“Best of Me” isn’t the best of Sparks




When leaving for my vacation, I decided to pack a book for those early mornings I would find myself soaking in a hot tub in the middle of the Smokey Mountains relaxing all by myself. While I had many books to chose from I decided upon the book The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks.

I made this decision party because I keep seeing the trailer for the upcoming movie of the same title and partly because as much as I hate to admit it, I love a good sappy Nicholas Sparks’ book.


Now before you make judgements about that or decide I lose all credibility as a reader or writer let me say this: I realize Nicholas Sparks books are a little hokey. I also realize they are far from masterpieces. However, there’s something about them I enjoy and find entertaining. Please don’t judge me for my confession in this, and I will try not to judge you for the fact you read all three Fifty Shades of Grey novels.

The story centers around two main characters-Dawson Cole and Amanda Collier who meet and fall in love in high school. Dawson is your average boy from the wrong side the tracks who has been abused and belittled by his family his entire life, while Amanda is the perfect girl who was born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Of course her parents don’t want her to have anything to do with Dawson, which only makes these two want each other more. As all star crossed love stories go, these two are forced to go their separate ways and begin new lives apart from each other. Amanda grew up, married and had children, but Dawson never could move on and forget about her.

After 20 years apart the two are forced to see each other again and face all their inner demons when a close mutual friend of the two passes away and leaves notes and instructions in order to reunite these two. However, neither of them are the same person they were in their youth.  Both of them have had their fair share of tragedy and bad luck. Amanda lost a child and is married to an alcoholic she can hardly stand to be around,  and Dawson spent years in prison  for a car accident strictly because he carried the Cole name.

After their time together, Dawson and Amanda must decide whether to go back to their old lives or rekindle their romance.

While I won’t give away any details, I will say the ending, like the majority of Sparks’ books,  is pretty sad. I also saw the twist at the end coming much before it actually did, which took a little bit of the impact away from me I’m sure.

There are a couple of Sparks’ books that end happily but, I pretty much always go into them expecting the absolute worse. Readers of this one should be warned that it may leave you with a somewhat unpleasant feeling. Bittersweet is the best way to put it.

While I can’t ever recommend a book by Sparks to the masses because I think it takes a certain breed of hopeless romantic to read one, I will recommend it to those of you like myself who are self deprecating and enjoy screaming at your book when you’ve finished.

Even thought it  wasn’t the best Nicholas Sparks book I’ve ever read and I saw the ending coming a mile away, I still enjoyed reading it and am looking forward to seeing the movie. However I don’t think it’s necessary to go out and buy the book. You might as well wait until October 17th and see it in theaters.





*Photos courtesy of IMDB and Relativity Media


A Gatlinburg Treat

Recently I went on a little vacation to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. While I was on my trip, I threw out all my inhibitions, and I ate whatever I wanted to. I didn’t think about calories once, and the idea of carbs never even crossed my mind. After dieting for quite a while, I can promise you, this week was quite liberating.

I say that because you need to know upfront, that I ate my fair share of sweets.

From the chocolate chip pancakes with peanut butter syrup I had at the world famous Pancake Pantry to the many samples of fudge and taffy we had along Parkway, I definitely got a taste of what Gatlinburg had to offer.

Because this blog is called Sweet & Exceptionally Read, though, I thought I should let my readers know about the best morsel of sweetness I had on this retreat to the Smokies—a cinnamon roll from Davy Crocket’s Breakfast Camp.


Davy Crocket’s Breakfast camp was certainly a hidden gem. In all my research of Gatlinburg, I never once read an article about Crocket’s, nor did anyone suggest it to me. However, while driving down the street looking for a breakfast spot, we ran into this little restaurant and believe it or not, we judged the book by the cover. The outside was cute, so I immediately wanted to go there.

The menu had dozens of delicious looking options, but my eyes zeroed in on the cinnamon roll immediately. I would venture to say that my favorite sweet in the entire world is a cinnamon roll. I honestly could eat them every day and have—on multiple occasions—eaten a Cinnabon as my dinner.

When I ordered the roll, I wasn’t expecting something the size of my head to come out of the kitchen, but when it did I accepted the challenge silently.


The pastry portion was perfection. It was warm, sweet and perfect consistency, while the cinnamon filling was an exceptional mix of sugar and spice. The icing on the top was some of the best icing I’ve ever tasted—not just on a cinnamon roll. My experience was divine and by far the best thing I had while on vacation in Gatlinburg.

Not only do they make cinnamon rolls, but they make cinnamon roll French toast. My husband ordered this, and it is not your ordinary French toast with a little icing and cinnamon mixed in to make it taste like a cinnamon roll. Instead they literally take a cinnamon roll, dip it in eggs, vanilla and milk and then fry it up like French toast. The result is one of the most decadent dishes you can find on the Gatlinburg strip.

While there are many things I can recommend along the streets of Gatlinburg, one stood out above the rest. Next time you’re in Gatlinburg make note of the cute little restaurant with a giant skillet for a sign, and do yourself a favor by ordering the giant cinnamon roll.

Not only will you thank me after, but you will eat every last bite—just like I did.