Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: female-heroine
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
review SPOILER ALERT! 2014-05-01 02:23
Matched: A review
Matched - Ally Condie

Matched, first in the Matched trilogy by Ally Condie


In Cassia's world, everything you need is already decided for you by Society, in order to give you the safest, longest, healthiest, most peaceful life you can possibly have. No need for you to make any choices at all. Society will choose for you. Your mate, your job, your home, what art to view, what poems to read, what free time activities to participate in, what foods to eat, even what questions to ask, it's all taken care of for you. Any attempt to step outside of the boundaries placed on you (for your own good, of course) results in serious reprisals.

Sort of a grown up version of the classic children's novel, The Giver by Lois Lowry, this book asks many of the same questions.  At the start of the book, our heroine Cassia is a willing and happy participant in this Society. But as she gradually wakes up from her acceptance of this choice-less life, things get complicated. Are her parents truly happy? Does Society really know what is best for her? Why has she begun to develop feelings for a young man who is NOT going to be her mate in life?

Way better than a lot of what passes for YA fiction, largely due to two factors: realistically gradual paradigm shifts, and solidly strong writing. I love dystopian fiction in general because it allows us to ask hard questions: the one this book asks is an age-old one, well worth discussing late into the night over brandy or beers: Is safety and security worth giving up your freedom for? And if so, how much freedom, for how much security? It's the story of human history, the attempt to balance personal freedom against the common good. Sometimes we err on the side of freedom, sometimes we err on the side of order: but the balancing act goes on.

I appreciated the methodical (in the best sense, not in the sense of plodding) development of Cassia's very gradual intellectual awakening. From the start of the book to the end, she changes utterly, but none of it happens overnight. Often in YA fiction, the hero or heroine sees or hears one thing and suddenly their whole personality is altered, and EVERYTHING changes..... which irritates the bejezus out of me. People don't behave that way in real life.

This novel handles her transformation FAR more deftly and realistically. Cassia is given one piece of information, which causes her to question some things, but her behavior does NOT change, and her allegiance to her Society and its methods don't instantly crumble. She then learns another thing, and thinks of more questions, but again, continues to exist as she has before, while her internal monologue slowly alters. THIS is how things really usually happen, and the author captured that gradual life-shift so very very well. This is true both in the way Cassia views her Society and in the romantic love interest department.

Speaking of love interest, wouldn't it be wonderful to have just one popular YA novel WITHOUT a freaking love triangle? Sigh. That said, at least this one is not your normal absurd love triangle. There's Xander, the boy she grew up with and loves like a BFF, and with whom she is "Matched" by Society. Then there's Ky, the Aberrant boy who can never be matched with anyone, but with whom she gradually (there's that lovely word again) develops a relationship, which in turns gradually grows into a romance. The boys do not get into some ridiculous show down over who "gets" to get the girl, and she does not pit them against each other: in fact, she shows a tender concern for the feelings of both young men, and struggles to discern what she ought to do.  She shows honesty and she wants to treat them both as real human beings, with dignity and value, and she wants to be true. How can you not like that?

Several other things I liked very much about this book:
1. The forbidden poetry. In this dystopia, to "eliminate clutter", only 100 poems, "the very best", have been allowed to survive. (Also only 100 paintings and 100 pieces of music.... my heart is broken just pondering this) All copies of others have been destroyed... but Cassia accidentally finds a lost poem....and it tugs at her heart. Her relationship with Ky begins to grow around their sharing of forbidden poetry. The way that poetry in this world is literally a commodity, worth trading on an actual black market, delighted me. That said, I should reveal that I am a literature teacher, so of course I would find the idea of Dylan Thomas'  masterpiece "Do not go gentle into that good night" being more valuable than, say, gold, very very appealing.

2. Grandpa. I love the scenes with Grandpa before he dies. His way of saying more than he is saying. His refusal to play on Society's terms. I love the wayCassia remembers him after, and the effect he has on her choices.  I love the compact, with its beautiful secret. I love the way his memory drives her. I love his fieriness.

3. Subtlety. This book is rife with it. I know some reviewers have said that makes it slow or boring: I think it makes it delicious and far more fun to read than more obvious,  vulgar YA fiction that gives you all the secrets and answers right up front. You get hints here.... but not the full picture. As the book develops, it becomes clear that Society might not be as stable as they proclaim.... but you are not told that up front in chapter one, or in fact ever told it overtly anywhere. It comes in delicate bits of information, gleaned as you go. I deeply appreciate this more mature kind of writing. I can hardly wait to read the sequel.

4. Its lack of violence. I know, I know, some people found this book "boring". But I am relieved to find a dystopian fiction novel for youth that does not feature wholesale human slaughter. While I enjoyed the Hunger Games immensely and like the book Divergent, I was often distressed by the bloody mess going on almost constantly. This book is calmer, quieter, and in some ways made far  more sinister by the very lack of violence.

