Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – #Reviews – #Afghanistan Patricia Furstenberg, #Fantasy Kevin Cooper, #Midlife #Romance Sally Cronin

Welcome to the Friday edition of the Cafe and Bookstore with recent reviews for the authors on the shelves.

The first author with a recent review is Patricia Furstenberg for her novel set in Afghanistan, Silent Heroes.

About Silent Heroes

Silent Heroes’ is a highly emotional read, action-packed, a vivid story of enormous sacrifice and bravery.

*’Silent Heroes’ is the ideal read for the fans of ‘The Kite Runner’ and ‘Dear John’!*

When Talibans descends in the village of Nauzad and discover girls can read, a woman accepts the blame and is killed on the spot for breaking the Islam law. Her teenage daughter witnesses the sacrifice and swears revenge, her life and that of her brother becoming intertwined with those of the US Marines serving at FOB Day nearby. But the Taliban is infiltrated everywhere and friends or foes are hard to differentiate. The U.S. Marines fight with bravery to protect the civilians of Nauzad and to fend off the Taliban at Qala-e-Bost, thus protecting Bost Airport, a vital strategic point for the allies. Faced with questions about the necessity of the war, with the trauma of losing their platoon-mates and the emotional scars of battle, the US Marines race against time in one last battle of eradicating the Taliban before it is too late.

The War in Afghanistan is a contemporary, vitally important conflict whose meaning needs to be understood by the public worldwide. ‘Silent Heroes’ is a narrative about the value of life and the necessity of combat; the terror of dying; the ordeal of seeing your loved ones and your platoon-mates killed in front of your eyes; the trauma of taking a human life.

Read about very well trained MWDs, military working dogs, capable of detecting the smallest traces of explosives, working in the extreme weather condition environments, under the stressful battlefield situations that is the War in Afghanistan.

Smart and agile, at the end of the day what these dogs are looking forward to is the close bond they developed with their handlers, which call themselves the dog’s partners, brothers, daddies.

From the storyteller of the Bestseller “Joyful Trouble” comes a riveting, fictional account inspired by the War in Afghanistan, a battle that spanned centuries and has affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.

“Light, knowledge, they bring the courage to look at the people around us, accepting them for what they are.”

“Do you ever think that history speaks of victors and captors, of battles and soldiers whose lives have been lost and history even counts them, but of the casualties on the civilian side?”

“When soldiers grieve, time takes a screenshot and a new star rises in the sky.”

One of the recent reviews for the book

Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting For is a 2019 contemporary fiction release by Patricia Furstenberg. I became familiar with this author and book through the blogging world, and in my quest to add more realistic, literary fiction focusing on cultures around the world to my reading queue this year, I decided to pick it up this week. While not my normal reading genre, this novel is filled with awareness, heart, sadness, confusion, and pain — people suffer, but sometimes, a little good can come out of it.

Early in the book, we learn of a woman who dies because she taught others how to read and write. She is tricked / forced into doing something against her Islamic religious beliefs, but if she doesn’t, the Taliban might kill her. Ultimately, they were going to kill her any way, as a lesson to others. She should never have been placed in such a position, but that’s what evil people do. Regardless of beliefs, no one wants to kill another. Ugh, what suffering these people have been through… but this sets the tone for the story. It is not an easy one to digest, yet when you know this is as close to reality as you’ll ever get, and probably quite on par with things people experience in Afghanistan every day, it becomes even harder to accept. Life is cruel. Can one Eternal God or Deity or Allah truly allow all this massacre? Furstenberg explores this gem of an idea (reality) in her tale, and it’s quite visceral and powerful.

In a more positive and tangible scene (to me), a man roams the dessert searching for IEDs with his beloved military dog. A young boy is trapped on one, afraid to move, or he will explode. He asks, how can the US let this happen to us? They are standing there every day, yet they do nothing. The question, though hard to accept at face value, is a valid one. Through her characters and story, the author pushes her readers to think about a world possibly so distant from our lives, it cannot be understood unless you’ve experienced it in person. The descriptions of places and people are wonderful and heartbreaking — I felt like I was there checking for the explosive, watching the pain during multiple deaths around the dessert, worrying about children and parents who were lost.

This is the kind of book that makes you wonder about your place in the world. Though the tale is mostly fiction, it is based on many real experiences and knowledge. I’m in awe of how well researched this book was… Furstenberg has included such minute details (in a good way) that she must’ve spent hours crafting the specific word choice in order to convey exactly what goes on halfway around the globe, to someone removed like me. What I liked most about this novel is the history lesson Furstenberg provides, interwoven throughout the meat of the story. Sometimes the narrator is telling us how the Taliban formed. Other times, one character is relaying to another (both to Afghans and to US soldiers) what truly has happened over the years to cause the rifts, e.g. between the USSR and British influence in the area.

