Anita's Haven

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Song Hereafter by Jean Gill – my review

All is well.

If I were able to write a brief book review, the line above would probably be the shortest ever but would cover everything.

After reading four books in this series, what I can definitely say, as a fan of this type of historical fiction and Jean Gill’s dedicated writing style, is that this is the perfect ending to a phenomenal series. And yes – all is well. The writing is excellent, the characters are strong, developed fully and with all facets and dimensions, the plot is strong and unfaltering, the details of historical research, descriptions and relationships, both private and political, are astoundingly vivid and intriguing. Now, you may read this book without having read the previous three, but why deny yourself the absolute literary and emotional journey of reading the entire series?

I remember thinking how exciting history can be while I was reading the first book. By the time I got to the fourth book, I was no longer thinking that, because Estela and Dragonetz, along with an entire myriad of splendid heroes and villains, were no history for me. They were real, they were vivid and alive, and closing the book after that last page felt like saying goodbye to friends. Yes, that’s the kind of book it is – you don’t read it, you live it.

I can honestly thank the author for alowing me to travel to all those distant places (old Wales is absolutely striking in this book), experience extraordinary customs and witness amazing events, but most of all – meet the admirable, passionate, courageous people (oops, characters) I will always miss. The great thing about books though is that you can always revisit them.

(You can read all my reviews for the Troubadours Quartet books, as well as some other great books by Jean Gill, here on this blog.)

Book link

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Yahooty Who? – my review

I stumbled upon this cute book in my search and downloaded it based on the very optimistic cover and blurb.

Although primarily driven by beautiful illustrations and a cute little house ‘elf’ Yahooty, the wonderful visual aspect of the story is accompanied successfully with lovely rhyme, which flows smoothly for the most part. The story itself does not contain a traditional plot, but is phrased as suggestive questions for the little readers (or listeners). I enjoyed the playful tone, lots of useful vocabulary which will help expand the children’s own, and the repetitive pattern which will definitely engage the kids.

Yahooty must be in kahootz with parents though, especially regarding certain house cleaning tasks, so a parent might even get the idea to get kids to help with cleaning in hopes of actually meeting Yahooty. Just sayin’;).

Book link

PS: found this on their Twitter:

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Meter of Corruption by Wolf Schimanski – my review

This is an action-driven, high-speed, adrenaline-filled thriller, with brutal villains and non-negotiable justice delivered upon them. Although the language style may not be my kind of music, this is the hard rock’n’roll for all thriller fans, stripped of linguistic fineries, but led by brutal plot twists and merciless characters, quite unique in their perception and delivery of justice. The action scenes are the strongest part of the writer’s arsenal, and it’s a great thing that this is only one part of a series, because his action fans will be hooked and want more.

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Seeing every tree – my book seen through the eyes of Jean Gill

This has been an extraordinary experience – being interviewed by a person I admire. Jean Gill drilled me about my book The Forest of Trees, but more importantly, about some life issues I consider very important.

Seeing every tree

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Plaint for Provence by Jean Gill – my review

(Warning : this is not going to be a short review. Books like this deserve all the respect a reader can provide. However, for those who enjoy short reviews – this is an etremely intriguing historical fiction about love, life and death. Read it, but it would be a shame to skip the first 2 books in the series.)

It took me a while to completely get into the book. At first I thought it was just my temporary mood, and trusting the process and all of Jean Gill’s books I’d read before (especially Song at Dawn and Bladesong, the first two in this series), I knew the story would grab me. And boy, oh boy, did it! To be honest, it is difficult to get it out of my head now.

By the time I was one third into the story, the feeling of the calm before the storm had crawled into my bones, and the faith of the characters seemed to rest solely on my ability to read it all till the end in one single read, which I practically did. And never regretted one second of my book-induced insomnia!

The growth of the characters from book 1 to this one, their relationships, political powerplay and the social changes are followed through perfectly. Estela and Dragonetz are fascinating in their strengths and weaknesses, their entrepreneurial spirit and the way they grow together as a couple but also individually. DeRancon and Hugues keep balancing the see-saw between good decision and wrong choices, constantly pulling at yournerves as they interact with others. Malik, Gilles and Sancha are so strong in their loyalty and staying true to themselves. The rulers, would-be rulers, nobility which is more or less noble, servants who remain below the radar actually pulling the strings from the shadows… all of this is written with precision, perfection and passion.

