Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Shack by William P. Young - A Staff Review

This one grabs you by the heart.

I read this book each morning at breakfast, promising myself just one chapter a day. One or two [of those] days I really wanted to just be VERY late.

It's a parent's worst nightmare... a family vacation ending with a kidnapped child. And all clues indicate a repeat offender whose victims are never found.

This story takes you inside the family as they try to pick up the pieces that were left after Missy's disappearance. Mostly it chronicles the father's search for meaning to this torment he is experiencing. Where was God when all this happened?

Drawn by a mysterious invitation back to "the shack" where the crime was committed, Mack is drawn into a world that will make you cry for joy and laugh at the humanness of us all.

The experience is not what you expect, but in your heart you want it all to be so true.

You will read this book once for the story and then again for the deep meaning behind it. You won't be the same. 

Book Review by BCL Assistant Circulation Manager Deb Focht.

Twilight: the movie or the book?

Staff Review by Deb Focht.

Once again, the book wins.

Why do we love Bella so much? She is a klutzy, ordinary, remarkably unself-possessed teenager. Not so much of this comes through in the movie. Edward takes her up towering evergreens and lets her wander on the branches. Now we all know that our Bella would have slipped off the branches and fallen to her death. Even Edward knew better than to put her at those risks. Why do you think he piggybacked her through the forest - not just because it was faster?

Remember that Bella moved to Forks so that she could give her mother space and a chance to cement her new marriage? Upon arriving she started fixing dinners for her father because she thought his diet was in need of intervention. In the movie, she never even makes toast for her poor father. You don't get the connection that built between them and why her parting words, which were identical to her mother's, caused him so much pain.

I am sorry, but the movie also did not convey the level of passion and sexual tension between Edward and Bella.

Taking a male point of view, the fight scenes were well done.

But my biggest disappointment was the meadow scene. What meadow scene? See, you really need to read the book.

Deb Focht is our Assistant Circulation Manager (which is a title that doesn't convey all she really does at the library -look for a vivacious, dark-haired woman who may be small in stature but is big on personality and whose favorite color is green.)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

What I've Read - Update by Marta

Back in December I wrote that I was planning to read two books and report on them. I can now report that I did indeed read them (I finished several weeks ago) and I enjoyed both. Let me tell you about first one and then in another post about the other and you can decide if you will want to read one or both of them as well.

The Lost Temple by Tom Harper was an incredibly 
detailed archeological adventure story delving into the ancient history of Greece and the Trojan War through the writings of Homer. While reading the book I often wondered about all the research the author must have done for the detail he included and whether he had actually done archeological work in Greece and Albania or if he was a literature scholar concentrating on Homer. 

If you enjoy history and are interested in the research involved in archeology you will positively love this book. If you are looking for another Indiana Jones adventure you will probably be somewhat statisfied but not necessarily thrilled with the action (there are indeed some interesting chases but the maps in front do not help in the visualization of where the characters are going). I found it a little difficult to keep the time period straight, it takes place just after WWII ends but covers incidents that happen during the war and of course the ancient period of the Trojan War.

Similarly to the Indiana Jones character Tom Harper's protagonist (Sam Grant) has tunnel vision when archeology competes with a fascinating woman. There is a slight sexual tension running through the plot which breaks into the open suddenly in the last quarter of the book but just as quickly fades away when the archeological prize comes to the surface. 

Do I seem to be using the word archeology a lot? Well this is definitely not a techno thriller although the prize seems to be an element with great scientific properties highly sought by several governments (represented by the CIA, KGB & British Intelligence). While not a fast read, the book didn't bog down anywhere and I definitely found it interesting. I would recommend it to anyone.

What I’m Reading – Guest Review by Sandy Polen

For Us, the Living: A Comedy of Customs, by Robert A. Heinlein (pub.2003)

First let me start by saying that I am a die-hard Sci-Fi fan. It makes up virtually ALL of my pleasure reading. Also, Robert Heinlein is my favorite Sci-Fi author. I read my first book by Heinlein when I was 12 (I’m 58 now) and didn’t stop reading his books until his death in 1988. 

I’ve read everything he published. So this review is not written by someone unfamiliar with his work.


According to the book jacket, For Us, the Living is a lost novel which appears to be his first, never published, work. Apparently Heinlein wrote it and put it away… and for good reason. For Us, the Living is a 75 page short story squeezed into a 239 page novel. Seriously, I can’t believe the people who got this book published did not read it and realize that Heinlein didn’t publish it for a reason. That reason is simple, it is over written.


Anyone familiar with Heinlein knows he has a tendency to insert the occasional rambling description and sex into his novels, but this one reaches the abyss and takes several steps too many. There are a hundred pages of description which have no bearing on the actual plot of the book. Reading the first 50 pages, about 20 pages in the middle of the book and the last 50 pages is sufficient to enjoy this without getting bogged down in the rambling.


The book is the story of Perry Nelson who while driving in 1939 loses control of his auto and goes over a cliff only to wake up in someone else’s body in 2086. In attempting to adjust to the very new culture of the time he breaks the somewhat obscure traditions/law of the day and is sentenced to be rehabilitated, which is really acclimated, to this new time. In the end he finds his niche in society and presumably lives happily ever after. An interesting plot ruined by the need to tell the reader every single piece of information about the new society in minute detail.

My suggestion is you skim the detail of the “modern society” and read the basics. You’ll enjoy the book much more.


If you really want to read some good books by Robert Heinlein, I would suggest the following: Starship Trooper (nothing like the movie); The Moon is a Harsh Mistress; Tunnel in the Sky; Have Spacesuit, Will Travel; Methuselah’s Children; Puppet Masters (again, nothing like the movie); and my favorite, Sixth Column.

--Sandy Polen is president of the Board of Trustees of the Boyertown Community Library