No surprise here….

Well, as my luck would have it, the adapter that I received from Amazon was defective. I can’t create without a real keyboard so now I have to deal with the process of returning the adapter and waiting for a replacement which could take two weeks after they recieve the defective item. And since it comes from a bulk seller I have a 50\50 shot of getting another defective adapter. More updates to follow as I know more.

Remember me?

Hi, everyone. Sorry for my extended hiatus. I was going through a lot around the time of my last post. Its all a whole bunch of stuff that I don’t want to get into on the internet; so we’ll just say that I wanted to simplify my life and assume the role of a regular guy. After a while I started to really enjoy it, and just never got back into writing. Then I met a wonderful woman who just made everything in my life awesome, and then we had a child last September, then I went for an extended period of time without a computer, and then that brings us to now. I recently got a tablet, and a keyboard for it. I’m hoping to be able to make posts more often, write some more stories, and eventually start podcasting again. That’s all I have tine for at the moment. More posts to follow.

Coming soon, to a magazine stand near you

Issue five of Line Zero will be featuring another one of my reviews in print. This one is 6 whole pages written by me about a really awesome dude named Beefy. Check out the mag when it hits the shelves, until then; here’s a sneak peek of my article:

Note: The following review featured in this post is from a draft from before the editors had a look at my submission. Overlook any errors.

Everything Is Better With Sprinkles
A review of Beefy’s album “With Sprinkles”
Eldon K.R.

When you think of the word “Beefy” music isn’t one of the first things you think of, especially when you live as close to a Taco Bell as I do, unless you’re really keen on the Nerdcore scene. In that case you might say, “Oh yeah, I love that guy!”; but more often than not you’ll get an answer regarding burritos.

In a previous review we discussed Chiptune, a feel good offshoot of alt-rock that incorporates nostalgic beeps and boops alongside guitar riffs and drum kicks. Today, for the uninitiated, we’ll learn about Nerdcore; a small yet fast growing offshoot of hip-hop that mixes traditional rap tracks with chip-tune influence that criss-crosses your standard fare quick-tongued lyricist flows with nerdy pop culture references guaranteed to build up your geek-cred.

One of the many talented artists that’s been on the scene since Nerdcore’s conception is Beef Thompson, commonly known by friends and koopa-troopas alike as Beefy. He’s released several albums (most of them are free), but his most recent is With Sprinkles, an amazing album that showcases his volatile skills as a lyricist as well as his encyclopedic knowledge on all things geeky. I really like Beefy’s music because not only do I nostalgia over the nerdy references, but nearly all the beats on his tracks are well-blended and highly instrumental and hearken back to the flavor of hip-hop I used to listen to back in the mid 90s and early 00s. I honestly think that some of his beats wouldn’t be out-of-place on a Tupac album. You know… if Tupac carried a Gameboy and many-sided dice instead of a gun.

The album’s tracks vary in topics from playing Street Fighter and rolling character sheets to working up the courage to ask out the cute girl who works at Gamestop, and stuffed to the gills with lyrical magnificence. Beefy’s cadence and wordplay in his flows really blend and weave well with the beats, which is a good change of pace from the standard rap-in-a-can that’s produced by a majority of hip-hop artists these days, and he’s definitely ahead of the curve in how he doesn’t mutilate his tracks with auto-tune, which is a big plus.

In short, Beefy’s got the beats that will make other drivers bob their heads at the intersection, with enough flows, wordplay, and geeky references to make you the coolest kid at the rejects table in the lunch room; unless you’re sitting next to that kid who eats paste.

I was actually able to get in touch with Beefy for this article, this is what he had to say about his album, and Nerdcore in general:

Eldon KR: To start, why don’t you tell the lovely readers of LZ who you are and what it is that you do.

Beef Thompson: Well my name is Beefy and I make a brand of hip-hop music for and about self described geeks called Nerdcore. I’ve beening making music since 2004 in the Northwest, but it’s only been pretty good for the last couple of years.

EKR: See, now you’re selling yourself short. I think your fans would disagree with that statement. For those who don’t know, what’s Nerdcore?

BT: Nerdcore is a subgenre of hip-hop for people who enjoy pop culture and can relate to the geek mentality and not getting the girl. If mainstream rap is for winners, nerdcore is for the underdogs.

