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!

Grab Your Copy @

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.

Other books by the author

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Thursday, May 30, 2019

It's Murder My Son by Lauren Carr : A Review

Book Details:

Book Title: It's Murder My Son by Lauren Carr
Series: A Mac Faraday Mystery (Book 1)
Category: Adult fiction, 288 pages
Genre: Murder Mystery
Publisher: Lauren Carr
Release date: June 23, 2010
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:

What started out as the worst day of Mac Faraday’s life would end up being a new beginning. After a messy divorce hearing, the last person that Mac wanted to see was another lawyer. Yet, this lawyer wore the expression of a child bursting to tell his secret. This confidence would reveal Mac as heir to undreamed of fortunes, and lead him to the birthplace of America’s Queen of Mystery and an investigation that will unfold like one of her famous mystery novels.

Soon after she moves to Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, Katrina Singleton learns that life in an exclusive community is not all good. For some unknown reason, a strange man calling himself “Pay Back” begins stalking her. When Katrina is found strangled all evidence points to her terrorist, who is nowhere to be found.

Three months later, the file on her murder is still open when Mac Faraday, sole heir to his unknown birth mother’s home and fortune, moves into the estate next door. Little does he know as he drives up to Spencer Manor that he is driving into a closed gate community that is hiding more suspicious deaths than his DC workload as a homicide detective. With the help of his late mother’s journal, this retired cop puts all his detective skills to work to pick up where the local investigators have left off to follow the clues to Katrina’s executer.


The book cover drew me in immediately that it needs a special mention. The largely greyscale like theme along with the words in that font sent the direct message about how the book will be. Wonderfully thought out image. I loved the placement of the gate and all elements about the cover.

The cast of Characters at the beginning of the book, and the one line definitions of the same - it is a unique feature because it gives their relationship with each other (and uses carefully chosen words that may, will, make the reader form certain notions before they enter the book. It is safe to assume that the reader's perception of the whole book will vary widely depending upon whether or not they have read and understood the list at the beginning. It did take me a few pages into the novel to realise that I was, indeed, reading the first installment of a familiar series. I am no stranger to Mac Faraday mysteries (nor Gnarly) but it was a special thrill to read that first book where it all began. I understood the importance of the cast of characters list then, and it still made my reading more pleasant, especially when I did NOT have to refer to it multiple times (thanks to easy writing).

When you are familiar with a series, you have a prior idea about how certain characters would behave. You have a good comfort level with the writing, and do not spend much time trying to independently analyse. If an author manages to make you want to read her books by her storytelling, and gives you that much-needed familiarity, that is half the battle won. I think Lauren Carr has always been that author for me. I get in tune with the style within a few pages, and then just read on without pauses. 

As far as 'detective thrillers' go, the Mac Faraday series uses a similar premise differently, making the reader take a pause before choosing the protagonist as the most dependable, best character of the series. This might also be my notion because I'd previously read other books from this series, and it is like watching the ninth episode of the show, and knowing the character arc of some major characters and then coming back to the first episode to see how it all began. 

The scene is set, the mystery is afoot, the detective is in place, (albeit a bit reluctantly) and the story has nothing preventing it from going full steam ahead. Be it with the helpful Archie or the (endearingly) roguish dog Gnarly, or the lead Faraday who is reluctant about the whole set up but eventually (grudgingly) ends up getting into the game, all of Lauren's characters have their own voices and choices, and if you are a seasoned reader, you already have your favourites. Though these are standalone, a series means that characters do continue in books and having seen the evolved versions of them you are hyper aware, and often pleasantly surprised about, their 'beginnings'.

It's Murder, My Son is that book which will be your must read if you are a Mac Faraday series (or a Lauren Carr) fan. The mystery was intriguing, even more so because of the reveal. The writing comfortably paced, the story interestingly delivered, and the book remaining a treat for the readers.

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

Buy It's Murder My Son:

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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Ends July 6, 2019

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Friday, May 17, 2019

The Pale-Faced Lie by David Crow : A Review

Book Details:

Book Title: The Pale-Faced Lie: A True Story by David Crow
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 344 pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Sandra Jonas Publishing House
Release date: May 7, 2019
Tour dates: May 6 to 17, 2019
Content Rating: PG-13 + Mature subject matter of abusive parenting. No explicit pornographic sex or excessive profanity.

