Thursday, 25 May 2017

Talking Personal: A Month Away (Far, Far Away)

It's been awhile has it not.

I was on such a blogging roll before I disappeared, but I do have a somewhat valid reason. I spent a month away in Japan and Korea! A very well deserved (?) holiday I would say. The last Talking Personal was in February, so hopefully I remember what I actually got up to!

Honestly, there wasn't anything super exciting between February and mid April. I worked as per usual, got my blogging game back on track and watched the most amount of movies I've ever seen a year in the span of 4 months. Favourite movie so far this year would have to be Logan. Checked out a couple of brunch places and saw Justin Bieber live! I didn't particularly love his concert but can still tick that off as something I've always wanted to do. I actually wrote a post about all the brunch places I've been to so read up on them here.




Something else that I managed to get around to was going to the gym again. I've been trying to get my fitness levels up and combined with playing in a Futsal team I'd like to think that I'm seeing some results. Shoutout to my girl Cindy for being my trainer, despite the numerous times I complain whilst working out. Footy season started as well, and it's been really good seeing Carlton lift - there is hope guys!

I flew out to Japan mid April, and spent 10 days with a friend before doing Korea and the rest of Japan alone. Everyone who goes to Japan comes back raving about it and yet, I felt like I didn't love it as much as I thought I would. Perhaps it's because I've lived in Korea - I have ties there, so many memories and such a comfortable feeling about the place - but I definitely prefer it over Japan. The two countries are similar in some ways, but have such different vibes. Japan has an amazing culture that takes time, a lot of time, to absorb. Korea is a lot more laid back, and really the best times are when you're eating, partying and shopping. I was super excited to return to Korea after 2 years and reunite with my exchange friends and shop - I went a little crazy shopping wise. I still think Japan was beautiful and I'm so grateful to be able to travel and see the world. I also got to meet some wonderful people who made the trip so much more fun. Expect to see haul videos and a travel VLOG soon! In the meantime here are a few snaps.



Hiroshima \\ Atomic Bomb



Disney Sea \\ Aladdin


Mt. Fuji


Bukhansan Peak \\ Seoul

I've been back for a week now and have jumped back into work again as well working on future content so keep an eye out.

How Have You Guys Been? Have You Been To Japan Or Korea Before? Let Me Know What You Thought Of It?

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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

A Somewhat Late Article On "13 Reasons Why" And What Constitutes As Depression

 Instead of writing a review on the book/show I've decided to actually address the shows major theme and why I think it's important to look beyond all the characters and the story development to focus on what the show is really delivering.  Note, if you haven't read or watched 13 reasons why, this post will contain spoilers. 

 I know I join the numerous written articles debating the show and whether it was "good" or not (in fact, this post has been published later than intended). But for all the arguments I've had with people, I've decided writing about it will give me a better opportunity to explain myself. Hannah’s story has received criticism for singling out and placing responsibility of her death on her classmates. She puts the 13 people, including Clay her only friend, through a terrifying listening experience, which has been condemned as traumatic and insensitive. Yes, I can acknowledge the plot set up might not portray the best means to get across a suicide story but beyond the plot development and character arc there is a lot more to take out of 13 Reasons Why. More specifically, I wanted to address the depiction of depression and how it’s important to understand the different effects it has on people.

 A lot of Hannah’s problems were a result of high school bullying. For a person who is not in high school anymore and has much more than school reputation and bullying jocks to be concerned about, it’s really easy for me to consider what Hannah went through as somewhat trivial. I find myself telling my younger brother to “get over it” because in the long run adult life is a lot more stressful. Yet, when I think about it, everyone’s feelings is valid, regardless of what they are experiencing. I failed to acknowledge that my brother’s feelings were hurt, much like Hannah’s, and that can produce quite negative repercussions. In Hannah’s case, the false rumours made by Justin, Courtney and Marcus reduces Hannah to being “easy”, which gave her classmates a reason to devalue and demean her relentlessly. Despite none of it being true, and knowing full well she was better than that, Hannah had no one who would believe her or stand up for her. 

