END OF THE ROPE: Mountains, Marriage, and Motherhood by Acclaimed Canadian Mountain Climber and Author JAN REDFORD is available now. This memoir will make you laugh out loud, as well as cry your heart out. This is one Canadian book that shouldn’t be missed. 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ END OF THE ROPE is the story of her struggle to make her own way in the mountains and in life; to lead, not follow.

The blue book cover is the Canadian cover. The other cover is the United States book cover.

Title: END OF THE ROPE

Subtitle: MOUNTAINS, MARRIAGE AND MOTHERHOOD

Author:  JAN REDFORD

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, CANADA, CANADIAN NON-FICTION, MOUNTAIN CLIMBING, FAMILY DYSFUNCTION 

Length: 400 PAGES

Publisher: PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE CANADA

Release Date: APRIL 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-345-8231-5

Price: $32.00 CDN (Hardcover)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

In the tradition of Cheryl Strayed’s “WILD“, the gritty, funny, achingly honest story of a young climber’s struggle to become whole by testing herself on mountains and life.

As a young teenager, Jan Redford runs away from a cottage where her father has just put her down for the zillionth time and throws herself against a 100-foot cliff face.  Somewhere in that shaky, outraged kid is a bedrock belief in her right to exist, which carries her to the top. In that brief flash of victory, she sets her sights on becoming a climber.

Falling in love with climbing eventually leads to falling in love with the climbers in her tight-knit western Canadian climbing community. It also means that the people she loves regularly vanish in an instant, caught in an avalanche or by a split second of inattention. It almost crushes Jan when her boyfriend, the gifted climber Dan Guthrie, is killed. Instead of marrying Dan, she marries one of his best friends, a driven climber who was there for her when she was grieving and becomes the father of her two children. Not what either of them planned.

End of the Rope is raw and real. Mountains challenge Jan, marriage almost annihilates her, and motherhood could have been the last straw…but it isn’t.

How she climbs out of the hole she digs for herself is as thrilling and inspiring as any of her climbs–and just as much an act of bravery.

MY REVIEW:

Upon initial perusal of END OF THE ROPE, potential readers may think the same as I originally thought: with a subtitle like Mountains, Marriage, and Motherhood, I expected this to be one of those annoying books about a woman whose life is perfect; one who has it all, and who is now going to “teach” readers how they too can have it all and become the perfect “Super-Mom.” YUCK!!! (Plus, I call Bullshit on those people – I think they are full of crap.)

On the surface, potential readers might think that if END OF THE ROPE  isn’t about being a “Super Mom” then it must be about mountain climbing, and only mountain climbing. Wrong again, this is definitely not the case.

Yes. It does contain quite a few mountain and mountain climbing stories, as well as some of the multitude of accomplishments of the author – female Canadian climber, Jan Redford.

This surprising and engaging memoir is so much more than just a story of mountain climbing, and so much more interesting.

Jan Redford tells the story of her life so far; a life that has been anything but normal, and anything but easy. 

Jan Redford learned to climb after high school, in Wyoming at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). She writes about her time at NOLS at the age of eighteen that: “I felt like I’d been sleepwalking through my life, and climbing propped open my eyes. Made me fully alive.” She knew from then on that Climbing would be a large part of her existence for the rest of her life.

While Jan Redford’s life did revolve for many years around her climbing and the climbing “lifestyle,” Jan is much more than just a climber.

In reality, this is a memoir about growing up in a highly dysfunctional family – one that presented the image of perfection to those around them. That outer, superficial image of the perfect family was a sham. Jan’s father was an alcoholic and her mother, although physically present, was emotionally absent. The entire family lived in an atmosphere which required everyone to ‘walk on eggshells’ lest they pull the pin on the ticking time bomb that was the family patriarch. Who could blame Jan for wanting to run away as far, and as fast as possible?

Climbing was the escape that offered Jan not only a way out, but also a way forward. The West Coast of Canada offers amazingly scenic mountain ranges and a large, insular community of like-minded individuals. It was in this climbing community Jan found her home and her people.

Tales of the antics of her youthful indescretions will have the reader fondly remembering their own youth capers. 

END OF THE ROPE is a story of running away and finding yourself. Falling in lust. Challenging yourself. Finding your soulmate and losing him to the mountains you both lived.

It is a tale of being hurt down to the core of your soul, digging deep and doing what is right for you; no matter what other people think or say.

As it states in the subtitle, this book is about Mountains, Motherhood and Marriage. Each of these three M’s will bring Jan joy and happiness as well as unspeakable pain and sorrow.

END OF THE ROPE is a memoir not to be missed.

Any book that can cause me to laugh out loud, snort in disbelief and/or  exasperation, as well as have me in tears is a book that I will not soon forget. END OF THE ROPE did all of these things to me, and more. Because of this, I would be doing a disservice to potential readers to rate this book as anything lower than 5 OUT OF 5 STARS. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jan Redford may be an awesome mountain climber, but she is an even better writer.

In August 2020, the Paperback version of this book is being released. It can be pre-ordered now at your favorite bookstore.

I would love to hear back from any of you that go on to read END OF THE ROPE. After you finish reading it, come back here to let me know what you thought.

To read an excerpt from this book click HERE.

Thank you to the Publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book.

And be sure to also follow me on Social media where I sometimes offer chances to win books. ** I might just be offering a chance to win books sometime over the next few weeks.** 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photo by Jannicke Kitchen

JAN REDFORD is a graduate of The Writer’s Studio at SFU and holds a master’s in creative writing from UBC.

Her stories, articles, and personal essays have been published in the Globe and Mail, National Post, Mountain Life, Explore, Catapult, LitHub, and anthologies and have won or been shortlisted in several writing contests.

She lives with her family in Squamish, BC, where she mountain bikes, trail runs, climbs, and skis.

Her memoir, End of the Rope: Mountains, Marriage, and Motherhood is her first book.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://www.janredford.com

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

IT’S HERE… TODAY IS THE DAY … A QUICK & EASY GUIDE TO SEX & DISABILITY RELEASES TODAY

Title: A QUICK & EASY GUIDE TO SEX & DISABILITY

Author: A. ANDREWS

Genre: NON-FICTION, GRAPHIC NOVELS AND COMICS, DISABILITIES, SEX, YOUNG ADULT, LGBTQ , QUEER AUTHOR, DISABLED AUTHOR, DIVERSITY, MULTICULTURAL

Length: 72 PAGES

Publisher: ONI PRESS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: MAY 5, 2020

ISBN: 9781620106945

Price: $9.99 USD Paperback

Rating: 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

A quick, easy, and educational comic book guide that will help change the way we talk about sex and sexuality for all bodies.

“This guide can help disabled people (and their partners) on their journey toward self-love, better communication, and confidence.” –– Alice Wong, Founder and Director, Disability Visibility Project

All different kinds of bods want to connect with other bods, but lots of them get left out of the conversation when it comes to

S-E-X.

As explained by disabled cartoonist A. Andrews, this easy-to-read guide covers the basics of disability sexuality, common myths about disabled bodies, communication tips, and practical suggestions for having the best sexual experience possible. Whether you yourself are disabled, you love someone who is, or you just want to know more, consider this your handy starter kit to understanding disability sexuality, and your path to achieving accessible (and fulfilling) sex.

Part of the bestselling and critically acclaimed A Quick & Easy Guide series from Limerence Press, an imprint of Oni Press.

MY REVIEW:

So, why read a book about sex, and specifically disabled sex, by someone who is not an “Expert?”

