Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

There are days when you feel proud

Today was the second day of school for my kids – both first graders, one primary, the other one secondary school. Still a long way ahead of us, but my husband and I are proud to have good kids, and all we can do is keep trying to do right by them, provide what they need and hope life, education systems, politics and money do not diminish their beautiful sparks which make them who they are.

Today was also the day I presented a very good friend and highly respected colleague with a paperback of my children’s book Spikes for Hank, after which she sent me a photo of her son reading it. It is the first book in English he is reading by himself, which makes me especially proud seeing as English is his second language. 

Today was one of those days at work which do not really make me happy, which make me wonder why rude and loud people always blackmail their way into getting what they want… one of those days when you either lose it or keep your cool. To be honest, I tried to keep my cool so as not to spread negativity even further. What makes me proud about this ugly part of the work day? I didn’t bring it home. It stayed where it was. 

Some days it works.

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DEAR DIARY by Susan Horsnell – new release

Karina Kantas has recommended me a new children’s book. The topic is battling bullying from an early age, and it is based on a true event. I thought some of you may be interested as well. Here is the info provided by the author.

DEAR DIARY,

Rebecca is an eleven-year-old girl whose father has taken a job in a new town.

This means she is forced into a new school.

Shorter than most her age, and not quite as intelligent, makes her a prime target for ongoing bullying.

The only thing she can trust in, confide in, is her Diary.

A story about the real danger of bullying which every child should read.

This story is fictional but based on a true to life event.

Buy Links:

EBook – Pronoun Publishing

https://books.pronoun.com/dear-diary/

Paperback

https://www.createspace.com/7478021

About the Author

I have written two children’s books during my career.

This is my second, dedicated to my nephew who took his own life just a few weeks after he turned twelve years old.

I have five grandchildren who are subjected to bullying, a coward’s way of displaying power over another and occurs at any age.

Hopefully through this book, both children and adults will learn how dangerous bullying can be. It’s not something which can be dismissed as a childhood ‘stage.’

My first book – Secret Beneath the House – is the story of two children left alone for the day. What they find under the house is another magical world.

I also write Best Selling/Award Winning Western Romance and Best Selling Contemporary Romance under a pen name.

I have been married for 43 years, have 2 married sons and 5 gorgeous grandchildren.

Hubby and I are retired and love to travel Australia with our caravan, our elderly Jack Russell dog – Caellagh (Kelly) and a very opinionated Cockatiel called Rocky.

You can take a look at my books through the following links:

Susan Horsnell Links

Blog: http://susanhorsnell.com

Web: http://horsnells.wix.com/susan–1

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/westernlovin/

A.L. Simpson Links

Website: https://alsimpson79.wordpress.com/

Blog: https://alandvixen.wordpress.com/  

FB:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1709862079031253/

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Everyone needs colour

Not sure if you’ve seen this video of Jim Carrey painting, sculpting and talking about what art means to him. All due respect to what he has achieved, I have never been much of a fan of his acting career, but this is a whole different dimension.

https://youtu.be/21CEOlBq2YI

So surprising and relatable. His words. His experience of art. 

ALL ART should be encouraged from an early age. It makes me so sad to hear people say Music and Art are unimportant subjects in schools. Children should be encouraged to dance, to draw, to sculpt, to write, to sing, to play instruments, to build… Creativity teaches not to destroy. It teaches empathy, freedom, understanding, acceptance, relaxation, proactivity, joy, sharing.

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FORTUNE KOOKIE by Jean Gill – my review

Well this was a surprise! Quite an unexpected turn of events in book 2. I read Left Out and loved it, so I eagerly awaited to read book 2 in the series. Mind you, even if you skipped book 1, you will have no problem reading this one.

The well-loved characters of Jamie and Ryan are back, along with a bunch of others – their families, friends and teachers. They have continued their development, and I relished the tiny nuances in character changes the author displayed. I was happy to see Kelly return, and little Sam’s addition to the cast is wonderful. Sorry to say little about him here, but I hate spoilers in reviews. Let’s just say he will put Ryan’s empathy to the test and earn your sympathies.

This time the story starts off with Jamie involving Ryan in yet another one of her projects. This time it involves saving her mother from her addiction to fortune-tellers, psychics and horoscopes, which mum spends tons of money on and hides from the rest of the family. 

