August's #HFSSummerReads2018 -- The Red Sparrow


So in true English major fashion, I certainly can never pass up the opportunity to read the book before watching the movie, Jason Matthews' Red Sparrow was no exception. A blockbuster spy film in post soviet war Russia, I had to read it. I mean the book practically jumped off of the shelf into my already overfilled hands and rang itself up at the checkout. I swear. Scouts honour!

Okay, so maybe I have a problem, my not-so-strange addiction one might even say. Hello, my name is Angie and I'm a book-aholic. ***Hello Angie***

Well the burning passion for NEEDING the book in my life soon fizzled. I struggled to get into the book and it was not them, it was me! I love spy movies, adore a classic thriller, but Matthew's writes with such detail and technicality that I struggled to get lost in the world inside the novel. Some moments I was tailing along with Dominika and Neyt, and other moments I was left flipping 3 pages back to see where I made the wrong turn. 

I still would highly recommend the book and for anyone with a penchant for spy novels -- you cannot pass up taking a stab at this fluid and descriptive novel.


The book does feature many recipes as a way to end each chapter -- a very intriguing technique on Matthews side that left me constantly wondering what it all meant! But with that in mind, I think it helps set up a great evening for a book club! I would recommend a cocktail / dinner party with a few of the dishes from the book to serve as a theme. That coupled with some wine is a sure fire way to break any tensions/ice and get people talking! 

For those that would like to add this to your own book club repetoire, I've included a few great (I'm biased clearly) discussion topics to use!** SERIOUS SPOILER ALERT BEGINS HERE!!!**



  1. Like many novels, Matthews is a male attempting to portray narration through the eyes of a female character. Do you think Matthew's accurately captured this POV or was he obviously attempting to write from a female perspective, and failing?
  2. Fun Fact -- Matthews is a retired CIA officer (served for 33 years!). Was his personal experience evident in the telling of the story or did it go unnoticed? If so, does it change your view of the novel knowing this?
  3. The recipes between each chapter were an interesting literary technique. What purpose do you think they served? Did this ground you in the culture more, reminding you of the distinct cultures and their overlap during this historical time of tension?
  4. This book takes place in present day. Do you think Americans and Russians are still actively spying on each other/recruiting/honey trapping? Or did it feel out of date? Did you read the book under the assumption that it was based in the past?
  5. Do you think that you will read the other two books in the Red Sparrow trilogy?

For those that want to get involved in a book club -- follow along with the #HFSSquad as we make our way through a new novel each month! Keep an eye out on instagram @Healthyfittstrong for the latest bookclub hashtag -- spoiler -- next month we'll be using HFSFallReads2018 :) Happy Book Clubbing!


Angie TaylorComment