Saturday, November 8, 2014

Book Review: The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Lahiri's subtle, bittersweet ending is characteristic of the collection as a whole. Some of these nine tales are set in India, others in the United States, and most concern characters of Indian heritage. Yet the situations Lahiri's people face, from unhappy marriages to civil war, transcend ethnicity. As the narrator of the last story, "The Third and Final Continent," comments: "There are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept." In that single line Jhumpa Lahiri sums up a universal experience, one that applies to all who have grown up, left home, fallen in or out of love, and, above all, experienced what it means to be a foreigner, even within one's own family.

I started out reading this book with the short story that had the title of the book and it was, to be honest, my least favorite of the short stories. But I didn't give up on the book yet, there was a certain tone in the author's writing that tugged somewhere inside me and the abrupt ending of the short story left me unsettled and intrigued.

For me, if a book has a strong message, or at least a powerful honest one from the author, no matter how much I disliked the book, I would still regard the book with respect. I have never given a book a one star rating, but I did for a book I had to read for my Arabic class. But, after analyzing it in class, I felt that I understood the author and his message and despite me not liking his style and honestly not understanding half of what he meant on my own, I respect the book. My views changed after dissecting it and revealing the message behind it.

I did stray a bit from my point, but what I am trying to say is despite the short story Interpreter of Maladies was not something I enjoyed particularly, I loved the message the author portrayed and I still decided to give the next short story for class a go and I loved it. Sexy really made me discard by initial opinion of the book.

I am not sure how many of the short stories we would discuss in class, but we are allowed to use them for our exam. I wanted to start the book right from the first short story and work my way to end. I did not want to stray from the sequence the author chose, I do believe it has a significance.

There is something about the overall mood of the story, an overall melancholic vibe and yearning for something that Larihi laced her words with, that left me feeling enchanted. I am not quite a fan of short stories because they end too quickly, leaving me wanting more. Or, the characters would feel underdeveloped due to the story ending to fast, the events to me would be too little. Lahiri however, excelled in making her short stories adequately pleasing, I wouldn't complain when they end. The ending would be sudden leaving you out of breath, shocking you.

I really enjoyed the multiple perspectives the short-stories have shown, illuminating the faults and blessings that both cultures contain. Being an Arab and living in a society where the some are blinded by the West and some are too harshly condemning them, I could identify with many things the author portrayed.

I apologize for my long absence, I have been struggling with school work, I keep on forgetting to make time for my blog. Since my cousin started posting again, it kind of motivated me to post once again. I always have some nice ideas, but I barely have time to post them, but hopefully I will. I certainly will try.

Happy reading,

Friday, September 12, 2014

Book Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: By day, two young women spend their hours emailing each other, discussing every aspect of their lives. By night, Lincoln, a lonely IT guy, spends his hours reading every exchange. Soon Lincoln is drawn into their lives, and finds himself falling for one of them. Lincoln decides it's time to muster the courage to follow his heart.

I was really excited about starting another Rainbow Rowell book. Her books - to me - are  fun, light reads that help take your mind off things and don't demand much thinking. As I mentioned in previous book reviews, (here and on goodreads) that she always makes me laugh out loud. In this book I've only laughed twice or three times. Now I am not saying I did not enjoy this book. I loved it, it made me smile, the characters were on my mind even when I wasn't reading, I even thought of them and still do now that I am done. But somehow it did not seem to me as a four or five star book.

There is a certain atmosphere in Rowell's book that simply attract my brain cells. However, while reading I kept comparing it to her other two novels and to be honest, I enjoyed Fangirl and Eleanor & Park more. This novel had been the first she published, which could mean she simply flourished and grew while writing the latter two.

Despite the peculiarity of the scenario, it is still quite believable. Jessica and Beth's friendship was very touching. I loved reading their e-mails to each other. They remind me of some of my friends when we correspond. I did love and feel a connection with all the characters in the book; honestly all Rowell's characters are wonderful. I want to befriend all of them and push them into my life.

