180 Days: A Teacher’s Diary

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Sofia Faye Burke and her novel 180 Days: A Teacher’s Diary Through One Epic School Year.

 

Author’s description of the book:

180 Days is a fly on the wall experience into a high school classroom over one full school year (180 days to be exact).

 

Written as a diary by a teacher who was struggling to cope with everything from educational reform to school shootings, this work unfolds via the teachers’ lens of controlled chaos in a broken system. This book takes the reader on a journey from the dilemma of how to make it to the restroom and back before the bell rings to the agony of an active shooter training day, including acceptance of a newfound form of professional development.

 

Mrs. Burke writes about the daily challenges and rewards of life within the four walls of her classroom. The work is gritty, hilarious, and heart breaking at the same time. Hang on, a school year is one wild ride.

Purchase 180 Days on Amazon

Yes there is a giveaway:

Sofia Faye Burke will award a randomly drawn winner a $20 Amazon/BN Gift Certificate.

Enter here to win

My favorite excerpt:

On another fun note, today was fabulous picture day! This is when all students and staff go down to the cafeteria to have their school pictures taken for the yearbook. School photos are a fun notion when presented to you early on in the school year but then you get the images back two months later, suddenly you start talking to yourself, posing questions like: “Is that me?” “Do I look like that?” WTF? Now I just want to avoid the entire school photo process as the images are simply weird. They must have a schoolmarm filter.

Teacher Confessional: Do teachers really swear? Fuckin’ A, yes! We swear on bad days. But not in front of students. Maybe I should start as kids always love the teacher who swears in class. I think they relate and think it’s cool, but those same teachers talk of drinking “juices” and smoking for “medicinal purposes.” Not the best role model in my view.

Day 11: Student started to cry 9th period. Oh, I feel absolutely terrible. But it ended well. She was arguing with me about the directions and I asked her to go out of the room to talk, as I do not like to speak to kids in front of the class regarding discipline if I can avoid it. It just embarrasses students and they resent it.

I met her in the hall and she agreed that she was disrespectful. When you take away the audience, students immediately calm down and talk honestly. But then she broke out in tears and I asked her what was wrong. She told me she is bipolar and so everything is very sensitive for her. I apologized and asked her if she needed a break from class and she took a walk around the hall. She did not want to come back in so I logged off for her. I feel awful for her; you never know what is going on inside the students until you start to peel away those onion layers.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish.

Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

A personal note:

Why feature this book on this blog? Well, my main character Alex is a teacher too, and he and some of his adventures are loosely based on a real life teacher I know.  I read Mrs. Burke’s excerpts with great interest. Sounds like she and Alex could have quite a conversation. I wish her and her book the best of luck!

 

Justice Gone

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author N. Lombardi Jr. and his novel Justice Gone.

Author’s description of the book:

When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down.

A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase.

Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers gets there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture.

Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?

About the Author:

Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People’s Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.

Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc. http://plainofjars.net

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.

Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. You can learn more about him on his Goodreads page.

My review:

This is a powerful book. It is difficult to put down even when it is difficult to read.

I was most impressed by the author’s unflinching determination to tackle a complex and emotional topic. He does do without glossing over anything or anyone. The research is impressive, the pace is relentless, and so much of the book defies expectations and surprises the reader.

This novel tears into the problems facing vets returning from war, any war, and it offers no platitudes or easy solutions. Rather, it invites empathy for the many characters struggling to do their best. Even for those for whom Lombardi has little sympathy (members of the press, a DA striving to enhance his career) there is a sense that these people are merely playing their given role in society. The real evil, the real villain, is war itself, and the author doesn’t see an easy solution to that problem.

I did struggle with the gore. In fact, the violence at beginning almost kept me from reading on, but by the time I was halfway through I was so glad I hadn’t quit. The large cast of characters is daunting, and the changing points of view were sometimes difficult to follow, but otherwise this novel is nearly flawlessly executed.

While it is hardly an uplifting book, it’s not a depressing one either. There is nobility in the struggles of the various characters. The second half of the book, with its court room machinations, even has a little humor mixed in with its staccato-like legal proceedings. Finally, there is enough justice in the end to not leave the reader hopeless.

I like a book that teaches me things, and a book that lets me see the world through points of view I will never have. I like a book that makes me think. Justice Gone does all of these in a compelling way and I recommend it highly.

You can purchase Justice Gone on Goodreads, on Amazon US, or at Amazon UK. It is also available at Barnes and Noble, at The Book Depository, at Waterstones and at Kobo.

Yes, there is a giveaway!

The author will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

My favorite excerpt:

Tessa had given much thought as to how she should dress for the occasion. Her first instinct was her Karen Kane pants suit, but dismissed that idea to wear her copper-brown print kaftan in its stead.

Now, with its folds caught in the vigorous September breeze, giving the illusion of a multitude of miniature flags fluttering around her, her thick locks of hair dancing around her head, she spoke to the crowd, slowly, deliberately taking her time. “Hello, my fellow citizens.” She stopped to survey the mass of people standing in front of her. Dramatic pauses replete with eye contact, if not overdone, were quite effective in getting one’s message across. Not surprisingly,  Tessa  knew  how  to get her message across, a special art in the realm of behavioral scientists. Public relations firms, advertising companies, political campaigns, all hired an army of psychologists to sell a product. And Tessa Thorpe, as someone who had thirty years’ experience as a criminal psychiatrist, could sell as well as any of them.

“We are here today for two reasons, two very important reasons that are essential to our well-being in a modern society. Freedom is one, and justice is the other.”

Enthusiastic cheers.

“When the call for war came, we were told that our enemies hated our freedoms. We were told that the citizens of Iraq had been held hostage by a ruthless dictator who denied his own people these freedoms. Our invasion of that country was sold to us as Operation Iraqi Freedom. And so we sent our young men and women off to war, the most traumatic experience a human being could ever go through, with the belief that they were fighting for liberty and freedom. And yet, one of those whom we had sent…had come back to us only to have his own freedom denied. His single offence at the time he was approached by law enforcement officers was that he was exercising his freedom to stand on a street corner.”This elicited a roar from the crowd.

“This is not merely tragic, it is an act of deplorable fraud, being denied the very thing he fought for!”

More heartfelt cheering.

“When I was young, we were made to pledge allegiance, an oath that ended with the phrase, ‘with liberty and justice for all.’ Well, Jay Felson was denied liberty…let us make sure he is NOT DENIED JUSTICE!”

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish.

Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

If you are interested in a review from me:

I like to read science fiction of all sorts, particularly anything involving the nature of time. My protagonist in Twists of Time is a justice seeking, time-warping high school physics teacher, so I am also predisposed to stories that center around issues of social justice, like the one reviewed above.

I am not interested in reviewing romance novels, stories which promote any particular religion, children’s books, or horror of any type.

If you would like to be considered for a review contact me at Alex (dot) Zeitman (at) gmail (dot) com.

Final Note:  I received a free electronic copy of this book, which would never be enough to make me write a better review for anyone.