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New Reads for January/February

New Reads by Local Authors

The Murders at Astaire Castle (Acorn Book Services, 2013)

by Lauren Carr

He’s back! Mac Faraday, the retired homicide detective now on his fifth outing, is this time investigating a haunted castle on his property and scary tales of a wolf man. Set, as always in Deep Creek Lake, the Astaire Castle has been the scene of two suicides, three disappearances, and four murders. The reader is slowly reeled into this spine-tingling tale by Lauren’s exceptional pacing.

In this newest addition to the series, her protagonist is taken to great and Lauren holds onto the reader amidst an intricate series of twists and turn. To say much more would reveal important details of the plot. Good descriptions of place and wonderful characterizations of the main personages draw the reader into their lives. This whodunit is one that will keep you surprised until the very end, and is best experienced first-hand, rather than by way of review.

Lauren is moving quickly up the list of noted mystery writers. But, not only is she prolific, juggling several of her own books at the same time, but she is also the owner of Acorn Books, which publishes the work of other writers. “From 9 am to 5 pm I work on Acorn Books, and nights and weekends, I work on my own manuscripts,” she explains. In 2013 she published three books, two based on the adventures of Faraday. “I was starting to work on the next novel in my ‘Lovers in Crime’ series when I thought of a plot for Faraday and I had to write it.”

Asked why she need to write, she answered with a laugh: “It keeps me off the streets.”

Available at:,,,, and

One Man in Ten Million (Xlibris Corp., 2013)

by Ronald Powers

Richard Powers was with the 104th regiment, an amphibious assault unit, during World War II. His unit went sent from the United States directly to France after the Normandy invasion. In this book, written by his son, Ronald, but in first person as if Richard wrote it, there is more than just a standard recounting of the war.

Ronald has taken his father’s tale and blended it with the major events of the war. Possibly known to most historians, but not in the forefront of the mind of most readers — a total of 101 vessels sailed to Europe, yet no one realized how high and dense the European hedgerows were, and that German tanks might be better made but could not be readily mass-produced. In such bits of information, Ronald brings life to the many problems the troops suffered.

“It took me two years to gather the material for the book,” said Ronald, a former high school administrator in Greencastle. He mailed all the veterans in his father’s unit, asking them to share memories. “Ninety-five percent were returned marked no one at that address.” Blending fiction and fact, Ronald has done his homework. “’The Action Against the Enemy Report’ for my father’s regiment was crucial for the day-by-day events.”

He is currently at work on his next book, a fictional account of a kidnapping.

Available at:,, and

Puritan Witch (iUniverse, 2013)

by Peni Jo Renner

Puritan Witch is a gripping account of the effects of the Salem witch trials uniquely written by a direct descendant of one of the women falsely accused.

The tale is a regretful one in American history. Ignorance, which bred fear and vengeance, marks a past that should offer a lesson in what happens when justice turns a blind eye and hysteria takes over. Many books have dealt with this subject, but none so starkly from the point of view of those accused and the repercussions on their families.

Fictionalizing the past and imagining its effects on Rebecca Blake Eames — Peni’s ancestor — gives her the opportunity to describe the horrors inflicted on individuals.

Exhibiting wonderful prose and imaginative turns of phrase like “a candle snuffed solidifying into cream-colored tears” are no doubt some of the reasons Puritan Witch won the iUniverse Rising Star Award. 

Author’s Notes separate fact from fiction and a glossary clarifies some of the words used in the novel.

Available at:,, and and Turn the Page Bookstore in Boonsboro.

Traces of Kara (World Literary Press, 2013)

by Melissa Foster

Kara, a young woman following the road to independence, finds herself caught up in a world she did not know existed. Facing the difficulties of an adoring mother, distant step-father, former husband, and her own desire to move forward in life, she longs to get away from the power plant in Williamsport where she is working.

At the same time, a man named Roland is seeking his twin sister and preparing for their encounter, which will unite them eternally in death. When the two intersect, the lives of many are at stake.

Melissa follows no patterns. In 2013 she published nine books — some romance and the rest in other genres. “I enjoy writing different themes but I have to connect with the characters. I keep a picture of my main character on my computer screen,” she says. She trolls the Internet putting together a composite of what she thinks her character looks life. “Without the names of the characters and the title of the book, I can’t write.”

In addition to writing, she also manages the World Literary Cafe with 15,000 members, bringing together readers and authors, and its education arm, Fostering Success, with self-guided courses on publishing and marketing.

Her most recent accolade is making the New York Times Bestseller List for “Have No Shame,” in the E-book category and the bestseller list of USA Today.

Available at:,, and