Review of, The Sons and Daughters of Toussaint, by Keith Madsen

First off I want to start out by saying we had crazy weather last evening. I’m talking a major snowstorm and a thunderstorm at the same time! It’s called ‘Thundersnow’ and this is the first time I’ve personally witnessed it. Nothing like the sight of a blizzard backdropped by flashes of lightning, let me tell you.

But now I’m moving on to discuss a place that never sees snow, and a story that will nest in your heart forever.

Interested? Please read on!

Here’s the Gist:

In this commercial fiction novel with an historical backdrop, The Sons and Daughters of Toussaint, Isaac Breda seeks to renew the revolution of his famous forefather, Toussaint Louverture. He is depressed that a revolution which had so much potential, and which had cost so much, seemed to have so little to show for it. He resolves to start a non-violent revolution to make their freedom real. In the first half of the novel, the story is told by alternating chapters between historical sections, telling the story of Toussaint and his compatriots, and contemporary sections, where Isaac seeks to renew Toussaint’s spirit in his people. Isaac’s story intersects with that of his best friend’s beautiful sister, Marie-Noëlle. At first she is mainly focused on moving to the United States and making her fame and fortune in modeling. But her character develops into a powerful agent of change herself. When Isaac dies at the hands of entrenched interests in Haiti, the revolution falls on her shoulders. The immense challenge transforms both her and her country.

My Thoughts:

When I was a kid, my dad went to Haiti several times to help with a number of construction projects. While he often told me stories about his experiences, two things stick out in my memory. The photos of treeless and eroding mountainsides, with small shanties built at their bases, and the resilience of the people.

This is exactly what I found on the pages of this inspiring novel. A nation that has struggled to gain a foothold in the climb towards democracy, despite being under constant assault by dictators, gangs, and natural disasters.

Madsen paints a vivid and accurate picture of the trials and triumphs of a land under constant pressure, and it starts with the historical revolution led by Toussaint Louverture. As a student of history, I appreciated the switching perspectives between Toussaint’s day and the twenty-first century revolution led by Isaac. Bravery in the face of tremendous danger is realistically tempered with the protagonist’s bouts of self doubt and discouragement.

Buoyed by the courageous support of the people, his closest allies, and the love of his life, Marie-Noelle, Isaac finds the strength to face the monsters. With an eye towards changing the national political landscape and Haiti’s global reputation, Isaac learns to savour the smaller victories. One scene depicts him standing beside a litter free river that had once been choked with garbage. The locals had banded together for the clean up. He smiles even though his ultimate goal remains distant.

But this is about more than just one man, and the hearts of the people continue to beat strongly long after he’s gone. Marie continues what Isaac began as she lives up to the bold statement, “Nou pa pè!”

Meet Keith:

I am a retired minister, living in East Wenatchee, Wa., who teaches chess to children, works for AmeriCorps, teaching about the Opioid Pandemic, AND writing fiction!

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Review of, Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth (5 book series), by Cassidy Salem

Happy Sunday morning! We’re covered in the white stuff again after a major snow fall that kept the kiddos home on Friday. Oh, by the way, if you’re planning on sending any Christmas cards this way, you might want to hold off until I replace our mailbox.

Looks like we forgot to tip the snowplow driver. 😊 He got three of our neighbor’s mailboxes as well.

Thank goodness for the internet, because I can still post reviews, like this one today.

I know that some of you have taken some time off for the Holidays, so for you and everyone here, I wish you all the best for the Holiday Season!

Here’s the story:

Discovering the body of a friend and colleague was not what Adina Donati had in mind when she moved to Washington D.C. in search of excitement. An administrative assistant at a prestigious think tank, Adina is drawn into the middle of the murder investigation. The police don’t seem to be making much progress until Adina stumbles onto important clues and discovers just how dangerous life in the nation’s capitol can be.

I’m Thinking:

This is the first of a series of five murder/mystery books that feature Adina Donati as the main protagonist. It wasn’t fast paced, more of a gentle story flow with the occasional burst of action. I’d categorize it as a semi-cozy fiction. Not really a thing, I know.

