The Week: 9th – 15th November

Paris attacks Canberra lit up in solidarity with people of France Australia 14th november 1024 National Carillon Night

The National Carillon in Canberra. One of the multiple buildings lit up here in the colours of the French flag on Saturday night.

Well, what a week this has turned out to be. Terror in Paris, Russian doping, more arrests after the terror attack here in Australia… The last time I was in Paris there were two shootings. One was in a school in the centre of the city, and the other was actually in Notre Dame.

It is frightening what is going on at the moment.

Sunset Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Spring Sonya Heaney 13th November 2015 Garden Sky Clouds Nature

Friday evening in Canberra

Spring Canberra Australia 6th November 2015 Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney Garden Flower Nature.

We had a few moments of sunshine and heat, but I’ve never seen so much rain in Canberra in my life (well, the whole country was raining). Hilarious that Prince Charles and Camilla came, and got rained on through a full day of outdoor activities. We’re not much for the monarchy here, and a little tired of being symbolically ruled by some people 17000 kilometres away.

ROYAL TOUR AUSTRALIA

They attended our Remembrance Day ceremony on the 11th. I’m astonished every year by how many people overseas don’t realise the date is commemorated worldwide, and not just in their own country.

Father Christmas waves to the crowd in North Terrace, November 14 2015.

WHY did Adelaide have their Christmas parade yesterday?? It was utterly bizarre to turn on the television and see people singing Christmas carols, and floats with Mary and Jesus and all that.

A little premature there…

I’ve been working 12+ hours a day to try and get things up for sale in time for Christmas. I’m so sleep-deprived, and have taken more painkillers than I should have because of all the headaches! However, people are already saying their Christmas shopping is almost done, and then you factor in shipping times, and consider why people shop so early, and… ARGH!

On top of that, I’m going to be away for a week in mid-December, so I’m trying to get more books read and reviews written and history posts prepared before I go.

The Clandestine Betrothal by Alice Chetwynd Ley

I read a really good traditional Regency (written in the 1960s) this week, but there probably won’t be a review up here until after Christmas! I do have a review on Goodreads. It really drove home what it is I’m missing from many historical romances being written at the moment.

British Writer Tracks Down Teen Who Gave His Book a Bad Review, Smashes Her With Wine Bottle.

British Writer Tracks Down Teen Who Gave His Book a Bad Review, Smashes Her With Wine Bottle.

Coming Soon

His Christmas Countess by Louise Allen

Cover Love

Laid Out by Sidney Halston

My review of The Rancher’s Christmas Proposal by Sherri Shackelford

The Rancher's Christmas Proposal by Sherri Shackelford

My review of Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward

Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward

My review of An Amish Noel by Patricia Davids

An Amish Noel by Patricia Davids

An Amish Noel by Patricia Davids

An Amish Noel by Patricia Davids

An Amish Homecoming 

Luke Bowman’s homecoming is turning Emma Swartzentruber’s carefully ordered world upside down. Gone is her rebellious girlhood crush, and in his place is a handsome man who seems committed to serving the community. Luke’s even agreed to work for Emma’s ill father, whose last wish is to see his daughter wedded to a stable, loving man. But Luke—a man who flirted with the outside world with disastrous consequences—is hardly marriage material for a good Amish woman. Yet this Christmas, when her family is flung into crisis, Emma finds that he may just be the one to capture her heart for good.

An Amish Noel by Patricia Davids

This was my second foray into Amish fiction (though I’ve read much more of it since receiving this review book), and it was a much bigger success for me than the first one. I still find the whole Amish world confusing and occasionally hypocritical, but author Patricia Davids presented me with a much more nuanced version of things and much more three-dimensional characters, so I was on board with the people in this book in a way I wasn’t with the first.

I suppose you could say these books are always going to follow a pretty similar pattern, seeing as the Amish world is deliberately very limited and very tame, but with this one we are given some more interesting characters. Our hero’s attempt to join the rest of the world ended in disaster when he was put in prison for drug dealing (the Amish education that doesn’t go beyond eighth grade, combined with the lack of a social security number didn’t make it easy to find work in the outside world!).

And as an added bonus, this was a reunion story. The rebellious young man paired with the very traditional Amish girl. Though it is about a love lost and found, I have no idea why a reference was made to how they were both starting to age, seeing as they were (if I remember correctly) only twenty-five!

This book deals with different groups of people in Amish society. You have the more liberal people who are embracing all sorts of aspects of the modern world, and then the people who really are still living like it’s a few hundred years in the past.

This contrast is shown especially with the other (widowed) male love interest (why are these Amish books always full of widowed people in their teens, twenties and thirties?!), who is raising his daughter to be ultra-conservative. However I’m not fond of love triangles in most cases, and I felt a bit sorry for this other man here. The book didn’t really need him in it.

Surprisingly for a Christian romance about Amish people this was one of the least cheesy Christmas books I have read. That was a nice surprise.

One thing I wasn’t too fond of was the presentation of the real world (MY real world!) as being a drug-infested sleaze-fest, but those parts were short and infrequent.

