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#DNF list- Books I Did Not Finish


It is nearing the end of the calendar year, and I figured I’d wrap up the year with some books I have never finished. Hopefully, in 2018, I will be able to finish these novels (at least some of them!)

  • The Aeneid by Virgil:

This was a book that I was assigned to read for an Ancient Roman culture class. We only were assigned to read excerpts of it throughout class and I honestly never picked it up again after that class ended, mostly because that particular class required so much reading every week that I had to take a break from that story. However, it is interesting and educational so I’d like to think that I’d pick it up again.

  • Anna Karenina  by Leo Tolstoy

I have been “reading” this book for over a year now and I always make excuses not to read it- I’ll go and read a shorter book or I’ll listen to my audiobook or I’ll read my ebook. It’s a really bad habit and I’m nearly halfway through, so hopefully I will get the urge to just power through it. I am really enjoying it, it’s just dense and sometimes I have to switch to something lighter or more contemporary. The issue is I often get stuck in those other novels while forgetting about this classic.

  • A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

I had to read excerpts of this for a science class and actually really enjoy the spin that Bryson puts on science- it’s accessible to laymen who have never taken a psychics class in their life like me and it’s entertaining. There are narratives behind every discovery described and I would like to finish the parts that were not assigned to me because it was that good.

  • Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott

I tried reading this book as an adolescent and it was a more adult version of Little Women that young me just didn’t identify with as much as the characters in the original book. However, as a younger adult now, I think I would like to give this book the second chance it deserves.

  • The History of Rome by Livy

Again, I was assigned this book for my ancient Rome class, and because a lot of Rome’s “history” is mythologically based, I would like to continue reading this book but in a less academic, more relaxed setting.

  • Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke

I regret never finishing the Inkheart trilogy, especially because I loved the first two. I was deterred by the enormous size of the third book, as well as a couple of friends who told me that the book was not worth my time. Thinking back on it (in my defense I was ten years old so the opinions of my peers had great weight on me) I should have formed my own opinion on the book and just committed to finishing the series in the first place.

  • The Complete Sonnets of Shakespeare

It’s not like me to read poetry as I would a novel, but instead pick it up from time to time. However, I believe I don’t pick up this poetry book quite as often as I should, and I do hope to, one day, have read every poem and play written by Shakespeare.

  • The Story of Earth by Robert M. Hazen

I was also assigned parts of this for a science class. However, I am not sure I am as determined to finish this one as the others- it describes the origins of Earth and is kind of dry unless you are a geologist enthusiast? It is interesting though, but maybe this one will be a book I’ll never finish.

  • The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp

I love, love, love The Sound of Music. I am pretty sure I have the entire soundtrack memorized at heart. I tried to read this memoir at a young age, but it differed so much from the idealized, romanticized version of this story portrayed in the movie that I quickly lost interest. However, as an adult (do you see a theme here?) I’d like to think I’d appreciate the real story more.

  • Tender is the Night by Scott Fitzgerald

This was simply a vacation read that I never quite finished, but I would really like to. I don’t have a good excuse for this one, besides the simple fact that I forgot I was reading it.

How many books on your #didnotfinish list? Will you continue reading those, or will they remain unfinished for you?

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book review, young adult

Review: Annie John

I was afraid of the dead, as was everyone I knew. We were afraid of the dead because we never could tell when they might show up again

Annie John, Jamaica Kincaid

annie-john

Click on the image above to purchase on Amazon.

I was assigned to read this novel in class, but I was already familiar with Jamaica Kincaid’s short stories, which are, quite moving. Suffice to say, I was not disappointed with my introduction to her novel writing.

AUTHOR: Jamaica Kincaid

GENRE: Young Adult, Fiction, Coming of Age

WHERE DID I GET THIS BOOK: Amazon

RATING: 4.5 stars/stars

SUMMARY: Annie John is your typical girl who grows up on the island of Antigua. Her life is dominated by a couple of things; fear of the dead, her undying love for her mother, and her affection towards her friends. However, as she grows older, the nature of the affectionate relationship between her and her mother shifts. Suddenly, Annie John finds herself the victim of lectures about what it means to be a young lady and on the other side of childhood that she never thought she’d find herself on.

