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.

Overall Rating: Image result for starsImage result for starsImage result for starsImage result for stars

Book Review: Supernova by Marissa Meyer (Book 3 of the Renegades Series)

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Just as I’ve thought that I have ran out of new subjects to read about, Marissa Meyer came up with the Renegades. Superheroes are indeed everywhere in the cinematic world as well as the long standing comics, but not much on Young Adult fiction. I was excited when I read about Meyer’s books, because she already had me hooked with the Lunar Chronicles series.

Supernova is the conclusion to the trilogy The Renegades (Book 2 Archenemies), about the Villain (Anarchist) Nova, who pretends to be a Hero (Renegade) to revenge on her family. She previously lived with the rest of her Anarchists while hiding her uncle, Ace Anarchy, the original villain, who was also captured on the end of Book Two: Archenemies, before Nova was given a chance to hand him back his helmet (which amplified his powers, which she stole from the Renegades.) She is also torn as she already finds herself falling for her Renegade Captain and teammate Adrian Everhart, also the adoptive son of Captain Chromium and the Dread Warden, the original Renegades who defeated Ace.

Nova has had a lot of progress during the first two books where she struggles with her inner morals. I was really excited about how they would end the series, but I have been disappointed as I feel like a lot of things were rushed and a lot of questions were unanswered. Meyer has long said that it is only a trilogy, but I think, based on the ending, that there will be a spin-off of some sort and I would be really upset if there wouldn’t be.

Just thought that the plot needed some much more spinning. I think Marissa wanted to move on from Nova’s story to highlight a new character, but I think it should have been two more books. Also, we’ve already guessed some of the things unveiled in the story based on the plot of the two books so I think it downgraded the effect of the revelations and fight scenes in most of the climax. I like Marissa’s style, I just hope she left some mystery that isn’t really obvious and opened it with a bang in Supernova. Honestly, the Epilogue is the only thing you wouldn’t have guessed, and this is why it needs more books.

I love it- but I wasn’t awed by it like the first time. I, however, still recommend the books to anyone who wants the old YA drama with a somewhat refreshed slate.

One cannot be brave who has no fear.

Overall Rating: Image result for starsImage result for starsImage result for starsImage result for stars

Film Review: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

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Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, is the sequel to the acclaimed Disney’s Maleficent starring Angelina Jolie as the dark fae herself and Elle Fanning as Aurora, a retelling of the beloved children’s fairytale Sleeping Beauty, with a little twist as it paints a new light on the supposed villain.

REVIEW

There was once a time when the golden era of Disney would grace the cinemas, and I grew up in line with each film and they’ve made quite an impact to my life, as they did, I am sure, with everyone else’s. We cannot deny that the past few years have been disappointing in a sense, with Disney so focused on live remakes of the old cartoons that made us fall in love with it in the first place. I’ve watch the live action takes on Cinderella, Beauty and the Best, and Aladdin; alright, they weren’t bad at all, but I just want some new material to come on. Something that will sweep us off our feet.

The tale of Sleeping Beauty is one we are all familiar with- but of Maleficent? This is the reason why we have been entranced with the story when it first came out. It is a version, if I must say, freshly taken from an old tale; a different view. The appeal of villains having a good side is such a strong pull on the majority that we just cannot help but root for them.

Since this is a fresh uptake, we don’t have any idea of what might happen next, and it drove me to watch Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. I was not disappointed.

It has been on the cinemas for a while, but I shall spare you the juiciest details to get you to watch it yourself- it really is that intriguing. I must say that they’ve given new life to the story, and I am amazed on the many symbolism they had in the film.

Let’s not forget the graphics- it will literally blow you away. Everything is so beautiful in the Moors that it takes me back to being a kid all over again, wishing to be taken by the faeries. I love how they depicted the different kinds of faeries, and not just the perfectly made creatures we first picture them as.

I understand that Maleficent is the main focus of the story and Angelina is perfect for the role, I just wish that on this chapter that they’ve given a much deeper line for Aurora and Phillip. The queen, though, has done quite a great job on making me hate her all throughout the film. I need not say more.

Brace yourselves- that is just not it. Here, you will be introduced to more of Maleficent’s side. I will spoil you just this one- there’s more of them like her and they will play a vital role in the film. You must see their wings.

Just thought it ended when the climax was just happening- but I guess we can’t have too brutal deaths and solutions for a children’s film, yeah? (Though let me tell you, it was mostly adults in the cinema.. honestly, Disney.) I also love how it’s a mixture of everything- a bit of comedy, a bit of drama, a bit of action.

Once again, one is never too old for fairytales.

Rating: 10/10

A Judgment of Character

The amazing thing about people is that time doesn’t really measure how much you know them.

It’s confusing to see people you’ve known for years to become a stranger to you.

