Saturday, October 6, 2018

Augiobook blog tour #Beneath @MaureenAMiller @AnAudiobookworm

Author: Maureen A. Miller

Narrator: Brandy Skelly

Length: 8 hours and 12 minutes

Series: Beneath, Book 1

Publisher: Maureen A. Miller

Released: Aug. 17, 2018

Genre: Fantasy; Young Adult



From USA Today best-selling author Maureen A. Miller comes this young adult adventure that will plunge you deep into the Atlantic Ocean.

It was Stella Gullaksen's final break before starting her freshman year at college. Joining her best friend Jill and Jill's family aboard the Starkissed, Stella wakes up to a violent storm that capsizes the boat over a hundred miles off the New Jersey shore.

As the waves pull her under, Stella knows that she is going to die. Instead, an unusual current drags her deep into the underwater canyons of the Atlantic Ocean. Powerless against the raging waters, she is suddenly sucked into a ventilated cave. One by one, Jill and her family also emerge in the sunken cavern. With only a faulty diving flashlight to keep oblivion at bay, Stella and her best friend's brother Colin search the cave in hope of finding a way back to the surface. What they discover, however, is that they are not alone. There are other survivors in this subterranean grotto - survivors spanning decades of maritime disasters.

Will this discovery prove salvation, or have they all been condemned to the same fate? A grim finale at the bottom of the sea? On an alliance forged by friendship and attraction, Stella and Colin battle to escape the danger that lies beneath.
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USA TODAY bestselling author, Maureen A. Miller worked in the software industry for fifteen years. She crawled around plant floors in a hard hat and safety glasses hooking up computers to behemoth manufacturing machines. The job required extensive travel. The best form of escapism during those lengthy airport layovers became writing.

Maureen's first novel, WIDOW'S TALE, earned her a Golden Heart nomination in Romantic Suspense. After that she became hooked to the genre. In fact, she was so hooked she is the founder of the JUST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE website.

Recently, Maureen branched out into the Young Adult Science Fiction market with the popular BEYOND Series. To her it was still Romantic Suspense...just on another planet!

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Narrator Bio


I studied theatre in college, and even participated in storytelling festivals when I was growing up. I'm a practicing attorney, and love to participate in ACX projects to keep my creative side happy and fulfilled. I can perform fiction and non-fiction, in neutral-American or Southern-American accents.

I live in North Carolina with my husband, toddler, and pound puppy. I have a soft spot for romance and I love a good laugh!
Big warning - for those afraid of the big wide ocean, things that go bump in the dark and wondering just what lies in the darkest depths leagues below the surface, this story may have you on edge for a bit.  For the rest, who are slightly claustrophobic and fear dark and enclosed spaces, the rest of the book may be a rough ride.  But for those who tough it out, Beneath may prove to be a challenge worth the effort as Maureen Miller weaves a tale of a family and friend who are capsized in an unsuspecting storm and miraculously survive a slingshot current taking them on a wormhole journey through the depths of the ocean into a land beneath the sea. 

This is not a fairy tale. There are no mermaids and magic dust. Just survivors and lots of secrets. Stella, Jill, Colin and their parents wind up in the odd cobbled together Underworld with its fresh water from the River Styx and the inhabitant who take them under their wings. There is little trust and survival is at stake. Only Stella and Colin seem to be dedicated to the prospect of keeping track of time and finding a way back to the surface however.  Full of intrigue and the first blushes of romance, Beneath strikes a good balance of action and well crafted story with great characters and solid dialogue  

Brandy Skelly does a solid job of narrating with varied tone and inflection to keep the characters unique and interesting.  She also brings great cadence and pace to the story which could have a tendency to flag or roll into melodrama (as it is about teens trapped in a cavern miles below the ocean's surface).  I found it to be very engaging and definitely enjoyed the performance overall.

I give Beneath four chocolate dipped Strawberries and a can of flat coke (you'll have to read to get that joke).  I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Maureen A. Miller. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.


