Indie Author Spotlight – Jack Geurts “The Fire And The Forge”

I am extremely pleased to share this interview with you. I recently reviewed Jack’s novel, “The Fire And The Forge” and was completely blown away by how great it was. It has a permanent spot on my favorite books list. Jack’s insight and story telling will leave you mesmerized. I truly believe that Jack is a born story-teller and I can’t wait to devour every word he writes. I hope you enjoy the interview and grab a copy of the book for yourself. 

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Jack Geurts Author Pic

Jack Geurts is the author of The Fire and the Forge, first in an epic fantasy series about cruel gods pulling the strings of mortals and people wielding elemental magic. He lives on coffee and podcasts, and only leaves the house to walk his dog, Ruben. Currently, he’s hard at work on his next book. Keep up with all his latest books at JackGeurts.com

The Interview

Q: “The Fire And The Forge” is an amazing story. What are your hopes for the book?

Honestly, my hopes are just that it will reach as many readers as possible and that they’ll enjoy it as much as you have. There’s a lot of authors out there and a lot of other books people could be reading.

Q: In the world of “The Fire And The Forge”, a Blacksmith must earn his ‘iron’ before going out on his own. Can you explain this custom?

‘Earning one’s iron’ is a phrase I used in the book, but the concept dates back to the guilds of medieval Europe. Upon completing his apprenticeship, a young man would embark on what were known as his ‘journeyman’ years, where he would travel from place to place, earning day wages and gaining experience. Later, he would become a master craftsman himself and take on his own apprentice. This is more or less the plan for Imharak’s life until Alba is attacked.

Q: This world is comparable in some ways to the “Old Testament” and different Mythologies. What inspired you to bring this world to life?

I suppose I was tired of the medieval European setting that had become standard for epic fantasy. I wanted to see something different, and was always much more fascinated by ancient history than the Middle Ages.

So I created a world that borrowed from ancient Egypt, Israel, Carthage and Rome, rather than England or Scandinavia. I drew mainly from the Old Testament in terms of the Liberites themselves and their exodus from Kemet, but there’s also a lot of Homer’s Iliad in there, too. You’ll notice distinct similarities between the old pantheon of gods who are not really worshipped anymore with the Greek gods of Mt. Olympus. We’ll see more of that ancient Greek influence in Book #2.

Q: Authors often mention that their stories are either already in their head or the writer is a kind of vessel that the story flows from. How did this story come about for you?

Funnily enough, it started as a post-apocalyptic, sci-fi dystopia. It was all about a society that evolves in the wake of a nuclear holocaust – each tribe had a different elemental power based on the environment in which they lived (desert, sea etc.). But that concept was really all that stayed.

I guess the story, for me, felt like a natural culmination of all the things I loved most – ancient history, the setting of the Old Testament, movies like Gladiator and Braveheart and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I didn’t want to write historical fiction exactly, but fantasy allowed me to explore history with the freedom to change details to fit the story I wanted to tell. I’m sure I’ll get some people who are upset that I don’t have complex magic systems or other things that are common to the genre, but that wasn’t really what drew me to fantasy in the first place. Hopefully, that means I’ll be able to bring something new to the table.

First and foremost, I focus on the characters. I’m not really interested in doing multiple plot-lines – I find it hard to latch on to someone I really care about, and if I do, I find myself wishing I could just see the entire story from their point of view. That’s why I chose to keep The Fire and the Forge focused mainly on a small group of characters in a single narrative arc – follow them on their journey from one place to another, the conversations they have over campfires and the dangers they face together, the revelations they come to.

Q: Infernos seems less autocratic in personality than Caelos, do you think the society of Libera is reflected in the god they praise?

I think part of that might be because we don’t really see Infernos in this book. For that matter, we don’t really see the Kem or get a good insight into their way of thinking. All we really have to go on is Imharak’s interpretation of them.

However, I certainly think that Infernos could be less autocratic. He was banished to the underworld by Caelos, and is something of an underdog in this story. His patronage of the Kem could be seen – especially from their point of view – as ‘teaming up’ to take down the cruel tyrant that is Caelos. They certainly don’t think they’re the bad guys in the story.

