Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Shack - William P. Young - Finished Feb 6

Unfortunately, this was another book that I hated!  I suffered through it, but it was awful.  As I've mentioned, I am not very religious, and the book was all about God and religion.  I thought I might be able to see past all of that, but I was wrong.  I also thought that maybe I could appreciate this, even if I didn't have the same beliefs -- wrong again.

Basically, the main character, Mackenzie, has suffered a great loss.  His daughter, Missy, was abducted while they were on a camping trip.  One day, while Mackenzie is out at the mailbox (in a snowstorm) he gets a letter that tells him to go to "the shack".   The letter is signed "Papa", and Mackenzie is confused, not only because "Papa" is the affectionate term that Mackenzie's wife uses for God, but also because he slipped on the ice and hit his head pretty hard.  There is a ton of snow, and Mackenzie knows he won't be able to use his own car to get up to the shack. He borrows a friends car, and heads up to the shack.  

The reader finds out at this point that the daughters blood was found in this shack, which isn't far from the campsite that the family was at when Missy was abducted.  So, Mack heads to the shack in his friends truck.  He gets there, and it is just as he remembered it -- a shack.  He goes into the shack, and rests right where the dried blood from his daughter is.  When he wakes up...everything is different.

Instead of it being a horrible, snowy, winter day, there are now flowers blooming, sun shining, and everything is just dandy.  He realizes he isn't where he fell asleep (in the shack), he is outside of the shack, and there is a beautiful smell emanating from the kitchen.  He heads in, and finds Papa (God) is a huge black lady.  He is then introduced to Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. These three are all in human form, and have decided to help him.  The story is extremely drawn out, but basically Mack is able to forgive himself, and others for things that have happened in the past.  God shows him that the world is a place full of chaos, and teaches him a lot about himself.

On this "journey" God leads Mackenzie to his daughters body.  He is able to have a somewhat peaceful and nice memorial service to her, and eventually the weekend is over.  God has taught everything she thought necessary to Mackenzie, and sends him on his way.  He is given the opportunity to either stay with them, or continue living his life.  He chooses to go back home, but on the way home he is involved in a serious car accident.  At this point, I'm thinking, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  I just read all of this, and the dude can't even go home and tell his family what happened?  I thought he had died instantly in the crash, but you find out that he is okay, but has to stay in the hospital for a while. I think what drove me the most crazy, was now that he had been involved in this accident, would anyone believe his story?  Or would they all just chalk it up to some sort of concussion or something?

Whatever, needless to say, I got through the book, and wasn't impressed.  I felt like the book was written poorly, and sloppily.  I'm not saying I could do better, but I think William Young could have done a lot better.  I guess for your first book, it wasn't awful -- but I don't see myself picking up another book by Young.

One out of five stars.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

P.S. I Love You - Cecelia Ahern - Finished Feb. 1, 2010

PS, I Love You

"Finding someone you love and who loves you back is a wonderful, wonderful feeling. But finding a true soul mate is an even better feeling. A soul mate is one who understands you like no other, loves you like no other, will be there for you forever, no matter what. They say that nothing lasts forever, but I am a firm believer in the fact that for some, love lives on even after we're gone."

P.S. I HATE THIS BOOK. OMG.  I somehow managed to struggle through this, and finish, but whoa was that a struggle.  (So, just a quick side note -- I don't know where I heard this, so I could be completely incorrect, but someone told me that Cecelia's father is the prime minister somewhere -- someone should let her know that doesn't make her a good writer.  More power to her for trying, but FAIL.)  

So, let's be honest for a minute, I think that the book had a lot of potential.  I mean the story line is great. What really turned me off, was how long and drawn out the book was.  I felt like it could have been much shorter, and still gotten the point across.

Holly is the main character, and in the beginning of the book, her husband Gerry passes away from a tumor.  Before he gets sick, he jokes around with Holly saying things like "I don't know what you are going to do with out me".  He is constantly joking around with her about the things that she will forget once he is gone, so he decides that he is going to write down everything for her. 

Once Gerry passes, Holly falls into a deep depression.  Her mother calls her one day to check on her one day, and lets her know that there is a package waiting for her at their house.  When Holly opens the package, there are envelopes inside with months written on each of them.  Gerry has written her letters for each month, for a year.  (By the way, I think that is really sweet, but I also think it deters Holly from getting over the fact that her husband died, and moving on with her life.)  

