There’s a First Time For Everything (It’s Giveway Time!)

You know what they say: There’s a first time for everything…

Well, I’m about to do something I’ve never done before here at The Never Ending Book Basket

It’s Giveaway Time!!

And what better to GIVEAWAY than a book?! (The answer to that is nothing by the way. Unless it’s a book and chocolate.)

Sarah Pekkanen and myself with a little Ryan Gosling thrown in for good fun!

Sarah Pekkanen and myself with a little Ryan Gosling thrown in for good fun!

I recently had the chance to meet the fantastic author Sarah Pekkanen at a book signing for her newly released book Catching Air.

Talk about a fabulous night! Not only does she write some spectacular books, she puts on one hell of a book signing. (She had a picture of Ryan Gosling’s face on a stick, and she gave us chocolate. What’s not to love?)

I have read every single one of this author’s books, and I can tell you that I have absolutely loved and enjoyed them all. Each of her books has a dynamic group of characters that provide a thoughtful, engaging, and highly entertaining reading experience.

On a more personal note, I also had a serious sense of connection with one of her books because of past events in my family’s life, and I honestly don’t think I had ever felt such a strong connection to a book or a character in a book until that point. That connection is something  I will truly never forget.

Suffice to say, I absolutely adore this author and her books.

You could win a FREE signed copy of Catching Air!

You could win a FREE signed copy of Catching Air!

So as a way to spread the book love, I am giving away a FREE SIGNED copy of her newest book Catching Air.

Don’t worry you don’t have to give blood or offer your first born to enter. I am just looking to give back to all of you, and introduce you to a truly phenomenal author and her remarkable books! (I just gotta keep spreading this book addiction thing around!)

To enter the giveaway* simply click on the link below for a chance to win: (I’ll let you in on a little secret. To enter all you have to do is like a Facebook page. Nothing too complicated at all!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway (Click here to enter!)

Be sure to check out Catching Air TODAY!! Each of Sarah Pekkanen’s books have provided me with a unique reading experience that introduced me to some pretty dynamic characters that I simply adored. I highly recommend all of her books! They’ve got all you want: truly engaging characters, plenty of moments that’ll make you smile, some much loved drama and tension, and of course a story that’ll capture you in right from the get go.

Catching Air is at the top of my Never Ending Book Basket, and I am looking forward to diving into it head first ASAP! (And I totally think you should do the same!)

We’re clearly in this together!

Catching Air by Sarah Pekkanen

Catching Air by Sarah Pekkanen (photo credit: Goodreads)

Catching Air by Sarah Pekkanen (photo credit: Goodreads)

A chance to run a B&B in snowy, remote Vermont—it’s an offer Kira Danner can’t resist after six soul-crushing years of working as a lawyer in Florida. As Kira and her husband, Peter, step into a brand new life, she quells her fears about living with the B&B’s co-owners: Peter’s sexy, irresponsible brother Rand, and Rand’s wife, Alyssa…who is essentially a stranger.

For her part, Alyssa sees taking over the B&B as the latest in a string of adventures. Plus, a quiet place might help her recover from the news that she can’t bear children. But the idyllic town proves to be anything but serene: Within weeks, the sisters-in-law are scrambling to prepare for their first big booking—a winter wedding—and soon a shy, mysterious woman comes to work for them. Dawn Zukoski is hiding something; that much is clear. But what the sisters-in-law don’t realize is that Dawn is also hiding from someone… Relatable and dynamic, Catching Air delves deeply into the vital relationships that give shape to women’s lives.

 

To learn more about Sarah Pekkanen and her wonderful books check out the following links:

Facebook            Website               Twitter                 Goodreads

Be on the lookout for my review of this book soon….
(Something tells me it’s going to rock my socks off!)

Be sure to enter the giveaway to win a FREE SIGNED Copy of Catching Air, and check out Sarah Pekkanen and her books today!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway (Click here to enter!)

As always, sharing is caring, so feel free to share this post and spread the book and giveaway love!

*No purchase necessary. Open to US, Canadian, and UK residents only. Chances of winning depend on number of entries received. Giveaway will run from 5/14/14 to 5/22/14. Winner will be chosen at random on 5//14. Winner will need to claim prize within 48 hours or another winner will be chosen.

