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.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code: A Historian Reveals What We Really Know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Constantine

Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code: A Historian Reveals What We Really Know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Constantine Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code: A Historian Reveals What We Really Know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Constantine by Bart D. Ehrman


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This audiobook was incredibly interesting. The author is a noted Biblical scholar and he refuted many of the claims made in Dan Brown's book resoundingly. For example, that the Emperor Constantine decided the can of Scripture and that he rejected some 80 other Gospels. The canon was established more than 100 years beyond his time and there were only a few other gospels and they had glaring errors or in some cases were almost nonsense. The whole mystique of "the sacred feminine" is just not proven by any of the historical documents in existence. The book was very well arranged and written respectfully refuting the character's statements in the books rather than attacking Brown. As a work of fiction, the Da Vinci Code was a real page turner, but the actual documents that Brown says exist to prove what he wrote simply don't exist.

The only problem I found with Ehrman is that he does not have any room in his historical facts for faith, and especially a personal faith with a real Jesus Christ. His approach is purely historical, which is fine, but there is more to religion than simply choosing to believe a bit of history and staking your life on it. With that said, I would recommend the book to anyone interested in real scholarship presented in a logical, easy to listen to or read text. The author is clear and concise and easy to follow.

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Miss Julia Strikes Back

Miss Julia Strikes Back (Miss Julia Book 8) Miss Julia Strikes Back by Ann B. Ross


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was a lot like a previous book in the series when Miss Julia meets Mr. Pickens. A jewelry ring of thieves has stolen from Miss Julia, Hazel Marie and a number of Julia's friends. With Sam gone to Russia and Mr. Pickens and Heather Marie gone on a cruise, Miss Julia, Lloyd and Etta May have gone to Florida to search out Mr. Pickens' detective friend, Frank Tuttle, to help them. When Tuttle turns out to be an alcoholic and in need of rescue himself, the trio manage him as well as the thieves in a riotous adventure that defies logic, but is still a lot of fun.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Miss Julia Stands Her Ground

Miss Julia Stands Her Ground (Miss Julia Book 7) Miss Julia Stands Her Ground by Ann B. Ross


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is entertaining, but a the back flash of Christmas is a little confusing. I was listening using an audiobook and I wasn't sure if it had been recorded wrong. Nevertheless, it was entertaining as are all the books in the series.

When Hazel Marie's dastardly uncle comes back, he wrecks havoc with the household. He is bound and determined to prove that little Lloyd is not Wesley Lloyd's son and not heir to the Springer money. No one can figure what he has up his sleeve, but it causes the usual angst and turmoil. While Miss Julia has the help of Sam, she ends up providing the solution to the problem with the help of Lillian's secret.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Ramses Volume II: The Eternal Temple

Ramses Volume II: The Eternal Temple Ramses Volume II: The Eternal Temple by Christian Jacq


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is the second book in the series and deals with the young Ramses II as he becomes Pharaoh and his early reign. This volume is about the early building projects which Ramses started and the various intrigues in the court designed to overthrow Ramses in favor of his older brother.

I found the reasoning behind all the buildings and monuments to be fascinating. The thought was that building the temples and tombs was a way of honoring the gods and protecting Egypt. When Ramses was crowned, his nature was bound with the gods and he became their representative on earth. Building various temples would protect Ramses' Kah or eternal soul/spirit and bring prosperity to Egypt.

The last few chapters deal with Moses and his emerging belief in the one God as opposed to Ramses. Moses is shown as the master builder of Ramses temples and ultimately his new Delta city, Pi Ramses. As he builds, he becomes more grounded in his Hebrew faith and the book ends as Moses heads for the desert.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Everlasting

Everlasting Everlasting by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss


My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I found this book hard to get into. It had all the normal elements of a romance, but they were a little too contrived to hold my attention. The heroine was constantly making incredible and false assumptions and then acting on them in a way that was sure to lead to more confusion and cross purposes. For the first three quarters of the book, almost everything goes wrong between the two main caricatures and in the last fourth, everything goes impossibly right.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"O Jerusalem (Mary Russell, #5

O Jerusalem (Mary Russell, #5) O Jerusalem by Laurie R. King


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I haven't read anything from this series lately and since I have been recently studying the area, I found it to be very interesting. This book takes place in 1918 in Sherlock Holmes' twilight years when he and his young protege, Mary Russell have to leave England because of their previous case. Mycroft is able to arrange for them to help discover a terrorist plot in Jerusalem, keeping them out of the country for a while.

