Saturday, January 31, 2015

North & South Read Along Final Discussion Post

Time to wrap up my thoughts on North and South. Suey's hosting the questions this time around.

I will be watching this soon! Also I stole this pic from Suey's blog

1.  There's much talk about all the deaths in this book. What are your feelings on that? Do you think they were necessary? Or too much?

They were pretty sad but I probably accurate for the time. People didn't live as long back then, especially people who lived in industrial areas.

2. Was there anything that happened during this last part that you found surprising or unexpected? Or was everything very predictable?

I wasn't expecting Mr. Thornton to disappear from the story so much near the end. And I wasn't expecting so much Henry Lennox, either. I had a few moments where I wondered if Mr. Thornton was going to die and she was going to end up with Henry instead.

3. What are your feelings on the about face Margaret and Mr. Thornton have with regard to their financial status?

That was interesting. I'm so used to women being in tough financial positions in these kinds of stories (like Sense & Sensibility) that it was cool to see it reversed. I did wonder if she and Mr. Thornton would have ever sorted things out if she hadn't become his landlady, but I was cool with it.

4. Do you think Margaret is justified in being so anguished over the lie that she told? Does it mostly have to do with her feelings for Mr. Thornton? Or something else?

I thought it was about Mr. Thornton thinking badly of her, especially because she wanted Mr. Bell to fix that for her. I don't know why she didn't just try to fix it herself. Maybe she was afraid he wouldn't believe her.

5. At what moment exactly do you think her feelings for Mr. Thornton completely changed?

I don't think I can pinpoint a specific moment, but it was especially clear after she'd moved from Milton and was still so caught up in having told that lie and the fact that Mr. Thornton would always think badly of her because of it.

6. Discuss the character of Nicholas Higgins. What do you think about the relationship he has with Mr. Thornton? Did he change Mr. Thornton? Did Mr. Thornton change him?

I really liked him. One of my favorite parts was when he took in all those orphan kids and when he and the other workers had their lunch/meal/whatever with Mr. Thornton. It was fun to see how they changed each other - with Higgins realizing that Thornton didn't act the way he did out of malice, and Thornton realizing that Higgins wasn't a bad guy either.

7. How does Mr. Thornton's views on the master/worker relationship change? Or. . .did it change? Did your view on this issue change as you experienced this book?

I think he learned to see workers as people who might have some decent ideas, and not just as a means to an end. It's kind of sad that his business fails after his change in views. But I don't think those two things are supposed to be connected.

8. Do you have a favorite quote from this book? If so, share and let us know why it's your favorite.

There are a lot of good quotes. Since I was so (unnecessarily) suspicious of Fredrick I'll pick one from him:

Thinking has, many a time, made me sad, darling; but doing never did in all my life....My precept is, do something, my sister, do good if you can; but at any rate, do something

9. The ending! Are you happy with how things turned out? (Try not to compare with the movie here... that's for a later question!)

I think it was pretty abrupt and didn't give me much chance to enjoy seeing the characters happy together. But, I wouldn't classify this as a romance. There's a relationship, for sure, but I think the book's much more effective as a look at different ways of living life and understanding who you are in relation to others/society/etc. I think that kind of stuff is interesting and I'm glad it was there. But, unpopular opinion time: the romance was a little disappointing for me.

10. What aspect of this book would you like to address that we haven't yet talked about? Is there something we've skipped over in our discussions that makes you want to say... "Yeah, but what about....?"  And if you've got nothing there, answer this: Did you like the book? Why or why not?

How about that cat roasting? What was up with that? 
Also, I did like the book. I don't think I'd read it again but I'm very excited to see the movie. I hear it really does a nice job with the ending and makes it more romantic. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Review: One of the Guys

One of the Guys
by Lisa Aldin

The Goodreads Summary Says:
Tomboy to the core, Toni Valentine understands guys. She'll take horror movies, monster hunts and burping contests over manicures. So Toni is horrified when she's sent to the Winston Academy for Girls, where she has to wear a skirt and learn to be a lady while the guys move on without her.

Then Toni meets Emma Elizabeth, a girl at school with boy troubles, and she volunteers one of her friends as a pretend date. Word spreads of Toni’s connections with boys, and she discovers that her new wealthy female classmates will pay big money for fake dates. Looking for a way to connect her old best friends with her new life at school, Toni and Emma start up Toni Valentine’s Rent-A-Gent Service.

But the business meets a scandal when Toni falls for one of her friends--the same guy who happens to be the most sought-after date. With everything she's built on the line, Toni has to decide if she wants to save the business and her old life, or let go of being one of the guys for a chance at love.

I Say:
3 stars
A cute debut from Lisa Aldin. I'll be looking for her books in the future.

