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, January 30, 2011

Defend and Betray (William Monk, #3)

Defend and Betray (William Monk, #3)Defend and Betray by Anne Perry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was a little more obvious that the others I have read. A man is murdered and his wife immediately confesses to his murder and offers no defense. It seems that she is shielding someone, but whom? It appears that it may be her fiesty daughter who has quarreled with him, but she can’t possibly have done it. In fact, the wife is the only one who could have done it, but why? Even in jail, she won’t tell her lawyer anything or help in her defense.

William Monk is brought in to determine what is going on and Oliver Rathbone takes on her case. Hester Latterly can move freely through the house and is best placed to find out what the poor woman is hiding. It doesn’t take long for Hester to find that the General was not what he seemed to be and that something has been very wrong in this household for a very long time.

I really enjoy these characters more than in the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series even though I like them all. Hester is a likeable because she stands in stark contrast to the world she lives in. Her experience in the Crimean War with Florence Nightengale has given her experience and confidence mixed with quite a lot of outspoken brashness. That is what grates on the nerves of William Monk and yet, he values her help in getting vital evidence within the families.

Then there is poor William Monk who was in a terrible carriage crash and woke up not knowing anything about his past. As he tries to gain knowledge through observations he begins to learn that he was not a very admirable person although no one can say that he was not an excellent detective. Snatches of memory come back and he spends part of each book tracking down his clues to his own identity.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Callander Square (Charlotte & Thomas Pitt, #2

Callander Square (Charlotte & Thomas Pitt, #2)Callander Square by Anne Perry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Two infants are found while some digging was done on Callander Square. The coroner can't tell if the infants were dead before they were born or if they were murdered. One thing is for sure, one of them was badly deformed. Thomas is forced to painstakingly interview the upper class inhabitants of Callander Square who unquestionably believe that the babies must have belonged to one or even two different servants. When none of the young maids seems to be likely candidates Pitt is forced to begin the sensitive work of interrogating his betters.

His wife, Charlotte, and her sister Emily are intrigued by the case and begin to work their way through the round of daily calls and gossip to find some of the vital information that Thomas desperately needs.

Again, we are given a wonderful view of Victorian life and the unfortunate position of women during that era. However; we are also privy to the ways women got around the male restrictions in their lives. This is one of the better of Anne Perry's mysteries, however; as one reviewer mentioned, it does end rather abruptly.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Cater Street Hangman (Charlotte & Thomas Pitt, #1

The Cater Street Hangman (Charlotte & Thomas Pitt, #1)The Cater Street Hangman by Anne Perry

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the first Charlotte and Thomas Pitt book and I thought it was excellent. Suddenly, several young girls have been killed with a garrote and all were found on Cater Street. Two were servants and two were young ladies who lived on Cater St. It seems to be the work of a madman, but possibly the madman may not even know he or she is the killer.

The story is told mainly from the point of view of Charlotte and like other of Anne Perry's other main characters, she is spunky, reasonable, bright and often outspoken and aggressive. Young Thomas Pitt is the policeman in charge of the investigation and as the book progresses, we see him admiring Charlotte more and more. Of course, he is not of her class...merely a "tradesman." But the book makes apparent that many of the upper class are selfish, immoral and unfaithful. The character of Thomas is a sharp contrast.

Everyone is becoming increasingly frightened about the murders and the inability of the police to find the culprit. What is most horrible is that the killer must be a person people are familiar with on Cater St. There have been no unknown characters on the street and it is apparent that the killer can walk up and down the street because he belongs there. Families look at each other with suspicion.

I did figure out who was the culprit near the end, but is was a clever, yet reasonable character. I found myself becoming attached to the characters and when one in particular is killed, I had a feeling of personal loss...something that is rare in books of this genre.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sudden, Fearful Death (William Monk Series #4)

A Sudden, Fearful Death (William Monk, #4)A Sudden, Fearful Death by Anne Perry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this fourth of the William Monk series we find Prudence Barrymore, a nurse with Florence Nightingale in the Crimea, murdered in a local hospital. She was talented and even desired to be a doctor. Nurses of that era had reputations little better than prostitutes, but Prudence was skilled enough to work with the city's best surgeon. How did she end up dead then?

