Sunday, April 6, 2014

Review of A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander

Book Review of A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexanear.
From the USA Today bestselling author of To Whisper Her Name and A Lasting Impression comes a moving historical novel about a bold young woman drawn to a group of people forgotten by Nashville society--and to the one man with whom she has no business falling in love.

Eleanor Braddock, a spinster--plain, practical, no stunning Southern beauty--has long since dismissed any hope of marriage. But when a dying soldier whispers his final words, she believes her life can still have meaning and determines to find his widow. But this compassionate deed takes a harsh turn, and Eleanor finds herself dependent upon the richest woman in America and the most despised woman in Nashville--her aunt, Adelicia Acklen, mistress of Belmont Mansion. A clandestine act of kindness leads Eleanor to an unlikely path for her life--building a home for destitute widows and children from the Civil War. And while Eleanor knows her own heart, she also knows her aunt will never approve.

Gerhard Marcus Gottfried, Archduke of the House of Habsburg and fourth in line to the Austrian throne, arrives in Nashville in search of a life he determines, instead of one determined for him. Collaborating with botanist Luther Burbank, Marcus seeks to combine his own passion for nature with his expertise in architecture. But his plans to incorporate natural beauty into the design of the widow's and children's home run contrary to the wishes of practical, frugal Eleanor, who sees his ideas as costly nonsense.

Yet as the construction project continues, Marcus and Eleanor find common ground--and a love neither of them expected. But Marcus is not the man Adelicia has chosen for Eleanor to marry, and even if he were, someone who knows Marcus's secrets is about to reveal them all.(less)
Paperback484 pages
Published March 25th 2014 by Bethany House Publishers (Baker Publishing Group)
original title
A Beauty So Rare (Belmont Mansion, #2)
0764206230 (ISBN13: 9780764206238)
edition language

Leona's Review:
The book begins with the prologue on December 15, 1864 with Eleanor helping a Confederate Civil War soldier who is dying. He thinks she is "His Mary" and gives her a hankie that is stained with his blood. I found the mission of Eleanor to find Mary is a important part of the  book. Yesterday, I attended a class at our local library about Civil War sewing kits that were give to the soldiers by women who made the kits. The kits also carried pictures and mementoes for the soldiers. A story the presenter, from the Minnesota Historical Society, told was of a soldier who died holding pictures of three children in his hand. An artist at the newspaper drew the faces for the paper and a woman who saw the paper knew it was her husband who had died. I am sure there are many stories like this.
Chapter one begins September 2, 1968.
Eleanor's mission is to open a restaurant but with her father ill of dementia, she finds she may not be able to open one. She moves in with her wealthy aunt while her father lives at the insane asylum.
The friendship of Eleanor and Marcus increase throughout the book. When they first meet, Eleanor thinks he is a undergardner but soon finds he is a botanist and later  finds he is also an architect. Together they work to build a home for the widows and children of the soldiers of the war. Both have a secret they do not want known.
Marcus is working on producing a rose for the aunt, Adeclicia Acklen; she wants certain colors for the rose.  We also find the potato an important part of the story.
Find some recipes on Tamera's blog site from some of the characters.
The  book is dedicated to: For my readers, who not only take these journeys with me, but who add joy and beauty to my own.
It is a historical romance book by an award-winning author, Tamera Alexander. I give it a 5 star rating. I enjoyed it so much, I woke the next morning disappointed I had finished the book.
I won this book from A review was requested but the opinions are my own
A Beauty So Rare is full of history, love, loss, family, hope, God, friendship, compassion, Civil war, cooking and recipes.
A Beauty So Rare is the second book of the Belmont Mansion Novels. The Belmont Mansion is in Nashville, Tennessee. See
For a trailer on A Beauty So rare visit
You can find Tamera Alexander:
Her blog:
Leona Olson

Contest by Tamera Alexander

Tamera Alexander is running a lovely giveaway for her latest book, A Beauty So Rare. Click here to enter!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Queen's Handmaid by Tracy Higley


The Queen's Handmaid by Tracy Higley

"From the servant halls of Cleopatra’s Egyptian palace to the courts of Herod the Great, Lydia will serve two queens to see prophecy fulfilled.

Alexandria, Egypt 39 BC

Orphaned at birth, Lydia was raised as a servant in Cleopatra's palace, working hard to please while keeping everyone at arm's length. She's been rejected and left with a broken heart too many times in her short life.

