The Week 22nd – 28th April

Happy Easter – again! (I know – those aren’t pysanky in the bowl, but at least the embroidery is from Ukraine!)

The way the calendar works this year, it’s all too much in one go. Four days of Easter a week ago, and then Anzac Day here in Australia on Thursday, and now four more days of old-calendar/Ukrainian Easter – and then it’s Mother’s Day here a few days after that!

Winter just refuses to arrive in Canberra. Nearly two-thirds of the way through autumn, and the temperatures are still in the mid-twenties. No rain, either – which I’d be really happy to see at the moment…

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At the Australian War Memorial (which is here in Canberra), after the national Anzac Day service. That’s my Vietnam veteran father, and in the second picture you can see me looking at a Vietnam War display inside the museum with him. (I need to brush up on this stuff; I’m currently editing another veteran’s book!)

It was shocking this year to see all extra security and all the concrete barricades along the length of Anzac Parade (the giant boulevard that connects the War Memorial to the rest of the city, and the place the service happens). Terrorism is changing the world very fast.

Autumn Colours Autumn Leaves in the Garden Tuggeranong Canberra Australia April 2019 Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney 3

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Some autumn colours in Canberra.

New Book for Mary Balogh

and

Another Cover for Mary Balogh

Mary Balogh's next book Someone to Honour the sixth book in the Westcott family series UKAustralian Cover.

Nora Roberts sues Brazilian author, cites ‘multi-plagiarism’.

Cristiane Serruya has plagiarism scandal 1

Anzac Day Reads: Karina Bliss

A Prior Engagement by Karina Bliss

Anzac Day Reads: Helene Young

Wings of Fear (Border Watch #1) by Helene Young

Anzac Day Reads: Brynn Kelly

Edge of Truth by Brynn Kelly

Out Now: A Modest Independence by Mimi Matthews

A Modest Independence (Parish Orphans of Devon #2) by Mimi Matthews

Anzac Day Reads: Helene Young

Wings of Fear (Border Watch #1) by Helene Young

With Anzac Day coming up on the 25th, I’m recommending some Australian and New Zealand authors who have written about war veterans.

Anzac (“Australian and New Zealand Army Corps“) Day is our main day to commemorate those who served in the military.

Shattered Sky (Border Watch #2) by Helene Young

Today I’d like to recommend Australian author Helene Young, who has written romantic suspense books featuring military and former military characters.

You can read about her books HERE.

Love & Desire at the National Gallery

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Canberrans are so lucky to have the National Gallery of Australia. It’s one of the best galleries you’ll find anywhere, and we have some of the best special exhibitions.

At the moment, that special exhibition is Love & Desire – a collection of many of the world’s most famous Pre-Raphaelite works, visiting Canberra from all over (but mostly from the Tate Britain) for several months. We went to see it on Sunday, (and then we walked along the lake to the National Library for lunch on the terrace – it’s still really warm, considering it is mid-autumn here, as in summer-dress warm).

Something I didn’t learn until yesterday was how much William Morris stuff the gallery here actually owns.

Also, it was great to see some of the most famous Ballet Russes costumes out of storage and on display on the way in (we had the common sense to buy them all up before anybody else in the world realised their value. Now, if you want to see – say – Nijinsky’s most famous costumes, you have to come to Canberra!).

Here are a few of the famous works in the exhibition:

John William Waterhouse The Lady of Shalott 1888

John William Waterhouse The Lady of Shalott 1888

John Everett Millais Ophelia 1851-52

John Everett Millais Ophelia 1851-52

William Holman Hunt The awakening conscience 1853

(This is supposed to be a Victorian mistress waking up to how she shouldn’t be living in sin!)

William Holman Hunt The awakening conscience 1853

Ford Madox Brown The last of England 1864-66

(This is MUCH smaller than I always imagined it!)

Ford Madox Brown The last of England 1864-66

Dante Gabriel Rossetti Ecce ancilla domini! (The Annunciation) 1849-50

(This one is amazing and before its time, as it depicts the Virgin Mary being told she will give birth to Jesus as a terrifying moment.)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti Ecce ancilla domini! (The Annunciation) 1849-50

Penguin Bloom: The Odd Little Bird Who Saved a Family

Penguin Bloom The Odd Little Bird Who Saved a Family by Bradley Trevor Greive, Cameron Bloom (Photographer).

Penguin Bloom is an extraordinary true story full of hope and courage, featuring Cameron Bloom’s exceptional photographs and a captivating narrative by New York Times bestselling author Bradley Trevor Greive.

Penguin the Magpie is a global social media sensation. People the world over have fallen in love with the stunning and deeply personal images of this rescued bird and her human family. But there is far more to Penguin’s story than meets the eye. It begins with a shocking accident, in which Cameron’s wife, Sam, suffers a near fatal fall that leaves her paralysed and deeply depressed.

Into their lives comes Penguin, an injured magpie chick abandoned after she fell from her nest. Penguin’s rescue and the incredible joy and strength she gives Sam and all those who helped her survive demonstrates that, however bleak things seem, compassion, friendship and support can come from unexpected quarters, ensuring there are always better days ahead. This plucky little magpie reminds us all that, no matter how lost, fragile or damaged we feel, accepting the love of others and loving them in return will help to make us whole.

