Sunday, June 9, 2019

Book Review: Crimes Past by Lauren Carr

Book Details:

Book Title: Crimes Past by Lauren Carr
Series: A Mac Faraday Mystery (Volume 13)
Category: Adult fiction, 322 pages
Genre: Murder Mystery
Publisher: Acorn Book Services
Release date: October 16, 2018
Tour dates: May 1 - June 28, 2019
Content Rating: PG (mild violence and sexual suggestion)

Book Description:

It’s a bittersweet reunion for Mac Faraday when members of his former homicide squad arrive at the Spencer Inn. While it is sweet to attend the wedding of a former colleague’s daughter, it is a bitter reminder that the mother of the bride had been the victim of a double homicide on her own wedding night.

The brutal slaying weighing heavy on his mind, Mac is anxious to explore every possibility for a break in the cold case—even a suggestion from disgraced former detective Louis Gannon that one of their former friends was the killer.

When the investigator is brutally slain, Mac Faraday rips open the cold case with a ruthless determination to reveal which of his friends was a cold-blooded murderer.


I had only recently read the first book in the series, and it is a giant leap (though a very familiar one) to the latest in the series. Neither I nor my blog need any introduction to Lauren Carr or Mac Faraday, and I really do love the series and the author's narration style. This book was no exception, as it followed a similar set up with already familiar characters that did not take me any time to get used to or profile as characters.

So where did the intrigue come from, then? The blurb of course. By subtly indicating that the culprit or perpetrator of a cold case is a dear friend, the stage is set with the suspense of knowing what next. The book begins with the list of characters, which is a unique style but the author's usual, and a very helpful reference.

This book follows the classic style of a whodunit, linking the events spaced out by sixteen years. The past crime happens during a wedding while the bride and groom are killed in their room before the celebratory dinner. Mac Faraday is assigned the case which becomes a cold one with no leads. But sixteen years later, a victim's child is getting married again, and Mac Faraday finds himself in a place where he has to doubt everyone, for the guest list includes people who were there on that fateful day. He has to suspect and analyse people he had known for a long while, understand that anyone could have been the killer and hunt for answers that have the potential to completely sweep him off his equilibrium.

As a character, Mac perfectly displays his confusions about having to doubt the very people he'd trust, casting shadows on sources of lights, making him second guess his moves and reorder the facts to create a big picture as each new piece falls into the slate. This slow build-up keeps the story absolutely engaging and interesting.

The book is narrated well (usual Carr style), and has enough good twists to keep the reader guessing until the final reveal. The story makes the reading worthwhile because the narration is quick and clean, not delving in too many tangents or confusing story jumps. There were more than two murders to be investigated, and the story never dipped in pace. Lauren Carr is a writer who plugs the loopholes and wraps up her stories nicely and this book is no exception. The characters are also fleshed out, and even a pet dog has more substance than most other protagonists in other novels.

This twisted tale of love, lies, subterfuge, and crimes of passion is a brilliant, worthy read for fans of thriller novels. Carr does not disappoint, and she maintains the suspense until the last possible moment, giving the necessary explanation in the epilogue, which was my most favourite part of the book. Overall, brilliantly written, made the reader in me enjoy another good thriller.

To read reviews, please visit Lauren Carr's page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy Crimes Past:

Meet the Author:

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

Now, Lauren has added one more hit series to her list with the Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries. Set in the quaint West Virginia town of Harpers Ferry, Ice introduces Chris Matheson, a retired FBI agent, who joins forces with other law enforcement retirees to heat up those cold cases that keep them up at night.

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

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

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Guest Post by Barbara Casey, Author of VELVALEE DICKINSON: The “Doll Woman” Spy


Velvalee began collecting dolls in 1934 at the age of 41 when a friend gave her a pair of native dolls from the Philippines. As other friends began giving Velvalee dolls, her interest in collecting dolls grew. Doll collecting was then a burgeoning pastime supported by local clubs, specialty dealers, and avid hobbyists. Distinctly an adult activity, primarily women collected dolls for their beauty, for associations, and for memories they invoked of dolls they had in their own childhood. These same reasons for collecting dolls continue today, which makes it one of the largest hobby groups in the world.