William Monk, a private detective, had taken the case and Hester Latterly has agreed to go to work at the hospital and work under cover. This turns out to be a big mistake which ends with Barrister, Oliver Rathbone, fighting for her reputation and maybe even her life.

In this book, we are beginning to see signs of respect for Hester in both Monk and Oliver Rathbone. In fact, it is hard to see anyone Oliver respects and admires more and he shows it, albeit discreetly. Monk is also beginning to change his opinions about women after looking into more of his past.

This book is engaging as far as the mystery goes, but it is even more fascinating as it describes the restrictions on women in the Victorian era and the unfairness of the law. The old cast of characters also includes Oliver Rathbone who must really work to make sure justice is served and the wrong person is not executed.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

The Face of a Stranger (William Monk, #1)

The Face of a Stranger (William Monk, #1)The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Imagine wakeing up in a hospital and not knowing who you are or anything about your life. People come to visit and you have no idea who they are. William Monk wakes up in the hospital to find that his body is healing, but his mind is blank. From the Superintendent who comes to visit, he learns that he is a detective and that his cases are being handled, but Monk has no memory of the cases. He does know that he wants his job desperately and he can't let anyone know he can't remember anything.

Back at work, he is given the case of a Crimean War hero who has been beaten to death in an apartment. It becomes apparent that no one entered the building who can't be accounted for and that the culprit must be an acquaintence or family member.

Hester Latterly was a nurse with Florence Nightengale and has come to nurse an elderly gentleman in the household of the slain soldier. Her views on women's rights and her brash opinions set Monks teeth on edge, but he finds her assessment of the family invaluable in determining the family dynamics.

As Monk continues to investigate, he finds that, while he was a brilliant detective, his brusk manner and arrogance have left him with no friends and the enmity of Supt. Runcorn, his senior officer. He also finds out that he does have a sister, but he has been quite insensitive there also. His only help comes in the form of an assistant whom he has never worked with before, but in whom he sees great promise.

This is one of Anne Perry's best books. The whole premise of an amnesiac detective has wonderful possibilities and she makes the most of them. The reader is as anxious to pick up clues to Monk's history as he is himself. This is a very good read.

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Nearer Than the Sky

Nearer Than the SkyNearer Than the Sky by T. Greenwood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This novel deals with the frightening mental illness called Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. In this sickness, a parent, usually the mother, brings the child into the hospital or to the doctor for a variety of illnesses or accidents in order to either get the attention of the medical community or to gain importance from seeming to rescue her child from horrifying accidents.

This story is written from the point of view of another sibling who watches this pattern develop between her mother and sister and sensitively, but harrowingly describes the effect on all the family. When this sibling suspects the pattern is beginning in another generation, she has to deal with long surpressed emotions and decide what she will do for her family and in her own life. The story is told with sensitivity and depth and gives a window into this terrible sickness.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Book Goal for 2011 - 150 books, 25 Classics

I've joined the "52 Books in 52 Weeks" again for this year and since I read a lot when I am knitting and love listening to audiobooks, I am going to make that 150 books. Last year I logged 85 book reviews, and I didn't enter any from late November when Dad went into the hospital until January 13th even though I read at least 10 books, I think 150 books and reviews for this year would be a good challenge. I also want to read or reread a number of classics this year including:

Silas Marner and Middlemarch - George Eliot
Mansfield Park - Jane Austen
Bleak House and Pickwick Papers and Nicholas Nickleby- Charles Dickens
Finish reading Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
Pud'nhead Wilson, The Mysterious Stranger

I've got more to put on the list, so I'll say 25 classics for the year.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


BlacklandsBlacklands by Belinda Bauer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When the book opens a young boy is digging holes out on the moor. There is something determined, and yet frantic about his digging. He has been digging for his uncle Billy Peters body. Billy was killed by a serial killer when he was about 12, the age of Steven, the digger. His body was never found. Steven lives with his mother and grandmother and it is his grandmother he is trying to find Billy for. The family is disfunctional and Steven thinks that if he can find his uncle's body, his grandmother will begin to live in the present again and pay attention to his mother who has been pushed to the side in her mother's obsession with finding Billy.

