Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

Are We Nuts? By Gisela Hausmann – my review

Well, this is a tough one to rate and review. Not because it’s not a good book at all, but because it talks about things which hit only too close to home in a worrying way, teaching a serious lesson in a seemingly child-like setting. However, it is NOT a children’s book at all.

Imagine being so frustrated by the current political, economical and ecological world situation that you decide to write a semi-satirical fable about it, using squirrels as the synonym for humans and word-playing with the names of famous politicians, past and present, to illustrate your point. You use fable to speak of heavy, unpleasant things you see happenning around the world, especially concerning climate changes. Why would you use this somewhat light approach for bitter truths? I guess not to go mad, shout the reality from rooftops and be called crazy. This way you may merely be called ‘the crazy author’, but there is nothing ‘mere’ about it – crazy artists have often spoken out about unpleasant truths and actually started huge changes.

Knowing Gisela Hausmann’s previous books, the non-fiction manuals on business correspondence, marketing and social networking, I believe her to be an unrelenting, adamant, meticulous researcher of data, who always corroborates her statements with facts and figures. This is a fictional fable (hm, hm, sort of), which in early squirrel world description shows the author’s lovely knack for landscape depiction, but I am positive Hausmann had done a lot of research before turning it into a fable. Although certain paralels with US politics were a bit above my current understanding of personnae and events (not much of a political person myself), the strong environmental warning within the book is obvious, world-wide and will not be ignored.

The fact is that this kind of a political fable may not be palatable to everyone, but it cannot be ignored. It is quite easy to imagine a think-tank of various scholars sitting around a table discussing the real-life details depicted in ‘Sciurus States’ and why they matter in understanding snd tackling current events. The hashtag suggested by the title is provocative and inviting us not to meekly swallow any lie we are served, and I am somehow rooting for it to catch on. Gutsy, quirky and difficult to ignore!

Are We Nuts? link

Advertisements
Leave a comment »

Rhino Magic

An excerpt from Rhino Magic, my story in Looking into the Abyss:

‘Mummie, mummie, come here quickly! You’ve got to see this!’

Ginger dragged her feet from the kitchen to the living room for the hundredth time that day. There was no gingerly step left in her to justify her name, not after a sleepless night spent trying to get her son’s fever down.

‘What, honey?’

She struggled to sound interested, and failed miserably. Jake was kneeling on the bed and pointing at the TV, his blurred eyes sparkling with excitement, above the gloomy eyebags and thin cheeks.

He used to be so big and strong that they called him their beast. No seven-year-old should have to suffer kidney problems.

‘The man in the show… the documentary… he said the rhino is considered to be the unicorn’s cousin. Unicorn! Can you believe it?’

Thank you for inviting me onto this project, @Paul White.

#love #education #storytelling #quote #charity #books #teaching #story
moon-1982890_1280

41XbyEPKDGL._AC_US327_QL65_

Leave a comment »

Parents’ Alert

shame-799099_1280

Not so long ago, a friend of mine found her son in front of his laptop, in bitter tears and literally afraid for his life. An older boy from his school was sending him threatening and hurtful messages over a social network, on behalf of himself and a bunch of his bullying buddies. Her son was not only afraid to leave the house, but sat there as if paralysed in front of the screen, his fists clenched so firmly that his knuckles were white. No amount of consoling, coaxing or even threatening helped my friend – her son would simply not reveal the real name of his abuser, masked behind a clipart avatar and a fashionably misspelled username. But most mothers whose children are attacked don’t just back out, and very few obstacles manage to slow them down. Single mothers even more so, and my friend is one.

Like a proper lioness, she gave her son a chocolate bar, some cocoa and a pep talk, gently stroked his hair and put him in bed, playing his favourite music really low till he fell asleep. She acted calm before the storm. Then she sat at the desk and opened her son’s profile. A couple of hours later, having done some online detective work she had never deemed herself capable of, she had the bully’s full name and surname, his home address and his private cellphone number. And she hadn’t even broken any laws. The problem with bullies and all criminals is their ego; they are never really ashamed of their actions and always secretly want the whole world to know them for their deeds. So they leave a trail of breadcrumbs one only has to follow. She did exactly that. Looking at her son twitch and sweat in sleep, mumble defensive phrases in his nightmare, and unconsciously cry despite his early teenage years and strong body, she grabbed her cellphone and typed in the bully’s number. Before tapping the call button, she left her son’s room and closed the door behind her.

