to be read

TBR jar / TBR masterpost

So, I’d seen the idea of a TBR jar floating around on another book blog…so I decided, why not? I barely have any room for the books that I have and my separate TBR lists are amazingly long, so I decided to compile the lists into one masterlist.

Well, that might have been a mistake. I counted all of the tiles that I have written down…and there are 127 titles. 127 you guys! Because I am interested in so many genres and try to read diversely…well…let’s just say I will be committing to this TBR jar for a while.

The way the TBR jar will work is that I have written each title on my TBR list and the names of the books that I own that are unread on separate slips of paper. I will fold them up, mix them in a Mason jar, and pick out a couple to read each month.

So as of now- I am hereby banning myself from buying any more books/adding to this TBR list until I can get it to a more manageable size. (It’s obvious to pretty much everyone except me that I have a huge problem).

I’m gonna keep track of what I’m reading and when, and I will do so on this post:

  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian
  2. Alex and Eliza
  3. Alexander Hamilton
  4. America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction (September 2017)

  5. Angel
  6. Angels in America (#1)
  7. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
  8. Anton Chekhov: The Complete Short Novels
  9. Anton Chekhov: Stories
  10. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
  11. As I Descended
  12. The Awakening
  13. A Bad Feminist
  14. The Bell Jar
  15. Between Shades of Gray
  16. The Bluest Eye
  17. The Boy in Striped Pajamas
  18. Boy Meets Boy
  19. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
  20. Catch-22
  21. Casual Vacancy
  22. A Circle of Quiet
  23. City of Bones
  24. The Collected Stories- Pushkin
  25. Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol
  26. The Color Purple
  27. The Complete Plays: Christopher Marlowe
  28. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister
  29. Crazy Rich Asians
  30. Difficult Women
  31. Dreamology
  32. Dreams from My Father (Finished September 2017)
  33. Elbow Room
  34. Eleanor and Park
  35. Eligible
  36. Every Heart a Doorway
  37. Extras
  38. The Eyre Affair
  39. Fangirl  (Finished August 2017)
  40. The Fault in Our Stars
  41. Fire
  42. Flame in the Mist
  43. From the Silence of the Tao House
  44. The Fountainhead
  45. Fun Home
  46. The Geek Feminist Revolution
  47. Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
  48. Girl, Interrupted
  49. The Girl on the Train
  50. The Girls of Atomic City
  51. Give us the Ballot
  52. The Glass Castle
  53. The Goldfinch
  54. Gone Girl
  55. Good Wives (Little Women #2)
  56. The Handmaid’s Tale
  57. The Hate You Give
  58. The Help
  59. History is All You Left Me
  60. The Hobbit
  61. How to Make a Wish
  62. The Iceman Cometh
  63. If I was Your Girl (Finished September 2017)
  64. I’ll Give You the Sun
  65. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Finished September 2017)
  66. It Takes a Village
  67. The Jane Austen Book Club
  68. The Jungle
  69. Larger than Life
  70. The Life of Pi
  71. Lowlands
  72. The Luster of Lost Things
  73. Mark of Athena
  74. Memoirs of a Geisha
  75. The Melody of You and Me
  76. Mom & Me & Mom
  77. More Happy than Not
  78. Mourning Becomes Electra
  79. My Antonia
  80. My Sister’s Keeper
  81. Nevermore
  82. The Nightingale
  83. Not Otherwise Specified
  84. Notorious RBG
  85. Of Fire and Stars
  86. One Hundred Years of Solitude
  87. The Opposite of Loneliness
  88. The Outsiders
  89. Paper Towns
  90. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  91. Persepolis 2
  92. The Picture of Dorian Gray
  93. The Price
  94. The Princess Bride
  95. Queens of Geek
  96. Ramona Blue
  97. Red Fire
  98. Room
  99. Sara Bareilles: Sounds Like Me (finished August 2017)
  100. The Secret Life of Bees
  101. Seven Ways We Lie
  102. The Shell Collection
  103. Shiver
  104. A Short History of Nearly Everything
  105. Sightseeing
  106. Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda
  107. Story of the Trapp Family Singers
  108. A Streetcar Named Desire
  109. The Sun is Also A Star
  110. Tales from Watership Down
  111. Tash Hearts Tolstoy
  112. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
  113. Tender is the Night
  114. A Thousand Splendid Suns
  115. To All the Boys I Loved Before
  116. Two Boys Kissing (Finished August 2017)
  117. The Virgin Suicides
  118. Walden
  119. We are Okay (Finished September 2017)
  120. When Breath Becomes Air
  121. When We Collided
  122. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  123. Wild
  124. Wild Swans
  125. Wuthering Heights
  126. The Year of the Runaways
  127. The Zoo Story

This started out as a cute idea, but now it has turned into something that I’ve probably needed to do for a looong time.

