Monday, December 29, 2014

Review of Antony & Cleopatra by William Shakespeare


In this extraordinary play, one of Shakespeare's finest tragedies, a once-great general finds himself torn between his duty to the Roman Empire and his passionate attachment to Cleopatra, the alluring "Queen of the Nile." In depicting the collision of two contrasting cultures — Antony's world of political conniving and the hedonistic pleasures of Cleopatra's court — the playwright portrays a timeless paradox of human nature, the quest for seemingly irreconcilable goals.
The action of the play ranges from Alexandria and Rome to Syria and Athens, from the rugged quarters of military camps to the luxurious atmosphere of the Egyptian court. In the latter milieu Antony lingers, shamed by his overwhelming passion for Cleopatra yet irresistibly drawn toward love as a source of vitality and renewal. After ignoring increasingly urgent demands by his co-ruler, Octavius Caesar, for his return to Rome, Antony reluctantly obeys at last, marrying Octavius's sister and forming a fragile political alliance. This bond shatters when he returns to Cleopatra's side. Octavius declares war on the lovers, forcing them into a battle for world domination with dramatic and unforgettable consequences.
Brimming with Shakespeare's matchless poetry, Antony and Cleopatra is one of the world's great plays. In this inexpensive edition, it will enthrall students of drama and literature, poetry lovers, and all who appreciate Shakespeare's art.

Leona's Review:
I have not read Shakespeare for years and so decided to read Antony & Cleopatra. As usual it is hard to understand Shakespeare but I imagined Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra and Richard Burton as Antony.
It was an interesting read of a play. I will read it again in the future.  There are five acts and scenes in each act.
There is the cast of characters at the front of the book which helps the reader identify the people in the play. There is also an explanation of words such as "Nay if an oily palm" is a sweaty palm (page 5) and "Be a child o' the time" which is comply with the humor of the minute. (page 43).
The publication is Dover Publications. www.DOVERPUBLICATIONS.COM.  The cost is reasonable and 115 pages.
For those interested in the history of Antony and Cleopatra, this is a good read. I will have to give William Shakespeare a 5 star rating.
I won this book frpm and the opinions are my own.
Leona  Olson

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Book Review of 52 Little Lessons from Les Miserables by Bob Welch

52 Little Lessons from Les Miserables by Bob Welch
Gold Medallion Award-winner Bob Welch crafts 52 nuggets of Bible-based wisdom from one of the most popular novels, musicals, and films of all time: "Les Miserables." In "52 Little Lessons from Les Miserables," Bob Welch walks readers through Hugo's masterpiece, extracting dozens of uniquely spiritual reflections from this enduring portrait of poverty, social injustice, mercy, and redemption. Welch reminds us that Jean Valjean's life provides the truest example of why real love is found in the grittiest places, and that hearts are made whole beneath the crush of mercy. Most important, though, Welch keeps returning to the intersections of faith and reality throughout Hugo's writing--those places where mercy becomes an inroad to the heart, and where love is only truly received when it is given without condition. Discover again why life's purpose is found not in attending to personal needs and desires, but in responding to the hearts of others.
Leona's Review:
It has been a  long time since I have watched the movie, Les Miserables and after reading 52 Little Lessons from Les Miserables, I now want to read the book. I did not realize Victor Hugo had written the book in 1862. There is also information about Victor Hugo;  I knew a little of him but now encouraged to read more.
Bob Welch has written an inspirational book using the characters as key points in messages. The book has love, hate, misery, death, suffering but I also read hope .
The first part of the book has the characters and places listed and how to pronounce the words which helps the reader. The chapters are short and have a message.
Chapter 8, "It's Not About "The Stuff". "They confuse heaven's radiance stars with a duck's footprint left in the mud" from Les Miserables which "being the solution begins with the perspective." (page 28). I understood the message was we worry too much about what we have. The author uses a man's BMW car as an example.
Chapter 29, "Wisdom Can Come From Weird Places" "God has his own ways" from Les Miserables. "God sends us life lessons on pleasant breezes and on ill winds. It is up to us to raise our sails". (page 99) I understand it is up to us to make the decisions.
There is a chapter for book clubs to use for discussions. Question number 4: "How were Jean Valjean and Avert similar? How were they different?"
I read this book in a few days but as one reviewer wrote, this is good for inspirational reading for one time a week.
The author has done a great job of making the reader think about the messages. I give it a 5 star raring.
I received a complimentary copy to read and review from The opinions are my own.
This is a Thomas Nelson Publisher book. It would make a wonderful gift for a friend or family member.
Bob Welch is a author. You may reach Bob Welch at He is an inspirational speaker as well a writer.
Leona Olson

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Review of Rhett Butler's People by Donald McCaig

Rhett Butler's People by Donald McCaig

Fully authorized by the Margaret Mitchell estate, Rhett Butler's People is the astonishing and long-awaited novel that parallels the Great American Novel, Gone With The Wind. Twelve years in the making, the publication of Rhett Butler's People marks a major and historic cultural event.

