Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Covey Jencks ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours Promo, Audio Book Review, & Giveaway!

Narrated by Kathy James
Genre: Mystery / Social Thriller
Publisher: Southern Owl Publications, LLC
Publication Date: February 10, 2018
Number of Pages: 229 pages
Audio Book Length: 6 hours, 38 minutes


Covey Jencks is a murder mystery with a social conscience. Set in West Texas with a cast of colorful and humorous characters, it follows a young lawyer from Washington, DC back to his hometown of Odessa, Texas. He wants and needs to solve a murder case from 1979 in 1993. The problem is that the Odessa Police Department has already found its man, and no one wants to re-visit the case of a black prostitute whose life was seemingly of no consequence to anyone. But Freddie Mae Johnson’s death matters to Covey, and eventually he discovers an old flame, JayJay Qualls, who also knew and loved Freddie. Together they undertake an investigation that uncovers not only the truth about Freddie but also the secrets of Odessa’s south side, Mexican gangs, a Boston mobster, and the fallacy of unexamined assumptions. Finding out who killed Freddie is one thing, but preventing their own demise is quite another! 



Williams seamlessly braids a murder mystery with a love story and a drama about the pervasiveness of racism in the South... The author’s prose is buoyantly eccentric, both insightful and self-effacingly humorous. And the clues Covey and JayJay track down are meted out to readers with impressive judiciousness: The author never prematurely surrenders so much information that the conclusion is rendered foregone while the tale’s swift pace prevents it from becoming tedious. An engrossing crime drama that’s both entertaining and provocative. -- Kirkus Indie


HALL WAYS REVIEW: Audio/Print combo review. My first introduction to Covey Jencks was when it was featured on Lone Star Book Blog Tours in April. I was enticed by the premise and hooked after reading all the great LSBBT reviews, so the book was dutifully placed on my ever-toppling to-be-read (ETTBR) pile. There Covey sat until June, when I read its rave Kirkus Review, and I moved it back to the top of my ETTBR pile – then sadly saw it buried along with most of my pleasure reading books. Imagine my thrill when the author requested a new book blog tour to promote the newly released AUDIO BOOK! Hallelujah! 

I first read Covey Jencks with my ears and heard the story unfold via narration by Kathy James. Initially, it was odd to hear all the front-matter and the table of contents read aloud. Then it threw me for a loop to hear a female voice narrating a book with a primarily male main character and point-of-view. However, I got over that quickly because James’s expression and voicing of main character, Covey, is excellent and ended-up being my favorite voice. And let me tell you, there is a HUGE cast of characters in this book, so voicing them all distinctly is no small task.  I toggled back and forth between regular and 1.25x speed, with the former being a bit slow for me but the latter making everyone sound a bit too excited. I am rarely satisfied with the speed of audio recordings, so this is one of those “maybe it’s you, not them” kind of things, I think.  My only real gripe is that James’s accent doesn’t sound remotely Texan to this life-long Texan’s ears. That, and her mispronunciation of some words (primarily “Odessa,” a frequently occurring word given it’s the main setting of the story), rubbed my rhubarb a bit, but I do understand there’s a fine line between sounding authentic and ridiculously Texan.

As is often the case when I listen to audio books, I listened while multi-tasking, so I re-played pieces of the audio when I got too distracted and got confused. But I still felt like I was missing some of the nuances of the story – and the story is so completely fun that I didn’t want to miss a thing. So, I pulled out my print copy and re-read the book. Ka-ching! Best of both worlds and truly, reading with my ears and then my eyes were two completely different story experiences.

“Damn, life is infinitely messier than a mystery novel.”

Though the “Cast of Characters” of Covey Jencks is read aloud on the audio, having that list in print is very helpful as a reference as the story progresses and the connections between players becomes clearer.  And truly, the theme of how people of all walks of life are connected is the crux of the story. Author Shelton Williams makes the people of the story feel achingly real and their lives are vividly described within equally vivid settings from the ‘70s to the ‘90s. I desperately want JayJay to exist in the real world! What a fabulous character with spunk and wit and charm a’plenty. And as if the diverse and fascinating characters aren’t enough, running beneath it all, there are mysteries to be solved, y’all!

