Books That Raise Awareness

July might be drawing to a close but I still wanted to highlight the importance of this month. July is the anniversary month of the Black Lives Matter movement, it is also Disability Pride month and it’s the month that I almost reached my Goodreads goal, which I see as an absolute win given last year’s performance, but I digress.

Of late I have been seeking out a range of diverse perspectives in fiction and other forms of literature and if the endeavour has shown me anything, it’s that far too much effort is required to unearth these stories. The representation of different minorities, be it black, person-of-colour, disabled, bisexual, asexual and transgender etc is sorely lacking from mainstream publishing.

It is on this basis that I wanted to share something that features the recent books I have enjoyed that give voice to generally underrepresented groups and to express my desire to continue searching for books that marginalised communities can identify with, far beyond the end of this distinguished month.

LATEST BOOK REVIEWS;

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This book, when read with humility is key in understanding the complexities of sexuality and gender identity.Trans Like Me: A Journey For All Of Us by C N Lester

“Simply put, The Hate U Give is crucial, thoughtful and inciting! A book everyone must read and be attentive to.” The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

“Queenie is an essential piece of modern contemporary for our day that combines chick flick witticisms with the seriousness of mental instability and politically tantamount themes.Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

“PET is a deeply thoughtful, uplifting story that bravely imagines a world of unconditional acceptance, whilst also exploring the harm that can result from forgetting the past, however troubled.” PET by Akwaeke Emezi

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The books featured primarily represent the black and transgender communities. I enjoyed each of them for different reasons but they all share a relatable narrative that many readers will be able to empathise with. This is significant because it challenges the messages that can be derived from mainstream fiction as a whole, that of whiteness being the default.

It’s almost the end of July, but it’s not too late to enjoy one of the books highlighted above nor is it too late to support causes in favour of Black Lives Matter and trans and gender identity rights. Please follow the links below to see how you can help.

https://trans–rights.carrd.co/

https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/

#BlackLivesMatter

#AllGendersAreValid

The Secret She Kept by J.S Ellis

The Secret She Kept is a suspenseful, hard-hitting, psychological thriller about the murder of a girl called Lottie, who has a terrible secret hidden away on her laptop. By way of several recordings and other clues, this laptop possibly holds information as to the mystery behind her death. Before she died, she entrusted her laptop to her best friend, Anthony, and it now rests on his shoulders to decipher what his usually sweet and docile friend could possibly be hiding? Who could’ve killed her and why?

Firstly, let me express my sincere thanks and gratitude to the author for sending me her book in exchange for my honest review. The Secret She Kept is due to be released later this month (23rd June) after which it will be available for purchase on Amazon in both the formats Kindle and Paperback.

The Secret She Kept possesses a compelling sense of urgency that from the very beginning kept my focus invested in the story throughout and also added an alluring layer of mystery. The unique way that Ellis tells the story by means of Anthony’s narrative coupled with Lottie’s recordings was very creative and novel in a way that I found enjoyable. Despite how plot-driven the story is, I felt that the characterisation was altogether strong, in the way the characters are described and their individual traits explored. For example, we know that Anthony is a sculptor by trade, seems a bit reclusive but altogether a genuine person who is always willing to help his friends in their time of need.

The plosive hard-hitting sentences does create a sense of urgency and necessity but it also made it seem a bit too skeletal and in need of more fleshing out and more character building. I would have especially loved, and believe there was greater scope for some more still, drawn out moments from Anthony’s narrative throughout. However, judging The Secret She Kept on its enjoyment value alone, I would highly recommend this book as quick and easy-to-read piece of entertainment for all avid thriller readers.

About the author: J.S Ellis is a thriller author. She has a degree in creative writing, English literature, and digital marketing. She lives in Malta with her fiancé and their kitty fur baby Eloise. When she’s not writing or reading, she’s either cooking, eating cheese and chocolate, or listening to good music and enjoying a glass of wine or two.

Website https://joannewritesbooks.com
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/authorJ.SEllis/
Twitter @joannewriter
Instagram @author_j.sellis
Goodreads http://bit.ly/2P8a9xx
BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/j-s-ellis

Thank you for reading and please follow the link for more Book Reviews x.

Book Review: The Art Of Making Memories by Meik Wiking

The Art Of Making Memories was written by Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark who is also known for writing the New York Times best seller, The Little Book Of Hygge.

Wiking’s latest book is all about how we can turn happy moments into lasting memories and in so doing slow down the passage of time. The Art Of Making Memories was published in 2019 by Penguin Books Life.