This is a cute, fun story. Toni is a tomboy who's done everything with her three best guy friends since they were little. But the summer before senior year she feels like they're growing apart. After a prank goes wrong, her parents send her to an all girls' school and her relationship with the guys hits a new low. Toni feels lost until she comes up with a way to combine her new school and her old friends: Rent-a-Gent (loved that name), a service where the girls from her school can rent one of her guy friends for various occasions. The guys make a little extra money, the girls get the perfect poster boy, and Toni gets to hold on to a part of her life she's not willing to let go of yet. At least, that's the plan. There are fun twists and all the hijinks and problems you'd expect with that kind of set up.

I enjoyed the whole idea of Toni's date rental service. There are funny, awkward moments and the book is written in a very readable style. If I had any complaints it would be that the characters and their relationships weren't as developed as I wanted. The girls at Toni's school especially don't stray very far from stereotypes. Even some of the guy BFFs were a little flat for me. They seemed like very different types of people and a little old to be honestly out hunting lake monsters. I would have liked to see more of Toni and the guys during their good times to give the relationship more depth. But otherwise One of the Guys is a quick, light read with a sweet ending that did just what I hoped.

Just So You Know:
I received a free review copy from Spencer Hill via NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion. One of the Guys will be available Tuesday, February 10th.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

North and South Readalong Discussion Post #2

Today Kami has some great discussion questions for the second section of North and South.

I've got to say, people act a little rash here, and violent! and die! And still ignore Margaret's feelings. Even Mr. Thornton thinks he knows Margaret's feelings but is totally wrong. And get it together, Mr. Thornton. That was her brother.

Also, is there a gif anywhere of Mrs. Thornton making a face that says "I do not approve" ? Because I need that in my reading life.

Anywho, on to the questions!

1.    Have your feelings changed towards Mr. Thornton during this section of the book?
Not really? I thought his proposal was really impulsive and jumping the gun there. He seems like a very calculated, think-it-through type of guy so I was surprised he didn't take a little more time to see if his assumption about her feelings was right. 

He's really good to her family, but he's been pretty considerate of them from the beginning.

2.    Have your feelings towards Margaret changed?
I think I'm more sympathetic toward her. She's in a hard spot in her family - essentially she gets stuck trying to take care of everyone else and no one gives much thought to her feelings. And then she lost her friend and her mom fairly close together. I'd imagine she's pretty lonely.

3.    What do you think about the riot and how Margaret and Mr. Thornton reacted?
She totally goaded him to go down there! I think it showed that she didn't know much about that type of situation and didn't assume that it could turn violent. On the other hand it didn't seem like Mr. Thornton even tried to reason with the people or explain himself. They were kind of opposite ends of the spectrum there.

4.    Do you think Boucher's anger and actions were justified?
Actions? No. Anger, possibly. If you think people are holding out on giving you something you think you deserve, I could understand being upset about it.

5.    Did Bess's or Mrs. Hale's deaths affect you in any way?
They were sad. I felt a little cheated that Bess died off the page, and mostly alone. It was sad when Mrs. Hale died but at least all her family was there for it. 

6.    Were you surprised to learn that it wasn't common for women to attend funerals? What are your feelings on that tidbit?
I thought that was so bizarre. But I guess back then they probably didn't preserve bodies in quite the same way that we do today for funerals. Funerals are probably much more sanitized now than they were back then, so maybe they thought it wasn't the kind of thing delicate, fainting-prone ladies could handle. 

7.    Now that we've met Frederick, do you like him? Are you sympathetic to his predicament?
I don't like or dislike him. He has this whole other life in Spain and seems pretty distanced from his family and their day to day problems. It sounds like he has his own problems with the whole mutiny, but I'm still not convinced he's 100% innocent there. And I think involving Henry Lennox could lead to trouble, but maybe that's just me.

8.    What are your feelings on Mr. Thornton's proposal?
Besides that it was impulsive? I thought it was interesting that he didn't talk to her parents first. (Although I don't remember Henry Lennox doing that either). I thought talking to the parents first was a big deal back then, at least if Jane Austen movies are to be believed.

9.    If you were in Mr. Thornton's place, having seen the person you love with a stranger late at night, then finding out that person was questioned by the police and lied, would you do the same thing Mr. Thornton did? Would you protect that person even though you think they have done questionable things?
I don't know. I think Mr. Thornton thought he was doing the best thing for her. I don't really get what all the social consequences would be for her, but it reminded me of wacky sitcoms where big lies and misunderstandings come about because people don't give one crucial piece of information. I wonder if Mr. Thornton would have done anything differently if he'd known Margaret was out with her mutinous brother.

10.  Do you think Margaret's feelings towards Mr. Thornton have changed? Why?
Yeah, I do, especially at the part where her brother describes him much like she did earlier in the book and Margaret doesn't feel like that's quite right any more. I think she respects him more and is getting past the whole idea that he's beneath her just because he's a merchant. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Top 10 Tuesday: 2014 Books I Missed

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Link up here.
Today's topic is 2014 book releases I didn't get a chance to read. And since I had a baby last year that was basically all of them...

