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 Inscription (The MacAlpins #1) by Pam Binder

The Inscription (The MacAlpins #1) by Pam Binder

An immortal warrior has conquered death. Now he must conquer living. When immortal warrior Lachlan MacAlpin rescues a woman from the depths of Loch Ness, he knows she is his one true love foretold by an ancient prophecy. But imagine American Amber McPhee’s surprise when she awakens in Urquhart Castle to discover that she has fallen more than four hundred years into the past – and into a love that will shatter the barriers of time.

The Inscription (The MacAlpins #1) by Pam Binder

I can think of very few time travel book I’ve read that didn’t involve a woman from recent times going back to centuries ago in Scotland. In this one, the time travel itself isn’t the only paranormal aspect to it; there’re also immortal characters involved, which leads to an unconventional ending.

As a concept for romance, the focus on the wilds of Scotland makes sense: it’s far easier to go a bit grubby and gallivant about the Highlands than it is to learn to dance and play the piano and fit into a Regency ballroom. And as Scottish romances in general tend to not be as interested in historical details and rules as some other settings, it makes the time travel aspect easier to buy into.

Your first hurdle will be being able to accept that a twenty-first century American could communicate AT ALL in 1566 Scotland. If you can deal with that, then this can be an enjoyable read.

Sometimes the time travel theme fascinates me, and I hadn’t read one for a while, so I thought I’d give The Inscription a go. It was written well enough, but I do still struggle with suspending my disbelief – particularly with so many centuries between the characters.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

For the Outlander fans…

It’s an in-joke for anyone who has watched the television adaptation of Outlander, and it is one of the main reasons I have gone off the show.

Despite the book series being – at its core – about Claire and Jamie in the past, the show’s producer is obsessed with the actor playing Frank. I find Frank deathly boring, and just because someone thinks an actor is good doesn’t mean the fundamental elements of the book need to be changed so drastically.

So a fan made a joke Frank-themed poster for the first of April!

I have no idea who to credit for making this!

Too Much Frank in Outlander New Poster

The Week: 29th June – 5th July

Winter Nature Kangaroos Farm Bush Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 4th July 2015

Kangaroos where the cows are supposed to be in Canberra on Saturday afternoon… And autumn leaves out in the middle of winter!

Weird week. Freezing nights and bright, warm sunny days. Such extremes in temperatures when you live in the mountains!

Also this week, EL James’ version of Midnight Sun has been universally ridiculed for its stalkerish narration (likened by many a reviewer to a serial killer’s perspective), and also – sadly, predictably – hit bestseller lists. I know I’m shocked. 🙂

Anybody remember Siemens? They’re the German company infamous for using concentration camp slave labour in World War Two.

This week they ignored international sanctions against Russia and did major business with Putin.

Once a Nazi, always a Nazi.

Military Heroines

Our Girl Series 1

Cover Love

A Highlander of Her Own by Melissa Mayhue

My review of Lock and Load (SEAL EXtreme Team #2) by Kimberley Troutte

Lock and Load (SEAL EXtreme Team #2) by Kimberley Troutte

My review of Demelza (The Poldark Saga #2) by Winston Graham

Demelza (The Poldark Saga #2) by Winston Graham

My review of The Trouble with Patience (Virtues and Vices of the Old West #1) by Maggie Brendan

The Trouble with Patience (Virtues and Vices of the Old West #1) by Maggie Brendan

My review of Aftershock (After #2) by Sylvia Day

Aftershock (After #2) by Sylvia Day

Where’d the Outlander recaps go?

 Outlander 2014

From reading a few discussion forums, I see I’m not the only one who thinks the Outlander television adaptation has lost its way. Even some of the hardcore fans (and Outlander has followers that make Twilight fans look sane!) are starting to grumble a bit. A far cry from a few months ago when you’d have to lock your doors and call the police if you dared to insult anything about it!

I’ve been trying to work up the motivation to review the past few episodes, and I haven’t been able to…

Somewhere along the way the Jamie/Claire connection – the entire point of the series! – fizzled and died. Apparently the show’s producers decided it was too girly, and so have focused on anything but that. I’m disappointed.

