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Monday, March 27, 2017

#Book #Review: 4 out of 5 stars for The Shack by Wm. Paul Young

TITLE: The Shack
AUTHORS: Wm. Paul Young
PUBLISHER: Windblown Media
PUBLICATION DATE: July 1, 2007
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 252 pages
GENRE: Christian Fiction
ISBN: 9780964729230
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.

In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant The Shack wrestles with the timeless question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?" The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You'll want everyone you know to read this book!

MY REVIEW:

Mackenzie Allen Philips has had a rough life. His father was an abusive drunk, and Mackenzie took matters into his own hands (in more ways than one) when he left home at the age of 13.

Now, in his 50s, Mackenzie has a loving wife and they have been blessed with five beautiful children. He takes his three youngest children on a camping trip, and they have a wonderful time. On the last day as the family is packing up to return home, tragedy strikes. His two older children are on the lake in a canoe and, when it capsizes, his son is pinned underneath. Mackenzie dives into the water to save his son. When he returns to shore, his youngest child cannot be found. Little Missy was last seen coloring at the picnic table at the family’s campsite, and a ladybug pin is left behind. The FBI is called in and that ladybug pin is the abductor’s calling card, and there have been other similar cases but the outcome is never good and the bodies are never found. Missy’s torn and bloody dress is later found in an abandoned shack, and all hope is lost. What can be worse than the loss of a child? Mackenzie is living every parent’s worst nightmare. The family merely exists in their grief for the next four years, when Mackenzie receives a strange note in the mailbox signed by “Papa” which is his wife’s loving nickname for God. Papa tells Mackenzie that he has missed him and that he’ll be at the shack (yes, the same shack where Missy's dress was found) the following weekend if he wants to get together. Sounds crazy, right? Is someone playing a sick joke on him?

I think we’ve all gone through some difficult times and probably each one of us has questioned God: Why me? Why did this happen? Am I being punished? How could God let this happen? Those are tough questions. In this book, the author answers those questions and attempts to explain where God is during our times of sorrow and suffering. I was very emotional reading this story. It hits close to home, and it’s a tough read. I totally get that our own pain, grief, and sadness can swallow us up and make us unable to move forward. When the bitterness and hatred set in, then it's even harder. I empathize with Mack's struggle to forgive the man who killed his daughter. Who wouldn't?? However, the message behind the story is uplifting and is a comfort and definitely gives food for thought.

I saw this movie in the theatre, and I bawled my eyes out nearly the entire movie! I loved how the Holy Trinity was portrayed, and I thought they each were fabulous. The movie stays very close to the book, except for the ending. I definitely prefer the book ending to the movie ending!

MY RATING:
4 stars!! It was really good, and you should put it on your TBR list!

This book qualifies as:

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


This weekly meme is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

I'm reading: 

Something from my dusty bookshelf.

AUTHORS: S.J. Watson
PUBLISHER: Black Swan
PUBLICATION DATE: 2012 (first published April 28, 2011)
FORMAT: Mass Market Paperback
LENGTH: 372 pages
GENRE: Mystery, Thriller
ISBN: 9780552164122
'As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I'm still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me ...'

Memories define us.

So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep?

Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love - all forgotten overnight.

And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.

Welcome to Christine's life.


Something from my bookshelf. This is my vintage 1970 edition, which I've kept from my childhood! I'm reading it aloud to my daughter, and our plan is to make our way through the whole series. This is a re-read for me, but I honestly don't remember a thing about it! It read it when I was young.

SERIES: Oz, Book #2
AUTHOR: L. Frank Baum 
PUBLISHER: Scholastic
PUBLICATION DATE: 1970 (first published 1904)
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 192 pages
GENRE: Children's Fiction, Classics, Fantasy
ISBN: 0590085654

"You'll never bother me again," says Mombi the witch, "once you drink this magic brew."

"What'll it do?" cries poor Tip.

"It will turn you into a marble statue!"

Tip's heart beats wildly.

Can a mere boy escape from a witch's evil power?

But this is Oz -- the marvelous, magical land where anything can happen!


I'm still listening to:

Something from my review pile.

