In this first feature for the Smorgasbord Bookshelf I am sharing authors whose books I have read and can personally recommend along with one of my reviews for their books.
The first author today is Terry Tyler, whose depiction of Britain after pandemics in books written before the current Covid, are almost too close to the truth for comfort… but make compelling reading. With twenty-two books in different genres there is plenty to choose from.
Meet Terry Tyler
Terry Tyler is the author of twenty-two books available from Amazon, the latest being ‘Megacity’, the final book in the dystopian Operation Galton trilogy. Also published recently is ‘The Visitor’, a post-apocalyptic murder mystery set in the same world as her popular Project Renova series. She is currently at work on a psychological thriller that centres round an internet dating con, but has not yet finished with devastated societies, catastrophe and destruction, generally. Proud to be independently published, Terry is an avid reader and book reviewer, and a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.
Terry is a Walking Dead addict, and has a great interest in history (particularly 12th-17th century), along with books and documentaries on sociological/cultural/anthropological subject matter. She loves South Park, the sea, and going for long walks in quiet places where there are lots of trees. She lives in the north east of England with her husband.
A small selection of books by Terry Tyler
My review for Megacity June 2021
There is always anticipation when Terry Tyler announces a new release, and having read both Hope and Wasteland, the first two books in the trilogy, Megacity was eagerly awaited.
The author’s version of the future, following a mysterious and fortuitous pandemic, makes for thought provoking reading. The characters Tyler has cleverly crafted could be a member of your family or a neighbour, and it is easy to become invested in their lives and challenges. They are strong and often flawed but most of all they are memorable.
There is little you can do when those in positions of power have narcissistic and psychotic tendencies. They manipulate and deceive from behind a facade that is charming and enviable. Those who have been lied to all their lives and come from desperate living conditions, are perfect prey for these elite, and the price most of them will pay is beyond inhuman.
But there is hope, as those who defy the increasing institutionalisation, and eradication of free will, form groups and networks to spirit some lucky souls to freedom. Away from the technical tethers and government lackeys that watch and monitor every move and emotion in the Megacities. And it is the hope that the author weaves through the story, which keeps you turning page after page as you follow the lives of three victims of the new order.
There are moments when you shudder as you read to what lengths the depraved will go to achieve money and power. There are also times when you weep for the desperate plight of those who blindly accept the promises made offering them a better future. The one thing this book is not short on is emotion.
This is a thriller, a coming of age of a young woman caught up in the evil, affirmation of a mother’s love, the redemption of a lost soul, and the courage of ordinary individuals who are willing to stand up and say ‘No more’.
Although a version of the future that hopefully will never happen, it is a reminder to us all that we need elect the best and most honest leaders. Not an easy task when the public face shown to the world sometimes hides a dangerous truth.
I can highly recommend the trilogy, portraying a very different Britain to the one we are lucky enough to inhabit today.
The next author and poet, Colleen M. Chesebro, is a mentor for many of us who aspire to write syllabic poetry and her weekly challenge has created a platform for us to practice the art of writing the various and intriguing formats. This guide to this form of poetry is a must read.
Meet Colleen Chesebro
Colleen M. Chesebro is a Michigan Poet who loves crafting syllabic poetry, flash fiction, and creative fiction and nonfiction. Colleen sponsors a weekly poetry challenge, called Tanka Tuesday, on wordcraftpoetry.com where participants learn how to write traditional and current forms of syllabic poetry.
Along with JulesPaige, Colleen is also a co-editor of “Word Weaving, a Word Craft Journal of Syllabic Verse,” at wordweavingpoetryjournal.com. The debut issue of this journal will publish in October 2021.
Colleen’s syllabic poetry has appeared in various other online publications. Recently, she created the Double Ennead, a 99-syllable poetry form for Carrot Ranch. Colleen’s poetry has poetry in various anthologies and journals including “Hedgerow-a journal of small poems,” and “Poetry Treasures,” a collection of poetry from the poet/author guests of Robbie Cheadle on the “Treasuring Poetry” blog series on “Writing to be Read” in 2020.
Colleen published “Word Craft: Prose & Poetry, The Art of Crafting Syllabic Poetry,” which illustrates how to write various syllabic poetry forms used in her Tanka Tuesday challenges; and a collection of poetry, flash fiction, and short stories called, “Fairies, Myths & Magic: A Summer Celebration,” dedicated to the Summer Solstice. She contributed a short story called “The Changeling,” in the “Ghostly Rites Anthology 2020,” published by Plaisted Publishing House.
