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

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Please Welcome Author Susanne Perry

Happy Hump-Day! We’re halfway through the week and plowing through November. I don’t know about your area, but here, our stores have been lined with Christmas Decorations, including those, “Try Me,” noisy, animated things, that must have the store staff pulling their hair out by now.

Today I have the pleasure of hosting Susanne Perry, she’s the author of, The City Streets Series, a great series that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. In fact, I’ve included a review of, Gutterpunk, along with links to my reviews of Runaway, and Veteran.

But first I’ll start by welcoming her to my post and give her the floor. She’s discussing the questions I think most of us have been asked at some point. “Why do you write? What’s your motivation?”

Please take it away, Susanne!

Indie authors are often asked, “Why do you write? What’s your motivation?”  The same questions are probably posed to all authors and writers, published or not. I can only speak as an indie at this point in my writing journey, but one thing I know for sure is that I don’t do it for fame, riches, or a desire for an easy, stress-free life. 

Before writing my first three novels, a mystery series set in the homeless community, I worked in social services. Most of my career was spent with public programs serving young children and their families in one capacity or another, in positions ranging from advocate to educator to program manager. I learned two things, above all else, over those years:  that we ARE, indeed, our brother’s — and sister’s — keepers and that it DOES take a village to raise a child.

For better or worse, my beliefs are infused into the novels I’ve written. I often describe the series as novels steeped in social justice. Will everyone like what I write? Of course not. Might my novels make people uncomfortable? I hope so. Could my novels engage readers in conversations about social issues and suggest avenues for change? I can only hope and pray it might happen.

First and foremost, I strive to write “page turners” those stories that propel the reader on to the next page until the end is reached, the mystery solved. But after writing three novels about neighbors in our communities living in abject poverty and ignored by most the people who encounter them daily, I’ve moved on to other situations and topics. I had to let it go, at least in my writing journey if not in my hopes for a more compassionate society. A reader buying one of my books once asked me how I could stand to write about the homeless because it was such a depressing topic. My response was a bit off-the-cuff, but I don’t regret it. I answered that yes, being homeless is depressing — especially if you’re the one experiencing homelessness. If I ever revisit the topic, I’ll write a short prequel, a novella, to broaden the story of Leah, the runaway girl referred to in the title of the first in the series.

My current project is nearly complete, and I hope to publish soon. The story is not about housing insecurity but involves a sad, depressing state of being, nonetheless. The title is “Swan Song.” The story is about a woman confronted with her own mortality. Not only must she accept it, but she learns that her fate did not need to be. She decides that she is not interested in restitution in the time she has left – Instead, she wants revenge on those responsible for her demise.

What Amazon says:

Gutter Punk: a suspect out of police Lieutenant Liz Jordan’s past threatens to expose a devastating secret. When he demands that Liz find his daughter who is missing among the street kids, known as gutter punks, Liz knows that to refuse could be the end of her career. Enlisting help from Youth Advocate Quinn Hadley, a former gutter punk, Liz is thrown into a world where survival depends on keeping your head down, never trusting adults, and hiding your true identity—even from your friends. Gutter Punk is the third novel in the City Streets Trilogy.

My Take:

Liz Jordan’s years on the force have given her plenty of insight into the criminal world. This time, however, she becomes completely indoctrinated into the world of homeless kids, or Gutterpunks, as they are known in the lingo. She’s been on the force many years, and by this point, has even made Lieutenant in the Homicide Division. In spite of her extensive knowledge, she soon discovers how little she understands about this secretive world.

Fortunately, she has friends on the inside, both new and old. The final book of the series, Gutterpunk is a smooth continuity of the series, with all the essential ingredients I’ve come to expect of her books. The staple characters remain, but are seasoned, in a good way, by life experiences.

Liz is forced to reconcile with the ghosts of her past when an old nemesis makes a demand that, on moral grounds, she cannot refuse. What transpires is mystery, action, but no quick fixes. And that’s what I enjoy most about her writing; there’s no, slap-bang, all is fixed.

Susanne’s background in working for non-profit programs serving children and families is well voiced in her writing. There’s something authentic about books written by those with real world experience.

