Friday, March 31, 2017


Review of The Art of Beatrix Potter: Sketches, Paintings, and Illustrations by Emily Zach


The Art of Beatrix Potter: Sketches, Paintings, and Illustrations by Emily Zach

Published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter's birth, this magnificent collection celebrates the artist behind The Tale of Peter Rabbit and numerous other beloved children's books. Brimming with famous images and rarely seen gems—ranging from character sketches and notebook pages to watercolor landscapes and natural history illustrations—this monograph explores Potter's artistic process and reveals the places that inspired her timeless work. Organized geographically and featuring more than 200 images from the artist's oeuvre, The Art of Beatrix Potter includes illuminating essays by Potter scholar Linda Lear, illustration historian Steven Heller, and children's book illustrator Eleanor Taylor. It is the definitive volume on one of the world's most influential authors, a woman whose artistry, until now, has not been fully celebrated.
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published November 22nd 2016 by Chronicle Books
ISBN145215127X (ISBN13: 9781452151274)

Leona's review:

This is a beautiful, hardcover, coffee table book. The drawings takes one to English gardens, and I loved the drawings of the animals and small creatures. Page 194 has "Studies of Kep, the collie". c1907, done in pencil and watercolor. The mouse, page 79 is really cute. There are landscapes as well as indoor and outdoor scenes. There are drawings of plants as well as archaeological tools and bones. (page 127)

I did not know Beatrix Potter was an artist as well as an author. Her books have  been read and cherished for many years.  I personally think of Peter Rabbit and Mr. McGregor when I think of Beatrix Potter. A wonderful book about a woman, her life and her talents.

From page 154. The next page is the art of the gardens done in pencil, pen-and-ink, sepia ink and watercolor. The colors are soft with some red flowers that stand out. There is a garden gate and a pathway with the cat sleeping.

"The Garden at Fawe Park, with visiting cat, unused background for The of Benjamin Bunny, 1903.
In August, the Potter family spent another summer on Derwentwater at Fawe Park, a less formal estate neighboring Lingholm, but still an easy trip to the shores of the lake. The large house was beautiful and comfortable, and Potter was taken by its gardens. With formal flowerbeds and landscaping bordering three sides of the house, the estate also contained orchards and productive kitchen gardens down the hillside toward the lake. Potter gathered her watercolors  and sketches in the Derwentwater sketchbook she had begun, preparing the setting for her next "rabbit book".
Using the Fawe Park gardens for Mr. McGregor's garden in this sequel to The Tale of Peter Rabbit, she portrays Peter and his cousin Benjamin Bunny setting out, while Mr. and Mrs. McGregor went away, to rescue Peter's clothes from the scarecrow that now wears his blue jacket and slippers. That task complete, the two decide to take a present of onions back to old Mrs. Rabbit, but they are soon trapped under a basket by an unknowing cat. The rescuers become the rescued as old Mr. Benjamin Bunny comes upon them and chases the cat away. The naughty bunnies are given a whipping but old Mrs. Rabbit forgives Peter when she sees he has brought back his shoes and coat, as well as the gift of  the onions, which she strings up with her herbs and "rabbit-tobacco".(lavender)"
Foreword: Beatrix Potter's Artistic Spell by Steven Heller    page 6
Introduction: Observation and Imagination by Linda Lear  page 8
A Sense of Place: The Art and geography of Beatrix Potter page 11
Part One: Becoming Beatrix Potter page 17
Part Two: London and the South  Coast page 57
Part Three: Scotland page 93
part Four: The Lake District page 137
part Five: Wales and Beyond page 221
Afterword: An Illustrator's World by Elizabeth Taylor page 240
                 Acknowledgments page 242
                 Bibliography page 243
                 Image Credits  page 245
                 Index page 250
I won a complimentary copy of The Art of Beatrix Potter from LibraryThing and Chronicle Books. The opinions are my own.
I give it a 5 star plus. It really is a beautiful book.
Easter is coming and this would make an excellent book, along with the Peter Rabbit books for the Easter basket for a child or an adult. A gift like this can be read and re-read for many years.
It can also a gift for yourself or someone in your life on any occasion.
Leona Olson

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Review of Bayou Wolf by Debbie Herbert


Bayou Wolf by Debbie Herbert

From the back of the book.
The taming of the shrew… 
Tallulah Silver is tough. She has to be—because she's the Choctaw tribe's only female shadow hunter, and because she doesn't know how else to survive the loss that almost destroyed her. Payton Rodgers has devoted his life to protecting his pack. But when mauled bodies start to pile up in the bayou, Payton begins to wonder if Tallulah might be right about werewolves deserving the blame. As darkness gathers around them, Tallulah will have to decide if she can risk opening herself up to love again. And Payton will have to determine where his true loyalties lie.

