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

June Books: Non-fiction must-reads and queer manga

June was nothing short of a tentative month, commencing with an interminable reading slump and culminating in an freak total of 11 books read. Partway through the month, I decided to switch gears and focus on reading books with more black and LGBTQX+ representation, as I realize that this is still a very niche part of fiction and literature that I myself have been neglecting.

We are seeing trends arising within the book community where the focus has shifted to amplifying the voices of underrepresented voices, but I sincerely hope that rather than fade into the inconsequential oblivion that trends normally do, this newfound awareness will continue to be a talking point, ultimately culminating in a greater presence of black, person-of-colour, white-adjacent and queer representation within the mainstream publishing industry.

Shown below are all the books I read in June, which I will also review individually so as to critique them in greater depth. Please check out the Book Reviews page to read more!

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams –

This book can be described a much needed contemporary voice within modern fiction that shows the harmful effects severe anxiety and abandonment issues can have on human relationships. Queenie has recently broken up with her long-time partner, Tom and this sets her down a tragic path of bad decisions fuelled by unresolved childhood trauma. The narrative also has moments of light humour as a means of comic relief. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

PET by Akwaeke Emezi –

Set in a surrealist utopia, Lucille is a place where ‘monsters’ once ruled, wielding all the negative isms of harmful oppression until the ‘angels’ rose up and overthrew them. Years later, a young transgender girl called Jam, who leads a happy life with her kind and accepting parents in a newly transformed Lucille, encounters a strange creature. It has come to her world to hunt and needs Jam’s help to uncover the identity of a monster hiding in plain sight. This book is extremely current and paints a truer picture of society in its representations of gender identity and poly amorous relationships. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie –

We Should All Be Feminists is a short commentary on the political movement, based on a Ted talk of the same name that was delivered by the author. It deftly dispels misguided notions of feminism and by way of practical experiences argues its relevance in many societies where gender based discrimination is still a threat to many. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Trans Like Me: Conversations For All Of Us by C N Lester

This book gives all-encompassing insight into the transgender community, exposing the hostile and structural transphobic sentiment that many suffer, simply for being who they are. It matter-of-factly analyses the existence of trans people throughout human history, highlighting that the existence of other genders outside of the limiting gender binary, do very much exist and are valid. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

For more of what I read in June, including commentary on my manga picks, see the video below!

Lochanreads on Booktube

Featured:

Why I’m No Longer Talking To Black People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

Audio book Reviews

Asian Readathon Month

This month throughout May, I will be participating in Asian Readathon Month which was created by the widely known blogger and book YouTuber, Cindy Pham from @readwithcindy. I love participating in themed reading challenges, albeit with a dominant leaning towards picking up any particular book on any given occasion i.e. mood reading as it is affectionately termed.

As well as using this occasion to re-read some of my favourite contemporary books, I thought it was a brilliant initiative to incite conversations that eliminate stigma unfairly being levelled towards Asians, particularly individuals of Chinese descent, in light of the global spread of coronavirus. But also how those at the very centre of such gross discrimination are themselves espousing the same level of intolerance towards Africans in parts of China.

So in today’s post, I will be sharing with you some of the books I intend to read specifically for Asian Readathon Month. Please also check out the video below where I go into a bit more explanation as to my reading choices and share a superb recommendation that you all ought to read expediently.

My TBR for Asian Readathon Month plus one recommendation

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  1. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Published in 2017 by Penguin Press, this book is about a political clash over the custody of an abandoned Chinese baby that threatens the seamless order of a picture perfect community. Click the picture to read my full review!

2. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Keiko Furukura has been working in the same convenience store for the last 18 years and seems content to continue doing so despite external pressures from friends and family. Little do they realize though, that Keiko’s job is her only means of knowing how to respond to almost any social interaction. Convenience Store Woman was published in 2018 by Portobello Books.

3. The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The Refugees was published in 2017 by Corsair and is a collection of short stories, all relating to the lives of Vietnamese individuals in pursuit of some form of refuge. A beautifully written set of stories. To see the full review, click the photo (pictured left)

4. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Published in 1987 by Kodansha Ltd, Norwegian Wood is the abstract and symbolic story about Toru Watanabe who hears the song, Norwegian Wood aboard a flight and is transported back to his disillusioned past, full of loss and longing.

╰⊱♥⊱╮ღ꧁ ꧂ღ╭⊱♥≺

Are you reading anything in particular for Asian Readathon Month or taking part in any other reading challenge? Please let me know in the comments!

Click here for more Book Reviews!

Books Taught Me Something New – Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman

To quote from my Books That Changed My Perspective post, the book discussed in today’s post “ha[s] not only revealed to me my ignorance on certain issues of great societal and political importance, but also perfectly exemplif[ies] the fact that reading isn’t just a means of escape but rather a means by which we become enlightened.

But rather than go into philosophical depths of the book I’ve chosen to feature, I’m going to focus specifically on the things I learned, in the hope that you will be encouraged to give it a read.

Today’s post was inspired by Hayley @Backpacking Bookworm who is a fellow book blogger and good friend of mine, so please do go and check out her fantastic reviews and also follow her on Bookstagram. Also thank you to Hayley for getting me posting again! I’m not nearly as regular as I should be .. :/

Orange Is The New Black by Piper Kerman (2010)

2013 Netflix adaptation – Series 1 cast

Orange Is The New Black is a memoir all about the real life events that took place in Kerman’s life subsequently culminating in a 15-month prison sentence.

Kerman is a freshly graduated college student with no definitive plans for her future and thus finds herself coaxed into the life of drug trafficking. This attractive life in crime doesn’t last though and soon she gives it up, finds a steady job and lands herself a dream finacee. Until her world is upended when six years later, she is convicted and sentenced to 15 months in a woman’s prison in Danbury, Connecticut.

I largely enjoyed listening to this book and felt absolutely bereft when it ended, as I feel like the book did an excellent job of taking the reader on the narrator’s journey. Though some parts seemed pedestrian and quite banal, in that it was mostly a comprehensive look at daily life, I learnt a great deal from this book.

I felt completely enlightened on life in prison and the book certainly debunked previous misconceptions I may have had. As well as commenting on the harshness of the environment that the prisoners are forced to live in, it also looks at the general feeling of solidarity they all have and the way they assimilate into their new surroundings, the fact that the prisoners often leave prison with a new skill or trade and in some cases, an education.

It discusses the ineffectual training prisoners receive when being prepared to assimilate back into the outside world. During this section in particular, Kerman reminisces about a time when a fellow prisoner asks the trainer leading the class, how one is supposed to get a job upon leaving prison, to which a sub-par response was proffered.

Above all, this book taught me the reason why ex-convicts often re-offend and land themselves back in prison and that was probably the most poignant lesson of all. Kerman speaks of fellow prisoners who have left Danbury, with no family to speak of and a feeling of no future prospects. Such would explain why, in some instances, ex-convicts fall back into a life of crime, beacuse in prison, there is a sense of family, albeit the hell-like setting in which they live. Life on the outside can be just as hellish, with all its stigma, oppression and inequality.

There are several other points of political import I could expand upon, such as the narrator’s realization of her social privilege and her acknowledgement of the social customs and idiosyncrasies of other nationalities and races. Though Orange Is The New Black received quite an average rating on Goodreads and though I would slightly agree with that rating, I would still recommend this book, purely for the level of insight I gleaned whilst reading it.

This novel was later adapted for television by Netflix in 2013 and with a very respectable IMDB rating of 8.1 out of 10 (at the time of this post) and six seasons under its belt, I may feel inclined to watch it!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Featured

Book Reviews

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!

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!

Book Review: The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle was written by Steven Turton and was published in 2018 by Raven Books, a crime-thriller and horror imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing. It was later published in the U.S. as The 7 ½ Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle, but don’t worry, it’s exactly the same award-winning book with the Best First Novel prize in the 2018 Costa Book Awards, under its belt.

Synopsis: When Aiden Bishop wakes up, he has lost all his memories. He no longer remembers his name nor does he have any recollection of what he is pursuing out on the fields of the dilapidated Blackheath estate. He soon learns that he is trapped on this estate until he can solve the mystery behind Evelyn Hardcastle’s death. Everyday he wakes up in the body of a new host, where each new perspective provides more clues, unraveling the many dark secrets hidden behind the walls of Blackheath.

The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle felt like a BBC period drama reminiscent of Groundhog Day and the works of Agatha Christie. Despite the many influences this novel seemed to draw upon, it maintained its own sense of originality. I loved the way the narrative combined elements of thriller and horror. It had a very nail-biting, suspenseful edge, that was arresting.

The book handled the many co-existing storylines, involving the various different hosts, in such a way that the mystery felt like it was gradually coming together instead of relying too much on heavy exposition to fill in the gaps. There were occasions where exposition was artfully used under the guise of buying time, which honestly.. I would’ve preferred less of.

The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle is the award-winning book of the Best First Novel prize in the 2018 Costa Book Awards

As you would expect from a thriller book of this sort, there are many plot twists which I was really entertained by, mostly because I didn’t see them coming, but that’s because I’m not the greatest at solving mysteries and would probably lose in a game of whodunit. So if you’ve read enough murder mysteries novels to call yourself a connoisseur, you may find the plot twists in want of distinction.

Overall, The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle was a deeply entertaining read that constantly kept me guessing. I think this book would make for a fantastic TV adaptation, which I can definitely see myself winding down to with a glass of wine (if I had a TV).

I rate The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle.. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Hey Bookworms!! Thank you so much for reading this review! What was the last murder mystery you read? For more reviews like this, please visit the Book Reviews page.



Booktube Review! VOX by Christina Dalcher

·٠•●♥ Hey Bookworms!♥●•٠·˙

I hope you’re enjoying whatever you’re reading this weekend. Feel free to share also, I could always use more recommendations. 😉

I recently posted my latest Booktube Review on VOX by Christina Dalcher, my current Book Of The Month! See below to view it and also if you’re feeling especially charitable today, then please subscribe to my channel for more booktube reviews.

VOX is the debut novel by novelist and flash fiction writer, Christina Dalcher whose work has appeared in several pretigious magazines, including The Molotov Cocktail. 

Here’s an excerpt from my review;

Needless to say, the representation of men in this novel is one of villainous antagonism. Though I was intrigued by the premise, I found the overall concept of this story to be very anti-male. However, I loved how the plot developed and how events progressed quite quickly, thereby grabbing my attention early on in the story and maintaining momentum until the end…”

Click here to read the full review! 🙂