Trigger Warnings in Books

It Ends With Us by Colleen HooverConfess by Colleen Hooer

Author Colleen Hoover has an interesting blog post up about putting “trigger warnings” at beginnings of books.

A note: I have never read one of her books, and the newest (which I believe sparked some of this discussion) is apparently a little controversial. However, I think her opinions matter in a wider context.

I’ve got to say, I think she makes some excellent points. As do some commenters, who (rightly) point out that the new trend for trigger warnings at the start of every book seems to be largely in the New Adult genre so far, which isn’t one I read extensively in. The NA community seems to be a whole different world on its own when it comes to romance and romantic fiction.

These “trigger warnings” – telling readers in advance what dark themes are in the book they’re about to read – well, they’re everywhere these days. I see so many people even putting them at the beginnings of their book REVIEWS.

There are some times I think vague warnings are warranted. Graphic sex when it’s not expected, for example. Or a certain recent historical romance where the heroine had lost something like twenty babies, and some readers were unhappy they weren’t warned about how extreme the book’s theme of infertility was.

However, if a story is going to be spoilt because readers demand to know every twist and turn in advance…?

My most memorable reads are those that surprise me in some way; I don’t want the plot ruined before I’ve read it.

Is it really a good thing to spoil an entire story before it has even begun, no matter what? To the point some people won’t even use a word like “cheating” or “assault” without disclaimers first?

Colleen Hoover Trigger warnings

These warnings used to be about rape, but now apparently you can’t put anything other sunshine and rainbows in your books without some readers demanding the author give the whole plot away in advance. To a certain extent, this reminds me of how frustrated I become with people who refuse to follow the news because they never want to hear bad things.

If rape is something that is going to upset many readers, then this issue needs to be addressed. But when authors are saying they’re getting one-star reviews because one of their characters got cheated on??

I don’t know… But I do think I agree with quite a bit of what Hoover has to say in her post. Perhaps if I read this new book of hers and find it to be over-the-top extreme, I might change my mind.

What I’m Watching

After a month in Italy through May to June, and with an upcoming trip to Italy at the beginning of 2017, I got myself into a bit of a Romeo and Juliet mood recently. For all the criticisms, and for all of Shakespeare’s – um – borrowing of the original story, it’s always been a story that has interested me. (Might have something to do with all the stage productions of it I’ve worked on!)

I watched the absolutely DREADFUL 2013 movie version while I was away (review to come), and wanted a palate cleanser.

A totally new take on the story was made with little fanfare a few years ago, a two-part television version. Playing around with the plot (remember: Shakespeare did NOT create the original story, so I’m okay with some changes), it stars older actors from Spain and Italy in the lead roles. The dialogue in English is a little cheesy, and all those grown women with their hair anachronistically down bug me, but I’m optimistic about other parts.

I ordered a DVD while I was in Italy, and I think my copy came from Spain, so I’m not sure what language I’m going to be watching it in! However, it has to be a million times better than the disaster the Hollywood crowd cobbled together.

Here’s the English-language trailer for the Italian production:

Coming Up: Mogul by Joanna Shupe

No proper cover yet, but we now have a blurb for the third book in Joanna Shupe’s Knickerbocker Club series.

Mogul (The Knickerbocker Club #3) by Joanna Shupe

Mogul has its release date set as the first of January, 2017.

Tycoon (The Knickerbocker Club 0.5) by Joanna ShupeMagnate (The Knickerbocker Club #1) by Joanna ShupeBaron (The Knickerbocker Club #2) by Joanna Shupe

The privileged members of the Knickerbocker Club can never climb too high up the social ladder. But for one charming New York bachelor, does the ascent take precedence over love in the Gilded Age?

As owner of a well-respected national newspaper, Calvin Cabot has the means to indulge his capricious taste for excess—and the power to bring the upper crust of society to its knees. So when a desperate heiress from his past begs for his help, Calvin agrees . . . as long as she promises to stay out of his way. Except, like the newsman, this willful beauty always gets what she wants.

Lillian Davies lives a life brimming with boundless parties, impressive yachts, and exotic getaways. But when her brother disappears, Lily knows that blood runs thicker than champagne and she’ll spare nothing to bring him back alive. Unfortunately, the only man who can help her is the one she never wanted to see again. Can Lily keep Calvin at arm’s length long enough to save her brother and protect her name . . . even when the tenacious powerbroker turns out to be absolutely irresistible?