Q&A with Author Maureen A. Miller
  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    • No. If I went into thinking about an audiobook I might have written something resembling a screenplay versus a novel. But a strong narrator has the magic to take any tale and captivate the reader’s ears.
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • I had several auditions, most with seasoned narrators. Yet, listening through the auditions one voice stood out. Brandy Skelly. The main character, Stella, is young and is thrown into a surreal and dangerous situation. Brandy Skelly delivered the drama and incredulity in that initial audition, captivating me.
  • 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?
    • In this whole big country of ours, what are the odds of learning that your narrator lives in the next town? We discussed pronunciations and dialect. For the most part, all characters were from the New York/New Jersey area. Brandy nailed the Long Island accent!
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • My characters always borrow upon people from my past, as remote as the connection my be. Stella Gullaksen, the main character was named after a Swedish girl I went to middle school with.
  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
    • I’m an early morning writer. I can conquer the universe between 6am and 10am. After that my conquests taper off, until sometime around 9pm I am reduced to structured sentences that sound like “Run Spot run.”
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • Audiobooks are the only way I can manage a long drive. If I have to travel far for a book signing or conference, I devour audiobooks along the way. And if the book is not finished by the time I get there, I will circle around a block ten or twenty times until it is complete!
  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
    • The opening sequence. Brandy captures the desperation of the scene perfectly.
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    • When I was a kid our local radio station used to read a scary story every Wednesday night long after my bedtime. I would sneak the radio under my covers and stick the speaker up against my ear so that my parents wouldn’t hear. I loved hearing those Wednesday night stories! Was that cheating, or was I just enjoying being told a tale?
  • How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
    • I started the sequel! Although this book has a certain closure, there is room for more to be told.
  • In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?
    • With a standalone you can pour your heart and soul into one story and not have to worry about leaving anything leftover for the next. There is as much satisfaction for the author to tie up strings as there is for the reader. However, a series lets an author hold on to characters that are near and dear to her heart.
Giveaway
Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card
Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card

Beneath Giveaway: $25 Amazon Gift Card




Oct. 2nd:

Lynn's Romance Enthusiasm

The Book Junkie Reads . . .

What Emma Read Next

Oct. 3rd:

The Bookworm Lodge

Oct. 4th:

Smada's Book Smack

Jazzy Book Reviews

T's Stuff

Writers N Authors

Oct. 5th:

Hall Ways Blog

eBook Addicts

Expression Gal

Oct. 6th:

Guilty Indulgence Bookclub

Book Addict

Oct. 7th:

Buried Under Books

The Book Addict's Reviews

Oct. 8th:

Wonderlandians Books

Lomeraniel


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Thursday, September 27, 2018

Savior by @Rhys_Ford @dreamspinners #REVIEW #ULTIMATEINDULGENCE

Savior, Rhys Ford, Dreamspinner Press
415 Ink #2
A savior lies in the heart of every good man, but sometimes only love can awaken the man inside the savior.

The world’s had it out for San Francisco firefighter Mace Crawford from the moment he was born. Rescued from a horrific home life and dragged through an uncaring foster system, he’s dedicated his life to saving people, including the men he calls his brothers. As second-in-command of their knitted-together clan, Mace guides his younger siblings, helps out at 415 Ink, the family tattoo shop, and most of all, makes sure the brothers don’t discover his darkest secrets.

It’s a lonely life with one big problem—he’s sworn off love, and Rob Claussen, one of 415 Ink’s tattoo artists, has gotten under his skin in the worst way possible.

Mace’s world is too tight, too controlled to let Rob into his life, much less his heart, but the brash Filipino inker is there every time Mace turns around. He can’t let Rob in without shaking the foundations of the life he’s built, but when an evil from his past resurfaces, Mace is forced to choose between protecting his lies and saving the man he’s too scared to love.


Review:
Back in the City by the Bay with the sexy men that work at and own 415 Ink. This time we get Mace, and his story isn't an easy one, but then wouldn't be a Rhys Ford book if it was easy.

Mace is the cocky, hardass firefighter in the family. But that persona is hiding so much hurt and fear that it practically radiates off the page. His back story broke my heart, and seriously made me want to kick some ass.

Rob is such a great balance for Mace. He is strong enough to handle Mace's pain and gentle enough to love the flawed man that stole his heart.

I love going into a Ford book because I know I am not only going to get a beautiful love story but it's going to be filled with heart and humor and family and so many pop culture references that I have to read the book multiple times just to be sure I catch them all.





RATING: 5 Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries. This book was given to us by the author.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Audiobook Blog Tour #Study Aboard @more_than_magic @AnAudioBookworm


Author: Elizabeth Kirke

Narrator: Starla Huchton

Length: 14 hours and 34 minutes

Publisher: Elizabeth Kirke

Released: July 4, 2018

Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy




Jen Maddox is a few days into her summer study-abroad program and has loved every moment on her cruise ship turned college campus. Everyone tells her the experience will change her life, but none of them realize just how right they really are.

One night, Jen goes out on deck and encounters five other students. She knows Charlie from one of her classes, and he’s a funny, friendly, regular guy. Picture-perfect Dani and his gorgeous wife, Mariana, live right down the hall from Jen, and she has seen TS, who’s built like a truck, around the ship, and recognizes the cute but quiet Thomas as well.