But then her dying mentor entrusts her with secret writings of the prophet Daniel and charges her to deliver this vital information to those watching for the promised King of Israel. Lydia must leave the nearest thing she’s had to family and flee to Jerusalem. Once in the Holy City, she attaches herself to the newly appointed king, Herod the Great, as handmaid to Queen Mariamme.

Trapped among the scheming women of Herod’s political family—his sister, his wife, and their mothers—and forced to serve in the palace to protect her treasure, Lydia must deliver the scrolls before dark forces warring against the truth destroy all hope of the coming Messiah."
Paperback400 pages
Published March 18th 2014 by Thomas Nelson
1401686842 (ISBN13: 9781401686840)
edition language
Leona's Review:
I thought I had read Tracy Higley's books in the past, but find this is my first read by her. I always like to read historical fiction and this book did not disappoint. It is full of history and gave me some more knowledge of the times and people. I did not know that Cleopatra, for example, had sisters. There is a map of the Mediterranean area in the front of the book and the family charts of The Hasmonean Dynasty and also Herod's Family.
The book is dedicated to: For Steve Laube. In gratitude for nearly a decade of unwavering support, wise guidance, and genius friendship.
The book begins in Alexandria, Egypt on January, 39 BC.
Lydia is the handmaid to Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt. She is to become the handmaid of Herod's future wife Mariamme and so travels to Jerusalem.
The journey is long but on the trip Lydia becomes acquainted with David, who is younger than her.
Lydia's mentor, Samuel, was killed but before he dies he had passed the scrolls from the prophet Daniel to Lydia with instructions where to deliver and to whom. The scrolls are usually passed from father to son but these were now for Lydia to deliver. Lydia must carry the scrolls with her and keep them a secret and so they are hidden most of the time
There is a lot of warfare in this novel with some descriptions of death but fits the story and the history of the wars at that time.
The Queen's Handmaid is full of history and of the Jewish religion and beginning of the Christian religion.
I give this a 5 star rating. It is a historical fiction book with some romance. The author, Tracy Higley, shows she has done extensive research to write this novel. The end was unexpected for me but I was pleased with it. This is a book that can be re-read for those interested in history.
I wish there had been a list of the characters and the places in the book. There were many and I think it would have helped the reader.
Read more of Cleopatra on this site:
Read more of Octaavian, Antony and Lepidus
on this site:
There is a study guide at the back of the book. Two questions are Question Number 2: Lydia struggles throughout the book with issues of identity and feelings of worthlessness. Do you relate to her struggles? In what way? And Question Number 9: How do you feel about the author's portrayal of spiritual darkness in the story? Do you believe that people like Salome may have been in touch with evil powers at this time in history? How about now?
I received a complimentary copy of The Queen's Handmaid  to read and review from Litfuse Publicity Group and Thomas Nelson Publishers. The opinions are my own.
Leona Olson
Tracy Higley may be reached at
List of some characters:
Lydia- The main character. She is an orphan and does not know anything about her parents.
Simon- Ran the palace staff at Jericho
Cleopatra Philopator- Queen of Egypt
Herod- The Galilean governor but he is not Jewish
Mariamme- Wife if Herod
Banafrit- In charge of Cleopatra's kitchen
David- Lydia meets him on the boat after leaving Egypt.
Samuel- A Jewish man who taught Lydia about the Jewish religion and who gave her the scrolls.
Marc Antony- Lover of Cleopatra and father of her twins
Caesar- Ruler of Rome
Caesarion- Son of Cleopatra and Caesar; also under the care of Lydia when she lived at Cleopatra's palace.
Ha Shem- Name of God in the Hebrew Bible
Octavian-Nephew of Julius Caesar
Octavia- Sister of Octavian and wife of Marc Antony
Joseph- Herod's brother
Salome- Herod's sister
Jonah and Ester- Friends of Simon
Some places in the book are:
Temple of Cybele
Temple of Ceres
Kidron Valley

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Gifted Hands, The Ben Carson Story by Ben Carson

Gifted Hands, The Ben Carson Story by Ben Carson
I watched the movie Gifted Hands on TV recently so checked at my library for the DVD and also found the paperback book.

