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chocolateandcroissants has commented on (75) products.

Second Suns: Two Doctors and Their Amazing Quest to Restore Sight and Save Lives by David Oliver Relin
Second Suns: Two Doctors and Their Amazing Quest to Restore Sight and Save Lives

chocolateandcroissants, May 15, 2013

I absolutely loved this story from start to finish. Relin is a great author. I was rather saddened to learn to that amidst all the controversy that surrounded the veracity of Three Cups of Tea he had taken his life this past December. In Second Suns, Relin follows Tabin and Ruit throughout the Himalayas and Africa as they attempt to eradicate preventable blindness. The story of both of these men is an incredible story in itself. Ruit was born in a remote Nepalese village. As a bored little boy who always seemed to be getting into trouble his father hiked for days to take him to the closest school. Tabin is just a likeable eccentric. As a pre-med student he was introduced to mountain climbing and had a difficult time deciding whether attending classes or taking off for his next pitch was more important. Together these men performed cataract surgeries in some of the most remote areas with less than ideal medical conditions.

The book captures the joy of the thousands of patients who have their sight and lives restored. For many of these individuals having limited vision meant being confined to their rooms. There is no room for error on the side of a mountain if one cannot see where to put their foot. It is shameful to think that millions live in darkness when having their vision restored is an easy 10 minute procedure.

The book also focuses on the medical industry and their goal of making money vs. helping others. I recognize that we all need to pay the bills. However I find it despicable that lenses can be made in India and other countries for about $4 vs the cost of having them made in a Western country. In the beginning of Ruit career he trained under an Australian physician who exposed the marked different between medical care to Aborigines vs. whites. He died early from cancer but his dream to have lenses made at a fraction of the cost was fulfilled. Ruit and Tabin attend a conference in Hong Kong where many doctors are only interested in gathering the sag from large pharmaceutical companies and paying attention to devices that will increase their profits. As a keynote speaker Ruit who discusses how the surgery can be done safely and successfully Ruit's audience is a small group of 11 doctors.

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Night Circus

chocolateandcroissants, January 1, 2013

From the first sentence the book grabs you with it's magic and mystic.
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Yes, Chef: A Memoir by Marcus Samuelsson
Yes, Chef: A Memoir

chocolateandcroissants, September 9, 2012

Sometimes you find a book that not only can you not put it done you feel inspired by the book. Inspired by it to tell everyone about it. Inspired to read experts about it to others and inspired to get into your kitchen and cook. I adored Samuelsson's story.

Samuelsson's story is one of those stories that makes you wonder but for an event where his life would be today. Born in Ethiopia, his mother walked him and his sister to a hospital when all three of them were suffering from tuberculosis. At 28 years of age his mother died, but her children had been saved. Believed to have been orphaned Marcus and his sister were adopted by a couple in Sweden. Samuelsson's love for food was nurtured by his grandmother who would roast a chicken every Saturday for a family meal. Samuelsson spent many hours in his grandmother's kitchen first as her little helper and then learning her secrets.

To me it is amazing that his life could have had such a different path had his mum not died. Raised by loving parents, Samuelsson had a strong work ethic instilled in him which carried him through many kitchens. The book tells the story of Samuelsson's time in different kitchens in Europe and NY before he opened his own kitchen.

In the book you learn about Swedish cooking, his approach to food and how Samuelsson discovered new foods and spices as he rollerbladed through NYC. I appreciated Samuelsson's approach to food. In NYC he discovered Kalustyans (an amazing spice shop) and China town. From his travels around the world he would mix the flavors with until he found the perfect fusion. For me it was interesting the way he played with ingredients.

Yes Chef is a delight to read. Samuelsson's determination is infectious. His story is a reminder that dreams do happen.
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How to Eat a Cupcake by Meg Donohue
How to Eat a Cupcake

chocolateandcroissants, May 15, 2012

It only seems fitting that I would read How to Eat a Cupcake as I was on my way to France. The French are apparently obsessed with cupcakes and we are obsessed with their macarons. Why not read a book about the love of baking as I was headed over to the pastry capital of the world. I am proud to say that I gave this book to the front desk clerk at my hotel in Paris and she was delighted by it. You would think that I was giving her freshly baked cupcakes.

How to Eat a Cupcake is a book after my heart. I wanted to be Annie. The book had me wearing an apron, bringing out my kitchen aid and just tasting one batter after another. Okay not really, remember I was in France. I was either reading late at night all tucked in my hotel room or dragging the book out to dinner with me. High on French pastries and wine, laying in a bed in France, what better way to enjoy the book.

(From the author)Free-spirited Annie Quintana and sophisticated Julia St. Clair come from two different worlds. Yet, as the daughter of the St. Clair’s housekeeper, Annie grew up in Julia’s San Francisco mansion and they forged a bond that only two little girls oblivious to class differences could�"until a life-altering betrayal destroyed their friendship.

A decade later, Annie bakes to fill the void left in her heart by her mother’s death and a painful secret jeopardizes Julia's engagement to the man she loves. A chance reunion prompts the unlikely duo to open a cupcakery, but when a mysterious saboteur opens old wounds, they must finally face the truth about their past or risk losing everything.

Seriously the book had a little about friendship, a lot about betrayal and the best descriptions of ingredients that I have read about in a long time. As a young adult Annie is at the St. Clair residence catering a party with her yet to be famous cupcakes. She has not spoken with Julia in many years. After tasting one of her wonderful cupcakes Julia decides to finance a cupcakery for Annie. Opening a cupcakery with the person who was once your closest friend and you feel betrayed you is not an easy task for Annie.

The opportunities it presents to Annie are endless. For once Annie can indulge in the high quality ingredients she has always dreamed of.

I would usually think of a book like this as my fluffy beach read. This book is anything but a fluffy book read. Donahue did a lovely job of developing both the young women's characters. You understood their personalities and the decisions they made.

For me the highlight of the book was the process of both opening the cupcakery and Donahue's descriptions of the cupcakes and their recipes. Throughout the book she had me wanting to be in my kitchen baking alongside Annie.

If How to Eat a Cupcake is any indication of Donohue's talents I hope that she comes out with another book soon, maybe about a woman who runs a chocolate store perhaps.

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More Than Words Can Say by Robert Barclay
More Than Words Can Say

chocolateandcroissants, January 15, 2012

If I had not received an ARC from the publisher William Morrow I more than likely would not have finished reading this book. By the time I finished it, it was not as horrible an experience as I was dreading however there was a lot of skimming of the book. Why? The dialogue was painful. I am not sure if the author had a word quota to be met however he had the characters repeating themselves constantly with a matter of paragraphs. Does he not think that I would notice this. An example of this is when Chelsea's father showed up at the house. Her father is described as the rugged handsome type and then on the next page is another description of him, this time describing how his clothing reflected his good looks. Later in the book when Chelsea met Brandon twice within paragraphs he comments how he wished he met her grandmother.

The relationship between Brandon and Chelsea was also quite out there. Brooke, Chelsea's grandmother left her her cottage and sent her on a mission that she wanted her to do solo. Within hours of meeting Brandon she has him reading her grandmother's diary with her. Call me a cynic, yes love at first sight exists however these two were practically married within a few days of meeting each other. Okay I am slightly exaggerating however you understand my point.

On the positive Brooke would cook during her husband's absence during WW11. Her dishes were named after leaders of the time. She conceived up delightful recipes titled MacArthuroni and Cheese, Eisenhower's Eggs Benedict and Churchill's Cherry and Cream Pie. No there is no recipes for Hitler's Ham or Stalin's Stale Borscht. I thought the recipe idea was rather quaint.
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