Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

Why kidlit?

​You don’t write a childrens’ book because you’re in it for the money. You write it because you’ve told this story to children before, you’ve talked to them about it, you’ve asked them their opinions, their predictions, their solutions for problems, and you’ve seen that gleam in their eyes when their hearts and minds open to life. 

Now I may have kept Spikes for Hank to myself and my little learners, but I thought ‘why not see if anyone else really feels it’. 

So when I receive a review like this, from someone who truly gets it as a parent and sees its potential, my heart smiles.

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STYLING WELLYWOOD by Kate O’Keefe – my review

Just went through the basic elements of a proper chicklit with some friends. Here is the unofficial list: romance, sex, humour, drama, fun, friendship, intelligent and relatable heroine, at least two cool guys, interesting setting. So let’s go through the check list with Styling Wellywood. (Neat title, by the way.)

Romance certainly blossoms in this book, on more levels than one, as the heroine is challenged to reinvent herself, fall in love with her hometown, deal with her friends and family and their relationships (some surprises there;)), not to mention finally admitting who is right for her. Check.

Sex is there, quite steamy although with… aah, no, no spoilers in this review. Let’s just say you will find it, quite soon in the book, although it does not drive the story. Check.

Humour stems directly from the authors witty writing style, charming similes, and of course, funny situations developing from the ridiculousness of human inability to communicate emotions clearly. Not laugh-right-out situations, so no fear of choking on your beach cocktail, but enough to give you a cheeky smile which will attract some attention of those checking out you and your book. Humour – check.

Drama – there is an underlying dramatic plot which may not be evident from the start, but which unveils itself, connecting new friendships and old ones. It gives the story a serious touch, but it is justified. And the friendships are not only of the galpal kind – the male-female motive is there too, and so is a charming development with the heroine’s parents. So drama, family & friendship – check.

Fun abounds all around. Parties, events, dates, family get-togethers… What I was intrigued by was how the personal stylist career of the heroine evolves, and although related to shopping and looks, the author also shows the confidence booster element behind this particular profession. The clients’ list is charming, but no spoilers:). Fun, check.

Heroine and the guys. Yes, all there. Agree or not with some of her decisions, eventually the heroine will justify your trust and make you proud, and although she can be gullible, hormone-smittened and stubborn, she is a positive girl, after all, and you will connect with her. The guys are colourful – I know my favourite, and you will definitely pick yours.

As for the setting, the little town in New Zealand will quickly grow on you as you fall in love with the comedy and drama of its inhabitants. The final scene setting is cute and quirky, and many a guy and girl may have dreamed of it, although it is not predictable. Check.

Overall, this chicklit has all the spices you might expect, with a charming set of characters, twists and turns, and will make your holiday fun. It might even inspire a romantic streak; you never know!

This review was written for the Readers Review Room and earns the author a goold bookworm.

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Challenged to a video interview

Well, it’s taken a long time but I have finally given in to being challenged to a video interview by author, book promoter, blogger and owner of Readers Review Room – Traci Sanders. 

If you do decide to take a peek, please be gentle with my over-loquacious babble. This is the first time I’ve given such an interview. Time will tell if it’s the last.

video interview link
PS: A huge thanks to Traci for being such a patient and amiable host, as well as for her overall support for the independent authors.
Pic 1: part of the display I set up for the interview

Pic 2: a promo for my new children’s book Spikes for Hank

Pic 3: a promo for The Threshold, my semi-horror novella Traci asked about

Pic 4 : my books, both kidlit and adult, and their links below

Lulu
Amazon
Barnes&Noble
Kobo
iBooks

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BILLY HAS A BIRTHDAY by James Minter – my review

Bullying and abuse has never sit well with me, so any attempt to stop it is appreciated. James Minter has composed a series of stories about negative behaviour and positive outcomes, and Billy Has a Birthday deals with overcoming bullying. 

This chapter book is intended for children 8-11 and can be used in a family or classroom situation, or the children can read it by themselves. There are even additional activities available to help engage the children. A simple, everyday situation, a boy’s 10th birthday, and an average family setting should make the children feel safe while reading, and, if guided well by the educator or parent, the child who reads it might open up about being bullied or witnessing bullying, which is what is usually the most difficult thing to do – open up and ask for help. Despite keeping the story simple and using likeable illustrations, the author does not embellish the boy’s fear of the bully, the complications it causes and explains the real punishment which befalls the bully himself. 

