Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Edge of Over There ~ ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours Promo, Book Trailer, & Giveaway!

The Day the Angels Fell, Book 2

  Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: July 3, 2018
Number of Pages: 384

Scroll down for Giveaway!

The captivating sequel to the award-winning The Day the Angels Fell

Abra Miller carries a secret and a responsibility she never expected. 

Before the Tree of Life, everything in Abra Miller’s life had been predictable. Safe. Normal. But after the Tree, everything has felt fragile . . . like holding a soap bubble in the palm of her hand. After years of fruitless searching for the next Tree, she begins to wonder if it was nothing more than a vivid dream.

Now sixteen, Abra finds a clue to the whereabouts of the next Tree of Life when an ominous woman—who looks exactly like a ghost from her past—compels her to travel to New Orleans where she’ll find one of seven gateways between this world and Over There. But she’s not the only one interested in finding the gateway. There’s also a young man searching for his father and sister, who escaped through it years before. As Abra enters the Edge of Over There and begins her pursuit of the Tree once more, she doesn’t know whom to fear or whom to trust.

She’s also starting to think that some doorways should never be opened.


Praise for The Edge of Over There:
“Blending Biblical elements and urban myths, Smucker creates an enthralling story of supernatural battles between the forces of good and evil.” -- Publishers Weekly

“The Edge of Over There is a mesmerizing, menacing fantasy. Shawn Smucker fuses New Orleans lore, Christian themes, and dystopian landscapes in a thorough exploration of love and its unintended results.” -- Foreword Reviews (Starred Review) 

Shawn Smucker is the author of The Day the Angels Fell and The Edge of Over There. He lives with his wife and six children in the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. You can find him on his website, where you can also sign up for his newsletter in order to find out when and where the Tree of Life will turn up next.

GRAND PRIZE: Both Books in the The Day the Angels Fell series + Color Changing Tree Mug + $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
2ND PRIZE: Both Books + Tree of Life Journal
3RD PRIZE: Both Books + $10 Starbucks Gift Card
  July 17-26, 2018

Author Interview
Book Trailer
Top 10 List
Notable Quotable
Author Interview
Guest Post

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Friday, July 13, 2018

Boy on the Beach ~ ~ Blog Tour, Review, and Giveaway!

by R.D. Maddux

Category: Adult Fiction; 304 pages
Sub-genres: Mystery / Thriller
Publisher: Ezekiel 12 Publications
Release date: March 11, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 + M 
(There are implied, but not graphic, sex scenes and some violence.)

Book Description: Andrew Foster, a real estate developer in San Diego, is a man suddenly haunted by his past. Memories, like specters from his former life of sex, drugs, and rock and roll have come crashing into his current world of business in this sunny coastal city. The ominous, repeated appearance of a black SUV at the beach where he meets his sister each week has triggered fears that it’s payback time for a bad choice he made years ago.

To add to his frustrations, his hopes of a big breakthrough in the San Diego real estate market haven’t come to pass. He’s starting to wonder if his visions of success will ever come true when an investor offers to finance his dream project. Soon things start to fall into place for Andrew in business, life, and even love. He starts dating the beautiful and business-savvy Nicole, but even with her at his side he can’t seem to shake the ghosts of his past. As the relationship with Nicole deepens, Andrew opens up to her about the many loves and adventures that have taken him from the crazy days of living in Big Sur and Joshua Tree to business success in San Diego. Her wise insights help him face the character flaws that have caused him to fail in his past relationships.

Rounding out his social life is his once-a-week task of assisting his sister with her nanny job watching a young boy named Chandler. They build sand castles on the beach and enjoy the beauty of nature together. But the now ominous weekly appearance of a strange car at the beach has awakened Andrew’s fears. Is the boy in danger? Or worse, has an enemy from Andrew’s past come seeking revenge and now Chandler’s caught in the middle?

A strange twist of events threatens to destroy Andrew’s dreams, but as he searches for answers, a sudden revelation offers hope of a future he never imagined.

To follow the tour and read reviews, please visit R.D. Maddux's page on iRead Book Tours.

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HALL WAYS REVIEW: 3.5 Stars. I was drawn to the cover of this book and then the cover blurb enticed me even further. Neither really represents the crux of the story told in Boy on the Beach, but it’s time well-spent between the book’s covers nonetheless.

The first chapter of the book is action-packed, heart racing, and quickly hooks the reader into the world of Andrew Foster.  After that, there is less heart racing and more heart wrenching. For the majority of Boy on the Beach, readers are sitting on the shoulder of main character Andrew. At times, it feels like we’re reading his journaling where he summarizes events and his feelings about them. Other times, we’re right there with him thirty-seven years ago or in current times as his life unfolds. Author R.D. Maddux uses the flashbacks and summarizing to move the story forward and selectively fills-in holes without bogging down the plot. Readers have an advantage over Andrew due to the sprinkling of chapters told from a different character’s viewpoint. These chapters take much of the mystery out of the story, and at times feel awkward, but they allow the dread to build for the train wreck that readers see coming but which Andrew only feels is coming. Further adding to the interest is that Andrew thinks he deserves what is coming, in whatever way it manifests itself.

