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 – Whispering Rock by Robyn Carr

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.

Whispering Rock by Robyn Carr

Whispering Rock (Virgin River #3) by Robyn Carr

A decorated U.S. Marine reservist, LAPD officer Mike Valenzuela was badly wounded in the line of duty, but has found hope and healing in Virgin River. When he agrees to become the town’s first cop, he does so knowing it’s time he settled down. Twice divorced and the lover of too many women, he secretly longs for the kind of commitment and happiness his marine buddies have found—a woman who can tie up his heart forever.

He finds that woman in Brie Sheridan, a Sacramento prosecutor who understands his drive to protect and serve. Virgin River becomes a safe haven for Brie after nearly losing her life at the hands of a crazed criminal. Though tough and courageous, she’s got some fears she can’t escape—but now she has someone who will show her just what it means to trust again. Mike will do anything to help Brie free herself from painful memories. Passionate, strong and gentle, he vows to give back to her what she’s so selflessly given him—her heart, and with it, a new beginning.

The Week: 1st – 7th October

^^ The Royal Australian Air Force Roulettes flying over Old and New Parliament Houses in Canberra on Saturday afternoon (I took the picture from the car, so it’s not perfect!). New Parliament House turned thirty this year, and the celebrations were held this weekend.

What a week. For me it began in Qatar on the Arabian Peninsula, trying to stay awake through a 9.5 hour layover in Doha (note to self: flights from Manchester to Canberra have no good connection times!).

I arrived home on Tuesday morning, after two days of travelling, to the most gorgeous day. However, it was a real shock to see just HOW dry it is in Canberra. There was dead, yellow grass before; now it’s basically just dirt. It’s a huge contrast to green, green Ireland, and northern England, where there was a drought this summer, but nothing like this.

I didn’t get a chance for jetlag because it’s spring here, our local birds have had babies, and the desperate, overworked mother magpie has figured out which one is my bedroom window, and knocks on it with her beak at dawn until I get out of bed and give her some food for her kids!

Our recently deposed Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, had his penthouse by the lake up for sale this weekend. We actually parked outside the entrance to the building when we went out for lunch, and it was SO tempting to go in and have a look at it!

Yay for daylight saving beginning, and boo to all the countries losing their minds and getting rid of it. How could you possibly hate having an extra hour of daylight in the evening in summer??

My week finished with my passport sitting at the Chinese embassy, waiting for a visa – it’s not long before I’m off again.

Home

Spring in the Garden Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 2nd October 2018

Virgin River on Netflix

Virgin River by Robyn Carr

Yet Another Netflix Adaptation

Stealing Home (The Sweet Magnolia's Series #1) by Sherrly Woods

More Trademark Issues

Harlequin Manga

Virgin River on Netflix

Robyn Carr Virgin River Series

Continuing Netflix’s obsession with raiding the romance genre for ideas for productions, now Robyn Carr’s super-popular Virgin River series is being adapted for the screen.

Set in small town America, in Humboldt County, California, the book series follows a large cast of couples and side characters – but then I guess most people reading this post have heard of it! It looks like the initial run might just be for the first book.

Will I watch this show? Maybe… I don’t usually enjoy seeing characters I’m this familiar with (nor locations I’ve had in my mind for years) being presented in a way I don’t recognise.

Book Feature: The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

Note: I am featuring some of the review books I’ve had for a while, but run out of time to review. That’s not to say I’m not going to read them; it’s just that I’ve fallen behind, and think the authors deserve an appearance here!

The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

Mothers and daughters, sisters and cousins–they lived for summers at the lake house until a tragic accident changed everything. The Summer That Made Us is an unforgettable story about a family learning to accept the past, to forgive and to love each other again.

That was then… For the Hempsteads, two sisters who married two brothers and had three daughters each, summers were idyllic. The women would escape the city the moment school was out to gather at the family house on Lake Waseka. The lake was a magical place, a haven where they were happy and carefree. All of their problems drifted away as the days passed in sun-dappled contentment. Until the summer that changed everything.