THOUGHTS: The theme of the English class I took, the one that assigned me this novel, was coming-of-age. This theme is heralded throughout Annie John and is dealt with a truthful and unapologetic way that makes me love the book even more. There are all sorts of emotional complexities that accompanies one as she makes the transition from young girl to young woman, and these are laid bare in this novel. It was a delight to share in Annie John’s pain and struggles for me personally, because it is a stark reminder that a) I’m not alone and b) maturing into a woman is significantly different than maturing into a man.

Coming-of-age novels can often be a hit and miss with me (The Catcher in the Rye was a total miss) and Annie John was a hit. Maybe it is because I identify so strongly with parts of Annie’s narrative: her urge to leave her home for the greater world beyond, her struggle with the aspects of her identity as a woman-of-color and what expectations that identity entails, and her rebellious side. There are also aspects of female-female friendships throughout the book that are so strong, as those bonds typically are in young girls, which is amazing to read from a feminist point of view. However, there are also rivalries between girls, though not over boys as other young adults might espouse, but over academic achievement. This subject is also broached in a respectful way (because the girls attend an all-girl school) and enhances the truthfulness of the narrative.

Kincaid’s language, as per usual, flows well from one chapter to the next. Annie’s voice as a narrator is easily identifiable as youthful, though wise beyond her years. Annie is smart, she is snarky, she has attitude and she has pity and is capable of humiliation. She goes through all the awkward struggles that comes with those early teenage years, and all of this is made clear in Kincaid’s diction. Annie is sometimes identifiable, sometimes sympathetic, and sometimes not. All in all, her humanity- the best and the worst of it, are on full display in this novel.

Those of us who like novels that end neatly and with no lingering, unexplored topics waiting at the end might not enjoy this particular novel. It is true that the character of Annie progresses from girl to adult, from naive to seasoned, and from full of love to full of other, more complicated emotions; however, the book only ends with her as a young adult. As as many young adults can attest, just because one makes it through physical puberty does not mean that the emotional journeys started in puberty also come to an end. However, this open-ended ending does all the more to make the novel believable, and the character of Annie John identifiable as a young woman with more still to figure out as she continues to mature.

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book review, reading recommendations, short story sunday

Short Story Sunday: How to Become a Writer


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 to us from Lorrie Moore. This was a story I had to read three times for three different English classes, and I consider it a good introduction to Lorrie Moore, so here goes. You can access the story here.

SUMMARY: Francie, an aspiring writer, details the journey of how her passion for writing is born and blossoms. However, the reception of her writing remains the same: there are lukewarm responses, discouraging responses, and of course confused responses. Francie rewrites the same themes into multiple storylines, and it seems that no one seems to understand her process or what she’s writing about. Not even those in her creative writing classes seem to understand what she is trying to say; they’d rather smoke cigars and turn up their noses. Throughout the story, we accompany Francie throughout her maturation and fight our way through her confusion alongside her as she discovers, (or doesn’t?) how to become a writer.

REVIEW: One thing I absolutely adore about Moore’s writing is that it is unique. It has a specific voice that is incredibly identifiable as only her’s. Moore’s writing also keeps you guessing, she mentions in her title that the story is about falling into a cliche but her writing is anything but. Her figurative language is unnerving but at the same time makes complete sense, and even though I have read this story multiple times over there are many aspects that I still do not understand and I love that about her writing.

The stream-of-consciousness style suits this story well, as it appears disjointed but is actually masterfully being held together by a few, select, story mechanisms, such as the parallelism in Francie’s life. Francie’s voice as a character is clearcut and quirky- she is leading the life of someone who has a passion but has no idea what to do about it, and Moore’s writing only exemplifies this.

