startled to hear a knock at her window, and to meet for the first time the intense gaze of a young Air Force pilot, handsome, blond and blue-eyed, staring in at her from outside.
 
His name is Alec, and his powerfully haunting presence both disturbs and excites Isabel. Her initial alarm soon fades, and they begin a delicious affair. But nothing could have prepared her for the truth about Alec's life, nor the impact it will have on her own marriage.



Check out my review here - A Time to Kill

Before The Firm and The Pelican Brief made him a superstar, John Grisham wrote this riveting story of retribution and justice -- at last it's available in a Doubleday hardcover edition. In this searing courtroom drama, best-selling author John Grisham probes the savage depths of racial violence...as he delivers a compelling tale of uncertain justice in a small southern town...Clanton, Mississippi.

The life of a ten-year-old girl is shattered by two drunken and remorseless young men. The mostly white town reacts with shock and horror at the inhuman crime. Until her black father acquires an assault rifle and takes matters into his hands.

For ten days, as burning crosses and the crack of sniper fire spread through the streets of Clanton, the nation sits spellbound as young defense attorney Jake Brigance struggles to save his client's life...and then his own.













Continue reading End of Year Wrap Up / Favourite Books of the Year 2018

15 Dec 2018

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Book Review / Leverage In Death by JD Robb

Lieutenant Eve Dallas puzzles over a bizarre suicide bombing in a Wall St. office building in the latest in the #1 New York Times bestselling series…

For the airline executives finalizing a merger that would make news in the business world, the nine a.m. meeting would be a major milestone. But after marketing VP Paul Rogan walked into the plush conference room, strapped with explosives, the headlines told of death and destruction instead. The NYPSD’s Eve Dallas confirms that Rogan was cruelly coerced by two masked men holding his family hostage. His motive was saving his wife and daughter—but what was the motive of the masked men?

Despite the chaos and bad publicity, blowing up one meeting isn’t going to put the brakes on the merger. All it’s accomplished is shattering a lot of innocent lives. Now, with the help of her billionaire husband Roarke, Eve must untangle the reason for an inexplicable act of terror, look at suspects inside and outside both corporations, and determine whether the root of this crime lies in simple sabotage, or something far more complex and twisted.


Published:     4th September 2018
Publisher:  Piatkus Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 47, In Death
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher



MY REVIEW

This series just gets better and better with each and ever book that comes out!  Full disclosure, I have not read each and every single book in this series but is something I am planning to do, so you do not have to read these in order or start from the very beginning to enjoy this series.  That is one of the great aspects of these books, you can just pick up one along the road, start and carry on from there, although I do suspect that I would get a lot more out of the story if I did start from the beginning as you have ongoing characters, main and side line, that feature in most of the stories and I would really like to know more about their background and how they came into this world.

The magic of this book and all that I have read in this series is the characters that feature in each and every story.  I have read them before, know what they have been to and with each and every book I read you see more of and more of those characters, their personality and how they interact with each other.   It really feels like a team that work together to help solve crimes being led by Lieutenant Dallas.

Can't wait for the next instalment!!!




Continue reading Book Review / Leverage In Death by JD Robb

8 Dec 2018

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Series Review / Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare *** CONTAIN SPOILERS ***











The Shadow Market is a meeting point for faeries, werewolves, warlocks and vampires. There the Downworlders buy and sell magical objects, make dark bargains, and whisper secrets they do not want the Nephilim to know. Through two centuries, however, there has been a frequent visitor to the Shadow Market from the City of Bones, the very heart of the Shadowhunters. As a Silent Brother, Brother Zachariah is sworn keeper of the laws and lore of the Nephilim. But once he was a Shadowhunter called Jem Carstairs, and his love, then and always, is the warlock Tessa Gray. Follow Brother Zachariah and see, against the backdrop of the Shadow Market’s dark dealing and festival, Anna Lightwood’s doomed romance, Matthew Fairchild’s great sin and Tessa Gray plunged into a world war. Valentine Morgenstern buys a soul at the Market and a young Jace Wayland’s soul finds safe harbor. In the Market is hidden a lost heir and a beloved ghost, and no-one can save you once you have traded away your heart. Not even Brother Zachariah.

