The Week: 13th – 19th July

Canberra MH17 Service 26th July 2014

It has been one year since Russian terrorists shot down MH17. So much has happened since then, and since we organised and hosted the service for all the ambassadors and politicians. I can’t believe it has already been a year, and at the same time I can hardly believe it has already been a year.

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RIP to Formula One driver Jules Bianchi, who died at the beginning of the weekend. I was watching the race from Barcelona in October last year when he had his horrific crash, which eventually led to his death. I have never seen such a frightening crash.

I typed 36 000 words of a manuscript this week – Monday to Friday. 36 000 words! I think that was a little too much for five days.

As far as reading went this has been a pretty lacklustre week. I started a number of very “blah” books, and even searching all over NetGalley I was having trouble finding anything to get excited about. Maybe the August – October time period isn’t the best for new books… I still seem to be reading a lot of Western historicals, which is nothing like my usual fare. Maybe I need the change.

These aren’t ads, they’re screenshots!

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I’m finding Goodreads unusable at the moment. While I know you can use software to block annoying ads, I don’t see why I should have to for this ONE site. These ads above are animated, meaning the creepy-looking women move nonstop in them, and they are on EVERY page. It makes Goodreads look like some dodgy torrent site, and it’s too distracting to post there.

High quality ads, too. Because we *totally* use the word “Mom” here in Canberra. Yeah, sure.

Those “Strong Heroines”

US Navy SEAL Training.

Cover Love

Sugar Creek by Toni Blake

My review of Shadow of a Doubt (The Tangled Ivy Trilogy #2) by Tiffany Snow

Shadow of a Doubt (The Tangled Ivy Trilogy #2) by Tiffany Snow

My review of Outlaw Hearts (Outlaw Hearts #1) by Rosanne Bittner

Outlaw Hearts (Outlaw Hearts #1) by Rosanne Bittner

My review of Beauty and the Rake (The Rookery Rogues Book 3) by Erica Monroe

Beauty and the Rake (The Rookery Rogues Book 3) by Erica Monroe

My review of A New Hope (Thunder Point #8) by Robyn Carr

A New Hope (Thunder Point #8) by Robyn Carr

Outlaw Hearts (Outlaw Hearts #1) by Rosanne Bittner

Outlaw Hearts (Outlaw Hearts #1) by Rosanne Bittner

At twenty, Miranda Hayes had known more than her share of heartache and loss. Widowed by the war, orphaned by a vicious band of rebel raiders, she was a woman alone in a harsh, unyielding frontier. Then she clashed with the notorious gunslinger Jake Harkner, a hard-hearted loner with a price on his head, and found within herself a deep well of courage…and feelings of desire she’d never known.

Hunted by lawmen and desperadoes alike, haunted by his brutal past, Jake had spent a lifetime on the dusty trail–and on the run. Until he met a vibrant, honey-haired beauty who was determined to change his violent ways, who loved him enough to risk her life to be his woman…an outlaw’s woman.

From the vast plains of the Midwest across the Oregon Trail to the sun-drenched valleys of southern California, from the blazing Nevada desert to the boomtowns of Colorado, Miranda and Jake struggled to endure amid the perils of a lawless wilderness. In a world of heart-stopping danger and burning desire, could their hard-won love survive the shadows that stalked their happiness?

Outlaw Hearts (Outlaw Hearts #1) by Rosanne Bittner

This is a rerelease of a book first published in 1993, and it was much better than I expected. As this was the same year other – ahem – “stellar” historical romances such as Pirate by Fabio were published, I wasn’t sure what I was going to get. The rerelease comes with the release of the sequel.

Pirate Fabio

Outlaw Hearts seems to be an eternal favourite with readers older than me (I was in sixth grade when this was released), and I can see why that may be, even if I was torn between loving huge parts of it, and cringing at others.

This book just kept going, didn’t it?! Written back in the era of long family sagas, I had to adjust my thinking while reading, because by the one-third mark the characters were already in love, married, had children and were living on their new ranch on the other side of America.

In other words, this book covers a lot of years in their lives, which is nothing like historical romances of today. I do love some longer sagas, such as Sara Donati’s Into the Wilderness, so it all depends on the quality of the book.

Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati

The good is that there is action and adventure and a real historical feeling involved in the story. If you want your tough alpha men, you’re more likely to realistically find them in this sort of story than in pretty clothes in a ballroom. I do get sick of authors bending over backwards to make their Regency dukes muscular he-men action stars!

I don’t know where each reader’s moral compass is, but Jake did commit an awful lot of crimes, including murder. It all sort of gets brushed aside and forgotten, despite his endless agonising over not being good enough for Miranda.

