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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
FEBRUARY 10, 2013
Indiscretion by Charles Dubow
***
The Webster's Dictionary sitting by my computer (I know, how old fashioned) defines indiscretion
n. act of being indiscreet; an error of judgment. Charles Dubow's book is titled well!

Any exploration of a marriage in writing interests me. I'm always curious to see what route an author will take to explain this union of two.

To be true to its title we know from the outset that there will be a break of trust for the couple in question. This surprises us as they seem the perfect couple, theirs the perfect marriage. But lurking just a bit in the shadows is the someone that will put this marriage to the test. Walter, the narrator is just as shocked as we when indiscretion visits. Soon, Walter and the reader and even the couple themselves, need to look at the partnership under closer scrutiny and inspect the flaws. Will the foundation crumble or will a touch of love repair the fault?

On first inspection I was just engrossed enough to keep reading but there came a point where tables turned and I was hooked. I loved the way the author begins Indiscretion in Summer and begins this sultry tale with sunblock and bathing suits and the privileged Westhampton shore. Moving on through the seasons, just like those of a marriage, Dubow lays out this union for our inspection.
 
 

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FEBRUARY 26, 2012
The Barbarian Nurseries ~ Hector Tobar
*****
comments by Merand

Barbarian Nurseries

From the first word, I felt as though I were reading a fairy tale. Granted, not an anesthetized children's fairy story, but like a fairy tale of old. A Grimm story to entertain, educate, and warn, where there is darkness and evil and greatness and love, and there just might not be a happy ending (this is not a spoiler, just an example) . The language is lyrical and the location is the magical land of California. For me, perhaps due to my lifetime in New England, California seems a place of mythic proportions. Tales of this land draw me as it did those who struck out for gold or later for the orange-filled, prosperous land that offered hope to those fleeing a dust-filled world.

But this isn't a bygone era, this is California present, with all of its foibles and traumas and triumphs. It's a story that encompasses the current news - the realty crisis, economic troubles, and immigration. I read of these things in the news and they might touch on my own life in miniscule ways but they still seem remote from my world and yet this book brings it all crashing to my door.

Tobar's writing is magnificent. Filled with description and imagery and emotion. He holds nothing back yet spares us from gruesomeness or excess in the language. A story of a family who's believed the lie of society that more is better and now finds themselves unable to maintain their lifestyle and the young woman who works in their home as a maid. We are confronted both with a wish that we might live such a life as the Torres-Thompsons while also denouncing them for their casual use of another. I could never condone being a live-in maid for $250 a week and yet, if given the chance, wouldn't I want to enjoy the other aspects of their life?

Tobar does an excellent job of fleshing out his characters. Showing what is driving them and how one small act snowballs into a course of life-changes. These early chapters of the book help us to not criticize too severely the actions of any character, for if we are honest we can see exactly how they arrived there and how we might have fallen into the same trap.

I found myself skimming rather often through the middle of the story for although the language was beautiful I found myself unwilling to take the time to appreciation the descriptions, to enter into the emotions of a character, in order to regain the thread of the action. It's a testimony to the excellence of the story that I really needed to know what was going to happen! Altogether an excellent book, full of current day events that made me think about the people who live out these dramas, and hopefully provide a caution to never think that I might not fall into the same mistakes if given the chance.

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FEBRUARY 17, 2012
Defending Jacob ~ William Landay
comments by CarolK

Defending Jacob releases today...my thanks to the publisher for allowing me to read it ahead of schedule.

It's going to be hard to talk about Defending Jacob without revealing too much and ruining a great story.

Absolutely read it!

The setting, a small town outside of Boston, two fourteen year old boys attending the same school; one is murdered, the other accused. Jacob, son of ADA, Andrew Barber, is arrested for the crime. The balance of the story examines the age old questions, "To what length do you go to protect your child?" "What will you do for love?", "Is believing your child a parent's duty or just a delusion?" Told in alternating scenes of courtroom and Newton, it is at once a legal thriller and as much an unfolding drama of family life.

