October 25, 2016

Bookstore Tour #4 - La Central del Raval

During my first few weeks in Barcelona, I was a little bit down and a lot lonely because life just wasn't going the way I wanted to in the Friends department (as in I had zero friends when everyone else seemed to flock together instantly), so I walked around a lot. I think I've mentioned here on the blog that one of my favourite haunts here is Plaza Catalunya that is connected to both the Gothic Quarter and El Raval, so I used to spend time tiring myself out going in and out of different streets aimlessly. 

On one of my peace-hunting walks one day I found La Central, which is apparently the best bookstore in Barcelona. The place certainly feels like it. I spent an hour that day perusing titles on the shelves and wishing I was fluent in Spanish and/or Catalan so that I could read and understand the literature. 

Yesterday was my third visit to La Central, and I still fell in love with it like I did the first time. The bookstore has three floors and also a basement floor (so four floors, Lisa? yes; but I didn't go down the basement because nobody went down the basement and I didn't want to look weird lmao). 

Without further ado, here's a spam of photos I took inside a piece of heaven:

I'm still giggling over the fact that Mateo the Cat changed into Baltasar the Cat in Catalan. I compared the two books and they are exactly the same, so I have no idea why they changed the name of the cat when they translated it into Catalan. Pity the books are like 15 Euros each or I would have bought them both (why is children lit so expensive, man). 

I love this place. 

Que vagi bé,

October 24, 2016

Bookstore Tour #3 - Hibernian

Is there anything more wonderful than the existence of secondhand bookstores?

Granted, I didn't go to many secondhand bookstores back in Kuala Lumpur. In fact, I'm not so sure if one existed? There should be one in Pasar Seni, my friend mentioned it a few years ago, but I rarely ventured to that area so I cannot confirm if it still exists. 

Anyway, I'm very selective of the genres of my reading material. Well, selective isn't the correct word to use, I guess. My preferred genres are very limited. I used to read a lot of Young Adult (YA) and New Adult (NA) when I first started reading obsessively 5-6 years ago. As I grew older, my reading preference shifted to Adult, specifically Contemporary Romance (CR). 

Now most of the books I read are CR with a splatter of YA and NA here and there and so far the bookstores I went to in Barcelona did not really cater to my preference, but I enjoy lurking between the shelves nonetheless. 

I visited Hibernian last Wednesday after my Catalan class. It's located in the neighbourhood of Gracia. I didn't plan any trips because it was raining that day but it wasn't for a change when I got out of class so--impromptu trip! Hibernian is moderate in size and filled to the brim with English books it's just so heavenly. As usual, it has a vast selection in general fiction as well as crime, mystery/thriller, and classics. They have a huge section of classics that I forgot to snap pictures of because I was too busy gawking.

The couple in my photos were looking for a specific David Baldacci book (there are tons of his work here) and they were also looking to trade books (THEY TRADE BOOKS HERE?!) for some titles my eavesdropping ass didn't really catch. I almost picked up a couple of classics myself but then I remembered that I have a medium sized container full of classic titles still unread back home so I reluctantly put them back and walked out. 

My mother should be proud. 

Fins aviat!

October 23, 2016

ARC Review | Who's That Girl? by Mhairi McFarlane

Who's that Girl?
by Mhairi McFarlane
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Adult, Chick Lit, Contemporary Romance
Source: Edelweiss
Rating: ★★
Release Date: September 6th, 2016
When Edie is caught in a compromising position at her colleagues’ wedding, all the blame falls on her – turns out that personal popularity in the office is not that different from your schooldays. Shamed online and ostracised by everyone she knows, Edie’s forced to take an extended sabbatical – ghostwriting an autobiography for hot new acting talent, Elliot Owen. Easy, right? Wrong. Banished back to her hometown of Nottingham, Edie is not only dealing with a man who probably hasn’t heard the word ‘no’ in a decade, but also suffering an excruciating regression to her teenage years as she moves back in with her widowed father and judgy, layabout sister. When the world is asking who you are, it’s hard not to question yourself. Who’s that girl? Edie is ready to find out.

