Tag Archives: Death

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Overview
When Breath Becomes Air: Kalanithi, Paul: 9781784701994: Books - Amazon.ca

Title: When Breath Becomes Air
Author: Paul Kalanithi
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Death, Medical, Memoirs
Dates read: 2nd – 13th October 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Vintage Books
Year: 2016
5th sentence, 74th page: The surgeon got to work, passed a small endoscope through Matthew’s nose, and drilled off the floor of his skull.

Synopsis

What do you do when life is catastrophically interrupted?
What does it mean to have a child as your own life fades away? 8 What makes life worth living in the face of death

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live.

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a medical student in search of what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity – the brain – and finally into a patient and new father.

Thoughts

I knew that I was probably going to shed at least a few tears at the end of this book. I mean, it’s a book written by a man who is terminally ill. It’s going to make you cry. I didn’t quite expect how much I cried though. Partly because I didn’t think that it would be the epilogue written by Kalanithi’s wife that would really set me off… maybe not the best book to read when you’re pregnant and hormonal.

When Breath Becomes Air is incredibly humbling. It is filled with reminders that your world can change in a moment and everything you worked towards can just be ripped away. Yet, even though Paul was writing this in his final months and knew what was coming for him, he writes in such a way that you feel… at peace with his fate. Having been around numerous people with a terminal illness, reading about someone who faced their diagnosis head on like this… as I said, humbling.

The first part of this memoir focuses on Kalanithi’s decision to become a neuroscientist. About his constant battle to find a meaning in life where he isn’t entirely sure there is one. I love that he talks about his love for both literature and science. And how instead of being independent of each other (an assumption I’ve often come up against), they build upon one another. You can feel the passion for both fields streaming off the page as you read about Kalanithi’s numerous experiences and a life well lived.

This is one of those amazing memoirs that makes you feel… well, everything. It definitely left me feeling a little bit raw. But, mostly it just made me feel humble and aware of all of my own faults. But not in a bad way. I know that I couldn’t go through a terminal diagnosis like Kalanithi with the kind of calm and grace that he shows. And it’s kind of nice to read the words of someone who actually was capable of doing so.

<- Lab GirlIs Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) ->

Image source: Amazon

Forget Us Not by Nancy Kilpatrick

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of ghost stories by women book cover

Title: Forget Us Not
Author: Nancy Kilpatrick
In: The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women (Marie O’Regan)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Death, Ghosts
Dates read: 18th November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: The back lanes of this city are full of strays and it breaks your heart that they live outdoors in such frigid weather.

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Synopsis

You’ve just lost the man that you love and you’re struggling to move on with life. But, a chance encounter with a cat acts as a great reminder that you may never forget, but you should still live.

Thoughts

At first I found the first person point of view of this story to be a little clunky. Although, that may be partially because I didn’t want to be thrown into the point of view of someone who has lost their husband. That’s a pretty terrifying thought.

I was honestly waiting for a tragedy to occur right throughout this story. It didn’t, actually, ultimately this was kind of uplifting. In the end, rather than being about tragedy, this was a short story that was about what happens after a tragedy.

The end of this story was hopeful. It was a reminder that even after people have left our lives, we still need to live and experience our own happiness and bliss. And it’s also important to stop and mourn the loss of a loved one, or two. No matter how crappy that might feel.

<- My MoiraFront Row Rider ->

Image source: Goodreads

Madison Avery and the Dim Reaper by Kim Harrison

Overview
Image result for prom nights from hell book cover

Title: Madison Avery and the Dim Reaper
Author: Kim Harrison
Series: Madison Avery #0.5
In: Prom Nights from Hell (Meg Cabot, Stephenie Meyer, Kim Harrison, Michele Jaffe & Lauren Myracle)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Death, Grim reapers, Paranormal fantasy
Dates read: 14th November 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Novella
Publisher:Harper Collins
Year: 2007
5th sentence, 74th page: Farther down the hall three kids loitered at the main door.

