Sister Mother Warrior by Vanessa Riley

Sister Mother Warrior by Vanessa Riley
Publisher: William Morrow an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers
Genre: Historical
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

Gran Toya: Born in West Africa, Abdaraya Toya was one of the legendary minos—women called “Dahomeyan Amazons” by the Europeans—who were specially chosen female warriors consecrated to the King of Dahomey. Betrayed by an enemy, kidnapped, and sold into slavery, Toya wound up in the French colony of Saint Domingue, where she became a force to be reckoned with on its sugar plantations: a healer and an authority figure among the enslaved. Among the motherless children she helped raise was a man who would become the revolutionary Jean-Jacques Dessalines. When the enslaved people rose up, Toya, ever the warrior, was at the forefront of the rebellion that changed the course of history.

Marie-Claire: A free woman of color, Marie-Claire Bonheur was raised in an air of privilege and security because of her wealthy white grandfather. With a passion for charitable work, she grew up looking for ways to help those oppressed by a society steeped in racial and economic injustices. Falling in love with Jean-Jacques Dessalines, an enslaved man, was never the plan, yet their paths continued to cross and intertwine, and despite a marriage of convenience to a Frenchman, she and Dessalines had several children.

When war breaks out on Saint Domingue, pitting the French, Spanish, and enslaved people against one another in turn, Marie-Claire and Toya finally meet, and despite their deep differences, they both play pivotal roles in the revolution that will eventually lead to full independence for Haiti and its people.

Both an emotionally palpable love story and a detail-rich historical novel, Sister Mother Warrior tells the often-overlooked history of the most successful Black uprising in history. Riley celebrates the tremendous courage and resilience of the revolutionaries, and the formidable strength and intelligence of Toya, Marie-Claire, and the countless other women who fought for freedom.

This wonderful novel tells the story of a very successful slave uprising. History often tells us of how men changed the course of events. In a refreshing viewpoint, readers are treated to a life-changing situation through the eyes of two women.

Gran Toya, a West African woman, was a warrior. Sadly, she was sold and became a slave. Marie-Claire was a free woman of color who had a good life. They were involved with Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Gran Toya as a mother figure, and Marie Claire as a wife. Dessalines was a former slave who became a general and led people to fight against slavery. Eventually the people of Haiti fought their colonizers and won, after decades.

The characters are layered and complex and often battle with difficult decisions. Their world is a challenge, and readers can see this through well-written words. Sights, scents, tastes, touch, and sounds come alive in this novel that depicts true events. The author fills in the blanks smoothly, making this an enjoyable story to read. The bonus is learning something about history. Readers will get much from reading this book.

The Marsh Bird by Anne Brooker James

The Marsh Bird by Anne Brooker James
Publisher: Koehlerbooks
Genre: Historical, Mainstream fiction
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

Woven with murder, mystery, and magic, The Marsh Bird is a compelling story of a young, orphaned, multiracial girl from Louisiana and a white teen abandoned as an infant and raised by a local white fisherman, both embraced by the residents of a rural, Gullah Geechee sea island community. Set among descendants of those once enslaved in the lush marshes of the Lowcountry coast of South Carolina and Georgia, this is an unforgettable love story, and a tale of survival that proves it is the bonds of love and care that create a family.

This is a stunning new novel that is filled with surprises and emotional ups and downs. The Gullah Geechee culture is presented in a sensitive way, and readers will sympathize with their struggles and the strength they show to deal with their challenging circumstances.

Their traditions are laced with spirituality, making them people with depth, and the author does well showing this. The relationships are realistic and draw out emotions.

To make the story even more intense, there is mystery and murder within these pages. Family and race are common themes that bring it all together beautifully. A love story spanning the growing years of the young protagonists is tender. Then the young man must go off to war. He does not realize that he becomes a father while he’s gone. Will his true love ever see him again?

If you enjoy reading about other cultures and times, this is a great book to check out. It was well done with memorable characters.

Wish List by Amanda Pampuro

Wish List by Amanda Pampuro
Publisher: Alien Buddha Press
Genre: Contemporary, Science Fiction, Horror
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

You’re talking with a friend, face to face, smartphone stashed safely in a pocket. You mention a trendy restaurant, a dream vacation, some hot piece of new tech. The next time you go online, you’re hit with ads for all three of those things. You’re amused, bemused, unsettled all at once. Amanda Pampuro taps into that feeling in Wish List, narrated by an earnest, efficient AI hive mind striving to bring happiness to account holder ARgurl16 – one “Complete My Purchase” click at a time. It’s a sweet and creepy little tale – sweet because Pampuro deftly sketches ARgurl16’s ups, downs, loves and hopes through the lens of her buying history, creepy because Wish List makes it clear that computers aren’t the only things being programmed.

