Review: The Shack, by William Paul Young

The ShackThe Shack by William Paul Young
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While most of my friends seem to have a love or hate relationship with this book, I can’t say that I do. I am the rare reader that didn’t have a strong opinion about this book, one way or the other. I found it to be good and entertaining enough, but I didn’t find it to be life-changing or especially inspirational for me. It was certainly a change from my usual type of story, so that was refreshing in a sense. However, in the end it was in the “good but not great” category for me.

‘The Shack’ tells the story of Mackenzie, aka “Mack”, whose youngest daughter was abducted and murdered. Mack is expectedly devastated and distraught. He is also exceptionally angry at God, feeling that a worthy god wouldn’t have allowed such a heinous crime to occur to such an innocent young girl as his daughter, Missy.

Understandably, Mack is never the same man after the loss of Missy. His relationships are forever changed as he drowns in his own guilt and misery. He has lost faith and turns his back on God.

When Mack receives a note in his mailbox from God, luring him back to the cabin where his daughter was murdered, he doesn’t know what to think. Could somebody be so cruel as to play this type of a sick joke on him? Is the murderer still watching and toying with him? Could the murderer want to kill him as well? Is it possible that Missy could still be alive?

Mack doesn’t know what to think. However, he knows that he won’t be able to rest until he gets to the bottom of it. Borrowing a Jeep from a friend, he sets out for the cabin – the site of his worst nightmares.

During his time at the cabin, Mack has if forced to confront his loss of faith. Over the course of the book, he gets the closure that he needed and leaves a changed man. It was about as rosy as it could get for a book that centered on the murder of a child.

Personally, I didn’t feel any great sense of peace or satisfaction while reading this story. While I can see why some people felt that this book restored their faith and gifted them with a greater sense of empathy, it just didn’t work that way for me. I saw where author was going, I just wasn’t jumping on board that train.

In fact, I think I was more upset with Missy’s killer by the end of the book than Mack was. I couldn’t let it go. I wanted vengeance and justice for her young life. I wasn’t going to be satisfied unless the child murderer was found and put to death. That’s just me though, I’m bloodthirsty like that.

I’m also not what I would consider to be a very religious person. I don’t offend easily and I respect the views of others. I was raised as a Methodist, but I’m not a devout follower by any means.

That being said, nothing ever amazes me like the lack of tolerance that many self-professed “Christians” have for anyone with views that differ from their own. (Not that this is a phenomenon exclusive to Christians either. There seems to always be some in every group/religion.) We all know them, they’re the “my way or the highway” and “what I believe is right and your beliefs are wrong” people. A quick glance at the reviews for this book revealed that it has garnered lots of that type of attention–no big surprise there.

On the one hand, I can see that the author attempted to bridge the gap and present a book that might cross religions. However, since the book was so heavily based on Christian principles and beliefs, this attempt fell flat. It was clear that the god presented was based on Christian teachings.

Yet, even amongst Christians there are many differences in theology. This author focused largely upon one of those areas where different denominations have varying beliefs — free will vs. predestined fate. The author was clearly in the “free will” camp. Not surprisingly, readers who fall in the “predestined fate” camp will take issue with one of the major premises of the story.

If you are able to appreciate a story that has strong religious themes that may or may not align with your beliefs, then you might enjoy this one. I found it to be a good story, but I would have liked to feel more of a sense of justice. Things at the end were too nice, tidy and convenient for me.

If I were a more religious person, I might have enjoyed it more, or I might have despised it…who knows? It might be a great choice if you’re looking for somebody’s response to the age-old question, “Why does God let bad things happen to good people?” For me it was good, just not great.

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Review: Until November (Until, #1), by Aurora Rose Reynolds

Until November (Until, #1)Until November by Aurora Rose Reynolds
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘Until November’ has been sitting on my TBR for what seems like forever. I’d been meaning to start this series, but just never quite got around to it. When the audiobook went on sale, I decided to take the plunge with this one.