Through the storytelling mastery of award-winning writer Donald McCaig, the life and times of the dashing Rhett Butler unfolds.  Through Rhett's eyes we meet the people who shaped his larger than life personality as it sprang from Margaret Mitchell's unforgettable pages: Langston Butler, Rhett's unyielding father; Rosemary his steadfast sister; Tunis Bonneau, Rhett's best friend and a onetime slave; Belle Watling, the woman for whom Rhett cared long before he met Scarlett O'Hara at Twelve Oaks Plantation, on the fateful eve of the Civil War.

Of course there is Scarlett.  Katie Scarlett O'Hara, the headstrong, passionate woman whose life is inextricably entwined with Rhett's: more like him than she cares to admit; more in love with him than she'll ever know…

Brought to vivid and authentic life by the hand of a master, Rhett Butler's People fulfills the dreams of those whose imaginations have been indelibly marked by Gone With The Wind. 

Leona's Review:

I won this book from I have always liked the movie Gone With the Wind and since this was authorized by the Margaret Mitchell estate I thought it would be a good book to read.
There is some history that was changed as the author admits but it did not change my opinion of the book.
Rhett Butler's People is about the people, friends, enemies and family of Rhett Butler. It is not always about Rhett Butler and Scarlett.  There is the history of the Civil War and how it changed so many lives. Like Gone With the Wind, it had hard times and sad times; it also shows people can and will come through hardships.
A lot of Gone With the Wind is in Rhett Butler's People and I thought it was well done.
The movie happened to be on while I was reading this book and it helped me picture the characters.  It kept the main characters as they were in the movie; Melanie is still sweet and Scarlett is still demanding.
I have never read Gone With the Wind but have watched the movie many times. I see I need to read the book now.
I give it a 5 star rating. I did like it and will read it again.
Donald MaCaig is on facebook.

Leona Olson

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Review of Get to Know Apostls Paul by Nancy I.Sanders

Book review of Get to Know Apostle Paul by Nancy I. Sanders

Apostle Paul—part of the Get to Know series—is a unique biography about Paul. Focusing on the life and character of this Biblical hero, using color photographs, maps, and other visual resources to tell the whole story, young biography fans will come to learn more about this man of the God, his writings, his impact on the early church, and the role he plays in history.
Featuring a bibliography and scriptural references throughout, this is sure to become a favorite for young readers and for first book reports.

Leona's Review:
This is the fourth book of the Get to Know Series. They are Get to Know Jesus, Get to Know Mary, Get to Know King Saul and Get to Know Apostle Paul.

The author, Nancy I. Sanders has written wonderful books that are for the children but as an adult, I learned a lot.
These are great Christmas gifts and also gifts for Jewish children. The books are reasonably priced so one can get the four Get to Know Series for a child. Read the books with them a chapter at a time and let them do further studies on the subjects.

This book focuses on the Apostle Paul and the book begins with the young boy, Saul.
There are maps and also symbols such a Sandal for a Biblical Hero, an Eye for Eyewitness Account, a Clay Jar for Did You Know? and a Scroll for a word bank.

Table of Contents:

A boy Named Saul  (page 11)
A Hebrew of Hebrews (page 19)
Destroy the Church! (page 27)
The Road to Damascus (page 35)
Preaching in the Synagogues (page 43)
Christians: Followers of Christ (page 51)
The First Missionary Journey (page 57)
The Jerusalem Council (page 65)
The Second missionary Journey (page 73)
The Third Missionary Council (page 81)
Appeal to Caesar (page 91)
From Paul in Rome (page 99)
Timeline of Paul (page 106)
Glossary (page 109)
Selected Bibliography (page 113)
Source notes (page 115)
Student Resources (page 119)
About the Author (page 121)
The book is dedicated to:
Dan-It's amazing to think that you were walking in the footsteps of Paul as I was writing this book. What an awesome journey God provided you to take! Dad and I thank God for you. We pray God will complete the good work He's begun in your life.
I recieved a complimantary copy to read and review from The opinions are my own.

Nancy I. Sanders may be found at
Leona Olson

Review of Get to Know Jesus by Nancy I. Sanders

Book review of Get to Know Mary by Nancy I. Sanders

Book Description
Jesus - part of the Get to Know series - is a unique biography about Jesus, the son of God. Focusing on the life and character of this Biblical hero, using color photographs, maps, and other visual resources to tell the whole story, young biography fans will come to learn more about this man of the God and the role he plays in history. Featuring a bibliography and scriptural references throughout, this is sure to become a favorite for young readers and for first book reports.

Leona's Review:

Get to Know Jesus is part of the Get To Know series. Jesus, Mary, King David and Apostle Paul. These are children's book but as an adult I learned a lot.

Get to Know Jesus begins the story of Jesus at His birth. It has the many stages of His life as a child and as an adult.

