Thursday, April 30, 2020

Gabe’s Guardian Angel (+ Giveaway)

I am honored to welcome author Beverly Stowe McClure to Thoughts in Progress today to celebrate her latest release, GABE’S GUARDIAN ANGEL.

If you’d like to learn more about the book (and the author) you can follow along on Beverly’s virtual Blog Tour at MCBook Tours. The author is offering a tour-wide giveaway. More information on the giveaway is listed below.

by Beverly Stowe McClure
* Paperback: 214 pages
* Publisher: Freedom Fox Press
* Language: English
* ISBN-10: 1939844665
* ISBN-13: 978-1939844668

Gabe Montana is clumsy. He's overweight, and he's dyslexic. Worse yet, the bullies make his fifteen-year-old life even more miserable-so miserable he wants to die.

Charley, his guardian angel, says no to that idea and comes up with a different plan. He'll give Gabe self-confidence so he can solve his problems, not run away from them. But Gabe wonders why the angel doesn't just help with the bullies. What's with this self-confidence stuff?

Can Charley help Gabe stand on his own two feet? Will Gabe give up hope life can improve for him? Or will he finally listen to the angel's advice?

GABE'S GUARDIAN ANGEL is available at the following sites:

Now for my thoughts on this moving story.

Author Beverly Stowe McClure has crafted an inspiring story for teenagers (as well as adults) who are struggling with bullies and/or low self-esteem.

This is a story that deals with 15-year-old Gabe Montana who is bullied at school, has a weight problem, is dyslexic, and a bit clumsy. To add to Gabe’s woes, his mother is deceased, his father is gone, and he and sister are living with his grandfather. The pressures build-up to the point Gabe considers suicide. The Guardian Angel Charley intercedes giving Gabe a second chance.

The story tells of the stress and burdens teens can feel from their peers. The author weaves the story as to put the reader into the emotions of the characters. She makes the characters plausible drawing you in to cheer the protagonist on and even have compassion for the bullies.

The story flows smoothly as you navigate the pitfalls and troubles of Gabe and teens like him. The author blends despair and hope, failure and triumphs with a good dose of inspiration for a well-balanced tale. This is a story of encouragement for youth, as well as a way to help adults better understand the perils of teens and the cruelty they can inflict.

Author Beverly Stowe McClure
For those who aren’t familiar with the author, here’s a bit of background on her.

Most of the time, you’ll find Award-Winning Author Beverly Stowe McClure at her computer, typing stories young voices whisper in her ears. When she’s not writing, she’s snapping pictures of wildlife, flowers, and clouds.

She’s affectionately known as the “Bug Lady.” She’s not telling why. To relax she plays the piano. Her fur babies don’t appreciate good music and hide when she tickles the ivories.

Beverly is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She also teaches a women’s Sunday school class at her church.


Author Beverly Stowe McClure is giving away one print copy of GABE’S GUARDIAN ANGEL to a lucky US winner.

To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. If the widget doesn’t show up, just click HERE and you’ll be directed to the widget.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to follow Beverly on her week-long tour HERE. You never know what you might find out. Do you remember what it was like as a teen and the pressures from your peers? Was there a bully or a group of bullies in your class that seemed to pick on the weaker/shyer students?

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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Murder, Just Because (+ Giveaway)

I am beyond thrilled to welcome author Yolanda Renee to Thoughts in Progress today so we can talk about her latest release, MURDER, JUST BECAUSE.

This mesmerizing thriller is the fifth installment in the author’s Detective Quaid Mysteries series. If you’d like to learn more about the book (and the author) you can follow along on her virtual Blog Tour at MCBook Tours.

The author is offering an awesome tour-wide international giveaway. More information on the giveaway is listed below.

by Yolanda Renée
◊ Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
◊ Publisher: Yolanda Renee
◊ Series: Detective Quaid Mysteries
◊ Paperback: 291 pages
◊ Print & eBooks
◊ ISBN-10: 0985820632
◊ ISBN-13: 978-0985820633
◊ Contains explicit sex & graphic violence
"While this book does contain explicit sexual language and graphic violence, it could easily be taken from the daily headlines. The content is plausible and realistic as we look at the world around us. The events in the book are not overly done but give a pragmatic look at the terrifying actions killers can and sometimes do take."

