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, January 26, 2013

In the Sanctuary of Outcasts

In the Sanctuary of OutcastsIn the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was fascinated by this book.  Neil White, a successful magazine publisher, was convicted of bank fraud for kiting checks.  He was sentenced to 18 months in a Federal Penitentiary in Louisiana.  The penitentiary was also a leprosarium where a number of patients resided, many of them for most of their lives.

As Neil comes to know the patients and inmates, he learns a great deal about himself and the philosophy of life which caused his downfall.  The interactions with the patients, their stories and their reactions to the life sentence their disease gave them helped him to see himself as he truly was.

The book was very interesting, especially the part about the leprosarium.  It is unbelievable that people were taken from their families and sent to places like Carville without any concern for their human rights.  I thought that this was a practice from the middle ages rather than a policy in the United States.  Despite of their treatment, many of the patients became mentors to Neil and each other.  I would like to have known more about their lives.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Secrets in the Cellar

Secrets in the CellarSecrets in the Cellar by John Glatt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is as fascinating a book as it was tragic.  Elizabeth Fritzl was tricked into an underground bunker by her father when she was about 18 and for the next 24 years, she lived as his pseudo wife & sex slave.  She bore him 7 children 3 of whom lived as his cellar children and 3 others as his upstairs children. To cover her disappearance, he made her write a letter stating that she had become a member of a cult and to not try to find her.  Several years later, she supposedly left a note with each of 3 of the children born to her who were raised by him and his wife as the "upstairs children."  There was another child, one of a pair of twins, who died in the cellar after living 3 days and was disposed of in an incinerator.

It is hard to believe how a seemingly normal man could be so base. In a psychological interview he related a history of abuse by his controlling mother and the influence of the Nazi philosophy, but it hardly seems sufficient to have produced such a monster.  He grew up in the shadow of the Amstetten-Mauer hospital which was built as a Nazi death camp and he and his mother ascribed to the Nazi philosophy, but so did scores of others. Ironically, it was to this hospital that his family went to heal from the psychological trauma.

I remember when Elizabeth was discovered and always wondered how he was able to keep this a secret for so long and how she and her children fared.  The book goes into the former extensively, but there is little information on the family afterwards as they are desperate to keep their lives private and to heal.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mommy's Little Girl

Mommy's Little GirlMommy's Little Girl by Diane Fanning
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was published before Casey Anthony's trial and it was very hard to read in light of the verdict.  Everything in the book leaves you with no doubt that Casey killed her daughter.  There is just no other explanation for her conduct.  She went 31 days without reporting Caylee's absence and then it was her mother who reported it. She said she left the child with an nanny, but the nanny didn't exist, the apartment where she said she had been taking her for almost 2 years didn't exist, the nanny's mother didn't exist.  Casey went out partying, stealing from her parents and friends, writing checks against her grandmother's account as well as her best friend.  She pretended she had a job and even took to police to her supposed office at Universal, but then confessed that she didn't have the job, and her boss and coworker didn't exist.  Every thing she said was a lie.

The book does, however does go a long way towards explaining the family background and the extent of Casey's narcissism.  For whatever reason, Casey's parents enabled her and helped her become the person she was.  I have to say that they only helped, though.  There was noting in Casey's background that could have caused her to become the complete narcissistic sociopath that the was.  Which makes this miscarriage of justice even harder to take.

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Gregor and the Code of Claw (Underland Chronicles, #5)

Gregor and the Code of Claw (Underland Chronicles, #5)Gregor and the Code of Claw by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the fifth and last book in the series.  The Regalians and their allies prepare for battle with the rats for the existance of all Regalia.
No one wants Gregor to see the Prophecy of Time because it contains someting terrible.  Of course, Gregor does get to read it and it says that the Warrior must die.  With Gregor's mother and two sisters in Regalia there is no option but to fight, so Gregor sets out into battle.

The conclusion to the series is good, but I have trouble with the mixed messages about War that fill the book. It is a concept that is contradictory, but I wish there was a little more resolution.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Gregor and the Marks of Secret (Underland Chronicles, #4)

Gregor and the Marks of Secret (Underland Chronicles, #4)Gregor and the Marks of Secret by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the fourth book of this series and of all of them, this was the slowest for me.  In it the grounds are being laid for the final battle.  The rats have cornered the nibbler and sent most of the to a terrible death. Luxa declares war to revenge the deaths of the mice and the stage is set.

I found this the weakest book in the series because there is no resolution of the conflict.  The main characters go out on a "campaign" but the book can't stand on its own.  You have to read the next one or the book is a waste of time.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods (Underland Chronicles, #3

Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods (Underland Chronicles, #3)Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was probably the best book in this series.  Gregor has to come back to the Underland because he is desperately needed.  His mother wants no part of him going back, but she allows him to return for a meeting as long as she can go with him.  That means that Boots is to return also.

When Gregor returns it is to find that the Bubonic plague has appeared and his bat, Ares, is terribly afflicted.  Gregor is conflicted about going on the quest, but when he finds that his mother has contracted the plague, there is no question about his participation.

