Anzac Day – Recommended Reads

Vietnam War Memorial Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 30th May 2015

Me on Anzac Parade, the huge, memorial-lined road that leads up to the museum.

Today is Anzac Day, Australia and new Zealand’s biggest day for our war veterans. The national ceremony at the Australian War Memorial here in Canberra is televised, and before that there’s a dawn service (which I have never been to, despite coming from a family of veterans, but I always hear the neighbours getting up at about 4am!).

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We usually drop by the War Memorial a little later in the day and spend some time at the Vietnam War section.

I was trying to think of romance and suspense reads that involve Australian military or veterans, and came up with a few authors.

Hélène Young writes suspense books with some romance, and featuring Australian military characters.

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Barbara Hannay’s The Secret Years is set half in the Second World War and half in the present, and I really enjoyed it. The woman in the WW2 part is posted to the consulate in Canberra.

The Secret Years by Barbara Hannay

Sarah Mayberry has a really good book about a female veteran.

More Than One Night by Sarah Mayberry

Joan Kilby’s Protecting her Son involves an Australian Special Forces veteran, and has a scene at the end set at the War Memorial above!

Protecting Her Son

Fiona Greene’s Home For Christmas – well, the cover and title tell you what you need to know!

Home For Christmas by Fiona Greene

Karly Lane writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction, with some themes involving veterans.

tallowood-bound-by-karly-lane

And, for Kiwi veteran heroes, there is Karina Bliss’ New Zealand Special Forces series, beginning with Here Comes the Groom.

here-comes-the-groom-by-karina-bliss

A note on something that happened last week.

How (Not To) Cover Lies

I was going to post a long explanation of why I was horrified by an author’s Facebook rave about a movie last week, and said something I probably shouldn’t have, but instead I’ll make it short(ish):

#1 Hollywood director Oliver Stone is one of the most prominent Western propagandists for Russia.

#2 He considers Vladimir Putin a friend (in fact his next movie is a propaganda piece praising Putin; he interviewed him personally for it). If people liked and believed his Edward Snowden “biopic”, what’s to say they won’t like and believe the Putin one, too?

#3 He talks to right-wing English-language tabloids, spreading blatant Kremlin-approved lies about things like the war in Ukraine.

Oliver Stone Interviews Yanukovych

^^^^

Oliver Stone interviews the deposed pro-Russian president of Ukraine for a propaganda piece about the revolution that resulted in Putin’s invasion. Viktor Yanukovych is wanted worldwide for crimes such as killing his own people in 2014. He is now in hiding in Russia, but Putin gave Stone access to him.

#4 Which means paying to support, and watching, enjoying, and then recommending his films to thousands of your readers is more dangerous than you might realise.

#5 After 2016, when English-language, Kremlin-generated propaganda achieved appalling, damaging things, like delivering Trump to power, this is not a time for being ignorant.

#6 Which is why I became very angry with a very popular romance author on Friday night after seeing her singing the praises of an Oliver Stone film, made to put subtle and not-so subtle ideas in Westerners’ heads about Edward Snowden, the United States, and Russia. I totally lost it when she concluded Snowden was a hero of our time – exactly what the Russians want you to think.

This is not an era where anyone can afford to take “documentaries” or “biopics” at face value (e.g. the day after Ukraine’s new president was elected, a Kremlin-produced “documentary” was released, calling him a Nazi). The past four years have been dangerous enough and thousands of people have already died because of it – they might not be American, and so they rarely make the news, but their lives aren’t worth less. Authors with a massive fanbase and a great deal of influence have a responsibility to be smarter that that.

The Week: 17th – 23rd April

Yesterday in Canberra

It is so gorgeous here at the moment. I have no idea why it’s still so warm, when we’re about two-thirds of the way through autumn. The autumn colours are really late this year. I can only find a handful of trees with autumn leaves – this is just a photograph from a set of steps on my street!

So, this happened this week. My mother was in the middle of it. Bizarrely, neither the police nor the media reported it for 2.5 days after it happened. Then they were “seeking witnesses”? It’s a bit late after all the witnesses have #1 – stopped checking the news, and #2 – forgotten all the important facts!

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When there are Christmas books already being advertised – and you’re still getting over Christmas!

