Lifestyle Blogger. Promdi. Filipina.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Netflix Review: Her Private Life

Have you ever been a KPop fan? I loved listening to Super Junior, 2NE1 and Big Bang back in the day, but I was never as big a fan as some people are today with BTS.  Still, as someone who used to fangirl for local celebrities, I totally understand the world of being a super fan. The Netflix series Her Private Life focuses on the life of a young woman working in an art gallery in South Korea who is secretly a fangirl for a KPop star/idol. 

I was not expecting to like the show. I was initially watching when I discovered that Kim Jae Wook, who played the Waffle Guy on Coffee Prince, is the lead in this one while I was browsing through suggested shows on Netflix. As I went on watching the show, I became hooked because of the comedy (it was so funny my family would turn and look at me when I suddenly laughed out loud), the love element (because the chemistry of the lead actors was so good) and the fact that the female lead was doing a job that I once wished I could do: curating art. It was also amazing to see how she was able to do that job, be a fangirl (who managed her own fan site) and still be an independent woman who also helps her family (and other people when they need it). She deserved all the good things that eventually came her way because she worked hard and was a good person.

One of my favorite parts of the show was when she spiked his drink with coffee, which as it turns out he was allergic to. That was the ice breaker that started their relationship for me. A romance that started with an allergy…reminds me a little of how the characters first got together in another Korean drama called Lie to Me. I also cannot forget to mention the scene where they told each other how they felt! Considering most KDramas I've seen have very conservative kissing scenes, I was surprised to see that!

The supporting cast for this one had their own stories that were part of the show. I liked that they were included without getting in the way of the main story but at the same time it did not feel that they were just stuffed into the story just for the sake of it. How both lead characters lived their lives around their friends, co-workers and family were as much a part of how their story and their love developed as anything else that they did together. I would love to see a spin-off of Si An's character, the little brother who was a KPop idol. Like how he could find love even if he was a star or something like that.

I have watched a couple of other Netflix shows from Korea but aside from Crash Landing on You (by far the best I have seen so far), this is one that I consider my favorite. It has such a good mix of drama, romance and comedy. It was not a tearjerker like Crash Landing on You, but it did have its touching moments. Mostly, I love how it showed a couple while they are in a relationship. How you accept each other’s personalities and quirks, how it is not always perfect, how it is a partnership that you need to work together on and all that. 

Most Korean male lead characters end up too dominant to the point of being problematic because of how they treat the female lead but in this one, I did not think it was the case. Sure, he was your typical grumpy, bossy guy. But he was never out of line when he did so. With what he had been through when he was abandoned as a child, you could understand why he was the way that he was initially. 

The character Ryan Gold is probably one of my favorite male lead characters in a KDrama. As the art director who used to paint but lost his mojo, Kim Jae Wook did a good job playing this aloof character. He could have coasted on just being the hot guy of the show, but he gave depth to his character in this one. There was more to him than brooding and looking pissed off all the time.

Another thing I loved about this character was that he went out of his way to help Deok Mi even when she did not ask for it.  As grumpy as he was, his heart was always in the right place. I think that was what drew him into a relationship with her, when he just wanted to help her out of her “scandal.” He also showed a very secure side of him when he supported her as a KPop fangirl. He did tease her, but he was supportive to the point of giving her a special gift on her birthday related to her idol. I remember thinking that he was such a sweet, mature and very secure boyfriend when he did it. When he let her do her thing in New York, it proved even more that he was the ideal, supportive boyfriend. I was half expecting him to ask her to stay with him and miss out on her opportunity, but he ended up going with her and giving up his job instead. How many guys will do that? I wanted him to be MY boyfriend after finishing the show!

I hope that Kim Jae Wook does another show like this again with someone like Park Min Young (Deok Mi), who seems to do well no matter who she is paired with (and she has been in a few good ones already). I would love to see him as a lead in a rom com like this one more time. He is already nearing his 40s, I hope they still give him projects like this even if he is older!

