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

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Silencing the voices: one woman's experience with multiple personality

Silencing the voices: one woman's experience with multiple personality dSilencing the voices: one woman's experience with multiple personality d by Jean Darby Cline
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book about a woman with multiple personalities or dissociative identity disorder is very well written. It is told from the viewpoint of Jean, the patient with some parts seen through the eyes of her alters. There are parts that are very difficult to read. The splitting off of personalities is not difficult to understand when you read of the terrible abuse. It is incredible that children survive this kind of background.

One thing this book has that I have never read before is what happens to the family when the sexual abuse comes to light. Jean and her sisters told their mother what happened when she asked if there ever was any sexual abuse. It is hard to understand why the mother brought the topic up because she did not want to hear the answer. In this case, at least 2 of the sisters confirmed that there had been horrific sexual, physical and emotional abuse and the other two daughters confirmed the physical abuse and believed their older sisters. From the younger two sisters comments it was likely that at least one other was sexually abused but was not ready to confront her memories. The brothers also believed their sisters and each had a child or step-child molested by the father and all confirmed the horrible physical abuse.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Haunting of Maddy Clare

The Haunting of Maddy ClareThe Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book turned out to be pretty good. I wasn't sure in the beginning. Sarah Piper was working at a temp agency and she was interviewed by the dapper and handsome Alistair Gellis, who had a interesting proposition. He wished to hire her to help him make contact with a ghost...a man hating ghost. Sarah doesn't have many options, so she agrees to the task.

The ghost, a 19 year old serving girl named Maddy Clare, hanged herself in a barn which she continued to haunt. The two elderly ladies who had once employed her have sensed her increasing distress and want to help her make the transition to the afterlife.

There is more going on though. Sarah makes contact with her and senses her tremendous anger. Something is not right and Sarah and Alistair, with the help of his assistant, Matthew Ryder, begin to suspect that she has not committed suicide, but has been murdered.

There are interesting plot turns and a bit of romance and intrigue which make for a very entertaining ghost story. I will be reading more of this author.

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Visitation

The VisitationThe Visitation by Frank Peretti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What would it be like if Jesus came to our town and started doing miracles right and left? It sounds nice, but this fascinating book shows what kind of things could happen. First, how many people would know how to tell if he truly was Jesus? Just because someone does miracles doesn't mean that they are from God. The Bible is very clear about a time in our future when people will do miracles in Jesus' name and they won't be from God.

Frank Peretti is great at creating characters who are flawed, but resonate with the reader. Even people whose religious background seems different are created with the good and the bad of each denomination. The main character, Travis Jordan, was an eager Pentecostal minister before his beloved wife sickened with cancer and died. He resigned from his church to examine his priorities and sort out the spiritual fallout from this difficult time. Unfortunately, the present minister of his church won't let him sit on the sidelines. As irritating as Kyle is, Travis can see himself in the young minister and somehow is able to separate the chaff from the wheat.

Kyle needs all the help he can get when a young man comes to town working miracles and preaching love and fellowship. If everyone in town will just love and believe in themselves, then heaven will reign on earth...only it isn't that simple. What is interesting about this book is that it takes some superficial beliefs and draws them to their complicated conclusions. If people believe that they just have to be true to themselves and follow wherever their desires lead them what happens to the people whose lives are linked to theirs? Poor Jim and his daughter just want to know what to do about dinner and what do they do while Dee is out finding herself? Things are not as simple as sound bites might lead us to believe.

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Who Could That Be At This Hour? (All The Wrong Questions, #1)

Who Could That Be At This Hour? (All The Wrong Questions, #1)Who Could That Be At This Hour? by Lemony Snicket
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you like Lemony Snicket, will like this. It is full of quirky plot twists and unbelievable characters. Unbelievable characters is what Lemony Snicket does best. I think a good bit of genealogical research would turn up Charles Dickens in Snicket's ancestry. Is this book as fun for kids as it is for adults? I am not sure, but someone is taking them off the library shelves!

