The Week: 9th -15th January

canberra-australia-sunny-afternoon-summer-pink-flowers-12th-jannuary-2016-sonya-heaney-blue-sky-hot-day-garden-nature

The only surviving flowers around here, after our heatwave. It was a gorgeous, sunny week.

What a ridiculously hot few days! Every day went into the mid-30s to 40 degrees (104 Fahrenheit), and it always feels so much hotter here inland, where it’s still and you don’t get a sea breeze – or much in the way of rain.

julian-calendar-new-year-is-celebrated-in-parts-of-eastern-europe-from-13-14-january-this-is-a-2003-ukrainian-new-year-stamp

2003 stamp for Ukrainian New Year

Happy Old New Year (14th January). Saturday was the day for New Year until the new calendar was brought in, and Ukrainians still recognise it.

40-of-65-killed-in-europeas-extreme-winter-weather-are-in-ukraine

Speaking of Europe, 40 of the 65 people killed in Europe’s extreme winter weather are Ukrainian. And yet I’ve not heard the word “Ukraine” mentioned once on any news story here…

It’s like Europe’s biggest country doesn’t even exist…

Here is the baby magpie I call “Sticks” (because he is still tiny and skinny after months!). This week, and like his other family members, he was so hot he couldn’t close his beak. I fill up bowls of water, front and back, for them every day.

sonyaheaney40-degrees-in-canberra-baby-magpie-too-hot-to-close-its-beak-summer-australiananimals-australia-nature-birds-cbr

It’s going to be a big shock in a few weeks, when we go to Europe, where there’s record snow… EVERYWHERE.

sonyaheaney-cloudy-and-hot-canberra-summer-ontheroad-australia-queanbeyan-cbr

Driving home from Ukrainian New Year drinks (I wasn’t driving!) on Friday afternoon, just before the freak storm hit. You can see how weird the sky already was.

Following the worst of the heat, we were hit by a brief, freak windstorm that brought down trees all over the city, including at Australian Parliament. We’d only just arrived home when it happened – thank goodness we weren’t on the road. This news story about it shows a trampoline go flying through a suburb, and someone’s roof blown off!

a-tree-has-hit-a-car-on-northbourne-avenue-during-a-sudden-windstorm

canberra-windstorm-fells-trees-causes-havoc-across-city-emergency-services-inundated

That’s Federal Parliament in the background!

In other news, I found this story pretty shocking this week:

Pennsylvania school set maths homework on sex abuse of girl.

a-us-school-has-apologised-after-setting-a-maths-questions-that-asked-students-about-a-girl-being-sexually-abused-by-family-members

I’m not even going to start on Trump’s latest acts of stupidity (because, UGH – gross), or the latest nonsense the Kremlin has been on about…

My review of Ruby (Landry #1) by V.C. Andrews

ruby-landry-1-by-v-c-andrews

My review of Slow Dance with the Best Man by Sophie Pembroke

slow-dance-with-the-best-man-by-sophie-pembroke

My review of One Grand Season (A Willowbrook Manor Romance Book 2) by Sarita Leone

one-grand-season-a-willowbrook-manor-romance-book-2-by-sarita-leone

If you want your book reviewed…

Old book bindings at the Merton College library.Old_book_bindings BOOKS

The Golden Globes

claire-foy-at-an-event-for-the-74th-golden-globe-awards-2017

Slow Dance with the Best Man by Sophie Pembroke

slow-dance-with-the-best-man-by-sophie-pembroke

Taming Hollywood’s Best Man 

Shy Eloise Miller has hidden from attention since her mother’s scandalous affairs destroyed her family. So having to act as maid of honour in a glitzy celebrity wedding is her worst nightmare!

Under the glare of the world’s media, she’s paired with best man Noah Cross. On paper, this commitmentphobic Hollywood heartthrob is everything Eloise avoids. But soon he’s unlocking Eloise’s secret hopes, and tempting her to believe that her dreams of forever might come true…

Slow Dance with the Best Man by Sophie Pembroke

I really liked this book – with one exception. In fact – and despite the speed the relationship moves at – it was one of the best books in this category romance line I have ever read.

And yet it was so painfully misogynistic in so many places, that if the writing had been even just a little bit worse, I would not have finished it.

So, this is one of the best-written and most sexist books I have read.

This Mills and Boon/Harlequin line puts out books that are short and sweet. That means simple storylines and no sex. However, Slow Dance with the Best Man is definitely the steamiest one I’ve ever read from Harlequin Romance. No, there are no actual sex scenes, but there’s the before and after, and lots of naked conversations, and I am actually surprised one of the publisher’s most conservative lines let this one get through!

I was also very surprised that there was so much substance to the story. I’ve read a lot of these books set in castles and stately homes in Britain, but this is by far the most memorable.

Both movie star hero and reluctant to be in the spotlight heroine had strong character arcs, and complex careers they were hoping to move ahead in. Their romance was convincing. They had issues outside their growing relationship, and backstories with some substance to them. It made for a much stronger book.

Yes, the relationship moves at such a fast pace, and yet somehow the author convinced me it was realistic. That takes some talent.

I also liked that she made sure to use British/US English correctly for her characters from different countries – but WITHOUT going over the top with “cute cultural differences” conversations like most people do.

However, is it really too much to ask for authors to stop making awful, misogynistic stereotype “blonde bitch” characters? I am so tired of it – and am especially tired of the word “blonde” being used like we’re immediately supposed to know it means the character is bad.

The villainess in this book is beyond evil. She does not have a single redeeming feature. And that is unrealistic.

