The Week: 9th – 15th December

Bushfire sunset in Canberra

Merry Christmas! I know it’s too early, but we’re celebrating today because we’re going away next week.

Canberra Smoke Heatwave Bushfires December 2019

The bushfire haze in Canberra has been horrendous. It’s hot, and for days there was smoke in your eyes and your throat even if you stayed inside. I live surrounded by mountains, and the smoke was so thick I couldn’t see them anymore. Now the west of the country is on fire, too.

The volcano disaster in New Zealand dominated the news here this week because the majority of the people killed and injured were Australian. It’s horrific.

Virgin River Episodes 1-3

Virgin River Robyn Carr Books Netflix Adaptation

Cover Love

HOLIDAY HOMECOMING SECRETS by Lynette Eason

How’s this for a neighbourhood library?!

Woman Transforms Rotting Tree In Her Yard Into Charming Neighbourhood Library Winter

Virgin River Episodes 1-3

Virgin River Robyn Carr Books Netflix Adaptation

All right, I have to say this first because I’m seeing a lot of people talking nonsense online: Virgin River is based on a book series that began well over a decade ago. It is NOT a copy of Hart of Dixie.

Now I’ve said that, I shall move on to my review!

The most important question: do I like the Netflix adaptation of Virgin River? YES! I like it much more than I expected to, have laughed out loud several times, and will continue to watch the rest of the season.

Is it perfect? Nup and nope, but overall I think they’ve done a good job.

The Great:

Alexandra Breckenridge as Melinda Monroe Virgin River Robyn Carr

Alexandra Breckenridge as Melinda Monroe

When I saw the first picture from the set (on Instagram, below) I knew they’d cast a good Mel. What I didn’t know was that they’d cast an outstanding Mel.

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If you were to ask me who my most hated book character of all time is, I’d say Mel without hesitation. That Breckenridge has made her into a wonderful, rounded character I love is a pretty huge achievement.

The medical stuff is under control.

The thing I always found off-putting in the books was the obsession with detailed medical procedures. It squicked me out and I thought a lot of it was totally unnecessary. It’s so much better in the show – and in the background, where it belongs.

It also means “annoying, bossy Mel” has been toned down. She doesn’t get as many scenes to lecture everyone in.

Daniel Gillies as Mark

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I want to marry this character. He doesn’t appear on the page in the series, but I’m very glad to meet him here.

Annette O’Toole as Hope McCrea

Yes, her character is nothing like the woman in the books, but I’m loving this version of Hope. She’s hilarious and I don’t mind that they’ve enormously expended her part.

The Good:

Tim Matheson as Doc

I’m liking him more and more as the series goes on.

The Not-So-Good:

Martin Henderson as Jack Sheridan

virgin-river-tv-series Book

I had my doubts when I saw the picture on Instagram, and I’ve been proven right. It doesn’t help that Daniel Gillies is so good in his role (we’re not meant to love Mark more than Jack!). Many a person stuck with the book series specifically because of Jack’s character, and so he was going to have to be outstanding.

So far he’s someone I’d have a chat with, not marry. And – sorry – but his character is supposed to be around my age, and this version of Jack looks old enough to be my father.

Also, the little addiction side story they’ve thrown in is totally unnecessary.

Character heights and sizes.

SO MUCH is made of these huge, tough Marine Corps guys in the books. I know Hollywood is populated with men who are smaller than they look on the screen, but when Mel and Jack and Preacher are all a similar size? Doesn’t work.

The Bad:

The changes made to Preacher and Paige.

Paige Chris Preacher Virgin River

Now, I’m not blaming the actors here. They’re both doing an outstanding job with what was written for them. The problem is that these characters bear no resemblance whatsoever to their book characters, and their storyline is unrecognisable.

It was a clever move to make Preacher a POC, and if you take a look at the books they never actually say he’s white. I’ve commented many times in the past that author Robyn Carr has both a problem writing diversity, and is sometimes outright racist.

