Tuesday 30 May 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: End of 2017 Anticipated Releases

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, where we list our top ten according to the a topic of the week. Check out future topics here

Top "Ten" Most Anticipated Releases For The End Of 2017

So I'm going to cheat a little by listening a little, just a little, more than 10 on this list. Okay, maybe not a little - but there are so many exciting releases coming out lat 2017, I cannot wait! 

Grab a snack and settle in because I've got a fair few to introduce to you. 

Top Five I'm Most Excited For

Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan (June 13th)
Lydia's regular customer, Joey, suicides in the backroom of her bookstore. She is left all his possessions but when going through them, finds his books covered in notes that may have a hidden message for her. 

Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin (June 27th)
17 year old Genesis is abandoned at the Planned Parenthood clinic by her boyfriend after wanting to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. She has to brace for a future without any support, and embark on a journey to learn about herself.

Emma In The Night by Wendy Walker (August 8th)
Sisters Emma and Cass disappear five years ago. Then Cass returns and tells a tale of being held captive on an island. Psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter thinks otherwise, delving into the family’s life and finding something much more darker than expected.

Warcross by Marie Lu (September 12th)
Warcross is much more than an online game for the millions of people who play it. When Emika finds herself thrust into the centre of it, she discovers the game is a lot more darker than it seems and soon she has to embark on a journey of survival. 

The Becoming of Noah Shaw by Michele Hodkin (November 7th)
Finally, 3 years after the finale of the Mara Dyer Trilogy, Michele Hodkin is releasing the start to the series written through the perspective of Noah Shaw and you guys have. no. bloody. idea how excited I am. 

Which Releases Are You Guys Most Excited For?

Sunday 28 May 2017

Crash and Burn Wasn't Anything I Expected

Title: Crash and Burn
Author: Michael Hassan 
Publication Date:
Add to Goodreads | Buy from The Book Depository 
On April 21, 2008, Steven "Crash" Crashinsky saved more than a thousand people when he stopped his classmate David Burnett from taking their high school hostage armed with assault weapons and high-powered explosives. You likely already know what came after for Crash: the nationwide notoriety, the college recruitment, and, of course, the book deal.

What you might not know is what came before: a story of two teens whose lives have been inextricably linked since grade school, who were destined, some say, to meet that day in the teachers' lounge of Meadows High. And what you definitely don't know are the words that Burn whispered to Crash right as the siege was ending, a secret that Crash has never revealed.

Until now.


Crash and Burn is such a controversial novel, being one of the few books I’ve read that tackle school shootings or heists of any kind. Yet, despite the plot building up to that moment, the actual premise is learning about Crash and Burn themselves and how they constantly find themselves “connected” within different events. 

I felt like Hassan was trying to deliver a profound message to readers, yet for some reason, a lot of it was lost on me or perhaps not thoroughly explored as I had wanted. I would’ve liked for Hassan to delve further into why school shootings/heists occur and why it has increased in the past few years. Instead, Hassan pulled together a story delivering the highs and lows of teenage high school students, including building relationships, dealing with hypocritical parents and the effects of drugs and alcohol.  Once I realised it was going to be different to what I expected, I began to enjoy Hassan’s refreshing, albeit somewhat glorified, version of teenagers juggling their life responsibilities with their own desires. 

Each character had their own voice and persona, which was the strong point of the novel. They each were memorable, which I find surprising because I tend to really only remember the protagonists in other novels. In saying that, Crash and Burn didn’t have much of an impact on me. I’m not sure why Hassan wrote Crash the way he did, but there were moments in the book where he came across as really misogynist and ignorant, which you might look past because of his age, but didn’t sit well with me. If I had to justify it I would say that Hassan might be trying to highlighting the problem with high school boys and their infatuation with girls, more specifically their bodies. However, if that was the case I don’t know how successful that was delivered because Crash was written so much like a hero that everything he did didn’t read as negative or wrong. There was a strong focus on the over sexualisation of girls and their use as objects to reinforce masculinity, but no message around how unacceptable that is and that girls should be treated with respect. That was probably my biggest issue with Crash and Burn. 

Roxanne, Burn’s sister, was my favourite character. I found her to be the most realistic and relatable out of everyone else. It was so striking and somewhat terrifying that whilst reading about her I was envisioning a younger version of myself.

The main focus of the story was the secret, which was revealed at the end. I did find the secret to be shocking and saddening. However, Crash never goes on to explain it. I really, really just wanted to know the reasoning behind Burn’s actions but I was left with so many questions and the fact that the novel ended the way it did was really unsatisfying. I enjoyed Crash and Burn for being different, and trying to somewhat explore the issues that teenagers face and should be addressed in everyday life. I’m just not sure if it was delivered appropriately and I guess that’s where I find Crash and Burn to be an interesting but not amazing read.

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?

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.