Disclaimer: Quotes taken from ARC; might differ from published book.

My first Mhairi book was You Had Me At Hello that I read three years ago. I remember being utterly charmed by her writing, which is the main reason why I requested this book apart from the blurb. 

Things I Like

So we have our heroine, Edie Thompson, who found herself stuck in a narrative she didn't ask for after an asshat of a colleague kissed her on his wedding day and they got caught by the bride. 

What. A. Mess. Right?

When I first met Edie, I was immediately taken with her. There is something about Edie that feels so relatable to me. I think it's the fact that she's a mess, haha. I love that she didn't have it together despite her age (something I can also relate). I empathize with her a lot; the things she went through in this book are just distressing. The online bullying she got after the Incident stressed both Edie and me out, but I admire her quiet resilience. I would have...I don't know, lost it. 

There are a lot of life lessons in this story, and I feel like I'm learning with Edie too. One of my favourite highlighted quotes in this book:

You won't find someone who treats you as you should be treated until you start to believe you are worth the ones you want, the ones who aren't asking you to do any work. Find the man who appreciates you at your best, not one who confirms your worst suspicions about yourself.

The romance in this book is very nicely developed. It didn't take up the majority of the story, and it wasn't a panacea for Edie's storyline. I adore Elliot and Edie together; Elliot's very easy to like although he should work on his communication skills, the idiot.

There is a line by Elliot that made me laugh like mad when I read it. The context is that he was telling Edie what he admired most about her and it made her cry and he went, "Edie...why are you crying, you spoon?". I just lost it, you guys, I don't know why I found that line so hilarious. 

Things I Don't Like

...nothing much, really? I screeched a bit at the ending because...ugh. I'm considering asking Mhairi for a bonus scene, just a small scene, of what happened after the last line. It was a perfect ending, don't get me wrong, but just...ugh. I want more.

Overall, it's such an entertaining story. Edie grew a lot by the end of the story with the help of Elliot, her neighbour Margot, and her true support system Hannah and Nick. What I get from this is that it's never too late to turn your life around, to discover new things about yourself and that, to quote Elliot, those who know you better, know better.

October 22, 2016

Bookstore Tour #2 - Gigamesh

Hola, com va això? 

I went to another bookstore on the list on Tuesday. It's called Gigamesh, and it's on Calle es Bailén, also in Eixample. I know that neighbourhood because I've been to Arc de Triomfe and Parc de la Ciutedella before, so the bookstore was an easy find. 

But before that, I found this place on my walk:

I was pretty excited because a library

Alas, when I went inside, there was a lady standing in front of the entrance to the biblioteca, speaking to a man who was also planning to go in. From the gist of it, they were holding a private event or something and the man retreated. When I asked (more like hollered from the ground because you had to climb up a grand staircase to the entrance) if it was closed today, the lady replied in rapid Spanish that I couldn't understand so I was like "Ah, vale," and zoomed back out. 

I should go again sometime to check it out.

Also, I found this gem:

The store is huge, me gusta
Alas, no sweet soy sauce.
If you're following me on Instagram then you're probably aware of how I'm still looking for sweet soy sauce. I still regret not bringing any sauces from home because it's so hard to find substitutes here. I've tried three soy sauces but they're all meh so I threw them out. 

My cooking experience is really affected by this. I miss my mom's fully-stocked kitchen. 

*wipes sole tear* 


Yes, English paperbacks

This is also one of the best bookstores I've been to because it's filled with pop culture stuff, albeit in a different language. They also have a wide selection of English books, and even their Young Adult section is pretty amazing. 

Shadow of Night, and The Book of Life photobombing in the background
The Young Elites
I wish I had enough money to buy foreign editions of my faves. I only reserve that for Melina Marchetta--I'd do anything for Melina Marchetta. Speaking of, I finally finished Tell the Truth Shame the Devil today and I'm dead inside.

Until next time, fins ara!