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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
JANUARY 31, 2011
The Match:Complete strangers, a miracle face transplant, two lives transformed by Susan Whitman Helfgot
*****comments by CarolK

I've been an organ donor as long as I can remember. In my teens I needed my parent's signature in order to donate my corneas if I should expire. As I got older and medical science progressed I thought it was wonderful that if something should happen to me, my kidneys, pancreas, what have you might be able to give new life to someone waiting for an organ. I have three friends on the wait list at this moment. As much as I believed in organ donation, when heart transplants became a reality, I was a bit squeamish. I think this had something to do with reading too many horror stories where illegal harvesting of organs was part of the plot. Common sense finally won out and I decided that whatever organ or tissue could be of use to someone else was ok by me. I've made my wishes known to my family and have organ donor designation on my Connecticut Driver's license.

Given all of this, reading The Match:Complete strangers, a miracle face transplant, two lives transformed by Susan Whitman Helfgot was a natural for me. Susan's husband, Joseph Helfgot was the recipient of a heart transplant in 2010. He died during the operation that was meant to save his life. He believed in organ donation as did his wife. Not only did Susan agree that Joseph's recently transplanted heart should be donated to someone else on the list, but she also agreed to have her beloved Joseph's face donated to a stranger in a ground breaking procedure.

Of course the transplant in itself is an interesting story. What makes this the five star read it is, is the picture you take away with you of Joseph Helfgot, the donor, and Jim Maki, the man receiving the face.

The idea of face transplants is fairly new and not without its opponents. Reading this book, it is easy for me to see the need for what some call a non-life threatening procedure. Imagine living with such facial disfigurement, just a hole where your nose and mouth used to be, not being able to eat, to blow your nose, let alone look even remotely acceptable to society as Jim Maki did? Others have faces that have been so badly damaged by burns, animal attacks, war or accidents. To be able to give these people new lives is amazing.


The meshing of the lives of Joseph and Jim and each of their stories is expertly told by Susan Whitman Helfgot and biographer William Novak. I came away with such warm regard for Joseph for the man he was and respect for Jim for allowing his story be told. I have deep admiration for Susan Helfgot and her family who so readily saw the need, respected Joseph's wishes and were willing to go public with their grief and pain. It is an incredible story of everything coming together; the organ donor banks, the doctor, Bohdan Pomahac, who believed that a face transplant could work, his team and the hospital that agreed to take the chance.

Highlights for me...When Jim's face first pinks after the first connection of vessels during the operation, you want to cheer. When Jim first realizes he is growing a beard, something he has never been able to do before, I got chills. Reading about Jim Maki's first look in the mirror and the new face that looked back was a wonderful moment. As worried as everyone was that it was too soon and perhaps Jim was not ready, I applauded his bravery and sense of humor when he said "The guy who orchestrated this did a good job". Susan hugs Jim when they first meet and when she leaves she kisses his cheek and thinks, this is Joseph's skin. How amazing!

Listen to Joseph and Susan Helfgot at

See the trailer for the book @

See Jim Maki, plastic surgeon, Dr. Bohdan Pomahac in this video


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JANUARY 30, 2011
This is Dedicated...

The Match
Susan Whitman Helfgot
Simon & Schuster, c.2010.

for Joseph

He had a face like a blessing.

This dedication is so simple but packed with so much emotion that I had to post it today.

Joseph Helfgot, husband of Susan Whitman Helfgot was a recipient of a heart transplant in 2010. He died during the operation that was meant to save his life. He believed in the being a donor as did his wife. Not only did Susan agree that Joseph's recently transplanted heart should be donated to someone else on the list, but she also agreed to have her beloved Joseph's face donated to a stranger in a ground breaking procedure.

See Joseph and Susan on this youtube video

An extraordinary story!

