Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Attracted to Fire

Review of Attracted to Fire by DiAnn Mills
Secret Service Agent Meghan Connors has been assigned to protect Vice-President Hall's daughter, Lindsay, who has drug and alcohol problems. Also assigned are Agent Ash Zinder and other agents. Lindsay has been sent to the Dancin' Dust Ranch in West Texas, owned by Press Secretary Scottard Burnette, along with a psychologist, Dr. David Sanchez, and his nurse who will treat Lindsay with vitamins and healthy foods. The ranch is about 100 miles west of Austin. (I am guessing in the Kerrville area of Texas because of the description area and that the Barton Creek Mall is in the south part of Austin. Not Llano or Brady because I would think there would be a reference to Bar-B-Q. Personal opinion because I can picture it more).

This is a mystery that involves the President and Vice-President of the United States. The President has cancer, resigns and Vice-President Hall is sworn in as President. Lindsay is frightened for the safety of her father and she also fears for her life. Drugs and alcohol has helped her cope with the problems.

The book is also a Christian romance and so no bad language (one time) and no sex. I was impressed on page 19 when "he has a reputation for being a pain in the rear" were the words instead of the common word today, a**. DiAnn Mills had me at that point.

The book is a page turner and the reader is trying to find the ones in the book who are committing the crimes.

There is murder, assassinations, drugs, romance, Secret Service Agents and power. The cast of characters are: Chip Leonard, son of Ethan Leonard who runs the ranch for the Press Secretary; Pepper who is the cook at the ranch, cooks spicy food and has a care less attitude (I think); the nurse, Carla and a number of agents, on the ranch and off.

I did not like the cover of the book I got from the library and made a remark when I checked it out. Don't judge a book by it's cover and this is a good example. My copy has a woman, not with red hair, holding a gun.

I am giving Attracted to Fire a 4 star. I like the descriptions, the personal contacts and the fact author kept the reader wondering even though the reader will probably guess some of the outcome.

I chose this book as part of the Tyndale Reading Program:

I look forward to reading other book by this author. You man reach DiAnn Mills at and

Check out the Tyndale Reading Program and receive a book.

Leona Olson

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Book of Madness and Cures

The Book of Madness and Cures by Regina O' Melveny
Gabriella Mondini is a doctor in Venice in 1590. She has decided to search for her father, also a doctor who left home 10 years ago to research for his book on maladies (madness). By taking his letters with her, she uses them as her map to find him. Letters from France, the Kingdom of Spain and Scotland are some places from where the letters were sent. The journey begins in Venetia, Venice, and leads the reader north as far as Edenburg and down to Tanger. There is a map on one of the front pages, always a nice feature.
During this period of time women doctors were considered to be doing witchcraft rather than being a doctor. The only reason she was accepted into the Guild of Physicians as a doctor was because of her father. She was told her she had to resign after he was gone.
On her journey are two of her servants, Lorenzo and his wife, Olmina. Gabriella's mother does not want her to leave but Gabriella is a determined lady.
On their journey they face many hardships as well as meet new people. Many knew of Gabriella's father which encouraged her to keep traveling. Dr. Baldino told Gabriella "Nothing is certain. But it's true that your father wandered the land at night, wrestling with something unknown in himself" (page 194).
At times, the women had to cut their hair and dress as men, endure cold weather, illness and short supplies of food.
People were always greeted in Venice even by strangers but not everywhere, Gabriella found as she traveled.
During this time, Gabriella kept taking notes and writing information collected about cures and herbs for the book The Book of Diseases.
Some notes I took were:
They traveled the lands of the Christians and Moors.
The Julian and Georgian calendars used in two different places (page 189). Understanding the Julian to Gregorian Calendar The United Kingdom and all their colonies, like the American Colonies, did not recognize the Gregorian calendar (also known as Western or Christian Calendar) until September 1752, so leading to the main reason for two different years on many records; such as 1712/1713.
They found different religions and how they felt about other religions (Catholics were not always welcome). Herbs and plants for healing and how many were used. Gabriella took notes for the book. She thought the majolica jars for apothecaries were not as nice as in Venice (page 260).
The hardships they endured, the food they ate and what they had to drink. Yunnan Tea made in tea cakes "Here we have the uncommon Yunnan tea that the Dutch nobles enjoy for over a hundred silver ducats a pound" as Signor Vincenzo Gradenigo shared it with Gabriella, Lorenzo and Olmina. (page 163).
I really liked the descriptions of the places, food, herbs, dress of the different areas and the people.
No sex and no bad language. Some disasters along the way.
I think the author, Regina O' Melveny has done a wonderful job on The Book of Madness and Cures. It is a book I could re-read even though I know the end. I liked the quick conclusion of the story. It was brief but still complete.
The author may be reached at
I will give it a five star.
I received a complimentary copy of The Book of Madness and Cures to read and review from the author and the Hachett Book Group.The opinions are my own.
Leona Olson