I highly recommend this entire series to everyone!

Meet Susanne:   

About the Author: Susanne Perry is the author of the City Streets series of mysteries — Runaway, Veteran and Gutter Punk—set within the street community of the Pacific Northwest. Her short story, Prep Work was chosen by Riversong Books to be included in their volume of Best Short Stories of 2022.  Swan Song is set in Arizona and is her fourth novel. 

For more about my writing, info on live events or future projects, follow my blog page at http://susanneperrybooks.com or find me on LinkedIn and Instagram. Please remember that reviews are an indie author’s best friend. My sincere thanks go to Mark Bierman for this opportunity and for being such a basically excellent dude. 

Here are the links to my reviews of Runaway and Veteran.

Review of, Veteran (Book Two of City Streets Trilogy), by Susanne Perry

As Fall settles in and with it, the cooler weather, I can’t help but think of those who lack the basic need of shelter. The book I’m reviewing today, though a work of fiction, touches on this wide-spread issue.

What’s the gist?

A Gulf War veteran haunted by his past and living on the street, is accused of a vicious crime. Although the evidence points in his direction, he claims to be innocent. Why does he refuse to aid in his own defense? Lieutenant Liz Jordan and Officer Kyle Connors want to believe him, but their hands are tied. Horrors from the past, social injustice, and political conspiracy come into play as the police try to vindicate a former soldier who remains true to his code of honor. Veteran is the second novel in the City Streets Trilogy.

Here’s My Take:

Book number two of the City Streets Trilogy, I highly recommend reading, Runaway, the first of the series. Veteran, has the same main cast of characters, all proficiently crafted with a fitting balance of flaws, quirks, and redeeming qualities.

While I appreciated the murder/mystery aspect of this tale, what stuck with me are the choice of salves that each character chose to apply, in response to the fires they walked through. While some chose to anoint their wounds with kindness, working tirelessly to make life better for the most vulnerable, others chose a toxic topical that they smeared liberally for their own gain. As in the everyday world, consequences or rewards were there to greet all in the end.  

Here’s an excerpt that sums it up. The guilty is being counselled by the detective after the arrest. Quinn and the guilty grew up on the street together. “Quinn had a lot to say about the hell that some street kids go through, how they have often been abandoned before they end up on the street. The street becomes a refuge for them. She talked about blame, blame and anger. How reactions can destroy a person. That’s why she does what she does with kids; she doesn’t want any kid to blame themselves for what the adults in their lives do to them. It’s not their fault. She’s doing great, by the way. And she wanted to let you know that we spoke. She’s not averse to talking with you, if you should want that.”

Veteran is more than a ‘who-dun-it.’ It’s a statement about rising from the ashes and channeling your emotions into a positive outlet that can benefit so many. Yes, even for the lost, there can be redemption.

I recommend this book for those who are concerned with social issues and enjoy a well-choreographed plot guided by characters who will leave a lasting impression.  

Here is a link to my review of, Runaway, the first of this series. Review of Runaway

Meet Susanne and grab your copy:

 Perry is the author of The City Streets Series–three mysteries set within the street community of the Pacific Northwest. An avid reader of mysteries, Perry chose to write in that genre, combining love of “who-dun-its” with experience working with people. Runaway, Veteran and Gutter Punk, the three titles in the series, include references to history, places, and culture specific to their Pacific Northwest settings. Perry is a native of Washington state and worked for a variety of non-profit programs serving children and families. Perry resides with her husband in Arizona.

Amazon Website

Review of Linda’s Midlife Crisis, by Toni Pike

I’ve been absent on the blogosphere lately, my apologies to everyone who’s posts I’ve yet to read. I promise that I will
catch up. Between starting a new job, an online course, writing, and well, everything else, time is a precious commodity.

Today I have the pleasure of reviewing, Linda’s Midlife Crisis, by Toni Pike. I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

What’s it about?

How does a fifty-year-old woman start a new life?

Meet Linda Lockwood: fifty, fat, frumpy and bullied by her horrible husband Ron and the vile students and principal at the school where she teaches English. But her life is about to undergo a total transformation.

