Tag Archives: Islam

#BookReview of Forbidden by F. Stone.

Forbidden Book Cover Image4_stars_goldBook Description

Captain Sharif’s police compound has been breached. Fifteen Americans murdered. CIA agent Frank Hutchinson has proof the cop is lying and has him in his crosshairs, eager to exact revenge. Captain Sharif must please his corrupt superiors; and yet see justice served, and abide by the Koran. He’s in hell, with no way to escape – either be buried alive or suffer Allah’s wrath. In the balance hangs the life of Eliza MacKay, witness to the massacre. He’s drawn to her courage and discovers her ‘take no shit’ personality warrants respect. Even so, her struggle with PTSD may get both of them killed. Desperate, Sharif initiates an act more forbidden and fatal.

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Book Review

One thing about Forbidden by F. Stone you need to know is that it’s set in the year 2047 and the Muslim countries in the Middle East with a few exceptions have formed into one large nation. I think of it like the old Soviet Union. Iraq is the center of power and that’s where this story takes place.

You quickly forget about the future setting because everything in the story is still very much present day except for the political setting, which doesn’t play a huge part in the story.

I really liked the book. There were definite elements that needed to be handled well, especially with CAPTAIN SHARIF’S faith. The author has obviously done her homework and that shows up primarily around how Sharif handles his interactions with ELIZA MACKAY.

But enough about that. This book is action from the beginning to end. A great who is doing what to whom. I’m pretty good at figuring things out but was surprised in the end about who was not involved in the murdering of the 15 Americans.

The writing is fast paced and I read it in a day because of not wanting to put it down. Throw in the romance elements and you have a well balanced story that gives you a chance to breathe between the action moments. The romance part isn’t overplayed and doesn’t detract from the story at all.

MacKay’s traumatic history and PTSD are used to great effect in the relationship between her and Sharif. Some of it is a little unexpected but overall I think it was exactly the way it should have been.

I recommend the book for thrill seekers and action junkies.

Book Review by Ronovan.

Get FORBIDDEN on AMAZON by clicking HERE.

Interview with Mark Donovan of Waterkill.

mark-donovanToday’s guest is Mark Donovan , author of Waterkill, a book I recently reviewed here on LWI as well as Amazon and Goodreads. He currently resides in New Hampshire where he has spent his career working in various high tech engineering and marketing positions. He holds degrees in electrical engineering and business, and is a private pilot.

How much of Waterkill was influenced by the headlines?

The headlines of 2015/2016 did not influence me to write Waterkill. It was, however, the headlines from 2014 that compelled me to finish the book. I began writing Waterkill in November, 2013 and then after writing around 25K words I shelved it in January 2014. I Waterkilldidn’t go back to it for another 10 months and completed the first draft in April of 2015. It was the Ebola outbreak that hit the United States and Europe in late 2014 that caused me to decide to complete Waterkill. It was during this time that I realized how feckless our federal and state governments were in dealing with a major epidemic. This fact, along with the constant and real threat of radical Islamic terrorism, made me realize that I needed to complete Waterkill. I felt compelled to raise public awareness to the vulnerability of a biological terrorist attack, and that our public water supplies are soft targets.

I was able to read your first version of Waterkill and then some of your professionally edited version. You’ve done your work justice by doing so. What brought about your having the book edited?

I had half a dozen close friends and family review my “final” draft version of Waterkill and their editorial comments and reviews were benign and very positive. So, I decided to release the book. The first “official” reviews that came in on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Goodreads were also very positive. However, as time went on, and the reviews continued to come in, I began to see comments about the book needing some professional editing. So rather than continue to see the book take negative hits, I got proactive and began searching for an editor. After about a week I found a person who had been an editor for the past 25 years and had an impressive resume. I commissioned her immediately to do a Line-Edit and she did a great job, albeit I had a bit of a hard time at first accepting her reduction of the word count by 15%. In the end, after reading her completed work, I had to admit the book was much crisper and to the point. She also gave me a great deal of constructive advice for my next book. One important nugget of advice she gave me was to try to keep one point of view throughout the book. “No head hopping” was her constant reminder to me.

What was researching for the book like? You go into quite a bit of detail as far as geography for certain locations as well as some military weapons.

I’ve spent over 30 years in high tech as an electrical design engineer and product marketing manager. Along the way, I’ve designed or defined radar systems, infrared missile guidance seekers, telecom and datacom equipment and semiconductors, advanced computers that went on the space shuttle, and for the past 7 years, magnetic sensor semiconductors that are used in robotics, automotive and industrial markets. So from this background it was easy for me to write about the surveillance and weapon technology in Waterkill.Mark Donovan image

From the geographical perspective, I have traveled far and wide throughout the world during my career, including North America, Europe and Asia. In addition, I was able to interview my parents who spent nearly 10 years in Saudi Arabia, including 3 years living near the Yemen border to get the perspective on the culture, geography and people from that area.

