Monday, December 10, 2018

Spring Thaw ~ Audio Book Blog Tour, Review, & Giveaway!

Narrated by Mike Alger

Genre: Adult Fiction
Categories: Unabridged Audio Book, Murder Mystery, Short Stories
  • Length: 6 hrs and 59 mins
    Release date: October 23, 2018
  • Publisher: Acorn Book Services
Content Rating: PG (mild violence and sexual suggestion)

In today’s hectic world, many whodunit fans don’t have time to get their mystery fix diving into a whole novel. Lauren Carr’s SPRING THAW AND OTHER MYSTERY SHORT STORIES is for these fans—but that doesn’t mean whodunit fans who do have time can’t dive in as well.

A novella, Spring Thaw features retired federal agent Chris Matheson from Lauren Carr’s newest bestselling cold case series. When his late father’s former friend is indicted for the seven year old murder of a church bishop, Chris renews old broken friendships to thaw out the cold case.

Featuring Mac Faraday from Lauren Carr’s popular Mac Faraday Mysteries, an estate auction turns into a deadly affair after Gnarly's antics cause Mac to purchase a gem of a dress, which isn't his color in "Killing Bid." (Previously published in Lauren Carr’s BEAUTY TO DIE FOR.)

"Beauty to Die For" features the Lovers in Crime, Joshua Thornton and Cameron Gates in a race against the Angel of Death to clear the name of a dying woman's son, who was framed for murdering Miss Pennsylvania. (Previously published in BEAUTY TO DIE FOR.)

"Countdown to Murder" returns to the Lovers in Crime where Cameron and Joshua try to solve the murder of a young pregnant widow before it happens. (Previously published in BEAUTY TO DIE FOR.)

Mystery fans will see that every dog has his day, especially if that dog is Gnarly. In "Lucky Dog," Gnarly helps Mac Faraday to solve the murder of a wealthy society girl. (Previously published in BEAUTY TO DIE FOR.)

Dog Loving Mystery Fans will get a special treat when they read "The Gnarly Rehabilitation Program." In this Gnarly Mystery Short, Bert and Ernie learn the hard way that crime does not pay when they dog nap Gnarly. (Previously published as a bonus feature with A WEDDING AND A KILLING.)

Gnarly, the rambunctious German shepherd, is also features in Lauren Carr’s Christmas short, "A Gnarly Christmas." It is Christmas day and Gnarly has been up to his old tricks again. Now he's in the dog house--or rather the boathouse--after stealing the Christmas feast! Moments after Archie and Mac leave Spencer Manor, Gnarly hears a call for help from Rocky, the Maltese down the street. Four assassins for hire have invaded the home of Rocky's elderly owners. While the home invaders wait for instructions from a mysterious caller, Gnarly must plot to stop them. Can Gnarly save Christmas with only the help of an 8-pound Maltese dressed in an elf suit? (Previously published as a single short story by the same name.)

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

Buy Spring Thaw:
Amazon ~ Audible

“Lauren Carr is a master storyteller who combines the humor of Janet Evanovich and the investigative skills of Patricia Cornwell. She is always at the top of my reading list." - Sherry Fundin, Fundinmental

"Lauren Carr could give Agatha Christie a run for her money!" - Charlene Mabie-Gamble, Literary R&R

"Lauren Carr's books are never boring, that's for sure. They entertain, give us a good mystery to dig into, keep the reader guessing, give us a few good laughs and make us eager for the next book. Warning: Lauren Carr's series are addictive, so be ready to read more than just one book!" - Laura Fabiani, Library of Clean Reads

"She is an amazing author that draws you into the story, makes you fall in love with the characters (they feel like family!) and keeps you guessing right to the very end." - Working Mommy Journal

"Lauren Carr does a good job of moving the quirky storyline along nicely with an abundance of witty dialogue. And you have no idea who the good guys are and who the bad guys are until the end."  - Every Free Chance Book Reviews

HALL WAYS REVIEW: Audio book review. At under two hours listening time, Spring Thaw and Other Mystery Short Stories gives listeners a very satisfying, quick-fix of what author Lauren Carr does so well. Within just a few minutes of starting Spring Thaw, the first story, Carr fully defines a not-so-holy bishop (he’s a jerk), sets the tone for the scene (contentious), and brutally kills-off a character (BAM)! To say I was sucked-in to Spring Thaw is an understatement. Whether they’ve met main character Chris Matheson and crew before or not, readers won’t be able to resist this fully developed mystery packed into a novella.

