The Week: 19th – 25th February

^^^^

I have no idea why it keeps starting partway through!

Plenty of Winter Olympics-watching happened this week. The best moment was Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir winning ice dance gold.

R.I.P. to Emma Chambers

Kyiv Ukraine Euromaidan Memorials Sonya Heaney May 2016

This week marked four years since the pro-Russian snipers opened fire on the public in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city. The war rages on, even though I haven’t seen it in the Australian, European, or American news for a long time.

Ukraine's Oleksandr Abramenko won the men's aerials freestyle skiing gold medal to break Belarus' dominance in the event at the Winter Olympics..

Ukraine did win a gold medal in Pyeongchang, however!

My review of Gold Rush by Jennifer Comeaux

Gold Rush by Jennifer Comeaux

Lisa Kleypas News

Hello Stranger (Ravenels #4) by Lisa Kleypas

Out Soon

The Secret of Flirting (Sinful Suitors #5) by Sabrina Jeffries

Reread: My Life Next Door

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

The Bombing of London Library

On 23rd February 1944 The London Library came within a few feet of being totally destroyed. Bombed Second World War Two0241_-_The_Art_Room_19440238_-_

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Reread: My Life Next Door

I’ve been rereading a few books over the hot summer here in Australia, including some Young Adult books – I haven’t read anything in the genre for a while, so it’s been interesting!

One of the books I’ve reread is My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick, a book I reviewed in 2013. I won’t review it again, but will say it’s such a good book with great characters.

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts.  All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them…until one summer evening Jase Garrett climbs her trellis and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love and stumble through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first romance, Jase’s family makes Samantha one of their own—even as she keeps him a secret from her disapproving mother and critical best friend. Then the unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha’s world. She’s suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A debut novel about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.

Gold Rush by Jennifer Comeaux

Gold Rush by Jennifer Comeaux

Liza Petrov’s entire life has been about skating and winning her sport’s top prize – Olympic gold. She’s stayed sheltered inside her bubble, not daring to stray from her destined path.

Until she meets Braden Patrick.

He makes her heart flutter with possibility, and for the first time she gets a taste of a normal teenage life. She longs to have both the boy and the gold, but stepping outside her bubble comes with a price. As Liza begins to question both her future and her past, can she stay focused on the present and realize her ultimate dream?

Gold Rush by Jennifer Comeaux

This is a “young” new adult book about a Russian/American girl hoping for figure skating gold at the 2014 Olympics. By “young”, I mean it’s a sweet story (no sex, for example), and the heroine is believably sheltered because of the intense training she has been doing most of her life.

It seems this is the daughter of characters from the author’s earlier series, but that doesn’t matter – I haven’t read those other books yet, and you won’t need to either.

The best thing about Jennifer Comeaux’s writing is that she is a figure skating expert. The author knows *everything* about the sport, and it makes such a difference. I’ve read some other Winter Olympic-themed books recently, and it was great to see how much better Comeaux is at getting the sport right.

The love interest in Gold Rush is a little too perfect to be believable, and the ending is a little predictable, but this would make a great read for young adult fans who are inspired by the current Winter Games.

Shakespeare for Children: Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare for Children Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet needs no introduction. Younger readers with be suitably introduced to one the greatest love stories ever to be written. Romeo and Juliet is the tragic love story of the “star-crossed lovers,” Romeo and Juliet. Set in the city of Verona, Italy, the play revolves around the feud between two affluent families, the Montagues and the Capulets. Despite the enmity, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet fall passionately in love and wed in secret. However, the enmity between both disapproving families overpowers and leads everything to go terribly wrong.

Shakespeare for Children: Romeo and Juliet

I was interested to see how someone could possibly tackle Romeo and Juliet to make it into something palatable for readers even younger than Juliet herself.

This highly condensed version of Shakespeare’s dramatic play focuses mostly on the title characters and devotes more time to the developing relationship than the death-fest that comes afterwards. There are some illustrations throughout.

