Friday, January 18, 2013

The Parrot Talks In Chocolate (The Life And Times Of A Hawaiian Tiki Bar) by Everett Peacock

The Parrot Talks In Chocolate (The Life And Times Of A Hawaiian Tiki Bar)

Have you come for a Coco Loco Moco? You haven't? Oh, you are here for The Parrot that Talks in Chocolate then? Yes? Ah, my friend, you have come just in time. Tiwaka has just left the last one to question him dumbfounded, with infinite wisdom pouring into his mortal mind.

No questions for the bird, you say, just here to watch? *smiles, while polishing a glass with a rag* Well, here's a question for you. Are you really thirsty?

... And so goes on the night, with our unnamed yet popular (and mysterious) surfer-bartender, as he takes care of one customer after the other. (Customers who, no matter what, always order a second Coco Loco Moco after having their first.)

As you sit in the bar-stool, amazed at the intelligent bird while watching-but-not-watching the sexy pareo-wearing beauties, you begin to breathe in a tinge in the air. Is it the smell of the barbecued grass-fed organic beef (that's so good vegetarians had to reaffirm their faith in its presence)? Is it the scent of the chocolate cashews, beckoning you to hand it over to the all-knowing parrot? Is it even the faint musk of to-be lovers, meeting for the first time in this secluded bar and leaving for the very rustic cabanas in the area?

No, my friend. I believe its the Tiki magic working its way on you.

This book of connected-yet-separate anecdotes features to us the life of one who grew up on The Island. An island where an active volcano lets out its Vog every so often to agitate the spirits of its residents. An island where pineapple pickers long for the blue, blue sky. An island where choice surfing spots abound, stretched out as so as if each was designed to be shared by only two people.

An island among the islands of Hawaii.

It can't be anything but Tiki magic that sprinkles the words here, words of a simple man living a simple life in a curious island. It dusts his daily living with different incidents he doesn't bother to think about - only to feel about and let happen. While he talks about his memories of his old beloved Ococ, the feel of his dried hair while surfing the wave, and the unattainable apple of his eye, he talks too of ghosts, of connected spirits, and of the Great Cosmic Gift Giver. And he lets them hover in the air, not bothering to explain anything.

(Let's not forget the interesting parrot as well, whose current tap of the toes - now at 1, 3, 6 - signify the 136th song on the portable media player. Lo and behold, it's the perfect song to signify the current mood. And he does it every single time.)

No, don't come in if you're looking for an unscrupulous joint selling nothing more than ice tea and moonshine. Turn and leave if you expect therapy, and not escapism. Don't try to find this place if you don't have faith. This is a Tiki bar, through and through. (It even has the parchment paper certificate guaranteeing that it has passed the standards for authenticity of the 1958 TIKI Convention!)

While this book seems like a bunch of well-written (and slow-paced) stories, it holds much more than that. It has the promise of green turtles that snort as they save your life, it has the promise of dreamy vacation landscapes with unique and captivating locals, it has the promise of sun-kissed love.

Don't rush, feel the wind against your hair, and relax. You've got some minutes of escape at your fingertips. Enjoy, and aloha.

(This is almost! a 5-star read for me. While I can't quite rate it with 5 stars, it's awesome! I lost myself almost completely to this world. Note that this is my first foray into Hawaii- / Tiki-related books :) Great read!)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders by L. Leander

INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders (Book 1)Circus, circus, we love the circus~

This is the tale of a young girl of sixteen, one who has taken it into her head that there's more to life than what her family has brought her up to become. It's a tale of growing up, of love and loss, of Gaji and Gypsy, of fitting in and being left out, of life and change, of applause and tears.

The book is voiced by the headstrong Bertha, whose cordial (and perceptive) view of life gives zest to this coming-of-age story. With her simple language and seemingly provincial accent, this girl whisks you along with her as she dreams of changing her basket of eggs for a nomadic life with a bunch of leotard-wearing talents.

Oh, have I mentioned that this story is set in 1843, with a backdrop of sequined outfits, cotton candy and circus people?

Behind Bertha's words, there is more than just scenery of what goes on in the Big Top. There's also a hint of friendship and betrayal, a dash of love and joy, and a sprinkling of suspicions and trust. While the book seems to be a simple circus story, you will find good friends, mistrusted family members, mother-like fortune-tellers, strong partners, ferocious animals and a whole bunch of personalities, each unique in their own way. Oh, and let us not forget the main star of them all: the mighty, humble, loving elephant (taken care of by the dashing boss handler, of course).

With Inzared, you'll inhale the fresh grass while you tread tirely towards the next town. With Inzared, you'll see the blue sky as you attempt to do hand-stands on a bareback horse. With Inzared, you'll, at breakfast, mingle with people who mesmerize you with their amazing tricks with lions, tigers and bears. With Inzared, you'll dance to the merry tunes of the age-old traditions that still govern the ceremonies of the Gypsy.

With Inzared, you'll behold so much joy, wondering if you'll ever experience sadness.

Get ready to up your vocabulary in circus speak, because you may come across a number of casually spoken trouper words. (I can't quite get over "dukie box"!) This story is also quite realistic in its own sense, though it does echo a kind of supernatural vibe here and there. (But hey, what's a circus without its mystery and unfathomable tradition, yes?) I loved the depth into Gypsy lore - it's really quite mesmerizing and exotic to the modern eye.

While the story is cohesive enough, it is not too deep. You can read through this, have a bite or two to think about, but in the end, probably consider it light-hearted young adult fiction. Quite tastefully written, with words carefully chosen. A sequel is also wanting!

Grab your best blouse, wear your blue silk scarf, and get ready for the inviting smell of popcorn (maybe with a pink lemonade?). Now, who's up for a good show at the circus?

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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