It was a matter of beginner’s luck, but rookie detective Steven Quaid’s career and reputation as an elite investigator skyrocketed when he captured one of the most sadistic serial killers in Alaskan history: Stowy Jenkins, AKA the Snowman. But that was ten years ago.

And now…Jenkins is back. Escaped from prison and on the move, his bloodlust is stronger than ever, and his methods of torture are even more horrifying than before. As his bloody rampage continues and the number of mutilated bodies mounts, terrified Alaskans increasingly doubt Quaid’s ability to catch the killer again. The detective’s reputation is on the line, and he’s going to need a lot more than luck, because this time, Jenkins is driven by more than the thrill of a random kill.

This time, it’s more personal. He’s out for revenge…and his ultimate target is Quaid. In a deadly game of cat-and-mouse, Jenkins starts picking off the people in Quaid’s life…slowly, gradually tightening his circle of corpses and drawing ever closer to the most important person in Quaid’s life...his wife. Can Quaid do the impossible again? Can he outmaneuver the killer, or has the detective's luck finally run out?

Now I’d like to share my thoughts on this captivating story.

While we are faced with a real global pandemic the likes of which might have been envisioned by Stephen King or the late Michael Crichton, we can still enjoy a gripping murder mystery.

Events throughout MURDER, JUST BECAUSE easily relate to daily real-world headlines where a killer preys on unsuspecting victims. The author does an excellent job of putting the reader in the middle of the action. Her vivid descriptions can cause the readers to feel the emotions of the events for both the victims and the killer, as well as the detective.

The story moves at a good pace holding your attention from beginning to the chilling end. The author blends bits of humor and touches of romance throughout the story giving readers a chance to catch their breath before the next surprise. The rich details of the setting bring the story to life and paints a beautiful picture of the area as the tale unfolds.

MURDER, JUST BECAUSE reminded me there are monsters in the real world and how easy it is for them to target people (especially women) even when we think we’re being careful. This story is violent, graphic, and terrifying but not overly done. While it may not be a read for everyone, it will be an eye-opener for those who do. All the elements included are necessary and make for a realistic, heart-pounding story. It will keep you on the edge of your seat holding your breath as you anticipate the next move.

This story is one of those you don’t want to read at night when you are alone, but you can’t put it down because you are drawn into it. You can’t stop yourself as you say, ‘just one more page’ or ‘just one more chapter’ hoping to see who wins – killer or detective.

Author Yolanda Renee
For those who aren’t familiar with the author, here’s a bit of background on her in her own words.

At one time Alaska called to me, and I answered. I learned to sleep under the midnight sun, survive in below zero temperatures, and hike the Mountain Ranges. I’ve traveled from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, and the memories are some of my most valued. The wonders, mysteries, and incredible beauty that is Alaska has never left me and thus now influences my writing.
Despite my adventurous spirit, I achieved my educational goals, married, and I have two handsome sons. Writing is now my focus, my newest adventure!

For more on Yolanda and her writing, you can connect with her here:
Blog    *     Facebook     *     Twitter     *     Pinterest     *     Email


This tour-wide giveaway is for a complete set of the Detective Quaid Mystery series books for one winner, paperback copies of MURDER, JUST BECAUSE for five winners, and a Kindle copy of MURDER, JUST BECAUSE for 10 winners.

To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. If the widget doesn’t show up, just click HERE and you’ll be directed to the widget.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to follow Yolanda on her month-long tour HERE. You never know what you might find out. Have you ever found a book that you liked so much you didn’t want to stop reading but at the same time it made you so scared you couldn’t read it when you were alone or at night?

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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Easter Hair Hunt by Nancy J. Cohen

This is another review that I have been remiss in sharing with you. Again, it had nothing to do with the book – I thoroughly enjoyed it and this series.

