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, April 30, 2014

Lace One-Skein Wonders: 101 Projects Celebrating the Possibilities of Lace

Lace One-Skein Wonders: 101 Projects Celebrating the Possibilities of LaceLace One-Skein Wonders: 101 Projects Celebrating the Possibilities of Lace by Judith Durant
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This one of the best books I own.  There are so many wonderful projects in it.  I got it on a special for only $2.95, but it is worth the full price.  If I was going to live on a deserted island with only one book, a tree and a pair of sheep. This would be it.  There is just so much in it.

There are beautiful hats of varying complexity and many have mitts and socks to go with them.  There's a whole section for Babies and Toddlers.  There's a picture of a toddler with lace legwarmers that is so cute I want to make it even thought there are no toddlers in my life.  I may have to start a box of presents for babies whose parents are still kids today.  There are a few little sweaters and hats to go in the box also.

In the scarf and shawl section there all sorts of sizes and styles for just about everyone.  There is a butterfly scarf which ought to please any teens on your gift list and a broomstick lace scarf which looks like fun.  If you don't have time for a scarf, there are a number great cowls that would make great gifts.  One shawl that is on my list is the Indian Paintbrush shawl which is panels of stockinette stitch with rays of lace.

If that is not enough, there is a section for accessories which includes belts, headbands, and bags, followed by a section of items for your home like curtain ties, bottle covers, dishcloths, and pillows.

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Weekend Knitting: 50 Unique Projects and Ideas

Weekend Knitting: 50 Unique Projects and IdeasWeekend Knitting: 50 Unique Projects and Ideas by Melanie Falick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was a little disappointed in this book.  There are 50 project designed by different well-known designers and each talks a bit about her knitting and project which is very interesting, but most of the projects are very plain.  Some of my favorite designers have projects, so I was anticipating stunning designs from them, but most are more like beginner projects.  I guess I should have anticipated this because the projects are designed to be completed in a weekend, but I got the book as a Kindle book, so I didn't get to see the projects before I bought it.

There are a few projects that I will probably make like the lace edged pillow cases, the little bolero jacket which is wonderful and the ear flap caps, so I feel like I got my money's worth, but I wish the  elf toe slippers were in adult sizes.  They are so cute, I may just have to make them and find a kid to give them to;>)

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer (Theodore Boone, #1)

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer (Theodore Boone, #1)Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am reading this to use in a homeschool lesson.  It is a great book to introduce kids to the legal system and to explore the difference between justice and the law.

Theodore Boone is the son of two lawyers; his mother is a divorce lawyer and his father is a real estate lawyer.  Theo's goal i to becomes a trail lawyer.  He is known in his school as being a fair and honest kid who can often help his classmates find out what to do when a dog gets out, or a friend is in trouble.  He knows all the lawyers in town and is able to steer kids to the correct person to handle their cases.

When a man is on trial for the murder of his wife, Theo arranges for his Government class to attend the another person who has vital information about the trial.  The problem is that the witness can not testify.

I think the solution presented is very good and will help kids understand the complexity of the law, but I felt the book ended rather abruptly.  It could have benefited from an epilogue.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014


LumpLump by Robert T. Jeschonek
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is more of a short story than a book.  Buzz is the terror of school and the neighborhood.  He is the Alpha bully.  He's so bad that every Christmas Eve, he gets a lump of coal.  In an odd way, getting the lump of coal is like a prize.  Buzz relishes the proof that he is the worst of the worst.  Imagine what happens when the faithful lump is not there.  Buzz is horrified!  Did he accidentally do something kind?  He sets out to find this accidental lapse and finds more than he bargained for.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Anatomist's Apprentice (Dr. Thomas Silkstone, #1)

The Anatomist's Apprentice (Dr. Thomas Silkstone, #1)The Anatomist's Apprentice by Tessa Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fascinating story.  It is the beginning of a series about Dr. Thomas Silkstone who was a pioneer in forensic medicine.  The story takes place in Victorian times and it involves a man who seemed to have been poisoned by strychnine mixed in a tonic he took daily.  At the time, there weren't tests to analyze different components in a mixture.  There also wasn't a catalog of different substances and their effects on the different parts of the body.