Published:     2018
Series or Stand-Alone:  Series, Shadowhunter World
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

As I have probably mentioned in previous review of the books in the Shadowhunter world, I do not normally pick up novellas or side books in series.  Generally, I stick to the main books and that is it.  I had found when I had picked up those books in the past that they never really added much to the story, just gave more depth to the characters in it maybe.  Cassandra Clare's Shadowhunter world novellas and side novels are completely different.  Each and every one adds a bit more to the overall Shadowhunter world and gives more depth to each of the characters' stories that are in it.

I have put a warning on this review that it contains spoilers but that is only because of the description of the series above.  For those who have not read a lot of the books in this world, it is probably best to go back and start from the beginning.  I would recommend starting with the Mortal Instruments series and go from there.  For me, this world has just got better and better.

With a lot of characters in this book, we see a lot more of Brother Zachariah and Tessa Gray along with ancestors of the characters from the Mortal Instruments series and learning even more about the Shadowhunter history.

I loved this mini-series in itself and can't wait to see what happens next in this world!















Continue reading Series Review / Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare *** CONTAIN SPOILERS ***

18 Nov 2018

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Book Review / You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan

Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is, until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other—and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, You Know Me Well is a story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.

Published:     7th June 2016
Publisher:  St Martin's Griffin
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

This book really surprised me.  I went into this thinking that this was going to be a nice easy contemporary read but what I got out of this was so much more.  In this we follow two main characters, Mark and Kate.  Mark needs to step out of his comfort zone a lot more and Kate has lost herself and needs to find herself again.

What I loved about this story is the depth in the main characters and following them as they make their choices in life and help each other out.   This story just shows that it is not only the friends you already know that will stick by you.  You have a possible best friend in the person that you haven't paid much attention but the one that is there at the moment you need them the most.    This book covers so many issues including friendship, love, unrequited love and many more issues that I had not read about before.

A serious but fun read that I would highly recommend.







Continue reading Book Review / You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan

15 Nov 2018

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Book Review / The Winters by Lisa Gabriele

“From the brilliant first line to the shattering conclusion, The Winters will draw you in and leave you breathless. . . . A must read.” —Liv Constantine, author of The Last Mrs. Parrish

Inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, a spellbindingly suspenseful novel set in the moneyed world of the Hamptons, about secrets that refuse to remain buried and consequences that can’t be escaped


After a whirlwind romance, a young woman returns to the opulent, secluded Long Island mansion of her new fiancĂ© Max Winter—a wealthy politician and recent widower—and a life of luxury she’s never known. But all is not as it appears at the Asherley estate. The house is steeped in the memory of Max’s beautiful first wife Rebekah, who haunts the young woman’s imagination and feeds her uncertainties, while his very alive teenage daughter Dani makes her life a living hell. She soon realizes there is no clear place for her in this twisted little family: Max and Dani circle each other like cats, a dynamic that both repels and fascinates her, and he harbors political ambitions with which he will allow no woman—alive or dead—to interfere.

As the soon-to-be second Mrs. Winter grows more in love with Max, and more afraid of Dani, she is drawn deeper into the family’s dark secrets—the kind of secrets that could kill her, too. The Winters is a riveting story about what happens when a family’s ghosts resurface and threaten to upend everything.

Published:    15th November 2018
Publisher:  Harvill Secker
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher




MY REVIEW

This was a very interesting thriller to read.  What I had expected was a lot of twists and turns and a lot of surprises but that is not what I got out of of this story.  You have a very rich wealthy business man who meets, falls in love and proposes to a young lady who is more at home on a boat than in a castle but that is where she ends up after falling in love herself.  Unfortunately for the new Mrs Winter, there's more baggage that comes with this marriage than she was expecting.   You have Mr Winter's daughter Dani who is a very difficult individual.  Right from the start, you can see that she is trying to make it difficult for the new Mrs Winter to settle in but maybe there's more to her than meets the eye.