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Synopsis

Madison doesn’t like that she had to move to a small town to spend time with her Dad. She doesn’t like her school. And she doesn’t like that she was forced to go to a lame, pirate themed prom. But she’s going to like what happens next even less…

Thoughts

Well, this story certainly features the worst birthday and prom ever. Yet, it was also the best kind of prom to read about. After all, it involved death and reapers and all sorts of mysteries that I can’t wait to stop and unravel. There’s most definitely a reason for my current obsession / love of Kim Harrison

There is something about world building that always draws me in completely. Particularly when it is done so beautifully and succinctly in a novella. I’m already drawn into the world of Madison Avery and all of its law. And, even though the lead character is a girl that would usually just frustrate the heck out of me (she’s so against being a part of anything that she’s coming off as snobbish), it somehow all works together brilliantly.

I love that there is a whole heap of reaper lore in this story. There’s good reapers and bad reapers. And then all sorts of mystery and backstory that I really, really want to dig into! I can’t wait to find more stories which feature this lore and world building.

It sucks to die on your birthday, but the greater mystery in this story is one that fascinates me….

<- The CorsageKiss and Tell ->

Image source: Harper Collins

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Overview
Looking for Alaska: Amazon.ca: Green, John: Books

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Book to Film, Contemporary, Death, Young adult
Dates read: 24th September – 4th October 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: speak
Year: 2005
5th sentence, 74th page: She only goes home over Christmas ad the summer, when Jake is there.

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Synopsis

before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (Francois Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

after. Nothing is ever the same.

Thoughts

I had to choose a banned book for a reading challenge. And I absolutely love the fact that this is the banned book that I chose. It was freaking awesome. And didn’t make me cry like The Fault in Our Stars which was a nice side benefit. Don’t get me wrong, I came close. But it didn’t quite get me…

It was obvious from the very beginning of this book that there was a pretty serious “before” and “after”. I did guess what the event was in this circumstance. But I didn’t guess the how of the event. I won’t give any spoilers here, you should read this and see if you too can guess what it is. I’d be interested now to see the Netflix (?)show that is based on this. They normally do good adaptations and I wonder how they would take all of the different issues covered in this and use that on the screen…

One of my favourite things about this book was the total open-endedness of the ending. Pudge had questions and tried to find answers. But in the end, he didn’t get any certainty. Which is kind of the way life is anyway. So it made for a nice, slightly more realistic ending. That, combined with his obsession with last words and the vagueness of whether or not the reports are correct… I really liked how this story dealt with endings and final moments.

Even though there were some fairly sad moments throughout this story. I absolutely adored the whole idea of the Great Perhaps. Apparently (reading the final words of John Green) it was actually something to do with famous last words. But, I just loved that sense of hope. That idea that there is always a great perhaps out there for us, we just have to be willing to take the risk…

Ultimately, this story has a whole heap of themes throughout it. But the one that I enjoyed the most was the creation of friendships, loves and memories. It might have sad moments throughout. But it  was also filled with those friendships, that even if they don’t last a lifetime, they’re remembered for a lifetime.

<- The Fault in Our StarsPaper Towns ->

Image source: Amazon.ca

Godson by Roger Zelazny

Overview
Image result for black thorn white rose book cover

Title: Godson
Author: Roger Zelazny
In: Black Thorn, White Rose (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Death, FamilyFantasy
Dates read: 17th May 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Prime Books
Year: 1994
5th sentence, 74th page: I keep it in my pocket.

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Synopsis

Morrie is not your average godfather. And he’s not one that you should cross… until David finds a way.

Thoughts

This story seriously made me think about a Discworld novel. I THINK it was Mort. The personification of death, his presence in a young man’s life and just the general humour which comes with such a story. Alright, it also painted death as somewhat cruel and petty. But mostly, I really enjoyed the light humour which wove it’s way through this short story.

I vaguely remember the original fairy tale upon which this short story was based. And I’m fairly positive it didn’t have the same happy ending that this one had. Instead of being a horrible, cruel ending… there was a nice sense of life coming full circle and the happiness of family being completed. I actually really liked that this had a happier ending… it was a nice change to some of the other fairy tales in the Black Thorn, White Rose collection.

This short story is about death, life and, sometimes risking it all because you love someone. It’s a good short story that left me feeling happy and complete at the end of the story. I actually kind of loved this tale, and the more I think about it, the more I love it.

