Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Interview with a Vampire

Ok, sorry, I just couldn't resist the play on words with the title :) It's more like: Interview with a Vampire ... Author. LOL.

It's an interview with Stephenie Meyer, and it's worth reading. It's got fresh material, instead of just recycling what Steph's said in the past. A good reason to actually read Vogue.

Link here

Monday, February 23, 2009

Books for March & April

I know some of us are still reading The Shack (including me) but I thought I'd post the books for March and April, so people can get themselves on the library waiting lists (assuming, of course, that your library has a waiting list for these books...)

For March, we're going to be reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.
For April, we're going to be reading The Girl Who Could Fly by
Victoria Forester.

I don't anticipate there being a wait for
A Thousand Splendid Suns, but you never know. I know some of us are already on the waiting list for The Girl Who Could Fly, so the rest of you can check it out and see if you need to get yourself on the waiting list.

These are just general timeframes. If you find yourself with The Girl Who Could Fly sometime in March, don't let that stop you from reading it :)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Shack

I finally finished reading The Shack, by William Paul Young. It took me longer to get through than I had anticipated. I also didn't like it as much as I thought I would. Perhaps I had elevated expectations due to all of the praise it has received; perhaps I'm just so used to being spiritually fed from the source of all truth that this book couldn't really hit the mark.

I don't want to say too much in case the rest of you haven't finished (or started) it yet. I did like the plot of the book: a man named Mack, whose youngest daughter was abducted and possibly murdered in an abandoned shack, receives a note purportedly from God inviting him to spend a weekend at that shack. What happens that weekend changes Mack forever.

It's a good storyline. My main problem with the book is theological. While I can understand the 'whys' behind some of the author's characterizations and the ways he presents some of the story, I disagree with parts of it. That's not to say that I found all of the book to be doctrinally false. There are parts that I do agree with from a theological standpoint.

What stands out to me the most is the idea that God never abandons us, even in our deepest, darkest moments of sorrow, pain, or hardship. He is always there; it remains for us to be able to recognize His presence and turn to Him for help. I think The Shack did a decent job of getting that point across. As I was in the midst of reading this book, I came across the text of an address given by Elder Jeffery R. Holland entitled Lessons from Liberty Jail. I think this address makes the same point as The Shack, but in a more concise and concrete way. Just a quick quote:

"...[Y]ou can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experience with the Lord in any situation you are in. Indeed, let me say that even a little stronger: You can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experience with the Lord in the most miserable experiences of your life—in the worst settings, while enduring the most painful injustices, when facing the most insurmountable odds and opposition you have ever faced."

For the entire text of the address, click here.

There is no question that Mack went through what for him was a "prison-temple" experience, similar in some ways to the experience of Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail as described by Elder Holland. I think that, for those people who may be unfamiliar with the idea of God being one who truly knows us as individuals and loves each of us immeasureably, this book can be eye-opening and truly moving.

I hope someone else has read it or is currently reading it. I'd be interested in discussing The Shack on a more in-depth level, and I'd love to know what the rest of you thought about it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Year Down Yonder

I finished this book a week ago and thought I'd better finally get around to posting something about it. It was a really quick read. I didn't notice until I got home from the library that it is a sequel to another book, even though it says so right on the cover. (When you go to the library with three kids, the oldest age 4, you don't have much of an opportunity to really look at some things. The title I was looking for was there, I grabbed it, and off we went to the children's section.) You definitely don't need to have read the other book (titled A Long Way From Chicago) in order to understand what's going on, but I'll probably look for it when I go back to the library.

Anyway, to get right to the point, I liked A Year Down Yonder. It was funny! Really, it gave me the best laugh I've had from a book in a few months. I got a good laugh out of the valentines, but Maxine and the snake was hilarious! In fact, I kept snickering about it for a good five minutes after I put the book down!

Grandma is definitely a character, and my favorite in the book. Hard-working, enterprising, caring and understanding underneath her crusty exterior, and a jokester! (Not very many grandmothers would spike the punch at a chapter meeting of the DAR!) I was pleased to see her relationship with Mary Alice develop into one of mutual affection and respect.

It seems like so many of the books that are lauded by critics and given awards are depressing. So it was a pleasant surprise for me to find a critically-acclaimed story to be so amusing. I generally like the Newbery books, but this one was definitely deserving of the award.

Great pick, Sarah!