Again, like I said, I thought this book had a lot of potential.  In the letters Gerry is urging Holly to do things that she never would have done, like Karaoke, and a trip to Europe.  Once the letters stop coming, Holly falls back into her depression, but she finally comes out of it, when she realizes she has fallen in love.

If the book was shortened, it would get a few more stars, but alas:  1 out of 5 stars.

Happy Reading!


Exposure - Brandilyn Collins - Jan 2010

Okay, so for Christmas this year I got a Kindle from James' parents.  Best. Gift. Ever.  Anyway, so Amazon has a whole list free books that you can download.  When I found this out, I honestly went download crazy.  I was downloading everything that was free, in hopes of finding some awesome authors I've never heard of.  I would go back day after day and keep downloading whatever was free that day. This all sounds great, however, most of the free books are published by Christian publishing houses.  I had no idea about this -- and didn't even catch the hint from the summary of this book.  The summary actually caught my attention, and I thought, HMM, maybe this is a new author that could be great!

Well, I wasn't wrong.  Brandilyn Collins can write a book, there are just a TON of references to God, and lots of praying.  However, if you can look past all of that, the book was actually pretty good.

The main character, Kaycee, has always had a fear that someone was watching her, and it seems like her fear is becoming a reality.  A year ago, her best friend died, and she has become more paranoid than ever.  Kaycee keeps seeing a picture of a dead man, everywhere.  She finds it on her digital camera, her computer and even her TV.  She knows that the police already think that she is a little nuts, but she knows that she has no choice but to report these incidents.  She believes that someone is breaking into her house, and putting these pictures everywhere.  Each time, the picture shows a little more detail, and it always says "we are watching you".  Kaycee's best friend's daughter, Hannah, is having a hard time dealing with her mothers death, especially since her father has already remarried. Hannah decides that she is going to run away to Kaycee's house and stay with her, but on the way...she disappears.

There are actually two stories unfolding, which had me confused for a while.  And when I thought I had figured it out -- I was wrong again!  While reading about Kaycee's struggles, and Hannah's disappearance, we also learn of a family that is quite disfunctional.  The father, Martin, partakes in a bank robbery (of his own bank), and winds up getting himself killed.  His motive was to get money to help his sick daughter, however everything turns out horribly.  Once the father has been killed, the mother flees with the young girl, and they are never heard from again.  

Back to Kaycee and Hannah's story -- Hannah is still missing, and now Kaycee thinks that whoever is watching her, and leaving all these pictures is responsible for Hannah's disappearance. 

Through many twists and turns, the ending is a shocker.  We find out that the young girl that was sick, is actually Kaycee, and the man that killed her father, was now after her (for the money).  We find out that Kaycee's mother hid the money, and only took a little bit so that she could start fresh.  Kaycee and her mother got new identities, and started fresh, and Kaycee doesn't really remember much about it.  The man from the mob wants Kaycee to tell her where the money is, but Kaycee doesn't know, and he doesn't believe her. 

Aside from all the religious mambo-jumbo, I really enjoyed this book.  Although Brandilyn Collins is a Christian writer, I might try some of her other novels too.

3 out of 5 stars.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Odd Thomas - Dean Koontz - Jan 2010

Slow. Very slow. Way too drawn out.

Anyway, Odd Thomas, the main character is a 20 year old short order cook.  He is able to see the dead, but not communicate with them.  Odd is often using his "ability" to help out the local police to solve crimes.  While at work one day, a mysterious man comes in with a hearty appetite.  He orders pretty much everything on the menu, and Odd nicknames him "Fungus Man".  Odd is not only able to see dead people, he also see what he calls "Bodachs".  Basically Bodach's are like shadows that are often surrounding people/places where something bad is going to happen.  Fungus man is surrounded with Bodachs, and not just a few, more than Odd has ever seen.  Partially curious, and partially worried, Odd follows his inner "GPS" to find this mans house.  Once he arrives, he finds a room that is full of Bodachs.  As he gets closer and closer, he finds that it is like a tunnel, as he enters, and walks to the end of the room, he is basically spit back out to the beginning again (huh??).  Terrified, Odd believes that this is some sort of portal to hell.  When the Bodachs clear out, Odd finds that the dark room is actually Fungus Man's home office.  He finds pictures of serial killers on the walls, and a small filling cabinet.  In the filling cabinet, Fungus Man has a ton of files, all with newspaper clippings and research about serial killers.  Obviously, this freaks Odd out, and with a little more searching he finds out what Fungus Man's real name is.  After finding that out, he goes back to the filling cabinet and sees a file with Fungus Man's name on it.  Unlike the other files, this one doesn't have clippings, or any other research.  It only holds a page ripped out of a day-planner, with the next day's date on it.  Odd realizes that this means only one thing -- in the next 24 hours, something terrible is going to happen.  Odd is lead to the mall, where there is a ton of bloodshed.  Odd is shot, but not before he unleashes his own furry, and kills a bunch of the "baddies".  Once he is released from the hospital, he goes back to his apartment, and spends a wonderful week with the love of his life, Stormy, only to later find out that Stormy was actually killed in the bloodshed at the mall. (boo. what in the heck?).  