In order to simplify things, some characters are changed a little. Paris is no longer some titled guy looking for a well-bred baby-maker, but is now a man who comes to the Capulet ball already knowing Juliet and in love with her. The nurse becomes some random servant in the background of the story.

I think the violent aspects of the story were explained as briefly and best as they could be for the target readers.

Still, it’s an extraordinary choice of story for a middle grade book!

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Must monsters always be male?

Cinderella Disney.

“No” evil women in fiction!

The Guardian recently ran what I consider to be a misguided article:

Must monsters always be male? Huge gender bias revealed in children’s books

Perhaps Donna Ferguson, the article’s author, has missed the fact the “evil stepmother” is a trope, but there’s no “evil stepfather”. Or that “evil, jealous sisters” feature in everything from ancient literature to children’s fairy tales.

How about all those young adult and new adult books where the mothers are all evil drunkards, the villains are always villainesses in the form of jealous blonde “popular girls”, and the most common heroine trope is the one who’s “not like other girls” and therefore has no female friends?

When I think of monsters, I think of Stalin and Hitler and Putin and Trump. I think of doctors who spend twenty years freely molesting hundreds of young gymnasts. I think of a man filling a hotel room with guns and mowing down a crowd in the space of minutes. Of all the gender biases in books, how can needing more female monsters possibly be the one that matters?

Adding more evil women to fiction, when what we need is to stop demonising women, is a step in the wrong – not the right – direction.

While the other points in the article – about the lack of female characters in starring roles, and the lack of female characters who speak – are important to address, I would say fiction is already misogynistic enough.

 

The Week: 18th – 24th September

Spring Flowers Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 21st September 2017 Garden Nature Red

Spring in Canberra

Mostly gorgeous week here. We had temperatures up to 30 degrees, which makes it nearly ten degrees warmer than Barcelona a couple of weeks ago. The difference? In Barcelona everyone dresses for summer. In Canberra a lot of people dress like it’s mid-winter. People are weird.

We booked a group family trip to Thredbo in the Snowy Mountains this week. We’ll be going over New Year. It will be summer here, so hopefully the mountains won’t be too snowy at that time of year!

Yesterday the highway between Canberra (as in Australia’s capital city) and Sydney (as in Australia’s biggest city) was closed because of a bushfire. We knew people who had to turn around and come back to Canberra.

In September.

Just after winter.

We also had the hottest September day in history, and they are predicting a catastrophic bushfire season (yes, here “bushfire season” is actually a thing) for us. But – hey – climate change doesn’t exist…?!

Floriade is in full swing, but I haven’t been this year (so far). I really need to go earlier one year before half the flowers have died!

New (AWFUL!) cover for Lisa Kleypas

My review of Amish Christmas Twins by Patricia Davids

Hunger Games and Twilight are getting theme park lands in South Korea

Truth?

Pride and Prejudice Anniversary

Hunger Games and Twilight are getting theme park lands in South Korea

Twilight star Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen

This news is actually from a few weeks ago, but in case you didn’t see it before:

Hunger Games and Twilight are getting theme park lands in South Korea

Of all the book-movie franchises to choose! One is about kids fighting to the death, and the other is about an obsessive vampire stalker!

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1 Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth.

The Twilight and Hunger Games film franchises may have come to a close, but movie studio Lionsgate will soon offer fans a new way to engage with both thanks to new theme park expansion lands. Today the studio announced that it will be opening Lionsgate Movie World, a 1.3 million-square-foot theme park in South Korea dedicated to its various movie properties.

The park will be part of Jeju Shinhwa World, a luxury resort on South Korea’s Jeju Island. Movie World will be made up of seven different “zones,” each devoted to a different Lionsgate film. Along with Twilight and The Hunger Games, the magic-themed Now You See Me franchise will receive an area, as will the studio’s upcoming Robin Hood remake. According to the press release, guests will be able to “experience actual movie scenes” with a combination of rides, recreated environments, themed restaurants, and live performances. The park is scheduled to open sometime in 2019.