Cover Image: The Stray Cats of Homs

The Stray Cats of Homs

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Member Reviews

A story of a young boy living in Syria and how he survives. 
Based on a true story it’s hard to imagine his situation but it was brought to life before my eyes
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This book is a heartbreaking story of Syrian people and how they attempt to survive.
Sami has stayed in his home town of Homs even though most of who he has loved left.
It tells the story of how as he grew up as a child his home was ravaged by conflicts and wars.
A story of survival and overcoming hardship and grief.
Very well written and you are with Sami through all his story.
Highly recommended and a brilliantly told story.
Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley in allowing me to read in return for a review.
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A nerve-wracking account of life in Syria.

Eva Nour deserves five stars for having the courage and insight required to write this story of Sami, a Syrian asylum seeker, who made his way from the devastation of Syria to Europe. 

The book is brutal from the beginning. Reading it made me wonder how I would cope as a refugee. I wouldn’t. That people like Sami and thousands like him have risked their lives and fled their countries to find some sort of peace, in a foreign land is truly inspiring. 

Imbali

Elite Reviewing Group received a copy of the book to review.
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The Stray Cats of Homs by Eva Nour.  What a harrowing but beautiful read,  I loved it!  The story is based on the true experience of Sami who was born and grew up in Homs, Syria. His life was happy until he was conscripted to the military, during that time the war began.  The book describes Sami's life in war torn Syria, the horrors, family, friendships and love.  I couldn't put this book down.
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It's really not easy to write a review that does this book justice. It’s so beautifully written, that at times it is a joy to read, but the subject matter is so utterly heart-breaking that it feels strange to say so.
Sami grows up during the civil war in Syria. He has hopes and dreams for his future, as we all do, but fate and circumstance mean he lives in a place and in a time when he has few choices to make. He is conscripted into the Syrian army just as the rebellion against the regime begins and is forced to comply with orders that sicken him. 
Returning to Homs, he chooses to stay after his family leaves, and the account here of the horrors he experiences makes for grim reading. But he shows a resilience and a courage that is humbling to read.
Sami is real – this book is based on his experiences. If you’ve ever questioned the motives of those who put themselves in danger to escape places like Syria, or, from the security of your warm house, with food in your fridge, and your children safely at school, demanded to know why the young men don’t stay and fight, then I respectfully suggest that you read this book. In fact, it’s a book that everyone should read.
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An emotional read that will open peoples eyes go the true horrors some people face. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the ARC in return for an honest and unbiased opinion.
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An emotional read about a Syrian refugee.  Certainly puts life into perspective and makes you aware of the daily horrors that people endure everyday.
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This book almost took my breath away.

The Stray Cats of Homs is about the responsibility of individual people and how far one dares to go for freedom – 'the freedom to act freely,' about kittens lapping up yogurt, about humanity.

"'It's something I've thought a lot about,' he continued. 'If it's possible to learn evil, surely it also has to be possible to learn goodness. Don't you think?'"

This book definitely deserves a spot on my books-that-matter shelf on Goodreads. The only thing left to add: read the book. Read. The. Book.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of the book.
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My thanks to Random House U.K. /Transworld for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘The Stray Cats of Homs’ by Eva Nour in exchange for an honest review. It was translated from the Swedish by Agnes Broomé and published in the U.K. in August. My apologies for the delay in feedback. 

“A cat has seven souls in Arabic. In English cats have nine lives. You probably have both nine lives and seven souls, because otherwise I don’t know how you’ve made it this far.”

This novel is semi-biographical (or biographical fiction) and was inspired by true events in Syria. Its protagonist, Sami, shared the story of his childhood, his conscription into the military, and witnessing of atrocities with the author, a Swedish journalist. She has written the novel under a pseudonym as well as changed Sami’s name in order to protect his identity. That, in itself, is chilling.

There was no doubt that this was a harrowing account, very raw. Sami’s courage in taking an active role in protesting against the regime was inspiring. However, although I recognised its worthiness, overall I found the narrative too detached. That could be due to Nour’s background in journalism.

My feeling was that it would have worked better if Nour had not inserted the fictional aspects and rather documented a history of the situation in Syria from one reluctant combatant’s point of view.
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Oooffffft. One of those books that you finish and set down, blinking, looking around you, wondering if you're the same person you were when you picked it up.

