Book and Movie Review: The Shack

Book and Movie Review:  The Shack

by William Paul Young

My Rating:  ***** (5 out of 5)

Why Did I Read/Watch?

This book and movie was recommended to me by a friend.  It had a great impact on her and her family, and she thought I would like it, too (she was right).

Summary (from Goodreads)

Mackenzie Allen Philips’ youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his “Great Sadness,” Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.

Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever.

In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant The Shack wrestles with the timeless question, “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?” The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You’ll want everyone you know to read this book!

* book description from the back cover

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I LOVED this book!  It is filled with so much insight.  I love the author’s understanding of God, as it is very similar to my own.  This book helped me to become more confident and comfortable in my own beliefs.  For several years, I had been struggling with an understanding I had come to realize that differed from my Catholic upbringing and the teachings of the Christian church(es) I have attended, but The Shack put me at peace with my beliefs.  I believe I was led to this book/movie to help me confirm that although my beliefs may differ from what everyone else around me in the churches are trying to teach, my beliefs are not “wrong,” and I need to be at peace with them and stand strong in them.  God really does send us the answers to all of our questions and concerns in some of the most amazing ways!

I enjoyed both the book and the movie, but I would definitely recommend the book over the movie if you would like to get the full understanding of all the messages the author is trying to send.

Movie Trailer:

Favorite Quotes:

I have so many favorite quotes from the book, there are way too many to add them all here.  Here are a few:

“Love always leaves a mark.” ~Papa

“Don’t ever discount the wonder of your tears. They can be healing waters and a stream of joy. Sometimes they are the best words the heart can speak.”

“Just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn’t mean I orchestrate the tragedies. Don’t ever assume that my using something means I caused it or that I need it to accomplish my purposes. That will only lead you to false notions about me. Grace doesn’t depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors.”

“All I want from you is to trust me with what little you can, and grow in loving people around you with the same love I share with you.  It’s not your job to change them, or to convince them.  You are free to love without an agenda.”

“Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about letting go of another person’s throat……Forgiveness does not create a relationship…Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive.”

“The people who know me are the ones who are free to live and love without any agenda.”

“You will grow in the freedom to be inside or outside all kinds of systems, and to move freely between and among them.  Together, you and I can be in it, and not of it.  Those who love me come from every system that exists.  They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats or Republicans, and many who don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions…I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into Sons and Daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, into my beloved.”

“So no, I’m not too big on religion…and not very fond of politics or economics either…And why should I be? They are the man-created trinity of terrors that ravages the earth and deceives those I care about. What mental turmoil and anxiety does any human face that is not related to one of those three?”

“It’s extremely hard to rescue someone unless they are willing to trust you.”

“It’s not the work, but the purpose that makes it special.”

“True love never forces.”

“So many believe that it is love that grows, but it is the knowing that grows and love simply expands to contain it.”

View more quotes from the book here.

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Book & Movie Review: The Help

Book Review:  The Help

by Kathryn Stockett

the-help-cover

My Rating:  ***** (5 out of 5 Stars)

Why Did I Read?

I bought this book at a library book sale years ago.  I saw the movie with some friends from a book club when the movie first came out, but I had not read the book.  This summer, I decided I wanted to read something easier than the self-help books I usually read, so I pulled this off my book shelf.  It pretty much took me all summer to read, but I’m glad I did.  When I finished the book, I went to the library and got the movie to watch again.

Summary (from Goodreads)

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step….

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women–mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends–view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope,The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

This book took me much longer to read than I had anticipated, but I really liked it a lot, and I learned a lot from it.

This book taught me a lot about the relationships between blacks and whites in the South in the 1960’s.  It really opened my eyes to the cruelty and injustice that existed during that time.  This book reminds me of how far we have come in working towards eliminating inequality and racism.  There is still much progress to be made, but I think this book and movie helps to bring us one step closer to that.

I really came to love and admire the courage of many of the characters in this book.  I liked the way the chapters switched between the perspectives of the 3 main characters:  Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny.  Two of these characters are black, and one is white.  Each of these characters provides her own stories of life in the South during that time, and I admire the way each of them was willing to risk everything to fight for equality and a better life for all.

Thoughts on the Movie

I thought the movie was really well done!  It followed the book closely.  I saw the movie when it first came out.  I had not yet read the  book, and I did not understand a lot of the little details.  When I watched the movie again after reading the book, the details stood out and made much more sense.  I would definitely recommend both the book and the movie!  My daughters (aged 13, 12, and 9) all watched the movie with me, and they all enjoyed it as well.

My Favorite Quote from The Help:

the-help-quote

Aibileen, one of the black maids, said this often to Mae Mobley, the little girl she was caring for.  If nothing else, she wanted to teach her this important truth about herself.  I believe everyone should be taught to believe this about themselves.