For a disturbing little read, Wish List meets expectations. The book is clever and fast-paced. It tells the story from the point-of-view of technology tracking the life story of a woman from her childhood to her death.

The technological protagonist is so honest, and this comes across as so authentic that readers are likely to watch what they do online more carefully. The reader learns about the human protagonist through her online purchases. Assumptions are made as “the next good buy” is constantly pushed on her.

The suspense is well-done, too, because there are hints of the young lady’s death throughout, but mostly right after she makes a specific purchase. What is going to happen to her? Why does she die after buying the specific item?

It’s also clever that her husband and child are brought into the scene based on more online purchases.

This book will make you think. It’s a quick and easy read worth a look.

The Unseen Body by Jonathan Reisman, M.D.

The Unseen Body by Jonathan Reisman, M.D.
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

In this fascinating journey through the human body and across the globe, Dr. Reisman weaves together stories about our insides with a unique perspective on life, culture, and the natural world.

Jonathan Reisman, M.D.―a physician, adventure traveler and naturalist―brings readers on an odyssey navigating our insides like an explorer discovering a new world with The Unseen Body. With unique insight, Reisman shows us how understanding mountain watersheds helps to diagnose heart attacks, how the body is made mostly of mucus, not water, and how urine carries within it a tale of humanity’s origins.

Through his offbeat adventures in healthcare and travel, Reisman discovers new perspectives on the body: a trip to the Alaskan Arctic reveals that fat is not the enemy, but the hero; a stint in the Himalayas uncovers the boundary where the brain ends and the mind begins; and eating a sheep’s head in Iceland offers a lesson in empathy. By relating rich experiences in far-flung lands and among unique cultures back to the body’s inner workings, he shows how our organs live inextricably intertwined lives―an internal ecosystem reflecting the natural world around us.

Reisman offers a new and deeply moving perspective, and helps us make sense of our bodies and how they work in a way readers have never before imagined.

Books written by doctors about their jobs are interesting, but Dr. Reisman has a different take on things. He is a world traveler and has seen some wild things. When he relates these episodes to medicine, and specifically the human body, readers are treated to entertaining educational tidbits.

This book is written like an adventure and is quite creative. The doctor meets many people and gives the human touch to his experiences. People teach him, long after he graduates from medical school. His outside interests also come into play.

Dr. Reisman adds humor to his observations at times and some profound insights. He relates bodily fluids to other things in a way that makes sense. This is a great book that is easy to get through.

The Price of Time by Tim Tigner

The Price of Time by Tim Tigner
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

There’s a secret in Silicon Valley. A discovery. An invention. One so startling and surprisingly sinister that it needs to be concealed—at any price.

Tim Tigner takes a step back from his bestselling Kyle Achilles series to introduce Zachary Chase and Skylar Fawkes in a fresh standalone novel that’s bound to keep you glued and guessing. With secluded meetings, sudden disappearances and strange murders; secret agents, skillful assassins and sexy locations; The Price of Time is packed with fast-paced action and first-class intellectual intrigue.

Propelling the thrills and perched at the middle of the mystery is one of humanity’s great questions: Would finding the Fountain of Youth be a blessing?

Prepare for sleep-deprived nights and skipped chores while repeating the phrase: “Just one more page.”

Would you like immortality? This novel by Tim Tigner explores this idea. Sounds great—but is it really? A small group of scientists and business people have found the secret to stopping aging, but they can die from ways other than old age.

The “Immortals” must come up with a way to change their identities after every twenty years because they cannot explain their not aging. How to do this? They cross a moral line, and it comes with a cost. Reading about their debates on how to solve this problem and others is fascinating and brings human nature to attention.

There is a mystery here as well. Someone is murdering the immortals, but why? At the same time, a former CIA agent rescues a woman from the dark plans of the immortals. They work together to try to find these people and get answers. These two storylines work together to make great suspense. There are surprises in this book, and readers are unlikely to guess the ending. The characters are well-drawn.

This is a unique story that is worth a reader’s time. I’ll be looking for more from this talented author.