Just read the initial chapter to see what I mean – the interchange between measly messengers over a drink is so well guided – it shows the author’s authoritative command of researched historical facts, beautifully flowing syntax which abides by the vernacular of the time without losing its natural twists and turns, a phenomenal sense of showing the big picture through the simplest details and making history alive and exciting by engaging all of the reader’s senses – you can see their faces, smell the stench of travellers robes, hear the hushed voices eager to divulge their information but bound by secrecy, feel their excitement and fear at the impact of their news… And this is just chapter one! (Ending the book with another important messenger situation is a cliffhanger which will make you want to dive into book 4 immeditely.)

The introductions into chapters are something some readers might skip, but I particularly enjoyed them. Again, a sort of calm before the storm. As Estela’s interest in science and medicine grows, she reads all sorts of medical texts, which the author shares in introductory paragraphs very briefly, but so up to point that it would be a pity to miss them. Not only do they offer a glimpse into the way people of the time thought and lived, but the remedies and maladies mentioned often serve as an introduction into the events which follow, in a perfectly well-masked manner. The author pays a lot of attention to customs in this book (women’s medical issues, hunting and working with birds of prey, money making, etc.), but historical fact never turns this book into a history coursebook. In fact, it serves the story, builds it up and grows naturally with the plots and characters.

The intimate moments between characters, their sensuality, tenderness, debates, concerns, doubts, conflicts make you feel especially privileged to witness. I mean, you get to witness a liege talking to a ruler, a villain whispering a threat into your heroine’s ear in plain sight of a full court of noble guests.

After a while, you realize each and every chapter ends on a very cleverly planted cliffhanger which transports you into the next one and then the next one. Let me just repeat my own words from the time when I finished the first book – history has never been more exciting!

I cannot choose my favourite quote or my favourite character, although the punishment Hugues deserves from Estela for his sexual advances is still one of my favourite scenes. No more spoilers, I promise.

The ‘calm before the storm’ feeling, by the way, stayed with me till the very end, which shows the author’s genius as book four is out, so I am definitely getting it. Now!

Plaint for Provence

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THE DRAGON DREAMER by J. S. Burke – my review

Combining two of my most favourite elements, the ocean and fantasy, has certainly not put this author in an easy spot with me as a reader. My expectations were really high.

The author’s fascination with sealife is obvious, and it is intriguing how she intertwines it with the dragon world. There is so much lovely detail in the descriptions, and almost a science to it. I enjoyed the author’s comparison of the daily rituals of sea and dragon life with the human perspective. In fact, most of the story can be taken as a metaphor to our world, even the environmental issues, conflict and the importance of stories for the growth of a species. Although there are absolutely no human characters in this story (which took some time for me to get used to), all the characters and their relationships are developed well, with lots of love and respect. The weather threats and action sequences are intense, but it is the life described that I particularly enjoyed. This entire world has been created with amazing consistency and attention to detail.

The admirable symbiosys of skills from completely different creatures, shows us how humans should learn, united by a common goal – life on this planet. And how interesting it is that the author has both species celebrate and encourage art, creativity and healing, in contrast to humans! Dreamers they are, truly.

Any child or adult who loves to explore and go on nature adventures, will thoroughly enjoy comparing this fantasy world to nature lessons at school. Teachers could find it useful in dealing with biology, environment, even art. If your child has the heart of a zoologist, oceanologist, artist, and is a fantasy fan, this book might just be perfect for them.

What I especially liked in the story is the strong emphasis on learning and communication – each species can learn from another when willing to communicate.

Here is an interesting quote, one I wish we could implement to human life more often.

“…crowding can lead to fights. Art is good way to channel all that edgy energy.”

