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
Christy
All Quiet on the Western Front
File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents


Anne Hawn Smith's favorite books »

I'm reading 30,000 pages.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

High_Country

High Country (Anna Pigeon Mysteries, #12) High Country by Nevada Barr


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This mystery takes place in Yosemite National Park. Anna has been sent to work undercover to discover what has happened to 4 young people who have disappeared and are presumed dead. She gets a job as a waitress in the historic Ahwahnee Hotel where she meets with many rich and colorful people. While the park search and rescue unit has been searching for the young people, Anna is looking for a common link between the deaths.

When she begins to figure out what has happened, she goes to the parks chief ranger, who has his own problems and does not give her any support. Investigating on her own, she finds herself alone at night in the freezing cold, being tracked by some very unpleasant people who want something she has. The problem is that Anna doesn't know what it is.

This mystery isn't Nevada Barr's best. I found it hard to get interested in most of the characters. The relationship between Anna and the park superintendent is probably the weakest and is never really developed. The climax of the book does not provide the solution of the mystery which is left to a shaky addendum which, while drawing the book to a conclusion, doesn't really satisfy.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Flashback

Flashback (Anna Pigeon Mysteries, #11) Flashback by Nevada Barr


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Anna Pigeon has been sent to Ft. Jefferson to temporarily replace the supervisory ranger on remote Garden Key in Dry Tortugas National Park. She is also running from a proposal of marriage from the Sheriff/Minister back on in Mississippi and this will give her some badly needed breathing space. The fort is a bleak and lonely post about 70 miles from Key West. The group of islands are just barely above sea level and are almost deserted. There is, however, Ft. Jefferson, a Civil War fort which houses the National Park operations.

To help her pass the time, her sister has sent her some letters from their Great Great Aunt who was living at the fort when it was a military outpost during the Civil War. Her aunt was living there with her difficult husband who was the Commandant of the fort during the time the Civil War prisoners were occupying it. The arrival of Dr. Mudd and Samuel Arnold, convicted of acting in the plot to assassinate President Lincoln, sets in motion the turmoil to which the letters relate.

The book switches between the past and present which is a new device for Nevada Barr. Each chapter seems to end on a cliff hanger, so you are always being tempted to read much longer than you should just to get back to the opposite century. All in all, this was very good. The mystery was tight and also gave much information on an area of the country most people don't even know exists.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Vengeful Longing

A Vengeful Longing (Porfiry Petrovich, #2) A Vengeful Longing by R.N. Morris


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the second book I have read by this author and I had the same mixed feelings about the books. They mystery is great and the Magistrate Porfiry Petrovich is wonderful. He is something of a Colombo character and I really like him. The problem with the books is not really the fault of the author. It is the naming system the Russians use. Each character is called by about three different names and it is very confusing. This is especially so when you are using an audiobook, which I was. With a book, you can go back a chapter and see who the character is, but it is impossible with an audiobook. I found my self going back over parts trying to relate the action with the correct character.

That being said, I truly enjoyed the mystery and the personalities of the main characters. I also enjoyed the glimpse into Russian history and the Russian nature. I certainly will read more by the author, but I will allow extra time to go back and sort out the characters. Since I am always doing something else while I am listening, this is not really an inconvenience since I can just listen to the chapter again until I get them straight in my head.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Helen Hath No Fury

Helen Hath No Fury Helen Hath No Fury by Gillian Roberts


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was the second book from this author that I have read, and I really enjoyed it. I find Amanda Pepper a believable protagonist and most of the people in the book are not two dimensional. A woman is murdered in Amanda's book group and it turns out that the group didn't know her at all. The hurt and confusion comes when they find out that she has taken her own life and none of them saw it coming. As a group, they begin to dissect what they know of Helen and try to find out how they, her friends, could have known so little of what was going on in her life to bring her to such an action.

I found the scenario to be totally realistic. The day before Helen's suicide, she had been adamant that the character in the book they were reading was weak and a coward for committing suicide. How could they then comprehend that she was to commit suicide the next day? How could they, as friends, not see through her actions and help her? It is the most natural thing in the world for them to try to learn more about her life and how they misjudged her. I am liking this series more and more.


