The Week: 18th – 24th November

Spring Sunset Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 15th November 2019 Sky Nature

Bushfire Sunset Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 21st November 2019 Sky Sun Garden Nature

Dust Storm Drought Tuggeranong Valley Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Friday 22nd November 2019 Smoke Haze

Our crazy weather in three images:

  1. Our usual late-spring sky.
  2. Sunset with smoke from all the bushfires ravaging Australia at the moment.
  3. There should be mountains clearly visible, but after the fires came the dust storm on Friday. It covered huge parts of eastern Australia.

It’s a little hard to not think we’re in the middle of some apocalypse at the moment, with disaster after disaster …

Jane Austen’s Emma

Emma_poster Jane AUsten 2020

Romance.com.au Christmas Competition

Romance.com.au Christmas Competition 2019

Cover Love

The Hope Book 2 in The Amish of Cedar Grove series. Coming in December from Author Patricia Davids

The Week: 18th – 24th September

Spring Flowers Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 21st September 2017 Garden Nature Red

Spring in Canberra

Mostly gorgeous week here. We had temperatures up to 30 degrees, which makes it nearly ten degrees warmer than Barcelona a couple of weeks ago. The difference? In Barcelona everyone dresses for summer. In Canberra a lot of people dress like it’s mid-winter. People are weird.

We booked a group family trip to Thredbo in the Snowy Mountains this week. We’ll be going over New Year. It will be summer here, so hopefully the mountains won’t be too snowy at that time of year!

Yesterday the highway between Canberra (as in Australia’s capital city) and Sydney (as in Australia’s biggest city) was closed because of a bushfire. We knew people who had to turn around and come back to Canberra.

In September.

Just after winter.

We also had the hottest September day in history, and they are predicting a catastrophic bushfire season (yes, here “bushfire season” is actually a thing) for us. But – hey – climate change doesn’t exist…?!

Floriade is in full swing, but I haven’t been this year (so far). I really need to go earlier one year before half the flowers have died!

New (AWFUL!) cover for Lisa Kleypas

My review of Amish Christmas Twins by Patricia Davids

Hunger Games and Twilight are getting theme park lands in South Korea

Truth?

Pride and Prejudice Anniversary

Amish Christmas Twins by Patricia Davids

Amish Christmas Twins Christmas Twins by Patricia Davids

The Widower’s Christmas Wish

With Christmas just around the corner, widow Willa Chase will do anything to retain custody of her twin girls and unborn baby–even if it means escaping to her childhood Amish home. After her grandfather turns her away, Willa finds herself stranded at the home of blacksmith John Miller. A widower, John buries himself in work–until Willa’s vibrant twins become impossible to ignore. And before long, John is smitten with their beautiful mother, too. But when Willa’s past secrets are revealed, will they prevent John’s Christmas wish for a happily-ever-after from coming true?

Amish Christmas Twins: Christmas Twins by Patricia Davids

Yes, the Christmas books are now out!

Due to my aversion to books with kids on the cover, I skipped this one initially – and then noticed it was written by Patricia Davids, who I consider to be one of Harlequin’s best authors, across all of their lines.

I am glad I read this one. Davids focuses more on Amish culture than their religion, so her books are interesting reads for Christian and secular readers alike. She also knows this world inside-out, and it shows in the detail she includes about the world the characters live and work in.

It was also interesting to have a heroine who was dragged out of an Amish lifestyle as a teen, and so returns as someone from a totally different culture. I liked hero and heroine, and I liked that there were characters rediscovering – or just discovering (in the case of the twins) – the Amish lifestyle.

This was one of the better Amish-themed books I’ve read, with so much more to it than kids or Christmas. But then I have enjoyed everything I have read by this author.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 9th – 15th November

Paris attacks Canberra lit up in solidarity with people of France Australia 14th november 1024 National Carillon Night

The National Carillon in Canberra. One of the multiple buildings lit up here in the colours of the French flag on Saturday night.

Well, what a week this has turned out to be. Terror in Paris, Russian doping, more arrests after the terror attack here in Australia… The last time I was in Paris there were two shootings. One was in a school in the centre of the city, and the other was actually in Notre Dame.

It is frightening what is going on at the moment.

Sunset Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Spring Sonya Heaney 13th November 2015 Garden Sky Clouds Nature

Friday evening in Canberra

Spring Canberra Australia 6th November 2015 Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney Garden Flower Nature.

We had a few moments of sunshine and heat, but I’ve never seen so much rain in Canberra in my life (well, the whole country was raining). Hilarious that Prince Charles and Camilla came, and got rained on through a full day of outdoor activities. We’re not much for the monarchy here, and a little tired of being symbolically ruled by some people 17000 kilometres away.

