Worthy Thoughts

Books, reading, life & other worthy thoughts

 

The Things That Will Not Stand - Michael Gerard Bauer

Author: Michael Gerard Bauer

Publisher: Scholastic Australia

Sebastian is at a university open day with his best friend Tolly when he meets a girl. Her name is Frida, and she’s edgy, caustic and funny. She’s also a storyteller, but the stories she tells about herself don’t ring true, and as their surprising and eventful day together unfolds, Sebastian struggles to sort the fact from the fiction.

But how much can he expect Frida to share in just one day? And how much of his own self and his own secrets will he be willing to reveal in return?

I love Michael Gerard Bauer’s writing. From the beginning, I enjoyed this book because it was full of Bauer’s trademark humour.

As the book progressed though, Frida started to irritate me. I am not good with people who can’t tell the truth. I guess this comes from associating with people who lie constantly. I hate it when I am not sure if someone is telling me the truth because they have told so many lies in the past, so I had a hard time with Frida and her pathological lying.

I did love the banter between all the characters and I particularly adored Tolly. Seb, at times, was a little pathetic and Frida with her lying irritated me, but Tolly was perfect. He was funny, intelligent and the type of person you wished you were friends with. To be perfectly honest I couldn’t understand why Tolly was friends with Seb.

Tolly stole the book from the moment his character was introduced.

‘We’ve had numerous complaints from our other patrons regarding the excessive drug use, offensive language and obscene behaviour at this table.’

I check Frida’s reaction. She’s observing him closely, like she’s dissecting him and peeling back the layers with her eyes.

His introduction is perfect. He flawlessly moves into the banter without missing a beat with Frida and Seb. For some time during the book, I seriously couldn’t understand why Frida preferred Seb over Tolly.

Bauer’s writing is hilarious. The Things That Will Not Stand is wonderfully funny and you will find yourself laughing out loud. Yes, I was little irritated by Frida and her lying. Yes, I thought that Seb was a bit of an idiot, but Bauer writes in such a way that you go through these emotions and yet at the end of the book you feel genuinely for these characters.

The Things That Will Not Stand is pure Bauer. It is heartbreaking and funny. I will admit that towards the end of the book I had reached my limit with Seb’s idiocy and Frida’s lying and then suddenly Bauer takes a different direction (and it isn’t like you didn’t know it was coming), but somehow he had me caring for these characters.  When reading the final chapters, I had tears running down my face (and I hardly ever cry when reading). I finished this book and I realised that for all their annoyances I liked Frida and Seb and I wanted them to be happy.

And despite my irritation, there were times when I enjoyed Frida and Seb a lot. I emphasised with Seb a lot more than I would like to admit (maybe he annoyed me because I saw a lot of me in him!).

There are two words I’m desperately hoping no one utters while we are here. Audience participation. More like audience humiliation is the way I see it. Why couldn’t we have gone to the drones? I’m missing them already. Drones are great. Drones do their thing in the sky. Alone. Drones never expect you to get up there and join them. Drones don’t force you to be part of their show. Drones don’t expect anything of you at all. They just let you be. People should be more like drones!

Oh Seb, I hear you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I wanted to love this book and that is always a recipe for disaster, but sometimes that much-hyped book lives up to all expectations and I was hoping that this book would do just that. “Salinger for the Snapchat generation: critics unite to praise 27-year-old novelist” was the headline for one review I read. I guess I should have been wary from the get-go – I don’t like Salinger and I am not from the Snapchat generation.

I didn’t dislike the book. I liked Normal People, but I didn’t love it. I can’t say that I enjoyed it because it isn’t a book that you ‘enjoy’.

In a nutshell, the story is of a relationship between two people, Connell and Marianne. We are introduced to the two characters while they are in high school and we follow their lives through to adulthood.

In high school, Marianne is wealthy, beautiful, skinny, smart but a social outcast. Connell is poor, gorgeous, athletic, intelligent and popular. The two are drawn together and start an illicit affair. Connell is terrified that people will find out that the two are sleeping together and makes Marianne swear that she won’t tell anyone. Marianne adores Connell and keeps his secret. The reason why she does this becomes apparent as the book progresses.

The two go off to university and the tables are turned. Marianne is suddenly popular and sought after and Connell, due to his shyness, finds it hard to make friends. The two find themselves drawn together once again and begin a relationship. Though Connell adores and loves Marianne, there always feels like an imbalance of power. It would appear that Marianne needs Connell more than he needs her. Of course, this is quite a simplistic view and the relationship is much more than this. Over the years the two find themselves in relationships with other people. Marianne finds she has a masochistic streak and this takes her into some relationships that are far from healthy. From the outside, Connell appears to have a healthy relationship with his dull girlfriend but has he chosen the safe route to make himself believe he is happy.

