Review: The Murders at Astaire Castle by Lauren Carr

Welcome to Lauren Carr’s Audiobook-a-palooza Blog Tour! To celebrate the release of Lauren Carr’s mysteries in audiobook format, we have 14 books from her three series on tour!

 


To follow the tour and to read reviews, please visit Lauren Carr’s page on iRead Book Tours.
Today we stop at
The Murders at Astaire Castle, book 5 of The Mac Faraday Mystery Series:


Buy the Audiobook ~ Book

 

 

 

Book Description:

 


Never tell Mac Faraday not to do something.

Spencer’s police chief, David O’Callaghan, learns this lesson the hard way when he orders Mac Faraday to stay away from the south end of Spencer’s mountaintop – even though he owns the property. It doesn’t take long for Mac to find out what lies on the other side of the stone wall and locked gate, on which hangs a sign warning visitors to Keep Out!

Topping the list of the 10 top haunted places in America, Astaire Castle is associated with two suicides, three mysterious disappearances, and four murders since it was built almost a century ago – and Mac Faraday owns it!

In spite of David’s warning, Mac can’t resist unlocking the gate to see the castle that supposedly hasn’t seen a living soul since his late mother had ordered it closed up after the double homicide and disappearance of Damian Wagner, a world-famous master of horror novels.

What starts out as a quick tour of a dusty old castle turns into another Mac Faraday adventure when Astaire Castle becomes the scene of even more murders. Mac is going to need to put all of his investigative talents to work to sort out this case that involves the strangest characters he has run into yet – including a wolf man. No, we’re not talking about Gnarly.

 

My thoughts:

This is the fifth book in the Mac Faraday Mystery Series, and the second book I listened to. Like Old Loves Die Hard, this can be read as a stand-alone novel. All the characters and their connections are properly introduced, and although it is clear that we’ve moved on in time, I never felt I missed something.

In this book, the focus is more on David and his past, than it is on Mac Faraday. And David has an interesting past, a good deal of which is connected to the haunted Astaire Castle, a property belonging to Mac Faraday and of which the latter had been ignorant until now.

Strange things used to go on at the castle, and the moment Mac Faraday gets involved, the series of murders starts afresh.

It is all very mysterious, and once again, the ending is perplexing (good job that I’m not a private investigator). There’s even some paranormal activity, but it is believable, considering the whole circumstances.

I really like the characters of Mac Faraday, Archie, David, and the rest, but I absolutely love Gnarly.

He’s such a great dog, and all his antics grant some comic relief. I laughed out loud on occasions, I really pictured Gnarly doing what he did. In my eyes, he is readily the best character in this series.

Last week, I said I’d love to explore the area at Deep Creek Lake, but I’d give that castle a wide berth (fortunately, it is fictional).

Dan Lawson did a wonderful job at narrating the story. I have to say that I enjoyed this narration more than the one I wrote about last week. The characters were very distinctive, especially Hector, the Australian. I’ll certainly listen to other books by Dan Lawson, his take on the novel convinced throughout — as did the story. It drew me in right from the start and is a true page turner.

My thanks go to Laura Fabiani from iread booktours who provided me with a free copy of this great audio book.

Meet the Author:

Picture

Lauren Carr

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!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, 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, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with LaurenWebsite  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

Meet the Narrator:

Picture

Dan Lawson
Over the past several years Dan Lawson has appeared in numerous spots for radio, television and the internet. He has worked with All-State, Sprint PCS, Mountain Dew and many more. His unique ability to mimic existing characters and celebrities has landed him diverse voice match work ranging from Charlie Sheen to Morgan Freeman.

In 2008 Dan was cast as the first American voice actor for the Korean video game company, Nexon. Over the next several years Dan was the flagship voice of the company, appearing in such titles as Mabinogi, Maple Story, Vindictus, Dragon Nest, Dungeon Fighter Online and Atlantica. In total he has voiced nearly 100 characters for Nexon.

In late 2012 Dan’s voice over career took an unexpected turn into book narration. His first audition landed him the job of narrating The Psychology of Twilight, a psychological look at the wide-spread obsession of the Twilight saga created by Stephanie Meyer.  Eighteen more audiobook narrations have followed and show no signs of slowing down.

Interview: James C. Lewis (Narrator) & Review: Old Loves Die Hard by Lauren Carr (Author)

Welcome to Lauren Carr’s Audiobook-a-palooza Blog Tour! To celebrate the release of Lauren Carr’s mysteries in audiobook format, we have 14 books from her three series on tour!