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A Title is Worth a Thousand Words (Big Girl Panties)

We all know the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Well while I kind of agree with that sentiment, I also think the title of a book can be worth a thousand words too. Truly good titles leap out at you, and grab your attention from the get go. They’re unforgettable, and typically their meaning fits the book like a glove.

The title of the book I’m discussing today definitely fits that bill.

The first thing I noticed about this book was its title. I was perusing the book shelves, and it just jumped out to me. It stood out. Big time.

Its title also happens to be a saying that I use more frequently than I’d probably like to admit, but I do just love saying it. Like all the time. The second thing I noticed about this book was its cover. It was just too fun, and I couldn’t help but pick the book up, and boy am I glad I did.

Long story short I bought the book, read it immediately, and I can’t wait to introduce you to today’s seriously fun and engaging book being discussed at The Never Ending Book Basket:

Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich

Big Girl Panties tells the story of Holly Brennan. She is a young widow still dealing with the many repercussions and emotions that come with the loss of her husband’s, one of which being that she’s taken to eating more than she probably should. Then you got Logan Montgomery, a well known personal trainer with a bit of an ego. And when I say a bit, it’s about the size of Texas.

Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich

Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich (I’ll apologize for the quality of the picture. Note to self: don’t forget your camera at home next time…)

These two seriously enjoyable characters meet on a plane, and have a life changing conversation for them both. Though neither of them really realizes it at that moment. Logan offers to train Holly and get her to a healthy place physically, though over the course of this seriously engaging book he’ll get her healthy on so many more levels.

Big Girl Panties follows these two as they train together, and work on building a friendship that ends up taking them to places they never really thought they’d be together or individually. Soon those inevitable sparks begin to fly, but of course nothing is as simple as it appears. Holly has to put on her big girl panties, and Logan needs to pull his head out of his ass, but watching these two phenomenal characters attempt that, makes for an extremely entertaining book you’ll just adore.

What I loved about this book:

  • The title: Titles make or break a book in my opinion. The title of this book is what made me pick it up. It hooked me in, and it just fits this book perfectly. And it’s just really fun! What more could you ask for?

    Big Girl Panties (In the sun!)

    Big Girl Panties (In the sun!)

  • Amanda and Chase Walker: Don’t know who these people are? Well let me enlighten you: they’re the couple that makes it all happen. They act kind of like a catalyst. These supporting characters make the book shine, and help the two main characters pull their heads out of their butts, so what’s no to love? (They’re even getting their own book which I can’t wait to read!)
  • Holly’s got spirit (And I don’t mean cheerleader spirit!): Holly was a genuinely vibrant character to read. She had a pretty emotional and bumpy past, but that didn’t stop her from being her, and pushing back full force with everything she had. Whatever that pushing back meant. She’s spunky, and honestly there’s nothing you won’t love about her.
  • The sarcasm: Do I really need to explain this one? We all know I heart me some sarcasm something fierce. If it wasn’t Holly and her pushing, it was Amanda’s and hers. The one liners these girls had had me cracking up. And since it was mainly at the expense of the opposite sex, that made it all the better.
  • The points of view: I love a little multiple perspective, and this book provides that in spades. It’s told in third person omniscient (which means all the thoughts and feelings of every character presented is shared. Basically you get to jump inside the head of everyone!) So since I love multiple personalities, it was fantastic to see a wide array of them here. They’re all thrown in together too so the transitions are quick, so bring on the instant gratification if you’re dying to know what a characters is thinking.
  • Logan’s attempt at redemption: Logan was kind of a dick. And when I say kind of, I mean I wanted to reach in and slap him half the time. He’s got some things he’s gotta work out personally before he even really gets to know Holly. When they start building their friendship/relationship/whatever label you want to use, those issues rear their ugly head. Logan does some pretty messed up stuff, but his fight to cut the crap and redeem himself made me actually root for him, and like him a hell of a lot more by the end.

    A sign bought for me because it held one of my favorite phrases....

    A sign bought for me because it held one of my favorite phrases….

