The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. LockhartThe Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Publisher: Hyperion
Number of pages: 342
My copy: hardbound, bought from Fully Booked (on sale!)

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14:
Debate Club.
Her father’s “bunny rabbit.”
A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15:
A knockout figure.
A sharp tongue.
A chip on her shoulder.
And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston.

Frankie Laundau-Banks.
No longer the kind of girl to take “no” for an answer.
Especially when “no” means she’s excluded from her boyfriend’s all-male secret society.
Not when her ex boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places.
Not when she knows she’s smarter than any of them.
When she knows Matthew’s lying to her.
And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.

Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16:
Possibly a criminal mastermind.

This is the story of how she got that way.

* * *

A few years ago, I watched a lot of TV shows religiously. I don’t know what got me into it, or how I discovered some of them, but I end up having my hard drive full of shows week after week. One of those shows I liked very much (and was still very sad that it had been cancelled too early) was Pushing Daisies. I wasn’t really much into the characters and I was just mildly intrigued by the story. I think the main reason why I liked that show so much was because of the narrator. If you’re not familiar with the show, think of the movie Matilda. They both have that same, amused sounding narrator that guides you in the story, guiding you with the character’s emotions instead of just letting the actors and actresses show you what they’re feeling. It’s not a sign of bad acting, of course, but a clever way of making the story leave more impact, I suppose.

It was exactly that narrator voice that I remembered while reading E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. I’ve heard a lot about this book from book blogs, and I was lucky to spot a hardcover copy of this book on the bargain table during one of the Fully Booked sales. This contemporary YA novel tells the story of Frances Rose Landau-Banks, aka Frankie, aka Bunny Rabbit — a 15 year old sophomore in Alabaster Academy. She’s smart, she comes from a rich family and she’s recently grew into her body, earning her a slightly higher physical reputation among the “geeks” that she’s a part of in school.

But Frankie is not just a girl. She’s not just Bunny Rabbit. Frankie doesn’t want to be her boyfriend’s arm candy, even if he is popular and adorable and his kisses could make her weak in the knees. Frankie is determined not to be left out, especially by her boyfriend’s all-male secret society (that is not so secret because her father was a member). Thus starts Frankie’s disreputable history.

Ah, what a fun novel. I liked how smart this book is, with all its grammar geekiness and social terms such as the panopticon and the existence of secret social societies in boarding schools. I loved the entire Alabaster environment, even if it reeked of rich kids whose connections, not necessarily their skills, will make them powerful in the future. I liked how the story progressed, and how everything connected in the end. Because of the style of narration, I felt like I was one step ahead of the story, and I was able to snicker at how some of the characters were so stupid at how Frankie was duping them all.

Frankie and the rest of the characters were fleshed out well, although the way the story was told may hinder the readers from really getting to know the characters. Some people might get turned off with this one, but I liked it. It felt fresh, and despite how the narration kept me at arm’s length with the characters, I still saw them as whole and completely thinking characters. Somehow, the boys in this novel reminded me of the boys in John Green’s Looking for Alaska, sans the massive smoking and more of the geekery. Frankie is such a smart character that I can’t help but wish I was like her when I was younger.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is a very, very smart novel, and yeah, a bit feminist, but I don’t think guys would not enjoy this one. I had so much fun reading it that even if I was busy, I always made time to read a few pages of it each that. That, and I was very sad to reach the end of it — it felt like it was too soon, but I think the ending was just right for the story.

I also found this very interesting post about this book at one of the tumblrs I follow, Reasoning with Vampires. This includes some passages from the book, nothing spoilery, and a very good comparison with another popular lead character out there *cough*Bella Swan*cough*. No offense to anyone. :)

From Reasoning with Vampires (reasoningwithvampires.tumblr.com)

From Reasoning with Vampires (reasoningwithvampires.tumblr.com)

I recommend this book for those who like good contemporary YA novels with smart characters, boarding schools, some grammar geekiness and lots of pranks. :) This is my first Lockhart novel, but it definitely won’t be my last. :)

Rating:

2011 Challenge Status:
Required Reading – July

Other reviews:
The Book Smugglers
Angieville
Persnickety Snark
Presenting Lenore
Forever Young Adult

The Best Friend and The Other Guy

I finished reading The Iron King by Julie Kagawa last night and found myself surprised at how I enjoyed reading a paranormal romance novel again. I’ve mentioned it many times already that I have started avoiding paranormal romances and some contemporary romances because they always seemed to have the same thing: girl meets guy with a secret, they fall for each other, but girl has a guy friend who is also in love with her and is always the safer choice. Or roles can be switched too — guy meets girl, guy and girl fall in love but there’s a girl best friend who knows the guy better. And yes, I understand, there are other variations, so I’ll let you guys fill that in.