Leona's Review:
First, I will say I am not usually into these types of books but this was a winner.  It was a stand alone book even though are previous books in this series. I will have to read the other books. They are Bayou Shadow Hunter and Bayou Shadow Protector.
Tallulah Silver was a very feisty woman (sorry, Debbie. I used this word and then re-read your opening statement to the readers. I still will use it).  I liked her as a main character and also Payton Rodgers.  Payton and his crew are lumberjacks and were hired to clear trees at Bayou La Siryna, Alabama; Tallulah is trying to protect the trees. She becomes a problem to Payton right away.
Tallulah is a shadow hunter and Payton is the leader of the pack of werewolves.
This is a supernatural book with werewolves, deaths, some customs and legends of the Choctaw and romance.
I received a complimentary copy from the author, Debbie Herbert. The opinions are my own.
I will give Bayou Wolf a 5 star rating and its definitely a re-read for me.
Debbie Herbert is a author.
Leona Olson

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Review of Silent Night Man by Diana Palmer

Book review of Silent Night Man by Diana Palmer.

Silent Night Man by Diana Palmer

This Christmas, New York Times bestselling author Diana Palmer revisits a tale of danger and true love under the mistletoe…What does Millie Evans want in her stocking for Christmas? Just one thing…to feel safe. Even though her stalker is dead, he arranged for a hit man to kill her. Now the special government agent Millie has loved from afar for years has vowed to protect her. The man of her dreams seems finally within her grasp… In order to keep Millie safe, Tony Danzetta moves the prim librarian into his home. He insists on keeping her in sight 24/7, but their proximity causes Tony to question what he really wants for the holidays. Can the agent resign himself to keeping Millie at arm's length—or can their secret connection blossom into a real happily-ever-after?
Leona's Review:
This is a re-read of Silent Night Man for me. It is a fast read, only 120 pages, and so things move quickly. I wanted to re-read so I could do a review.
Tony has Millie move into his place so he can protect her. His friend, John, had been a stalker of Millie, unknown to Tony. He had originally blamed her for the suicide death of John. Now, he knew there was a death contract out for Millie and she needed protection.
Millie had worked with the foster mother of Tony and knew a lot of Tony, but not the whole story of his youth. She had been in love with him for years and he had no interest.
There is some sexual content but very little. No bad language.
I loved the ending of the book. 
I am giving this a 4 star rating as I liked the book.
Diana Palmer may be found at
Leona Olson

Friday, March 17, 2017

Life into Mist by Haidji

Life into Mist by Haidji
From the back of the book:
Life into Mist is a story about life, love, pain and wishes.
...that creates images in a reader's mind, as would each word
be a brushstroke inside the paintings of your imagination.
Leona's Review:
This was a poetic book that made me feel the ocean and her paint brushstrokes. Characters are added all the time and fit into the story.
My feelings is that I thought it was the end of one's life but another review thought it was the beginning.
I am sure when I re-read Life into Mist, I will  see something different.
It was somewhat strange to me but easy flowing.
I will give it star rating because it was different.
I received a complimentary from the author, Haidji, and LibraryThing.
Haidji is a writer, artist, painter, designer, photographer, performer.
She calls herself  "just Haidji".
Leona Olson


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Review of Age of Myth J. Sullivan

Review of Age of Myth  by Michael J. Sullivan
From the back of the book:
Michael J. Sullivan's trailblazing career began with the breakout success of his Riyria series: full-bodied, spellbinding fantasy adventures whose imaginative scope and sympathetic characters won a devoted readership. Now, Sullivan's stunning hardcover debut, Age of Myth, inaugurates an original five-book series, and one of fantasy's finest next-generation storytellers continues to break new ground.

Since time immemorial, humans have worshipped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god falls to a human blade, the balance of power between men and those they thought were gods changes forever. Now, only a few stand between humankind and annihilation: Raithe, reluctant to embrace his destiny as the God Killer, Suri, a young seer burdened by signs of impending doom, and Persephone, who must overcome personal tragedy to lead her people. The Age of Myth is over; the time of rebellion has begun.
Leona's Review:
This is my first read by Michael J. Sullivan and so I was not familiar with his writings.
It took me some time to get to know the characters but the back of the book has a glossary of terms and names and that was a great help.
This is the first book of the Legends of the First Empire fantasy series.  Age of Myth, Age of Swords, Age of  War, Age of Legends and Age of Empire. The author has written all the books in this series and they will be released "in a timely" manner.
The book begins with Raithe and his father approached by a god who demands to know why they are here.   He has two servants with him; one servant, Malcolm, becomes one of the main characters.
I have to say this is a hard book to review with so much happening with the different characters, friendship, battles and
It is a fantasy book that is well written. I give if a 5 star rating. I will say becuase I usually  do not read these books, I will give it another read before the next book comes out so I am familiar with the characters and happenings. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Roman Mask by Thomas M. D. Brooke