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by CarolK


JANUARY 28, 2011
Left Neglected - Lisa Genova
comments by CarolK

First before I give my views take a look a bas bleu's excellent review of Left Neglected on January 10th or the reader reviews on our catalog at  here
Bas bleu and I often chat about books and frequently like the same things. I love the conversations I have with bas bleu and many others of you so please keep posting and telling me the books you love when you visit our library.

Left Neglected - Lisa Genova

I was quite impressed with Lisa Genova's Still Alice, her debut novel depicting Alice Holland, a 50 year old Harvard professor, descent into Alzheimer's disease. Genova, who holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience got it just right in that first outing. The story stays with me and is one I recommend frequently.
When a first book is so good, can a second outing hold up?
The premise of the new book immediately caught my attention. Sarah Nickerson, holds a high octane job in a busy Human Relations Dept. 60 hour work weeks are the norm and this coupled with Sarah's husband, 3 children, and competitive nature keep her juggling and multi-tasking through life. While driving, one moment of distraction finds Sarah tragically injured in a car accident that leaves her with a syndrome called Left Neglect and questioning whether she'll ever recover to the person she once was. Left Neglect, damage to the brain, has similarities to a stroke, leaving the patient with no conception of the left side of their body or world beyond their field of vision. Fascinating, though heartbreaking.
Told in the first person, Sarah's handling of this major stumble in her life plan with the question of recovery is explored in the balance of the book.
I'm pleased to say Lisa Genova has done it again, providing an intriguing look at a little known medical syndrome while giving us a good story. Sarah's struggle with family relations, self image, goals and dreams, boil down to a new awareness of what truly matters. Left Neglected should be a solid good read for those liking women's contemporary fiction with believable characters.
Will Genova be able to make it three's a charm? I hope so!

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JANUARY 26, 2011
The Story ~ Brandi Carlile
Have you ever had a song spin over and over in your head, one that you just can’t get out of your mind?  This is the second year in a row that I heard a song on WFSB, Eyewitness News; the background music for their year end rap up of news stories. I was determined that this year I was going to track the song down and buy it.

The song that haunted me so was Brandi Carlile’s The Story. It is available on the album of the same name. Brandi Carlile has an edgy voice, and I love the words. It makes me think of all the wonderful times in my life and how fortunate I am to have been to be able to share those stories. How sad it would be to have a tale to tell and no one to tell it to.

Take a look at the lyrics and by all means, check out the cd at our library.

All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I've been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don't mean anything
When you've got no one to tell them to
It's true...I was made for you
I climbed across the mountain tops
Swam all across the ocean blue
I crossed all the lines and I broke all the rules
But baby I broke them all for you
Because even when I was flat broke
You made me feel like a million bucks
You do
I was made for you
You see the smile that's on my mouth
It's hiding the words that don't come out
And all of my friends who think that I'm blessed
They don't know my head is a mess
No, they don't know who I really am
And they don't know what
I've been through like you do
And I was made for you...
All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I've been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don't mean anything
When you've got no one to tell them to
It's true...I was made for you

You can listen to samples of Brandi’s music on her website

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by CarolK


JANUARY 25, 2011
2011 Edgar Nominations - Mystery Writers of America
Calling all mystery fans...need some new mysteries to get you through the winter? I don't think you can go wrong with any of these nominees. 

On January 19th, Mystery Writers of America announced the nominees for the 2011 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2010. The Edgar® Awards will be presented to the winners at the Gala Banquet, April 28, 2011 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City. 

I have read a few of these and Saxton B. owns many of the prime titles. I really enjoyed Franklin's Crooked letter, Crooked Letter and French's Faithful Place. You can read my take on these on my read shelf by visiting my Goodreads account from the adult services webpage. Two of the non-ficton, Side's Hellbound on his Trail and Starr's The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science are own my to be read shelves.

See any favorites on the list? Applause for all particularly Sara Paretsky for her nomination as Grand Master honoring her contributions to the genre.  

