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#TuesdayBookBlog #THELOSTMAN by Jane Harper (@LittleBrownUK)(@caolinndouglas) (@GraceEVincent) (@janeharperautho) As good, if not better, than Harper’s previous books. Read it now! #TheLastMan

I am very grateful for the opportunity to participate in the blog tour for the launch of this fabulous book by an author whose two previous books I have loved so much. And I’m not the only one.

The Lost Man by Jane Harper
The Lost Man by Jane Harper

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Two brothers meet in the remote Australian outback when the third brother is found dead, in this stunning new standalone novel from New York Times bestseller Jane Harper

Two brothers meet at the remote fence line separating their cattle ranches in the lonely outback. In an isolated belt of Western Australia, they are each other’s nearest neighbor, their homes four hours’ drive apart.

The third brother lies dead at their feet.

Something caused Cam, the middle child who had been in charge of the family homestead, to die alone in the middle of nowhere.

So the eldest brother returns with his younger sibling to the family property and those left behind. But the fragile balance of the ranch is threatened. Amidst the grief, suspicion starts to take hold, and the eldest brother begins to wonder if more than one among them is at risk of crumbling as the weight of isolation bears down on them all.

Dark, suspenseful, and deeply atmospheric, The Lost Man is the highly anticipated next book from the bestselling and award-winning Jane Harper, author of The Dry and Force of Nature.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lost-Man-Jane-Harper/dp/0349142130/

https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Man-Jane-Harper/dp/0349142130/

https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Man-Jane-Harper-ebook/dp/B07FM4HQ9N/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lost-Man-Jane-Harper-ebook/dp/B07FM4HQ9N/

Author Jane Harper
Author Jane Harper

About the author:

Jane Harper’s debut novel The Dry is an atmospheric thriller set in regional Australia.
The novel won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript in 2015 and rights have since been sold in more than 20 territories.
The Dry was a No.1 bestseller in Australia and has been optioned for a film by Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea’s production company, Pacific Standard.
Jane worked as a print journalist for 13 years both in Australia and the UK and lives in Melbourne with her family.

https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Harper/e/B001KI8MCE/

My review:

Thanks to NetGalley and to Little, Brown Book Group UK, for offering me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review. I’m also grateful to have been given the opportunity to participate in the blog tour for the launch of the book. After having read both of Jane Harper’s previous books, The Dry (you can check my review here) and Force of Nature (here is my review), I rushed to grab this one as soon as I saw it was available. And yes, although it is quite different from the other two, it is another winner.

The two previous books, two thrillers/mysteries, had as protagonist Aaron Falk, a federal investigator of fraud and related crimes, who somehow gets involved in cases outside his comfort zone, for different reasons. Here, there is no professional investigator (however loosely Falk’s credentials might relate to the mystery at hand). I had mentioned in my reviews of the two previous books the fact that the stories put me in mind of domestic noir, and this is even more the case here. It might sound strange to talk about noir when the setting is the Australian outback (the nearest town is Balamara, Winton, Queensland), but plot and character-wise, it fits neatly into the category. And it is atmospheric, for sure. Harper is masterful at making us feel as if we were there, in this unusual and totally unique place, where going out for a walk might end up getting you killed.

The story is set around Christmas time, (summer in Australia), and is told in the third person from the point of view of Nathan Bright, the oldest son of the Bright family, who lives alone in his farm after his divorce, four hours away from the rest of his family, and very far from his ex-wife and his son, Xander, who live in Brisbane. Xander is visiting his father for Christmas (he is sixteen and due to his studies it is likely this might be the last Christmas they spend together for the foreseeable future), and as they prepare to celebrate the holidays, Nathan gets a call. His middle brother, Cameron, has been found dead in pretty strange circumstances. His dead body was by the stockman’s grave, a grave in the middle of the desert subject of many stories and local legends, and a place Cameron had made popular thanks to one of his paintings. Bub, the younger brother, is waiting for Nathan and explains to him that their brother’s car was found nine miles away, in perfect working order, fully stocked with food and water. So, what was their brother doing there, and why did he die of dehydration? When the questions start coming, it seems that Cam, a favourite in town and well-liked by everybody, had not been himself recently and seemed worried. Was it suicide then, or something else?

