books I've read

Anne Hawn's books

Who Moved My Cheese?
If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans
Scientific Secrets for Self-Control
Just One Damned Thing After Another
The Vanishing
Exercises in Knitting
The Good Dream
The Very Best of Edgar Allan Poe
The Chosen
BT-Kids' Knits
Talking God
The Professor
The Christmas Files
The Finisher
Home Decor for 18-Inch Dolls: Create 10 Room Settings with Furniture and 15 Outfits with Accessories
Dracula and Other Stories
A New Song
All Quiet on the Western Front
File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents

Anne Hawn Smith's favorite books »

I'm reading 150 Books

Friday, July 21, 2017

Lord Foulgrin's Letters

Lord Foulgrin's LettersLord Foulgrin's Letters by Randy Alcorn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Very good!

It's hard for an author to write in the footprints of C.S. Lewis, but Randy Alcorn has done an excellent job of writing a modern version of The Screwtape Letters.  The story is of a Senior Demon, Lord Foulgrin, who has, as part of his duties, the supervision of a lower level tempter called Squaltaint along with six other tempters.  Squaltaint's subject is Jordan Fletcher, a forty something businessman with a wife, and a teenage daughter and son.  Jordan is restless and bored with his life.  He has all he could desire, an attractive wife, a vacation home larger than any of his friends and plans to buy a boat.  He is the top salesman at work and he has been flirting with an affair with his secretary.  In spite of all that he has, he senses that something is missing.

Squaltaint has been assigned to tempt Jordan into a life that will ultimately lead to his forfeiting his soul to the devil, which seems to be an easy assignment.  There is a good possibility that Jordan and his whole family are sliding effortlessly into hell and never being aware of the spiritual battle for their lives.

It's hard to think about a book like this being entertaining, but the wiles of the devil are amusing when written in the form of letters from one tempter to another.   Readers will find parallels in their own lives however and will wonder why they never thought of some things as temptations.  How many times have we wanted something so desperately that we couldn't get it out of our mind and then, when the money is spent and the deed is done, find that we are not happy and now our lives are filled with guilt and remorse.  The letters between Squaltaint and Lord Foulgrin give a behind the scene look at what is really going on.

The book is based on the passages in the Bible that describe the devil and the constraints he operates under.  The letter format adds insight into how the temptation takes place and the protection that is available to all humans if they will simply listen.  Besides being full of situations which almost everyone deals with, the letters give a tongue and cheek description of the hassles that devils have to put up with and their humorous day to day complaints.

Alcorn, Randy. Lord Foulgrin's Letters (p. 15). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Alcorn, Randy. Lord Foulgrin's Letters (p. 15). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. .  The human, who is the subject of the

View all my reviews

Thursday, July 20, 2017


I left off doing reviews these last 2 years and I miss doing them.  It takes a lot of extra time, but so often, I see the title of a book and I can't remember anything about it, or, I am looking for a book and can't remember the title.  I have read 119 books already this year and I have written a few reviews.  I'm gong to try to go back and review some others and continue to do reviews for the rest of the year.

This year I have done many Goodreads challenges and I am amazed to see how much I have been missing.  PopSugar has made me look outside my comfort zone (Steampunk for example) and I have read a lot of good books that I otherwise would not have read.  I have also cleared 30 books from my "Currently Reading" shelf, many of which have been there for a couple of years.  There are still 65 books on the list, but those are frequently ebooks or audio books from the library that I check out to see if I really want to read them.  If the answer is "yes" I put them in the order I want to read them.

I am also doing a "Dewey Decimal" challenge where I have to read 1 book from each ten categories.  That has made me look out of my comfort zone also.  I have 7 of them done, but I am faltering on a book from the 400s and 500s.  I also haven't chosen one from the 900s, but I plan to read one of the many books I have on Hitler.  I just have to decide whether I want to read one that has 800+ pages (also a PopSugar prompt) or finish Les Miserables for the PopSugar and pick a shorter Hitler book.  I have already read over 500 pages in Les Mis, but I slogged down in the Napolionic War...just like Napolean did!

