The Things We Learn When We’re Dead by Charlie Laidlaw

the things we learn when we're dead

5 out of 5 Stars

*I received a copy of this book from the author. All thoughts and opinions are my own*


The Things We Learn When We’re Dead is about how small decisions can have profound and unintended consequences, but how we can sometimes get a second chance.

On the way home from a dinner party, Lorna Love steps into the path of an oncoming car. When she wakes up she is in what appears to be a hospital – but a hospital in which her nurse looks like a young Sean Connery, she is served wine for supper, and everyone avoids her questions.
It soon transpires that she is in Heaven, or on HVN, because HVN is a lost, dysfunctional spaceship, and God the aging hippy captain. She seems to be there by accident… or does God have a higher purpose after all?
Despite that, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead is neither sci-fi nor fantasy. It is a book about memory and how, if we could remember things slightly differently, would we also be changed?

In HVN, Lorna can at first remember nothing. But as her memories return – some good, some bad – she realises that she has decisions to make and that, maybe, she can find a way back home.

My Thoughts

“The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.”

I am so sorry it took me so long to write this review. I read the book ages ago, but it is so mind blowingly deep that I had to stew on it for a while to try to get my thoughts in order….. which still hasn’t happened because, well hell, this is me! Ha ha!

The complexities of this book as Lorna tries to figure our where she is after waking up on HVN while remembering bits and pieces of her life as everything begins to sort of muddle together,

“Our brains can’t remember everything, that’s the truth of it. A lifetime of memories, that’s what you get, and then you die. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to be. Instead, we’ve been here for many, many lifetimes. Too many memories for one brain, sweetie. So, old memories get erased to make way for the new ones.”

I love this Arthur Conan Doyle way of thinking. Sherlock always believed that we have a finite amount of space in our brains and we should pick and choose what is important to learn and remember. IT MAKES COMPLETE SENSE TO ME!! (And then I know what to blame if I forget something!)

The characters in this book were amazing. The crass, smoking Irene from the quote above, the hippie looking version of “God”, and Trinity, the ships computer who likes to be treated nicely and have you mind your P’s and Q’s,

 “Trinity does like to hear please and thank you,” Irene advised over her shoulder. “It’s not compulsory to be nice but, as you’ll find, if you’re nice to her, she’ll be especially helpful to you. Whenever you see a wall panel with a green triangle on it, you know you’re beside a transporter stop. If you can’t find one, as Trinity. Wherever you are on this facility, you just have to ask. Usually, Trinity will respond.”

“But, not always.”

“No. Not always.”

This book covered SO MUCH!! Like, in heaven, do you just get what you want all the time? Or do you earn it? Isn’t half of the fun of owning something the feeling of accomplishment you get when you finally earn it?? Or, all of the religious wars that have happened in our time, is heaven really a necessary construct to begin with??

“All those lives lived in the shadow of a personal creator and each believing that they’re right and that they alone will find immortality.”

“Without a belief in Heaven, wouldn’t everyone on Earth get along a little better?”

All I can say is READ. THIS. BOOK. 

It’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s confusing, yet thought provoking. I CAN’T WAIT TO READ THE NEXT ONE!!

If this interests you and you think you want to be a part of the tour for Charlie’s second book “The Space between Time” Contact Shannon at Reads & Reels! YOU WON’T REGRET IT!! 

The Things we Learn when We’re Dead is Best Served with a White Wine and Soda

I know. This drink hurt my soul a little. But, it just so happens to be Lorna’s favourite drink! And, my sister says that it is VERY refreshing in the nice weather!!



