The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall

I really don't know what to make of this book, it wasn't bad by any means, it was super easy to read, and fast paced, usually what I like, but this was a little too good to be true. I know Jim Stovall is a motivational speaker and this book is supposed to teach us how life itself is a gift from God. But it's just a little too cheesy. And too predictable, we know whats going to happen from the first page. Plus the quote on the cover kind of gives it away, well I guess it's not a mystery book so who cares.
 
Uncle Red dies, the whole family gathers at the lawyers office to collect their inheritance, he leaves money for all his family members, except his great nephew Jason. Even from beyond the grave he wants to teach this little punk a lesson on life, because all he's ever done is spend money and not appreciate where it comes from (like the rest of his family, so I don't understand why he only focuses on this kid). So he makes him do certain things each month for a year and then he can receive his Ultimate Gift, which Jason believes, or hopes is a big sum of money. Each month he is supposed to learn something about life, each of those lessons are called gifts. So Jason not realizing what exactly his uncle had in mind, but still thinking of the money, agrees to this little game. He has to meet up with the lawyer and watch a video that his great uncle recorded, then do as he instructs and than report back to the lawyer. Each month. But as you can guess by the end he is a changed person who no longer cares for the material things, but cares about people and life. I don't believe it, you can't change a person that much in one year. This book is too imaginary. It's a story that you would hear from a visiting speaker at your High School. They are good lessons to learn, but I just don't believe in reading fiction to fix your life. If you're trying to be motivational I think you should give examples from real people. 
 
I guess people have liked it and will like it, but it just wasn't for me.  It's short enough though that I don't feel like I wasted my time, and I guess I would recommend it to some since it is a very fast paced book. And I hear there's a movie?

What Matters Most by Luanne Rice

"What would you choose if you could make one thing right? For Bernadette and Tom, it is a return to their roots in Ireland and a love that broke every rule and could have withstood any consequence—but the one that broke their hearts. 

For James and Kathleen, whose indelible bond was forged in a Dublin orphanage before one was adopted and carried across the sea to America, it is a reunion they’ve dreamed of all their young lives, even if it defies reason. From the Emerald Isle to the Connecticut shore, four lives  are about to come together in a confrontation that will challenge each of them to leave behind the past and all they once thought was important, and to embrace at last what matters most." This book was quite good, I'm not a big fan of Luanne's writing style but the story was good. There is a lot happening, especially toward the end. And there are about 4 climaxes to the story, so you're never bored. Her writing is simple but repetitive, and she keeps mentioning people eyes. We get it, they're blue. And I did at times want to put the book down, or skip to the end and just find out what happens. But I think if you stick with it you might like it. It's not the best book, the characters are ok, but nothing too special, and Bernadette was getting on my nerves. Maybe if you are a big believer in God or signs, you might enjoy it more. I just felt annoyed at times. The story was nice, but the writing not so much. So I'm not sure if I would recommend this book to many people. Especially if you like happy endings. This one doesn't really have one. Sure on some scale everyone in the book deals with their fait. But it's not what you would expect. 

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton - REVIEW

The story starts out with a little girl who is found abandoned on a ship to Australia in 1913. She is alive and well, but why all alone. She doesn't seem to remember anything about her life, all she has with her is a fairy tales book. They call her Nell and on her 21st birthday they tell her the truth, with so little to go on she sets out to find out who she really is. She finds herself in England, and is close to solving her puzzle, but it's not till her granddaughter Cassandra, that the story is solved.

 

This is a delightful book, full of twists and turns, also some mystery. It was very hard to put down as it holds your imagination and interest. Kate Morton does a terrific job in describing each scene and building suspense. I couldn't have asked for more from her.