(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.

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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: 

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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: 

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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.

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

[REVIEW] A Natural by Ross Raisin

This is one of those books which I find hard to review. I will only share my thoughts about this book and you can read the synopsis of the book above.

The plot of the book is what interested me the most and made me want to read this book – keep in mind I’m not a football fan but an exploration of one’s sexuality in an environment where it’s a definite taboo and not talked about is what sounds very interesting. Onto my thoughts, the books premise was good but I found it to be lacking something.. the first half of the book was rather dry in my opinion and it made me skim but once you get past that point it gets more interesting and makes you want to keep reading it. The characters were fine and I found some to be annoying because there was no need for them to be in this book. It was an okay book considering it was written by a male who has no experience in this subject (except for football). I also think that the author did a good job by bringing this kind of book into the world and giving a voice to other footballers who feel this way.

This may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it was an OK read which anyone interested in reading it should go do it (I’d recommend reading it as an ebook because it’s cheaper).

I would like to thank the publisher (Random House UK, Vintage Publishing) and NetGalley for providing me with a review copy of this book.

My rating: 

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Ross Raisin was born in 1979 in West Yorkshire. His first novel, God’s Own Country, was published in 2008 and was shortlisted for nine literary awards, including the Guardian First Book Award and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. In 2009 Ross Raisin was named the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. In 2013 he was selected as one of Granta’s Best of Young British writers. He lives in London.

 

[REVIEW] The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker #4MK

I came across this book quite accidentally whilst scrolling through NetGalley in search for new books. I was immediately attracted to it because of it’s creepy cover and when I read the description I was like: ‘Yess, this sounds like my thang’. I managed to get a copy of it and boy was this book something!

The ‘Four Monkey Killer’ has been terrorising Chicago for over five years with his upsetting and unusual killings. The book opens with the killer’s body being found and the police soon find out that he was about to send a final message – that there’s one last victim he took before his death. His killings consist of torturing the victim and cutting their ears, eyes and tongue which one by one he sends to the close family of the victim. If this doesn’t sound creepy and interesting.. just wait. The book follows the Detective who has been chasing this killer for quite some time now called Sam Porter and he’s trying to piece out the meaning and the intellect behind Four Monkey Killer’s murders with his goal being to find the last victim. This book has several POVs – Sam Porters, Clairs, the Killers childhood (told through diary entries) and the victims. Are you sold now? I can’t say more because I don’t want to ruin this wild ride for future readers.

This book was so interesting and creepy in such a brilliantly done way. I have to say that the book itself doesn’t have long chapters which made it a fun read and it was also fast-paced with the hearing of different voices from other characters. I loved how Barker created the 4MK because his mind is so twisted and dark that the adding of the diary entries made the reader understand the reason why he is the way he is. A good and healthy upbringing is the most important thing in shaping the future life and personality of any child– the child gets to look up to his/her parents, sees the world the way they see it and learns from them – and this book shows us how this can be a trigger for such devious behaviour at a very young age. I found the diary entries the most interesting even though the events at the end were also great and filled with plot twists. I’m sure that this thriller will be well liked and be on everyone’s shelves when it comes out this summer. Trust me guys, you won’t be disappointed.

Very dark and amazing thriller which should be read by everyone who loves this genre.

I received an egalley of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

You can win a draft copy of this book – enter here.

My rating: 

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J. D. BARKER is the international best-selling author of Forsaken, a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Debut Novel. In addition, he has been asked to coauthor a prequel to Dracula by the Stoker family. Barker splits his time between Englewood, Florida, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Find him on: Website,  Facebook, Twitter and GoodReads

[REVIEW] Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

 

Describing this book is so fun because it’s just so unusual. This is a fiction book but the tricky part is that it features Delphine de Vigan (the author) as a character called by the same name, Delphine de Vigan. All the happenings in the authors life are the same (writing of ‘Nothing Holds Back the Night’ and her life and relationships) but it also features another character named L (pronounced elle=she,her). It’s a mix between reality and fiction which makes it completely unique and again unusual.

When you’re an adult, friendship is built on a kind of recognition, of complicity: a shared territory. But it seems to me that in the other person we look for something that we only possess in a minor, embryonic or frustrated form. So we tend to form links with those who have been able to develop a way of being that we incline towards but have not attained.

