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Saxton Reads! & Reviews

We invite the public to post reviews to our catalog by logging into our online catalog. Reviews will then be posted to this blog. Comments can be added to existing posts or may be added as separate reviews on our catalog
APRIL 28, 2009
Meet the Author ~ Juliette Fay

Please welcome Guest Blogger Juliette Fay, author of Shelter Me

"For as long as I can remember I’ve always had a story or two running in my head. Possibly this is evidence of a minor psychosis issue, but nevertheless it’s entertaining and harmless—sort of like the imaginary friends small children have, only I don’t serve mine tea with my teddy bears.

I cook up a story to mentally play with, eventually get tired of it and start a new one. It’s very handy on long car rides and during boring work meetings. A couple of years ago I was driving somewhere with my youngest child, who was about four at the time, and we were both very quiet. I was mulling over some story, and suddenly he said to me, "Mom, have you seen Shrek 5?" I said, "No, sweetie, I don’t think that’s out yet." He said, "Yes it is, and it’s playing in my head!" And I thought, Wow, he’s got it too, Mommy’s little cranial DVD player.

I never wrote any of these stories down until a few years back when I happened to read a really bad book. It was a complete stinker, but I couldn’t put it down—it was fascinating in its badness! And I began to think, Even I could do better than this. I started writing out a story, and it was so much fun I couldn’t stop. It was like falling in love; I thought about my characters all the time and I couldn’t wait to get back to them to see what would happen next.

At first I was very secretive about it. I had no idea if I would ever finish, and I didn’t want people asking me "So, how’s the novel going?" if I was only ever going to write 17 pages. I had to test my own seriousness. After several months, I finally admitted to a couple of close friends that I was writing, and allowed them to read what I had.

It’s helpful for me to have a few trusted people read as I write because often their questions change the course of the story in small ways and occasionally in larger ways. Before the writing begins I generally have a sense of the narrative arc and major themes, but not chapter-by-chapter detail. It keeps the story a little bit of a mystery even for me, and I enjoy the surprise of it.

   That first novel was never published, but it was good practice. I started Shelter Me soon after, based on a story that had been bobbing along in my head since I got married: I had finally found somebody I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, but what if he got sick or had some sort of accident and died? How would I ever be able to pull myself back together? I tend to be a little bit of a worry wart, so ruminating on the possibility of his death really gripped me until I was able to make a story out of it and have the main character be someone other than me. And that’s how Janie LaMarche was born. 

I’m working on a new story now, inspired by the worst three years of my life: middle school. It’s about a newly-divorced mother trying to help her children navigate those piranha-infested waters, while dealing with her own insecurities and uncertain social status. Though not a sequel to Shelter Me, it is set in the same fictitious town."  Juliette Fay

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Category: Meet the Author


APRIL 24, 2009
Buy·ology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy ~ Martin Lindstrom

Hmmm, it's certainly harder to talk about a non-fiction book. Buy·ology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy authored by Martin Lindstrom reads a bit more like a text book that the narrative non-fiction that usually catches my eye. I picked it up because the subject of what influences our decisions to part with our hard earned dollars has always fascinated me. Many years ago I read Vance Packard's The Hidden Persuaders , a look at how advertisers used psychological means to tickle our unconscious minds to persuade us to buy what they're selling. Hidden Persuaders came out in '57 and since I was only 9, I doubt I used it for a book report, though until this moment I always thought that was why I read it. Also that year, James Vicary, a market researcher, scared us all with his claim that advertisers had inserted quickly flashing messages on a movie screen, in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and that these had influenced people to purchase more food from the refreshment stand. The term subliminal message was born.

Turn the clock fast forward to my career in the library. Retail marketing and how it fits in the library world captured my interest. I want to know the best way to promote all the wonderful materials we have in our library. I picked up some interesting tips from Paco Underhill's Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping and Call of the Mall: The Geography of Shopping, So Buy·ology seemed a natural fit to continue my education in what factors make us brand loyal, buy certain products, respond to certain ads; what really influences our consumerism.

Martin Lindstrom spent 3 years and seven million dollars to conduct the study that became his book. He peered inside the brains of over two thousand volunteers, doing one of the first neuomarketing, science based study of what drives us to buy. His findings are very interesting and surprised many in the advertising world. His studies were conducted using brain scans and fMRI's. Here's one story as an example. A group of volunteers were shown a series of twenty product logos, including three that were aired on American Idol. Coke, Ford and Cingular. They were also shown products not part of the show. Then they watched a 20 minute segment of American Idol and another show without product placement. Then they were shown the logos again, three times in a row. Which logos would they remember? After seeing American Idol, the volunteers had greater recall for the branded logos vs. the unbranded ones. Coke and Cingular had placed the actual product within the product while Ford just did traditional commercials. Coke and Cingular actually crowded out memory of the other product logos, such as Pepsi and Verizon. More interesting was that Coke and Cingular were much more memorable than Ford. They remembered less about Ford at the end of the study than before they began. Ford had spent $26 million on their commercials and had actually lost market share! Whew! Complicated but intriguing.

I haven't a clue as to how I will put what I learned to use in our library to lure you into taking out more books. I think I got more out of Paco Underhill's books. Still, I'll mull over Lindstrom's study and try not to let the advertisers persuade me into buying things I don't need or truly want.

