New Year, new reviews! Though you’ll see this one is another one from the dreaded backlist lol.
Content/Trigger Warning: This book is a nonfiction memoir about one woman’s sexual assault/rape and focuses on her once friendship with her rapist. There are other accounts of sexual assault and rape are also mentioned, this is a very difficult read and I want to put the content warnings before the description of the book in case this book could be harmful to you.
Jeannie Vanasco has had the same nightmare since she was a teenager. She startles awake, saying his name. It is always about him: one of her closest high school friends, a boy named Mark. A boy who raped her.
When her nightmares worsen, Jeannie decides—after fourteen years of silence—to reach out to Mark. He agrees to talk on the record and meet in person. “It’s the least I can do,” he says.
Jeannie details her friendship with Mark before and after the assault, asking the brave and urgent question: Is it possible for a good person to commit a terrible act? Jeannie interviews Mark, exploring how rape has impacted his life as well as her own. She examines the language surrounding sexual assault and pushes against its confines, contributing to and deepening the #MeToo discussion.
Exacting and courageous, Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl is part memoir, part true crime record, and part testament to the strength of female friendships—a recounting and reckoning that will inspire us to ask harder questions and interrogate our biases. Jeannie Vanasco examines and dismantles long-held myths of victimhood, discovering grace and power in this genre-bending investigation into the trauma of sexual violence.
If you’ve read the warnings I put or the GoodReads summary you’ll see that this was a very powerful and heavy read. And yet despite the content, for me, I had a hard time putting it down. Here was a woman’s thoughts about her rapist, someone she knew, because, let’s face it, we’d love to say rapists of women are scary men that follow you home on dark scary nights.
Unfortunately, the truth is even scarier. Rapists are often people we know, people we trusted.
This happens to our author Jeannie Vanasco, when she’s at her most vulnerable, one of her closest friends takes advantage. Fourteen years later and it’s still haunting her, she’s still riddled by what he did because time keeps going but the trauma lingers.
She’s become a writer, a professor, and she has students writing essays about their rapes, and she decides it’s time to share what happened to her but Vanasco wants to go further, she wants to talk to her rapist.
Because he was once her friend, he was once someone she trusted and cared for and though he’s done horrible things, he’s not a boogieman, he’s a man. So Vanasco confronts all her own guilt and fears, all her own anxiety and trauma to talk to him, to get his side of the events.
Her bravery in doing this shows us that nothing he says can justify himself but he’s not the scary man in the dark alley. Which makes it all the more terrifying.
Vanasco’s guilt about being nice to him, about praising him is such a conflicted experience and as a woman, I felt this was so important to read about. We have been taught all our lives to apologize to smooth things over, and even after something so horrible has happened, these teachings stick in our psyche a lot of times.
This was a very powerful read and in a way it can be validating and cathartic if it is a read that you can dive into without self-harm. Thank you to Ducksworth publishing for giving me a copy of this astounding novel in exchange for my honest review. 5/5 Cups from me.
Again, I was so so so honored to have been nominated in the Book Blogger Awards, but a HUGE congrats to the winners and of course the other nominees!
Edinburgh’s [International] Book Festival was great, and I would really like to go to again next year, so fingers crossed!
I’m trying to work out train fare for the Jay Kristoff event in Glasgow next week but if I can’t go, well, I’ll just give my ticket to someone who can!
Still waiting on our house, we may get it before I turn 31, but since that’s in October…I mean, maybe not, maybe by the time I’m 40. *Insert a lot of cursing in various langauges here* But I am still hopeful about moving!
So this month I got to see Holly Black for the first time, along with Joanne Harris and Alexander McCall Smith and saw Samantha Shannon a second time!
Also! I got my first two books from Orbit Books UK and I feel so special!!!!! AND
If you all notice, I really love Canongate Books, they’re one of my favorite publishers and they made me their August Blogger of the month!
A girl from a Yorkshire mining town is barely thirteen when her father kills himself – her brother finds him dying. At sixteen she’s spotted by a rock star and becomes an international Vogue model. Seven years later her brother kills himself in her New York apartment and her mother dies too. With no family left, her life is now one of extreme choices.
Fifty years later, Victoria confronts her past and takes her readers on an unflinching voyage through her experiences as a model and beyond. Speaking frankly about loss, love, friendship and ambition, Head Shot is a book of inspiration and purpose.
Packed with astonishing images by the photographers Victoria worked with, and the defiant fashions she wore throughout her career, it also bears witness to a time of unparalleled cultural energy and invention; it’s a story in which bags and shoes can, and do, sit right next to life and death.
