The Week: 31st December 2018 – 6th January 2019

Sunset on Friday – the hottest day this week.

Happy New Year. But – just as important – Merry Christmas again!

Making varenyky yesterday afternoon. We made ninety-five in the end (not all in this picture).

Today is Ukrainian Christmas Eve, which is The Big Day for Christmas in Eastern Slavic cultures. This evening is the time for kutyaborschtveranyky, and more presents.

Our resident baby magpie is having trouble with the heat

This time of year is always so hectic for me. Apart from anything else, it has been Really Hot in Canberra for weeks, with a “cold” day being about 35 Celsius. We’re constantly sweaty – and getting some absolutely massive spiders in the house!

Wish List for 2019

Book Feature: Another Woman’s Husband by Gill Paul

End-of-Year Escape

Christmas Reads: Christmas at Hope Cottage by Lily Graham

Christmas at Hope Cottage by Lily Graham

Christmas at Hope Cottage by Lily Graham

In the little village of Whistling, with its butterscotch cottages and rolling green hills, snow is beginning to fall. Christmas is coming, and Emma Halloway is on her way home.

When thirty-year-old food writer Emma Halloway gets dumped then knocked off her bike, she’s broken in more ways than one, and returns to her family’s cosy cottage in the Yorkshire Dales. Emma hasn’t been back in some time, running from her crazy relatives and her childhood sweetheart, Jack Allen.

Emma’s grandmother is determined to bake her back to health and happiness, as the Halloways have done for generations. Surrounded by old friends and warm cinnamon buns, Emma starts to believe in her family’s special talents for healing again. But then in walks Jack with his sparkling hazel eyes, stirring up the family feud between them.

As the twinkly lights are strung between the streetlamps, Emma remembers just why she fell for Jack in the first place… and why a Halloway should never date an Allen.

The infuriating new lodger, Sandro, doesn’t believe anyone should have to choose between love and family. With a little bit of Christmas magic, can Emma and Jack find a way to be together, or will Emma find herself heartbroken once more?

An utterly gorgeous Christmas romance about the importance of family, freshly baked biscuits, and learning to trust your heart. Perfect for fans of Phillipa Ashley, Debbie Johnson and Debbie Macomber.

Christmas Reads Feature: A Vicarage Christmas by Kate Hewitt

A Vicarage Christmas by Kate Hewitt

A Vicarage Christmas by Kate Hewitt

Welcome to Thornwaite, a quaint village tucked up in England’s beautiful but rainy Lake District… where homecomings happen and surprises are in store for the four Holley sisters…

Anna Holley, the third of four sisters, has always felt a little bit forgotten. A family tragedy when she was a child had her retreating deep into shyness, and social anxiety kept her on the fringes of the cozy chaos of the busy vicarage.

After several years away from home, Anna returns for Christmas… and an important announcement from her father. As much as she once loved the village, coming back is hard and puts Anna’s social capabilities to the test.

Avoiding her sisters’ bossy questions, she heads out to the local pub one night, and meets a handsome stranger nursing a pint. Somehow, unburdened by expectations, Simon seems like the perfect person to spill all her secrets to—including a hopeless, long-held crush on her sister’s boyfriend. Confident she’ll never see him again, Anna returns home… only to discover the next day that Simon is actually her father’s new curate!

Anna is beyond mortified, but Simon won’t let her retreat into her usual shyness—and for once Anna is forced to confront the past, and all the fears and feelings she’d tried so long to hide. But with his own heartache that needs to heal, can Simon help Anna to make this the most magical Christmas either of them have known?

Books to Counter Kavanaugh – Whispering Rock by Robyn Carr

No, I’m not American, but the sexual harassment scandal surrounding Brett Kavanaugh – and the subsequent misogynistic victim-blaming movement emerging out of it – is reverberating around the world.

So, I’ve moved all my scheduled posts for the week, and instead will be recommending some books that deal with the reality of what women are up against when it comes to sexual harassment and assault.

Whispering Rock by Robyn Carr

Whispering Rock (Virgin River #3) by Robyn Carr

A decorated U.S. Marine reservist, LAPD officer Mike Valenzuela was badly wounded in the line of duty, but has found hope and healing in Virgin River. When he agrees to become the town’s first cop, he does so knowing it’s time he settled down. Twice divorced and the lover of too many women, he secretly longs for the kind of commitment and happiness his marine buddies have found—a woman who can tie up his heart forever.

