January 31, 2015

North And South Read-Along Part 3

Well, here we are. The final discussion post. It's over! *sadface* Except not really because we still get to watch and tweet about the miniseries next weekend. Yay! :D I finished the book last week and it was delightful! Now thanks to Suey, I'll get to the final set of questions. So much to talk about!

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?

It does seem a bit much, but as someone mentioned via twitter, death affects us. It changes us. And no one is exempt from it. All the deaths that Margaret had to deal with changed how she felt about Milton and its people. She'll forever have a connection to the city simply because her mother died there. I think Ms. Gaskell needed a catalyst to wake Margaret up to the fact that life and people are so much more than the boxes we tend to put them in. She certainly had more of a tendency to label people one way without giving them the chance to prove her wrong and each death of a loved one forced her to rely on others around her more and to realize that she had people around her who were so much more than she had thought. And not just Mr. Thornton. I think her view of the Higgenses' changed as well. And even Mrs. Thornton! Her father's death made her take a closer look at what Mrs. Thorton's intentions were in how she approached her for their conversation.

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

The cat! Oh my gracious, I had to reread that part again just to make sure I'd read it right. What a way to make sure Margaret stopped having too rosy a view of Helstone! Because that's the only theory I have as to why Ms. Gaskell included that.

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

I knew it would happen since I've seen the miniseries, but on my first viewing I was quite surprised. I hadn't even imagined such a scenario. But what a great way to force each of them to step in the other's shoes for a while. Plus it reconnects them again, for which I am not complaining at all! :)

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 think partly it's a combination. She always strove to be honest in everything she said and did and to say this one (quite huge!) lie was a big deal. But I think Mr. Thorton's corresponding omission of truth to save her was largely her wake up call to seeing exactly how much he had done for her. And was still doing for her. Knowing that she had rejected him, he still saved her. That's pretty significant! I don't think many people would have done that. So mostly, I think it has to do with her feelings.

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

I'm not sure it was ever a certain moment. I think it was a gradual change and she "was in the middle before she knew she had begun". :)

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 think the miniseries has caused me to love him a bit more than the book would have had I read it first. Because I think Nicholas is awesome! Now granted, he's pretty rough around the edges and gruff-talking, but his heart is so good. I love that he takes Boucher's children in. And he's got a great head on his shoulders! I think that's what Mr. Thornton didn't realize about him at first. Nicholas has a very good sense of right and wrong. He also understands people really well. For all his rough talk, he sees what Margaret's heart is when she approaches he and Bessy about bringing them flowers when they first meet. And what he wanted to happen with the union was actually pretty smart. He was seeking ways to get masters and millworkers to work with one another. And he's honest and upright in all he does. You always know where you stand with him. Sometimes a little too well! :D But I think that's what Mr. Thornton finally saw and came to appreciate.

Likewise Mr. Thornton gives Nicholas an understanding of what being a master is like. Plus he's just as honest and forthright, so their conversations had to be pretty interesting. I would love to have been a fly on the wall for all their conversations because I gathered that they had a lot! I think ultimately, they both changed each other. And I'd like to think that they became really good friends by the end of the book! :)

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 it does change. I think, through Nicholas Higgens as well as Margaret, he learns a bit more compassion. He always had more than most masters seemed to which is awesome, but he still had more to learn. And since we got to read both points of view right from the beginning, my opinion never really changed.

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

I didn't really have one that stood out to me the most.

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 am! I love how everything works out and am very happy that Margaret and Thornton get their happy every after. :)

Although I do admit that I wish it didn't end quite so abruptly. I did some research and it turns out that Charles Dickens was mostly to blame for that. Although Ms. Gaskell did end up adding some chapters when she made it into a book and she still didn't add anything to the very end, so....

But I still would have preferred a bit more cute Margeret and Thornton moments!

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?

I did enjoy the book very much! I love all the extra detail that we get about what Mr. Thornton's thinking. That was my very favorite part! :)

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!

I thought the screenwriters did a pretty great job of staying accurate with the book. Of course, they did change some things, but that's always to be expected. And I definitely prefer the miniseries ending to the book ending! *dreamy sigh* Plus there's just no comparison between reading/imagining and actually seeing Richard Armitage as Mr. Thornton!!!! (How soon are we watching it again?? ;)

January 30, 2015

Retro Friday Review: The Lauren Holbrook Series by Erynn Mangum

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted @ Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc. Everyone is welcome to join in at any time!

