From the Shadows

The Australian War Memorial here in Canberra, (which is actually a big military museum, not just a “memorial”), currently has an exhibition about the Special Forces: From the Shadows. As Monday was a public holiday we thought we’d better go and see it before we forget and it closes!

When we arrived, the brand new Army recruits were on a visit from Kapooka, and lined up outside for a group photograph.

The first two images are from the Special Forces part. The third is from the Vietnam War section of the building (my father is a veteran, and there are exhibits dedicated specifically to where he lived in Vietnam, and to a major battle he fought).

The fourth photograph is the view down ANZAC Parade from the War Memorial entrance. You can’t see it, but at the end of the road is Lake Burley Griffin, and then Australian Parliament is in the background.

ANZAC Parade is the street where people honour Australia’s military, and where parades happen. Both sides of the street are lined with monuments to military events (e.g. the First and Second World Wars, Vietnam, and beyond).

Look at the spectacular blue sky! According to the national news, it was cloudy and raining in Canberra. Uh…

IMG_20180312_175846_799 From the Shadows Special Forces Exhibition Sonya Heaney Oksana 12th March 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra Australian Army Australian Armed Forces

IMG_20180312_180202_131 Vietnam War Sonya Heaney Oksana 12th March 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra Australian Army Australian Armed Forces

IMG_20180312_180445_236 Sonya Heaney Oksana 12th March 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra Australian Army Australian Armed Forces ANZAC Parade Parliament House


Four Years

Kyiv Ukraine Euromaidan Memorials Sonya Heaney May 2016

A memorial to the dead I photographed in 2016.

Today is the fourth anniversary of the end of Ukraine’s Euromaidan revolution. On the 20th of February, 2014 pro-Russian snipers took to the streets and shot and killed as many civilians as they could manage.


Snipers in the same spot the memorials are now.

The revolution resulted in overthrowing the corrupt, dictatorial oligarch in charge of the country, but he fled to Russia and paved the way for Putin’s invasion shortly afterwards.

The Week: 8th – 14th January

Wednesday summer sunset in Canberra

Another week, another mess in the world… Today is “New Year” by the old calendar, if you need a reason to celebrate something this weekend.

Two stories out of Russia this week that I think are newsworthy!:

Russian man steals armoured tank, rams shop, steals one bottle of wine.

Russian man steals tank, rams shop, steals one bottle of wine.

Russian man steals tank, rams shop, steals bottle of wine..

And, more importantly:

Fewer than one in five Russians are okay with gay sex.

In fact, only 8% of Russians support homosexuality in any form:

Previous surveys showed that the number of Russians against gay sex has progressively increased, from 68 percent in 1998 to 76 percent in 2008.

This year, only 8 percent of respondents said there was nothing objectionable about sexual relations between adults of the same gender.

This is what happens when you let the church run your society and heavily influence your government. This sort of thing is happening in a number of former communist countries at the moment.

Coming Up for Brynn Kelly

Isle of Shadows A Risk Worth Taking the third book in Brynn Kelly‘s Legionnaires series

My review of Edge of Truth by Brynn Kelly

Edge of Truth by Brynn Kelly

Thomas Hardy’s Early Career

Thomas Hardy, OM (2 June 1840 – 11 January 1928) was an English novelist and poet. A Victorian realist in the tradition of George Eliot, influenced both in his novels and in his poetry

Meet the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan

Meet the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan

Goodbye, 2017!

Canberra Australia Sky Sunset Autumn Nature Sonya Heaney 22nd April 2017

Just as with 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 – 2017 was full of chaos around the world, much of it personally manufactured by the Maniac in Chief in the White House. This is the fourth New Year’s Eve I have to say that Russia is still invading Ukraine and nobody cares. Terrorist attacks everywhere.

However, there was plenty of other stuff happening this year that was good.



The view of the Grand Canal from our apartment. During Carnevale it’s totally normal to see people in full costume around every corner.

My year began with Ukrainian Christmas, followed by a winter trip to Europe. A month in Venice for Carnevale, with a few days in Verona (accidentally) over Valentine’s Day. It was alternately freezing and foggy, and sunny and warm enough to sit outside in piazzas with a glass of wine. It was also alternately total chaos, and calm when you stepped away from the carnival crowds. We met up with Italian friends first met when my family was based in India nearly fifteen years ago, who drove over from Asti (near Turin) to spend time with us in Venice.

The Enterprise and The Dolphin Red Lion Street London February 2017 Sonya Oksana Heaney Holborn Pubs

One of the streets I used to live and work on.

Then it was off to London for a week. I hadn’t been for a while, despite living there for a few years in the past. I actually loved London more this time than on other visits. I’m not sure why, and it was a bit of a chaotic race around, but I forgot how much I could enjoy it.

Sonya Heaney margareta Osborn Sulari Gentill Di Morrissey Jugiong Writers Festival 18th March 2017

Almost immediately after I got back home I was off to the country town of Jugiong to moderate a panel at a popular book festival with Di Morrissey (intimidating because she’s one of Australia’s most famous authors, as well as a television personality), rural fiction/romance author Margareta Osborn, and historical fiction writer Sulari Gentill. I hadn’t expected such a huge turnout in such a small community, but people came from all over for it. (Thank you to Freda Marnie for inviting me.)


Plaza de España in Seville – it served as Padmé’s palace in Star Wars

Along with my father, one of my aunts turned seventy this year, and plans for some of us to go away to the beach for a week morphed into a month in HOT Andalucía, Spain. My aunt, my mother and I started in Málaga, accidentally there in the middle of the insanity of the Feria, which was fun.

