Hold Your Tongue by Deborah Masson ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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I’m thrilled to be opening the blog tour for this gripping debut novel. Thank you to Katie at Penguin Random House for the invitation to take part and my gifted copy of this book.

SYNOPSIS:

A brutal murder.

A young woman’s body is discovered with horrifying injuries, a recent newspaper cutting pinned to her clothing.

A detective with everything to prove.

This is her only chance to redeem herself.

A serial killer with nothing to lose.

He’s waited years, and his reign of terror has only just begun…

Introducing DI Eve Hunter, Hold Your Tongue is your new obsession.

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MY REVIEW:

“He likes stories. And he has an important one to tell. After today, people will listen.” 

“He has a story to tell. And it has begun.”

This riveting debut started with a bang; the brutal prologue giving me literal chills. For the rest of the book I was on the edge of my seat, utterly immersed in this deliciously twisted, turbulent and electrifying thriller. 

A young woman found dead with sickening injuries is not a good first day back at work, but it’s what DI Eve Hunter is thrust into on hers. When a second woman is found a week later there is even greater pressure to find whoever is behind these gruesome murders. But the victims seem random and the only connection they can find between the victims is that they were in the newspaper, the clippings left pinned to their clothing. There is no clear motive and though Eve is sure the killer is telling them something, she can’t figure out what it is. As Eve and the team race against the clock to prevent anyone else becoming a victim, the killer is enjoying his long-planned reign of terror. He is certain he will finish what he started, that the police are clueless and powerless to stop him. But who is right? Will Eve and her team prevail or will the killer accomplish …

Wow! What a fantastic start to a new crime series! This was a rollercoaster ride of a book that I could not put down. This book was an example of what I love in crime fiction: well written and fantastically plotted, fast paced, great characters, complex and multi-layered, and a story that was hard to predict. The author knows how to hold her audience captive, making it impossible to turn away from the horror unfolding. The story is cleverly pieced together through subtle hints and startling revelations, until the final, shocking picture emerges. I could feel my heart pounding in anticipation as I raced towards the finale. 

DI Eve Hunter was a great protagonist. She’s fascinating and flawed but likeable and easy to get behind. It’s clear she’s a strong woman and leader, but she also shows weakness, which made her all the more interesting and relatable. We’re quickly given glimpses of her backstory: the dark secret only she and her counsellor know, and her guilt over the vicious attack that left her with painful injuries and her partner, Sanders, paralysed from the chest down. Eve’s team are all well written. I liked that their interpersonal dynamics weren’t smooth or simple and that there are some who make it clear they didn’t want her back and still blame her for what happened. We are given a comprehensive introduction to Eve and her team, giving us a real sense of who they are and I like that she also included the complicated relationship between Eve and Sanders. 

I love crime thrillers and one of my favourite things is when they include chapters from the perpetrator. I was glad to see that trope used in this book and loved the flashes of his past and peeking into his warped mind. From the savagery of his sickening attacks on his victims it is immediately clear that this is a brutal, cold-blooded, calculating and meticulous killer who is enjoying finally living out his carefully plotted crimes. 

Hold Your Tongue is a brilliant whodunit from an exciting new voice in the genre. Deborah, thanks to you I will never be able to see or hear that song in the same way again… I can’t wait for book two and would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys crime fiction.

Published November 20th on Kindle and December 26th in Paperback.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Deborah Masson was born and bred in Aberdeen, Scotland. Always restless and fighting against being a responsible adult, she worked in several jobs including secretarial, marketing, reporting for the city’s freebie newspaper and a stint as a postie – to name but a few. Through it all, she always read crime fiction and, when motherhood finally settled her into being an adult (maybe even a responsible one) she turned her hand to writing what she loved. Deborah started with short stories and flash fiction whilst her daughter napped and, when she later welcomed her son into the world, she decided to challenge her writing further through online courses with Professional Writing Academy and Faber Academy. Her debut novel, Hold Your Tongue, is the result of those courses.