The story was about a young Earl, Lord Edward Crick, who was an dissolute young man of 21 who had contracted syphilis when he was 14.  He was given a tonic by a local doctor and he died with symptoms that resembled strychnine, however there didn't seem to be any strychnine in the tonic.

A young Anatomist, Dr. Silkstone from Philadelphia is called on by the dead man's sister, partially because the prime suspect is her husband.  Through a lot of twists and turns and several more murders, he is finally able to find out who the real killer was.

I listened to this audiobook on a trip from Florida to Virginia and it  was the perfect length and kept me engaged for the whole trip.  It is the beginning of a series and it looks to me like it is going to be a good one.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I find myself listening to the whole Harry Potter series again and again.  The reader, Jim Dale, has a soothing voice which is easy to listen to so I listen when I am knitting or doing cross stitch.  In this last book, Rowling gathers up all the loose ends in the whole series and weaves them into a stunning conclusion. Each time I read this I am in awe of her ability to organize the information in the previous books and connect it to events in succeeding books.  Little bits of information which seem to have little or no meaning are revealed and fit into later plots.

In this book, Harry has his biggest task of all.  He has to find the Deathly Hallows as well as the horcruxes.  The way is difficult and tests the character of not only Harry, but Ron and Hermione.  Everything is revealed and we get to see what Harry might have learned from Dumbledore if he hadn't died.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

365 Days of Slow-Cooking by Karen Bellessa Petersen

365 Days of Slow-Cooking365 Days of Slow-Cooking by Karen Bellessa Petersen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one great book!  There are good tips on slow-cooking as well as the recipes.  All  the recipes I have tried have very ordinary ingredients which you probably have on hand, so it's easy to plan these dishes in the morning before work.

There are some recipes that I never would have dreamed putting in a crock-pot but if you are going to be out all day they are helpful.  The author wasn't using her crock-pot, so she decided to try to use it for a week.  That turned out so well, she challenged herself to use it every day for a year.  While I don't think I will be using it for a year, I did find a lot of recipes that I plan to use.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly

Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore FollyHercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly by Agatha Christie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book had been lost and has been unpublished for 60 some years. It was written to help raise fund for stained glass windows for Christie's church. It was later remade into Dead Man's Folly which had a similar plot but different ending.

The story takes place at "Greenshore" and centers around an ancestral home and two murders. In the beginning, the reader learns that a beautiful Victorian Folly was built in an unappealing setting. The folly seems almost another character in the book, its pall hangs over everything. The new owner of Greenshore has a beautiful but simple minded wife and there is a fete begin given on the grounds. A murder role playing adventure has been planned by Ariadne Oliver, a great friend of Hercule Poirot. She asks Poirot to attend because she feels that there is something wrong in the situation and wants him to be available.

The players take on their roles, but suddenly it is more than a game when the pretend corpse is actually murdered and someone disappears. The crime is complex and so is the solution but most of it can be figured out.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

"Death of a Snob (Hamish Macbeth, #6)

Death of a Snob (Hamish Macbeth, #6)Death of a Snob by M.C. Beaton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a quick and easy book and the plot is fairly predictable, but the characters are always good and the Scottish Highlands are always interesting.  I listened to this on the new eaudiobooks from my library and found it was the perfect book to listen to while doing other things around the house.

Hamish Macbeth is the laid back constable in the village of Lochdubh. He is feeling sorry for himself because he has the flu and is alone at Christmas.  Priscilla asks him to spend the holidays at a health farm on one of the outer islands and see who it is that is trying to kill her friend.

There are numerous quirky characters staying for the holidays and Hamish has to sort through the various lies to arrive at the killer and motive.  From the beginning it is obvious who is to be killed.  I always love these obnoxious characters and delight in seeing them killed off.  I wonder why?  Is it just that we all wish to do away with certain characters in our lives and enjoy the victim by proxy?  Judging from the number of books that follow this formula, I am not the only one.

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Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Secret UFOs

Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Secret UFOsEncyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Secret UFOs by Donald J. Sobol
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another great book of deductive reasoning for kids.  I am using this in homeschool lessons on critical thinking.  Encyclopedia Brown has a detective agency and for a quarter, any kid can get him to solve a crime, check out a story, or tell if a sale is really a good deal.

Most of the mysteries can be solved by middle graders.  I only found one that a child would have to have some special knowledge that wasn't typical for this age group.

