The Week: 3rd – 9th December

Bright blue summer skies in Canberra.

How is it the ninth of December already?! It’s been a crazy-hot weekend in Canberra; inland it’s a good ten degrees warmer than in the cities on the coast.

I went to the sale at the National Library yesterday. If I have time I’ll write a post about it!

Twentieth Anniversary of Shakespeare in Love

Bad Sex Writing Awards 2018

Recommended Christmas Read

Out Now: The Story of Us by Lana Kortchik

Book Adaptation for Christmas

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Recommended Christmas Read

I didn’t discover the existence of this novella until after Christmas last year. So I am now recommending it as a Christmas read for this year!

Joanna Shupe’s books set in New York’s late-19th century Gilded Age are special because it’s such an underused theme in historical romance.

My review is here.

Miracle on Ladies' Mile (A Gilded Age Holiday Novella) by Joanna Shupe

Miracle on Ladies’ Mile (A Gilded Age Holiday Novella) by Joanna Shupe

After losing his beloved wife, department store owner Alexander Armstrong seems incapable of anything other than work, despite his ache to be a better father to his daughter.

When he encounters Grace, a charming shop girl designing the store’s holiday window displays, he struggles to accept that perhaps miracles do happen in the most unlikely of places…

The Week: 12th – 18th November

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Some pictures from the Great Wall near Beijing, Jinan, and the Zibo district in China last week.

These past few months have been crazy. From winter to like-winter weather in Europe, to warm weather, to a heatwave in Canberra, to freezing China, to another heatwave in Canberra. I’m so confused where I am and what season it is! Now I’ve done my Christmas shopping (just in case things didn’t arrive in time), I sort of feel like it’s time for the year to end!

My review of A Holiday by Gaslight: A Victorian Christmas Novella by Mimi Matthews

A Holiday by Gaslight A Victorian Christmas Novella by Mimi Matthews

Another Book Community Gone?

A Jane Austen Christmas

Mr Darcy Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen Foil Christmas Card Sonya Heaney In the Past Zazzle Shop Silver Version 2

Poppies for Remembrance Day – 100 Years

Thousands of Poppies First world War One Sonya Heaney 11th November 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra.

Long Tan Cross

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Armageddon Seventy Years On

A Holiday by Gaslight: A Victorian Christmas Novella by Mimi Matthews

A Holiday by Gaslight A Victorian Christmas Novella by Mimi Matthews

A Courtship of Convenience

Sophie Appersett is quite willing to marry outside of her class to ensure the survival of her family. But the darkly handsome Mr Edward Sharpe is no run-of-the-mill London merchant. He’s grim and silent. A man of little emotion—or perhaps no emotion at all. After two months of courtship, she’s ready to put an end to things.

A Last Chance for Love

But severing ties with her taciturn suitor isn’t as straightforward as Sophie envisioned. Her parents are outraged. And then there’s Charles Darwin, Prince Albert, and that dratted gaslight. What’s a girl to do except invite Mr. Sharpe to Appersett House for Christmas and give him one last chance to win her? Only this time there’ll be no false formality. This time they’ll get to know each other for who they really are.

A Holiday by Gaslight: A Victorian Christmas Novella by Mimi Matthews

Mimi Matthews is a fairly recent discovery, but a favourite historical romance author of mine. She writes historically accurate Victorian novels and novellas that are on the sweet side as far as steaminess goes, but usually also emotional stories with great characters.

I liked all of the mixed messages and class confusion in this one. The hero is completely out of his depth trying to navigate the society of the landed gentry (as is his friend), and this results in him nearly losing his chance with the heroine before the courtship even begins.

As you can probably tell by the title, Matthews has struggled to find a home in mainstream publishing because of the style of her books, but they are worth your time.

Much of A Holiday by Gaslight takes place in rural Derbyshire at Christmastime, and I actually read it while *I* was in rural Derbyshire, and so it felt that little bit extra special to read.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 15th – 21st January

Saturday sunset in Canberra. One of many 39-degree days we’ve just had or have forecast for the next week. The garden is dead!

Blue sky and heat on the anniversary of the 2003 Canberra firestorm.

A sulphur-crested cockatoo watches me water the garden at sunset. Look at the orange summer light…

This has NOT been a productive week, but is has been very hot! We have a serious heatwave around here at the moment – forty-ish degrees every day.

After days of high temperatures, I didn’t really need to see this on Saturday night: Canberra will be the hottest city in Australia on Sunday and Monday.

There are a few authors I was supposed to be in contact with, and I am sorry for not doing that.

I became sick at the end of last week, with something that reappears every so often. From there I became sick in general. For a few days this week I was literally only eating a third of a piece of fruit a day, and struggling to keep that down. As you can imagine, it didn’t exactly leave me with the energy to get out of bed! In the end, all I could do was drink sugary drinks to try and get some energy out of them.

I am sure people have heard of the enormous paedophilia story going on in US gymnastics at the moment. It’s a long read, but this is an important article about it:

The U.S. Gymnastics System Wanted More Medals, And Created A Culture Of Abuse To Get Them

Also, this horrifying development – silencing victims by threatening lawsuits:

USA Gymnastics won’t seek fine if McKayla Maroney discusses abuse

And:

Hear Larry Nassar’s victims in their own (powerful and brave) words

This week marked fifteen years since the horror of Canberra’s 2003 firestorm. It was even hotter that year, and we had a severe drought, and – combined with the dangerous winds – there were never “better” conditions for a catastrophic fire.

The rest of this week:

The West just does NOT get it.

MKR-russian-ad-social Hammer and Sickle Communism

My review of Marrying His Cinderella Countess by Louise Allen

Marrying His Cinderella Countess by Louise Allen UK Australian Mills and Boon Cover

My review of Miracle on Ladies’ Mile (A Gilded Age Holiday Novella) by Joanna Shupe

Miracle on Ladies' Mile (A Gilded Age Holiday Novella) by Joanna Shupe

Cover Love

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill (Tales from Ivy Hill #1) by Julie Klassen

Miracle on Ladies’ Mile (A Gilded Age Holiday Novella) by Joanna Shupe

Miracle on Ladies' Mile (A Gilded Age Holiday Novella) by Joanna Shupe

After losing his beloved wife, department store owner Alexander Armstrong seems incapable of anything other than work, despite his ache to be a better father to his daughter.

When he encounters Grace, a charming shop girl designing the store’s holiday window displays, he struggles to accept that perhaps miracles do happen in the most unlikely of places…

Miracle on Ladies’ Mile (A Gilded Age Holiday Novella) by Joanna Shupe

It’s no secret I love Joanna Shupe’s books set in Gilded Age New York. I rave about them nonstop.

Criminally, I was unaware the author had a Christmas novella out for the end of 2017 – set in New York in the Gilded Age, of course!

I finally got to this short historical romance while on holiday over the New Year period, and I thought it was such a nice little read. There are ways to do Christmas books, and then there are ways to do Christmas books.

A story about a man who has to learn to show he loves his ten-year-old daughter, while also falling in love, has the potential to be cheesy as hell. This one isn’t. The daughter is perfect for a “book child”. Definitely not annoying, and with her flaws even when she is cute. There’s a scene near the end with father and daughter, and it was one of the best parent-child scenes I’ve read in fiction, because it felt real. I felt it could have been ten-year-old me with my father. It didn’t feel fake – or overly cute.

As for the heroine? She is great. I loved quite a lot of things about her, but the bit that stands out the most is when the hero is trying to say something nice and she assumes he’s insulting her.

She is a progressive sort without being too modern for her time. She is willing to do some outlandish things, but I can’t see her (unlike many a historical romance heroine) taking foolish risks that would literally ruin her.

Shupe’s love of late-nineteenth century New York equals my love of late-Victorian London, so she not only knows her history and her cool little facts, but also brings the era to life.

Oh – and, this book is not too “Christmassy” for those who don’t like that stuff.

One thing: what is it with authors always making Frenchmen villains? It’s even a joke in many American sitcoms (Everybody Loves Raymond – you are the worst offender!), and it’s always awful.

Genuine question: in the 1800s did Americans really already call Christmas “the holidays”? As a non-American it sounds wrong to me…

Otherwise, I loved this little novella – of course!

Recommended Christmas Read

I’m revisiting some of the books I’ve read and reviewed over the past few months. Christmas books start coming out a long time before Christmas, but now it’s a more festive time of the year, I’m recommending some of my favourites of 2017 again.

Hold Her Again by Shannon Stacey

Hold Her Again by Shannon Stacey

Reviewed here.

A country-music star returns home to win back the woman he loves in this charming holiday novella from New York Times bestselling author Shannon Stacey

Ava Wright isn’t happy to see her high school sweetheart rolling into their hometown a few weeks before Christmas. He’s only come back to bury his estranged father, but there’s no way she’ll be able to avoid him. No one can: he’s become a country-music superstar since going solo and leaving Ava behind.

Jace Morrow grew up believing “money can’t buy happiness” was something people said to make themselves feel better. But now he knows it’s the truth: no matter how many number-one hits he has, he’ll never recapture the magic of singing with Ava. Missing her—loving her—and living with making the wrong choice in life were what made him who he is.

When Jace is roped into being part of the town’s annual Christmas party, he only cares about earning Ava’s forgiveness. And though Ava’s heart has never healed, she loved Jace too much and for too long to shut him out when he’s hurting. As they fall in love all over again, they’re both faced with choices for their future…and this time Jace intends to make the right one.