This is now… After an accidental drowning turned the lake house into a site of tragedy and grief, it was closed up. For good. Torn apart, none of the Hempstead women speak of what happened that summer, and relationships between them are uneasy at best to hurtful at worst. But in the face of new challenges, one woman is determined to draw her family together again, and the only way that can happen is to return to the lake and face the truth.

Robyn Carr has crafted a beautifully woven story about the complexities of family dynamics and the value of strong female relationships.

Summer Reads

As well as being “put up the Christmas tree” day, tomorrow is also the start of summer here. A few reads for the season:

Secrets of a Summer Night (Wallflowers #1) by Lisa Kleypas

Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas

Willow Springs (Destiny Series #5) by Toni Blake

Willow Springs (Destiny Series #5) by Toni Blake

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

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

A Summer in Sonoma by Robyn Carr

a-summer-in-sonoma-a-novel-by-robyn-carr

Whisper Falls (Destiny Series #3) by Toni Blake

Whisper Falls by Toni Blake

The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

Melbourne Cup Day

Today is Melbourne Cup day in Australia (one of the world’s most prestigious horse races). I have zero interest in the race, and couldn’t name a single horse, so instead here are a few horse-themed books I would recommend:

Promise Canyon (Virgin River #13) by Robyn Carr

Promise Canyon (Virgin River #13) by Robyn Carr

Promises by Cathryn Hein

Promises by Cathryn Hein

Heartland by Cathryn Hein

Heartland by Cathryn Hein

There is also Life as I know it by Michelle Payne – the first woman to win the Melbourne Cup (in 2015), if you DO have an interest in the race. However, her reputation has been a little tainted as she recently failed a drug test…

life-as-i-know-it-by-michelle-payne-and-john-harms

Out Now

Robyn Carr’s The Summer That Made Us is due out now. I have an ARC, and will be posting a review when I return from Spain.

The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

That was then…

For the Hempsteads, summers were idyllic. Two sisters who married two brothers and had three daughters each, the women would escape the city the moment school was out to gather at the family house on Lake Waseka. The lake was a magical place, a haven where they were happy and carefree. All of their problems drifted away as the days passed in sun-dappled contentment. Until the summer that changed everything.

This is now…

After an accidental drowning turned the lake house into a site of tragedy and grief, it was closed up. For good. Torn apart, none of the Hempstead women speak of what happened that summer, and relationships between them are uneasy at best, hurtful at worst. But in the face of new challenges, one woman is determined to draw her family together again, and the only way that can happen is to return to the lake and face the truth.

The Week: 29th May – 4th June

Driving past Australian Parliament on Saturday afternoon (taken from the back seat of the car). Canberra’s winter has a lot of sunshine!

First day of winter in Canberra.

A colourful last day of autumn on Wednesday.

Above is our neighbour’s ancient, blind, deaf cat this week. For some reason she has just now (at nearly nineteen years of age – in her nineties as a human) decided to move into our house. The problem is, her blindness means she often misses our back door and instead sits there and stares at the brick wall! We had to put a mat out for her because she sits there for hours…

In five days I went from frightening her at every turn, to patting her for the first time, to – on Friday – having her walk into the house, climb on top of me, and settle in for the evening. I felt a bit triumphant to gain the trust of such an unlikely cat.

We began winter with some gorgeous weather, but I’m terrified it’s already June!

So much – not all of it good, some of it hilarious – happened this week.

UPDATE: Yet another terror attack in Britain. 😦 😦

Yesterday Russia deployed 60 000 MORE troops to Crimea. Something else for everyone to ignore. People talk about how bad it was people ignored Hitler, but when Hitler started wars, the world started reacting. Putin has been invading countries for a decade now.

My cousin’s house burnt down – I kid you not. It made the news, and because it’s in the country and he was in Sydney it makes it all so much more difficult to deal with.

The ridiculous thing is that he was renting it out, and the renters basically blew it up by putting embers in a bin near the gas and electricity. However, there aren’t many laws protecting landlords from their tenants’ idiotic behaviour, so this is going to be costly for the innocent party in this mess.

Olivia Newton-John announced she has cancer again. My mother did costume work for one of her tours a few years ago, and apparently she is one of the most genuine, normal, nice celebrities behind the scenes.

covfefe!

