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

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chosen To Die

Chosen To Die Chosen To Die by Lisa Jackson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Regan Pescoli has been working the "Star Crossed Killer" case and then finds herself a little closer to the action than she would like when the killer shoots out her tires causing her to plunge her car over a gulch. The killer takes her to his lair and, following his usual pattern, nurses her back to health only to plan to take her, naked, out into the frozen Montana winter to leave her to freeze to death. The whole Sheriff's office has been working on the case night and day, but doesn't seem to be making much progress. The murder of a wealthy man in the county provides some clues when it is discovered that he was killed with the same rifle.

I enjoyed this book except for the language. Just once I'd like to read about a sharp and capable woman detective who doesn't adopt all the men's worst habit when she joins them in what was considered a male-only job. Other than that, the plot is complex, but well developed. There's lots of adventure and enough clues for the reader to figure out who the killer is before he is revealed.

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Refining Emma (Candlewood Trilogy, #2)

Refining Emma (Candlewood Trilogy, #2) Refining Emma by Delia Parr

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is the second in this series and it is as good as the first. As I said in the first review, this is an inspirational book about ordinary people struggling to do God's will and act as God would have them act. It isn't about action or mystery. It is similar to the Mitford series or the earlier Miss Read books.

In this book, Emma again strives to bring her will in line with God's will. She tries to be a loving and gracious hostess in Hill House and to meet the needs of the people around her. A romance that began in the first book develops further in this one and there are some unpleasant guests which lend spice to the book. Emma finds it difficult to deal with the cantankerous Burke brother and sister and struggles to find something redeeming in them. She also struggles to keep the secret of her unwise investment in Hill House, which she loves and which is a haven for so many who are dependent on her.

I am inspired by the care she takes of those around her and how she finds a way to love them as God loves them. It is refreshing in this era of "me first." I have to admit I am also inspired by the amount of work she cheerfully does even when exhausted. It reminded me of the description of people, "not afraid of hard work" and caused me to think a lot more about the attitudes of earlier generations towards work in general. After reading hundreds of old family letters, I know that Emma's work is not an exaggeration and I am in awe of their strength to not falter when the work load is heavy.

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A Hearth in Candlewood (Candlewood Trilogy #1)

A Hearth in Candlewood (Candlewood Trilogy #1) A Hearth in Candlewood by Delia Parr

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This delightful book is reminiscent of the Miss Read series and the Mitford books. It is a simple inspiring tale of Widow Emma who runs a Victorian boarding house in the canal town of Candlewood. The story is set in the 1840's and has an interesting collection of visitors and permanent residents who people Emma's life. There is Emma's mother-in-law, who has been with Emma for thirty years, 2 16 year old girls who help about the house, a retired minister and the elderly Aunt Frances. As Emma struggles to make Candlewood a ministry to provide a caring place for guests, she also struggles to bring her own actions in accord with the God she loves.

Some may call this book or the Mitford and Miss Read books to sweet or unearthly, but they detail the daily lives of people who struggle to do the right thing and to hold themselves accountable to God. The struggle Emma has to guard her heart and to treat all the people she encounters with God's love inspires me to do the same. I can't help think how different this book is to the recommendations of modern thinking. We are encouraged to "look out for number one." "if you don't like it, lump it" or "that's just the way I am, baby." It is refreshing to read about people who struggle to do God's will in everything.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Abigail's Story: A Novel (Women of the Bible)

Abigail's Story: A Novel (Women of the Bible) Abigail's Story: A Novel by Ann Burton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ann Burton has taken the few sentences about Abigail in the Bible and turned it into an inspiring story that might have been. We aren't given a lot of details in the Bible, but what facts there are have been skillfully woven into a story which depicts the lives of the people of the era in a way we can all identify.

Abigail is an only daughter who has to offer herself in marriage to an odious and greedy man in order to pay off her wastrel brother's debts to keep him and her elderly parents from being sold off into slavery. She is send off to the hill country the day after her marriage to manage the wild herdsmen in preparation for the annual accounting. When she arrives she finds an almost unlivable cottage with virtually no roof and starving herdsmen whose lives have been made miserable by her greedy husband. As she comes to know these people, her heart goes out to them and she travels back to her husband to obtain food to keep them from starving. At the same time, she meets and befriends the outlaw shepherd, David, who is to become King of Israel.

