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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
SEPTEMBER 21, 2010
Shatter ~ Michael Robotham

****bas bleu

Move Over James Patterson! Shatter by Michael Robotham

I don't know about you, but I have been searching for a "new" author of psychological thrillers. My old stand-bys, including James Patterson, Thomas Harris, and Patricia Cornwell, have disappointed me in recent years, and I had begun to despair of finding a worthy replacement. Happily, I have found that author in Michael Robotham, who comes recommended by no less than the king of mystery and suspense himself, Stephen King. Joe O'Loughlin is a clinical psychologist and professor of behavioral psychology at the University of Bath. He and his family move from the stresses of London to a quieter environment in England's West country when Joe's physical condition continues to deteriorate due to his battle with Parkinson's disease. Soon after their arrival, the plot begins to unfold when Joe tries to save a woman who ultimately jumps from a bridge. Originally thought to be a suicide, the event is the first of several incidents that involve the antagonist, a military interrogator who uses his special training to coerce women into killing themselves. As the stakes grow higher, Joe's marriage flounders, and his own family is put into jeopardy. In addition to the sharp dialogue, another plus of this novel is the well-developed secondary characters, including Detective Inspector Veronica Cray, retired detective Vincent Ruiz, and Darcy Wheeler, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the first victim. A couple of quibbles: I was surprised that the killer's identity was revealed as soon as it was. I would also like to have had the character of the villain more fully developed. For example, one of the reasons I find Hannibal Lecter so fascinating is because he is a fully realized character. The antagonist in "Shatter" could have been even more terrorizing were he not so one-dimensional. A few kudos: Robotham does a fine job with the setting of the novel, the explanation of cell phone technology (upon which the solution hinges), behavioral profiling, and demonstrating the impact that Parkinson's disease can have on an individual. I love novels that teach me something new about varied subjects, and "Shatter" did this for me. One of my favorite passages from the novel: "There is a moment when all hope disappears, all pride is gone, all expectation, all faith, all desire. I own that moment. It belongs to me. That's when I hear the sound, the sound of a mind breaking. It's not a loud crack like when bones shatter or a spine fractures or a skull collapses. And it's not something soft and wet like a heart breaking. It's a sound that makes you wonder how much pain a person can endure; a sound that shatters memories and lets the past leak into the present; a sound so high that only the hounds of hell can hear it. Can you hear it? Someone is curled up in a tiny ball crying softly into an endless night." If you are a fan of psychological thrillers, you should add Michael Robotham's name to your list of "must read" authors.


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SEPTEMBER 19, 2010
This is Dedicated...

The Cheapskate Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of American Living Happily Belwo their Means
Jeff Yeager
Broadway Books, c2010

To my parents, Joyce and Doug Yeager, and to
all parents who teach their children that happiness
is not about the money. That priceless-but-free
gift you give your kids becomes more valuable
with each passing year. This I know, thanks to
my mom and dad.

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SEPTEMBER 16, 2010
Blind Descent ~ James M. Tabor

"Why do you climb the mountain?" The answer, the trite "Because it's there!" Simple, but in the case of Blind Descent by James M. Tabor,  you've still got to wonder. The explorers here are not climbing mountains but diving and exploring caves in hopes of finding the deepest ever, the bottom of the world. They endure the worst conditions to realize their dream. Cold, wet, dark and dank; no other way to describe it. Darkness that leaves them virtually blind, sound that is so intensified all else is blocked out, narrow passages, flooding, falling rock, sleeping bags attached by a shoestring, lack of oxygen, too much oxygen, hallucinations, the journey down, the realization that all must be done in reverse; months on end of bleak conditions that would leave me insane. And the gear, no light load, that must be carried, checked, doubled checked and used properly to assure survival.

