Book Review: The Similars by Rebecca Hanover

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The Similars is a book by Rebecca Hanover on human clones.

The Similars is a thought provoking novel that gives you a glimpse about the possibility of human cloning. It strikes you with questions on science and society.

The story gives you a roller coaster ride on events. I must also compliment the development of the characters in the story because none of us can expect what they’ll be doing next.

The plot actually follows a usual sci-fi pattern: evil billionaire with a revengeful desire to take out his bullies from high school. I do hope the next books explain more of his side as I can’t just accept that this is all a childish plot, especially with the plot twist at the end. I also think that there is more to Darkwood’s history.

Throughout reading the novel, I have thought about human cloning and my side on it. I think, however the advancement we make on science and technology, that we shouldn’t play with genetics and create humans unnaturally as this would pave way to extreme enhancement that would make the gap between social classes bigger than it already is.

Technological advances are what keeps us moving forward as the human race as a whole, but maybe what keeps us human is our limitations. Are we still humans if we are allowed to surpass our standards and create abilities? Did we not hang people we were afraid of in the medieval times because of their difference, and because they were more than us? Perhaps now we are considering this option as we understand more, but maybe this will be our end.

I hope the next books explore more of the effect of cloning to the human race as a whole. I am excited to learn more.

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Top Book Boyfriends And Why You Love Them

It is every reader’s most kept secret- we are all attached to a certain character in the books as if they were existing, and somehow it becomes a standard of our reality. Most of time, we read to fulfill our ideals of the perfect man who we hope to meet in our lifetime, which of course is far fetched but it gives us comfort to have these book boyfriends as our own.

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  • Percy Jackson (Percy Jackson, The Heroes of Olympus) by Rick Riordan

Percy is the epitome of a great Greek hero- powerful, courageous, and most definitely attractive with his sea green eyes. He has accomplished so much at a young age and is already a legend. Percy is the goofy kid with dyslexia but gets along with everybody else for being cool. As the son of Poseidon, he is one of the most respected demigods on the series, but what really makes Percy great is his undying loyalty to his friends and family- which is ironically also his fatal flaw. This hero will sacrifice the world just for you.

“You’re not getting away from me. Never again.” – Percy on The Mark of Athena, Book 3 Heroes of Olympus

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  • Jace Herondale (The Shadowhunter series) by Cassandra Clare

Don’t we all love a bad blond boy? Jace is the usual playboy who carries himself with confidence because he knows he is definitely better than the rest. His dark humor will keep you on your toes and will sway you to follow his every word. He is a natural leader who knows his strengths and uses them to his advantage. Aside from his fighting skills, he is also a talented pianist. But sometimes, the most powerful ones carry a darkness within them, and all he needs is someone who’s willing to look more into it. Although he has a tendency to lose track most of time, he’ll surely keep you wanting more.

“There is no pretending,” Jace said with absolute clarity. “I love you, and I will love you until I die and if there’s a life after that, I’ll love you then.” – Jace on The City of Glass, Book 3 of The Mortal Instruments

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  • Patch Cipriano (Hush, Hush) by Becca Fitzpatrick

Nothing tops the warning signs to get away from a literal Fallen Angel, but doesn’t that make them more attractive? Patch is the exact type of boy your mom warned you about- doesn’t attend classes, definitely has some secret dealings that are probably illegal, and will most likely kill you. The redemption, however, is what makes him so much more than what he is. He will burn everyone for your sake and will sacrifice his own wings just to be with you.

“All this time I’ve hated myself for it. I thought I’d given it up for nothing. But if I hadn’t fallen, I wouldn’t have met you.” – Patch on Hush, Hush Book 1

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  • Peter Kavinsky (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before series) by Jenny Han

Kavinsky sets the modern standards for boyfriends of today. Get you a guy who adjust your sweetness even when he is supposedly fast paced, and who not only makes you feel special but your family (especially your little sister) as well. He is the jock who falls for the quirky type and is the hope of unique girls everywhere.

“We’re you and me. And yeah, it’s gonna be hard. But Lara Jean, I’ve never feel for another girl what I feel for you.” – Peter on Always and Forever, Lara Jean, Book 3 of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

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  • John Ambrose McClaren (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before series) by Jenny Han

The rival of Kavinsky is the model UN smart type John Ambrose. He’s the guy who is sweet to his grandparents, which makes him an old romantic. We’ve all wished for a gentleman who’ll treat you well with slow dancing in the snow and a romantic dinner. He’s the one your parents will approve of, and the type of guy you know will always be there for you.

