1. The Shack by William P. Young
This is possibly the main reason I've stalled out on reviewing. I wanted to do a decent review of this one, but it's so complex that it just sucked the life out of me. People love this one or they hate it.
It's the story of a guy (Mack) whose daughter is murdered. He has sunk into a deep despair and then he gets a letter from God inviting him back to the shack where his daughter was murdered for the weekend. He reluctantly accepts the invitation and discovers that God has chosen to show Himself as an overweight black woman. Jesus also makes an appearance as does The Holy Spirit (known as Sarayu in the book). God proceeds to work with Mack and help him heal.
I thought parts of it were beautifully done. There is a scene where Sarayu sees Mack crying and starts to brush the tears off his face and into a bottle. This is a reference to one of my favorite scriptures:
You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book?
Psalm 56:8 NKJV
But I did think it made a lot of presumptions about God that were based on the author's opinion of who God is and not based necessarily on something Biblical. I am content to let fiction be fiction, but there are those who aren't. If you can't handle fiction with Biblical themes, this is probably not the book for you.
Am I glad I read it? Yes. Would I read it again? Probably not.
2. We're Just Like You, Only Prettier: Confessions of a Tarnished Southern Belle by Celia Rivenbark
Rivenbark is a humor columnist who specializes in Southern humor. Her books are collections of short articles and they really are laugh out loud funny. I have only read one of her other books, but this was the funniest of the two.
3. Cesar's Way by Cesar Millan
Cesar talks about his background and how he got started in the dog training business. I was really hoping to learn something practical that would help me with my "problem child", but mostly he spouts mumbo jumbo about projecting positive energy without telling the reader HOW to do that. That being said, I did find a few useful things and since I've read it, Butter has learned that she has to sit still and quiet if she wants dinner or wants out of her crate. She has also learned to sit. We're still working, but it's a good start!
4. Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood
LOVE this author, but this was not my favorite of her books. This is a collection of short stories and I think her novels are much better. Maybe I just need more time to get attached to characters.
5. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
This is coming out as a movie this summer. I highly recommend that you read the book before seeing the movie because it's wonderful.
It's heartwrenching and you just know that before it's over you will be crying, but she still manages to throw some surprises in.
BTW, it's the story of a family that conceives (through medical means) a child who will be a perfect match for their already-born daughter who has leukemia. By the time the designer baby is 13 (?), she is suing her parents for control over her own body.
6. One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
How many times have I heard how wonderful this series is? Too many. I had to struggle to make it through. The author tries to be funny (she reminds me of Haissen), but the one-liners and funny situations just aren't executed well. This was my second try (I've also read Plum Lucky), and it will be my last.
7. A Tale of Two Sisters by Anna Maxted
Another author that I like. There really wasn't anything spectacular about this one. It was interesting, but it's not something that stands out. A couple of months from now, I won't even remember what it's about.
8. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
*BONUS* This one is on my Herding Cats II Challenge list.
Kingsolver and her family vowed to be locavores (only eating locally grown foods) for one year. This is the story of why they chose to do that and how it all turned out. It's fantastic. It may sound boring, but it's anything but. I learned so much about such topics as genetic engineering, high fructose corn syrup, the nutritional differences between grass-fed and feedlot animals, etc. I'll just paste the passages I tagged below.
Each food item in a typical U.S. meal has traveled an average of 1,500 miles. -- page 5
Cattle and chickens were brought in off the pasture into intensely crowded and mechanized CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) where corn--which is no part of a cow's natural diet, by the way--could be turned cheaply and quickly into animal flesh. -- page 14 (funny since I tried to lure a cow with corn into letting me pet it the other day)
The Irish once depended on a single potato, until the potato famine rewrote history and truncated many family trees. We now depend similarly on a few corn and soybean strains for the majority of calories (both animal and vegetable) eaten by U.S. citizens. Our addiction to just two crops has made us the fattest people who've ever lived, dining just a few pathogens away from famine. -- page 54
The USDA advises that pH 4.6 is the Botulism-safe divide between these two methods [pressure cooking vs. boiling water bath]...some low-acid tomato varieties sit right on the fence...Modern recipes advise adding lemon juice or citric acid to water-bath-canned tomatoes. -- page 200
Cows that are fed grain diets in confinement are universally plagued with gastric ailments, most commonly subacute acidosis, which leads to ulceration of the stomach and eventually death, though the cattle don't usually live long enough to die of it...Factory-farmed chickens and turkeys often spend their entire lives without seeing sunlight. -- page 239
Meat and eggs of pastured animals also have a measurably different nutrient composition...USDA studies found much lower levels of saturated fats and higher vitamin E, beta-carotene, and omega-3 levels in meat from cattle fattened on pasture grasses (their natural diet), compared with CAFO animals. -- page 239
Rolled in a sturdy paper bag in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator [potatoes] will keep six months or more. --page 267