“Chris cast a glance at the coffee pot; it was only one third full.
The way his day was going, it was two thirds empty.”

Back to main character Chris Matheson and crew… Carr’s writing makes you feel like you are at the kitchen table with Chris and Doris, his FABULOUS mother, and part of this family and life. They are my people! If you haven’t read ICE, the first book in the Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries, you need to get busy! Spring Thaw, like Ice, is smart, infused with subtle humor, and keeps leading and misleading you along until the big reveal to neatly tie-up the loose ends.

In addition to the two books thus far in the Chris Matheson series, the only other of Carr’s series I have read is Murder by Perfection, one of the Thorny Rose Mystery books. So, Spring Thaw is a great sampler of what readers can expect in the Mac Faraday and Lovers in Crime series. There are a few common denominators in all the short stories (these people are rich, for one), but the real scene-stealer in these is Gnarly the dog.  Actually, Gnarly is pretty much the main character in three/four of the seven short stories! His stories are fun little capers full of irony and yes, even a Scooby-Doo line (“I would have gotten away with it if…”) and ending or two. This light-hearted comedy is perfect.

The two Lovers in Crime short stories are surprisingly intricate and complete mysteries for such brief stories. Again, Carr’s writing skills shine as she masterfully and efficiently writes the twists and turns and surprises. Each of the stories involves a wide cast of characters (tip: trust no one), and I was completely caught off guard with the ending of “Beauty to Die For.” WHOA. This and “Countdown to Murder” shows the sparks and connections between MCs, Joshua and Cameron, and make me want to go back to the beginning to see how they met in the first place.

Several of the story lines take place in in Pennsylvania and in/around Pittsburgh, which adds a layer of fun and interest for me since I lived there for seven years. The descriptions of landscape and places is richly written, and even those who aren’t familiar with that part of the world will enjoy it. It’s been more than a few years since I lived there, so it’s possible these things have changed, but my ear did catch some misfit information: one, (sadly) I never once came across a person in Pennsylvania who offered sweet tea, and two, (sadly) Hershey Park (well, the rides anyhow) aren’t open in April. Who knows? Maybe since the ‘80s, circumstances have evolved, but consider this a PSI to avoid a potential Griswold kind of experience.  

ABOUT THE AUDIO BOOK: There are some jaunty music snippets that introduce the book and provide segues between the stories, which give the audio a real production feel. Also, there’s a little echo sound-effect to indicate we’re hearing a character’s internal monologue/thoughts – super helpful. Mike Alger is back as narrator, and though his pace is a little slow for me (I swear he could be the Smuckers commercial guy), I left it alone and listened at regular speed. He voices the numerous characters well (Doris is best) and his accents really complement the personalities. There are a few technical issues – places where voices overlap and sound blips that draw the ear. It is a little hard to separate the characters from story to story when listening to the audio book – for example, Mac and Catherine from story two sound like Chris and Doris from story one. The stories are so good that I listened straight through, so from this perspective, it might be better to take a breather between and not listen back-to-back. Overall, it’s a recording well-done.

I highly recommend this set of short stories, which are perfect listening for quick hits of humor and mystery -- with a dash of romance. And with that gorgeous winter-y cover, go ahead and add a print copy to your library to show your shelf some love.  I am looking forward to immersing myself into my next adventure from Lauren Carr, and fortunately there are a lot to choose from … decisions, decisions.

Thank you to iRead Book Tours and the author for providing me an audio download in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give.

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 Dec 22, 2018

Dec 3 - Library of Clean Reads - kickoff of Spring Thaw audio book tour / giveaway
Dec 4 - Rockin' Book Reviews - review of Spring Thaw / giveaway
Dec 6 - Kristin’s Novel CafĂ© - review of Spring Thaw
Dec 10 - Hall Ways Blog - review of Spring Thaw / giveaway
Dec 10 - 
Mystery Suspense Reviews - review of Spring Thaw / guest post / giveaway
Dec 10 - 
Dab of Darkness Book Reviews - review of Spring Thaw / guest post /giveaway
Dec 11 - Locks, Hooks and Books - review of Spring Thaw / author interview / giveaway
Dec 11 - Laura's Interests -  review of Spring Thaw / guest post /  giveaway
Dec 12 - JBronder Book Reviews - review of Spring Thaw / guest post
Dec 12 - Amy’s Booket List - review of Spring Thaw / giveaway
Dec 12 - 
Sefina Hawke's Books - review of Spring Thaw
Dec 13 - Kai's Goodread Page - review of Spring Thaw
Dec 13 - 
Cheryl's Book Nook - review of Spring Thaw / giveaway
Dec 13 - 
Books for Books - review of Spring Thaw
Dec 14 - Rocksprings Crafts - review of Spring Thaw / guest post / giveaway
Dec 14 - Bound 4 Escape - review of Spring Thaw / giveaway

Click for Hall Ways Review

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Max Random and the Zombie 500 ~ Audio Book Tour Promo & Review!

