The Week: 16th – 22nd November

Canberra Australia Sunset Sonya Heaney 18th November 2015 Sky Spring Clouds Garden Nature

Weird Wednesday Sunset

Phew, what a hot week. With more to come. What a change from the weather we put on for the British royals!

Hot Day Canberra Australia 19th November 2015 Garden Spring Sonya Heaney Umbrellas Trees

It was too hot to be working on the deck on Thursday afternoon, but I tried it all the same!

Paris attacks could 'kill' Tour de France and cycling Michael Rogers

Paris attacks could ‘kill’ Tour de France and cycling: Michael Rogers

The Frankfurt Grand Prix cycling race was cancelled after German police arrested a married couple who had allegedly planned an attack on the May Day race.

According to reports, police found a bomb, a firearm, ammunition and chemicals for making explosives.

I actually went to high school with Michael Rogers, a world champion bike rider and Olympic medallist. We were featured together in a newspaper article as stars of the future. He became a star, and I dislocated my knee too many times to continue with ballet!

Canberra Australian Parliament lit up in French colours to support Paris.2

Canberra this week: Australian Parliament lit up to support Paris.

14th November 2015 Syrians against Assad and russia

And if everyone could remember that Russia invaded Ukraine and Georgia, and shot down MH17, and is bombing civilians in Syria… the people of Syria sure aren’t enjoying Putin’s “assistance”. You can’t be a terrorist in other countries, and then condemn it in France!

Magpie Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 17th November 2015 Bird Garden Spring NatureUntitled

Here is one of our magpies. This one (she?) follows you around all day. I took this picture from the back deck on Tuesday afternoon, where I was working at the table. She spent the afternoon running laps around my legs, sitting on the chair next to me, and watching the view from the railing of the deck. She really seems to think she’s a dog or a cat!

Since WordPress rolled out its God-awful new upgrade this week, I have had a few tantrums. Everyone is so busy making things phone-friendly these days (Goodreads, I’m looking at you and your big ugly buttons!) that it’s impossible to use sites on an actual computer!

Romance Authors React to Harlequin Advertisements

Romance Authors React to Harlequin Advertisements

The final Crossfire book finally has a release date!

One With You by Sylvia Day

Anne Gracie’s Upcoming Book

The Summer Bride (Chance Sisters book 4) by Anne Gracie

Goodreads Choice Awards 2015

Goodreads Choice Awards

My review of I Spy a Duke (Covert Heiresses #1) by Erica Monroe

I Spy a Duke (Covert Heiresses #1) by Erica Monroe

My review of More Than Comics (Chasing the Dream #2) by Elizabeth Briggs

More Than Comics (Chasing the Dream #2) by Elizabeth Briggs

I Spy a Duke (Covert Heiresses #1) by Erica Monroe

I Spy a Duke (Covert Heiresses #1) by Erica Monroe

In the first in an adventurous new series, USA Today Bestselling Author Erica Monroe introduces the Covert Heiresses: four women who by day are the talk of the ton, and by night England’s top spies.

She wants revenge…

When bluestocking Vivian Loren becomes the governess for the wealthy Spencer family, she’s searching for clues about the murder of her brother, not a husband. But Vivian didn’t count on James Spencer, the infuriatingly handsome Duke of Abermont.

He needs a wife…

As head of Britain’s elite intelligence agency, James has no time to woo a wife. When he discovers Vivian’s quest for answers has made her a pawn in a treacherous plot, James realizes they can help each other. She’ll become his duchess, and he’ll keep her safe from one of Napoleon’s deadliest spies.

What begins as a marriage of convenience quickly becomes anything but, as they find out love is the most dangerous mission of all.

I Spy a Duke (Covert Heiresses #1) by Erica Monroe

It’s almost impossible for me to review this book. Why? Because it’s a combination of an author whose books I REALLY enjoy and a trope that makes me want to scream with frustration.

There is nothing wrong with Erica Monroe’s writing. In fact, I prefer it to most historical romance writers at the moment, and I appreciate the little details of day-to-day life she works into her books.

I would highly recommend her other series I’ve read.

Secrets in Scarlet (Rookery Rogues Book 2) Erica MonroeBeauty and the Rake (The Rookery Rogues Book 3) by Erica Monroe

Review links.

