Kay Dew Shostak: Next Stop, Chancey – Review and Narrator Interview

Author: Kay Dew Shostak

Narrator: Suzanne Barbetta

Series: Chancey, Book One

Length: 10h 8m

Publisher: Kay Dew Shostak

Released: Dec. 22, 2016

Genre: Contemporary Fiction


Looking in your teenage daughter’s purse is never a good idea.

After all, it ended up with Carolina Jessup opening a bed & breakfast for railroad fanatics in a tiny Georgia mountain town. Carolina knows all about, and hates, small towns. How did she end up leaving her wonderful Atlanta suburbs behind while making her husband’s dreams come true?

The town bully (who wears a lavender skirt and white gloves), an endless parade of teenagers through her house, and everybody’s talk about a ghost have Carolina looking for an escape, or at least a way to move back home. Instead, she’s front and center for all of Chancey’s small town gossip.

Unlike back home in the suburbs with privacy fences and automatic garage doors, everybody in Chancey thinks your business is their business and they all love the newest Chancey business. The B&B hosts a Senate candidate, a tea for the county fair beauty contestants, and railroad nuts who sit out by the tracks and record the sound of a train going by. Yet, nobody believes Carolina prefers the ‚burbs.

Oh, yeah, and if you just ignore a ghost, will it go away?

 

 

“A new voice in Southern Fiction” is how a recent reviewer labeled Kay Dew Shostak’s debut novel, Next Stop, Chancey. Kay grew up in the South, then moved around the country raising a family. Always a reader, being a writer was a dream she cultivated as a journalist and editor at a small town newspaper in northern Illinois.

“Next Stop, Chancey”, published in 2015, was the first in the series set in the small, imaginary town of Chancey, Georgia. The fifth book in the series, “Kids are Chancey” will be released August 2017.

Seeing the familiar and loved from new perspectives led Kay to write about the absurd, the beautiful, and the funny in her South in both her fiction and non-fiction.

Visit Kay’s website at kaydewshostak.com to sign up for her newsletter and to read more about her journey. Kay is also on Facebook and twitter. All four Chancey books (along with the first in a new series set in Florida) are available on Amazon in print and eBook.

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Narrator Bio

Suzanne Barbetta is a Jersey girl, a blue collar kid from Jersey City who binged on B-Movie Musicals and Godzilla flicks as a kid. She became a voracious reader when she realized the magic of books allowed her to become anyone, anywhere, and in any world. A storyteller and performer since the age of 5, she later apprenticed at 2 regional theaters earned her union card and became a proud member of SAG-AFTRA. She’s worked in theater, indie films and commercial voiceover. Audiobooks are a way to satisfy her pathological addiction to reading. Now based in NYC, she is also the voice of the Fierce, Funny, Fab Fangirls of the new Serial Box Publishing audio series, Geek Actually.

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It is far too seldom that I foray into genres that don’t belong to my main fare, and I’m glad I did for this book. The synopsis intrigued me, as I grew up in a small town — more or less unaware of the gossip — then lived in a big city for more than 30 years, and now I’ve returned to my home town. I wondered: is there a huge difference between people in rural North America and people in rural Germany?

Well, yes and no. But maybe that’s because my town seems comparatively large in comparison with Chancey. Or maybe I just don’t go out enough, or I don’t go the correct places. I know from a friend that there is a lot of gossip going on here, but the only gossip I ever hear is from my friend, and that isn’t a lot.

So far, I haven’t been cajoled into anything. I do believe that’s because nobody is interested in me, although my mum does her best to tell all and sundry that I’m back in town.

But to the novel: I absolutely LOVED it. The characters are so life-like, it felt as if I was there, listening in to the conversations. There’s even a ghost, but he is not of the scary kind, and somehow quite believable.

There are certainly characters that weren’t my favourites, but I can’t say that I completely disliked even one of them — well, maybe for one exception.

As I’ve come to expect from audio books promoted by The Audiobookworm, the sound quality was impeccable. Narrator Suzanne Barbetta did an absolutely marvellous job at bringing all the characters to life! She gives them depth and variety; I never had any difficulties to know who was talking, and her male and female voices are great. If I had a written list of favourite narrators, this list would now be longer by one. I’ve seen that there are four more books in this series, alas, no further sequel is available in audio. I hope there will be, because my reading time is so sparse, but I’d love to know more about this particular family and community! So, Kay, if you read this, please consider making the sequels available in audio (and do hire Suzanne)!

For all who love to read/listen to a good tale that contains everything you can ask of a good yarn, I recommend you listen to Next Stop, Chancey. I’m sure you won’t regret it.

