Saturday, January 31, 2015

North and South Read Along: Final Discussion

I can't believe we've come to the end of this read along! It's been a blast, has it not? Thanks to everyone who has participated and discussed and shared feelings and had fun with us! You've been awesome. :)

We have two more events before it's over. The Twitter chat will be tomorrow, Sunday, at 6:00 pm Mountain time. We've realized this past week that it will fall right in the middle of the Super Bowl. We're hoping that most of you won't mind. And that if you are a football fan, you can maybe do both! Chat while watching! So, we'll go ahead with this time and hopefully you can all join us. Follow #NorthSouthRAL. Be sure to check that out even when we aren't tweeting... we've had some pretty fun impromptu in between chat discussions too!

Then, on Friday, Feb. 6 also at 6:00 pm Mountain time, we'll be watching the movie. . .the BBC mini series. Join us on Twitter! (We'll let you know when we actually push the play button so we can all be synced up.) The movie is available on Netflix. It's four episodes, each 50 minutes long.

And now, how did you like the conclusion of this book? Here are few questions I've thought up to ask you all:

North and South Final Discussion Questions

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?

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

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

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?

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

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?

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?

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

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!)

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?


If you've already seen the movie, go ahead... now is your chance to compare the two! If you have yet to see the movie, skip everyone's comments on this part. After we watch the movie on Friday, you can write a post just about this. Because my guess is, you'll probably have some thoughts!

If you plan to write a post with answers to these questions. Or a post that compares the book to the movie. OR a post simply with your final review of this book... link it up here so we can all be sure to come visit you!

Thanks again for playing along! I'm sure we'll do it again soon. :)

Friday, January 30, 2015

British Isles Friday: The Scoop on Dr. Who

Since it's a big Dr. Who day for me today, I thought I'd ponder the subject here on the blog and link up with Joy's British Isles Friday, which I haven't done for awhile.

So.. what's up with Dr. Who. It's something I've only recently (relatively speaking) come into. You see, it's TV series that started way back in the 60s, which was broadcast by the BBC for many many years, and then took a break. Then in 2005, they revived it again and started making new episodes. This decision gave the series a whole new life and brought a gazillion new fans into the fold.

I started hearing the buzz about it several years ago and when we finally broke down and got Netflix, Dr. Who was one of the first shows we caught up on. With the new episodes that is. I've yet to even watch the old ones! (But they are all on there, last I looked.)

The first few episodes were... weird. Very weird. And I wondered why the buzz? THIS couldn't be the show everyone was talking about. It was corny, hokey and stupid! And did I say weird?

It's about this guy, he calls himself The Doctor. (And then everyone says "Dr. who? And then he says,  "just... The Doctor!") He's an alien. He's what they call a Time Lord. This means that he as a time machine (a British police box called the Tardis) which he uses to travel back and forth in time, meeting up with all sorts of characters from history and either solving issues, starting issues, or just generally complicating matters. And yes, he's immortal. But this does not mean he can't die.... he can instead, regenerate. Thus, we have several different versions of The Doctor, starting with the First Doctor back in 1963 through to the Twelfth Doctor, the one who currently exists!

All the Doctors, with the latest four being on the
bottom row.

As he goes along in his travels, he always finds someone, usually a girl of course, to travel with him... to be his companion. Sometimes they fall in love, sometimes they don't. Let's just say, things are usually pretty complicated. (With the 11th doctor, the girl AND her husband traveled along with!)

Companions (and others) of the recent Dr. Who series.

So, why, if the shows are so weird and corny, does everyone (well, lots and lots of people!) love them so much? I'll make a list:

  • The actors playing the doctors are phenomenal. Each one has their own personality, their own twist to the doctor's character and their own spin. And you can't help but fall in love with each and every one. That's not to say you won't have a favorite (TEN!) but you find them all fascinating in their own way.
  • The companions. They are usually really funny and add much comic relief to the show. Lots of heart too. They end up with their own very complicated back story that has you invested in them before you know it!
  • The weaving and meshing of story lines. Seriously. I don't think I've ever watched a show where everything ties together and circles around like this show does. It messes with your mind in a very delicious way. And even though I've not seen the earlier shows,  even when they tie to something from that far back, they do it in a way that you totally get it. Well, after awhile anyway!
  • The villains. Ah, some truly scary bad guys! The worst for me is a group of people called The Silence. Oh, and the Weeping Angels of course. But the most famous villains are a bunch of robot type things called the Dalecks. They are mean mean mean! 
  • The relationships. You know I'm not going to like a TV show unless it's filled with lots of character development and relationships. This one is over the top with that! And I'm not talking just romantic relationships, I'm talking all SORTS of connections. Like I said, the weaving of story lines is amazing.
  • Which also is to say, the writing is amazing. Funny, witty, weepy, deep, profound, and yes, sometimes corny...all of it. There are several different writers, all with their own style. One of them is even Neil Gaiman! Yes! 
  • Oh, the music! It's epic! The old themes and the new. Amazing!
So bottom line. . . turns out this show is not weird at all, but just down right COOL! All across the board cool... cool in every way you look at it cool! 

Did I mention my favorite was the Tenth Doctor? I especially love it... LOVE IT.... when he says the word "well" over and over and over again. Take a look:

And the whole reason for this post? We get to see the 11th Doctor, Matt Smith, today at Comic Con! (Also two companions... Rose and Amy!) And he's most awesome too! Even if you've never watched one episode, I bet you can't watch this clip of some of his lines without smiling, maybe even LOLing a bit:

This particular Doctor also has my favorite theme music, here's a taste of that:

So, have I convinced all you Dr. Who naysayers to give it a shot? Or are you already fully immersed into this pop culture phenomenon and know exactly what I'm talking about? I'm right, am I not?

