THE SHACK by Wm Paul Young #BookReview #Spiritual #Theology #Philosophy #Religion

The ShackThe Shack by Wm. Paul Young
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Shack is a book which falls into the spiritual, theology, philosophy and Christian fiction categories for me, I wouldn’t want to give it just one label as it covers a multitude of areas, but definitely covers the trinity of God, Jesus and the holy spirit.

The story-line revolves around Mackenzie Phillips and a weekend spiritual experience in a shack. Not just any shack, but the shack where police suspect his child was brutally abused, before her certain death.

Mack’s a mess and has been since Missy went missing whilst on a camping trip with Mack and her brother and sister. He blames himself and it is affecting home-life. One day Mack gets a message inviting him to the shack, he doesn’t know if it’s real or a hoax or the killer. He packs his wife and family off to see friends and then heads out on a wintry journey alone, to the shack.

The story of his experience is enlightening, he meets a God persona, a man named Jesus and an almost ethereal woman called Sarayu. They welcome him with love and work on his deep emotional wounds and beliefs in a weekend that he’ll never forget.

When reality returns Mack has one hell of a story to tell and a changed outlook for the future.

This book will easily be a marmite read, it was definitely a challenge with areas I found hard to understand and some which need re-reading. Overall the story is an interesting one and heart-breaking to hear Mack’s detailed life up to his visit to the Shack.

It’s one of those books where everyone will have an opinion and get something different from it because it chooses to use a religious theme, a topic which almost every reader will have experienced in one form or another. So as people have debated religion for millennia, so might they debate the subject matter within this book and how it is handled.

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Book Description

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!

Find a copy here from Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS

#FridayBookShare THE SHACK by Wm Paul Young @ShelleyWilson72

Welcome to a #FridayBookShare post it’s been a while since I joined in with this game created by Shelley Wilson



With the weekend approaching it’s the perfect time to seek out new books to read, so Shelley has created a Friday Book Share game to help search for that ideal read.

First line of the book.

“Who wouldn’t be sceptical when a man claims to have spent an entire weekend with God, in a shack no less? And this was the shack.”

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb.

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!

Introduce the main character using only three words.

Mack: Hurt, angry, judgmental.

Delightful design


Audience appeal

Those interested in spiritual life, religion, Christian fiction, theology, philosophy.

Your favourite line/scene.

“Well, Mackenzie, don’t just stand there gawkin’ with your mouth open like your pants are full”, said the big black woman as she turned and headed across the deck, talking the whole time. “Come and talk to me while I get supper on.”

Find a copy here from Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Anyone can have a go – all you need to do is answer the following questions based on the book you are currently reading/finished reading this week and use the hashtag #FridayBookShare

First line of the book.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb.

Introduce the main character using only three words.

Delightful design (add the cover image of the book).

Audience appeal (who would enjoy reading this book?)

Your favourite line/scene.

Big Men’s Boots by @EmilyBarroso1 Welsh Revival #Histfic #BookReview

Big Men's BootsBig Men’s Boots by Emily Barroso

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Big Men’s Boots is a piece of historical fiction set in Wales in 1904, at a time of great social and political upheaval. It is based on true newspaper reports from the era. Wales has been know as “The Land of Revivals” since around the 3rd Century.

The story is about the Welsh Revival 1904-1905. To explain fully what a Revival is I shall quote from the book;
“A Revival is a Supernatural phenomenon that occurs when God pours out his Spirit (the Holy Spirit) on a people, group or country, miraculously healing and transforming them, this phenomenon often spreads through the nation and across the world.”

This story revolves around a family group who live in North Wales in a slate mining community; Owen is a young boy gifted with second sight, his older brother Huw works in the slate quarry, his father is a Baptist Minister and his mother is a supporter of the women in the community. The book opens with the funeral of Owen’s young friend Stephen who died on the mountains after a fall when the two lads were out. Owen loves the mountains he finds them spiritually uplifting, but he is suffering in his grief at the loss of his friend.

There has been a long strike at the mines and miners who have gone back to work for the sake of their families are being labelled “Blacklegs” and there is a lot of bad feeling towards these strike breakers. Owen’s parents try to bring the community back together by encouraging forgiveness. Chapel meetings are a large part of this community and Jacob tries to get the men to turn back to the word of God.

There is much talk of a Revival to save the people and turn them from the evil which filters in. There have been many Revivals before and the talk is about a new one coming soon. Local women Anna is a prophetic and she announced the Revival will come from the South. It becomes the full focus of many of the people, they believe it will be their saviour like the coming of Jesus. Critiques call it a social hysteria.

Owen is visited by an Angel and in December he is given an earthly assignment by a golden being. He does struggle with the decisions he must make, but he also has the love and support of his family. The belief in the Revival is so strong that the power the people have when they gather together is enormous. As the Revival takes over there are miracles of healing and men and women convert from their old bad ways to a new enlightened life.