Dare You to Run (Unbroken Heroes #2) by Dawn Ryder

Dare You to Run (Unbroken Heroes #2) by Dawn Ryder

Serve and protect

For Vitus Hale, only one mission has ever gone wrong. All he had to do was rescue a beautiful woman from her kidnappers. But falling hard into bed—and into love—with the stunning innocent was not part of the game plan, and when she leaves him in the dust, Vitus has nothing but a blemished record and a hardened heart. Now, after three long years, his beauty has finally come back into his life—and this time, failure is not an option…

Seduce and destroy

Damascus Ryland knew from their first steamy embrace that stoic warrior Vitus Hale is the only man for her, but when her power-hungry Congressman father offered her an ultimatum—sever ties with Vitus, or he dies—Damascus knew she had to walk away to save the man she loved. But now, three years later, a new threat is closing in on her—and tossing Vitus right back into her life. Damascus needs to keep her love for him locked in her heart if she is to keep him safe, but the old flame that burned between them is still as vibrant and hot as ever. Now, Damascus and Vitus must risk it all to find their freedom…and embrace their love…

Dare You to Run (Unbroken Heroes #2) by Dawn Ryder

I really liked how this book started. I love it when a suspense book begins with an exciting opening rescue scene…

…And then the hero and heroine were immediately in love, and things went strange!

Dare You to Run was a book of contradictions. Good suspense set-ups with characters who made no sense. A first kiss that happened totally out of the blue – and OFF THE PAGE! – followed by insta-love that was impossible to believe in.

Beginning with a rescue, where the heroine had been kept in a dark concrete hole in the ground for days, we have our two leads lusting after each other from the first moment they meet face to face. Remember: she has been prisoner in a hole in the ground for days!

Our hero thinks this in one paragraph:


He could smell the blood on her, and the stench of being kept in that concrete tomb for the last week.


And this two paragraphs later:


There was no way not to notice how good she smelled.


But no matter what he thinks, in the next chapter he is professing his love for her to anyone he sees, in language more suited to historical romance than the US Special Forces.

Add to that the fact the hero is called Vitus, has a heroine from a staunch conservative background who is improbably called Damascus, and has a brother named Saxon… I come from a family of “ethnic” (to Anglo/English-speaking people) names, so I don’t expect everyone to be called Jack and Jane, but this was too much.

In the end, I was very disappointed with what started out as a promising book.


Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 22nd – 28th August

Queanbeyan to Canberra Australia ACT border Sky Clouds Blue Sky Sonya Heaney Winter 26th August 2016

Gorgeous Friday afternoon. With a dirty windscreen!

Sonya Heaney Norcia Italy June 2016

Poor Italy – we were just saying the Norcia region was due for another earthquake.

When something terrible happens everyone has an “I’m connected to it” story. I was actually staying in Norcia, the epicentre of the earthquake, in June, and we drove through some of the towns that have been destroyed. The church above – in Norcia – has been damaged, and it is a very important church and allegedly the birthplace of Saint Benedict.

Bagan's temples were built between the 10th and 14th centuries

There was also a deadly earthquake in Myanmar (or Burma, depending on if you want to go with the dictatorship name or not!). The famous temples have been badly damaged, but this earthquake isn’t really making the news.

Pierce Brosnan Ukrainian Church London 22nd August 2016

Pierce Brosnan hanging out with Ukrainian activists in London at the start of the week. Tuesday was Ukraine’s national flag day, and Wednesday was Independence Day – a significant and sadly ironic holiday at the moment. We flew the flag in our house, but I was too busy to make it to the function at the embassy here in Canberra.:

Ukrainian Flag Day Tryzub Canberra Australia Sonya OKsana Heaney 23rd August 2016Ukrainian Flag Day Tryzub Canberra Australia Sonya OKsana Heaney 23rd August 2016DSC06712

Kalashnikov (as in the assault rifle manufacturer) now has a shop at the airport in Moscow.

Moscow airport shop sells model Kalashnikov guns

Call me crazy, but is this not the opposite of airport security?? WTF is going on in Putin’s Russia?

Currawong Canberra Australia 25th August 2016 Sonya Heaney DSC06725

In other news, all the birds here are going crazy, running around with twigs and getting ready for spring. Here’s the currawong, and the magpie, the two birds who hang around our front and back doors all day now! The magpie (below) stands beak-to-glass at the back half the day!

Magpie Canberra Australia 25th August 2016 DSC06735

What a poser!

Romance is Trashy, and Other Things You Need to Stop Saying.

Category Romance. No more home renovation. No more ageing parents going into homes. No more bakers. No more etc. etc. etc.