Progress: Read- 8/127

Bolded Books are those in my possession.


book tour

Book Tour: Air and Ash


Author: Alex Lidell

Narrator: Kaitlin Bellamy

Length: 6 hours and 57 minutes

Publisher: Danger Bearing Press

Released: Sep. 8, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Master and Commander meets Sarah J Maas in a seafaring adventure of duty, love, magic, and a princess’s quest to protect her kingdom on her own terms.

After a lifetime of training, 17-year-old Princess Nile Greysik, a lieutenant on the prestigious Ashing navy flagship, sails into battle with one vital mission – and fails.

Barred from the sea and facing a political marriage, Nile masquerades as a common sailor on the first ship she can find. With a cowardly captain, incompetent crew, and a cruel, too-handsome first officer intent on making her life a living hell, Nile must hide her identity while trying to turn the sorry frigate battle worthy. Worse, a terrifying and forbidden magic now tingles in Nile’s blood. If anyone catches wind of who Nile is or what she can do, her life is over.

But when disaster threatens the ship, Nile may have no choice but to unleash the truth that will curse her future.

Air and Ash is the thrilling first installment of the TIDES series. Recommended for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Tamora Pierce, and David Weber.


Alex Lidell is the author of Amazon best sellers AIR AND ASH and WAR AND WIND (Danger Bearing Press, 2017) and an Amazon Breakout Novel Awards finalist author of THE CADET OF TILDOR (Penguin, 2013). She is an avid horseback rider, a (bad) hockey player, and an ice-cream addict. Born in Russia, Alex learned English in elementary school, where a thoughtful librarian placed a copy of Tamora Pierce’s ALANNA in Alex’s hands. In addition to becoming the first English book Alex read for fun, ALANNA started Alex’s life long love for YA fantasy books.

Narrator Bio

Kaitlin Bellamy is a freelance performer and acting coach residing in Central Florida, with a theatrical history spanning more than twenty-five years.

Since relocating to Orlando in 2012, she has worked at multiple theme parks and various theatrical venues, in a career style she calls “Buffet Performing:” or, the idea of keeping several jobs active at any given time, so she may pick and choose where to work, and life never gets boring. Her specialties include Shakespeare, Voice Acting, and Puppetry. But above all, she is passionate about the performing arts, and all they stand for.



Q&A with Author Alex Lidell
  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    • At the time I was writing AIR AND ASH, no. But now that I am on the third book in the series, having heard Kaitlin narrate AIR AND ASH, I do hear the characters speaking in her voice as I write.
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • I listed to sample reels of many narrators and then invited Kaitlin to audition. I really like the range of emotions and undertones she has within each character’s voice.
  • How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
    • Very closely! I was really shy about sending her an audio file of my voice pronouncing some words, but it worked 🙂 We also have a shared google doc with character descriptions and we spent some time on the phone “auditioning” character voices. It was one of my favorite parts of the process and the reason I SO love working with Kaitlin.
  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
    • Often by listening to audiobooks or watching some TV shows with the right atmosphere, and then analyzing the story/plot. What did I like about it? Why did I keep watching and listening? How can I apply that fun thing that got me excited to my own writing?
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • I’m a HUGE listener. I fell in love with audiobooks listening to Master and Commander, where the narrator helped me understand some of the technical seamanship. My favorite narrator (aside from Kaitlin of course!) is Jennifer Ikeda
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    • I say Safety First! When I get into a book, I can’t pull away from it – so I end up walking down the street, reading my phone (yeah, i’m one of those horrible people). With audiobooks I can walk and listen!
  • How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
    • I have a habit of traveling to meet people who I’ve e-met during the writing process. After finishing WAR AND WIND (TIDES book 2), I went to see Rachel E Carter in CA. And in October I’m going to go see Kaitlin to celebrate AIR AND ASH audio.
  • In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?
    • I think YA fantasy fans are often comfortable with a series – I know I am – and expect it. Other genres have different fan bases. From an author perspective, a series lets me tell more complex overall stories, but makes logistics difficult. IE in book one, the distance between A and B might not matter so I say “umm, half a day by horse, sure, why not”. And then in book 3 it becomes vitally important that it take a WEEK to get from A to B,… and I have to somehow deal 🙂
  • Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
    • Talk to your narrator and make sure you click as professionals. I really lucked out with Kaitlin because of her excitement level and flexibility – but some people prefer to have more “distance”. It was a match with Kaitlin herself, not just her voice, that finally closed the deal for me
  • What’s next for you?
    • WAR AND WIND (Tides 2) comes out in audio in December. SEA AND SAND (Tides 3) comes out in print/ebook in January!

