North and South Read-Along Discussion Post 3 and Wrap-Up

North and South Read Along

If you haven’t checked out Suey’s blog yet, you should! She put up the final discussion questions today. There’s a linky there too so we can come read/comment on your answers to the questions!

large_free_use_twitter_illustrationThe final Twitter chat is tomorrow at 6:00 pm MST! We hope you’ll join us! Remember to use the hashtag #NorthSouthRAL during the chat.

Also, remember that Suey, Kami, and I will be having a movie party to watch the BBC mini-series of North and South. The party will be Friday, February 6 at 6 pm MST at Suey’s house! Bring a treat to share and a couple of dollars for pizza. If you’re in Utah and you want to come, let any of us know so we can give you directions to Suey’s house. And, if you’re not in Utah, join us via Twitter using #NorthSouthRAL.

We’re glad you joined us and we hope this has been a fun experience for you. It definitely has been a fun experience for me to read North and South for the first time! I especially enjoyed the interaction I had with others as they read the book too.

Here are my answers to the 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?

I personally felt like everyone died in this book, that no one was safe from Gaskell’s pen. I was waiting for Margaret and Mr. Thornton to die à la Romeo and Juliet at any minute. (I know that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but at times it really felt that way.) In order for the events to happen that did to get Margaret and Mr. Thornton together (if you can call it that), I do feel they were necessary. They humbled Margaret enough to see Mr. Thornton in a new light and get over her pride.

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

I was surprised that Henry thought he had a chance with Margaret again. It actually got on my nerves, especially since her newfound money came into play.

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

I thought that was a really interesting turn of events. I knew Margaret would inherit Mr. Bell’s money. He said so enough and I knew he had to die for Margaret to return to Milton, which she didn’t end up doing in the book. Instead, Mr. Thornton lost his fortune and came to her to get out of his lease. I didn’t think that would happen. I didn’t think the strike affected him that much. So, that was surprising.

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 don’t think it would’ve bothered her so much if it had been anyone else except Mr. Thornton. Maybe, she would’ve felt bad about lying like she thought at the beginning. But, the anguish didn’t come until she knew Mr. Thornton knew about it.

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

I think there were three things that helped her change her mind and her feelings changed over the course of them:

  1. Mr. Thornton being extremely kind to her mother while she was on her deathbed;
  2. him taking Higgins on in his factory even though he was part of the Union that caused the strike;
  3. and, her lie and how she thought it changed Mr. Thornton’s opinion of her.

But, I also think she always liked Mr. Thornton; she just didn’t want to admit it because she was too proud. I think these things helped humble her more than change her mind. Otherwise, I don’t think she would’ve protected him from the riot whatever she may say she did it for.

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 they both changed each other. They both started to understand the other side of the coin better. They realized that they had to work together not against each other as witnessed by what Mr. Thornton said at the Lennoxes near 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?

Yes, see my answer to the above question. I always saw both sides of the coin. I thought they were both too stubborn to look at each other’s point-of-view. So, no my view didn’t change.

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

I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite quote, but it hit me the most. It’s when Gaskell described Mr. Hale’s death. It’s the exact circumstances of how my mother passed away, except that my oldest sister found my mom not a servant.

“That night Mr. Hale laid his head down on the pillow on which it never more should stir with life. The servant who entered his room in the morning, received no answer to his speech; drew near the bed, and saw the calm, beautiful face lying white and cold under the ineffaceable seal of death. The attitude was exquisitely easy; there had been no pain–no struggle. The action of the heart must have ceased as he lay down.” pg. 320

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!)

No. It was way too abrupt. Nothing happened. I expected no kissing, but I thought they may at least get married. I know it’s implied, but still. So unsatisfying!

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’m going to be in the minority on this one. No, I didn’t really like the book. I didn’t hate it, but I thought it was just okay. The ending was so unsatisfying that I felt I wasted my time reading it. I liked the characters and that was its one redeeming quality to me. I also enjoyed learning why people love this book so much and doing the read-along. I hope the mini-series will change my mind.

Partying it up with Ally Condie Atlantia Style

1511606_10203562738246113_583940006415981473_oOver the years, my friends and I have befriended Ally Condie. We originally invited her to our book club for her book Freshman for President. Because no one else had really showed any interest in Freshman for President, that act endeared Ally to our group, and she has been willing to do things with our group that she’d normally not do due to her time constraints with writing and family. My friends and I threw her a party for MatchedCrossed (I wasn’t there), and Reached as well. This time, however, she invited us to her house to party it up Atlantia style.

Ally planned the party for Atlantia with the help of our mutual friend Brook. Brook is awesome at this type of stuff and she has mad skills when it comes to everything, especially party planning, decorating, and photography. We were told to dress up in turquoise, or as close to it as possible, and/or brown, and bring a book that changed our life to swap with one another.

When we got to Ally’s house, it was decked out in turquoise and all things ocean-related: shells, sand, water, starfish, etc. (Brook has also spray painted and hung some bats to represent those in Atlantia.) Ally provided yummy desserts from Kneaders for us to eat. Brook asled our friend Meagan to make a cake, and it was deliciously beautiful, almost too pretty to eat … almost. She also asked our other friend Olivia if she’d provide some of her awesome drink stirrers. (Olivia sells them at her Gnome Sweet Gnome shop on Etsy. They’re seriously way cute and add to any party’s atmosphere!)

