Image of the book Happier Thinking Lana Grace Riva

I recently was sent Happier Thinking* to review. In the past I have reviewed self help books such as How to make a decision and The Defining Decade and I do love a good self help book so was looking forward to reading this book. Happier Thinking is a short book (50 pages!) providing techniques and tips to help turn negatives into positives.

Happier Thinking is not a scientific book, and Lana does not claim to be a scientist. The book is written from her experience attending mindfulness classes, therapy and reading. The techniques she shares are techniques Lana has found helped her. The chapters are short and succinct, I like this, as other self help books can get so bogged down in the science you have to read half a chapter before a point is made. The book is handbag sized as well which is handy if you want a pick me up in the middle of the day or when you are out and about.

All the chapters are based on rewiring negative thoughts that may occur from everyday things such as not writing off the day if you have had a terrible time getting to work to acting on what you can change and not worrying about the things you can’t.

The don’t compare compare your life to imagined others really resonated with me. Lana talks about how you could be sitting on a train, looking at someone else and thinking they are having a great life but you don’t know them and this type of thinking is unhelpful. I am incredibly bad at always comparing myself to others to the extent that I make myself miserable, so to read what I do on paper did put it into perspective for me that I need to work to change my thinking regarding this.

The disadvantage of the book is that I found a lot of the examples to be too simplistic that they seemed unrealistic that the average person would stress over them. One example, Lana mentions, in the book is about you could get stressed over discontinued washing detergent. Another being what happens if the wrong food order arrives in a restaurant, therefore you now think the whole evening is ruined. You could argue that those examples are more relatable to everyone but it doesn’t work for me.

Overall the book didn’t tell me anything that I didn’t already know but it is useful as a starter book into self help or as a quick reminder.

*This book was sent for me to review but views, as always, are my own.

Image of the Aaru book

Aaru is a fantasy sci-fi story written by David Meredith and the first book in the Aaru series. The book is about 16 year old Rose who is currently in the final stages of cancer. A Doctor from Elysian Industries comes in and offers Rose the chance for her to live in the afterlife and still be connected to her sister by taking a scan of her brain which she takes. Rose lands in Aaru where she can have whatever she wants and do whatever she wants, she meets new friends and has fun.

Meanwhile, Rose’s sister Koren is devastated but after a representative from Elysian Industries talks to Koren and her family a screen is installed where Koren can speak to Rose at any time. Gradually Rose becomes the spokesperson for Elysian industries and is paraded around at these parties and in the press to prove that Aaru is real. It starts to go wrong when Koren gets an admirer who is hell bent on breaking into Aaru and take her away from her sister…

Aaru is a good book with potential, I did notice a few spelling errors and there were a lot of words I didn’t know (that isn’t a bad thing!) however with the book being aimed at the young adult audience it could disturb the flow. I certainly didn’t think the romance story with Rose added anything to the story and I felt that as Rose is 16 the author really didn’t need to add a sex scene in!

I enjoyed the idea of science and the idea that there is a afterlife which certainly was what interested me in the book in the first place. It certainly wasn’t believable but I love the use of technology especially as the idea of maintaining an active social media presence after you have passed is becoming a reality (something which I wrote about a couple of years ago).  It also shows the disadvantage that the technology has had (one example being with Koren’s and Rose’s father heavily drinking because he cannot cope with the exposure that Koren is receiving). However there were too many characters are in the book and with the too many storylines it just got too much for me to the point that I didn’t read the last thirty pages and it could have finished a lot sooner. I do think I will go back and read the book again and hopefully read the second instalment.

* I was kindly gifted this book, however as always my views are my own.

Image of the book The Night Stalker by Chris Carter

I am not usually the one for crime stories or programmes but at the moment I seem to be loving anything crime related! I have read Chris Carters book’s before (read my review on One by One here) and my partner got given a couple of books for his Birthday – hence I stole them off him!

The Night Stalker is about a criminal who is going around killing women. Not only are women dying but the women’s mouth and vagina have been stitched shut. In another case Whitney Meyers a private investigator is investigating the disappearance of Katia Kudrov, a talented principal violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Hunter’s and Whitney’s paths cross as Hunter thinks Katia could be the killer’s next victim.

I really enjoyed The Night Stalker, particularly the ending because there is such a twist that I really did not see coming at all. In the book Hunter come’s across many suspects that I found it really quite difficult to tell who it was which adds to the whole fun guessing who it is. Chris Carter as well as being a author is also a criminal psychologist and his knowledge helps make the crimes more realistic, you don’t feel as if the crime is unrealistic and this adds to this thriller.

