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Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Finest Supermarket in Kabul

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R&R Book Tours Proudly Presents: The Finest Supermarket in Kabul, a fascinating novella inspired by true events!

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The Finest Supermarket in Kabul

Publication Date: Oct. 30th, 2017

Genre: Novella/ Terrorism/ Inspired by True Events

Kabul, Afghanistan January 28, 2011.

Merza, a freshly minted Parliamentarian receives ominous threats after he wins his seat. Alec, an American journalist, flies from Kandahar without his editor’s permission to chronicle daily life in the capital. Elyssa, a Canadian human rights lawyer in Kabul to train female magistrates, is distracted by unwanted attention from a male justice. On this grey, wintry Friday, all three are embroiled in a dramatic and savage bombing. Inspired by true events and places, The Finest Supermarket in Kabul follows Merza, Alec and Elyssa as their idealistic and visionary hopes for Afghanistan are deeply challenged in the aftermath.

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Excerpt

Alec:

I’ve been in Kabul for just under twenty-four hours. I flew in yesterday from Lashkar Gah, in Helmand Province, after a heated argument with my editor earlier in the week during which I suggested a temporary reassignment to Kabul. Eric demanded I stay in the south for another three-week stint embedded with a US platoon. According to him, my stories from the US outpost were gripping and getting positive reactions from readers. Certainly, the embed was riveting – my first time moving around with US platoons – and gave me stories I couldn’t otherwise have written: intense firefights on a patrol, the evacuation of a wounded soldier, discussions about post-traumatic stress disorder, and fortifying against ambushes. But after three months of only covering action on the front line, I felt my outlook had started to skew by living and breathing the life of an American soldier. The longer I stayed in Helmand, the harder it was becoming to be okay with just telling one side of the story, as opposed to the broader picture. It was when I began saying “T-Ban” instead of Taliban that I knew I needed to get out. Meanwhile, Eric kept insisting that front-line coverage was our best news feature and refused to accept my other ideas, no matter how vigorously I pushed.

So I travelled to Kabul of my own accord to regain some perspective. I figure I’ll hold out an olive branch to Eric later, a magazine-length piece about how local ex-combatants are using the continuing conflict to their advantage. From fellow journalists, I’ve heard about former warlords, their identities and deeds well known, who’ve built massive houses painted in vivid carnival colours in the centre of Kabul and are living the high life, seemingly without repercussion. Interviews with a few of them, along with regular ex-Taliban fighters who got away from the fray, will form the story’s core; here and there, I’ll filter in views from ordinary people. I’m pretty sure Eric will go for an article with a military focus, even if it’s set in Kabul. Plus, he and I go way back, having both started out at the Chicago Tribune after studying at Columbia College Chicago fifteen years ago. If things go completely awry, I’ll hightail it back to Helmand.

I had my initial foray into Afghanistan’s real world yesterday morning. As I entered the plane bound for Kabul, I saw rows and rows of Pashtun men with long beards and turbans or woolen, round-topped hats with thick edging. My heart skipped a beat, as Pashtuns were the ethnic group that had birthed the Taliban, and I wondered if any were Taliban fighters. No one here would protect me from danger, and my visit wasn’t even sanctioned by my boss.

A familiar blast of adrenaline rushes through me.

Jakob stamps out his cigarette and leaps up while I gather my coat and Tish’s things under my arm. We race for the door. Ahead, I see Ben still on his phone but can’t hear him. As news of the explosion circulates, the room’s noise level surges and nervous energy grips the space.

We pick Tish up at the entrance and rush through the security gates, easily retrieving our various IDs and my passport as Ben advises that he’s called for a taxi to pick us up and that Masood, his interpreter, will meet us there.

After three minutes of energetic conversation about what we’ll find at the Finest, the four of us pile into the black Toyota Corolla that has pulled up. Sitting on the raised middle seat in the back, I have to duck my head to glimpse the street scene outside. It looks calm and oddly sedate considering what we know has just happened. Fortunately, traffic is far less jammed than on our morning’s walk over from the Safi.