Velvalee continued to build up her collection, acquiring an array of foreign, antique, and rare dolls. Confiding she was “tired of accepting orders from others,” she started publishing a list of her dolls that were for sale as early as 1939, and she joined the Doll Collectors of America with its headquarters in Ft. Edward, New York. She also became a member of the Toy Collectors Club of New York, the parent company of the United Federation of Doll Clubs (UFDC). However, after passing a resolution in September 1944 that its members had to be “true 100 percent American,” the UFDC removed Velvalee from its membership roster a month later because of her traitorous activities.

Within a short time after moving to New York Velvalee opened her own doll shop specializing in rare and antique dolls, first out of the apartment at 680 Madison Avenue, and eventually in October 1941, she moved her business to the fashionable and spacious storefront located at 718 Madison Avenue.

          The Valvalee Dickinson doll shop catered to collectors throughout the United States and overseas who were interested in foreign, regional, and antique dolls. Her clientele, which eventually numbered up to 20,000, included movie and Broadway stars, assorted social celebrities, as well as affluent men and women of the carriage trade. The prices she charged these collectors for her highly sought-after dolls started at a minimum of twenty-five dollars, with some of the more rare dolls fetching well into the thousands of dollars.

She also worked hard to make dolls available at lower prices for her more pedestrian, less prosperous customers. In a large ad she placed in Doll News, the official newsletter of the National Doll and Toy Collectors of New York, she advertised 7-inch cloth dolls from Palestine at five dollars for a group of three; Japanese ichimatsu dolls from 10 to 14 inches at ten dollars to eighteen dollars; Chad Valley royal children dolls, 15 to 18 inches for ten dollars to fifteen dollars; and a preprinted cloth doll pattern for one dollar.

An aggressive and creative marketer, Velvalee wrote several articles for The Complete Collector, a specialized journal for antique collectors. The somewhat lengthy, florid subtitle for these articles was “A Monthly Discourse on the Fine Arts for the Contemplative Man’s Recreation.”

It was primarily through Velvalee’s frequent correspondence with clients and other doll collectors that gave her doll store the most notice, however. All of her letters, note cards, and other stationery were written on customized blue stationery embellished with a scarlet border and letterhead advertising her business in “Dolls – Antique – Foreign – Regional – Playthings.” The brochures she mailed out, written on the same customized blue stationery, were also embellished with a scarlet letterhead and a border of international dolls which boasted: “We have dolls from nearly every country in the world and state in the United States.”

It was through her chatty correspondence that Velvalee became a target of the FBI and she was eventually charged with espionage. Many whispered that it was her dolls who had talked and revealed her crimes. Today, her dolls continue to talk and collectors pay top dollar whenever a Velvalee Dickinson doll goes up for auction.

Book Review: Velvalee Dickinson: The "Doll Woman" Spy by Barbara Casey

Book Details:

Book Title: Velvalee Dickinson: The "Doll Woman" Spy by Barbara Casey
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 184 pages
Genre: True Crime / Historical / Biography
Publisher: Strategic Media Books
Release date: April 2019
Tour dates: May 27 to June 7, 2019
Content Rating: PG - Velvalee Dickinson is appropriate for all ages.

Book Description:

Velvalee Dickinson was born in Sacramento, California, graduated from Stanford University, married three times, and then in the early 1930s moved to New York City where she eventually opened her own exclusive doll shop on the prestigious Madison Avenue. It was there that she built her reputation as an expert in rare, antique, and foreign dolls. She traveled extensively around the country lecturing and exhibiting her dolls while building a wealthy clientele that included Hollywood stars, members of high society, politicians, and other collectors.

When medical bills started to accumulate because of her husband’s poor health and business started to fail with the onset of World War II, she accepted the role as a spy for the Imperial Japanese Government. By hiding coded messages in her correspondence about dolls, she was able to pass on to her Japanese contacts critical military information about the US warships. After surveilling Velvalee for over a year, the FBI arrested her and charged her with espionage and violation of censorship laws. She became the first American woman to face the death penalty on charges of spying for a wartime enemy.