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

Q&A with Narrator Suzanne Barbetta
  • When did you know you wanted to be an audiobook narrator?
  • When I was a kid, I was sickly and I LOVED reading. It was my great escape, a way to go anywhere. My younger sister didn’t enjoy reading and I thought that was a shame so I picked out a Nancy Drew book one day and read it to her to try to entice her to read. And it worked! Once I became a narrator, she reminded me of this. So – I kind of feel like this is something I wanted to do since I was a teenager, before I know this could be a career.
  • How did you wind up narrating audiobooks? Was it always your goal or was it something you stumbled into by chance?
  • Already a theater and indie film actress, I decided to try commercial VO. I created a demo and booked some spots, but decided that the form or VO that really intrigued me was audiobooks. As a voracious reader, it seemed like a natural step. So I went to the E.I.F. VO Lab at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation and brought in an excerpt from a book. The engineer asked me if I was auditioning for audiobooks and I told her I wasn’t. She told me I SHOULD be. She asked if I worked through ACX and I told her no because I had no equipment or training to self-record. She told me not to let that stop me and she walked me through setting up an account. She told me to bring all my auditions to the lab and we’d practice and record there.
  • A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career?
  • I DO know successful narrators without that background, but I think that it is extremely helpful to have it. HOWEVER, it’s a different way of telling a story – there’s mic technique and a hundred other things to learn that are SO different from stage acting and it takes time and patience to learn that.
  • What type of training have you undergone?
  • I worked with the engineers/directors at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s EIF VO Lab, coached privately with Jayme Mattler, Paul Alan Ruben and Carol Monda and I’ve just started coaching with Andi Arndt. .I also study dialects using various resources and plan to work with a coach who specializes in dialects because I think it’s so important AND one of the most fun aspects of the work.
  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out?
  • What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for narrating? I am a voracious reader and love narrating so I cannot imagine getting burned out. Talk to me in 10 years. But, seriously, I plan on doing this work for as long as I’m able to read and speak.
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
  • Yes, I’m an avid listener and I have my own favorites. I binge-listen to narrators I like so I can hear how they perform across genres.
  • What are your favorite and least favorite parts of narrating an audiobook?
  • The prep work and the prep work! It can be really fun because you learn about new topics/subjects you might not have had any interest in. But sometimes it’s maddening because you’re looking at multiple sources and the sources conflict, and you want to get it right so that can be a bit frustrating. My real favorite part is when you reach that ZONE where everything is just flowing. I. LOVE. THAT.
  • What would you say are your strongest narration abilities?
  • Infusing humor and warmth into stories. I’m also great with 1st person reads.
  • Is there a particular genre you feel unsuited for? 
  • Highly technical medical texts.
  • Have you ever declined a project because you didn’t think you were right for it?
  • No, I’ve turned projects down for lack of pay rate but I try to audition for things I think are a great fit for me.
  • What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?
  • I strongly connected with the viewpoint of the main character Carolina Jessup. She’s a bit snarky and an odd duck, and she has this funny monologue going on in her head no matter what is happening.
  • How closely do you prefer to work with authors?
  • Oh, if they want to participate in the process, that’s great, they can be a great resource if the text brings up additional questions. I consider the author a partner. I ask for pronunciation guides and input on how THEY see certain characters if it’s not clearly stated in the text.
  • Who are your “accent inspirations”?
  • Davina Porter is British of course, so she’s great for multiple English accents and also does GREAT scottish accents (and male voices). I also listen to Caroline Lee (Australian) so if I need an Australian accent, that’s who I’d model it after.
  • How did you decide how each character should sound in this title?
  • Clues in the text whenever possible: descriptions of voice, tone, accent. Physical descriptions, meaning age, physical build etc, as well as speech pattern indicators in the text.
  • What types of things are harmful to your voice?
  • Cold beverages – I cannot drink cold water in the booth. It makes my stomach AND my throat gurgle like CRAZY. If I’m at a Giants game I no longer cheer by screaming like a loon – which is a little frustrating but I wave my hands around like a lunatic instead. (Compromises….)
  • Have there been any characters that you really connected with?
  • In the series I’m recording now, Geek Actually, (a serialized fiction podcast released in weekly episodes), there are 5 main female characters. They’re smart, geeky, funny, irreverent, feminists. Besties who met each other playing World of Warcraft or at Cons. I. LOVE. THEM. There is part of each one of those women inside me.
  • If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
  • Ooooohhhh, it would be fun to go to Sicily or Ireland, my ancestors’ home turf. But I’m SUCH a trouble-maker, I’d either be burned as a witch or expelled from wherever. Oh yeah. Think Claire in the Outlander series. Yup, that’d be me, stirring the you-know-what, refusing to stay in “my place”.
  • How does audiobook narration differ from other types of voiceover work you’ve done?
  • Many other types of voiceover are sprints, not marathons. It requires much more technical research and prep than other forms of VO.
  • Do you read reviews for your audiobooks?
  • Yes.
  • If so, which ones stand out to you most, positive or negative?
  • I’ve not gotten any harsh reviews so I have to say mostly the positive stand out.
  • What type of the review comments do you find most constructive? What about the narration really worked or affected them and why?
  • Specific comments are best. General comments are not all helpful. I did a fun comic-romance and several listeners said it was Laugh-Out-Loud funny and talked about how much they loved some of the characters. That’s really helpful knowing exactly I nailed for you, what really worked for you as a listener.
  • If you could narrate one book from your youth what would it be and why?
  • Can I pick two? The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. For years I dreamed about running away and sleeping over in the Museum of Natural History just like the kids in that story. (Because I’m a dinosaur freak, and briefly wanted to be a paleontologist, I reveled in the idea of crashing in the museum with all those fossils.) The other is 101 Dalmations. I am a dog-nut and read this book TEN times when I was young. It would be awesome to voice all those dogs and Cruella DeVil!
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
  • I don’t understand why anyone thinks this is cheating. You get the value of the story and vocabulary as if you were ‘reading’ the book, it’s just enhanced with audio. You get the author’s full story. I would also say that telling stories out loud is one of the oldest art forms out there. Now it just happens to be available digitally instead of around a campfire. (But you can LISTEN around a campfire if you like, LOL.)
  • What bits of advice would you give to aspiring audiobook narrators?
  • Listen to audiobooks by experienced narrators. Be humble. Coach and get advice from knowledgeable people in the business. Do your homework! There is a long learning curve for audiobook narration, so be patient with yourself.
  • What’s next for you? Finishing up the last episodes of the 1st season of Geek Actually, available at Serial Box Publishing (download the ebook AND audio this through their app at https://www.serialbox.com/serials/geekactually); contributing 2 stories (fantasy/sci-fi) to a short story collection, beginning a public domain series written by Edna Ferber, the Edna McChesney serie, www.Listen2aBook.com.

