WITHOUT BORDERS by AMANDA HEGER

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WITHOUT BORDERS
A Wanderlove Novel
Amanda Heger
Releasing April 19th, 2016
Diversion Books
For Annie London, a month in a Central American rainforest means handing out mosquito nets, giving medical aid, and teaching children about the birds and the bees. With any luck, it will also land her application in the “accepted” pile at a top tier medical school. But as soon as she steps off the plane, Annie realizes her bug spray, feeble Spanish, and medical supplies won’t help her deal with her new feelings for Felipe—her best friend’s older brother, who’s much hotter than she remembers, and who also happens to be the doctor in charge of the trip.
Gawking “volun-tourists” may keep his family’s medical clinic afloat, but Dr. Felipe Gutierrez doesn’t have to like them. Or the way they make snap judgments about his practice and the people he cares for. But when his old crush, Annie, shows up to volunteer, her killer curves and kind smile fan the embers of a flame Felipe didn’t realize he’d been carrying. A flame that makes him question all his preconceived notions.
As ideas and cultures clash, Annie and Felipe must decide how far outside their comfort zones they are willing to go—both for their work and for one another.
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Amanda Heger is a writer, attorney, and bookworm. She lives in the Midwest with three unruly rescue dogs and a husband who encourages her delusions of grandeur.
 
Her debut romance, Without Borders, is forthcoming from Diversion Books. The story was inspired by the summer Amanda spent in rural Nicaragua, eating gallo pinto, speaking mangled Spanish, and showing high school students how to slide condoms onto over-sized plantains.
 
Her stories are represented by Jessica Watterson of the Dijkstra Literary Agency.
 
 

The Last Song

I read the book The Last Song by Nicholas Spark in a pretty short period of time. The language was easy to follow and the conversations were straight forward. This book was picked as the first book we talked about in my Book Club: A Page Turns. Knowing what I do about the formula used by Nicholas Sparks that has brought him such widespread success, I knew what to expect before I turned page 1.
Luckily, he kept true to that formula – that is what readers like afterall – he included romance; he included drama; and he included heartbreak. When I read the back book cover and realized what other novel of his this book was being compared to, I made a prediction. I predicted what was going to happen and by the end of the book I was right.
Even though I guessed how the book was going to end, I loved reading it. I loved being in this summer – I loved the way the chapters would allow me to get inside of someone else’s head. I got to hear what Ronnie, Will, Steve, and Marcus were thinking. I got to be frustrated and gasp when needed.
This book is a tear-jerker. Curse you Nicholas Sparks for being able to pull on my heart strings. By the end of the book I felt like I was emotionally drained. I cried as I read, and I got butterflies when things started changing.
I have become overly critical of books now as I am trying to edit my own down from the monstrous word count it’s currently at. I discovered it took quite a while for the two lova’s to get together, and even though it wasn’t the main focus of the book (at least I don’t think it really was) it was to me. That was why I bought the book – to read about the love these two experienced.
Overall, a great book. Written for a younger group (I think), but still very readable. Will I read it again? I doubt it. I do want to see the movie though  🙂
xoxo
Nat

Dear John

Sidebar: With my own critique group forming to give me feedback on my own work, I am finding it harder to critique books that I have read. I have received amazing feedback on the pieces people have read, but it’s always hard to hear someone tear apart one of your reasons for breathing. With each book I have reviewed, I have been honest and up front with you – as I expect my critique group to be with me (and they have been).  Please read the books I review for yourself so you can form your own opinion. What I find to be a masterpiece, you might find to be horrible. As I’m sure many will find once my book is finished.

Up till this past week, I could say in all honesty that I had never read a Nicholas Sparks book. It seems that every book he writes turns into a movie, and not just any movie, but a movie where in the end love never wins and the two madly in love are left apart.

While in Target, I saw the book in the section of NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE, and I figured oh why not. To this day I have yet to read The Notebook (as well as see the movie) and figured I could use a good romance. I knew people that went to see the movie, but I held back on watching it myself because I wanted to read the book first. I’m glad I did.