Defending Jacob is going to be compared to Rosellen Brown's Before and After and to the novels of Jodi Picoult. If you liked these, then I'd say yes, you'll probably like Defending Jacob. If you didn't, please don't dismiss Landay's book. If Picoult had written Defending Jacob, it would have been told in multi-voice and multi-point of view. Defending Jacob is presented to us entirely by Andrew Barber and it is this that makes it so compelling. Landay fleshes out Barber, and lays him bare, raw and naked for our eyes. Because he and he alone tells the story, Barber is a reliable character when he tells his story but we have no idea how much to believe of what he tells us about Jacob's thoughts or more importantly of his wife, Laurie. The dialog in Barber's head rings true and is heartfelt and gut wrenching at times. There was one point in the book where I cried, the description of what the mother was feeling was so bleak, though Jacob was alive, it was like watching his death take place.

Nature or Nurture? A Murder Gene? Can a marriage survive this tragedy? a couple of more questions to ponder. Easily, Defending Jacob is a book to think about, talk about; perfect for book groups. Absolutely read it!

This is not Landay's first book. He has two other award winning novels under his belt, Mission Flats and The Strangler. I absolutely will read these.

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JANUARY 27, 2012
Emperor of all Maladies: A Biogrpahy of Cancer ~ Siddhartha Mukherjee
*****CarolK


I’m debating whether I should forgo the star system on my reviews. My stars make more sense when you align them with genre or category than title perhaps.
 
Take a book like The Emperor of Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee. How do the 5 stars I’m going to rate this book stand along side a butcher thriller that I’ve rated this highly too?
 
This was a book group book and I worried that some would find the topic overally depressing to read or that others, cancer survivors themselves, might be emotionally upset. I was right and yet, I was wrong too. Yes, some of our group just couldn’t read it, but most did, and found it fascinating and informative. None felt it would have made any difference when they were going through their own illness but thought it might have helped if they had read it cancer free. It also would be useful for family members.
 
Considering there are few of us who will not either have some form of cancer ourselves, or have a love one in need of treatment, this is a book for to equip you with knowledge. Dr. Mukherjee presents a well researched book, though not easy to read, one in layman’s terms and simple to understand. He begins at the beginning, giving us a timeline over many centuries, of what cancer is, isn’t, what we know, what we don’t, treatment tried, treatment failed, treatment success; taking us on a journey in the war against cancer.
 
Our group learned much, shed a few tears, ate chocolate and marmite (one concoction used for cure long ago), and laughed as all living people must. In the end we felt hopeful that with dedicated doctors, committed researchers, and palliative treatment, we can live longer and better, if not cured, at least, living with cancer.
 
Dr. Mukherjee won a Pulitzer Prize in general non-fiction for his effort. I highly recommend this book for someone needing to understand the structure of this disease, and for persons interested in science and medicine.

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JANUARY 26, 2012
The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish For Our Daughters ~ Jeffrey Zaslow
The Wedding Dress! Three simple words packed with such feeling, mystique and expectation.
 
Many of us, the female persuasion, have thought about our wedding days from the time we were little girls. Though The Dress was not high on my list, I can appreciate its significance in the wedding plans.
 
In a series of essays, Zaslow, the father of three girls, brings to life reflections on love, using the backdrop of Becker’s Bridal in Fowler, Michigan. He describes Fowler as a town with 1,100 residents and 2500 wedding dresses. Here, brides to be, their mothers, sisters, attendants and other loved ones come to find the perfect dress, the one that will make their day special. But Zaslow wants to capture more than just the gown, he wants to understand the women, their hopes, their dreams, their fears, their thoughts on the institution of marriage; not only for his readers, but for the role he may someday play as father of the bride.
 
Zaslow succeeds. I absolutely loved Jeffrey Zaslow’s The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish For Our Daughters. Not only was it interesting to read about this family business established in 1934, handed down through the generations, but also to hear the stories of the brides.
 
