The Week: 6th – 12th November

Canberra Spring Sunset After the Rain Sonya Heaney 6th November 2017 Sky Clouds Nature Tree

Monday sunset after some desperately-needed rain in Canberra.

Flags across the country have been lowered to honour one of Australia's former governors-general, Sir Ninian Stephen, who died on October 29. Parliament House Canberra 8th November 2017

The flag of Australia’s Parliament House, Canberra at half-mast for the funeral of our former Governor-General Ninian Stephen on Wednesday. I took it from the car (the sun reflecting off the metal is a bit distracting!). Flags at all of Canberra’s national monuments were lowered for the occasion.

Spring Roses Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Sunny Afternoon Blue Sky Pink Flowers Pink Roses 9th October 2017 Garden Natre

The spring roses are out in Canberra.

There are many things I could say this week. However, I will just comment on gymnastics (a sport I won medals in, my brother was on the Olympic squad of, and I later coached). It seems that most US Olympic gymnastics stars for years have been victims of a paedophile/sex abuser. People are saying this is even worse than the stories coming out of Hollywood. It seems so.

Hearing that the champions from the last few Olympics were sexually abused hours before we watched them win medals is… it upset me so much. I hope they get some justice for it.

My review of Hold Her Again by Shannon Stacey

Hold Her Again by Shannon Stacey

My review of Mail-Order Christmas Baby (Montana Courtships #1) by Sherri Shackelford

Mail-Order Christmas Baby (Montana Courtships #1) by Sherri Shackelford

‘We’re told to be grateful we even have readers’

Amazon kindle Ebooks

New Release for Mary Balogh

Someone to Wed (Westcott #3) by Mary Balogh

Melbourne Cup Day

Promises by Cathryn Hein

Remembrance Day

AWM_060483_Australian_21st_Brigade_troops_Ramu_Valley_1943 Soldiers from the Australian 21st Brigade move down from the Finisterre Range into the Ramu Valley 9th November 1943

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Melbourne Cup Day

Today is Melbourne Cup day in Australia (one of the world’s most prestigious horse races). I have zero interest in the race, and couldn’t name a single horse, so instead here are a few horse-themed books I would recommend:

Promise Canyon (Virgin River #13) by Robyn Carr

Promise Canyon (Virgin River #13) by Robyn Carr

Promises by Cathryn Hein

Promises by Cathryn Hein

Heartland by Cathryn Hein

Heartland by Cathryn Hein

There is also Life as I know it by Michelle Payne – the first woman to win the Melbourne Cup (in 2015), if you DO have an interest in the race. However, her reputation has been a little tainted as she recently failed a drug test…

life-as-i-know-it-by-michelle-payne-and-john-harms

Melbourne Cup Day

life-as-i-know-it-by-michelle-payne-and-john-harms

The first Tuesday of November is the day of the Melbourne Cup, one of the world’s major horse races. I wanted to mention a book I had a review copy of when I was in Europe, and forgot to review!

In last year’s race, Michelle Payne became the first female jockey to win, and when got up onstage to receive her trophy she famously told sexist men in the industry to ‘get stuffed’.

Of course everyone rushed to get Payne-related things out there while her name was still fresh in people’s minds, and so a few months later her biography came out.

Now, this is definitely no masterpiece of literature – it’s very simply written – but there are worse biographies you could be reading! I’m not a great fan of horse racing beyond appreciating the pretty horses (and am not really enjoying the fad for horse racing historical romances at the moment), but this book is about someone who overcame huge odds to get where she was, and that’s a story most people can enjoy and identify with.

The Week: 15th – 21st August

Hotel Hotel Canberra Australia Foyer Entrance Sonya Heaney 17th August 2016

Award-winning foyer of award-winning(!) Hotel Hotel in Canberra for lunch with Ukrainian embassy friends on Wednesday.

Parliament House and Science Week Flags Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 17th August 2016

Science Week flags on the way to Australian Parliament on Wednesday afternoon.

Battle of Long Tan Fiftieth Anniversary Commemoration Christopher Heaney Sonya Heaney 18th August 2016 Canberra Australia Anzac ParadeDSCN8164Battle of Long Tan Fiftieth Anniversary Commemoration Christopher Heaney Sonya Heaney 18th August 2016 Canberra Australia Anzac ParadeDSCN8208

(My father’s view.)

Thursday was the fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan. Here in Canberra we had the national ceremony, on Anzac Parade near the Australian War Memorial.

  canberralongtanflover

One of the military planes that came straight over our house. X

My father attended, and then when he was going out to lunch with another veteran afterwards, someone saw their medals and paid for their lunch without them knowing about it!

Australia didn’t win anywhere near as many medals as expected at the Rio Olympics (considering how much money we pour into sport), but we just won the women’s Modern Pentathlon.

Australia's Chloe Esposito wins shock gold at Rio Olympics in modern pentathlon

(Notice all the empty seats in the background.)

Chloe Esposito pictured after her swim.

I actually saw this event at the Sydney Games in 2000, and even though it gets NO attention, it’s pretty amazing. The athletes have to compete in fencing, swimming, horse jumping, shooting and running – that’s five sports, not just running or swimming in a line for a few seconds and then getting multi-million-dollar endorsements!

It’s sad nobody gives them any notice.

But what an odd Olympics in general. The cheating. The idiotic behaviour of some athletes. The locals moving non-Brazilian athletes to tears in many sports because they boo everyone like it’s all so much fun. Not exactly the Olympic spirit!

_90815521_lavllenie_nowwordstweetPole-vaulter Renaud Lavillenie consoled by Thiago Braz and Sergei Bubka after he was booed at medal ceremony.

