When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

whenbreathbecomesair_0When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Published by Random House on January 12, 2016
Genres: [Adult] Nonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir
Pages: 208
Format: Hardcover –> eBook
Source: Purchased –> Borrowed

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5 Stars, Completed January 8, 2017

– SPOILER free –

When Breath Becomes Air shares the story of Paul Kalanithi, an exceptional and gifted neurosurgeon that found his life upended while in his last year of residency when signs of illness started to appear. After medical tests, it was discovered that he, in fact, had stage IV metastatic lung cancer. With his life no different from a ticking clock, he began to ask questions that would confront his mortality. What should he do with the remaining time he has left? Should he return to neurosurgery, or should he write? Should he and his wife, Lucy, have children? In this memoir, Kalanithi answers these questions (and provides responses to many more) by taking readers along his trek of leading a life as (some days) a doctor, (most days) a patient, and (everyday) a human desperate to stay alive.

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Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

me-before-you-book-cover-jan-12-p122-1Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Series: Me Before You #1 (1/2)
Published by Viking on December 31, 2012
Genres: [Adult] Contemporary, Chick Lit, Romance
Pages: 369
Format: Audiobook –> Paperback
Source: Audible –> Purchased

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4 Stars, Completed January 21, 2016

– to avoid major SPOILERS read bold text only –

Spending my last day as a teenager crying in the corner as I finished this wasn’t quite ideal. I was sporting the unbelievably puffy panda eyes look on my 20th birthday (which proved to not be that photogenic). But, more importantly, I hadn’t anticipated that I’d become a volunteer publicist for Me Before You. This happened because I was trying to explain to people the cause of my late night distress as well as convince them to read this moving story. Nevertheless, I am so glad I chose to read this British novel because beyond the emotional ride was a touching and enlightening story.

“You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”

Lou Clark has led an ordinary and uneventful life until the moment she loses her job at the tea shop. From there, she seeks new work and she stumbles upon the opportunity of taking care of young, handsome and successful Will Traynor, who has become a quadriplegic after a recent motorcycle accident. Little does she know that this job, though sometimes unpleasant but often times rewarding, will forever change her view on life and how she plans to live it.

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The Vegetarian by Han Kang

71GD5hIAmOLThe Vegetarian by Han Kang
Published by Hogarth on February 2, 2016
Genres: [Adult] Contemporary, Literary Fiction
Pages: 188
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley

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2 Stars, Completed March 20, 2016

– to avoid SPOILERS read the bold only –

A long bamboo stick strung with great blood-red gashes of meat, blood still dripping down. Try to push past but the meat, there’s no end to the meat, and no exit. Blood in my mouth, blood-soaked clothes sucked to my skin. 

I put this review off for the longest because, honestly, when I finished the book I never wanted to revisit it again. Dark, disturbing, and depressing would be how I’d describe Han Kang’s The Vegetarian in three words.

The Vegetarian is a split narrative between three characters related to the protagonist, Yeong-hye: her husband, brother-in-law, and sister. Yeong-hye’s husband’s perspective is straightforward and the most fast paced; her brother-in-law’s is disturbing and beyond creepy; and her sister’s is the only one told in the present tense and rather confusing. However, all three are allegorical reflections that allow readers to gain further insight on Yeong-hye’s behavior after an unsettling series of dreams she has that causes her to go vegan-not vegetarian (the translated title is misleading)-and how her family and Korean society reacts toward her drastic, manic changes.

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Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Eligible-Curtis-Sittenfeld-April-19Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
Series: The Austen Project #4 (4/?)
Published by Random House on April 19, 2016
Genres: [Adult] Contemporary, Retelling
Pages: 492
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley

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3.5 Stars, Completed May 20, 2016

– SPOILER free –

My all time favorite classic (well tied with East of Eden) is Pride and Prejudice. I’ve rewatched the  2005 Keira Knightley film adaptation at least over a hundred times (no exaggeration-I’ve made my father, friends, and even acquaintances watch it with me). Don’t worry, I also adore the 1995 Jennifer Ehle BBC series (because, oh my, Colin Firth and his soaked shirt). And I’ve read all but one of Jane Austen’s work (I’ve can’t get through Emma for some reason). It may be obvious but I am one of Austen’s many superfans. Needless to say, I had extremely high expectations for this modern retelling and, thankfully, Eligible did an incredible job with satisfying those hopes (for the most part).

