Anne of Green Gables Read-Along: Chapters 7-9

#LainaReadsAnne is an on-going project to analyze the works of L. M. Montgomery with a modern eye and a particular eye to queer themes. Find my other posts here!
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(Link to Twitter thread) Chaper Seven: Anne Says Her Prayers

When we closed the last chapter, Marilla had decided to allow Anne to stay but not to tell her til the next day. She now goes in to tell Anne it’s time for bed.
Unlike last night, tonight Marilla tells Anne that she must pick her clothes up each night and fold them on the chair, not leave them on the floor. Honestly this kind of confirms to me that she was being gentler with Anne because she could tell Anne was so upset.
The secret soft spots of Marilla Cuthbert could be a whole essay in itself lol.

She is, however, horrified to hear that Anne has never prayed before bed. This is one of the parts of the book that is really Christian-heavy, just FYI.

Anne has gone to Sunday school at the asylum, but she has “never cared about” God since Mrs Thomas told her He made Anne’s hair red on purpose. All her life Anne has basically told that her red hair makes her bad or worth less than others, so that’s a lot to hear. Reminder that she is 11 years old and for most of her life has been raising other peoples’ children and is a victim of neglect and very likely abuse, but sure, SHE’S the bad one.
I’m not religious, but I do find this scene interesting anyways. Anne talks about how if she really wanted to pray, she’d go out into nature and look up at the sky to feel close to God. This is very true to Montgomery’s experience, I think. She later married a minister, but some of her very important moments in her faith weren’t in church or anything. She often spoke of something she called “the flash”. Montgomery often went for walks alone in nature, and she’d describe a moment of tranquility and clarity where she was inspired by the feeling of a higher spiritual power running throughnature.
Anne’s feelings are pretty clearly inspired by that. It’s interesting because I don’t think this kind of thing would really be considered proper? But while people have interesting responses, it’s framed similarly to other things Anne do that we’re supposed to approve of even if others around her don’t.
VERY MUCH not my area of expertise, but an interesting scene.

Marilla is too embarassed to teach Anne “Now I lay me down to sleep” like she had planned, thinking it doesn’t really suit her at all.

I also kinda like this line. Anne “knew and cared nothing about God’s love, since she had never had it translated to her through the medium of human love.” I like that Marilla blames people for not treating her well?
Like I don’t think every child needs to be raised with religion in their life, but Marilla very clearly considers it part of the foundation of child-rearing, and she feels the people in Anne’s life have failed her on that. And I do think it’s nice that she doesn’t think that Anne should just have magically figured this out on her own and been perfectly pious when the world and people were being terrible to her. It just feels more fair somehow.
You know what I think it is? It’s that it’s about peoples’ actions, not just what they say.
Anne basically ad-libs a prayer, and Marilla says goodnight and leaves. When she gets downstairs, she is super riled up and glares at Matthew, and she’s now even more certain of her decision to keep Anne. According to Marilla, Anne CLEARLY needs people in her life to help her not be almost a heathen and it’s about time someone adopted her.
Frankly I think Marilla is just glad to have a plan again, and that she can be in control of something. I think she likes having a “problem” to solve, too.
Honestly of religious things I’ve read, this chapter is by far not the worst. Montgomery injects enough humour into this (Marilla being so flustered) that even though it’s not my thing, it’s fun to read.
(Link to Twitter thread) Chapter Eight: Anne’s Bringing-up is Begun
It’s the next day, and Marilla still hasn’t told Anne she’s staying. She’s not really sure why. Maybe she’s nervous, even.

She has been having Anne do chores all morning though – not to the extant of the other people she lived with. Just normal chores. Like, Anne’s 11 and she’s just moved to a farm. A certain amount of work was expected of children that age back then, and really should be of most kids now, and she’s not raising peoples’ children or anything.

Marilla concludes that Anne is “smart and obedient, willing to work and quick to learn”, but she has a tendancy to stop to daydream in the middle of a task.
Two side notes here. One, forenoon” is a cool word. Means morning. Two, is this a thing in the US too where the means used to be “breakfast, dinner, supper”? Lot of older people here still call the noon-time meal “dinner”. So I’ll probably say “dinner” as they use it in these threads, fyi.
After washing the dinner dishes, Anne breaks down and begs just to know if she can stay or not. Not knowing either way is killing her, which, SAME. It me for real. Marilla FINALLY tells her yes, and Anne happy cries. Which has never happened to her before in her life.
Marilla doesn’t approve of this, lol. And it’s not that she doesn’t feel things – she’s just a more private person emotionally. Marilla very much keeps her emotions inside and doesn’t display them very much. 
Anne worries about being good enough because Mrs Thomas told her she was “desperately wicked”. Like a lot.

And again I hate these women so much.

