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On Not Being a Crier

I'm not sure if I've addressed this before on the blog, but I am not a crier. I've never cried while listening to a song, or watching a film, and I've certainly never cried while reading a book. Never. Ever. And I tend to not tell people this because I always hear the same thing:

"OMG You've never cried at a book/film?? Are you even human??!!! Do you have a soul???"

Are you fucking kidding me? Another one is this, courtesy of Tumblr:

"If you've never finished a book crying or asked yourself what you are going to do with your life now after you completed the last page, you’ve never read a good book."

Alright, Imma bout to prove this crock of shit wrong (well, at least I think it's a crock of shit).

Nobody has a right to tell you what the right or wrong way to enjoy a book is. It's not like I'm reading and just not feeling anything at all. I'd say that I'm more of an internal crier. Just because you can't see what I'm feeling on the surface, and my eyes aren't streaming rivers, that doesn't mean that I'm not feeling a lot of things on the inside. Let's take my review of Scott Westerfeld's Goliath, for example. I freaking loved that book and my review for it is really long (my reviews for all three books in the series are long), talking about my feels and the stuff, and being hit with the reality that my favourite series was over. But did not crying at the end of that book mean that I hadn't read a good book?


Let me get a little personal here. When my grandfather died when I was a kid, I didn't cry. Not a single tear. Heartless, right? Not at all. I was sad, but I've never been an overly emotional kind of person. My brother, on the other hand, burst into tears straight away and cried all night. People handle their emotions differently than other people and there is no right or wrong way to handle them. 

As for the whole asking yourself what you're going to do with your life after finishing a book thing, I've read plenty of good books that haven't left me with book hangovers. For example, I read The Fault in Our Stars recently, and while I really enjoyed it, I didn't cry while reading it and I was completely over it after about a day in a half. That doesn't by any means necessary mean that I didn't read a good book, I'm just over it because it didn't make me feel incredibly emotional. Seriously, where did the idea that crying and book hangovers are the only signs that you enjoyed something? I've cried while playing video games that are so frustratingly hard that I hate them. There are plenty of ways to show that you've enjoyed a book, and for me, crying just isn't one of those things because that's not the kind of person I am.

Now, don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with being emotional and there's nothing wrong with crying. But the idea that being so emotional that you cry is the only way to know that you've enjoyed something just seems ridiculous to me.

What about you? Are you a crier? Or are you not as emotional, like me?


Hey gang,

I feel like I need to take some time off for the rest of the month. My mind hasn't been in a very good place lately and it's caused me to be incredibly unmotivated with everything, which I can't let happen because I hate seeing this blog go quiet for extended periods of time. I just haven't been in the mood to read and every time I go to write a blog post, I write about three sentences and then go do something else, and it's not doing me any good.

I won't be completely gone from online, because I'll still be on Twitter if you'd like to chat, and I'm also on Tumblr pretty much every day if you want to follow me there too.

I hope you all understand, and I'll see you again in July!

Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Released: January 10 2012 by Dutton
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green's most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

For a long time I've been intimidated by The Fault in Our Stars for the most obvious of reasons: its popularity. This book is so popular that for a while I was a little put off and felt like I wasn't quite ready to read it yet. Now, cancer has made its unwelcome appearances in my family, but it hasn't been close enough to me to personally affect me (my grandmother died of lung cancer, but this was before I was born) but close enough to know that it is a serious illness that nobody wants to get. And now that the film has been released, I was determined to get it read as soon as possible and my expectations were sky high. And while I didn't cry, I did enjoy this book.

The Fault in Our Stars is the story of Hazel, who is living with terminal lung cancer, and Augustus, who has been clear of cancer for a while but lost a leg from his ordeal, and the relationship that they develop after they meet at a cancer support group for teens. At the beginning of the book, I had a bit of trouble getting into the story and didn't really start to enjoy it until about half-way through when things started to move forward at a better pace. And also get more heartbreaking, but I'll move onto that in a bit. I guess I just wasn't a fan of long chapters that are pretty much Gus and Hazel talking about their illnesses in metaphors and being pretentious. Don't get me wrong, I like me some good metaphors, but when they're inserted into character dialogue and then become an important part of that character's personality, I start to get sick of them pretty quickly. Now let's talk about the sad stuff. I knew that this book was going to be sad, I mean this is a book about teenagers living with cancer. What I didn't expect was how quickly all the happy was going to come crashing down. I'm not a crier at all, but this the fall in this book did leave me with a bit of a lump in my throat. I've only experienced a relative having cancer once in my life (my mum's uncle died of cancer a couple of years ago and my nana died of cancer before I was born) and my experience was nothing compared to this book. I didn't get to see that person suffering and seeing it in this book made me glad that I didn't see that in my life. And I think that's what makes books about terminal illnesses (not just cancer) like this important for young people, we're able to see the pain that people go through even if we don't experience it for ourselves in reality and I think it helps us to understand.

