Four Years

Some 60,000 Russian troops deployed in Crimea today – experts

Today is the fourth anniversary of Putin’s fake, rigged referendum and “official” annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea.

Since then the Crimean Tatars have suffered heavy persecution, torture, and murder, as have other Ukrainians. The Russians have begun pulling down historical Crimean palaces and buildings, and the peninsula has essentially been turned into a Russian military fortification.

No doubt the man will do something awful to commemorate the event in Russia – he loves dates and anniversaries…

To Australians (and everyone else!): what not to do this weekend.

Oliver Stone illegally hanging out with one of the world’s most wanted men.

Please don’t watch Oliver Stone’s pro-Putin propaganda “documentary” that is starting in Australia this weekend (and I believe is on about the same time in other countries). Please just don’t.

It is no different to watching and supporting a film praising Hitler.

And, for the love of God, don’t become one of those authors who watches the well-crafted lies, gets all turned around, and recommends Stone’s propaganda to their substantial fanbase on Facebook!!

Stone is a Western mouthpiece for the Kremlin, and has close family connections to Moscow propaganda network “RT News” – previously known as Russia Today, but they don’t want you to remember that.

(By the way, it’d be nice if authors stopped sharing RT stories on Twitter and Facebook – just because it’s in English and comes up on top of search results doesn’t mean it’s safe, or *true*.).

RT is already illegal in some countries because it spreads dangerous lies.

There’s heaps to do on a Sunday. But watching this nonsense about Putin should not be one of them. It’s immoral, and SBS TV – allegedly Australia’s champion for truth and justice and human rights – should be ashamed for allowing it on their station. Despite years of campaigning by the Ukrainian community, they also refuse to remove RT News – with its endless fake news stories about Ukrainians crucifying Russian babies and flying swastikas in the streets – from their network.

Read a book. Have a glass of wine or four. SLEEP!! But please have some morals this weekend and boycott SBS.

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!

The Week: 27th March – 2nd April

Evening Autumn Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Garden Nature 26th March 2017 2

Canberra Autumn

Driving home from lunch with Ukrainian embassy people on Thursday. Storm clouds coming over Australian Parliament.

Yesterday I finally – finally – saw some autumn colours. Not many, but it’s a start. It has been a strange year, with an overly hot March.

We planned to go the Versailles exhibition at the National Gallery yesterday (Canberra has a huge collection of things on loan from the palace in France), but could literally not find a parking spot anywhere in the Parliamentary Triangle (at least on the correct side of the lake!). Not at the gallery, not at the National Portrait Gallery, not at Old Parliament House, not at the National Science and Technology Centre, not at the National Library!

So we went to the Kingston Foreshore and had a long, late lunch instead.

Older shot of the foreshore, because my pictures from yesterday are… not good.

Here’s a popular Victorian-era April Fools’ Day joke. The day is going out of fashion, but I did actually see a few half-convincing hoaxes around this year, for the first time in ages.

However, I also thought some real news stories (one of them about Trump) were April Fools jokes, they were so outrageous! But then I remembered it was still Friday the 31st of March in other countries when it was Saturday the 1st of April here.

Now for a little bit of sexism from this week:

Does anything really need to be said about the Daily Mail and rampant sexism? Nah, this is actually classier than most of the stories they run, as sad as that is.

Maybe the people at that paper can’t cope with most of the British Isles being run by women!

There’s a lot that can be said about world politics this week, none of it good. I’ll just say this about the Mike Flynn-Russia picture above:

That’s the RT News (Russia Today) gala from December 2015. That means one of Trump’s “top people” thought it was okay to hang out with Putin nearly two years into his war in Ukraine that has claimed thousands upon thousands upon thousands of lives.

Above is the RT logo. They rebranded themselves so nobody realises it’s the Kremlin propaganda “news” channel. If you Google the news, please don’t click on links to their stories, even if they seem legitimate. They pull you in with regular stories and then slip lies in. It’s how they’ve been waging war on Ukraine, and how they helped Trump win.

My review of I Dared the Duke (The Wayward Wallflowers #2) by Anna Bennett

Man returns library book after thirty-five years.

“Some possibly unpopular thoughts” – by Isobel Carr

Margaret Atwood sets Trump supporters straight on Handmaid’s Tale controversy.

‘Beauty and the Beast’ is a lot creepier when it’s not a cartoon

Brooding YA Hero

The Week: 30th January – 5th February

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Tuesday sunset in Canberra

I am heading to Venice on Friday, and I have NOT packed! I am off to Spain again a few months later, and have just been in Europe for two months, and I’m becoming a bit blasé about it.

