Book Review – Book All The Teachers! by James Bartlett Parry.

James Parry’s semi-fictionalized (10%, give or take) memoir of the last five years of his thirty-year career as a middle school educator is at once, both hilarious and sobering. Hilarious as only middle school (or Jr. High) with all the hormones, awkwardness, and antics can be. And sobering when Parry masterfully lays bare the true plight of teachers everywhere dealing with bureaucracy, poverty, and a lack of parental involvement. However, despite the sometimes heavy content, Parry’s acerbic and occasionally goofy wit, keeps this book readable and entertaining.

The book begins on an average school day in Parry’s twenty-fifth year of teaching. When he arrives at work he finds the head custodian quickly changing a spray painted, “F**k All The Teachers” into “Book All The Teachers” with his own can of spray paint. At first Parry is upset by the graffiti until he turns the corner to find the colorful epithet continued on to say “Excep Parry.” Deciding this is the best possible compliment from a middle school hoodlum, we then watch James “…float through the door, skip down the back hall, pirouette through the gymnasium, and do the happy dance as I (he) enter(s) the public office.”

This first introduction into Parry’s world is a good example of the ups and downs throughout the book. Middle school has always been a roller coaster ride for the kids (as I’m sure we all remember), but James Bartlett Parry gives us a look at that wild ride from the teachers end of things. Due to the nature of the middle school experience, Parry has included a WARNING section before the Contents page. I believe it is worthy of being included here verbatim.

“WARNING – With its adolescent humor, convoluted sentence structure and many asides, the book is best enjoyed when accompanied by a bottle — or box — of cheap wine; or, perhaps Ice-house Beer would be a more fitting compliment. If you like parentheses, em-dashes, commas, and semicolons (and, hey, who doesn’t?), you’ll love this book.”

Honestly, I did. Well done, Parry.

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Book review: The Telling Mirror by M.G. Nelson.

Book review: The Telling Mirror by M.G. Nelson.

A couple of months ago I ran a thread on Twitter asking Indie Authors to send links to their books. Happily, my TBR pile grew quite a bit! M.G. Nelson’s YA fantasy, The Telling Mirror, was one of many on my now long reading list and I’m so glad Nelson posted it!

How much trouble can a rebellious teen and her cat get into? Oh, so much.

Signe Erickson’s parents are gone. Her father left years ago. Her mother lost to drugs is undergoing rehab. Now Signe – Sig for short – lives ungratefully with her Aunt Char and Uncle Dan, on their farm. Acting out in various ways she’s stretching her families patience to the max, testing them at every turn. When Dan finally confronts her she runs to her quiet place only to end up stumbling into another world. Just her and the annoying barn cat, Reggie, who is no longer a cat.

Together, Sig and Reggie must cross this new land and search out Sig’s father. How he ended up here they really don’t know, but then again, they don’t know how they got here either! Setting out with nothing but the clothes on their backs, a flashlight, a backpack, and a plastic baggie carrying $200 cash they begin their treacherous trek into the unknown.

This grand adventure is filled with dangerous travels, creepy characters, brave warriors, evil royals, kind commoners, fairies, centaurs, giants, and more! Reminiscent of both The Wizard of Oz and The Narnia Chronicles, it is filled with good lessons about self-reliance, kindness to others, determination, sacrifice, and faith. This book, first in The Telling Mirror Series, is one I would feel good sharing with my kids.

If you enjoy YA books with good values and interesting twists, purchase this one today! https://www.amazon.com/Telling-Mirror-Melissa-G-Nelson/dp/0997819111

#BlogBattle – Shift

So this month’s Blog Battle word prompt is “shift” and if you’ve been following me for any length of time you KNOW I had to respond to this. 😉 Here is my 1,000 word (+ or -) entry. Enjoy.

Artist unknown but appreciated.

June 10, 2018

This is my first entry in what Walt’s been calling the Luna Chronicles. It’s basically a glorified personal journal, except it’s supposed to help other Luna’s – eventually. To anyone reading this, please understand that I am no Shakespeare. I’m just doing my best. So here goes.