 


To follow the tour and to read reviews, please visit Lauren Carr’s page on iRead Book Tours.Today we stop at
The Mac Faraday Mystery Series:
Buy the Audiobook ~ Book
Book Description:

Old loves die hard…and in the worst places.

In Old Loves Die Hard, Lauren Carr continues the rags-to-riches story of Mac Faraday, an underpaid homicide detective who inherits 270 million dollars and an estate on Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, from his birth mother on the day his divorce becomes final.

Mac is settling nicely into his new life at Spencer Manor when his ex-wife Christine shows up-and she wants him back! Before Mac can send her packing, Christine and her estranged lover are murdered in Mac’s private penthouse suite at the Spencer Inn, the five-star resort built by his ancestors.

The investigation leads to the discovery of cases files for some of Mac’s murder cases in the room of the man responsible for destroying his marriage. Why would his ex-wife’s lover come to Spencer to dig into Mac’s old cases?

With the help of his new friends on Deep Creek Lake, Mac must use all of his detective skills to clear his name and the Spencer Inn’s reputation, before its five-stars – and more bodies – start dropping!

Disclosure: Thanks to iread book tours for sending me this audio book for review. I was not told how to rate or review this product.

My thoughts:

This was my first MacFaraday novel, as well as the first novel by Lauren Carr. It is not the first book in the series, but I had absolutely no trouble following the plot, because all the characters are properly introduced, and their background is sufficiently explained, so I never felt that I missed something because I didn’t know the previous books, yet.

The story is a mystery until the very end; there are many twists and turns, and I never saw it coming. It was convincing, too. We have a great character-building here, the characters aren’t just black or white, but everything in between, most of them have something to hide, so we have lots of suspects.

I wasn’t too sure about the dog, it has a special ability which seemed odd, if not impossible, but then who knows what a well-trained, intelligent dog is capable of. I have since done a bit of research, and apparently it’s not all that abstract after all.  I absolutely loved the dog’s antics, in those moments,  he seemed to be one clever dog-like dog.

I’m now curious about the area, and I’d really love to see it for real one day. The story drew me in from the start, and kept me listening; and I look forward to listening to others in that series.

I only really just noticed the cover (I’m not a cover person), and I wonder if it could give a wrong impression. Let me assure you, that the author doesn’t dwell on all the gory details of the bloody murders here committed, and although there is some romance, it’s not at all taking place between linen sheets.

The narration was good and easy to listen to. Although there isn’t much in the way of different timbres, dialects, or accents, and all the characters sounded more or less alike to me, I didn’t really have problems following who said what, so there must have been variations after all, but they certainly weren’t overdone.

I already told you how the interview came about in a previous blog post, and here it is now:

Interview with narrator James C. Lewis (see more below):

How do you prepare for accents and different characters?

 

Once I was narrating a book of 19th century preachers in Wales. One of them was from Cynghordy, a village in the rural community of Llanfair-ar-y-bryn in Carmarhenshire. Oh my! I went to my usual sources: You Tube and several web sites. Finally I called Spire Hospital in Cardiff, the capital. (I have a phone plan that costs only one cent per minute for international calls.) But they were too busy saving lives and hung up on me. Then I phoned up the newspaper, the South Wales Argus in Cardiff. The young reporter thought I was joking. But I convinced him I was on the level. And he helped me right away! I think that my decidedly American accent may have helped.

 

Are there any genres you prefer narrating?

 

I have a fondness for crime fiction and spy dramas. I come from a journalism background. At one time, I was a police reporter in Seattle and I came to deeply respect cops and their emotionally taxing jobs. And I enjoy being the voice of the tall tough-talking private detective with the snazzy girlfriend. (I’m not very tall. But please keep that information just between us.)

 

Will you narrate any book if the conditions are right?

 

I have narrated a wide range of books but not erotica. But I’ve narrated some horror fiction with really creepy monsters. (They’re actually the best!)

What is the hardest part of narrating a book?

 

The hardest part is finding the voice of the character. Is the character old, young, angry, happy, educated, ignorant? And of course where are they from. I find that evil characters from Eastern Europe are the easiest to do. And it’s hard being confined to a small studio by myself (other than the character’s voices).

 

How is the work with the author?

 

I really like Lauren Carr’s work. Being the voice of Mac Faraday is great fun. Lauren writes for the ear as well as the eye. She would be a great screen writer. (And she’s wonderful to work with!)

I’d like to thank Mr Lewis for answering my questions, and Laura Fabiani from iread book tours for managing it all.

Meet the Author:

Picture

Lauren Carr

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!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, 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, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with LaurenWebsite  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

Meet the Narrator:

Picture

Another Audible Approved narrator, voice actor  James Lewis has established a solid reputation in fiction as well as non-ficton audiobooks. At latest count, he’s narrated nearly 50.

