R.I.P. Denis Ten

2017 Shanghai Trophy

Horrifying news from Kazakhstan that ground-breaking figure skater Denis Ten, a world silver medallist and Olympic bronze medallist (both firsts for his country) has been murdered by two men trying to steal his car’s mirrors.

Ten was only twenty-five, and competed at the Pyeongchang Games this year.

A Reminder

Over the days of the World Cup Third Place Playoff and Final, please remember that nobody should be enjoying soccer on Russian soil while the country is actively invading Ukraine, killing thousands of their neighbours, committing war crimes in Syria, assassinating political dissidents, torturing teenagers to death, committing ethnic cleansing in Crimea, shooting down airliners, illegally occupying parts of Georgia, illegally occupying parts of Moldova, committing war crimes in Ukraine, persecuting Catholics and Muslims and Jews, and actively trying to destroy Western democracies.

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Ukrainian artist Andriy Yermolenko has created an alternative series of posters for the FIFA World Cup in Russia which is set to start on 14 June. war

A Reminder

Over the days of the World Cup Semi-Finals, please remember that nobody should be enjoying soccer on Russian soil while the country is actively invading Ukraine, killing thousands of their neighbours, committing war crimes in Syria, assassinating political dissidents, torturing teenagers to death, committing ethnic cleansing in Crimea, shooting down airliners, illegally occupying parts of Georgia, illegally occupying parts of Moldova, committing war crimes in Ukraine, persecuting Catholics and Muslims and Jews, and actively trying to destroy Western democracies.

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Ukrainian artist Andriy Yermolenko has created an alternative series of posters for the FIFA World Cup in Russia which is set to start on 14 June

The Week: 18th – 24th June

Winter Sunshine Blue Sky Sonya Heaney 19th June 2018 Eucalyptus Tree Gum Tree Canberra Australia Australian Capital Territory Nature

Winter sunshine in Canberra.

And at the cemetery near the New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory state border on Friday afternoon.

And Lake Burley Griffin on Saturday afternoon.

R.I.P. Errol Pickford

Errol Pickford as Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet © Leslie Spatt Royal Ballet Royal Opera House

Happy Birthday to an Icon

Oksana_Chusovitina_(vault)_04-2011

My review of Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

My review of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Beyond my limit!

How much more ridiculous can it get?

Cockygate apllication to trademark the word BIG cockybot

Happy Birthday to an Icon

Today is Oksana Chusovitina’s birthday. She is now forty-three.

In a world where female athletes rarely get the attention they deserve, I want to mention this seven-time Olympic gymnastics star who also happens to be the mother of an adult son.

Chusovitina was:

* Born in the Soviet Union (Uzbekistan), and is quite possibly the last active Soviet-trained athlete in the world.

* She won her first World Championship titles for the USSR in *1991*, and Olympic gold the next year competing for the CIS.

* Surviving the breakup of the Soviet Union with her career intact (when many others lost funding and coaches), she competed for Uzbekistan at the 1996 Olympics, got married in 1997, and had a son in 1999.

* Immediately after having her child, she competed at the 2000 Olympics. And we’re talking gymnastics here: the hardest sport in the world.

* She won World silver in 2001, and then became World Champion again in 2003 – twelve years after her first win.

* Chusovitina’s son had major medical issues, and the family moved to Germany to access treatment.

* While competing for Germany, Chusovitina won Olympic silver in 2008 – sixteen years after winning her first Olympic medal.

* Since then, she has continued to compete, and compete, even though she is now forty-three and in such a physically demanding sport. She has also worked as a coach.

* She was supposed to retire after the 2012 Olympic vault final (where only the top eight gymnasts qualify – and she made it), but she turned up again at the 2016 Games.

Every gymnnastics generation has their “It Girl” the media goes crazy about when the Olympics come around, but if we’re talking about the greatest ever, my vote goes to Oksana.

The Week: 9th – 15th April

Ukrainian Easter Queanbeyan Catholic Church Australia 8th April 2018

Easter (8th April) at the Ukrainian Catholic church in Queanbeyan

This week seems to have gone fast. I’ve spent most of it being frustrated with the Commonwealth Games coverage (a hint, TV networks: very few people in the world find lawn bowls fascinating!), while trying to get work done around it.

Of course, the week began with Ukrainian Easter celebrations, and this weekend is when the processions around the cemeteries take place (I said before: Ukrainian Easter is HUGE!). We’re still having summer temperatures in Canberra, which is just weird, because other years all these traditions take place in weather that is very definitely autumn-themed.

However, we had a freak windstorm yesterday. Here is the state border:

One thing that has suffered a lot the past fortnight is my reading. I have been focused on other things, and have not had time to finish a single book – even though some of them are books I’ve been looking forward to for ages.

The Commonwealth Games

Lauren+Mitchell+19th+Commonwealth+Games+Day+pIDIDa3K6h5l19th Commonwealth Games - Day 2 Artistic Gymnastics

Reread: Kiss of Crimson (Midnight Breed #2) by Lara Adrian

Kiss of Crimson by Lara Adrian

Harlequin Artist Honoured on Canadian Stamp

Harlequin is so proud of our legendary cover artist, Will Davies! #CanadaPost is issuing a stamp in his honor in recognition of the over 500 book covers he designed.

It’s Christmastime… Again?

The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan

Travel in Regency Britain

stagec-coach-travel 19th century.

National Library Week

National Library Week United States

The Commonwealth Games

Lauren+Mitchell+19th+Commonwealth+Games+Day+pIDIDa3K6h5l19th Commonwealth Games - Day 2 Artistic Gymnastics

Australian World Champion gymnast Lauren Mitchell at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

The Commonwealth Games – the “Summer Olympics” for the fifty-three countries and member states of the British Commonwealth – are on now at the Gold Coast in Australia.

