“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.

Naveed Cover

Amazon Buy Button

     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.

 

Advertisements

Book Spotlight “Desert Flower” Zohra Saeed

A Short Story – Love blooms in 1930s Bahrain…

“His deep voice was soft as the waters in the bay on a summer night and his words were the most magical I had ever heard. They sent a thrill racing through my body like a hundred tiny Arab horses galloping down my spine.

I closed my eyes with an effort to shut out his face, then opened them again, the tension of his loving words made me want to touch his lips and trace the soft bow of his mouth…”

* * *

1930s Bahrain, oil has just been discovered in the Middle East and Andrew MacInnis from Canada has come to work there.

Andrew visits a Bahraini carpet merchant, who does not speak English. The merchant calls for his daughter, Noor, to act as interpreter.

Noor is a devout Muslim and as such must not expose her face to men outside of her immediate family.

She acts as translator for her father and although he never leaves the two alone, under his very nose, Andrew and Noor get to know each other and fall desperately in love. The lovers secretly plot to run away but the risks are terrible. Noor’s father may send members of the family to hunt them down and kill them.

Do they escape? Will Noor have the nerve to follow Andrew’s plan or will centuries of a formidable culture and Noor’s upbringing prevent these two young lovers from following their hearts?

Desert Flower Cover

Amazon Buy Button

What are reviewers saying?

“What a beautiful story! The author does a wonderful job setting the stage with the religion and culture as the backdrop for the plot, leading the reader in a certain direction, and providing depth to the characters. I’m a sucker for love stories, and this one brought tears to my eyes. I hope the author will write more in this genre.” – A Critical Reader

“I loved this story. From the opening paragraph it gripped my imagination by its beautiful language and the evocative description of the heat of the desert rang so true.” – thea1710

“This is true… I cried. It is wonderful and shows the strength of the human being; if I can be half as strong and wise as this woman I would be at peace. An amazing, enlightening, not always happy true account of a life. It is awesome. Read and be grateful.” – Cooee

This book has an average of 4.8 stars! Read it and find out why!

About The Author

zohra-saeed-author-pic

Zohra Saeed is the pen name for Rohini Sunderam, a semi-retired advertising copywriter. She has written two books as commissioned assignments, had articles published in The Statesman, Calcutta, India, The Globe & Mail, Canada, and The Halifax Chronicle Herald, Nova Scotia, Canada. She was a contributor to the anthology My Beautiful Bahrain published in 2011 by Miracle Publishing, Bahrain, More of My Beautiful Bahrain & Poetic Bahrain, (Robin Barratt Publishing UK), Corpoetry, (Ex-L-Ence Publishing). A poem was selected for publication in the international competition Poetry Rivals (Published by Remus House, UK) 2012.
Rohini chose the penname Zohra Saeed for her romantic novella, Desert Flower in order to give it a separate persona. The story is published by Ex-L-Ence Publishing UK also the publisher for Rohini’s collection on poems about corporate life: Corpoetry.

Desert Flower Cover

Amazon Buy Button

Book Review “Hands Across The Sky” Andrew John Schmitz

synopsis

From the first page, Hands Across The Sky draws the reader into an intoxicating tale of mystery and hope, beautifully told.

When Ezra Quinn, a San Francisco techie, gets a call one Saturday morning, he has no idea that his life is about to change beyond his wildest imaginings. Quinn is offered a lucrative position in the Middle East in his field of wearable tech. A week later, he’s on a flight to Dubai.

In Dubai, Quinn meets beautiful, cosmopolitan Leila, who orients him both to his work and to the political complexities in the region. Though the Middle East is on fire, Leila drops a hint that there is another way … the way of the Open Hand.

Leila accompanies Quinn to Cairo, where he meets Alif Zahir, the passionate, intelligent official at the center of the operation. As Quinn begins working on the project, he starts to become suspicious. Is Alif Zahir really who he says he is? And is the project truly aimed at peace? Soon events will spiral out of control, and Ezra Quinn will find himself caught up in a web of violence and treason from which there seems no escape.

hands-across-the-sky-cover

Amazon Buy Button

I would like to start this review by quoting some of my favorite passages.

“However, it was also difficult to imagine that a single ancient woman in a tiny apartment alone with her cat could possess the key to the power they needed”

‘Let the story enter you and create its meaning there. Do not try to force the meaning on the story.”

“Hands Across The Sky” is filled with such beautiful imagery that each word is like a brush painting the scenes inside your mind. As the imagery settles, the emotions and senses with each scene settle on you in such an intimate way that it could almost be a memory.

There is power in this story and a pile of moral decisions to be made by the main characters. The suspense is built beautifully page by page until it all comes together for a powerful ending.

I really enjoyed Schmitz’s writing style. It’s apparent lots of research went into the writing of this novel. The details are pretty intimate and I can’t help but wonder if Schmitz has been to Egypt.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the telling by a variety of characters old fables. This brought a real authenticity that not many books have. The “Open Hand” ideology was beautiful.

Schmitz developed his characters expertly. It’s really a wonder all its own with how much he put into such a small book. I will be reading more from him in the future.

“Hands Across The Sky” was a profound book that speaks to my generation and I think will continue to speak to others as well. It’s world is our world. It’s problems our problems.

5 stars!

5 stars

hands-across-the-sky-cover

Amazon Buy Button

 

The Technical Data:

Title: Hands Across The Sky | Series:  N/A  |  Author(s):  Andrew John Schmitz |Publisher: Deep Theory Press / Publication Date: 10-28-2015 |Pages: 276 (Print) | ISBN: 978-0996827904  |Genre(s): Literature & Fiction |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 10-26-2016 |Source: Copy from Author