[REVIEW] Marriage of a Thousand Lies by S.J. Sindu

Marriage of a Thousand Lies is about a woman whose name is Lucky. This book offers a diverse cast of characters – we are introduced to a Sri Lankan family and our main focus is on Lucky and her struggles with being a closeted gay woman. Lucky is in a marriage with Kris who also happens to be gay. They both lead separate love lives outside their marriage which is perfect for them. Lucky is brought back to her old life when her grandmother has an incident – she is set to help out her mother so she goes back to her family home with the intention of taking care of her injured grandmother. You know how in every movie something unexpected happens to a person who comes back home well… Lucky sees her old flame Nisha and soon learns that she is about to get married to a man she doesn’t know or love. Their past brings them back to being more than friends once again and then questions arise: Will they be able to be together despite Nisha’s arranged marriage? Will their relationship succeed? Is Lucky willing to leave her strict life for the sake of love? The answers to all of these questions lie in this book.

There are many strengths in this book the main one being: the great representation of what it’s like to be different in a community that doesn’t accept and judges those who are. The second one is the romance part of the novel: we don’t see a typical male/female white person couple but a more diverse one – and I really appreciate that because I rarely read these kinds of books even though I try to include some of them once in a while. The idea of someone being on the edge between wanting to be with a person they desire but at the same time having to maintain a good relationship with their parents is definitely something that a lot of people (who are lgbtq+) will understand. This is why these kinds of books are necessary in today’s world – they tell people that they are not alone. This book is sad in its way but that doesn’t diminish the value of this book. My main concern was the writing in this novel – I felt like the chapters ended abruptly and it changed quickly from one scene to the other. But this shouldn’t discourage you from reading this book or avoiding it because of my problem with it.

If you’re looking for a diverse read with a great representation then this is the book for you.

I would like to thank Edelweiss and the publisher (Soho Press) for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 

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SJ Sindu was born in Sri Lanka and raised in Massachusetts. Her hybrid fiction and nonfiction chapbook, I Once Met You But You Were Dead, won the 2016 Turnbuckle Chapbook Contest and was published by Split Lip Press. She was a 2013 Lambda Literary Fellow and holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Florida State University. She teaches Creative Writing at Ringling College of Art and Design. Marriage of a Thousand Lies is her first novel.

Find her on: Website, Twitter, Facebook and GoodReads.

[REVIEW] If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

I have to say that as a huge The Secret History fan this book was right up my alley and it will also be to Shakespeare and theatre enthusiasts. It has everything you’d expect: a close-knit group of friends living together plus additional things like: theatre (plus characters speaking to each other ‘in Shakespeare’), Latin, Greek and of course a murder mystery at the center of it.

The premise of the book is what caught my attention because of it being similar to TSH by Donna Tartt. The characters were very interesting and mysterious in their own ways which is a big plus for me. We have seven friends: Oliver. James, Alexander, Richard, Meredith, Wren and Filippa. You might think that with seven characters the author wouldn’t succeed in telling the story the right way but you’re wrong – M.L. Rio does it brilliantly. The mystery part of the book was in my case sort of predictable because of the actions by the characters. The way the author includes Shakespeare in her dialogue doesn’t ruin the storytelling but it enriches it and makes it unique. While writing this review I keep thinking about the ‘Castle’ they lived in, the classes they had where they drank tea, the theatre rehearsals, the feel of closeness but yet secrecy – this proves that the author can make an interesting atmosphere with her words.

Some parts of the book might be predictable but I viewed them differently – I look at the characters, their actions, the relationships between each of them – I view it from a psychological perspective and not as a complete murder mystery (which this book isn’t entirely).

Now onto what bothered me – I have to say that I didn’t like the way the last 100 pages were thought of or for the sake of it the whole premise of homo-erotic context in this book. Trust me , I appreciate when an author writes a good representation but to me what this part of the book offered wasn’t satisfying because it was featured into its whole premise –  to me that made it annoying and it was something that really frustrated me towards the end. Yes, this isn’t the only thing that the book focuses on but it’s something that caught my attention. Feelings aside, this was actually a pretty great debut novel!

This book will definitely be appreciated by everyone who enjoyed The Secret History and it will thrill them in a new and interesting way.

I would like to thank the publisher (Titan Books) for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 

Add ‘If We Were Villains‘ to your TBR: 

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M. L. Rio is an author, but before she was an author she was an actor, and before she was an actor she was just a word nerd whose best friends were books. She holds a master’s degree in Shakespeare Studies from King’s College London and Shakespeare’s Globe. When she’s not reading, writing, or explaining why the Authorship Question is actually just a conspiracy theory, she fills her time with friends and family, wine and whiskey, and music made twenty years before she was born.

Find her on: Website, Facebook, Twitter and GoodReads.

[REVIEW] The Baltimore Boys by Joël Dicker

After a month of being completely cut-off from reading and blogging The Baltimore Boys was the perfect first book to start my summer filled with amazing to-be-read books. I have been reading it for a while but in the last 2 days I have completely devoured every word of it.

As I’ve given the synopsis above I won’t be revealing much about this book.  To people who have read The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair the character of Marcus Goldman will be familiar and in this book we learn more about him and his past with this sequel/prequel to the first book. I will note that this book can be read as a standalone. I have known about Dicker’s first book for a while and do own it but haven’t gotten to it yet. I am curious to know how I’ll perceive The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair now that I’ve read The Baltimore Boys – we’ll find out when I find some time in the future to read it (it’s very very long). I have to say that I loved reading this book so much! I was invested in the story and followed every single one of the happenings – I gasped, I rolled my eyes, I felt sad. There’s no doubt that Dicker is a brilliant young writer whose imagination easily translates into words with such depth. The book deals with two families – The Baltimore Goldmans and The Baltimore Montclairs – (it’s more centered around The Baltimore Goldmans) we experience the youth, adolescence and life of The Baltimore Goldmans through the lens of Marcus Goldman and occasionally we see the narrative change to some key events which are very insightful and keep the reader fully invested in the story.

I have to compliment the way Dicker crafted the characters of Woody and Hillel (as well as other characters) because I loved the way they came into each others lives and it made them more real. The way the author made characters have flaws and their own issues made me want to keep reading even though I found some parts to be a bit dry I still fully appreciated the book. The book alternates between past and 2012 (present) and we see Marcus tell his story as well as dealing with the return of his old flame Alexandra Neville. The idea that people who are very close can still have many issues with each other and not really know each other is something I find interesting to read about and this book was the perfect portrayal of that. I have to add that the last 100 pages were jaw dropping – just as you think that the author will give the reader something satisfying all changes and quickly becomes dust. This proves that the author has skills to write a great plot twist which (after finishing the book) leaves you emotionally empty.

‘Everything begins the way everything ends, and books often begin with the end.’

Overall this was a fantastic book about love, betrayal, closeness, loyalty among two families which will make you want to pick up more of Joel Dicker if you haven’t already read his first book. Seriously, this one needs to be on your shelves!

I would like to thank the publisher (Quercus Books – MacLehose Press) for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 

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Joel Dicker

Joël Dicker is a Swiss novelist, born on June 16th 1985. He is from Geneva, a French-speaking city in western Switzerland. He attended Geneva schools, and the University of Geneva law school. He received his Masters of Law from the University of Geneva in 2010. From an early age, Joël has had a passion for writing. At age ten, Joël founded La Gazette des Animaux (Animals’ Gazette), a magazine about nature that he directed for seven years. Joel DickerAt age 20 he made his first attempts as a fiction writer. His short story, Le Tigre, was honored in 2005 by PIJA (International Prize for Young French-speaking Authors)…more.

Find him on:  Website,  GoodReads,  Twitter,  Instagram and  Facebook.

[REVIEW] Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

into1 into2 into3 into4

myre

Hey everyone! I’m back to reading and reviewing! I wrote this review a few months ago so I thought I’d post it. Hopefully I’ll have a review up by next Wednesday! Looking forward to reading your reviews and blogging!

The novel follows Catherine Bailey who upon meeting Lee Brightman – a handsome, mysterious guy – instantly falls under his spell and starts a relationship with him. But as the relationship progresses Lee turns out to be someone else: his behaviour changes from a loving and caring to a controlling, jealous and twisted personality.

Upon the realisation that Lee isn’t who she thought he was Catherine begins to slowly pull away from him. She confides in her friends who she trusts the most – surely they’ll believe her? Shockingly they don’t believe her because a sweet, charming guy like Lee couldn’t do such a thing. What Lee does to her is cause her pain, trust issues and changes her mindset completely with his behaviour. Four years have passed and Lee is in prison and Catherne has a chance to build a new life for herself, she can forget about Lee. She meets Stuart Richardson a kind clinical psychologist who is set to help her overcome her fears and make it easier for her to trust people. Then on one usual day, the phone rings and she begins to fear for her life once again.

Into the Darkest Corner was an excellent read. The novel is made up of small chapters which switch back and forth from the past to the present. Elizabeth Haynes paints our protagonist really well – she shows to us that she is mentally unstable, fearful and real. I have to say that this subject matter is quite hard for a person to read. I can’t believe that this sort of thing exists in real life – abuse and rape should be stopped and the perpetrator should be punished with more rigorous sentence. I loved the way Haynes showed us Catherine – we got inside her fragile mind and got to re-live her story with her. We got scared for her, we cheered for her.  This was a hard but and an amazing read which deals with real issues in our society.

I would definitely recommend this page-turner to all psychological thriller fans because it won’t disappoint. An engaging novel which makes you think about it long after you’ve finished it.

My rating: ratingstarratingstarratingstarratingstarhalfstar

abtauthor

Elizabeth Haynes grew up in Seaford, East Sussex, and studied English, German and Art History at Leicester University. Her writing is partly inspired by her work as a police intelligence analyst in Kent.

She was encouraged to submit her debut novel Into the Darkest Corner following a creative writing course at West Dean College and it was published by Myriad Editions in February 2011. Elizabeth Haynes won the Amazon UK 2011 Rising Stars award and Into the Darkest Corner was Amazon UK’s Book of the Year for 2011. Following publication by Harper Collins in the USA it became a New York Times bestseller.

Find her on:   Website,  GoodReads, Facebook, Twitter

[TAG] The Rapid Fire Book Tag

Since I’m all out of reviews for this month I decided to do this tag! Thank you so much to Inge (thebelgianreviewer) for tagging me. She’s really awesome and definitely worth following! I just love her and her reviews and think that you will too! GO follow Inge!

Q u e s t i o n s

eBooks or physical books?

Paperback or hardback?

Online or in-store book shopping?

Trilogies or series?

Heroes or villains?

A book you want everyone to read?

Recommend an underrated book

The last book you finished?

Weirdest thing you used as a bookmark?

Used books, yes or no?

Top three favorite genres?

Borrow or buy?

Characters or plot?

Long or short book?

Long or short chapters?

Name the first three books you think of.

Books that make you laugh or cry?

Our world of fictional worlds?

Audiobooks: yes or no?

Do you ever judge a book by its cover?

Book to movie or book to TV adaptation?

A movie or TV adaptation you preferred to the book?

Series or standalone?

 

A n s w e r s:

  1. eBooks or physical books?

Both. I prefer physical books but very often read eBooks.

  1. Paperback or hardback?

I love paperbacks because of their feel and hardbacks for showcasing haha.

  1. Online or in-store book shopping?

Depends on whether I want the book to be in my language or in English. I mostly shop online for books though.

  1. Trilogies or series?

I’ve got no answer for this one because it just depends on the book and if I feel it drags I won’t read it. If that made any sense.

  1. Heroes or villains?

Villains are more fun because of their psyche but both.

