Sunday, February 28, 2021

February 2021 books #MyLifeInBooks


A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum - Powerful story about generations of Arab women living in America. It was very difficult to read, and to imagine how this story was received within the author's own community. Much to discuss in here! 

Every Stolen Breath by Kimberly Gabriel - a young adult thriller set in Chicago, it was appropriately creepy, scary, and riveting.

The Way Back by Gavriel Savit - This was one of the Sydney Taylor Award winners (Notable Book) and I try to read as many of those as I can! It falls into the category of magical realism, which I usually like, and this was good. I got a little tangled up in the allegory and metaphor near the end, but overall it was enjoyable. The shtetl setting, the ton of Jewish supernatural imagery, it all made for a rich world!

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah - a story of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, WOW. I'm a big fan of her books, and especially her historical fiction (read Winter Garden, please). Also, it feels like everyone I know is reading this book. Definitely a winner.

The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly - Three different time periods, one garden. I really liked each time period, and I liked seeing how they came together to create a lovely story. I may have glossed over some of the gardening details, but the rest was enagaging.

The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan (I read an advance copy of this book, it's not out yet) This is a funny premise for a book - a young rabbi brings a former-sex-worker-turned-internet-sex-educator to speak at his synagogue. You can imagine what happens next. I thought it felt like a balanced portrayal of some of the challenges faced by rabbis AND sex workers! It's a romance novel, so buyer beware, but a fun read. (A tiny bit preachy at the end, but what can you expect from a book about a rabbi?!)

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover - did NOT expect for this to be as good, powerful, and message-driven as it was. I honestly thought it was just a sweet romance novel until I was deeply invested. A really important story about how relationships are cyclical and how we can break out of patterns to stop domestic violence. 

The Charmed Wife by Olga Grushin - loved this book - it seemed, at the beginning, to be a re-told fairy tale. But it's so much more - so many threads and so many ways that the reality and fairy tale are woven together. It was a little breathtaking. (P.S. except for the mice. I didn't get that part and basically just skipped through that.)

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson - So many great elements in this book that surround a town obsessed with their prom. I giggled at the internal gossip-girl-style social network and the way that it was integrated into so many aspects of the life of the school. My goodness, high school stories are so much richer than they ever were in the past, and I am so grateful for the wonderful tapestry of YA literature! 

Send for Me by Lauren Fox - A short, readable story of mother-daughter pairs. There's not much that's new here in terms of pre-war Germany story, but I still found it compelling and readable. Plus, I liked the Milwaukee connection.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

January 2021 Books #MyLifeInBooks


Last year, I decided to write monthly reviews of the books I've read and I enjoyed doing that so much that I am hoping to continue into this year! Oh, and this month, I also drew all the covers. We'll see if that lasts from month to month...

So here's the January list. What are you reading?

To Sir Philip with Love by Julia Quinn
When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn
On The Way To the Wedding by Julia Quinn
It's In His Kiss by Julia Quinn - apparently, sometimes I can be a completionist, because I felt a strong need to finish the Bridgerton series. Although they were somewhat formulaic and predictable, they were also delightful reading candy. 

Sea Wife by Amity Gage - as a "family at sea" in the current world, I felt such a draw to this actual family at sea story. I get terribly seasick but I even found myself wondering what it would be like to spend a year on a boat. It was beautiful and terrible and gorgeously written. 

Admission by Julie Buxbaum - A re-telling of the Varsity Blues scandal, from the viewpoint of one of the teens. The character felt a little too blind to her own privilege, and yet that blindness felt pretty real and true, also. One of my favorite authors. 

Caste: The Origins of our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson - wow. Can't stop thinking about this one, if only for the commitment to changing our linguistic patterns around some of the biggest ideas / issues in our country. Looking forward to her keynote at the CCAR convention!

Dear Martin by Nic Stone - Important and gut-wrenching read. I appreciated that the author did not overuse the letter-writing and the growth of the characters was remarkable. I am grateful to live in a world in which all stories get told. 

Hope and Other Punch Lines by Julie Buxbaum - One of the few 9/11 books I've read, and this one examined grief, survivors' guilt, with a dose of teenage humor. Apparently, I've had this one on hold for a little while (I forgot) and it came up shortly after I finished reading Admission! 

You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman - a recommendation of my Confirmation students, I loved this book. It felt like such an interesting counterbalance to Admission, since this was about a student who was working very hard and worrying about their admission to school in a different way. I am so appreciative, aware, and fascinated by the amount of LGBTQ love stories in YA literature today. 

The Inquisitor's Apprentice by Chris Moriarty - I just finished reading this one aloud to Solly. We enjoyed it, even though I think it was a little slow-going! It was a fun alternative-history re-imagining of New York City with magic. And there's a sequel! So we'll read that one next. (Also this was a PJ Our Way selection, but I think it would have been hard as an independent read for Solly, a 4th grader)

A Children's Bible by Lydia Millet - So this is the time of year that I'm reading off of all the lists of books recommended at the end of the previous year. I have no idea who recommended this book, and I knew nothing about it as I started reading it. It was weird and chilling, and it definitely kept me up at night. It's a combination coming-of-age, generational divide, and climate change cautionary tale all in one. A really great book, even though it totally gave me nightmares.