I will be moving to Wordpress.com on October 1! My new URL will be exploringbystarlight.wordpress.com.

On Reading for School (a rambly story!)

I'm an English student in university, so it's no surprise that I have to do a lot of reading for my assignments. But there is nothing I don't like more than being told that I will need to read a novel (sometimes two) for a single module.

gif by pamivy
Obviously, I love reading. This blog wouldn't exist if I didn't. But, to me, there is a huge difference between reading for leisure and reading because I have to study it. I don't mind reading short stories to study, because short stories are exactly what they are: short. But whole novels? No thank you. I'd rather use SparkNotes. Now, I have a whole rambling story to explain my reasons, and I have some help from Superman to illustrate it.

Review: The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

The Fault in Our Stars
Directed by: Josh Boone
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, and Nat Wolff.
Based on: the novel of the same name by John Green
Genre: Drama / Romance
Released: June 6 2014 (USA) June 19 2014 (UK) by 20th Century Fox
Running time: 126 mins (2 hr, 6 mins)
Rated: PG-13 (USA) 12 (UK)
Viewed at: Cinema

IMDb | View Trailer
Hazel and Augustus are two teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them on a journey. Their relationship is all the more miraculous, given that Hazel's other constant companion is an oxygen tank, Gus jokes about his prosthetic leg, and they meet and fall in love at a cancer support group.
Want to know what I thought of the book? Click here for my review!

After reading the book, I wasn't actually too sure if I actually wanted to see the film version of The Fault in Our Stars thanks to nearly everyone on Tumblr (well, at least on my dash) pretty much mildly ripping the film to shreds before it had even been released. So, after a bit of thinking and realising that I shouldn't let Tumblr dictate what I like, I booked my ticket and off I went to the cinema. Having read the book beforehand, I knew what I was getting myself into, but this adaptation still had a pretty big effect on me.

The story of TFiOS is basically the same as the book, which is the story of teens Hazel (who has terminal lung cancer), and Augustus (who had osteoscaroma, and is now an amputee) and the romance that they develop after meeting at a cancer support group. When I say that the story is the same, I mean that it follows the book almost to the exact words. The only two things that were completely removed (as far as I can remember) are Hazel's friend Kaitlyn, and Gus's former girlfriend Caroline aren't mentioned, and the fact that neither of them are mentioned didn't really make much of a difference (especially with Kaitlyn, who is an incredible minor character). I think the film still retains all of the emotional gut punches that the book has, and even though I knew when to expect those kicks to the feels, I was still caught unaware. As soon as we hit the gas station scene, I was sitting with a permanent sad face that lasted up until the final scene. I actually found the end of the film to be more bittersweet because we get to see Hazel's reactions and feelings play out, rather than simply reading the same thing she was reading. There's just something about hearing the actor read out what their character has written that just gets to me.

I reacted  little bit better to the characters in the film than I did in the book. I'd said in my book review that at the beginning of the book, I liked Hazel but wasn't too keen on Gus, and at the end those switched around. Here, my liking of Hazel didn't sour as much as it did at the end of the book and this is probably because this is a visual medium where we're not always getting Hazel's thoughts, which I thought were incredibly cynical and even rude in the book. I think that Shailene Woodley played her to be a little bit more civil, despite all of the emotions that Hazel has, which made for a great performance because she obviously has an incredibly good grasp on the character. As for Ansel Elgort, I think he gave an amazing performance as Gus. And although he did manage to make me roll my eyes with the whole metaphor thing at the beginning of the film, it wasn't as overboard as in the film, thanks to the charming, and then incredibly powerful, performance that Elgort gives. I know that I've said before that I'm not a crier, but my face was definitely doing all sorts of things when it came to Gus at the end of the film. Now, I want to talk about Willem Dafoe, who gave my favourite performance in the whole film as Peter Van Houten. In the book, Van Houten is a pretty shitty person, however when Dafoe brought him to life on screen, he became completely repulsive, and that is definitely a good thing. I didn't actually know that Dafoe was in this film, but when he appeared on that screen, I had a pretty good feeling that he would give an awesome performance. And also, the Swedish hip-hop didn't sound as bad as I thought it would.

Visually, The Fault in Our Stars is a simple but beautiful film. Because this is a contemporary film, there aren't really any fancy camera techniques which just seems pretty obvious. However, the landscapes and long shots that we see are stunning, especially the scenes that take place in Amsterdam. I'm glad that the crew actually filmed in Amsterdam (is there any other way?) because we get to see the beautiful landscape of the city, which is seen from almost all angles. There are a few moments that have been filmed in a sort of clichéd manner (when Hazel is taken to the emergency room, it's all in slow motion and there's no sound, for example) but that didn't really bother me because it was so effective.

Moving on to the music, TFiOS uses music that is very typical of teen romance/drama films. We have both licensed music, and the average soft guitar and piano score that is used in every single film that's about normal people somewhat normal situations. To be honest, I didn't really pay much attention to the score, partly because of how average it is, and partly because it is completely overshadowed by the amount of licensed music that is used. I'm not usually a fan of pop songs in films because I tend to get distracted by them, but I actually liked the songs that were used in the film. Not enough to actually go out and buy the soundtrack though, but they were pretty good songs.

