Cover Love

I don’t think I need to explain why I love this cover! The Hollow of Fear (Lady Sherlock series #3) by Sherry Thomas is out now.

The Hollow of Fear (2018) (Lady Sherlock series #3) by Sherry Thomas

Under the cover of “Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective,” Charlotte Holmes puts her extraordinary powers of deduction to good use. Aided by the capable Mrs. Watson, Charlotte draws those in need to her and makes it her business to know what other people don’t. When her dear friend Lord Ingram stands accused of the murder of his estranged wife, Charlotte goes under disguise to help prove his innocence to Scotland Yard.

Out Tomorrow

How in the world has the In Death series reached book #45?! Secrets in Death by J.D. Robb is out tomorrow.

I have really liked the In Death books I’ve read, but I’m nowhere near up to date with this series.

Secrets in Death (In Death #45) by J.D. Robb

A new novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series: Lt. Eve Dallas must separate rumours from reality when a woman who traffics in other people’s secrets is silenced.

The chic Manhattan nightspot Du Vin is not the kind of place Eve Dallas would usually patronise, and it’s not the kind of bar where a lot of blood gets spilled. But that’s exactly what happens one cold February evening.

The mortally wounded woman is Larinda Mars, a self-described “social information reporter,” or as most people would call it, a professional gossip. As it turns out, she was keeping the most shocking stories quiet, for profitable use in her side business as a blackmailer. Setting her sights on rich, prominent marks, she’d find out what they most wanted to keep hidden and then bleed them dry. Now someone’s done the same to her, literally—with a knife to the brachial artery.

Eve didn’t like Larinda Mars. But she likes murder even less. To find justice for this victim, she’ll have to plunge into the dirty little secrets of all the people Larinda Mars victimised herself. But along the way, she may be exposed to some information she really didn’t want to know…

Revisiting Death Comes to Pemberley

Death Comes to Pemberley Mr Darcy Elizabeth Chatsworth House SOnya Heaney

The ABC has been showing the adaptation of Death Comes to Pemberley again, and I’ve been watching late at night.

Essentially a fancy fanfiction of Pride and Prejudice, it is more a murder mystery than anything resembling Jane Austen.

I wrote about the show in 2014.

Since I last watched it I’ve changed my mind about a few things, and think I enjoyed it more this time round. It’s FAR from perfect, but still worth watching.

Set a few years after Pride and Prejudice ends, the Darcys are now happily married with a son (the scene of him running through the property at the start is like a tourism advertisement for Chatsworth House!).

deathcomestopemberley Sonya Heaney Chatsworth House

And then someone is murdered.

As before, I have issues with the producers making Chatsworth – one of the greatest estates in all of the British Isles – the home of plain old “Mister” Darcy, but it makes for gorgeous scenery from start to finish.

uktv-death-comes-to-pemberley-8 Mr Darcy Elizabeth Matthew Rhys Anna Maxwell Martin Chatsworth House

There was a lot of outrage of the (many think) bad miscasting of Anna Maxwell Martin as Elizabeth Bennet. Apart from being too old for the role, her posture bothers me throughout. She slouches, walks around with her wrists propped on her hips, never wears gloves or anything on her head. I loved her in North & South, and she is a great actress, but mistress of Chatsworth House/Pemberley she certainly is not.

uktv-death-comes-to-pemberley-9 Matthew Rhys Mr Darcy

I still love Matthew Rhys as Mr Darcy, even though he was an unlikely candidate for the role. It says everything about his talent as an actor that he can pull off Darcy as well as he does his other roles, such as a Russian agent.

Eleanor Tomlinson Death Comes to Pemberley Georgiana Darcy.

