Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

And still growing…

​Just been putting together a piece for a website which would like to feature my books, and needed to take a step back and breathe deep.

A couple of years ago, this was just a childhood dream, almost forgotten. So many things have happened in these last years, both lovely and not so lovely, as life tends to go, but through the support of my loved ones and encouragement from friends and teaching colleagues, a childhood dream is seeing light. Thank you all!

And I am still only learning! Still teaching, too, but learning, growing and dreaming stories!

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Scars & Souvenirs – upcoming release by Rocky Rochford

Rocky Rochford, a highly creative author whose work I have already presented on this blog (see here) , has a new release coming at the end of August this year. Here are some details about the book, provided by Rocky Rochford…

Scars & Souvenirs is a collection of 10 short, emotional thrillers that cover tales of loss, heartache and regrets that just won’t let go. (It does contain some language and graphic, and a number of scenes that pertain to suicide, blood, and murder.)

Book Title:  Scars & Souvenirs

Book Series:  A Collection by Rocky Rochford

Publisher: Solstice Publishing

Book Type:   Collection/Anthology

Word Count:  16771

Genre:  Emotional Thriller

Format: Ebook & Print

Purchase Links: (None at this time as the book is due for release on August 26th 2016)

Book Content Rating: Adult!!! Contains swearing, scenes of death, depression and suicide.

Tag-line: “Darkness has many forms and Mares is its playground.”

Blurb:

Every scar tells a story, a tale of loss, or a tale of regret. The scars on my arms an echo of when times were hard. The scars on my eyes of the dreaded horrors I can never unsee. The scars on my soul a lasting memory of the sins that tore my soul apart. The scars on my heart from a love forever lost. The scars on my wrists, the end result of a failed attempt to end a life of brokenness. Each scar is a story.  A story begging to be told. 

Extract:

“You will bleed. You will cry. You will love and you will say goodbye to all those you hold dear. Life is repulsed by shadow and you reek of it. I’m looking forward to watching the show.”

His words made perfect sense.

Of course they would—they were my own.

Words I would tell myself when I was all alone.

The Devil knows all.

Especially the one that sits on your shoulder.

In the depths of your soul.

“Your wound isn’t deep and the knife didn’t hit anything vital. You will go on to live, knowing this is what you do to people. The poison that flows through your veins always finds a way to push those you hold dear away, no matter how hard you try to cling to them. You are the villain, John, and the villain is destined to fail.”

He reached out and grabbed me. His hands on my throat squeezed and then he began to drag me. The world I had left returned.

As did the sound of my heart beating.

And the air in my lungs.

My eyes opened.

I gasped.

The Devil had come to drag me to Hell, but like he said for the likes of me. There is only one kind of Hell, the life of an endless nightmare I live on a daily basis.

He dragged me back to my old life.

A life of scars.

****Here concludes today’s extract, for more check out the full collection when it releases next month. ****

Feel free to get connected with Rocky Rochford on any of the following site locations:

Facebook

Twitter: @RockyRochford

Wattpad

Goodreads

Personal Website:  rockyrochford.wordpress.com

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Average Daydreamer goes places

Renowned thriller author Joe Brewer (check out his Shug Sato mysteries) has been a most gracious host to my new novel AVERAGE DAYDREAMER.
Fun Summer Reading – http://wp.me/p647lz-zf

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A TURTLE’S MAGICAL ADVENTURE by Wanda Luthman – my review no.61


What a lovely children’s book with the eternal message of learning to love yourself for who you are!

The little turtle Tad, depressed by being so slow, decides to follow advice from a snake and get rid off his shell which slows him down, by asking a wizard for help. His adventures and conversations with other animals and creatures are truly charming, and carry within them an old-fashioned sound of unrushed thought, pure curiosity and simple life’s wisdom. The message is positive overall, as it leads the main character, and hopefully the reader or listener (as this is a story to be read to little ones) to the same conclusion – that we are each unique and need to accept ourselves with all our abilities and shortcomings. Tad’s friend the gnome teaches him this very powerful lesson, which she herself has learned through hardship and mistakes, but it hasn’t made her bitter, selfish or depressed. If you read the story to a very sensitive child, a little warning spoiler- the final chapters contain slightly more scary scenes, in which Tad will find himself in life-threatening situations but come through, so just prepare yourself to explain and discuss. The scenes emphasize the message and also show the importance of true friendship.