This isn’t an easy read, it is filled with religion and Biblical references. The writing style has many long paragraphs covering several pages which left me wishing for more breaks to make the reading experience less intense. The building of the Revival is very good, with the scene well set. You can understand the fears those outside of Wales had for this strength and power that the people created. An interesting read about a subject I knew nothing about when I began the book.

This review is based on a free copy of the book given to me by Hillman Publishing

Find a copy here from or

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The Singing Bowl by Roy Dimond

The Singing BowlThe Singing Bowl by Roy Dimond

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Singing Bowl is an epic journey for mankind. It follows a Tibetan Monk as he searches the World for answers to a mystery and a long lost book. Forced to flee from invading Chinese Communists the monk is one of a religious group called The Gatherers, he begins by running for his life from Tibet and walking over the mountains to Nepal.

There are many people who will help and teach the monk along his journey and the author uses few names, instead he gives them identities which help form a distinct picture in the mind of the reader. For instance “The Wise Woman of Alexandria”, “The Nomad” and “Wife of Big Brother”. There are some wonderful characters and many have starring roles in the journey of the monk. He travels through The Ancient World, The Old World and The New World and in each world he has a lesson to learn from the people who make up that place.

The people he meets are also from all religions and they show their generosity when they help him and share their homes and food with him. He meets some of his fellow Gatherers who are on their own journeys and interacts with them before they each move on. It’s not all easy, the Communists search for the monk and want to stop and destroy him because of what he represents. Many times his life is at risk and he escapes because of some faithful friends.

I didn’t want the book to end although the Monk’s mystery was solved. My favourite part of the journey was from the Ancient World, I thought I was learning as much as the monk. I wanted to search the dusty book shops and sit for hours pouring over long lost books. I wanted to race through the book, not putting it down, but I also wanted to sit back and reflect on some of the parts that I had read, it really made me think about our World and if you choose to read this book I hope it makes you think as well.

Find a copy here from or

View all my reviews on Goodreads

The Black Hours by Alison Williams

The Black HoursThe Black Hours by Alison Williams

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Black Hours is a book that thinks about the actual lives of ordinary people who are mixed up in a period of history that is well publicised. Set in England around 1647, a time of Civil War and strong religious times. This book looks at the famous Witch Trials.

The author has interpreted some of the documented names and facts into a thoughtful story about the horrors of the period. We meet Alice Pendle and her Grandmother Maggie, wise women of Coggeshall who have used herbs and ointments to help and heal the villagers for years. When their midwifery skills result in the unfortunate death of a mother and child, people start to whisper.

Religious fears have been stirred up in the country and Matthew Hopkins believes he has a duty to God. He must rid the earth of evil in the form of Witches. With the law behind him Matthew arrives in Coggeshall and finds a supportive Minister and Lord of the Manor. Villagers are encouraged to sign witness statements condemning Alice and Maggie.

What follows is a horrific tale of their trials and suffering at the hands of Matthew and his supporters. This tale depicts the suffering of just 2 lives. During the actual period of history in question it is believed that between 200 and 300 women were similarly accused and tried. It was a terrible time and an example of how people are easily led and manipulated by their fears.

This is a well written glimpse in to the window of history.

Find a copy here on or

View all my reviews on Goodreads.

Alison will be our guest author on the blog tomorrow, do come back and read more about her.

Guest Author Johnny Worthen (Nov 5th)

Today my guest is Johnny Worthen. I reviewed his book Beatrysel back in October. Here is the link.

Johnny Worthen

About the Author

Johnny Worthen is a lifetime student of the occult. Raised in a secluded suburb of Salt Lake City, he gravitated to the more obscure paths of spiritual knowledge. He is a Freemason, twice Past Master of his Lodge, youngest ever at the time. From the University of Utah Johnny received degrees in English and Classics with a Master’s Degree in American Studies. He married his juniorprom date and together they have two sons. After many varied and interesting careers, Johnny writes full time now. He is the author of a popular blog, The Blog Mansion. Besides BEATRYSEL, Johnny has four other novels under contract for publication in 2014 and beyond.

Johnny has kindly come back to the blog to tell us more about himself and his work.

