Anzac Day

Military_cross_and_othersMilitary cross and bar, 1939-45 Star, Africa Star, Pacific Star, Defence Medal, 1939-45 War Medal and Australian Service Medal 1939-45 (L-R) - Australian War Mem

X

Today is Anzac Day, Australia and New Zealand’s major day to recognise the military. Australia’s national service takes place at the War Memorial here in Canberra, and we often go to visit the museum afterwards (my father is a veteran).

Of course, this year is a significant one, as it is a hundred years since the First World War ended.

This year is also significant in Australia, as in Canberra and a number of other cities women veterans will be marching together. Why? Because in recent years they have been suffering abuse from strangers who accuse them of wearing their father’s medals – apparently many people still refuse to believe women can serve!

The Week: 12th – 18th March

IMG_20180312_180445_236 Sonya Heaney Oksana 12th March 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra Australian Army Australian Armed Forces ANZAC Parade Parliament House

View from the Australian War Memorial in Canberra on Monday afternoon.

Australian Parliament from the back of the car yesterday afternoon (I had to dodge heads and arms etc. to take the picture!).

Canberra Australia Sunset Autumn Tuggeranong Sonya Heaney 15th March 2018 March Garden Sky Nature

Thursday Sunset

This week began with a public holiday in Canberra. It was such a gorgeous long weekend, and the temperatures are still into the thirties even though the autumn colours are coming out.

This week marked the fourth anniversary of the sham referendum Putin forced on Crimea. In the picture above, Russian Special Forces soldiers in unmarked outfits (at this time they were pretending they weren’t Russian) stand in front of a Ukrainian military base in Crimea during the takeover.

The West basically did NOTHING, and only now are people getting upset with Russia because of the recent assassination attempts and assassinations in Britain.

My reading has fallen even more behind than a week or two ago, so I’m a little short on reviews at the moment. I haven’t read much historical fiction for a few weeks, but recent news about the next Lisa Kleypas book has got me picking up some old favourites.

Happy St Patrick’s Day

Irish Reads

‘Women are having different fantasies’: romantic fiction in the age of Trump

Women's_March_on_Washington_(32593123745) 21 January 2017 Trump Feminism

From the Shadows

IMG_20180312_175648_151 From the Shadows Special Forces Exhibition Sonya Heaney Oksana 12th March 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra Australian Army Australian Armed Forces

On this day: a Ballet Premiere

michac3abl-denard-james-et-ghislaine-thesmar-la-sylphide-entourc3a9s-des-c2ab-filles-de-l_air-c2bb-lors-du-tournage-du-ballet-en-1971-c2a9-francette-levieux-onp

From the Shadows

The Australian War Memorial here in Canberra, (which is actually a big military museum, not just a “memorial”), currently has an exhibition about the Special Forces: From the Shadows. As Monday was a public holiday we thought we’d better go and see it before we forget and it closes!

When we arrived, the brand new Army recruits were on a visit from Kapooka, and lined up outside for a group photograph.

The first two images are from the Special Forces part. The third is from the Vietnam War section of the building (my father is a veteran, and there are exhibits dedicated specifically to where he lived in Vietnam, and to a major battle he fought).

The fourth photograph is the view down ANZAC Parade from the War Memorial entrance. You can’t see it, but at the end of the road is Lake Burley Griffin, and then Australian Parliament is in the background.

ANZAC Parade is the street where people honour Australia’s military, and where parades happen. Both sides of the street are lined with monuments to military events (e.g. the First and Second World Wars, Vietnam, and beyond).

Look at the spectacular blue sky! According to the national news, it was cloudy and raining in Canberra. Uh…

IMG_20180312_175846_799 From the Shadows Special Forces Exhibition Sonya Heaney Oksana 12th March 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra Australian Army Australian Armed Forces

IMG_20180312_180202_131 Vietnam War Sonya Heaney Oksana 12th March 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra Australian Army Australian Armed Forces

IMG_20180312_180445_236 Sonya Heaney Oksana 12th March 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra Australian Army Australian Armed Forces ANZAC Parade Parliament House

100 Years Ago

allenby_enters_jerusalem_1917general-sir-edmund-allenby-entering-the-holy-city-of-jerusalem-on-foot-1917-to-show-respect-for-the-holy-place-first-world-war-one

Following the surrender of the Ottoman Empire two days earlier, Britain’s General Sir Edmund Allenby entered Jerusalem on the 11th of December, 1917.