Oct. 18th:
The Audiobookworm

Adventures thru Wonderland

History from a Woman’s Perspective

My Creatively Random Life

Oct. 19th:


Jazzy Book Reviews

It’s Novel to Me

Oct. 20th:

Notes from ‘Round the Bend

Here’s to Happy Endings

Kasia Burlakoff

Oct. 21st:

Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews

Turning Another Page

Oct. 22nd:

What Is That Book About

Up ‘Til Dawn Book Blog

Lilly’s Book World

Loves Great Reads

Oct. 23rd:

Spunky N Sassy

The Book Junkie Reads . . .

Oct. 24th:

My World…in Words and Pages

The Book Addict’s Reviews

Smada’s Book Smack

Zach’s YA Reviews

Pregnant, Barefoot, in the Kitchen


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book review, nonfiction

Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Like I’m always telling my brothers, if you gonna go into history, you can’t do it with a hate attitude. You got to remember, times was different.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot

GENRE: Nonfiction, Science

RATING: 5/5 stars

BACKGROUND: Henrietta Lacks is the woman responsible for the immortal cell line dubbed as “HeLa”; she was also a relatively unknown figure before this book went to press. Though Henrietta’s cervical cancer cells have made immeasurable contributions to science, and though her cells have been sent into space and have been exploded in nuclear bombs, Henrietta had no idea that her cells were taken and used in the cell culture field. Her cells were taken without her informed consent, a fact that has stuck with the Lacks children, who are unable to afford medical care despite their mother’s contributions to medicine. The fact that Henrietta Lacks was a poorly educated, African American woman adds a whole other dimension to the narrative. Rebecca Skloot examines Henrietta’s story, the morals and complexities of scientific research on humans, the importance of family, and above all else, the value of information.

THOUGHTS: I really liked the way this novel was written. With most nonfiction books, the author remains a distant third party; they are an expert, but not much beyond that. This is not true in this book, Skloot is an active party in this narrative. Although a lot of the book contains history, it also contains the present. Skloot did not just try and convey Henrietta’s story, but also the story of her descendants and of those facing similarly ethical issues concerning their own tissues and cells being used for science.

You get to go through Skloot’s research journey, which seemed notoriously hard. Few academic materials used Henrietta’s real name, and the Lacks family was so tired of reporters taking advantage of their mother and her history that they had stopped “talking”. However, with persistence and the unwavering belief that Henrietta’s story deserved to be told, Skloot managed to grow close to several of the Lacks family members. Skloot also succeeded in educating Henrietta’s descendants about Henrietta’s story; she let Henrietta’s children understand, for the first time, the legacy they inherited.

Deborah, Henrietta’s daughter, is one of the most colorful characters in this narrative and essentially grew up without her mother. She is also a very important part of the story, and is crucial to the way that Skloot ties past events to present, so that the reader is not just reading a history but rather a personal account and a personal journey, both for Skloot and Deborah. This is what I loved about this nonfiction book the most: there are emotions that a reader would normally experience with fictional characters, and you also get to learn interesting things about the research field that you might not otherwise have learned in school.

The book raises difficult questions, especially about the ethics of research on human subjects. It seems as if it is still legal for doctors to keep parts of whatever cells you willingly part with during operations or other investigative treatments without your consent. This means that your cells could technically be used for research that you may not ethically agree to (on abortions, for instance) and could be profited off of, and you have no legal right to deny doctors the DNA you willingly gave up in the first place, nor would you be able to make any money off your own cells. This also means that your DNA, your personal medical information, is able to be legally stored at hospitals and biotech companies without your knowledge. Now, while there are many benefits for disease research presented in this system of doctors keeping blood and tissue samples of many of their patients, there are many moral and ethical issues still tied up in not giving patients’ the right to informed consent. So Henrietta’s story is still relevant today…because honestly, it could still legally happen to you if you live in the United States. And if anything, I think it’s better that people should be educated about this and know about it in case they ever do decide to take action and fight for the rights that they feel they deserve.


