Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Oct 31, 2017

We finished our annual Harry Potter reading two days before Halloween, and it was a treat from beginning to end (but especially the end). I'm so glad my boys will always link these books with the beginning of school and the anticipation of Halloween. It's so perfect.

This book marks the last HP I read as a teenager before I lost interest, which means that next year's reading of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire will be just as new for me as for my kids. Not that it helped a lot to have read this one before. Basically the only thing I retained was some vague memory of the dementors. I didn't even have any inklings that Sirius Black might not be the criminal and murderer he was made out to be, which means that the discovery of his innocence was just as unexpected for me as for my kids. And what could be better than reading a book a second time and having it be like the first time all over again? (And sorry, I hope I didn't just spoil anything for anyone, but I'm assuming that everyone has already read the books or seen the movies, and if you haven't, then I'm probably not the first one to accidentally reveal key plot lines to you.)

Harry's third year at Hogwarts gets an early kickoff when he lets his temper get the best of him and inflates Aunt Marge. He runs away and fortunately gets picked up by the Knight Bus--fortunate because the infamous Sirius Black, who blew up a street full of Muggles shortly after Harry's parents were killed, has inexplicably escaped from the inescapable Azkaban and is now on the run. There's reason to suspect he's on his way to Hogwarts to finish a job left unfinished twelve years before . . .

The best part of this book for me was learning about the friendship between Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew, and James Potter. You know what it's like to be talking to friends you didn't know until you were all adults and learn about some of their mischievous, or even downright stupid, behavior as teenagers? It's shocking, right? Because here they are, right in front of you, posing as kind, responsible, intelligent adults. It's difficult to juxtapose the two versions of these people onto each other.

That's what it's like finding out that James Potter and his friends created the Marauder's Map, turned themselves into animals, and tried to tragically lure their peer, Severus Snape, to the Whomping Willow. I think by this point, the reader has put James Potter up on a kind of pedestal. We know he was instrumental in fighting against Voldemort and the Dark Arts and that he even nobly sacrificed himself to try to save his wife and Harry. All of these things make us think he was always full of good intentions and high ideals. But knocking him back down to a punk teenager making poor choices with his friends turns him into someone who is much more real for his flaws.

My boys' favorite part, besides the ending, was the Quidditch final. I think they'd read a whole book of nothing but Quidditch matches and commentary if there was one; they love it that much.

We read the last one hundred pages compulsively, as fast as we could, because we had to find out what was going to happen. If you had been a fly on the wall during those final chapters, you would have seen me, reading calmly in the chair, while Aaron, Maxwell, and Bradley paced feverishly around the room. Back and forth, back and forth, around the coffee table, over the couches, by the chair. The suspense was killing them, and they could not contain their energy.

And I don't blame them. If I hadn't been reading, I might have been wearing a path in the carpet right there with them. I loved that the ending this time was less about defeating the bad guy and more about saving Black. It was a nice change of pace.

At the end, Professor Dumbledore gives Harry this bit of wisdom: "Hasn't your experience with the Time-Turner taught you anything, Harry? The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed." And yet, if anything, I think one of the takeaways from this book is that our actions do have consequences, even actions taken many years before, and I have a feeling many of the actions in this book will have consequences in future novels.

A Montage of Family Themed Halloween Costumes

Oct 28, 2017

I think our Halloween costumes are finally ready. And just in time. They've been in the works for months.

We did our first themed costumes back in 2008 when Aaron was just a baby. At the time, I don't think I had any plans to keep up the tradition of family themed costumes. But as our kids have grown up and become more opinionated, they have insisted on keeping a theme. I keep thinking they're going to get too old and not want to match with their parents and siblings anymore, but this was not the year.

In fact, I think they've been more excited about their costumes this year than ever before. And really, although Mike and I ended up doing all the grunt work, these costumes were all their ideas.

But before we get to this year, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at all of the family themed costumes that came before.

First up, and as a special bonus for you, this gem from 2004 when Mike and I were dating: a couple of chefs in that beautiful kitchen in Heritage Halls. I guess this should have been our first clue that we had a thing for themes.

