The Doll Funeral

I recently finished The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer. I won this book in a giveaway, which was really exciting (and I took a killer Instagram photo with the cover).

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I liked this book. For some reason it took me a long time to get through it, but I was able to pick it right back up whenever I decided to open it. The main character in the book is a girl named Ruby who lives with her parents – a father who physically and emotionally abuses her, and a mother who cannot intervene. Ruby recently learned that she is adopted, and is determined to find her real family.

You quickly learn that Ruby sees things that others around her cannot see. This escape helps her to find the motivation to keep going, even when the road to finding her parents is tough. Because she can see things others can’t, it keeps you wondering if characters are real, and I found this unreliable component kept me engaged in the story.

There were a few pieces of this story that I didn’t like, but they were overshadowed by what I did enjoy.

Happy reading!

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Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Hello, blog world.

Life, man. I’ve been busy (If I had a dollar for every time I wrote that phrase…). But, in truth, I have not felt like reading. At all. I have liked the books I have picked up, but at the end of the day, I have no motivation to actually dive into a book. So, I’ve been forcing myself to do a little reading most nights, and feel like I may be getting back into the swing. Hopefully. I genuinely have no reason to NOT be reading, but I have been choosing to go to bed early instead. Alright, enough, let’s talk books.

I finished Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty about two weeks ago. I started it in Philadelphia while on a work trip, continued it in Ann Arbor on another work trip, and finished it in my bed at home. I first heard about this book from a student who I work with. He was taking a literature course exploring death in literature, and would regularly read outside of my office. So, we had a little routine where I (rudely) interrupted, interrogated, and added items to my reading list.

So, when a wonderful person who I work with offered to loan me this book, I jumped. I was reading another book at the time, but had no motivation, so I thought this could be a kick in the pants.

I am obsessed with this book, and was having flashbacks to reading Stiff by Mary Roach. Both approach death with a curiosity and a light humor. I had no previous knowledge about cremation, and learned a lot. I learned that living in North America makes it extremely unlikely that I will ever see a body that is actually decomposing. I learned that, in a society who focuses so much on youth, we sure do not handle the dying well. And, ultimately, I learned that after I die I do not want my body embalmed, and want a green burial. My grandfather is donating his body to Michigan State University – another option to me.

I highly recommend this book if you do not know much about cremation (warning: the baby chapter is a little tough). It certainly helped me narrow down what I want to have happen after I am gone. If you read this, let me know, I’d love to talk about it!

 

PSA – Doughty recently released another book. Check it out here. 

 

Love Her Madly

I’m still blogging about my vacation reads from one month ago! I need to get these done and get reading!

Lover Her Madly by M. Elizabeth Lee is about two girls who quickly become best friends in college. They are drastically different – Cyn introduces Glo to a world of drugs and care-free living, and Cyn accepts Glo as she is. They fall for the same guy, and the situation explodes while they are on a trip together in Costa Rica. After one night of partying Cyn disappears.

I had mixed feelings about this book. Working in Higher Education, I always have an interested in fiction set on campus or about relationships between college students – it’s exciting to watch them grow, figure out who they are, and learn about others around them. However, I did not like Cyn. I found her manipulative and extremely frustrating. I also found parts of the story over the top and unrealistic. However, I really liked the writing and Cyn didn’t annoy me enough to put the book down (probably because I was waiting for Glo to get rid of her!), and once the mystery of Cyn’s disappearance picked up, I was hooked.

Happy Reading!

Still Mine

My next vacation read that I need to feature is Still Mine by Amy Stuart. First of all, I really liked her writing! I thought this book had lovely prose, and I was engaged with the book. This book is about Clare, a woman who is moonlighting as a photographer in a small mining town in the mountains. You quickly learn that Clare is there to investigate the disappearance of a woman who is her age. She finds many similarities between the two. Clare herself has disappeared from her home, and knows that when someone disappears, it can mean a whole lot of things. Through the book Clare immerses herself in the roughest parts of this small and crumbling community to try to solve this mystery and sort through the life she just left behind.

This book was easy to read in that it held my attention, and had a great pace. That combined with the writing style made the perfect read through one of the rainy vacation days. Still Mine was not the most fast-paced-twisty mystery novel I have ever read, but it was certainly enjoyable and I look forward to the sequel!

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The Circle

I’m excited that I am still posting about vacation reads – it takes me right back to my quiet week on the lake!

I have been excited about the preview of The Circle for a while because I love Emma Watson (who doesn’t?), but refuse to see the movie until I have read the book. This was my second book by Dave Eggers, and I really enjoyed it. I can see how it’s great material to inspire a movie.

The Circle is about a young woman named Mae who starts working for a large tech company who is working on all kinds of projects. The company has a lot of young people working for them and has a huge social media focus. They work to connect people and make the world more transparent.

The deeper Mae becomes involved in the company, the more she changes her lifestyle and the faster she volunteers to open her life up to others in the company and around the world.

This book introduces political concerns, privacy issues, and asks if social media should have limits. It was wonderful to read while I was unplugged for the week, and made me think about the information I put out on the internet, and how companies use it.

Did you see the movie? How did it compare to the book? No spoilers, please!

 

 

The Vacationers

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I was on vacation last week, and it was wonderful! I spent seven days in a cabin in northern Wisconsin. I did not have any cell service, internet, or a television. I spent time kayaking, playing with my dogs, playing cards, and doing plenty of reading. I read one book each full day I was there. This week I will be blogging and posting on my Instagram about each of my reads.

First up, is The Vacationers by Emma Straub. This was my first book by Straub, and I devoured it. It was full of gossip and rich people problems, making for a quick and fun read. I really enjoyed Straub’s writing and will most certainly pick up more of her books in the future. I really love following her on Instagram!

This book is about the Post family who is on a two week vacation on a beautiful Island in Spain. The Post parents are trying to sort out what infidelity means for their marriage, the Post daughter is trying to lose her virginity before she goes to college, and the Post son is deciding how to navigate his relationship with his older girlfriend and how to discuss his financial woes with his parents. Some family friends along for the ride throw in some added complications. Overall, this book is about family and how complicated those relationships can be. The book did a great job of revealing the tensions that can come along with a family vacation where each person has high (and often different) expectations. This is a great summer beach/lake read, for sure.

Happy reading!

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

This morning I finished Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. I live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a place where you can still get lost in the woods and lose cell phone reception. I love walking out through the woods, just like Dillard, and I thought this book would be about her adventures, but I was presently surprised.

Dillard does not just talk about her adventures in the woods, however. What I appreciated about Pilgrim at Tinker Creek was the details. Dillard’s stories about sitting on a bridge for 40 minutes to watch a muskrat, or thinking about the atoms in the tail of a goldfish. She appreciates all of the small pieces that make up her love of Tinker Creek. The best way I can describe this book is like a prayer to the mystery of the world.

Happy reading!