Penguin Bloom: The Odd Little Bird Who Saved a Family by Bradley Trevor Greive, Cameron Bloom (Photographer).

Despite the title, this is a book about an Australian magpie (totally different breed to magpies in other countries) called Penguin, who was adopted by a family as a baby and then went on to become famous.

The (true) story went “viral”, and is soon to be released as a Hollywood movie.

I came across this book while on holiday at the coast, and read it in one sitting, though it was surprisingly long and with a lot more text than I was expecting – I was initially in it for the cute bird pictures!

penguin the magpie

Speaking of those pictures, they’re brilliant, and there are lots of them. The book is worth it for the photography alone.

However, there’s more to this story.

The mother of the family had an accident in Thailand which left her disabled and confined to a wheelchair. The book is as much about her coming to terms with her disability (which also left her without her senses of smell and taste) as it is about the bird, and the book begins with a chapter written by the husband, and ends with one written by the wife.

I’ll admit: the attempts to tie the relationship with Penguin to the woman’s personal journey were pretty flimsy. I doubt the bird actually had much at all to do with it, but I was willing to forgive it.

I’ve been living with a local family of magpies for years. Each spring they bring their babies to us, and they hang out on the front and back decks, singing, sleeping, occasionally attacking other birds in their territory. Never would I ever let one into the house, though twice a bird has sneaked inside, which was… interesting…

Which leads me to… it’s madness to keep a magpie inside. They make the most disgusting mess (yes, what you’re thinking). I was wondering about this family and their magpie, and it turns out that after a while they came to the same conclusion, and they moved her outside.

I’m dubious about the family’s behaviour taking the bird in in the first place. Once they leave the nest, baby magpies live on the ground for some time. Every spring, wildlife organisations beg people to leave them alone – they don’t need rescuing. Animal shelters fill up with “rescued” magpies that didn’t need rescuing in the first place, leaving vets completely frustrated.

However, my doubts aside, the story is an interesting one, and the photographs of the bird interacting with the magpie are brilliant. Australian magpies have a terrible reputation, as there are a few violent birds who attack humans in their territory in springtime. However, most magpies are lovely creatures – especially if they know you – and this book goes a long way to proving it.

The Week: 11th – 17th March

Happy St Patrick’s Day! (And happy birthday to my uncle, whose middle name is – you guessed it – Patrick!).

What a terrible week for New Zealand. I don’t think there’s anything that can be said about it that hasn’t already been said a thousand times over. Since I first visited Christchurch nearly a decade ago they have had a really rough time with earthquakes, and now a terror attack.

Canberra Day and Canberra Kangaroos

kangaroo-dog-and-man-810x520 ‘Only in Canberra’ Bizarre stand-off between kangaroo and dog caught on video

New Cover for Mary Balogh

My review of St. Patrick’s Journey by Calee M. Lee

Browser the Library Cat

Out Now: Toxic Game by Christine Feehan

Remember “Romantica”?

Our (In)Famous Canberra Kangaroo

Today is Canberra Day, which means a public holiday for people in the Australian Capital Territory. It seems like a good day to share the latest Canberra kangaroo video to make the world news!

Every so often a kangaroo story from this city “goes viral” – a consequence of our city being the “Bush Capital”, and of a kangaroo population explosion that means you see them jumping around the streets.

This time, it’s a Canberra paraglider who landed, only to be attacked by a passing eastern grey kangaroo. Watch the video – I love how he says hello to it, only to be attacked. He changes his tune very fast!

Bonus Story: this kangaroo in a standoff with a dog last week, five minutes’ walk from here!

The Week: 4th – 10th March

National Library of Australia Canberra Heatwave Early Autumn Heatwave Sonya Heaney 3rd March 2019

Sunny afternoon for lunch on the terrace at the National Library.

This week saw the premature deaths of two icons from when I was growing up: Beverly Hills 90210’s Luke Perry and The Prodigy’s Keith Flint. Australia saw another shocking murder of a woman by an ex who wouldn’t take no for an answer. It was a similar situation to the murder of a childhood friend of mine in 2015.

And in Russia, a huge crowd of people lined up to give flowers and bow to a statue of Stalin. Imagine the world’s reaction if they’d done this for Hitler in Germany…

Two brave activists – Yevgeny Suchkov and Olga Savchenko – were arrested for doing THIS at the event.

I was so unprepared for Luke Perry’s death. He defined my generation. I was going into high school when his character was finishing high school.

Even though I had all the Jason Priestley merchandise (t-shirts, diaries, stickers etc.), Perry was the 90210 actor who emerged as the biggest star – and was apparently a great man behind the scenes. He was one of THE faces of the 1990s, enough that he was featured across the board in other iconic pop culture shows like The Simpsons:

Brian Austin Green, Jason Priestley and Luke Perry in the 90210 opening credits:

My review of How the Right Lost Its Mind by Charles J. Sykes

The New Cover Trend

Cover Love