2008: A bee and his beekeepers

2009: Cats . . . a "cougar," a lion, and a cat

2010: Peter Pan . . . Wendy, Smee, Captain Hook, and Peter Pan

2011: Toy Story . . . Buzz Lightyear, Rex, Jessie, Slinky Dog, Woody

2012: Bugs . . . potato bug, bug catcher, spider, butterfly, and bee

2013: Medieval . . . dragon, princess, knight, wizard, jester

2014: Pirates

2015: Wizard of Oz . . . the Great Oz, Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, Dorothy, Toto, and Tin Man

2016: Where's Waldo?

And finally, 2017: Calvin and Hobbes . . . Stupendous Man, Dad, Spaceman Spiff, Calvin, Mom, Snowman, and Hobbes

Which one is your favorite (I'm partial to the Wizard of Oz)? And what are your costumes this year?

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

Oct 20, 2017

One of my reading goals for the year was to read another mystery by Agatha Christie. Of course I saved this goal for October because, as I noted in the most recent episode of the Book Blab, autumn is the absolute best season in which to indulge in a good mystery.

I knew I wanted to read something by Agatha Christie because the two mysteries of hers I'd read previously (And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express) were impressively executed while being extremely engaging. In other words, I was pretty sure going with another Agatha Christie was a safe bet I wouldn't come away feeling disappointed.

But still, which one to choose? Faced with an overwhelming number of possibilities, I did the only sensible thing and sought a recommendation from an expert in the field: my cousin, Erin, who has read every single mystery written by Agatha Christie. I asked for three of her favorites, and she gave me: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Sleeping Murder, and Endless Night, with two runners-up, A Murder is Announced and After the Funeral. Seriously, if you don't have an Agatha Christie guru in your life, I feel sorry for you. 

Out of that now-manageable list, I went with The Murder of Roger Ackroyd because Erin had lavished it with especially high praise and because it cast Hercule Poirot as the detective. 

The mystery is narrated by James Sheppard, a country doctor living in the village of King's Abbot. When Mrs. Ferrars is found dead in her home, he is called in to determine the cause--an apparent suicide. Later that same day, his friend, Roger Ackroyd, insists on speaking with him. 

In the last year, following the death of her husband, Mrs. Ferrars had become quite close to Mr. Ackroyd. In fact, everyone in King's Abbot was sure they'd waste no time getting married after her period of mourning. So of course Dr. Sheppard is not surprised at Mr. Ackroyd's emotional distress. However, it's more than just sadness at her passing. In the privacy of his study, Roger Ackroyd confesses what Mrs. Ferrars had earlier confessed to him: she had poisoned her first husband after enduring awful abuse as his hands for many years. Besides keeping the secret, which has haunted her for the last year, Mrs. Ferrars admitted that one other person knew about her misdeed and had blackmailed her into giving large amounts of money in order to not be exposed. Although Mr. Ackroyd demands to know the identity of this individual, Mrs. Ferrars holds her tongue, saying that she'll tell him in twenty-four hours. Now of course, she's dead, which seemed to be her plan all along. Mr. Ackroyd doesn't know what to do.

Just as this conversation is going on, the butler comes in with the evening post. And there, in her own handwriting, is a letter from Mrs. Ferrars. Mr. Ackroyd knows that it must contain the name of her blackmailer, and he tells Dr. Sheppard that he will fill him in on it after he has read it in private. So Dr. Sheppard returns home, only to receive an anonymous phone call a couple of hours later saying that Roger Ackroyd is dead. 

It's obvious that Mr. Ackroyd's murderer must be the same person as Mrs. Ferrars' blackmailer. It's just too much of a coincidence otherwise that he would be holding the implicating letter in his hands that very night, right? 

Or maybe not. Because, as it goes with mysteries, as soon as one person's secret is out, it seems to have a domino effect on everyone else's secrets, and, it turns out, everyone (the butler, housekeeper, maid, stepson, sister-in-law, niece, secretary, friend) has a secret, whether it's actually connected with the murder or not. 

It's up to Hercule Poirot, who has just "retired" next door to Dr. Sheppard, to connect the clues. I tried my best to keep up with him, making my own guesses along the way, but the ending still caught me by total surprise. (I will say, without giving anything away, that the murderer was the person I originally suspected but had given up as totally impossible early on. Still, even thinking it at one point made me feel like a winner (although it probably shouldn't have since Agatha Christie does her best to make you suspect every single person at one point or another).)