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Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, #1)

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, #1) Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris


My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I picked this book because it could be downloaded from my library and it seemed like it had potential. I should have known after the first chapter it wasn't going to work for me. Sookie is a contradictory protagonist and there is a lot of the book that just doesn't make sense. I'm not crazy about vampires, except for the original Dracula, so I should have known better. The book needed a lot more editing and some attention needed to be paid to setting the stage for behaviors of some of the characters, especially Sam. The characters were all two dimensional and didn't ring true. I won't be reading any more.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

44 Scotland Street

44 Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street, #1) 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I have read this book before but enjoyed again the rich characters in it. Each of the people exists in a rooming house passing each other in the hall and yet not really knowing about each other's lives. My favorite character is the little boy prodigy, Bertie, or at least his mother thinks so. He is 5 and playing the saxophone and learning to read and speak Italian. His overly involved mother has painted his bedroom pink so he will not be bound by the cultural stereotypes and would rather see him play with dolls instead of the trains he so loves. There is something wonderfully satisfying about the way this thread plays out.

Then there is the main character, Pat, who is taking her second gap year and finds herself in a flat with the narcissistic Bruce whom I wanted to strangle on most every page. She gets a job at an art gallery working for the dilettante, Matthew, who has never had to make a living, which is a good thing, since he has failed at everything he ever did. His father seems to think nothing of bailing him out and letting him start over. The main action centers around a painting in the gallery which they think may be by Samuel Peploe, but that part of the plot is just a device to hang all these wonderful character sketches on.

As with all of Alexander McCall Smith's books, there is more about how the characters think and feel than a plot. This is a gentle philosophical and thoroughly entertaining book and I will read anything he has written. I am so in love with his characters. I think he has a lot in common with Charles Dickens and will be surprised if some of his characters begin to have a life of their own outside of his books.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Death of a Travelling Man

Death of a Travelling Man (Hamish Macbeth Mystery, Book 9) Death of a Travelling Man by M.C. Beaton


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Poor Hamish. An unsavory pair of "travelers" park their caravan in the village and proceed to wreck havoc. They are considering themselves gypsies and are hiding behind the laws meant to protect a way of life for a group of people whose heritage is to travel. That is not what these two are though. They are "hippies" of the worst sort and the life of the village is turned on its heels when they show up. They get the villagers on their side in the beginning, but soon things start to sour and inevitably there comes a body. Hamish is on the spot, but struggles, not only with Supt. Blair, but also with he obsessive compulsive PC who cleans everything that either moves or doesn't move. Hamish, regretfully, allowed himself to take credit for solving the last murder and thus was promoted landing him with an assistant who is threatening to drive him insane. In the end, Hamish manages to solve the murder and change his living arrangements suitably but not without some really rough patches.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Adam and Evil: An Amanda Pepper Mystery

Adam and Evil: An Amanda Pepper Mystery (Anthony Awardwinning Series) Adam and Evil: An Amanda Pepper Mystery by Gillian Roberts


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Amanda Pepper is a teacher we can all admire and relate to. She is devoted to her students and when she feels that one of the boys in her class, Adam, is dangerously close to a mental breakdown, she calls in his parents. They do not want to admit that Adam could have a problem and end up getting Amanda in all sorts of trouble with her boot-licking principal. When someone is murdered in the State Library, Adam is the prime suspect. He is on the run and getting less and less in touch with reality. Amanda tries to convince someone that the boy is not only innocent, but in real trouble, but things only become worse.

I really liked this book and the protagonist. I thought she behaved in a logical manner and solved the crime in a way that a real "amateur detective" would. The police don't know the boy and the people who should know him best are too busy with their own selves to look at what is going on with their son. I'll be reading more of this series

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Miss Julia's School of Beauty

Miss Julia's School of Beauty (Miss Julia Book 6) Miss Julia's School of Beauty by Ann B. Ross


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
These Miss Julia books are, I guess, pure fluff, but they are delightful. I can just see prim and proper Miss Julia whose life has been turned upside down when it appears that the wedding at a Heavenly Chapel turns out to possibly have been officiated at by a Minister who wasn't ordained and thus the ceremony amounted to nothing. Is she married or not...oh, the agony. Miss Julia has always tried to do the right thing. Shed doesn't go in for the free wheeling sexual revolution, but finds herself on the wrong side of propriety. The funny situations she gets into by trying to keep the mystery from being known and explaining her new husband's absence are so entertaining. Her well meaning friends end up making the whole mess worse and on top of that, she finds herself helping with a beauty pageant when she never went in for that sort of thing and has a thought or two about the clothing or lack of it that the contestants are to wear. This is Miss Julia at her best and is thoroughly entertaining.

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Crossed Bones

Crossed Bones Crossed Bones by Carolyn Haines


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was very good! The characters are very compelling and even the murder victim seems alive through the eyes of the people around him. Sarah Booth Delaney is a plucky heroine with a true Mississippi flavor. The culture of the South comes through with all the positives and negatives I associate with the Mississippi culture. The addition of Jitty, a clothes horse ghost, gives some real sparkle to the action. Jitty moves the plot along in critical situations and is a real plus to Sarah Booth, even though she doesn't always feel that way.