There are symbols for features throughout the book: Scripture, look for an oil lamp to read a Scripture from the Bible; Bible Hero, look for a sandal for information about a Bible hero; Eyewitness Account, look for a picture of an eye each time someone who saw what happened tells about it; Did You Know?, look for a clay jar to learn fun facts; and Word Bank, look for a scroll to learn the meanings of new words.

Page 31 has a family tree of Jesus. Using something like this can help a child understand that like them, Jesus also had a family.

There are maps, pictures and drawings which are always appreciated for a learning tool.

Table of Contents:

The Important Plan

A Special Birth

Childhood and Youth

The Teacher

Stories and Parables

The Son of God


Preparing for Passover

A Sad Day

Unexpected News

A New Purpose

The Future

Timeline of Jesus


Selected Bibliography

Source Notes

Student Resources

About the Author

The book is dedicated to Jon and Linda, and the next generation of believers you've raised to be followers of the Truth.

Visit Nancy I. Sanders at her site:

I give this a 5 star rating. I received a complimentary copy from; HarperCollins Christian Publishing. ( to read and review. The opinions are my own.

I recommend one buy this series for a Christmas present for a child. I would think a child of 10 or so could read with help and one could read to a younger child. These books can be read over and over and make good conversations for a family get together.

Leona Olson

Leona's review on Get to Know Mary:

Friday, November 14, 2014

Review of Widows of Eastwick




Book Description

 October 14, 2008
More than three decades after the events described in The Witches of Eastwick, Alexandra, Jane, and Sukie—widowed, aging, and with their occult powers fading—return for the summer to the Rhode Island town where they once made piquant scandal and sometimes deadly mischief. But what was then a center of license and liberation is now a “haven of wholesomeness” populated by hockey moms and househusbands primly rebelling against their absent, reckless, self-involved parents. With spirits still free but energy waning, the three women reconstitute their coven to confront not only this youthful counterspell of propriety but also the enmity of those longtime townsfolk who, through their youthful witchery, they irreparably harmed. In this wise and wicked satire on the way we make peace with our pasts, John Updike proves himself a wizard on every page.
Leona's Review:
I found this book at my local library.  I actually needed an author that last name began with U so I chose this one.
I have not read the first book or seen the movie; it happened to be on TV as I was reading the book but to be honest, it did not hold my attention so I did not watch all of it.
The book was about three ageing women/ witches trying to go back to Eastwick. Things have  changed as one finds when they return to the past.
The book was OK and maybe because I am in my 70s, it was somewhat  a little depressing. I did like the characters.
I felt there were too many happenings in the book but I did enjoy the travels and descriptions. I never got to Egypt but have been to China to see the Great Wall and Terra Cotta Warriors.
I will give it a 3 star for my rating.
Leona Olson

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Review of Ghost Moon by Rebecca York

Book review of Ghost Moon  by Rebecca York.


York delivers the seventh novel in her paranormal Moon series. A freed slave from a parallel universe, Quinn has come to this world on a mission, but she's interrupted by the ghost of Caleb, a seductive werewolf who had been murdered by the ancestors of Quinn's dearest friends.

Leona's Review:

To be honest, I needed a Y for my author's challenge of reads and found this at my library.
Quinn is from another world and has gone through a portal to the world of her friends.
Caleb was killed by his cousin 75 years ago and is a werewolf.
This book held my attention even though it is not usually the type of book I read. The author kept my interest to the end.
I did not care for the sexual language in the book but liked the relationship of the characters. As the reader, I became familiar with the characters, good and bad.
The book is fast moving and quite detailed in descriptions so the reader is not lost with the many characters and different worlds. I think they author has done a great job and I did enjoy the read. I am giving it a 4 star only because of some of the language.

I am adding this information from so the reader can have some information about Rebecca York.

"[Rebecca York's] books. . . deliver what they promise: excitement, mystery, romance. . ."
- Michael Dirda, Washington Post

An award-winning, best-selling novelist, Ruth Glick is the author of over 140 books. Writing as Rebecca York, she has authored or co-authored over 90 romantic suspense novels. The first of her Berkley Sensation paranormal romantic suspense novels, KILLING MOON, was published in June 2003; EDGE OF THE MOON followed in August 2003 and WITCHING MOON in October 2003. KILLING MOON and EDGE OF THE MOON were launch books for the Berkley Sensation imprint.

She writes the popular 43 Light Street series for Harlequin Intrigue. Over 30 Light Street Intrigues have been published. NOWHERE MAN was called "one of the most heart-wrenching, moving works of romantic suspense in several years," by reviewer Harriet Klausner.

