Tuesday, May 31, 2022

May 2022 Books #myLifeinBooks

 Jerusalem as a Second Language by Rochelle Distelheim - A really wonderful book exploring what it means to find yourself in a new place. It's about a Russian family that makes aliyah. Each family member experiences the change differently. My book discussion group loved this one!

If the Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy - The first of a new series of Disney-movie-based romance novels (this one is Cinderella) and I found it so fun! A clever and delightful retelling of an incredibly familiar story.

By the Book by Jasmine Guillory - The second of the Disney series, this one is Beauty and the Beast. Each one is written by a different author (she's one of my faves) and she did such a great job of working so many fun Disney details into the great retelling.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus - I think this is one of my favorites of the whole year, and we're only five months in! It was just....wonderful. Set in the 1960s, it features a woman-scientist-turned-cooking-show-host who bucks all the gender stereotypes handed to her. I couldn't put this down.

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff - Apparently, this is a classic AND a classic movie, and I loved it. It's a set of letters between the author and the whole staff of a bookshop in London. Delightful!

French Braid by Anne Tyler - I really enjoyed this woven-together family tale from the 1950s to the COVID-era. Figuring out what makes each family member tick is really a gift of this book. 

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams - the premise of this book made me giggle and it was well-executed. I think my only issue was that it felt like it was actually written to be a movie! 

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway - a little sad, a little sweet, and really a good story that I couldn't put down. Three siblings, all separately fostered or adopted, reunite and realize that family is both blood AND choice. (National Book Award winner)

Book Lovers by Emiily Henry - Yes, this was just as good as it should have been. It sorta made fun of its own genre a little but it totally worked! And there was a little fakeout at the end and I should have seen it coming but I was totally caught and therefore I loved the ending even more. 

I'm feeling a little behind on my reading goals for the year, but this month had so many good reads, I think I feel like I'm back on a roll. I have a whole "to read" list but it never hurts to add more....what should I read next?

Saturday, April 30, 2022

April 2022 Books #MyLifeInBooks

 

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert - a sweet and charming romance novel about a young woman with a chronic illness who is trying to explore the world, and along the way, falls in love! I really enjoyed this one. (A little on the spicy side, just FYI)

Oh, William! by Elizabeth Strout - a beautifully written book - a character study much more than a plot-driven story. It wasn't my favorite book but I know it was a "good book."

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera - the premise of this YA novel is that Death-Cast can call you any night between 12-3am and let you know that you're going to die that day. Two unrelated characters get the call and their lives begin to intertwine. While the title is true and therefore you'd think it was going to be depressing, it's really uplifting and lovely. 

Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison - You wouldn't think that a story about a landscaper who finds meaning and love in his life would be interesting and good, but it definitely was! A little sad, a little sweet, and felt full of truth. 

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir - my husband finished this book and insisted that I put down anything else and read this next. It was great! A little too many scientific details (I glossed over those) and I'm not sure I needed the potential alien-life-form-destroying-the-world worry, but a really compelling and engaging story about interstellar travel and friendship. 

The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn - Great historical fiction about a Russian female sniper who befriends Eleanor Roosevelt! It is based on a true story - and it was a great read.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

March 2022 Books #MyLifeInBooks

 

The Every by Dave Eggers - I couldn't put this down and I absolutely hated it. It's basically the story of our lives with computers and phones and the internet and it was terrifying.

Starfish by Lisa Fipps - a really wonderful middle grade novel-in-verse about a girl who is bullied for being overweight. A must-read.

The Tunnel by A.B. Yehoshua - I didn't love this book but I really liked the main character, and after a wonderful discussion with my book group, I really ended up liking it so much more. The portrayal of aging and dementia were really meaningful and powerful. 

The Good Son by Jacquelyn Mitchard - I felt like this one was a little too long and meandering. Also, I'm not sure that it really worked for me. That said, I grew to care about many of the characters...

Detransition Baby by Torrey Peters - Wow. This was on a lot of "best" lists from 2021 and I see why. A stunning portrayal of cis- and trans-women and the many elements of their lives. 

Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid - I needed something fluffy but this didn't really cut it for me. I was totally disappointed by the characters and the love story didn't feel believeable. 

A Sunlit Weapon by Jacqueline Winspear - The newest Maisie Dobbs novel was awesome. I love these books and I can't wait for the next one. Much like Gabriel Allon, I'm so happy when I can visit these characters each year, like old and well-loved friends.


#blogExodus #Exodusgram - 5782

 


Rosh Chodesh Nisan is on Saturday, April 2, 2022.

Passover beckons us. It calls....it reminds us....spring is coming. Renewal is coming. We are, all of us, a people with a future. The cycle continues. And, as always, Passover is here to offer a respite. I know that many people don't see Pesach in this way, as a resting moment, but I believe that it offers us just that - an opportunity to step back from the ordinary and to focus on something special, wonderful, and beautiful. 

It's easy to get caught up in the Pesach prep and to feel a bit of drudgery, a taste of the hard work imposed upon the Israelites. But there is spiritual preparation too, and that, I believe, is where BlogExodus and Exodusgram come in. 

So what is this really about? #BlogExodus is really what you want to make of it. I've provided topics for the first 14 days of the month of Nisan. What you do with it is up to you -- write a blog post, tweet, Facebook, tumblr, or something that I haven't even thought of yet! Use the hashtag to share your post (I put it into the title of each post). It's a great way to kickstart a blog or rejuvenate your languishing blog or just get yourself ready for the holiday of Passover! I will be posting my #blogExodus posts here on this blog and I will tweet them out at @imabima.

Maybe you don't have a blog? I'll post an "open thread #blogExodus" each day on my Facebook page as well, so you could just post your thoughts, photos, comments, or haikus there. Maybe you're a yogi? What about a photo of a different yoga post each day related to the theme of the day? 

There aren't any rules, so maybe you don't like the order of the topics? Maybe you want to write on only a few of them? It doesn't matter. It is what you make of it.

 #Exodusgram is a even more interpretive. While I love Instagram (I'm imabima, of course), I know some people don't. So maybe you want to share Exodus-themed photos via Facebook, Twitter, tumblr, or....whatever! My #Exodusgram posts will go up on Instagram and then be shared to my tumblr, imabima.tumblr.com. Whatever you do, don't forget to tag with #Exodusgram so we can all share. I'm also waiting for someone to take on #SnapTheExodus or #TikTokExodus? Challenge....

Grab and share my graphic and just jump right in!

The themes are really up for your own interpretation. I was thinking broadly and openly about what makes Passover special and interesting to me. I hope it will translate into creative and inspirational posts from all of us!

Are you going to join in? Leave me a comment here or send me a tweet or just...jump in! I will try to retweet all the #BlogExodus and #Exodusgram posts through Twitter via @imabima. If I miss your posts, let me know so I can go back and be inspired by what YOU have to say!

#BlogExodus #Exodusgram topics for 5782
1 Nisan - Launch
2 Nisan - Exalt
3 Nisan - Rise
4 Nisan - Cleanse
5 Nisan - Seek
6 Nisan - Retell
7 Nisan - Read
8 Nisan - Expand
9 Nisan - Perplex
10 Nisan - Join
11 Nisan - Celebrate
12 Nisan - Reveal
13 Nisan - Welcome
14 Nisan - Thank

 *Yes, I know that I put the Shabbat dates there. I don't blog/tweet/Facebook on Shabbat but I will post on Fridays before Shabbat and on Saturdays after Shabbat is over. You can, of course, do it any way you like!

Monday, February 28, 2022

February 2022 Books #myLifeInBooks

 

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan - this book was so disturbing and also so powerful. What defines a "good mother" and is it something you can quanitfy? Oh my. Read this? Don't read it? I'm not sure what to even say about recommending this. It is really good. And very disturbing. 

Playing the Palace by Paul Rudnick - oh I wanted this book to be great. It was just a pale version of Red, White and Royal Blue. It had all the right elements of a good romance...just...a little flat.

