Books & Reviews


My books & their reviews..

I always believe readers and reviewers are the heartbeat of any author, because it is through them and their feedback we as authors are able to understand more about ourselves, and also see what is missing or even open our eyes to new angles and aspects we might have not seen today..

I’ve been into writing from a very long time.. Maybe as early as I started to hold a pen and began to actually be able to put sentences together.. The whole thing of putting a story together always fascinated me.. I began to actually consider writing stories later after I crossed my 20s and began to actually seriously pursue getting them out by the end of my 20s and beginning of my 30s.. In that retrospect I can say I managed to publish 2 books. ‘Ruptured’ in 2011 which was published here in Egypt and ‘Ribbons & Heels ‘which I self-published. If I ask myself if I consider that I have succeeded as an author my answer would be simple sweet taste of ‘Sort-of’ and mixed with a heavy and bitter taste of ‘No I don’t think so’ , if you ask me why? I would have to say the sort of success comes in the actually going through and succeeding in getting my book out there and actually managing to have it read and reviewed by some people who didn’t actually ever know me. That’s for the ‘Sort-of’ part as for the ‘No I don’t think so’ part is mainly because I have not been able to surpass the very few reads and feedback into a larger number of readers which would have definitely added to me more, I don’t actually mean by adding to me in terms of sales but more in terms of experience and exploration of the reader’s world.

What I am going to do here perhaps is share with you the synopsis on my books and the feedback they’ve received and I do hope it gives you more of the insight you might have wanted to have before reading for someone you don’t know..

I will be sharing the synopsis for each novel followed by the reviews received on Amazon.com for each and every book.

“Ruptured” – Synopsis: Amazon LINK

“A year and a half after bringing her attacker to justice, rape victim Farida is trying to move on with her life. But now she faces a new set of challenges as she faces a society that instead of embracing her as a victim, tears her apart with its looks and whispers, a society that judges her blindly and silently, wonders if she asked for it. Farida faces her biggest challenge yet: the fight for her very identity and her right to live as a whole person”

Reviews:

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

This book is a realistic look at the journey of a rape victim as she struggles to come to terms with the horror of what has happened to her. Farida lives in a society where a woman who has been raped is not seen as a victim, but instead becomes the scorned one; a defiled person who loses her status in the community.

I was so impressed with this book. Tarek Refaat has so accurately portrayed this Egyptian woman’s point of view that you feel her frustration, her shame, her pain, her helplessness and you become involved in the lack of compassion in her community.

Rape is a despicable act anywhere in the world, and while the reactions of society are different in many places, the feelings and reactions of the victim are universal.

Tarek Refaat’s debut novel is filled with feeling and understanding. I predict that he will go far as an author.

This story follows a bit of life of Farida who writes for Charisma which is a magazine in Egypt. As we enter the story she’s been taking a bit of time off because of having gone through a rape and now she has written an article about the rape. I really felt for her as she sat down to write the article and she had to relive the entire rape that she had went through in her mind. It’s very interesting to see neighbors and coworkers reactions to her and knowing a few Muslims I would say those reactions were captured pretty accurately by the author. I was thoroughly captivated and entranced by this story as Farida rebuilds her life after having experienced the rape. Personally, I felt it was really readable, the story just flowed along and pulled me in. Once it pulled me in it kept me there and I actually read it in one sitting, enjoyed it all the way through. Though I would tell you who but those of you who like love stories, there is small one that threads through in the background. Yes, Farida does find love.

I really liked this book. Farida is a girl who struggles with the sequelas of her rape. I like how she fight against herself, just to have her life again. We can see how, sometimes, when we have the most painful moments on our lives, wee refugee on solitude. And that’s not right. We need our friends, our family, we need God to move on. Sara, her friend and boss, she help her and understand her a lot. I liked her so much. I think this book is beautiful. I just didn’t like the last thing Karam did when the bomb exploded about he and Farida, he was so calm and then he was so angry and full with rage?? Umm no, I didn’t buy that from him. And about Gihan and Nancy, I think they should have had a worse punishment.. I’m just saying! lol. But besides that, I enjoy reading this book.
As a woman, I identify with some feelings of Farida. We suffer so much in this society. We even point to another and talk about others nasty and awful things, and we don’t know all the things that person has been trough. This is clear. We need to change. We need to trust in ourselves, to fight against the obstacles on our ways. To fight against our traumas. And, for that, we need love. Pure love from God, friends and from our soulmate. Thanks to Tarek, for letting me read your book. It was truly an amazing read.

