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The book is full of illustrations, real-life accounts, hilarious anecdotes and even recipes for delicious chocolate delights. With wit and charm, Linamen discusses difficult issues that women face and offers new insights on dealing with the problems. Some of the stories are so inspirational they could touch even the hardest heart. Other stories are so comical you'll find yourself laughing until tears run The Chocolate Diaries is a book of secrets for a sweeter journey on the rocky road of life.

Other stories are so comical you'll find yourself laughing until tears run down your cheeks. The book is both heartwarming and eye-opening. I am a huge fan of Karen Scalf Linamen and own most of her books. From what I see of her in her work, we are kindred spirits. We're both a little kooky, and neither of us are afraid to admit that sometimes life is not what we expected.

Nevertheless, God is good and faithful, which is a theme carried out through each of Linamen's books that and chocolate, which is just another way we are kindred spirits. When I discovered the opportunity to review Linamen's new book, I was thrilled. I couldn't wait to delve into its pages. It has been a difficult month, and I knew that if anyone could make me laugh through my tears, it was she. I was not disappointed. In fact, at one point, I was laughing so hard that my husband couldn't help but ask what in the world was so funny.

I was laughing too hard to tell him. The Bible says, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine," and I can tell you it's true. The Chocolate Diaries was exactly what I needed at this point in my life. I needed to be uplifted and encouraged. I needed to laugh. I needed to be reminded that while my troubles look big, I am blessed and have a very good life.

I needed the reminder to look up. Can a book do all that? Yes, my friend, it can. Whether you're feeling down or just need a good laugh, I highly recommend getting a copy of The Chocolate Diaries. I guarantee you will not regret it! I received this book as part of the Blogging for Books program hosted by Waterbrook Multnomah.

The opinions expressed are my own. What an amazing book! This book contains some great advise, presented in a very fun way. And the author talks about chocolate -- a lot! How yummy is that? Linamen has a great sense of humor and I think I would love to be her friend - she would be so much fun. Some of her chapter titles and her words of wisdom at the beginning of the chapters are a hoot. Check these out and if these don't make you want to read this book, I don't know what will.

It makes everything sweeter and can help two people stick together. What a recipe for healing! Throw in some chocolate and there's a good chance you could fix the world. That way, you'll always get one thing done. I will especially follow that final words of wisdom tidbit - it makes sense to me! There are also some great recipes and ideas for enjoying chocolate throughout the book - bonus!! I really enjoyed this book and got some great advice but not in a 'preachy' kind of way.

It did give me some things to think about. I loved her writing so much I am going to check out some of her other books. Linamen can help me in other aspects of my life. Apr 22, Jeanna rated it really liked it. Right out the gate, I will say this was a really refreshing and enjoyable book to read. It is a terrific, easy to read self-help book that covers a lot of areas and had great recipes for chocolate! Every chapter was creatively written. I particularly enjoyed hearing the little story about the Starbuck drive thru and paying for the coffee for the person behi Right out the gate, I will say this was a really refreshing and enjoyable book to read.

I particularly enjoyed hearing the little story about the Starbuck drive thru and paying for the coffee for the person behind you. I belong to a moms group and I want to add it to our newsletter so others can enjoy the pick me ups, because we know all moms could use a little pick me up! After reading a sentence that she referred to a previous book, I felt like I was jumping into the middle of a series. I have not read any previous books from this author, so I then felt like I missed a little morsel of something. But that is my only negative. Again, loved the book and great tips in all sorts of places.

I have my little sticky notes stuck to a bunch of pages for reference in the future. Feb 22, Cheryl Malandrinos rated it it was amazing. What I like about this book is that the author wastes no time in getting to her theme: Her daughters play a significant role in this book, so that it opens with her fifteen-year-old daughter cooking in the kitchen at 3 a.

I liked that aspect because so much of a mom's life is her children, it made sense. The author quickly moves from Kacie to how watching the Food Network has a show that What I like about this book is that the author wastes no time in getting to her theme: The author quickly moves from Kacie to how watching the Food Network has a show that best represents her life too. In between the moving narrative, each chapter has the same question posed to and answered by a different person.

