Sunday, June 15, 2014

Carnival of Jewish Books – June 2014 / Sivan 5774

Read, written or reviewed a great Jewish book lately?  These bloggers have! 

Welcome to the June / Sivan Carnival of Jewish Books, a monthly roundup of all things bookish in the Jewish blog world.  I’m going to quote one of the previous hosts here: 

If you blog about Jewish books, you can play too! Visit the Jewish Book Carnival HQ for info about submitting your links to upcoming carnivals.

Let’s hop on a magic carpet and take a tour of what’s happening in Jewish book blogging this month.

~~~~~ * ~~~~~

From ancient times…

imageVisiting Jerusalem, I have often walked past (or on) a street mysteriously called “Shlomtzion HaMalka” and wondered who she actually was.  I may finally have an answer.  On her Book of Life blog, Heidi Estrin recently sat down for an interview with Judy Petsonk, author of the historical novel, Queen of the Jews, “the story of Queen Shalom-Zion, a descendent of the Maccabees.”  Listen to the full audio interview here.

image Recently, Jill at Rhapsody in Books reviewed the novel Storm by Donna Jo Napoli, which is a retelling of the story of Noah from the Old Testament.  Read her review here.  She says, “The book is interesting not only in and of itself, but because of the controversy it has generated among reviewers.”


And European roots…

imageCaren Osten Gerszberg interviewed Judith Fein over on the Your Life is a Trip blog about Judith’s new book, The Spoon from Minkowitz: A Bittersweet Roots Journey to Ancestral Lands .  Judith says, “Each bite of food was a confirmation, an affirmation: this was, indeed, the world my people came from.”  Read more about her journey here.

…To the New World and Israel.

image At Susan’s Literary Cafe, Susan reviewed Liana Finck’s graphic novel A Bintel Brief: Love and Longing in Old New York, rich with old stories from the Yiddish newspaper The Forward.  She writes, “The stories seem to come to life.  Some of the stories, are sad, funny. The stories all relate to assimilation to American life. This is a keeper.”  Read Susan’s full review here.

image On My Machberet, Erika Dreifus interviews Faye Rapoport DesPres, author of a new memoir-in-essays, Message from a Blue Jay, about an essay focused on travels in--and thoughts about--Israel.  Faye says, “every Israeli I have ever spoken to wishes that Israelis and Palestinians could co-exist in peace. They pray for peace… an Israeli Arab pharmacist helped me buy medicine for a cold sore… one Israeli cousin… came to the States to be a counselor at a special summer camp for both Palestinian and Israeli children designed to build the chance for coexistence. And the western media doesn’t show this.”  Read all about her and her book here.

From modern Jewish life…

image At Shiloh Musings, Batya reviewed Spark Ignited: The Difficult Journey to Orthodox Judaism, a new book by Michaela Lawson and Ashirah Yosefah, about the complicated journey from Christianity to observant Judaism.  “The personal stories I read in the book were amazing. The converts had to work so hard to convince the Ministry of the Interior and the Rabbis in the Conversion program that they were sincere in their wanting to be Jews and that they no longer believed in Jesus.”  Read her full review here.

imageTwo posts from Kathe Pinchuck, former Sydney Taylor awards chair, this month.  She says, “I had a great day in Jerusalem attending a writing workshop and then visiting Urim Publications.”  Join her in that post here.  She also took advantage of the Omer and Shavuos period as opportunities to sneak in a mini-review of Leah Schapira’s recent (and apparently delicious!) dairy cookbook, Dairy Made Easy.  You can read that here.

imageOver on the Jewish Book Council’s Prosen People blog, Shira Shindel interviewed writer Eve Harris about her new novel, The Marrying of Chani Kaufman (a book I just read over Shabbos).  Eve says teaching in a Haredi girls’ school “gave me a fly on the wall view of a world that I would never have glimpsed if I hadn’t been teaching there. That year was truly transitional for me. I’m not saying I became more religious in the sense of keeping more observances; I didn’t, but it was fascinating.”  You can read the full interview here or Shira’s review of the book here.

…To the practice of writing itself.

image Writer and illustrator Ann Koffsky, author/illustrator of Frogs in the Bed: My Passover Seder Activity Book, who now works at Behrman House Publishers, has put together a list of tips for authors to support their own book.  These days, even with a mainstream publisher, writers have to do a lot more of the work of promoting their book than they would have at one point.  Read all of Ann’s great tips for how to do this over here

image The Whole Megillah’s Barbara Krasner featured an interview with Fig Tree Books editor-in-chief, Michelle Caplan, who says, “The American Jewish experience is a rich and broad category with a long history of compelling literature as well as an area that many talented contemporary writers are dynamically exploring. Our goal is to make Fig Tree the first place readers turn to in order to find new voices as well as classics that will still appeal to current readers.”  Read the whole interview here.  Also from The Whole Megillah comes an interview with memoirist Martin Goldsmith, who writes about his trek to trace his grandfather and uncle aboard the ill-fated MS St. Louis in Alex’s Wake: A Voyage of Betrayal and a Journey of Remembrance.  You can see the full interview here

And finally, over to me.  I really was planning to have a new post up all about… something utterly fascinating, to do with Jewish books.  I will actually be running a cool mini-interview with children’s writer Eric Kimmel in the very near future, but didn’t have a chance to write it up in time.  image Hashem apparently had other plans for how I should spend the last week.

So I have instead shared this post about writing holiday books (including books for Jewish holidays).  “In… Penguin Rosh Hashanah… I wanted to go beyond the idea that “it’s all about family, friends, giving, or loving” – because those things are common to almost every holiday.”  Read Part I of this 2-part series over here.

~~~~~ * ~~~~~

Thanks to all the bloggers who submitted links, and to you for stopping by to read them. July’s Jewish Book Carnival will be hosted by Susan Curtis at Susan’s Literary Café. Click here for the entire schedule.


  1. Thank you for hosting. I love the way you organized the diverse selections by theme.

  2. Ditto the previous comment. You did a really beautiful job curating this one. Thank you!

  3. This was my intro to Carnival of Jewish Books... what a wonderful post! Thank you.

    1. Thanks so much, everybody (belatedly). I love hosting carnivals, and tying things together in a fun way. Enjoy!


As always, I love to hear from you.