Ruth's many awards include two Rita finalist books. She has two Career Achievement awards from Romantic Times: for Series Romantic Suspense and Series Romantic Mystery. NOWHERE MAN was the Romantic Times Best Intrigue of 1998, and the book has been selected as one of their Reviewers' "all-time favorite 400 romances." In addition, she received the 1998 Affaire de Coeur's Critics Choice Award for Best Contemporary Novel, also for NOWHERE MAN. Ruth's book, KILLING MOON won the 2003 New Jersey Romance Writers Golden Leaf Award for best Paranormal. AMANDA'S CHILD won the 2001 Golden Leaf Award for Long Contemporary and was nominated for Best Intrigue of 2000 by Romantic Times. "Tyler" in BAYOU BLOOD BROTHERS won the 2001 Golden Leaf Award for best Novella. In 2007 THE SECRET NIGHT received the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for best Harlequin Intrigue. She is one of only 14 romance novelists to have received the Romance Writers of America Centennial Award for having written over 100 romance novels. Ruth's cookbook, 100% PLEASURE, was picked by USA Today as one of the 12 best cookbooks of 1994; her FABULOUS LO-CARB CUISINE was a finalist for the Mid Atlantic Publishers Association's Excellence in Independent Publishing Award.

Several of Ruth's Moon books (WITCHING MOON, SHADOW OF THE MOON, and NEW MOON) have been on the USA Today best-seller list.

Ruth and her husband travel frequently to research settings for novels and taste new dishes for cookbooks. Her many unique experiences are apt to end up in her books--like the time she encountered a coral snake in the Guatemalan jungle or took a flight in a hot air balloon.
The author may be reached at

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Review of I Adored a Lord by Katharine Ashe

Review of I Adored a Lord by Katharine Ashe
    Book description from
    Publication Date: July 29, 2014
Three very different sisters beguile society with their beauty and charm, but only one of them must fulfill a prophecy: marry a prince. Who is the mystery Prince Charming, and which sister will be his bride?
All that clever, passionate Ravenna Caulfield wants is to stay far away from high society's mean girls.
All that handsome, heroic Lord Vitor Courtenay wants is to dash from dangerous adventure to adventure.
Now, snowbound in a castle with a bevy of the ton's scheming maidens all competing for a prince's hand in marriage, Ravenna's worst nightmare has come true.
Now, playing babysitter to his spoiled prince of a half-brother and potential brides, Vitor is champing at the bit to be gone.
When a stolen kiss in a stable leads to a corpse in a suit of armor, a canine kidnapping, and any number of scandalous liaisons, Ravenna and Vitor find themselves wrapped in a mystery they're perfectly paired to solve. But as for the mysteries of love and sex, Vitor's not about to let Ravenna escape until he's gotten what he desires . . .
Leona's Review:
I Adored a Lord is the first book I have read by Katharine Ashe  and I did like it.
I do not remember reading a mystery book that is based around a historical romance which has a murder to be solved in this time era. I liked the character of Ravenna Caulfield and her role. The main male character, Lord Vitor Courtenay, helps her solve the murder. It is a book that had me really wondering "whodunit". There are plenty of characters and so I do appreciate the list of "suspects" at the beginning of the book.
I could have done without the one sex scene in the book, I felt it was a little overdone.
I liked the description of the homes, clothing, food and countryside.
Both of the main characters have a family history and this helps to know them and why they have certain feelings.
The author's notes has some history and also remarks on what she has added with her own imagination.
The animals were a great part of the book and especially the puppy Ravenna gives to Vitor. Ravenna has a special talent with medicine for animals and humans.
I give this a 4 star because I did like the theme of the book. I kept thinking of sleuths in previous books I have read and TV movies that investigated somewhat like Ravenna. 
This is the second of the series but can be read without reading the first of the series, The Prince Catchers. The first book is I Married the Duke, then I Adored a Lord and in the winter of 2015 will be I Loved a Rogue. I will read the others.
Katharine Ashe may be reached at
Leona Olson

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Review of Hot Dish Heaven by Jeanne Cooney.

Review of Hot Dish Heaven by Jeanne Cooney.
Book Description from back of the book.
Publication Date: June 1, 2013
Cub reporter Emerald Malloy is assigned to gather “church food” recipes from the owner of Hot Dish Heaven, a café in a small town in the Red River Valley. Upon her arrival, she learns of a local unsolved murder. Confident that solving the case will catapult her from newspaper “gopher” to investigative reporter, she questions the locals while attending a benefit dinner-dance at the VFW. By the end of the night, she’s consumed lots of hot dish and bars while talking to everyone from the Irish-Catholic priest who lives among these Scandinavian Lutheran farmers to the café owner’s eccentric aunts. She also meets a hunky deputy sheriff and learns some tough lessons about herself. But the question remains, will she live long enough for any of it to matter?
Leona's Review
I checked out this book from my library. I have been reading more mysteries based in Minnesota lately.
Emerald, Emme, is a reporter for a newspaper in Minneapolis and her assignment is to get recipes from a local cafe in Kennedy, Minnesota. When talking to the owner, Margie Johnson, talks about a murder that was never solved. Emme begins her search for the murderer and so this leads the reader to the suspects and what their reason might be to kill Samantha Berg.
I did not care for some of the language that included the a*** and s*** words. Somehow I did not expect these words to be used by some ladies I have met on Minnesota.
It was an easy read and this book does include lots of "hot dish" recipes .I  call them casseroles but they are "hot dishes" in Minnesota.
The recipes call for white Crystal sugar because this is from the beets they harvest in this part of Minnesota.
Some recipes are:
Tater-Tot Hot Dish
Cheeseburger Hot Dish
Hester's Favorite Jell-O
Three- Bean Hot Dish
Nut-Goodie Bars
Recipe for Hester's Favorite Jell-O
"1 can cherry pie filling
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup hot water
1 large box of cherry Jell-o
1 can coca-cola
Dump the first 3 ingredients into a kettle and bring to a boil. Add cherry Jell-O. Stir and let cool. Add the can of regular soda and stir until the bubbles disappear. Chill until firm. Cover with Cool Whip. I know this sounds like a weird Jell-O recipe, with soda pop and all, bit  it's actually very good."
I am giving it a 3 star rating. I will probably read the next book,  Hot Dish Heaven: A Second Helping of Murder and Recipes.
Joanne Cooney may be reached at
Leona Olson