Review of Roman Mask by Thomas M. D. Brooke

It is Rome AD 9 and Augustus Caesar rules Imperial Rome at the height of its power, as the Roman Empire stretches across the known world. Cassius, son of one of her most powerful families, is the personification of Rome's imperial strength: wealthy, popular, a war hero with a decorated military career - none of Rome's fashionable parties are complete without him - except, he hides a secret. After his nerve is broken in Germany, the thought of genuine armed combat is enough to send him into a cold sweat of fear and shame. But this doesn't dissuade him from living off a false reputation so he can continue a life of casual affairs, wine, and parties, as he is seduced by the many vices of Rome. However his scandalous life is soon upset by a summons from the Emperor's wife. It ends his happy decadent life and returns him to Germany to assist the Roman legions in their greatest ever trial, and the events that will resound down in history, in the dark forests of the Teutoburg.

Leona's Review:

A book about Cassius Aprilis, a son of a wealthy and powerful family. He is considered a war hero with a military career but he holds a secret that bothers him. His life has been one of leisure but it changes when he is summoned by Livia, wife of Princeps Augustus to go back to Germany to assist the Roman legions.

I found this book somewhat slow at the beginning but stayed with it.  A lot of Latin words, names of the characters, battle names and names of places. As a reader, I found myself taking notes and searched for more information.

Roman Mask begins in Rome AD 9 and Augustus Caesar is the emperor at this time. The author also had historical names such as Julius Arminius, Someone who was a German Prince who lived in Rome and was a friend of Cassius, Angrivaril tribesmen who were Germanic of the early Roman Empire, Quintus Varus who was the governor of the new Roman province of Germany and the Teutoburg Forest which was the place of the battle.

There is a historical note at the end of the book. There is a map in the front of the book which is always helpful. I do wish there had been a list of characters in the book.
Thomas M. D. Brooke may be reached at There is an interview with him about the book, Roman Mask for one.

For those interested in Roman history or historical places, this is a good read. I won a copy of Roman Mask by Thomas M. D. Brooke from goodreads. The opinions are my own.

I give this book a 5 star rating because of the research and I learned some historical facts.
I also found some good information on

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Review of From This moment by Elizabeth Camden

From This Moment by Elizabeth Camden

ISBN 10: 0764217216 | ISBN 13: 9780764217210


Romulus White has tried for years to hire illustrator Stella West for his renowned scientific magazine. She is the missing piece he needs to propel his magazine to the forefront of the industry.
But Stella abruptly quit the art world and moved to Boston with a single purpose: to solve the mysterious death of her beloved sister. Romulus, a man with connections to high society and every important power circle in the city, could be her most valuable ally.
Sparks fly the instant Stella and Romulus join forces, and Romulus soon realizes the strong-willed and charismatic Stella could disrupt his hard-won independence. Can they continue to help each other when their efforts draw the wrong kind of attention from the powers-that-be and put all they’ve worked for at risk?

Leona's Review:

One of the best Christian Historical books I have read in a long time. This is my first read by Elizabeth Camden and I will definitely read her books again.

The building of the Boston Subway is part of this book and historical happenings. I always like to read of historical events and the author has included many such as the typewriter, gummed envelopes and elevators. I like to research such mentions so I have included some information at the bottom of the review. 
The book is dated March 1897 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Stella has come to Boston to find the killer of her sister, Gwendolyn. The police has declared that she had drowned but Stella knew she was an excellent swimmer. They had been exchanging letters and Gwendolyn had written about corruption in City Hall.

Romulus tries his best to get her to do some drawing for the magazine, Scientific World which is owned by Romulus and his cousin, Evelyn.
Stella agrees to do one project for him if he will help her with connections to City Hall and others. Stella is determined to find why and how her sister died.
The book includes special relationships of Stella and Romulus as well as his cousin and her husband, Evelyn and Clyde. The parents of Stella and Gwendolyn also pay an important role in the book.
At times, Stella questions her faith in God. Stella sees a photograph of a woman who has lost her husband but went on to do her dream of helping others in India.. "It seemed Mrs. Grosjean peered out of the photograph, straight into the moral failings of Stella's soul. Do you love God only when he is good to you?" (page 245)
Stella uses her talent to draw pictures of the "sandhogs". " It was a simple charcoal sketch of three sandhogs working on the street below. One man sat on the edge of the subway trench, and two others leaned against shovels as they took a rest from the backbreaking work. There was a rough dignity to their faces, a strength of character in the musculature of their necks, faces, and strong hands as they held the shovels. It was a tough, gritty work that garnered little respect, yet Stella had imbued them with the dignity and heroism rarely afforded such men. They were men working to forge the future, laying a foundation fro generations to come. Long after these men were dead and buried, their children and grandchildren would be riding on the subway they had built." (page 126)
The reading is easy and quick even with so much happening. The reader will find some strong characters in both the men and women.
I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishers to read and review. The opinions are my own.
I give From This Moment a 5 star rating.
Elizabeth Camden may be reached at
Leona Olson
Notes on the typewriter, gummed envelopes and elevators which I found interesting:
From: Finally, in 1867, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin printer-publisher-politician named Christopher Latham Sholes, with assistance from Carlos Glidden and Samuel Soule, patented what was to be the first useful typewriter.