She phoned the bully. He answered. She introduced herself and then, with all the raging storm she had in her, she spoke her mind, letting the bully know she knew who he was and where he lived, ordering him to stop contacting her son, and threatening what she would do if he didn’t stop. I don’t know exactly what she said, and I guess neither does she any more. Protecting loved ones, especially children, brings out the best and worst in us, and controlling that is usually impossible. The point is – she succeeded. She never spoke to the boy’s parents about this. It turns out she knows from the neighbourhood; they are exactly the behavioural matrix their son so loyally copies. She never told her son what she did. But he is not bullied any more, sleeps well and goes out with his friends, like all happy children should. She is not happy. She is alert.

What would you do? There are so many options for parents in this case, some depending on the laws of your country, some on the culture and tradition you come from, but what it all comes down to is your definitive parental decision. You are the one who chooses to act and faces the results.

cub-1422073_1280

Would you tell your son to ‘take it like a man’ and fight back? Battle a group of bullies, bigger and older than him, all alone and empty-handed? Would you resort to violence yourself, get a gang of thugs and beat the boys’ senseless and their parents as well? Would you go to the press or the Internet and make the story go viral, dragging you and your son through the merciless scrutiny of the public eye, which only seems to feed on the negative and rarely offers any real help or solution? Would you tell your child to talk to friends or call a helpline, washing your hands of the responsibility?

You could choose not to act. Just sit tight, waiting for the whole thing to pass on its own. It seems easier to do anyway. But it isn’t easy, and it won’t pass. Dirt piled up under a rug doesn’t go away, it doesn’t dissolve, and nobody else comes to clean house. Sooner or later, you or your loved ones stumble over it and fall flat on your face. Unresolved bullying only gets worse, spreads to more people, leaves your child out there like an open target, a sitting duck, with an invisible ‘open season’ sign hanging over his head. And your child remains a victim. Or, for better or worse(which do you think?), becomes a bully himself, vindicating his own suffering by tormenting others.

You could do exactly what my friend did – go directly to the source and deal with the bully. You could get lucky, exactly like she did, the word ‘lucky’ used very loosely here, because there is no win-win situation where violence is concerned. She could have been in trouble though. The bully could have told his parents, they could have attacked her, they could have sewed her for contacting their underage son without their knowledge and threatening him. They could even have won in court, depending on who had the money for a slicker lawyer. Her son could have been badly hurt by the bullies for having his mummy come to the rescue. But if you weigh all those options before your parental instinct kicks in, you are probably late already.

You could contact the school authorities. It is their duty, after all, to handle such issues on school premises. They have trained professionals for such situations. It would take time, you would drag your son and his friends through questioning, the bully’s parents would be contacted, and then it would be just like a trial all over again. Or maybe not. Maybe the whole team of adults involved int he problem really would work together in the best interest of all the children, and the bully would get help and stop being a bully, whereas the bullied would relax and heal, and future similar situations would be prevented or, at least, reduced. Well, you never know until you try, right?

What would you do? What do you do?

Leave a comment »

3 – 2 – 1 Me Challenge (my turn)

After an unusually lazy and inactive summer, at least blog-wise, for me, who better to give you a proper push than a hard-working editor, publisher, writer and female force – Claire Plaisted. This amazing lady has tagged me in this new blogger challenge, and knowing how tough she can be, I thought I’d better respond:).

Each time this blog is posted it is updated by the recipient in conjunction with the TOPIC stated at the end by the last person. For me, the topic given by Claire is HAPPINESS.