Eleanor Tomlinson Death Comes to Pemberley Georgiana Darcy

Eleanor Tomlinson is a wonderful Georgiana Darcy. Since then she has gone on to find considerable fame as Demelza in Poldark – another role I love her in (but then I’ve thought she was great since she played Young Sophie in The Illusionist).

death-comes-to-pemberley-mrs-bennet-lydia-pride-and-prejudice-sonya-heaney

And I still think current British actress-of-the-moment Jenna Coleman as Lydia Wickham overacts to the point she’d over-the-top in a pantomime! She is much a caricature as the shrieking Mrs Bennet of the 1995 Pride and Prejudice.

Those are the actors who – for better or for worse – stand out for me.

This is an imperfect but GORGEOUS production that is worth a watch if it’s on repeat where you are.

On My Radar

Even though this book has a January 2018 release date, advance reader copies are already floating around, and the film rights have been sold.

Involving the CIA and Russian sleeper cells in the United States – something that really does still happen – this is *exactly* the type of book I want to read. (Blurb below.)

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

In pursuit of a Russian sleeper cell on American soil, a CIA analyst uncovers a dangerous secret that will test her loyalty to the agency—and to her family.

What do you do when everything you trust might be a lie?

Vivian Miller is a dedicated CIA counterintelligence analyst assigned to uncover the leaders of Russian sleeper cells in the United States. On track for a much-needed promotion, she’s developed a system for identifying Russian agents, seemingly normal people living in plain sight.

After accessing the computer of a potential Russian operative, Vivian stumbles on a secret dossier of deep-cover agents within America’s borders. A few clicks later, everything that matters to her—her job, her husband, even her four children—are threatened.

Vivian has vowed to defend her country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. But now she’s facing impossible choices. Torn between loyalty and betrayal, allegiance and treason, love and suspicion, who can she trust?

The Week: 20th – 26th March

Canberra’s sky this week.

We started the week so well! Temperatures in the 30s, sunny days. And then the rain hit. It’s so odd to have rain in Canberra at all, let alone a number of days in a row.

Friday evening.

The first Formula One race of the year is on in Melbourne this weekend, and it is the first time in about a decade I haven’t gone. We gave up our (crazy-expensive) premium seats after the race last year. The corruption in the sport was a real turn-off. Little did anyone know that new managers would sweep in and fire sleazy, misogynistic, Putin-loving boss Bernie Ecclestone soon afterwards!

However, all those thousands once spent on the F1 can now go to more trips to Europe!

There is something stirring in Belarus. If there’s one country in Europe people care even less about than Ukraine, it’s their neighbour. On Saturday there were protests; there’ve been mass arrests in Minsk – demonstrators and journalists alike (it is estimated about one thousand people were arrested); the riot police were out in force. The country’s opposition leader was arrested shortly before the protests began, and one woman was even put in a mental hospital for daring to protest.

This is Soviet-level stuff.

It looks like the stirrings of the 2013-14 revolution in Ukraine. Frightening, but important.

in other news, this story (below) yesterday was… even after reading it, I still don’t understand:

Naked demonstrators kill sheep under Auschwitz gates

Estonian children in a forced settlement in Siberia in 1952.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the beginning of the Kremlin’s mass deportation of 90 000 Baltic people (mostly women and children). They were sent to forced settlements in inhospitable parts of Russia, and most were never able to return.

I was on Westminster Bridge only three or so weeks ago (the photo above is from this month). The terror attack this week was… not unexpected. Sadly, I’m surprised it has been so long since something like this happened in London.

Some people have been saying: ‘Why should we care so much about London? How about (insert world conflict here)?’

Um… as if anybody cares about Yemen etc. any other day of the week! I wish they did!

People are allowed to care about London AND other things!

However, while everyone was distracted by London, Russia did some absolutely awful things in Ukraine this week. They assassinated a Russian Putin critic in the middle of Kyiv in broad daylight. They blew up the Ukrainian army’s biggest and most important munitions factory (the image above), heavily hampering their ability to fight the invasion. They killed more people in their war.

^^^^

This is an amazing – and funny – account mocking Putin, and if you have Twitter, you should follow it. Last year, the Kremlin actually bribed Twitter to ban it for a while – so much for freedom of speech! So they deserve support.

