The Week: 24th – 30th April

Gorgeous Friday afternoon in Canberra.

Autumn colours this week.

Autumn Flowers Garden Canberra Australia After the Rain Sonya Heaney 26th April 2017 Nature

After the rain. Wednesday afternoon. We have autumn flowers everywhere all of a sudden.

Autumn FINALLY hit us this week. So annoying that Tuesday – Anzac Day – was not a nice day, when we’d been having summer weather until now. We apparently had 38 000 people at the dawn service at the Australian War Memorial here in Canberra, thousands more than other cities with populations six or more times ours. Not a bad effort!

Christopher Heaney Australian Army Vietnam War 1968 1969 IMG_0078My father in Nui Dat (Vietnam) in the 1960s.

We went to lunch with my war veteran father, who’d been planning to march this year (he never does), but then changed his mind. The place we chose was almost completely booked out for a reunion of military intelligence people – so many men and women with their medals! My father impressed them, however. One actually commented he was a “real” veteran because of all the combat he’d seen.

On Saturday evening I went to buy some wine – and got asked for ID again (or “carded”, as I believe Americans say). Now, I’m closer to forty than thirty, and the legal drinking age here is eighteen. I first worked in a bar in the year 2000. Exactly what point in time are people going to stop asking me if I’m older than schoolchildren?! People keep saying: take it as a compliment. But… Especially when it’s a teenager at the cash register! I think: I am literally old enough to be your mother!

The bombed car on the back of a truck after the attack.

This week an American citizen was killed in a Russian car bomb in Ukraine. (RT News – the Kremlin’s English-language propaganda channel – was on the scene within three minutes of the bombing, because that’s NOT suspicious in any way!!). Whereas Donald Trump was all over Twitter about the American killed in the Westminster terror attack, calling him a hero and all of that, there was deafening silence from the US government over what was essentially a political assassination in Ukraine.

I guess the president only values some Americans…

My review of Blindsided (Men of Steele #3) by Gwen Hernandez

Anzac Day – Recommended Reads

Lisa Kleypas Interview

Vintage War Romance

Free read over at Harlequin

The Handmaid’s Tale Premieres

A note on something that happened last week.

Anzac Day – Recommended Reads

Vietnam War Memorial Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 30th May 2015

Me on Anzac Parade, the huge, memorial-lined road that leads up to the museum.

Today is Anzac Day, Australia and new Zealand’s biggest day for our war veterans. The national ceremony at the Australian War Memorial here in Canberra is televised, and before that there’s a dawn service (which I have never been to, despite coming from a family of veterans, but I always hear the neighbours getting up at about 4am!).

hall-of-remembrance-australian-war-memorial-canberra-australia-anzac-day-25th-april-2015-sonya-heaney-oksana-heaney

We usually drop by the War Memorial a little later in the day and spend some time at the Vietnam War section.

I was trying to think of romance and suspense reads that involve Australian military or veterans, and came up with a few authors.

Hélène Young writes suspense books with some romance, and featuring Australian military characters.

Shattered-Sky-Front-Cover1-190x300

Barbara Hannay’s The Secret Years is set half in the Second World War and half in the present, and I really enjoyed it. The woman in the WW2 part is posted to the consulate in Canberra.

The Secret Years by Barbara Hannay

Sarah Mayberry has a really good book about a female veteran.

More Than One Night by Sarah Mayberry

Joan Kilby’s Protecting her Son involves an Australian Special Forces veteran, and has a scene at the end set at the War Memorial above!

Protecting Her Son

Fiona Greene’s Home For Christmas – well, the cover and title tell you what you need to know!

Home For Christmas by Fiona Greene

Karly Lane writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction, with some themes involving veterans.

tallowood-bound-by-karly-lane

And, for Kiwi veteran heroes, there is Karina Bliss’ New Zealand Special Forces series, beginning with Here Comes the Groom.

here-comes-the-groom-by-karina-bliss

The Week: 17th – 23rd April

Yesterday in Canberra

It is so gorgeous here at the moment. I have no idea why it’s still so warm, when we’re about two-thirds of the way through autumn. The autumn colours are really late this year. I can only find a handful of trees with autumn leaves – this is just a photograph from a set of steps on my street!

So, this happened this week. My mother was in the middle of it. Bizarrely, neither the police nor the media reported it for 2.5 days after it happened. Then they were “seeking witnesses”? It’s a bit late after all the witnesses have #1 – stopped checking the news, and #2 – forgotten all the important facts!

The-Christmas-Cowboy-Hero-by-Donna-Grant-300

When there are Christmas books already being advertised – and you’re still getting over Christmas!

I have something to say about trust in writers, bizarre attitudes to politics, and an author I respected watching a propaganda film and then calling a Putin ally “a hero of our generation”, but I need a day or two to get over my anger and incredulity first!