EKR: And what are your songs in particular about in comparison to the rest of the subgenre?

BT: I tend to write songs with feeling and emotion. Some nerd rappers just list references of things they enjoy and that works for them, but I like to make my music personal or to take a concept based on a pop culture item and rap from that perspective. I also write a lot of songs about girls because that is every songwriter’s job.

EKR: What would you say makes Nerdcore Nerdcore? Is it the beats, the words, both? Could one rap about Sonic, Mario, or Warcraft over a traditional hip-hop beat and have the same effect, or is it the beeps and boops of 8-bit with nerd verbiage on top that completes the package?

BT: Nerdcore is still so new that every musican and every fan may give a different answer. I think nerdcore is more about the perspective of the performance moreso than the way their music is constructed. I’ve definetly done tracks with a heavy 8-bit and gamer influence, but I also like to do tracks that sample movie scores or TV theme songs. I’ve also rapped about popular sidekicks over a hard rap beat. So we’re for sure not trying to peg ourselves as “rappers who only rap over chiptune music.” The best in nerdcore have a wide range of topics and musical styling and that is what I would like to accomplish as well

EKR: What did you do before Nerdcore, what made you decide to do it, and how did you make the transition?

BT: I started rapping back in middle school and in those days all I heard was the late 90s dirty south stuff and some East Coasters like Biggie so I thought that was all hip-hop was. So I’d write like them but it was so souless because that wasn’t me at all. I could never perform these songs in front of people I knew because I would be called out for being a major phoney. Then in highschool I heard Fette’s Vette by mc chris and that opened me up to the notion that you can write a good rap song that has humor without being a joke. You don’t have to write about violence towards people but you can for sure rap about wanting to drop kick your xbox when it red rings on you. And as a high school kid that was a huge discovery for me. And since then I’ve been writing music that was honest to my experiences and I’ve been able to find a lot of really amazing fans who seem to feel the same way that I do about geek life

EKR: We’ve already established that Nerdcore isn’t about guns, loose women, or crack. So how do Nerdcore artists settle their disputes since drive-bys are out of the question? Nerf guns? Slap fights?

BT: Nerdcore disputes only end when they meet face to face. Otherwise they just flame each other for an eternity because we’re all net nerd trolls deep down on the inside. but when faced with real life confrontation, we always come down on the side of friendship. I’ve yet to hear of any physical scuffle within the nerdcore ranks. Marriages have ended and I didn’t hear about so much as a black eye

EKR: Marriages?

BT: Nerdcore is full of drama

EKR: How’s that?

BT: When we started out we were this small yet close community. But at the same time we were all internet strangers so there were a lot of people fanning flames and excalating drama, myself included sadly. But now that we’ve grown in numbers and more and more people are going on the road and doing shows like Nerdapalooza together, a lot of the online beef has been put to rest. but there are still the instances of real life drama going down

EKR: How well were you recieved when you started out, and what’s your take on folks who still think that Nerdcore is a joke and doesn’t take the genre seriously. What’s your advice on how to handle the criticism?

BT: I was well received by the few nerdcore fans there were when I started. I got into it relatively early on and I’ve been able to grow that fanbase. I feel that people who judge nerdcore poorly do so based on a lot of the very early music we were making. A new listener may also listen to someone’s 2nd ever demo and assume that all nerdcore is just like that. So there is a lot of criticism we deserve, but I feel that overall the musicians who are working hard are putting out a quality product I’m proud to be associated with

EKR: How often do you do shows? And are you able to do tech support for your fans after shows?

BT: I was doing regular gigs in Northwest for a few years, but now I work and go to school and help raise a 4 year old, so going out and doing shows is a rare event for me these days. But then I remember that the nerdcore rappers who are on tour these days all finished their schooling before they started putting on albums, so I just did things a little out of order. As for tech support, it depends of how messed their system is. I could possibly help with an iphone though. Give em advice on final boss battles

EKR: What occupies your time when you’re not rolling doubles, or putting sprinkles on things? Do you traverse pipes in search of mushrooms?

BT: I spend a good chunk of time watching tv shows and movies, or what I call “research.” Recently I’ve been playing a lot of Team Fortress 2 but now that school is in full swing and I’ve got a full time job it is becoming difficult to get my TF2 time in. With a 4 year old girl around I have a lot more tea parties than a lot of other rappers

EKR: So what does a Nerdcore artist do to keep the server bill paid, does your schooling have any relevance to what you rhyme about?

