Sunday, 1 March 2015

No Name Lane by Howard Linskey

The hunt for a serial killer unearths an unsolved cold case from over sixty years ago.
Young girls are being abducted and murdered in the North-East. Out of favour Detective Constable Ian Bradshaw struggles to find any leads - and fears that the only thing this investigation will unravel is himself.
Journalist Tom Carney is suspended by his London tabloid and returns to his home village in County Durham. Helen Norton is the reporter who replaced Tom on the local newspaper. Together, they are drawn into a case that will change their lives forever.
When a body is found, it's not the latest victim but a decades-old corpse. Secrets buried for years are waiting to be found, while in the present-day an unstoppable killer continues to evade justice...

No Name Lane by Howard Linskey will be published by Penguin on 12 March 2015 in paperback.

No Name Lane is a long book, it runs to almost 500 pages, but despite the length, it is an accessible, quite simple story.

Set in the North East of England, in a fairly average, if a little run-down, ex-mining village, this is the first instalment in a new crime series that fans of Peter Robinson and Stuart MacBride will enjoy.

DC Ian Bradshaw is a young, troubled copper. He's out of favour with the top brass of the force, and with his colleagues. There is a serial killer on the loose, he targets young girls and the investigating team have no leads, and no ideas. Bradshaw is desperate to work on the case, but instead, he finds himself on the outskirts of the team, concentrating on trying to discover the identity of a recently uncovered skeleton. It's clear that this is an old case, and Bradshaw despairs of finding anyone in the village who can shed light on a murder that took place sixty years ago.

Tom Carney is in a similar place to Bradshaw. A local who left to work as a journalist on a tabloid newspaper in London, he too finds himself excluded from his team. He made a huge mistake, and has returned to his old stomping ground to nurse his wounds.
Tom soon finds himself caught up in both the current investigation and the decades old murder. Teaming up with local reporter Helen, Tom is determined that this story will be the one that proves to his editor that he really is a great journalist.

Howard Linskey has created a fast-moving and intricate story. The plot moves at a fast pace, throwing up surprises and unexpected discoveries at every turn. His characters are well drawn, if a little predictable in this genre; with the troubled detective and the well-worn journalist with issues of his own.

The North East setting is described so well, with the bluntness and wry humour of the people of the region expertly woven into the dialogue.

Gritty, with an intriguing plot; No Name Lane is a great start to this new series, I look forward to reading more about Bradshaw and Carney in the future.

My thanks to Real Readers who sent my copy for review.

Howard Linskey is the author of the David Blake series, the first of which The Drop was selected as one of the 'Top Five Crime Thrillers of the Year' by The Times and the second, The Damage, was also in The Times as a 'Top Crime & Thriller Summer Reads'. 

Originally from Ferryhill in County Durham, he now lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and daughter.

For more information check out his website
Follow him on Twitter @HowardLinskey

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Thursday, 26 February 2015

The Abrupt Physics of Dying by Paul E Hardisty ** BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY **

Claymore Straker is trying to forget a violent past. Working as an oil company engineer in the wilds of Yemen, he is hijacked at gunpoint by Islamic terrorists. Clay has a choice: help uncover the cause of a mysterious sickness afflicting the village of Al Urush, close to the company's oil-processing facility, or watch Abdulkader, his driver and close friend, die. 
As the country descends into civil war and village children start dying, Clay finds himself caught up in a ruthless struggle between opposing armies, controllers of the country's oil wealth, Yemen's shadowy secret service, and rival terrorist factions. 
As Clay scrambles to keep his friend alive, he meets Rania, a troubled journalist. Together, they try to uncover the truth about Al Urush. But nothing in this ancient, unforgiving place is as it seems. Accused of a murder he did not commit, put on the CIA's most-wanted list, Clay must come to terms with his past and confront the powerful forces that want him dead. 
A stunning debut eco-thriller, The Abrupt Physics of Dying is largely based on true events. Gritty, gripping and shocking, this book will not only open your eyes but keep them glued to the page until the final, stunning denouement is reached.

