(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

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[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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**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: 

Add ‘On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety‘ to your TBR:  goodreads-logo-square

*Purchase ‘On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety‘ here:  

*Purchase ‘On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety‘ 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.

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.