So – how did they go?

 I have finished all of the books I listed or discussed as my most anticipated reads of 2016. It was never a comprehensive list, as I tend to read what comes up for review rather than keep track of favourite authors’ newer releases.

Now I have read all of those I mentioned either here or separately – was I disappointed? Not really. Even though I was excited about all of the books below, some I was aware were going to be a little bit of a let-down; it was the series rather than the individual book I was excited about.

There were some great reads, however.

Now, what books are being released in the second half of the year that I have forgotten all about?!

Review: Marrying Winterborne (Ravenels #2) by Lisa Kleypas

Marrying Winterborne (2016) by Lisa Kleypas

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

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

Review: One with You (Crossfire #5) by Sylvia Day

One With You by Sylvia Day

Review: The Wicked Duke (Wicked Trilogy #3) by Madeline Hunter

The Wicked Duke (Wicked Trilogy #3) by Madeline Hunter

Review: The Summer Bride (Chance Sisters #4) by Anne Gracie

The Summer Bride (Chance Sisters book 4) by Anne Gracie

Review: Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9) by Patricia Briggs

Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9) by Patricia Briggs International Cover

Review: The Many Sins of Cris de Feaux (Lords of Disgrace #3) by Louise Allen

The Many Sins of Cris de Feaux (Lords of Disgrace #3) by Louise Allen UK Cover

Review: The Unexpected Marriage of Gabriel Stone (Lords of Disgrace #4) by Louise Allen

The Unexpected Marriage of Gabriel Stone (Lords of Disgrace #4) by Louise Allen mills and Boon Cover

Spoilers in Reviews – or not having them without a warning…

One With You by Sylvia Day

It’s common sense, right? It’s rude and inconsiderate to publish a book review on or around the release date with major spoilers without any warning, giving away major character deaths and essentially ruining the book for most readers.

You’d think so, but by God, have I seen some major spoilers splashed across people’s reviews recently, and the book that prompted this post was Sylvia Day’s final Crossfire book, One with You.

Now, this was far from Day’s best book, so I wasn’t completely devastated, but as a mildly obsessive fan of the series, to have the ending completely ruined before I was halfway through was… not good.

I didn’t set out to read spoilers; it’s just that so many people thought nothing of spoiling the book for everybody else that I read it by accident.

After that, I thought: hey, it’s already ruined, so I’ll read some more reviews. Turned out about a third of the reviews I read – only ONE DAY after the book was released – spoiled every single plot twist.

It’s a bit like that Simpsons episode where Homer emerges from a screening of The Empire Strikes Back and announces to the people in the queue for the next session who Luke’s father is. Now, Homer is *supposed* to be ignorant and more than a bit stupid, but I don’t know what all these readers are thinking when they do the same thing.

Goodreads has a very easy to use function where you can hide the spoilers in your review so people have to click on them to read them.

It’s perfectly easy to add something along the lines of: **SPOILER WARNING!!** before you drop a bombshell in the middle of your Amazon or blog review.

Wouldn’t it be nice if more reviewers were considerate enough to do those things? 🙂

The Week: 11th – 17th April

Tuesday Autumn Sunset Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Sonya Oksana Heaney 12th April 2016 Sun Sky Trees Nature DSC09517DSC09515

Unedited shot of Tuesday’s sunset in Canberra.

I have NO idea what happened, but half a version of this post came up on my blog a few days ago, and I only just noticed! Whoops.

Only a few days left before we head overseas for two months. It seems like such a big effort – maybe I’ll stay at home! I am absolutely not organised, and while we’re still having near-summer temperatures here, over there it’s still almost as cold as winter. I don’t have room in my suitcase for winter stuff!

Maybe someone will sneak in the house and get all my things organised for me…

I’m also going to really miss the cat (Rex) the neighbours are looking after, who thinks he lives here and comes visiting for hours every morning, lunchtime, afternoon, night…

Rex Burmese Cat Cute

Rex

Seriously, I’m not that depressed about going! We will be back in the Ukraine for the first time since the revolution (which happened straight after we flew out the last time) and the Russian invasion immediately afterwards, so there’ll be some big changes. And then I’m hoping the sun will be out by the time we get to Italy!