I had a bit of a mixed reaction to the characters and I'm not sure about whether that's a good thing or not. At the beginning, I liked Hazel and didn't like Gus, whereas at the end, my sympathies got projected onto Gus and I got annoyed by Hazel. I think this is one of the very few times that this has happened when reading a book, but I guess it shows how well-rounded they are as characters as they don't stay having the same personality all the way through the story. I didn't like Gus at first because of how pretentious he is, which is one of my biggest pet peeves not only with fictional characters, but with real people. Every time he started speaking in his silly metaphors, I was rolling my eyes so hard because it was just too much. And then we get to the end and my reaction to him was completely turned on his head because I felt a huge amount of sympathy for him. As for Hazel, I really liked her at first. She was snarky and just the right amount of cynical. However, her snark and cynicism just went overboard for me at the end of the book. Like, I realise that you're angry, Hazel, but you should let everyone else be sad in their own way and express their sorrows how they want to and feels best. Just because people aren't doing things the way you do them, doesn't mean that they're wrong. Apart from Hazel and Gus, I liked all of the characters in this book. There were very few characters I didn't like at all that I wasn't supposed to dislike, and there were very few that I felt indifferent towards either.

Reading about cancer or terminal illnesses can be incredibly difficult for a lot of people because the disease takes far too many lives and it hits incredibly close to home for some people. As I'd said above, there have only been two cancer deaths in my family that I know of and they were both elderly people (if 64 counts as elderly that is), so books about young people living with the disease can be important because even though it is devastating for a person of any age to get it, we always see it as more tragic for people who are barely even adults to have no choice to live with cancer or even have their lives cut short by it. I think that books like The Fault in Our Stars are important because there are people who are have not had cancer affect their family, and books like this can help up to understand not only what people who live with the disease are going to, but people who are grieving too. Another thing I feel like I have taken from this is that cancer patients and people living with chronic illnesses don't always want our sympathy and that not everyone is hopeful about life as people on TV are. This is something that I'm definitely keeping in mind in the future.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars, despite its couple of issues that I had with it. The story was both heart-warming and heartbreaking, with its cast of lively and well-rounded characters that help to tell an important message and I think may stay with me for a while. I'm not sure if I'll read any more of John Green's books in the future; we'll just have to wait and see about that.

Review: Maleficent (2014)

Directed by: Robert Stromberg
Based on: Disney's Sleeping Beauty
Genre: Fantasy / Adventure
Released: 30 May 2014 (US) 28 May 2014 (UK) by Walt Disney Pictures
Running time: 97 mins (1 hr, 37 mins)
Rated: PG
Viewed at: Cinema
Rating: ★★★

A beautiful, pure-hearted young woman, Maleficent has an idyllic life growing up in a peaceable forest kingdom, until one day when an invading army threatens the harmony of the land. Maleficent rises to be the land's fiercest protector, but she ultimately suffers a ruthless betrayal - an act that begins to turn her pure heart to stone. Bent on revenge, Maleficent faces a battle with the invading king's successor and, as a result, places a curse upon his newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Maleficent realizes that Aurora holds the key to peace in the kingdom - and perhaps to Maleficent's true happiness as well.
Disney's 1959 film Sleeping Beauty is one of my ultimate favourite Disney films, and Maleficent is my favourite Disney villain ever (sorry, Clayton), so it's no surprise that I had added Maleficent to my watchlist as soon as it was announced. Before seeing the film, I had heard nothing but glowing praise from many people I'd talked to, so combining that with my love for the original film made me expectations pretty high. And unfortunately, I left the cinema feeling just a little disappointed.