Described as a Christmas present to the British people, this event saw the city come under Christian rule for the first time in centuries.

Allenby entered the city on foot as a sign of respect to the holy place.

The Turkish surrender came during the Battle of Jerusalem that began in mid-November.

100 Years Ago

ottoman_surrender_of_jerusalem_restored-ottoman-empire-pows-of-world-war-i-in-jerusalem-ottoman-palestine-1917-mayor-of-jerusalem-hussein-effendi-el-husseini-al-husseini-meeting-

The Ottoman Empire surrendered Jerusalem to British rule on the 9th of December, 1917.

The surrender came during the Battle of Jerusalem, which was fought from the 17th of November. The battle saw the combined forces of Britain, Australia, India and New Zealand defeat the Ottoman (Turkish) and German Empires.

The image shows the Ottoman mayor of Jerusalem and Ottoman prisoners of war meeting British representatives under the white flag of surrender.

Anzac Day – Recommended Reads

Vietnam War Memorial Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 30th May 2015

Me on Anzac Parade, the huge, memorial-lined road that leads up to the museum.

Today is Anzac Day, Australia and new Zealand’s biggest day for our war veterans. The national ceremony at the Australian War Memorial here in Canberra is televised, and before that there’s a dawn service (which I have never been to, despite coming from a family of veterans, but I always hear the neighbours getting up at about 4am!).

hall-of-remembrance-australian-war-memorial-canberra-australia-anzac-day-25th-april-2015-sonya-heaney-oksana-heaney

We usually drop by the War Memorial a little later in the day and spend some time at the Vietnam War section.

I was trying to think of romance and suspense reads that involve Australian military or veterans, and came up with a few authors.

Hélène Young writes suspense books with some romance, and featuring Australian military characters.

Shattered-Sky-Front-Cover1-190x300

Barbara Hannay’s The Secret Years is set half in the Second World War and half in the present, and I really enjoyed it. The woman in the WW2 part is posted to the consulate in Canberra.

The Secret Years by Barbara Hannay

Sarah Mayberry has a really good book about a female veteran.

More Than One Night by Sarah Mayberry

Joan Kilby’s Protecting her Son involves an Australian Special Forces veteran, and has a scene at the end set at the War Memorial above!

Protecting Her Son

Fiona Greene’s Home For Christmas – well, the cover and title tell you what you need to know!

Home For Christmas by Fiona Greene

Karly Lane writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction, with some themes involving veterans.

tallowood-bound-by-karly-lane

And, for Kiwi veteran heroes, there is Karina Bliss’ New Zealand Special Forces series, beginning with Here Comes the Groom.

here-comes-the-groom-by-karina-bliss

The Week: 26th September – 2nd October

queanbeyan-nsw-30th-september-2016-sonya-heaney-sky-storm-clouds-nature

Stormy sky on the way home from Queanbeyan, NSW on Friday afternoon.

We had a public holiday on Monday, and I went out to the pub on Friday, so this seemed like a very short week! We have ANOTHER holiday this coming Monday, too!

I spent the public holiday visiting the Australian War Memorial, and then the Kingston Foreshore. It was a nice (if windy) day, but then the craziness started. South Australia had this freak storm, and the entire state lost power – South Australia is 1.5 times the size of Texas. The tail end of the storm reached us a couple of days later, which meant our Floriade spring festival and night festival had to be closed for a couple of days.

This time last year I was in full summer dress!

Congratulations to my cousin, who danced her final National Irish Dance Championships yesterday, held in Hobart this year.

