Rivka as Paul Bunyan

Paul Bunyan, usually accompanied by his blue ox, Babe, is a legendary lumberjack from North American mythology. Since he’s a folk hero with reported superhuman qualities, it seemed like a perfect fit for a Rivka cosplay. (Besides, making Paul Bunyan a Jewish woman is almost as much fun as making Siegfried a Jewish woman.)

Tall tale

Rivka and her dragon are from these books, light-hearted feminist fantasy novels set mostly in the tropics. Above art by Rebecca Schauer.

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BBW violin star takes the stage in diverse NA romance

Esther, a popular young music star, is one of the lead characters in A Harvest of Ripe Figs. When her priceless violin is stolen after a performance in the capital city, the queen herself even gets involved in the search.Esther with hibiscus

She’s a fat woman depicted as pretty, healthy, and without any references to dieting or weight loss in her narrative. She even ends up at the center of a love triangle, choosing between her law student boyfriend and a friendly instrument dealer – who just happens to be one of the queen’s suspects.

In the words of nonhoration:

I don’t think I’ve ever read an author who describes fat characters as beautifully as Shira Glassman does. In most books that even bother to feature fat characters it seems like the characters are either evil, a joke or they’re somehow tragic like “she was fat but she had a pretty face” or something. I had to stop for a second while reading A Harvest of Ripe Figs because the description of Esther as a beautiful fat woman kind of knocked the wind out of me.

Esther picking hibiscus

drawings by Becca Schauer on commission.

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The press likes to pit lady musicians against each other, but that’s not how music works

Esther and Liora, the two violin stars from A Harvest of Ripe Figs. Popular gossip would paint them as rivals, but women don’t have to compete — they can work together and enhance each other, and be talented in different ways.

Esther and LioraArt by Rebecca Schauer

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Think of England: Edwardian gay suspense novel with Jewish romantic interest

If Alfred Hitchcock had made a movie where one of the two leads was an effeminate gay Sephardic Jew – snarky, intelligent, dark-eyed and handsome – and then invited us, the audience, to love him and root for him – you’d have Think of England by KJ Charles.

The plot is basically: disabled English war vet visits sinister country home to uncover whether or not the incident that destroyed his hand and his company was orchestrated by another Englishman. While there, he meets my adorable fictional tribemate, who’s after Hitchcockian goals of his own, and together they go up against certain death in hopes of exposing everyone involved.

When you start out the book the MC is very much an unreliable narrator so expect some reptilian language when describing Daniel DaSilva, the Jewish guy – but that’s okay; gentile MC learns pretty quickly how the world really works. Speaking of Jewish reptile tropes turned on their ear, it really resonated with me the way Daniel had such a thick layer of self-protective armor around him because my literal Jewish reptile, dragon-shifting wizard Isaac from my own books, is the same way. I guess when a people gets used to being attacked for literally millennia it develops a special kind of emotional armor.

I very much appreciated the way the author’s description of the MC falling slowly in love with Daniel seemed like love and not just attraction – he didn’t just obsess about his looks or his body or the way his voice sounded, but also on inner qualities like “I wish he was here so I could see his reaction to this thing”. That takes skill. Thank you, Writer.

The book has a HEA/HFN but only after Daniel does some stuff that I find personally irritating but make sense for the character. I’m not gonna go into it because I don’t think my extremely personal preferences belong in this kind of review.

Also, this is a spoiler but I don’t care because it’s important to me: buy this book because lesbians save the day. Seriously, a book where one of the leads is a gay Jew and Lesbians Save Everything (and make it out alive?) What are you even waiting for :P

(Trigger warning that the ending is a little bit like a Tarantino movie, but, hey… and trigger warning for some of the bad guys being anti-Semitic but it’s, like, trust me, it’ll be okay.)

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Snake cuddles

Look at this adorable picture of Rivka snuggling with Isaac in his python form someone called Trekkiemage drew for me!

Snek

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Jane Eyre? Jane Austen? No, it’s the girls from The Second Mango, Regency-style!

The f/f backstory in The Second Mango, done up as a Regency romance AU by Becca Schauer. So, here we have a grand estate, in which the sickly daughter of the house is falling in love with the cook who’s helping her figure out which foods she can eat safely.

Regency lesbians

Aviva is the cook, and that’s Shulamit there on the left, watching her.

(And everyone is still Jewish. There was a historical Jewish presence in London!)

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The baby princess with two moms

Happy Mother’s Day this weekend from the two-mom family in A Harvest of Ripe Figs, a fantasy novel that shows that happily ever after doesn’t mean the end of the adventures, and that there are different ways to be a mother.

Naomi

Picture by puhshsquared.

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