Winter Reads

Thought for the end of the week.

My review of When to Engage an Earl (Spinster House #3) by Sally MacKenzie

My review of The Cornish Escape by Lily Graham

My review of What We Find (Sullivan’s Crossing #1) by Robyn Carr

Nice Hat!

What We Find (Sullivan’s Crossing #1) by Robyn Carr

What We Find (Sullivan's Crossing #1) by Robyn Carr

Firstly: look what the Australian publishers did to this cover:

What We Find (Sullivan's Crossing #1) by Robyn Carr Australian Cover

They turned it into a rural Australian fiction cover! This book is set in Colorado (as in, NOT Australia!), and is about a surgeon, not a cowgirl – this is weird!

Under extreme pressure, neurosurgeon Maggie Sullivan knows she needs to slow down before she burns out completely, and the best place she can do that is Sullivan’s Crossing.

Named for Maggie’s great-grandfather, the land and charming general store at the crossroads of the Colorado and the Continental Divide trails now belong to Maggie’s eccentric father, Sully. She relishes the opportunity to indulge in his simple way of life.

But Maggie’s world is rocked and she must take responsibility for the Crossing. When a quiet and serious-looking hiker, Cal Jones, offers to lend a hand, Maggie is suspicious of his motives—until she finds out the true reason for his deliberate isolation.

Though Cal and Maggie each struggle with loss and loneliness, the time they spend together gives Maggie hope for something brighter just on the horizon…if only they can learn to find peace and healing—and perhaps love—with each other.

What We Find (Sullivan’s Crossing #1) by Robyn Carr

Something you should know: I didn’t finish this book. I was really enjoying it, was on the lookout specifically for a *Robyn Carr*-style easy read at a time I was tired of my review books. I bought it because I never got around to downloading the review copy when it was a new release, and because I was planning on reading book two in the series next.

And then I hit a comment – and then another comment – I could not overlook.

I was a little confused by the mixed reviews for this book. It seems that everyone expects Carr to write her crazy-successful Virgin River again and again, and every time she tries something new she’s criticised for it.

Yes, she has a unique writing style that means she can info-dump until the cows come home, and a lot of the action happens off the page, and yet somehow it WORKS. Sometimes I want to read a Robyn Carr book specifically, because it’s so comforting, and she GETS real life so well, from every perspective.

I found this to be the case with What We Find, too. I could read about everyday people and their everyday issues forever and not be bored when it’s written by this author.

I was really enjoying this book.

And then she introduced the dodgy ex-husband. The ex-Ukrainian husband.

Are you allowed to have a bad character of any nationality? Of course you are.

But there’s a BIG problem here.

Think about it: when was the last time you saw a Ukrainian character in a book? Never? That’s right. Even when authors have their characters come from a Ukrainian city like Odesa (Odessa), or give them one Ukrainian surname or another, they STILL call them “Russian” – because readers think it’s sexy.

What We Find is the one and only time we are presented with a character from Ukraine in a book, and the author chose to make him a money-hungry guy looking to marry his way into America, a man who then tries to steal all the heroine’s money out from under her when they divorce.

This is racism. This is appalling stereotyping. And this is coming at a time where Ukraine is being invaded, tens of thousands killed, millions displaced and refugees (including people in my own family).

Imagine if it had been a Syrian or Iraqi character written this way, at this time…

In Robyn Carr’s last series she presented us with charming Russians who got happy-ever-afters. I’m not trying for a conspiracy theory, but the contrast between the author’s perceptions of the two warring nationalities is troubling.

Sometimes there’s One Little Thing in a book that turns me off it completely (e.g. comments about “dumb” blondes); this was one of those things.

It is such a minor piece of the book I’m sure anyone else who has read it would think I’ve lost my mind. However, it upset me. Deeply. Of all the nationalities in the world, why’d the author deliberately choose to kick Ukrainians when they’re down?

It’s a pity, because I’d planned to invest in this series for the long run.

I still might pick this one up again in the future, and keep going. I still might try book two. But my initial reaction was to stop cold and put the book aside, and if I get over it and move on with this otherwise wonderful author, it won’t be this week.