“I don’t think it was our time then. I guess it isn’t now, either.” John looks over at me, his gaze steady. “But one day maybe it will be.” – John Ambrose, on P.S. I Still Love You, Book 2 of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

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  • Alex Stewart (Love, Rose – Where Rainbows End) by Cecilia Ahern

It’s always lucky to be in love with your bestfriend. Alex is the guy who knows you well- from your tells to your most embarrassing moments- but loves you anyway. He might be a bit slow in expressing his feelings in fear of ruining your friendship and the comfort that’s in it, but he’s the one you’ll end up with no matter what happens, because nothing is more perfect than a guy who accepts you for who and what you are. The thing about Alex is, even when you don’t end up together, you know you’ll always have your bestfriend by your side.

“Today I love you more than ever; tomorrow I will love you even more. I need you more than ever; I want you more than ever. I’m a man of fifty years of age coming to you, feeling like a teenager in love, asking you to give me a chance and love me back.

Rosie Dunne I love you with all my heart, I have always loved you when I was seven years old and lied about falling asleep on Santa watch, when I was ten years old and didn’t invite you to my birthday party, when I was eighteen and had to move away, even on my wedding days, on your wedding day, on christenings, birthdays, and when we fought. I loved you through it all. Make me the happiest man on this earth by being with me.” – Alex on Love, Rosie

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  • Maxon Calix Schreave (The Selection series) by Kiera Cass

Everybody loves a Prince. Maxon is a total sweetheart and romantic who respects the capability of strong women, even when he is born to be a King. He is not like others who were born with a golden spoon who tend to be cocky and full of themselves, because he has a soft side to him. He is creative and appreciates the little things. He’s the type who will easily remember what your favorites are just by observing you.

“I want everything with you, America. I want the holidays and the birthdays, the busy season and lazy weekends. I want peanut butter fingertips on my desk. I want inside jokes and fights and everything. I want a life with you.” – Maxon on The One, Book 3 of The Selection

There’s always this guy in the story that you root for and claim as your own. Who knows? Maybe one day, the words you read about will finally come to flesh.

Who’s Your Favorite Book Boyfriend?

  • Percy Jackson
  • Jace Herondale
  • Patch Cipriano
  • Peter Kavinsky
  • John Ambrose McClaren
  • Alex Stewart
  • Maxon Calix Schreave

Ready, Get Set, GOAL!

We all know a certain philosophy- but not all of us live by it. We come across inspiring words and stories almost daily, thanks to the powers of social media. The world today seems to increase its pace, and the question is, where are you now?

· Think

Many of our life decisions are based on a pulse feeling, so it’s a good practice to think about what you really want. This also allows you to know yourself better, and in knowing yourself better you learn how to prioritize and organize.

· Believe

You are the only one who can set the limits. Be confident, the world is out there for you to conquer. It may be a tough battle, and not all of us get the luck. However, don’t stop yourself from aiming to be better than always. A little growth over time goes a long way.

· Act

Your dreams will stay as dreams unless you take a step to reach them. Be patient in working for them, for nothing happens overnight. Remember that you can build your life the way you want it to, so you better do the best.

Time flies fast as you grow old, and in some moments you come to a point where you start to rethink your life over. Usually, this leads you to the road of regrets, frustrations, and hesitations- making you feel like you haven’t done enough- so it’s now time to get up on the other side of the bed and live the life.

 

photo: Oscar Söderlund: https://unsplash.com/@messisorder

MRI

“Mam, are you okay mam? Mam?”

That left me out of trance. I take deep breathes, and say, “yes.. please continue.”

Again, after a few minutes, the nurse asks me. “Mam, are you okay? Are you sure you are okay? Press the button if you need us. We’re right here. Just a few more minutes.. relax.. think of something that will make you happy.”

The nurse plays music for me. I take deep breathes, and close my eyes. I imagine.

Hey Soul sister by Train. I smile. You’re not much of singer, but you like to pretend you are. You sing along, off tune, and it makes me smile because you do this for me.

All of Me by John Legend. A tear falls down from my face.

I imagine you, like how you are, lip syncing to the song while we dance poorly, I am not much of a dancer. You hold me close, and say “baby, it’s okay..”

I breath heavier, your face fades away. My head starts to hurt. The nurse is telling me, just a few more minutes to get a clear scan, but I am shaking. I can hear you, “it’s okay, it’s okay, I’m here.. calm down. I’m here..” slowly, your voice becomes quiet. I panic. I don’t want to be alone.

