Posted in dating, Feminism, relationships

Of Retinal Detachments (Maybe!) and Late Night Realisations 

It was the middle of the night and I was caught in a rather strange dream about two of my workmates when my sister suddenly barged into my room, frightened, because she had a sudden blurring of vision on one eye. Being a nurse aaaaand somewhat of a hypochondriac my brain automatically goes to the worst case scenario. Some people would probably think its nothing, but I immediately think retinal detachment, macular degeneration and oh God, let’s go to the A and E.

It made me think about the other times that my sister would come barging into my room with one form of complaint or another, whether its the fact that we’ve suddenly lost the wifi or something more serious like when the time she had severe abdominal pain (and we really HAD to go to the A and E because her pain tolerance is minimal to the point of nonexistence). She comes in expecting me to be the mature adult when I really have no idea what I’m doing half the time. Its funny because really, between the two of us my sister would probably be considered more mature but when it comes to acting quickly in a crisis, I’m your girl. 

My brain doesn’t believe in wasting time. It will automatically go into problem solving mode and switch from ‘Houston we have a problem‘ to ‘okay, what can we do?’. That’s not to say I’m fearless; in fact, I’m probably scared shitless the whole time. But the way I deal with fear is to eliminate the source as quickly as possible and most of the time fear comes with the unknown. So no matter how bad it might be, I would always search for answers and the root cause of the problem so I can go about looking for solutions. I’ve never really thought about it, but I suppose this is one of my greatest strengths.

Its also incredibly exhausting.

And when Arlene came into my room that night, I found myself wishing there was someone else with me to support me for a change, someone I can rely on and count on, even if its just someone who will call an Uber whil I deal with my sister. I am usually the first person to bolster someone who’s feeling lonely and afraid because they’re single. I am probably the poster child for single adulthood because I can say with all honesty that I’ve never felt like there was something missing in my life just because I don’t have a boyfriend/partner/husband. It would certainly be nice, but its not something I would force or rush into just for the sake of it. Its too important a life decision to treat impulsively.

But that feeling of wanting someone as a partner came over me suddenly that night, I have to say. Not to use as a crutch, but like I said, it would be nice to have a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold as I face life’s many inevitable problems. Its the kind of feeling that probably means my online dating presence will be much more rampant in the coming days.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that while I’m generally a very strong person, it would be nice not to have to be strong all the time, to trust someone enough to let go of the reins and to be able to cede control of my life to another person for a few moments, trusting that they’ll act in my best interests and that when I’ve recharged they’ll hand it over to me, and I will be all the better for it. To me, that’s what being in a relationship means and if that’s what’s waiting for me at the end of all this dating palaver, I will gladly go on Tinder and whatever other online dating app there is. 

I talk to the universe and God less and less about my love life because I think they have other more important things to worry about but just in case they’re in the middle of a break and have 3 seconda to spare, this is me asking nicely for them to give a girl a break, enough is enough, maybe its my turn to win the relationship lottery huh? Its been a long time coming. 

Posted in Books, london, Reviews

Book Review: The House of Silk – Anthony Horowitz

A couple of years ago, at my sister’s urging, I watched an episode of BBC’s Sherlock starring the one and only Benedict Cumberbitch, I mean, Cumberbatch. After the first episode, I was hooked. By the time we got to the episode where John Watson got married and Sherlock made that incredibly moving, one-of-a-kind, original, quintessentially Sherlock best man speech, I was irrevocably a fan. 

I love mysteries. From the newer crime thrillers to the classic whodunits, I love it when I’m taken through a journey of clues, signs, false alarms and red herrings. I love stacking my wits against the main character and trying to solve the mystery before he or she does. And though it rarely happens, I love it when a plot twist manages to surprise me, when the answer to the mystery completely blindsides me as it seemingly comes out of nowhere but the clues have actually been right in front of me all along.

Most of all, I love seeing people use the underrated skill of simple deduction and common sense to solve a puzzle. And this is what is the at the heart of the House of Silk. This is this month’s Waterstone’s book club selection by the way and thank goodness for that or I might never have otherwise picked it up. 

Confession time: I’ve never actually finished reading the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories of the great detective although we have a lovely hardbound copy, a gift from me to my sister. After reading this book, I may be inspired to start reading it despite my ever growing to-read list. I have read the first few pages which is why I think I have grounds for the opinion that Anthony Horowitz has kept true to the style and voice of the original without being an exact replica. 