The answer to that is: To avoid the typically clinical and frustratingly BORING books on this topic written by supposed “experts.” I have read many books and magazine articles written by non-disabled “experts” and those were all so ‘dry’ they even managed to make sex seem boring and much of the information is, at best irrelevant, at worst dangerously flawed. To take the advice of someone who has never had to live with a disability, is unwise in my opinion. Realistically, how could they know anything about it?

As a queer person living with a disability, A. Andrews is much more qualified to discuss issues surrounding sex & disability than any able-bodied ‘expert.’ 

I love that the author acknowledges that many people do not think of disabled people as sexual beings, and that they acknowledge the squeamishness with which some  people react to this topic. It is a ridiculous notion and I am happy that the author confronts it head-on.

According to the author, “All disability presents differently. They are all valid, real, and have unique needs and considerations.”

That said, this book focuses on sex for people with physical disabilities. After all, that is what the author deals with personally, which is why they are qualified to discuss it. It would have been a ridiculously long book if sex for every type of disability were to be discussed.

The emphasis placed on communication is great advice which applies to everyone, disabled or not. Included are some suggestions as to how not to offend a disabled partner. The illustrations depict a person asking or saying something offensive and offers a way to ask/say it in a nonoffensive way. I have never seen such awesome advice so succinctly shown before. I have to say that I am extremely impressed. Kudos to Author/Illustrator A. Andrews for including such valuable advice.

Let’s face it. There are many different types of people and therefore there are many types of sexual partners. This book is designed as a resource for all genders, races, and for any and all sexual persuasions. The illustrations reflect that reality. They depict many different body types, genders, races, as well as different types of physical disabilities.

The illustrations are not sexually explicit, but sex positions are depicted. When positions are shown, there are no views of genetalia. In most illustrations, the people depicted are wearing underwear or are fully clothed. There is a single page containing illustrations of sexual aids, some of which are shaped like male genetalia (but in a tasteful way.)

In my humble opinion, I believe every physically disabled person who is thinking about and/or planning to become (or continue to be) sexually active needs to purchase one or more copies of this graphic novel. It could be casually placed on the coffee table where the potential partner(s) is sure to see it, thus creating the perfect opportunity to begin the dialogue necessary. It would also be an amazing resource to share with anyone who participates in your care. This graphic novel should be available in every local library and every physical rehabilitation center in North America and beyond. In fact, I am planning to speak to my local library as well as at the few physiotherapy clinics near my home.

I rate A QUICK & EASY GUIDE TO SEX & DISABILITY as

5+ Out Of 5 STARS (The highest rating I Can Give.) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A. Andrews is a queer and disabled cartoonist living and working in Minneapolis, Minnesota after a near decade stay in New York City.

They grew up in the Pacific Northwest sketching in hospitals, and are the creator of the Autostraddle webcomic Oh, Hey! It’s Alyssa!

When they’re not drawing their guts out, they are hanging out with their dog, George, and drinking too many coffees.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

.
.
.

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Oni Press is a premier comic book and graphic novel publisher located in Portland, Oregon.

Established in 1997, Oni Press’s curated line includes a variety of award-winning original and licensed comic books and graphic novels, including: Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty™, Nickelodeon’s Invader ZIM, Scott Pilgrim, Queen & Country, Courtney Crumrin, Wasteland, The Sixth Gun, Stumptown, Wet Moon, Letter 44, The Bunker, The Life After, The Coldest City, and Kaijumax.

To learn more about Oni Press, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TUMBLR

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

TWITTER – LIMERENCE PRESS

YOUTUBE

PINTEREST

.

FREE Children’s Book Released Today by Nosy Crow: CORONAVIRUS FOR CHILDREN – Explains the virus in a way kids ages 5-9 can understand

Axel Scheffler has illustrated a digital book for primary school age children, free for anyone to read on screen or print out, about the coronavirus and the measures taken to control it.

Published by Nosy Crow, and written by staff within the company, the book has had expert input: Professor Graham Medley of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine acted as a consultant, and the company also had advice from two head teachers and a child psychologist.

The book answers key questions in simple language appropriate for 5 to 9 year olds:

• What is the coronavirus?
• How do you catch the coronavirus?
• What happens if you catch the coronavirus?
• Why are people worried about catching the coronavirus?
• Is there a cure for the coronavirus?
• Why are some places we normally go to closed?
• What can I do to help?
• What’s going to happen next?

Nosy Crow Press wants to make sure that this book is accessible to every child and family and so the book is offered totally free of charge to anyone who wants to read it.

However, they suggest, at the back of the book, that families might make a donation to help the UK health service if they find the book useful: https://www.nhscharitiestogether.co.uk/

Kate Wilson, Managing Director of Nosy Crow, said:

We were very aware that many parents and carers are struggling to explain the current extraordinary situation to children, many of whom are frightened and confused. We thought that the best thing we could do would be to use our skills to produce a free book to explain and, where possible, reassure children. We asked Axel, whose work is so familiar and so loved, to illustrate it. He was happy to do it, and did it extraordinarily quickly. Meanwhile, having heard Professor Medley interviewed by the BBC, we looked him up and wrote to him, and despite his huge workload, he reviewed the book over a weekend, and we were able to incorporate his suggestions, together with those of two head teachers and a child psychologist, into the final version of the book. We hope it helps answer difficult questions in difficult times.”

Axel Scheffler, illustrator of The Gruffalo, said:

“I asked myself what I could do as an children’s illustrator to inform, as well as entertain, my readers here and abroad. So I was glad when my publisher, Nosy Crow, asked me to illustrate this question-and-answer book about the coronavirus. I think it is extremely important for children and families to have access to good and reliable information in this unprecedented crisis, and I hope that the popularity of the books I’ve done with Julia Donaldson will ensure that this digital book will reach many children who are now slightly older, but might still remember our picture books.”

Professor Graham Medley, Professor of Infectious Disease Modelling at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said:

“This pandemic is changing children’s lives across the globe and will have a lasting impact on us all. Helping children understand what is going on is an important step in helping them cope and making them part of the story – this is something that we are all going through, not something being done to them. This book puts children IN the picture rather just watching it happen, and in a way that makes the scary parts easier to cope with.”

CLICK HERE TO BE TAKEN TO THE POST WITH THE DOWNLOAD LINKS.

All information above obtained from NOSY CROW

I have to say that I am extremely impressed with Nosy Crow Press and the Illustrator firstly for creating this Amazing Book, and secondly for offering it for FREE!!!

BADGES I HAVE EARNED FROM NETGALLEY plus Up-to-date Information about COVID19 in Canada – This is important information and is accurate as of 4pm today!

Members earn this badge based on total number of books reviewed.
Members who are auto-approved by four or more publishers receive this badge.
NetGalley members had a chance to earn the official NetGalley Challenge badge. I am sharing it to show that I am committed to helping books succeed.
Members receive this badge when 3 or more of their reviews have been added to any book’s details page by a publisher. 
This badge acknowledges my contributions to helping books succeed.

I will add more badges as I receive them.

Don’t forget to follow my blog, as well as following my Instagram account where I will be announcing upcoming Giveaways.

MY RESPONSE TO THE COVID19 PANDEMIC:

To all my Amazing Blog Readers, I want to address the current COVID19 PANDEMIC. I am hoping that everyone who reads this is taking the situation very seriously.

Please only leave your homes if it is absolutely necessary. If you do have to go out, make sure you are wearing gloves, and/or use hand sanitizer as often as possible.

We are living through something that will be talked about in the future just as much as The Great Depression and hundreds of thousands of people will die (and many already have.)

Please respect the fact that this virus is killing our seniors and is also deadly to those who have underlying health issues. Please. Please.

STAY SAFE!

STAY HEALTHY!