I’m thinking I’ll just do one big review at the end of the season. Anyone who has read the book knows some Big Stuff is coming up. However, with so much filler and feet-dragging in the past few episodes, I’m really concerned they’ve run out of time to give the big issues the time and respect they need.

I’m also lamenting how much better the show could have been if they’d cast a trained actress rather than a bland, inexperienced runway model to carry the show…

Outlander 1×12 – Or the episode where we wonder why everyone has stopped speaking Gaelic!

This is also posted HERE.

Outlander 1x12 Jamie Claire Sonya Heaney

This seems to be the episode that made even diehard Outlander fans admit the show has lost sight of the book. The funny thing is that while I had a few issues, it didn’t offend me and I wasn’t as worked up about it as I was about some others.

One thing I wasn’t thrilled with was the penises. Sorry, but I’m serious. I get that Black Jack Randall is trying to rape Jamie’s sister, Jenny. What I don’t need to see is the actor whipping out his penis and rubbing it to try and… you know… in order to do the deed. Remember in the past when people equated actresses with prostitutes? Well, I think these days it’s fair to say actors have rather a lot in common with porn stars… I don’t think it makes me a prude to say I don’t want to watch actors actually masturbating on television.

Outlander 1x12 Jenny Black Jack Randall Sonya Heaney

Don’t worry, I spared you the penis shots…

And then we had naked Jamie in all his glory in the stream.

Yeah. I don’t need to see that.

As for the rest of the episode?

Outlander 1x12 Scottish Scenery Sonya Heaney

I thought they did a good job with the scenery in this one. I also liked that they didn’t portray the English as totally evil (rather, they were helping) in the one scene they appeared in.

Outlander 1x12 Claire Sonya Heaney

I was complaining that we never saw the discussions about Claire and Jamie’s ages, a discussion that should have been in the last episode. Now that they put it in, I wish they hadn’t. Neither actor looks young for their age (in fact, I’d say Balfe was older), and trying to claim they’re a decade younger… did not work.

I’ve seen it mentioned that the actress playing Jamie’s sister would have made a better Claire than Caitriona Balfe. I agree. Firstly, we have the size difference (which is a big thing in the books):

Outlander 1x12 Jenny Jamie Sonya Heaney

She is also a more passionate character – as Claire is in the books. And there’s no way in hell I believe these two are siblings. They don’t share a single physical characteristic!

Outlander 1x12 Jenny Sonya Heaney

However, both Jenny and Claire came off as nagging and a bit nasty in this episode. I’m not sure why this show is being lauded as a “Girl Power!!” show when they portray women so badly. There was no need for their first scene together to result in Claire being called a trollop!

And then we have one of my big issues: why is nobody speaking Gaelic??!! When this show started, there was a big deal made about Claire not understanding anyone. And the promotional videos featured the language expert teaching us phrases.

And they’ve dumped it! Everyone is not only (unrealistically) fluent in English, but they’re ONLY speaking English.

Outlander 1x12 British English Soldiers Redcoats Sonya Heaney

This is basically a filler episode. I can see why fans are complaining about it, because not much happens. HOWEVER, this is following the book, and this is a slow part of Outlander, so I’m not sure what viewers expected!

Finally, I was a little bit pissed off with the supposed joke about the food offered at the dinner table. Basically, it was something we eat in Ukrainian culture on a regular basis. And – seriously – Claire from 1940s England does NOT get to joke about anyone else’s food!

Outlander 1×11 – or the episode where they conveniently had a witch trial years after Scotland stopped trying and burning witches.

Outlander 1x11 Claire and Jamie Sonya Heaney

This is also posted HERE.

This article suggests that many long-term Outlander fans are projecting their expectations onto their experiences watching the show, because the adaptation is failing on a few levels. People are seeing what they wish they were seeing, rather than what they’re actually seeing. I agree.