  • White Wine of choice
  • Club Soda or Soda Water


  1. Fill glass half to 3/4 white wine (as preferred)
  2. Top with Soda
  3. CHEERS!!

94 thoughts on “The Things We Learn When We’re Dead by Charlie Laidlaw

Add yours

  1. Well…of course having just made my return to the blogging world (well sort of anyway 😅) I knew I would be in for probably adding more books, things to watch and all kinds of other things to my to do list that already is infinitely large 😂
    And of course I also know that reading posts from you I’m going to be adding crazy and unique books too…and this one sounds like it perfectly fits into that category😂
    I like the character descriptions ” A hippie version of God huh😂😂😂”. But the premise is one I like too. Memories from my entire life certainly aren’t in my brain (probably a good thing anyway😂), but well…the things that are important tend to sometimes be overshadowed by the things that aren’t (either that or my brain isn’t working properly😂). Either way…as always this post was totally convincing to add it to my to read list, which I will now be doing after I finish this comment….which is erm right now! Thanks for the recommendation😊😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yup. That’s what I tell my sisters when I forget their birthdays! “guess it wasn’t important enough to remember compared to all the other things in my brain!!” …. I don’t tell that that I can quote along with almost the whole movie of “Robin Hood:Men in Tights” (which I haven’t watched in years), or sing all the songs from the movie “Newsies”…. That would just hurt their feelings. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol….I guess some things are better left unspoken. (Like for instance having watched Titanic 9 times in the theatre😅😅…oops…I just said that out loud didn’t I😂😂😂).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. …. That. Is. Sad.
        I honestly don’t think I’ve seen the whole thing even once… Ever. We had it on one time at a friend’s. But, we had it on mute so we could make up our own dialogue to it. 😂


    1. It defintitely was! You know how much of a challenge it is for me to give 5 Stars to something… I mean, that’s the HIGHEST! Basically, if it’s something that really made me think and I could read it again and still get something out of it (which this book ABSOLUTELY did this) then is deserves 5 stars! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟❤️


    1. The book is amazing… Words cannot describe how many different topics it delves into! And to be humorous and fun in top of that?? Charlie Laidlaw really managed it all! ❤️❤️ (the drink I could pass on as well. But, some people like it!! I don’t judge! But, I do like my white wine as white wine! 😉)


      1. Good call!! 👍👍 I still haven’t seen way too many movies because I refuse to see them before I read the book…. But, then I don’t have time to read the book because I’m too busy trying to read books by wonderful, fantabulous indie authors and I don’t have time to read AAA titles that are being made into movies….. It’s a never ending struggle…

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Awww… YOU! If you were Charlie Laidlaw that would make my life SO. MUCH. EASIER! I mean we’ve already got that dat to meet in New Zealand. Then I could just get you to sign all my books! 🤘😂


      2. Ha ha ha!! Kinky. I might like to see that… 🤔 You know you wanna read it! (although, I can’t demand that you push it above the other books that you have on your list because of ME!!) 🙄😂📚📚📚📚📚📚

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hey, I’ve read books over 1000 pages long, and series that are over 20 books… It’s not the attention span. I need to be in the right frame of mind to do sloggy historical sounding books. I read them! And, when I do I usually enjoy them, but they’re not my regular read. 😊😅

        Liked by 1 person

      4. It’s good to be eclectic though isn’t it? I have spates where I do ‘popcorn books’ like Artemis Fowl, and Chris Moore books, then need to do a Sloggy series with history and angst!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. That is an awesome sauce title. Shoot it had me thinking just at that point. I really like the sound of this book and will have to keep it in mind when I’m ready for something heavier.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The great thing is that it’s a pretty light read! It has humour in it, and it’s told in a really easy fashion… Just with some heavy themes thrown in. But, in such an interesting way! It’s not a very dramatic read, just thought provoking!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I really think you would love it!! It’s a fun easy read with some really deep themes! He manages to keep things pretty light, but you get through it thinking “…. Wow. I have some things to contemplate!” Just the sort of book that I LOVE!! ❤️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s tough to read serious when life is happening in general!! If I want serious, I’ll pay attention to the “real world”. I don’t know how you teach. You are a wonder… I could never do it. I dealt with enough kids at my old job and I just thought… Why are you here? Go back to your teachers and parents!! 😂😂😂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol! But… In a good way?? Or in a slogging through the mire way?? 🤔 This one way good because it was so ENTERTAINING AND LIGHT while twisting your brain! I can’t deal with sloggy dense.


      1. Im a really good way, have you read Sidartha? Its by the same author
        Stepenwolf and Glass bead game are his other two famous ones they’re more “Deep” than sidartha.
        Stepenwolf is lighter
        Glass bead game is THICCC not sloggy but it takes time to process.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. When I think of heaven, everyone is in their physically perfect form and there are no clothes. But there is no sin either, so everyone is cool.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Fun fun fun. I don’t mind white wine spritzers when I have a bottle of sweet wine to get through. Lol. I don’t really like sweet wines… unless it’s ice wine… hmm…

    But onto the book. Glad you enjoyed it so much. I liked it but not as much as you clearly did!! Lol. God was definitely my fave!

    Liked by 1 person

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