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I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for the Vanished Child by M J Lee, I have a fantastic post to share with you about family secrets which has really got me intrigued and I look forward to reading The Vanished Child soon!

 

Description:

The Vanished Child Cover EBOOK

 

What would you do if you discovered you had a brother you never knew existed?

On her deathbed, Freda Duckworth confesses to giving birth to an illegitimate child in 1944 and temporarily placing him in a children’s home. She returned later but he had vanished. 

What happened to the child? Why did he disappear? Where did he go? 

Jayne Sinclair, genealogical investigator, is faced with lies, secrets, and one of the most shameful episodes in recent history as she attempts to uncover the truth.

Can she find the vanished child?

This book is the fourth in the Jayne Sinclair Genealogical Mystery series, but can be read as a standalone novel.

Every childhood lasts a lifetime.

You can buy a copy of The Vanished Child here

Guest Post by M J Lee

Does your family have a secret?

Every family has things they don’t talk about in front of the children. Or sometimes in front of other adults.

You only have to watch the mesmerising revelations on Who do you think you are? or The Will  to see that the deeper we dig into our families the more secrets we will find. Hidden by old aunties, buried in old photographs, or simply hushed up by drawing a curtain over the past.

An illegimate child. A black sheep. A missing son or daughter. A shotgun marriage. A drunken uncle. A convicted felon. A runaway bride.

Funnily enough in Britain, it looks like Geordies have the most secrets, followed by Lancashire. Here’s a table from a recent survey:

survey results

They were always canny people in Newcastle.

My own family secret doesn’t appear on the chart. My grandfathers fought on opposing sides during the Irish Civil War. One was a member of the Free State Army whilst the other was a Captain in the IRA. I often wonder whether they ever met.

Most family secrets are swept under the carpet, kept hidden by aunties. But occasionally, they come to light in genealogical searches, in old photographs, letters, and journals. They are a wonderful source of material for novelists. Through the techniques of the genealogical researcher, secrets can be discovered, tales told, and the past revealed in a way that no other mystery can match.

Family secrets form the basis of my own series of novels, featuring genealogical investigator, Jayne Sinclair. She’s an ex-police detective who, after her partner was shot and killed, found researching her family history  a way of forgetting the trauma. She left the police force and now investigates family history for her clients. Family histories that no other genealogist wants to touch.

In the latest book, the Vanished Child, Jayne helps her new mother-in-law to investigate one of her secrets; an unknown brother born out of wedlock in 1944. In the case, Jayne is faced with lies, secrets and one of the most shameful episodes in recent history as she attempts to uncover the truth. What happened to the Vanished Child?

I hope you enjoy the book. But what about you? Do let me know at the email address below if you have any unusual family secrets. They could form the basis of a new investigation by Jayne Sinclair…

 

Martin Lee is the author of four genealogical mystery novels, featuring investigator, Jayne Sinclair. He can be contacted at www.writermjlee.com, on Facebook at writermjlee and on twitter at @writermjlee. He’s nothing if not original with his names.

 

About the Author:

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Martin has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a University researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, tv commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites.

He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the North of England. In London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and London Festivals, and the United Nations.

When he’s not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, researching his family history, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake and wishing he were George Clooney.

Social Media Links 

Website: www.writermjlee.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/WriterMJLee

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/writermjlee

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It’s an honour to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Katy Lilley’s New Beginnings for Bryony Bennett today and share a wonderful guest post with you.  The book is published by Manatee Books and is a rom-com that sounds to be a quirky, yet brilliant read!

 

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Description:

When Bryony Bennett’s godmother dies and leaves her a huge inheritance, Bryony jumps at the chance to get away from it all and start again.

She packs up her life and moves into the (almost) idyllic Cliff Cottage…only to find that starting over is never quite as simple as you imagine. Faced with grumpy neighbours, hostile locals and more than her fair share of disasters, Bryony embarks on a mission to make sure her new life is everything she wants it to be…but will she ever win over the locals and truly be happy in her new life?

 

 

 

You can buy a copy of New Beginnings for Bryony Bennett via:

Amazon UK

 

Guest Post:

Why I write

That’s one of those questions that’s both easy and difficult to answer. I write because I love creating stories, sorting out the angst and misunderstandings between people. Describing places and people, and delving into their world.

As an only child, I was never lonely. I had a vivid imagination, and used it to the full. I made notes of places and people, wrote ‘stories’ about them and loved it. Marvelled at how if you put words together you made sentences…paragraphs…scenarios…

Until I went to senior school where I was always marked down for not being factual enough. Me who loves research. What they meant was my essays were too much like a story.