Delphine de Vigan has written her latest novel ‘Nothing Holds Back the Night’ and after its huge success she gets stuck writing her next one. The expectation of topping her previously published book is taking its toll on her and making her depressed and unable to approach a computer and even type anything into her Word file. Now questions of her morality come up: Why has she shared such a personal story of her family with the world? Was it all even true? Had she no shame for doing that? While pondering over these questions she meets L. a beautiful and fascinating woman at a book event she attended.  She immediately becomes drawn to her – she’s everything Delphine aspires to be. From this point on their friendship intensifies and they become very good friends – they have dinners, they share their personal stories and their work but something is wrong.. L. is now taking over her life, she starts to dress like her, reply to her emails, she even mimics her mannerisms. What originates from a healthy friendship turns into a toxicicity of great length. Does she really know L.? Was their encounter a coincidence or does L. have hidden motives?

You know, what interests me,’ I went on, ‘is understanding what we’re made of. How we manage to assimilate some events, some memories, which mix with our own saliva, spread through our flesh, while others remain like sharp stones in our shoes. How can we decipher the traces of the child on the skin of the adults we claim to have become? Who can read these invisible tattoos? What language are they written in? Who is capable of understanding the scars we think we’ve learned to hide?

This novel was something strange, something personal and I feel like this was a therapeutic thing for Delphine and she needed to write it.. I feel like she needed to write this so she can let go of her worries but then again this story is fiction and it may not represent her feelings at all. The title ‘Based on a True Story’ is brilliant and the origin of the title takes place in the book and I have to say that this book is very intelligently written. A shoutout to the translator George Miller because I loved the way he made sentences come to life. Having previously read ‘Nothing Holds Back the Night’ I appreciated this book more and I recommend you read that one before this one but it’s not necessary. I just love how she created this story resembling her life and adding fiction to it or did she add fiction to it? The French are making an adaptation of this book ‘D’après une histoire vraie’ with Eva Green as one of the leads but I have to say that making an adaptation of this book isn’t something that I’m all for because I view it as something personal to both the reader and the author.

This is a great novel from Delphine de Vigan and it is definitely worth reading because of its peculiarity and thrillery aspects.

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

My rating: 

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Delphine de Vigan is an award-winning French novelist. She has published several novels for adults. Her breakthrough work was the book No et moi (No and Me) that was awarded the Prix des Libraires (The Booksellers’ Prize) in France in 2008.
In 2011, she published a novel Rien ne s’oppose a la nuit (Nothing holds back the night) that is dealing with a family coping with their mother’s bipolar disorder. In her native France, the novel brought her a set of awards, including the prix du roman Fnac (the prize given by the Fnac bookstores) and the prix Renaudot des lycéens.

[REVIEW] Nothing Holds Back the Night by Delphine de Vigan

I have had this book for more than two years now and I got it for under a dollar/pound/euro – brand new might I add! This was a period in my life where I wanted to get different genres of books to read. I have been reading memoirs and non-fiction (mental health) books for a while now and I cannot believe that I have read this book just now! I have to add that I got an ARC of ‘Based on a True Story’ by the same author and that pushed me to read ‘Nothing Holds Back the Night’ and I am so glad I read it. I just devoured this novel, it was fascinating and haunting and much more.

This is a memoir/non-fiction book about Delphine de Vigan’s mother, Lucile Poirier told from the authors perception of her (with the help of some people who I will mention at the end). The novel is told in three parts: first part is about Lucile’s childhood, the second part is Lucile as an adolescent and the third part is Lucile with her children all grown up and their relationships. You should know that this book begins on a sad note and the sadness weaves its hands through the whole novel. Delphine finds her mother unconscious in her apartment and with this we begin our journey through the life of Lucile and the way her child writes about her. Lucile (one of nine children) was a child model, she was doing photoshoots for ads and was always the pretty one in the family but behind that beauty was an introverted child who loved spending days reading books and watching people from a distance. At a very young age her father Georges noticed that she was different from his other children. As we slowly make progress into this book we learn that her family is cursed with tragedy. At the age of nineteen she had married twenty-one year old Gabriel, one of her fathers work colleagues’ son, and got Delphine – with this she began to drift away from her family –  she was now a woman who had to take care of her daughter. She was a young, beautiful mother who always turned heads and amazed anyone with whom she crossed paths with. I feel while writing this that I’m doing  a poor job describing this book for which I apologise because there’s a lot of happenings in this book. She had another child, Manon who is four years younger than Delphine. Her marriage with Gabriel didn’t work out (as do all rushed marriages) but she still had a few relationships after her split from her husband.  What we find out is that Lucile has a bipolar disorder (manic depression) and how it affects her life and the lives of her children. Her children had to witness her lows and highs at a very young age and in a way had their childhood taken away from them.  It was upsetting reading about how Lucile’s personality changed when she was having her episodes. Delphine de Vigan has written this book with the help of her sister’s recollection of their mother and the brothers and sisters of her mother –  this made the story more complete and raw because it painted a complex study of Lucile’s life and psyche. Saying anything further will just ruin your experience with this book.