If you enjoy KDramas and would love to laugh and feel kilig while watching a hot guy and a cute girl, I suggest that you watch this show. It is worth the time binge-watching it!

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Book Review: The Selection Series

I have been doing a lot of re-reading these days. Mostly fiction, mostly Romance, but also some Young Adult (YA) books that are targeted more for the teen market. Recently I have re-read a series of books from Kierra Cass called The Selection. 

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Like the series I did a review on previously, this has a set of five books, with four spin-off novellas from the point of view of the other characters in the series.  I liked the one about the Queen since she seemed to be someone that was just featured in passing in the other books. Another book, The Soldier, would have been nice to have been set later on in the series, so that readers could have gotten an understanding why in the later books he ended up with who he was married to.

The first book, The Selection, is set in a future era where America is no longer the USA but another nation that is now ruled by royalty. It introduces the selection process where the Maxon, the Prince and heir to the throne, is to select a bride from a group of women who are brought to the palace for him to get to know. It is amusing to think that in some future world, the concept of The Bachelor managed to survive where (apparently) Halloween has not. 

The first three books revolve around the selection process, and the growing relationship between Maxon and America, who eventually becomes his bride despite the odds against them. The last two books then focus on their daughter, who must undergo the same selection process twenty years later.

I found that the first three books that were about Maxon and America more exciting than the last two about their daughter. I found the story of the of the former to be more high stakes compared to the latter. The first story was exciting since not only was not just about the relationship between Maxon and America. It was about the friends that were made along the way. It was about politics, intrigue and the complexities of their modern world and the utopia that Maxon was aiming to achieve for their future. 

It was moving to read about the things that the characters had to endure in the first three books. The domestic violence that Maxon experienced in the hands of the King was surprising considering how different he seemed to be in his youth. The punishment that one of the participants of the selection experienced when she fell in love with someone else was also jarring. Considering that it was set in a future world, it was a heartbreaking that the punishment was in the way that it was dealt. The fact that the author was also willing to kill a character who was finally redeeming herself, just when readers became emotionally invested, was shocking but at the same time a wise move. It made me as a reader feel for the characters and the stakes even more. 

The last two books, The Heir and The Crown, were for me a bit lighter fare compared to its predecessors. I felt that the process was not as difficult this time around. There were still rebels and there was still political intrigue, but as a reader I felt that the daughter had it easier than her parents. It was, however, nice to revisit the older characters and see how they were doing twenty years later. If only for that, I enjoyed the last two books as well.

It was not surprising that the books have been proposed several times to become a TV series. There have been a couple of pilots made for TV, but both have not pushed through. Recently however there has been news that it would become a movie (the first book at least) on Netflix. 
As disappointed as I am that the TV series never worked out, I am also happy about it because I know that if it was not executed in the way that the readers who loved the books expected, it would feel like a wasted opportunity. I am keeping my fingers crossed that Netflix would do a good job and that the movie will turn out to be a series of movies to cover the entire story.

This series is a long read, but if you have got the time and you do not mind reading Young Adult books, I would highly recommend this. 


Friday, May 8, 2020

Quarantine Stories: Work from Home

There is one more week to go before the Enhanced Community Quarantine (supposedly) ends. According to the news there are currently meetings going on about whether that quarantine will be extended or not. At this point, anything can happen. One thing is for sure though, I will continue to be working from home for the entire duration of the pandemic due to government rules social distancing, especially for people with “co-morbidities” like me. It appears that for the foreseeable future. I will be doing my work online at the mercy of my internet service provider and my aging laptop.  

work from home
Image by DarkWorkX from Pixabay

I am not sure if I am happy or sad about being allowed to work from home. Mostly sad, I guess? It is such a challenge to work from home and be at the mercy of whatever available technology I have available. Most of my files are in my computer at the office so I have had to adjust to working from scratch as much as I can. My tablet and my phone are busy these days as I try to make use of them to help me accomplish my tasks easier. I do not think I have ever done an internet speed test as often as I have lately just to check if I am having issues with my ISP because I need it to get my work done.