This novel reminded me why I love mysteries and also why I don't read them very often. I finished listening to it right before bed one night, which was probably the worst idea ever. Not only was my head spinning after the grand reveal (which made me insist that Mike read it as soon as possible so I'd have someone to discuss it with), but I was also just a bit terrified. There's something about becoming so invested in another person's death, albeit fictional, that just leaves you feeling a bit off. 

But I can't deny that I was super interested the entire time and felt this heightened sense of observation and suspicion that gave me something of a reader's high. It was pretty thrilling to watch it all unfold, and I think it would be equally thrilling to go back and reread the whole thing knowing now how it ends.

I'd love to hear your take on mysteries. Do you like them? And, if so, tell me some of your favorites!

The Book Blab Episode 15: The Joys and Sorrows of Book Recommendations Plus Two Books for Fall Reading

Oct 17, 2017

It's been a few months since Suzanne and I last chatted, but I think you'll find this episode was worth the wait. We had a great time talking about allllllllllllll the emotions that go with both giving and receiving book recommendations. This was actually a topic suggested by one of our readers/viewers (thanks, Beth!), and we know we can't be the only ones who have awkward stories of book recommendations gone awry. We'd love for you to share your own experiences in the comments, as well as any book recommendations YOU have for US. Also, if you have any ideas for future topics of discussion, we'd love to hear those, too.

0:20 - Suzanne's new PhD program
1:35 - Today's topic: the perilous territory of making and receiving book recommendations
2:30 - Personal experiences with bad book recommendations
  • 3:00 - Suzanne's experience
  • 5:20 - Amy's experience
7:25 - How to handle a book recommendation that you didn't like
10:28 - The joy that comes from getting a good recommendation

  • 11:10 - Suzanne's experience
  • 11:50 - Amy's experience
13:25 - The anxiety of giving a book recommendation (but we love making recommendations anyway!)
15:40 - Suzanne's book recommendation gone wrong
18:20 - The times we've forced a book on someone, and it's gone over well
  • 19:00 - Amy's experience
  • 20:05 - Suzanne's experience
20:53 - The moral of this discussion
22:40 - Two seasonally appropriate reads for October
  • 23:30 - Suzanne's reccomendation
  • 24:50 - Amy's recommendation
28:08 - Conclusion

Books and links mentioned in the show:

Suzanne's recent post about time: Never Enough Time
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones (Amy's review)
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (Suzanne's review) (PSA: there's currently a killer deal on the Kindle edition)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (Suzanne's review // Amy's review)
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (Suzanne's review // Episode 6 of The Book Blab)
A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman (Amy's review)
The God Who Weeps by Terryl and Fiona Givens (Suzanne's review)
Dracula by Bra Stoker (Suzanne's review

A Little of This and That in September

Oct 14, 2017

September was a beautiful and busy month. Highlights included . . .

Kicking . . . off the month with a vacation in Ohio. Although maybe not your typical getaway
destination (but when you have family and a work class there, it gets elevated in importance), we found many, many things to love. From the apple orchards to Graeter's ice cream to an amazing book store in German village, we enjoyed every minute. (It also helped that we only brought the baby and left the rest of our kids with my mom, so it truly was a vacation.) We especially loved spending time with Mike's brother and his wife and darling little girl. They were so nice to host us and give us the Columbus tour.

Visiting . . . Kirtland. As part of our trip, we gave Mike's brother a break from us and drove up to Kirtland, home of many sites which hold special significance in our church. We were able to take our time and go on a bunch of tours (because, remember, no kids except for a perfect baby), and I was amazed at the incredible faith, sacrifice, and resiliency of these early members of the Church. On our drive back to Columbus, we passed through Amish country, which was lovely (except that we were driving for part of the time after dark, and I was terrified we were going to hit a buggy as we crested each hill at 60 mph).

Putting . . . the chili lime seasoning from Trader Joe's on everything. Zucchini, eggs, pasta, squash. Yum, yum, yum.

Training . . . Ian to sleep through the night. After our Ohio trip, and with the pediatrician's approval, we decided it was time to see if Ian could cut down on his middle of the night snacks. It was rough the first night (as it always is), but after that it's been pretty smooth (except that he also learned how to roll over this month, and so he sometimes wakes himself up doing that).

