A few weeks ago, my friend and fellow author, Keri Beevis, asked me to join the Chocolate Bar Challenge Blog Tour. Having never done a blog tour, I didn't know what to expect. But the topic was chocolate. And books. As the former owner of a gourmet gift basket company and a confessed chocoholic, I have plenty of experience with chocolate. As an avid reader and writer I have plenty of experience with books. So it seemed only natural to participate and of course I would do almost anything for Keri Beevis.
Keri is the UK author of the thrilling Rebecca Angel series. I've read book one, Dead Letter Day as well as book two, Dead Write and I have the utmost respect for Keri as an author. Though we've never met in person, she has become a friend - an author who is always the first to support her fellow authors and someone who can make me laugh out loud every day. To learn more about Keri, visit her website at keribeevis.com.
It was surprisingly difficult to narrow down my favourite books but even more difficult to choose the chocolate bars I like best. But here we go:
1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
I read this book a few months ago and 'The Help' has become one of my favourites. Set in the 1960s in Jackson Mississipi, the story is told from the perspective of three women:
Abilean is an African-American maid who cleans houses and cares for the young children of white families.
Minny is Aibilean's confrontational friend who frequently tells her employers what she thinks of them, resulting in her having been fired nineteen times.
Skeeter has always dreamed of being a writer and is the daughter of a prominent white family who employs African-Americans in their fields as well as their household.
As Skeeter becomes a young woman, she realizes African-American employees are treated very differently from the way white employees are treated. She becomes increasingly uncomfortable with the way the African-American maids are treated by their white employers as these very same employers are Skeeter's 'friends'. Skeeter's write instincts take over and she decides to expose the world to the deplorable way the maids are treated. After much cajoling, she persuades Aibilean, Minny and many other maids to tell their story. The book, entitled 'Help' is a collaboration of the privileged Skeeter and the struggling, exploited 'coloured' help. Once the story is published, Aibilean in particular, blossoms and leaves her job as a maid for a new life, hoping to follow in Skeeter's footsteps and become a writer herself.
I chose Lowney's Cherry Blossom. When you unwrap the cherry blossom, it is an unassuming chocolate mound. But when you bite into it, there is a surprisingly, beautiful maraschino cherry hidden within, just waiting to be exposed.
2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
I chose Reese's Peanut Butter Cups as they are a 'one-of-a-kind taste experience' and have long since been a favourite of our entire family. As with any of the Harry Potter books, once you have tried them, they are with you forever and it's very hard to stop thinking about them.
3. The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
I received the boxed set of The Chronicles of Narnia when I was about nine years old from my favourite aunt and uncle. It was a heavy read but I persevered and proceeded to eat, sleep and breathe Narnia for months. In 1940 four siblings - Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy - are sent from London to escape The Blitz to live in the countryside. During a game of hide and seek, Lucy climbs into a wardrobe and discovers it is a magical forest in a land called Narnia. The White Witch rules Narnia and has cast a spell that renders the land forever cloaked in winter. With the help of a talking lion named Aslan and many other talking animals, the four children conquer the witch and are crowned Kings and Queens of Narnia. Fifteen years later, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, find their way back through the wardrobe and are suddenly children again as almost no time has passed.
I chose Cadbury Crunchie because this sponge toffee, chocolate-covered bar has been my favourite chocolate bar since I was a child and the magical land of Narnia remains a favourite for me today. Crunchie was initially launched in the UK back in the 1930s and the author, C.S. Lewis, was born and lived his life in the UK.
4. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
This story, narrated in the first person as an autobiographical memoir told by the horse named Black Beauty, had a huge affect on me as a young child. Beginning with Black Beauty's carefree days as a colt on an English farm with his mother, to his difficult life pulling cabs in London, the story finally leads to his happy retirement in the country. Along the way, he meets with many hardships and recounts many tales of cruelty and kindness. The story always related to the kindness, sympathy, and understanding treatment of horses and it is this that stayed with me.
I chose Hershey’s Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate Bar because it is a special blend of rich, velvety dark chocolate and that is how I perceived Black Beauty - dark, velvety and beautiful.
5. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Twenty years ago I read this larger-than-life story and fell in love with the series and the characters. Claire Randall, the strong protagonist, became a hero of sorts to me. In 1945, Claire, a former combat nurse in England, comes back from the war and reunites with her husband on a second honeymoon. When she touches a boulder in an ancient stone circle, she's catapulted back in time to Scotland,1743. It's here that James Fraser, a young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire is torn between her husband in the past and her husband in the present.
I chose Cadbury's Mr. Big because it is the largest sized chocolate bar Cadbury produces. It is made of a long, layered vanilla wafer, coated in caramel, peanuts and rice crisps, which is then covered in the chocolate coating. It's full of flavour and there's nothing like it. A Mr. Big bar is the length of two "standard"-sized bars and Ms. Gabaldon's books are double the size of standard books as well.
6. Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder
As a child, I adored this series. The book revolves around a young girl, Laura Ingalls and the Ingalls family and their time spent on the prairies of Kansas during the late nineteenth century. At the beginning of this story, Pa Ingalls decides to sell the house in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, and move the family, by covered wagon to Independence, Kansas. The story follows the life of Laura, along with Pa and Ma, Mary, and baby Carrie and the hardships they encounter along the way. Later the book was made into a television series and I never missed an episode.
I chose Nestle Kit Kat, a chocolate-covered wafer biscuit bar, because it was introduced in 1935, the same year Little House on the Prairie was published. The book is a feel-good comforting story that’s been around for years and Kit Kat is a staple chocolate bar that has stood the test of time.
Thank you to the incomparable Keri Beevis for including me in this delectable tour. Now I will hand over the reins to a gentleman who has helped me immensely over the past year and to a lovely lady whom I've just recently met.
Andrew Ives is originally from London but now resides in France. He is the author of several science fiction thrillers, including Sirene, Parallax, Psinapse and Oblique. I know from experience that he gives each of his characters a quirkiness and depth that bring them to life. His writing is technical, educational and flawless and I had the pleasure of reading his creation, Sirene, last year. You can learn more about Andrew from his interview with Keri Beevis at http://keribeevis.com/interview-with-andrew-ives-author-of-oblique/. Andrew will be sharing his Chocolate Bar Challenge on his Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/AndrewIvesAuthor
AFE Smith is a fantasy author whose first novel, Darkhaven, is due to be released by Harper Voyager Digital this summer. Reflections of Reality is where AFE blogs regularly. I was sold by her fantastic post on strong women. She is also the creator of many short stories and an all round interesting person. You can join AFE on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAFESmith and enjoy her ramblings on her website/blog at http://www.afesmith.com/
Now I am off to devour a bag of salty chips to counteract the effects of the chocolate I've been consuming for days. Happy reading and writing everyone!