Recipe: Brownie Chocolate Chip Cookies and Eid Eats

brownie chocolate chip cookies

Hello friends!

Today I’m participating in an online Eid party, hosted by the lovely Sarah at Flour and Spice and Asiya at Chocolate and Chillies. Several weeks ago Sarah emailed me to ask if I would like to join in the virtual Eid party she was hosting online, and I said yes right away!

Ever since I joined the blogging world, I have seen so many Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Valentine’s Day, etc. virtual parties, but nothing about Ramadan or Eid in the blogging world. So when I got the email from Sarah about her Eid Eats party, I was pretty stoked!

final-eid-eats

Growing up, Eid ul-Fitr was my favourite day of the whole year. Even more than my birthday (not a fan of being the centre of attention -_-), I loved the feeling of Eid and the excitement in the last few days of Ramadan that led up to it.

When I was a kid, my mom had this tradition that she would do every Eid and it makes me so nostalgic just thinking about it. Every Eid, my mom would go shopping for us, and buy us little bits and bobs like chocolate, board games, clothes, gift cards, etc. The night before Eid, she would wrap them up and put the gift bag at the foot of our bed. I have so many wonderful memories waking up at the crack of dawn, excitedly, to see the gift bag at the foot of my bed, and running to my brothers’ rooms to see what they got.

brownie chocolate chip cookies

And even though it’s been several years since my mom’s done this for my brothers and I, I still get that same sense of excitement waking up the morning of Eid, even though there are no presents at the foot of my bed. :P Now it’s more about the feeling of blessings and reward that comes from fasting all month long and celebrating all that you have accomplished all month.

Every year, my mom makes these certain cookies that are only made on Eid. That’s her tradition. My tradition is to make reverse chocolate chip cookies, or it has been for the past few years, and I love the fact that it’s become an Eid tradition for me.

brownie chocolate chip cookies

I made these cookies about a month ago now but the memory of them still makes my mouth water (especially since i’m fasting!). I’ve made reverse inside-out chocolate chip cookies before, but the chocolate flavour on these cookies is quite extreme. They’re so rich they taste like brownies- in cookie form!

These cookies take a bit of time to prepare, especially because of the chilling of the dough, but it’s so worth it! They’re perfect for a special occasion, like Eid! Have a look! (more…)

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Dreamer, not Doer

There is a problem, you see
With having too many dreams

The sky is alight with birds and planes
But you are down below, with too many thoughts in your brain

They are boulders in your pockets, birds in your head
They weigh you down, and never let you get ahead

One was enough, two is more than many
But three or four or more become too heavy

You spend your days asking yourself
Where should I begin, and doing nothing else

Your to-do lists have to-do lists
They begin, but cease to finish

You begin one, and then another
For you are a dreamer, not a doer

There is a problem, you see
With having too many dreams

They buzz and crowd around your eyes
Blinding the road ahead, like wasps and flies

So all you see are fanciful, whimsical what-ifs
As the world passes you by, ever so quick

You could turn those wishes true
If you choose not to dream, but do

But the fear holds those wishes
Holds them until they diminish

Until those lofty birds turn into tiny fireflies
As their light flickers and dies

And you find that life was not an adventure
Because you were a dreamer, and not a doer

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Meeting Morgan Rhodes

For those of you who follow me on instagram, you might already have seen a preview of this post. But I’m here to tell you exactly how I met Morgan Rhodes, bestselling author of the Falling Kingdom series!

About 2 weeks ago, I was sitting in the backroom at work on my phone when I saw that I had a new Twitter notification.

I opened up my Twitter feed and saw these two messages:

meeting morgan rhodes

Before I tell you about how I started jumping up and down and told the nearest person about this (a girl who happened to be a fellow teen book fan), let me back up and tell you my previous interaction with Morgan Rhodes.

When I first read Falling Kingdoms, almost 2 years ago now, I tweeted about it and Morgan found the tweet and thanked me for my review. I continued to love the book and proceeded to put a staff-pick sticker on it because I loved it so much.

Not long after that, she posted a picture on her instagram of my staff pick sticker on her book!

meeting morgan rhodes

I proceeded to fangirl because I couldn’t believe a) that Morgan Rhodes had been to my store; and b) had taken a picture of my staff pick sticker! I responded back to her on Facebook and Instagram, telling her how cool it was that she had visited my store and seen my staff pick sticker.

Fast forward to 2 weeks ago when I saw that message from her on Twitter. Now, I haven’t met very many authors before. In fact, I’ve only ever been to one author signing (Sarah Dessen) years ago, but suffice it to say, authors are pretty much my version of celebrities. I could care less about Brad or Angelina, but an author sighting or interaction gets me pretty excited. So I was kinda over the moon when I realised that Morgan Rhodes wanted to give me an advance reader copy of her book!

