Thursday, 7 February 2019

The Lost Man - Jane Harper

Two brothers meet at the border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of outback Queensland, in this stunning new standalone novel from New York Times bestseller Jane Harper

They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old, no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron.

The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish.

Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he lose hope and walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…

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.

The more I love a book and/or an author the harder I find it to write reviews that aren't completely nonsensical! I read Jane Harper's debut novel, The Dry, and fell in love with her writing, her characters, and proceeded to do the same with Force Of Nature. Aaron Falk is an easy character to love, in my book anyway, he has his faults, but there's something about Jane's writing that makes you love her characters. 

I'll admit now I was a bit apprehensive about The Lost Man. I was very much looking forward to another Falk novel but a handful of pages into The Lost Man and I was completely and utterly spellbound! It's the story of three brothers, Nathan, Cameron, and Bub who brought up in the harsh but beautiful surroundings of the Australian Outback. Now all adults, Nathan is divorced with a teenage son, Cameron is married with two young daughters and Bub, a lot younger than his siblings, is working on Cameron's property. 

It's not a spoiler to say that the story opens with Cameron's unexplained death by a well-known local grave that he'd won a prize years earlier for a painting of it. What happens from there is a wild ride of suspicion, violence, lies, and grief. Nathan, struggling with depression due to incidents in the past, is at a loss as to how someone like his brother, who knows the conditions of the Outback, could walk off leaving a car full of emergency supplies to die. All the signs point to suicide, everyone he talks to says that recently he hadn't been himself and there had been 'accidents' which might not have been accidental.

Cameron might be dead but it appears that there is a myriad of threads connecting lots of different things to him, on the surface he was charming and persuasive, had time for everybody, but underneath the cracks were starting to show. Nathan, with not much else to do and coming to the realization that maybe he's not alright, takes the bit between his teeth and starts looking into Cam's death. There are things niggling at the back of his mind that don't make sense but as the story progresses he starts to connect the dots, which lead to a horrifying conclusion.

Not only is it hard not to just gush about The Lost Man it's also hard to talk about the storyline without giving away too much. The Lost Man is a character-driven story, expertly done, with a fascinating collection of people, all totally different but all linked by one defining character, the Outback. As with The Dry, the Outback shines through as a real character and you can feel yourself under the hot sun, the dry dust kicking up around you, and the beads of sweat on your forehead. 

The Lost Man is not just a crime thriller either. It's about family, love, mental health problems, and consequences. Don't take my word for it though, read The Lost Man and I defy you not to fall in love with it. Oh, and for those of you who are fans of Falk, some good news! In The Lost Man, there's a little something to find (let me know if you do!) and there's a movie coming, with Eric Bana as Aaron Falk!!!

My reviews of The Dry and Force Of Nature can be found here and here!

The Lost Man - Jane Harper
ISBN - 9781408708217
Publisher - LittleBrown
Release date - February 7th, 2019

About The Author

Jane Harper is the author of the international bestsellers The Dry and Force of Nature.
Her books are published in more than 36 territories worldwide, with film rights sold to Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea. Jane has won numerous top awards including the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel, the British Book Awards Crime and Thriller Book of the Year, the Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year and the Australian Indie Awards Book of the Year.

Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK and now lives in Melbourne.

Friday, 1 February 2019

I'll Find You - Liz Lawler

Emily Jacobs, a nurse, is in hospital for a minor operation. When she wakes in the night, woozy with anaesthetic, she sees the doctor frantically trying to resuscitate the woman in the bed next to her. In the morning, she is told that she must have had a nightmare. The bed has been empty all along . . .

When Emily returns to work she discovers a bracelet that she believes belonged to the missing woman. Soon, she becomes convinced that her colleagues at the hospital are hiding a terrible secret. 
What if she's wrong? What if her own troubled past has affected her more than she knows?

But what if she's right? 

What else could they be capable of?

