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

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Carolina Gold by Dorothy Love

Carolina Gold by Dorothy Love   


Book Description

The war is over, but at Fairhaven Plantation, Charlotte's struggle has just begun.
Following her father’s death, Charlotte Fraser returns to Fairhaven, her family’s rice plantation in the South Carolina Lowcountry. With no one else to rely upon, smart, independent Charlotte is determined to resume cultivating the superior strain of rice called Carolina Gold. But the war has left the plantation in ruins, her father’s former bondsmen are free, and workers and equipment are in short supply.
To make ends meet, Charlotte reluctantly agrees to tutor the two young daughters of her widowed neighbor and heir to Willowood Plantation, Nicholas Betancourt. Just as her friendship with Nick deepens, he embarks upon a quest to prove his claim to Willowood and sends Charlotte on a dangerous journey that uncovers a long-held family secret, and threatens everything she holds dear.
Inspired by the life of a 19th-century woman rice farmer, Carolina Gold pays tribute to the hauntingly beautiful Lowcountry and weaves together mystery, romance, and historical detail, bringing to life the story of one young woman’s struggle to restore her ruined world.
Leona's Review:

Carolina Gold by Dorothy Love takes us back to the time era after the Civil War of the United States.  The book begins in Charleston, South Carolina, 3 March 1868.

Charlotte Fraser has lost her father and is about the meet with his lawyer.  She is 23 years of age and alone as both of her parents are gone, her mother when Charlotte was 12 years old. Their plantation grew rice before the war and Charlotte if trying to grow the crop again.

Carolina Gold concentrates on a young woman trying to survive without help, a home that has been partially destroyed and money that is very tight for Charlotte as well as her neighbors who also lost so much during this trying time. It does not spend a lot of time on the war period but after the war and the problems they have. There are also some good times that are refreshing, the beach for example.

Charlotte tutors the children of Nicholas Betancourt, who has lost his wife; the children and Charlotte become very close. I really liked the character of Daniel and was so glad he was added to the book. In fact, all the characters played an important role. Every woman needs a good friend such as Augusta.

Charlotte's father told her "you must have patience and faith." (page 150)

"Circumstances has given me little choice" says Charlotte. (page 266)

Real life situations such as "swatting flies", "humidity and wiping the face with a handkerchief" and  "bleeding patients". Some politics and just enough to add to the time period.  Books and education were some of the main topics and played an important role.

Many occasions in the book which add to the story and always seem to advance the projects such as reading, drawing, sickness, crops ruined and searching for what and why her father was telling her before he died.

I liked this book and give it a 5 star. There was a lot of history and I personally thought feelings for the characters.  The clothes of the period, carriages, needlework, church, sickness, New Orleans, the South, books, the beach and when and how to do the crops. No bad language and a love story that is of the time era such as courtships.

I would have liked to see a recipe for Augusta's tea cakes, they sounded good.
The front of the book has a map (always appreciated) and the back has a Reading Group Guide. (page 323) Question # 3: How did the war change the roles of Southern women? How were these changes shown in the book?
The book is "Dedicated to the memory of Elizabeth Waties Allston Pringle (1845-1921), whose remarkable life and work inspired this novel" There is also a picture of her on the dedication page.
Author's Note on page 320.
Acknowledgements on page 325.
About the Author on page 328.
I received a complimentary copy of Carolina Gold from to read and review. The opinions are my own.
Dorothy Love may be reached at:
Leona Olson

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Charmed Place by Antoinette Stockenberg

A Charmed Placeby Antoinette Stockenberg
"Maddie Regan and Dan Hawke were college lovers who were compelled to go separate ways after a horrific event for which Dan was blamed. She settled down and raised a family; he roamed the planet as a war correspondent. But a near death experience brings Dan in search of the only woman he has ever loved. His plan to win Maddie is simple: take up residence in a lighthouse just a stone's throw from her family's summer home, and then make her fall back in love with him. He knows her family will object and suspects that her daughter might; but he refuses to believe that Maddie herself -- the woman who has haunted his dreams for two decades -- can be any less in love with him than he is with her.
It's not that simple for Maddie. She has a jealous ex-husband to deal with ... a feisty, resentful teenager ... a widowed mother unable to emerge from mourning ... and the ongoing heartbreak of her father's unsolved murder. Is it possible to throw all of that aside for the chance to be happy?"
Kindle Edition, 359 pages
Published February 21st 2012 (first published June 15th 1998)