Sometimes you rate a book three stars, but that doesn't mean it is bad. I actually rate(d) a lot of books three stars which I enjoyed and touched me. But, after reading many books, sometimes they don't feel like they are compatible of being four or five rating, since you keep comparing them to all the previous work you have read. So I learned something after reading this book and other few which I rated three stars; three stars doesn't always mean its not good, it is but it could lack in someway. Nevertheless, it is quite good. Which is why this blog is a great way, when you read the person's review you get what they are trying to say; whether it is a "good" three star rating, or the book is not that great.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Book Review: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: comedienne, actress, obedient child of immigrant professionals and, now, writer. With a blend of witty confessions and unscientific observations, Mindy writes about everything from being a timid young chubster afraid of her own bike to living the Hollywood life, dating, friendships and planning her own funeral - all executed with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls.
I chose to start this book because I was having a pretty tough time and I really wanted something to help get my mind off things. Mindy Kaling is known for being hilarious and I have heard  nothing but good reviews about this book from people I know and Booktube.* I knew the audiobook was narrated by her, so I couldn't miss out. The book does however, contain many pictures which is why whenever I know there would be a chapter with books, I follow up using the book, as well while listening to her. 

One of the components (to me personally) that makes a good book is that if it makes you laugh out loud. If the book is supposed to be funny but it didn't, it means I can't place it high enough with those who did. I just love Kaling's candidness/bluntness, I did not want the book to end. Her way to fame way peculiar, nevertheless very interesting. Her anecdotes are simplistic yet, full of vitality. 

I know she is coming out with a new book soon, I can't wait!

Since I have started school on the 31st of August, I have been bombarded with work. So I am just trying to balance things out, focus more on school and using my spare time in fiercely relaxing/reading. Therefore, my posts may not be as often as in the summer. I will try my best, since I have many ideas but no time to put them down here. Bear with me, hopefully I could make this work.  

*Booktube if you didn't know is a community in Youtube where people post videos about books. Exciting right?

As always: 
Happy reading,

Friday, August 29, 2014

Green Smoothies

The idea of juicing a mixture of fruit and veggies together had never appealed me. I remember at the age of twelve I made a smoothie with peaches, apples and grapes and I couldn't bring myself to finishing it. So that made me stay away for a long, long time. Then a while later my friend told me a recipe for an apple and banana smoothie/milkshake thing and I loved it. I made it for several days in a row. It was a constant breakfast, dinner and even snack. I like my smoothies/milkshakes to be blended with tons of ice, so when winter came I stopped. Then I didn't feel like having it, I'd just rather have something else.

The other day I found a picture of a green smoothie and the girl posted that if you knew the benefits you would make some as well. I googled more about it and I loved the idea of drinking it in the morning on a empty stomach and it doesn't need digesting so your body would suck the nutrients fast. Also getting more greens into your everyday diet and consuming something before coffee. More about the benefits over here.

It is simple. You choose your leafy greens, one or two fruits, water or milk and some lemon. If you like ginger then add it to spice it up, some flax seeds. Honestly the combinations are numerous. I'll share some I made:

- 1 green apple
- purple grapes
- water
- ginger
- long-leafed lettuce

- orange
- lemon
- ginger
- lettuce
- dates to sweeten it
- water
- mint
- long-leafed lettuce

- avocado
- green apple
- water
- lemon
- ginger
-  long-leafed lettuce
- mint

- watermelon
- cucumber
- water
- dates
-  long-leafed lettuce
- ginger
- mint

* I prefer not juicing the lemon and orange, add it all so you would gain more fiber and not waste the nutrients in the fruit.

Feel free to add honey or any kind of sweetener you'd like, but I would prefer you don't. Use naturally sugary fruit if you like your smoothies really sweet.

Do you make green smoothies? What's your favorite combo?

Happy sipping,

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pride and Prejudice Review: The Book

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Rating: ★★★★★

Pride and Prejudice is a classic, if you read the synopsis then it would just give away the majority of the plot. I'd rather if you did not know much, it is better to embark on the book that way. If you disagree then you could look up the synopsis on google or goodreads. So no synopsis from me.