Another point of concern about working from home is how difficult it is when the other people I work with are not as tech-savvy when it comes to doing their jobs at home. When we’re at the office, I can usually help them when they can’t figure something out with a website or one program or another but now that we are not together, it takes doubly longer for me to get the work that I need from them because of a whole slew of issues. Adaptation is a word that they are seemingly having a problem with. They need to learn to do their work and adjust to this “new normal.” It is frustrating to be waiting all the time for people to complete things. Sometimes I wonder if I am the only one working while at home because I do not see the output that I am looking for. I cannot exactly get mad at anyone even if that would seem to be the normal reaction. This is an unusual situation and we are clearly not prepared for this. 

I have tried to get people into making use of apps for communication. I tried getting people on Zoom but just the process of installing it on their phones or home PCs or laptops was a problem. I really should not have been surprised considering that using Facebook Messenger as our means of communication was already challenging at best since people took forever to read and reply to messages.

My Meralco bill is another issue. I have had to use my laptop all day, every workday. I have had to turn on my air conditioning all day to work in this extremely hot and humid weather. I am consuming more electricity than I normally would at home so I am quite sure I will faint when I get the bill eventually when they stop averaging the consumption.

Honestly. I have always wanted to work from home. I have considered doing that long before the pandemic and the quarantines started. I think I do my best work on my own and being at home where I can focus in a comfortable space with no distractions has proven to be good for me. I have accomplished more work at home than I usually do if I am in the office. The only delays I have are a result of me waiting for other people who are also working from home and have not been able to have as much output as I do. I think that if I worked from home and needed to work with others who can do the same, I can accomplish even more than what I do now. 

Being at home is less stressful for me compared to being in the office. I love that I am with my family, especially at a time like this. Even with all its challenges, working at home does have its advantages. I wear comfortable clothes at home. I do not wear makeup and I do not have to travel to get to work. I cannot complain.

Still, I do miss the way things used to be. I often wonder when things will get back to normal, but the way things are going now I think that will not be for an awfully long time. 

Will things ever be the same? Will things ever be “normal” again? Sadly, the answer is feeling like a great big NO.

I hope life proves me wrong.


Thursday, May 7, 2020

Beauty Review: Rose Quartz Roller

Beauty is a category I do not tackle as much in this blog. I think it is because I have always considered myself low maintenance when it comes to that department. Sometimes though, I give in to a trend or two to give it a try. I was looking at an ad from a beauty supply store on Instagram and decided that wanted to try their rose quartz beauty roller. 

According to a review I saw online, beauty rollers are a trend these days because its benefits for the skin. It is a massage and workout for the face, helping to slim it down by making it look less puffy by increasing the circulation of blood and lymphatic flow in that area. An added benefit is that it helps whatever skin care products you use to be penetrated by the skin easier.   

rose quartz beauty roller

The beauty roller that I bought from the online shop Beauty Matters is different from most of the rollers I have seen online because both ends of the roller can be used on the face. The roller end is for most parts of the face while the other, flatter end is for use around the eye to help remove eye bags. Aside from that, the roller is also USB rechargeable because it has a vibrating feature that supposedly helps it to be more effective.

Most rollers for sale are commonly made of one gem: jade. These days, there are other types like rose quartz and amethyst. The roller I bought was both a rose quartz and amethyst one, with the latter being a flat gem that can be used for the eyes. Both gems are attachments you can place on the handle, which makes it easier to pack in case you want to bring it with you when you travel.  

From what I have seen from beauty bloggers, they use this after washing their face, usually when they put on serums, moisturizers or whatnot. After I read that Dr. Vicki Belo does not advise the use of moisturizers, I have stopped using them so when I tried my roller, I just used it on a bare face. It felt good on my face, it was like I was exercising my facial muscles while I was working it on my skin. Some vloggers place the roller in the freezer so that you use it cold, but I did not see the point since I was not even halfway through when that cold feel ended. The gem itself is a bit cold to the touch anyway so I do not think that it matters much if it was in the freezer or not.