Becoming a Guardian has been tough but rewarding. I never realized just how much there is to learn OR that I’d have to journal about it! I mean really, who knew visual tracking, botany, and martial arts would be needed? I’m already a werewolf. Everything should come instinctively, right? Wrong.

Granted, I’ve enjoyed the martial arts. It’s something I never thought I’d be able to do considering how sick I was before my first shift. Lupus had put me down hard. It didn’t just limit my movement due to pain, it shrunk my world by interfering with my social and family life. I was always afraid to go too far from home in case I suddenly ran out of steam, or hurt myself in some new and stupid way. Queen of the klutzy, I am, but it was SO much worse with chronic illness issues. Thank God, Sherryl’s been really patient with me despite my klutziness. I can’t believe I nearly knocked her block off with that round house kick! I honestly didn’t think I could move that fast. Good thing we heal quickly.

Botany has been interesting and I’m really glad I’ll be able to identify and avoid poison ivy from now on. Yeah, tripping into that huge patch sucked. Of course that was during my tracking lesson with Stan, Alpha of the Eastern Washington Guardians. Despite his laughter, I’ll never be able to repay him for helping me up and out of that mess. His hands looked almost as horrible as my everything for two days, even with our accelerated healing ability. Ugh.

Shifting has come most easily to me. Ninety-nine percent of the time I stick the landing, so to speak, moving easily from human to wolf and back without issue. That pesky one percent though is a tad worrisome.

I only seem to have issues when I get too tired or emotional, like after that three day flu the kids went through. Of course my lucky husband, Hank, avoided it altogether since his boss just happened to schedule him to go to a conference on those days. I’m still not sure how I escaped getting it, but so glad I did! It was horrible. Poor Matt and Tammy. They must have each lost ten pounds the hard way. Thank God for Sherryl! I’m not sure I’d have been able to handle working, studying, and running between rooms for that long if she hadn’t been dropping off food for me and medicine for the kids.

You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to force myself to take in the currently required 12,000 calories a day while emptying barf buckets every hour or so. Ewww. Sorry, but this journal is supposedly for posterity and Walt told me not to leave ANYTHING out. So yeah, Walt, you asked for it.

Back to the one percent problem. Sorry about the bunny trail. Anyway, after those three days I was wiped out. So with the kids on the mend and finally able to keep food down I needed to get out for a bit. I called Jennifer and invited her out for a run. We’ve been spending more time together recently and I’m enjoying getting to know her. She’s a lovely person, smart, beautiful, hard working, and a talented painter, though she refuses to show her work outside of her home. She’s also single and looking. I can’t imagine how hard dating would be as a woman werewolf. How many guys can handle not just her success as a realtor, but her ability to outrun, outsmart, outplay them AND smell a lie? It has to be like the worst mash-up of Survivor and The Bachelorette ever!

Wow, I bunny trailed again. Sorry. So as I was saying, Jennifer and I were going running. I was exhausted but needed to stretch my legs before hitting the hay for the night. We drove her car and headed to the Bowl and Pitcher in Riverside State Park. There’s great trails around there and I hoped we could make a quick three mile loop. Making the Change from human to wolf was no problem. Running the darkened trail was no problem. Getting back to her car was no problem. The problem came when I tried to Change back.

I felt good after the run, but apparently hadn’t accurately gauged how low on energy I was. By the time Jennifer had Changed and gotten dressed, I still hadn’t been able to find my human form. Jennifer tried to help “push” me through but I was stuck.

I was a little wigged out but Jennifer remained calm. She called Walt who told me to just sleep in my wolf form and try again in the morning. He said he’d call back at 8:00 am to check on me. Jennifer proved herself amazing yet again when she drove me home, roused the kids to inform them of the situation, then helped me up to my room. She brought up a bowl of water and a tray of cold chicken she found in the fridge. I hate to say it but I quite literally wolfed down her offerings. Ten hours later I woke up human only to find she’d set the timer on my coffee maker as well.

I haven’t had any issues shifting since but now I know, burning the candle at both ends for too long can result in a seriously hairy situation. Yup, I said it. You’re welcome, Walt.

Review of ‘Return From Armageddon’ by Sue Eller

Review of ‘Return From Armageddon’ by Sue Eller

In Sue Eller’s world, the people of Earth have finally united under one flag and formed one government with the capital situated in Las Vegas. LAS FREAKIN’ VEGAS, BABY! Of course, despite unification, where there are people there is strife both political and religious.

