Monday, January 27, 2014

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Title: Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Plot: 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.

Overview: I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Before I get in depth about what aspects I liked, I want to say that this is definitely a novel that I would recommend. Standing at 243 pages, this is a very easy-to-get through read.

What I liked: This book surrounds the topic of depression and dealing with someone very close to you going through a mental illness-that said, Marchetta executed it very well. Francesca's thoughts and struggles with her mother's depression came off as very realistic and not overdone.

The family actually had an actual personality and a significant role; many YA books have parents come off as nonexistent or bland, which this book definitely avoided. The characters were all incredibly relatable and had very obvious flaws. Every one of them had distinct voices and strong opinions. Even if you may be cringing at the some of them in the beginning, they soon become your second family.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is definitely the dialogue. It was incredibly comical to hear the characters banter and retort at one another (plus some of the comebacks were really witty). Francesca and her friends definitely know their way around words.

Another thing I really liked about Saving Francesca was the pacing. Throughout most of this book, I was very engaged and rarely bored. The plot moves by very smoothly and keeps you entertained through the entire journey.

The final point I wanted to say was that the romance was very "cute." I do not use this word lightly, but this book did have a few lovey-dovey lines that made my heart slightly melt.

What I didn't like: The romance moved too quickly. It lacked that development that it needed for me to really feel satisfied for when Francesca and her love interest actually got together. I'm half-unsure if this is a solid dislike, but I have mixed feelings about it.

What keeps me from giving this book 5/5 stars is a bang factor. This novel does not stand out very much amongst the other books I've read. Although there are definitely some good moments in there, I probably won't be thinking about it much past next week. Good? Yes. But phenomenal? Not really.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

How to Enjoy Reading

Hello! You know, I feel as if more people don't like reading, than people who do. Since I've been avid reader since birth the thought of someone who just hates it seems very odd to me, and so I decided to make this to hopefully convert some people onto the good side(aka the side of people who enjoy reading). If you just want to read the tips alone and not exactly hear the help on how to do it or don't really want to read all of this because it really is long, I've highlighted every single tip in yellow.

First of all, if you really do hate reading, part of me can relate to you. Whenever I've had to read something for school, a lot of the times, I would absolutely despise the book because I know that I can't just put it down. Having the freedom of just being able to stop reading something is so relaxing, or really just great because just being able to do that can change my opinion on a book(as weird as that sounds). Basing your opinion on the books your school assigns you can give you a very incorrect perspective of reading itself.

I want to mention that I read an article before writing this on 'How to Like Reading' to get some ideas and I honestly thought it wasn't very useful and didn't give out any helpful information. I am praying that the people who want to learn how to like reading will read this and hopefully, my tips will be better than the ones I read. Before I actually start getting into the tips I just wanted to say that I wrote this so A) The people who despise reading, but want to learn how to enjoy it or B) The average bookworm praying for her friends/anyone else to share the same interest as her can enjoy books. If you were bored and stumbled onto this and you don't like reading, please read the rest and give it a chance.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I'm going to start actually giving tips. My very first one is to go to a bookstore or a library. When you're surrounded by so many covers, and summaries it's easy for your eye to catch something that interests you. I do have to say though, that there are disadvantages to going to either a bookstore/library and since I really want this to be jam packed with info, here are a few of them to take in consideration while book surfing:

Pros for Bookstore: The environment would be much more interesting(for someone who doesn't like books), all of the popular reads will be on display, so it'll be easier to find something that you like, and they have every single book categorized by genre so it'll be easier to find the types of book genres for you.
Cons for Bookstore: If you do arrive at the bookstore and let's say you now have, for example, 6 books that you want to read, that's going to be anywhere around 65-95 dollars worth of books. Bookstores are EXPENSIVE. If you/your friend doesn't want to break the bank, do not bring them here/don't go here. Most of the popular books a bookstore contains, have a whole bunch of holds at a library. I've seen many books with 100+ holds. If you decide that you really want to read it and place a hold, waiting those few months might make you loose interest and eventually stop trying. Also at a bookstore, there'd be much more noise and people around you. I find that when trying to look for books, I usually enjoy a more isolated area.

