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Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

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Thank you to Jill at Fizzy Thoughts for offering up a read-a-long of the classic, Little Women.  While I read this in High School, and once I believe about 4 or 5 years back, I tried my hand at the audio version narrated by Kate Reading (AWESOME!).

SO I am going to believe that most of you have read Little Women at some point in your life and for those of you who have not I am also going to believe you at least know what the story is about…. either way, I am going to give you a little synopsis, Sheila style:

It is the mid 1800’s and the 4 March sisters (thus the March read along… so clever!) Meg the oldest, Josephine “Jo”, tomboy just as tomboy was considered cool for girls, Beth – quiet and reserved, and the youngest Amy – beautiful and a little snooty; all live with their mother “Marmee” and Hannah the servant.  “Pa” March is absent for much the first part of the book as he is a chaplain in the war, so Marmee runs the household and the girls.

The girls shortly after the book opening meet their neighbor Theodore “Laurie” Lawrence who is between the two older girls ages.  He becomes fast friends with all of them  especially Jo as she is like having another boy to run and have adventures with.

The book goes on to share each girls stories of growing up and  their trial and errors along the way.  Meg is humble, but admits to wishing she had lovelier things – later she becomes a disgruntled wife for a time due to… hmmmm…. over protectiveness perhaps growing up?  Jo, who really is the main protagonist seems to struggle the most with her own identity – finding herself frequently in trouble for her blunt mouth, her constant mess of clothes as she can not keep anything clean and her desire to write or not write… or write…. as the book goes on.  Beth is sadly in poor health most of the book and may go down as the longest death scene at least in my bookish history (more on that later) and you really never get to know her as she is such a quiet mouse in the corner of the book. Amy is in my opinion snooty (until much later in life) and feels herself beyond an impoverish life always wanting nice things for herself and wanting to be socially above her current class.

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My silly thoughts along the way.  First off – the audio was a fantastic way to go on this one.  Kate Reading (narrator) really did make it enjoyable and a new way to experience the book.  I am not sure I will ever feel the need to read this one again, but I am happy to say I have read it and listened to it now. 

I have always said it is kind of fun to pick on classics.  In most cases they are so different then the way we live in today’s society while we can appreciate them…. we could not (I could not) live that kind of life.

Marmee is both wise and overbearing.  Her life lessons to the girls which I am sure at the time spoke to the young ladies who read the book back in the day, caused me to eye roll more than once.  Ever patient, ever kind – just once I wanted Mrs. March to let her hair down and really give the girls what for….

“Meg, quit whimpering in that exhausting way as you sit on your butt all day!”

“Jo, seriously think before you speak and start thinking of a future that does not involve spinsterhood and living with your parents until you die… or we die… or the world implodes.”

“Beth…ok, I can’t yell at you because you are sick but girl, what has happened that you can never pull out of this illness?”

“And Amy, pull the stick out of your butt and quit acting like you are so much better than what we can give.  You pompous brat do you not see that you have a family who loves you, relatives who dote on you and I am guessing a good deal more than many other girls your age.  Also – burning Jo’s book?  I could send away for someone to spank you for that if I am too weak to do it myself.”

Whew that felt good.  Beth’s death scene that started with scarlet fever at the age of 14 and continues as she never quite gets her hearth back and eventually succumbs at the age of 19.  FIVE YEARS.  The girl is sick for FIVE YEARS.  It drug on and on. 

And on.

And on.

:shock:

Jo I have to say was a brilliant character for the time and I love that people for the most part have found her to be the favorite of the March sisters even though she was by no means the prettiest or the most successful.  This pleases me because I love strong women characters and Jo seems to be a character ahead of her time, not feeling she needs a man to make her whole and until much later in the book, content to be on her own. Of all the characters Jo is said to be the character that Louisa May Alcott had written as her self and the others as her three sisters, and you see that again in the book The Lost Summer of Louise May Alcott (fiction) which I has just read earlier this year.

I admit I was happy to see that the initial publishing of Little Women was broke later into two books: Little Women and Good Wives as I felt the story did go on to long….  I have never read Little Men (1871) or Jo’s Boys (1886) but I am am not ruling out that I someday might. 