STAY HOME!

AND READ MORE BOOKS!!!

This is accurate as of 4pm today (April 9, 2020)
(Patricia Treble and Lauren Cattermole)
Information from Maclean’s article

Coronavirus in Canada: how to get tested, what the symptoms are, where to get help

A province-by-province breakdown of advice, requirements and who to call if you think you might have it, along with information on who is most vulnerable

By Patricia Treble

April 9, 2020

A COVID-19 assessment centre in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/CP)

NOTE: This post was originally published on March 12, and is being updated frequently with the most recent information from official federal and provincial sources. Because events are changing quickly, we are drawing not only from government websites but also Twitter feeds, press conferences and other sources. Last update was Thursday, April 9 at 12 p.m.

In addition to all provinces having declared emergencies to deal with the coronavirus, cities are doing the same. On April 1, Toronto declared an emergency, cancelled all non-essential services and upcoming events and closed many facilities. It won’t be the last municipality to do so. In addition to checking this post for the latest federal and provincial guidance. Maclean’s recommends that readers check their own municipal websites for specific local information.


As the coronavirus known as COVID-19 spreads in Canada, the sheer volume of information and misinformation about it can make it difficult to know exactly what is going on, and what to do if you think you or someone near you could have the virus.

So Maclean’s has compiled information about the current situation in Canada, symptoms of COVID-19, who is most vulnerable to the virus, as well as self-isolation and notification details for each province and territory. We combed through the official coronavirus webpages of the federal, provincial and territorial governments, as well as of the World Health Organization (WHO), which published a preliminary report on the outbreak in China. Sources are noted throughout.

As each province and territory has its own health terminology—Telehealth Ontario vs. Health Link 811 in Alberta, for example—much of the wording is taken directly from their sites to avoid confusion.

An important note: this information is frequently revised and updated by authorities. This post, too, is being updated regularly, but we urge readers to click on the links, especially the official sites, for the latest.

Also, wash your hands with soap. Often.

To skip directly to information and instructions for your home province on this post, follow the applicable link below:

British Columbia
Alberta
Saskatchewan
Manitoba
Ontario
Quebec
New Brunswick
Prince Edward Island
Nova Scotia
Newfoundland and Labrador
Northwest Territories
Yukon

Nunavut

Symptoms

Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to the virus while the average is 5-6 days after infection (PHAC and WHO).

According to a World Health Organization report from the end of February on COVID-19 in China, symptoms in confirmed cases included:

  • Fever (88%)
  • Dry cough (68%)
  • Fatigue (38%)
  • Sputum production (33%)
  • Shortness of breath (19%)
  • Muscle or joint pain (15%)
  • Sore throat (14%)
  • Headache (14%)
  • Chills (11%)

April 9, 11 a.m. update: According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, commonly reported symptoms among confirmed cases in Canada include:

cough (77%)

headaches (56%)

and weakness (55%)

The WHO report on COVID-19 in China found that:

  • 80% of patients experienced mild to moderate effects (fever, cough, maybe pneumonia—but not needing supplemental oxygen)
  • 14% suffered severe symptoms (requiring supplemental oxygen, including via a ventilator)
  • 1% were critical (respiratory failure, septic shock and/or organ dysfunction/failure)

Who is most vulnerable?

There is increased risk of more severe outcomes for those:

  • Aged 65 and over
  • With compromised immune systems
  • With underlying medical conditions or chronic diseases including:
  • diabetes
  • cancer
  • heart, renal or chronic lung disease (Ont.)

Those warnings follow the findings of that February WHO report on COVID-19 in China. According to the research team, the age difference among those affected was stark: 21.9 per cent of those over 80 years died, while just 2.4 per cent of all reported cases were children aged 18 and under (only 0.2 percent of those became critically ill).

As well, while 1.4 percent of COVID-19 patients with no other underlying conditions died, those with other conditions experienced much higher death rates:

  • cardiovascular disease (13.2%)
  • diabetes (8.4%)
  • hypertension (8.4%)
  • chronic respiratory disease (8%)
  • cancer (7.6%)

In more severe cases, public health authorities believe infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death (Sask). Yet, unlike the nature of influenza, pregnant women do not appear to be at a higher risk for the severe form of COVID-19, according to the WHO report.

MS-13 The Making of America’s Most Notorious Gang By STEVEN DUDLEY is a fascinating read and was a complete eye-opener to me Check it out here

Information obtained from INSIGHT CRIME

Title: MS-13

Subtitle: The Making of America’s Most Notorious Gang

Author: STEVEN DUDLEY

Genre: NON-FICTION, TRUE CRIME

Length:  352 PAGES

Publisher: HARLEQUIN – Trade Publishing (U.S. & Canada) – HANOVER SQUARE PRESS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: MAY 12, 2020

ISBN: 9781788703147

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

The definitive account of the most notorious street gang in America—the MS-13—as seen through the lives of gang members and their families caught in its malicious web.

The MS-13 was born from war. In the 1980s, El Salvador was enmeshed in a bloody civil conflict. To escape the guerrilla assaults and death squads, many fled to the US and settled in Los Angeles. Among them were Alex and his brother.

There, as a survival instinct, Alex and a small number of Salvadoran immigrants formed a group called the Mara Salvatrucha Stoners, a relatively harmless social network bound by heavy metal music and their Salvadoran identity. But later, as they brushed against established local gangs, the group took on a harder edge, selling drugs, stealing cars and killing rivals who threatened their territories. As authorities cracked down, gang members like Alex were incarcerated and deported. But in the prison system, the group only grew stronger, and in Central America, the gang multiplied, eventually spreading to a half-dozen nations in two continents.

Today, MS-13 is one of the most infamous street gangs on earth, with an estimated ten thousand members operating in dozens of states and linked to thousands of grisly murders each year in the US and abroad. But it is also misunderstood—less a drug cartel and more a hand-to-mouth organization whose criminal economy is based mostly on small-time extortion schemes and petty drug dealing. Journalist and longtime organized crime investigator Steven Dudley brings readers inside the nefarious group to tell a larger story of how a flawed US and Central American policy, and the exploitative and unequal economic systems helped foster the gang and sustain it. Ultimately, MS-13 is the story of the modern immigrant and the perennial battle to escape a vortex of poverty and crime, as well as the repressive, unequal systems that feed these problems.

……

AWARDS SO FAR:

Winner of  the 2019 J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project Award from The Columbia School of Journalism Winners MARA: The Making of the MS13

Judges’ citation: This timely and incisive work, speaking directly to the mission and purpose of the Lukas Work-in-Progress Awards, centers on one immigrant Salvadoran family that represents the complexities of the story of Mara Salvatrucha (MS13), the notorious gang that is the U.S. government’s number one target in its efforts to rid the country of “criminal aliens.”

Without ever minimizing the brutality of this gang, the book dispels many of the myths surrounding its history and power. More important, MARA is the story of flawed U.S. and Central American policies over many years and the exploitative and unequal systems they create.


MY REVIEW:

**************************
TRIGGER WARNING:
This book contains violent scenes, both physical and sexual, and should not be read by individuals who might find themselves triggered by vivid descriptions of violence and murder.


This book is NOT for the Faint of Heart. Please exercise caution when reading and if at any time you feel you need to stop reading, I encourage you to put this book down and walk away.
**************************

MS-13 IS A CRIMINAL GANG. They are well known for their violence and brutality. 

Journalist and author Steven Dudley has spent years reporting on gangs, government and violence in Central America. In writing MS-13: The Making of America’s Most Notorious Gang, he has written a comprehensive account as to how MS-13 was formed and how that gang spread from Central America to the United States.