This is a parallel story of two teams, the first led by Bill Stone, an American scientist explorer who is out to prove that Cheve Cave, in southern Mexico is the super cave. The second is led by Ukrainian explorer Alexander Klimchouk who is equally certain that Krubera, in the republic of Georgia, will earn the super cave distinction. Reviewers have called Stone and Klimchouk polar opposites and this seems true. Their style of leadership is very different but the means to the end for both is driven by science, discovery, bravery and a stubborn determination to succeed in their goals.

James M. Tabor does an excellent job of taking the reader along for the dive, allowing us to experience the adrenalin of the adventure from our safe and warm homes. If you're at all claustrophobic, you might want to skip Blind Descent. If you liked Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson or Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, I think this would be a book to put on your list.

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SEPTEMBER 13, 2010
The Bear's Embrace ~ Patricia Van Tighem

I bought The Bear's Embrace after hearing Ann Kingman talk about it on Books On The Nightstand Episode #38, Remarkable Lives... 

I knew when I started this book that it would be painful to read, so why put myself through it? I thought it might give me an insight into what it takes to survive and thought surely it would end feeling hopeful. It was not to be as simple as that. .. 

Each reader will take something different from The Bear's Embrace. For me, that Patricia Van Tighem can share her story in an effort to heal herself and to help others, attests to her spirit. What a special woman.

In 1983, Patricia and her husband, Trevor are out for a hike in the beautiful Canadian Rockies when they are attacked by a grizzly bear. They live to tell and you think that will be the end of the story. As Patricia describes the next eighteen years of her life you realize just how much one moment in time can change all that is to come.

In one part of the book Patricia describes an interview with a Calgary Herald reporter a short time after the attack. The resulting story makes her livid for his commentary and here is how she describes her feelings.

"The reporter says Trevor and I look better than two people have a right to look less than four months after tangling with an angry grizzly bear. Better than we have a right to look? What kind of statement is that?After hours and hours in surgery, the months in hospital, we have every right to look as "well" as we do. I don't want to feel that I am disappointing as a bear-mauling victim. I won't give any more interviews. They just don't understand."

It was at this point that I went and found the most elegant bookmark I could to mark my place. Patricia deserved it!

I rarely cry reading a book but by the time I finished Patricia Van Tighem's story my emotions were a wreck. It was not what I expected but it is a story I won't forge and will share with others. Several hours later I decided to search for her on the Internet to see what else she might have written as she is a gifted writer. Instead of further writings I found her obituary. Patricia Van Tighem Janz, at the age of 47, found peace by her decision to end her life. I am sorry for her suffering. I humbly applaud her for what she has left us.

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SEPTEMBER 12, 2010
This is Dedicated
from bas bleu with our sincere thanks

Sunrise Over Fallujah
Walter Dean Myers
Scholastic Press, c2008.
"To the men and women, now serving, or who have served, in the United States Armed Forces, and to all the families who have anxiously awaited their safe return."

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SEPTEMBER 10, 2010
The Man Booker Prize

I get very confused about this award called The Man Booker Prize. There's a longlist. There's a shortlist. There' an international prize given every two years. And then there are winners and prizes. On September 7th, The Man Booker Prize for Fiction Shortlist was announced, chosen from the original 13 longlist I gather. "The Man Booker Prize for Fiction, first awarded in 1969, promotes the finest in fiction by rewarding the very best book of the year."Read more on their website

Peter Carey Parrot and Olivier in America (Faber and Faber)

Emma Donoghue Room (Picador - Pan Macmillan)

Damon Galgut In a Strange Room (Atlantic Books - Grove Atlantic)

Howard Jacobson The Finkler Question (Bloomsbury)

Andrea Levy The Long Song (Headline Review -Headline Publishing Group)

Tom McCarthy C (Jonathan Cape - Random House)

If you've read any of these and think they should win let us know. The books we own are linked.

Winners will be announced October 12th at a dinner at London's Guildhall. The announcement will be broadcast on BBC News across television, radio and online.

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Black Quill Awards
There are zillions of awards for excellence given for books each year. Many are awarded for a specific genre like mystery or romance, others for best first novel, etc.