Leona's Review:
This was a fairly quick read even with a lot of happenings in the book. Michael is a jealous ex-husband of Maddie and their 14 year old daughter is sometimes unsure of which parent is best for her. Dan and Maddie are college lovers and he has rented a place next to her home on Cape Cod.
The reader deals with hurricanes, psychic research, teenagers, saving a lighthouse, Maddie's pregnant sister-in-law and stubborn brother, murder, Michael as a jealous ex-husband, nostalgia, sex on the beach, sex, friendship, women around the age of forty, old flames, Cape Cod, near death experience for Dan, a lighthouse and borrowing sugar. Even with the number of things happening, it did not overwhelm me. 
I am giving it a 3 star because of the unnecessary sex between Maddie and Dan. Not needed at all and some circumstances were (I thought) "pathetic" as was said on Kindle page 214. This would have been a 4 star from me if not added. We are dealing with a teenager in this book and I think it would have been a good read for younger readers if omitted. Maybe as an almost Hallmark movie type would have helped. 
A professional note. Why would Edward Timmons have a Carnival Cruise Line cruise brochure? As a travel professional, I would have suggested a cruise line like Celebrity or Holland America for his age. I love Carnival and have sailed them many times but usually not for his age group as a first cruise, if this was a first cruise.
I would read other books from Antoinette Stockenberg and appreciate the free download.
The main characters are:
Maddie Timmons Regan- mother, ex-wife and love of Dan
Dan Hawke- an ex-war correspondent who has been in love with Maddie since college
Tracey- the 14 year old daughter of Maddie and Michael
Michael Regan- ex- husband and involved in a psychic study
Edward Timmons- murdered father of Maddie
Sarah Timmons-mother of Maddie
George- brother of Maddie
Claire- sister-in-law of Maddie
Norah and Joan- friends of Maddie
I downloaded this free book from The opinions are my own.
You may find Antoinette Stockenberg on facebook and her site
Leona Olson

Friday, November 22, 2013

Book review of Cry of the Peacock by V. R. Christensen.

Book review of Cry of the Peacock by V. R. Christensen.
"An illustrious marriage, a fortune, a position of wealth and influence. These are the dreams and ambitions of any Victorian woman of sense. Or are they? Perhaps not for Arabella Gray. The death of Abbie’s father, the overseer of a large country estate, leaves her without means or resources, without, even, a place to live. Her landlords, in an extraordinary display of charity, invite her to live at Holdaway Hall. But the invitation is as puzzling as it is generous. Why are the Crawfords, who have never paid her any notice before, so concerned with her wellbeing now?
It’s a question the younger Crawford brothers would like to have answered as well. Certainly Miss Gray is a mercenary upstart. Certainly their brother is mad for fancying himself in love with her. Such a union would make them a laughing stock. They mean to put a stop to it, but when they learn that her past is closely—even disturbingly—connected with their own, they are brought up short, forced to ask themselves some very hard questions. As Abbie herself soon learns, there is a great mystery at the heart of her landlords’ extraordinary offer. Everything she has ever dreamt of might be hers for the taking, but is the price worth it? More than her happiness alone rests upon her decision. If she refuses Ruskin Crawford’s offer of marriage, will she be able to live with the consequences? If she does, will she be able to live with herself?
In the end, all must ask themselves some very hard questions. What does it mean to be a man or woman of honor and integrity? What does it mean, after all, to be a gentleman? And what, exactly, is the price of a woman’s heart?"

Leona's Review:

I liked this book. I had just finished reading two dark books and needed something different. I have always liked the Victorian age books and this fit the bill and it was not as dark.
It begins September 1890 in London. There is the death of a child just delivered and Abbie is quite upset We are introduced a little to Abbie, her sister, Mariana, the lawyer, William Meridith, Aunt Newhaven's home and one of the Crawford brothers.
Chapter One begins with two Crawford brothers at their London club where David and James are talking about David seeing Abbie outside of Abbie's  aunt's home.
The Crawford family has plans for Abbie, Arabella, to  marry the eldest son, Ruskin. There is a secret from the past about the Crawford and Gray families. The book is based on this secret. Even some in the family are unaware, as well as Abbie, of the reasons for the intentions of the marriage to Ruskin. The parents of Abbie and Miranda are dead.
The book deals with electricity, gas, the London tube, hydraulic lifts and cable. Names such as Emile Rogers

 and the Benz engines are also mentioned ( David had an interest in these projects and Abbie also found it interesting. I have included two sites to read for those who would like to know more on the subjects. I personally like to learn when I read and I find this information very much part of the book.
The book also mentions needlework, sewing, dresses, cabs, hair styles, mourning clothing, the library of books, dark woods of the old homes, politics, workers, unwed mothers, arranged marriages and the proper conduct of the women for society. Many English words are used also (or at least I find them  so): salver, a tray for serving food is one.
There were drawings at each chapter which added to the book.
The main characters are:
Abbie, Arabella, Gray.
Miranda Gray, Abbie's sister.
Mr. William Meridith, lawyer and friend of the Gray family and the Aunt.
Sir Nicholas and Mrs. Crawford, parents of the three sons.
David, James and Ruskin Crawford.
Katherine Barnwell, whose has a presumed arranged marriage with David.
Aunt Newhaven who runs the Magdalen home for unwed women in need of care and understanding.
Hetty Summerson who is having a child and is at the home.
I liked this book but did find some typos. Kathryn in used one time for the name Katherine (Kindle page 185) and another is Becky and no 's for the word (Kindle page 247). A couple of others I also saw. It did not stop me from enjoying this book and giving it a strong 4 Star.
Read some reviews about the book on goodreads:
Site of the author, V. R Christensen. You may also sign up for her
I downloaded a free book from to get this book. The opinions are my own.
Leona Olson