With regards to Libera being reflected in the god they praise, I think you’ve really hit the nail on the head. Caelos is unyielding, jealous and has the capacity for terrible violence. The Liberites (or at least the ones we see in The Fire and the Forge) are very similar in the way they treat other peoples who may have different beliefs, and indeed, their own people who stray from the path.

Q: The Kem seem much different than the God Infernos who they seem to be tied to. What is the main driver for this divide?

For the Kem, the adoption of Infernos as their one and only god is a very recent thing, more recent than the Liberites adopting Caelos as their sole deity. They are, in many ways, still transitioning from a polytheistic state, and this is reflected in the blending of Infernos with their former chief deity, the sun god, Bast – a process known as syncretism.

There’s another reason for the Liberites potentially being more devout followers of Caelos than the Kem are of Infernos, but that will be explored in a later book…

Q: Imharak is torn between many allegiances. This sets him apart from society from the onset of the book. The intention was as punishment but could it also be the reasoned as an asset?

That’s a very interesting way to look at it. I, personally, believe that it is an asset. It allows Imharak to be critical and self-aware in a way very few others around him are. Being skeptical of his surroundings, of people and their gods, gives him an advantage over others who might be blinded by their faith and the way they think the world works. Because of this well-honed doubt – for lack of a better word – he is able to see the truth of things, even when the truth is unthinkable.

 Q: “The Fire And The Forge” is the first book in what is an ongoing series. Is there a planned amount of books?

There are four books planned at the time I’m writing this. I’m almost finished editing Book #2, which is called To Kill a King. It is due for release January 12th (it’s actually up for preorder now). Book #3 is called Queen of the Dead Lands and that will be out sometime around April/May.

The third instalment has been fully outlined, and while I’ve got a very definite idea about what Book #4 will be, I haven’t plotted it out yet. All I can say is that it will bring this particular series to an end, but there are other planned series in the universe, each drawing influence from certain, less-explored periods of history (think the rise of Islam in late antiquity, or the transition from hunter-gatherer tribes to cities in Central and South America).

 Q: Who in the story do you feel the deepest connection to?

Probably Gaius. I find him to be the most sympathetic and empathetic character in the book, a man who has done terrible things and who is trying desperately to forget, or redeem himself if he can. I know this probably isn’t how a lot of other writers do it, but when I envision a character, I’ll usually think of the actor I imagine playing them in the movie. It might be a hold-over from when I was studying screenplays before I turned to writing novels, but I always imagined Andre Braugher in the role. He has this careful deliberation and gravitas about him, a quiet power. Very eloquent, enunciating every syllable.

Q: If you could have any two powers, what would you choose and why?

Flight, without even thinking. I’ve always been very jealous of birds. Second to that would probably be some kind of regenerative ability – I’ve had a bad back for a few years now, which is kind of messing with my hips and knees, too. It’d be nice to get rid of that.

Q: If you were to identify with one of the many societies in your story, with whom would you belong?

Wow. The ancient world was such a brutal place, even just in daily life. I suppose if I had to pick one, it would be the Elladenes. We get a glimpse into their culture at the end when Longinus is playing his lyre and singing in the Elladene language. If the Liberites are influenced by the people of biblical-era Israel in the Old Testament, then the Elladenes more closely match the ancient Greeks. In the world of The Fire and the Forge, they’re perhaps the most progressive, advanced and tolerant society around. But more on them in Book #2…

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“Espionage London” John Day #BookReview

By late 1943, Hitler desperately needed a secret weapon to win WW2. Engineer & master spy Karl Strom devised a simple device that would bring Britain to its knees over night. 
This character driven story of intrigue and guile, love and revenge, tells of the suicide mission undertaken by 4 German spies. It will transport you back in time to the Channel Island of Alderney where they prepared and to the back streets of London, where they struggle to survive. 
Timing is everything in war, and a cruel twist of fate changes history. 

A super-intense John Day Thriller.

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   In “Espionage London”, John Day delivers a fast paced thriller that may as well be glued to your hands as you read. Prepare yourself for a wild ride accompanied by German spy’s with steel resolve. As the four spy’s face trial after trial, their plight will capture your imagination, your heart and get your adrenaline pumping. It’s not every day that you find yourself cheering on the bad guys.

