The Chocolate Thief– A “Delicious” book with “Chocolate” romance

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Author’s Name: Laura Florand

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Before I write this review, let me tell you that this is one book I’ve read five times. First time was in June when I mentioned it in one of my musings. But since it was the part of a series, I wanted to finish the series first before writing the review.

There are books which can make one flutter with the romantic tension, and then there are books which can make one crave the chocolate, romance, characters and the story. This is one such book. Normally, when I’m reading I don’t even like to get up for water. This is the only book which, during the process of reading itself, made me go out in a chocolate cafe to sample some goodness described in the story. The story was so descriptive that I had to be in the fragrance described in the book.

Summary:

Paris

Breathtakingly beautiful, the City of Light seduces the senses, its cobbled streets thrumming with possibility. For American Cade Corey, it’s a dream come true, if only she can get one infuriating French chocolatier to sign on the dotted line…

Chocolate

Melting, yielding yet firm, exotic, its secrets are intimately known to Sylvain Marquis. But turn them over to a brash American waving a fistful of dollars? Jamais Not unless there’s something much more delectable on the table…

Stolen Pleasure

Whether confections taken from a locked shop or kisses in the dark, is there anything sweeter?

This is the story of Cade who is the heir of Corey chocolates sold everywhere in the world. She comes to Paris in order to convince a chocolatier to endorse her premium chocolate line. Sylvian was her obvious choice as he was best in business, but when he looks at her horrified by the idea of branding the “Corey” chocolates as his, things go afire.

It’s a story of romance which kicks one like chocolate punch.

What I Liked:

1) Descriptions/Imagery/Writing: I don’t know what to call it. I should name it witchery as the language of the story bewitched me and like a book-machine took me inside the pages of the story. Absolutely delightful and engaging. An Example for you people:

All around her, the sorcerer lurked, in every darkest shadow. He was not there, of course. Logic told her he was home asleep. But logic had little to do with the feel of him. He was here. She felt him here. Watching her explore his lair – his eyes gleaming in the shadows.

One more:

The spice jars felt cold and round under her hand. Hot chocolate should have a touch of vanilla, fresh from Tahiti. A stick of cinnamon from Sri Lanka. Nutmeg from . . . Zanzibar? She hoped it was. In her opinion, every life should have something in it that came from Zanzibar.

I’m not sure these lines can make you feel the words or not, but they do transport me back into the book.

2) Paris: I have never been to Paris, but if somebody ask me where should a romance story be set up, I’ll go for two cities–Paris and Venice(Or maybe Scotland). But seriously Paris tops the list.  But the books brought the city alive. It brought those charms to forefront. One more example:

Outside, Paris put on darkness the way her women dressed for excitement – a black dress sliding over skin, something glittering in its threads. Paris pulled black net stockings over her elegant lines, added high-heeled black boots to click against pavement. Buildings lit in strings of jewels – an earring here, a bracelet there, and a shimmer of something over the skin, a dusting of glitter.

Cade stood at the window, watching that glittering, promising night through that cursed pane of glass. She watched it until it got tired of itself, until the jewels started to come back off, tossed carelessly on a bedside table – lights in apartments going out, heels stripping off, sore feet tucked under the covers.

3) Chocolate: And here’s where I can’t give examples. I never thought that chocolate making can be such a mesmerizing/arousing hobby. I never imagined that the description of the taste of chocolate can make me “tingle”. The author lured me in with the chocolate in title and made me the ardent follower with the description of the taste.

I am well aware that all the three points can be covered in single heading, but then it won’t do justice to the book. I liked everything about the book.

Final Thoughts

The book is a chicklit. You’ll find many who’ll say that such silly stories don’t deserve five stars, but my idea of judging the book is about how it made me feel, how much it was able to take me away from this world. This book did that and hence it deserves the five stars.

Warning for the prospective readers: You’ll crave chocolate after reading the book. So, keep the stash nearby.