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Playing by Heart by Anne Mateer Book Review

Playing by Heart by Anne Mateer Book Review

Book description from back of book:

Lula Bowman has finally achieved her dream: a teaching position and a scholarship to continue her college education in mathematics. But then a shocking phone call from her sister, Jewel, changes everything.

With a heavy heart, Lula returns to her Oklahoma hometown to do right by her sister, but the only teaching job available in Dunn is combination music instructor/basketball coach. Lula doesn't even consider those real subjects!

Determined to prove herself, Lula commits to covering the job for the rest of the school year. Reluctantly, she turns to the boys' coach, Chet, to learn the newfangled game of basketball. Chet is handsome and single, but Lula has no plans to fall for a local boy. She's returning to college and her scholarship as soon as she gets Jewel back on her feet.

However, the more time she spends around Jewel's family, the girls' basketball team, music classes, and Chet, the more Lula comes to realize what she's given up in her single-minded pursuit of degree after degree. God is working on her heart, and her future is starting to look a lot different than she'd expected.

Leona's Review:

This was my first book I have read by Anne Mateer and it did not disappoint.

Lula Bowman has to put her dream of getting a graduate degree in mathematics on hold to help her sister who has lost her husband. The dream of Lula and her father is for Lula to get a graduate degree; her father had always encouraged Lula.

She returns to Dunn, Oklahoma and gets a job as a music teacher. There is no basketball coach for the girl's team and Lula becomes the coach for extra money. This is a new sport at the time and Lula has no clue of what to do. She uses her handbook, Spalding's Official Basket Ball Guide for Women, 1916-1917, on basketball and the coach, Chet Vaughn, of the boy's basketball team to help her.
We have a telephone and a Tin Lizzie owned by Chet but still a single woman cannot be alone with a man. The book is set during WWl when so many men are at war.

Playing by Heart is a Christian romance and God is called upon many times for help. Have some tissues handy because it is also a book that is emotional because there is death, illness, and a little boy's loss of his father for a few examples.
We also see hope, love, sacrifice, history and caring in this historical novel.

The chapters are in first person, one chapter by Lula and the next by Chet and so forth. It gives the reader the feelings of the main characters.

Lula is in Dunn to help her sister and Chet is there to be with his widowed mother while his brother is off to war.

I received a complimentary copy of Playing by Heart from Bethany House to read and review. The opinions are my own.
This would be a good book club read.
I give it a 5 start rating.
Anne Mateer may be reached at
Leona Olson

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Review of Historical Records Survey Minnesota


Historical Records Survey Minnesota
Inventory of the County Archives
Otter Tail County
The Minnesota Historical records Survey Project
November 1940
No. 56
Work Project Administration

First pages are history of the Otter Tail County and the rest of the pages are records.
Got from University of Minnesota Wilson Library through MNLINK.
Not much on genealogy except for the history.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Review of FOR SALE MINNESOTA by Lars Ljungmark


Lars Ljungmark
Organized promotion of Scandinavian Immigrants 1866-1873
[Borrowed from library. M 325.2485 L.  The Swedish Pioneer Historical Society Chicago 1971]
The Scandinavian immigration to Minnesota 1850-1875 (page 1)
Factors behind the emigration from Sweden (page 3)
Immigration propaganda from Minnesota (page 8)
The immigration policy of the state, 1858-1866 (page 17)
1867: State activity at its peak (page 26)
State immigration promotion and private assistance to emigrants in 1868 (page 52)
1869: State immigrants- promotion activity under auspices of the various ethnic groups (page 57)
1870- 1873: Diminishing state immigration-promotion because of the drive of the land grant railroads (page 65)
Conclusion  (page 69)
Introduction (page 70)
The Scandinavian immigration policy of the St. Paul & Pacific Railroad (page 78)
The beginning of the active immigration policy of the Northern Pacific Railroad 1869-1871 (page 132)
The colonization policy of the Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad 1869-1871 (page 150)
1869-1871 (page 150)
Conclusion (page 153)
The immigration drive of the Northern Pacific 1871-1873: a lost race against time (page 155)
The Swedish drive of the Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad 1871-1873 (page 210)
CONCLUSION (page 263)
APPENSICES (page 267)
1. The population of Minnesota according to census figures ((page 267)
2. Hans Mattson 1832-1895)
3. Original entries of land under the Homestead Laws in  Minnesota 1863-1873 (page 369)
4. Fish Lake Township, Chisago County  (page 271 )
5. The emigrant lists in Gothenburg (page 277)
6. The pull from America, as seen in Mollersvard's emigrant lists (page 281)
Bibliography (page 293)
Index of names (page 302)
Leona's Review:
This book concentrates on the railroad. The part about Fish Lake Township mainly is about the census and how many were farmers. Swedes were the main buyers and farmers.
Jay Cooke's involvement in the Northern Pacific project is on page 132.
The book is very detailed with census figures, graphs and names.
I did not read it as a novel but did read certain pages of interest.
I was looking fro information for my husband's family who were Swedish immigrants.
A great book for research.
Leona Olson

