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Permalink to Lots of Great News for the Chocolate Books

Lots of Great News for the Chocolate Books

Lots of flattering things happening for the Chocolate books the past week or so.

Sunita at Dear Author picked THE CHOCOLATE THIEF as one of her best reads for 2012.  And THE CHOCOLATE KISS is a Dear Author Recommended Read for January, but the review isn’t up yet.

Jackie at Romance Novels for Feminists picked THE CHOCOLATE KISS for one of her best reads for 2012.  It’s also a recommended read from Mandi on USA Today.

And Romantic Times picked THE CHOCOLATE TOUCH (that’s the one coming in August) as one of their 13 most anticipated books for 2013.

I am floored.  That is such an avalanche of compliments.  I’m really, really touched.  Thank you to everyone who is reading these books, I’m so glad the stories could bring pleasure to a few people.

Here’s wishing everyone lots of great reading in 2013, and lots of great chocolate…and lots of other great things. :)  Make it your number!

 


Permalink to Talking about CHOCOLATE KISS on NBC-17 My Carolina Today

Talking about CHOCOLATE KISS on NBC-17 My Carolina Today

Talking a little bit about THE CHOCOLATE KISS as a guest on My Carolina Today, today.

 

 


Permalink to January’s Contest=Figs

January’s Contest=Figs

This month’s contest is a box of those awesome Chocolate Figs of John and Kira’s.

12 of them=symbolic of 12 really great months this year, I hope. :)

Chocolate_Dipped_Figs John and Kira's

 


Permalink to CHOCOLATE KISS in stores!

CHOCOLATE KISS in stores!

Yay!  And I can’t get over the reaction.  Mandi at Smexybooks gave it a coveted A review.  “Adorable, charming, whimsical.”

Jackie at Romance Novels for Feminists says, “Her follow-up [to THIEF], The Chocolate Kiss, proves an equally enticing treat—frothing with humor, taunt with sexual tension, bubbling over with sophistication and charm. And, best of all, this bonbonof a book has a delicious core of feminist sensibility at its heart.”

SOS Aloha says it’s a “Must read for Francophiles, chocoholics, and romantics alike.”

Karen at For What It’s Worth calls its “mouthwateringly delicious” and says it’s “such a sweet, romantic story of falling in love and finding oneself. It’s the perfect book to cozy up with on a cold winters night.”

Sara in Bookland calls it a “sweet, mouthwatering love story”, “absolutely a delicious read.” 

I’m so happy people are enjoying it!

And of course you haven’t forgotten that awesome review from RT Book Reviews, have you?  Let me just remind you, in case.  You remember, I did reserve the right to post it every hour or so for the rest of my life.

“The polar ice caps are melting. Blame Laura Florand. In her latest choco-centric French romance, Florand serves up a mouth-watering tale of slow-burning passion and combustible consummation that’s as perfectly crafted as the hero’s surprisingly complex confections and as silky and addictive as the heroine’s dark chocolat chaud. Sensuous and sumptuous, The Chocolate Kiss leaves its reader with one thought: Mon Dieu, I have got to get myself to Paris!”

Okay, okay, I’m going to stop now.  Here’s a little photo of this awesome Eiffel Tower-Christmas-Tree gingerbread cookie that Bonnie Lau of Miel Bon Bons gave me when I stopped by to pick up some Christmas presents for people.  (Why, yes, I give chocolate.  How did you guess?)  I figured it would be perfect for the New Year, because it’s such a clever evocation of both Christmas and the fireworks that go off around the Eiffel for New Year’s.  But having been down with the Ghastly Flu (that’s its official scientific name), my New Year’s festivities are delayed.

Gingerbread Eiffel

Happy New Year!  I hope 2013 is a great, sparkly year for you!

 


Permalink to Cinnamon & May You Have a Good Christmas

Cinnamon & May You Have a Good Christmas

I think most parents right now are dealing with a very complex Christmas, between the intensity of gratitude for what you’ve got and grief for those who have lost it.  So this is what we’ve bee doing, and for those of you like me, I highly recommend this Christmas project as a comforting way to spend time with your kids.  The scent is so comforting, and at age 5-6, they are just getting aware of scents in a strong way, and the glitter delights the little kid in all of us.  The recipe itself is my rough-and-ready adaptation from Martha Stewart, but feel entirely free to seek out MS’s more refined and conscientious directions.

Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments

3/4 c. ground cinnamon

1/4 c allspice (really, it was supposed to be all cinnamon, but we ran out, and I like the scent this change brings)

2 bottles school glue, regular school supply list size, as much of them as you can squeeze out if you are not particularly patient.  If this is all the glue you have on hand, save a tablespoon or so for use later when painting the ornaments with glitter.

1 Go-Go Squeez of applesauce (supposed to be 1/4 c. in original recipe)

Besides the dough ingredients, you will also want:

Cookie cutters or your own paper patternsCookie sheet and oven

Ribbons or string to hang on tree

A little more school or craft glue

Glitter–fancy glitter*

Maybe paint–if you would rather paint than glitter

Directions

1)  Mix all together thoroughly and let sit one hour, to make the dough easier to handle.

2)  Roll out 1/4 inch thick.  (Our first time, we rolled too thin. But it really does dry out at 1/4 inch thick and is easier to handle and prettier.)

3)  Cut ornaments as you like. Go ahead–try doing Martha’s fancy birds complete with minuscule claws if you really want.  I dare you.  Or use Christmas cookie cutters.  Don’t forget to make a hole to thread the ribbon!

4)  Dry 24 hours on paper towels (wire rack if you want but we used cookie sheet).

5)  Bake 2 hours at 200 F, turning over once halfway through.

6)  Let cool.  Then mix about a tablespoon of school glue with equal amounts of water (roughly–judge consistency), and paint that on the ornaments as desired.  Sprinkle glitter* as desired. Let dry, add ribbon, hang on tree.

7)  Have fun.  Savor.  Breathe that cinnamon.

*I strongly recommend the packs of extra fancy fine craft glitter you can get at places like Michael’s over your average school glitter.  In fact, if you hide that 20-pack of fancy Recollections glitter in your child’s stocking, she will definitely think only Santa could have brought something that special.  And one of the colors in it is even named Fairy Dust right on the bottle.  How nice is that?

Have a very good Christmas, everyone.

Cinnamon Ornaments


Permalink to The Coolest Thing Ever in the World

The Coolest Thing Ever in the World

No, seriously, this IS the coolest thing ever in the world.  A while back, during the Great Chocolate Hunt for top U.S. artisan chocolatiers, a Chocolate Hunter joked that she was taking truffle-making classes and would swap some hand-made truffles for an advanced copy of THE CHOCOLATE KISS.

Probably didn’t know me well enough at the time.  Some of you probably could have warned her how that joke wouldn’t get a, “Ha, ha, funny”.  No, I was on it like a duck on a june bug.  “Hoo, YEAH, I will write for chocolate.”  Yep.  In fact, that’s pretty much why I already do write.

So…I mean, I didn’t FORCE her or anything.  Not too hard.  I mean, you know, she COULD have weaseled out of it.  I only would have cried a little.

Well, a lot, but I wouldn’t have TOLD her I was sobbing.

And anyway…LOOK what came in the mail yesterday:

In the cutest little box, with chopsticks to eat them with!  But I used my fingers.

The flavors!  Tamarind…bacon…juniper…red bean and sesame!  Also, you can catch a glimpse of the note her daughter wrote to accompany them, after having helped make them.  Is that not the sweetest surprise present ever?

Then look at the contents:

Which I was already pretty excited about, but then it slowly penetrated my brain that the box was awfully DEEP, and did that mean…?

Yes, it did.

By the way, the blue background you see behind it is tousled so artistically because otherwise you can tell how wrinkled that tablecloth is.  I write books, but I do not iron or do housework, if it can possibly be put off for another year.  No, we cannot be all things to all people.

And these things taste AMAZING.  They are so good, so creamy and perfect.

