Friday, 30 November 2012

Scarlet Read-Along: Weekly Link-up (4)

Chapters 14-16

The end! I really enjoyed Scarlet, but I didn't find the ending fully satisfying. Scarlet's personal journey was well done, but the story of Nottingham and its people couldn't really be resolved in one book, so there was a lot left unfinished and not everybody got the comeuppance they deserved. Looks like the author agrees, because Scarlet is now set to be a trilogy. I have mixed feelings about this: on the hand, more Scarlet = yay! But there are so many YA trilogies, it would've been nice to read a standalone.

I have to say, I really enjoyed taking part in this read-along. My life is crazy at the moment and I wasn't able to participate every day, but I did as much as I could and I had a really good time doing it. I'm really glad that, despite barely having a free moment this week, I was able to post today for the last day. I really want to thank Jess and Marie for putting together such a great event. I'll read-along again with you girls anytime!

Friday, 23 November 2012

Scarlet Read-Along: Weekly Link-up (3)

Chapters 10-13

Wow. It was almost cruel to stop reading there. I've been waiting the whole novel for Scarlet and Gisbourne to have their confrontation and they did and there were things I did not see coming. I don't want to be spoilery so I will just say two things:

1. I love the way a certain character was worked into Scarlet.

2. Scarlet and Robin MUST be together. John is fun to flirt with, but there is no contest now. Scar and Rob are epic.

I can't believe we're almost at the end. Scarlet is turning out to be one of my favourite reads of the year.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Scarlet Read-Along: Quote or teaser of the week (3)

This is the week where I really started to love Scarlet's relationship with Robin, so I want to select some quotes that show why:

I knew my heart weren't never too sure 'bout many things, but if I could, I wanted to be sure for Rob. That way when his heart stumbled, I could be sure for the both of us. (p. 113)

"It's not that I see through you," he told me. "It's that I see you. You don't want anyone to see you, but I do." (p. 114)

My fingers crushed tight into his skin, clawing him like if I could break the skin we'd be connected by blood, and I could comfort him and he could see into me without me having to speak out loud. (p. 130)

A hiccup jumped from my throat, and Rob twisted me somehow so I were tucked against his big chest, restrained like a dog. He held tight, painful tight, my breath rushing out over my teeth, and I wondered if it were me holding him or him holding me. (p. 131)

I love that there's tenderness, pain and hope in their every encounter and I'm really rooting for them both to find some inner peace and happiness, either together or apart.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Scarlet Read-Along: Who is your favourite character?

Today's task for the read-along of A. C. Gaughen's Scarlet is the easiest yet - to name our favourite character. I hate to be unoriginal, but my favourite is hands-down the leading lady herself. Scarlet is caustic and unfriendly on the outside, but inside she feels deep compassion for others and puts the safety and survival of everybody else ahead of herself. She's been damaged by her past, one we don't have quite the full details of yet, but while it affects her, it hasn't made her cruel or selfish; it's made her want to save others from whatever happened to her. 

Scarlet would not be great company on a girls' night - she's too taciturn and introverted and well, she's pretending to be a boy. But I'd love to have someone like her watching out for me and would feel safe as houses if I had her around.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Scarlet Read-Along: Weekly Link-Up (2)

So my Macbook died on me Tuesday night and I was unable to post for the Scarlet read-along on Wednesday. Luckily, I'm back in business, just in time for the weekly link-up (I literally just got the battery replaced a half hour ago. Hello internet, how I've missed you). 

Chapters 6-9

The chapters we read this week made me realise just how much I've come to care about Scarlet, because I was hopping mad at the way another character treated her, and was hoping all the merry men would bring a world of pain down on him. It's also making me sad how Scarlet hard is on herself and I wish she would realise how awesome she is. She's so badly scarred as a person; I really hope she learns to love and be loved by the end of the novel.

Things are looking pretty grim in Nottingham and we've seen a lot more of the Sheriff's cruelty in action. Right now, it's difficult to think how things can get much worse.

On the lighter side, though, I've discovered how fickle I am when it comes to fictional boys. Because you remember how last week I was Team John? The chapters this week have swung me right over to Team Robin. The scenes Robin and Scarlet have...there's a connection there that I'm not sure she can create with another boy. Plus, Robin loving Scarlet would do wonders for her self-esteem.

Looking forward to seeing what the others thought!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Scarlet Read-Along: Favourite Robin Hood

I have a feeling this is going to be a popular choice in today's Scarlet read-along task, but my favourite Robin Hood is totally the Disney one. When I was a kid, my family would rent movies every Friday night and I always asked for Robin Hood. Finally my sister put her foot down and insisted on something different, so that weekend we got Strawberry Shortcake video as well. Note I said 'as well' - actually going without Robin Hood for a weekend was out of the question; my sister was simply allowed something in addition to it.