Every chapter ends with a "Food for Thought" section that includes questions. The format of The Chocolate Diaries works well because it provides the reader other people's perspectives on how to handle the challenges they face, while giving them time to reflect at the end of each chapter, and the reward of a quick and easy recipe.

As Linamen states within the book, misery and food--namely chocolate--have a long history, so it makes sense to blend them together. This faith-based inspirational read will make you smile. It will probably even make you chuckle. Most importantly, it will help you devise a plan for surviving and thriving despite the bumps in the road. Jul 02, Amanda rated it it was amazing Shelves: Chocolate makes everything better. In The Chocolate Diaries: In this well-written mixture of humor, disappointment, and encouragement, Linamen manages to tell her story in such a way that makes you laugh out loud just as you were about to start crying.

And it's a book about chocolate; really, how can you go wrong? With such wisdom as "Whe Chocolate makes everything better. With such wisdom as "When you need a quicker picker-upper, you can reach for a paper towel or chocolate. Chocolate may taste better, but paper towels provide more dietary fiber. Tough choice, I know," and "Every morning, put eating chocolate at the top of your to-do list.

That way, you'll always get one thing done," thrown in with encouraging Bible verses and yummy chocolate recipes, this book is a winner. If you're not a cook, don't let the recipes throw you off. There is some cooking involved in some of them, but others are as easy as, I'm paraphrasing "pour some coconut in a bowl, cover with chocolate syrup, sprinkle with almonds, and enjoy your very own Almond Joy," and "grab a spoonful of peanut butter, add mini chocolate chips Aug 01, C. Thomas rated it liked it Shelves: Ladies, if you are looking for that perfect gift for a BFF, look no further.

This part self-help, part memoir would make a great gift. This would be a helpful and encouraging book to those going through divorce, depression and physical challenges. The only disappointing part was the lack of really ooey-gooey chocolate recipes. I don't know why I expected a cookbook, self-advice book but something about the title had me flipping through looking for a "Better than Sex" Chocolate Cake.

It was a new Ladies, if you are looking for that perfect gift for a BFF, look no further. It was a new kind of book for me. While I do love nonfiction, I had never delved into the self-help bucket before. In the beginning, I felt like I didn't really need the help-to-self advice but I really enjoyed reading the author's stories.

She has a very funny and engaging style that will appeal to a lot of different kinds of readers.

Each chapter tells a little more about the author and how she overcame personal obstacles, mostly having to do with men and heartbreak. Interspersed are motivational stories from her blog and other interviews from readers and fans. After I started reading, I realized that many of the stories and advice really did run pretty close to home.

We all have our ow personal difficulties and seeing how another person totally made the same mistakes I did made me feel better. Jun 25, Jessica rated it liked it. The only reason I picked up this book was because I really liked the cover and I got it for free from the publisher WaterBrook. I had no idea it was about how to be happier in life and enjoy living. This being said, this book was just okay for me. I enjoyed the stories of other people that I could connect with, especially the chapter on why journaling makes you happier, but the rest I felt was rambling.

I felt like the author said the same things over and over and when she had examples from her The only reason I picked up this book was because I really liked the cover and I got it for free from the publisher WaterBrook. I felt like the author said the same things over and over and when she had examples from her own life, some were vague and very jumpy from different times. If she's writing a book about how to be happy, the she should be able to tell the details of her own life that went wrong so we know we can listen to her!

I felt like she left out some personal stuff that would have filled in the gaps of some of her stories. And I felt like the chocolate aspect was just thrown in there because she likes it. Most times, there is nothing that has to do with chocolate and she would just ad in, oh, and eat some chocolate to feel happy! Since I'm not that big of a fan of nonfiction or self-help books, The Chocolate Diaries didn't really do it for me. Maybe I'm just the wrong audience, but as a whole this book just wasn't all that great. Jul 13, Kathy rated it really liked it.