While I find nothing much romantic in the Amish life, I would happily read the next book in this series, and am also interested in the earlier two instalments. An Amish Noel showed me Amish fiction doesn’t have to be as old-fashioned and preachy as I’d initially expected it to be.

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 12th – 18th October

Friday Sunset Gowrie Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 16th October 2015 Spring Sky Clouds Grey Pink Orange Nature

Friday sunset in Canberra.

Garden Gowrie Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Spring Lilac Sonya Heaney 16th October 2015 Flowers Purple Nature

The gorgeous lilac is coming out in the garden. It smells so nice!

1999 Ballet Giselle Act Two - Sonya Heaney

Sixteen years ago this week since I danced the full-length version of Giselle for the first time. Wow, that’s a long time! The picture is from the dress rehearsal the night before, and the one the newspapers ran with in the end.

I guess you could say I like serious books now because I always preferred ballets where my character faced a tragic end!

Hotel Hotel Canberra Australia Entrance Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney 25th July 2015

We had lunch with Ukrainian embassy staff on Thursday, at Hotel Hotel. Got news on the war everyone has forgotten about…

Russian propaganda in an occupied region of Ukraine this week, explaining why Russia should be fighting and killing in Syria.13thOctober20152

Russian propaganda in an occupied region of Ukraine this week, explaining why Russia should be fighting and killing in Syria.

Surf life savers rescue drowning kangaroo in Lake Burley Griffin

On Friday morning, Canberra-based surf lifesavers rescued a drowning kangaroo that had been swimming in the lake in the city centre. I have no idea why the kangaroo was in the water!

Reasonable expectations of authors.

Sylvia Day Crossfire Series Books 1-4

Twilight Take #2 – Take #2!

Stephenie Meyer E.L. James

Cover Love

Falling at the Surgeon's Feet by Lucy Ryder

How to annoy a Jane Austen fan!

How to annoy a Jane Austen fan in three easy steps.

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

Tall, Dark, & Wicked by Madeline Hunter

My review of The Amish Midwife by Patricia Davids

The Amish Midwife by Patricia Davids

The Week: 5th – 11th October

Floriade Canberra Australia Spring Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney 5th October 2015 Purple Flowers Garden Nature

At Floriade on a very hot Monday afternoon.

Qeanbeyan New South Wales Australia Queanbeyan River Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney Spring Nature

And on the Queanbeyan River on Friday.

This week started with another public holiday, and we went to the Floriade flower festival and then out to lunch. It was too hot for the flowers, and very hot walking around!

Friday and Saturday we went out to dinner and to various theatre shows. In all, I haven’t achieved all that much this week!

2013 Noosa Long Weekend FestivalMACQUARIE Day 7Tourism Noosa© 2013 Barry Alsop PhotographerEyes Wide Open IMAGES

The show we saw on Saturday night.

On the way back from the theatre (the hugely underrated and spectacularly fantastic Expressions Dance Company’s production) in Queanbeyan on Saturday night, we had to pass my late-grandmother’s house. The new owners have moved in, and apparently don’t have curtains yet.

We were so horrified by what they’ve done to the place we circled back and went past again! Yes, it was stalkerish, and yes, we know we can’t control what they do!

However, the house was built by a bricklayer, with all special, expensive, handmade bricks throughout, and a big feature – REAL – fireplace. It’s all gone, and instead now everything is plastered over, and the lounge room wall now has the biggest flat screen television I’ve ever seen (it must have cost about half the price of the house again!). That’s it. Plastered walls, knocked down walls, covered-up fireplace, and a giant TV playing the football.

Poor Baba. Her house has been ruined!

Release Day for Madeline Hunter

Tall, Dark, & Wicked by Madeline Hunter

So, Stephenie Meyer celebrated the ten year anniversary of Twilight…

Life and Death Twilight Reimagined (Twilight #5) by Stephenie Meyer

Cover Love

Pride and Prejudice Book Cover Jane Austen

My review of A Daddy for Christmas by Linda Ford

A Daddy for Christmas by Linda Ford

My review of A Reluctant Bride (Amish of Birch Creek #1) by Kathleen Fuller

A Reluctant Bride (Amish of Birch Creek #1) by Kathleen Fuller

A Reluctant Bride (Amish of Birch Creek #1) by Kathleen Fuller

A Reluctant Bride (Amish of Birch Creek #1) by Kathleen Fuller

She never wanted to marry. He hopes to make amends for past wrongs. Can love find a way to heal both of their hearts?

Sadie Schrock swore she would never marry. All of her other Amish friends could court and marry she was content to manage the family business and eventually take it over when her parents are ready to retire. But all of that changes when a reckless driver kills both of her parents and seriously injures her younger sister. With mounting hospital bills adding to the pile of debt her parents left behind, Sadie is left with no choice: she must marry. And not just any man the man who saw her at her weakest and walked away.

Aden knows what his brother did to Sadie years ago was inexcusable. And every day since that incident, Aden has lived with the guilt for not intervening sooner. When he is faced with the chance to protect Sadie once again, he can t let her down even if it means living with the scorn of the woman he loves for the rest of his life.