ROYAL TOUR AUSTRALIA

They attended our Remembrance Day ceremony on the 11th. I’m astonished every year by how many people overseas don’t realise the date is commemorated worldwide, and not just in their own country.

Father Christmas waves to the crowd in North Terrace, November 14 2015.

WHY did Adelaide have their Christmas parade yesterday?? It was utterly bizarre to turn on the television and see people singing Christmas carols, and floats with Mary and Jesus and all that.

A little premature there…

I’ve been working 12+ hours a day to try and get things up for sale in time for Christmas. I’m so sleep-deprived, and have taken more painkillers than I should have because of all the headaches! However, people are already saying their Christmas shopping is almost done, and then you factor in shipping times, and consider why people shop so early, and… ARGH!

On top of that, I’m going to be away for a week in mid-December, so I’m trying to get more books read and reviews written and history posts prepared before I go.

The Clandestine Betrothal by Alice Chetwynd Ley

I read a really good traditional Regency (written in the 1960s) this week, but there probably won’t be a review up here until after Christmas! I do have a review on Goodreads. It really drove home what it is I’m missing from many historical romances being written at the moment.

British Writer Tracks Down Teen Who Gave His Book a Bad Review, Smashes Her With Wine Bottle.

British Writer Tracks Down Teen Who Gave His Book a Bad Review, Smashes Her With Wine Bottle.

Coming Soon

His Christmas Countess by Louise Allen

Cover Love

Laid Out by Sidney Halston

My review of The Rancher’s Christmas Proposal by Sherri Shackelford

The Rancher's Christmas Proposal by Sherri Shackelford

My review of Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward

Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward

My review of An Amish Noel by Patricia Davids

An Amish Noel by Patricia Davids

An Amish Noel by Patricia Davids

An Amish Noel by Patricia Davids

An Amish Homecoming 

Luke Bowman’s homecoming is turning Emma Swartzentruber’s carefully ordered world upside down. Gone is her rebellious girlhood crush, and in his place is a handsome man who seems committed to serving the community. Luke’s even agreed to work for Emma’s ill father, whose last wish is to see his daughter wedded to a stable, loving man. But Luke—a man who flirted with the outside world with disastrous consequences—is hardly marriage material for a good Amish woman. Yet this Christmas, when her family is flung into crisis, Emma finds that he may just be the one to capture her heart for good.

An Amish Noel by Patricia Davids

This was my second foray into Amish fiction (though I’ve read much more of it since receiving this review book), and it was a much bigger success for me than the first one. I still find the whole Amish world confusing and occasionally hypocritical, but author Patricia Davids presented me with a much more nuanced version of things and much more three-dimensional characters, so I was on board with the people in this book in a way I wasn’t with the first.

I suppose you could say these books are always going to follow a pretty similar pattern, seeing as the Amish world is deliberately very limited and very tame, but with this one we are given some more interesting characters. Our hero’s attempt to join the rest of the world ended in disaster when he was put in prison for drug dealing (the Amish education that doesn’t go beyond eighth grade, combined with the lack of a social security number didn’t make it easy to find work in the outside world!).

And as an added bonus, this was a reunion story. The rebellious young man paired with the very traditional Amish girl. Though it is about a love lost and found, I have no idea why a reference was made to how they were both starting to age, seeing as they were (if I remember correctly) only twenty-five!

This book deals with different groups of people in Amish society. You have the more liberal people who are embracing all sorts of aspects of the modern world, and then the people who really are still living like it’s a few hundred years in the past.

This contrast is shown especially with the other (widowed) male love interest (why are these Amish books always full of widowed people in their teens, twenties and thirties?!), who is raising his daughter to be ultra-conservative. However I’m not fond of love triangles in most cases, and I felt a bit sorry for this other man here. The book didn’t really need him in it.

Surprisingly for a Christian romance about Amish people this was one of the least cheesy Christmas books I have read. That was a nice surprise.

One thing I wasn’t too fond of was the presentation of the real world (MY real world!) as being a drug-infested sleaze-fest, but those parts were short and infrequent.

While I find nothing much romantic in the Amish life, I would happily read the next book in this series, and am also interested in the earlier two instalments. An Amish Noel showed me Amish fiction doesn’t have to be as old-fashioned and preachy as I’d initially expected it to be.

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 12th – 18th October

Friday Sunset Gowrie Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 16th October 2015 Spring Sky Clouds Grey Pink Orange Nature

Friday sunset in Canberra.

Garden Gowrie Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Spring Lilac Sonya Heaney 16th October 2015 Flowers Purple Nature

The gorgeous lilac is coming out in the garden. It smells so nice!

1999 Ballet Giselle Act Two - Sonya Heaney

Sixteen years ago this week since I danced the full-length version of Giselle for the first time. Wow, that’s a long time! The picture is from the dress rehearsal the night before, and the one the newspapers ran with in the end.

I guess you could say I like serious books now because I always preferred ballets where my character faced a tragic end!

Hotel Hotel Canberra Australia Entrance Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney 25th July 2015

We had lunch with Ukrainian embassy staff on Thursday, at Hotel Hotel. Got news on the war everyone has forgotten about…

Russian propaganda in an occupied region of Ukraine this week, explaining why Russia should be fighting and killing in Syria.13thOctober20152

Russian propaganda in an occupied region of Ukraine this week, explaining why Russia should be fighting and killing in Syria.

Surf life savers rescue drowning kangaroo in Lake Burley Griffin

On Friday morning, Canberra-based surf lifesavers rescued a drowning kangaroo that had been swimming in the lake in the city centre. I have no idea why the kangaroo was in the water!

Reasonable expectations of authors.

Sylvia Day Crossfire Series Books 1-4

Twilight Take #2 – Take #2!

Stephenie Meyer E.L. James

Cover Love

Falling at the Surgeon's Feet by Lucy Ryder

How to annoy a Jane Austen fan!

How to annoy a Jane Austen fan in three easy steps.

My review of Tall, Dark and Wicked (Wicked Trilogy #2) by Madeline Hunter

Tall, Dark, & Wicked by Madeline Hunter

My review of The Amish Midwife by Patricia Davids

The Amish Midwife by Patricia Davids

The Amish Midwife by Patricia Davids

The Amish Midwife by Patricia Davids

An Unexpected Family

Amish midwife Anne Stoltzfus is used to late-night visitors—but she’s shocked to find reclusive bachelor Joseph Lapp on her doorstep with a baby in his arms. Their neighborly quarrels are pushed aside when Joseph explains that his sister has left her daughter in his care—and Joseph needs Anne to be her nanny. Soon they’re bonding over baby Leah, and the love they feel for her is healing them both. When Joseph makes an offer of marriage, Anne’s painful past resurfaces and she’s unsure of what to do. But taking a chance could mean love—and family—are waiting just across the fence.

Lancaster Courtships: Life and love in Amish country

The Amish Midwife by Patricia Davids

Why is there a child (on the left, not the baby!) on the cover of this book? It looks like a girl I knew when I was twelve! The heroine of this book is almost thirty-four!

I was in two minds about starting this one. I have recently discovered I really enjoy Patricia Davids’ writing, but I also know I dislike books about midwives. In the end, because it was a review book rather than something I had to pay for, I decided to give it a go.

As with every other book I’ve read by this author, I enjoyed it. She is an astonishingly consistent writer who delivers Amish fiction that even people (like me) who wouldn’t call themselves religious can be entertained by.

The Amish Midwife is part of a series, but all of the books are deliberately written as standalones, so this can be read on its own.

This is an interesting read in one way: the lead characters are older. I read somewhere that the average age for Amish women/men to get married is twenty-one/twenty-two, and both of these characters are in their thirties. It was nice to see they both had interests and professions, even if neither was a profession I found remotely attractive (delivering babies and milking goats!).

On the other hand, their ages illustrate perfectly how horrific some aspects of Amish life are. The rumours about their conduct, and the bishop dropping by to scold them for being alone together, like they are irresponsible children. Any time you might start seeing the Amish way of life as quaint and maybe even nice, you need a reminder of this sort of thing!

There is a tendency in this sort of fiction to make the outside world look eeeeevil, and that is also the case with this one. Something I’d like to see in Amish fiction in general is a more positive representation of the modern-day world. After all, even the Amish pick and choose modern technology when it suits them!

I wouldn’t say this is my favourite book by this author, but it was a better read than the other one I read in this multi-authored series. There are definitely other books I’ve preferred, but I can only imagine how hard it is to collaborate with others on something like this.

Overall, a solid book from the best Amish fiction author I’ve read so far.

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 21st – 27th September

Sunset Gowrie Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Spring 25th September 2015 Sky Clouds Grey Pink Nature.

Friday sunset in Canberra *

Strange Sky Canberra Australia 21st September 2015 Sonya Heaney Christopher Heaney Clouds Sunset Nature 2

Canberra’s sky doing something bizarre at sunset on Monday evening.

^^^^^^^^

My father took this picture at the state border when coming back from checking if another possum had moved into my grandmother’s house. I want to know how he took it, because that sure looks to me like he took it while driving! Enlarge it, and I bet you’ll agree he lied when he told me he stopped the car (remember, in Australia the driver is on the right of the car)!

I’ve hardly read anything for a couple of weeks – I’m worried about this blog!