Dragon Dreamer

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Stolen Gypsy by Elizabeth H. Newton – my review

Wow, what a ride! This is by no means the first thriller I’ve read by Elizabeth Horton Newton, nor will it be the last. Do not expect any spoilers from this review, or me retelling the events! Just grab it and read it. It’s worth it!
When you read an action thriller and feel breathless, as if you’ve just been there or at least watched it in a fabulous 3D cinema, that’s just perfection. This one had me biting my nails, staying up all night to get to the bottom of all plots and subplots, on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen to my favourite characters.

Much as I loved the villains in Riddle and Old Habits, I love, love, love the heroes and heroines of this book! Young Terza is adorable, just on the verge between a teenager and a woman, thrown into life’s adversity which forms her faster than she’d ever hoped. Tristan is strong, charming and supportive, and the balance Newton achieves between the two of them, and in developing their relationship, is wonderfully intertwined with the entire plot, filled with social issues, political intrigue and the criminal millieu. McCray and Nora, including Vanessa and the girls from Nora’s haven, they all paint a strong setting in which each detail makes a difference.

Feel like wandering into a breathlessly intense action story, with a fantastic couple at the centre and mind-blowing intrigue surrounding them? Grab this one.

https://amzn.to/2qBg0wr

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World Poetry Day

How long has it been since you last read some poetry?

#poetry #meditation #songs #verse #inspiration #therapy

#ebook https://tinyurl.com/ybpyubg9

#paperback https://tinyurl.com/y8jqwlwt

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Bat Shit Crazy Review Requests by Gisela Hausmann – my review

You know those people who are able to tell a great joke, keeping on a terribly serious face expression, so that, as you scramble back to normalcy from laughter, you suddenly calm down and start wondering if, perhaps, they may have been serious and actually meant it seriously? Well, I think Ms Hausmann is one of them. You may laugh at some of the cited email review requests, but some will have you thinking and rethinking quite seriously your own email writing. With a giggle or two, but still – you will think on it.

Having read several non-fiction, no-fluff books by Gisela Hausmann, marketing expert, I was looking forward to reading this one, which takes on a different route, a slightly comical one, yet still very instructive.

This is an interesting and quite helpful approach to work emails, not just for review purposes, and I would definitely recommend it to people who need practical advice, but don’t want to read a dry, fact-filled instruction book. In simple layers of text, email quote followed by a line or two in comment by the author, the book reminded me of a witty, yet tough teacher commenting on the students’ essays. Being respectful of teacherly advice, I am already rethinking my emails.

PS: the presidential campaign emails are extra added value.

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The Little Blue Book for Authors 101 Clues How to Get More Out of Facebook by G.Hausmann – my review

There is never anything little about Gisela’s books. I’ve read plenty, and the occasional faults in my writing career are due to not following her advice, and some others.

Writing anything is never easy and you can verify that with any high school student out there, not to mention writers. Marketing what you write can either depress you with its abundance of traps, turn you into a proper merchant who eventually disregards art in favour of money, or you can thrust yourself into the battle with a little bit of help from the able book promoters (not any, but able, pls notice the difference) and some timely tips from marketing specialists such as Gisela Hausmann. My simile to battle is inspired by the book Hausmann quotes in her first chapter – The Art of War. I have to admit I often feel like an untrained soldier in the marketing battlefield, so I consider books such as this one good training. “…ask yourself if you can even become a player?” Hausmann says. So… see what I mean?

Now I have to say I like things explained to me as if I were a six-year-old, so this piece of advice was a wake up call:

“Don’t post anything on Facebook you would not post on a billboard next to the busiest highway in your hometown.”

The Mark Cuban video was another, slightly scary one. By tip 25 I was making notes on what I had to do about my own social media presence, and fast. What further complicated things is this:

“Though it is your business if and how you use your personal profile page, you can comment in Facebook network groups only with your personal profile page.”

I had always known this book would add more work to my to-do list, but at least now I am not wandering around in fog any more. The advice about potential employers, as scary as it may seem, is truer than we’d like to think, which adds importance to this book – it is not only for authors, but all entrepreneurs who plan their media presence.

“To succeed in this cut-throat business, you need to own your writing, your research, your knowledge, your “everything”!”

I’m in for a lot of work. Better start!

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