I have only watched Pride and Prejudice (the movie) when I was younger and it was only in parts not whole, thus I cannot really remember anything- thanks to my brilliant memory. Which is why when I started reading Pride and Prejudice I only had a very vague idea of the plot as a whole. I was pretty surprised by how good the book is. Going into the book at the start, I was afraid because people either loved it or hated it and most of the people whom opinion I trust thought the novel was too slow and lacked action.

The novel concentrates more on character development and personality analysis, which could be to many viewed as dull as they seek more action and perhaps a plot twist. However, the novel portrays the mindset and outlook of the era quite impeccably. I have not read many books in that time, nor have I read many with the subject of courting and marrying and it does quite interest me very much. Therefore, I found this novel highly entertaining and very well written. I do not have any negative feed-back about it at all, which is quite surprising because I thought I may enjoy it but I would have some minor issues. 

I am a bit concerned that maybe if I read too much of this writing style it could be tedious. However, I will continue reading Austen's novels after this good start. 

absolutely loved Mr. Bennets character, I wish Austen shed more light on him. Mrs. Bennet on the other hand should be strangled, she really got on my nerves and I kept fuming whenever she dropped a very rude and shallow remark, yet she was brilliant in a I-want-to-kill-her way. It does though, portray many personas of that time. I did not however, expect a character like Mr. Bennet to be present. All the other characters are well-written and entertaining as well. 

Spoilers below this sentence.

I found it quite amusing the gradual change of Elizabeth's feeling from loath to utter love. 

Let me know what do you think of the book? Who is your favorite character and why?

Happy reading,

Thursday, August 14, 2014

50 Book Related Questions

I wanted to answer some book related questions today, I googled it and I found this blog post with the questions and now I'm doing it. Lets get started:

1. Favorite childhood book?
This is easy I loved (and still do re-read every once in a while) The Twits by Roald Dahl. 

2. What are you reading right now?  
I just read a couple of pages of Pride and Prejudice. I didn't have time to sit down a read an adequate amount. 

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
4. Bad book habit? 
Not being able to stop myself from buying more books.
5. What do you currently have checked out at the library? 
6. Do you have an e-reader?
 Nope, I prefer the physical copy of a book, but I occasionally do read using an e-reader. 

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once? 
For the most part a book at a time. 

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog? 

9. Least favourite book you read this year?
A book I just read in Arabic called اللص والكلاب - نجيب محفوظ

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
I can't choose one, but at the end of the year I'll probably do my top ten or fourteen...

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone? 
I just read books that appeal me. Some are more challenging language wise or its hard to get through but I don't feel like I classify the books according to how comfortable I am reading it.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
 If you mean genre-wise then I like magical realism, historical fiction, classics, some contemporary and young adult. Again, I don't understand how is there a reading comfort zone. Just read what you like. 

13. Can you read in the car? 
For the most part. 

14. Favorite place to read?
Honestly everywhere I don't mind as long as nothing distracts me. I like changing the places where I'd read, especially around the house.  

15. What is your policy on book lending? 
That they better return the book.
16. Do you ever dog-ear books? 
I used to do it all the time, now I mostly use bookmarks, I do still do it sometimes.
17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books? 
Yes. Rarely though. 

18. Not even with text books? 
I do.
19. What is your favourite language to read in? 
20. What makes you love a book? 
I wouldn't say there is something in particular. As long as I lose sense of my surrounding and immerse myself into the book, I relate to some extent and beautiful writing wins me over as well.
21. What will inspire you to recommend a book? 
Ones mentioned in the answer above.
22. Favorite genre? 
I'd say magical realism.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)? 
If I wish I did then I just will?   

24. Favourite biography? 
As long as I am interested in the persons biography and its written adequately then I'd like it. I do not have a favorite and I don't read that many.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book? 

26. Favourite cookbook? 
I don't have one, but if any of you got any to recommend then please do. 

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)? 
Extremely Loud Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.