Class of ‘59 by John A. Heldt

Class of ‘59 by John A. Heldt
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-fi/Fantasy, Contemporary, Historical, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

When Mary Beth McIntire settles into a vacation house on June 2, 2017, she anticipates a quiet morning with coffee. Then she hears a noise, peers out a window, and spots a man in 1950s attire standing in the backyard. She panics when the trespasser sees her and enters the house though a door to the basement. She questions her sanity when she cannot find him.

In the same house on March 21, 1959, Mark Ryan finds a letter. Written by the mansion’s original owner in 1900, the letter describes a basement chamber, mysterious crystals, and a formula for time travel. Driven by curiosity, Mark tests the formula twice. On his second trip to 2017, he encounters a beautiful stranger. He meets the woman in the window.

Within hours, Mary Beth and Mark share their secret with her sister and his brother and begin a journey that takes them from the present day to the age of sock hops, drive-ins, and jukeboxes. In CLASS OF ’59, the fourth book in the American Journey series, four young adults find love, danger, and adventure as they navigate the corridors of time and experience Southern California in its storied prime.

John A. Heldt has written many good time-travel romances, and Class of ’59 does not disappoint. Mary Beth and Piper are young adult sisters living in the year 2017. They stumble upon a pair of intriguing brothers from 1959 and follow them back into the past. They make a quick buck by gambling using their knowledge of the future. Unfortunately, they get the attention of some bad guys while doing this.

Mary Beth and Piper and the brothers, Mark and Ben, have a great time together in 1959. The young women really enjoy learning about the era as they immerse themselves in it. Readers are sure to enjoy all the ‘50s details. Piper even enrolls in school. The two sisters fall for the two brothers and they in turn with them, but they know it can’t last. Mary Beth and Piper will have to return to the future.

Meanwhile, gangsters are trying to find them, and they are getting closer. Though there are suspense and a sense of danger in this book, it is more about the setting and the adventure than that danger. It comes into play every so often, but the focus is more on the young ladies’ discovery and romance.

This is a charming time-travel book with a surprise ending. I would recommend it.

The Secret of Snow by Viola Shipman

The Secret of Snow by Viola Shipman
Publisher: Graydon House
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Women’s Fiction
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

The forecast is calling for a reluctant homecoming and regrettable decisions with a strong chance of romance…

When Sonny Dunes, a SoCal meteorologist whose job is all sunshine and seventy-two-degree days, is replaced by a virtual meteorologist that will never age, gain weight or renegotiate its contract, the only station willing to give the fifty-year-old another shot is the very place Sonny’s been avoiding since the day she left for college—her northern Michigan hometown.

Sonny grudgingly returns to the long, cold, snowy winters of her childhood…with the added humiliation of moving back in with her mother. Not quite an outsider but no longer a local, Sonny finds her past blindsiding her everywhere: from the high school friends she ghosted, to the former journalism classmate and mortal frenemy who’s now her boss, to, most keenly, the death years ago of her younger sister, who loved the snow.

To distract herself from the memories she’s spent her life trying to outrun, Sonny throws herself headfirst into covering every small-town winter event to woo a new audience, made more bearable by a handsome widower with optimism to spare. But with someone trying to undermine her efforts to rebuild her career, Sonny must make peace with who she used to be and allow her heart to thaw if she’s ever going to find a place she can truly call home.

Sonny is a middle-aged meteorologist who has a great job and a great home in a warm climate. Suddenly she finds herself out of work but takes up an old colleague on her offer to work for her. The trouble is, Sonny will have to go across the country, back to her childhood home, where it is cold and snows a lot. Sonny dreads going back. Her sister was killed there. But she needs the job at the small station.

Sonny’s mother is awesome, and Sonny meets other great people who all have issues, like her. She is troubled, but her experiences will help her grow and learn things. She will work through her pain.

Setting is important in this story and has a great impact on the plot and characterization. The charming winter wonderland scenes add much to the book. Themes of family, friendship, and facing tragedy help bring this tale to life.

This is a very engaging book with a message and plenty of entertainment. I highly recommend it.

Next Life Afterworld by James G. Robertson

Next Life Afterworld by James G. Robertson
Publisher: Next Life Publishing LLC.
Genre: Sci-fi/Fantasy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

Death comes, and misery follows. As a man in his early twenties, Leon never genuinely contemplated what would happen after his death. Like those before him, he never understood the truth of our universe. After his sudden demise, the terrorizing reality of a mysterious dystopian afterlife begins crushing him as it has those prior. Men have started enslaving and killing each other to sate their greed while enigmatic creatures oppress the masses. Only a select few have shown the courage that is needed to challenge their supremacy.