This is like a prequel. We get to find out more about Lemony Snicket as an apprentice spy well before he went on to write the "Series of Unfortunate Events." He has drawn the worst possible trainer, but he manages to finish his assignment although we are left with a lot of questions. It is obvious that this is going to be the start of a new series.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Jennifer and Her Selves

Jennifer and Her SelvesJennifer and Her Selves by Gerald Schoenewolf
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is hard to say a book like this is enjoyable when you are dealing with the unraveling of a life full of pain and abuse, but it was captivating. Jennifer was subject to physical and emotional abuse and to cope with the pain, she dissociated into 7 different personalities. Each personality was "born" as a response to a horrifying situation that the child, Jennifer, was not able to cope with. In her creative mind, another personality emerged who was able to bear the pain and betrayal. While these alters enabled her to cope with her situation, they eventually began to cause her problems. Jennifer was unaware of the alters, but she was aware of losing time. When she would awaken, sometimes in an strange location, she would find that days or weeks had disappeared. Frequent suicide attempts and "cutting" brought her to mental hospitals and new therapist until she finally arrived at Gerald Schoenewolf's office.

Shortly after she began work with Schoenewolf, her personality changed so drastically that he finally became aware that he was dealing with a multiple personality. The book deals with the portion of her therapy that dealt with exposing all of the alters and eventually integrating them. The story is a fascinating look into the way a creative and intelligent mind protected a vulnerable child from abuse that she could not cope with.

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Lost Boy

Lost BoyLost Boy by Brent W. Jeffs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the forth book on this subject which I have read recently. It covers a different perspective than the others. It concerns the boys who were raised in the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints (FLDS)and were either forced out by the prophet, Warren Jeffs, or who ran away. Boys were undervalued in this society because the church leaders often had 40, 60 or more wives and they married girls as young as 12. There was always a need for more young girls, but that left scores of boys for whom marriage was impossible. This was doubly difficult since a man was unable to enter the "Celestial Heaven" unless he had at least three wives.

These boys were forced out of a closed society which totally controlled their lives. When they left, they were penniless, abandoned, ill educated, and totally alone. They not only lost their homes, families, and friends, but their whole culture. These boys were raised to not only distrust the "gentiles," (non FLDS) but to hate them. The schools they went to while in the FLDS emphasized church history and were devoid of subjects like science and US or World history. They were hopelessly under educated and unprepared for life outside the FLDS. Most of them drifted into drugs and alcohol and many died of overdoses or suicide.

The author of the book, Brent Jeffs, also had to cope with horrible nightmares and an all pervasive fear. His drug use was a double edged sword; it blunted his dreams and memories, but it also left him less able to repress the horror of his childhood. After the suicide of his beloved brother, Clayne, who had recently confessed to his family that his uncle Warren Jeffs had repeatedly raped him as a young boy, Brent's nightmares and panic attacks reached a level which left him unable to cope. He was beginning to remember his own attacks by Jeffs beginning when he was 5.

Eventually, Brent’s story and those of other lost boys led to criminal and civil charges of Warren Jeffs and ultimately his downfall. The book is well written and documented and provides a much fuller understanding of the FLDS and it’s prophet, Warren Jeffs.

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Friday, November 15, 2013

The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook-- What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing

The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook-- What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and HealingThe Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook-- What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing by Bruce D. Perry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a fascinating book! It answered many of the questions I have had about people who commit horrible crimes. It is actually a book about how the brain develops and what happens when something goes terribly wrong in the early years of brain growth. The early experiences of children determine how there brains will grow. If the are given no stimulation or are traumatized, the early brain can't develop properly and every additional experience will be influenced by the missing stages.

I've read a lot of books about feral children, serial killers, sociopaths and psychotics in an attempt to figure out what makes them the way they are. Most of what I have read is limited to what they do instead of why. I keep looking for the missing link. This book is the closest to an answer as I have found. The author uses a medical model of brain development to explain the changes in the brain from trauma or isolation and yet leaves room for individual personality. To me this is the key to why not all children who experience this kind of trauma go on to become murders, serial killers and predators.

As someone else mentioned in a review, this book has made me more compassionate towards people who do heinous things and yet made me more aware of why they cannot be trusted to be free among us. The case of Leon was the best example. Guilty of the rape and murder of two young girls, Dr. Perry was called on to give a pre-sentencing report to decide if his sentence was life in prison or the death penalty. Dr. Perry found that Leon had been left alone in an apartment all day long, day after day. He had no stimulation or love which impaired his ability to relate to others. Sadly, it was a vicious circle for him. He was unlovable because he wasn't loved in infancy but he couldn't get love from the people around him because he was unlovable. He developed into a brutal young man with no conscience and low impulse control. He was damaged by his childhood, but he turned into a man who could not be allowed to live in society. Dr. Perry does not say what happened in his sentencing, but I would have given him life in prison without parole.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Third Wheel (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, #7)

The Third Wheel (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, #7)The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this to see if it would good for homeschool free reading. It's written for middle school readers and I can see why the kids like it. Greg is his usual bumbling self as he tries to find a date for the school dance. He's pretty nerdy and unsure of himself, so he is easy for middle graders to identify with. He also manages to be one of those kids for whom everything that can go wrong does go wrong.

