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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Sneak Peek! An excerpt from Lilac City Lunacy

Sneak Peek! An excerpt from Lilac City Lunacy

Hey everyone, if you’ve been looking forward to Volume 2 of the Luna Chronicles – Lilac City Lunacy, here’s a quick snippet to whet your appetite. An unedited scene with our favorite werewolf sheriff, Stan McKenna. Enjoy!

Spokane County Sheriff, Stan McKenna was having a bad week. A bad month if he were to be honest. The Lilac city, as Spokane was known, was inundated with hostility. Small fights had been breaking out more and more frequently. At first, Stan had chalked it up to increased gang activity and people working out the agitation of cabin fever after such a harsh winter. There was always a period between the winter chill and summer heat criminals took advantage of, but things had continued to happen.

            He realized something was truly messed up when he responded to what he thought was a prank call. There were a few on the force that might feel they owed him payback for bringing in donuts glazed with sour sugar and jalapeno dust. His fellow officer’s faces had both mottled and puckered while they cursed him out roundly. At the time he’d laughed so hard he thought he might have strained something, so he wouldn’t put it past his fellow officers to create a strange scenario just to mess with him. Unfortunately when he pulled up in front of his aunt Gena’s Sew Easy Too fabric shop, what he saw through the big front window was no joke.

            Four old women were facing off with each other. Two against two, all hollering at the top of their lungs while brandishing knitting needles. One of the ladies stepped forward and poked her opponent as Stan was getting out of his car. He moved faster when the poked woman’s eyes grew wild and her knitting hand turned the needle from a parrying position to a thrusting position. Good grief, she might just kill someone! The chimes above the doorway tinkled loudly as he entered. The sound distracted the women just long enough for him to place himself in the middle of the group. He unleashed a touch of Alpha charm hoping to diffuse the situation then put his hands up and spun in a small circle to smile at every one of them. His physical size forced them all to step back a bit. “Now, ladies. What’s going on here?”

            If he’d expected the torrent of clucking, spluttering, ferociousness that would spew from them he’d never have asked. At first, he couldn’t make out a word they were saying. After a moment he was sorry he could. He heard phrases drop from their sweet, grandmotherly lips that he hoped he’d never hear again. Betty White couldn’t do as well if she were fully drunk and witnessed someone beating their dog. There are just some things you can’t un-hear and Stan was wishing for a gallon of brain bleach when he finally caught onto a thread of the real problem. They were arguing over whose grandchildren were the smartest!

            He almost started laughing at how ridiculous it was, but as they continued arguing those knitting needles were again put into use. One of the ladies, a 4’9″ Latina with dyed brown hair in a loose bun, reached around him with her shiny red implement to prod another woman. He thought he heard one of them call the poker, Rosalinda, and the pokee, Agnes. Rosalinda was wearing a soft pink t-shirt and black shorts. Her target, Agnes, had short silvery hair and big coke bottle glasses. She was wearing a white, short-sleeved blouse and khaki slacks. She was also holding a long, olive green knitting needle low and at the ready.

            The other two women facing off looked like twins. Both stooped with age, they had short, curly, gray hair and baby blue eyes. One had a pair of glasses dangling from a chain, the other had them propped on top of her head. Both were wearing floral pattern cotton dresses topped by pale blue, loosely knit cardigans and both had short wooden knitting needles. From the cacophony of bickering, he plucked the names, Janet and Jess, before he’d finally had enough.

            Drawing himself to his full 6’5″ height, Stan quickly plucked the knitting needles away from each woman, put his hands on his hips and shouted. “SILENCE!”

            All four women turned their eyes upon him and if he hadn’t been such a big man, or a Sheriff, or a Guardian, Stan might have run away. Instead, he cleared his throat and with all the authority he could muster he tried to reason with them. “Ladies. . .

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