From: It wasn’t until the invention of the self-gumming envelope machine that envelope production really took off. A man by the name of James Green Arnold took the envelope folding machine to the next level when he added a brush that would apply the gum to the envelopes seal. This step was previously done by hand.  Unfortunately Arnold’s design was never put into production. It wasn’t until two brothers by the name of  D. Wheeler Swift and Henry Swift took Arnold’s design and perfected it. In 1876 the Swift Chain Dryer Machine was born. One of the main difference in this machine was that it was constructed of metal, not wood, like the Arnold design.

It wasn’t until the 1870s, when elevators showed up in office buildings, that the technology really started to leave a mark on urban culture.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Review of Rewritng History by Vera Dodge

Review of Rewriting history by Vera Dodge
From the back of the book:
Mary’s Mystery Bookshop is hosting a very special guest: beloved mystery author Addison Hartley. Hartley gives an intimate reading to the fans gathered in the story, but Mary’s eyes are drawn not to the famous author but to a familiar face in the crowd. Could it be Mary’s best friend from childhood, Claire Wilkes? As soon as Mary moves to greet her old friend, the woman disappears. Mary is certain it was Claire, but no one else seems to have recognized her and Mary begins to doubt herself. But when Mary reads Hartley’s new novel, she finds eerie parallels to her own history. And when terrible rumors surface around town about a secret relationship between Claire and Mary’s husband John, Mary is more determined than ever to track down Claire. What brought her to Mary’s store? When did she run away? What was her connection to the best-selling novel? And, more importantly, were the rumors about Claire and Mary’s husband true?
Leona's Review:
This is my first read by Vera Dodge and my first read of the Secrets of Mary's Bookshop series.  Rewriting History is book #2 of the series. On, there is a list of 16 books in this series and by several different authors so I am gathering the books are all stand alone reads, as this one was.
Mary is a widow and has bought a bookstore in the small town of Ivy bay that will take the reader to the similar area of Cape Cod.  She lives with her sister, Betty.
At one of the book signings at her bookstore, she thinks she sees an old friend. The book written by Addison Hartley, is so similar to her life and details of the friendship between her, her husband and her friend.
No murder in this mystery but a mystery of what really happened 40 years ago in the lives of the three and why the friendship ended.
The book flows easily and has other characters such as a pastor and his grandson, the employee at the bookstore and her daughter and the sister of Mary. I can see  other books follow up on some of the other characters.
I like the scenery descriptions of the area.  At the back of the book is a recipe for chocolate covered pretzel ice cream that sounds good.
Mary prays often in the book asking for guidance and the prayers to me are something many of us do on a routine basis.  This is a book about sister love, the  loss of and finding friendship, loss of a husband, good friends and a hope for the future.
There is "A Conversation with Vera Dodge" at the back of the book that is interesting.
I bought this book at Goodwill.  I will probably read other books in the series.
It is published by Guidepost Publications.
I give this a 4 star rating.
Leona Olson

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Review of President Trump Sells California by Duke. Q. Wallace

President Trump Sells California
A short political satire in which a President Trump nationalizes the Girl Scouts, privatizes the Supreme Court, and sells the state of California—his way of paying off the Federal debt. Nine brief chapters, each one resolving a real national issue with an excess of creativity and zeal. What happens when the zeal is spent? 

Leona's Review

I won this book from and the opinions are my own.

Not my kind of humor. The book was really not funny to me. I can vote for a liar and one who has memory loss or a bigmouth.
I will give it a 3 star because there were some ideas that might work.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Review of The Inheritance by Michael Phillips

 Review of The Inheritance by Michael Phillips

From The back of the book.

The death of clan patriarch Macgregor Tulloch has thrown the tiny Shetland Islands community of Whales Reef into turmoil. Everyone assumed Tulloch's heir to be his much-loved grandnephew David. But when no will is discovered, David's calculating cousin Hardy submits his own claim to the inheritance, an estate that controls most of the island's land. And Hardy knows a North Sea oil investor who will pay dearly for that control. 

While the competing claims are investigated, the courts have frozen the estate's assets, leaving many of the locals in dire financial straits. The future of the island--and its traditional way of life--hangs in the balance.

Meanwhile, Loni Ford enjoys a rising career in a large investment firm in Washington, D.C. Yet, in spite of outward success, she is privately plagued by questions of identity. Orphaned as a young child, she was raised by her grandparents, and while she loves them dearly, she feels completely detached from her roots. That is, until a mysterious letter arrives from a Scottish solicitor. . . .

Past and present collide in master storyteller Michael Phillips' dramatic new saga of loss and discovery, of grasping and grace.

