27 Following

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

Herland and Selected Stories

Herland and Selected Stories - Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Barbara H. Solomon Around a century ago, Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a well-known feminist fiction writer, including "Herland" and "The Yellow Wallpaper." Find out what I thought of this collection of her work in my review here. https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2017/02/19/feminist-stories-from-the-past/

This Must be the Place

This Must be the Place - Maggie O'Farrell O'Farrell spans half the globe to give us a fascinating and dramatic look at loss, secrets and relationships in her newest novel. Read what I think were this book's strengths and weaknesses in my review here. https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2016/12/31/here-there-and-maybe-nowhere/ (Sorry, Maggie - I can only give it 3.5 stars out of five.)

The Whole Town's Talking

The Whole Town's Talking - Fannie Flagg Flagg's latest novel is a portrait of rural America written with charm and wit (as usual), that's both poignant and uplifting. Find out why I'm giving it five stars in my review here.

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer - Fredrik Backman Stock up on tissues folks, because Fredrik Backman is BACK! Read why this perfectly formed, exquisitely developed novella gets a full five stars, in my review here.

The Race for Paris

The Race for Paris - Meg Waite Clayton It seems everyone wants to be the person to chronicle the victory of the Allied forces taking Paris back from the Nazis. This novel follows two women in their efforts to gain that title. Read what I thought of Meg Waite Clayton's historical fiction novel, The Race for Paris, here. https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2016/10/18/women-witnessing-wwii/

Today Will Be Different

Today Will Be Different - Maria Semple Semple made a splash with her previous novel, but does this book live up to that? Find out what I think in my review, here (2.5 stars). https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2016/09/30/different-yes-but/

The Atomic Weight of Love

The Atomic Weight of Love - Elizabeth J. Church In Elizabeth Church's novel "The Atomic Weight of Love," we find Meridian, a woman caught between career, love, society and her own desires. Read more about this thought provoking novel in my review here. https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2016/07/23/devotion-en-masse/

99 Stories of God

99 Stories of God - Joy Williams In this collection of 99 vignettes, Joy Williams delves into how we look and think about "the Lord" in today's world. Read more about this fascinating, thought provoking book in my review, here. https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2016/07/12/21st-century-fairy-tales/

Britt-Marie Was Here: A Novel

Britt-Marie Was Here: A Novel - Fredrik Backman If you haven't read any Fredrik Backman yet, you really should. Find out why in my review of his third novel, Britt-Marie Was Here, now available on my blog here https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2016/05/31/baking-soda-and-soccer/

The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules

The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules - Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg How much fun could a book about crime be? Well, if it involves a group of elderly people in Sweden, a whole lot. Read more about this lovely novel here. https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2016/06/14/naughty-but-nice/

Lilac Girls

Lilac Girls - Martha Hall Kelly This novel is very nicely written, with interesting characters. In particular, the protagonist Caroline is beautifully formed, with a life that is fascinating for those who know little about how Americans tried to help those who became unwitting refugees in the US after Hitler invaded their homelands. However, we must remember that Holocaust novels are a dime a dozen. This is why I was hoping that this novel would be different, particularly since the blurb for this book talks about Christine and her helping two survivors of the women's camp Ravensbruck. Unfortunately, the detailed information about the two other women in this story, and their introduction to Ravensbruck was, in my opinion, too much back-story. Although retelling the grim and gory ways that the Nazis treated their prisoners is a necessary evil, I somehow felt that this book included these scenes only to evoke pity for these characters. I don't want to pity characters, I want to have empathy for them, to care about them, and the author let me down with this.

In addition - and I hope this doesn't sound racist or snobbish - as a Jew, I have a hard time with Holocaust novels that seem to outwardly ignore how the Nazis treated the Jews, and only focuses on the other "undesirables." I realize that the Nazis didn't only kill Jews, but they were their primary target, and to avoid that altogether was disingenuous, to say the least. However, I was glad that this book didn't focus on any overtly Christian themes, even though I believe that there is a market for Holocaust stories within the Christian Fiction genre (see my review of the novel The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron here http://drchazan.blogspot.com/2014/07/beauty-out-of-ugliness.html for more on my feelings about this).

Furthermore, the only Jewish reference I found in this novel was a passing reference to visiting the Ghetto and a remembrance of eating a Hanukkah delicacy. Unfortunately, the author didn't do her research properly, and the character said she remembered eating a type of doughnut that the Jewish bakers made for the holiday. Those doughnuts - known as "sufganiot" were never part of any Eastern European Hanukkah celebration at that time. In fact, sufganiot that are popular among Jews today, come from the Jews of North Africa and Arab countries. The word, sufganiot, comes from the Arabic and Hebrew words that mean sponge. While Jews in Poland did make something similar, their popularity as a particularly Hanukkah delicacy among Easter European Jews only coincided after Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews came together in Israel (i.e., post-1948). All of this is why I cannot give this book a rating of more than two and a half stars out of five, but I'm certain that it will find a much more sympathetic audience among non-Jewish readers.


Bossypants - Tina Fey Tina Fey is totally hysterical and this book would have gotten a full five stars if she hadn't kept telling the listeners to refer to pictures and illustrations in the PDF version (Lady, don't you get it? I'm listening to this for the main reason that I CAN'T read it on PDF)! (An aside: I think you seem more strange laughing out loud when listening to an audio book than when you laugh out loud when reading from a physical book - electronic or print.)

The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood, Claire Danes My 200th book review is on a classic - The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. Read why this 1985 novel is still very relevant (and frighteningly so) today in my review here. https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2016/10/16/not-a-blueprint/

A Place Called Winter

A Place Called Winter - Patrick Gale Patrick Gale's newest novel is the lovingly told story of Harry Cane, a man whose sexuality causes him to leave his comfortable life and family in Edwardian England, to a new future in the wilds of Saskatchewan, Canada. Find out why I gave it five out of five stars here. https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2016/02/16/tell-me-who-you-love/

The Restaurant Critic's Wife

The Restaurant Critic's Wife - Elizabeth LaBan Lila Soto's life isn't what she imagined it would be, but it isn't really the opposite of that, either. In fact, Lila isn't doing so badly, overall. However, that doesn't mean that there can't be room for improvement. She just has to figure out how to fix things without blowing her husband's cover along the way. Read more about this yummy book in my review here. https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2015/12/26/a-recipe-for-secrets/

Vintage Munro

Vintage Munro - Alice Munro Alice Munro made history when she won a Nobel Prize for Literature, and became the first author of short stories to receive this prestigious award. After reading this collection, while I cannot fault the Swedish Academy for their choice, I can't say this collection should be your introduction to her work. Find out why in my review here https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2016/01/05/a-nobel-introduction/