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

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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.

The Week: 19th – 25th February

^^^^

I have no idea why it keeps starting partway through!

Plenty of Winter Olympics-watching happened this week. The best moment was Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir winning ice dance gold.

R.I.P. to Emma Chambers

Kyiv Ukraine Euromaidan Memorials Sonya Heaney May 2016

This week marked four years since the pro-Russian snipers opened fire on the public in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city. The war rages on, even though I haven’t seen it in the Australian, European, or American news for a long time.

Ukraine's Oleksandr Abramenko won the men's aerials freestyle skiing gold medal to break Belarus' dominance in the event at the Winter Olympics..

Ukraine did win a gold medal in Pyeongchang, however!

My review of Gold Rush by Jennifer Comeaux

Gold Rush by Jennifer Comeaux

Lisa Kleypas News

Hello Stranger (Ravenels #4) by Lisa Kleypas

Out Soon

The Secret of Flirting (Sinful Suitors #5) by Sabrina Jeffries

Reread: My Life Next Door

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

The Bombing of London Library

On 23rd February 1944 The London Library came within a few feet of being totally destroyed. Bombed Second World War Two0241_-_The_Art_Room_19440238_-_

Yay, Canada!

Olympic Ice Dance Champions 2018 Tessa Virtue Scott Moir Pyeongchang Korea Canada

Sorry to everyone who comes here for the book reviews! I promise I’m back to regular stuff tomorrow.

However, how can I not have a little celebration for Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir for their incredible (third!) Olympic gold medal win only minutes ago?

Olympic Ice Dance Champions 2018 Tessa Virtue Scott Moir Pyeongchang Korea Canada.

I want to shoot Australian TV executives, who this year have decided to show all the skating on a three-hour delay. However, at least I’m not going to have a breakdown watching it as it happens. I  follow the live scores, and then watch on television, content knowing the results before I see them.