In reality, there are people who face this daily. It’s never a good feeling to constantly be reduced to one degrading word or not be recognised as an actual human with feelings. It’s hard then to not feel hopeless, lonely and somewhat sad and angry at the world. These emotions are the bare surface of what can lead to depression. I know a lot of viewers have said that 13 Reasons Why is an inaccurate representation of depression but I beg to differ. I’m no expert at this topic and wouldn’t say that I understand depression 100%, but I have experienced it for a good part of my life and know that there is a lot more to depression than what people think. There is no set mould for depression. Instead, everyone experiences it differently and from various reasons. Some people might think high school bullying is nothing compared to what they’ve gone through, but that doesn’t mean their feelings aren’t valid. During my high school years, right up until 2nd year university, I was fighting my own battles with depression. I felt lonely, lost, constantly angry with myself and that I was just wasting space being alive. It got pretty bad. Because of this, I can really relate with Hannah. How I felt didn’t stem from the same reasons that Hannah had, but it produced pretty similar feelings. We tend to think depression as just being immensely sad. In actual fact, depression doesn’t mean you’re constantly moping around and crying. I could go a whole day laughing and joking with my friends, then come home and just feel all this sadness, bitterness and emptiness settle in me. Much like how Hannah conducted herself, a person suffering depression can go about their lives as they always have, but have these feelings manifest within themselves. People who suffer depression mask it very well. It’s hard to detect but everyone feels something different and for different reasons. I could never tell someone that their feeling of depression is the wrong way of feeling it. Imagine how insensitive and just downright condescending that would be. 

 Many argue that Hannah should’ve sought help instead of placing blame on everyone. I would never blame anyone for someone taking their own life. Yes, Hannah had her own issues and the actions of those around her drove her to commit suicide, but no one will ever force someone to do it. However, again, depending on how someone experiences depression and what they think about it, it’s never easy to talk about how you’re feeling when it’s hard to describe and the person might not take you seriously. Hannah had no friends to confide in after losing them to the false accusations she was facing. When she decides to talk to the school counsellor he was completely out of his depth. He kept questioning her feelings, doubting her claims of rape, and just had no idea how to listen. Personally, I felt I couldn’t tell anyone how I felt because on the outside I was always constantly a bubbly, cheerful person. If I was to say something, I was worried people would think I was attention seeking and to even think of dying, I didn’t feel comfortable sharing that burden on someone in case I did do it and they would blame themselves for not being able to “save” me. When Ryan publishes Hannah’s poem, expressing her desire to die, her classmates all thought she was just crying for attention. How do you then seek someone out to confide in them when that’s the first thing that think about you when you talk about wanting to end the pain? All you can think is that people don’t care - about you, whether you die or not - and maybe it is easier to do so. 

 13 Reasons Why had problematic plot developments and character arcs, but what I gained from it is something I feel like we all should recognise. No matter whether you think someone’s issues are trivial or not, their feelings are still important and worth acknowledging. As decent human beings, it would do us good to just be nice to everyone, to show that we care and that everyone has a worth. You will never know what is going on in someone’s life. There is no need to make it worse by being petty and demeaning because words will always have an affect - even if you think you’re just joking. No one should have to go through depression, especially not alone. If you feel like you are alone in this world, I promise you, there will always be one person out there who cares. It’s not easy to see the light at the end of tunnel but I can ensure you, it is there. It’s okay to seek help.

 I really hope I articulated what I wanted to relay in the best way possible, but depression is a serious issue and even if you didn't enjoy the show, there still needs to be an acknowledgement that 13 Reasons Why delivered a powerful image on what one version of depression looks like amongst the many other experiences people have.

For national help lines within Australia read here and here.



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Tuesday, 18 April 2017

"Beauty and The Beast" Was A Beauty To Watch

Source: Disney UK

Review


I had high expectations for this version of Beauty and the Beast, despite knowing it could go quite wrong. Thankfully, ever so thankfully, I fell in love with it and now know it will be one of those movies I will watch over and over again and won’t be bored.

The live action of Beauty and the Beast stays quite closely to its animation counterpart. Surprisingly, most scenes had the actors/actresses mimic the actions of the animated characters, which I thought it was clever touch of detail and I much appreciated.

Source: Disney UK

I loved Emma Watson in the part of Belle. She displayed the courageous and steadfast nature of Belle, and it was just so believable to see her as the character. Watson isn’t an amazing singer, but her voice blended sweetly with the songs and was supported well by the rest of the cast. She was beautiful in this role and the chemistry between Dan Stevens and herself were great to watch. 

The romance between the two has always somewhat been controversial. A lot of debate regarding Stockholm Syndrome and Beauty and The Beast has arisen since the animation, but the movie portrays the importance of choice and self-will, which I really liked. The one aspect this live action does better than the animation is conveying the relationship progress between Belle and the Beast. There is a lot more banter between the two, with the two making jokes and sharing their love for their different interests. It made the romance more realistic and believable - you can’t help but root for them. 

Source: Disney UK


There are certain scenes that are added and some songs that are changed, but it doesn’t take away from the story and wasn’t something drastic that I felt like wasn’t necessary. Josh Gad as Lefou was a standout character for me, with his voice and humour. I also like that they adapted his character to include diversity - despite the controversy around his role. Favourite musical number would have to be Belle for its rich sound and the strength in the singing from everyone in the song. Be My Guest was probably the most satisfying to watch on screen, with the extravagant CGI effects, that made the song all that more fun. 

