The Week: 22nd – 28th August

Queanbeyan to Canberra Australia ACT border Sky Clouds Blue Sky Sonya Heaney Winter 26th August 2016

Gorgeous Friday afternoon. With a dirty windscreen!

Sonya Heaney Norcia Italy June 2016

Poor Italy – we were just saying the Norcia region was due for another earthquake.

When something terrible happens everyone has an “I’m connected to it” story. I was actually staying in Norcia, the epicentre of the earthquake, in June, and we drove through some of the towns that have been destroyed. The church above – in Norcia – has been damaged, and it is a very important church and allegedly the birthplace of Saint Benedict.

Bagan's temples were built between the 10th and 14th centuries

There was also a deadly earthquake in Myanmar (or Burma, depending on if you want to go with the dictatorship name or not!). The famous temples have been badly damaged, but this earthquake isn’t really making the news.

Pierce Brosnan Ukrainian Church London 22nd August 2016

Pierce Brosnan hanging out with Ukrainian activists in London at the start of the week. Tuesday was Ukraine’s national flag day, and Wednesday was Independence Day – a significant and sadly ironic holiday at the moment. We flew the flag in our house, but I was too busy to make it to the function at the embassy here in Canberra.:

Ukrainian Flag Day Tryzub Canberra Australia Sonya OKsana Heaney 23rd August 2016Ukrainian Flag Day Tryzub Canberra Australia Sonya OKsana Heaney 23rd August 2016DSC06712

Kalashnikov (as in the assault rifle manufacturer) now has a shop at the airport in Moscow.

Moscow airport shop sells model Kalashnikov guns

Call me crazy, but is this not the opposite of airport security?? WTF is going on in Putin’s Russia?

Currawong Canberra Australia 25th August 2016 Sonya Heaney DSC06725

In other news, all the birds here are going crazy, running around with twigs and getting ready for spring. Here’s the currawong, and the magpie, the two birds who hang around our front and back doors all day now! The magpie (below) stands beak-to-glass at the back half the day!

Magpie Canberra Australia 25th August 2016 DSC06735

What a poser!

Romance is Trashy, and Other Things You Need to Stop Saying.

Category Romance. No more home renovation. No more ageing parents going into homes. No more bakers. No more etc. etc. etc.

Coming Up for Patricia Briggs

31356099 Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson #10) by Patricia Briggs

My review of A Vow of Seduction: Hot Night in the Hamptons by Nana Malone and Seduced Before Sunrise by Jamie Pope

A Vow of Seduction Hot Night in the Hamptons by Nana Malone and Seduced Before Sunrise by Jamie Pope

The twenty-fourth anniversary of The Last of the Mohicans

film_lastofthemohicans

Cover Love

Our Own Country by Jodi Daynard

Coming Up for Patricia Briggs

I really love Patricia Briggs urban fantasy/paranormal romance books. True, the last instalment in the Mercy Thompson series was a little too heavy on the magic for me, but I still cannot wait for this new book.

With a release date currently set as the 9th of March 2017, we still have a bit of a wait for Silence Fallen.

I much prefer the second cover!

silence_fallen_layout.indd31356099 Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson #10) by Patricia Briggs

In the #1 New York Times bestselling Mercy Thompson novels, the coyote shapeshifter has found her voice in the werewolf pack. But when Mercy’s bond with the pack and her mate is broken, she’ll learn what it truly means to be alone…

Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe…

Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise…

So – how did they go?

 I have finished all of the books I listed or discussed as my most anticipated reads of 2016. It was never a comprehensive list, as I tend to read what comes up for review rather than keep track of favourite authors’ newer releases.

Now I have read all of those I mentioned either here or separately – was I disappointed? Not really. Even though I was excited about all of the books below, some I was aware were going to be a little bit of a let-down; it was the series rather than the individual book I was excited about.

There were some great reads, however.

Now, what books are being released in the second half of the year that I have forgotten all about?!