Main categories for nominees include: You can find additional categories on The Mystery Writers of America website


 Caught by Harlan Coben (Penguin Group USA - Dutton)

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin (HarperCollins – William Morrow)

Faithful Place by Tana French (Penguin Group USA - Viking)

The Queen of Patpong by Timothy Hallinan (HarperCollins – William Morrow)

The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton (Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books)

I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman (HarperCollins – William Morrow)


 Rogue Island by Bruce DeSilva (Tom Doherty Associates – Forge Books)

The Poacher’s Son by Paul Doiron (Minotaur Books)

The Serialist: A Novel by David Gordon (Simon & Schuster)

Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto (Simon & Schuster - Scribner)

Snow Angels by James Thompson (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)


Long Time Coming by Robert Goddard (Random House - Bantam)

The News Where You Are by Catherine O’Flynn (Henry Holt)

Expiration Date by Duane Swierczynski (Minotaur Books)

Vienna Secrets by Frank Tallis (Random House Trade Paperbacks)

Ten Little Herrings by L.C. Tyler (Felony & Mayhem Press) 



Scoreboard, Baby: A Story of College Football, Crime and Complicity by Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry (University of Nebraska Press – Bison Original)

The Eyes of Willie McGee: A Tragedy of Race, Sex, and Secrets in Jim Crow South by Alex Heard (HarperCollins)

Finding Chandra: A True Washington Murder Mystery by Scott Higham and Sari Horwitz (Simon & Schuster - Scribner)

Hellhound on his Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr and the International Hunt for his Assassin by Hampton Sides (Random House - Doubleday)

The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science by Douglas Starr (Alfred A. Knopf) 



The Wire: Truth Be Told by Rafael Alvarez (Grove Atlantic – Grove Press)

Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making by John Curran (HarperCollins)

Sherlock Holmes for Dummies by Steven Doyle and David A. Crowder (Wiley)

Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and his Rendevouz with American History by Yunte Huang (W.W. Norton)

Thrillers: 100 Must Reads edited by David Morrell and Hank Wagner (Oceanview Publishing) 



"The Scent of Lilacs" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Doug Allyn (Dell Magazines)

"The Plot" – First Thrills by Jeffery Deaver (Tom Doherty – Forge Books)

"A Good Safe Place” – Thin Ice by Judith Green (Level Best Books)

"Monsieur Alice is Absent" – Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine by Stephen Ross (Dell Magazines)

"The Creative Writing Murders" – Dark End of the Street by Edmund White (Bloomsbury) 



Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon (Candlewick Press)

The Buddy Files: The Case of the Lost Boy by Dori Hillestad Butler (Albert Whitman & Co.)

The Haunting of Charles Dickens by Lewis Buzbee (Feiwel & Friends)

Griff Carver: Hallway Patrol by Jim Krieg (Penguin Young Readers Group - Razorbill)

The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman by Ben H. Winters (HarperCollins Children’s Books) 



The River by Mary Jane Beaufrand (Little Brown Books for Young Readers)

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King (Random House Children’s Books – Alfred A. Knopf)

7 Souls by Barnabas Miller and Jordan Orlando (Random House Children’s Books – Delacorte Press)

The Interrogation of Gabriel James by Charlie Price (Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books for Young Readers)

Dust City by Robert Paul Weston (Penguin Young Readers Group - Razorbill) 



"Skyler Hobbs and the Rabbit Man" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Evan Lewis (Dell Magazines)



Sara Paretsky

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JANUARY 24, 2011
The Help ~ Kathryn Stockett


Having heard so much about this book I was a bit reluctant to pick it up, fearing it couldn't possibly live up to the all the accolades. I quickly found out the praise was justified and was pleasantly surprised. I absolutely love the way Stockett structured the story, weaving the tales of the maids and their employers into a book being written by a woman wanting to see social change. Though many view The Help as all about servitude of black women in the south, I found much more story here. It would make a great book discussion pick allowing for conversation about women; who we are, what we believe in, what we share and where we're going. Anyone trying to gain a sense of growing up in the 60's south, liking strong female characters, stories told in each character's voice and opposing viewpoints, might find The Help to their liking. I think Picoult fans or those who loved The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd would enjoy The Help.