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Review of To Know You by Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel


 Review of To Know You by Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel
"Julia Whittaker’s rocky past yielded two daughters, both given up for adoption as infants. Now she must find them to try to save her son.
Julia and Matt Whittaker’s son has beaten the odds for thirteen years only to have the odds—and his liver—crash precipitously. The only hope for his survival is a “living liver” transplant, but the transplant list is long and Dillon’s time is short. His two older half-sisters, born eighteen months apart to two different fathers, offer his only hope for survival.
But can Julia ask a young woman—someone she surrendered to strangers long ago and has never spoken with—to make such a sacrifice to save a brother she’s never known? Can she muster the courage to journey back into a shame-filled season of her life, face her choices and their consequences, and find any hope of healing?
And what if she discovers in her own daughters’ lives that a history of foolish choices threatens to repeat itself? Julia knows she’s probably embarking on a fool’s errand—searching for the daughters she abandoned only now that she needs something from them. But love compels Julia to take this journey. Can grace and forgiveness compel her daughters to join her?
In To Know You, Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel explore how the past creates the present . . . and how even the most shattered lives can be redeemed."
Leona's Review:
This is an emotional book to read. I have known people who have been adopted and I am sure the question is " who are my parents?"  I have always thought personally that when the mother gives up her child it is out of love.
I just finished Cry of the Peacock today and part of the book deals with unmarried women. One character, Hetty, does give up her son and it was an emotional read.
The book goes back on forth on the time periods and so it can be a little confusing. Each chapter has a date, time and location which helps.
Julia's daughters are given up for adoption.  Destiny, born with the same name, and Chloe, born with the name Hope.
Destiny is very feisty and has just thrown her boyfriend, Luke, from the home as he now believes it is wrong to live together. Chloe is married to Jack who has their entire lives planned.
I find deceit when Chloe finds a friend on a chat site on the Internet. I find heartbreak and being unsure when the young women are to meet with their fathers. I find love when the Whittakers try to help their dying son. I find God is there when he is called. I find love from Julia and Luke and Jack and Matt. I find confusion when Chloe and Destiny are unsure of what to do for a brother they never met and they are also strangers.
This is a good read . I am not sure one can find their bio-parents and children so quickly but I still liked the book. It brings closeness to families.
It gives one to think about adoption and donors. I do have close friends who have had the blessings of receiving from donors.
The book is dedicated:
(From Shannon) "To my sister Donna, in anticipation of getting to know you more when we meet again in Heaven."
(From Kathryn) "To Jeanne Dignan, who blesses me even now."
Advance Acclaim on the front page of the book.
There is a reading group guide on page 347.
Question  #9 : How did you see God's sovereignty, mercy, and unconditional love unfold through the development of the characters?
Acknowledgements on page 351.
An except from Veil of Secrets on page 353.
About the authors on page 360.
Go to this site for more information:
I received a complimentary copy to read and review from Litfuse Publicity Group. Published by Thomas Nelson. The opinions are my own. I give it a strong 4 star.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

This Is Your Captain Speaking My Fantastic Voyage Through Hollywood, Faith & Life

This Is Your Captain Speaking My Fantastic Voyage Through Hollywood, Faith & Life
By Gavin MacLeod, with Mark Dagostino

This Is Your Captain Speaking My Fantastic Voyage Through Hollywood, Faith & Life
By Gavin MacLeod, with Mark Dagostino
Published by Thomas Nelson
The remarkable life, career, and faith journey of the star of The Love Boat and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
For 16 years, millions of Americans welcomed Gavin MacLeod into their living rooms every Saturday night. This veteran of stage and screen transformed himself from a seasoned character actor into the leading, lovable father-figure of The Love Boat at the height of TV’s boom years.

For more than 30 years, Gavin MacLeod has served as the global ambassador for Princess Cruises. Speaking to thousands of travelers each year, and signing hundreds of autographs at every port, he stands poised to celebrate his amazing journey with a look back at the golden era of American television.

The consummate storyteller, Gavin shares his fondest memories of meeting and working with countless stars, such as Cary Grant, Steve McQueen, Gregory Peck, Bette Davis, Frank Sinatra, Ethel Merman, Ella Fitzgerald, Ronald Reagan, Milton Berle, and Fred Astaire.

From his humble theatrical beginnings in upstate New York, to Radio City Music Hall and on to Hollywood, Gavin MacLeod was on the fast track to success. However, a few hard life lessons—like dealing with a divorce—taught Gavin that the key to happiness was only through a deep faith in God, and he feels his work for Christ is more important than any award. Three years later his remarriage proved that a great struggle can culminate in a happy ending.