“One word that shouldn’t be part of a life graced with wealth, a beautiful spouse, gorgeous children, and an amazing career. One word: Revenge.”

Boy on the Beach is a study in human nature and illustrates some of the best but more of the worst mankind has to offer – and most importantly, the consequences of those unsavory characteristics. For me, young Andrew is not a likable character. He is immature and horribly selfish and justifies his actions because he feels entitled to have what’s not his and to live the life he wants, regardless of the fallout. Though fifty-seven-year-old Andrew has matured and evolved in some ways, I still didn’t find him overly likable; however, I could see that he may have been getting there with the help of his sister, young Chandler, and his love interest, Nicole.  Sadly, none of those characters or relationships have a big enough role in the story. Their parts are minor in the story even though it’s clear they are major contributors to Andrew’s growth. The result is that readers don’t experience much of these relationships, but they see the potential positive impacts of them being an influence on Andrew and his attitudes and thinking, and that does help.

Readers who remember the free-love and drug haze aspect of the sixties/seventies will certainly enjoy Andrew’s flashbacks to that era and lifestyle. Maddux’s attention to details really paints a picture of everything from jam sessions to psychedelic tripping after eating peyote buttons. While I couldn’t relate to that aspect (but found it fascinating), from a personal standpoint, I do relate to and enjoy the California setting. I’m familiar with these exact towns and places north of San Diego, so I can easily visualize the nooks and crannies of Swami’s beach, the June gloom, and the promise held in those beautiful sunsets. Maddux writes some fabulous sentences and has some rich descriptions that show he not only has a real love for his setting, but he also is a talented writer. Unfortunately, that talent is overshadowed by the need for some additional editing (unnatural dialogue, telling not showing, holes) and a lack of proofreading of the text. There are numerous SPAG errors, some formatting glitches, and no page numbers, all of which, for me, were distracting and detracted from the quality of the book.

Overall, there is a fascinating story told in Boy on the Beach, and there are even a few surprises that show-up that make for a satisfying ending. Readers are left with an impression that many people’s lives are about to get better, and that hopeful vibe was just the right way to end the book.

Thank you to iRead Book Tours and the author for sharing a print copy of this book with me in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give. 

Meet the Author: R.D. Maddux has story telling in his blood. Since he was young he’s always loved a good tale. He’s been writing seriously since he was in high school and college. His novels range from Mystery and Intrigue to Sci-fi/fantasy. With Boy On The Beach he’s set the story in modern America, to be exact, on the West Coast of California. He’s a native of the golden state and has been a resident of San Diego since 1987. Before that he grew up in northern California and lived in the Sacramento Valley and Bay Area with sojourns in some of the beautiful parts of our state.

Living in California for over 60 years he couldn't help but watch the way things have changed in our culture and the impact this coast makes on the rest of America and the world. So even though Boy On The Beach is fiction, like most serious novels, it is not without a context and comment on issues we all face in our changing world. It takes place in real locations that are very familiar to him and its characters, which are fictional, no doubt have their counterparts in the real world. Boy On The Beach is a story of intrigue, suspense, revenge, love and redemption with flashbacks to the era when sex, drugs and rock and roll set our culture on it's inevitable journey to our present day. This idea has been rattling around in his heart and mind for a decade and it's finally coming to the page.
Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

FIVE WINNERS! Copy of the Book & Amazon Gift Card!
TWO WINNERS! Copy of the Book
(US Winners: Print Copies; International Winners: eBook Copies) 
Ends Aug 25, 2018

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Crystilleries of Echoland

Narrated by B.J. Harrison
Publication Date: Print: March 11, 2018; Audio: June 11, 2018
Pages: 376 (with 82 illustrations)
Audio: 7 hours 55 minutes

2018 Pacific Book Awards WINNER
2018 Purple Dragonfly 2nd Place WINNER
2018 Los Angeles Book Festival Runner-up
2018 New York Book Festival Honorable Mention 
2018 San Francisco Book Festival Honorable Mention

ABOUT THE BOOK: The lucent land of the Echoes is haunted by hate. How see-through your skin is determines whether you live or die. Until two boys - an Echo and his Sound - unravel a 250-year-old riddle and change Echoland forever.
In a see-through land, our reflections live. They call us Sounds. They are our Echoes. And they think that they must die when we do. Is this why children are disappearing from the Sound realm? Because someone wants their Echo to die?