Carry on.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Book Review Discussion: The Elite by Kiera Cass

Book: The Elite by Kiera Cass
Genre: YA Dsytopian
Rating: ★★★☆ ☆
For: Fun
From: the library

Short Synopsis (beware spoilers for the first book in the series The Selection): Our heroine, America (named after that country of olden times) went to the selection in the first book. That's where the prince chooses from 35 girls, which one he wants to marry. But first, he has to narrow it down to six. They are called The Elite. And as we know, America has made the cut. In fact, it appears that Maxon (the prince) has already chosen her. But... has he really? And speaking of choosing, has American chosen him because there's still this little problem called Aspen, who she loved first. And Aspen is cozy and comfortable. Meanwhile, there's a revolution starting!

My Response: Lots of picking and choosing and changing of minds in this book! But we do learn a bit more about the turmoil this world is in and America finds herself in peril more times than one. Also, there's a pretty powerful moment when Maxon lets on to a secret he's been hiding his whole life. And now, America knows. All in all, for what this book is.... it's pretty good fun. Mostly fluff, with a touch of deeper stuff thrown in. Even a few genuinely sad moments.  Pick it up when you're in the mood for that sort of thing. Beware the triangle, but one that includes lovely characters that you can't help but change your mind about right along with everyone in the book!

Bottom Line: Fun and fluff and stuff! I enjoyed it for that.

Let's Talk About: How do you like your fluff? Pure or mixed? :)

Other Reviews:

I recommend this book to anyone looking for a fast-paced read that combines lighthearted fun with a thought-provoking dystopian world. From Wordbird

I do recommend this series, it’s really entertaining, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I think there are high chances of you enjoying it. Besides Prince Maxon is amazing, and you’ll instantly love him. From Words We Heart

This story was drama filled and it kept me hanging on till the very end. From Books With Bite

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Month of Letters Take Four

Does anyone remember what February is? A Month of Letters!!! This is the fourth year  of this lovely event and I've participated every time, which means,  it's a tradition now! I must do it again! So,  I'll be writing letters all month long. Or trying to write letters. Or planning to try to write letters!

Who's with me? You can either to write some letters, or volunteer to get some. (I know, it's a hard job but someone has to do it!)

I have some of your addresses, but I'd like more, especially if you are a new reader of the blog here, or if you've moved, or if we've especially connected this past year and have yet to exchange addresses. Deal?

A few years ago I had you fill out a form, and that seemed to work well, so I think I'll do that again this year. Don't forget to include your state (assuming you live in the states) and zip code! (That seemed to be a common problem last time!)  And I'd love to send international mail too, so don't be shy if you don't live in the states. :)

Happy Letter Writing!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Want to Read at Book Club

A fun prompt from The Broke and the Bookish today! And an easy one for me to do! Here are some books I'm dying to read and they are all books that I think would make great book club books. So, take note my book clubbers! What do you think? (We'll be figuring out our new schedule in March, so we can start thinking about this now, yes?)

Books I'd Like to Read with Book Club

1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
2. The Light Between Oceans by Margot Steadman
3. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
4. Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
5. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
6. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
7. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
8. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
9. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
10. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Am I right? Have you read these books? Would they make for good discussions at book club? Which one (or two) should I push the hardest?

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Worth of Celebrity: A Rant of Sorts, and a Question

When it comes to celebrities, I suppose there are two camps.  Camp number one: those of us who think celebrities are interesting and cool and intriguing and Camp number two: those of us who couldn't care less. For some reason I find myself in the first camp, and I have no idea why. WHY do I find them fun to follow and watch and observe and drool over? Why why why? What's the point in this? (Answer: It's fun!)

And most importantly, how much worth do I put in the whole celebrity watching/seeing/sighting thing?

This is the big question of the day and let me tell you why.

Comic Con here in Salt Lake is coming up again this weekend. This event is called FanX and since I've only been to one other event, I'm not sure how this one will be different or if it's just exactly the same. I think they have two events a year just to get us to fork out more money.

And money is what I want to talk about here. Because the whole point of Comic Con is  to see celebrities. (Wait, did you think it was to celebrate the comic business? Um, no.) So, how much will we, as people in the camp #1, pay to see our favorites?

Comic Con is a pretty expensive event. Nearly 100 bucks for a three day pass (much more for VIP pass). And then if you want to get a picture with your favorite celebrity, it's about 80 more bucks. If you want just an autograph, it's maybe 50 more bucks (per celebrity of course!)

But this time, not only did we pay to get IN the event (and to buy the pictures and autographs), we have also been asked to pay MORE just to go see the panel of some of the celebrities. When it was announced that Matt Smith, the 11th Dr. Who, was coming, along with his companion Amy (Karen G something) and Rose (Billie Piper, companion to both Dr. 9 and 10) they also announced that they would have a special panel, The Dr. Who Experience, which required a separate ticket. I moaned for about five minutes then easily forked over the money.

BUT... I had to decide how worth it this Dr. was to me. Because there were tiers. Was he worth 15 extra dollars? Or 30? Or 80? I decided I just wanted in the room and so I paid the 15 extra. Now... if he would have been the 10th Doctor (David Tennant) I might have forked over the extra 80! Because David Tennant is worth more to me. Yes?  And the 80 would have put me THAT MUCH closer to him!

Which then makes me wonder... how much would I actually pay to see the celebrities that top my list? And it SCARES me to ponder this. Because the answer would be... A LOT. And why is that? WHY? Why would I pay so much money just to see them?

I have no idea. (Answer? It's fun?)

How much money would I pay to see Tom Hiddleston for instance? And would I pay the extra 150 to get an autograph and picture? Would I stand in line for hours? Would I pay extra money just to insure that I got in that room? And maybe not only in the room, but up CLOSE in the room? (Answer: yes!) Where would I stop? How far would I go? How much is Tom Hiddleston worth to me?

And, would I pay the same to see Benedict, or Richard Armitage? Or Colin Firth? Or... sheesh. I don't know who. I've paid hundreds of dollars to see Josh Groban several times. I paid nothing to see Markus Zusak, but I did wait in line for nearly 3 hours (some waited much longer than that! And WOULD I pay to see him. Answer: Yes!)