The MRI scan is over. The nurse takes me out, slowly and gently. He sighs. “Are you okay? Please sit down for a while, it’s going to be fine..” I can’t hear his voice, my head starts to hurt, and I vomit.

I sit and look around. I am alone. You are not here. You never were. You never came to any of my sessions.

I cry silently, as my attacks overcome me. I tell myself to be brave. I tell myself it’s okay.

Because you know, but you never came anyway.

– you keep me going even after you’ve left. // hrh

Rain

The sky is dark and the rain starts to pour, and I am not bothered because I am prepared. In this country, it is a must to always have an umbrella with you- rain or shine.

But I curse myself as the bus stops and I realize that I have left mine just when I need it.

I tell myself it’s no matter. I can probably hail a taxi as soon as I get off the bus, and I hope it doesn’t rain harder. I am already feeling light headed because of the flu, and the usual Manila traffic isn’t helping either.

“Miss! Wait!”

I pretend not to hear, but the footsteps behind me catches up and I am suddenly shielded from the rain. I look up and see a smiling face, holding an umbrella on both of our heads.

“Hi.. Sorry, but maybe I can help you get a cab? Or walk you to where you’ll go? You might get sick if you get caught in the rain..”

Same scenario of how we met before, and today is your fifth year death anniversary. He has the same eyes as you, warm and kind, and I’ve noticed the law books he was carrying. You’ve always wanted to be a lawyer.

I thought I’ve forgotten you, but here you are again, reminding me of your last words.

I’ll always be there when you need me.

// hrh

 

 

Unmasking the Masked: The Reality of Anxiety

My dear readers, this is a tale.

Once upon a time, there was a young woman in her early 20s. She has achieved a lot in life- with her adventurous college years coming to end with her greatest achievement: with honors. She has worked hard enough to battle poverty to finally come to a place where her career takes off for her to be stable.

She has been through a lot, with so many scars to mark her battles, that the concept of mental illness is so foreign to her. She believes that you can control your mind to handle pressure; it is just a matter of who has enough will to do so. And boy, she was really confident in hers.

Until one day, that is, a series  of unfortunate events has made her, one of the greatest warriors, to admit defeat.

First, the denial. You think of other illnesses that may be associated with what is happening to your body. There are times when you feel sick and unable to eat, or how your heart palpitates and you can’t breathe. The tests will usually come back fine with no alarming results, leaving the doctors puzzled because they can see that there is still something wrong with you.

I did not expect that it will also be the trigger to other health issues as well, but that’s just the thing with anxiety- the more you deny it, the more it makes its presence known, like a weed that grows no matter how much you try to make your garden appear perfect. It is frustrating that it gnaws on you when you fight it out.

I was filled with anger and pity. You look for events and people to blame. You backtrack on happenings and ask yourself why you; because no matter how much try to calm down, you just can’t. You end up pointing the finger back to yourself as nobody will ever get what it feels like and it’s probably your fault. It drains you of your dreams, snuffing out the light and leaving you in the dark with your worst thoughts. It drowns you with doubt, and you can’t float even when you know how to swim.

A mixture of feelings, a roller coaster ride. It is exhausting, not only to your soul and mind but to your body. It never lies, but you pretend anyway. You pretend that it is just one of the other sickness that you have. You pretend it is nothing; when indeed it is everything. Poor you, so alone, in a world where your downfall will not be justified or recognized because there will always be someone who has it worst that you and you should be thankful.

Thankful, for your threshold breaking, a threshold that should I remind you is different for each one of us, and is therefore immeasurable. If it were that simple, we shouldn’t even be having these problems in the first place.

The acceptance is made after long hours at the hospital, going from doctor to doctor and experiments to verify that it is indeed what it is. Even in our progressive world, we are still so sensitive about giving the final stamp to any mental illness, especially ones that are easily claimed when one is in distress or sad. We label our moments, normal humane moments that showcase our feelings with terms that should deserve attention than just not being okay.

As a working adult, you learn how to deal with the meetings on your own. I don’t know if I love the long hallways at the hospital, or if it feels a little too crowded with everyone having anyone else. It is quite a shame to check yourself in or to practically drag yourself to the hospital in the midst of a panic attack, with your work clothes on looking so important, your coat so crisp, and yet you are like a child again, holding your chest because you just can’t breathe.

