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, The Bones Of Amoret, by Arthur Herbert

I hope you’re all doing well on this Sunday morning at the tail end of summer. Yesterday, we did our annual apple picking road trip with a side of pumpkin harvesting. I can already smell ghosts of future apple crisp and pumpkin pie baking in the oven.

But from the post’s title, you can see that I’m not here to talk about pie. So, let’s get started, shall we?

What’s it About?

Amoret, Texas, 1982. Life along the border is harsh, but in a world where cultures work together to carve a living from the desert landscape, Blaine Beckett lives a life of isolation. A transplanted Boston intellectual, for twenty years locals have viewed him as a snob, a misanthrope, an outsider. He seems content to stand apart until one night when he vanishes into thin air amid signs of foul play.

Noah Grady, the town doctor, is a charming and popular good ol’ boy. He’s also a keeper of secrets, both the town’s and his own. He watches from afar as the mystery of Blaine’s disappearance unravels and rumors fly. Were the incipient cartels responsible? Was it a local with a grudge? Or did Blaine himself orchestrate his own disappearance? Then the unthinkable happens, and Noah begins to realize he’s considered a suspect.

Paced like a lit fuse and full of dizzying plot twists, The Bones of Amoret is a riveting whodunit that will keep you guessing all the way to its shocking conclusion.

My take:

The entire book is written in first person, Noah’s, with a folksy, “come sit on the porch for a spell,” narration. I found it quite appealing, almost endearing, in fact.

In his late eighties at the telling, Noah is a man conflicted and remorseful about the past . . . the moral fiber of his character is subjective, which for me, made him all the more realistic.  Personally, I think he’s a man with good intentions, but things just often got out of hand.

As the blurb suggests, there are some great plot twists, none of which I found to be “edge of your seat”, but well orchestrated with a bit of, “Gotcha!”

The writing style was river rock smooth, with plenty of creative slang that brought a smile.

I’d recommend this book to those who enjoy a good mystery under the backdrop of ‘Big sky’ country.

Meet Arthur:

Arthur Herbert was born and raised in small town Texas. He worked on offshore oil rigs, as a bartender, a landscaper at a trailer park, and as a social worker before going to medical school. He chose to do a residency in general surgery, followed by a fellowship in critical care and trauma surgery. For the last eighteen years, he’s worked as a trauma and burn surgeon, operating on all ages of injured patients. He continues to run a thriving practice.

His second novel, The Bones of Amoret, is set to be released on April 1, 2022 through Stitched Smile Publishers.

Arthur currently lives in New Orleans, with his wife Amy and their dogs. Arthur loves hearing from readers, so don’t hesitate to email him at arthur@arthurherbertwriter.com.

Grab a copy:

Amazon.com

Review of, The Prince And The Prodigal, by Jill Eileen Smith

As I look out the window, all I can see is brown . . . but that’s a good thing! Yesterday the ground was being struck by hail and sleet and today there’s nothing but clear skies. 🙂

Please let me steal you away to a place where snow never falls, and the earth bakes to a crisp under a hot desert sun. I’m talking about ancient Egypt.

The Details:

Joseph is the pampered favorite son of the patriarch Jacob. His older brothers, deeply resentful of his status in the family, take advantage of the chance to get rid of him, selling him to slave traders and deceiving their father about his fate. It seems like their troubles are over. But for Joseph and older brother Judah, they are just beginning.

While Joseph is accused of rape and imprisoned, Judah attempts to flee the memory of his complicity in the betrayal of his younger brother. After decades apart, the brothers will come face-to-face in a stunning role reversal that sees Joseph in a position of great power while Judah begs for mercy. Will forgiveness or vengeance win the day?

Bestselling and award-winning author Jill Eileen Smith brings her considerable research and imaginative skills to bear in this vivid retelling of one of the most popular stories found in Scripture–a story of jealousy, betrayal, and a reconciliation that only God could bring about.

My Thoughts:

I am extremely familiar with the Biblical account of Joseph’s life, so I was excited to read this book. Let me tell you, I’m glad I did.

This was an excellent ‘behind the scenes’ story of what must have been the dramatic, and traumatic, lives of Joseph and his family. Jill cleverly weaves scenes throughout the story that bring these historical figures to life and through her words, those Sunday School lessons leapt from the pages to become three dimensional.

The book sticks to the main facts but allows the reader an insight into the possible mindset of people who lived thousands of years ago.

I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the Bible, history, the supernatural, adventure, or stories with great outcomes.

I’m giving this one Five Stars!

Meet Jill:

Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling, award-winning author of the Wives of King David series, Wives of the Patriarchs, Daughters of the Promised Land, The Heart of a King, Star of Persia, Miriam’s Song, and the nonfiction When Life Doesn’t Match Your Dreams, and She Walked Before Us. Her research has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times.

When she isn’t writing, she loves to spend time with her family and friends, read stories that take her away, ride her bike to the park, snag date nights with her hubby, try out new restaurants, or play with her lovable, “helpful” cat Tiger. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan.

Grab a copy of one of her works and connect with her:

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Review of Ronald L. Powell, Missing in Action, by Shirley H. Slaughter @sharrislaughter

Day two of the kiddos being home for another round of online learning. I must admit, this particular round has not been as difficult as the others. Perhaps we are just all getting more adroit at this thing, as time goes on.

Today, I am reviewing Ronald L. Powell, Missing in Action, by Shirley H. Slaughter

What Amazon says:

My brother dropped out of school and joined the Marines around 1963. By the time our Mother found him (he enlisted without telling anyone) he had been through basic training and was preparing to go to war. He told her in a letter, “Mom, I don’t think I’m going to make it …”
This is a memoir of my brave brother, Ronald Louis Powell, who died under mysterious circumstances along with 57 of his comrades. Nothing was ever said or written about this tragedy.
This is my way of keeping his story alive and bringing some closure.