What authors do you think have influenced your style of writing?

When I decided to begin writing the “Dave Henson” series I wanted to write books that were akin to Clive Cussler, but instead of an ocean/marine background theme, I chose to focus mine on technology and aviation since I have a passion for both. So, Clive Cussler novels certainly influenced me.

Michael Crichton, Ayn Rand and Wilbur Smith have also influenced my writing style. With Michael Crichton and Ayn Rand it’s the technology and willingness to be politically incorrect with the Zeitgeist of the day that inspires me to write. Both told compelling stories that also had messages that went against the grain of the prevailing political winds.  With Wilbur Smith, it’s his human rawness of both good and evil, along with his excellent storytelling, that influence my writing style.

Why a water based bioterrorist threat?

Today when we think of terrorism attacks we normally think of airplane hijackings or bombings and mass murder with semi-automatics. I wanted to make people aware that there are other ways that terrorists can attack, and that it can be fairly sophisticated. Many of the radical Islamic terrorists are well educated people, who have engineering degrees, and I might add provided by the United States College and University systems. Water is our most valuable resource and critical for our survival. It is also a commodity that many of us take for granted and that is also easily accessible to those who want to harm it.

What is your experience with Islam? I ask because there are times you do show a good knowledge during the story. I know because I had several Muslims work for me.

I have worked with many Islamic people over the years due to my high-tech background. Some have been, and are, good friends of mine. This is why I tried to be fair in my book to the Islamic religion, but not hesitating to point out that radical Islamic terrorism is a real problem that must be faced and dealt with. As I also mentioned, I had my parents perspective of them living nearly a decade in Saudi Arabia.

How much of the tech in the book is possible?

Much of it is possible. The work in Nanotechnology, and MEMs technology, has just been astounding over the past decade. Case in point, the drone technology that we have today. Some military drones are as small as a housefly today, and there are companies/research institutions that have demonstrated swarm behavior with these micro-drones. The nano-dust that is mentioned in this book is still for the most part theoretical, however, due to nano-material science I believe we are only a decade away from realizing this concept. Michael Creighton discussed this technology in his book PREY that he released in 2002.

You handle Islam very carefully in Waterkill. Some authors could have made it a one-sided affair but you took the time to show the degrees of the faith. Was this a conscious effort or did the book lead you in that direction?

I made a conscious effort to be fair and not to confuse individuals with twisted minds, for whatever reason, and a population of 1.2B people that practices Islam, most of which is comprised of peaceful people.

There is a quote you use at the end of the book, where did you get that from? (Meaning, did a friend lead you to it, did you stumble on it. Something like that. And I’m talking about the Muhammad quote.)

Through my research on Islam I stumbled upon that phrase/quote and felt it had a great deal of relevant meaning to my story.

What are you working on now?

I am working on a new book with the working title “ROBOGOD”. It is a departure from my “Dave Henson” series and delves into the world of robots and how they will impact our lives both professionally and personally in the not-so-distant future. In my current day job I am heavily involved in the robotic industry, and the stuff that I see coming is exciting from a technologist perspective, but also very frightening from a human and ethicist. The book raises questions on how ready the human race is prepared to work and live with robots that look and act very similar to humans. See an article that I recently had published in RoboticTrends.com on the topic of robots: http://www.roboticstrends.com/article/the_role_of_magnetic_position_sensors_in_robots_and_the_iort

Mark Donovan's Lake View imageWhat do you do for fun?

I love to fly, read, hike and be with my family. I am fortunate enough to live on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee in central New Hampshire where it allows me to do all these things.

What authors do you read?

As previously mentioned my writing has been influenced by reading the works of Clive Cussler, Wilbur Smith, Ayn Rand and Michael Creighton. However, my reading is quite eclectic. For example I love reading Lee Child, Ted Bell, and James Patterson. However, I just finished reading the Great Gatsby from F. Scott Fitzgerald. I remember reading the book in high school, and saw it a couple of weeks ago just before I left for a job trip. So I grabbed it and read it on the plane.

Give us one word to describe your book.

Techno-thriller.

What’s your favorite word and why?

My favorite word is “Do”. I have always been a big proponent of personally doing things rather than just thinking about doing them or watching others do something, e.g. laying on a sofa and watching a sporting event rather than playing the sport yourself. Life is too short to just dream and think, or watch others live life, but never personally do something big yourself.