November has left New York City and headed south to live with her father following a brutal attack. She can’t escape the feeling that she’s being watched and hunted. Even when she arrives in her father’s town, the eerie feeling hangs with her.

Glad to have her in his life, November’s father arranges to have her work at the club that he owns with his brother. He wants November to manage the bookkeeping and financial side of the operation, steering clear of the club during the nighttime. He may own a strip club, but he won’t have his daughter hanging around during the busy hours (hypocritical much?).

When November first meets Asher Mayson, he is a total asshat. He’s rude, presumptive and completely out of line. In fact, he’s pretty much a domineering jerk for most of the book. Luckily, I love an a$$hole and Asher really grew on me.

It turns out that despite being a jerk, Asher is quite the Alpha-male protector as well. That comes in handy when the threats against November start to escalate. It quickly becomes clear that her fears weren’t unfounded. Somebody is out to get her.

Along with Asher, comes a bevy of sexy brothers. Each of them is instantly willing to protect November as one of their own. It seems that Asher wasn’t the only one that had a bad case of “insta-love” when he met November. His brothers are equally taken with her, but in an entirely platonic way.

Despite the rapid pace with which November and Asher’s relationship progressed, I enjoyed this story. Yes, the timeline was a little unbelievable. They had like one date and then they’re moving in together. From that point forward, it’s family planning and HEAs.

To enjoy this story, you have to be able to overlook the insta-love. It wasn’t an issue for me this time. On another day, it might have been a problem. I can be a moody reader like that.

This book introduces a robust cast of supporting characters. I’m sure that most of them will get their own books later in the series. Aside from Asher’s sexy siblings, there’s a brief mention of November’s cousins. Her crazy mother and ex-fiancé also play an important role in this book. (Let’s just say her mother won’t be getting any “mother of the year” awards anytime soon.)

Eventually, everything comes to light and the mystery surrounding the attacks against November is solved. I can’t say I was terribly surprised with the way it worked out. However, it was still shocking in a “how terrible” sort of way.

Although this book is the first in the series, it can easily be read as a standalone. It doesn’t leave you hanging with any unanswered questions about November and Asher. It will leave you curious about some of the secondary characters and pave the way for their books.

Overall, this was a good book for me. It was entertaining if you’re in the mood for an over-the-top, controlling Alpha-male type of story. If not, pass on this one until you are. This is the type of story that could swing one way or the other for me, depending upon my mood.

I listened to the Audible version and I have to say that I do not recommend the audio. For me, the narration was terrible. I could barely stand Asher’s voice. If you’re considering the audiobook, listen to the sample. This was one of those times when I wished that I had. I think that I would’ve liked the book more if I had read it versus listened to the audiobook. Then again, I listen to everything at 2x – 3x speed, so maybe it isn’t so bad at the normal rate.

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Grab THE KNIGHT by Skye Warren NOW!

“Positively sinful, and outrageously sexy! Emotions run high and readers will be left gasping.” – New York Times bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones

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The power of pleasure…

Gabriel Miller took everything from me. My family. My innocence. My home. The only thing I have left is the determination to get back what’s mine.

He thinks he’s beaten me. He thinks he’s won. What he doesn’t realize is that every pawn has the chance to become a queen.

And the game has only just begun.

THE KNIGHT is book two in the Endgame series from New York Times bestselling author Skye Warren about revenge and seduction in the game of love.

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EXCERPT:

“Still giving orders, little virgin? Is that something you’re born with in the St. James family, or did they teach you that along with your ABCs?”

Rage tightens a knot in my stomach. “I’m not a virgin.”

“No?” he asks, lifting a hand to my face.

I stand very still as he captures my chin between his thumb and forefinger, torn between wanting to wrench away and wanting him to kiss me. How can he make me feel alive when I’ve been sleepwalking for months, years? What sick twist of fate let the hands of this man bring me pleasure?

“You made sure of that.” I mean the words to come out cold, unhurt. Instead I sound breathless and somehow inviting. The white carpet may as well be streaked with red. We’re both back in his bedroom, both flushed and sated and ripped to shreds from what he’s just done.