Photo by iann7 – from deviantArt

A bit of a spoiler for The Iron King — the same kind of love triangle is also there, although it wasn’t that pronounced yet in this book. I have a feeling it will be expounded on the next book, though, and right now I already feel sad for one of the guys because I am sure who the heroine would end up with. I realized then as I was reading that for fictional love triangles, I always seem to side with the best friend. I never really declare my “teams”, but I always find myself more sympathetic to the plight of the best friend. Case in point (slight spoiler warning for the books listed):

  • Twilight – I liked Edward in the first book, but when Jacob Black made his presence known, I liked him more. In the end, though, I felt that Bella did not deserve Jacob, so I wasn’t really rooting for Jacob to win in the love triangle but to be able to move on. Still, on the overall love triangle arc, I liked Jacob more.
  • The Hunger Games – I have no problems with Peeta, but I liked Gale more. Sure, Peeta is the golden boy and I liked him as he was, but I honestly thought Katniss and Gale was the better pair. But as I always say whenever people asked me which team I was for in The Hunger Games, I never made a real choice, except that I am just partial to the best friend. Come to think of it, that just meant I’m Team Gale. :P
  • Song of the Lioness QuartetAngela asked me about who I wanted for Alanna while I was reading the books in the series, and I said I was for Jonathan, who ended up as Alanna’s best friend. I liked who she ended up in the end of the quartet, even if I liked Jon more than who she chose.
  • The Mortal Instruments – A bit of difference for this one, since I actually liked Jace for Clary. I did feel a bit triumphant for Simon when Clary paid more attention to him that is not platonic. Although I didn’t root for their love team as much, I don’t think I would have minded if Clary ended up with Simon.
  • Privileged (TV Show) -While my friends and I agree that Will (played by gorgeous Brian Hallisay) is extremely hot, I felt myself gravitating towards Charlie, Megan’s best friend, who has always been in love with her. And true enough, I was heartbroken when Megan told him that he’s just a friend. :( (Note: the book that the TV series based on has no love triangle, so I had to specify the TV show)

And finally, The Iron Fey. Like I said, I don’t know what’s going to happen in The Iron Daughter since I haven’t read it yet, but I have a feeling that the love triangle will be explored more here. And I already feel bad for the best friend.

I don’t really know why I favor the best friend in the fictional love triangles I read/watch, except maybe because I am kind of sympathetic to the best friend plight. I can’t say I have been in an almost similar situation before (maybe, but since I am a girl, I doubt it’s as painful as the ones I have read). Or maybe it’s just because I tend to gravitate to the underdog because I always hope they’d win somehow? Or maybe it’s just because I always thought that a boyfriend who is your also your best friend is a really good thing?

But then again, what do I know about that? I’ve never been in a relationship before. *shrug*

What about you? Do you “fall” for the other guy, or do you find yourself siding with the best friend?

Edited to add: I just realized there was one love triangle that defied my “best friend” example – Brigan, Fire and Archer in Kristin Cashore’s Fire! Although I thought Archer was a pretty sweet and charming guy, I was for Brigan and Fire all the way. :P

Second Life Falls Short

The Short Second Life of Bree TannerThe Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer

Fans of The Twilight Saga will be enthralled by this riveting story of Bree Tanner, a character first introduced in Eclipse, and the darker side of the newborn vampire world she inhabits.

In another irresistible combination of danger, mystery, and romance, Stephenie Meyer tells the devastating story of Bree and the newborn army as they prepare to close in on Bella Swan and the Cullens, following their encounter to its unforgettable conclusion.

Bree Tanner can barely remember life before she had uncannily powerful senses, superhuman reflexes and unstoppable physical strength. Life before she had a relentless thirst for blood… life before she became a vampire.

All Bree knows is that living with her fellow newborns has few certainties and even fewer rules: watch your back, don’t draw attention to yourself and, above all, make it home by sunrise or die. What she doesn’t know: her time as an immortal is quickly running out.

Then Bree finds an unexpected friend in Diego, a newborn just as curious as Bree about their mysterious creator, whom they know only as “her”. As they come to realize that the newborns are pawns in a game larger than anything they could have imagined, Bree and Diego must choose sides and decide whom to trus. But when everything you know about vampires is based on a lie, how do you find the truth?

It was a success story that began with a dream – literally. In 2003, a housewife and law school aspirant who had never written a short story in her entire life woke up from a vivid dream about a vampire who was in love with a human girl, but who also thirsted for her blood. The woman felt compelled to write the dream down, just for herself, until her sister urged her to send the manuscript for publication. Fifteen letters and nine rejections later, Stephenie Meyer found a deal that catapulted her to literary fame (and sometimes infamy) with her Twilight saga.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years: Twilight is the story of an ordinary human girl named Bella Swan and her romance with a 107-year-old vampire Edward Cullen. The saga is composed of four books – Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn – that chronicle their romance and attendant complications (werewolf Jacob Black, and the Volturi, who enforce vampire law). Midnight Sun, the companion novel to the saga that tells the story from Edward’s point of view, was delayed indefinitely after the chapters were leaked online, and Meyer allegedly decided to focus her energy on non-Twilight books.