Becker’s seems a special place with its long-standing history, caring staff and Magic Room. A fairytale of a book and yet one where not all dreams come true, as Zaslow explores the realities of the women who enter Becker’s doors.

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JANUARY 21, 2012
The Odds ~ Stewart O'Nan
****
comments by CarolK

The Odds
No other author packs so much into so few words. O’Nan’s
stories are always sparse, but taut, filled with
undercurrents of thought and feelings.
What on the surface seems a simple story, a marriage on the
skids, with dissolution looming, is so much more. In a last
ditch attempt to spin the wheel, role the dice and possibly
beat the odds, Art and Marion Fowler liquidate their assets,
book a room at a plush casino in the most romantic place on
earth, Niagara Falls, and hold their breath. Here, they’d
go for broke, possibly spending their last days as man and
wife.
The Odds with its many themes to explore; love, friendship,
commitment, hope, trust, betrayal, forgiveness, has all it
takes for a good book group discussion.
What are the odds? That is that Stewart O’Nan could write
another winner. If I had taken the bet, I’d be all the
richer.

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JANUARY 12, 2012
The Coffee Trader ~ David Liss

Sometimes I'm wrong about a book though I hate to admit it. I was almost 100 pages into The Coffee Trader and moaning that I wasn't enjoying the read but had to finish it as it was a book group choice. I knuckled down finally and was pleasantly surprised when very quickly the story just popped off the pages. When all was said and done I thoroughly relished the book, even going back to re-read parts of the beginning.

I honestly think what threw me is that The Coffee Trader is about commodity trading. This concept muddles my mind. Don't ask me how the stock exchange works cause it blows my mind. The Coffee Trader takes place in an exchange, albeit in mid-1600's in Amsterdam, and its coffee, not cash, but trading none-the-less.

The main character, Miquel is seeking to make his fortune in a scheme to corner the market on this new wondrous product of coffee. He enters into partnership with a mysterious woman, Geertruid and tries to keep the venture secret from his brother, Daniel and the villain of the story, Solomon Parido, a wealthy member of the Amsterdam Jewish community and the Ma Maad, The Portuguese Jewish community plays a large role in the whole and brings about happenings that would otherwise not be if not for the religion and culture. Though there are other vivid characters, none appealed to as much as Joachim Waagenaar, a gentile and Dutchman who loses all, his money, standing, face, in a deal with Miquel.

There are twists and turns in abundance and the outcome tickled me except for one aspect.

I enjoyed reading the author's note that explains his use of coffee vs. tulips or art to set the tone of trading in Dutch commerce of the mid 1600's. Also, I love this quote by character Miquel:

"He loved the money that came with success, but loved the power more".

How true of many powerful persons.

I'm so glad our group chose The Coffee Trader for this month's discussion and I'm really glad I stuck with it. A solid historical read. Now it's time for a cup of coffee.

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JANUARY 3, 2012
1222 ~ Anne Holt

***

comments by CarolK

The premise of 1222 interested me from the start. I wish I knew where I heard about this book. I thought the main character, Hanne Wilhelmsen, an ex-police woman, paralyzed by a bullet, living a bland life in her wheelchair, sounded intriguing. I didn't realize at the outset that it was the eighth in a series from Norwegian author Anne Holt but the first to be translated into English. It can easily be read as a stand-alone but you probably will want to know more about that bullet and some other things about Hanne's personal life.

1222 is also billed as a locked room mystery of which I am a great fan. I think it qualifies as such in a looser sense than some I've read. The story starts quickly with a the derailment of the Oslo-Bergen train, caused by a patch of ice outside of one of many tunnels. The science of this is nicely explained though I'm still not certain I quite understand it. Fortunately for the passengers, only the driver is killed. Also fortunate for all is that the accident happens close to the Finse Station and an excellent hotel where the remaining passengers, including Hanne are offloaded for shelter. Good fortune runs out and the killing begins! As all are "locked in" by a raging snowstorm with no chance for rescue until it abates, you've got all the suspects and through Hanne's eyes must decide the who, what, and why.