Leona's review:

This Is Your Captain Speaking drew my attention as a travel professional who specializes in cruises. I have seen Gavin MacLeod at some cruise conferences when he represented Princess Cruise Lines. I even had my picture taken with him and yes, he did have that big smile.
This is an autobiography of a man that "made it after all".
I learned a lot about the man we watched on the Mary Tyler Moore and The Love Boat. I now need to watch for him in his movies.
This is also a book about how God has affected the life of Gavin MacLeod and what and why. Many life experiences led this man to become closer to God and Jesus. He seems to have made friends with many people of many different opinions. Lots of sad times and some hard lessons of life he had to learn. One of the most touching moments was when he lost his good friend Ted Knight, whom we came to know as Ted Baxter on the Mary Tyler Show.
I have taken just a touch of what is in each chapter. There are so many names I cannot name all of them and so many movies and TV shows he was in; with and without his hair. Brings back so many memories.
The pictures in the book are wonderful and help make the story.
On the first pages of the book: Praise for This is Your Captain Speaking are comments by Marion Ross, Dr. Jack W, Hayford, Nancy Sinatra, Julie Benson, Mike Huckabee, Pat Boone, Kathie Lee Gifford, Florence Henderson and John Tinker.

I am giving This is Your Captain Speaking, My Fantastic Voyage Through Hollywood, Faith & Life a 4 star rating. I received a complimentary copy from to read and review. The opinions are my own.
Published by W Publishing Group, an Imprint of Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Leona Olson

The dedication page reads "This book is dedicated to the Captain of my life, who came that I might have life and have it more abundantly."

Preface: One Door Closes
Fired by Hal March (page xiv)

Chapter 1: Pleasantville.
A chapter about his young life. Born with the name Allan George See in Mount Kisco, New York. (page 2)
Chapter 2: Life Goes On
Death of his father. (page 13) Professor in college by name of Beatrice MacLeod. (page 20)
Chapter 3: The big Apple
Buys his first hairpiece. (page 28)
Chapter 4: Broadway, Baby!
Loved A Hatful of rain with Ben Gazzara, Anthony Franciosa and Shelly Winter is 1956. (page 39)
Chapter 5: Hurray for Hollywood
First steady TV gig at Desilu Productions. (page 50)
Chapter 6: The Elevator Goes Up
Sees Adolphe Menjou and Herbert Marshall at the unemployment office. (page 55)
Chapter 7: Connections
Meets Gregory Peck who had been a men's underwear model for the Sears and Roebuck catalog. (page 62)
Chapter 8: Glorified
McHale's Navy show. (page 70)
Chapter 9: Half-Full
Gavin MacLeod's fall from a horse. (page 87)
Chapter 10: You're Gonna Make It After All
Mary Tyler Show. (page 94)
Chapter 11: Love Is All Around
Problems with marriage to Rootie. (page 106)
Chapter 12: Chuckles
Murray in the Mary Tyler Show. (page 112)
Chapter 13: Learning to Quit
Drinking is a big problem. (page 121)
Chapter 14: The Fame Game
Buys home for mother. (page 127)
Chapter 15: Climb Aboard
The Love Boat. (page 132)
Chapter 16: Shipmates
Love Boat Follies with Ethel Merman, Carol Channing, Ann Miller, Della Reese, Van Johnson and Cab Calloway. (page 144)
Chapter 17: My Crew
" I was so blessed to spend all those years with that brilliant cast. We really became an extended family to one another..." (page 157)
Chapter 18: Seeing Stars
Ronald Reagan. (page 163)
Chapter 19: Man Overboard
Divorce from Patti. (page 182)
Chapter 20: The Life Boat
Prayed to Jesus and called Patti. (page 189)
Chapter 21: Moving On
Patti and Gavin remarry. (page 199)
Chapter 22: Back in Port
A life focused on family and God. (page 212). Beginning with Princess Cruises. (page 212)
Chapter 23: The Sea's Highs
Princess's ships. (page 224) Gavin has bypass on Good Friday (page 224)
Chapter 24: New Callings
Trinity Broadcasting Network. (page 232)
Chapter 25: Not So Gracefully
"Getting older is no picnic, let me tell you" (page 239)
Chapter 26: Enjoying the Blessings
The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry movie. (page 245)

"This book would not have been possible without the support of a whole bunch of incredibly talented people.." (page 255)
Photo Credits
There is a list of the photos on pages 259 and 260.
About the Authors
Gavin MacLeod and Mark Dagostino

Leona Olson

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Church Builder by A. L. Shields

The Church Builder

From the jacket of the book:
"For two months, small-town lawyer Bethany Barclay has been mourning the hit-and-run death of her enigmatic best friend, Annabelle Seaver. Then the son of her wealthiest client is found murdered in her kitchen. When Bethany herself becomes the leading suspect, she must flee both the authorities and a mysterious killer. But there is more at stake than she knows: Bethany is caught in the web of a shadowy organization determined to destroy Christianity."

Leona's Review:
This book was somewhat of a disappointment for me. I found grammar errors as well as other errors such as at the top of one the pages, it talked about the tea bags and the end of the page, it said he stirred his coffee.

I think more could have been accomplished with a better ending as well as less activities happening in the book. There were too many names and I was unsure of the good guys and the bad guys for a time. It took me to get to page 90 to really find an interest.

