Chocolate Heaven | London Cafes

What? SAID DAL 1923

Where? 29 Rathbone Pl, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1JG

If you’re a chocolate obsessed fanatic like me then SAID DAL 1923 is the place to be. Warning: Bring extra tissue wipes because there is a high chance you might leave with chocolate covered fingers and polka dotted stained clothes.

Although London’s SOHO branch is the more popular one, personally I prefer the one on Rathbone Place because it’s almost tucked in a little corner but it’s not so far away from the main street; particularly Oxford Street. Great place to review your latest shopping binge while satisfying your sweet tooth.

The space is a clash between an artisan’s chocolate lab and an industrial factory, like envision a chocolate factory that has been turned into a cafe. The tables are spacious and the staff know what’s what (They automatically add extra tissues on each table without referring back which I find hilarious).

The outside looks rusty and chic but let’s talk food. The cafe displays a range of tempting chocolate goods on it’s windowsills; you’ve got chocolate bars, chocolate spreads, and chocolate covered nuts all placed neatly for you to admire.

You’ve guessed it, chocolate is in everything. All of their coffees are dripped with melted chocolates overflowing the cups into the saucers. You can put chocolate on cakes, cookies, croissants, brownies…anything.

Crumble cake 😍

Highlight: Their cappuccinos are rich and foamy and their topped with chocolate powder. I personally loved the crumble cake with the melted chocolate on top; it had the perfect biscuity crunch to the gooey chocolate.

If you’re a major chocolate fan than go for their chocolate fudge cake, it’s dense but rich.

Available Online: Yes-ish. They do not ship everywhere and last I checked not all stores are open, so check their website for the latest.


What do you think? Have you ever been to SAID DAL 1923?

Chocolate Heaven at SAID DAL 1923 London | NEC Blog @jawahirthebookworm

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Review | ARC : The Gentleman Thief

I would like to thank BookSirens for providing me with the ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

So excited to be reviewing my first book from BookSirens. BookSirens is a cool website where you can sign up and receive ARCs in exchange for an honest review. They have a wide range of genres and books, and they have wicked tools to analyze your reviewer and reader profile! (Want an honest review? Refer to my contact page)

Description Summary: Witty and fast paced, The Gentleman thief features dry sarcastic humor and an island *high* on magic. Think the Shrek movies if they were tailored to adults.

Ahhh crude humor…the best.


Rating | 3.5/5

Book Summary: Skip to Review / Goodreads

Joe Thorne aspires to be a professional thief, sure it’s dishonorable but it does pay more than his current career: chimney sweep. 

The perfect opportunity presents itself when the Duke’s daughter Princess Althea is set to get married and in preparation Joe is recruited to clean out the chimneys. He’s ecstatic because intel from other servants assured him that the princess’s dowry is worth a.lot.of.money. And that money is sitting somewhere in that mansion.

Here’s the catch though: Joe suffers from a “magical” allergy after cleaning out one of those alchemy laboratories with furnaces used to make illegal substances or as Joe puts it “questionable” substances. 

The allergy produces unpredictable results everytime Joe has a sneezing/coughing fit. And that is exactly what happens when Joe manages to steal all of the gold in the dowry but accidentally turns it all into a sack of potatoes. Oh and did I mention he managed to get himself cursed with a rusty coin given to him by the princess?

So cursed Joe (literally) embarks on a disguise mission to lift the curse but soon enough he finds himself in an enchanted island as a fraud knight, and acquainted with a mischievous moving handkerchief, a frog man (or a man turned to a frog?), a beastly bird, and a childhood friend whom he thought he’d never see again.

Oh Joe, what did you get yourself into?

Review

This was a fun and unique book. The humor and tone of this book was hilarious and I loved how the author retold fantasy in her version of it. Gragg’s vision of fantasy is unique and though I am not much into humor in books, the hilarity and absurdity found in the characters and situations in the book can’t help but bring up a chuckle. This is definitely the book that could take you out of your stupor but it does take a bit to get used to till you really get into it.