Since it’s only two weeks til summer vacation, Anne won’t be starting school til September. I don’t know when summer breaks used to be, but it does make me feel like this is around mid-May since like. You’d want June free because kids would be working, right?
This part is quite interesting. Marilla isn’t big on being called “Miss Cuthbert”. Most people in Avonlea don’t call her that, and she doesn’t want Anne to, either. Anne, however, worries very deeply that just plain Marilla is disrespectful.
This is something I really get. When I grew up, I didn’t call adults “Miss” or “Mr” anything besides teachers, but also no one TOLD me what to call them so I kinda just didn’t say names at all for most adults. When I worked at the library, I would always introduce myself as my first name to the kids I worked with, but their parents sometimes called me “Miss (MyName)” and I didn’t mind that or anything.
However, I think I’ve talked before about how when I’m emailing (i.e. mostly querying) I really dislike when people decide I’m a “Ms” without asking. Makes me really uncomfortable. But also I know that my perspective is like. Like I’m white, clearly. And I know that definitely changes things as to what’s respectful, culturally and also location based? 
The attitude of the book is almost a modern attitude, though. Marilla says that if you speak respectfully, there’s nothing disrespectful about calling someone by their name if that’s what they want you to call them. Like I said, almost a modern attitude!
Marilla also does not like the idea of Anne calling her “Aunt Marilla”, as she doesn’t believe in “calling people names that don’t belong to them”, and this leads into Anne being rather shocked that Marilla isn’t big on imagining things.
We go a bit religious again as Marilla decides Anne should learn the Lord’s Prayer instead of winging it at night. Anne does go off on a tangent here and Marilla says when she tells Anne to do something, she should do it and not ramble on. This is one of those things that sounds harsh but honestly isn’t unreasonable. They live on a farm! Sometimes you need to do things in a timely manner. Like… milk the cows… or something. I do not live on a farm.
Plus, what about emergencies?
ather demonstrating this point, when sent to get something from another room, Anne immediately gets distracted by a picture in the sitting room. It’s called “Christ Blessing Little Children” which seems to be kind of a popular title for paintings. I don’t think it’s meant to be important which specific painting it is, if it’s a real one, more that Anne is very drawn to it. 
Marilla mildly scolds her for being “irreverant” when she talks about how Jesus is depicted in it. You can tell Marilla isn’t really angry though. Anne thinks that pictures of Jesus shouldn’t make him look so sad because if he really looked like that, children would have been afraid of him.
Which is kind of an interesting idea tbh???
And I can see how so much of the religion stuff can get a bit old, but at this point I like the idea that they might allow Anne to explore religion in her own way a bit, and see things a little differently. Might not play out that way, but there’s the hints.
Anne likes the Lord’s Prayer because it makes her feel like poetry does, and also she memorizes it in a couple minutes? How long is that thing, is that impressive? I’m not familiar with it. Like, Anne can memorize something I assume is semi-long in just a few minutes and then immediately gets distracted by the flowers on the table. We also know she used to borrow the older girl’s books at the asylum.
At the very least, we can say she’s probably not being challenged academically enough, yeah???

Also, about said flowers, it’s a jugful of apple blossoms that Marilla “eyed (…) askance” but didn’t comment on when Anne brought them inside. Marilla soft spot again

Poor Marilla is trying to get Anne to focus but it is a lost cause because Anne has moved on to wondering if she’ll ever have a “bosom friend” – a best friend. A kindred spirit. @soveryqueer, even.
Marilla mentions Diana Barry, but says Mrs Barry “won’t let Diane play with any little girl who isn’t nice and good”. Anne is just grateful to learn Diana has black hair and not red. She’s seriously messed up about the hair Marilla, meanwhile, thinks it’s more important that Diana is “good and smart”, but Anne is very delighted she’s pretty and deeply hopes they’ll be friends
Okay look. I realize history changes how we view things.

But if you look at a girl who immediately asks if another girl is pretty and gets all dreamy over the fact that she is – a modern lens reads that as a touch queer. Please enjoy that queer subtext.

Then Anne shares about the imaginary friends she made up as a child to try and alleviate her loneliness and it’s beautifully written, but it’s one of those things you look at as an adult and just feel bad for her. She was SO lonely. And I suspect that this is one of those things that is very much based on Montgomery’s childhood. Though she grew up near cousins, she was also alone very often as her grandparents were not affectionate people, and she was very imaginative as a result.
Marilla doesn’t approve of all the imagining and thinks it’ll be good for Anne to have a real friend. This is a small thing that really does show how differently she intends to treat Anne than the other women. Living with them, Anne didn’t have time for friends.
Though Marilla expects Anne to do chores around the house, she also thinks that Anne will have time to play and be a normal kid. She’s raising a child to be responsible, not keeping a child… I’ll say “servant” with heavy sarcasm.
I also think it’s interesting to point out that Anne still feels safe telling Marilla about her daydreams even though Marilla doesn’t really approve. She tells her things she wouldn’t tell other people, even. She already trusts her.
Marilla realizes Anne can’t concentrate (lol) and sends her to her room to finish memorizing the one line of the prayer she didn’t have down. Anne finishes on the stairs and instead ends the chapter daydreaming. It’s much happier, though, and not just an escape.
(Link to Twitter thread) Chapter Nine: Mrs Rachel Lynde is Properly Horrified
Remember Mrs Rachel Lynde from the first chapter? After Anne has been at Green Gables for two weeks, she’s arrived to… snoop, basically, because she’s nosy. She’s been unable to do so until now due to “grippe” aka the flu.
Also it’s probably June now.

Anne has been exploring Green Gables and the surrounding area and is seriously in love with the nature, which is described wonderfully. She has time to play like a normal kid, and that might be a first for her.

She talks the ears off Matthew and Marilla about what she sees. Matthew enjoys her chatter and Marilla permits until she finds “herself becoming too interested in it” which is kind of adorable.
Mrs Rachel spends a great deal of time talking to Marilla about her illness in great detail. And it’s so funny how the narrative clearly doesn’t like her. Mrs Rachel asks if they couldn’t send Anne back. Marilla says probably, but they decided not to because Matthew took a fancy to her. And Marilla admits that though she has her faults, the house seems different already and Anne is a “bright little thing”.
Marilla didn’t actually mean to say all that, but she saw the disapproval in Mrs Rachel’s eyes.

Another piece of evidence for that “Secret Soft Spots of Marilla Cuthbert” essay.

Mrs Rachel tries to fearmonger more about how “a child like that” will turn out ending with “but I don’t want to discourage you”. Marilla dryly responds that she’s not discouraged, and says, “When I make up my mind to do a thing, it stays made up.” Which is basically what I’ve been saying for a while. That is very much one of the foundations of Marilla’s personality.
Anne comes in from playing and Mrs Rachel, having heard how much they like this child and how highly they think of her, immediately calls her ugly.

Lovely woman. Should go meet up with a Mrs Thomas and Mrs Hammond. I’m sure they’d get along wonderfully.

The narrative gets sarcastic here in the best way possible. “Mrs Rachel was one of those delightful and popular people who pride themselves on speaking their mind without fear or favour.”

Buuuuuurn.