Velvalee Dickinson: The “Doll Woman” Spy is a carefully researched glimpse into the “Doll Woman’s” life as a collector of dolls, and as the highest paid American woman who spied for the Imperial Japanese Government during World War II.


I have previously read two fiction works of Barbara Casey, 'The Cadence of Gypsies' and 'The House of Kane', so I was familiar with her style and liked the language enough to pick this book up when the chance came.

Biographies are always more interesting than regular books with respect to the content because there is always that underlying feeling that we are reading the story of someone who actually lived and did the things described in the book. But as is often the case, the biographies err on one of two extremes: becoming too descriptive that some parts look fabricated, or being too bland and just sticking to the reported facts.

But this book manages to break that norm, easily flowing between fact narration and description, making the entire reading experience an engaging one. I finished this in one sitting. The first factor that determines the success of any biography is its presentation, and this wins in that regard because it presents history in an interesting manner. Of all the things I love about the book, the most important ones I should mention is how I did not even know of this woman before I began reading, but the book made me think I really knew her well. I had, at least, obtained a comprehensible idea of the person that she would have been after I finished reading. In that, the book succeeded.

Secondly, I have always wondered how and why biographies have to resort to factual reporting. Most are one dimensional, focusing only on the character and the major events in their life. But this book transcends that, giving the reader a wholesome idea about the country and the time period, mingling them both into a wonderfully fluent narrative.

The book is well researched, and it shows clearly. Not to mention too much about the story, or give away spoilers, the author has clearly taken pains to collect authentic information about a secretive character who drifted into mysterious oblivion and made the story into a novel-type narration. Overall the language is smooth to read, the book holds the readers' attention well and makes them want to keep turning the pages to know more.

A brilliant effort save a few issues, but not mentioning them because I want to focus on the appreciation for this effort.

To read reviews, please visit Barbara Casey's page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

Meet the Author:

Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, as well as book-length works of nonfiction, and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. Her nonfiction true crime book, Kathryn Kelly: The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly, has been optioned for a major film and television series. Her nonfiction book, Assata Shakur: A 20th Century Escaped Slave, is under contract for a major film. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency.

Established in 1995, she represents authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. In 2018 Barbara received the prestigious Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award and Top Professional Award for her extensive experience and notable accomplishments in the field of publishing and other areas. Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with her husband, and three pets who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix; Reese, a black cat; and Earl Gray, a gray cat and Reese’s best friend.

Connect with the author: Website

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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Song of Atlantis by Brian Power: A Review

Book Details:

Book Title: Song of Atlantis by Brian Power
Category: Adult Fiction, 322 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Brian J Power
Release date: December 2014
Tour dates: May 13 - 24, 2019
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (No explicit sex scene or excessive profanity)

Book Description:

A shocking discovery leads one scientist down a dangerous path in Brian Power’s compelling debut novel, Song of Atlantis.

When Amon Goro, the master architect of Atlantis, discovers a way to harness the earth’s forces into an infinite source of clean energy, it seems destined to change civilization as we know it.

But 4,500 years later, Atlantis exploration team leader Palen Golendar is brutally captured by a Native American tribe in modern-day South Dakota—derailing any hope Atlantis held of utilizing its energy secrets.

Eight thousand years in the future, Native American anthropologist Gordon Tallbear and his team of highly skilled researchers stumble across a connection between the recent discovery of Golendar’s remains and an intricate cavern system deep in the mountains of Antarctica…a connection that finally reveals the Atlantean secret of perpetual energy.

While Tallbear and his team plan to recreate the energy source that will change the world, a wealthy group with deep ties to carbon-based fuel producers decides this newfound energy source must be destroyed—and they will stop at nothing to assassinate the researchers in order to bury what they know.

Can Tallbear’s newfound knowledge survive?


Age old events with historical significance affecting people across millennia. This is the core concept of the book. While it is true that most legends are a combination of fact and fiction, it takes a special talent to build a conceivable story spanning millennia, with intertwining threads that connect every seemingly insignificant event. Song of Atlantis was that book which attempted this herculean mission and succeeded for the most part.