Regretting . . . my decision to not put Clark in preschool. All summer, I thought I had a preschool co-op all lined up, but then it didn't pan out quite the way I was hoping/expecting. The other moms all just wanted one morning a week. That suits me just fine on the weeks when it's my turn to teach, but really, Clark wants more than one day. He asks me every day if he gets to go to preschool, and it seems like an eternity to him in between Wednesdays (especially if, heaven forbid, it has to be cancelled until the next week). I really don't think three-year-olds need to go to preschool, but I think this three-year-old would have really loved it.

Buying . . . a zoo membership. It's been probably two years since we've had one (one can only go to the zoo so many times in a year without getting completely sick of it). But we went to the Columbus zoo while we were in Ohio, and being there with Ian made me realize that this was going to be a good year for it (with Bradley in half-day kindergarten, Clark in preschool only one morning a week, and Ian getting bigger and more observant every day), so we took the plunge and got one again.

Recognizing . . . the alphabet. One of Clark's summer goals was to learn the letters of the alphabet, and, after working on them with him for three solid months and seeing virtually no progress, I thought, Hmmmm, maybe he's not on the same academic trajectory as my other kids. And then, just as I was reminding myself that every child is different, with different strengths and gifts, yada yada yada, all of a sudden, the switch flipped, and he was ready to learn--in fact, was begging to learn. Now he seeks out opportunities to identify letters and sees them everywhere. It's really exciting. And the switch that made it happen? Letter Factory (cue hands over eyes).  

Anticipating . . . the arrival of a new baby. My brother and his wife just welcomed their first baby over the weekend, and so a few weeks ago, my mom, my sisters, and I took Meagan out for lunch and presents and lots of girl talk. So fun.

Loving . . . Maxwell's teacher, liking Bradley's teacher, and still deciding about Aaron's teacher. About that last one--we're trying to keep an open mind (and I avoid talking about my grievances in front of Aaron), but I can't help thinking his teacher would be better suited to teaching college kids instead of fourth graders. My main concern (and it's actually a pretty big one) is that he'll come away from this year hating school. That would be kind of a bummer.

Eating . . . the most delicious food at our Great British Baking Show Season Four finale date with our dear (and equally obsessed) friends. We learned our lesson when we had a similar date last year, and this time we brought a salad to cut through all the carbs from puff pastries and fougasse and sausage rolls and Viennese whirls (yes, everything was as good as it sounds). I love that show so much.

Listening . . . to an Agatha Christie mystery and the Lazy Genius podcast. The mystery was well done (but I wish I hadn't finished it right before bed), and the podcast is surprisingly helpful for being about fairly common sense stuff.

Celebrating . . . the newest six-year-old on the block. Bradley had been counting down the days (months, really) until his birthday, and it did not disappoint. He had a Lego cake, saw the new Lego Ninjago movie, and received a Snap Circuits set (which actually, all of the boys (including Mike) have been enjoying).

Hiring . . . someone to fertilize our lawn and spray for weeds. About midway through the summer, as our front lawn was slowly being overtaken by clover and our back lawn was getting thinner and thinner, Mike decided to just hire a lawn care company to do the fertilizing and weed control for us. And it's been awesome. We no longer have to think about when we should do it or what we should put on it. They just show up every month or so and know exactly what it needs. And we're already seeing positive results, which is making me so happy.

Cheering . . . on Aaron, Maxwell, and Bradley at soccer games. So. many. soccer. games. Mike and I are both relieved soccer season is over.

Finding . . . my hair everywhere. Sorry if this grosses you out, but every time I hit three months postpartum, my hair starts falling out. And it drives me crazy. I'm just hoping it lets up soon and that I'm not bald by the end of it. Anyone else have this problem after having a baby?

Getting . . . festive with Christmas in September. Mike's parents were visiting from Germany and won't be back until next March, so they distributed presents a few months early. My kids thought it was the best thing ever. And of course, in addition to the presents, Mike's dad did a giveaway filled with unique and unusual items scored at the German flea market, including an accordion (which thankfully found a different home than ours).