Overall – kudos to Louisa May Alcott who wrote a book almost a century and a half ago that told of a strong independent woman in a very Christian like setting.  I like that Marmee did not try to change go into more of a lady as I would suspect would be the “thing to do” at the time. 

The book is truly a brilliant read and I highly suggest that each of you take the time if you have not already to read it in your lifetime. 

Thank you to Jill at Fizzy Thoughts as I believe this was her brain child to do this read a long and if not for that push, I doubt if I would have ever picked up the book again.

I will be adding this as part of the weekly meme, Sound Bytes at Devourer of Books

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The Shining by Stephen King (Shine On Read-A-Long)

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Ok, here is how this happened.  I was nosing around Jill (Softdrink) Fizzy Thoughts blog last month and seen she was hosting a read-a-long for The Shining.  THE SHINING!  A movie I had seen forever ago but had never read the book.  And if that wasn’t enough… oh yes, she offered more…. Jill offered to send these snazzy glasses to anyone who cared to join her on this journey to the Overlook Hotel (insert spooky music here).

Well… of course I was in.

For those of you who don’t know the basic story line, here it is… Sheila style:

Jack Torrance applies to be the winter custodian for the Overlook Hotel in Colorado.  Jack who is trying to make amends for many things (being Jack for one) looks at this as a chance for he and his family to get a bit of a fresh start as the Overlook is quite empty during the winter months, hard to get to even by snowmobile and communication to the outside world – even by phone is not reliable.

Although Jack is warned of the dangers of being so isolated for months at a time, he jumps at the chance to take the job.  He is a recovering alcoholic, a want to be play writer, and time with his wife and young son Danny might just be, in Jack’s mind anyway, the cure to all his problems.

The Overlook Hotel carries past haunts of its own, having been the scene of hideous murders.  Being trapped anywhere for months on end is probably not cool, but a large spooky hotel with corridors you do not want to go down and of course that creepy room #237 is enough to drive anyone a little crazy… like Jack for instance…

As time passes Jack becomes more and more distant, pulling away from his already fragile family and in the end… well lets just say Jack… is not the nicest guy on the planet.  In fact… he is a little nutters.  You can blame the hotel if you want to but I think Jack was packing peanuts before he ever arrived at the Overlook.

My book thoughts.  While it was fun to read the book that brought on one of Stephen Kings most famous movies, I don’t think I would have got into it the book as much had I not had already seen the movie.  The Jack in the book did not come across as frightening as Jack Nichols did as Jack in the movie.  (I am not a big fan of Jack Nichols acting but I must say… he do do creepy well… and yes, I know… I said do do.  ;)

The Jack in the book to me came off as a little spineless, a little greasy.  His demons owned him, obviously but he couldn’t go peacefully into the night… no, he has to take his wife and child with him. 

Yes it was creepy, the topiary hedges I remember in the movie but seemed to play an even larger role here in the book, I think I even got a little chill while reading about them.

In my high school years I read a lot of King and as I moved into my twenties I left him for a lighter version by moving on to Dean Koontz, and then eventually lighter yet to Harlan Coben (who I still love and read everything he writes).  While I used to devour Kings books, The Shining was not one I had read and I am glad to say that I have now.  

I just read this morning on Jill’s blog that a sequel (WHAT????) is coming of the Shining called Dr. Sleep, which will have to do with Danny (the little boy in the book) all grown up.  EEP.  Now I am even more happy that I read this one as knowing there was a sequel coming I would have had to pick this one up first.  (Unwritten Sheila rule). 

If you are interested in doing a read-a-long, pop over to Fizzy Thoughts where up for March is Little Women.  I already have picked this up on audio and I am in… all in.  I wonder what I can do for that picture… perhaps a bonnet?  :lol:

Final thoughts on The Shining:  It was good, not great.  A fairly fast read and has peaked my interest in King again.  I may need to rent the movie for the full effect. 

Morning Meanderings… I have taken a SHINING to this book…

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Good morning.  Here we are the last day of January and my month was an excellent one for reading and audio.  More on that later…

A few days ago I decided to join in on the #Shineon Read-a-long of The Shining by Stephen King hosted by Jill at Fizzy Thoughts.  I think it will be a fun adventure in King, who other than my listening to 11-22-63 last year, I have not read since I was a teenager and it will be interesting to see what I think of his older writing now.