Bookish Adaptations: Anna Karenina

I think I am going to begin reviewing book adaptations on the main basis of how well they stuck with the books because let’s be honest: a truly satisfying adaptation for readers is a hard task to execute.

I read Anna Karenina recently, and I decided to check out the 2012 film adaptation (mostly because of Keira Knightley if I am being honest), which was directed by Joe Wright.

Things I Liked:

  • the directing was exceptional. I think the way that the whole production mirrored the way a stage production captures the dreamy way in which Tolstoy wrote this novel. Shots like Karenin sitting alone on an empty stage, in an empty theatre are surreal and hauntingly beautiful.
  • the way Russian high society was depicted. At times, actors seemed like nothing more than machine parts, or gossiping, obsessed freaks, and I think this nicely captures the way in which Tolstoy characterized and used satire.
  • the acting. Keira Knightley and Aaron-Taylor Johnson had amazing chemistry, and Jude Law made a convincing Karenin.
  • the costuming. The costumes were exquisite and so revealing about each of the characters. I am not sure how historically accurate they were but they did so much for the plot of the movie that I was absolutely taken.
  • the cinematography. The whole movie is aesthetically pleasing, and done quite beautifully. The transitions are probably some of the best that I’ve ever seen.

Things I did not like:

  • omitted scenes. Yes, I understand it’s a long novel but so much was missed and what was missed usually included Levin’s and Kitty’s storyline which is so important in the novel, but had to be treated as a side plot in order to keep the movie at a reasonable length
    • bonus annoyance: you know Tolstoy’s famous scene of Levin cutting wheat? it’s like five seconds long in the movie.
  • Levin. Levin is such a hard character to translate into physical adaptations, and this is because the man is highly introspective that the only way to communicate his inner dialog, which is a lot of the book, would be through monologues or voice overs. Neither of these were employed in the movie, and it made Levin’s character significantly less interesting. And, when Levin came to his epiphany in the movie, it would have been lost by everyone who hadn’t read the book because it was the only time it was mentioned in the movie, so a lot of his personal growth got lost.
  • love was the main focus of the movie. I don’t think love/jealousy was necessarily the breaking point of certain characters in the novel, although it was made out to be in the movie. There are so many other themes and complex motifs in the novel that either would not have translated well or that the directors and producers just did not attempt with this movie.

Have you seen the movie? What do you think?

book tour

Book Tour: Keys to the Coven


Author: Vicky Loebel

Narrators: Nick Podehl & Emily Beresford

Length: 12 hours 49 minutes

Publisher: Pentachronistic Press

Released: Jun. 17, 2013

Genre: Paranormal

The Road to Hell is Paved with Bad Intentions. Get ready for Keys to the Coven, a witty, tightly plotted, (adult) urban-fantasy/romance set in an original universe where karma is power, sex is karma, and it’s not who you know but whose soul you own that matters.*

To become a demon, you must die in complete and utter despair. Three hundred years ago, Max passed that test with flying colors and joined the afterlife resolving never again to have innocent blood on his hands. Now Max has been given the job of breaking a young witch’s family curse. But what she doesn’t know, what Max can’t bring himself to tell her, is that completing his mission almost certainly means her death.

When Felicity Woodsen inherits her mother’s coven, she learns each firstborn Woodsen daughter must become the consort of an evil-arch demon. Felicity’s only hope is to ally with the mysteriously charming Max. But is saving her body from one demon worth risking her soul with another?

Roxashael became a demon when his Roman captors sent his family, one by one to be devoured by lions. The lesson was clear: power is good; lots of power is better. Two-thousand years later, Rocky has power. He’s purchased hundreds of souls, and he’s created the Minsk Homunculus, a magic artifact that, by binding a human witch as his consort, turns him into an arch-demon and places him above the goody-two-shoes laws of karma.

Unfortunately, Rocky made a mistake. He fell in love with Felicity’s mother and in a moment of weakness promised to give up his demon-consort charm. Now Felicity’s mother is dead, the Minsk Homunculus is slated for destruction, and Rocky’s power as an arch-demon is about to end.

