The Dark Deeps by Arthur Slade

SladeTheDarkDeepsChupaNarrator: Jayne Entwistle

Publisher: Listening Library (2010)

Length: 8 hours 11 minutes

Series: Book 2 The Hunchback Assignments

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 2 in the series, it works OK as a stand alone story. Reading the first book would give you more info on the characters, but their past relationships are covered well enough in this book that you don’t need to have read Book 1, The Hunchback Assignments, to enjoy this novel.

Set in a steampunked 1800s, Modo works hard to please his master, Mr. Socrates, with his espionage abilities. Stealing secrets from the French has been fun, but now he and Octavia are sent on a much more mysterious mission. Something has been floundering ships in the North Atlantic. Is it a trained whale? No one is certain and Mr. Socrates wants to be the first to know.

I really enjoyed Book 1 but I think I enjoyed this book a bit more. The characters are a bit more refined and the world better set in it’s fixture. I was pretty excited to see that the author drew upon two classics, Invisible Man and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Mixing these two themes with steampunk and then tossing in Modo, Octavia, and some new interesting characters, the book has charm written all over it.

The evil Clockwork Guild is still active with Dr. Hyde creating his metal-jawed dogs and a new type of human. Gryf, an unfortunate kid, is the subject of these experiments. Well, he’s the one that has survived long enough to be an important role in this story. Ms. Hackdotter, who has a mechanical arm, is the true villain in the book, sending chills down my spine as she toys with her captives. She’s devious, using her charm to maintain power over some of the Guild’s minions.

Meanwhile, we have two new and very interesting characters. There’s the French spy, Colette Brunet, who is half Japanese and who can speak English without a noticeable accent, letting her blend in easier. Then there’s Monturiol, who is a captain in her own right. Both of these ladies could be enemies or friends and Modo spends much of the book trying to figure out who his real foes are.

Even though Octavia and Modo started off on this adventure together, they soon became separated. While Modo is off with these new characters, Tavia is organizing a rescue party. I was a little sad that Tavia didn’t get to join Modo on the real adventure with Colette and Monturiol, but I was also glad that the author didn’t simply shelve her. The story keeps peeking back in on her and her rescue efforts. Meanwhile, Modo is learning to like a whole new cuisine and I quite enjoyed the little jokes that with it – dolphin’s milk indeed!

As a counterpoint to the adventure and humor, we have Modo’s struggle with his natural looks. He feels that people will despise him if they see his real face. Of course, this was enforced throughout his childhood by Mr. Socrates, even if he meant it in a good way. However, in this story, Modo often finds himself in a position where it is very difficult to keep his natural face under a mask or morphed into something pleasant. While my heart goes out a little to Modo during these scenes, I do find it a bit refreshing to have a male character so very concerned about his looks, instead of a female character.

The ending was a little bittersweet, which was quite suitable for the story. I like that not everything came up roses. Since Modo and Tavia are getting older, this story seems a little more subtle and adult than Book 1. I definitely like the direction this series is going in.

Narration: Jayne Entwistle continues to narrate the series. In this book Modo is 14 and I was hoping that his voice would have aged a little, but he still has a kid’s voice for the entirety of the book. Again, I first got to know Modo through Ember’s End, a graphic novel, so I came into these audiobooks with an idea already in my head of what he should sound like as a near adult. For Book 1, the kid’s voice was OK, even worked well in certain scenes. But now that he’s older, and also that he and Tavia are supposed to pretend to be married for some of their espionage work, I need his voice to be a bit older. Setting that aside, Entwistle did a good job with all the female characters and I loved the various accents she had to pull off. She’s also really good at imbuing the character voices with emotions.

What I Liked: Steampunked!; Tavia and Modo joking with each other; the new ladies – Colette and Monturiol; Dr. Hyde’s latest experiment; underwater cuisine; Ms. Hackendotter’s chilling control of the situation. 

What I Disliked: I need Modo’s voice to be masculine and a little older. 