Bethany is a lawyer who has written a will for a client and the son is upset the money was left to an organization. He is found dead at Bethany's house and then she begins her run from the law and others.

I never find a connect with her and the other characters in the book. It is a mystery and does have the twists and turns a reader would expect from a mystery book. I kept waiting for someone to really be trusted.

Religion is part of the book but not overly done.

I would also have found a different title for The Church Builder; I do not think the title fits the book.

I do suggest that the reader complete the book as it does have some interesting portions and surprises. I will probably do a re-read of it.

I am unsure of the ratings I want to give it; I have been from a 3 to a 5 and will end up with a 4.
I received a complimentary copy of The Church Builder from to read and review.
The opinions are my own.

From zondervan:
A. L. Shields is a pseudonym for Stephen L. Carter, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale, where he has taught for thirty years. He is also the author of seven acclaimed works of nonfiction and five bestselling novels. His first novel, The Emperor of Ocean Park (2002), spent eleven weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. His most recent novel, The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln, was published in July of 2012.
Write to Zondervan authors or their estates in care of Zondervan. Your mail will be forwarded as soon as possible, but please note that the author might not be able to respond personally. Send postal mail to:
A.L. Shields
c/o Zondervan
ATTN: Author Care
5300 Patterson SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49530

Monday, September 30, 2013

Fatal Tide by Lis Wiehl with Pete Nelson

Fatal Tide (East Salem Trilogy #3)

by Lis Wiehl (Goodreads Author), Pete Nelson (With)
Fatal Tide

Dani and Tommy discover that the vicious killings in East Salem were merely the birth pangs of a greater evil about to be born.
Occultist leaders at Saint Adrian’s school are in league with an East Salem pharmaceutical company. Together they've developed a drug that acts as a time-bomb in children, attacking and killing the prefrontal cortex—the moral center of the brain—once adolescence begins.
East Salem residents Dani Harris, forensic psychiatrist, and Tommy Gunderson, former pro-football player, have discovered the plan to deliver this drug into the water system and will stop at nothing to halt it. Their secret weapon? Reese Stratton, a student who barely escaped from St. Adrian’s—without his twin brother.
Now demonic creatures are terrorizing East Salem under the cover of darkness. Having killed two residents, the beasts have surrounded Tommy’s hillside home. But their deadly attacks seem to have been just a prelude to greater disaster: during a physical battle between angels and demons, a dam breaks, flooding the town of East Salem, but also washing it clean.

Leona's Review:
This is the third book in the East Salem Trilogy by Lis Wiehl with Pete Nelson. I have not read the other two books but Fatal Tide is a stand alone read.

The book is about a fight of good and evil, angels and demons.

Tommy Gunderson has taken in Reese Stratton-Mallins who has escaped from St. Adrian's school. Reese has a twin, Edmund, who has changed; the twins at one time communicated with each other verbally and mentally. Their parents were killed in a car accident. The twins are 17 years old.

Dani Harris and Tommy Gunderson are some of the main characters in the book and closer that just friends. They work together with friends and others to rid the evil from the school.

There are many medical terms used in the book; I found I have "hypnagogic dreams" which are dreams that incorporate external stimuli into dream experiences. A dreamer hearing someone mowing the lawn, might dream he was riding a motorcycle. (page 232)

Some touches of humor in the book. Reese, a Brit, says "This is quite good. I've never had a jelly and peanut butter sandwich before". "Peanut butter and jelly, Ruth corrected him. I don't know why, but jelly never comes first." (page 182).

This is a fast moving book that focus on Christian teaching of evil. The time this all happens is December 20-25.

No bad language or sex in the book but some violence.

The back of the book has twelve reading group guide questions. Two questions are: 1.Can you cite and incidents where angels have directly intervened in your life and 2. The East Salem Trilogy uses, for literary purposes, the idea of prophecies. What prophecies do you believe in? What's the difference between a false prophecy and a true prophecy?

I give it a 5 star because I really liked it.

I received a complimentary copy of Fatal Tide to read and review from The opinions are my own.


About this authoredit data
Lis Wiehl is the author "Face of Betrayal," a New York Times Best Seller.

She has also written "Winning Every Time: How to Use the Skills of a Lawyer in the Trials of Your Life" and "The 51% Minority: How Women Still Are Not Equal and What You Can Do About It."

In addition to her written work, Wiehl is currently a legal analyst for Fox News. She has been with the network since 2001.

A graduate of Harvard Law School, Wiehl is an adjunct professor at New York Law School.

Pete Nelson

Pete Nelson lives with his wife and son in Westchester, New York. He got his MFA from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1979 and has written both fiction and non-fiction for magazines, including Harpers, Playboy, Esquire, MS, Outside, The Iowa Review, National Wildlife, Glamour, Redbook. He was a columnist for Mademoiselle and a staff writer for LIVE Magazine, covering various live events including horse pulls, music festivals, dog shows, accordion camps and arm wrestling championships. Recently he was a contributing editor and feature writer for Wondertime, a Disney parenting magazine.

