Saturday, September 24, 2011

Book Review: The Shack by William Paul Young

The Shack by William Paul Young was released in May of 2007 and there's been a buzz about it ever since. After hearing so many recommendations to read the novel (usually something along the lines of "it will change your life", or "it's revolutionary" or "all Christians must read this"), I broke down and purchased it on sale from Amazon for $6.

Here is a summary of The Shack, courtesy of Goodreads:
Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his "Great Sadness," Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever.

I spent months reading this 250 page novel; not because it was long or I didn't have time, but because I made the mistake of putting it down. It's a quick read when you get into it, but I never felt compelled to pick it up again after setting it down. Young does a wonderful job of character development: Mackenzie is a father everyone can relate to. Readers feel the emotions he has as he struggles with his daughter's murder. They relate to his struggles when he meets the Trinity in The Shack. Because of this, I can see why many readers would recommend this to their friends.

For me, it was dry. I did not feel my world was shaken, revolutionized, or that I'd suddenly renewed my faith in God. It was an ok read with an interesting perspective on God, the Trinity, and faith. Nothing more.

Me in the summer of 2009, on a hike overlooking Wallowa Lake
My favorite part about the novel, of course, was the setting. The Shack is located in the "wilderness" surrounding Wallowa Lake in Northeastern Oregon. It's about an hour's drive from where I attended college, and a perfect setting to "meet God". The lake itself it beautiful, and the surrounding towns are adorable. I highly recommend it as a vacation spot for those of you interested in hiking, fishing, and relaxing :)

I recommend this novel for anyone who was already looking to read it. For those of you who weren't...well, you aren't missing out on much.

My stats:
The Shack by William Paul Young
Rating: 3/5
Pages: 250
2011 Reading Goal: 9432/12500

Book Review: Commandant of Auschwitz

A few years ago, I was browsing a book sale held every year at my college. The sale was for the Women's Club, and sold thousands of books donated by the community. Books were sold by the inch, for only $0.75 per inch. Needless to say, it was one of my favorite book sales ever.

What I liked most about it was the uniqueness of books found. Some were textbooks; others, bestsellers. And the best ones? They came from the libraries of professors. Commandant of Auschwitz, by Rudolf Hoess, was among them.

As many of you may know (or perceived from previous novels read), I'm fascinated with the events of WWII, both in Germany and America. Commandant of Auschwitz is a true account from the Auschwitz Commandant's perception of all the events taking place in Auschwitz and other concentration camps.

I've had this book, which consists of only 235 pages, on my bookshelf for a while now. It should, theoretically, be a quick, easy read. But it isn't. My stomach was churning with every page. The accounts of what happened sickened me.  I applaud Hoess for his honest recollection while in prison waiting to be murdered for the events in Auschwitz. Not one group in the camp goes unexamined by Hoess, including Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews, women, and homosexuals.

A particularly disturbing excerpt from the book reads:
" By will of the Reichsfuhrer SS,  Auschwitz became the greatest human extermination center of all time. When in the summer of 1941 he himself gave me the order to prepare installations at Auschwitz where mass exterminations could take place, and personally to carry out these exterminations, I did not have the slightest idea of their scale or consequences. It was certainly an extraordinary and monstrous order. Nevertheless the reasons behind the extermination program seemed to me right. I did not reflect on it at the time: I had been given an order, and I had to carry it out. Whether this mass extermination of the Jews was necessary or not was something on which I could not allow myself to form an opinion, for I lacked the necessary breadth of view."

Hoess continues to describe, in great detail, the look, function, and activity taking place in gas chambers. He estimates numbers killed (which never made it to the millions, because Hoess believed there was no way there had been millions murdered).

This novel is an incredible first-person account of Auschwitz. I recommend it to anyone interested in the events of World War II in Germany.

My stats:
Commandant of Auschwitz by Rudolf Hoess
Rating: 5/5
Pages: 235
2011 Reading Goal: 9182/12500

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Book Review: Bed Rest by Sarah Bilston

 Hi everyone! I hope this finds you on 9-10-11 enjoying a lovely, relaxing weekend!

