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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 22, 2011
Princess of the Midnight Ball ~ Jessica Day George
****comments by Merand

Princess of the Midnight Ball

A highly admirable fairy-tale retelling. Perhaps not as uniquely original as Ella Enchanted or ethereal and thickly woven as a Robin McKinley book but still very enjoyable. The characters were well done, the story interesting and not overly gruesome (as some fairy tales can be) and the co-main character, Galen the soldier, a different point of view than always looking at things from the tragic princesses point of view. I was feeling indifferent towards the book when I began to read (partly due to the cover - I couldn't help wondering how cheesy of a teenage drama this would be) but I was sucked in instantly and read it in a day, thanks to Hurrican Irene. Very well done and gives me another author to look into some more.

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SEPTEMBER 18, 2011
This is Dedicated...

A Bitter Truth
Charles Todd
HarperCollins, c.2011

For Monty,
who won't be there this time.
And for Moses,
who will.
With hugs and much lovee, as always.

And for Jean, reader, cook, proofreader, friend,
who always does things differently.
with gratitude.

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SEPTEMBER 15, 2011
The Kitchen House ~ Kathleen Grissom
comments by CarolK

The need for a book for our September book group meeting when we couldn't get enough titles of our first selection prompted me to suggest The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom. It had been on my list for awhile. I think the original appeal to me was that it told the story of an indentured white girl working in the kitchen house with slaves on a plantation, a different point of view than usually expressed. Most of the stories I've read in that take place in this time period (late 1700's, early 1800's) usually tell the story from the viewpoint of the negro slaves. Also, it was a debut (I always hone in on these) and it seemed an a good choice as we had read The Help by Stockett last year.

Grissom caught my attention right away with a great opening scene. I'll not spoil this for you, but it haunted me throughout the story and is one I will remember. It's hard to tell just enough here to pique your interest without revealing too much of the plot. Lavinia, the young white girl who ends up in the care of the plantation slaves in the kitchen house, arrives there due to the death of her parents in a crossing by ship from Ireland. Her brother is sold, but Lavinia is too young  and ill for the Captain (owner of the plantation) to abandon. Best he can do is bring her home to work for him.

Dumped on their doorstep, the negro slaves have no choice but to take Lavinia in and do so reluctantly. What to do with this white child? The story is told in alternating chapters and voice of the young Lavinia, and Belle, a favored slave of the master. As you can imagine, there are many story-lines going on, an interesting, large cast of characters, hard to keep track of at first, lots of loose ends, many twists in the plot and so much tragedy that you want to say, enough.

It does make a great book discussion book as there are many themes to explore and debate; family, loyalty, love, race.  Though our group felt it did go a bit over the top we all kept turning the pages, none of us able to put it down. Myself, I liked it very much. Our group wondered if there would be a sequel. I hope not as I have my own ideas where the lives of all the characters go. 

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SEPTEMBER 12, 2011
The Dictionary

Last week my husband and I attended a huge book sale. He’s not as in tune to the whole book scene as much as me, but I left him browsing and hoped he’d stay interested long enough for me to get through the tables of non-fiction at least. Not 5 minutes later he’s behind me, showing me this great book he found to take along on our next hiking adventure. The book that caught his eye? A dictionary, not just any old dictionary , but one of those really truly ones, you know the kind I’m talking about, big, brown and about 3000 pages. And also weighing a ton! Of course he wasn’t serious and we both got a great laugh out of picturing me lugging this up some steep slope along with backpack, water bottle, hiking pole, etc. Sherpa takes on new meaning.
He did decide to purchase a newer dictionary however, one to replace an older copy he keeps in his workspace in our cellar. When I was checking out my treasures, his find was in my pile (so I could pay for it). The very nice man tallying my purchases picked up the dictionary and exclaimed “Does anyone use dictionaries anymore?” What ensued was an interesting conversation regarding the old fashioned book of words, so commonly used for centuries, but having lost favor in our times due to the ease of spell check.
Yes, we do still use dictionaries in our household. The man was interested to hear that I actually have several. It’s not that I can’t spell. Actually, I have even won a spelling bee or two, though that was some time ago. I just feel better having a dictionary on hand, even when typing on my computer. So there’s one by the computer, one in the living room, one in my husband’s workshop, one in his truck and there’s a spare somewhere. I have one at my desk at work and have several others to back that up seeing I work in a library.
I’m certain many of you, like me, have gotten caught short with spell check. The computer cannot correct a spelling that’s correct but used in the wrong context and sometimes is not much help when it has no clue what you’re trying to say.
I’ll keep my dictionary, thank you. It contains a wealth of information; spelling, word meanings, pronunciation, grammar, and lots of other helpful hints to keep my writing on the straight and narrow. All in one cool book!
My decision to write this blog, was really to ask you, our readers, whether you still use an old fashioned dictionary and why? What say you?

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Rules of Civility ~ Amor Towles
****comments by CarolK

It's really hard to put my finger on what made me like Rules of Civility so much. I'm partial to debut novels and their authors so when 4 to 5 star reviews started pouring in on GoodReads for this book, I quickly added it to my list.

The setting of New York, the city would not normally make me clamor to read this book, but the 1938 New York that Rules of Civility depicts captured me right away. I can only believe this is due to Amor Towles ability as a writer. The story seems fairly simple. Two young working girls with limited funds, Katey & Eve, are out for some fun on New Year's Eve when they meet the dapper, rich Tinker Grey. An unlikely friendship forms amongst the three and they find themselves having grand good times together. Two's company, three's a crowd, soon seems evident to Katey, however. From here on in the story belongs to Katey and it's a richly told tale. Wealth, class, friendships, loyalty are all explored with the New York jazz scene playing in the background.

I almost forgot to mention where Towles got his title inspiration...a list of social maxims put together by George Washington in his teenage years, Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation,  Consider the first of the 110 that are reprinted in the appendix and one of my favorites:

"1st Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present."

Good characters and a story that flows easily make this a debut a winner for me. I'll be recommending it to lots of our readers.

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This is Dedicated...
Plugged: A novel
Eoin Colfer
Overlook Press, NY, C.2011

For Ken Bruen who made me do it.

This debut book in the adult market should be interesting to read. The jacket blurp calls it wickedly funny. Colfer has made his name in the teen genre with the Artemis Fowl series.
Do let us know what you think if you read it.

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