Why does the widow of black Ivory Keys hire Sarah Booth Delaney to exonerate the white blues suspect and find the real murderer? It would appear that the white Southern detective would be the last person she would get to help her and the accused, the last person she would want to help. But, Ivory Keys' murder wasn't a superficial black/white issue.

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Death of a Hussy

Death of a Hussy (Hamish Macbeth Mystery, Book 5) Death of a Hussy by M.C. Beaton


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Margaret Baird is another of M.C. Beaton's deliciously evil murder victims. She is obnoxious to everyone and almost insures that she will be murdered. She has the usual poor relation ward whom she browbeats in the most obnoxiously patronizing way. Eventually the poor relation tries to break loose with mixed results. Add in a group of ex-lovers who have been invited by Margaret as prospective husbands and you have a perfect mystery for Hamish Macbeth to wade around in.

An unusual additions is that a different Detective Inspector is in charge of the case and Hamish has mixed feelings about him. He seems to be an improvement, but is he? This is a nice quick read and is very satisfying.

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Death of a Dentist

Death of a Dentist (Hamish Macbeth Mystery, Book 13) Death of a Dentist by M.C. Beaton


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In this Hamish Macbeth mystery, he winds up with several mysteries on his hand all seemingly interconnected, but how? A thoroughly unpleasant dentist is murdered, but no one who hated him seems to have been near the place. This book has a particularly quirk bunch of characters.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Bones To Pick

Bones To Pick (Southern Belle Mysteries) Bones To Pick by Carolyn Haines


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is my first by this author, and I really enjoyed it. It's hard to separate my feelings for the Mississippi of my childhood pleasures from the actual book, so my rating may be a combination of nostalgia as well as the quality of the book. I did enjoy the use of the spectral. Jitty as a companion of the main character. I thought it was well done...not too ghostly and all knowing, but enough to add spice to the mystery. I'll be reading more of this author.

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Monday, November 02, 2009

Death of a Macho Man

Death of a Macho Man (Hamish Macbeth Mystery, Book 12) Death of a Macho Man by M.C. Beaton


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I've been listening to this series on audiobooks I downloaded from the St. John's Library and have enjoyed them thoroughly. The reader's accent adds to the scenes created by the author and it saves me trying to figure out how some of the Scottish names are pronounced. It also gives me a better picture of Hamish Macbeth. While I have enjoyed the BBC version of the stories, their Hamish is a far cry from the descriptions in the books.

Macho Man is on par with the rest of M. C. Beaton's book. The characters are well drawn even if their personalities are often extreme. The situation is again misjudged by the incredibly dump Inspector Blair and Hamish, with his deep sense of right and wrong has to solve the mystery and yet not risk being promoted away from his beloved Lockdubh.

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Biggie and the Devil Diet

Biggie and the Devil Diet: A Mystery Biggie and the Devil Diet: A Mystery by Nancy Bell


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I haven't read any of Nancy Bell's books in years and yesterday I longed to hear a little Southern talk. I am downloading audiobooks from the St. John's Co., FL library and get to hear the story with the accented voice of the reader. Certain books are especially good this way and while this book is a lightweight, I love it because the down home dialect reminds me of many summer vacations in Mississippi.

Biggie is the grandmother of J. R., who came to live with her when he was small and has grown up in the series. In this book he is 13. Biggie has a lot of soul searching when she find that there is a ranch outside town for overweight girls and she recognizes the name of the owner. She tells J. R. some old secrets and embroils them in cauldron of emotion which surrounds the camp.

The book is a little slow at first, unless you just plain enjoy a bit of slice of life, deep South style, you may wonder why it was called a mystery. I was too busy enjoying to wonder, but it may bother some. The preliminary actually does set up the mystery, so it isn't wasted. All in all, a pretty good read.

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Death of an Outsider

Death of an Outsider (Hamish Macbeth Mystery, Book 3) Death of an Outsider by M.C. Beaton


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In this early Hamish Macbeth book, he ha been sent to the unpleasant village of Cnothan to take over from their Police Constable. An obnoxious Englishman goes around the village wreaking havoc with his acerbic tongue. He is a champion "know-it-all" and causes strife wherever he goes. Inevitably, there is a murder, disguised in a seemingly clever way. Of course, Inspector Blair is involved and he makes Hamish stay on the outside as he rushes to his conclusions.

You have to wonder if the main plot element could ever happen. You bet I will be thinking about it next time I go to a fancy restaurant! This is a pleasant mystery with the usual cast of quirky characters. The ending is a little bit of a stretch, but good, tying up all of the loose ends.

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