  1. A book you want everyone to read?

I will repeat myself a hundred times  – ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara + ‘The Secret History’ by Donna Tartt

  1. Recommend an underrated book

I’ll put the recently read one – Even though it’s foreign and not English/American I feel like it should be read by more people: Nothing Holds Back the Night by Delphine de Vigan

  1. The last book you finished?

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich.

  1. Weirdest thing you used as a bookmark?

Maybe like a phone or a pen but that’s not that weird?

  1. Used books, yes or no?

Yeah, sure! Love them!

  1. Top three favorite genres?

Definitely psychological thriller, mental health and adult fiction.

  1. Borrow or buy?

Buy but when short with money borrow.

  1. Characters or plot?

This is a tricky one because both make the story.. I have to say characters because I love a good character.

  1. Long or short book?

I consider a short book to be 380-400 pages so short books.

  1. Long or short chapters?

Short chapters are easier to read but if the story is good..

  1. Name the first three books you think of.

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan,

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides and

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent.

  1. Books that make you laugh or cry?

Again ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara and so many more…

  1. Our world of fictional worlds?

Being that our world is depressing and I have a pessimistic outlook on it I have to say I’d rather live in a fictional world (but not like a weird dystopian world because I wouldn’t survive haha).

  1. Audiobooks: yes or no?

Sure.

  1. Do you ever judge a book by its cover?

Yes and almost everyone does this. It’s just better if it’s visually appealing.

  1. Book to movie or book to TV adaptation?

Book to movie.

  1. A movie or TV adaptation you preferred to the book?

Nothing comes to mind at the moment.

  1. Series or standalone?

I always prefer standalone books because I hate the waiting or anything being unresolved. I also just generally like standalones.

Thanks so much to Inge for tagging me! I tag:

Anyone who wants to do the tag is welcome to tag themselves!

(BLOG TOUR)[REVIEW+Q&A] The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

While scrolling through Twitter I stumbled upon a picture of a proof copy that had an interesting cover, it had no text but only a photograph of a house which made me very curious and immediately interested in it. I went on GoodReads to read the synopsis and I was SOLD. I sadly wasn’t able to get the proof with the house on the cover but managed to get a digital copy of the book with the amazing US cover. This is a really special memoir which still haunted me even after I finished reading it.

courtesy of panmacmillan

UK proof copy of ‘The Fact of a Body’

You’re out of Law school, you have decided to take on a summer job at a law firm to help defend men accused of murder, you have made this decision with a clear mind but upon reviewing the case video tapes of the man you’re supposed to help defend you freeze and something inside you changes and what comes to your mind now is hate and instantly you want this man to die – this is exactly what happened to the author of this book, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. At that moment she begins questioning everything that happened in her life, focusing on her past and how it has shaped her as a person as well as reviewing the case more and more and trying to find out the reason why this crime happened. That is basically all you need to know before getting into this book.

‘Grief takes root inside people.’

The story alternates from the past and the present as the author tries to paint a character study of Ricky Langley, his childhood, his adolescence and what drove him to commit this heinous crime. We also get the authors story as she revisists her past and focuses on the things that have left an impact on her today life. I have to say that the way Marzano-Lesnevich makes you feel somewhat empathetic towards Ricky, particularly the way his mind works, is very well done because she doesn’t make him a monster but a human being whose mind and emotional stability are fragile (but still twisted). The authors struggles and the trigger that Ricky Langley pulled into her mind which made her question her past were very raw and honest and they made this story even more gripping. A lot of themes are discussed in this story which I feel like I’ll ruin if I reveal them so go get this book and read it. After I finished reading the book I googled Ricky Langley and seeing a video of him describing his crime made me realise that this story is very real and has made an impact on many lives.

‘I have come to believe that every family has its defining action, its defining belief. From childhood, I understood that my parents’ was this: Never look back.’

This is a haunting story which in a way is very personal and that’s what makes it a compelling read and a book which any true crime/mystery/thriller lover should read.