Speaking of Russian invasions…

This is what Russian aggression in the Baltic Sea looks like

It’s always such an ordeal just getting to Europe from Australia. Flying to Sydney, then a ten hour flight to Asia, then hours in the airport, then a twelve hour flight to Europe, then hours in the airport, and then a few more hours on another flight to reach our destination. *SO* much fun!

I have been trying to get as much reading done as I can before I go, because I have a mountain of review books, but I’m not going to have them anywhere near finished. Hopefully I’ll get some reading done while I’m away, but you never have as much time as you think when you’re constantly on the go with other people in multiple countries.

On This Week

RT_Convention_2016Vegasbanner_v2-reduced

What goes into creating a cover for historical romance?

Duke-of-Pleasure-by-Elizabeth-Hoyt-300

My review of Mad For Love by Elizabeth Essex

Mad For Love by Elizabeth Essex

My review of One with You (Crossfire #5) by Sylvia Day

One With You by Sylvia Day

My review of You Can’t Always Get the Marquess You Want (Masters of Seduction #2) by Alexandra Hawkins

You Can't Always Get the Marquess You Want (Masters of Seduction #2) by Alexandra Hawkins

My review of Heir to the Duke (The Duke’s Sons #1) by Jane Ashford

Heir to the Duke (The Duke's Sons #1) by Jane Ashford

One with You (Crossfire #5) by Sylvia Day

One With You by Sylvia Day

Gideon Cross. Falling in love with him was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. It happened instantly. Completely. Irrevocably.

Marrying him was a dream come true. Staying married to him is the fight of my life. Love transforms. Ours is both a refuge from the storm and the most violent of tempests. Two damaged souls entwined as one.

We have bared our deepest, ugliest secrets to one another. Gideon is the mirror that reflects all my flaws … and all the beauty I couldn’t see. He has given me everything. Now, I must prove I can be the rock, the shelter for him that he is for me. Together, we could stand against those who work so viciously to come between us.

But our greatest battle may lie within the very vows that give us strength. Committing to love was only the beginning. Fighting for it will either set us free … or break us apart.

 

One with You (Crossfire #5) by Sylvia Day

The Crossfire series, that started off with two spectacular, addictive books, was supposed to be a trilogy, and then got extended – and extended. Were five books necessary? In a word: no.

One with You is getting mixed reviews, for obvious reasons. It reads like a first draft that has been patched together haphazardly.

While I still love the world Sylvia Day has created: wealth and power in New York City, with people who (unlike in the Fifty Shades series) are convincing in their lifestyles. They work, they wield that power, and they truly live that lifestyle. What gave Eva the edge over Fifty’s weakling Ana is that she was in every way an equal to her man.

In this book, however, the characters waffle around doing nothing, rehashing issues that were dealt with and put to bed a couple of books ago, attending lengthy, boring psychologist’s appointments, picking fights with each other and arguing like immature teenagers.

And what the hell is with that important engraved bangle that disappears after one scene??

One thing I was SO glad of: the author didn’t rush into babies and rainbows. I know many readers like their pretty bows and endless pregnancies in every book; I am the opposite. Who starts having babies after only being together a few weeks? Wasn’t it bad enough Eva has already given up her career?

And then, just when you feel like the book isn’t going to have its own plot, the author hits you with a sledgehammer. (See spoiler #1 at the bottom of the review.) It comes totally out of the blue, and by the time it DOES happen there’s no time left in this overly long book (apparently the longest book the author has ever written) to deal with it.

So, because the author has to drag us back to some sort of happy ending after that sledgehammer, she has characters bizarrely laughing and joking and screwing and discussing other things when they should be dealing with the tragedy instead.

Some of the times the characters think about sex is just weird. At the lowest point in the entire story, instead of just caring for Eva, Gideon seems to have sex on his mind:

“I knew a bath was a risk considering how rare it was for me not to join Eva when she took one.”

Eva, who cries so frequently throughout the series she is really starting to annoy me, had next to no reaction to the most dramatic thing that has happened in the entire series.