Nathan is not the typical amateur detective of cozy mysteries, another aspect that reminds me of domestic noir. He is not somebody who enjoys mysteries, or a secret genius, and he only gets involved because he keeps observing things that don’t seem to fit in with the official explanation. As this is his family, he cannot help but keep digging and has to remain involved because, for one, he has to attend his brother’s funeral. The main characters in domestic noir tend to have troubled lives and be hindered by their problems, no matter how convinced they are that they have it all under control. As the book progresses, they learn how wrong they are. In this case, Nathan is a flawed character and lacks insight into his state of mind and that of his life. He has committed some terrible mistakes (perhaps even unforgivable ones), and he is the black sheep of the family, in appearance at least. As you might expect, things are not as they seem, and during the book he grows and learns, and not only about his brother’s death. Nathan might not be the most familiar of characters or the most immediately sympathetic to many readers due to his closed-off nature, but through the novel we also learn about his past and the circumstances that made him the man he is now.

The clues to the case appear at a slow pace and naturally, rather than feeling forced, and they do not require a lot of procedural or specialized knowledge. There are also red herrings, but most of them go beyond an attempt at wrong-footing readers, and provide important background information that helps build up a full picture of the people and the place. In style, the book reminds us of old-fashioned mysteries, without extreme violence or excessive attention being paid to the procedures of the police or to complex tests. No DNA tests and no CSI on sight here. This is a book about characters, motivations, and the secrets families keep.

In contrast to the first two novels written by Harper, this book is deceptively simple in its structure. The book takes place over a few days, around Christmas, and, as I said, it is all told from the point of view of Nathan. The story is told chronologically, although there are moments when we get some important background into the story, be it thanks to Nathan’s memories, or to episodes and events narrated to him by other characters. The book manages to keep a good balance between showing and telling and it is very atmospheric, although it moves at its own pace, meandering and perfectly suited to the setting. I’ve never visited the Australian outback and have never experienced anything like the extreme weather conditions described in the book, but I felt the oppressive sensation, the heat, the agoraphobia induced by the open spaces, and the horror of imagining yourself in Cam’s circumstances. The initial setting, with the lonely gravestone, made me think of a Western, and the life in the ranch, isolated and extreme, where surviving requires a daily fight against the elements, made the story feel primordial and timeless. Although the story is set in modern times (there is no specific date, but despite the distance from civilisation, there is talk of mobiles, internet, GPS, etc.), due to the location, people are forced to live as if time had not truly moved on, and they have to depend on themselves and those around them, because if your car or your air conditioning break down, it could mean your death.

Apart from her evident skill in describing Australia and everyday life in the outback (she refers to her research and sources in her acknowledgments), the author is masterful at creating characters that are multi-dimensional and psychologically and emotionally believable, as I explained when talking about the main protagonist. These are people used to living alone and not allowing their vulnerabilities to show. Even within the family, its members keep secrets from each other and don’t share their feelings, although they might all know about what has happened, because that’s what they’ve always seen and known, and perhaps they believe that if you don’t talk about it you can keep it contained. The secrets are slowly revealed, and although many readers will suspect the nature of some of them, that does not diminish their power and impact. The themes discussed are, unfortunately, very current, and although I won’t talk about them in detail, to avoid spoilers, I am sure they will resonate with most readers. Although the ending will probably not be a huge surprise to most readers, it is built up expertly, and I found it very satisfying.

I had to share a couple of samples of writing, although it was a hard choice:

In the centre was a headstone, blasted smooth by a hundred-year assault from sand, wind and sun. The headstone stood a metre tall and was still perfectly straight. It faced west, towards the desert, which was unusual out there. West was rarely anyone’s first choice.

The name of the man buried beneath had long since vanished and the landmark was known to locals —all sixty-five of them, plus 100,000 head of cattle— simply as the stockman’s grave. That piece of land had never been a cemetery; the stockman had been put into the ground where he had died, and in more than a century no-one had joined him.

There was something about the brutal heat when the sun was high in the sky and he was watching the slow meandering movement of the herds. Looking out over the wide-open plains and seeing the changing colours in the dust. It was the only time when he felt something close to happiness… It was harsh and unforgiving, but it felt like home.

In sum, this is a book for people who enjoy an unusual mystery and books focused on characters rather than fast-paced plots. If you love well-written books, and don’t mind investing some time into the story and its characters, especially if you are keen on an Australian setting, you should not miss this one. I will be on the lookout for the author’s next book.

Thanks to NetGalley the publisher and to this author I wholeheartedly recommend, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and keep smiling!

Categories
Blog Tour book promo

#BlogTour GARDEN OF HER HEART by Shanna Hatfield (@ShannaHatfield) The perfect gift for lovers of historical romance

Hi all:
Today I’m taking part on a blog tour organised by Lady Amber’s Reviews & PR. I think this novel will make a great present.

Title: Garden of her Heart

Author: Shanna Hatfield

Genre: Romance 

Editor: Eliza Dee from Clio Editing

Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Blurb:
Can forbidden love blossom amid the constraints of war?  