Being the low maintenance person that I am, I have not used the roller that often. I think I used it a couple of nights and mornings the first time I got it. I cannot see any significant visible change in my face or skin just yet, but then it could be because I do not use it regularly. It does help me to look less puffy in the mornings though.

Beauty Matters was very efficient: they answered my inquiries, processed my order the day of payment and I got it just a couple of days later, with a nice little note, cute packaging and a free facial mask. I love it when online shops make the extra effort, that was very much appreciated!

facial mask

As far as battery life goes, I have not had any issues with it at all. I have used it several times by now, but the battery has not yet run out. It was already charged when I got it so I cannot say anything about charging time but given how small the roller is, I am thinking that it is a quick charge. 

My only issue with the roller was that after a few tries, the gem from the eye attachment came off. I had to buy superglue to put it back on. I hope it does not fall again later; I was lucky it did not crack the first time it fell. It is my favorite part of the whole roller process, so I do hope that it doesn’t fall off again. 

Would I recommend this purchase to anyone? I would say yes if you are into the whole beauty/self-care thing. If not, I would suggest trying a roller that it not battery operated since this version is a bit more expensive than the manual one. If you like the manual version, then maybe you can upgrade to this one.  


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Movie Review: Love Wedding Repeat

If you have followed my blog or social media for some time now, you would know that I love a good romantic comedy. Love stories are big on my movies to watch list, so when I heard that Sam Claflin (who I adored in Love Rosie and Me Before You) had a new one on Netflix called Love, Wedding Repeat, I decided that I was going to watch it and make a review. 

In life, I think that while some believe in destiny, the way that we get there may vary depending on certain decisions that we make. Just one small change can influence so many other things happening around us depending on what we decide to do. This concept is the main premise of this story. Specifically, how the simple seating arrangement at a wedding, depending on who sits where, can result in many different outcomes and events, including a potential romantic relationship for Jack. 

Based on the French movie Plan de Table, this movie set in Italy, where Jack (Sam Claflin) is trying to make sure that his little sister Hayley’s wedding goes on without a hitch. She had asked him to spike an unwanted guest’s champagne with her anxiety medication so that he can fall asleep at the festivities and not ruin it. Unfortunately, Jack had placed the medicine into a champagne glass just before a group of children had run into the reception area and rearranged the place cards on their table, resulting in the glass going to someone else. For the rest of the movie, the narrative revolves around the various ways that the day will end depending on who gets the spiked glass of champagne. Seated at the table are these eight people: Jack, Hayley’s male best friend/Maid of Honor Bryan, Dina (the woman Jack is attracted to, played by Olivia Munn), awkward/weird friends of the bride Rebecca and Sidney, Amanda (Jack’s ex) and her boyfriend Chaz, and Marc (the unwanted guest who wants to profess his love of Hayley during the wedding reception). 

Because the story revolves around the eight people in the one table, naturally the film needed an ensemble cast who could carry the whole story. Sadly, it did not work for me. I did not think that the scenes were are funny as they were supposed to be. I could see what it could have been, but for some reason it just did not work. Maybe I just do not get British humor as much, or maybe the cast just did not gel as well as they should have. It got to the point that I did not want to finish the movie anymore because I was not enjoying it.  

The only reason that I was able to finish the movie was because I was casting it from my phone to my Google Chromecast while I was doing my daily workout, which mean that I couldn’t stop it until I finished my exercise. Not a good sign for the quality of the movie if you ask me. It was disappointing since I have always been a fan of Sam Claflin and this is the first movie of his that I hated. 