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Saving Missy by Beth Morrey (Sampler) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

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SYNOPSIS:

A free sampler of Saving Missy, 2020’s most astonishing debut.

Prickly. Stubborn. Terribly lonely.

But everyone deserves a second chance.

Missy Carmichael’s life has become small.

Grieving for a family she has lost or lost touch with, she’s haunted by the echoes of her footsteps in her empty home, the sound of the radio in the dark, the tick-tick-tick of the watching clock.

Spiky and defensive, Missy knows that her loneliness is all her own fault. She deserves no more than this, not after what she’s done. But a chance encounter with two very different women opens the door to something new.

Another life beckons for Missy, if only she can be brave enough to grasp the opportunity. But seventy-nine is too late for a second chance, isn’t it?

MY REVIEW:

I have fallen in love…

I’ve been seeing lucky bloggers who’ve received early proofs of this book raving about it so I was elated to find this sampler available on NetGalley and have the chance to read some of it for myself. Like them, I’ve fallen under the spell of this charming story and the cantankerous Missy Carmichael who, despite her hard, bristly exterior was someone I found myself quickly having a soft spot for. 

The story is beautifully written and addictive from the start. I was enthralled by this story and now desperately need the rest of the book so I can find out what Missy did to make her daughter stay away, learn more about her backstory, and to read more of the exploits of Missy, Sylvie and Angela.

Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins UK for my copy of this sampler in exchange for an honest review.

Publication Date: February 6th 2020.

The Wish List of Albie Young by Ruby Hummingbird ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this uplifting story. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and to Bookouture and NetGalley for my copy of this book.

SYNOPSIS:

Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can float to the top.

Maria Birch is seventy years old and, for her, every week is the same.

On Monday, she does her weekly shop. On Tuesday, she goes for a blow-dry. On Wednesday, she visits the laundrette. But Thursday is her favourite day of all- everything hurts less on Thursday.

Every Thursday Maria walks to her local café. Waiting for her at one of the red gingham-topped tables is Albie Young, a charming man with a twinkle in his eye and an impressive collection of tweed flat caps. Every week, the pair share a slice of marble cake and a pot of tea.

Except, one week, Albie doesn’t turn up.

When Maria finds out what has happened, her perfectly ordered life is ripped apart. Suddenly, she is very lonely. Without her Thursday friend – her only friend – she no longer has the energy to circle the TV listings, she has no reason to leave her apartment, no reason to laugh.

Then she discovers that Albie isn’t who she thought he was, and she’s left wondering if she knew her friend at all. But Albie has left behind a legacy – a handwritten list of wishes he never got the chance to complete. 

Maria is resigned to facing the rest of her days heartbroken and alone. But fulfilling Albie’s wishes could hold the key to her happiness – if only she’s able to look past his secret…

This life-affirming and heartfelt tale is for anyone who has ever looked at their life and wanted more. Fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and The Keeper of Lost Things will love this poignant story, which shows us that for the truest loves, the end is never really the end…

MY REVIEW:

Inspirational, heartwarming and uplifting, this delightful debut novel was a joy to read and is one that will linger long after reading.

Seventy-year old Maria Birch lives a solitary life on a rigid routine. The one day she looks forward to, the only day she breaks free of her self-imposed isolation, is Thursdays. On Thursdays, she goes to the local cafe to share a slice of marble cake and a pot of tea with her friend Albie Young. Until the week he doesn’t show. When she learns her beloved friend has passed away Maria is devastated, hiding herself away once more, until she comes across a handwritten note Albie left behind. The note is a wish list of things he wanted to do for others and has some of them ticked off. Maria decides to complete Albie’s wish list to honour her friend and finds herself on a journey of self-discovery she never expected. 

This poignant tale started slowly and sadly and I was beginning to wonder when it would start to be the uplifting story I was promised, but I am glad I persevered, and after a while we follow Maria out of the darkness and into a lighter, life-changing time that was deeply moving. 