I love how familiar the rhythm of the writing is; I recognise it because its so incredibly British. And because the British people in this book have been so fantastically written like the way they talk, its like the language and the accents I hear every day have been coalesced into one book. From the cultured tones of the upper class to the cockney accent of the East, it all leaps vibrantly from the page. I cannot say enough of the writing. It quite simply flows; its so seamless and easy to read. 

Now to the mystery. I had initial reservations that this will turn out to be some boring stalker story or that it will be about another married couple where one of the partners is the cuplrit and/or is having an extra-marital affair. But, and I have to issue a MILD SPOILER ALERT here, by the time I get to the framing of Sherlock Holmes, his imprisonment and really clever escape and then to the way he solved not one but TWO seemingly unconnected mysteries, my brain just gave up and I surrendered to being taken on the wild ride that is this story. I may have guessed some elements of it, but it managed to completely surpise me by the time I got to the ending.

Finally, I am not surprised that there have always been speculation about the true nature of Sherlock and John Watson’s relationship. The bond they share is strong and unique in its strength, so often does it supercede other bonds, even that of marriage. Watson is so loyal to Sherlock and would do anything for him, and though its not always clear or obvious, this sentiment is certainly reciprocated by the more taciturn Holmes. I think we should all stop speculating and just celebrate the fact that this special partnership and friendship exists, and leave it at that.

Overall, I cannot wait to discuss this book at the Armchair Murder Mystery book club next Wednesday. If you fancy a good discussion with fellow book lovers – and free wine – head over to Waterstones Piccadilly and join us for an evening of literary fun. 

Cheers, bookworms! X

Posted in Food, Lifestyle, london

Fri-Yay Food Trip: Dishoom

After a whole week of rotation to trauma and orthopaedics, an eventful Friday filled with drama and the prospect of going home to the Philippines for the first time, my sister and I decided to take our dear friend Romelyn out to Dishoom last night before her flight to Cebu today. 

I was first introduced to Dishoom by my friend Katie and I have fond memories of catching up with her and my other favourite gal pal Caterina over a bowl of black daahl and a steaming pile of nan bread. The wait can sometimes seem interminable and its not unheard of to queue for at least an hour before you can even get to the bar and then wait another half an hour to get a table. But it is surely worth it.

Before Dishoom, my sister and Romelyn have always been skeptical about indian food. I was met with dubious looks and, in Arlene’s case, a serious frown, when I first suggested trying Dishoom at the Shoreditch branch. Obviously, these two have since changed their tune and we are now frequent visitors to this place, especially since the Kingly Street branch ( near Carnaby Street) is about a 5-minute walk from the flat.

Here are a few of our favourites in one photo:

Yum, yum, yum, yum, YUM!!!

When eating at Dishoom I find its best to have some sharers rather than having individual plates. For starters, we really like the Calamari served with different kinds of sauce/dips/whatever it is you call them.

You cannot go to Dishoom and not try their nan bread. Because I am obssessed with all things cheesy (from music to food to movies! Haha), I love ordering the cheese nan whereas my sisger prefers either the garlic or plain. I think its best served with the House Black Daahl. Let me tell you, I have no idea what’s in the Daahl and I don’t want to know but it is incredibly delicious when paired with the nan bread. If you want something a bit more sweet, you can also pair with with the Chicken Ruby. 

And finally, because the Filipino in us cannot have a meal without rice we often share Dishoom’s version of the chicken biryani. Its not that big a serving, but if you’ve already had everything else, I don’t think its a good idea to expect to consume a whole one by yourself because its really filling.

Ah, Dishoom. Still one of my favourite places to go to for a pick-me-up. Its not that expensive either. If you’re not consuming the cocktails, it will cost you about 25£ each. If you do order drinks, it can go to about as high as 35£ each, so be warned, the drinks are expensive. Also, if the long queue is stopping you from visiting, you can always come before 6pm because they will still be accepting reservations before then. Plus, they serve free drinks for the people queuing, which is another reason to give them two thumbs up!

Hope you get a chance to enjoy Dishoom as much as I do. Cheers! X 

Posted in Books, Reviews, romance, Young Adult

Book Review: The Raven Boys Series – Maggie Stiefvater

Sometimes, you come across a book series that defies categories and genres, and is such a mishmash of storylines and plots, that you find yourself scratching your head and asking: WHAT THE HELL AM I READING?!

 

 

This is exactly the kind of reaction this book series evoked in me. There are four books in this series, and usually I expect to be confused and muddled for the first two books when the author is laying all the groundwork for the reveals, plot twists and payoffs that are sure to occur in the last book. HOWEVER. When you’re already reading the last book and you’re still not quite sure what it is you’re reading and what the point of the story is, I think that’s a different story altogether.

 

 

Every year on St Mark’s Eve, Blue Sargent stands guard with her psychic mum as a group of soon-to-be dead people walk along the “corpse road”. She herself has never seen them until this year, when one of them sees and speaks directly to her. Her clairvoyant aunt told her that there is only one reason for the dead to speak directly to a non-seer: either Blue is this person’s true love or she killed him herself. Now this is relevant because all her life, Blue has been told that if she kisses her true love, he will die (how tragic!). She doesn’t know who this guy is, all she has is a whisper of a name: Gansey.

 

 

Gansey (Richard Campbell Gansey III, to be more exact) is no stranger to dying. In fact, he’d already died once before after being stung by a hornet and he was brought back to life by the power of the “ley line”, which I imagine to be some kind of psychic force field. As he laid there dying, a voice whispered in his ear that he will be brought back to life because at that very same moment, someone else died on the ley line when they weren’t supposed to. This second shot at life led to an obsession over all things related to the ley line, specifically the quest to find ‘The Raven King”, whom legend supposes to be buried in the heart of this line. Legend also has it that whoever finds this tomb will be granted one favour by The Raven King.

 

 

Through a series of chance and twists of fate, Blue finds herself increasingly involved with Gansey and the rest of the Raven Boys: Adam, the poor scholar who struggles with jealousy, pride and the need to make it in the world in his own terms and without receiving any hand-outs from his rich friends; Ronan, a troubled kid who found his father bludgeoned to death and who plays a more central role to this story than I initially thought; and Noah, who’s just…always there…until he isn’t. In this already complicated mix of characters we add Blue’s family: her psychic Mom and her psychic friends who all live in 300 Fox Way.

 

 

I’m telling you, there are a lot of things that go down in this series. There’s the mysterious power of dreams; a subplot that to me is a metaphoric plea to save the environment; demonic activity; death and resurrection; romance. It is FULL ON. In the hands of any other author, I think this book would have been rubbish. However, Maggie’s prose is so extremely readable that I found myself just going along with it no matter how confused I became. I’ve taken some memorable quotes from Pinterest and included them in this blog post (all credits to the original users who posted them, none of these are mine!).

 

 

 

I enjoyed the story and I enjoyed the character developments. I enjoyed reading the strength of the friendship among the four Raven Boys, the kind that won’t let you go into the dark alone, and the kind that will save you even if what you need saving from is yourself. I loved that Blue is a sensible heroine and that I didn’t feel the need to smack her, and I love that the romance developed gradually and didn’t feel forced or rushed in any way. I also loved that the romance aspect never overshadowed the supernatural element of the story. There was also a surprising twist -and additional romantic entanglement – that I would not have seen coming but was unfortunately spoiled for me because I read the bloody Goodreads reviews (%#£!!!!) but which I think readers will enjoy.

 

 

Does Gansey die? Is he Blue’s true love? Will she ever get to kiss anyone? Does this ragtag group of misfits ever find The Raven King? All those questions will be answered after a lot of talking and reading and posturing. I warn readers that I am of the opinion that I finished this series only out of sheer curiosity and stubbornness, and that some readers may find it tedious and pointless (adjectives that I used at some point while reading the books). Nevertheless, YA fans may still want to check it out. I also just have to point out that the cover art is incredibly beautiful.

 

 

If you agree or disagree with the review, feel free to leave comments below. I would love to know what everyone else thought about this series!

Posted in Food, Lifestyle, london

Saturday Food Trip: Koba

My sister and I did an unexpected shift at the hospital yesterday and we both ended up staying until 8pm for some reason. So because it had been a long day and it was our workmate Gianluigi’s, last official day at work, we decided to treat ourselves to some korean barbecue.

Now London is a place that won’t ever run out of   korean barbecue restaurants, and in your quest for the best bulgogi in town you’ll run a gamut of choices, from the cheap to the reasonably priced to the really pricey. I think Koba is a place you go to every once in a while when you’re craving for GOOD korean barbecue. Its not the cheapest option for barbecue in central London; I think in terms of budget Superstar Barbecue in nearby St. Giles might be a bit easier on the pocket. However, in terms of quality Koba is definitely better.

