The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline PrestonThe Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston
Publisher: Ecco
Number of pages: 228
My copy: hardbound, birthday gift from KD

From the author of the “New York Times” Notable Book, “Jackie by Josie,” comes a spirited, visually lush, and stunning novel, inspired by the art of scrapbooking and told through a kaleidoscopic array of vintage postcards, letters, magazine ads, ticket stubs, catalog pages, fabric swatches, candy wrappers, fashion spreads, menus, and more, starring an unforgettable heroine and set in the burgeoning bohemian culture of the 1920s.

* * *

I’m one of those people who tries to scrapbook. I say try because as much as I try, I can’t really make my scrapbook pages look…well, as pretty and cute as the ones that other people do. That, or maybe I just don’t have that artsy vibe (and the patience) and access to art supplies at MisterArt.com to do them. But anyway, that never really stopped me from having fun with my planners, though:

Planner pages - 2006 to 2012

[Click to embiggen]
Top row: 2006 planner – thesis defense+birthday week, Kalinga Luzon
Bottom row, left: 2010, 25th birthday week
Bottom row, right: 2012, February, word of the year

So it’s not as pretty, but it serves pretty well as my own memory bank. That’s pretty much why I was delighted to receive The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston from one of my co-moderators in our book club on my 26th birthday (Thanks, Kuya Doni!). I had no idea what the book was about, but looking at the first few pages, I knew I was going to like this if only for the visual treat that it has. If I can’t make pretty scrapbook pages, then I would live vicariously through others’, even if it is from a fictional character.

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt tells of a story of Frances Pratt, who received a scrapbook and her father’s old Corona typewriter as a high school graduation present. In here she documents her summer after high school where she decides to forgo a college scholarship to help her mom out, but she is smitten by an older man. Her mom finds a way to get her to college to keep her out of the influence of her unsuitable suitor, and Frankie finds her world opening up to more possibilities than she can imagine. We follow Frankie’s adventures in college and in her meeting Vassar alumna Edna St. Vincent Millay, who inspires Frankie to go to New York to pursue her dreams. But when heartbreak finds her there, she sets sail to Paris to make it on her own. All Frankie wants is to find herself and the love of her life, but will she ever find it when she gets called home to be with her sick mother?

If I were to describe this book in a just one word, it’s gorgeous. I loved every page of the book with all the typewritten (and some handwritten) words and the photos and the 1920′s memorabilia. Some of them makes me wish they were real and I can pluck them off the page and keep them for myself! Look at some of these photos from the inside of the book (warning, slight photo dump):

Can you imagine how much effort the author went through for each and every page of this book? I’m no expert in vintage, but this book just screams it from the cover all the way to the last page, and it made me a bit more interested in the 1920′s (even if I have a feeling I don’t think I can carry a flapper dress, LOL).

The story feels just a little bit ordinary. I don’t mean that in a bad way — but if you’ve read the book’s dust jacket, you pretty much know the story save for what happens in the end. It didn’t have that much revelation, and it read like a coming-of-age story, but again, I didn’t find ittoo shocking. But then…life doesn’t have to be shocking to be extraordinary, yes?

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt is a relaxing book to read for all its gorgeousness, and maybe that really is the charm of the book. It may not end up as a favorite, but I will keep it on my shelf whenever I need to look at some pretty stuff, and maybe even get inspiration for the other pages of my planner when I get the mood to scrapbook again. :)

Rating:

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A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinA Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
A Song of Ice and Fire #1
Publisher: Bantam
Number of pages: 835
My copy: Mass market paperback, bought from National Bookstore

In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes of the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

* * *

First off – I don’t think I’d go through the trouble of summarizing A Game of Thrones because I’m pretty sure practically everyone knows what this is about. In case you don’t …well, it’s about several families living in a land called Westeros, all of whom seem to be at war (or at least, are set to manipulating and wiping off other family lines) with each other to claim the power among the land. There are several story lines explored in the book that if I try to explain will either take too long, or spoil you, so let’s not get to that. But in case you’re not interested in reading the book (it is a doorstopper), there’s always the HBO TV series based on the book which will probably tell you everything you need to know.

So. I really had no plans of reading this, until I got this crazy idea last year to get a copy of the boxed set because…well, it looks cool. I don’t watch the TV series, though, so the interest in this was purely from a reading standpoint. I figured that I will probably watch the TV series at some point, but before that, I will read the book first. I am a purist, I told myself. Books before TV shows, or movies, yes?