This article disgusts me. Having been to school through the early John Howard years, where public education was stripped and stripped and stripped of money, to the point they couldn’t even afford to maintain the toilets, and all our textbooks were fifteen years out of date hand-me-downs from the private schools… I’m so angry about this:

Some private schools receive nearly three times the funding they are entitled to

In other countries it’s illegal to use government funding for private education!

That’s my rant for the week!

Australian War Memorial Canberra

victoria-cross-winners-uniforms-australian-war-memorial-canberra-26th-septermber-2016-sonya-oksana-heaney-military-sas

Lisa Kleypas’ Upcoming Book

Devil in Spring (2017) (The third book in the Ravenels series) A novel by Lisa Kleypas

The thirty-second anniversary of…

Ghost of a Chance by Jayne Ann Krentz

My review of Dark Fancy (Noble Passions #1) by Sabrina York

dark-fancy-noble-passions-1-by-sabrina-york

My review of A Fabrication of the Truth by Katie Kaleski

a-fabrication-of-the-truth-by-katie-kaleski

Elizabeth Gaskell’s Birthday

1832 portrait of English writer and biographer Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-65)

Australian War Memorial Canberra

(I’m copying this from my other blog, because I read and review a lot of military-themed books. Check out the Australian Special Forces uniforms!)

We had a public holiday yesterday. I think it used to be the Melbourne Cup holiday, but the ACT Government moved it and renamed it. Whatever it is, it’s just an excuse to not go to work!

I went with my parents to the Australian War Memorial here in Canberra, which – despite being called a “memorial” – is actually a huge war museum to rival those anywhere else in the world.

The first picture is of some of the Victoria Cross soldiers’ uniforms. The one on the left belongs to giant SAS Special Forces soldier Ben Roberts-Smith (or HERE). I had to get a blurry photo just because it’s so huge (he is nearly 6’7″, which is massive for a Special Forces soldier)!

It was SO crowded yesterday, with a gazillion tour bus-loads of visitors. It’s interesting watching people who have never been there before. There were actually people who were walking around crying, that’s how moved they were.

My father is a war veteran, so we occasionally drop by and just look at a couple of things (usually things involving the Vietnam War) and then go for a glass of wine! It’s free, so it’s easy to do. However, this is the first time I’ve been where they had a teeny bit of security at the entrance.

The main reason we went is because Mephisto, a World War One tank, is on loan to the museum at the moment, and we hadn’t seen it before.

What’s really upsetting is that at the entrance there’s a boat from the Gallipoli landings, and every time we go there, everyone is running their hands all over it, despite being told not to. It’s astonishing how disrespectful people can be to such important historical pieces.

victoria-cross-winners-uniforms-australian-war-memorial-canberra-26th-septermber-2016-sonya-oksana-heaney-military-sas

australian-war-memorial-canberra-26th-septermber-2016-sonya-oksana-heaney-military-outside

australian-war-memorial-canberra-26th-septermber-2016-sonya-oksana-heaney-military-mephisto-1-tank

australian-war-memorial-canberra-26th-septermber-2016-sonya-oksana-heaney-military-tank-mephisto-2

Running out of ideas for reprehensible romance heroes?

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is pictured in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang April 10, 2014. REUTERS/KCNA (NORTH KOREA - Tags: POLITICS PROFILE HEADSHOT) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA - RTR3KO8S

I sort of lost it a bit on another romance blog the other night. I reached my limit of tolerance for the wilfully ignorant and irresponsible trends favoured by both romance writers and readers at the moment, and said something I knew I would regret in the morning!

But eh, it’s said now.

I’ve seen it discussed in a few places recently (also, I’ve discussed it) that too many romance authors couldn’t really care less about the realities of whatever ethnicity or nationality they give their characters, and that these people are interchangeable. Hence your category romances where the Russian is the Sheikh is the Greek tycoon is the Italian stallion (by the way, did you know Sylvester Stallone is part Ukrainian – weird, huh!).

I think this is why there is so much insensitivity in dealing with major social issues and major world issues in so many books. Nobody bothers to care.