Get Waterkill at:

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Connect with Mark at:

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#BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “NO MORE MULBERRIES,” BY AUTHOR @MARYSMITHWRITER

No More Mulberries

  • Title:  No More Mulberries
  • Author: Mary Smith
  • File Size: 735 KB
  • Print Length: 262 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN:
  •  Publisher: King Street Press; 2 edition
  • Publication Date: October 1, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  •  Language: English
  • ASIN: B005RRDZ12
  • Formats: Paperback and Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Women’s Fiction, Romance, World Literature

*The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review which follows*

It all begins in Scotland –

While in college studying midwifery in her native Scotland, Margaret meets the dashing and mysterious Jawad, an Afghan engineering student. There is an immediate connection between the two and Margaret follows her heart falling head over heels in love with Jawad. They visit Afghanistan together and Margaret fearing she will lose Jawad to his homeland, proposes to him knowing the cultural roadblocks that lay ahead for the two of them. Jawad’s parents do not approve of the marriage. They finally agree that if the two can be separated for one year and still feel the same about each other they will give their permission for the couple to marry.

Meanwhile, back in Scotland, Margaret changes her name to Miriam and converts to Islam. For Miriam, this is a decision that immerses her into the Muslim culture of her future husband. After a year, Miriam and Jawad are reunited and married. Eventually, Jawad and Miriam have a son together named, Farid. Life is challenging for Miriam as she struggles to learn the language and customs of her new homeland but her love for Jawad is unwavering.

And ends far from home…

When Miriam’s father becomes ill, she takes Farid and heads back to Scotland so her father can meet his grandson. Upon her return, traveling through Pakistan on her way back to Afghanistan, Jawad’s brother informs her that Jawad has been killed. Miriam knows none of the details of Jawad’s death. All she knows is that the love of her life and her son’s father is gone. Broken by the news, Miriam knows she can’t go back to the home that Jawad and she shared as a single woman with a child. Cultural norms won’t allow it.

It is during this time in Pakistan that Miriam meets Iqbal, a doctor who is in need of a wife in order to go back to his home in Afghanistan. Culturally, it is imperative that men of Iqbal’s age be married, especially since he is a doctor/paramedic. The two enter into an arranged marriage of sorts, although they share a deep love for Afghanistan and its people. Miriam longs to stay in Afghanistan to raise Farid in his native land and marrying Iqbal seems to be the logical way to stay in the county.

What transpires is a love story steeped in the cultural differences of strict Islamic traditions, customs, and beliefs which lead Miriam and Iqbal on a mission of self-discovery to find themselves and their own true love and happiness.

Recommendation:

I was excited to read this book because I have a close friend serving overseas in Afghanistan. Culturally, I knew nothing of the country or the traditions. I only had a fundamental knowledge of Islam so I knew this was going to be a book like no other I had ever read. My assumptions were correct and I was immediately immersed into Miriam’s world. I cried with her, laughed with her, and at times tasted the grit of blowing sand feeling as if I was walking in her footsteps.

As I began reading this novel, I realized that I had to set aside my own belief system and embrace those of the people of Afghanistan. Many of the characters struggled with this same dilemma. When Miriam attended a school to brush up on medical training she met a female German doctor who was amazed at the way the Afghani women were treated by their husbands and even their own families. It was a hard lesson to learn that some things are so deeply rooted in tradition they cannot be changed. After traveling the world a bit myself; I realized that we all have cultural differences so it was not a stretch for me to embrace the people of Afghanistan.

This novel is written from the unique perspective of the author, Mary Smith, using her own observations and experiences while living and working in Afghanistan in the 1990’s. The sights and sounds of the bazaars came alive for me through powerful descriptions that made me feel like I was right there bartering for goods beside Miriam.  I longed to try some of the foods and would have loved to have experienced the rich tea that was served several times a day.

The book is written from the perspective of Miriam and then of Iqbal in alternating chapters. I believe this gives the reader a chance to delve into the personalities of the pair as separate people who are also a couple. It is a deep character study of the choices people make in life and the consequences of their choices. I found that I could relate to Miriam’s and Iqbal’s experiences in many ways in my own life.

For those of you who follow my reviews, you know how emotionally vested I get in characters who come across as real individuals. These characters leaped from the pages of the book into my heart. Remember, deep down this is the story of renewal and of finding true love, which just goes to show you that true love has no cultural boundaries.

Mary Smith

Author, Mary Smith

Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 4.5
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 4.5 out of 5 stars

4.5 stars

 

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.

Mary lives in beautiful southwest Scotland and is currently working, with award-winning photographer Phil McMenemy, on an illustrated book on the town of Dumfries.

Make certain to connect with Mary through her Twitter @marysmithwriter and Facebook at Mary Smith. You can find her on her blogs too, at http://novelpointsofview.blogspot.co.uk and http://marysmith57.wordpress.com/2014/07.
Book Review by @ColleenChesebro of silverthreading.com

Colleen 1122016