Review: Marrying Winterborne (Ravenels #2) by Lisa Kleypas

Marrying Winterborne (2016) by Lisa Kleypas

Review: Taking Fire (One-Eyed Jacks #4) by Cindy Gerard

Taking Fire (One-Eyed Jacks #4) by Cindy Gerard

Review: One with You (Crossfire #5) by Sylvia Day

One With You by Sylvia Day

Review: The Wicked Duke (Wicked Trilogy #3) by Madeline Hunter

The Wicked Duke (Wicked Trilogy #3) by Madeline Hunter

Review: The Summer Bride (Chance Sisters #4) by Anne Gracie

The Summer Bride (Chance Sisters book 4) by Anne Gracie

Review: Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9) by Patricia Briggs

Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9) by Patricia Briggs International Cover

Review: The Many Sins of Cris de Feaux (Lords of Disgrace #3) by Louise Allen

The Many Sins of Cris de Feaux (Lords of Disgrace #3) by Louise Allen UK Cover

Review: The Unexpected Marriage of Gabriel Stone (Lords of Disgrace #4) by Louise Allen

The Unexpected Marriage of Gabriel Stone (Lords of Disgrace #4) by Louise Allen mills and Boon Cover

The Week: 14th – 20th March

EDIT: Updated below the original post.

I will be in Melbourne, attending the Formula One Grand Prix when this post goes up. I might update when I get back!

Below is the view from the seats we have every year. It’s the podium at the end of the race.

Romance readers! Susan Mallery used the guy on the right as the inspiration for one of her heroes – even though she is from the only country in the world that doesn’t follow F1.

Sonya Heaney Formula One Melbourne 2012

We had some truly crazy weather  Melbourne, including wind so strong it destroyed buildings and made it impossible to go for a walk! And then we had an equally crazy Formula One race to see. Crashes and fires and restarts – a mess!

That thing on the left used to be a car:

alonso_crash_630_Melbourne 2016

Happy Canberra Day!

Enlighten Canberra Australia 12th March 2016 Sonya Heaney National Science and Technology Centre Questacon.

New Harlequin Promotion

In the past few weeks, harlequin has been launching a bunch of promotional things. They seem to still be offering seventeen free reads over at their site.

Happy Birthday to Fabio!

Fabio Retro Romance Book Covers

My review of Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9) by Patricia Briggs

Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9) by Patricia Briggs International Cover

My review of The Study of Seduction (Sinful Suitors #2) by Sabrina Jeffries

The Study of Seduction (Sinful Suitors #2) by Sabrina Jeffries

My review of A Duke by December (A Year Without A Duke #5) by Sabrina Darby

A Duke by December (A Year Without A Duke #5) by Sabrina Darby

Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9) by Patricia Briggs

Release Day for Patricia BriggsFire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9) by Patricia Briggs International Cover

Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae.

Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans, and the fae, Mercy, Adam, and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?

Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9) by Patricia Briggs

Patricia Briggs writes the best werewolves in fiction, but her two werewolf series are barely about them anymore! She has become obsessed with the fae, and we are treated to nonstop infodumps giving us lengthy backstories of increasingly ridiculous mythological creatures, at the expense of the characters who should star in the book.

The thing about Briggs’ books is that when she writes her wolves and her pack dynamics, and the power in the relationships between her main characters, her books are fantastic. I cannot get enough of them. The dynamic between Mercy and her husband (and mate and Alpha) Adam is so well-written.

But there was so little of pack dynamics in this book. So little, in fact, that Mercy – our shapeshifting narrator of the series – didn’t change even once in the whole book! She was human from start to finish while we were treated to lots of random side characters and all the cool stuff THEY could do.

The first, epic scene on the bridge was a page-turner. The wolves facing off with a huge troll. It was the only time in the book the wolves did anything other than hang out in human form, eating and playing video games!

I read the paranormal and fantasy genres only when I can feel a connection to the real world. This book took me to a place where I lost that connection, and I was so tired of reading about these crazy fantastical monsters with NO connection to reality whatsoever that I started skimming. A couple of nights in a row, I fell asleep after struggling through all the unnecessary descriptions and conversations.

