Monthly Archives: February 2018

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

I was looking for something to watch and I found the film Me Before You. I started watching it and then searched for it to figure out where it was filmed. When I saw that it was also a book I downloaded it from the library and began reading it instead of watching it.

I really enjoyed it — both the book and the movie — and now I want to read the rest in the series.

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

Confession: I think I am tiring of Moriarty.  I liked this book less than I liked her others.

The Husband’s Secret tells the story of Cecilia who discovers a terrible thing about her husband, Rachel who’s still in mourning for her daughter who was murdered at age 15, decades before the book takes place, and Tessa whose husband and cousin claim they have fallen in love.

This book was not quite as plot-driven as her other books. In this book the mystery is told earlier in the book, rather than later. Instead of leading up to the revelation of the secret, the story is more about the effects of the secret on those involved, whether or not they know the secret.

I think I am going to give Moriarty a rest for a while.

Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill

After telling Andrea, the owner of the bookshop where Clare works, that I really should not buy more books until I read what I already had in the house, she suggested I read Howard’s End is on the Landing which is a book about a woman who spent a year reading only what was in her house. Since there was a copy in the shop, I bought it.

It begins with Susan Hill, the author, looking for a book that she believes is on the landing in her seemingly huge home. She doesn’t find the book right away but realizes she should read or reread nothing but books that live in her house for the next year. A subplot (if you can call it that) is that she wants also compile a list of forty books that she’d take if she could only have forty, to a desert island.

When I began reading the book I didn’t really like it. I felt that the author was a book snob. I also had never heard of her, although she mentioned in the book that she was an author. I remember thinking that she must not be that good since I didn’t know who she was. The further I got into the book the more I disliked the author, although I did end up buying Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals based on Hill’s recommendation.

I stopped reading the book after a while and occasionally picked it up and read a bit here and there, but always put it down again. I didn’t like that I’d not read most of the books she mentioned and had no desire to do so. I didn’t like that authors I thought she should mention were ignored. Granted she is English and I am not, so she mostly talked about books by British authors.

In January I decided to “read from home” this year, not unlike what Susan Hill did in her book. I figured that I should probably finish that book this year too, and maybe send it back to Browsers since it was still in good condition. I’d not planned on keeping it because I didn’t plan on referring to it.

Then I read her chapter that mentioned ghost stories. This was different from the highbrow literary books she’d been going on and on about for the past 103 pages. I looked her up on the Internet and saw that she wrote a book called The Woman in Black so I downloaded it from the library and read it (and liked it!).

After reading The Woman in Black, I felt a little less intimidated by Hill. She wrote a ghost story, for goodness sake. How snobby could she be? (plus she responded to a tweet I sent her)

It didn’t take that long to finish the book after January compared to how long it took to get to page 104. Although I still disagree with Susan Hill on a lot of things  for instance writing in books (she thinks it is perfectly fine and I think it is never okay) or ebooks (she hates them, I quite like them), I ended up really liking the book. Just as I was finishing the book this morning I felt that when Andrea handed me the book fifteen months ago, she handed me an icicle that slowly melted, then warmed in my hands. The last fifty pages or so was like a luxurious bath and I felt that I understood Susan Hill so much more than I did at the beginning.

I am keeping the book and plan on referring to it for reading material often.

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Yes, another Liane Moriarty book because I am an adult and can read what I want [1].

This one was borrowed from the library and read in about 6 days. This one is also plot-driven: Something happens at a barbeque but you don’t find out what until halfway through the book. One thing I forgot to mention in the last write up of a Moriarty book is that her characters are usually very complex. That is definitely true of this book. In fact it is hard to really like any of them, but hard to really dislike them too. The only character I consistently liked was Vid.

After I finished the book this morning, I stood up, adjusted my clothes, stretched and smiled a huge smile. Partly because of the book, but also because I am reading again!

I wonder how many people get the title of the book. I cannot find it anywhere online, but I think, no — I am sure, the title is a play on the film Truly Madly Deeply in which Alan Rickman is a [dead] cellist.