I haven't done one of these for a great while, but the author of this series just published number four (happily unexpectedly! :) which I am currently reading and which also made me want to reread the original trilogy (which I proceeded to do). I had so much fun, I decided it was high time I recommended it to y'all. Fun, right? I sure think so! So let's get to it, shall we?


The highlight of this series is Lauren herself. This girl lives on coffee and Jane Austen. I think we'd be best friends were she real! (Well. You know. Except for the coffee part. Make that tea and then we'll talk! ;) But seriously, she's watched Pride and Prejudice so many times that she has it memorized and prefers to quote it with a British accent. She lives on coffee. (To the point that she finds it awfully hard to function without it.) And chocolate! She talks a mile a minute and makes friends everywhere she goes. She doesn't know a stranger and her skill with sarcasm? Brilliant. (Is any of this reminding you of someone? Ding ding ding! Yes! She's remarkably like Lorelai from Gilmore Girls.) In short? She's awesome. And even better? She has an incredible group of people she's surrounded with.

From her co-workers to the people at the coffee shop she frequents to her sister and brother-in-law, the girl has a knack for knowing fabulous people. And also people who can be talked into helping her with her matchmaking. Because Lauren can read people. Quite well, in fact, and her track record with knowing two people who are meant for each other is pretty much unmatched. (Ha! See what I did there?) (Yes. I know I'm ridiculous.) Whether she's "unexpectedly" throwing them together, setting up blind dates with other people so they can see who they're truly meant to be with, or following along with their dates in disguise. And if they reach the moment of "Will you marry me?", you can bet that she'll be there somewhere making sure the moment is as romantic and perfect as possible! (Plus she just likes to see proof of her genius.) The only struggle she has is potentially finding her Mr. Right when she's been planning to stay single her entire life. What a bummer, right?

Mixing her days with her photography job, drinking multiple cups of coffee, setting up her co-workers, saving her sister from Eenie, Meanie, Mienie, and Moe (who are geese, by the way), watching Pride and Prejudice for the millionth time, agreeing to help lead a bible study with 13 year olds (scary stuff!), pretend to date her co-worker's brother-in-law (who's making her heart beat a little faster), and eat more chocolate than is good for her, Lauren is a busy gal.

The point I'm trying to make is that these books are hilarious. And fun! I laugh my way through each book no matter how many times I've read them. Ms. Mangum knows her characters well. But even better is that they're far from perfect. Lauren makes plenty of mistakes, but she realizes it and does what she can to make it better. I can relate so much easier to a character who feels real. And Lauren and her friends feel like people I'd love to hang out with. Where we'd spend the majority of our time laughing and at the end of the evening we'd all be making plans to meet up again the very next day. Aren't these the sort of characters you'd like to meet? :)

My mouth is full of Oreo, ice cream, fudge, and Cool Whip, so I just nod. This is heaven. I'm moving into one of their guest rooms.
"So, Laur, do you want to come with us tomorrow? You can help me plan out furniture while Nick and Ryan dig for grubs," she says, licking her fork.
"Can we keep the rest of this dessert?"
She grins. "Sure."
"Then I'll come."
She watches me put another bite in my mouth and close my eyes. "You're pitiful."
"No, just a chocoholic."
She shakes her head. "Same thing."

January 29, 2015

I've Got North and South On My Brain...

You all know by now that I've been participating in a read-along of North and South. Hence I've been thinking about Mr. Thornton a lot! So I decided y'all should too. ;)

North & South directed by Brian Percival (TV, Mini-Series, BBC, 2004)

Ah, those eyes.

North and South (Part 4)  "My word, Margaret; to admit that the South has its faults and that Mr Thornton has his virtues. What has happened to bring about such a transformation?"

Yes, this would be my favorite scene! I only rewind it three or four times when I watch. ;)

The music for this miniseries is amazing!

For just a quick overview of the series in all its loveliness.


And last, but not least.... *dreamy sigh*

January 28, 2015

Links And Things...

Photo by Bev Lloyd-Roberts LRPS
Hello my lovelies! I trust your January has treated you well so far? Mine's been busy, hence the one post a week dealio. My time has not been my own! (kudos if you know that line, by the way ;) Anyhoo, I just wanted to check in and let you know that I'm still around. Plus I wanted to share a couple posts that I thought were pretty cool! :)

Firstly, Hamlette has written an excellent post on why Anne Elliot, from Jane Austen's Persuasion, is so awesome. And trust me, Anne is very awesome! If you haven't met her yet, I highly recommend that you do! She's one of my favorite characters. And some day I may yet get around to posting my thoughts on why she is and what that has to say about me. But that's for another day!

