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review 2019-01-16 01:24
Jane Steele by Lindsay Faye (audiobook)
Jane Steele - Lyndsay Faye,Susie Riddell

I'm not sure who it was who described this book as being for those who thought the novel Jane Eyre could have benefited from a higher body count, but they were right. I was only middling in my opinion of Jane Eyre, but I quite liked this odd book inspired by it. I'm not sure what to call it, although I'm not sure I agree with those who describe it as satirical.

 

Anyway, it was lots of fun, and I enjoyed it more than I expected to. (I know I initially decided that I wanted to read it because I kept seeing others reading it, but usually these popular novels fall flat for me.) Oh, and I quite liked Quillfeather in the end.

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text 2019-01-12 20:35
Reading progress update: I've read 58 out of 211 pages.
Jane Seymour's Guide to Romantic Living ... Jane Seymour's Guide to Romantic Living - Jane Seymour
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review 2019-01-08 19:25
As good, if not better, than Harper’s previous books. Read it now!
The Lost Man - Jane Harper

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 and Force of Nature, 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 and 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 AND 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.

 

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review 2019-01-05 00:33
Historical Romance
A Misguided Lord - Jane Charles

A Misguided Lord is an awesome historical romance by Jane Charles.  Ms. Charles has provided readers with a well-written book furnished with an outstanding cast of characters.  Eleanor was summoned to London by her grandfather to find a husband.  She knows she needs a husband to help her take care of her brothers and sister, but she doesn't really want one.  Clayton has decided it's time to take a wife.  While he picks others as women he should court, he keeps being drawn to Eleanor.  Their story is packed with drama, humor, sizzle, action and suspense.  I enjoyed this book from cover to cover and look forward to reading more from Jane Charles in the future.  A Misguided Lord is book 2 of the Tenacious Trents Series but can be read as a standalone.  This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger.

 

 

 

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review 2019-01-04 13:50
BLOG TOUR Plain Jane and the Hitman by Tmonique Stephens

Trained by the best in the business, Emmet Streeter is nobody’s babysitter, until his mentor’s secret daughter needs a bodyguard. She’s everything he doesn’t want: mouthy, obstinate, temperamental, and untouchable. So why can’t he keep his hands off her?
The unwanted daughter of a hitman, Bailey Monroe has kept a low profile until Emmet barges into her life. He’s a killer sent to protect her from a killer. She’s intrigued instead of terrified by his cold eyes, hard face, and his deadly aim.
A carbon copy of the father she hates, she has every reason to fear Emmet, but desire grows in the strangest places under the strangest circumstances.
She shouldn’t trust him, shouldn’t sleep with him and definitely shouldn’t follow him into the jaws of hell to save a father who never loved her.


About the Book

Plain Jane and the Hitman
by Tmonique Stephens
Series
The Plain Jane Series
Genre
Adult
Contemporary Romance
Romantic Suspense
Publisher
Independent
Publication Date
January 1, 2019
Purchase Your Copy for Just $0.99!
Amazon
Also Available On


This was such a fun read. There was plenty of action and romance, it reminded me of those action movies designed to be a date movie so it has a fun romance to go with it; ie. Knight and Day and Mr. and Mrs. Smith at least those were the two movies that I kept thinking about when reading this book. Tmonique Stephens is fantastic when it comes to keeping her readers in suspense with the happenings of the bad guys trying to get the good guys but she also is fantastic when it comes to the romance. Both characters were easy for me to connect with and empathize with; told in a third person POV with alternating focus between Emmet and Bailey you see both sides of their story; which I always prefer. The story is a great one, Bailey was raised without her father, the few times she did see him he scared the crap out of her and then showed nothing but disappointment. Bailey was taught how to take care of herself trained in martial arts and weapons but when her father makes enemies with someone who use to be a friend Bailey's life is at risk and her father only trusts one person to do the job of protecting her, Emmet Streeter. The story was full of excitement and the romance was hawt. The end some might call a cliffhanger but it's more of a teaser of what's to come because we are nowhere finished with Bailey and Emmet.  
 
 
No one fucked with him. Including most of the women. Oh, some brave souls sauntered up to him in their bikinis and clear heels. Their breasts high, their pelvises forward, strutting like they were on a runway. With a flick of his fingers, he sent them on their way. 
Now, he stared at her with the icy blue eyes. Did that color have a name? “I didn’t need your help.”
He cocked his head to the side and she noticed he had a touch of salt mixed in with his coal black hair at his temple. His brow lowered to two angry slashes over those eyes, he stated matter-of-factly, “You did. Accept it and move on.” His lips formed a grim slash that she suspected were full if he ever smiled. She couldn’t tell if his jaw was squared or sharp due to a full beard and mustache, but she wanted to know. 
Hand to the small of her back, he guided her through the throng. She had no idea where he led her and didn’t fight it. Out of the crowd was good enough for now. People cleared out of their way when they saw him coming. She didn’t like his familiarity, his hand on her body, heating her skin through the thin barrier of her shirt, or her body’s reaction to that heat. She certainly didn’t approve of the way he took over. For the moment, she kept that opinion to herself. 
He guided her out of the bazaar to a small compact car parked on a side road and opened the passenger door. “Get in,” he ordered, assuming she’d obey as he rounded the front of the car. Such a gentleman. Not that she cared. 
“I was taught to never take a ride from a stranger.” 
He leaned on the hood, arms splayed, knuckles pressed onto the metal, those cold eyes of his latched onto her. “Good lesson. Doesn’t apply today. Get in the car.” 
“Why?” 
An eyebrow shop up and his head cocked to the side. 
She got the sense no one questioned him. That this was a first for him. “You want to stay and deal with that guy when he wakes up, since you didn’t need my help?” 
“Don’t threaten me.” 
His brow arched. “You consider that a threat? Babe, when I threaten you, you’ll know it.” 
Babe? Hackles rose on the back of her neck. The last thing she needed was to be alone in a car with this man. The hotel shuttle coasted by them and stopped at the end of the street, a block away. 
“Thanks for the offer of the ride and getting my stuff back.” She slammed his car door closed and headed for the shuttle. Don’t know why, but she expected footsteps coming up behind her. There weren’t any. She made it to the open-air shuttle and parked her ass on the bench, along with the other hotel guests who visited the bazaar. 
Five minutes later, the shuttle pulled away and she bounced along with the rest of the people, aware of the car trailing them. 
Don’t turn around. Don’t turn around.

Tour Wide Giveaway

To celebrate the release of PLAIN JANE AND THE HITMAN by Tmonique Stephens, we’re giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open to internationally. One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Tmonique Stephens.  Giveaway ends 1/7/2019 @ 11:59pm EST. Limit one entry per reader. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!


About Tmonique Stephens

TMONIQUE STEPHENS writes passionate novels about Fallen Angels seeking redemption, Egyptian demi-gods finding their powers and average girls landing the hot guys. In her world, Passion Changes Everything!
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