Travel Reads

I haven’t read the first two in this new series by J.R. Ward (of Black Dagger Brotherhood vampire book fame), but have this third instalment as a review copy.

I’ve heard the series is pretty misogynistic, and I’m not sure if I’ll have any idea what’s going on(!), but this is one of the books I have to read while in Spain.

Devil’s Cut (The Bourbon Kings #3) by J.R. Ward

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In J. R. Ward’s thrilling finale to her Bourbon Kings series, the Bradford family dynasty teeters on the edge of collapse after the murder of their patriarch—and a shocking arrest.
 
At first, the death of William Baldwine, the head of the Bradford family, was ruled a suicide. But then his eldest son and sworn enemy, Edward, came forward and confessed to what was, in fact, a murder. Now in police custody, Edward mourns not the disintegration of his family or his loss of freedom . . . but the woman he left behind. His love, Sutton Smythe, is the only person he has ever truly cared about, but as she is the CEO of the Bradford Bourbon Company’s biggest competitor, any relationship between them is impossible. And then there’s the reality of the jail time that Edward is facing.
 
Lane Baldwine was supposed to remain in his role of playboy, forever in his big brother Edward’s shadow. Instead he has become the new head of the family and the company. Convinced that Edward is covering for someone else, Lane and his true love, Lizzie King, go on the trail of a killer—only to discover a secret that is as devastating as it is game-changing.
 
As Lane rushes to discover the truth, and Sutton finds herself irresistibly drawn to Edward in spite of his circumstances, the lives of everyone at Easterly will never be the same again. For some, this is good; for others, it could be a tragedy beyond imagining. Only one thing is for certain: Love survives all things. Even murder.

Travel Reads

Another book on my read/review list for Spain is Tremarnock Summer by Emma Burstall.

Tremarnock Summer Love is in the air in a Cornish village (Tremarnock Series Book 3) by Emma Burstall

Bramble Challoner has had a very normal upbringing. She lives in a semi in the suburbs of London with her parents and works at the call centre down the road. She still goes out with the boy she met at school. At weekends they stay in and watch films on the telly and sometimes hold hands. Bramble is dying for an adventure.

So when her very grand grandfather, Lord Penrose, dies, leaving his huge, rambling house in Cornwall to her, Bramble packs her bags immediately, dragging along her best friend Katie. The sleepy village of Tremarnock had better be ready for its newest residents…

The Week: 31st July – 6th August

Winter morning…

Wednesday Sunset

Well, another crazy week in this crazy world. I can’t even be bothered getting into it! We’ve all gone insane.

However, everyone should watch Opera Versus Trump.

I am off to Spain in exactly one week, and will be gone a month. Am I packed? No. Have I wrapped everything up? No. I planned to be ready ages ago, and of course that never happened! 🙂 It didn’t help I’ve had a bad cold all week (or maybe that’s just a very convenient excuse!).

Because we’ve had some major terrorism threats in Australia in the past couple of weeks they’ve upped all our airport security to a point it’s going to be a nightmare next weekend. Our trip will involve flying Canberra to Sydney, to Thailand, to Dubai, to Spain. The stop in Thailand is just half an hour or so, but they make you get off the plane and go through two security checks – just to get back on the same plane again!

My brother is in Croatia, heading to Italy soon. He has to fly home through Doha, which has just been made a lot more interesting with the Gulf blockade on Qatar!

As I said: the world has gone insane. 🙂

RITA Winners

My review of Wedded for the Baby (Stand-In Brides #2) by Dorothy Clark

On My Radar

Resistance is Futile

 The Twentieth Anniversary of Stuart Diver’s Rescue

Thredbo Landslide. 2nd August 1997. This photograph was taken moments after Stuart Diver was freed from the rubble after spending 65 hours buried in the rubble. Mr Diver lost his first w

On My Radar

White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht

White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht has started appearing on publisher sites, and it’s something I REALLY want to read. Unfortunately it has a January 2018 release date, so I’ll have to be patient.

About Korea (where I lived and worked for a while), and the so-called “comfort women” – women who were forced into sex slavery by the Japanese in World War Two – there’s so much about this plot that draws me.

The blurb is below:

Korea, 1943. Hana has lived her entire life under Japanese occupation. Following her mother’s footsteps into the sea as a haenyeo, one of the famed female divers of beautiful Jeju Island, she enjoys an independence that few other Koreans can still claim. Until the day Hana witnesses a Japanese soldier threatening her beloved younger sister on shore. Desperate to save her, Hana is captured and transported to Manchuria where she is forced to become a comfort woman in a Japanese brothel. But haenyeo are women of power and strength and Hana holds close the lessons her mother taught her. She will find her way home.