I seem to have gone off historical romance a bit (after reading hardly anything BUT that!), but maybe I’m just reading the wrong books…

This week sounds like a string of bad news!

Cat 3 Queanbeyan Australia Sonya Heaney 19th September 2015

Even though the RSPCA was rude, unhelpful, suspicious, and tried to fob me off onto other organisations because they’re not actually interested in helping animals, I’ve found somewhere for our gorgeous, HUGELY pregnant stray cat, and she’ll go there on Monday. I desperately want to keep her, but I don’t know how people who travel manage to have pets! We’re going to be in Ukraine and Italy, and at the Gold Coast and in Melbourne in the next seven months. Not ideal for a cat, but I don’t know how I can let her go!

I love her so much, and even if she’s sound asleep, she wakes up and follows you from room to room if you move, like a very, VERY loyal dog, but even sweeter! You get in BIG trouble if you don’t talk to her and pet her the whole time, and she hates being on her own for even a moment. (That’s my mother and me in the background. Our cat insisted on sitting with us for lunch – on her own chair – and she’s at the table, while we’ve been shoved over onto the side!)

26thseptember2015Russian occupiers in Ukraine during the week tearing down the houses of native Crimean Tatars, and raising Russian, terrorist and SYRIAN flags in occupied regions of the east.

Russian occupiers in Ukraine during the week, tearing down the houses of native Crimean Tatars, and raising Russian, terrorist and SYRIAN flags in occupied regions of the east.

http://liveuamap.com/

DanielaDaniela's murderer.

I said a few months ago that someone I grew up with was murdered by her boyfriend (look how gorgeous she was).

This week, he was charged with the additional offences of raping her both before and after her death. It makes me feel sick.

It is because of things like this, and like the man who punched a woman at the football in Western Australia on Friday night that I have ZERO tolerance for anyone who claims they’re not a feminist.

The Hobbit’s 78th Birthday

Today, the 21st of September, is the 78th anniversary of the publication of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.1937. FIRST EDITION

No more of these…?

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

Could we stop putting this scene in every romance… Please? 🙂

Romance Cover Art

It’s in the Hairstyles!

Historical Romance Fashions and Hairstyles Versus the Reality Victorian Era Portrait Book Cover

Shana Galen on why she loves historicals

The Rogue You Know (Covent Garden Cubs #2) by Shana Galen

My review of Amish Redemption (Brides of Amish Country #13) by Patricia Davids

Amish Redemption (Brides of Amish Country #13) by Patricia Davids

Amish Redemption (Brides of Amish Country #13) by Patricia Davids

Amish Redemption (Brides of Amish Country #13) by Patricia Davids

An Amish Homecoming

Joshua Bowman is ready to go home. After spending time in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, he’s putting everything behind him and reconciling with his fractured family. When a devastating tornado throws him unexpectedly into the path of Mary Kaufman and her daughter, Hannah, he feels the first spark of life after months. But Mary’s adoptive dad is the Englisch sheriff—and he’d never trust her care to a man with Joshua’s past. Plus the lovely single mom has a secret of her own, one that she’s spent years running from. Together they survived the storm, but are they strong enough to shed the shadows of their past?

Brides of Amish Country: Finding true love in the land of the Plain People.

Amish Redemption (Brides of Amish Country #13) by Patricia Davids

DO NOT be daunted by the fact this is supposed to be book thirteen in a series. It’s the first one I’ve read, and it’s a perfect standalone book.

Since discovering that I really like Patricia Davids’ writing and themes, I’ve been powering through her Amish romances. The problem is that I’ve been reading everything backwards, starting with her upcoming book and then moving onto the one before it, and then the one before that! The author’s next series continues on from this one. It is probably giving me a different idea of the characters than most people have!

Amish Redemption is a surprise read if you’re expecting Amish books to be slow and backwards. This one involves a tornado, drug trafficking, child abduction, prison – everything! The Amish in the community live right alongside everyone else, and so the outside world intrudes on theirs.

This was a fascinating book, and honestly the religion only plays a part in the story because it’s the way the people live. It’s not preachy, and there’s a careful distinction made between what’s expected and accepted with an Amish person and how things are for the rest of us.

What this author does – and some others do not – is immerse you into the Amish world in a way that makes you forget it’s foreign. So you feel like you are reading about regular people like those you see on a day to day basis. She makes it easy to connect and identify with them and their issues.

Two things I wasn’t thrilled with weren’t that big. The first is that I’ve noticed this author likes introducing a second love interest for her heroines, and I don’t often enjoy love triangles – especially when the other man is usually nice.

The other one is that our hero took a while longer than I’d have liked to put two and two together when the bad stuff happens at the end.

However, these were minor niggles, and I know my hugely unlikely love affair with Amish fiction will continue after this one!