Welcome to the BLOG TOUR for The Abrupt Physics of Dying by Paul E Hardisty which is published on 8 March in ebook and paperback by Orenda Books.

I was delighted to take part in this blog tour, and thrilled to support Karen in her exciting new venture that is Orenda Books. The Abrupt Physics of Dying is quite a way from my usual type of read, and if I'm honest, I was a little apprehensive about reading it. Without wanting to sound sexist or stereotypical, I did think that this was going to be a 'blokes' book. I am happy to have been proved wrong, this is a story that opens with a bang and keeps the reader engaged and on the edge of their seat throughout.   

Orenda Books have given me two copies of The Abrupt Physics of Dying to give away, entry is simple, just complete the Rafflecopter widget at the bottom of this post.

For me, one of the best and most exciting things about reading so many books is that I learn so much, and travel with the author to so many new places, and The Abrupt Physics of Dying certainly taught me a hell of a lot and took me on an adventure to places that I'd never read about before.

Clay, the lead character is something of a maverick. I envisaged a craggy faced, yet handsome guy whose experiences are etched on his face. He takes risks and is daring, he is flawed yet confident and determined.

The action is set in the Yemen and the author evokes such a sense of place with his writing that I felt as though I'd been there and experienced the culture, it is clear that the author has himself spent time there, his descriptions are enticing and exotic, yet startling realistic.

The Abrupt Physics of Dying is a tense thriller, the violence and corruption is vividly portrayed, yet there is nothing in the story that shouldn't be there.  Clay and his supporting cast of characters don't get away with everything either, this is certainly no James Bond style lead character, in fact he suffers just as much, if not more than his enemies.

If you enjoy a story that is well-written with a plot that twists and turns, and leads you astray, then I'd recommend this. If you want a hero that is a little bit unusual, with his own issues, but is determined and so well created, then I'd recommend this. If you want a complex and intelligent thriller, then I'd really really recommend this. Don't be scared, take the plunge, this is a fine novel, with thrills and excitement throughout.

Canadian by birth, Paul Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and Director of Australia’s national land, water, ecosystems and climate adaptation research programmes. He is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia with his family.
Follow him on Twitter @Hardisty_Paul and check out his website.

Orenda Books was launched in October 2014 by Karen Sullivan with a small, “exciting” list of commercial literary fiction
Orenda Books signed three début novels, including David F Ross’ The Last Days of Disco, which Sullivan said will draw comparison with Roddy Doyle and Irvine Welsh.
The publisher also signed world English rights for The Abrupt Physics of Dying, a “riveting, topical eco-thriller set in Yemen” by Canadian–Australian author Paul Hardisty, which was signed from Broo Doherty at DHH Literary Agency.
Sullivan has also negotiated British Commonwealth rights with David Headley at DHH Literary Agency and Monica Gram at Leonhardt & Høier Literary Agency A/S for Icelandic crime writer Ragnar Jónasson’s atmospheric, gritty début thriller Snowblind, and a second title, Dark Night (Bjartur Veröld). It will be author Jónasson’s first publication in English.
Karen Sullivan said: “There is always a market for readable, good-quality literature, and I plan to focus on literary crime/thrillers and books that have personal resonance. Translated fiction is definitely high on my wish list, as there is undoubtedly a wealth of undiscovered literature out there.”
For more information, check out the Orenda website
Find them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @OrendaBooks

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Tuesday, 24 February 2015

A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale

To find yourself, sometimes you must lose everything.
A privileged elder son, and stammeringly shy, Harry Cane has followed convention at every step. Even the beginnings of an illicit, dangerous affair do little to shake the foundations of his muted existence - until the shock of discovery and the threat of arrest cost him everything.
Forced to abandon his wife and child, Harry signs up for emigration to the newly colonised Canadian prairies. Remote and unforgiving, his allotted homestead in a place called Winter is a world away from the golden suburbs of turn-of-the-century Edwardian England. And yet it is here, isolated in a seemingly harsh landscape, under the threat of war, madness and an evil man of undeniable magnetism that the fight for survival will reveal in Harry an inner strength and capacity for love beyond anything he has ever known before.
In this exquisite journey of self-discovery, loosely based on a real life family mystery, Patrick Gale has created an epic, intimate human drama, both brutal and breathtaking. It is a novel of secrets, sexuality and, ultimately, of great love.