My review of The Bad Luck Bride (The Cavensham Heiresses #1) by Janna MacGregor

Not-So-Contemporary Romance: The Paradox of Disenfranchised Heroines

Coming Up for Anne Gracie

Because enough time has passed…??

The Week: 10th – 16th April

Happy Easter! We are being very Ukrainian. That bowl of pysanky (Ukrainian hand-painted Easter eggs)? All of them were all made by us in the 1980s – I was VERY young then! They take forever to make, but they are so badly faded now. We need to make some more, but these days it’s illegal to import a lot of the important stuff needed to make them to Australia (customs regulations are very strict here). Also, these days all eggs in the shops are murky brown and stamped with ink numbers. You need white eggs to paint.

The blue embroidery is from the Lviv region of Ukraine, where my grandmother and her family comes from. The black embroidery is from central Ukraine.

The candle holders are also from there; my aunt just bought them for us as a present – the floral design is so typical of Ukraine.

Autumn in Canberra is generally gorgeous! This was Good Friday at the Kingston Foreshore.

Autumn sunshine:

King Parrots everywhere around here in autumn.

The world has been so crazy this week, I can’t even be bothered discussing it!

 Rules of the Road for the Regency Language

Behind the Scenes at Harlequin

My review of A Sense of Sin (Dartmouth Brides #2) by Elizabeth Essex

My review of Distracting the Duke (Wayward in Wessex #1) by Elizabeth Keysian

Surely I’m not the only one…

The Week: 3rd – 9th April

^^^^

Driving from Queanbeyan to Canberra on Thursday afternoon. A few hours later there was a terror attack in Queanbeyan, and this road was the one the attackers used to escape interstate (the state border is at the rise up ahead on the road). Now I’ll always think of that when I see this gorgeous picture.

More of that lower in this post.

^^^^

Visiting the Treasures of Versailles exhibition at the National Gallery yesterday. Canberra has had an exclusive exhibition from Versailles for a few months now (including stuff like Marie Antoinette’s harp and Madame de Pompadour’s furniture), but because I was overseas I didn’t get there until this weekend. We actually tried to visit last week, but it was so busy everywhere we couldn’t even find a place to park! Yesterday the queue to get into the exhibition was so long it ran the entire length of the building, but we were determined to visit! It ends next week.

Dropping my brother home in the city yesterday afternoon.

Gorgeous, sunny autumn afternoon.

Parrots everywhere in Canberra now the autumn berries are coming out.

There was an Islamic State-inspired terror attack here overnight from Thursday to Friday this week. Of course – because nothing makes the news unless it happens in Sydney or Melbourne – it was barely reported.

The details of it are appalling, and I won’t go into them, but two teenaged boys went on a fourteen-hour rampage. The final stabbing happened on my aunt’s street, a few metres from her front door – it could have been her.

The house one of the attackers lived in and that was raided by police is a few doors from the house my grandmother lived in until she died in 2015. The murder at the service station happened close to where I’d met people for lunch a few hours earlier, and near our Ukrainian hall. The two guys were caught across the border here in Canberra, a few streets from my house, on a road I’d been down twice that day.

Literally every location a crime was committed during the rampage was somewhere I’d been on Thursday, and also somewhere I had a personal connection to.

While Canberra is the capital city, Queanbeyan is basically a country town, a small community just over the state border, and it is so shocking that now terrorism can literally happen anywhere.

I’m so angry that it barely made the news, because things only get reported if they happen in “known” cities.

A Visit to Dr Johnson’s House

Meet the ‘Grammar Vigilante’ of Bristol

My review of A Perfect Gentleman by Candace Camp

My review of Courtship and Marriage in Jane Austen’s World (Jane Austen Regency Life #2) by Maria Grace

Make a Date with Harlequin – Viking!

Make a Date with Harlequin – Cowboy!

The Week: 27th March – 2nd April

Evening Autumn Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Garden Nature 26th March 2017 2

Canberra Autumn

Driving home from lunch with Ukrainian embassy people on Thursday. Storm clouds coming over Australian Parliament.

Yesterday I finally – finally – saw some autumn colours. Not many, but it’s a start. It has been a strange year, with an overly hot March.

We planned to go the Versailles exhibition at the National Gallery yesterday (Canberra has a huge collection of things on loan from the palace in France), but could literally not find a parking spot anywhere in the Parliamentary Triangle (at least on the correct side of the lake!). Not at the gallery, not at the National Portrait Gallery, not at Old Parliament House, not at the National Science and Technology Centre, not at the National Library!

So we went to the Kingston Foreshore and had a long, late lunch instead.

Older shot of the foreshore, because my pictures from yesterday are… not good.

Here’s a popular Victorian-era April Fools’ Day joke. The day is going out of fashion, but I did actually see a few half-convincing hoaxes around this year, for the first time in ages.