At the beginning you kind of don’t know what is going on, but then you really get into the story. The story however is absolutely bonkers, do not expect anything to make sense, do not expect anything to be logical. It’s as if the fantasy genre took a psychedelic drug and decided to spew things left and right. I’m not really used to reading stories that don’t have clear structure and enjoying them, but with this it’s different because the insanity and illogical aspect of it all is what makes the book stand out. It doesn’t try hard to create a reasonable path where there shouldn’t be at all.

Gragg’s humor is ultimately what made this book. This is exactly the type of humor I enjoy, and Joe reminded me of a cross between Shrek’s unchangeable personality and Graham’s Norton’s witty banter. He’s an average Joe throughout the whole book it makes him 10x more hilarious. Loved Lydia’s personality as well, and she was Fiona’s to Joe’s Shrek; a strong willed bold woman who is just as funny.

Sometimes I got confused and didn’t know what the hell was going on, and other times things moved too quickly in some scenes I had to reread to get what was going on. 

In the end I thought it was a cute book, something I’d read if I were stuck in an airport and wanted something to cheer me up.

Do I recommend? Yes. 

Pick Your Dream Summer City and I’ll Tell You What to Read

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Not sure what to read but still bummed out about your summer trip? I got you covered 😉


Paris

Paris

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Paris, summer, a bookstore owner who possesses a gift to sense people’s troubles and give them the right book for it is driven out on his own adventure across France that includes an unexpected friendship, a long lost love, and healing a broken heart.

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Singapore

Singapore

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Saucy and scandalous, follow Rachael Choi as she decides to vacation at her boyfriend Nicholas Young’s hometown and meet his parents for summer. Fun right? Except that his family are crazy rich and Rachael’s mother in law well…she’s hell.

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NewYork

New York

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Natasha is not one to fall in love at first sight in fact she isn’t sure if she actually does believe in love at all. Daniel comes from a strict academic asian family, a romantic at heart with a poet’s soul. A chance encounter flings them together and they’re whisked away in this heart wrenching romance in a city that is unpredictable just as it is unmerciful.

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Malibu

Malibu

Beach Read by Emily Henry

Total opposites but acclaimed writers Augustus Everett, who enjoys killing off his cast in his books, and January Andrews, who enjoys finishing up with a happy ending, find themselves beach house neighbors this summer. Well, it’s a guy, and a girl, and one summer…need I say more?

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Edinburgh

Edinburgh

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Prepare to set yourself a time travel adventure when Claire Randall during her second honeymoon after World War II gets transported back in time in yet another war, in the year of 1743 lost somewhere within the Scottish Highlands. Torn between two men, two timelines, and two identities, Claire struggles as she tries to understand the mysterious forces that are at work.

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Naples

Naples

The Godfather by Mario Pruzo

The iconic global phenom gripples with themes of betrayal, honor, family, and greed, The Godfather is one read that will have you transported to the eerie underworld of the Italian Mafia. Far better than being transported to your sofa couch I must say.

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Mumbai

Mumbai

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

The story of hope and survival, Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel from Pondicherry India manages to remarkably survive 227 days lost at sea. Of course he is not alone he is accompanied by a Bengal Tiger…named Richard Parker…?

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Dublin

Dublin

Where the Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahren

Rosie and Alex have always been best friends through thick and thin, but after Alex’s move from Dublin to America the two go their separate ways. Their connection brings them back together and Rosie can’t help but think “What if”?

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I choose “…” as my dream summer city, what’s yours? https://jawahirthebookworm.com/2020/07/07/pick-your-dream-summer-city-and-ill-tell-you-what-to-read/

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Review | ARC : Golden Arm


I received this ARC when I visited YALC (Young Adult’s Literature Convention) last summer in London. Of course since I have magnificent eyesight and an even better memory *said with dripping sarcasm* I haven’t noticed that it’s an ARC and I assumed it was just a free giveaway, then I stored it somewhere in the bookshelf and kind of forgot about it….

But I got my hands on it, and I’m ecstatic that I discovered this YA book!