So yes, it is official:  That is the coolest thing ever.  Also, yes, I am happy to trade advanced copies for chocolate like this any day.  I know perfectly well who got the good end of this bargain!

Yum, yum, yum!  Thank you, Linda and daughters!  You made my month! :)

 

 


Permalink to Fabulous Florence or Firenze la favolosa (il favoloso?)

Fabulous Florence or Firenze la favolosa (il favoloso?)

You know, it’s not that the Italy tour only lasted 2 days, it’s that so much keeps happening, I can’t even keep up with myself, much less yesterday.

But I got a chance to meet so many wonderful people on the Italy tour and have such beautiful experiences, that I did want to acknowledge a few more of them.  And tonight’s the night for the next episode!  (For those of you arriving mid-season in this series, the beginning of October, I spent ten days in Italy on a book tour at the invitation of the publisher of the Italian translation of THE CHOCOLATE THIEF or Ladra di Cioccolato in Italian.  It was AMAZING.  You can find out about the start, at the Matera Woman’s Fiction Festival, meeting bloggers in Bari, and eating gelato in Rome, by scrolling back a little through posts.)

Florence!  You are entirely welcome to have this playing while you read the rest of this post.  I’m playing it while I write it.  I was singing it under my breath the whole time I was strolling through rain-drenched Florence, in fact.

Really.  Just ask the lovely Giulia, my indefatigably tolerant publicist. It probably grated terribly on her migraine, but she was just too nice to tell.

Can you imagine having a bad migraine and having to guide me, the American author on tour, through Florence in time to get to her signing while she kept taking photos? I gave her Advil, though. And lots of chocolate, which I have always believed combines perfectly with Ibuprofen to offset migraines. It was the least I could do. Poor Giulia.

Florence was, well, I mean…have you seen the Piazza del Duomo?

Even half-covered by restoration work, this is one of the most amazing churches I have ever seen.  And I’ve seen a lot.  A LOT.  I’m pretty sure I’ve seen all the most famous cathedrals in both France and Spain, two countries that do not mess around with penny antes when it comes to the “Who has the greatest cathedral” games.

I just love it.  From the outside.  Note that we arrived at 4 p.m., did a big chocolate-book-talk with Chocolate Hearts made especially for the book launch, and then caught a 9 a.m. train the next morning.  No entry into any actual building besides the Renaissance one we were staying in was possible.  (Interesting side note–I’m pretty sure that all the 4-star hotels in Italy are Renaissance.  That was my impression.  Most of them, therefore, had rather quirky bathrooms and some very labyrinthine layouts, but I am enjoying that, not complaining.)

I wish I was a good photographer.  Look at Santa Croce.

Now go find some better photos on the Web, so you can get an inkling of how gorgeous that blue star actually is.

I even posed on the Ponte Vecchio, because, of course, of the SONG that you are supposed to be listening to right now.  Here’s Maria Callas’s interpretation.  But I look too dorky in the photo, so I’m not posting it.

Instead, here I am at the signing that night.

Many thanks to Feltrinelli in Florence for hosting the signing and to Cinzia Zanfini for organizing it!

See how my mouth is open? That’s because ITALIAN is coming out of it. Can I just get a cheer? I mean, because that was hard work.

Also, a little to the back in that photo, do you see the woman with the camera?  That’s Cristina, of the blog La Mia Biblioteca Romantica, who so kindly dragged herself out on a rainy night after a hard day’s work to be a friendly face in the audience as I struggled to give my speech and interview IN ITALIAN.  (Something that required tremendous patience on the audience’s part.)

See? Cristina had to stay smiling and supportive all through this kind of thing!  Unfortunately, in this photo, I am blocking the journalist who moderated with some fascinating questions, after the talk:  Raffaella Galamini.  But many thanks to her for her insight and attention!

THANK YOU, Cristina, for coming out.  You can’t know how nice it was to have your friendly support there on the other side of the ocean!

Look what reward Fanucci Leggereditore offered to those who came out in the rain!  Hearts of chocolate, specially made by SAID Fabbrica del cioccolato in Rome.  If you want to know how delighted I am about special chocolates being made by an artisan chocolatier for one of my signings?  THIS DELIGHTED!!!!!  Too much fun.

