Bookish Giveaway & Review: Blast from the Past by Lauren Carr

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Narrator: Dan Lawson

Publisher: Acorn Book Services (2014)

Length: 7 hours 13 minutes

Series: Book 4 Mac Faraday

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 4 in the series, it works just fine as a stand alone.

Set in Spencer, Maryland in the Deep Creek Lake gated community, retired DC cop Mac Faraday is about to be hip deep in organized crime and federal protection agents. Tommy Cruze is out of prison after several years and his search has finally turned up the witness that put him behind bars. He’s come to Spencer to hunt her down.

This was a great addition to the series. We finally have something more to Archie Monday than her efficient nature and love of pink. She witnessed a serious crime many years back and had to testify and then go into federal protective custody. That meant saying goodbye to her entire past and becoming the personal assistant to Robin Spencer, a renowned mystery writer and Mac’s true birth mother (who gave him up for adoption). Now all that has to come out and Mac’s both a little hurt that Archie hadn’t told him before and also feeling very protective of her, as two of Cruze’s men have already made an attempt on her life. Lucky for Archie, she took the time to become a proficient shot.

Things get even more convoluted when a poisoning occurs at a dockside cafe where a woman and her daughter, who also happen to be in federal protective custody, work. Leah and her young daughter Sari move into the big Spencer Manor for protection while all this gets sorted out.

Randi Finnegan was a fun addition to the story. Mac’s half-brother David O’Callaghan has caught the eye of the federal agent but Randi isn’t sure he’s interested at all. She’s prickly and not a beauty and she knows it. So she focuses on the job and she’s good at it. I liked the potential of something blooming between these two.

There’s potentially another murder at a B&B. Initially, it looks like a very sick woman stumbled and fell down the stairs, but Mac and David look deeper. Yet another death occurs outside of a restaurant in town and the police have to consider if this one is linked to Tommy Cruze and his second in command. Indeed, it seems Spencer is full of killers this season!

Mac, Archie, and David have their hands full untangling this one! I really enjoyed watching them dig down to the roots of these cases and figure out which were related and which weren’t. Meanwhile, Gnarly was keeping the little girl Sari company. This was so sweet and so cute that it was almost too much. Like a sweet lemonade, sometimes the sugar can just be too much. Luckily, those scenes were sprinkled throughout the story so it wasn’t a turn off.

I received a free copy of this book via iRead Book Tours.

The Narration: Dan Lawson rocked this book. There have been a few narrators for this series and Lawson is my favorite so far. He has a really good range of voices, his female voices are believable, he does the little kid Sari really well, and he even has believable accents (both foreign and regional). I was impressed with his performance on this book.

What I Liked: Archie’s past; Archie’s gun skills; Randi’s dedication to her job; Sari & Gnarly; the tangle of murders; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – I really liked this one!

Check out the TOUR PAGE for more reviews and stuff.

GIVEAWAY!!!

One winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card (Open internationally). Ends July 9th, 2017.

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It’s Murder, My Son by Lauren Carr

Narrator: Janean Jorgensen

Publisher: Books in Motion (2010)

Length: 11 hours 2 minutes

Series: Book 1 Mac Faraday

Author’s Page

Mac Faraday receives the best news of his life on the toughest day he’s had yet. Just finalizing his messy divorce, he learns that his deceased birth mother who put him up for adoption has left him a fortune. Now Faraday has moved to Spencer Manor in an effort to connect with the mother he never knew. But murder lurks just around the corner and Mac puts his DC detective skills to use.

I’ve been listening to several of the Mac Faraday books recently and I love that they can be explored as stand alones. It was great to go back to Book 1 and see how things got started for Mac, how he met Archie, learned about his mom, and adopted Gnarly dog. While this isn’t my favorite book of the series, it’s a solid start to an entertaining murder mystery series.

Set in Spencer, Maryland, the Spencer Manor sits next to the lake in a gated community that harbors many secrets. Mac is new to wealth and he finds it takes some skills to navigate this new economic reality he’s landed in. It’s good that Archie is there to help him fit in. She was Robin Spencer’s assistant and lives in the guest cottage.