     The moment the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, life shifted for Miko Nishimura. Desperate to reach the Portland Assembly Center for Japanese Americans, she’s kicked off the bus miles from town. Every tick of the clock pushes her closer to becoming a fugitive in the land of her birth. Exhausted, she stumbles to her grandparents’ abandoned farm only to find a dying soldier sprawled across the step. Unable to leave him, she forsakes all else to keep him alive.

     After crashing his plane in the Battle of the Atlantic, the doctors condemn Captain Rock Laroux to die. Determined to meet his maker beneath a blue sky at his family home, he sneaks out of the hospital. Weary and half out of his mind, he makes it as far as a produce stand he remembers from his youth. Rather than surrender to death, Rock fights a battle of the heart as he falls in love with the beautiful Japanese woman who saves his life.

     A poignant, sweet romance, Garden of Her Heart proves love can bloom in unlikely places even under the most challenging circumstances.

USA Today Bestselling Author Shanna Hatfield writes character-driven romances with relatable heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”

Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, this hopeless romantic is out to make it happen one story at a time. When she isn’t writing or indulging in chocolate (dark and decadent, please), Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.

Shanna is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, Romance Writers of America, Sweet Romance Reads, Cowboy Kisses, and Pioneer Hearts.

Author Links: 

Pre Order Link: Amazon: http://amzn.to/2cVw4ED

“I thought I heard you calling for me,” Miko said, climbing down a ladder on the far end of the building with an arm full of berry crates.

Rock rushed to help her. By the time he threaded his way through the packed contents of the building, she was already on the floor.

“That’s quite a car,” he said, taking half the berry crates from her and motioning to the convertible.

“Thanks. I bought it when I was still gainfully employed,” she said, walking over to the car. “I fell in love with the color the first time I saw it and started saving my money to buy one. When the weather’s nice, it’s fun to drive with the top down.”

Rock gaped at her. “It’s your car?”

Miko grinned. “Is that a hint of disbelief I hear, Captain? Not only is it my car, but I know how to change the tires, check the oil, and siphon gas out of my dad’s car when my brother, Tommy, borrows it and brings it back empty.”

He laughed, setting down the crates and wiping his hands along his trousers before touching the car. “It is a beaut. What’s this color?”

“Laguna maroon. Papa calls it the luna moon mobile, but I still think it’s one of the prettiest colors out there.” Miko opened the driver’s side door and motioned for Rock to climb in.

He sank into the leather seat and inhaled the aroma as if it was the most expensive perfume.

“Like it?” Miko asked, bending down to better see his reaction to the car.

“You bet!” He settled his hands on the steering wheel, forcing his injured fingers to curl around the wheel.

“If you like the outside of the car, you’ll probably be more impressed by the eight cylinders under the hood.” Miko released the hood latch and Rock slid out to study the engine.

He whistled and smirked at Miko. “What’s a girl like you doing with a car like this?”

“Anything I want,” she said with a sassy grin. “At least it used to be that way.”

Rock sobered and closed the hood, using the hem of his T-shirt to wipe away the smudges made by his fingerprints.

“I didn’t realize you had cars here. I was trying to figure out how to catch a ride on the bus into Portland.”

“By all means, drive one of the cars wherever you need to go.” She pointed to her grandparents’ sedan. “Papa and Mother must have sold their car or it would be here, too. Granddad wouldn’t care if you take his.” She cast a taunting look his way. “Or, if you think you can handle it, you’re welcome to drive mine.”

His raised an eyebrow at her dare as he lifted the berry baskets and followed her out the door. “Is that an invitation or a challenge?”

“Maybe both.” She turned and sauntered away, casting a flirty smile at him over her shoulder.

Thanks so much to Lady Amber’s Reviews & PR and to the author for sharing this great novel with us, thanks to you all for reading, and you know what to do: like, share, comment and CLICK!
Categories
Blog Tour Book review

#Blogtour ASLEEP by Krystal Wade (@KrystalWade) A fairy-tale nightmare and psychological chiller #TuesdayBookBlog.

Hi all:

As I’ve told you a few times, I’m a big fan of fairy tales, and I when I was approached to participate in the blog tour for Asleep, I could not resist. You’ll see why in a minute.

 


Title: Asleep

Author: Krystal Wade
Genre: YA Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Blaze Publishing
Blurb:
“To cure fear, you must use fear.”
Rose Briar claims no responsibility for the act that led to her imprisonment in an asylum. She wants to escape, until terrifying nightmares make her question her sanity and reach out to her doctor. He’s understanding and caring in ways her parents never have been, but as her walls tumble down and Rose admits fault, a fellow patient warns her to stop the medications. Phillip believes the doctor is evil and they’ll never make it out of the facility alive. Trusting him might be just the thing to save her. Or it might prove the asylum is exactly where she needs to be.