This story almost reads as a series of diary entries or even a hazy memoir looking back (Francie is of course, predictably narrating from the future) rather than a short story. The plotline is there, but strays away from the basic beginning, middle, and end structure.

One thing I love about this story is Francie’s miserable failures. The story showcases the gross, unidentifiable, confusing, and frustrating side of writing- none of the flowery sentences that talented writers will eventually arrive at. All of Francie’s story ideas are near awful; she has not yet reached her full potential. And yet, the story hints at future success for Francie, so just because all hope seems to be lost throughout Francie’s past, it does not necessitate any part of her future. And that as a lesson, I think, is one that is not touched on enough, especially on the subject of writing.

If you enjoy reading something slightly out of your comfort zone, then this story is for you.

RATING: 4/5 stars.

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book review, classics, reading recommendations

Review: Pride and Prejudice

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

prideandprejudice-bookcover22

There is something to be said about the fact that I have the first line of this novel memorized. And that something is, I am OBSESSED as any teenage fangirl would be with this book.

AUTHOR: Jane Austen, duh.

GENRE: romance

WHERE DID I GET THIS BOOK: thrift shop

RATING: 5/5 stars

SUMMARY: Mrs. Bennet is sent into a frenzy when a rich, eligible bachelor moves into a house in her neighborhood. She is convinced that Bingley, the bachelor, is destined to marry one of her daughters. This prediction proves to be not unfounded as Bingley and Jane, the eldest Bennet girl, are quite taken with each other. Bingley brings his friend along, Darcy, another rich, eligible bachelor that the main character, Elizabeth, finds pompous, arrogant, and exceedingly rude. Through some miscommunications, Bingley suddenly leaves town, taking Darcy with him and leaving Jane heartbroken. Elizabeth suspects foul play, and when Darcy surprisingly proposes to her, she confronts him about how he interfered with the happiness of her sister. From then on, events spiral out of control and Elizabeth’s world-view and character judgements are challenged, shattered, and rearranged. As she matures throughout the story, she finds that first impressions are not always what’s really true and that her pride, and someone else’s prejudice, very nearly destroyed the happiness of themselves and those that they hold dear to their hearts.

THOUGHTS: Pride and Prejudice, for me, was the kind of book that I picked up and rarely ever put down until I was completely finished with it. It was that captivating, and that good. Elizabeth Bennet is my perfect narrator: relatable, sassy, intelligent, loving, and flawed. Her journey throughout the story arc is one of my absolute favorites, and though the romance is the main focal point for most people, Elizabeth’s development is the meat of the story for me.

If you have ever watched The Lizzie Bennet Diaries on YouTube (here is a link if you have no idea what I’m talking about), there are a few aspects of the book that stand out as flaws. There is no redemption of Lidia Bennet or her relationship with Elizabeth in the book, there is not a whole lot of characterization from Wickham besides word-of-mouth (and of course the book clearly says that this is not a good way to know a character), and the submissiveness of Jane Bennet in forgiving other characters. Of course, some of these errors are only perceived as such because this is not a modern novel, and some come from the fact that the novel is only told from Elizabeth’s point of view while the video series tries to incorporate other points of view. But some, of course, are Austen’s errors.

Besides this, there are many praises that I can ascribe to this novel, and there have been many praises that other people have ascribed to this novel, so I will try and keep it brief so you can spend less time reading this review and more time reading Pride and Prejudice. The characterization of Elizabeth and William beautifully mirror each other, and although it is Elizabeth’s story, William also blossoms and grows throughout the story.

The family aspect of this story is also very important; the Bennet family, although not the best family to marry into nor the most stable of families, is recognizable, even in modern times. The mother, who is characterized as rather crazy and obsessive by Elizabeth, does experience some redemption. Mr. Bennet is lovingly characterized as a simple, quiet, but fiercely loyal man. The Bennet sisters are all quite different, but also recognizable as the different kinds of girls you have known and befriended throughout your life. There is jealousy, there is contempt, but above all, there is love and support.