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There was a time I enjoyed King very much and his movies too… in fact the Shining was creepy spooky good but again, I have not seen it in a long time.  If you care to join in on the read-a-long, use the link above to check it out, we have all of February to read it and it’s not a very large book. 

Today I work and I am also taking care of my hubby who had dental surgery yesterday and is recovering at here at home.  Tomorrow I will be sharing with you my latest TV addiction… :razz:

Have you ever read Stephen King?  If so, what is your favorite book you have read by him?  I would have to say that 11-22-63 is by far my favorite all time King read.

The Bel Canto Party Is Here!!! Come One, Come All!!!

Welcome!  Welcome!  Come on in, the door is open wide and you are invited to come in.  May I take your coat?  The champagne is to the left and waiters are about with tasty hor duerves.  Be sure to head into the main lounge before too long as the party is about to begin.

I am very excited about chatting up Bel Canto with all of you.  If you read it for the read a long (YAY!) or you read it some time ago, you are welcome to join in the fun and conversation that is happening here today.

Bel Canto comes from a term meaning “beautiful singing” and is an opera term.  Bel Canto has won many awards including The Orange Prize for fiction, Faulkner Award and Amazons Best Books Of The Year Award in 2001.

Here are some questions to ponder for the discussion…

1.  What makes Bel Canto Work?  What is it about this book that draws you in and makes you imagine what if… and what would you do.

 

2.  If Ann Patchett’s book feasible – could this really ever happen.  Why or why not?

 

3.  What do you think is the authors motive for writing this story?

 

4.  What does Roxanne Cross bring to the book?  Why is her character so central?

 

5.  Was anyone to blame for what happened when the party was taken over and everyone became hostages?  What precautions were missing?

 

6.  Did you like the way the story was told, a narration of someone looking back and telling of past events.  Would it have been better told from a present perspective – why or why not?

 

7.  Would you recommend Bel Canto to others?  Why or why not.

 

 

Feel free to respond to any or all of the above questions and add your own thoughts and questions as well.   A linky has been set up for those who have also reviewed the book so please add your review to the link provided.  Those who link their reviews of this book will receive an entry for a couple of Bel Canto party giveaways – relevant comments on this post that add to the discussion will receive one entry per relevant comment.  I will announce winner on Tuesday morning.

The giveaways for this post are as follows:

 

Prima Bel Canto Fabric Flowers (set of 6)

 

 

A new copy of Ann Patchett’s book RUN

 

Link your reviews here:

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The Bel Canto Read – A Long Party!

So… Bel Canto is a book that intrigues me although I have never read it.  I like the thought of the book the possibility of the book makes me feel as though all could be right in the world and oh that makes me happy….

The synopsis:

In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. His hosts hope that Mr. Hosokawa can be persuaded to build a factory in their Third World backwater. Alas, in the opening sequence, just as the accompanist kisses the soprano, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.

Among the hostages are not only Hosokawa and Roxane Coss, the American soprano, but an assortment of Russian, Italian, and French diplomatic types. Reuben Iglesias, the diminutive and gracious vice president, quickly gets sideways of the kidnappers, who have no interest in him whatsoever. Meanwhile, a Swiss Red Cross negotiator named Joachim Messner is roped into service while vacationing. He comes and goes, wrangling over terms and demands, and the days stretch into weeks, the weeks into months.

With the omniscience of magic realism, Ann Patchett flits in and out of the hearts and psyches of hostage and terrorist alike, and in doing so reveals a profound, shared humanity. Her voice is suitably lyrical, melodic, full of warmth and compassion. Hearing opera sung live for the first time, a young priest reflects:

Never had he thought, never once, that such a woman existed, one who stood so close to God that God’s own voice poured from her. How far she must have gone inside herself to call up that voice. It was as if the voice came from the center part of the earth and by the sheer effort and diligence of her will she had pulled it up through the dirt and rock and through the floorboards of the house, up into her feet, where it pulled through her, reaching, lifting, warmed by her, and then out of the white lily of her throat and straight to God in heaven.  ~Amazon

I actually own three copies of the book and yes, like I mentioned before…I have never read it.  Yet I own three copies because every time I see it at a sale, I am reminded that I want to read this… and I think, it is going to speak to me and therefore I am ready with additional copies to gush to my friends that it is a must read and hey don’t sweat finding it because I have a copy right here…. or, something like that.  :razz:

Now I am inviting you to experience Bel Canto with me.  It is a different read a long for me because while loved by some, others have found it to be unreal and impossible.  And yet, here I am asking you to take the Bel Canto leap with me. 