But I was entirely unprepared at the length of these books. When I saw that the second book in the series was a 1000+ pages, I decided not to get the entire set. Too much investment, I thought. So I got the first book instead, thinking that if I end up liking it, I will probably get the next ones. Never mind if the boxed set is pretty.

Months passed, and I still haven’t cracked the book open. It stared at me from my shelf, daring me to read it. The only reason I was hesitant to read this was because it was so thick. YA books tend to be 400 pages max, and anything longer than that, I felt like it was already too long, and would require too much investment, especially with all the other books in my TBR. 800+ pages in just one book? How long will I finish that? But I was determined, and I picked it up several times only to get distracted by something else. Finally, some friends from the book club joined me in a Buddy Read for this book…and I was in it for real. Can I make it? Especially in the same month that our book club has Fellowship of the Ring as its book of the month?

Well friends, I made it. Without throwing the book away, or screaming in frustration. I shook my fist several times, I cringed, but I made it to the end and let out a loud whoop when I was done. To be perfectly honest, I feel like this was such a huge reading accomplishment that I can’t help but be proud of myself. (Also a confession: every time I bring the book outside to read it — on the gym, or while commuting — I can’t help but feel so cool. Like I have this cool, intellectual and geeky vibe because I’m reading this book. Is it just me? :P) And have you noticed how I haven’t really written anything about the book yet in this review?

But what else is there to say about this that hasn’t been said? A Game of Thrones is a very, very engaging book. The sheer number of characters and names can be intimidating and it can be hard to keep them straight sometimes, but honestly? You can dismiss some of the character names because they’re not so important. The real problem is how not to get attached to anyone because what other fans of the series said is true: characters die in this book. Wait, let me correct that: characters you don’t want to die will die in this book. By that I leave you to wonder, but really, get your heart ready  because if you’re the type who gets attached to characters easily, then you would probably throw A Game of Thrones away from you several times while reading this.

That being said, though, I enjoyed the two weeks or so I spent reading this book, so much that it almost didn’t feel like it was two weeks. I was fascinated with the world of Westeros and the Wall and the Starks and Lannisters and the other Houses. It’s not just court politics or people killing each other for a throne or a crown. There’s family, there’s loyalty, and personal revelations about the characters’ identities as they go through their own challenges. Of course, there were those other things that my friends warned me about too, such as incest and rape and all that, but they weren’t really as graphic as I expected in this book. Mind you — I’m not comfortable about it so I tend to skim, but they’re not really as explicit as I thought they were. Wait, I think my friends were warning me about the TV series, not the book.

Anyway, I enjoyed reading A Game of Thrones. Honestly, I was kind of surprised that I did — not that I was expecting not to like it, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I understand why so many people are hooked on this series. Will I read the next book? Yes, most probably. Not anytime soon, though, because I’m still taking a breather with this. But maybe I’ll watch the second season of the TV series first before reading  A Clash of Kings, just to change things a bit. :)

Also, I totally want my own direwolf.

Nymeria

Nymeria – Arya’s direwolf. Image from fanpop.com

Rating:

Required Reading - June

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Psych Major Syndrome

Psych Major Syndrome by Alicia ThompsonPsych Major Syndrome by Alicia Thompson
Hyperion Books, 336 pages


Leigh Nolan has just started her first year at Stiles College. She has decided to major in psychology (even though her parents would rather she study Tarot cards, not Rorschach blots). Although she has always been very good at helping her friends with their problems, when it comes to solving her own…not so much. Leigh has a tendency to overanalyze things, particularly when the opposite sex is involved. Like why doesn’t Andrew, her boyfriend of over a year, ever invite her to spend the night? Or why can’t she commit to taking the next step in their relationship? And why does his roommate Nathan dislike her so much? More importantly, why did Nathan have a starring role in a much-more-than-friendly dream?
In a trying year that will have her questioning herself, her relationships, pretty much EVERYTHING, she may just find a few answers.

When I was applying for admission to different colleges ten (!!!) years ago, my top 3 courses were Computer Science, Journalism/English-related course and one fall back course that seemed pretty interesting. One of them was Electronics and Communications Engineering which was crazy because I don’t know how I would survive college with all the math if I got into that course. In another college, I remember choosing Behavorial Science, which was the closest I could get to a Psychology degree. When I finally got into college (Computer Science, my first choice) and took my one and only Psychology subject, I remember thinking that if ever I do decide to shift out of my course for reasons that I do not want to think about, I will probably take Psych. I don’t know why, but I guess I found it fascinating to study about human personalities and everything related to it. Color me naive, but back then I thought that if you want to read a person more than you normally can, take Psychology.