AUTHOR: Amanda Bouchet
NARRATORS: Mia Barron
PUBLISHER: Recorded Books
PUBLICATION DATE: January 3, 2017
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 11 hrs and 42 mins
GENRE: Fantasy, Romance
She's destined to destroy the world...

"Cat" Catalia Fisa has been running from her destiny since she could crawl. But now, her newfound loved ones are caught between the shadow of Cat's tortured past and the threat of her world-shattering future. So what's a girl to do when she knows it's her fate to be the harbinger of doom? Everything in her power.

But not if she can help it

Griffin knows Cat is destined to change the world-for the better. As the realms are descending into all-out war, Cat and Griffin must embrace their fate together. Gods willing, they will emerge side-by-side in the heart of their future kingdom...or not at all.


I just finished:

TITLE: Compulsion
AUTHORS: Heidi Ayarbe
PUBLISHER: Balzer + Bray
PUBLICATION DATE: May 3, 2011
FORMAT: Hardcover
LENGTH: 304 pages
GENRE: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Mental Illness
ISBN: 9780061993862

Today has to be perfect.

Magic.

I look at the clock.

10:14 AM.

Ten fourteen. One plus one is two plus four is six plus ten is sixteen minus one is fifteen minus two is thirteen. OK.

I turn from the clock and walk into the hallway. "Ready."

Saturday will be the third state soccer champion­ship in a row for Jake Martin. Three. A good number. Prime. With Jake on the field, Carson City High can't lose because Jake has the magic: a self-created protection generated by his obsession with prime numbers. It's the magic that has every top soccer university recruiting Jake, the magic that keeps his family safe, and the magic that suppresses his anxiety attacks. But the magic is Jake's prison, because sustaining it means his compulsions take over nearly every aspect of his life.

Jake's convinced the magic will be permanent after Saturday, the perfect day, when every prime has converged. Once the game is over, he won't have to rely on his sister to concoct excuses for his odd rituals. His dad will stop treating him like he is some freak. Maybe he'll even make a friend other than Luc.

But what if the magic doesn't stay?

What if the numbers never leave?

Acclaimed author Heidi Ayarbe has created an honest and riveting portrait of a teen struggling with obsessive compulsive disorder in this breathtaking and courageous novel.


TITLE: Heist Society
SERIES: Heist Society, Book #1
AUTHORS: Ally Carter
PUBLISHER: Hyperion Book CH
PUBLICATION DATE: February 9, 2010
FORMAT: Hardcover
LENGTH: 287 pages
GENRE: Young Adult, Mystery
ISBN: 9781423116394

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family's history--and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.


What are you reading? Have you read any of these books and, if so, what did you think? Please let me know in the comments and, if you are also participating in this meme, leave me a link to your blog post so that I can stop by!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Stacking The Shelves and Sunday Post

This meme is hosted by Tynga over at Team Tynga's Reviews, which she describes as follows:

"Stacking The Shelves is all about the books we are adding to our shelves each week, sharing with you our excitement for our newest titles and maybe have you discover a new book in the process!"


Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme



Well, that was a rough week! I stayed home from work on Monday and worked a half-day on Tuesday, but I probably should have stayed home the whole day! The worst of it now is this nagging cough. For the most part, it has been dry but sometimes it's productive and gets the gunk out of my chest. I had some issues with dizzy spells a few days ago, but I think that was from not eating for four days. My daughter still has that phlegmy, wet cough as well but is otherwise feeling good.

It's Spring Break, so I am taking the week off to spend with my kids! Too bad we're a bit under the weather, but at least we can sleep in and hopefully recover completely. I am still planning to get out and do some fun things with them. The weather looks beautiful. Waking up today to +2 degrees Celsius (that's 35 degrees Fahrenheit) and looking at a high of +9 degrees Celsius (that's 48 degrees Fahrenheit), woo hoo! I'm definitely planning to go for a walk this afternoon in the sunshine.

Here's my backyard, and things have been melting. I'm seeing more and more of my grass (sorry for the reflection in the photos, but the sun is shining right in):



If you missed it earlier, I have ARCs to swap. Check out MY POST to see if there's anything there that you'd like to read. If so, please let me know! I'd love to trade with someone. I will be adding to it once I have a chance to dig through boxes and bookshelves.