  • The body image honesty: Holly’s journey with her weight loss and her own body image pretty much nailed it on the head. It couldn’t have been more honest and authentic, and I couldn’t help but relate to many of the emotions and thoughts she was thinking and feeling. (And I know you will too!) Seriously, try not to be a female and relate to what Holly is going through. I dare you.
  • The whole nature of starting a relationship: This book follows Holly and Logan as they build different types of relationships. First its friendship, then it’s more, and then it really gets crazy. But through it all, the emotions, self-esteem issues, doubts, and questions that are raised fit exactly what it means to be starting any kind of relationship. And that just feels right as you’re reading this book.

Big Girl Panties is an extremely fun and lovable book that will have you adoring its characters, smiling and laughing on a pretty consistent basis, and feeling an overall connection with every aspect of this book. It’ll make you smile, it’ll piss you off, and it’ll just make for a pretty fabulous reading experience.

It’s definitely full of moments that will make you swoon, but it’s still got a little spice that may or may not make you want to slap someone silly.

Like I said, a title can be worth a thousand words, and that sentiment definitely rings true here. So do yourself a favor, and find out how good those words are asap.

To check out more on the author Stephanie Evanovich, check out the following links:

Website               Twitter                 Facebook            Goodreads

If I Stay

Welcome back fellow readers. I hope time has found you well, and that you’ve found yet another good book to sink your teeth into.

Lately I have been on a big love story kick. What can I say? I am a huge sucker for love stories. They just reel me in. (Hence, I am a sucker, but I love it and accept it fully.)

Though I love me a good love story, as a book reader I also have a touch of ADD, so I often jump from one genre to another. Literally. I read a little bit of anything and everything.

That ADD is what brings us here today. I decided to dive deep into my Never Ending Book Basket and pull out something different. I was in the mood for a change.

(In all honesty the book I read was right on top, but in my defense, my book basket does contain a little bit of everything.)

The book I read today has been on my to buy list for a while, and in a surprising twist of fate I was able to find this book at one of my Best 5 ½ Places to Find Books! (Since I haven’t finished the countdown yet, I won’t reveal where. Yet. But I will let you know this book was found in that pesky little ½ place I keep mentioning!)

So in my never ending battle to listen to my book ADD I read the book If I Stay by Gayle Forman.

If I Stay is a very emotional book, and I did not know what to expect going into reading it. The book is told from Mia’s point of view as she decides if she is going to choose to “stay” after her family is in a horrific car accident.

The book opens with a brief glimpse of Mia and her extremely adoring family, before segueing into the accident. If I Stay follows Mia from that accident as she is taken outside of her body, and must go through the painful decision of staying or going. To move on to whatever comes next, or stay and face the not so nice music of her new reality.

She’s not a ghost per say, but she can see and hear everything going on around her, while looking down at her battered body.

Interwoven with Mia’s current state are flashbacks telling brilliant stories about her family including her mother, father, little brother, Gran and Gramps, best friend Kim, and her boyfriend Adam. These flashbacks flow naturally into the story, and creates an excellent stream of consciousness effect in the book that lets you know exactly how Mia got to this point in her life and the story itself.

What I liked about this book:

  • The rawness. This book is full of emotion and thought, and it is all raw and out there for everyone to see. I loved that the emotions put forth were believable for the situation, and nothing was shielded or censored. When going through something as horrific as Mia is, everything is messy and raw and complicated, and that emotion was brilliantly conveyed.
  • Mia and her internal struggle. Mia is a gem of a character. Throughout this book she is either looking at her helpless injured body, or
    If I Stay by Gayle Forman (I found it only fitting to take this picture as there was a dusting of snow on the ground. Read the book and you'll see why.)

    If I Stay by Gayle Forman (I found it only fitting to take this picture as there was a dusting of snow on the ground. Read the book and you’ll see why.)

    remembering the many events of her life that bring her straight back into her harsh reality. (Those past events made me love her even more!) The internal struggle she battles throughout this book is phenomenal. Reading and watching as Mia struggles to decide whether to stay or go is heart rendering, and will really make you think: What would I do in the same position when the only choice I have is to live or die?