The book focuses a lot on Marianne and that she feels she isn’t worthy to be loved by another person. Rooney allows the reader to believe that this is because she comes from an abusive, cold and unloving family. Personally, I felt Connell had a lot to answer for when it came to Marianne’s insecurities. Marianne’s first relationship was with Connell where she was sworn to secrecy because Connell was embarrassed and ashamed that he was sleeping with Marianne. I was also offended when later in the book Connell was “disappointed” in Marianne and use the word, “spinelessness” to describe her when Connell was the epitome of “spinelessness” as far as I was concerned.

Rooney touches on bullying in her book. I thought she made some excellent insights and her writing in certain parts of the book where bullying was addressed was thoughtful and beautiful.

You learn nothing very profound about yourself simply by being bullied, but by bullying someone else, you learn something you can never forget.

As the book progressed, I found myself disliking the two main characters. I couldn’t understand why they were so drawn to each other. I probably disliked Connell more than Marianne. In lots of ways, I understood Marianne’s pain and her intense dislike of herself. I wish she could have learnt to like herself without Connell. I found Connell entirely selfish and indulgent. He said the right things and did the right things, but it never seems to come from a genuine place. I think he was more screwed up than Marianne and that she deserved way better. I never bought into the misunderstood, insecure, anxiety-ridden writer that Rooney made out that Connell was.

Normal People is a well-written book. The dialogue between the characters is thoughtful and beautifully written. I may have missed the whole premise of the book, but it all felt a little too trite for me, and even Rooney’s exceptional writing couldn’t save it (for me). I do think that Rooney is a smart and insightful writer and I did take a lot away from reading this book – just not what everyone else did. I do think she knows how to write emotion and I felt Marianne’s pain intensely. I think we have all been in that dark place where we have felt that we don’t deserve love.

I did find that once I started this novel, it was compelling reading, but I don’t think I was mesmerised by the Connell and Marianne love story.

I started this blog because over the years I have written reviews in notebooks, but it has been a haphazard affair. I thought by writing my thoughts into a blog there would be more of a consistent approach and I would be able to have all my thoughts in one place.

In lots of ways it a journal (but a public one), so I  thought I might jot other ideas down as well and then at the end of the year or through the year, I can look back on what I was enjoying at the time.

Book I’m Reading

Normal People : Winner of the 2018 Costa Prize for Best New Novel - Sally Rooney

At the moment I am reading Normal People by Sally Rooney. This book came recommended to me by a friend. On looking into the book, I realised that it was a BIG deal and I wondered why I hadn’t heard about it. Upon ‘googling’ I discovered that Sally Rooney is the next big thing. I bought the book, but for some reason, I was hesitant to start reading, probably because I am always terrified that it won’t live up to expectations.

I am enjoying the book and I am engaged with the two characters – Connell and Marianne. I do like that the two characters are sensitive, intelligent and yet awkward and unsure. I know this book has received rave reviews and I am probably halfway through so I will refrain from commentary too much because at this point in the book I don’t understand the hype that it has received. On saying that, I do love the character, Lorraine, Connell’s mother – she’s smart, sassy, kind and knows the difference being right and wrong. I like that she’s a young single mum and she provides Connell with a strong moral compass.  I am halfway through the book, but I am sensing where the book is heading, but let’s wait and see if I’m right.

Books I’ve Read

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I first read What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty on my kindle. I will often read books on my kindle that I want to read but which I don’t think I will love and want a hard copy of. How mistaken was I! I loved this book. I believe that this is Liane Moriarty BEST book. Forget Big Little Lies! 

Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.

So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. 

Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over.

This book makes me laugh out loud and considering the topics include infertility, divorce, amnesia and death it shouldn’t, but Moriarty manages to write a book that is both beautifully moving and absolutely hilarious.

I like Liane Moriarty’s books but I’m not a HUGE fan but I love this book. I love this book enough to go out and buy a hard copy for my collection. The characters are funny, endearing and likeable. The story is told by three characters and Moriarty weaves these three voices masterfully. 

‘Busy,’ repeated Alice. She didn’t like the sound of that at all. She had always had a slight mistrust of busy people; the sort of people who described themselves as ‘Flat out! Frantic!’ What was the hurry? Why didn’t they slow down? Just what exactly were they so busy doing?’