1) Where is your home town?
I am originally from Utah, Salt Lake City. I moved away for a decade to Oregon where the politics were better but the weather worse. Rain won out and I returned to the Utah desert and now live in a Salt Lake City suburb just up the hill from where I went to high school.
2) How long have you been writing?
All my life, but full-time for about two years. Seriously for eight.
3) Have you always written horror?
Oh no. I write all kinds of things. I call myself a multi-genre author. BEATRYSEL was just the first to come to press and I always thought of it as an “occult thriller.” I have a Young Adult Paranormal trilogy, ELEANOR UNSEEN, coming next July and a comedic mystery series starting next year called THE FINGER TRAP with slacker detective Tony Flaner at the helm. I also have a Thriller looking for a home, sequels and yes, another horror. My motto is I write what I want to read. When I can’t find a title that’s saying what I want to hear, I say it. Thus I’m all over the place. I’m writing another YA now and gearing up for a western after that.
4) Where does your interest in the occult come from?
Being from Utah the conversation was always about religion. I grew attracted to religions that were more active than passive. Prayer seemed cool, but what if you added music and smells, dance steps, foreign language, intermediaries and a wider variety of symbolism. I grew up in the shadow of a rare Utah Catholic enclave so that might have been part of it. I studied alternate philosophies and religions and then stumbled across the works of the Qabalists which lead to the Golden Dawn, Mathers, Crowley and Regardie. I joined a Masonic Lodge as soon as I could and kept reading. The “magickal world view” is complex and shifting and not well understood. In its modern form it’s an amalgam of so many cultures and philosophies that it’s like a city-wide buffet. In its best sense, there’s room for everyone and everything. In its worst form its backward and superstitious. Nevertheless, there’s a certain thrill in approaching “randomness” in the world as if it’s a personal challenge to understand. A good magician will see bad things as tests and good things as greater tests and forever try to better himself by the belief that everything he does, says, feels and thinks is intricately connected to the universe at large.
5) Can you explain the spelling of Magick which you use in the book?
Aleister Crowley coined the spelling of Magick with a K in his seminal book, Magick in Theory and Practice. Crowley, or the Great Beast, as he was sometimes called, was one of the foremost scholars and disciples of occult philosophy rising out of the nineteenth century supernatural fads. In an era of charlatans and seance tricks, he wanted to differentiate the philosophy of occult working from parlour tricks and shows. Thus he made the word Magick. I like it.
6) Can you tell the readers a little about who or what Beatrysel is?
Beatrysel is an being created by Julian Cormac. Angel or Demon or Spirit – it is the same thing. Such terms are subjective depending upon how cooperative and agreeable they are. Using the forms of Theurgy, the ancient Magickal art of summoning ‘demons’ Julian decided to make his own being. He did this with ancient magicks employing his powerful will and the ancient forms he is an expert in. In modern magickal parlance, Beatrysel might be termed an ‘egregore’ or thought-form, but that term didn’t suit me, and those creatures tend to be too weak, so I made her a full fledged demon/angel. Beatrysel is Julian’s ideal of love, everything he believes it to be. He gives it life in the aether and then uses theurgy to bring it into the real world. Love, however, no matter how beautiful and idyllic is not so simple. The universal laws of balance must be maintained; there is no light without darkness, no love without hate, and demons covet flesh.
7) The plot is very complex, did it evolve as you wrote or did you have the main idea all sorted before you began writing?
It started out as an exploration and therapy. I set up the situation, figured some of the backstory and then the story just took off. Not to sound trite, but it was magickal. There were many times that I felt I was taking dictation. It started where I thought it would, climaxed where I intended, but the rest had a life to itself. The last chapter in particular was a surprise to me as I hope it will be for the readers.
8) Tempt the readers by hinting at the different dark arts cultures you included in the book.
I see modern occultism as a potpourri of traditions. In BEATRYSEL, I lean heavy on High Magick, the formalized ritualistic current I’m most familiar with, but I also include some Hoodoo, Wicca and Druidism among others.
9) Was there any specific research that was new to you that you underwent in order to complete the book? 
My herb lore isn’t very good. Amanda’s magick was challenging. I knew it in theory, but her correspondences required some work on my part. Amethysts and lavender, red silk and medicine bags. I wanted to get it right so I studied up.
10) What are you working on at the moment? 
I have a sort of follow-up to BEATRYSEL I’m editing now, called WHAT IMMORTAL HAND. It’s occult but in a different vein – darker if you can believe it. I’ll be shopping it around later this year. The next thing I’m sure to have in print is my ELEANOR trilogy and then Tony Flaner in 2015. I’ve a thriller called THE BRAND DEMAND I’m sending to agents now I’m hoping to sell by Christmas. It’s a modern re-imagining of Edward Abbey’s MONKEY WRENCH GANG that I’m hoping will spark a series. Now, just this month I started a new book but I don’t know where it’s going yet so I’m not sure how to categorize it. It’s a dystopian young adult so far, but it’s early still.
LINKS Johnny on the Web (come by and say ‘hey’)
Twitter @JohnnyWorthen


Unsatisfied with the ancient grimoires, the Magus made his own. Unsatisfied with the ancient demons, the Magus made Beatrysel. She was a creature of love, but there is no love without hate, no light without darkness, no loyalty without betrayal. And demons covet flesh. Johnny Worthen’s novel BEATRYSEL is a modern Faust tale set in the American Northwest where the cold winter rain melts the barriers between what is real and what is more real. Beatrysel is a terrifying journey through modern metaphysics, High Magic and ancient religions where secret dreams turn to nightmares when Will becomes Form. Power-hungry magicians, serial killers and scorned lovers must contend with the power of the most beautiful and dangerous Magick in creation– for Beatrysel is a creature of love.

Thank you Johnny that was a really great interview, I’m so glad I decided to read outside my comfort zone and review your book. It’s been great working with you.