BT: My schooling is actually the complete opposite of musical pursuits. I’m going to school to become an American Sign Language interpreter at the moment. And for dollars I work with people with developmental disabilities. So basically I’m a lot like P. Diddy and Jay-Z, slight differences

EKR: How does the creative proccess for your music start, where does it go from there? Where do you find your inspiration, and how do you motivate yourself to throw lyrics around instead of reaching for the sticks?

BT: Sometimes it’s a struggle. Sometimes I’ll have an idea in my head for years and just can’t find the right way to get it onto the paper. Other times I’ll hear the beat and it’ll inspire a track I write and record that night. So it really depends. It helps to be in the right mindset and to be in a good mood, otherwise my tracks just get mopey and depressing. When I’m doing grammar club tracks with shael he’ll come up with a concept or even just a chorus, and I write around what he’s already produced, and I think I like that collab process the most

EKR: Speaking of collabs in hip-hop in general, where do you think that all comes from? You see a lot more collaboration among rappers than in any other genre.

BT: We’re a family. Starting out the public thought we were a gimmick and established rap artists were keeping us away with 10 foot poles. We’ve all come up doing shows together or seeing each other at cons. So it’s only natual for us to hop on each others tracks. Some of my favorite musical acts are nerdcore artists and I’m honored when they wanna work with me

EKR: Where does the name Beefy come from?

BT: I’m a big guy. When I was a kid and I joined my first forum I posted a pic and some dude took the image and turned into a rap album and called me MC Beefy B and the title was something about how I like to eat food. I was not impressed with the insult, but I did enjoy the name beefy and it kind of stuck. Now even my mom calls me Beefy

EKR: And where do you get the ideas for the naming convention behind your albums? Whitesican, Rolling Doubles, With Sprinkles, The Adventures of BT, etc.

BT: Usually just inside jokes or nerd references. With sprinkles came from our household motto that everything is better with sprinkles and i liked the idea of the cover says “Beefy With Sprinkles.” Rolling Doubles refers to my song table top and the dope feeling you get when you get to roll again. And the Adventures of BT started as a way to label my free albums. If it’s an adventure of BT, it’s always a free adventure!

EKR: What advice would you have to offer for fledgling Nerdcore artists just starting out? Is there a Nerdcore primer of sorts? Or is it one of those “How I mine for fish” kind of things where if you ask, you don’t need to know?

BT: Make music. Make a million tracks. Make a song, then make another one. then one more for good measure. You’re only going to get good with practice. there is a lot of growing pains with music, especially hip-hop because it’s a lot harder to piece together bars in a way that is both pleasing to the ear and within your skill set to perform

Contrary to the name, their songs aren’t about Zombie Romany – A review of the music of Gypsy Revival

The following article and interview is being published in issue number three of Line Zero. You should consider getting a subscription. Its a pretty bitchin’ publication.

As I stated in my previous review it’s only every once in a great while that I fall in love with the music of a particular band and wonder why the rest of the world isn’t already humming along with me. The bands I feel this way about are few and far between. And it usually happens completely by accident. This review highlights just one such occasion. Last summer my mother, a family friend, and myself all piled into the car and drove to Indiana Beach for her company picnic. Roller coasters, water slides, a free meal; I was in. But by the end of the day after spending several hours under the sun, and getting thrown around by roller coasters I was tired, starting to get a little sore, and ready to call it a day. As the sun started to fade beneath the landscape we ducked into one of the bars for a bite to eat before making the long trip back home. As I reached for my wallet to show proof of ID before being served a drink I began to hear the stirrings of music that makes me think of cross country journeys and missing the person you love. The name of the band on stage was Gypsy Revival, and the more I watched them play; the more I was tapping my toes, the more I felt the urge to get up and dance and clap my hands. The sheer talent of these musicians and their charismatic stage presence was flat-out contagious. While they performed several flawless covers; it was their performance of their own material that sold me so completely. Anybody can listen to Gypsy Revival’s music and find something to like, something to relate to; it’s not hard to resist the urge to sing along. The EP that I bought that night is quickly working it’s way into being the most played album in my collection. The lyrics, and even the tune of the music in their songs makes me think of optimism, their songs remind me of hope. That even if you’re down on your luck and the deck is stacked against you there are still good things to come. I had a blast, I had more drinks that night than I’ve ever had any time I’ve visited a bar just so I could stay put and listen to them playing longer. Though I don’t remember a whole lot after the first few rounds of drinks, their music stuck with me. And what turned into a quick meal before the road turned into being the last four people in the amusement park after they closed. Davey Allen, Gypsy Revival’s front-man was kind enough to take time out of his full day of being awesome to answer a few questions for me:

