Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

The Magic of Reading


The image and quote above appeared on Facebook today and I completely agree with the quote. Deep reading, extensive reading, reading for fun or school/work, all kinds of reading help. Reading definitely only has positive effects on our intelligence, mental, social and emotional, but it is not only the stories themselves that do the trick.

The actual process of reading, sitting down with somebody you care about, whether it is your child, grandchild, student, or even an adult, is a wonderful experience – you share time, place, dreams, worlds… Children are especially open to gratitude – after a busy day, having their parent sit down and set this time aside only for them… there is nothing better than this! There is no better gift that you can give your child than your time and attention.

Of course, if you read and comment along with children, ask for their opinion and challenge them to think, expand on the topic and question things, it is even more worthwhile, but it is not always necessary. Sometimes you will be tired, you will skip words and they will correct you, they will stop you with questions, and you will really not feel like reading at all. But their questions, their corrections, their hillarious comments, all this will just magically wipe away your stress, make you smile and laugh, and forget about everything else.

It is the love they share with you in those moments.


The same goes with reading to and with adults. If you read with your partner, to your mother or father, to people who can no longer read to themselves, remember – we are all children at heart! Stories have that mysterious power of waking up that honest, non-constricted, free and imaginative child, dormant but present within us.


I have seen the magic of reading stories to all age groups, and would never trade in its power and positive effect for any technological or methodical device there is, much as I respect and use them in my teaching. Reading awakens playful freedom, sets emotions free and channels them, challenges the mind into critical and creative thinking, and lets us grow, develop and express ourselves.

So yes, children, meaning all of us, associate books with love and affection, because this is what we share when we read together.

And if you are ever lucky enough to have your child read to you, relish every second of that love.



Sometimes a thank you is in order

To all friends, readers, followers, reviewers..


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PRESUMED CROSSED OVER by Ica Iova – my review no.13


Presumed Crossed Over is a collection of ghost stories, spiced up with memories of legends from the author’s homeland Romania. The stories are perfect for Halloween fans, and I can just picture teenagers swapping them, reading them aloud with the flame of a flickering candle close by.

The stories are unconnected, except in genre, and each carries within a different setting and different characters. My favourite story was definitely The Haunted House, which made me think it had the potential of becoming a novella or even a novel, and when the end came, I wanted more. The atmosphere in each story is quite well-depicted, and I found it very interesting and impressive how the author used sounds and smells to add to the eerie mood. The feeling of fear is further emphasized because the human characters are average, everyday people: a medical student, a taxi-driver, a single mum, etc., whereas the ghosts remain just illusive enough to add the fear of the unkniwn to the picture. Although there were times when I felt some stories could have and should have gone further, I found them all interesting, easy to follow and envision, and I would say the author’s style is at its best in descriptive passages.

I am sure, as is often the case with scary stories, they inspire different levels of fear when you read them alone, or when you read them out loud, with dramatic pauses and voice changes, in the company of friends eager for a fun&fear-filled Halloween party. This book is perfect for that.

Presumed Crossed Over on Amazon

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EASY, LEAN & HEALTHY by Robert Lalonde – my review no.12


Safe warning or spoiler alert;) – this is NOT a popular cookbook or a magical quick fix for fitness freaks! This is a serious, non-fiction research and advice book on eating habits. Just wanted to clarify that!

Non-fiction can be difficult to read, especially if you are looking for a quick solution to your problem. There are no quick solutions to health problems, but there are lasting ones. As the author generously shares with readers his research into how food and our eating habits influence each and every single part of our body (hormones, blood, skin, muscles…), it is impossible not to be aware of how much we are influenced by it. And not only physically, because our energy levels affect our daily activities.

The book provides lots of information gained through research which is explained in detail, providing links, charts and documented sources, which might make it very useful for medical students, people interested in and learning about nutrition and medicine, as well as those whose illnesses have forced them into using so many pharmaceutical cures that they are looking for a less lab-created, and more natural chemical changes for their bodies. The author himself being a cancer survivor makes him a credible source. I agree that we can solve lots of our health issues by eating better and changing our routines.

I have been gifted this book in return for an honest review and welcomed the topic, as I too have been looking for a way to change some of my dietary issues. Although I would have liked a bit more personal writing approach from the author (simply because I belong to the general population without a medical background, and especially because his biography shows that this is his own personal experience), Ifound some of his research and explanations very interesting, useful and informative. For instance, the author explains the effects of salt in our bodies really clearly and effectively, as well as the connection of cortisol and stress, and does not only dwell on sugars, as most diet books do. Sections concerning diabetes were quite useful to me, having experienced it during pregnancy and having friends who suffer from it. The average reader might be prone to more photos and less science, but this is not a popular dietary recipe book, offering magical solutions with bombastic advertisement vocabulary. This book will not coax or cajole you with cute pictures or marketing persuasion – the author shares objectively all he has learned, and offers you his own solution, and it is up to you to try and see if the diet fits you. Do not read this for fun – read it to learn and question.

And even though I personally would slightly disagree with the author on the matter of exercise;), I believe this meticulous research into the way food affects our body’s strengths, health and longevity will find its target readers and prove to be a highly useful source of data and advice.

Find this book on Amazon

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“One for All, All for One” In the spirit of enlightened self-interest, all authors must share a generosity of spirit.