For more reviews on The Help, visit Goodreads.

Movie Review: The Letter Writer

the letter writer cover

My Rating:  ********** (10/10 stars)

Why Did I Watch?

I am taking the February Acts of Kindness challenge, and this movie is a perfect demonstration of kindness.  I watched it last year for the first time, and I loved it!  I felt like I wanted some inspiration, so I decided to watch it again.  I’m glad I did! 🙂

Summary (from IMDb)

When a teenager receives a mysterious letter in the mail, she sets out to find the author. It’s a journey that will change her life forever.
Watch the trailer:

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I love this movie!  It is such a great example of kindness, love, and encouragement, and a lot of wisdom comes through in this movie.  Many life lessons are taught.    This movie touched me deeply…tears were rolling down my face at the end.   I got so much more out of this the 2nd time I watched it.  It is a perfect movie for the entire family, and I highly recommend it.   If you have Amazon Prime, it is currently streaming for free here.  Find out more about the movie on IMDb.

Movie Review: The Best of Me

The Best of Me Movie

My Rating:  **** (4 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Watch?

I honestly can’t remember the last time I watched a movie before this one.  It has been several months at least, but sometimes I just need to slow down and give my brain and my body a rest and take in a good movie.  That’s what I needed last night.  It was a cool and rainy Wednesday evening, and I was feeling especially tired.  While my husband was working on his computer and my girls were watching one of their favorite shows, I snuck upstairs into my bed with my laptop around 7pm and searched for a good drama on Netflix.

The Best of Me was the first movie that came up when I searched for dramas.  I liked the cover, so I didn’t bother to look further for a different movie.  Of course I have heard you’re not supposed to judge a book or movie by it’s cover, but I usually do anyway.  And, my intuition is usually pretty good at finding the good ones.  I don’t watch a lot of movies, and my time is precious to me so I don’t want to waste it on those that don’t mean anything to me.  I certainly didn’t feel this one was a waste of my time!  It was just what I needed to help me unwind on a rainy autumn evening.

Summary

Amanda and Dawson were high school sweethearts.  After 21 years, they are reunited when they return to their hometown for the funeral of a mutual friend.

Watch the trailer here.

What Did I Think?

Nicholas Sparks has done it again!  He writes the most beautiful love stories, and this one is no exception.  Whenever I’m feeling that my brain is on overload from reading too many deep non-fiction books, I’ll take a break and read one of his novels.

When I decided to watch this, I had no idea it was a Nicholas Sparks movie.  When I saw his name come up on the screen, I knew right away it was just the type of movie I was looking for.

I thought The Best of Me was right up there with The Notebook, Message in a Bottle, and the other love stories Nicholas Sparks has written.  I’m not a fan of the violence, though, and that is why I only gave it 4 stars out of 5.  The violence certainly adds to the suspense, but I just don’t like feeling scared when I’m watching a movie.  Dawson comes from an abusive family. Throughout the movie, I kept waiting for his family members to come up out of nowhere and attack him, and I didn’t like that feeling.  The love story, however, is beautiful.  I believe there are no accidents in life, and this story supports that belief.  It is about love and fate and everything working together perfectly just as the universe intended.  I definitely recommend it if you are a fan of love stories and tear-jerkers.

Find out more about The Best of Me at IMDb here.

Movie Review: The Tapping Solution Documentary

The Tapping Solution

The Tapping Solution

My Rating **** (4 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Watch?

I watched the Tapping Solution Documentary because I am a big believer in tapping, and I know from experience that it works.  I used tapping with my daughter to help her completely overcome physical and emotional pain and anxiety that she was going through last year.  The Tapping Solution Documentary was available for free during the Hay House World Summit, so I decided to check it out.

Summary (from The Tapping Solution)

In this movie, you’ll meet 10 people from around the country with a variety of challenges, such as PTSD, chronic back pain, fear of public speaking, Fibromyalgia, abundance blocks, weight loss, smoking, grief and more. You’ll follow their journey as they learn EFT Tapping (and you do as well) and then dive deeper into the keys to changing your life.

The movie teaches how to release physical pain, how our emotions affect our body, releasing trauma, how our childhood is affecting us today, how to clear limiting beliefs, using Tapping to make the Law of Attraction work for you, and much more!

See more about the film here.

View the trailer here:

What Did I Think?

I enjoyed this documentary.  I laughed and cried along with the participants, and it kept my interest for the entire time.  It was deeply moving and inspirational, and I am so grateful that this movie is helping to spread the knowledge of this invaluable tool.  I already had knowledge of tapping prior to watching the movie, but I think it would be just as helpful, if not more, to those are introduced to the wonderful world of tapping through this documentary.  You have the power to heal your life, and this is one tool that can help you do that!