Publication Date: August 8, 2019
Publisher: Unbound PRICE: £16.99 ISBN: 978-1-78352-749-6 FORMAT: Hardback
From the epicentre of Sixties glamour to a double family suicide: how a Vogue model persevered and rebuilt her life in the face of tragedy
If you’re prepared for a book about the glamorous life of modelling, stories of exotic shoots and juicy gossip. Well, aside from a couple of exotic shoots, you’re going to be surprised. Nixon has given us a book that focuses on her actual experiences, and not just as a model and its lifestyle on a photoshoot but what happens afterwards. It’s not all glitz and glamour, it’s making friendships with people you’ll rarely get to see, meeting tons of new people in general, and it’s seeing just how ‘okay’ you are with being alone/just with yourself some days.
I loved how honest and down to earth Victoria Nixon’s style was, she was brave enough to show her own failings in the spotlight and brave enough to share some of her deeper pain, and these things make you connect with her and want to know her story.
Nixon lost her whole family at such a young age, yet she was able to keep moving forward. And, her modelling career is not her whole life, so it was nice to hear about what happened after the photoshoots and let’s just say Nixon is one accomplished human. It’s obvious that no matter what, no matter the time that passes she still misses her family but she doesn’t shy away from that and once again, it really helps you as a reader connect with her on a very personal and emotional level.
Not to mention it’s refreshing hearing of someone so successful making the same mistakes as say myself, choosing the wrong lovers, thinking you can sometimes fix people when that isn’t actually the issue, and sometimes just saying the wrong thing at the wrong time and losing out on an opportunity because of it.
Nixon also isn’t afraid to share her lower points in life, not just in sadness but in her career, even her schooling in London. [Though I daresay Nixon had the last laugh in that case] And the way she talks about her mom is touching, it’s obvious they were close, and that she was close with her brother and father as well.
This isn’t the vapid and materialistic assumption that some are prone to make about models, this is about a real woman who is just telling her story. I loved it.
Thank you to Anne Cater and Unbound for a copy of this book and being part of the tour in exchange for my honest review.
About the Author
Victoria Nixon was eighteen when she was discovered by Helmut Newton, who photographed her for Vogue. This launched her international modelling career, which led to her being named the Daily Mail’s ‘Face of 1968’. After modelling, she went on to become an award-winning advertising copywriter, television producer and magazine editor. In the 1990s she opened the first deli in the UK to ban plastic packaging, and in 2002 her first book, Supermodels’ Beauty Secrets, was published, followed by Supermodels’ Diet Secrets in 2004. She is co- founder and managing director of a company which designs and manufactures humanitarian aid products used worldwide.
Hey guys! It’s Sunday and I’m lazy, so it’s another Charity shop find for me. I was especially excited by the first two books if I’m going to be honest!
I have The Poppy War on Kindle but I do tend to read better when I have a paper or hardback, and I wanted to get The Bone Season as I’m seeing Samantha Shannon again this month and well, I’ve already asked her to sign my Priory haha, and besides, I want to get into this series now. ❤
I purely got this one because I loved the out there cover, I’ve read both of these books and we own them already but I like having ‘fun’ editions. And I’m obviously a little obsessed with books. Like you probably. It’s cool, I’m not judging.
The ‘Historical Whodunits’ just called to me, how could it not? For a mystery thriller like myself, I had to at least give it a try and my husband had been curious about Tom Hanks and his book, so we nabbed that up as well.
This is where I am probably going to lose most of you lol, we went on another nonfiction binge. Sidney Poitier’s movies always have been some of my faves so I grabbed up the memoirs and the book on the left is a Scotland history but it’s focusing on different aspects and isn’t one ‘speciality’ like a lot of history books are, and obviously 1421 is a dope ass history book about China and all its amazingness.
Nelson Mandela was such an intriguing man, and it’s hard not to want to read more on him so I grabbed this and the one on the right is a book about Chairman Mao.
Somme, Somme everywhere. We are huge history buffs as a couple, and so this was a sort of ‘for both of us’ binge.
A little over 10 quid.
Did you score any good book deals? Doesn’t have to be from a charity shop, what about just buying a book you wanted in general?
I know. I have a shopping problem, but after the Friday I had, I needed some retail therapy.
Got these two beauties for .90P each! So for a total of £1.80, I have two books that between them have 8 Agatha Christie novels. This now means I also have some doubles and will have to go through and donate some while putting books away for our impending move.
This is a book that’s actually been on my Amazon wishlist, I got it for £2.00 and it’s pretty much brand new. ❤
These were 2 for .99P so for £1.98 I got all four of these, they’re part of a really neat travellers and explorers series.
This beauty is Moll Flanders, I remember loving the movie and wanting to read the book, it was also part of the 2 for .99P scheme, so I got it with The Journey a book for the spawn, the first in the Guardians of Ga’hoole series.
