April 28, 2022

3.5 star review of "Childhood in a Shtetl" by Abraham Gannes

Childhood in ShtetlChildhood in Shtetl by Abraham P. Gannes
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

If it weren't for the fact that this small book was written and self-published by a distant cousin of mine, I'd have given it less than a 3.5-star review. Lots more tell than show, it is still invaluable to me as the story of Winograd, the shtetl my father's family came from, and what caused them to leave during the 1918-1921 pogroms. Non-family members, in the unlikely event that they do read this book, should skip the first chapter; it only deals with which relatives are related to whom and how.

The second chapter describes Winograd and what the residents, male and female, do there and how they relate to the non-Jewish residents. It has a nice, hand-drawn, map of the village, which would be more useful if one could read the tiny writing. Chapter Three, on education of Jewish boys is, as expected, totally a religious pursuit. First they learn to read Hebrew and Yiddish, then Bible/Torah study. A capable student began learning Talmud, the study of which ideally lasted his whole life. A few girls are taught enough Yiddish to read and write letters, in particular Tsena Urena, a Yiddish book whose structure parallels the weekly Torah portion."

Halfway through the book, I got to the pogrom chapters. Chapter Four is a general history of the Ukraine pogroms that describes the various groups involved [Bolshevik Reds, Czarist Whites, Ukrainian nationalists, and angry presents—none of whom liked or trusted the Jews], explains why they started fighting each other, and gives general details of how the shtetl and their inhabitants were caught in the middle. Chapter Five goes into horrific detail about attacks on Winograd, many of which involved capturing Jewish merchants or other travelers and, after beating them, holding them for ransom. Sadly, when family and friends arrived to deliver the ransom, they often found the travelers already murdered, after which they themselves were killed and the ransom stolen along with their merchandise and horses.

After the horrific pogroms Chapter Six comes as relief when the survivors receive letters from relatives abroad in late 1919. These direct them to board ships in Bucharest and emigrate, either to America or Palestine. Danger isn't quite over, since fleeing Ukraine in the winter involves crossing ice-covered rivers and avoiding officials who have to be bribed to leave them in peace. Not all make it to Romania unscathed, but the majority of my family do.

I recommend this book for anyone who wants an up-close-and-personal look at Jews fleeing the 1917-1921 Pogroms in Ukraine, but especially for descendants of these emigrants.
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Posted by maggie at 04:58 PM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2022

Goodreads Giveaway for "The Choice"

Friday, after two weeks of struggling with Goodreads and Amazon, I got the following email: “Congratulations! Your giveaway for The Choice: A Novel of Love, Faith and The Talmud has been approved. It will start at 12:00am PT on Monday, April 25 and finish at 11:59pm PT on Monday, May 16 (the day before pub date). You're giving away 100 copies (of the e-version) to Goodreads members in U.S. When your giveaway ends, we'll automatically deliver books to winners' Kindle libraries and email you with a summary of your giveaway's performance.”

I was so thrilled to finally begin my Goodreads Giveaway that it wasn’t until today that I realized that I wasn’t sure if 12:00 am on Monday means midnight on Sunday or midnight on Monday. I did know it wasn’t noon. It took a google search to be convinced that The Choice’s giveaway will actually begin tonight, Sunday. Here’s the Giveaway link to register. Of course you have to be a member of Goodreads first, but it's easy and free.

Posted by maggie at 10:08 PM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2022

4-star review of "Lonely Planet The Netherlands"

Lonely Planet The NetherlandsLonely Planet The Netherlands by Lonely Planet
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read a few other guidebooks before our five day stay in Amsterdam at the beginning of April, and this was the most useful. It had the hotel we stayed in, The Hoxton, among its recommendations, which gave it an icon on the Amsterdam maps. The restaurant guide wasn't particularly helpful, as Lonely Planet travel guides seemed to be designed for students and other more budget-minded travelers. We relied more on our hotel staff's advice. Unfortunately, the paperback was too heavy to shlep around and the newer kindle edition we downloaded wasn't as good.
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Posted by maggie at 03:51 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2022

My 4-star review of "Wish You Were Here"

Wish You Were Here (Mrs. Murphy, #1)Wish You Were Here by Rita Mae Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another cozy mystery staring the feline sleuth Mrs. Murphy, although Wish You Were Here is actually the first installment of a 30+ novel series. The way the animals communicate and help solve the murders is a delight. One spoiler warning: having read some of the later volumes before this one, I couldn't help but figure out who the murderer and victims weren't by noting [in the lengthy list of characters at the beginning] who was still a character in the series. Characters who only appeared in one particular story were highly likely to die or kill someone else in it. I still enjoyed the novel and intend to read more of them. View all my reviews

Posted by maggie at 08:15 PM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2022

3-star review of "Rest in Pieces"

Rest in Pieces (Mrs. Murphy #2)Rest in Pieces by Rita Mae Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
After starting off with Book 5 of Rita Mae Brown's Mrs. Murphy feline murder mystery series, I decided to read the others more or less in order. I enjoyed this one also, although the deaths were rather grisly and the “surprise” ending turned out to be a bit cliché. But the relationships between the talking animals and their human companions were just as delightful. Again, I was thankful for the character list at the front. And also thankful for the short chapters, which made it easy to keep reading.. I'm now eager to read Book One.
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Posted by maggie at 09:04 AM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2022

Maggie interviewed by

You haven't seen any posts for almost three weeks because my husband and I were in Europe taking a cruise down the Rhine River from Basel to Amsterdam. I will be posting about each city now once we're home and all the laundry is done, the mail is sorted and I'm caught up on emails.

In the meantime, here's one I saved from when I went to visit my son’s family in Scottsdale AZ. There I was interviewed by Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz of Valley Beit Mitdrash about my upcoming book, "The Choice: A Novel of Love, Faith and The Talmud." As you can see, Rabbi Shmuly is a great interviewer and we had a great time. Here's how to watch it on YouTube.

Posted by maggie at 08:09 AM | Comments (0)