Tuesday, July 28th 2020

the unhoneymooners

the unhoneymoonersThe Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
on January 1st 1970

Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin: from inexplicable mishaps to a recent layoff, her life seems to be almost comically jinxed. By contrast, her sister, Ami, is an eternal champion . . . she even managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a slew of contests. Unfortunately for Olive, the only thing worse than constant bad luck is having to spend the wedding day with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas.
Olive braces herself for wedding hell, determined to put on a brave face, but when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. Suddenly there’s a free honeymoon up for grabs, and Olive will be damned if Ethan gets to enjoy paradise solo.
Agreeing to a temporary truce, the pair head for Maui. After all, ten days of bliss are worth having to assume the role of loving newlyweds, right? But the weird thing is . . . Olive doesn't mind playing pretend. In fact, the more she pretends to be the luckiest woman alive, the more it feels like she might be.

This book was exactly what I thought it was going to be and it was perfect. I will admit that I wanted just a little more in the steamy department, but it was a really good rom-com. If you are looking for a fun, light read during these bleak times, I highly recommend this one.


Monday, May 25th 2020

The House with Chicken Legs

The House with Chicken LegsThe House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson
Published by Usborne Publishing on April 5th 2018
Pages: 337

All 12-year-old Marinka wants is a friend. A real friend. Not like her house with chicken legs. Sure, the house can play games like tag and hide-and-seek, but Marinka longs for a human companion. Someone she can talk to and share secrets with. But that's tough when your grandmother is a Yaga, a guardian who guides the dead into the afterlife. It's even harder when you live in a house that wanders all over the world . . . carrying you with it. Even worse, Marinka is being trained to be a Yaga. That means no school, no parties--and no playmates that stick around for more than a day. So when Marinka stumbles across the chance to make a real friend, she breaks all the rules . . . with devastating consequences. Her beloved grandmother mysteriously disappears, and it's up to Marinka to find her--even if it means making a dangerous journey to the afterlife. With a mix of whimsy, humor, and adventure, this debut novel will wrap itself around your heart and never let go.

So technically Believathon ended on the 24th, but with everything that has happened in the past few weeks, I am giving myself extra time to complete this readathon. And I am still waiting for one book to arrive in the mail.

With that said, let’s get into this review.

I really enjoyed this book! Funnily enough I bought another book regarding Baba Yaga earlier in the year. This book was like a mix of Baba Yaga tales I am familiar with, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Coco. I loved the writing style, the characters, and the message. I do not typically read middle grade which is why I was interested in the Believathon to begin with. My only minor gripe was pacing. I felt like the pacing was just a bit off with this book. Parts of it went by too fast and then other parts went too slowly. I did love the ending though and I am looking forward to reading other books by Sophie Anderson.


Saturday, May 23rd 2020

The Giver

The GiverThe Giver (The Giver, #1) by Lois Lowry
Published by Ember on January 24th 2006
Pages: 208

Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community.

I decided not to change my star rating of this book. I was conflicted about it, but I think nostalgia played a part. I did really enjoy re-reading this book. I found myself more frustrated this time by the ending though. However, I have never read the rest of the series, so that might be my fault. I still really enjoyed the message of this book and think it should be a required read for all. In a lot of ways, it is timeless.


Monday, July 29th 2019

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Smoke Gets in Your EyesSmoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty
Published by W. W. Norton Company on September 28th 2015
Pages: 272

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. She demystifies death, leading us behind the black curtain of her unique profession. And she answers questions you didn’t know you had: Can you catch a disease from a corpse? How many dead bodies can you fit in a Dodge van? What exactly does a flaming skull look like?

Honest and heartfelt, self-deprecating and ironic, Caitlin's engaging style makes this otherwise taboo topic both approachable and engrossing. Now a licensed mortician with an alternative funeral practice, Caitlin argues that our fear of dying warps our culture and society, and she calls for better ways of dealing with death (and our dead).

I wish I could remember exactly where I heard Caitlin Doughty’s name first. I feel like she was referenced in a podcast that I listen to. It might have been Last Podcast on the Left. Either way, when I heard that she was a mortician with a YouTube series called “ask a mortician,” I knew I had to look her up immediately. And I am so glad I did.

This book reminded me of my favorite Mary Roach book, Stiff. She is just so candid and no-nonsense about the whole process. From cremation to embalming, to putting make-up on the dead, it is a fascinating read and I love her humor sprinkled throughout. If you have any interest whatsoever in what happens to our bodies after we die, I highly recommend this book and her YouTube channel.


Sunday, July 28th 2019

Beautiful Boy

Beautiful BoyBeautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction by David Sheff
Published by Mariner Books on January 6th 2009
Pages: 340

What had happened to my beautiful boy? To our family? What did I do wrong? Those are the wrenching questions that haunted every moment of David Sheff’s journey through his son Nic’s addiction to drugs and tentative steps toward recovery. Before Nic Sheff became addicted to crystal meth, he was a charming boy, joyous and funny, a varsity athlete and honor student adored by his two younger siblings. After meth, he was a trembling wraith who lied, stole, and lived on the streets.

David Sheff traces the first subtle warning signs: the denial, the 3 A.M. phone calls (is it Nic? The police? The hospital?), the rehabs. His preoccupation with Nic became an addiction in itself, and the obsessive worry and stress took a tremendous toll, but as a journalist, he instinctively researched every avenue of treatment that might save his son and refused to give up on him. Beautiful Boy is a fiercely candid memoir that brings immediacy to the emotional roller coaster of loving a child who seems beyond help.

This book was INTENSE. It is not only a memoir of a father with an addicted son, but it was also very informative as he discovered more and more about addiction. I really felt for him and I could not imagine the amount of stress and anxiety his son’s addiction caused not only himself but the entire family. They never knew where he was or if he was even alive.

This book was a difficult read but I am glad I picked it up. The son also wrote a memoir but I have not yet had the chance to check it out. There was also a movie recently made based on their story and I cannot wait to see that as well.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. I feel it should be a required read as addiction becomes more and more prevalent.