Today’s post is going to be my (slightly) delayed October wrap up.
I had a very good reading month this month. I struggled a bit in the beginning with being in a bit of a reading slump but quickly got out of that and really enjoyed a lot of the books I read this month! I think there’s something about the autumnal months and weather that make me want to read more.
The Witches by Roald Dahl
This is a re-read for me, albeit a re-read from when I was a child. I wasn’t surprised to find out that this book hasn’t lost any of its magic for me. There’s nothing better than bringing back childhood memories as an adult, particularly during these difficult times. There’s nothing more warming than the feeling of nostalgia. This book tells of a boy’s story of being turned into a mouse after an encounter with witches at a Bournemouth hotel. Alongside his gran, they try to rid the world of all witches. I forgot how much I loved Roald Dahl’s writing; it’s so fun. The descriptions of witches that they all wear wigs because they’re bald, they all wear gloves because their fingernails are claws, they all wear pointed shoes because they don’t have any toes, their spit is blue all make this book a delight to read.
I’m also a massive fan of the movie adaptation and looking forward to watching the other movie adaptation that’s just been released this month!
Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson
I received this copy from Netgalley.
London, 1782. This book follows Caroline Corsham as she seeks justice for a murdered woman who she believed was an Italian noblewoman. The Bow Street constables are unethusiastic and unhelpful with the case when they discover that the woman was a prostitute. Caroline decides to take matters into her own hands and solve the crime herself by enlisting the help of a thief-taker, Peregrine Child. Together with Caro and Child, you are taken into the deepest depths of Georgian London.
Initially after reading this book, I gave it 4 stars. Since finishing the last page, I’ve been thinking of nothing else and instantly want to be transported back to London in the 1700s so I decided to up my rating to 5 stars. The book is so well-based in history, the story feels authentic and you feel like you are living alongside these characters; the descriptions of London were so rich, the smells, the poverty, the secret lives… The characters are perfectly fleshed out, making the story seem even more plausible. Oh, and the twist and turns this book has! I was on the edge of my seat constantly thinking “just one more chapter and then I’ll stop. Just one more” to find out “whodunnit”. Even when you find out “whodunnit”, the twists and turns still don’t stop. One of the best historical fiction books I’ve read. This book is released in February 2021 and I urge you all to read it when you can.
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
Arthur Kipps, a solicitor, is sent to the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow the last inhabitant of Eel Marsh House. Whilst at the funeral he glimpses a young woman dressed all in black, her skin wasting away. From first sight, an eerie and spooky atmosphere takes hold of Arthur, growing unease follows him as the locals are reluctant to talk about the mystery surrounding Eel Marsh House… What will he find out?
I think this might be one of the rare occasions where I actually preferred the film to the book. For me, it’s always difficult to convey the same sense of spookiness and tension in the book as in the film/theatre production and, though I did find the book creepy and think that Susan Hill is an expert at creating that eerie feel, the rising tension, the spookiness… I do think the film is better at creating that spine-tingling atmosphere throughout.
I enjoyed the book and it is such a great autumnal/Halloween read. This is the second Susan Hill book that I have read and it did not disappoint.
Prajna by Mira Manek
A beautiful guide to implementing Ayurvedic practices into your everyday life. Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest healing systems, rooted in mind-body-spirit connection and can be so helpful to alleviate the stresses of our everyday, modern lives. This book makes the Indian philosophy applicable to our everyday lives, with simple ways to use the rituals to bring about positive change in our lives, from being at work, commuting, our morning routines, and our before bed routines.
This book is so well researched with recipes, reputable Ayurvedic practioners to visit in the UK, music playlists, podcast and other book recommendations, yoga stretches, and exellent recipes for calming teas. I think everyone could benefit from more mindfulness in their lives; I know I could so I am really hoping to implement some of the things in this book to my daily life. I think the book goes into the perfect amount of detail if, like me, you are new to Ayurveda.
Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble by Paul Cookson
I received this copy from Netgalley.
Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble is a lovely collection of poetry for children, perfect for the time of year when the nights get shorter and the weather gets colder. The poems are fun and quirky and are all of a decent length (there’s no chance of getting bored here!)
I was slightly confused as there were Shakespeare and Tennyson poems in the mix that might be more difficult for children to understand and enjoy. I would love this poetry collection as an adults version featuring spooky, autumnal poems from some of the great classic authors.
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Stories by Robert Louis Stevenson
A collection of short gothic stories from Robert Louis Stevenson. My favourites were Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Markheim and The Body Snatcher.
I feel like most people know the story of Jekyll and Hyde – the young scientist Hyde struggles to understand his soul and the dark side of humanity that is within him, transforming him into a hideous and murderous Mr Hyde.
This is a gothic and horror study of the nature of good and evil and the duality of these existing within all of us and makes for the perfect autumnal/Halloween read.
Skelton’s Guide to Domestic Poisons by David Stafford
I received this copy from Netgalley.
Yorkshireman, Arthur Skelton, is fast becoming one of the most famous barristers in the country due to his success on a high-profile case which thrust him into the limelight. Because of this, his services are in high demand and he decides to defend Mary Dutton, a near impossible case of a wife poisoning her husband after suffering years of abuse. Alongside his assistant, Edgar, Skelton digs deeper and uncovers many secrets along the way.
I loved this historical elements of this book and really enjoyed the setting of urban Birmingham to set the murder. I really loved reading about Skelton and loved that despite his success he still maintained humble and compassionate. Though the book maintained suspense throughout, I was slightly disappointed with the ending and it felt like all the suspense built up to a bit of anti-climax. Despite that, though this book is a murder mystery, the charm and wit of the characters trump the creepiness and unknown of the murder. Definitely a book to read of an evening all cosied up by a fire.
The Five by Hallie Rubenhold
Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane. Five names that you should probably know but whose histories have been overshadowed by their killers’; Jack the Ripper. Since the murders, the media and press have been determined to kid us all that Jack the Ripper only preyed on prostitutes. This is untrue and has hindered the women’s’ true stories in coming out; their lives that were filled with love and family, but also hardship and toil. Hallie Rubenhold unearths these stories and lets us into their lives.
This book was very hard to put down. Not only did the writing transport me to the dingy underworld of Victorian London where homelessness, sin and crime were rife but it also introduced me to a part of history that I thought I knew about when in reality I was totally ignorant. I never knew the names and stories of the five women that Jack the Ripper killed. I had always believed that he killed just prositutes. What Hallie shows us in this book is that “fallen” women (those who were experiencing harsdhip, perhaps they had lost their job, become a widow, lost a child, or fallen down the pathway of alcoholism) were often lumped into the same category as prostitutes and during the Victorian times, there was no true distinction between the two (or at least no distinction that the public, police and press wished to pursue).
I was shocked to learn that, with the exception of one, there was no evidence or proof that the other four ever worked in the sex industry or sold themselves for money at any point during their lives. It has taken us over 100 years to restore these women’s humanity and give them back their stories and that’s exacttly what Hallie does in this book. I would highly recommend.
What did you read this past month?
Thanks for reading!
Love, Zoë xx