What I liked most was the way Biblical events came alive in this story. The author doesn't pretend that this is what happened, but it could have happened.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

A Case of Nosy Neighbors: A Morning Shade Mystery

A Case of Nosy Neighbors: A Morning Shade Mystery (Copeland, Lori) A Case of Nosy Neighbors: A Morning Shade Mystery by Lori Copeland

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a delightful read. Stella, the 87 year old heroine, is as unconventional as she can be, but her claim to fame is solving mysteries. She and the local sheriff have to find the peeping toms that are threatening the citizens of Morning Shade. No one can find a trace of the scoundrels and the only description is that they are incredibly ugly.

Stella's daughter suffers a mishap which leaves her with a broken ankle and while she is on the table, the doctor also operates on her wrist badly crippled from carpal tunnel syndrome. Since she is home bound, Stella has to drive herself and companions to their community service jobs and manages to do it in such a way that they spend the whole time in fervent prayer.

Add to that the problems of Stella's unwise granddaughter who seems on the verge of another unfortunate romance with the local kennel owner and you have more than enough laughs and tears to take you away from your everyday concerns. The book is easy to read and very entertaining.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dreaming of the Bones (Kincaid/James #5)

Dreaming of the Bones (Kincaid/James #5) Dreaming of the Bones by Deborah Crombie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is the first of this series that I have read and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I thought the characters well developed and the plot complex, but easy to follow. I also liked the setting and the way the plot moved between the past and present.

The only thing that is a problem is the relationship between Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James. As colleagues, their relationship would have presented a problem and also the way they operated on vacation and in another jurisdiction. However, this is fiction and it doesn't really matter.

Duncan Kincaid has been called by his ex-wife to help with the suspicious death of the poet she was researching. It was declared a suicide, but Vic is not convinced. Kincaid looks into it for her and agrees it is suspicious, but it is not his jurisdiction and he has done all he can by presenting it to the Chief Investigator who has declined to pursue it further on such unsubstantial evidence. Further events convince Kincaid that there probably was foul play and he takes a vacation to pursue it.

Untangling the motives and relationships among the victim's friends and colleagues is a complex process and the more Duncan and Gemma learn, the less clear it becomes. I think the ending is very good and is well integrated into the story. In other words, it is not just pasted on the end as too many mysteries are now. All of the actions of the characters proceed logically from the murder and are well explained. I'll be reading more of her work.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010


David Copperfield David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I am re-reading this as part of my refresher course in Dickens. This has always been on of my favorites, but this time I am paying especial attention to Dickens use of language to create a mood or define a character.

I thoroughly enjoyed this once again. Each time I read it, I catch more things that I missed. There are so many characters in this book that are so clear and well drawn, that it hardly seems possible they really didn't exist. Mr. Micawber is one of my favorites as well as Betsy Trotwood and the world would be a bit better if there were more Agnes' in it.

On the negative side, we have a cast of characters we love to hate beginning and ending with Uriah Heep. He is so despicable that we wonder that he ever fools anyone, but he does. His name is like an adjective for me, describing my feelings about people I have met. One need only compare the person to Heep and any person who has read this book will know exactly what the villein's personality is like.

To me Steerforth is the most interesting character in the book. One of my pet peeves is when writers, especially mystery writers, have a character turn out to be a villain in the last chapter of the book when there was no hint of it in the character's previous behavior. A clear example is the villain in Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. In Steerforth, we find hints being given all through the book as to his true character. In this, he reminds me of many politicians who fall from grace. I distinctly remember when scandals about the then Governor Bill Clinton were being reported during the election. Countless editorials put forth the notion that what he did in private had nothing to do with the way he would conduct himself as president. Four years later our government seemed to come to a screeching halt while those troubles pervaded everything he did. Just about any person who watches the news or reads a paper can give a list of politicians and businessmen who fall from grace. As we read their backgrounds, we find that the disgrace did not come out of nowhere and that there were hints all along. Dickens gives us a Steerforth who is callous, does not admit the rights of others to guide his actions. His early actions show that he lacks a conscience, and the troubled relationship with his mother shows exactly how it has been nurtured.

This is an excellent books and well deserves a reading every decade at least.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Private Disgrace: Lizzie Borden by Daylight

A Private Disgrace: Lizzie Borden by Daylight (Chronicles of Crime) A Private Disgrace: Lizzie Borden by Daylight by Victoria Lincoln

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was an interesting insight on this classic unsolved mystery. The author was from Fall River and contributed some fascinating information on the character of the town and its inhabitants. She also included newly released information from the inquest and I found myself even more convinced as to the perpetrator. I was a little put off by some of the first person opinion and commentary, but it didn't detract from the book.

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