Was it worth it? Yes! Will it be worth it to pay extra money to see Matt Smith? I hope so! Will I go away with fun memories and a cool experience? Yes. And how much is that worth?

As they say, it's priceless, don't you think?

So I ask you, what would you pay to see a favorite celebrity? How far would you go? Where would you draw the line? IS there any line to draw? Or are you in the other camp and you read this whole post and wonder how I've lost my mind with the whole celebrity thing? If so, is there something else (not of a life and death nature) that you'd pretty much fork over money for without a second thought? 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Currently: Looking for New Music, but Not New Books

Listening: To Becca from I'm Lost in Book's playlists on Spotify. Because, though I love the music I've been listening to lately, I'm feeling the need to find some new stuff! And it looks like Becca has lots of new-to-me stuff! Oh, also, this week I finished listening to Serial, which I blogged about here. I'd like to listen to more podcasts, but I'd also like to try an audio book... first up is Persuasion for a re-re-read for book club. 

Watching: This week I watched the second to last episode of Parenthood. Next week, it's all over. So sad! I will post my feelings on this show then. Let's see, I'm also trying to catch up with The 100, currently on episode ten or so in the first season. Watching the random Gilmore Girls episodes too, when someone else happens to have them on. Pondering getting myself hooked on Friends, as I never watched this when it was popular on TV. What do you think? Looking forward to The Walking Dead starting up again, two weeks from tonight. Oh, and watching Downton Abbey too! 

Reading: Only 18% left in my re-re-read of North and South. Man, stuff is suddenly happening fast! I'm loving the re-read of this book so so much. Its been a fun fabulous time, this read along we've been doing. One week, and then that adventure is over. I started Landline this week, and also Shutter. I finished The Elite, which was, you know, fluff and stuff.

Writing: I went to the writing group at the library this week and was part of the beginning of a new writer's association they are calling TUAA. They have big things planned! (I'll tell you more about it when they actually have a website up to link to.) Also, a small group read chapter two of what I'm calling the farm book (I've thought of the title Indian Summer, but it's really so cliche!) and they liked it! They really really liked it! I've been thinking nonstop about these characters, but haven't actually written much. I'm floundering big time. Currently, I'm trying to make a list of 100 things I know about my characters (well, the two main ones) and I'm at 55. Today, I hope to think of more stuff! What a fun and crazy creative endeavor!

Making: I started making little bags for a humanitarian project at church. I made some banana chocolate chip cookies. I made progress in de-cluttering by cleaning out some cupboards and also boxing up junk in an abandoned kid bedroom. Oh, I made beignets for book club last week. And I made Cafe Rio pork for dinner this past week too. 

Feeling: Hungry at the moment. A little tired too, but I just had a pretty good nap. I felt a little dumpy this past week thinking I might be getting something, but so far, it hasn't happened. Yeah for that! 

Planning: To go to Comic Con FanX this coming weekend! Woot! I hope to see the original Karate Kid guy, Princess Leia, Draco Malfoy, Stefan from TVD, and Glen from TWD... AND the 11th Doctor along with Rose and Amy. Now that is going to be COOL! You can bet you'll be hearing more about all that. And I'll Instagram tons. 

Misc. Random Tidbits:

  • the kitten lost a baby tooth and that was weird to watch.
  • the youngest kid got her driver's permit
  • the two oldest (married) kids are moving, again.
  • I saw a play last night called "Is He Dead?" It was very silly.
  • I want to see The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything
  • I want to see Jupiter Ascending
  • I can't seem to fit in Zumba
  • the brakes on the car died, so we fixed them. The furnace wanted to die too, but it fixed itself, I think
  • I bought new books this week, dang it.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Book Review Discussion: Splintered by A.G. Howard

Book: Splintered by A.G. Howard
Genre: YA Fantasy 
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
For: Fun (the Beehive Awards thing at first, but that's over now!)
From: I bought it at Barnes and Noble

Short Synopsis: So, Alyssa's family is cursed, ever since her great great something grandma, Alice, fell down a rabbit hole and came back all crazy. Alyssa's mom, Alison, is so crazy that they are just about to start shock treatments on her. In order to break the curse, (and save her mom),  Alyssa must go down the rabbit hole herself and fix everything. Through magic, of course, and with a little help from a moth friend, she makes the trip. She ends up pulling her boy-next-door-crush along with her. Oops! And then the magical fantastical adventures begin!

My Response: I loved some parts and yawned my way through other parts. There's a love triangle of sorts with two very different boys (one magical, one not.) My feelings are firmly planted with the non magical one. There's a kiss to die for in this book. I think I better go read that scene again and study it so I can write one like it some day. The premise is pretty cool, with the passing down of craziness. And there's a fun twist at the end that I doubt you'll see coming. But, I do lose interest with all the descriptions of the strange creatures and all the weird and crazy things that must be done to reverse the curse. It's a little over the top in spots!

Bottom Line: But for the most part, I totally enjoyed it and I must say, I think I'll be reading the next book! (Book three just came out this past week I think. Sigh. How to keep up with it all!)

Let's Talk About: Alice! Fan or not a fan? Do you find this story to be too strange all the way around? Do you enjoy the retellings of such strange stories? Are you a fan of the Johnny Depp (Tim Burton) version of Alice? This story is a lot like that.

Other Reviews:

But don't you see? I loved this book. I loved it. I rushed through my day to get to the parts when I could get back to Alyssa's story. From Bookshelvers Anonymous

It's thrilling, with plot twists here and there to keep things unpredictable and exciting. From B's Book Blog

The coolest thing about this book is the brilliant display of imagination on the part of author A. G. Howard. I only wish I could think up stuff this vivid and exciting. From Logan E. Turner

I highly recommend this one to fans of fairytale retellings, and especially to those who like their books a little dark and twisty. From BookTwirps Book Reviews

Thursday, January 22, 2015

My Thoughts on Serial: The Podcast

So, I just finished the last episode of Serial. I know I'm a bit behind the times, but now I'm wondering, have you listened to it? And if so, let's talk!