I liked Matched well enough that upon finishing it, I immediately went online and ordered the complete trilogy for my classroom. But I will read the sequels first.:>)

One complaint: the cover. I hate it. No boy in my classroom would be caught dead with a book with this cover on it.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2013-10-29 01:47
A great book from a somewhat forgotten author
Cat and Mouse: A Novel - Christianna Brand

Christianna Brand's Cat and Mouse is a book that has haunted me since the first time I read it 30 years ago or more.  Maybe it was just because I was much younger but "haunted" is indeed what this book has done to me.  Just thinking about it creates a creepy atmosphere around me!


I found this in an old brown edition from The Detective's Book Club.  It made the story look intriguing from the start. I knew nothing about the story or the author and I dove right in. 


The heroine, Tinka Jones, gives advice on beauty to readers of a girl's magazine.  She answers their letters and particularly notes the letters of a girl named Amista who talks about her village and the guy she's in love with. Her letters are enough to make Tinka take her vacation to Wales to meet Amista.  Just one problem, when she arrives there, no one knows who Amista is. As she struggles to find out who wrote the letters, the atmosphere become unsettling and Tinka begins to doubt what she thought she knew. The ending is not to be missed and I had no idea what was coming.  Boy, do I love that in a book!


The atmosphere of this mystery is exactly what you would expect from a visit to a desolate house in rainy Wales. You can feel the gloom and the chill and the shadows closing in on you. Such a perfect read if you have a rainy afternoon to spend with a book.  It's a forgotten classic in my opinion and Christianna Brand is a master of the mystery well worthy of modern re-reads.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2013-10-16 22:00
Secretive-More exciting adventures for Zoe!
Secretive (On The Run #2) - Sara Rosett

After having been on the run with her handsome ex-husband Jack, who is now presumed dead by the FBI, Zoe has returned to her mundane life of proof-reading travel books and real estate management.  Back to the house she now lives in alone since Jack is no longer occupying the upstairs and back to the suspicions of the FBI that she has somehow pulled a fast one with the money that had disappeared from Jack’s company.  She knows she's almost broke but the FBI likes her for the theft of the twelve million dollars.  Everything seemed to be getting back to normal when she finds herself being spied on by a man in a silver car.  When a couple of thugs in a van try to kidnap her, she knows things are heating up again.  A rare visit from her mom provides the final puzzle piece that gets her back into action.


Zoe travels to exciting destinations, meets exciting characters and reunites with old friends from her first European adventure.  There are twists, there are daring escapes, there is a little romance. This is a fast-paced series that is just fun to read but I definitely would begin with the first of the series, Elusive.


It’s so easy for me to relate to Zoe, not in how her life is, but in how she wants her life to be.  This is an easy read that makes me happy in th same way an icy cold glass of Dr. Pepper makes me happy.


I received this book from the author through Librarything in exchange for my honest review which I have given.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2013-10-10 20:00
Elusive-This is a heroine I can relate to!
Elusive (On The Run, #1) - Sara Rosett

Zoe is my kind of girl!  She dreams of traveling the world, hates to do mundane things and worries about making ends meet!  I can relate.


Zoe is living in a house with her ex-husband and working as a proof-reader, dog walker and just about anything else that will help her pay the bills but doesn’t involve a 9-5 office job.  She has a best friend who mothers her and a mother who dreams of making it big on reality tv.  Nothing seems very out of the ordinary until her ex-husband turns up missing and his business partner turns up dead.  When a reporter tips her off that the police are about to bring a search warrant to her house, she decides it’s time to hit the road and her adventures begin.


Zoe is a fun heroine, smart and capable.  Her adventures are entertaining and the plot keeps you interested in what will happen next.  I already have Zoe’s next adventure Secretive  on my Kindle.  Looking forward to what she gets herself into next!


I received this book from Netgalley and I appreciated the opportunity to read and review it.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2013-09-27 01:47
A thoroughly enjoyable cozy mystery by M. Louisa Locke
Maids of Misfortune - M. Louisa Locke

I knew as soon as I started this book that I was going to love it and I was right. A strong female heroine set in the Victorian era with a clever mystery is a recipe for success.

Annie Fuller is a widow who escaped a stifling marriage when her husband committed suicide. She moved from New York to San Francisco where she inherited a house and is now a respectable businesswoman running her own boardinghouse. Her side job as Sybil the Clairvoyant is known only to a few trusted household employees.

When one of her customers dies and it is declared to be suicide, she knows better and decides to prove it. Along the way she meets a handsome lawyer, learns what it's like to be a domestic in the Victorian era and foils an old acquaintance who wants to take everything she has.

The mystery is clever but not overly taxing to figure out. There is some romance but it doesn't overpower the mystery. The Victorian setting adds the perfect touches to the story. I absolutely loved the ending.

This author knows what a mystery reader wants to read. I've already purchased the next book in the series and am excited to read it. I know for me this series will be like comfort food, something I'll return to again and again.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?