Leona's Review:
This is my first read by Michael Phillips and I look forward to the other books in this series.
The major characters are David Tulloch and Alonnah Ford who prefers to be called Loni.
The Scottish dialect is used through out the book and I rather liked it; it helped bring the book right to Scotland. Words like dinna, ken, ye, aboot, canna and nae.
The novel begins in June 1924, then late Summer 2005, November 2005, Winter 2005-2006, Summer 2006, July 2006, October 1953 and ends with July 2006.
The book goes back and forth between the Scottish characters and the United States' characters but flows smoothly.
The book is dedicated to Patrick Jeremy Phillips.
There is a map of Whales Reef, Shetland Islands, in the front of the book as well as the Tulloch Clan Family Tree.
I found it an interesting and easy read.
I received a complimentary copy of The Inheritance by Michael Phillips to read and review from Bethany House a division of Baker Publishing Group. The opinions are my own.
More information about Michael Phillips at
and also
I will give this a 5 star rating because of the history and clean book.
Leona Olson

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Review of Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine


Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1) by Rachel Caine (Goodreads author)
In an exhilarating new series, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time.…

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When his friend inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn…

Leona's review:

This is my first read by Rachel Caine. My interest was the Great Library of Alexandria of Egypt. This book is about books.

The book starts with Jess Brightwell, who is a runner,  a smuggler of books as original books are no longer allowed to be owned. His father, Callum, gets the illegal books and his sons, Jess and Brendan, smuggle them to the purchasers. Jess' older brother, Liam died when he was a runner.

Jess is sent to the Library for training to be a scholar. He is also sent by his father to be a spy. There he meets the other students.
The teenagers are around the age of 16 and most of the story is with them as the main characters.

Khalia Seif is from the Middle East and the smartest of all of them, Thomas Schreiber is from Berlin and has a creative mind, Glain Wathen is Welsh and hard to get to know, Dario Santiago is Spanish and the roommate of Jess and Morgan Haute who is from war torn London.
The main adult characters are Scholar Christopher Wolfe, who is their instructor and their guard, Captain Nicolo Santi.

This book begins in London in the year 2025. Both the past, the Great Library and the future, no books allowed, are part the story; it is fantasy/historical. The Library of Alexandria still exists as well as steam carriages

The author uses many quotes. One is "Knowledge is All" (Tota est Scientia).  It seems that books are more important than the lives of people.
Some words you will find in Ink and Bone are: Codex, Greek fire (a toxic flammable liquid), weapons, war, death, knowledge, America, power, rule, library, text, Serapeum, Mirroring of Books, Johannes Gutenberg, alchemy, archivist and automata.

I found some historical names such as  Descates and Callimachus. This book has encouraged me to do more research on history.
A quote from Rene Descartes: "The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries."
More information on Callimachus may be found at:

I am a note taker and I took 9 pages of notes on a 5 " X 7" pad of paper.  I will keep them handy for reading the second book of this series, Paper and Ink which is scheduled to be out July 5, 2016.

I liked this book. The language was fine and the only romance was soft. I found the characters change attitudes as the book progressed and the characters grew. I liked some of the characters more than others but the book gives each their own personality.

If you like books and some history and some fantasy, this is the book for you. It is a YA (young adult) but good for adults and children who like to read. There are somewhat graphic scenes but not bad. I like a clean book and this was a good read for me.

It reminded me of Fahrenheit 451.

I will give it a 5 start rating. I was unaware it was the first book of a series so I felt it left me hanging but look forward to the next one.

I won Ink and Bone from goodreads to read and review. The opinions are my own.

Rachel Caine may be reached at
Leona Olson

Friday, March 11, 2016

Creative Writing For People Who Can't Not Write by Kathryn Lindskoog
This is on the back book cover:

"Crammed with crucial facts, ideas, and warnings never before brought together into clear focus, this guide is not only fun to read, but also work-boots practical. Not only inspiring, but pinch-penny accurate. Not only optimistic, but report-card candid. Not only kindly, but tattle-tale frank. It is an energizing tonic for writers' weary brain cells. Every writer is important. Creative Writing for People Who Can't Not Write is a book for every writer. Topics in this lively blend of advice, inspiration, and scholarly wit include: - the wonder of creativity - getting published, paid, and read - why writing should be impossible - how to avoid looking foolish in print - a sugar-coated history of the whimsical, word-rich English language - the nature of poetry - the sixteen writer-type temperaments - reflections from contemporary writers on their work - a first-ever collation of pages of advice from C.S. Lewis. Lewis once wrote to Lindskoog, "If you understand me so well, you will understand other authors, too." Writers who read Creative Writing for People Who Can't Not Write will agree with Lewis' assessment of Kathryn Lindskoog's insight into the writing life. And this book also passes Lindskoog's own test: "A good writer is a graceful guest in a reader's brain." "

I picked up this book at a sale and thought it sounded interesting.  The cover has The Thinker holding a book. 

