Archive for August, 2019

We’ve all seen him: the man – the monster – staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime.

But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him?
Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming.

Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil.

But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.

Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.

The Widow

Fiona Barton


Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan Butterworth

Jean Taylor has had two years in the spotlight after her husband Glen had been accused of being involved in the disappearance of three year old Bella Elliot. Her mother Dawn had been inside doing household chores when Bella ran outside, following her cat into the small front garden. When Dawn went to call her a few minutes later, there was no trace.  Now Glen is dead after being hit by a bus and public interest in the case has returned.

When Dawn rang 999 to report Bella’s disappearance to the police, Detective Inspector Bob Sparkes headed up the investigation. The Police rapidly came to the conclusion that this is no simple abduction.  Glen Taylor became a Person of Interest to the investigation when a neighbour of Dawn’s remembered down a blue van similar to Taylor’s van in the area at about the time of Bella’s disappearance.  As the investigation continues into Glen and Jean Taylor’s background, discrepancies appear. Their computer is seized by the Police so that forensics can do a search of the hard drive.

Kate Waters, a reporter for the Daily Post, wants to tell Jean’s side of the story.  Jean finds herself targeted by reporters who want to know everything she’s been holding back all these years.  She eventually gives in to the pressure of the press and sells her story to Kate.

Told from the perspective of these three characters, the story shifts back and forth in time – from the crime in 2006 to glen’s death in 2010.  I found it easy to keep track of whose point of view it was, even with the time shift, as each chapter was labelled by perspective: The Detective, The Reporter, The Husband, and The Widow, and what date it was.

I found this a well written page turner that was hard to put down as I had to find out the whom and why regarding Bella Elliot’s disappearance and possible death. The book had a good plot and flowed along at a steady pace, holding my interest right up until the ending which was a bit of a surprise ut very clever and it wrapped the story up neatly.

I recommend this book to any fan of psychological suspense novels.

If this were the ancient Egypt of our time line, the year that this story begins would be around 1365 BCE.

It isn’t.

If this were the ancient Egypt of our time line it would be only a nation.

It’s an Empire.

If this were the ancient Egypt of our time line it would be known by that name.

It’s Napata.

And if this were the ancient Egypt of our time line then the Gods wouldn’t be real. It isn’t and—

They are!

Bastet’s Daughters

Lyn McConchie

Wildside Press

Gift from the author

Reviewed by Jacqui Smith

I have to say I was seriously impressed by the amount of research Lyn put into this novel set in an alternate ancient Egypt. Unlike some other authors’ attempts to write in ancient societies this story manages to feel at least somewhat authentic, avoiding the fatal error of imposing modern mores on an earlier time, while making it quite clear that this is not exactly our world. The time period is around 1350 BC, Akhenaton is Pharaoh, but in this world the gods of what we call ancient Egypt are real, and so is magic. And so are cats.

Akhenaton and his priests are the villains in this tale, attempting to impose the worship of Ra alone everywhere, including in Hanish where Bastet is preeminent. Fortunately, the people of Hanish have knowledge of a possible way out, and the story is all about how they make it work, and how they make their escape. It’s a little predictable, but a good story nevertheless. And there are cats.

Once there was a clever girl who liked searching for interesting things on the ground. She wanted to know why shells could be found in rocks so far away from the sea. But her father thought education was no use to a girl, so Joan had to leave school.

Many years later, she bought an old map. To her amazement, she saw that it marked a treasure hoard. Not of gold and jewels, but of dinosaur bones.

Nobody had ever found dinosaur fossils in New Zealand before – in fact, top scientists had said it was impossible. But Joan was intrigued. She decided to learn everything she could about palaeontology and hunt for these dinosaur fossils.

This is the fifth picture book in an acclaimed series of true stories about the lives of famous Kiwis written by David Hill and magnificently illustrated by Phoebe Morris.

Dinosaur Hunter: Joan Wiffen’s Awesome Fossil Discoveries

David Hill & Phoebe Morris

Picture Puffin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan Butterworth

“I can dream.  That’s one of the big things in life.”  Joan Wiffen

Until the late 1960s scientists believed dinosaurs never lived in New Zealand.  Then a dinosaur skull was found in Australia in 1968 and the thinking changed.  Now scientists thought they could have lived in New Zealand but needed proof.

This book tells the story of how a farm wife from the Hawke’s Bay proved New Zealand once had its own dinosaurs and became an international expert in dinosaur fossils.

The clever drawings tell the story of how she became interested in geology and fossils, then how she discovered a map showing the remote Mangahouanga Stream as a possible location of bones  and decided to go digging.  After sending a plaster cast of her findings to an Australian museum, they confirmed it was the vertebrae of a 70 million year old theropod – a dinosaur the size of a truck with sharp, saw-edged teeth.

Joan Wiffen had made a ground-breaking discovery and re-wrote history.

The Wiffen’s and their helpers continued exploring the remote stream for the next thirty years and made more fossil discoveries.  Some of those dinosaurs are cleverly illustrated in the final pages, along with a handy timeline of Joan Wiffen’s life.

This book was interesting as I hadn’t really paid attention to prehistoric New Zealand.  I vaguely knew that fossils of giant penguins and sharks the length of cricket pitches had been found but not actual dinosaurs.  Joan Wiffen also seems an inspiring woman more attention should be paid to.

Any dinosaur fan will love this book.  As well as those who aren’t dinosaur fans but like interesting women.