Which Chris Carter book is your favourite?

 

Jo Cox More in Common Book

The latest book I have read is More in Common by Brendon Cox. The book details Jo Cox’s life. Jo Cox was the Batley and Spen MP who was murdered in 2016 by Thomas Mair who shouted Britain First. Thomas was linked to neo-nazi groups.

The chapters alternate from the time leading up to Jo’s death and the aftermath to Jo’s years growing up. You learn very quickly that Jo was very determined, very ambitious however very down to earth. She was a proud Yorkshire woman and loved where she grew up. Cambridge followed and then Jo started her career working as Neil Kinnock’s advisor and then worked at Oxfam and then also worked as an advisor to Sarah Brown, who was spearheading a campaign to prevent deaths in pregnancy and childbirth. It was clear that Jo loved being outdoors and had aimed to climb all of the munros in Scotland with her husband and spending time walking and renovating their cottage and their travels on their canal boat.

Understandably as Cox was an MP this features heavily in the book. It charts the time she decided she wanted to be an MP (before she moved to work in New York) she signed up to a Labour party session for women who were interested in making the jump to being an MP with a friend. When the position of Batley and Spen came up she was originally selected from an all woman shortlist. Jo spent hours knocking on doors and visiting residents and local businesses in the constituency to secure her vote and she won with 43.2%.

Jo criticised the vote against military action in Syria and wrote an open letter along with Neil Coyle about why they regretted nominating Jeremy Corbyn. the national chair of the Labour Women’s Network and a senior adviser to the Freedom Fund, an anti slavery charity. After a member of her consistency wrote to her and told her about how a member of her family died and that although she visited her as often as she could this member really suffered with loneliness. Jo did some digging and found it is a larger issue then she first realised. Jo had started to set up meetings with Age Concern and the Royal Voluntary Service.

Image of the book More in Common by Jo Cox on a feather background

From the book you can see that Jo was very principled and this started out from when she started at Cambridge and she felt out of her depth amongst those that went to private school. She was determined that no one missed out on opportunities due to where they came from.

Balancing motherhood with working was a common theme which I felt was worth mentioning. It is so clear Jo loved her children (the fact that her children were so young when she died really hit home to me) and she would even vote in her cycling gear so she could get home and put her children to bed and really hated the fact that the voting in the House of Commons happens so late.

The book gives a very comprehensive account of Jo’s life and the effect that Jo’s death has had on Brendon and his family. It is a real privilege to understand and have that much access about her life. I really do recommend this book.

Have you read this book? If so what did you think?

Image of the book When Breath becomes Air written by Paul Kalanithi

Where do I start with this beautiful book. When Breath becomes Air is written by Paul Kalanithi who was a recently qualified neurosurgeon  suffering from stage IV metastatic lung cancer. Paul died in March 2015 and he is survived by his wife Lucy and their daughter Elizabeth Arcadia.

This autobiographical book is split into three parts, before and after diagnosis and after he has passed away. Paul talks about his life growing up first in new York but then moving to Arizona and how he developed a love for literature from his mother who gave him very advance books to read at a early age. This love for literature lead him to study literature at Stanford University. Paul had always had an interest in what made life meaningful. Not satisfied in the answers that literature gave him, he wanted to learn from a medical point of view. This lead to a Masters in History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University before he took a place at Yale Medical School.

Throughout Medical School, it was clear that Paul was a high achiever, after Medical School Paul took up residency in neuroscience. Neuroscience is known as been the most demanding physically and mentally, the book details his operations in detail. One particular moment Paul remembers was after an operation he performed he walked out and was eating a cookie cream sandwich and he saw the patient’s relatives being given life changing news. ‘I was making more moral slides than strides’, he noted.

The second part details his his life after the cancer diagnosis. Paul grapples with suddenly becoming the patient. He details one time that a Junior Doctor wouldn’t give him the medication he requested. The Doctor that was looking after him tells him that if he wants to stop thinking like a Doctor and just be a patient he just needs to say. Paul also grapples with whether him and Lucy should have a child. Indeed they do via IVF.

Paul details the missed opportunities, he misses his graduation for completing his residency as he was throwing up very violently. Paul misses out on two very good job offers, one because he cannot bear to move across the country and leave Lucy alone bringing up their daughter and looking after him.

The thread throughout the book is the interest at what makes life meaningful. I feel that Paul does not answer this because the answer is different for everyone.

 

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