National Dog Day

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Tomorrow is National Dog Day.

The Other Side of Us by Sarah Mayberry

I was going to recommend some books with dogs as secondary characters, but then I realised just HOW many there are!

The Spring Bride (Chance Sisters #3) by Anne Gracie

From companion dogs in books like Bronwyn Parry’s As Darkness Falls, to goofy dogs like in Jill Shalvis’ Simply Irresistible, to rescued dogs like in Anne Gracie’s The Spring Bride, to the dogs that bring a couple together in Sarah Mayberry’s The Other Side of Us, to the gazillion Harlequin/Mills and Boon category romances with dogs on the covers, they’re everywhere!

 

The Week: 27th November – 3rd December

Canberra Australia Last Day of Spring Flowers Purple Garden Nature Blue Sky Sonya Heaney 30th November 2017

The last day of spring in Canberra.

I should have a Christmas tree picture to put up by now, but this week has been all packing boxes and people moving, so I’m going to do it on Monday instead.

I’ll say this about what’s coming out of America and the Russia investigation: Should’ve listened to Ukrainians years ago, should’ve listened to Ukrainians years ago, should’ve listened to Ukrainians years ago, should’ve listened to Ukrainians years ago!

This Trump corruption was about lifting sanctions on Russia. Those sanctions are in place because Russia has invaded and occupied Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova. They are STILL invading Ukraine, killing thousands upon thousands along the way.

Those sanctions are meant to stop Russia killing more Ukrainians and Russian dissenters. And Trump supporters are fine with those deaths. This investigation is FAR more than just America.

My review of A Good Day to Marry a Duke by Betina Krahn

A Good Day to Marry a Duke by Betina Krahn

Movie Trailer for Jill Shalvis

The Trouble With Mistletoe (Heartbreaker Bay #2) by Jill Shalvis

Summer Reads

Whisper Falls by Toni Blake

Christmas Book Craft

Santa. Christmas Book Folding Pattern.

 

 

 

 

The Week: 13th – 19th November

Spring Sunset Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 12th November 2017 Sky Clouds Nature

Spring sunset in Canberra.

Spring Bottlebrush Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Garden Blue Sky Sunny Afternoon 14th November 2017 Flowers Nature

The bottlebrush is out!

The day after the gay marriage vote Canberra 74% Sonya Heaney Parliament House Australia 16th November 2017

The road to Australian Parliament the day after the gay marriage results were announced.

Hailstorm Canberra Australia 17th November 2017 Sonya Heaney Spring Weather Nature

Our brief, freak storm on Friday afternoon.

Australian Same Sex Marriage Australian Capital Territory Canberra Highest YES Vote

After millions upon millions of dollars wasted on a useless survey by our stalling conservative government, the results of the “gay marriage survey” were released on Wednesday.

As expected, my home – the ACT – voted YES with BY FAR the highest percentage (but they stick us on the bottom of the chart). We have actually legalised gay marriage in Canberra before, but had it taken away from us by the High Court.

Movie Adaptation for Jill Shalvis

The Trouble With Mistletoe (Heartbreaker Bay #2) by Jill Shalvis

My review of Someone to Wed (Westcott #3) by Mary Balogh

Someone to Wed (Westcott #3) by Mary Balogh

My review of A Daring Arrangement (The Four Hundred Book #1) by Joanna Shupe

A Daring Arrangement (The Four Hundred Book #1) by Joanna Shupe

A bit of history…

1903 horse party Gilded Age New York -billingspartythey found the grand Rocco ballroom decorated as a woodland garden, with trees and shrubbery.The guests mounted well-trained rented hor

The End of Heroes and Heartbreakers

mast_logo Heroes and Heartbreakers

Important News

Hello Stranger Lisa Kleypas

Movie Adaptation for Jill Shalvis

The Trouble With Mistletoe (Heartbreaker Bay #2) by Jill Shalvis

If you haven’t already heard, Jill Shalvis’ The Trouble With Mistletoe has been made into a movie.

I love Shalvis’ writing, and her books would work well as on the screen. I haven’t read this one, so don’t have an opinion on the cast, but here they are.