<- The Sawing BoysAshputtle ->

Image source: Goodreads

Last Rites by Louise Cooper

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of dark magic book cover

Title: Last Rites
Author: Louise Cooper
In: The Mammoth Book of Dark Magic (Mike Ashley)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Death, Fantasy, Magic
Dates read: 30th April 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 1994
5th sentence, 74th page: Again the warning gesture, but now the sly humour was back.

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Synopsis

They’re in a world surrounded by chaos. And their leader is about to pass on… who will perform the last rites?

Thoughts

This was a seriously tripped out story. I did enjoy it. But I can’t really remember much of what happened… I suppose many of the more trippy stories that I read are like that though. They have this ethereal quality that makes you feel like you’ve forgotten what you’ve read… even though you only just turned the last page. And it’s kind of suited that a story about chaos does this so well…

I think that this is one short story that I’m going to want to read again and again. It is intriguing and was most certainly enjoyable. But I felt like I was constantly missing things as I went through the story. There were so many symbolic moments interwoven throughout the story and tales of chaos. Moments that may have a little more clarity to them after I read through this story a second time.

Definitely an enjoyable short story. One that I look forward to reading again in the future. It is the kind of story that will intrigue and enthral. The world of chaos and the questions it raises at the end… well, it was really quite intense.

<- The Last WitchThe Eternal Altercation ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

PS I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

Overview
PS, I Love You: The uplifting, heartwarming million-copy bestselling ...

Title: PS I Love You
Author: Cecelia Ahern
Series: PS I Love You #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Chic lit, Contemporary romanceDeath
Dates read: 8th – 29th March 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Harper Collins
Year: 2004
5th sentence, 74th page: Oh, I teach her English.

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Synopsis

Some people wait their whole lives to find their soul mates…

But not Holly and Gerry. Childhood sweethearts, they could finish each other’s sentences. No one could ever imagine them without each other.

When Gerry dies, Holly is devastated. But Gerry has left her a bundle of notes, one for each month of her year, each signed PS, I love you.

As the notes are opened, the man who knows Holly better than anyone teaches her that life goes on. With some help from friends and family, Holly laughs, cries and finds that life is for living – but it helps if there’s someone watching over you.

Thoughts

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. I saw the movie years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. But it was only recently that I realised that it was a book first. Plus, the movie has Gerrard Butler, so I wasn’t optimistic about the books chances of improving drastically on such a great man. But, as I normally end up discovering – this book was better than the movie. And although I didn’t really cry as much as I expected, it certainly helped me to grow a heart and seriously think about my own loved ones.

This story may be a romance, but, for me, it was definitely a lot more about Holly’s family and friends. Yes, throughout the entire tale, she is dealing with grief over losing the love of her life. But mostly she does this with the help from her friends and family. A big family I might add. With some great, distinct personalities that constantly move and clash against each other. I love that although there is such love and support throughout this whole story, it’s not just about that. There is also a lot of conflict and difficulties that they each face. And, the most poignant thing about all of these relationships? That moment when they start to move on before Holly and just how difficult that is… for everyone.

Being in isolation, you tend to think a little more about thinks. And this book certainly makes you do that. I spent most of the time in which I was reading this thinking about what I would do in this situation. How I would deal with knowing that I was terminal. What I would say to my other half. It’s incredibly morbid. But it’s also the sweetest thing – finding a way to help that one person you love above all else actually move on and forwards in life.

This is an amazing book. Nowhere near as sad as I was expecting. Not that it’s an uplifting story either… but it could be much more tragic and scaring. Instead, it’s hopeful. The whole novel ends on a nice, hopeful note that makes you think that death isn’t necessarily the end, just the beginning of something new.

 <- More Cecelia Ahern reviewsPostscript Review ->

Image source: Amazon

A Wife of Acorn, Leaf, and Rain by Dave Smeds

Overview
Image result for sirens and other daemon lovers book cover

Title: A Wife of Acorn, Leaf, and Rain
Author: Dave Smeds
In: Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Death, Fae, Lust
Dates read: 18th March 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: EOS
Year: 1998
5th sentence, 74th page: But your word is enough as far as I’m concerned.

