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, August 31, 2013

In the Blood (A Genealogical Crime Mystery #1)

In the Blood (A Genealogical Crime Mystery #1)In the Blood by Steve Robinson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book immensely. It was an interesting historical puzzle which seemed to have a bit of James Bond in the genealogy parts. Genealogist usually deal with people who are dead, but not at finding them at their feet! The assignment seems simple enough. A client would like to give a present to his wife and he hired Jefferson Tayte to find the English ancestors of his wife's family. Unfortunately, someone desperately wants to hide that information and is willing to kill to protect it. From the time Tayte sets foot on English soil, someone is following in his footsteps determined that he will not succeed.

I also love genealogy and I've picked up a few hints from JT as I have followed his research. Some aids are my old friends, but a few are new to me. At times I wish I had the money to hire JT myself! This book is a treat and I know I'll be reading the rest of Steve Robinson's books.

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4)Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've read this several times and I seem to come back to the HP books because they fill a niche in my life. I have almost all the books in audio version with Jim Dale as the reader, so I put them on when I am doing a big sorting project, or a knit sweater that has a deadline or even when I am having trouble sleeping. Jim Dale's voice is soothing and I almost always find something new.

This is the fourth book in the series and in a way it is the end of Harry's childhood. At the ball, he and Ron act with an early teen's mentality...they don't dance, can't carry on a conversation, and don't know what to think of their friend, Hermoine, who has just blossomed into a young woman.

Even in the trials of the Tri-Wizard Tournament, Harry is a boy who competes against young men and women who are no longer children. Harry has to compete in a tournament where the contestants are all at least 17, but he holds his own bravely. In the end, with one blow, he is no longer a child. Everything changes with this book.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Bone Chamber (Sydney Fitzpatrick, #2)

The Bone Chamber (Sydney Fitzpatrick, #2)The Bone Chamber by Robin Burcell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. It had everything! There were corrupt politicians, FBI agents, CIA, Black Ops, archaeologist, bio weapons, tunnels and catacombs under the Roman streets, ancient hidden maps, Knights Templar, Freemasons, car chases, a little romance and bombs. What more could you ask for? Well, I guess you could insist that it was well put together and this book was put together as well. You might have to suspend disbelief a time or two, but, it's a book, not a biography! It was a great book to take you away from a not too exciting life and into a world you could leave behind if it got too bad.

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Bitter Memories: A Memoir of Heartache & Survival

Bitter Memories: A Memoir of Heartache & SurvivalBitter Memories: A Memoir of Heartache & Survival by Sue Julsen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a sad, sad book. It is hard to believe that a father could take a child and submit her to such torture and think that he loved her. Once she goes with him it seems that every male, whatever their age, wants to sexually abuse her. It is just hard to believe that this kind of thing exists.

When I heard on the news about a non-custodial kidnapping rather than a stranger kidnapping it was with some relief. I mistakenly thought that the parent wouldn't hurt the child and I felt the pain of the custodial parent more than the child. After reading this book, I won't feel that way again.

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Friday, August 23, 2013

The Boy In The Suitcase

The Boy In The SuitcaseThe Boy In The Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbøl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book although it wasn't what I expected. The ending was especially good. Basically, it is a story of a well-meaning woman who does a favor for a friend and picks up a suitcase from a locker. Unfortunately, there is a 3 year old, comatose boy in the suitcase. Very
quickly it becomes apparent that she was not meant to pick up the suitcase and that someone wants it desperately. The rest of the book is a thriller whose characters weave in and out of each other's lives in a high stakes game.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dark Deeds: Serial killers, stakers and domestic homicides

Dark Deeds: Serial killers, stakers and domestic homicidesDark Deeds: Serial killers, stakers and domestic homicides by Susan Fleet
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is actually stories from a blog and they aren't very long, but they are interesting and well written. The author goes back in history to get some of the stories and they are very interesting.

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Call Me Tuesday

Call Me TuesdayCall Me Tuesday by Leigh Byrne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tuesday Storm's life is a triple tragedy. First, her older sister, crippled with polio, dies and Tuesday feels at fault because her sister made her give her half of the gum she was chewing and shortly afterwards, Tuesday came down with the flu her brothers have had. A few days later her sister comes down with the flu and dies.

When Tuesday is 9, her loving and caring mother suffers a brain injury in a terrible accident. She recovers, but her personality doesn't. Gone forever is the mother who loved celebrations and made every occasion joyful. Gone are the magical birthday parties. Her physical mother returns, but she is mentally ill and hates Tuesday with a passion.

