#AudiobookTour #Review ~The Murders at Astaire Castle by Lauren Carr #Giveaway #GuestPost


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.


Buy the Book:   Amazon  ~  Audible

Author’s Bio


Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries. The twelfth installment in the Mac Faraday Mystery series, Candidate for Murder will be released June 2016.

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 Lauren: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

My Review

I was provided with the audiobook version of this story. I’m a fan of audio due to my health circumstances it enables me to enjoy a book when I may not otherwise have been able to read. The narration has to be ‘right’ or the whole experience becomes disjointed. I quite liked the ability to alter into various character but the dialogue was a little slow for my liking. When I read the written word I am a fairly speedy reader, however with some adjustment on my Kindle I managed to get this to a satisfactory speed.

It’s the first book I have encountered by this author as far as I’m aware although the name and premise seemed familiar. It is one of a large series so obviously some amount of catching up needed if I was to start at the beginning.  Gnarly the dog is possibly what links the others together so I don’t think I missed a lot but dipping in so late and it worked as a standalone.

A murder/mystery set in a castle with a growing body count. A few peculiar figures, spooky in places but in others it reminded me a little of Scooby Doo! As a book to keep you guessing and enthralled to the end this isn’t it but as some light entertainment for several hours it serves it’s purpose. Did I enjoy it more as audio ? Yes, I suspect I may have been tempted to abandon it if I was ‘reading’ but I allowed myself to relax into it and enjoyed it more.

Thanks to the author and iRead Book Tourstars-3-0._V192197091_

Thanks to Lauren for this very insightful guest post 🙂

Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone: Are You and (more importantly) Are Your Readers Ready?
By Lauren Carr

Every writer has different dreams of “making it.” Most of us determine that we have “made it” when we are able to write full-time. Some go even further. They want to write full-time and pay their bills with their earnings. About ninety-five percent of us never really make that point.
As years go by, our definition of being a successful author will recede until by the time we reach middle-age, it will be something more obtainable. That’s so we can die feeling that we have obtained our life dream.
When I started writing over thirty years ago, I first defined my success as making a boatload of money. Nope, never even remotely happened.
Then, I would be happy to have Hollywood call. Now, that did happen. But then, I was rejected weeks later (after rewriting the screenplay) when the producer and star who wanted to do the project dumped me for a writer with a track record. At that time, mine was zero.
Okay, I would be happy to get a literary agent. Got that, but that relationship ended when I gave birth and decided to give up writing to be a stay-at-home mom—which lasted six months.
So then, I would be happy to get picked up by a traditional publisher. That did happen, but when I saw how much they were getting from my book, and how little I was getting, I decided I could do it all myself and keep my royalties. (But that’s another blog post.)
By then, my defining moment of success came when I would release a book and find that I had readers waiting to buy it. That has happened. It is very nice to release a book and have readers snapping it up, seeing its ranking crawling up on Amazon, and getting great feedback.
It’s almost enough to make a writer breathe a sigh of relief and get … comfortable.
Is it really possible for a writer to get comfortable?
I don’t think it’s part of our make-up. I have learned that authors are generally insecure. Maybe it has something to do with all the rejection we get from literary agents, publishers, editors, and some nasty reviewers with deep seated issues that have nothing to do with our books. It’s hard enough to make it. But I have found that once you “make it,” then the fear comes that you may “lose it.”
Now a writer may ask, “How can you lose it once you’ve made it? You now have readers. They are going to stay loyal to you forever, aren’t they? Every time you release a book, they are going to be buying them. Now you are set for life.”
My answer: No.
I can think of numerous examples of authors who had become great successes, only to lose their readers with their subsequent books:
Breaking Their Readers’ Trust
It is not uncommon for an author to strike it big with their first book—snagging the agent and the big book deal—or even a movie deal, only to flop with their second book.
At a speaking engagement, one author told how this happened to him. He wrote his first book with the goal of getting the agent and book deal. He wrote what the agents and publishers were looking for. This book became a New York Times best-seller. After achieving the success that every author dreams of, he wrote what he wanted to write, which was quite different from his first book. The audience that he had acquired with the first book was shocked and disappointed. So were the reviewers. Thus, he lost his audience.
One very successful author, who I won’t name because I have stopped following her, lost me and other readers I knew who followed her for years because she took a turn in her storyline that infuriated us. After years and dozens of successful books in her series, she killed off a main character whom we had grown to love. This author is still a success and her books are top sellers, but she did lose many readers, who posted reviews saying that they felt betrayed.
Why would an author kill off a major character after years of character development and dozens of books?
Well, as an author, I can see why. It is the next reason that authors lose readers.
Their books have grown stale.
It can be very easy for an artist to become comfortable in their success. We see it in actors who always appear in the same type of movies playing the same type of characters, and singers singing the same song over and over again. They are saying to themselves, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Let’s not mess with a good thing.”
However, their audience can get sick of hearing, and reading the same thing over and over again. Just as an audience can get bored reading the same thing, imagine writing the same thing. It takes longer to write a book than it does to read it.
After writing so many books, especially some that are successful, an author can discover that they are writing from a formula. The basic plot is the same. The names have changed. Even the characters will have the same personalities.
It is possible for this to happen without the writer realizing it. When I had finished the rough draft for my first Thorny Rose Mystery, Kill and Run, I realized that the climax was very similar to ending in The Lady Who Cried Murder. I had to go back to the drawing board to rethink the whole ending and rewrite it to keep it fresh and new.
Fresh storylines keep an author’s creative juices flowing. It’s what keeps the writing fun.
So, once an author has “made it,” they find that they have to do a balancing act in order to keep their readers and continue to grow their audience. Not only do we have to stretch our creative muscles by coming up with fresh storylines and characters, but we have to do it without betraying our readers’ trust.
Readers have certain expectations from the author. It shouldn’t be any mystery to the author. They can find it expressed in the readers’ reviews. Mine have expressed their love of my complex mysteries that challenge them.
It was in a search for yet another challenge for my readers that I tackled the paranormal in the fifth Mac Faraday Mystery, The Murders at Astaire Castle. While this mystery does contain some supernatural elements, I would not classify it as a paranormal.
Halloween has always been a fun time. It is the time to break out and be someone else. As a child, I would pretend to be one of the Bobbsey Twins searching for clues to lead me to a secret treasure. If I was lucky, it was made up of chocolate. As a teenager, I was Nancy Drew. Always, when October rolled around, I craved mysteries with something extra added–something beyond the normal–something supernatural.
As an author, I couldn’t resist taking this one Mac Faraday Mystery on a scary Halloween adventure.
Here’s hoping my readers enjoy my venture out of my comfort zone and into a new territory as much as I have.

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