On My Bookshelf // April & May

I am about to sound like every other person on the face of the Earth but... how did June come around so quickly?! I cannot believe it has been a whole year since I left Canterbury, soon to be a Masters graduate. Back then, my rucksack was constantly weighed down with titles donning intimidating names I'm still not sure I understand. 'A spot of light reading' was a distant dream, smothered by grubby cloth bound library books that had collected the sweat and tears of stressed postgraduates for 40 years. The thought of settling down with a tome titled 'Military Transnationalism, Nationhood, and Masculinity in Post-Revolutionary France' insights violent thoughts that I happily quash nowadays with a paperback and a bourbon. Joking aside, I got a lot out of my masters degree, but I forgot how much I missed reading for the sheer pleasure of it.

Jane Eyre // Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre is one of the first 'grown up' books I read. Having gotten through Wuthering Heights during my last two years at school I was keen to read anything and everything from the Bronte sisters. Jane Eyre is a beautiful piece of literature. It's immersive, complex, sincere and deeply evocative. Don't be put off by a somber title, there's more heart in this novel than in most libraries.

Jane is orphaned to a cold and unforgiving household  before moving to the Lowood school as a child. Here she endures their cruel regime into her early adulthood, having experienced the death of a close friend, severe isolation and a strict adherence to Christian piety. Taking on the position of a governess, Jane meets the inimitable Mr. Rochester and soon finds her soul reawakened in search for a richer life than Victorian society traditionally allows. After reading this, you'll want to shout quotes into the wind from the middle of a muddy field. Not that I've done that, of course...

Snug Rating: 4.5 / 5

Very Good Lives // J.K Rowling

This book is a treasure, a keepsake, a little voice that loudly declares your self-worth back to you if ever you're feeling down. Very Good Lives is an illustrated transcript of the speech that JK did in front of the Harvard graduate class of 2008, and I prickle with envy every time I think of those students hearing her words aloud. The sub-title is 'The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination' - concepts that often creep up on me and that have impacted my life during the process of becoming an adult (I'm not there yet).

As a lifelong lover of Harry Potter, JK's speech, the rhythm, tone and flow of it, spoke to me like an old friend. She seeks not to provide answers to the niggling worries of young adults20's, but instead encourages us to accept failure, flaws and bumps in the road as a necessary part of growing up. That, combined with the power of imagination is what allows us to develop as self-sufficient and happy humans. Guys, JK gets us. Like, really gets us.

Snug Rating: 5 / 5

The Hourglass Factory // Lucy Ribchester

I went a bit nuts when I saw Amazon were doing a '3 for £10' offer on paperbacks and now my bookshelf is suffering from a serious case of 'over-stacking'. I was drawn to this book because I saw the words 'suffragettes', 'mystery' and 'modern period fiction' and knew this book was for me. Frankie is a budding female journalist, mocked for her trousers but not for her sharp pen. Ebony Diamond is a revered trapeze artist with a 15-inch waist. She's also a suffragette, but when she goes missing a whole can of worms is opened that sees Frankie sucked into a world of deceit, tightlacing and quite a bit of window smashing.

I really enjoyed this book - it's a brilliant light read and highly entertaining. Ok, the history nerd in me did get distracted by the questionable historical allusions, but the 'murder mystery' style plot kept me guessing right to the end and presents Victorian women in a refreshing, dynamic and all-around kick-ass way.

Snug Rating: 3.5 / 5

The Night Circus // Erin Morgenstern

This book is absolutely mesmerising, immersive and an altogether treat for the imagination. I'd heard a lot of hype about this book, but was put off by the front cover (never judge a book by it's cover?!). It looks a lot like a trashy beach read, but trust me the content far surpasses the covering. Overnight, a circus arrives without warning. It's black and white striped tents are huge in themselves but hold secrets that push the limits of possibility. Opening at nightfall and closing at sunrise, the circus travels the globe on a constant quest to entertain. However, behind the scenes a fierce competition is underway between two young sorcerers - a remarkable battle of ingenuity and wit that can only champion one winner.

I can't remember the last time I was so absorbed in a book. Honestly, I think it might have been Harry Potter. It's that good. People have cosplayed characters in The Night Circus. It's not even a film yet! Every sentence drips with description. I could almost taste the food, see the performance, and navigate my way around the circus' labyrinth of tents. I didn't want it to end! I think a full review is on the way...

Snug Rating // 5 / 5

What have you been reading in the past few months? Have you come across any of these titles before? 

'On My Bookshelf...' is a regular series, showcasing mini book reviews of everything I've read. Find more here.

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