Knitting . . . and planning new projects and buying new yarn. A recap of this month would not be complete without giving you a knitting update. I made myself a new hat out of the dreamiest yarn ever (which my mom saw and promptly claimed for herself), and I started a cardigan for myself. I also signed up for a class at my local yarn shop. It begins this week, and I am just so excited for it.

Planning . . . out our Halloween costumes. Stay tuned!

Now tell me about YOUR September!

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Oct 10, 2017

I've always been a little wary of James and the Giant Peach. When I was still quite young, maybe six or seven, my mom read it aloud to me. She disliked it so much that she swore off Roald Dahl forever after, and I didn't read another Dahl novel during the rest of my childhood. (As a side note and in my mom's defense, she didn't ban any of my siblings and me from reading Dahl--in fact, we owned The BFG and maybe Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, too--but she certainly didn't encourage us.)

As an adult, I decided it was time to give him another try. I think I started with The Witches (loved it), then moved onto Matilda (loved it), followed by The BFG, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Danny the Champion of the World. I loved all of them. But always, I avoided James and the Giant Peach.

Finally though, I decided it was time. My love for Roald Dahl was secure, and I felt like I could handle a high level of weirdness. (Plus, we were running out of new Dahl novels to read aloud.)

I stepped cautiously into the first sentence: "Here is James Trotter when he was about four years old." It wasn't scary at all. I moved onto the next one: "Up until this time, he had had a happy life, living peacefully with his mother and father in a beautiful house beside the sea." That didn't seem bad either. In fact, I was already deeply intrigued.

With growing confidence, I finished the first chapter--all about how James' parents were tragically eaten up by an angry rhinoceros, and he was sent to live with his despicable Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker who never let him do anything except chop wood.

It was weird and bizarre and slightly morbid . . . exactly what I'd come to expect and love from Roald Dahl.

We flew through the rest of the story: James meets an old man. The old man gives James a white paper bag with little green things in it. James trips on his way home. The green things go flying. The green things wriggle into the ground. The next day, a peach is growing to ginormous proportions. James goes inside the giant peach. The peach breaks off the tree. The peach rolls down the hill and over the two horrible aunts. James is off on an adventure with a handful of giant bugs.

The giant bugs were immediately endearing to my kids (have the words "giant bugs" and "endearing" ever been used in the same sentence before?), who have a soft spot for all things creepy crawly, and even though I'm not as much of a bug lover, their personalities were all so unique (and I got to do fun voices) that I loved them, too.

I'm glad I was finally brave enough to revisit this book. I didn't dislike it. I wasn't weirded out by it. I actually loved it. So I guess the thing I took away from it is that my mom and I have different senses of humor and different tastes in books. And that's something I can totally appreciate and respect.

Do you have a favorite Roald Dahl novel? Or are you like my mom and would rather avoid him?

Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls

Oct 5, 2017

Summer was made for reading, and this book was made for summer. Out of everything we read over the break, this one was our favorite.

Jay Berry Lee has always dreamed of owning his own horse and gun, but his chances of getting either are pretty slim; the farm he lives on with his mother, father, and sister just barely makes enough for them to live on. But then one day, he thinks he sees a monkey in the bottoms by his home, which seems crazy given that this is Missouri, but his grandpa confirms that it's true. A large group of monkeys escaped from a traveling circus, and the owners are offering a big reward to anyone who can capture and safely return them: two dollars for each monkey and one hundred dollars for the chimpanzee.

Suddenly, Jay Berry's dream of a horse and gun doesn't seem so outlandish at all. He expects to pocket the money within the week, but he doesn't take into account the intelligence of those monkeys, and time after time, they outsmart him and send him crawling shamefaced back to his grandpa for another idea.

Ever optimistic and persistent, Jay Berry's grandpa is a fountain of good ideas: "If this doesn't work, we'll try something else." Their relationship is sweet and funny and respectful. He's exactly the kind of role model and mentor you'd want for your child--doesn't take life too seriously while still being honest and hard working and encouraging. At one point, Jay Berry says, "Grandpa, we sure have a lot of fun together, don't we?" And Grandpa smiles and replies, "We surely do. You know, an old man like me can teach a young boy like you all the good things in life. But it takes a young boy like you to teach an old man like me to appreciate all the good things in life. I guess that's what life's all about." Seeing the way they interacted with each other was one of my favorite parts of the story.