***Warning: This memoir features child abuse and child molestation which may be a heavy/hard read for some readers. 

I would like to thank the US publisher (Flatiron Books), NetGalley and the author (Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich) for allowing me to read an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 

Check out other blog tour posts forThe Fact of a Body‘:

The Belgian Reviewer
Grab This Book
Keeper of Pages
Crime Worm
Liz Loves Books

You can read the first chapter of this book by clicking here.

Add ‘The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir‘ onto your TBR pile:  goodreads-logo-square

*Purchase ‘The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir‘ with free worldwide shipping: the_book_depository-svg

*I am in no way compensated by this site. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich is the author of THE FACT OF A BODY: A Murder and a Memoir, which will be published by Flatiron Books (Macmillan) in May 2017. It is also forthcoming from publishers internationally. A National Endowment for the Arts fellow and Rona Jaffe Award recipient, she has twice been a fellow at both MacDowell and Yaddo. Her essays appear in The New York Times, Oxford American, Iowa Review, and many other publications, and were recognized “notable” in Best American Essays 2013, 2015, and 2016. She earned her JD at Harvard and now teaches at Grub Street and in the graduate public policy program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Find her on: Website, Goodreads and Twitter.

Click the ‘continue reading’ to read the Q&A with Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich plus the newspaper article images as well as other images from the case. Continue reading

[REVIEW] Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

This review cannot begin in any other way than by complimenting the beautiful proof copy that I have received from the publisher. The white background with a goldfish and a little pill is brilliant and I love that it has meaning behind it. The final cover of this book as you’ve seen by now features a banana and it very much stands out. I’m sure that it will attract and intrigue many future readers to check it out. Both cover designs of the book are so amazing and show this book in its best light.

[Front] Proof copy of ‘Goodbye, Vitamin’ (Simon and Schuester UK)

This book is told from the perspective of Ruth who is thirty years old – who works as a sonographer, was left by her fiance and is heart broken – and was asked by her mother to come back home for a year to take care of her father who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. She agrees. From that point on we are introduced to Ruth’s family, friends and her life back home which is told in a very clever and funny way. Her father was a Professor at a college but sadly due to his disease can no longer teach. Howard, the father, is the center of the story – because of the nature of his disease Ruth and her mother read up on ways to promote a healthier lifestyle into their family by eating properly (eating cauliflower, broccoli, taking vitamin d, omega 3 fats and other things) and looking up interesting studies on Alzheimer’s disease (experiments on rats, how eating jellyfish can prevent dementia..).

The story itself is sad – a person in the family has Alzheimer’s,  is slowly losing their memory each day and the whole family has to deal with it and stay sane in the process – but it is told in a way which makes you laugh out loud and feel for the family, Ruth and Howard. I loved how his former students and Ruth showed support and made him teach again the lectures they have already learned before and how one time they had a lecture in Disneyland. There was also this funny exchange between two ‘bros’ which made me laugh out loud!

[Back] Proof copy of ‘Goodbye, Vitamin’ (Simon and Schuester UK)

‘ ‘’Shit,’’ says one bro, coughing. ‘’I think I’m allergic to this giant raisin!’’

‘’That’s not a raisin, Steve,’’ says another bro. ‘’That’s a Medjool date.’’

The structure of the novel might not be for everyone:  it is told from a first person narrative and it has entries [some are long and some short] for each month of the year [which Ruth spends in her family home]. I have personally very much enjoyed the book and have highlighted quite a lot of information about Alzheimer’s disease which were presented to the reader.  I love how we’re left with the question of how we perceive our parents and how they perceive us. How memories should be cherished because one day – they might disappear. When you really think about it the worst thing that can happen to a parent is to slowly forget who they are and to forget the person they loved more than anything in the world. The entries from her father were very sweet and I really enjoyed them  because they were funny and hard at times.

Today, when I told you to behave, you roared angrily: I’M BEING HAVE.’

and

Today you asked me, ‘’What are nerds?’’ And when I said, ‘’They’re people who are smart, and really interested in studying a subject,’’ you said that your mother had told you there were no nerds in your elbow, and that’s why it didn’t hurt when you pinched there. Nerves! I thought, but didn’t correct you.

