Posts tagged ‘lookingforalaska’

April 25th, 2011

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Saving Francesca

Author: Melina Marchetta

Published: May 31, 2006

Number of Pages: 243

Rating: 4/5


Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastians, a boys’ school that’s pretends it’s coed by giving the girls their own bathroom. Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an an impossibly dorky accordion player. The boys are no better, from Thomas who specializes in musical burping to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can’t seem to stop thinking about.

Then there’s Francesca’s mother, who always thinks she knows what’s best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling who she really is. Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life and—hardest of all—herself. [From Goodreads]


I miss the Stella girls telling me what I am. That I’m sweet and placid and accommodating and loyal and nonthreatening and good to have around. And Mia. I want her to say, “Frankie, you’re silly, you’re lazy, you’re talented, you’re passionate, you’re restrained, you’re blossoming, you’re contrary.”

I want to be an adjective again. But I’m a noun.

A nothing. A nobody. A no one.


If I could write ballads or sonnets or, well, anything that resembled poetry and didn’t rhyme something like “party” with “tarty”, I would write a sonnet/ballad/poem that expressed my devoted readership to Melina Marchetta. Goodness knows she deserves it (and deserves better, actually, because it would still probably be terrible). Jellicoe Road blew me away and has since stuck with me. I think of the paths and grounds around the boarding school whenever I visit the land my family owns and imagine building a tree house or fort. I love that feeling I get when I look at something and memories come to me that aren’t mine, but belong to characters in a book. Melina Marchetta creates stories that you feel are yours. Saving Francesca was not a disappointment in this regard (or any other).

There are certain characteristics that hit you right off, such as Melina’s totally amazing (why can’t I think of a better adjective? Even “astounding” and “awe-inspiring” sound cliché.) prose. Next, the expert way she introduces back-story without losing you and manages to flesh out Francesca’s voice in the process. There are just so many things to learn from a writer’s perspective by reading Melina Marchetta’s novel. Even more importantly, there are so many things to admire from a reader’s standpoint as well.

Saving Francesca is undeniably a story of characters. The plot was not the seed of the book, but the characters, and from that sprouts a fascinating web of events and scenes that will keep your eyes locked to the page. I was surprised by how many secondary characters Melina manages to juggle, and though sometimes they blurred for me (that could be credited to how quickly I read it – one afternoon), they added elements to the main plot and additional subplots that the book could not have “lived” without. I absolutely adore the characters in this book. The friendships – specifically the odd but organic development of the friendships – between these characters are inspiring and, honestly, SO CUTE. They have their little animosities, they have their bigger ones, but in the end, they benefit more than they lose from being close.

Francesca’s life has certainly taken a turn for the worst, and by beginning with a drastic change in lifestyle and family, there is so much more room for development and growth and “coming into herself”. I loved watching Francesca as she blossomed – that tight, caved-in, constricted feeling of her personality at the beginning, the cracks that slowly wound their way about her, and the eventual and gradual burst of FRANCESCA! that we’re left with at the end is fabulous.

I think what I really admire about books like this is the fact that they are absolutely bursting with everything that constitutes life. I said something similar about Looking for Alaska, actually. There’s this pull I have toward books that juggle difficult situations in which people are forced to confront every ghastly emotion imaginable. Hatred, frustration, self-loathing, disappointment, guilt, confusion, etc. The more severe the bad feelings, the more gorgeous the good ones. Because of some of the crazy and, admittedly, depressing emotions Francesca and the other characters felt, I got to witness the expansive range of human qualities that fill up our lives, all in 243 pages.

Unfortunately, this book also has a few of the features I dislike – such as swearing and some sexual conversation, but it’s certainly cleaner than Looking for Alaska or Jellicoe Road. It’s so often that the books I really love have this content I despise, and it’s all so confusing. However, it doesn’t feel wrong recommending this book to YA readers 14 or over. If you’re a parent, I’d recommend reading it yourself and then making a decision, but it really isn’t too bad.

Overall, Saving Francesca is all those adjectives I can’t think of. Think synonyms of beautiful, astounding, and exceptional. Better yet, skip all that and think: I need to read this.

April 7th, 2011

There’s Something About Surveys…

by Madeleine Rex

(This post is super late. However, it’s currently 11:01, Supernaturally is waiting for me on my lap, and I’m sleepy – so here you go!)

Some people hate them.

I love ’em.

I have this odd fondness for surveys and “fill-ins.” You know that information you have to fill out when you buy something online? My dad detests filling it out and hands it over to me instead. So, naturally, I jumped on the chance to fill out a “The Best of 2010 in Books” survey! (And thanks to Audrey for bringing it to my attention!)

Best Book of 2010:

Oh, gosh. Anything I rated a 5? I’m going with Paranormalcy by Kiersten White for books published this year. As books that weren’t published this year go: Looking for Alaska by John Green and Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.

Worst Book of 2010:

Dark Song by Gail Giles.*

*Many people have enjoyed this book. Don’t be scared away.

Most Disappointing Book of 2010:

The Thin Executioner by Darren Shan*.

*Same goes for this book!

Most Surprising (In A Good Way!) Book of 2010:

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith. It completely blew me away, despite the ridiculousness of the premise!