Also, seriously, you’re going to insult her for being skinny? She’s an ORPHAN. Maybe take a hint that she hasn’t had enough to eat over her life.
This is a part I really don’t like. Anne calls her “fat and clumsy” and the narrative describes her as “always waddling”. If it’s not okay for Mrs Rachel to insult Anne for her weight, then it’s not okay for Anne to insult Mrs Rachel for HER weight. It’s just very unnecessary.
Anne is reasonably angry though! She declares she hates Mrs Rachel and asks how dare she be so rude.
Also reasonably, Marilla sends Anne to her room. Then, rather unexpectedly (to herself), she scolds Mrs Rachel for insulting Anne’s looks! Marilla says Anne needs to have a talking to, but Mrs Rachel WAS too hard on her.
And this I think is again very reasonable. Anne really can’t go around yelling at everyone who insults her, because, unfairly or not, she will get a reputation that way. Yeah it kinda sucks, but that is kind of part of Marilla’s responsibilities in raising a child, is teaching her this kind of stuff.
(Child death/child abuse tw) Mrs Rachel has “brought up ten children and buried two” and she suggests whipping Anne with a birch switch instead of the talking-to Marilla has planned.

Charming.

Mrs Rachel leaves in a huff and Marilla goes to talk to Anne.

Marilla is more embarassed than anything and has no idea how to punish Anne. She points out Anne has called herself everything Mrs Rachel said. Anne replies there’s a difference between saying a thing yourself and having others say it because you hope others don’t think it so. 

Suddenly Marilla remembers a time when she overheard an aunt say, “what a pity she is such a dark, homely little thing”. It’s a memory that has taken until she was fifty to not hurt so much. She admits Mrs Rachel wasn’t right in saying what she did, but Anne can’t be rude back. 
Again, I don’t think this is unreasonable.
There’s a time and a place for everything. Anne’s temper can be a tool when something really unjust is happening, but if you fly off the handle every time someone insults you even a little, people are going to judge you for that. And maybe that’s not that unfair? If someone calls you a name and you beat them up, say, you’re not in the right because you were insulted. 
And honestly Anne needs to learn the balance.
As punishment, Marilla decides that Anne must go and apologize to Mrs Rachel and ask for her forgiveness. This is a very fitting punishment because it’s the absolute last thing Anne wants to do. And this is a relatively small stakes thing!
I actually think this is a pretty good example? Almost a natural consequence. If Anne has to apologize to a neighbour to smooth things over, and really doesn’t like that, maybe it’ll make her think about whether the next time is WORTH losing her temper.
Anne very dramatically says she can’t. Seriously, she says they can lock her in a damp, dark dungeon with toads and snakes before she’ll do it! Marilla dryly says they’re not in the habit of doing that and dungeons are scarce in Avonlea so she’ll stay in her room
Marilla leaves Anne in her room and she’s as angry with herself as with Anne because every time she remembers the look on Mrs Rache’s face, she finds herself wanting to laugh about it.

And that’s where we end the chapter!

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Book Blogger Hop (29)

The Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer from Crazy-For-Books and is now hosted by Billy of Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.

This week’s question is: Do you use NetGalley, Edelweiss, both, or neither?

My answer: Wow, lots of questions about ebooks this month. I use Edelweiss, and fairly regularly at that. Sorta. I’m kind of a mess.

I technically have NetGalley but I constantly forget my login and that’s annoying, and in general I am not a fan. I’ve been approved for things that I couldn’t actually download to my kindle and I don’t think it’s fair that technical issues can mess up your “approval rating”. Edelweiss doesn’t really have anything like that, as far as I know, and I much prefer it.

Also, as someone who doesn’t live in the US, I have way better odds of getting approved for books on Edelweiss than on NetGalley.

Thanks for reading!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Can’t Wait Wednesday (50)

can't wait wednesday threeCan’t Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa of Wishful Endings. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, which was created by Jill Breaking the Spine.

The Lost by Natasha Preston

Release date: April 2nd, 2019
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): In the small town of Aurora, teens go missing all the time. But when one of Piper and Hazel’s classmates disappears, they become determined to find out the truth of what happened to her.

While investigating, they meet three handsome and rich grad students…who kidnap them. The girls are taken to a building in the middle of a privately-owned forest. The building isn’t just designed to keep them locked away—every room is a test in survival. And Piper and Hazel won’t give up without a fight.

The part where I talk: I love me a good thriller, and I really like the idea of the girls fighting together in this kind of situation.

What book are you looking forward to this week?

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Book Blogger Hop (28)

The Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer from Crazy-For-Books and is now hosted by Billy of Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.

This week’s question is: Do you buy all your books? If yes, do you keep it all? If no, where do you source them?

My answer: Oh gosh no! I hardly buy any new books. Your girl has a budget and it’s not a budget of hundreds of dollars a year for books. Most of the books I read are either from the library or were bought secondhand, with a chunk coming as review books. When I do buy new books, they’re usually ebooks that are on a really good sale. And normally from friends for that, too, because I wanna support them.

If you’re ever curious about where a book I read comes from, I always say it in the write-up when I talk about it. It’s a lot of library, lol. Especially when I read a lot of comics. Those are expensive!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Can’t Wait Wednesday (49)

can't wait wednesday threeCan’t Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa of Wishful Endings. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, which was created by Jill Breaking the Spine.

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

Release date: April 2nd, 2019
Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): On the edge of town a beast haunts the woods, trapped in the Gray, its bonds loosening…

Uprooted from the city, Violet Saunders doesn’t have much hope of fitting in at her new school in Four Paths, a town almost buried in the woodlands of rural New York. The fact that she’s descended from one of the town’s founders doesn’t help much, either—her new neighbours treat her with distant respect, and something very like fear. When she meets Justin, May, Isaac, and Harper, all children of founder families, and sees the otherworldly destruction they can wreak, she starts to wonder if the townsfolk are right to be afraid.

When bodies start to appear in the woods, the locals become downright hostile. Can the teenagers solve the mystery of Four Paths, and their own part in it, before another calamity strikes?

The part where I talk: You know, I’m not always the biggest fantasy person, but I always read the summaries of upcoming fantasy books and want to read them so bad despite that. I’m such a sucker, and this one is no exception.

What are you all excited to read this week?

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Things I’ve Read Recently (86)

If you’re new around here, Things I’ve Read Recently is a series of posts I do that are basically mini-reviews of books that I either forgot to review, didn’t have enough to say for a full review, or just didn’t want to do a full post about for whatever reason.

Shadows Cast by Stars by Catherine Knuttson

Published: June 5th, 2012 by Atheneum
Genre: YA Dystopian
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count:
Part of a series? Not as far as I know.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Two hundred years from now, blood has become the most valuable commodity on the planet— especially the blood of aboriginal peoples, for it contains antibodies that protect them from the Plague ravaging the rest of the world.