Saturday, June 23, 2012

To Heaven and Back by Mary C. Neal, MD

To Heaven and Back by Mary C. Neal, MD is about an orthopedic doctor who drowned while on a kayaking trip in Chile. The book spends little time of her journey into Heaven but does give enough of her time there throughout the book.
The book is dedicated to God: "I dedicate this book to God: You gave me life And I live for your glory."
Mary Neal's book talks a lot about her life to become a doctor, her family life, her religious life, the divorce of her parents, loss of family members, her death and return to life. The book is a fast read, I read it in one day while taking some breaks, and emotional. I could feel her emotions as she wrote the book and her encounters in life and death.
I liked this book but as some have reviewed, I did not care for the politics of Kerry and Obama at the end of the book, but since this was her book, I guess she could write whatever she wanted.
For those who doubt that people return from a near death experience, this is a book for them to read. A few days before I lost my mother, I was in the hospital with her. She told us she had gone into a tunnel, never saw the light and was at peace and did not hurt. I said I was glad she came back. I had to fly back home for some knee surgery and told her I would be back in a couple of weeks, we lived in different states, when she had surgery on her leg. As a diabetic she was about to lose her leg. She died while they were checking her out of the hospital the next day; I think God did not want her to go through surgery at her age, 89.
Mary's husband, Bill, is with her the whole time as she heals from the experience in Chile. In the book, Mary Neal said her husband is the glue that holds things together.
I will say, I thought she should have been in a hospital instead of a hotel after the accident and also should have taken a medical flight back to the United States. (The reader will see what I mean when they read the book.)
I will give a little commercial here: anyone traveling, especially out of the country, should take out insurance. As a travel professional, I have seen too many people lose a trip and injured people have the expense of returning home.
The author uses a lot of biblical quotes in To Heaven and Back. She also has the poem "Footprints in the Sand" by Carolyn Joyce Carty ( the Internet has another author, Mary Stevenson, I have seen anonymous many times and her version is different than the poem in this book.)
I will write the one in the book because it is always a special poem and I believe it relates to all of us.
Footprints in the Sand
One night a man had a dream
He dreamed he was walking along a beach with the Lord
Scenes from his life flashed across the sky
And he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to him and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of his life had flashed before him,
He recalled that at the lowest and saddest times of his life
There was only one set of footprints.
Dismayed, he asked, "Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
You'd walk with me all the way.
I don't understand why, when I needed you most,
You would leave me."
The Lord replied, "My precious child.
I love you and would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering,
When you saw only one set of footprints...
That was when I carried you."
There are some family pictures in the book that helps the reader connect with the family, always a nice feature.
I give this book a four star. I received a complimentary copy of To Heaven and Back to review. The opinions are my own. I wish to thank the author for such a look into her and her families life.
Leona Olson

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tumbleweeds by Leila Meacham

Tumbleweeds by Leila Meacham

The prologue begins in 2008 and then goes the book goes back into the past beginning in 1979. A story about three people and how lives can change and separate; how life does not always give you what you want and what you plan but how one can change when needed.
Trey Don Hall, John Caldwell and Catherine Ann Benson are the main characters who became friends at a young age. I will add Rufus, a dog given to Cathy by Trey Don and John. In this sometimes complicated book, the three go through many passions, friendships and love. The book is based in the Panhandle of Texas and how football is so important in the lives of the small town of Kersey and the people. I am from West Texas and football is very important to the whole town; something Cathy, who was from California, could never understand. (My mother who was from Colorado never understood it either but my father did.)
Families are involved and there is a feeling of small town closeness, sometimes good and sometimes bad.
Trey was quoted as saying "The Texas Panhandle breeds a bunch of us long, tall drink-of-water look-alikes. We're as common as tumbleweeds".
One life leads to football, another to become a priest and another one works in a diner.
I hate to review too much of the book as the reader will need to get into the book and feel the emotions of the characters. A book that covers decades and many lives.
John named his pickup, Old Red, my father had his International pickup he bought from Texas Electric and called it the Red Mule. Many Texas references to the colleges and universities and towns.
The recipe for Emma's Hot water Corn Bread is at the end of the book, a nice treat.
I give it a five star rating for the overall twists and turns and the page turner it is.
I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author and Grand Central Publishing. The opinions are my own. I wish to thank Leila Meacham for such a wonderful, and emotional, book to read and review.
Leona Olson