   John Day has written from a perspective that is rarely used. Reading from the point of view of four German’s gives a very human face to a side of WW2 that few take the time to give credit for. Just for this insight, I am adding Mr. Day to my list of favorite authors. He’s taken a risk in writing this that few pursue and I thank him for it.

“She saw them and let out a loud and unfettered scream that tailed off to a wail of abject misery. Sinking slowly to the floor, she cried like never before.”

   It’s clear through the entire book that John Day has put his heart into every word. His characters are extremely well developed. Each trial they face is explored from multiple angles and thought provoking. It gives tribute to the saying “No one is fully evil. Nothing is as simple as black and white. We are all grey areas”.

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   After completing the story, I found myself very conflicted. This is high praise for an author. Think about the skill it takes to put such a human face on people who have for decades been portrayed as pure evil. After reading “Espionage London”, I feel that I have a deeper understanding of the plight of Germans and their motivations for fighting. That is not to say that I condone their actions or the murder of millions. For that reason, the German’s are complicit in an unthinkable evil.

“She decided he had the cold detachment of a venomous snake about to strike.”

   Being American, it took me a bit to fall into the different use of language, punctuation and spelling, but this didn’t take away from the brilliance of the story in the slightest. John Day is from the UK and it’s expected that he writes the way he does. To be honest, I actually prefer authors to write with their native version of English. It helps the reader with a worldview perspective as well as being fun to imagine the narration with an accent. Before you ask, I also added a German accent to the characters as well. John Day’s writing makes it easy to do this and it added another layer to the story that I greatly enjoyed.

“When face to face with your enemy, if you show fear, you’re done for”

John Day does a good job of tying up loose ends and serving up justice where justice is due. As Peter, (one of the main characters) so eloquently puts it…..Revenge is a dish best served cold. I greatly enjoyed his success in exacting that particular revenge. I literally gave a cheerfully loud “Hell yes!” after reading that passage. Some people deserve their fate and trust me on this, that particular person absolutely got what was coming to him. You’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when you read it.  

“Espionage London” is very quotable and filled with interesting insights. I thoroughly enjoyed reading and will be adding his other books to my TBR list.

5 stars!!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Espionage London – A WW2 Thriller | Series: N/A  |  Author(s): John Day  |Publisher: John Day / Self Published / Publication Date: 9-30-2017 |Pages: 379 (Print) |ISBN/ASIN: B07635MHM5 |Genre(s):  Action / Thriller / Suspense / Historical / Espionage |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 11-06-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

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John Day lives in the Channel Islands, on Alderney, in the Bailiwick of Guernsey. Much of what happens in Espionage – London takes place there.

Retired from his own businesses, building designer and accredited energy consultant about 10 years ago. He tends to spend much of the year travelling the world. He has a keen interest in photography and the Alderney Island Tourism marketing team use his photos in their publications and notice boards around the island. He is a qualified open water, wreck and cave diver. Many locations abroad and under water are used in his other books.

In the past, he has developed advanced software and has a detailed knowledge of electronics.

He holds the family crest with direct lineage back to King Charles 2nd.

 

 

 

WW2 Thriller “Espionage London” John Day

By late 1943, Hitler desperately needed a secret weapon to win WW2. Engineer & master spy Karl Strom devised a simple device that would bring Britain to its knees over night. 
  This character driven story of intrigue and guile, love and revenge, tells of the suicide mission undertaken by 4 German spies. It will transport you back in time to the Channel Island of Alderney where they prepared and to the back streets of London, where they struggle to survive. 
Timing is everything in war, and a cruel twist of fate changes history. 
A super-intense John Day Thriller.

Espionage London Cover

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“Great reading at a fast pace with believable characters. Great portrayal of human emotions and failings during a dangerous time. The story is exciting and full of spine tingling adventure along with romance and betrayal. It is set against the beauty of Alderney and the danger of the back streets of London.”  – Shirley McAllister (Amazon Review)

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John Day photo

John Day lives in the Channel Islands, on Alderney, in the Bailiwick of Guernsey. Much of what happens in Espionage – London takes place there.