But I’m not always about the action and I really enjoyed the plot and the whodunnit style. There was a fun quality about it; the enticement of two possible romance partners and some office drama. Perhaps many who’ve worked in this type of environment might relate. There’s a good chance I’ll read more of this series.

I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good mystery, spearheaded by a workaday protagonist.  

Meet Cassidy and grab a copy:

Cassidy Salem has always been an avid reader. She is especially fond of mysteries (both cozy and traditional) and police procedurals. Over the years, her favorite mystery authors have included Agatha Christie, Kathy Reichs, Mary Higgins Clark, and John Grisham. When she’s not reading, she enjoys music and spending time with family and friends, and travels with her husband and son whenever possible. Her travels have taken her to destinations throughout the United States, Europe, and Scandinavia.

A member of Sisters-in-Crime, Cassidy is the author of the Adina Donati Mystery Series, which includes Think Murder, Dying for Data, and Killer Reputation. Cassidy co-authors, together with Christa Nardi, a YA mystery series, which includes The Mysterious Package, Mrs. Tedesco’s Missing Cookbook, The Misplaced Dog, and Malicious Mischief.

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Reviews of Vanished

Happy Friday! I hope everyone’s week has gone well, but if it’s been a long one, may your weekend be longer, and way more fun!

Today I just wanted to post a couple of reviews for, Vanished. For those of you who have already read and reviewed it, my most heartfelt, “Thank you!”

I hope some of you will consider grabbing your copy . . . purchase links are posted below (available in paperback and ebook). Fifty percent of the proceeds from the sales of my book are donated to help victims of human trafficking.

So what’s it about, Bierman?

How about a quick teaser?

Tragedy… heartache… how much more can Tyler Montgomery and John Webster take? This missions trip, the “healing” one, has only added fresh layers of pain. Construction of an orphanage in Haiti’s northwest… yes. But a doomed rescue operation, human traffickers, human anomalies, extreme personal danger… risk of death? They hadn’t signed up for those. Turning their backs on the crisis, however, is unthinkable, it’s just not who they are.

Thank you so much, LaShane Arnett  , Lauren Scott , and Itssandrini for these great reviews!

5.0 out of 5 stars What Kind of Hero Would You Be? – LaShane Arnett

It would seem that on the most basic level of humanity children should be protected, nurtured and loved. It’s a concept most find little to no argument with. But this isn’t always the case. Vanished a debut novel by Mark Bierman is the story of John and Tyler (father and son-in-law) who travel to Haiti to help build an orphanage, and in turn find solace after the recent loss of their wife/daughter.

Things take a turn when the daughter of a friend is kidnapped. The two missionaries from America find themselves quickly learning a harsh reality, children in this poverty stricken part of the world are not safe. Child trafficking is a huge issue. One in which, sadly, the local authorities seem indifferent to. Despite the obvious disadvantages of being in a foreign country and a language barrier, John and Tyler take it upon themselves to find her. They embark on a very exasperating journey with great opposition.

Mark Bierman is very good at creating multiple storylines which read as separate but come together to tell a very well crafted story. One which delves into the scourge of humanity from all angles. I was instantly drawn in (especially with the plight of Janjak). Vanished is fast paced, and heart-wrenching. A very well written journey into the lengths mankind will take to preserve what is right and good in the world, against those who fight just as hard to maintain the evil.

I really love this book, it is an eye opener. It makes one contemplate what they would be willing to do in order to keep their loved ones and society safe. I highly recommend it.

An edge-of-your-seat read! – Lauren Scott

Mark Bierman’s Vanished is a work of fiction, but the story propels us to the scene of the violent 2010 earthquake in Haiti. John, and his son-in-law, Tyler, volunteer to assist with an orphanage months later following the devastation. Their relationship is strongly convincing as they cope with the passing of Tyler’s wife, Joy (John’s daughter). They hope to channel their grief by aiding others, which will help them through the various stages.