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What I just love about Karen Linamen is that she subscribes to the belief that anything can be made better with chocolate! And she is so right. She has written over a dozen self help books that are both humorous and enlightening. She writes a blog called "Wit and Wellness" located here: She also has a website: Both are What I just love about Karen Linamen is that she subscribes to the belief that anything can be made better with chocolate!

Both are worth taking a look at! The Chocolate Diaries is a collection of fifteen tales of women's journeys on the rough roads of life and how they coped with these issues. Coping mechanisms included prayer, confidence, friendships and of course the healing powers of chocolate. This is a delightful book that would be perfect to pair with a box of chocolates and give to a friend going through a rough time.

It is a great read and I found it to be very inspirational. I also loved the little recipe tips for quick chocolate fixes. This book would be suitable to give to both Christian and non-Christian friends. It is suitable for non-Christian friends as it is a subtle way to introduce the love of the Lord into their lives. I highly recommend this delightful book. Aug 17, Elle rated it really liked it. A Good fix for the Ups and Downs of Life Linamen has sculpted a book of the stories of everyday women like you and me and the ups and downs that are faced on a daily basis.

The Chocolate Diaries is full of anecdotes and chocolate that bring laughter and tears, occasionally at the same time. Each chapter brings little pick me ups and how everyday readers handle times of stress. Linamen has crafted a story full of the sweet and bitter moments in life.

This book was enjoyable, reading about the liv A Good fix for the Ups and Downs of Life Linamen has sculpted a book of the stories of everyday women like you and me and the ups and downs that are faced on a daily basis. This book was enjoyable, reading about the lives of real people and the ways some women have learned to cope with stress and to find laughter in otherwise dreary situations.

Each chapter also brings along delicious recipes for when those chocolate cravings hit.

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Every chocolate lover will appreciate this book! I received this book complimentary from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group through their reviewer exchange program. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. This review is solely mine. Apr 23, Cafelilybookreviews rated it really liked it. If you consider yourself a connoisseur of all things chocolate, you must get yourself a copy of this book!

Karen Scalf Linamen takes readers on a delicious journey that includes encouragement, food for thought and recipes guaranteed to make your mouth water. The book is written in an e If you consider yourself a connoisseur of all things chocolate, you must get yourself a copy of this book! The book is written in an easy to read conversational style and stresses the importance of faith and a relationship with Jesus Christ. Good luck reading this book and not finding yourself hungry or craving something sinful like a Ghiradelli brownie! Just make sure to include some gourmet chocolates along with this sweet read!

Dec 27, Christy Hovey rated it it was amazing. If you are looking for a light hearted, fun and humorous girlie read, with lots of practical advice, this book is for you! The author interweaves her life experiences with her love of chocolate, mixed with encouraging stories of other women overcoming life's obstacles. This book is highly entertaining, and the author immediately draws you in with stories of her daily struggles as a divorced, single working mom trying to navigate hilariously through life. Each chapter ends with a recipe for mak If you are looking for a light hearted, fun and humorous girlie read, with lots of practical advice, this book is for you!

From the Twin Bing to the Idaho Spud, the Valomilk to the Abba-Zaba, and discontinued bars such as the Caravelle, Marathon, and Choco-Lite, Almond A self-professed candyfreak, Steve Almond set out in search of a much-loved candy from his childhood and found himself on a tour of the small candy companies that are persevering in a marketplace where big corporations dominate. From the Twin Bing to the Idaho Spud, the Valomilk to the Abba-Zaba, and discontinued bars such as the Caravelle, Marathon, and Choco-Lite, Almond uncovers a trove of singular candy bars made by unsung heroes working in old-fashioned factories to produce something they love.

And in true candyfreak fashion, Almond lusciously describes the rich tastes that he has loved since childhood and continues to crave today. Steve Almond has written a comic but ultimately bittersweet story of how he grew up on candy-and how, for better and worse, the candy industry has grown up, too. Candyfreak is the delicious story of one man's lifelong obsession with candy and his quest to discover its origins in America. Paperback , pages. Published April 1st by Harvest Books first published ALA Alex Award To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

To ask other readers questions about Candyfreak , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Apr 04, RandomAnthony rated it liked it. From the book, page sixteen: Candyfreak provides way too much candy-metaphor fodder for the weak-hearted reviewer.