I bought these audiobooks from Audible at their 2-for-1 sale:


In the Barren Ground by Loreth Anne White



The Night Stalker by Robert Bryndza
(Detective Erika Foster, Book #2)



I received this audiobook gift from Shane:


Gorgias by Plato

Thanks again, Shane!


Recap: Last Week On The Blog







What books have you added to your shelves this week? If you are also participating in either of these memes, please leave me the link to your blog post in the comments so that I can come and drool over all your goodies!

Friday, March 24, 2017

#Audiobook #Review: 5 out of 5 stars for Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard @cathryanhoward @BlackstoneAudio

TITLE: Distress Signals
PUBLISHER: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
PUBLICATION DATE: February 2, 2017
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 11 hrs and 42 mins
GENRE: Mystery, Thriller
A debut thriller that channels Gone Girl, from the newest writer to watch, Catherine Ryan Howard.

The day Adam Dunne's girlfriend, Sarah, fails to return from a Barcelona business trip, his perfect life begins to fall apart. Days later, the arrival of her passport and a note that reads "I'm sorry - S" sets off real alarm bells. He vows to do whatever it takes to find her.

Adam is puzzled when he connects Sarah to a cruise ship called the Celebrate - and to a woman, Estelle, who disappeared from the same ship in eerily similar circumstances almost exactly a year before.

To get answers, Adam must confront some difficult truths about his relationship with Sarah. He must do things of which he never thought himself capable. And he must try to outwit a predator who seems to have found the perfect hunting ground.

MY REVIEW:

I received a complimentary copy of this audiobook for voluntary review consideration.

Whoa, I totally didn’t see that coming! What an ending! Loved it, loved it, loved it!!!

I was a bit hesitant when I read that in the synopsis that this psychological thriller featured cruise ship disappearances, because I worried that it might be too similar to The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware (which I read earlier this year and loved). While both stories are set on cruise ships, the stories are very different. I loved them both! I always wanted to take a cruise one day, but now I’m not so sure!

I love how the author told this story from three points-of-view:

  • Adam: He is 30 years old and lives with his girlfriend, Sarah. While he pursues his dream of writing screenplays and waiting for that big day to come when he finally sells a script, Sarah works full-time to support them with nary a complaint. She leaves Ireland to go to Barcelona on a business trip. When Sarah fails to be on the return flight and Adam is unable to reach her, he gets worried.
  • Corinne: She is an older woman in her 60s, working aboard a cruise ship. However, it appears that her job is merely a front for what she is really up to, which is that she is looking for someone.
  • Romain: His mother always compared him to his younger brother, Jean, saying that she wished that he could be more like him. In her eyes, Jean could do no wrong. Romain lives for the weekends, when his dad comes home from working in the city. While Jean is Mama’s favourite, Romain is Papa’s. 

Howard totally hooked me from the first chapter, and I loved how the plots and sub-plots became tangled together. The story moves quickly, and I found myself swept up into the drama. If you enjoy plot twists, you are going to love this one! I can’t wait to see what Howard writes next.

Some books are ideally suited to audio, and this is one of them. The narrators gave an exceptional performance, especially Alan Smyth who portrayed Adam. His narration alone kept me on the edge of my seat because of the fear, desperation, and tension in his voice. He had me riveted. Both Bronson Pinchot and Suzanne Toren were wonderful as well, but Smyth stole the show! He made me wish that my work commute was longer. For me, this audiobook was unputdownable! Here’s a sample of the narration:



MY RATING:
5 stars!! It was superb, and I just loved it and will likely re-read it again in the future! You should definitely put it on your TBR if you enjoy psychological thrillers or mysteries.

This book qualifies as:

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday: Cold Summer by Gwen Cole @GwenCole_ @skyponypress


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Here is this week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection:


TITLE: Cold Summer
AUTHOR: Gwen Cole
PUBLISHER: Sky Pony Press
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: May 2, 2017
FORMAT: Hardcover
LENGTH: 256 pages
GENRE: Young Adult, Science Fiction/Time Travel
ISBN: 
9781510707665
Today, he’s a high school dropout with no future.

Tomorrow, he’s a soldier in World War II.

Kale Jackson has spent years trying to control his time-traveling ability but hasn’t had much luck. One day he lives in 1945, fighting in the war as a sharpshooter and helplessly watching soldiers—friends—die. Then the next day, he’s back in the present, where WWII has bled into his modern life in the form of PTSD, straining his relationship with his father and the few friends he has left. Every day it becomes harder to hide his battle wounds, both physical and mental, from the past.

When the ex-girl-next-door, Harper, moves back to town, thoughts of what could be if only he had a normal life begin to haunt him. Harper reminds him of the person he was before the PTSD, which helps anchor him to the present. With practice, maybe Kale could remain in the present permanently and never step foot on a battlefield again. Maybe he can have the normal life he craves.

But then Harper finds Kale’s name in a historical article—and he’s listed as a casualty of the war. Kale knows now that he must learn to control his time-traveling ability to save himself and his chance at a life with Harper. Otherwise, he’ll be killed in a time where he doesn’t belong by a bullet that was never meant for him.

This one sounds intriguing. I want to know why he keeps going back to the WWII time period. Can't he jump anywhere else?? I guess I'll have to wait to find out!


What are you waiting on? Please leave a comment in the section below. If you participate in this meme, please leave a link so I can visit your blog!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Top Ten Books That Will Make You Read The Whole Day Away #TopTenTuesday


This is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers will answer. Everyone is welcome to join!

Today's list is:

Top Ten Twelve Books That Will Make You Read The Whole Day Away

A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
(Kingmaker Chronicles, Book #1)


Pax by Sara Pennypacker
2016 National Book Award Nominee for Young People's Literature


Unbroken (YA Adaptation) by Laura Hillenbrand


The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware


A Magical Christmas by Heather Graham


The Exorcist (40th Anniversary Edition) by William Peter Blatty


The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne


The Beast by J.R. Ward
(Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book #14)


Beg for Mercy by Jami Alden
(Dead Wrong, Book #1)


Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
(Harry Potter, Book #1)


Written in Red by Anne Bishop
(The Others, Book #1)


Shadow's Claim by Kresley Cole
(The Dacians, Book #1)


So, what books made you want to read the day away? Please let me know in the comments, or leave me a link to your blog post if you are also participating in the meme!

Monday, March 20, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


This weekly meme is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

I'm reading: 

Something from my TBR mountain.

TITLE: Compulsion
AUTHORS: Heidi Ayarbe
PUBLISHER: Balzer + Bray
PUBLICATION DATE: May 3, 2011
FORMAT: Hardcover
LENGTH: 304 pages
GENRE: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Mental Illness
ISBN: 9780061993862
Today has to be perfect.
Magic.
I look at the clock.
10:14 AM.

Ten fourteen. One plus one is two plus four is six plus ten is sixteen minus one is fifteen minus two is thirteen. OK.

I turn from the clock and walk into the hallway. "Ready."

Saturday will be the third state soccer champion­ship in a row for Jake Martin. Three. A good number. Prime. With Jake on the field, Carson City High can't lose because Jake has the magic: a self-created protection generated by his obsession with prime numbers. It's the magic that has every top soccer university recruiting Jake, the magic that keeps his family safe, and the magic that suppresses his anxiety attacks. But the magic is Jake's prison, because sustaining it means his compulsions take over nearly every aspect of his life.

Jake's convinced the magic will be permanent after Saturday, the perfect day, when every prime has converged. Once the game is over, he won't have to rely on his sister to concoct excuses for his odd rituals. His dad will stop treating him like he is some freak. Maybe he'll even make a friend other than Luc.

But what if the magic doesn't stay?

What if the numbers never leave?

Acclaimed author Heidi Ayarbe has created an honest and riveting portrait of a teen struggling with obsessive compulsive disorder in this breathtaking and courageous novel.