All participants are invited back here on September 13th for an all day discussion/party/ giveaway.  To participate fill out the form below, grab the button above and write your Bel Canto participation post and invite others to join us as well. 

Rebecca Read-A-Long (Party With Rebecca Party!!!)

Welcome to the “Party With Rebecca” Party…. “SSSQQQQUUUEEE!”  Thank you to everyone who joined me on this adventure of reading Rebecca.  This was my first time through this book!

Here is how todays party will work:

For those of you who link your reviews and thoughts today and tomorrow you will receive one entry to win, the link to add your posts is below where it says click here.  Participating in the discussion (if you read and reviewed the book or not)will earn you one extra entry per relevant comment.

Since this is a party… we have some fun party gifts– if you link your review that gives you one entry… for participating in the discussion questions you will get a second entry.


Whats up for the giveaway?

Written by the author of Rebecca

DVD of Rebecca

Here are some bookish thoughts to get our discussion rolling…

1. Du Maurier admitted that her heroine has no name because she could never think of an appropriate one—which in itself is a telling comment. What effect does it have on the novel that the new Mrs. De Winters has no first name?

2. What kind of character is our heroine—as she presents herself at the beginning of her flashback? Describe her and her companion, Mrs. Hopper.

3. What kind of character is Maxim de Winter, and why does a man of his stature fall in love with the young heroine? What draws him to her?

4. The heroine describes Maxim thus: “His face…was arresting, sensitive, medieval in some strange inexplicable way…rob him of his English tweeds, and put him in black, with lace at his throat and wrists, he would stare down at us in our new world from a long distant past—a past where men walked cloaked at night, and stood in the shadow of old doorways, a past of narrow stairways and dim dungeons, a past of whispers in the dark, of shimmering rapier blades, of silent, exquisite courtesy.” Why is this an apt description? In other words, how does it set the tone and foretell the events of the novel?

5. In what way does the relationship between the young heroine and Maxim change during the months after their arrival to Manderley?

6. What role does Mrs. Danvers play in this story—in her relationships to the characters (dead and alive) and also in relation to the suspense within the novel?

7. What is the heroine led to believe about Rebecca? In what way does the dead woman exert power over Manderley? At this point, what are your feelings about the new Ms. de Winter? Are you sympathetic toward her plight…or impatient with her lack of assertion? Or are you confused and frightened along with her?

8. What is the heroine’s relationship with Maxim’s sister Beatrice and her husband Giles? What about the advice Beatrice offers the heroine? ?

9. Both Beatrice and Frank Crawley talk to the heroine about Rebecca. Beatrice tells the heroine, “you are so very different from Rebecca.” Frank Crawley says that “kindliness, and sincerity, and…modesty…are worth far more to a man, to a husband, than all the wit and beatufy in the world.” What are both characters trying to convey to the heroine…and how does she interpret their words?

10. What are some of the other clues about Rebecca’s true nature that the author carefully plants along the way?

11. How might the costume ball—and the heroine’s appearance in Rebecca’s gown—stand as a symbol for young Mrs. de Winter’s situation at Manderley?

12. Were you suprised by the twist the plot takes when Rebecca’s body is found…and when Maxim finally tells the truth about his and Rebecca’s marriage? Did the strange details of plot fall into place for you?

13. How, if at all, do Maxim’s revelations change your attitude toward him? Did you feel relief upon first reading his confessions? Can you sympathize with his predicament, or do you censure his actions? What do you think of the heroine’s reaction? In her place, how might you have reacted?

14. How does this new knowledge alter the heroine’s behavior and her sense of herself?

15. After Favell threatens to blackmail him, Maxim calls on Colonel Julyan. Why? Why does Maxim act in a way that seems opposed to his own best interests?