Book Description:

Growing up on the Navajo Indian Reservation, David Crow and his three siblings idolized their dad. Tall, strong, smart, and brave, the self-taught Cherokee regaled his family with stories of his World War II feats. But as time passed, David discovered the other side of Thurston Crow, the ex-con with his own code of ethics that justified cruelty, violence, lies—even murder.

A shrewd con artist with a genius IQ, Thurston intimidated David with beatings to coerce him into doing his criminal bidding. David’s mom, too mentally ill to care for her children, couldn’t protect him. One day, Thurston packed up the house and took the kids, leaving her with nothing. Soon he remarried, and David learned that his stepmother was just as vicious and abusive as his father.

Through sheer determination, and with the help of a few angels along the way, David managed to get into college and achieve professional success. When he finally found the courage to stop helping his father with his criminal activities, he unwittingly triggered a plot of revenge that would force him into a showdown with Thurston Crow. With lives at stake, including his own, David would have only twenty-four hours to outsmart his father—the brilliant, psychotic man who bragged that the three years he spent in the notorious San Quentin State Prison had been the easiest time of his life.

The Pale-Faced Lie is a searing, raw, palpable memoir that reminds us what an important role our parents play in our lives. Most of all, it’s an inspirational story about the power of forgiveness and the ability of the human spirit to rise above adversity, no matter the cost.


It had been a long time since I had last read a memoir, as I am generally averse of reading non-fiction unless absolutely necessary. But when this came my way, something about the summary drew me in and I wanted to try another memoir. 

The book won over, in all senses of the word. 

'Pale-faced Lies' is not the average story that glorifies the writer/subject on whom it is written. The memoir deals with a lot of subtle things and is about a man's journey from an abusive childhood towards considerable success. All through this journey, the narrator(writer) David Crow talks in visceral detail about how his father was a shrewd, abusive and cunning parent who did not follow any laws, making David's life hell.

What does an abusive childhood do to a kid? What are the consequences of wrong parenting? The book details all this (mixed with ample doses of emotion and good writing) and also shows how abusive upbringing can affect the whole psyche of a child, even their whole adult lives.

From a child's point of view, when David details his love for his parents, and the realisations that shape his decisions later on in life, the book's writing is powerful enough to elicit support from the readers. The words seem to be both heartfelt and chosen carefully. Even if the narration does seem long and repetitive in some cases, the parts only go on to reiterate the power of the characters.

I have always believed that an ordinary story can become extraordinary with good writing and this book just combines both a riveting narration with true events that never let you forget, even for a moment, that some children had to go through whatever David has written about. The feeling of raw realness is the book's unique point and I believe it makes the reader unwilling to put the book down despite how graphic some descriptions might be.

Child-rearing (specifically not mentioning parenting) is one of the hardest things ever. Every parent needs to have some amount of responsibility for the children they have brought into this world, instead of using them as tools to further their own agendas. David's father exhibits his crude attitude best when he argues with the school counselors after being called in to discuss an essay that David had handed over. This point forth, the book veers into dangerous territory.

Some moments did make me take a long pause and wonder about how blessed some children's lives are compared to those who suffer for no fault of theirs. But the book is lengthy beyond comprehension, and if you are not drawn in already by the narration, chances are that you may feel that the descriptions get repetitive with time.

David Crow's power is in making the writing so relatable that he brought the Crow family (and other characters) alive in my mind as I read along. My only complaints are the length of the book, and the obvious lack of edits that would have removed some parts for a variety of reasons but I am just nitpicking.

Overall, the book mingled a lot of things for me: humour and horror, comedy and tragedy, hurt and courage. The list is endless and this is where the book succeeded in holding me riveted in parts as I could visualise the scene as if I were there. 

But the book is lengthy and definitely not your type if you do not like to read of shocking truths. The descriptions are vivid, the content very disturbing in places, and the subject matter too strong for delicate readers. This is no light read. It is a memoir that details a life that shows the messages of hope and positivity while narrating the ill-effects of bad parenting - if it could be called that.

The characters are memorable, the writing even more so. It is successful because it elicits a strong reaction from the average reader, and does not slacken in any place like memoirs usually tend to do. This, I believe, is the benchmark of any book, much less one that details real events in the life of a person.

Praise for The Pale-Faced Lie:

“[Crow] has considerable wisdom to impart, and an unexpected ending that will linger in memory. I promise that you've never read a book quite like this one."