  • The structure of the book. I loved the way this book was told in a stream of consciousness like format, where Mia interweaves her present state with stories from the past. This structure fits the book, and it makes it easy to flow between the past and present worlds. It also makes it really easy to like the characters from the small glimpses you see of them.
  • The music. Music is a big part of this book. Mia is an accomplished cellist, and she comes from a world and family that loves, lives, and breathes music. Music is almost its own character in this book, and it finds its way into almost every character, sub story, and crevice. Music is the glue that really brings this book and its characters together.
  • The pace. I don’t want to reveal any major plot points in this story (We don’t do that shit here!) but I will say the pace of this book is very good and well matched for the story being told. I read this book in one sitting, and the pace along with the great plot of the story was the reason why. You hit the ground running, and you don’t stop until the very end.
  • The plethora of endearing characters. I cannot even begin to describe how much I love all the characters in If I Stay. Mia’s parents are the parents we all wish we had. Her little brother, Teddy is about as adorable as they come. Her best friend Kim, and her realness stand out in a sea of rawness. Adam, Mia’s boyfriend, adds another layer as well. (I think in the present tense of the story, he is only in the book less than 25 pages, but those pages and his searing emotion stand out.)

If I Stay is a book about a choice. Mia has to decide if she is going to stay and face the harsh reality of what she’s left with after a terrible accident, or if she’s going to go and let it all fade away.

The road to that choice is the pulse of this book, and the author does a fantastic job of creating a story where you honestly don’t know what the “right” answer to that choice is.

Watching Mia struggle with that choice takes you on a phenomenal journey that will make you wonder what you would do if asked the same question: Do you stay, or do you go?

This book is definitely an emotional and very raw ride, but it’s highly worth it. (And don’t worry, it’s not all dark, sad, and gloomy. I did smile and chuckle at some parts while reading. More than once, too!)

So, fellow book addicts I dare you to take a walk with me on the dark side.

Embrace your book ADD, and give something new and different a chance.

You’ll be glad you did.

I know I am.

ps. If you’d like to learn more about If I Stay and/or its author Gayle Forman, click one of the links below.

http://www.gayleforman.com/ (Website)

https://twitter.com/gayleforman (Twitter)

https://www.facebook.com/GayleFormanAuthor (Facebook)

Two For One Special (Love Unrehearsed & Love Unscripted)

Attention book readers, we have a two for one special on our hands at The Never Ending Book Basket!

(In my mind I just imagined that being blasted over a crackling loud speaker in a warehouse filled to the brim with books, also known as my own personal happy place.)

I guess I should let you know that I didn’t actually just read a book named two for one special. The title for this post comes from the fact that today is your lucky day!

Want to know why?!

Today, you get two book reviews for the price of one! Go you!

Told ya, today was your day!

Please try and contain your exuberance out there!

Now that you know where my oh so clever title for this post came from (and I know you just have to be smiling right now!), I can now talk about the amazing two books that I just recently finished and are today’s two for one special.

This week I read Love Unscripted and Love Unrehearsed by Tina Reber.

Love Unscripted and Love Unrehearsed by Tina Reber.

Love Unscripted and Love Unrehearsed by Tina Reber. (For the record I thought it was fantastic to put that dried bouquet on top of the books. Am I the next big photographer? Probably not, but I do sure love this picture!)

So why a two for one special?

These books are basically two parts to a one whole extremely lovable story, (think of them as part one and part two respectively) so I found it only right to review them together.

Let me tell you, I was very eager to read these two books. I came across the second book, Love Unrehearsed while shopping with another book addict, and I was hooked in by the promise of reading a fantastic love story that I wouldn’t forget.

I will just be honest with the fact that I am a HUGE sucker for a love story, and boy was this a love story to die for. I ate up every page, and was completely enamored with the main characters, Taryn and Ryan.

Their love practically pole vaulted off the page.

Since I don’t want to give away too much of the actual plot line of these two books (‘cause we don’t do that shit on here!), let me tell you a little about Taryn and Ryan:

  • Meet Taryn: Taryn is a young, extremely caring, strong willed, and down to Earth woman who is running a small pub in a tiny Rhode Island town. She has a huge heart, and always puts others first. At the beginning she can be found rolling her eyes at the hoopla over the huge movie being filmed in town. She will not play into any of that, until she unexpectedly finds herself helping and falling very hard for Ryan Christensen, the A list actor starring in the film.
  • Meet Ryan: Ryan Christensen is on top of the world. He is the gorgeous guy rising to the top of the acting world, and almost every female is obsessed with him. Ryan just wanted to do what he loved, but he never expected to have his every move scrutinized and followed by throngs of women. Literally. That fanatic obsession is exactly what leads him to meeting Taryn. Ryan is clearly guarded, but is oh so charming and fiercely protective of what he holds dear, but when he meets Taryn all bets are off.