A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale will be published by Tinder Press on 26 March 2015 in hardback, the paperback release will follow in September.

Fans of Patrick Gale may be surprised to find that he has written this novel, for A Place Called Winter is historical and set, for the main part of the story, far away from his usual English locations, in the wild, dangerous newly-discovered farmlands of Canada.

From the opening pages, when we are introduced to the lead character; Harry Cane, through to the very last page, I was totally immersed by the story, the characters and the location. I wanted to read the whole story in one sitting, but instead, it took me longer than usual to finish this outstanding and quite breathtaking novel. Why did it take so long?  Two reasons; the first was that I actually rationed myself. It is very rare that I say that I don't want a book to end, but this this one of those rarities, the writing swept me away, the story haunted me. The second reason for my slow reading was that there were times when I just had to put it aside, for despite the tremendous writing and the captivating story, there were times when I found the plot so heartbreaking and so emotionally tiring that I had to give myself a break.

Harry Cane has led a fairly privileged, if uneventful life. The son of a self-made man, he inherited his father's wealth, and apart from his determination to ensure that his younger, and brighter, and more ambitious brother Jack is comfortable, Harry has no life plans of his own. He spends most days reading the newspapers, lunching at his club and taking baths at the local spa. It is down to Jack, and his socialable personality that Harry meets and marries his wife Winnie. Theirs is not a conventional marriage grounded in love, but more of a convenience for both of them. They are, however, happy in their own way and Winnie gives birth to their daughter.

Harry is vulnerable and confused and after a scandal hits the family, he finds himself exiled to Canada, penniless and forced to use his hands to work for the first time in his life.

The opening pages of the novel finds Harry as a patient in a psychiatric hospital before being transferred to an experimental community where he becomes a subject of a forward-thinking Doctor. When Harry undergoes hypnotic therapy, the reader travels with him and the reasons for his incarceration are revealed.

A Placed Called Winter is emotive and beautiful. Patrick Gale is a genius story teller, he has created one of the most stunning and moving novels that I have read in many many years. His sense of timing, his ability to create a setting that engulfs the reader is a triumph. The story deals with serious issues, with social injustices, with hardship and with also with triumph.

This novel is not all hearts and flowers by any means. The reader encounters violence; there are rapes there is a murder, there is pain and there is suffering. There are also themes of friendship and determination and huge loyalties.

So, I hope that I've encouraged people to go out and pre-order this book, I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed.  A Place Called Winter is a story to adore and to cherish and to shout about.

Huge thanks to Georgina Moore from Headline who continues to feed my ever growing hunger with her startling selection of titles.

Patrick Gale was born on the Isle of Wight. He spent his infancy at Wandsworth Prison, which his father governed, then grew up in Winchester before going to Oxford University.  He now lives on a farm near Land’s End. One of this country’s best-loved novelists, his most recent works are A Perfectly Good Man, The Whole Day Through and the Richard and Judy bestseller Notes From An Exhibition.

For more information, visit his website
Find him on Facebook       Follow him on Twitter @PNovelistGale

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Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Temporary Bride by Jennifer Klinec

In her thirties, Jennifer Klinec abandons a corporate job to launch a cooking school from her London flat. Raised in Canada to Hungarian-Croatian parents, she has already travelled to countries most people are fearful of, in search of ancient recipes. Her quest leads her to Iran where, hair discreetly covered and eyes modest, she is introduced to a local woman who will teach her the secrets of the Persian kitchen.
Vahid, her son, is suspicious of the strange foreigner who turns up in his mother's kitchen; he is unused to seeing an independent woman. But a compelling attraction pulls them together and then pits them against harsh Iranian laws and customs.
Getting under the skin of one of the most complex and fascinating nations on earth, The Temporary Bride is a soaring story of being loved, being fed, and the struggle to belong.

The Temporary Bride by Jennifer Klinec was published by Virago in September 2014.