I’ve been eying this one forever, honestly, ask the hubs, every time we walked into the charity shop this was in, I would immediately go to see if it was there. The reason being that it was a bit more expensive than what I pay in charity shops. In the end, I paid £10.00 for this and put my other 2/3 Sherlock Holmes books in our donation pile. And I’m pretty happy with that decision. ❤
Okay guys, for the grand finale…
We weren’t going to go charity shopping today but the library changed hours so we had a few minutes to kill, and well, when we got to the library we found the score of a lifetime for my husband. There are a couple of books in this pile for me, but they’re mostly for him, he loves his nonfiction and he loves Waterloo and Napoleon.
Want to guess how much this stack was?
I’ll give you a few moments to guess
We added up the price of these new and it’s £120.00 worth of books for £2.00
Well, that’s it for this week’s charity shop haul. We get other things and sometimes I show older finds because I was too lazy to post them before. If the pictures look slightly pretty, those are the ones destined for bookstagram lol
Raised by a lively family of Spanish Jews in tropical and Catholic Panama of the l950s and 1960s, Marlena depends on her many tíos and tías for refuge from the difficulties of life, including the frequent absences of her troubled mother. As a teenager, she pulls away from this centered world—crossing borders—and begins a life in the United States very different from the one she has known.
This lyrical coming-of-age memoir explores the intense and profound relationship between mothers and daughters and highlights the importance of community and the beauty of a large Latin American family. At the Narrow Waist of the Worldexamines the author’s gradual integration into a new culture, even as she understands that her home is still—and always will be—rooted in another place.
Today I’m reviewing a memoir that was a really powerful read for me.
It was written with such fluidity that I forgot that this wasn’t just a beautiful novel of fiction. Marlena takes you straight into the heart of her culture, of Panama, and most importantly, her family. There are some similarities over various Hispanic cultures and so I really connected with Baraf’s story, things were so easy to understand on more than just a reading intake level.
Marlena has provided translations where they fit best and in some cases, as many who speak more than language know, some things just get lost in translation and those phrases are left untouched but easy enough to figure out the gist within the context for those who don’t speak Spanish.
There really is a poetical feel to it and you get lost in the words and pages. Marlena is unabashedly and unashamedly honest about her feelings, her experiences, and the bonds with her family. The family history completely intrigued me and I thought this book was simply beautiful.
It’s not often I have read books that I connect with on a cultural level, though admittedly there are vast differences between my heritage and Marlena’s, there are somethings which connect and overlap between the cultures and having a memoir reflecting that at all was quite important to me. I didn’t know how much it meant to me until I was reading it.
This memoir though isn’t just for those with similar cultural backgrounds, it’s also a great read to understand someone coming to terms with their own memories and family history, nothing world shocking, but instead, so common and relevant that most can connect to her through her familial interactions, especially the bonds between siblings and parents. Also, it takes a look at grief and that it does linger, and Marlena does a great job with writing it with such a lyrical ease.
Thank you to Marlena Maduro Baraf and She Writes Press for a chance to read this in exchange for my honest opinion. And thank you for a chance to interview.
A more in-depth review plus interview will appear on my blog at a later date, and this review will go up on Amazon upon Publication.
A heartfelt and poetical memoir ❤️
You’ll be able to buy this wonderful memoir come August !!
When did you know/decide that you would write a memoir?
It was a surprise to me. I’d taken a first creative writing course late in my life, and from an early assignment I uncovered a memory from my childhood. After that I couldn’t stop. It was not a decision. It happened. I do think writing the memoir originates from a nostalgia for the place of my birth,
I loved how you so clearly captured the heritage and culture of your family, did you have to do much research into any of the family history?
There are several books written about the historic community I come from. I had pretty much read them all, and also several books about the history of Iberian Jews who were expelled from Spain and Portugal during the Spanish Inquisition in the late 1400/1500s. So I had a general sense, but I still had to check my facts, because you can make mistakes when you try summarizing things. I also interviewed elders in the family for some very specific details of more recent times–but still before my time.
After writing this, did your family read it?
This is a perfect question. And I am not sure I can answer it fully yet. My sister and brothers were very supportive when I started writing this. We went through a lot together so I think we are closer than other siblings. Four of the “chapters” were published in literary journals and some in the family read those. One of my children has read parts. The other not. However, I have a huge extended family that lived these stories and knew the same people. I’ve yet to see how they will react. I will be in Panama for a book fair very soon and will find out. My mother’s best friend is still living and I adore her and I don’t want to hurt her. Her feelings are probably that you don’t say certain family things in public. I pray she will understand.
What was your writing process for this and how long did it take you to write it?
I would say writing, rewriting, and editing took about 5 years (and if you’ve read the book you know that I don’t use a lot of words). My process was taking out words that were not essential. Other writers tell me that I lean towards poetry. I wanted the reader to fill in the gaps with her own connections. (This was not a conscious thought.) By the way when I got up in the morning and went directly to the empty page. If I got distracted with a little chore or two, I lost the day. I still struggle with this. The trick is not to look at your phone before you start, if you can possibly do this.