Day has shocked me before in a good way (see spoiler #2 below). It was one of the best twists I have ever read in a book, and happened in book two. I think she was going for something similar here.

This entire five-book series happens over the course of only three months. The author only introduced Gideon’s social circle recently – where were they in the earlier books? And it’s very odd that Eva’s wedding is all about her acquaintances she’s just met since moving to New York, instead of people from the other twenty-something years of her life turning up. I don’t know why the timeframe had to be so truncated.

Apparently One with You was rewritten a number of times (which would be why it was released more than half a year after the promised date, and seventeen months after the previous book), and the book does have a feel of a story the author could just not pull together no matter what she tried. There’re so many threads left open, there’s so much left unresolved. And an editor should have insisted Day chop out all that rehashing of psychobabble so that there was time to tie up all the loose ends. Even taking a pair of scissors to the overly flowery – and constant – declarations of love would have helped:

“There aren’t words to tell you what you mean to me.” He opened his hand again. “But I hope that when you see this ring on your hand, you’ll remember that you shine as brightly as diamonds in my life and you’re infinitely more precious.”

Look: I’m Australian, and we’re sarcastic. We’d laugh hysterically if a man spoke like that, using that much cheese!

Additionally, like some sort of BDSM master, Gideon fastens a bangle onto Eva using a screwdriver – so only he can remove it. It’s mentioned in one scene, and then never again. In fact, later on she mentions she isn’t wearing any jewellery, and I’m thinking: what about that thing that was fastened onto you and you cannot remove?? (One of the many examples of non-existent editing in this book.)

Then we reach the end, which seems (? I have no idea) to jump forwards in time so that everybody is more or less over the main drama.

WAS there an editor? I’m not joking when I ask. Did the author even proofread it? Because it looks like one of my manuscripts when I’ve been writing out of sequence and intend to go back and edit it – only this one was never edited!

I guess, in the end, the author wrote this in a hurry, and with no proper outline of the book’s structure. Stuff, happens, and then it’s forgotten forever. And then other stuff happens, and it’s forgotten forever.

I think the first and second books in this series are amazing. I don’t usually go for the Fifty Shades-type books, but the first two were special, superbly-written, and surprising at every turn. However, as the series continued to be extended and extended it lost its way. I feel sad that people will remember these books as average to poor instead of how they were at the start.

 

****SPOILERS****

#1 The big thing that happens in this book is that Eva’s mother turns out to have a secret identity – but before this is tackled, the woman is MURDERED! It comes completely out of the blue and makes no sense considering the rest of the series.

#2 In the second book, Gideon murders Eva’s long-term stalker and childhood rapist. She doesn’t know this until the very end of the book.

The Week: 28th March – 3rd April

Canberra Australia Sunset Sonya Heaney Autumn

One of our (unedited!) sunsets in Canberra this week.

I hope everyone around here remembered about daylight saving! I know it’s easier now with so many devices updating themselves, but it seems every year I hear of a funny mistake!

Apparently we’re not going to have autumn this year. It’s still in the high twenties (Celsius) and the leaves aren’t really changing colour.

I had a dismal reading week this week. So many historical romances I tried to read, but couldn’t cope with; some I could not finish. Maybe that means I’m due for some good books now!

Parliament House Canberra Australia 2nd April 2016 Sonya Heaney Back-Burning..

Smoke over Australian Parliament during fire reduction burns in the city over the weekend.

The entrepreneurs bringing the Great Moscow Circus here – again – have been obscenely spamming the streets with advertising, and paying many people to put huge signs up on their own houses. Whole streets in Canberra and neighbouring Queanbeyan are lined with the things – three signs per house. Sad that people have already forgotten Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (and Georgia, and the bombing of civilians in Syria, and the human rights abuses, and the extreme homophobia, and the… you get the picture) and will do anything for a few dollars. Even the house next to my late (Ukrainian) grandmother’s has them.

So some people who will remain unnamed have been adding some things to a few of the signs:

 protest for ukraine anti-putin great moscow circus advertisementsprotest for ukraine anti-putin great moscow circus advertisements.