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Prophet's Prey: My Seven-Year Investigation into Warren Jeffs and the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints

Prophet's Prey: My Seven-Year Investigation into Warren Jeffs and the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day SaintsProphet's Prey: My Seven-Year Investigation into Warren Jeffs and the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints by Sam Brower
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the story of the Warren Jeffs saga told from the viewpoint of the private detective who spent seven years of his life tracking down Jeffs and helping to bring him and his henchmen to justice. Sam Brower was uniquely positioned to deal with the FLDS as he is a Mormon and understands how this polygamist cult differs from the mainline church and the effects of the abuses of the practice of polygamy. He also had and continues to have strong feelings about the abuse, sexual, financial and psychological, that the majority of the members suffer from. The FLDS is not just a sect that believes in polygamy between consenting adults, but includes incest, child abuse, rape, murder, kidnapping, and the abandonment of a great many of the young boys who have little value in this society. In fact, since the upper level of the "priesthood" have upwards of 50 wives, there are not enough for the young men so they are pushed out at the slightest offense.

While it might appear that this books, which deals with investigations and court battles, would be dry and uninteresting, but that is not the case. Brower is an excellent writer and he is able to convey the complexities of the law in a way that makes interesting reading. He also takes a stab at the psychological aspect of Jeffs character which is one of the main reasons I am reading about this subject. I have to say, that I agree with his thoughts on Jeffs mental state. This book also fills in a lot of the gaps in the understanding of this sect and the damage it does its members. It was interesting to read this book after reading The Witness Wore Red and Stolen Innocence as it seemed to complete the picture.

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Saturday, November 09, 2013

Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs

Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren JeffsStolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs by Elissa Wall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second book I've read about Warren Jeffs, the prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and the courageous young women who have fled his iron rule. Warren Jeffs is the polygamist leader of this renegade branch of the Mormon Church.

As is my custom, I am reading as much as I can about a topic in hopes of getting a balanced view of the subject. This book is one of the first out from an actual victim. Elissa Wall was given in marriage when she was 14 to a 19 year old first cousin whom she already disliked intensely. Elissa begged the Prophet, Warren Jeffs, not to give her in marriage. She argued that she was too young and that she didn't like her prospective groom. Jeffs only told her to pray and "be sweet," a phrase which means submit to whatever the prophet, or her father says.

Everyone tells her that she must do what she is told. Obedience to the head of the family and the prophet is imperative. There is no other choice for her except suicide. If she disobeys, she will be cast out with no money, no place to go and no knowledge of the "gentiles" she has been taught to fear. Not only that, her father may lose his priesthood because he couldn't control his daughter. That means that her mother will be given to another husband and her children will take his name.

As for being married, Elissa had absolutely no knowledge of what goes on between husband and wife. In the FLDS, sex is not talked about and young girls are taught to treat boys as snakes. They are absolutely not allowed to touch one another or even become friends. Elissa is horrified at what her husband wants and eventually, she is raped and made to do to many things that she finds repugnant. Eventually, she finds the strength to leave and finally to stand up in court and accuse Warren Jeffs of the abuse he forced her into.

It is absolutely amazing that this is allowed to go on in the United States. Young girls are being reared as chattel. Sexual abuse is rampant even with girls barely 12 years old. This is a book that everyone should read so this practice can be stopped.

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Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The Secret Life of Walter MittyThe Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of Thurber's most famous stories. In it the mild mannered Walter Mitty experiences five daydreams while on a regular shopping trip with his overbearing wife. While she goes to the hair dresser, he runs some errands and has daydreams connected to something that happens on the way. In these daydreams he is always a confident hero who gets the task done bravely at great risk. In some of the story is heard a sound of "pocketa-pocketa-pocketa" as the daydream is in full swing and which signals a "Mitty moment" to any of the readers of Thurber's best story.

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The Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justice

The Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to JusticeThe Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justice by Rebecca Musser
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am  not sure why I am so interested in books on this subject, but I keep hoping that somehow I can make sense of it.  It is inconceivable to me that men, especially men who supposedly believe in God can do things as despicable as were done by these leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints (FLDS).  It is also incredible that women would allow themselves, and their children to be abused in this way. I am always searching for something that will help me understand and the best I can come up with is the old saying that "power corrupts and the absolute power corrupts absolutely" colliding with church leaders who are also sociopaths.