Love Unscripted and Love Unrehearsed follows Taryn and Ryan as they try to give love a chance. Both of these characters have pasts and presents that make them reluctant to take the leap of faith. They are both guarded, and they have their reasons for holding back, but these books explore what happens when they give it all a chance.

When they come together it’s messy, complicated, and scary as hell, but the journey they go on together is one that will just make your heart melt.

These books are filled to the brim with swoon worthy moments, drama ridden crazies, and lines that will have you becoming a puddle of emotions. They also contain some unforgettable supporting characters that are the icing on the cake! (Try not to like them. I dare ya!)

Some of my favorite aspects of the books:

  • It’s a love story, hello?! What can I say, I am a sucker for a love story. I love reading about love, and watching two characters fall for one another. (NEWSFLASH: If you don’t, this book probably isn’t for you.) And boy do they fall in this story. This love story is well described, and provides all the adorable little details that will make you want to put this couple on a Hallmark card ASAP. The love described is well thought out and written, and will have you fighting like hell that everything works out for the two lovebirds.
  • The drama. There’s no such thing as a love story without drama, right? Both Love Unscripted and Love Unrehearsed have some juicy bits of drama that may include, but are not limited to: psychotic fans, crazy exes, ridiculously good looking male characters, paparazzi galore, sneaky bitches, plenty of innuendo, a smidge bit of illegal substances, and more crazy fan mail than you can shake a stick at.
  • The moments radiating love. There are a ton of these moments within both books, and they will really make you see, feel, hear, and even touch all the love pouring out of this book. Feel the love people, feel the love.
  • The length of the books. Now clearly I enjoy reading, so book length isn’t daunting to me whatsoever, so I personally prefer a good book that provides a solid plot line and characters over a longer than average book. I spent almost 1,000 pages combined with Taryn and Ryan. Some may say these books are too long, but the plot line is well developed and the characters keep the story going. (And honestly, by the end, I still wanted to read more!)
  • The A list guy and the girl next door. It’s a story you think you’ve heard before, but this spin is well worth the ride. Ryan Christensen is to die for. He is good looking, charming, and he has a heart of gold. Taryn is the girl you love to love, who is witty, loving, and actually has her shit together. She fights like hell for what she wants, and is as strongly independent as you can get. (Score one for strong female characters!) And who wouldn’t enjoy reading about an A list actor falling for the girl next door?
  • How it all comes together. (The lack of further explanation here is deliberate. No spoilers here. You want to find out what happens to Taryn and Ryan, go read the damn books. Now. Please and thank you.)

Love Unscripted and Love Unrehearsed tells the story of two people who have every reason to not believe in love, yet find themselves putting their faith in one another. This story contains moments that will make you want to laugh out loud, smile, and maybe even cringe. (But in a good way, I promise!)

It may be a sappy love story, oozing with heart rendering moments, but it is story that will have you truly believing and trusting in the power of love.

And who doesn’t want that? (For the record, that question can be considered rhetorical if you do not want to answer yes.)

Hope you enjoyed this two for one special. It was definitely worth the late nights of reading.

Let me know what you think, and I am curious to see what opinions you all have of love stories in general.

Let the reading of love commence!

ps. If you’d like to learn more about Love Unscripted and Love Unrehearsed by Tina Reber, feel free to check out the following links:

http://www.tinareber.com/ (website)

https://www.facebook.com/authortinareber (Facebook)

https://twitter.com/tinareber (Twitter)

Sea Change, By Karen White

The time has finally come for the egg to hatch. It is now time for my first book review on The Never Ending Book Basket. If you’re new to the blog, please feel free to peruse the site to learn more about what is going on up in here. (Insert DMX song lyrics here… Now can’t you here that song in your head, or is that just me?)

But without further ado, let the book talking begin.