Serial, if you don't know, is a 12 episode podcast done by the same people from NPR that do This American Life (not a podcast I've listened to, but one I'm curious about also) and when they first debuted this new podcast last fall, everyone went berserk about it. I remember hearing about it from the get go, but didn't start listening to it until about Christmastime when my son talked about it and we decided to get all caught up. As you can see, it still took me awhile (I've told you about my "listening" fetishes, right?)

What they've done is taken an interesting murder crime, one that appeared to have a ton of strange problems and issues, and they've brought it to light again and rehashed the whole thing. They called and interviewed every person originally involved that they could find.  They examine all the evidence, rumors, thoughts, phone calls, letters, diaries . . .everything. And try to come up with a conclusion, once and for all, who dunnit?

This case was a murder of a high school student in Baltimore in 1999. Her ex-boyfriend was arrested, tried, convicted and put in prison for life. He says he did not do it. His friend (well, sort of friend) says he did. And so it goes. Who's telling the truth? It makes you crazy wondering what really happened! If you love true crime stuff and real life stories and fascinating mysteries, you'd love this thing! 

And, if you love that sort of thing, you've probably already listened to it. So... have you? What do you think? Who IS telling the truth? Did he really do it? Did Jay do it? Or is there another story not being told? Are they protecting a third party?

Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Book Review Discussion: The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor

Book: The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor
Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
For: fun
From: the library

Short Synopsis: Bettina is one odd duck. You know, the artsy type, the one that dresses weird, plus she's from a very strict Italian family, which always makes high school life harder. That's why when the basketball star starts paying attention to her, she falls pretty fast and hard. Besides, her dad decides he likes this guy and lets her go out with him. Finally, she has freedom. But gradually, this guy changes... so gradually in fact, Betinna hardly notices. But one day when he's especially mean, she runs to hide in a car shop near the store. Who she meets there changes everything.

My Response: Wow, this one deals with a hard subject. And is definitely not a happy ending, though it does leave you with a sense of hope. But still, be prepared! At any rate,  I couldn't put this one down, for sure. It's beautifully written and beautifully told. I read it in pretty much a day and afterward had to just sit and take a minute to breathe.

Bottom Line: I almost loved it, but it was just too sad to completely love!

Let's Talk About: Sad endings. So, usually I totally love them. They are powerful. You never forget them. But sometimes, they are just too much, you know? What do you think? Are you fan of the sad ending? Always? Sometimes? Never?

Other Reviews:

A powerful read with moments of breathlessness From Waking Brain Cells

At first I thought it was just some regular teen romance but no, this is more. So much more. Its real life in a compact, well written, beautiful story that once you start there is no turning back. From Books With Bite

This would be a good book for someone who wants to see a character recover and become stronger after something turns their life upside down. From This Blonde Reads

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

North and South Read Along Part Two Discussion: Chapter 19 to 35

We've now read through chapter 35 of North and South! Are you loving it? Isn't it most awesome? Well, I think so anyway.

The discussion is being hosted by Kami today. If you want to answer her questions and post them on your blog be sure to link up over at her blog!

Also, don't forget, we'll be chatting tonight at 6 pm Mountain time TONIGHT (that's a date change so take note!) on Twitter using #NorthSouthRAL.  We had WAY too much fun last time, so you know you want to join us! (P.S. Have you been following that hashtag anyway? Lots of fun quotes and thoughts being shared all throughout the read along.) 

And then, we'll see you you here on my blog at the end of the month with our final discussion post.

Questions and Answers:

1. Have your feelings changed towards Mr. Thornton during this section of the book?

I think at first, we feel a bit indifferent towards him. We see him a lot through Margaret's eyes and like her, we aren't too sure what he's about. But I feel like in this section he totally shines. Bringing fruit for her mom, and then saving her from the inquisition...even AFTER she's totally rejected him? I mean, he, despite his gruff outward demeanor, is a complete sweetheart.
Delivering fruit. Wearing that hat!

2. Have your feelings towards Margaret changed?

She makes me a bit crazy in this section because she can't see the sweetheart-ness mentioned above. She is so determined to stick with her silly prejudices! But toward the end of this reading, I can feel that her ideas are starting to change. Otherwise, I'd be very bugged at her indeed. However, I do feel bad about all the death she is suddenly having to deal with. I guess she's not really thinking about love when she has to handle all that other stuff.

3. What do you think about the riot and how Margaret and Mr. Thornton reacted?

Margaret was pretty brave, I must admit. And a bit crazy. And so much acting without thinking. I love how Mr. Thornton doesn't think much of it at the time (except that she's lost her mind) but then relives the moment over and over and over again. I think he feels bad that he wasn't quite as brave as she was. She showed him up! Anyway. It's an awesome scene and such a turning point for all different parts of the plot.

4. Do you think Boucher's anger and actions were justified?

Boucher's plight is insane. I have no idea what I'd do were I in his shoes. Do you? I think he is overly emotional, but somewhat justified. He is in a panic about how to take care of his family, so you can't fault him that. But it does seem like there are better ways to handle the situation.

5. Did Bess's or Mrs. Hale's deaths effect you in any way?

Bess's is so sad. She had her whole life ahead of her. And I think her sickness was caused by working in the mills, right? Which makes it especially hard to take. Mrs. Hale's is sad too, but I think she is dying of some sort of natural cause (I wish they'd just say what it is!) and she at least has lived a bit of life, so I'm not as sad over hers. Though she is still way to young to die and it's hard to see the trauma it causes the family. The boys are especially frail during this time, which is interesting to me. You'd think that Elizabeth Gaskell would think of boys as all strong and unemotional or something. I always find it surprising anyway.

6. Were you surprised to learn that it wasn't common for women to attend funerals? What are your feelings on that tidbit?

Strange! And I wonder why? Just because they can't handle their emotions? And yet, as I said in the question before, it seems more like the boys are the ones out of control! I wonder when this custom changed over the years. Really interesting anyway. 

7. Now that we've met Frederick, do you like him? Are you sympathetic to his predicament?

I do like him. But I wish we could get to know him better. He does seem a bit, wimpy, shall we say. And doesn't really help Margaret all that much. But still, he's scared to be found out, so that makes things really hard. And I'm sure he's been through quite the trauma in his life. So I'll give him a little bit of a pass. I just love how his story interacts with Margaret's to the point of causing all sorts of misunderstanding.

8. What are your feelings on Mr. Thornton's proposal?

Dear Mr. Thornton: You were a little hasty dude! If you'd just waited a bit! I mean, why the rush? If you'd have just gone about doing all those nice things and let her SEE that, then she's going to FALL SO HARD and you're home free! Patience my man, patience. But no, you had to run off the minute you get a little, sort of accidental hug, and BAM, off to marry her! Yeah... you should have waited a bit, I'm sorry to say. Still, it made for a nice awkward moment for you to endure that we all enjoy reading about!

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'm hoping the doesn't really think those things about her and is giving her the benefit of the doubt. But seriously, he just loves her so much that he doesn't care. He just doesn't want to see her go through all that and he'll do anything to stop it. I love him for it. But I so wish that she would just go to him and say, "Hey, I know you did this thing, and you are thinking this thing, but here's what really happened, just so you know." But maybe she doesn't trust him enough about the whole Frederick thing yet. But still... just tell him!

10. Do you think Margaret's feelings towards Mr. Thornton have changed? Why?

Oh yes. For sure. It's starting to hit her. She realizes that he's for real and genuine and that even though she made him feel like crap, he still loves her despite that and she's blown away by it really. I love seeing this change. 

Ah! All you first timers, I hope you are loving it! Sigh. 

On to the end of the book! I can't wait for our movie night. Do join us, either in person or on Twitter. February 6 at 6 pm Mountain!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Mini Bloggiesta Mini Challenge: Yet Another Pinterest Project

Welcome to Bloggiesta! The mini version! Starting tomorrow, participants will be working on their blogs all weekend, accomplishing blogging tasks and trying out some fun mini challenges. If you are interested, sign up here! And if you can't this time, but think it's a possibility for later, stay tuned for our first ever week long Bloggiesta coming up March 23 through 29. Mark you calendars now. It'll be epic!

So I decided to do a little mini challenge this go around. And yes, I know, there have already been a couple of mini challenges dealing with Pinterest in the past. The first one, from Joy at Joy's Book Blog, was a basic tutorial on how to use Pinterest and just getting started from the bottom up. This was back when Pinterest was the new coolest thing! So if you yet to jump on the bandwagon and are totally new to it, check out her tutorial first.

The other Pinterest challenge we've had was from Wesley at Library Educated where she explored ideas on how to use Pinterest to promote your book blog. She shared all the fun bookish boards she's created and had lots of great ideas.

My challenge is very specific and deals with just one board that you may have created or would like to create. This board should be called Books I've Read (insert year here.) And then you pin all your reviews to the books you've read that year to that board. This is a task I do every Bloggiesta and every time without fail people will say, "Oh, I should do that!" or "Oh, I never thought of using Pinterest that way!"

So now I challenge you to create your "books read" board on Pinterest if you don't have one already and then pin your reviews to that board. Joy's post linked above should help you with pinning if you aren't savvy at that yet but basically open the post that has that review on it. And then you click on the picture of the cover of the book (because you always include that in your reviews, right?) and pin it! (Hoover over it and a pin icon might appear, or right click and see if it's there, or using the pin gadget you may have downloaded and is on your tool bar, or, if all else false, copy and paste the URL manually into Pinterest.) If you are in the actually post, then if someone else pins that pin from Pinterest, it will lead them back to your actual review. Get it? (Here's a link to my 2014 board so you'll see what I'm talking about.)

Start a new board for 2015 and I bet there's just a few books you've reviewed so far for this year that will need pinning, so it'll be easy! If you are feeling ambitious create one for 2014 books and pin all the reviews from last year. Or, just get caught is my plan.

To sum up your challenge:
1. Join Pinterest if you aren't on there already!
2. Create a board for books you've read this year, 2015.
3. Pin the covers of the books you've read, making sure you link back to your review.
4. Do one for 2014 too if you are feeling ambitious (or catch up if you already have such a board!)

Have fun and enjoy!

Let me know if you have any questions regarding this challenge. Come back and report your successes!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Book Review Discussion: The Bishop's Wife by Mette Ivie Harrison

Book: The Bishop's Wife by Mette Ivie Harrison
Genre: Mystery
Rating:★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
For: Supporting local authors
From: Received for free from the publisher. All opinions are my own. 

Short Synopsis: Our main character, Linda, is very involved in her local Mormon (aka LDS) ward. That's due in part because she is the bishop's wife. (A bishop is the leader of the ward, or Mormon congregation.) Because of this, she befriends many people in her neighborhood and ends up learning some strange things. For instance, the husband of one of her friends dies, and then she (the bishop's wife) discovers he's been hiding a big secret. Also, the wife of another neighbor disappears in the night and suddenly she (the bishop's wife) is torn between helping him and his daughter, and having him accused of murder! But, did he really do it?

My Response: Ah, I have no idea how to review this book and I've been dreading it since I finished it. So, I guess I'll just jump in. I was intrigued by this book given that it's inspired by (but by no means an account of) the Susan Powell disappearance/murder that happened here in Utah several years ago. What a terrible story that was! Though I'm not that much into mysteries, I was hooked enough to want to find out how this particular story ended. And it wasn't as expected and it made me a little crazy! Maybe even a little mad. Sigh, and I can't say more about that as I don't want to be all spoilery, even more than I just was!

