Rome: City and Empire

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We visited the Rome exhibition at the National Museum of Australia on Sunday afternoon (a tip: go late in the day and you won’t have to wait in a queue for an hour – but there’ll be some fingerprints on all the glass cabinets!).

Here are a few more shots:

The entrance (with me!).

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The Emperor Augustus, who looks suspiciously like Vladimir Putin!

augustus vladimir putin rome exhibition national museum of australia canberra sonya heaney 20th january 2019

And I was SO happy to see they’d labelled Crimea as Ukraine, despite what Russia is currently up to.

kerch crimea ukraine rome exhibition national museum of australia canberra

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Out Now: All is Fair by Dee Garretson

All is Fair by Dee Garretson

This one sounds interesting. I’d like to see more young adult historical fiction. People involved in major world events (such as wars) were often very young, so there’s no reason why more books like this couldn’t exist.

All is Fair by Dee Garretson

When Lady Mina Tretheway receives a telegram at boarding school, she doesn’t want to read it. In 1918, with war raging, she dreads telegrams, knowing they never bring good news.

At first she doesn’t understand the cryptic message. Then she realizes it’s written in code, and the message leads her home to Hallington Manor. When Lord Andrew Graham appears with a dashing young American, Lucas Mueller, Mina learns that the two of them must work together on dangerous project for the war effort.

Thinking Mina is just a spoiled aristocrat, Lucas tries to complete the project alone, fearing her inexperience will give them away. But when the project goes very wrong, Mina and Lucas are thrown together to complete the mission before more soldiers disappear into the darkness of war.

 

Out Now: Prisoner by Jason Rezaian

prisoner my 544 days in an iranian prison—solitary confinement, a sham trial, high-stakes diplomacy, and the extraordinary efforts it took to get me out by jason rezaian

Prisoner, the true story of what Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian went through when detained in Iran on false charges from 2014 to 2016, is out now.

Rezaian’s wife, Yeganeh Salehi – also a journalist – was also imprisoned.

In an era where the US president uses Soviet-style language to call the media ‘the enemy of the people’, and in an era where journalists are routinely murdered in countries like Russia, this is an important book.

I’ve come across readers who say they’ll never read a book with a hero or heroine who is a journalist, which is disappointing. If only more people appreciated the risks they take to put the truth out there.

Prisoner: My 544 Days in an Iranian Prison—Solitary Confinement, a Sham Trial, High-Stakes Diplomacy, and the Extraordinary Efforts It Took to Get Me Out by Jason Rezaian

In July 2014, Washington Post Tehran bureau chief Jason Rezaian was arrested by Iranian police, accused of spying for America. The charges were absurd. Rezaian’s reporting was a mix of human interest stories and political analysis. He had even served as a guide for Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. Initially, Rezaian thought the whole thing was a terrible misunderstanding, but soon realized that it was much more dire as it became an eighteen-month prison stint with impossibly high diplomatic stakes.

While in prison, Rezaian had tireless advocates working on his behalf. His brother lobbied political heavyweights including John Kerry and Barack Obama and started a social media campaign—#FreeJason—while Jason’s wife navigated the red tape of the Iranian security apparatus, all while the courts used Rezaian as a bargaining chip in negotiations for the Iran nuclear deal.

In Prisoner, Rezaian writes of his exhausting interrogations and farcical trial. He also reflects on his idyllic childhood in Northern California and his bond with his Iranian father, a rug merchant; how his teacher Christopher Hitchens inspired him to pursue journalism; and his life-changing decision to move to Tehran, where his career took off and he met his wife. Written with wit, humor, and grace, Prisoner brings to life a fascinating, maddening culture in all its complexity.

“Jason paid a deep price in defense of  journalism and his story proves that not everyone who defends freedom carries a gun, some carry a pen.”
John F. Kerry, 68th Secretary of State

In Defence of the Unlikeable Heroine

I Kissed a Rogue  (Covent Garden Cubs #3) by Shana Galen

No commentary; just an article from a few weeks ago that I thought I’d share. I chose the cover above because Galen’s book features a heroine who fits this theme perfectly.

In Defence of the Unlikeable Heroine

If you meander through the reviews of most romance novels, you’ll find certain terms showing up again and again in relation to the heroine. Unsympathetic. Bitchy. Slutty. Not good enough for the hero. Unlikeable.

The very traits that we so love in heroes—bold, uncompromising, dominant, sexually experienced—are the exact same ones that we pick apart in the heroines we read. We will forgive the hero many sins, but the heroine must stay inside of very specific parameters in order to gain our love. Or at least our tolerance.

(Read on at the link above.)

Kristen Simmons: Mixed Race, Half Enough?

ya author kristen simmons

YA author Kristen Simmons has an interesting article over at Medium:

Mixed Race, Half Enough?

I would also strongly recommend reading the comments in the Twitter discussion.

Simmons is half-Japanese and half European, and she discusses the issues she encounters both in real life, and with people in the book community who think her mixed race characters are either a cop-out or tokenism.

Much of Simmons’ issues come with the fact she’s not considered “Japanese enough”.

A lot of prominent people in publishing and book blogging have a lot of opinions about the representations of culture and race in books, and – more often than not – I find they’re people who have no experience with what they’re talking about.