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fated by Alyson Noel

Fated by Alyson Noel is the first book in a series called the Soul Seekers-a spirit world between the living and the dead.
Daire is now 16 years old and her fate has been set from before her birth. Her father died before she was born and her mother raised her. Her mother, Jennika, is a cosmetologist and travels the world working on movie sets. Daire travels with her and has never had a real life or home. Daire has been having dreams and also gets violent as she goes into seizures. Her grandmother, her father's mother, has contacted Jennika and said it is now the time for the training of Daire and she must bring Daire to New Mexico. Daire finds a different way of life; real school for the first time, a home, herbs and a grandmother, Paloma, who is kind but mysterious. Paloma is Spanish and a widow. Abuela is grandmother in Spanish. (the book I read before Fated also had the word Abuela).
The scenery of New Mexico is apparent in the adobe buildings, mesquite trees (not really a tree but more of a bush), juniper, pinon trees, the Santo de Cristo Mountains and tumbleweeds. Foods that describe New Mexico are pinon coffee from the pinon nuts (my mother and aunts favorite nut) and blue corn pancakes.
The book is written in first person and leads the reader into the Lower World and Upper World as well as the Middle World.
There are demons, darkness, dreams, souls, portals, evil and good, Shamans, Seekers, balance, reborn and renewed energy and ancestors that help pull the reader into the contents of the novel.
There are five sections of Fated: Then, Now, The Spirit Road, The Raven's Song and Dark Harvest.
The author has done a lot of research on Animal Spirit Guides such as the Raven, Coyote, Horse, Wolf and Eagle which are all important in Fated.
Some other characters are Chay, a friend of Paloma and the twins, Cade and Dace; one evil and one good and one with icy- blue eyes from Daire's dreams.
This is a young adult paranormal book that is a good read. A little bit of sexual mention and the language is pretty much clean. I am giving Fated a 4 1/2 star and look forward to reading Echo, the next book in the series, followed by Mystic and Horizon.
I received a complimentary copy of Fated to read and review and I wish to thank the author for such a good read. The book is a hard cover and a very impressive book cover; it would make a nice gift for a teenager. The opinions are my own.
The reader can reach the Alyson Noel at
Leona Olson

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fated book review out tomorrow

I have finished Fated by Alyson Noel and will post a review. My computer hung up on me and so my son took a picture of what I had written so I could re-write it.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Ball Player

The Ball Player~a novel~ by Clay Snellgrove
This is a book about a man and his love for baseball. The Ball Player began playing baseball in high school and then played for the Minor Leagues hoping for the chance to make it to the Majors.
I am not a real baseball fan and maybe because of that, I really learned a lot about the people involved in the game. A lot of emotions are tied into this book and I could see the Ball Player cared for what happened to those he loved and cared for as well as what he did with his life. The reader could feel the tension as the
player prepared to bat, run or catch a ball. I learned a lot about baseball and the players; moving from team to team must be hard as well as emotional. The book describes the game, talks about drugs, sex and ups and downs in life. Dreams are an important part of the novel and what it takes to get them. The death of his best friend hits hard for the Ball Player and to a reader like me.
Clay Snellgrove was raised by caring parents and this was apparent in his book with the respect for the parents in the book. He did play for the San Diego Padres and played six seasons in professional baseball. Clay and his wife, Erin, live in Tennessee. At first I thought he was from Round Rock, Texas because it was mentioned a couple of times. I lived in Round Rock for ten years and they do have a baseball team there. He also mentioned Midland, Texas for a ball game; Midland is 52 miles from my hometown. The Ball Player is in first tense but so different in the writing that the main character answers are never in quotes.
F word only used two times and other language was not bad. Sorry, I do not personally care for a lot of foul mouth language so I add this to my reviews. It is a love story that also carries a lot of "what do I do?" in the book. I give it a 4 1/2 star rating.
You may reach Clay at or find his blog at His email is :
I have a complimentary paperback copy of The Ball Player from the author. Readers may also purchase a Kindle version on Amazon.
I will post this on my blog., Amazon and
Leona Olson