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.'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:

December 2021 Books #MyLifeInBooks

Oops, I didn't really read The Guncle this month. I read indeterminate number of months ago and I forgot to record it. So it never got a review but I loved it.

The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin - I loved this sweet story of an unlikely friendship between three total strangers with an environmental storythread. I was fascinated by the beekeeping and happy with the loveliness of the overall story. (And then I saw a beekeeper on TikTok and it was so cool to watch...but I'm still staying far away from the bees myself.)

Israel: A Simple Guide to the World's Most Misunderstood Country by Noa Tishby -  This book has been fairly controversial in that people of all stripes have said it's "biased" or "propaganda" and therefore I'm pretty sure that means it's probably not. That said, it is clearly written by an Israeli who loves Israel. Full of facts and history, it's written clearly and in a light tone. A great place to start if you want to understand more about what's going on in that little strip of land in the Middle East. *note that Goodreads only had a link to the audiobook, which is not how I read this book

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner - This book has made so many best-of-the-year lists! It's certainly a love letter to Korean food, and it made me hungry each time I picked it up - even when I didn't even know what a particular food was, I wanted to try it. It's a very personal story of coming-of-age, and grieving, and family dynamics - and I'm not sure that I loved it as much as so many others. I did feel like it was a really powerful read, however. 

Linked by Gordon Korman - A middle grade novel about a small town with a swastika problem. It was readable and interesting, and the twist at the end made it really powerful. It felt a little like the middle-grade equivalent of The Assignment, which I read in July. I highly recommend for all my young friends!

The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante - I know people LOVE the Neopolitan books but I could NOT get into them and I found the writing style too vague for me. This one's coming out in a movie and I decided to give it a shot. Totally disliked it entirely. Maybe I just didn't get it? Also, I can't even imagine how this is going to make a movie. But it has a great cast. So....?

We Are Not Like Them by Christina Pride and Jo Piazza - I liked it. It was interesting, emotional, and powerful. I was pretty sure where things were going and I did find it a little bit preachy. A worthwhile read but not at the top of my list.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire - I liked this YA book that flirts with the allegorical idea that children who are "different" are in some way really from other worlds, in other dimensions. Interesting, a little creepy....I liked the world-building but thought the mystery was wrapped up a little too neatly at the end. 

Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff - I loved this ghost-story-coming-of-age-grief story. Yep, it's all that and it wasn't confusing and it was really lovely. This is a middle-grade novel and perfect for a thoughtful young person or a grownup who works with young people. 

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi - wow, I loved this beautiful and simple book about time travel with a little twist. We can't change the past, we can't change the present, but we can change ourselves....

The Lost Things Club by J.S. Puller - This was a heartbreakingly sad book about a child healing from a terrible trauma, and also a reminder to adults that our language matters. Telling a child that a loved one who died is "lost" can be a euphemism that leads to tremendous pain. (Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.) I love the relationships in this book, though, and overall was a good and powerful read.

Flight of the Puffin by Ann Braden - Four kids and a ripple-effect healing/kindness movement made this a wonderful and fulfilling read. Beautifully written and a strong look at different kinds of kids and how they really will heal our world. 

The Keeper of Lost Things - A sweet story, with a somewhat predictable ending. I liked seeing it all come together...

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling - when you ask your young friends for their favorites, and then you read them. This is a story about a girl born without arms, and how she makes her way in the world. Maybe a little heavy-handed (it is middle-grade, though) but really delightful and creative book!

January Books
February Books
March Books
April Books
May Books
June Books
July Books
August Books
September Books
October Books
November Books

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

November 2021 Book #MyLifeInBooks

The Best Place on Earth by Ayelet Tsabari - I loved this short story collection, all about mizrahi Jews, mostly Yemeni. It was beautifully written, and the stories were riveting. I keep saying I don't like short stories, but maybe I do. I liked this one!

Motherland by Vineeta Vijayaraghavan - I read this book because my daughter was reading it for English class, and it was really good. It felt "out of my box" but also very familiar - a story about an American young woman, born in India but raised in the US, who doesn't feel like she belongs in India when she's there and feels out of place in the US often too. I also kept looking up different food and clothing items, and so it was a fun learning process!

Beach Read by Emily Henry - I liked this predictable romantic comedy!

Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee - A book mostly about design and spaces, but helped me think about how we bring joy to lots of parts of our lives. My teachers always hear me talk about "joyful Judaism" and so I liked seeing this from another joyful angle too.

The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams - This is a wonderful novel about the power of books to bring people together. An unlikely friendship and a library. What more do you need?

People Love Dead Jews by Dara Horn - wow. I appreciate so many of these chapters putting into words all of the frustration and anger that I often feel when reading the news or a Holocaust novel. I know I plan to re-read some of these chapters, and the world looks different now. Thank you, Dara Horn, for this gift of a book.

