curiosities, merryfates

"The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks" By E. Lockheart

"The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks"
By E. Lockheart

I love this book. I’ve read it so many times that it’s starting to look silly, but I’ve yet to write of a review of it. This is for the rather lazy reason that it would take a great deal of work to figure out just what this book did that was so important to 15 year old Grace, and why Frankie has been a part of me ever since.

Francis Landau-Banks was a quiet girl who liked to read and eat strawberry Mentos. She was the youngest of her family, and everybody called her Bunny Rabbit. She had never been in love.
After being a plain, slightly nerdy child Frankie has recently acquired enough “oomph” to stop a teenage boy at thirty paces. All she had to do was invest in some leave in conditioner to tame her frizz, and let nature do it’s work. It is this transformation that is a catalyst to the much more formidable one that has now begun.
Frankie has the mind of a general, the heart of a rebel, and something to prove.
It would probably be in your best interest not to underestimate her.

This book came to me at an age, and a time, when I badly needed to hear that I was allowed to be strong, to be a force of nature. That I wasn’t the only girl in the world who wanted to tear down walls and question the status quo. It told me I wasn’t alone. I had Frankie.

Through stolen identities, the writing of P.G. Wodehouse, guerrilla art, physiology, feminism, secret societies, and being in a lot of places she shouldn’t be Frankie is discovering just how formidable a force she is. Maybe she’s lost it, but that’s what happens to visionaries who are constantly told they shouldn’t want what they want. Maybe she’s finally found something worth fighting for, and a side of herself who is tough enough and clever enough to fight for it. Maybe she’ll change the world.

I adore Frankie. She’s clever, and creative, and strong. But she’s still just a teenage girl. She gushes over an older guy she has a crush on, she plays ultimate frisbee, and she stays up talking at night with her roommate at the posh boarding school she attends. She is what I would consider a real role model for girls at this age. Frankie is bright, and willing to make changes happen. She makes mistakes, and sometimes she’s a little nuts, but she’s just trying to figure out how to be herself in a world of people telling her that it’s wrong to be a strong female, wrong to shake things up, wrong to be anyone but who they think she is. This is a book for anyone who has ever ignored rules because they don’t make sense, or stepped back and realized just how pointless something is. This book is for every girl who has felt trapped, and has finally had enough.
curiosities, merryfates

"Blood Magic" By Tessa Gratton

Blood Magic, by Tessa Gratton (don’t you just adore the name Tessa?) is a book about secrets, romance, and the power of blood.
There are plenty of synopsis of the book already, so I’ll keep mine short:
In a tiny town where people like their quiet, simple lives there was a terrible murder. A high school teacher shot and killed his wife, and then committed suicide. At least, that’s what the police say. Silla (short for Drusilla) is not so sure. She thinks that there has to be more to the story of her parents deaths, even if her brother has lost faith, but she doesn’t know how she can find it.
Enter; a mysterious spell book, a boy who knows her secrets, and quiet a lot of blood.