With Narrator Suzanne Barbetta

Waffle fries or curly fries?

Cajun spiced sweet potato fries. TOTALLY addicted.

GIF with a hard g or soft g?

Hard G.
Fantasy or science-fiction?

SUCH A GEEK-GIRL. I’ve watched all the Star Wars/Star Trek movies and all the Star Trek series but at the end of the day my favorite fiction genre to read is Epic Fantasy.

Superman or Batman?

Batman. Because…Batgirl.

Text message or call?

Depends: Mom = Call. Friends = Text/IM

Pancakes or waffles?

Pumpkin pancakes!

Doctor Who or the Walking Dead?

Dr. Who

TV Shows or movies?

Movies.

Facebook or Twitter?

Facebook.

Alice in Wonderland or Robinson Crusoe?

Always Alice.

Being too warm or too cold?

Too Cold = hot chocolate + marshmallows.

Netflix or Hulu?

Netflix.

Work Hard or Play Hard?

Both. I am a certified Scuba Diver (I prefer clear blue water, gorgeous reef, colorful fish, but SOMETIMES it means hauling heavy gear and rough water).

Passenger or Driver?

Passenger so I get to watch the scenery.

Amusement Park or Day at the Beach?

Beach.

Honesty or Other’s Feelings?

Yeesh, Who’ve you been talking to? So…I am direct but like to think I’ve mellowed a bit so that I’m not TOTALLY tactless. But…if I had a ringtone, it would be Sledgehammer. ;-p
Movie at Home or Movie at the Theater?

Movie Theater if it’s a blockbuster movie.’Cuz who wants to watch Wonder Woman at HOME??

 

„Reasons I Chose to Narrate Next Stop, Chancey“- Suzanne Barbetta

I loved Carolina Jessup, the main character, and her wry wit.

I grew up a city kid, so I got to experience life in a small town.

A fun supporting cast of town gossips, sullen teens, cranky old men, train nuts, and a bully swathed in lavender and white gloves – a true Steel Magnolia.

Because it’s the story of an imperfect mother learning to stand her ground, stand up for herself and overcome long-time fears and hang-ups.

Portrayal of a strong, but not perfect marriage: I love a romance and HEA as much as the next girl, but Carolina and her husband share an affection and intimacy that seemed strong and REAL without us needing to see them in the bedroom.

 

 

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James Maxey: Greatshadow – Review and Giveaway

Author: James Maxey

Narrator: Jake Urry

Series: Dragon Apocalypse, Book One

Length: 13h 20m

Publisher: James Maxey

Released: May 29, 2017

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Greatshadow is the primal dragon of fire, an elemental evil whose malign intelligence spies upon mankind through every candle flame, waiting to devour any careless victim he can claim.

The Church of the Book has assembled a team of twelve battle-hardened adventurers to slay the dragon once and for all. But tensions run high between the leaders of the team who view the mission as a holy duty and the super-powered mercenaries who add power to their ranks, who view the mission primarily as a chance to claim Greatshadow’s vast treasure trove. If the warriors fail to slay the beast, will they doom mankind to death by fire?

 

James Maxey’s mother warned him if he read too many comic books, they would warp his mind. She was right. Now an adult who can’t stop daydreaming, James is unsuited for decent work and ekes out a pittance writing down demented fantasies about masked women, fiery dragons, and monkeys. Oh god, so many monkeys.

​In an effort to figure out how Superman could fly, James read a lot of science, books by Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould and Stephen Hawking. Turns out, Superman probably wasn’t based on any factual information. Who would have guessed? Realizing it was possible to write science fiction without being constrained by the actual rules of science proved liberating for James, and led to the psuedo-science fiction of the Bitterwood series, superhero novels like Nobody Gets the Girl, and the steam-punk visions of Bad Wizard.

​In 2015, James was honored as the Piedmont Laureate by the United Arts Councils representing Orange County, Durham County, and Wake County. This is almost certainly a sign of the ongoing cultural decay gripping the nation.

​James lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina with his lovely and patient wife Cheryl and too many cats.

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Narrator Bio

Jake Urry has been narrating and producing Audiobooks since February 2016, and in that time has released 17 titles, including The Cryptic Lines by Richard Storry, White is the Coldest Colour by John Nicholl, and the PI Harlan Ulrich series by Ambrose Ibsen. His narration work is often dark and suspenseful, and he developing a reputation for Mysteries, Thrillers and Horrors. In 2017 Jake will be working on more work by John Nicholl and Richard Storry, along with a sprinkling of Fantasy adventures.

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Jake Urry does it again!

My first book narrated by Jake Urry was a psychological thriller, and his way of narrating really got to me. I then listened to his performances of an occult thriller series; so when I found out that he was the narrator of Greatshadow, and fantasy being my favourite genre, I absolutely ‚had‘ to listen to it.

Now, the brain is a funny organ: when starting Greatshadow, at first I couldn’t help but picturing Harlan Ulrich, the main protagonist from the occult thriller series. I hasten to add, that this is none of Jake Urry’s fault, his narration was immaculate, as I’ve come to expect from him. So, I had some serious talking to myself, and after a while, Ulrich faded, and Stagger and Infidel came to the fore.

I thoroughly enjoyed the narration, the various characters and voices. The good thing is: I enjoyed the book as much as I enjoyed the narration!

Being an avid reader/listener of fantasy stories, I sometimes wonder what new stuff authors can still come up with, cause it seems I should have read it all by now.

Far from it! On the foreground, this is a book about mankind’s fight against the evil dragon, but there is so much more to it.

The world building is excellent, and the world is populated by very strong and different characters and fascinating races. The narrator’s perspective is a bit of a funny one, because he is dead. Yes, you read that right. And he isn’t the sort of ghost I would have expected, either, because he can still feel like a living being — only he can no longer act like one, which causes him a lot of frustration.

Then there’s Infidel, an invincible woman who doesn’t let anyone push her around.

There are mercenaries with various special abilities, there’s the knight in shining armour (and he isn’t as boring as I expected him to be, either). And of course there’s a representative of the church who claims to hold the one and only truth, and there’s his (and the church’s) antagonist, some sort of Antichrist. And then there’s the mysterious — well, sort of wise man, or wizard — who knows it all.

These are only the main characters, but the sidekicks are just as fascinating and memorable. I hope in a sequel we’ll get to know more about the Black Swan, for instance.

All these characters make for a hell of a mix in their common goal to slay Greatshadow, the most powerful dragon on earth, not least because their motivations for the mission are so very different.

The story is full of surprises, and it is funny in parts, too. The mix of action and reflection, disputes and building of friendships makes for great entertainment, and I highly recommend it.

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

 

 

 

Greatshadow Giveaway: $10 Amazon Gift Card

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Review: The Murders at Astaire Castle by Lauren Carr

Welcome to Lauren Carr’s Audiobook-a-palooza Blog Tour! To celebrate the release of Lauren Carr’s mysteries in audiobook format, we have 14 books from her three series on tour!

 


To follow the tour and to read reviews, please visit Lauren Carr’s page on iRead Book Tours.
Today we stop at
The Murders at Astaire Castle, book 5 of The Mac Faraday Mystery Series:


Buy the Audiobook ~ Book

 

 

 

Book Description:

 


Never tell Mac Faraday not to do something.