The reason I – and people who aren’t thrilled with every aspect of the adaptation – continue to watch Outlander is for the big moments. This episode had a couple of the biggies we wanted to see taken from the book and put onto the screen.

It’s the episode where Jamie finds out Claire is from the future. It is also the episode Claire decides to stay in the past with Jamie.

Outlander 1x11 Jamie Sonya Heaney

Did they get it right? Yes and no. Sam Heughan got Jamie just right – he was perfect. I loved his genuine regret for beating her. Better than the book, I think. However, they wasted so much time on the witch trial we missed some of the Big Moments from the Jamie and Claire story.

Outlander 1x11 Geillis Claire Trial Court Sonya Heaney

I do love how the television show tried to fix historical errors made by Diana Gabaldon (the so-called queen of historical accuracy!) in this episode. It was very clunky, but at least they acknowledged that trying people for witchcraft was indeed outlawed in Britain before 1743. It’s such a crucial part of the story, but also very much an anachronism.

Outlander 1x11 Crowd Sonya Heaney

The lack of head-coverings for the women is really starting to bug me!

The beginning of the episode is all about the trial. It’s different from the book, playing up Laoghaire’s villainy, which is a little disappointing. This so-called feminist show is doing a wonderful job demonising the pretty teenage girl. It’s bad enough the book’s fans (who are old enough to know better) already childishly call her “Leg Hair”. We don’t need to encourage more of that nonsense.

Outlander 1x11 Geillis Duncan Trial Court Sonya Heaney

Lotte Verbeek is perfect as Geillis in this episode. I did wonder why she wasn’t even mentioned when both she and Claire were standing there on trial together (all the evidence was against Claire) but she made the most of the scenes.

However, they left out crucial things – where did Jamie suddenly come from when he was supposed to be days away?!

And then they added others – Ned with a flipping gun?!

Outlander 1x11 Claire and Jamie 2 Sonya Heaney

But what we were all waiting for was the big revelation: Claire is from the future.

Was it done right? Well… no, it wasn’t.

I doubt many people who have read the book expected Claire’s big revelations about her time-travelling to be as it was done in the show. What I always remember from that scene in the book is Claire’s hysterical laughter, and Jamie’s goosebumps, and much more drama.

Claire’s quiet, emotionless revelations didn’t have much of an impact for what is supposed to be one of the BIGGEST moments of the entire show.

Jamie’s reactions were brilliant, but there was just so much missing from the whole thing. For example, show Claire might have shown the same courtesy as book Claire and warned Jamie about Culloden!

More importantly, we never got to see Claire start to disappear through the stones. This is how Jamie is convinced Claire is from a different time. In the show Jamie never gets any proof.

Less trial and more emotional time-travelling scenes were definitely needed!

Hmm. It seems Ron Moore really has no idea what is important to the story. I get that he wants to give his secondary actors something to do, but it should never be at the expense of the good stuff.

Back to the wife-beating in Outlander

Outlander 1x09 The Reckoning Claire and Jamie Domestic Abuse Wife Beating 2 Sonya Heaney - Copy

So, the wife-beating episode of Outlander has been out there for a couple of weeks now, and I might be more upset about the reactions of people who haven’t read the books than people who have.

You go to any TV discussion site, or any review of the show, and the conversations are full of discussions with titles like “Claire is a Fucking Bitch!” (sorry, but that truly is one I’ve seen) followed by everyone saying she deserved worse than the beating she got.

Annnd… so much for feminism, equality and White Ribbon Days! No wonder we’re getting nowhere with domestic violence in the present, when the people in the present are still overjoyed with scenes like this.

The thing about Outlander is that the “It’s historically accurate! Jamie said a man would have been punished in a worse way!” argument is total crap. Diana Gabaldon picked choice pieces of history, mixed them up with the popular tropes of the bodice ripper era the book was written in, and then made a whole lot of stuff up.

Claire wasn’t beaten because history made Gabaldon write the book that way. Gabaldon wanted to include a scene where Claire got beaten with a leather belt, and so she twisted her understanding of Georgian era Scotland to justify the violence.

