Virgin River Episodes 1-3

Virgin River Robyn Carr Books Netflix Adaptation

All right, I have to say this first because I’m seeing a lot of people talking nonsense online: Virgin River is based on a book series that began well over a decade ago. It is NOT a copy of Hart of Dixie.

Now I’ve said that, I shall move on to my review!

The most important question: do I like the Netflix adaptation of Virgin River? YES! I like it much more than I expected to, have laughed out loud several times, and will continue to watch the rest of the season.

Is it perfect? Nup and nope, but overall I think they’ve done a good job.

The Great:

Alexandra Breckenridge as Melinda Monroe Virgin River Robyn Carr

Alexandra Breckenridge as Melinda Monroe

When I saw the first picture from the set (on Instagram, below) I knew they’d cast a good Mel. What I didn’t know was that they’d cast an outstanding Mel.

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If you were to ask me who my most hated book character of all time is, I’d say Mel without hesitation. That Breckenridge has made her into a wonderful, rounded character I love is a pretty huge achievement.

The medical stuff is under control.

The thing I always found off-putting in the books was the obsession with detailed medical procedures. It squicked me out and I thought a lot of it was totally unnecessary. It’s so much better in the show – and in the background, where it belongs.

It also means “annoying, bossy Mel” has been toned down. She doesn’t get as many scenes to lecture everyone in.

Daniel Gillies as Mark

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I want to marry this character. He doesn’t appear on the page in the series, but I’m very glad to meet him here.

Annette O’Toole as Hope McCrea

Yes, her character is nothing like the woman in the books, but I’m loving this version of Hope. She’s hilarious and I don’t mind that they’ve enormously expended her part.

The Good:

Tim Matheson as Doc

I’m liking him more and more as the series goes on.

The Not-So-Good:

Martin Henderson as Jack Sheridan

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I had my doubts when I saw the picture on Instagram, and I’ve been proven right. It doesn’t help that Daniel Gillies is so good in his role (we’re not meant to love Mark more than Jack!). Many a person stuck with the book series specifically because of Jack’s character, and so he was going to have to be outstanding.

So far he’s someone I’d have a chat with, not marry. And – sorry – but his character is supposed to be around my age, and this version of Jack looks old enough to be my father.

Also, the little addiction side story they’ve thrown in is totally unnecessary.

Character heights and sizes.

SO MUCH is made of these huge, tough Marine Corps guys in the books. I know Hollywood is populated with men who are smaller than they look on the screen, but when Mel and Jack and Preacher are all a similar size? Doesn’t work.

The Bad:

The changes made to Preacher and Paige.

Paige Chris Preacher Virgin River

Now, I’m not blaming the actors here. They’re both doing an outstanding job with what was written for them. The problem is that these characters bear no resemblance whatsoever to their book characters, and their storyline is unrecognisable.

It was a clever move to make Preacher a POC, and if you take a look at the books they never actually say he’s white. I’ve commented many times in the past that author Robyn Carr has both a problem writing diversity, and is sometimes outright racist.

My issue with Preacher: where’s our shy, gentle giant gone? Why is the man of few words relentlessly lecturing Jack about his personal life? What on earth is going on … ?

As for Paige: book Paige runs away to Virgin River with her son, and I can understand that the scriptwriters thought this made her story too similar to Mel’s. I would have been fine with her already living in the town (as she does in the show). What I’m not okay with is her running a flipping bakery truck. In a tiny town where it’s snowy and cold.

Surely the writers could have come up with something better than that, because I honestly think it’s incredibly stupid …

And, so …

Books and shows are different beasts, and while a good book can’t be episodic, TV practically demands it. Cliffhangers have to be thrown in, and so I can forgive quite a few of the changes. (My scriptwriting tutor from university would be overjoyed to hear me say this!)

Overall I’m pretty fine with how the show is going, even if Jack’s not my guy and even though Preacher and Paige are suffering from some serious character assassination. Mel, Hope and Doc make up for it.

Despite my issues I’d recommend Virgin River to anyone who wants a bit of a laugh to go with their drama.

The Week: 2nd – 8th December

It’s nearly Christmas, and I really think I need another month to get organised! The fires here have got worse and worse. The fire has burnt all the way to the sea, and there’s really hot weather on the way in the coming days.

After the strife superstar author Christine Feehan got in, first for filing to trademark common words, and then for defending her actions, she seems to have pulled the application. However, it seems everyone writing vampire fiction could do with reading this:

Hey, Christine Feehan! You don’t own the Carpathians!

Huculy_1933,_Verkhovyna_district Hutsuls Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains

And this Tweet pretty much sums up the situation:

KJ Charles Twitter Christine Feehan Trademark Carpathian

Virgin River Premiere!

Virgin River TV Series

My review of Someone to Honour (Westcott family #6) by Mary Balogh

Someone to Honour Someone to Honor (Westcott #6) by Mary Balogh

Hey, Christine Feehan! You don’t own the Carpathians!

Ивано-Франковская_область_Горно-лыжный_курорт_Буковель Bukovel Carptahian Mountains Ukraine

Ukraine’s Bukovel ski resort in—you guessed it!—the Carpathian Mountains.

I’ve been too preoccupied with other things to bother posting about this, but now Christine Feehan (as in the NYT-bestselling author credited with inventing the paranormal romance genre back in the 1990s) has now confirmed it: she has personally filed applications to obtain trademarks for all the words associated with her various books series. (#Cockygate, anyone?)