Because I’ve been a gymnastics person since I was three, of course I’m back in a sporty mindset. I haven’t even recovered from the Winter Olympics yet!

I have reviewed some sport-themed books on this blog, but books about gymnastics tend to be written for the under-eighteens. Perhaps that will change in the future, as there are now Olympic medallists in their thirties (and finalists in their forties!).

It’s okay to not win!

Winter Olympic Gold Silver Bronze Medals Pyeongchang Korea 2018

Partially because of the recent Winter Olympics, and partially because I’m just interested in it, I’ve recently read quite a few books about Olympic athletes. Some have been young adult books, some new adult, and some very adult. They’ve been about figure skating, snowboarding, swimming…

One thing they all have in common: every character who wants one ends up winning an Olympic gold medal.

Now, readers might see this as the only acceptable end to a book about an aspiring Olympian, but I beg to differ. In fact, I find the gold at the end of many of these books eyeroll-inducing.

I know most authors have no experience with an elite discipline, be it sport of dance or whatever. Nobody – not even the most talented person in history – goes into something ever expecting to make it anywhere near the top. Hoping, yes. Expecting, no.

To be an Olympic champion, all the stars – and then some – have to align. An athlete maybe won’t peak at the right time. They might get injured. Something well beyond their control might mean they miss out.

Many of the world’s best athletes – people who have been world champion multiple times – never win Olympic gold. Many don’t win an Olympic medal of any colour. Some never even make it to the Olympics. I would rather read about a hero or heroine who overcomes struggles in the book and finishes happy with Olympic silver or bronze than to read these impossible fairy tales coming true.

This is especially the case in a romance, when reading about a heroine ending up with gold, multi-million dollar endorsements, AND the perfect guy often reads more like a sixth-grader’s fan fiction fantasy than a book set in the real world.

Here are some real-life stories:

1. US gymnast Shawn Johnson arrived at the 2008 Olympics as the reigning world champion in the all-around, floor, and team events, and was the favourite to bring home a bagful of gold medals. The pressure on her was enormous.

However: she won silver in every event she was expected to take gold in. At only sixteen the media wrote story after story about how she’d failed her big test.

She pulled herself back together, and then – in the very last event on the very last day – surprised everyone by becoming an unlikely champion on the balance beam.

2. Canadian figure skater Elvis Stojko came into the 1998 Olympics as the world champion from three of the previous four years.

However: Secretly sick, injured, and unable to take painkillers because of drug testing, he ended up in second.

3. US figure skater Michelle Kwan won eight world medals – five gold – and is considered one of the best skaters in history.

However: she managed silver in her first Olympics, bronze in her second, and then got injured at the third and didn’t make it onto the ice.

4. Ukrainian gymnast Oksana Omelianchik, competing for the USSR, is considered one of the best in history, and her floor routine is still famous. She is a three-time world champion.

However: she went through a growth spurt, lost some of her technique, and by the time the Olympics came round she was only a reserve and was left off the team.

^^^^^^^^^

For me, these are better stories.

These are amazing athletes with amazing achievements, but their stories are much more interesting and believable. I don’t want to read a book in any genre where everyone is perfect and gets everything. And it seems that authors are frightened to write a book about sport where everything doesn’t turn out perfectly in the end.

I wish they would take a chance.

The Week: 19th – 25th March

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Moody sky at Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra on Saturday afternoon.

First autumn leaves in Canberra.

Our crazy resident brushtail possum and her baby curled up in the tree outside my room on Tuesday afternoon.

kaetlyn-osmond Canada_s Kaetlyn Osmond. 2018 World Figure Skating Champion.

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Huge congratulations to Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond, who just became the 2018 World Figure Skating Champion. I am SO disappointed this wasn’t the result at the Olympics a few weeks ago. Osmond is a complete skater, not a jumping machine with zero artistic merit.

This week the world’s last male white rhinoceros died. The species is about to become extinct. And the United States is run by a family who goes to Africa to trophy-hunt endangered animals…

One week until Easter, and March is basically over. What happened?! I am going away over the long weekend.

Coming Up for Mary Balogh

Someone to Trust (Westcott Book #5) by Mary Balogh

My review of First Comes Marriage (Huxtable Quintet #1) by Mary Balogh

First Comes Marriage (Huxtable Quintet #1) by Mary Balogh

My review of Offsetting Penalties by Ally Mathews

Offsetting Penalties by Ally Mathews

My review of Running Blind (Men of Steele #4) by Gwen Hernandez

Running Blind (Men of Steele #4) by Gwen Hernandez

Make a date with Harlequin: Prince

Harlequin Publishing Logo

Recommended Winter Sport Read

The Winter Olympics might be finished, but the Paralympics are still to come.

If you’re still looking for a winter sport-themed read, Treacherous Slopes by Terri Reed is about Olympic ski jumping.

It is a Love Inspired Suspense book, which means it is a shortish romantic suspense with a hint of a Christian theme.

I reviewed the book four years ago, when the last Olympics were on. The blurb is beneath the cover.

Treacherous Slopes by Terri Reed

KILLER COMPETITION

A champion ski jumper, Nick Walsh wants one thing: to win the gold for his late brother. Nick has always blamed himself for his family’s tragic loss—and so does everyone else. To complicate things, sweet and shy reporter Julie Frost insists on doing a story about him. But as Nick gets closer to achieving his dream, someone will do anything to stop him. Somehow, Nick must keep Julie from getting too close as they confront a threat that can destroy them both. Julie and Nick are on the verge of discovering the truth about his brother’s death…unless an unknown murderer finds them first.