No demon can break a promise. If Rocky refuses to give up the Minsk Homunculus, he’ll become the lowest, most abject slave in Hell. But then, why break promises when they’re so easy to corrupt?

**Caution: This book contains violence, strong sexual themes, moderately explicit sex between consenting adults, (unfulfilled) threats against children, and one completely gratuitous reference to unicorns.


Vicky Loebel began her professional life as a systems programmer for NASA and moved through successively more challenging careers before settling in as a writer of tightly-plotted, romantic fiction. She lives on the slopes of Mt. Lemmon, AZ with her sister, three dogs, a rotating assortment of children, and a husband who has the patience of a saint.

Narrator Bio

Nick Podehl is a professional Voice Actor. He has narrated over 200 audio books, many of which have won various awards.

Narrator Bio

Emily Beresford is a professional audiobook narrator who is a nerd for books, no matter the genre. In 2013 she was nominated for an Audie Award and received an Earphones Award from AudioFile magazine, for her work on the Multi-Voice title October Mourning. She lives in Michigan with her wonderful husband, and two amazing children.



Q&A with Author Vicky Loebel
  • Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
    Turning “Keys to the Coven” into an audiobook was a dream come true. As a long-time listener (my Audible library is HUGE), I was already a fan of narrator Nick Podehl, so when I spotted his name on the ACX website, I sprang. Mike Naramore of Terrestrial Media recommended Emily Beresford as the female narrator and handled everything, so I got to walk the red-carpet of audiobook production – all without changing out of my pajamas!
  • Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
    Humor is a challenge because it’s taste specific – different people are going to see different things as funny, a fact that was brought home to me when I listened to “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” – a book I thought was only so-so when I read it myself – brilliantly narrated by author Douglas Adams. (If you’ve never heard this version, track it down!)
  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    Nope. If it were, I’d have taken pity on the narrators and made my sentences a little less convoluted. 🙂
  • How did you select your narrators?
    Comic timing is everything when reading a book that is equal parts serious adventure and humor. Since I was lucky enough to know Nick’s work, I simply found his address and threw myself across his driveway blocking his car…. Just kidding. He turned out to be available. Although I kept the driveway thing in reserve….
  • What influenced your decision to have dual narration?
    “Keys to the Coven” alternates point of view between the male and female leads on a chapter-by-chapter basis, so dual narration was a natural choice, but I was worried about finding two readers who worked well together. Fortunately my production house was able to recommend Emily Beresford.
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    My first stories were fanfiction based on an old 1960s television show called “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” about a pair of optimistic spies who save the world and always do the right thing. My demon, Max, is a distillation of the nobility, pragmatism, and dry wit I adore those characters. And sexiness – did I forget to mention sexiness?
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    I love audiobooks! I started checking them out from the library (remember CDs?) years ago to listen to while commuting, and they quickly expanded to brighten chores, exercise, and rocking babies at two in the morning. Along the way, I saw the added dimension a great narrator brings to a story and discovered many new authors while sampling books by beloved narrators. In my opinion, it’s perfect symbiosis!
  • In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?
    I love to fall in love with characters (especially well-crafted secondary characters), so I really understand the appeal of a series. But I also enjoy all sorts of styles and genres and love to try out different worlds and plots. So both are great! Had I but world enough and time….
  • Have any of your characters ever appeared in your dreams?
    Often, particularly toward the end of a project. Those smart-alecs always have something cleverer to say or more inventive to do than whatever I wrote in the first place, so then it’s revisions, revisions, revisions until my dream-masters are satisfied.



Oct. 8th:


Oct. 9th:

Blogger Nicole Reviews

Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews

Oct. 10th:


Oct. 11th:

Shh, I am Reading

Turning Another Page

Oct. 12th:

Jazzy Book Reviews

It’s Novel to Me

Oct. 13th:

Up ‘Til Dawn Book Blog

Tango With Text

Oct. 14th:

The Book Addict’s Reviews

2 Girls & A Book

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book review, classics

Review: Anna Karenina

Reason could not discover love for the other, because it’s unreasonable.

Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy

GENRE: Classic

BOOK FORMAT: physical, paperback

RATING: 4.5/5 stars

SUMMARY: Anna Karenina is the subject of a high-society scandal when she leaves her husband, Alexei Alexandrovich for Count Vronsky. Her husband is a respected, high-ranking bureaucrat and her new affair is a dashing, young, womanizing army officer. Katerina also pines after Vronsky, thinking that after he showed some interest in her that they would live happily together. This comes as news to Levin, a wealthy farmer who has only ever had eyes for Katerina. As Anna succumbs more and more to Vronksy’s courting, she has a choice to make: follow her passion and fall from society’s graces and leave her son behind, or stay unhappily married but respected? The consequences of her choice manages to touch on the rest of the cast of characters in this novel.

THOUGHTS: I thought, going into this novel, that I knew how it would go and who I would sympathize with. But the beautiful thing about Tolstoy is that he writes complex characters, so that you must reprimand, empathize, and relate to each of them. There are all the elements of any human life, vibrating off the page in this novel: politics, religion, philosophy, morals, family, sex, lust, parenting, childhood, and everything in between.

I adored Tolstoy’s writing style, though this was definitely a book I had to read at the same time as other books. I could only take chunks of it as a time because of its density, but I would definitely consider rereading all 800 pages of it again. Tolstoy’s writing style is so idiosyncratic and makes me feel like I am viewing the world through a slanted mirror. I know that the events are not quite reality, but they reflect a lot of the world around me pretty accurately, despite the fact that I do not live in nineteenth century Russia.

If you are like me and you prefer novels that are character-driven, then this book is for you. It is narrated from several perspectives of many characters, despite the title of the book. You get to watch the silly Kitty mature, the hopeless romantic Levin become more grounded, and other  more “flawless” characters absolutely deteriorate. One gets to experience all the highs and lows of Russian aristocratic society, which is so beautifully critiqued in this work. And the passages are beautifully written, and written in such a way that at several points you have to put down the book and ponder what it is asking you to believe about the human condition.

I gave this book a 4.5/5 stars just because I am not a mature enough reader to truly appreciate each and every passage- some of the passages about politics bored me (and I study politics!) but then again, they also bored the narrator so maybe that was the intention? But next summer, I feel confident enough in my admiration of this writing style to try and maybe tackle Tolstoy’s more famous work War and Peace.

book review, reading recommendations, short story sunday

Short Story Sunday: Hills Like White Elephants

For those of you who find it hard to set time aside to read, but still love the pull of a good novel, I introduce to you Short Story Sundays! Basically, I will review a short story or even an essay that I loved each Sunday (most of them will be recommendations) instead of a full length novel or play that you can easily pick up, read, and digest in the span of an hour.

This week’s short story comes from the one, the only, Ernest Hemingway. Maybe you’ve heard of him? Surprisingly enough, this short story has nothing to do with war.

SUMMARY: There are two main characters in this story, both unnamed, but it is clear that they are a man and a woman in a relationship. They are waiting at a train station, talking about small things like the drinks they are about to order and the hills that mysteriously look like white elephants. The tension rises until the man mentions an “operation”, trying to reassure the woman that it will go over smoothly and that all will be alright. The elephant (see what I did there?) in the room is finally addressed, and the couple goes back and forth on whether this operation will be good for the both of them, whether the woman actually wants it, and whether they are happy and how the operation will affect their happiness. The story ends as their conversation does and as the train is about to arrive.

REVIEW: Stylistically, this story is a masterpiece. There is very little exposition, most of the story is told through dialogue. The imagery and metaphors of this story are beautiful and it is easy to sympathize with both the characters though little to nothing is said about their identities nor their backgrounds. And that’s the beauty of this story- it does not need descriptions nor does it need blatant characterization. Everything that you need to know is communicated in the dialogue and the simple exposition, and that is a trick that only a master like Hemingway can truly pull off.

Before you dive into it, I will warn you that it is a little heartbreaking- but would you really expect anything else out of Ernest Hemingway? I will link the PDF from Weber State University here if you’d like to read it. And it’s only four pages, so why shouldn’t you read it?

RATING: 5/5 stars, would highly recommend.

book tour

Book Tour: The Punch Escrow

Author: Tal M. Klein

Narrator:Matthew Mercer

Length: 8 hours 42 minutes

Publisher: Audible Studios

Released: Jul. 25, 2017

Genre: Tecnothriller

It’s the year 2147. Advancements in nanotechnology have enabled us to control aging. We’ve genetically engineered mosquitoes to feast on carbon fumes instead of blood, ending air pollution. And teleportation has become the ideal mode of transportation, offered exclusively by International Transport—a secretive firm headquartered in New York City. Their slogan: Departure… Arrival… Delight!


