Evie’s War by Anna Mackenzie

Gripping YA title set in WWI

Gripping YA title set in WWI

It’s a long time since I’ve read a book in diary form and I wasn’t sure how I would find the format. Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks was an impressionable book for me as a teenager and I remember how I became unaware of the changing dates as I became engrossed in the book. I expected the same experience when I picked up Evie’s War by Anna Mackenzie. However I was surprised to find that the passing days and dates added to the tension of the story and I found myself studying the order of events with a sense of foreboding or relief depending on the stage I was up to in my reading .

Evie’s War is a triumph for Anna as she marries the fictional life of Evie with the realities and facts of World War One.

Evie is a young eighteen year old, traveling to Europe for a holiday. In the beginning, the story captures the differences between colonial NZ and Edwardian England as well as the way of life for the newcomers. I was lulled by the gentile era, the tea parties, the ignorance of the children. but as war encroached on England in 1915, young Evie was forced to grow up in a hurry and I was jolted out of my comfortable reading. She railed against the constrictions of the day, the dress, the customs, the lack of equality between the sexes and Evie’s development was real and fascinating. The reality of WW1 in all its gritty horror was spilled onto the pages and it was heartbreaking to read of Evie’s loved ones being killed or injured.

Anna McKenzie’s research is phenomenal and as a zealous reader of WW2 stories, it was an eye-opener to read about a war that I knew less about. I would recommend this book to people of all ages starting with teenagers, 13 and older.

Songs about Books

(Or Literary Matters).

Sitting on my music stand, waiting to be learned…….

I love it when someone tells me they’ve just heard a great song that I should learn. Nothing is more tempting than a peep at another person’s musical tastes or else a peep at what they believe are my musical tastes.

Recently two of my sisters went to a jazz concert where they listened to a rendition of a Rupert Holmes song.

That name ring a bell? It didn’t for me either.

The song was the people that you never get to love. I checked it out and found that Rupert Holmes was most famous for his song, Escape, (the Pina Colada song).

Then, I checked out Rupert Holmes and found he was a musician, a playwright, a novelist, a scriptwriter for TV as well as being an accomplished lyricist. The lyrics for the people that you never get to love are teased out, clever and make you concentrate on the words. It’s lazy, smoky back-bar and jazzy.

The chords (and the actual playing of the piece) is proving to be trickier, but hey, that’s why it’s on my music stand.

I’ve included a link of Alix Paige singing it. Click here to see the video.

And speaking of literary songs I stumbled across Mrs Hemingway by Mary Chapin-Carpenter and I love that as well.

I’ve had a fascination with Hadley and all that happened to her and it was intensified when I read Paula McLean’s book, The Paris Wife a couple of years ago.

Mrs Hemingway is easier to play in Eb maj rather than Rupert Holmes’s song with its complicated jazz key, but it has its surprises too. Neither song is listed on any of the chord cheat sites so it’s a matter of the good old fashioned, figuring it out (or ringing a family member).

This is the link: 

Mary CC is another talented musician with five grammy awards to her name. I read that she’s a columnist, a spokesperson for human rights issues and she doesn’t want to be pigeon holed for her musical taste. Hmmm

Trilemma by Jennifer Mortimer

Trilemma, a novel by Jennifer Mortimer is the first book I’d like to comment on and it’s Jennifer’s first novel. It has been published by an American publishing firm, Oceanview Publishing, and is on the long list for the Ngaio Marsh Crime Awards at the moment — a great achievement for a first book.


I need to say in the first instance that I know Jennifer; we were both in the Whitireia Novel writing class the same year, and I always enjoyed critiquing her work. Even in our class exercises, she shone as someone with a dry wit, a point of difference and an honest approach to life’s problems.

Jennifer describes her genre as Executive Chick Lit, but after reading her novel, I think the book has wider appeal than that and that men would enjoy this book equally as much as women.


It’s a slow-boil suspense and as a reader I was lulled into a false sense of security about the danger Lin (the protagonist) was in. Lin is aware of the threats to her in the business world and meets those threats head-on, but she is naive as to the danger that is stalking her in her private life.

Jennifer Mortimer has been in several executive business positions herself, both here in New Zealand and also in America. She knows the cut and thrust of the boardroom and is as comfortable in that world as she is in a bar or a bedroom. Having said that, there’s plenty written about bars and bedrooms, but the insight I had into corporate life, especially from a woman’s perspective was fascinating.

It seems a lonely post running a company and it was made more difficult for Lin who had to defend her corner in a male-dominated world. There were some great touches as we saw New Zealand through the eyes of Lin, the American.

Trilemma is a very good, intriguing read, a beautiful cover and hopefully the first of many books from this talented writer.