Or someone you are with to somebody you used to know.

It’s crazy to witness an unmasking of a fear you never really know was there, a pride that was always in its slumbers. A sadness that you have never noticed even through the mirrors of the soul.

Or a laughter that was always behind a poker face. A laughter behind all the anger. Beauty under the darkness.

We cannot blame people for changing, because in most times, they never did change. It’s only about how they have chosen to reveal themselves to you, and how you have managed to unveil them.

Sometimes, it’s about who you are to them and they to you.

// hrh

Book Review: Foursome by Jane Fallon

I’ve decided to give Jane another try, and this time, I was not as disappointed as I was with the last book.

It is, though, of the usual story of friendship, middle crisis, and adultery. Honestly I am going to be so happy if Jane finally writes something out of these- but I guess some writers are just made that way. I liked the appeal with this book. Foursome is a book about four friends from college and how things have changed in time. It centers on Rebecca, who is fully contented with her life until it begins to fall apart starting with the break up of her two best friends Alex and Isabel.

Rebecca is a stagnant character. She’s not very noticeable at all, and the life of the book is ironically set on the other characters who revolve around her. I love the twists in the book even when they are a bit expected just because of how the characters carry out the actions. I think it also brings out the truth in most families and lives today, and that it justifies that sometimes, life is boring as well because that’s just how it is.

I do hope Jane writes something from a third person point of view, I think it was always her strength. I’d like to see more depth from the other characters who run the course of the story.

Overall Rating: Image result for starsImage result for starsImage result for stars

Book Review: Strictly Between Us by Jane Fallon

Jane Fallon made me fall in love with her works when I first read Getting Rid of Matthew. She has a funny, witty, yet classy writing style. It’s a shame really how it took me weeks to finish this one.

Strictly Between Us routes on the usual retelling of adultery- just with a different scene. I honestly have yet to find a book of Fallon’s that diverts from this topic. This always seem to be the plot for literally all her books, so on the first chapter when it was described, I didn’t even want to continue with it.

All the characters are also pretty much the same. The protagonist is a woman, may be successful but lacking in the romantic department, or is a struggling middle aged woman who moans about her lack of adventure. The women in these books are starting to be depressing.

There is nothing much to be said about the main character, Tamsin. I found her to be very plain and quite boring. I also think that she is unfair to her best friend Michelle and should have just told her the truth. It’s all lies and we all know that never gets anywhere.

My dear Jane, this is the fifth book of yours I’ve read. Please give me some new material. It’s rather a pity- I really admire you as a writer, but the stories are redundant and there’s nothing fresh about them anymore. I’ve always thought you write rather well on Getting Rid of Matthew, even with the third person point of view. I loved Helen even though she was a cow in the story. Let us connect with your characters more.

Overall Rating: Image result for starsImage result for stars

Sunshine Blogger Award

I was nominated by Mr. James A. Best of JAMES A. BEST- AUTHOR for the Sunshine Blogger Award. You may check his website at https://myplace3187.wordpress.com for interesting insights about life in general. Thank you, Mr. James!

The Sunshine Blogger Award Rules:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog.
  2. List the Rules and display an award logo on your blog post.
  3. Answer the 11 Questions the Blogger has asked you.
  4. Nominate 11 New Blogs to receive the award and notify them by comment on any of their posts.
  5. Ask the Nominees 11 New Questions.

JAMES A. BEST- AUTHOR ‘s question for me:

  1. Who is your favorite writer and why ? For novels it would be Rick Riordan because his books changed my life. I am also a fan of Robert Frost and his poetry. I try to stay clear of a writer in general as I do not want to reflect their writing style on my works.
  2. What is your dream occupation ? I wanted to be an astronaut or scientist when I was young. I think if given the chance, I still want to pursue it today.
  3. Who inspires you the most ? Myself and my dreams.
  4. What does happiness mean to you ? Happiness would be finding contentment and being able to be an instrument to others’ happiness as well.
  5. What genre of movies do you watch the most and why ? I watch anything that is interesting, but I especially love Romantic Comedies, Fantasy, Action, and Animated movies.
  6. Do you keep up with climate change events ? I do. I was involved with a lot of environmental activities when I was still studying. 
  7. Do you know who Greta Thunberg is ? Of course, who wouldn’t? She’s all over the news these days.
  8. Who is your favorite blogger ? I do not have a favorite as of the moment, but I fully support everyone on this community. I think it is a great way to share our ideas to each other. 
  9. What is your favorite cartoon character and why ? I love anything animated, but growing up I have always loved Mickey Mouse. I think he is the face of our childhood and being the face of Disney, reminds us of our early carefree years. 
  10. What is your number one fun activity ? Definitely reading. I am always looking for new things to read.
  11. Who is your top choice for the best musical act ? I do not watch enough musicals, unfortunately, to answer this question. 