Through this eclipsing darkness, there is hope. But will that hope prove to be enough to save this turbulent cosmos? The revelations of advanced science, magic, human savagery, and even our gods will be showcased. Both in a new light and disturbing darkness, will the verities of Earth and Afterworld give him a greater understanding of our universe; or in turn, begin to break him as they have done to so many before?

What would you do if you crossed over into the next life and got the shock of your life? This is exactly what happened to a young man, Leon. A tragic accident leads him to a world where evil beings do great harm to others. Leon witnesses much violence on his grand adventure, but he meets good beings as well, including historical figures.

Is there hope for those lost in this world? Not many have the courage to make it so; however, Leon is special. He makes friends and enemies in his plan to make a difference. He will discover himself and his own strengths and weaknesses.

Things move quickly in this story, and the suspense is high. The stakes are high. Readers will feel a lot while turning these pages, and they will think about things as well. If you like intricate, unusual tales of fantasy and other worlds, why not give this book a try?

The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher

The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher (Author), Lauren Fortgang (Narrator)
Publisher: Harlequin Audio
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

Have you ever been wrong about someone?

Juno was wrong about Winnie Crouch.

Before moving in with the Crouch family, Juno thought Winnie and her husband, Nigel, had the perfect marriage, the perfect son—the perfect life. Only now that she’s living in their beautiful house, she sees the cracks in the crumbling facade are too deep to ignore.

Still, she isn’t one to judge. After her grim diagnosis, the retired therapist simply wants a place to live out the rest of her days in peace. But that peace is shattered the day Juno overhears a chilling conversation between Winnie and Nigel…

She shouldn’t get involved.

She really shouldn’t.

But this could be her chance to make a few things right.

Because if you thought Juno didn’t have a secret of her own, then you were wrong about her, too.

The Wrong Family is a psychological thriller that will keep you guessing. It has an interesting cast of characters. Each person has their own secrets, and some of those are dangerous. Juno is an older lady with quite a past, but she doesn’t have a secret as serious as that of Nigel and Winnie Crouch. Juno is surreptitiously hiding in the Crouch home, and she hears and sees things that no one is supposed to know about.

What is she to do with the disturbing information she discovers? A child is involved. Juno is dying, should she just live out the rest of her days in peace? How can she not do something with the information? Her situation is precarious. She is threatened with discovery.

The story takes different directions often, making it hard to predict, and this adds to the suspense. For those who like to be kept guessing and then surprised, why not have a look at this book?

Sweet Tea by Piper G. Huguley

Sweet Tea by Piper G. Huguley
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

Southern traditions, history, and hope come together in author Piper Huguley’s heartfelt romance from Hallmark Publishing.

Althea Dailey has succeeded beyond her wildest dreams: she’s about to make partner at her prestigious law firm in New York. So why doesn’t she feel more excited about it? When she has to travel South for a case, she pays a long-overdue visit back home to Milford, Georgia. To her surprise, a white man she’s never met has befriended her grandmother.
It has also the essential fatty acid cialis generic no prescription supplements use fish oil as the primary ingredient- and the best fish oil is that which comes from the experiences that we have had in life. cialis cheap prices Nitric Oxide, which is a chemical produced naturally in the body promotes muscle relaxation in the penis. You must have Kamagra simply one time in a day. levitra vs cialis Solutions It is readily acknowledged among AEC professionals that Building Information Modelling (BIM) greatly facilitates the whole process through design cialis generico uk to completion for new construction.
Jack Darwent wasn’t interested in the definition of success dictated by Southern high society. His passion for cooking led him to his current project: a documentary and cookbook about authentic Southern food. Althea’s grandmother is famous for her cooking at Milford College, a historically Black institution. But Althea suspects Jack of trying to steal her grandmother’s recipes.

Despite Althea and Jack’s first impressions of one another, they discover they have more in common than they’d guessed…and even as they learn about one another’s pasts, they both see glimmers of a better future.

Althea is a lawyer who has made partner. She goes from New York to Georgia to help her grandmother. Jack is a young man who has befriended her grandmother, and Althea is suspicious of him. Does he want to use her? Jack insists that his intentions are completely honorable. He wishes to make a documentary on Southern women who cook.

Althea is cold to Jack but little by little gets to know him. Maybe he can be trusted. Their relationship develops in a natural and tender way; then she has some big decisions to make. The bonds of friendship and family underlie this story and add depth. The setting is well described, bringing this sweet story to life.

Ms. Huguley is a talented writer, and I would recommend this story to anyone who is a fan of romance.