Here is the blurb for the book version:

If she has her way…

Willa Davis is wrangling puppies when Keane Winters stalks into her pet shop with frustration in his chocolate-brown eyes and a pink bedazzled cat carrier in his hand. He needs a kitty sitter, stat. But the last thing Willa needs is to rescue a guy who doesn’t even remember her…

…He’ll get nothing but coal in his stocking.

Saddled with his great-aunt’s Feline from Hell, Keane is desperate to leave her in someone else’s capable hands. But in spite of the fact that he’s sure he’s never seen the drop-dead gorgeous pet shop owner before, she seems to be mad at him…

Unless he tempers “naughty” with a special kind of nice…

Willa can’t deny that Keane’s changed since high school: he’s less arrogant, for one thing—but he doesn’t even remember her. How can she trust him not to break her heart again? It’s time to throw a coin in the fountain, make a Christmas wish–and let the mistletoe do its work…

Contemporary Romance for Christmas

This is not a comprehensive list, or even an original one.

I tend to recommend the same handful of books every Christmas, but if you’re looking for a contemporary romance for Christmas, here are a few suggestions.

The Way Home by Cindy Gerard

Review

The Way Home by Cindy Gerard

A Virgin River Christmas by Robyn Carr

A Virgin River Christmas by Robyn Carr

A Kirribilli Christmas by Louise Reynolds

Review

Christmas Reads A Kirribilli Christmas by Louise Reynolds

Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis

Review

Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis

 Holiday Sparks by Shannon Stacey

Holiday Sparks by Shannon Stacey

A Cowboy for Christmas by Lori Wilde

Review

A Cowboy for Christmas by Lori Wilde

Bringing Maddie Home by Janice Kay Johnson

Review

Bringing Maddie Home by Janice Kay Johnson

Christmas in Cold Creek by RaeAnne Thayne

Review

Christmas in Cold Creek by RaeAnne Thayne

My Kind of Christmas by Robyn Carr

Review

My Kind of Christmas by Robyn Carr

Kentucky Christmas by Sarah Title

Review

Kentucky Christmas by Sarah Title

A Cold Creek Christmas Surprise by RaeAnne Thayne

Review

A Cold Creek Christmas Surprise by RaeAnne Thayne

Christmas Reads: Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis

Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis

Reviewed HERE

Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis

Maddie Moore’s whole life needs a makeover.

In one fell swoop, Maddie loses her boyfriend (her decision) and her job (so not her decision). But rather than drowning her sorrows in bags of potato chips, Maddie leaves L.A. to claim the inheritance left by her free-spirited mother-a ramshackle inn nestled in the little coastal town of Lucky Harbor, Washington.

Starting over won’t be easy. Yet Maddie sees the potential for a new home and a new career-if only she can convince her two half-sisters to join her in the adventure. But convincing Tara and Chloe will be difficult because the inn needs a big makeover too.

The contractor Maddie hires is a tall, dark-haired hottie whose eyes-and mouth-are making it hard for her to remember that she’s sworn off men. Even harder will be Maddie’s struggles to overcome the past, though she’s about to discover that there’s no better place to call home than Lucky Harbor.

Where are the Women?

Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis

Recently I was catching up with RT Magazine (having missed a few issues while travelling in Europe) and I came across an interview with an author whose work I happen to have a lot of respect for: Jill Shalvis. She was discussing her Lucky Harbor series, and after saying some things I agree with (like making sure all the books work as standalones), she said something that annoyed me:

 

“So yes, you do occasionally see Maddie, Tara and Chloe, but just cameos. The focus isn’t on them or their story. And, actually, you’re far more likely to see the guys: Jax, Ford and Sawyer. I just love them more, as unfair as that might seem.”

 

Now, why did it annoy me so much?

Firstly, because what I took away from the original trilogy (the only books in the series I’ve read so far) was that this was a series about women. About strong female friendships. About women with different interests and totally different personalities still loving and respecting each other. It was by far the strongest element of the books.