ELDON KR: How ’bout you talk about yourself and your band mates for a little bit.

DAVEY: Well I (Davey) was born into a Tennessean family. True southerners with a love for moonshine mountain music and sense to wash it down with the sweet gospel music of Sunday hymns.

Mike Sanson (drummer) is originally from Perth, Australia but immigrated to the United States at a very young age. Very little of his Aussie accent remains and he considers himself a life-long resident of these great United States of America.

Jesse Langebartels’ (guitar) first taste of music came from his father’s guitar playing. Jesse was able to manufacture these sounds into playing of his own. Later, he truly cut his teeth on honky – tonk and blues music, channeling such greats as Albert King, Duane Allman, and Allen Collins.

EKR: How did the band form, and how long have you dudes been rocking Indiana?

DA: Mike and I have been playing together for more than a decade. We were introduced to Jesse through a mutual friend/musician. Jesse recruited me to play bass with a band he was helping along, Rodney James Band. That venture soon died out but the wheels that would later start Gypsy Revival were put into motion. Jesse briefly joined Mike and I’s band, Davey and the Chorus Caravan. When our bass player moved to Memphis we collectively decided that a fresh start was needed, and thus Gypsy Revival was born. Since then we have been playing around the Midwest, going on three years now. We’ve played in such cities as Cincinnati, St. Louis, Kansas City, Lexington, Chicago, Nashville, and of course Indianapolis.

EKR: What does the band do when you guys aren’t rocking out? Are there day jobs? Daring daylight bank heists? Destruction of small villages?

DA: We all work as aid workers for the UN Envoy to the Midwest.

EKR: How many shows do you do in a week?

DA: We play anywhere from 2 to 5 shows in a week. We’d prefer seven.

EKR: How does the creative process for your music start, and where does it go from there?

DA: Our creative process mainly comes from whiskey and left-handed cigarettes. But listening to certain music puts me in the mood to write. Artists such as John Prine, Cole Porter, Tom Waits, Townes Van Zant, and Robert Allen Zimmerman are particularly inspiring. I think changing your environment really helps. Whether it is moving the piano to the other side of the room or writing in a notebook at a bar till the wee hours of the morning, changing your perspective is a must.

EKR: Where do you find inspiration for your music? Do you get random ideas for verses in the shower? Are the songs based on events in your life, or do you throw a bunch of word magnets in to a hat and fling it at the fridge?

DA: Mainly I find inspiration from what I see on a day-to-day basis. I try to take very specific people and events and then make their edges blurry enough so that they’re accessible to the listener. The best songs, the songs that are timeless, were once very time-specific.

EKR: Does the band have a bat cave or a fortress of solitude or a magic basement, or is it just wherever you guys can crack a window to let the smoke out?

DA: We have a rarely used lake cottage that produces our best work. Water is calming and inspirational.

EKR: What would you say the theme is in most of your songs?

DA: The human condition. Our music is at its best when it is spontaneous. Much like our music, life is unpredictable and you never know what cards you’ll be dealt. So folks deal with this instability with numerous outlets, which make up the majority of our songs’ “themes”. Whether it’s love won and lost, or a wine-o suppressing his life’s faux pas writing about the human experience is very rewarding. You can create or recount history with a simple pen stroke. (Or keystroke .. my best writing is done with an old-time typewriter)

EKR: How did you get the name Gypsy Revival?

DA: I’ve always been fascinated by the “gypsy” lifestyle. The reference doesn’t encompass all gypsies (gypsy as an ethnicity), but specifically the nomadic gypsies. I’m interested in cultures that continually move from location to location. Whether by choice or necessity due to persecution or lack of resources, the family on the road gives a new idea to “home”. We’re trying to channel that open-road mentality in our music. The world is our oyster.