16. In the end, what really happened to Rebecca? What is the full story of her death? Is it right that Maxim is absolved of any crime? Was he caught in an untenable position? Was Rebecca simply too evil—did she end up getting what she deserved?

17. How do you view the destruction of Manderley? Is it horrific…or freeing…or justified vengeance on Rebecca’s part? Would the De Winters have had a fulfilling life at Manderley had it not burned?

18. Now return to the beginning of the book. How would you put into words, or explain, the sense of loss and exile that permeates tone of the opening? (You might think about a spiritual as well as physical exile.)

 

(in the comments – you may answer as many or as few as the questions you like as well as add your own questions to the discussion.)

Here is where you can link up your Rebecca Reviews:

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The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A few weeks ago I hosted a read-a-long for this classic book.  For me, this was my first time experiencing it, for a few that read a long, it was their first time as well.  Here are my thoughts, on The Secret Garden…

~Sheila

Mary Mary, quite contrary how does your garden grow? 

When Mary Lennox is orphaned she is moved away from everything she ever knew and relocated to her uncle’s home in Yorkshire.  It doesn’t take long for all those around to see that Mary is not the most agreeable child in the world.  Through her lonely days in her new home, Mary explores the large home with many rooms.. searching for the crying sounds she hears but no one can tell her what it is.  When she finally does venture outside she meets Dickon, a mysterious boy who tells her of a secret garden… one that has not been entered in many many years. 

Mary’s adventures outdoors leads her not only to the garden, but into a magical world for her to explore with talking animals and adventures beyond her imagination!  Suddenly, Mary’s demeanor changes as the garden blooms her into a whole new girl….

Would you dare enter? Would your life ever be the same if you did?

Why did I want to read this?  I feel like I missed the boat on many of the great reads that many people read in high school.  None of the greats were required reading where I went to school, and honestly in a way I feel cheated.  I have been trying to implement the classics into my reading diet… and thus… this book :D

The Secret Garden was what I had hoped it would be.  This story was one of innocence and a time when kids did not sit in front of a tv show or a video game but actually got outside and used their imaginations.  I enjoyed Mary, even when she wasn’t the most likable and I think that was because she had potential.  When she meets her cousin and he is just as pouty and unpleasant as she is (probably even more so). To see them work together and help one another is a pretty sweet part of the book and the discover y of the garden and how the garden itself heals people….

well, honestly the message is a powerful one.

I enjoyed the read and I am so thankful so many joined me in this reading of a classic that I can happily now cross off my to be read list. 

I think this book should be on every child’s book shelf.  The Secret Garden is a book that truly is meant to be read.

I listened to this book on audio and really enjoyed Victoria Mcgee’snarration.

Be sure to see our discussion we had on this book and the other reviews from the read a long.

Rebecca Read-A-Long June 12 – July 17

Confession – Rebecca is a book I have never read, have wanted to for some time now and am going to do it in the next month.

If you are interested in doing this read a long with me it is open to those who have not read it before, and to those who feel they may be due for a re-read.

Then… on July 17 here, we are going to have a “Party with Rebecca party” ! You will have a chance to link your reviews and there will be an online book discussion here, as well as giveaways!

Want in?

Please grab the button above and either 1) write a post with the “woo hoo” I am going to do this read a long!  or 2) add this button to your sidebar or 3) both!

Please fill out this form if you are planning on participating:

 

And link up your Participation post here (where you write a post saying you are going to do this readalong and invite others to pop in here and join as well :D  :

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Morning Meanderings… Audio, A Trip, and Garden Party Wrap Up

Good morning!  :D  Hope you all are finding your Friday morning to already be delightful… the sun is actually out here so I am hoping for a lovely day which I need in order to finish our lawn :D

This will be a rather sporadic post this morning.  I am usually off on Fridays but this next week while I am away is a big one for a kids camp that I usually help with, a big meeting that I normally do the set up for… BEA pushing back one week this year has put me where I am today – going into work to do some more prep work and hopefully I can be done by noon.  I have not packed yet, I want to get my nails done, prep some food for my hubby here, and pack for my bike ride that will take place right after I return from BEA – RIGHT AFTER as in that bag needs to be in my vehicle.  :D

In a completely random side ways conversation… my audio book order came in from bookcloseouts.com… Each of these was around $3.00 each:

YAY!!!  My summer listening is going to be AWESOME!!!