So I will not resist. This book functions both as tribute to the small businessman and candyfetish pornography. The spirit of invention lives in these factory owners as well; when they talk about product development they sound insane, honestly, in the best way possible, as if they can taste the new candy before they produce the first sample.

Almond stumbles a little when he stereotypes small town living sir, I defy you to get on a Greyhound bus anywhere, even in your precious Boston, and find anything different than you describe. And candy bars that look like potatoes sound cool. I want one right now. View all 9 comments. Aug 29, Michael rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Skip to the sweet shop with my girlfriend, Sandy. Got my pennies saved. I'm her Hume Cronyn, she my Jessica Tandy. I need candy, any kind will do Don't care if it's nutritious or FDA approved. It's gonna make me spaz like bobcats on booze The cover blurb calls the author "the Dave Eggers of food writing" He comes off more like the Anthony Bourdain of candy writing!

This book is terribly enjoyable, and yes, it made me go buy candy, although Safeway's candy selection is pretty pathetic. Walgreen's at least provided me with Reese's Elvis-themed peanut-butter and banana cups. The best parts about the book, though, apart from laughing out loud at some of Almond's turns-of-phrase, were the moments when he evoked my own memories of lost childhood 'freak' moments. I can still recall the smell of Coulson's Pharmacy in Lewiston and the comics arrayed on a low shelf by the entrance.

The sounds of the old now gone video arcades of the early 80's. The panoply of GI Joe figures at the local Gold Circle and the quest to track down each one, well before the days of thirtysomething toy collectors. These are the things that shaped my life, just like candy shaped Almond's life. These things are golden, never to return, always cherished. View all 64 comments. May 22, Tama Filipas rated it really liked it. Super interesting story of the small guys in the candy biz and where they've mostly all gone, gobbled up by the big guys.

I wanted to search out some of the old school candy bars, and did find some, though it wasn't easy. Made me think back to my tiny hometown and the local chocolate shop that was on Main Street, at the base of West Hill. Where did they go? I have a vague memory of going there on a class field trip at some point in elementa I laughed SO HARD during the first half of this book. I have a vague memory of going there on a class field trip at some point in elementary school while they were in the midst of making thousands of chocolate creations for Easter.

Where have all those little businesses gone? Sep 23, Jill rated it really liked it Shelves: Goo-Goo Clusters, Snickers, Valomilks, and Big Hunk bars all alongside ample doses of liberal guilt, childhood neglect, failure to commit emotionally in relationships, and a dooming fear of failure! As you will learn, in the early s, the candy bar had its heyday.

Across America thousands of provincial factories were pumping out regional candy bars. Years pass, a couple of world wars break out, and the zany, homegrown candy industry, like so many other industries, sublimates into three international conglomerates: Local stores are swallowed up everyday by corporations. But Almond recognizes that candy is special. We have a more intimate relationship to candy than most products. Maybe your mom always bought you a certain treat if you were good during grocery shopping or maybe your grandparents could always be depended on having a certain chocolate goodie in a bowl on their kitchen table when you came to visit.

Candy is simply about pleasure. So candy memories are tight little balls of happiness mixed with nostalgia and thus, according to Almond, worth preserving. Almond embarks on an American roadtrip stopping at small, family-owned candy factories that have somehow managed to stay in business and continue serving their regional delicacies that have charmed for generations. View all 5 comments.

May 12, Malbadeen rated it it was amazing. Steve Almond is deep passion veiled as giddy enthusiasm. I can't help but to think that in general Steve Almond makes you me feel deeper. And he frequently does that while making me laugh! I love you so much Steve Almond. I would never admit that. Before reading this book, I had never heard of Valomilk candy bars.

