Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Collectors

My book club selected The Collectors by David Baldacci as this month's pick.
Baldacci currently has two books on the bestseller list - Collectors' sequel, Divine Justice just released a few weeks ago, and its prequel Stone Cold is holding on to a spot on the mass-market fiction list.
Once again, I have to thank my fellow book club members for pushing me to pick up a book I might not normally read, but really enjoyed.
Baldacci weaves a tight plot that involves the Speaker of the House, the Library of Congress, the CIA and a casino heist, a la Ocean's Eleven. There's a big reminder here that things are not always what they seem - the heart attack may be a murder, the spy may be a con artist and the guy who mows the grass at the cemetery - there's no telling who he might be.
I do have to mention my disappointment in the audio version of this book. Three different actors were used to read the various characters with a constant narrator. This narrator read all the attribution tags which made for a slight pause between speakers. It didn't work for me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

What a fun read this was!

This contemporary book is set in an elite East Coast boarding school. The main character, Frankie, has blossomed between her freshman and sophmore years of high school and is finally noticed by the cool, upper classmen on campus.

As she begins to enter their world, she learns that her boyfriend, Matthew, is a member of a secret all-male society know as the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds.

The book explores class, feminism and discovering yourself in a unique and poignant way. Plus, the author, E. Lockhart took the liberty of having some fun with words in the book. Check out this snippet:

"Prefixes like 'in,' 'non,' 'un,' 'dis,' and "im" make words negative, yes? There may be grammatical particulars I am not addressing here, but generally speaking. So you have a positive word like "restrained," and you add the prefix "un" to get a negative: unrestrained.

"Possible. Impossible.

"Sane. Insane."

Frankie calls these neglected positives. She also has imaginary neglected positives (INPs) like petuous, meaning careful from impetuous; ept meaning competent from inept and turbed meaning relaxed and comfortable from disturbed.

Disreputable History is a nominee for the 2008 National Book Award for Young People's Literature. It is my goal to read all of the nominated books this year.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The House on Fortune Street

I recently finished reading The House on Fortune Street by Margot Livesey.

The story is set in the United Kingdom and reflects all the wonderful complexities of the English. I found this book particularly interesting in its approach to perspective. The book is divided into four sections, each told from a different character’s point of view. This technique allows the reader to see events and weigh their consequences through different eyes.

Would that it were so easy for us to shift our experience and take the other party’s thoughts and feelings into account. Livesey’s skillful writing and well-drawn characters produce a satisfying, yet sad story that is impossible to put down.