Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New book on the Shelves #Fiction – Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg

Delighted to welcome a new author to the Cafe and Bookstore. Patricia Furstenberg with her books for both adults and children. Her featured novel today is her latest release on July 9th, Silent Heroes set in Afghanistan were families, troops serving their country and service dogs, face daily dangers.

N.B.. The book will be free for one day only on Sunday July 28th on Amazon

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.”

Head over and buy the book:

And on Amazon UK:

A small selection of books by Patricia Furstenberg

One of the recent reviews for Joyful Trouble on Goodreads

Mar 17, 2019 Jessie Cahalin rated it it was amazing and Five Stars.

I jumped aboard a fast paced, fun story and travelled back to my childhood. The Great Dane, Joyful Trouble, didn’t need a ticket and neither did I, but I packed plenty of imagination. Like Ana and Tommy, I sat beside my grandfather and listened to the ‘dog–faring tale’. I snuggled into my armchair: luxuriated in the heart-warming story, packed up my troubles and followed ‘the special dog’ called Joyful Trouble. I was placed in the ‘middle of the action’ with the ‘very clever dog’.

Read the reviews and buy the books:

And on Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Patricia on Goodreads:

About Patricia

Patricia Furstenberg is a multi-genre author, poetess and mother. With a medical degree behind her, Patricia is passionate about history, art, dogs and the human mind. “Silent Heroes” is her 13th book and her first contemporary fiction novel. So far Patricia wrote historical fiction, poetry and children’s books. All her books have one common denominator, dogs.

What fuels her is her fascination with words and coffee. She is the author of the bestseller Joyful Trouble and a prolific writer working on her next novel already, a historical fiction. Will it feature a dog as well? Only tme will tell. Patricia lives happily with her husband, children and dogs in sunny South Africa.

Connect to Patricia.

Author Blog:

Thank you for dropping in today and please leave your comments for Patricia and share the news of her latest book.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Sitting Special – Afghan Ceilidh by Mary Smith


It is lovely to welcome Mary Smith as a Blog Sitter today, whilst I am probably recovering from a hectic schedule here in Portsmouth.. I know that the blog is in very capable hands. Today Mary is sharing a photograph from her time in Afghanistan and which holds great meaning for her.

Mary Smith - web ready

About Mary Smith

Mary Smith has always loved writing. As a child she wrote stories in homemade books made from wallpaper trimmings – but she never thought people could grow up and become real writers. She spent a year working in a bank, which she hated – all numbers, very few words – ten years with Oxfam in the UK, followed by ten years working in Pakistan and Afghanistan. She longed to allow others to share her amazing, life-changing experiences so she wrote about them – fiction, non-fiction, poetry and journalism. And she discovered the little girl who wrote stories had become a real writer after all.
Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women is an account of her time in Afghanistan and her debut novel No More Mulberries is also set in Afghanistan.

Afghan Ceilidh by Mary Smith


Of all the many photos I brought home from my years working in Afghanistan, this is one of my favourites. I call it Afghan Ceilidh.

Though nowadays a ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee) is often a night of (sometimes wild) Scottish dancing, traditionally, it was an informal social gathering in someone’s house. Whenever and wherever a group of Scots folk came together in an evening, songs and storytelling, especially after a few drams had been taken was inevitable. An Afghan ceilidh is exactly the same, though instead of whisky, tea is drunk.

This photo was taken on one such occasion and when I look at it, memories flood back. On the left of the photo, Tajwar’s sewing machine has pride of place on top of the family’s tin storage trunks. When she sewed, she placed it on the floor and complained loudly about how much her back ached. We sit on toshak (mattress) arranged around the room on the Afghan rug. On the right of the photo I’m leaning on a bundle containing bedding. At bedtime, the mattresses are re-arranged and blankets – imported, colourful blankets emblazoned with peacocks – are distributed. The thermos, one of many, contains black tea.