I think, the hardest has been seeing the way your doctors look at you because they know your condition. They are not puzzled with it like others are, and as professionals they recognize that you are probably tired. It becomes a little bit easier to accept it after that. They ask you about your job, your lifestyle, trying to pinpoint the cause why you are breaking down at such age- and deep inside, you know but refuse, of course, to share it with anybody else.

And then the treatment. I cannot say it is healing; maybe my anxiety itself does not recognize it. I have, though, learned that the best way to deal with it is to know that it is an endless battle you face every single day. That’s the thing with mental illness- when your mind is sick, you cannot just target the sickness and expect it to be done. The drugs, yes, they do help. I have been fascinated by how even experts are reluctant to prescribe sedatives, but it’s a name I have lived with. Sedatives to calm you down, sedatives to make you sleep, just the right amount. Not too much, not too little, for the mind is already fragile. It is already broken, held on together with the tapes you put on it every time you overcome the struggle of a breakdown. The lines are visible; they are there, they will never fade.

You continue with life as it is. You go to work daily to sustain your expenses. Some days, you feel free of it- hopeful even- but in truth it is a chain that you must carry and learn how not to let it suffocate you. It is definitely okay to say you’re not okay- a cliché, perhaps, but the most useful one.

People with anxiety wear masks all the time, because we have to show face that we are still fighting, still living, still breathing; even when sometimes, we find that we are out of it.

It is about embracing that you are flawed and you will be for the rest of time- but broken things are often so beautiful, are they not?

// hrhjeshea

3 Reasons to Check Out Redmond 

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Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Redmond, Washington is one of the most beautiful cities on the West Coast. Not only does Redmond boast a number of restaurants and shops, but the area is also a great place for families as well. People who live in Redmond will tell you that the sense of community in the city is one of the biggest things that makes the area such a great place to live. Whether you’re thinking about purchasing one of the Redmond houses for sale or are simply planning a trip there, here are three main reasons to check out Redmond. 

A Fun and Vibrant Downtown Scene 

One of the best things about Redmond is the exciting life the downtown area brings. With tons of restaurants, cafes and shops to choose from, Redmond makes a great place to go on a date or catch up with an old friend. Downtown Redmond is also known for being extremely walkable, and many of the city’s residents choose to walk to work or school rather than drive. The city also has a popular transit center, which provides easy access to nearby cities like Seattle. Downtown Redmond is especially popular among the millennial set, as living downtown provides a fun social scene and close access to bars and restaurants. 

Bicycling is Big 

Being that Redmond is so easy to get around in, many of the locals enjoy bicycling rather than driving each day. There are tons of bike lanes and trails that will take you just about anywhere you need to go in the city, and the city was even designated as a “Bicycle Friendly Community” by the League of American Bicyclists! The city of Redmond recently added “green” bike lanes throughout the city, as a way to promote biking over other modes of transportation. If you’re looking for a city that puts personal health and the environment first, Redmond may be the place for you. 

A Rich Culture 

One of the main things Redmond is known for is being home to the Microsoft headquarters. Tech fanatics of all kinds have been flocking to Redmond for years because of this, as well as the other cultural experiences the city has to offer. Aside from Microsoft, Redmond also boasts a number of theaters and performing arts centers, perfect for catching a play or listening to live music. On any given day, there is always something going on in Redmond, whether it’s a live poetry reading, wine tasting, or other cultural event. The rich culture and diverse local scene is just one of the things that makes Redmond so great, and definitely worth checking out if you’re ever in the area.

Louvre, Abu Dhabi: Art Beyond

 “Art and love are the same thing: It’s the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you.” – Chuck Klosterman

There is much joy in finding yourself lost among works of expression. I have always loved art and consider myself an artist at heart, and my greatest dream is to visit Europe to see the great works of the masters for myself.

Paris is still a too far destination to consider, and I can say that I am lucky enough that the United Arab Emirates aim to bring in everything grand from all over the world to this side of the Gulf. I was excited that they have created their own Louvre here in Abu Dhabi.

The structure is an architectural piece itself, designed by Pritzer Price-winning architect Jean Nouvel, as inspired by the concept of a medina, the quarter of the Arab cities during the ancient times. The silvery dome is comprised of 7,850 stars of complex geometric pattern, and is a wonder to behold as the light hits it in a million ways.

I visited the museum during the first week of October, and the weather was just enough not to sweat all over. This is the first thing you’d have to consider when you live in the UAE. The museum is all fully air-conditioned, but you will best enjoy the dome around sunset when the beautiful golden rays hit the roof and the waters that surround the building, as it is placed by the sea.