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, seriously go and watch it. It was amazing and I have been repeating the soundtrack for the past 2 weeks since watching it. 
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Thursday, 13 April 2017

Experience A Whirlwind of Emotions in "This House of Grief" by Helen Garner

Title: This House of Grief
Author: Helen Garner
Publication Date: August 20th, 2014
Add to Goodreads | Buy from The Book Depository

On the evening of 4 September 2005, Robert Farquharson, a separated husband, was driving his three sons home to their mother when his car plunged into a dam. The boys, aged ten, seven, and two, drowned. Was this an act of deliberate revenge or a tragic accident? The court case became Helen Garner's obsession. She was in the courtroom every day of Farquharson's trial and subsequent retrial, along with countless journalists and the families of both the accused and his former wife.

In this utterly compelling book, Helen Garner tells the story of a man and his broken life. At its core is a search for truth that takes author and reader through complex psychological terrain. Garner exposes, with great compassion, that truth and justice are as complex as human frailty and morality.


Review


It's hard to give such a novel a rating, due to the nature of it. I rarely do read non fiction, although that's something I'm trying to change.

Garner is renowned for her recounts of criminal cases, and I can understand why. She adds a personal flair to the case, which makes reading it a lot more comfortable. Covering a murder trial is never easy, especially one in which the father is accused of killing his children. I commend Garner for enduring through the countless trials conducted over the years. She writes in a way, which presents the facts, but also prompts readers to critically analyse both the prosecution and defences arguments. Garner writes of her thoughts and feelings but does not endeavour to force them on the reader, which I really apppreciate. Whilst reading it, I found that I was made to think for myself and really come to a decision.

The case itself is one that is absolutely shocking, but having occurred in 2005, I was young and barely remember the case. This House of Grief gave me the insight I needed to fill I'm th gaps. At times the recount of the trial did become dreary and I glossed over parts of it. However, I felt like that was due to the way that trial was conducted, and not necessarily Garner's writing. There's only so much glamorising that can be done, without losing the reality of the case. The ending really picked up, and the intensity of the case was reflected perfectly. I flew through the last 100 pages purely because of how fast paced and engrossing the trial became. Truly, I did feel like I was in the court right next to her.

I felt such a rush of different emotions reading This House of Grief, but nothing beats the sorrow I feel for the three young boys. Garner conveys this Grief perfectly, narrating that we cannot sympathise having never lost a child, but through the course of the trial the three boys have become “ours” - ours to mourn over and to fear for our own children - which I believe to be true.

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Thursday, 6 April 2017

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Title: Empire of Storms
Series: Throne of Glass #5
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publication Date: September 6th, 2016
Add to Goodreads | Buy from The Book Depository

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius as war looms on the horizon. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don't.

With her heart sworn to the warrior-prince by her side, and her fealty pledged to the people she is determined to save, Aelin will delve into the depths of her power to protect those she loves. But as monsters emerge from the horrors of the past, and dark forces become poised to claim her world, the only chance for salvation will lie in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.


Review


To be quite honest, before writing my review I actually read a few just to get a feel of how other readers rated this book. And boy was I surprised. Empire of Storms was another great addition to the series - at least to me. Now I find my views to be controversial oooOoooO.

I love this series purely for it being fast paced and action packed, filled with characters who really only have one goal and they’re not afraid to risk anything in order to achieve it. Maas writes in a way that had me engrossed and I like that even though there is such a gap between the releases I don't feel lost by the time I pick up the next one. The characters also felt familiar and I immediately could connect with them - or at the very least start rooting for them again.

I definitely am invested in Aelin’s tale, the progress she’s made and how she has grown throughout the series. Fighting to be my favourite character, next to Aelin, is Manon. She will forever be my favourite “villain”. Her character conveys the importance of humanity, mercy and comradeship perfectly - it is so inspiring. Other characters had interesting arcs, even if they were out of place or really out of character (excuse the pun). The story involves two characters, Elide and Lorcan, more this time but both characters only grew on me by the end. For the most part I couldn’t really care less about they were up to.

The story line came full circle by the ending and everything clicked into place. It was a smart move by Maas to keep everything hidden, but it did feel a little like a finale from another series - no spoilers, sorry. There were some scenes that did seem out of place or really unnecessary and the excessive sex scenes weren’t amazing. I wasn’t put off by them too much but I can see why a lot of other readers wouldn’t think it’d be okay, seeing as this is as YA series.

I can see why some people aren’t huge fans of this series anymore, I get it, it’s definitely nothing like the first three novels in the series. However, I am curious to see how this series will end so I’m in it for the final ride. I still think that Empire of Storms was an enjoyable and exciting read, that kept me invested and engaged, and that’s what I want out of reading a story.

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