What is your next writing project? Do you have anything planned in particular?
I have this vague notion that I’d like to try fiction to see what I could invent, also to study poetry seriously, and I am definitely continuing with interviews with Hispanics all over this country, something that I started several years ago.
Do you think this helped you to cope with your own memories, was it cathartic for you?
Yes. Halfway through I felt driven to discover who my mother was really and realized she was flawed and also very human and wonderful. As an adult with not the same need for her that I had growing up, I can see her more clearly. Writing the memoir cleared up the old hurts and made me more confident.
Would you change anything about writing this if you could? It was such a personal read, and I really felt so connected to your memories while reading it. I would say it was incredibly brave to write such an honest memoir.
Thank you so much for saying this. I don’t think I would change anything.
I would like to say thank you all for giving me the opportunity to read this.
I am so happy that this resonated deeply with you. I think a reader who is keyed in to the words and images and understands and connects is the greatest gift a writer could receive.
About the Author
Soy panameña y americana. Can you split the two? Born and raised in Panama, I chose to leave my tiny land for Los Estados Unidos de America—a newly minted immigrant. I was in my late teens. In my thirties, I swore allegiance to the country I’d adopted and became an American. I raised a family and worked as book editor at Harper & Row Publishers and McGraw-Hill Book Company after which I studied at Parson’s School of Design and established my own design studio. In the last ten years I’ve dedicated myself to the compelling art and craft of writing. I’m a devoted alumna of the Sarah Lawrence Writing Institute.
Two loving sons have given me two amazing women as daughters-in-law. I am married to a funny, Brooklyn-born man. Life is strong. I endure the Mets. I love orchids and cats.
At the Narrow Waist of the World: a memoir is a mother-daughter story about mental illness and healing. Is mental illness fixed, or does it move in and out of focus? Mine is a story about forgiveness and acceptance. About leaving home and looking back and finding it again.
The information and photo have been taken from Marlena’s website which can be found:
Emerging out of the 1940-1941 London Blitz, the drama of these two short works, a novel and a memoir, comes from the courage and endurance of ordinary people met in the factories, streets and lodging houses of a city under bombardment. Inez Holden’s novella Night Shift follows a largely working-class cast of characters for five night shifts in a factory that produces camera parts for war planes. It Was Different At The Time is Holden’s account of wartime life from April 1938 to August 1941, drawn from her own diary. This was intended to be a joint project written with her friend George Orwell (he was in the end too busy to contribute), and includes disguised appearances of Orwell and other notable literary figures of the period. The experiences recorded in It Was Different At The Time overlap in period and subject with Night Shift, setting up a vibrant dialogue between the two texts.
Inez Holden (1903-1974) was a British writer and literary figure whose social and professional connections embraced most of London’s literary and artistic life. She modelled for Augustus John, worked alongside Evelyn Waugh, and had close relationships with George Orwell, Stevie Smith, H G Wells, Cyril Connolly, and Anthony Powell. The introduction and notes are by Kristin Bluemel, exploring how these short prose texts work as multiple stories: of Inez Holden herself, the history of the Blitz, of middlebrow women’s writing, of Second World War fiction, and of the world of work.
Thank you Handheld Press for sending me a review copy, in exchange I’m providing you all with an honest review.
This book was a nice change of pace to my other recent reads. I’m a huge history buff and I had done a lot of WWI and Russian Revolution reading for my nonfiction so to have a change of pace with WWII was great. Not to mention this is a 2 for 1 really, we get Inez Holden’s novella Night Shift along with her wartime memoir, It Was Different At The Time.
Both had their own slice of history to bring to the table, they are both pieces though that are exploring the sort of people that exist in this time period. This isn’t a look at WWII as an event as much as a time period in someone’s life. Holden has a talent for describing people as an outsider that’s a joy to read and the details she provides are unlike other accounts I’ve read. In her novella, she describes the work week, and this includes the machinery that many of us now forget were used to help so much in the war and that was manned quite a bit by women at that point in time. She also recalls things as ‘mundane’ as the buses, and bicycles people used to get around during air raids, and this goes for her memoirs as well.
Oh to be a fly on the wall for Holden’s life, she knew an amazing group of people and thanks to the introduction by Kristin Bluemel we get to know more of what an amazing woman Inez Holden was herself. This is not for reading to get to a plot or experience a satisfying ending, it’s for just plain enjoyment and observation. I can’t say I recall being on the edge of my seat while reading this but I did thoroughly enjoy it for what it was, the small nuances and bits of information were a true delight. I am happy to say that I look forward to reading more about and by Inez Holden.
I would recommend this to any History Buff especially those interested in WWII.
4/5 Cups of Coffee from this caffeine addict! This book will be launched on May 31st at The Second Shelf Bookshop in London!