Then Jen sees something that isn’t humanly possible. Jen would have thought that it was all a dream if not for the fact that Charlie, Dani, Mariana, TS, and Thomas are making every effort to cover it up. Suddenly, the five of them are everything but normal, and Jen is determined to figure out what they’re hiding.

When she does, her life really does change. Jen expected to spend her summer studying the cultures of Latin America; she never dreamed she’d learn about a magical culture instead.

But Jen’s childhood fantasy come true is about to turn into a nightmare; there’s something on the ship. Something dangerous. Suddenly, everyone on board is threatened by a creature that Jen never even believed existed. Jen and her new friends might be the only people who can stop it!

Now Jen has to learn everything she can about her new world before it kills her. And her friends. And maybe everyone on the entire ship.









Elizabeth Kirke lives with her husband, two young sons, a hound-mix, and two turtles. She wanted to be an author before she even knew what an author was. She used to say that she wanted to be an artist, but that was only because she was too young to write and had to tell stories with pictures instead. She hasn't stopped writing since she learned how. It wasn't long before she dreamed of becoming an author and couldn't be happier now that that dream is a reality.

If she isn't writing, she’s probably doing something involving books, baking, gardening, or yarn.

Like most slightly-nosy, avid readers, Elizabeth can't resist trying to catch a peek at books she sees people reading when out in public to see if she can figure out what it is. While doing just that one day, she realized that it would probably be the coolest-thing-ever if she caught a complete stranger reading one of her books. That's her new dream.

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Narrator Bio


Since debuting her narration skills in 2009, Starla Huchton has lent her voice to many podcasts and audiobook productions. She has read both character parts and main narration for authors such as Tee Morris, Philippa Ballantine, and Lindsay Buroker, and her work spans across both fiction and non-fiction in multiple genres.

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Hurricane Florence did more than derail my end of summer clean-up, she killed my internet.  Many apologies on that front.  To battle the elements is a part of life that most humans just have to live with.  Elizabeth Kirke takes the elements, makes them human and recrafts myth to weave a story that had my running to recharge my batteries to listen long past the time when I should head to bed.

Semester Aboard's title intrigued me.  As a self-confessed nerd who dearly loved her Semester Abroad studies, what could make them even more exciting but the thought of adding expansive travels on top of cultural immersion?  Certainly that was what Jen Maddox signs up for at the urging of her step mom Rachel's insistence that her own Semester Aboard was "a life changing experience".  Somehow, we get the idea fairly quickly that their experiences were vastly different as Jen is introduced into a world of Magics - where Vampires, Werewolves and Mermaids really exist and there are bad and scary things that have to be fought off to ensure the safety of humankind.

Young Adult stories that have that "Scooby Gang" vibe as absolutely my favorites.  I love the clash and play of characters, witty banter, crushes and epic action-adventure.  To say that this story had some world-building issues is valid but there was a lot going on - lots of characters introduced very quickly and with more questions than answers for significant portions of the book.  Once it started to gel, however, it was on fire - quite literally, as Jen chose fire for her first magic spells.  The good guys were great friends who had each other's back and Ms. Kirke does a wonderful job separating them out into vignettes to allow dialogue to help build the story after the midway point which does much to elevate the pace and invest the reader more deeply in all the happenings.  The bad guys are terrifying, with plot twists and surprises that had me actually pulling off the road while driving because I was so entranced in one action-packed fight scene.  The semester does end and leaves the reader with a little let down, as all travelers have experienced when taking a grand adventure, because there is always a desire for "just a little bit more" but knowing that there is more out there is enough to sustain you until that time.

Starla Huchton does an outstanding job narrating this novel - pulling out accents and keeping the story pace and flow moving quite nicely.  There are readers that I find I need to speed up the narration on, particularly for stories over 10 hrs, but I kept this right en pointe as it was quite possibly perfect for the story just as it was.  I will definitely be looking for her in additional listening opportunities.

I give Semester Aboard 4 1/2 Chocolate Dipped Strawberries (and some tacos - they were in Mexico and South America and spent an inordinate amount of time talking about what they were going to eat so I was constantly hungry!)