* Series: The Bad Hair Day Mysteries (Book 16)
* Paperback: 302 pages
* Publisher: Orange Grove Press (March 10, 2020)
* Language: English
* ISBN-10: 0999793276
* ISBN-13: 978-0999793275

While the Easter holiday has already been observed this year, the mere mention of it suggests many things to different people. One of the major fun icons of the holiday is the Easter Bunny.

Author Nancy J. Cohen has crafted an intriguing and zany way to feature the Easter Bunny in her latest cozy murder mystery, EASTER HAIR HUNT.

Hairstylist Marla Vail has to put her amateur sleuthing skills to work when she discovers a dead man in an Easter Bunny costume with a stolen Faberge egg nearby. To compound the mystery Marla’s client, Blinky was supposed to be wearing that costume and is now nowhere to be found. This all takes place on a wealthy estate, Tremayne Manor, where there is much more going on than meets the eye.

Despite being seven months pregnant, Marla can’t help but get involved in the case. She provides some useful assistance to her detective husband, Dalton.

As the plot thickens and the case unfolds, Marla and Dalton still find a way to share quality time with each other and their family. With the Easter holiday to celebrate, Marla cooks for her family providing some delicious recipes for readers to try. As Marla’s family core evolves, the characters grow and develop creating a bonding relationship with readers.

The author once again gives readers a tantalizing murder mystery to solve while renewing acquaintances with her delightful characters. The book is the 16th installment in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries but can be read on its own without leaving readers in the dark.

The story moves at a good pace and holds your attention to the very end. The characters are well developed, a bit quirky, and might remind you of real people you know. The plot will draw you in and could have you grinning a few times before the end.

This story will fill you reading basket with entertainment, charming characters, plot twists, tasty recipes, and a cozy murder mystery to solve.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you enjoy holiday-themed stores? Have you read any of the Bad Hair Day Mysteries? Ladies, isn’t that a great name for a series?

Receiving a complimentary copy of this book did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

Monday, April 27, 2020

One-Of-A-Kind Bride (+ Giveaway)

It’s a pleasure today to be participating in author Charlene Sands' ONE-OF-A-KIND BRIDE Blog Tour.

There is an awesome giveaway with this tour. Please see the details at the end of this post. Now for a brief synopsis of the book.

It’s a promise she plans to keep at all costs.
Taylor Preston never breaks a promise, especially to her dying mother about following her dreams to become a successful New York bridal gown designer. But when Taylor unexpectedly loses her high-profile job, she returns early to Last Stand, Texas where she happily spent childhood summers, to help with her cousin’s wedding. On Taylor’s first day back, the boy she left behind twelve years ago comes to her rescue and her sleeping heart inconveniently reawakens.
          All during their youth, Ryan “Coop” Cooper played Taylor’s “promise game,” and they never once broke a promise to each other, but that was years ago, and Coop, now an established contractor, isn’t the same person. Building a wedding gift she-shed brings Coop closer to Taylor. They recall their promises – silly and solemn – and realize the spark could easily once again flame.
          But Taylor’s life is in New York, and Coop, a single father, won’t risk his heart or his daughter’s again…

ONE-OF-A-KIND BRIDE is available for purchase at the following sites:

Barnes & Noble:

Here’s an excerpt from the book for your reading pleasure.

Wedding gown blues--meeting Coop again after twelve long years…
“No, Muffy!  No.  Come back! Muffy, Muffy.”
          The little tyrant didn’t hesitate, not even for a second. By the time Taylor made it to the door, the pup was zipping down the street.
          Taylor had no choice. She didn’t have a second to spare as Julie’s words echoed in her ears.
When she takes off, she’s too excited to know where the heck she is. 
Taylor couldn’t lose Muffy or heaven forbid, have something happen to her.  She lifted the hem of her dress, and flew down the steps, racing as fast as her legs and French taffeta would let her.  Luckily the dog was in sight, but she didn’t know for how long, Muffy was lengthening her lead.  “Stop Muffy! Stop!”
The dog raced in the opposite direction of town, to where the street became a country road. Her heart pounded, her breath came in short quick spurts.  She was losing ground. The dog was getting away. She picked up her pace, fighting dirt clods and hopping over potholes in the road. 
Just then, a shiny red pick-up truck came up behind her. She untangled the veil from her face as the truck slowed and she glanced into the cab, hoping for a miracle.  
And found a handsome, Stetson-wearing man, checking her out from the very top of her lace veil to the hand-stitched hem of her skirt, and everywhere in between.  He did a double take, then his lips lifted in a definite smirk. 
If she wasn’t entirely certain who the blue-eyed guy was, the logo on the side door gave it away.
Cooper Construction.
Her heart did a little flip and her throat locked up good and tight.  Ryan “Coop” Cooper was so not her miracle. Yet he looked better than her own crazy daydreams.   
“Hey Taylor,” he drawled slow and easy like.  “What poor guy are you running away from this