Your eye will be caught immediately by a most charming cover introducing you to the main character. Within the book itself though, each chapter is decorated with a single image. It is not that the story itself requires images – every child has enough imagination to create worlds of their own, it’s just that the cover is so lovely that you wish for the theme to follow throughout the book.

The author’s style has a lovely pace and language; she chooses character names carefully, uses lots of details from the nature which set the scene for children and enhance the feeling of travelling and adventure, and wisely explains how each creature learns to accept and even enjoy their faults and virtues – the snail always has a home, the duck can swim more easily, the worm enjoys the cool mud, etc. The vocabulary is not too simplistic and contains words you might need to explain to a child, but isn’t that what reading is for – to learn and communicate? The dialogue is lovely and rich, and can be used for role-play. And, as someone said, if children can say carcharodontosaurus, then don’t be afraid to use big words with them.

The story therefore lends itself to reading, story-telling, drama and teaching, and, being a teacher myself, I can already hear myself telling the story to my students aged 4-10, using a slightly different approach with different age groups, and I cannot wait to hear their questions, suggestions and conclusions.
This is a book I will gladly recommend to all my friends who are parents and/or teachers, and happily read to my own child as well.

This review was written for the Readers Review Room, and the highest rank in that review site is the gold bookworm. I am happy to say this is a goldie!

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Average Quote

When picky girls check out guys. Hmmmm… picky?;)

#summer #chicklit #romance #relationships

Book link http://tinyurl.com/z2zrsbb

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Average Quote

Just a city girl looking for love…

#summer #chicklit #romance #relationships

Book link 

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AVERAGE DAYDREAMER – new romance

It gives me child-like joy to be able to present my new book, a light summer romance Average Daydreamer. 

By the way, do not be fooled if you are asked to define your age before seeing and/or purchasing the book;). No violence, no SM, but the mention of certain female upper body part ​makes it eligible for adult content. Funny!
Still, it’s just an old-fashioned tale about a girl searching for perfect love! Romance and laughter!

THE BLURB

Priscilla is happy being a successful, single, business woman. Or is she? 

With her best friend’s wedding approaching, she finds herself constantly daydreaming about romance with perfect men – doctors, firemen, secret agents, sexy chefs. Aiming for perfection, she tries to ignore an ordinary guy she sees every day and makes her feel… something. 

When perfection finally comes, she finds herself torn between her dreams and the reality. Perhaps dreamy perfection is just not something that ticks all her boxes. Are couples supposed to be perfect or are average relationships the stuff of life?

The ebook and paperback of AverageDaydreamer have been published via Lulu.com on 22 July, 2016, and should be active on all major purchase sites within 2-4 weeks.

Ebook link on Lulu

Paperback link on Lulu 

Average Daydreamer is a light chicklit romance novel. WORD COUNT: 65,734 words (give or take the intro and bio;)

SNEAK PEEK from Chapter 1 – NO BORDERS

‘Bam!’

A bomb goes off near the hospital shelter and I cover my ears with blood-crusted hands. It doesn’t deafen the noise of the battle, but it comforts me for a second. I peek through a crevice on the heavy metal door. I manage to discern Dr Bronson’s silhouette through the flashes of guns, fire blazing around and clouds of wind-swept ashes masking the horrors of war. 

His muscular torso rises from a pile of smouldering planks, piles of broken furniture pieces, and dead bodies.

The other nurses and the children behind me are all crouching in the farthest corner, crying and comforting each other, already giving up on Dr Bronson. But I know he’ll make it! 

I watch as he rises from the tragic scene like a phoenix. He starts to move towards the shelter. Towards me! I know he knows I will not give up on him. He knows I’ll wait. We’ve been through so much these past few months in Medics without Borders, and we rely on each other without reserve. 

His strong arms are tired but he still manages to pick up and carry a child, a wounded boy, dodging bullets and moving towards me, unswayed. 

Ten steps more… seven steps… 

Guns blaze again, louder than before. He falls! Half-blinded by the flash, I see him falter. My heart feels as if a samurai sword slashed it in two… I hear nothing else. My breathing gets so loud and deep that it muffles the war and the nurses who are trying to hold me back.

My hands open the shelter door and I run outside, desperate and fearless with love. 

Dr Bronson’s body lies on the ground, lifeless and not moving, like an impenetrable shield over the child’s body. 

My heart skips a beat, but then I hear a faint breath.

Dr Bronson lifts his head and our eyes lock. Oh relief!