Spencer’s police chief, David O’Callaghan, learns this lesson the hard way when he orders Mac Faraday to stay away from the south end of Spencer’s mountaintop – even though he owns the property. It doesn’t take long for Mac to find out what lies on the other side of the stone wall and locked gate, on which hangs a sign warning visitors to Keep Out!

Topping the list of the 10 top haunted places in America, Astaire Castle is associated with two suicides, three mysterious disappearances, and four murders since it was built almost a century ago – and Mac Faraday owns it!

In spite of David’s warning, Mac can’t resist unlocking the gate to see the castle that supposedly hasn’t seen a living soul since his late mother had ordered it closed up after the double homicide and disappearance of Damian Wagner, a world-famous master of horror novels.

What starts out as a quick tour of a dusty old castle turns into another Mac Faraday adventure when Astaire Castle becomes the scene of even more murders. Mac is going to need to put all of his investigative talents to work to sort out this case that involves the strangest characters he has run into yet – including a wolf man. No, we’re not talking about Gnarly.

 

My thoughts:

This is the fifth book in the Mac Faraday Mystery Series, and the second book I listened to. Like Old Loves Die Hard, this can be read as a stand-alone novel. All the characters and their connections are properly introduced, and although it is clear that we’ve moved on in time, I never felt I missed something.

In this book, the focus is more on David and his past, than it is on Mac Faraday. And David has an interesting past, a good deal of which is connected to the haunted Astaire Castle, a property belonging to Mac Faraday and of which the latter had been ignorant until now.

Strange things used to go on at the castle, and the moment Mac Faraday gets involved, the series of murders starts afresh.

It is all very mysterious, and once again, the ending is perplexing (good job that I’m not a private investigator). There’s even some paranormal activity, but it is believable, considering the whole circumstances.

I really like the characters of Mac Faraday, Archie, David, and the rest, but I absolutely love Gnarly.

He’s such a great dog, and all his antics grant some comic relief. I laughed out loud on occasions, I really pictured Gnarly doing what he did. In my eyes, he is readily the best character in this series.

Last week, I said I’d love to explore the area at Deep Creek Lake, but I’d give that castle a wide berth (fortunately, it is fictional).

Dan Lawson did a wonderful job at narrating the story. I have to say that I enjoyed this narration more than the one I wrote about last week. The characters were very distinctive, especially Hector, the Australian. I’ll certainly listen to other books by Dan Lawson, his take on the novel convinced throughout — as did the story. It drew me in right from the start and is a true page turner.

My thanks go to Laura Fabiani from iread booktours who provided me with a free copy of this great audio book.

Meet the Author:

Picture

Lauren Carr

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with LaurenWebsite  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

Meet the Narrator:

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Dan Lawson
Over the past several years Dan Lawson has appeared in numerous spots for radio, television and the internet. He has worked with All-State, Sprint PCS, Mountain Dew and many more. His unique ability to mimic existing characters and celebrities has landed him diverse voice match work ranging from Charlie Sheen to Morgan Freeman.

In 2008 Dan was cast as the first American voice actor for the Korean video game company, Nexon. Over the next several years Dan was the flagship voice of the company, appearing in such titles as Mabinogi, Maple Story, Vindictus, Dragon Nest, Dungeon Fighter Online and Atlantica. In total he has voiced nearly 100 characters for Nexon.

In late 2012 Dan’s voice over career took an unexpected turn into book narration. His first audition landed him the job of narrating The Psychology of Twilight, a psychological look at the wide-spread obsession of the Twilight saga created by Stephanie Meyer.  Eighteen more audiobook narrations have followed and show no signs of slowing down.

Interview: James C. Lewis (Narrator) & Review: Old Loves Die Hard by Lauren Carr (Author)

Welcome to Lauren Carr’s Audiobook-a-palooza Blog Tour! To celebrate the release of Lauren Carr’s mysteries in audiobook format, we have 14 books from her three series on tour!

 


To follow the tour and to read reviews, please visit Lauren Carr’s page on iRead Book Tours.Today we stop at
The Mac Faraday Mystery Series:
Buy the Audiobook ~ Book
Book Description:

Old loves die hard…and in the worst places.

In Old Loves Die Hard, Lauren Carr continues the rags-to-riches story of Mac Faraday, an underpaid homicide detective who inherits 270 million dollars and an estate on Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, from his birth mother on the day his divorce becomes final.

Mac is settling nicely into his new life at Spencer Manor when his ex-wife Christine shows up-and she wants him back! Before Mac can send her packing, Christine and her estranged lover are murdered in Mac’s private penthouse suite at the Spencer Inn, the five-star resort built by his ancestors.

The investigation leads to the discovery of cases files for some of Mac’s murder cases in the room of the man responsible for destroying his marriage. Why would his ex-wife’s lover come to Spencer to dig into Mac’s old cases?