My review:

I obtained a copy of Asleep in exchange for an honest review as part of a book review tour.

I love fairy tales. I loved them as a child and although I’m a child no longer (well, opinions might differ on that) I still love them. When I heard that this YA book was a reimagining of Sleeping Beauty, and after reading the details, I decided to read it. The fabulous cover also drew me in.

The story of Rose Briar is set in a rather undefined time (perhaps now, but it is not specified and neither location nor gadgets or medications give much of a clue. I guess it is ‘once upon a time’) and starts at a point of crisis. She’s being taken by her parents to a psychiatric clinic, for reasons not completely clear. Although the story is written in the third person, it is told from Rose’s point of view, and we’re not sure her version of events is correct. The psychiatric clinic appears a bit peculiar at first sight, and is connected to Rose’s family in strange ways (her mother’s best friend, Heather, was a patient there years back and she committed suicide shortly after leaving the clinic), but we don’t realise quite how peculiar until Rose starts to experiment strange events, that neither her nor us, the readers, know if are true, or nightmares. Is she being physically tortured? Are other patients locked up and inhumanely treated there? Why does she seem to lose time?

Luckily, she meets Phillip, although he prefers to be called Greg, a boy of a similar age to hers. At times he seems completely out of it, bruised, battered and mumbling numbers, but at others, he is not only protective of her, but insists that she is like him. She can’t help but be intrigued by him at first, and later she ends up feeling the connection he mentions, although she is not a hundred percent sure.

The longer Rose spends at the clinic, the more confused she becomes as to whom she can trust and what the agenda behind her stay there is. The friends she believed in don’t seem to be as reliable as she thought; Dr. Underwood is nice and caring but seems to have a strange attachment to Heather and Rose suspects that in his mind, she and Heather have become connected. He is definitely hiding something. And although she blames her parents, particularly her mother, for her internment, she desperately wants to go back home.

The experience of reading this book is a strange one. I’m a psychiatrist and I was intrigued by the idea of setting the story in a psychiatric hospital. Leaving the horror aspects of the story related to what might be happening at the clinic (and I’m trying not to reveal any spoilers here) aside, the way in which the readers are placed inside of Rose’s head and share her feelings and perceptions make it a confusing and nerve-wracking reading experience. You might not agree with what she does, but you are given no option but to follow her and share in her confusion and her difficulty making decisions. You keep trying to find clues to turn it into a linear narrative, but keep being wrong-footed along the way. At some point, I wasn’t sure if the present or the past were real, or if anything was real at all.

The reading is vivid although being inside of Rose’s head we don’t get the chance to see the place and the people as they are (talk about an unreliable narrator!). We might objectively think we’d never have ended up in such situation, but we join the story at a point where she has not many options, and none of the ones left seem good. Rose’s difficulty expressing herself through her art is a good metaphor for her problems. The author has the eye of an artist and some of her descriptions of the hallucinations and the works of art are beautiful (and sometimes horrific at the same time).

I enjoyed the end, but for me, there were many things not fully explained, and more in keeping with a fairy tale than a realistic novel. If we want to compare it to Sleeping Beauty, this turns the story of the attempts at rescuing her (she had done nothing wrong and it was fate and a bad fairy who played a part in her imprisonment), and twists it into a possible version of what was happening to the princess whilst she was supposed to be asleep. She is no longer the passive female figure waiting for the prince to come and find her. Instead, she has to fight her own demons and she and the prince work together to get free. The character of Doctor Underwood is one of the strongest ones in the book, and it brought to my mind the film Peeping Tom (but again I won’t elaborate to avoid giving you too many clues).

This is a story that will keep people guessing, although it’s not a typical horror story but rather a psychological eerie tale. If you enjoy a reading that will get you out of your comfort zone and challenge your sense of narrative, this could well be it. Ah, and the writing and the cover are true beauties.

Krystal Wade can be found in the sluglines outside Washington D.C. every morning, Monday through Friday. With coffee in hand, iPod plugged in, and strangers-who sometimes snore, smell, or have incredibly bad gas-sitting next to her, she zones out and thinks of fantastical worlds for you and me to read. How else can she cope with a fifty-mile commute?
Good thing she has her husband and three kids to go home to. They keep her sane.
Author Links:
Buy Links:



 

Thanks so much to Lady Amber´s Reviews & PR for organising the book blog tour, to Krystal Wade for her novel and to all of you for reading, and don’t forget to like, share, comment, and CLICK!

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