Ah well.

When I had children I told them stories. About untidy rabbits and indecisive birds, children who could understand rabbit speak and have adventures. Great fun. I did write them down, and a friend illustrated them for me. I wish I still had them.

However it gave me the taste for story making again.

I didn’t indulge it much, I was as guilty as anyone who said life got in the way. When I got my first computer (one you had to swap discs in and out a million times) I treid a love story. It was rubbish, and quite rightly turned down.

Fast forward twenty five or so years (yes I am that old) and I was off work, ill. I’d only just started to play around with social media and so on, but say a competition to send on a first chapter of a romance.

I had a go, and met up with a lot of other like minded ‘newbies’. None of us got any further. In my case quite rightly so. It was wooden. I hadn’t learned to write as I can, not as I thought I should.

However, we then decided to help each other. We were chatting via messenger one day, and I said. I’m going to write a Regency.

I wrote it, they all helped to edit, write a blurb and a synopsis and decide where to send it. I sent it off and three days later got an acceptance. That was as my hotter side. (Raven McAllan)

If only it was all as easy as that.

It isn’t of course. I’ve had my fair share of rejections, some helpful and encouraging…some not.

Therefore, when I decided to change direction and write a romantic comedy. I was somewhat apprehensive. After all, it was something new. Something I’d not attempted before, and what if no one liked it?

But nothing ventured and all that.

I had an idea. Began to write. Set it in Devon, with an imaginary village near where we go on holiday.  Loved writing it. Finished it with a sigh of satisfaction and sent it to my beta. She loved it.

I then, with a lot of worry sent it to Manatee Books.

Who grin and dance on the ceiling loved it.

And asked what else I had.

(A whole lot of love going on here, sorry)

The upshot being, I’m going to be gloriously busy this next year. My ideas notebook, where if I don’t jot things down I’ll forget something which of course would have made the passage, chapter, book etc, is full.

I haven’t completely shed my hotter side. Sometimes I need to just see where that goes.  However, Katy is my love. She lets me write about places I love, history I’m so interested in, in a totally different way.

Does it work?

Only you the reader can tell me that, but I do hope so. I’m not gong away. Wink

The next book is about Lottie, who you meet in New Beginnings for Bryony Bennett, and then there’s a Regency and a contemporary romance.

Great stuff. And on that note I’m back of to Devon in my imagination and WIP to see just what Lottie is up to now.

 

Love, Katy

Bryony-Blog-Tour

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As part of the blog tour for her new book Punch, the lovely Barbara Henderson has written a piece on “Animals in Punch”, so without further ado, let me hand over to Barbara.

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I once had a one-to-one with a commissioning editor for a big, mainstream publisher. She had taken a look at a manuscript of mine which still sits unpublished and unloved in my drawer, but one thing she said stuck in my mind:

‘It’s good that you have a dog in it,’ she said. ‘If you can put a dog on the cover of a children’s book, it’s proven to sell more. It sells most if you have a Retriever on it.’

Really? Irrespective of subject, the story itself and countless other factors?

Needless to say, the dog alone didn’t sell her my manuscript. After a polite and non-decriptly positive-ish fifteen minutes, she walked away from me and the book-that-was-never-to-be, without taking it any further.

It was an easy decision to include some animal characters in Punch.

There wasn’t a pet as such in Fir for Luck, my previous novel, but Punch needed one – it came with the territory of travelling entertainers in Victorian times, almost like a small-scale circus. I did some digging and discovered that some travelling puppeteers used a live dog in their act. Necessity meant it had to be small (can you imagine a Retriever perching on the ledge of a Punch and Judy booth?), but it made the perfect companion for my main character. I imagine Toby, the dog in my book, as a cross between a Jack Russell and something a little bit shaggier, but I don’t need to know exactly – with children’s books, the readers do an awful lot of the filling in with their own imaginations. They don’t need me to spell out what a dog looks like – they simply want to know what happens to it.

Victorian Punch and Judy with live dog, image from

But I had to be careful. Children have a pretty strong reaction to any cruelty towards animals. I discovered this to my cost in the reactions to Fir for Luck, where a cat is mistreated pretty badly in a Highland Clearances context. There is good reason to believe that the incident with the cat actually happened, so it merited inclusion, but it is the only part of Fir for Luck I have got any flak for.

In Punch, things don’t end quite so badly for the dog:  Like the cat in Fir for Luck, it is a victim of abuse, but Phin rescues it!  Toby the dog becomes a side-kick, a vehicle for low-key comedy, and a comforting presence, too. A creature who loves my main character unconditionally. Another fabulous writing tip which floats around in my nebulous mind: If you struggle to make your hero lovable, make another character love them. A dog ticks that box pretty nicely.