I enjoy using the books for deductive reasoning, but I wish there was another series for older kids.  Critical thinking is an important skill and it is sometimes hard to find ways to teach it.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6)Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am listening to this book for about the 6th time. I need a story which will carry me along without much effort and yet capture my interest and challenge me to see more than I saw the last time.  There are confusing times in my life when this comfort read is exactly what I need and Rowling and Jim Dale, the narrator, always deliver.

In this book, Harry finds a potions book from a former student and when he follows the instruction, he produces extraordinary results.  Hermione is deeply troubled by the book and insists that he turn it in.  Who is the Half-Blood Prince?

It is hard to review this book without giving the plot away, so I will stick to the generalities.  We learn a lot more about Tom Riddle and how he came to be Lord Voldemort.  The reader begins to have a little sympathy for him...until he reveals his cold bloodedness at such a young age.  It goes way beyond the mind of a schoolboy.

We get to see a lot more of the pensive and it begins to reveal the prequel to the stage that is set for Harry when he comes to Hogwarts.  I think the pensive is an absolutely brilliant device.  I would love to have one myself! Suddenly, Harry is there, seeing the people in the past as they were without being interpreted by flawed memories.  I think the memories also reveal the depth of Rowling's talent.  She has constructed these books as if she knew from the very beginning just where she was going every step of the way.  Tiny bits of information in book 1, come back in book 6 and their importance is revealed.  In fact, I think that is why I keep coming back to these books. I make connections that completely eluded me up to that point.  I am in awe of the depth of her organization for what is ostensibly juvenile fiction.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5)Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this book we see our three heros as teenagers, and they really are!  I think they are bickering and quarreling through the whole book!  I found it annoying, but so totally accurate for their age that it made me smile.  They are constantly at cross purposes and cross with each other.  In this book, the writing takes a much darker turn and younger kids who enjoyed the first four books may find this one a little too dark and dangerous.

The story starts with Ron and Hermoine knowing about the Order of the Phoenix and Harry being kept in the dark.  The problem is that Voldemort is back and he wants to kill Harry. The Order members know how much danger Harry is in and they want to protect him.  The Ministry of Magic is no help because they are determined to believe that Voldemort is not back despite all the evidence.

Voldemort also wants the prophecy concerning Harry Potter which is held at the Ministry of Magic down a dark corridor.  Harry is getting glimpses of what Voldemort sees as he works his evil.  This is helpful when the snake, Nagini, bites Mr. Weasley and leaves him is dying.  Harry is able to alert Professor Dumbledore and someone is at the Ministery of Magic immediately.  Since Harry is being kept out of a lot of the business of the Order, he is determined to find the prophecy himself.

The best part of this book is Delores Umbridge.  The Ministry of Magic is trying to squelch all rumors that Voldemort has returned and so they install Umbridge as the Defense against the Dark Arts teacher.  The Ministry doesn't believe the children should actually practice defensive spells because there is no need.  They believe that the students should read carefully edited text books about dark arts in the past.  Delores, however, in her fluffy pink everything, is just pure evil.  She's a villan you love to hate.  Every time Harry and crew do something, she has poor old Filch hammer up another decree on the wall.  Eventually, just about everything is banned, but the kids, of course, have found a way around the rules.

(Just a little note, the casting in the movie for the part of Delores Umbridge, I think, was wrong.  It would have been better to cast someone whose character was evil posing as someone who is good rather than the other way around.  Delores doesn't ring true until you have seen the movie a couple of times and have already identified with her as an evil person.)  

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Monday, April 07, 2014

Knitting the Chill Away: 39 Cozy Patterns for the Whole Family

Knitting the Chill Away: 39 Cozy Patterns for the Whole FamilyKnitting the Chill Away: 39 Cozy Patterns for the Whole Family by Martingale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This has some great patterns in it.  The All Occasion Bolero would be cute for one of the girls.  The star hat and scarf would be good for Christmas presents.  There is an Cabled cardigan which could be used as a base pattern for an Aran and a beautiful Icelandic sweater with colorwork on the yoke, bottom and sleeves.  The best pattern is an Aran hoodie which is perfect for the girls.  There is also a Fair Isle messenger bag which is very good looking.