Add a comment  (2 comments) posted by CarolK


JANUARY 23, 2011
This is Dedicated...
Whatever You Do, Don't Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide
Peter Allison
Lyons Press, c.2008.

This book is dedicated to anyone who works to protect wild places and the animals within them, but in particular to the safari guides who taught me so much.

My  particular thanks go to Chris Greathead, Devlin Foxcroft, Iain Garrett, the Marais family (including Sally), Helen Dewar, Duncan Menzies, Alpheus Mathebula, Titus Indloovu, B.K. Setlabosha, Llyod Camp, Clinton "Cliffy" Phillips, Grant Woodrow, Mike Myers,Lex Hes, Richard Field, Paul Allen, Colin Bell, Russell Friedman, Chris Kruger, Julius Masogo, the late great Rantaung Rauntang, and the sadly missed Nandi Retiyo.

Everything I know about animals I learned from this group, so any mistakes in this book are their fault.

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JANUARY 20, 2011
Jane and the madness of Lord Byron : being a Jane Austen mystery ~ Stephanie Barron
*****comments by Merand

Jane and the madness of Lord Byron : being a Jane Austen mystery / by Stephanie Barron

"Excellent! This latest offering in the Jane Austen mystery series was well written, highly entertaining, and kept me guessing. I have read all of the books in this series and have highly enjoyed it and would recommend it. The first couple of books are a bit on the quiet side but once you get caught up in the series and the recurring characters, you can't help but be sucked in. I think Madness had an even more engrossing mystery than usual, not to mention Jane's brother Henry is greatly involved, which is always fun, and a reappearance from an excellent character from Jane's past. I am always intrigued by the lifestyles of the wealthy, highborn, royal classes of England and this story has lots of scandal to fill the pages with intrigue. In this way, I find it similar to Lauren Willig's entertaining Pink Carnation series which are set in similar times.
Knowing that Jane Austen's life is drawing near to its end, I'm glad to read that yet another Jane mystery will be written and I'll look forward to more time with this excellent fictional Jane.

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JANUARY 17, 2011
Wheels of Change - Sue Macy

I was absolutely delighted by Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) by Sue Macy. Of course there are other books that outline the history of the bicycle but the unique quality of Macy’s is her look at how it changed and shaped the woman’s world in the 1800’s wheeling us right into the present day.
I was surprised to see that our library is the only library that owns this book in the state of Connecticut and that’s a shame as there is a lot to be learned in these pages. History and stories of women and their boneshakers, velocipedes, sidesaddles, tricycles, and tandems are just part of the story. Bicycle fashion, bicycle races, bicycle advertising, women inventors, this book covers it all. There are quotes, tales of prominent women who loved their cycles, and those who thought women would surely go to the devil if they rode. Bicycle songs, bicycle lore, cycling slang, and bicycling magazines fill in, not leaving many gaps. Oh, and did I say, the illustrations are great!
There were so many stories I wanted to share after reading this that’s it’s hard to choose just one.
Annie Get Your Wheel-1892
Sharpshooter Annie Oakley, pictured in the book, gave an interview to Britain’s The Cycle Record about her new bicycle. “I am delighted with my wheel,” she said. “I am equally as fond of it as my horse.” 
She went on to make the bike part of her shooting act in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, teaching herself to ride without use of the handlebars and shooting at glass balls thrown in the air. Imagine! this in 1892. 
Sue Macy’s portrait of cycling history, as both sport and means of transportation, moving women forward and enacting change, is not to be missed.

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JANUARY 16, 2011
This is Dedicated...
So Cold the River
Michael Koryta
Little Brown and Company, c2010.