It’s just I’ve reached my limit with Bond, Duke Bond.

I can’t do James Bond aristocrats, and I especially can’t do Jane Bond aristocrats, which this book also has. This current fad is not for me, and so many historical romance authors have jumped on board. Why don’t these powerful dukes go off and do powerful work in parliament and take care of their powerful estates? Where do they find the time for a whole lot of espionage?

The duke-who-is-a-spy is the historical romance equivalent of the contemporary romance hero who is not only a billionaire (never just a millionaire!), but also a prize-winning athlete, a Special Forces soldier, and gorgeous. It’s overkill. It’s mixing too many idealistic men up and making one.

You can have an alpha historical hero without a title. The historical spy books that have really worked for me are those where the hero isn’t highly-ranked enough to have a title.

In fact, the reason I became a fan of this author was because she wrote historical romantic suspense about people lower down the social ladder.

I will say again: the author writes well. Her characterisation and research are excellent.

My problem with this series is that not only is our duke risking his noble neck doing his spy thing, but his siblings are too – the women included (about the same time Jane Austen was a young lady!). So much for protecting the family bloodlines by not getting the heirs killed…

So, look. This is not for me. I wanted to try it because I really wanted to like the series, but I couldn’t do it. I’ve read one Duke Bond too many, I suppose.

However, if you like this trope, definitely give it a go.

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 13th – 19th July

Canberra MH17 Service 26th July 2014

It has been one year since Russian terrorists shot down MH17. So much has happened since then, and since we organised and hosted the service for all the ambassadors and politicians. I can’t believe it has already been a year, and at the same time I can hardly believe it has already been a year.

Amber+Lounge+Fashion+Monaco+JPp_EMOvc1Ol

RIP to Formula One driver Jules Bianchi, who died at the beginning of the weekend. I was watching the race from Barcelona in October last year when he had his horrific crash, which eventually led to his death. I have never seen such a frightening crash.

I typed 36 000 words of a manuscript this week – Monday to Friday. 36 000 words! I think that was a little too much for five days.

As far as reading went this has been a pretty lacklustre week. I started a number of very “blah” books, and even searching all over NetGalley I was having trouble finding anything to get excited about. Maybe the August – October time period isn’t the best for new books… I still seem to be reading a lot of Western historicals, which is nothing like my usual fare. Maybe I need the change.

These aren’t ads, they’re screenshots!

Irritatinggooreadsads1Irritatinggooreadsads

I’m finding Goodreads unusable at the moment. While I know you can use software to block annoying ads, I don’t see why I should have to for this ONE site. These ads above are animated, meaning the creepy-looking women move nonstop in them, and they are on EVERY page. It makes Goodreads look like some dodgy torrent site, and it’s too distracting to post there.

High quality ads, too. Because we *totally* use the word “Mom” here in Canberra. Yeah, sure.

Those “Strong Heroines”

US Navy SEAL Training.

Cover Love

Sugar Creek by Toni Blake

My review of Shadow of a Doubt (The Tangled Ivy Trilogy #2) by Tiffany Snow

Shadow of a Doubt (The Tangled Ivy Trilogy #2) by Tiffany Snow

My review of Outlaw Hearts (Outlaw Hearts #1) by Rosanne Bittner

Outlaw Hearts (Outlaw Hearts #1) by Rosanne Bittner

My review of Beauty and the Rake (The Rookery Rogues Book 3) by Erica Monroe

Beauty and the Rake (The Rookery Rogues Book 3) by Erica Monroe

My review of A New Hope (Thunder Point #8) by Robyn Carr

A New Hope (Thunder Point #8) by Robyn Carr

Beauty and the Rake (The Rookery Rogues Book 3) by Erica Monroe

 Beauty and the Rake (The Rookery Rogues Book 3) by Erica Monroe

Once, she was beautiful…

Abigail Vautille dreamed of escaping the Whitechapel rookery and starting a new life, until one tragic night left her scarred and penniless. To save her family from debtor’s prison, she strikes a deal with the rogue who owns her father’s gambling vowels–if he excuses the debt, for two weeks, she’ll give him her body, but not her heart.