Retired from his own businesses, building designer and accredited energy consultant about 10 years ago. He tends to spend much of the year travelling the world. He has a keen interest in photography and the Alderney Island Tourism marketing team use his photos in their publications and notice boards around the island. He is a qualified open water, wreck and cave diver. Many locations abroad and under water are used in his other books.

In the past, he has developed advanced software and has a detailed knowledge of electronics.

He holds the family crest with direct lineage back to King Charles 2nd.

Espionage London Cover

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“The Fire And The Forge” Jack Geurts – Book Review

Would you rather be the conquered or the conqueror?

In a world where gods pull the strings of mortals and people wield the power of the elements, the nation of Libera is attacked by its age-old enemy, the Kem, who lay waste to the land and its armies with their demonic powers of fire and steel.

Imharak, a blacksmith’s apprentice, is forced to leave his home town when it is raided and burned to the ground. 

Together with his master, Gaius, he flees into the wilderness, heading for Gaius’ brother, who is caught near a city that has just been conquered by the Kem.

What troubles Imharak is not so much the invasion, but the fact that he shares the same powers as the invaders, leading him to question where he came from.

He never knew his parents – he was raised as a Liberite and destined to be a common blacksmith. His powers had always made him an outcast, and now he starts to think he might have more in common with the conquerors than with the conquered.

Soon, Imharak will find his allegiances torn between both sides. As he and Gaius journey closer to the lion’s den, Imharak will discover who he really is and what he is capable of.

A bloody, harrowing adventure that takes its cues from ancient civilisations and mythologies, The Fire and the Forge is like no fantasy you’ve ever read.

While a lot of epic fantasy is set in a world resembling medieval Europe, The Fire and the Forge is influenced by ancient Mediterranean civilisations like Egypt, Israel, Carthage and Rome. 

It owes more to the world of the Old Testament and Mt. Olympus than the world of knights, wizards and castles.

You’ll find no elves, dwarves or goblins here. No dark lords, dragon-slayers or prophecies. 

You’ll find no good or evil, but only a grey sense of morality as people are forced to make life-or-death decisions in a harsh and brutal world.

From the very first sentence, this intimate, character-driven tale will dig its hooks into you and haul you along to the bitter end.

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Geurts delivers a compelling tale of the reluctant orphan who finds himself to be more than he could ever have imagined. Imharak’s place in the world is so much more than the sum of his bloodline. Finding himself in the midst of invasion, Imharak must discover which side of himself to align with. Will he be the conqueror or the conquered?

“The Fire And The Forge” is incredibly quotable. Geurts weaves life lessons like a true philosopher. Like Aesop, Geurts’ writing teach caution when caution is due and encourage a critical filter while disseminating information.

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Gaius, while not being blood related to Imharak, rears the boy with love and wisdom. Gaius’ past is never far from his thoughts and he uses the bloody lessons he’s learned to give Imharak a deeper understanding of life than most in their feudal land. The love between them adds a depth to this story that most tales like this lack. It puts a very human face on fiction and weaves a story that will, brick by brick, add pieces to the readers life. I’m better for reading this story.

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Unlike most fantasy, “The Fire And The Forge” has a setting that is closer to a Roman or Egyptian civilization and it’s a very nice reprieve from the ever present “dark ages” scene. The characters range in race and culture. It’s a story rich in diversity as well as adversity.

I especially enjoyed the different “magics” illustrated here. What a powerful imagination Geurts must have. There aren’t many stories that I recommend for film but this is absolutely one of them. If given the chance, I think it would rock the world on the scale of the “Game of Thrones” series. Yes, it really is that good.

I am completely caught in Geurts’ web and won’t be getting out anytime soon. I look forward to continuing the series.

5 stars!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: The Fire And The Forge | Series: Pantheon |  Author(s): Jack Geurts  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Sales LLC / Publication Date: 9-20-2017 |Pages: 448 (Print) |ISBN/ASIN: B075T5D6YN |Genre(s): Fantasy / Fables / Mythology / Fairy Tales |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 10-26-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

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The Booklist – Historical Thrillers

      Historical Thrillers are one my favorite genre’s. It’s the best of both worlds. The characters were/are real people and reading about them brings history alive in a way that textbooks just can’t. The fiction bit allows the author some room for speculation. It’s fun to see each authors take on the same historical characters. I think this genre keeps the past in the present and encourages people to look back and learn. The Thriller bit digs into the reader, blows the dust off the past and rips a hole through time to keep the story fresh. It’s easy to forget the past when you don’t feel connected to it. Historical Thrillers allow it’s readers to connect with those long dead and breeds empathy for those who survived (or didn’t) some of the worst periods of our history. If we have no empathy for the horrors of the past are we bound to repeat them?

I hope you enjoy my selections! Never stop reading!

♥♥♥♥

The Pursuit of Pearls CoverIn the spring of 1939, the drums of war beat throughout Europe, but nowhere more ferociously than in Berlin. The film studio where Clara Vine works is churning out movies, but each day that she stays in Germany is more dangerous than the last. Spying on the private life of the Third Reich, passing secrets to contacts in British intelligence, falling into a passionate affair—any of these risky moves could get Clara shot. So she is wholly shaken when someone close to her is murdered instead. The victim is Lottie Franke, an aspiring costume designer and student at the prestigious Faith and Beauty finishing school that trains young women to become the wives of the Nazi elite. While the press considers Lottie’s death in the Grunewald forest the act of a lone madman, Clara uncovers deeper threads, tangled lines that seem to reach into the darkest depths of the Reich—and to a precious discovery that Hitler and his ruthless cohorts would kill for.

Freinds and Traitors CoverLondon, 1958. Chief Superintendent Frederick Troy of Scotland Yard, newly promoted after good service during Nikita Khrushchev’s visit to Britain, is not looking forward to a European trip with his older brother, Rod. Rod has decided to take his entire family on “the Grand Tour” for his fifty-first birthday: a whirlwind of restaurants, galleries, and concert halls from Paris to Florence to Vienna to Amsterdam. But Frederick Troy only gets as far as Vienna. It is there that he crosses paths with an old acquaintance, a man who always seems to be followed by trouble: British spy turned Soviet agent Guy Burgess. Suffice it to say that Troy is more than surprised when Burgess, who has escaped from the bosom of Moscow for a quick visit to Vienna, tells him something extraordinary: “I want to come home.” Troy knows this news will cause a ruckus in London―but even Troy doesn’t expect an MI5 man to be gunned down as a result, and Troy himself suspected of doing the deed. As he fights to prove his innocence, Troy is haunted by more than just Burgess’s past liaisons―there is a scandal that goes up to the highest ranks of Westminster, affecting spooks and politicians alike. And the stakes become all the higher for Troy when he reencounters a woman he first met in the Ritz hotel during a blackout―falling in love is a handicap when playing the game of spies.

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Two women. One house. Centuries of secrets.

East Sussex Coast, 1855 – Violet Hargreaves is the lonely daughter of a widowed industrialist, and an aspiring Pre-Raphaelite painter. One day, the naïve eighteen-year-old meets Edwin; a mysterious and handsome man on the beach, who promises her a world beyond the small costal village she’s trapped in. But after ignoring warning about Edwin, a chain of terrible events begins to unfold for Violet…

East Sussex Coast, 2016 – For thriller-writer Ella Daniels, the house on the cliff is the perfect place to overcome writer’s block, where she decides to move with her small family. But there’s a strange atmosphere that settles once they move in – and rumours of historical murders next door begin to emerge. One night, Ella uncovers a portrait of a beautiful young girl named Violet Hargreaves, who went missing at the same time as the horrific crimes, and Ella becomes determined to find out what happened there 160 years ago. And in trying to lay Violet’s ghost to rest, Ella must face ghosts of her own…

Book list

Book Spotlight “CrossRoads: Women Coming of Age in Today’s Uganda”

They are rooted in their culture’s rich traditions, yet they stand at the cutting edge of change. This is the crossroads where many Ugandan women find themselves today. With dignity and grace, they play a complex social role, balancing worldly sophistication with reverence for the values of their upbringing.

