Spring Book Reviews

“Does Ella ever stop talking about books?”

The answer is a resounding NO. 

Ask my poor boyfriend, who has to battle and contend for my affections and attention on the constant.  Ask my mom, who gets a constant stream of texts about Greek mythology and the stories that are inspiring me this week.  And, ask the lovely people who follow me on Instagram, who have a never-ending reel of story updates about ‘what is next to be read on my shelf.’

Because of my quest for knowledge recently *AKA trying not to fuck up my degree* the first edition of Book Club – due to be running every month on Cigarette Sounds – is littered with my university readings.  Alas, here are 5 of the books I have adored the most from January-April. 

If you want a more regular ‘what I am reading update’ connect with me on Goodreads here.

She: A history of Adventure  – H. Ridder Haggard
Rating: 5*

A seemingly immortal, beautiful mad woman is discovered by Leo, and our protagonist/his ‘uncle’ Horace Holly, to be ruling a savage civilisation in remote East Africa, under the pseudonym ‘She’.  

This Victorian novel, by the seminal H. Rider Haggard, is simply sublime.  The novel explores themes of colonialism, female authority and the representation of womanhood (She is a badass) during the fin de siécle.  A brilliant/fast read.

Lady Audley’s Secret – Mary Elizabeth Braddon
Rating: 4*

A tragedy befalls Audley manor and all fingers point to one suspicious culprit… Robert Audley just needs cold, hard, solid proof who his friend was murdered by before pointing the finger.  An informed whodunit?

I am such a sucker for a good murder mystery, and Lady Audley’s Secret is a Victorian delight.  Exploring the idea of women in crime and gender roles, the novel is a round-the-houses long read (my edition is 479 pages) that is deeply rewarding.


How To Be A Woman – Caitlin Moran
Rating: 4*

Caitlin Moran details how she has navigated through life (so far) as a woman.  Her opinions on the burka, her up-close-and-personal meeting with supermodel Jordan (AKA Katie Price) and being chucked out of a strip club for looking like a Russian prostitute; ‘How To Be A Woman’ has it all.  Snort-orange-juice-out-of-your-nose funny and frankly raw and honest – everything Caitlin Moran touches turns to liquid gold. 

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brönte
Rating: 3*

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brönte needs no introduction.  This canonical text is world-widely loved and after years of pondering, I do finally understand why.

Of course, this book of coincidences – which is heavily dominated by religion – was radical at the time of it’s publishing (a first person, female narrative? SHOCKING) and still holds a special place in the hearts of period drama lovers across the globe.  But, I found it to be sporadically taxing and regularly repetitive.  Ultimately enjoyable, but I would never pick it up again.  The film adaptation for me, please. 

Shadow In The North – Phillip Pullman
Rating: 2* 

The second instalment of the Sally Lockhart adventures sees our protagonist dabbling in death, deceit and destruction.  Basically, all the best stuff.

Pullman can be such a bugger sometimes.  I failed reading His Dark Materials when I was about 15 (note to self: if at first, you do not succeed…) yet was captivated by The Ruby In The Smoke – our introduction into the fiery world of Lockhart.  It’s sequel, Shadow In The North, however, felt like an unnecessary filler with a hell of a lot of decay towards the latter half of the book.   

It just did not carry the spark which made Ruby In The Smoke twinkle, unfortunately. BUT, you should definitley still read it, as the other books in the series are superb.

And with that, the first book club of 2018 is adjourned. I am hoping to get the ball rolling on a monthly feature of books I’m reading so that I can recommend an abundance.

Next month, I will be reading/detailing Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (J.K Rowling), Renegade by Mark E. Smith and The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion  among others.

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