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




  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    • Never in a million years. When I originally wrote the book I was actually posting it, chapter by chapter, in the Original Works section of a fanfiction website! Back then, ebooks were hardly even a thing. Merely publishing Semester Aboard was a pipe dream and having an audiobook never even crossed my mind. I hardly even expected to be where I am now, with three (plus a short story collection) books in the series and three more on the way. Not to mention having Semester Aboard win an award for Best YA Paranormal!
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • Sheer luck! Starla and I were already Facebook friends thanks to the networking power of the author world. We actually sort-of worked together before, when she made a wand for me. (Actually, she made the top half of a wand to fit onto the bottom half of my existing one. The top broke off and I buried it with my beloved cat, but hated to have a broken wand just sitting around.) Anyway, I posted on Facebook asking my friends if they know any narrators and briefly described what I was looking for. Starla replied and sent a link to books she had already done. I knew she was the perfect fit right away, and the rest is history!
  • 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?
      I gave Starla an absurdly detailed document with pronunciation, bios, and even descriptions and pictures. It was probably above and beyond what she needed, but since she brought it to life, it was worth it! We chatted back and forth a lot for the first couple of chapters, but after she had the characters down I just let her do her thing!
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • Big yes! I was part of the Semester at Sea program back in college. I spent a summer on a cruise ship, operated (at the time) by the University of Virginia. I took college courses with UVA and visiting professors, while touring Latin America on the ship. I strongly encourage college students to do it! That experience inspired this book, in which the main character is a student in the same program. As she navigates magic and vampires, her voyage takes her to the same ports that I visited. While a lot more magic is thrown in, the characters do have many of the same experiences in different countries and on the ship that I did.
  • In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?
    • Interesting question. I think each pro and con play off each other. A con of plotting a series is that you need to plot out multiple books, and come up with character development and arcs that span more than one book. So, the pro of a stand-alone is that you can wrap it all up with a bow. However, it could also reverse! A con of a stand-alone is that you have to keep everything succinct enough to be contained in one book, but exciting enough to keep readers interested. Likewise, a pro of a series is that you can get really in-depth and intricate, and you have room to grow. I think it all depends on your strengths and weaknesses as a writer.
  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
    • I think it all benefits from Starla’s amazing performance. That said, I’ve gotten some negative feedback in the past regarding how slow some of the portions in the ports go. As you just read, they were based on my real experiences, so I think I got a bit too wordy and nostalgic as I describe them. But, Starla brings them to life and you really feel the excitement through the main character’s eyes as she reads. I think it really picks up the dragging parts. She also adds a wonderful sense of urgency to the fight scenes!
  • If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
    • I would head straight to 1797 and visit George Washington. I worked for several years as a historical interpreter on his estate and would love to pop in and see it in its prime. Not to mention catch some time alone with the General to talk to him.
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    • People say that!? Ugh, people will complain about anything for the sake of taking enjoyment away from someone else. 100% disagree. First, there are numerous medical reasons to listen to audiobooks, and that alone should be worth something. Vision impairment, arthritis, dyslexia…The list goes on. Heck, even a nasty migraine that makes opening your eyes torture, but you can’t fall asleep. And who doesn’t want to read a book while stuck in traffic? Why not listen? And, most importantly: people enjoy them. That should be enough. We should be rallying against people who want to censor or limit access to books, not people making them more accessible.
  • What’s next for you?
    • Phew! The very next is Wrought-Iron Roses, the 2nd book in my paranormal romance series, The Curse Collectors. The first book opens with three sisters who inherit their aunt’s antique shop. Upon arrival, they discover that she was a rune-caster, and was in charge of breaking the curses cast upon all of the antiques in her shop. One of the sisters gets cursed, so they have to learn how to cast runes to save her.
      After that, I’m working on the fourth (fifth if you count Danio’s Prelude) book in the More than Magic series! I’m also hoping to get the audio for the next one lined up.
      Lastly, I’m working on the outline for a brand new series! This one is a paranormal cozy mystery series. I’m quite looking forward to writing it.

Jennifer Maddox

  • Height: 5’ 4” and slim
  • Eyes: Blue
  • Hair: Brown
  • Favorite Food: Pizza
  • Favorite Movie: Twilight
  • Birthday: June 17
  • Born: Oregon
  • Occupation: College student
In this book: Jen thinks the only “magical” thing about her summer on a cruise will be the cruise itself, little does she know, some of her new friends are quite a bit more magical. In fact, they aren’t even human. Learning about magic seems like a dream to Jen, but it quickly turns into a nightmare; something is on the ship with them. Something dangerous. Now, the lives of Jen, her new friends, and everyone on the entire ship are threatened by a creature Jen never even believed existed. And it’s up to Jen to stop it.

Thomas Clark

  • Height: 5’ 8” and borderline too thin
  • Eyes: Green
  • Hair: Brown
  • Favorite Food: Teppanyaki
  • Favorite Movie: Journey to the Center of the Earth (the original)
  • Birthday: October 8
  • Born: New York
  • Occupation: Special Agent with the Magical Enforcement and Secrecy (MES) agency
In this book: Taking time off for college is encouraged by MES, although Thomas and his friends are pushing the limits by signing up for a college cruise. Nevertheless, he’s ready for a fun summer of cruising and a three-month break from his job as the Resident Magic Coordinator with MES. In spite of all of his experience welcoming magical beings to town, he’s never seen anything like Jen. He’s never felt this way about anyone either. But, when a dangerous magic sneaks aboard the ship, Thomas knows it’s his duty as a Special Agent to stop it, and the lives of everyone on the ship may depend on what he can, or can’t, do.

