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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
JULY 31, 2011
This is Dedicated...

Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts

Lucy Dillon
Berkley Books, New York
c.2011

For the volunteers who work so hard
to make second chances happen
for lost and lonely dogs everywhere


Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by CarolK

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JULY 28, 2011
The Night Circus ~ Erin Morgenstern

*****
comments by CarolK

Of late, it seems many authors are writing books that stretch the norm a tad. Some might call them gimmicky. Popular reads this summer feature werewolves, vampires, zombies and the like. So what to make of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, where Les Cirque des Rêves is comprised of towering tents, striped in black and white and only opens at nightfall?
 
The Night Circus was the buzz book at this year’s BEA. I tried to get my hot little hands on a copy without success. I wrote the publisher and begged but still no luck. Then one day a box of ARC’s arrived and there, much to my surprise, it lay. I considered cancelling a family picnic so I could just read this book. Sanity prevailed and I started it late Sunday night. I’m so excited to tell you all the advance praise is deserved. The Night Circus hooked me right from the very first sentence “The circus arrives without warning.” Erin Morgenstern has created a big top like none you’ve ever imagined. When you turn the page you’ll feel fortunate to have a ticket of admission to hand the gatekeeper which allows you to become part of this creative world of illusionists, fortunetellers, acrobats, and other amazing sights. A circus that appears mysteriously, opens only at night, and disappears all too soon.
 
At the heart of the story there are magical forces destined to duel to the last standing. If those chosen to participate, refuse, consequences may tumble the whole. The Night Circus is lushly descriptive, has characters that jump off the page and is like reading an adult fairy tale.
 
Can you tell I loved it? I did, and can’t wait until it is published this September. Enter and be enchanted.

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JULY 27, 2011
Chicken Soup for the Grieving Soul ~ Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen

*****

comments by CarolK

For many years I’ve always had a serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Stories About Life, Death and Overcoming the Loss of a Loved One, on my pile of books; spooning up one or two a day. They’re just the right size to be savored each morning. The stories often inspire me, remind me to be thankful for my blessings, appreciate my life, spark memories, and are a good jump start to a positive attitude for the day.
 
This recent assortment was no exception, but did take me a bit longer to read than some of the others. Sometimes days would go by before I’d read the next offering. Perhaps it was the nature of the stories gathered here that caused me to take my time to absorb.
 
I have my favorites in the Chicken Soup series. Chicken Soup for the Grieving Soul is definitely in the top five. Starting with this quote:
 
“the best and most beautiful things in the
world cannot be seen, nor touched, but are felt in the heart.”
Helen Keller
 
to its very end, it was a touching, sometimes heart-wrenching, surprisingly heart-warming journey.
 
Instead of sharing the stories that will remain with me; I’d suggest you sample these on your own, taking what you need. Grieving is so personal. What comforted me might not be the same for you. If you are grieving or in need a way to help you through the process, Chicken Soup for the Grieving Soul might be helpful. It provided an outlet for me to open up my heart to recent losses. It was a blend of sadness, comfort, humor and healing; a testament that life can and does continue, differently but living just he same!

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JULY 24, 2011
This is Dedicated...

The Doctor's Daughter
Hilma Wolitzer

Ballantine, Random House c.2006

To those good doctores,
Julia Smith and Frances Cohen,
keepers of body and spirit


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JULY 18, 2011
The Hypnotist~ Lars Kepler
comments by CarolK

The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler (pseudonym)is a good summer read if only for its cold setting.It's being billed as a natural for fans of The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo. Don't read it however, if you're looking for the next Lizbeth Salander. The Hypnotist is a Swedish thriller, translated and brought to our shores in keeping with our craving of more of this genre. 

The Hypnotist starts out with enough brutal killing for any die hard fan of graphic, sadistic slayings. The scene is horribly vivid as the bodies of four members of a family, one a very young child, are found slashed and literally in pieces. A survivor, 15 year old, Josef Ek, found at the scene, is hanging on by a thread. His injuries are so life threatening that when hospitalized, staff call in Erik Maria Bark, a hypnotist, to see if he can obtain information that would help police identify the attacker. This to prevent the killer finishing off Josef and the only other surviving member of the family, his sister, Evelyn, not living home at the time of the murders. 