It was hard to read this book at times. Tuesday was made to suffer incredible abuse and just about everyone she loves let her down. It is hard to imagine that people could live in that household and allow her to be treated that way. Her father tries to get her away from her mother’s abuse by sending her to his mother’s for the summer, but even he betrays her. The fact that Tuesday endures and is able to rise above this horror is absolutely incredible.

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Fever in the Heart and Other True Cases (Crime Files, #3)

A Fever in the Heart and Other True Cases (Crime Files, #3)A Fever in the Heart and Other True Cases by Ann Rule
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ann Rule's books are always good and this was no exception. This is a series of stories loosely grouped around themes. The first story about Morris Blankenbaker is the saddest. A fine young man was killed and so many lives torn apart because of the basest kind of betrayal. All the people involved seem to have led charmed lives and yet that wasn't enough for two of them. When I read about something like this, I remember some of my earlier training in a small Catholic school. The nuns tried to instill in us the knowledge that big evil deeds and evil people hardly ever start out that way. In the beginning, people are usually just bending the rules. They know what they do is wrong, but they do it anyway. Little by little, they lose the ability to see how far they have gone. We were told to not give into temptation over the little things and our characters would be strong enough to withstand the large things that we really wanted to do. This story is such a sad example of this. None of this needed to happen if two people had been satisfied with what they had and not thrown it away for something fleeting and inferior.

The last story, "Mirror Images", especially interested me because I worked in Juvenile Corrections. I was on a team which decided where to place the boys who were "sent away." I read the files of so many boys like the ones mentioned. One of the files I read was on Charles Manson and it was eerily like the file of James Ruzika. In so many cases, the boys were raised in single parent homes with mothers who have a series of relationships and children with multiple fathers. The start with a predictable pattern of theft, school problems, truancy and violence. In many cases, the boys are abused by their mother's partners and they are set up for deviant sexual behavior. Over time, we saw that many of the boys who came to us were becoming more and more emotionally disturbed. This was in the 70's and 80's. I can only guess at what it is like now. I'm afraid that cases like Ruzika and Harp are the tip of the iceberg.

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Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Poisoned Pilgrim (The Hangman's Daughter, #4)

The Poisoned Pilgrim (The Hangman's Daughter, #4)The Poisoned Pilgrim by Oliver Pötzsch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the last book in the series as of this writing and in it Magdalena has married Simon Fronswieser, the town medicus, and they have two sons. They have gone to the monastery of Andechs with a group of people from their home village of Schongau to give thanks for the health of their sons, Peter and Paul.

When they get there, they are confronted with a hideous series of murders and Magdalena sends for her father, who arrives with her two young sons whom I hope we will see more of.

As with the rest of the series, the descriptions of places of Bavaria and the lifestyle of the people in this era are fascinating and I always feel like I have added to my store of knowledge as well as been entertained.

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Monday, August 12, 2013

The Beggar King (The Hangman's Daughter, #3)

The Beggar King (The Hangman's Daughter, #3)The Beggar King by Oliver Pötzsch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the third book in this series and one of the more exciting. Jakob Kuisl received a letter from his sister in Regensburg asking him to come because she was terribly ill. He arrived only to find her gruesomely murdered. He was then arrested and framed for her murder. While he languished in jail awaiting his own torture by the Regensburg hangman, his daughter, Magdalena, and her friend, Simon come to help him. Fortunately for Jakob, the hangman had pity on him and believed him innocent.

In this book, Magdalena, with the help of Simon, is the active partner in the mystery. She becomes involved with an underground bunch of beggars with their own organization in the city. There are a whole lot of other colorful characters who both help and hinder her in finding the truth.

I found that this book had the most interesting characters and the most action. It was a clever plot and I enjoyed it very much.

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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and EmpathySticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy by Emily Bazelon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found this book very balanced and informative. The author chose 3 very good examples of bullying to study in depth. The children's stories were compelling and Brazlon did not follow the general practice of demonizing the bullies and sanctifying the bullied. She also did not fall into the trap of making the schools the culprit either. In some cases, the school was insensitive, but in general, they were doing the best they could to tackle the problem.

This is a very complex problem and there are not any easy answers. Brazelon did address one part of the problem that I have never seen in print. There is a left over problem from the fuzzy-headed thinking of the past 30 years which sanctifies children..."Let the children teach us." "Listen to the wisdom of the children." "My children are my heroes." Children are essentially selfish when they come into the world and they have to be taught how to care about others. Scores of instructions from my childhood come back to me: "How would you feel if someone did that to you?" "What if everyone did that?" "Just because so and so does that, do you have to?" "Either the girl is your friend and you are loyal to her, or you have to stop hanging out with her until someone better comes around." All those examples are what our parents and teachers tried to teach us, knowing that it does not come naturally to put others needs before our own. Children need to be taught to be empathetic and altruistic. They don't always come by it naturally. It is the job of the parents, but if they don't do it then the schools have to step in. It makes me cringe to add another burden to the schools, but it has to be done.