"The Thinker
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Le Penseur in the garden of the Rodin Museum, PhiladelphiaThe Thinker (French: Le Penseur) is a bronze sculpture by Auguste Rodin, usually placed on a stone pedestal. The work shows a nude male figure of over life-size sitting on a rock with his chin resting on one hand as though deep in thought, and is often used as an image to represent philosophy. There are about 28 full size castings, in which the figure is about 186 centimetres (73 in) high, though not all were made during Rodin's lifetime and under his supervision, as well as various other versions, several in plaster, studies, and posthumous castings, in a range of sizes. Rodin first conceived the figure as part of another work in 1880, but the first of the familiar monumental bronze castings did not appear until 1904."
A very good read not only for those who want to write but for those already an author.
I especially liked the chapters English, The Marvelous Mess and Writer Types.
The author met C. S. Lewis and was very impressed with him.
I read every word and learned so much about people and their writings.
The book was dedicated to Walter Zadrozny and Ranelda Hunsicker,  First My Students, Then My Friends and Teachers.
I will give this a 5 star rating.
Epigraph; Written to That End
 An original collection of data and insights about the human mind and how we create.
 Why writing should be impossible. The basic essentials of good writing, and the costs and compromise   involved.
 Ways to avoid looking foolish: sidestepping booby traps from misspellings  to overwriting.
 How to show, not tell, and the power of wet prose. Color, texture, sound, smell, taste and weight in words at work and words at play.
 A quick look at the languages of the world, and a sugar-coated history of English- the strangest of them all.
 Writing poems, puzzles, and preachments that please the ear, tease the brain, and ease the heart.
Chapter 7: A FOOT IN TH DOOR
 Ideas about writing; ideas about getting published, paid and read; and ideas about getting more ideas.
 An introduction to the sixteen temperament types; how we perceive life and make choices.
 Reflections from real writers, each one making a key point about the writing life.
 A collection of pithy advice to writers from Lewis's personal correspondence with friends and strangers.
Appendix: Pure Poppycock
The author passed away in 2003.
Leona Olson

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Review of The Secret To Hummingbird Cake



The Secret To Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale.

In the South you always say “yes, ma’am” and “no, ma’am.” You know everybody’s business. Football is a lifestyle not a pastime. Food—especially dessert— is almost a religious experience. And you protect your friends as fiercely as you protect your family— even if the threat is something you cannot see.
In this spot-on Southern novel brimming with wit and authenticity, you’ll laugh alongside lifelong friends, navigate the sometimes rocky path of marriage, and roll through the outrageous curveballs that life sometimes throws . . . from devastating pain to absolute joy. And if you’re lucky, you just may discover the secret to hummingbird cake along the way.

I received a complimentary copy of this book to read and review from Thomas Nelson Publishers.  The opinions are my own.

A sensitive story of three very close friends and part their lives. One of the main characters has cancer and we struggle, along with the friends, with her disease.
The three friends are Carrigan, Laine and Ella Rae. There are other important characters in the book and all are a special part of the book.

I warn those who have lost a loved one or close friend, it is a hard read so keep the tissues handy. I lost my husband to this disease and found it especially hard to read but real in so many places in the book.

I am not sure if most of us has this kind of friendship but we would wish we did. I did like the book and the closeness of the characters.

It is Southern in the book and will remind the readers of things they also did when they were young. The characters are in their 30s.

There are laughs. Carrigan asks the minister if he knew the difference between Catholics and Baptists.  He said he did not. "Catholics  speak to each other in the liquor store. "   "He was not amused."  I  am from a small West Texas town and remember the boys climbing the water tower and marking it.  I am also a Catholic and know the Baptists are strong in their beliefs about liquor and cards. The Baptists in my town were sure our priest sinned as he played cards.

The Secret of the Hummingbird Cake will come in the book; keep reading. My mother made this cake often.

I have decided to give it a 5 star rating.
One thing I have found are the words " No time limit on grief" are true.
There are discussion questions at the back of the book.
One question is: " Do you think food actually tastes better if you prepare for those you love?"

Paperback, 304 pages
Expected publication: February 9th 2016 by Thomas Nelson
Celeste Fletcher McHale may be reached at
Leona Olson

Monday, December 28, 2015

Review of That Summer Place

Review of That Summer Place

I liked Old Things by Jill Barnett with the two daughters and the island's "handyman", someone from Catherine's past and will give it a 4 star. Two teenage girls on an island without TV can lead to a boring time. It was about love and memories. Some sexual content but no bad language.

Debbie Macomber knows how to write. Her Private Paradise with two strangers and their children was a fun read. A friend of Beth, a main character, says "God doesn't close a door without opening a window" but Beth  responds with " Unfortunately a seagull just flew in that open window and pooped right on the carpet". It looks like they text each other all the time because at the beginning of the chapters there are messages to each other.  A clean read and one that brings hope. As always, I give her writings a 5 star.