I read this book in one day. What a story about a man who we now see on TV quite a bit.
At the age of 33 Dr. Ben Carson became the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Dr. Carson's mother, Sonya, is such an influence on both Dr. Carson and his brother, Curtis. She is one mother we all should admire for her dedication and hard work for her sons. At one point, she turned off the TV and told the boys they could watch three shows a week and also had to read two library books a week. That is tough love.
Sometimes, she worked two or three jobs at a time. Since this book was written in 1990, I will do some more checking on her.

There are also pictures in the book and one I especially like is a proud mother holding pictures of her sons who have graduated. Sonya Carson only completed third grade.
I knew some about Dr. Carson but this book gives so much information about why his father left, his school years, his problems with studies and school, problems because of his race, his temper, his successes, his faith in God and his family. This is an emotional read with death of family and patients.

Chapters are written on some of patients and the surgeries performed on them such as patients who had seizures.

Description of surgeries are sometimes pretty clear and there is also some drawing of the heads of the twins that were separated.  Dr. Carson was the first doctor to separate Siamese, conjoined, twins that were attached at the head. It took 22 hours and a staff of 70 to do the surgery and they had practiced for over five months on how to do the procedure. It was a success.

A letter from Sonya Carson at the beginning of the book is short but sends a strong message. She often quoted a poem, "You're the Captain of Your Ship" to her sons:
If things go bad for you-
And make you a bit ashamed,
Often you will find out that
You have yourself to blame...

Swiftly we ran to mischief
And then the bad luck came.
Why do we fault others?
We have ourselves to blame...

Whatever happens to us,
Here are the words to say,
"Had it not been for so-and-so
Things wouldn't have gone that way".

And if you are short of friends,
I'll tell you what to do-
Make and examination,
You'll find that fault's in you...

You're the captain of your ship,
So agree with the same-
If you travel downward,
You have yourself to blame.

She also writes " Remember this as you go through life . The person who has the most do with what happens to you is you!.

The following paragraphs beginning with **  and ending with **  are from the book:
** "What's the key to your success?' the teenage boy with the Afro asked.
It wasn't a new question. I'd heard it so many times that I finally worked out an acrostic answer .
"Think big," I told him.

I'd like to break this down and explain the meaning of each letter.
Learn to recognize and accept your God-given talents (and we all have them). Develop those talents and use them in the career you choose. Remembering T for talent puts you far ahead of the game if you take advantage of what God gives you.
T also= TIME
Learn the importance of time. When you are always on time, people can depend on you. You prove your trustworthiness. Learn not to waste time, because time is money and time is effort. Time usage is also a talent. God gives some people the ability to manage time. The rest of us have to learn how and we can!
Don't go around with a long face, expecting something bad to happen. Appreciate good things; watch for them.
When you do anything dishonest, you must do something else dishonest to cover up, and your life becomes hopelessly complex. The same with telling lies. If you're honest, you don't have to remember what you said the last time. Speaking the truth each time makes life amazing simple.
Listen and learn from people who have already been where you want to go. Benefit from their mistakes instead of repeating them. Read good books like the Bible because they open up new worlds of understanding.
Be nice to people-all people. If you're  nice to people, they'll be nice to you. It takes much less energy to be nice than it does to be mean. Being kind, friendly, and helpful
takes less energy and relieves much of the pressure.
Knowledge is the key to independent living, the key to all your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. If you are knowledgeable, particularly more knowledgeable than anyone else in the field, you become invaluable and write your own ticket.
I emphasize that active learning from reading is better than passive learning such as listening to lectures or watching television. When you read, your mind must work by taking in letters and connecting them to form words. Words make themselves into thoughts and concepts.
Developing good reading habits is something like being a champion weightlifter. The champion didn't go into the gym one day and start lifting 500 pounds. He toned his muscles, beginning with lighter weights, always building up, preparing for more. It's the same thing with intellectual feats. We develop our minds by reading, by thinking, by figuring out things for ourselves.
Superficial learners cram for exams but know nothing two weeks later. In-depth learners find that the acquired knowledge becomes part of them. They understand  more about themselves and their world. They keep building on prior understanding by piling on new information.
Never get too big for God. Never drop God out of your life.