He finds that woman in Brie Sheridan, a Sacramento prosecutor who understands his drive to protect and serve. Virgin River becomes a safe haven for Brie after nearly losing her life at the hands of a crazed criminal. Though tough and courageous, she’s got some fears she can’t escape—but now she has someone who will show her just what it means to trust again. Mike will do anything to help Brie free herself from painful memories. Passionate, strong and gentle, he vows to give back to her what she’s so selflessly given him—her heart, and with it, a new beginning.

Books to Counter Kavanaugh – Breakable by Tammara Webber

No, I’m not American, but the sexual harassment scandal surrounding Brett Kavanaugh – and the subsequent misogynistic victim-blaming movement emerging out of it – is reverberating around the world.

So, I’ve moved all my scheduled posts for the week, and instead will be recommending some books that deal with the reality of what women are up against when it comes to sexual harassment and assault.

Breakable by Tammara Webber

Breakable (Contours of the Heart, #2) by Tammara Webber

Breakable is a retelling of Easy. Here is the blurb for Easy:

When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup two months into sophomore year. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she’s single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former circle of friends, and failing a class for the first time in her life. Leaving a party alone, Jacqueline is assaulted by her ex’s frat brother. Rescued by a stranger who seems to be in the right place at the right time, she wants nothing more than to forget the attack and that night – but her savior, Lucas, sits on the back row of her econ class, sketching in a notebook and staring at her. Her friends nominate him to be the perfect rebound. When her attacker turns stalker, Jacqueline has a choice: crumple in defeat or learn to fight back. Lucas remains protective, but he’s hiding secrets of his own. Suddenly appearances are everything, and knowing who to trust is anything but easy.

Books to Counter Kavanaugh – Easy by Tammara Webber

No, I’m not American, but the sexual harassment scandal surrounding Brett Kavanaugh – and the subsequent misogynistic victim-blaming movement emerging out of it – is reverberating around the world.

So, I’ve moved all my scheduled posts for the week, and instead will be recommending some books that deal with the reality of what women are up against when it comes to sexual harassment and assault.

Firstly: Easy by Tammara Webber

Easy by Tammara Webber

When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup two months into sophomore year. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she’s single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former circle of friends, and failing a class for the first time in her life. Leaving a party alone, Jacqueline is assaulted by her ex’s frat brother. Rescued by a stranger who seems to be in the right place at the right time, she wants nothing more than to forget the attack and that night – but her savior, Lucas, sits on the back row of her econ class, sketching in a notebook and staring at her. Her friends nominate him to be the perfect rebound. When her attacker turns stalker, Jacqueline has a choice: crumple in defeat or learn to fight back. Lucas remains protective, but he’s hiding secrets of his own. Suddenly appearances are everything, and knowing who to trust is anything but easy.

 

Romance authors, misogyny, and conservative conversations about men.

In light of recent developments in the US (which are being reported in real time across the world), I have a request.

Everyone read the Twitter thread below. Everyone, but especially men and conservative women. Read it, memorise it:

Jeremy C. Young

(Alternate link.)

And then, if you’re still having doubts, read this article, too:

The Anatomy of a Lie: Reflections on the Enduring Myth of Women Who Cry Rape

Yes, of course men are also sexually assaulted, but right now? Conservative politicians have turned this into a men versus women thing, and so that’s what I’m running with.

I’ve written – and deleted – seventy million versions of this post, and now I’ve decided to keep it shortish. I have to say something here, especially when a former favourite author of mine is currently plastering Facebook with far-right memes in support of sex abusers.

I know multiple women who have been raped, and I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t been groped and/or harassed in their lifetime.

The only attacker I know of who suffered any consequences for his actions was the man who also murdered his victim – a woman I grew up with, a woman I’d known since I was eight.

Men claiming they’re the real victims these days (and the women who support that lie) disgust me.