We are ALMOST at the end of our nonstop run of present-giving events for another year. We have two Christmases (old and new calendars), and then almost every family birthday – all in the space of a month and a half. By the end it is nearly impossible to think of anything to give.

We finish with my birthday on Tuesday, but when we get back from Europe in March we start up with Easter (again – we have two)!

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The war in Ukraine FINALLY made it back into the news this week, because Russia picked the Donald Trump distraction as an excellent time to step up their invasion of Ukraine. Now the media is calling it “Europe’s forgotten war” – and here I am thinking: no European should ever have “forgotten” that thousands of people are dying on their own continent while they pay attention to others!

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Donald Trump is on a roll. He is making enemies of pretty much everyone on the planet, and again took a swipe at Australia this week. Not that he needs to work hard: we already hate the man!

My review of Mogul (The Knickerbocker Club #3) by Joanna Shupe

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My review of Wed by Necessity (Smoky Mountain Matches #10) by Karen Kirst

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Coming up for Lisa Kleypas

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New Cover for Madeline Hunter

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Book to watch out for?

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Cover Love

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Goodbye, 2016.

Good stuff first, because when I get to thinking back on the year I realise I was sick or injured for much of 2016 (more of that near the end), and unfortunately Putin and Trump still exist!

One good thing: I did quite a lot of travel this year, both nationally and internationally.

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One of the houses we rented in Southern Italy. Having breakfast and then evening swims there, on a massive property just for us…? A definite highlight of my travels in recent years. Especially after two months of being sick and injured!

Cool things happened, like the fact we accidentally ended up in Spello in Italy during one of the country’s most famous festivals – the Infiorate, where they decorate the entire town with flower petal designs, and well over a hundred-thousand people attend. And we were there by accident, staying in a building that is actually a tourist attraction and part of the event (we didn’t know that when we booked, either!). So odd to be eating breakfast and having tourists coming in with their cameras!

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Beautiful Lviv, Ukraine. What a pity I was extremely sick for this whole visit!

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Hanging out with soldiers in Lviv. They were on a few days’ leave from the war for Easter, and then heading straight back to the warzone. It’s Ukrainian Easter, as you can see by the giant Easter egg in front of the Opera House!

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Memorials to Ukrainians killed by pro-Russian and actual Russian snipers in the 2013-2014 revolution in Kyiv. The snipers were above the big clock on the ground, and near those trees, and they shot dozens of unarmed civilians.

Building the memorial to the Ukrainians killed by pro-russian and russian dsnipers in Kyiv. Sonya Heaney OKsana. 2016.

More memorials to the dead (it is just being set up in this picture; the Canadian Prime Minister visited soon after). There were also snipers in the hotel on the right of the picture. The brown, wooden, traditional Ukrainian church at the back of the picture is new – part of the memorial – and they had a collection for the war.

vKmLZIug

Plus, Ukraine shocked everyone and won Eurovision while I was in Kyiv – which means Moscow is VERY upset and threatening a boycott for 2017. The winner is a Crimean Tatar who absolutely considers herself Ukrainian.

And literal cool stuff happened: Europe had a shocking summer, which meant we got snow both in our month in Ukraine AND in our month in Italy. It was an interesting “summer” trip!

Rex

Gorgeous, SOFT Rex. I miss him very much!

As I seem to every year now, I had some unexpected animal experiences. Rex and Trixie, two gorgeous cats, moved in next door to be looked after by our neighbours for a year, and for months there wasn’t a day that went by where I didn’t wake up with Rex sleeping on top of me (the strangest one was being sound asleep and dreaming about something weird and heavy on my stomach, only to lift the covers and find someone else’s cat sound asleep there!).

Rex Burmese Cat Cute

You can literally SEE how soft he is!

I’ve spent the past few years looking after stray cats – and now these cats – but I’m still yet to have a cat of my own. It would be irresponsible when we travel so much.

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Of course, there were also all our crazy native, wild birds who adopt us every spring and summer. Australian magpies (not the same birds as magpies overseas) live for two to three decades, and they think we are part of their family. If I leave my bedroom curtains open they stand there and stare and sing and bash their beaks on the window at me from about 5:30am, to try and get me up to give them a snack.

And – despite all the racism and anti-immigration sentiment in the world at the moment – my cousin’s Turkish fiancé was granted his Australian residency, which meant they could finally marry.

Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney Mia Jacyshyn Nadia's Wedding. Sydney Australia 6th August 2016.

Hanging out after the wedding on Sydney Harbour (duh!). Me, my mother, and one of my aunts.