Pros for Library: You can get as many books as you please(No $$ required), there is almost no noise, if you really are confused and need help, there are are desks only a few feet away with people ready to guide you(at a bookstore, it'd be harder to find them and they may not know the answer), and it gives you a chance to take a look at the lesser known, but well written books. 
Cons at Library: Almost all of the popular books which have high ratings have a million holds, there are less books to look at, the environment would be less appealing to a book newbie, and almost none of the books are in mint condition which yet again, COULD possibly be a set back for someone who doesn't really enjoy reading.

My second tip is to find an environment that you think is relaxing or peaceful. Being me, I've grown accustomed into reading anywhere, but when I do, I still long to be in my room, covered in blankets and sipping hot tea. You can really read anywhere, but I personally prefer somewhere quiet. What I do, is brew some hot tea, throw on comfortable clothing, and then I literally just lay in my covers, and read. 

Personally, I think that if you're just starting to grow an interest in wanting to enjoy books, that you should try to go the extra mile to really try to like reading, which is why I put this tip in. I do have to say though, out of all of my tips, this one is sort of OPTIONAL, because obviously a blanket isn't going to change your opinion on reading, but it might help.

Another thing I wanted to mention, is that once you've found the certain genre(s) of books you enjoy, that you should stick to it. You could love reading, but hate all but one genre, just because you do. I would recommend trying to at least find one that you like, sticking to it, and then starting to branch out and try new types of books when you've begun to really become a solid full time reader. For example, if you really like fantasy, then tried out NonFiction and discovered that you hated it, don't think that the few fantasy books you've enjoyed was a fluke and that reading is not for you. If something like that happens, I'd recommend going back to fantasy, and once reading a few more of books in that genre, then trying something new again.

My fourth tip is to try to get in at least 10 minutes per day of reading. If you make it as a routine, and stick to it, you may discover yourself really enjoying a book. I say that you should at least read 75-100 pages of a book before really putting it down. I've read plenty of amazing reads that have stale beginnings, but breath taking, fast paced, endings. 

If you do start doing the 10 minutes per day reading challenge and it seems as if the entire time you're just bored, then I'd recommend you putting down the book and trying something new. In my opinion, I don't read that many books like that-I'm more of a read a book start to finish type of person- but once again, for a book newbie, putting away those 10 minutes could be very helpful.

 If you find yourself starting to look forward to your read time, then I'd recommend you extending the period to 15 or 20 minutes if you haven't already. If you still want more, then I'd first say A) Congratulations, you are on the road to becoming a full time reader and B) Don't limit yourself to only how many minutes per day, once you start wanting to read hours per time, take it as a good sign.

If you know what writers block is, note that it's possible to have readers block. I know this from personal experience, since I have had it before. You don't really get this from not wanting to read, but what happens is that it seems as if every single book you've chosen is written poorly and isn't interesting, or fun to read. Having this doesn't make me not want to read, but really just makes me frustrated and annoyed. I'm putting this out as a tip, because if you just started to like reading but you're going through one of these and feels discouraged, I'm here to tell you to just keep on going through books, because you will eventually find one that you like, but it just might take a while. 

My very last tip, is very simple and predictable, but it's to not give up. This analogy  might seem a little funny, but learning how to enjoy reading is like loosing weight. If you don't see results, then it's easy for you to loose hope and want to give up. However, if you just keep on trying, you will eventually hit gold and results will come. I know that it may feel difficult, and that you may not want to continue, but if you do work at it, reading can actually become very relaxing and eventually become a hobby, instead of a chore.

And now that all of my tips are over, I just wanted to say that I really hope that you've found this helpful, because I spent over an hour writing and perfecting it. Also, I wanted to mention that currently I feel mentally exhausted so if the ending is a little shaky, please forgive me because all I've wanted to do is sleep. I know that this is extremely long, but if you did find it helpful, please leave a comment below and tell me. Thanks for reading this, and may reading become your next favorite hobby!