I would have loved to have said that the many twists and turns in this book surprised me but unfortunately they didn't.  In one way or another, I had already guessed all of the story as I went along but that doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy the ride.  For me, the best part of the story was the characters.  Watching then interact with each other, learning to like or get along with each other and wondering whether what they know is the truth or not.

A really interesting unexpected read that I would recommend but I would go into this story open minded and not really knowing much about the story.









Continue reading Book Review / The Winters by Lisa Gabriele

7 Nov 2018

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Book Review / A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Fall in love, break the curse.It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin

Published:     29th January 2019
Publisher:  Bloomsbury
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1 in a series, hopefully
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher




MY REVIEW


Having recently read and loved Letters to the Lost by this author, I was so excited to see what this was all about.  I am just going to say right now that I absolutely adore this book!  You have three main characters in this book, Rhen (the Crown Prince), Grey (the Crown Prince's Commander) and Harper (the unlucky/lucky person that literally gets pulled into their world unexpectedly. Rhen is under a curse and Grey is sworn to protect him, no matter what.  To break this curse, Rhen has to find someone to fall in love with him.  So far, he has been very unlucky but will Harper be the one?

Although very predictable in a lot of places in this book in terms of romance and action, I just could not pull myself away from this story and actually read this book in one sitting!  It took quite a number of hours, but I did it!  I had to know what would happen next...  This is a very long book and although I would normally say that stories like this don't need to be too long but this was worth every single word and need I say it but could have been longer lol!

Now, this book does have a twist that I didn't see coming right near the end that made the story so much more interesting than I had originally thought (and originally I thought this was very interesting...).  Although it does not say on Goodreads whether this will be a series or not, but I seriously hope that it will be because I need to know what happens next!!!




Continue reading Book Review / A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

3 Nov 2018

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Book Review / Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks

In the romantic tradition of The Notebook and Nights in Rodanthe, #1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks returns with a story about a chance encounter that becomes a touchstone for two vastly different individuals -- transcending decades, continents, and the bittersweet workings of fate.

Hope Anderson is at a crossroads. At thirty-six, she's been dating her boyfriend, an orthopaedic surgeon, for six years. With no wedding plans in sight, and her father recently diagnosed with ALS, she decides to use a week at her family's cottage in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, to ready the house for sale and mull over some difficult decisions about her future.

Tru Walls has never visited North Carolina but is summoned to Sunset Beach by a letter from a man claiming to be his father. A safari guide, born and raised in Zimbabwe, Tru hopes to unravel some of the mysteries surrounding his mother's early life and recapture memories lost with her death. When the two strangers cross paths, their connection is as electric as it is unfathomable . . . but in the immersive days that follow, their feelings for each other will give way to choices that pit family duty against personal happiness in devastating ways.

Illuminating life's heartbreaking regrets and enduring hope, Every Breath explores the many facets of love that lay claim to our deepest loyalties -- and asks the question, How long can a dream survive?


Published:     16th October 2018
Publisher:  Grand Central Publishing
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned




MY REVIEW


Every time Nicholas Sparks announces that he has a new book coming out, I can hardly contain my excitement.  I have loved each and every one of his books, including this one!  Now, this one has a different feel to ones that I have read before.  Nicholas Sparks himself has 'top and tailed' this story with a beginning and an ending.  From what I understand this story, some elements are taken from real life and some are fictionalised for the story.  I am not sure which is which but this is one hell of a beautiful story.

In this story, we follow the story of Hope and Tru.  Hope staying at her parents cottage by the sea to sort out items that she wants to keep before her parents sell it.  Tru having travelled all the way from Zimbabwe to visit the father he never met.  The most beautiful part of this story is the story of Hope and True.  How they meet, how they get on and watching the choices they make as they follow their life paths.

I can honestly say that Nicholas Sparks is the only author that never fails to make me cry reading a novel.  Whether that be tears of sadness or happiness, I always feel emotional at some point during each and every story.  This story is no different.  I am not going to say whether it is happiness or sadness, as I don't want to spoil the story for you but let's just say it was a very emotional read and one that I very highly recommend.


Continue reading Book Review / Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks