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

Goodreads Choice Awards 2015

Goodreads Choice Awards

Every year throws up a truly bizarre selection of books. I do like some, but so often they don’t even fit the category they’re nominated in (that’s what happens when you open up nominations to all and sundry!).

And as ever, Goodreads refuses to acknowledge romance, the most popular genre in publishing, and only gives it one award. Because erotic paranormal fiction is *totally* meant to be in the same category as Amish romance!

On the other hand, fantasy is always given half a gazillion award categories. It’s pure snobbery.

Additionally, the awards exclude books published in November and December. I have no idea why you’d have a “best of” before the year is done. That’s why Hollywood awards don’t happen until the following year.

Amongst this year’s “romance” finalists is the (widely-ridiculed) Fifty Shades of Grey rewrite. I saw the list and knew I couldn’t vote. The only book I might vote for, I haven’t read yet! Last year, Diana ‘I hate romance and don’t write that trash!’ Gabaldon won the romance category for her historical fiction.

If you want to vote, you can HERE (as long as you have a Goodreads account).

Me? I’m in the process of compiling my own “Best Of 2015” list instead.

Where to go to discuss romance?

Goodreads Logo Banner

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It seems all the traditional places to discuss books are dying out. When, a couple of years ago, everyone panicked and migrated from Goodreads to BookLikes, it seemed all the great discussions on book-related social media started disappearing. I kept relentlessly posting in my favourite Goodreads groups, but often it felt like I was talking to myself.

I left my favourite discussion group on Monday, Goodreads’ historical romance group, because of some truly bizarre and stalkerish behaviour by the moderator. A note to any other moderators out there: take a look at a world map. Just because it’s 1:30pm Sunday in Texas doesn’t mean it is on Australia’s east coast. Becoming progressively ruder in your messages isn’t going to change anything if it’s 4:30am on Monday here and I’m in bed!

And please, it’s crossing a line to stalk someone all over a site. I’d report it to moderators if it wasn’t a moderator doing it!

I’m going to miss that group – in a way. But at the same time I was recently feeling that place was dying out too.

I tried with BookLikes, I really did. But it felt like a cross between Tumblr and a teen popularity contest (which is basically what Tumblr is!), and the stupid site kept freezing my computer.

I closed my account there, but I also lost touch with the longer-term romance readers who I’d been in contact with under various names for a decade.

It has been about four years since I signed up for the All About Romance forums, but they never validate anyone’s accounts. I read there because I can’t post there, but it’s just the same handful of old-timers talking themselves in circles. A little clique because there are no new members. The focus is very much on historical romance, too, so the discussions are limited at best.

I have been subscribing to RT Magazine for a few years, but my membership on their discussion forums is still apparently “being processed”. Not that those forums are very appealing; they’re extremely conservative, very US-focused and have very few new posts or interesting discussions (big surprise when they never validate people’s membership!).

I avoid Dear Author like the plague, and if you don’t know why, try Google. Also, I disagree with half of what they say, and with more than half of their reviews. Anyway, it’s a review site rather than a discussion board.

The only place that you can have a halfway decent discussion about romance fiction is at the Harlequin forums, but the problem there is it’s only for discussion about HARLEQUIN books.

It seems these days there is literally nowhere left to go to discuss books. I post reviews, and I know people read them, but a few years ago I’d have dozens if not hundreds of comments under a Goodreads review, and now there’s nothing there.

Where did everybody go? They are still buying books, but it seems everyone has stopped discussing them! So many combined author blogs have disappeared. Major historical romance blogs with NYT bestsellers have disappeared. Harlequin lines that used to have joint author blogs closed their sites.

So often these days I feel like I’m talking to myself, and what we really need is a good discussion forum for the genre. Not vicious, pretentious debates on review blogs like Dear Author, where you get shot down if your comment doesn’t read like a university thesis, and not a forum dedicated to a particular publisher, like the Harlequin forums.

If only people would revive Goodreads. I miss casual discussions about books.

Russians in Romance

The-Professionalby KresleyCole

Edit on 3rd of May: Since I posted this, Russians have hacked at least one of the sites I linked to. I’ll be optimistic and keep the links up just in case anything changes.

You know this current trend in the romance genre for books about “sexy” Russian criminals? It’s actually making me sick. I do think poorly of people who are seeking these books out and enjoying them, despite what Russians are currently doing to Ukrainians and other people in Eastern Europe.