In the final chapters, Bazelon gives information on several programs which have worked and pages of resources. The book is an excellent resource for anyone who has to deal with children as well as anyone who just wants to understand the problem and be a part of the solution.

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The Dark Monk (The Hangman's Daughter, #2)

The Dark Monk (The Hangman's Daughter, #2)The Dark Monk by Oliver Pötzsch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book, but not quite as well as The Hangman's Daughter. The plot was a little convoluted. A priest is murdered and it appears that he has unearthed clues to a fantastic Templar fortune.  Jakob Kuisel explores the crypt in which the priest was killed and someone drugs him.  That begins the tale of 4 separate groups who are trying to follow the clues and find the treasure.

Simon teams up with the sister of the priest which evokes Magdelena's ire.  She goes to Ausburg to get some herbs and is drawn into the mystery when she is kidnapped by a crazed monk.  Simon and his beautiful partner follow clues which take them to monasteries, libraries and even a tree.  As they travel, it is clear that two groups of people are following them.  In the meantime, Clerk Johan Lechner has sent Jakob, with a group of men, to find the hideout of a group of robbers who have been plundering merchant's wagons and bringing trade to a stand still.  From there the plot weaves in and out until Jakob, Simon and Magdelena all arrive at the same point.

I have ancestors who came from Bavaria and I read this book with great interest.  The naming patterns in the family were the same as many of my ancestors as well as the trades.  In this book I ran into an ancestor with the unusual surname of my grandmother, but, unfortunately, Jakob only mentions that he has been hung as a highway.  I only hope that he was the black sheep of the family!

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Thursday, August 08, 2013

The Hangman's Daughter (The Hangman's Daughter #1)

The Hangman's Daughter (The Hangman's Daughter #1)The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book!  The history of Bavaria and the role of the hangman was fascinating.  I have ancestors who came from this region and the names in the book were right out of my genealogy.

The story is about the hangman, Jakob Kuisl, his daughter, Magdalene, the young doctor and the people of Schongau.  The job of hangman was hereditary and the daughter of a hangman would have to marry either another hangman or a butcher.  Both occupations were outcasts and the families of these workers lived outside the gates of the city with the tanners.

This first book is about the deaths of some children which are immediately presumed to have been caused by witchcraft and the Court Court, Johann Lechner, determines that the midwife is guilty.  Neither Jakob or the doctor believe she is guilty and the book is about finding the real criminal before the executioner will have to do his job and kill her.

One of the things that interested me was the brutality of the age and the panic which the threat of witchcraft posed.  There was such a rush to judgement and pressure to hang the witch so that the city could get back to normal.  Even when murders kept occurring after the midwife was in jail most town leaders just attributed the deaths to the power of the witch to command the devil.

The hangman was also a healer and the poorer people of the day came to him for herbal remedies.  The young doctor realizes that doctors away from major cities had as little power as the midwives or healers.  In the case of Jakob Kuisl, who had a number of books on the subject, he might have had more.

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Friday, August 02, 2013

Time of Death

Time of DeathTime of Death by Ellis Vidler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book made me so angry at times I was a hair's breath away from quitting it.  How can such seemingly intelligent people do such stupid things?  Someone has run Alex and Isabel off the bridge to their tiny little island, of which they are the only winter residents.  Then when Alex comes home from the hospital with all sorts of bruises and contusions and awakens from her medication induced sleep to find someone getting ready to rape and kill her while his partner down stairs is lighting a fire to burn down the house, does she, when rescued, grab her jammies and a toothbrush and get out of there?  No, she takes a long, long shower and then takes more pain medication and is just about to lay down for a nap when someone with more sense snatches her up and drives her to safety.

Still, I liked the book and the characters and I will read more of this author.  I just wish she could have come up with some more plausible reasons for being in such danger.  Perhaps Alex could be frantically gathering her things up to leave and she could break a glass.  Then tension could build as she plucks the glass out of a deep gash and then bandages her hand as time is slipping away instead of doing such reckless things and being her own worst enemy.

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Thursday, August 01, 2013

Frozen Solid

Frozen SolidFrozen Solid by James M. Tabor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

l didn't think I was going to like this book st first, but it was very enjoyable.  The female main character was very believable without being incredibly beautiful with long long get the idea.  She was very intelligent and courageous without being like a character from James Bond.

The situation posed, an organism which can be used as a form of population control, is within reason and probably in the minds of some scientists right now, unfortunately.  I enjoyed learning about life at the South Pole, the underground lakes and the organisms that can live in such an environment.  All together a good read.

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