Do yourself a favour and read it.

Shows I’m Watching

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At the moment I am feeling frustrated with television. I love TV. Before Netflix I loved TV. I have always been a TV addict. At the moment though I spent most of my time trying to find a show that isn’t centred on violence or drugs. That isn’t dark and depressing. I do watch these shows, but I need something lighter at the moment. 

I am re-watching Hart of Dixie which is absolutely delightful. I loved this show when I watched it the first time and I love it even more on my second viewing. I love that it isn’t dark and depressing. I love that the characters aren’t super bitchy. I love that the clothes in the show are fun. I love that it is funny, witty and charming. I love the setting – absolutely gorgeous. I like a show that is set in a small town with wacky characters and this is Hart of Dixie.  What I love about Hart of Dixie is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously – a show doesn’t need to be pushing boundaries – sometimes all a viewer wants is to be entertained.

I am on the third season of four seasons and I am not sure what I will do when I have finished watching this light-hearted but adorable show. I am told that Jane the Virgin may fit my bill, but I am going to miss Bluebell. I seriously want to find a real-life Bluebell and move there.

Latest adventure

Recently we took a trip to Brisbane for the weekend. We stayed at the Next Hotel in the city or the old Lennon’s Hotel. The hotel was superb. The staff were friendly and accommodating and made the trip a great one. The hotel is smack bang in the Brisbane mall, so getting around the CBD was a breeze. Next Hotel is centrally located, but it has a lovely feel. You would walk into the hotel, up the escalators and the busyness of the city would disappear. We were lucky enough to upgrade to a King room and the King bed was HUGE and comfortable. 

On Friday night we made our way to Caxton Street and had dinner at Brewski Bar. I had a Brewski Beef burger which was delicious and my partner had a vegan cheeseburger which he declared was delicious. A big call from a discerning vegetarian. The service was friendly and relaxed. We will definitely be paying a return visit.

On Saturday we managed to fit in a walk to Southbank and after dinner, on Saturday night we made our way to the City Botanic Gardens to view the fig trees lit up with fairy lights (opposite the Goodwill Bridge). I have seen all the photos on Instagram and I wanted to look at the trees. They were beautiful!

It was a fun trip and of course, we visited one or two bookshops as well. 

His Name Was Walter

January 7, 2019

walter

From Australia’s favourite storyteller comes a story, within a story, that shows us the extraordinary power of true love and solves a decades-old mystery. ‘Once upon a time, in a dark city far away, there lived a boy called Walter, who had nothing but his name to call his own …’ The handwritten book, with its strangely vivid illustrations, has been hidden in the old house for a long, long time. Tonight, four kids and their teacher will find it. Tonight, at last, the haunting story of Walter and the mysterious, tragic girl called Sparrow will be read – right to the very end … From one of Australia’s most renowned children’s authors, comes an extraordinary story within a story – a mystery, a prophecy, a long-buried secret. And five people who will remember this night as long as they live.

What an amazing book! I love Emily Rodda when she writes in this manner – encompassing touches of yesteryear, folklore, fantasy, reality and mystery.  Everything about this book is divine – the language, the characters and the writing.

Emily Rodda has written an excellent novel where four children and a teacher on a history excursion get stranded overnight in a scary house and they find a book and become enthralled by the story of Walter.

When I started this book, I didn’t have high expectations, but I soon became mesmerised by the story or more particularly the story within the story.

The story within the story at first seems like nonsense – a boy raised by bees, who work for mice, meets a witch who turns into a cat, lives with a landlord who’s a chicken and falls in love with a young woman who turns into a sparrow. At first, I started to think that my reservations about this book were justified, but soon I was caught up in young Walter’s story and I was utterly captivated and like the four children on the excursion who have found the handwritten book I couldn’t put this book down.

What I loved the most was that as a reader I was given an active role alongside the school excursion children in solving Walter’s fascinating mystery. The way Emily Rodda incorporated the reality of the day with the handwritten story of Walter was terrific. What a skilled writer!

His Name Was Walter will bewitch readers with its fantasy and mystery elements and then Rodda ties it all up with a neat, beautiful bow. Absolutely enchanting.