He's published twelve young adult novels, including a six-book series about a girl named Sylvia Smith-Smith which earned him an Edgar Award nomina...more Pete Nelson lives with his wife and son in Westchester, New York. He got his MFA from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1979 and has written both fiction and non-fiction for magazines, including Harpers, Playboy, Esquire, MS, Outside, The Iowa Review, National Wildlife, Glamour, Redbook. He was a columnist for Mademoiselle and a staff writer for LIVE Magazine, covering various live events including horse pulls, music festivals, dog shows, accordion camps and arm wrestling championships. Recently he was a contributing editor and feature writer for Wondertime, a Disney parenting magazine.

He's published twelve young adult novels, including a six-book series about a girl named Sylvia Smith-Smith which earned him an Edgar Award nomination from the Mystery Writers of America. His young adult non-fiction WWII history, Left For Dead (Randomhouse, 2002) about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis won the 2003 Christopher award as was named to the American Library Association's 2003 top ten list.

His other non-fiction titles include Real Man Tells All (Viking, 1988), Marry Like a Man (NAL, l992), That Others May Live (Crown, 2000) and Kidshape (Rutledge Hill, 2004). His novel The Christmas List was published by Rutledge Hill Press in 2004. He wrote, with former army counterintelligence agent Dave DeBatto, a four book series of military thrillers, including CI: Team Red (2005), CI: Dark Target (2006), CI: Mission Liberty (2006) and CI: Homeland Threat (2007) published by Time-Warner. A More Unbending Battle; The Harlem Hellfighters' Struggle for Democracy in WWI and Equality at Home, was published in 2009 by Basic Civitas books. His novel, I Thought You Were Dead, will be published by Algonquin in 2010. He also has two CDs out on the Signature Sounds label, the first entitled The Restless Boys Club (1996), the second called Days Like Horses (2000).


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Big Sky Summer by Linda Lael Miller

Big Sky Summer by Linda Lael Miller From "Big Sky Summer (Parable, Montana #4) by Linda Lael Miller Big Sky Summer (Parable, Montana, #4) The "First Lady of the West," #1 New York Times bestselling author Linda Lael Miller, welcomes you home to Parable, Montana-where love awaits. With his father's rodeo legacy to continue and a prosperous spread to run, Walker Parrish has no time to dwell on wrecked relationships. But country-western sweetheart Casey Elder is out of the spotlight and back in Parable, Montana. Keeping her children's paternity under wraps has always been part of Casey's plan to give them normal, uncomplicated lives. Now the best way to hold her family together seems to be to let Walker be a part of it-as her husband of convenience. Or will some secrets-like Casey's desire to be the rancher's wife in every way-unravel, with unforeseen results?" Leona's Review: Casey Elder is a country-western singer with two teenage children, Clare and Shane. Walker Parrish is a past lover and secretly the father of the children. Casey has moved back to Parable, Montana for the sake of the children. He is a rancher and emotionally attached to the children and they are also to him. This book is more of a contemporary western romance. My first read by Linda Lael Miller and I felt like I had missed some of the details of other characters. Once I got into the book, I could see the characters from the past. This is a stand alone book but reading the other books would be a big help. I liked this book but did think it needed more substance in it. I think Casey needed to face the facts about her life and the life of her children. I did like the Western feeling in the book; the homestead of Walker's great-great grandparents, the screen door and I especially liked that Walker and Shane shook hands like men instead of a "hi-five". Animals play a part in the book; horses and dogs and they have names. No bad language but there are some love scenes. I received a copy of Big Sky Summer in the mail without any message. I enter contests and receive books to read and review but not sure who sent it. The opinions are my own. I will give it a 3.75 star. Leona Olson

Monday, September 16, 2013


"Tracie Peterson Delivers Romance and Adventure

When Chantel Panetta's younger sister claims to be in love with Orlando Calarco, Chantel knows there is no hope. The Panettas and Calarcos have been sworn enemies for decades, and young love cannot heal the deep wounds between the two iron-mining families. Yet, unable to resist Isabella's pleas, Chantel agrees to help her sister spend time with Orlando...only to have a run-in with Dante, Orlando's brother. The older, more handsome one.

Chantel can't deny the attraction that flares when she's with Dante. But when a tragedy occurs at the mine, is there any hope that the hatred that has simmered between these two families might be resolved? Or will Chantel's hope for love be buried amidst decades of misunderstanding?"

Leona's Review

Another good book from Tracie Peterson. This is the third book of the series, Land of Shining Waters. We are taken to Ely, Minnesota to October 1890.

Chantel Panetta has returned for a year long visit to her Nonna and Nonno (grandparents) in Italy. The parents send their unmarried children to Italy when they turned twenty-one.

Things have changed when she finds her younger sister has fallen in love with Orlando Calarco. The tension between the two families began in the old country decades ago and the story is that is it over the death of a mule. The women of both families accept the love but the fathers are still at odds until an accident in the mine changes that. God is also very involved with the families. " You believe God spoke to you." Father Buh replied. "I believe God speaks to all of His children"

The author brings the reader into the tension and love in her books with the characters. There are some laughs and some tears.