Sixteen-year-old Cassandra Mercredi might be immune to Plague, but that doesn’t mean she’s safe— government forces are searching for those of aboriginal heritage to harvest their blood. When a search threatens Cassandra and her family, they flee to the Island: a mysterious and idyllic territory protected by the Band, a group of guerrilla warriors— and by an enigmatic energy barrier that keeps outsiders out and the spirit world in. And though the village healer has taken her under her wing, and the tribal leader’s son into his heart, the creatures of the spirit world are angry, and they have chosen Cassandra to be their voice and instrument…

Thoughts: I only have like 20 minutes to write this because I procrastinated, and also I’ve had a little bit of wine, so excuse my rushing but let’s get this done. I read that this had some problematic elements re: the Metis representation, so I’m going to link to Debbie Reese’s review for that part, and just talk about other things, for fairness’ sake and not to be a jerk and all that.

I have mixed feelings about this. I liked it for some things, but others frustrated me. First, I gotta say this and maybe it’s a spoiler but I gotta say it: The main character and her boyfriend in this have sex, and it’s the first time she has sex, in a lake. A lake. While swimming. I can’t with that.

This also has some weird slutshaming/”not like other girls” stuff, and honestly I have trouble with Cass having no motivation that involves herself. Like, I don’t mind that she cared deeply about her brother and he was important to her, but almost everything she does is because she wants to help him or protect him or whatever. There’s so little time spent on her motivations that she almost doesn’t matter at all.

There’s also some other kinda gross implications. At one point someone basically implies that Cass is responsible for her boyfriend not drinking, and a really weird subplot about this dude who’s kind of threatening towards Cass in a slightly rapey way, and how he could be a good person if he changed for her because that’s totally her job? And despite the first paragraph of the book mentioning sexual orientation, there’s no queer people. At all.

And for how long of a book it is, the worldbuilding is not the best. I was left confused about just what things were. Because they basically immediately leave the dystopian setting to return to the “Old Ways”, ninety percent of the book doesn’t feel like it has any kind of futuristic setting. The book says they live in “The Corrider” and they have a chip in their arm that connects them to society, and then like 2 pages later they cut them out and leave and it doesn’t really come up again. There’s also inconsistency (Cass says warm springs sometimes bring bees, and then later says she hasn’t seen bees since she was a child) and the ending leaves the book very open, and even unfinished. There’s so many questions left unanswered, really big ones.

However, a lot of this is very interesting. I thought for the most part the prose was good (though the plot dragged a bit in the middle) and the… I’m going to follow the book’s lead and say spiritual elements were really well written. They could really be both beautiful and unnerving at times.

So, mixed feelings over all on this one. I wanted to read a book for the month’s challenge from a Canadian author, and I wasn’t feeling contemporary, and I got that, but I didn’t love it.

God Smites and Other Muslim Girl Problems by Ishara Deen

Published: January 15th, 2017 by Deeya Publishing Inc.
Genre: Contemporary YA
Binding: Paperback
Page Count:
Part of a series? Everything seems to suggest there will be more, but I haven’t seen an announcement of book two.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Author’s website with other links

Summary (from goodreads): LIKE NANCY DREW, BUT NOT…

Craving a taste of teenage life, Asiya Haque defies her parents to go for a walk (really, it was just a walk!) in the woods with Michael, her kind-of-friend/crush/the guy with the sweetest smile she’s ever seen. Her tiny transgression goes completely off track when they stumble on a dead body. Michael covers for Asiya, then goes missing himself.

Despite what the police say, Asiya is almost sure Michael is innocent. But how will she, the sheltered girl with the strictest parents ever, prove anything? With Michael gone, a rabid police officer in desperate need of some sensitivity training, and the murderer out there, how much will Asiya risk to do what she believes is right?

Thoughts: I liked this a lot. This is somewhat younger in tone for YA. There’s some talk of sex and stuff, and it’s done in a… somewhat immature way? Not immature in a bad way, just in a way I think accurately reflects how a younger teen may feel.

I had a few complaints like some borderline fatmisia and a use of “opposite sex”, but overall this one is mostly just cute and fun. It’s set in a suburb of Toronto, which was really cool, and I really liked Asiya’s relationship with her family and her faith. They’re both very important to her, and it shows. And I thought it was a nice touch to show that she actually prays quite a bit. Not every YA character who’s religious has to do so, but having her talk to God as much as she did, often even quite casually, was quite an interesting addition to her portrayal.

There’s also a twist in this with the mystery that I did not even remotely see coming, and I really hope there’s more books in this series, because I’d read more. I recommend this one, and I especially think readers who are transitioning from MG to YA would like it.

Good for Nothing by Michel Noel

Published: First published in 2004, my edition is from September 20th, 2006, by Groundwood Books
Genre: Contemporary YA
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 320 plus a publisher’s note.
Part of a series? Nope.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): The year is 1959, and fifteen-year-old Nipishish returns to his reserve in northern Quebec after being kicked out of residential school, where the principal tells him he’s a good-for-nothing who, like all Indians, can look forward to a life of drunkenness, prison and despair.

The reserve, however, offers nothing to Nipishish. He remembers little of his late mother and father. In fact, he seems to know less about himself than the people at the band office. He must try to rediscover the old ways, face the officials who find him a threat, and learn the truth about his father’s death.

Thoughts: I don’t know about this one. It certainly was interesting, but I don’t think it was my thing. I’m not sure if it’s a translation thing or a cultural difference in storytelling techniques, but I found it a bit strange how though this was told from Nipishish’s POV, he often narrated what people were doing when he wasn’t around and even what they were thinking. It’s almost an omniscient narrator situation, even though it’s a first person POV.

Not gonna lie, also, to buy into love stories/romances in books, I do generally need the people to have known each other for more than an hour before deciding to get married at sixteen. Maybe that’s just picky.

Overall, this was interesting and it was definitely something different from what I normally read, but I didn’t super love it or anything. However, I’m still glad I read it, as it’s good to switch up what I would normally read.

