The Week: 13th – 19th May

When this post goes up I should be in Sydney. It’s just an overnight trip to see The Australian Ballet’s closing night performance of Giselle at the Opera House. It’s my favourite ballet, and the last one I ever danced.

This week was all about edits on my upcoming book. I’ve almost reached the point of I hate this thing and never want to read it ever, ever again! Quite normal when you’ve already read it eleventy-billion times in the past six months!

R.I.P. to Bob Hawke, who was Prime Minister of Australia for a big chunk of my childhood. I was so surprised to hear he’d died, as he’d been active in the election campaign these past few weeks.

On that note: happy day-after-election day to Australia – ha ha. I have zero confidence in the result (though, by the time this goes up we might already have a result). The world has become a lot crazier over the past decade, and – as the US proved in 2016 – anything can happen.

My father has been working at a pre-polling station for the past three weeks, filling in the time before starting a new management job (he doesn’t understand the concept of “retirement”), and he now has zero faith in the average Australian’s intelligence. A lot of people go to vote and don’t even know what the election is for! Voting is compulsory in Australia, and that’s something I have very mixed feelings about.

Book Feature: Jade by Jill Marie Landis

jade by jill marie landis

My review of First Strike (I-Team #5.9) by Pamela Clare

First Strike (I-Team #5.9) by Pamela Clare

Cover Love

Bride by Mistake by Anne Gracie

Eurovision

The Week: 29th April – 5th May

Autumn Colours Autumn Leaves Canberra Australia Sonya Oksana Heaney 29th April 2019 Warm Sunny Day Blue Sky Garden Nature

Autumn colours in Canberra.

Argh! It’s May. What is going on?!

I voted on Wednesday. The Australian election is not for another fortnight, but I’m going to be at the ballet in Sydney on that day (voting is compulsory here). I also met my candidate at the polling station. Now, could I please be spared all the trashy political ads for the next two weeks?!

I’m on HarperCollins.com!

hc-logo HarperCollins Publisher

New Book from Madeline Hunter

and

My review of Never Deny a Duke (Decadent Dukes #3) by Madeline Hunter

Never Deny a Duke (2019) (The third book in the Decadent Dukes Society #3 series) A novel by Madeline Hunter

Coming up for Joanna Shupe

The Rogue of Fifth Avenue (2019) (The first book in the Uptown Girls series #1) A novel by Joanna Shupe

My review of The Pursuits of Lord Kit Cavanaugh (The Cavanaughs #2) by Stephanie Laurens

The Pursuits of Lord Kit Cavanaugh (The Cavanaughs #2) by Stephanie Laurens

The Week: 4th – 10th March

National Library of Australia Canberra Heatwave Early Autumn Heatwave Sonya Heaney 3rd March 2019

Sunny afternoon for lunch on the terrace at the National Library.

This week saw the premature deaths of two icons from when I was growing up: Beverly Hills 90210’s Luke Perry and The Prodigy’s Keith Flint. Australia saw another shocking murder of a woman by an ex who wouldn’t take no for an answer. It was a similar situation to the murder of a childhood friend of mine in 2015.

And in Russia, a huge crowd of people lined up to give flowers and bow to a statue of Stalin. Imagine the world’s reaction if they’d done this for Hitler in Germany…

Two brave activists – Yevgeny Suchkov and Olga Savchenko – were arrested for doing THIS at the event.

I was so unprepared for Luke Perry’s death. He defined my generation. I was going into high school when his character was finishing high school.

Even though I had all the Jason Priestley merchandise (t-shirts, diaries, stickers etc.), Perry was the 90210 actor who emerged as the biggest star – and was apparently a great man behind the scenes. He was one of THE faces of the 1990s, enough that he was featured across the board in other iconic pop culture shows like The Simpsons:

Brian Austin Green, Jason Priestley and Luke Perry in the 90210 opening credits:

My review of How the Right Lost Its Mind by Charles J. Sykes

The New Cover Trend

Cover Love

How the Right Lost Its Mind by Charles J. Sykes

How the Right Lost Its Mind by Charles J. Sykes

Once at the centre of the American conservative movement, bestselling author and radio host Charles Sykes is a fierce opponent of Donald Trump and the right-wing media that enabled his rise.

In How the Right Lost Its Mind, Sykes presents an impassioned, regretful, and deeply thoughtful account of how the American conservative movement came to lose its values. How did a movement that was defined by its belief in limited government, individual liberty, free markets, traditional values, and civility find itself embracing bigotry, political intransigence, demagoguery, and outright falsehood? How the Right Lost its Mind addresses:
*Why are so many voters so credulous and immune to factual information reported by responsible media?
*Why did conservatives decide to overlook, even embrace, so many of Trump’s outrages, gaffes, conspiracy theories, falsehoods, and smears?
*Can conservatives govern? Or are they content merely to rage?
*How can the right recover its traditional values and persuade a new generation of their worth?

How the Right Lost Its Mind by Charles J. Sykes

It’s very hard to keep up with the political landscape at the best of times, but in the chaotic era of Donald Trump, it’s downright impossible. This becomes even more the case when someone wants to write a book about it, but I found Charles J. Sykes’ take on the situation fascinating (and fact-filled, which is always nice).

Not being American, I had no idea who the author was when I received and began to read this book (he’s a *conservative* political commentator who goes by the name of Charlie Sykes). What makes this book so fascinating is that it is written by a man on the Trump/Republican side of things, and it’s an honest look at a conservative movement self-imploding and becoming a personality cult.

While I sympathise with domestic American causes that have come under attack since 2016, for me, as a foreigner, my two main issues with Trump and his supporters are the hatred he fosters for anyone without US-of-A on their passports, and his support for Russia (my now-homeless family members in Ukraine would really like him to stop supporting Putin’s war).

I suppose the most hard-line right-wingers will detest this book and label Sykes a “loser” and a “traitor” and every other word Trump likes to throw his critics’ way, but How the Right Lost Its Mind should be read by people on both sides of the political divide.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Stacey Abrams – Selena Montgomery: a romance author runs for Governor

Author and Politician Stacey Abrams Selena Montgomery

With the elections in the US taking place this week, I thought I’d mention Stacey Abrams, who is running for Governor of Georgia (and attempting to become the first black woman in the country to achieve such a position).

Why? Because Abrams also happens to be romantic suspense author Selena Montgomery!

The Washington Post had an interview with her a few days ago, where she discussed her books.

I have a subscription to the newspaper, but I’m not sure if you can access it without, so I’ve copied a couple of the questions here:

Q: How has writing romantic suspense novels prepared you to run for — and hold — office?

Leadership requires the ability to engage and to create empathy for communities with disparate needs and ideas. Telling an effective story — especially in romantic suspense — demands a similar skill set. Effective storytelling takes the reader into a life that is both familiar and foreign, enough of both to make space for others to feel empowered to tell their stories.

When I began writing novels, I read Aristotle to learn how to perfect structure, Pearl Cleage to sustain tension and Nora Roberts for characterization. Good romantic suspense can never underestimate the audience, and the best political leaders know how to shape a compelling narrative that respects voters and paints a picture of what is to come.

Q: Many readers find it easy to make fun of romance novels. What do you have to say to critics of the genre?

Telling a well-crafted story is hard. Full stop. Regardless of genre, good writing is good writing. Romance is one of the oldest forms of storytelling, and I’m honored to be in the company of extraordinary writers.

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

#SAD! Doonesbury in the Time of Trump by G. B. Trudeau

#SAD! Doonesbury in the Time of Trump by G. B. Trudeau

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist whose acclaimed Yuge!: 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump blew up the bestseller list, comes the sequel millions prayed would be unnecessary. #SAD!: Doonesbury in the Time of Trump tracks the shocking victory, the inept transition, and the tumultuous eternity of POTUS’s First 500 Days.

Citizens who rise every morning in dread, braced for disruptive, Randomly Capitalized, atrociously grammarized, horrably speld, toxic tweeting from the Oval Office, can curl up at night with this clarifying collection of hot takes  on the First Sociopath, his enablers, and their appalling legacy. Whether resisting or just persisting, readers will find G.B. Trudeau’s cartoons are just the thing to ease the pain of remorse (“Could I have done more to prevent this?”) and give them a shot at a few hours of unfitful sleep.

There are worse things to spend your tax cut on.

#SAD! Doonesbury in the Time of Trump by G. B. Trudeau

We all know that Donald Trump is throwback to the days of Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin. We all know he is an outspoken misogynist, proud racist, enthusiastic supporter of murderous Vladimir Putin – and an idiot to boot.

Well-known American cartoonist G. B. Trudeau has covered Trump for years. As he writes in this book: Trump is severely sensitive to ridicule. Anything anti-Trump isn’t going to change the minds of his cultists, but it is a surefire way to get to him when nothing else will.