With the help of his new friends on Deep Creek Lake, Mac must use all of his detective skills to clear his name and the Spencer Inn’s reputation, before its five-stars – and more bodies – start dropping!

Disclosure: Thanks to iread book tours for sending me this audio book for review. I was not told how to rate or review this product.

My thoughts:

This was my first MacFaraday novel, as well as the first novel by Lauren Carr. It is not the first book in the series, but I had absolutely no trouble following the plot, because all the characters are properly introduced, and their background is sufficiently explained, so I never felt that I missed something because I didn’t know the previous books, yet.

The story is a mystery until the very end; there are many twists and turns, and I never saw it coming. It was convincing, too. We have a great character-building here, the characters aren’t just black or white, but everything in between, most of them have something to hide, so we have lots of suspects.

I wasn’t too sure about the dog, it has a special ability which seemed odd, if not impossible, but then who knows what a well-trained, intelligent dog is capable of. I have since done a bit of research, and apparently it’s not all that abstract after all.  I absolutely loved the dog’s antics, in those moments,  he seemed to be one clever dog-like dog.

I’m now curious about the area, and I’d really love to see it for real one day. The story drew me in from the start, and kept me listening; and I look forward to listening to others in that series.

I only really just noticed the cover (I’m not a cover person), and I wonder if it could give a wrong impression. Let me assure you, that the author doesn’t dwell on all the gory details of the bloody murders here committed, and although there is some romance, it’s not at all taking place between linen sheets.

The narration was good and easy to listen to. Although there isn’t much in the way of different timbres, dialects, or accents, and all the characters sounded more or less alike to me, I didn’t really have problems following who said what, so there must have been variations after all, but they certainly weren’t overdone.

I already told you how the interview came about in a previous blog post, and here it is now:

Interview with narrator James C. Lewis (see more below):

How do you prepare for accents and different characters?

 

Once I was narrating a book of 19th century preachers in Wales. One of them was from Cynghordy, a village in the rural community of Llanfair-ar-y-bryn in Carmarhenshire. Oh my! I went to my usual sources: You Tube and several web sites. Finally I called Spire Hospital in Cardiff, the capital. (I have a phone plan that costs only one cent per minute for international calls.) But they were too busy saving lives and hung up on me. Then I phoned up the newspaper, the South Wales Argus in Cardiff. The young reporter thought I was joking. But I convinced him I was on the level. And he helped me right away! I think that my decidedly American accent may have helped.

 

Are there any genres you prefer narrating?

 

I have a fondness for crime fiction and spy dramas. I come from a journalism background. At one time, I was a police reporter in Seattle and I came to deeply respect cops and their emotionally taxing jobs. And I enjoy being the voice of the tall tough-talking private detective with the snazzy girlfriend. (I’m not very tall. But please keep that information just between us.)

 

Will you narrate any book if the conditions are right?

 

I have narrated a wide range of books but not erotica. But I’ve narrated some horror fiction with really creepy monsters. (They’re actually the best!)

What is the hardest part of narrating a book?

 

The hardest part is finding the voice of the character. Is the character old, young, angry, happy, educated, ignorant? And of course where are they from. I find that evil characters from Eastern Europe are the easiest to do. And it’s hard being confined to a small studio by myself (other than the character’s voices).

 

How is the work with the author?

 

I really like Lauren Carr’s work. Being the voice of Mac Faraday is great fun. Lauren writes for the ear as well as the eye. She would be a great screen writer. (And she’s wonderful to work with!)

I’d like to thank Mr Lewis for answering my questions, and Laura Fabiani from iread book tours for managing it all.

Meet the Author:

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Lauren Carr

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with LaurenWebsite  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

Meet the Narrator:

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Another Audible Approved narrator, voice actor  James Lewis has established a solid reputation in fiction as well as non-ficton audiobooks. At latest count, he’s narrated nearly 50.

Although his specialty is noir fiction, James has done several non-fiction books as well on a range of people and subjects: Butch and Sundance, General Custer, Revolutionary War, psychic development, taxes.

James Lewis has been awarded the AudioFile Earphone Award for narration, „The Last Outlaws“. It’s about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

 

Coming up: Review of Old Loves Die Hard / Interview with James Lewis

 

As part of Lauren Carr’s  Audiobook-a-palooza Blog Tour, I volunteered to listen to two of her mysteries: an early one (Old Loves Die Hard), and a more recent one (The Murders at Astaire Castle). Plus, I applied for an interview with one of the narrators. Now, I’ve never done an interview before, so I wasn’t sure what questions to ask. After all, the goal is, to ask interesting questions. In the application form, I typed a few in off the top of my head, intending to deliberate in an email — which I never wrote, because I was just so consumed in all to do with my moving house and all that entails.