The romance, of course, is your classic they met and hated each other, but once they got to know each other, things changed. But this storyline was probably best exemplified by this novel, and it feels so fresh and real in this novel. Additionally, the way that the two end up falling for each other is unorthodox and is not romantic in the conventional sort of way.

I’ll stop here to prevent myself from rambling on, but if you’d like to talk to me about your crazy love for this novel and all things Austen, feel free to reach me through the Contact page! And if you love classical novels, a bit of romance, and plenty of drama, this novel is a MUST READ for you!

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book review, play, reading recommendations

Review: Death of a Salesman

A small man can be just as exhausted as a great man

Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller

9780141182742

This is probably my favorite play of all time, just a warning! There will be considerable gushing for this particular work.

AUTHOR: Arthur Miller

GENRE: Drama, Tragedy

WHERE DID I GET THIS BOOK: school library

SUMMARY: Willy Loman is a less-than-mediocre salesman that seems utterly incapable of coming to terms with his own mediocrity and average state and with the lack of conventional success in his two sons’ lives, Biff and Happy. It is revealed in the play that Willy had always imagined that his two sons would experience great success, as Biff was the quarterback of the football team and was predicted to go to college on a football scholarship. Their neighbor, Bernard, is a smart kid who had constantly reminded Biff to study so as not to fail his high school classes. It is also apparent to the audience that Biff as a kid was a bully, full of himself, irresponsible, and a troublemaker. Willy is as blind to his son’s flaws at that time as he is in the present, and Biff and Happy strive to prove to their father that they will lead ordinary lives. Their mother, Linda, pushes them to make their father happy by pursuing prospects that do not really exist and careers that ultimately would not make them happy. Willy refuses to listen to his kids’ protests, and his children desperately try to play in his fantasy world while Linda moderates, but eventually all of these tensions come to a boiling point and a climax that the family cannot ultimately return from.

RATING: 5/5 stars

THOUGHTS: There are many reasons why this is one of my favorite plays, and one of the reasons is because the theatricality of it is so thought out and employed so well. All of the details and thought put into the stage directions is amazing and helps the reader really envision the work; it is a play that can exist as beautifully on stage as it does on paper. Specifically, the flute music that is supposed to accompany the story and Willy’s memories is one of my favorites details, and Miller’s details concerning how the house is supposed to be set up embody the feeling of the story so perfectly.

This is also a story about the American Dream, but not in the way that more classical works like The Great Gatsby address the materialism accompanied with the American Dream. One would think that Willy’s son Biff was the perfect high-school hero, as a popular kid and the star of the football team. However, his future did not pan out as well as Willy might have hoped it would, and this mostly resulted from the character flaws of Biff and from some of Willy’s. Instead, the expectations for a standard American life and the entitlement that can sometimes embody American culture are the subjects of this show, and I think it only reveals why idealizing anyone else’s idea of the perfect life can be so damaging and demoralizing.

Willy Loman is the epitome of a tragic hero, and it is unclear what exactly, in medical and psychological terms, what it was that he was afflicted with. There is no need to really know what could possibly be affecting Willy’s mental and emotional state, because it is family expectations and an idealized world that ultimately would be his downfall, and he pushed these things that poisoned his life onto his sons, continuing the cycle of abuse. He has no consciousness that these are his weaknesses though, except maybe at the end, and this makes him a fascinating character that I love to investigate over and over again.

This is a simple family drama but it is ultimately a reflection on American culture, and it is almost certain that everyone has something to draw from the story. I think that is what makes it timeless to me, that as a high schooler in 2016, I could still relate to the character of Willy Loman from decades ago. He only ever strived to be a great man and not just another chip off the block, and I believe that a lot of us strive to be one of the “greats” when the reality is, that most of us are the flecks of dust and not the flecks of gold. However, this can be embraced in its own way and has its own beauty, a message that Willy Loman never learned but one that perhaps Arthur Miller did and was trying to convey through this work.

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book tag

HARRY POTTER BOOK TAG!