What Others Think:

Book Reviews and More

Through the Looking Glass


Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory

GregoryThreeSistersThreeQueensNarrator: Bianca Amato

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (2016)

Length: 21 hours 9 minutes

Series: Book 8 The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is listed as Book 8 in the series, it works just fine as a stand alone novel.

Henry VIII, King of England, had two sisters – Margaret (his elder) and Mary (his younger). These two ladies, along with Henry’s first wife (Katherine of Aragon), will form a unique sisterhood of queens, sometimes rivals, sometimes allies. This book is told solely from Margaret’s point of view, starting in her childhood and carrying through her three marriages.

Over the years, I’ve dabbled in books about the Tudors. There are tons of them out there, both fiction and non-fiction. However, few of them have more than the bare bones concerning Margaret. So I was tinkled pink when Philippa Gregory came out with this book. Margaret wasn’t considered the great beauty her younger sister was. She didn’t wield as much power as Katherine. She wasn’t Henry’s favorite sibling. However, she still played an important role in Scotland, and hence in Scottish-English relations.

We learn early on that Margaret is betrothed to James, King of Scotland, who is nearly twice her age. So she has to wait until she is 14 to go to Scotland. As a teen, Margaret’s concerns are rather narrow and self-serving. From Margaret’s point of view, there’s competition between the three ladies (Mary, Margaret, and Katherine) for attention and their beauty factors into that. While Katherine received a large, beautiful wedding to Arthur (Henry’s older brother), Margaret gets a small, perfunctory wedding at age 12 with a stand-in for James. This is just one example of how Margaret measures her worth (or lack of it) to the English court.

Margaret’s character starts off as a mixture of naive, self-absorbed, and driven. Indeed, sometimes I felt her selfish attitude was going to do her in! But Gregory is such a good writer that you can see there is something more there, waiting to blossom, in this character. Once Margaret goes off to Scotland, she has to deal with hardships she never faced as a treasured English princess. The Scots had big, bushy beards! James, King of Scotland, has bastard babies! The Scottish Lords actually have to rule and work, including James! Indeed, it was a bit of a culture shock for her. She holds to her English superiority, but as the years pass, and she faces some true hardships herself, her attitudes shifts a bit, and a kernel of wisdom is formed.

Now I didn’t always agree with Margaret’s decisions or her reasons but I also have the historical knowledge. She didn’t have that, obviously, but she also lacked reliable communication and news from the rest of Europe. In this light, most of her decisions make sense. By the end of the book, I felt Margaret was someone I would have enjoyed being friends with. She had grown from that self-absorbed child we met in the first few chapters.

Throughout the book, Margaret, Mary, and Katherine write each other frequently, so you can’t help but compare the three of them. All three married more than once, each married for love at some point, and all three lost babies to illness. Also, each suffered ‘poverty’ at some point. Now, poverty to a royal is a little different than poverty for the masses. Indeed, they still have servants, even if they can’t pay them. They still have some fine clothing, even if they have to patch the sleeves. Still, it was interesting to see how each dealt with it differently.

Margaret does have a few awe-inspiring moments in the book. There are times where she faces down Scottish lords, a besieging army, or a very difficult run for the border while several months pregnant. These are the moments when I liked her best, when she was under the most pressure. She shone in these moments, and that made it easier for me to excuse her petty side.

The author includes a note at the end about how much of her book is factual versus fiction. I was surprised to learn that there is little historical information on Margaret beyond the bare bones of her life. The note did explain a bit about how Margaret’s decisions seemed to show her changing direction often. In my opinion, Gregory did a great job showing us how those swift changes in loyalty could make sense at the time. Indeed, I quite enjoyed this novel, including the self-absorbed aspects of the main character. Margaret was raised to think highly of herself and the story wouldn’t ring true without that attitude.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

The Narration: Bianca Amato did an excellent job with this book. I really liked her various accents (English, Scottish, Spanish, French). She also did a great job with the variety of emotions the characters went through. Her male voices were believable. 

