Monday, 19 May 2014

I have really loved having a blog, but unfortunately a member has been harassing me, as she didn't agree with a review I'd posted. I've decided not to post on here for awhile. But I have started a review group on Facebook called The kiwi book chick and would love it if you all joined. New reviews are in the process of being added and formatted. Hope to see you all there. Regards Jo

Monday, 7 October 2013

Elizabeth of York
By Alison Weir

Summery courtesy of
Many are familiar with the story of the much-married King Henry VIII of England and the celebrated reign of his daughter, Elizabeth I. But it is often forgotten that the life of the first Tudor queen, Elizabeth of York, Henry’s mother and Elizabeth’s grandmother, spanned one of England’s most dramatic and perilous periods. Now New York Times bestselling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir presents the first modern biography of this extraordinary woman, whose very existence united the realm and ensured the survival of the Plantagenet bloodline.

Her birth was greeted with as much pomp and ceremony as that of a male heir. The first child of King Edward IV, Elizabeth enjoyed all the glittering trappings of royalty. But after the death of her father; the disappearance and probable murder of her brothers—the Princes in the Tower; and the usurpation of the throne by her calculating uncle Richard III, Elizabeth found her world turned upside-down: She and her siblings were declared bastards.

As Richard’s wife, Anne Neville, was dying, there were murmurs that the king sought to marry his niece Elizabeth, knowing that most people believed her to be England’s rightful queen. Weir addresses Elizabeth’s possible role in this and her covert support for Henry Tudor, the exiled pretender who defeated Richard at the Battle of Bosworth and was crowned Henry VII, first sovereign of the House of Tudor. Elizabeth’s subsequent marriage to Henry united the houses of York and Lancaster and signaled the end of the Wars of the Roses. For centuries historians have asserted that, as queen, she was kept under Henry’s firm grasp, but Weir shows that Elizabeth proved to be a model consort—pious and generous—who enjoyed the confidence of her husband, exerted a tangible and beneficial influence, and was revered by her son, the future King Henry VIII.


Alison Weir knows how to research, she retells historical events in such a vivid and vibrant way. Fact becomes just as exciting as fiction when it comes to England's Medieval England. Elizabeth of York lived a life that seems unimaginable... I really enjoyed the first half of this but started skimming the second half due to all the meticulous details!!! I did like how Weir would raise questions many people still have today about events surrounding the Plantagenets downfall and the Tudors rise!!!
Fans of historical fiction will love Weirs latest novel, definitely a must read,

3 Stars

Monday, 9 September 2013

Paris Architect
By Charles Belfoure

Summery courtesy of
Like most gentiles in Nazi-occupied Paris, architect Lucien Bernard has little empathy for the Jews. So when a wealthy industrialist offers him a large sum of money to devise secret hiding places for Jews, Lucien struggles with the choice of risking his life for a cause he doesn't really believe in. Ultimately he can't resist the challenge and begins designing expertly concealed hiding spaces—behind a painting, within a column, or inside a drainpipe—detecting possibilities invisible to the average eye. But when one of his clever hiding spaces fails horribly and the immense suffering of Jews becomes incredibly personal, he can no longer deny reality.

Written by an expert whose knowledge imbues every page, this story becomes more gripping with every life the architect tries to save...


Charles Belfoure writing is poignant, historical accurate and heart wrenching. His paints a realistic picture that captivated me with its tone, setting, and the strength of its characters. He writes with such heart felt emotion, that I was through a box of tissues before I even know it. This book is a haunting depiction of Jewish survival and how two very different men come together to help hide Jews, in a time when there really wasn't any safe place or haven for them.

Lucien Bernard, is an unemployed architect during the German occupation of Paris, who is offered a job that is technically challenging but extremely dangerous. He must construct a hiding place similar to the Priest Holes that were used during the reign of Elizabeth the first, when being a Catholic priest was a death sentence - so hidden rooms were constructed to keep practitioners and clergy safe from discovery. 

Lucien is at first rather disgusted and appalled; regardless of the pay, this assignment could get him killed, especially when one of the buildings he is commissioned is across the street from Gestapo headquarters.
Although he is not particularly fond of Jews, Lucien accepts the assignment because of its a financially lucrative offer. His employer introduces him in to the German HQ and soon Lucien is planning German war factories.

This is a book that will stay with me for some time as Charles Belfoure's descriptions of the cruelty the Gestapo inflicted on Parisians and the Jewish people is haunting- there hunt for food, the fear they must have constantly felt and the strength people showed in their resistance to the inhumanity that was forced upon them.
Highly recommended
5 Stars

Trini Amador

Summery courtesy of

The gripping story of Gracianna--a French-Basque girl forced to make impossible decisions after being recruited into the French Resistance in Nazi-occupied Paris.

Gracianna is inspired by true events in the life of Trini Amador's great-grandmother, Gracianna Lasaga. As an adult, Amador was haunted by the vivid memory of finding a loaded German Luger tucked away in a nightstand while wandering his great-grandmother's home in Southern California. He was only four years old at the time, but the memory remained and he knew he had to explore the story behind the gun.

Decades later, Amador would delve into the remarkable odyssey of his Gracianna's past, a road that led him to an incredible surprise. In Gracianna, Amador weaves fact and fiction to tell his great-grandmother's story.

Gracianna bravely sets off to Paris in the early 1940s--on her way to America, she hopes--but is soon swept into the escalation of the war and the Nazi occupation of Paris. After chilling life-and-death struggles, she discovers that her missing sister has surfaced as a laborer in Auschwitz. When she finds an opportunity to fight back against the Nazis to try to free her sister, she takes it--even if it means using lethal force.