The descriptions of the area and the mines brought memories of my grandfather and uncles who worked in the coal mines of Colorado. Chantel's family moved to Michigan and then to Minnesota; mine moved from Michigan to Colorado. Tracie Peterson talks about the dinner pail and I have my grandfather's pail he used in the mines. My grandparent's used Nona and Nono instead of Nonna and Nonno. One of the men's name was Vittorio, my first uncle's name. When I was doing research for when he came to America, I kept looking for the name Victor on the immigration records before I realized that was his Americanized name. This book really connected personally for me.

In the book there are references to the foods, the needlework (tatting), chores (chopping wood) and a Minnesota winter. Many words are in Italian: "Si, che fa bene. That's good".

The miner's lady is dedicated to Chantel Karch, You are an awesome woman. Always look to Jesus!.

The books of the Land of Shining Waters are The Icecutter's Daughter, The Quarryman's Bride and The Miner's Lady.

Tracie Peterson's web site is

I received a complimentary copy to read and review from Bethany House. The opinions are my own. I give it a 5 star rating.

Leona Olson

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Review of Melinda and the Wild West by Linda Weaver Clarke

Melinda and the Wild West, A family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho by Linda Weaver Clarke
"In 1896 Melinda Gamble a very elegant, very naive young woman from Boston decides to give up her life of monotonous comfort for the turbulent uncertainty of the still untamed Wild West. Driven by her intense desire to make a difference in the world, Melinda takes a job as a schoolteacher in the small town of Paris, Idaho, where she comes face-to-face with a frightening bank robber, a vicious grizzly bear, and an intense blizzard that leaves her clinging to her life. But it is a ruggedly handsome and very mysterious stranger who challenges Melinda with the one thing for which she was least prepared love."
Leona's Review:
Melinda Gamble is moving out West from Boston to become a schoolteacher in Paris, Idaho. The year is 1896 and as she told her mother " Mama, it's 1896. Women can make choices about their own lives more than ever". (page 3) Melinda will live with her Aunt Martha and Uncle William, her father's sister.
Adventures begin right away as she encounters a band robbery by Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch. She meets the father of one of her school children when he finds her wading in the cool stream. Gilbert Roberts is a widower and the father of 8 year old Jenny. He is only interested in his daughter and his cattle ranch.
Being a schoolteacher is a learning experience for Melinda as well as living in the Wild West when she encounters a grizzly bear, a blizzard and a man who frustrates her. " "Are you still here, Miss Gamble?" Gilbert asked, as if wearied by her presence. "Yes. and I'm not leaving until we talk about this further:" Melinda was slightly out of breath as she tried to keep up with Gilbert's fast pace. "Miss Gamble, I'm done talking." "But I'm not. Melinda said with a firm and stubborn tone in her voice." (page 54)
I loved the descriptions of the area and the lake. Melinda taught the school children about why pencils are yellow, who declared Thanksgiving a national holiday, about the history of the area and about the Mormons and the Indians. The reader learns or is reconnected with the readings of Jules Verne and the book, Black Beauty.
I loved the stories of the skunk oil in school, the descriptions of the clothing and food, the hardships our first settlers endured and the children school outings when they drink water from the cliff with their tin cups.
This is a sweet and tender romance between two people from different walks of life, East meets West.
No violence of bad language.
Melinda and the Wild West is dedicated to: The Memory of Gilbert and Sarah Weaver (1835-1909) My great-grandparents: the first pioneers who settled Paris, Idaho.
God is present in many areas of Melinda and the Wild West. Melinda and Gilbert sing Far, Far Away on Judea's Plains'. This was composed by a Mormon pioneer from St. George, Utah. (page 113)
"Far, far away on Judea's plains.
Shepherds of old heard the joyous strains:
Glory to God, Glory to God,
Glory to God in the highest;
Peace on Earth, good-will to men;
Peace on Earth, goodwill to men!  (page 114)
I received a signed complimentary copy of Melinda and the Wild West from the author. I give it a 5 star for the history, love story and the families that make the story.
You may find Linda Weaver Clarke at
Leona Olson

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Review of Daughter of the King by Carlene Havel and Sharon Faucheux