What I Liked: The subject matter – Margaret; she grows from a selfish child to a woman with a bit of wisdom; the comparison between the three sister queens; the Scottish culture and how ‘shocking’ it is to the English princess; Margaret’s best moments; excellent narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – a fascinating take of an often over-looked historical figure.

What Others Think:


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Audiobook (CDs) Giveaway!

Heldig is absolutely ignoring me while Claudie snoozes on.

Heldig is absolutely ignoring me while Claudie snoozes on.

About a week ago I received a package in the mail and it was a box of audiobooks! Hooray! But wait! Not all these books were intended for me. So I have decided to share.

Now first, I want to tell you about this awesome audiobook site where you can request audiobooks in exchange for an honest review. This site is Audiobook Jukebox. I have been working with this site for years and the two people who run it (Susan and Jeff) are awesome people since they keep this site rolling on their volunteer time alone. If you want to get into audiobook reviewing, this is a great way to do it. You don’t have to have a blog, but you do have to post your review somewhere and then share a link to that review with Audiobook Jukebox. Easy peasy. Also, I think you will be impressed with the large selection of books for review.

So I requested a book from Dreamscape Audio via Audiobook Jukebox and their shipping department inadvertently sent me 5 books, 4 of which were intended for other audiobook reviewers. When I contacted Dreamscape, they told me to keep all 5 books and they would reship the audiobooks to the correct reviewers. That’s really cool of them.

So I am offering up 3 different audiobooks in this giveaway. You’ll see a different Rafflecopter for each one. You can enter all 3 or just the ones you’re interested in. Due to shipping costs, I will have to limit this to North America (Canada, US, or Mexico).

First up is Five Minutes Alone by Paul Cleave (regular audio CD – 12 discs). I actually requested the MP3 CD version of this (which came in the box with this one). I have read several Paul Cleave books and have enjoyed them all. Narrated by Paul Ansdell.

Book Blurb for Five Minutes Alone:

CleaveFiveMinutesAloneIn the latest thriller by the Edgar-nominated author of Joe Victim, someone is helping rape victims exact revenge on their attackers, prompting an edge-of-your-seat, cat-and-mouse chase between old friends, detectives Theodore Tate and Carl Schroder.

Carl Schroder and Theodore Tate, labeled “The Coma Cops” by the media, are finally getting their lives back into shape. Tate has returned to the police force and is grateful to be back at home with his wife, Bridget. For Schroder, things are neither good nor bad. The bullet lodged in his head from a shooting six months ago hasn’t killed him, but, almost as deadly, it’s switched off his emotions.

When the body of a convicted rapist is found, obliterated by an oncoming train, Tate works the case, trying to determine if this is murder or suicide. The following night, the bodies of two more rapists surface. It’s hard to investigate when everyone on the police force seems to be rooting for the killer.

There’s a common plea detectives get from the loved ones of victims: When you find the man who did this, give me five minutes alone with him. And that’s exactly what someone is doing. Someone is helping these victims get their five minutes alone. But when innocent people start to die, Tate and Schroder find themselves with different objectives, and soon they’re battling something they never would’ve expected: each other.

To enter the giveaway for this book, do the rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1) What country do you live in? 2) Which book or books would you like and why? 3) Leave a way to contact you (if your wordpress login email is good, then no need to leave it in the comments). Due to shipping costs, I will have to limit this to North America (Canada, US, or Mexico). Giveaway ends Nov. 25th, 2016 at midnight.

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Second is The Once in a Million Boy by Monica Wood (regular audio CD – 9 discs). This one looks like an emotionally heavy book, which can be good if I’m in the right mood for it. Narrated by Chris Ciulla.

Book Blurb for The Once in a Million Boy

WoodTheOnceInAMillionBoyThe story of your life never starts at the beginning. Don’t they teach you anything at school?

So says 104-year-old Ona to the 11-year-old boy who’s been sent to help her out every Saturday morning. As he refills the bird feeders and tidies the garden shed, Ona tells him about her long life, from first love to second chances. Soon she’s confessing secrets she has kept hidden for decades.

