The Week: 8th – 14th October

Sunny spring days in Canberra.

This week started out gorgeous, had some weird weather in the middle, and involved a trip to the city to pick up my passport for my next trip!

Plus, there was a gorgeous (and very sweet) royal wedding to watch on Friday night (our time). I’m not into the royals usually, but this one…

How is October already half over? It’s nearly time to start thinking about Christmas!

Most of my posts this week were about sexual assault, and how the topic is handled (or dismissed in some quarters) in romance publishing. I’m utterly disgusted by recent events in the United States, and by how these things have an effect on women the world over.

Romance authors, misogyny, and conservative conversations about men.

Russian Orthodoxy – GONE!

China…

Books to Counter Kavanaugh – Easy by Tammara Webber

Books to Counter Kavanaugh – Breaking the Silence by Katie Allen

Books to Counter Kavanaugh – the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs

Books to Counter Kavanaugh – Breakable by Tammara Webber

Books to Counter Kavanaugh – Whispering Rock by Robyn Carr

Books to Counter Kavanaugh – Breakable by Tammara Webber

No, I’m not American, but the sexual harassment scandal surrounding Brett Kavanaugh – and the subsequent misogynistic victim-blaming movement emerging out of it – is reverberating around the world.

So, I’ve moved all my scheduled posts for the week, and instead will be recommending some books that deal with the reality of what women are up against when it comes to sexual harassment and assault.

Breakable by Tammara Webber

Breakable (Contours of the Heart, #2) by Tammara Webber

Breakable is a retelling of Easy. Here is the blurb for Easy:

When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup two months into sophomore year. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she’s single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former circle of friends, and failing a class for the first time in her life. Leaving a party alone, Jacqueline is assaulted by her ex’s frat brother. Rescued by a stranger who seems to be in the right place at the right time, she wants nothing more than to forget the attack and that night – but her savior, Lucas, sits on the back row of her econ class, sketching in a notebook and staring at her. Her friends nominate him to be the perfect rebound. When her attacker turns stalker, Jacqueline has a choice: crumple in defeat or learn to fight back. Lucas remains protective, but he’s hiding secrets of his own. Suddenly appearances are everything, and knowing who to trust is anything but easy.

Books to Counter Kavanaugh – Easy by Tammara Webber

No, I’m not American, but the sexual harassment scandal surrounding Brett Kavanaugh – and the subsequent misogynistic victim-blaming movement emerging out of it – is reverberating around the world.

So, I’ve moved all my scheduled posts for the week, and instead will be recommending some books that deal with the reality of what women are up against when it comes to sexual harassment and assault.

Firstly: Easy by Tammara Webber

Easy by Tammara Webber

When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup two months into sophomore year. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she’s single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former circle of friends, and failing a class for the first time in her life. Leaving a party alone, Jacqueline is assaulted by her ex’s frat brother. Rescued by a stranger who seems to be in the right place at the right time, she wants nothing more than to forget the attack and that night – but her savior, Lucas, sits on the back row of her econ class, sketching in a notebook and staring at her. Her friends nominate him to be the perfect rebound. When her attacker turns stalker, Jacqueline has a choice: crumple in defeat or learn to fight back. Lucas remains protective, but he’s hiding secrets of his own. Suddenly appearances are everything, and knowing who to trust is anything but easy.

 

International Cat Day

The 8th of August each year is International Cat Day.

Cats appear as side characters in plenty of books, from the companion of bookish heroine Amy in Toni Blake’s Willow Springs, to the kittens (and, later, grown cats) in Anne Gracie’s Chance Sisters series, to the stray that moves himself into Lucas Maxfield’s apartment in Easy and Breakable, to those in Beatrix Hathaway’s menagerie in Lisa Kleypas’ Love in the Afternoon.

So, celebrate the day with a book with cats in it!

By the way, the cats at the top are gorgeous stray Jemima, who moved herself into my late-grandmother’s shed in 2014, and two of her three kittens: grey scaredy cat Charlie, who was terrified of everything, and his smaller sister Pheobe, who looked after him (she’s hugging him!). It was lucky we found a home for the two kittens to go to together.

The Week: 7th – 13th May

Autumn Sunshine Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 9th May 2018 Blue Sky Autumn Colours Autumn Leaves Garden Nature.

Autumn in Canberra (this was taken mid-week).

Happy Mother’s Day to people in Australia and other countries where it is celebrated this weekend.

What a weird week. Since I posted last Sunday, a hundred crazy things have happened.

It started with the crazy car accident that nearly took us out at the end of last weekend (that’s not my picture – I wouldn’t have done that when we were busy pulling people from cars).

Then there was the #cockygate trademark drama.

Which was followed by the #rebelliongate trademark drama.

There was a truly horrific crime in Western Australia, where a grandfather murdered three generations of his family on a rural property. Some men’s groups responded by expressing sympathy FOR HIM.

Then there was another terror attack in Paris. For me, the scary thing about this one is I’ve stayed right in that spot four times, sometimes for months at a time.

Today there is a major military memorial event here in Canberra, but the weather has finally turned to autumn. We went from wearing summer dresses outside in the sun on Wednesday, to snow in the national park near us on Friday. I hope it doesn’t rain for this event! (Update: it was all blue skies and sunshine!)

I also blogged about a reread of Tammara Webber’s Breakable.

And posted some Star Wars book craft for the upcoming anniversary of the premiere that took place in the 1970s.

 

 

Reread: Breakable by Tammara Webber

My rereads of young adult and new adult books (this one is NA) continue with Breakable by Tammara Webber. This is a retelling of Easy, but from the hero’s point of view.

I reviewed it a few years ago. I do have some different feelings about it now, but it’s still pretty accurate.

Breakable (Contours of the Heart, #2) by Tammara Webber

Here is the blurb for Easy, which I think it a more accurate description of the book than the blurb for this one:

Easy by Tammara Webber

When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup two months into sophomore year. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she’s single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former circle of friends, and failing a class for the first time in her life. Leaving a party alone, Jacqueline is assaulted by her ex’s frat brother. Rescued by a stranger who seems to be in the right place at the right time, she wants nothing more than to forget the attack and that night – but her savior, Lucas, sits on the back row of her econ class, sketching in a notebook and staring at her. Her friends nominate him to be the perfect rebound. When her attacker turns stalker, Jacqueline has a choice: crumple in defeat or learn to fight back. Lucas remains protective, but he’s hiding secrets of his own. Suddenly appearances are everything, and knowing who to trust is anything but easy.

Return to Paradise (Leaving Paradise #2) by Simone Elkeles

Return to Paradise (Leaving Paradise #2) by Simone Elkeles

Caleb Becker left Paradise eight months ago, taking with him the secret he promised to take to his grave. If the truth got out, it would ruin everything.

Maggie Armstrong tried to be strong after Caleb broke her heart and disappeared. Somehow, she managed to move on. She’s determined to make a new life for herself.

But then Caleb and Maggie are forced together on a summer trip. They try ignoring their passion for each other, but buried feelings resurface. Caleb must face the truth about the night of Maggie’s accident, or the secret that destroyed their relationship will forever stand between them.

Return to Paradise (Leaving Paradise #2) by Simone Elkeles

While I think you could read this book on its own, I don’t think there’s any point in doing so without reading Leaving Paradise first. A follow-up to the open-ended drama of the excellent first book, this was a reread for me, and enough time had passed since my first time reading it that a lot of it felt brand new again.

WARNING: I am going to spoil the first book here, so if you’re interested in the series, you’d better not read the rest! Otherwise go back to my review of book one.

In the first book we see Caleb and Maggie return to school after a year away. Maggie has been in the hospital and in recovery after a serious accident where she was hit by a drunken driver. She is permanently injured by the crash. Caleb has been in prison for being that driver.

Only, it wasn’t Caleb who was driving the car – something we find out towards the end of the book. He took the blame to protect his twin sister (and Maggie’s former best friend) who was behind the wheel that night.

After being rejected by everyone, Caleb skipped town, and we pick up with him eight months later, arrested again for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In order to stay out of prison – and this time it would be full-on adult prison, not juvenile detention – the man working on his case offers him the chance to travel with a group of young people on a tour to talk to kids about the consequences of dangerous driving.