Sea Change, By Karen White

Sea Change, By Karen White

I will preface this review by saying that this is not the first book that I have read by this author, Karen White. It is actually the fifth. I stumbled across one of her books in a used book store a few years ago, and fell in love with the fantastic characters she created in her book Falling Home.  Since then I have been hooked, and I have slowly been making my way through the many wonderful books she has written. (Let’s just say I am really happy I stumbled across that first book, because she is by far one of my favorite author’s currently, and pretty much has been since I read that first book)

This time I found myself reading her book Sea Change, which was published in 2011. Sea Change follows two interwoven stories set on St. Simons Island in Georgia. The book presents two love stories two hundred years apart: Pamela and Geoffrey in the early 1800s, and Ava and Matthew in the present day. The way that these characters love stories intertwine together is simply breathtaking, and will have you reeling to figure out how everything and everyone fits together.

One of the most notable characters in the book is the setting of the story itself. Karen White does a simply remarkable job of describing the south, and how life works there. As someone who has lived in the grey area between the north and the south, it was easy as taking in a breath to feel as if you were standing there with the characters in the setting that Karen White describes. (Though I will point out Maryland is below the Mason Dixon line, technically making it apart of the south) The setting of the book is a character unto itself, helping set up many of the story lines that occur, as well as just being so thoughtfully described that it is easy to imagine you can taste the salt of the St. Simon’s air on the tip of your tongue.

Sea Change, like many of Karen White’s books is told in multiple perspectives of women who are interconnected throughout the story. Ava, her mother Gloria, and Pamela’s stories are seamlessly created and connected together over the course of the book. Each of their stories presents an intricate puzzle piece that helps make the big picture clearer by the end. One thing I love about the books I have read by Karen White is that she does a glorious job of meshing a little bit of mystery, and a whole lot of love together to make a story that will hook you in until the very last page.

I won’t get too deep into the actual plot line of the story, to find that out you’ll just have to read the book. Now before you get all pissy, didn’t I tell you I wouldn’t be revealing anything on here, but I will be super sweet and give you a smidge of a tease. 🙂

This story follows Ava as she embarks into a new chapter in her life after marrying Matthew after a rather short, but meaningful courtship. She then finds herself living in a new place, surrounded by people who know more about her husband and his past then she does, while she still finds herself looking for something she doesn’t yet know how to describe. Ava is searching for something, has been all her life, and this story captures that journey at its most mysterious peak.

Along with her story, you will get to see inside the head of Gloria, Ava’s mother, and will begin to understand more about Ava’s past, and how present events came about. And if that isn’t enough to get you hooked, the book then presents Pamela’s story, told 200 years prior to present day. Pamela’s story in itself is enough to make you swoon, and will have you desperately trying to connect all the puzzle pieces you will receive while reading this book.

Let’s just say, the finished puzzle is well worth making your mind go into overdrive to connect it all. Once realized, the connections and stories created throughout the book are simply magical, and will probably make you want to call your mother. (You don’t have to do that, but let’s just say you’ll probably want to.)

I must say that when I often describe Karen White’s books to others, I usually say “Her books are what I imagine a Nicholas Sparks book would be like if I ever actually read a Nicholas Sparks book.”(I only say Nicholas Sparks just so that the people who are more familiar with his books, can begin to have a frame of reference for what I am saying)  I have said this quite often as I adore her books, and while I have actually read one Nicholas Sparks book, I’m not sure my descriptor of this author’s books is doing her enough justice. Every single one of Karen White’s books that I have had the joy to read has been simply unforgettable. In each book she presents a dynamic group of characters all linked in some way, while setting her stories in various mesmerizing locations in the south. If you never considered loving the south, be warned, you will LOVE it after reading any one of her books.

Simply put, Karen White’s books are the go to for brilliant stories filled with vibrant characters set in the charming south.

In closing, Sea Change presents a moving story told by a dynamic group of connected women who will go to extraordinary odds for those they love. That is honestly what I took away most from reading this book. Love. This story demonstrates the power within love, and within those who will do anything in their power to show it, create it, find it, and spread it to those who matter most.

If you would like to learn more about Karen White and her books, the link to her website and Facebook page is below. (And I truly recommend any of her books. This was my fifth time reading a book of hers, and I cannot wait to read the rest. Be assured, this will not be the last time one of her magnificent books is on this page.)

http://www.karen-white.com/

https://www.facebook.com/karenwhiteauthor

Until next time fellow book addicts, may your desire to read far outweigh any errant thought that could drive you to stop.