It's impossible not to hear 'Syria' and think of nightly newsreels of a war-torn country which make it very hard not to become desensitized to the situation. We forget the individual stories that make up this conflict; the young men forced into military service, communities divided, families torn apart. This book brings all that home and more.

This is not a story about a family that fled the civil unrest, it's about a young man that feels such an affinity with his homeland that he decides to stick it out and stay, no matter what. It's hard enough to think of the huge exodus out of these bombed cities, and the displaced civilians because of it, let alone those who choose to stay. Amongst the rubble and the daily dangers from both sides.

    There was no room in their lives for the suggestive or ambiguous any more. That was one of the biggest casualties of the war: the grey area. There was warmth and cold, being full and being hungry, friends and enemies – but in between, nothing of any real importance. And then there was life and death.



This story tells the real human consequences of the conflict in Syria and it manages to convey the complexities of the situation without getting too into the political details. At times, it delivers an utter punch to the heart, but in amongst the trauma and heartbreak it manages to be uplifting and life affirming- focussing on the real strength and endurance of the human spirit.

This book will leave you thinking about what your home means to you and what you would be willing to do to maintain your freedom of staying in the place you have lived all your life. That this is largely based on a true story (with identities change to protect Sami) makes it all the more poignant. This is not easy reading, but it is necessary reading.

    "One day, I'm going to give you a book," she said, " And that book will contain your story".

Thanks to the Publisher and Netgalley for this preview copy in return for an honest review.

The Stray Cats of Homs was published on 6th August 2020 by Doubleday
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A beautiful, eye opening story. One that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and will definitely be recommending to friends!
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A brilliant novel about Syria and the journey of one refugee beautifully structured and very well written. It helps you to understand how difficult life is.
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What a book ! 
At times a difficult and emotional read it gives us, the reader, an insight into the conflict and its effects on ordinary Syrian's and how its has destroyed countless lives.  
This is a story based on the real life and struggles of 'Sami' and his life in Syria before, during and after the recent Syrian conflict. He goes from being a student, an entrepreneur, a conscripted soldier via prison, a rebel fighter/photographer reporter, to fleeing Syria as a refugee. 
I am so glad that I have read this book as it's so enlightening about the Syrian conflict. Even though it is presented as a novel. the author Eva Nour does not gloss over the horrors of war but writes it with sensitivity and I genuinely cared about the characters in it. As I sit here writing this I keep wondering about the real people in this story and what their live are like today. 
The themes in this book will stay with me a long time and every time I see a stray cat I will think of 'Sami' and this story.
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Man, this book left me an absolute mess. And it’s all entirely true.

This is the story of Sami, a young man from Homs who gets conscripted into the Syrian military as a cartographer when the civil war breaks out. Through Sami’s eyes, we see Syria descend into bloodbath, and when Sami deserts from the army, he ends up back in Homs, defending the city as a rebel while people are killed around him.

That’s a brief synopsis of the book, but it doesn’t portray the gut-punch that you feel when you read it. It’s about the death of hope, the horror of seeing your loved ones die around you and the difficulty of making the right choice at a time when all choices seem like the wrong ones. Nour tells the story sensitively and with real feeling- and she should know what it’s like. The ‘Sami’ in these pages is the person she’s now married.

Prepare for tears when you read this, but it’s essential reading. You literally can’t look away.
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I had really high hopes for this one after reading and adoring The Beekeeper of Aleppo but unfortunately, it didn't quite reach my expectations. 

The story follows Sami through his childhood in Homs, then his forced military conscription where he works as a mapmaker, and finally back to Homs which lies in ruin and destruction as the war ravages everything he ever knew. The story felt more autobiographical than fictional which I'm not against as the majority was based on a true story but I felt it could have been laid-out better. Many parts felt disjointed and jumped around the timeline. I would have liked more focus around the mapmaking which I found really interesting and original rather than a brief history of one man's life. I understand the author was trying to tell Sami's story but it felt like she was cramming everything in rather than narrowing the focus. I also felt parts were lost in translation, judging by the author's note, this went through a few different languages before it was translated into English so I feel like this hindered the story really coming to life.

I certainly got the atmospherical vibes and thought the war insight was raw and emotional. The characters were well-developed and I felt quite attached to certain people, such as Sami's brother, Malik and his friend, Yasmin. Again, it felt like too much was crammed in which was the main downfall for me. There were so many parts I felt could have been elaborated on but instead, things were briefly examined and then the story moved on. 

Overall, this book was brimming with messages and morals, and it painted the harrowing fate that Syria and its inhabitants were cruelly exposed to. Unfortunately, the story was too one-dimensional for me and lacked focus which I would have preferred.
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I loved this book about a boy growing up in Homs during the war. It evoked vivid images of what the war would have been like to experience firsthand. The story of his conscription as an young adult into the army, followed by his time as a map maker plus the descriptions of the horrors of war make for a compelling read.
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I was fortunate to receive a copy of this ARC from NetGalley.

I was expecting this to be about a young boy rescuing cats! It is actually a very moving account of a young boy’s growing up in war torn Syria. It is actually based on true story and the author, Eva Nour (a pseudonym) is “Sami’s “ partner in real life. Quite often while reading the book I felt I was reading about Nazi Germany in WW2 and had to remind myself that this actually happened very recently. The writing was very descriptive and I could definitely imagine walking down the street of Homs and seeing the destruction that had been wrought.

Don’t read this expecting lots of cats! There are a few references to animals and Sami tries to care for as many as he can with the limited supplies, but there is not an animal that is the focal point of the story.

I will definitely be recommending this book to my friends, to educate ourselves and gain a deeper understanding of what the refugees have and are going through.
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I dont normally read books about war but this looked interesting.

I thougherly enjoyed this book. It was a recap of the Syria war. The whole thing is based on a true story from Sami who's the main character.

It was a very raw and horrible look into the horrors these normal everyday people went through and how they brought hope into their minds


If you like being emotional while reading about a horrific time then read this. You won't regret it.
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Interesting and immersive, The Stray Cats of Homs is one account of how Syria descended into civil war. Of course it can be difficult to read because it is based in fact, but it's well written and really paints a picture of the situation. It opens during more peaceful time, Sami's childhood certainly not perfect, but much idilic than the times that befall him as the story progresses. Certainly moving, and definitely worth a read to understand a bit more of Syria's history.
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The Stray Cats of Homs is a raw and heartfelt novel that portrays the Syrian Civil War, which erupted in March 2011 and to date has left at least 360,000 people dead, through the eyes of young man and city of Homs resident Sami, his family and his friends. It's heartbreaking, powerful but also life-affirming and there's no doubt in my mind that I will never forget this story and its effect on me. There have been a plethora of books published in this genre of late so it takes something incredibly special to stand out and Eva Nour (pseudonym) has managed to achieve that with considerable aplomb.

Growing up in Homs, Syria, in the 1980s Sami’s childhood is like that of any ordinary child’s. In 2000, when Bashar al-Assad takes over power, things change, and not for the better. Sami is conscripted into the military and trains as a cartographer, shielded from the worst horrors. As the seeds of the Arab Spring are sown in 2011 at the same time as Sami’s military service ends, he hears of the wave of demonstrations all around the country – spreading into Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya. Then, he receives a text message from his girlfriend, Sarah, who is participating in the demonstrations: ‘They are firing on us!’ The full horror hits: Syria is heading into open civil war, with government troops killing its own citizens. What Sami decides to do next will echo down the years, and shape his entire future. And he does not choose the easy route…

I am finding it almost impossible to do this book justice in terms of reviewing but I will say that this is the real deal and a searing tour de force; storytelling does not get any better or more accomplished than this. This is Nour’s gripping and utterly engrossing semi-autobiographical account of ’Sami’ and his daily life before they eventually met and fell in love. I actually find it somewhere close to unfathomable that this is a debut novel because it’s stunning, heart-rending and earth-shattering and focuses on the impossible choices we make, the hope of revolution and enduring love amidst the death and despair of war. If the author adheres to this standard of work in the future she’ll be winning awards before you know it. Today the couple share a life together in Paris. Unreservedly recommended. Many thanks to Doubleday for an ARC.
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