Book Review: What Would a Muslim Say?

what would a muslim sayI was provided with a free copy of What a Muslim Would Say in exchange for an honest review.

Let me begin by verifying that I am not a Muslim. However, since writing a novel (Forbidden, by F. Stone) wherein the setting is the Middle East and most of the characters are Muslim, I have studied the religion of Islam, though I don’t consider myself an authority on the subject.

One of the best sources of information was from a book by Sumbul Ali-Karamali, The Muslim Next Door; and a book by Mustafa Akyol who wrote Islam Without Extremes. I also read The Fault Lines of the Middle East: The history of the religious and political issues affecting the region, by Charles River Editors.

Understanding Islam is both difficult and enlightening. Ahmed Lofty Rashed has been inspired to present answers to challenging and controversial subjects with respect to Muslims’ beliefs and culture by inviting the public to send questions to him via email. He responds to each question providing answers in simple language and refers to passages in the Koran. His answers are articulate, honest, non-judgemental, and comprehensive. What a Muslim Would Say is a compilation of this email communication.

Ahmed Lofty Rashed’s intent is to encourage understanding of Islam’s fundamental goal – to promote peace. The difficulty in understanding Islam is due to, in part, criminals who promote themselves as Muslim even while committing terrorism and atrocities which are in contradiction to the teachings of the Koran. The challenge is compounded by the media and political agenda to sway public opinion in a direction that promotes profit and votes – not peace.

Ahmed Lofty Rashed covers many subjects that were initiated by people’s email inquiries. Included are:

Faith, sex, and marriage

Muslim response to criticism

Jihad and freedom in the modern world

The Quran and how it informs a Muslim’s faith

Islamic worship, prayer, charity and pilgrimage

Salvation and tolerance in Islam

Muslim culture and modernity

Understanding Islamic law

Etiquettes of visiting a mosque

Gods’ grace and free will

How can Islam be called a religion of peace?

Can Muslims and Christians ever live in harmony?

Even though some of the email messages to Ahmed Lofty Rashed were written in a hostile tone, his response remained respectful and non-judgemental. Several messages continued on, response followed by more responses, until the inquiry was fully addressed.

Anyone who is seeking clarification about the truth of Islam is encouraged to read books from many sources, including What Would a Muslim Say. Many Muslims I have met over the years are most welcoming in their mosque, and so delighted to talk about Islam and their culture. I look forward to another book from Ahmed Lofty Rashed who plans to write a follow-up book.

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Book Review: The Former Assassin by Nikki Stern

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Insecure Writer’s Support Group – I’m back. For the last several months I’ve been reassessing, rebuilding, and paring down to what is important to me as a woman and as a writer. For a long while I had planned to drop the writing gig. A part of me was glad to be free of the pressures and commitments. It was good to just BE. Really good.

Now that I feel the earth back under my feet again, there is a niggly sort of feeling creeping into my thoughts and decision processes. I recognized the source. It was Bart. If you don’t remember him from my “Forbidden” years, hang on. The little green varmint will resume his colorful antics.

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For today, my offering to the IWSG is a book review. The  Former Assassin is an excellent read. The author Nikki Stern has the best talent for description that, instead of losing the reader in endless flowery text, she pulls you seductively into the depth of the plot and characters.

The Former Assassin

by Nikki Stern

on Tour August 1-31, 2018

Synopsis:

The Former Assassin by Nikki Stern

Susan Foster wants to retire. Her boss wants her dead.

After decades as Victor Kemp’s off-the books killer, Suzanne finally quits. Not until five years later does Kemp discover how thoroughly she’s deceived him. Determined to punish her, he tracks her to Wales to watch her die. Instead, he walks into a trap.

Believing themselves safe at last, Suzanne and her family relocate to London, where she hopes to find the peace that has eluded her for so long. Her son is engaged to a nobleman’s daughter; her husband has a good job with British Intelligence. Yet she still struggles with restless dreams and the premonition that her nemesis has survived.

He has: Kemp, though severely injured, is rebuilding his empire and plotting revenge. He’s prepared to risk everything to end the former assassin. He may not be the only one.