—Jeff Guinn, New York Times bestselling author

“…A memoir of an extraordinary life that is lifted by extraordinary storytelling….It is emotionally engaging, consistently entertaining, and nearly impossible to put down.”
—James Anderson, author of The Never-Open Desert Diner and Lullaby Road

“Heartbreaking and gut-wrenchingly honest. Anyone with a troubled childhood should read The Pale-Faced Lie. David Crow’s book is proof that hope rises from the ashes.”
—Chris Enss, New York Times best-selling author

To read reviews, please visit David Crow's page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

Meet the Author:  

David Crow spent his early years on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona and New Mexico. Through grit, resilience, and a thirst for learning, he managed to escape his abusive childhood, graduate from college, and build a successful lobbyist business in Washington. Today, David is a sought-after speaker, giving talks to various businesses and trade organizations around the world.

Throughout the years, he has mentored over 200 college interns, performed pro bono service for the charitable organization Save the Children, and participated in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. An advocate for women, he will donate 10 percent of his book royalties to Barrett House, a homeless shelter for women in Albuquerque. David and his wife, Patty, live in the suburbs of DC.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ LinkedIn

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Ends May 25, 2019

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Successful Writer: Guest Post by G.C McRae, author of Free Pizza

The Successful Writer by G.C. McRae

If you did a survey of authors and asked them their definition of literary success, most of them would cite the example of an author like J.K. Rowling, who sells tens of millions of copies of each book. Far be it from me to dissuade anyone from striving for that rare kind of success, but I have met many authors who believe their options are binary: unless they are as successful as J.K. Rowling, they are failures.

My wife and I watch reality shows like The Voice. It’s a bit shocking to hear the same story over and over again. “I’ve been gigging in bars for over twenty years, five nights a week. I have just gotten married and we have a new baby. All I want to do is make my wife and daughter proud. I’m forty years old. This is my last chance.”

Umm... If bars want to hire you five nights a week, that is a full-time job that apparently you are quite successful at. But no. They consider themselves failures unless they can live in a mansion with gold-plated bathtub fixtures.

Literary agent Steve Laube did a quick survey of 10 authors who had their books at major publishers and discovered they had sold an average of 12,455 copies for each title. At $20 list price and 10% royalty rate, they earn around $25,000 per book. How is that not successful? Especially considering they have multiple books for sale at a time. And I have to mention Romance authors. In 2014, 15 percent of them earned $100,000 a year from their writing.

In every profession, there are clear paths to success. Success being defined as, “earning a living in your chosen discipline.” There are no clear paths to becoming the next J.K. Rowling or BeyoncĂ©. Most of the time it is not even up to you. Publishers reject books for any number of reasons. Quality writing often has nothing to do with their decisions. They reject works of pure genius all the time.
Getting from amateur status to professional may not even be one of your goals. Many writers find supreme fulfillment writing whatever they feel like without caring about earning a living from it. 

That’s the joy of being an amateur. The word amateur literally means “lover” (amatore in Italian). So when you’re deciding to put in all those hours on a story, take a moment to reflect. Are you doing it for love or for money? If it’s for love, calm the heck down about not having those gold-plated fixtures. If you’re doing it for money, do a little research on what sort of book makes those big bucks and spend some time developing the skills to write them.

Free Pizza by G.C. McRae : A Review

Book Details:

Book Title: Free Pizza by G.C. McRae
Category: Middle-Grade Fiction, 360 pages
Genre: Humorous Fiction
Publisher: MacDonald Warne Media
Release date: May 1, 2019
Tour dates: May 1 to 17, 2019
Content Rating: PG (No sex or drugs, just mild expletives such as "hell" and "damn".)

Book Description:

Brian McSpadden is always hungry. Does he have a disease? Worms? Does it have something to do with his being adopted? He spends his days at his crazy friend Danny’s house, hoping for snacks, but nothing seems to fill the void.

Then Brian receives a mysterious birthday card that says, Free Pizza. He soon discovers the card has nothing to do with food and everything to do with the big questions in his life: where did I come from, why did my mother give me up and is there anyone out there who will like me the way I am?

To read reviews, please visit G.C. McRae's page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

When I first heard of this book, it was naturally the title that held my complete attention. The second thing I noticed was the brilliantly designed cover that added the right amount of interest. Together they conveyed what the book was going to be about. A middle-grader level read about life and its confusions. 

I would not term this novel as a 'coming-of-age' story but it surely does deal with a lot of teenage angst and confusions that are common with that age where the line between childhood and adulthood blends. I loved how there was no pretense about the book being anything other than what it was advertised as. 