Books and food are my main loves, and anything that combines the two has to be a winner for me. to combine these with adventures in an exotic, far-away setting adds more to the allure of a book, so, for me, The Temporary Bride was impossible to resist.

Jennifer Klinec has led an unusual life. She spent much of her childhood being ignored by her wealthy parents who led busy lives. Although Jennifer wanted to spend time with her mother in the kitchen, her earliest memories are of her being chased out of the room whilst her mother prepared the meals. Her parents were not intentionally cruel, and Jennifer used their attitude to their advantage. She travelled the world, organising her own schooling and her lodgings herself, she went where she wanted to go, and these experiences shaped her and strengthened her character.

Back in London, Jennifer had a successful career in the City. Having spent time collecting recipes and trying all sorts of different foods in many different parts of the world, Jennifer decided to open a small cookery school in her little flat in London. Whilst this was a success, and her customers enjoyed learning new skills, Jennifer still had the bug. She wanted to discover more cookery methods, from places that women didn't travel to.

Iran. A country so very different to anything that Jennifer had experienced. Where women cover their heads and spend their days cooking the traditional foods. Where women wear make up and style their hair and wear fashionable clothes .... but only within the safety of their own family, and never outdoors. Iran, where the authorities and the Police can stop and question anyone, where bribery and corruption is rife. Iran, the place that Jennifer yearned to visit.

Having managed to find a family that would allow her to cook with them, Jennifer was delighted to learn about Iranian food, and culture. The son of the house, Vahid, was initially suspicious of Jennifer, he was rude and arrogant, but it becomes clear that he is also intrigued by her. Here is a woman who is independent, who is well travelled and intelligent, and is also attractive.  As Jennifer and Vahid spend more time together they grow closer, and this is where her story becomes more of an adventure.

Jennifer Klinec writes wonderfully, her love for food, her descriptions of some ingredients that should really turn the stomach are made delicious with her use of words. The reader is transported to the back streets of Iranian towns and cities, to the small family-run cafes that serve wonderfully rich and spicy food to local people.

The complexity of life in Iran is clear and fascinating, the daily struggles, especially for women are described in full, with authority and with compassion, and sometimes with exasperation and a little anger. The emerging love story between Jennifer and Vahid grows slowly, yet only takes place over four weeks.

I enjoyed The Temporary Bride, I enjoyed the writing and I enjoyed seeing and experiencing life in Iran. The culture, the towns, the fear, the ignorance and most of all, the food. Jennifer Klinec is a fine writer who has written a heart-warming and vivid story of food and of love.

My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review.

Jennifer Klinec was born and grew up in Canada in the most East European of families. Always craving autonomy and adventure, she left Canada at 16 for Europe. By the time she moved to the UK at 23 she had already lived in 5 countries and spoke 3 languages.

She opened a cooking school out of her loft apartment which Time Out named ‘The hippest, most authentic cooking school in London’ and travels to countries most people are fearful of, in search of ancient recipes and delicious things to eat.

Klinec’s work explores what it is like to be pulled into a foreign country and have your entire life flipped upside down. Through the lens of food and romance, she explores the search for belonging, the necessity of trust, and the collisions and misunderstandings between Western and Islamic cultures. She takes us behind the closed doors of Iran, one of the most contradictory and misunderstood nations on earth.

The Temporary Bride is her first book. 

For more information about the author, visit her website
Follow her on Twitter @JenniferKlinec

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Friday, 20 February 2015

The Secrets We Share by Emma Hannigan

Clara Conway is a woman with secrets.
But consequently Clara's family is in the process of falling apart. Her son Max emigrated to the US with his young family years ago and she has yet to meet her teenage granddaughter, Nathalie ... because Max and his mother no longer speak.
Meanwhile Clara's daughter  Ava is fighting to find a little happiness and when Clara unexpectedly reaches out to Nathalie and her niece comes to visit, her thoughts turn to Max, the brother she loved and lost. The brother whose abrupt disappearance left the Conway family heartbroken.
Can Nathalie's time with her grandmother start to right some very old wrongs? And can Clara find a way to reach out to Max and thereby begin to heal the whole family once more?
After all, some secrets are meant to be shared ...