It seems bizarre that this week the US and the UK decided to put bans on electronics on aeroplanes, citing the need to stop terror attacks. The following day, a home-grown terrorist committed the London attack – without a Kindle, a laptop, a camera, OR a plane. Me not being able to take my Kindle when I fly through the Middle East twice more this year sure didn’t stop what happened in Westminster.

Travel is becoming exhausting. The ridiculous liquids ban on international flights was meant to have been lifted years ago. Instead, here we all are, still carrying lip gloss in little ziplock bags for no particular reason, and now we can’t even read a book during our flight!

I had to go through airport security FIVE times just to get home a few weeks ago. I wish there was a way I could do aeroplane-free travel, but it’s a bit of a problem, living on an island!

O-kay… I think the ranting is done for the moment.

Jugiong Writers’ Festival last weekend.

My review of The Prodigal Son (A Rowland Sinclair Novella) by Sulari Gentill

RITA Nominees Announced

A Visit to Charles Dickens’ House

Romance without feminism is no longer an option.

Monday Randomness

Jugiong Writers’ Festival last weekend.

I’ve been wanting to write something about the Jugiong Writers’ Festival all week, but I have no idea how to say it!

Jugiong Writers Festival 2017 Sonya Heaney Stan Grant Sulari Gentill Di Morrissey Margareta Osborn.

Now, some of the images I’m going to use belong to other people, so if you’re not okay with that, tell me, and I’ll remove them.

Sonya Heaney margareta Osborn Sulari Gentill Di Morrissey

This is Sulari Gentill’s photo, taken just before our panel began on Saturday afternoon.

Firstly, I’ll direct you to this article from The Guardian about the first ever Jugiong festival in 2015:

From little towns, big writers’ festivals grow.

Then, I’ll direct you to the authors on the panel I moderated – in alphabetical order:

Sulari Gentill

Di Morrissey

Margareta Osborn

Three very well-liked, well-known authors. And I’m supposed to link them all together for a fifty-minute panel, when the only two things that link their works are that they are WOMEN from AUSTRALIA??

The good thing is, they all know what they’re talking about, and (I think!) it all worked out well.

I have been to big book conventions before, and I’ve hated every minute of them. At a convention a few years ago I spent too much of every day downstairs, hiding in the bar, because every attempt I made at starting a conversation ended in funny looks and turned shoulders.

I agree with the article above, that these smaller, more rural book events are much friendlier and more inclusive than the big book conferences I’ve attended before.

Sonya Heaney Margareta Osborn Sulari Gentill Di Morrissey Jugiong Writers Festival 18th March 2017

Vivien Thomson’s photo.

Our panel was titled “Connection to People and Place”, which was vaguely advertised as having a rural focus. However, with authors writing everything from modern-day rural fiction, to 1930s Sydney, to 1904 Italy, this was a bit tricky! The good thing is that they all have such a sense of “place” that there was more time for conversation than there was time for the panel to run for.

Sonya Heaney margareta Osborn Sulari Gentill Di Morrissey Jugiong Writers Festival 18th March 2017

Sulari Gentill’s photo.

Stan Grant opens 2017 Jugiong Writers Festival @thelandnews #Jugiong #HilltopsRegion Over 250 visitors

Newspaper photo from… I have no idea!

I know I come from Australia’s capital city, but as often as not we’re lumped in with rural, rather than urban Australia (half the ads we have on TV are for tractors etc.), and as we see more kangaroos in Canberra than almost anyone else in the nation, I definitely don’t feel out of place in the country.

Kangaroos Lawn Cemetery Queanbeyan Australia 11th July 2015 Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney Winter

E.g. – my grandparents’ graves!

My day actually began with running (okay, driving at the speed limit) to the Canberra Centre to pick up two huge boxes of books they needed in Jugiong that afternoon. So my arrival was later than the others involved in the event.