As to the story, the first person narrative can be a hit or miss for the readers. Brian can either be a character you relate with or someone you find as a slightly tiring narrator depending upon how you look at him. Though I could not relate or sympathise with the voice of Brian, I liked the continuous progression of events that made up the book leading Brian to his answers.

The premise of a search for his biological family keeps the novel going as Brian and Danny enter into slightly unlikely situations that make up for an interesting adolescent life. Brian is that typical teen protagonist who leads a previously boring life that is about to change abruptly one day (it does) and someone who gets caught helping out friends who get into trouble, though they do nothing wrong themselves. And it is Brian's voice that takes the book ahead, with all his confusions and doubts that can make almost all middle-graders nod in agreement and laugh out loud.

Though I could see that it was specifically put that way, to mimic the talks of a teenage narrator, I was not a fan of the abundance of slang. The usage of the word 'like' in between the narration makes it look like Brian is talking directly to the reader, agreed. But it also makes the language look forced. I did not have many problems with the usage of curse words, which is within permissible limits and quite common to middle-graders these days.

I personally liked the overall effect of the book despite having problems with its language and the one-dimensional narration. The story delivered what it promised and will be a hit with readers who fall in that age bracket. Maybe it will work completely as a life-changing story with the way it injects scenes into the main storyline. The deviations and distractions that make up the story serve their purpose - keep the reader entertained and hooked. 

Free Pizza is that book I would ask a middle grader to read if they wanted a light, relatable read that would make them snigger in agreement with the narration. The book is categorised as humour and it does elicit laughs. If your style of humour appreciation is different, this book might just not be for you. Otherwise, it is a good one-time read that may take you back to your teens and the bumbling confusions that come with that age.

An interesting book that delivered what it promised with the summary. 

Meet the Author:

G.C. McRae is the bestselling author of two young adult novels, three illustrated children's books and a collection of original fairy tales. His writing is fall-down funny, even when the theme is darker than a coal miner's cough. McRae reads to anybody at any time, in person or online, for free, which probably explains why he meets so many people and sells so many books.

In his latest work, Free Pizza, McRae spins the highly emotional themes from his decidedly unfunny childhood into a brilliantly comic yarn. After being given up for adoption by his teenage mom back when single girls were forced to hide unplanned pregnancies, his adoptive parents didn’t exactly keep him under the stairs but, well, let's just say, there were spiders.

A lot has changed since then. McRae’s own children have now grown and he runs a small farm with his wife, who is herself an award-winning writer.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ LibraryThing

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Sunday, May 12, 2019

Guest post by Joe Giordano, Author of Drone Strike (Anthony Provati thrillers)

Guest Post: Strategies and Tactics of the ISIL Caliphate – Joe Giordano

The Management of Savagery
Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) supported by U.S. airstrikes will eradicate the last stronghold of ISIL, The Islamic State in the Levant’s caliphate.

The strategy and tactics ISIL employed to establish and expand power could be termed the ‘management of savagery,’.
As a rallying cry for Moslems around the world, ISIL’s initial goals were to create a caliph, a religious figurehead, and a caliphate in the name of God and Arab history and to take territory in Syria as a beachhead to invade and conquer Iraq.
The caliphate modeled itself after Saddam Hussein’s former, omnipresent security apparatus. An emir of intelligence supervised surveillance, espionage, murder, and kidnapping. The principles applied were: everyone watches everyone and deceive all but those who love God.
In villages, ISIL opened Islamic missionary centers for recruitment and to spy.  Powerful families were investigated to discover their source of income, and if any of their activities (homosexuality, secret affairs, criminality) could be blackmailed under Sharia law. Marriage into influential families was promoted. Local imams were scrutinized for details on their life and family, their political leanings, and opinion on jihad. Clan heads would be intimidated to take a loyalty oath or be kidnaped and killed along with anyone refusing involvement or standing in the way.
ISIL sought recruits critical of sheiks, former intelligence operatives, men without jobs, disaffected from society, bitter and unemployed. They sought nationalists not Islamists. They exploited the faith of others. Foreign recruits ranged from Saudis, Tunisians, school dropouts from Europe, battle-tested Chechens and Uzbeks, the odd American, Turks, Egyptians, and Indonesians.
Militarily, they sought to capture weapons depots and raise operational funds from black market oil and refined product sales, the illicit drug trade, and the smuggling of looted antiquities.

