Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty

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source: free copy via Amazon Prime membership
title: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory
author: Caitlin Doughty / Twitter
genre: memoir
pages: 242
published: September 15, 2014
first line: A girl always remembers the first corpse she shaves.
rated: 4 out of 5
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blurb:
Most people want to avoid thinking about death, but Caitlin Doughty—a twenty-something with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre—took a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life’s work. Thrown into a profession of gallows humor and vivid characters (both living and very dead), Caitlin learned to navigate the secretive culture of those who care for the deceased.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes tells an unusual coming-of-age story full of bizarre encounters and unforgettable scenes. Caring for dead bodies of every color, shape, and affliction, Caitlin soon becomes an intrepid explorer in the world of the dead. She describes how she swept ashes from the machines (and sometimes onto her clothes) and reveals the strange history of cremation and undertaking, marveling at bizarre and wonderful funeral practices from different cultures.

Her eye-opening, candid, and often hilarious story is like going on a journey with your bravest friend to the cemetery at midnight…..

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*trigger warning for delicate subject matter for some readers*

 

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The Pisces by Melissa Broder

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source: free ARC via Amazon Vine
title: The Pisces
author: Melissa Broder (twitter)
published: May 1st 2018 by Hogarth Press
pages: 272
genre: fiction
first line: I was no longer lonely but I was.
rated:
4 1/2 out of 5 stars
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blurb:
Lucy has been writing her dissertation on Sappho for nine years when she and her boyfriend break up in a dramatic flameout. After she bottoms out in Phoenix, her sister in Los Angeles insists Lucy dog-sit for the summer. Annika’s home is a gorgeous glass cube on Venice Beach, but Lucy can find little relief from her anxiety — not in the Greek chorus of women in her love addiction therapy group, not in her frequent Tinder excursions, not even in Dominic the foxhound’s easy affection.

Everything changes when Lucy becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer while sitting alone on the beach rocks one night. But when Lucy learns the truth about his identity, their relationship, and Lucy’s understanding of what love should look like, take a very unexpected turn. A masterful blend of vivid realism and giddy fantasy, pairing hilarious frankness with pulse-racing eroticism, THE PISCES is a story about falling in obsessive love with a merman: a figure of Sirenic fantasy whose very existence pushes Lucy to question everything she thought she knew about love, lust, and meaning in the one life we have.

my thoughts: I honestly don’t know where to begin.
The Pisces by Melissa Broder was one of the most intriguing and shockingly brazen books I have ever read.
I feel as though I have found a hidden gem. I found this one on AmazonVine and the cover and blurb intrigued me. This is one of those books that begs to be discussed, I’ve been thinking about it long after turning the final page.

There are elements of erotica, magical realism, mental illness and women’s issues woven into the plot. Author Melissa Broder is a poet and columnist and she does not hold back, her writing is straightforward, shocking and poetic all at once. This is a story about love and loss and addiction. And sex with a mer-man. Is he real? Is he an illusion? Who knows. I still don’t know. I think he is a metaphor for addiction. Only Lucy ever sees him, only she knows he exists. I was shocked while reading. Often. And then I also felt creeped out and then also sad. I laughed out loud at times as well.

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Gulp By Mary Roach

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I am an Amazon affiliate.
source: Purchased
title: Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
author: Mary Roach (Twitter)
genre: non-fiction/science
pages: 348
published: 2013
first line: In 1968, on the Berkeley campus of the University of California, six young men undertook an irregular and unprecedented act.
rated: 4 out of 5 stars
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Blurb:
The alimentary canal — the much-maligned tube from mouth to rear — is as taboo, in its way, as the cadavers in Stiff, and as surreal as the universe of zero gravity explored in Packing for Mars. In Gulp we meet the scientists who tackle the questions no one else thinks —or has the courage —to ask. How much can you eat before your stomach bursts? Why doesn’t the stomach digest itself? Can wine tasters really tell a $10 bottle from a $100 bottle? Why is crunchy food so appealing? Can constipation kill you? Did it kill Elvis? We go on location to a pet food taste-test lab, a fecal transplant, and into a live stomach to observe the fate of a meal. Like all of Roach’s books, Gulp is as much about human beings as it is about human bodies.