  1. that doesn’t sound defensive at all, does it? []

Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty

When my book group read Big Little Lies a couple years ago I was a little embarrassed how much I enjoyed the book. I even enjoyed the HBO adaptation (and am rewatching it with Dean). Because I’d read Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty books kept being recommended to me but I resisted until last fall when I read Moriarty’s The Last Anniversary.

After that I made sure to check for Moriarty’s books on sale at Amazon on a daily basis and was rewarded on February 4th when it was on sale for $2.99 [1]. I downloaded it and read it within a week.

Moriarty’s books are definitely plot-driven [2]. She often begins  her books with the ending, but just enough of the ending to make you keep reading in order to find out what happened. In Three Wishes she begins the book with a scene at a restaurant in which a pregnant woman is stabbed in the abdomen with a fork by another woman at her table. The book then goes back and tells the story from the beginning. The author throws in the occasional viewpoint of a stranger.

I definitely loved this book and I don’t care that it is not high literature. It was a fun book to read and I plan on reading as many of Liane Moriarty’s books as I can. I already have four or five on hold at the library.

  1. maybe I need to revise my reading challenge to allow for deeply discounted books? []
  2. until a former intellectual-snob neighbor made a derisive remark about plot-driven books, I assumed all books were plot-driven, otherwise why read them? []

The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso

The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso is our next book group book. I usually buy the book right away and then procrastinate reading it, to the detriment of my other reading (gotta finish book group book first!). This time I bought it the day after book group and finished it three days later.

It was a fast read and I got into it right away. The characters were well-developed and the storyline was compelling. I am looking forward to discussing it with my book group.

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot

This was a bookgroup read and a book I’d read at least once before. I actually didn’t finish rereading it in time for book group, but my memory of it was sufficient enough to be able to discuss it the night of bookgroup at Sharon’s house.

As often happens when you reread a book in a different stage of your life, the book felt different to me. I focused on different things in the book than I did as a teenager and young adult — although I can’t put a finger on exactly what I focused on this time.

I’ve already mentioned about my obsession with finding out exactly where the book took place when I read it the first time. I’d been to the general area a few times to visit Jeremy, and wondered if I’d been in the town where James Herriot (pen name for James Wright) practiced. I even fantasized running into him on one of my Yorkshire visits.

I finally finished the book a few months after the bookgroup meeting dedicated to it. I liked it, but not as much as I did the first time ’round.

While I did end up buying this book, I bought it in 2017 and it was on sale for $3.99 for 4 of Herriot’s books on Kindle.

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

I’d never heard of Susan Hill until Andrea, Clare’s boss, told me about Hill’s book Howard’s End is on the Landing [1] when I told her I really should not buy any books from her wonderful bookshop and concentrate on the books I already owned. Of course I bought the book in her hand. How could I not?

I started reading Howards End is on the Landing right away and my first thought was, what an insufferable book snob (the author, not Andrea). I’d never read her work and here she is going on and on about fancy-pants books unlike the kind I like to read. It wasn’t until her chapter on ghost stories that I began to take more notice (although I did buy a book she mentioned in an earlier chapter) and when she mentioned that she’d written a ghost story I looked it up and realized I’d heard of it: The Woman in Black.

The book was available as an ebook at the library so I promptly downloaded it and hesitantly began reading it after reading some reviews stating it was the scariest book some reviewers had ever read.

It was pretty good — a well-written, gothic ghost story, not unlike The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (ohhhh! I see that’s being made into a movie!) which I adored. I didn’t find The Woman in Black very scary at all.

As soon as I finished the book I watched the movie starring Daniel Radcliffe. Very different from the book, completely different ending. I didn’t like the movie very much at all.


  1. which I am still reading []

The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrick Backman

I read this book in a few hours shortly after I discovered the “Libby” app on my phone. I downloaded this book to try the app out and ended up being entranced by it. I read A Man Called Ove, also by Backman a few years ago (and blogged about it), so I was familiar with the author.

But to be honest I barely remember what this book was about — so, as much as I enjoyed it at the time, it doesn’t have staying power for me.