Drone Strike by Joe Giordano: A Review

BOOK TITLE: Drone Strike: An Anthony Provati Thriller

AUTHOR: Joe Giordano

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1624204296

GENRE: Fiction / Thriller

NUMBER OF PAGES: 290 pages

FORMAT: Digital

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank iRead Book Tours for this review copy


Karim's family is killed as 'collateral damage' by a U.S. drone strike in Iraq. The Islamic State in the Levant exploits his rage, recruiting him for a terrorist attack on the U.S., and only Anthony Provati can stop him. Drone Strike takes you on a fast-paced adventure across the Mediterranean, into Mexico, finally arriving in the States. Drone Strike explores the psychological realities that seduce Karim to commit an act of terror, includes a love story between Moslem Karim and Miriam, a Christian woman he defends in Turkey, and highlights the plight of Middle Eastern and Central American refugees.


I had already read the previous book of this author and therefore had a slight idea of what to expect from this book in terms of writing and the character. The writing impressed me enough to take up the next book as well, when chance presented it for review. The summary is simple, straightforward and promises a different kind of read. We are used to war stories that show off the gory effects and after effects of war but this one deals with a different angle of wars - the vicious cycle of being affected by it and then participating in it driven by spite and pain. The psychological effects of war would make any book that deals about it in the right way sound interesting and make for a great read.


I began reading Drone Strike with a notion set in my mind, and it did not disappoint. The book kept me engrossed with the pages turning quickly. Reading this feels like I had revisited a familiar universe, and that is a credit to the author for having crafted a memorable character, and having a unique style that feels familiar for repeat/sequel readers.

This is one of those books based in Middle East that does not repetitively focus on the worst situation in the Middle East and just gives the reader an overview while focusing more on the other aspects of war, of mixing ideologies and the corresponding clashes as the characters come to terms with what they were born into, what they believed to be right and what eventually happened to change their perspectives. The religious issues and beliefs that form the core of one's actions are dealt with in a philosophical way making this book a reflective read.

As I had already once observed, Anthony Provati is a falteringly human hero, making him an interesting character to follow. He is not the epitome of perfection but he is a great protagonist. But in this book, the author has also made the reader like and follow Karim, whose mind's working has been brought to light by wonderful narration. It is hard enough to maintain a single point narration but this book follows a dual POV linear narration - the parts of Anthony being in first person and the remaining in third person PoVs.

This line struck a chord with me. This sums up Anthony's observation of how the relationship panned out with respect to the other main character, Karim. This line explains how the softer emotion and its effect on whatever events are going to unfold in the book.

"Miriam's love for Karim complicated matters. I saw how she felt, even if he didn't. Too clouded by his hate, perhaps. She'd been set adrift by the Syrian civil war. Another tragic refugee among the millions. Unlike the others, not a distant, impersonal statistic."

As one of the characters says, love is a stronger emotion than hate, and the ultimate chase to the climax (which has a brilliant twist) made this book a wonderfully reflective read. I had read through the whole book thinking of it as a journey and when it ended, I was left looking for more pages to follow. The story was engaging, the narrative adding to the book's beauty. The characters were well fleshed-out. The book needed a round of edits to check for typos and adjust pace but the overall effect was good enough.

  • The author has done due research and written a realistic story
  • The characters are multi-dimensional and stand for long in our mind.
  • The narration and the story development arc
  • The book is not for those who are easily upset by the descriptions of the effects of war, even the psychological ones - seeing as that is the core concept in this book, it has been used in excess.
  • There is a constant change in pace, and sometimes it noticeably slackens.
  • The climax (though it was a good twist) did not sit well with me. (reasons withheld due to spoilers)

An interesting read if you look for different perspectives on war thrillers. Makes better impact if you have read the previous books.



As a former International Executive Vice President of 3M, Joe Giordano’s experience included running a business in the Middle East out of Athens, Greece. Born in New York, he’s had first-hand experience with the cultures and most of the locations in Drone Strike.

Joe's stories have appeared in more than one hundred magazines including The Saturday Evening Post and Shenandoah. His novels, Birds of Passage: An Italian Immigrant Coming of Age Story (2015) and Appointment with ISIL: An Anthony Provati Thriller (2017) were published by Harvard Square Editions. Read the first chapters and sign up for his blog at ​

Joe was among one hundred Italian-American authors honored by Barnes & Noble Chairman Len Riggio to march in the 2017 Manhattan, Columbus Day Parade.


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