Monday, March 19, 2018

Caramels with a Side of Murder ~ ~ Audio Book Blog Tour, Audio Excerpt, & Review!

Narrator: Lisa Beacom
Released: January 25, 2018
Genre: Cozy Mystery

Sabrina Daley's world is turned upside down when a local psychic predicts that her missing sister will be found.

Unfortunately, the psychic, Miss Terri, is unable to provide any further details.

Desperate for something more to work with, Sabrina shows up at Miss Terri's house the next day, ready to beg for another psychic reading. Instead, Sabrina finds Miss Terri's lifeless body.

So when the local police have trouble solving Terri's murder, Sabrina sets out to bring the psychic's killer to justice before they strike again.


Meredith Potts loves corgis, cupcakes, and captivating books. Her mysteries usually feature all three. 

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Narrator Bio

Lisa Beacom lives in Chicago, Illinois, and narrates books in all genres.

HALL WAYS REVIEW: 3.5 Stars. Audio book review. Caramels with a Side of Murder is the second installment of the Daley Buzz Cozy Mystery series by Meredith Potts, and like the first book, I was drawn to the setting: it’s set around a coffee shop, The Daley Buzz, and located in Treasure Cove, a seaside town. Plus, the book cover is cute and enticing – though sadly, neither the caramels nor the corgi makes much of an appearance in the story.

There is comfort when a reader returns to a well-known place.  For readers who enjoy a series in which each book follows the same structure and formula, the Daley Buzz cozies are for you. Treasure Cove is a small town (albeit with an alarming murder rate) and our core group of characters is back – and main character Sabrina must make some amends with some of them for false accusations and abrasive behavior in trying to solve the town’s last murder mystery. But look out if you are in her sights as a suspect in the latest murder – in Sabrina and her policeman boyfriend’s book, you are guilty until proven innocent, and you will be harassed until the real murderer is found.

Readers will get to know some of the characters a little better, including Sabrina’s mother, Elizabeth (strangely, she’s called “Elizabeth” by her daughter and that’s not ever explained). I found myself chuckling and nodding in agreement with Elizabeth’s way of thinking, and of course, this line sealed the deal:

"One thing I'm not going to do at my age is waste calories on mediocre chocolate."

We also get to know Sabrina’s best friend Shannon a bit better, but I am on the fence as to how I feel about her. She comes off sounding like a weenie at times, but the reason behind her indecisiveness about which man to pick is an interesting one. Shannon adds an extra layer to the story and gives readers a lighthearted break from Sabrina’s amateur sleuthing.  

If you read my review of book one, Chocolateswith a Side of Murder, I mentioned that what made me decide to stick with the series were two sub-plots that really piqued my curiosity: the mysteries of main character Sabrina’s ten+ years missing sister and the goings-on at the Waterson estate. It’s clear that the author is intentionally keeping these story lines in the background to move them forward in each of the series installments (I believe there are ten books now). Caramels starts off promising with another sighting at the mansion and Sabrina getting information about her sister from a psychic, but it is like the check-boxes are completed, and those lines are not revisited. There’s also a third story going on in the background: what’s going on with the men’s only secret meetings?  Unfortunately, two books in, readers are no closer to knowing anything more about any of these sub-plots, and since I’m not overly fond of the main character, that’s probably going to be a deal breaker for me in continuing the series. On the plus side, since no substantial or new information is presented, it makes Caramels work as a stand-alone, so readers can start with book two and not be much out of the loop.

The writing suffers a bit again because of limited and repeated word and phrase use, unnatural, cookie-cutter descriptions of the characters, and asking the readers to unreasonably suspend their disbelief in terms of police procedures. (And I laughed out loud when Sabrina, who is running a small business, was suspicious of someone working late and said, “I can't remember the last time I was there two hours after close of business." I can't remember the last time I didn't work at least two hours extra!) As I haven’t read a print copy of the book, I can’t be certain if it’s the text or the narrator, but my ear caught some agreement errors and incorrect word choices, so it may be there is also need of some additional proofreading in the print.

The narration of Caramels with a Side of Murder is performed by Lisa Beacom, and this is one place where there is a huge improvement over book one in the series. Lisa’s voice is similar enough to the first narrator’s that listeners aren’t jarred by the change, but she’s infinitely better. Apart from pronouncing the word “caramels” as “carmels” in the first thirty seconds, her narration is fabulous. She has a perfect rhythm to her reading and voices the various characters so that each has his or her own marker.