In my opinion, a sensitive topic like this one should be discussed both in families and schools, and this book is a good tool to help One might claim children want more suspense from stories – such as dragons, zombies, pirates, etc. All that is well and true, but children know that is just fancy, fabrication, fantasy. It is seemingly simple books like this one that stir up real emotions because, to children, they are almost non-fiction. They will relate and react. It is up to us to be there and steer them towards positivity.

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STORM PORTAL by Michael R. Stern – my review

Incredible story! Although I am not a History teacher, I am never going to look at my classroom door the same way! Congrats to author Michael R. Stern on Storm Portal! I have always loved time travel tales, and can happily report this one gives a fresh perspective on all the possible controversy and allure of it.

As a History teacher accidentally opens a time portal within his classroom, the author leads us into a twist-filled, well-paced and intelligently written story, with characters that grow on you, starting from the teachers and students, to the amazing presidential couple and detail team. The setting of the school and lessons as crucial turning points can be discussed on a metaphorical level to infinity, but suffice it to say that most people I know would love history taught this way (even only at discussion level, time portal excluded), and most students I know would love learning from someone who genuinely cares what they think.

The language is simple and not distracting from the events, but only seemingly simple on the surface, because the author has a cunning way with words, and/or has worked with an excellent editor who applies the ‘less is more’ principle perfectly. Character development is great and seamless, and (spoiler alert) Ashley keeps question marks blinking in my mind with his yearbook; great way to entice readers to sequels. Dialogues are clever, witty and often deliver exactly what the reader wonders about. The history parts revolve only on U.S. history (this time), but the author does not fail to point out the connection between world events.

What impressed me was the pace – a somewhat playful, lingering initial rhythm gains in strength, drama and intensity as the plot thickens, and using the storm as the trigger to time travel, with its possibly dangerous aftermath, reminiscent of ancient tragedies, adds to the ominous power and the vast potential of all the what-ifs that ensue. By the end, I forgot I was actually (only) reading:). History became an action/spy thriller!

As a reader, don’t you love a book which makes you want to meet the author and ask him tons of questions? A book which makes you feel as if you’d crawled inside it or at least leaves you wanting to read more? A story which even makes you want to meet the characters? Well, if you like all that, plus history and time travel, dig in! Good to know there are sequels.

As a reviewer for the Readers Review Room  it gives me great pleasure to award this book the gold bookworm. Congrats, Michael R. Stern. It takes guts to tackle time travel, and you aced it!

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The Good Pirate

What a lovely surprise this morning! A lovely review by author Ashely Marie Uzzell for my kidlit The Good Pirate (currently only $0.99). Thank you, Ashley!

Imagination Inspiration

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My review of The Good Pirate by Anita Kovacevic

Rating: 5 Stars

Review:

A wonderful story about a man who wants to be a pirate and find buried treasure for the woman he loves. The questions at the end of each chapter and word games at the end of the book are perfect teaching tools for teachers and parents alike.
A nice, short read for young children.

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Gratitude

To all those who have helped me, one way or another, to get my new #children’s book Spikes for Hank out there – THANK YOU. In these unkind times, your #kindness and support are not taken lightly and will be reciprocated. I am happy to report the #book has been uploaded to Lulu.com this morning, in both #e-book and #paperback form, and I am waiting for my #proof #copy to arrive. Fingers crossed!

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Telling it like it is;)

So I’m finishing the final touches on the new children’s book I am about to publish, and I safely remove my flash drive and check the time.

‘Oh-oh, I should go make salad for lunch,’ I say.

My 7-year-old daughter looks at me with a frown and a cynically raised eyebrow and says:

‘So what are you doing here stalling at the computer?!’

I’m telling you, there’s never been such a general before. 

PS: That’s her in the photo, improving on my sketch of the Indominus Rex.

#lovemykids #parenting

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Expanding my network

If you like to browse for books on Readers Gazette, you can now find most of my books there as well:). Excited? You bet I am!

It is amazing to see how far the small and rare steps can take you. There are times I want to just give it all up, just stop battling with the constant lack of time, being tired and overwhelmed with teaching, family, and all the Murphy-law stuff life has a tendency to bring on, but then again – so many people support me, without pushing, that it would be ridiculous not to at least pace myself and do my best.

So one step more in my dream direction…


http://readersgazette.com/

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Readers Review Room

Congratulations to Traci Sanders on pushing forward with the Readers Review Room! I’ve found many wonderful #books there and am proud to be included in the #reviewers’ team! So happy to say that the #readers/reviewers at RRR are volunteers of all ages who get to read vetted books for no charge and write honest reviews. 

Thinking of applying? Email form

The exclusive newsletter is out.  Congrats to Karen J. Mossman, author of the month, and to all the reviewers who volunteer their time to support authors write more books and excel! 

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