Author Charlene Sands
Now for those who aren’t familiar with the author, here’s a bit of background on her.

Charlene Sands is a USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary and western romance. She's been honored with the National Readers Choice Award, twice recipient of the Booksellers Best Award and RT Magazine's Best Harlequin Desire of 2014!   

Charlene knows a little something about romance. After daydreaming about the cute boy with the long blonde hair and dazzling blue eyes two lockers down from her in high school, to her amazement he asked her out on a date. And he's been continually amazing her for the past forty years.

Charlene's perfect day includes reading, drinking mocha Cappuccinos over ice, walking the Pacific beaches with her hubby or playing with her four adorable granddaughters. 

She loves hearing from her readers. You can connect with her at her website, on Facebook, on Twitter or at Goodreads.


There is an awesome giveaway for this tour. However, it is open to US shipping only. The prize pack include the following items:
       Brighton Bangle
       Brighton Jewelry Bag
       Tule Bookbag
       Body Lotion
       $10 Amazon Gift Card

To enter the giveaway just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. If the widget doesn’t show up, just click on the link HERE and it will take you to the widget where you can enter.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Doesn’t this sound like a fun story that would be interesting to watch as a movie?

Friday, April 24, 2020

Master Class by Christina Dalcher

I’m happy to welcome you here today to talk about the suspenseful new novel that examines a disturbing near-future where harsh realities follow from unreachable standards.

I’m talking about MASTER CLASS (Berkley Hardcover; April 21, 2020), the second speculative thriller by Christina Dalcher, author of the widely praised and chilling Vox (2019). In Vox, Christina imagined a near-future United States where women and girls were limited to speaking 100 words a day. In her second novel, the American eugenics movement has returned, and it will take the determination of one mother to stop it.

In MASTER CLASS, every individual carries a number: a Q score, assigned pre-birth based on a battery of tests and updated regularly by means of standardized testing. Score high enough and attend a top tier school with a golden future. Score too low, and it's off to a federal boarding school with limited prospects afterwards. The purpose? An improved society where education costs drop, teachers focus on the more promising students, and parents are happy.

When your child is taken from you.

Elena Fairchild is a teacher at one of the state's elite schools. When her nine-year-old daughter bombs a monthly test and her Q score drops to a disastrously low level, she is immediately forced to leave her top school for a federal institution hundreds of miles away. As a teacher, Elena thought she understood the tiered educational system, but as a mother whose child is now gone, Elena's perspective is changed forever. She just wants her daughter back.

And she will do the unthinkable to make it happen.

In order to be with Freddie, Elena immediately requests to transfer to the state school. To her horror, she learns that the children are receiving the bare minimum of instruction. What began as a shock quickly becomes a nightmare as Elena discovers the terrifying atrocities inflicted upon the students. Not only have their test scores been tampered with, but they’re also unwitting subjects of experiments, one of which tests a new method of chemical sterilization. The plan? To render all adolescents with undesirable quotients infertile...and Freddie may be next in line.

It’s impossible to know what you will do…

Author Christina Dalcher photo by Laurens Arenas
For those who aren’t familiar with the author, here is a bit of background on her.

Christina Dalcher earned her doctorate in theoretical linguistics from Georgetown University. She specializes in the phonetics of sound change in Italian and British dialects and has taught at several universities.