When we meet Maria we see she is a lonely figure and that she lives for her Thursdays with Albie. He’s her only friend and we know she shut herself off from life many years ago after an unknown event that haunts her. She’s been overtaken by a crushing sadness leaving her broken, full of regret and feeling unworthy of love and happiness. We get brief glimpses of happier times in her life that slowly reveal the heartbreaking tragedy she endured and help us understand her actions. For me it made Albie’s death becomes all the more devastating in light of all she has already lost and I was fighting back tears. But Albie’s list gives her a new lease of life. In carrying out the acts of kindness she sees that she is loved, finds joy in human connection and realises she still has a life to be lived to the fullest. I loved this character from the start, the sadness and fear radiating from her made me root for her to find a better life for herself and I was invested in her journey every step of the way.

This was a wonderfully written story about love, loss, kindness, fractured people and what can happen when you bring people together. It reminds us not to wait to tell someone we love them, mend a broken bridge, to follow our dreams and live life to the fullest because we never know what tomorrow may bring. It also shows us that we matter even if we think we don’t and that there are people who love us and miss us in our absence and that we can make a greater impact on those around us than we ever imagined.

 

The Wish List of Albie Young is a touching, tender, honest and hopeful story that will leave you feeling determined to live your best life and to share in “The Albie Effect”

Out now.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ruby Hummingbird is a novelist based in the English countryside. She loves nothing more than writing uplifting and heartwarming fiction that gets her readers reaching for the tissues. When she isn’t storytelling, she can be found tending to her beloved sunflowers or sipping hazelnut lattes. The Wish List of Albie Young is her debut novel, and it promises to be a real heartbreaker. 

You can find Ruby on Twitter at @HummingbirdRuby, on Facebook at /ruby.hummingbird.58 and on Instagram at rubyhummingbirdauthor.

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The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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SYNOPSIS:

1686, ICELAND, AN ISOLATED, WINDSWEPT LAND HAUNTED BY WITCH TRIALS AND STEEPED IN THE ANCIENT SAGAS.

Betrothed unexpectedly to Jón Eiríksson, Rósa is sent join her new husband in the remote village of Stykkishólmur. Here, the villagers are wary of outsiders. 

But Rósa harbours her own suspicions. Her husband buried his first wife alone in the dead of night. He will not talk of it. Instead he gives her a small glass figurine. She does not know what it signifies.

The villagers mistrust them both. Dark threats are whispered. There is an evil here – Rósa can feel it. Is it her husband, the land – or the villagers?

Alone and far from home, Rósa sees the darkness coming. She fears she will be its next victim…

MY REVIEW:

Life in 17th Century Iceland is hard and unforgiving: food is scarce and both the landscape and the sea can be perilous.  Following her father’s death, Rósa and her mother are slowly starving until she marries Jón Eiríksson, the recently widowed chieftain of Stykkishólmur – trading her freedom to save her ailing mother. Jón is a stranger to Rósa and she’s fearful of this large man she must now call husband. She feels the shadow of his first wife, Anna, looming over her. The rumours surrounding her life and death haunt Rósa and she lives in fear that she too will mysteriously vanish overnight at the hands of her husband. Alone in the croft she is haunted by eerie breaths and whispers behind her and the echoes of footsteps. She also hears sounds and scratching coming from the loft that Jón is determined to keep secret. What is he hiding behind that locked door?  

Mesmerising, eerie, claustrophobic, enchanting and remarkable, this was far from the predictable gothic tale I thought it would be. Just as I was certain I knew what was going on the author threw me for a loop with a surprising twist – something she did multiple times over the course of the book. Exquisitely written with beautiful, haunting prose and wonderfully plotted, this novel had me captivated from the first pages. 

It is a story steeped in history, suspicion and tradition, set in a time where Christianity has been ushered in and the traditional gods and runes are frowned upon and only practiced in secret. Rósa is a woman torn between those worlds and with the witch trials a recent memory and the village suspicious of her, she fears she will be the next person to be tried and executed; a fear that emanates from the pages making your heart race with hers.