Another Robin Hood from my childhood, which not many people outside the UK will have heard of, is Maid Marian and her Merry Men. This was a British comedy kids' show in the late 80's/early 90's where Robin Hood was depicted as a vain fool, the merry men were completely incompetent and the real hero was Marian. It was very funny, a nice slice of girl power and had a smashing theme tune:

Reading Scarlet has definitely sparked a desire in me to watch other Robin Hood portrayals. I have only vague memories of Prince of Thieves and Men in Tights, but I'm planing to revisit them as soon as possible. Any other recommendations would be much appreciated!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Scarlet Read-Along: Weekly Link-Up (1)

The task this week was to read chapters 2-5 of Scarlet and today we are posting our thoughts on what what we've read so far.

The best thing about these early chapters has been getting to know the character of Scarlet. We've been able to see what her strengths are in a fight, what her insecurities are among people and get hints of the secrets she's hiding. I like her friendship with Much and how she's trying to encourage him to be tougher. And as I'm putting the pieces together on what happened between Scarlet and Gisbourne, I'm really looking forward to having these two confront each other.

The romantic element isn't strong yet, but from what we can see, I'm Team John rather than Team Robin. Robin seems more of a paternal figure towards Scarlet, whereas her relationship with John is one of equals.

I have to say, I really wish A. C. Gaughen had included a map with this novel. (I know technically, seeing as these are real places, I could just Google a map of Nottinghamshire, but still.) The characters frequently move between towns and I've gotten confused a few times about how far away places are and what's between them. Also, even though I like Scarlet's distinctive speech, it does take some getting used to, as it's so unusual to read colloquial grammar in a novel. I bet an audiobook, with a narrater with the right accent, would be amazing.

This is as long as a review already, so I'm going to stop there! But overall, I like Scarlet, the main plot is starting to kick in and I'm looking forward to reading more.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Scarlet Read-Along: Quote or teaser of the week (1)

Today's read-along task is the simplest yet - just pick a quote from Scarlet to post. Mine is:

I did as much as I could, but it weren't like I could get everyone something every night. That seemed the cruelest part. I tried not to think 'bout the people that woke up and rushed to the door and didn't find nothing; it made my chest hurt.

The quote's from the first chapter and I think it does a great job of establishing Scarlet's humanity and compassion early on. 

Monday, 5 November 2012

Scarlet Read-Along: What do you love about Robin Hood?

Today's assignment in the Scarlet read-along is to discuss what we love about the legend of Robin Hood:

I think that characters who do bad things (stealing) for good reasons (to feed the poor) are the best kind of heroes. Let's face it, it's much more fun to read about a band of scheming rascals than it is to read about a bunch of goody-two-shoes. However, knowing that your heroes also have hearts of gold means that you don't have to feel guilty about rooting for them to win.

There are a lot good-hearted thieves in fiction, but one reason I'm particularly drawn to Robin Hood is that, although Robin and his merry men are probably mostly fictional, the legend is set in a very real time in English history; during the Crusades, the absence of King Richard the Lionheart and the rule of his brother, King John. I've heard that Scarlet does the historical fiction side of the story as well as it does the action-adventure side, which is one of the reasons I've been so eager to read it.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Scarlet Read-Along: First Thoughts

The first assignment of the read-along for A. C. Gaughen's Scarlet is to post our thoughts on the 1st chapter: 

No one really knows 'bout me. I'm Rob's secret, I'm his informant, I'm his shadow in dark places.

Scarlet definitely interested me from its opening lines; the first chapter was easy to breeze through in minutes and it made me want to read more. Scarlet's voice is written with a Northern English accent and grammar-style, which is a nice way of making her sound distinctive and it adds to the roughness of her character. It's similar to the style of The Assassin's Curse, which I'm also reading, but I think it fits better in Scarlet, as it is how characters in Nottingham would speak.

So far, Scarlet is about as soft as my two front teeth - she's very sharp-tongued and aggressive in the first chapter, but she's also putting her life on the line helping the poor, so she gets a lot of points with me. Rob will likely turn out to be her vulnerability, as Scarlet's feelings for him are already being hinted at - as are John's feelings for her. The thread that's been introduced that interests me most, though, is the idea that Scarlet has some sort of past with Gisbourne, the thief-catcher.

Right now I'm liking the spin Gaughen has put on the Robin Hood story and I'm very happy to keep reading.