The basic murder mystery is good and there are plenty of places where readers are misled, so it’s tough to figure out the whodunit part of the mystery. For that and for the sub-plots, I would recommend patient cozy-mystery lovers give the series a try as what bothers me might not be an issue for others. Even if it’s not for me, Caramels with a side of Murder just might be your cup of coffee.

Thank you to Audiobookworm Promotions for providing me an audio download in exchange for my honest review – the only kind I give. 

Book Two

Mar. 15th:

Jazzy Book Reviews

What Is That Book About

Mar. 16th:

2 Girls and A Book

Mar. 17th:

Turning Another Page

Mar. 18th:

Book Lovers Life

T's Stuff

Mar. 19th:

Angel's Guilty Pleasures

Hall Ways Blog

Book Lover in Florida

Mar. 20th:


The Cozy Pages

Mar. 21st:

The Book Addict's Reviews

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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Looking Glass Friends

Neve, E.L. (2017). Looking Glass Friends. 

Adult / Literary Fiction / Romance


About the Book: CAN OUR SOULS FALL IN LOVE...BEFORE OUR BODIES MEET? They fell in love over email, discussing Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged. Neither remembered the other’s face clearly. Both were married already. And she had a five-year-old son. But in the span of a few letters each discovered his soul's mirror image. So how could they live apart? Woven with poetry and philosophy this is a story about the nature of love, its enchantment or curse, and the heartbreaking question: Can a mother secure her child’s happiness by sacrificing hers?

HALL WAYS REVIEW: Audio Book Review. Listening to Looking Glass Friends by E.L. Neve was a dreamy experience. The narration, performed by the author was delightful; her voice is ethereal and makes the reader feel transported into the romance and escape of main character Faye’s newly found relationship.  The voicing of characters doesn’t dramatically change from character to character, though as the story progresses, listeners may notice some subtle changes: Jake gets smarmier, Johnny sounds young. Annabella, one of my favorite characters, is the exception and has a definitive southern accent that is well-done.

“She had known that she was glazing a lie with a tint of half-truth.”

It is interesting that readers can hear/see what each of characters Neil and Ellie are thinking on opposite sides of the computer while they are emailing each other. (Yes, emailing! Not texting, not IMing, not SnapChatting. It is 1997, folks, and I love it there.) Listening to the story had me remembering when I met my husband, and the excitement of seeing an email from him in my inbox, the constant thinking and re-thinking of our last exchanges, and how I printed the emails so I could re-visit them without using the dial-up modem. (Ha! I am old!) Ellie speaks of the “soul-lifting emails” from another person who was so much like her. I could relate. Perhaps it is also my own experience of a different time, in my life before I met my husband, that makes me struggle a little. Even though I was pulling for Neil and Ellie, to me, their emotional involvement counts as infidelity because each is giving something to the other that isn’t being given to their respective spouses. It is complicated, and they each feel pangs of guilt and know they are wrong, but they convince themselves that keeping their relationship to email is okay; one even says, “Their effect on each other's spirit was too great to allow their bodies to meet.” They know they are playing with fire – which makes it all the more delicious.

“The winds of change were steering the heavy branch.

Author E.L. Neve’s writing is philosophical, lovely, and descriptive and perfectly sets the moods – at times melancholy and other times joyful.  Her characters are complex and fleshed-out so that readers get a sense of knowing them.  As I said earlier, my favorite character was the colorful character of Annabella, who is someone I think I would seek out on a regular basis. I must share a few of her fabulous sayings:
… as confused as a fart in a fan factory 
… cold enough to freeze the balls off a pool table
... It sticks in my throat like a hair in a biscuit.
Annabella provides some much-needed perspectives to our main character and some equally much-needed comic relief when the story feels heavy and hopeless.

I still would like to re-visit this story in print so that I can better absorb and ponder the bigger questions it poses about the very essence of love and happiness and the costs of finding and keeping it.

I highly recommend the audio book, which clocks-in at just under six hours (and for once, I listened at regular speed). Thank you to the author for providing me a free download in exchange for my honest opinion – 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 love story, Looking Glass Friends, was published under E. L. Neve, an anagrammatic tribute to the real letters which inspired the novel. Her middle grade fantasy, The Sound and the Echoes, was published under Dew Pellucid (Tal being the Hebrew word for Dew). The novel was a 2013 Juvenile Fiction Finalist in the National Indie Excellence Awards, and an Honorable Mention recipient in the 2012 Los Angeles Book Festival. Her production of Looking Glass Friends is her first foray into the world of audio books.


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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Condition, Book Two ~ ~ Audio Book Blog Tour, Review, & Giveaway!