The characters are engaging and well written. Every one of them brings something important to the story, however small their part. Jón’s first wife Anna may have passed away but she haunts Rósa and there are still whispers about her in the village, making the mysterious woman one of the story’s main characters. I liked Anna and was moved by what she went through. She is a woman who reads and wants independence living in a time women are still expected to be uneducated and have to marry to survive. She is a strong woman but also still a frightened young girl completely alone in her new home. The author uses the bleak and merciless landscape, which feels like a character in its own right, to convey Rósa’s isolation and help us understand her unease and sense of peril. 

Jón was one of the characters I could never quite figure out. Was he a villain or is he misunderstood? As we learned more about his past I did warm to him a little but always had a sense of trepidation about him and felt suspicious of many of his actions. But was this just the difference in our culture and theirs or was it that he was truly someone to be afraid of? I could never decide. HIs apprentice and friend Pétur was another enigma. He would go from seeming like a kind, genuine person to someone who was strange and sinister like the flick of a switch. I did find that I understood these traits more as I learned his backstory but I never knew if he could be trusted. 

In an era where marriage is for convenience and survival rather than happiness,Jón and Rósa face the greater struggle of having a marriage that contains five people – themselves, Anna, Pétur and Páll (Rósa’s cousin). I know it is a time where women are expected to put up and shut up but Rósa seems to not be someone who is able to do that. She’s too curious. Too much of a thinker. It made me worried for her and I spent the whole book convinced that it was her body the men were retrieving from the water in the prologue. Don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil it by telling you if I was right or not.

I absolutely loved this spellbinding novel. I loved being in the dark waiting for all to be revealed so the unpredictability made it all the more exciting. This is a magnificent debut from a wonderful new talent. I can’t wait to read what she does next and can’t recommend this novel highly enough.

Out now

Blog Tour Review: The Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part, and Simon & Schuster UK and NetGalley for my ARCs of this book.

SYNOPSIS:

Until she knows her husband’s fate, she cannot decide her own…

An epic debut novel of forbidden love, loss, and the shattered hearts left behind in the wake of World War I. 

1921. Families are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many survivors of the Great War have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis has not come home. His considered ‘missing in action’, but when Edie receives a mysterious photograph taken by Francis in the post, hope flares. And so she begins to search.

Harry, Francis’s brother, fought alongside him. He too longs for Francis to be alive, so they can forgive each other for the last things they ever said. Both brothers shared a love of photography and it is that which brings Harry back to the Western Front. Hired by grieving families to photograph grave sites, as he travels through battle-scarred France gathering news for British wives and mothers, Harry also searches for his brother. 

And as Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they get closer to the startling truth. An incredibly moving account of an often-forgotten moment in history,The Photographer of the Lost tells the story of the thousands of soldiers who were lost amid the chaos and ruins, and the even greater number of men and women desperate to find them again.

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MY REVIEW:

The Photographer of the Lost is a soulful, poignant, haunting and immersive debut novel. It is a story of sorrow and hope that highlights a part of history rarely remembered; the thousands who simply vanished.

Brothers Francis, Will and Harry all fought together in France during World War I, but Harry was the only one to return home. He carries the guilt of this every day and has never felt able to settle there again. Instead, he travels taking photographs of graves for the families of those killed in action, offering a small crumb of comfort in their time of grief. 

Back in England, Francis’s wife, Edie, has accepted her husband is ‘missing presumed dead’. But when she receives an envelope containing a photograph taken by Francis four years after he was last seen, she has a surge of hope and she decides to go to France to search for answers. 

Also in France, Harry adds Francis’s name to his list, determined to find his brother’s final resting place. But after hearing about the photograph he starts to wonder if Francis could really be alive, and begins an urgent search for the truth. We follow Edie and Harry as they search for Francis, meeting others also touched by the horrors of war along the way. But, as they begin to unravel the truth, it looks like they will be torn further apart. Can they find answers while also repairing the only link to family they both have left?

