Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

ADITI KAUSHIVA – 26 – my review no.8

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Some may say publishing short stories is easier than compiling an intricate novel, but I dare them then to be brave enough to set before themselves the challenge this beginner author has.
26 is a collection in which each story is inspired by a certain colour or shade, which is a beautiful concept in itself. However, the author’s mission is also to tell the stories from different perspectives and tackle some serious social and political topics, as well as those dealing with the most private and intimate details of a person’s life. Some stories are told in the first person and have a highly lyrical tone, and these are the ones in which the author’s style is most relaxed and strongest. Breaking up a relationship, saying goodbye to a child you lost, sibling relationships – these are all told with a particularly gentle voice, highly emotional and romantic. Some stories, however, deal with highly provoking topics such as prostitution, child molesting, betrayal, political riots, sexual orientation and animal abuse. This is where the author shows true potential and makes us wonder how her style and passion will develop after this brave first publishing. Although the impression the stories leave on the reader may vary in strength, probably also dependant on the reader’s own taste and experience, it is fascinating to read how the author creates this patchwork of topics and moods, all connected with her own voice. Let me share some of my favourites. Black, No More!  is the one in which a girl changes her black clothes into colourful as she finally gains confidence to stand up for herself, and it is a story where the author talks about serious social issues, not aggressively but from an intimate point of view. Grey Powder is a dialogue about drug abuse, and despite it not being a lyrical peace, it shows tons of promises about what we can expect from this author in the future. The Jade Mandarin Ducks is one of the stories which has potential as a novel, about a married couple facing problems of betrayal and forgiving each other and themselves. Scarlet Autumn gives a short image of an orphan’s melancholy and does for the story what a haiku does for a poem. My absolute favourite if Bleeding Ivory, a heart-breaking love story about…. no, please read it for yourselves. It’s worth it! I did expect a bit more colour, but perhaps it’s just that the collection would be a fantastic gift if illustrated or accompanied by photos. All things considered, this author has created a unique and challenging collection of stories, bravely tackling striking areas of our world, and it will be a pleasure to watch her fine-tune her style and develop as an author.
Book available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00SCS2P1O

Anita Kovacevic

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THE DAY WHEN EVERYTHING WENT BADLY – story flash

You will never believe the kind of day I had yesterday. I wouldn’t wish it on my boss, and I really don’t like my boss. It started out horribly, but at the end of the day, when I sat down to retell it to my friend, we actually had quite a few laughs at my expense. Here’s what happened…

My alarm clock sounded at 05:10, because I had something to do for work on the other side of the town, and had to catch an early train. I was so terribly sleepy that I put on two different shoes, and I wore my vest over my shirt, and my trousers over my bottom pyjamas. Needless to say I washed my face with ice-cold water, brushed my teeth with hair mousse, and styled my hair with tooth-paste. Goes without saying that I forgot to eat breakfast, so I only bought a hot dog from a street vendor (who looked at me as if I was crazy) before jumping on to the first train I saw, and naturally – the hot dog ended right under the tracks, the mustard in my hand and all over the conducter whom I bumped into before managing to grab a seat. When I looked out of the window, I was shocked at how dark it still was. Wasn’t it supposed to be getting daylight by now?

Anyway, I came to our branching firm only to find the door ridiculously closed, and I knew it wasn’t Sunday or Christmas, so I became really furious. Nobody’s going to mess with my early morning naps!!! I called up my boss (who had sent me on this mission), and got the most horrible yelling lesson from him for waking him up at – get this – 4 a.m…. When he hung up and I thanked my lucky stars I still had my job. I stopped for a second, still hung up on his time frame. I looked around, checked the clock on my cell phone, and realised my alarm clock must have been turned up-side down. I had actually woken up at 01:50 at night!!!!! Serves me right for not dusting now and then to notice such things… I sat down on a bench in front of the office building and noticed the way I looked in the glass walls. Not much could be done about it now, since there were no trains in the world that could get me home and back in time, and I wasn’t going to fail this mission, especially after giving my boss that wake-up call. So I fixed what could be fixed, and dozed off waiting for the proper time…

But my ridiculous adventure didn’t end there. Oh no! It was too early in the day. A police stick woke me up poking my shoulder….