Something from my bookshelf. This is my vintage 1970 edition, which I've kept from my childhood! I'm reading it aloud to my daughter, and our plan is to make our way through the whole series. This is a re-read for me, but I honestly don't remember a thing about it! It read it when I was young.

SERIES: Oz, Book #2
AUTHOR: L. Frank Baum 
PUBLISHER: Scholastic
PUBLICATION DATE: 1970 (first published 1904)
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 192 pages
GENRE: Children's Fiction, Classics, Fantasy
ISBN: 0590085654

"You'll never bother me again," says Mombi the witch, "once you drink this magic brew."

"What'll it do?" cries poor Tip.

"It will turn you into a marble statue!"

Tip's heart beats wildly.

Can a mere boy escape from a witch's evil power?

But this is Oz -- the marvelous, magical land where anything can happen!


I'm listening to:

Something from my review pile.

AUTHOR: Amanda Bouchet
NARRATORS: Mia Barron
PUBLISHER: Recorded Books
PUBLICATION DATE: January 3, 2017
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 11 hrs and 42 mins
GENRE: Fantasy, Romance
She's destined to destroy the world...

"Cat" Catalia Fisa has been running from her destiny since she could crawl. But now, her newfound loved ones are caught between the shadow of Cat's tortured past and the threat of her world-shattering future. So what's a girl to do when she knows it's her fate to be the harbinger of doom? Everything in her power.

But not if she can help it

Griffin knows Cat is destined to change the world-for the better. As the realms are descending into all-out war, Cat and Griffin must embrace their fate together. Gods willing, they will emerge side-by-side in the heart of their future kingdom...or not at all.


I just finished:


TITLE: The Shack
AUTHORS: Wm. Paul Young
PUBLISHER: Windblown Media
PUBLICATION DATE: July 1, 2007
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 252 pages
GENRE: Christian Fiction
ISBN: 9780964729230
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.

In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant The Shack wrestles with the timeless question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?" The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You'll want everyone you know to read this book!


PUBLISHER: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
PUBLICATION DATE: February 2, 2017
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 11 hrs and 42 mins
GENRE: Mystery, Thriller
A debut thriller that channels Gone Girl, from the newest writer to watch, Catherine Ryan Howard.

The day Adam Dunne's girlfriend, Sarah, fails to return from a Barcelona business trip, his perfect life begins to fall apart. Days later, the arrival of her passport and a note that reads "I'm sorry - S" sets off real alarm bells. He vows to do whatever it takes to find her.

Adam is puzzled when he connects Sarah to a cruise ship called the Celebrate - and to a woman, Estelle, who disappeared from the same ship in eerily similar circumstances almost exactly a year before.

To get answers, Adam must confront some difficult truths about his relationship with Sarah. He must do things of which he never thought himself capable. And he must try to outwit a predator who seems to have found the perfect hunting ground.


AUTHOR: Eve O. Schaub
NARRATORS: Callie Beaulieu
PUBLISHER: Tantor Audio
PUBLICATION DATE: March 1, 2017
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 8 hrs and 58 mins
GENRE: Nonfiction, Autobiography/Memoir
ISBN: 9781515901761
Eve has a problem with clutter. Too much stuff and too easily acquired, it confronts her in every corner and on every surface in her house. When she pledges to tackle the worst offender, her horror of a "hell room", she anticipates finally being able to throw away all of the unnecessary things she can't bring herself to part with: her fifth-grade report card, dried-up art supplies, an old vinyl raincoat. But what Eve discovers isn't just old CDs and outdated clothing, but a fierce desire within herself to hold on to her identity. Our things represent our memories, our history, a million tiny reference points in our lives. If we throw our stuff in the trash, where does that leave us? And if we don't...how do we know what's really important? Everyone has their own hell room, and Eve's battle with her clutter, along with her eventual self-clarity, encourages everyone to dig into their past to declutter their future. Year of No Clutter is a deeply inspiring - and frequently hilarious - examination of why we keep stuff in the first place, and how to let it all go.


What are you reading? Have you read any of these books and, if so, what did you think? Please let me know in the comments and, if you are also participating in this meme, leave me a link to your blog post so that I can stop by!
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