He lifts my face, almost tender. “I put my cock into your warm little hole. Pushed right through that thin hymen to do it. It felt like fucking heaven to break you open.”

I’m a tuning fork in his hands, and the sound I make is pure arousal. “I despise you.”

“You were so wet,” he says, almost thoughtful. “But some of it was blood, wasn’t it?”

“I’m going to find a way to get my house back.”

He bends his head slightly, enough that our lips are an inch away, the words a tickle of breath against my lips. “I got off on the slide of your blood on my cock. I came that way, spilling salt into the fresh open wound.”

There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to him, no line I wouldn’t cross in this moment. My anger takes an unholy shape, rearing back with all the fury and fear of a wild horse ready to trample his enemy. “And God help me, I’m going to ruin you. The way you did my father. I’m going to break you.”

He nudges my chin higher, exposing the vulnerable line of my throat. His mouth drops to the tender skin, a whisper of a kiss. “Do you want to make me bleed, little virgin?”

The violence takes me by surprise. My swing is wild, aimed straight for his face with all my strength. He catches my wrist midmotion, the abrupt stop shooting pain down my arm. We’re frozen that way, him holding me, breathing each other’s air.

“Don’t call me that,” I say between clenched teeth.

“Little virgin.”

“I’m not. You saw the proof of it. You paid a million dollars for it.”

“Actually,” he says, voice deceptively mild. “I paid a million dollars to use you for a month. And as that month isn’t over yet, I think I’d like to collect.”

Shock courses through me, singeing every angry intention. “No.”

“And as for your virginity, there are a hundred ways you haven’t been taken. A thousand ways you haven’t been fucked. A million dollars left to earn.”

“That money’s mine. You sent me away.”

“And yet,” he says, echoing his earlier words, “here you fucking are. This is what you wanted. This is what you came for. Did you really think you’d see me and walk away without my come inside you?”

My gasp sounds virginal even to myself. “Of course I did.”

He uses the hold on my wrist to drag me closer, off balance, almost falling into him. His warmth surrounds me, along with a musk my body remembers. Alarm bells ring more than they did this morning. A strange man could hurt me, but Gabriel—he’s worse. My own kryptonite.

“Here’s the thing about fucking a virgin,” he whispers, breath a caress on my temple. “You gave me your pretty little hymen, the small spill of blood. The first feel of those walls squeezing my cock. And there’s no way to get it back, not ever. No matter who else you fuck. Even if you settle down with some prep-school fucker and let him climb on top of you every single night, I’ll always be your first. You will always be my little virgin.”

The show of possession does something strange to me. It should be offensive. It’s meant to be offensive, but the humiliation turns liquid and hot inside my body. And the worst part is, I can’t even deny the truth. He left an imprint inside me. I can still remember the stretch of him, the burn. The very shape of that heavy thickness I can feel against my stomach now. And anyone who comes after him, they’ll never quite fill the space he carved inside of me.

“That’s right,” he murmurs, soothing now that I’ve acquiesced. “I’ve got you.”

“No, we can’t—”

He releases my wrist only to run a finger along my cheek. “So young. You look so young like this.”

“It’s the makeup,” I say with difficulty. And the hair. And the clothes. In a thousand ways I was different before, the society princess. What am I now? Almost homeless. Definitely scared.

His eyes gentle, more brown than they’ve been before. “You didn’t think you were getting fucked today. You got dressed and took the bus and came up the elevator having no idea.”

“Don’t feel sorry for me.”

A slight smile. “Not enough to stop. Take off those clothes. Let’s see what you look like when you’re just a sweet, innocent college girl and not the toy I bought at auction.”

Start the series today!

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BUY NOW:

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Blurb:

“Sinfully sexy and darkly beautiful, The Pawn will play games with your heart and leave you craving more!” – Laura Kaye, New York Times bestselling author

The price of survival…

Gabriel Miller swept into my life like a storm. He tore down my father with cold retribution, leaving him penniless in a hospital bed. I quit my private all-girl’s college to take care of the only family I have left.