‘I won this book’

  • By Wandaon May 5, 2015

This is one of those odd books where not a single star rating actually fits.

The premise is about a woman whom is made out not as the victim of rape but the person organizing it. I loved the universal truth of this.
However the ever changing shifts in the book, looking to step up in the world, dating once again etc.
all of this confused the plot line and diminished the main plot line. Yes life goes on and it is fairly safe to say it is a chaotic process but this was simply confusing.

Do not get me wrong. The premise remains and the author is gifted in depicting the masses and their scorn but….

WaAr

Rape is an emotive issue and the effects devastating. It is known that the despicable act is about having power over another and regardless of opinion, it is never the fault of the victim…even if they think it is.

However, what happens when society puts the blame on the victim?

This book explores that question and challenges cultural thinking.

An interesting read.

Author, TAREK REFAAT is a gifted writer to bring even the small details to words. It is a short novel; however, I took time to read it again and again as it was very much gratifying to read.
‘Ruptured’ is a story of a rape victim, Farida, and her struggle to get away from the nightmares that caused by the bitter incident. Initially, I found it filled with suspense; however the story advanced with a predictable plot. Characters were interesting and likable.

This is the first book I’ve read by TAREK REFAAT, but won’t be my last. The story is refreshing… and has a feeling that someone in some part of the world might be surviving this kind of situation… I understood the agony of rape victims as TAREK narrates it very well through his character, Farida, so that I myself felt the frustration, shame, anger and a mixture of many negative emotions. Kudos to TAREK, he did it well. Looking forward to reading the next book from him. Good read. Recommended.

I was extremely disappointed when reading this book. From the description, I was expecting and hoping to read a fictional story which formed a social commentary about the pain women have to deal with after being raped, particularly women in the Middle East, where rape is seen as being the woman’s fault. The whispers and comments I expected to be the focus of the book were found on a grand total of four pages. The rest of the book was an odd mix of a rushed romance story and a drama about a woman using deceit to further her career at the expense of another. Even more out of place was the main male character going completely insane near the end of the book, though all of the characters seem to view his extreme and illegal actions as being perfectly ordinary.

This book moved me greatly! Author Tarek Refaat takes the reader on a journey through the eyes of a young rape victim as she struggles to come to terms, to the horror of what has happened to her. Our heroine lives in a society where women who are raped are viewed not as victims, but instead becomes scorned, defiled, and ultimately loses her status in her community.

Author Tarek Refaat portrayed this woman’s point of view so well that you feel her frustration, her shame, her pain, her helplessness and you become so involved in the lack of compassion in her community. You, the reader, become wrapped in her pain and helplessness with her. Author Tarek Refaat shines a glaring light on a subject that most authors shy away from: rape. Rape is a deplorable and despicable act anywhere and everywhere. Unfortunately, society often reacts different in many places, but the feelings and reactions of the victim are stay the same, and are universal.

Tarek Refaat’s debut novel is filled with feeling, compassion and understanding of a tender subject. I expect Author Tarek Refaat will succeed at everything he touches his hand to, as an author. Well done.

Ruptured tells the challenging story of a woman coming to terms with her life after being raped. While Egyptian author Refaat talks of the differences in that society in his forward, the novel truly shows how universal such a story can be. The stages (I can only imagine) a woman must go through defies languages barriers or country borders. This male author has captured real emotion in the pages of his debut novel and one that should be read by men and women in cultures across the world. Stories like these (that show the human spirit) always make me see just how small the world really is.