Holmes and Russell are smuggled into the area and meet up with two Arab operatives. As they cover the surrounding territory, there are all sorts of interesting bits of history which are included. The city of Jerusalem is honoring General Allenby who led the liberation of Palestine from the Turks and is expected to make a brief speech. It is interesting to note that the British have liberated the Palestinians from 400 years of oppressive Turkish rule and Allenby and T. E. Lawrence were the heroes of the hour. The Palestinians are grateful to the British and very much want them to stay and protect them from the Turks. Another interesting fact is that there are both Palestinian Arabs and Jews in the area who are living together fairly peaceably. The book is not especially fast paced, but the bits of Arab, Christian and Jewish culture are fascinating.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Modern Scholar - Odyssey Of The West III

The Modern Scholar - Odyssey Of The West III (3) The Medieval World The Modern Scholar - Odyssey Of The West III (3) The Medieval World by Timothy B. Shutt


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I listened to this audiobook thinking it was part III of the earlier series on the Middle Ages and essentially, it covered the same period and added a great deal to my understanding of the Era. Shunt covers the period by examining great books like The Confessions of St. Augustine, The City of God, Beowulf and The Poetic Edda, The Divine Comedy, and others. It included the authors, St. Thomas Aquinas, Marie de France, Chr├ętien de Troyes, and Dante.

I found this lecture to be fascinating and it was very interesting to put these authors into the Medieval lectures of Thomas Madden which I read previously. Dr. Shutt's enthusiasm for the subject is infectious and made the series even more enjoyable.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Seabiscuit

Seabiscuit: An American LegendSeabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thouroughly liked this book. Seabiscuit was the Horatio Alger of racehorses. There was nothing physically to attract notice. He was ungainly and in a way his owner, trainer and jockey were also. He suited the common man during the depression era and when he won it was like all the ordinary people won against all the odds.

The book traces Seabiscuit from his earliest days and is a wonderful rags to riches story. No other horse has won the hearts of so many ordinary people. It is also the story of his owner, his trainer and jockey and how Seabiscuit pulled them up out of obscurity and made them more than they were also. It is a story of obstacles overcome and victory snatched from the jaws of defeat.


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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ramses: The Son of Light

Ramses: The Son of Light  (Volume 1) Ramses: The Son of Light by Christian Jacq


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was an excellent story of the great Pharaoh, Ramses II. While it is clearly fiction, most of the action is consistent with what is known about him. It probably presents him as a more sympathetic ruler than he was, but captures his boldness and shrewd management of Egypt.

The action is told from the point of view of Ramses, his older brother who was passed over in favor of him, and his 4 friends from school, including the Biblical Moses. In this case, however, Moses was not raised in the palace as another Prince of Egypt. The book is in multiple volumes, so there is space enough to get to know the characters and to cover a lot of the known actions of the the Pharaoh.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Miss Julia Paints the Town (Miss Julia, #9)

Miss Julia Paints the Town (Miss Julia, #9)Miss Julia Paints the Town by Ann B. Ross
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is just plain fun. Miss Julia is the perfect spunky little old lady. She knows what is right for her town and she'll move heaven and earth to get it, too! She isn't afraid of anything...well, except for being "unseemly."

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The Modern Scholar: The Medieval World, Part II: Society, Economy, and Culture

The Modern Scholar: The Medieval World, Part II: Society, Economy, and Culture The Modern Scholar: The Medieval World, Part II: Society, Economy, and Culture by Thomas Madden


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This lecture was the second in the series and covered the economic and social history of the Middle Ages, filling in and explaining the gaps in Part 1. I found it to be just as interesting as the first series of lectures and again found the roots of a number of present customs as well as cultural conflicts between nations that are still influencing events today.