South Korea, 2011. Emi has spent more than sixty years trying to forget the sacrifice her sister made. Now in the sunset of her life, Emi must finally confront the past to discover the peace she so desperately seeks. Finding hope in the healing of her children and her country, can Emi move beyond the legacy of war and find forgiveness?

At once suspenseful, hopeful, and ultimately redemptive, White Chrysanthemum puts a human face to the heartrending history of Korea and tells a story in which two sisters’ love for one another is strong enough to triumph over decades and the grim evils of war.

What We Find (Sullivan’s Crossing #1) by Robyn Carr

What We Find (Sullivan's Crossing #1) by Robyn Carr

Firstly: look what the Australian publishers did to this cover:

What We Find (Sullivan's Crossing #1) by Robyn Carr Australian Cover

They turned it into a rural Australian fiction cover! This book is set in Colorado (as in, NOT Australia!), and is about a surgeon, not a cowgirl – this is weird!

Under extreme pressure, neurosurgeon Maggie Sullivan knows she needs to slow down before she burns out completely, and the best place she can do that is Sullivan’s Crossing.

Named for Maggie’s great-grandfather, the land and charming general store at the crossroads of the Colorado and the Continental Divide trails now belong to Maggie’s eccentric father, Sully. She relishes the opportunity to indulge in his simple way of life.

But Maggie’s world is rocked and she must take responsibility for the Crossing. When a quiet and serious-looking hiker, Cal Jones, offers to lend a hand, Maggie is suspicious of his motives—until she finds out the true reason for his deliberate isolation.

Though Cal and Maggie each struggle with loss and loneliness, the time they spend together gives Maggie hope for something brighter just on the horizon…if only they can learn to find peace and healing—and perhaps love—with each other.

What We Find (Sullivan’s Crossing #1) by Robyn Carr

Something you should know: I didn’t finish this book. I was really enjoying it, was on the lookout specifically for a *Robyn Carr*-style easy read at a time I was tired of my review books. I bought it because I never got around to downloading the review copy when it was a new release, and because I was planning on reading book two in the series next.

And then I hit a comment – and then another comment – I could not overlook.

I was a little confused by the mixed reviews for this book. It seems that everyone expects Carr to write her crazy-successful Virgin River again and again, and every time she tries something new she’s criticised for it.

Yes, she has a unique writing style that means she can info-dump until the cows come home, and a lot of the action happens off the page, and yet somehow it WORKS. Sometimes I want to read a Robyn Carr book specifically, because it’s so comforting, and she GETS real life so well, from every perspective.

I found this to be the case with What We Find, too. I could read about everyday people and their everyday issues forever and not be bored when it’s written by this author.

I was really enjoying this book.

And then she introduced the dodgy ex-husband. The ex-Ukrainian husband.

Are you allowed to have a bad character of any nationality? Of course you are.

But there’s a BIG problem here.

Think about it: when was the last time you saw a Ukrainian character in a book? Never? That’s right. Even when authors have their characters come from a Ukrainian city like Odesa (Odessa), or give them one Ukrainian surname or another, they STILL call them “Russian” – because readers think it’s sexy.

What We Find is the one and only time we are presented with a character from Ukraine in a book, and the author chose to make him a money-hungry guy looking to marry his way into America, a man who then tries to steal all the heroine’s money out from under her when they divorce.

This is racism. This is appalling stereotyping. And this is coming at a time where Ukraine is being invaded, tens of thousands killed, millions displaced and refugees (including people in my own family).

Imagine if it had been a Syrian or Iraqi character written this way, at this time…

In Robyn Carr’s last series she presented us with charming Russians who got happy-ever-afters. I’m not trying for a conspiracy theory, but the contrast between the author’s perceptions of the two warring nationalities is troubling.

Sometimes there’s One Little Thing in a book that turns me off it completely (e.g. comments about “dumb” blondes); this was one of those things.

It is such a minor piece of the book I’m sure anyone else who has read it would think I’ve lost my mind. However, it upset me. Deeply. Of all the nationalities in the world, why’d the author deliberately choose to kick Ukrainians when they’re down?

It’s a pity, because I’d planned to invest in this series for the long run.

I still might pick this one up again in the future, and keep going. I still might try book two. But my initial reaction was to stop cold and put the book aside, and if I get over it and move on with this otherwise wonderful author, it won’t be this week.

The Week: 27th March – 2nd April

Evening Autumn Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Garden Nature 26th March 2017 2

Canberra Autumn

Driving home from lunch with Ukrainian embassy people on Thursday. Storm clouds coming over Australian Parliament.

Yesterday I finally – finally – saw some autumn colours. Not many, but it’s a start. It has been a strange year, with an overly hot March.