Williams's writing style is super-casual, which makes it feel intimate and like readers are sitting with the characters. That style, the cover, and the book’s formatting, with plenty of white space and large margins, makes it seem fluffy at first glance. But don’t be fooled: Williams’s social commentary, delivered through his characters’ ruminations about life and humanity, pack a punch you don’t want to miss. Plus, there is a significant Afterword that ties the author’s personal experiences to those in the book. Again, Williams is all about the connections, whether you’re six or sixteen hundred miles removed from West, by God, Texas.

For this and others in the grammar police squad, the audio is a good choice because it allows freedom from the typos and errors in the print version; however, the print version provides a richness and depth that is missed in the audio if you aren’t able to fully focus on it. I have no qualms highly recommending either or both formats of Covey Jencks, and I anxiously await another installment in the series. (By the way, those final four words are a FABULOUS way to end the story, Mr. Williams!). 

Thank you to the author and Lone Star Book Blog Tours for providing me a print copy and an audio download, respectively, (and shoot, I bought the book on Kindle, too!) in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give.

Shelton L. Williams (Shelly) is founder and president of the Osgood Center for International Studies in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and he taught for nearly 40 years at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He has served in the US Government on 4 occasions and he has written books and articles on nuclear proliferation. In 2004 he began a new career of writing books on crime and society. Those books are Washed in the Blood, Summer of 66, and now Covey Jencks. All firmly prove that he is still a Texan at heart.

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Kathy James. My first part time job while I was in high school was announcing at the local radio station, and I had fun being "on the air” and using my sarcastic sense of humor.  I worked in the radio business for more than twenty years. My favorite pastimes are teaching figure skating, getting lost in a great book, and watching movies.  I narrate and produce audio books in my home studio, and I truly enjoy bringing an author’s characters to life with an audio book. I currently reside in Minnesota with my slightly overweight cat and two childlike golden retrievers.  

One Winner: Get One Signed, Print Copy & Give One to the Library of Your Choice
Two Winners: Audible Audio Book Copies
Two Winners: eBook CopiesNOVEMBER 27-DECEMBER 6, 2018
(U.S. Only)

Audio Review
Guest Post
Audio Review
Author Interview
Character Interview
Scrapbook Page
Audio Review
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Monday, November 26, 2018

Audio Alert! AudioFile Magazine's Best Young Adult Audio Books of 2018!

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AudioFile Magazine’s
2018 Best

Young Adult
Audio Books


A NOTE FROM HALL WAYS: I am a huge audio book fan (and former school librarian), so when AudioFile noticed and contacted me to help further share the love, I jumped at the chance! Just in time for that Cyber-Monday and holiday shopping, here's a great list of recommended young adult books to read with your ears! I've added them all to my TBR list! Want to read reviews of ALL 50 TITLES, listen to audio clips, and watch exclusive narrator videos? Click to view AudioFiles 2018 E-ZINE for FREE!

CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE by Tomi Adeyemi, read by Bahni Turpin

HOPE NATION by Rose Brock [Ed.], read by Michael Crouch, Kate Rudd, Bahni Turpin, Tavia Gilbert, Nancy Wu, MacLeod Andrews, Adenrele Ojo, Erin Spencer, Kyla Garcia, Mozhan Marno, Prentice Onayemi, Rebecca Soler, January LaVoy, Guy Lockard, Chris Andrew Ciulla

I HAVE LOST MY WAY by Gayle Forman, read by Sunil Malhotra, Michael Crouch, Nicole Lewis

THE LADY'S GUIDE TO PETTICOATS AND PIRACY by Mackenzi Lee, read by Moira Quirk

THE POET X: A NOVEL by Elizabeth Acevedo, read by Elizabeth Acevedo

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Showcasing the Lone Star Book Blog Tours Blauthors!

WHAT'S A BLAUTHOR, YOU ASK? It's a Blogger-Author (see what I did there?) -- and there are NINE of them on the Lone Star Book Blog Tours Blogger Team! (And several more who have works-in-progress!) 