Unfortunately, the review copy I had of #SAD! was nearly inaccessible (I got mostly scrambled pages with a bit of text), but Trudeau’s work can be widely found, and is worth seeking out.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Nineteen Years

Source

Today is the nineteenth anniversary of the start of the Russian apartment bombings, when Vladimir Putin orchestrated a series of attacks that killed hundreds of citizens across Russia in order to boost his popularity and win the presidency.

Before the first apartment bombing, a shopping mall in Moscow was attacked on the 31st of August.

The first apartment attack occurred in Buynaksk, where sixty-four people were killed and 133 were injured. The two bombings in Moscow that followed killed over 200, and an attack in Volgodonsk killed 17.

In total 293 were killed and over a thousand were injured.

Putin blamed the attacks on a group from Dagestan, and used it as an excuse for a second war in Chechnya, boosting his approval ratings and helping him to power.

Three key people trying to reveal the truth about what happened were assassinated in the years that followed: Sergei Yushenkov, Yuri Shchekochikhin, and Alexander Litvinenko – who defected to Britain and was infamously poisoned by Russian agents in a London restaurant in 2006.

Additionally, Mikhail Trepashkin spent years in a Russian prison for his role in the investigation.

Bombing at Guryanova Street in Moscow, where 94 were killed.

These tactics were also used by the Soviets, such as when they blew up their own people at a border post as an excuse to start the Winter War with Finland in 1939. The result of this was that Finland fought with the Nazis in the Second World War.

In the past few years, with Kremlin manipulation of internet search results, factual reports of the apartment bombing incidents are harder to come by. Just like with news about anything else (e.g. Ukraine), these days top English-language (and Spanish and French etc.) Google results usually link to sites like RT (Russia Today), Tass, and Sputnik – all of them Kremlin-backed propaganda agencies.

Ten Years

Today is the tenth anniversary of the Russian invasion of Georgia. Russia still occupies parts of the country, and landowners on the fake new borders report having more of their property stolen every day – it’s a slow motion invasion the world has completely forgotten about.

As with Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine, ethnic cleansing is taking place in occupied Georgia, and the Russians are destroying all evidence of local people’s culture and history. Historic buildings are being torn down. (A Crimean Tatar set himself on fire in protest the other day – on camera; nobody in the world reported it.)

Georgia was Putin’s test run for his invasion of Ukraine. Taking place just after Obama came to power, he learnt that world leaders wouldn’t act on Russian aggression.

Even though it’s not really needed for diplomatic purposes, Georgia maintains an embassy here in Canberra, to remind people in the South Pacific why they shouldn’t be doing trade with the Kremlin (Fiji and New Zealand, I’m looking at you!).

peacekeepers_barracks_ossetia_2008 Russian invasion of Georgia

tskhinval_after_georgian_attack4battle-of-tskhinvali russian invasion of Georgia

The Week: 23rd – 29th July

Friday afternoon drinks on the patio near the lake at the National Library. Canberra put on a sunny and surprisingly warm day. It was a gorgeous end to the week.

Australian Parliament from the car on Friday afternoon.

There was a terrible fatal accident involving a truck, three cars, and many people right near where I live yesterday morning. It’s on a patch of the Monaro Highway where, recently, I’ve seen a car run off into a paddock, a huge truck overturned, and, a few weeks ago, it was the exact spot we nearly got cleaned up by an aggressive male driver who ran a red light several seconds after ours turned green. And that’s before mentioning the endless kangaroos/foxes/wombats/possums that have been hit by vehicles and now line either side of the road.

We had to drive past the scene yesterday (and will have to travel past there twice today), and it wasn’t a pretty sight.

The Monaro Highway is the thoroughfare for interstaters going to and from the Snowy Mountains, the country, and Sydney, and is also where all the reckless ute-driving workmen (who’ve never met a road rule they won’t break) travel from early morning through to late afternoon.

I had a lot of posts this week, with all the news floating around!

#Cockygate Resolved

Tara Crescent Cockygate Resolved Thank You

The Bridgertons are coming to television!

bridgerton

RITA Awards 2018

Forbidden River (The Legionnaires #2.5) by Brynn Kelly

A Buffy Remake?

buffy_sarah_michelle_gellar_gettyimages-1150569

Dear Canberra Writers’ Festival: Barnaby Joyce is NOT a writer, and you know it

BarnabyJoycewearsanAkubrahatanddoesthehangloosehandgesturewithhisrighthand

The Trump Effect on Books

Tessa Dare Donald Trump Paper Costs Canada Trade War 1

Roswell Trailer

Roswell New Mexico 2018

On this day: Prisoners of War in Ukraine

20th Anniversary of Ever After