Maggie also happens to be part of this group, and this is where the real drama starts.

Some of the things that were left open-ended in book one are resolved here. The truth about Caleb finally comes out, just as it should. Maggie is NOT happy that Caleb took off on her not long after they became a couple, and it takes time for them to work through their issues.

Author Simone Elkeles knows how to write teen drama. She’s fantastic at it. As an adult reading her work it has an addictive quality, and I can only imagine how much teenaged me would have enjoyed these books.

While it is not as solid a read as book one, Return to Paradise is satisfying in a different way: we finally get justice for characters affected by things beyond their control.

Read these two as a pair.

Gold Rush by Jennifer Comeaux

Gold Rush by Jennifer Comeaux

Liza Petrov’s entire life has been about skating and winning her sport’s top prize – Olympic gold. She’s stayed sheltered inside her bubble, not daring to stray from her destined path.

Until she meets Braden Patrick.

He makes her heart flutter with possibility, and for the first time she gets a taste of a normal teenage life. She longs to have both the boy and the gold, but stepping outside her bubble comes with a price. As Liza begins to question both her future and her past, can she stay focused on the present and realize her ultimate dream?

Gold Rush by Jennifer Comeaux

This is a “young” new adult book about a Russian/American girl hoping for figure skating gold at the 2014 Olympics. By “young”, I mean it’s a sweet story (no sex, for example), and the heroine is believably sheltered because of the intense training she has been doing most of her life.

It seems this is the daughter of characters from the author’s earlier series, but that doesn’t matter – I haven’t read those other books yet, and you won’t need to either.

The best thing about Jennifer Comeaux’s writing is that she is a figure skating expert. The author knows *everything* about the sport, and it makes such a difference. I’ve read some other Winter Olympic-themed books recently, and it was great to see how much better Comeaux is at getting the sport right.

The love interest in Gold Rush is a little too perfect to be believable, and the ending is a little predictable, but this would make a great read for young adult fans who are inspired by the current Winter Games.

Must monsters always be male?

Cinderella Disney.

“No” evil women in fiction!

The Guardian recently ran what I consider to be a misguided article:

Must monsters always be male? Huge gender bias revealed in children’s books

Perhaps Donna Ferguson, the article’s author, has missed the fact the “evil stepmother” is a trope, but there’s no “evil stepfather”. Or that “evil, jealous sisters” feature in everything from ancient literature to children’s fairy tales.

How about all those young adult and new adult books where the mothers are all evil drunkards, the villains are always villainesses in the form of jealous blonde “popular girls”, and the most common heroine trope is the one who’s “not like other girls” and therefore has no female friends?

When I think of monsters, I think of Stalin and Hitler and Putin and Trump. I think of doctors who spend twenty years freely molesting hundreds of young gymnasts. I think of a man filling a hotel room with guns and mowing down a crowd in the space of minutes. Of all the gender biases in books, how can needing more female monsters possibly be the one that matters?

Adding more evil women to fiction, when what we need is to stop demonising women, is a step in the wrong – not the right – direction.

While the other points in the article – about the lack of female characters in starring roles, and the lack of female characters who speak – are important to address, I would say fiction is already misogynistic enough.

 

The Week: 29th January – 4th February

Wednesday summer sunset in Canberra

One of our (still fluffy!) young magpies hanging out on Friday afternoon.

Who Gets A Happily Ever After In 2018?

jemima-khan-impersonates-melania-trump-for-halloween-2016

My review of His Sinful Touch (The Mad Morelands #5) by Candace Camp

His Sinful Touch (The Mad Morelands #5) by Candace Camp

My review of Honor-Bound Lawman by Danica Favorite

Honor-Bound Lawman (Love Inspired Historical) by Danica Favorite

Rereading Tammara Webber

Easy by Tammara Webber

Formula One (finally!) gets rid of “grid girls”

Formula One Race Podium Melbourne Australia Sonya Oksana Heaney 20th March 2016 Lewis Hamilton Nico Rosberg Sebastian Vettel F1

For Chinese New Year

Chinese-themed Book Sculpture