This book was gifted to me by Penguin Books in exchange for my review, and I would like to thank them sincerely for reaching out to me with this heartening Christmas present.

“In 2018, we conducted a massive global study around happy memories at the Happiness Research Institute: the Happy Memory Study.”

The Art Of Making Memories, pg. 9

Herein we have the stratum for this book. Based on the findings from this experiment, Wiking discusses eight ways you and I can make happier, more lasting memories, and it can be explained simply in the mnemonic; MEMO SNAP!

M eaningful 💍

E motional ❤️️

M ulti-sensory 👃

O utsourcing 📸

S torytelling 📕

N ovel and extraordinary ✈

A ttention ⚠

P eak and struggle ⛰

Among the many positive takeaways I got from this book was the beautiful photography throughout, most of which can be attributed to the author himself. The Art Of Making Memories isn’t just about the content and the dissecting of various statistical analyses, but also the lustrous presentation of the book itself.

The tone of the book is interactive in a way that felt conversationally inclined, made manifest in the many charming quips the author uses and the way he draws upon his own experiences in tandem with inciting the reader to conjure their own.

For example, in the chapter Capture Peaks And Struggles, when Wiking expanded upon the Happy Memory Tip: Consider Taking The Long Route, I was instantly reminded of a winter (an almighty six years ago) when myself and a friend made an impromptu visit to Bergen in Norway and proceeded to frolic about the peak of Mount Fløyen like two protagonists in a Brothers Grimm fairytale.

We made our ascent via the Fløibanen funicular tram service and seemed to mutually agree that the best way to solidify this fantasy experience in our shared memories was to make our descent on foot. The snow that day in December was unrelenting and we were the picture of Himalayan yetis as we battled the elements, but I digress.

The Art Of Making Memories was a heartening read that unlike most other books, not only engages the reader but also impels them to get up and do. It was very hard for me personally to find any issues with this book, other than certain moments where the narrative felt like it was veering off on a tangent, but for the most part, the overall message of the book was altogether cohesive.

The Art Of Making Memories offers an abundance of practical tips and personable writing that was thoroughly enjoyable and thus warrants my recommendation. And of the many things this book has impelled me to get up and do, is to find out more about this “writing retreat” Wiking is planning to organize at some point this year. I must say, I am somewhat intrigued.. (Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Featured:

Book Reviews

Revolution by Russell Brand

LochanReads on Booktube!

The Writer by J.C. Maetis

The Writer is a distinctive take on events that took place during the early twentieth century, before the onset of the Second World War. It particularly focuses on the lives of Jewish people living in Austria, during a time when a sense of growing disdain finally culminates in outright antisemitic hostility.

The two main characters, Mathias Kraemer and Johannes Namal have a close friendship that not only stems from their shared Jewish heritage, but also from their shared profession as writers. When the rise of Nazism infiltrating Austria threatens to harm them and their families, they both decide to become part of an underground identity change network, in the hopes that this will keep them safe from the clutches of the fear-inspiring state police.

The Writer was gifted to me by the author in exchange for my review. This review is not sponsored.

The Writer began extremely well, with tons of promise and potential. It offers a unique insight that is generally lacking from other books of a similar genre. I really enjoyed reading the initial part of this novel and I felt very much invested in the story, the characters and their development. However, The Writer ultimately fails to maintain this strong start until the end.

I unfortunately had a few issues with The Writer. The novel sets itself up as a POV (Point Of View) novel, where each new chapter explores another character’s perspective. However this structure lacks consistency and even more so as the story progresses. At one point during Johannes’ POV section, the story transitions into the events of a character where Johannes is not present, so he would not have been able to narrate these events, thereby causing the narrative to conveniently shift into the omnipresent third-person.

As we get into the final part of the book, the thriller element and accompanying sense of urgency it tries to convey starts to become very rushed. Also I started to become disillusioned with the relentless use of exclamations – The safe was open! The gun wasn’t there! – that became especially prolific towards the end. It felt like the novel was trying to create suspense, but this too fell short for me.

Overall, The Writer was largely enjoyable and has undeniable potential.

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Many thanks and appreciation to the author, J.C. Maetis for his continued patience and for gifting this book to me in exchange for my honest review!

My Top Ten Books Of 2019

I’m back from my blogging hiatus to share with you my Top Ten Books of 2019!

