The Week: 25th February – 3rd March

One of the cockatoos who lives in the front garden, coming to investigate the other birds on the back deck on Wednesday morning.

Australian Raven Bird Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 25th February 2019 2

A raven trying to steal my plastic container at lunchtime on Monday – caught in the act!

Argh! How is it already autumn?! We’re still having temperatures in the low to mid-thirties in Canberra (in the nineties, if you measure in Fahrenheit), but the leaves are starting to change.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Melbourne Production

My review of Lady Notorious (The Royal Rewards #4) by Theresa Romain

SYTYCW Blog: “Banish stylistic clichés!”

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Melbourne Production

After a few weeks of previews, the red carpet was rolled out in Melbourne over the weekend for the Australian premiere of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which focuses on Harry, Ginny, Ron and Heroine as adults. It’s receiving rave reviews.

Terrifying, mesmerising, magical: Harry Potter lives up to the hype

I’ve been following the show’s development for months, because two of its stars are childhood friends from Canberra.

The Potters Harry (Gareth Reeves), Ginny (Lucy Goleby of Canberra) and Albus (Sean Rees-Wemyss). Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Melbourne Production

The Potters

Lucy Goleby, who plays Ginny, was a close friend of my brother’s growing up, and her older sister was one of my best friends in primary school. And “Hagrid” – Soren Jensen – was in my class at school from when I was twelve onwards (and his younger brother was in the same class as my brother). What a funny little world we live in!

We’re all a bit too old to say we grew up with Harry Potter; I was about to graduate from high school when the first book came out, and back then the series was very squarely aimed at young kids.

The show was first staged in the West End in London in 2016, and then moved to Broadway last year, and has won a mountain of Olivier and Tony Awards.

The Week: 26th June – 2nd July

Saturday evening in Canberra. We had literally just sat down at the new Hawaiian restaurant when we were evacuated because of a smoke alarm! I think there were four fire engines that came.

Walt and Burley Sunday Afternoon 25th June 2017 Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Oksana SUnset

Poachers Pantry Hall near Canberra Australia Sheep Farm Nature Sonya Heaney 25th June 2017

The end of last week: lunch in the country (weird sheep!), and after that drinks next to the lake in Canberra.

We have something of a sulphur-crested cockatoo plague here!

Happy 101st birthday to Olivia de Havilland for yesterday. Perhaps best known for Gone With the Wind, she did a lot more than that over her long career.

Fascinating story about the discovery and restoration of Australia’s first flag.

This week, charges were FINALLY brought against Cardinal George Pell. An Australian, and one of the most powerful men in the Vatican, he has been making news headlines here for years. The levels of victim-blaming have been staggering, and some of the conservative media spokespeople ought to be ashamed of themselves.

And – the less said about Trump’s latest Twitter attacks (the lowest he’s ever sunk?), the better.

Speaking of Christmas books already appearing for review, I read my first of the year this week.

New Cover for Anne Gracie

R.I.P. Michael Bond

Twenty Years of Harry Potter

Twenty Years of Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling

Yes, I’m a day late (it was first published on the 26th of June), but it is the twentieth anniversary of Harry Potter.

I was at the end of my schooling when Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone came out. So, I wasn’t exactly thrilled by a book craze about a little wizard boy and his magic wand, complete with cutesy illustrated covers.

I moved to London shortly afterwards, and was watching live on television when the casting for the first movie was announced. However, it was also the time the first Lord of the Rings movie was released, and I was accidentally in Leicester Square the evening of the world premiere (which meant I got to watch all the red carpet arrivals, even though half of them weren’t famous yet – Orlando Bloom? Viggo Mortensen? Who’re they?!).

The media in England set up a fan war between the two franchises, with plenty of British newspapers printing long lists of “evidence” J. K. Rowling plagiarised J. R. R. Tolkien. I believed it at the time; not anymore.

Eventually, my boss made a deal with me: she’d read my Lord of the Rings books if I gave Harry Potter a chance. I was about twenty, and not that interested, but in the end I did actually enjoy them (though I never finished the series).

Viktor Krum Harry Potter Movies

My favourite character was that Bulgarian (? – Hungarian?) wizard guy who was Hermione’s boyfriend for about three seconds. I wanted them to end up together!

My boss HATED The Lord of the Rings (I don’t really blame her); she couldn’t get past the first twenty-thousand pages describing all the Hobbits. I didn’t hold it against her that she didn’t finish.

So, I’m no Harry Potter fangirl, but this was definitely an important Book-World anniversary to mark. We need another quality book franchise for the next generation. Maybe next time everyone won’t be raging misogynists and will let the female author publish under her real – feminine – name.

How about some misogyny with that review?

Outlander 1x06 The Garrison Commander Claire Ending Sonya Heaney Sceenshot

I have a question: if Joanne Rowling had published a book with a young witch name Hermione Granger as her protagonist, would it have been the massive global success J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter was?

I’m going to take a guess and say NO.

The reason I got to thinking about this recently was because of Diana Gabaldon’s book, Outlander. Now a popular television adaptation exists of course more people are hearing about the story and picking up the book.

Now, I’m not the series’ biggest fan, nor do I think much of Herself (as the obsessive fans refer to the author). In fact, the reason I was reading Outlander reviews was because I was interested to see what new readers thought of the spousal abuse – which will be coming up in the television version right after the mid-year break.

Fans will defend the abuse in this book to the death, and – yes – it infuriates me.

However, there’s a difference between picking at the major flaws in Gabaldon’s work, and being a misogynist because you think it makes you look smarter than those silly women.

I’m not sure why so many men (and some women) think it’s okay to pick up something written by a woman and/or with a female protagonist with the intention of insulting it. You can dislike Outlander all you want, but to review the book by saying, “This is the most stupid thing I’ve ever read! I think I lost IQ points reading it! It’s the kind of thing women will like!”…

…You see my problem?

Just before the television version started, I read an article that essentially said men are conditioned to expect to see themselves as the star and hero of every story. They’re conditioned to think something isn’t interesting unless a man is at the star of it, and they’re conditioned to immediately dislike something if a woman wrote it (unless they’re tricked into it a la Harry Potter).

And you know what? I’m so, so tired of it. I’m so tired of anything a woman does being, “It’s just chick lit! Why didn’t anybody tell me this was a woman’s thing! It’s so stupid!”

I’m sorry guys, but misogyny doesn’t cut it in the 21st century. Or at least it shouldn’t.