Mark Fine is a fascinating author I met, virtually, through a writers’ group on Facebook, and I have also had the pleasure of interviewing him. I hope you like what he has to say. All positive!

Mark Fine | Ruminations

“One for all, All for one,”—that’s the battle cry of Alexandre Duma’s “Three Musketeers”. I also believe this should be a guiding principle for us all in the Writing Community.

We are neither competitors 512px-The_three_musketeers_fairbanksnor rivals; we must set aside these preconceived notions, happily in fact we are colleagues. And by working together, collaborating together, we will all enjoy better chances of success. In a stripped down, basic vision, I see us as a kind of loose knit creative Co-op, a Kibbutz of self-publishing zeal where we all have talents, skills, influence, connections and chutzpah to contribute to this common (and admittedly sometimes self-serving) mission.


Why do I have confidence in this notion? First, we know one another, virtually. We have similar motivations. We share a similar respect for the written word (and hopefully for each other). Early_book_pressWe are thinkers, we are…

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The art of writing – learning to share

So many people, so many similarities:)!

The Writing Chimp

As a person who spent 20 years writing without another soul seeing it, I think its fair to say I am a self-proclaimed expert on the difficulty of sharing.

I think this is probably something many writers struggle with at first. That transition from ourinnermost thoughts being just that, to allowing them exposure to the light of day and the critical assessment of others.

It’s daunting, I get that. Really, I do.

10410610_931654273528561_2198993264378937219_nWhy do you need to share? Why do you write?

This is the first question you need to answer before you go any further. If you have no aspirations to publish or simply love to write but have no desire to do anything more, then you should feel no burden orneed to share. For a lot of my twenty years writing I was exactly this, happy to write, no burning need for it to go anywhere orbe seen…

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Oh happy day!

It started as a mere story, a doodle, something a kid would write, something like this…


And then another story and another, and they kept making me think they belonged together, and I felt it but didn’t see it.

Until one day – it all finally clicked! Chapter after chapter, character after character, scene after scene, my stories grew into a novel. And now, 34 chapters and four years later, I am one chapter away from the first, rough draft of a complete novel. An amazing feeling! And the work has only began;)!

From a seed to a tree, from a tree to a forest…


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Happy Father’s Day to all the good dads!


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STANDING ON A WHALE by B. J. Tiernan – my review no.11


Mind over matter

The first thing you see when you look at a book is its cover, whether you judge it or not. Standing on a Whale is wonderfully wrapped in a very serene cover, but it was the title that caught my attention. A phenomenal metaphor on what matters in life, and how we see ourselves, gives a clue to the real topic of the book, although it is skilfully woven into the intriguing plot and revealed at the very end of the story.

If you are looking for a fast-paced, action thriller brimming with sensationalism, gore and sex, this is not the book for you. There are sensational ideas, there is a thrilling socio-political intrigue, but all serving as backdrop for something else.

This is one of those books you do not rush through, but stop and ponder the chapters and ideas, as you follow a prominent doctor, Lance Stavros, on his path from near suicide to rediscovering himself. From the gripping opening (spoiler alert – a shocking revelation that he contemplated suicide even as a boy), through a complete change in his life, you will find yourself warming up to the man, as cold and distant as he may seem to you (and to himself) at first.  

As Lance takes care of a mystic who motivates the doctor to change his own life and make some choices, you are led into a merciless political power-play, stopping at nothing, not even taking life when threatened by all that which is different and promotes critical thinking. Lance’s life is shaken to the core, but he finds himself fighting for it. As you discover his relationships with people, past and present, his detached and tormenting family life, and the way other people perceive him, you realize that Lance, like so many of us, has a complete misconception of himself, underestimating himself every step of the way and not living to his fullest potential. The mystic, Hadden, as impressive as mystics get, never steals the show, guiding Lance with his public lectures and their private conversations about politics, love, religion, choices. Yet, just when you think Lance is getting too dependent on Hadden, life changes the conditions of their bond and shows us that every choice is our own.

As you read, like with the flow of tide, you swim through philosophical lectures on life and real life-threatening situations, and just like in life, reading those talks elates you and/or disturbs you, pointing out the painfully obvious problems of human society and the wonders of our capabilities.

The characters are lively and convincing, even the mystical Hadden, whose physical ailments make him as vulnerable and ephemeral as the rest of us, despite his enormous positive energy and an amazing mind. The myriad of people, from the passer-by waiters at a restaurant, to Lance and the enigmatic women in his life, is brimming with life, some quite untypical – there is a wise teenager, a caring lawyer, a kind civil servant. The author possesses an amazing lightness of telling, using rich vocabulary but uncomplicated syntax, which is easy to follow, and balances narration and dialogue  with action and description. I especially liked the vivacious detailed descriptive passages of Greece, the market place, the restaurant, Hawk’s Landing, Layla’s estate.

If you find yourself, or know anyone who is at a turning point of their life, tired of the stress and constant quickening, this is the book for you. If you dare to step out of your comfort zone and venture a meditative story, not devoid of reality but not consumed by it, this is the book for you.

And for all its almost tragic beginning, and some real tragedies and twists throughout, once you read the last line and remember the beginning, you realize what a journey Standing on a Whale has been. ‘Anything is possible, anything at all…’

Book on Amazon

Anita Kovacevic

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