And finally, if you missed out on the garden party here yesterday for our read a long, Secret Garden, you missed some wonderful party conversations!  I, was late to my own party with a heavy schedule yesterday but caught up with all of you at the end and had a chance to chat with each guest so I feel it was a success.  I have not made it around to all the posts yet, but I will – later today. :D

There were some winners from the Secret Garden read a long and using random.org while I sit my coffee this morning they are as follows:  

Winner of the Secret Garden DVD:

Ryan from Wordsmithonia!!!

 

Winner of the book, Little Lord Fauntlerot, also by Francis Hodgson Burnett:

Faith Hope and Cherry Tea from Tea Room

 

 the garden supplies:

Allie from A Literary Odyssey

 

and the $5 Amazon Gift Card goes to:

Robin from A Fondness For Reading

Winners please email me shipping info (no po boxes!) at journeythroughbooks@gmail.com.  Robin, I will email you your gift card.  :D

There is also a survey going on yesterdays post about what book I am going to offer up next for a June read-a-long, feel free to put your two cents in – I will announce that book and sign up info tomorrow morning.  See you all later – have a gorgeous day!  :D

Welcome To The Secret Garden Party!!!

Welcome to the Secret Garden Party…. “SSSQQQQUUUEEE!”  Thank you to everyone who joined me on this adventure of reading The Secret Garden.  This was my first time through this book and I listened to it on audio. 

Here is how todays party will work:

For those of you who have signed on to do this read-a-long and are posting your reviews and thoughts today, the link to add your posts is below where it says click here.

Since this is a party… we have some fun giveaways – if you link your review that gives you one entry… for participating in the discussion questions you will get a second entry.


Whats up for the giveaway?

A new copy of The Secret Garden DVD

 

A new copy of Little Lord Faunterleroy (also written by Frances Hodgson Burnett)

 

Garden goodies!

 

 

Here are the questions for our discussion:

1.  When Mary loses both of her parents to the epidemic, why do you feel she expresses no grief for them but is more concerned with who will now take care of her?

2.  Mary and Colin are often described as being unpleasant and rude. Martha, in fact, says Mary is “as tyrannical as a pig” and that Colin is the “worst young newt as ever was.” Why are both of these children so ill-tempered? Whom does Burnett hold responsible for their behavior—themselves or their parents? How does this fit into one of the larger themes of the novel, that of the “fallen world of adults”?

3.  Upon Mary’s first encounter with Dickon, Burnett describes the boy in this way: “His speech was so quick and easy. It sounded as if he liked her and was not the least afraid she would not like him, though he was a common moor boy, in patched clothes and with a funny face and a rough, rusty-red head. As she came closer to him she noticed that there was a clean fresh scent of heather and grass and leaves about him, almost as if he were made of them.” What is significant about this passage? Are there any particular motifs that seem to be connected specifically to Dickon?

4.  Why do you feel Mr. Craven has avoided his son Colin so?  In the end, is Craven worthy of Colin’s forgiveness?

5.  What role does the robin play in the book?

6.  How does “Indian-ness” function in the novel?   How does class and status?

7.  Which characters are most strongly associated with the world of the manor house? Which characters are most strongly associated with the secret garden? What does this opposition suggest?

8.  Which narrative features were employed by the author to make The Secret Garden speak to children? Why do you think this novel appeals to an adult audience as well? What makes it a classic?

9.  Was the Secret Garden what you thought it would be?  What did you enjoy most about this read?  What do you think makes it a classic?


(in the comments – you may answer as many or as few as the questions you like as well as add your own questions to the discussion.)

*Note ever if you have not participated in this read a long please feel free to participate in the conversation and respond to the questions – one non read a long participant who joins in the discussion in the comments will receive a $5 Amazon gift card.

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All winners will be announced on Friday June 1st during the Morning Meanderings.

 

I would love your input on what our next party should be… please vote!

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