How not to offend millions of people.

In things I can’t believe I’m typing this morning …

A reminder: the hammer and sickle/the Soviet Union represents evil.

After a “cutesy” episode of Australian Story on the ABC, in which a bunch of Anglo Australians waved a communist flag around and did a “retro kitsch” tribute to Stalinist Russia, in which modern-day Russia was discussed as if it – and Putin memes = cute …

The hammer and sickle flag is illegal in much of the former USSR, right alongside the swastika. It’s illegal because it represents the genocides of the Ukrainian and Kazakh people, the total ethnic cleansing of the native people of Crimea, the deportation of the people of western Ukraine (including everyone in my family’s villages) to Siberian gulags, the deportation of tens of thousands of people from the Baltics, too.

It’s illegal because it represents Russian colonialism and the suppression or elimination of other racial and ethnic groups’ languages and cultures. Because it represents a century of mass murder and horror.

It is now an ideology Putin is using in his invasions of Georgia (which began in 2008, and is ongoing) and Ukraine (started in 2014, and ongoing).

I can’t believe this is something I have to explain, but – to my own horror – Australian author after Australian author shared the story yesterday, all with a comment to the effect of “look at this happy, good news story!”.

To wave that flag around without a care in the world is hurtful and harmful to the non-Russian people of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. This is something we just went through with My Kitchen Rules, when they pulled their “cutesy Stalin and Putin” retro communist ad.

Do better, people. There’s no excuse to not know that Soviet Russia was as evil and genocidal as Nazi Germany was.

The Week: 11th – 17th November

Noisy Friarbird Bottlebrush Bottle Brush Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 12th November 2019 1

Noisy Friarbird Bottlebrush Bottle Brush Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 12th November 2019 2

You know summer is on the way when the noisy friarbirds reappear in the garden! They are such funny-looking birds, but their calls are so weird they’re cute. They’re constantly chatting to each other.

It’s late Sunday morning here and I’m (sort of) working on edits for an upcoming book. It’s probably not something I should admit, but I’m pretty bored with the story at this point!

Want to Read: The Ukrainian and Russian Notebooks: Life and Death Under Soviet Rule by Igort

Manga Jane Eyre

On this day: the Coventry Blitz

Want to Read: The Ukrainian and Russian Notebooks: Life and Death Under Soviet Rule by Igort and Jamie Richards (Translator)

This book looks fascinating (in a horrible way). When the word “genocide” is mentioned in relation to the 20th century, people think of the Holocaust, and very occasionally of Rwanda. What they never remember is the genocides committed in the name of communism, such as Stalin’s genocides in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, and the genocide in Cambodia.

The book is also a look at the atrocities being committed by Putin in (and outside) present-day Russia.

This looks to be an important read.

The Ukrainian and Russian Notebooks Life and Death Under Soviet Rule by Igort and Jamie Richards (Translator)

The Ukrainian and Russian Notebooks: Life and Death Under Soviet Rule by Igort and Jamie Richards (Translator)

Written and illustrated by an award-winning artist and translated into English for the first time, Igort’s The Ukrainian and Russian Notebooks is a collection of two harrowing works of graphic nonfiction about life under Russian foreign rule.

After spending two years in Ukraine and Russia, collecting the stories of the survivors and witnesses to Soviet rule, masterful Italian graphic novelist Igort was compelled to illuminate two shadowy moments in recent history: the Ukraine famine and the assassination of a Russian journalist. Now he brings those stories to new life with in-depth reporting and deep compassion.

In The Russian Notebooks, Igort investigates the murder of award-winning journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkoyskaya. Anna spoke out frequently against the Second Chechen War, criticising Vladimir Putin. For her work, she was detained, poisoned, and ultimately murdered. Igort follows in her tracks, detailing Anna’s assassination and the stories of abuse, murder, abduction, and torture that Russia was so desperate to censor. In The Ukrainian Notebooks, Igort reaches further back in history and illustrates the events of the 1932 Holodomor. Little known outside of Ukraine, the Holodomor was a government-sanctioned famine, a peacetime atrocity during Stalin’s rule that killed anywhere from 1.8 to twelve million ethnic Ukrainians. Told through interviews with the people who lived through it, Igort paints a harrowing picture of hunger and cruelty under Soviet rule.

With elegant brush strokes and a stark color palette, Igort has transcribed the words and emotions of his subjects, revealing their intelligence, humanity, and honesty—and exposing the secret world of the former USSR.

The Week: 15th – 21st July

WinterVention Canberra Austrlaia OutDoor Ice Skating Canberra Theatre Centre Sonya Oksana Heaney 20th July 2019

burst

Winter outdoor ice skating and fairy lights in Canberra last night.

Blue Sky Sunny Winter's Day Queanbeyan to Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 19th July 2019 Nature

Crossing the state border from Queanbeyan (NSW) to Canberra on Friday afternoon.

Crazy Cat Grey Cat Sonya Heaney Canberra Australia 19th July 2019

The neighbour’s cat napping in my office on Friday. Despite what it looks like, he does actually have a head. And he’s so big he fell off the couch just after I took this picture!