Now I must have one, thanks to the description by author Steve Almond. But here, inside my mouth, it was finally dawning on me: The chocolate in the Valomilk was transcendent; I would go so far as to call it velvety. The process to make the Valomilk is itself, antiquated. In a day and age when candy is mass produ Before reading this book, I had never heard of Valomilk candy bars.

In a day and age when candy is mass produced with little flavour and an obsession with corn syrup, the Valomilk stands alone. Pure cane sugar is used, rather than beet sugar. Bourbon vanilla, grown exclusively on Madagascar, is used instead of artificial vanilla, as with other products.

The marshmallow is hand-made with pan-dried egg whites instead of spray-dried egg whites. Everything is then mixed, by hand, into a snow-white meringue. The chocolate itself is tempered by hand. This is almost unthinkably impractical - the rough equivalent of GM casting their bolts by hand. When did the devil come? Excuse me, John Betjeman, for using your poetry to describe the decline of the candy bar, but it is appropriate.

As with any product that can be mass produced, the quality is so yucky that I haven't eaten a candy bar in a long time. The years fall off and find me walking back When you grow up in an immigrant family that doesn't have much surplus money, the attainment of a candy bar is something to behold.

What to do, how to choose? I remember candy bars being bigger and tasting better. By the time I hit my teens, the bars had shrunk and the taste had changed. Then Big Chocolate took over, dominating the checkout stands and candy aisles. Throw in Wal-Mart and its dominance of America, where only mass-produced items can make it to a consumer's hands, and one has the almost complete obliteration of old-style candy. There's more, such as the company that still makes Idaho Spuds and the splendiferous Owyhee Butter Toffee.

Let me say this about Owyhee Butter Toffee: As the author notes, some of the straggling regional candymakers are still known to their small fan bases, but for the rest of us, these are only found in souvenir shops when travelling the backroads. I still prefer See's Candy to all others, as it was what every San Franciscan craved, but now I am going to check some of the retro candy onliners to see what they carry and to try some taste tests.

Steve Almond made this a very enjoyable read, not least because we both dislike coconut in candy. His passion for his childhood love comes through as does his worry that the big corporations aren't just ruining our physical environment but also our environment of memories. Support your local candymaker. View all 8 comments. Jul 16, Jon rated it liked it. There are definite five-star sections within this book.

The author travels around the U. These are great parts. It is a real eye-opener to hear that in the early 20th century there were over American candy companies and now there are only or so. The rise of the "Big Three" of Nestle, Hershey and Mars has made it nearly impossible for any other manufacturers to get their products into stores. Reading these parts There are definite five-star sections within this book. Reading these parts of the book filled me with an urge to "buy local", as much as that is possible with candy, and support a dying tradition.

My problems with "Candyfreak" are the author's autobiographical interludes. These are straight one-star confessions of how awful his life has been professor at BYU -- boo-hoo and how he has used candy to fill other gaps in his life. The level of self-pity in these sections is unbelievable. And if that wouldn't be enough, the author then treads upon the goodwill of several companies he visits by stealing samples and, in one unbelievable passage, pretending he is a representative of one company so that he can get into a food fair illicitly.

All of these are presented in a boastful tone! Nov 23, Melissa rated it liked it.

The Chocolate Diaries: Secrets for a Sweeter Journey on the Rocky Road of Life

If Steve Almond is a candyfreak, then I'm a candywhore. I'll take it where I can get it and I'm not half as discriminating about its origins. That said, you can't help but laugh outright at the sugar-fanaticism of a man who gets faint with joy witnessing the birth of chocolate bunnies and is rendered speechless at the thoughtless waste of even one piece of chocolate, recalling, "I stood there in a cloud of disillusionment I'm someone who has been known to eat the pieces of candy found underneat If Steve Almond is a candyfreak, then I'm a candywhore.

I'm someone who has been known to eat the pieces of candy found underneath my couch. I giggled, chuckled and guffawed my way through the author's confessions of freak-like candy-hoarding, reveling in the kind of sweet self-effacing wit only a candy junkie could muster. From there, it's mostly an historical tour of the four candy companies he visited, fascinating and richly detailed, yet interspersed with progressively more disturbing moments of personal crisis. At one point the author himself notes, "I realize that I am over-sharing," a phrase that, in a work of humor especially, should be immediately followed by the words, "so I'll quit while I'm ahead.