Suzanne has no choice: to protect those she loves, she will be forced to kill again. Assassins, it seems, can never retire.

“An explosive page-turner which owes its momentum to it two well-drawn opponents and a conflict that goes beyond good-vs.-evil.” ~IndieReader, Four Star review

“Later turns in the smashing final act come at a searing pace.” ~ Kirkus Reviews

“Keeps readers guessing the outcome right up to its conclusion.” ~D. Donovan Midwest Book Review

Book Review, by F. Stone

The first line of this book grabbed me. “Today is not a good day to die.”

The Former Assassin is suspenseful, well written, and has interesting characters. I particularly liked the author’s talent for description. Nikki Stern achieves the perfect balance of immersing the reader into the scene and the mind of the characters without losing the sense of suspense.

In my opinion, The Former Assassin is more character based than action. However, because the reader becomes intimately connected to the former assassin’s struggle with her terrible past, the reader is motivated to see if Suzanne can survive her profession of being a cold-blooded killer. Does she have the strength and courage to face how morally corrupt she has become? When she learns the people she dearly loves have been murdered, all seems lost. Suzanne’s heart, once on the verge of walking away from her life of crime, sizzles with hatred for her corrupt boss, Victor Kemp.

Kemp’s policy is to eliminate not just his enemies, but all traces of their connection. No one is allowed to leave his employment. When Suzanne declares retirement and goes into hiding, he desperately needs to destroy her. She knows every detail of his criminal activity. The hunt reaches fever pitch when his son is murdered.

Readers who enjoy interesting characters will love The Former Assassin. This book is a perfect blend of characters dealing with intense internal moral issues, working to perfect their skill as an unstoppable sharpshooter, and struggling to survive a no-win situation.

I give The Former Assassin 4.5 stars. Half a star is ‘knocked off’ as, in spite of her terrible family life, I couldn’t understand what drove Suzanne to be a heartless killer for many years . Other readers may find her motives realistic.

Message received from Nikki Stern:  Thanks so much for the review! Please let your readers know I’m offering specials to book clubbers as well.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense Thriller
Published by: Ruthenia Press
Publication Date: January 8, 2018
Number of Pages: 304
ISBN: 9780999548721
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible | Goodreads

 

Read an excerpt:

Today is not a good day to die.

No day is, not really. We humans are hard-wired to survive. By most standards, though, this morning is exceptional. The weather is balmy, even for May. The fierce winds that often pound the Welsh coastline have remained offshore. Purple heather blankets the emerald cliffs that encircle Bristol Bay. Small breakers gently lap the shoreline and wash the sand clean of debris. The water sparkles in the sunlight. Shades of azure and aquamarine yield to cyan and lapis further out. In the distance, the sea meets a cerulean sky just where the earth curves. No slate clouds gather at the horizon. All is calm.

Nothing suggested that today I would find myself on a bench in one of the most breathtaking spots in the world with a gun to my head, held by a predator who speaks just two words: “Don’t move.”

***

Excerpt from The Former Assassin by Nikki Stern. Copyright © 2018 by Nikki Stern. Reproduced with permission from Nikki Stern. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Nikki Stern

Nikki is the author of two works of non-fiction: HOPE IN SMALL DOSES, a 2015 Eric Hoffer finalist for books that provoke, inspire and redirect thought, and BECAUSE I SAY SO: MORAL AUTHORITY’S DANGEROUS APPEAL, as well as dozens of short stories. She is co-author on the Cafe Noir interactive murder mystery series, published by Samuel French. Nikki’s suspense novel, THE FORMER ASSASSIN has garnered strong reviews, including a four-star rating from Indie Reader. She’s working on a mystery/sci-fi series starring an unorthodox crime fighter named Samantha Tate. When she’s not writing about strong complex women, Nikki is working with several non-profits, taking Pilates classes, and attending to the needs of her dog, Molly.

Catch Up With Nikki Stern On:
Website, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Tour Participants:

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ENTER GIVEAWAY:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Nikki Stern. There will be 2 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on August 1, 2018 and runs through September 1, 2018. Void where prohibited.