One Saturday, he doesn’t show up. Ona starts to think he’s not so special after all, but then his father Quinn arrives on her doorstep, determined to finish his son’s good deed. The boy’s mother is not so far behind. Ona is set to discover that even at her age the world can surprise you, and that sometimes sharing a loss is the only way to find yourself again.

To enter the giveaway for this book, do the rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1) What country do you live in? 2) Which book or books would you like and why? 3) Leave a way to contact you (if your wordpress login email is good, then no need to leave it in the comments). Due to shipping costs, I will have to limit this to North America (Canada, US, or Mexico). Giveaway ends Nov. 25th, 2016 at midnight.

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The third and final book is Dare to Serve: How to Drive Superior Results by Serving Others by Cheryl Bachelder, CEO of Popeyes’ Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. (regular audio CD – 3 discs). Narrated by the author, Cheryl Bachelder.

Book Blurb for Dare to Serve:

BachelderDareToServeCheryl Bachelder joined an ailing restaurant chain and turned it into the darling of the industry – by daring to serve the people in her organization well. When Bachelder was named CEO of Popeyes in the fall of 2007, guest visits had been declining for years, restaurant sales and profit trends were negative, and the company stock price had dropped from $34 in 2002 to $13. The brand was stagnant, and relations between the company and its franchise owners were strained.

By 2014 average restaurant sales were up 25 percent, and profits were up 40 percent. Popeyes’ market share had grown from 14 percent to 21 percent, and the stock price was over $40. The franchisees were so pleased with the turnaround that they began reinvesting in the brand, rapidly remodeling restaurants and building new units around the world. The difference maker, Bachelder says, was a conscious decision to lead in a new way.

She and her team created a workplace where people were treated with respect and dignity yet challenged to perform at the highest level. Silos and self were set aside in favor of collaboration and team play. And the results were measured with rigor and discipline. Servant leadership is sometimes derided as soft or ineffective, but this audiobook shows that it’s actually challenging and tough minded – a daring path. Bachelder takes you firsthand through the transformation of Popeyes and shows how a leader at any level can become a Dare-to-Serve leader.

To enter the giveaway for this book, do the rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1) What country do you live in? 2) Which book or books would you like and why? 3) Leave a way to contact you (if your wordpress login email is good, then no need to leave it in the comments). Due to shipping costs, I will have to limit this to North America (Canada, US, or Mexico). Giveaway ends Nov. 25th, 2016 at midnight.

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The Cryptic Lines by Richard Storry

StorryTheCrypticLinesNarrator: Jake Urry

Publisher: Richard Alan Storry (2016)

Length: 4 hours 13 minutes

Author’s Page

Lord Alfred Willoughby has finally passed away. His solicitor, Charles, must see to his will, which holds quite the surprise! Once Willoughby’s adopted son Matthew views the will, then the race is on for cryptic poems to be deciphered, more clues discovered, and hopefully the final fortune to be won before the time limit is up. Set in a Gothic mansion somewhere in the British Isles, this tale holds much suspense and a little bit of trickery.

This was a delicious suspenseful book, perfect for the Halloween season. The story opens with a rainy storm and the death of rich, old Lord Willoughby. James, the butler, helps Charles to find Willoughby’s important papers. Eventually, Charles finds a film, which is actually Willoughby’s recorded will. After viewing it, they track down Matthew, Willoughby’s wayward son. From there, the story turns into a treasure quest. Poems contain clues and those clues lead them all over the sprawling estate. This tale is complete with hidden passage ways, an actual crypt, and nearly forgotten family secrets.

While the 4 main characters are all male, there are two more characters, Mrs. Gilkerry (housekeeper/cook) and Meg (retired maid) who are more than they seem. First, I really enjoyed Mrs. Gilkerry’s cooking. The descriptions of her meals made my mouth water. Who says English cooking lacks flavor and zest? Meg doesn’t come into the story until much later so I won’t reveal too much about her. However, I will say that the discussions with her provided some humor in the middle of this tense book.

