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, June 29, 2014

Why Me?"

Why Me?Why Me? by Sarah Burleton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was very short and not as skillfully written as it could have been, but it was good. It deals with the story of one child in the family who is singled out for abuse. It is incredible that someone at school or in the neighborhood didn't raise questions about what was going on. I know that she eventually didn't have near neighbors, but someone should have spotted something.

I would also like to know more about Sarah's mother. How was she raised and how did she get to be so hateful towards her first child. Her extreme hatred of Sarah has to have its roots in her past. I don't mean to excuse her, but it would have been worthwhile for Sarah to know.

I'd also like to know what happened to her sister when she left. I would be so afraid that her mother would turn on her in her rage when Sarah was no longer around. It is possible that her sister's father would interfere when it was his own child, but he bears a lot of the blame for abusing Sarah and allowing her to be abused.

I think that Sarah wrote this book as a therapeutic device. She needed to set the record straight and say what she couldn't say when she was at home. It would be good if she could write a more in depth book which went into the history and brought the information into the future. This book is very short, but there is a lot more of the story left.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Etched in Sand: A True Story of Five Siblings Who Survived an Unspeakable Childhood on Long Island

Etched in Sand: A True Story of Five Siblings Who Survived an Unspeakable Childhood on Long IslandEtched in Sand: A True Story of Five Siblings Who Survived an Unspeakable Childhood on Long Island by Regina Calcaterra
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was an excellent book. It is unbelievable how Regina Calcaterra survived this abuse, much less having the stellar career she has had. The fact that all five of her siblings managed to survive and lead productive lives is nothing short of a miracle.

Their mother was mentally ill and emotionally warped and she only needed her children to get welfare money. She was just shrewd enough to say the right things to HRS to continue to get benefits which she spent on herself. The children were either in deplorable living conditions or homeless.

The most important thing about this story is that Regina, a foster child, was able to continue through college, something unheard of until that time. Most of these children are turned loose at 18 with very few prospects. Besides being a role model, Regina has work with the system to make it easier for these kids to get a higher education.

The other thing that stands out about this family is how the children took care of each other. The older children took care of the younger ones and provided for their emotional support when they were desperately in need of it themselves. This is a fascinating and incredibly inspirational book.

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

How to Read Literature Like a Professor: For Kids

How to Read Literature Like a Professor: For KidsHow to Read Literature Like a Professor: For Kids by Thomas C. Foster
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an excellent book for kids in middle school and even some high school, although it might seem a little childish for the older students. It takes themes prevalent in literature and helps a student to see the patterns and the large part of the story that is written between the lines. In fact, it is a bit like a road map to help readers to pick out the important parts of a book while they are reading. Once read, I think the students would be able to apply this knowledge to any writing assignment in school and at least, begin to understand it.

The author has a companion book about reading novels and I think this is important. This book deals with literature and the great literary themes and would be almost impossible to apply all of them to novels, but in even the simplest novel there are themes and Dr. Foster's books will help.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014


AustenlandAustenland by Shannon Hale
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, I won't rate this as low as some people, but I do think it could have been a lot better. I kept thinking of Bridget Jones while I was reading it and then trying to pull myself back into the 1800's. Jane was given a treat/cure-all by her ancient relative and she was to go to this 3 week Jane Austen world where Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett still reigned. the modern Jane was holding ever male on her radar to the Darcy standard and found them lacking. This was a trip to dissuade her from this faulty thinking and turn her to some more realistic marital prospects.

Jane becomes immersed in Austenland, but she finds it not exactly to her liking. She is more modern than she thinks and she vacillates back and forth. This bothered me a lot because it wasn't very skillfully done. The incident with the gardener is the first problem to show up. It happens so quickly that the reader has to wonder if Jane even wanted the life of a Jane Austen heroine. If she was looking for the long courtship that is part and parcel with this life, she didn't act like it.

From there it struggles on. The whole idea of an Austenland was interesting and for that reason, I continued to read the book. Jane wasn't considered an A+ client because she didn't have the money to keep coming back year after year, so she was relegated to the end of the queue into the dining room, while a return client who was a 50 year old Dolly Parton was showered with the full treatment.