So, Laura from iread booktours and James C. lewis had only the original questions to work with, and they did a great job — much better than what I did. My review of Old Loves Die Hard and the interview will be part of the above mentioned Blog tour on May 11.

For information and the schedule of the whole tour look here.  There’ll be reviews,  interviews with other narrators, give-aways, and more.

So,mark the date and place: May 11, here on this blog.

Review: Yellow-billed Magpie by Nancy Schoellkopf

Nancy Schoellkopf: Yellow-billed Magpie; Butterfly Tree Productions, 204 p.,

Book Description for Yellow-billed Magpie:

 

Unlike their black-billed cousins, yellow-billed magpies are rarely found outside California’s central valley. So when they begin showing up in Samantha O’Malley’s dreams, she wonders: are they calling me home?

 

Disappointed by failed fertility treatments and the break-up of her marriage, Samantha returns to her home town and slips into old habits, resuming her teaching career, even hooking up with an old lover. But she also renews her friendship with Craig, the school custodian she honors as her spiritual guide. The work they do together with Samantha’s special education students will lead her to discoveries she never thought possible.

 

Yellow-billed Magpie is a love story, a spiritual journey, a quest to look beyond appearances to the mystical rhythms that guide the human heart.

 

Buy the book:   Amazon  ~  Add to Goodreads

My thoughts:

When I browsed the iread book tours for available books, I came across Red-tailed Hawk by Nancy Schoellkopf. The synopsis sounded interesting, and since it was hinted that, though not a sequel, it was in a way related to Yellow-billed Magpie, I decided, to review this, too.

Now, I’m not into this whole esoteric business, and I haven’t actually researched spirituality, but  the latter fascinates me. I read Mutant Message Down Under all those years ago, and I devoured the Inspector Shan Tao Yun novels. All describe spiritual peoples of a very different origin, and I’m awed by this.

In Yellow-billed Magpie, there is yet another form of spirituality described, and although I cannot really comprehend it, it is yet fascinating. I couldn’t find out on which people’s spirituality the one in the book is based on, my feeling was, that it was a mixture of various.

The spiritual journey Samantha does, isn’t lying at the fore for a long time. The main story is about her trying to pick up her life where she left it before her marriage, and how she is coping.

We get glimpses of something indefinable throughout the book, but it is only when Craig appears on the scene that things start to take shape.

I have to admit, that although I’m convinced that there are more things between heaven and earth than we can explain scientifically, I couldn’t quite buy into some of the things described here. This may be due to my lack of religious belief on the one hand, and ignorance of the whole matter on the other hand. However, this being fiction, I am willing to accept it, because I have no problems accepting lots of  impossible (to me) things in fantasy and science fiction novels.

On the whole, this was a nice story about a woman finding her way after having lived through some unhappy years, and glimpses into the work with children with special needs to boot.

The language is simple and very readable, the book could do with some editing, though, there are missing or wrong words and punctuation.

Disclosure: Thanks to iread book tours for sending me this book for review. I was not told how to rate or review this product.

 About the author:

Nancy Schoellkopf is the author of Yellow-billed Magpie, the first in her Easter Family series. Nancy has been telling stories and writing poems for many lifetimes. It goes without saying that she’d need a second income, so this time around she has happily taught amazing children in special education classes in two urban school districts in Sacramento, California. A full time writer now, she enjoys lavishing attention on her cats, her garden, and her intriguing circle of family and friends.

 

Connect with the author:    Website  ~   Twitter  ~   Facebook

Blogtour: Lizzis letzter Tango von Anja Marschall

 

Anja Marschall: Lizzis letzter Tango; ATB; ebook, 255 S., €7,99
Anja Marschall: Lizzis letzter Tango; ATB; ebook, 255 S., €7,99

 

Im Buch wird das Thema der Altersarmut mit Humor und Witz angegangen, aber die Realität sieht doch anders aus. Je nachdem wo man guckt, wird es kräftig heruntergespielt, oder vielleicht auch übertrieben. Die Berliner Zeitung vom August letzten Jahres zum Beispiel erzählt uns praktisch, dass das ja alles gar kein Thema ist, und dass es den Rentnern im Schnitt besser geht als noch vor fünf Jahren. Sie spricht gar von einer ‚Seniorenlobby‘ — seit wann haben die Senioren eine Lobby hier im Land? Zum Schluss räumt die Zeitung dann ein, dass sich die Situation für meine Generation und jünger ab 2030 drastisch verschlechtern wird. Also was nun?