The collapse of the Wisconsin State Capitol

In one of history’s more successful April Fool jokes, in 1933 it was reported in the Madison Capital-Times that the Wisconsin State Capitol had collapsed. 1st April 1933.

One week until One With You

One With You by Sylvia Day

No more copies of Fifty Shades of Grey!

But now it looks like everyone’s love affair with Fifty Shades of Grey is well and truly over.

My review of Edge of Surrender (At the Edge #1 Part 2) by Laura Griffin

Edge of Surrender (At the Edge #1 Part 2) by Laura Griffin

My review of The Hunter (Victorian Rebels #2) by Kerrigan Byrne

The Hunter (Victorian Rebels #2) by Kerrigan Byrne

My review of Portrait of a Forbidden Lady by Kathleen Bittner Roth

Portrait of a Forbidden Lady by Kathleen Bittner Roth

The Week: 11th – 17th January

Friday Summer Sunset Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 15th January 2016 Nature

Friday sunset in Canberra

My computer died! I have two new devices to set up and learn now (tablet and laptop). I lasted 1.5 days with Windows 8 and the stupid kiddies’ coloured box start menu. After a lot of swearing and a few tantrums I upgraded to Windows 10. Now I’m almost in the 21st century!

I have lost some important documents, but am still hoping to recover them.

This week was mostly enormously hot, and then it rained one day. There were emergency and flood warnings (for thee towns surrounding our city), but in the end we didn’t get much more than a sprinkle! The river in Queanbeyan, where I have always had family, regularly floods. It’s scary for us because our Ukrainian Catholic church (that my family both helped build and provided the chandelier above the altar for) is on the banks of the river.

It was Ukrainian New Year this week, but we celebrated a day late because of stuff.

Excited about in 2016

 Marrying Winterborne (2016) by Lisa Kleypas

My review of Amish Homecoming by Jo Ann Brown

Amish Homecoming by Jo Ann Brown

My review of The Clandestine Betrothal by Alice Chetwynd Ley

 The Clandestine Betrothal by Alice Chetwynd Ley

My review of An Unexpected Wish (A Lady’s Wish #1) by Eileen Richards

 An Unexpected Wish (A Lady's Wish #1) by Eileen Richards

A whole new level of awful…

The Devil in Winter Lisa Kleypas US Cover Stepback

For the Outlander fans…

 Too Much Frank in Outlander New Poster

Best of 2015

2015 was a mixed bag. I read some really great books, and got excited about quite a few things.

However there were also lengthy periods of time where I was either feeling a little blah about my books or I was downright fed up with reading in general, and with the repetition brought on by genre fads.

I saved myself from my reading slumps both by rereading, and also by buying books instead of accepting as many review books as I might have other years.

Every year I post my best reads of the year. Many are 2015 releases, but some are not. Not all of them are the Greatest Read Ever, but every one of these stuck with me in some way, and that’s what counts the most when it comes to a book.