Twelve-year-old Will Cleary tries to escape the frightening answer. But dangers sweep him into that magical, see-through land. And there, in a fortress filled with castaway children, a 200-year-old riddle lies buried. The most important boy in Echoland, with a handful of other kids, will help Will solve it. For the fate of Echoland and of the Sound realm depends on the answer.
An answer hidden in an ancient book...deep in a frozen lake of gems...beyond a buried door...at the foot of the greatest Crystillery of all.
But many men and monsters, crystal balls, and spying eyes will try to stop the brave teens. For how see-through your skin is all important in Echoland. And when this ancient hate ends, the realm of the Echoes will change forever.






HALL WAYS REVIEW 4.5 Stars. Audio Book and Print Review.
The Crystilleries of Echoland is a magical, mystical journey into the parallel Echo realm where twelve-year-old Will Cleary finds his identity is not what he believed it to be and even things in his world are not what they seem. The premise is wonderful – haven’t all of us wondered at times about the existence of parallel worlds? Throw into the mix that it’s an often Harry Potter-like world with fantastic feats and beasts, full of mystery and danger, and you’ve got a winning combination that readers will devour.

The Echo realm is pure magic -- a mystical, shimmering world of illusions and often deadly realities. There are plenty of colorful characters, including the terrifying but intriguing Fate Sealers (think Dementors from HP, but even more gruesome). Lessons of friendship and loyalty, accepting differences, and putting others before one’s self make The Crystilleries of Echoland an impactful reading choice.

Author Dew Pellucid's imagination is wondrous and the author's ability to put ideas to paper is phenomenal. The author truly immerses the reader into the setting where descriptions are vibrant, emotions are strong, and danger feels real. Andy Simmons's haunting CGI illustrations draw readers into the Echo realm, its characters, and its landscapes, and are a good forced pause between chapters that are sometimes relentlessly fast-paced. The writing and artwork allow for readers to truly escape into an otherworldly experience every time they turn the page.  

About the audio book: The narration of The Crystilleries of Echoland is outstanding. Narrator B.J. Harrison is flawless in his portrayal of the many voices and personalities within the story. His pacing and emotion perfectly match the intended tone and mood of the plot, and listeners will be delighted with his accent. I would listen to him narrate directions for assembling a box and be engrossed.    

Be warned -- there is a fair amount of death and killing, often remorseless, and some moderately intense, even grisly scenes of violence. The audience feels tween/middle-grade, but with those elements in mind, it’s best suited for more mature young readers and older. From a technical perspective, the Grammar Policewoman issues a citation because the book needs another pass by the proofreader to correct typos, punctuation and capitalization errors, and the overuse of the word “lucent.”

Twists and turns abound, and readers will find themselves utterly immersed in this story right up to the satisfying ending, which leaves open the possibility of more Echoland adventures. (Fingers crossed.) Prepare to be thinking about the fantastic Echo world, where there is adventure, danger, and beauty beyond imagination, long after finishing The Crystilleries of Echoland.

Thank you to the author for sending me a beautiful, color illustrated copy of this book plus an audio download in exchange for my honest opinions of each – the only kind I give. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tal Boldo is a self-published, award-winning novelist and audio book reader and producer. She likes to write under pseudonyms that relate to her stories. Her teen fantasy, The Crystilleries of Echoland, was published under Dew Pellucid (Tal being the Hebrew word for Dew, and Dew being an Echo's name). Her adult love story, Looking Glass Friends, was published under E. L. Neve (an anagram of 11, or a symbol of two individuals standing side-by-side). The novel won 13 awards. Tal recorded and produced the audio book herself. 


Click for Hall Ways Review

Friday, July 6, 2018

Dead of Night ~ ~ Audio Book Blog Tour, Review, & Giveaway!

Narrator: Ben Werling
Length: 4 hours
Publisher: William Todd
Released: May 18, 2018
Sub-Genre: Horror

Dead of Night is a compilation of turn-of-the-century-era horror stories with a Victorian flair and traditional horror story plots with unexpected endings. If you like ghosts and ghouls and demons and werewolves, these stories are for you.

HALL WAYS REVIEW: 4.5 STARS. Audio Book Review. It’s always difficult to review a book of short stories, but for Dead of Night, I can categorically say that it was good spooky fun. Of course, I have my favorite of the six stories (which was titled “Jack.” Oooooh, that TWIST!), but every story was thought provoking and creepy in its own disturbing way. DELICIOUS.  I like the Victorian vibe to them all that allowed for significant chills without making me too uncomfortable in the safety of modern times. (I know, what safety? Don’t burst my bubble). Readers will enjoy stories that include a variety of narrators, subtle little hints of things to come, and interesting and unique premises that enrich the stories and set them apart from standard horror.

"I must confess that for someone who is about to die,
writing in my diary is a most odd notion."