I have something to say about trust in writers, bizarre attitudes to politics, and an author I respected watching a propaganda film and then calling a Putin ally “a hero of our generation”, but I need a day or two to get over my anger and incredulity first!

My review of The Bad Luck Bride (The Cavensham Heiresses #1) by Janna MacGregor

Not-So-Contemporary Romance: The Paradox of Disenfranchised Heroines

Coming Up for Anne Gracie

Because enough time has passed…??

Because enough time has passed…??

Two Lifetimes, One Love A Novel of Reincarnation. by Thea Thaxton

There have been a few books with a romance at the centre of them out recently that have been troubling me – books that involve a woman falling in love with a Nazi.

More than that, most of the books I’ve come across with this theme involve a romance between a Nazi and a JEWISH woman.

I’m… not really okay with this.

I’ve been getting the sense recently that people are viewing the Second World War as something that was so long ago it’s now okay to romanticise it. From the under-twenty-fives blogging on Tumblr who frequently mention that Hitler actually had some good ideas and was just a little misguided, to movies that focus on the Average Joe just trying to make ends meet in Nazi Germany – to the likes of Trump and Putin, I’m getting the sense people have started softening their attitudes towards the horrors of the 1930s and 1940s.

True, nobody ever holds Soviet Russia up for the scrutiny it deserves, a regime that killed million-for-million the same numbers as the Nazis. They’ve always got away with it, and there’s no shortage of books romanticising it.

However, two wrongs don’t make a right.

Perhaps I should read some of these books, and give them a chance before dismissing them straight off.

It’s just that I never thought I’d see romances and romantic women’s fiction with swastikas on the covers. I guess it’s a sign of our times it is so normalised now nobody asks any questions.

The Bad Luck Bride (The Cavensham Heiresses #1) by Janna MacGregor

The Bad Luck Bride (The Cavensham Heiresses #1) by Janna MacGregor

All were shocked at the announcement of the “cursed” Lady Claire Cavensham to Lord Alexander Hallworth, the Marquess of Pembrooke, especially since she is already engaged to another unfortunate Lord. Perhaps she will make it to the altar this time with one of these fine gentlemen! Could her run of bad luck finally be at an end? It’s highly doubtful in this writer’s humble opinion. —Midnight Cryer

No one is left breathless at the imperious pronouncement of her engagement to Lord Pembrooke more than Claire. She hardly knows the dangerously outrageous man! But after three engagements gone awry and a fourth going up in glorious flames, she isn’t in a position to refuse…especially once she realises that Lord Pembrooke makes her want to believe she’s not a bad luck bride anymore…

Alexander requires the hand of his enemy’s fiancée in marriage in order to complete his plans for revenge. It’s his good fortune that the “cursed” woman is desperate. However, what begins as a sham turns into something scandalously deeper. The beguiling lady has no business laying claim to his heart. But as a mission of revenge turns into fiery passion, Alexander wants nothing more than to break Claire’s curse…and lead them both to their hearts’ desire.

The Bad Luck Bride (The Cavensham Heiresses #1) by Janna MacGregor

Even though this cover is about as historically inaccurate as most historical romance covers, something about it caught my attention. That, combined with the fact this book is by a debut author, and the start of a new series, had me intrigued.

The Bad Luck Bride starts off with an interesting scene, with the hero fighting a duel. It immediately drew me in.

However, the chapters following this were a little confusing, with both hero and heroine seeming to have conflicting interests, and with the introduction of an array of characters I couldn’t quite get straight in my mind.

There is a good book in here, but I found it to be a little messy. I wasn’t sure what was going on, and was confused by why the characters acted the way they did. The author clearly has some talent, but an editor should have worked a little harder to shave away the unnecessary side characters and conversations and drawn out the focus of the plot.

I was also pretty annoyed by the blatant Americanisms that started immediately and didn’t end – it’s AUTUMN, not “the fall”, and it is completely reasonable to expect authors and editors to know this. Also, “snuck” is not just a hideous word that is out of place in the Regency setting (I have a personal hatred of the term!), but there is nothing British about it. The made-up Pembrooke was also distractingly similar to the real Pembroke.

I think that author Janna MacGregor is going to develop nicely as an author, but this book isn’t quite where I wanted it to be.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.