[Inside pages] Proof copy of ‘Goodbye, Vitamin’ (Simon and Schuester UK)

Overall this is a very lovely depiction of a family dealing with one of the worst illnesses one could have.

I would like to thank the publisher (Simon and Schuester UK) for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 

Add ‘Goodbye, Vitamin’ to your TBR:   goodreads-logo-square

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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Резултат слика за Rachel Khong

Rachel Khong grew up in Southern California, and holds degrees from Yale University and the University of Florida. From 2011 to 2016, she was the managing editor then executive editor of Lucky Peach magazine. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Joyland, American Short Fiction, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Believer, and California Sunday. She lives in San Francisco. Goodbye, Vitamin is her first novel.

Find her on: Website, Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.

[REVIEW] The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

While scrolling through Twitter I stumbled upon a picture of a proof copy that had an interesting cover, it had no text but only a photograph of a house which made me very curious and immediately interested in it. I went on GoodReads to read the synopsis and I was SOLD. I sadly wasn’t able to get the proof with the house on the cover but managed to get a digital copy of the book with the amazing US cover. This is a really special memoir which still haunted me even after I finished reading it.

courtesy of panmacmillan

UK proof copy of ‘The Fact of a Body’

You’re out of Law school, you have decided to take on a summer job at a law firm to help defend men accused of murder, you have made this decision with a clear mind but upon reviewing the case video tapes of the man you’re supposed to help defend you freeze and something inside you changes and what comes to your mind now is hate and instantly you want this man to die – this is exactly what happened to the author of this book, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. At that moment she begins questioning everything that happened in her life, focusing on her past and how it has shaped her as a person as well as reviewing the case more and more and trying to find out the reason why this crime happened. That is basically all you need to know before getting into this book.

‘Grief takes root inside people.’

The story alternates from the past and the present as the author tries to paint a character study of Ricky Langley, his childhood, his adolescence and what drove him to commit this heinous crime. We also get the authors story as she revisists her past and focuses on the things that have left an impact on her today life. I have to say that the way Marzano-Lesnevich makes you feel somewhat empathetic towards Ricky, particularly the way his mind works, is very well done because she doesn’t make him a monster but a human being whose mind and emotional stability are fragile (but still twisted). The authors struggles and the trigger that Ricky Langley pulled into her mind which made her question her past were very raw and honest and they made this story even more gripping. A lot of themes are discussed in this story which I feel like I’ll ruin if I reveal them so go get this book and read it. After I finished reading the book I googled Ricky Langley and seeing a video of him describing his crime made me realise that this story is very real and has made an impact on many lives.

‘I have come to believe that every family has its defining action, its defining belief. From childhood, I understood that my parents’ was this: Never look back.’

This is a haunting story which in a way is very personal and that’s what makes it a compelling read and a book which any true crime/mystery/thriller lover should read.

***Warning: This memoir features child abuse and child molestation which may be a heavy/hard read for some readers. 

I would like to thank the publisher (Flatiron Books), NetGalley and the author (Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich) for allowing me to read an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 

Add ‘The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir‘ to your TBR:  goodreads-logo-square

*Purchase ‘The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir‘ here:  amazoncom-inc-logo

*Purchase ‘The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir‘ with free worldwide shipping: the_book_depository-svg

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich is the author of THE FACT OF A BODY: A Murder and a Memoir, which will be published by Flatiron Books (Macmillan) in May 2017. It is also forthcoming from publishers internationally. A National Endowment for the Arts fellow and Rona Jaffe Award recipient, she has twice been a fellow at both MacDowell and Yaddo. Her essays appear in The New York Times, Oxford American, Iowa Review, and many other publications, and were recognized “notable” in Best American Essays 2013, 2015, and 2016. She earned her JD at Harvard and now teaches at Grub Street and in the graduate public policy program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Find her on: Website, Goodreads and Twitter.