These were my best reads to not only end the year but also to end a decade.. Just let that sink in for a moment. The Noughties generation are now approaching their twenties, Myspace feels like an intangible relic, faded into antiquity and we still don’t have flying cars. (Thanks, Back to the future).

But before we look ahead to new beginnings and the buds of a new chapter in history, let us first look back at my 2019 in books.

Lochanreads on Booktube || Top Ten Books Of 2019

No. 10

The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid A deeply insightful, enticing read. I believe Reid has perfectly captured a wholly engaging style of story-telling.

No. 9

The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart TurtonThe best murder mystery thriller I read in 2019! The premise is striking, novel and full of suspense!

No. 8

The Confessions Of Frannie Langton by Sara CollinsDaring, subversive and irresistibly stark. Frannie’s woeful tale lingers in the mind.

No. 7

Adèle by Leïla SlimaniThe most daring book I read in 2019! Adèle’s story is one of raw depth and surprising insight.

No. 6

The Tattooist Of Auschwitz by Heather MorrisAn uplifting tale of hope and love in the face of extreme adversity. A gripping read I finished in practically one sitting!

No. 5

Lords Of The North by Bernard CornwallCornwall’s Saxon Series abounds in epic greatness, with gritty and emotionless humour.

No. 4

The Bloody Chamber And Other Stories by Angela CarterPerfectly seductive story-telling at its finest. Voluptuous and alluring, Carter’s fairy-tale re-tellings boast a level of excess that borders on Gothicism.

No. 3

Revolution by Russell BrandA well articulated denouncement of a corrupt and outdated political and economic system. Brand presents a refreshingly unique perspective and makes you laugh whilst doing it!

No. 2

Wuthering Heights by Emily BrontëThe intense love affair between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw is the most novel romance I’ve ever read. A timeless and melancholic story of character-driven depth.

꧁ No. 1 ꧂

Gone With The Wind by Margaret MitchellOne of those books every book lover must read! Gone With The Wind is emotionally stirring, timeless and simply unforgettable.

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Have you read any of these books? Let me know your thoughts and if you have any recommendations you would like to share!

🎉 Wishing you all a very Happy New Year! 🎉

To read more amazing reviews, please click here.

Birthday Book Haul!

In October I reached yet another age on the wrong side of twenty, so some lovely friends and colleagues of mine, thoughtfully presented me with a book token as a gift. I have to say, it was a most unexpected gift but I was touched by the sentiment.

And in true lastminute.com fashion, I have only now remembered to make use of it, amassing a total of four new books to add to my ever growing collection. Here’s what I finally decided to buy after spending the best part of Friday afternoon roaming the stacked columns of my local Waterstones;

“As much a story of paradise found as it is of paradise lost…Extraordinary.” – New York Times

Call Me By Your Name was written by André Aciman and published in 2007 by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux. It was later adapted for cinema in 2017, starring among its cast, the Hollywood actor, Armie Hammer, who also narrated the audio book.

This contemporary romance is about “a blossoming romantic relationship between [an intellectually precocious and curious 17-year-old boy named Elio Perlman and a visiting 24-year-old scholar named Oliver] in 1980s Italy. ”

“A gripping read and a haunting story of love, loss and betrayal. Guranteed to move even the hardest heart.” – Independent

The Kite Runner is the highly acclaimed debut novel by American-Afghani author Khaled Hosseini. It was originally published in 2003 by Bloomsbury Publishing. It was number one on the New York Times Best Seller list for more than two years.

This is the story about Amir, “a Sunni Muslim, who struggles to find his place in the world because of the aftereffects and fallout from a series of traumatic childhood events.” – Cliffnotes

“A voice of breathtaking beauty, a masterpiece.” – Observer

The God Of Small Things is the debut novel by Indian author Arundhati Roy. It was orginally published in 1997 by Flamingo books and has won awards including the prestigious Booker Prize.

“It is a story about the childhood experiences of fraternal twins whose lives are destroyed by the “Love Laws” that lay down “who should be loved, and how. And how much.” ” – Wikipedia

A Staggering achievement. Brilliantly enjoyable – Nadine Gordimer

The Satanic Verses is the deeply controversial fourth novel by British-Indian writer, Sir Salman Rushdie. It was originally published in 1988 by Vintage Books and is said to have caused widespread uproar in the Islamic community.

“The complex and multilayered plot focuses on two protagonists, both Indian Muslims living in England. Gibreel Farishta is a successful film actor who has suffered a recent bout of mental illness and who is in love with an English mountain climber, Alleluia Cone.” – Britannica

*Lochanreads on Booktube*

Thanks for reading! Let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of these books and your thoughts on them.