I like the film version of The Fault in Our Stars just about the same amount as I enjoyed the book. The film follows the book very closely, with very few differences, and the characters are wonderfully brought to life by its cast mainly comprised of actors that I haven't seen before (excluding Willem Dafoe, who I've seen plenty of times). This isn't one of those films that you have to read the book before watching, which is nice for your average movie goers, and I think also a bit of a treat for bookish people who often like the film to be very much like the book.

Review: Anatomy of a Single Girl by Daria Snadowsky

Anatomy of a Single Girl
Author: Daria Snadowsky
Series: Anatomy #2
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Released: January 8 2013 by Delacorte
Source: Purchased

Add to Goodreads | Purchase on Amazon | Purchase on TBD
After everything that happened - my first boyfriend, my first time, my first breakup - jumping back into the dating game seemed like the last healthy thing I could do. Of course, as soon as I stopped looking for someone, and impossibly amazing - and devastatingly cute - guy came along. The moment we got together, all my preconceptions about romance and sex were turned upside down. I discovered physical and emotional firsts I never knew existed. I learned to let go of my past by living in the present. It was thrilling. It was hot. It was just what the doctor ordered. But I couldn't avoid my future forever.
Want to know what I thought of Anatomy of a Boyfriend? Click here for my review!

I really enjoyed Anatomy of a Boyfriend, and was eager to get myself a copy of Anatomy of a Single Girl and find out what the rest of Dom's story is. And after the amount of sexual content that is in the first book, I was actually kind of curious to see which direction the sequel would take, and I liked reading every moment of not only this book, but the series as a whole.

Anatomy of a Single Girl takes place several months after the end of Anatomy of a Boyfriend and Dom is no longer with her boyfriend, Wes, from the first book. Now, Dom has some weird feelings for her friend Calvin, but isn't too eager to get back into the dating game just yet. Then when she goes home and takes on an internship at the hospital, she meets cutie Guy and starts having a no-strings 'relationship' with him over the summer, while her best friend Amy, on the other hand, is the one with the boyfriend this time. I loved the story of Anatomy of a Single Girl because we get to see Dom grow and learn from her experiences, and even find out new things about herself. One thing about the way the story moves that I found interesting is that the actual sex scenes are towards the end of the book, whereas in Anatomy of a Boyfriend, they appear about halfway through. I liked this because it kind of shows a change in Dom's character, which is that she wants to be sure of herself, rather than thinking that she's sure and pretty much just rushing into things like she did in her first relationship with Wes, who, by the way, isn't mentioned by name.

As I'd said in my review of Anatomy of a Boyfriend,I think that the best part of this series is the characters. These are the kind of characters that are so complex, that it doesn't matter whether you like them or not because they have been written so realistically. Real people make mistakes, and rush into things without thinking, and get into fights over trivial little things such as what the other person plans to do in the future, and so do the characters. I think I like Dom more in this book because she has matured since the first book and doesn't really do things that get on my nerves anymore. But at the same time, she was still the same old Dom who was paranoid about getting STDs to the point that she makes boys get tested before they have sex and has her love for human biology. As for Guy, I would want him for a summer boyfriend. Or even a regular boyfriend. Either way, I want this dude for myself. He was funny, charming, and sweet, and shares my views on children, which is always a plus in my book. Well, he does have a pretty cynical view on marriage, but I still want him for myself.

While Boyfriend had the theme of first relationships and first times, I got more of a 'casual sex' theme in Single Girl, which I kind of liked because even in other YA books that deal with sex, I manage to get a pretty careful message of 'wait until you're with someone you wouldn't regret having sex with', which is kind of true but can be overbearing because there's nothing wrong with having casual sex with different people at all. It's how people learn about what they like and whether it's going to work out with people, and I think that's more of what I got here, which I'm very glad about. Because sometimes depending on where in the world you are, teens can get bombarded with lessons about abstinence and horror stories about STDs, but not about the real side of enjoying sex because a lot of the time, it does get associated with love rather than just enjoying yourself.

Normally at the end of a series that I really like, I would say that I would want to see more and what happens to the characters next, but I think that Anatomy of a Single Girl finishes off the series in such a good way that I'm satisfied with the series coming to a close. I think that I may give the Anatomy series a reread some time in the future, just to relive it all over again.

Top 10 Books I Want to See as Movies

Top 10 Books I Want to See as Movies

I'm definitely not the kind of person to run around shouting "THE BOOK WAS BETTER" (not that there's anything wrong with that) when a film based on a book comes out (sometimes the film was better than the book), and I'm definitely not one to say that I don't want my favourite book to ever become a film. This topic came up as one of the introduction questions for Armchair BEA, and I've thought about it more and have more books that I would want to see as films. So, here we go!