Narrated by Luna Cross
Length: 6 hours 14 minutes
Publisher: Trifecta Publishing House
Released: Oct. 8, 2018
Genre: Middle Grade / Horror

“When I first saw Max Random, he was driving his go-kart right at me. He was also wearing goggles, so it was hard to tell if he was dead or alive. I was pretty sure, though, that zombies didn't know how to drive.
 “'Not dead,' Max said, as he stepped out of the kart to look at me. ‘You should get in.'”
And so, weeks after watching her principal try to chew up her school teacher, and minutes after she'd just lost her family, 12-year-old Aurora Bonsall begins her odyssey of escape with Max Random in his hand-built go-kart across a ruined map of abandoned studio back lots, wrecked shopping malls, encounters with the not-quite dead in hospitals and the not-quite tame when they meet a feral cat. All while realizing that surviving humans can be far more dangerous than the Nano-Z's taking over the world.

Max, meanwhile, keeps driving them toward a rendezvous where he says they will be safe. But as Aurora discovers he has secrets of his own, she wonders if there can ever be any escape at all.

HALL WAYS REVIEW. AUDIO BOOK REVIEW. Max Random and the Zombie 500 is an absolute blast! Aimed at the middle grade audience, it is refreshing for all readers who enjoy the zombie stories but prefer to let their imaginations do most of the work for sketching out the gore factor. That’s not to say the book is watered-down; author Mark London Williams gives plenty of details for readers to immerse themselves in all-things-zombie and his world building is richly written and fabulously done.

“You never think there’s gonna be a last day of tasting ice cream.”

Set in the near future, Max Random and the Zombie 500 paints a realistic picture of how science could go wrong and the devastating, widespread effects when it does. It’s interesting that readers aren’t given a clear villain to blame for the outbreak; rather, there are two explanations circulating among the survivors. Both are plausible, and both are delivered with not-so-subtle social messages, but ultimately, neither root cause matters to those who survive it. These characters aren’t looking to blame – just to live.

“Max talked funny -- like a substitute teacher who
overdresses to show how serious they are.”

The characters are excellent, and Williams breathes each of them into full-color life. From the eccentric to the egotistical to the downright evil, there are plenty of people to really…wait for it…sink your teeth into. You’ll eat these people up! (see what I did there?) Main character Max is particularly well done. He carries a bit of emotional baggage and is complex and confusing to others. Readers get a tween’s perspective via main character Aurora, who narrates. She notes Max’s quirks, which adults will recognize as signs of Asberger’s or a high functioning autism of some sort. Despite not having a label for it, at just twelve years old, Aurora is more perceptive, and considerate of Max’s needs than most adults, and she remains a compassionate example of how to treat all living, mostly dead, and dead creatures.

Speaking of those mostly dead creatures: the story hints that maybe these zombies aren’t the mindless, unfeeling, undead that readers are typically shown. And maybe – just maybe – once a zombie doesn’t mean ALWAYS a zombie – a different approach! While the writing is fresh and vibrant, a few misplaced modifiers might catch the listener’s ear, and there is an unnecessary and startling inclusion of a swear word that might bother young readers (or their parents). Additionally, there are times readers are beaten over the head with the obvious, where I wish the author would instead trust his readers to get the point.

Max and the Zombie 500 is an action-packed, adrenaline-filled thrill, right up to the abrupt ending. Don’t worry, though. The conclusion feels more like a chance to catch your breath than an ending, and it clearly indicates there are more adventures to come in this mixed-up, dangerous future world.  I will anxiously await the chance to live vicariously through another Max Random story.

