Matched By Ally Condie: A Review

Matched By Ally Condie

Title: Matched

Author: Ally Condie

Series: Matched #1

Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

Published Date: November 1, 2010

Matched by Ally Condie is a great addition to the ever-growing Young Adult Dystopian genre. It features a strong heroine in Cassia, who is very smart and slowly begins to recognize the truth about the world she lives in. I love to read female teen characters that have strength in their convictions and will do the right thing even when it’s hard.

On her matching day, Cassia finds out she is matched with Xander, her best friend. It is unusual but not unheard of for people to be matched with someone they already know. Cassia is given a disk with information about her match and when she views it another face is shown on the screen. A glitch like this is unheard of and it starts a chain of events that change Cassia’s life forever.

This book is difficult to put down. It really has it all forbidden love, a government that has a big secret, and a character that is put in an impossible situation. The normal awakening and awareness of self that one experiences in the teen years coupled with a forbidden love and a government that is literally out to get you, makes for an exciting read.

I am glad that the love triangle was dispatched quickly. Even though Cassia tries to imagine her perfect little life with Xander, she realizes that you cannot go back. That knowledge changes you.

This series is often compared with The Hunger Games but I think The Uglies Series is a much better comparison. There is a lightness here that The Hunger Games lacks. The dark things are just below the surface and will most likely rear their heads in books two and three.

Please join the conversation about Matched by Ally Condie on BlogHer.

If you enjoy reading about books, please find me on my new book blog All The Stacks.

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

All images taken from goodreads.

What We Leave Behind

The Book Of Jonas A Novel By Stephan Dau Book Review

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The Book Of Jonas by Stephen Dau is a powerful and haunting novel that exists in a place where there are no good or bad guys and where the effects of war are given a human face. Jonas is a teenage boy when his village is attacked. He survives by fleeing to the mountain where his father tells him to go in case of an emergency. A US soldier named Christopher follows him into the cave and offers him first-aid. Throughout the book, the story of Christopher and Jonas become forever intertwined.

Jonas is given an opportunity to live in the US. An aid group arranges everything, including a college scholarship. Jonas struggles to fit into this new world and is forced into therapy. He reveals bits and pieces of his life to the therapist but he is unable to face the truth until the very end.

This book is beautifully written and expertly executed. Stephen Dau is able to take a subject that is highly political, such as how soldiers could target the wrong village, and takes the reader through the desperation and longing of loss. Even going into this book with a preconceived notion about US occupation in foreign lands, which I did, it is difficult to pick a side. Impossible to say what is right. The characters are fully formed but vague enough that they could almost be anybody. It could be your neighbor or son. The toll that war takes changes everyone around it.

To join in on the discussion, visit the BlogHer Book Club.

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

The Rules Of Inheritance: A Review

The Rules of Inheritance Claire Bidwell Smith

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The Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith is a memoir of life and death. Claire is only fourteen years-old when her parents are diagnosed with cancer within months of each other. This book shows Claire growing and changing with their illnesses and how it impacts her life.

The book is written in a non-linear form that jumps from year to year and various stages of illness. It shows Claire as a teenager, losing her virginity, and trying to find a way to fit in. It takes her through different jobs and different men. The death of her mother when she is 18 and in her first year of college, is life changing. She is never again the girl she was before her mother dies.

Her mother’s death gives Claire time to get to know her father. The relationship is tender and sweet. One of my favorite chapters is where Claire and her father travel to Europe to where his plane is shot down in World War II. They meet-up with a historian and he introduces them to people who remember the war and the impact the American soldiers had on their lives. Finding a statue in tribute to the soldiers who died is touching and fitting way for her father to spend the last trip they take together.

The Rules of Inheritance is about a woman who loses her parents before she is 30 and how she emerges from the other side of grief. It is honest and raw, it shows the bad feelings and remorse. There is strength, love, and eventually peace. Claire ends up a woman who overcomes her grief and makes a career out of helping others cope with theirs.

I highly recommend The Rules of Inheritance for anyone who has lost or feels lost. It is ultimately hopeful and true.

To follow the discussions and learn more about Claire Bidwell, you can find the Rules of Inheritance on the BlogHer Book Club page.

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

Why Women Need Fat: A Review

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Why Woman Need Fat by William D. Lassek, M.D. and Steven J.C. Gaulin, PH.D is a diet book for people who are looking to lose weight and make long term changes in the way they eat. The book is broken down into three sections and does a great job of backing up its’ thesis of how dietary changes of the past forty years have negatively impacted us, in clear and easy to understand ways.

Part One: Why And How We Got Fatter

  • The change in the American diet over the last fifty years.
  • The differences between the American diet and those of women from other countries.
  • Ancel Keys argument that fat is the cause of heart disease which the authors disagree with.
  • The increase in use of polyunsaturated fat.
  • The 1977 Dietary Goals for the US.
  • The change in the American diet increased the consumption of Omega-6 fatty acids which increases weight.