The subject of rape is always a difficult topic to speak out upon. It’s something people prefer to shove into the back of a drawer, intent on forgetting that such a thing ever happened. This mentality extends to every reach of the world, not just in Egypt and the outlying reaches of the Middle-East. While this subject is often-times taboo, it’s imperative that those who’ve gone through such an ordeal to take the time to address it. To tackle the issue head-on in hopes of being able to put it behind them.

Tarek Refaat tackles this issue beautifully, in a way that leaves the reader with a greater understanding of what’s like to experience rape through the eyes of the book’s heroine. We are able to feel her pain and her frustrations as the society around her begins to treat her as if she’s nothing but a bug to be crushed underneath their feet. A society that fails to understand that she’s a victim of an unfortunate circumstance.

What they fail to understand is that Farida is a not what they think she is. She’s a victim who’s having quite a hard time dealing with what has happened to her. Her mind refuses to accept and overcome the rape. She feels that her soul is torn and that it’ll never heal completely. More so, she feels lost. As if she’ll never escape the injustice that has been committed against her.

As the story progresses, we’re able to see Farida gain strength in her convictions as she does her best to move on. When her co-workers and her friend, Sara, show her that she doesn’t have to deal with everything alone, she finds it within herself to finally accept the world around her. Most of all, she realizes that friends truly do make it worth living for and that it’s possible to love again.

Ruptured is truly a remarkable story. One I recommend others read. It’s a story that is very heartfelt and quite moving. I think quite a lot can relate with she’s gone though.

The read gives a general feeling of “fight against the bad situations” inspires survival and hope. The description of feelings is quite real. There’s also action that makes the mix result in an addictive read.

  • By Sandy Sanchez “Sandra Shwayder Sanchez” on June 14, 2011
    Ruptured is a very short straight to the point novel about a young professional woman, Farida, trying to recover from the trauma of rape. The recovery is made more difficult in that she charged her rapist so the case went to trial and attracted the public’s attention. The rapist goes to jail but the public continues to judge the victim. She needs a lot of time before returning to her job as a magazine writer and editor where a ruthlessly ambitious younger woman, Gihan, seeks to “bring her down” in order to take over her spot in the magazine hierarchy, a spot she had hoped to get earlier in the wake of Farida’s misfortune.

    The author, a young man of impressive insight and empathy prefaces the novel this way:
    “Being a person who tends to analyze my surroundings has been a source of inspiration for my writings throughout my life. Despite my relatively young age, I have managed to grasp several experiences and witness many others. It is why I decided to write this story.”

    Throughout my reading of this book I thought that, had I not known otherwise, I would have thought the author was a woman who had herself experienced the trauma of rape. I found myself very impressed with the author’s ability to get into Farida’s heart and mind. He also paints a credible and painful portrait of a society that blames the victim in these cases. As he points out in the Introduction:

    “In Middle Eastern society, a woman who has suffered such a horrible experience as rape is condemned in the eyes and words of the community. People never cease talking about her or wondering if she was the cause of the incident and, even if not, they regard her as “used goods” or an “expired product” who should be satisfied with whatever comes her way even if this means getting married to someone who doesn’t suit her or care about her. The pressure the victim undergoes is tremendous.”

    The author uses the articles Farida writes on a blog to follow the ups and downs of her recovery:
    “Then on my way home I decided to drive down the road where it happened, where I was raped. Raped the word that changed my life, personally, socially and in every way. Everything in my life has changed because of this five letter word. But it is not just a word. It was hell in less than an hour. I came back home feeling as if I was going to die. My heart was racing. My head was pounding. Nothing was in the right place. But I made it. I got through it. I think I am starting to face myself bit by bit.”

    After he makes the reader care deeply about Farida the author sets her into a plot involving characters that are both archtypal in their representations of good and evil and realistic with their idiosyncratic voices and mannerisms. Some of the actions in the last part of the book seem unlikely and unrealistic like in an action film or comic book but they are entertaining and lead to a happy ending. It is as if the author has at some point moved from writing a novel based on total reality to writing a tall tale intended to entertain and vindicate. Karam, the sensitive and kind psychiatrist becomes the powerful “knight in shining armor” that Farida needs and deserves and he represents the goodness and justness I suspect this author would like to see everywhere in the society around him. The transition is a little sudden but left me wanting to cheer out loud for characters I had come to love. I highly recommend this artful & insightful novel that espouses and celebrates good values.