Several weeks into the monkey hunting adventure, Jay Berry and his family find what looks like a fairy ring. They decide not to let it go to waste, and each one takes a turn stepping inside it and making a wish. Afterwards, Jay Berry asks his papa if he thinks those wishes will come true, and he says,
"Son, that's a pretty hard question to answer. But I do believe that any wish you make can come true if you help the wish. I don't think that the Lord meant for our lives to be so simple and easy that every time we wanted something, all we had to do was wish for it and we'd get it. I don't believe that at all. If that were true, there would be a lot of lazy people in this old world. No one would be working. Everyone would be wishing for what they needed or wanted."

And you definitely see that idea in action during the course of the story. Jay Berry is persistent and determined, and he doesn't let his failures get him down. 

I've thought often about what makes a five-star book for me, and quite often, it's very arbitrary--does it make me feel like a five-star book should make me feel? But at least one criterion I have is whether or not the ending matches the rest of the story because I can't tell you how many books I've read where I love the whole book, and then the ending completely ruins it.

But you don't need to worry about that happening with this book. If making me cry is any indicator, then Wilson Rawls nailed the ending. I won't spoil anything here, but I will leave you with this shining moment:
"'Son . . . You grew ten feet tall today. I'm proud of you. I'd like to shake your hand.'
"I shook hands with Papa for the first time in my life. It felt like all his strength came right up my arm and spread through my body."
So I guess this was a five-star book.

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

Oct 2, 2017

Nothing gets me in an October mood faster than a good Gothic mystery. Only, I didn't read this book in October but in the height (and heat) of summer.

Even though it had been on my to-read list for years, it wasn't my choice to read this book when I did. Naturally, I would have waited until autumn, the appropriate season in which to read it. But a friend in my neighborhood read it and then offered to lend me her copy, and since it was something I actually wanted to read at some future point, I agreed.

But I've discovered that I actually really dislike borrowing books from people for three reasons: 1) it forces me to read the book right then (or makes me feel guilty if I don't), and I like reading books on my own timetable (unless it's for book club) 2) if I don't end up liking the book, then I stress about what I'll say when they ask me what I thought about it, and 3) I spend the whole time worrying that I'm going to bend or scuff up or damage their book in some way.

Basically, I can't handle the pressure that comes with borrowing a book. I know people lend books to be nice, but give me the library and its hold lists and due dates and sturdy copies any day.

It actually felt a little wrong to read such a deliciously creepy and suspenseful read while the air conditioner was blowing and the sun was shining. I would have like to hide under a blanket, but it was too warm for that.

Philip Ashley leads a solitary life with his cousin (and guardian), Ambrose Ashley. Both bachelors, they understand each other perfectly and couldn't be more content. Because of ill health, Ambrose leaves the estate for Italy during the winter months. There, he meets the irrepressible Rachel and marries her, much to Philip's dismay. He knows having a woman around will disrupt the peaceful symmetry of their lives and holds a grudge against Rachel before he even meets her. He anticipates their return to England with dread, but it never happens. Ambrose gets violently ill and dies suddenly, but not before sending a couple of cryptic letters home that leave Philip very suspicious of Rachel.

Within a few weeks, Rachel makes her way to the estate with Ambrose's belongings. Philip is determined to show as little hospitality as possible, but then Rachel turns out to be just so darn likeable. In fact, it only takes a couple of days before he can see exactly why Ambrose wanted to marry her. And yet, how can he reconcile this picture of Rachel with the one he'd already conjured up?

Daphne du Maurier weaves a masterful tale that kept me guessing the entire time. One minute I loved Rachel, and then the next, I hated her, and always always the lingering question of whether or not to trust her. But it turns out that reading almost 400 pages with that heightened suspicion is actually rather exhausting, and my enthusiasm ran out well before the end of the story.

Plus, I rather detested Philip. He was rude, incredibly awkward, and just plain witless. By the end, I didn't care what happened to him, just so long as I didn't have to read about him anymore. I loved the writing in this one just as much as Rebecca, but Philip as the main character couldn't hold a candle to Mrs. de Winter, and so ultimately the story fell a little flat for me.
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