My review:
This is a very good book.
There is enough atmosphere that it creeps out of the pages and makes you shiver in your bones, an honest and dead sexy love story, well done supporting characters, and a complex and engrossing plot. And that’s not to mention Tessa Gratton’s writing. It’s like the smell of autem, the electricity in the air before an argument, and the taste of hot chocolate with cinnimon. It is vivid and delightful, and makes you feel alive.
I whole heartedly encourage you to read this book if you enjoy fantasy, fairly dark humor, a good teen romance, and beautiful descriptive pros.
Or any of the above.
One of my favorite aspects of “Blood Magic” was it’s charming vocabulary. Isn’t “boggled” and adorable word? Amazingly, the humor didn’t interfere with the misty and dark atmosphere that was being created.
I also enjoyed the representation of teenagers, which struck me as completely realistic. Nick (Silla’s love interest and our other narrator) cusses, drinks, and thinks about sex. But it feels completely honest. Nothing is forced. It is clear that Tessa remembers the way teenagers really are, not just the way they are represented in the media; Uncertain, furious, and so full of potential that it scares even them.
There should be no doubt that Tessa Gratton is an author to watch on the YA sean, and that she will gather a following, as her critique partners Maggie Stiefvater, and to a lesser extent Brenna Yovenoff already have. Together these three form the Merry Sisters of Fate, a group of writers on livejournal who each post a short story one Monday every month (http://merry-fates.livejournal.com/). The forth Monday each month is a guest YA author, which is a really fun way to get to know emerging talents. If you haven’t visited them there it’s well worth a bit of your time.
In case you can’t tell I should make it clear; I am a major fan of these three.
That said, I had huge (read; unrealistic) expectations for Tessa’s first book. She is an incredibly talented author, and I have yet to read a story of hers that didn’t surpass my expectations. “Blood Magic” is very good, but it isn’t amazing. If Tessa has a flaw it is that she can be over descriptive. I understand an editor’s wish to curtail this, but I could FEEL the lost paragraphs. It was like I could feel the editor in the pacing, the explanations, the word choice. With most authors I encourage shortening a story, and this book isn’t a light weight, but I am loath to give up a sentence of Tessa Gratton’s work, let alone pages.
This book is the dark and lovely writing of Tessa Gratton, certainly. But mainstreamed. Less abstract, less colorful. I’m sure that this will help “Blood Magic” be appreciated by a great many more people, but for me it was like looking at the night sky through smudgy glass. Just beautiful enough to make me crave seeing the real thing.
curiosities, merryfates

Paper Towns - Book review time!

First off, and with an aim for full disclosure, I feel I should admit that instead of actually reading "Paper Towns" by John Green, I listened to it on audiobook while at work. This version is available on iTunes and has a passable reader. (I can't stand it when a great book is killed by a terrible reader. Example; the iTunes version of "Wake" by Lisa McMann)

I really enjoyed "Paper Towns" for a number of reasons, most of them a little vague. Much of the story deeply involves a poem by Walt Whitman called "Song of Myself" that is about 90 pages long and extremely beautiful. The main character Quintin, an 18 year old senior in high school, spends a lot of time in his own head, and it's an interesting place for the reader to be. What I liked about Q is that although he is clever and sometimes a worry-wort, he is also a normal sociable guy trying to see the world. Q latches on to Whitman's poem, for reasons I prefer not to disclose, as a sort of key to the code that is the world. He uses it to interpret the people around him, himself, and more than anyone the girl he grew up next door to, Marco.

In order no to give anything away I'll do my best to be both honest and unspecific, but the plot basically goes a follows; Q rolls over in the middle of the night to find his beautiful, popular, extraordinary neighbor Marco in his window. Marco enlists Q in a night of revenge and righting of wrongs, which turns out to be full of the reckless joy that Q has never understood. In the next few days Q discovers that M has disappeared. Again. She does this quite often actually, so no one worries over much. But, a few days later Q and his two best friends, who as it happens are engaging and multi-dimensional characters, discover that Marco has left clues for Q to follow.

Now; Character spoiler alerts ahead. Continue at your own risk.

The thing about reading anything written by John Green is this; he does not give answers to life's questions, he gives you the questions and shows you their outlines, their shapes, so that when you're ready you can pick them up, shake them, and find your own answers. He writes his characters like questions. They are people in full, without the undermining affect that can come from making a character into a symbol.

That is not to say that Green doesn't employ symbolism, even the title of the book "Paper Towns" is a symbol for Marco herself. As it turns out, and here are the spoilers, a paper town is a town put on a map by a cryptographer that does not actually exist., these exist for copyright reasons (if you put a fake town on your map and another map person prints the same town, you say to yourself "Ho ho, what's this? Could it be that they are copying my map instead of doing their own research, and therefore infringing on my copyright?") Marco calls herself a "paper girl" she says that the people around her all have this idea of her, which they do, that is impossible. She says that the problem really is that she loved the idea they had so much that she cultivated it, that the temptation to be two demensional was too strong when she was around those people. So she ran away to a paper town, that someone had created after it was put on a map. She felt like if a paper town could become real in that place maybe a paper girl could too. This is the true core of the story. The idea of losing your identity, and of killing it. The truth is that even though Quintin tells the story, the story its self is about Marco, and running away, and that feeling that if you don't leave now you don't know what you'll do. Q tells the story because even as I'm writing this I realize it doesn't make much sense unless you go through the steps one by one, and with Q to think along the way.
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