Movie Review: The Lorax

The Lorax

lorax

My Rating ***** (5 out of 5 stars)

Earth Day is coming up on April 22!  I love Earth Day, and I think The Lorax is the perfect movie to celebrate Earth Day.  The Lorax focuses on the importance of respecting and protecting the environment…a message I think is so important and something we all need to be reminded of every once in a while.  The Lorax is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I love that it is a movie the whole family can watch together.  For the past few years, we have watched it every year on Earth Day…it has become a tradition the whole family looks forward to!

Summary

Ted is a 12-year-old boy who lives in Thneedville, a walled city where everything is artificial.  Ted is seeking the one thing that will win him the affection of Audrey, the girl of his dreams who wishes to see a real tree. To find it, he must discover the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world.  Find a more detailed summary here.

Watch the trailer here.

Here is my favorite quote from the movie:

lorax quote

Movie Review: Food, Inc.

Food, Inc.

Food Inc cover

My Rating **** 4 out of 5 stars

Why Did I Watch?

I find food documentaries fascinating.  Since I started becoming more health conscious, I have taken an interest in knowing exactly WHAT it is I am eating and WHERE my food is coming from.  This is a perfect movie to watch if you want to discover the truth about food in America.  I recently saw it available streaming on Netflix, so I decided to watch it again.

Summary

Have you ever wondered where supermarket food really comes from?  If so, Food, Inc. is a must see!  The movie takes a close look inside America’s supermarkets, slaughterhouses, chicken houses, and more to reveal the truth about our nation’s food industry.  Here are a few highlights I took away from the movie:

  • The industry doesn’t want you to know the truth about what you’re eating…because if you knew, you might not want to eat it.
  • Our food is coming from enormous assembly lines where the animals and the workers are being abused.  And the food has become much more dangerous in ways that are being deliberately hidden from us.
  • The modern American supermarket has on average 47,000 products.  It may seem like a large variety of choices, but in reality, there are only a few companies involved and only a few crops involved.  Michael Pollan followed that food back to its source, and he always ended up in the same place…a cornfield in Iowa.  Most of the processed items in the supermarket can be traced back to corn or soy in one form or another.
  • There are only a handful of companies controlling our food system.  The top 4 beef packers control 80% of the beef market.
  • Processed foods are cheaper than produce, leading consumers to purchase the unhealthy foods.
  • Foods are being engineered to lengthen shelf life.
  • There is an overabundance of corn in the US.  Animals, and even fish, are being fed corn even though it is not their natural diet.
  • Research indicates that feeding cattle a high corn diet results in E.coli that are acid resistant.  These are the more harmful E.coli.
  • Regulatory agencies are being controlled by the very companies they are supposed to be scrutinizing.
  • In the 1970’s, there were thousands of slaughterhouses in the US.  Today, there are only 13 that process the majority of beef that is sold in the US.
  • Meat packing is one of the most dangerous jobs in America.  Many of the workers are illegal immigrants.  The government is arresting the workers, but nothing is happening to the company for hiring them.
  • Processed foods contribute to obesity and health issues.
  • It is against the law to criticize the food industry’s foods.
  • Monsanto created and patented a Genetically Modified soybean seed.  By 2008, over 90% of soybeans in the US contained this patented gene.
  • There are virtually no public seeds anymore.  Monsanto sues farmers for saving seeds.

What Did I Think? / My Recommendation

I found this documentary to be extremely eye-opening.  In my opinion, anyone who eats food in America should watch this.  While it did not turn me into a vegetarian, it did steer me away from buying the products of the big name companies mentioned in the movie.  I first watched this movie about 2 years ago, and I have not knowingly purchased one product by those companies since.  Every time we buy an item of food, we are voting.  I have chosen to vote with my dollar, and I encourage others to do the same.

I was surprised to learn that our government is more concerned about protecting the food industry than it is about protecting our health.  That is very concerning to me, and just reinforces to me that we need to be the ones to take the initiative to educate ourselves and pay attention to WHAT we are eating by closely reading ingredient labels.  The best way to know where your food is coming from is to buy local and seasonal whenever possible.  Or better yet, grow your own garden!

Overall, I applaud everyone who had a hand in the making of this movie because the truth about America’s food industry needs to be known.  I am going to do my part by continuing to spread the word and vote with my dollar.  If everyone does the same, we can make a difference!

As an additional note, if you want to go more in depth on any of the topics mentioned in the movie, I would highly recommend reading the book The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.  The book is not an easy read as it is EXTREMELY thorough, but if you are looking for more details on any of these topics, I feel the book is a perfect companion to the movie.

For more information about the movie, additional reviews, and information about where to find the movie, check it out on IMDb here.