HI ALL HI Y’ALL! Happy Halloween to those of you who celebrate. I thought today was a perfect day to do the Harry Potter Book Tag and talk about all things Harry Potter because a) of course I’m a fan and b) what better day to talk about Harry Potter than on the day he became The Boy Who Lived?

So without further ado…

THE HARRY POTTER BOOK TAG:

  • Favorite book

Deathly Hallows. I just like how the finality came about, and because I’m a masochist, seeing Harry and his gang lose their innocence in a brutal yet honest way was nice to see for me, especially from a more adult perspective. I think how all the loose ends were tied was masterful and it kept you on your toes from the beginning to the end. I also have the best memories associated with this book, like preordering the book and attending its nightmare premiere with my friends, so that might have influenced how much I love this installment of the series.

  • Favorite movie

Goblet of Fire. I love what the filmmakers did with the Triwizard Tournament, the Yule Ball, and the other two magical schools. Out of all the Harry Potter books, I just think the plot of this one leant itself most to the movie medium.

  • Least favorite book

The Half-Blood Prince. I just really dislike Snape, okay; also, this is the book when Harry was probably the most annoying to me. I know I am not alone in terms of not-loving this particular Harry Potter book.

  • Parts of the books/movies that made you cry

I’ll admit- I’m an emotional reader (and just an emotional person in general). The two most heartbreaking moments of the series is when Dobby died and when Fred died. I mean- come on. Sure, Dobby’s death was the perfect end to his relationship with Harry Potter, and it only speaks to Dobby’s character that he sacrificed so much for Harry Potter and his side in the war. But this only added to the sadness of the moment for me, and only enhanced my grief over Dobby’s death. Also, are we going to talk about the fact that Fred’s death happened in the middle of his reunion with Percy finally standing up to the hierarchy he was entrenched in? It is a moment both cruel and fitting- he died having reconciled with his brother, but he still did not live to reap the benefits of that reconciliation. Also George’s and Ron’s emotions over the death made the passing that much more heartbreaking. J.K. Rowling- she sure knows how to make you love a character and then rip it away from you in the worst of moments.

  • If you could hook up with any Harry Potter character who would it be?

Dean Thomas. I mean there’s a reason Ginny dated him y’all.

dean thomas

Gif gotten from here.

  • Favorite character

Hermoine Granger. Smart, frumpy, and at times, a little high-spirited. What else could a girl want from a lead female character?

  • What would your Patronus be?

Pottermore dictates that it would be a Ginger Cat. I find this pretty interesting since I am not a cat person at all, and a cat would not be the pet that I’d take to Hogwarts with me.

  • Which of the Deathly Hallows would you choose?

I am not emotionally strong enough to deal with the Resurrection Stone, nor am I confrontational enough to make use of the Elder Wand, so I’ll have to go with the Invisibility Cloak. Trust me, there is many a time when I wish I could’ve disappeared into  the background (or snuck out of the house without my parents noticing).

  • What House would you be in?

I took the Pottermore test ages ago, and it dictated that I would be in Hufflepuff, which makes sense to me. Last year, I retook the test because the website had a new test (I think?) and I got sorted into Ravenclaw. Both are viable possibilities, but if you ask me I’d probably say that I was more Ravenclaw than Hufflepuff.

  • If you could meet any member of the cast who would it be?

Definitely Emma Watson. Feminist icon, all around lovely, and now a real, breathing Disney princess?? Sign me up.

  • Have you played any of the video games?

I played the Lego Harry Potter games on the Wii because I got them for Christmas but that’s about it!

  • If you were on the Quidditch team which position would you play?

I don’t think I’d be on the Quidditch team at all, especially in a house that is a competitive as Ravenclaw is. I’d be the chaser if I had to pick a position, mostly because avoiding running into people/ frantically trying to avoid people coming at you is a skill I’ve already acquired in real life due to my shorter-than-average stature.

  • Were you happy with the ending?

Yes, I was. I am of the opinion that A Cursed Child was not part of the original, actual plot line. I know I might be of a minority in saying I actually would rather there never be another Harry Potter book. I’m content with how it ended.

  • How much does Harry Potter mean to you?

I love Harry Potter. I was part of the club in high school. I had a Harry Potter themed birthday party when I was twelve. My friend wrote me a fake Harry Potter acceptance letter. My family sits around and binge watches the movies whenever a weekend marathon is happening. I’ve been to the Harry Potter worlds in both Orlando and Los Angeles. Suffice to say, this is a series that was close to my heart and close to my childhood, as the series is only a year older than I am and I read all of the books under the age of eleven. It only fanned my passion for reading and my empathy, I’d like to think, for everyone else around me. And now as an adult, I can appreciate the subtle politics that it advances. Truthfully, I love and will love Harry Potter, always.

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book review, book tour, young adult

Book Tour: Transcend Time

Author: Michelle Madow

Narrator: Andrea Emmes

Series: The Transcend Time Saga, Book 1

Length: 7 hours 5 minutes

Publisher: Dreamscape Publishing

Released: Jul. 31, 2017

Genre: Clean Romance

They’re reincarnated soulmates. So why is he pushing her away?

Lizzie Davenport has been reincarnated from 1815, England … but she doesn’t know it until she meets her soul mate from the past and he triggers her memories to gradually return.

When Drew Carmichael moves to Lizzie’s town, Lizzie feels a connection to him, like she knows him. But he wants nothing to do with her. She knows she should let go of her fascination with Drew, but that gets harder and harder as memories of her past life return. And the more Lizzie remembers, the more she’s determined to unravel the mysteries of the past … no matter how deadly those secrets might be.

A romance with a fantasy twist that listeners of all ages will love!

Michelle Madow is a USA Today bestselling author of fast paced fantasy novels that will leave you turning the pages wanting more!
She grew up in Maryland and now lives in Florida. Some of her favorite things are: reading, traveling, pizza, time travel, Broadway musicals, and spending time with friends and family. Someday, she hopes to travel the world for a year on a cruise ship.

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Narrator Bio

Audible Best Selling Narrator, Andrea Emmes was born in Hollywood, FL and grew up in both Tennessee and Rhode Island, started her career in musical theater. Cutting her teeth at The Trinity Arts Center in Rhode Island, Andrea eventually made her way to Orlando and began her eclectic career singing/dancing in various shows at Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Pirates’ Dinner Adventure, performing as a magician’s assistant, headlining on the Las Vegas Strip and touring Los Angeles as an L.A. Award winning artist with her album, “I’m On My Way”.

Having worked in tv, film and video games, Andrea, a total Book Nerd, now enjoys narrating audiobooks at her home studio in San Jose, California.

Her wide range of character voices and dynamic/emotionally invested performances has reviewers and listeners alike commenting on how she effortlessly pulls listeners in, and has versatility and charisma.

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I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Andrea Emmes. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

RATING: 3.5/5 stars

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes fantasy and young adult! It has your classic tropes: the love triangle, the dark and handsome love interest, the conflicted girl, etc. It is a feel-good, kind of book that I’m sure many people would enjoy.

I liked listening to this book rather than reading it ( and not just because the narrator, Andrea Emmes, did a terrific job) because it was a lot easier to imagine the details of setting while listening to the book.

The book did a great job in sticking to the historical accuracies of the other time era it was describing other than present day, though I was left wishing that more of the book was spent in the “past” because that era is truly one of my favorites to study and know more about.

Lizzie, the protagonist, navigates through the classic high school issues: whether she really likes her current boyfriend (he’s a class-A jerk, which was nicely done), whether she should be taking AP classes when she is struggling in the subject, and whether she should be loyal to her best friend or loyal to her love interest. These struggles took up most of the book and that is why I would recommend this book to readers who like young adult. Many of Lizzie’s issues are valid ones that many a teenager deals with, and her immaturity in dealing with some of these issues only goes to show that she is the age she is supposed to be in this book. I believe anyone who remembers being a confused teenager will have no issue in relating to the protagonist.

There are also many, many references to Pride and Prejudice, which I enjoyed because it is truly one of my favorite books. If these elements sound appealing to you, then I would definitely recommend this series to you!

Goodreads

Audible

Q&A with Narrator Andrea Emmes
  • When did you know you wanted to be an audiobook narrator?
    • Well, I kind of fell into audiobooks in 2014 and haven’t looked back since. I’ve been a professional performer (actor/singer/dancer/VO) for over 20 years but in 2006 I got hurt in a stunt show and had to retire due to a disabling pain disorder called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy aka CRPS. I’ve always been an avid reader and during my recovery I read about 8-12 books a week. I went back to college and got a degree in Game Art and Design and was a game designer for Disney Interactive for a couple of years After the layoffs, I had to figure out what I should do next as I can no longer dance, etc. anymore and my husband suggested I look into audiobooks. He’s brilliant and I researched it, set up my equipment, studied with coaches and have enjoyed every minute of it!!
  • Did you find it difficult to “break into” audiobook narration? What skill/tool helped you the most when getting started?
    • That’s a great question. Yes and No. When looking into how to get into audiobooks, I found ACX. Audiobook Exchange which is owned by Amazon/Audible. It’s a really great marketplace for self-published indie authors/small publishers to put their books up for auditions and for narrators to find work. This is where I got my start. It was great cutting my teeth on the amazing books that were listed but since this is a full time thing for me, I’m always looking how to grow my business and extend my reach as a narrator. So, I started looking into how I could work with the big publishers. This takes some time as there are a ton of amazing talent out there that are vying to be noticed and cast. So, I immediately starting coaching with Sean Allen Pratt, who is an incredible coach and began learning techniques for Non Fiction and narration in general which really gave me a solid foundation moving forward. I still hear Sean’s advice in my head while in the booth 3 years later!! I’ve also studied with Paul Alan Ruben, Patrick Fraley, PJ Ochlan, Joel Froomkin, Andi Arndt. Each one offered such nuggets of wisdom that has made me a better narrator and I look forward to learning from other coaches as you should always be honing your craft. Each book I do, I learn so much and finally this year, after networking, working on my technique and studio sound, I’ve started working with some publishers and am so excited to see what lies ahead!
  • A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career?
    • I, too, have a background in theatre and though I think that it was 100% helpful for me in bringing those acting techniques to my narration, it’s not a MUST. But it does help. Audiobook Narration is an acting job. You are cast to not only bring the book to life audibly, but you must vocally and emotionally embody each character, the tone of the book and entertain at the same time. It’s no easy feat. So for those who don’t have any acting background and want to be a narrator, it can be learned with really great coaching. I know many successful narrators who didn’t come from the acting world but put in so much work to be the best at what they do.
  • What type of training have you undergone?
    • I’ve been studied the art of acting and performing for more than half my life. I’ve taken singing lessons to not only bring a higher quality to my singing voice, but to help with breath control, mic techinques and vocal upkeep. I’ve studied with the best of the best for voice over work for commercials, animation, video games and of course audiobooks. What’s interesting is that the technique for voice over (commercial/animation/videogames) is different for audiobooks. There is a different approach you need to take with NonFiction (which is still acting) and with Fiction. How you approach different character voices but not be over the top cartoony, keeping the narration genuine and engaging to keep the listener immersed. Sometimes, I enjoy the training just as much as the actual narration.
  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for narrating?
    • That is a great question, but narration can be tedious. Especially because you have to learn a ton of tech and engineering besides just speaking into the mic. It’s important to take lots of small breaks. Especially because it’s not good to be sitting or standing for too long. Because of my disability, I have to narrate sitting down, so it’s important for me to stretch or lay down every once in a while. Also, it can be hard to maintain your enthusiasm because, yes, I have a wicked cool job that I LOVE, but sometimes it’s hard to get into the emotions of the book. But I remind myself that I’m so blessed to do what I do; to have authors and publishers who believe and trust in me to bring their book to life and I don’t take that honor lightly. If I’m struggling or just not feeling it, I’ll step away, play some video games or watch TV or go for a walk and then come back fresh and get back to work!! As long as I hit my deadline, my daily schedule is flexible.
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • I AM! I love them. I’ve always loved story time as a child and in a way, it brings me back to when my parents would read to me. Audiobooks allow you to dive into the world of a good book and amazing characters, hear them come to life with the different voices, etc. and just let your imagination soar. When I’m listening, I can see the world that the narrator is describing. Also, it’s great to keep me entertained while I’m driving, cleaning or going for a walk. I’m a book addict and a total audiophile!
  • What are your favorite and least favorite parts of narrating an audiobook?
    • Hmm. I think my favorite parts of narrating is when I first read the book, make all of my notes and really work on the characters. I also really love emotional stories, where the characters are going through a hard time, some kind of trauma, or whatever and I can dive into what they are feeling. It can be hard emotionally on me as sometimes I’ve had to stop recording because I have to ugly cry for a moment, but it’s so fulfilling to actualize these moments in a hopefully genuine manner that will touch the listener. The best feeling is when the book is complete and gets approved ☺. My least favorite part of narration would be if I have to edit/master my own book. That is a very tedious process and whenever I can afford to high a professional engineer I jump at the chance. (plus, they do a way better job than I do so they are worth every penny!)
  • What would you say are your strongest narration abilities?
    • Wow. That’s a hard question. I think for me, really getting into the mindset of a character, especially an angst-y young adult character and bringing them to life in a believable way is something I feel confident with.
  • Is there a particular genre you feel unsuited for? Have you ever declined a project because you didn’t think you were right for it?
    • I honestly am happy to narrate any genre, but because I have a youthful voice, Young Adult and Children’s books are a strength for me and what I do mostly. And I love it. I read young adult books for pleasure so it’s pretty awesome to be able to narrate them! I have declined a few projects because I didn’t feel I was right for it. And often times, I’d submit other narrators that I thought would be better suited for the book.