28. Favorite reading snack? 
Coffee/tea and cake.
29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience. 
I really enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars by John Green when I read when it first came out, I still do, but whenever I see the excessive hype it makes me cringe.
30. How often do you agree with critics about a book? 
I don't look up to what the critics say.
31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews? 
As long as I am being completely honest then I don't mind. I think if I had to review a book of an author I'd personally know it would be stressful since I wouldn't want to hurt their feelings. 

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose? 
Russian so I'd read the Russian classics, I think I'd enjoy them more that way. 

35. Favorite Poet? 
I don't read a lot of poetry, but its Ilya Kaminsky. He's absolutely brilliant, check him out. 

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
One or two at a time, sometimes four but not more than that.

37. How often have you returned books to the library unread? 
Not very often. I don't check it out unless I do want to read it.

38. Favorite fictional character? 
I will list a couple I could think of right now, but of course there are more.
  • Fermin Romero from the Shadow of the Wind. 
  • All the characters in Harry Potter honestly.
  • Levi from Fangirl.
  • The mother and father in the Book Thief the ones that adopted Liesel 
  • and Max (my heart still aches)
I think that is enough for now.

39. Favourite fictional villain? 
Professor Umbridge from Harry Potter because she is pure evil. I do not think anyone out there who has read the book doesn't hate her. It is like she demands to be hated.

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading. 
I have no clue. 

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish. 

Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe by 

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading? 

When people speak really loudly around me or to me while I am reading. It gets on my nerve.
44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel? 

I liked The Book Thief, Life of Pi (didn't enjoy the book that much but the movie was really good- I know odd) thats all I can think of right now.
45. Most disappointing film adaptation? 

I can't think of any.
46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time? 

Perhaps around 50 BD (around $133) but that was only once. I usually spend 10-20 BD.
47. How often do you skim a book before reading it? 

I don't. 

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through? 
If I can't seem to enjoy it at all. 

49. Do you like to keep your books organized? 


50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them? 
Keep books. If I didn't enjoy the book they I would probably donate it or give it to someone whom I think would like it. 

Feel free to answer the questions as well in the comment section or some of them, or even post a blog post and post the link below. :-) 

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Cacao Cupcakes and Dutch Waffles

I have been doing a lot of cooking lately. This is turning into a food blog. Just now I emerged out of the kitchen after helping my mum for 2.5 hours because we will have heaps of guests tonight. My mum made a feast. I'm very proud of her. 

I made the soup and salad since easy food is my specialty. The salad is nothing special-It just occurred to me, I will hopefully take pictures of everything and post it. Who doesn't love looking at food? Therefore I will stop talking about what food had been made. You get to peer into the great food my mum puts in my belly. 

A couple of days back I went into the kitchen to make salad and I still had time until we ate. So I decided to make extra chocolaty cupcakes and cake. I had cute mini cake pans that I used as well. I only made a small amount because it was for trial, I wasn't sure how good will it be. The guide recipe is from here. I did add more things so I will list the ingredients.

  • 1 1/2 cup (192 grams) flour
  • 1 cup (201 grams) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon (7 grams) salt
  • 1 teaspoon (2 grams) baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons (43 grams) cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons (90 ml) oil
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla essence or 2 tsp. (2ml) vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 cup (200 ml) water
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 table spoons of coffee
  • as much as you want of the Hershey chocolate chips 
  • as much as you want of butter-scotch chips 
It turned out very delicious and moist. I need to make more soon. I'm glad my sisters have been enjoying my baking as well. I have a few more ideas and inspiration, if they do not turn into an epic failure then stay tuned I will post the recipes. 

  These are the mini cakes from the little pans. 

I also came across the other day those Dutch Waffles, I never knew we had them here in Bahrain. But I spotted some in Caribou and I had to snatch it. If you do not know the best way to eat it, you just make a hot cup of tea or coffee - whatever you prefer - and you pop the waffles on top while its still hot. Then it would melt and you can eat it with you hot drink. yuummm I wish I had one right now.