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

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Death of an Addict

Death of an Addict (Hamish Macbeth Mystery, Book 15) Death of an Addict by M.C. Beaton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In this book, Hamish Macbeth wanders far afield of the original death of a reformed drug addict. The problem is that Hamish doesn't feel the boy killed himself. With his Highland sensitivity and almost second sight, Hamish feels like there is more to this and it adds up to murder. Solving the case leads him into the arms (sort of) of a beautiful police inspector and on a trip to Amsterdam. The plot twists and turns and even involves a Loch Ness type monster, drug smuggling, and even undercover work. While these plot elements find Hamish outside his normal location, the romantic threads while convoluted are all to predictable.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Death of a Cad (Hamish Macbeth, #2

Death of a Cad (Hamish Macbeth, #2)Death of a Cad by M.C. Beaton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn't like this book as much as the rest of the series. When the cad, Peter Bartlett is murdered, there are plenty of suspects. Just about everyone had a reason to kill this obnoxious man, but that is the least of Hamish' problems. His lady-love, Priscilla Halburton-Smythe, is announcing her engagement to a London playwright and Hamish knows he is not right for her. He knows she is the only woman for him, and she would love to take hold of him and shine him up like a copper penny with more than a pinch of ambition thrown in, but Hamish loves his village life and knows he can't change, not even for Priscilla.

His superintendent always sees him as an inept lazy town constable but Hamish knows the town and is a keen observer of people. It doesn't take him long to size up the people at the Hall and come to some conclusions.

All of these mysteries take place in the Scottich Highlands and are light and charming. Hamish is a wonderful character and the tension between him and the lovely PriscilIa always provide some interesting developments.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Sacrifice

The Sacrifice The Sacrifice by William X. Kienzle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This Father Koestler mystery has all the elements found in most of Kienzle's books...murder, the Catholic Church, Detroit and a Catholic aspect to the crime. Father Koestler is aging just as the author has, but the topics are as current as ever. This one involves a married Anglican priest who wants to become a Roman Catholic priest. Twenty years ago, this might have been facetious, but the Episcopal/Anglican church has so lost her bearings that many of the faithful are looking for a spiritual home that still has the form of the Episcopal church but without the wild and radical changes in the new "anything goes" Episcopal Church.

But, of course, there is a problem with the Roman Catholic church. An Anglican who wants to remain true to the tenets of the church as laid out in the "Thirty-nine Articles" almost has to look elsewhere and that would obviously be the Roman church, but there are very strong feelings about this. Obviously, the church can't expect the candidate to abandon his family, but the church is desperate for priests. If the authorities of the Roman Catholic church are ambivalent, many of the parishioners are not and that is the plot of this book.

There is a time bomb in the Sanctuary of the church set to explode just as the ordination should have started, but the procession is late and only one person is at the altar. The obvious intended victim is the Anglican convert, but there are other possibilities to be considered. The tale weaves round and round until we seem to have 3 different crimes with possibly more than one perpetrator. The books gets somewhat convoluted before it winds on to the conclusion, but is very interesting and satisfying.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Friends Lovers Chocolate

Friends, Lovers, Chocolate (Sunday Philosophy Club, #2) Friends, Lovers, Chocolate by Alexander McCall Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I am always amazed at the interesting questions Alexander McCall Smith brings to his novels. Again, the mystery is not the most important thing about the book. In this one, the strange feelings of a man who has received a donor heart are the mystery. Is there something as a cell memory which is giving him visions he can only suspect are from the donor's life? Isabelle decides to tackle the question and we follow her thorough many false starts and red herrings.

As with the others, the lives of her niece and her former boyfriend Jamie are a core part of the book. Isabelle's feelings for Jamie are very complicated and it is interesting to contemplate how the author is going to resolve them. How much interference in others lives is permissible?

As much as I like these books, I find that I can only read a few at a time. There is so much to absorb and so many ethical questions to contemplate, that I have to grow into them. For people who like action and crime scenes, this series will be way too slow and the questions too cerebral, but I find them fascinating.

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Friday, October 09, 2009

The Sunday Philosophy Club

The Sunday Philosophy Club (Sunday Philosophy Club, #1) The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
As with most of Alexander McCall Smiths books, the plot is only half the story. This series is about Isabelle Dalhousie, an educated middle aged woman living in Edinburgh, Scotland. She reviews magazine articles for a Philosophy of Ethics journal and is a member of the Sunday Philosophy club if and when it meets. We not only get a picture of her comfortable life, but a treatise on the ethical dilemmas of everyday life.

I found the ethical delemmas to be extremely interesting. When I was in college, our Methods of Education teacher took a class to Northern Virginia to visit some of the classes we would be doing our practice teaching in. In the course of the trip all of the students of one particular "Philosoply of Education" class (with a very poor teacher) said that the class was about the most useless class we had ever taken. Our "Methods" teacher told us that this was the most important class we could take. It was the basis on which we would make all of our decisions about the way we taught. He then proceeded to teach all we should have learned in the class we were enrolled in.

I felt like this book was just like that trip. One of the problem of today is that too many people have no philosophy of life. We may say we value our friends, but choose to watch television instead of being with them. We say we value our children, but we are spending less than 2 hours of conversation a week with could go on forever. Many of the things we say we value are in direct conflict with other things we value.

Isabelle's ruminations about what we own the people whose lives cross ours really made me stop and think. She is the last person a man saw when he fell from a balcony at the Opera house. She is haunted by the gaze and wants to find out why he either jumped, fell or was pushed from the balcony. Her applied ethics makes her question what her role in his death should be. That is just one dilemma in the book. I found myself constantly being challenged by her ethics "in fear and trembling."

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Prince and the Pauper

The Prince and the Pauper The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is one of my favorite books of Mark Twain. Tom Canty is a poor boy in the London slums. His birth only brings more poverty to his already dirt poor family. Edward VI is the long awaited heir to the English throne. They are born on the same day and look so alike they can't believe it. They exchange clothes and Edward VI ends up being thrown out of the palace by guards who think he is the poor boy he looks to be. Both boys have difficulty fitting into the other's lives.

Tom comes to like the life at the palace, but misses his freedom and his mother and sisters. Edward leads a hard life on the road and would have died without the help of a minor nobleman named Miles. The bulk of the books is the mad life of the poor boy during which Edward VI learns how many of his subjects live. He resolves to change things if he can get back to the palace and be restored to his rightful place.

The book is full of Twain's wit and biting social commentary. His way with words in outstanding and the Middle English dialect is only distracting at first.

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Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Turning Angel

Turning Angel Turning Angel by Greg Iles

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I read this book on CD on my trip from Virginia to Florida. It kept my interest, but I am increasingly distressed over the portrayal of supposedly intelligent, successful men who are pillars of the community falling hopelessly in love with high school girls who are beautiful, intelligent, amoral and so sexually sophisticated that they make hookers look like librarians. Real people just don't act this way unless they are deeply flawed and that is usually apparent by their lifestyle.

In reality, this is child abuse and honorable men don't engage in it. If, in truth, there is the rare man who has all his marbles and falls in love with a teenager, his love will keep him from taking advantage of her, and will allow her to grow up. There is just the hint of this in the character of Penn Cage, but it is far too subtle. Equally, high school girls who have experienced all that the girls in this book have are not generally the kind of girls that make for long-term relationships. This seems more like a male fantasy.

With that said, the book is still interesting and as a flight of fancy, it will keep the reader guessing how the book can possibly end with anything that makes sense.

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