Five Stars

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Tikuli’s Collection of Chaos– A Book Club Poetry Review

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Blurb:

(From the foreword by Kris Saknussemm) As with all the poets I most admire, words are living things for Tikuli. But as you will come to discover, they are never deployed for their own sake. She uses them to tell stories. The images, scenes, characters and fragments of visionary empathy that you will find in this book are all rooted in her native India-and yet they reach out far beyond national and cultural boundaries. They do so because they have an interior cohesion of spirit.

Her subjects are often the dispossessed, the lost…the abused. There are undercurrents of sorrow and anger. And yet love shines through, even when it seems to be fading away. Above all, there’s a powerful sense of hope at work-a conviction in the redemptive strength of poetry.

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My Thoughts

By now, you must be aware about my love for poetry. I might miss a novel, but I never leave a chance to read the poetry.  When I came across this book, I was interested in it by the cover of the book (it’s so pretty!) and the title. Anybody who can write about chaos deserves a chance as per me. So, I sat with this book, moving its virtual pages, visiting the stark reality of the emotions poet has captured in those pages. The first thing that stood out for me was that none of the poem in the book has titles. It feels as if the poet didn’t want to burden these poems with the few titles. For me, it worked as it kept the mystery of the coming poem intact.

What I liked: 
The subject: These poems talk about the themes like child abuse, those mad women seen on the street, war victims, a mob-stoned woman etc. It’s not easy to do justice to such subjects especially in poetry, but those poem don’t hesitate in expressing themselves.
Raw Emotions: The poetry captures the rawness of the emotions quite well. It pulled me into the verses and made me see those scenes through the poet’s eyes.
One of my favorite poem was about adultery(I just am crazy to like this topic.) Read the following verse and see if you cannot see the scene with your eyes:
I catch your fragrance
each time he twirls
a glass of wine sensuously
and raises it to his lips.
You are there in the smile
that starts at his mouth
and twinkles in his eyes

You are there in the mirror
he uses to take a last glance
before leaving the house
and in the first rays
of the morning sun
that caress his body
as he sleeps

Often I wonder—if
the nights we spend together
match the magic of those
he spends with you—if
the fire of his passion
kindles you and sends
sparks of love into the air?
I can see how he made love
to you in his controlling way—
he tries that with me
I feel his passion
his readiness to devour
my ample form—
I feel it reaching a crescendo

And then diminish
as his craving grows—
his need for your passion
for your body
as I lie next to him
consumed in my turn by
his memories of you

What I disliked 
Repetition of ideas: This is a very common problem when we’re working on short poetry. The book has many poems on silence and conversations. I agree with the poet on these two being the most versatile subjects, meaning that both these things can mean so much, yet nothing; but after three-four poems, it started feeling repetitive to me.
Abrupt Last Line: Poetry is such a subjective thing. Each person sees different things in poems. To me, the poems felt ending abruptly. As in they started very nicely, weaving up the emotions, lining up the scene, and then out of blue, they’ll end.
Last but not the least: I feel the price of the book is too high. Although I got a complementary soft copy, I don’t think people are ready to spend somewhere around Rs 1000 for poetry.

About the Author:

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Brought up in Delhi in a family of liberal educationists Tikuli is a mother of two sons. She is also a blogger and author. Some

of her short stories and poems have appeared in print and in online journals and literary magazines including Le Zaparougue, MiCROW 8, Troubadour21, The Smoking Book (Poets Wear Prada Press, US), The Enchanting Verses Literary Review, Mnemosyne Literary Journal, Women’s Web. Some of her print publications include poems in Guntur National Poetry Festival Anthology and much acclaimed Chicken Soup For The Indian Romantic Soul(Westland). Her work has also been featured on websites related to gender issues and child sexual abuse.

She blogs at

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Where Even the Present is Ancient: Benaras (A Book Club Review)


Summary

Where Even the Present is Ancient: Benaras is a book that seeks to tell the little stories that make us who we are. The author believes that Benaras resides in all of us Indians, in some beautiful often-unknown way. The author is the Sutradhar, in that she attempts to connect an India that many do not realize exists, in that it is everybody’s story. Radha, Krishna, Ganga, Benaras and Me are all characters in this deluge of poems.