The quest introduces some more fascinating characters to the series and is filled with adventure.  Some of the main characters have begun to change as their involvement with each other brings out the best and sometimes the worst in them.  More of the history of the humans and their treatment of the other creatures is revealed and a lot of it isn't pretty.  Our heros succeed, but not without great cost.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2013

The Stranger in the Opera House (Emma Winberry, #2)

The Stranger in the Opera House (Emma Winberry, #2)The Stranger in the Opera House by Helen Macie Osterman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you like books about ghosts, you will like this one.  A stranger in ragged dress keeps appearing at the rehearsals for a new opera.  Not everyone can see him though.  After some research into the history of the building site of the opera house, the identity of the ghost is suspected, but there are some flesh and bone problems going on also.

This is definately in the cozy-mystery corner.  It is pretty easy to see where the book is going, but the characters are good and the mystery is plausible.

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Sunday, January 06, 2013

Murder at the Opera (Capital Crimes, #22)

Murder at the Opera (Capital Crimes, #22)Murder at the Opera by Margaret Truman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I haven't read any of Margaret Truman's mysteries for a long time and was pleasantly surprised at this one. I picked it out because I am studying opera with my 10 year old granddaughter whom I homeschool and I was looking for something that would give a feel for how an opera was staged.

This book deals with a young soprano who is killed in the first chapter and it veers off to a terrorist cell and an 8 year murder in which a manuscript disappeared.  The manuscript was alleged to be a composition in which Mozart an Handel corroborated.  The various threads do come together and the mystery is summed up in the last chapter.

I enjoyed the background on the Opera and the Opera Ball and what has to happen when the President appears at a social function.  It was fascinating to see what goes on behind a simple appearance at a ball or a trip to a restaurant entails.

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Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane (Underland Chronicles, #2)

Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane (Underland Chronicles, #2)Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second book in the series and is even better than the first.  Gregor and Boots are sledding in Central Park when Boots disappears.  Gregor soon learns that Boots has been taken down a passage that leads to the Underland.  It is the rats who have grabbed her, but the giant roaches have rescued her and taken her to Regalia.  Gregor follows her and learns of the Prophecy or Bane.  The Prophecy seems to indicate that the rats need Boots and intend to kill her.  Gregor's is the one who has to lead the quest for the Bane in order to save the Underland. He is accompanied by a number of humans and creatures and they have numerous exciting adventures leading to a surprise fulfillment.

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Thursday, January 03, 2013

Intrigue at the Grand Opera (Nancy Drew, #171)

Intrigue at the Grand Opera (Nancy Drew, #171)Intrigue at the Grand Opera by Carolyn Keene
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am beginning a homeschool unit on Opera with my granddaughter and I picked this to perhaps pique her interest.  I found it to be perfect in that respect.  Nancy Drew's friend Bess has a chorus role in the three operas the American Opera Company are performing, but strange things begin to happen and the director encourages Nancy to join the chorus as a cover for some sleuthing.  As a mystery for its target audience, I think it is quite good.

There is actually quite a bit of information about the 3 operas and how opera companies work, including some prima-donna behavior which becomes part of the plot.  There is a rivalry between the older opera star who is getting ready to pass her peak and the younger, and somewhat ill mannered diva.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2013


Time for some new resolutions for 2013.

1.  To do more reading from my Goodreads list instead of picking books at random from the library.  I have 723 books in my "To Read" section and I keep adding them.  I'm not sure just what number or percentage of  "To Read" books I should aim for.  I homeschool my granddaughter, so I am always getting books to read for our subjects that are not in my list.  I think I will make it 50 books and, hopefully, end up with under 675 books.

2.  I want to do better at entering my books on this blog.  Last year, due to computer problems and being in VA for half the year, I got behind.  The amount of books on my blog for this past year doesn't reflect what I actually read.

3.  I want to read 150 books this year

4.  I want to read 25 classics again, especially Dickens.

5.  I want to read and get rid of at least 15 of the books I own and don't want to keep.

Bertie Plays the Blues

Bertie Plays the Blues (44 Scotland Street, #7)Bertie Plays the Blues by Alexander McCall Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As usual with this series, I loved this book.  Parts of it are hilarious and parts filled with pathos.  For me, the main story is Bertie.  In this book, he finally is so desperate that he tries to put himself  for adoption on eBay.  When that doesn't work, he and Ranald skip school and take the train heading for the adoption agency in Glasgow where Bertie hopes to find new parents.

Domenica and Angus continue their plans for marriage, but not without a hiccup or two.  Combining their households poses a problem as does an old flame who appears out of  nowhere.

Big Lou finds another possible suitor, but there are shades of her previous boyfriends in this one also.  She has a falling out with Matthew and bans him from the coffee bar to everyone's discomfort and Matthew has his own problems with the triplets.

As usual, things wind down to a semi-satisfactory conclusion by the end of the book.  There is just enough left hanging to insure that there will be another in the series.

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