Books by Colleen Chesebro
My review for Word Craft Prose and Poetry May 2021
I have enjoyed poetry from childhood and would write stories in verse from an early age. I was introduced to Japanese syllabic poetry when I began participating in Colleen Chesebro’s Weekly Tanka Challenge three years ago. At first hesitantly, but then as my confidence grew under her tutelage, I became more adventurous.
Word Craft: Prose and Poetry shares an expanded guide to the various forms of syllabic verse shared on the author’s website, and includes the history and provenance of the traditional and more modern versions. It is fascinating and also humbling that we are in this day and age, creating poetry with such a lineage.
This guide reminded me of how much I still have to learn about the intent of each form and their accepted applications. Nature and the self are prominent, but in some there is a freedom to express emotion, irony and humour. Most forms tell a story and the challenge is to do so with sometimes as few as seventeen syllables and within the framework of the format.
I was very honoured to have some of my challenge pieces included with the talented poets who have participated, and whose poetry brings such pleasure to those who read it in the challenge recap… and that includes the author who always explains the intricacies of a particular form then shows with examples for even beginners to follow.
I recommend this guide and collection for all lovers of poetry who will enjoy the poems shared throughout the book, beginners who are looking for a way to express themselves with brevity, and more experienced poets who are looking for a new challenge. For me as a writer of short stories and novels, writing syllabic poetry has been a great way to learn how to make a few words convey more.
The next author is Pete Springer who shared his experiences and wisdom as a teacher for over thirty years, in his memoir They Call Me Mom: Making a difference as an elementary teacher. Having read the book, it made me appreciate even more the impact a good teacher can have on a child’s future.
Meet Pete Springer
My name is Pete Springer. I taught elementary school for thirty-one years (grades 2-6) at Pine Hill School in Eureka, CA. Even though I retired over three years ago, my passion will always lie with supporting education, kids, and teachers.
When I came out of the teaching program many years ago, I realized how unprepared I was for what was in store for me in the classroom. My college education focused mostly on learning theory rather than the practical day-to-day challenges that all teachers face. Thankfully, I had some great mentors to lean on to help support me in the early part of my career.
I have made it my mission to pay it forward to the next generation of teachers. I was a master teacher to four student teachers, and I have several former students who are now teachers, including one who teaches at my former elementary school. That is pretty cool!
While I was teaching, I decided that one day I would write books for children. That ship is now in the harbor. I took some writing workshops, found a writing critique group, joined SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), and I recently finished writing my first middle-grade novel. I’ve always connected with kids, and this is my new way of teaching.
My debut MG novel, Second Chance Summer, just got professionally edited, and I will be querying in the coming weeks.
My review for the book February 2021
This memoir of a teacher with over thirty years experience, is an interesting snapshot of the American education system, particularly the elementary school years for 5 to 10 or 11 years old. This is a key period in a child’s life and so important that the skills for learning and development are absorbed during these years.
Pete Springer provides a step by step guide to creating the best environment within a classroom, for learning and as a place of safety and respect. Clearly a dedicated teacher, but also an observer of human nature, Springer provides a manual for new teachers, including how to achieve a rapport with both students and their parents. Importantly of course, creating lesson plans that stimulate and educate, and how to use effective and empathetic methods when dealing with behavioural and discipline issues.
The book it is not just about teaching a curriculum set out by a state education board, but also developing relationships in and out of the classroom with key people in a child’s and a teacher’s life. As the author points out, children come from a multitude of backgrounds with varying family circumstances and one size does not fit all when it comes to treating them as individuals or those in their lives.
With anecdotes of life in the classroom with young minds trying to be one step ahead of you, overeager parents, and absent ones, and differing teaching methods being supported by successive administrators, it is not a 9-5 job. Especially when you are a dedicated educator intent on sending well taught and well-adapted children on to secondary school.
There is much to enjoy by the casual reader looking for an informative and entertaining read, with memories of their own early years rising to the surface, not all as positive as in the classes of Pete Springer.
I do think it is an excellent guide to those who are considering teaching as a career or have just begun their training. Also new teachers trying to find their own style, and a way to connect with their students effectively and the others involved in their lives.
Parents, and to a degree grandparents, would certainly benefit from understanding the complexities of the work of a teacher. Whilst this is written from the perspective of the American education system, children of this age around the world require the same level of dedication and commitment to their well-being.
The author includes some wonderful stories of students (with their names changed) their parents and incidents that will entertain. It is heartwarming to learn about past students who keep in touch, even when they too have become parents with children passing through Springer’s classroom. All of which underline what a caring person and teacher these children were lucky to have in their lives.
Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books… Sally.