What this book achieved for me was that it dispelled the notion that MS-13 is a strictly structured unit and that there is one singular person at the top and that all other members were co-ordinated  and part of a whole. This is simply not true. Each clique of MS-13 essentially acts on its own and sometimes cliques will war with other MS-13 cliques.

What does seem true of almost every MS-13 gang member, who spoke to the Author, is that that person grew up surrounded by violence and chaos, and had joined the gang (at least initially) as a way to protect themselves from outside forces.

President Donald Trump seems woefully misinformed about this gang and in fact gives them more credit than they deserve. By labelling MS-13 as Public Enemy Number One, all the President has done is that he has given potential gang recruits an additional reason for joining the gang. Many (even most) of the current MS-13 gang members living in the United States have fled their war-torn homelands to seek a better way of life. The problem is that when they arrive in the States, they realize that their lives are not much better than the lives they had fled.

MS:13 has been added to the list of Most Dangerous Gang Organizations in the United States.

I believe that anyone who wants to work with gang members on finding a new way of life should view this book as required reading. It is impossible to effect change if the history and dynamics of life as part of an MS-13 mara are not understood. 

I rate this book as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

It is a fascinating read, but I also need to warn potential readers that the violence and brutality detailed in this book may be triggering for some people.

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Steven Dudley is the co-director of InSight, a joint initiative of American University and the Fundación Ideas para la Paz in Colombia, South America, aimed at monitoring, analyzing and investigating organized crime in the Americas. Based in Washington D.C., Dudley works with a team of five investigators and various contributors throughout the region to give the public a more complete view of how organized crime works in the Americas, as well as its impact on public policy and communities from the Rio Grande to Patagonia.

Before launching InSight, he worked as the Bureau Chief for The Miami Herald in the Andean Region and wrote a book: Walking Ghosts: Murder and Guerrilla Politics in Colombia (Routledge 2004). Dudley has also reported from Haiti, Brazil, Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela and Miami for National Public Radio, The Washington Post, and the BBC’s The World; and written feature articles for The Washington Post Magazine, The Economist, Columbia Journalism Review, The Progressive, and The Nation. His current projects include a documentary film, which aired on Colombia’s RCN Television in September 2010.

Dudley has a BA in Latin American History from Cornell University and an MA in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. He speaks Spanish and Portuguese fluently. He has taught high school as well as worked in Human Rights.

His range of experience, languages and reporting skills give him the tools to perform in any environment.

Honors and Awards:

Knight Fellowship: Stanford University : In 2007, Dudley was awarded the prestigious Knight Fellowship for professional journalists.

Society of Professional Journalists Sunshine State Award : Dudley was part of a team that won second place for international reporting in 2006 from the Society of Professional Journalists at its Sunshine State Awards for a series on land mines in Latin America.

Overseas Press Club Malcolm Forbes Award for Best Business Reporting from Abroad

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

WILSON CENTER

CONVERSATION.COM

AMERICAN UNIVERSITY

LINKEDIN 

TWITTER

AMAZON  

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

GOOGLE BOOKS

SOME INFORMATION ABOUT MS-13 FROM INSIGHT CRIME:

An MS13 linked gang in El Salvador known as the Black Widows has been convicted of forcing women to marry men and then killing their new husbands as part of a complex life insurance scheme — a case which helps shed light on women in organized crime in Central America. – Photograph and Information Obtained from INSIGHT CRIME.
The Mara Salvatrucha, or MS13, is perhaps the most notorious street gang in the Western Hemisphere. While it has its origins in the poor, refugee-laden neighborhoods of 1980s Los Angeles, the gang’s reach now spans from Central America to Europe.
While they are largely a predatory criminal organization, living mostly from extortion, the gang’s resilience owes to its strong social bonds, which are created and strengthened via acts of violence against mostly their rivals and one another.
Their activities have helped make the Northern Triangle — Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras — the most violent place in the world that is not at war. In October 2012, the US Department of the Treasury labeled the group a “transnational criminal organization,” the first such designation for a US street gang, but their criminal proceeds do not even approach those of their counterparts on that list. Photograph and Information Obtained from INSIGHT CRIME.
Marvin RECINOS/AFP/Getty Images – National Post June 2018
Marvin RECINOS/AFP/Getty Images – National Post June 2018 Toronto man’s boast of being in notorious MS-13 gang leads to deportation order

SAVAGE APPETITES: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession by Author and Journalist Rachel Monroe will enthrall readers!

Title: SAVAGE APPETITES

Subtitle: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession

Author: RACHEL MONROE

Genre: TRUE CRIME, NON-FICTION

Length: 272 PAGES

Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER CANADA – SCRIBNER

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: AUGUST 20, 2019

ISBN: 9781501188909

Price: $11.99 USD

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

A provocative and original investigation of our cultural fascination with crime, linking four archetypes—Detective, Victim, Defender, Killer—to four true stories about women driven by obsession.

In this illuminating exploration of women, violence, and obsession, Rachel Monroe interrogates the appeal of true crime through four narratives of fixation. In the 1940s, a frustrated heiress began creating dollhouse crime scenes depicting murders, suicides, and accidental deaths. Known as the “Mother of Forensic Science,” she revolutionized the field of what was then called legal medicine. In the aftermath of the Manson Family murders, a young woman moved into Sharon Tate’s guesthouse and, over the next two decades, entwined herself with the Tate family. In the mid-nineties, a landscape architect in Brooklyn fell in love with a convicted murderer, the supposed ringleader of the West Memphis Three, through an intense series of letters. After they married, she devoted her life to getting him freed from death row. And in 2015, a teenager deeply involved in the online fandom for the Columbine killers planned a mass shooting of her own.

Each woman, Monroe argues, represents and identifies with a particular archetype that provides an entryway into true crime. Through these four cases, she traces the history of American crime through the growth of forensic science, the evolving role of victims, the Satanic Panic, the rise of online detectives, and the long shadow of the Columbine shooting. In a combination of personal narrative, reportage, and a sociological examination of violence and media in the twentieth and twenty-first century, Savage Appetites scrupulously explores empathy, justice, and the persistent appeal of violence.

MY REVIEW:

Rachel Monroe is a woman after my own heart. As she described her visit to the premiere True Crime Conference called CrimeCon in 2018, I was green with envy. Living outside the city of Toronto, Ontario in Canada, there was just no feasible way for me to attend such an event, especially since it takes place quite a distance from my home.

Rachel Monroe has taken it upon herself to dig into the “why” of the appeal of True Crime to women and to explore the possible reasons.

Any female of my generation (I am 47) who are interested in this subject probably grew up reading Nancy Drew and maybe even The Hardy Boys. Rachel states that: “This detective impulse first burbled up in [her] early, say around age eight.” Reading these words, I wanted to shout out loud, “Me too!”

The book focuses on four very different women, from different times, but, who all had an interest in crime and murder. Their reasons are as varied as possible, yet they are all tied together by the singular theme of True Crime.

I couldn’t believe I had never heard of France’s Glessner Lee. Sure, she was a child of the 1890s, and grew up “… Living in a mansion on Chicago’s ‘Millionaire’s Row.” But still, she was a role model for other women in adulthood and smashed through gender barriers that would have seemed impenetrable to other women of her time. I am impressed and glad that I now know about her. Thank you Rachel Monroe!

The author talks about the Manson murders which have been excessively covered, and yet the way she presents this crime is less about Manson, and more about how the crime changed so many things and so many people.

She speaks about the murder of Taylor Behl in 2005 which happened in her town. Rachel says “Part of what I was looking for, I realized, was overlap, all the ways she and I were similar. There was a troubling pleasure in thinking about how I could have been her, or she could have been me… It felt good, in a bad way, to think about my own proximity to violence. To imagine my life as a near miss.”

