Jane Harper has done it again.

The Australian native’s third book The Lost Man, is exceptional. Harper, who already has two best sellers to her name, weaves a tale of intrigue and intense family drama about a man whose body is found near an abandoned grave in the Australian outback.

What ensues is a page-turning drama that unfolds secrets kept by the small community. It also involves some intense family dynamics that you won’t see coming—but which will make you take (and later switch) “sides” as the book unfolds.

If you’ve read The Dry (Harper’s first book) or last year’s Force of Nature, about a corporate team-building outing that went terribly wrong, you will enjoy this one, perhaps even more.

Harper’s engaging books are full not only of intrigue, but with great characters filling a plot line that will keep you guessing.

Who’s Number One?

What’s at the top of the New York Times Best Seller Lists this week?

James Patterson’s 19th Christmas (part of the Women’s Murder Club series) is number one. It’s followed by Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing and Elin Hilderbrand’s latest, What Happens in Paradise, promoted by Amazon as a book where “…secret lives and new loves emerge in the bright Caribbean sunlight” (not exactly a promotional line that would have me racing to buy the book, but the author is a proven best-seller).

On the non-fiction hardcover list, two cable television commentators (one current and one former) make up two of the top three, followed by a book written by a former presidential candidate and her daughter.

Rachel Maddow’s Blowout—an indictment of the U.S. oil and gas industry--stays at number one in the Publisher’s Weekly (PW) survey, selling 68,150 units. In second place was Chelsea & Hillary Clinton’s The Book of Gutsy Women and rounding out PW’s top three is a book by Maddow’s former rival, Fox News celebrity Bill O’Reilly’s latest offering, The United States of Trump.

On the Children’s list from PW comes Dav Pilkey’s For Whom the Ball Rolls (#7 in the Dog Man series) was tops with 45,193 books sold and Rick Riordan’s The Tyrant’s Tomb (The Trials of Apollo #4), which has sold 19,823 units.

The Best Selling paperback remains Kristin Hannah’s The Great Alone, which was one of the best books I read all of last year.

The Waiting Is the Hardest Part: But Petty biography is finally here

Having reviewed just recently the wonderful Robin Williams biography, Robin, by Dave Itzkoff, I’m half way through Petty: A Biography, by rock musician, professor and author Warren Zanes (who also wrote the Dusty Springfield biography sixteen years ago) and who managed Steven Van Zant’s band and also played with the Del Fuegos.

Petty, who died at age 66 two years ago this month, sold more than 80 million records during his career and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

If you loved Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, you will get the inside story of Petty’s rough upbringing in Gainesville, Florida, and how he came to stardom after moving to Hollywood.

Petty’s journey was a rough ride, and the book, while not as highly researched and well-written as Robin, still paints a vivid picture of Petty’s complex personality—part easy-going and part perfectionist—and how he came to know (and later play with) Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison and many of rock’s super stars.

Having had the chance to meet Petty and his band back in 1987 on a tour stop in Atlanta, this book is one I couldn’t wait to read. It hasn’t disappointed me.

Get to your library: it’s just not for books!

If you find yourself too buried in those books you purchase from Amazon or in bookstores, give yourself a break and check out your local library. If it’s been a while since you’ve been in a Hall County library, prepare yourself. You will want to sign up for a library card before you leave.

Besides all the wonderful (free) shelves of books (there were 546,160 items checked out last year!) there are also dozens of programs to participate in, including events ranging from author book signings to creative coloring for adults (a scientific fact that coloring reduces stress, although I’m not sure it does if you color outside the lines!), yoga for beginners, knitting and crochet clubs, how to use social media to drive your business and many others. And, there are even more for kids of all ages.

Check out www.hallcountylibrary.org and check out this month’s happenings. Spending time in your local library is a great way to stay (literally and figurately) close to books and enjoy some cool activities you wouldn’t normally associate with a library.

David R. Altman is a member of the American Academy of Poets and the National Books Critics Circle. Altman's poetry has been published in the American Journal of Poetry and he was nominated for Georgia Author of the Year for his poetry collection Death in the Foyer. He can be reached at www.davidraltman.com or via email at altmandavidr@gmail.com

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