From one of the earliest lines in the first story, “Whittaker House,” the reader is drawn in with the dread, doom, and heaviness surrounding the story. Author William Todd masterfully works his words so that the reader is right there with the characters, a fly on the wall that can see something terrible is coming but can’t do a thing about it. The pictures he paints are vivid and range from the most picturesque to the most macabre. Todd’s use of figurative language and non-standard words adds extra impact and raises the writing a literary notch.

"The sky was bathed in blue -- a sea in the heavens that matched any on earth…The serried tops of beech, oak, and elm trees swooned like sozzled sentries between all the properties.

Since I read Dead of Night with my ears, I cannot speak to the quality of the editing, but the sentences flow from narrator Ben Werling’s mouth, and the writing is top-notch. I cannot imagine that someone who writes like William Todd doesn’t take care to make his sentences clean in print. I am likely to buy this book so that I can re-read the stories, so we will see if I’m mistaken.

Speaking of the audio book, I listened at regular speed for a bit, which is best to feel the real gloom of the stories. However, as usual, I am too impatient, so I sped it up to 1.25x, which still worked very well and added anxiety to the mix of feelings listeners experience. There are some sound effects added in, and they were fun but somewhat random. I’m not sure if they added anything, but they didn’t really detract or distract. There is some background noise, a clicking/crackling that starts about seven minutes in and then can be heard sporadically for the rest of the book, but that is really the only technical issue with the audio.

Narrator Ben Werling does a great job in matching the moods of each story and voicing the wide variety of characters and accents. There aren’t many female characters, but those few are important, and Werling (thankfully) doesn’t make much effort to distinguish between the voices of males and females. The result is just right and is never confusing or cringe-worthy (there is nothing worse than all the women sounding Monty-Pythonesque). Werling’s delivery was mostly even, though there are times when the volume of his voice isn’t consistent. His emotion and expressiveness were excellent, and his pacing perfect.  My only complaint were the numerous mispronounced words (particularly in “I’m Still Alive”); those were distracting to me and took me out of the story a time or two.

My nitpicking aside, I highly recommend the audio book of Dead of Night for fans of classic scary stories in the style of Edgar Allen Poe. At just four hours in length, it’s perfect for a short little road trip or to listen during the daily commute. And as I said, I plan on buying it in print so I can get a quick hit of horror any time. Thank you to Audiobookworm Productions and the author for the free audio download in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give.  

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

I have been writing online since the early 2000’s, primarily writing horror stories in the style of Poe and Lovecraft. I was the 2nd most popular author on the website storiesbyemail.com for two years before moving on. I had my first book, a Victorian era horror compilation called Bumps in the Night, published by Mystic Moon Press just a week before they closed their website and never saw my hard work pay off. Afterwards I took publishing into my own hands, became an Indie author and haven’t looked back. My first self-published book was Dead of Night, another compilation of Victorian horror stories, published September 2016 by Createspace and on Kindle by KDP. After its publication I left my comfort zone for mystery and wrote a short story about Sherlock Holmes in the Conan Doyle style. I loved it so much I then did a longer story A Reflection of Evil, both published in 2017 through Createspace and KDP. I have just release Beyond the Gossamer Veil, another compilation of both Victorian and modern supernatural/horror stories and am in the beginning stages of my third Sherlock Holmes installment.  CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR ON Goodreads.
Narrator Bio

Ben is an award winning actor and voice over professional, who has performed all across the United States. From Shakespeare to Neil Simon, he has displayed a versatility and diversity in the characters and dialects he has portrayed. Ben received the Joseph Jefferson Award for Leading Actor as abusive talk show host Barry Champlain in Eric Bogosian's TALK RADIO, and was nominated for Best Supporting Actor as Prosecutor Villeforte in Alexander Dumas' THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO, also in Chicago. He has worked with an extensive list of theaters in Chicago over the last three decades: Steppenwolf, Bailiwick, Famous Door, Next, A Red Orchid, Raven Theater, First Folio, Writer's Theater, Buffalo Theater Ensemble, as well as Utah Shakespeare Festival, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Indiana Repertory, Madison Repertory, and Allenberry Playhouse in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania. He is an Ensemble member of Shattered Globe Theater in Chicago. For almost a decade he was the voice of the Adler Planetarium, hosting live shows and pointing out the stars, planets and constellations on the big dome. Ben has an eponymous weekly vlog on YouTube, that he films, produces, edits and narrates. He lives in Chicago with his wife Amy, two dogs and three cats.


Dead of Night Giveaway: $25 PayPal Cash

Also available from William Todd

A Reflection of Evil: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery is available for adoption on the Adopt-An-Audiobook page!

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Carolyn M. Walker, Author of Thrilling Fiction

Jul. 6th:
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Notes from 'Round the Bend

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