The Secrets We Share by Emma Hannigan is published by Headline on 9 April 2015 and is the author's ninth novel.

I really enjoy fiction written by Irish women authors, I am a huge fan of Marian Keyes, Patricia Scanlan, Sheila O Flanagan, Anna McPartlin, and there are many many more. I've no idea how I've missed Emma Hannigan's writing in the past, but I'm delighted that I've discovered her through this wonderful novel and I'm quite excited that there are another eight of her books out there for me to read.

The Secrets We Share is the story of a family, and is led by Clara Conway. Clara is eighty, she's been a successful business woman, a devoted wife and a loving mother. Her family have had their problems over the years, and Clara decides that it's time to finally lay things to rest.

Clara's son Max left home over twenty years ago and has never returned. His sister Ava is a troubled, unhappy woman who exudes style and glamour on the outside, but inside she is battling with many demons. Ava was hurt dreadfully when Max left, and finds it difficult to forgive him for the heartbreak his departure caused.

When Clara tracks down Max and his family in America and discovers that she has a seventeen-year-old grand daughter Nathalie, she becomes determined to heal the rifts that have torn apart her family.

Nathalie herself is troubled; she is grieving and confused, and the last thing she expected was to hear from a grandmother who she thought had died many years before. Nor does she want to travel from stylish LA to some back street town in rural Ireland. Despite her fears and her objections, Nathalie arrives at her grandmother's house, and she and Clara start to get to know each other.

Nathalie does not just find her living relatives, she also uncovers secrets from Clara's past. Secrets that have been hidden for many years and that have shaped this family, and caused the rift.

I become totally engrossed in this story which on the face of it appears to be a fairly light read, and whilst it is a very easy read, the author deals with some hard-hitting and sensitive issues, giving the story a depth that I really did not expect.

Emma Hannigan's writing is warm and sincere, she loosely based the plot of The Secrets We Share on her own family history, and the realism and authenticity of her story shines through.

The characters who populate the story are wonderful; Clara is wise, yet sad, she knows that she has made mistakes over the years, and that her actions have caused harm, yet she has learned from this and is determined to make things right. She is quirky and funny and a little bit over the top. Clara's daughter Ava was possibly my favourite character; a complex woman who has hidden depths that she hides from everyone, even herself. Ava stumbles from one disaster to another, never learning and dogged in her desire never to be hurt again. Nathalie is bright and enquiring, she is sad and confused, but has inherited her grandmother's wise ways.

The Secrets We Share is emotional, endearing and very enjoyable. Emma Hannigan is a gifted storyteller. I enjoyed this story so very much.

My thanks to Lovereading who sent my copy for review.

Emma Hannigan is the author of nine bestselling novels including Keeping Mum and a bestelling memoir, Talk to the Headscarf which charted her journey through cancer. 

Emma lives in Bray, Ireland, with her husband and two children.

For more about Emma, visit her website or follow her on Twitter @MsEmmaHannigan.

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Thursday, 19 February 2015

Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

In May 1980, 15-year-old Oscar Drai suddenly vanishes from his boarding school in the old quarter of Barcelona. For seven days and nights no one knows his whereabouts...
His story begins in the heart of old Barcelona, when he meets Marina and her father German Blau, a portrait painter. Marina takes Oscar to a cemetery to watch a macabre ritual that occurs on the fourth Sunday of each month. At 10 a.m. precisely a coach pulled by black horses appears. From it descends a woman dressed in black, her face shrouded, wearing gloves, holding a single rose. She walks over to a gravestone that bears no name, only the mysterious emblem of a black butterfly with open wings.
When Oscar and Marina decide to follow her they begin a journey that will take them to the heights of a forgotten, post-war Barcelona, a world of aristocrats and actresses, inventors and tycoons; and a dark secret that lies waiting in the mysterious labyrinth beneath the city streets.

Marina is the fourth and last of Carlos Ruiz Zafon's novels for Young Adults and was written in 1997. Marina is translated to English by Lucia Graves and was published in paperback by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in the UK on 12 February 2015.