This is my uber busy time of the year. As you probably recall, I'm a recruiter for a local college. As such, I travel from mid September-mid December, Monday-Thursday. It's really great and I love my job, but it can be a little stressful preparing to live out of a suitcase for three months. Anyway, I'm taking the morning off from stressing and finished a book I started months ago. My brother and sister-in-law got me a large (and beautiful!) stack of 14 books for Christmas last year. I'm still working my way through them. In the pile was Bed Rest by Sarah Bilston. It looked really intriguing, so it was the first of that large stack I picked up. In February. And just now finished.

Here's the Goodreads Summary:

Quinn "Q" Boothroyd is a young British lawyer married to an American and living in New York City. She's checked off most of the boxes on her "Modern Woman's List of Things to Do Before Hitting 30," and her busy working life has been relatively painless. But when her doctor tells her she must spend the last three months of her pregnancy lying in bed, Q is thrown into a tailspin. Initially bored and frustrated, Q soon fills her days by trying to reconnect with her workaholic husband, provide legal advice for her sweet Greek neighbor, forge new emotional bonds with her mother and sisters, and figure out who will keep her stocked up in cookies and sandwiches.

Q experiences adventures on the couch she never would have encountered in the law firm and learns a lot about herself and what she wants out of life—and above all, about the little one growing inside her.

And my review:

Bed RestBed Rest was a surprisingly disappointing novel. The characters created are highly realistic and even likeable, but the plot was definitely lacking. It's short (my edition is only 215 pages) but torturous for the reader. The main character, Q, is put on bedrest during her last three months of pregnancy. All she has to journal about is what takes place in her home--guests, relationships, etc. But ultimately, there is not enough of a storyline to warrant this long of a book.

It's unlikely I'll pick up any more of Sarah Bilston's works, or recommend them to a friend.

My stats:

Bed Rest by Sarah Bilston
Rating: 2/5
Pages: 215
2011 Reading Goal: 8,947/12,500

I can't promise I'll be posting much these next couple of weeks, with traveling, studying for my GMAT, and applying for Grad school, but I hope to connect with you all soon! :)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Book Review: Indelible by Karen Slaughter

Hello my friends! Happy labor day weekend! I've made my to-do list for this weekend ridiculously long, which indicates to me that we need more three-day weekends :)

I'm not actually sure where this book came from, but I found Indelible by Karin Slaughter sitting on my bookshelves. Before reading this novel, I'd never even heard of Karin Slaughter. I guess this book is #4 in a location series, but I didn't feel lost at all when reading it. With location series, I find it's not necessary to read them sequentially. With character series, though, it's practically a must they be read in order.

Anyway, here's the description, courtesy of Goodreads:

An officer is shot point-blank in the Grant County police station and police chief Jeffrey Tolliver is wounded, setting off a terrifying hostage situation with medical examiner Sara Linton at the center. Working outside the station, Lena Adams, newly reinstated to the force, and Frank Wallace, Jeffrey's second in command, must try to piece together who the shooter is and how to rescue their friends before Jeffrey dies. For the sins of the past have caught up with Sara and Jeffrey - with a vengeance.

 I was super impressed with this book. It's told in both the past and present. That is, the chapters alternate between being present, in the hostage situation, and reflecting on Sara Linton and Jeffry Tolliver's past. Slaughter wrote with such detail to where the reader feels they are really there, in both stories, times, and places. I felt like I, too, lived in Grant County. I could not put this book down, it was that enthralling, just as a good mystery should be. I recommend this novel to anyone who loves a good mystery. 

I will definitely continue reading her books. In fact, as it just so happens, I had unknowingly picked up the next novel in the series, Fearless, at the local secondhand bookstore's going-out-of-business sale. It's taking all my strength to not snatch it up and dive right in :)

Here are my stats for the book:
Indelible by Karin Slaughter
Rating: 4/5
Pages: 358
2011 Reading Goal: 8,732/12,500

P.S. I've added a new poll to the bottom of the page, which will be there until September 15th. Cast your vote today! :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Giveaway Results: Seven Year Switch

The results are in for the giveaway to win Claire Cook's Seven Year Switch.

The winner is....





There was only one entry, and it was myself, testing to see if the form would work. I know I don't have many followers; however, with 2,003 page views, I was surprised to find no entries for the giveaway.

I may try to do another giveaway in the future, because I don't want to give up on it after just one try.

In the meantime, I suppose Seven Year Switch will be donated to the local Salvation Army. It will find love again--soon, I hope.

Stay tuned for a really good review on Karin Slaughter's Indelible. I just finished it tonight, after not being able to put it down! :)