For more bookish articles and to read my Book Reviews, please click here!

Books That Changed My Perspective

Hey Bookworms! In today’s post, I’m going to share with you some books that completely changed my perspective. These books have not only revealed to me my ignorance on certain issues of great societal and political importance, but also perfectly exemplify the fact that reading isn’t just a means of escape but rather a means by which we become enlightened.

1. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini – This book also holds the record for making me cry; a difficult feat to accomplish and indeed one that has never been accomplished since. A Thousand Splendid Suns is the epitome of loss and heart-rending tragedy. It exposes the brutality of a harsh regime that particularly effected the women and young girls of its time, but also carries overtures of something infinitely more hopeful.

The Afghani author, who also wrote the award-winning The Kite Runner, set up his charity, The Khaled Hosseini Foundation in 2008 with the aim of providing humanitarian relief, more economic opportunities for women and healthcare and education for children who need it most. His latest novel, Sea Prayer, published in 2018 by Bloomsbury Publishing is a novel about the fear and uncertainty of being forced to flee one’s country and seek refuge, in light of the Syrian war. Hosseini perfectly uses the medium of writing to raise awareness about the suffering and political tensions affecting mostly Middle Eastern regions and the reading of his novels is sure to change one’s perspective.

2. Wonder Valley by Ivy Pochoda – I had the pleasure of meeting the charming Ivy earlier this year, albeit for a passing moment at a book signing, celebrating the release of her latest novel in the U.K. But it was enough to glean the vivacity of her personality.

Wonder Valley is irresistible in the way it explores the central theme of redemption. It delves into the muti-faceted nature of criminality. This is perfectly personified through the characterisation of Ren, who can’t seem to escape a life of drugs and crime, no matter how much he tries to seek change. Wonder Valley is extremely raw and unfiltered in the way it paints a true depiction of L.A. by commenting on life in Skid Row, which is something that has been expertly airbrushed out of recognizance in most representations of L.A. what I would normally associate with A-list celebrities and pristine neighbourhoods.

Ivy Pochoda is another author who has used the medium of books to raise awareness of the overlooked hardships of people who live in less fortunate neighbourhoods. It also goes into captivating detail about the psychology of sects by means of the desert dwellers of Twentynine Palms and the complex psyche of crime. All these elements perfectly marry to create a story that had a profound effect on me.

3. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell – Interestingly, Gone With The Wind is a classical epic that is said to have been written on the foundations of ‘boredom,’ which I find very intriguing given the monumental scope of this book. Stripped back to its core, this life-changing novel is about the enthralling romance between headstrong Scarlet O’Hara and the snide, coy and cool character that is Rhett Butler. However, Gone With The Wind possesses so much more depth. It comments on the politics of its day, the social norms, it analyses the double-edged sword of slavery and the crippling fear of war.

It symbolises beautifully the romanticism and redundancy of the Old South, with its followers of self-assured arrogance that have been left utterly displaced in the rising of a New South. It develops its main character seamlessly, who grows more ruthless in the face of the many brutal realities that befall her. And it sheds an interesting light on slavery, a perspective where slaves are somehow left feeling bereft and disorientated with their newfound emancipation. In short, Gone With The Wind is a life-changing book that has ultimately become one of my all-time favourites.

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Thank you for reading! I hope I’ve encouraged you to give on of these three books a go and that if you do, you enjoy it as much as I did.

Please also check out some of my latest reviews;

This…novel is about the extremely intense love affair between Mr Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw and the societal forces that tries to divide them
Lords Of The North is a historical epic and complement to a series that I’m excited to continue reading more about.

The Trinity Trials by Dexter Carr, Jr

It’s time for another book review! As always, let me firstly thank the author, profusely for sending me an advanced reader copy in exchange for my review and for suffering with me patiently, during the long awaited interim.

The Trinity Trials: Tower Of Nirvana is the ethereal debut in The Trinity Trials series, written by Dexter Carr, Jr and published in 2016.

This fantasy tale is about the ascension of three archangels who have been destined to become the next Holy Trinity. Demetrius and Mathias discover they have been imbued with divine blessings after a forbidden trip to the Radiant Forest. Together with the mysterious ‘third blessing,’ Eous Lucentes, they have each been fated to assume power, but first, they must overcome the arduous pilgrimage that is the “the Trinity Trials,” where danger and adventure lie in wait to test them.