I've spent a lot of time in various hospitals, both as a patient and as a nurse (albeit a student!), so the premise of I'll Find You both intrigued and scared the pants off me! I was also exposed to both the book and movie version of Coma by Robin Cook at a very young age so how I ever ended up training as a nurse I'll never know...

Emily Jacobs is a nurse, a nurse with a troubled past. A year previous to the story's opening, Emily's younger sister, Zoe, went missing and has never been found. The two have always been close, despite a ten year age gap, and at the time of her disappearance, Zoe was also training to be a nurse. Now Emily is in hospital for minor surgery at her new place of work, a private hospital with no memories of her sister. What follows is a rollercoaster and nightmare rolled into one and Emily, already seeing a psychologist, starts to wonder if she is losing her mind, especially when she starts to think she's seeing Zoe again. 

The hospital no longer feels like the haven Emily thought it might be and contacts the detective inspector from her sister's case. Geraldine has become close to Emily since meeting her, and at first, is convinced that it's Emily's mental health causing all the problems. However, when the signs point to something truly sinister, it's time for her to start looking into Emily's claims.

No longer sure who she can trust or who she can even talk to about what's going on, Emily digs deeper into behind the scenes of the hospital and staff in the hopes that whatever is happening might just be linked to Zoe and she can finally find out what has happened to her beloved sister.

I'll Find You is full of twists and turns, as Emily lurches from one theory to another, but it keeps you on your toes from start to finish with some truly horrifying moments. If you have any inpatient stays planned soon I'd maybe not take I'll Find You as a hospital read, or if you have even a slight phobia about being locked in a hospital morgue... I very much enjoyed I'll Find You from start to finish, and the discovery of the truth of both Zoe's disappearance and what's going on elsewhere was heartbreaking and tragic. It's scary to realize that a throwaway comment by one person can turn into a terrifying and deadly obsession.

Huge thanks to Ellen, Bonnier Zaffre, and Liz for the chance to read I'll Find You!

I'll Find You - Liz Lawler
Publisher - Bonnier Zaffre
Release date - eBook | January 24th, 2019 Paperback | May 2nd, 2019
Find - Goodreads | Kindle UK | Book Depository

Thursday, 10 January 2019

My Name Is Anna - Lizzy Barber

Two women – desperate to unlock the truth.
How far will they go to lay the past to rest?

ANNA has been taught that virtue is the path to God. But on her eighteenth birthday, she defies her Mamma’s rules and visits Florida’s biggest theme park.

She has never been allowed to go – so why, when she arrives, does everything seem so familiar? And is there a connection to the mysterious letter she receives on the same day?

ROSIE has grown up in the shadow of the missing sister she barely remembers, her family fractured by years of searching without leads. Now, on the fifteenth anniversary of her sister’s disappearance, the media circus resumes in full flow, and Rosie vows to uncover the truth.

But will she find the answer before it tears her family apart?

I first saw this book mentioned sometime during mid-2018 and thought it sounded like something I would love so, of course, I put my hand up when it came to a call for reviewers. Needless to say, I'm very glad I did...

My Name Is Anna is an interesting take on the child abduction story. Seen from 2 different viewpoints, the missing child herself, Emily who is now known as Anna, and Anna's sister, Rosie. Rosie was a baby at the time Emily was taken so has never really known anything else except that she should have an older sister. Her parents have stayed together, unusual in most cases, and had another child, Rob. 

Anna's life could not be more different from Rosie's. Instead of London, she's being brought up in the heat and humidity of Florida by a woman who is deeply religious, clean to a point of obsession, and extreme in her response to Anna's questions that involve her childhood.

The whole story starts when Anna is taken to Astroland, a theme park, by her boyfriend William, the local pastor's son. Forbidden from going there by her mother, Anna wants to go to the place where all her classmates have spent their free time but doesn't realize this is about to change her life forever.

It's not a spoiler to point out that Anna is Emily as this is revealed very early on in the book and the main theme is that of the two sisters both searching for 'Emily' but from different approaches. Rosie is very aware that time is running out to find her sister so takes a leap into the online forums about Emily to investigate herself. Anna is being pushed in the direction of 'Emily' thanks to gifts left in the mail by strangers, and by discovering that her mother may not have been exactly honest with her.