Dead Wednesday by Jerry Spinelli - I read this one because Solomon is reading it. I didn't realize it was really about dead kids (oy) but it ended up being an interesting story. I'm not sure how I feel about what actually happens in this town, where every 8th grader is assigned the name and story of a teen who died...and then these deaths are used to help them "make better choices"?! I found this all a little troubling. I finished it so I could talk about it with Solly (waiting for him to finish now) and hopefully I'll have better insight after an actual middle schooler tells me what they think of it.

What did you read in February?

January books

Monday, January 31, 2022

January 2022 Books #MyLifeInBooks

 

I'm back at it, reading and writing short notes on all the books (I hesitate to say "reviews" - more like a little comment on each one). 

So here goes! What have you been reading?

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion - when I saw that she had died at the end of 2020, I realized I'd never read anything by her. This was powerful and hard, but wow, what a writer.

Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny - I loved this book. It doesn't have a complicated plot, and there's no great mystery - just a somewhat ordinary life intertwined with some other lives, and told simply and beautifully. I was sad when it was over.

The Inheritance Games
The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes - the first two books in a trilogy (book 3 doesn't come out til August) that is comparable to the Westing Game and Knives Out - puzzles and intrigue and wealth and inheritance...I'm not sure I needed to read the second book, but I had a lot of fun while reading both. (the middle book of a trilogy is often the annoying one, right?)

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave - this was on a lot of "best of 2021" books and for some reason, I resisted it. But it came up in my Libby holds and so I dove in. It turned out to be readable and engaging, but a little far-fetched. I did end up enjoying it as long as I just leaned into the plausibility.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys - I really like when I can learn something completely new, in this case, about a terrible maritime tragedy during WWII. That said, I thought this book was convoluted and tried to do too many things at once, and so I felt like it ended up doing none of them very well. The characters felt flat and the emotion was confusing. 

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams - Loved this one! It seemed like it would be a fairly straightforward romance story, but it became so much more. I also want to be friends with Audre, the daughter. Highly recommend this one. 

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows - fun, silly, irreverent, a little fantastical, totally absurdist - a totally wacky retelling of actual Tudor history (okay, it takes a few liberties) and thoroughly enjoyable. Apparently, it's a series! But I'm going to move onto something else now. 

Our Woman in Moscow by Beatriz Williams - I liked this spy-ish novel, but it moved a little too slowly. It was more of a historical fiction trying to be a spy novel - I think I wanted more spy and less family drama. Still, an enjoyable read. (PS my dad says to tell you that he liked this one a lot)

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Books I read in 2021 #MyYearInBooks

The books just keep coming, people, and we'll never catch up. There are always more books to read than hours in the day and I know every time I pick up a book (kindle) that I'm NOT choosing several others in that moment! But...I really liked almost everything I read this year! 

As usual, a lot of mishmash here - I've decided that I'm definitely a fan of romance novels (yep, that's an announcement) and I still love YA and middle grade books so much. I can't gush enough about how wonderfully diverse these books have become, especially in the way of LGBTQ representation. Lots of Jewish books here, no surprise. I've also found some fun things over on TikTok's "booktok" - I love seeing how people put their favorite passions (reading! books!) into every form of social media. (You can find me on TikTok at imabima613)

Two final notes: I missed a book! I realized that I had never recorded that I read The Guncle, so I never wrote a review, and it never made it onto my list, until about a week ago. So...oops. Also, I decided to stop at 99 rather than get myself to the 100 mark and then feel like I could never reach it again. So....here's to reasonable and attainable goals! Also, everyone was posting their lists already and I felt a little bit of FOMO so....