The Secret Years by Barbara Hannay

The Secret Years by Barbara Hannay

Ross Poldark (Poldark #1) by Winston Graham

Poldark_-_Ross_Poldark

His Wicked Reputation (Wicked Trilogy #1) by Madeline Hunter

His Wicked Reputation (Wicked Trilogy #1) by Madeline Hunter

Brown-Eyed Girl (Travis Family #4) by Lisa Kleypas

Brown-Eyed Girl (2015) (The fourth book in the Travis series) by Lisa Kleypas

Collateral Damage (Bagram Special Ops #5) by Kaylea Cross

Collateral Damage by Kaylea Cross

His Christmas Countess by Louise Allen

His Christmas Countess (Lords of Disgrace #2) by Louise Allen

Josette (When Hearts Dare #3) by Kathleen Bittner Roth

Josette (When Hearts Dare #3) by Kathleen Bittner Roth

Tall, Dark and Wicked (Wicked Trilogy #2) by Madeline Hunter

Tall, Dark, & Wicked by Madeline Hunter

This Book Will Change Your Life by Amanda Weaver

This Book Will Change Your Life by Amanda Weaver

Demelza (Poldark #2) by Winston Graham

Demelza (The Poldark Saga #2) by Winston Graham

Bitten (Women of the Otherworld #1) by Kelley Armstrong

Bitten (Women of the Otherworld #1) by Kelley Armstrong

Bared to You (Crossfire #1) by Sylvia Day

Bared to You by Sylvia Day

Danger Wears White (The Emperors of London #3) by Lynne Connolly

Danger Wears White (The Emperors of London #3) by Lynne Connolly

Reflected in You (Crossfire #2) by Sylvia Day

Reflected in You by Sylvia Day

To Love a Cop by Janice Kay Johnson

To Love a Cop by Janice Kay Johnson

Dead by Midnight (I-Team 7.5 An I-Team Christmas) by Pamela Clare

Dead by Midnight (I-Team 7.5 An I-Team Christmas) by Pamela Clare

The Spring Bride (Chance Sisters #3) by Anne Gracie

The Spring Bride (Chance Sisters #3) by Anne Gracie

Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas

Cold-Hearted Rake (2015) by Lisa Kleypas

His Housekeeper’s Christmas wish by Louise Allen

His Housekeeper's Christmas Wish by Louise Allen

In Debt to the Earl by Elizabeth Rolls

In Debt to the Earl by Elizabeth Rolls

The Lady Meets Her Match (Midnight Meetings #2) by Gina Conkle

The Lady Meets Her Match (Midnight Meetings #2) by Gina Conkle

The Week: 29th June – 5th July

Winter Nature Kangaroos Farm Bush Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 4th July 2015

Kangaroos where the cows are supposed to be in Canberra on Saturday afternoon… And autumn leaves out in the middle of winter!

Weird week. Freezing nights and bright, warm sunny days. Such extremes in temperatures when you live in the mountains!

Also this week, EL James’ version of Midnight Sun has been universally ridiculed for its stalkerish narration (likened by many a reviewer to a serial killer’s perspective), and also – sadly, predictably – hit bestseller lists. I know I’m shocked. 🙂

Anybody remember Siemens? They’re the German company infamous for using concentration camp slave labour in World War Two.

This week they ignored international sanctions against Russia and did major business with Putin.

Once a Nazi, always a Nazi.

Military Heroines

Our Girl Series 1

Cover Love

A Highlander of Her Own by Melissa Mayhue

My review of Lock and Load (SEAL EXtreme Team #2) by Kimberley Troutte

Lock and Load (SEAL EXtreme Team #2) by Kimberley Troutte

My review of Demelza (The Poldark Saga #2) by Winston Graham

Demelza (The Poldark Saga #2) by Winston Graham

My review of The Trouble with Patience (Virtues and Vices of the Old West #1) by Maggie Brendan

The Trouble with Patience (Virtues and Vices of the Old West #1) by Maggie Brendan

My review of Aftershock (After #2) by Sylvia Day

Aftershock (After #2) by Sylvia Day

The Week: 13th – 19th April

autumn-colours-garden-oksana-heaney-tuggeranong-canberra-australia-13th-april-2015

Autumn in Canberra this week

Weird week! I could say a lot more, but I wouldn’t even know where to begin!

Canadian troops to Ukraine 2015

US troops to Ukraine 2015

Seems the world is finally waking up…

Ako Kondo The Australian Ballet

Congratulations to The Australian Ballet’s Ako Kondo – one of my favourites in the company – for her promotion to principal dancer. I’ve been hoping she’d get the position for a year now, but expected an older dancer to win it first!

The Shadows, drama and the BDB.

The Shadows (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #13) by J.R. Ward

Dreams in Books

Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Sunset 24th October 2014 Sonya Heaney

Outlander 1×10

Outlander 1x10 Duke Simon Callow Sonya Heaney.

Back to the wife-beating in Outlander

Outlander 1x09 The Reckoning Claire and Jamie Domestic Abuse Wife Beating 2 Sonya Heaney - Copy

Cover Love

Whisper Falls by Toni Blake

My review of Raising the Stakes by Karen Rock

Raising the Stakes by Karen Rock

My review of Bared to You by Sylvia Day

Bared to You by Sylvia Day

My review of Lori (The Circle of Friends #1) by L. Diane Wolfe

Lori (The Circle of Friends #1) by L. Diane Wolfe