When I first saw the cover, there was not much I could gather from it except the single point of focus. But as I delved into the book I realised that the cover being simplistic was just the author's way of getting the reader to focus on the simple, straightforward point that formed the crux of the entire story. And once I began, the book did flow freely. I loved the fact that the language was really good, and the writing pleasant to read.

The book worked for me because it managed to keep the readers interested and stayed true to the genre it was written in. A sense of disbelief, shock and sometimes wonder are possibly frequent reader reactions. The lost land of Atlantis, the pyramids of Giza, and in the modern days, the powers that be, who do not want the earth-shattering secret to get out. And the novel follows the typical route for a sci-fi thriller, but it wins because of the unique presentation that made it obvious that the story was well-researched and written over time with many revisions to correct loopholes (as the author mentions in his note). The effort put into making this book believably surreal is evident in the way it is presented.

I loved many things in the book, especially the seamless flow of the story timelines, and the characters who seem to have multidimensional development, overall making it a pleasant read instead of wondering what tangent the book was taking us into. As a seasoned reader, I had to control my urge to cross-check and verify the accuracy of historical 'facts'. But even that need reduced with time, seeing as the book kept me turning the pages with a consistent speed.

Though it did take me some time to get used to the switching timelines, the reading was made much easier with the easily identifiable, fleshed out characters and subtle changes in the narrative style. The main positive point for the book is the writing, while the mild minus is that despite best efforts there are mistakes that seem to jump out randomly. They are not huge/significant enough to disrupt reading but are noticeable nonetheless.

In bringing out the darker side of commercialisation of natural resources, the author has done a wonderful job. Keeping the action alive amidst a descriptive narrative is an interesting takeaway from this book. Overall this is the kind of book I shall read at leisure again when I am searching for something to stimulate my brain. Would definitely be interested in reading his next work.

To read reviews, please visit Brian Power's page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

Meet the Author: 

Brian Power is an educator who has taught at both the high school and college levels. He earned a BS degree in English and Secondary Education, and an MA in International Relations. A retired corporate consultant and trainer, he is also a retired Marine Corps Reserve Lieutenant Colonel who served for 24 years on both active duty and in the reserves. He lives in Rhode Island with his wife. SONG OF ATLANTIS is his first book.

For more information, please visit his Website.

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Ends June 1, 2019

Friday, May 31, 2019

Book Spotlight: The Clockmaker by Paromita Goswami


Title: The Clockmaker (Jungle Series Book1)

Author: Paromita Goswami

Genre: Paranormal Supernatural  Indian Drama


Can you change destiny? What if you can?

Ashish, a passionate clockmaker is frustrated with his life - financial insecurity, his ongoing nightmares and his family, wife Lata and son Vicky, are driving him crazy.

 Lata is having a tough time in life with her arch-rival, Rashmi. Vicky wants to be a biker than rather join the family legacy of the clockmaker. He also has a crush on Kavya who is more interested in supporting her family than romancing around.

Lately, Ashish starts hallucinating things. The black hooded man, who traumatizes him in the nightmares, warns him of dire consequences if he doesn’t return the timepiece that was given to Ashish by his father at his deathbed. Burdened with despair, Ashish wishes he could change his destiny and end all his miseries. By sheer chance, he discovers the power of the timepiece. Ashish was still figuring out what to do with it when an incident shatters his life completely. Without second thoughts he uses the power of the timepiece to change his destiny. But, can he really change it?

Amid the chaos of the busy by-lanes of the East Delhi unfolds a paranormal, supernatural, Indian drama that will leave you thrilled.

The Jungle Series – Get ready to be assaulted!

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About the author

Paromita Goswami is a writer and storyteller by passion and a rebel by choice. She says the world is full of stories and as a writer she loves to pen them down. Her work is not genre specific. From literary fiction to children book to paranormal thriller and women fiction, Paromita Goswami‘s books offer the variety of life to her readers. Besides writing, she is also the founder of a reading club that enhances book reading habit in children. She lives in central India with her family.

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