This treasure hunt reveals much about the natures of not only Charles and Matthew, but also Lord Willoughby. In a way, Charles learns more about his client’s private life through this quest than he ever would through his legal duties. Matthew has a long history of being a bit of a scoundrel, only returning home when he gets into more trouble or debt than he can manage. This hunt provides a background to show his true mettle: misunderstood man who made some mistakes or a man who truly lacks a moral compass? The ending has more than one secret to reveal! The winding suspense was excellent and I quite enjoyed taking an afternoon to read this. My only wish is that I had enjoyed it on a dark and stormy night.

I received this audiobook at no cost via The Audio Book Worm.

The Narration: Jake Urry was a really good choice of narration for this book. I loved his proper English accents along with his range of voices for all the characters. I especially loved his voice for Meg. Here and there, the characters reveal some emotion and Urry portrayed those emotions quite well. 

What I Liked: The Gothic mansion setting; Lord Willlougby’s clues and poems; James’s never-ending politeness; Meg’s less than sharp wit; Mrs. Gilkerry’s meals; the suspense of the hunt; the final reveals; excellent narration. 

What I Disliked: Nothing – this is a delicious, suspenseful tale!

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The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade

SladeTheHunchbackAssignmentsChupaNarrator: Jayne Entwistle

Publisher: Listening Library (2009)

Length: 7 hours 15 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Hunchback Assignments

Author’s Page


Set in the 1800s in England, the story starts off with Dr. Hyde working on his latest formula. It has rather gruesome side effects. Meanwhile, Mr. Socrates is looking for the unusual and he finds it in a very young boy named Modo who can, to some extent, change his appearance. Skipping ahead several years, Modo’s first true test comes when he’s left on his own in London. There he finds a way to make enough money for food and lodging, which leads him to meet Miss Octavia Milkweed. Together, they get pulled into a devious plot, one that has Dr. Hyde at the center.

This was a very fun story that gave a new twist to some old classics. Of course there is Dr. Hyde, who I think obviously comes from the story The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Then there is Modo himself. His full first name is Quasimodo, which is the important character from The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. Plus there’s a bit of The Wolf Man (a classic 1940s movie) going on too. And if I want to stretch things a bit (there’s the need for Modo to wear mask sometimes), perhaps there’s a touch of The Phantom of the Opera as well. Slade has done a great job of plucking certain elements out of these classics and spinning them into an entertaining tale set in a steampunk Victorian England.

Modo and Tavia (short for Octavia) were the stars of the show. We get to see snapshots of Modo growing up in the care of Mr. Socrates. He’s a stern figure and Modo gets most of his human contact from Mrs. Finchley, a governess and care taker, and Mr. Tharpa, his Indian fighting instructor. Although Tavia comes into the picture later, we learn about her upbringing through remarks she makes or her inner dialogue. Both of these kids (who meet when they are in their teens) have interesting backgrounds and Mr. Socrates is obviously shaping them for bigger things. I really liked that we aren’t sure for most of the book whether Mr. Socrates’s goals are good, bad, or simply selfish.

Dr. Hyde is one of those evil characters you enjoy hating on. He’s totally self-absorbed, running these cruel experiments solely for his own ends. He’s not the only evil one. There’s a fascinating lady with a steampunked mechanical arm and also a crippled man made whole by metal and gears. I do have to say I was a little disturbed by Dr. Hyde’s experiments on the dogs. Oh, how that made me want to see him ended!

The steampunk elements are definitely well in place with this Modo/Tavia adventure. I have read one of their other adventures, a graphic novel called Ember’s End, that was described as a steampunk western but had very little steampunky goodness in it. In contrast, The Hunchback Assignments does not disappoint in this aspect. There were small touches here and there throughout the story, and then the larger elements such as replacement body parts.

Modo himself is quite charming. His upbringing is not your standard schooling with extracurricular activities. His unusual looks could easily be called ugly but his morphing abilities give him some lee-way in fitting in. He’s clever and strong but also very shy about who sees his real face. There’s a lot to relate to in this kid. Tavia is also a treat, in different ways. She’s had to learn to be clever to avoid the pitfalls of street life, but she’s a different kind of clever than Modo. She’s also quite pretty and she knows it, which allows her to use her beauty to gain information. I was very glad to learn, as the story progresses, that she can also be a very loyal friend.