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APRIL 22, 2009
Wintergirls ~ Laurie Halse Anderson

*****bas bleu
A Compelling Read
I have been a fan of Laurie Halse Anderson from the very beginning, with the publication of her award-winning debut novel Speak. Anderson's latest effort, Wintergirls, has a similar emotional intensity and lyrical quality. The novel deals with multiple issues: anorexia, bulimia, cutting, grief, and family dysfunction. Although extremely difficult to read at times, it is equally difficult to put down. For a detailed [and, in my opinion, excellent] review of Wintergirls, click on this link from


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APRIL 15, 2009
Hunger Games ~ Suzanne Collins

***** mercedes

I absolutely loved this book! It was a great read. The suspense was perfect, the characters engaging, the plot spine-tingling. The basic premise of the Hunger Games is certainly not original - many books, movies, and short stories have been written along the same theme of society/government taking people and setting them in life or death situations as a form of entertainment. There are elements in this story that remind me specifically of the short story "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell combined with Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery". But even though the literary themes are not unique, the twists that Collins has put on the story are, and very entertaining too. One of the best aspects of this book, for me, was that I actually liked the main character, Katniss. It's been awhile since a teenage girl from the YA books I've recently read has appealed to me as much as Katniss does. She's practical, clear-headed, and self-reliant. So much better than the overly emotional, sentimental, wishy-washy girls I've read in other books. Katniss certainly has her problems but I can understand them, relate, and sympathize. My only disappointment is that this is the first book in a series - not a bad thing in itself, really - but I'm not looking forward to waiting several months to find out what happens next! Definitely worth the time it takes to read this book (which only took me several hours since I couldn't put it down!). 


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APRIL 13, 2009
The Best of Ruth Brown or Rockin' in Rhythm

The music of Ruth Brown never fails to move me. She's the kind of singer that makes me wish I could sing and dance.The Best of Ruth Brown is a great cd featuring 23 of her best songs from the 50's. All Music Guide rates the first four tracks as AMG Picks. I love live takes of Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean and Oh, What a Dream, but there's not a bad song on the album. Ruth Brown was born in 1928 and died in 2006 and was married for a short time to Jimmy Brown. You may not even know you know her. She played Motormouth Mabel in the original Hairspray, Mahalia Jackson in the play Selma, and appeared once on The Jeffersons. Though her voice has been compared to Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, I think she has a sound all her own. Add this cd to your list of one to give a listen.

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APRIL 8, 2009
The Quilter's Kitchen: an Elm Creek Quilts novel with recipes ~ Jennifer Chiaverini

*bas bleu

A disappointment
The book's front cover states that The Quilter's Kitchen is an Elm Creek Quilts novel with recipes. If you are a fan of this series, do not read this book. If you are a fan of cookbooks, do not read this book. You'll be disappointed on both counts. The "novel" can more accurately be described as a poorly written short story about a woman cleaning out her kitchen cupboards. Interspersed throughout the story is an overabundance of [often unrelated] recipes that disrupt the narrative flow. A word of advice: Do yourself a favor. Instead of reading this book, clean out your own cupboards, and then bake a batch of your favorite cookies. Your time will be much more productively spent.

Add a comment  (1 comment) posted by ckubala


APRIL 1, 2009
Meet the Author ~ David Hewson

  photo Mark Bothwell

Please welcome our guest blogger, British Author, David Hewson. Read on for a heads up on what makes his character, Nic Costa, tick and a bit of insight into his latest novel in this fascinating series, Dante's Numbers

"The worst advice budding authors ever get is 'write about what you know'. Do that and you're halfway bored already, and about to share it. I believe in writing about what you don't know, so that you have to discover your fictional world first for yourself, then build it brick by brick for your readers. This is why my series is set in Rome usually). In order to write it I had to move there temporarily, enroll at language school to learn Italian, and try to think, speak and act like a Roman. In a way this kind of activity is second nature. Until I became a full-time author a few years back I'd been a busy journalist for papers like the London Times and Sunday Times, so research comes naturally to me. Whether it's digging up the ancient pagan religion of Mithraism, as I did for the fifth book in the series, The Seventh Sacrament, or trying to find traces of Caravaggio in modern Rome in the sixth The Garden of Evil, I'm happy trudging those cobbled streets in search of inspiration. But fiction isn't journalism. It's about subjective, not objective truth, a search for questions, not answers. The issues I try to approach in these stories are more complex, and more open than any I could tackle within the strict rigors of newspaper reporting. My principle vehicle for doing this is the series protagonist, a Roman detective called Nic Costa. I deliberately set out to try to break the mold with Nic. He's not middle-aged, melancholic, alcoholic, divorced, miserable, cynical... you know the picture? No, he's young, a little naive, ordinary, and fallible, but always, always, shot through with integrity and decency, the kind of straight, good human being you'd really want around when things go wrong. Around him I've built a regular cast of characters who hopefully add some variety to the mix, and let me try to produce a different kind of book with each title. This is my way of avoiding Conan Doyle syndrome, the perennial disease of series writers who end up hating their creations and desperate to kill them. I can honestly say I feel more enthused by Nic and his colleagues now, as I write the ninth book, than ever. So at least he works for me. In the latest book in the series, Dante's Numbers, I throw a curve ball into proceedings. This starts off in Rome as usual, at the premiere of a big budget CGI horror movie of Dante's Inferno. But after some decidedly nasty events the story travels to San Francisco for the rest of he book, where Nic and his colleagues find themselves in the middle of a murder mystery very much set in the history of the city by the bay, not their native Italy. Why move them? I like shifting things from time to time. In Rome, my characters are at home, in charge of their own domain. When they travel they become strangers, a little vulnerable, and liable to show new sides to their character. In San Francisco a story that, at the start, appears to be linked to the work of Dante soon melds with a more recent fantasy, Hitchcock's wonderful movie Vertigo. So you get what I think is a typical book from me - complex, textured, twisting, unpredictable, a reader's book, not some super-quick, linear airport read. But it's quite unlike anything I've written before, or since (the next book being finished, and the one after close to completion). If you like them you can find lots of original research photos and other material on my web site

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Category: Meet the Author


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