A few months before Mac moved in, a neighbor in the area was strangled to death. Katrina was a very charming woman who had a stalker. Of course, the husband Chad has to be cleared first but after 3 months, there are few clues to David (the local police officer) to continue on with the investigation.

I really enjoyed learning about David in this book. He’s the legitimate child of Robin Spencer and Mac’s younger half-brother. The two have never met and it’s a bit awkward. Toss in David’s current problems with his boss, Chief of Police Roy Phillips, and David’s got a few reasons to be angry. Things get even more aggravating for the two experienced investigators when Phillips brings in his ‘expert’, a crime fiction author. Awkward, indeed!

Gnarly was the star of the show once again. He has his own insecurities and is something of a klepto. Mac has to learn about this the hard way and Archie does her best to keep Gnarly out of trouble. Of course, that all goes out the window when Gnarly turns up with a human skull. Good boy! Er… maybe not. Where did you get that? No! You can’t eat it! Here! Have my breakfast instead.

There are lots of characters in this novel and I sometimes had trouble keeping up with all of them. I think it could have been slimmed down a bit and the plot would have been less tangled. I also would have liked a bit more Archie. I feel she’s underutilized even though I know she comes into her own later in the series. Still, it’s an entertaining read and I’m glad I skipped back to this book to see how things got started for Mac.

I listened to this book for free with Kindle Unlimited. However, as of this posting, it no longer seems to be available.

The Narration: Janean Jorgensen was OK for this book. She does a decent Archie and she was really good at the jerk Chief of Police. However, most of the characters are men and she only had so many male voices that at times I had to pay attention closely to follow who said what.

What I Liked: Mac’s beginning at Spencer Manor; meeting David, Archie, and Gnarly with fresh eyes; Gnarly stole the show with his thieving ways; David dealing with his jerk boss.

What I Disliked: The plot was a bit tangled; lots and lots of characters; Archie is underutilized.

What Others Think:

Kelly’s Lucky You

Mystery Suspense Reviews

JAQUO

Book’d Out

Giveaway & Review: Shades of Murder by Lauren Carr

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Narrator: Mike Alger

Publisher: Acorn Book Services (2016)

Length: 5 hours 25 minutes

Series: Book 3 Mac Faraday

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 3 in the series, it works just fine as a stand alone.

Mac Faraday, a retired cop and the unexpected inheritor of a famed mystery writer’s fortune, decides to delve into a cold case file when a long-lost painting comes into his possession. With the help of his girlfriend Archie, his dog Gnarly, and his half-brother cop David, they may be able to untangle this cold case. Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, lawyer Joshua Thornton has agreed to look into yet a different cold case, one that nearly everyone assumes was committed by a serial killer who has been behind bars for years. Detective Cameron believes him and offer her aid along with a bit of mutual affection.

I really enjoyed this addition to the Faraday/Thornton murder mystery series. It was great seeing how Joshua’s and Cameron’s relationship got started. Cameron’s cat Irving was also a lot of fun and Joshua’s initial response to this ‘detective’ cat was amusing. Honestly, I love how forward Cameron is about everything. She makes no excuses or apologies for her cat and she gets her job done even if it means pissing off management. It’s great that she was the first to show real interest in starting a relationship.

I’ve read several Lauren Carr mysteries by now and I was guessing that the two cold cases were probably related somehow but the link between the two was not immediately obvious and for a good chunk of the tale, I thought that perhaps this book would be the odd ball. No worries! It’s not and I enjoyed how the author tied the two together.

In this particular book, Mac reveals that he’d like a little more out of his relationship with Archie and he doesn’t understand why she doesn’t sleep over, or why he’s not invited to sleep over at her place. After all, they have a fully affectionate relationship otherwise. The answer at the end of the book was amusing and I’m glad these two worked it out.

The murder mysteries themselves were very interesting. Initially, I was more interested in Joshua’s since it involved a serial killer, who is in prison, making a heartfelt plea to the lawyer to look into this particular Jane Doe, swearing he had nothing to do with her. That definitely piqued my interest. Faraday’s mystery took me a little longer to get interested in simply because it looked like so much was known about it all those years ago. However, it turns out that it’s not that simple. There’s plenty there for Mac and Archie to piece together.

I received a free copy of this book via iRead Book Tours.