On page two we are told that she’s a blonde, and that therefore she’s a typical “mean girl” (this is such a sexist term that women should eliminate from their speech). Also, women Do Not stamp their dainty foot when they’re angry!

A little while later, we’re told about all those nasty “Hollywood blondes” and how they’re all the same. And then we get the usual reference to all the pretty blondes probably having breast implants…

On and on – and on – it goes, for the whole book.

If I read one more author who describes excited “bimbo” women as “squealing”, I might…

A blur of blonde.

Cruel. Evil. Nightmarish. A total witch in a blonde wig.

Why would the best man refer to the bride like this? He knows her!:

Because some blonde asked you to wear a pretty dress.

Nobody would ever say: some brunette!

It is so crazily unrealistic that a woman would be 100% evil just because of her hair colour that it ruined what would otherwise possibly have been a five-star read. I am really interested in the secondary romance, which I assume is the feature of another book. However, I know it will be more of the same when it comes to the “other woman”…

It was a disappointing aspect of an otherwise highly readable book, and one that is full of substance in a category line that usually has simple storylines and fairly bland characters.

I do also wonder how in the world the heroine could randomly move to and live in America – visa regulations exist, and the US is no piece of cake even for people who are married to an American!

I will highly recommend this, on the condition you don’t become a woman-hater because of it.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 18th – 24th August

Kyiv Ukraine

This weekend marks Ukrainian Independence Day, and Russia has spent the lead-up invading, abducting and slaughtering. Amongst the images to come out this week were some from a fashion show in Moscow that featured a child model dressed as Ukraine, waving a gun around and then pretending to shoot herself in the head. Lovely.

Russian Moscow fashion show has child model as Ukraine shooting herself in the head. August 2014

And then we have bastards like this one:

23rd august 2014

Russia’s evil propaganda cancer is turning the people into nasty creatures.

I would be hugely surprised if some major killing (more than usual – which is already shockingly bad) didn’t happen before the weekend is over. Russia won’t like Ukrainians devoting a day to celebrating their independence.

I’ve read some great books this week, including the first two books in one of Pamela Clare’s historical series. I’d have read the third book, too, but for some reason it isn’t available on Kindle, so I have to wait for the paperback to arrive. I prefer paperbacks, but this one has the most embarrassing cover!

My review of The Gentleman Rogue by Margaret McPhee

The Gentleman Rogue by Margaret McPhee

My review of Maverick for Hire by Leanne Banks

Maverick for Hire by Leanne Banks

My review of Fiona’s Flame by Rachael Herron

Fiona's Flame by Rachael Herron

My review of The Homecoming by Robyn Carr

The Homecoming (Thunder Point #6) by Robyn Carr

My review of A Groom Worth Waiting For by Sophie Pembroke

A Groom Worth Waiting For by Sophie Pembroke

A Groom Worth Waiting For by Sophie Pembroke

A Groom Worth Waiting For by Sophie Pembroke

Under the Tuscan sun…

It’s everything Thea has ever dreamed of. A Tuscan wedding, the perfect dress, a handsome groom…and her wedding will unite two families in more than business. So why is it only when her groom’s brother Zeke Ashton arrives that things start feeling right?

Watching the woman he once loved sacrifice her happiness for duty is impossible. Zeke has to remind her of the carefree, happy girl she once was before she says “I do” if Thea—or he—is ever to have a chance at happiness…

A Groom Worth Waiting For by Sophie Pembroke

This is a solid little reunion story with a fancy setting.

I don’t like love triangles, and was worried about the direction this book might take. However there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes that meant when the relationships got messy I wasn’t cringing too much!

We have a heroine whose personal life is a bit of a disaster, a woman who has been manipulated left, right and centre and can’t seem to make a relationship stick. And we have a hero who is clearly the one she is supposed to be with – if only the sham wedding can be stopped in time.

If you enjoy reunion stories this might be the kind of book you’d like. This category line tends to have the sweetest and most straightforward stories of any from this publisher, but I thought this was a pretty decent addition.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 19th – 25th August

Wattle Canberra 17th August 2013 Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney 1

It’s suddenly feeling like spring in Canberra!

I’m on a major historical spree at the moment, which is making it hard to get through all my non-historical review books! I’ve actually accidentally missed the cut-off dates for some of them, going over to NetGalley to review them, only to discover they’ve been archived!

My review of First Temptation (Covert Affairs #1.5) by Joan Swan.

First Temptation (Covert Affairs #1.5) by Joan Swan

You can still enter the giveaway for one of seven signed copies of Stranded with the Tycoon by Sophie Pembroke.

Stranded with the Tycoon by Sophie Pembroke

My review of Rumours (yes, I’m using the British spelling!) by Louise Allen.

Rumors by Louise Allen

My review of The Lady and the Laird by Nicola Cornick.

The Lady and the Laird by Nicola Cornick

Goodreads Giveaway: Stranded with the Tycoon by Sophie Pembroke

Head over to Goodreads and enter to win one of SEVEN signed copies of Stranded with the Tycoon by Sophie Pembroke.

Stranded with the Tycoon by Sophie Pembroke

The man who sees her beauty…

Ben Hampton is the last man in England that workaholic historian Luce would ever choose to be stranded with. Tall, dark and infuriatingly arrogant, he’s also a reminder of her not-so-glorious romantic history – something she’s spent the past few years burying herself in work to forget.

Hotel tycoon Ben knows there’s fire behind Luce’s buttoned-up exterior, and fanning its flames is an irresistible temptation. Luckily, getting snowbound in the countryside gives him the perfect opportunity to tempt out the real Lucinda Myles!