This attempt at telling the story of the ancient, of love and of faith is to instil the confidence that poetry exists in all of us, everywhere, all that is needed is to smell its fragrance.

To those outside India, the book does not seek to be a representation of what India is or was, but a whiff of what it also can be. It is an attempt to ask people to see the little stories that govern all of our lives, stories that we often don’t see, but those that are important.

The audience for this book might be strewn across the globe, for faith is not religion-centric, it is people- centric and often without dimensions.

In poetry there is no beginning, no middle, nor no end. Like faith it is everywhere, it is omnipresent. The book affords no answers, nor no questions, but if you listen and read carefully you will see new things, a new beauty perhaps, one that has been silent so long.

 

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My Thoughts
Poetry is the sublime power which can show the stark truth in few strokes. This book is collection of such poetry. The book is inspired from Benaras or Varanasi, and mostly is the juxtaposition of life and the scenes of Benaras. But it’s not merely the story of experiences of the poet in Benaras; it’s the acceptance of many facts and lies we speak about life. Poet has captured the moments she saw and her understanding is reflected in these verses. As she says in her first poem:
Sometimes Benaras seems like a poem,
A long lost one, at that.I see it from a distance,
Walking across time and space,
On the edge of tomorrow
painted in history.Stories hovering in time,
Lost somehow in the lanes
And hovering as if
Just beyond the surface.

I am a Hindu, but then there are many things which make me question the traditions we follow. The poet, at times, seem to be similarly perplexed by those rituals (or maybe it was just my interpretation of the words fueled by my own confusion.) while at other moments, she was completely satisfied to bow to these rituals.

Like in poem ‘To Vishvanath’, these simple four lines capture the crowd vying for entering a temple. I haven’t been to Kashi Vishvanath temple (or Benaras), but then this crowd is one of the reasons I haven’t.
‘Vishvanath’ I had come
your doors were closed however-
With people, full of you
and yet themselves.
Another line which describes Hindu rituals so well is:
Divinity is cheap, I think
And so is living-
It is only the dying and the dead,
That become priceless.
I think my favorite lines in the poem were which describes the face of “religious” places like Benaras:
In Benaras,
you open a gate,
a God pops out.
You touch a wall, a God stares back,
nameless, faceless,
Orange and passionate.
The poet has traveled and captured Benaras at all moments, 1:30 a.m., 3:00 a.m.,5:00 a.m. She has captured myriads of emotions as well: death, religion, love, heartbreak, poverty, contentment; all of them beaded with the thread of Ganga.
What I loved

I loved that author hasn’t shied away from the reality of the place. She hasn’t tried to glamorize the place or show only the positive points. She has shown the place as she saw it– sometimes a solace, sometimes a pain.

What I didn’t like

 The poems have descriptions in the end to explain the meaning of Hindi words used. Although the meanings indicated are correct, I don’t think they are sufficient for somebody who doesn’t know anything about these rituals/customs/traditions to understand the poem. Since I’m aware about all these things, I could get what exactly the poet is saying, but not everybody will get all the poems.
Overall Opinion
 These poems touches the heart and leave one wanting to read them once more. It’s a thin book of only 78 pages, but you’ll want to read these 78 pages again and again

About the Author 

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Maitreyee B Chowdhury is a web columnist and creative writer. She is author of Reflections on My India, a book of Indian traditions and spirituality in parts. Maitreyee is also author of Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen- Bengali Cinema’s First Couple and Ichhe Holo Tai, a bilingual muti media presentation of poetry. Maitreyee is featured amongst other Indian writers such as Gulzar, Shashi Tharoor and Deepti Naval in an anthology of Indian writers Celebrating India.