Her short stories and flash fiction appear in more than one hundred journals worldwide. Recognition includes first place for the Bath Flash Fiction Award, nominations for the Pushcart Prize, and multiple other awards.

She lives in Norfolk, Virginia, with her husband.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. What do you think about the Q score?

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Blood Lies by Andrew Cunningham

I’m delighted today to be participating in the Audiobook Tour for BLOOD LIES by Andrew Cunningham, the fifth installment in his Lies Mystery Series.

As part of the tour, sponsored by Audiobookworm Promotions, I’m sharing my thoughts on the audio and have a Q & A with the narrator, Greg Hernandez.

First, let’s hear from narrator Greg Hernandez. Please join me in giving Greg a warm welcome. Welcome, Greg.

When did you know you wanted to be an audiobook narrator?

In 2014 I was looking down the road toward retirement from my federal government job.  I knew I wanted to do something with voice over, but I didn’t want to go to an office.  I read the book, “More Than Just A Voice: The REAL Secret to Voiceover Success” by Dave Courvoisier.  The chapter on audiobooks was very intriguing.  I did some research and auditioned in late 2014.  I was ecstatic that I was selected quickly.  It’s been a great adventure and learning experience ever since that fateful day.

Did you find it difficult to “break into” audiobook narration? What skill/tool helped you the most when getting started?

I was a radio news reporter in my first career.  Being in front of a microphone was my comfort zone.  I was very glad that I got my first audiobook a few days after my audition.  It helped a lot that I worked with digital audio in 1987 when it was first introduced at ABC Radio News.  Those skills have worked in my favor as an independent narrator not working with a publisher.  Plus, I was an audio engineer when I was a student at Syracuse University working with analog audio.

A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career?

I believe it’s necessary to know a little about acting because that’s what narrating mysteries and thrillers is all about.  Through my first reviews, I learned that listeners want distinct character voices so that they know who’s speaking.  They don’t want to keep rewinding to keep up with character dialogue.  I’ve studied acting and taken acting classes in order to make the dialogue sound like a movie soundtrack.

How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for narrating?

Audiobook narration is like running a marathon.  You have to keep your voice in shape, and you have to maintain your energy level high throughout the whole book.  In my early narrations I’d sometimes have to re-record sections because the energy was flagging.  Now, I make it a point to maintain a constant energy just like a runner trying to keep up a steady pace.

Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?

I listen to hundreds of hours of audiobooks each year.  My favorites are biographies narrated by the author.  There’s nothing like hearing someone’s story as told by them.  I also love mysteries and thrillers.  I also am very picky about narrators.

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of narrating an audiobook?

I enjoy the whole process from narrating, editing and processing the audio for final production. Since I edit my own narrations, it’s my goal to make certain the audio is the best quality to give the listener a terrific experience. The only frustrating part of narrating is when I get a cold. That shuts down the whole process behind the microphone. That’s when I go into editing mode.

What would you say are your strongest narration abilities?

Over the past five years, I’ve made it a point to come up with distinct character voices. I don’t want them to sound over the top. I want them to sound like everyday people and believable. Some voices come naturally from the author’s words, and others take a little time to get the right cadence and inflection.

What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?

I have narrated six books by Andrew Cunningham. I haven’t auditioned for a book since 2015. Andrew and I have a great collaboration. I call him my director because he’ll let me know if I’ve gotten a character’s voice the way he envisioned it when he wrote the story. There are about four more books that Andrew wants me to narrate. This latest series allows me continue voicing the two main characters, Del and Sabrina, that I now consider my alter egos.

How closely do you prefer to work with authors?

I enjoy authors that listen closely to my narration and provide feedback. I’ve been fortunate to work with Andrew Cunningham on several books because he provides valuable input that makes my narration all the more real sounding. I get great satisfaction when an author says I’ve brought their book to life.

What types of things are harmful to your voice?

I try to narrate for no more than four hours at a stretch. Doing character voices can put a strain on the voice, too. Warm-up exercises are key to making sure my voice is ready for the session.