        In Crossroads, a group of these women explore the past that shaped them and the future they hope to build, telling varied stories about a rapidly changing society where they serve both as guardians of culture and harbingers of reform.

While one woman examines the cultural implications of Ugandan names, another describes being tortured in a secret prison, and a third traces the mix of African and imported religions that shaped her. One mocks girls’ traditional sex education, while another voices her love of sports and a third reflects on her struggle to overcome a legacy of growing up in a war zone. All challenge social expectations, yet many view “modernization” with ambivalence.

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    Covering topics from sex roles to western ideas of “development,” this compelling picture of the lives of women in today’s Uganda, sometimes funny and sometimes tragic, provides powerful testimony to the strength of the human spirit.

#BookSpotlight “When Wolf Comes” John Pappas

Historical adventure, 1801. A survivor from an attack on a trade ship is sold as a slave to the Makah tribe of the Northwest Washington Coast. In a beautiful hostile land of people with strange spiritual ways he will become teacher and student, find friendship and even love, and realize escape comes in many guises, and survival is not always as simple as saving your own life.

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“I started reading the story and I literally couldnt put it down. Finished in one read! I loved the detail put into every day journaled in the book. I especially liked the ship board section and dangerous trading. I also liked how a romance starts and kinda slow simmered and built throughout the book. Wow, like I said if you like to read a great story with the details described making you feel like you are really there, this is the book for you. Great story!” – Amazon Reviewer

“When Wolf Comes” is well researched. Time and again I found myself lost in time and imagining the beauty of the northwest. The wonder of it’s people and their means of survival. I haven’t read much into this time period or the tribes that inhabited the northwest but Pappas leads the reader expertly through the complexities of both it’s cultural and natural wonders. Pappas has a real talent for cultivating a love in his readers that has at the very least encouraged me to learn more. I imagine that sentiment will spread through each new reader.” – AlliesOpinions Review

Get your copy today!

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Are you a reviewer looking for your next amazing read? “When Wolf Comes” is free on Kindle Unlimited. Don’t have a subscription? No problem! Shoot us an email and we’ll get you set up with the author for a possible review copy. Send review inquires to asumner28@hotmail.com !

 

Remembering 9-11

 Years ago, when the Twin Towers were hit with those planes, I was still a kid sitting in my middle school French class. I remember the day with absolute clarity for many reasons. 

The first thing I remember is the computer teacher from across the hall running into our classroom and yelling that one of the twin towers had been hit by a plane in New York. My French teacher paled and dashed to the tiny TV in the corner of our classroom and turned it on. We sat captivated as we watched the smoke billow. My Teacher turned the volume all the way up on the TV. With our classroom door open we could hear other teachers doing the same. It was an echo of panicked reporters down the hallway. 

We watched as the second tower was hit. The classroom erupted in anger. Teachers and kids alike demanded retribution. Cries of war and revenge echoed down the hallways. I sat in the sea of angry faces and thought not of war but the costs of war. From reading, I had a decent idea of what happened in wartime. I was reading at a college level in middle school. I tore through every single book I could get my hands on. I sat in the midst of all that hate and thought of the people in those buildings. I thought of the people that were in those planes. I thought of how each person must feel while faced with their death. I thought of the horror of choosing to burn or jump. I watched as people did jump and I imagined the feel of their last seconds. The sight of the ground as they fell closer to it.  About the time people were jumping from the buildings my teacher turned off the TV. When she turned around I was the only one not yelling. I was the only one not balling my eyes out. I had silent tears down my face as she looked at me. She and I locked eyes. I could see the anger in hers. I could see that she agreed with the others that war was needed. I stared at her until she looked away. 

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A few hours later the school closed early and parents came to pick up their children. My father refused to leave work so I walked to my siblings elementary school and we all walked the 3 miles home. No one noticed that we didn’t leave with our parents. I think everyone was in shock.