The Shadow of the Wind trilogy by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a huge favourite of mine, my beautiful hardback copies take pride of place on my bookshelf and I was delighted to find that Marina is set in the familiar surroundings of Barcelona.

Fifteen-year-old Oscar is a boarder at a school in Barcelona and enjoys his illicit wanderings through the beautiful city, He loves to discover the winding side streets, the small parks, the beautiful buildings. One day Oscar happens upon a house he has not seen before, and it is there that he meets Marina. Marina and her German father live a strange and solitary life in their almost derelict, but fascinating house. Oscar is bewitched by them, and by Marina especially.

When Oscar and Marina follow a mysterious woman from the nearby cemetery, they have no idea what they are letting themselves in for. This is just the beginning of their journey.

Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a master of gothic creepiness which touches on horror. He can create places and scenes that leap from the page and engulf the reader. His descriptions of Barcelona and it's inhabitants are wonderful, and coupled with a tense and exciting storyline, this really is the perfect read.

Marina is a graceful, suspenseful, characterful story that will thrill existing fans and tempt new ones.

My thanks to Leanne at Orion who sent my copy for review.

Carlos Ruiz Zaf?n is the author of six novels, including the international phenomenon The Shadow of the Wind, and The Angel's Game. 

His work has been published in more than forty different languages, and honoured with numerous international awards. 

He divides his time between Barcelona, Spain, and Los Angeles, California.

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Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Satans & Shaitans by Obinna Udenwe

Set against the backdrop of Nigeria's ongoing terrorism tensions, Satans and Shaitans tells the story of two powerful men, Chief Donald Amechi and world acclaimed televangelist, Chris Chuba, both members of an internationally renowned occult, the Sacred Order of the Universal Forces. 
Members of the occult from Southern Nigeria, desperate to gain control of their country, deceive an Islamic terrorist organisation into carrying out attacks in order to undermine and overrule the Nigerian President. 
This powerful story is one of morality, choices and consequence. 

Satans & Shaitans by Obinna Udenwe was published on 27 November 2014 by Jacaranda Books.

This novel is so far away from my usual choice of story, it's a leap out of my comfort zone, yet the blurb on the back really tempted me. I knew that I was in for a challenge, but I was determined that I wanted to read this one. I have always had a keen interest in other cultures and religions, and this story of terrorism, the occult and nationalism opens up a whole new world for me as a reader.

One of the most important elements of Satans & Shaitans is love. This is a love story, it is the story of two young people whose fathers are involved in the occult and whose desire for power in this turbulent country makes them terrorists.

Obinna Udenwe's writing is uncomplicated and simple to follow, the complexities of terror, jihad and culture within Nigeria are gently unfolded, and the reader is guided through these. There were times that I became confused, especially with the names, but his writing is very engaging, and I soon found my way back around the plot.

There is a lot going on in Satans & Shaitans; from murder to conspiracy theory, from love affair to undercover occult organisations, and whilst the writing flows easily, the plot is huge and the story covers lots of issues.

I am pleased that I read this story, and I feel that I know a little more about Nigeria, and the issues there, the author writes with authority and authenticity.

My thanks to Jazzmine from Jacaranda Books who sent my copy for review.

Obinna Udenwe is one of the most prolific young short story writers in Southern Nigeria. 
Born in Abakaliki to a political family, Obinna became politically active at a young age, leading Ebonyi State Children’s Parliament. 
In 2014 Obinna was named State Literary Icon and has been recognised for his services to youth development and democracy. 
He appears in various national and local Nigerian radio, TV and print media, and international blogs, on key issues such as terrorism, youth unemployment, entrepreneurship, children’s rights and governance. 
His stories have appeared in 2013 Stories Naija Anthology, The Short Story is Dead, Long Live the Short Story and Dreams at Dawn. He has also written for several literary magazines, including The Kalahari Review, Tribe-write, Flair Magazine, Brittle Paper, Outside in Literary & Travel Magazine, ANA Review, and more

Follow him on Twitter @udenweobinna   
Find out more on his blog

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