It absolutely sucks that I can’t find the star ratings on WordPress, it looked aesthetically pleasing…how annoying. I’m using my usual Goodreads scoring out of 5 till I figure out what’s going on. (Want an honest review? Refer to my contact page)



Description Summary | A riveting underdog tale that doesn’t fall for the hallmark victory movies that you got repeated. It will leave your heart soaring and your fists pounding as you follow Laz’s personal journey to victory.

Rating | 4.5 / 5


Book Summary (Skip to Review) / (Goodreads)


”Half-brothers, but full team-mates”

Laz Weathers and Antonio Driver are brothers that are as different as they can be: Laz is not great with his academics mainly due to his learning disability, while Antonio was a straight A student. Laz was shy and awkward while Antonio was the life of the party. Laz’s first instinct is to shut down and run, Antonio would be gearing up for a fight.

Though they shared a bond through baseball. Baseball was everything to Laz, it came to him like breathing air and moving muscle. Like how flying came to birds and swimming came to fish; it was nature’s calling to him.

Having shined as a star pitcher on his broken down high school North Central, his baseball coach pitched in a good word for him to the glitzy and rich highschool across town: Laurelhurst High. Laurelhurst High had one of the best teams in Seattle, and after making it through tryouts Laz can’t believe the opportunities that had opened up to him.

However, the family faces a setback when a multimillion corporation decides to tear down their trailer park.


Mr.Thurman, father to star player of the team Ian Thurman, offers to house Laz at his home for the duration of his high school year since he’s made to the team and they’re counting on Laz to get them the state championship especially since Laurelhurst lost three years in a row. Laz is thrown in a whirlwind where he becomes from nobody to star pitcher of acclaimed Laurelhurst high school. With fame comes it’s trials and challenges, and Laz must try to prove to himself and to everyone that this poor kid from a ramshackle trailer park with a learning disability deserves his worth.

But just as Laz is going up, Antonio starts mixing with the wrong crowd getting involved with drugs and gangs. Laz is in a tough spot to protect the closest person to him in this world and trying to secure the position of a lifetime.

Review

This is one of the most important YA books.

I repeat.

This is one of the most important YA books.

The story is just fantastic, Deuker’s writing is gripping and had me glued to the spine of the book watching and reading every move our MC is going to do. Speaking of the MC, Laz Weathers is possibly one of my fav YA characters out there. And I love that Deuker portrayed an MC with a disability (stuttering and learning disabilities in this case) in the way that he did. Laz’s disabilities did not prevent him from dreaming and dreaming big, nor does his background or run down neighbourhood presents as an obstacle to him.

I think a lot of teens and young adults would really benefit from reading something like this, a coming of age story with ups and downs, where not everyone wins and life may seem unfair but you get by and by getting by you realize that that is a personal victory all on its own.

Story
The story was perfect. The plot solid. It has a clear timeline and you think you know how everything is going to go, but then the Deuker makes a sharp twist and you’re kept thinking “what if”. The sense of hope remained throughout the whole story till the very end; a true underdog tale through and through. I loved how he did not go with the typical “white savior complex” trope where a wealthy white family “saves” a poor kid from his “dangerous” neighbourhood…even though most likely their son/daughter are buying drugs from these same “dangerous” people.

Writing Style
I really loved the way this book was written, the writing style was smooth like river water. Deuker wrote the baseball matches in a way that even to me someone who never watched baseball in their entire life managed to hold her breath anticipating the home runs and the strikeouts.

Setting
The setting and landscape was believable (not Riverdale basically…). The sense of place was greatly defined by the author and you can tell how the state of fields that Laz played on got better in quality by how descriptive the author got on the state of surroundings. Little things like how fine cut that green grass was or how worn out that leather glove is may seem unimportant but it delivers a more visual picture to the reader.

Highlights
Laz is my favorite thing from this book. I swear when he reached the state championship all for THAT to happen, I was crying like a mother who watched her son get rejected from his dream university. But then at the end of the book THAT happened and this time my eyes were bawling.

Here’s where it lost a bit for me: The secondary characters and their relationships with the MC.