The Transcend Time Saga Giveaway: $20 Amazon Gift Card

Remembrance, Book 1

Oct. 22nd:
The Audiobookworm

Loves Great Reads
Lisa Loves Literature

Oct. 23rd:
AudioSpy
The Writing Train
Lilly’s Book World
Hall Ways Blog

Oct. 24th:
Jazzy Book Reviews

Oct. 25th:
Literature Approved
Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews

Oct. 26th:
Haddie’s Haven
It’s Novel to Me
The Book Junkie Reads . . .

Oct. 27th:
Chapter Break
Here’s to Happy Endings

Oct. 28th:
The Book Addict’s Reviews
Ginger Mom & the Kindle Quest
My Creatively Random Life

Vengeance, Book 1.5

Oct. 29th:
The Audiobookworm

Haddie’s Haven
Lisa Loves Literature
Lilly’s Book World
Jazzy Book Reviews

Oct. 30th:
AudioSpy
The Writing Train
Chapter Break
Here’s to Happy Endings
The Book Junkie Reads . . .
Hall Ways Blog

Oct. 31st:
The Book Addict’s Reviews
Literature Approved
Ginger Mom & the Kindle Quest
My Creatively Random Life

Timeless, Book 2

Nov. 1st:
The Audiobookworm

AudioSpy
The Writing Train

Nov. 2nd:
Lisa Loves Literature

Nov. 3rd:
Lilly’s Book World
The Book Junkie Reads . . .

Nov. 4th:
Up ‘Til Dawn Book Blog

Nov. 5th:
Haddie’s Haven
Jazzy Book Reviews

Nov. 6th:
The Book Addict’s Reviews
Literature Approved
Chapter Break
Here’s to Happy Endings
Hall Ways Blog

Nov. 7th:
Ginger Mom & the Kindle Quest
My Creatively Random Life

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