As a reader partial to the fantasy genre, I was interested in this book’s bold and creative premise. However, I was a bit dubious about the pronounced biblical presence in the story, as it lacked any sense of novelty, with one too many references to the book of Revelations.

Ultimately, The Trinity Trials, was unfortunately, not my cup of tea and I felt that the premise worked better than the actual execution of the story. For example, it was hard for me to identify who this book’s primary target audience is, which on the surface appears to be leaning towards Young Adult readers, but had moments of dialogue that would easily cater to an even younger audience as well.

On a more positive note, I did enjoy the concept of ‘the trials,’ as it gave the story an instrumental sense of adventure. However, I think the story would benefit immensely from a more developed setting. I also would’ve preferred less biblical references, in favour of a bit more originality and edgier writing, that doesn’t try to sound too profound in parts and too playful in others.

Despite my harsh critique, I thought that Trinity was a lot of fun to read. Though the premise offers some potential, it feels like this story is still in its early stages of development and needs the help of an editor to take it to the next level.

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Thank you for reading this review! For more Book Reviews like this, please click here.

And whilst we’re talking about fantasy novels, please be sure to check out my latest review; Baptism Of Fire by Andrzej Sapkowski.

Touch by Angela Cairns

Hey Bookworms!

It’s been a while since I reviewed a book on my blog, however I am back on the reading bandwagon and hope to get on top of my generous pile of reading submissions soon.

Today I’ll be discussing my thought’s on the book Touch by Angela Cairns. I received an advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest opinion and would firstly like to thank the author for sending this book to me, as well as suffering my reading hiatus without scruples.

Touch is a hopeful story about a young woman called Ellie Rose, who’s boyfriend, Brett, tragically died in a plane crash. The untimely loss leaves her feeling both bereaved and at a loss as to how she can move forward in life, since she can see no future for herself, except with him in it.

Her search ends in her setting up her own physiotherapy practice, where she finds solace in helping others and eventually, encountering a lot more than she bargained for, but will she be able to take the plunge?

I loved how this story got me on board right from the outset. I was immediately drawn into the story without feeling like I was reading something pedestrian that I hoped would get better as I continued to plow through.

I think Touch has a lot of potential to be a very successful debut, however, in my opinion it still needs redrafting and the magic “touch” of an editor, who can help iron out the edges, so to speak. At a point during the story, I felt my interest sadly start to wane as I began to notice minor holes within the story. However I believe that Touch has the makings to become not just something that can grip its reader’s attention from the outset, but also maintain that intrigue with its charming romance throughout.

I enjoyed the summer contemporary feel of Touch and the romantic aspect of it, the latter of which did feel organic and not overly clichéd, but which could’ve used a bit more contrast in comparison to other novels of the same genre.

All in all, I definitely think that this novel is one to watch! You heard it here first.

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On that note, I’ve noticed that I’m starting to become a bit of a sucker for a good romance novel. It’s very unlike me considering my pledge to give my partiality to the fantasy genre..I guess I’ve been scarred worse than I originally thought by Cassandra Clare’s finale book to The Dark Artifices series, which I’m yet review on my blog but which I have roasted on my YouTube channel! See below for more..

To read more Book Reviews, please click here

Visit the author’s website at www.angelacairnsauthor.co.uk to learn more!

Like watching unpopular opinion videos? Check out my latest Booktube review below.

Commuting: An Underground World by Stephen Down

🔊Pre-requisite for reading this book: Must be read whilst commuting!

Let me start by extending my warmest regards to the author for sending me a copy of his book in exchange for my review, though I regret that I did not follow the pre-requisites for reading this book. *hides behind a bookshelf*

Commuting: An Underground World was written by Stephen Down and was published in 2019. It is, to use the book’s own words.. “new reading material to provide some light entertainment for your commute to work.”

Commuting hosts a series of mostly comedic anecdotes about the wonders and perils of the London underground. If you’re a frequent commuter like the author, then you’ll probably relate to most of this book, I certainly did, though I don’t commute much these days. The joys of walking..

This book is undeniably funny. It’s packed with quippy humour and sarcastic witticisms and definitely succeeded in getting a few laughs out of me. There were also more serious moments in the book that lingered in my thoughts and made me consider my own complicity in certain situations i.e. the conundrum of giving up one’s seat.

I would definitely recommend Commuting: An Underground World if you’re looking for light entertainment  and a quick read that is deeply relatable and very funny!

⭐️⭐️⭐️

For more book reviews like this, please click here!