We reminisced about our previous parties with Ally, asked our Atlantia questions, and did the book swap. Ally was gracious enough to provide a book for me to swap because I completely spaced bringing one. (I also showed up an hour early because my mind was set on the wrong time.) It was really fun to see what everyone brought as their book that changed their life.

Our friend Nancy, who’s the sweetest person in the world, always provides some gift or another for the group. This time around, she gave us a beautiful calendar showing off pictures of Hawaii’s beaches and ocean. She also came up with the idea to give Ally a necklace made with Larimar. Lori, Nancy’s daughter, explained to us that Larimar is also known as the Atlantis stone and that it can only be found on the Dominican Republic where most people believe Atlantis would’ve been if it were real.

The evening was a delight. There were lots of laughs and smiles. I’m so glad that my group of friends and I have had this chance to get to know Ally better.


Shutter by Courtney Alameda

Shutter by Courtney AlamedaTitle: Shutter
Author: Courtney Alameda(Blog, Twitter)
Genres: Horror, Romance, YA
Pages: 384
Publisher: Feiwell and Friends
Format: eARC
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Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat--a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She's aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera's technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.

When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn't exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she's faced before ... or die trying.

Lock, stock, and lens, she’s in for one hell of a week. Summary from Goodreads

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

UBI knew I wanted to read Shutter as soon as I heard about it. I mean who wouldn’t want to read about one of Van Helsing’s descendants that exorcises ghosts with a camera?! Awesome premise, right? Well, Shutter definitely didn’t disappoint!

I’m really glad I had a chance to read Shutter around Halloween to help me get into the Halloween spirit. But, I would’ve enjoyed reading it at any time of the year because I loved every minute that it took me to read Shutter. It was intense from beginning to end. The characters hardly had any time to rest and I only did because I had to put the book down to sleep! The way Courtney writes made everything very vivid in my mind. I could imagine everything she described in awesome detail.

One of my favorite things about this book played on the fact that Dracula was real and that Bram Stoker was the historian that wrote everything down instead of an author writing fiction. How cool is that?! Many of the characters are descendants from the central characters in Stoker’s novel, which made it fun. I kind of wish I had read Dracula before I read Shutter. At the very least, I’ll be reading Dracula soon.

I really liked Micheline. She was strong yet vulnerable, so she felt real instead of unbelievable. I loved Ryder and loved his Aussie-isms. I wish all leading males could be as cool as him. I really liked Jude too. He was funny, witty, and added an interesting dynamic to the group. Oliver seemed a little more aloof to me, but maybe that’s because he was the observer. He’s smart, but he just didn’t seem very observant for being as smart as he is. Maybe, he just paid attention to only the stuff he wanted to. Fortunately, the rest of the characters carried the story enough for me that he didn’t bother me at all. I just wish I could’ve got a better read on him.

I think Shutter is a very strong debut and will show the world what Courtney can do. I definitely look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

Content Warning

There is some language in Shutter. It’s not too heavy, though, and there are no instances of the F-word.


Top Ten Tuesday


This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt is “top ten books I’d love to read with my book club.” Here’s my list:


There’s only one book I’ve wanted/suggested my book club to read and no one will bite. So, it has become my life’s purpose to make this happen! Have you read Dune? If so, please tell us why would it be an awesome book to read for book club. (Negative reasons are not wanted. *wink wink*)

Atlantia by Ally Condie

Atlantia by Ally CondieTitle: Atlantia
Author: Ally Condie(Blog, Twitter, Facebook)
Pages: 298
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Format: Hardcover
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Can you hear Atlantia breathing?

For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above--of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self--and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden--she has nothing left to lose.

Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths. Summary from Dust Jacket

UBAs soon as I heard Ally Condie was coming out with another novel, I knew I had to read it. I always love her writing and the worlds she creates. Atlantia was no different.

Atlantia led me to a world underneath the sea. I enjoyed exploring it while the characters went about their lives. The world-building in this novel was poetic and beautiful, just like Ally’s writing. Everything about it made me wonder what it’d be like to live in Atlantia and whether or not I’d choose to live in the Above or the Below.

The religion Ally created for Atlantia was interesting and intriguing. I loved finding out about its truths and myths along with the main character, Rio. It created a nice venue for the dystopian setting as the society in the Below and Above were governed by the religious leaders. Some were sincere and good people and some were drunk with power.

I thought the ideas of the three miracles were especially fascinating. The bats and sirens intrigued me. I loved Ally’s portrayal of the sirens. I loved seeing the differences in each of their powers.

I liked Rio and her story. I felt bad for her and all she had to go through. I do wish Rio weren’t so secretive and distrustful so we could’ve gotten to know the others a little bit better. Because of that, I didn’t feel like I connected with enough of the characters, other than Rio and maybe True. And even then I felt like we didn’t know True very well either.

I also wish that the romance were a little more fleshed out. It didn’t seem tangible enough to make a difference to the story. Rio could’ve ended up just as really good friends with “him” to help everything happen the way it did. The book was only 298 pages, so I felt it could’ve been a little longer to help make the romance more of a difference to the story.

I’m glad I read Atlantia. It was a fun story. While I didn’t love love it, I did like it a lot for its poetic beauty and interesting premise.