Although his specialty is noir fiction, James has done several non-fiction books as well on a range of people and subjects: Butch and Sundance, General Custer, Revolutionary War, psychic development, taxes.

James Lewis has been awarded the AudioFile Earphone Award for narration, „The Last Outlaws“. It’s about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

 

Coming up: Review of Old Loves Die Hard / Interview with James Lewis

 

As part of Lauren Carr’s  Audiobook-a-palooza Blog Tour, I volunteered to listen to two of her mysteries: an early one (Old Loves Die Hard), and a more recent one (The Murders at Astaire Castle). Plus, I applied for an interview with one of the narrators. Now, I’ve never done an interview before, so I wasn’t sure what questions to ask. After all, the goal is, to ask interesting questions. In the application form, I typed a few in off the top of my head, intending to deliberate in an email — which I never wrote, because I was just so consumed in all to do with my moving house and all that entails.

So, Laura from iread booktours and James C. lewis had only the original questions to work with, and they did a great job — much better than what I did. My review of Old Loves Die Hard and the interview will be part of the above mentioned Blog tour on May 11.

For information and the schedule of the whole tour look here.  There’ll be reviews,  interviews with other narrators, give-aways, and more.

So,mark the date and place: May 11, here on this blog.

Review: Yellow-billed Magpie by Nancy Schoellkopf

Nancy Schoellkopf: Yellow-billed Magpie; Butterfly Tree Productions, 204 p.,

Book Description for Yellow-billed Magpie:

 

Unlike their black-billed cousins, yellow-billed magpies are rarely found outside California’s central valley. So when they begin showing up in Samantha O’Malley’s dreams, she wonders: are they calling me home?

 

Disappointed by failed fertility treatments and the break-up of her marriage, Samantha returns to her home town and slips into old habits, resuming her teaching career, even hooking up with an old lover. But she also renews her friendship with Craig, the school custodian she honors as her spiritual guide. The work they do together with Samantha’s special education students will lead her to discoveries she never thought possible.

 

Yellow-billed Magpie is a love story, a spiritual journey, a quest to look beyond appearances to the mystical rhythms that guide the human heart.

 

Buy the book:   Amazon  ~  Add to Goodreads

My thoughts:

When I browsed the iread book tours for available books, I came across Red-tailed Hawk by Nancy Schoellkopf. The synopsis sounded interesting, and since it was hinted that, though not a sequel, it was in a way related to Yellow-billed Magpie, I decided, to review this, too.

Now, I’m not into this whole esoteric business, and I haven’t actually researched spirituality, but  the latter fascinates me. I read Mutant Message Down Under all those years ago, and I devoured the Inspector Shan Tao Yun novels. All describe spiritual peoples of a very different origin, and I’m awed by this.

In Yellow-billed Magpie, there is yet another form of spirituality described, and although I cannot really comprehend it, it is yet fascinating. I couldn’t find out on which people’s spirituality the one in the book is based on, my feeling was, that it was a mixture of various.

The spiritual journey Samantha does, isn’t lying at the fore for a long time. The main story is about her trying to pick up her life where she left it before her marriage, and how she is coping.

We get glimpses of something indefinable throughout the book, but it is only when Craig appears on the scene that things start to take shape.

I have to admit, that although I’m convinced that there are more things between heaven and earth than we can explain scientifically, I couldn’t quite buy into some of the things described here. This may be due to my lack of religious belief on the one hand, and ignorance of the whole matter on the other hand. However, this being fiction, I am willing to accept it, because I have no problems accepting lots of  impossible (to me) things in fantasy and science fiction novels.

On the whole, this was a nice story about a woman finding her way after having lived through some unhappy years, and glimpses into the work with children with special needs to boot.

The language is simple and very readable, the book could do with some editing, though, there are missing or wrong words and punctuation.

Disclosure: Thanks to iread book tours for sending me this book for review. I was not told how to rate or review this product.

 About the author:

Nancy Schoellkopf is the author of Yellow-billed Magpie, the first in her Easter Family series. Nancy has been telling stories and writing poems for many lifetimes. It goes without saying that she’d need a second income, so this time around she has happily taught amazing children in special education classes in two urban school districts in Sacramento, California. A full time writer now, she enjoys lavishing attention on her cats, her garden, and her intriguing circle of family and friends.