Working alongside Aden at the store, Sadie realises he isn’t the same boy who once betrayed her. Just when Sadie starts to let her guard down and perhaps develop feelings for her new husband, dangerous secrets are revealed. Now everything Sadie has worked so hard to protect is threatened, and she must find a way to save her family and herself.

A Reluctant Bride (Amish of Birch Creek #1) by Kathleen Fuller

This was an interesting enough read that I’ll be looking out for the rest of the books in the series. It was maybe a little jumpy and disjointed in places, but the storyline was complex and engrossing, and I loved the relationship at the centre. Hero and heroine are forced to marry with no warning or preparation, and it was nice watching their relationship grow.

I will never really understand the appeal of the Amish lifestyle, but when an author – like this one – makes you believe it’s right for the characters, then it’s easy to get invested in their world.

The things I like about this book are things that authors are unlikely to get away with in more mainstream romance. The shy, awkward, shortish and reddish-haired hero, for example. The poor guy was abused by his father and older brother and then years back, when the heroine needed his help, he didn’t give it.

This makes for an interesting story and an interesting conflict in the relationship, and I’m glad to see more complex characters.

I must say that I kept trying to give the heroine the benefit of the doubt, as she has been to hell and back, has lost her parents and now been forced to marry all in the space of a fortnight, but it was hard. I didn’t necessarily dislike her, but I didn’t find her particularly appealing either. She was a bit of an empty, but angry, shell, and I didn’t really get why the hero had loved her pretty much his whole life.

My biggest issue was her huge grudge she held. Sexual harassment or assault – no matter how minor – is NOT ON, but I couldn’t help but feel her reaction to something six years earlier was a colossal overreaction. If I or most women I know reacted like that to similar things we’ve experienced (usually more than time), we’d be locked up in padded rooms now!

It is always funny when you read Christian romances, to see how many hoops the author can jump through to have her married characters not have sex! At least in this one the forced marriage was a legitimate excuse for them to take their time!

This book used more Amish words than any other Amish book I’ve read (but as I’ve only read Harlequin line books before, maybe that publisher has a policy this one doesn’t). My high school German helped, but there is also a glossary at the start. It’s not overwhelming.

I didn’t find A Reluctant Bride especially preachy, but of course the Amish are very religious people, so there’s some God-talk here.

I was growing a little tired of some of the themes used in historical romances recently, and it might seem a bit odd, but I’m finding Amish books have been filling a gap in my reading. There’s the comfort of the modern world, but also a feel of the past to the stories. It’s not exactly a sexy world(!) but then I don’t need that in my romances.

Not all Amish books I’ve read are of the same standard, but in this one, I think I’ve found a series to invest in.

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 7th – 13th September

Spring Blossoms Queanbeyan Australia Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney 8th September 2015

Spring Blossoms Queanbeyan near Canberra Australia 12th September 2015 Sonya Heaney Flowers Nature

Spring in my late-grandmother’s garden X

Cat Queanbeyan Australia Sonya Heaney 12th September 2015

Stray Cat Cooma Street Queanbyean Sonya Heaney 11th September 2015 (2)Stray Cat Cooma Street Queanbyean Sonya Heaney 11th September 2015

We are literally cat magnets these days. Here is yet another starving stray, who had the bad sense to move into my grandmother’s house right when contracts were being signed to sell it (the house, not the half-grown kitten!). This is possibly the most gorgeous, lovely-natured animal I have ever come across – and she is half the size she looks in the pictures!

sonya-heaney-oksana-heaney-canberra-13th-july-2013

In Canberra on Wednesday night they closed off half the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge (which connects the city with the Federal Parliament buildings) to film something involving guns and Chinese spies and a man jumping into the lake. The half of the bridge on the right of the picture is where some James Bond-type is going to be jumping from! (That is one of our pictures from 2013. You can’t really even tell it’s a bridge over water!) I guess I’ll have to watch this thing when it comes out!

Found alive Canberra family's prayers answered

Want an amazing story? On Friday a young woman missing in Canberra was found. After almost seven full days of everyone thinking of the worst possible reasons for her disappearance it turns out her car had crashed and she’d rolled down a slope, hitting all sorts of things. She’d been waiting for rescue for almost a week! It looks really remote, but here in the nation’s capital you have bushland like this even in the city centre! She must have been so frustrated.

Fifty Shades of Grey in Eighteen Minutes

Fifty Shades of Grey Movie

Cover Love

My American Duchess by Eloisa James

Cover Love

Midnight Captive (2015) (The sixth book in the Killer Instincts series) A novel by Elle Kennedy

My review of A Noble Masquerade (Hawthorne House #1) by Kristi Ann Hunter

A Noble Masquerade (Hawthorne House #1) by Kristi Ann Hunter

My review of Rescue Me by Christy Reece

Rescue Me by Christy Reece

My review of An Amish Harvest (The Amish Bachelors #1) by Patricia Davids

An Amish Harvest (The Amish Bachelors #1) by Patricia Davids