Friday, June 28, 2019

Winter Frost by Lauren Carr: A Review




Book Details:

Book Title: Winter Frost (A Chris Matheson Cold Case Mystery Book 2) by Lauren Carr
Category: Adult fiction, 290 pages
Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural, Cozy
Publisher: Acorn Book Services
Release date: January 28, 2019
Tour dates: May 1 - June 28, 2019
Content Rating: PG (It's a murder mystery and there is mild violence. Very mild swearing no F-bombs. No on-stage sex scenes.)

Book Description:

It all started with a chance encounter in the city with Blair, his late wife.

Chris Matheson and the Geezer Squad, working under the guise of a book club, dig into the events surrounding his late wife’s supposed death halfway around the globe. A state department employee shoots himself in the back three times. A CIA operative goes missing. A woman is targeted by an international assassin three years after being declared dead in a terrorist attack overseas.

Nothing is as it seems.

In his most personal cold case, Chris fights to uncover why the state department told him that Blair, the mother of his children, had been killed when she was alive. What had she uncovered that has made her a target? Who terrified her so much that she had gone into hiding and why are they now after him?

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

Review


Yet another Carr thriller package! Similar brilliance, engaging storyline, interesting characters, and of course, the style that has earned her good fans.

I had read the first book in the series, Ice, only recently, and fell in love with the smoothness of narration and the new set of characters. So this book felt like stepping into the next episode immediately after watching the first episode. Though I was not using the cover to decide if I'd go with reading the book, it still was a perfect fit, as usual, with not much data but still is fitting. The blurb is fantastic, short, and intriguing. It highlights and sets in place the important events that will fill the book. 

As I would always say about Carr, she has the ability to write books that make the readers feel familiar with the characters, root for their favourites, and be impressed by how much can be unearthed. Having read the first book in this series only recently, reading this book felt like the continuation I was lucky to get immediately. 

I have often read books with cold cases before, or at least relevance of current case with some older case. Police procedural thrillers often have this reference cases plot to increase the interest. But I have to say I love Carr's version of cold cases the best, hands down. The more personal they are, the better the effect for me, and be it with Faraday or Matheson, (her protagonists), this plot element makes readers love the corresponding impact the closeness will have during investigations, giving them the emotional angles behind cold cases.

It is only with Carr that pets would do some really sensible actions, infuse humour and show intelligence beyond expected in the plots. The book's Sterling is no exception. This book (without giving away spoilers) is as usual one with good twists, interesting language and keeps the readers turning the pages not just to rush through to the ending but to actually enjoy and imbine every word, seeing as they could not put down the book in between.

The blurb already kicks up the readers' interest, and only reading the book could tell you if the answers are satisfactory, and the explanations are fitting.

Yet another winner from Lauren Carr, undoubtedly.


Buy Winter Frost:


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

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends July 6, 2019


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

ICE by Lauren Carr : A Review




Book Details:

Book Title: ICE by Lauren Carr
Category: Adult fiction, 380 pages
Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural, Cozy
Publisher: Acorn Book Services
Release date: April 25, 2018
Tour dates: May 1 - June 28, 2019
Content Rating: PG (It's a murder mystery and there is mild violence. Very mild swearing no F-bombs. No on-stage sex scenes.)

Book Description:

The clues for a close-to-the-heart missing person’s case heat up when Chris Matheson starts chipping away at the ice on the cold case.

When Sandy Lipton and her unborn child disappear, the court of public opinion finds young Chris Matheson guilty. Decades later, the retired FBI agent returns home to discover that the cloud of suspicion cast over him and his family has never lifted. With the help of a team of fellow retired law enforcement officers, each a specialist in their own field of investigation, Chris Matheson starts chipping away at the ice on this cold case to uncover what had happened to Sandy and her baby and the clues are getting hot!

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

Review


In one line: Reading ICE felt like revisiting a familiar place with a new companion. 

I have always been a fan of Lauren Carr's quick paced books and interesting mysteries. I am a personal fan of the Mac Faraday series, and it was therefore not a difficult choice for me to pick this book up when the chance came my way. And it did not disappoint me.

In view of spoilers and comments, I am not comparing the two series of books. But since I had already read another series from the same author, I have to comment on how this book is entirely different and makes it a worthy reading experience. 

The book deals with a cold case that has to be opened after ages to lift the cloud of suspicion that had fallen on Chris Matheson, resulting in his exit from the town despite being cleared by the law enforcement. When cold cases are opened, it is usually because something similar had come up, or fresh evidence has come to light about crimes that happened ages ago.

Lauren Carr knows how to deal with this effectively, bringing out fresh murders that happen in similar methods, and also give importance to cases from the past that need to be solved if the present cases are expected to make sense. I absolutely love the way she keeps the readers hooked to the action with her gripping narration.

Instead of just one primary brain, this story involves a club of sorts, the Geezer Squad that is by far the most interesting group of people I have read about in books. I love their brains, and their approach to the crimes, not to mention how the connect the dots and the invisible ley lines with seemingly unrelated events.

