With every laptop I've had which had Ubuntu installed on it, first my Acer Aspire One and then my Dell Inspiron 15R, when I close it, it goes into suspend mode. When I open it, it attempts to power back up. Is this normal?
It's normal. You can disable the suspend on close in gnome power manager (or xfce power manager). See this.
I haven't seen an option to disable the power-on on lid open function, however apparently it can be done by editing the