Rachel also addresses a phenomenon that has always perplexed me – that of women who “date” and/or marry men serving life sentences in prison. This section is a must read.

I even learned a new word:

HYBRISTOPHOLIA – the attraction to someone who has committed murder.

I never knew there was a word for it, but, in this day and age, I should not have been surprised.

All in all, Author Rachel Monroe has gone deep down many rabbit holes in her research for this book. She extensively studied so many factors that it is amazing she was able to whittle them down into a cohesive and compelling whole.

I rate SAVAGE APPETITES as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐ and because of it’s subject matter, I forsee it becoming a book that is widely read. Perhaps she will have her own following at CrimeCon 2020.
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*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photograph by Emma Rogers

Rachel Monroe is a writer and volunteer firefighter living in Marfa, Texas.

Her work has appeared in The Best American Travel Writing 2018, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, and elsewhere.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

AUDIBLE

FACEBOOK – PUBLISHER

INSTAGRAM – AUTHOR

INSTAGRAM – PUBLISHER

TWITTER – AUTHOR

TWITTER – PUBLISHER

YOUTUBE – PUBLISHER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

WARNINGSPOILERS AHEADSTOP READING THIS POST NOW IF YOU DO NOT WANT ANY EXTRA INFORMATION ABOUT THIS BOOK!!!

SUBJECT # 1 OF SAVAGE APPETITES is FRANCIS GLESSNER LEE.

The following is copied from a 2017 Washington Post article written by Sadie Dingfelder

Frances Glessner Lee trained homicide detectives with her miniature murder scenes. Scroll down to try your hand at one.

At first glance, the grisly dioramas made by Frances Glessner Lee look like the creations of a disturbed child.

A doll hangs from a noose, one shoe dangling off of her
stockinged foot.
Precise down to the smallest detail.

Another doll rests in a bathtub, apparently drowned.

A third lies in bed peacefully … except for her blood-splattered head.

There’s no need to call a psychiatrist, though — Lee created these works in the 1940s and ’50s as training tools for homicide investigators. 19 of the dollhouse-size crime scenes are on display in the Renwick Gallery exhibit “Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death.”

Lee, who died in 1962, called her miniatures “nutshell studies” because the job of homicide investigators, according to a phrase she had picked up from detectives, is to “convict the guilty, clear the innocent and find the truth in a nutshell.”

“She became the first female police captain in the country, and she was regarded as an expert in the field of homicide investigation,” exhibit curator Nora Atkinson says.

When Lee was building her macabre miniatures, she was a wealthy heiress and grandmother in New Hampshire who had spent decades reading medical textbooks and attending autopsies. Police departments brought her in to consult on difficult cases, and she also taught forensic science seminars at Harvard Medical School, Atkinson says. Lee painstakingly constructed the dioramas for her seminars, basing them on real-life cases but altering details to protect the victims’ privacy.

“She was very particular about exactly how dolls ought to appear to express social status and the way [the victims] died,” Atkinson says.

“If a doll has a specific discoloration, it’s scientifically accurate — she’s reproducing the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning and positioning them based on when rigor mortis took effect.”

Tiny details in the scenes matter too. For example, fibers on one doll’s wounds match those on a nearby door frame.

At the Renwick exhibit, visitors will be given magnifying glasses and flashlights to conduct their own homicide investigations, but don’t ask museum staff for help — the scenes are still used in annual training seminars, so their secrets are closely guarded.

TRY TO DEDUCE WHAT HAPPENED IN THE 11 ITEMS POINTED OUT BELOW …

Frances Glessner Lee built the miniature rooms pictured here, which together make up her piece “Three-Room Dwelling,” around 1944-46. This is a puzzling case – – – – A beautiful woman lays shot to death in her bed, her clean-cut, pajama-clad husband lies next to the bed, also fatally shot.
– Their baby was shot as she slept in her crib.
– Blood is spattered everywhere. -All the doors are locked from the inside, meaning the case is likely a double homicide/suicide.
– But something isn’t right. The murder weapon is nowhere near the doll corpses – instead the gun is in another room???

1. Lee used red nail polish to make pools and splatters of blood.

What details can you discover?

2. Lee crocheted this tiny teddy bear herself, so that future investigators might wonder how it landed in the middle of the floor.

3. The pattern on the floor of this room has faded over time, making the spent shotgun shell easier to find.

4. Lee knit this runner and sewed the toy chairs on it in this exact state of disarray.

5. The bedroom window is open. Could it be a sign of forced entry?

6. Lee would paint charms from bracelets to create some prop items. Others she bought from dollhouse manufacturers.

7. The table settings are sewn into place to indicate an orderly, prosperous family.

8. There’s one big clue in clear view in this room

9. Lee sewed the clothes worn by her figurines, selecting fabrics that signified their social status and state of mind. In some cases, she even tailor-made underwear for them.

10. The doll heads and arms were antique German porcelain doll parts that were commercially available. Lee would create the bodies herself, often with lead shot in them.

11. How did blood end up all the way over here?

Renwick Gallery, 1661 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE SOLUTION IS?

Leave your guess in the comments and I will come back and discuss it with you. In your comments post any clues or abnormalities in the scenes that you find.

A FEW MORE PICTURES OF THE “NUTSHELL” MINIATURE CRIME SCENES:

Every element of the dioramas—from the angle of miniscule bullet holes, the placement of latches on widows, the patterns of blood splatters, and the discoloration of painstakingly painted miniature corpses—challenges trainees’ powers of observation and deduction. The Nutshells are so effective that they are still used in training seminars today at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore.

Showcasing the Nutshells at the Renwick allows visitors to appreciate them as works of art and material culture in addition to understanding their importance as forensic tools, and to see Lee’s genius for telling complex stories through the expressive potential of simple materials. While the Nutshells represent composites of real and extremely challenging cases featuring homicides, suicides, and accidental deaths, Lee imagined and designed each setting herself. She was both exacting and highly creative in her pursuit of detail—knitting tiny stocking by hand with straight pins, hand-rolling tiny tobacco-filled cigarettes and burning the ends, writing tiny letters with a single-hair paintbrush, and creating working locks for windows and doors.

The exhibition also highlights the subtly subversive quality of Lee’s work, especially the way her dioramas challenge the association of femininity with domestic bliss and upend the expected uses for miniature making, sewing, an other crafts considered to be “women’s work.” Also evident is her purposeful focus on society’s “invisible victims,” whose cases she championed. Lee was devoted to the search for truth and justice for everyone, and she often featured victims such as women, the poor, and and people living on the fringes of society, whose cases might be overlooked or tainted with prejudice on the part of the investigator. She wanted trainees to recognize and overcome any unconscious biases and to treat each case with rigor, regardless of the victim.

As the Nutshells are still active training tools, the solutions to each remain secret. However, the crime scene “reports” (written by Lee to accompany each case) given to forensic trainees are presented alongside each diorama to encourage visitors to approach the Nutshells the way an investigator would.

Nutshell “Kitchen” Picture # 1
Nutshell “Kitchen” Picture # 2 Even the curtains perfectly match the original crime scene
Nutshell “Kitchen” Picture # 3 The tiny rolling pin, the clock on the window sill and even miniature tea towels hang in this precise representation of the original scene

Dioramas or “Nutshells” as the creator of them referred to them, photographs were obtained from the website of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Want to learn more about Frances Glessner Lee?