Secondly, because in a genre that’s supposed to celebrate women and their achievements, all too often female characters are overlooked in favour of constant scenes involving “hot guys”. And I thought Shalvis was above that.

Perhaps it’s an overreaction, but the comment disappointed me so much.

A common complaint about J.R. Ward’s oh-so popular Black Dagger Brotherhood series is that the women more or less cease to exist once they’ve had their happy ending. You see the male characters everywhere, but the women apparently just sit in their rooms and act like sex dolls when their guy is feeling horny.

In almost all Young Adult and New Adult fiction, the heroine is either a loner in a sea of “hot boys” or she has that one best friend and all the other girls are skanks and sluts and bitches (Beautiful Disaster and Walking Disaster, I’m looking at you!) .

Women are treated as the enemy in romantic fiction, which is such a bizarre approach to a genre that is supposed to be catering to women. I thought we were smart enough to be able to appreciate the male characters without doing away with the women.

I’m just so disappointed. Because a series I enjoyed so much now feels tainted. Books I thought were – at their heart – about female relationships…

Turns out they’re about the “hot guys”.

Turn Up the Heat by Kimberly Kincaid

Turn Up the Heat by Kimberly Kincaid

“It’s not you.”

 

There are only so many times a girl can hear those words before she believes that it is, in fact, very much her. Unexpectedly jilted by her locally famous boyfriend and haunted by a boss who makes Attila the Hun look like a lap dog, Bellamy Blake does what any self-respecting girl in her shoes would do. She rounds up her two best girlfriends and makes plans to get the hell out of Dodge.  .  .

 

But Bellamy’s escape plan takes a nose dive on the side of rural route 164 when her transmission self-destructs, leaving her in the middle of a cell phone dead zone with nothing but her wits. Oh, and Shane Griffin, the hottest mechanic who’s ever checked under her hood.

 

Yet this small-town man isn’t all he seems. Can Shane and Bellamy prove that sometimes the most unlikely ingredients make the most deliciously sexy mix?

Turn Up the Heat by Kimberly Kincaid

You know when you see a bestselling author’s comment on the cover of someone else’s book and you (or, at least I do!) think shameless marketing ploy? And then you also (or, at least I do!) think I bet the author hasn’t even read it?

That’s what I did when I saw Jill Shalvis’ name attached to the words on the cover of Turn Up the Heat. Yes, I still requested the book, because I need to get back to reading more contemporaries, but I went in a little uncertain.

However, for once the comparisons are pretty accurate. This is a fun, fast-moving contemporary romance. If you like Jill Shalvis, you’ll enjoy Kimberly Kincaid.

I’m not trying to say they’re exactly the same, but the tone and style and oh-so contemporary feel of the characters makes for a similar sort of read. This is a good thing; we need more authors of contemporary romance who have ventured into the twenty-first century! For a subgenre with ‘contemporary’ in its name, it can be surprisingly out-dated.

Turn Up the Heat is the kind of book you’d want to take with you on a holiday. With some misunderstandings, some sexy but sometimes silly characters and some depth beyond the façade, I’d happily pick up more from this author in the future.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 23rd – 29th December

World Record Christmas Lights Canberra Australia 21st December 2013 Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney

Canberra’s world record Christmas lights

Of course this was a big week. Christmas etc.! We’ve had more hot weather and I’ve had more food and champagne than I probably should have.

I’ve hardly read anything (by my standards; by normal standards I’ve read quite a bit!).

Christmas always seems to make me want to watch period dramas and read historical fiction. My latest favourite is Elizabeth Gaskell’s The Moorland Cottage – the inspiration for the Tom Hiddleston love story in the second Cranford series.

Don’t take your Christmas decorations down!

Millions don’t celebrate Christmas until the seventh of December!

My review of The Way Home by Cindy Gerard

The Way Home by Cindy Gerard

My review of Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis

Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis

My review of Happy New Year, Baby Fortune! by Leanne Banks

Happy New Year, Baby Fortune! by Leanne Banks

My review of Sweet Revenge by Rebecca Zanetti

Sweet Revenge (Sins Brothers, #2) by Rebecca Zanetti