The rules of the challenge…

• Thank the selector
• Post 2 quotes for the dedicated topic of the day
• Select 3 bloggers to take part in ‘3.2.1 Quote Me Challenge’ and give them a topic/word

Number One – The Selector

Claire Plaisted, executive director of Plaisted Publishing, is a worldwide force in the writing world whom I have been privileged to meet through the Facebook group Awethors several years ago. She is a dedicated hardworker who perseveres in overcoming obstacles, acquiring new skills, constantly perfecting her work and that of others. Claire is a role model for lifelong learning and a family woman, too, and on top of it all – a kind lady. She writes stories, edits, promotes books, publishes a free magazine to promote indie writers, and organizes projects which involve other writers. One such project, which brought a lot of HAPPINESS to my life, was A Treasure Chest of Children’s Stories, an anthology in which Claire not only invited me to participate, but also allowed me to invite my goddaughter, Helena Čačić, a talented young writer, to join the forces and produce a wonderful story about a girl and a unicorn. This was Helena’s first published work in English and it makes the HAPPINESS that much greater. Thank you, Claire. Keep being your phenomenal self!

Number Two – Quotes

1. “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” J.K. Rowling

This is possibly one of my all-time favourite quotes. It points to how much the key to our happiness lies within us, and how dwelling in self-pity never solves anything. All it takes is just a little flicker of light. Step by step, flicker by flicker, day by day, smile by smile.

2. “For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Those who know me know this – I will always try not to waste time on being angry, laying blame and dwelling over the issue. Better solve the problem as best we can and get on with our lives. No point in wasting time on rage.

Number Three – Three Bloggers

Elizabeth Horton Newton, who can be found HERE
DM Cain, who can be found HERE
Karen J Mossman , who can be found HERE

YOUR WORD IS… WISDOM. I hope you accept the challenge.

2 Comments »

3 – 2 – 1 Me Challenge

Thanking Claire for the challenge – my reply coming soon:)

https://wp.me/p6kS1w-2dH

Leave a comment »

Why indie and proud?

What is #IndiePrideDay? For me, it means a lot of things.

I am proud to be an independent author because I know I dared to cross the threshold of my average daydreams, and walk into this huge forest of trees (namely: self-doubt, time-consuming book promotion, social media presence, the writing/illustrating zone, editing and revising, begging for reviews, battling to keep them, and so on and so forth…).

I dared to feel and love this hobby of mine called writing, and I dared to place it before your eyes for none or detailed scrutiny, giving voice to my characters who haunted me till I did. I am proud of giving life to the little penguin Winky, the romantic wannabe pirate George, the diva squirrel Mimi and the brave hedgehog Hank, and all their little friends in my children’s books. Not to mention all the stories and poems in anthologies such as Inner Giant, Awethologies, Twisted & Crooked Tales, Looking into the Abyss, and The Treasure Chest of Children’s Stories…

I have also been privileged to have met and collaborated with many wonderful people in the independent writers’ community, all of whom have been supportive, inspiring and selfless.

The support of my friends and family is never taken for granted. ♡
Thank you all!
So yes, indie and proud. Happy #IndiePrideDay!

Leave a comment »

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

2 Comments »

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:

Leave a comment »

Does working out really work out for you?

Lately, all this talk of getting ready for the summer and getting beach-body ready has become quite silly. Yes, I too like to look nice and feel fit, but let’s be honest – it should be done always, in order to be hwalthy, and not rushed in panic and through starvation. Anyway, trying to achieve physical perfection when it is just not your thing has reminded me of a chapter section from my light, carefree, unambitious romantic comedy Average Daydreamer. Perhaps some of you may even recognize yourselves:).

Average Daydreamer

Chapter 3 – Rock’n’Roll

“The zumba lesson with Petra went pretty well! Although zumba was a bit too unstructured and wild for my personality, I did try to make myself enjoy it, telling myself all the while that it would boost my immune system, make me feel good about myself and maybe make one of those ‘oh-I-wish-there-was-such-a-thing’ perfect guys notice me.

Feel good about myself I did, right until the moment I finally managed to grasp the dance routine and stopped looking at the steaming hot blonde leading the course. And then I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I had been so psyched into seeing the new Shakira-Priscilla shaking off the stress with sexiness, and oozing a sparkling cocktail of self-confidence, mischief and charm! Alas, major letdown! My expectations and reality were in such an oxymoron that it pained me to put it in thoughts, let alone words! So I’ll keep it brief here – my sexy just wasn’t happening. Period.”

Lulu link

Leave a comment »

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.

Book link

Leave a comment »