In this book, Rebecca Mussler gives a glimpse of what life is like for women in the FLDS.  Men cannot get into Celestial Heaven unless they have at least three wives.  It is the inner circle of this cult that has the power. The Prophet decides which women are given to which men especially after the first wife.  Men try to win favor with the Prophet by paying their tithes, turning over ownership of their houses and land, and their daughters for plural marriages.  Women are taught that it is their highest duty to obey their husbands and their prophet in absolutely everything.  Their lives are centered on their husbands and their children.  From birth, they are made slaves of men.  They are taught to “be sweet” no matter what their men do or tell them.  They welcome in new wives without complaint.  They give their daughters to the prophet to take for themselves (especially if their daughter is pretty) or to give to the inner circle.

Rebecca Musser was very pretty and caught the eye of the Prophet Rulon Jeffs.  She was 19 and he was 84.  She was his 19th wife.  He went on to have nearly 50 more wives all after the age of 84.  His wives kept getting younger and younger until many of them were underage.  When he died, his son, Warren began marrying his father’s wives, technically his “mothers.”  When Rebecca was told that she had a week to submit to his will and marry again, she gathered the courage to escape and go to her older brother who had been pushed out of the church.  (With prophets and their inner circle taking 50+ wives, there were not enough left for the young men so it didn't take much to be expelled.)

She had a better life, but she grieved for her sisters, especially one who was given to her violent first cousin.  She grieved for so many young girls, as young as 12 who were being given to men well beyond age 50.  She grieved for underage girls married two at a time to men older than their fathers and she grieved for her mothers who were made to submit to anything their husbands or the Prophet asked.

When questioned by law enforcement, Rebecca began to see that she could help the states of Arizona, Utah and Texas bring the corrupt leadership down and free these helpless women and their young girls.  She was able to help them build a case against Warren Jeffs, who was not only marrying young girls, but living a luxurious life filled with vices while he preached strict obedience and sacrifice to his congregation.  This book is an example of the power of one person can effect much change.

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More Ramblings on "Catcher" and Classics in general

Kallie wrote: Good point, Roland. In fact, I like to get into character's head when he or she is NOT like me, or like I want to be, and try to see their world from their perspective. I think characterization usually suffers when a writer tries to make a character he or she identifies with as admirable. The character becomes a puppet rather than a complex character with a life of his or her own.

I agree totally!  That is the genius of the classics and all good literature.  I think that is the essence of being "well read."  Getting inside the mind of a character in a book helps us understand ourselves and others.  What comes to mind right now is The Picture of Dorina Gray.  Essentially, Dorian does all kinds of despicable things  without seeming to change in any way. He doesn't suffer for any of his actions. He is a complete sociopath and the reader is able to get into his mind and during most of the book we see the damage he causes others.  At the end though the reader is able to see the damages he does to himself.

After finishing the book, the reader comes to understand that there are consequences to that kind of life.  One book won't put the breaks on a sociopath, but after reading Great Expectations, The Great Gatsby (Daisy), Vanity Fair (Becky Sharp), A Christmas Carol (Scrooge), David Copperfield (Steerforth) Persuasion (Mr. Elliot)even a sociopath can see the consequences of that life, and the rest of the readers understand that there are people who have no conscience and to be wary of them.
immersed in and learn from.

To me, classics gain that title because they are incredibly successful in creating characters and situations which are a different reality from the reader, but which the reader can be

Friday, November 01, 2013

The Final Winter: an apocalyptic horror novel

The Final Winter: an apocalyptic horror novelThe Final Winter: an apocalyptic horror novel by Iain Rob Wright
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This could have been a good book and with a good editor, it still might be, but there are too many mistakes and characters who are not fully developed. At first, I couldn't put it down. There were some individuals in the pub and other stores and interesting story lines, but the promise of those characters kind of fizzled near the end.

The ending was also problematic. I think the trouble is that there are some archetypes in human consciousness and if a person is going to act outside those parameters, there needs to be a very skillful character development. I am thinking of Mephistopheles, Screwtape, Old Scratch and those created by Dante, Milton, and Goethe. I am probably putting it awkwardly, but it is hard to make this point without spoiling the book.
I would like to see other work by the author, because I see a very creative mind.

I also have to note that dropping the foul language and sexual innuendo would help the book a great deal. Many of the situations call for specific adjectives which would help the reader experience the character's thoughts better than the trite expletives which are repetitive and non specific.

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