Eligible begins with Chip Bingley, Harvard graduate and practicing physician, as the talk of the town in the city of Cincinnati after folks learn that Chip will soon join the staff at Christ Hospital. He was the most recent bachelor on the reality TV show, “Eligible” (very similar to The Bachelor), but ended up choosing neither of the last two remaining women, meaning in Mrs. Bennet’s book he’s available for one of her girls. Also moving to Cincy for work is Chip’s best friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Stanford graduate and a neurosurgeon positioned at the stroke center. Jane Bennet is a sweet yoga instructor about to reach forty, and her younger sister, Liz Bennet, is a writer for the prominent feminist magazine, Mascara. Like Pride and Prejudice, Liz and Darcy find themselves involved in an unexpected romance despite their unfavorable first impressions. To find happiness together Darcy must move past his pride and Liz her prejudice.

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A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows9780765376497 by V.E. Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic #2 (2/3)
Published by Tor on February 23, 2016
Genres: [Adult] Fantasy
Pages: 509
Format: Paperback, ARC
Source: Publisher

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5 Stars, Completed February 24, 2015

– read the bold text to avoid SPOILERS –

Alright, it’s official. Victoria Schwab has earned her place among my top tier must-buy-new-releases-immediately authors. I enjoyed A Darker Shade of Magic when I buddy read it mid-2015, but I was still hesitant to claim Schwab as a favorite-precisely because I had only read one book of hers and there were small flaws I couldn’t overlook in ADSoM. But, after this thrilling sequel, it’s been confirmed.

[I don’t normally do this before my reviews to sequels, but in case you haven’t read my review of A Darker Shade of MagicYou can go here. I’m extremely proud of it. (I really believe it was the primary reason why I got an ARC of A Gathering of Shadows and it was a post that literally prompted weeks of writing/deleting drafts before I could gather my thoughts. (Did you see what I did there? “Gather my thoughts”… A Gathering of Shadows…)]

A Gathering of Shadows takes place four months after the events of A Darker Shade of Magic. Red London is still dealing with the repercussions after the fateful Black Night. However, this doesn’t deter all from preparing for the Element Games, an international tournament between the strongest magicians held to strengthen political ties and entertain the populace. Meanwhile, White London seems to be in a weary disarray after the Dane twins’ deaths. Grey London is experiencing an unforeseen pandemonium and is missing a certain female aspiring pirate. And Black London is stirring. With the rise of the latter London, the balance has been tipped and another London must fall.

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A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

littlelifeA Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Published by Doubleday on March 10, 2015
Genres: [Adult] Literary Fiction, Contemporary
Pages: 720
Format: Audiobook –> Hardcover
Source: Audible –> Purchased

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5 Stars, Completed January 13, 2016

– SPOILER free  –

How do I even begin?

If you’ve read other reviews where readers said they enjoyed this book those reviewers are absolutely mad. This book intrigued, consumed, impressed, stunned, humbled, and perhaps even destroyed me, but it’s a stretch to say that I enjoyed it. A Little Life is the most depressingly bleak and disturbing book I have ever read. It’s one that leaves you at a loss for words, makes you sit there for a while thinking about what you’ve just read, and stimulates you to cry upon your awareness that this book, though fiction, has very real, nonfiction themes attached to it.

I just made a t-shirt using this graphic created by @littlelifebook. Source.

I made a shirt using this graphic by @littlelifebook. (I’ll be sharing photos of it on my Instagram soon!) Source.

#ALLbookswag + 📚. Download the art from the link in our profile and make your own swag. #alittlelifebook

A post shared by A Little Life: A Novel (@alittlelifebook) on

Edit 7/7/17: I forgot to edit in the picture of my shirt! So here it is. Oh and the official A Little Life Instagram actually reposted my photo on their account. 🙂

Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life is an alternating present and past reflection of the lives of four friends that graduate from a prestigious New England college from their mid-twenties into their fifties. There is handsome Willem, a struggling actor hoping to make it big someday; JB, a confident and sometimes callous painter wanting entry to the distinctive art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a recognized firm; and brilliant, enigmatic Jude, a talented litigator only intimidating in court. Each yearn for their breakthrough into society and discovery of their place in life. It seems that early on, Jude is the only one that has settled into a successful, adult lifestyle. It’s also evident that he’s the centerpiece that anchors their friendship, but as the readers read and our cast ages, readers learn how Jude increasingly becomes a broken man unable to overcome the unspeakable trauma his mind and body has endured. Will love and friendship heal him or will he forever be haunted by these scars and demons of the past?

I could spend days discussing this book and it’s heartbreakingly beautiful qualities, from the quintessential flawed characters, captivating  writing, LGBTQ+ and ethnic diversity mentions, tasteful musical and art influences, to the New York City backdrop, but all of this would be meaningless to go into detail unless you’ve read this yourself. (Please message me if you have and would like to discuss it. I need a friend to vent my fictional woes!) So instead I’d like to focus on the key points that made this book so meaningful to me.

