Non-Fiction Book Review – On the Chocolate Trail

  • Title: On the Chocolate Trail: a Delicious Adventure Connecting Jews, Religions, History, Travel, Rituals and Recipes to the Magic of Cacao
  • Author: Deborah R. Prinz
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 03/14/2013

I received this as a Christmas gift, and just read it now. It’s a short book, only 163 pages, plus recipes, extensive notes, index, and short glossary. The book claims to trace the history of cacao/chocolate especially in terms of religious significance. The author is a Rabbi. However, at times this reads like a a dissertation – with overly specific examples, obviously found by scouring historical records somewhere. At other times, there don’t seem to be enough examples. I would have preferred that the author had summarized some of her research – thus making her point clearer – which was often confusing.

I think my favorite chapter was: “Utopian Chocolate Saved Souls: From Cadbury to Hershey” which described the forward-thinking practices of Quaker chocolate makers. Yet these progressive factory towns didn’t come without a cost – that being religious freedom. Workers were forced to read the Bible and sing religious songs at work – and forbidden to drink alcohol, even in their own factory-owned homes. Women who married were let go from their jobs, and given only a token from the factory where they had worked their whole lives (such as a Bible, a plaque or other commemorative token). OTOH, Cadbury banned child labor in his factories (at a time when it was common) and provided workers with medical care, dental care, and homes to live in.

Overall, an uneven book but with some yummy-sounding recipes I may have to try.

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Book Review – The Hobbit

  • Title: The Hobbit
  • Author: JRR Tolkien
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 12/22/2012

I first discovered Lord of the Rings in my Seventh grade library and I’ve read it about every three years since, except when the films came out and then I read it yearly. The films directed by Peter Jackson are incredibly good.

Having started with Lord of the Rings though, The Hobbit was less of a favorite. I’d only read it twice before now. I just re-read it after seeing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Jackson’s new film, which we’re told will be one of three movies. I loved the film.

The book is much more of a children’s book, and a much more straight-forward tale than Lord of the Rings. However, this isn’t a criticism. I found that I did really enjoy it this time around.

The Hobbit is the story of Bilbo Baggins, a sensible Hobbit who never does anything unexpected or has any adventures. One day his friend, the Wizard Gandalf, arrives at his door, soon followed by thirteen Dwarves. They convince Bilbo to go with them to the Lonely Mountain to re-claim their treasure. Bilbo refuses at first, but he soon changes his mind. Bilbo and company have a series of adventures. They are eventually involved in the Battle of Five Armies.

During his adventure, Bilbo is separated from the group for a short period. During this period he finds the Ring and encounters the creature Gollum. The Ring will later prove to be The One Ring that is central to The Lord of the Rings. Bilbo’s adventures take place in the North and East of Middle Earth.

My copy of The Hobbit has a beautiful leather-like green cover and slip case and is illustrated. I loved the water-color paintings and wished for more – they were gorgeous!

Anyway, highly recommended!