We’ve been to Koba so many times that the waitresses already know they have to help us out because we’re just hopeless with the grill. That’s the other great thing about Koba: they have excellent and efficient service. The staff are always there to help you out if you need anything and they will do the grilling for you if it looks like you’re struggling (which I usually am).

There’s plenty of other choices apart from the barbecue. We usually get korean seafood pancakes for starters. They’re so yummy I could eat them all day. My sister and my friend Romelyn are both big fans of kimchi, which is a traditional korean side dish so we tend to get that as well.

I wouldn’t recommend having a lot of starters because the meats from the barbecue are quite heavy on the tummy already. BUT. One of my ultimate favourites in Koba is their seafood and egg fried rice and I don’t care how heavy rice is, I will always order the fried rice.

Also I didn’t have the chance to take a photo of it but the crab salad is also really good for a starter. The perfect combination of the saltiness of the crab and the vinegrette/dressing that they used was incredibly delicious. Gian went so far as to ask the waiter if they had bread because like the true Italian that he is, he wanted to mop up the remaining juice with a focaccia or something. Obviously a korean restaurant would not have bread of any sort, more’s the pity. 

Anyway, like I said, the korean barbecue selection are the true highlights of the restaurant. Depending on you hungry your party is and how many people are actually in your party, you might want to order a couple of plates. Usually, if its just my sister, Romelyn and I we can be satisfied with one. But Gianluigi was apparently really hungry so we ended up ordering both the Koba and Seafood platter.

Koba’s marinade is definitely better than Superstar’s and I also find that they have better-quality meats as well.  I remember Gian, who is a true coinousseur of all things culinary, being disappointed about the food when we last ate at Superstar but he gave this one his stamp of approval. Tutti bene as they say. I’m glad I’m finally able to return the favour after he made me taste one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had in my life.

Koba usually gets busy around 7 to 8pm. Unless you’ve made reservations, you stand a better chance of having a table if you go a bit early or a bit late, like closer to 9. Its located near Charlotte Street, its more like Rathbone Street to be precise. 

Cheers to more food trips. Happy weekend everyone! 

Posted in Health and Well-Being, Stress Relief

A reminder to BREATHE

These past two months have been incredibly weird for me. I’ve felt myself getting pulled into so many directions. I want to do so many things and I have the opportunity to do so many things but I can’t seem to committ to one. I have finally come to the conclusion that I don’t really know what I want and the only thing I should do until I figure that out is BREATHE.

Earlier I was working with a female surgeon and a female anaesthetist and they were talking about letting go and seceding control. As someone who has always been solidly Type A, the concept of not being in control is entirely foreign to me. I cannot imagine not having a plan for my life. But as my anaesthetist said, suffering equals pain times resistance and the more you try to control things the more frustrated you get when things inevitably don’t always go your way.

I honestly feel that in constantly thinking about the things I’ve yet to achieve, I’ve lost sight of the things that I HAVE achieved. I think I’m starting to see that its not always about getting to the next step. I am constantly at war with the part of me that’s ambitious and wants to get things done NOW. I need to nurture the part of me that just wants to live and be happy and content. 

My friend recently posted a quote that said ‘Gratitude turns what we have into ENOUGH’. I think I really need this weekend to refocus on the things that really matter. Like my health, and my family and my true friends. I’ve been thinking it over and I think I try to be so many things to so many people that I’ve lost sight of who I am when its just me. 

I think I just need a long holiday really. Get away from it all and recharge. I’m looking forward to going home and seeing my parents in January. It’ll give me a chance to think, regroup and plan for the future when I’m not doing the daily grind of living in London.

Thank goodness I have blogging to keep me sane. 

Posted in Books, Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult

Book Review: The Infernal Devices Trilogy – Cassandra Clare

In case it wasn’t clear enough already, I would like to point out two glaringly obvious points:

  1. I am currently going through a YA (young adult) fantasy phase when it comes to my literary choices and its not likely to stop anytime soon. I know that there is a distinct group of people (people who can’t understand that reading is supposed to be fun) who will say that 30 is a little too old to still be reading YA and to those people, I say (with all the kindness in the world): piss. off. I happen to think that there is a lot that we, as adults, can learn from the YA genre. I will not bore anyone by recounting those here but those who still read YA will know exactly what I mean.
  2. I am a very emotional person. I am the kind of person who will cry at the cinema when a beloved character dies in a film or when Rose doesn’t even think about the physics behind sharing a door panel with Jack when the Titanic sank. I cried when Stuart Little became part of his adopted family, I cry at heartfelt and inspirational speeches especially if they immediately precede an important but tragic battle. I am a crier, and I’m damn proud of it. Lol

 

So it will come as no surprise to those who know me if I start this review by saying that I absolutely blubbered over this trilogy. I read the Goodreads reviews and maybe when I’m less emotional over how this book ended I may understand what they’re saying about this being wish fulfilment and contrived but for now, I just don’t get where the negativity is coming from because I think this trilogy was brilliant. Okay, let’s get to the review.