EKR: Are there any talks for a record deal or are you guys going the independent route?

DA: We like independence. The current state of the established record company is in decline. The mass produced and distributed compact disc is singing its swan song. Most of the online resources a signed band has we also have. Aside from capital and more industry connections we have many opportunities your typical signed band does.

EKR: What’s the hardest part in what you guys do? Is is the creative process, the traveling, booking shows, etc?
DA: Jesse books the majority of our shows so he’d probably say, “booking the shows.” But for myself it is the challenge of being different. There are literally thousands of bands that are trying to do something similar to what we’re doing and setting yourself apart can be difficult. In the age of the sound-byte you have 30 seconds (sometimes less) to either win someone over or turn him or her away. So it makes it hard to be memorable to someone, especially when it is so saturated. Truly, I think we do an OK job but I can never let myself fully believe that for fear we might start to the same routine over and over.

EKR: What advice do you have to offer for groups of creative individuals who want to start playing music in smokey amusement park bars?

DA: For that specifically it helps to fuck the bartender. But in general there’s always a balance between artistic wants and basic business needs. A good question to ask is, “is what we’re doing making someone money?” While no one wants to compromise their artistic values, if you want continued opportunities you have to at least “peek into the front office,” so to speak. It doesn’t matter how good you are, if you’re not putting money in the pockets of club owners right down to the bar staff don’t expect to come back. And on the other hand if you suck as a band and aren’t original don’t expect anyone (beyond your girlfriends and mothers) to come to your shows. A balance.

Not dead

As much as I’m sure there’s a good number of people out there wishing that I was, I’m not dead. I’ve just been busy. In week five of a twelve week quarter I had my server go down and it rendered me unable to do some school work that was rather crucial to my final grade. I wasn’t able to get the part to fix the server until week nine. So I’ve been pretty swamped trying to catch up on school work in some classes, and trying to stay on top of it in others. Luckily I passed, and since I passed I won’t have my financial aid revoked; which means that I still get to be a college student. Hooray for me.

I turned twenty-three last month, and one of my gifts was a fancy little netbook. It’s easy to carry around, and the keys make these nifty little tapping sounds when I type so I’ve been doing a bit more writing. I took on a few different projects over the last couple of weeks, but with trying to catch up and finals last week I really didn’t put a whole bunch of time into working on them.

I’ve got another album review scheduled to appear in the next issue of Line Zero. It’s going to be on
Gypsy Revival
, a band that I met when I was at Indiana Beach last summer. They’re pretty bitchin’ so give them a listen and be sure to check out the next issue of LZ for a review of their EP and a text interview with the band.

I’ve also started writing a new short story for what I’ve started calling the Something and Silver Bullets short stories. It’s the third installment. The second one was never published anywhere due to the fact that I wasn’t really satisfied with it, and it needs a lot of revising. I still haven’t finished the one I’m working on yet. Every time I sit down to finish it I find myself staring down at my keyboard a few hours later with a whole bunch more words and I’m still not done. This is my longest short story yet, I’m pretty satisfied with it so far, and after I’ve sent it out to some beta readers I’ll polish it up and you’ll see it on the blog. Just so you know however, the S&S shorts aren’t really arranged in any particular order. The first two are in chronological order, but I have a feeling that a lot of stuff happened between that last story and this one, so for future reference; the stories don’t have any particular order to them, just whenever I get an idea that I can write into the universe I use it. If I ever write enough of these things for an anthology I’ll figure out what order they all go in, but until then; I’m not going to worry about it.

Aside from that short story and my review for LZ I’m planning on either writing or submitting old shorts to Flagship, and Abattoir. My good buddy and sometimes nemesis Scott Roche Has a hand in Flying Island Press and its imprints so I’m going to try my hand at submitting things there.

Scott also slid me a beta copy of his newest book to read through so I’ll be writing a review for that, and you’ll find it on this blog as well as other places around the neterwebz sometime in mid April.

I’m pretty sure I’ve got everything covered. I just recently set up a profile over at Smashwords. I haven’t filled out any of the information or uploaded any of my work yet, but you can keep checking back and I’ll post up on the blog when something is available there just in case you feel like giving me money.