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Romance Under Fire – Returning to Blaze a New Trail

There are mega plans coming up. I could give you some hints, but you really don’t want me to ruin the surprise, do you?

One of activities I have missed doing is reading novels about to be launched, and posting my review. The first novel on my schedule (September 1st, 2018) is the Former Assassin by Nikki Stern, introduced by Partners in Crime Tour.

The Former Assassin by Nikki Stern

The next project about to be finalized, then launched, is top secret. But I am so excited, it is going to be painful to keep it quiet. From time to time, I’ll drop in a clue, just to torture you. It’s going to be so much fun.

Ciao, Baby.

Partners in Crime Book Review: 66 Metres by J. F. Kirwan

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66 Metres

by J F Kirwan

on Tour July 17-31, 2017

Feather’s Review:

I received a free copy of 66 Metres in exchange for an honest review.

66 Metres begins with gripping intrigue. Right from the first page, I knew this novel’s plot promised an intense and exciting experience. I followed well developed characters into a world that was foreign to me and, thus, full of surprises. Some of the characters were on the edge of morally bankrupt, callous beyond comprehension, and I hated them. One or two I managed to feel twinges of sympathy. That’s the gift of an accomplished author like J. F. Kirwan.

Readers who enjoy deep sea scuba diving will not be able to put this book down. It is that intense. I found it almost too much having narrowly escaped drowning years ago. The memories of shear terror resurfaced. Kirwan takes the reader down into the dark and cruel territory of a sunken wreck where there are no second chances to survive a misstep – other than clever ingenuity and professional skills.

All the while, the reader is sorting out which character can be trusted. One woman’s survival depends upon her sister’s courage and tenacity. Too many men want what she has, and most of all, they want her to permanently disappear. 66 Metres is a suspense/thriller at its highest heart pounding rating.

I have one complaint. When the plot appeared to be resolved, the story continued for another chapter. It felt unnecessary and left me feeling confused. However I did enjoy 66 Metres and highly recommend it to suspense/thriller readers.

Synopsis:

66 Metres by J F Kirwan

A chilling and utterly compelling thriller that you won’t be able to put down!

The only thing worth killing for is family.

Everyone said she had her father’s eyes. A killer’s eyes. Nadia knew that on the bitterly cold streets of Moscow, she could never escape her past – but in just a few days, she would finally be free.

Bound to work for Kadinsky for five years, she has just one last mission to complete. Yet when she is instructed to capture The Rose, a military weapon shrouded in secrecy, Nadia finds herself trapped in a deadly game of global espionage.

And the only man she can trust is the one sent to spy on her…

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Carina
Publication Date: August 25th 2016
Number of Pages: 232
ISBN: 9780008207748
Series: Nadia Laksheva Spy Thriller #1
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

‘Let’s see if you can really shoot. Give her your pistol,’ Kadinsky said to one of the henchmen, the one with a pockmarked face – Pox, Nadia named him – who immediately lost his sense of humour.

She took the weapon from his outstretched hand, weighed it in her palm. An old-style Smith & Wesson. God knows why the guy had it. Most blatnye preferred semi-autos, Makarovs or the older but higher-velocity Tokarevs. She checked that it was loaded, all six bullets nestling in their chambers. She glanced at Kadinsky, thought about killing him. But the other henchman, the fat one with slicked black hair – hence, Slick – had his Glock trained on her, his lopsided leer daring her.

Kadinsky waved a hand towards Katya, five metres away. He tilted his head left and right, then settled back against the soft leather, took a gulp of whiskey, and smacked his lips. ‘The red rose in the bowl of flowers behind her left ear. Shoot it. From where you stand.’

Slick’s eyes flicked toward Katya, gauging the angles. His leer faded.

Nadia stared at her sister and the rose. Most of it was behind her head. Only one leaf of the scarlet blossom was exposed. She swallowed, then lifted the revolver, and took up a shooting stance like her father had taught her. Right arm firm, elbow not fully locked, left hand under the fist, prepared for the recoil. She had to do it before anger built and disrupted her concentration. She cocked the hammer, lined up the shot, then spoke to Katya’s serene, trusting face: ‘Love you,’ she said. Then she breathed out slowly, as if through a straw, and squeezed the trigger.