    Sandra Shwayder Sanchez

“Ribbons & Heels” – Synopsis: Amazon LINK

“A journey of love and life . . . Nariman, Iman, Sherine, and Nahla are four friends whose lives are closely intertwined. Diverse backgrounds and different experiences define them. Love, life, heartache — each experience is one they’ve known intimately. Throughout their tumultuous lives, their friendships have never wavered. Their minds, hearts, and souls are bound together, tested to their limits. Each unique circumstance draws them ever closer. Join them as they embark on a memorable journey that will live in their hearts forever.”

Reviews:

First of all, I love the cover of this book!
I thoroughly enjoyed the read as well. As he did in Ruptured, Tarek Refaat has, once again, delivered a many faceted portrayal of his characters emotions, thoughts and interactions.

What is love? Where do you look for it? Does it fulfill you? Does it cause you to sacrifice your freedom? Who can you trust? Male or female, most people want to find love, but in our complicated world many are wary, afraid of being hurt or taken advantage of.

Four women, who are longtime friends, come from varied backgrounds and different experiences. They struggle with their individual perceptions and desires. They support each other and offer advice, but in the end, each individual has to trust their own heart.

The men they meet have the same desires and insecurities. Some are deceptive scoundrels; others fight for what they want with determination; others recoil from rejection and watch their dreams slip away. Ultimately, each individual has to decide to take a risk if they really want to get the prize.

To get anything, you have to be willing to give something in return and the truth is, and you’ll often find love in the least expected places.

I could relate to his characters, both male and female. They were well rounded and believable.

I highly recommend Ribbons and Heels as a great read. Enjoy!

Nariman, Iman, Sherine, and Nahla are four friends with different backgrounds but the same wish; to find love. But how do you find it and will it be worth it to let someone into your heart? Each woman has a different perception about relationships with slightly varying desires.
In this book you are given the perspective of each character- including the males hoping to gain their interest. They’re flawed and insecure which adds to the realism within story. The character development was wonderful and the plot line sucked me in until the very end. I found it easy to relate and was eager to see how these strong women, and men, would handle some of the things I’ve struggled with myself.
The four friends often interact with one another, lending support and advice even as they struggle to untangle the fears, doubts, and worries they face in their own situation.
I wish the book was longer so I could see more about the male’s point of view. Being about 116 pages, it’s quick but an incredible read. Not only are you given the romance aspect of it but the self-discovery these characters make is lovely. You will fall in love with each person, silently rooting them on as the roads go a little bumpy.
Tarek Refaat is a master with words; this is a book I can see myself easily revisiting over and over again.
I highly recommend adding Ribbons and Heels to your collection!

Tarek investigated the matters of hearts and relations in our beloved Egypt from a decent light perspective. Since he wrote it in 2009/2010 things grew to be more complicated and somehow un-nice in a way. It is first novel I read; I didn’t read “Ruptured’ – I find easy, fast pacing and lightly engaging despite the predictable ending. I wish he had explored relation from the view point of the male figure as he did with the ladies. It was a nice and light story that could have been drawn into an epic if he fed the story much here and there with more details, descriptions and plot twists. in the end, it was a good read, and a nice tale away from the hazardous reality human nature encounter everywhere in the world.

This was a quick enjoyable read. It was quite predictable and I did find myself wishing for a bit more depth, but some of the messages embedded within were quite lovely. I kind of wish this would have comprised of short stories for each of the main women, or that it would have elaborated on just one story. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it and I loved the little glimpses into Egyptian culture.

I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review

The book for review is “Ribbons and Heels” by Tarek Refaat. I would put this in the genre of romance.

Nariman, Sherine, Nahla and Iman are four good friends. Each of them bringing to the table different experiences when it comes to men. Nariman’s view of men is that they are all pigs. While her friends try to talk to her about it they can’t change her mind. Her opinion, woman lose their freedom when they get married.