We’re silent; our initial eagerness to cover this story has given way to an unpleasant realization that we will soon be confronting the bomb’s aftermath of chaos, destruction and injury. Jakob has already explained that the Finest is a convenience store that stocks expensive Western products like Nutella and peanut butter, so almost no Afghans ever shop there. An expat target, then, I ponder.

Available for Purchase

Quattro Books | Amazon | Amazon CA

Amazon UK | B & N| Indigo

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About the Author

Ele Pawelski has lived in Afghanistan, South Sudan, Bosnia, Kenya, Uzbekistan and Kosovo. She has climbed in the Himalayas, walked the Camino and hiked in Newfoundland.

Now living in urban Toronto with her husband, she’s always planning for her next travel adventure.

Her stories have appeared in magazines, journals and newspapers. The Finest Supermarket in Kabul is her first novella.

Ele Pawelski

My Review

This is a fascinating read all centred around one very ordinary day – until something extraordinary happens. Three characters continue with their everyday life, until an explosion at the Finest Supermarket stops them in their tracks. The story focuses on their reaction to the event, and how the aftermath impacts upon them.

Merza is up first. he has just been elected to parliament, and is full of optimism for change, at the same time frustrated by the stranglehold placed upon the pace of change by the governing party. His family has reacted differently to his new position – his parents wary and seemingly disinterested, whether out of fear or because of the attention his new role brings to them. His sister, on the other hand, is excited for him. This nicely shows the changing attitude of a generation towards change. It inspires hope for a better future.

Next up is Alec, a reporter who has just abandoned his job as a military reporter to get some greater insight into how life is for people living it outside of the US forces’ field of vision. He mixes with other journalists, most younger and more daring than he is now – but that’s as a result of a ‘been there, done that’ attitude. That said, he really wants to find a great story to convince his boss that he was right to pursue his own version of AWOL. His encounters make for an interesting read.

Last up is Elyssa, whose role is to train female magistrates in Kabul, a job which suggests change is afoot but is not really given much attention as her story focuses on a social gathering and whether people will be able to attend. For me, this last story lacks the intrigue of the other two. When the story then ends with several lose ends, it leaves me wondering if a sequel is in the offering. Well, if there were such a thing, I’d be up for reading more about this. Absolutely!

The author presents Kabul and its inhabitants with details that get to the heart of the city,reminding us that real people have real lives here. I certainly have a renewed fascination for the human story after this, after all, these are the stories that touch us, inspire us and give us hope.

Giveaway

3 print copies of The Finest Supermarket in Kabul and 5 $20 Amazon GCs (North America Only)

Click on the link below to enter

Tour Schedule

Tour Schedule

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Oct. 1st

Reads & Reels – Review

Cup of Toast – Interview

The Reading Mermaid – Excerpt

Where Dragons Reside – Excerpt

Oct. 2nd

Loving Life Every Day – Excerpt

The Bookworm Drinketh – Excerpt

Tranquil Dreams – Review

Oct. 3rd

The Voluptuous Book Diva – Excerpt

Didi Oviatt – Excerpt

Valerie’s Musings – Excerpt

Oct. 4th

The Genre Minx – Excerpt

Just 4 My Books – Review

Oct. 5th

Bri’s Book Nook – Excerpt

On the Shelf Reviews – Excerpt

Jessica Rachow – Review

My Baby, My Books, and I – Review

Blog Tour Organized By:

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R&R Book Tours

anthology · change · dementia · Holidazed

Anthology Update: Faulty Wiring!

faulty-wiring-tv

Faulty Wiring

is the story of Archie Royle, a dementia sufferer who regales the residents of his retirement home with delightful accounts of his past exploits.

Always able to bring a smile to their faces, storytelling is the only time of the day when Archie sheds the mantel of dementia and glimmers of his old, cheeky self shine through.

The story deals with a holiday to Antarctica – except that it never actually happened.

Witnessed by his daughter, who visits daily just to see him transform into Good Old Dad, the story captivates and enthrals.

But, at a cost!