If you want a creative, informative, emotional, and intriguing story about the conflicts and drama people face day to day in Afghanistan, as well as connect with characters who have to kill and love all within the same few moments, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this novel. The writing is wonderful, and even though the topic is one I’m not often a frequent reader of (too realistic to handle sometimes for me), it brilliantly shows off the author’s talents and the harshness of our world. Great book to experience something different than a traditional suspense or mystery read. Quite literary. Quite recommended by me.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

A small selection of other books (some in Afrikaans) by Patricia Furstenberg

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Patricia: Goodreads

Connect to Patricia via her blog: Alluring Creations

The next review is for Kevin Cooper for his epic fantasy The Wizard, The Girl, and The Unicorn’s Horn: The Chronicles of Geo Book One


About the book

This epic fantasy tale of magic, mystery and adventure takes us to the land of Geo, where, the wizard’s most challenging quest is to free the people of Geo and defeat the evil shadow. But, he is not powerful enough to face the shadow alone…

Surrounded by hordes of demon wargs and the might of the shadow, the fate of the land of Geo and its people is left in the hands of an old wizard, a ragtag bunch of goblins, a small band of trolls and a little girl who is the bearer of The Unicorn’s Horn.

A recent review for the book

An ancient evil power is encroaching on the world of Geo, blanketing the land in shadow and stealing villagers. The story tracks the daring adventures of three groups, two off to destroy the shadow, and one simply trying to survive. They all ultimately come together for a final battle.

One narrative follows the wizard, the protector of Geo. He joins with some rambunctious goblins who lead him through the mountain’s tunnels to Land’s End, the barren home of the shadow and its packs of demon wargs (wolf-like creatures). At the same time, Elyysa, a young girl with a magical past, allies with Geo’s wise trolls who collect tolls at the many bridges. She too heads for Land’s End and carries with her a powerful unicorn horn. The third narrative focuses on the villagers who find themselves swept up by the shadow and stranded in a cave. They must make their way through dangerous passageways to the surface.

The story is simply told with a steady pace and vocabulary that a middle-grade student would be able to handle … but there is quite a bit of tragedy in the caves, including the deaths of children and families, and significant violence during the warg attacks. For these reasons, I’d steer this read to mature middle-graders, preteens, and young teenagers who enjoy a fantastical tale of adventure and can deal with the scary and sad moments. (My 7-year-old grandson couldn’t handle it, but grammy enjoyed it!)

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by Kevin Cooper

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

More reviews and follow Kevin: Goodreads

Connect to Kevin via his blog: Author Kevin Cooper

And finally I would like to share a recent review for my first novel Just an Odd Job Girl.

Just an Odd Job Girl cover

Imogen was fifty!

Life is unpredictable and will often throw you a curve ball that knocks you out of the park.

For Imogen this curve ball knocked her out of a twenty five year marriage and a lovingly renovated home into a single life at age 50. She had been a very contented wife and mother of two children, who for every one of those 25 years had thought her husband had been equally as happy. It was a shock to find out that she had been delusional and replaced so easily.

Her confidence was non-existent. She had forgotten any skills she possessed and was totally unprepared to enter the modern job market. Or so she thought.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Sally Cronin has written a delightful book with Just an Odd Job Girl. The central character, Imogen, is most likable and must return to the workforce after her husband, Peter, falls for a much younger woman. At age fifty, Imogen has not only lost her husband but faces the reality that she must find a job after more than two decades. What Imogen has going for her is a rich and varied employment history from when she first became employed at age fourteen.

What follows is extreme hilarity as Cronin skillfully recaps all of Imogen’s unexpected employment adventures. From chasing after shoplifters to unexpectedly filling in as a dental assistant when the regular hygenist faints, there are plenty of laughs. Every employment opportunity forces Imogen to acquire new skills with the most entertaining stint as a hotel assistant manager. Along the way, Imogen realizes that she can tackle any problem or situation that life throws her way. The ending is most satisfying, but I don’t want to spoil that for you.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

A selection of my other books

Read the reviews and buy the books:Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: Goodreads

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books under your arm….more reviews for authors in the Cafe and Bookstore on Monday. Thanks Sally.

24 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – #Reviews – #Afghanistan Patricia Furstenberg, #Fantasy Kevin Cooper, #Midlife #Romance Sally Cronin

  1. Oh, Sally, thank you so much for this!
    And I am happy to be called on stage with you and Kevin 🙂

    “The Wizard, the Girl and the Unicorn’s Horn” is such a sweet read, a book you want to hug. Both my teen daughter and I enjoyed it 🙂

    “Just an Odd Job Girl” was a treasure of a read and I am glad to have done it. I know in my heart that I will pick it up again in the future. I think we all need a little laugh and a friend such as Imogen in our lives, at least every once in a while.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – 9th to 15th February 2020 – Food, Music, Guest, New book releases, Book Reviews and Laughter. | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  3. I do wish people wouldn’t put such tempting reviews in my path! I’ve bought Patricia’s Kindle version which is a real bargain at 99p. I tried so hard to resist Sally’s but made the mistake of ‘Looking Inside’ on Amazon and I’ve had to buy that one too. I’m also passing on the details of Kevin’s book to two of my grandchildren…

    Liked by 2 people

I would be delighted to receive your feedback (by commenting, you agree to Wordpress collecting your name, email address and URL) Thanks Sally

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