"I usually conclude my talks by telling young people, "If you can remember these things, if you can learn to THINK BIG, nothing on earth will keep you from being successful in whatever you choose to do."
"To THINK BIG and to use our talents doesn't mean we won't have difficulties along the way. We will-we all do".
"I'm a good neurosurgeon. That's not a boast but a way of acknowledging the innate ability God has given to me. Beginning with determination and using my gifted hands, I went on for training and sharpening of my skills. **

I will give this book a 5 star. I learned a lot about man, his family and his wife Candy. They have three children.
A book young people should read and understand they also have God- given talent.
I found more information on :
Leona Olson

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Merlin's Shadow by Robert Treskillard

Merlin's Shadow by Robert Treskillard


After destroying the sinister Druid Stone and freeing his people from its dark control, Merlin finds himself a royal advisor without a king. Along with his friend Garth and Natalenya, his betrothed, Merlin treks north with the orphaned Arthur in hopes of keeping the young ruler safe from soldiers misled by their turncoat captain. Relentlessly pursued by his old nemesis Vortigern, Merlin and his band make for the fortress of Dintaga.
But dangers multiply when Merlin realizes that Vortigern is not his only enemy. Even his own sister appears bent on Merlin’s destruction. As the threat on all their lives increases, Merlin discovers their only hope is sailing to the lands of eternal darkness and once again cleansing the world from an ancient and powerful evil.
Leona's Review :
This is the second book of the Merlin series by Robert Treskillard. The first is Merlin's Blade and best read first but Merlin's Shadow can be read as a stand alone book. On pages 9, 10 and 11 there is "The Story So Far" so the reader will have an idea of Merlin's Blade, the first book of Merlin's Spiral Series.
Merlin is trying to protect the young Arthur and plans to flee north to Dintaga, the fortress of King Gorlas, from Vortigern.  The group is Merlin, Natalenya, Merlin's betrothed, Garth, an orphan who lived at the abbey, Caygek, a fili ( The order of sages and poets within the wider order of the druidow. Filidow is the plural, and they are led by the arch fili.), and Colvarth, chief bard of Britain.
There is more violence I think in this book that the first book of the series, Merlin's Blade. Merlin goes through lots of torture over and over. 
The group is captured by the Picts where they become slaves, a thrall or thrail in Pickish. The Picts, or Prithager or Picti,  are the people who live in the wild lands of the north. I found this on the Net:
Merlin seems to have lost some of his faith in God in this book and he questions his faith. "A spark of hope-and of faith-filled Merlin's heart. Faith in the God who had led him during each painful step of his life: his childhood, his blindness, his battle with the Stone (book 1)- even during the journey of suffering over the last half of a year. Faith in the One, who had until now, protected them all." (page 403). This is where Merlin is trying to understand his questioning.
He has regained his eyesight in this book but still has his scars. Merlin feels he is ugly and that Natalenya no longer should love him and she feels she is ugly and that is why Merlin is no longer close to her.
The Stone is still an important part of the book but not as much in Merlin's Blade.
Merlin's sister, Ganieda, now hates and curses Merlin after the death of her mother, Monda, and their father, Owain.  She seems to become closer to her grandfather, Morganthu, but does not always trust him. He is her mother's father. Tellyk, a wolf who befriends Ganieda, is also present in this book as well as the first. In Merlin's Shadow, there is The Voice which is "a shadowy figure that appears to Ganieda and instructs her".
I was watching a show about Merlin on the History Channel last week and the term "light and dark" was used instead of what I was using, which was "good and evil". This defines what is happening in the books and to the characters.
As in Merlin's Blade there is a glossary of names and places and so appreciated by this reader. (page 424) It helps to know the characters of the books and I liked the three maps in front of the book. There is also a pronunciation guide. (page 423).
The letter "V" is used in place of the letter "U" in the titles of the chapters as well a cross for the "T".
There are three parts in this book
Part One: Fool's Choice (page 19)
Part Two: FOOL'S LOSS ( page 147)
Part Three: FOOL'S FAITH (page 293)
Merlin's Shadow is dedicated to: For Robin  Psalm 33:20:22
I received a complimentary copy of Merlin's Shadow to read and review. The opinions are my own. I will give this a 5 star rating  and look forward to reading Merlin's Nightmare by Robert Treskillard.
I highly recommend to readers who like Merlin, Arthur and history.
Leona Olson

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

And Then You Dye by Monica Ferris

And Then You Dye by Monica Ferris
Betsy Devonshire, full-time owner of the Crewel World needlework shop and part-time sleuth, has hooked more than a few crooks in the USA Today bestselling Needlecraft Mysteries. Now Betsy learns the hard way that a murder is still murder, any way you color it…

Betsy is a natural-born yarnsmith—so it’s only fitting that some of her favorite items to stock come from the dye-works of Hailey Brent. Hailey makes hand-dyed knitting wool, silk, soy, and corn yarns. She uses only natural vegetable dyes, creating soft and beautiful colors. Which means her yarns are expensive, but well worth

Unfortunately, someone thinks they’re worth killing for.

When Hailey’s body is discovered shot dead in her workshop, Betsy discovers that there was a lot about Hailey she would have never guessed. Like her penchant for stealing other’s property for her own use. Her use of dangerous additives to create her so-called all-natural fibers. And a scheming mind that had made her more than one enemy.

Now, Betsy must wring the truth from a bevy of colorful suspects. Because the truth just might mean the difference between living—and dyeing…
Leona's Review:
This is the  first book I have read by Monica Ferris; it was recommended to me by a friend. One of the main characters, Ruth Ladwig, has been a good friend of mine for years and she has taught me most of what I know of dyes.
Hailey Brent has been shot to death in her basement where she used to dye fabrics. Mike Malloy is the police detective in charge of the case. Betsy Devonshire, an amateur sleuth, is helping him on the case. The book has lots of activities happening but I feel it helped with the story. Lots of characters, who are defined, so no real confusion when new characters are brought into the book. I have read some reviews and see some of the characters have been in other books but the introductions of the characters made it a stand alone book.
The reader learns about dyes, needlework threads, needlework, plants, coin collecting and places in Minnesota. Betsy lives and has her needlework shop, Crewel World, in Excelsior, Minnesota. It was fun to read about places I knew. The book is great for those who do needlework and love to learn. Monica Ferris has added men who do needlework in the story. Reminded me of Rosey Grier who did needlework. It makes me want to pick up my embroidery and start a new project.
The book does not spend all the time on the murder so we see new characters and even what they feel. Description of food, scenery and clothing help make this book. As always, it is so nice to have a cat or pet in any story. There is a cross stitch pattern in the back oft the book.
I am giving  "And Then You Dye" a 4 star. I checked out this book from my library. I look foward to reading other works by Monica Ferris and I am glad my friend introduced me to this author. A great cozy mystery that is a fast read.
Readers may find Monica Ferris at
Leona Olson

Monday, February 3, 2014

Merlin's Blade by Robert Treskillard

Merlin's Blade by Robert Treskillard
A strange meteorite.
A deadly enchantment.
And only Merlin can destroy it.

A meteorite brings a mysterious black stone whose sinister power ensnares everyone except Merlin, the blind son of a swordsmith. Soon, all of Britain will be under its power, and he must destroy the stone—or die trying.
Merlin's Greatest Weakness Could Become His Greatest Strength

When a meteorite crashes near a small village in fifth-century Britain, it brings with it a mysterious black stone that bewitches anyone who comes in contact with its glow---a power the druids hope to use to destroy King Uthur's kingdom. The only person who seems immune is a young, shy, half-blind swordsmith's son named Merlin.

As his family, village, and even the young Arthur, are placed in danger, Merlin must face his fears and his blindness to take hold of the role ordained for him. But when he is surrounded by adversaries, how will he save the girl he cherishes and rid Britain of this deadly evil ... without losing his life?

Book includes location map and detailed character index.
Merlin's Blade by Robert Treskillard
The book is dedicated: In loving memory of my mother, with thanksgiving for her life and love. Psalm 65 (page 5)
Leona's Review:
This book is about Merlin as a young man. An attack by a wolf has left him scarred and almost blind; Merlin sees blurred objects.
I have always had an interest in Merllin and Arthur. Most books I have read have Merlin as an old man. Arthur is under the age of 2 years old in this book and does not appear until about half-way into the book.
Merlin is the son of a blacksmith, Owain; his mother is dead. He has a stepmother, Monda, and a half-sister, Ganieda.

The leader of the druids, Morganthu, wants the people in the village to back to the old ways and destroy King Uther, the High King of the Britions and the father of Arthur. 
My feelings from the book the story is about good and evil. There is a stone that must be destroyed and it is the destiny of Merlin is to destroy it. The Druid Stone has power: "In the Druid Stone you will fulfill your deepest desires" says Morganthu to Tregeagle, the tax collector.(page 159).
The Stone is "a strange stone that was found by Morganthu at the edge of Lake Dosmurtanlin" (page 431 of the glossary). The Stone is almost an important character of the book.
This book is complicated in so many ways but such a wealth of information. I liked the forging of a sword for King Uther and the descriptions of how the blade is made. (page 203). The prayers and ballads added to the book and helped bring it into the time era.
I have copied the first few lines of a ballad on page 185:
"She struck the strings, smiled at the hustling men, and closed her eyes. A small portion of the power of the bards claimed her and she sang:
They arose- skillful warriors,
From Kembry- Gwyneth Dyn of old.
The young chieftain, Red Brychaid's son,
With his steel blade, ready and bold. "
Some main characters are Merlin; Owain; Natalenya, who Merlin loves; Garth, who lives at the abby and a character I really liked; Dybris, a monk; Uther, the High King.
The letter "V" is used in place of the letter "U" in the titles of the chapters. I liked this feature as it again brought the reader into the time era.
There is violence if the book as expected in the days of swords.
There are two maps (page 419 and 420), a pronunciation guide (page 421) and a glossary of the characters and places in the book (page 422-432). The glossary was so appreciated by this reader. Acknowledgements (page 416)
There are three parts: Part One: Guile's Dust (page 13); Part Two: Shackle's Power (page 109) and Part Three: Blade's Edge (page 223)
Part One:Guile's Dust
Birthed as flame, the Dragon Star falling;
Wrapped in water, the deaf one calling;
Circled in shadow, the bound one weeping;
Maliced evil the banks entombing;
Hidden on hill, there the deep lake lies.
Part Two:
Swift as the moon the white stag running,
Fleet as the owl the hunter hunting,
Sharp as the claw the swift spear striking,
Red as the sun the fresh life flowing,
Leaved in green, there all Britain dies.
Part Three:
Hammered with muscle and bone soon breaking,
Swathed in hellfire the black void quaking,
Pierced by hard light the demons shaking,
Quenched in blood the temper awaking,
Smoke and death, there the bright sword lies.
I received a complimetary copy to read and review from The opinions are my own
I give this a 5 star and recommend it to readers interested in this time period of the Year of Our Lord 407 (page 7) and Merlin.
Leona Olson

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Review of The Riddle of Prague by Laura DeBruce

Book Description

 December 7, 2013
When 18-year-old Hana Silna travels to Prague to reclaim her family's ancestral home, she finds herself on an unexpected adventure in a city brimming with ancient secrets. She discovers a riddle by the infamous alchemist Edward Kelley that claims to lead to a long-last flask. The contents of that flask could change the fate of the world. 

When a ruthless enemy kidnaps her family, Hana has to find the flask to rescue them. On her quest she meets a mysterious man with a penchant for poetry, a Gypsy girl with a haunting past, and Alex, the motorcycle-riding son of a U.S. diplomat. Alex -- who's trying to save his sister from a crippling disease -- joins Hana on her race across Bohemia to find the hidden flask. It's hard to trust anyone when the stakes are this high -- especially when surrounded by experts at deception.

There's only one flask and Hana desperately needs to find it.

The Riddle of Prague is the first of the Quicksilver Legacy Trilogy.
Leona's Review:
This was a really good read about mystery and searching for the 400 year old flask that holds the elixir for immortality.
Hana Silna is flying to Prague from the United States to sign the papers for the home of her mother that has been returned to them by the government. This book takes place in 1991 before the luxury of cell phones and lap top computers. Hana's mother is having surgery and is unable to travel.
Hana meets Davis Borton on the plane; he becomes a major part of the book.
She is greeted by her mother's cousins and meets her mother's mother, Babi. She does not know who Hana is as she is somewhat senile. I wish Babi had been more of the book because I felt she knew a lot more and could do more that the story allowed.
Babi does warn Hana that Simona is not who she says she is.
Hana meets Alex Williams, the son of a U. S. Diplomat and his sister, Thalia, who suffers from Werner Syndrome. Alex owns a motorcycle and descriptions of the driving in the city of Prague are pretty real.
There are so many names in this book I will list some of them that become so much of the story. Hana Silna, Alex Williams, David Bolton, Simona, Michal, Elizabeth Weston, Valentina, Stefan, Denisa, Nadja, Don Julius, Julian, Luminitsa, Edward Kelley, Marketa, Ben Williams, Niku, L'ubo, Franta and many more. Some are not characters in the book but the names are part of the past and the story.
Places are described in the book: The Charles Bridge,
See for more sites. I like the historical features in The Riddle of Prague.
There is intrigue, murder, escapes and fear in this gripping book. At one point Hana feels "So many radically unexpected things have happened that I'm feeling like Alice after she fell down the rabbit hole" (page 96). It is rated for Young Adults but as an older adult I enjoyed it. I give it a 5 star even though I was disappointed in the end. I finally decided to think of as Sherlock Holmes always running into Professor Moriarty and continuing the story.
I won a copy of The Riddle of Prague from The opinions are my own. I will re-read this book even though I know the ending.
You may find Laura DeBruce at
Leona Olson

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Silver Madonna and Other Tales of America's Greatest Lost Treasures By W. C. Jameson
The twenty-four tales in this book are of the most famous lost treasures in America, from a two-foot statue reportedly made entirely of silver (the Madonna ) and a cache of gold, silver, and jewelry that was rumored to also contain the first Bible in America to seventeen tons of gold its value equal to the treasury of a mid-sized nation buried somewhere in northwestern New Mexico. What makes these tales even more compelling is that none of these known-to-be-lost treasures have been discovered, although modern detecting technology has made them eminently discoverable.
Paperback208 pages
Published September 6th 2013 by "Taylor Trade Publishing" (first published January 1st 2013)
1589798392 (ISBN13:9781589798397)
Leona's Review:
The Silver Madonna and Other Tales of America's Greatest Lost Treasures

 by W. C. Jameson.

This is the first book I have read by W. C Jameson and one I really enjoyed.
The first of the book has a map, always appreciated, which identifies the locations of the Treasures in this book. I must say I was excited to find my hometown of Monahans, Texas and the Monahans Sandhills State Park. I have been going to the Sandhills since I was a child.
This is a fast reading book and certainly for the readers who like the treasure magazines and tales. The stories are short and interesting.
Other books by W. C. Jameson are Buried Treasure of The America Series ( 28 books) which include treasures in Texas, California, Missouri, New England and more. Beyond the Grave Series which are about Billy the Kid, John Wilkes Booth and Butch Cassidy.  More series on food, poetry, fiction, books on writing, mysteries, ghosts and monsters.
Contents of The Silver Madonna stories are:
Map (before introduction)
Introduction (page 1)
1. The Silver Madonna (page 3)
2. The Lost Treasure Ship of the California Desert (page 11)
3. The Goat Herder's Lost Treasure (page 23)
4. The Lost Treasure of Shafter Lake (page 31)
5. The Lost Dutchman Mine of the Superstition Mountain (page 37)
6. The Huachuca Canyon Treasure (page 45)
7. Seventeen Tons of Gold at Lost Mesa (page 53)
8. The Lost Treasure of Cancino Arroyo (page 59)
9. The Lost Grierson Fortune (page 67)
10. The Red Bone Cave Treasure (page 73)
11. The Silver Bullets (page 79)
12. The Lost Gold Mine of the Cossatot (page 85)
13. The Lost Treasure Skeleton Canyon (page 91)
14. The Lost Yoachum Dollars: An Ozark Mystery (page 101)
15. The Beale Treasure (page 113)
16. Incan Treasure in Texas and America's First Bible (page 121)
17. Lost Treasure in the Monahans Sandhills (page
18. Chief Victorio's Gold (page 129)
19. The Lost Billy Bowlegs Treasure (page 137)
20. Gasparilla's Lost Treasure (page 147)
21. Colonel Dunham's Lost Payroll (page 153)
22. Cumberland Mountain Silver Mines (page 163)
23. Devil's Canyon Gold (page 171)
24. The Incredible Journey of the Confederate Treasury (page 179)
A Word About Sources (page 187)
About the Author (page 189)
This book is dedicated: For Laurie
The author lives in Llano, Texas. (If you get there, there are great Bar B Q places).
W. C. Jameson may be found at
I won this book from The opinions are my own. I give it a 5 star because of the interest and research.
Leona Olson

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

AllYou Magazine about 10 healthy foods

From a message from AllYou Magazine about 10 healthy foods.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Beyond the Cliffs of Kerry by Amanda Hughes


Beyond the Cliffs of Kerry

It seduces her like a lover. It bewitches her like a spell. It is something mysterious and powerful that Darcy McBride must follow beyond the cliffs of Kerry. Ireland in 1755 is a terrible place ravaged by famine and the brutal occupation of the British, there seems to be no escape. Darcy joins a group of smugglers who trade illegally with the French and when operation is discovered, she is transported to the English Colonies for servitude. Shattered by war and bloodshed, Darcy finds the colonists on a feeding frenzy of survival. She refuses to be devoured and meets them with determination and fire stopping them in their tracks. When she confronts the brash and attractive Jean Michel Lupe', a surveyor for the Crown, sparks fly, and Darcy meets her match. His blend of refinement and frontier masculinity unsettles and entices her. Together, they are swept into a whirlwind of violence and intrigue that threatens their love and their survival.

"As he stepped out into the pouring rain, Jean Michel had to regain his composure. He was not sure he liked the feelings that were churning inside him. This McBride woman had the ability to reach into his soul and open doors he thought were closed forever. She ignited a desire in him that was beyond anything he had ever imagined. Confused and overwhelmed, he blamed it on long months without carnal pleasures, and pushing it from his mind; he started down the path for the McDermott homestead."
Kindle EditionText to speech enabled414 pages
Published April 2011 by Amazon Digital Services (first published 2002)
original title
Beyond the Cliffs of Kerry
Leona's Review:
Beyond the Cliffs of Kerry by Amanda Hughes
This is my first read by Amanda Hughes and I was not disappointed.
The story begins in 1755 in Ireland where Darcy McBride and her brother are part of a  smugglers group in order to survive in hard times. Life in Kerry has been difficult for Darcy and her brother, Liam, They are the last of their family; the others have died during the Great Hunger of 1740. The smugglers are caught and Darcy becomes an indentured servant. She is bought by Nathan Lawrence, a British soldier. Her new life begins in Massachusetts where it is still the "frontier".
I like the use of defining the chores at this time period such as the skinning deer, baking the beans, making a Sally Lund cake and gardening. I have never heard the term "three sisters" which is corn, beans and squash. Years ago, I was a volunteer in the exhibit of the Maya Indians of Mexico at a museum in St. Paul, Minnesota and I referred to corn, beans and squash as a staple. More information is available on the Web for those interested.  When reading a book such as this, we are reminded of how easy we have it when we can go to the store and buy so many things pre-made. It also details the clothing at the time as well as building the cabins.
This is a love story and there are sexual times in the book. As an indentured servant, a woman must obey the commands of the man who bought her; it is still well done. Some bad language but it fits the time and occasion.
There is death as the settlers fight off the Indians and the English and French are at war. Some gory scenes during the fights and the heart begins to beat faster as people flee and run for their lives. "Life on the frontier was indeed cruel". (page 337 Kindle edition)
God is present on the book even though it is not a Christian love story. "When he (Jean Michel) became frustrated he remembered what Etienne had told him years ago, that God always reveals the way; simply wait for it to unfold." (page 309 Kindle edition)
Even though this book tells about the hard conditions there are still some good times in the book. Friendships are made and there is love and kindness.
Some characters are:
Darcy McBride- The main woman character. She has so much strength and is a true heroine of any book.
Jean Michel Lupe- A surveyor in America who falls in love with Darcy
Etienne- A priest from America who comes to Ireland. He teaches Darcy to read and they become close friends.
Nathan Lawrence- He buys the papers of Darcy and now owns her for seven years.
Liam McBride- Brother of Darcy.
Bran Moynaham- Sold into indentured servant for seven years and was returning to Ireland. He was to marry Darcy before he went to America.
Telia- A good friend of Darcy who lives in Ireland.
Raoul LaRoche- A French Voyager who befriends Darcy in America,
The book is dedicated : To my mother. She taught me to love books and to love Ireland.
Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Ronnell Porter for the cover art and design.
I downloaded this book on because it looked interesting. Ireland is one place I have not visited. I also have not read a book about the American frontier in years. I give it a 5 Star rating. I would re-read this book and recommend it to people who like historical novels. The opinions are my own.
You may find Amanda Hughes on and
Leona Olson