I was on a train from Ronda and heading back to Málaga (it was my aunt’s actual birthday on the 17th) when the terrorist drove a van down Las Ramblas in Barcelona. When we got off the train there were men with assault rifles protecting all the streets – we didn’t have any idea what had happened at first, but Spain rushed to make huge changes immediately (unlike in Barcelona, where the security afterwards was shockingly lax). New bollards were put in the cities, disguised as decorative trees. Traffic in tourist areas was diverted. Police cars blocked off footpaths to stop vehicles getting through.

From Málaga to Córdoba, a place I’ve visited a few times before and love so much. It was HOT! After the better part of a week there, it was on to Seville, just about my favourite place in the world (and Lonely Planet’s top pick for 2018).


Memorial for the terror attack victims at the top of on La Rambla – the spot the attack began.

I went back to Barcelona at the end of the trip, not long after the attack, and stayed in an apartment disturbingly close to where the van stopped after driving through the crowds.

Barcelona is a fascinating place, with some great little places to go if you know your way around (Barri Gòtic – the old town – all the way!), but there’s so much chaos in Cataluña at the moment (actually, there was the last time I was there, too).

Enlighten Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 11th March 2017 National Library of Australia Canberra Women's History Reflection Night

Canberra, my gorgeous hometown, was named by Lonely Planet as the third best city in the world to visit, and every year we seem to have more events, more restaurants and bars, more everything.

Rainbow Number Plates Canberra Australia Gay Pride Gay Marriage Same Sex Marriage 2017

Canberra Braddon Rainbow Roundabout Gayest City in Australia Most Gay-Friendly Andrew Barr Marriage Equality November 2017

Gay pride number plates and roundabouts in Canberra.

Plus, 74% of us voted YES for marriage equality, cementing our spot as by far the most gay-friendly place in the Australia, so that’s something to be proud of.

Ricky the Cat Sonay Heaney Oksana Heaney 9th June 2017 Fluffball Tabby Calico Cute

Winter Sunshine Cat Garden Canberra Australia Sonya Oksana Heaney 6th June 2017 2

Just like last year, and the year before, and the year before that, it was a year of cats. No strays this year, but Misty, a neighbour’s lonely nineteen-year-old, blind, deaf cat adopted me, so I had a lot of company this year. She had a stroke while her owner was away, so she lived with me full-time while she recovered.

Hannibal Chocolate Burmese Cat Climbing a Tree Sonya Heaney Canberra Australia 24th November 2017 1

Then there’s Hannibal, the maniac from next door who doesn’t have enough hours in the day for all the adventures he has to go on, and – for a maniac – who has the most ridiculous, pathetic little meow I’ve ever heard. I really love Burmese cats.

Kosciuszko National Park Sunset New South Wales Australia Sonya Heaney Trees Eucalyptus Trees Gum Trees Summer Nature Forest Mountains 30gth December 2017Thredbo

When this post is published will be on a trip to Thredbo in Australia’s Snowy Mountains – it’s summer, but not so hot there. Then it’s back home to prepare for another Ukrainian Christmas.

In 2018 I will be going on a trip I’ve been dreaming about and planning for years. After revisiting Ireland (Dublin, and then into Northern Ireland to the area my father’s family is from), I will be travelling around Derbyshire and Yorkshire in England, visiting little villages and the stately homes I’ve always wanted to see but never got to in my time living over there.

Because this is a book blog most of the time, I also have to mention:

There are SO MANY books to look forward to in 2018. I have so many favourite authors’ upcoming releases on my to-read list, In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had so many books I’m excited about.

A Devil of a Duke (2018) (The second book in the Decadent Dukes Society series) A novel by Madeline Hunter

Hello Stranger (Ravenels #4) by Lisa Kleypas

Isle of Shadows A Risk Worth Taking the third book in Brynn Kelly‘s Legionnaires series

Marry in Scandal (Convenient Marriage series #2) by Anne Gracie

Here are a few. Some don’t have covers yet!

It would be nice if in 2018 someone put Putin and Trump on a rocket and sent them on a one-way trip to the moon, but as that’s unlikely the world is just going to have to muddle through.

I hope next year is a better one for the world, but there’s also heaps to look forward to.

The Week: 13th – 19th November

Spring Sunset Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 12th November 2017 Sky Clouds Nature

Spring sunset in Canberra.

Spring Bottlebrush Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Garden Blue Sky Sunny Afternoon 14th November 2017 Flowers Nature

The bottlebrush is out!

The day after the gay marriage vote Canberra 74% Sonya Heaney Parliament House Australia 16th November 2017

The road to Australian Parliament the day after the gay marriage results were announced.

Hailstorm Canberra Australia 17th November 2017 Sonya Heaney Spring Weather Nature

Our brief, freak storm on Friday afternoon.

Australian Same Sex Marriage Australian Capital Territory Canberra Highest YES Vote

After millions upon millions of dollars wasted on a useless survey by our stalling conservative government, the results of the “gay marriage survey” were released on Wednesday.

As expected, my home – the ACT – voted YES with BY FAR the highest percentage (but they stick us on the bottom of the chart). We have actually legalised gay marriage in Canberra before, but had it taken away from us by the High Court.

Movie Adaptation for Jill Shalvis

The Trouble With Mistletoe (Heartbreaker Bay #2) by Jill Shalvis

My review of Someone to Wed (Westcott #3) by Mary Balogh

Someone to Wed (Westcott #3) by Mary Balogh

My review of A Daring Arrangement (The Four Hundred Book #1) by Joanna Shupe

A Daring Arrangement (The Four Hundred Book #1) by Joanna Shupe

A bit of history…

1903 horse party Gilded Age New York -billingspartythey found the grand Rocco ballroom decorated as a woodland garden, with trees and shrubbery.The guests mounted well-trained rented hor

The End of Heroes and Heartbreakers

mast_logo Heroes and Heartbreakers

Important News

Hello Stranger Lisa Kleypas