I really liked the character Hanne Wilhelmsen and some of the other players in this mystery. The best of these are 15 year old Adrian described as "a petty criminal, a little shit" and a height challenged doctor named Magnus Streng who originally treats Hanna's gory injury in the train wreck. I think the story could have moved more quickly after it's" hit the ground running start" but I hung in there. I was not completely satisfied with the ending as I couldn't have predicted the killer from the clues. I loved that the title is taken from the location of the Finse Station, 1222 meters above sea level. I also really liked the use of The Beaufort Scale for Wind, beginning with 0 for Calm and ending with12 for Hurricane, as chapter headings with the promise of the increasing speed of impending disaster. Very clever.

All in all a pleasant read with great descriptions of the cold, bleak locale and some interesting introspection by the main character. The first in the Hanne Wilhelmsen series, Blind Goddess, comes to our shores June 2012. I just might pick this up.

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JANUARY 3, 2012
Jacob T. Marley ~ R. William Bennett

****

comments by CarolK


Jacob T. Marley is the type of book I suspect you’ll either really like or throw across the room. It’s a toss-up. Loyalists to Dickens may be put off by this tale of the two partners Jacob T. Marley and Ebenezer Scrooge.

I absolutely loved Bennett’s look back at just what made Scrooge the man he was. He fills in the gap giving us the back story of Marley and how the lives of these two men connected. So if you ever wondered just how Marley came to be the bearer of the message that Scrooge would be visited by three spirits, Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come, before Christmas Eve was over, read this book. I found it delightful and the perfect book for the holiday season.

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JANUARY 3, 2012
Buddha in the Attic ~ Julie Otsuka
****
comments by CarolK

Julie Otsuka could be called a woman of few words. The Buddha in the Attic comes in at under 150 pages but she can convey more in this tightly written novel than others could in a tome.

Buddha in the Attic left me breathless. From the outset when we first meet these Japanese women, some not even in their teens, leaving their homes and families, sailing away on a ship to a foreign land, clutching pictures of their husbands to be, we know this is going to be a special book. These are the Picture Brides. These are the women Otsuka offers us, culling their stories from journals and interviews, giving them a collective voice as they come to San Francisco in the early 1900's. Not one woman, but all these women are laid before our eyes in eight, spare chapters, each revealing their journey from young innocent girls, to bride, to wife, to mother. Their initial excitement at coming to America is soon dampened by the harsh reality of their new home and the life they will lead. Hard labor in the fruit fields, maids in the rich households of others, prostitution, the women do whatever to survive though this is not guaranteed. From their meager homes, to their communal baths, for these mostly obedient women, time rushes them towards their fate as interment order 9066 approaches. We share in their bewilderment and confusion and want to yank them from what they must accept.

The imagery in Buddha in the Attic is stunning. It reminds me a bit of Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried. This is one of my favorite books of 2011. I feel like I'm not doing Budda in the Attic justice!

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JANUARY 3, 2012
The Sisters Brothers ~ Patrick Dewitt
****
comments cy CarolK

Howdy pardner, pick up this book and ride! Kidding aside, The Sisters Brothers deserve all the praise it has been receiving. The Sisters Brothers is billed as paying homage to the classic western. I’m not much of a western buff, so I wouldn’t know much about that, but it is a tale set in the old west, so I suppose that’s correct. I just know I liked it. I liked it a lot. I particularly liked the characters, not only the brothers of the title, but the bit players. I liked the story, lyrical in some ways, and yet gritty enough for those looking for a shoot em’ up read. It’s funny, even poignant at times. There’s even a love story for us romantics. I like that DeWitt tells the story using the younger Sisters brother, Eli as the narrator. Eli is the less violent of the two and I think this makes for a more interesting viewpoint.

Eli and Charlie Sisters are hired killers and work for a man named The Commodore. Their mission this time out is to find and kill a man named Hermann Kermit Warm. Now isn't that a great name? Eli's not even certain why but if his brother Charlie is in, then he’s right there with him. Loyal to the end. They set out from Oregon City to find Warm who is prospecting in Sacramento. Suffice it to say they have many adventures on the way.