The third read is from Susan Wiggs and it is Island Time. It is my first read from her and I liked it but the sex was a little fast for me. This read is all about the area of Spruce Island and what nature has to offer. Makes you want to go there and see the beauty. It was a fun read about two different people, one who is so tied up with work habits and the other is more free living and sees the glass half full.

These are short reads about  Rainshadow Lodge a, Victorian mansion on an island, and the stories about the people who stay there for a month.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Review of Whispers in the Reading Room by Shelley Gray

Book review of Whispers in the Reading Room
by Shelly Gray 

From the back of the book:

Whispers in the Reading Room
The Chicago World’s Fair Mystery Series
By Shelley Shepard Gray
Published by Zondervan

Just months after the closure of the Chicago World’s Fair, librarian Lydia Bancroft finds herself fascinated by a mysterious dark-haired and dark-eyed patron. He has never given her his name; he actually never speaks to a single person. All she knows about him is that he loves books as much as she does.

Only when he rescues her in the lobby of the Hartman Hotel does she discover that his name is Sebastian Marks. She also discovers that he lives at the top of the prestigious hotel and that most everyone in Chicago is intrigued by him.

Lydia and Sebastian form a fragile friendship, but when she discovers that Mr. Marks isn’t merely a very wealthy gentleman, but also the proprietor of an infamous saloon and gambling club, she is shocked.

Lydia insists on visiting the club one fateful night and suddenly is a suspect to a murder. She must determine who she can trust, who is innocent, and if Sebastian Marks—the man so many people fear—is actually everything her heart believes him to be.

Leona's Review:

This is the first book I have read by Shelley Gray and I was not disappointed.

Lydia works at the library and one of her patrons is a gentleman who comes to read; he never speaks to anyone and does not check out books.

She sees him at the Hartman Hotel where she is having tea with her fiance, Jason Avondale.  Lydia notices the stranger from the library and Jason becomes jealous as he also notices the man also. There is an incident and Jason leaves, breaking the engagement. Lydia's mother wants Lydia to marry into society so they can regain their social status so she is not happy.

This is also a murder mystery as well as a romance novel.  God is mentioned many times and the language is clean. I found it an interesting page turner read.

The Chicago World's Fair has ended but is still part of the book as a setting. This is the first I have read of The Chicago World's Fair books but it is a stand alone read. The others are Secrets of Sloane House and Deception on Sable Hill. I look forward to also reading these books.

Other characters in the book that I liked were Bridget O'Connell and Vincent Hunt, both employees of Sebastian Marks. Everyone has a past which helps makes the characters even more interesting.

From the author, Shelley Gray: "This book is all about friendship. With that in mind, it's dedicated to Julie Stone.  Thank you for being such a kind and steadfast friend! Thank you for touring Chicago with me... and then doing it over and over again, looking forward to years of collecting passport stamps together,  where that may be!"

This book would be a nice gift for a friend or family member for Christmas or a birthday.

I received a complimentary copy of Whispers in the reading Room from Zondervan to read and review. The opinions are my own. I give it a 5 star rating.

About the Author: (from description of the book)

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail. Find Shelley on her website,, on Facebook: ShelleyShepardGray, and on Twitter @ShelleySGray.

You may also find her on at

Leona Olson


Friday, October 16, 2015

Review of The Silken Web by Sandra Brown

Book  Review of The Silken Web by Sandra Brown

Leona's Review:

I have had this book on my book shelf and decided it was time to read it. I almost stopped reading it a couple of times and about one-third of the way into the book, it improved for me. I was not ready for just sex and no substance in a book.

Kathleen and Erik meet at a child camp; she is camp director and he is a videographer. Kathleen is an orphan and spend many years at this camp as a child and is close to the owners.

Kathleen has never been with a man but that is changed in a couple of days of their meeting. 
Erik is in an airplane crash and as Kathleen waits at the hospital, she hears a woman tell the nurse she is Mrs. Gudjonsen, assumes she is his wife and leaves town to escape from him.
Her new life in San Francisco is her escape and there she meets Seth Kirchoff, the owner of the store and so Kathleen continues a job that is in her line of work which is fashion.