For Christine, who wouldn't let me talk myself out of this one

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JANUARY 13, 2011
So Cold the River - Michael Koryta

I'm glad I didn't listen to the mediocre reviews I read about So Cold the River. I had almost decided not to read it and that would have been my loss. All in all I really liked it though it was a tad long and probably could have been wrapped much quicker.

The strongest element that kept me reading was the back story of the the West Baden Springs Hotel and the French Lick Springs Resort. Having just visited these this past fall I was fascinated by the way Koryta weaved the history of these stunning restored resorts into his tale. Pluto water, Sprudel water, The Lost River, and the excellently rendered characters of Campbell Bradford, and Eric Shaw made this a winner for me. Good vs. evil at its edge of the seat best! I liken So Cold the River to a train wreck waiting to happen; chug, chug, chugging along to a disastrous end with no way to stop it from derailing.. Haven't had so much fun reading a chiller in a long time.

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JANUARY 10, 2011
Left Neglected ~ Lisa Genova
*****Comments by bas bleu

Left Neglected - Lisa Genova

A thought-provoking second novel...

Sarah Nickerson, an over-achieving, type-A Harvard Business School graduate, wants it all. And, for a time, she has it: a husband, three young children, a high-powered corporate job, a primary home in the Boston suburbs, and a vacation home in Vermont. Every moment of her day is spoken for, and she has elevated the concept of multi-tasking to a dizzyingly high level.

Sarah's precariously built house of cards comes tumbling down when, searching for her cell phone while driving to work one rainy day, she is involved in a horrific car accident. A traumatic brain injury leaves her suffering from Left Neglect, a condition where her brain fails to recognize the left side of her body or anything in her left field of vision. The underlying neurological processes of this condition are not well-understood, and Sarah must use her fierce drive and ambition to make as complete a recovery as possible.

During the recovery process, Sarah comes to examine her life and its priorities. She realizes that wealth and power cannot compare with having the time to be fully present in the lives of her husband and children. Sarah also forges a new and more meaningful relationship with her long-estranged mother, who comes forward to help Sarah and her family cope with this crisis.

Left Neglected offers life lessons for all of us. In our increasingly chaotic and frenzied world, we often get caught up in merely surviving the requirements and activities of each day rather than living our lives with true meaning. Lisa Genova is a talented writer who compels her readers to look more closely at their own lives with gratitude for the abundant blessings that we usually take for granted.


Add a comment  (3 comments) posted by CarolK


JANUARY 9, 2011
This is Dedicated...
Handle with Care
Jodi Picoult
Atria Books, C2009.

For Marjorie Rose,
Who makes flowers bloom onstage,
Provides me with goss half a world away,
And knows you're never fully dressed
without a green bag.

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JANUARY 5, 2011
The Singer's Gun ~ Emily St. John Mandel

*** 1/2
comments by CarolK

I needed to sleep on this one before commenting. When I read the very first review of The Singer’s Gun, I knew it was a book I wanted to read. Words like half truths, exploration of moral compass, suspenseful, were enough to add this to my TBR pile. Then The Singer’s Gun started showing up on some Best of 2010 lists and I knew I had to move it up on my list.

The Singer’s Gun was not quite what I was expecting. It is not a crime novel in the usual sense. Rather than sum up the plot let me tell you what for me was the strongest element of "like". The exploration of what makes someone good is the fundamental thought that I will keep from this read. I'd love to discuss what constitutes someone as being a good person, making this a good selection for book discussion.

The hype of book reviews, awards, etc. often makes it hard for a book to live up to my expectations. I liked this; maybe not as much as some but enough to seek out Mandel’s first book, The Last Night in Montreal.

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JANUARY 2, 2011
This is Dedicated
Penguin Book of Women's Humor
Regina Barreca, Editor
Penguin, c.1996

In memory of Diane Cleaver, who knew by heart
that while life is no joke,
it is nevertheless
remarkably funny.

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