The Narration: Mike Alger was a good fit for this tale. I liked his voice for Cameron quite a bit as he managed to sound like a mature yet playful woman who knows her mind. I also liked his voice for Mac, sounding decisive. He was great with the humor as well. I did feel his accent for Greta could have used some polishing.

What I Liked: Cold case murders; how Joshua & Cameron got together; Irving’s need for company all the time; Gnarly’s love of beach towels; famous artwork; a serial killer’s plea.

What I Disliked: Nothing – I really liked this one!

Check out the TOUR PAGE for more reviews and stuff.

GIVEAWAY!!!

One winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card (Open internationally). Ends July 9th, 2017.

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Giveaway & Review: Old Loves Die Hard by Lauren Carr

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Narrator: James C. Lewis

Publisher: Acorn Book Services (2016)

Length: 7 hours 40 minutes

Series: Book 2 Mac Faraday

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 2 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone novel.

Set in Maryland, Mac Faraday is looking forward to a nice companionable evening with his neighbor Archie and his dog Gnarly when his ex-wife Christine unexpectedly shows up. She wants to reconcile but Mac isn’t even going to consider it. Making sure she’s safely ensconced at the nearby resort for the night, he plans to have a final conversation with her the next morning when she’s sober. However, she and the man that wrecked their marriage, Stephen, are both found dead at the resort. The plot thickens when Stephen’s room is searched and old case files that concern Mac are discovered.

It was nice to return to Mac Faraday’s neck of the woods. I have previously enjoyed Book 5, The Murders at Astaire Castle. Here, I get to know more about Mac’s origins. He’s a retired homicide detective who unexpectedly inherited a fortune from his birth mother. He’s also got a half-brother (David), the large mansion he now resides in, and the local resort. With no day job, the mystery of his ex-wife’s murder becomes the focus of his keen wit and all his energy.

As with every Lauren Carr novel I have experienced, this mystery has layers, some of which go back decades. For some reason Stephen was looking into old case files, several of which were tied to Mac in some way. The Chief of Police (David) has to take a hard look at Mac before he can be cleared in the murders, and their blood relationship ruffles some people’s feathers. Now I did find it a little too convenient that David was OK with Mac investigating the murders. Even with him cleared, he still has a stake in the outcome of the investigation. While it makes for great drama having Mac run around asking tough questions and discovering clues, I did have to work hard to suspend my disbelief on this point.

Archie is a wonder with modern electronics and worked closely with Mac’s birth mother (a famous mystery writer) for over a decade before she passed away. She’s become friends with Mac and there’s potentially a romance building between the two. While I do like her character, the author doesn’t really do much with her. Christine, who dies pretty early on, has more influence on the story than Archie does.

There’s this one side character who is of South American decent and works as a maid. The plot felt a little weak when Christine’s sisters immediately equated this person to a South American maid they had years ago. How many documented and undocumented South American women work as maids in the US? Too many to count. So I did feel that it was a really big leap for everyone to assume this maid was the same one who worked for the sisters in the past. While this leap did move the plot forward, it could have been done much better.

Otis the squirrel added some perfect comedic relief. I also liked Gnarly’s klepto behavior, not that I want to encourage it. Still, it was funny how he was so picky about what dog chew he stole from the store.

The answer to the big mystery wasn’t what I was expecting. I liked the surprise, but I felt the execution was a little far-fetched. I wanted a bit more build up or a few more details – something to help me buy into it. Even with that, I found the over all story to be engaging and entertaining. I really like Mac’s character.

I received a free copy of this book via iRead Book Tours.

The Narration: James C. Lewis makes a really good Mac Faraday. He sounds like a retired cop. I also liked how he managed to make David, Mac’s half-brother, sound related. His female voices could use more femininity but each character was distinct.

What I Liked: A layered mystery; Mac’s character; Gnarly and Otis; Archie’s skills; David’s easy relationship with Mac; an unexpected twist at the end.

What I Disliked: I had to work hard several times to suspend my disbelief and just go with the story; Archie’s character is under used.

Check out the TOUR PAGE for more reviews and stuff.

GIVEAWAY!!!

One winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card (Open internationally). Ends July 9th, 2017.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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. 

What Others Think:

For Life After

The Journey Back

Just Reviews

Bless Their Hearts Mom

JAQUO