Some points:

  • The rise of Donald Trump (and his equivalents in other countries) has, generally, inspired the romance writing (and reading) community to become stronger, more resistant to misogyny, and to create better books. E.g. Sarah MacLean.
  • However, extremist politics are polarising, and certain authors – including one of my all-time favourites – have gone the other way.
  • It has only got worse in the past few weeks, with the narrative from the far-right turning its focus to women who have been sexually assaulted. The new narrative: all women lie about assault to destroy men’s lives. It’s working. I’m sickened by how many men are jumping on that bandwagon and using it as yet another excuse to hate women.
  • This particular author I’m thinking of – a woman who in the past wrote about rape survivors in a positive way – has taken to posting Facebook memes about how girls are looking to destroy boys’ lives with false accusations.
  • It makes me sad. Yes, her politics have leaked into her books for years and years, but never before has she been so publicly open with it. I’ve lost an author I know I’ll never be able to read again.

One final point: if you support an avowed misogynist and self-confessed sex abuser, and if you’ve chosen to hate your own gender because your President told you to, then you have no business being in the romance industry, an industry that not only touts itself as feminist, but as being “by women, for women”.

The Week: 1st – 7th October

^^ The Royal Australian Air Force Roulettes flying over Old and New Parliament Houses in Canberra on Saturday afternoon (I took the picture from the car, so it’s not perfect!). New Parliament House turned thirty this year, and the celebrations were held this weekend.

What a week. For me it began in Qatar on the Arabian Peninsula, trying to stay awake through a 9.5 hour layover in Doha (note to self: flights from Manchester to Canberra have no good connection times!).

I arrived home on Tuesday morning, after two days of travelling, to the most gorgeous day. However, it was a real shock to see just HOW dry it is in Canberra. There was dead, yellow grass before; now it’s basically just dirt. It’s a huge contrast to green, green Ireland, and northern England, where there was a drought this summer, but nothing like this.

I didn’t get a chance for jetlag because it’s spring here, our local birds have had babies, and the desperate, overworked mother magpie has figured out which one is my bedroom window, and knocks on it with her beak at dawn until I get out of bed and give her some food for her kids!

Our recently deposed Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, had his penthouse by the lake up for sale this weekend. We actually parked outside the entrance to the building when we went out for lunch, and it was SO tempting to go in and have a look at it!

Yay for daylight saving beginning, and boo to all the countries losing their minds and getting rid of it. How could you possibly hate having an extra hour of daylight in the evening in summer??

My week finished with my passport sitting at the Chinese embassy, waiting for a visa – it’s not long before I’m off again.

Home

Spring in the Garden Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 2nd October 2018

Virgin River on Netflix

Virgin River by Robyn Carr

Yet Another Netflix Adaptation

Stealing Home (The Sweet Magnolia's Series #1) by Sherrly Woods

More Trademark Issues

Harlequin Manga

Yet Another Netflix Adaptation

Stealing Home (The Sweet Magnolia's Series #1) by Sherrly Woods

Following on from yesterday’s post about Netflix adapting Robyn Carr’s Virgin River for television, I should also mention that Sherryl Woods’ Sweet Magnolias series is also being adapted for the screen.

Here’s what the first book is about:

Maddie Townsend might live in a town called Serenity, but there’s been nothing calm or peaceful about her life since her marriage broke up. This stay-at-home mom has no job skills, an out-of-control sixteen-year-old son, a talkative fourteen-year-old who’s suddenly gone silent, a six-year-old daughter whose heart is broken, an ex-husband whose younger girlfriend is expecting their baby and two best friends who think she’s somehow qualified to help them open a fitness spa for women. But if Maddie is a tad on edge with all that on her plate, it’s nothing compared to the chaos that ensues when she discovers that her son’s baseball coach has feelings for her and the whole town disapproves. Maddie’s faced a lot of challenges lately with strength and resolve, but Cal Maddox may turn out to be more than she can handle. Then again, he could just be the one man in all of South Carolina who can help her find serenity.

Virgin River on Netflix

Robyn Carr Virgin River Series

Continuing Netflix’s obsession with raiding the romance genre for ideas for productions, now Robyn Carr’s super-popular Virgin River series is being adapted for the screen.

Set in small town America, in Humboldt County, California, the book series follows a large cast of couples and side characters – but then I guess most people reading this post have heard of it! It looks like the initial run might just be for the first book.

Will I watch this show? Maybe… I don’t usually enjoy seeing characters I’m this familiar with (nor locations I’ve had in my mind for years) being presented in a way I don’t recognise.