This is just the tip of the iceberg as the book dives into relationships, office romance and meetings that none of the ladies could possible imagine or prepare for. The only thing they know is they can rely on their girlfriends as each branch out toward love.

I personally loved the cover of this book. It was bang in your face. I thought the book was going to be a book of short stories, which I do love, but it is not. I wish it had been for each storyline of the four ladies could have easily been done on their own. Something else, I wish the book had been longer. I picked up the book and read in one reading. I didn’t want to put it down. It was a quick and delightful read. For someone who really doesn’t read women romance novels this one worked for me. Kudos to Tarek on a job well done in doing so.

A good pickup for anyone and at the price you truly cannot go wrong.

It is always great to read stories from and about cultures other than your own. Many things are different or are things we are not used to but one thing remains the same. It is that thing that binds us in any story.Whether it is from America or from Africa. It is the human element which binds us. The human element is handled quite well in this book. Four friends looking for love going through their own experiences, their own feelings, and their own take on what it is or shouldn’t be. We can each relate to the theme because the theme is universal. The author handles it in a unique, interesting and entertaining way. The language is clear and the book is descriptive enough to keep the highs and lows coming at a good pace. The book will have you thinking, engrossed and excited.

Part of modern day Egypt is the emergence of Egyptian authors who choose to write in English. Most of our most successful authors write in Arabic, and after achieving fame, their work is picked up and professionally translated.
However, there have always been Egyptian authors who wrote in English about the politics, history, and heritage through AUC Press (aucpress.com). Then, there were a handful of authors who wrote in English at award winning/literature levels such as Ahdaf Soueif and Waguih Ghali.
With more Egyptians identifying with English as their language of creativity, we find a wave of new and exciting authors in many differing genres. This has been enabled by the parallel emergence of new publishing houses willing to put a voice to these authors like Saray Publishing (saraypublishing.com) and Shabab Books (shababbooks.com). The third possibility of publishing in English is through Amazon, and self-publishing. This is what authors like Amira Aly and Tarek Refaat have done.
Tarek Refaat’s “Ribbons and Heels” fits well into the Chick-Lit genre, it’s another take on modern day Cairene relationships. It reminded me of Inji Amr’s “To Each Her Own”, although hers was non-fiction. Inji had explained to me that her drive behind writing this book was that she felt that none of the books out in English represented who she or her friends were. Tarek Refaat goes on with that message and continues by adding to that painting that Inji had started. He helps readers understand the challenges that face modern day Cairene relationships, giving a voice to both the male and female characters.
“Ribbons and Heels” is Refaat’s second novel, it was published February 2013. His first novel “Ruptured” (May 2011) is about a woman who was raped and the social/societal implications. This second novel is a much lighter theme, while still shedding light on society and family values. It’s an easy read, and at times I wish Refaat would prolong some of the dialogue which seems to end abruptly, because as the reader you want to get to know the characters more. The Chick-Lit genre is really shaping in Egypt, and finding both readership through books like “Ribbons and Heels” and viewership with movies ever since “Sahar El-layali” (2003) and recently with tv shows like “Hekayat Banat”(2012). Refaat does this genre well and is more successful than others of the same genre at Shabab books.
The four female characters meet for coffee, talk on their mobiles, go to work, and discuss their families, all the while trying to work out their love lives. Each character is different, and has her different quirks, and one is easily pulled into their world and roots for the happy ending which the author happily hands over. All the characters live and work in Cairo, they are mostly upper class women, who have the means to lead successful independent lives. The issue of whether independence/freedom must be sacrificed in order to enter in a relationship is another of the themes, and is also happily resolved.
Overall an easy quick read with only a hundred pages, with a feel good ending.

Ribbons and Heels is a wonderful heartfelt book. All aspects are covered no angle left untold. The journey each character is on in life takes the reader along with them. You truly feel you are there with them and may even try to offer advice as you read. Very deserving of five stars.

This is a story of 4 friends. Each offering advice & sharing in the highs & lows of life.
I really enjoyed this book.

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