I read this book fairly quickly because of the subject matter and because it was something that interested me. Delphine de Vigan also includes her struggles and worries about writing this book into this memoir which I appreciated. I also appreciate her sharing the story of Lucile who was a really interesting person and reading about her made me have a better outlook on life and family relationships. This novel is really powerful and it should be read by everyone.

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Delphine de Vigan is an award-winning French novelist. She has published several novels for adults. Her breakthrough work was the book No et moi (No and Me) that was awarded the Prix des Libraires (The Booksellers’ Prize) in France in 2008.
In 2011, she published a novel Rien ne s’oppose a la nuit (Nothing holds back the night) that is dealing with a family coping with their mother’s bipolar disorder. In her native France, the novel brought her a set of awards, including the prix du roman Fnac (the prize given by the Fnac bookstores) and the prix Renaudot des lycéens.

[REVIEW] Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me by Bill Hayes

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I first stumbled upon this book on GoodReads last month and it intrigued me because I like New York. A few days have passed and I saw one of my GoodReads friend gave it a great rating and a review so I decided to give it a go when it comes out. I have to say that this book was so wonderful and full of wisdom (which you’d expect because it has Oliver Sacks in it – but I have to say that I found Bill to be rather intelligent and as interesting).

After a tragic loss of his partner Bill Hayes, at forty-eight moves to New York in order to escape from grieving thoughts which often occur after a loss of a loved one.  He gets to New York and becomes consoled by  –  it’s beauty, the New Yorkers, kind people with whom he crosses paths with and the capturing of it all with his camera. His friendship with Oliver begins in an inordinary way – by getting a letter in which Oliver said that he was supposed to blurb his book but only got around to it now. From that point on they began talking and going on dinners. Their relationship gets more intimate with time and they get to know one another better while socialising and most of all exchanging words and wisdom. Being a memoir, we see everything from Bill’s perspective – from the unusual encounters he has with strangers, to taking pictures of them, to walking through New York and just observing everything that he comes into contact with. We also experience the great wisdom and loss of a brilliant mind – Oliver Sacks.

This was a really warm and lovely memoir with almost every page shining with great quotes about life and other great things. I like how Oliver saw beauty and analysed things that most people don’t even think to look or think about. As I’ve said at the beginning I think that Bill was also quite intelligent and a good companion for Sacks. The conversations they’ve had were so brilliant and also funny! I like how Bill included photographs with each new chapter of the memoir. I have to say that I was surprised at how extroverted Bill is – approaching strangers, starting up conversations – but most of all I was surprised at how most people were friendly with him and agreed to have their picture taken by him. I also enjoyed Ilana and her ‘eye’ portrait of Bill, she really did capture his presence with just only his eye. There were tons of interesting people we meet through the pages. Bill is a very perceptive person and I really appreciated his stories.

Overall, a really great memoir about brilliance, loss and strange happenings in the city of New York.

My rating: ratingstarratingstarratingstarratingstar

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Bill Hayes is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in nonfiction, Bill Hayes is a frequent contributor to the New York Times and the author of several books.
A photographer as well as a writer, his photos have appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Granta, New York Times, and on CBS Evening News. His portraits of his partner, the late Oliver Sacks, appear in the recent collection of Dr. Sacks’s suite of final essays Gratitude.
Hayes has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome, the recipient of a Leon Levy Foundation grant, and a Resident Writer at Blue Mountain Center. He has also served as a guest lecturer at Stanford, NYU, UCSF, University of Virginia, and the New York Academy of Medicine.

Find him on:  Website,  Twitter