My Name Is Anna is full of twists, some of which are heartbreaking, and the ending itself? Is it an ending? Or something slightly more ambiguous. I loved My Name Is Anna and Lizzy Barber is definitely a talent to be watched. The devastating story of a parent looking away for seconds is written wonderfully and the effects on a family throughout the years following were absolutely gripping. If you're looking for a thriller seen from the family point of view rather than the investigative side, then do check out My Name Is Anna!

Huge thanks to Century/Penguin Random House and Rachel for a copy of the book and the chance to take part in the blog tour. Do check out the stops as there are plenty of reviews, guest posts, and interviews with Lizzy.

My Name Is Anna - Lizzy Barber

ISBN - 9781780899251
Publisher - Century
Release date - January 10th, 2019

Monday, 7 January 2019

Guest Post: Top Books & TV For Young People With Neurodiverse Heroes

Before the wonderful Emily at Scholastic contacted me about taking part in the blog tour for Lightning Chase Me Home, I had already added the book to my wishlist. Having nearly all my nephews and a niece with dyslexia and various ADD diagnoses it had attracted my attention as there aren't that many books out there featuring children like them, or indeed television programmes. It's becoming more common now to see neurodiverse characters but in case you need some amazing recommendations I hope you enjoy this post by the author of Lightning Chase Me Home, the lovely Amber Lee Dodd!

Top Books & Television For Young People With Neurodiverse Heroes

Neurodiversity is quite simply anyone whose brain functions differently to the norm. It’s a term unlike disability, or learning difficulties, that can be used to celebrate people’s differences. The idea of celebrating and spotlighting characters, whose unique way of seeing the world, thankfully has been growing in literature and media. Lightning Chase Me Home can join other great books to have main characters with dyslexia such as Maggot Moon by Sally Gardener, Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan and Pages and Co by Anna James.
As for books portraying autism, we have amateur detectives and puzzle hunters like Christopher Boone from The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon,  Kieran Woods from Smart by Kim Slater and Oskar Schell from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. We also have usual thinkers in the protagonists Rose from How to Look for a Lost Dog by Anne M. Martin and Willow Chance the misunderstood genius in Counting by Sevens by Holly Goldberg Sloan.
In television we have detectives like Sherlock, who although are not explicitly identified as being in the autistic spectrum, have many identifiably autistic-like traits, like hyperfocus and unique puzzle solving abilities. Its Sherlock’s unique mind that makes this show such a compelling watch. There’s also another teen series of Atypical, which follows the life of autistic teen Sam Gardener due out on Netflix. And not only do we have the first female Dr. Who, but we have her lovable dyspraxic side kick Ryan. The first time we meet Ryan he’s struggling to ride a bike,  he’s clumsy, uncoordinated and hugely flustered at himself. It’s something entirely relatable to so many children and adults with dyspraxia. And for me, the kid who was banned from skipping, it’s a triumph.

These are just some of the highlights of recent children and teens books and programming. And I hope it’s just the start of us seeing a different kind of hero.

About The Author

I was born and grew up in Portsmouth. The only Island city in the UK!

I hated reading when I was younger as I really struggled with it. I even ended up being the very last of my class to come off the reading books. But now I couldn't imagine going to bed without a book.
My favorite book changes all the time! There are just so many new and wonderful books being written. But I will forever have a soft spot for The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson. It's the one book I got signed when I was younger and I still have it by my bedside.  

My favorite explorer changes all the time too. I just keep learning about more and more amazing ones. At the moment I'm reading about the adventures of the journalist Nellie Bly, who traveled the world in 72 days.

If I had a daemon or a patronus, it would probably be a platypus which is one of nature's most unlikely animals. It's part duck, beaver and otter. But whilst they look very silly on land, they are fierce underwater hunters.

Find Amber on Twitter, and Instagram!

Please do check out the rest of the blog tour for interviews, guest posts, and reviews!

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