Shebooks, and a Review of Mating Calls, by Jessica Anya Blau

My Kindle is the old-fashioned kind. It’s the version with the keyboard, the one that doesn’t do much more than its original purpose of being an e-reader.

After a bit of flirtation with the idea of divorcing my device for a Kindle Fire, I’m content with it because it meets my needs – which is for me to have something available to read whenever the opportunity strikes.

But here’s the thing. As a reader, I often find myself with pockets of time when I don’t feel like starting a novel or continuing with one. I’m talking about during my lunch hour, or the 45 minutes before falling asleep, or waiting for a child at an appointment or … whatever. You want something short and quick, yet you want to feel your time wasn’t wasted on fluff.

At least I do.

That’s where Shebooks come in. According to their website, “Shebooks is the new e-book publisher of great short stories by women, for women. We publish short memoirs, fiction, essays, and long-form journalism by some of the best writers in the United States and beyond, both well-known and yet to be discovered. Each Shebook is between the length of a magazine article and a book—long enough to immerse yourself for a plane ride, or a good read before bed.”

I love this concept, and I think that this will resonate with a lot of busy women. It’s exactly what I had in mind when I published my short-short story, “Extractions” on Amazon. I wanted to write something that could be read quickly, while waiting for the dentist or therapist, in the pick up line at school, etc. (And because, well, sometimes I like to bury myself in a book and not talk to anyone in such situations, you know?) 

Several titles are available now each for $2.99, and plans are in the works to launch a subscription service this spring. Intrigued, I decided to give it a try.

My first Shebooks download (actually courtesy of NetGalley) was the very fun and highly entertaining Mating Calls by Jessica Anya Blau, author of The Wonder Bread Summer, Drinking Closer to Home, and The Summer of Naked Swim Parties. I had heard of Ms. Blau previously, but hadn’t read her work. 

Mating Calls

Mating Calls consists of two short stories, “The Problem with Lexie” and “No. Seven,” both of which I really liked and read while waiting for my daughter at gymnastics practice last Monday. (See what I did there?) In “The Problem with Lexie,” this chick – that would be Lexie – is a high school guidance counselor having an affair with the father of one of her students. Her life is a bit out of control, to say the least. She’s one hell of a hot mess, sinking into a Klonopin and alcohol-induced spiral. 

The thing is, we all know that person like Lexie – or were on the cusp of being her at one time – which makes “The Problem with Lexie” so relatable.

Flashbacks to high school resurface in the second story, “No. Seven,” when now-grown up Zandra runs into someone she once knew intimately. The reasons why are excruciatingly sad, but how she eventually handles the situation is brilliant.  Still, our grown-up hearts break for what teenage Zandra doesn’t know and give a standing ovation for what grown-up Zandra does. We remember our own teasing and our own mortifying moments of wannabe acceptance and struggles of insecurity, and we have our own kick-ass moments, if only in our mind.

These were escapism stories, fiction that took my mind off of the worries of the day and week. Jessica Anya Blau’s writing was-whip-smart-fast and kept me grinning to myself, living vicariously through Lexie in particular while the other moms at gymnastics practice chased around after toddlers and sippy cups. (I don’t miss those days.)

All this for $2.99.

As I said, I’m excited about this idea and to see where this goes. I have a few other Shebooks on my Kindle and am looking forward to several others that are expected shortly. To learn more, visit

Aside from receiving a free download of an e-book from NetGalley, I was not compensated for this post. I’m just a happy supporter. 



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  1. Pingback: The Sunday Salon: January Reading Wrap-Up | melissa firman

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