That evening I got a call from one of the few friends I had at school. She was shouting about how we were going to blow them to smithereens. She told me how her dad (who was in the Army) was going to kill every single one of those sorry bastards and make them regret ever messing with the US. I listened to her for awhile and when there was a lull in her tirade I asked her if she thought killing all those people and destroying their homes would stop this from happening again. She said it would. She said people don’t attack what they fear. I asked her why she thought they attacked us. She said her father thought it was because we weren’t Muslim. I scoffed. I asked her if she thought in some way that our country was responsible for this attack. If others had had enough of our bombs and were taking a stand. She screamed at me that the USA is the best country in the world. That we give people freedom. I hung up. I lost one of my only friends because I dared to admit fault on both sides. I still lose friends over it. I have been advocating for peace my whole life in a sea of violent people.

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From reading, I’ve learned to see everything in ripples. Every action has a reaction and I think deeply on everything. My heart aches for the people who lost their lives that day. My heart aches for the people who lost everything and everyone to our bombs of retribution. You can’t bomb a populace into respecting you. Fear will never breed the loyalty you want it to.

America has a nasty habit of invading other countries and I know full well that we aren’t there to give them freedom. We don’t even have that ourselves. As much as it’s claimed, we don’t. 

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You want to know why ISIS and the rest of the extremist groups exist? Ignorance and desperation. If you steal a person’s ability to critical think they become violent and primitive. Without the ability to understand the world and it’s complexities humankind becomes tribal and small thinking. Religious fervor takes over as people attempt to find a greater meaning to their suffering.

Today, as we all remember the horror of watching those people burn alive or jump to their death I want everyone to remember that hate breeds hate. Division and anger solve nothing and create only more horror. We are all human. We all bleed red and might does not always equal right.

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I want you to open your eyes and see the division around us. The extremist groups we harbor right here in our very own US of A.  I want you to see the huge gap of opportunities for the poor and the desperation of a mother who must choose to pay an atrocious amount for rent or feed her children. I want you to think long and hard of the humiliation laid on those who seek government assistance to feed their kids. I want you to see people die of treatable illnesses because of our healthcare inequality. I want you to ask yourself if you think we really are the greatest nation in the world. Because, that’s one hell of a title to live up to and if you ask me, we are most definitely not living up to it in the slightest.

Love one another my friends. Care for those who are down no matter their skin color. No matter their differences. Let us learn and grow together to make a world that’s a great place for everyone. Let us be fair. Let us seek justice that is not unjust to those who have no say in their fate. 

It’s time we evolved beyond hate and violence. 

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“When Wolf Comes” John Pappas

Historical adventure, 1801. A survivor from an attack on a trade ship is sold as a slave to the Makah tribe of the Northwest Washington Coast. In a beautiful hostile land of people with strange spiritual ways he will become teacher and student, find friendship and even love, and realize escape comes in many guises, and survival is not always as simple as saving your own life.

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“When Wolf Comes” begins with Aiden doing what he does in much of the book….deliberating on his next move. Aiden has found himself far from home and does his best to be positive while also endeavoring to be useful. When the first ship comes Aiden’s spirits lift and life takes a new path. Like life can do, the path quickly shifts again and Aiden finds himself once more a slave. This time though, maybe being a slave is a step forward.

As Aiden finds his purpose within his masters tribe and culture his eye finds itself stuck on another slave. Neveah is a beautiful native woman who also turns out to be more than what she appears. Their relationship blooms slowly and it’s a real treat to see. 

Something that should be noted is how Pappas managed to embed a message of tolerance in his story. Aiden and the Makah are very different and those differences are stark at the beginning but as the story deepens those differences don’t seem so far apart and each culture melds together to find this new direction that I found fascinating. Aiden’s culture and knowledge was accepted (albeit with suspicion) and their culture became another piece of Aiden. This story has a message of oneness that resonates even now.

“When Wolf Comes” is well researched. Time and again I found myself lost in time and imagining the beauty of the northwest. The wonder of it’s people and their means of survival. I haven’t read much into this time period or the tribes that inhabited the northwest but Pappas leads the reader expertly through the complexities of both it’s cultural and natural wonders. Pappas has a real talent for cultivating a love in his readers that has at the very least encouraged me to learn more. I imagine that sentiment will spread through each new reader.

Squintanasis was a character that I really couldn’t get enough of. I would love to see him get his own book. I felt like there was more to tell and learn from this most stoic of men. He was mysterious and wise. He was shrewd but fair. I liked him immensely. He was a big part of what made this story bury itself so deep into my psych. 