A Lady’s Lesson in Scandal by Meredith Duran

Published: June 8th, 2011 by Pocket Star
Genre: Historical Romance
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 385 plus some ads at the back
Part of a series? I don’t think so.
Got via: Book sale maybe? It doesn’t have any library markings on it, but expecting me to remember where every romance in my house came from is too much, I’m afraid.
Amazon / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): When Nell Whitby breaks into an earl’s house on a midnight quest for revenge, she finds her pistol pointed at the wrong man—one handsome as sin and naked as the day he was born. Pity he’s a lunatic. He thinks her a missing heiress, but more to the point, he’ll help her escape the slums and right a grave injustice. Not a bad bargain. All she has to do is marry him.

A rake of the first order, Simon St. Maur spent his restless youth burning every bridge he crossed. When he inherits an earldom without a single penny attached to it, he sees a chance to start over—provided he can find an heiress to fund his efforts. But his wicked reputation means courtship will be difficult—until fate sends him the most notorious missing heiress in history. All he needs now is to make her into a lady and keep himself from making the only mistake that could ruin everything: falling in love…

Thoughts: Recently I got a new bookcase and that caused me to clean some books out places they’d been hiding, and I realized I own a whole lot of romance novels I keeping meaning to read but haven’t been doing so. I also just kind of miss reading it, so when I was sorting the books I meant to read soon (it’s a thing I do), I pulled some of those as well, including this one.

Not my favourite, I’ll admit. It didn’t help that it started with using the word “queer” to mean “strange” on page seven, a trend that would occur at least nine times in less than four hundred pages. Yes, I realize that it’s historically accurate for the time period this is set in, but as an actual queer person, I find it unnecessary and distasteful for an (as far as I can tell, cis, allo, and straight) author to use the term that way.

This is also one where there’s rather a lot of dehumanizing and stigmatizing about sex work. Like the author had to go out of their way to say that the heroine could never ever, and then later the hero goes to a party where there are a multitude of sex workers and do you think one of them gets even a name? That’s just frustrating.

I also found it super annoying how judgemental Nell is. Girl, you work in a factory where they won’t let you have windows and it killed your mother due to how toxic the air is. Are you seriously going to harass the maid about the fact that she has to “duck her head and bob like a slave” (and seriously, white author, is bringing up slavery your lane here?) because wow does she have a lot better a gig than you do. While she’s eating three meals a day and sleeping in a warm bed, at least you’ll have your dignity to keep you company while you shoo the rats away from the bread and consider eating them (and I am not exagerating that, that’s a thing she talked about doing). How dare you insult someone for working and also insult people for not working enough for your liking? Is dying from factory work the only acceptable way for people to live for you?

Also like, was the fat shaming really necessary? Twice?

Just kind of meh on this one overall, but definitely interested in reading more romance in general.

Wow, this was more negative than I meant it to be. I swear I didn’t read all these in a row or anything. Other books I read and liked more just went in other posts.

What have you all been reading lately?

Peace and cookies,
Laina

 

Book Blogger Hop (27)

The Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer from Crazy-For-Books and is now hosted by Billy of Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.

This week’s question is: Have you made the switch from print to e-books? Is either one exclusive?

My answer: I have a kindle and I use it, but I do prefer print. I don’t read a ton in ebook, but I do read some, especially review books. It’s not my favourite, but it gets the job done. I would not switch completely though.

Ebooks just take longer to read and that can get a little frustrating. Plus, dead tree books don’t have their battery die. Though, my kindle doesn’t blow out my wrist from being a heavy hardcover or set off my allergies with dust, so everything has its pros and cons!

Thanks for reading me, whatever device you’re reading on!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Can’t Wait Wednesday (48)

can't wait wednesday threeCan’t Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa of Wishful Endings. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, which was created by Jill Breaking the Spine. Buy links include affiliate links, where I can earn a small commission if you purchase through them.

The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum

Release date: March 19th, 2019
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Ryann Bird dreams of traveling across the stars. But a career in space isn’t an option for a girl who lives in a trailer park on the wrong side of town. So Ryann becomes her circumstances and settles for acting out and skipping school to hang out with her delinquent friends.

One day she meets Alexandria: a furious loner who spurns Ryann’s offer of friendship. After a horrific accident leaves Alexandria with a broken arm, the two misfits are brought together despite themselves—and Ryann learns her secret: Alexandria’s mother is an astronaut who volunteered for a one-way trip to the edge of the solar system.

Every night without fail, Alexandria waits to catch radio signals from her mother. And its up to Ryann to lift her onto the roof day after day until the silence between them grows into friendship, and eventually something more…

The part where I talk: How pretty is this cover? It also sounds really good, and also queer, so like I’m kind of here for it already.

Summer of a Thousand Pies by Margaret Dilloway

Release date: April 16th, 2019
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): When twelve-year-old Cady Bennett is sent to live with the aunt she didn’t even know she had in the quaint mountain town of Julian, she doesn’t know what to expect. Cady isn’t used to stability, or even living inside, after growing up homeless in San Diego with her dad.

Now she’s staying in her mother’s old room, exploring the countryside filled with apple orchards and pie shops, making friends, and working in Aunt Shell’s own pie shop—and soon, Cady starts to feel like she belongs. Then she finds out that Aunt Shell’s pie shop is failing. Saving the business and protecting the first place she’s ever really felt safe will take everything she’s learned and the help of all her new friends. But are there some things even the perfect pie just can’t fix?

The part where I talk: Hey this is blue, too. Kinda matches! That was an accident, lol.

I really like the sound of this. Probably gonna make me cry, but that’s okay.

What are you looking forward to this week? Not just in books. Tell me something in March you’re looking forward to happening.

Peace and cookies,
Laina

MG Review: The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane

35402204The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane by Julia Nobel

Published: To be released March 5th, 2019 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Genre: MG Mystery
Binding: eARC
Page Count: 320 and I’m pretty sure that’s right because for some reason my eARC had all the even page numbers in it. Just the even ones.
Part of a series? Yes.
Got via: I requested it on Edelweiss
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Emmy’s dad disappeared years ago, and with her mother too busy to parent, she’s shipped off to Wellsworth, a prestigious boarding school in England. But right before she leaves, a mysterious box arrives full of medallions and a note reading: These belonged to your father.

