Monthly Archives: December 2011

Matched

First off, good news! My pooch is home. He was home for Christmas. He has spent the bulk of the past five days sleeping in front of the tree (good boy!) in his fleece-lined doggy hoodie, being patted and whispered to and told that he is wonderful and wise and brave. The other day the tree nearly fell on him (good thing he had the quick reflexes to leap out of the way at the last moment), which was scary, but otherwise, it’s been a quiet Christmas. He needs some serious fattening up, so we’re working on that, one tiny liver treat at a time.

Having my hound back home again providing premium contented background snores has cheered me up for hours of happy holiday reading. Matched is the first book I finished and the last before moving on to my Christmas books. I’d say it is the perfect curl-up-on-the-couch-and-go-nowhere book because you’re pulled quickly into the dystopian world and the love triangle at the heart of the story.

Cassia has always been a good girl, a rule-following member of the Society, trusting and happy to have so many of life’s most important decisions made for her, like who she will marry, for instance. At her matching ceremony, Cassia is thrilled to learn that her match is Xander, her long-time friend. It makes sense and it feels right. But when another boy’s face flashes on the screen for a moment before it blacks out, Cassia does not know what to think. Is the other boy, Ky Markham, her true match? This so-called “glitch” changes Cassia’s perspective forever, leading her to wonder what it would be like to have the freedom to make her life her own, to read whatever she wanted, to go where she wished, to write the words she keeps inside her head.

I’d say that anyone who liked Divergent should enjoy Matched. There’s less action and more romance, but it’s just as compelling and the dystopian society is immediately intriguing. I liked how Condie weaves in Dylan Thomas’s poetry without making this element seem forced or emo. My only quibble is that it is perhaps too focused on the Ky + Cassia romance, with Cassia swooning over Ky fairly constantly, which I found tiresome in a few places. However, I suppose it makes sense that she is completely focused on love and her romantic future at the time in her life when she is being matched. (Also, try not to mind the weirdly squished green girl in the bubble on the cover. I get the symbolism, but I’m not loving the design). I am curious to see where Condie takes this story in the second book, which I believe is told from both Cassia and Ky’s perspectives.

There’s a website devoted to the series. I’m expected Crossed to show up sometime in the next six months at my library, given that I’m 126 out of 400 people waiting for it. I’ll be excited when it’s my turn.

Matched is published by Penguin.

Wishing for a Merry Doggy Christmas

Christmas is nearly here.  I have made (and consumed) a lot of peppermint bark, but there’s a little bark missing, and it belongs to him:

My pooch is sick. He has been at the vet for 5 miserably long days. The boy has pancreatitis. This is not fun. He’s skinny and stinky and he’s a cone head and I miss him terribly. The house is quiet without his gentle doggy snores. His red bed is waiting in front of the tree. His Siamese brother is testy (Where is he? Where is my frenemy?) We are hoping he will be home for Christmas. The other day, a friend of ours sent us this. Sniffle:

If you could spare a “get well soon Malcolm dog” wish today, that would be wonderful. Let’s bring this hairy fella home for a bath and a snooze next to his Christmas stocking.

It should be no surprise then that this Christmas picture book is my favourite this year:

Zoe and Beans: Zoe’s Christmas List is nothing short of adorable. This is because of the sweet, snowy, and soft illustrations and the heart-warming animal / human friendships portrayed in the story. The best part has to be the fold out pages where little bear goes on a very long swim and faithful and obedient Beans dives in to rescue him.  Put it under the tree. Read it to your little one, human or canine. I plan to.

Here’s Chloe Inkpen talking about the characters, and you should visit the website for the books too:

Happy Christmas everyone. Hug your hound today.

Bunheads

Snowflakes are falling here on the blog. Christmas cookies have been made. The nog is brewing. You can practically hear the Sugar Plum fairy floating around in her tutu, right?

Well then, I’d say it’s just the right time for Bunheads, the perfect novel for any balletomane, no matter the time of year. Plus, you know you want it just for the cover. If you have an ounce of girly-girl inside of you, all of those tutus will surely set your heart a-flutter. Former professional dancer Sophie Flack’s debut is a rare glimpse inside the highly competitive and supremely physically challenging world of a top tier ballet company. It’s the story of Hannah, one dancer in the corps de ballet, and her struggle to be noticed and hopefully promoted to the role of principal dancer.

The extreme, grueling physical discipline required of any professional dancer really comes through in Flack’s writing. She manages to achieve a balance of not romanticizing what it means to be a dancer and still communicating the passion and the artistic rewards of ballet. It’s fun learning many behind the scenes secrets of the dance world. You’ll feel like you’re standing in the wings watching the magic happen. I think that the novel also has the potential to speak to readers who are not bunheads, since it’s really about making choices about the direction you want to head in life, deciding what you value most, taking risks, and not being afraid to go for something you’d never considered.

I kept on waiting for Hannah to go over to the dark side, you know, like she did:

But she doesn’t. She’s one of the pretty, non-psycho ballerinas. Perfect for Christmas. Now for the requisite reading music:

And if you want, here’s the cutie author showing you how to create your very own bunhead:

 

Bunheads is published by Poppy.

What?!!!! (in a good way)

Sometimes you miss things. BIG things. Jane Austen things. I had no idea about this. I should be ashamed. Now that I know. I want. I want very much:

By the way, have you seen Downton Abbey? Such fun:

 

I know what we should do! We should all get Death Comes to Pemberley at Christmas and we should read it and then have a Downton Abbey marathon with cookies and tea and perhaps knitting! (Trina, I’m talking to you :)).

Please write forever and ever P.D. James.