The argument that it’s just a fantasy? Sorry, doesn’t cut it. It’s like saying, “Gee, I know Germany just invaded Poland and started killing the locals, but those Nazi bad boys are just so hot.”

Vladimir Putin Adolf Hitler

I’m very close to the situation in Ukraine. One of my family members is high up in the Ukrainian Catholic Church and has been conducting the funerals of Ukrainians murdered by the Russians. I was watching the live video feed the day the snipers came out and started slaughtering the people. I saw them die. I have relatives who were guarding the barricades in the capital city. I’ve stayed on the main square in Kyiv – the heart of this conflict – many times, including only a few months ago. One of the times – late at night – our building was investigated by those awful military police who were doing the killing. I just accidentally saw the crime scene photos of the latest Ukrainians who have been abducted, tortured and murdered by the Russians (in that picture, one of the victims is a well-known politician; the other is a teenage boy).

This torture and murder has been going on for months, and more and more people are disappearing.

And yes, I even have family in Russia. Of course they’re not all bad, but they are citizens of a country that runs entirely on misinformation and propaganda – and most of them believe it.

Russian soldiers invading Crimea Ukraine

Russian soldiers in Crimea in the early days of the invasion.

I know that when it comes to romance books all kinds of things get written off as ‘they’re just fantasies’. But this is one line I will judge people for crossing.

“Hot” is an odd way to describe the average man in today’s Russia. I’ve been to Russia multiple times – and not for the prettied-up, propaganda-laden tourist experiences most people see on their riverboat cruise. One of the times, our building was stormed by two jeep-loads of men with machine guns. The building is on Nevsky Prospekt, for God’s sake – the most famous and touristy street in the whole bloody country! A HUGE proportion of Russian men are drunks who beat their wives. They carry bottles of vodka and beer (at the same time!) around the streets at ten in the morning. They all chain smoke. Their life expectancy is lower than third world countries, due to the drinking, smoking, drug use and the rapidly-rising AIDS rate. I’ve personally witnessed more than one anti-gay parade.

And – get this – so many of them hate Westerners and have no qualms about saying it to your face.

What’s so sexy about that?!

Russia R.I.P. Ukraine Russian Propaganda

American Jounralist Reporting on Ukraine Abducted by Russians

That second tweet? It is from an American journalist, quoting a Russian, and shortly afterwards he was abducted by the Russians.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, almost without fail every time I post a picture of Ukraine or Ukrainians somewhere – my blog, Pinterest, Tumblr – I get Russians making stupid or even nasty comments on it, very often informing me all of Ukraine is Russia (funny, because Ukraine existed for centuries before Russia did!). I posted a picture of my ninety-one year old Ukrainian grandmother holding a little Ukrainian flag, and cruel things were said about her. My grandmother, who lost half her village to Russian gulags!

I’m sorry, but I’m just so over all the gushing Russian criminal romance book fans I come across on Goodreads and blogs and everywhere else. Vladimir Putin has turned his country into a cancer on the world, the Soviet Union take #2, and there’s a war on the horizon. I know, because I have family and friends who are going to be recalled to fight it.

I was telling the truth – this fad is making me sick.

Goodreads giveaway: Quantum Spirit – Apocalypse by Sallie Haws

Win one of ten autographed copies of Quantum Spirit – Apocalypse by Sallie Haws. Go to Goodreads to enter.

Quantum Spirit - Apocalypse by Sallie Haws

‘She’s gone!’ Katrina’s eyes were big as saucers. I guess she didn’t really believe that I would disappear because the colour had drained from her face as she stared wide-eyed and slack jawed at the centre of the circle. The others opened their eyes in awe. I felt the strength of the circle fluctuate with the drop in energy, and the vibrancy of the colours dimmed as the group’s anxiety increased causing the contraction of their auras.

Then I noticed the woman . . . ‘Hello, Salena,’ she greeted me with a smile.

‘My name is Amalya Gaian. Welcome to the Fifth Dimension.’”

Salena Hawthorne is coming of age in more ways than one. And, the changes she is experiencing go way beyond simple hormonal overload. When her “family gift” comes on with a vengeance, Salena has to learn how to channel her developing psychic abilities to stop a pandemic from wiping out millions of lives.