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Synopsis

He misses his wife, and a desperate attempt to get closure has him making a deal with The Outsiders. But will this beautiful doppleganger truly fill that whole in her heart?

Thoughts

I can’t imagine suddenly losing my other half. It’s actually what makes up my greatest fears – waking up one day to find out that he wasn’t part of my life anymore. So this story hit a little too close to home. And it took an interesting approach to getting over one’s grief. Hiring a fae doppelganger to take her place… it felt somewhat creepy.

Yet, as the story unfolded, I actually understood the man’s motivations WAY more than I would have liked. I can imagine wanting just one more moment with that one person that I love more than anybody else. I can understand needing just a few more moments to finally get that closure that you need.

As much as this story kind of started out creepy… it had a great sense of closure at the final conclusion. There was a sense of farewell and moving on that was healing and sweet. A great way to end a story that started out a little uncomfortably…

<- Bird CountTastings ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Overview
Image result for book cover the fault in our stars

Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romanceDeath, Young adult
Dates read: 12th – 14th February 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Penguin Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: Um, Support Group Hazel?

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Synopsis

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

INSIGHTFUL, BOLD, IRREVERENT, AND RAW, The Fault in Our Stars brilliantly explores the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

Thoughts

I knew as soon as I grabbed this book that it was going to be sad. I mean, it was all over the media how tragically beautiful it was a while ago. What I didn’t expect was that I would finish it and feel like my heart could have possibly grown ten sizes. Kind of like the Grinch. It was that moment of painful WOW that I just sat there in shock.

There is a great sense of honesty throughout this story. A lot of stories which talk about illness (let alone cancer), especially in a child talk about how wonderful and accepting the child is. How they’re an inspiration. Ya da ya da ya da. What happens in this story is that there is no sense of god-like hope and wonder to the child. Hazel isn’t always optimistic, but she is brutally honest. And I love this honesty. I’ve been around people with cancer and terminal illness… they’re dying, they don’t have this ray of sunshine all the time and it was so damn nice to read a story that was so freaking honest about that fact.

We all remember our first love. Whether it was the forever love, or puppy love. That first person is special. I love that this is a story about falling in love, even under the worst of circumstances. And then what happens when you lose the one person you love? That was the part I found hardest – imagining either myself or my partner going through the loss of each other. Imagining a world in which that one person you love above all else is gone… and yet, it didn’t feel completely sad. There is a gratefulness to the fact that they got to love one another. Even if it was just for a short period.

Even days after reading the book (I had to take a breath and a pause because of all the feelings)… I still don’t have words for how majestically powerful this story is. It will hit you in the heart, very potently. But not in the way that necessarily leaves you sobbing in the corner. Don’t get me wrong, you will sob. But you’ll also remember all of the wonderful, happy, joyful and loving things in life. It will remind you to live.

<- An Abundance of KatherinesLooking for Alaska ->

Image source: Amazon

Ashes on Her Lips by Edward Bryant

Overview
Image result for sirens and other daemon lovers book cover

Title: Ashes on Her Lips
Author: Edward Bryant
In: Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Death, Romance
Dates read: 10th January 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: EOS
Year: 1998
5th sentence, 74th page: It always did.

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Synopsis

She lost the love of her life. But there’s a way to keep him with her… if she wants to do it.

Thoughts

I can’t imagine what I’d do if I lost the love of my life. Doing this though seems… well, uncomfortably wrong. Like seriously, uncomfortably wrong. But also impossible to stop reading. Kind of like a really horrific accident, you don’t want to see it, but you just can’t stop watching, or in this case, thinking about this.

This story really focuses on the dark side of the tragedy of loss. And gives a dark, twisted way to deal with it. Which is to use the ashes of a dead man… but I won’t explain how, because you just need to read the short story to discover this all for yourself. And be disturbed by the fact.

There is something both creepy and sweet about this story. I’m not entirely sure why I felt that this was so romantic. Normally tales like this would just completely freak me out. But we won’t think on this too deeply. Definitely worth a read this story.

<- WolfedMirrors ->

Image source: Goodreads