It was kind of hard to relate to Odd.  Being young myself, there were a lot of things I just didn't agree with.  He didn't seem believable, and most of the time he just seemed crazy (which I guess was the point...).  This was the first book in a series, so I am sure I will read the rest of the books, however I am not rushing to read them. 

2 out of 5 stars.

Happy Reading, 

Beach House - James Patterson - Jan 2010

The Beach HouseAgain, being a huge fan of James Pattersons, I was expecting a lot!  In all honesty, I was pretty unhappy with this book.  It was still a quick read, but it just didn't grab me the way most of Patterson's books do.  The main character's name is Jack, and in the beginning of the book, his brother is found dead.  There is a heavy suspicion that his death was a suicide.  Jack's brother, Peter, is found dead on the beach after a huge beach house party.  His body is badly bruised, and the police hold strong that it was a suicide, and that Peter went for a swim during the night, when the tide was extremely rough.  Peter had been hired as a valet for the beach house party, which was hosted by Barry Neubauer.  Barry is a highly influential man, and also happens to be Jack's girlfriends father.  Many of Peter's friends join in to help figure out what actually happened that night.  Slowly, they are being killed off, and Peter is becoming more and more suspicious.  It is later found out that Peter was more than just a valet.  He was also a high-end prostitute.  He had been hired by the Neubauer's as well as other highly influential couples since he was a young boy (I think 15?).  There are pictures that serve as proof, and Jack decides to hold his own version of a trial, since the police won't give in.  He basically kidnaps all of the "guilty" parties, and holds his own impromptu trial at an empty beach house.  His grandfather, Macklin, is a private investigator, and he gets in on the action, acting as the judge for the trial.  Macklin and Jack decide to video the trial, and run it live on television.  

There were a ton of twists and turns that I wasn't expecting throughout the book, but I still wasn't thrilled with the book.  I would give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

Happy Reading!

I, Alex Cross - James Patterson - Jan 2010

Okay, so let me start by telling you -- I might be the biggest James Patterson fan...EVER.   Okay, probably not, but honestly...LOVE HIM! :)

So of course, it goes without saying, I enjoyed this book! I find that James Patterson's books are written in a way that makes them easy to read, and quite quick.  I think that is mostly due to the way the chapters are cut up.  There are a ton of chapters, but each chapter only has one or two pages. 

Alex Cross is a detective, with 3 small children.  His grandmother (Nana Mama) stays with the children, while he is out solving crazy crimes!  Nana Mama falls ill, and has 2 heart attacks, and Alex promises to better balance his work and his home life.  while Alex is celebrating with his family, he receives a phone call that his niece has been killed.  The killer has put his niece through a wood chipper and stuffed her remains into a garbage bag, and then threw it into the back of a car. Of course, Alex has to take on the case.  He ends up finding out that his niece (that he wasn't close with) was a high-end prostitute.  There is a large farm, which is used for the high end prostitution.  The man that runs the farm has cameras set up in his largest rooms, in hopes of using the footage for blackmail.  Zues (the killer), has requested two girls, however, once they go in, they don't come back.  The video reveals that one of the girls that went in was Alex's niece, and the other one was later found.  Finally, the second girl reveals that the killer, Zues, is actually the President of the United States' husband. ((EEW/EEK)). When Alex and the police go to arrest the President's husband, his aide ends up shooting him to make sure to somewhat control the scandal.  Nana Mama is feeling better, and has been taken care of by Alex's new love -- Brianna.  During the epilogue, Alex is contacted by Kyle Craig (basically an old colleauge that is now in prison because he's totally whacked out), warning him to be careful of Brianna....