Here is a preview of the original documentary

Watch this documentary “OF DOLLS AND MURDER” when you have a spare hour

This documentary was followed by another with newly discovered material called MURDER IN A NUTSHELL

THE MURDER OF TAYLOR BEHL

Taylor Behl was a 17-year-old freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, left her dormitory room Sept. 5, 2005 to give her roommate some privacy with her boyfriend. She took with her a cell phone, some cash, a student ID and her car keys. She was never seen alive again.


To learn more about the murder of Taylor Behl, click HERE.

Photograph Obtained from Taylor Behl’s Memorial Page

THE LAST HIGH by Canadian Bestselling Author and ER Doc DANIEL KALLA is a timely book. Although THE LAST HIGH is fiction, it is based on what is currently happening in Vancouver, BC. His first hand knowledge makes this story come to life and be felt viscerally by the reader.

Title: THE LAST HIGH

Author: DANIEL KALLA

Genre: FICTION, THRILLER, CANADIAN AUTHOR, OPIATE CRISIS, ADDICTION, SOCIAL THEMES

Length: 320 PAGES

Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER CANADA

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: MAY 12, 2020

ISBN: 9781501196980

Price: $22.00 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Dr. Julie Rees, a toxicologist and ER doctor, is stunned when her emergency room is flooded with teenagers from the same party, all on the verge of death. Julie knows the world of opioids inside and out, and she recognizes that there’s nothing typical about these cases. She suspects the teens took—or were given—fentanyl. But why did they succumb so quickly?

Detective Anson Chen is determined to find out. He and Julie race to track down the supplier of the deadly drugs. But the trail of suspects leads everywhere, from unscrupulous street dealers to ruthless gang leaders who hide behind legitimate business fronts and the walls of their mansions.

As Anson and Julie follow clues through the drug underworld, Julie finds herself haunted by memories of her troubled past—and the lover she lost to addiction. When other overdoses fill the ER—and the morgue—Julie realizes that something even more sinister than the ongoing fentanyl crisis is devastating the streets. And the body count is rapidly rising.

A gripping thriller, The Last High explores the perfect storm of greed, addiction, and crime behind the malignant spread of fentanyl, a deadly drug that is killing people faster than any known epidemic.

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MY REVIEW:

Eerily plausible. THE LAST HIGH takes readers inside today’s headlines into the world of both opiod addiction and the current rates of overdose deaths due to drugs being laced with the extremely powerful painkiller, fentanyl.

According to Wikipedia, “The Downtown Eastside is a neighbourhood in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The area, one of the city’s oldest, is the site of a complex set of social issues including high levels of drug use, homelessness, poverty, crime, mental illness, and prostitution.”

The East side of Vancouver, is notorious and holds onto its reputation as the epicenter of hopelessness. This area was not only the hunting ground of prolific serial killer Robert Picton, but is also known for the number of junkies and drug addicts who live there.

Overdoses are not uncommon in East Van, and Author Daniel Kalla works as an Emergency Room doctor, so he sees, and tries to save, many of the unfortunate victims of overdose – mainly due to fentanyl being added to the drugs users usually buy unbeknownst to the buyer.

The terrifying plausibility is what makes this book so very realistic. It is this realism that will grip readers from the very first page.

This book is fast paced and the characters seem so real that is impossible not to get caught up in the story. Readers of this book are in for quite a ride. I found myself wanting to jump into some of the scenes and just shake the people involved.

I have no choice but to rate this book as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

THE LAST HIGH is due to be released on May 12th but is already available for Pre-Order. I am fairly certain that this book will hit the bestseller lists shortly after it’s release. Because of this I highly recommend pre-ordering THE LAST HIGH so that you don’t miss out.



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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photography by Michael Bednar

Born, raised, and still residing in Vancouver, Kalla spends his days (and sometimes nights) working as an ER Physician in an urban teaching hospital.

The idea for his first medical thriller, PANDEMIC, sprang from his clinical experience in facing the SARS crisis of 2003. He has written five science thrillers and or medical mysteries, delving into themes and topics as diverse as superbugs, drug addiction, prions, DNA evidence, pandemics and patient abuse.

Kalla’s last book, THE FAR SIDE OF THE SKY, is a historical novel set in Second World War Shanghai against the dramatic backdrop of converging cultures and ideologies. RISING SUN, FALLING SHADOW continues the story of the Adler family through 1943, the bleakest year in war-torn Shanghai.

His books have been translated into eleven languages, and two have been optioned for feature films.

Daniel received his MD from the University of British Columbia. He is married and the proud father of two girls in a home predominated by the XX chromosome (even his beloved Labrador retriever, Lola, is female.)

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
https://danielkalla.com/

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

YOUTUBE  

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE


Vincent Lam and Daniel Kalla

AND THE WINNER IS…

Thank you to everyone who entered my Giveaway to win an autographed copy of FROM THE ASHES by JESSE THISTLE.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

#1 National Bestseller
Finalist, CBC Canada Reads
Globe and Mail Book of the Year
An Indigo Book of the Year
A CBC Best Canadian Nonfiction Book of the Year

In this extraordinary and inspiring debut memoir, Jesse Thistle, once a high school dropout and now a rising Indigenous scholar, chronicles his life on the streets and how he overcame trauma and addiction to discover the truth about who he is.

If I can just make it to the next minute…then I might have a chance to live; I might have a chance to be something more than just a struggling crackhead.

From the Ashes is a remarkable memoir about hope and resilience, and a revelatory look into the life of a Métis-Cree man who refused to give up.

Abandoned by his parents as a toddler, Jesse Thistle briefly found himself in the foster-care system with his two brothers, cut off from all they had known. Eventually the children landed in the home of their paternal grandparents, whose tough-love attitudes quickly resulted in conflicts. Throughout it all, the ghost of Jesse’s drug-addicted father haunted the halls of the house and the memories of every family member. Struggling with all that had happened, Jesse succumbed to a self-destructive cycle of drug and alcohol addiction and petty crime, spending more than a decade on and off the streets, often homeless. Finally, he realized he would die unless he turned his life around.

In this heartwarming and heart-wrenching memoir, Jesse Thistle writes honestly and fearlessly about his painful past, the abuse he endured, and how he uncovered the truth about his parents. Through sheer perseverance and education—and newfound love—he found his way back into the circle of his Indigenous culture and family.

An eloquent exploration of the impact of prejudice and racism, From the Ashes is, in the end, about how love and support can help us find happiness despite the odds.

The Winner is…

KAY BURKE

I have emailed the winner. Again, thank you to everyone who entered.

Keep watching my blog for more Giveaways coming soon.

Author Jesse Thistle
Photography by Lucie Thistle

BITCHMEDIA Has Released Their List of 17 Memoirs Feminists Should Read in 2020

BOOKS,CULTURE,BITCH READS and MEMOIRS

BitchReads: 17 Memoirs Feminists Should Read in 2020

Article by Evette Dionne

Published on January 3, 2020

The Dragons, the Giant, the Women by Wayétu Moore, left, All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson and Fairest by Meredith Talusan
(Photo credit: Graywolf Press, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and Viking)

I love a good memoir. Though the ever-expanding genre has been criticized over the decades by people who view them as egotistical and insular, memoirs can be transformative.

Tapping into a person’s unique experience and seeing the world through their eyes for a few hundred pages can expand our individual worldview, help us better understand our own experiences with broader issues—including grief—and introduce us to powerful voices who articulate and excavate their lives in ways that so few of us can.

Among the many memoirs slated for release in 2020, these 17 represent the very best of the genre.

Want more seasonal reads? Make sure to sign up for our email list and we’ll send you a new BitchReads list, every quarter, in partnership with Powell’s Books!