[REVIEW] On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety by Andrea Petersen

As always I’ll start the review by saying how I came upon this book: I was looking for more mental health memoirs/non-fiction to read and stumbled upon this book in the publishers catalogue. The very first thing that attracted me towards this book is the subject matter it deals with: anxiety. The reason why that interested me is because I, myself am an anxious person and have always been one. Anxiety before a test, check, Anxiety whilst going to the supermarket, check, Anxiety while talking to people face to face, check. I still haven’t learned how to control my anxiety and I often avoid social situations but I guess that in time I’ll learn how to better cope with anxiety and anxious thoughts.

The author of this book is a journalist who has been suffering from anxiety disorders since she was a child but has been officially diagnosed in her twenties. We enter the mind of Petersen and experience her life filled with anxiety, panic attacks and more anxiety. This book is half memoir half psychology/science book combined together. It is divided into nine chapters with each one concentrating on different aspects of anxiety which is really fascinating. Example:

  1. THE ANTICIPATION OF PAIN: DEFINING ANXIETY
  2. SCARY CLOWNS AND THE END OF DAYS: ANXIETY IN CHILDHOOD
  3. MY GRANDMOTHER’S MADNESS: THE GENETICS OF ANXIETY
  4. and more..

In On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety the author offers insight into new research, history, effects of anxiety, drugs, treatment as well as her experience with it. While reading this book I’ve learned a lot more about anxiety in general but also the correlation between anxiety, depression and suicide:

Depression is the mental illness most strongly associated with suicidal thoughts, but it doesn’t often lead to suicidal acts. Recent research has found that it is anxiety disorders and other illnesses, like problems with impulse control or addiction, that are more likely to lead to suicide attempts.’

I have also learned the origin of the post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which Jacob Da Costa, an American physician discovered during the Civil War – an American soldier was complaining about ‘lancinating pains in the cardiac region, so tense that he was obliged to throw himself upon the ground’ which were resurfacing every so often. As a result of this he has named the soldiers condition ‘irritable heart syndrome’. Freud has called anxiety disorders ‘The Anxiety-Neurosis’ and he paved the way for better understanding of anxieties and panic attacks (even though his approaches always had a connection with the unconscious and repressed urges).

I very much enjoyed reading about Petersen’s experience with anxiety and panic attacks – we also got insight into her life, family anamnesis with mental illness. The author compares gender roles – focusing on women’s and how having an anxiety disorder and its treatment was handled in the past.

‘The writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman has described her experience with the rest cure in the autobiographical short story The Yellow Wallpaper…

Deprived of distraction and any intellectual life, the heroine [of the short story spends hours staring at the yellow wallpaper in her room, gradually descending into madness

...The rest cure was primarily prescribed to women. When Theodore Roosevelt was diagnosed with neurasthenia, his doctor sent him to a dude ranch in the Dakotas for a spell of riding and hunting.’

There were also harrowing facts that show how more and more people in the US suffer from anxiety disorders and other mental illnesses. Nowadays there are many focus groups, group therapies and other resources that can help prevent and manage many disorders. Petersen describes her experience with therapies such as CBT, ACT and many other but what mainly helped her was yoga with its calming effects on the mind of the one who’s doing it. What stayed with me when I finished this book is that nowadays scientists are trying to find better ways to control/ease anxiety in people and that is done by doing MRI scans on the brain while the brain is exposed to the source of the phobia/anxiety (e.g. arachnophobia: people are shown pictures of spiders, moving spiders are shown in virtual reality..) and they are trying to find ways to make people more comfortable with their phobia/anxiety.

In one particular chapter of the book we learn about medications which are used in order to treat disorders and their origins. Petersen compares drugs and therapy and gives us the ups and downs of both. She also shares her worries about her pregnancy and the fear of her daughter having  an anxiety disorder. A wide range of studies, research, effects of anxiety on the brain and the body are described in this book and getting further into them would make this review an essay.