Five out of Five Stars!

Happy Reading!

Dear John - Nicholas Sparks - Jan 2010

"Our story has three parts: a beginning, a middle, and an end. And although this is the way all stories unfold, I still can't believe that ours didn't go on forever." 

Okay, so Nicholas Spark's books always follow the same formula...Boy meets girl, they fall in love, something tragic happens, & happily ever after.  I'm not really one for this type of story, but honestly, I enjoy a light, easy read every now and again.  

So, John (the main character -- who is of course insanely beautiful) is in the military.  He goes home on leave, and goes to the beach to surf.  While he is at the beach he notices some other young adults playing around on the dock.  One of the girls, Savannah (who is also, of course, insanely beautiful), loses her purse and becomes extremely angry.  Savannah is in town with her church group building a house for Habitat for Humanity.  John notices Savannah as the "damsel in distress" and fishes the purse out of the water.  So of course, as soon as John saves the purse, Savannah falls in love (gimme a break right!?  --if it was that easy, we'd all be "in love").  After spending a little bit of time together, Savannah wants to meet John's family (come on Savannah, give it some time!), but John is reluctant.  John's father definitely has some quirks (he doesn't talk much, he has a very strict routine, an obsession with his coin collection, etc.), so John is worried about brining Savannah home with him.   When Savannah has dinner with John and his father, she has a great time.  She learns about the coins, and watches John's father.  Savannah grew up on a ranch with a neighbor she was very close with (the neighbor is actually a part of her church group -- so he is also at the beach).  The neighbor's brother was diagnosed with autism at a young age, and Savannah was often around to see and experience what autism was like.  After her visit with John's dad, Savannah believes that John's dad is autistic.  When she tells John about this, he flips out, and doesn't want to hear it.  I could definitely relate, as that would be the last thing I would want to hear, true or not.  Anyway, John heads back to Germany after his leave is up, and he makes a promise to Savannah to keep in touch.  They decide to write letters back and forth.  While John is away, his father gets very sick.  He comes home to see his father, and realizes that Savannah was probably right.  They continue to write, but the letters from Savannah become less and less frequent.  Finally, John gets a letter from Savannah, stating that she has fallen in love with another man, and is engaged to be married.  John is distraught, and spends all his time doing as many reckless things as he can to erase the pain he is going through.  When John's father passes, he comes back home to take care of his fathers estate.  While he is home, he makes a detour to go see Savannah.  He doesn't exactly know where to locate her, as they haven't talked for many years, but he goes to her hometown.  He finds through the grapevine that she is living in the house next to her parents ranch.  It all starts to come together, and he realizes that Savannah left him to marry the friend that she grew up next to.  She is now happily married, and taking care of the husbands brother, that has autism.  While having dinner with Savannah, John finds out that her husband has skin cancer, and it cannot be treated.  There is an experimental procedure at John's Hopkins, but Savannah and her family cannot afford that treatment.  John realizes how happy Savannah is, and decides to sell his fathers old coin collection, and donate the money to Savannah's family anonymously so that her husband can get the treatment he needs.  Of course, Savannah and her husband live happily ever after.

Okay, so I hate Savannah.  Let's just get that out to begin with.  Honestly, I think it is ridiculously cheesey that her and John fall in love that quickly, but if you overlook that...the chick is still whacked out.  With a love like that, you are going to leave him?  I just don't understand.  I know that long distance relationships are hard, but really?!  I just think that was extremely selfish.  Savannah tries to explain to John that the reason she did what she did was that she was "young and scared".  UGH, I just don't see it.  But, I was also pretty mad at John.  Instead of fighting for Savannah, he just lets her slip away.  

So -- the movie comes out, and I think - WOW, that would be a great movie to go see.  WRONG.  WORST. MOVIE. EVER. ((Well, maybe second worst -- after My Sister's Keeper)).  I know that when the author sells their story to a movie company they lose all the rights to it, but I really think that the changes in the movie were completely unnecessary and really didn't even make any sense.  UGH. 

Movie gets 1 out of 5 stars.

Book gets 4 out of 5 stars.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Fresh Start

I am an avid reader, and have decided to put myself to the challenge.  I joined the website Goodreads and joined a group that has challenged the members to read 50 books in a year.  I am pretty sure I can do that, and I've decided that I am going to document all of them on here. 

Leave me messages to let me know what you think.

Happy Reading!


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