There was not that much of a crowd yet, and it does add some allure to the museum. I do feel like there was so much space that needed to be filled with ancient wonders, and some of the displays were even closed, much to my disappointment. I was rather looking forward to seeing the painting of Vincent Van Gogh, but sadly that exhibition was closed and the nice attendant who comforted me said that they were bringing in new pieces by the end of the year. I made sad faces and begged them to show me the best ones they have so far.

The museum is divided into different sections per category. There was a mummy display for Egyptian artifacts, statues from ancient Greece and Rome, and pots and ceramics from Mid-Asia.  The main highlight, though, was the paintings.

Ancient Greece art on marble
Mother Scolding her Daughter (pun intended)
The Sarcophagus of Egyptian Princess Hanuttawy

I am, though, sorry to say that they do not have Salvator Mundi on display. The most expensive auctioned painting in the world (a whopping $450 million) was purchased at Christie’s for the Louvre Abu Dhabi. The rumored buyer was Saudi Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, an ally of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, gifted to the royal family of Abu Dhabi for the Louvre. It was in official talk to be displayed, but they have postponed it and no further announcement has been made.

It is never the Louvre without a work from Da Vinci, though, and like its counterpart in Paris, the star is a painting of a woman, entitled “La Belle Ferroniere,” with its alluring smile like Mona Lisa. I often wonder if Da Vinci has modeled them after one woman. I do hope they bring more of his art in.

“La Belle Ferroniere,” Leonardo da Vinci

There were also some prominent works on display:

“Madonna and Child,” Giovanni Bellini
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“Portrait of William Welby and His Wife Penelope playing Chess,” Francis Cotes
“Napoleon Crossing the Alps,” Jacques-Louis David
“Number 26 A, Black and White,” Jackson Pollock
“Portrait of a Woman,” Pablo Ruiz Picasso

It is quite an amazing experience to see things from the past, like somehow the pieces are a reminder of the beauty they once held, and of how they just increase their value over time. Louvre Abu Dhabi also has exciting events they host to encounter people to engage in the museum’s activities, like drawing week and multicultural performances.

I believe that over time, it will develop a culture of its own with the art in it finally at home. I am willing to visit it again next time and hope that they open the other galleries by then.

Tickets are priced at 60 AED per head for adults, while visitors between the ages of 13 and 22 can enter for 30 AED. It is located on Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, open from 10am to 8pm from Saturdays to Wednesdays, and from 10am to 10pm on Thursdays and Fridays, and closed on Mondays. You may visit their website at https://www.louvreabudhabi.ae/ for more details.

Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale (Book 1) and The Testaments (Book 2) by Margaret Atwood

I try to steer away from the genre of books we were required to read for academic purposes because I read leisurely to escape the world- it’s quite a burden to be reading such materials that will expose the harshness of reality.

The thing about dystopian fiction is that there is a sliver of truth in each outcome. Everything is a possibility- whether it’s a civilization of aliens or robots, or a trip back to historic monarchies. The ideas of the plot are firstly outlined by the choices that we humans make this very moment. This is why the pull for reading it is strong; we relate to it closer that we do to fantasy fiction.

The Handmaid’s Tale is considered as a classic for modern fiction, and I never really had the desire to read it because of its status. However, such times requires us to expand our scope, and I must say that I do regret reading it because of the heavy feelings it gave me. The book, in general, exceeds my standards for writing and plot devising. The series starts with the story of Ofred, a Handmaid, whose sole duty is to bear a child for a couple of high standing in the society. Here, Gilead is a fictitious country formed in the America under the absolute control of a cult.

Imagine, the horror of such idea being paraded as a moral duty because of their ideals and religious beliefs. I cannot stress enough how each scene has made me shiver because of the possibilities they impose.

Why did I carry on to the Testaments?

The second book is a collection of testaments from subjects being studied from the old Gilead, now a destroyed country. It offers a glimpse into the rest of the world and what Gilead plays in it, and the starting piece on to how everything was brought down. It reminds me a lot about the situation of North Korea. I wonder how long will it be until we finally take action- but do we really have the judgment to do so?

Sometimes it makes you wonder if we indeed have the right to decide for other countries as a whole based on their status. We have seen how some of those decisions went, and most of the countries we have tried to decide for are now just war zones.

I am afraid. I am afraid that these books are indeed our testaments.

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