I think the issues we discussed on the stage were relevant to all fiction written by women. I’ve been (more than) mildly obsessed with Regency and Victorian fiction in the past couple of years, but I think that any of those authors could have got up there last weekend and had similar things to say.

Women want to tell stories, and women authors often face the same obstacles no matter what. They write PLACE, and they write characters, and no matter what they do, they get lumped into the same group as “lady authors”, no matter is it’s romance, crime, or… well, or anything.

Free Champagne at the end of the day Sonya Oksana Heaney Jugiong Writers' Festival 18th March 2017

Free sparkling wine at the book launch at the end of the afternoon.

The discussion definitely did NOT go where I thought it would, but it seemed the audience enjoyed themselves, so… I only wish the people watching had more time for questions, but when you have three beloved authors in one panel – it’s not easy!

The other thing about Jugiong that was great was that JUGIONG was great! I have travelled through neighbouring – famous – Gundagai many times in the past few decades, but have never been to Jugiong. It’s a tiny place, but has a gorgeous – and recently renovated – old pub that I have plans to visit again soon.

Also, thank you to Freda and the rest of the team involved in the organisation of the weekend.

On top of that, the drive in and out from Canberra? Just look at it!

Jugiong NSW to Canberra ACT 18th March 2017 On the Road Sonya Oksana Heaney 2017

Jugiong NSW to Canberra ACT 18th March 2017 On the Road Sonya Oksana Heaney 2017 Dusk

 

The Prodigal Son (A Rowland Sinclair Novella) by Sulari Gentill

The Prodigal Son (A Rowland Sinclair Novella) by Sulari Gentill

1928

After eight years abroad, Rowland Sinclair has come home
to a house he hates, and a city which seems conservative
… and dull.

He longs to return to the bright lights of Europe.
Until an old friend persuades him to join Sydney Art School.

There, under the tutelage of the renowned Julian Ashton, Rowland learns to paint and finds himself drawn into the avant-garde world of Sydney’s artistic set.

But murder rears its ugly head and Rowland must decide who his friends really are.

This book can be (legally!) downloaded for free here:

The Prodigal Son (A Rowland Sinclair Novella) by Sulari Gentill

When you come across a really well-written piece of historical fiction, you realise how superficially “historical” some of your reads have been.

Author Sulari Gentill captures late 1920s (and the 1930s in her later books) Australia in way that makes you really feel as if you’re there. It’s honestly not an era I’m all that familiar with, even though it is the decade all of my grandparents were born in (but seeing as half of them were born in Ukraine…).

This story is apparently a “gift” from the author to the fans of her Rowland Sinclair series that mixes crime with politics and people in a transitional era for the world. It takes place before the series proper begins, and if I was familiar with these characters beforehand I think this would have been great fun to read. Not that I didn’t really enjoy it, but there’s nothing better than a strong author writing backstories for established, favourite characters.

I really appreciated the dialogue and the interactions between the people involved. To me, at least, I find the 1920s and 30s the period of time between “the past” and the “modern” world, and I think that is captured perfectly here. It’s an old, different era, but the contemporary one is beginning to emerge.

I get the impression from other reviews that this novella is not as heavy on the crime as some of the full length books are, but this wasn’t a problem for me as I went into it with no expectations. Gentill clearly knows how to construct a story so that it builds and builds.

I will have to seek out more instalments in this series, especially as they take place in areas familiar to me. So often I read historical fiction set overseas, and this was an interesting change.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

kerry-greenwood-miss-fishers-mysteries-books

I have seen exactly ten minutes of one episode of the television adaptation of this series, but now find myself the unexpected owner of a bunch of Miss Fisher books.

Set in Melbourne, Australia in the 1920s, the show turned out to do fairly well overseas, which surprised me a bit (in the parts I’ve seen, there are some VERY heavy Australian accents in there!). However, the costumes look gorgeous:

miss-fishers-murder-mysteries-tv-series

Has anybody read these? I have no idea when I’ll find time to, but I figure I’d better at least try one!