I see from other reviews that many readers really liked this character, Linda. But she made me crazy and I did not like her much at all. I felt like she was all up into everyone's business and justified it because she's the bishop's wife. It made me look at the bishop's wives that I know and wonder about them. I can't imagine them doing anything like this. Maybe visiting neighbors now and then. I don't know. Let's just say I don't think most bishop's wives are like this one! And she seemed to hate on and complain about everything, and her life just isn't all that bad. Sometimes I just wanted to tell her to grow up a little, you know?

Okay, now for all the Mormon talk. As a Mormon myself, it made me just roll my eyes. Like, a lot. I feel like for those wanting to know about what living in this church like, the author could have done a lot more showing and much less telling. There were so many asides of... "and we believe this and we think that and this is what we are supposed to do" that I was like, really? Just show us! All that narrator info dumping took me right out of the story. And also, I just feel like it cheapens our faith to an extent, makes us look so dumb, for lack of a better word. And I really wish that a book could be written that explains our lives without doing that. Am I making sense?

Mostly I just want to say that some of the culture of Mormon life depicted here is what I'd say to be correct, but much of it is not, at least what I see anyway. As with any group of people, everyone is different and I hate it when book such as this (or a movie or TV show or whatever) is written and read by the masses and then everyone thinks that's how we all are. We aren't, we are all different, just like everyone else.

Also, of course, every single freaking controversial thing going on with the church right now was brought up and analyzed. And maybe that was the subtle not-so-subtle point of this book,  I don't know. Because I do feel the author wrote this for a specific reason, I'm just not sure what that reason was. To voice her own issues with the church? I think so. To share our beliefs with the world? Maybe. To dis men? A little. To write a mystery? I'm not sure!

Bottom Line: An interesting story on some levels, and a maddening one on others.  I think most non-LDS readers will find it interesting, and some LDS ones too, but I've a sense that many LDS readers will cringe at most of it. (Now given everything I've said, you may think my star rating is a bit generous, and you'd be right. But I was still intrigued by this story, even with all the eye rolling! Two and half stars would have been more on target I'd say. But I don't know the HTML code for a half!)

Let's Talk About: Religion! There's a reason why I avoid the subject on my blog for the most part. . .but have at it today! Mark, get set, go!

Other Reviews:

But even without the Mormon perspective, it's a good mystery. I didn't see the ending. From Annette's Book Spot

I absolutely love books that give me insight into cultures, religions, and communities I’m unfamiliar with, and this novel did a great job with that. From S. Krishna's Books

I guess the best way to describe this book is that it's not a Mormon book, it's a suspense novel set among Mormons. From 2 Kids and Tired Books

For those wondering if the religious aspects are overwhelming, they're not. From Killin' Time Reading

I'm not sure how other Mormons will react. It may be difficult to see the culture from an outsider's view. Mette is a practicing Mormon, but this narrative reads more like someone on the outside looking in. From Emily's Reading Room

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 Books I Wanted to Read!

So, in actuality, there are SO MANY 2014 books that I wanted to read but didn't get to that I had no idea where to start, so I started with Goodreads lists. That helped a lot, and here's a short ten book list that came from that.

Ten Books from 2014 I Meant to Read

1. Landline by Rainbow Rowell
2. The Storified Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zavin
3. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
4. A Slow Regard for Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
5. The Martian by Andy Weir
6. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelsen
7. Cress by Marissa Meyer
8. Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi
9. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman
10 The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Well, actually some of these I didn't know about until the world started buzzing about them and NOW I want to read them. Good thing we have a whole new year, and lifetime, to get to them!

What would you put on your list? Be sure to link up over at The Broke and the Bookish!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Book Review Discussion and Blog Tour: Joy Street by Laura Foley

Book: Joy Street by Laura Foley
Genre: Poetry
Rating:★★★☆ ☆
For: a TLC book tour
From: TLC Book Tours

Short Synopsis: This is a tiny little book comprised of several poems about the author's life, covering everything from her relationship with her partner to interesting dreams to her father's WWII experiences.

My Response: You know, I didn't really know what to expect when I said yes to this blog tour. A poetry book! Intriguing! But I suppose I have a bit of a narrow view as to what poetry is, not necessarily rhyming but maybe some sort of standard form with a rhythm and pattern. While some of these poems had that, some of them seemed more like simple thoughts. . . very small observances on life worded in a poetic way. So I guess that's poetry too! So I'm not sure if there is a proper definition of poetry, but if there is, I don't know it.

With that being said, I enjoyed the experience of reading these poems and flew quickly through the book. I especially liked the various visuals used to describe things like "rain hammering it's monstrous fists" and "sun-kissed cheeks." One of my favorite poems was about breast feeding in public, something I can relate to!

But the best thing I found about this unique reading experience is that it has inspired me to think that I too could write a little book of poetic observations about my life. I mean, I know it's harder than it looks, I know this for a fact, but I could try! And it would be a fun endeavor I think. I just may have to add this to my list of writing things to do. It will be fun to see what happens.

Bottom Line: I enjoyed this foray into a genre with which I'm not very familiar. Even though I know nothing about poetry, I still "got" it and enjoyed the experience. If you are interested in this book, you can find it here on Amazon.

Let's Talk About: Poetry! Where do you stand? Is it something you read and "get", read and "don't get" or don't read at all? Do you write poetry? And if so, what advice do you have for me if I want to have a go at it?

More About the Author: 
(From the TLC website)

Laura Foley is the author of four poetry collections. The Glass Tree won the Foreword Book of the Year Award, Silver, and was a Finalist for the New Hampshire Writer’s Project, Outstanding Book of Poetry. Her poems have appeared in journals and magazines including Valparaiso Poetry Review, Inquiring Mind, Pulse Magazine, Poetry Nook, Lavender Review, and in the anthology, In the Arms of Words: Poems for Disaster Relief. She won Harpur Palate’s Milton Kessler Memorial Poetry Award and the Grand Prize for theAtlanta Review’s International Poetry Contest. She lives on a woody hill in South Pomfret, Vermont with her partner Clara Gimenez and their three dogs. Please visit her website for book information or more poems:

For Other Reviews, check out these links on the book tour schedule:

Monday, January 5th: I’d Rather Be at the Beach
Tuesday, January 6th: Lit and Life
Wednesday, January 7th: Book Dilettante
Wednesday, January 7th: Savvy Verse and Wit
Friday, January 9th: Diary of an Eccentric
Monday, January 12th: It’s All About Books
Monday, January 13th: Unabridged Chick – review and interview
Wednesday, January 14th: Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, January 15th: Peeking Between the Pages – author guest post
Friday, January 16th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Monday, January 19th: Books Without Any Pictures
Tuesday, January 20th: Worducopia
Wednesday, January 21st: Suko’s Notebook
Thursday, January 22nd: Suko’s Notebook – author guest post
Tuesday, January 23rd: Bookgirl’s Nightstand
Saturday, January 24th: Wordy Evidence of the Fact
Monday, January 26th: Bell, Book & Candle
Wednesday, January 28th: Musings of a Bookish Kitty – author guest post
Thursday, January 29th: Musings of a Bookish Kitty
TBD: Everything Distils Into Reading

Sunday, January 11, 2015

January 2015 Mini Bloggiesta To Do List

Usually, I end up not getting much of a chance to actually work on my Bloggiesta list, but I'm always hopeful! Here's what I'd like to work on this next weekend:

Bloggiesta To Do List: January 17-19

1. Archive Links: I got behind and now... oh my word, this is going to take forever!
2. Pinterest: Pin my reviews. This one is much faster, but yet again, I'm so behind.
3. Update to 2015: I have lists and stuff that need changing.
4. Top Ten Posts: maybe write ahead a few posts down the road
5. Business cards: I need to update and pass them out at a few upcoming events!
6. Host the Twitter chat! Will you be there? Sunday January 18 at noon Mountain time.
7. Blog Roll: I'm finding that I'm using my own blog roll again these days to keep up on blogs and there are so many I should add to that list!

What will you be working on? Write up a To Do List and link up over at the Bloggiesta blog! We'd love to have you join in the fun.

Book Review Discussion: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Book: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
For: Book Club and Beehive Awards
From: The library

Short Synopsis: It's just turned 1950 and Josie lives in New Orleans with her mom... her mom who happens to work at a brothel. Josie also works there... as a sort of cleaning maid. But she loves the madame, who doubles as a mother figure for Josie. That's because Josie's mom is so crazy and irresponsible and basically unable to mother Josie herself. In fact, the story opens with the mom running off with some shady guy and Josie is left alone, but then again, she is used to that. She lives above of the bookstore where the owner and his son are her other family. After Josie's mom leaves, some strange things happen and Josie ends up having to solve a murder mystery.

My Response: I loved the time period and setting of this one! I'm so glad to have got a glimpse in real life of New Orleans so I could easily picture this setting. (We walked around the French Quarter for a morning on July 4th a few years ago. I mostly remember how hot it was! But, I loved the place!) Josie was a fun character too, and someone who has to deal with some pretty adult things. I can't believe the stuff her mom puts her through. What a crappy mom! But luckily she has some people in her life that keep her going. She wants so bad to be a normal person and go to college and be smart and to forget her past.

Bottom Line: Great story and beautiful writing as we've come to expect from this author who knows how to do a fabulous historical fiction!

Let's Talk About: New Orleans some more! Have you been there? What did you think? What's your feeling setting a "kids" (YA is kids book right?) book in a brothel? Is New Orleans a perfect setting for such a thing? Or is it not fair? What other favorite books of yours are set here? Interview with a Vampire!? :)

Other Reviews:

Oh, I loved this book. As it's got the same combination of fantastically-rendered historical atmosphere—the dialogue is TO DIE FOR—and mystery elements, I highly, HIGHLY recommend it From Bookshelves of Doom

This is a wonderful book that encourages readers to go after their dreams! From BermudaoOion's Weblog

Josie is the best kind of heroine. She’s salty peanuts. It is extremely easy to imagine that she is a friend I know, or even fragments of myself. From Words on Paper
The story was so breath taking and touching, but it was also horrible. It was like my heart was ripped out, stomped on, and healed by love. From Kami's Library Thoughts

Saturday, January 10, 2015

North and South Read Along Part 1: Chap. 1 to 18

I've been having a blast re-reading this book with you all! So many things are standing out to me this go around. I've tweeted a few things (#NorthSouthRAL if you want to see) and have looked forward to this first discussion. If you are playing along with us, be sure to join us for a Twitter chat tonight at 6 pm Mountain.

But for now here are my answers to some discussion questions which you can find over at Jenni's blog. If you'd like to post your answers too, be sure to link up over at her blog so we can find you and come visit!

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 third time reading the book, I think. The first time I was trying hard to just understand what was going on (this was way before the movie existed even!) and the second time through I mostly skimmed it for book club. This time, I'm really savoring everything. I love it!

2. Have you seen the BBC mini-series? Is the book anything like you expected it to be?
I will love to see other people's answer to this question. I watched the movie long after I read the book and all I know is that it made me appreciate the book a ton more.

3. Why do you think Margaret refused Henry? He seems like such a nice chap.

He seems nice, but maybe a bit on the boring side. But at this point, we aren't really sure what Margaret is looking for. Maybe boring suits her? But I guess not. I guess she is one of those that knows what she wants when she sees it and Henry is not it. I've always felt a little sorry for him. 

4. What are your first impressions of Mr. Thornton?

Going on what I've read so far, one might think he's a bit scary. A bit gruff maybe, a bit intimidating. If you aren't in his head, like we so wonderfully get to be while reading the book, you might think he only enjoys coming to discuss books with Mr. Hale and not much else about this new family. But at the same time, not knowing anything else about him at this point, I would find him intriguing too.