As Amador tells the imagined story of how his great-grandmother risked it all, he delivers richly drawn characters and a heart-wrenching page-turner that readers won't soon forget.

My thoughts

Trini Amador writes with flair and passion in this dramatic retelling. This book is set in Paris during World War Two. Gracianna grows up in the Pyrennes mountains and moves to Paris despite her families objections. They are justifiably concerned for her safety as Paris is a city defeated and under Nazi occupation.

Life in Paris is exciting, but also extremely dangerous especially when your young and Beautiful. Gracianna attracts the unwanted attention of a German officer who attacks her, Gracianna shoots him with his own gun. The French Resistance help her dispose of the body and ask her for help them to kill German officers in the hopes of upsetting the Germans occupation of their city.

Juan, has always loved Gracianna and follows her to Paris, where he convinces her to marry him together they help the resistance. Juan is a very subdued character who does everything Gracianna tells him too. ( she even refers to him as her lap dog)   I struggled with the writers depiction of Juan, I don't think his character was fleshed out enough, he didn't really have a voice and I couldn't understand how someone who was so in love with Gracianna could not be more proactive. Although he did redeem himself in the later part of the book, I thought there was something lacking in the plot concerning his role as events played out in the book.
Constance Gracianna’s sister also comes to Paris, where she quickly marries a much older wealthy Frenchman. Constance is hot blooded and determined, and in an argument with her husband she attracts the unwanted attention of Two German officers who shoot her husband and beat her. She is accused of theft and sent to Auschwitz.
Constance's story of survival was compelling and I was actually drawn to her characters voice more than Gracianna's as her story was paced well and historically correct.  I would have liked Gracianna's story to have been more descriptive.

3 Stars

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Rose Under Fire

Rose under Fire
By Elizabeth Wein

Summery courtesy of
While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women's concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?

Elizabeth Wein, author of the critically-acclaimed and best-selling Code Name Verity, delivers another stunning WWII thriller. The unforgettable story of Rose Justice is forged from heart-wrenching courage, resolve, and the slim, bright chance of survival.


I HATE TO CRY, but I love reading Elizabeth Wein's books she writes with such heart felt emotion, that I'm usually through a box of tissues before I know it. Her books are well researched and historically precise, but heart wrenching. Her characters are vulnerable, brave and interesting and compelling.

Rose under Fire's main protagonist is Rose Justice, whose imprisoned at Ravensbruck concentration camp near the end of the war. The horrors of the camp are not sensationalized, they are based on true accounts and describe the atrocities that prisoners experienced on a daily basis. Wein's account about medical testing on the women prisoners was a horrific and traumatic read but definitely a necessary one.
I would recommend this to readers that like powerful narratives and characters that inspire hope.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for my advance copy.
4 Stars

Friday, 6 September 2013

Time Rep

Time Rep
By Peter Ward

Summery courtesy of
Imagine you’ve just been told you’re the most insignificant person who’s ever lived.

A nobody.

Somebody less important to the world than certain types of mushroom.

Not very nice, is it?

That’s exactly what happens to Geoffrey Stamp after a man from the year 3050 asks him to become a “Time Rep” – a tour guide for the 21st Century, meeting people from the future who travel back through time for their vacations.

You see, Time Reps need to be insignificant. Otherwise, when you go back in time and interfere with their destiny, the space-time continuum has a bit of a fit.

And we wouldn’t want that.

But when Geoffrey uncovers a conspiracy to change the course of history, he is sent on a mind-bending adventure through time and space involving an imaginary lake, a talking seagull, dinosaurs, aliens, the Great Fire of London, and the discovery that he might not be as insignificant as people thought…


Peter Ward's writing is compelling, he has a talent for world building that was intricately crafted it was paced well and the humor was dry - very reminiscent of Douglas Adam's A hitchhikers guide to the galaxy. His characters were well developed and fascinating.

Geoffrey Stamp the stories main protagonist is shocked and abit disconcerted, when he's told that he's totally insignificant and historically unimportant, making him the perfect tour guide for time traveling tourists.

Peter Ward had me laughing hysterically throughout this book, Geoffrey's reactions to being told he was historically insignificant was brilliantly written and captivated me, I couldn't read this book fast enough - it was just so absorbing.

His job is to show you the sites, the cities, and explain the local customs. But when Geoffrey uncovers a conspiracy to change the course of time his insignificant life, suddenly becomes a lot more important than people thought and he might just be the most important person in the world.

Peter Ward is definitely an author to watch fans of Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett will definitely enjoy Wards writing style.
4 Stars


By Will Jordan
Summery courtesy of

Afghanistan, 2008. A Black Hawk helicopter carrying a senior CIA operative is shot down by a surface to air missile, its lone passenger taken hostage by a fanatical new insurgent group.

Knowing this man holds information vital to the ongoing conflict, the CIA bring in Ryan Drake and his elite Shepherd team to find and rescue their lost operative.

But nothing is what it seems, and within hours of arriving in the war-torn country, Drake and his team find themselves caught in a deadly conflict between a brutal terrorist warlord and the ruthless leader of a private military company.
And lurking in the shadows is a woman from Drake's past determined to settle old scores


I like Will Jordan's writing, he supplies non stop action a great plot and characters that you root for. This book isn't even a book - it's a military action thriller,that feels like an action movie! It would be awesome, it has a high body count, exciting battles and villains that are ruthlessly cunning. This book was so surprising, Will Jordan is definitely an author to watch.

4 Stars