And did I say I really liked the cover. IMHO it is one of the best of 2011!

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DECEMBER 14, 2011
The Bounty ~ Caroline Alexander
****comments by CarolK

The Bounty ~ Caroline Alexander
My husband and I decided to listen to Caroline Alexander’s The Bounty after listening to Bligh’s daily log account of the infamous Mutiny on The H.M.S. Bounty. We were hoping to clear up some questions we had regarding Bligh and his character. If you’ve ever watched any of the movies that depict the mutiny, you can’t help but come away with a bad taste in your mouth for Bligh. He is portrayed as the villain and Fletcher Christian appears to be justified in his rebellion.
 
Alexander’s book goes into great detail about the mutiny, and the court-martial of the ten mutineers who were captured in Tahiti and brought to justice in England. Bligh, in our opinion is vindicated and seems to be the victim of Hollywood and most importantly, Fletcher Christian. We both came away feeling that Bligh had his faults, that he was a disciplinarian and cut no slack to his crew. This seems just in his role as the man who is responsible for the survival of all.
 
William Bligh and the mutiny took place in the 1700’s so none of us were there to see it with our own eyes. We can only base our opinions on what has been recorded, researched and written about by authors and scholars. We both ended up wishing we could hear Christian’s version of the events. We are certain he would have to paint a picture to discredit Bligh but at least, we would hear it from the horse’s mouth.
 
Bligh continues in his career and is appointed Rear Admiral in July, 1811. Not bad for a man who was scorned by many.
 
There is much speculation on both men’s lives and their fateful encounter. If you have any interest in the subject, Alexander’s book is a good bet.

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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

Excellent! 
   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
****CarolK
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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OCTOBER 25, 2011
What Inspired the Lyrics?
Do you ever wonder what inspired a song?

A few weekends ago I was poking around a small flea market. As it was small, I was able to really dig into one vendors offerings of Cd’s. I hit pay dirt with some compilations put out by Reader's Digest. I have several Reader's Digest offerings on old 33 1/3 rpm but hadn't even thought about replacing any with Cd’s until recent years.

I ended up buying several but the one I'm enjoying the most is The Late 50's: The Top 10 Collection. 3 of the 4 Cd’s feature the top10 ten hits starting in 1955 and working to 1959. The last spotlights, The Top 10 Guys, Girls and Golden Groups. For me it is a trip down nostalgia lane and is a great collection to listen to while doing something boring, like vacuuming.

I believe all songs have a story of their own to tell. The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane sung by The Ames Brothers in this set sparked my curiosity. If you've never heard it you can find it on Youtube and many other places on the web including my favorite music resource All Music. It's an upbeat harmony tune that suggests that the Naughty Lady is an attractive woman driving all the men of the town crazy with her flirtatious ways. The ending line reveals that “she's only nine days old.”. This has always given me a laugh. Listening to this oldie but goodie this time round, I couldn't help but wonder what inspired the lyrics.

A Wikipedia entry states Sid Tepper and Roy C. Bennett are the authors. They often collaborated together and had several hit including some for Elvis. Wikipedia states “between 1945 and 1970” Tepper and Bennett published over 300 songs. Whew. That's a lot of music.

I know that Naughty Lady was covered by The Ames Brothers, Dean Martin and others. I like the rendition by The Ames Brothers. They're easy to track down. One site

http://edames.net/ames_brothers.html

gives a good bio of the four, actually brothers, which according to the site is, "a rarity in the entertainment business". Though there's lots of great information about the quartet there's nothing about the words.

Librarian that I am, I did a further search on Sid and Roy and found some articles but nothing with a clue to answer my question. So if you know anything about this, please let me know.

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OCTOBER 23, 2011
This is Dedicated...

The School of NIght

Louis Bayard
Henry Holt & Company, c2010

For Mark H.