Books I have checked out from the library right now:
Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae

My True Love Gave to Me by lots of people

Checked out from the library and didn't read:

Love Letters to the Dead

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

On the hold list at the library:

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

On the Fence by Kasie West

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

What's that? It's mostly contemporary romance? You know me so well, blog.

Which books should I get to ASAP? What did you miss out on last year?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

North and South Read Along Discussion 1

I'm all caught up for the North and South read along. Here were my thoughts on the first 18 chapters. Link up at Jenni's blog.

1. Is this your first time reading this? If so, what do you think so far? If not, are you liking this reread so far?
This is my first time reading the story. It always takes me awhile to get into this style of book - so, so much description and internal thoughts and not quite as much action. But I like it. I like the social commentary especially.

2. Have you seen the BBC mini-series? Is the book anything like you expected it to be?
Nope, I'm completely unfamiliar with the story. I originally thought it would be a Civil War book. I was way off.
Also, I knew Richard Armitage was Mr. Thornton (Kami made sure of that!) and so I thought Mr. Thornton was much older than he seems to be in the story. I have no idea how old RA is but he has an older looking face, so there you go.

3. Why do you think Margaret refused Henry? He seems like such a nice chap.
He did seem nice. I just don't think she thought of him in that way, and didn't want to start. 

4. What are your first impressions of Mr. Thornton?
He's interesting. He seems like an honest person, but I don't really get why he's so interested in Margaret's opinions. (I think I need to suspend my disbelief there.) He talks about the people who work for him like they're kind of dumb and that's just who they are. I like that less about him. 

He's good to his family, though. I really like his mom.

5. Why is Margaret so indifferent to Mr. Thornton, but she can make friends with the Higgins? They are both northern people and have different customs.
I think the Higgins don't challenge her views of people or how she should interact with them - they know their place with her. I think Margaret looks at Mr. Thornton as beneath her and he picks up on it and tries to challenge it. (Also I think she's been a bit of a snot in that regard. Maybe that's why I like Mrs. Thornton so much. She calls out Margaret's attitude)

6. Compare the two moms we've seen in the story.
At first I thought Mrs. Hale was one of those overly delicate, complainy ladies that pop up in these kinds of stories (like Mrs. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice) but around chapter 16 I changed my mind. Mrs. Thornton is a tough lady, and funny. But I think she's also prone to being judgmental. They're both flawed but I like them both.

7. What differences are you seeing so far between the north and the south?
The south seems more slow and laidback, the north more industrial and bustling. But they both think they're the best.

8. Do you think Mr. Hale was justified in leaving the church and his position?
I wasn't really sure why he left. He seemed not to believe anymore, and if that was the case I think he made the most honest choice.

9. What are your feelings on Frederick’s situation?
That's tough. Is it bad that I don't totally believe the mom's version of events? (Maybe I've been reading too many books with treachery!) I feel bad for how hurt the mom is about it. I hope we find out more as the book goes on.

10. What are your thoughts on the master and worker relationship?
They both think so badly of each other, which I suppose still goes on today. It really bothers me that Mr. Thornton seems to think workers are so far beneath him, like they could never become the type of person that he is. Maybe I'm misunderstanding him, though. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Read This: All the Truth That's In Me

All the Truth That's In Me
by Julie Berry

The Goodreads Summary Says:
Four years ago, Judith and her best friend disappeared from their small town of Roswell Station. Two years ago, only Judith returned, permanently mutilated, reviled and ignored by those who were once her friends and family. Unable to speak, Judith lives like a ghost in her own home, silently pouring out her thoughts to the boy who’s owned her heart as long as she can remember—even if he doesn’t know it—her childhood friend, Lucas. But when Roswell Station is attacked, long-buried secrets come to light, and Judith is forced to choose: continue to live in silence, or recover her voice, even if it means changing her world, and the lives around her, forever. This startlingly original novel will shock and disturb you; it will fill you with Judith’s passion and longing; and its mysteries will keep you feverishly turning the pages until the very last.

I Say:
4 stars
This is a great book that hasn't gotten nearly enough attention in the blogging world.

This book is so dark but it's really gripping. It focuses on Judith, a girl living in a Puritanical society who goes missing within days of her good friend, Lottie. Lottie's body is found in the river but Judith returns to the town two years later with her tongue cut out. Instead of being welcomed back she's shunned by everyone. Even her family. Her story is written in second person - Judith's thoughts to Lucas, the neighbor boy she's been in love with her whole life.

I felt bad for Judith! She's treated so terribly throughout the book that any time someone was nice to her I was waiting for a catch. The story is told in fragments and flashbacks, and Judith's voice is really compelling. I had to know what happened to her and Lottie, and that kept me turning pages. But then I would see more pieces of the puzzle and they were really disturbing.

What I enjoyed most was watching Judith learn to reject the terrible treatment and start to go after what she wanted. I thought she had an almost uncomfortable focus on Lucas, though, and her relationship with him was probably the weakest part of the story for me. I would have liked more of it, to make it a little more believable. But the ending was everything I could have wanted, and I liked that the mystery was solved without tying everything up in a neat bow