All told, this was a excellent start to a YA steampunk adventure series. I look forward to reading more of the series.

Narration: Jayne Entwistle was better than I thought she would be. I think because I eyeball read the graphic novel Ember’s End, I already had certain voices for Modo and Tavia. Entwistle hit Tavia’s voice perfectly. However, I was expecting a deeper voice for Modo as an adult. Now since he’s not an adult in this book, but ranges from a toddler to a 14-year-old, I think Entwistle did a really decent job. Also, she did have deeper male voices for the older men like Mr. Socrates. I loved her English accents. Also she was excellent at portraying the emotions of the characters.

What I Liked: Victorian England; steampunky goodness everywhere; Dr. Hyde is a true villain!; Tavia is clever and extroverted; Modo is a different kind of clever and rather shy; references to classics sprinkled throughout the book; Mr. Socrates is a little bit of an enigma. 

What I Disliked: I was expecting a deeper voice for Modo but I think I can come to enjoy Entwistle’s portrayal of his character. 

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Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: Lauren Carr, Author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries

CarrTheMurdersAtAstaireCastleEveryone, please welcome Lauren Carr to the blog today. I really enjoyed her Mac Faraday mystery, The Murders at Astaire Castle. Lauren has been kind enough to give us a bit of her time for this interview. Also, don’t  forget to check out the tour-wide audiobook giveaway! If you want to find out about the GIVEAWAY, then scroll to the bottom.

What makes you cringe?

A very messy kitchen that needs cleaning.

Who are some of your favorite book villains?

This is such a hard question to answer. I know what I like and don’t like in a villain. Not being a fan of serial killer books, I don’t like Hannibal Lecter, no matter how elegant and educated he is. I actually get angry when the villain escapes justice at the end of a mystery so that he or she can return in another book, which has become a popular gimmick that some writers use. It leaves me with a heavy sense of injustice. There’s too much of that in the real world. I read books to escape. So I want to see the villain captured and getting what he or she deserves in the end.

Do you have any phobias?

No, but I live in fear of a horribly dirty house that I have to clean. But I don’t have a fear of germs. I just hate cleaning. I’m not afraid of it. I simply hate it.

CarrItsMurderMySonIf everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

Caution, murder mystery writer at work. Careless treatment of this writer could result in ending up in one of her book.

In this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?

I always enjoy talking about my books and my writing. So I have to say that I love book tours and the opportunity to talk to readers and reviewers about my murder mysteries. As for what is most challenging? That’s easy. Keeping my website up to date. I get so wrapped up in my writing and answering questions that I forget about my website. There have been times that I have actually forgotten to list my latest book or even tour dates.

If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?

1. Agatha Christie. She would order something French in honor of Hercule Poirot, who was Belgian, not French.
2. Erle Stanley Gardner. He would order a manly steak and potatoes and smoke a cigarette over scotch for dessert.
3. Carolyn Keene, which is a pseudonym for several writers who wrote the Nancy Drew books, which I read while growing up. She would order rice cakes. Since she’s not real, she wouldn’t be eating real food.
4. Of course, at the other end, we can’t not have Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the master who created Sherlock Holmes. He will order kidney pie.
5. And a mystery dinner would not be complete with the author of the first mystery, Edgar Allan Poe, who wrote The Purloined Letter. He would order a poultry dish, most definitely not raven.

CarrBlastFromThePastWhat do you do when you are not writing?

I love to cook and especially enjoy trying new and exotic recipes. But I hate cleaning up the kitchen afterwards. Did I already mention that?

Side characters can make or break a story. What side characters have you enjoyed in other works? What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?

I really enjoy Archie Goodwyn in the Nero Wolfe mysteries. Here is a side character who, in reality, is the protagonist. He’s witty, even snarky. As the narrator and the front man for Nero Wolfe, he is in the forefront—yet, he’s the side character.