Even if most elections in the world (USA, Brexit, and Australia’s federal election, for example) all took a sharp turn to the extremist, far-right, at least here in Canberra we voted for sanity and progression. There don’t seem to be many places left in the world where that is the case. It’s the 1930s again, with the fascist attitudes just before the Second World War on the rise again, and nobody seeming to care.

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Me being excited and taking a BAD picture of the TV on Canberra’s election night.

Here, the “Liberal” Party is actually our right-wing, conservative party. Our country is weird. And we spell it “Labor” instead of Labour because more than a century ago some US politician came here and told us we have to use American English if we want to be progressive. And so we did…

Andrew Barr is one of the few openly gay political leaders… well, anywhere, as far as I know. I am proud to be from Canberra when most of Australia is so fascist these days.

I AM thoroughly tired of voting, however. It is compulsory here, and so I have been voting, or been spammed by politics, all year. Even on our trip to Italy they were campaigning for the local elections, and I got caught up in it!

Now, the BAD stuff…

People have called 2016 “the worst year ever”, but I’m not sure that’s accurate. It was a terrible year for people in English-speaking countries who aren’t fans of fascism, but for the people really suffering in the world at the moment, it all began long before this year. The war in Syria has been going a long time. Russia invaded Ukraine 2.5 years ago, and there were already millions of refugees (including in my own family) long before the year began. It’s old news now, but people never care until it is all about THEM, and 2016 was the year bad stuff touched the countries people consider to “matter”.

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However, what a frightening year! I’m thoroughly sick of the whole topic of Trump, Putin and all their cronies. People are becoming more misogynistic, bigoted, and racist. People are becoming more selfish, and care nothing at all for anybody beyond their own countries’ borders.

But hey – I’ve been saying that for years!

Norcia Italy Sonya Oksana Heaney June 2016

norcia-earthquake-destruction-30th-october-2016

Poor Norcia, before and after earthquakes. It is one of my favourite places in the world, and now it is destroyed (the top picture is mine, from June this year.)

What makes me sad about 2016 is the destruction. The natural disasters. I am starting to think I’m a curse on famous landmarks around the world. I was in Christchurch in New Zealand right before the city was destroyed in an earthquake. Before that, (though this one isn’t a natural disaster), I was living in Korea right before a madman burnt down their most famous landmark, the Namdaemun gate, a place I visited about every second weekend.

And now? All those earthquakes that destroyed the centre of Italy happened in all the places I visited this year.

2016 wasn’t all bad, but it seems as though my months in Ukraine and Italy happened years ago, not months ago. My family in Ukraine is suffering very badly, and the older ladies in the family are sick or have just died. The Russian invasion continues.

The more I think about it, the more I remember I was badly sick and/or injured for almost the whole year, from a dislocated knee in Sydney, to a broken hand in Italy, to a ruptured eardrum that left me deaf for the whole month I was in Ukraine, to a terrible disease (the Kremlin is importing illnesses into Ukraine as part of their warfare), where I literally could not speak AT ALL for weeks – that made meeting strangers fun (and at a few points it was incredibly embarrassing)! Plus, I had some painful eye problems (my eyesight is so weak, and my contact lens prescription so strong, that optometrists just about have a heart attack every time I go to a new person). Then on top of all of that I’ve started eating a gluten-free diet because I was becoming nauseous and faint from eating like a regular person. I miss all my favourite foods and drinks!

What a mess! I sound like a drama queen…

I guess the best word to describe 2016 is “dramatic”. Or maybe even “melodramatic”. I think we all learnt a few upsetting, hard truths about our fellow humans. From the neo-Nazi murdering Jo Cox – and it still not having any influence over the Brexit result, to the Russian football hooligans who went on violent and murderous rampages in France, to the terror attacks pretty much everywhere, to the fact so many millions of Americans who disrespect women so much they voted for “grab her by the pussy”, this year we learnt that the average human being isn’t as decent as we’d hoped they were.

I’d like to say 2017 will be better, but I’m not so sure about that… I do wonder where all these monsters are, however. Because, from the people I see regularly at my favourite cafés and bars, to the American tourists I met in Italy who are ashamed of Trump (including those from Republican states), I seem to mostly meet decent people. Where is this silent majority ruining it for the rest of us??

The Week: 12th – 18th December

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Our summer roses, still managing to grow, despite some hot, sunny days.

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Summer Sunset

So, this week, after more than 1.5 years, Daniela’s murderer and rapist was sentenced, after finally being forced to confess (and after being filmed running from police after being recognised). He didn’t get the worst sentence, but he did get a couple of decades.