So I responded right away, we tried to set on a date when I was working (even though I told her I could come in any time, since I lived closer- overeager much? lol), but didn’t actually get to meet until last Sunday.

I was on pins and needles the whole shift, waiting to be paged by one of the cashiers, as I wrapped gifts in the kids section and helped people find books. And then finally she was here!

I have no idea what we talked about, I was pretty much a blubbering fool. I thanked her profusely for coming in, got her to sign the copies of her books we had in store, took a picture, and thanked her again for the ARC.

meeting morgan rhodes

meeting morgan rhodes

I haven’t yet started the third book in the series, Gathering Darkness (it comes out officially in December), but am so excited to as soon as I finish my current reads! Thank you Morgan for coming in and giving me a copy! :)

Thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

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The Lack of Coloured People in Teen Fiction

So I just recently finished reading a teen book on beauty and how young girls are pressured to look a certain way. It was a great topic for a book and the author made some interesting points about the way girls from such a young age are forced into this particular mindset. But after finishing it, I realised that there wasn’t a single coloured girl in the 8 character narrative. Not one.

And this may not seem like such a big deal, but it is is, especially when colour and beauty have such close ties. Think about: what colour are we constantly told is the most beautiful? What colour do we see in the media the most?

I know the lack of coloured people in teen fiction is a topic that many book bloggers and Youtubers have already addressed, but I wanted to add my opinion to the fray. Because I think this needs to change. Now.

Yes, there are more books coming out in the teen genre with coloured characters and it’s great. But it’s sad that whenever they do come, it’s such a big deal and needs to be applauded. This should have been happening all along. I know there are exceptions to this rule, but again, the inclusion of coloured people in books shouldn’t be an exception; it should be a regular thing.

Because these are the books that so many young girls and boys read, and so what kind of message is the publishing world sending to youth if they can’t even see themselves in the pages of the books they read? A lot of work is being done about this in the education sector, especially of Ontario, and through my practical training as a teacher, I have seen some great changes happening in classrooms as curriculum is being changed to ensure that everyone gets included. And that’s wonderful.

But I’m not talking about the books that teens and pre-teens read because they’re forced to in school. I’m talking about the books that are bestsellers, the books that get made into movies, the books that become part of a canon. The books that teens love.

As someone who has been reading teen fiction for years (and still does), the lack of coloured people in what I read has affected me deeply, especially as a writer.

Up until very recently, my brain automatically created and wrote about white characters. I’m not white. But it had been ingrained into me so deeply that no one would want to read about a coloured character (unless the story was about that character’s interaction with their culture, which is usually what stories with coloured characters are usually about). I didn’t see any coloured characters in my favourite books. And if I did, they were on the periphery and didn’t even matter. If I wanted to write books that would be published, books that would make it big, books that people would love, the characters would have to be white.

I began writing my first novel at the age of 10. Every character that I wrote from the age of 10 to 22 was white. I just couldn’t imagine anything else.

A lot of things happened at 22 that made me change the way I thought and they made me realise my own prejudices. It was then that I began realising what I had been doing for years and began questioning myself. It was then that I changed the way I thought about my characters.

This is how deeply I was affected while reading books without coloured characters while growing up. And now that I’m an adult, I worry about the girls and boys that are growing up in the same circumstances, because to be honest, I don’t notice much difference.

So I call for a change in teen fiction. We need more diverse characters that represent the faces of the boys and girls that actually read them. Because none of us are cookie-cutter, flat, two-dimensional characters, so why do we have to read about them?

While my stories may or may not get published anytime soon, I hope to see the inclusion of coloured characters in teen fiction regardless. Because it’s vital that teens growing up today see themselves in the books they read.

Thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

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Review: The Queen of the Tearling

queen of the tearling reviewPrincess Kelsea Raleigh has grown up in a small cottage on the outskirts of her kingdom her whole life, sheltered by her foster parents after the murder of her mother. But at 19, Kelsea is taken by the Queen’s Guard, who arrives on her doorstep to return her to her throne.

And so Kelsea begins the perilous journey back to her kingdom, a journey that is fraught with surprise attacks and tests. But when Kelsea returns to the capital , she discovers that her Uncle, the Regent of the Tearling, has been slowly destroying her kingdom and that her people live in daily fear of an invasion from the deadly Red Queen.

Thrown into a world where people look to her for guidance, where enemies linger everywhere, and where an invasion by a queen possessed by the darkest magic lingers on the horizon, Kelsea struggles to become Queen of the Tearling. (more…)

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