Spring Cleaning!

Here in Dubai we’ve basically skipped Spring and jumped right into Summer, but I’m going to pretend it’s Spring because the heat is not yet overwhelming enough to melt my eyes out of my sockets. Taking a little inspiration from Maddie, I feel it’s time for a post long overdue; after all, it’s been almost five months since I moved and I have yet to say anything about that. So this is a sort of “cleaning” post – I’m dusting off my blog and poking those cobwebs out of the corners, in hopes that I’ll be more active here over the coming months.

Though I’m from Lebanon, I was born and raised in UAE, and spent over 19 years of my life here – it’s more of a home to me than Lebanon will ever be. In Zen’s Grand Life Plan, returning to this country was a high priority. I had to make it happen. It wasn’t just an option. It was difficult, but I made it happen. So now I’m back home, and I feel happier than I’ve ever been in a very long time.

I finally have my own place in the middle of a skyscraper community. It’s a cute little studio, which I’ve decked with purple. Seriously – purple crockery, cutlery, bathroom stuff, bed sheets… it’s not completely Zenified yet, but I’m getting there! Next step – a PURPLE COUCH. Maybe. >.>;

The neighbourhood is lovely, I have a park right under my building, and the towers are all built around big lakes, which are pretty despite being artificial! In fact, here’s a picture from my bedroom window.

IMG_20141211_152810

That’s the entrance of the park, and you can see the lake to the side!

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2014 in Reading

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Last book of 2014!

2014 was many things… good, bad and ugly… but at least it did not throw any 1-star books at me! Of course a lot has changed in the course of this year, and I’ve had a lot to reflect upon… but the one constant has remained my love for reading (and determination to beat the Goodreads Reading Challenge). Around this time of year, I like to look at my stats and pick out the few that really stuck with me. And okay, okay, I’ve read some books that made me feel that I’ve wasted my time, but I still think I’ve had a pretty decent share of good ones, and I wrapped up the year with a pretty book (and some amazing sweets but that’s besides the point)! But first, let’s see how I checked out on the resolutions front!

DONE

  • I read 50 books in 2014! It was a close call, having finished the 50th book yesterday, but I made it!
  • I read one children’s novel and one middle grade novel and liked the latter more. That is important because the children’s one was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and I wasn’t all that enamored by it.
  • I didn’t stop reading any books! On a roll for more than two years now!
  • I’ve written a review for every single book I read this year. I even went back and wrote reviews for some books I read years ago.
  • I was not lured by pretty covers. Well, I was lured by a book or two, but I think I improved!

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Sweet Snapshot Sunday #4

One post ago I mentioned that I was going to be moving. At the time, I didn’t really believe it. Even though I was packing and having such a difficult time deciding which books I should take with me, it still hadn’t sunk it that in a few days time I was going to find myself in an entirely different country. For some reason this made me very depressed, and I was susceptible to random bouts of crying.

Thankfully, that’s behind me now. I guess I should give a bit more information… I’ve moved to Dubai, UAE. Some of you might remember that I’ve spent the first 19 years of my life there before eventually going to Lebanon. This country is more of a home to me than my actual home country. It’s where I grew up, it’s where I feel comfortable, it’s where I feel free to be myself. It’s changed a bit in the few years I was away, it grew and developed… but I still see in it the home I once left behind.

But I’m happy now. I’m starting my independent life. I take the metro to work every day, I have morning walks by the edge of the lake on my way to the office, I’m taking charge of my work, I’m hunting for an apartment, I’m getting all my paperwork in order… and I’m also of course discovering all the new dessert spots in town. ;)

Triple Chocolate Cake

Triple Chocolate Cake

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A Bibliophile’s Packing Dilemma

I’m moving on Friday, to a whole new job, a whole new city, a whole new country in fact. I’m excited and terrified at the same time. This is a whole new level of independence and responsibility that I’ve never had before, and knowing me, I will either screw up badly or do brilliantly. There’s no middle ground.

One of the things I’m really looking forward to is having my own place and furnishing it the way I like (priorities, amirite?). I’ve started looking at apartment listings and furniture catalogues already. I have visions of myself strolling through IKEA, seeing my perfect living room/bed room and saying, “This is it. This is so me.” I am also on the lookout for the perfect bookshelf… which brings us to the title of this post.

HOW THE HELL DO I CHOOSE WHICH BOOKS TO TAKE?

*clears throat*

Books, I’ve discovered, are very heavy indeed. 10 paperbacks and 5 hardbacks together weight 6.7 kg (14.7) pounds. I’m only allowed 40 kg for my flight, of which 10 kg have already been taken up by the weight of my bags themselves. Speaking of bags, I had absolutely no idea they could cost so much; I was so shocked! Anyway. I have about 400 books on my shelves, out of which there are 65 books I haven’t read it (give or take). My first solution?

Read All the Books

I thought I was making good progress. I was reading one book per day. But with a sinking feeling, I realised that if I were to read all my books before leaving, I would need to go through at least 6 per day. Impossible. Distraught, I started thinking of other tactics. 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.

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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

Sweet Snapshot Sunday #2

I was planning on making this thing a regular occurring on this blog, but I’ve been too busy to blog lately! Work has been hectic – but productive – and I’m catching up on books and shows that I’ve been wanting to indulge in. This weekend I got my first guilt-free breather in a long time, and what better way to celebrate than with some dessert?

Carre Chocolate

Carre Chocolate

Plaisir Sucree

Plaisir Sucree

Columbian Chocolate and Salter Caramel Macarons

Colombian Chocolate and Salted Caramel Macarons

The above treats are all courtesy of Ladurée. The Carre Chocolat and the Plaisir Sucree were indulgent layers of sweet, savory chocolate mousse, cake and the soft macaron meringue base, though the difference between the two is that the first is made with dark chocolate, and the second has crusty praline. Absolutely delightful. I swooned with every bite. The macarons are quite amazing too; of all the Ladurée macarons I’ve tried, salted caramel and Colombian chocolate are definitely my favourite; the flavours are so intense!

I also treated myself to some clothes, and… as always, I couldn’t resist the temptation of buying a new book, so I got The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. Has anyone read it? It looks so interesting!

How’s your weekend going? What are you currently reading? Have you tried Ladurée before? :D