I wish there more in depth exploration about Ian; I want to know why is his relationship with his dad the way it is? What got him doing the things he did? How did he feel about Laz moving in? Does baseball matter that much to him or is it his father’s dream? I really wanted to hear more about his POVs.

I also wish there were chapters about Antonio’s POVs; What compelled him to mix in with the “wrong crowd”? What did he think of Laz and his progress? What did he think of Curtis? We only heard Laz’s side of the story but I think Antonio’s side could have proven a strong point in the narrative of the story.

Finally I didn’t really get Suja and her relationship with Laz. She was more like his secretary or assistant than a friend. She’s kinda a pushover, not gonna lie I didn’t like her that much. Then there’s snarky Pop Vereen, man do I have some words for him.

Do I recommend? Yes! 10/10

Libreria Bookstore | Secret London

What? Libreria Bookstore

Where? 65 Hanbury St, London, E1 5JP

Type: Independent / Selected

Highlight: Staff Picks

Courtesy of Libreria’s Instagram (@librerialondon)

Libreria bookstore is possibly one of London’s best kept secrets, if I could describe Liberia anything it would be either Aladdin’s Cave of wonders or Ariel’s undersea grotto of prized treasures.

The architecture and layout of the space deserves praise on its own. The slender shelves with books and books nestled in corners or lain across horizontally seem at first to extend to no end. On and in between artsy lamps hang from them to cast some light to the space and on the books (no squinting needed!). Hidden in plain sight are reading nooks you can rest in comfortably while browsing peacefully.

They have their own curated playlist which plays softly in the store; it’s lo-fi funk music if you would call it a “type”. Something chill with a bit of spunk.

Image showcasing a reading spot in the bookstore

The store is set in East London, an area brimming with art, free expression, and creativity. Libereria reflects that in the choice of books it offers. As they state in their website: “Browsing in our bookshop is a world away from the narrow algorithmic recommendations of Amazon.com.” Pretty cool and fits right up my alley, if you’re looking for diverse books or hidden gems this is definitely the place to go.

Photo from Unsplash

Books Bought

Both of my two books were staff picks, and I commend the store for having knowledgable friendly staff with such interesting reading preferences. It’s always great to discuss books and discover new favorites by trying out to read something out of your “norm”. Staff picks are usually indicated with a board or a paper next to the book picked, then it would have the name of person, reason of choosing this book.

I ended up getting The Order of Time, by Carlo Rovelli. Interesting read but the physics parts drove me crazy a bit. My other book was Talking to my Daughter by Yanis Varoufakis. This is was really intriguing and thought provoking. You can read my review here for Rovelli’s book and my review here for Yanis’s book.

With every book purchase you get a bookmark curtesy of the store itself AND a stamp on each book! (it looks gorgeous and it’s done with one of those wooden old school stamps, the kind you dip in ink first).

Availability Online? Yes they do have a website and if you request any delivers you can email them hello@libreria.io.

They also have a bookclub with the hashtag #LibreriaBookClub, every once in a while they’ll announce a meeting to discuss the book virtually. So it’s super cool of them to have this during quarantine, it’s a great way to stay connected with customers and bring in new comers too!

What do you think? Have you ever been to Libreria?

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Review | Classics : The Prophet by Khalil Gibran

After reflection I’ve decided to do things differently for my book reviews here in my blog. So for my book reviews, I’ve decided to upload a different post on my blog than on Goodreads. If you’re interested in following consistent reviews of the books I’m reading just head to my Goodreads, and click that Follow button! 🙂

The books that I will be discussing on my blog are works that are significant to me personally, hidden gems, and all of my ARC reviews. I would like this part of the blog to be light with a selected posts for you to perouse with ease, and in between I’ll add some of the more fun posts like music playlists and book moods. 

Well since we’re done with that, I wanted to speak about one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. I’m sure you’ve heard of the book and/or the author. Gibran is one of the few writers out there who were unproblematic and who mainly kept to himself. The fact that he arrived as an immigrant in America not speaking any English, only for him to flourish in the arts and later write one of the most important books in the last decades. I love that he took pride of his Lebanese heritage and his Arabic language. I think as an Arab myself, I tend to forget how beautiful my language can sound and look like, mind bending in it’s complexity but fragrant in its sweet sounds.

Young Gibran photographed by Fred Holland Day
Portrait of Gibran, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Description Summary: A timeless classic that speaks to the essence of what it is to be human through beautiful poetic pieces in the form of Gibran’s melancholic writing.

Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Review

The reason why I love this book very much is that it’s so timeless. Gibran wrote this in a way as a blacksmith engraves words onto metal or stone; always there never eroding. I love how the book was split and the order of the topics being introduced ending with Death (quite fitting).

This is definitely something you can read in an hour or two but the words stick with you and you end up thinking about a lot of things in life differently. This is one of those books that will change you and influence you, and I think that is precisely what great books should accomplish.

This definitely hit close to home and there are verses after I’ve read them I had to put the book down and take a breather. My personal favorite is the Children’s poem. I don’t think his style will suit everyone and probably not everyone will get The Prophet, but those who do I think they’ll find this highly enjoyable.

Of course this wouldn’t be complete without mentioning some of my favorite quotes of the book!, check it out here.


Have you ever read this? What’s your fav work/quote of Gibran?

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Top 14 Quotes | The Prophet by Khalil Gibran

Khalil Gibran is easily referred to one of the most prominent literature figures in history. His unique sense of writing combined with artistic flair enabled him to write one of the most iconic poetry works in decades : The Prophet.

Here are my top quotes of one of my favorite literary works, enjoy! (All images are social media friendly so go ahead post and share 🙂 )

My favorite quote of Khalil Gibran is… | NEC Blog @jawahirthebookworm

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Review | ARC : Honeymoon Alone

Description Summary: A sweet and heart warming rom-com set in a generic winter themed setting. Think Katherine Heigl rom-com movies.

I would like to thank Sandra Lopez for providing me with a free copy in exchange for my honest review. If you are interested in a review refer to my contact page here.

Yeppp those movies.


Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Book Summary (It does not include any spoilers, it is just a more comprehensive synopsis for those interested.) Skip to Review

Lucy Gray is maybe the most reliable person you could meet (No really she got Most Reliable in her high school yearbook). She has a nice job as an elementary teacher which she loves, a home to come back to where her lazy cat Ricky lounges all day long, and a family that she knows she’ll always have their backs. She’s consistent in every way possible.

After being made a humiliating spectacle in her sister’s wedding, embarrassed Lucy decides to test her fate with a psychic reading. Feeling enamoured by the strange meeting she just had, an unbelievable opportunity arrives when her sister forgets to cancel her original honeymoon stay in London before flying off to the Mediterranean. Lucy then and there decides to take the psychic’s advice and pursue the “signs” she was getting. 

She buys a plane ticket and with the help of her best friend Mary, they track down a past high school acquaintance Cary Stewart, who’s currently residing in London and is insanely attractive *wink, to help show Lucy around town…ahem maybe even more…?

The hotel it turns out accepts only Honeymooners, so Cary and Lucy make a deal. They pretend to be married in order to not blow Lucy’s cover and get her kicked out of the hotel. Though once there she faces serious, rude, and awkward Oliver from the concierge desk who can’t help but step into her business. 

Lucy is about to experience the holiday of a lifetime.

Review

I am just a girl who enjoys her share of rom coms and hallmark books and movies…immensely. Sometimes I just need the most cheesiest books (more cheese than a four cheese stuffed pizza) to get me by and bring a bit of lightness to my life and take a break from my usual darker fascinations.

I remember being first presented the synopsis of the book and reading the title Honeymoon Alone I was hoping this wasn’t a classic trope of the MC who “discovers her husband is an asshole” at the beginning of the movie and then decides to vacation on her own. Turns it wasn’t. Great!

Contrary to some reviews who made mention that the story was not engaging I have to disagree, this totally felt like an escapist read and the heroine Lucy is someone who I feel I relate to. Yes some parts were bonkers and others quirky but that is what makes a chic lit book the way it is; it’s supposed to be absurd but heavily romantic.

