The Week: 13th – 19th March

What you see above are two shots driving home – Jugiong to Canberra – from the book festival yesterday evening (obviously the second picture was taken before the first one – the sun was setting as we drove). This whole section of Australia looks like this: dry, yellow, bright light.

So, I spent Saturday afternoon  moderating at the wonderful, friendly Jugiong Writers Festival. I was stunned that a book festival in a country town could pull in both so many celebrities, and SUCH big crowds. It was a little bit intimidating!

The wonderful book launch at the end of the day (with essential, free sparkling wine!) was a nice bonus.

Also – they have a GREAT pub! I’ve already planned a weekend trip back with my brother and his partner.

I stole a couple of pictures from Sulari Gentill’s Facebook page.

Here is the worst photograph ever, of me (and also Margareta Osborn), looking like we want to murder each other. It was put online by ABC reporter Pip Courtney. I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw it!

(That weird stripe across my face is actually the pot plant next to me!)

Autumn light on Friday evening in Canberra.

Thursday evening.

Finnish Ski Troops in 1940

Monday was the anniversary of the end of the Winter War, when Moscow decided to randomly invade Finland and steal regions of their country while the world was distracted by Hitler. (Anything about this situation seem relevant to 2017 – just change Finland to Ukraine and Hitler to Trump!). The Kremlin’s hybrid warfare tactics then are near-identical to what they are currently doing to their neighbours.

History is constantly running on repeat.

My review of Someone to Hold (Westcott #2) by Mary Balogh

My review of Seven Minutes in Heaven (Desperate Duchesses by the Numbers #3) by Eloisa James

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Follow-up on Mem Fox

Happy Canberra Day!

Follow-up on Mem Fox

Mem Fox on being detained by US immigration

Mem Fox on being detained by US immigration 'In that moment I loathed America'

ABC: Mem Fox says she will never return to US after being interrogated

‘Do you think you will ever return to the US?’ asked host Tom Ballard.

‘I won’t. Absolutely not. It wouldn’t be safe for me to do so. I don’t think I’d be allowed in,’ Fox said.

‘I’d faint in the immigration queue. I couldn’t even stand in the immigration queue. I would just faint with fear.’

The Washington Post’s take: Beloved children’s author speaks out about her detainment at U.S. airport

Because I was travelling when news came out about world-famous Australian author Mem Fox’s horrific experience with US immigration when she was travelling to a book conference last month, it was a little hard to keep up with it all.

However, I’ve belatedly come across an extended, detailed version of what happened not only to her, but to the other people with her who were pulled aside and interrogated at the airport in Los Angeles.

A must-read for Trump supporters who seem to think his policies are making America ‘great’.

The Week: 6th – 12th March

Bright Blue Sky Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Autumn 6th March 2017

First day back home. Blue sky, sunshine, summer temperatures – and half a new deck!

We went to Canberra’s Enlighten festival last night. The national buildings (National Library – above, National Science and Technology Centre, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Old Parliament House etc.) are lit up. There are also bars and food stalls and opera performances and a whole lot of things.

I will find some better pictures tomorrow.

This possum has moved in (not our first one, but the smallest so far), right outside my bedroom window. The night-time fights with other animals kept me awake all night a few nights ago!

It has been absolutely gorgeous in Canberra this week. Temperatures up around thirty degrees, bright blue skies, sunshine. It feels more like summer than autumn most of the time.

Chris Miller 11th March 2017 Russia invaded Ukraine

A timely reminder from a very respected journalist in Europe.

A Ukrainian woman is behind bars in the United Arab Emirates at the moment because doctors found out she is pregnant to her fiancé. They are “testing” her to find out how long she has been sexually active, which sounds like an appalling abuse of a woman’s basic rights.

You’re not allowed to have premarital sex in the UAE, and women are imprisoned for reporting rapes. Please be aware that just because Dubai and Abu Dhabi look shiny and tourists love them doesn’t mean it isn’t an Islamic country with some terribly restrictive laws – especially for women.

I have to travel through there are few more times this year, and I really wish I wasn’t. Qantas sends their flights through there a lot now, and codeshares with Emirates, which is one of the worst airlines I have ever experienced.

Also on my list of “things that annoyed me this week”, this article:

Pope may allow married Catholic men as priests

The reason it annoys me? Ukrainian Catholic men – married, soon to be married, planning to be married – have ALWAYS been able to become priests. For centuries. Most of the priests I’ve ever known have been married – with children.

This is allegedly such a groundbreaking idea, but once again people totally ignore the fact this is already, and always has been, a thing.

Nobody knows anything about Ukraine, but you’d think a journalist or two might mention this extremely relevant fact!