The Black Quill Award is in its third year of presentations and was awarded in February. It is given by an online magazine called Dark Scribe. They grab you immediately with their about page which features this ditty about th books they feature:

They make your pulse pound.
They make your heart race.
They make you turn their bloody pages in breathless anticipation.
These are the dark scribes...

and this is their magazine.

This year's Black Quill Awards go to (drum roll please)

Editor's Choice
Image from Jacket Art

Dark Places (missing at our library but we'll remedy that)

Gillian Flynn


Reader's Choice
Image from Jacket Art


Dan Simmons

Be certain to take a look at the past two years of winners as well as the nominees each year. Remember, what we don't own can always be ordered through interlibrary loan.

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This is Dedicated...

Poison Study
Maria V. Snyder
Mira, c.2005

To my husband, Rodney, for all the support he has given,
   is giving and will give. I'm spoiled rotten.

In loving memory of Frances Snyder,
   Jeanette and Joseph Scirrotto.

"They would talk to you and make jokes
while they were feeding you posion."
--Kathy Brandt on chemotherapy;
a good friend who lost the battle.

Poison Study is a first person tale told by Yelena, a young woman sentenced to die by hanging. She is given a reprieve and chance to live in luxury but not without a price. She becomes the food taster for the commander of Ixia who has many enemies. The  imaginative first book in an entertaining trilogy.

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The Tower, The Zoo and The Tortoise ~ Julia Stuart

Simply put, delightful. The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise by Julia Stuart has a lot to offer; history, love, humor, quirky characters and an 181 year-old tortoise named Mrs. Cook. Balthazar Jones, a Beefeater, lives in the Tower of London with his wife Hebe and the Mrs. Cook. Hebe works for the London Underground's Lost Property Office, a story in itself. After the death of their son Milo, they have not been able to rekindle the spark that once flamed their beautiful relationship. Their marriage is faltering and Stuart eloquently describes how the grief of loss can divide a couple. Life in the tower is pretty dreary when Balthazar finds out he is to become the keeper of a menagerie of exotic animals given to the Queen. Penguins, giraffes, and a Komodo dragon, oh my!

Here's where the story truly takes off. The imagery shimmers. This is a book for animal lovers, for people who like a love story with passion and emotion, for those of you needing a tablespoon of humor. I rarely find books that can make me giggle but this one tickled my fancy from the outset. Simply put, delightful!

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Sharp Objects ~ Gillian Flynn

   Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn might have been a good book for a dreary October night. Not because it has ghosts or goblins or that it is Halloweenie but it sure gave me the creeps. 

Camille Preaker is a so-so reporter with lots of baggage for the fourth largest newspaper in Chicago. Her boss Curry sends Camille home to Wind Gap, MO to write the press for the cold case murder of a young girl who was found strangled with all her teeth pulled out. Now another girl is missing. Camille's idea of happy does not embrace going home but she owes Curry and the job is the job. Up to this point the story sounds like any missing person/murder whodunit. But in the hands of Flynn the book takes some sharp, unsettling turns. This is one dark story. There's truly nasty, damaged souls in these pages, people I'm happy not to know. It's a compliment to Flynn that the story disturbed me as much as it did. I won't soon forget the plot, the characters or the outcome. 

Sharp Objects did make squirm but I respect Flynn's writing. One passage I loved and will keep is this: 

Natalie was buried in the family plot, next to a gravestone that already bore her parents' names. I know the wisdom, that no parents should see their child die, that such an event is like nature spun backward. But it's the only way to truly keep your child. Kids grow up, they forge more potent allegiances. They find a spouse or lover. They will not be buried with you. The Keene's, however, will remain the purest form of family. Underground. 


Three stars because I can't say "I really liked" Sharp Objects. I read it to the end even though  my senses were assaulted. I put Flynn's second book, Dark Places, on my TBR list. I need to read what this writer served up the second time around.

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