I was dealing with Victorian times, so for practical reasons there is also a horse – a Clydesdale, in fact. I love horses and have always found this breed particularly impressive, with its flowing mane, hairy hooves and plate-size tracks in the mud. Only recently, I visited a heavy horse centre with my family and got up close. It was easy to imagine that a small-built 12-year-old was going to find a Clydesdale pretty daunting. But I am also fascinated by the way that fear is easily dispelled by familiarity- he has to get on with it, as they say. And as looking after the horse becomes part of his everyday routine, Phin doesn’t give it a second thought. It is hired for the season and is only ever referred to as ‘the Clydesdale’, a working animal without a name and without much emotional attachment. I think that may be an accurate reflection of how many viewed horses in those days.

But there is another animal which commands our imagination in Punch, and no spoilers here – it takes up a fair bit of the cover of the book. A dancing bear. Imposing, unpredictable, dangerous and impressive, it is a memorable creature. Dancing bears, on the whole, led a life of suffering, but far from a treatise on animal welfare, Punch is more of a snapshot of how life was, or could have been, in those days of changing attitudes and increased awareness of animals and their needs. Even then, although still legal, dancing bears were relics of a bygone age.

When I first pitched the novel to my writing group, the verdict was unanimous – you had us at ‘dancing bear’. ‘More about the bear,’ my publishers asked after every round of edits. There will be more detail about the dancing bear and how it gate-crashed my story in tomorrow’s blog tour stop on the LoveBooksGroup blog.

I love the fact that the animals add colour and drama to Punch – I think it’s a better book for it.

So much so that I have gone back to add a hamster into a previously petless manuscript. We all love a good pet story, right?

Watch this space!

Punch was published on 23rd October by Cranachan Publishing and can be purchased via:

Amazon
Wordery
Book Depository
Waterstones

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Hello and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Dead Lands, a trilling crime story set in the 1970s.  I am delighted to be able to share a guest post with you about the research behind the book so grab your cuppa and read on…..

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Description:

Dead Lands is a thrilling crime story set in the 1970s. When a woman’s body is found a special team is called in to investigate and prime suspect Alexander Troy is arrested for the murder. Desperate to remain a free man, Troy protests his innocence, but refuses to use his alibi. Trying to protect the woman he loves becomes a dangerous game – questions are asked and suspicions deepen. When the prime suspect completes a daring escape from custody, DI Breck and DS Kearns begin the hunt. Breck wants out of the force while Kearns has her own agenda and seeks revenge. Breck has his suspicions and she wants to keep it from him, and a right-wing march provides an explosive backdrop to their hunt for Troy. Dead Lands is the thrilling debut of award winning short story writer Lloyd Otis, and intelligently covers issues of race, discrimination and violence in a changing 70s landscape. 

You can buy a copy of Dead Lands via:

Urbane Publications (Publisher)
Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

** My thanks to Matthew Smith at Urbane Books  for my copy of this book and to Abby Fairbrother (the immensely awesome Anne Bonny Book Reviews) for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **


Guest Post:

Dead Lands – building the story

A tremendous amount of research had to be conducted for Dead Lands and this was mainly for two reasons. The first reason:  the story is set a few decades ago and the second reason: a real-life event serves as its backdrop. I had to find out what the climate was like back then. I needed to feel it to some extent, to smell it, and to understand what the attitudes were like towards migrants, towards the police, and women. An author has to approach this sort of research carefully, which can be highly rewarding. To learn something new that will affect your story, or that you could insert into it for more realism, is an amazing feeling and I felt grateful to know what that was like.

Language and attitudes definitely change over time and I had to make a decision on how to approach that. For this story, I tried to strike a balance. With Dead Lands being set in the latter part of the 70s, it made sense that the attitudes of the times were reflected as much as possible without being an obstacle to the main story – although I gave myself more flexibility with the language. I spoke to people who were around at the time which was very important, because sometimes there is no substitute for speaking to someone who lived during a particular period. Of course you have to find those people, but when you do and you hear what they have to say, well it’s worth it. It really is.

