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!

Grab your copy:

Website

Advertisement

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.

Amazon.com

Photos with Captions to Make You Smile & Think

I’m writing this on my back deck, bundled in a hoodie, too stubborn to admit that summer’s slipping away into fall. But hey, a bit of harmless denial can be fun. Right?

I just realized that my last post with this title was on June 30, so maybe it’s time to digitally lob a few more of these pics your way.

Hey, why should Mr. Wile E. Coyote have all the fun?

It takes guts to throw your work out there.

Yes, I’ve been told that it works with laptops too. Desk top computers, not so much. Sooo much fun for those of us on a budget!

I think the book may have been this tree’s relative.

Cassie’s Wishes

Cassie took a deep breath and blew her wishes into the wind. It was getting dark and Mommy wanted her home for dinner, so she got up and watched them drift into the sunset. Satisfied, Cassie went home, washed up, and sat down at the table.

“So, Miss, what did you get up to today?” Mother smiled.

“I blew some wishes out into the world.”

Mother handed Cassie a plate of spaghetti, her favorite, and winked at her. “I’d ask you what those were, but I know that takes away their magic.”

Later, as Cassie laid her head against the soft pillow, listening to the crickets and the hoot of Chester, the barn owl, she prayed that her wishes would find the right people.

As Cassie, slept, a great wind picked up and blew those wishes around the globe, over miles of ocean and into every country of the world.

One landed the shoulder of a grieving father, as he stood at the graveside of his ten year old daughter who’d died from leukemia. An inexplicable peace began to fill his heart.

Another drifted past an ICU nurse, as she left the hospital, exhausted and discouraged from a never ending battle against COVID. Hope renewed some of her energy and lifted her spirits.

One landed in the lap of a little girl, as she sat in threadbare clothes, eating the last meal she’d have for awhile. Her rumbling belly ceased and her heart was filled with the promise of a better tomorrow.

One landed on the uniform of a police man. The years of service for his community, had lately seemed to be overshadowed by the horrific actions of a few, and the media relentlessly pelted them with negative stereotypes. He felt his discouragement fade.

The last wish will land on you, wherever you are, and whatever you are going through. It will give you strength and resilience.

Cassie woke the next day, to a better world.

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:

Twitter Blog Amazon Author Page

Shirley is also a member of Rave Reviews Book Club