This is a well crafted story with an engaging protagonist. It deals with several disturbing subjects, but it is fast paced and well crafted.

It also delves into the story that never makes the headlines...the story of what happens to the family left behind, the family that never has closure. I enjoyed this very much.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Need to update

Due to the death of my father and the complications of Christmas, I have a backlog of books to put on my blog. Hopefully I'll get time to update my blog soon.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pudd'nhead Wilson

Pudd'nhead WilsonPudd'nhead Wilson by Mark Twain

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was such a treat! I love the way Mark Twain creates memorable characters and his wonderful use of dialect. This is the story of a young lawyer who stumbles over a local social taboo and is dubbed Pudd'nhead from then on. He never gets to practice law and spends his time taking fingerprints and even reading palms. For the first part of the book, he is just a periphal character, but it is he that wins in the end.

While that is happening, there is a spoof on slavery where the almost white slave has a son who is only 32 degree colored and is almost identical with the son of the master. When his mother becomes wet nurse to the son of the house, who has been born at the same time and whose mother died in childbirth the situation is set. The babies are nearly identical and there is no doting mother around the young master so the slave mother switches the babies.

Then into the town comes a set of twins who write ahead for accomodations explaining that they are Italian Counts and will only need one room and one bed. The reason is apparent as soon as they arrive...they are conjoined twins. The addition of the twins makes the story hilarious, but in the end, there is a serious point made and Pudd'nhead Wilson is the hero of the day.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Christmas Visitor (Christmas Stories, #2

A Christmas Visitor (Christmas Stories, #2)A Christmas Visitor by Anne Perry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was one of the best of the Christmas series. We meet again Henry Rathbone from the William Monk series who is the godfather of Antonia whose husband has just been murdered. All of the brothers are to come home from far away places to the Dreghorn family home for Christmas. Poor Henry has to meet each at the station and break the sad news that their brother is dead and appears to be murdered.

The plots has many twists and turns and you find yourself hoping that none of people are to be found guilty, but each one has a secret to hide and, as in so many mystery novels, it is their little secrets that cause them to act in a suspect manner.

The book is short but interesting enough to remember who the characters are and what they have been doing as your reading time is shortened by the rush of Christmas.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

A Christmas Secret: A Novel (Christmas Stories, #4

A Christmas Secret: A Novel (Christmas Stories, #4)A Christmas Secret: A Novel by Anne Perry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a light, easy to read story which was perfect for the rush of Christmas when I read it. In fact, I read all four of this series over the Christmas holiday. It was interesting and moved at a fast enough pace, but not too deep.

Dominic Cord and his wife, Clarice are sent to the village of Cottisham to take over for an elderly Vicar who has gone on vacation. The villagers are very nice and the young couple fall in love with the place...that is until they find a body in the basement. There are plenty of suspects, most of whom you don't want to see found guilty and several others you would like to be the murder, but it seems as if they couldn't be. The answer is clever and comes after some little bit of danger and a lot of suspense. A great Christmas read!

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Friday, January 07, 2011

Track of the Cat (Anna Pigeon Mysteries, #1

Track of the Cat (Anna Pigeon Mysteries, #1)Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of Nevada Barr's better mysteries. I love the setting for this one and the plight of the mountain lions whose territory has deminished to smaller and smaller areas and even on Federal land are still vulnerable.

Someone is killing the big cats and the fear is that there are poachers who are leading hunters onto the wilderness areas of the park in order to hunt for sport. Anna puts her life at risk to find out who the poachers are and how they are getting in.

This book is especially filled with some very dark people and is a little creepier than most, still I enjoyed it.

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Thursday, January 06, 2011

Because of Winn-Dixie

Because of Winn-DixieBecause of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This delightful book depicts the story of a lonely girl who has moved with her preacher father to a new location. They have left their friends and church family and Opal is also dealing with the desertion of her mother years earlier. While shopping in Winn-Dixie Opal rescues a dog that is roaming the aisles and is destined for the pound. In sympathy, she claims the dog and calls him Winn-Dixie.

As the summer proceeds Winn-Dixie seems to be constantly widening Opal’s circle of unusual characters and leading her into adventures which help her to become part of her new community and grow in her understanding of her parents and human nature.

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