Part Two: Why Women Need Fat

  • Why American women are heavier today than in the past
  • Omega fats being out of balance (too much Omega-6 and not enough Omega-3).
  • The importance of DHA and EPA in our diets.

Part Three: How To Achieve Your Natural Healthy Weight

  • It gives a list of different food groups the authors recommend eating.
  • Finding your natural weight. How to find out what it is and how to reach that point.

Why Women Need Fat is packed with information, especially part one where the how we got here is explained in great detail. I found the advice easy to follow and similar to what you read in other works where the focus is on eating less processed foods. The detailed arguments make it easy to understand why you should change your diet and then they give you all the tools you need to do so.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone looking to lose weight, in a natural and healthy way. This book is not gimmicky but a part of a long term change.

Have you read any books that changed how you eat?

For me, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of The All American Meal was really eye-opening.

If you would like to discuss, Why Women Need Fat, you can jump over to the BlogHer Book Club where there will be a month of discussions.

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

Love At First Bark: How Saving A Dog Can Sometimes Help You Save Yourself

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Julie Klam takes the stories of dogs she rescued and gives us glimpses into the life that occurred around them. We learn about her marriage, which hints at some strain in the opening but is clearly full of love. The adventures she shares with her husband over rescuing dogs, is funny and often touching. It brings them together but it also drives him a little nuts. The relationship feels very real.

We meet a pit-bull who is abandoned in NYC and the lengths Julie goes through to get her placed. This story was particularly touching as someone who grew up with pit-bulls and the experience that J and I had this year with our very own pit-bull rescue. We also live in an area where stray pit-bulls are put to sleep by animal control if they catch them. With the economy in the state it is and having such limited funds, it is difficult to find places that are willing to take these dogs. Luckily, J came to the rescue and was able to place the sweet dog we found into a forever home. This experience really allowed me to understand why the author is so enthusiastic about recues, the feeling when you know you saved a dog from certain death, is an amazing one.

The author learned how brave she was when chasing a puppy with a pickle jar on her head through the swamps of New Orleans and how much she would rather rescue dogs in NYC. She learns through one rescue named Clemmie, who had a pooping problem, that sometimes all you can do is make someone happy and comfortable at the end. That even if you cannot solve every problem, just trying and offering what you can, can be good enough.

I really like Julie Klam, she is funny, tells great stories, and is very likeable. For animal lovers who like to peer into the lives of others, you will enjoy Love At First Bark: How Saving A Dog Can Sometimes Help You Save Yourself as much as I did.

I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.

Have you ever done any animal rescue?

Do you have any cute dog stories?

Lunch Wars

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We have an epidemic in this country. From children going hungry to childhood obesity, there is one program that can make a huge difference and that is the school lunch program. Lunch Wars by Amy Kalafa is a comprehensive reference for parents, educators, and other concerned citizens who know we have a problem but are unsure how we can fix it. The book was inspired by the movie that Amy produced and directed called Two Angry Moms. Her journey begins with Amy, on assignment for Martha Stewart Living Magazine, interviewing chef Ann Cooper who was running the Ross Schools wellness program in Long Island. She knew then that she would be back to do a documentary on school food.

Lunch Wars reads like a manifesto for school food activists. The information ranges from government policies from the USDA and the historical place the school lunch program has to combating hunger, to how the government subsidies free or reduced lunches. It is peppered with stories of real activists that were able to make changes in their communities whether through community gardens, eliminating vending and snack foods, or serving meals family style to reduce waste and encourage a communal atmosphere. These stories are very inspirational and you can see the various ways people are able to get real food into schools, even while maintaining a profitable lunch program.

I particularly liked the chapter on working with farmers to get local produce into schools. It helps the local community, it is good for the environment, and nothing is fresher than farm to table. This book is great for a group who knows we have a crisis but does not know where to start. Lunch Wars can be their blueprint.

Please join me over at BlogHer to discuss Lunch Wars.

This was a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

Do you think we need a school food revolution?

What are your memories of school lunch?

Slow Love

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I read Slow Love as part of the BlogHer Book Club. Slow Love is a memoir by Dominique Browning that begins when she is laid off from her job as an editor for the magazine House & Garden. The book is broken into seasons and the pacing has the feel of seasonal change. It is very tactile and expressive, like a rich tapestry you see hanging in the store and ache to reach out and touch.

After the initial shock and mourning, she starts to find joy and passion in former pursuits. She rediscovers playing music, discovering the Goldberg Variations and the genius of Bach. In it she discovers a love for simplicity and simple beauty. There is eventual loss, the loss of her home and her relationship with an ambivalent man she calls Stroller.

Ultimately, Dominique learns how to live a life that is full, rich, filled with love, and eventually slow. It is a lesson to us all to pursue our passions now,

not waiting until we have the time. Find peace and learn how to let go.

I enjoyed this book and felt it had a quiet, ethereal quality. Browning’s rediscovery of music was particularly poignant. The hunger for beauty and quiet in this fast paced, digital world really spoke to me.

I was compensated for my review and provided with a copy of Slow Love. All opinions are my own.