I think this photo kind of sums up how I feel about this evening in Florence and my experience in Italy in general, both the treatment from publicist Giulia Fea and everyone with Fanucci, and the encounters with others there, and, of course, the chance to see some beautiful country.

BUT…lest you think it was all fun and games and author talks and interviews while I was there, next post I’ll get to the real meat of the trip, the exploration of the list of chocolate shops in Florence that the lovely Eloisa James sent me after I learned her husband was from there.  (She gave THE CHOCOLATE THIEF this really nice review on NPR, and while other authors might have been wallowing in pride at that, I was lighting on this one little sentence in the review where she referred to her husband’s love of his hometown’s chocolate.  I had to email her right away.  Not to thank her for the nice review, oh, no.  To demand she pass on her husband’s recommendations to me.  You’ve got to stay focused on the important things, if you’re me.  And no, I didn’t know her before that.  Just cut right to the chase.)

So…stay tuned for some glimpses of bonbons. :)  As soon as I get a chance!


Permalink to A glimpse of Philippe’s work in CHOCOLATE KISS

A glimpse of Philippe’s work in CHOCOLATE KISS

Just for fun, a glimpse of some of the images I would Pin to my storyboard as the inspiration for Philippe Lyonnais’s work in THE CHOCOLATE KISS.

http://pinterest.com/LauraFlorand/philippe-s-work-chocolate-kiss/


Permalink to Christmas Chocolate Recommendations

Christmas Chocolate Recommendations

All right, so some people were mentioning at a signing their intention to gift CHOCOLATE THIEF with a box of nice chocolates for Christmas, and I thought:  Good lord!  I can’t let people go around buying chocolates without guidance, can I?  Not unless they’re swearing to report back to me on their good finds, at least.  And maybe share…

So I decided to share some of my favorite U.S. artisan chocolatiers, and if you weren’t planning on giving people chocolate for Christmas, after this you will have thought better of that little lapse.

MIEL BON BONS (www.mielbonbons.com)

A local chocolatier for me, Bonnie Lau trained in Paris and offers her luscious chocolates and macarons in an enchanting little jewel-box of a shop in Carrboro, NC.  You can see more about my first visit to her shop here or, better yet, just soak in the visuals on the Pinterest board I did here.

CHOCOLATS DU CALIBRESSAN (www.chococalibressan.com)

A French chocolatier who re-established himself in Santa Barbara for the sake of his homesick American wife (don’t you LOVE a good love story?  especially when it equals more chocolate for us!), Jean Michel Carré makes exquisite hand-painted chocolates that are, really, worth forsaking nirvana.  (Can you forsake nirvana?  I’m never entirely sure how that works.  But I will worship his red Buddhas any day!)  You can read about the day a brother on a trip discovered this True Gem and sent me a box here.  Or the day a Sweet Sister-in-Law and Brother sent me a box of FORTY Buddhas for a certain birthday here.  (NO connection between the number of Buddhas and age.  Really.  Totally random they should pick that number.)  I love these Buddhas!  But to be fair to yourself, you really have to get a whole box of all his different chocolates before you narrow yourself down to one.  I love all of them.  Oh, and those turtles he does are adorable.

CHRISTOPHE ARTISAN CHOCOLATIER (www.christophechocolatier.com)

A third-generation French chocolatier who ended up in Charleston with his American wife (AGAIN with the GREAT love story! you see how Chocolate and Love go together?), Christophe Paume makes exquisite hand-painted chocolates and a salted caramel chocolate bar that is the best of that trend that I’ve yet had.  He also has a gorgeous Christmas line-up of chocolate snowmen, Santas, Tin Soldiers, Nutcrackers, and Christmas trees.  You know where my child’s teachers are getting for Christmas.

I apologize for the bad photography.  What can I say?  My thousand words can sometimes be worth WAY more than my pictures.

