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 30,000 pages.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Reader's Block

This was the topic in a group I belong to. What do you do when you hit a slump and the books you're reading just seem uninteresting even though you know that you should enjoy them. You know it isn't the books; the problem is with the! Here is my response to the group. "I guess this is universal! We all hit this occasionally, no matter how much we like to read. I usually get out an old favorite and read it...a "comfort book" that is more like visiting with old friends than a book. Books like 44 Scotland Street , 1st Ladies Detective Agency , Hamish Macbeth , Out of Africa , Cry, the beloved Country, The Moonstone,

 I have 287 of books in the "Comfort Read" category and I enjoy reading them over and over because I always get something new from them."

 One interesting aspect of this malady is that I can come back to the books I was mired in and often find them to be great books; books that even become favorites. It was a revelation to me perfectly good books can be read at the wrong time. In that way, books are a lot like food. Sometimes I find a favorite recipe and I make it over and over again. I can't seem to get enough of it until the day comes when it looses all appeal. Although the food is the same, my taste buds aren't. So I put that food aside and don't cook it anymore....not for a long time, then suddenly, I find the old recipe, or eat it at a covered dish supper and it's wonderful again! I can't think why I have gone for so long without having it.

 My books are the same. I read a certain genre or books by a favorite author or subject and really enjoy them. I continue until one day, I can't get back into the author's latest. I look at recommendations and find other books I should like and they are just blah. I can't seem to get into any of the books. I try television or movies and they leave me cold also. What's wrong? I have to admit that it is me that is wrong. I eventually go to a comfort read and get started again, but until recently, I didn't realize something.

 Once I start reading again, I need to go back to those rejected book and give them another try. Instead of filing them away as books I didn't like, I need to put them in the category called "Try again." It may just be that I will find another treasure when read at the right time.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Tears of the Giraffe (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, #2)

Tears of the Giraffe (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, #2)Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Again we meet Precious Ramotswe as her family begins to expand. Her friendship with Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni has become a trek towards marriage but before that can happen, her household is enlarged to 3 as she takes on the orphans Mr. Matekoni has been talked into rearing. Precious takes them in her stride and they prove to be charming and grateful adding a new dimension to the story.

Her secretary, who graduated with 97% has begun to take on detective duties and the contrast of personalities of all the characters becomes more marked. I feel like these are real people who have very little need to change or manipulate each other. In fact, this inclusiveness is one of the reasons these books feel so good. Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni has immature and almost worthless apprentices at his car repair shop and yet Smith doesn't just make them disappear. Mr. Matekoni struggles with his duties as a role model and teacher and you can feel his dispair at ever teaching them anything, but he continues to care about them and to try.

When I finish reading one of these books, I feel like I used to feel as a child playing with my dolls at the feet of my relatives when we all sat on the big back porch. As they chatted about the things that grown ups talk about, I felt a sense of security and peacefulness. At the end of this book, I felt like I had been visiting with a wise old friend. In fact, I even found some bush tea and now my friend and I sit together and drink tea every Saturday...I just realized that!

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Ebola K: A Terrorism Thriller

Ebola K: A Terrorism ThrillerEbola K: A Terrorism Thriller by Bobby Adair
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At first this book jumped around quite a bit and was hard to follow, but after a few chapters, it settled down. The book centers around the village of Kapchorwa in Uganda where there has been an outbreak of Ebola which has become airborne. Four college students are in the village helping to educate the street kids and to provide medical assistance, when the outbreak happens. At the same time, a group of radicalized young terrorist have been brought together for training and eventually are led to Kapchorwa while it is in the midst of the outbreak. The terrorist plan to take advantage of this plague to wreak vengeance on the developed nations whom they see as oppressing them. This is well written and fast paced. I enjoyed it and can hardly wait until the sequel comes out.

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The Crucible

The CrucibleThe Crucible by Arthur Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've read this before, but it was a very different thing to read it today when I have done genealogy and found I'm a descendant of Elizabeth Proctor and also another woman, Elizabeth Clawson from Stamford, CT also accused in 1792. (There is an interesting book about her called, Escaping Salem: The Other Witch Hunt of 1692. ) I have another ancestor, Hugh Jones, and according to the trial transcript, he was supposedly murdered and came to one of the accusers in a trance and said that Elizabeth Proctor murdered him. With all the new genealogy information, I somehow felt it was much more real than I did when I studied it in school, or read The Crucible in my 40s.

I listened to this book done by an excellent cast and I believe the play made the hysteria even more understandable. The play brings to life the sense of chaos and desperation. It also brings out the political and practical reasons that also caused the situation to get out of hand. It shows how the struggles between Samuel Parris and his congregation led to a polarization within the town. Parris seemed to have no skill at mediation and his action served his own cause as well as those parishioners who followed him.

The play also showed how the situation originally was a tool to get back at many of the villagers but it soon got out of hand. You have a number of people who realized that some people like Rebecca Nurse could not possibly be witches, but if that was true, then the whole pack of cards would tumble to the ground and they would be implicated in the deception.

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