The Week: 9th – 15th December

Bushfire sunset in Canberra

Merry Christmas! I know it’s too early, but we’re celebrating today because we’re going away next week.

Canberra Smoke Heatwave Bushfires December 2019

The bushfire haze in Canberra has been horrendous. It’s hot, and for days there was smoke in your eyes and your throat even if you stayed inside. I live surrounded by mountains, and the smoke was so thick I couldn’t see them anymore. Now the west of the country is on fire, too.

The volcano disaster in New Zealand dominated the news here this week because the majority of the people killed and injured were Australian. It’s horrific.

Virgin River Episodes 1-3

Virgin River Robyn Carr Books Netflix Adaptation

Cover Love

HOLIDAY HOMECOMING SECRETS by Lynette Eason

How’s this for a neighbourhood library?!

Woman Transforms Rotting Tree In Her Yard Into Charming Neighbourhood Library Winter

Virgin River Episodes 1-3

Virgin River Robyn Carr Books Netflix Adaptation

All right, I have to say this first because I’m seeing a lot of people talking nonsense online: Virgin River is based on a book series that began well over a decade ago. It is NOT a copy of Hart of Dixie.

Now I’ve said that, I shall move on to my review!

The most important question: do I like the Netflix adaptation of Virgin River? YES! I like it much more than I expected to, have laughed out loud several times, and will continue to watch the rest of the season.

Is it perfect? Nup and nope, but overall I think they’ve done a good job.

The Great:

Alexandra Breckenridge as Melinda Monroe Virgin River Robyn Carr

Alexandra Breckenridge as Melinda Monroe

When I saw the first picture from the set (on Instagram, below) I knew they’d cast a good Mel. What I didn’t know was that they’d cast an outstanding Mel.

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If you were to ask me who my most hated book character of all time is, I’d say Mel without hesitation. That Breckenridge has made her into a wonderful, rounded character I love is a pretty huge achievement.

The medical stuff is under control.

The thing I always found off-putting in the books was the obsession with detailed medical procedures. It squicked me out and I thought a lot of it was totally unnecessary. It’s so much better in the show – and in the background, where it belongs.

It also means “annoying, bossy Mel” has been toned down. She doesn’t get as many scenes to lecture everyone in.

Daniel Gillies as Mark

daniel-gillies-as-mark-virgin-river-robyn-carr

I want to marry this character. He doesn’t appear on the page in the series, but I’m very glad to meet him here.

Annette O’Toole as Hope McCrea

Yes, her character is nothing like the woman in the books, but I’m loving this version of Hope. She’s hilarious and I don’t mind that they’ve enormously expended her part.

The Good:

Tim Matheson as Doc

I’m liking him more and more as the series goes on.

The Not-So-Good:

Martin Henderson as Jack Sheridan

virgin-river-tv-series Book

I had my doubts when I saw the picture on Instagram, and I’ve been proven right. It doesn’t help that Daniel Gillies is so good in his role (we’re not meant to love Mark more than Jack!). Many a person stuck with the book series specifically because of Jack’s character, and so he was going to have to be outstanding.

So far he’s someone I’d have a chat with, not marry. And – sorry – but his character is supposed to be around my age, and this version of Jack looks old enough to be my father.

Also, the little addiction side story they’ve thrown in is totally unnecessary.

Character heights and sizes.

SO MUCH is made of these huge, tough Marine Corps guys in the books. I know Hollywood is populated with men who are smaller than they look on the screen, but when Mel and Jack and Preacher are all a similar size? Doesn’t work.

The Bad:

The changes made to Preacher and Paige.

Paige Chris Preacher Virgin River

Now, I’m not blaming the actors here. They’re both doing an outstanding job with what was written for them. The problem is that these characters bear no resemblance whatsoever to their book characters, and their storyline is unrecognisable.

It was a clever move to make Preacher a POC, and if you take a look at the books they never actually say he’s white. I’ve commented many times in the past that author Robyn Carr has both a problem writing diversity, and is sometimes outright racist.

My issue with Preacher: where’s our shy, gentle giant gone? Why is the man of few words relentlessly lecturing Jack about his personal life? What on earth is going on … ?

As for Paige: book Paige runs away to Virgin River with her son, and I can understand that the scriptwriters thought this made her story too similar to Mel’s. I would have been fine with her already living in the town (as she does in the show). What I’m not okay with is her running a flipping bakery truck. In a tiny town where it’s snowy and cold.

Surely the writers could have come up with something better than that, because I honestly think it’s incredibly stupid …

And, so …

Books and shows are different beasts, and while a good book can’t be episodic, TV practically demands it. Cliffhangers have to be thrown in, and so I can forgive quite a few of the changes. (My scriptwriting tutor from university would be overjoyed to hear me say this!)

Overall I’m pretty fine with how the show is going, even if Jack’s not my guy and even though Preacher and Paige are suffering from some serious character assassination. Mel, Hope and Doc make up for it.

Despite my issues I’d recommend Virgin River to anyone who wants a bit of a laugh to go with their drama.

The Week: 2nd – 8th December

It’s nearly Christmas, and I really think I need another month to get organised! The fires here have got worse and worse. The fire has burnt all the way to the sea, and there’s really hot weather on the way in the coming days.

