ARC Review: Code Name Edelweiss Book Review

History is full of lessons that are there for us to learn from. The question is, can we learn from the past or are we too stubborn/afraid to see it?

Code Name Edelweiss, by Stephanie Landsem was published this month.  Liesl Weiss is a single mother living in Los Angeles in the early 1930s. Without her husband, she is the sole caretaker of the young children and aging mother. Though her younger brother lives with them, he cares more about himself that the family. When she loses her job, everything goes to pieces.

A wanted ad leads her to Leon Lewis, a Jewish lawyer who believes that Nazis have infiltrated Hollywood and are planning to use it to spread their message. But the powers that be are putting their focus elsewhere. Without any other options in sight, Liesel accepts his offer to spy on her friends and neighbors. What starts out as a mere paycheck turns into a realization that there is a dangerous undercurrent that could destroy the country.

Based on a true story, this book is amazing. Part spy thriller and part historical fiction, it is one hell of a ride. From the word go, the danger is in the reader’s face. I love Liesel as the main character. She is a woman walking a tightrope that could tear at any moment. Torn between her conscience and doing what she needs to do to keep her family afloat, Liesel has to make a choice that could put everyone she loves in danger.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. I would even go as far as to say that it is one of my favorite books of 2023 so far.

Code Name: Edelweiss is available wherever books are sold.

Thank you to Netgalley for the ARC review copy.

Advertisement

The National Day of Hate is a Warning We Ignore at Our Own Peril

Red flags exist for a reason. They tell us that something is coming up that we need to pay attention to. If we choose to look away, we may not be able to prevent disaster.

Today, according to some Neo-Nazi groups, is supposed to be the National Day of Hate. As of last night, there were no specific locations or people named as targets. That does mean, however, that we should not be on our guard.

Across the country, Jewish institutions and law enforcement are on high alert.

If this is not the sign we need that antisemitism in the US (and the rest of the world in general) is right in front of our faces, then I don’t know what else needs to be said. I don’t want to be an alarmist unless it is necessary. But this is a necessity. It is akin to the Nazis burning books in the 1930s while the other nations remained silent.

Like many Americans, I was taught to believe in a nation of tolerance, equality, and understanding. While it is not all sunshine and roses, I still hold some hope that our ideals can still be achieved.

Today, that hope has faded a little. I don’t want to give in to the haters, but being afraid to go outside is a sure sign that they have won. The only way to stop them is to come together and say that they are not welcome in this country.

If they think that they have won and I will change to fit their perspective, they are wrong. I a Jew and I am proud of who I am. If you don’t like it, you know where you can go.

Gangsters vs. Nazis: How Jewish Mobsters Battled Nazis in WW2 Era America Book Review

For the most part, the bad rap that the mafia gets is for a good reason. If what the media says is true, their activities obviously cross moral and legal borders. But what happens when their “work” helps to make the world a better place?

Gangsters vs. Nazis: How Jewish Mobsters Battled Nazis in WW2 Era America, by Michael Benson, was published earlier this year. As the antisemitic temperature rises in Europe in the 1930s and the Nazi‘s vision of the world spread, many Americans remain silent.

The only ones who are not afraid to speak up (and knock a few heads) are members of the Jewish mob. In different cities across the country, they sent the message that the Nazis and their American allies would not be tolerated.

I loved this book. It was a fun read. It came off not as a standard history book, but as a fun ride through an era that was dark and difficult. It has an Inglorious Basterds vibe and an opportunity to live (and fight) vicariously through the narrative.

Eli Roth Brad Pitt Gif GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Gangsters vs. Nazis: How Jewish Mobsters Battled Nazis in WW2 Era America is available wherever books are sold.

P.S. I am trying to not sound alarmist, but America in 2022 is scarily becoming Germany in 1939. A recent online survey among employers revealed that 25% of hiring managers will set aside certain applicants simply because that person is Jewish.

All Creatures Great and Small Character Review: Diana Brompton

The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television show All Creatures Great and Small. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

Sometimes the best couples can be described as yin and yang. What one person lacks, the other makes up for.

In the PBS/Masterpiece television series, All Creatures Great and Small (based on the book series of the same name), Diana Brompton (Dorothy Atkinson) is an unusual woman for 1930s Yorkshire. She is a divorcee who is vivacious, outgoing, and does not care what others think. Personality-wise, she is the complete opposite of anxious and out-there Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West). Their potential coupling represents a change for the widowed Siegfried, who has focused on his work since his late wife’s passing.

Unlike other women of her era, Diana is not afraid to speak her mind or tell a “dirty” joke. Though some might think she is “unladylike”, her charm and easy sociability quickly win over her detractors. Ahead of her time, she represents a future in which females are free to act as they wish without being called names.

To sum it up: It takes a bold person (especially a woman) to step out of the circle of what is expected of them and be confident in who they are. It is Diana’s belief in herself that makes her stand out and speak her truth without fear.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

This will be my last character review post for All Creatures Great and Small. Come back in two weeks for the next group of characters that I will be reviewing.

All Creatures Great and Small Character Review: Hugh Hulton

The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television show All Creatures Great and Small. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

If we are lucky, we find the one we are meant for when we are young. But as romantic as that ideal is, being with one’s childhood sweetheart forever is not always possible.

In the PBS/Masterpiece television series, All Creatures Great and Small (based on the book series of the same name) Hugh Hulton (Matthew Lewis) is a wealthy landowner in Yorkshire in the 1930s. Growing up with Helen Alderson (Rachel Shenton), their relationship changes as adulthood approaches. Youthful games turn into mature love. An engagement follows and it seems that their future is sewn up.

But just because we make plans does not mean that they turned out exactly how we want them to be. The arrival of James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph), the new assistant of Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West) develops a crush on Helen. That crush turns into affection, which Helen eventually returns. Instead of following through on her promise to marry Hugh, Helen follows her heart.

It would not be surprising if Hugh used his power and influence to wreak havoc on James and Helen. Instead, he accepts that Helen has found love with another and moves on with his life.

To sum it up: Hugh could have been easily written as the wealthy baddy who uses his power to get Helen back and take revenge on James. Instead, he takes it like a man.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem Series One Part One Review

Family is complicated. Marriage is complicated. We can only do our best and hope that it is good enough.

The new Netflix series, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem, is based on the novel, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem: A Novel, by Sarit Yishai-Levi. The first half of the first series is set in the 1920s and 1930s. It follows the women of the Ermoza family, a Sephardi Jewish family living in Jerusalem. Gabriel (Michael Aloni) is in love with another woman but is forced to marry Roza (Hila Saada), by his mother Merkada (Irit Kaplan). He tries to be a good husband and father but is not exactly dedicated to his family. Almost twenty years later, their eldest daughter, Luna (Swell Ariel Or) is growing up in a time of political tension and struggle.

I don’t recall if I read the book, but the first series is fantastic. Set against the backdrop of British-controlled Palestine (i.e. pre-1948 Israel), the emotional conflicts within the Ermoza family collide with the heady and complicated world events of the era. It is fantastic, immediately grabs the viewer, and does not let go until the final credits roll. If nothing else, it reveals a side of history in this region that is not often talked about in the mainstream press.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

The first season of The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem is available for streaming on Netflix.

P.S. The second season is scheduled to be released sometime in July. I eagerly await its arrival.

Best New TV Shows of 2021

*I apologize for the delay in posting. I should have written this before New Year’s Eve.

  1. Loki: Tom Hiddleston shines once more as Loki, the complicated immortal who has become much more than the standard antagonist. Forced into new circumstances, he goes on a journey that forever changes him.
  2. The Wonder Years: This reboot of the beloved 1980’s/1990’s series is just as poignant as its predecessor. The choice of making the main character and his family African-American only adds to its relevancy.
  3. Law & Order: Organized Crime: This spinoff of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit starring Chris Meloni as returning Detective Elliot Stabler is a thrilling and spine tingling hour of television.
  4. Ordinary Joe: This new NBC series is the story of one man and three distinct life paths before him. Told concurrently and using different colors for each decision, is is a reminder of how one choice can affect the rest of our lives.
  5. Impeachment: American Crime Story: The latest chapter of this long running F/X series focuses on the affair between Monica Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein) and former President Clinton (Clive Owen) and the impeachment trial that followed. Instead of focusing on Clinton, the story is about the women who were directly affected by his less than honorable actions.
  6. WandaVision: This first foray by the MCU via DisneyPlus is everything it promised to be. Wanda Maxmioff and Vision (Elisabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany) are living in family sitcom wedded bliss. But it not what it seems to be. With a star making turn by Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness, this series is a must see.
  7. All Creatures Great and Small: Ths unexpectedly Masterpeice/PBS series is adorable and charming. A rookie vetenarian starts his career in rural Yorkshire in the 1930’s and grows in unexpected ways. The new season starts tonight at 9PM ET/ 8PM CT.
  8. Atlantic Crossing: This second Masterpeice/PBS series tells the story of the friendship/supposed affair between Franklin Delanor Roosevelt and Crown Princess Martha of Sweden during World War II. Forgotten for nearly a century, this tale of one woman’s drive to save her nation is truly worth watching.
  9. The Book of Boba Fett: This latest entry into the Star Wars universe from DisneyPlus just premiered on December 29th. Though only two episodes have been released, it is already asking questions that are begging for answers.
  10. Behind Her Eyes: Based on the book by Sarah Pinborough, this six part Netflix series about a married man’s affair with his secretary has a delicious ending that is jaw dropping and completely out of left field. Few endings have wowed me as this did.
The Simpsons Television GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
%d bloggers like this: