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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
NOVEMBER 30, 2011
Balloons Over Broadway:The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade ~ Melissa Sweet

comments by CarolK

Balloons Over Broadway:The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade 

Each year Thanksgiving Day finds me reminiscing back to childhood and smells of turkey cooking, family, laughter, love and of course, The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. My mother was cooking in the kitchen but she'd pop into the living room and join me and my father to watch the marching bands, the crowds and of course those magnificent balloons floating down the streets of New York. I always thought I'd like to venture to New York and see the parade in all its colorful glory, in person. Each year as Thanksgiving approached I'd think about going and then would dismiss the plan. I don't like the cold so thought it might be better to just watch the parade from the warmth of my living room. This year as I thought about going I had to ask myself, "what am I waiting for?". And so I made the plan to finally go to see The 2011 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

We've got two books in our library on the parade:

Milly and the Macy's Parade / by Shana Corey ; illustrated by Brett Helquist. ;
A picture book based on a true story of the parade's 1924 origins, this has stunning art and reminds me of a window dressing.

The second, ia a 2011 publication, Balloons over Broadway : the true story of the puppeteer of Macy's Parade / written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. This children's book tells the story of the puppeteer Tony Sarg and his creation of the first giant balloons to fly over the crowds and becoming an American tradition that has entertains millions each year. It's a fascinating story and was the perfect choice to read while planning my trip to the parade.

My husband, grandchildren and I were fortunate that mother nature provided excellent weather on Thanksgiving Day. We found a sunny spot with a wall for leaning bordering Central Park and 63rd St. We had plenty of time to mingle and talk with people as we arrived at 7AM and had two hours before the parade would begin.

You might see more watching the parade on tv, but nothing will compare to seeing that first balloon come down the avenue. It was incredible! They are huge, taking up the whole width of the street and even on this balmy day, you can see the sheer strength it takes the handlers to keep the balloons from crashing into buildings or taking off. My favorite, hands down, Kermit the Frog! The spectators were extremely appreciative of the bands, clowns, celebrities and other parade participants but none so much as the NY Firemen and NYPD. The cheering for all was wonderful to see.

So where's my pictures? They're in my head, to bring back at whim, new memories of a very special Thanksgiving Day.

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NOVEMBER 26, 2011
Flash of Genius

comments by CarolK

   Invention  The better idea!

Flash of Genius...based on the true story

Last night I watched Flash of Genius starring Greg Kinnear. Though not a new movie it’s new to Saxton B. and I’m going to put it on our star cart. I’m not certain how close the movie follows the real story but you won’t be able to watch this without cheering for the underdog and finding much to discuss.
Flash of Genius is based on the life work, some say, obsession of Dr. Robert Kearns, invention of Kearns Blinking Eye Windshield Wiper, better known as the intermittent wiper. Supported by his wife and 6 children, the Kearns Family Corporation brings their plan to Ford who immediately see the possibilities of this invention. Kearns wants to manufacture it himself; Ford has other ideas and virtually steals the idea. The battle begins.
I’m definitely going to read the original article Annals of Invention: the Flash of Genius
by John Seabrook of The New Yorker, that inspired this film. I’ll leave it to you to read it if you wish.
The backs story on how Dr. Kearns comes up with his idea is funny and brilliant. For anyone who has ever tried to fight the system, this feel good, yet thought provoking movie is a must!

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NOVEMBER 23, 2011
Snowman ~ Jo Nesbo
Snowman ~ Jo Nesbo

Who would have thought that snowmen could be frightening? Clowns, yes, but snowmen? Mind you I've never been overly fond of the stuff snowmen are made of but they've never given me cause for fear. Not until I read Jo Nesbo's The Snowman.

I usually start a series right bang at the beginning but after hearing about The Snowman, I just couldn't wait. Imagine a snowfall, then looking out your window to find a snowman gracing your yard; one not of your making. Nothing sinister about that, except; look again, this snowman is looking in your window, right at you with a horrible, skewed, grin.

Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole series is gaining new fans in the US as each is translated into English. Though I might have gained background information on  Hole, I don't think not having read the prior novels hurt my enjoyment of The Snowman.

A boy named Jonas wakes to find his mother missing. It's Hole's job to find her. Soon he discovers the case is not a single occurrence, but the work of a ruthless serial killer.

If you're looking for a thriller, this is the ticket but be prepared to spend some time delving into its intricate plot. You'll shiver at the descriptions of the Oslo landscape, get tangled in the lives of the characters and sit on the edge of your seat to the very end. First rate all the way. The Snowman is evil at its glorious, em', I mean goriest best.

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NOVEMBER 2, 2011
Shadow of the Wind ~ Carlos Ruiz-Zafon

comments by CarolK

Several of my GoodReads friends really loved Shadow of the Wind. Paul and Helen nudged me to move it up on my list and I can't thank them enough for this. I have just spent the last week reading one of the most engaging novels that I've read this past year. Watch out everyone. I'm going to badger you until you read it too.

Shadow of the Wind is a bit of a humbling experience; I'm truly not certain I can do it justice. If you're a book lover, someone who loves to read, who appreciates stories with realistic characters and vivid locales, put Shadow on your list.

Shadow of the Wind is a book to cherish. It has it all. It's a heart wrenching love story, intricate mystery, rollicking adventure, and though serious, laugh out loud funny at times. Talk about characters that you come to know and love. Shadow possesses some of the absolute best. These include the main character Daniel, his side-kick, the down and out homeless, Fermin Romero de Torres, an incredibly brutal and evil cop, Chief Inspector Francisco Javier Fumero, some very beautiful and sexy women, and a whole cast of others that come to life on these pages.

Told over a span of many years, much of the action takes place in post-second world war Barcelona. On Daniel's eleventh birthday to his horror he can no longer picture his deceased mothers face. In an attempt to make the day special his father, a book store owner, brings Daniel to a magical place, The Cemetery of Forgotten Books and encourages Daniel to choose one book from this repository for the cast off books of the world. Daniel's selection, The Shadow of the Wind, by Julian Carax captures his boyhood imagination and undying admiration. He can't wait to get his hands on more by this author.  Daniel soon learns that Carax has disappeared and his books are just as elusive as the author. Early on he discovers someone has been searching for and destroying all Carax's works. The mystery behind author and works becomes an obsession that will haunt and play a part in Daniel's life for years.

There are many beautiful descriptive passages throughout. I'll quote just one passage for us bibliophiles:

"Bea says the art of reading is slowly dying, that it's an intimate ritual, that a book is a mirror that offers us only what we already carry inside us, that when we read, we do it with all our heart and mind, and great readers are becoming more scarce by the day." Exquisite!

No more as they seem out of context or revealing to plot and in the end each reader finds his own favorite quotes. Suffice it to say, you're bound to find something that will remain with you here.

I had picked Shadow up over a year ago and initially wasn't certain I would like it. I had not given it time to absorb me into its plot. I didn't understand where this Cemetery of Forgotten Books was taking me or why I'd like to take the journey. So much in a story depends on mood and my level of concentration. This time out I was engrossed from the start and only wished I had more time to read to the finish. Stretching the book over a week's time was probably not a bad thing in the end as I savored the language and story as I read more slowly. I could easily read this again and will add it to my all time favorites list. Books, reading, telling stories, life and the lessons it teaches; Carlos Ruiz Zafon gets it right!

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