Just as she’s settling into life at Wellsworth, Emmy begins to find the strange symbols from the medallions etched into the walls and stumbles upon the school’s super-secret society, The Order of Black Hollow Lane. As Emmy and her friends delve deeper into the mysteries of The Order, she can’t help but wonder—did this secret society have something to do with her dad’s disappearance?

Review: This didn’t work for me. It had a fun premise, but it did not follow through and I spent a lot of the book annoyed at it lack of originality. Look, a lot of books are going to take inspiration from Harry Potter, especially in middle grade, because it changed the landscape of middle grade, but holy cow this had way too many moments that made me think of HP. There were at least two scenes that were basically identical to scenes in HP1.

And like, at this point there are some tropes and things that have become part of middle grade, and I don’t think it was on purpose or anything, but that was a little much for me. It’s not copying, but it’s not original. Beyond that, the plot isn’t great. Nothing is particularly resolved when the book is done, and all the information about the Order, this apparently big, scary secret society is info-dumped right at the very end. It makes it seem super unthreatening when you have no idea what their power is until the very end.

Emmy also frustrated me at times. She’s not very quick on the uptake sometimes and the book even points this out at one point which honestly makes it more frustrating because if you’re noticing this why don’t you fix it and not make it so that she doesn’t realize two people with the same accent, hair colour, and last name are related. Like I know she’s a kid, but kids are smarter than this and it’s almost a little insulting.

The characters are honestly rather bland. They’re very basic and I didn’t connect to them. Also Emmy’s roommate is such a girl-hate stereotype. She likes clothes and shoes and nail polish and isn’t that just so annoying because those things are so not important?

And by the way I do not think there would be enough nail polish in a single bottle to glue several pages of a textbook together. There’s like 15mL in a standard bottle of nail polish, sometimes less. That’s not that much! It’s just so exaggerated and mean. I swear, any kid who reads this and likes to paint their nails is going to feel gross about reading how often this book insults them for it.

I also found the book’s attempts at diversity… lacking. There are exactly two characters of colour (who are related). One is Emmy’s friend Jack, who of course has his skin colour pointed out when we meet him. He is the only person in the book who has his skin colour stated. It’s really awkward, honestly, especially when Emmy feels like it’s appropriate to say that he and his brother don’t look anything alike since his brother looks so much lighter than him.

Standard “arcs are subject to change” thing, but this is the quote.

Emmy looked back at the boy. His skin and hair were so much lighter than Jack’s. It was hard to believe they shared the same DNA. “He doesn’t really, um, I mean, you don’t exactly look like alike.”

Have you never heard of step-siblings and adoption, Emmy? That’s just rude. And he’s completely okay with her asking this for some reason!

Cover comments: It’s fine. Fits the book well enough. I have no real opinions on it either way. I like illustration covers so it’s cool.

Conclusion: This just frustrated me. Middle grade has so much potential and there are so many books coming out in 2019 in middle grade that are doing exciting and important things and this is disappointing because it’s just so standard-fare. It doesn’t do anything special for me at all. I honestly feel kind of bad that I’m being so harsh on this one, because I really did want to like it, but I just didn’t. Two roses since the prose was mostly fine.

Buy links include affiliate links, and I can earn a small commission if you purchase through them.

Peace and cookies,

Laina

Anne of Green Gables Read-Along: Chapters 7-9

At some point I’ll probably figure out an intro to this, but I can always edit that in.

(Link to Twitter thread) Chapter Seven: Anne Says Her Prayers

When we closed the last chapter, Marilla had decided to allow Anne to stay but not to tell her til the next day. She now goes in to tell Anne it’s time for bed. Unlike last night, tonight Marilla tells Anne that she must pick her clothes up each night and fold them on the chair, not leave them on the floor.

Honestly this kind of confirms to me that she was being gentler with Anne because she could tell Anne was so upset. The secret soft spots of Marilla Cuthbert could be a whole essay in itself lol.

She is, however, horrified to hear that Anne has never prayed before bed. This is one of the parts of the book that is really Christian-heavy, just FYI.

Anne has gone to Sunday school at the asylum, but she has “never cared about” God since Mrs Thomas told her He made Anne’s hair red on purpose. All her life Anne has basically been told that her red hair makes her bad or worth less than others, so that’s a lot to hear. Reminder that she is 11 years old and for most of her life has been raising other peoples’ children and is a victim of neglect and very likely abuse, but sure, SHE’S the bad one.

I’m not religious, but I do find this scene interesting anyways. Anne talks about how if she really wanted to pray, she’d go out into nature and look up at the sky to feel close to God. This is very true to Montgomery’s experience, I think. She later married a minister, but some of her very important moments in her faith weren’t in church or anything. She often spoke of something she called “the flash”. Montgomery often went for walks alone in nature, and she’d describe a moment of tranquility and clarity where she was inspired by the feeling of a higher spiritual power running through nature.

Anne’s feelings are pretty clearly inspired by that.

It’s interesting because I don’t think this kind of thing would really be considered proper? But while people have interesting responses, it’s framed similarly to other things Anne does that we’re supposed to approve of even if others around her don’t. VERY MUCH not my area of expertise, but an interesting scene.

Marilla is too embarassed to teach Anne “Now I lay me down to sleep” like she had planned, thinking it doesn’t really suit her at all.

I also kinda like this line. Anne “knew and cared nothing about God’s love, since she had never had it translated to her through the medium of human love.” I like that Marilla blames people for not treating her well? Like I don’t think every child needs to be raised with religion in their life, but Marilla very clearly considers it part of the foundation of child-rearing, and she feels the people in Anne’s life have failed her on that.

And I do think it’s nice that she doesn’t think that Anne should just have magically figured this out on her own and been perfectly pious when the world and people were being terrible to her. It just feels more fair somehow. You know what I think it is? It’s that it’s about peoples’ actions, not just what they say.

Anne basically ad-libs a prayer, and Marilla says goodnight and leaves. When she gets downstairs, she is super riled up and glares at Matthew, and she’s now even more certain of her decision to keep Anne. According to Marilla, Anne CLEARLY needs people in her life to help her not be almost a heathen and it’s about time someone adopted her.