The collection of Summer Shorts will be released later this month on Amazon, under the name “Holidazed”and you can be sure that it will feature here 🙂

art · change · fun · happiness

A different kind of therapy

Spring time is normally the time of year when we look to redecorate our homes, but for me, it’s summer when I most feel like a change. Maybe it’s because I was a summer baby and this is when one years ends for me and the next begins. But, whatever the reason, my latest form of therapy is giving a whole new look to the place where I spend most of my time.

So, whilst it’s not exactly ‘out with the old, in with the new’, I have made a few thrifty purchases. I’ve become a regular on Ebay, which has led to me find some great bargains (who doesn’t like a bargain?) and some perfect accessories to give my home a whole new vibe.

But it’s not all about buying stuff. Indeed not – I’ve been up-cycling too, transforming some shabby looking furniture into something more  chic and fresh. It’s amazing what a coat or two of paint, a sanding block and some colourful fabric can do.

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This is my latest piece of wall art  on my stairway – a stencil – to add a touch of positivity and keep the Spanish feeling: it translates as “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain!”

I still have a few more mini projects to complete, but I am loving the transformation thus far.

Next job is to create a truly Mediterranean kitchen – you might need sunglasses for what I have planned!

🙂 Happy Home = Happy Family 🙂

 

change · NetGalley · review · revolution · thought provoking · thoughtful

Maybe more truth than fiction – a book review

Living with Strangers

by Elizabeth Ellis

I gave this 4 stars.

strangers

Summary:

When her brother Josef suddenly leaves the family home for no apparent reason, young Madeleine Feldman is bereft and unable to function normally. As the only remaining middle child, she feels his absence more deeply than her siblings and now finds herself isolated from the family unit. Her school and home life suffer as she drifts from one bad decision to another and the relationship with her parents, particularly her mother, seems irreparable. It is this lack of direction that sees her move to France to accept a position as a nanny, a job for which she has neither training nor any great yearning to pursue. Yet, it is the distance that she needs to become independent and lead her own life, away from the disapproving glances and comments at home.

Another unfortunate relationship ends as she finds herself pregnant and seeking a new job and new surroundings. Luckily she finds both with a lovely French couple in need of help and who then offer her the support she requires to bring up her child. With little family contact, other than with her youngest sister, Sophie, she builds a happy life for herself and her daughter in France. Her world is upset when she receives a package from Josef’s  partner, informing her that he has disappeared yet again. At the same time she learns that her father is seriously ill and takes it upon herself to find her brother and reunite the family before it is too late.

My thoughts:

Europe, in the 1960’s and 70’s, is still coming to terms with the aftermath of the war, there are still stigmas attached to being a German family in London, and Maddie’s father has kept many facts of his life a secret in order to bring up his family in peace. Attitudes are changing and Maddie is in the midst of the ‘revolution’, yet still unable to account for all of the events of her family’s past.  Her poor decisions and lack of direction in life all stem from the time of Josef’s departure and how he was so suddenly removed from her life and everything she understood. Her relationship with her mother is painful to see, (but is well explained later in the story) yet Maddie now doesn’t feel as though she belongs or fits in any longer, her role has become superfluous, leaving her with no other option than to flee herself.

The struggles that Maddie has to face are handled with care and empathy. It is easy to understand her point of view, but at the same time you wish for her to just say something. Her only outburst doesn’t achieve its desired intentions and she becomes more withdrawn than ever from her family. The French couple seem to offer her the type of relationship that she yearns for, but there is always a niggling doubt that things would have been different at home, if only Josef hadn’t gone.

When she returns home, albeit with some reluctance, she is called up to unite the family. Her position as the middle child now seems to have become a pivotal role, one upon which everyone is now relying to restore the lost connections and make everything good. As an adult, and a mother, Maddie can now appreciate the circumstances under which her parents felt obliged to manage. Their past lives had made them react in the only way they knew how and now Maddie is to be the one to confirm their validity and try to mend old wounds.

The story is written with great conviction, it is neither overly dramatic nor action-packed, but it does feel real. It’s a gentle, thoughtful tale, set in an age where great prejudices still thrived alongside a willingness to move on and reform.

Do we really know the people with whom we spend our lives?

Are we not all living with strangers to some extent?