Secondly, I know I've written multitudes of times how amazing I think My Hands Came Away Red is. You're all probably sick to death about reading about this book. But it's just so fantastic and I want somebody else to think so too! So far, only one of my real life friends has read it and fell in love as much as I. And hardly any of my blogging friends have. *sniff sniff* Alas.... Anyway! That's beside the point. My point is the author of that book, Lisa McKay, also writes a blog and she has a great post from last week regarding getting excited for moving to Vanuatu. It's mostly about her analysis of what "getting excited" consists of though and parts of it resonated with me. Especially the parts about change and how it affects how excited or not excited we get about something.

And lastly, I finished my official re-read of North and South Monday night! Yay! It was perfectly delightful and I'm positive I'll have more thoughts to share later. But I did want to mention that the last discussion post and twitter party is this coming Sunday (Feb. 1st.), so for anybody interested who's not watching the Superbowl, head over to Suey's blog for all the details come Sunday! The more the merrier, I say. :)

January 20, 2015

North and South Read-Along Part 2

It's time for part 2! We are now 2/3 of the way through the book and oh my, lots of stuff happening. Riots and deaths and hidden brothers and all kinds of shenanigans going on.

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

Not really. I do feel a bit sorry for him. Such feelings he has! I love being privy to his thoughts and how he decides to love Margaret no matter what she or anybody else may think. His constancy is definitely to be admired.

Have your feelings towards Margaret changed?

Again, I'd go with not really. Because I do like her, in spite of her snobbishness. Which comes even more into play in this portion of the story. She's quite intelligent, even if she does make some pretty poor choices sometimes.

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

Mr. Thornton was a little too susceptible to Margaret's anger/frustration/whatever it was, which led him to doing what she said. And while their actions ended up causing the strike to end, I don't think it was really that smart. Margaret really has much to learn about people, especially upset and angry crowds of people. Although she had some good food for thought for Mr. Thornton, I'm not convinced it was the right thing to do, to send him out there alone. (But I do admit the reactions from Mr. Thornton when he sees Margaret hurt is awful sweet! ;)

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

I'm not sure it was justified, but I could sympathize with him. I can't imagine having to watch my children starving to death right in front of me. And I can definitely see where that would cause someone to make some hard/bad choices. I just felt sorry for him more than anything.

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

Even though we'd been expecting both, I did feel sorrow. Especially when Bessy almost died all alone! I'm so glad Mary was able to be there for the final moments. I think I was more affected by Bessy than Mrs. Hale, I admit. Somehow I just felt more of a connection to her. But I did feel sorry for Mr. Hale and Margaret and Frederick, they all hurt quite a lot.

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

No, because I've read/watched other stories and knew about that particular tradition. I'm glad it's not still that way today, because I think there can be something mysteriously comforting in getting to say that final goodbye at the funeral.

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

I do. I feel for him. Whether he made all the right choices, I can definitely tell that he misses his family very much and they him. That has to be really hard.

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

Aw. Poor Mr. Thornton! Margaret was quite nasty to him in that scene. I felt that's when her snobbishness really came out and I felt terrible for him at that moment. He was only trying to do that right thing and even if she couldn't accept him, she could have said no in a much nicer and gentler way. Wish I could jump in the book and give him a hug. Or even say yes! I'd definitely say yes to Mr. Thornton! ;)

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 have no idea. But I can swoon over Mr. Thornton doing so! He really loves Margaret so very much. And it's never so apparent as when he makes this decision and saves her. Which leads me to this next question...

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

I think she starts to think a little differently about him once he saves her. She's still got quite a bit of realizing how amazing and wonderful he is to go yet, but I think this moment is her turning point in her mind. When she stops trying to find fault in every single thing he does or says. Now if only she'd hurry up and see how awesome he is so we readers can enjoy them together! *sigh* ;)

Tune in for part 3 in a couple weeks!

January 14, 2015

Little Letters :: Twelfth Edition

Dear North and South Read-Along Ladies, you are awesome! I had a blast at our twitter chat last weekend and am looking forward to more!

Dear 2015, it's very nice to meet you. Now that we're a couple weeks in, I must say so far you've been very gentle and sweet to me. But winter is just beginning so we'll see how long that lasts.