The final chapter of the book focuses on her present living and coping with anxiety and also at what is causing anxiety in young people today. The main reason for anxiety in young people is academia and academic achievements also the pressure that young people feel over getting good grades and making their parents proud. What we are left with is the knowledge that there are many sources of anxiety but what we should know is that we shouldn’t shy away from asking for help and support in dealing with something that’s causing us anxiety or mental health problems.

Some (not all) research and information may not be new to readers who study/have studied psychology/psychiatry but a person approaching this book without any knowledge will be left with information which will surely widen their knowledge on this subject.

A very well researched book filled with tons of useful information for anyone interested in anxiety disorders and psychology/psychiatry.

Release date: May 16th 2017 by Crown Publishing

I would like to thank the publisher Crown Publishing (Penguin Random House) and NetGalley for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review of the same.

My rating: 

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Andrea Petersen

ANDREA PETERSEN is a contributing writer at the Wall Street Journal, where she reports on psychology, health, and neuroscience. She is the recipient of a Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism and lives in Brooklyn, NY with  her husband and daughter.

Find her on: Author profile (publisher)  and Twitter.

[REVIEW] Small Hours by Jennifer Kitses

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While adding books onto my to-be-read shelf I stumbled upon ‘Small Hours’ by Jennifer Kitses. I was immediately intrigued by it and the theme it deals with – marriage. I find it funny how a nineteen year old me is interested in the theme of marriage but has no plans on getting married himself ever (that might change?) but there is something about these books that make me get excited and want to read them – maybe it’s the mystery of marriage (what secrets can one hold) or how a person can be with another person for so long. There’s so much to explore in the theme of marriage and this book deals with a certain aspect of it.

As the blurb says ‘..a husband and wife try to outrun long-buried secrets, sending their lives spiraling into chaos.’ and if that doesn’t sound interesting and appealing to you then I don’t know what does. This novel follows two spouses – the wife Helen and her husband Tom –  who have two daughters and live in a  town outside of New York. Helen is a graphic designer whose life seems to evolve around her work and her children and Tom is an editor at a science magazine who also has problems of his own – but there is one thing that is eating him alive and causing him problems with sleeping and concentrating on work and his family. Their marriage seems to be a normal hectic one as marriages are – with their children and work keeping them busy –  but what we learn is that there’s much more to it as it always is with any marriage. So that’s about it because I don’t want to spoil the book for you.

The books happenings are told in the span of 24 hours and deal with issues that come up with marriage. I enjoyed this book very much – while it wasn’t a perfect book filled with a lot of happenings it’s a book that slowly reveals the nature of the relationship between the spouses and their intrapersonal relationships. I have to say that people comparing it to ‘Gone Girl’ because of the marriage theme and secrets is frustrating and nowadays everything is compared to ‘Gone Girl’ but nevertheless this is a book which is still interesting. The characters were finely crafted but I found myself more interested in the story of the husband rather than the wife’s which is sort of the point of the book because he’s the one with secrets. What I’ll say is that this book won’t be for everyone because if you’re looking for a rollercoaster ride you’re not getting it (it’s more of a psychological book and definitely not a thriller). The reason why I say this is if you’re not interested in this subject matter you won’t like it. I’ve seen mixed reviews of this one and it just depends on your interests but I’ve enjoyed it and would recommend it. The most action comes at the end of the novel so i wouldn’t call the blurb as accurate because it might mislead the reader and build up different expectations. Just a heads up: you won’t get a satisfying ending if you’re looking for one because it leaves you wanting more.

That said this is a good exploration into the psyches of the spouses and buried secrets resurfacing and finding their way into a marriage.

I would like to thank Edelweiss, the publisher Grand Central Publishing and the author Jennifer Kitses for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: ratingstarratingstarratingstar

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Jennifer Kitses grew up in Philadelphia. She received an MLitt in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and has worked for Bloomberg News, Condé Nast Portfolio, and Columbia Business School. Her writing has appeared in The New York Observer and in Akashic Books’ online series, Mondays Are Murder. She lives with her family in New York.

Small Hours is her first novel.

Find her on:  Website,  Facebook,  Twitter and  Goodreads