Char Smith

  • Height: 5’ 6” and stocky
  • Eyes: Red
  • Hair: Red, orange, and yellow
  • Favorite Food: Anything spicy
  • Favorite Movie: The Shop Around the Corner
  • Birthday: June 7 (shared with twin sister, Callie)
  • Born: Arizona
  • Occupation: MES Agent, Magic-Owned Business Liaison Department
In this book: Charlie is less than thrilled to spend a summer surrounded by water; he’s out of his element, literally. But, as long as the ship doesn’t sink, he supposes he can give it a whirl. With the power of fire at his beck and call, he makes a powerful ally for Jen and the others. But, if he loses control, he could sink the very ship they’re trying to save…

Tethys Conall

  • Height: 6’3” and broad
  • Eyes: Dark brown
  • Hair: brown
  • Favorite Food: Meat
  • Favorite Movie: The Shining
  • Birthday: February 10 (shared with four siblings)
  • Born: Ireland
  • Occupation: MES Senior Field Agent
In this book: The only downsides to spending the summer on a ship, as far as TS is concerned, are his seasickness and monthly problem. A potion for the seasickness is easy enough. As for his other issue… well, he’ll just have to spend full moons in his cabin. Of course, it’s also annoying to speak seven languages and find yourself in a country that doesn’t speak any of them. For a Senior Field Agent, thinking on his toes is exactly what TS excels at. Handling a rogue magic on board should be a piece of cake. Of course, he’s also used to having back-up, weapons, and a wider field to work in.

Danio Pelagos

  • Height: 6’ 4” and lithe
  • Eyes: Blue
  • Hair: Blue
  • Favorite Food: His mother’s cooking, not that he’d admit it
  • Favorite Movie: The cheesier the better
  • Birthday: November 14
  • Born: Off the coast of Greece
  • Occupation: MES Special Agent, Secrecy Breach Cover-Ups
In this book: Prank-loving Dani was, naturally, the mastermind behind pulling some MES strings to get an all expenses paid vacation. The icing on the cake is being on a ship. Had he known the danger lurking, however, he would’ve taken a rain check. Dani’s no stranger to threats on his life, but he prefers to face them without the people he loves along for the ride.

Mariana Bar

  • Height: 5’ 10” or 7’2”
  • Eyes: Blue
  • Hair: Blonde or Green
  • Favorite Food: Fish
  • Favorite Movie: The Little Mermaid
  • Birthday: April 2
  • Born: Maine
  • Occupation: MES Intern
In this book: Mariana is eager to go along on a cruise with her friends, even if her bestie couldn’t make it. She’s ready for sun, sand, and (mostly) the depths of the ocean. There’s plenty of exploring to do with Dani by her side. But take her out of the water, and she’s not nearly experienced enough to take on the creature hunting them. Mariana feels more like a liability than a future MES agent. Nevertheless, she’s ready to do whatever it takes to defend herself and her friends.



Sep. 13th:

T's Stuff

What Emma Read Next

Sep. 14th:

Patriotic Bookaholic

What Is That Book About

The Book Junkie Reads . . .

Sep. 15th:

Turning Another Page

Sep. 16th:

Smada's Book Smack

Sep. 17th:

Book Addict

Bookworms Corner Blog Spot

Sep. 18th:

Lilly's Book World

The Book Addict's Reviews

Sep. 19th:

Jazzy Book Reviews

Guilty Indulgence Bookclub

Declarations of a Fangirl


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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Savior by @Rhys_Ford @dreamspinners #BLOGTOUR




Well, I want to thank everyone for following the blog tour for 415 Ink: Savior! I’m going to use the same intro for every piece in case someone jumps in midway because that way everyone starts off on the same page. So if you’re joining midway, be sure to backtrack and catch the other posts because we’ll be exploring tattoos. Be sure to catch Savior, a second book in the 415 Ink series, on its release date of September 18!

This has been a crazy series to write and as much as I enjoyed it, it’s always a challenge to bring a fully fleshed character with very real problems to the page. I hope that you read Savior you will fall in love with Mace and be with him on his journey as he in turn falls in love with Rob.

Since the tattoo shop, 415 Ink, is such a central heart of the series, I wanted to talk about tattoo symbolism very briefly because there’s a lot of opinions and cultural attachments to certain tattoos. What could be presented on this tour is just a small sampling of what people believe certain images mean and how they connect to the people who choose to wear them on their skin.