Or so we thought. Yet now we have Bree Tanner, a new novella in the same universe as the Twilight Saga. Click here to read the rest of the review.

Rating:

2010 Challenge Status:
* Book # 38 out of 100 for 2010
* Book # 20 out of 20 Fantasy books for 2010

Twilorama

Have you ever had that certain thing, the one that even if you know you don’t like it, you still can’t help but watch it or read it or get it? It may be force of habit, or maybe a guilty pleasure, but somehow, you just can’t stop yourself. It’s like, an unstoppable force, something you are not supposed to like, or have sworn off but you can’t help but still check it out every once in a while.

I just got to that point. But first, some examples!

Exhibit A: A couple of years ago, TV 5 came out with a localized version of Gossip Girl. It wasn’t exactly promoted that way, but as a fan of the TV series, I knew that Lipgloss was based on that with its first plug. It was bad, really bad, and I hated all their acting and script and editing…but did that stop me from watching? Of course not! I still watched! I stopped watching after a month, though…but still, I knew what was happening for that month. Hah.

Exhibit B: I’m not a fan of Twilight anymore. I used to be, at least until the disaster that is Breaking Dawn. I watched the first movie and found it lacking, but did it stop me from watching New Moon? Of course not! I still watched, and I was willing to watch it the second time if only to see Taylor Lautner again. Of course, I was only staring at Taylor Lautner the entire movie, but New Moon isn’t like, say, Star Trek or other good movies out there. Eclipse is showing soon, and will I pass it up? No! I will still watch, again if only for Taylor Lautner.

Exhibit C: Today I found myself buying this off Amazon:

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

I'm not sure if I'm crazy for buying this.

I’ve been contemplating buying this since I heard it was about to be released, not because I like it and would die if I don’t read it, but because I knew it’s something I should review for my writing gig. I was doubtful, because I feel like it’s a waste of money to get this. It’s $9.99! It’s P450 in bookstores! It’s more expensive than the single books in the saga!

But did that stop me? No. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is now in my Kindle for iPod, waiting to be read and reviewed for this week. I can’t bring myself to buy an actual copy of the book, because I didn’t want to put make room for the book on my shelf (all my Twilight books are lost somewhere, eep), so I just splurged on an ebook.

Sometimes I don’t know when to stop.

But as I reasoned with my friend, I will have ROI on this anyway. I think. And I hate to admit this, but I am strangely curious over this book. The Host failed to make me curious enough to get a copy, but this one is a part of a big following, and I’m wondering if Meyer’s writing has improved, and if she’ll still make Edward and Bella all sparkly and perfect even in the eyes of another character. (If so, then gag me. I’d rather read about sleep aids than that again. Heh.)

I don’t know if it’s worth it yet, but you’ll definitely know soon. Wait for it!

Dark, but not divine

The Dark Divine by Bree DespainThe Dark Divine by Bree Despain

A prodigal son

A dangerous love

A deadly secret . . .

I stood back and watched his movements. Daniel had that way about him that could shut me down in an instant. . . . I kicked the gravel a couple of times and worked up my courage again. “Tell me . . . I mean . . . why did you come back? Why now, after all this time?”

Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared—the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in blood. But she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night really held. And when Daniel returns three years later, Grace can no longer deny her attraction to him, despite promising Jude she’ll stay away.

As Grace gets closer to Daniel, her actions stir the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind Jude and Daniel’s dark secret . . . and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it—her soul.

I was one of the people who loved Twilight at the start of its hype. I’m not really embarrassed to admit it – curiosity got me to check it out after reading a post by a blogger friend raving about the saga. I found it in a bookstore near where I work, bought it, and devoured it over a weekend. I admit to also falling in love with Edward Cullen and the romance, and then falling for Jacob and all his wolfish charms by the second book. I was never a rabid fan, but I liked the saga up until I read the last book. After Breaking Dawn, I turned my back on Stephenie Meyer for making an ending like that.

I won’t go into detail why I stopped liking the saga, but whenever I run into other supernatural romances, I can’t help but compare them to Twilight. Wait, a correction: whenever I come across any supernatural romances with vampires or werewolves, I can’t help but compare them to Twilight, probably because it’s the first book I read on that genre. I also blame it on all the hype the Twilight Saga gets.

So when I came across Bree Despain’s debut work, The Dark Divine, I wondered if it would be another Twilight-like novelclick here to read the rest of the review.

Rating:

2010 Challenge Status:
* Book # 29 out of 100 for 2010
* Book # 13 out of 20 Fantasy books for 2010

→ Get The Dark Divine by Bree Despain from Amazon.com
→ Bree Despain’s website