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Good to see this week that the frighteningly pro-Russian and anti-Ukrainian (even after MH17!) Dutch finally ruled the large collection of ancient gold artifacts from Crimea, that were on display in the Netherlands when Russia invaded Ukraine, must go back to Ukraine. Sure, it’s about the only thing anyone has done to help since the invasion and annexation of Crimea, but it’s something – for once.

so-another-year-of-russian-aggression-and-another-year-our-christmas-cards-to-relatives-cannot-reach-the-warzone-where-russia-is-still-invading-ukraine-not-that-it-makes-the-news-anymore

Another year, and another set of Christmas cards to Ukrainian family returned because of the war with Russia.

My review of More Than Friends (Kendrick Place) by Jody Holford

more-than-friends-kendrick-place-by-jody-holford

My review of Pony Express Christmas Bride (Saddles and Spurs) by Rhonda Gibson

pony-express-christmas-bride-saddles-and-spurs-by-rhonda-gibson

Book-Based Christmas Movie

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What I’ll be picking up this week.

under-the-christmas-tree-a-virgin-river-novel-by-robyn-carrbring-me-home-for-christmas-a-virgin-river-novel-by-robyn-carr

Cover Love

Bound by a Scandalous Secret

One of the funnier titles with “Christmas” in it…

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The Week: 8th – 14th August

Monday Winter Sunset Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 8th August 2016 Sky Garden Clouds Nature

Winter Sunset

And another one:

Winter Sunset Canberra Australia. 12th August 2016. Sonya Heaney. Sky Clouds Nature.

King Parrot Canberra Australia Sonya Oksana Heaney 9th August 2016 Winter Flowers Garden Nature 2

King Parrot Canberra Australia Sonya Oksana Heaney 9th August 2016 Winter Flowers Garden Nature 3

This week we discovered why all of the flowers out the back keep getting demolished! We’ve had petals everywhere for a few weeks!

And all our other birds have started turning up – it’s nearly spring, and they come to the door for snacks. On Wednesday we had magpie visitors for the first time this season.

It is very sunny here every day, and I’m starting to feel the allergies coming, but I can’t wait! 🙂

Because I’m often up really late at night, and because we are nearly a full day ahead of the Americas, I have been watching some of the Olympics live in the middle of the night. I can’t believe how many drug cheats there still are. While the US is at (verbal) war with Russia in the pool, we are being attacked by China (and hacked, and abused in their media) because one of our swimmers called a drug cheat… a drug cheat. Who says sport isn’t political!

“Medals over Morals” was what an official said about the Russian doping program. I like it. 🙂

Russian military convoy in Kerch yesterday evening http-liveuamap.com-en-2016-7-august-russian-military-convoy-in-kerch-yesterday-evening … via @HromadskeRadio

What has been happening while the world has been watching Rio. X

While everyone is watching the sport, and obsessing over Trump (WHAT a guy), Putin has been moving MASSIVE conveys of tanks and missiles to the Ukrainian border. He invaded Georgia after the Beijing Olympics. He first invaded Ukraine immediately after the Sochi Olympics. And he is about to invade other parts of Ukraine as soon as the Rio Olympics finish.

But – hey – sport!

World Cat Day

Jemima Cat

Rio’s most amazing athlete.

Oksana_Chusovitina_(vault)_04-2011

Unleashing Mr Darcy

Unleashing Mr Darcy by Teri Wilson

My review of Wolf Creek Wife (Wolf Creek #5) by Penny Richards

Wolf Creek Wife (Wolf Creek #5) by Penny Richards

My review of Marriage Made in Hope (The Penniless Lords #4) by Sophia James

Marriage Made in Hope (The Penniless Lords #4) by Sophia James

 My review of The Inscription (The MacAlpins #1) by Pam Binder

The Inscription (The MacAlpins #1) by Pam Binder

The week: 25th – 31st July

Winter Sunset Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 30th July 2016 Sky Clouds Nature 1IMG_0518

Saturday sunset in Canberra.

Winter Lake Burley griffin Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Seagulls Telstra Tower Black Mountain Sun Nature 30th July 2016

On Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra yesterday afternoon.

Friday Winter Sunset Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 29th July 2016 Sky Clouds Nature

Friday’s sunset in Canberra – taken on my blurry old camera.

Queanbeyan to Canberra Australia Winter Sky Clouds Driving Sonya Heaney 29th July 2016 Nature

The sky two hours before the sunset above!

Flags fly at half-mast at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics after two were killed and 111 injured in a bombing for an anti-abortion and anti-gay agenda.

