Friday, October 5, 2018

Beneath ~ Audio Book Blog Tour Promo, Review, & Giveaway!

Narrated by Brandy Skelly
Length: 8 hours and 12 minutes
Series: Beneath, Book 1
Publisher: Maureen A. Miller
Released: Aug. 17, 2018
Sub-Genres: 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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HALL WAYS REVIEW: Audio 3 Stars; Story 4 Stars. Beneath by Maureen Miller immediately caught my attention because of the fabulous cover. (Yeah, I’m like that.) Then I read the premise, and there was no way I was going to pass on reading this one with my ears. The book opens with a boat on the sea being battered in the midst of a vicious storm. Within minutes, the boat and all its passengers are sinking. Readers are put into the mind of main character Stella as she descends to what she thinks is her watery grave. Instead of drowning, she surfaces…beneath the ocean.

What makes Beneath engaging is author Maureen Miller’s wonderfully descriptive passages of this world and its inhabitants. The world building is slow, and the mystique around everything is fascinating. At times, it feels like those old TV shows about the Bermuda Triangle where viewers are given information that points to both scientific and other-worldly (aliens!) explanations. (YOU be the judge.) Miller’s story leans more to scientific but it stays blurry enough to not be conclusive -- which is intriguing.

A large cast of characters allows for several sub-plots to be happening, primarily between the five young (or seemingly young) adults in the story. Again, that mystique surrounds the inhabitants of Jackson Canyon (the name for the underworld village) and everyone seems just a little off – like what you see, which is odd enough, isn’t quite what you get. And there are seeeeeeecrets. The story is told primarily from Stella’s point of view, but there are a few awkward chapters that switch and are told from her friend Jill’s perspective. While that story line is high interest, the switches on audio are a bit jarring because it’s not immediately obvious who’s speaking – perhaps the print version indicates it? I would have preferred either a better balance of the two narrators or it to have stuck with just Stella. (Jill isn’t very likable.)

Normally, I am tolerant of teen-love, insta-love, and all the permutations, but in Beneath, I have a hard time believing Stella’s thinking early in the story. I mean, she and all her friend’s family nearly drowned to death, her friend’s mom is in a coma, they are in all kinds of danger, but she’s lusting after Colin? Perhaps I am so far removed from my teenage years that I can’t relate any more, but it doesn’t ring true for Stella’s intelligence or character. In any case, after some time, her thoughts and actions seem more natural, and the unfolding of the teen-love from there is perfect.

Readers will get immersed (see what I did there) in Beneath and will love the somewhat neatly tied-up, but haunting, conclusion to the book. Be prepared for more than a few things that are never fully explained. I don’t mind because the result is that I have thought about this book a lot well after I finished it, and that community beneath the water feels real. I am not sure if this is the start of a series, but there certainly is potential for it. I would definitely pick up the next book.

ABOUT THE NARRATION. 3 Stars. Narrator Brandy Skelly has the perfect voice for the protagonists in this story and does a great job with pacing and nailing teen angst, surliness, and enthusiasm. However, the overall audio production needs some polishing. Skelly mispronounced several words (piqued, tumult, supposedly), and there are chapters that are very breathy and several times I heard the narrator swallow. Additionally, there are some sporadic background sounds that should have been edited out. It’s a bit like reading the last draft that needs just one more pass of the proofreading pen. As usual, I increased the listening speed to 1.25x-1.5x because I am impatient.  

Thank you to Audiobookworm Productions and the author for providing me a download of this book in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give.

I received this audio book 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 audio book did not affect my opinion of it.

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!


Narrator Bio

Brandy Skelly studied theatre in college and even participated in storytelling festivals when she was growing up. She's a practicing attorney and loves to participate in ACX projects to keep her creative side happy and fulfilled. She can perform fiction and non-fiction, in neutral-American or Southern-American accents. 

She lives in North Carolina with her husband, toddler, and pound puppy. She has a soft spot for romance, and she loves a good laugh!

Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card⎮Runs Oct. 2nd-9th⎮Open internationally
Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card

Beneath Giveaway: $25 Amazon Gift Card

Oct. 2nd:
Lynn's Romance Enthusiasm
The Book Junkie Reads . . .
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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

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  1. Entered the giveaway - greedy fingers crossed

  2. Love that cover too! I may skip this audio as it wasn't stellar and may pick up the book instead. Will let you know if I do!

    1. Would love to know if you do, Nikki. I always wonder about the SPAG, but audio books are an escape from it!

  3. Great review. Not sure I'd go for the audio book version. Story sounds interesting though.

    1. It was. Great premise and world! I would read the next book (if there is one) in print, I think.

  4. Aw, it's a bummer the production was bad. I hate when that happens because it really pulls you out of the story. I hope they can do some re-work there, seems a shame when the story and narration are so good.

  5. Great review, this is the first time I have heard or seen this book but it sure does looks and sounds like a really great read. I am really glad you enjoy reading it fully, thank you so much for sharing your awesome post and for putting this book on my radar.

  6. Great review! Too bad you didn't love the audio. It's so easy to dislike a book just based on the narrator :(

  7. Love the review. Would be great if I could grab a print version of this book