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review 2018-01-16 19:29
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory - Caitlin Doughty,Caitlin Doughty,Recorded Books LLC

“A girl always remembers the first corpse she shaves.”

 

I sometimes think I’ve missed my life’s true calling. That of being a mortuary worker.  But after reading this book I’m not so sure. I always thought the idea of working with people who didn’t talk back was a nice one, you know?  No office politics, no grumpy personalities to tip-toe around, no one stealing your lunch and there’s never a lack of business. Sounds like bliss to me. Until I read this book which shattered those daydreams. There are some unsavory, heartbreaking and infuriating parts of the job that I never considered like . . .

 

Incinerating Babies

Gushing molten fat

Cheap ass relatives

Moving heavy bodies into the incinerator by yourself

Heads. Yep. Just the heads.

 

But then again, no job is perfect, right?

 

Caitlin Doughty captures her experiences while working at a mortuary and later going to school to make it official, with humor, insight and horror. I loved every captivating word. She has an extremely fanciful imagination and morbid wit that keeps you listening even when things get really dark or really disgusting and believe me they get disgusting!

 

She delves deep into the history of death rituals and how it all evolved into the system currently in place today.  She doesn’t pull any punches and explains how embalming, though once a necessity on the battlefield, has morphed into nothing more than a money maker for the death industry. Fascinating! I always wondered why bodies weren’t buried naturally and given back to the earth and now I know the reason and it’s pretty damn depressing.

 

Doughty narrates this audiobook and she does a fantastic job. She knows her material best, after all, and her voice is clear and pleasant to listen to. She adds humor in all the right spots and it never feels forced. She has a strong grasp on the toll that being surrounded by death brings on those who deal with it day in and day out. She and her co-workers look at the world a little differently than most folks.  I guess it’s hard not to when you face down death and deal with the aftermath every day. Death happens to everyone sooner or later and there’s no point living your life fearful of it coming for you. And it is coming for you!

 

 “We are just future corpses.”

 

If you’re a morbid sort such as I, I highly recommend this book to you.

 

 

 

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review 2018-01-11 18:11
Hard Core by Tess Oliver
Hard Core - Tess Oliver

I haven’t a clue why this book is called Hard core because it’s not hard core at all and that’s not a terrible thing. Just don’t be misled by the title thinking you’re going into some gritty, taboo, murder filled read. You might be disappointed if that’s the case.

Hard Core is a sweet, slightly saucy little love story. Ledger has recently been released from prison for a stupid but rather harmless offense. He’s covered in tattoos but he’s nothing but sweetness on the inside.

He did not murder or harm anyone, if you were still wondering.

Jacy runs a coffee shop and is recovering from an abusive relationship and a devastating secret she doesn’t share with anyone when she meets Ledger. They soon fall in love but Ledger has a secret of his own. A secret which will come back to bite him in his perfect butt and possibly ruin everything he’s been living for the past few years.

This was a straight-forward, slightly predicable but pleasant romance with a likable, if sometimes misguided, hero and a heroine who didn’t get on my last nerve. I’d recommend reading it in paper as I wasn’t overly thrilled with either narrator. I love the idea of two narrators for this type of story but have to admit it threw me at first and took some getting used to. Lauren Sweet voices Jacy and her voice was so nasally at times that it made me cringe. Marcio Catalano does his best with Ledger but I felt his voice was too cultured and smooth for a man like Ledger. A little roughness would’ve made it work better for me. I’m not sure either narrator was the best choice for these two characters but they weren’t abominable so if audio is your only thing give it a go.

 

 

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review 2018-01-08 19:44
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel - Gail Honeyman,Cathleen McCarron

I listened to Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine on audio and the narrator, Cathleen McCarron, was a perfect match for Eleanor and her escapades. She does beautiful things with the words and I could listen to her accent all day. If you’re an audio fan snap this one up!

Eleanor is a quirky lady. She lives a solitary life and follows the same routine day after day, week after week, and year after year. She goes to work, she comes home. She is blunt and says whatever comes to mind. Maybe because of this, she has no friends. She does not socialize. On Wednesday she receives her toxic phone call from “Mummy” which always leaves her feeling worse for it. And on Friday she gets takeout and 3 bottles of booze to help her get through the long, lonely stretch of the weekend. 