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Review of Death Before Dinner, An Otter Tail County Mystery by Gerald Anderson

Review of Death Before Dinner,  
An Otter Tail County Mystery by Gerald Anderson
From Product Description (ISBN 0738708747, Paperback)
Could something like murder happen in Fergus Falls-a quiet Minnesota town known for its Scandinavian heritage and great lake fishing? Yah, you betcha!
Every August Dr. George Gherkin, the Fergus Falls State University president, hosts a faculty party. It's tradition for George to lock himself inside the kitchen to prepare his signature dish. But instead of Chicken Kiev, the guests find their chef with a meat cleaver buried in his head.
All the guests are suspects. There's Sally Ann Pennwright, Gherkin's scorned secretary and former mistress; Sherwin Williams, the assistant professor of Art who's been denied tenure for years; and Francis Olson, the athletic director whose attempt to leave Fergus Falls was thwarted by Gherkin. Everyone has an ax to grind with the selfserving, manipulative university president. Can the small-town sheriff-who hasn't handled a homicide case in his entire career-solve this unsavory crime?

Leona's Review

I has a problem rating this book but it did get better as it progressed. The Ole joke advanced it from a 3 1/2 star to a 4 star rating. I usually give 4 star ratings when research has been done and I learn something; I did from this book.
I chose this book from my library because I was doing genealogy research for my husband's family. They are from Fergus Falls, Minnesota.
The book begins with a prologue and the death of George Gherkins. The first chapters describe the characters in the book and their issues with the president of the Fergus Falls State University.
The descriptions of the town and people were great and so I liked this history and information. The author is detailed in his descriptions of food, the decor of the homes and clothing of the characters. The author does leave the reader trying to solve the mystery of the murder and why it happened . I did see politics in this book but we are in Minnesota and they are political.  ( I am not a Minnesotan, just married to one and he is a Scandinavian. We do live in Minnesota).

Main characters:
Dr. George Gherkin-President of Fergus Falls State University
Dolly Gherkin-Wife of George Gherkin
Guest List:
Abigail Armbruster- Mayor of Fergus Falls
Dr. Isabel Corazon- Newest Vide-president at Fergus Falls State University
Francis Olson- Athletic Director at Fergus Falls State University
Sally Ann Pennwright- Private Secretary of George Gherkin
Lance Sterling- President of alumni association
Ruth Sterling- Wife of Lance Sterling
Dr. Harold Winston-Professor of History at Fergus Falls State University
Brick Wahl- A Contractor
Sherwin Williams-Assistant Professor of Art
Mae Williams-
 Wife of Sherwin Williams

Sheriff and Deputy
Palmer Knutson- Sheriff of Fergus Falls
Orly Peterson- Deputy of Fergus Falls

I recommend  Death Before Dinner for a good read and some history of a small town in west central Minnesota.
Leona Olson


Friday, August 22, 2014

Book Review of Get to Know King David By Nancy I. Sanders

Book Review of Get to Know King David 
By Nancy I. Sanders   

Book Description from

A shepherd and a king, David lived an adventurous life. He protected his family’s sheep from lions and bears. He fought a giant with just a sling and stone. He even spent years hiding from men who were trying to kill him. And eventually, David became a great king. But David was also a man of God. Learn more about this hero from the Bible and his exciting place in history. Discover what it was like to grow up in ancient Israel and then be a king of God’s people. King David - part of the Get to Know series - will teach you everything you need to know about an imperfect young man whom God used to do great things!
This is a Zondervan book.
Leona's Review: 

Get to Know King David is part of a series of Get to Know books that are about Biblical people. The books are for grade school age children but I think a wonderful family project for the child (children) parents (or grandparents) to study the Bible together and learn.
Get to Know Jesus, Get to Know Mary, Get to Know King David, and Get to Know Apostle Paul.
The book begins with David as a shepherd boy and continues when he is King David.
David played a harp and wrote songs as he tended the sheep. Psalm 23 was written by David: "The Lord is my shepherd. He gives me everything I need'. (page 17)
There is a lot of history and facts about David and other people from the Bible. It is a short book and can be read by chapters instead of reading the complete book at one  time. I suggest the adult read it first so they can be prepared for questions from the child.
There are pictures, maps, and drawings to be used as a learning tool.
Throughout the book are symbols that have information about the book.
Bible Hero- Look for a sandal about information about a Bible hero.
Eyewitness Account- Look for a picture of an eye each time someone who saw what happened tells about it.
Did You Know?- Look for a clay jar to learn fun facts.
Word Bank- Look for a scroll to learn the meanings of new words. The words are also in bold on the page.
A Bible Hero is Samuel: "Samuel was a type of ruler in Israel. He ruled as the judge. He was also a prophet and told God's words to the people. Samuel anointed both Saul and then David as kings of Israel. The books of 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel in the Bible are about the life and times of Samuel" (page 17)
An Eyewitness Account found in Tel Dan tells about a battle. It is written by a king who lived north of Israel. The writing on the stone says he killed a king "of the house of David" ". (page 17)
A Did You Know?: "The Bible has two sections- The Old Testament and the New Testament.  These are also known as the Scriptures. The Old Testament tells the history and beliefs of the Jews. The New Testament tells the history and beliefs of Jesus and his followers. )The stories of David are in the Old Testament" (page 16) (Leona's note: Usually I see His with a capital but this was lower case so I left it that way).
A Word Bank- "Tabernacle: The holy place of worship for the Jews before the temple was built" (page 45)
Table of Contents
Chapter 1- A Shepherd Boy
Chapter 2- A Servant on the King's Court
Chapter 3- The Giant Killer
Chapter 4- King Saul's Anger
Chapter 5- In Hiding
Chapter 6- Waiting for God's Plan
Chapter 7- Crowned as King
Chapter 8- The Second King of Israel
Chapter 9- The Turning Point
Chapter 10- Sad Times
Chapter 11- Temple Plans
Chapter 12- David's Throne Forever
Timeline of David
Selected Bibliography
Source Notes
Student Resources
About the Author
Get to Know King David is dedicated to:
Jeff and Annette-what a blessing it is to call you family as well as friends.
I received a complimentary copy of Get to Know King David by Nancy I. Sanders from
The opinions are my own.
I give this a 5 star rating.
I recommend these as a wonderful Christmas gift or a Jewish holiday. They are not expensive; $ 6.99 is the listed price on the back of the book.
Nancy I. Sanders may be found at
Leona Olson

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book Review of Romance and Mystery Under the Northern Nights by Authors of the Northern Lights Writers.

Book Review of Romance and Mystery Under the Northern Nights by Authors of the Northern Lights Writers.

Book Description

From back of the book:
In For A Penny - Lori Ness
A couple who believes their marriage is irrevocably broken finds healing, life lessons and hope during a visit to an eccentric relative.

Hot Shot - Denise Devine
When Megan Bristol's fiancé jilts her via a text message, her plans to get even with him lead her right into the arms of another man.

Shadow Trail - LuAnn Nies
A quiet romantic weekend in the north woods of Minnesota turns into a dangerous adventure that Crystal hadn't bargained for.

Count the Days - Diane Pearson
Mary never expected her life in a north woods resort to turn to isolation and include an oppressive marriage. When she gets mail and reconnects to an old friend, the door opens to revenge, murder, and escape. Letters tell the story.

Love, Fish and Fangs - Edna Curry
Detective Bob and his family go on vacation and discover a murder. Paperboy son, David, recognizes a customer at the scene. Is David in danger?

Heal My Heart - Shirley Olson
17 year old Julie, unable to take the abuse of her mom and step-father, escapes her prison and grabs a train for Duluth. Searching for a new life, while encountering dangers and problems, she finds a real family love and trust when she finds God.

Candlelight and Silverware - Edna Curry
When Bob invites his world traveler boss and his wife to dinner, his Minneapolis suburban housewife, Carol, panics. How will she measure up?

Night Magic - Nancy Pirri
In depression era Minnesota, Helen Swenson inherits her deceased parents' dream resort--six cabins in need of repair near the Canadian border. Lumberjack Riley Flaherty has recently lost his job. When Helen offers him a job as one as her 'handy man' he gladly accepts, smitten by her beauty. When wild animals in the northern Minnesota woods threaten them into leaving, they don't give in, but discover true love beneath the northern lights.

Breath of God - Lori Ness
A girl on a Minnesota farm in the early 1900's has been forced into a woman's responsibilities too soon. Betsy's struggle to come to terms with what her mother planned for her and the expected roles for women brings her into conflict with both family and community expectations. Memories of the love between her parents and her mother's love help Betsy make the decisions she needs to face the future.
Leona's Review:
I found a clipping from the newspaper about these authors who meet in a place near me in Wyoming, Minnesota so I had an interest in the local authors. I checked out this book from my library in North Branch, Minnesota.
This book is a selection of short  stories and all include the Northern Lights and stories based in Minnesota.
This group of authors is called The Northern Lights Writers of Minnesota.  
After each chapter is About the Author.
Denise Devine
LuAnn Niles
Diane Pearson
Shirley Olson http:/
Nancy Pirri
I enjoyed this book of Minnesota short stories and will give it a 5 star rating.
Leona Olson

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Get to Know Mary by Nancy I. Sanders

MaryGet to Know Series

By Nancy I. Sanders
Published by Zondervan


Chosen by God, Mary was more than the mother of Jesus. She was a hero of the Bible. She said “Yes!” to God. Learn about Mary and her exciting place in history. Discover what it was like to grow up in Israel and be a part of Jesus’ life on earth. Mary - part of the Get to Know series - will teach you everything you need to know about this young woman whom God used to do great things!