I’m delighted to say that this was an easy read, the story was warm and light (it gave you all of those wintery feels like a walk through Winter Wonderland) in addition to it being poignantly funny and sweet thanks to Macaulay’s writing style and likable characters.

This book is an equivalent to warm hot cocoa and fluffy wool blankets. The story is well written and it puts a smile on your face. I liked the twist with how things went with Cary and Lucy, it’s not your classic “pretend to be in love than actually fall in love” trope. rHowever at some parts of the story I did feel some transitions or events were rushed. I think is true for the last 15% of the book, a lot of plot lines abruptly started to come together rather quickly for my liking.

I loved the characters, they were really great and you can tell that even though they fall in the “Hallmark” catalogue of characters, each had a distinct personality and I really got invested on how their endings were going to be. They’re not too “normal” to the point that they’re basic but I liked the little quirks about them.

I think Macaulay does a great job of making you care about them and laugh with them and celebrate with them. I loved the banter between Lucy and Oliver. You can tell that although Oliver had been a nuisance at the beginning he was the only one who could’ve sparked up the sassy and witty side of Lucy. And it’s cute as a reader to read between the lines and see this relationship being developed into something more. Throughout, the book had a lively sense of humour and Lucy reminded me so much of Emilia Clark. I literally cannot picture anyone else playing her in a movie, specifically the Emilia Clark from Me Before You. I could see this book being made into a major film that could potentially be a “winter romance” classic like The Family Stone

To conclude I thought this was a lovely book that was utterly cheesy yet romantic which gave me all the snuggly wintery feels.

Do I recommend? Yes if you’re into all things sweet and sugar.

Music for Books: The Count of Monte Cristo

So I always envision certain playlists that go with the mood and “vibe” of a book or hear some songs and I can’t help but think: “This song was made for Character X”.

It’s really cool to pick and match songs to a book or envision if a character was present in our current time who would their favorite artists/bands be? And to what genre would they most likely listen to?

And so every once and a while I’ll be creating curated playlists for a book or a fictional character for you guys to listen to and enjoy!

Today’s playlist is curated by Edmond Dantes aka The Count of Monte Cristo, I’ll leave the typing to him now so he can guide you through it! (Caution! Spoilers are present)

Mesdames et messieurs, it is a pleasure to have this opportunity to relinquish my sorrows and the woes of my heart to that divine pleasure we all enjoy: Music.
I come now as Edmond Dantes not the Count not Sinbad the Sailor not the Abbe Busoni. I come as that one   and nineteen year old boy who once felt as if the    heavens itself opened up before him. 
"Diable"! How much life has changed...
Nevertheless, today's sheet of music (playlist as you call it) is defined by the following keywords:
Gritty . Dark . Grunge (what a peculiar genre I must say) 

AfraidThe Neighbourhood | After I left M. Villifort’s office (How naive I was!)

Listen Before I goBillie Eilish | When my heart seized to believe in life and my eyes forgot how the sun felt on my skin whilst in prison.

Bury a FriendBillie Eilish | The moment realization struck me senselessly that my “friends” betrayed me!

Pumped Up KicksFoster The People | When I procured the promised treasure of Faria deep within the grottos of Monte Cristo.

Up in FlamesSam Tinnesz ft Maggie Eckford | Mercy has left my heart and my plan of revenge was in execution.

ControlHalsey | The song I imagine listening to when my alter ego The Count of Monte Cristo came to life.

Lunchbox FriendsMelanie Martinez | The song that represents my friendship to Maximillian; how morbidly amusing!

Hard Feelings/ LovelessLorde | The song that depicts the perished love of mine and Mercedes’s. You never forget your first love.

Let it HappenTame Impala | When Mercy slithered into my cold heart once more and I did not know if I should see my revenge to the end.

Daddy IssuesThe Neighborhood | The strange and sad feeling that I share with Haydee whom I started to fall in love with.

Thanks for tuning in folks! Any other recommendations for Edmond to listen to?

Have a listen to my sheet of music…I mean playlist, sincerely Edmond Dantes, The Count of Monte Cristo. | NEC Blog @jawahirthebookworm