Pappas depiction of battle is gory but not overly so. The horror is addressed but not dwelt upon. The significance is put more on how the community came together and their bond. I thought it was well written and well balanced.

I could go on for days about how much I enjoyed this story. I encourage you to hop in and lose yourself in the magic of the early 1800’s.

Absolute 5 star book.

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: When Wolf Comes | Series: N/A |  Author(s): John Pappas  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 5-8-2016 |Pages: 264 (Print) | ISBN: B01FEC6YM6 |Genre(s): Historical Fiction  |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 8-29-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

When Wolf Comes Cover

“The images conjured up by the Northwest Coast tribes is one of fierce people what with their dramatic masks, nose bones and complex ceremonies. This story takes you to the people beneath that image. It highlights their sense of community as well as their recognition of the changes being brought by traders. It tells of how they treat their “slaves”, their capacity for compassion and their lack of tolerance for wrongdoing.” – Amazon Reviewer

“Naveed – Through My Eyes” John Heffernan

The explosion jolts him awake. He sits up, gasping for air, heart thumping.

Was the blast real? Perhaps it had only happened in his head, a bad dream. Demons of the dark, his father had called them. ‘Push them away. They’ll only poison your thoughts. Seek the light and they can’t hurt you.’

Naveed is sick of war – of the foreign powers and the Taliban, the warlords and the drug barons that together have torn Afghanistan apart. He’s had to grow up quickly to take care of his widowed mother and little sister, making what little money he can doing odd jobs and selling at the markets. When he adopts Nasera, a street dog with extraordinary abilities, he has a chance to help rebuild his country. But will a new friend’s betrayal crush his dreams of peace forever?

From the winter of war comes the spring of hope.

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     I found this book while browsing the kids chapter books at my local library. It was one of those books the librarians shelve cover out so it caught my eye rather quickly. I picked it up and after reading the summary decided it sounded like a book I should read and maybe later add to my kids homeschool reading list when they are the appropriate age. I often grab a chapter book along with the younger kids books and if they sound like something that would interest my four year old now, I read them to him. My four year old is much too young for this book but it’s absolutely a book I’ve added to our reading list for later years. 

“Naveed” offers two unique perspectives that, as an American, I don’t often get to see. An Australian solider and a young Afghan boy. Naveed may be a child but his struggles are anything but small. Naveed’s mother relies on him to provide for the family and Naveed works hard to do so. He also provides for his younger sister who, due to a bomb, has lost her legs. Naveed carries a heavy load of responsibilities but it’s clear that he carries them with love. Naveed’s love for his family is beautiful. He has known nothing but war and it’s touched every single piece of his young life.  

After a bomb took away his father and severely injured his sister, Naveed’s family lives in a hovel and their situation is precarious. The land lord is a bad man who has even worse friends and cares for no one but himself. He sets his eyes on Naveed’s mother and I held my breath with worry about Naveed’s family and how or if they would find a way out of that nasty man’s reach.

Naveed is adopted by Nasera (the dog) and his life takes on a whirlwind of change. By chance he meets Jake and opportunities open that he never thought possible. Naveed’s world is almost broken by a relative (whose really broken himself) and for a time, everything is thrown into chaos once again.

I want to talk about that chaos for just a minute. In the west, we are so quick to see a terrorist and dehumanize them. We don’t think of all the things that built up and turned this otherwise unassuming person into an extremist. Heffernan brings humanity back in this tale and gives us a look into what goes into the makings of a terrorist. It’s not harped upon but Heffernan gives us a window into a world I don’t think we discuss or even acknowledge nearly enough.

Kudo’s to John Heffernan for doing his part to put a very human face on a very ugly war. May his stories enrich our lives and encourage us to find peace with one another.

5 stars.

5 stars

The Technical Data:

Title: Naveed | Series: Through My Eyes |  Author(s): John Heffernan  |Publisher: Allen & Unwin / Publication Date: 9-1-2015 |Pages: 216 (Print) | ISBN: B00YVBQO8Q |Genre(s): Middle East / War / Historical Fiction |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 8-05-2017 |Source: Copy from library.