Once he was charming…

Inspector Michael Strickland of the Metropolitan Police has always had a way with women. Success comes easily to him, and he glides through life on his good looks and family name. But Abigail lights a passion within him he never knew existed. He sees the beauty within her, not the beast she believes herself to be.

Together, their love is beyond a fairy tale.

After a dangerous figure from Abigail’s past resurfaces vowing vengeance, things take a sinister turn. But Michael will stop at nothing to keep the woman he loves safe. When the stakes are high and the scars are more than skin deep, passion might be the key to a happily ever after.

Beauty and the Rake (The Rookery Rogues Book 3) by Erica Monroe

I’m an idiot for not reading this sooner, because I’d been looking forward to it. However, I got this author’s name mixed up with another (similar) historical romance author’s name and kept passing over it when it came up for review!

I really love what Erica Monroe is doing with historical romance. The 1830s aren’t the loveliest of time periods (the fashion was just awful!), and the rookeries of London not the most romantic of settings, but wow, this is the sort of historical romance I need to pull me out of my rut. Throw in a bit of suspense, as the author has, and I’m one happy reader.

The research in this series is VERY impressive, and explained a little in the author’s notes, however in the future I’d like to see Monroe get some help with her language, because it’s the only place in her books where she really misses the mark.

Self-publishing is a minefield of a thing, but this is one self-published author who well and truly delivers.

Another great thing about NOT writing about dukes and daughters of dukes is that all that ridiculous behaviour that makes no sense in aristocrats makes sense with these characters. Becoming someone’s mistress is actually good career choice for these women. Going out without a chaperone is just the way things are. All those ridiculous anachronisms in most historical romances make sense in these books.

My biggest issue is with the language. These women in this series have no education, and are from the rookeries of London. Which means they would not have spoken like this:

“It’s a system of cards advancing in a predetermined rhythm.”

“I believe that the world is fundamentally flawed… I’m a Whitechapel girl. Few people care about our existence.”

And nor do people in 1830s London use mid-twentieth century American terms like “cover all bases”! I was also wondering how the hell they left the building via the first floor (surely the drop to the ground resulted in broken limbs!) and why everyone kept displaying their bare little donkeys (asses)! And the shortened form of mathematics is maths.

I’d say you should read the book before this one first, though it isn’t necessary. You’ll catch up easily, but it makes more sense if you get through these in order. Especially so to get the background on the horrible thing that was done to the heroine, and why it is now shaping her future.

It’s sad that traditional publishing has become so stagnant. I want more books like these.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 23rd February – 1st March

Kingston Foreshore Canberra Australia  Lake Burley GriffinSummer 28th February 2015 Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney.

Drinks on the lake in Canberra on hot Saturday afternoon

The end of summer here…

I read Defiant by Pamela Clare this week, and it made me cry. I wish I could find more historical romance like that!

My new Kindle arrived, but honestly, what is the point in a touchscreen Kindle? What was wrong with the original model (which was much lighter, may I point out!). I want to read a book, not play – and I certainly don’t want to play on a greasy screen! And that silly screen is so sensitive I spend more time accidentally adjusting the font size and turning to the wrong page than I do reading stuff!!

On the plus side, at least I can get back to my review books.

I’ve signed up – PAID – for the Australian Romance Readers Convention that starts on Friday. I’m already regretting it because I’m just turning up on my own! However, we own two apartments in the building next door to the venue, and my brother lives two buildings from there, so if I panic I have options to go and hide!

Skip if you must, but my political rant for the week coming up!!

RIP Boris Nemtsov, the anti-Putin Russian politician executed on Friday night. Here he was with Ukrainians in Odesa last year:

Boris Nemtsov during the Vyshyvanka Rally in Ukraine's Odesa, June 2014.

Police at the place of Boris Nemtsov murder.

Putin is executing his opposition, in the middle of freaking Red Square. Nemtsov had just said he knew he would be killed, and so he was. Killed while walking with a Ukrainian woman. How much more evil does Putin have to get before anybody – apart from Ukraine – actually tries to stop him?

41 percent of Lviv region sodliers are women Urkaine russia invaded Ukraine February 2015

41% of Ukrainians from the Lviv region (where some of my family lives) who are fighting the Russian invasion are women. That’s a pretty amazing statistic, especially as women were told not to enlist when the war first began.