Greg, thank you for joining us today and sharing this insight as a narrator.

By Andrew Cunningham
* Narrator: Greg Hernandez
* Length: 6 hours 12 minutes
* Publisher: Andrew Cunningham2020
* Genre: Mystery/Thriller
* Series: Lies Mystery Thriller Series, Book 5
* Release date: March 17, 2020

          Gunned down on a busy Boston street, bestselling mystery author Sabrina Spencer is left clinging to life. Media speculation suggests a deranged fan as the shooter. But was Sabrina really the intended target?
          For Del Honeycutt, a chilling link emerges between Sabrina’s shooting and that of his father’s murder three years earlier. Discovering that his father was leading a secret life, he digs deeper, and the clues lead Del down a dangerous and deadly path.

BLOOD LIES is available on Audible.

Now for my thoughts on this audio.

This is a captivating murder mystery that moves at a steady pace with a few twists and turns along the way.

Narrator Greg Hernandez does a great job of bringing the characters to life, enhancing the story with unique voices for each. His tone and pace will hold your attention and adds depth to this tantalizing story.

This is the fifth installment in the series but can be read/listened to as a stand-alone. If you are new to the series, the author weaves enough background along the way so that it’s easy to keep up and you’re not lost wondering who is who or what they are talking about.

The flow of the story pulls you in as the author intertwines a tale of spies, murder, and intrigue blended with touches of love and humor. The characters are well developed with qualities readers/listeners can relate to.

This is an entertaining mystery that is perfect for an afternoon of getting lost in a world of secrets and mayhem.

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

Now for those of you who aren’t familiar with the author here is a bit of background on him in his own words.

Author Andrew Cunningham
I'm the author of novels in several genres, including, mystery, thriller, and post-apocalyptic science fiction. Under the name A.R. Cunningham, I've also written the Arthur MacArthur series of mysteries for children.

I was born in England but have spent most of my life living in the U.S.—including 25 years on Cape Cod before moving to Florida. A former interpreter for the deaf and long-time independent bookseller, I've been a full-time freelance writer and copy editor for many years. A 4th-degree Master Black belt in Tang Soo Do, I finally retired from active training when my body said, "Enough already! Why are you doing this to yourself?" I'm married, with two grown children and two awesome grandsons. My wife and I spend as much time traveling as we can and are especially fond of cruising the Caribbean.

I have been gratified by the response to my books. When I published Eden Rising back in the spring of 2013, I had no idea what to expect. When I sold my first few copies, I was excited beyond belief that someone was willing to take a chance on it. Numerous books and thousands of copies later, I am still humbled by the emails I get from readers telling me that my books kept them up late into the night.

In October of 2014, Wisdom Spring made me an official Amazon Bestselling author, a thrill I never thought would happen. But it still comes down to being able to bring a few hours of escape to a reader. That's what it's all about for me.

I hope you will try my books. Please feel free to email me with your comments.

For more on Andrew and his writing, connect with him on the following sites:

Now for those of you who aren’t familiar with the narrator, the author-preferred narrator of mysteries and thrillers, here’s a bit of background on him in his own words.

Narrator Greg Hernandez
Narrating audiobooks is highly gratifying. I immerse myself into an author’s story in order to bring it to life for the listener. I’ve enjoyed working with Andrew Cunningham for several years. is books are filled with rich characters, and the stories keep me turning the pages.

I also work as a background actor in movies and TV shows.

For more than 20 years, I worked as a radio news reporter and news writer. I spent half of my broadcasting career at ABC News Radio in the Washington, D.C., bureau. I covered all the federal agencies as well as Congress and the White House. I reported on a wide range of stories during my career, including financial and entertainment industry news.

For nearly 24 years, I worked as a federal government spokesman at three separate agencies—National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Mint and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

You can connect with Greg on Twitter.

Check out an audio sample of BLOOD LIES below. You can also follow the full tour by clicking on the link HERE.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Have you read or listened to the previous books in this series?

Plugging you into the audio community since 2016.
Sign up as a tour host here.