I remembered all those course picking things while I was reading Psych Major Syndrome by Alicia Thompson, and quite honestly, I think I saw myself in Leigh. Leigh Nolan is a college freshman in Stiles College majoring in Psychology — she has a good knack in helping her friends with their problems, but when it comes to her own? Well, she isn’t so good. But what’s to be worried about, anyway? Leigh likes what she’s taking (albeit her teachers seem to be bent in making her take more responsibilities and her arch-nemesis Ellen is always waiting for a way to bring her down), and she has a steady boyfriend, Andrew, that she has been with since high school (never mind that he has never invited her to spend the night, and that her boyfriend’s roommate, Nathan, seemed to hate her guts and that Nathan was the star of a recent dream that left her feeling a bit confused about her feelings). What’s to be worried about? Leigh’s tendency to over analyze things gets her to start questioning everything, and she’s not quite sure if she will ever find any of the answers. Shouldn’t Psych majors be able to figure that out?

From the first page, I recognized Leigh as a girl after my own heart. I feel like I will be like her if I did take up Psychology, sans the arch-nemesis and the high school sweetheart. :p Leigh was such a fun character that being in her head was so entertaining — she’s nice and snarky and her affection for nice pens and her tendency to over-analyze was really just a bit too familiar that I can’t help but laugh. Leigh’s problems, while quite typical, come off as legitimate things that girls her age go through. Come on girls, tell me: who doesn’t over-analyze things? At one point in our life, we have over-analyzed a situation to death, and Leigh is a character who sympathizes with that.

I liked that every chapter of the book has some sort of psych concept that describes the chapter. There were several scenes that got me laughing out loud, as well as some scenes that made me feel warm and fuzzy all over. However, if you’re looking for a different kind of romance here, there’s really nothing to find. Come on, we all know who Leigh is going to end up with from the blurb alone. How she ends up with him is another question, but there really was no surprise there, right? There’s the love triangle, the loyal friend and the one who didn’t seem like a friend but turned out okay at the end. There were also some stereotypical characters that kind of made me raise an eyebrow, and I understand how other readers got kind of miffed with that.

Psych Major Syndrome by Alicia Thompson is a very entertaining contemporary YA read, even if there’s really nothing surprising about it. There was enough sass and sweetness in it that it was really just the right fluff that my brain needed back when I was reading it (I was in the middle of some serious books back then). I read this in a day, and it was a pleasure to get lost in a world that didn’t have magic, zombies or foreign lands that do not exist. :) If you’re in the mood for good and funny fluff or if you’re even the least bit interested in Psychology, you’ll probably like this.

Oh, and if I were to have a do-over for what college course I’ll choose? As much as Psychology feels exciting, I will still go for Computer Science. I have a feeling that if I was actually allowed to over-analyze things and situations for school, I would’ve gone crazy with that opportunity. And over thinking is really not something I should allow myself to indulge in. :P

Rating:

My copy: hardbound from Fully Booked

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What I Read (3): Maria

What I Read

What I Read is a semi-regular guest feature in One More Page allows them to talk about what the title says: what they read. I believe that every reader has a unique reading preference and no reader is exactly the same. What I Read explores that idea, where I let the guests talk about their favorite, genre preferences, pet peeves and everything else in between. :)

So…it’s been a while since my last What I Read post. Apologies — it’s been…well, slow, and busy and quite honestly, I forgot about this feature for a while. I meant to have one a month for this, but alas, I’ve missed two months. Oh well. I did say this is a semi-regular feature, right?

Now that the apology is out of the way, it’s time to catch up! For the third installment of the What I Read feature, I have one of my book club friends with me here once again. A year ago, she sent me an email for an interview in her blog during Armchair BEA week. I don’t think we’ve met in person back then — I just knew her from Goodreads and her blog. I got to know her better during one of our book club trips, and we have pretty similar tastes in genres (but not necessarily books). :D I thought of featuring her this month too because she’s the moderator for our Fellowship of the Ring face to face discussion next week.

So without further ado, let’s give it up for Maria! :)

Maria and Jane Eyre

In ten words or less, what kind of books do you usually read?