I’m going to say that tattoos are not for everyone but I do have a hard-core cultural association with them so I’m very fond of tattoos. I feel it is a very personal thing and should be taken seriously because you are going to wear it for the rest of your life. But, I also do believe even the tiniest flash tattoo means something to someone and everyone getting ink should be respected for their choices. Someone’s little flower on an ankle could mean their experiment into pushing themselves to fearlessness or capture memory of something they shared with someone. Not every tattoo needs to be huge or an artistic rendering of the Sistine Chapel. But they should have meaning.

I believe a tattoo should be a piece of yourself the inker draws out of your soul and embellishes on your skin. It should rise up from some part of you to realize its existence.

Much like love. And very much like falling in love.



So there’s also giveaway! Enter to win a $20 USD gift certificate to an e-tailer of your choice which can include Dreamspinner, Amazon, Starbucks or any place I can send a gift certificate without having to sacrifice a chicken. Just follow the blog’s contest rules to enter! 

Comment with your email address to win!!



So let’s talk about ink.







Japanese Tattoos – Fish & Flowers

Koi Tattoos


Let’s start with the Koi, which is the Japanese word for carp, but you’re probably more familiar with seeing the brightly painted giant goldfish that fill many ponds in Japanese and Chinese gardens around the world.



Koi are hardy fish that can survive and thrive against some heavy obstacles. They swim up stream and up waterfalls to get where they want. If they reach the Dragon gate, they will transform into dragons and reach the heavens.



The tales of the strength of Koi lead many people, who have also lived through some adversity, to get a Koi tattoo. It is their symbol of power, of perseverance, and determination to reach their goals and thrive.



Or you might just admire the beauty of the Koi.



If the Koi is swimming upstream, you have yet to achieve your goal, but you are going for it. If it’s swimming downstream, head down, you’ve made it through. You’re a winner, a survivor, and you’re ready to enjoy a better life. As with roses, Koi tattoos have different meanings according to the color of the fish.



Red Koi – represent love and passion, the feelings you have for someone you deeply love and want to honor them. It’s a subtle promise to that individual without inking their name on your body.



Black Koi – represent accomplishments against daunting odds. You’ve been hit hard, but you got back up. You didn’t give up. I made it. You’re a success. No one can take that away from you either.



Blue Koi – represents relationships and reproduction. If it’s swimming upward, you’re fighting to keep your relationship or to begin a family. If it’s swimming down, you’ve given up on your partnerships and hope for a family.



Lotus blossoms are frequently included in Koi tattoos just as real lotus flowers are planted in the ponds they live in. The flowers bring beauty to murky waters and can represent the purity of the person wearing the ink.



Yin and Yang is also often part of a Koi design, with either the symbol itself of a pair of fish in contrasting colors representing balance.



Japanese Flowers

Ume – Plum blossoms are the first flower to bloom each year in February when it’s still winter, it’s a symbol of perseverance, strength, and of the arrival of spring. Often pictured as red, though the real flowers range from white to pale rose to a lush pink.



Sakura – March brings cherry blossoms around the world. It represents the coming of spring and the rebirth of the world from the cold of winter. In a tattoo it is a symbol of renewal. The flower is often tattooed being carried along by wind or water to show the change of seasons.



Chrysanthemum – September’s flower, the symbol of the throne of Japan. This flower is said to represent longevity and perfection.



Lotus - The lotus is a mystical and beautiful that is used to represent Buddhism is several different countries. The flowers can be inked in different colors for various reasons. It symbolizes rising toward enlightenment.








Savior by Rhys Ford


Published by Dreamspinner Press. Coming September 18, 2019


A savior lies in the heart of every good man but sometimes only love can awaken the man inside a savior.

The world’s had it out for San Francisco firefighter Mace Crawford from the moment he was born. Rescued from a horrific home life and dragged through an uncaring foster system, he’s dedicated his life to saving people, including the men he calls his brothers. As second-in-command of their knitted-together clan, Mace guides his younger siblings, helps out at 415 Ink, the family tattoo shop, and most of all, makes sure the brothers don’t discover his darkest secrets.

It’s a lonely life with one big problem—he’s sworn off love and Rob Claussen, one of 415 Ink’s tattoo artists, has gotten under his skin in the worst way possible.

Mace’s world is too tight, too controlled to let Rob into his life — much less his heart — but the brash, Filipino inker is there every time Mace turns around. He can’t let Rob in without shaking the foundations of the life he’s built, but when an evil from his past resurfaces, Mace is forced to choose between protecting his lies or saving the man he’s too scared to love.