Coming Up for Patricia Briggs

31356099 Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson #10) by Patricia Briggs

My review of A Vow of Seduction: Hot Night in the Hamptons by Nana Malone and Seduced Before Sunrise by Jamie Pope

A Vow of Seduction Hot Night in the Hamptons by Nana Malone and Seduced Before Sunrise by Jamie Pope

The twenty-fourth anniversary of The Last of the Mohicans


Cover Love

Our Own Country by Jodi Daynard

There aren’t many countries where children dress as *footballers* for BOOK WEEK…

But apparently Australia is one of them…

Blackface outrage: Mother paints son’s skin for Book Week parade

The twenty-fourth anniversary of The Last of the Mohicans


I have no idea why, but The Last of the Mohicans premiered in France, not the United States, on the 26th of August, 1992. The US premiere came on the 25th of September.

I credit this film (I’ve never read the book the whole way through) with a lot of my interests now. Of course back then you couldn’t just jump on the internet and learn stuff and find similar stories, but I tried my best!

The Last of the Mohicans 1992

I have a few books I recommend quite often, that are set in the same location and time period as this film.

Into the Wilderness by Sara DonatiSurrender (MacKinnon’s Rangers #1) by Pamela Clare

Untamed by Pamela ClareDefiant by Pamela Clare

Into the Wilderness

Surrender Review and Link

Untamed Review and Link

Defiant Review and Link

And as a bonus: behind the scenes on the film set. What dorks!

Behind the scenes on set The Last of the Mohicans

Coming Up for Patricia Briggs

I really love Patricia Briggs urban fantasy/paranormal romance books. True, the last instalment in the Mercy Thompson series was a little too heavy on the magic for me, but I still cannot wait for this new book.

With a release date currently set as the 9th of March 2017, we still have a bit of a wait for Silence Fallen.

I much prefer the second cover!

silence_fallen_layout.indd31356099 Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson #10) by Patricia Briggs

In the #1 New York Times bestselling Mercy Thompson novels, the coyote shapeshifter has found her voice in the werewolf pack. But when Mercy’s bond with the pack and her mate is broken, she’ll learn what it truly means to be alone…

Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe…

Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise…

A Vow of Seduction: Hot Night in the Hamptons by Nana Malone and Seduced Before Sunrise by Jamie Pope

A Vow of Seduction Hot Night in the Hamptons by Nana Malone and Seduced Before Sunrise by Jamie Pope

Two lavish destination weddings set the stage for romance and desire…  

A Vow of Seduction: Hot Night in the Hamptons by Nana Malone and Seduced Before Sunrise by Jamie Pope

Hot Night in the Hamptons by Nana Malone

A fling with the gorgeous best man is not on Elina Sinclair’s to-do list as maid of honour at her best friend’s Hamptons wedding. Yet former child star Gabe Anderson is intent on seduction. He’s also a new client at her image consulting firm—which makes a relationship strictly forbidden. Can the onetime playboy convince her that he’s the best mistake she’ll ever make? 

I liked this story. Being a novella a lot had to happen in a short space of time, but I was convinced. Some authors can pull off these happy ever afters in a short word count, and Nana Malone is one of them.

It’s a familiar hook for romance: bridesmaid and groomsman meet at the wedding and get together. However, I thought this hero and heroine had chemistry, and I also believed they had well fleshed-out characters. There was even time for them to have family and friends!

Our reformed playboy, rich kid hero was believably changed, and was just a really decent guy. The heroine was easy to relate to.

I don’t usually go for such obvious romance tropes, but I thought the author did something different with this one, and so really enjoyed it.

Seduced Before Sunrise by Jamie Pope

He was Willa Arthur’s first kiss, her first everything, before his cruel betrayal shattered her confidence. Years later, Marcus Simpson has turned up in Costa Rica at the wedding of Willa’s best friend. The white sandy beaches and lush jungles are irresistible—and unfortunately, so is the man she should hate. But Marcus wants more than just forgiveness. He wants Willa back, and a tropical paradise is the perfect place to prove how much…

This is a reunion romance that takes place at a wedding in Costa Rica. Back when they were teens hero and heroine had a relationship, but as he was the popular guy and she was the nerd, he didn’t tell anybody about it. When they were found out, he humiliated her and denied it.

A dozen years later, here they are attending a small wedding in an isolated location.

I liked the writing, but I think it all happened too fast – that’s what happens with such a small word count, I suppose! Within hours of seeing each other for the first time in all those years and he’s all over her, touching and kissing her at every opportunity (even in front of other guests), even though she has made it clear she wants nothing to do with him. It came off as a little… creepy.

I liked that these were two likeable people, and that they didn’t draw out a teen conflict too long. On the other hand, there wasn’t actually a conflict in the story. They just got back together and then went home as a couple.

A nice little story, but too fast!


Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Day of Remembrance

In Times Gone By...

The 23rd of August is the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism.

The image below depicts Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia attacking Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus and Georgia.

August 23 - European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism Ukraine Lithuania Belarus Georgia

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