There's lots more going on here than just the murder of the family. Slowly, at the beginning and with increasing speed, paced exquisitely; The Hypnotist reveals its story and the core roots of evil. It's a thriller for sure but for me, more a horror story; the real kind, where man's inhumanity to man is portrayed in all its ultimate depravity. That it takes place in the month leading to Christmas only makes it more compelling. 

Lars Kepler introduces some interesting characters in Erik Maria Bark, The Hypnotist, whose background is weaved throughout, and that of his shaky marriage with wife, Simone. Benjamin, their son, who suffers from a rare blood disease, becomes an integral part of the book when he is kidnapped. Motives for the kidnapping and who's responsible spiral the plot to its conclusion. Simone's father, a retired policeman is thrown in to help. Unfortunately he only proves to make me dislike Simone more as she is depicted as a daddy's girl. Of course, there is a policeman too, Joona Linna, who fits the atmosphere of the frigidness of the book's locale. His stoic rightness becomes an endearing trademark of his character. Definitely a sequel in the works by the setup of the characters. The one I'd like to see more of is by far Dr. Erik Maria Bark. His role as hypnotist and its study leaves much more to explore. 

503 pages read quickly and could be done in one sitting if you want to zip to the finish. I thought it was a bit too long; a shorter, tighter story would have been more rewarding. All in all though, a solid choice for summer reading and a new addition to the growing list of Swedish authors. 

Oh, did I mention that Lars Kepler is the writing team of a literary couple? NPR has the story The Authors Behind The Author of 'The Hypnotist'.

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JULY 17, 2011
This is Dedicated...
Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind
    the Most Audacious Heist in History

Ben Mezrich

Doubleday, NY, c2011.


To Asher--this one will always be special, because you
came into our world somewhere between Chapter 1
and Chapter 10. And maybe, just maybe, by the time
you're old enough to read this, together we'll be watching
someone take those first steps on Mars...


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JULY 16, 2011
Thrillerfest 2011

I didn't attend but I still get a tingle, or should that be a thrill, when the winners of the 2011 Thrillerfest Awards were announced. These are voted on each year by The International Thriller Writers .

The two categories that interest me the most are (nominees with winner listed first)

Best First Novel
Chevy Stevens – STILL MISSING (St. Martin’s)
Carla Buckley – THE THINGS THAT KEEP US HERE (Random House)
Paul Doiron – THE POACHER’S SON (Minatour)
Reece Hirsch – THE INSIDER (Berkley)
Thomas Kaufman – DRINK THE TEA (Minatour)

Best Hardcover Novel
John Sanford – BAD BLOOD (Putnam)
Michael Connelly – THE REVERSAL (Little Brown)
Jeffery Deaver – EDGE: A NOVEL (Simon & Schuster)
Brian Freeman – THE BURYING PLACE (Minatour)
Mo Hayder – SKIN (Grove)

I haven't read them all but felt Stevens Still Missing was a great debut. Here's my comments as posted to this blog:

I really liked the Chevy Stevens presented this debut. Sounds like a simple story. Real Estate Agent, Annie O'Sullivan is abducted at the closing of an open house. She coins this person "The Freak", though some of us may have other names for this type of predator. We learn of Annie's harrowing fight for survival through gut wrenching, often angry, therapy sessions. It's a good way to unfold Annie's story, a session at a time. The title summed it up for me.

and anyone who follows my reviews here or on Goodreads knows that Mo Hayder's Gone was one of my favorite recent reads. I hear Skin is just as good.

You can see the other winners by following the link at Thrillerfest.

So do you agree with the winners? Which have you read and enjoyed?