Frankly I think Marilla is just glad to have a plan again, and that she can be in control of something.
I think she likes having a “problem” to solve, too.

And that’s the end of the chapter!! We might do another tonight – we’ll see what else I get done today. Honestly of religious things I’ve read, this chapter is by far not the worst. Montgomery injects enough humour into this (Marilla being so flustered) that even though it’s not my thing, it’s fun to read.

(Link to Twitter thread) Chapter Eight: Anne’s Bringing-up is Begun

It’s now the next day, and Marilla still hasn’t told Anne she’s staying. She’s not really sure why. Maybe she’s nervous, even.

She has been having Anne do chores all morning though – not to the extant of the other people she lived with. Just normal chores. Like, Anne’s 11 and she’s just moved to a farm. A certain amount of work was expected of children that age back then, and really should be of most kids now, and she’s not raising peoples’ children or anything.

Marilla concludes that Anne is “smart and obedient, willing to work and quick to learn”, but she has a tendancy to stop to daydream in the middle of a task.

Two side notes here. One, forenoon” is a cool word. Means morning. Two, is this a thing in the US too where the means used to be “breakfast, dinner, supper”? Lot of older people here still call the noon-time meal “dinner”. I’ll probably say “dinner” as they use it in these threads, fyi.

So after washing the dinner dishes, Anne breaks down and begs just to know if she can stay or not. Not knowing either way is killing her, which, SAME. It me for real. Marilla FINALLY tells her yes, and Anne happy cries. Which has never happened to her before in her life.

Marilla doesn’t approve of this, lol. And it’s not that she doesn’t feel things – she’s just a more private person emotionally.  Marilla very much keeps her emotions inside and doesn’t display them very much.

Anne worries about being good enough because Mrs Thomas told her she was “desperately wicked”. Like a lot. And again I hate these women so much.

Since it’s only two weeks til summer vacation, Anne won’t be starting school til September. So I don’t know when summer breaks used to be, but it does make me feel like this is around mid-May since like. You’d want June free because kids would be working, right? Editing Laina: It’s confirmed to be June by the book in later chapters.

This part is quite interesting. Marilla isn’t big on being called “Miss Cuthbert”. Most people in Avonlea don’t call her that, and she doesn’t want Anne to, either. Anne, however, worries very deeply that just plain Marilla is disrespectful.

This is something I really get. When I grew up, I didn’t call adults “Miss” or “Mr” anything besides teachers, but also no one TOLD me what to call them so I kinda just didn’t say names at all for most adults. When I worked at the library, I would always introduce myself as my first name to the kids I worked with, but their parents sometimes called me “Miss (MyName)” and I didn’t mind that or anything.

However, I think I’ve talked before about how when I’m emailing (i.e. mostly querying) I really dislike when people decide I’m a “Ms” without asking. Makes me really uncomfortable. But also I know that my perspective is like. Like I’m white, clearly. And I know that definitely changes things as to what’s respectful, culturally and also location based?

The attitude of the book is almost a modern attitude, though. Marilla says that if you speak respectfully, there’s nothing disrespectful about calling someone by their name if that’s what they want you to call them. Like I said, almost a modern attitude! Marilla also does not like the idea of Anne calling her “Aunt Marilla”, as she doesn’t believe in “calling people names that don’t belong to them”, and this leads into Anne being rather shocked that Marilla isn’t big on imagining things.

We go a bit religious again as Marilla decides Anne should learn the Lord’s Prayer instead of winging it at night. Anne does go off on a tangent here and Marilla says when she tells Anne to do something, she should do it and not ramble on.

This is one of those things that sounds harsh but honestly isn’t unreasonable. They live on a farm! Sometimes you need to do things in a timely manner. Like… milk the cows… or something. I do not live on a farm.

Plus, what about emergencies?

Rather demonstrating this point, when sent to get something from another room, Anne immediately gets distracted by a picture in the sitting room. It’s called “Christ Blessing Little Children” which seems to be kind of a popular title for paintings. I don’t think it’s meant to be important which specific painting it is, if it’s a real one, more that Anne is very drawn to it.

Marilla mildly scolds her for being “irreverant” when she talks about how Jesus is depicted in it. You can tell Marilla isn’t really angry though. Anne thinks that pictures of Jesus shouldn’t make him look so sad because if he really looked like that, children would have been afraid of him.

Which is kind of an interesting idea tbh???

And I can see how so much of the religion stuff can get a bit old, but at this point I like the idea that they might allow Anne to explore religion in her own way a bit, and see things a little differently. Might not play out that way, but there’s the hints.

Anne likes the Lord’s Prayer because it makes her feel like poetry does, and also she memorizes it in a couple minutes? How long is that thing, is that impressive? I’m not familiar with it. Like, Anne can memorize something I assume is semi-long in just a few minutes and then immediately gets distracted by the flowers on the table. We also know she used to borrow the older girl’s books at the asylum. At the very least, we can say she’s probably not being challenged academically enough, yeah???

Also, about said flowers, it’s a jugful of apple blossoms that Marilla “eyed (…) askance” but didn’t comment on when Anne brought them inside. Marilla soft spot again.

Poor Marilla is trying to get Anne to focus but it is a lost cause because Anne has moved on to wondering if she’ll ever have a “bosom friend” – a best friend. A kindred spirit. A @soveryqueer, even.

Marilla mentions Diana Barry, but says Mrs Barry “won’t let Diane play with any little girl who isn’t nice and good”. Anne is just grateful to learn Diana has black hair and not red. She’s seriously messed up about the hair. Marilla, meanwhile, thinks it’s more important that Diana is “good and smart”, but Anne is very delighted she’s pretty and deeply hopes they’ll be friends

Okay look. I realize history changes how we view things.

But if you look at a girl who immediately asks if another girl is pretty and gets all dreamy over the fact that she is – a modern lens reads that as a touch queer.

Please enjoy that queer subtext.

Then Anne shares about the imaginary friends she made up as a child to try and alleviate her loneliness and it’s beautifully written, but it’s one of those things you look at as an adult and just feel bad for her. She was SO lonely. And I suspect that this is one of those things that is very much based on Montgomery’s childhood. Though she grew up near cousins, she was also alone very often as her grandparents were not affectionate people, and she was very imaginative as a result.