The main challenge is to read a certain number of books during the year.  I chose to read 150, but I am ahead by 37 books, so I should be reading both a Hitler book and Les Mis. but I also am doing a "Serial Challenge" for what has turned out to be a pretty huge number of books.  In this challenge, the point is to fill in the book in a series that you haven't read and there are some that new books are coming out in and I am behind.  I have to finish 11 series and start and finish 4 new ones.  The 11 I have already started ended up having more books missing than I thought, so it amounted to over 50 books.

While this all seems an enormous number of books, many books can fit more than one category.  All books go into the 100+ category and then I try to put them in at least one more category.  For example, A book from the  Hamish Macbeth series also fits the "a book by an author who uses a pseudonym: Death of a Ghost by M.C. Beaton.  Another book in that series, Death of a Dreamer, fits the "book with an eccentric character" to fit another PopSugar prompt.

All of this has been a lot of fun and in searching for help with some of the PopSugar prompts, I have met a lot of nice people who share my love of reading.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

The Professor

The ProfessorThe Professor by Charlotte Brontë
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have mixed feelings about this book.  It wasn't as good as Jane Eyre .  The characters were not developed as well.  I also had a problem with the numerous long passages in French which I don't speak, and which, were made even harder when listened to on an audiobook.

The book starts out well as we see William Crimsworth, the Professor, long before he is a professor.  He goes to work for his much older, industrialist brother who seems to despise him.  He leaves and makes his way to Brussels where eventually becomes a teacher (which the Flemish call "Professor.)  He starts out fairly well, but then there is intrigue between William, the head of a girls school, and the head of the boys school William works for.  That part seemed very weak to me as the characters of the two women involved seem to change their natures radically without much precipitating reason.

I also felt like the end of the book was problematic.  There was an explanation of what happened to the main character's industrialist brother, but not a resolution.  The book has a secondary theme of industrial reform, as in Dickens, but it is never developed.  There is a "they lived happily ever after" feeling about the book, but it falls flat.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, January 07, 2015


NeverwhereNeverwhere by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gaiman is a master at creating kingdoms.  This is the third of his books I have read and each has a different setting which starts out being something we are familiar with and turns out to be a world within a world.

Inadequate Richard sees a girl named Door beaten and bleeding whose eyes plea for him to help her.  When he responds the only way he thinks a human being ought to, he catapults himself into the world of Under London.  Nothing is normal and what is worse, he can't get back into his world.  He doesn't exist.  The underworld though has plenty enough to keep him occupied.  There are ratspeakers, an angel, a floating market, and a myriad of other creatures.  As he goes on this journey with Door, be becomes a new person.

This is a great fantasy and hopefully there will be more in this setting.

View all my reviews

Monday, January 05, 2015

Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St Mary's, #1)

Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St Mary's, #1)Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was wonderful!  It's a time travel book with lots of new twists.  The setting is St. Mary's Institute of Historical Research.  It is known locally as an eccentric group of quirky scholars who do heaven only knows what.  The institute is shrouded in mystery.  Into this group comes historian Madeline Maxwell, a fiery redhead, mainly known as Max.

What is actually going on is historical research based on time travel.  The scientist take pods back in time to research and solve puzzles and correct inaccuracies. There are limits.  They are only to observe and not to change anything.  They can't bring anything back because doing so could cause untold problems.  Some little, most casual event such as a lonely peasant taking one path versus another might prevent him from meeting another person and that could reverberate down to the Battle of Hastings and on into the present day.

The book, despite it's serious setup, is madcap thanks to the heroine, Max, and her propensity to become involved in any number of catastrophes.  Not one to follow the rules blindly, she manages to get herself into trouble again and again.  There are problems in the Cretaceous Period as well as in the burning of the Great Library of Alexandria.  There is also romance and some mysterious people weaving in and out.  It's just an all around good book and I'm looking forward to what I hope is a long series.