If you want the world to take the romance genre seriously, then you have to take the world seriously!

“Orthodox or Death”. Russian militants in Ukraine versus Islamic extremists in the Middle East.

Russian militant (left) and arms dealer romance heroes are SO 2009! How about romantic Islamic State heroes for a change?!

Yep, I’ve gone on about this before, and just because I bet you’re not sick of it yet (ha!) I have a post about misogyny in the genre coming up soon. Pencil it into your diaries, folks! You don’t get Man Candy posts on this romance blog! Well, not unless you get turned on by Kim Jong-un…

The Master by Kresley Cole

Three things that are totally IN when it comes to romance fiction at the moment seem to be misogynistic heroes, criminal heroes and heroes who work for murderous regimes.

And I can TOTALLY see why men in that third category are considered sexy by US readers in particular. Because you know, these people just love America so much:

Neo #Nazi forum in Saint Petersburg #Russia March 2015391871_us%20-russia-flagA customer wipes his feet on America’s flag as he enters a Moscow supermarket.

Saint Petersburg in March. And US flag doormats at a shopping centre in Moscow at the moment. X

And it’s that last one I’m addressing here, because, authors!

Boy DO I EVER have some story ideas for you!

The Russian's Ultimatum by Michelle Smart

Nobody can get enough of Russian billionaires. It’s a real turn-on to fantasise about sex with the very men financing the invasions of their neighbouring countries AND terrorism in the Middle East. There’s a reason for all those worldwide sanctions!

EU Sanctions Against Russia over UkraineStalinist Parade in Moscow 2014

Moscow last year.

But you know where else you can find billionaires backing Stalinist regimes?

North Korea!

File photo of a parade to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang

Where are all the sexy North Korean billionaire romances?? Authors: you could be writing these!

Oceans of Fire by Christine FeehanTurbulent Sea by Christine Feehan

The Russian spy is definitely all the rage, and has been for ages. You know what other dictatorship has lots of spies doing bad things?

You guessed it: North Korea again! It’s an untapped market of sexy operatives!

North Korea Court 2

But really, there are so many unused KGB/Kremlin potential plotlines authors haven’t given to their spy romance heroes, you don’t even need to leave Moscow just yet.

Like the sexy spies who poison other world leaders when they don’t agree with Putin:

Viktor Yushchenko

(Made it small, because seeing what happened to him upsets me.)

And the oh-so romantic spies who torture and drown Ukrainian teenagers:

19 year old Ukrainian student Yury Popravko. Tortured and drowned by Russians.

R.I.P. Yury Popravko

And the spies who execute opposition leaders in the middle of Red Square:

RUSSIA-POLITICS-MURDER-OPPOSITION-NEMTSOV

I can totally see why so many people write and read romance books about these guys…

Now, we have all those other sexy guys with guns from these shady regimes. The military guys.

#Russian terrorists in #Ukraine. 5th April 2015.

Russian militant in Ukraine a few weeks ago.

Those militants and arms dealers romance writers tell us are swoon-worthy? Apart from the millions of refugees in Ukraine:

refugees1

There’s another country where right now a militant regime has created millions of refugees: Syria!

The Syrian terrorist romance market is totally underused.

TOPSHOTS-SYRIA-CONFLICT

And, finally, speaking of terrorists operating from and for the Kremlin:

Religious extremists in Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine

“Orthodox or Death” Christian terrorists. They also drive tanks with “Orthodox Jihad” written on them…

Well, the world just has an endless supply of terrorists – no need to limit yourself to the former USSR. Gosh darn it, but romance writers are ignoring the poor guys in other parts of the world when they’re creating their romance heroes! How about jihadists in other places? The Taliban? ISIS? Where are these books and why is nobody writing them?

ISIS jihadists flying the black flag in Syria [REUTERS]

As you can see, I’m a little over deliberate, selective ignorance of real world events in the romance community in order to romanticise things that should NEVER be sanitised. Take some responsibility when choosing your romance heroes!