Die genauen Daten kann man übrigens auf der Seite des statistischen Bundesamtes nachlesen. Man kann es aber auch — wenn man, wie ich, über 50 ist — der jährlichen Rentenauskunft entnehmen, die man zugeschickt bekommt. Da sieht man, dass die voraussichtliche Rente von Jahr zu Jahr geringer wird. Leider kann ich das Anschreiben nicht mehr finden, aber darin hieß es lapidar, dass die Menschen hierzulande immer länger leben, und dass daher die Rente geringer ausfallen wird als noch letztes Jahr prognostiziert. Von dem bisschen, was sie einem zugestehen, muss man natürlich noch Steuern, Kranken- und Pflegeversicherung bezahlen.

Je nach Versicherungsverlauf fällt das höher oder niedriger aus — und da Frauen oft immer noch zu Hause bleiben und die Kinder großziehen, oder sich als schlechtverdienende Alleinerziehende in Teilzeitjobs durchschlagen, ist deren voraussichtliche Rente sehr gering. Denen bleibt dann vermutlich nichts anderes übrig, als der Gang zum Sozialamt, um die sogenannte Grundsicherung zu beantragen — ein Schicksal, das auch mich erwarten wird.

Dafür dürfen wir dann aber ein paar Jahre länger arbeiten, je nach Geburtsjahr bis wir 67 sind.

Das Geld, das Lizzi gebunkert hatte, war tatsächlich kein Reichtum, aber die Summe würde mir sicherlich helfen, ein bisschen besser über die Runden zu kommen. Einen Platz in einer noblen Seniorenresidenz wie dieser könnte ich mir davon aber nicht leisten, es sei denn, ich erwartete, dass ich nach Rentenbeginn nur nach knapp zwei Jahre lebte, denn so ein Apartment wie Lizzi es hat, kostet ca € 2200 monatlich. Da kann ich lieber da wohnen bleiben, wo ich jetzt bin, auch wenn die schon wieder die Miete erhöht haben.

Solltet ihr noch jung sein, lasst euch eines sagen: sorgt vor für das Alter. Es kommt auch auf euch zu, und die Aussicht, weniger als das Existenzminimum zu bekommen, ist nicht erstrebenswert.

Frauen, lasst eure Männer zu Hause bleiben und die Kinder erziehen, sucht euch einen gut bezahlten Job, und sorgt für eure Rente vor, denn Bankräuber sind rar gesät.

Zu gewinnen gibt es natürlich auch was.

Beantwortet mir folgende Frage: Habt  ihr schon über eure Altersvorsorge nachgedacht und eventuell sogar Vorkehrungen getroffen?

(Da ich momentan nur über mobiles Internet mit schlechtem Signal verfüge, kann es ein bisschen dauern, bis eure Kommentare freigeschaltet werden)

Zu gewinnen gibt es:

3 Exemplare Taschenbuch “Lizzis letzter Tango”

3 Exemplare E-Book “Lizzis letzter Tango”

Teilnahmebedingungen:

Die Teilnahme am Gewinnspiel ist ab einem Alter von 18 Jahren möglich
Bei Minderjährigen ist die Teilnahme nur mit Erlaubnis der Erziehungs-/Sorgeberechtigten möglich
Der Versand der Gewinne erfolgt nur innerhalb Deutschland, Österreich und Schweiz. Der Rechtsweg ist ausgeschlossen.
Für den Postversand wird keinerlei Haftung übernommen.
Eine Barauszahlung des Gewinns ist leider nicht möglich.
Als Teilnehmer erklärt man sich einverstanden, dass im Gewinnfall die Mailadresse/Adresse an die Autorin oder an den Verlag übersendet werden darf, und man als Gewinner öffentlich genannt werden darf.
Mehrfachbewerbungen durch verschiedene Vornamen, Nachnamen, Emailadressen oder Pseudonym sind unzulässig und werden bei der Auslosung ausgeschlossen.
Das Gewinnspiel wird durch den Blog Sabine Ibing durchgeführt.
Das Gewinnspiel beginnt am 16.05.2016 um 00:01 Uhr und endet am 22.05.2016 um 23:59 Uhr

Hier sind noch mal alle Stationen  der Blogtour:

 

Blogtour: Lizzis letzter Tango

16.05. – Buch Bria mit Vorstellung des Buches
17.05. – Blätterflüstern mit Altersarmut in einem reichen Land?
18.05. – Ira Ebner mit Unkonventionelle Menschen, was unterscheidet sie von anderen?
19.05. – Chrissisbuntelesecouch mit Jeder ist seines Glückes Schmied. — Scheint entfallen zu sein.
20.05 – Dieter Paul Rudolph mit Im Alter arbeiten müssen… manch einer MUSS das, ein anderer freut sich.
21.05 – Sabine Ibing mit Interview mit Anja Marschall
22.05. – Sabine Ibing – Verlosung