My Questions To My Nominees:

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. What is your best experience in life so far?
  3. If you could travel anywhere, where would it be and why?
  4. What’s your comfort food and why?
  5. What is your greatest fear?
  6. What inspires you?
  7. Who is your role model?
  8. If you could choose an imaginary place to live, where would it be and why?
  9. What are you favorite books?
  10. If you could have dinner with someone who is dead, who would it be and why?
  11. How do you spend you past time?

I nominate the following people for the award:

YBP- It’s All About Love

Jo An- Midnight Harmony

Susi Bocks- I Write Her

Ailish Sinclair- Aislish Sinclair

I await your answers! This is a great way to connect with the community, so feel free to get on with the gig.

Wanted: Hell Torturer

Satan gives you a personal tour of the place. You didn’t have much choice when he captured you for the job as the new torturer. You had been in the hospital, brain dead after a car accident. You aren’t religious, and never believed in an afterlife, so you screamed when he came for you, in all his glory, a demon who was a human dragon. You are crying, begging for mercy, but Satan doesn’t want to deal with your petty begging- although it is acknowledged by the law of the divine that as an average human being, you were offered the job.

Hell is terrifying to behold. All the books that described it were right, even ten times more. You never liked horror movies, so it is quite a shock for you to see the ways all souls are being tortured. Wailing souls, oh the sound of it isn’t like anything you’ve heard before- the cries of people who have realized that they are submitted to Hell for eternity.

Satan turns to you, and your heart stops upon seeing his face. “Do you not see why we are running out of ideas? Souls here have been around since mankind sinned, this is the end, and yet when punishment comes to you everyday, the souls have learned to expect it.”

He brings you to the section where the oldest of them were punished. Their wails are not like the new ones, as their cries have only turned to anguish, the way people sob when the same things happen to them over and over again. You see how much they welcome torture more; their bodies bleed and they are fixed again.

You finally understand.

“You measure their tolerance of physical pain.. and that is the pain that is easiest to accept. Especially when it comes to you everyday and you are fixed after. A wound only hurts when it bleeds.”

“You question me, human?” His voice is something that will make you shake, and so you do.

“I… I.. you have hired me…” you stutter, but you continue. “I am speaking as a human myself. Physical pain is expected, our lives are short- we are frail, weak.. but their heart.. our hearts.. that is the punishment we all avoid, because we always expect the best. Break their spirits.. look back into their lives and see their regrets, their feelings.. and take it from there.. we.. we have enough of that within our lifetime. then.. then.. you can alternate between physical torture and that..”

You tell him your ideas in a blabber. How you can reenact the way a father rejected his daughter, how a boy you trusted most leave. How friends stab you in the back. How you missed to tell people you love them because you were too stubborn to do so, and you regretted it.

The devil walks to you, his size changing according to the average, and little by little, you notice his features. For in the beginning, the devil was the most beloved, the Morning Star- Lucifer, the most beautiful of all angels, God’s favorite.

In a flash, you see the hurt in his eyes, now turning as gold as the sun. You see him as Lucifer.

You gather courage to ask. “…do.. do you have regrets?”

He doesn’t answer, and return to his former form. For a moment it is as if Hell had gone quiet under the powers of its master.

“You’re hired.”

// hrh

photo: Lucifer

Dear Friend

Dear Friend,

There are a lot of questions in my head right now, and I can assume you ask yourself the same. Why is life so ironic? Why is everything complicated?

Like for instance: If you ask someone about the color of the sky, they will intend to explain it in a most scientific way possible, pairing it with facts, because that is how it really works. But have you ever wondered why the answer just can’t be as simple as the way you answer a 2-yr-old kid and say, “God painted the sky blue on the 2nd day.”

Alas, my friend, the truth is that even though we know a lot about the world, we are still blinded by reality. There are things beyond what we see, and this is the reason why we blame fate and God for the happenings in our lives, for we have no assurance of anything even if we try to do everything. We are in a gamble, an endless battle, where the gifts or curses of the risks we take are only revealed in the end.

Even the wisest man cannot explain every secret to you, because some things are better left unsaid. Know why?

We cannot answer without questions. We cannot love without hate. We cannot find something without seeking. We cannot win without fighting. We cannot live without dying. Things work in Irony, as there is North with South, and East with West, Day with Night, Beginning with End.

So you see, my friend, I cannot explain anymore, because the mystery of life can only be unveiled by the ones who walk through it. I have seen it, but nothing is clear for me yet; as life still breathes in me, and I am taking this opportunity to seek for more.

Travel with me. Time is telling me to keep dreaming and reaching.

Love,

// hrh