Well, the 2018 catch up continues…

nine-perfect-strangers

I read this book quite some time ago and once again I left it in the “too hard’ pile to review. It isn’t a great book, but it also isn’t a bad book. I understand the great appeal of Liane Moriarty but I also sometimes think that her books are too hyped up and this can sometimes leave the reader feeling disappointed. Aside from this, I imagine that Liane Moriarty would be an absolutely delightful person to hang out with because she is a great observer. Her characters are always are well-described and you feel very comfortable hanging out with Moriarty’s characters because you either see yourself as one of them or you know people like them. She gives her characters nicknames and don’t we all do that in real life.

Once again Moriarty has created an assorted crew of characters and has sent them off to a health retreat. Of course, being a Moriarty novel nothing goes to plan and this novel takes an unexpected turn that I don’t think anyone could have predicted. The plot twist is quite outlandish and I don’t believe Moriarty necessarily needed to go in this direction with this book, but hey she can do whatever she wants with her writing. The story wasn’t to my liking, but what I did like was the brilliant characters who made me laugh uproariously. I also loved the ending. I love how Moriarty ties everything together. As I said, I may not have completely loved the plot, but I do like the way Moriarty creates characters.

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Following the events of The Dark Days Club (2016), Lady Helen is back and she’s slowly coming to terms with her new life.

I like this book better than the first book. I enjoyed the historical aspect of the novel and I also felt that Goodman was able to fully develop the characters and the story. I felt that after reading this book, I had a better grasp of both the regency and fantasy world.

Goodman’s books are impeccably researched and her writing is original. Historical fantasy is a difficult genre to pull off but she does so with ease. This book is set in Brighton and Goodman sets the era beautifully.

With this second book, the characters are fully formed and we get a real sense of the world that Helen is entering. Goodman has created a story that has many layers and she slowly but surely builds the tension and the plot until it reaches its climax which is action-packed. For those that enjoy their romance, there is a love triangle which is deftly written.

Helen is a strong female protagonist in a world that favours men. A brilliant book that combines humour, brutality, history and fantasy. I look forward to reading the third and final instalment.


                            THE FAVORITE SISTER by Jessica Knoll

I loved Jessica Knoll’s Luckiest Girl Alive. I found The Favorite Sister harder to get into, even though it was set in the world of reality TV and I have an endless fascination with reality TV.

The Favourite Sister is set in New York and the reality TV show is called Goal Diggers. The show centres around women who are all different but who are all out there in the world creating their success and money (unlike the desperate housewives). The women are only invited to come on the show if they are successful business women making a difference.

Brett Courtney is the youngest cast member. A beautiful woman in her twenties who doesn’t fit the thin is beautiful mantra. Her success has been built upon the popular WeSPOKE spinning classes, but she is about exercise for health. Brett is gorgeous, rich, successful and a proud lesbian.

Stephanie Simmons is the only African-American cast member and a bestselling author. Despite Stephanie’s overwhelming success and her stunning looks, she battles with crippling self-doubt and depression.

Jen Greenberg is the authority in juice-bars and veganism. She prides herself on her healthy lifestyle and her thin physique, but secretly Jen craves bacon.

Lauren Bunn is a dating website creator. Her app is a must-have and she lives a life of partying and excess. Lauren is known as Lauren Fun! Though, Lauren secretly wishes for a husband and children and a stable lifestyle.

Our last cast member is Kelly who is Brett’s sister. Kelly is everything that Brett wishes she was – thin, beautiful and her parents’ favourite. Kelly has a twelve-year-old daughter who is strikingly beautiful and impressive in her own right. Kelly’s demon is her relationship with her sister, Brett, which has been built on resentment and jealousy.

Throw in an executive producer, Jesse Barnes, who on the surface appears to fight for women rights but loves it when her “stars” are insecure, fighting or on the brink of a breakdown. Add to the mix showrunner Lisa Griffin who stirs the pot and you have the makings of a sensational story.

Add a murder, conniving women, scandals, secrets and snark and you have quite the page-turner. These women play to win and their position on the show isn’t secure. A cast member is bumped at the end of every season and replaced with a new shinier version.

At times this book is TOO much and it can be quite exhausting. It is slow to get going and you don’t honestly get to know all the characters in quite the manner that you should and so when the murderer and secrets are revealed you don’t particularly care.

Knoll is good at creating drama, but she needs to work on her character building. There was no satisfaction at the end when all was revealed. Though, if you want an entertaining read that’s not too taxing, then this is the book for you. It also provides a fabulously wicked look at the world of reality TV which is anything but real.


                            THE LAST MRS. PARRISH by Liv Constantine

If you are looking for a fun read, then this is the book for you. All the ingredients are there – the wealthy woman, the handsome husband and the manipulative con-artist. The Last Mrs Parrish is a gripping book that will have you turning the pages.