With that part in place, I had to think about the other layers of the story and how they would interlace with each other as seamlessly as possible. Which character would have their identity pulled apart and questioned, which character would be telling the lies, and who would be hiding the biggest secrets? Setting Dead Lands in the past enabled me to highlight the complexities of proving guilt – DNA procedures as we know them today weren’t in place back then, so you really needed a good detective at the helm. Therefore, in terms of the people leading the charge, I needed strong characters.  I liked the polar opposites of a male and female investigators, and especially in that period of time, so Breck and Kearns fitted the bill perfectly. Having them operate within a fictional unit offered some flexibility with regards to what that unit was allowed to do, and in Breck, we have a bit of a maverick. A different kind of officer operating in a turbulent part of South East London. Amongst the temptations and whispers of corruption, he’ll do his job and he wants to do it the right way. That’s what he signed up for and why he joined the force. But ultimately, as the investigation progresses, he feels something is up, he’ll follow his nose and see it through to the end.

There’s a gritty underbelly to the story and life in the force is not sugar-coated in Dead Lands. Work for Breck provides a temporary escape from his feelings of discontentment and relationships are particularly important in this story. We even see this with Troy. From being a city high-flier to a man on the run, he is forced to turn to a small net of trusted people that may or may not be able to help him.

That is the landscape which I set out to create. There is no internet, no mobile phones, just a man and his limited resources, with an alibi that he can’t use and time running out.


Now I don’t know about you, but that has got me really keen to get reading and find out more!!  Perhaps I may just sneak this one up the reading pile and get lost in the world of Breck.  My review will be posted in November (sometime….)

 

Follow the blog tour:

BANNER

 

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Hello and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Linda Prather’s latest thriler Innocent Blood.  I am delighted to be able to share a guest post with you today written by Linda about characters that make her cringe, so get comfortable and enjoy!  Oh and don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for some fantastic reviews!

INNOCENT 6 FINAL

Description:

Loki Redmond swore she’d never return to the reservation, but two missing hunters and the ancient Choctaw myth of Nalusa Falaya take her and her brother, Dadron, on a dangerous trek through the wilderness.

Meanwhile, her partner Jake Savior, heads to Tunica, Mississippi, to investigate the second mass killing by a Choctaw police officer. 

Are the cases connected?

The only thing they know for sure is innocent blood has been shed, and unless they can find the source more are going to die.

 

You can buy a copy of Innocent Blood via:

Amazon UK


Guest Post:

WRITING CHARACTERS THAT MAKE ME CRINGE
Robert from The Forgotten
Working in the criminal justice system in the USA I’ve had the opportunity to see different types of scenarios of crime that made me cringe inside. A huge fan of shows like Criminal Minds I would often find myself looking at the evidence, studying the victims and the perpetrators looking for an explanation. I also do that with my characters. Delving into their dark minds, looking for that one glimmer of something good, or simply some explanation for their crimes.
There were times as Robert’s character developed when I wondered if there was good somewhere deep inside him.Perhaps a redeeming quality that made him worth saving. As time went on, I realized that some minds are damaged beyond our understanding. Things have just become too twisted and warped. Although I occasionally felt sympathy for Robert, I found no redeeming qualities to exploit.
Robert is a handsome young man, with a charming smile, dark eyes, and the heart of a crazed killer. He feels no sympathy for his mother’s victims, nor for his own perverted pleasures. He would most likely be diagnosed as criminally insane. There are moments of lucid thought when you’ll almost feel he’s about to change. Don’t get taken in by his charm. Raised by his insane mother, his crime spree started at the tender age of ten, but his madness started long before that—along with his hatred of dogs and animals.
Some fascinating passages from Robert’s mind:
The Indian had looked at him long and hard, but it wasn’t as though she was looking at him. Instead she was looking through him, seeing inside him. Way down deep to the part of him no one knew and no one saw. I should have killed her and the dog.
Suffering doesn’t always mean dead. The dog had suffered too, but it was still breathing, still snarling and growling. What if the girl lived?
He’d learned early to keep his urges in check by working with the old and feeble. There was something cathartic about watching them slowly waste away, their eyes constantly searching the hallways in hopes of a visit from a relative, or a friendly face. They were the real forgotten. Put out to pasture to rot from the inside out.
Love a twisted killer? Then you’ll thoroughly enjoy Robert.

 


My thanks to Linda for joining me today and sharing that fascinating insight with us!
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It is with great honour that I welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for #Sealskin and share with you a touching guest post written by Su Bristow, the author of this breathtakingly beautiful novel.

Su dedicated her book to her mother and many readers including myself were intrigued by what was written in this dedication, wondering what the story behind it was and kindly Su has shared this with us.

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‘To my mother, Moraig MacLauchlan, who never found her way back.’