Masonry exploded behind Katya. The crack was so loud that three other men burst into the room, weapons drawn. Kadinsky waved them back as Pox peeled the revolver from Nadia’s stiff fingers. Petals fluttered to the floor amidst a plume of white powder from the impact crater in the wall. Katya sat immobile, pale, the hair on the left side of her head ruffled as if by a gust of wind. A trickle of blood oozed from her left temple, and ran down her cheek.

Katya, lips trembling, beamed at Nadia. ‘Still alive,’ she said, her voice hoarse. She touched the graze with an unsteady forefinger.

Nadia began to shake. She folded her arms, refusing to give Kadinsky the satisfaction.

 

Excerpt from 66 Metres by J F Kirwan. Copyright © 2017 by J F Kirwan. Reproduced with permission from J F Kirwan. All rights reserved.

J F Kirwan

Author Bio:

Barry (JF) works by day in aviation safety, and writes at night. He is also a diving instructor and has dived all over the world. He got hooked on writing when people started arguing about his characters as if they were real people. He is married and lives in Paris, because the coffee is better there, and he needs coffee to write.

Catch Up With Our Author On:
Website 🔗
Goodreads 🔗
Twitter 🔗
Facebook 🔗

 

Tour Participants:

Visit our amazing hosts throughout the tour for great reviews, excerpts, & giveaways!
http://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=278384

 

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for J F Kirwan. There will be 4 winners of one (1) $10 Amazon.com Gift Card! The giveaway begins on July 16 and runs through August 2, 2017.

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Partners In Crime Book Tour – FORBIDDEN, Better Wear Your Flak Jacket, Honey

Forbidden: Better Wear Your Flak Jacket

by F. Stone

on Tour June 19 – July 7, 2017

June 30th Book Tour Stops: Interview with Deal Sharing Aunt

and

Review by Blogging Wtih A

Forbidden: Better Wear Your Flak Jacket by F. StoneGunfire echoes within the walls of a Middle East police compound. Screams of terror are brutally silenced. Police captain Hashim Sharif captures one survivor. Soon Eliza MacKay will wish she had died with her companions.

The vile act of terrorism is covered-up. Sharif becomes the reluctant keeper of his city’s bloody secret – and the witness, MacKay. His corrupt superiors have a gun rammed against his skull. Disloyalty to the mayor will be rewarded with being buried alive.

Whatever the cost, his government’s honor must be restored. Secretly, Sharif hunts forensic evidence. Who is responsible for the murder of fifteen American volunteers? And, why did MacKay lie about her identity? He can’t trust her. Her mental illness is going to get both of them killed.

When he receives orders to dispose of MacKay, his Muslim faith is tested. Murder an innocent in cold blood? He will suffer Allah’s eternal wrath.

CIA Agent Hutchinson has the lying Sharif in his cross hairs. Sharif dodges the agent’s traps almost as easily as the hit man on his tail. When Sharif discovers the shocking truth, he loses all hope of survival.

What is worth dying for? Perhaps it’s not bringing a madman to justice. Could it be saving the life of a woman who kick-started his numb heart? On the knife edge of risk, Sharif plots an act most forbidden and fatal.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Romance, International Thriller
Published by: Indie
Publication Date: December 2016
Number of Pages: 363
ISBN: 0995150907 (ISBN13: 9780995150904)
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Tour Info:

Book Formats: ePub, mobi, Print (US Only)
Hosting Options: Review, Interview, Guest Post, Showcase
Giveaway: PICT Rafflecopter & Individual Host Giveaways
More: According to the author Forbidden: Better Wear Your Flak Jacket does include: Graphic Violence and other trigger situations but it does not include: Excessive Strong Language, Explicit Sexual Scenes, or Rape. Both Wendy and Cheryl have read this book, however and can give additional information if you have questions.

Tour Participants:


List of tour stops: