February 2022 Wrap Up

Welcome to my February Wrap-Up! I managed to cross another twenty-five titles off my reading list and am already two-thirds of the way to my reading goal for the year.

I’ve had the opportunity to review five wonderful books this month and have included links to my weekly reading lists as well. Join the conversation. Comment on your favorites and make suggestions of books I should consider for my list.

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Book Reviews



Hands of Gold: One Man’s Quest to find the Silver Lining in Misfortune by Roni Robbins

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Based in part on real events, Roni Robbins’ novel follows the life of Sam Fox, a character based on a Hungarian grandfather as he navigates a tumultuous life in the early 20th century. Sam and his wife Hannah’s lives a filled with secrets from their past which they’ve kept from their children. The book focuses on Sam’s efforts to come to grips with his history and finding silver linings in his tumultuous past.

Robbins is a brilliant storyteller, incorporating detailed and moving scenes throughout the narrative. The book is an intimate look at her large extended family while remaining relatable to anyone who is a descendant of immigrants. Each character is a distinctive thread woven into the whole of this story. I especially enjoyed the description of the romance between Sam and his wife, which led to a marriage spanning six decades.

I was engrossed from beginning to end. This is a truly inspiring story of triumph over tragedy and a life well lived.

I’d like to thank the author for the free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Wolf Catcher by Anne Montgomery

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Kate Butler maintains her investigative journalism career by freelancing. Her latest project, focused on the discovery of a tomb in the Arizona desert, is near Flagstaff. Artifacts found at the site indicate the individual buried was a magician. When inconsistencies in the magician’s appearance raise questions about his origins, Butler is carried back in time to when a volcano changed the landscape of the high desert. But her investigation is not without its perils as she faces the black market world of antiquities sales.

Montgomery crafts a very well-researched narrative with some interesting twists and turns. I found myself getting increasingly invested in the story through the duel storyline, incorporating elements of tribal life into the modern investigation of Kate Butler and the archeological team.
Kate Butler’s character has a nicely layered complexity. The story is very well-paced, reaching a page-turning, action-packed climax to the end. I enjoyed the relationship between Kate and Cooper.

This story has all the elements of a great suspense drama centered around a historical mystery. I’d like to thank the author for a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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Shmuel’s Bridge: Following the Tracks to Auschwitz with My Survivor Father by Jason Sommer

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Seven decades after arriving in New York from war-torn Europe, Jay Sommer is losing his memory, erasing stories of his family, his escape from a labor camp, the important memories of his past. This has his son, Jason Sommer, reflecting on the trip he took with his father in 2001 to retrace his father’s steps across Eastern Europe and to visit the place where members of his family were murdered, Auschwitz.

This is an incredibly touching memoir that seeks to serve two purposes. The first is to preserve the story of Jay Sommer, a survivor the Holocaust. The second is a son’s search for understanding of and connection to his father. A relationship made more complex as the result of generational trauma.

It was very moving to see the growth in connection between father and son as they made their way across Eastern Europe, as they made discoveries and recovered Jay’s buried memories of lost family members.

I’d like to thank the author for the free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. Shmuel’s Bridge is scheduled for release on March 15, 2022.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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The Foundation of Judaism by Akiva Aaronson

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Let’s start with the back cover description of this book: “The fundamentals of Judaism in one book! The Foundation of Judaism deals with the basics of Judaism ― Jewish thought, Jewish history, Jewish year and more, in one succinct yet comprehensive book. Written in a clear and readable style, with a wealth of maps and charts, it has been widely acclaimed as an essential teaching aid and a vital asset in every Jewish home and school.”

My first thought was, that’s a lot of information to pack into a single volume! This book must be twice the length of Seltzer’s Jewish People, Jewish Thought (which is well over 700 pages). So I was even more intrigued when I received a very neat, compact volume of about two hundred pages.

This book more than lived up to its description. If you’ve been looking for an easy to understand reference to all things Judaism, here it is. Complete with maps of key journeys in the biblical narrative, timelines approximating the dates and associated authors of the books of the Writings and the Prophets, timelines of key events in Jewish history. Even the basics of reading Hebrew.

This is a book that is perfect for any Jewish library, from Hebrew school students to those studying for conversion to a Rabbinic library. I highly recommend this book and look forward to continuing to use it as a quick reference guide during my own studies.

I’d like to thank publicist Stuart Schnee for a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Prophetess by Evonne Marzouk

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When Rachel loses her grandfather, a survivor of the Shoah, during her senior year of high school, she finds herself seeking answers to questions with no one to answer them. The rest of her nuclear family is not observant of their Orthodox faith. Rachel finds herself with a large number of questions and no teacher from whom to seek answers. That is until she meets Yonatan at High Holidays service. This chance meeting changes the shape of her life.

Rachel’s story encompasses a number of themes within this coming of age tale. It’s a story of love, grief, and self-discovery. It is primarily geared toward young adults but given it deals with some very big emotions and life-shaping events I felt it resonated well, as an adult reader. Marzouk does a nice job of interweaving concepts of Jewish mysticism at an introductory level.

This book would make for an interesting discussion in a confirmation or youth group setting. It presents thought-provoking themes about finding personal meaning in ritual and the individual soul’s purpose in this world, with the protagonist gaining understanding of her abilities as a prophetess. While it’s not explicitly discussed in the narrative, I appreciated the underlying elements of the principle of Tikkun Olam.

I’d like to thank the author for a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

February’s Weekly Reading Lists

Want to Play a Game?

Make planning your next reading list fun and easy! Download a free copy of Reading Bingo! Thirty fun ideas for selecting your next read.

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My Writing This Month

[February Featured Short Story] Closing Time by Heidi Slowinski

Monthly Short Story Feature One of my writing goals for 2022 is to create more short stories. They’re a good creative exercise and sometimes lead to bigger ideas for novels. Or who knows, maybe an eventual collection of short stories in the form of a new book. The story I’ve selected for this month is […]

Celebrating Diversity – Books by Black Jewish Writers

This month, in honor of Black History Month, I wanted to bring you a reading list featuring books by Black Jewish Writers. The Jewish community is a rich tapestry of many diverse voices and our literature is reflective of that. I’m looking forward to adding these books to my own reading list and learning more […]

February Update from Author Heidi Slowinski

This month, I’ve continued my goal to incorporate more stories and articles. My short story feature this month, entitled “Closing Time”, features a female bartender locking up for the night when something unexpected occurs. Or does it? Also, in celebration of Black History Month, I compiled a list of books by Black Jewish authors. Links […]

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January 2022 Wrap Up

Welcome to my January Wrap-Up! I managed to cross twenty-five titles off my reading list and am already one third of the way to my reading goal for the year. I’ve had the opportunity to review three wonderful books this month and have included links to my weekly reading lists as well. Join the conversation. […]


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