View all my reviews

Saturday, January 03, 2015

The VanishingThe Vanishing by Wendy Webb
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was light and a bit predictable, but I enjoyed it.  A young woman is left stranded after her "Bernie Madoff" husband was exposed and died leaving her with all the mess.  She had no friends, money or a place to live when a man came to her doorstop and asked if she would like a job as companion to his elderly mother, Ameris Sinclair.  Sinclair turns out to be Julia's favorite horror story author who became a recluse in her Scottish castle on the border of Wisconsin and Canada.  She doesn't know what to think but is about to become homeless in a day, so she agrees.

Once she gets to the castle and meets the inhabitants she is enchanted.  Everything is just as the man said, the job won't be onerous and the setting is beautiful.  Julia bears an uncanny resemblance to a beautiful woman who lived 100 years ago and she feels right at home. There is just one problem...a ghost. What follows is a clever twist on the old haunted mansion/ghost theme with a bit of romance thrown in.

View all my reviews

Scientific Secrets for Self-Control

Scientific Secrets for Self-ControlScientific Secrets for Self-Control by DeWall, C. Nathan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was excellent!  Just about everyone knows they have self-control issues, but this series of lectures not only explains why scientifically, but also gives ways to attack the problem based on lab tests.  Just one example gives an idea.  Since the Internet, we can shop all day and night which can be murder on the budget.  It is the purchases at night that often are most problematic.  The explanation is that practicing self control can actually be stressful, so after a long day of practicing it, we are worn out so the decisions about purchases can be made when our supply is depleted. The simple answer is to wait until morning to purchase something!  I can't think of the times when I've gone on a website to see what is new and put a number of things in my shopping cart.  Coming upon it at some later date, I have wondered why in the world I wanted some of those items.

The lectures also deal with how you can build your self-control muscles.  Each time we resist something, we get better about it.  The author advises "Implement Intentions – Takes your mind out of the middle of “Desire vs What you actually do.” You make a one step intention that only tackles one part of the goal. In this example, the author says to never purchase anything at night, but to wait until morning. My first intention was "When I am waiting for my coffee to warm, I will take the dishes out of the drainer." also "When I go from one room to another, I will tidy one thing."  Those decisions are very easy but they help build the habit of self-control.

I agree with some criticism of some that the author's delivery isn't the best, so it only gets 4 stars, but the content is great. I'm glad this is an Audible book that I purchases because I plan to listen to it a lot!

View all my reviews

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Catching up and Goals for 2015

I am so far behind on my reviews and updates to my books.  In 2014 I read 238 books, but that includes some knitting books that don't have a lot of text.  I've started putting them on my lists this year so I upped my goal from 220 to 230.

What to do for next year?  I definitely hope to get to Les Miserables.  I got the book from Audible and I think I am going to set a scheduled amount to read per week.  I'd also like to get a reading buddy for this book.  I always get blogged down in the endless Napoleonic battles.  I am just not a military history buff.

 I want to finish my Hitler books : The Rise and Fall of the Third ReichHitlerAdolf HitlerExplaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil.  I'm sure I still won't be able to understand why Hitler did the horrible things he did, but maybe I can make some sense of it.

I also want to finish I am MalalaSaturday is for Funerals, and any more books I can find that will help me understand the world's trouble spots.

Addie and I are going to do a unit on Judaism from Biblical days to the modern era.  We'll be reading TorahThe Merchant of Venice The Jew of Malta to explore the way Jews have been portrayed through the ages, Surviving HitlerThe Diary of a Young GirlExodus and any others I can find to provide her with the background she needs to understand the Middle East problems.

I want to read at least 75 books that are on my "To Read" list on Jan 1, 2015.  I am so bad about getting new books that sound great or recommended by friends and my list just keeps getting longer and longer.  I also intend to clear all the books on my "Currently Reading."  I have a number of books that have had to go back to the library before I was finished with them.