My book is on NetGalley!

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney blog-sized

Five years since MH17

298-mh17-candles

The Dancing Plague of July 1518

Die_Wallfahrt_der_Fallsuechtigen_nach_MeulebeeckEngraving of Hendrik Hondius portrays three women affected by the dancing plague

Book Feature: London’s Best Kept Secret (Midnight Secrets #2) by Anabelle Bryant

London's Best Kept Secret (Midnight Secrets #2) by Anabelle Bryant

The Week: 24th – 30th June

Foggy Winter Morning Canberra Australia Crazy Cat Sonya Heaney 28th June 2019

The neighbours’ crazy cat, sleeping on my back deck instead of in his house on a very foggy Friday morning! (The day turned out sunny and bright in the end.)

I had some unexpected interruptions this week, which means I haven’t achieved everything on the dot-point list stuck above my computer!

My problem with not meeting my self-imposed writing goals is that I wanted to have two manuscripts completed and strong enough to send to editors before I head off mid-August for two months in Europe. Every day I miss a goal the stress piles on more. Oh dear…

I have many, many things to say about the rampant corruption in Western Europe that led to Russia being reinstated into PACE (the Council of Europe), but at this point I’ve pretty much given up on everyone. The West is being gleefully ignorant as they stumble right into World War Three.

Release Day for Sabrina Jeffries

project duchess (duke dynasty #1) by sabrina jeffries

100 Years Ago

The Week: 17th- 23rd June

My book is done! I’ve passed it back and forth with my editor six times, and now she has sent it off to the publisher. I plan to never read it again, in case I find glaring mistakes!

I was, however, rather excited to see myself popping up in advertising alongside some pretty big-name authors this week:

Sonya Heaney on Romance.com.au Coming Soon

On My Radar: The Last Days Of The Romanov Dancers by Kerri Turner

The Last Days Of The Romanov Dancers by Kerri Turner

My review of The Greek’s Pregnant Cinderella (Cinderella Seductions #2) by Michelle Smart

The Greek's Pregnant Cinderella (Cinderella Seductions #2) by Michelle Smart

Jennifer Weiner on the Power of Women’s Stories and Killing ‘Chick Lit’

Jennifer Weiner on the Power of Women's Stories and Killing 'Chick Lit' Mrs Everything.

London Calling by Veronica Forand

London Calling by Veronica Forand

Small town police officer Emma Ross loves her simple life––but it takes a hard turn into crazy when she’s kidnapped by MI6 and is put under the protection of an over-bearing, albeit sexy, Scotsman. A man who believes she’s lying to protect her father—a father whom she had no idea worked for British Intelligence and is now missing.

Liam Macknight’s partner was assassinated and he’s certain Emma’s father had something to do with it. But the stubborn woman isn’t talking, and she’s determined to get herself killed trying to find out the truth. Locking her in a room does no good––he tried that. So he’s forced to work with her, even if he’s not sure he’ll ever be able to trust her.

When he’s assigned to kill her dad to protect the identity of British spies in the Kremlin, he knows what little trust they’ve gained is about to be destroyed forever…

London Calling by Veronica Forand

I haven’t read much romantic suspense lately, but I’ve been meaning to change that, and the plot of London Calling sounded pretty interesting. Espionage? Kremlin shenanigans? London? Great.

Veronica Forand has a knack for writing suspense stories, and – honestly – it’s a hard genre to get right. Getting those action scenes you have in your head onto the page so they read the way you’ve imagined them is SO much harder than it seems, but Forand can do it.

The author has also done some good research. Some authors in the genre don’t bother with all the little details, and write about their settings and the government agencies their characters deal with in very bland terms, but that’s not the case with this book. The details are there, and a look at the author’s blog tells me she takes her research seriously.

However, I feel the need to do a bit of nitpicking: WHY do all the British characters speak in perfect American English? It’s the basic stuff that’s wrong: vacation instead of holiday, asshole instead of arsehole, windshield instead of windscreen, cookies instead of biscuits, pants instead of trousers. And “buddy” is a term of endearment I’ve only ever heard in North America.

This is just British English #101, and I feel like an editor should have noticed if the author did not.

However, I’ll forgive her the mix-up with Eastern European naming customs (different gender; different surname), as it wasn’t a major thing in the book.

That aside, I’m always happy to dip back into the romantic suspense genre to find someone who knows how to write their action and adventure, and this was an original plotline borrowing from present-day events – exactly the sort of suspense I want to read.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Uh, Book Depository?

Striking Distance Pamela Clare Vladimir Putin Life Coach

For weeks now, I’ve been getting generated ads from The Book Depository on every second website I visit. And the two books above? They’re the two the company keeps recommending for me.

The Navy SEAL hero of Pamela Clare’s Striking Distance (read recently; reviewed soon) is a little different to wannabe macho man Vladimir Putin, who only a few days ago failed miserably – and publicly – at riding a horse (skip to 35 seconds into the video for a laugh), putting to rest the propaganda lie that he sexily rides around Russia topless.

Go and buy Striking Distance – it’s good. Vladimir Putin: Life Coach? Not so much.

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