We planned to go the Versailles exhibition at the National Gallery yesterday (Canberra has a huge collection of things on loan from the palace in France), but could literally not find a parking spot anywhere in the Parliamentary Triangle (at least on the correct side of the lake!). Not at the gallery, not at the National Portrait Gallery, not at Old Parliament House, not at the National Science and Technology Centre, not at the National Library!

So we went to the Kingston Foreshore and had a long, late lunch instead.

Older shot of the foreshore, because my pictures from yesterday are… not good.

Here’s a popular Victorian-era April Fools’ Day joke. The day is going out of fashion, but I did actually see a few half-convincing hoaxes around this year, for the first time in ages.

However, I also thought some real news stories (one of them about Trump) were April Fools jokes, they were so outrageous! But then I remembered it was still Friday the 31st of March in other countries when it was Saturday the 1st of April here.

Now for a little bit of sexism from this week:

Does anything really need to be said about the Daily Mail and rampant sexism? Nah, this is actually classier than most of the stories they run, as sad as that is.

Maybe the people at that paper can’t cope with most of the British Isles being run by women!

There’s a lot that can be said about world politics this week, none of it good. I’ll just say this about the Mike Flynn-Russia picture above:

That’s the RT News (Russia Today) gala from December 2015. That means one of Trump’s “top people” thought it was okay to hang out with Putin nearly two years into his war in Ukraine that has claimed thousands upon thousands upon thousands of lives.

Above is the RT logo. They rebranded themselves so nobody realises it’s the Kremlin propaganda “news” channel. If you Google the news, please don’t click on links to their stories, even if they seem legitimate. They pull you in with regular stories and then slip lies in. It’s how they’ve been waging war on Ukraine, and how they helped Trump win.

My review of I Dared the Duke (The Wayward Wallflowers #2) by Anna Bennett

Man returns library book after thirty-five years.

“Some possibly unpopular thoughts” – by Isobel Carr

Margaret Atwood sets Trump supporters straight on Handmaid’s Tale controversy.

‘Beauty and the Beast’ is a lot creepier when it’s not a cartoon

Brooding YA Hero

Margaret Atwood sets Trump supporters straight on ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ controversy.

Margaret Atwood sets Trump supporters straight on ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ controversy.

I read this book in the early 1990s, and still remember some of it clearly. Now some people are accusing the adaptation of (Canadian!) Margaret Atwood’s dystopian, futuristic novel as a Hollywood attack on the Trump government.

Margaret Atwood sets Trump supporters straight on ‘Handmaid_s Tale_ controversy..

Something is not right here…!

Margaret Atwood sets Trump supporters straight on ‘Handmaid_s Tale_ controversy.

The Girl Whose Daughter’s Husband’s Wife

Ugh, these stupid book titles!

It a trend that’s still happening – unfortunately – and one that has been written about (negatively) by women for years now.

A huge part of feminism and gender equality is about women not needing a man to define who they are. And yet we have a never-ending stream of books with titles like these:

The General's Daughter by Nelson DeMilleThe Madman's Daughter by Megan ShepherdThe Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy TanThe Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch

In fact, recently on a “how-to” romance writing blog, an article about titles (written by a woman) actually recommended authors follow this fad when coming up with names for their stories!

I suppose that if this trend continues and someone suddenly wants to write my biography, there are a few options for the title. Maybe The War Veteran’s Daughter.

A title like that says NOTHING about me, just as the real book titles tell you all about the men in the protagonist’s life, but nothing about her.

Another one I find frustrating is how it is so often“The Girl” in titles. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, for example. The “girl” in that book is in her mid-twenties!

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

You rarely see books with titles like The twenty-four-year-old Boy with the Daffodil Tattoo!

This trend takes the female protagonist and removes her own identity, and instead ties it to someone else. And under no circumstances should protagonists – even young adults – be referred to as “girls”!

It’s especially infuriating that the alleged “we celebrate women” genre of romance is encouraging this trend to continue.

Very Odd

I just saw a blog post by author Roz Denny Fox, and I wanted to share it here.

Unless an author has done something horribly incorrect and offensive in a book, I don’t think it’s appropriate to contact them and tell them you didn’t like it. However, I know many people do just that.

This is a different thing, though. It’s just really, really odd! I’m completely stumped that a reader couldn’t understand the concept of fiction!

…I received a letter from a reader who had gotten a copy of one of my fairly old back-list books at a library book sale. She wrote a two page letter saying how unhappy she was because my story, set in her state, wasn’t in any town she or any of her friends had ever heard of, and she’d been a resident all her life…

…I wrote back thanking her for taking the time to write to me, and for enjoying the story. Then I said the town was fictional. I assumed this would be the end of it. But she wrote back, again disappointed. She wondered why I would put such real-sounding people, with very real careers, in a town that didn’t exist. If I wrote fiction, she said, none of the book ought to feel real…