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Fete Worse Than Death (Hemlock Falls Mysteries #18)

A Fete Worse Than DeathA Fete Worse Than Death by Claudia Bishop

This is a nice little light-weight cozy mystery. The plot centers on the Annual Fete which is to be held in Hemlock Falls. Sarah Quilliam ends up on just about every committee there is to help with all the activities of the Fete. Unfortunately, there is trouble on the various committees and from outsiders who have a whole other issue. At times the plot gets a little fanciful, but basically it is just a good lightweight mystery with engaging characters and quirky situations.

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have read this several times and it still is one of my favorite books in the series. Harry and friends are still involved in hair raising adventures, but this one is more complex. The horrible killer, Sirius Black escaped from Azkaban and he has been known to say, "He's at Hogwarts." It is obvious to the adults around Harry that Sirius wants to get to Hogwarts and kill him for Lord Voldemort.

Harry has other things to worry about. He finds out that seeing a "grim" means that he soon will die and Harry has seen the big black dog three separate times. As if he doesn't have enough to worry about, the Dementors have been sent to guard Hogwarts over Professor Dumbledore's wishes. They have a terrible effect on Harry and they nearly get him killed. Thanks to some high level magic taught to Harry by the latest Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Lupin, Harry learns to defend himself somewhat, but he still hears his mother pleading for his life in the last moments of her life every time one comes near him.
Many of the characters in this book are not what they seem to be and Harry, Ron and Hermione are in much more danger in this third year at Hogwarts. They have to deal with injustice and treachery far beyond their years, making this book also one of the most exciting.

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The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren

The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine WarrenThe Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren by Gerald Brittle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At first, I was tempted to quit this book because it sounded so theatrical, but there was a lot more to it. People do a lot of things out of their own warped cussedness, but when I was working at the Dept. of Corrections, I saw something in some of the inmates that was way beyond ordinary evil. The most surprising were two juveniles, both under 14. Even though many of the personnel who had been there for years and years were talking about it. Years later I also saw a man who came to my English classes who had the same look. It wasn't just a look either. One child set his foster sister on fire, pushed her down the stairs and stood at the top and just watched her. The other killed a four year old and buried him in an outhouse.

This book was very interesting and there was a lot to think about. The Warrens certainly have a good reputation and the cases in the book were very convincing. The things they describe are consistent with other things I have read and it is obvious to me that evil certainly exists.

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Through the Evil Days (Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries, #8)

Through the Evil Days (Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries, #8)Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have a feeling I would have liked this book better if I had read the rest of the series first. The book seemed to drag some to me. I also found it a little convoluted. There are a large number of coincidences that all have to fall into place to make the book work.

I hated the ending. It makes it almost impossible to not read the next book in the series. The reader has invested in some of the characters and it is as if the book ended mid story. I think I will go back and read the first book in the series and see if it is better.

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Death of a Gentle Lady

Death of a Gentle Lady (Hamish Macbeth Mystery, Book 24) Death of a Gentle Lady by M.C. Beaton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Another of the Hamish Macbeth mysteries, this one has a lively cast of suspects. Mrs. Gentle, who has snowed many of the village’s members, has not fooled Hamish Macbeth. She is anything but gentle and her family members are almost as appalling. She mistreats her illegal immigrant Russian maid leading Hamish, in a fit of kindness, to offer to marry her. He is not quite as altruistic as he seems. If he has a wife, then Inspector Blair will be thwarted in his attempt to close the Lockdubh police station.

From that point on, things start to unravel. It seems that everyone has something to hide and the suspects are thick on the ground. Inspector Blair is becoming almost unhinged in his determination to get rid of Hamish and he comes close to succeeding.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Books That Build Character: A Guide to Teaching Your Child Moral Values Through Stories

Books That Build Character: A Guide to Teaching Your Child Moral Values Through StoriesBooks That Build Character: A Guide to Teaching Your Child Moral Values Through Stories by William Kilpatrick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a great reference tool, especially for homeschoolers who are making their own curriculum. The trouble is picking from so many books. The books are listed with a review which indicates why they were chosen. The books are some of the best in children's literature. They are listed as to age and general subject in the main part of the book, but are listed with the author in the back of the book so you can print the list or make a checklist.

