Is my name against me?

Zeinab Alayan. 

If you were browsing the shelves of a bookstore and came upon a book with that name printed across the cover, what would you do? Would you ignore it, regardless of how interesting it seemed, and move on to another book written by a clearly English native? Or would you give it your time of day because in the end it’s the story that matters?

I know that most of us would say that we’d pick it up. It’s the morally right answer. A book is a book regardless of who writes it. It shouldn’t matter if the author is English or Arabic or Indian or whatever else. Yet I can’t help but think that this is the answer we want to give, not the one we’re subconsciously thinking. Maybe we do discriminate against people with foreign/exotic names without even realising it. I mean… I only caught myself doing it recently… allowing my eyes to glaze over English books with Arabic authors in favour of books with English authors.

I paused. Then I felt disgusted with myself. Then I felt like a hypocrite. For so many years I’ve wondered if the fact that I was an Arab had anything to do with the fact that many agents wouldn’t even look at my manuscript, and now I end up doing the same to others. Continue reading

Don’t forget to eat chocolate!

This reminder might seem unnecessary to some, because of course chocolate is not something one would forget to eat. However, it is highly important that you have some today, because the 13th of September happens to be International Chocolate Day!

I have been obsessing over this since last night, trying to figure out how to celebrate it. I am extremely busy with work but a day like this cannot go unnoticed! First I figured I could buy some chocolate bars, but that seemed like a poor way to celebrate, then I upgraded my thinking process to baked goodies (cakes, brownies, cookies) but even those didn’t make it feel all that special… plus I would end up with a destroyed kitchen that would take hours to clean.

So I went all the way. An international day celebrating the thing I love most had to be given its proper due, and that meant going to a patisserie and buying ALL THE THINGS. Well… erm, some things anyway. I had ice-cream and an assortment of cakes!

How else can you celebrate ICD? Continue reading

Don’t read my book!

Yes, you heard me. I don’t want anyone reading  the book I worked so hard to write. Not indefinitely, of course, but at least until I correct my horrendous writing mistakes. There are two reasons I avoid reading my books after I’ve published them:  1) I don’t want to find that I’ve missed some awful typos (like writing “nut” instead of “but), and 2) I don’t want to see how bad my writing is.

Sigh.

When they tell you that a writer is their own worst critic, they are definitely not joking. Seeing the words I wrote nearly three years ago makes me cringe. Heck, seeing the words I wrote five months ago makes me cringe. On one hand, that’s a good thing because it means I’m improving and my writing is becoming better and better, but on the other, it means I don’t like anything I published in the past. I’m almost embarrassed by it. Continue reading

My Book Hangover

My eyes are bloodshot and my mind groggy after staying up until 9 a.m. today trying to meet a work deadline. Of course, that would not have happened if I’d put the book I’d been reading aside instead of making up my mind to finish it because supposedly I could not focus until it was over. Before I knew it, the clock struck midnight and I had over 10 pages to translate and 30 to edit.

This series has managed to do the impossible and made me love it as much as I love Harry Potter.

This series has managed to do the impossible and made me love it as much as I love Harry Potter.

I usually am able to curb my book hunger, but last night was just impossible. I was reading the third book in the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson – The Hero of Ages. I don’t often review books on my blog unless their indies, but this one series had such a profound impact on me that it really does deserve a mention. I’d never before come across a book with a political and magic system so extensive and complex, or one with so many vibrant characters, where every single person had a part to play. The story had so many twists and turns that I could never, not in a million years, see coming. After every book I sat down in awe of the sheer brilliance of the author and his ability to keep his characters alive in my head long after I’d replaced his books on the shelf. Continue reading

You lost me at the ending.

I always read books to the end, regardless of how much I dislike them or feel bored by them. I have two reasons for this: a) Leaving a book unfinished makes me uncomfortable. It will always remain at the back of mind, reminding me of my incompetence, telling me that I’ve failed; and b) I always give the book a chance to redeem itself with a fabulous ending. Yes, that doesn’t work all the time, and true, it might not make me love the book, but it will probably matter when it comes to rating.

Endings always determine how much I love the book.  Or how much I hate it. I feel that some authors put so much emphasis on the plot and character development – which is not a bad thing on its own – and end up writing the ending as an afterthought, using it as a way to simply wrap things up without really making sure that it is up to par with the rest of the book or trying to make it as satisfactory as possible. Incidentally, it was not a book that had me thinking about this today, but rather a movie, “Lucy” to be exact. The movie was very interesting and gripping all throughout, but the ending… I was seriously underwhelmed. Instead of leaving the theatre feeling happy, my mind buzzing with what I’d watched, I felt quite disappointed, and my mind quickly shelved it under “Seen, Not Worth it”.

That’s not to say that I haven’t read books with such kind of endings. There were endings that I completely fell in love with like Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

I know, Marshall, I really do.

Continue reading

Sweet Snapshot Sunday #3

It’s time for another one of those posts where I share drool-worthy pictures with the masses and giggle with glee as hunger starts bubbling within you and… er, I mean… what? I don’t do anything like that. I don’t.

*clears throat*

Work has been hectic as always, but I finally allowed myself to leave the house for a few hours and expose myself to some sun. I swear I am so pale you would not believe me if I said I was experiencing my hottest summer in years. Plus I was getting very crabby and was desperate for a breather. I went to one of my favourite “sweet haunts” – Magnolia Bakery. Next to my No. 1 dessert – the Snickers Icebox Pie – I had a Chocolate Chunk Blondie with a layer of chocolate on top aaaand a Vanilla & Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake.

They were all very delicious. =D

Vanilla & Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake

Vanilla & Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake 

Continue reading

Let’s talk about books. Please.

You probably think my request is weird. If I wanted to talk about books, why not hit up Goodreads, some other online community, or maybe even one of the many book blogs out there? That is true of course; the Internet has made it so much easier to discuss almost any book under the sun, no matter how obscure. Yet… it does not replace the feeling of gushing over (or even bashing) a book in person.

This is so unbelievably true.  (Source: Fiction and Flowers)

This is so unbelievably true.
(Source: Fiction and Flowers)

You know what I’m talking about. You and someone else find out you’re reading/you’ve read the same book, and excitement ensues. I don’t care if that other person is a stranger, you will be itching to bound over and talk to them if you find them buried in a book you’ve already read. You will be eager to know what they think of it. You will feel happy if they share your feelings, good or bad, and you most definitely will feel sad if they disagree, yet it will be accompanied with a thrill. Thinking maybe you can show them the book from a different perspective, you will want to try to change their mind. And even if silence falls between the two of you, you (or them) will find a way to puncture it again with an afterthought regarding the book. And you’re probably nodding along to everything I’ve said in this paragraph. Continue reading