Dreamspinner Press Link: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/savior-by-rhys-ford-9856-b

Amazon Global Link: mybook.to/SaviorAmazonLink 













Rhys Ford is an award-winning author with several long-running LGBT+ mystery, thriller, paranormal, and urban fantasy series and is a two-time LAMBDA finalist with her Murder and Mayhem novels. She is also a 2017 Gold and Silver Medal winner in the Florida Authors and Publishers President’s Book Awards for her novels Ink and Shadows and Hanging the Stars. She is published by Dreamspinner Press and DSP Publications.

She’s also quite skeptical about bios without a dash of something personal and really, who doesn’t mention their cats, dog and cars in a bio? She shares the house with Harley, a grey tuxedo with a flower on her face, Badger, a disgruntled alley cat who isn’t sure living inside is a step up the social ladder as well as a ginger cairn terrorist named Gus. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird and enjoys murdering make-believe people.




Rhys can be found at the following locations:

Email: rhysford AT vitaenoir DOT com

Blog: www.rhysford.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/rhys.ford.author

Twitter: @Rhys_Ford

Monday, August 27, 2018

Audiobook Blog Tour #The Secret Chord @AnAudioBookworm @KGuare



Author: Kathryn Guare

Narrator: Wayne Farrell

Length: 10 hours and 26 minutes

Publisher: Kathryn Guare

Series: The Virtuosic Spy, Book 2

Released: Feb. 20, 2018

Genre: Romantic Suspense









Those who love romantic suspense and thrillers with heart have found their new literary crush.

An Irishman on the run. He's left a lot of things behind him...but they're not far enough back.

Conor McBride has lost everything, and if he can't find a way to disappear in a hurry, the next thing he loses could be his life. Running from enemies he's never met and haunted by his own destructive actions, Conor needs a refuge secure enough to hold his secrets. A farmhouse inn tucked amidst the green mountains of Vermont seems ideal, but when his past catches up with him, Conor discovers the beautiful young innkeeper has secrets of her own, and hers are more likely to get them both killed.





Author of the award-winning Conor McBride Series, Kathryn Guare’s character-driven novels are all somewhere on the spectrum between romance and suspense, and some are even perfectly balanced between the two. She has a passion for exploring diverse cultures and cuisine, Classical music and all things Celtic, and has a habit of mixing these into her stories along with other topics and enthusiasms that capture her interest. Formerly, as an executive with a global health advocacy organization, she traveled extensively throughout the world. Currently, as a native Vermonter, she hates to leave home during foliage season.

WebsiteTwitterFacebookInstagramPinterest

Narrator Bio



Internationally acclaimed voice actor Wayne Farrell began his professional career at The National Theatre of Ireland, where he met the legendary Irish seanachai Eamon Kelly and became fascinated with the art of storytelling. Using skills learned during this time, Farrell has worked extensively in both documentary and audiobook narration and is widely admired for the rich clarity and versatility of his voice. His credits include award-winning authors such as Donal Ryan, whose debut novel The Spinning Heart won The Guardian’s First Book Award as well as Irish Book of the Year; and New York Times and USA Today bestsellers such as Morgan Rice, author of the fantasy epic The Sorcerer’s Ring.



For those who love a well crafted story with perfectly chosen words, pace and flow, The Secret Chord will strike a tone within you long after the last page.  Kathryn Guare weaves story and characters together like a symphony - intricate, complex and building to a crescendo that will leave the reader a bit breathless.

As a reader who has not read the first in this series (frankly unaware of it being a true series), the complexities of the violin virtuoso turned MI6 agent seeking to save his brother from an international ring of seriously bad guys might have made some of the convoluted plot twists in the beginning a little less cumbersome.  That said, without that knowledge, the truth does out and just tantalizes the reader to continue to delve into the mystery that is Conor McBride.  Kate Fitzpatrick, the unsuspecting Vermont Inn owner, is no shrinking violet and her quiet strength becomes more evident with every challenge thrown at her as she is cast deeper and deeper into the world of intrigue brought on by Conor and his cronies as they tackle the mystery of the millions that went missing in the mission that took his brother's life.  The subtle hints at paranormal ability crop up throughout the story begging the reader to question just how much more is there to the handsome man of mystery?

Wayne Farrell does a brilliant job at narrating this complex story.  He breathes life into each character and moves the storyline along in a manner that seems engaging but not rushed for a book of this length.  There are no gaffs in pronunciation and his subtle brogue is just mesmerizing - keeping me in the car, long past each journey just to catch a little bit more.  

I highly recommend this audiobook - and will definitely be filling in the series with books 1 and 3 both for the story and the narration!  RATING 4.5 Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries!!!