Her newfound gifts of reading auras and inter-dimensional travel give Salena more trouble than she is ready to handle. With the weight of several worlds on her shoulders, Salena will need to call on her family, the Society of the Silver Moon, her Spirit Guide, and a few other unexpected allies to take on the supernatural enemies that threaten their very existence.

Goodreads giveaway: Renegades by S.A. Mason

Enter HERE to win one of ten copies of Renegades (The Renegades Series #1) by S.A. Mason.

Renegades (The Renegades Series #1) by S.A. Mason

Elora Pertin spent her life trying to please her father, an esteemed General for the Empire.

When he convinced her to leave her quiet life as a scientist to advance a secret project for the Emperor, she had no idea what she was getting into. The seemingly innocent projects she engineered were actually being used to develop a genocidal weapon. After uncovering the Emperor’s plot, Elora had no choice but to act.

Elora finds herself fighting for her life against the Empire she once served, abandoning everything with only a handful of friends and an unlikely ally—the Emperor’s deadliest assassin. Will he prove himself true as her protector, a loyal servant of the Empire, or a romantic distraction? With the law and assassins searching the star system for them, Elora and her team are determined to accomplish their mission . . . or die trying.

Goodreads giveaway closing soon: Driftwood by Mandy Magro

Australian and New Zealand readers have until tomorrow to enter the Goodreads giveaway for Driftwood by Mandy Magro. You can win one of ten copies!

Driftwood by Mandy Magro

When the bushranger heritage of a family explodes into modern day, buried secrets are unearthed… with lasting consequences.

To Taylor Whitworth, knowing that she’ll never meet her deceased biological father is devastating. All she knows is he was a stockman, so she yearns to be like her father and to become a jillaroo. She packs her bags and hits the road, destination unknown, until she happens upon the country township of Driftwood.

Life-burdened Jay Cooper is a cowboy through and through, with his passion for the outback and bad boy image inherited from his forefathers. The whole town whispers about him but Jay doesn’t care. Except that his rough and tumble lifestyle is stopped dead in its tracks when he happens across Taylor on a deserted country road. And soon, their mutual love of horses begins a wonderful friendship that develops when Jay offers Taylor a job as a jillaroo on his cattle station.

Goodreads Giveaway: Stranded with the Tycoon by Sophie Pembroke

Head over to Goodreads and enter to win one of SEVEN signed copies of Stranded with the Tycoon by Sophie Pembroke.

Stranded with the Tycoon by Sophie Pembroke

The man who sees her beauty…

Ben Hampton is the last man in England that workaholic historian Luce would ever choose to be stranded with. Tall, dark and infuriatingly arrogant, he’s also a reminder of her not-so-glorious romantic history – something she’s spent the past few years burying herself in work to forget.

Hotel tycoon Ben knows there’s fire behind Luce’s buttoned-up exterior, and fanning its flames is an irresistible temptation. Luckily, getting snowbound in the countryside gives him the perfect opportunity to tempt out the real Lucinda Myles!

Goodreads Giveaway: Snowbound with the Soldier by Jennifer Faye

Head over to Goodreads and enter to win one of TEN autographed copies of Snowbound with the Soldier by Jennifer Faye.

Snowbound with the Soldier by Jennifer Faye

Maybe this Christmas…?  It has been seven long years since Kara Jameson last saw Jason Greene. Returning home as a wounded war hero, Jason looks a shell of the man she once knew. Yet her heart still skips a beat as if it was yesterday…. 

Stepping back into civilian life, Jason looks to Kara for help. But there’s too much water under the bridge—not to mention too much lingering attraction. 

But it seems that the mountain weather has other ideas, and when Kara and Jason end up snowbound together they are forced to confront the ghosts of Christmas past.

Go and read this

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Tori’s Mini Rant on Gifs in Reviews

Goodreads is being ruined by GIF-heavy reviews that do little more than annoy the bejesus out of most people. Often the top-rated “reviews “on that site are nothing more than a handful of GIFS or pictures with little – sometimes NO – words.

As the article above says, these are BOOK reviews – USE YOUR WORDS!!

Additionally, I’m so happy you think the lead character in a book looks like Mark Harmon or whoever, but please don’t put enormous pictures of him in your reviews. Apart from anything else, I don’t find these people remotely appealing, and you’re ruining the book for me!

Unfortunately, as with every other issue, the Goodreads administration couldn’t care less what users want (the “Feedback” section is a total waste of time) so unfortunately these wordless reviews are here to stay.

Doesn’t mean we can’t complain though!