When our arms intertwine, our breathing is in sync. He rises, resting on my shoulder for support. His leg is badly injured, but he still won’t leave the boy. Together, we carry the child back to safety, through the wind-swept ashes and the mind-numbing noise…

***

Three months later, in our beach lodge on a secluded tropical isle, I place the breakfast tray on the white bedstand. He is still sleeping, arms stretched across both pillows, face rested and his full lips forming a sexy smile. 

My Dr Bronson!

Ocean waves gently caress the sandy shore as I remove the immaculate, semi-trasparent curtains from the wall-to-wall windows.

I hear his breathing change. His husky voice calls to me.

‘Good morning, Mrs Bronson!’

I turn around, proud and in love, my bare feet savouring the deep, fluffy white carpet. 

Oh what a heavenly man! And all mine. 

He stretches like a powerful tiger across the white sheets and his naked body makes me tremble. The mischief in his eyes is irresistible! My lips quiver and my knees feel like jelly. My thumb strokes the wedding ring from the inside of my palm.

I smile, conveying to him everything he already knows and feels himself, and more. My throat goes dry as I feel myself pulled to his muscular torso like a magnet. 

He taps the bed gently. My tongue draws a wet layer over my lips. 

I can’t wait. I step forward and…
‘Thump,’ I fell from the tram seat, my face gluing itself flat on the floor, next to a set of smelly, overworn sneakers, my hands too busy clutching on to my purse instead of protecting the face.

 Reality check! A major one! 

I spit the filth and drool from my mouth, and struggled to unglue my forehead from the floor. 

TO BE CONTINUED (read the book)

And there it is! I hope you like it. If, by chance, you do read the book and like it, I’d be grateful for a review!

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Average Daydreamer has arrived!

​Just published a new book via Lulu.  

Details, link & cover soon:) Happy & tired. The internet connection was lost a dozen times during uploading! Frustrating.

Off to sleep on it. Daydreams do come true.

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Nervous

​Woke up at dawn. Most of the family still sleeping, so I’m stealing time for Average Daydreamer. Going through final edits and proofreading. Butterflies in my tummy.

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SONG AT DAWN by Jean Gill – my review no.60

There are so many aspects which earn this book a great review – from the attention to each detail in the big picture, to the gorgeous settings, a myriad of lifelike side characters, heroes and heroines you will love, villains you will despise and fear, and complicated social, religious and political relationships pulling at everyone’s chords. 

When I started writing the review, it was like retelling a great book or movie to a friend – I kept remembering more details and qualities I wanted to draw attention to, which you can see from the length of the review itself. But bear with me! Song at Dawn made history come to life for me and I love that. 

Following the main characters through cliffhanger dangers and passionate romance not once lost its power when the author explained the political and religious turbulences, court intrigue or social customs of the time. Blending fact and fiction into a beautiful painting, with a memorable hero and heroine, each unique and striking in their own turn, is masterful. Missing sleep to chase after Dragonetz and Estela was no problem for me! The rulers, both female and male, are so fascinating, and I was in awe of Ermengarde’s strategy, especially at the end of the book, and found Alienor intimidating (I wonder what she does in book 2).

ESTELA

The author creates such a great concept of the heroine, ripening from girl into womanhood through turmoil. What a brave and interesting idea introducing her attitude towards sexual relationships so that she compares herself to a man and goes after what she wants. At first it is far from what she pictured though. As she searches for her own place under the sun, she makes blunders and successes, and you feel that you too grow with her. One of my favourite parts of the book is Gilles’s lesson to Estela on glamour and true quality using knives as illustration. It is a lovely morality tale, inserted to show the critical thinking Estela was brought into. When she learns about the life of a lady in the Queen’s entourage, this is what she says.

‘You do know how to behave like a lady?’‘Yes,’ but that didn’t mean she would always do so, Estela promised herself.
When she first meets Dragonetz and he becomes her mentor, it is quite memorable, and sums her up pretty well. 

‘I want to teach you everything I possibly can,’ he told her simply and saw the irritation dissolve. ‘Do you want to learn or to be a table decoration?’

Estela is fearless but not reckless. ‘She was too interested in all that was offered to her hungry mind to take refuge in the coward’s fear of the unknown.’ 