My mother grew up in Glasgow in the 20s and 30s, and she had a short and troubled childhood. Her father’s family were crofters in Perthshire, and I’m not sure her father coped well with city life. By the time she was in her early teens, he was alcoholic and her parents had separated. When he died, just a few streets away, it was three days before she and her mother found out. They had no photos and never talked about him at all. In the same year, the house where they lived burned down, so they lost their home as well.

During the war she worked in the Glasgow telephone exchange, and she became engaged to a Canadian serviceman. When he was stationed in Surrey, England, she – and her mother – moved to be nearby. He was sent off to fight, taken prisoner in Italy, and repatriated to Canada at the end of the war…where he met and married someone else.

She never went back to Scotland. And if she’d ever been playful or carefree, she lost those qualities before I was born. I don’t know what she’d have made of Sealskin! But one of its themes is the loss of childhood innocence and the pain of exile, so I wanted to acknowledge her in that way.

You can buy a copy of Sealskin here.


 

About the Author:

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Su Bristow is a consultant medical herbalist by day. She’s the author of two books on herbal medicine: The Herbal Medicine Chest and The Herb Handbook; and two on relationship skills: The Courage to Love and Falling in Love, Staying in Love, co-written with psychotherapist, Malcolm Stern. Her published fiction includes ‘Troll Steps’ (in the anthology, Barcelona to Bihar), and ‘Changes’ which came second in the 2010 CreativeWritingMatters flash fiction competition. Her forthcoming novel, Sealskin, is set in the Hebrides, and it’s a reworking of the Scottish legend of the selkies, or seals who can turn into people. It won the Exeter Novel Prize 2013. Her writing has been described as ‘magical realism; Angela Carter meets Eowyn Ivey’.


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the #Sealskin blog tour for reviews, giveaways and some fascinating and interesting guest posts by Su.

 

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The Mountain in my Shoe aw.indd

I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on Louse Beech’s blog tour for The Mountain In My Shoe and share with you a piece Louise has kindly written for us.

“A missing boy. A missing book. A missing husband. A woman who must find them all to find herself.  On the night Bernadette finally has the courage to tell her domineering husband that she’s leaving, he doesn’t come home. Neither does Conor, the little boy she’s befriended for the past five years. Also missing is his lifebook, the only thing that holds the answers. With the help of Conor’s foster mum, Bernadette must face her own past, her husband’s secrets and a future she never dared imagine in order to find them all. Exquisitely written and deeply touching, The Mountain in My Shoe is both a gripping psychological thriller and a powerful and emotive examination of the meaning of family … and just how far we’re willing to go for the people we love.”

You can buy a copy of The Mountain in My Shoe here.


Water, water, everywhere….

When launching my novel – The Mountain in my Shoe – in Hull, writer Russ Litten observed that water is a huge theme in my work. It’s a constant that trickles through my words. I realised how right he is. I’m haunted by the sea, by rivers, by rain, by water.

In my début – How to be Brave – the sea was, in essence, another character. As the lost crew of the SS Lulworth Hill drifted aimlessly on the searing hot South Atlantic Sea, I made the ocean as much a person as they were. She lapped at the boat, she seduced them with her melody until some men jumped to their death, she gave food in the flying fish, and she took life with the predatory sharks. I could smell and feel that water as I wrote the book; still do when I read it aloud.

In The Mountain in my Shoe that water is a turbulent river, the Humber, which is one of the most dangerous in the world. She is backdrop to a novel full of emotions, reveals, tension, and hardship. She sets a certain atmosphere with her whirling currents and freezing temperatures. In this novel, as in my first, this water almost claims characters who dare test her.

In my next novel, one I’m currently working on, the water is the horrendous rain of June 2007, when floods destroyed homes and lives across England. Here in Hull, we endured some of the worst destruction. I lost my home, my car and many of our precious belongings.
This experience inspired Maria in the Moon, a novel that how Catherine volunteers at a crisis centre to help others going through the same floods. In the story, everything is flushed out, including a long buried, tragic childhood memory she had previously forgotten.

Water can be a metaphor for so many things. Our emotions mainly. She’s ruled by the moon when we consider the sea. She comes in torrents, ruining our lives, flushing out the truth.
But she soothes and quenches us. No wonder she’s a marvellous thing, and no wonder that she’s splashed, trickled, drenched and quenched so many of my novels.


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for reviews, extracts and fantastic guest posts written by Loiuse!

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About The Author:

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Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose début novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. She regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at
Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012. She is also part of the
Mums’ Army on Lizzie and Carl’s BBC Radio Humberside Breakfast Show. The Mountain in My Shoe was longlisted for the 2016 Not the Booker Prize.

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