If you read enough books, you will quickly realise that all is not as it seems in this thriller, but still, there are enough twists and turns in this book to keep you entertained.

I found it a little too contrived and cliche at the end, but that was just me.  I will admit I did find it thoroughly entertaining – lots of melodrama. If you are looking for an amusing and compelling book for pure entertainment, then look no further.

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Irene Winters, an interdimensional Librarian seeking rare books across alternate worlds – hooked, yeah so was I! What a great premise for a book.

I’ve read lots of reviews on this book and the majority of people loved it, so why didn’t I share their love? I just felt like Cogman crammed too much into one book and she lost the premise of the book which was fundamentally why I wanted to read this book.

Maybe she was worried that she wouldn’t get a second book and wanted to put all her ideas into one book, but this book was TOO much. There were dragons, faeries, librarians, Sherlock Holmes type characters, villains, steampunk, Grimms Fairy Tales, vampires and werewolves…and so much more!!

The result was that Cogman lost sight of the story and it was lost in amongst all the hijinks and other stuff. I know she was trying to make it quirky, edgy, different and cool but it didn’t quite work.

Though, as I said many have loved this book, so maybe it is just me.

So, I think I am all caught up. I know that I have missed some books and next year I will try to be more diligent with my blogging. I hope that someone out there is reading this blog, but I guess for the most part it is a way for me to keep track of what I am reading. Next year I hope to include other stuff besides what I am reading. I have a few ideas and hopefully, they will come to fruition.

We are almost at the end of 2018. Before I started this blog, I would write down short reviews on each book I read (I would do this by hand in a notebook), this became a difficult task to keep up with and so I thought that writing reviews in a blog format would keep me more on track. Though I have read a lot of books this year and I haven’t reviewed them. I have decided that maybe at the end of each month I could write short reviews on all the books that I have read so that I can keep track of my reading and have a record of books that I have read that year.

The following books were read in 2018; I either didn’t review them because I felt that I didn’t have much to offer that hadn’t already been said or I just was too lazy.

throne

I had read a lot about this book and it was recommended to me by the boys at my school. Yes, boys will read books with a strong female protagonist – you just need to make the sure the cover isn’t too girlie.

I enjoyed this book, but I am not itching to read the other books in the series. Most likely I will read the books – eventually. The fact that I am not clambering to read the other books in the series probably speaks volumes about my feelings for the book.

The book has a lot going on – a teenage assassin, a rebel princess, supernatural elements, a glass castle and a brutal and violent competition between criminals and murderers.

I did enjoy the character of Celaena; she is strong, talented, funny and intelligent and I will most likely read the other books to learn more about her. I am particularly curious about her backstory and I would like to read more about her life as an assassin. She intrigues me.

rescue

I bought this book in a secondhand bookshop. I have read a few of Anita Shreve’s novels and have enjoyed her work. Though, this book doesn’t quite hit the mark that Shreve’s other books have. Set in New England, the book doesn’t quite capture the small town uniqueness of New England living that Shreve’s books usually do. I didn’t find that I connected with any of the characters and for a novel like this to work you need to feel for the characters. Shreve writes well, but this book feels forced and cliché.

visitor

The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins is a disconcerting page-turner that will have readers trying to connect all the pieces from the beginning. Right from the first page, Atkins manages to create a sinister feel to this story. It is this ominous feeling that Atkins creates that will capture readers. The book centres around Olivia Sweetman and Vivian Tester. Olivia is a renowned historian whose career has taken off – adored by the academic world and the world of popular culture. Olivia has made history edgy and popular with her charismatic personality and her TV good looks. Vivian Tester is a middle-aged housekeeper who is intelligent though socially awkward. Usually, these two women would have never crossed paths, but Vivian has presented Olivia with a Victorian diary containing a scandalous confession written by one of the first women doctors. Olivia knows that this is the perfect story for her new book and is desperate to have the rights to the diary. The only catch is that Vivian also comes with the diary. Together they forge a tense working relationship and write a book that is guaranteed to be a bestseller. As the book is being researched and written the reader is given clues that all is not right with either of these women and that both have secrets. The text at times becomes too much and it feels like Atkins relies too much on foreshadowing that isn’t entirely necessary because there are enough twists and turns to keep the reader involved and the ending is spine-chilling enough to have you questioning the story for the days after you read the final page.

thunder

Shusterman’s sequel to the provocative Scythe. Thunderhead is an excellent book and I held off from writing a review because I didn’t quite know how to do this book justice or to write anything new or original in a review. Shusterman’s first novel was a challenging premise concerning human mortality. What happens when we are no longer mortal?