 

The Infernal Devices trilogy is meant to be a prequel to The Mortal Instruments BUT I think for maximum enjoyment, the reading order should be as follows:

  1. City of Bones
  2. City of Ashes
  3. City of Glass
  4. The Infernal Devices Trilogy – Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, Clockwork Princess
  5. City of of Fallen Angels
  6. City of Lost Souls
  7. City of Heavenly Fire
  8. Tales from The ShadowHunter Academy
  9. The Bane Chronicles

 

I regret not reading them in that order because I think the books may have packed a more emotional punch if I didn’t already know what was going to happen, having read all 6 books of the Mortal Instruments already. But then again, this trilogy did not need any more ammunition to make me cry. It was heartbreaking enough already.

 

The trilogy tells the story of Tessa Gray, who moved from New York to London in order to be with her brother Nathaniel. Little did she know that Nate has been caught up in the shadow world of demons, warlocks, vampires, werewolves and shadow hunters. She is captured by two warlocks whose purpose is to unlock Tessa’s powers, because Tessa isn’t what she seems and has abilities far beyond anything she can ever imagine. She is rescued by Will Herondale, a young shadow hunter from The London Institute and introduced to people who will eventually become like the family she never had. She meets James  (Jem) Carstairs, Will’s parabatai (like a blood brother) who’s also got secrets of his own; Sophie, a mundane with a tragic past; Charlotte Fairchild, the head of the Institute who’s trying to prove that a woman’s worth goes beyond her ability to give birth and Henry Branwell, a brilliant if somewhat absent-minded inventor and Charlotte’s husband.

 

The big bad of this book may seem underwhelming, and I found it ridiculous at first that he could even be considered a threat. But there is no better motive for world domination and destruction than the thirst for revenge I guess, and in a way, its the fact that no one expected him to be a threat that made him so dangerous to the shadow hunters. The villain is, as they usually are, extremely firm in his beliefs and convictions and has the added advantage of foresight. He’s been planning his revenge on the shadow hunters long before Tessa was ever born, and has had the patience to wait to be able to carry out his plan.

 

This trilogy also involves a love story. In fact, it involves one of my most hated things in the world: a love triangle: Will – Tessa – Jem. I was ready to hate this book because I usually cannot stand love triangles. I find them silly, stupid, and saccharine and its beyond belief how three seemingly sensible people could be driven to do senseless things all in the name of love. But this triangle is different. I won’t go into too much detail about it because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. But this triangle is not annoying, there’s no flip-flopping involved, neither is there cheating; there is selflessness, sacrifice and above all, there is so much love and friendship that it kept me up till midnight and resulted in the aforementioned blubbering.

 

(Are you listening to me Stephenie Meyer? This, THIS is how you write love triangle!)

 

Its not so much the love story that makes this book worth reading. The world building and the fantasy elements are also notable; there is the underlying lesson that we are all capable of something great and that just because someone is different doesn’t mean that they are to be feared or persecuted. The battle scenes were quite good as well. But the true lynchpin of this story is the friendship between Will and James. HONESTLY. I am now obsessed with the parabatai concept and where can I get one please? I loved how these two refused to have anything, even death, come between them. I love how they managed to be there for each other despite the odds, and I want to believe that there is a world out there where they are still fighting side by side, so in tune to each other because their hearts and souls are – and always will be – one.

 

(Also, can I just say, I love that Jem is half Asian. I love that he speaks mandarin and that a lot of the important dialogue in the third book was in mandarin.)

 

I am now more convinced than ever that Cassandra Clare haters should just shut up and let the past lie where it belongs: in the past. Yes, she’s done some dodgy things but let’s give credit where credit is due. She’s done a fantastic job building the Shadow Hunter world. Her words just flow into a seamless narrative that is easy to read, and that is capable of touching the hearts of her readers. I am a fan, and I will continue to be if only because of this gift of a trilogy that she’s given the world.

 

READ THIS TRILOGY, FELLOW YA LOVERS. You won’t regret it!

 

Happy Sunday everyone! x