Now quit bugging me

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OCTOBER 20, 2011
Night Strangers ~ Chris Bohjalian
****comments by Carol K

Someone suggested to me that Chris Bohjalian's Night Strangers is a mystery, No, no, no, my pretty. It is horror, it is psychological terror, it is evil, it is creepy, it is raw and it is the perfect book to read as Halloween approaches. I'm not afraid, after all, I keep telling myself, this is only a book. So why are my nerves so taught. I'm as tense as a wound spring and I find myself gripping the book for dear life.

Bohjalian is a masterful storyteller, one who makes his characters so real, you'll feel like they are you friends, but believe me, in this case, you'll be glad that most of them are not. Some readers state the book begins slowly. It might, but I was hooked as soon as I read the prologue. I can see the comparisons that some are making to Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Ira Levin and if you're a fan of any of these, I think you'd enjoy Night Strangers. It's the best of this genre I've read in a long time.

Some are saying Night Strangers is unlike any of Bohjalian's other books. I don't agree. I see all of what attracted me in his other book. A well thought out, thoroughly researched, believable story, with psychological undertones, vivid descriptions of both characters and location and even twins which seem to show up frequently in his works and always are intriguing.

A brief summation of the plot, better explained by reviewers than I can, but here goes...

Respected Pilot Chip Linton's plane is the victim of geese and he has to ditch in Lake Champlain. Over in over in his mind he sees a successful resolution to his plight as he pictures the miraculous survival of passengers of the ill fated flight rescued by Chelsey Sullenberg whose plane met a similar fate on the Hudson in January of 2009. Not to be. A giant wave from one of the rescue ferries swamps Chip's landing and 39 of his passengers die. Suffering PTSD, Chip, his wife and twin daughters relocate from Pennsylvania to upper state New Hampshire to Bethel, a small community where they hope for a chance to shrug off the past of the ill fated crash and go on with their lives. Not to be. Let's just say there's some strange happenings going on here. I love the way Bohjalian conjures up a tale blending the use of herbs, both medicinal and as potions, the greenhouses where they grow,  the folklore of witches and covens in New England, damaged souls, the forces of good and evil to create a superior story that leaves us breathless.

I'd rather not tell you much more. Just read it. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

A side note: I'd really like to thank Norm Hyer for adopting Chris Bohjalian in our library. Norm's generosity, like others who have adopted an author, increases what we can offer for the enjoyment of all of our readers.

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OCTOBER 17, 2011
The Missing Person's Guide to Love ~ Susanna Jones
***
comments by CarolK

What an absolute quirky little book! I wish I could recall where or where I picked this paperback up. I discovered it on my bookshelves when looking for a book to jam in my pocket for a recent vaation. The cover though not striking in itself, somehow drew me in. I loved the title and liked that it was about a missing girl, 15 year old Julia, who vanishes without a trace. Her childhood friend Isabel has never given up hope of finding out just what happened to Julia. Many years go by and Isabel returns home for the funeral of another school chum, Owe. Isabel is determined to find the answer to Julia's disappearance once and for all.

The story is mostly told from Isabel's pov and can be hard to follow as time shifts from present to past and back yet again. Perhaps it was not the best book for a vacation where my concentration was distracted. I found myself lost at time and re-reading passages more than once.

All in all The Missing Person's Guide to Love was satisfying enough and it took me quite some time to figure out the what, as in "what is going on".

The cover has a promotion from Elle stating "Exquisitely written yet utterly chilling, this will keep you gripped from start to finish; a potential book-group classic". I'm not certain I quite agree but certainly, see for yourself.

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OCTOBER 16, 2011
This is Dedicated...
I'll Walk Alone
Mary Higgins Clark
Simon & Schuster, c.2011


In memory of Reverend Joseph A. Kelly, S.J.
1931-2008

Always a twinkle in this Jesuit's eye
Always a smile on his handsome face
Always faith and compassion overflowing his soul
He was the stuff of which saints are made
When all heaven protested his absence
His Creator called him home

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