Dear Christmas Movies, I have been enjoying you just as much now that Christmas is over! I hope that's okay? All that time I thought I'd have in December just didn't materialize, but I am definitely having fun here in January. And as no one else wants to borrow them from the library, that means I have so many options!

Dear Maggie, I can't believe you're already two weeks old! I cannot wait to meet you very soon. Your mama has been so good to send me pics and give me updates, but nothing can take the place of squeezing you myself. I'm counting down the days, little one! :)

Dear Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, you guys rock, you know that? Is there anything better than a hot, delicious, melt-in-your-mouth doughnut on a cold night? Mmmmmmm.

Dear Books To Be Read, don't give up on me! Life's been a little crazy recently, but I've got you in my sights. It won't be long and I'll have devoured all of you, so beware!

Dear Bookstores and Libraries, thanks for always being there. You don't know how you cheer me up and make life so much happier! Even though my TBR pile is towering high above me, just looking at all the awesomeness to come makes me smile. Books = happiness! :)

Dear Colds/Flus/Insert Whatever Sickness That's Swirling Around Right Now, you're awful. You really just need to go away. Nobody wants you and we'd all be much happier if you'd go and never come back. Hmph.

Dear Readers, I hope your week has treated you well so far. Thanks for sticking with me even when I get very sporadic with my posting! I'm so glad you're here. And if I haven't been to visit your site in a while, please know that I'm making every effort to get that to happen very, very soon. Happy reading til then!

January 13, 2015

North and South Read-Along Part 1

North and South Read Along

So yeah. I'm WAY behind on getting this post up. We had an awesome twitter chat on Saturday and I really should have had this post up then. Alas.... :/ But! I have it now! Better late than never, right? (I hope? ;)

Anyhoo. As I said, we had an awesome twitter chat and I admit that I was reading through chapter 18 clear up until the very last possible minute. (Clearly I'm a procrastinator.) And gracious did that hour fly by fast! I was clicking tweets all over the place and having a wonderful time. Thanks to Jenni for hosting! And for these great questions. Also! If you've a mind to, start reading the book and join us next time. I promise all the ladies are fabulous and nice and you're guaranteed a great time. So come on over to Victorian England, it's the place to be this month! ;)

Is this your first time reading this? If so, what do you think so far? If not, are you liking this reread so far?

Not really. I've not ever properly read the entire story word for word, but I have skimmed through and read quite a lot of it. So I was due to read the whole thing. And yes! I am enjoying it so far. It helps my enthusiasm, I think, to know that there are others reading at the same time and that we'll get to chat about it again soon. :)

Have you seen the BBC mini-series? Is the book anything like you expected it to be?

Okay, anybody who regularly reads my posts knows the answer to this one! ;) The miniseries is by far my favorite show/movie/whatever you want to call it. I have watched it so many times that I cannot possibly count them all. And since I've skimmed through the book before, I knew about what to expect. But it has been fun to see the differences and where they changed scenes from the book for the miniseries.

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

He does seem like a nice chap! But I don't think he inspired any passion or "depth of feeling" in her. It's pretty clear from her thoughts that every time she was in conversation with Henry, she never once thought romantic thoughts about him. Even though he was pretty obvious a couple times. I think she's young enough and not experienced enough yet that she simply didn't recognize what was actually happening in those conversations? Especially the one at Edith's wedding.

What are your first impressions of Mr. Thornton?

He's very gentlemanly and nice. Right from the beginning, no matter how Margaret frustrated him with her attitude, he still did all he could to make the Hale's transition to Crampton as easy and comforting as possible. Alyssa mentioned the fact that he got the wallpaper changed for them, which he didn't have to do at all. He notices so many little details about Margaret (which I love!) and that one small comment she said about the wallpaper stayed with him and he did something about it. Plus he clearly cares very much for his mother. They're relationship is so solid and warm. And he's so respectful to everyone. He treats everyone fairly.

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 he's just so different than she's expecting. The men she's had contact with up to this point have been ones who understood their position and the right things to say and the right things to do. Not that Mr. Thornton doesn't! But he's just a little more rough around the edges. And she expects Higgins to be that way from first meeting, so he makes sense to her, therefore she's more comfortable around him. But Thornton is a different story. Plus I wonder if she's not already feeling a slight attraction and doesn't really understand it or know what to do with it, so it comes out antagonistically. If that makes sense?

Compare the two moms we’ve seen in the story.

Well, so far Mrs. Hale is very frustrating to me. While I can sympathize with her sickness, whatever it may be, I don't like that she's not really a mother to Margaret. I don't think she's a bad person, I just think she's allowed her sadness and regret to turn into bitterness and it's kind of all I can see whenever she's in the scene.

Mrs. Thornton on the other hand, absolutely dotes on her son. I do enjoy watching the two of them together, they have a wonderful relationship. But she's far from perfect. Her love for her son and her pride at all that he's raised them to has blinded her to being able to truly see him objectively. And she could certainly learn to have a little more gentleness with other people. Plus (and this gets more clear the further in the story we go) I think she's so enamored of her son that she's kind of neglected her daughter slightly.

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

The south is much more relaxed and even-keeled and the north is fast-paced and constantly moving. Basically the country vs. the city. The city has lots more people in a small space, so it's much more obvious in being able to see the differences between the rich and the poor.

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

Yes, because he clearly was unable to live with his present circumstances. He chose to stick to his standards, even though he knew it would be difficult.

What are your feelings on Frederick’s situation?

It's very sad. He can never see his family again or they him. And they all miss him so very much! I can't imagine having to go through that.

What are your thoughts on the master and worker relationship?

It's intriguing! It's one of the aspects that I really enjoy about this story. And I love that we are privy to both sides, so I tend to sympathize with both. Neither side makes all the right choices though and I wish they had a better understanding of one another. (Communication, people! ;) Watching the push and pull between them is fascinating, they all need each other really. The mills couldn't operate without workers and the workers need somewhere to make money so they can live. Finding a balance isn't easy. It also resonates because these are things that we still deal with today. Humans haven't changed much over the years!

January 7, 2015

Cute Couples :: Edition Two

Clear back in 2013 I wrote a post about some of my favorite fictional couples. Since then I have read many more books and discovered many more sweet romances. So I thought it was high time I updated my list! Fun, right? (Who doesn't love a cute romantic moment or three between some of your favorite characters?! ;)

Gen & Attolia :: The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner

40159I confess I wasn't entirely sure about these two at first. But The King of Attolia completely won me over! I read a post somewhere recently that talked about how much more we enjoy Gen and Attolia's romantic moments when we look at them through someone else's eyes. Usually that takes away from my enjoyment of a fictional relationship, but not this time. Somehow, through Costis' eyes, we get an even more intimate and true view of how much they love and care of one another than I think we would ever get were either of them telling the story. This couple's understanding of one another is amazing. They're just lovely. Trust me! You need to meet these two! :)

Gideon & Gwyneth :: The Ruby Red trilogy by Kerstin Gier

These two are just cute. There's no other word for them. For all their immaturity and tendency toward insta-love, I could not help but grin at every single sweet moment between them! They're adorable together.

13206760Wolf & Scarlet :: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Don't get me wrong, Cinder and Kai are wonderful. But these two? These two have my heart. And they better get a lot more page time in Winter, Ms. Meyer! I desperately need more Wolf and Scarlet happiness!

Kai & Elliot :: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

I love these two about as much as I love their original counterparts, Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth from Jane Austen's Persuasion. Not quite, but close! Watching them reconnect is simply lovely and countless rereads of this book later, I still squeal inside when I read the last couple chapters. Ah, loveliness indeed! :)

12820360Philip & Marianne :: Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

I have one word for you: swoonworthy. That is Philip in a nutshell. A perfect gentleman who realizes Marianne's worth upon first meeting and subsequently manages to steal her heart and mine as well!

Vidanric & Meliara :: Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith

From start to finish, this couple goes through so many adventures and heartaches. But their story is completely perfect for them. For all the ups and downs they cause one another, it just makes their ending that much sweeter. I love these two!

Oliver & Hadley :: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

10798416I have read this book so very many times and never get tired of watching this couple find their way. It only took me the first chapter to decide I was going to like these two and I was right! I love it when that happens. ;)

Mr. Knightley & Sam :: Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

These two are simply perfect for each other. Perfect! I love every second of their story. Neither ever expected to find someone who understood them and watching them stumble and circle around and finally find their happy ending is captivating!

Cole & Lexi :: The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

I dare you to read this book and not get swept away in the adventure and romance that awaits you! Cole and Lexi are wonderful. And the story that entwines around them is SO worth reading!

15839984Ignifex & Nyx :: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Creepy and romantic, that's what these two are. Both are scarred and hurting and never once believing that the other will be the means for their healing. Beautifully written, their story still makes me *happy sigh*. They just work perfectly together!

So! Any cute couples you'd recommend to me? :)


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