Two ambitious leaders – one High Priestess and one top General – seek to secure ultimate power by uniting church and government via marriage of convenience. This power couple will do whatever it takes to achieve their goals. Things go awry however, when a massive armada of alien spaceships appear within their solar system. Can another couple, a dead woman and a truck driver, save the world? Maybe, maybe not.

At only 183 pages, this science fiction story is full of intrigue, murder, aliens, a smidge of true love and Biblical parallels that set it apart from typical sci-fi. If you’re looking for an interesting read, this is the book for you.

#BlogBattle – Loss    **Laurel’s Choice**

#BlogBattle – Loss **Laurel’s Choice**

Laural wandered aimlessly around her living room. Nothing interested her, nothing enticed or motivated. She made another circuit around the room looking at books, games, chores that needed doing and gave up. When she plopped down on the sofa it was with a huff of exasperation. “What the crap am I doing? I’m not getting anywhere like this,” she sighed. She leaned forward and let her head fall into her hands so she could run her fingers over her aching scalp.

She was still massaging her head when her mother entered the room carrying a large laundry basket. Like clockwork, she followed her morning routine. So did Laurel but the two didn’t look at each other much less speak. They hadn’t spoken in months. Too many arguments, vile words, and disrespect had passed between them. Their last conversation had ended with both of them red-faced from screaming. Silence had claimed both their tongues since. Occasionally, she felt her mother’s eyes upon her, but when she tried to speak, nothing came out and her mother grew even more despondent. Despite both of them hoping for a reconciliation, they avoided each other. It was best for everyone. Especially little Haley.

Laurel’s sister, Haley, had been a surprise to everyone. Mom and dad had given up having more kids after mom miscarried baby number two. Lauren had been the one to call 911 when she found mom on the bathroom floor. Her brother had been so tiny! She hated that they hadn’t even bothered to give him a name. Baby number two just sounded like a cruel pun.

They hadn’t buried him either, but they buried Tina – another baby they’d at least bothered to name. Instead, her brother had been cremated and his ashes spread over the river. What the hell that had been about she still had no idea. She’d never been given a decent explanation and had no way to visit him like she did Tina. She was still pissed about that and poor Haley, who was too young to understand, felt the tension in their home. It made her cranky.

Haley cried a lot. Mom would try to comfort her but only Laurel’s voice seemed to soothe the toddler. She’d spent many days in Haley’s room telling her silly stories to make her giggle, and many nights singing so everyone could get some sleep. Laurel would do anything for her baby sister. She glanced toward Haley’s room. She was napping, which was great but that left her at a loss. Still without motivation to do what needed to be done.

Keeping her head down, she watched her mother fold and refold towels until they were perfect before separating them into piles: beach, bath, hand, and wash. Mom was methodical to the point of O.C.D. with some things, but completely March Hare with others. It drove Laurel nuts, but she also found it somewhat endearing. She’d never admit that to mom, though. Towels done, she watched her mom pick them up and head into the bathroom to shelf them. Laurel thought her mother was beautiful when she wasn’t crying or yelling, but again, she would never admit it to her.

Laurel watched a moment longer then turned away. It was too painful, this non-communication. She hoped someday they’d be able to talk again but right now the divide was too deep. She sighed heavily. At least dad would be home soon. Maybe she’d talk to him tonight. He was easier to talk to than mom, especially now, but he wasn’t home much anymore.

It was hard for him to face so much loss. She saw it in his eyes every time he entered their home. His shoulders would slump ever so slightly, while his eyes became weary. It saddened her, but not as much as the lack of affection between her parents. They used to always be hugging or worse, kissing. It used to gross Laurel out, but now she wished to see it again. Her parents seemed to yearn for each other’s companionship but dread it at the same time. She wished she could fix things, make everything better, but she was only a teenager.

The last time she’d spoken with her Dad – mist rising from his lips with each word – he told her she was a great kid. That he loved her and was proud of her, but in her heart, she never felt as if she were doing enough. Of course, doing things now was harder. It took a lot of energy to do anything in her condition.