The Thunderhead is a supercomputer made of the sum-total of humanity’s knowledge. It is a kindly and compassionate ruler, but it is still bound by rules. In the first novel, we grow to understand the world of scythes and the Thunderhead sits in the background like an overlord. In this novel, the Thunderhead becomes a character in its own right.

Shusterman takes this book up a notch by introducing us to the Thunderhead – the artificial intelligence that manages virtually all aspects of life on Earth.

All I can do is watch unblinkingly as my beloved humankind slowly weaves the rope it will use to hang itself.

The Thunderhead is troubled. The Thunderhead wants to intervene because it can see that this utopia is under threat, but the Thunderhead isn’t allowed to interfere. So what does the Thunderhead do when it can see that its beloved humankind and paradise is under threat? This is a world that defies death, ageing, sickness, poverty and wars but has put its faith in a group of humans who decide who lives and who dies.

The sequel digs deeper into Shusterman’s multifaceted world and complicated characters. No society is perfect, not even a world which appears complete. When humans are involved there will always be political manoeuvrings and conspiracies. There will still be a thirst for power.

Shusterman delivers a book that action-packed but also thought-provoking. An intelligent, entertaining and humorous read with death at its core.

Still, so many books to catch up on, but this will do for today’s post. I will make sure that I write another post before 2019 with all the books that I have read for 2018, so the 2019 blog can begin fresh for the new year!

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Author: Nikki McWatters

Publisher: University of Queensland Press

Liberty is a magnificent book about three women who lived in three different centuries but who were all fighting for the same reason – their freedom.

Firstly, we are introduced to Jeanne, a teenage girl living in 1472, France. Jeanne is from a poor, disgraced family – her father is known as Matthew, the Coward. Due to her family’s lack of circumstances, Jeanne is forced into an arranged marriage. At the same time that Jeanne is dealing with the fact that she can’t marry the man she loves, war is coming to her beloved town of Beauvais. The townspeople have elected to fight their enemy, even though their numbers are low and they are not suitably equipped to fight.

In 1797 Ireland, Betsy is living in her much-loved Ireland and has joined the rebel army along with her brother and best friend to free Ireland from English rule. Betsy and the rebel army want Ireland to be liberated and they want to live lives free from oppression.

Our final story is told from Fiona’s perspective. The year is 1968 and Fiona is heading off to university for her first year as a law student. During this time, Fiona’s brother receives his draft notice and suddenly Fiona begins to take more notice of the anti-Vietnam protests that are occurring around her.

What I particularly loved about this book was that though each story is fiction, they are based on real events that happened in history. Jeanne and Betsy are both real women from our past and I’ve no doubt that there was a real-life Fiona who was grappling with what was happening in 1968 and wondering how she could make a difference.

It is evident that McWatters has done extensive research for this book. Each story is distinct. The sense of the period in each story is unmistakable. Each story unfolds in alternate chapters and there is never any confusion of which story is being told – each young woman is distinct and each story is captivating.

If I had to pick a favourite, it would be Betsy. At the beginning of Betsy’s story, she is spirited, young and a little naive. Being so young Betsy is idealistic and sees that England occupying her treasured Ireland is wrong. By the end of Betsy’s story, she is still young, but she considers life with more matured eyes. Betsy has fought a battle and that battle has made her wiser and stronger. Betsy has been through a war and she now knows the exact price of war, but still, her spirit and resolve remains strong. McWatters is a master writer because since finishing this book, Betsy has never been far from my thoughts.

Being a student of history, I know that rarely is history told through the eyes of females and so this book by McWatters is quite remarkable.  I love that McWatters sheds light on two brilliant young women from history who fought for what they believed. I loved that McWatters showed that women were making a difference. I also loved that McWatters showed men and women working together to make a difference. Jeanne, Betsy and Fiona all had strong and supportive men in their lives. These men knew what these women were capable of and they wanted to help these women reach their potential. The men in these women’s lives were in awe of these strong, independent and spirited women. I loved that these were stories of women empowering women but also of strong, decent men empowering women.

Liberty is a brilliant book for women and men. I hope that young men read this book and are just as inspired as the young women readers.  If you love politics, this is the book for you. If you love history, this is the book for you. If you love great storytelling, this is the book for you.

Thank you, Nikki Mc Watters, for giving us a book that resonates long after you have finished reading.

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