My Turn:

A heartbreaking account of a beloved brother lost to war and the author’s struggle to come to terms with a brother who never came home. The lack of transparency shown by the government adds more pain and prevents closure for the family.

Deep and personal, this short story draws sympathy for the family and in the end, left me feeling great admiration for the brave men and women who put their lives on the line, in service. I was also discouraged by the lack of concern on behalf of the government to be forthcoming in the facts of his death. A wonderful tribute to Ronald.  Three Stars.

Meet Shirley:

Shirley Harris-Slaughter’s first book highlights her passion for history which led to her first published work, Our Lady of Victory, the Saga of an African American Catholic Community. But she wouldn’t have been able to write that book had she not had the presence of mind to conquer the health crisis she found herself in. She is an advocate for natural health and healing. Any problem that she had to face, she found her way out of it through sheer determination.

This led to her second book CRAZY! HOT! AND LIVING ON THE EDGE!! She has written a couple of short stories including contributing essays in her Book Club’s Rave Soups Series.

She spends most of her time these days watching movies and episodes of “Suits.”

Connect with Shirley and purchase her works:

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Shirley is also a member of Rave Reviews Book Club

Review of Born In A Treacherous Time (Book 1 Of 3), by Jacqui Murray

Well, it’s Valentines’ Day weekend, and also one of the coldest months of the year up here, in Canada. It’s as though Mother Nature is either thumbing her nose, enacting vengeance for a serious jilting, or attempting to fire the flames of romance by freezing the body.

If you ask two, ten, a dozen, or hundreds of Canucks, you’ll get as many opinions, or maybe a shrug, followed by, “Dunno,’ sorry.”    

The story for todays’ review takes place where breath doesn’t freeze scarves rigid, nor are toques a staple, even in winter. We’re traveling to pre-historic Africa.

What Amazon says:

Born in the harsh world of East Africa 1.8 million years ago, where hunger, death, and predation are a normal part of daily life, Lucy and her band of early humans struggle to survive. It is a time in history when they are relentlessly annihilated by predators, nature, their own people, and the next iteration of man. To make it worse, Lucy’s band hates her. She is their leader’s new mate and they don’t understand her odd actions, don’t like her strange looks, and don’t trust her past. To survive, she cobbles together an unusual alliance with an orphaned child, a beleaguered protodog who’s lost his pack, and a man who was supposed to be dead.

My Turn:

Jacqui does a great job of instilling a vivid picture of what most certainly was the red in tooth and claw existence, quite literally, of early humans.

The first in a trilogy, a solid foundation is built for the next two books in this series. There is plenty of action, yet I found there were parts that grew too repetitive, and perhaps could have been left out.

I must be honest about the fact some of my personal beliefs about the ‘coming into existence’ of humanity are in conflict with certain views expressed. I’ll not argue them here, nor anywhere, as they are mine. No amount of debate will sway me, nor will I convince those who disagree. I think it’s best to agree to disagree and leave it at that.

Overall, the information presented in this book has been well-researched and conforms to the mainstream view. The main characters are well constructed and there is growth based on experience.

 I believe this novel achieves what it sets out to do. As part of a trilogy, the entire series will need to be taken into account. As of this moment, I’ll give it Four Stars.  

Meet Jacqui:

Bio

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years both in a traditional classroom and online. She is the editor of a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and author of over a hundred books to integrate technology into education. She is adjunct professor on tech ed topics for the University of California San Diego, Colorado State University, and others. She is a Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics.  She is the author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days as well as the prehistoric fiction, Man vs. Nature.

She’s best known as Ask a Tech Teacher, curator of the popular blog used by teachers, administrators and homeschoolers around the world. It is the go-to resource for advice, pedagogy, tips and tricks, freebies, help, reviews, and classroom materials in tech ed. She has been quoted in national newspapers such as the Washington Post and appeared in local education-oriented radio programs such as BAM Radio and CoolCat Teacher. Her blog has received many awards from organizations such as Common Sense Media and Ed Anywhere.

Jacqui is the voice behind Structured Learning webinars, providing training to teachers and administrators on tech ed topics like flipped classrooms, digital citizenship, Common Core Standards and tech, how to organize the classroom for tech, and age-appropriate tech to support curriculum and standards.

Her teaching philosophy can be summed up in two words: critical thinking. Start with organic conversations. Make technology authentic and encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning. Instruction is self-paced, differentiated and responsive to student needs. Lessons include Essential Questions, Big Ideas and self-reflection.

Jacqui works with teachers and school districts to integrate technology into their school curriculum and standards, running seminars on using tech tools in the classroom, introducing educators to popular ideas like the flipped classroom, differentiation, setting up the digital classroom, using tech in Common Core and more. She also writes articles and white papers for Districts to be shared on blogs, newsletters, and parent information guides.

Jacqui Murray has a BA in Economics, a BA in Russian, an MBA, and a California teaching credential. Before teaching, she worked in the business world for twenty years. She has a daughter who attended the United States Naval Academy and now serves as an Officer in the Navy doing cybersecurity, and a son who attended UC Irvine and serves as an Army SGT in the Signal Corps. She also has a brilliant Labrador Retriever named Casey—what a character. She spends most of her time teaching, reading, geeking, and writing.

Connect with her and purchase your copy:

My Amazon author page

My Goodreads author page

My LinkedIn profile

My Ask a Tech Teacher Twitter page

My Writer Twitter Page

askatechteacher@gmail.com