Out Now: The Austen Girls by Lucy Worsley

British historian Lucy Worsley does some great TV shows, but she is also the author of historical fiction aimed at young adult readers. I’ve mentioned one of her books before, but this one, about Jane Austen, is out today and looks really interesting. (It is already available in the UK.)

The Austen Girls by Lucy Worsley

The Austen Girls by Lucy Worsley

Would she ever find a real-life husband?

Would she even find a partner to dance with at tonight’s ball? She just didn’t know. Anna Austen has always been told she must marry rich. Her future depends upon it. While her dear cousin Fanny has a little more choice, she too is under pressure to find a suitor. But how can either girl know what she wants? Is finding love even an option? The only person who seems to have answers is their Aunt Jane.

She has never married. In fact, she’s perfectly happy, so surely being single can’t be such a bad thing? The time will come for each of the Austen girls to become the heroines of their own stories. Will they follow in Jane’s footsteps? In this witty, sparkling novel of choices, popular historian LUCY WORSLEY brings alive the delightful life of Jane Austen as you’ve never seen it before.

 

 

January Roundup

Namadgi National Park Southern Canberra Tuggeranong Bushfire Brindabella Range Mountains Sonya Oksana Heaney Evening of 28th January 2020

Bushfire view from my back deck. Flames crossing the ridge.

I’ve avoided writing weekly summaries for a while now because so much has been happening, and Canberra has been hit by natural disaster after natural disaster (which have been routinely knocking out the internet). We’ve had two freak hailstorms that destroyed large parts of the city, and fire after fire after fire. My brother was trapped in Canberra Airport a few days ago, when a fire burnt into the city from the east.

It’s been frightening to spend the last few nights watching flames coming into our valley – and it brings back memories of the horrific firestorm that hit us in 2003.

IMG_20200125_083820_329

My apartment view in Brisbane.

I was also in Brisbane for a while – how strange to be in a part of Australia where there’s no evidence of fire when your own region is burning!

In Canberra we’ve had record-breaking, relentless heat, smoke, and waterbombers flying over the house all day and all night. Seeing the giant American DC-10 water tanker flying low over your house is surreal and scary.

EDIT. The DC-10 from Alabama flying over my house just before 3pm today:

Water Bombing Aeroplane Surveillance Namadgi Bushfire Smoke Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Sonya Oksana Heaney 29th January 2020

A plane dumping fire retardant flies over my house, back from the fires. It looks like the evening, but that’s the middle of the afternoon.

My local library is now an evacuation centre as a massive fire sweeps in towards Canberra. Today is expected to be catastrophic, and the army is door-knocking in my area to prepare people for what’s to come.

None of us know what’s going to happen over this weekend …

Currawong Bushfire Smoke Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Sonya Oksana Heaney 29th January 2020

The Landowner’s Secret for $1.99!

The Landowner's Secret Sonya Heaney Summer of Love Promotion

Summer of Love Promotion

SUMMER OF LOVE_1080X1080 - The Landowner's Secret Sonya Heaney Summer of Love Promotion

Writing Inspiration: Victorian Queanbeyan

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney. John Bull's Store, Queanbeyan Australia, c. 1883. From Queanbeyan–Palerang Libraries Historical Photos.

Happy 207th Birthday, Pride and Prejudice!

Jane Austen’s most famous novel, Pride and Prejudice, was published on the 28th of January 1813. Here is the front page from a first edition copy of the book.

My review of Have a Little Faith in Me by Sonia Hartl

Have a Little Faith in Me by Sonia Hartl

Book Feature: The Perfect Wife by Katherine Scholes

the perfect wife by katherine scholes

Regency Ostriches

Lord Avery's Legacy by Allison Land

“Women Built This Castle”

It’s a few years old now, but there’s a very worthwhile look at sexism in publishing over at YA Interrobang:

Women Built This Castle: an in-depth look at sexism in YA

The article discusses the way women build up different genres, and how those genres are laughed at and treated as “lesser” than areas men write in. It discusses how the moment a man turns up and has some success in an area of publishing (i.e. John Green in young adult fiction), people consider the books legitimate.

We’re conditioned to believe that women’s interests are fringe interests, and that the things we write aren’t as good as anything produced by men.

The same can be said about Nicholas Sparks in romance/women’s fiction.

There’s also a discussion about it at the Absolute Write Water Cooler that is worth a read.

Have a Little Faith in Me by Sonia Hartl

Have a Little Faith in Me by Sonia Hartl

“Saved!” meets To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before in this laugh-out-loud romantic comedy that takes a meaningful look at consent and what it means to give it.

When CeCe’s born-again ex-boyfriend dumps her after they have sex, she follows him to Jesus camp in order to win him back. Problem: She knows nothing about Jesus. But her best friend Paul does. He accompanies CeCe to camp, and the plan—God’s or CeCe’s—goes immediately awry when her ex shows up with a new girlfriend, a True Believer at that.

Scrambling to save face, CeCe ropes Paul into faking a relationship. But as deceptions stack up, she questions whether her ex is really the nice guy he seemed. And what about her strange new feelings for Paul—is this love, lust, or an illusion born of heartbreak? To figure it out, she’ll have to confront the reasons she chased her ex to camp in the first place, including the truth about the night she lost her virginity.

Have a Little Faith in Me by Sonia Hartl

Over the Christmas break I took a bunch of books with me on holiday, but—instead of the Regency romance I was planning on finishing—I ended up reading this young adult book about a couple of non-Christian teens who go to church camp with ulterior motives.

I actually bought the much-hyped Have a Little Faith in Me because of the author’s first name (I’m shallow like that), but while it’s not a perfect book, I’m very glad I read it.