This week marked the twentieth anniversary of the bombing at the Atlanta Olympics – when a man went and blew up Olympic Park because he didn’t want women to have abortions. Seriously. Ugh.

Cat missing for eight years found 280 miles away in Paris Cat missing for eight years found 280 miles away in Paris Moon Uint

My favourite story of the week. This cat went missing in London eight years ago, and turned up as a stray in PARIS.

Now Google is on Putin's payroll. They have redone Google Maps to change Ukrainian place names into the Russian names. Crimea.

Now Google is on Putin’s payroll. They have redone Google Maps to change Ukrainian place names into Soviet Russian names. This is just… sickening. Is there anyone Moscow isn’t capable of buying? If it was anywhere other than Ukraine, the world would care.

Ukrainian GYmnast Lilia Podkopayeva 1995 World Champion 1996 Olympic Champion

Back when gymnastics was gorgeous! Actual artistic gymnastics. That’s the 1996 Olympic champion.

I am not at all excited about the upcoming Olympics. So many drug cheats. So many other issues with the venue. The Australian part of the athletes’ village just caught on fire, and then they were robbed while they were being “saved”!

The maintenance staff were smoking (the village is allegedly a non-smoking location). The Brazilian officials turned off the fire alarms, so…

And the sport I have been following (and was for a while, very closely involved with) my whole life – gymnastics – I am not that interested in anymore. The sport is supposed to be artistic gymnastics, but now it’s just not. This former ballet dancer thinks gymnastics is an ugly, messy sport these days (thank you, new scoring system that pushes big, poorly executed tricks over technique or finesse!).

Anyway, I thought I’d get my Olympics-related rant out now, before the competition begins! 🙂

The anniversary of Pride and Prejudice

PrideundprejudicePoster for the 1940 film Pride and Prejudice.

So – how did they go?

Taking Fire (One-Eyed Jacks #4) by Cindy Gerard

My review of Willow Springs (Destiny Series #5) by Toni Blake

Willow Springs (Destiny Series #5) by Toni Blake

My review of Good For You by Tammara Webber

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My review of Taming the Highland Rogue (The MacLerie Clan #4.6) by Terri Brisbin

Taming the Highland Rogue (The MacLerie Clan #4.6) by Terri Brisbin

The Week: 11th – 17th July

Winter Snow Canberra Australia 13th July Morning 2016 Sonya Heaney.

We all got super excited about the possibility of snow on Wednesday. It’s not something we ever see! However, despite being able to see some on the mountains in and around Canberra, this was the best effort nature made at our house, early in the morning (it was gone soon after).

The same day, we had lunch for my cousin’s eighteenth birthday – Catholic families – the youngest and eldest first cousins on my father’s side vary in age nearly thirty years! We were all laughing at ourselves for the excitement over all our pictures of the “snow”. The one above was ten times more snow than anybody else saw.

Winter Blue Sky Sun Trees Canberra Australia 15th July 2016 Sonya Haeney.

Other than the snow thing, we’ve had some gorgeous weather! This was Friday afternoon.

I could talk about Nice. I could talk about Turkey. I could talk about the fact Russian gangs are again going around desecrating Ukrainian graves OUTSIDE Eastern Europe… But you can look that up on your own. On the other hand:

I love you, Canada. This story went a teeny way to relieve my anger about some other things…

Trudeau condemns Russia’s annexation of Crimea, vows ‘Canada will always stand by Ukraine’.

Canada’s leader was in Kyiv, Ukraine and visited the genocide memorial, and also the memorial where Ukrainians were killed by pro-Russian and actual Russian snipers on the 20th of February, 2014 (above and below). Many of those shots were fired by snipers in the hotel in the background. I was there a few weeks ago, when they were setting it up:

Building the memorial to the Ukrainians killed by pro-russian and russian dsnipers in Kyiv. Sonya Heaney OKsana. 2016.

Rex the cat left on Thursday. I will miss him so much. Here he is having one final sleep on my bed (maybe now I will be able to make it before the sun sets!):

Rex the Cat

Lisa Kleypas’ Upcoming Book

Devil in Spring (2017) (The third book in the Ravenels series) A novel by Lisa Kleypas

Oh, the subtlety!

Romance Cover Man

True Blood – the Musical?

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Romance + Bull Riders

 My review of Where You Are by Tammara Webber

where-you-are-by-tammara-webber

My review of Possessed by the Highlander (The MacLerie Clan #3) by Terri Brisbin

Possessed by the Highlander (The MacLerie Clan #3) by Terri Brisbin