There’s one way to save our house, one thing I have left of value.

My virginity.

A forbidden auction…

Gabriel appears at every turn. He seems to take pleasure in watching me fall. Other times he’s the only kindness in a brutal underworld.

Except he’s playing a deeper game than I know. Every move brings us together, every secret rips us apart. And when the final piece is played, only one of us can be left standing.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

THE PAWN is a full-length contemporary novel from New York Times bestselling author Skye Warren about revenge and seduction in the game of love. It’s the first book in the brand new ENDGAME series.

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The cover and blurb for THE CASTLE by Skye Warren is here!

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preorder now!

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2jmNICN

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Blurb:

I’m safe in the ivory tower Gabriel Miller made for me. That’s what he says. Enemies lurk outside, waiting to strike. An army of enemies held back by these walls.

Except some animal instinct warns me the danger is much closer. It’s already here. Is Gabriel Miller my protector or my enemy? Is this house a castle or a cage?

There’s nowhere for me to go, no one left for me to trust.

No escape from a past determined to capture its prize.

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About the Author:

Skye Warren is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance such as the Chicago Underground series. Her books have been featured in Jezebel, Buzzfeed, USA Today Happily Ever After, Glamour, and Elle Magazine. She makes her home in Texas with her loving family, two sweet dogs, and one evil cat.

Contact Skye:

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Review: Crooked Kingdom, by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If I thought that ‘Six of Crows’ was action-packed, I hadn’t seen anything yet! ‘Crooked Kingdom’ followed Kaz Brekker and his gang of misfits as they sought revenge on those who had wronged them, beginning with a plan to free Inej from their grasp. Listening to the Audible version, I again found myself having to rewind on occasion in order to keep track of what was going on.

While this sequel was full of exciting adventures and plenty of scheming, I loved that I felt like I got to know each character better. Glimpses into their pasts are provided, giving readers a more comprehensive understanding of these unique individuals. This served to endear these characters to me, even more so than the first book.

Given the high level of action and adventure provided in this book, it was nice to have those aspects of the story balanced by the more emotional stories of each character. One minute I was on the edge of my seat, hoping they’d make it out of their most recent debacle in one piece. The next, I was fighting back tears as Inej recounted her early days at the brothel.

Overall, I thought that this was a fantastic book. It had plenty of twists and turns along the way. If you like a suspenseful action/adventure story, this is a wonderful choice. Although it was far more sentimental than the first book for me, I still needed a little more of a focus on the romance…but that’s just me. I’m looking forward to being reunited with these characters in the future, as I’m pretty positive we’ll be hearing from them again.

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Review: A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1), by George R. R. Martin

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1)A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was raw, gritty, barbaric and downright crass at times…and I loved every damn minute! This was an ancient, epic adventure that consumed my thoughts. In fact, I just spent $100 to download seasons 1-5 of the HBO series after finishing this audiobook because I loved it so much.

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around everything that took place and who everyone is. This book had an extremely robust cast of characters and a complex, multifaceted storyline. Don’t get too attached to anyone either, as Martin has no qualms about killing off a few characters, even those that seem critical. I’ve lost a couple of my favorite guys already, and this is only the first book. On the upside, some got what they had coming and I couldn’t have been happier.

As much as I loved the story, if I had it to do over, I wouldn’t have listened to the Audible version. Now that I have though, and I’ve managed to get everything straight in my head, I’ll probably continue in that format. The narration was fabulous, but the story was simply too complex for me to keep up with in that format for the first book.

I tend to listen while doing other things that require some of my attention, like driving or housework. This is not a book that you can do that with. I had to back up the story several times because I’d get lost or have trouble remembering who somebody was.

That is the only reason that I gave this book a 4-star and not a 5-star rating. It might have rated higher if I’d read the Kindle version. It was just too hard to keep everything straight at times. So many people and so many stories being told. I needed a cheat sheet to keep things straight.

I don’t want to spoil anything, because I think these stories need to be experienced firsthand. I’m completely hooked on this series now. I’m on to the next one, ASAP.

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