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(Feel free to finish any way you want. Keep it funny though. It is Friday;)

Anita Kovacevic

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KILLER HEADACHE – story flash 

Her stilettoes slid off her tired feet in the blur of a tumultous migraine. She screamed inside her brain, not letting out a peep. The noise would have been a blade poking at her eyes. The meeting had taken its usual course, work amounting on top of work, and flashes of her notes, the voice of her boss demanding more action and a rising hum filled her mind, all jumbled like a distorted TV image. The pain was excruciating and she felt as if someone had taken a spoon to dig out her left eye and push in the right.
She stumbled to the bathroom and latched on to the basin like life-rope. Icy water on her temples and neck disolved nothing but the remaining traces of her will power. Dragging her body to the bed and falling face flat into her pillow, she wailed unconsciously to silence the tinnitus which reigned in her ears.  Luckily, the dark curtains had been drawn. Light would flay her skin. She wished her migraine were a real person; she could think of a thousand ways she could punch, stab or torture it to avenge all these painful, mind-numbing moments. Despite all suggested remedies, her migraine visited her more and more often, unvinvited, unwanted, merciless. Throbbing drums bashed in her brain and she lost consciousness. 

Such peace! Complete silence! And power! She rose to her feet and felt… lighter than ever. She was  neither cold nor hot. Clothes felt scratchy. As she rose and took a deep breath, her exhale disolved her clothes into a pile of silvery dust on the floor. Her skin was flaky yet elegant, like silver dragon scales covering her from head to toe. She felt sleek and sexy, and mischief sparkled on her lips.
She walked quietly, like a cat, and entered the bathroom. The mirror was waiting, eager to see her.    
She approached it. Her eyes gained several colours all at once and her smile was happy. She glided her scaly hand over her hairless, crest-crowned head. No fear, no shock. She felt herself. At last.  
She stroked the reflection of her cheek, and her fingers blended into the mirror as if it were made of liquid. She tilted her head, curious. She wondered… She turned around and walked, calmly and steadily, through the walls of her house. They felt like mere ocean waves, carressing her silvery silhouette. Interesting.  
She walked into the night, ready to take on the world.

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Anita Kovacevic

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NO DAMAGE by Kathryn Hodgson – my review no.7

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Autobiographies and memoirs have never really been my thing, and it would take something really special to draw me to them. No Damage had that. It is not only special because it takes a positive outlook on the life of a woman in her thirties, a life not without its troubles and turmoil, but because of how openly and inobtrusively the author lays out the details of her life, take it or leave it, knowing and risking the fact that everyone who reads the book will know some of her most intimate decisions in life. Authors do draw inspiration from real life, but those who would openly share their own living moments and insecurities are rare. I am not saying whether it is good or bad, I am simply saying that it took a lot of guts to ‘bare it all’ in order to ‘bear it all’, so to speak. I absolutely understand the purging process writing out your misfortunes and fortunes can have, but to then publish it all is a venture that takes a very special person indeed. The author shares with us moments we can all identify with – a serious illness in the family, odd relationships, questioning our career choices, adoring our pets, embarassing moments in which we were far from what we’d be proud of, sadness and grief, reinventing yourself in an effort to be who you dreamed you would be, and the eternal struggle to keep your head above water without clinging on to others for support. The style is even, developing funny moments reminiscent of Bridget Jones (the whole book is diary-like in a way), wonderful descriptive passages (my absolutely favourite part is the description of the drive to her parents’ home, filled with loving memories), and utter sadness as her mother’s cancer progresses. The failed relationships are described very openly, never laying blame on the partner, but learning to live with the facts, whatever they may be.
There were moments I could personally identify with, some I couldn’t, but it didn’t diminish the beauty of the author’s honest storytelling. The upbeat, non-judgmental and non-preaching tone, as well as the uncompromising honesty throughout the narrative are really what makes this book unique.