Length: 6 hours 39 minutes
Publisher: Essential Music Limited2018
Genre: Science Fiction / Dystopian / Speculative
Series: The Condition Trilogy, Book 2
Release date: Jan. 17, 2018

The second in a dystopian trilogy based on the author's command of a top secret government unit.

Discovering an infamous Nazi doctor conducted abortions in Argentina after the Second World War may not come as a surprise, but why was the twisted eugenicist not only allowed to continue his evil experiments but encouraged to do so? And what has that got to do with a respected neurologist in 2027? Surely, the invention of a cure for nearly all the world's ailments can't possibly have its roots buried in the horrors of Auschwitz?

The unacceptable is about to become the disturbingly bizarre. What has the treatment's "correction" of pedophiles got to do with the president of the United States, the pope, and even the UK's Green Party?

As if the Condition trilogy wasn't unsettling enough....


Alec Birri served thirty years with the UK Armed Forces. He commanded an operational unit that experimented in new military capabilities classified at the highest level (Top Secret Strap 3) and it is this that forms the basis of his novels. Although semi-autobiographical, for national security and personal liberty reasons, the events and individuals portrayed have to be fiction but are still nonetheless in keeping with his experiences.


Narrator Bio

If you regularly enjoy listening to audiobooks then this Shakespearean actor will need no introduction. Winner of a 2016 SOVAS award, Jonathan’s voice is rightly recognized as being one of the best, and his narration of The Condition Trilogy is no exception.


HALL WAYS REVIEW: Audio book review.   WOW...there's A LOT going on in Condition: The Curing Begins, the second book in The Condition series. I didn't want to miss a thing, so I listened to it straight through in a day. As it was with book one, it served me well not to read the description because the surprise element was next-level. Though I had a little trouble getting oriented to this book, the premise(s) kept me glued to the story.

There is a slow but engrossing main build in The Curing Begins, but there are also several other sub-plots that wind their way throughout the book and give readers much to ponder. There are considerable religious implications, which I wish had been further explored and characters’ rationales better explained, particularly with the Argentinian Padre. I wondered how such a devout man could be led so far astray – but people being led astray is part of the very essence of this book.

"As long as people think struggling through life as an obedient slave will eventually be rewarded, one person can control millions."

If you look at the cover and read the book jacket, it’s no surprise that the Nazis rear their ugly head in the story.  There are some interesting discussions between characters about the higher purpose of Nazi experimentation and politics. At times, this felt more like an opportunity for platforming than genuine discourse. There are some holes and some character thoughts and actions that don’t add up, but again, the subject matter is fascinating.  The only thing I really didn’t like in part one was the insta-love/romance. The connection between these characters is necessary but could have been handled better and differently to be more feasible.   

About three and a half hours into the book, readers are taken back to just a few months after where book one left off, and those characters are reintroduced. In part two, we leap from the 1970s to 2027 and must reacquaint ourselves with that setting. Scenes are sometimes confusing because it’s difficult to tell whether character experiences are real or virtual…or, are their virtual experiences the new reality? Author Alec Birri is intentional here, I think, to keep readers in the same mindset as the characters -- where lines between reality and virtual reality are blurred. There continue to be some plot holes and situations where the level of suspension of disbelief is pushing the limits.

Jonathan Keeble returns to narrate book two, and again, is exceptional in his performances. He deftly handles all the voices, male and female, and all the accents. He brings life to the characters by projecting the nuances of the characters’ personalities. It is apparent he spent time studying the character profiles. I caught a few small oddities in pronunciations this time around, and the initial narration of the American president is cringe-worthy --even for a cringe-worthy character. Thankfully, that accent mellowed a bit and ended up working better. Overall, outstanding narration. I am a solid fan.

The difference between good and evil is often in the eye of the beholder.

By the end of The Curing Begins, almost all the early questions are answered/resolved, and the reader feels uncomfortable and unsettled by the implications and applications of medical and technological advances. The “revelation” at the end is jaw-dropping – I was downloading book three, The Final Correction, within minutes of finishing book two. This series has utterly consumed me.

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


Giveaway: $100 Amazon Gift Card

Runs March 6th-27th⎮Open internationally

The Condition Trilogy Giveaway: $100 Amazon Gift Card

Book Two

Mar. 13th:

Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews

Mar. 14th:


Mar. 15th:

The Writing Train


Mar. 16th:


Mar. 17th:

Hall Ways Blog

Mar. 18th:

Bound 4 Escape

Jazzy Book Reviews

Mar. 19th:

The Book Addict's Reviews

Buried Under Books

Bookworms Corner Blog Spot

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Carolyn M. Walker, Fiction Author

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Hall Ways Review Coming 3/22/18!