Lauren Carr's usual style is comforting to read, with interesting animals, people with wry humour, and the interesting squad of people. It makes me happy to realise that this is the first book in a series, meaning that there are more to come. I am already onto the next book in this series.

Overall, the book can be read in one sitting, and that is praise to the narration too, which never slackens or reduces the pace. The language is easy on the mind, not resorting to unnecessary words. And if ever you are confused about the number of characters, Lauren obligingly provides a character list that can be referred to from time to time. But with the way the book is paced, the need for this is very minimal.


Special mention for creating another different group of characters and for the ability to think of and pen down many mysteries, providing the proper clues and conclusion. Fans of Carr should not miss this.

Buy ICE:




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

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends July 6, 2019


a Rafflecopter giveaway


The Demon's Crystal by Lenard Hale: A Review


BOOK TITLE: The Demon's Crystal

AUTHOR: Lenard Hale

ISBN/ASIN: B07Q5D65CX

GENRE: Science Fiction

NUMBER OF PAGES: 299

FORMAT: Digital / Kindle

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone (Sequel coming up)

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank the author and Debdatta Sahay of ddsreviews.in for this review copy

SUMMARY:

For Eric Frost, Madagascar is a place of beauty and learning. A researcher in bio-robotics, Eric finds the sheer variety of flora and fauna fascinating – but when he finds Unseen Madagascar, an unassuming book by a missing British author named Richard Walters, Eric learns that there’s more to the nation than meets the eye.

The text speaks of an island off the coast of Madagascar known only as Demon Island. There, the author suggests, lives an isolated and hostile tribe of natives who seem to jealously guard something held deeper in the island’s interior.

Eric, along with his friends Ivy and Max, pledge to get to the bottom of the mystery. They travel to Madagascar and begin to plan a journey out to Demon Island, but instead they meet the mysterious Daniel, a self-proclaimed American explorer full of dark warnings and vague stories. He eventually agrees to help Eric and his friends get to Demon Island, but at a price…

THE DEMON'S CRYSTAL is Lenard Hale's thrilling first novel, and is sure to appeal to fans of sci-fi and adventure alike.

FIRST IMPRESSION:

The cover was interesting, and the blurb set the scene immediately in my mind, making this an obvious choice to read on a dull evening. When I got a chance to pick this book up, I was immediately impressed by the blurb, wondering what uncommon thing could come out of a common premise. 

REVIEW:

The book begins like the usual thrilling script of a science fiction novel. A forest, a dark night, a mystery find, and abrupt silencing by unknown entities. I found that the beginning (in fact the entire first half of the book) kept me thrilled enough as I tried to remember the characters, second guess the stories and find out what was wrong and who was behind it. I had settled myself to read a version of earth-space dystopian science fiction, but the book surprised me. The story was intriguing enough with twists and turns that kept the interest alive.

The premise itself is deceptively simple, a secret trail that consumes those who go in search of it, and leaves no trace. Someone else follows him and uncovers new information that sheds light on the mysterious disappearances. But to try to bring 'Demon's Crystal' to fit this premise is an injustice to the wonderfully concocted story. The book wins in taking a familiar premise and spinning an interesting story behind it. While I was not entirely sold with the science fiction aspect of it (a fair few technical terms included), I really loved how the story progressed. Some terms did remind me of Latin spells (a mixture of fantasy, maybe?) but overall the book was written and packaged well.

True to the author's declaration about 'westerners' being the unchallenged authorities on all things science-fiction, the story does seem to work well in the way he has presented it, with western characters in western settings. But even through all that, the story transcends its need to be identified with a particular nationality. Special mention to the intelligent use of time relation, (a year ago, and this year, etc) instead of saying an actual year. This makes the book practically timeless, making it good enough from vintage to futuristic. I really appreciate how the book carried that off well.

The language is decent, the writing good. But the book could have really become a better read with another round of proofreading, for there were obvious typographical errors, especially near the climax, as that seemed to have been wrapped up quickly. I would rate the book positive for the attempt in decent sci-fi, and the engaging storyline and smooth language, but I wish the author had handled the sequence of events in a more streamlined manner. This is not a major complaint but still was significant enough to mention.

Hoping to read more Indianised sci-fi from Lenard Hale. 

WHAT I LIKED:
  • An interesting, decent attempt at science fiction. This book has proven that it does not have to be in 'a distant planet a thousand years into the future.'
  • The pace is even, and the book manages to hold the reader engrossed.
  • The language is smooth.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
  • The characters (and their backstories) needed some fleshing out.
  • A seemingly rushed climax that falls flat for all the pull of the book.
  • The book is not exactly an action/adventure thriller. But more technical. That needs to be advertised clearly.
VERDICT:

An interesting attempt, with an engaging storyline and smooth narration.

RATING: 4/5

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Paperback.

PRICE Rs. 69 for Kindle, Rs. 315 for Paperback

BOOK LINKS: Amazon


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.

Review


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

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends July 6, 2019


a Rafflecopter giveaway


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



VELVALEE’S DOLL COLLECTION

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.