The word everyone has gone mad over (for obvious reasons) is “Dark”—as in, she’s trying to ban anyone from using Dark in their book titles from now on.

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Me on a farm in my grandfather’s village in the foothills of the—you guessed it!—Carpathians. The woman is his cousin, Pani Anna, and that’s her farm.

However, I’m here to rant about the issue of her also filing to appropriate the word “Carpathian”.

The Carpathians are a mountain range in Eastern Europe, covering seven countries: Ukraine, Romania, Poland, Slovakia, Czechia, Hungary and Serbia. My family is from the Ukrainian Carpathians, and have a distinct culture and fiercely proud heritage. Now, if I wanted to write a series of any sort with the word Carpathian in it, Feehan can take me to court. (Feehan is estimated to be worth millions.)

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A bear I saw in the Carpathians in September this year. Because—yes—the Carpathians still exist, and they still don’t belong to Christine Feehan.

On Twitter I mentioned that the situation has shades of the American bar owner who obtained the trademark for the Fijian word Bula, forcing the Fijian Government to take him to court to try and get the rights to their own word back.

Huculy_1933,_Verkhovyna_district Hutsuls Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains

The Ukrainian Hutsul people of the Carpathian Mountains.

People randomly trademarking stuff is disgusting, selfish, and totally bloody unnecessary. Having some author in California claim ownership of my heritage just because she named her rapey fictional vampires after my family’s homeland makes me sick.

Someone to Honour (Westcott family #6) by Mary Balogh

Someone to Honour Someone to Honor (Westcott #6) by Mary Balogh

First appearances deceive in the newest charming and heartwarming Regency romance in the Westcott series from beloved New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh . . .

Abigail Westcott’s dreams for her future were lost when her father died and she discovered her parents were not legally married. But now, six years later, she enjoys the independence a life without expectation provides a wealthy single woman. Indeed, she’s grown confident enough to scold the careless servant chopping wood outside without his shirt on in the proximity of ladies.

But the man is not a servant. He is Gilbert Bennington, the lieutenant colonel and superior officer who has escorted her wounded brother Harry home from the wars with Napoleon. He’s come to help his friend and junior officer recover, and he doesn’t take lightly to being condescended to – secretly because of his own humble beginnings.

If at first these two seem to embody what the other most despises, they will soon discover how wrong first impressions can be. For behind the appearance of the once grand lady and once humble man are two people who share an understanding of what true honour means, and how only with it can one find love.

Someone to Honour (Westcott family #6) by Mary Balogh

I started Someone to Honour on my Kindle several months ago, ran out of time to finish it before I went overseas, and then finished it in paperback this week, so my experience with the book was a little … odd …

I’ve been enjoying all the unconventional pairings in this series, though this one (despite both the hero’s and heroine’s illegitimacy) is a more standard romance. It’s a quieter book, for the most part, tightly focused just on the main pair and the heroine’s brother, though people who are new to the series will be confused by all of the many, many past characters who appear at the start.

Balogh has played with the legal issues of the time for a few books now (e.g. children weren’t “adopted” in the Regency era), but I had trouble overlooking the historical liberties taken here.

It is inconceivable that the illegitimate son of a washerwoman could pop up to London to pick up a special licence to marry. It was almost impossible for anyone to obtain one, and even though Regency romance authors often have their aristocratic characters do such things, when regular old soldier Gil did it I had to set the book aside for a while.

The other issue with the plot is the battle for Gil to regain custody of his daughter – it’s not how things happened at the time. He was the father! Children and wives were the man’s property back then, which means the entire plot (and the marriage) made no sense whatsoever. (Additionally, there were some Americanisms in the legalese that distracted me.)

I do love Mary Balogh’s books, and I’ve reread all the others in the series, but I struggled to suspend my disbelief for this one.

The Week: 25th November – 1st December

Bushfires approaching Canberra on Friday night. Credit and bigger versions HERE.

It was a scary week for the Canberra region, with out of control bushfires everywhere. On Thursday the air filled with smoke at sunset, and when I went outside to look the entire valley was inundated. Our city has burnt before, and as we’re 100% surrounded by mountains and bushland, these times are terrifying for us.

Trailer for Virgin River!

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Cover Love

The Goodbye Café (The Hudson Sisters #3) by Mariah Stewart

Cover Love

Summer is on the way in Australia, and I’m loving this cover for The Goodbye Café by Mariah Stewart.

The Goodbye Café (The Hudson Sisters #3) by Mariah Stewart

California girl Allie Hudson Monroe can’t wait for the day when the renovations on the Sugarhouse Theater are complete so she can finally collect the inheritance from her father and leave Pennsylvania. After all, her life and her fourteen-year-old daughter are in Los Angeles.

But Allie’s divorce left her tottering on the edge of bankruptcy, so to keep up on payments for her house and her daughter’s private school tuition, Allie packed up and flew out east. But fate has a curve-ball or two to toss in Allie’s direction—she just doesn’t know it yet.

She hadn’t anticipated how her life would change after reuniting with her estranged sister, Des, or meeting her previously unknown half-sister, Cara. And she’d certainly never expected to find small-town living charming. But the biggest surprise was that her long-forgotten artistry would save the day when the theater’s renovation fund dried up.

With opening day upon the sisters, Allie’s free to go. But for the first time in her life, she feels like the woman she was always meant to be. Will she return to the West Coast and resume her previous life, or will the love of her family be enough to draw her back to the place where the Hudson roots grow so deep?