This novel was truly breathtaking. The author’s portrayal of the harrowing  reality of war, of life in the trenches, how villages and towns were reduced to rubble and left in ruin, and the anguish felt by those who survived, was powerful and profound. But this emotional journey wasn’t just somber, this was also a story about survival, endurance, love and hope. Her writing was full of vivid imagery that made me feel like everything on the page was playing on a movie reel in my mind. The characters each showed optimism and resilience despite all they’ve gone through and illustrated the sheer magnitude of the devastation left behind by war, how everyone you meet will have been touched by some kind of loss. The author wrote with such potency that I felt like I was feeling every trauma they endured and they and their stories will stay with me long after reading.

The Photographer of the Lost is a magnificent and beautifully written piece of historical fiction by an author that is one to watch. A deeply affecting story of love, death, heartbreak and hope, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys this genre. 

Out now.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Caroline completed a PhD in History at the University of Durham. She has a particular interest in the experience of women during the First World War, in the challenges faced by the returning soldier, and in the development of tourism and pilgrimage in the former conflict zones. Caroline is originally from Lancashire, but now lives in south-west France.

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Review: The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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SYNOPSIS:

THE DEUBUT NOVEL FROM THE CREATOR AND WRITER OF HIT TV SHOW THE KILLLING.

As the leaves fall, he’s coming for you…

One October morning in a quiet suburb, the police make a terrible discovery.

A young woman is found brutally murdered with one of her hands missing.

Above her hangs a small doll made of chestnuts.

Examining the doll, Forensics are shocked to find a fingerprint belonging to a young girl, kidnapped and murdered a year ago.

Can a new killer be the key to an old crime?

And will his spree be over when winter arrives – or is he just getting started?

MY REVIEW: 

A chilling, grisly, haunting book that’s brimming with tension, The Chestnut Man is the perfect autumn read. From the opening pages there’s a malevolent atmosphere, like evil is lurking in the shadows just waiting to strike. 

A young mother is found in the children’s playground behind her garden. She’s been savagely tortured, mutilated and murdered while her son slept inside unaware of the horror. It’s like nothing the officers investigating have ever seen before. And there, hanging on a beam above the playhouse, is a chestnut doll that contains a clue with links to the kidnapping and murder of a 12-year-old girl last year that was thought to be solved. 

When another young mother is killed in a similar way, the same chestnut doll at the scene, it becomes clear they are in pursuit of a sadistic killer who’s only just getting started. Now, the urgent chase is on to identify and stop him before more lives are taken – and to discover his connection to the year old murder case.

Not for the faint hearted, this was a warped, gruesome, eerie and riveting thriller. Complex and layered, the writing is sharp and atmospheric with nail-biting tension throughout. I found it impossible to predict and loved how the author slowly strung the pieces together to create the startling final picture. Its starts strong, with the grisly back-to-back murders that had my heart pounding, and I breathed a sigh of relief when there was a pause in them for a while. It felt a little slow in the middle and I did begin to wonder if focusing on so many different characters was a mistake, but he soon pulled it back together and had me on the edge of my seat.

The Chestnut Man is an outstanding debut and I can’t wait to see what the author writes next. 

Out now.

Blog Tour Review: Call Me Evie by J. P. Pomare ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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I had seen a lot of buzz on bookstagram about this novel at the start of the year, so in April I was excited to be approved for an arc copy and eager to read the book for myself. Six months later I’m delighted to be taking part in the Instagram blog tour for the paperback release of this riveting thriller.  

Thank you to Millie at Little Brown Book Group for the invitation to take part and my gifted copy of this book.

SYNOPSIS

‘Literary suspense as dark and fresh as midnight in winter, with a merciless twist-of-the-knife finale. One of the most striking debuts I’ve read in years.’ – A. J. Finn

In this compulsive, twist-filled and haunting psychological suspense debut, a seventeen-year-old girl struggles to remember the role she played the night her life changed forever…

Don’t trust him. It wasn’t me. It couldn’t have been me.