And then there’s:

Muhammad Ali’s son detained at US airport for second time

He’s a flipping US citizen! What is wrong with Trump’s version of America??!

My review of Outback Cowboy (Hot Aussie Heroes Book 1) by Margareta Osborn

My review of Devil in Spring (Ravenels #3) by Lisa Kleypas

My review of A Temporary Family by Sherri Shackelford

Patricia Briggs’ New Book

Excuse me, cover designers…

Outback Cowboy (Hot Aussie Heroes Book 1) by Margareta Osborn


Carina Chapman wants a vacation. Somewhere hot. Somewhere decadent. Somewhere far, far away from her complicated life in New York. Somewhere in Australia appears to be the answer, until Carina discovers her PA has booked her into the wrong resort.

Cowboy Jake Richardson can cook a mean camp-oven roast, track wild horses, breed cattle and knows Australia’s rugged High Country like no other, but he needs to diversify if he wants to keep his land. Tourism seems like the answer, but his housekeeper just quit, the rooms aren’t ready and he doesn’t know a short black from a cappuccino.

Then his first guest arrives.

City slick Carina is smart, classy and disgruntled that her dreamy five-star retreat has been replaced by a rustic homestead beside the Barcoo Creek. Jake has seven days to convince Carina he can deliver all the items on her vacation checklist – including the five-step method to an everlasting relationship…

With him.

Outback Cowboy (Hot Aussie Heroes Book 1) by Margareta Osborn

Margareta Osborn has a lot to achieve in a short space of time in Outback Cowboy.

We have an American heroine (from NYC, no less) who turns up in rural Australia with no idea what to expect, no idea what the local vernacular is, and no mental preparation whatsoever for an entirely different landscape and culture. And in this shorter story we have to believe she can transform into someone who could be in a permanent relationship with an Australian man from the land.

The title itself is a play on the language differences between the US and Australia (we tend to not call our men working the land cowboys).

This is a popular theme for rural romances the world over, and it can go one of two ways. Often authors fall into the trap of painting the “city girl” heroine as vain and stupid, and they make it all about her adjusting while he stays the same – this is when this theme doesn’t work for me.

When it does is when the hero learns a few things about himself, too, and doesn’t condemn the heroine for being from a different world.

I think Margareta Osborn achieved this. This is a hero who is out of his depth in trying to turn his property into a resort, and the heroine has a thing or ten to teach him about that. Sure, she is used to pampering and city life, but she’s definitely not stupid.

However, she is not particularly likeable at the beginning of the story. I have recently enjoyed a few books where an unlikable heroine transforms as we get to know her better. It’s sort of a taboo theme for the romance genre, as readers are always much faster to hate a prickly heroine than they are a bastard of a hero.

So I really appreciate when an author takes some risks with their female characters. Women are allowed to make mistakes and still be liked.

The language differences were done well; I hate it when the culture clash is turned into a joke, but it was done more subtly here. The only thing I noted was that our American leading lady was immediately thinking of eucalypts as “gum trees”. When I worked at an American school in Asia and we hit the Australian studies unit, nobody knew what a gum tree was.

Oh, and the fact she immediately understood temperatures in degrees Celsius!

This is a smaller publisher, and I do think they need to give some more attention to their editing, as there were missing commas and extra apostrophes, and little distractions that occasionally drew me out of the story.

However, this was a solid, quick contemporary romance read that would work for people on either side of the Pacific Ocean.

Mem Fox gets apology after US detention

This is becoming ridiculous. People in the US probably aren’t aware that – for foreigners – entering America has been an intimidating experience since the George W Bush days. People have to be fingerprinted and photographed like criminals if they want to come for a holiday.

Now though, under Trump, the power has gone to people’s heads. Because it doesn’t affect them, many in the US probably don’t realise how bad it is.

When famous, seventy-year-old children’s authors are being treated like this…?!


Best-selling Australian author Mem Fox may never return to the United States after being detained by immigration officials at Los Angeles Airport, saying she has never been “treated with such disdain”.

“I felt like I had been physically assaulted which is why, when I got to my hotel room, I completely collapsed and sobbed like a baby. And I’m 70 years old,” she told the ABC.

Fox has received an apology after lodging complaints with the Australian embassy in Washington and the United States embassy in Canberra.

However she says she is unlikely to return to America after the experience earlier this month.

She told the ABC she was questioned for two hours by customs officers who appeared to have been given “turbocharged power” by President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration.

“I have never in my life been spoken to with such insolence, treated with such disdain, with so many insults and with so much gratuitous impoliteness,” she said.


Fox is the author of several best-selling children’s books including Possum Magic, Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, Wombat Divine and Where is the Green Sheep?