Here’s a better photo of the Christmas Snowman, straight off the site.  We’ll just have to hope none of those teachers are peeking on my website to spoil their Christmas surprise:

ESCAZU (www.escazuchocolates.com)

This is another local chocolatier to me, and one of the earliest bean-to-bar microbatch producers in the U.S.  (Which doesn’t make it that old–2009 was when they went full-scale bean-to-bar for all their chocolate.)  I have to admit I was skeptical before tasting their bars–how could a little local place compete with the years of expertise of Valrhona?  But I loved the uniqueness and quality of their bars, and for those looking for something without soy lecithin, this is the place!  They use none.  Their sensuous hand-painted chocolates are only available in store, as can their array of historical and contemporary hot chocolates, both of which I highly recommend for those in the Raleigh area.  But the bars can be ordered everywhere.  I love the passion and conviction Hallot Parson and chef Danielle Centeno show for what they do and their personal connections with small farmers in Costa Rica and Venezuela.  The stories in this place!  Take a look at this turn of the century grinder they found in Spain, for example:

I will get a full post or Pinterest collection from my visit and interview with them shortly.  I’m far behind!

JOHN AND KIRA’S (www.johnandkiras.com)

Mina of Mina’s Bookshelf recommended this small artisan chocolate company to me when I was up in Philadelphia, and it was absolutely delightful to be guided through a tasting at a little stand at the Rittenhouse Square farmer’s market, under golden leaves in late autumn.  And all I can say after that is, if you have not tasted their FIGS, you have not lived your life to the fullest.  Go ahead.  These things are AWESOME.

Here.  That’s not my photo.  I stole it off their website.  My photo has teeth marks.  Sinking into sumptuous, luscious, barely whiskey-touched rich chocolate ganache surrounded by the most delicate fig, straight from Spain…

So now it’s a real dilemma.  WHICH chocolate do I most want to get for Christmas?  Maybe ALL of them.  And all of it would be for research purposes, of course.  Which makes Christmas start to look like a busman’s holiday for me, doesn’t it?

Only…smug grin here…different.

Mwaa-ha-ha-ha-ha.

Or should that be Ho, ho, ho?

For more chocolatier recommendations both in the U.S. and Canada, check out the comments to the GREAT CHOCOLATE HUNT and sneak in any last-minute recommendations, if you can, because it is about to close.  Meaning I have to work through the rest of the recommendations there quickly!  Help!

Seriously…that’s a lot of chocolate.  Even I might need some help. :)

What about you?  Any Christmas chocolate recommends that you want to add?

Joyeux Noël! :)


Permalink to New Contest! Early copy of CHOCOLATE KISS!

New Contest! Early copy of CHOCOLATE KISS!

This one is for CHOCOLATE THIEF lovers!  See this wonderful present that Heather McCollum surprised me with at the Fall into Romance signing?  The lovely Heather McCollum who, may I add, has barely met me and just read THE CHOCOLATE THIEF and wanted to be a Wonderful Nice Person and share a little bit of her heart of gold with me and make my day?  She spotted this at a craft fair right after finishing THE CHOCOLATE THIEF and picked it up to give to me at the Festival.

So…I’m giving out one early copy (actual real, like-in-stores copy–they just arrived!) of THE CHOCOLATE KISS to the person who can tell me WHY she would think of THE CHOCOLATE THIEF when she saw this.  Email me with “Chocolate Kiss contest” in the subject at laura  AT lauraflorand DOT com.  (Replace the obvious words with the obvious symbols and no spaces, of course.  Just a little spam protection there.)  No blog comment answers, to be fair.  But I’m happy to answer questions to give clues. :)

And because I know perfectly well that you are zooming in to get a better look at those hard-packed abs on the cover of her book CAPTURED HEART behind us and NOT on the little precious present you’re supposed to be zooming in on, here’s a close-up to help you stay focused on the right thing.

Publishers Weekly just called THE CHOCOLATE KISS “decadent” and “erotic”!!  I’m starting to feel a little blush coming on here.   I swear I was just writing a book!  That’s all!

Contest runs until Dec. 6, because that’s St. Nicholas’ Day, and that means a present in your shoes or stocking!  Did anyone do that, growing up, besides us?

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