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by CarolK

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JULY 13, 2011
Sing You Home ~ Jodi Picoult

***
comments by PatG

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

For Picoult fans you know her books are usually about "kiddie angst." This one again deals with a timely, controversial subject, one with tremendous emotional overtones and strong opinions on both sides. I found it provocative and educational about the whole issue of gay rights and reproductive freedom. It was not as easy read as many of her other books have shown. Would recommend it to Picoult fans. I enjoyed it but am returning to my favorite mystery genre as soon as I find someone I enjoy as much as Louise Penny.

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JULY 12, 2011
The Informationist ~
****
comments by CarolK

The Informationist by Taylor Stevens

I picked this one up for several reasons. First, I love the title and the picture it evokes. An Informationist, someone who deals in information. In this case this person is one Vanessa "Michael" Munroe,. That's the second reason I picked up the book. Reviews depicted Vanessa/Michael as one strong female,a character trait I like in my reading. Third reason; reviews called it a gripping, fast paced, high octane thriller. And lastly, I picked it up as it is debut fiction, always a treat for me.

 So did it deliver? Yes on several counts, almost too much so. Munroe is intelligent, tough, ruthless when she needs to be, and yet there is a feminine side that she knows how to play and says woman all the way. The story is definitely fast paced and would keep any thriller fan engaged. Munroe is being compared to Lizbeth Salander of Girl With the Dragon Tattoo fame but though I see some similarities, I didn't immediately make this connection. Yet, if you liked Dragon, I think you'd like this too.

 I liked the way Taylor Stevens revealed bits and pieces of Munroe's background, the things that make her who she is, throughout the book. I love the switchback changing of names, rapid fire at times; Vanessa, Michael, Monroe, each revealing their own complexity of character, almost like three different people contributing to the intrigue of the story. What didn't quite work for me was Munroe's ability to come out on top of some very serious situations. You know what I mean, the Indiana Jones sort of story, where coming out alive is almost unbelievable. Normally, I'd say, hey this fiction, suspend belief, and just enjoy the ride. Here, though, it detracts from the whole for me. Munroe is enough of a guerrilla warfare type gal, gutsy and well-trained, that taking it over the top is not necessary. 

I need not tell you much more. A synopsis of the book will give you a better picture of plot. A solid 4; a good summer read, great setting (Africa) and interesting character. I'm certain we'll see a sequel.

Be certain to read a bit about the author. Interesting to say the least.

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JULY 11, 2011
And even MORE Hot Summer Reading Lists

I promised to post any summer reading lists I found. I figured I'd find em' here and there throughout the summer but one of my favorite bloggers is way ahead of me.

Largehearted Boy
is a list keeper supreme. He gathers all kinds of lists throughout the year and summer reading lists are no sweat for him.

See his mega, and I mean mega, list here.

Check back as his list will be updated frequently. Thank you Largehearted Boy!

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JULY 10, 2011
This is Dedicated...

The Hummingbird Wizard
Meredith Blevins
A Tor Book, Thomas Doherty Assoc., LLC, C2003.

To Win,
sweet husband extraordinaire

~

You came pretty late to my party--
you'd better be able to dance until dawn

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JULY 6, 2011
2011 RITA Winners

Romance is once again in the air with the 2011 Romance Writers of America Awards,
The RITA & Goldn Heart Winners. Take a gander at the list. You're sure to find a good book for summer reading. I'm not certain how many of these we own but we are always willing to find them via interlibrary loan.

One title that I know has been a hot read for teens,

      The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

won the Young Adult Award. It's Book One in the The Iron Fey Series, followed by Iron Daughter and Iron Queen.


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JULY 5, 2011
More Hot Summer Reading Lists

It's almost certain that there will be more summer reading lists published as the summer steams on. As I see them, I'll post them. I

I love the title of this list from The New York Times

Books to Bury Yourself In


I'm not certain if this means buried in sand or refers to the crime laden nature of the list but either way it's got some great mystery killers for enjoying in the sun!