Daughter of the King 

Daughter of the King by Carlene Havel and Sharon Facheux
When I received this book, I was unsure of how much I did not remember from the Bible.
A good and really fast read that kept me interested in the story of the first wife of King David, Michal.
When they first met, David was a young man and Michal was a princess, the daughter of King Saul. Michal remembered the first time she saw him at the age of six. page 16. David was the son of Jesse of Bethlehem.
King Saul, betrothed her sister Merab to David and Michal was devastated. "But it came to pass at the time when Merab Saul's daughter should have been given to David, that she was given unto Adriel the Meholathite to wife. 1 Samuel 18:19." page 33.
Michal was always in love with David. "And Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David, and that Michal Saul's daughter loved him 1 Samuel 18:28" page 141
"Samuel 18:20 says that Michal loved David, the only place in the Bible where a woman's love for a man is recorded, according to footnotes in The Jewish Study Bible from"
The story concentrates on the life of Michal and her family. Her father is not a kind king and has a bad temper. The mother of Michal, Ahinoam, knows this and has learned what to do or not do.
Saul marries Michal to Phalti[el] saying that David is dead. "But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David's wife, to Philti[el] the son of Laish, which was of Gallim. 1 Samuel 25:44" page 1
The book begins with the death of King Saul and then goes back to the time David and Michal meet.
There is a verse at the beginning of each chapter that usually describes the chapter.
"and they anointed David king over Israel. David was 30 years old when he began to reign.... II Samuel 5:3,4" page 175
Many interesting facts about this time era with the foods, clothing, wars, modes of transportion, God, and the lives of women.
I learned a lot about David and his life. He had eight wives with Michal being the first. He had many children and the book says how he loved them. "Now, these were the sons of David, which were born unto him in Hebron: the firstborn, Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; the second, Daniel, of Abigail the Carmelitess; The third: Absalom the son of Macchah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur: the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith: The fifth, Stephatiah of Abital: the sixth, Ithream by Eglah his wife. Chronicles 3:1-4:. page 102.
It was not easy to share a husband and there were conflicts. All the women had a chore given to them. Michal loved her dyes and yarn and that was her chore. I was surprised to find knitting during those Biblical days; I always thought of medieval times. I knew of weaving and this is also mentioned. I first became interested in dyes when I read The Purple Quest by Frank G. Slaughter about the Phoenicians and the purple dye. I have used this interest to do natural dyes.
The authors, Carlene Havel and Sharon Facheux did a good job of writing a Biblical and a lot of facts for a book of fiction about Michal. "This is what we think might have happened" on page iii.

A lot of research was done to write this book and this is one reason I used some of the verses to help describe the Daughter of the King. It should get the reader interested to do more research on David and Michal. I love the cover of the book and the reader will read when Michal wears green.

I give Daughter of the King a 5 star for all the knowledge in the book and also that it held my attention. I received a complimentary copy from Carlene Havel to read and review. The opinions are my own.

Leona Olson

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Astor Place Vintage by Stephanie Lehmann

Astor Place Vintage: A Novel

Book Description from

June 11, 2013
Amanda Rosenbloom, proprietor of Astor Place Vintage, thinks
she’s on just another call to appraise and possibly purchase
clothing from a wealthy, elderly woman. But after discovering a journal sewn
into a fur muff, Amanda gets much more than she anticipated. The pages of the
journal reveal the life of Olive Westcott, a young woman who had moved to
Manhattan in 1907. Olive was set on pursuing a career as a department store
buyer in an era when Victorian ideas, limiting a woman’s
sphere to marriage and motherhood, were only beginning to give way to modern
ways of thinking. As Amanda reads the journal, her life begins to unravel until
she can no longer ignore this voice from the past. Despite being separated by
one hundred years, Amanda finds she’s connected to Olive in ways neither
could ever have imagined.

Leona's Review:
Astor Place Vintage by Stephanie Lehmann
This book takes us from June 12, 2007 back to 1907. The chapters change between Amanda and Olive with the characters telling the story.
Amanda Rosenbloom owns Astor Place Vintage in New York City. She has gone to the home of an elderly woman, Mrs. Kelly, to purchase some old clothes. Inside a muff she finds a journal written by Olive Westcott. Amanda keeps the journal to read with plans to return it.
The book really goes into the personal lives of both women. Taking us back in to time we learn how a young woman tries to make it on her own.
Keeping us in the time of 2007, we find a woman who is struggling in her business and possible loss of her lease.
I think I liked the strength of Olive more than Amanda. It is after so much time, he is not going to marry you so get out of the relationship. Amanda should have known better and Olive was learning.
Both of the women had close friends. As a reader, I began to think of the characters as real people and not a book of fiction.
There is some very personal descriptions of a woman's time of the month but I though well done. Another description of sex but not erotic. I have never read this in any book so I was surprised. Think medical on some scenes. One book Olive reads is The Four Epochs of Women by Dr. Anna M Galbraith (the book is available at
Pictures of the 1900 time period adds so much to the book and put the reader into the theme of the time. Stephanie Lehmann did her research on the 1900s and I was impressed. Some tragedies such as garment fire. Research on the food, customs of the era, cost of living and even streetcars. Siegel-Cooper Store ( on page 231, Coney Island and the Hippodrome ( page 273 are only some places mentioned.
This book held my attention and I am sure because there was the history in the book. At the back of the book there are Acknowledgements, Photo Credits, TOUCHSTONE READING GROUP GUIDE for discussion, A CONVERSATION WITH STEPAHANIE LEHMANN and ENHANCE YOUR BOOK CLUB which can be used for discussions.
I received a complimentary signed copy from the author. The opinions are my own. I am giving it a 5 star because of the research and the book kept me turning the pages. I am not usually into contemporary romance novels and if it had not been for Olive, I would have not cared for the book as much.
Stephanie Lehmann may be reached at and
Leona Olson