Most Recommended-to-Others Book of 2010:

There are a few:

  1. Looking For Alaska by John Green because it’s outstanding.
  2. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White because it’s darling.
  3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak because it’s one of the most incredible books I’ve ever read.

Best Series You Discovered in 2010:

Ooh! There are too many!

  1. The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa because they’re fantastical and gripping.
  2. The Paranormalcy Series by Kiersten White because I’m in love.
  3. The Seven Kingdoms by Kristin Cashore because they’re astounding and surprising.

Favorite New Authors Discovered in 2010:


  1. Kiersten White because she’s hilarious.
  2. Lauren Oliver because of Delirium, really.


  1. Melina Marchetta because of her exquisite characters.
  2. John Green because of the same thing. He and Ms. Marchetta are in the same boat.

Most Hilarious Read of 2010:

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White. No doubt!

Most Thrilling, Unputdownable Book of 2010:

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. Talk about a heart-wrenching, mind-boggling page-turner! (I like hyphens…)

Most Anticipated Book of 2010:

Ask my friends, ask my loved ones… It was Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.

Favorite Cover of a Book You Read in 2010:

It’s apparent that I’m very indecisive. I’m choosing three – again.

  1. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
  2. Wither by Lauren DeStefano
  3. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

Most Memorable Character in 2010:

All male characters whose names begin with a P?

Oh, wait. You want a real answer? Then I’d probably have to go with Evie from Paranormalcy. There’s no one like Evie.

Most Beautifully-Written Book of 2010:

Either Looking For Alaska by John Green, Delirium by Lauren Oliver, or Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, none of which have been or will be published this year, but I did read them this year…

Book That Had the Greatest Impact on You in 2010:

More than one…

  1. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
  2. Looking For Alaska by John Green

Book You Can’t Believe You Waited Until 2010 to Read:


  1. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
  2. Looking For Alaska by John Green (and the rest of his books!)
  3. Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore

Goodness! The most interesting thing about filling this out is seeing what books pop up more than once. Those are the gems! They are timeless.

P.S. I’m too lazy to link every book to amazon, but please do look them up! I also have reviews of all of them hidden somewhere on my blog.

August 31st, 2010

Everybody Makes Mistakes!

by Madeleine Rex

(Trust me. There’s a reason for the picture you’re looking at.)

Yes, that’s Hannah Montana.

Or is that Miley Cyrus? Sorry, I forgot which one was real.


Every time I watch a Nickelodeon or Disney TV show and people are doing something totally ridiculous or embarrassing, I tell my brother: It’s going to take ten years for them to shed the Nick/Disney image. Why would they do that to themselves?

And, really – why? Why not do some commercials and show up on a few episodes of CSI? Obviously, sometimes it works out, and sometimes those shows can be cute, but what Disney/Nick star has been able to shed that image and branch out without people snickering and saying, “Oh, there’s [insert character name from past Disney/Nick show here]. In a real movie. Pfft”?

Look at Zac Efron, who still hasn’t been able to really move on from High School Musical, even though, in my opinion, he’s actually a pretty good actor. And Hilary Duff. Every time I look at her, I think “Lizzie Maguire.” And then there’s Miley Cyrus. The list of Disney and Nickelodeon stars that have yet to move on from their kiddy pasts is long.Their first moves into stardom branded them for years, and possibly for life.

What if your first published work is the same way?

When will Stephenie Meyer ever really be able to move on, past Twilight?

My message to you today: Make sure you’re willing to be branded by your first book.

Clearly, we all love our babies… I mean, books. We’re very probably going to be proud of our first published work – as we should be! It was your Golden Ticket! You’re in! You’re officially a VIP, all thanks to [insert beloved book title here].

However, keep in mind that you will never be able to erase that book from your “permanent record.” Obviously, our writing will always be improving. Every book we write (hopefully) is better than our last. That’s a given.

But I shudder to think that I might regret jumping the publishing gun.

Make sure you are ready, and make sure your darling book is. Don’t be blinded by your seemingly undying love for [insert beloved book title here]. Think objectively.

Not only will your first book brand you, but the genre it’s in. I’ve heard time and time again, things like “Pfft. Zac Efron could never be in a really emotional movie.” Even I tease, “Is he an all-star high school basketball player this time around?”

Attention comes with judgment. That’s how it is. Do you want to be judged by [insert beloved book title here]?

The ideal answer: yes.

Luckily for us writers, people are more open-minded. I’d be willing to read a fantasy novel by John Green. (Okay, okay, I’d be willing to read almost anything by John Green. But you get the idea.)

John Green, lucky him, struck gold with his debut, Looking for Alaska.

You want a brand like that. One that you can show with a sense of pride forever, one a majority of people will respect. Brands tend to be permanent. The hair won’t grow back over the scar.

Be objective. Be a little logical (oh my!). Try to look at yourself thirty years from now from the eyes of other people.

But don’t let objectivity cloud your love. Go ahead and be in love with that blissfully wonderful book of yours.

There’s always a happy medium. Love and logic can coexist. Even if there’s some bickering.

Psst! Paranormalcy came out TODAY! Must. Read.

Also, please, please, please give me suggestions for my blogiversary giveaway! – Help Me Help You