My issue with Preacher: where’s our shy, gentle giant gone? Why is the man of few words relentlessly lecturing Jack about his personal life? What on earth is going on … ?

As for Paige: book Paige runs away to Virgin River with her son, and I can understand that the scriptwriters thought this made her story too similar to Mel’s. I would have been fine with her already living in the town (as she does in the show). What I’m not okay with is her running a flipping bakery truck. In a tiny town where it’s snowy and cold.

Surely the writers could have come up with something better than that, because I honestly think it’s incredibly stupid …

And, so …

Books and shows are different beasts, and while a good book can’t be episodic, TV practically demands it. Cliffhangers have to be thrown in, and so I can forgive quite a few of the changes. (My scriptwriting tutor from university would be overjoyed to hear me say this!)

Overall I’m pretty fine with how the show is going, even if Jack’s not my guy and even though Preacher and Paige are suffering from some serious character assassination. Mel, Hope and Doc make up for it.

Despite my issues I’d recommend Virgin River to anyone who wants a bit of a laugh to go with their drama.

The Week: 25th November – 1st December

Bushfires approaching Canberra on Friday night. Credit and bigger versions HERE.

It was a scary week for the Canberra region, with out of control bushfires everywhere. On Thursday the air filled with smoke at sunset, and when I went outside to look the entire valley was inundated. Our city has burnt before, and as we’re 100% surrounded by mountains and bushland, these times are terrifying for us.

Trailer for Virgin River!

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Cover Love

The Goodbye Café (The Hudson Sisters #3) by Mariah Stewart

The Week: 4th – 10th November

Friday afternoon writing view Sonya Heaney Author Coke Cat Coffee Canberra Australia Book 8th November 2019

Friday afternoon writing view: Coke, cat, coffee, Lisa Kleypas book – and the table runner bunched up because a certain grey feline likes to attack it …

My oh-so neat, easy-to-understand, high-tech way of plotting a book! Sonya Heaney Author Historical Romance 7th November 2019

I’m working on a new book! And my plotting process is a mess! This comes after sending my next book off to my editor at the start of the week.

Release Day for Mary Balogh

Someone to Remember (2019 Westcott series #7) A novel by Mary Balogh

Premiere Date for Virgin River

Cover Love

The Earl's Betrothal by Karen Tuft

Premiere Date for Virgin River

Virgin River TV Series

The premiere of the Netflix adaptation of Robyn Carr’s Virgin River books is the 6th of December.

I’m sorry, but even though I think the Mel actress looks great, every time I see this guy as Jack I think he looks worse (and worse and worse). So much for Mr Crew Cut Marine! On the other hand, I do really like the actor in other things, so I’ll reserve judgement until I actually see him acting the part. My biggest casting surprise ever was with someone I thought was HORRIBLE for a role, and then I loved them when I saw them perform onstage.

There have been some major changes to other characters from the books. I anticipated a lot of the alterations (e.g. some much-needed diversity, though I never thought they’d age Paige and Preacher by 15-20 years!). We’ll see how ardent fans react …

Book Feature: Her Outback Surprise by Annie Seaton

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!

her outback surprise by annie seaton

Her Outback Surprise by Annie Seaton

Angie Edmonds is content with life in her small town. Being alone doesn’t bother her. Really. Until Liam Smythe, the man who broke her heart, shows up at her vet clinic with an injured puppy. Unfortunately, he’s just as irresistible as she remembers. In an attempt to prove to him that she’s moved on, somehow a little white lie begins…

When Liam returns to help run the family farm, his enjoyment of the slow life in Spring Downs surprises him. After all, he’s used to the thrill of chasing the next big story. Running into the girl he’s never been able to forget is unexpected, and he’s shocked to learn she’s getting married–to someone who’s not him. She’s off-limits, but Liam can’t stop thinking about the gorgeous vet and what could have been. But convincing her he’s changed will be harder than finding a needle in a haystack.