Lassies Reply to the Laddies’ Toast to the Lassies: #metoo version

Our friends, Alison and David, hosted another wonderful Burns’ Supper a few weekends ago and I volunteered to present the Lassies Reply to the Laddies’ Toast to the Lassies. Here it is:

Thank you, Dean, for that poetic and surprisingly woke toast to the Lassies.

I would also like to thank our gracious hosts, David and Alison. You never fail to blow me away with the feasts you provide your guests for the fun events you host.

Full disclosure here, I volunteered to give this reply to the Laddies after a couple glasses of wine. I really need to learn to not volunteer for things after a couple glasses of wine. The last time I had the honor of giving a lassies reply to the laddies toast to the lassies was 7 years ago. If I recall correctly, I replied to Scott’s toast which, as the saying goes, was a tough act to follow.

Before I begin, know that I appreciate each of the laddies in this room.

  • David – I love your sense of humor and have enjoyed being your friend for these past fifteen or so years. Also don’t be mad at me about my reply.
  • Scott – you have such a wealth of knowledge and I always look forward to hearing your stories.
  • Kumar – I don’t see you often, but when I do it is always a joy to talk to you.
  • Peter – I’ve enjoyed watching you grow up into a kind, loving, smart young adult.
  • Brandon – You are extra special to me for so many reasons. I am delighted you are visiting and are a part of tonight’s supper.
  • And Dean – yeah, you’re okay too (actually you’re pretty terrific and I am still glad that 38 years ago you were sitting all alone at that table in that bar when I walked in. With Marcia.)

It’s been a tough year for most of us here. We’ve had to watch as ideologies and values we’d taken for granted – like kindness, common decency, diversity, scientific evidence, etc. were devalued by the laddie who lives in the White House and his groveling sycophantic republican members of congress.

But let’s talk about other laddies:

It’s been a disastrous year for some laddies – not any of the laddies here, you are all true gentlemen. The laddies I mean are those laddies that were publicly called out for sexual harassment, and worse, by some very brave lassies (and a laddie or two).

But I imagine it has been an uncomfortable time for all laddies, even maybe for some of those in this room. Maybe you remembered something you said or did in your youth that could have been construed as harassment – or might be interpreted as harassment today. Or maybe you were just ashamed of your fellow laddies.

When I was thinking about what I would say tonight, and decided its theme would be hashtag metoo, I remembered the many informative Immortal Memory speeches that – usually Laura – has given over the years and it occurred to me (with Andrew’s input) that the laddie we honor tonight, given today’s mores, could be considered a champion sexual harasser – and worse.

So I asked Professor Google and depending on which article you read after searching “Robert Burns Me too“, you will discover that Burns’ was either a possible rapist, a “sex pest,” or simply a “ladies man.”

In a letter Burns that wrote to a friend he describes having his way with Jean Armour, his heavily pregnant (with twins), soon-to-be wife in a manure-filled horse stall. Yet in his poem “The Rights Of Woman” he assures women that he and his buddies are “well-bred men” who were glad that “those Gothic times are fled” “when rough rude man had naughty ways, Would swagger, swear, get drunk, kick up a riot, Nay even thus invade a Lady’s quiet.”

In years past, listening to the Immortal Memory, especially the parts about Robert Burns’ sexual exploits, his illegitimate children, his many affairs, was funny – like a “nudge nudge wink wink” kind of funny. When I thought, this past week, about my reaction those stories, I was ashamed of myself because I was not thinking about the women in the stories – only about the randy laddie.

The articles I read were inconclusive – and as one article so wonderfully put it:

“So what should we make of this? If you’re like me, you have a hunch that the incident described was both painful and degrading. Certainly, if Jean Armour were my friend, I would not hesitate to suggest dumping her boyfriend. But in any case, the jury has been out on Robert Burns for 230 years. Armour, alas, never shall reach out of her grave and carve #MeToo upon her tombstone.”

So now, I don’t know what to think except that I really need to stop dissing Rabbie Burns or I won’t be invited to one of these again.

Thank you. To the Laddies!