In the Land of Men

By: Adrienne Miller{ Ecco }RELEASED: FEB. 11, 2020 $28.99 PreOrder It Now

If you love fascinating memoirs about women navigating male-dominated industries, then Adrienne Miller’s book should already be in your cart. Miller began her career in media as an editorial assistant at GQ magazine in the 1990s before becoming the first woman to serve as Esquire’s literary editor. Given that media is still an industry run by men—many of them white, many of them powerful, and way too many of them drunk on their own power—Miller’s 30 years’ worth of reflections show, alas, just how much hasn’t changed for women finding their footing in an industry that allows only a few of us to break through.

Strung Out: One Last Hit and Other Lies That Nearly Killed Me By: Erin Khar{ Park Row Books }

RELEASED: FEB. 25, 2020 $27.99 PreOrder It Now

Stephanie Land, author of the bestselling 2019 memoir Maid, says that Strung Out “will change how we look at the opioid crisis and how the media talks about it.” I agree.

Often, media stigmatizes the very people it aims to cover because there’s still so much we don’t understand about the development and impact of addiction. Erin Khar’s gift of a memoir examines her 15-year journey as a heroin user—and, perhaps more important, what brought her to drugs. Addiction stories are often linear (got hooked, hit bottom, got clean), but Khar instead offers a humanizing portrait not just of her own experience but of an issue that impacts more than two million people in the United States.

Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir By: Rebecca Solnit

{Penguin Random House }RELEASED: MARCH 10, 2019 $26.00 Buy It Now

Prolific essayist Rebecca Solnit has long written about pop culture, politics, and mansplaining by weaving together her personal experience with a broader analysis, but it seems that Recollections of My Nonexistence is her first full-on memoir. Solnit brings readers to 1980s San Francisco for a comprehensive look at how she found her voice and her feminism amid discovering punk rock, witnessing rampant gender-based violence, and negotiating a culture of disbelief about everything from street harassment to rape. Recollections of My Nonexistence is also a memoir about writing, which is a gift from a writer as talented and transformative as Solnit. What shaped her perspective? How did she find the confidence to write with such stark honesty? These questions and more are answered.

Rust Belt Femme By: Raechel Anne Jolie

{Belt Publishing }RELEASED: MARCH 10, 2020 $26.00 Buy It Now

Raechel Anne Jolie (who has contributed to Bitch) grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, in the 1990s, finding herself amid an alternative subculture of “race cars, Budweiser drinking men covered in car grease, and the women who loved them.” After her father is killed by a drunk driver, Jolie and her mother struggled to stay afloat: facing eviction, going days with electricity and water, and hurting each other to escape the pain of financial uncertainty. Rust Belt Femme follows Jolie as she leaves the neighborhood she called home for Cleveland Heights where a subculture with a lot of personality welcomes her, helping to define who she is and where she’s headed next.

Assume Nothing: A Memoir of Intimate Violence

By: Tanya Selvaratnam {Henry Holt and Co. }RELEASED: APRIL 7, 2020 $27.99 Buy It Now

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 20 people per minute in the United States are physically abused by their romantic partner, which breaks down to more than 10 million people suffering abuse in the course of a single year. It never becomes easier to read about intimate-partner violence, but it’s always necessary. Tanya Selvaratnam’s heart-wrenching memoir explores her volatile relationship with former New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, which included controlling behavior, death threats, and violent sex that she felt powerless to stop given that her partner was the state’s top-ranking law officer. 

Assume Nothing isn’t an easy read, but it’s an important window on how power insulates even the worst among us.

FROM OUR SPONSORS

Diary of a Drag Queen By: Crystal Rasmussen with Tom Rasmussen {FSG Originals}RELEASED: APRIL 14, 2020 $17.00 Buy It Now

Crystal Rasmussen, born as Tom, never knew a life before drag queendom. Even as they grew up in northern England, Rasmussen knew they weren’t meant to blend in—standing out was a given. By the time Rasmussen leaves London for a fashion job in New York, they’d come into their own, and this hilarious memoir follows them through a year of adventures, from being onstage to being in bed to realizing the fashion world is even more cutthroat than pop culture portrays it. Diary of a Drag Queen is equal parts inspiring and funny as hell.

This Is Big: How the Founder of Weight Watchers Changed the World—and Me

By: Marisa Meltzer {Little, Brown and Company}RELEASED: APRIL 14, 2020 $28.00 Buy It Now

According to the Boston Medical Center, an estimated 45 million adults in the United States embark on a diet every year, and for an increasing number of adults, an obsession with losing weight begins in childhood. Marisa Meltzer, a contributor to the New York Times and the New Yorker (who has contributed to Bitch), began her first diet at the age of 5, and since then has been on the familiar rollercoaster of losing and gaining weight. When Meltzer read the obituary of Jean Nidetch, the Queens housewife–turned–flamboyant founder of Weight Watchers, she realized how much her own journey ran parallel to that of the woman whose business became an emblem of our culture’s quest for thinness at any cost. This Is Big is an inventive memoir that examines Meltzer’s own experience with weight loss alongside Nidetch’s lucrative belief that community, not secretive shame, could transform people’s bodies and lives.

Missed Translations: Meeting the Immigrant Parents Who Raised Me

By: Sopan Deb

{Dey Street Books}RELEASED: APRIL 21, 2020 $27.99 Buy It Now

There comes a moment in many people’s lives when they realize that their parents or other guardian figures have lives, dreams, hopes, and goals outside of raising them and/or being a spouse. Comedian Sopan Deb’s revelation came as he approached his 30th birthday: He knew the basics about his parents, who’d immigrated, separately, from India to the United States in the 1960s and ’70s. He knew their marriage was arranged, and that his father returned to India several years into their marriage, leaving his children and his wife in suburban New Jersey, but he didn’t know much else. After the 2016 election, which found Deb juggling stand-up comedy and covering the Trump campaign for the New York Times, he decided to journey to India to reconnect with his father and in the process reconnect with himself.

All Boys Aren’t Blue By: George M. Johnson

Farrar, Straus and Giroux }RELEASED: APRIL 28, 2020 $17.99 Buy It Now

Award-winning journalist and activist George M. Johnson is one of my favorite people to follow on social media. His insights about everything from representation in pop culture to sexuality and health keep myself and many others engaged, and he brings that same level of introspection to his powerful memoir-manifesto. Johnson’s book is geared toward young adults—a market that needs this level of realness about everything from finding and harboring joy to bullying to navigating queerness. All Boys Aren’t Blue is a game changer.

Good Morning, Destroyer of Men’s Souls: A Memoir of Women, Addiction, and Love By: Nina Renata Aron {Crown}

RELEASED: MAY 5, 2020 $27.00 Buy It Now

When Nina Renata Aron began dating her boyfriend, K, it didn’t take long for him to relapse. Addiction is a disease; it can come upon those who are afflicted without warning and the effects are felt by the person addicted as well as those who love them. Good Morning, Destroyer of Men’s Souls explores how addiction transforms K, transforms their relationship, and transforms Aron’s relationship to herself and to her childhood. It’s difficult to tell someone else’s story of addiction with empathy and understanding, but Aron balances it all beautifully.

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Fairest By: Meredith Talusan {Viking}

RELEASED: MAY 26, 2020 $27.00 Buy It Now

I first learned about journalist and author Meredith Talusan in 2016 when she spearheaded Unerased, Mic’s award-winning multimedia project that chronicled the crisis of transgender women in the United States being murdered. Talusan has since been an integral part of them’s inaugural editorial team, where she still works as a contributing editor, and has been one of the strongest voices holding newsrooms accountable when they offer lip service to inclusivity but do not actually prioritize it. In Fairest, Talusan brings that same determination and brilliance to her own story, with recollections of immigrating to the United States, unlearning the gender binary, and, most important, coming into her own.