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The Fairy Wren by Ashley Capes

516dghGor3L._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_The Fairy Wren by Ashley Capes
Published by Close-Up Books on October 31, 2014
Genres: [Adult] Fantasy
Pages: 238
Format: DRC
Source: Author

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3.5 Stars, Completed October 17, 2015

– SPOILER free –

Not only have I been in an awful reading slump for the past few weeks but also a reviewing/blogging slump as well. This was the last book I was able to read before I fell into that strange non-reading period, and I’m so glad that during my time away I finally found the words to describe how I felt about The Fairy Wren.

This book begins with the readers meeting Paul Fischer, a guy who just can’t seem to catch a break. His bookshop is doing poorly, his wife has left him, and on top of all things he meets a preteen, Nepali runaway, has a shady friend struggling with his own problems and needs Paul’s help, and notices a blue, magic wren suspiciously following him. Throughout the story, it seems like questions are only followed by even more questions and uncertainties.

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A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade final for IreneA Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic #1 (1/3)
Published by Tor on February 24, 2015
Genres: [Adult] Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed
Buddy Read With: Carolyn at A Hundred Thousand Stories

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4 Stars, Completed August 18, 2015

– read the bold text to avoid SPOILERS –

Okay. I’m not sure why it took me two months to gather my thoughts to write this book review, but it did. With a lot of time to contemplate on how I should appropriately start this, I can now easily say that this book is

For the ones that dream of stranger worlds.

A Darker Shade of Magic opens up a world where readers learn of four Londons, where Kell, an Antari and one of the last Travelers, is a rare magician that is able to travel across these parallel universes. He’s also the adopted Prince of Red London and an ambassador that helps the rulers of each London keep in contact. The people from each kingdom admire but also fear Kell for the rarity and power of his race. What his royal family does not know is that he’s also a smuggler off the clock. But then his dangerous hobby leads him to an accidental treason and he flees to Grey London, where he meets Delilah “Lila” Bard, a stealthy and sharp-tongued thief and wannabe pirate that is addicted to risk and adventure. At first she steals from him but ends up later saving his life, and they decide to embark on a dangerous journey to save the Londons but first they must stay alive.

So Kell-inspired by the lost city known to all as Black London-had given each remaining capital a color.
Grey for the magic-less city.
Red, for the healthy empire.
White, for the starving world.

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Rome in Love by Anita Hughes

rome in loveRome in Love by Anita Hughes
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on August 4, 2015
Genres: [Adult] Contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback, ARC
Source: Publisher

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3 Stars, Completed August 1, 2015

– SPOILER free –

I think it was an advantage that prior to Rome in Love I had no background knowledge on Audrey Hepburn* except that she’s an iconic actress that has influenced and inspired many people. It was also nice to read this not having watched Roman Holiday. I was able to dive in with a fresh mind with no particular expectations.

Rome in Love is a story of a young actress, resembling Audrey Hepburn named Amelia, that takes on the role of Princess Ann in the remake of Roman Holiday. In Rome while shooting the film, Amelia meets a real princess, Sophie. Sophie is in Rome taking time off from her royal duties, and she seems to truly be reliving a “Roman Holiday.” Amelia is having a blast exploring her new self as an actress and visiting the diverse Italian venues with Sophie, but then her boyfriend of three years decides to break up with her over her acting career. Along the way, she also happens to meet Philip, an American journalist that is keeping a few secrets of his own, and is under the impression Amelia is a hotel maid. Misunderstandings arise and Amelia’s left with tough decisions about love, friendship, and the acting profession. Just in time, she finds Audrey Hepburn’s secret letters in the very same hotel room Audrey stayed in over half a century ago; and Audrey’s evident intellect and wisdom shows through the yellowed letters guiding Amelia through the struggles she’ll have to face.

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The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly by Matt McCarthy

120904.pngThe Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year by Matt McCarthy
Published by Crown on April 7, 2015
Genres: [Adult] Nonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir
Pages: 324
Format: Hardcover
Source: Blogging For Books

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5 Stars, Completed June 7, 2015

– SPOILER free – 

“You do not want to be the physician who assumed the patient was sleeping,” the instructor had told us, “when in fact he was dead.”

The quote above is one of the many words of wisdom and advice Dr. Matt McCarthy learned as a first year intern at Columbia hospital, and it perfectly illustrates the pressure health care professionals have to deal with every day.

In this frank memoir, The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly, Dr. McCarthy beautifully writes about the brutal truths behind the field of medicine and a physician’s infallibility, but somehow manages to do so with humor through interspersed comedic relief. In less than 100 pages into the book, readers learn that on his journey towards becoming a “good physician,” Dr. McCarthy stitches a banana peel, has feces-stained scrubs thrown at his face, and witnesses a patient almost die his first night interning in the cardiac care unit.

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