After the strife superstar author Christine Feehan got in, first for filing to trademark common words, and then for defending her actions, she seems to have pulled the application. However, it seems everyone writing vampire fiction could do with reading this:

Hey, Christine Feehan! You don’t own the Carpathians!

Huculy_1933,_Verkhovyna_district Hutsuls Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains

And this Tweet pretty much sums up the situation:

KJ Charles Twitter Christine Feehan Trademark Carpathian

Virgin River Premiere!

Virgin River TV Series

My review of Someone to Honour (Westcott family #6) by Mary Balogh

Someone to Honour Someone to Honor (Westcott #6) by Mary Balogh

The Week: 25th November – 1st December

Bushfires approaching Canberra on Friday night. Credit and bigger versions HERE.

It was a scary week for the Canberra region, with out of control bushfires everywhere. On Thursday the air filled with smoke at sunset, and when I went outside to look the entire valley was inundated. Our city has burnt before, and as we’re 100% surrounded by mountains and bushland, these times are terrifying for us.

Trailer for Virgin River!

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Cover Love

The Goodbye Café (The Hudson Sisters #3) by Mariah Stewart

The Week: 4th – 10th November

Friday afternoon writing view Sonya Heaney Author Coke Cat Coffee Canberra Australia Book 8th November 2019

Friday afternoon writing view: Coke, cat, coffee, Lisa Kleypas book – and the table runner bunched up because a certain grey feline likes to attack it …

My oh-so neat, easy-to-understand, high-tech way of plotting a book! Sonya Heaney Author Historical Romance 7th November 2019

I’m working on a new book! And my plotting process is a mess! This comes after sending my next book off to my editor at the start of the week.

Release Day for Mary Balogh

Someone to Remember (2019 Westcott series #7) A novel by Mary Balogh

Premiere Date for Virgin River

Cover Love

The Earl's Betrothal by Karen Tuft

Premiere Date for Virgin River

Virgin River TV Series

The premiere of the Netflix adaptation of Robyn Carr’s Virgin River books is the 6th of December.

I’m sorry, but even though I think the Mel actress looks great, every time I see this guy as Jack I think he looks worse (and worse and worse). So much for Mr Crew Cut Marine! On the other hand, I do really like the actor in other things, so I’ll reserve judgement until I actually see him acting the part. My biggest casting surprise ever was with someone I thought was HORRIBLE for a role, and then I loved them when I saw them perform onstage.

There have been some major changes to other characters from the books. I anticipated a lot of the alterations (e.g. some much-needed diversity, though I never thought they’d age Paige and Preacher by 15-20 years!). We’ll see how ardent fans react …

The Week: 14th – 20th October

Spring Flowers Canberra Australia Pink Purple Garden Sonya Oksana Heaney 16th October 2019

Spring in Canberra

Big week as far as my writing went. Things are really starting to move ahead with my next book.

I started a new history/book Tumblr blog a few days ago. If you’re interested, it’s here:

Sonya Heaney Author

Also this week:

Book News!

Escape Cover Brief Header Sonya Heaney Second Book March 2020

Recently Reread: Virgin River and Shelter Mountain by Robyn Carr

Robyn Carr Virgin River Series

Book Feature: The Light in the Labyrinth by Wendy J. Dunn

Recently Reread: Virgin River and Shelter Mountain by Robyn Carr

In anticipation of the upcoming TV adaptation of Robyn Carr’s Virgin River books, I’ve been rereading some of the early books in the series. I’m so familiar with them I’m now not sure I even needed to!

Carr’s series got so popular because she created a place everyone wants to live. They initially became a big hit a little over a decade ago, when we were going through a dark spot in history, and I think that’s exactly why they’re popular now.

Robyn Carr Virgin River Series

Virgin River

Wanted: Midwife/nurse practitioner in Virgin River, population six hundred. Make a difference against a backdrop of towering California redwoods and crystal clear rivers. Rent-free cabin included.

When the recently widowed Melinda Monroe sees this ad, she quickly decides that the remote mountain town of Virgin River might be the perfect place to escape her heartache, and to reenergise the nursing career she loves. But her high hopes are dashed within an hour of arriving—the cabin is a dump, the roads are treacherous and the local doctor wants nothing to do with her. Realising she’s made a huge mistake, Mel decides to leave town the following morning.

But a tiny baby abandoned on a front porch changes her plans…and former marine Jack Sheridan cements them into place.

Shelter Mountain

For the second time in a year a woman arrives in the small town of Virgin River trying to escape the past.

John “Preacher” Middleton is about to close the bar when a young woman and her three-year-old son come in out of a wet October night. A marine who has seen his share of pain, Preacher knows a crisis when he sees one—the woman is covered in bruises. He wants to protect them, and he wants to punish whoever did this to her, but he knows immediately that this inclination to protect is something much more. Paige Lassiter has stirred up emotions in this gentle giant of a man—emotions that he has never allowed himself to feel.

But when Paige’s ex-husband turns up in Virgin River, Preacher knows his own future hangs in the balance. And if there’s one thing in the marines’ motto of Semper Fidelis—always faithful—has taught him, it’s that some things are worth fighting for.