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 she either relates to the plight of the poor workers, or feels sorry for them and some sense of responsibility.  Whereas Mr. Thornton, being the owner of the mill, has no need for someone to feel sorry for him. And Margaret can't relate to his position at all, like she can with the Higgins'. 

6. Compare the two moms we've seen in the story.

I've always found Mrs. Hale a bit on the wimpy side. And very whiny. Mrs. Thornton seems, on the other hand, powerful and strong. Though she has her  moments of whiny-ness too. She is however, awfully judgmental. But then again, so is Mrs. Hale!  Anyway,  I love what she (Mrs. Thornton) feels about her son, I too feel all those motherly instincts about my boys. So, I get where she's coming from. Then again, I suppose Mrs. Hale feels that for her son Frederick too. Anyway, I just find the difference in the two quite interesting.

7. What differences are you seeing so far between the north and the south?

The difference is what we call nowadays blue collar and white collar, wouldn't you say? The north is hard working, the south is laid back. The north is cities and factories and noise, the south is villages and churches and quiet. At least that would be a general sum up of the difference! 

8. Do you think Mr. Hale was justified in leaving the church and his position?

I understand his grief about not being one with what he's expected to believe, but to uproot his family because of it? What  hard thing. I mean he REALLY must feel pretty strongly about whatever point he has a quibble with. 

9. What are your feelings on Frederick’s situation?

Not a good situation! It sounds like a terrible thing that happened to him. I feel bad for everyone. Poor Frederick.

10. What are your thoughts on the master and worker relationship?

I just read the chapter (15 I think it is) where they discuss this in length and the thing that strikes me (ha! strikes!) is they neither one of them can get along with out the other. They NEED each other! And its so frustrating then, why they have to have such a volatile relationship. I wish they could all get along. 

And there you have it! What I'm thinking so far! I hope some of you can join the Twitter chat tonight. I look forward to discussing things further. 

Our next set of chapters will be 19 to 35 and discussion questions will be hosted at Kami's on January 20. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

December 2014 Reading Recap

Christmas morning at our house!

I'm a little behind getting this post up because I've had so many reviews and other things to catch up on. Anyway, I still thought I'd post the list of what I read in December with my fun little blurbs. It was an awesome reading month and I loved so many of these!

The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise: The techno kids at school enter an app writing contest and one of the girls decides to see if she can match up couples. Sounded good at first, but then, not so much!

Atlantia by Ally Condie: Two sisters live in a city under the ocean. One is sent Above and one stays Below where she uncovers some knowledge that could destroy their beautiful city.

Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross: The life of Joan, who rose through the ranks, posing as boy, until she ended up as the Pope himself. 

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski: If you buy an intriguing slave, be prepared for the consequences!

As You Wish by Cary Elwes: What was it like filming The Princess Bride. Westley will tell you all!

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys: If your mom works in a brothel in New Orleans after the big war, it makes for an interesting and not so pleasant life.

All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han: If you write love letters to all the boys you like, make sure you don't address them just in case someone decides to mail them for you!

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson: A fabulous fantasy where our heroine runs from her wedding to hopefully live a quiet life in a village. But two guys follow her and make a mess of things.

Favorites of the Month: The Winner's Curse, The Kiss of Deception, and As You Wish.

Plans for January:

  • Re-read North and South for our read along
  • Read Joy Street for a blog tour.
  • Finish Save the Cat... a writing help book.
  • Read Ignite by Sara Larson
  • And Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi.... that's not confusing or anything is it?
  • Read Wonder, and Life After Life, and Splintered and Cress and The Elite and whatever else jumps out at me!
  • Oh, and read Shutter for sure!
Also, I'd like to do this fun little exercise throughout the year and mark things off if they fulfill a category. Let's see how many I can do! (This challenge found an many blogs, but originated at PopSugar.)

Happy New Year of Reading!!!

Book Review Discussion: The Kiss of Deception by Mary Pearson

Book: The Kiss of Deception by Mary Pearson
Genre: YA Fantasy
For: Beehive Award reading
From: I bought it!

Short Synopsis: The book opens with Lia getting ready for her wedding... to a prince she's never met and doesn't love. Well, she's going to have none of that so she runs away. And hopes to now live out a nice quiet life in a small seaside town miles away from the castle and the strife that everyone expects her to fix. However, a couple of guys (separately and on their own) find and follow her. Can you guess who they are? Well, even you might know who they are, Lia does not! Which can get pretty interesting after awhile.

My Response: What an awesome set up, yes? And then there's a twist toward the end that had me freaking out. Yeah, I didn't see that one coming! It's a fabulous story within a harsh fantasy world complete with characters that keep you guessing constantly. Also complete with a cliffhanger ending! Here's hoping another book is coming soon!

Bottom Line: I loved this one! The last book of the year and sadly, read after I did all my year end lists. Maybe I'll add it next year's lists!

Let's Talk About: Do you pride yourself in figuring out the twists and turns in books? Or are you like me in that you usually aren't thinking about figuring stuff out, and are just reading along, when BAM! I love it when that happens and I'm glad that I usually don't see things coming. It makes for a thoroughly enjoyable ride.

Other Reviews:

Basically, this is such a rich and interesting world and like lest you get lost in the details, there’s character development and action, and superb writing. I gobbled up The Kiss Of Deception in pretty much one day and it’s one of my favorites of the year, absolutely no doubt in my mind about that. From Good Books and Good Wine

There's a bit of an intrigue mixed dangerously OR delightfully with romance. Readers learn that there is so much to learn about the world in which this novel is set. From Becky's Book Reviews

This is another one of those books that took me by surprise. I was intrigued by the description, and thrilled to find that the book was even better. Only one complaint: BIG-time cliffhanger ending! From Proud Book Nerd

The chapters flowed, the story was captivating, the romance uplifting, and I was sad for the book to end. From Books With Bite


Related Posts with Thumbnails