My biggest problem with this film is the story. I realise that this is based on Sleeping Beauty, which in turn is an adaptation of two versions of the story merged together, but "re-imagining" does not by any means necessary mean throwing your source material out of the window. Maleficent shows that the eponymous fairy was once the protector of the Moors, a kingdom inhabited by magical beings, and befriended King Stefan as a child, who later betrayed and mutilated her so that he could ascend to the throne. Once Aurora (who hasn't been given the alias of Briar Rose by the three good fairies for some reason) is born and she isn't invited to the christening, Maleficent places the famous curse (that has been changed a bit) on the baby princess, only to later realise that she cares for her.While I liked the beginning of the film and seeing how Maleficent came to be a villain, it went downhill at the christening scene which just totally screwed things up for me. After this point I had no idea of what was going on and it just didn't feel like any version of the original fairy tale and more like one that Disney had written themselves. I could sit and list every single thing that I thought wasn't true to the original story, but we would all be here forever and I feel like it's time to move on from that. I usually don't mind changes in stories when they are adapted for the screen, but it makes more sense to stick to your source material than to use the bare bones of it and make your own story from it. I honestly felt like this film acts like Sleeping Beauty never happened, and that is definitely where the film let me down.

I think the film is definitely saved by its fantastic cast, especially Angelina Jolie. In her first appearance in the film, her Maleficent feels very different to the character in the original film, but as the film progresses she becomes more like the Maleficent that we're all familiar with, and she played the role perfectly. She was snarky and sly and everything that Maleficent is, but she wasn't anywhere near as wicked or, dare I say, malevolent (teehee) as the original interpretation. This comes with the way that the story has been re-imagined, as she becomes more compassionate towards Aurora and watches over her for her whole life herself, rather than staying in her castle (that she doesn't have) and sending her bird servant to spy on the princess and the fairies for her. This is a huge departure from the original character, and even the trope of the wicked fairy godmother, and while Angelina performed it incredibly well, I think I prefer Maleficent as a villain, rather than a misunderstood hero. I think I have to say that even though I liked the performances, I didn't necessarily always like the characters, if that makes sense. For example, while I liked Sharlto Copley's performance as King Stefan, I didn't exactly like how the character had become the villain of the story, when in the original film he was a kinder character, although not being a major character. I like how he's been fleshed out so much more, but not necessarily as an evil character. Also, what happened to Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather?

While Maleficent's cinematography and special effects are beautiful, I think that sometimes it went a little overboard. There is a lot of green screen and CGI used, especially in scenes that take place in the Moors, and at times the film gets so dark that it made my eyes actually hurt. And it didn't help that I was wearing 3D glasses too. Yes, I went to see a film in 3D this time! And I actually like the way that the 3D was done. It wasn't totally in-your-face type 3D, which was one of the reasons why I never used to like it (the other reason was that it strains my eyes), but more subtle. In fact, sometimes it was so subtle that I didn't realise that parts of the scene were in 3D in the first place. As for the CGI, there are times where there is so much of it that the human actors look a bit out of place, but that's to be expected from a film that features so many magical creatures and sometimes I was too focused on trying to stop my eyes from straining to notice. Seriously, this film gets too dark at times and if it hurt my eyes I can't imagine how bad it would be for people who need glasses.

Moving on the film's music, we're treated to a beautiful score that is incredibly haunting. For a family film, Maleficent has a particularly epic score that really amped up the more exciting or emotional sequences, such as the large scale battles and even scenes that show just how powerful Maleficent is. However, I think the real standout part of the film's music is Lana Del Rey's cover of Once Upon a Dream that plays over the credits. I'd heard the song ages before the film was released and, holy crap, it's just so good. It's really chilling compared to the original Mary Costa version, which suits Maleficent just perfectly. Being able to hear it properly in the cinema was just amazing, I was covered from goosebumps from hearing it.

Although it is a beautifully made film, with stunning visuals and great acting, I think I prefer Disney's original Sleeping Beauty to Maleficent. The story was turned on its head so much that it just didn't feel anything like the original fairy tale and I wasn't too big of a fan of the role reversal of Maleficent and King Stefan, or the fact that this film gets so dark that I ended up squinting to see what was happening on screen. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go hide because I'm not used to being the black sheep.

Stacking the Shelves: May 2014

Stacking the Shelves is a book haul meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Yahoo, I made it through May! I had two big essay deadlines last month that ate up so much of my time that I just couldn't find the time to read much at all. But now it's all over and I can read and blog all I want and Armchair BEA really got me into the swing of things. I've posted almost every day this week and I've never done that before (I didn't post yesterday or the day before because I suck and didn't have a review scheduled)!

Yes, round of sandwich applause for me for being active!

Anyhoo, I got a lot of books this month. So many that I'm definitely not going to be buying for a while. Let's hop to it then! Oh, and if you were at BEA and got a copy of Afterworlds: I hate you and you should have grabbed one for me (can you tell that I'm incredibly impatient for this book??).