Leona's Review:

This book is about Mary, the mother of Jesus. 

The book is dedicated to: Gertrude Toppin- at 94 the sweetness of Christ from your ever-present smile just as brightly as ever!

There is a Table of Contents which has 12 chapters, Timeline of Mary, Glossary, Selected Bibliography, Source Notes, Student Resources, About the Author.

The chapters are: A Daughter in the House of Jacob, Engaged to Be Married, Birth of the Firstborn Son, The Newborn King, The Town of Nazareth, Mary and Joseph's Home, Sharing Faith with Her Family, Holidays are Holy Days, Life and Death, Dealing with the Messiah, At the Cross and A New Beginning.

Get to Know Mary in the first chapter has Mary as a young girl. It gives the reader information of what life was like during this time.

Some facts about the Jewish people at this time are some poor people lived in caves; there were different coins, Jewish, Romans and Greek; a large stone jar weighed about 1000 pounds; there are seven main Jewish Holidays or Feasts, the marketplace could be on any day except the Sabbath and in Jewish tradition, a new day started at sunset and lasted until sunset the next day.

Get to Know This Book has features that are circles and inside the circle a symbol such as an oil lamp  or scroll. They are: Scripture, look for an oil lamp to read a Scripture from the Bible ; Bible Hero, look for a sandal for information about a Bible hero; Eyewitness Account, look for picture of an eye each time someone who saw what happened tells about it; Did You Know?, look for a clay jar to learn fun facts; and Word Bank, look for a scroll to learn the meanings of new words.   It is a great teaching method for the children and also adults.

I learned quite a bit of the Jewish people. It is a good book for young people. I suggest reading a chapter at a time. 

There are maps and pictures which are always appreciated by this reader.

I am giving Get to Know Mary a 5 star rating.  I received a complimentary copy from to read and review. The opinions are my own.

Nancy Sanders may be reached at reached at
Leona Olson

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Voyage of Strangers by Elizabeth Zelvin



What really happened when Columbus discovered America. Diego Mendoza, a young Marrano sailor with Columbus, returns from the voyage of discovery to find that his sister Rachel is in danger from the Inquisition as a secret Jew. After failing to find safety in Spain, they sail with Admiral Columbus on the second voyage to Hispaniola, where they must struggle with divided loyalties as the Spaniards' greed for gold and conquest clashes with the local Taino people's way of life. Both Diego and Rachel find courage, love, and heartache as they come of age in a doomed paradise. Sequel to Zelvin's Agatha-nominated mystery, "The Green Cross."
Leona's Review:
Voyage of Strangers by Elizabeth Zelvin
This book is based on the sailings of Christopher Columbus and the sailings to the Americas. The book is in first person by Diego so we see one viewpoint of what happened.
The main characters are a brother and sister, Diego and Rachel Mendoza. They are Jewish and from Spain during the time of the Inquisition. Diego especially seems to have a hatred for Christians because most are cruel in their actions. Because they are Jewish, they keep it a secret from all except Columbus. Diego sailed with Columbus on his first voyage to the Americas and convinced Columbus to take his sister as a cabin boy on the second voyage to the Americas so she could leave Spain.
Lots of history but I found a dark novel based on fact and fiction. I was not aware in all my readings of the slavery from the Islands in the Caribbean. The book had a lot of light moments and love is also part of the book. I learned a lot the area, food, hardships and cruelty to the local people. As readers we see, with the eyes of Diego, customs and ways of life of the Taino Indians.  I also learned more about the Jewish people and some of their customs.
The author has done her research. She has included a dateline of events which begins with the prologue December 24, 1492 and ends February 24,1495 with chapter 36. The list of characters include 28 people known to history and 38 fictional characters including Rosa, the mule, and Baxtalo, the dog. I like maps and would have liked to have seen one included in the book. I have been to most of the places so I could picture them and the route. Little tidbits of information were useful to read like using a lemon to clean teeth and help prevent teeth rot.
There is an Afterword which is about the book and the facts and fiction of the novel.
She has a list of acknowledgements of people who have helped her in this writing.
The Green Cross was the first book Elizabeth Zelvin wrote about Columbus so I will also have to read that one. This book can be read without reading the Green Cross first.
I downloaded this book from
I give it a 4 star rating because of the history and research by the author.
Elizabeth Zelvin may be reached at
Leona Olson