Books that are adventurous, mysterious, suspenseful, and yes, a little romantic. :D

Continue Reading →

Warbreaker

Warbreaker by Brandon SandersonWarbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
Gollancz, 652 pages

Warbreaker is the story of two sisters, who happen to be princesses, the God King one of them has to marry, the lesser god who doesn’t like his job, and the immortal who’s still trying to undo the mistakes he made hundreds of years ago.

Their world is one in which those who die in glory return as gods to live confined to a pantheon in Hallandren’s capital city and where a power known as BioChromatic magic is based on an essence known as breath that can only be collected one unit at a time from individual people.

By using breath and drawing upon the color in everyday objects, all manner of miracles and mischief can be accomplished. It will take considerable quantities of each to resolve all the challenges facing Vivenna and Siri, princesses of Idris; Susebron the God King; Lightsong, reluctant god of bravery, and mysterious Vasher, the Warbreaker.

I’ve heard so many good things about Brandon Sanderson, but he was never really in one of my authors to-read-soon list. I have friends who are fans, but I never really saw enough reason to read him because…well, I’m not as much as a fantasy reader as my other friends are. Aaron gave me a copy of Warbreaker for my birthday, which I really appreciated for the very cool cover, but you know, I had no intention of reading it anytime soon. I know, I know — why wait, right? I don’t know really. But anyway, certain circumstances got me reading this book earlier than I expected to make up for some things that we don’t really have to talk about here. :P

Warbreaker is a story of two sisters. And a god. And another god. And a mysterious guy. Siri is the youngest princess in Idris who avoids responsibility but finds herself in the middle of one when she was sent instead of her sister Vivenna to marry the God King Susebron from Hallandren as part of a deal to save Idris from war. Vivenna sets off after her and finds conspiracies that shocked her sheltered world, and tries to start a rebellion even if she had no idea what she was doing. On the side, there’s Lightsong, the god of bravery who refuses to act like a god and believes that he really shouldn’t be one. And finally, there’s Vasher, a mysterious and powerful person whose real intentions remain a mystery until the end. These characters move in a world where people who die a heroic death get resurrected as gods to be worshiped by the people, where magic can be drawn from colors by use of a breath that can be harvested from a person one at a time.

It sounds absolutely fantastic, right? By fantastic, I mean, you know, fantasy. The world building in Warbreaker is solid. I was truly interested in how Sanderson’s world worked in Warbreaker, especially with colors and breaths. I thought it was cool thing to use for magic — everyday colors from surroundings can be used to make things move for you. I liked how it was tied with Breath, and how it was used and passed on and all that. I also liked the little intricacies, such as how members of the royal family has hair that changes color based on their emotions — the vain part of me liked this, although this meant that I can’t rely on my poker face for long. :P

I really liked how the characters were written too. I was rooting for Siri from the start, since she was more of my type of princess, but then Vivenna rose up and she made me love her, too. I liked Lightsong’s quips and Susebron’s personality (one of the surprising things) and Vasher’s mysterious vibe. Even the secondary characters were fun, especially the mercenaries that Vivenna worked with. I didn’t know who to root for, really, except for the five main characters, but I didn’t know exactly how they would all tie to each other until the major revelations in the end.

Warbreaker is not just a fantasy novel — it’s also a political one, dealing with how kingdoms work, threats of war and ulterior motives. I liked reading about these things, too, but I have to admit that it got a bit dragging at some point in the novel. I felt like it took a while before the action really happened, and it was probably why I lagged behind in reading this. If I wasn’t so invested in it already, I probably would’ve skipped some parts. It could have been shorter, I guess, or some parts of it could have been used to explain some of the lacking parts in the end. Warbreaker is meant to be standalone at first, I think, but the explanations at the end felt a bit rushed and lacking to really make sense of the history and the whereabouts of all the other characters.The ending wasn’t exactly a cliffhanger, but I thought the story begs for a sequel to answer all the questions left at the end.

Despite all that, I enjoyed reading Warbreaker. It’s a very cool fantasy novel that even someone who’s not really a fantasy reader enjoyed, so that’s saying something. I liked my first Brandon Sanderson book, and while he’s not quite in my to-read-soon and to-acquire-all author just yet, I will definitely read his other books. Soon. (Mistborn, anyone?)

Rating:

My copy: UK edition, birthday gift from Aaron

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