The Shack by Wm Paul Young

I read this book after a friend lent it to me, urging me to give it a go. To be honest, I wasn’t that interested and it took me months to get round to picking it up. One morning, I just saw it on the book shelf and thought, it’s time.
I read it over the weekend and honestly, I have never cried so much over any book. I can’t really explain what it was that made me so emotional but I see from other reviews that it had the same effect on many other people.
The Shack is a story of family, loss, and devastating grief…but more than that, it’s about hope, forgiveness and above all, love.
If you can read it with an open mind and an open heart and not get too bogged down in the theological questions it really does uplift and move you in ways you wouldn’t believe possible. I have read so many reviews which focus on whether or not this book is heretic or blasphemous, debating The Shack’s message and comparing it with Biblical passages to see how it stands up. The fact that God appeared to Mack as an African-American woman seems to distress some, and some are angered by the assertion that each member of The Holy Trinity is equal – three parts of the whole, with no hierarchy.

I’m not an expert on the Bible but I do know that I have grown weary and disillusioned with religion – tired of the “only my church is right” attitude and the arguments and anger and bitterness that seems to be the one sure way to put anyone off believing in God. People may rant against this book, stating that it is “un-Christian” or against God, that it goes against the teachings of the Bible, whatever. What I do know is that it made me feel closer to God than I have in a long time. It made me look at Him/Her/It with fresh eyes and it made me feel as if I might actually matter to whatever God is. I woke up the following morning (after an evening sobbing over this book!) and I sat up in bed and what popped into my head? The question: “What did you learn from this?” and my answer: “I am loved.”
So really, argue all you like about the theological issues, but if you read this book and let yourself really feel what is happening within its pages you may just be amazed to find that the other stuff doesn’t matter at all, because whatever religion, race or sex you are, God is especially fond of you…5/5

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The Shack

The Hollow Heart by Adrienne Vaughan

I really loved this novel. The story of Marianne Coltrane, a campaigning journalist, is gripping from the start. The author really puts her heroine through the mill and the story is action-packed, full of twists and turns, tugging at the emotions from the beginning to the end.
The plot is rich and eventful but the characters are what makes this novel stand out. Marianne, whose life is filled with drama from the day she is born, is a very worthy heroine. Courageous, strong and compassionate, she is a lovely character who makes the reader root for her from the start.
Such a great heroine deserves a very special hero, and Ryan O’Gorman is such a man. At first, I was wary of him, wondering if he was really worthy of our girl, but gradually he won me over when it became very obvious that his overwhelming love for Marianne was indeed genuine.
The couple are surrounded by an amazing assortment of secondary characters, endearing, annoying, amusing and eccentric. In turn they made me laugh, they made me cross, and they made me cry. Monty, the adorable Westie, is a major character and I fell in love with him from the moment he appeared.
The island itself is a major character, and the author is brilliant at describing this magical setting and igniting a desire to visit Ireland and take in the beautiful scenery.
This novel will tug at every heartstring, evoke every emotion and fill your thoughts when you have to put it aside to do other things (trust me, I know!) so that you can’t wait to get home and escape back to Innishmahon to find out what’s happening next – and believe me, there is always something happening. I won’t go into any more detail because I don’t want to spoil the story for others, but there is a moment of genuine shock and heartbreak quickly followed by a twist and a truly satisfying conclusion.

I am so pleased I bought this novel and am very much looking forward to reading the sequel. I can’t wait to find out what happens next! 5/5

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