I have been completely floored by how Mac Faraday’s side character, Gnarly, his German Shepherd, has caught so much attention. I have included animals in every one of my books, because I love animals. I myself grew up as a farm girl. I knew my readers would have to love animals, too, but the immediate attraction to Gnarly took me completely by surprise. Would you believe Gnarly was not in the first or even second draft of It’s Murder, My Son, the first Mac Faraday Mystery? I wrote him in a later draft of the book.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

The Bobbsey Twins. That was the first chapter book I read. I believe I was in the second grade. The actual book was in our family’s book case. It had been one of my mother’s school books from when she was a child. I remember it was an old worn book and didn’t even have a front or back cover. That’s how old it was.

CarrTheMurdersAtAstaireCastleBook Blurb for The Murders at Astaire Castle:

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.

Buy the Book:   Amazon  ~  Audible

LaurenCarrAuthorAuthor’s Bio:

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries. The twelfth installment in the Mac Faraday Mystery series, Candidate for Murder will be released June 2016.

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 Lauren: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook


This giveaway is part of the iRead Book Tour. Don’t forget to check out more interviews, reviews,  & guest posts on the blog tour! Win an audiobook copy of The Murders at Astaire Castle by Lauren Carr (2 winners – open int’l), a stand alone Mac Faraday mystery, narrated by Dan Lawson. Contest ends Oct. 30, 2016.  Just click on the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway.

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The Murders at Astaire Castle by Lauren Carr

CarrTheMurdersAtAstaireCastleNarrator: Dan Lawson

Publisher: Acorn Book Services (2014)

Length: 8 hours 9 minutes

Series: Book 5 Mac Faraday

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 5 in the series, it works just fine as a stand alone novel.

Set on Spencer Hill, in Deep Creek, Maryland, Mac Faraday won’t balk at exploring his property in full, and that includes the Astaire Castle which has been closed up since his biological mother passed away. It’s haunted and even his own half-brother David O’Callaghan (local police chief) thinks it’s a very bad idea to go exploring the castle. The Astaire Castle is the site of suicides, disappearances, and murders. As Mac Faraday, retired homicide detective, delves into the castle’s history yet more bodies turn up, and he and David are soon forced to reopen the case of the missing horror writer Damian Wagner.

This was an entertaining story, especially for the Halloween season. This tale has the haunted castle, a missing horror writer, and a wolf man! And that’s just the opening few chapters to this book. Mac and David argue like brothers and there’s a real  friendship there even if they disagree on things. Hector, the blunt Australian, was a favorite character as well. I liked his (sometimes snarky) humor. Gnarly, the big friendly, food-oriented German shepherd, often stole the show.

While the men get to do most of the action and decisions for the book, there are a few ladies that stand out. Archie, Mac’s lover, has  some role attached to the police department, though the details of which remained a bit fuzzy to me. While the guys often left her behind as they went off to adventure, she did have her moments with her gentle teasing, easing info out of this character or that. Chelsea with her medical condition and her service dog, Molly, also added to the story, specifically as an interesting love interest for one of the characters.

The wolfman was an interesting touch and one I didn’t expect. It definitely added a dimension to the book. The reveal of who did it came as a surprise as well. The wrap up left me wondering if there was a supernatural element to the story after all. All told, my only quibble is that I would have liked the ladies to be a bit more involved. Other than that, it was a pretty fun read.

I received a copy of this audiobook from the author (via iRead Book Tours – thanks!) at no cost.

Narration: Dan Lawson makes a great Mac Faraday. He sounds decisive and also  captures the characters fondness (and sometimes exasperation) for Gnarly. His female voices were believable.  His voice for David was similar to Mac’s  (which makes sense since they are related) and he kept it distinct from Mac’s most of the time.

What I Liked: Haunted castle; multiple bodies from different methods; the wolfman; Gnarly and his willingness to put anything in his mouth; Chelsea and her service dog; Hector the blunt Australian; good ending. 

What I Disliked: The ladies often get pushed to the backseat. 

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