And shame on Cyprus giving Russia a military base in the Mediterranean. If you get invaded, don’t say you weren’t warned. Shame on you for supporting Russia.

What’s wrong with being nice?

Willow Springs (2012) (The fifth book in the Destiny series) by Toni Blake

My review of Dying to Score by Cindy Gerard

Dying to Score A Black Ops, Inc. Short Story by Cindy Gerard

My review of Secrets in Scarlet by Erica Monroe

Secrets in Scarlet (Rookery Rogues Book 2) Erica Monroe

My review of Second Chance Island by Jenny Schwartz

Second Chance Island by Jenny Schwartz

My review of Forgotten Fragrance by Téa Cooper

Forgotten Fragrance by Téa Cooper

My review of Longbourn by Jo Baker

 Longbourn by Jo Baker

 

Secrets in Scarlet by Erica Monroe

Secrets in Scarlet (Rookery Rogues Book 2) Erica Monroe

When a girl is murdered at a factory in one of London’s rookeries, Sergeant Thaddeus Knight of the Metropolitan Police comes in to investigate. But it’s not just the factory owners that Thaddeus wants information on–the devilishly intriguing Poppy O’Reilly is a puzzle he’d like nothing more than to solve.

Protecting her young daughter is the most important thing to Poppy, and Thaddeus threatens the false identity she’s carefully constructed. The last thing she should do is allow Thaddeus close to her family, yet she can’t stay away from him. With danger around the corner, will the secrets of a scarlet woman lead to their undoing?

Secrets in Scarlet (Rookery Rogues Book 2) Erica Monroe

This was a really great book by an author I’ve never read before, and I almost missed it! Set in London’s less than rich and beautiful areas just before the Victorian era began, it was a fantastic mix of crime, romance and intrigue.

But – oh My God! – the packaging! The cover… I thought it was a contemporary romance in the spirit of Mills and Boon’s racier lines. The title has pretty much nothing whatsoever to do with the story. (Maybe the goal was for the series to be named in the spirit of Madeline Hunter’s? Ravishing in Red, Dangerous in Diamonds etc.?). I downloaded the review book when I ran out of historical reads, and only after checking out a slew of positive reviews.

The reviews were right. It wasn’t quite perfect, but I’m VERY glad I read it.

This is almost exactly the type of historical romance I want to read. Not entirely focused on the romance, and properly capturing how life was back then – no fairy tales. Interesting characters and true nineteenth century “morals” coming into how society operated. A real exploration of London beyond the ballrooms.

Our heroine is a single mother and very young (nineteen). Her past is a mystery to most people. She was strong and intelligent and interestingly Irish Catholic, which of course had a huge effect on her life in England in the 1830s. I did think she was a little too composed for her age and had her future a little too well organised (having lived on my own in London at nineteen, I know I was nowhere near that “together” at that age!).

Our hero was wonderful because he was flawed enough to be believable. He doesn’t have all the answers, and at twenty-four he is still trying to find his way while rebelling against his upper middle class family. One of my favourite things was that he was nowhere near the sex expert he hoped people would believe he was.

For example, when he tries out something he learnt from a naughty book, and Poppy ends up with a bleeding lip:

Yet she couldn’t help but giggle at the absurdity of him sitting at home in his great library, surrounded by classics, combing over the pages of a tattered pornographic pamphlet.

And when he brought her a present she couldn’t accept:

He shifted his weight from one foot to the other, remaining in the doorway of that tenement house. Red spread across his cheeks, and she couldn’t bring himself to add onto his crestfallen state.

I did think that the relationship moved a bit too fast; the entire book takes place over a very short space of time, and huge life changes are made based on that attraction. I also thought the villain was a bit over-the-top evil with not enough motivation.

Additionally, there were a few jarring Americanisms (gotten often appeared two or three times a page). The worst offender was the second floor washing that was apparently hitting Thaddeus in the face – he’d had to have been a giant for that to happen! Outside of America, you have the ground floor on ground level, and then the first floor is the first floor up, and so on!

However, this was a great read, and I didn’t feel that I’d missed out on any important backstory by starting the series with book two.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.