Anita Kovacevic

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TREES – poem flash

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I saw this picture on pinterest and words just talked to me…

Anita Kovacevic

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THE MASTER OF MIMICRY – story flash

Our captain took us on an away mission to this unusual planet we had never met with before. Our ship was slowly circling the orbit while slight repairs and maintenance were being made, so we practically made good use of the time. The planet had by then not been charted, so we scanned the surface for life forms, but, other than plant life, there was nothing noticeable to worry us at all. We packed up the necessary equipment and set out in our shuttle.

 Once on the surface, we checked our oxygen tanks, masks and protective suits. Everything was in perfect condition. Our special boots, adjustably magnetising for zero-gravity areas, were pulled on and we only had our microphones to test. Making sure they worked properly, we opened up the hatch and went outside. We could walk well, there was enough gravity, but we kept the masks on, because the air check had shown traces of sulphor. We didn’t dare scatter yet, till we made sure it was safe. We walked through a patch of desert-like surface into an oasis of plant life and the captain told us to start scanning the plants for components, ground, energy, etc. We each chose one of the big plants to examine. They weren’t exactly gigantic, but when you stood before one, it was about human-size. They were colourful and had thick leaves. As for the scent, we couldn’t really smell them normally, but the scanner showed a presence of a strong fragrance in each. Five minutes of scanning and something completely unusual happened…

 The plant before me started transforming, calmly, non-violently, changing into a human-like figure. Gradually it gained distinct features and it looked exactly – well, like me. It was like looking at myself in the mirror. I was almost paralysed with surprise at first, but then turned around to call out for my team-mates. Two amazing and scary things happened – all the plants were mimicking their explorers, and my plant repeated my exact words, in my exact tone of voice, and… moved exactly like me. When my team-mates tried to answer me, I became completely puzzled, because their plants mirrored their voices and movements. The mimicry was so rivettingly perfect that I could no longer tell who the real humans were, and who  the alien plants. They even replicated the equipment, so the scanner showed human life form when I turned it to myself, and human life forms as I turned it toward my mirror-plant and all other life forms around me. I quickly ran to one of the plants that hadn’t been scanned, and the process was repeated – there were now three of me running around, all with exactly the same DNA, voice, movements, equipment, everything. I could see my team-mates trying to do the same and getting the same results. Panick struck like lightning from a clear sky. We had come here to find new life forms, and lost our own selves.

 Suddenly we saw a giant reflective surface about a kilometre away, raising from the ground like an enormous wall. We all ran towards it, humans and mirror-plants (not quite sure which was which or who was who). It was like a huge, skyscraper-size mirror. As we stopped before it, it spoke…

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Anita Kovacevic

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THE GUITAR – story flash

As he stroked the strings of his guitar, pouring his mood, willingly or not, into each note and rhythm, the wooden body of the instrument started to change its colour.
Winding spirals of brown framed the body, as his sadness soaked the first verses, and as turquoise hope echoed through the bridge, peacock feathers lightened up the design. When his loving chorus gave way to his passion, the designs blended into a beautiful pattern, and a powerful golden shade of yellow glowed from within the guitar.
He couldn’t see this. He was blind. But she wasn’t.

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Anita Kovacevic

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THE BOOK ELF – story flash

He would sit in the corner of the old bookshop window, collecting dust and observing passers-by with a child-like curiosity and an old man’s cynicism.
At night, he would allow himself to walk around a bit, dust himself off and rearrange some books, returned to the wrong place on the shelves by customers. They were fewer and fewer, and the book elf hated the silence.
So one day he decided to read out loud. The book was so interesting that he lost track of time…

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Anita Kovacevic

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Check out this review of The Gargoyle – my review no.6

Here is a review by Anita: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1180037625

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Anita Kovacevic

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Check out this review of Hugless Douglas – my review no.5

Here is a review by Anita: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1180026160

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Anita Kovacevic

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