The Week: 2nd – 8th December

It’s nearly Christmas, and I really think I need another month to get organised! The fires here have got worse and worse. The fire has burnt all the way to the sea, and there’s really hot weather on the way in the coming days.

After the strife superstar author Christine Feehan got in, first for filing to trademark common words, and then for defending her actions, she seems to have pulled the application. However, it seems everyone writing vampire fiction could do with reading this:

Hey, Christine Feehan! You don’t own the Carpathians!

Huculy_1933,_Verkhovyna_district Hutsuls Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains

And this Tweet pretty much sums up the situation:

KJ Charles Twitter Christine Feehan Trademark Carpathian

Virgin River Premiere!

Virgin River TV Series

My review of Someone to Honour (Westcott family #6) by Mary Balogh

Someone to Honour Someone to Honor (Westcott #6) by Mary Balogh

Hey, Christine Feehan! You don’t own the Carpathians!

Ивано-Франковская_область_Горно-лыжный_курорт_Буковель Bukovel Carptahian Mountains Ukraine

Ukraine’s Bukovel ski resort in—you guessed it!—the Carpathian Mountains.

I’ve been too preoccupied with other things to bother posting about this, but now Christine Feehan (as in the NYT-bestselling author credited with inventing the paranormal romance genre back in the 1990s) has now confirmed it: she has personally filed applications to obtain trademarks for all the words associated with her various books series. (#Cockygate, anyone?)

The word everyone has gone mad over (for obvious reasons) is “Dark”—as in, she’s trying to ban anyone from using Dark in their book titles from now on.


Me on a farm in my grandfather’s village in the foothills of the—you guessed it!—Carpathians. The woman is his cousin, Pani Anna, and that’s her farm.

However, I’m here to rant about the issue of her also filing to appropriate the word “Carpathian”.

The Carpathians are a mountain range in Eastern Europe, covering seven countries: Ukraine, Romania, Poland, Slovakia, Czechia, Hungary and Serbia. My family is from the Ukrainian Carpathians, and have a distinct culture and fiercely proud heritage. Now, if I wanted to write a series of any sort with the word Carpathian in it, Feehan can take me to court. (Feehan is estimated to be worth millions.)


A bear I saw in the Carpathians in September this year. Because—yes—the Carpathians still exist, and they still don’t belong to Christine Feehan.

On Twitter I mentioned that the situation has shades of the American bar owner who obtained the trademark for the Fijian word Bula, forcing the Fijian Government to take him to court to try and get the rights to their own word back.

Huculy_1933,_Verkhovyna_district Hutsuls Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains

The Ukrainian Hutsul people of the Carpathian Mountains.

People randomly trademarking stuff is disgusting, selfish, and totally bloody unnecessary. Having some author in California claim ownership of my heritage just because she named her rapey fictional vampires after my family’s homeland makes me sick.

The Week: 9th – 15th April

Ukrainian Easter Queanbeyan Catholic Church Australia 8th April 2018

Easter (8th April) at the Ukrainian Catholic church in Queanbeyan

This week seems to have gone fast. I’ve spent most of it being frustrated with the Commonwealth Games coverage (a hint, TV networks: very few people in the world find lawn bowls fascinating!), while trying to get work done around it.

Of course, the week began with Ukrainian Easter celebrations, and this weekend is when the processions around the cemeteries take place (I said before: Ukrainian Easter is HUGE!). We’re still having summer temperatures in Canberra, which is just weird, because other years all these traditions take place in weather that is very definitely autumn-themed.

However, we had a freak windstorm yesterday. Here is the state border:

One thing that has suffered a lot the past fortnight is my reading. I have been focused on other things, and have not had time to finish a single book – even though some of them are books I’ve been looking forward to for ages.

The Commonwealth Games

Lauren+Mitchell+19th+Commonwealth+Games+Day+pIDIDa3K6h5l19th Commonwealth Games - Day 2 Artistic Gymnastics

Reread: Kiss of Crimson (Midnight Breed #2) by Lara Adrian

Kiss of Crimson by Lara Adrian

Harlequin Artist Honoured on Canadian Stamp

Harlequin is so proud of our legendary cover artist, Will Davies! #CanadaPost is issuing a stamp in his honor in recognition of the over 500 book covers he designed.

It’s Christmastime… Again?

The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan

Travel in Regency Britain

stagec-coach-travel 19th century.

National Library Week

National Library Week United States

Reread: Kiss of Crimson (Midnight Breed #2) by Lara Adrian

Kiss of Crimson by Lara Adrian

I’d recently been thinking about the paranormal genre, and realised it had been a long time since I’d read anything in it. Because it was late at night I decided to do a reread rather than finding anything new.

Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed vampire series is a “guilty pleasure” sort of thing. The early books are from a decade or so ago, when vampires were the height of fashion, and dark, warrior vampires were much more preferable to many adult readers than sparkly high school vampires ever were.

Kiss of Crimson is the one I keep going back to for some reason. It’s an easy read, happens over a short space of time, and involves the *ultimate* vampire stereotype: dark, Italian Dante!

Here’s what it’s about:

He comes to her more dead than alive, a towering black-clad stranger riddled with bullets and rapidly losing blood. As she struggles to save him, veterinarian Tess Culver is unaware that the man calling himself Dante is no man at all, but one of the Breed, vampire warriors engaged in a desperate battle. In a single erotically charged moment Tess is plunged into his world—a shifting, shadowed place where bands of Rogue vampires stalk the night, cutting a swath of terror.

Haunted by visions of a dark future, Dante lives and fights like there is no tomorrow. Tess is a complication he does not need—but now, with his brethren under attack, he must shield Tess from a growing threat that includes Dante himself. For with one reckless, irresistible kiss, she has become an inextricable part of his underworld realm . . . and his touch awakens her to hidden gifts, desires, and hungers she never knew she possessed. Bonded by blood, Dante and Tess must work together to thwart deadly enemies, even as they discover a passion that transcends the boundaries of life itself . . . .

Are We Still Doing Vampires?

On a trip to the Gold Coast a few months ago, I found myself without anything to read. So we made a trip to the newsagency down the road, where they had a bunch of “beach read” kind of books. One of the books I ended up buying was Veil of Midnight by Lara Adrian. I’m not sure blood and violence counts as a beach read, but I definitely had fun with it. (Apart from some brief anger at seeing Ukraine called “the Ukraine”. I live in hope that one day people will finally learn that is completely incorrect!)

Veil of Midnight was a reminder of how enjoyable vampire books were before the tweens (and their mothers) turned it into a global “thing”.

I’d read the first couple of books in Adrian’s series, and this is #5, so I was a little lost, but it was such a great escape. It also reminded me why this genre became so popular in the first place, and made me wonder why I’d been giving paranormal a bit of a wide berth in the last couple of years.

The sacrifices that come with immortality, the strengths and weaknesses, the struggles with darkness; vampires can throw up some great plot ideas.

Where did all this women’s book vampire stuff begin? With Christine Feehan? She was doing vampire-human relationships, magical mates and all the rest in the 1990s. People like to pick apart her series now, but for me it is so significant because it set the groundwork for all the books that came after. Dark Prince – the first book – may not be everyone’s favourite, but I love it for its originality, and the fact you can see so many later authors’ themes within those pages.

I also love that her creatures are “Carpathians” who live in the Carpathian Mountains – I have family from there, and will be visiting for the second time in a few months!

But vampires didn’t always mean there had to be hearts-and-flowers kind of romance.

I’m technically the same age as Buffy Summers. The year her character graduated from high school was the same year I did. She started university at the same time as me. Buffy was the anti-Twilight, and I kind of grew up with her and loved it (still do, when I catch an episode).

I never liked Twilight. Between all the sparkling and the nasty stereotyping of blonde women, I spent so much time being offended on behalf of vampires and non-brunettes that it was hard to enjoy the books. Also, there were NO sacrifices or struggles. Not only did Bella get immortality, but she also got a husband, a baby, all her friends became immortal, she could go out in sunlight, she had no weaknesses… Four phonebook-length novels for a fairytale ending with sugar on top? Without any struggle, there didn’t seem to be any point.

At the same time Twilight was taking over womankind, Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse was taking off, aided by the popular television version of the books. I was mildly obsessed with both, until the show lost the plot, temporarily killing my interest in the books. One day soon I hope to pick them up again, because her vampires did vampirish things like drink blood and act naughty, and it was great fun before Hollywood got their claws into it and turned it into another “thing”.

There’re other authors whose vampires added great things to the genre too. Jeaniene Frost’s Buffy and Spike-esque Cat and Bones. J.R. Ward’s phenomenally popular Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

But are we still doing vampires anymore? Every time I see them discussed these days, everyone seems tired. The market was saturated with sparkling schoolboys and angsty brunettes, and people seem to be running onto the next fad.

However, before vampires became a “thing” they were fun. Maybe now that Hollywood and the drive-by readers have moved on, we will once again have a chance to enjoy the genre.

Black Dagger Brotherhood Craft on Etsy

I am so far behind with reading this series (four books – at least), but JR Ward’s vampires definitely have one of the biggest fandoms of any book series. So of course, there’re Etsy shops making BDB-related jewellery, bookmarks and other stuff.

Here are some examples:

Rehvenge 2-in-1 Book Thong & Charm Bracelet

Rhage Book Thong (My favourite character!)

Rehvenge Earrings

Tohrment Bookmark

Wine Bottle Charm

Butch Book Thong