It’s exactly the same as the ludicrous claims women could expect to be raped every time they stepped out of their house, and by every single man they saw. “But, but, but… it’s history!” doesn’t work there, either.

Outlander 1x09 The Reckoning Claire and Jamie Domestic Abuse 1 Sonya Heaney

Don’t believe me, look up the message boards where she rants at her UK editors who tried to correct some of her mistakes before releasing Outlander in Britain. Not knowing when World War Two ended was one biggie.

The Outlander show twisted the wife-beating scene into the episode’s comic relief, which disgusted me. Because now next to nobody is having a discussion about domestic violence or misogyny, OR questionable research.

Instead, everyone has decided it’s yet another opportunity to hate on women.

Outlander 1×10

This has also been posted HERE.

 Jamie Claire Outlander 1x10 Sonya Heaney.

My first thought about this episode was: where’d the book go?? There’s adaptation, and then there’s throwing the book out the window and just making stuff up. I specialised in scriptwriting and book adaptation at university, and so I understand better than almost anyone the importance of not simply putting a book onto the screen. That’s not how it works. But I also know it could have been done better. Oddly, characters from many episodes were suddenly brought back for big storylines, without any build-up.

Outlander 1x10 Claire Jamie Murtagh Sonya Heaney

The opening scene was… weird. Surely it wasn’t necessary for Murtagh to barge in on Jamie and Claire – naked – in their bedroom! It was really, really odd how nobody seemed to have a problem with it. Jamie and Claire aren’t peasants; they’d have expected a little more respect than that!

Geillis Duncan Dance Outlander 1x10 Sonya Heaney

My biggest disappointment was what they’ve done with Geillis, because the big reveals about her character were either given away here, too early in the story, or were ruined by a bizarre naked (always with the naked women in this show!) dance in the forest. Surely I wasn’t the only one worried she was going to set all that floaty fabric – or her hair! – on fire during that scene.

I’m going to spoil you here if you haven’t read the book.

So. Don’t read unless you want to know:

Geillis Duncan is from the future, just as Claire is. In fact, she’s from further ahead in time than Claire, and this is revealed in a shocking scene where Claire sees her immunisation scarring just before Geillis is taken away, condemned to death. This – one of the best moments of the whole book – was ruined by this episode. How can they ever do that scene now Claire has already seen Geillis frolicking around with no clothes on? And her pregnancy has also been revealed too early. All the cool stuff from the book – gone!

Outlander 1x10 Sonya Heaney Simon Callow Duke

On a better note, Simon Callow is a great addition to the cast. I also like the glimpse we were given at the life of a Georgian era aristocrat. Up until now, the lives of the Outlander characters have almost looked mediaeval. In fact, I’ve read some magazine articles that accidentally attribute that time period to the show.

Outlander 1x10 Duke Simon Callow Sonya Heaney.

Well, the lives have looked bleak apart from the fact the costume designer continues to dress Claire in a wardrobe fit for royalty (mixed with some very modern knitwear). Where the holy hell are all those clothes coming from? Who is paying for them, who is making them, and don’t try and tell me they’re hand-me-downs when Claire is twice as tall as every other woman in the show!

Outlander 1x10 Claire and Geillis Sonya Heaney

Geillis’ costumes and hairstyling are so incorrect for the time period it makes Reign look historically accurate! This wouldn’t be an issue if both author Diana Gabaldon and the people working on the show didn’t keep bragging about how historically accurate they are!

Outlander 1x10 Geillis and Claire Sonya Heaney

This is a choppy episode. That’s what tends to happen when you start adding in stuff that isn’t part of the original story. There’s good and bad and there’s some pretty stuff to look at, but too much of it was made up for no reason I can understand.

Some of the best scenes from the book have been omitted from the show, apparently so the producers can bore us with the nuances of Scottish politics and the main female characters’ breasts. So much for the much-lauded “female gaze” the show is supposed to have!

Argh! It’s so annoying. I want to love this show and I really want to see the book coming to life on the screen. But more often than not these days, Ron Moore has totally missed the mark.