It’s crazy, because whenever Briggs returns to the heart of the story and the core of her series, I am in love. A word here and a sentence there between Mercy and Adam and Mercy’s stepdaughter and the band of (not so) merry werewolves, and I’m in Heaven:

“She doesn’t need the pack. She doesn’t need me.”

I shot to my feet. “That’s not true,” I said hotly.

He tilted his head a little, his eyes meeting mine. His eyes softened. “I misspoke,” he said in a steady voice. “She doesn’t need me to make sure she has enough food or a place to live-that is my privilege, but she doesn’t need me to do that. She doesn’t need me to keep her safe or to make her a whole person. She doesn’t need me to do anything except love her. Which I do.”

And then suddenly we’re back waist-deep in random fae, and I ask myself what I’m forcing myself to pay attention.

Both of Briggs’ werewolf series have become obsessed with the fae recently. If that’s where the author’s interest is, then perhaps she should end her wolf books before they’re unrecognisable and spin off into fairy books. I won’t be reading them, but I’m sure there’s a big fanbase waiting for her!

The Week : 7th – 13th March

Enlighten Canberra finished this week. That’s when a whole bunch of Australia’s national buildings are lit up for a fortnight.

Below are the National Science and Technology Centre, the National Portrait Gallery (x2) and Old Parliament House, with a cartoon making fun of our last Prime Minister! I took them last night, and have much better pictures of the bigger buildings, but I’m too lazy to go through them at the moment.

Enlighten Canberra Australia 12th March 2016 Sonya Heaney National Science and Technology Centre Questacon.

Enlighten Canberra Australia 12th March 2016 Sonya Heaney National Portrait Gallery 1.

Enlighten Canberra Australia 12th March 2016 Sonya Heaney National Portrait Gallery 2.

Enlighten Canberra Australia 12th March 2016 Sonya Heaney Old Parliament House Tony Abbott Cartoon.

Monday sunset in Canberra:

Monday Sunset Canberra Australia Autumn Sonya Heaney Garden Sky Clouds 7th March 2016 Nature

Summer just won’t end!

pinaforepic

The legendary Australian music star Jon English died after surgery complications this week. It made me sad, because the times I’ve spoken with him he was a wonderful man. He was also spectacular in Pirates of Penzance. I found this picture on – of all places – a Norwegian fansite!

I did a lot of work  – and reading – this week. For once I don’t feel like I wasted any time.. 🙂 🙂

Release Day for Patricia Briggs

Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9) by Patricia Briggs International Cover

Coming up for Sabrina Jeffries

The Study of Seduction (Sinful Suitors #2) by Sabrina Jeffries

My review of At the Edge: Alpha Crew Part I by Laura Griffin

At the Edge Alpha Crew Part I by Laura Griffin

My review of A Fighting Chance by Shannon Stacey

A Fighting Chance by Shannon Stacey

My review of A Field Guide to the F Word by Ben Parker

A Field Guide to the F Word by Ben Parker

Release Day for Patricia Briggs

Release Day for Patricia BriggsFire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9) by Patricia Briggs International Cover

Patricia Briggs’ urban fantasy and paranormal romance series are some of my favourites. Book #9 in the Mercy Thompson series is out today.

Order links:

The Book Depository (free shipping!)

Amazon Australia

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Mercy Thompson has been hailed as “a heroine who continues to grow and yet always remains true to herself.”* Now she’s back, and she’ll soon discover that when the fae stalk the human world, it’s the children who suffer…
 
Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae.
 
Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans, and the fae, Mercy, Adam, and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?

The Week: 8th – 14th February

National Library of Australia Canberra Sonya Oksana Heaney 12th February 2016 Sky Summer Architecture Nature

At the National Library on Friday. We were there for sparkling wine on the terrace overlooking the lake, not books!

The Sydney news claimed we had thunderstorms in Canberra all day (they say that a lot, and it’s never true! This was as cloudy as it got!). And here was sunset the same day:

Friday Sunset Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 12th February 2016 Sky Clouds Nature Summer

Look at all that rain!

We dropped our passports off at the Ukrainian embassy on Friday, which means our trip to Europe is getting close. Luckily the Vice Consul of the embassy is a long-term family friend, so we might get stuff processed faster!

Another hot week. I keep forgetting we’re going to be in Italy in the northern summer, so we (hopefully) won’t be getting too much winter weather this year.

Coming up for Patricia Briggs

Release Day for Patricia Briggs

Sexist Book Titles?

The General's Daughter by Nelson DeMilleThe Madman's Daughter by Megan ShepherdThe Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy TanThe Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch

My review of A Visitor’s Guide To Jane Austen’s England by Sue Wilkes

A Visitor's Guide To Jane Austen's England by Sue Wilkes

My review of Ready To Rock: A Rock Star Romance by Cara Connelly

Ready To Rock A Rock Star Romance by Cara Connelly

Would you buy a book with this cover?

Spider Game (GhostWalkers #12) by Christine Feehan US Cover

Cover Love

Mrs. Lincoln's Rival by Jennifer Chiaverini

Coming up for Patricia Briggs

Release Day for Patricia BriggsFire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9) by Patricia Briggs International Cover

It is now only one month until Patricia Briggs’ next Mercy Thompson book comes out.

Pre-order links:

The Book Depository (free shipping!)

Amazon Australia

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Mercy Thompson is back, and she’ll soon discover that when the fae stalk the human world, it’s the children who suffer …Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae. Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans and the fae, Mercy, Adam and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?

Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs

Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs

Praised as “the perfect blend of action, romance, suspense and paranormal” (Rex Robot Reviews), the Alpha and Omega novels transport listeners into the realm of the werewolf, where Charles Cornick and Anna Latham embody opposite sides of the shifter personality. Now a pleasure trip drops the couple into the middle of some bad supernatural business….

For once, mated werewolves Charles and Anna are not traveling because of Charles’ role as his father’s enforcer. This time their trip to Arizona is purely personal, as Charles plans to buy Anna a horse for her birthday. Or at least it starts out that way….

Charles and Anna soon discover that a dangerous Fae being is on the loose, replacing human children with simulacrums. The Fae’s cold war with humanity is about to heat up – and Charles and Anna are in the cross fire.

Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs

Patricia Briggs is one of my absolute favourite authors. I’ve given her books five stars more often than not. And everyone is raving about the brilliance of Dead Heat.

But… I didn’t really like it. In fact I was bored and stopped a few times to read other books, then stopped again at the 90% mark, only picking it up weeks later to finally finish it. Too many bloody horses!

The Alpha and Omega series began with (I swear!) the best novella ever written. Charles and Anna were one of the most fascinating couples I had ever read about. The books that followed expanded on the brilliant world of werewolves and magic Briggs had created in her other brilliant series: Mercy Thompson.

I suppose I had to not love one of these books at some point, but what baffles me is that everyone else loves it so much.

My issues began right at the start, when it turns out Anna wants to have a baby. The #1 thing I dislike in paranormal books featuring immortal characters is when they want babies five minutes after meeting their mate. Worse, the world of this series established that female werewolves can’t have children, and I really disliked that the absolutes of the world were being messed with.

Not every woman needs babies to be “complete”.

My other issues came in soon after. Firstly, the fact a whole new cast of characters was introduced. So far into a series, and I found it a little hard to care. I’d rather have spent time with Charles’ father and brother instead of them being away in another state for the entire book.

There was also the horse thing. I’m glad to see an author who knows her stuff, but even for someone who was horse-mad as a child, the nonstop scenes about horses and horse-riding and horse shows and horse breeding bored me so much I lost track of the plot.

What Briggs is best at is being able to create a magical world you believe in, because her characters are nuanced and the events she conjures shocking and fascinating. There was still a bit of this going on in Dead Heat, but it was in the background. I read this series for the pack dynamics and the politics of this magical world. I don’t read it for ponies and babies.