When she starts being aware of her feminine powers, she is amazing.
‘This favour is mine to bestow where I will. If your spirit is free, would you wear this for me, in token of your loyal service, be willing to protect me should there be need, whether my name or my body, and ,’ she paused and looked him straight in the eyes, ‘and expect nothing in return, nothing whatsoever.’

The way she learns to accept her arranged marriage is a clear sign of her strength, and how she respects true friendship with both women and men is phenomenal. And when she loves…

 ‘She had learned to read his face and his tone, not just the words he chose.’

DRAGONETZ

The main hero, Dragonetz, a charming troubadour and the leader of the Queen’s guards, is a fascinating character, depicted in so many layers and defined by his actions, but what I found particularly interesting about him is his thirst for knowledge, his ability to see the big picture and dream bigger than one might expect. He is a true romantic in all aspects, not just regarding women. Not that everything goes according to his plan, but he truly is a striking man. Details of his behaviour are woven into the story so wonderfully. For instance, this tiny detail in a turbulent chapter when his horse’s death is merely a tiny event in the whole turmoil.
‘…​the question for Dragonetz was not whether horses had souls, but whether men did.’

His relationships with his men, his Arab friend, his ability to dance the thin line between the court ladies and his own heart, his assigned enemies and his distinction between right and wrong, are simply amazing. To be able to step back from all that and never yield to arrogance towards anyone shows real strength. Yep, book crush, what can I say!

THE AUTHOR & THE BIG PICTURE

I admire the author, who takes her time to develop the characters, the romance, mystery and intrigue, with no rush, no prescribed writing, not aiming for sales but staying loyal to her characters. In these modern times, writing in such a non-sensationalist way is kind of like riding a horse – you get there slowly, but you do enjoy the scenery. Because sensations, shocks, intense emotion, gore and intimacy are not lacking – they ooze throughout the story, but grow out of the events naturally, not forced.The details are impeccable – from the tender scene of Dragonetz combing Estela’s hair to the horribly striking scene of a girl tortured in noble halls. The author’s style is truly special and I have bookmarked so many beautiful quotes. There is a sound distribution of descriptions, serenity and action, and Jean Gill writes excellent dialogues. Here is an example of that, illustrating the delicate relationship between Queen Alienor and Dragonetz. As he asks her to give him leave from her service, and she summons him to one last task, a really dangerous one…

‘You don’t make my life easy, do you,’ was all he said. ‘I thought that was what you liked,’ she responded but her heart wasn’t in the banter and he left her sitting hunched in her chair , a foreshadowing of the old woman she would one day become.

The silent moments matter too. After a lengthy conversation between the Queen and her close friend, the ruler of Narbonne, this scene is so important.

‘…the silence told as much of the relationship between the two women as their free speech.’

The conflict beween religion and politics is timeless, and the following quote caught my eye.

‘…perhaps today’s heresy will be tomorrow’s reason.’

Jean Gill’s approach to historical details is admirable. There are so many delicate details described lovingly with respect for history, culture, tradition and character.
“No doubt some serious application of lemon paste would be part of the royal sojourn at Narbonne. Estela sighed, knowing that she could scrape her skin to the bone and it would remain the same smooth olive she was born with.”

I loved the mention of scientists, artists, farming, medicine and libraries. It reminded me of books by a Croatian author M. J. Zagorka who wrote about Croatian history in a similar, life-like way and made me love learning history. 

OVERALL 

Historical fiction, if done well, such as this, makes history alive, makes you feel for the people from the period, makes you curious about their customs, achievements and lives. You feel as if you’ve travelled in time and are lost into the book.

Despite the complicated political maze, which I sometimes got lost in (but I do in real life, so that was to be expected), I was amazed by the seemingly little things such as discovering the reason for the huge ladies’ entourage to the Queen – eavesdropping on their gossip to distill information about their families and/or use them as leverage in negotiation. Another shocking revelation was Estela’s attitude towards marriage as freedom, at only 16, because it did mean that at the time for a girl her age, financial security, status and the possibility of court service and proper education she may have not gotten otherwise. I still cannot decide on my favourite character, but Arnaut, Malik and Sancha rank high up there with Estela and Dragonetz. My most hated one is clear, but am not giving away the name – spoiler alert! 

What I particularly loved about the book is that it awoke in me the feeling of romance, so dulled by day-to-day activities, and it revived my interest in history. For a historical romance, I believe it achieves its goal perfectly! Book 2 is already in my kindle.

This review will be added to the Readers Review Room  and by their ranking system, it deserves (more than) the gold worm.

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