 

Connect with the author:    Website  ~   Twitter  ~   Facebook

Blogtour: Lizzis letzter Tango von Anja Marschall

 

Anja Marschall: Lizzis letzter Tango; ATB; ebook, 255 S., €7,99
Anja Marschall: Lizzis letzter Tango; ATB; ebook, 255 S., €7,99

 

Im Buch wird das Thema der Altersarmut mit Humor und Witz angegangen, aber die Realität sieht doch anders aus. Je nachdem wo man guckt, wird es kräftig heruntergespielt, oder vielleicht auch übertrieben. Die Berliner Zeitung vom August letzten Jahres zum Beispiel erzählt uns praktisch, dass das ja alles gar kein Thema ist, und dass es den Rentnern im Schnitt besser geht als noch vor fünf Jahren. Sie spricht gar von einer ‚Seniorenlobby‘ — seit wann haben die Senioren eine Lobby hier im Land? Zum Schluss räumt die Zeitung dann ein, dass sich die Situation für meine Generation und jünger ab 2030 drastisch verschlechtern wird. Also was nun?

Die genauen Daten kann man übrigens auf der Seite des statistischen Bundesamtes nachlesen. Man kann es aber auch — wenn man, wie ich, über 50 ist — der jährlichen Rentenauskunft entnehmen, die man zugeschickt bekommt. Da sieht man, dass die voraussichtliche Rente von Jahr zu Jahr geringer wird. Leider kann ich das Anschreiben nicht mehr finden, aber darin hieß es lapidar, dass die Menschen hierzulande immer länger leben, und dass daher die Rente geringer ausfallen wird als noch letztes Jahr prognostiziert. Von dem bisschen, was sie einem zugestehen, muss man natürlich noch Steuern, Kranken- und Pflegeversicherung bezahlen.

Je nach Versicherungsverlauf fällt das höher oder niedriger aus — und da Frauen oft immer noch zu Hause bleiben und die Kinder großziehen, oder sich als schlechtverdienende Alleinerziehende in Teilzeitjobs durchschlagen, ist deren voraussichtliche Rente sehr gering. Denen bleibt dann vermutlich nichts anderes übrig, als der Gang zum Sozialamt, um die sogenannte Grundsicherung zu beantragen — ein Schicksal, das auch mich erwarten wird.

Dafür dürfen wir dann aber ein paar Jahre länger arbeiten, je nach Geburtsjahr bis wir 67 sind.

Das Geld, das Lizzi gebunkert hatte, war tatsächlich kein Reichtum, aber die Summe würde mir sicherlich helfen, ein bisschen besser über die Runden zu kommen. Einen Platz in einer noblen Seniorenresidenz wie dieser könnte ich mir davon aber nicht leisten, es sei denn, ich erwartete, dass ich nach Rentenbeginn nur nach knapp zwei Jahre lebte, denn so ein Apartment wie Lizzi es hat, kostet ca € 2200 monatlich. Da kann ich lieber da wohnen bleiben, wo ich jetzt bin, auch wenn die schon wieder die Miete erhöht haben.

Solltet ihr noch jung sein, lasst euch eines sagen: sorgt vor für das Alter. Es kommt auch auf euch zu, und die Aussicht, weniger als das Existenzminimum zu bekommen, ist nicht erstrebenswert.

Frauen, lasst eure Männer zu Hause bleiben und die Kinder erziehen, sucht euch einen gut bezahlten Job, und sorgt für eure Rente vor, denn Bankräuber sind rar gesät.

Zu gewinnen gibt es natürlich auch was.

Beantwortet mir folgende Frage: Habt  ihr schon über eure Altersvorsorge nachgedacht und eventuell sogar Vorkehrungen getroffen?

(Da ich momentan nur über mobiles Internet mit schlechtem Signal verfüge, kann es ein bisschen dauern, bis eure Kommentare freigeschaltet werden)

Zu gewinnen gibt es:

3 Exemplare Taschenbuch “Lizzis letzter Tango”

3 Exemplare E-Book “Lizzis letzter Tango”

Teilnahmebedingungen:

Die Teilnahme am Gewinnspiel ist ab einem Alter von 18 Jahren möglich
Bei Minderjährigen ist die Teilnahme nur mit Erlaubnis der Erziehungs-/Sorgeberechtigten möglich
Der Versand der Gewinne erfolgt nur innerhalb Deutschland, Österreich und Schweiz. Der Rechtsweg ist ausgeschlossen.
Für den Postversand wird keinerlei Haftung übernommen.
Eine Barauszahlung des Gewinns ist leider nicht möglich.
Als Teilnehmer erklärt man sich einverstanden, dass im Gewinnfall die Mailadresse/Adresse an die Autorin oder an den Verlag übersendet werden darf, und man als Gewinner öffentlich genannt werden darf.
Mehrfachbewerbungen durch verschiedene Vornamen, Nachnamen, Emailadressen oder Pseudonym sind unzulässig und werden bei der Auslosung ausgeschlossen.
Das Gewinnspiel wird durch den Blog Sabine Ibing durchgeführt.
Das Gewinnspiel beginnt am 16.05.2016 um 00:01 Uhr und endet am 22.05.2016 um 23:59 Uhr