Laurel sighed again and reached for her aching head. It was weirdly concave ever since that night, the last time she’d argued with her mom. The night she’d stormed out of the house and hitched a ride with that drunk neighbor kid, Mike. She didn’t know he was drunk when she got in the car, and he never saw the delivery truck before they hit it.

The light had come to collect Mike immediately, but she couldn’t leave her sister behind. Haley needed her. So she’d made her way home and hadn’t left since. Deep down she knew she should have let the light take her and let everyone move on, but (in that moment) she’d made her choice. Now it was too late. She didn’t know how to get to the light and wondered if she ever would.

A very humble THANK YOU!

So my first novel, Waxing is Useless has been out for nearly 2 months now. It’s still somewhat surreal that it’s out there, but what’s even more surreal is the sweet, positive comments and reviews I’ve been getting!

To all out there who’ve taken the time to visit the Amazon site and leave a review,

You guys make me feel like this. . .

My mom the werewolf – #BlogBattle

This month’s #BlogBattle word was ‘Educate’. With that in mind, here’s another small installment on the Luna Chronicles’ Moon family. Enjoy 😉

Tammy watched as her mom loped out the back gate to join Walt. Pack historian and Beta of the Spokane Guardians, he greeted Miranda in the alley before they both disappeared into the moonless night. So much had changed since her mother had been diagnosed with Lupus and joined the pack Tammy wasn’t sure her brain could keep up.

A few months ago she’d been so angry about her mother’s poor health, blaming her for wrecking family outings by being too tired, using up family funds for, what she had thought at the time were, unnecessary doctor visits, and for not being there when Tammy needed her. The super reliable, highly motivated and organized mom she’d grown up with had slowly disappeared over the course of the last year. She’d given up her PTA duties, stopped teaching Sunday School at their parish, and didn’t make it to a single one of Tammy’s volleyball games. Mom said it was because taking on an office job after fifteen years as a stay-at-home parent was too much for her, but Tammy suspected it was due to all the extra weight mom had put on. She blamed it on the steroids, but Tammy had assumed it was because she ate too much and rarely got off the couch anymore.  Isn’t that what usually happens when people do that?

Tammy cut her mom a little slack when she injured herself. Mom was a total klutz, but the last accidental injury had been really bad. Miranda’s knee had given out and she fell face first onto the washing machine, breaking her nose and gaining a concussion. That had scared Tammy into considering the possibility that her mom really did suffer some illness, but it wasn’t until Dr. Reynolds diagnosis –  Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (or SLE) –  that Tammy really began to understand what it was her mom had been struggling with.

Dad had shared the pamphlets Dr. Reynolds gave him and asked both kids to read them. Matt read them over immediately (of course) but Tammy was still too angry. She’d thrown them aside and ignored them. They’d lain on the floor of her bedroom for weeks until something terrible and miraculous happened. Her brother was kidnapped and her mom came out of the closet – as a werewolf! It had been a harrowing night that, thankfully, ended well.

Now her mother was one of the Spokane Guardians. Mom’s friend and Mentor, Sherryl had explained that they weren’t like the movie werewolves. Silver did not bother them, the moon didn’t force their transformations, and they didn’t go nuts and kill people. Well, hardly ever. They were, according to Sherryl, a pack of werewolves created by an unknown saint, and charged with the protection of whatever community they happened to be a part of. Tammy thought that was pretty cool, but the best part as far as she was concerned was her mother’s new ability to eat anything and never gain an ounce! She sort of wished she could do that too, but didn’t really want to deal with all the follicular challenges mom now faced. Especially since that hilarious Nair incident.

Tammy chuckled as the memory filtered through her brain. She still needed to get copies of those pictures from Stan, the Alpha of the pack! Tammy’s smile dissolved into a sigh. Time to get back to the books Walt had lent her. There were three of them: Spokane Guardians – A Short History, Lupus: A Disease for Humans and Canines, and last but not least, So Your Family Member’s A Werewolf – A Guide To What Comes Next.  She wandered back to her bedroom, shut the door and started the playlist on her laptop. As Drake’s song God’s Plan filled her room Tammy cracked open the first book. “Time to get educated.”