Meet Evie, a young woman who has fled with her uncle to the isolated New Zealand beach town of Maketu.  Jim says he’s hiding her to protect her, that she did something terrible back home in Melbourne. Something Evie can’t remember.

But Evie isn’t her real name. And Jim isn’t really her uncle.

In a house that creaks against the wind, Evie pieces together the events that led her here. And as her memories return she starts to wonder if Jim is really her saviour …or her captor.

A riveting debut novel that fearlessly plumbs the darkest recesses of the mind. Call Me Evie explores the fragility of memory and the potential in all of us to hide the truth even from ourselves.

MY REVIEW:

The book is narrated by Evie and is split into “before” and “after” the night that she did something terrible. We have no idea what she did, or in fact if she actually did it, and that made the book very confusing for me at first. I found it hard to follow what was happening and it was hindering my enjoyment, but I never give up on a book before I’m a quarter of the way through and I was intrigued by the plot. Soon the story began to flow more smoothly and I was completely hooked and immersed in Evie’s situation.

“He’s trapped me in the nineties.”

The book starts with Kate, who is now going by Evie to hide her identity, having her head shaved by a man she says she once loved. She’d tried to run from the house in the secluded beach town that he’s brought her to but he found her and reminds her that “they” are looking for her and she isn’t safe. She’s skinny and he gives her juices with a powder he tells her will help her gain weight. He also takes her to the doctor and she’s prescribed antidepressants but the man, who she decides to call Jim, refuses the doctor’s suggestion that she see a psychologist. He tells her he’s helping her heal mentally and she doesn’t need to see anyone else.

When Evie begins to tell us the story of before the incident she begins by taking us back to  her first memory: at five years old her Nanny left her alone in the bath for a few moments and she poured scalding water onto herself, scarring her for life. Not long after her mother died and her father retired from his professional rugby career to work in finance and raise her himself. 

Back in the present Evie is starting to remember little bits about that night: drinking, the mysterious ‘him’ lying face down with blood spreading under his head and  herself in the car. She’s afraid to remember more even though she is sure she didn’t do anything bad, that it had to be Jim and he’s lying to her. She writes letters that Jim sends back to Melbourne which are full of confusion and fear as Evie talks vaguely about what happened and tries to grapple with what the truth is of that inauspicious night.  She is determined to escape as she becomes increasingly sure that Jim is lying to her and holding her captive rather than protecting her. But who can she trust? And when she sees what’s being written about her online she is once again unsure where to turn and what’s real.

As the book goes on we learn more about Evie’s life growing up in Melbourne, her relationship with her dad, friendships and blossoming relationship with a boy named Thom. But we still don’t know much about that night or who Jim really is. I had my suspicions but I found they vacillated as the story went on.

“Sometimes if you bite into a joke you find a stone of truth at the centre.” 

This was a strange book at times but highly addictive and I devoured it in one sitting. I needed to fit the pieces of the puzzle together, to know what Evie supposedly did, if she did it, if I was right about who Jim was, and if people were really after her. I wasn’t prepared for the shocking twists in this story or how the one I had guessed correctly would play out. I was completely blindsided. The complex plot and multifaceted characters are cleverly written and you are kept guessing until the final sentence. 

Call Me Evie is a story about love, anger, fear, truth and lies. It makes you question the truth of your own memories and what reality is. A spectacular debut that I can see making a great movie. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves mystery and thrillers.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

J P Pomare grew up on a horse-racing farm in small town New Zealand with his three older siblings and his father. He left for Melbourne where he developed his craft, entrenching himself in the Australian literary community. For almost two years he produced and hosted a podcast called On Writing, interviewing almost thirty local and international authors including Joyce Carol Oates, John Safran, Dorthe Nors, E Lockheart, Chris Wormersley, and Sofie Laguna.

J P Pomare has been published in several journals including  Meanjin, Kill Your Darlings, Takahe, and Mascara Literary Review. He has also won, and been short and long listed for a number of prizes include the KYD Unpublished Manuscript Prize. Call Me Evie is his first novel.

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