Touching on very important issues of modern life, alienation, delusion, family secrets, fame searching, etc. the author could have just followed that storyline and her exquisite writing would have made it a great story. But she takes a risk and leads the story in quite a different direction, one twisting reality and magic, fact and fantasy, playing tricks with the characters and readers alike, which is a huge difference from book 1 in which the story revolves around their reality. I have to admit I hadn’t expected that, but I actually could not put the book down once Jamie discovered the power of her subconscious, and Ryan’s inquisitive nature led him into psychological experimenting with their friends. To put it briefly – keeping the story on the borderline between reality and fantasy is far from disappointing when Jean Gill wields the writing wand. 

Jamie’s confidence, instincts, intuition and strength will be tested in ways she could never have imagined, and yet – perhaps it is just the mind playing tricks on her, and us. When you set out to battle something and then find out that perhaps you yourself are part of it, it makes you question all your values, which is what happens to teenagers on a daily basis, even without the extra, paranormal challenges. As Ryan and Jamie search for a good career choice, it seems life finds it for them, just like the rest of us.

What I most admire is how the author weaves it all into a rich tapestry, leaving some to the interpretation (perhaps even to book 3?), and manages to logically connect issues such as young romance, hereditary faults and virtues, history, parental concerns, staleness in marriage, town traditions, tested friendships, science and magic, life, death and afterlife… and all this in a YA novel. Jean Gill makes you question, wonder, guess, feel, cheer for the characters. I want to know what Jamie plans to do next. I am interested in whether Ryan will manage to balance his intellectual side with his feelings. I wonder if Kelly and Gareth will remain together on their way to fame. And what of their parents, and Sam, and granny?
And on top of everything, was it all real;)? Shhhhh, no spoilers. Looking forward to book 3 and recommending this book to all teenagers, young adult readers, parents and educators, especially those with a flare for a bit of the paranormal in the normal.

This review was written for Readers Review Room and deserves a gold bookworm from this reader.

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MARGOT GETS AN UNEXPECTED VISIT by Lieve Snellings – my review

This book is a lovely approach to combining a children’s nature encyclopaedia of animals with a children’s story. 

Getting children to actually meet and communicate with Margot the Groundhog, thus being acquainted with forest animals, and also introducing the animal to human activities such as sports can easily be used in a classroom, or as fun reading for children who truly love nature. There is enough plot here for two separate books, so I do believe it would profit from being split into two parts or two books, and it would strengthen the focus of children on each of the aspects. The characters are lovely and children can relate to them.

Two aspects of the book give it that special flare – 1. beautiful photos of the nature and animals instead of illustrations (some are filtered and have additional sticker effects which the kids will find fun), 2. the obvious love the author has for nature and animals, and wants to convey that love to the children. The text is placed on the photos which sometimes makes it slightly difficult to read, but not so much it would deter you from the story. Considering the fact that the author is turning it into a series of adventures, this is a very promising start.

The overall layout and the intent of the book are commendable, and I can easily see it as a well-loved gift for any child aged cca 4-10 who enjoys nature and loves to discover facts about animals.

This review is written for the Readers Review Room, awarding the book the blue bookworm.

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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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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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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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Surprise!

A little surprise! Announcing my new children’s book by July/August 2017, these 2 ebooks are on special summer offer https://tinyurl.com/y864klzz! You might want to grab them – each has special activities for adults who read to/with kids or kids who read by themselves! 

#kidlit #childrensbooks

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Overwhelmed♡

Ever gotten this kind of a review/motivation for your book? Bev Tiernan, you are one of a kind♡. Everything this lady does is unique:) My first children’s book in rhyme (which should be out this summer), just got this poetic comment via email (posting here with author’s permission). 

Just read through your story

And read it with speed,

Don’t make any changes

There is no real need.

The characters are lovely

There’s no need for fright,

I love the cool ending

It all turns out right.

The lesson is taken

And taken so proudly,

One must spread the word

And yell it out loudly.

Whenever a flaw is in us at all

We must face it bravely

And follow our call.

So happy Hank did this and found his own way,

It just makes me want to shout out HOORAY!!!
B.J. Tiernan

Overwhelmed by huge support from fellow teachers and authors for my upcoming children’s book. You warm my heart and help me go on. Every second of your time is appreciated, and every line of (constructive) criticism, advice and praise is cherished. 

Especially now that the school year is in its finale, and all those who are teachers, like myself, know what a stampede that can be. I just squeezed this post amongst work phone calls, email trainee conferences, lesson planning, re-recording lesson music and stories, and I’m not even at work yet…. woohoo. Coffee time and then something exciting. 

Onwards and upwards!  Ready steady…

#amwriting #amteaching #newbook #kidlit

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