Then one day she has to call IT because her computer isn’t working properly and she meets Raymond. Now don’t worry it’s not what you’re thinking. This is not a romance and he is not there to sweep her off her feet and make everything all better with his dashing looks and wit. He’s disheveled, he’s average in looks but he’s friendly and, after they save an old man in the street, they become the most unlikeliest of friends and Eleanor’s social world expands just a little. Raymond doesn’t care that Eleanor is strange and blunt. He enjoys her company and she, much to her surprise, allows herself to enjoy his. But Eleanor has some deep dark painful things she must deal with before she is able to fully engage in the world. 

I’m not going to spoil another thing. Just go read this if you haven’t already. It’s ugly, it’s wickedly funny but never frivolous, it’s painful and sensitive and it’s such a lovely way to spend a few hours. It’ll leave you feeling a little better about the world when you’ve finished and who doesn’t want that?!


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review 2017-12-15 19:16
Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda
Best Day Ever: A Psychological Thriller - Kaira Rouda,Graham Halstead,Amy McFadden
Paul and Mia have been married for ten years and have the perfect life. If you’re on the outside looking in, that is. From the inside, things aren’t looking so great.

The bulk of the story is told by Paul who is a complete dick on the level of Joe from YOU by Caroline Kepnes (haven’t read YOU? You must, it’s awesome). Paul thinks ugly thoughts about women who don’t fit into his narrow view of beauty and he treats his wife like some sort of totally dependent on him 50’s housewife. The two are currently on their way to their second home for what Paul repeatedly declares “The Best Day Ever”. It turns out to be anything but as little things are eventually revealed that lead you to believe something is very wrong with this marriage. 

I have a soft-spot for these kinds of books which is why I keep picking them up but this one won’t go down as one of my favorites because I hated Paul. Not in an I love to hate you sort of way like Joe up there. No, it was simply hate. Paul is a completely despicable character. I can get behind that kind of character if they make me laugh or keep me amused but Paul is not funny and never, ever amusing. He is slimy, narcissistic and completely unredeemable. We spend nearly the entire book in his head so everything is viewed through his shitty eyes. The writing is engaging, I cannot lie, but also very enraging. I also saw most of the reveals coming from the get-go and not a one of them came as a surprise. Maybe I’ve read too many of these books but I really don’t think so. Perhaps I’m just becoming really smart with figuring these things out but, nah, I don’t think that’s it either. It fizzles out with an unnecessary epilogue that I wish hadn’t been there and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

On the plus side, narrator Graham Halstead is pretty good. His voice fits Paul perfectly. If you’re going to read this I recommend listening to the audio. That way you can do other things while listening and you won’t have wasted too much of your precious reading time with this same-old, same-old story.

 
 

 

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review 2017-12-11 18:29
Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes & Jo Piazza
Fitness Junkie: A Novel - Lucy Sykes,Jo Piazza,Susan Bennett

This is a book about wealthy people wasting their money on fad health crazes and one 40ish successful woman’s descent into it all after her business partner who is her childhood friend tells her she is an embarrassment and can no longer be the face of the company she helped build because she’s too fat. And no, very much to my disappointment, she does not stab him to death.

 

She owns 49% the company and though she’s hurt by his rejection and horrible insults, she silently slinks away and embarks on all of the fad fitness journeys that money can buy. And, apparently, money can buy you a lot of useless diet aides (clay eating?!) and retreats and painful over-priced workouts. Thankfully, I’ll never have enough extra money laying around to throw away on a $50 topless yoga class!

 

Janie wasn’t too bad as the main character. She’s dealing with a double whammy of betrayal and humiliation and manages to keep on plugging away instead of falling into a fit of “poor me” despair. Despite being a little insecure and very dumb about her business partner, Beau, she’s pretty likable as far as these types go. She knows these things are ridiculous but she goes along with them anyway; drinking strange juices, spending $15,000 on a retreat, eating a little clay, taking her top off and buying a fitness watch thingy that embarrasses her at every turn.

 

This book does poke fun at Gwyneth Paltrow and her silly Goop-iness but other than that I found it all pretty shallow and only vaguely entertaining and though it promised to be “outrageously funny” it really was not. However, you may have a better sense of humor than I.

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