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




  • Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook and how you selected your narrator.
    • I used “ACX”, which is an audiobook platform offered by Amazon to match up authors with narrators. It’s great, because all the technical bits and bobs that I know nothing about are taken care of. All I had to do was upload a script for the auditions and agree on the contract with the narrator to get it all started, then upload an audiobook cover and description for the Audible and iTunes listings. There was a process for giving narrators an opportunity to audition, using the script I’d provided. I was beyond thrilled to have Wayne Farrell agree to take on the work. He’d narrated one of my all-time favorite books (“The Spinning Heart”) and I could hardly believe my luck!
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you? What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    • Yes, I love audiobooks. I once had a job with a 1-hour commute both ways and I went through dozens of audiobooks. I love having someone tell me a story. It can be captivating in a way that’s different from reading it on the page, and I don’t think it’s cheating at all. It’s just a different sort of experience, and I just read a news story that science suggests listening to a book is a more emotional experience than seeing a movie based on it!. There are so many books and so little time! I’m happy to use anything that helps me get through more of them and I always have a paperback and an audiobook going at the same time (Well, not at the same time, but you know what I mean!)
  • Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
    • I’m sure that’s true. Probably books that are strong on plot, action and dialogue work the best, but whatever the genre, the things I find tedious when reading a book are the same things I have trouble with when listening to one. If there is too much exhaustive description of setting, or facts and figures, and too little language that pulls me into the story or subject matter, I start to get impatient. But for me, the narrator is key more than genre. If I am enjoying the voice, and the storytelling skills of the person narrating, I can put up with almost anything else.
  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    • I think I probably had a movie more in mind than the audiobook. Not because I really wanted to see the book made into a movie, but because I could see the movie in my head as I wrote it. Some readers have mentioned that the book feels “cinematic” and they can also easily picture a movie. However, I recently read a news story that scientists believe an audiobook can be a more emotionally involving experience for a reader than seeing a movie based on the book!
  • If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
    • Oh, I’ve had this conversation with so many readers and friends! He’s probably a little too old for the role now, but I’ve always said I’d be happy with Hugh Jackman as Conor. The role he played in the film “The Fountain” struck me as closest to the appearance and personality of Conor. And I think Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) would do a great job as Sedgwick. And for Kate, hmmm, maybe Alexis Bledel?
  • 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?
    • I did provide some brief descriptions of how I viewed the characters, but I thought it best to let the narrator develop his own approach, rather than asking him to adopt an accent or particular vocal style he may not be comfortable with. For me, it was most important that Conor McBride sound authentically Irish, which is why I was determined to have an Irish narrator. There were a few corrections when the UK/Irish pronunciation of a word slipped into an American character’s dialogue, but not often. Wayne has a remarkable range and facility with accents, and by the time I was listening to the chapters he’d already done his own editing and correcting.
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • This book is mostly set in Vermont, and I am a native Vermonter, so there are a lot of settings drawn from my own experience. The setting for the Rembrandt Inn was inspired by my cousin’s gorgeous house in Greensboro, VT, which does overlook a gorge that has a brook running through it. My heritage is Irish, so the scenes in Ireland were also drawn from my experiences visiting the places on the Dingle Peninsula.
  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
    • Well, I have to admit that ever since I wrote the book, I was looking forward to having the romantic chemistry between Kate and Conor brought to life. I almost think hearing it in audio is better than the movie, because it is still the book the way I wrote it rather than an adaptation, and it was really a treat for me to hear!
  • How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
    • Probably with a little “happy dance” and an ice-cold cocktail.
  • Have any of your characters ever appeared in your dreams?
    • Yes, and it was fantastic. I’ll say no more. ;)
  • What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
    • The standard advice to writers is “write what you know” and I think that is very limiting and intimidating. My advice is “write what you want to know” because that opens up the world for you. Take the time to do the research to learn what you need to, then just go at it and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t do it.
  • Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
    • After you’ve found a narrator who has the voice and skill that you want, and you’ve given them some basic guidelines, you have to let it go and let them do the work. It’s like turning your screenplay over to the director and actors. If the narrator is focused on responding to your detailed direction it means they aren’t developing their own relationship with the story and the result will be less than it could have been.
  • What’s next for you?
    • I’m working on writing the fourth book in the series, and the audio version of the 3rd book, City Of A Thousand Spies is in production so it will be available on Audible and iTunes before too long. Stay tuned!
Giveaway
The Secret Chord Giveaway: ZEUS Bluetooth Headphones Wireless



Aug. 23rd:

Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews

Aug. 24th:

T's Stuff

Aug. 25th:

Lilly's Book World

Sefina Hawke's Books

Aug. 26th:

The Book Junkie Reads . . .

Aug. 27th:

What Is That Book About

Guilty Indulgence Bookclub

Aug. 28th:

Jazzy Book Reviews

The Book Addict's Reviews

Aug. 29th:

Book Addict

Writers and Authors


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