Linda suffers a breakdown after a traumatic classroom incident, and that brings out the worst in Ron and devious principal, Wayne Forsythe. Then she is rocked to discover her husband has a shocking secret.

With her own determination and the help of friends and family, she starts to turn her life around. She begins to succeed, but there are still some more surprises in store Linda.

My View:

This is a classic, “rags to riches,” tale that does a wonderful job of creating sympathy for our down and out protagonist.

Though her circumstances have never been ideal, the bullies in Linda’s life push her to the edge with a series of offenses ranging from indifference to downright abusive. Battered and bruised (figuratively), Linda’s self esteem slides to a new low. The future is bleak.

Fortunately, she’s blessed with a strong cast of supportive family and
friends. They lift her up, infusing her with the courage to rise before the
bell rings. Linda begins to take calculated risks and discovers a new life that
she’d never dreamed was possible. When the past raises an ugly head, she
quickly banishes it with her newfound confidence.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who relishes stories about overcoming
massive obstacles to win a second chance.

Meet Toni: 

Toni Pike is a multi-genre author who enjoys writing page-turning fiction for adults, hilarious books for children, and non-fiction. She also loves travelling and being with family and friends. She lives in Australia and firmly believes that coffee and long walks are an essential part of any day.

Do you like books that you can’t stop reading? Pike is the author of LINDA’S MIDLIFE CRISIS, DESOLATION BLUFF, DEAD DRY HEART and The Jotham Fletcher Mystery Thriller Series: THE MAGUS COVENANT, THE ROCK OF MAGUS, THE MAGUS EPIPHANY and HOLY SPEAR OF MAGUS.

The Brody Cody Series is for children aged 6-9: BRODY CODY AND THE STEPMOTHER FROM OUTER SPACE and BRODY CODY AND THE HAUNTED VACATION HOUSE.

She’s also the author of two non-fiction books. THE ONE WAY DIET is a no-nonsense guide to losing weight. HAPPY TRAVELS 101 is a short book of travel tips with advice for anyone who wants to travel overseas.

Connect with her and grab your copy:

Amazon Website Instagram

Review of, Runaway (City Streets Trilogy Book One), by Susanne Perry

First and foremost, I’d like to wish a belated, “Happy Mother’s Day,” to my readers. We travelled the 401 to visit with our families and had a wonderful time with great weather.

Today I’m sharing a review of another fantastic read!

The Deets:

Runaway: a runaway is found dead in an alley. Who is she? Why is she living on the street? The answers lie deep within the community of street dwellers, often ignored or invisible. To find the young woman’s killer, Sergeant Liz Jordan and Officer Kyle Connors must earn the trust of people without permanent addresses, who do not trust the establishment. Delving deep into a world of uncertainty and danger, the investigation uncovers a web of deceit and exploitation that preys on the most vulnerable. Runaway is the first novel in the City Streets Trilogy.

My Thoughts:

Chock full of ample mountain road twisty turns to satisfy any avid mystery fan, Runaway, also makes a powerful statement about the gaping inequalities and cracks in our economic and social welfare system. It’s quite easy to imagine many of the scenarios playing out in communities across the world.

The main characters were three dimensional with idiosyncrasies, addictions, and flaws all well-packaged. As someone who’s spent years in law enforcement, Runaway, brought up a question that I’ve pondered for years. Is someone’s behavior and personality influenced to a greater extent by nature or nurture? I’ve never been able to figure that one out.

Regardless of your stance on this, I’d highly recommend this read for all the reasons mentioned above. I’m looking forward to diving into the rest of this series.

Five Stars!  

Please note that I do not post reviews of books that I deem to be less than four stars. Life’s too short, and if I don’t enjoy the read, I simply won’t finish it.

Meet Susanne:

Perry is the author of The City Streets Series–three mysteries set within the street community of the Pacific Northwest. An avid reader of mysteries, Perry chose to write in that genre, combining love of “who-dun-its” with experience working with people. Runaway, Veteran and Gutter Punk, the three titles in the series, include references to history, places, and culture specific to their Pacific Northwest settings. Perry is a native of Washington state and worked for a variety of non-profit programs serving children and families. Perry resides with her husband in Arizona.

Grab your copy:

Amazon.com