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The Chocolate Lady's Book Reviews

Davida Chazan's Blog for mostly book reviews and literary musings (and maybe some chocolate).

Currently reading

Goodbye, Columbus
Philip Roth
The Only Woman in the Room
Marie Benedict

Man and Boy

Man and Boy - Tony Parsons When Harry lost Gina because he cheated on her with a one-night stand, he got something else in return; a chance to learn how to be a real father to his young son, Pat. You can find out what I thought of Tony Parsons’s novel “Man and Boy” (the first in his Harry Silver series) in my latest book review on my blog now.

The Bookshop

The Bookshop - Penelope Fitzgerald This lovely little book was recently made into a major motion picture, with a star-studded cast. I enjoyed the film very much, but after seeing it, I had to read the book. My newest review of "The Bookshop" by Penelope Fitzgerald also discusses which was better – the book or the movie – and you can read it on my blog now. https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2018/08/a-village-education.html

An Eve or a Lilith

Ecstasy: A Novel of Alma Mahler - Mary Sharratt

Most people may have heard of the names Gustav Mahler and Gustav Klimt, but the names Alma Mahler and Alma Maria Schindler probably mean nothing to you. Admittedly they didn’t to me either. However, with Mary Sharratt’s newest novel, I’m glad to have finally had the chance to learn something about one very interesting woman. If you read my review of this book on my blog here, you’ll find out where all these names, and more, come together in one historical fiction novel. http://drchazan.blogspot.com/2018/07/an-eve-or-lilith.html

Finding her Time

Clock Dance - Anne Tyler

Thanks for the free book, @prhinternational! Anne Tyler’s fans were worried that her 2015 novel “A Spool of Blue Thread” might have been her last. How pleased and thankful are we all that she hasn’t gone into retirement because she just couldn’t stop writing? Her newest novel also takes us back to Baltimore (with a couple of short sidetracks) to hear Willa’s story; a woman who drifted through her 60 years of life, until a total stranger calls her, putting her on a path that will change everything. My review of this charming novel is on my blog now. https://drchazan.blogspot.com/2018/07/finding-her-time.html

Close Range: Wyoming Stories

Close Range: Wyoming Stories - Annie Proulx Author Annie Proulx became famous after her short story “Brokeback Mountain” was made into a movie in 2005 that won three Academy Awards and received five more Oscar nominations. (Plus, Proulx was just awarded the 2018 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction.) This short story was originally published in the collection “Close Range: Wyoming Stories.” You can read my review of this book in my latest blog post here.

On a Cold Dark Sea

On a Cold Dark Sea - Elizabeth  Blackwell Yes, this is yet another novel about the Titanic, but I request you not click away just yet. Instead, please read my latest review on my blog that answers the question: has Elizabeth Blackwell found an angle to this old story that sets her novel apart from all the rest, or has she, like so many before her who are transfixed with this story, fallen into the same mundane traps? Find out in my review of “On a Cold Dark Sea” on my blog, here.

The Miniaturist

The Miniaturist - Jessie Burton When Nella moves to Amsterdam to live with her new husband, she soon discovers that things are not what they seem. Set in the 17th century, Jessie Burton’s debut novel received immediate acclaim. You can read if I agree with their assessment in my review here.

The Alice Network

The Alice Network - Kate Quinn Inspired by the real-life Louise de Bettignies (aka Alice DuBois, aka Lili), this novel fictionalizes one of the women behind this famous titular group of spies in German-occupied Europe during the first World War, and brings her back to post-World War II France in search of one missing person, as well as resolutions to questions unanswered for nearly 30 years. Read more about this book in my review here. https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2017/11/25/unraveling-the-complexes/

Cocaine Blues

Cocaine Blues - Kerry Greenwood After reading many reviews filled with praise for Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher mystery novels, I finally decided to give them a look. The idea of a 1920s amateur sleuth in Australia was certainly a draw. That the sleuth is a woman was also attractive, particularly since I always loved Miss Marple, as well as Christie's books staring the adorable duo of Tommy and Tuppence. The question is could Greenwood's debut of this series live up to the creative twists mixed with charm and elegance that made Christie so famous and beloved. Find out in my review of "Cocaine Blues" here.

Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War I

Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War I - Heather  Webb, Hazel Gaynor In the summer of 1914, when England went to war with Germany, both the solders and the loved ones they left behind, were certain it would end quickly - by Christmas. Unfortunately, it took over four years for peace to come, and the only small respite both those at home and those away had, were letters to and from their loved ones. In this novel, Heather Webb and Hazel Gaynor bring us a story of just such correspondence. Read more about this lovely book in my review here.

Young Jane Young

Young Jane Young - Gabrielle Zevin We've heard it before; a young intern gets involved with an older elected official and no matter how discrete the two of them are, something happens and the affair eventually comes out. That's what happened to Aviva Grossman, and despite her efforts to carry on with her life and build a career, escaping the scandal and notoriety was almost impossible. In her latest novel, author Gabrielle Zevin (The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry) takes this idea to gives us a window into the lives of the women involved as well as the women in their families in the aftermath. Read more in my review of this novel here. https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2017/08/20/the-choices-we-make/

Noah's Compass

Noah's Compass - Anne Tyler Liam is 61, unexpectedly unemployed, and the victim of a home break-in during his first night in a new apartment, but he can't remember even a moment of that event. What this mix of events has on Liam's life and family is the subject of Anne Tyler's 2009 novel "Noah's Compass." You can read more about this book in my review here. https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2017/08/01/finding-direction/

Harsh Reality with a Sweet Dream

Karin is having a hard time this frigid winter. To begin with, her deadbeat, criminal boyfriend left her with their newborn baby girl Dream. Add to this that she has almost no cash left, no job, practically no food in the house and must use the least amount of electricity she can, so they don't turn that off. The worst part is she's about to lose her home and her car. Karin must find a way out of this problem, and Karolina Ramqvist's novel is all about her search for an answer.


Sweden's bestselling author Karolina Ramqvist brings us a story touted as a powerful novel of "betrayal and empowerment." This short but complex study centers around how one woman, alone and lonely, is forced to grab at anything she can that might pull her out of abject despair after her criminal boyfriend abandons her with a newborn baby, with no money or prospects and the looming loss of her home. You can read the rest of my review  here.

Source: http://drchazan.blogspot.com/2017/05/harsh-reality-with-sweet-dream.html

The Scale of a Family

Moonglow: A Novel - Michael Chabon

Readers of Michael Chabon's novels know that he has a wonderful way of mixing reality and fiction, to the extent that the lines can feel very blurred. I noticed this in his "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," which won him the Pulitzer. Although that novel, (which I really should review someday) focuses on the rise of superhero comic books, with an aside into the realm of magical realism, this book takes on a much more personal form. Here, Chabon takes the last 10 days of his grandfather's life (well, step-grandfather, to be precise) and uses the recounting of the events of this man's life in order to create a fictional biography, or memoir. In this way, Chabon not only makes protagonists out of real-life relatives, but he also places himself and other family members into the cast of characters.


Read the rest of my review here.



Source: http://drchazan.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-scale-of-family.html


Shtum - Jem Lester The cover of this book has statements such as "Ten-year-old Jonah can't speak, but it is time his family listened," and "Jonah has never spoken, yet somehow he communicates better than all of the adults in his life." While Jem Lester's debut novel is about Jonah, a child with severe Autism, it is also about a whole lot more than that. This is why I entitled my review of this book, "The Volumes of Silence" despite the cliché. You'll understand better what I mean, from my review of this wonderful novel here. https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2017/05/27/the-volumes-of-silence/

Sisters One, Two, Three

Sisters One, Two, Three - Nancy Star While vacationing in Martha's Vineyard, a tragedy happens to the Tangle family during Ginger's 13th summer, and it ends up being the source of secrets and lies that follow her and her whole family throughout their lives. Nancy Star's novel investigates what happens when they uncover the unknown, and they each have to confront their own truths. Read what I thought of this fascinating novel that gets 4.5 stars in my review here. https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2017/03/10/counting-on-family/