Love the Yiddish: but can’t speak it.

I chose this NetGalley book because it spoke to me of my childhood, and then was astonished at how much the characters in it were my family come to life in a book…

Except that most of my family spoke very little Yiddish in comparison to these.. These were 2 generations or more closer to the ghettos than mine.

So let’s look at the similarities:

  1. My family also come to England from the White Russian/Polish areas -maybe before those in the book though, as they left in the late 1800s as a result of the ghettos and pogroms happening then. So we had not got family in Europe during the Holocaust luckily;
  2. They also went and settled into the East End – all around Bow;
  3. Then they all went to live in and around Edgware just before the 2nd World War. Some in the same street, others around the corner.
  4. I remember the Jewish shops in Edgware – the fish shop where you could buy gefilte fish ingredients ready chopped and the bagel shops. But our Kosher butcher was at the Green Man shopping parade and he sold the most tasty boiling fowl with lots of egg yolks to put in the soup. Now as for Kneidlach, there were 2 ways if making them – heavy or light, and each of my grandmothers made them the 2 different ways. My preference, and my husband’s, is for a middle way. Yes I still make them! But most of the Jewish shops have now gone from Edgware – it is a very sad shopping centre now, the department store has gone and so many of the shops that used to thrive there;
  5. And I too went to a Mill Hill synagogue – but a different one from in the book – and Cheder on a Sunday too. But I stayed on for much longer and very nearly got  Bat Mitzvahed – the female version of a Bar Mitzvah, which was quite unusual then in an orthodox synagogue. I have several trees in Israel I paid for with my stamps I bought each week at Cheder.
  6. And finally I too had friends and relatives who went to Israel and stayed – none went until they were 18 at least though, and most went to spend time in a Kibbutz. Many came back though as the politics became too right wing for them. Once it was full of Ashkenazi now not so much.
  7. Oh, and a point about me – I had a DNA test and I am 99% of Jewish origins and 1% Nigerian. I have 3 different strains including one dating back to a tribe in the Middle East from Biblical times.

Now let’s talk about the book.

So while yes, it did take me down memory lane, and for me that was fun, I suspect that for many others there was far too much Yiddish and not enough explanation and the glossary at the back was unreadable. The Jewish wedding description only applied to a very Frum event, I don’t remember more than one wedding where there were chairs involved let alone ribbons – except on TV. So I think many of the customs were exagerated for effect. Which is both good and bad. And honestly, the whole ending was too trite.

There is also such a difference between the ‘tribe’ and its customs, and the faith. I believe that I am Jewish because of my tribe, not my faith – I am non-religious – and each sub-tribe – depending on their village and Rabbi in the 16th and 17th centuries, have developed their own versions of the culture and customs. Espcially between the Ashkenazi – the Western European – and the Sefardi – the Eastern Jews. and even practice their faith in different ways too.

I find myself torn in how to characterise this book. Whilst it is clearly a romance – with some humour and tristesse, it is also a book about a dying culture – in terms of the customs practiced. So, did I like it because of my own history and memories brought back to me? Or because of the story? Unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion, it is the former and thus without those memories the book would not have struck me as a good read which will limit its appeal.

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How fierce? Book Blitz and Review

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As I like Nicole Snow, I had picked this up from KU as soon as I knew she had a new book out.

It was, as she says, different, with a young boy who pulls at your heart strings with his camera and how he sees the world.

And then we have this very large man, who is very protective of his son, and has the nickname of Alaska, because that was where he lived. and also because he looked rather like a large bear who might live in the wilds of Alaska!

We also have a somewhat damaged heroine who needs help, that Alaska provides. And of course, there is a love story in the end, complicated by the need for the child to be protected and loved.

I always like her stories and this was no different. it is heartwarming to see the father’s love and his determination to provide the best life he can for his son. Good style and nice phrasing.


Nicole Snow is a Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author. She found her love of writing by hashing out love scenes on lunch breaks and plotting her great escape from boardrooms. Her work roared onto the indie romance scene in 2014 with her Grizzlies MC series.

Since then Snow aims for the very best in growly, heart-of-gold alpha heroes, unbelievable suspense, and swoon storms aplenty. With over a million books sold, she lives for the joy of making two people fight with every bit of their soul for a Happily Ever After.

Current fan favorites include her Enguard Protectors series, accidental love novels, plus long beloved MC romance thrillers like the Grizzlies and Deadly Pistols.

Author links:

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Lady Painters: Please check them out.

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Berthe Morisot, The Sisters (1869). National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, []

A nicely written story that reminds us that in the 18th and nineteenth century (not to mention before) having a female name meant it was difficult to get published if you wrote a novel (looking forward to this next story in the series), or get accepted to have a showing if you were a painter, let alone accepted in the Royal Academy.

The Royal Academy is still prestigious for painters but perhaps less so than it used to be? Certainly, the Summer Show now incudes paintings that are perhaps rather on the twee side – that is to say, lots of paintings of puppies, (bunny) rabbits and kittens in the area for the ‘less professional’ artists.

But to become an Academician that is something else.

“There were several reasons for women’s exclusion from the institutional structures that provided entry to the art world. Women were simultaneously viewed as a threat—male artists hardly needed more competition in an already-crowded field—and as naturally inferior and incapable of creative genius. While it was useful for women to draw recreationally, or even to make a living with decorative china painting or other stereotypically feminine work, they were not taken seriously as professional artists.” [women-artists-in-paris-1850-1900-clark].

And as is mentioned in this article from Clark, most of them had to decamp to Paris to be recognised.

Indeed Christies’ says when considering female-artists-of-the-Victorian-era: ‘When one thinks of Victorian artists, it is generally the members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and various Royal Academicians, who spring to mind,’ says Sarah Reynolds, Victorian Art specialist at Christie’s in London. ‘While images of women predominate their canvases, what is less known is that there was a group of highly talented female artists working alongside them and sharing ideas.

Traditionally these women have been viewed in relation to their male counterparts, implicitly seen as inferior to their famous husbands, fathers and brothers. But in recent years, they have begun to be recognised as talented pioneers in their own right.

I always like an historical novel that brings out, however unlikely, some of the issues around society and culture during the period in which it is set. Especially, being female as I am, if it looks at the constraints among women (and a lover of art). So this book hits the spot in that respect for me.

I also rather liked the characters and their families and enjoyed the basic storyline and the young nine year girl was certainly very astute for age, and this will have been a result of being encouraged to be so, by her family and especially her uncle.

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What you and your sister might do:

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When is a cat a killer? Book Review

So this is a review for 7 books – a whole series – that’s what Covid lockdown did to me – I just read whole series all the way through. Luckily for me it was easy, as they came in 2 packaged books – 1-4 and 5-7.

This is a fantasy novel with orphaned cat shifters who act as Assassins and are trained in their trade in a special academy. There are other shifters involved and a children trafficking ring and lots and lots of cats of all shapes and sizes. The world they live in bears little resemblance to our own, so it is easy to believe in as we see it through the eyes of our story characters. Each book ends on a cliff-hanger which encourages the reading of the next, and as the story progresses the world becomes richer and more detailed and the characters more interesting. The suspense is good and the plot rich and complex.

We also find our Heroine Kat involved in a reverse harem by the end of the series.

The books are:

  • Meow
  • Scratch
  • Purr
  • Hisss
  • Lick
  • Claw
  • Roar

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