YA fiction has turned on its head since the Twilight days, when misogyny and slut shaming was so often the norm, and the female and sex-positive themes in a book set in the unlikeliest of places was a wonderful surprise. I was a little worried about how it would play out, but the way the heroine and her Christian cabinmates bonded and stuck up for each other was fantastic.

The story plays out as most readers will expect from the outset, but it’s the journey the heroine and her best friend go on together to reach that happy ending that makes it worth the effort. There were some hilarious bits—“If you don’t have any condoms with you, I have, like, a billion in my cabin.” (This at a Christian camp!)—and there were some nice emotional moments.

I had a couple of issues:

While it’s true many teens these days have serious discussions about consent etc., there were times the characters acted more like adults would want them to act than like real teens. Everyone (except the “baddies”) was a little bit too responsible all of the time.

I also don’t believe that all the kids at the state’s most conservative Christian camp would have such progressive, sex positive views. Thanks to the politics of the last few years, the whole world has been exposed to the misogyny and bigotry behind the evangelical Christian movement, and these kids all acted like extremely progressive left-leaning activists. It would have been nice to have some more conflicts of values to make it a bit more realistic.

Despite those issues I raced through this book and enjoyed it a lot. I’m sure I’ll read it again.

Book Feature: Lady Mary by Lucy Worsley

Note: I am featuring some of the review books I’ve had for a while, but run out of time to review. That’s not to say I’m not going to read them; it’s just that I’ve fallen behind, and think the authors deserve an appearance here!

Lady Mary by Lucy Worsley

Lady Mary by Lucy Worsley

By turns thrilling, dramatic and touching, this is the story of Henry the Eighth and Catherine of Aragon’s divorce as you’ve never heard it before – from the eyes of their daughter, Princess Mary.

More than anything Mary just wants her family to stay together; for her mother and her father – and for her – to all be in the same place at once. But when her father announces that his marriage to her mother was void and by turns that Mary doesn’t really count as his child, she realises things will never be as she hoped.

Things only get worse when her father marries again. Separated from her mother and forced to work as a servant for her new sister, Mary must dig deep to find the strength to stand up against those who wish to bring her down. Despite what anyone says, she will always be a princess. She has the blood of a princess and she is ready to fight for what is rightfully hers.

The Week: 14th – 20th October

Spring Flowers Canberra Australia Pink Purple Garden Sonya Oksana Heaney 16th October 2019

Spring in Canberra

Big week as far as my writing went. Things are really starting to move ahead with my next book.

I started a new history/book Tumblr blog a few days ago. If you’re interested, it’s here:

Sonya Heaney Author

Also this week:

Book News!

Escape Cover Brief Header Sonya Heaney Second Book March 2020

Recently Reread: Virgin River and Shelter Mountain by Robyn Carr

Robyn Carr Virgin River Series

Book Feature: The Light in the Labyrinth by Wendy J. Dunn

Book Feature: The Light in the Labyrinth by Wendy J. Dunn

Note: I am featuring some of the review books I’ve had for a while, but run out of time to do a review for. That’s not to say I’m not going to read them; it’s just that I’ve fallen behind, and think the authors deserve an appearance here!

the light in the labyrinth by wendy j. dunn

I’m always excited to see young adult books with historical settings. So many very young people were at the heart of major events in history, and I think it’s an underrepresented genre.

The Light in the Labyrinth by Wendy J. Dunn

A Queen fights for her life.
A King denies his heart and soul.
A girl faces her true identity.
All things must come to an end—all things but love.

IN THE WINTER OF 1535, fourteen-year-old Kate Carey wants to escape her family home. She thinks her life will be so much better with Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife and the aunt she idolises. Little does Kate know that by going to attend Anne Boleyn she will discover love and a secret that will shake the very foundations of her identity. As an attendant to Anne Boleyn, Kate is swept up in events that see her witness her aunt’s darkest days. By the time winter ends, Kate will be changed forever.

The Week: 7th – 13th October

Back to normal here – crazy cat is still crazy…

So, here I am, back home from Europe. Even though my unpacking still hasn’t been completely successful, I already feel like I’ve been here for a year!

Now the “fun” begins. I’m doing some huge edits on my next book, which at the moment my editor and I are calling “The Landowner’s Secret 2” (because I don’t want to come up with a title, and she hasn’t yet, either!). I plan to add several thousand words into the manuscript to expand on a few things, which is going to be a big task to have done over the next two weeks.

I also have the third book to finish, and I want that done before Christmas (which is frighteningly close now!).

Harlequin’s Free Reads

Recently Reread: The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

Book Feature: Silver Silence by Nalini Singh

silver silence (psy-changeling trinity, #1; psy-changeling, #16) by nalini singh

Recently Reread: The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

Elizabeth Scott is a favourite of mine. Though now she has sadly given writing away, I’ve loved every young adult book she put out. Her characters react like human beings, not Book Characters, and her teens actually behave like people their age.

The Unwritten Rule is no different, and enough time had passed for me to enjoy the book like it was new all over again.

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

Everyone knows the unwritten rule: You don’t like your best friend’s boyfriend.

Sarah has had a crush on Ryan for years. He’s easy to talk to, supersmart, and totally gets her. Lately it even seems like he’s paying extra attention to her. Everything would be perfect except for two things: Ryan is Brianna’s boyfriend, and Brianna is Sarah’s best friend.

Sarah forces herself to avoid Ryan and tries to convince herself not to like him. She feels so guilty for wanting him, and the last thing she wants is to hurt her best friend. But when she’s thrown together with Ryan one night, something happens. It’s wonderful… and awful.

Sarah is torn apart by guilt, but what she feels is nothing short of addiction, and she can’t stop herself from wanting more…