Hier sind noch mal alle Stationen  der Blogtour:

 

Blogtour: Lizzis letzter Tango

16.05. – Buch Bria mit Vorstellung des Buches
17.05. – Blätterflüstern mit Altersarmut in einem reichen Land?
18.05. – Ira Ebner mit Unkonventionelle Menschen, was unterscheidet sie von anderen?
19.05. – Chrissisbuntelesecouch mit Jeder ist seines Glückes Schmied. — Scheint entfallen zu sein.
20.05 – Dieter Paul Rudolph mit Im Alter arbeiten müssen… manch einer MUSS das, ein anderer freut sich.
21.05 – Sabine Ibing mit Interview mit Anja Marschall
22.05. – Sabine Ibing – Verlosung

Blogtour Ankündigung: Lizzis letzter Tango

Blogtour: Lizzis letzter Tango

Morgen ist es soweit: Die Blogtour für das Buch Lizzis letzter Tango von Anja Marschall beginnt.

Die teilnehmenden Blogs, Daten und Themen sind folgende:

 

16.05. – Buch Bria mit Vorstellung des Buches
17.05. – Blätterflüstern mit Altersarmut in einem reichen Land?
18.05. – Ira Ebner mit Unkonventionelle Menschen, was unterscheidet sie von anderen?
19.05. – Chrissisbuntelesecouch mit Jeder ist seines Glückes Schmied. – Ist anscheinend entfallen.
20.05 – Dieter Paul Rudolph mit Im Alter arbeiten müssen… manch einer MUSS das, ein anderer freut sich.
21.05 – Sabine Ibing mit Interview mit Anja Marschall
22.05. – Sabine Ibing – Verlosung

 

Um euch schon mal einzustimmen ist hier meine Rezension. Sie ist nicht ganz so ausführlich wie gewohnt, aus familiären Gründen bin ich momentan viel unterwegs  und habe oft keinen Internetempfang, und noch öfter den Kopf nicht frei. Das war nicht abzusehen als ich zugestimmt habe, an der Blogtour teilzunehmen, ich wollte aber auch niemanden hängen lassen.

Anja Marschall: Lizzis letzter Tango; ATB; ebook, 255 S., €7,99
Anja Marschall: Lizzis letzter Tango; ATB; ebook, 255 S., €7,99

Inhalt:

 

Lizzi ist Rentnerin und lebt in einer piekfeinen Hamburger Seniorenresidenz mit Blick auf  die Elbe.

Von ihrer mageren Rente kann sie das nicht bezahlen, aber sie hat das Geld aus dem letzten Banküberfall ihres Mannes gebunkert.

Mit der neuen Heimleitung gibt es Probleme, und ganz schlimm wird es, als Lizzis selbst beklaut wird und ihr Erspartes auf einen Schlag weg ist.

Ein Exkommissar ist Lizzi auf der Spur, lässt sich aber schlussendlich darauf ein, mit Lizzi und Expflegerin Mareike nach dem Dieb zu suchen.

Dann gibt es auch noch einen mysteriösen Mord. Hängt der mit dem Diebstahl zusammen?

Das Trio ermittelt.

 

Meine Meinung:

 

Lizzis Letzter Tango ist eine leichte Krimikomödie. Die Charaktere sind gut gezeichnet,  die Geschichte ist spannend genug um bis zum Schluss zu unterhalten.

Nicht alles hat mich jedoch überzeugt. Die Geldsumme, die Lizzi hatte, hätte – bei den Preisen für eine Nobelresidenz – maximal für zwei weitere Jahre gereicht, danach wäre Lizzi zahlungsunfähig gewesen. Der Diebstahl hat die Zeit lediglich verkürzt. Da Lizzi ansonsten so realistisch und pfiffig ist, kann ihr das unmöglich entgangen sein.

Auch die Art und Weise, wie die Heimleitung mit ihr und Mareike umspringt, ist mehr als fragwürdig.

Dann wird ganz am Ende noch eine Wandlung eines der Charaktere angedeutet, welche für mich weder vorstellbar, noch erklärbar ist.

Von diesen kleinen Ungereimtheiten mal abgesehen, ist die Lektüre jedoch insgesamt vergnüglich.