Little do they know what lies ahead on their journey. When a little girl disappears out of the blue, John and Tyler are transported into the horrific world of human trafficking and child slavery. Her mother spirals into a frenzy of fear, imagining her daughter’s possible impending plight. These appalling crimes are so common, though, that no effort is enforced to finding this little girl, but morally, John and Tyler can’t just look the other way. They embark on a quest riddled with danger lurking around each corner.

In addition to John and Tyler, supporting characters seize the spotlight, and their stories and struggles are just as intense and page-turning. I was really impressed with the manner in which Mark’s clever writing intertwines all roles. Sympathizing with the abused while loathing the abusers comes effortlessly. Most importantly, holding onto hope with a strong grip is significant as the rescue mission continues. At first, I was reluctant to read this book because of the unthinkable topics. Mark’s novel may be a work of fiction, but the subject matter is not only horrifying and heartbreaking, it’s very real. There are moments in the book where I held my breath, and one scene especially had me feeling a little claustrophobic. Regardless, I couldn’t put this book down because of Mark’s excellent writing and delivery. The story is fast-paced and gripping, an edge-of-your-seat read. I give this book 5 stars. Highly recommended!


5.0 out of 5 stars
 Tense heart rending thought provoking thriller! – Itssandrini

Wow!! Edge of your seat dramatically exciting dark read.
While the book is completely fiction the subject matter of human trafficking is a very real occurrence.
He really brings the plight of these unfortunate people of which most are children to light.
Quite a challenging read as he tells the story of children being snatched up from the streets never to be seen again.
The author takes us to the underbelly of Haiti in The Dominican Republic.
This complex plot takes us on a roller coaster of a ride as the story progresses.
Tyler & John have gone on a mission trip, to Haiti, to help with construction work, on a children’s orphanage.
They put themselves in extreme danger as they get embroiled in a rescue operation for one of the children.
They have no idea what they have got themselves into as they face violence & danger on a whole new other level.
They are principled men & cannot walk away no matter how hard it gets.
This fast paced thrilling read although upsetting & heart rending is a real page turner.
A thought provoking read. 📖
The author also donates 50% of his sales from the book to help agencies that help the victims of human trafficking.

Have I caught your interest?

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Review of, They Call Me Mom: Making a Difference as an Elementary School Teacher, by Pete Springer

It’s Monday morning, and as night slowly emerges into day, I’m thinking back to a great weekend. Great because I was able to have an in person visit with some family members for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

As no doubt you’ve “guessed” from the title, I’m starting off the week with a book review. I hope you have a great day!

What’s it about?

Here’s the first paragraph from the book that sums it up nicely:

How did I get here? It seems like an odd question. I’m not just learning about the birds and the bees as I approach age sixty. It is more of a question of reflection as I look back at an incredible thirty-one-year career in education. The staff I worked with are some of the best people I know in the world. The students I taught motivated me to want to be a better teacher and person. I have a lifetime of happy memories to draw on that have inspired me.

My Thoughts:

I have to be honest, when I first picked up this book, I was expecting the pages to be filled with anecdotes. Please don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of these within the pages that complement the overall theme of the book. I’m not sure why I had originally come to this conclusion, when the very title suggests otherwise.

I want to stress that I was NOT disappointed by this realization. Not by a long shot. Pete does an excellent job of sharing wisdom, insight, and common-sense approaches to the struggles and rewards of this noble profession. It was an eye opener for me, and I’ve come to possess a new appreciation for those who work in the education field. It is very apparent that Pete was and remains, very dedicated and passionate about his calling as a teacher.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who works, or is thinking about a career, in the education field. As a parent, it was certainly a behind the curtain peek at an often misunderstood and underappreciated profession.  

Meet Pete Springer and grab your copy:

I’m a retired elementary teacher (31 years) who will always be a strong advocate for children, education, and teachers. My favorite thing to do as a teacher was to read to my students, and now I’m following my heart and writing children’s books for middle grades.

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