The book continues with a new beginning for Kathleen and Seth. Erik does enter the picture after a time period.
This is a good romance and some emotional scenes. There are also some sexual scenes and some bad language.  Thankfully, no "f" words.
I will say that on page 72 (paperback) the American flag is mentioned and I did like that.
I am giving it a 4 star rating because it did get better and I liked most of the characters.
Sandra Brown many be contacted at and on
Leona Olson



Thursday, October 15, 2015

Review of 52 Little Lessons from A Christmas Carol by Bob Welch

52 Little Lessons from A Christmas Carol
By Bob Welch
Published by Thomas Nelson

Medallion Award-winner Bob Welch crafts 52 nuggets of Bible-based wisdom from one of the most popular novels of all time, A Christmas Carol. "For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself." "No space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunity misused." "God bless us, every one." The lessons and stories from the beloved novel A Christmas Carol point to bedrock values we all share. Award-winning author Bob Welch takes readers deeper into the nuances of this classic by Charles Dickens. From the miserliness of Scrooge to the innocence of Tiny Tim, 52 Little Lessons from A Christmas Carol will inspire readers to live for what really matters, not only at Christmas, but all year long.
Leona's Review:
52 Little Lessons from A Christmas Carol gave me a different look into this classic book. I have not read it for years and will re-read now. I happen to find Treasury of Christmas Tales at Goodwill last  week which has stories that could be used for the very young children. Published by Publications International, LTD. For the older children get the original book which can be downloaded for free or buy the book which would be easier to read and discuss. 52 Little Lessons of A Christmas Carol is published by Nelson Publishers, a division of Thomas Nelson Publishers and can be found in book stores.
The "lessons" are short but to the point. Charles Dickens has send messages to everyone and 52 Little Lessons from A Christmas Carol  tells of many values, some of which we may know we have and some we did not know we had and how we can add some different values to our own life.
Bob Welch has taken these lesson and put them into a wonderful book than may be read more than one time. The book does not have to be read all at once but can be a lesson or two at a time.
Before each chapter/lesson, there are 52, is a quote from the story and a few from a movie.
Lesson 10-  YOU MAKE THE CHAINS THAT SHACKLE YOU and the quote is "I wear  the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on my own free will." from The Ghost of Jacob Marley, to Scrooge.
Lesson 25-BITTERNESS WILL POISON YOU  and the quote is "Who suffers by his own whims. Himself, always." By Fred, regarding his uncle during the Ghost of Christmas Present visit.
Lesson 52- BE THE CANGE YOU WILL WANT  TO SEE  and the quote from Lord Francis Jerry, in a letter to Dickens after A Christmas Carol was published in 1843 is " We are all charmed with your Carol, chiefly, I think, for the genuine goodness which breathes all through it, and is the true inspiring angel by which its genius has awakened."
There is a List of Characters at the front of the book and also Author's Notes. "To those who, like Scrooge, dare to start anew" is what I would call the dedication page.
I did not know much about Charles Dickens but will do some more reading about the man. This book gave me some answers but with more questions about him.
I believe most of us know the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim and have seen the movie(s) or read the book.
This would be a wonderful book for a family discussion. The family could watch some movies, there are many, and then "study" a lesson.  I would suggest beginning the movie(s) in November and then the discussions so they end in December.
I received a complimentary copy of 52 Little Lessons from A Christmas Carol from to read and review. The opinions are my own. I give it a 5 star rating.
Leona Olson

Monday, October 12, 2015

Review of Love Everlasting by Tracie Peterson

Book review of Love Everlasting by Tracie Peterson
Love Everlasting (Brides of Seattle #3) by Tracie Peterson

Abrianna Cunningham has always viewed her longtime friend, Wade Ackerman, as
a protective brother. Lately, however, she's begun to see him differently and finds
herself attracted romantically to him. But she's confused and overwhelmed by these
unfamiliar feelings.

Wade, on the other hand, has loved Abrianna for some time and has been waiting for her to realize they are more than just friends. When he asks her to marry him, she asks for time to adjust to their changed relationship.

And then there's Priam Welby, who has been relentlessly pursuing Abrianna. Will his underhanded tactics succeed in luring Abrianna into marriage with him?

Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 6th 2015 by Bethany House (first published September 29th 2015)
ISBN0764210637 (ISBN13: 9780764210631)edition language English
Leona's review:
This is not my first read by Tracie Peterson but the first for the Brides of Seattle series. It is a stand alone read and I may go back and read the others.
It really took the second half of the book for me to have a real interest and I had written in my notes "this is a personal struggle book" when I was somewhat into the book. Things did change and became more interesting with murder, jail, false accusations and a man who wanted to marry Abrianna by any means.
I liked the characters of Abrianna and Wade and the aunts were a wonderful addition. As I write this, I think a cat would have also been an addition.  Abrianna is headstrong but Wade seems to flow with any problems added to what is happening. He keeps his head when their are problems and prays a lot. The aunts are also strong characters with their opinions and accomplishments. I could almost see them sitting together and talking. Jay, the father of Abrianna has come back into her life. Friends are also an important part of the book.
This is a Christian book without pushing. I like that God is in the hearts of the characters and spoken of often.
Abrianna helps the poor with food and housing; this seems to be her calling. Wade has taken the job of becoming the substitute minister at the church and fully understands her.

I loved the personal talk between Wade and Abrianna. This made them seen so real and in love.
I received a complimentary copy of Love Everlasting by Tracie Peterson from Bethany House Publishers. The opinions are my own.
I give this book a 5 star rating.
Tracie Peterson may be reached at her website:
Leona Olson