 

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Turquoise Silence- A Book Club Review


Turquoise Silence by Sanober Khan



A disclaimer: This book is a part of a blog tour conducted by The Book Club and all the reviews are done in exchange of a copy of the book from the publisher or author. No monetary trasaction takes place.


 

 

The Blurb
The book is a collection of free verse poems that encapsulate the poet’s most heartfelt emotions about life. They speak of moments that sweep our breath away, of beauty that bewitches the heart, of people, memories, sights, sounds and smells that awaken a sense of wonder and wistfulness. With rich metaphors and eloquently flowing imagery, the poet’s love for the simple things in life unfolds in different moods and tones, ultimately ending up in words felt, cherished, concieved and written… in turquoise silence.
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What I liked
Although writing poetry is an art achieved by a lot of practice, poetry for me is foray into the emotions.  This book helped me delve into the lines and moments of poet’s life.  The book starts with a poem called “Poetry In My Heart”.
When poetry
finds my heart

I am suddenly
the empress of the world

I sleep as a rock
and wake up as a mountain

I pause as a seed
and burst into silk floss trees

I stream through silence
ripple into whispers, and swell into a song

And these were the lines which entranced me into reading through the silence of the books.  The book then moves on to capture the beauty of moon and then moves on to fill the cup with overwhelming moments of the poet’s life. The book took me to a journey of the lonely nights of the poet, and some nights when she was blessed to see the beauty of nature around. I couldn’t help but smile when she expressed her joy in the poem called “Greetings”

I could greet you, my dear
with a huge, cupcake smile on my face

with butterfly flutters, in my hair
and summer clouds, in my arms

with presents and gifts,
and a lemonade kiss,
for your lips,

i could arrange for the whole city…to rejoice
in the festival…of your return,
with a heaven-spun feast

or i could greet you…. with a shriek

loud and excited enough, to interrupt…
the blissful wheeling of the seagulls

But among all the gems spread in the book, my utter favorite was “The Rain at 4 AM”. The book actually captured what I have felt many mornings when the rain drummed on my window. She says:

It’s different
the rain at 4 am
purer…
somehow
more tender-hearted.

I read these lines again and again to feel that difference. Isn’t it so true, so beautiful an explanation of tender rain. She goes on to explain how this rain is different and ends the lines with:

i’ve actually always preferred
the rain…as it is right now,
silently musical, at 4 am
unleashed,
yet restrained,

when I am more than content
to stay curled in bed,
as much as I’d love…
to lap up the rain

because some things,
sometimes

aren’t ours to hold,

but just beautiful
to listen to.

These lines left me with the feeling of that bliss, that calm joy of serenading rain. I can go on and give many more examples of what touched me in the poem, but I really don’t want to quote the whole book here. I’ll leave the rest for you to explore. 🙂

What I didn’t like

There was nothing in the book I didn’t like, although I wish for more variety. I love the freedom of free verse, but then I also enjoy the restricted rhythm of the form poetry which was missing. But it’s not the shortcoming of the book; it’s more like my thirst to read more of the poems.

Final Thoughts

Like most of the poetry, the book left me with the feeling of humbleness and gratitude. It touched me like an old friend, and few of the lines (like those mentioned above) decided to stay with me forever. In short, I loved it.

Meet the Poet
 
Writing poetry is a very different, mystical experience. There is no plot, no storyline, no characters…just a stage set for you and your own deepest self. When I wrote my first poem six years ago, I never imagined it would someday become such an important aspect of my life.
 I have always loved poetry for the creative freedom it offers, the minimal rules, its ability to elevate even the most ordinary moments. At the end of each poem I write, it feels as though I have not just evolved in my style, but also as a person.  My work first appeared in Cyberwit’s international journal, the Taj Mahal Review, which paved the way for me to getting two books published.
I have long been inspired by poets like Khalil Gibran, Rumi, Rabindranath Tagore ,Rolf Jacobsen, E.E Cummings, and John Keats. A voracious reader myself, I enjoy reading poetry and novels from around the globe.
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