I have used some of the books for a literature assignment and other I've suggested for free reading. There are so many and they are so good the kids really love them.

Even if you aren't homeschooling, this book is invaluable for free reading. Most of the Newberry Award books are on the list as well as classics like "Narnia" which kids love. There are even books reviewed for the gifted and especially mature readers.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Mr. Popper's Penguins

Mr. Popper's PenguinsMr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is such a sweet book. I read it to see if it was suitable for homeschool, and it really is too juvenile for my granddaughter, but it is such a wonderful story that I think I'll have her read it anyway.

Mr. Popper (Casper Milquetoast)loves reading about the South Pole. He even writes to an explorer there and suddenly there's a big box in his house with a penguin in it, straight from the South Pole. The whole family is so excited, but eventually his penguin becomes lonesome and so he gets a female penguin. Eventually there are 12 penguins and the money to feed them is about to run out. Then comes the idea!! If they can train seals, then surely they can train penguins! Thus begins a comical and wonderful adventure story for everyone.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated AdventuresFlora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Honestly, I read this book 30 days ago and I cannot remember what it was about. I read a lot of the reviews and I still can't remember much of it. Unfortunately, that says a lot about a book. I remember that it was a comic book type format and that a squirrel was vacuumed up and came out as something of a superhero. There's a pitiful little girl, Flora, who has lots of struggles and she becomes the squirrel's protector. The family is pretty dysfunctional and the squirrel helps to resolve some of them.

I gave it a third star because I remember thinking that it was pretty cute for a 10 year old, so on that basis, I added the star. I can't go any farther than that for a book that hasn't even stuck with me for a month, even for a book from a notable author.

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Monday, June 02, 2014

Journey to Gameland: How to Make a Board Game from Your Favorite Children's Book

Journey to Gameland: How to Make a Board Game from Your Favorite Children's BookJourney to Gameland: How to Make a Board Game from Your Favorite Children's Book by Ben Buchanan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a great book. It is all you need to know for a child to make a board game out of their favorite books. The author's son wrote his own book after he finished reading the Harry Potter series. He made his game to resemble Trivial Pursuit, but this book gives even more suggestions. If a child has old board games they never play, they can easily be converted to a game they will love. I'm planning to stop at yard sales and the Goodwill to see if I can pick up some. Best of all, the instructions are for the child to make the game with little help from adults.

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Sunday, June 01, 2014

Glimpses of the Devil: A Psychiatrist's Personal Accounts of Possession, Exorcism, and Redemption

Glimpses of the Devil: A Psychiatrist's Personal Accounts of Possession, Exorcism, and RedemptionGlimpses of the Devil: A Psychiatrist's Personal Accounts of Possession, Exorcism, and Redemption by M. Scott Peck
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an extremely interesting book. The author, Dr. Scott Peck, is a well known psychiatrist and author. In his practice, he has seen situations in which modern medical thought is not sufficient to explain what is the problem for some of his patients. In People of the Lie he presented a number of situations in which either the patients or their family exhibited behavior that that was evil and yet they didn't suffer from a known mental illness. This book goes beyond those earlier stories to incidents of actual possession.

I met Dr. Peck when he came to our church for a weekend seminar and our small group came to know him very well. We were impressed with his wisdom and intelligence as well as his honesty and forthrightness.

In this book, he discusses cases of his which involved actual possession. He knew Malachi Martin, author of Hostage to the Devil and discussed some of these cases with him.

People today are reluctant to even entertain the notion of a personal devil and yet as far back as the earliest records almost every civilization has a belief in devils. It is only the last 75 years that people have rejected the idea, especially when their image seems to only include a person in read tights with a trident and horns. C. S. Lewis says that the devil is just as happy when people are obsessed with him as when they ridicule him. Either way, he is camouflaged and can go about his work.

This is a great book to read with an open mind and learn from.

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