Fiction and non-fiction, juvenile to adult, romance, history, fantasy, and photography, they've got your favorite genre, sub-genres, and topics covered! Check 'em out! (Listed in alpha order by author, of course.)

The Bathtub Mermaid: Tales from the (Holiday) Tub by Melissa Bartell. A collection of essays celebrating the good, the challenging, and the magical aspects of the winter holidays. 

(Currently FREE on Kindle Unlimited)

You Do You including Jenn Belden, contributing author, is a collection of essays by authors age 12-60, sharing their stories of what it’s like to be a daughter, a mother, a sister, a friend, a woman today and yesterday and for the future. With a broad range of voices, from the cynical, to the ugly-cry, to the outright hilarious, YOU DO YOU is a love-fest for the females in our lives.   LSBBT reviewer Jenn Belden is a contributor, sharing her struggle of raising a daughter to ignore those whose words are used to hurt when, admittedly, she didnt learn to do it herself. This is a book for anyone in middle school to middle age. 

The Inevitables by Amanda Borroel. Welcome to a world that is seeping with the inevitable. These are the stories that you think about at night when you can't sleep. The thoughts that seep into your mind when you're daydreaming in class or at work. These are the things you write about, sing about, and dread about. These are the inevitables. A short story collection from different walks of life who must face their own inevitable. 

The Blue Unicorn's Journey to Osm by Sabrina Durant. A unicorn fairy tale from the unicorn's point of view.  Great little story for all unicorn lovers. Illustrated.

Silver Taps by Max Knight is a very personal memoir written for his children and grandchildren following the death of the author’s father. The book’s title pays homage to Texas A&M University. The institution, The Corps of Cadets, and its time honored traditions serve as the backdrop for the inspirational tribute to a man who served his country in three wars: World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. It fondly remembers their relationship while exploring the terrible effects of Alzheimer’s disease, and it examines faith in the context of how it gives hope to some and raises questions in others.  
(Currently FREE on Kindle Unlimited)

Palo Duro by Max Knight. Westward expansion following the Civil War ushered in an era of increased conflict between the Southern Plains Indians and white settlers. The Comanche, the Southern Cheyenne, the Kiowa, and the Apache all fought to protect their customs and homelands. The clashes were characterized by savagery on both sides - Indian and white. However, finite numbers and options would ensure the tribes’ defeat; they faced certain death or forced relocation, and their days were numbered. Palo Duro recalls this struggle. It is the story of the Southwest United States towards the end of the nineteenth century. 

Boracay Vows by Maida Malby. To fulfill one vow, she has to break another. Krista Lopez has five days to fulfill her Turning-Thirty Vow—the promise to do something life-changing in celebration of this milestone birthday. Her plan: give in to her attraction to her Irish-American hunk of a boss Mr. Blake Ryan, who is conveniently vacationing in the same posh resort in Boracay. When he proposes a one-week affair, she accepts. It’s only a fling, after all. Krista will not fall for an American. She can’t. She promised her mother.

The Inner Silence by Christena Stephens. An introduction to Christena Stephens black and white photography, The Inner Silence was a solo photography exhibition held at the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock, Texas in 2015. It was a compilation of photographs taken by Christena during her travels to New Mexico, Arkansas, Colorado, and throughout Texas from 2011 - 2014. The book showcases the twenty exhibition photographs along with stories about each of the photos. The photos showcase unique places and wildlife.

Book Three
Book One
Book Two
The Cicada Series by Belle Whittington. Cicada (Book One).  
Summertime for Blair Reynolds and her friends had always been carefree and fun ...until the summer they happened upon something that was not human. As they band together in a fight for their lives, Blair's true love becomes something more than human. Something unnatural. And their survival depends entirely upon their ability to keep a secret. Also, Firefly (Book Two) & Monarch (Book Three). 

Inner Landscapes including Sydney Young, contributing author. Adults, Teens, and Children respond in prose and poetry to ten samples of artist Virginia Dehn’s work in this volume. Virginia and her husband Adolf Dehn belonged to a group of artists who influenced the course of American Art in the mid-twentieth century. Her work has been exhibited in shows and galleries throughout the country and paintings of hers are part of many public collections. The imagination leaps from image to word and back again in this inspirational collection.