The children love these occasions and have a wide range of games they play. The littler girls dance and sing songs. The bigger ones, like the one with the gleaming smile in the centre, might start to dance but then be overcome by shyness, giggle and sit down. A favourite game of the boys is cor-jangi (blind fighting). Two boys are each blindfolded and kneel facing each other. Each is provided with a rolled up patou (a man’s heavy wool shawl) with which each tries to wallop the other, but must, all the time, keep hold of a cushion in one hand.

If you think the woman sitting below the sewing machine and the other to the right of her don’t look happy you’d be right. They are terrified of the ‘devil’ wearing the mask – with a cushion stuffed up his jumper. I was always astonished at how fearful they became during this game even though the boy was a family member. He comes in, usually when the lamps are burning low, and adopting a hoarse voice ask if anyone has seen ‘Deyo’. The bigger children give cheeky replies but the smaller ones and some of the women pull back in fear. Later, they laugh – shamefaced – but still not wholly convinced there was nothing to fear out there in the dark.

I look at this photo and remember stories and songs, silly games and so much laughter – and so much black tea. We drank gallons of it so I always had to make a couple of trips out in the dark to the latrine later in the night. I look at my son – my filthy son – sitting on my lap and think of the freedom he had as a small child roaming the mountain with the boys herding the sheep and goats, coming home when hungry. I remember friendship and the joy of being accepted.

Afghan ceilidh

At an Afghan ceilidh
instead of whisky
we drink tea, black, no sugar
from small Russian glasses,
eat dry roasted ‘baqale’ –
spit their slipped-off skins
on the floor ‘til the rug’s
rich reds are covered
by a new carpet of greenish grey.

A hurricane lamp’s pool of light
projects small girls’ dancing shadows
on bare mud walls.
Songs, stories, laughter ripples
while outside is black dark silent.

(baqale – broad beans)

©MarySmith 2017

About No More Mulberries


Scottish-born midwife, Miriam loves her work at a health clinic in rural Afghanistan and the warmth and humour of her women friends in the village, but she can no longer ignore the cracks appearing in her marriage. Her doctor husband has changed from the loving, easy-going man she married and she fears he regrets taking on a widow with a young son, who seems determined to remain distant from his stepfather.

When Miriam acts as translator at a medical teaching camp she hopes time apart might help her understand the cause of their problems. Instead, she must focus on helping women desperate for medical care and has little time to think about her failing marriage. When an old friend appears, urging her to visit the village where she and her first husband had been so happy. Miriam finds herself travelling on a journey into her past, searching for answers to why her marriage is going so horribly wrong.

Her husband, too, has a past of his own – from being shunned as a child to the loss of his first love.

Just one of 132 reviews for the book

At first, what struck me most about this highly descriptive, lyrically written, “No More Mulberries,” was the author’s ability to completely transport me back to the faraway country of 1990s Afghanistan, not only geographically, but also culturally, and ideologically. It’s a country where ‘saving face’ is the order of the day, where its population is rapidly falling victim to the Taliban, and where primitive beliefs are so pervasive, that a child with leprosy is almost drowned by his father, in order to ‘kill’ the disease. In addition, Smith shows us––through the eyes of the ‘outsider’ widow Miriam from Scotland, her second Afghani husband, and their children––that there’s another side to this land; how the people are so gracious and hospitable that offering one’s home and food to strangers is a given, and not accepting a dinner invitation is tantamount to receiving a slap in the face.

But ultimately, what held me captive was the slow, unwinding mystery being played out of how Miriam’s first husband died, and what brought her to her second husband. Although the clash of cultures is often painful, confusing, and palpable, Smith confirms that in the end, no matter where we’re from, no matter the hardships in where we’ve landed, if we are truly willing to be honest with ourselves, the rest will undoubtedly fall into place. Definitely recommend!

Also by Mary Smith

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Read all the reviews and buy the books:

Connect to Mary via her website:

My thanks to Mary for sharing this very special time spent with her friends that she made when working in Afghanistan.. Please show your appreiciation by sharing far and wide. Thanks Sally