ABOUT THE AUDIO NARRATION. Luna Cross does an admirable job with all the characters: young and older, male and female, living and undead, and cats, too! She nails Max’s voice, which underscores his awkward way of interacting with others. Honorable mention for Tilda, too, who couldn’t be more different from Max. To be able to master such a wide range of characters is impressive. It’s a rare thing for me to be able to enjoy an audio book at its regular, intended speed, but Cross’s delivery is just right there. Sometimes the punch of a sentence was lost because of her uneven cadence and where she pauses in her sentences, and there are times when a sudden burst of emotion feels misplaced. However, overall, she is a great choice as the voice of Aurora, and any bumps or inconsistencies are only minor distractions from an enjoyable audio book.

Thank you to Audiobookworm Promotions and the author for providing me an audio download in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give. 

Mark London Williams wrote the L.A. Times-bestselling “Danger Boy” time travel series, was a contributor to the history anthology “Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out,” and has covered showbiz and its discontents as a writer for Variety, the LA Times, Below the Line, and other publications. He’s had plays produced in London, wrote a video game adaptation with both Aliens and Predators in it, and taught storytelling at Disney’s Creative Academy and other venues. He’s currently a one-man “Hollywood bureau” for a British film magazine, and keeps a watchful eye out for winds and wildfires in Southern California. He has two grown sons currently navigating L.A.’s landscape sans go-karts. Connect with him on Facebook.

Narrator Bio

Luna Cross lives in Los Angeles and swears that she was named after the Harry Potter character (even though her parents have assured her she is not), she loves Halloween and will be holed up under a blanket with candy and a scary book for the rest of October, with Hocus Pocus on in the background on mute, thinking about the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

Dec. 6th:
Hall Ways Blog

Dec. 7th:
Turning Another Page

Dec. 8th:
T's Stuff

Dec. 9th:
Chapter Break

Dec. 10th:
Jazzy Book Reviews

Dec. 11th:
Dab of Darkness Book Reviews

Dec. 12th:
The Book Addict's Reviews

➜Sign up as a host here

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Bane of the Dragon King ~ Blog Tour, Author Top 10 List, & Giveaway!

(Chronicles of Fallhallow #3)
by J. Keller Ford
YA / Epic Fantasy
Ages 12+
334 pages
November 18, 2018
Month9Books, LLC

Fallhollow is at war. The sudden deaths of the only two heirs that could have saved it has plunged the entire land into chaos. Despite all the magic thrown at him, the Dragon King still lives. Hope for any sort of victory seems faint until Charlotte discovers a secret that could change the course of history.

Armed with the power to set things right, Charlotte embarks on a perilous journey with the sly and cunning Prince Izmayel Ascatar Venniver IV, Lord of the peaceful Edryd dragons. But her journey of peace is thwarted, and Hirth's most fearsome enemy plans to use Charlotte to destroy the kingdom and claim the universe as his own.

As Fallhollow and the Kingdom of Hirth descend into a battlefield of bloodshed and death, David, Trog, and the warriors of Hirth march toward war with an impossible plan to bring down the Dragon King, destroy his armies, and return the kingdom to its former glory. All they need is a little faith, a few extraordinary surprises, and a lot of magic of the most unexpected, generous kind.

This book is the final dramatic and magnificent conclusion to the Chronicles of Fallhollow trilogy.



I have so many books that I love that it will difficult to narrow it down to only 10 but here goes in no particular order:

1.  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Who doesn’t love a good Jabberwocky?
2.  The Chronicles of Narnia
3.  Great Expectations
4.  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
5.  The Lunar Chronicles series. I have to put them all together as one because I can’t pick!
6.  Wuthering Heights
7.  The Stand
8.  The Hunger Games
9.  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
10. The Princess Bride

What are some of your favorites?

J. (Jenny) Keller Ford is a scribbler of speculative fiction and YA tales. As an Army brat, she traveled the world and wandered the halls of some of Germany's most extraordinary castles in hopes of finding snarky dragons, chivalrous knights, and wondrous magic to permeate her imagination. What she found remains etched in her topsy-turvy mind

When not torturing her keyboard or trying to silence the voices in her head, Jenny spends time collecting seashells, bowling, screaming on roller coasters and traveling. She is a mom to four magnificent and noble offspring, and currently lives in paradise on the west coast of Florida with a menagerie of royal pets, and her own quirky knight who was brave enough to marry her.

Jenny is the author of The Chronicles of Fallhollow series. The first two books, IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING, and RAGE OF THE DRAGON KING, are currently available. The third and final book, BANE OF THE DRAGON KING, is due to release in the Fall 2018.

One (1) winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card and a digital copy of Bane of the Dragon King.
(Ends December 14, 2018)

Blog tour organized by: