Saturday, December 31, 2011

Seriously!? One more book?

Just after I posted my "Books of 2011" list, I had a thought that perhaps I had forgotten a book or two. After all, that happened to me last year too.

And then I read Leah's post of the books she read (check out her cool graphic) and I exclaimed "Wait, I read that one too!"

So I really read one more book last year. Argh...I don't like incomplete lists. I wonder if I forgot any others.

Do any of you remember me reading anything else!? Thanks for your help.

Oh, the additional book was The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Annual Book Post - 2011 List

Welcome to my fourth annual Books I Read in the Last Year post.
Here's the books from 2008, from 2009, and from 2010.

Since 2008, I've been keeping a list of the books I read. It's actually helpful since I can't remember anything and so when someone asks me what I've read lately...I have nothing to say. Which is so silly since I have definitely read something lately. So now I keep the list in this post yearly, but also in Google Docs so I can access it from my phone. I have a few friends who share the Doc with me...which I suppose is my own version of GoodReads, which I fail to update regularly ever.

I'm trying not to get hung up on the fact that I only read 68 books this year. (I'm actually in the middle of what would be both 68 and 69 but the pressure got to be too much, so they will be 1 and 2 for 2012, I guess!) I had a busy patch in the fall when I didn't read many books...there was also a nursing baby who didn't let me get much sleep...

And now, onto the list. The books I read in 2011:
(K = Kindle, *=Library Book, YA=young adult)

1.Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (K)
2.The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa*
3.Debt Free for Life by David Bach
4.Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (K)
5.One is Not a Lonely Number by Evelyn Krieger (young adult)
6.Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos*
7.Term Limits by Vince Flynn*
8.Someone Called Eva by Joan M. Wolf* (Young adult)
9.A Time to Love by Barbara Cameron (K)
10.Hush by Eishes Chayil (K) (young adult)
11.Spousonomics by Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson (K)
12.Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua (K)
13.A Scattered Life by Karen McQuestion (K)
14.Favorite by Karen McQuestion (K)
15.Life on Hold by Karen McQuestion (K)
16.Her Perfect Revenge by Anna Mara (K)
17.Community by Peter Block
18.Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy*
19.A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness*
20.Lies I Told My Children by Karen McQuestion (K)
21.Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene*
22.The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane (K)
23.The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen*
24.Light Fell by Evan Fallenberg*
25.The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom*
26.The High King of Montival by S. M. Stirling*
27.Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein*
28.Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano*
29.Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
30.Never Let Me Go by Kazuro Ishiguro (k) (I guess this is young adult)
31.The Lost Art of Reading by David Ulin*
32.Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares (k)
33.Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (k)
34.Portrait of a Spy by Daniel Silva
35.State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (k)
36.The Safe-Keeper's Secret by Sharon Shinn* (YA)
37.Divergent by Veronica Roth (k) (YA)
38.The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (k)
39.The Truth-Keeper's Tale by Sharon Shinn* (YA)
40.Night Road by Kristin Hannah (k)
41.The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman*
42.The Dream Maker's Magic by Sharon Shinn*
43.Gateway by Sharon Shinn*
44.Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks (K)
45.Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn (k)
46.Bumped by Megan McCarthy (k) (YA)
47.Possession by Elana Johnson* (YA)
48.Suddenly in the Depths of the Forest by Amos Oz*
49.Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson (K)
50.A Long Vacation by Jules Verne*
51.Take Me With You by Carolyn Marsden*
52.Kindred Spirits by Sarah Strohmayer*
53.In the Garden of the Beasts by Eric Larson (k)
54.Luminous by Dawn Metcalf* (YA)
55.Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (k)
56.Shine by Lauren Myracle*
57.Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson (k)
58.Delirium by Lauren Oliver (k)
59.Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (K)
60.Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater*
61.The Wedding Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini*
62.Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
63.Blessings and Baby Steps by Ilana Grinblat
64.1000 Mitzvahs by Linda Cohen
65.Out of my Mind by Sharon Draper
66.The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card
67.Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
68. The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma

I have stopped making predictions of what I hope to read in the future, because it seems like when I say that I'm planning to read a book...I manage not to do so. Therefore, I'll just tell you what I'm in the middle of - 11/22/68 by Stephen King and also A Matter of Magic by Patricia Wrede.

So, what did I like this year? It was a pretty good year for reading! Two of my favorites were right at the beginning - House at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet as well as The Housekeeper and the Professor. I definitely recommend both of those! I liked A Discovery of Witches and I'm waiting patiently for the sequel (I think it comes out in July). Sarah Addison Allen is one of my favorite authors, and she is usually good for a book each year. The Peach Keeper did not disappoint me. Now that I read back over the list, I almost have to tell you which books I didn't like rather than ones that I did, because I really enjoyed so many of them. Language of Flowers, Unbroken, The Red Garden, Night Road, Divergent....I say it again, it was a good year for reading.

So what's on your bedside table? What do you think I should read in 2012 that I haven't read?

If you want to follow along, I track the books over in the left-hand sidebar of my blog throughout the year. I'm also on GoodReads but, like I said, I seldom rarely never update it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Chanukah 5772 in pictures

lighting lights
eating treats
family togetherness
celebrating freedom

I hope your Chanukah was as warm and bright as ours!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Miracles and Faith

Who Is This?

I found this picture of Sam floating around the kids' bedroom.
It was taken when he was four months old:
But it looks so much like Solly that we had to see them next to each other:

The creation of genetic likenesses and differences is truly remarkable to me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Our Chanukah History

While taking out the Chanukah decorations, chanukiyot, dreidels, and books from the Chanukah box, we "found" all the things that the kids have made for Chanukah over the years.

Thus, a new tradition is born:

And then we found this one, which their Ima made a looong time ago.
So they insisted on taking my picture with it:

But I couldn't resist also taking a picture of the back.
Yep, I was a documenter of things even then.
How do you document your family traditions and memories?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

8 Nights of Giving #HanukkahHoopla

What's HanukkahHoopla? Thanks to Renee for her great idea to set this up! Make sure you follow our hashtag (#HanukkahHoopla) on Twitter because over the next 8 days, we're all going to be posting great Chanukah content - 16 different bloggers!
I hate to break it to everyone, but Chanukah really isn't about gifts. There are a number of themes that have developed over time, but at its core, it's about standing up for what you believe in and freedom of religion. So in that spirit, I'd like to kick off my participation in the #HanukkahHoopla by highlighting 8 organizations that celebrate freedom.

1. The Agahazo-Shalom Youth Village: I believe that education is one of the highest pillars of freedom. This Youth Village provides a safe place and an education to orphaned youth in Rwanda. It was founded by a Jewish couple who wanted to have an impact on the world, and their project was picked up by the JDC, making it viable and successful.  You can donate here.

2. Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind: I'm not a big fan of animals, and dogs make me (achoo) sneeze. But I do see their immense benefit in certain situations, in particular for the blind. Talk about offering freedom to a person locked into a world of dependence! This organization helps pair people with dogs, train dogs, and raise awareness.

3. Yad LaKashish - Lifeline for the Old in Israel: You've probably heard of this organization, which offers empowerment to elderly and disabled people in Jerusalem by creating a safe workshop where they create beautiful artwork.

4. Dress for Success: This is a great organization that helps to empower women who are entering the workforce and might not have the appropriate attire for job interviews or work. What a great way to instill freedom, to help someone to get a job for themselves.

5. Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute: OSRUI is the Reform Jewish camp that serves the midwest region and provides an amazing Jewish experience for over a thousand Jewish kids and young adults each summer and year-round. I believe that Jewish summer camp is the ultimate in offering freedom to our campers - the freedom to become empowered Jewish adults. (Maybe you want to find a URJ camp in your own region? Click here.)

6. Israel Sport Center for the Disabled: Did you know that Israel is on the cutting edge of wheelchair sports training? We all know that sports empower kids and adults - imagine how much more if that child or adult is wheelchair-bound? I have met some of the athletes from this Center and I was so impressed with their poise and confidence.

7. Jewish Heart for Africa's Light Up Africa Chanukah Campaign: Did you know that $20 provides electricity for one person in Africa for LIFE? That is amazing. This organization is using Israeli technology to provide water and electricity in Africa. Think of how freeing it must be to have light and water when before you had none.

8. - Okay, so this isn't one specific organization. But is the ultimate in Tzedakah freedom. Let yourself loose on this website and you will most definitely find an organization or cause that speaks to you. Give your family members the gift of the freedom of choice by allowing them to choose a recipient for the tzedakah dollars that you give to them. A really great opportunity to learn and give at the same time.

How can you use this list? Make your own donations. Use this list as a jumping off point to other organizations. Discuss these ideas with your friends and family and make your own lists. Coming up later in the week - Chanukah gifts of action...(And here's a post linking your gifts of tzedakah to the recipient's interests...)

AND NOW...a Chanukah giveaway! 

One lucky reader will win a great gift package from Mama Doni and Streit's:

Mama Doni’s Shabbat Shaboom CD
Mama Doni poster
Download card for free Mama Doni songs (1 Chanukah song and 1 Passover song)
Bag of Streit’s Chanukah gelt.

I would like to thank Streit's and Doni Zasloff Thomas a.k.a. Mama Doni, the lead singer/songwriter of The Mama Doni Band for providing each of the 16 bloggers involved in #HanukkahHoopla with a little cyber-swag. Their cross-promotional alliance is designed to celebrate Jewish culture with the young generation, a mission of both Mama Doni and Streit’s.

How can you win? Leave me a comment. What is your favorite Tzedakah organization? 

Be sure to leave me your email address (some people like to type it like this: "imabima (at)" which saves you from spam)

On January 5, 2012, I will select one winner at random. 

Prefer to be contacted via Twitter? Leave your Twitter handle in your comment and I will tweet you if you win.

Not interested in winning? You can still leave a comment! I love to read your words. Just write: "No prize necessary" in your comment.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dastardly Dames {Review}

I cannot wait for my daughter to be old enough to love these books.

Even just the title of the series makes me happy: "The Thinking Girl's Treasury of Dastardly Dames."

How cool is that? Dastardly has a great ring to it.

I always had a fascination with Marie Antoinette. I loved the stories of her lap-of-luxury royalty life and was properly horrified by her cavalier attitude toward the poor.

This book from Goosebottom Books' series reminded me how much I enjoyed reading historical fiction and other stories about the French queen.

The blood-spattered pages add drama and the illustrations are colorful and eye-catching.

The other stories are the same way -

Cleopatra, Serpent of the Nile
Mary Tudor, Bloody Mary
Agrippina, Atrocious and Ferocious
Cixi, the Dragon Empress
Catherine deMedici, the Black Queen

I can imagine these books providing historical inspiration to so many young ladies who may not see themselves in the history books. They call themselves "fun non-fiction" but each book also has a thorough teacher's resource guide.
These are a great set of books, and I think they'd make a really lovely gift for a "thinking girl." I have a few in mind myself and let me tell you, I sincerely hope that I can raise one in my own household.
(The only downside of these books? I tried to convince David to read them and help me out with this review but the word "girl" on the cover turned him off a little. I think he would have found them to be really interesting, he loves history. I will keep working on it...)

Full disclosure - I received a set of these books from the publisher for review. I am planning to donate them to our school library, where I'm sure they will be well-read and enjoyed!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Where has my baby gone?
He's turned into a toddler...
My life is full of blessing.

Friday, December 2, 2011

And then she rested...

I did it....NaBloPoMo - a full month of daily blogging. Okay, I think I missed one...and it was a little bit of an accident. Not bad! I think this was my fourth or fifth time doing it, and it's a great challenge.

And then...a short rest.

Shabbat Shalom!
I'll be back on Monday with some more reviews, and some Hanukkah Hoopla coming your way soon too!