However, I also thought some real news stories (one of them about Trump) were April Fools jokes, they were so outrageous! But then I remembered it was still Friday the 31st of March in other countries when it was Saturday the 1st of April here.

Now for a little bit of sexism from this week:

Does anything really need to be said about the Daily Mail and rampant sexism? Nah, this is actually classier than most of the stories they run, as sad as that is.

Maybe the people at that paper can’t cope with most of the British Isles being run by women!

There’s a lot that can be said about world politics this week, none of it good. I’ll just say this about the Mike Flynn-Russia picture above:

That’s the RT News (Russia Today) gala from December 2015. That means one of Trump’s “top people” thought it was okay to hang out with Putin nearly two years into his war in Ukraine that has claimed thousands upon thousands upon thousands of lives.

Above is the RT logo. They rebranded themselves so nobody realises it’s the Kremlin propaganda “news” channel. If you Google the news, please don’t click on links to their stories, even if they seem legitimate. They pull you in with regular stories and then slip lies in. It’s how they’ve been waging war on Ukraine, and how they helped Trump win.

My review of I Dared the Duke (The Wayward Wallflowers #2) by Anna Bennett

Man returns library book after thirty-five years.

“Some possibly unpopular thoughts” – by Isobel Carr

Margaret Atwood sets Trump supporters straight on Handmaid’s Tale controversy.

‘Beauty and the Beast’ is a lot creepier when it’s not a cartoon

Brooding YA Hero

The Week: 20th – 26th March

Canberra’s sky this week.

We started the week so well! Temperatures in the 30s, sunny days. And then the rain hit. It’s so odd to have rain in Canberra at all, let alone a number of days in a row.

Friday evening.

The first Formula One race of the year is on in Melbourne this weekend, and it is the first time in about a decade I haven’t gone. We gave up our (crazy-expensive) premium seats after the race last year. The corruption in the sport was a real turn-off. Little did anyone know that new managers would sweep in and fire sleazy, misogynistic, Putin-loving boss Bernie Ecclestone soon afterwards!

However, all those thousands once spent on the F1 can now go to more trips to Europe!

There is something stirring in Belarus. If there’s one country in Europe people care even less about than Ukraine, it’s their neighbour. On Saturday there were protests; there’ve been mass arrests in Minsk – demonstrators and journalists alike (it is estimated about one thousand people were arrested); the riot police were out in force. The country’s opposition leader was arrested shortly before the protests began, and one woman was even put in a mental hospital for daring to protest.

This is Soviet-level stuff.

It looks like the stirrings of the 2013-14 revolution in Ukraine. Frightening, but important.

in other news, this story (below) yesterday was… even after reading it, I still don’t understand:

Naked demonstrators kill sheep under Auschwitz gates

Estonian children in a forced settlement in Siberia in 1952.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the beginning of the Kremlin’s mass deportation of 90 000 Baltic people (mostly women and children). They were sent to forced settlements in inhospitable parts of Russia, and most were never able to return.

I was on Westminster Bridge only three or so weeks ago (the photo above is from this month). The terror attack this week was… not unexpected. Sadly, I’m surprised it has been so long since something like this happened in London.

Some people have been saying: ‘Why should we care so much about London? How about (insert world conflict here)?’

Um… as if anybody cares about Yemen etc. any other day of the week! I wish they did!

People are allowed to care about London AND other things!

However, while everyone was distracted by London, Russia did some absolutely awful things in Ukraine this week. They assassinated a Russian Putin critic in the middle of Kyiv in broad daylight. They blew up the Ukrainian army’s biggest and most important munitions factory (the image above), heavily hampering their ability to fight the invasion. They killed more people in their war.

^^^^

This is an amazing – and funny – account mocking Putin, and if you have Twitter, you should follow it. Last year, the Kremlin actually bribed Twitter to ban it for a while – so much for freedom of speech! So they deserve support.

It seems bizarre that this week the US and the UK decided to put bans on electronics on aeroplanes, citing the need to stop terror attacks. The following day, a home-grown terrorist committed the London attack – without a Kindle, a laptop, a camera, OR a plane. Me not being able to take my Kindle when I fly through the Middle East twice more this year sure didn’t stop what happened in Westminster.

Travel is becoming exhausting. The ridiculous liquids ban on international flights was meant to have been lifted years ago. Instead, here we all are, still carrying lip gloss in little ziplock bags for no particular reason, and now we can’t even read a book during our flight!

I had to go through airport security FIVE times just to get home a few weeks ago. I wish there was a way I could do aeroplane-free travel, but it’s a bit of a problem, living on an island!

O-kay… I think the ranting is done for the moment.

Jugiong Writers’ Festival last weekend.

My review of The Prodigal Son (A Rowland Sinclair Novella) by Sulari Gentill

RITA Nominees Announced

A Visit to Charles Dickens’ House

Romance without feminism is no longer an option.

Monday Randomness