It was too bad that I ended up being disappointed about the movie because I was looking forward to it since the first time that I heard about it. It was a beautiful setting and it was a very good-looking cast; it is just too bad that it ultimately ended up boring me. I have read that the original French film was a flop, so now I am surprised that they even made a remake of this in the first place.  

If you want to watch a good romantic comedy, pick something else. It had potential because of the concept, but it just did not get executed in a way that worked.


Tuesday, May 5, 2020

On YouTube: Marion's Kitchen

One of my biggest frustrations is not being naturally good in the kitchen. The thing with me and food is that I appreciate it better than I can cook it. Do not get me wrong, I can cook. It is just that I am not as good at it as my sisters, who can make a meal from scratch and do not rely on recipe books to do anything.  I, on the other hand, prefer to do my cooking via an online search on YouTube, Facebook or even Instagram for any easy recipe with ingredients that are not hard to find. I pick a dish, follow instructions from a printed recipe or watch a video and then I come up with a finished product. I think I take longer than most to finish since I tend to be a bit on the obsessive-compulsive side, but most of the time things turn out well. 

One of the people who I love to watch and turn to for tips and recipes that I would love to try out is Marion Grasby. She is a chef, blogger and former contestant of MasterChef Australia, a TV competition that searches for the best home cooks in Australia. She was one of the frontrunners in her season but did not go all the way. Despite that, she was able to use her time at the show to diversify into other fields: she became a TV presenter, a cookbook author and is the owner of her own food company called Marion’s Kitchen. Apart from all that, she is also active on social media. Apart from her website, she has her own Facebook Page, YouTube channel and Instagram where she shares recipes for people to try out.

Being part Thai because of her mom, most of the food that is presented on her social media are Asian Food. While she does post other types of recipes from time to time you will still be able to notice that there are some influences from Asia with the way she prepares them or uses some ingredients. 

I enjoy watching Marion Grasby’s videos because she has this calm presence when she prepares food. I tend to be the stressed-out one when I cook so seeing how she does it makes me wish I could be the same. It all seems so easy when she does it! It seems like you can do it yourself because it is not that big a deal to do so (how I wish that were true for me).

A recipe that I have made a version of (because I love steamed fish) is this one. I was not this Zen when I was preparing steamed fish. How does she do it? 

Another thing I enjoy about her videos is when she has her mother, known as Mama Noi, joining her when she cooks. She seems so sweet and adorable and you cannot help but feel like you are listening to your mom as she patiently teaches you to cook. I know that is not the case for all mothers (in my case, my father is the cook in the family), so watching her is an enjoyable experience for me. There are always some cute or funny moments between her and Marion too so that is cute to see. It reminds me of Chrissy Teigen and her mom (who is, coincidentally, also Thai). 

Here is a video featuring Mama Noi herself from Marion Grasby’s YouTube Channel:

Once the whole pandemic situation is over (will it ever be over?), I would love to try cooking again. It is not easy to do these days because it’s so hard to find the right ingredients these days with us having to make do with whatever is available in stores but when things get back to normal (?) I’d want to get into the kitchen again and, preferably, try one of Marion Grasby’s recipes. 

Until then, I will keep watching her videos and craving for that future that seems so far away.


Monday, May 4, 2020

My Meditation for Stress Relief: Coloring Pages

Art is something that has been a part of my life since I was a young girl. My father had an appreciation for it so drawing, coloring, and painting is something that I have been exposed to at a young age. While I cannot say that I have a talent in the arts, I enjoy the practice of making it and love seeing works of art that catch my attention. It has been a hobby for me to sketch from time to time. It gives me a sense of calm that is hard to find when I have a lot on my mind.

I think it is my appreciation of art that pushed me into the habit of coloring when I am feeling too much stress. There is something about the whole process that soothes me whenever I do it. During my early days of working, I used to buy coloring books (that were meant for children) or download coloring pages that I could work on. I remember my father shaking his head when he found out that I do this, but hey, whatever works right?