From that point on, we are treated to sad reflections on how one may ineffectively attempt to use candy to fill the void created by emotionally unavailable parents, an alarming, overly personal description of penile hypochondria, and finally, how Dubya, terrorists, college hockey players and Reaganomics are to blame for everything from airport security to the author's inability to give up pot and find love. I found the experience much like seeing a house guest naked -- you don't know whether to avert your eyes and mumble an apology or pretend it's hilarious and hope he laughs along.

The erratic emotional pitch of the book can be summed up by Almond's description of a candy-orgy during a San Francisco layover; "A brief jolt of good humor Perhaps if Almond has just stuck to candy, the last bite Being a Candy Connoisseur myself, I had high expectations for this. Did it live up to my expectations? I suppose I was wanting something less personal-diary-coming-of-age-story, more candy-chocolate-informational-enlightenment. At the same time, he d Being a Candy Connoisseur myself, I had high expectations for this. At the same time, he did provide a look inside some of the smaller confectionery companies in this country, my personal favorite being that of Annabelle Big Hunk, Abba Zabba, U-No Bars in The California Bay Area, being that those are the only ones I am familiar with.

Aside from the above information regarding his cross-country candy adventure, Almond also managed to get me seeing why I will always be a kid at heart. Unlike most individuals, I never grew out of this. To this day, I love candy. To this day, I still collect Care Bears. To this day, I love fluffy stuffed animals. To this day, I am a kid in a candy store. Aug 12, Elizabeth rated it liked it Recommended to Elizabeth by: The back jacket describes Candyfreak as 'hilarious' - I think that's a bit of a stretch.

Personally, I wish this book was more about the candy industry and the small producers Almond visited. The highlights for me were his descriptions of the candy-making processes and of the candymakers themselves - interesting, fanatical characters who were often involved in every detail of the process.

Much less interesting to me were Almond's frequent digressions into his own Freak-iness, as well as his insistence on referring to himself as a Freak with a capital F. I guess I just wanted more candy, less Almond - which may be why I've always been a Mounds kind of girl. I had to read this one quickly because it was bad for me.

Is there anyone who has read this and didn't feel the overpowering NEED to eat chocolate while reading this book? If so, please post in the comments to this review because I want to know where you get your incredible willpower! And the problem was that if I wasn't eating chocolate, I just had to be eating something, anything, while reading this book! I defy anyone not to salivate at his descriptions of chocolate.

Here's just one I had to read this one quickly because it was bad for me. Here's just one example of his description of a favorite candy bar: The Caravelle tasted more like a pastry: More so, there was a sense of the piece yielding to the mouth. By which I mean, one had to work the teeth through the sturdy chocolate shell, which gave way with a distinct, moist snap, through the crisped rice thus releasing a second, grainy bouquet , and only then into the soft caramel core.

Oh, that inimitable combination of textures! That symphony of flavors! And how they offered themselves to the heat and wetness of the mouth--the sensation of the crisped rice drenched in melted chocolate, chomped by the molars in the creamy swirl of caramel. Oh, woe and pity unto thee who never tasted this bar! He had me laughing from the very beginning with his bit about Baker's Chocolate as the cruelest food product ever invented. I have vivid memories of biting into that block of chocolate as a child despite warnings from my mom that I wouldn't like it.

There were parts I didn't find quite as humorous or as interesting - such as when he would veer off-topic into his thoughts on politics. But overall, I found this quite fascinating. They need to market this book with a sample box of all the candy bars mentioned!

Some I had never heard of, and some I haven't eaten in a while and now need to go find, such as the Big Hunk! I applaud myself on having consumed only two candy bars during the process of reading this book. However, seeing as I read this book mostly over the course of a single day, that may not be something to brag about. I advise you to read this book while at a very safe distance from any candy sources, because I was sitting next to an enormous candy display in a bookstore and could not resist the purchase of a pack of turtles, which I had just read about, the 5th Avenue, which Almond mentions in pass I applaud myself on having consumed only two candy bars during the process of reading this book.

I advise you to read this book while at a very safe distance from any candy sources, because I was sitting next to an enormous candy display in a bookstore and could not resist the purchase of a pack of turtles, which I had just read about, the 5th Avenue, which Almond mentions in passion early in the book, and the Take 5, which just looked delicious in a so-bad-it's-good kind of way. In all seriousness, this was a highly interesting look at the candy industry. Almond writes about the business side of things in an easy-to-consume punintentional way that keeps things interesting and alarming, of course without getting preachy or really taking sides except with the political thing, which I appreciated.

In fact, despite the general light tone of this book, the parts that most stuck out to me were the serious parts - the portrait of his cotravelers on the bus from Sioux City to Kansas City and his description of "what America really looks like". If you want to see this, he advises you take the bus, because "the only people in airports are rich people. I was similarly touched by his rant against Bush the second.

The journey's not over yet!' Old Grandpa Chapter 26 The Television-Chocolate Room. The Teavee .. They leave you free to cook the lunch. And wash the. The Chocolate Diaries has 56 ratings and 27 reviews. Each chapter ends with “ Food for Thought” that covers main points in that chapter. .. FTC disclosure: I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group so I could .

And his new view, with the help of one president of a candy company, of the evils of Walmart is also eye-opening: Maybe the fact that I read this after a weekend in South Bend, Indiana helped, but reading this book gave me a very deep appreciation for the simplicity with which we can get a product on the shelves of our local supermarkets in Portland, that their is such a strong market for the strong and the independent, that chains have at least slightly less influence in my hometown than they do in the rest of the country, as well as real hope that the growing presence of this trend in other big cities indicates a growing movement away from the mega-corporations.

But back to candy: It also reminded me vaguely of the book Lost Cosmonaut, with its comedic style tinged with a real heavy-heartedness, a real sadness about the actual state of things, but which, somewhat masterfully, does not affect the overall flavor of the book to strongly. I'm also incredibly relieved to know that someone in Idaho is making chocolate covered potato chips and would like to see those more regularly.

And not the Trader Joe's variety - the chocolate is far too thick on those. Candy Freak is the story of Steve Almond's obsession with candy, particularly candy that no longer exists. Almond begins the story lamenting the disappearance of the candy bars of his youth, and wonders why such perfect candies aren't being made anymore. He sets out to explore the "chocolate underbelly of America", touring several small candy factories and getting the viewpoints of small, independently-owned candy companies. Almond discovers that there are indeed many candies being made by these Candy Freak is the story of Steve Almond's obsession with candy, particularly candy that no longer exists.

Almond discovers that there are indeed many candies being made by these small companies, but that corporate competition between the "big three" - Mars, Hershey, Nestle - has all but pushed out everyone else, and the small companies are fighting hard every day just to keep their production lines running.

Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America

This book found its perfect writer. There is no one who loves candy bars more than Steve Almond, I am convinced. The prose itself seems to drip with corn syrup and cocoa. This book lacked the "so what" factor necessary for non-fiction writing to hold my attention.

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I needed more depth to the personal anecdotes so I could see how Almond's trip was affecting him. I needed a stronger political slant so I could feel more angry about the "big three" monopoly on what should be a mom-and-pop friendly industry. What I got instead was a book that relies heavily on rich description of candy bars and the quirkiness of its author's obsession with them to keep the reader interested, and for this reader, it only worked so-so.

Aug 16, Laura rated it really liked it Shelves: This book is about Almond is obsessed with candy -- eating it, talking about it, thinking about it, keeping it around the house, finding new types. So he undertakes a trip cross-country to the few candy factories that will let him watch the process of making the stuff the processes are highly proprietary, it seems. Almond comes across a scarily neurotic and utterly likable, and who can't be happy reading about someone who loves candy?