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