My thoughts:
Mary Roach one of those authors I discovered through book blogging years ago. I have been meaning to read Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers for a while, but I had a copy of Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal on my shelves and finally dove into it. I have zero recollection of purchasing this book, but I know I bought it at some point a few years back.

This was an interesting reading experience. The author has a knack for infusing humor into her writing, she grossed me out a little but also made me laugh.

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Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

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source: purchased
title: Flowers In The Attic (Dollanganger Book 1)
author: V.C. Andrews
genre: Gothic fiction/YA fiction/Classic
published: 1979
pages: 359
first line: It is so appropriate to color hope yellow, like that sun we seldom saw.
rated: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars for being entertaining and twisted
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Blurb:
A major Lifetime movie event—the novel that captured the world’s imagination and earned V.C. Andrews a fiercely devoted fanbase. Book One of the Dollanganger Family series.

At the top of the stairs there are four secrets hidden. Blond, beautiful, innocent, and struggling to stay alive…

They were a perfect family, golden and carefree—until a heartbreaking tragedy shattered their happiness. Now, for the sake of an inheritance that will ensure their future, the children must be hidden away out of sight, as if they never existed. Kept on the top floor of their grandmother’s vast mansion, their loving mother assures them it will be just for a little while. But as brutal days swell into agonizing months and years, Cathy, Chris, and twins Cory and Carrie realize their survival is at the mercy of their cruel and superstitious grandmother…and this cramped and helpless world may be the only one they ever know.

Book One of the Dollanganger series, followed by Petals in the Wind, If There be Thorns, Seeds of Yesterday, and Garden of Shadows.

My thoughts:
(minor spoilers)

Flowers In The Attic is a blast from the past for me. I remember seeing the 1987 film version as a tween and I read this book and the second in series, Petals on the Wind when I was pregnant with my son. He’s twenty now, so it has been a while since I revisited this series.

I have been on a trend lately, with reading books published in the 70’s like Stephen King’s Carrie, I think I will keep that up. I like the nostalgic vibe to these stories. Continue reading

Married Sex: A Love Story by Jesse Kornbluth

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source: free ARC via AmazonVine
title: Married Sex: A Love Story
author: Jesse Kornbluth
published: Open Road Media (August 25, 2015)
pages: 246
genre: fiction
first line: The most beautiful woman in the world is a woman reading a book.
rated: intriguing and thought provoking
4 out of 5 stars
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blurb:
When a husband convinces his wife to join him in a tryst with another woman, there are unintended consequences in this sharply observed erotic tale about the challenges of modern marriage

As a divorce lawyer for Manhattan’s elite, David Greenfield is privy to the intimate, dirty details of failed marriages. He knows he’s lucky to be married to Blair—a Barnard dean and the mother of their college-age daughter, she is a woman he loves more today than he did when they tied the knot.

Then seductive photographer Jean Coin asks David to be her lover for 6 weeks, until she leaves for Timbuktu. Tempted, David reasons that “it’s not cheating if your wife’s there.” A 1-night threesome would relieve the pressure of monogamy without wrecking their marriage. What harm could come of fulfilling his longtime sexual fantasy?

My Thoughts:
Another AmazonVine find that I have been meaning to review,  Married Sex: A Love Story pleasantly surprised me. I like stories that delve beneath the surface and bring up hidden truths and desires from its characters.

David and Blair have been married for over two decades. Now in their mid-forties, their careers are successful, they live in Manhattan and their daughter is off at college. David is a divorce lawyer and Blair is a school Dean. From the outside looking in, you would think they have it all, but two years into their marriage David had an affair. When Blair caught him, she made him promise if he were ever be tempted to stray again, he would have to bring the person home to her first. It became somewhat of a pact between the couple.

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