This series traces the development of the Christian/Roman Catholic Church during the Middle Ages as there were very few aspects of history which were not intertwined with religion. For some reason, most of the histories I studied in high school and college seem to imply that after the Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity the church was essentially the same as we know today, with the exception of the Protestant Reformation which came near the end of the Middle Ages. It was very interesting to learn how the cannon evolved and how the church and state developed over the approximately 1,000 years called the Middle Ages. I found this series to be as fascinating as the first.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World'sMost Notorious Nazi

Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World'sMost Notorious Nazi Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World'sMost Notorious Nazi by Neal Bascomb


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is the story of the identification and capture of Adolph Eichmann in Argentina. The author first details some of the elements of the capture and then backtracks to help the reader understand the role Eichmann played in brutality of the “Final Solution.” At the end of the war, Eichmann went into hiding and after 2 years, with the help of a division of the Roman Catholic Church, he was spirited out of Germany and given a new identity in Argentina. I had no idea until recently that the Catholic church saw Hitler as a force in protecting Europe from the atheistic communist and, before the true horror of the Nazi crimes were well known, was part of an organized effort to help high ranking Nazi’s escape.

The bulk of the book is about all the minute details that went into the identification of Eichmann and the decision of the Israelis to attempt to capture him. By the time Eichmann was identified, the Germans were attempting to put the war era behind them and they weren’t interested in capturing him and bringing him back to trial, especially since there were a number of high ranking Nazis who were in the present government. (The rest of Europe and the US, also were using Nazis as spies and weren’t interested in trying Eichmann for fear that their names would come out.) The Israelis were not a country when the crimes were committed so they felt that the Argentine government would not turn him over them. The only thing to do was to capture him and spirit him out of the country.

I thought the book was well written and even though the reader knows the outcome, the details are very interesting and create a sense of excitement and suspense. My only objection is that there wasn’t a lot of information about Eichmann himself. It is so hard to understand what makes a person do something so abhorrent and the book would have been better if it had gone into more of his family background.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Crime in the Neighborhood: A Novel

A Crime in the Neighborhood: A NovelA Crime in the Neighborhood: A Novel by Suzanne Berne

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I was disappointed in this book. It seemed more like a slice of life in a time period that seemed to be interesting, but the choices the characters make are unfortunate. I didn't find the characters particularly well developed and at times didn't act in character.

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Friday, April 09, 2010

The Fracture Zone: My Return to the Balkans

The Fracture Zone: My Return to the Balkans The Fracture Zone: My Return to the Balkans by Simon Winchester


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was an excellent book! I wanted to understand the Balkans and the tangled relationships between the peoples of the former Yugoslavia. Winchester does a great job of mixing history with interviews with the various people from each country. This may sound dry and uninteresting, but his combination of foreign correspondent/travel writer gives just the right mix to make the book fascinating.

What really surprised me was the beauty of the area. I had no idea that there are so many areas of every country that are incredible vacation spots. These countries could be more like the French Rivera than a war zone with just a little rationality.

I would recommend that the reader use the internet to look up the maps of the area and photographs of the places mentioned. It puts things into perspective.

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Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Modern Scholar: The Medieval World I: Kingdoms, Empires, and War

The Modern Scholar: The Medieval World I: Kingdoms, Empires, and War The Modern Scholar: The Medieval World I: Kingdoms, Empires, and War by Thomas F. Madden


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
While I had to listen to sections of this book more than once, it was very good. I studied World History in High School and college, but I wish I had had a course like this. Madden is a great teacher and he wove together the events of what we used to call the "dark ages" in a way that made a lot of sense and explained a number of things that I have never been too clear on.

Since this class took in about 1,000 years of history, there was a lot left out, but the series has several courses which cover other aspects. It was interesting to note the pattern of civilization rose and fell. As a people became more cultured and prosperous, they seemed to lose discipline and military strength leaving them open to conquest by a more primitive society. The conquering society them absorbed a great deal from the former and after prospering
followed the same pattern. The course also covered the religious history of Europe, which was essentially the civil history also. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand world events today as many of the present customs and conflicts are based in this early history.

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Friday, April 02, 2010

Columbine

Columbine Columbine by Dave Cullen


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was excellent! So many times I pick up a book about some unimaginable event trying to find out what made a person act in such an unbelievable way. Usually I am disappointed because it is so hard for anyone to get in the head of another person whose mindset is so foreign. Fortunately Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold left journals and videos that opened up their minds.

That isn't the only thing that makes this book so good. Dave Cullen does an excellent job of pulling everything together so that the reader gets a picture of the events as they happened and the years afterward. He laid everything out in a way that made sense of something that goes so far outside anything most of us know. I just wish he was able to tackle Hitler, or Ted Bundy or any of the other events that boggle our minds.

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