Marilla doesn’t approve of all the imagining and thinks it’ll be good for Anne to have a real friend. This is a small thing that really does show how differently she intends to treat Anne than the other women. Living with them, Anne didn’t have time for friends. Though Marilla expects Anne to do chores around the house, she also thinks that Anne will have time to play and be a normal kid. She’s raising a child to be responsible, not keeping a child… I’ll say “servant” with heavy sarcasm.

I also think it’s interesting to point out that Anne still feels safe telling Marilla about her daydreams even though Marilla doesn’t really approve. She tells her things she wouldn’t tell other people, even. She already trusts her.

Marilla realizes Anne can’t concentrate lol and sends her to her room to finish memorizing the one line of the prayer she didn’t have down. Anne finishes on the stairs and instead ends the chapter daydreaming. It’s much happier, though, and not just an escape. Gosh this was a lot to talk about in this chapter! And again, not actually a lot happening plotwise but it certainly doesn’t feel boring, hey?

(Link to Twitter thread) Chapter Nine: Mrs Lynde is Properly Horrified

So, remember Mrs Rachel Lynde from the first chapter? After Anne has been at Green Gables for two weeks, she’s arrived to… snoop, basically, because she’s nosy. She’s been unable to do so until now due to “grippe” aka the flu. Editing Laina: Like actual influenza – it was quite serious.

Also it’s probably June now. Editing Laina: Probably almost July.

Anne has been exploring Green Gables and the surrounding area and is seriously in love with the nature, which is described wonderfully. She has time to play like a normal kid, and that might be a first for her. She talks the ears off Matthew and Marilla about what she sees. Matthew enjoys her chatter and Marilla permits until she finds “herself becoming too interested in it” which is kind of adorable.

Mrs Rachel spends a great deal of time talking to Marilla about her illness in great detail. And it’s so funny how the narrative clearly doesn’t like her. Mrs Rachel asks if they couldn’t send Anne back. Marilla says probably, but they decided not to because Matthew took a fancy to her. And Marilla admits that though she has her faults, the house seems different already and Anne is a “bright little thing”. Marilla didn’t actually mean to say all that, but she saw the disapproval in Mrs Rachel’s eyes.

Another piece of evidence for that “Secret Soft Spots of Marilla Cuthbert” essay.

Mrs Rachel tries to fearmonger more about how “a child like that” will turn out ending with “but I don’t want to discourage you”. Marilla dryly responds that she’s not discouraged, and says, “When I make up my mind to do a thing, it stays made up.”

Which is basically what I’ve been saying for a while. That is very much one of the foundations of Marilla’s personality.

Anne comes in from playing and Mrs Rachel, having heard how much they like this child and how highly they think of her, immediately calls her ugly. Lovely woman. Should go meet up with a Mrs Thomas and Mrs Hammond. I’m sure they’d get along wonderfully.

The narrative gets sarcastic here in the best way possible. “Mrs Rachel was one of those delightful and popular people who pride themselves on speaking their mind without fear or favour.”

Buuuuuurn.

Also, seriously, you’re going to insult her for being skinny? She’s an ORPHAN. Maybe take a hint that she hasn’t had enough to eat over her life.

This is a part I really don’t like. Anne calls her “fat and clumsy” and the narrative describes her as “always waddling”. If it’s not okay for Mrs Rachel to insult Anne for her weight, then it’s not okay for Anne to insult Mrs Rachel for HER weight. It’s just very unnecessary.

Anne is reasonably angry though! She declares she hates Mrs Rachel and asks how dare she be so rude. Also reasonably, Marilla sends Anne to her room. Then, rather unexpectedly (to herself), she scolds Mrs Rachel for insulting Anne’s looks! Marilla says Anne needs to have a talking to, but Mrs Rachel WAS too hard on her.

And this I think is again very reasonable. Anne really can’t go around yelling at everyone who insults her, because, unfairly or not, she will get a reputation that way. Yeah it kinda sucks, but that is kind of part of Marilla’s responsibilities in raising a child, is teaching her this kind of stuff.

(Child death/child abuse tw) Mrs Rachel has “brought up ten children and buried two” and she suggests whipping Anne with a birch switch instead of the talking-to Marilla has planned.

Charming.

Mrs Rachel leaves in a huff and Marilla goes to talk to Anne. Marilla is more embarassed than anything and has no idea how to punish Anne. She points out Anne has called herself everything Mrs Rachel said. Anne replies there’s a difference between saying a thing yourself and having others say it because you hope others don’t think it so.

Suddenly Marilla remembers a time when she overheard an aunt say, “what a pity she is such a dark, homely little thing”. It’s a memory that has taken until she was fifty to not hurt so much. She admits Mrs Rachel wasn’t right in saying what she did, but Anne can’t be rude back.

Again, I don’t think this is unreasonable.

There’s a time and a place for everything. Anne’s temper can be a tool when something really unjust is happening, but if you fly off the handle every time someone insults you even a little, people are going to judge you for that. And maybe that’s not that unfair? If someone calls you a name and you beat them up, say, you’re not in the right because you were insulted.

And honestly Anne needs to learn the balance.

As punishment, Marilla decides that Anne must go and apologize to Mrs Rachel and ask for her forgiveness. This is a very fitting punishment because it’s the absolute last thing Anne wants to do. And this is a relatively small stakes thing!

I actually think this is a pretty good example? Almost a natural consequence. If Anne has to apologize to a neighbour to smooth things over, and really doesn’t like that, maybe it’ll make her think about whether the next time is WORTH losing her temper.

Anne very dramatically says she can’t. Seriously, she says they can lock her in a damp, dark dungeon with toads and snakes before she’ll do it! Marilla dryly says they’re not in the habit of doing that and dungeons are scarce in Avonlea so she’ll stay in her room

Marilla leaves Anne in her room and she’s as angry with herself as with Anne because every time she remembers the look on Mrs Rache’s face, she finds herself wanting to laugh about it.

And that’s where we end the chapter! And I’m just going to leave it here that each of these chapter recaps take at least an hour, usually more like 2 hours, to do. So if you appreciate them, maybe drop a tip in ye ol’ tip jar.