While there were several adult coloring pages that I found online that had cool drawings and all, I was happier when I discovered that there are actual coloring books for adults that I could buy. I had bought one by Johanna Basford called Secret Garden which, because of the intricate details of each illustration and my obsessive compulsiveness, I have not yet finished after all these years. I have another one that is Korean and features food, mostly sweets. I will start that one when I am finished with Secret Garden, whenever that is. 

adult coloring pages
Work in Progress

With the whole COVID 19 quarantine situation, I have had the chance to making the coloring thing an activity that I can do with the kids, particularly with my young nephew. Initially I started off with him being my “color picker:” he would tell me which colors to put where and that would result in a page that turned out quite different from what I expected it to be. I guess his interpretation of things at a young age is still different (and dare I say, more adventurous) so his work with me has a totally different perspective. We have progressed to him coloring a page on his own. He has not finished it yet, since it is a lot of work even for an adult like me. I like that it is teaching him patience (if not a tendency to grind my colored pencils to stubs as he colors in a more intense fashion compared to me).

adult coloring pages
My nephew's WIP

There has been an argument online about the therapeutic effects of coloring on people. Some say that it is a good alternative to therapy, while some argue that it does not help those with mental health issues completely. In my opinion, the process of coloring helps me to relieve my stress, but I cannot say for certain that it can help in other ways. For me it is a form of meditation to calm my nerves after a long day, like a little yoga for my brain in a way. I would not go too far as to say that medically speaking it is something that works. I have never been in therapy, so I have no idea which is better or not. It helps, but it is not the cure for anything. 

adult coloring pages
Finished work

I find that the way I color at any given time shows the emotions that I have when I am coloring. I remember a time when I was heartbroken about something and the colors on the page ended up all dark and depressing without me even noticing that I did it. When I am not that stressed, the colors end up light and bright. Most of the time the colors I pick are not intentional. I tend to go with what I feel and not think too much about it until I see the result.

If you enjoy art like me, you may appreciate and enjoy the idea of having a coloring book (or two) at home. It is a good way to decompress after a whole day at work or to pass the time in a non-gadget/digital way. One book, a set of pencils (or crayons, or markers, whatever you prefer) and you are all set! 

Share some of your work with me if/when you give it a try?


Sunday, May 3, 2020

Netflix Review: Crash Landing on You

With the news of North Korea and South Korea exchanging gunfire this morning, my thoughts suddenly went back to the Korean drama Crash Landing on You on Netflix. If those characters existed in real life, what could the be doing right about now? What would Captain Ri do?  

Crash Landing on You is one of the Netflix shows that became extremely popular here in the Philippines and is one of the highest rated series in South Korea. It tells the story of Yoon Se Ri, an entrepreneur with a successful business empire who accidentally gets stranded in North Korea under the protection of a soldier/captain named Ri Jung Hyuk and his group of soldiers. Despite the risks and the odds (and several futile prior attempts), they are able to smuggle Yoon Se Ri back into South Korea.  

Unfortunately for Se Ri, Capt. Ri’s enemy follows her to South Korea to get revenge, so he follows him to protect and save her, with his band of soldiers following him to take him back soon after. In the end (spoiler alert), she is saved, Capt. Ri and is group of soldiers go back home and they are again separated by the border between the two Koreas. 

The series is one of the best Korean dramas that I have seen so far. My emotions were all over the place watching everything unfold. I was laughing at the funny scenes, crying at the moving ones, and as giddy with kilig at the romantic moments of the show.  

Before watching the show, I did not have any idea what life in North Korea might be like. All I knew was that they were separated from South Korea and that they never crossed each other’s borders. Getting a picture of their life from the show made the idea of it more real to me. I cried so much thinking of the loss that the lead characters felt from being separated from one another. I cried feeling how the friends she made in the North, the people she came to love, would be a big loss to her because she would never see them again.  

I fell in love with all the different relationships that were presented in the show. It was about family — the ones we are born with and the one that we make. It was about friends and the bonds we make with the people we least expect. It was about love and how we acknowledge it, fight for it and make the best of it. Each type of relationship on the show from the families of both lead characters, the power struggles in Se Ri’s family and in Capt. Ri’s life as a soldier, the bond that Se Ri formed with Captain Ri and his soldiers and with her neighbors in North Korea, to the unexpected love story between Seo Dan and Gu Seung Joon had an interesting story to tell that complimented each other to make up the heart of the entire series. 

One of my favorite parts of the series is the reveal that Se Ri and Capt. Ri were, in a way, destined to be together from the start. They had run into each other in Switzerland on several occasions, way before he became a soldier. A song he wrote and played on the piano while he was there was a song that had been in her mind for years, and it is this theme song that I enjoy listening to now long after I’ve finished the show on Netflix. I have put the music from the show on my Spotify playlist, that is how much I have enjoyed it. 

I have seen Hyun Bin (Capt. Ri) in several shows but this is different from all the others he has done so far. He always plays this arrogant character, even as a male lead. But with Captain Ri, he is all heart and he is a good guy through and through. I loved him in this one. His chemistry with co-star Son Ye Jin (Se Ri) is so good and I know a lot of people agree because everyone else is hoping they get together in real life. 

Crash Landing on You is now on my list of all-time Korean drama favorites. If you are a fan of Korean dramas and you have not seen this one yet, what are you waiting for? 


Saturday, May 2, 2020

Book Review: Blue Bloods Series

These quarantined times has given me the opportunity to do some reading and I found myself going back to some old favorites, one of them being the YA vampire series Blue Bloods by Filipino American author Melissa de la Cruz. Writing a book that involves fantasy, action and adventure is something I have wanted to do for some time so I knew that the author’s success in writing this series is something I can learn from.  

Here is a little review of the series: 

Set in Manhattan, the series of books follows Schuyler Van Alen, who tries to navigate around her newly discovered identity as a Blue Blood, otherwise known as a vampire. She discovers that she lives in a world where humans are unaware that vampires exist and live among them. These vampires, it is revealed, are actually fallen angels. They live on earth following cycles of life and death via a form of reincarnation until they are forgiven and given an opportunity to return to heaven. On earth, they are led by the incarnation of the Angel Michael. He is supposed to be joined by his partner the Angel Gabriel but in the book she is introduced as being in a coma, a result of not wanting to be bonded with Michael in this incarnation after falling in love with a human. I think this is an interesting theory about the origins of vampires and that new idea was remarkably interesting to me and I wanted to learn more through all the books.

Fallen Angel
Fallen Angel Image by Sergei Tokmakov from Pixabay

The series has a total of seven books, along with a couple of companion books and some spin-offs. Blue Bloods, the title of the first book, introduces the reader to the world of the vampires, their origins and their lifestyle. There are also mysterious vampire deaths that are occurring that lead to the death of Schuyler’s grandmother. This becomes the start of Schuyler’s journey to try to answer the questions she has about her origins and the deaths that are happening around her, meeting and involving a few friends along the way. 

The first book would make the reader think that the series is centered around Schuyler alone but once I got through the other books, I discovered that the author also gave attention to the other characters. This made rooting for just that one person hard to do while reading this series.  

As with most teen books, there is a love story involved. It’s not just about the love triangle that involved Michael, Gabriel and her human partner but also a love square (if there is such a term) that involves Schuyler: she is in love with Jack, who is bonded (since their time in heaven) with Mimi. To make things more complicated, she also has feelings for her best friend Oliver, who also feels the same way. I will not spoil how it all works out in case anyone wants to read the series, but I would like to think that it was resolved well, and that the series ended on a good note. 

I think the series was a good mix of adventure, love, action, fantasy…I was reading this as an adult and even if this is supposed to be teen fiction, I found myself entertained every step of the way. One of the books even had this adventure in hell that reminded me a bit of Dante’s Inferno because of how they described the journey to get to a certain character, who was a demon (of sorts). 

The only comment I can give about the series is more of a generalized question on most fantasy fiction books that involve teenagers: why do they all act and speak like adults? I often forget how young most of them are when I was reading the series. I always seem to picture them as older because of how they behave. It is something that is not unique to this series alone, because there are a lot of other books where the leads are teens that are the same way. Is it an American thing? Or are we Filipinos a bit on the conservative side? Or is it just me? 

When I first read this series, I immediately thought that these books would make good movies, or a TV series at least. With how Shadowhunters had their chance as a movie and TV series, I hope that this series could have the same opportunity. I read somewhere that Walt Disney Pictures has the rights to the books, I hope that they will make use of it and actually make a movie (or movies — franchise, anyone?) or series, especially now that they have their own streaming service. 

If you like vampire stories, or if you are interested in stories about angels and demons, you might like the Blue Bloods series. I liked it then, I still like it now all these years later.  

Friday, May 1, 2020

Quarantine Stories: Health

The quarantine we’re all in has given me a lot of time to think about several things. Mostly, it has me thinking about my health. While there is a hospital and a clinic near me to go to in the event that I need a doctor, it’s not exactly something I’m inclined to do given the state of the world we’re in right now. With all my pre-existing health conditions I have, the best thing I can do for myself at the moment is to make sure that I stay healthy. 

According to the World Health Organization, people over the age of 60 or those with underlying medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory conditions, and diabetes are at risk for COVID19. Among the ways that we can slow the spread of the disease and avoid infection is frequent (and proper) handwashing, wearing a protective face mask, and social distancing. For people like me who have all mentioned medical conditions that make me at risk for the disease, another way to take precaution is by making sure I am as healthy as I possibly can. 

Some precautions I take are things I already did prior to this pandemic. I already take maintenance medicine for my health. I forget to take them sometimes due to brain fog (a result of another health condition) but my sister recently added my medicine schedule on Gcal to make sure that I don’t forget during this pandemic. Apart from my regular meds, I have also been careful in other ways: I was already a germophobe to begin with so the whole handwashing and use of alcohol and disinfectant wipes have always been second nature to me. 

Staying at home during the quarantine has its advantages and disadvantages for my health. One advantage is that with limited resources, we haven’t been able to choose what types of food to eat. Lately, with our neighbors always having vegetables readily available, we have been having healthy food often. That was not always the case when I was away at work during the weekdays. 

Another thing I enjoy about staying home is that I get to see the sun more. I read that Vitamin D is a good way to keep one healthy against the coronavirus, so I have taken to sitting outside in the sun during the early mornings. I don’t usually get to do that because most of the time I’m inside the office for work and don’t get to enjoy the sunlight the way I do lately. 

Not needing to go to work has also meant there is no excuse for not having enough time to exercise. While I can’t exactly go to the gym, I do have an elliptical that I have placed in my bedroom that serves as a glaring reminder for me to work out at least for 30 minutes daily. I wish I could say that it is an easy task though: this hot and humid weather lately has made exercise a challenge. Depending on the weather, I find myself either doing fitness activities daily or just getting it three times a week (and feeling like I am having an asthma attack every time). There has been some weight loss so I am not complaining…after all that was not the goal but more of an additional benefit. 

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

There is also this one thing that I have been doing as a result of this pandemic that I consider a precautionary measure. I found this doctor who did a video of breathing exercises that is supposed to help clear your lungs to make sure you stay healthy. I’ve been doing it daily, sometimes even more than once a day if I remember to. 

I feel like with this pandemic, it’s all about watching and waiting…and hoping that in this “survival of the fittest,” we end up as part of the survivors. Nothing feels certain and the future seems too unpredictable to even think about.  

The only thing we can do – or should I say the only thing I can do – now is to take charge of the one thing I can control and that is making sure that I stay healthy. I hope everyone else is doing the same. 
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