In Open Country By: Rahawa Haile {Harper}RELEASED: JUNE 2, 2020

Buy It Now

On October 3, 2016, Rahawa Haile announced on Twitter that she’d successfully hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine with a photo that captured the triumph. Since then, she’s published a canonical piece in Outside that detailed her experience and an incredible essay in BuzzFeed about leaving books by Black authors for other hikers to discover. Her upcoming memoir considers “what it means to move through America and the world as a Black woman.” Though there aren’t too many details on In Open Country, we know what Haile is capable of as a writer—and that alone has us thirsting to dig into this book.

The Dragons, the Giant, the Women By: Wayétu Moore {Graywolf Press}RELEASED: JUNE 2, 2020 $26.00 Buy It Now

Is it possible to find home again after being unexpectedly uprooted during a political upheaval? That’s one of the questions at the center of Wayétu Moore’s second book, which chronicles one of the most difficult experiences of her young life. At the age of 5, the civil war in Liberia forces Moore and her family—minus her mother, who’s studying at a university in New York—to flee the country. After a three-week journey on foot, Moore and her family are smuggled to the border of Sierra Leone and, from there, travel to the United States to reunite with her mother and begin a brand new life. The Dragons, the Giant, the Women is a beautifully written book about the experience of migrating—a story, particularly in this moment, that can never be told enough.

The Groom Will Keep His Name By: Matt Ortile

{Bold Type Books}RELEASED: JUNE 16, 2020 $16.99 Buy It Now

Recent years have brought us an array of memoirs and essay collections that specifically center the experiences of gay men negotiating the tenacious homophobia of the United States: Michael Arceneaux’s I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé, Darnell L. Moore’s No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America, and Saeed Jones’s How We Fight for Our Lives come immediately to mind. The success of these books feels like an assurance that we’ll continue to see stories like theirs move out of the margins of the literary canon. In The Groom Will Keep His Name, Matt Ortile, managing editor of Catapult, offers up his unique experiences as a Filipino immigrant figuring out how to date in a world where we’re all encouraged to be curated versions of ourselves. The book’s clever title reflects its witty and captivating takes on everything from one-night stands to dating apps and beyond.

Notes on a Silencing

By: Lacy Crawford

{Little, Brown & Company}RELEASED: JULY 14, 2020 $28.00 Buy It Now

Many of us have fragmented memories that cause us to question what’s real and what we’ve imagined. But when St. Paul’s School, an elite boarding school in Concord, New Hampshire, was deemed a “haven for sexual predators” in a May 2018 lawsuit filed by two of the school’s alumnae, Lacy Crawford realized that her hazy recollection of being assaulted at age 15 by two fellow students many years earlier—and the efforts of the school’s administration, including faculty and clergy, to shield her attackers from consequences—wasn’t something she’d invented or imagined. Once St. Paul’s extensive history of burying crimes and harming victims became national news, Crawford got access to files about her case that she’d never seen before; her experience of revisiting the trauma, realizing just how far the school had gone to protect her assaulters, and coming to terms with the cost of that injustice is the foundation for this incredible memoir.

Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir

By: Natasha Trethewey {Ecco}

RELEASED: JULY 28, 2020 $27.99 Buy It Now

Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Natasha Trethewey has long said that her mother’s 1985 murder at the hands of her ex-husband propelled her into the art form and has continued to haunt her even as she’s found extraordinary success that includes being named U.S. Poet Laureate in 2012 and 2013. Trethewey told the Chicago Tribune in November 2018 that she thinks of herself as “someone who has lived in a state of bereavement my whole adult life,” and in Memorial Drive, she explores the loss and lingering grief that has shaped so much of her work. Trethewey’s heartbreakingly beautiful memoir honors her mother, Gwendolyn, while also indicting a culture that fails to protect abuse victims as they try to retrieve their lives from the clutches of their abusers.

Being Lolita

By: Alisson Wood

{Flatiron Books}RELEASED: AUGUST 4, 2020 $26.99 Buy It Now

Since the #MeToo movement spotlighted predators in Hollywood, journalism, and beyond, a number of memoirs have taken stock of how power dynamics can shape—and exploit— an array of relationships, including platonic ones between teachers and students (Donna Freitas’s Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention) and those where the boundaries of friendship are betrayed by rape (Jeannie Vanasco’s Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl). Allison Wood, winner of the inaugural Breakout 8 Writers Prize and a creative writing teacher at New York University, adds to this growing canon with a chronicle of her two-year relationship with her high-school English teacher.

There’s more…

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Read this Next: No More White Girl Tales

by Kristin SandersNovember 13, 2017Myriam Gurba’s criticism of white America’s racial myopia couldn’t be better timed.

BY EVETTE DIONNEView profile »

Evette Dionne is Bitch Media’s editor-in-chief. She’s all about Beyoncé, Black women, and dope TV shows and books. You can follow her on Twitter.

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BOOK LAUNCH ON THURSDAY NIGHT – COME OUT WITH ME for the LAUNCH OF “DISFIGURED” by AMANDA LEDUC in Hamilton, Ontario

Exciting News

DISFIGURED

By: AMANDA LEDUC

Book Launch for Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability and Making Space by Amanda Leduc.

Join Amanda Leduc for the launch of Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability and Making Space. Sarah Jama co-founder of the Disability Justice Network of Ontario (DJNO), an organization committed to building the political and community power of people with disabilities, will be moderating.

Disfigured challenges the ableism of fairy tales and offers new ways to celebrate the magic of all bodies. In fairy tales, happy endings are the norm – as long as you’re beautiful and walk on two legs. After all, the ogre never gets the princess. And since fairy tales are the foundational myths of our culture, how can a girl with a disability ever think she’ll have a happy ending?

By examining the ways that fairy tales have shaped our expectations of disability, Disfigured will point the way toward a new world where disability is no longer a punishment or impediment but operates, instead, as a way of centering a protagonist and helping them to cement their own place in a story, and from there, the world. Through the book, Leduc ruminates on the connections we make between fairy tale archetypes – the beautiful princess, the glass slipper, the maiden with long hair lost in the tower – and tries to make sense of them through a twenty-first-century disablist lens. From examinations of disability in tales from the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen through to modern interpretations ranging from Disney to Angela Carter, and the fight for disabled representation in today’s media, Leduc connects the fight for disability justice to the growth of modern, magical stories, argues for increased awareness and acceptance of that which is other – helping us to see and celebrate the magic inherent in different bodies.

Amanda Leduc’s essays and stories have appeared in publications across Canada, the US, and the UK. She is the author of the novels The Miracles of Ordinary Men and the forthcoming The Centaur’s Wife . She has cerebral palsy and lives in Hamilton, Ontario, where she works as the Communications Coordinator for the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD), Canada’s first festival for diverse authors and stories.

Event Details:

Wednesday, February 12 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
First Unitarian Church, 170 Dundurn Street South, Hamilton, ON


Admission is free, all are welcome
The Unitarian Church has wheelchair accessible entry and wheelchair accessible washrooms. Accessible parking is available on either side of the entrance doors. For more accessibility information on the venue, please visit their website.
https://uuhamilton.ca

Please note that the venue is a nut-free and scent-free space.

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PARKING

Ample car parking is available for most people in our own parking lot with additional space available at the Fortino’s plaza nearby at Dundurn and Main.

Parking spots for differently-abled are reserved near both doors.
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CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR FREE TICKETS FOR THE BOOK LAUNCH.

To learn more about Amanda Leduc, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

FACEBOOK