Okay, so here's the list:

  1. When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn
  2. To Sir Phillip, With Love by Julia Quinn
  3. Sea Wife by Amity Gage
  4. It's in His Kiss by Julia Quinn
  5. Admission by Julie Buxbaum
  6. On the Way to the Wedding by Julia Quinn
  7. You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman
  8. Caste: The Origins of our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
  9. Dear Martin by Nic Stone
  10. The Inquisitor's Apprentice by Chris Moriarty
  11. Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum
  12. A Children's Bible by Lydia Millet
  13. A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum
  14. Every Stolen Breath by Kimberly Gabriel
  15. The Way Back by Gavriel Savit
  16. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
  17. The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly
  18. The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan
  19. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
  20. The Charmed Wife by Olga Grushin
  21. You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
  22. Send for Me by Lauren Fox
  23. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
  24. The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman
  25. Beheld by TaraShea Nesbit
  26. Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
  27. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
  28. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
  29. The Rose Code by Kate Quinn
  30. The Consequences of Fear by Jacqueline Winspear
  31. Adulting by Liz Talley
  32. The Children's Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin
  33. Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May
  34. The Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley
  35. The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson
  36. Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan
  37. Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon
  38. Rebel Daughter by Lori Banov Kaufmann
  39. Majesty by Katharine McGee
  40. The Lines Between Us by Rebecca D'Harligue
  41. Evening by Nessa Rapoport
  42. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  43. While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams
  44. Becoming Duchess Goldblatt by Duchess Goldblatt
  45. One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
  46. And the Bride Closed the Door by Ronit Matalon
  47. Raising A+ Human Beings by Dr. Bruce Powell
  48. Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland
  49. The Woman with the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff
  50. To Be A Man by Nicole Krauss
  51. Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado
  52. The Marrying of Chani Kaufman by Eve Harris
  53. How to Disappear Completely by Ali Standish
  54. The Chicken Sisters by K.J. Dell'Antonia
  55. Float Plan by Trish Doller
  56. The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer
  57. The Cellist by Daniel Silva
  58. The Assignment by Liza Wiemer
  59. That Summer by Jennifer Weiner
  60. While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory
  61. Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith
  62. The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
  63. Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  64. Verity by Colleen Hoover
  65. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sanchez
  66. The Queer Principes of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian
  67. When the English Fall by David Williams
  68. Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand
  69. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
  70. Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian
  71. The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang
  72. The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
  73. The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
  74. The Book of Jeremiah: A Novel in Stories by Julie Zuckerman
  75. The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles
  76. The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams
  77. I, Sarah Steinway by Mary E. Carter
  78. The Song of Achilles by Madeline miller
  79. The Best Place on Earth by Ayelet Tsabari
  80. Motherland by Vineeta Vijayaraghavan
  81. Beach Read by Emily Henry
  82. Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee
  83. The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams
  84. People Love Dead Jews by Dara Horn
  85. How to Find What You're Not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani
  86. Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin
  87. Israel by Noa Tishby
  88. Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
  89. Linked by Gordan Korman
  90. The Guncle by Steven Rowley
  91. The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante
  92. We are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza
  93. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
  94. Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff
  95. Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
  96. The Lost Things Club by J.S. Puller
  97. Flight of the Puffin by Ann Braden
  98. The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
  99. Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling

It's always really hard to choose favorites, but here are some of mine from the list above (I picked 1 per month) and I made a tiktok of them (I was going to write "cuz I'm cool that way" but I think if I'm writing that, I'm probably definitely not cool.) They might not be your favorites, but I liked them!

You Asked for Perfect
The Four Winds
The Rose Code
Firekeeper's Daughter
Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Fat Chance, Charlie Vega
The Matzah Ball
House in the Cerulean Sea
Hour of the Witch
Dictionary of Lost Words
The Reading List
Before the Coffee Gets Cold

Special mention: I have to put People Love Dead Jews on this list of "best" books I've read this year even though I might not say "favorite" to describe it. As you can see, I mostly read fiction but this one stood out and I can't stop thinking about it.  

Here are my monthly review posts:


I'm looking forward to starting new lists for 2022...I keep track of my books on Goodreads - follow me there. What do you think I should read in 2022? What are you going to read? What was the best book you read in 2021?

Previous years' book lists are here: