Monday, July 9, 2018

She Has Her Mother's Laugh by Carl Zimmer

Review of:

She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity

Carl Zimmer (Goodreads Author)

Carl Zimmer presents a history of our understanding of heredity in this sweeping, resonating overview of a force that shaped human society--a force set to shape our future even more radically.

She Has Her Mother's Laugh presents a profoundly original perspective on what we pass along from generation to generation. Charles Darwin played a crucial part in turning heredity into a scientific question, and yet he failed spectacularly to answer it. The birth of genetics in the early 1900s seemed to do precisely that. Gradually, people translated their old notions about heredity into a language of genes. As the technology for studying genes became cheaper, millions of people ordered genetic tests to link themselves to missing parents, to distant ancestors, to ethnic identities. . . .

But, Zimmer writes, "Each of us carries an amalgam of fragments of DNA, stitched together from some of our many ancestors. Each piece has its own ancestry, traveling a different path back through human history. A particular fragment may sometimes be cause for worry, but most of our DNA influences who we are--our appearance, our height, our penchants--in inconceivably subtle ways." Heredity isn't just about genes that pass from parent to child. Heredity continues within our own bodies, as a single cell gives rise to trillions of cells that make up our bodies. We say we inherit genes from our ancestors--using a word that once referred to kingdoms and estates--but we inherit other things that matter as much or more to our lives, from microbes to technologies we use to make life more comfortable. We need a new definition of what heredity is and, through Carl Zimmer's lucid exposition and storytelling, this resounding tour de force delivers it.

Weaving historical and current scientific research, his own experience with his two daughters, and the kind of original reporting expected of one of the world's best science journalists, Zimmer ultimately unpacks urgent bioethical quandaries arising from new biomedical technologies, but also long-standing presumptions about who we really are and what we can pass on to future generations.

Leona's Review:

This was a very interesting read. It is a long book, 574 pages, but an easy read for the average person. For those interested in genealogy research, I think this is a must read.
I received a complimentary copy from to read. The opinions are my own. I give this book a 5 stat rating. I gave my copy to a granddaughter who is in the medical field for neurology.

I am a note taker and so I will what add some I thought are interesting and helpful suggestions for the reader.

PKU  Phenylketonuria is an inherited disorder that can lead to developmental delay, behavior  problems and seizures. page 471
Margaret Mead  page 461 
Homo Sapiens page 467
Homo Erectus page 467
Neandertals page 467
Denisovans page 467
Cumulative culture page 463
Mitochondrial replacement page 517
Human altered environment page 466
Agriculture Revolution page 469
Fetal alcohol page 479
Human germ line engineering page 524
Gene therapy  page 509 replacement
Cloned frog before Dolly  page 544
Arygan race page 498
Blood disorders page 509
3 Parent children  page 514 ooplasm
Macular degeneration  page 277
Twins page 297
Omnigenic page 304
Power of the human brain 
"Failure is common in science"  page 552
Mendel's Law 
Mosaics page 350
Mosaic neurons page 369
Memories store in brain page 431
Thyroid page 390
Research in epigenetics page 436
Burbank potatoes Russet potatoes page 444 
Growth plates
Maryland Iron Mines in 1700s
Scotland study
Captain Cook page 467
Nootka Vancouver Island

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Enter to win 52 books

Enter to win 52 Regency & Victorian romances from award-winning and bestselling authors, plus a brand new eReader!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Book review of Crown of Souls by Ronie Kendig

Book review of Crown of Souls by Ronie Kendig

Crown of Souls (Tox Files #2)
by Ronie Kendig (Goodreads Author)
Six months after stopping a deadly plague, Cole "Tox" Russell and his team are enjoying a little rest. That peace is short-lived when a sniper shot hits Tox. The enemy is discovered to be one of their own, a rogue Special Forces team operator.
Alec King is perhaps the only person as skilled as Tox, and he's out for justice. Furious with orders that got his men killed, he intends to make those responsible pay. And he insists Tox join him, believing they are the same breed of soldier.
Afraid his old friend is right, Tox battles a growing darkness within himself as he and his team engage in another deadly encounter with antiquity. It appears Alec is cheating--he's using a mysterious artifact, a crown that history has linked to some of the worst slaughters in humanity. Racing to stop Alec before his vengeance is unleashed, Tox must fight the monster without becoming one.
Leona's Review:
My first read by Ronie Kendig.and was very impressed. I have not yet read the first book of the series but this was a stand alone read.
I became interested  because it had the words "artifact"  and "antiquity" as part of the description of the book. My major in college is archaeology.

This book seemed to have it all. Mystery, military, love, friends, loyalty, enemies, Biblical, secret missions, treasure, history, archaeology and artifacts. 

At the beginning of the book, Tox (Cole Russell) is shot in the shoulder by a sniper and Tox is sure that the person who shot him could have killed him if they intended to do so. He is sure it is his old friend, Alex King.
Tox tries to protect his girlfriend, Haven, from the beginning.  Haven and her brother, Ram, join with others on the adventure journey that takes the reader to many places from Virginia Beach, Virginia; Arlington, Virginia, Stuttgart, Germany; Pentagon, Virginia; Jerusalem, Israel; Washington, D.C.; Russell Estate, Maryland; CIA Headquarters, Fairfax County, Virginia; Chesapeake Bay, Maryland; Reston, Virginia; El Gorah, Egypt; A Village in Egypt; Somewhere Over the Mediterranean; Baghdad, Iraq; FOB Stryker, Baghdad, Iraq; Nimruz Province, Afghanistan; Undisclosed Location; Nimrud, Iraq (ancient Kalhu); Israel; SAARC JET (308); Qal'at Sherqat, Iraq; Somewhere Over Iraq; Outside Mosul, Iraq; Outside Nimrud, Iraq; National Museum of Iraq, Baghdad, Iraq; Outskirts of Mosul, Iraq; Airstrip Outside London; SAARC Headquarters, Northern Virginia; Unknown Location; Somewhere Over the Middle East and ends on Day 33. Many places are revisited.
It also takes us back in time to 1170 AD in Syria, 1172 AD in Syria, 1173 AD in Syria, 1178 AD to Acre, Israel, 1178 AD to  Tveria, Israel, 1180 AD Somewhere in Syria and 1187 Tveria, Israel.

Crown of Souls is a real page turner. I received a complimentary copy from Ronie Kendig and Bethany House Books to read and review it I chose to do so. The opinions are my own. 

I give this a 5 star rating and it is a book I would re-read.

Ronie Kendig may be found at, and also

Leona Olson

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Review of Southern Comfort by Fern Michaels

Southern Comfort by Fern Michaels
Atlanta homicide detective Patrick 'Tick' Kelly turned his back on the world the day his wife and children were murdered. Abandoning his city and his career, he holed up in a beach house on Mango Key, Florida, and drowned his grief in Jack Daniels. Now sober and a bestselling author, Tick would gladly stay a recluse forever if his brother Pete didn't keep trying to drag him back to the land of the living. After years of sacrificing her personal life in favour of her DEA job, special agent Kate Rush resigned and moved back to her native Miami. But the unofficial assignment that has just come her way is too intriguing to pass up. She and a fellow ex-agent are relocated to Mango Key to keep an eye on an imposing, mysterious fortress believed to be at the centre of a human trafficking ring. At first, the Kelly brothers are suspected of involvement, but Kate is sure Tick poses no danger - except for the slow-burning gaze that makes her breath catch and her heart race. Tick finds himself fascinated by Kate's investigation - and by her inviting mix of courage and kindness. Teaming up, they uncover a web of betrayal, blackmail, and ruthless greed. And as danger mounts, Tick realizes how far he'll go to protect the rare and surprising gift that's come his way: a second chance at a happy ending.

Leona's Review:
This is my first read by Fern Michaels. I had the book on my bookshelf and decided to read something by a new author to me.
The beginning of the book has the murders of Tick's family and I almost did not want to read the rest of the book. I am glad I continued.
Patrick is called Tick throughout the book.
Tick and his brother have not seen each other for eight years. Pete did not know about the death of Tick's family.
Two former DEA agents are helping a fellow agent to find out what is happening at Mango Key. The two women agents are Kate Rush and Sandra Martin who are friends.
Another main character is the Governor's son, Lawrence Tyler who also works for the DEA. He is hated by both of the women as well as other staff. Lawrence keeps getting phone calls from someone who seems to know his every move. He is being blackmailed by a male with a familiar voice.
One character is Bird, a parrot with a colorful language.
One thing I did not like about the book is the a** word which was used way, way too much.  The "f" word is also used but not as much.
It was a fast moving book and kept my attention so I will give it a 4 star rating.
Fern Michaels may be found at
Leona Olson

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Book Review of The Man His Father Was by Pat Leonard

The Man His Father Was
From the back of the book:
Puritan neighbors whose morals they did not share. Finally driven from Massachusetts by way of the notorious Salem courthouse, and hastened by the bloodiest conflict on American soil, they arrived in what seemed to be a paradise by comparison – only to discover they had traded persecution for political anarchy.
Spanning 139 years – from the original settlements in New England through the crisis of the American Revolution – The Man His Father Was brings to life some of early America’s most memorable events and noteworthy personalities. With documented appearances by both the famous and infamous – including colonial patriarchs, military leaders, Indian sachems, inventors, murderers, itinerant preachers, healers, educators, and a brilliant and beautiful poetess whose sparkling works have only recently been rediscovered – this is a rags-to-riches-to-rags epic that demolishes the notion that our forefathers were uniformly pious and cheerless.
And most of the story is true.
Leona's Review:
This book is fiction but based on real characters of American History.  Pat Leonard has really brought the past into a personal story for the reader  .
The book begins in New Jersey in 1695 in Massachusetts and ends in Pennsylvania in 1863. It is divided into four sections with a Leonard giving the story in first person.
There is a map in the front of the book as well as the family tree of the Leonard family.  A list of some historical figures are also on the page with dates of the births and deaths of the people.

There are some illustrations: The Furnace and Forge at the Saugus Ironworks, The Keith Line 1687 Map by John P. Snyder, The fort at Loyalhanna (Ft. Ligonler) and Soldiers' huts at Jockey Hollows, Massachusetts, Nassau Hall, Gloria Dei (Old Swedes) Church, Philadelphia and Margaret Leonard's Headstone, Princeton Cemetery.
What a good book to read for anyone interested in the history of America. Book One is Samuel, Book Two is James, Book Three is Infant-John and the last section is John Jr.
Many historical figures such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Aaron Burr. I did not know many of the characters that helped make our country. Annis Boudinot Stockton and her husband, Richard. Richard was one of the signers of The Declaration of Independence and Annis was an American poet and one of the first women to be published in the Thirteen Colonies.
These were harsh days for the Leonard families as well as good days. It gets very emotional as we read of the struggles of everyday life and the fight for the freedom of America.
I do genealogy for my family tree. The Man His Father Was is one of the best examples of a family history that I have ever read.The book is written as a novel but I felt it put the reader in the time period and was involved in the personal lives of the Leonard families.
The book is dedicated to Sam.
A wonderful book for a gift for your family or anyone you know interested in  the history of America. 
I received a signed compliment copy of The Man His Father Was from and the author, Pat Leonard.
I definitely give this book a 5 star rating. The opinions are my own.
Leona Olson

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Book Review of The Corpse Wore Tartan by Kaitlyn Dunnett

 Book review of The Corpse Wore Tartan by Kaitlyn Dunnett,
A Liss MacCrimmon Scottish Mystery


Can there be such a thing as too many men in kilts? Normally Liss MacCrimmon, proprietor of Moosetookalook, Maine’s one and only Scottish Emporium, would say no. But that’s before one of them turns out to be murderous…

The bagpipes are blaring at Moosetookalook’s finest hotel, reopened just in time to host an annual celebration of Scotland’s most beloved poet. But when the Scottish Heritage Appreciation Society arrives on the scene, they bring more than a hunger for haggis and a passion for plaid. The quarrelsome group harbors their share of long held grudges, and the animosity only grows as the whiskey flows. Then a fierce blizzard hits, trapping everyone—angry Scotsmen, hapless hotel staff, and Liss herself—indoors.

It isn’t long before a body is discovered face down in a storage room, covered in tartan—and blood. Now Liss will have to work fast to solve this crime before another body goes as cold as the snowstorm keeping her cooped up with a killer.
Leona's Review:

There is a group called the Scottish Heritage Appreciation Society (SHAS) holding a conference at The Spruces Hotel, named for the beautiful trees. Liss MacCrimmon is the part owner of the Moosetookalook Scottish Emporium. 

The first crime is the report of a stolen brooch that was taken from the room of Phil MacMillan. The second is the death of one of the members of the group.
Phil has a twin, Phineas, and a wife Eunice. Some other characters are Joe Ruskin, the owner of the hotel, Sherri from the police, Harvey MacHenry and Richardson Bruce who are members of SHAS.

There is some romance in the book with Liss and Dan Ruskin who is the son of the owner of The Spruces.

To make matters worse, there is a snow storm that cuts the electricity and the people in the hotel are stranded. 

This is my first read of the series of these books. They are Kilt Dead, Scone Cold Dead, A Wee Christmas Homicide and The Corpse Wore Tartan. The author became interested in Scottish heritage after her husband began to play the bagpipes. 

I have to give this a 3.5 star rating. Not a 4 star rating but also not a 3 star rating. I wish there had been more information about the Scottish heritage and customs.  I also wish there had not been so much fighting among the members of the group. The book did keep the reader guessing. The book could be read as a stand alone but I think it would help to have read the other books in the series.
The opinions are my own.

I won this book from the author and from  Kaitlyn Dunnett signed the book and that was a nice thought.

Kaitlyn Dunnett may be found at 

Leona Olson

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Book Review of A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White

Enlarge cover


A Name Unknown (Shadows Over England #1)

Edwardian Romance and History Gains a Twist of Suspense

Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they concentrate on stealing high-value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. But when Rosemary must determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany, she is in for the challenge of a lifetime. How does one steal a family's history, their very name?

Peter Holstein, given his family's German blood, writes his popular series of adventure novels under a pen name. With European politics boiling and his own neighbors suspicious of him, Peter debates whether it might be best to change his name for good. When Rosemary shows up at his door pretending to be a historian and offering to help him trace his family history, his question might be answered.

But as the two work together and Rosemary sees his gracious reaction to his neighbors' scornful attacks, she wonders if her assignment is going down the wrong path. Is it too late to help him prove that he's more than his name?
Leona's Review:
I have enjoyed Roseanna White's books and A Name Unknown was no exception.
When Rosemary is offered a lot of money from Mr. V to find information that Peter Holstein is not loyal to England. She knows this amount of money could help her "family" of street thieves find a real home and a place the young children could go to school. Peter's family is German and this is the beginning of talk of a war with Germany in 1914.
She pretends to be a librarian that will organize Peter's vast collection of books and is hired for the job.
Unknown to her, Peter is an author under another name. She wonders what he is doing daily at his typewriter.
The author has named a number of books in Peter's collection which includes Melville's Moby Dick. Rosemary was not impressed about a book which is about a whale so she chose a book that was written by Peter in his pen name not knowing he was the author.
A young girl in Rosemary's "family" was badly injured when she is pushed into the road and a horse drawn carriage hits and seriously injures her.
Peter is very religious and throughout the book the reader will see references to God and Jesus. Rosemary asks Peter if he will pray for Olivia as she said "Perhaps God will listen to you" and the meaning being "because he never listens to me."
Historical names such as Queen Victoria, King George, Prince Edward, Winston Churchill, Conan Doyle and Martin Luther are in the book. This book had many historical facts and for those who want to learn something of the hardships of the poor, the problem with having a German name in pre-war times and friendship this is a good read that is full of mystery and a lot of history.
It is a clean Christian book.
I received a complimentary copy of A Name Unknown from Bethany House. The opinions are my own.
It gets a 5 star rating.
The reader may find Roseanna M. White at
Leona Olson

Monday, July 24, 2017

Book Review of Justice Buried by Patricia Bradley

Review of Justice Buried by Patricia Bradley

Justice Buried (Memphis Cold Case #2)
by Patricia Bradley (Goodreads Author)


In an effort to get her security consulting business off the ground, Kelsey Allen has been spending a lot of time up in the air, rappelling down buildings and climbing through windows to show business owners their vulnerabilities to thieves. When she is hired to pose as a conservator at the Pink Palace Museum in order to test their security weaknesses after some artifacts go missing, she's ecstatic. But when her investigative focus turns from theft to murder, Kelsey knows she's out of her league--and possibly in the cross hairs. When blast-from-the-past Detective Brad Hollister is called in to investigate, Kelsey may find that he's the biggest security threat yet . . . to her heart.

Crackling with romantic tension and laced with intrigue, this suspenseful story from award-winning author Patricia Bradley will keep readers guessing--and looking over their shoulders.
Leona's Review:
This book had me from the beginning. There is a mystery of why artifacts have disappeared from the Pink Palace Museum in Memphis. The museum is expecting an Egyptian death mask and Kelsey Allen has been hired by Rutherford Security to find the security leak. The curator is on maternity leave and Kelsey fills her spot.
A  murder occurs so there is more to the story than the missing pieces from the museum. Also a box of bones are delivered to the museum.
She finds she is working with Brad Hollister of the Memphis Police Department; they know each other. Brad is in the cold case division at this time.
Another mystery is the disappearance of Kelsey's father at the same time some artifacts disappeared.
Kelsey uses her talent as an expert rock climber as part of her investigations. This really added to the story and excitement.
There is plenty of mystery and characters so the reader has to try to figure out who is doing what.
It is a clean Christian romance. Dedicated to "To our heroes in blue who put their lives on the line 24/7 to keep us safe and to their families."
Acknowledgements to "As always, to God, who gives me the words"  She also acknowledges her friends and family, her editors, her agent, the art, editorial, marketing and sales teams, Sgt. Joe Stark of the MPD, and the wonderful women at the Pink Palace Museum and to her awesome readers. "  Patricia Bradley did put names of people in the acknowledgements but I did not add them.
I received a complimentary copy from LibraryThing and the author, Patricia Bradley. The copy is an Advance Reading Copy (ARC) and was not the final text. I could not find any typos and felt this was great as it is written. I give it a 5 star rating and look forward to other books by Patricia Bradley.
Patricia Bradley may be found at
Leona Olson

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Book review of Egypt's Sister by Angela Hunt

 Book review of Egypt's Sister by Angela Hunt. 
Egypt's Sister (The Silent Years #1)
Five decades before the birth of Christ, Chava, daughter of the royal tutor, grows up with Urbi, a princess in Alexandria's royal palace. When Urbi becomes Queen Cleopatra, Chava vows to be a faithful friend no matter what--but after she and Cleopatra have an argument, she finds herself imprisoned and sold into slavery.

Torn from her family, her community, and her elevated place in Alexandrian society, Chava finds herself cast off and alone in Rome. Forced to learn difficult lessons, she struggles to trust a promise HaShem has given her. After experiencing the best and worst of Roman society, Chava must choose between love and honor, between her own desires and God's will for her life.
Paperback, 379 pages
Published July 4th 2017 by Bethany House
0764219324 (ISBN13: 9780764219320)
From the back of the book:
Raised together in the Alexandrian palace, Chava, the Hebrew daughter of the royal tutor, and Urbi, an Egyptian princess, become as close as sisters- and rivals with their dreams of greatness. When Urbi unexpectedly ascends the throne as Queen Cleopatra, Chava believes their bond is strong enough to survive, But absolute power has a way of changing everything.
The ultimate betrayal rips Chava from everything she's ever known and sends her to the lowest rung of Roman society where she must choose between love and honor, between her own desires and God's will for her life, if she hopes to rise again.
Leona's Review:
This book will take the reader into the historical time of Queen Cleopatra, the Romans and Egypt. 
This is the first book I have read by Angela Hunt and was very impressed. The book is in the first person spoken by Chava.
The book begins with a close friendship of Chava and Urbi, the future Queen Cleopatra. Their bond is so close that Urbi cuts the palm of Chava and herself and says "Forever friends" and also says "you are blood of my blood, and heart of my heart" which is repeated by Chava.
Chava has been told by HaShem, God, she will be with the queen when she is happiest and at the end.
The friendship does not last after Chava angers the queen and she and her father are put into prison. They are separated and Chava is sold as a slave.
Chava begins a new life as a slave and the reader follows her and how she matures. Chava says at one point in her life "Now, older and wiser, I understood how life could change in a moment."
This book is full of historical names and places even though it is historical fiction. It is one of the few I have read that has written of the twins and other son Cleopatra had besides Caesarion.
The reader will find some historical names that include Cleopatra, Antony, Caesar, Achillas, King Auletes, Octavian, Octavia and Herod.
Historical places such as Egypt, Alexandria, the Library of Alexandria, Cyprus, Rome and Africa. I wish there had been a map of the areas. I know most readers are familiar but in historical books like this one, I personally like a map.
Languages Chava spoke are Aramaic, Hebrew, Latin and Greek.
Some portions describe the harsh lives of slaves but the author does not dwell on it. No bad language.
There are discussions at the end of the story. One question is " How much did you know about Cleopatra before reading this story? Did anything surprise you?"
I received a complimentary copy of Egypt's Sister by Angela Hunt from the author and Bethany House Publishers. The opinions are my own.
Egypt's Sister will get a 5 star rating from me and I look forward to the future books of the series.
Angela Hunt may be found at
Leona Olson