As I mentioned, I am new to the world of Nicholas Sparks. I am not familiar with his writing style and I cannot compare books of his, as this is my first read. From what I do know about him, he is from North Carolina, near the beaches, which is cool since I have vacationed in OBX many times over. What I found when I read this book was the story from a man’s perspective, and a sad one at that. Apparently I am on a masochistic journey to cut, tear, rip, and butcher my romantic heart into bits. This past weekend I have watched The Time Traveler’s Wife, Remember Me, and now I have read and seen Dear John.

I love reading books told from the first person perspective – getting that opportunity to be inside their head and have to figure things out along the way as they do, just makes the reading that much more realistic and exciting to me. Some people don’t like that – well I’m not one of them.

From the beginning of the book, I was let down knowing what was going to be the outcome of the romance after reading the Prologue. Yet, for some reason my love-thirsty-glass-half-full personality turned each page hoping that what I had become privy to in the prologue would not be the case. I hoped that the story didn’t end with the prologue, but did what my novel is doing – give you an idea of what’s going on towards the end. I hoped that by the last page, love would conquer all. In a sense, it did. Just not how I wanted it to.

There were times where I felt like what John was saying was a huge run on sentence. Maybe it’s because I’ve never read a story from a male perspective (with the exception to Midnight Sun). Maybe it’s because this character was full of passion and loved Savannah so much. He seemed to ramble in his head, but maybe that was because that’s who Nicholas Sparks made him to be. I felt like the way they professed their love for one another to be rushed, and more time could have been spent expressing their feelings for one another, and less time describing other things. This coming from the person that wrote a similar situation in her own novel – irony at work.

The ending was not one that I liked at all – hopeless romantic here. I kept turning the pages, hoping among hope that John Tyree would catch a break. I found myself resenting Savannah as well as John for refusing to man up and speak his feelings like he did when they first met. The plot twist with Savannah, I recognized from the beginning as soon as they were introduced in the beginning of the book. I saw it coming 100 pages away, but still wanted to think things would be different. I felt sorry for Savannah by the end of the book, because it was obvious to me the choices she made were not the right ones. I think she knew it too, but was too much of a good-ole’fashioned girl to change it, and John cared too much for her to act on what he knew.

If you are a hopeless romantic, such as myself, read this book. If you like first person perspectives, read this book. If you want to learn about 9/11 and the way soldiers felt, read this book. This book was a fast read (I probably read it from cover to cover in 3 hours) and in the end I would buy a sequel or any other book Nicholas Spark would/could write including this character. 

At one point in the book, I had to put it down and walk away. I was angry and slightly freaked out. The character he was describing was very similar to the one I was writing myself. This character was in the military, had a temper, had tattoos, and professed his love to basically a stranger. It really freaked me out. I immediately thought of the masses of people that would try to tell me I was copying Nicholas Sparks. Then I thought about it – how many books out there have romances similar to this one? TONS. I realized my story is very different, and if anything the fact that Nicholas Sparks book is now a movie, just goes to show the character I developed was a good one. I sat back down and finished the book. This book pulled at my heart strings, making me feel a whole range of emotions – happy, sad, mad, depressed, hearthbroken. I was strong though – I didn’t cry (in either the book or the movie — the heart does hurt a bit right now though).

Watching the movie was so different. I love to watch the movie “version” after reading a book. I can tear apart the differences. Sometimes it upsets me; sometimes I like it. Both emotions were evoked in this movie. I was annoyed that there wasn’t even a two minute blurb spent explaining John’s past, he didn’t have the tattoos on his shoulders that he had in the book (you know me – tattoo FREAK), and the amount of time he spent with Savannah was decreased. A lot of major pieces were left out of the movie that were in the book, and a lot of characters were changed in the movie (John was born in 1980 instead of 1977, Tim is Alan’s dad and not brother, etc). He got shot in the movie, which didn’t happen in the book, and he talked to Savannah more on the phone while stationed in Germany. However, I liked the ending to the movie better – the movie was made for people like me. People searching for that Happily Ever After – knowing that through all of the problems people deal with, good things can happen to good people. I loved the movie a totally different way than I loved the book.

With both I was slightly sad when they were over. Evoking emotion in the right places, I highly recommend both.

Not a lecture. Just a thought.
xoxo
Nat

I was thinking of reading The Lovely Bones next, but after watching The Time Traveler’s Wife, it’s the next book I’m going to buy. If you know of any really good romances, paranormal stuff (YA included) that you want me to read and possibly review – let me know in the comments!

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