Joel Byram, our smartass protagonist, is an everyday twenty-second century guy. He spends his days training artificial intelligence engines to act more human, jamming out to 1980’s new wave—an extremely obscure genre, and trying to salvage his deteriorating marriage. Joel is pretty much an everyday guy with everyday problems—until he’s accidentally duplicated while teleporting.


Now Joel must outsmart the shadowy organization that controls teleportation, outrun the religious sect out to destroy it, and find a way to get back to the woman he loves in a world that now has two of him.



Tal M. Klein was born in Israel, grew up in New York, and currently lives in Detroit with his wife and two daughters. When she was five years old, his daughter Iris wrote a book called I’m a Bunch of Dinosaurs that went on to become one of the most successful children’s book projects on Kickstarter ―something that Tal explained to Iris by telling her, “your book made lots of kids happy.” Iris then asked Tal, “Daddy, why don’t you write a book that makes lots of grownups happy?” Tal mulled this over for a few years, and eventually wrote his first book, The Punch Escrow. It won the Inkshares Geek & Sundry Hard Science Fiction publishing contest, and is the first book published on the Geek & Sundry imprint.

Narrator Bio

Matthew Christopher Miller, known professionally as Matthew Mercer or Matt Mercer, is an American voice actor involved in English dubs of Japanese anime as well as cartoons, films and video games. In anime shows, he voiced Levi in Attack on Titan, Kiritsugu Emiya in Fate/Zero, Kanji Tatsumi for episodes 13-26 in Persona 4: The Animation and Trafalgar Law in the Funimation dub of One Piece. In video games, he voices Leon S. Kennedy in the Resident Evil series, Jack Cooper in Titanfall 2, Chrom in Fire Emblem Awakening, McCree in Overwatch, MacCready in Fallout 4 and Yusuke Kitagawa in Persona 5. In addition to voice-over, Mercer has developed some live-action web series including a Nintendo character parody called “There Will Be Brawl” and the famous Geek & Sundry and Alpha Dungeons & Dragons gaming session show “Critical Role.” The Punch Escrow is his first audiobook.




Q&A with Author Tal M. Klein
  • How did you select your narrator, Matthew Mercer?

I always knew I wanted Matt Mercer to narrate my book, the hard part was getting him to agree to do it. Between Critical Role and his various Nerdist responsibilities, he’s also an incredibly prolific voice actor. Recording an audiobook is a serious time commitment! There was also the challenge of getting Audible to agree to having Matt do the book because he’d never done an audiobook before. Ultimately I got lucky in that Matt read my book, liked it, agreed to do the audiobook, and Audible was easily convinced to sign off once they heard his voice acting reel. The rest is history!

  • How closely did you work with Matthew before and during the recording process? Did you give him any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?

Matt is a consumate professional. We did one session on pronounciation, but everything else was entirely in his court. I wanted him to make my book is canvas. He did an outstanding job.

  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?

The Inkshares community is incredibly supportive, so they are owed a lot of credit, but my wife deserves the lion’s share. She was my rock throughout the writing process and the book would have never gotten finished without her support and enthusiasm.

  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?

I love audiobooks, though I tend to prefer listening to nonfiction. One of the reasons I was so particular about choosing Matt Mercer to do my book is because I knew he would give each chracter a unique voice. I feel like many fiction audiobooks lose me when they are narrated in monotone.

  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?

Nothing beats Matt Mercer singing Karma Chameleon. That alone is worth the price of admission in my humble opinion.

  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?

I think the two experiences are distinctly different. As I mentioned, I rarely listen to fiction audiobooks, but when I do it’s usually after I’ve already read the book.

  • How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?

A bottle of expensive bubbly with my family and friends!


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Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews
Brian’s Book Blog

Oct. 5th:
Buried Under Books
Lilly’s Book World

Oct. 6th:
It’s Novel to Me
Macarons & Paperbacks
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Book Stacks Amber
Here’s to Happy Endings

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Lynn’s Romance Enthusiasm

Oct. 9th:
Canadian Book Addict
Audio Spy

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The Book Addict’s Reviews
Bound 4 Escape

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