The gymnastics equipment from Rio is being donated to Ukraine at the end of the event. Many of history’s most successful gymnasts – including the most successful woman in Olympic history, in any sport – have been Ukrainian or Belarusian (though the world refers to all people from the USSR as “the Russians”!), but now with the invasion Ukraine has NO money for the sport. They still managed a silver and a gold this time.

My review of Shelter Me: A Shelter Novel by Stephanie Tyler

Shelter Me A Shelter Novel by Stephanie Tyler

My review of Here Without You by Tammara Webber

here-without-you-by-tammara-webber

Newest by Tammara Webber

Brave (Contours of the Heart #4) by Tammara Webber

Rio’s most amazing athlete.

Oksana_Chusovitina_(vault)_04-2011

This is not related to books! However, at the Olympics the women’s vault final in the gymnastics competition is on very soon, and I wanted to mention one of the competitors.

Uzbekistan’s Oksana Chusovitina is the last Soviet gymnast, and now – twenty-five years after the collapse of the USSR – she is still going strong.

World Champion for the Soviet Union in 1991, Olympic Champion for the Unified Team in 1992, World Champion for Uzbekistan in 2003, Olympic silver medallist for Germany in 2008.

Oksana is a mother of a grown son (who was terminally ill as a child) who is older than many of the gymnasts she is competing against, a coach, and now at forty-one – in the hardest sport there is – is in another Olympic final.

Rozalia Galiyeva (Uzbekistan), Tatiana Gutsu (Ukraine), Tatiana Lysenko (Ukraine), Oksana Chusovitina (Uzbekistan), Elena Grudneva (Russia), and Svetlana Boginskaya (Belarus).

Chusovitina (4th from left). 1992 Olympic Champion.

Read this.

She has survived the collapse of her training system. Her best event – vault – is now performed on a totally different apparatus, and she learnt how to do that, and still win World and Olympic medals on it. She has learnt entirely different skills from those she was taught in the 1980s.

She trains herself most of the time – unlike gymnasts from other countries who have gazillions poured into their gymnastics programs.

For me, this is the most amazing story of the Olympic Games, and if you’re talking about “greatest” in relation to gymnastics, she has to be one of the closest to it. Every Olympics has a teenage It Girl, but there’s only one Chusovitina.

The week: 25th – 31st July

Winter Sunset Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 30th July 2016 Sky Clouds Nature 1IMG_0518

Saturday sunset in Canberra.

Winter Lake Burley griffin Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Seagulls Telstra Tower Black Mountain Sun Nature 30th July 2016

On Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra yesterday afternoon.

Friday Winter Sunset Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 29th July 2016 Sky Clouds Nature

Friday’s sunset in Canberra – taken on my blurry old camera.

Queanbeyan to Canberra Australia Winter Sky Clouds Driving Sonya Heaney 29th July 2016 Nature

The sky two hours before the sunset above!

Flags fly at half-mast at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics after two were killed and 111 injured in a bombing for an anti-abortion and anti-gay agenda.

This week marked the twentieth anniversary of the bombing at the Atlanta Olympics – when a man went and blew up Olympic Park because he didn’t want women to have abortions. Seriously. Ugh.

Cat missing for eight years found 280 miles away in Paris Cat missing for eight years found 280 miles away in Paris Moon Uint

My favourite story of the week. This cat went missing in London eight years ago, and turned up as a stray in PARIS.

Now Google is on Putin's payroll. They have redone Google Maps to change Ukrainian place names into the Russian names. Crimea.

Now Google is on Putin’s payroll. They have redone Google Maps to change Ukrainian place names into Soviet Russian names. This is just… sickening. Is there anyone Moscow isn’t capable of buying? If it was anywhere other than Ukraine, the world would care.

Ukrainian GYmnast Lilia Podkopayeva 1995 World Champion 1996 Olympic Champion

Back when gymnastics was gorgeous! Actual artistic gymnastics. That’s the 1996 Olympic champion.

I am not at all excited about the upcoming Olympics. So many drug cheats. So many other issues with the venue. The Australian part of the athletes’ village just caught on fire, and then they were robbed while they were being “saved”!

The maintenance staff were smoking (the village is allegedly a non-smoking location). The Brazilian officials turned off the fire alarms, so…

And the sport I have been following (and was for a while, very closely involved with) my whole life – gymnastics – I am not that interested in anymore. The sport is supposed to be artistic gymnastics, but now it’s just not. This former ballet dancer thinks gymnastics is an ugly, messy sport these days (thank you, new scoring system that pushes big, poorly executed tricks over technique or finesse!).

Anyway, I thought I’d get my Olympics-related rant out now, before the competition begins! 🙂

The anniversary of Pride and Prejudice

PrideundprejudicePoster for the 1940 film Pride and Prejudice.

So – how did they go?

Taking Fire (One-Eyed Jacks #4) by Cindy Gerard

My review of Willow Springs (Destiny Series #5) by Toni Blake

Willow Springs (Destiny Series #5) by Toni Blake

My review of Good For You by Tammara Webber

good-for-you-by-tammara-webber

My review of Taming the Highland Rogue (The MacLerie Clan #4.6) by Terri Brisbin

Taming the Highland Rogue (The MacLerie Clan #4.6) by Terri Brisbin

Romance + Bull Riders

A while ago, when Harlequin announced a series of books featuring professional bull riders as heroes, I didn’t realise how seriously they were taking it!

It turns out the bull riders were actually involved in the whole thing, as you can see in this article, and in a series of videos on Harlequin’s YouTube channel, such as the one below.

I haven’t read any of these yet, but now I sort of want to read one, just to see if they’re different from the usual category romance style of book.