For a really warm poncho there is a doubled colorwork cape with a matching snowflake hat which is very nice.  For an unusual twist, there is a cabled pocket scarf with 2 deep pockets and a matching stocking hat.  This would be great for a reader's scarf to carry a Kindle or iPod.  The Aran pattern on the hoodie is also shown as a hat as well.

In the techniques section there are good instructions for the long-tail cast on, cable cast on, and provisional cast on.  There are also the regular techniques for increasing, decreasing and finishing.  In all, I feel like it is worth the cost.

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Sunday, April 06, 2014

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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Thursday, April 03, 2014

Stolen Children

Stolen ChildrenStolen Children by Peg Kehret
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a book for early teens. Amy, age 14, takes a babysitting job and she the child she is babysitting for are kidnapped.  The kidnappers are pretty inept, but Amy uses her head to do what she can to get rescued.  The kidnappers take videos to send to the family in order to show that the girls are alive.  Amy attempts to give clues in the videos but the clues take a lot of interpreting. Amy has to manage to give clues as to where they are without the kidnappers knowing.  She uses her head to plant bits of information, but will the detectives know what she means?

This is one of those books you would want a young teen, especially one who is babysitting, to read.  Amy is responsible for 3 year old Kendra, and has to rely on herself to protect her.  She keeps her head and stays alert to every opportunity to escape.  She also manages to keep Kendra from being too afraid even when she herself doesn't know if they will be rescued.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Sentenced to Death (A Booktown Mystery, #5)

Sentenced to Death (A Booktown Mystery, #5)Sentenced to Death by Lorna Barrett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was ok as a cozy mystery but there are ways to make the characters more distinctive.  I listened to the book while driving from Virginia to Florida, and it was just about right for listening while traveling.  I might be a little more enthused about the book if I had read the earlier books first,  but this was available to download from my library to my Kindle.

The mystery begins with a Founder's Day celebration on the village green in front of a landmark gazebo.  Unfortunately, the airplane which is carrying the Founder's Day banner crashes into the Gazebo killing Debora, Tricia's good friend.  Everyone begins to get suspicious when her husband, sells her store, parcels out his son to Debora's mother, cremates the body and brings a date the non/memorial of his wife 2 days after she was killed.

Soon, there are other deaths, each one leading Tricia to the identity of the murderer.  I found it a little difficult to tell some of these people apart, but as I said, it might be because I didn't read the first book.

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Death of a Witch (Hamish Macbeth, #25)

Death of a Witch (Hamish Macbeth, #25)Death of a Witch by M.C. Beaton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The latest Hamish Macbeth book is a good one.  Lockdubh has a resident witch and she is creating havoc in the life of the village.  Several men have been seen leaving her house late and night and the women are furious.  Soon there is a murder and Hamish is left to solve the mystery while Inspector Blair, who has made a career of trying to get rid of Hamish, muddies the waters in his rush to judgement.  There are a number of subplots, but they all come together nicely except for one.  I was a little disappointed in the ending.  Actually, the ending of the main mystery is wound up nicely, but there is a sub plot that seems to be tacked on.   Even though it is mentioned earlier in the book, it could have been left off, and probably should have.

I have read this before, but I spent the day traveling between Virginia and Florida and it was nice to listen to on the trip.  Fortunately for me, I didn't remember who did the crime, so it was like new to of the perks of a failing memory.

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Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus (Theodosia Throckmorton, Book #3)

Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus (Theodosia Throckmorton, Book #3)Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus by R.L. LaFevers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the third adventure of Theodosia and I think it is the best.  Theodosia gets involved with another Egyptian, this time a magician named Awi Bubu, who is trying to find the powerful artifacts which she has found inadvertently.  In this book, Theodosia has the help of a number of street urchins as well as her brother, Henry.  She also learns something shocking about her grandmother and hints about Theodosia’s heritage.

I am using this series for Homeschool and they are great!  The content provides a look at Egyptian history as well as the Victorian era.  More than that though is the habits of the main character.  She is able to feel the evil spirits and curses which emanate from many of the artifacts in her father’s museum and she finds a way to remove or neutralize many of them.  Her first step is to do a lot of research at the museum library and then use ingenuity to develop the counter to the curses.  In order to research better, she has been teaching herself the ancient languages.  Theodosia approaches her problems the way that I wish all kids could.  Her research is born out of her natural curiosity and she applies what she learns to her own life.

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