That’s really all I have to say for now, I hope everybody is having a good week so far and I’ll keep updating about my various irons in the fire.

Writerly Update: Publication

Wow, I normally know what I’m going to write before I start these blog posts, and I was going to go with the post title and just roll with it but I’m still pretty shocked and thoroughly stoked about the news. I mean, I’ve known about this for a few weeks but I never actually got around to posting it or actually telling many people. But yeah, I’m getting published. I wrote a music review about I Fight Dragons for the independent magazine Line Zero and it’s been accepted to run in their upcoming issue. Check their website for more details, and maybe buy a subscription; it’s a pretty sweet publication. I owe a big thank you to Renda Dodge, without her none of this would be possible. You know, while you’re checking out links and contemplating buying stuff you should check out her book. It’s pretty sweet and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Have a Kindle? She’s got you covered there, too.

“Go fuck yourselves, broke gamers.”

Well, that’s essentially what EA Sports should have said with their press release.

Anyone else paying attention to EA Sports’ decision to pair their games with a one-time online code for their titles to deter the used games buyers? Activision and THQ are said to follow this trend. I’m not much of a sports gamer, but if this picks up in speed it’s going to happen with a whole lot more titles in different genres. Not all, but a good percentage of the games in my collection I got at a pawn shop so this trend could affect me.

I don’t see why they’re getting pissed off at people who buy used games to even consider going this far. It’s not like the local pawn store or Gamestop bargain bin is taking money out of these guys pockets. The way I always understood how it worked was that the company manufactures a whole bunch of games and retail outlets pay them for the games and the outlet sells them to the customer and the customer takes it home and enjoys it. I could be wrong, but in the event that I’m right I don’t see where EA is losing any money in the used games market. And it’s not really as if they will make more money if they try to deter people from buying their products used. The only way they’d lose any money is if they were an indie developer, and lets face it, EA is way too big to be an indie developer.

EA basically saying ‘No DLC for you’ to people who buy used games would be the same thing as Doubleday Books telling someone who got a Koontz novel from Half Price Books, or a Laurell K. Hamilton novel from the library to go eat a dick. It would be the same thing if I went down to Motorama and bought a used car and the people at Ford leaving a flaming bag of dog shit on my doorstep.

A really good way to turn this around and make people more enthusiastic about buying games off of the shelves come release day would be to stop expecting us to pay sixty dollars for a title that can be beaten in less than a day. It’s become a constant trend lately for game developers to spend all of their time and resources churning out all different kind of action/adventure titles that have a total of eight hours of gameplay and then you can either dive into sub-par multiplayer or just twiddle your thumbs and hope for DLC. These titles are a dime a dozen. The Modern Warfare franchise, Halo 3: ODST, Alan Wake, Wet, Mirror’s Edge; they all might be great games. They all might be very entertaining and innovative and tell a great story or have a very immersive gameplay experience, but for a sixty dollar sticker price per disc; to me it doesn’t feel like I’m getting my money’s worth.

The games on my shelf are games that I can throw in to the xbox time and time again and not get bored, whether the title boasts hours upon hours of gameplay or if I can start over each time and not see the same thing twice. That is my own personal meter stick when I’m standing in front of the giant illuminated glass case in the walmart electronics section. That’s how I decide what games I spend my money on and which ones I just rent or borrow. Games like Red Dead Redemption, Splinter Cell: Conviction, Fable 2, Alone In The Dark, Saints Row 2, GTA4.

I can put any one of those discs in my xbox on any given day and spend the whole day playing a single game without even touching the multiplayer or DLC and have a days worth of entertainment long after I’ve gotten sixty dollars worth of enjoyment out of the game, whether I’ve hog-tied one of the saloons hookers and throw her on the railroad tracks, or run from the Stillwater Police in a high speed chase with a hostage in my vehicle, I can do that shit all day and then the next day do something completely different in the same game and still be entertained. Or I can throw a different game into the console and stalk the shadows as Sam Fisher or cover bullets in gasoline and set things on fire when I shoot them in Alone In The Dark; I can always expect something new and different every time I play one of the games in my limited collection, and that’s what makes a sixty dollar price point worth it to me. Not how much media attention a game gets before it’s launch or how many different kinds of terrorists I get to shoot in the eight hours I play Modern Warfare 2.


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