The Girl With the Sturgeon Tattoo by Lars Arffssen

The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

The Gods of Greenwich by Norb Vonnegut

What Alice Forgot by Alice Mary Love

Gone With a Handsomer Man by Michael Lee West

Exposure by Therese Fowler

Faith by Jennifer Haigh

The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

Le Seduction by Elaine Sciolino

Beneath a Starlet Sky by Amanda Goldberg and Ruthanna Khalighi

Good Stuff by Jennifer Grant

Robert Redford: The Biography by Michael Feeney Callan

Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales

Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir by Steven Tyler With David Dalton

Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson

The Cut (Spero Lucas) by George Pelecanos

Theodore Boone: The Abduction by John Grisham


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JULY 3, 2011
This is Dedicated...

Another Man's Moccasins
A Walt Longmire Mystery

Craig Johnson

Penguin Books, C.2009

For Bill Bower and all those crazy bastards who flew off
the USS Hornet and into those cold, gray skies on the
morning of April 18, 1942--and everybody who ever
threw a salute before and after.

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JULY 1, 2011
The Cloud Garden: A True Story of Adventure, Survival, and Extreme Horticulture, ~ Tom Hart Dyke & Paul WInder
comments by CarolK

My husband and I visited Panama a few summers ago. We went through the 3 sets of locks on a small Catamaran. The crew of the ship told me about another tour they host that visits Colombia. They piqued my interest in this little visited country by dangling beautiful birds, virgin forests, lots of nature and far from the crowds lodging under my adventuresome nose. This lead me to read The Cloud Garden: A True Story of Adventure, Survival, and Extreme Horticulture, hoping for a picture of what the area of Colombia known as Darien is like. Unlike the writers of this book, I had no intention of trying to machete my way through The Gap, but to be lead by experienced guides to a nice, safe retreat After reading The Cloud Garden and being privy to Tom and Paul's ambush and kidnapping and hearing some of the continuing political turmoil, I think my adventure to Darien and Colombia is on hold.

 

Two young, read this as somewhat foolhardy, Brits who somehow come together decide that crossing The Darien Gap on foot would be challenging yet fun. This stretch of dense jungle, inhabited by guerillas and drug runners, had only been successfully navigated by 2 Americans when Tom and Paul made their plan. They met with skepticism and outright warnings by officials and backpackers alike as they told of their plan to hike through to Colombia. At least Tom can be forgiven his craziness as he dreams of finding new species of orchids that may only exist in this jungle maze. Paul seems just to want to do it as few have.

 

As I read Paul's preparations I was fascinated by the things he felt he needed for jungle travel. A machete, five dollar cooking pot, straw mat, iodine, matches,and a lucky dollar watch previously purchased on the Mexican border comprised most of his pack. He also stashed a small amount of dried food for emergencies. Travel light and travel cheap seemed to be the creed. I am always interested in what goes in the pack on adventures such as these. This interest dates back to when I read Bill Bryson's Walk in the Woods and laughed at the Little Debbie's in Katz's pack. At some point these had to go. So Tom and Paul pack . The two get underway and had almost reached their goal when the ambush came; swift, brutal, and with guns aimed at their heads. They truly did not know whether they would live or die. Thus began a nine-month ordeal as they are held hostage, not certain by whom, not knowing if a ransom has been demanded, or when, if ever, they might be let go. They are moved from place to place, their guards changing as frequently as their location. Yet, they never seem to really be treated badly and if you can believe it, there are some humorous parts to the story too. Tom and Paul come up with some interesting and funny names for their captors. They manage to craft a deck of cards, a chess set, draughts, play 20 questions, and sing. The food, though not great, does sustain them. Like most jungle stories, there are insects you'd rather not know about, muddy water you don't want to drink or bathe in and of course, rain and heat. I'm not giving anything away by saying they survive, as you know they do because they wrote the book. How they did is the essence of the story and though it is a great adventure and though I love this kind of story, I have no desire to duplicate it myself.

If I hadn't read it with my very own eyes, and hadn't done some research about the two, I might have wondered if the tale were true; it was that amazing of a story. I couldn't put it down.

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