I like that back in the 1990s the historical romances were more daring with what they tackled. Things weren’t quite as samey as they sometimes feel now.

I was NO fan of the way characters were named. Firstly, while Miranda is lovely, she always went by Randy. Which is not only a man’s name, but also slang for a man desperate for sex – immediately! And perhaps the villain could have been named something a little less obvious than Clarence Gaylord!!

The book does date itself sometimes. I swear, if I read once more about hero putting his “life” into heroine during bedroom scenes, my Kindle was going to shake right out of my hands with my laughter. The lengthy conversations about the benefits of spanking your children. And I really don’t need to read about the hero fantasising what it would have been like to have sex with the heroine back when she was a young girl and a virgin…

I think if you readjust your expectations of the genre, back to the way these books used to be, this is an enjoyable read. It’s certainly nothing like the god-awful Pirate (yes, I did buy a copy of that one as a joke!).

In fact, I’d like to see some more of the themes of Outlaw Hearts popping up in today’s historical romances. It might help revive the genre.

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 1st – 7th September

Blossoms at Sunset Canberra Australia 2nd September 2014 Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney

Spring! We have blossoms everywhere in Canberra, but I won’t be seeing them for long because we’re flying to Spain on Wednesday (and then Sweden afterwards). So no more Sunday posts for over a month.

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The Russia of today. Nothing needs to be said.

I need to get back to my review books, but I’ve been reading books I actually bought for myself, which means I’ve been enjoying reading So Much! I read lots of great review books, but catching up on favourite authors for a while has been great fun (if expensive!).

Now I’m all caught up on Patricia Briggs’ books – no more left to read at the moment! It’s so annoying when you finish a few fantastic books and crave more of the same, but there isn’t anything like it.

My review of Desperate Hearts by Rosanne Bittner

Desperate Hearts by Rosanne Bittner

My review of My Highland Spy by Victoria Roberts

My Highland Spy by Victoria Roberts

My review of A Winter Wedding by Amanda Forester

A Winter Wedding by Amanda Forester

My review of His Most Suitable Bride by Renee Ryan

His Most Suitable Bride by Renee Ryan

My review of Winning Ruby Heart by Jennifer Lohmann

Winning Ruby Heart by Jennifer Lohmann

Desperate Hearts by Rosanne Bittner

Desperate Hearts by Rosanne Bittner

Elizabeth Wainwright is on the run. Accused of a murder she didn’t commit, she has no choice but to cut ties with her old life and flee West. The last thing she wants is attention, but when her stagecoach is attacked, she suddenly finds herself under the fierce protection of one of Montana’s famed vigilantes…whether she likes it or not.

Lawman Mitch Brady is sworn to uphold justice. He’s never met a man he’s feared, and he’s never met a woman more desperately in need of his help. Something’s shaken the secretive Elizabeth, but as he gets to know the beautiful city belle, he finds the only thing he wants more than her safety…is her trust. Elizabeth longs to give herself to Mitch, but when her past finally catches up with her, can she truly trust her life to the vigilante who’s stolen her heart?

Desperate Hearts by Rosanne Bittner

My experience of Westerns is pretty limited. In reading, it’s only a handful of books, and otherwise it’s more or less a combination of Back to the Future Part Three and Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman.

Honestly, this book seemed a little like a combination of both, only with younger characters and more shooting. Because, oh boy, is there a lot of shooting in this version of the Wild West! I lost track of how many people were shot, hanged or otherwise gravely injured. In fact, I’m not sure how the town they lived in continued to exist – how they kept the population going!

Western historical romance is a totally different genre to other historical romance. From the characters, to the language, to the lifestyle, to the plot tropes. They tend to have very young heroines (Elizabeth/Emma is eighteen). They tend to have a lot of grim and grimy situations. They tend to be a little more wrapped up in morals – which contrast starkly with the drinking, boozing, prostituting secondary characters.

This book played out a lot like Dr Quinn episode, but with a bit more grit. It’s an unfamiliar world to me, but the author clearly did some heavy research about how people lived back then. I appreciated that, even if some of the medical things seemed a little off.

I enjoyed the plot, and I’d like to read more books like this. I didn’t particularly enjoy how many people were raped (off the page), shot, hanged, arrested, beaten. It was done to excess, which meant the characters never had time to deal with one major, traumatic incident before they had to move onto the next.

I guess this book was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed reading it – and read it very fast – but I wished there was a little more time to develop the characters and their relationships and a little less time focusing on girls being raped and men having guns shot out of their hands.

I will be looking out for more Westerns, however.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.