How to Find What You're Not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani - An interesting follow up to People Love Dead Jews, this book was one of my favorites of the year so far. Historical fiction set in the 1960s about a Jewish family. Add in an undiagnosed learning disability and a sister who runs off to marry a Hindu man, and it all really came together. The style was so interesting and I couldn't put it down. 

I feel so accomplished when I see this list growing from month to month:
January Books
February Books
March Books
April Books
May Books
June Books
July Books
August Books
September Books
October Books

Sunday, October 31, 2021

October 2021 Books #MyLifeInBooks


The Book of Jeremiah by Julie Zuckerman - I really liked this book of linked short stories about a guy named Jeremiah - and I think the book discussion group enjoyed it too. My favorite part was how the stories were actually told completely out of order, but it just worked.

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles - just a delightful read. What a great author. I loved the characters, loved the story, and I didn't want this one to end.

Dictonary of Lost Words by Pip Williams - I never really thought about the development of the Oxford English Dictionary but it made for a great read. I loved the way the words in (and not in) the dictionary were really like their own character in the story. 

I, Sarah Steinway by Mary E. Carter - Someone described this book as "charming and quirky" and I'll agree with the quirky part. I did like Sarah and the style of writing, but I like a little more plot in my stories. The post-apocalyptic setting made my hair stand on edge because it felt so possible. Sarah's method of coping with a flooded world is to turn to Torah, and it definitely made for a quirky, quick read.

Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller - I will fully admit that I didn't remember the story of Achilles as told in the Iliad. This was a particularly readable and wonderful adaptation of the story, and I so appreciated the love story between Achilles and Patroclus. 

January Books
February Books
March Books
April Books
May Books
June Books
July Books
August Books
September Books

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Books in September '21 #MyLifeInBooks


Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro - what is humanity? what does it mean to love? This is a lyrical book that explores those questions. Did I like it? I'm not sure. Am I thinking about it still? Yes. 

Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian - I've never read a book that had so much to do with forks. My whole family heard me talking about "the fork book." Other than this oddity, I really enjoyed this one!

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang - I really like these romance stories by this author. There's always such a different and interesting perspective. I found myself aching for the main character, and so happy for her too. 

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner - I'm a little bit over books that bounce between modern and historical. This one had a good concept but was a little boring, predictable, and a little annoying.

The Thousandth Floor by Katherine McGee - Basically "Gossip Girl" in a futuristic setting...I didn't realize that it was the first of a trilogy but let's just say that I don't even feel like I need to read the rest of the series. 

January Books
February Books
March Books
April Books
May Books
June Books
July Books
August Books

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Books in August #MyLifeInBooks

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune - I really loved this story, which felt both real and allegorical all at the same time. What a beautiful way to talk about loving people for who they are. 

Malibu Rising by Taylor Reid Jenkins - Great family drama story, breathlessly waiting to find out how it all came together. 

Verity by Colleen Hoover - people LOVE this book but I did not. I do like romance novels, but this was a "romance thriller" and let me tell you, those two things did not marry well for me. I had a pretty good idea of how the twist might play out, and I was just reading to find out if my hunch was correct.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez - An interesting look at an immigrant family struggling to find their place in Chicago. A tough story that felt full of truth.

The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian - This one somewhat underwhelmed me. I think I kept wondering "is that historically right?" and some of the story lines felt a little too modern for the 18th century setting. The love story was interesting but the rest of the plot was a little plodding.

When the English Fall by David Williams - File this under "TikTok made me do it" since I saw a review of this one on that platform (yep, just outed myself there). I have always read dystopian-world-ending literature but tried to put it on hold during the whole ACTUAL pandemic scenario, but I picked this one up because the premise was so interesting. What would happen to the Amish community if the world ground to a halt? Interesting, sad, and a good read. 

Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand - I have not read ALL of her books, but I have read several. This one was a little....odd. I'm not sure this book needed the paranormal element. Without it, it might have still been an interesting family drama. The paranormal just felt...unnecessary. Okay, I said it. 

January Books
February Books
March Books
April Books
May Books
June Books
July Books

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Books I Read in July #MyLifeInBooks

I'm sure you're wondering where my drawings went - just ran out of time this month!

How To Disappear Completely by Ali Standish - a sweet middle-grade book about a girl with a skin condition and her grief over her grandmother, and the whole combination was warm and wonderful to read.

The Chicken Sisters by K.C. Dell'Antonia - two sisters, two competing chicken restaurants, and a reality TV show - this book was fun and sweet, and it made me hungry. 

Float Plan by Trish Doller - This book was about grief and starting over, and figuring out what your life is like when you've planned it around what someone else wants. How do you make that dream your own...or change it? If the chicken book made me hungry, this one made me want to see the world. But not on a boat, that makes me seasick.

The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer - I was given an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) of this book and I LOVED it. I'm newer to loving the romance novels, and this one had the whole formula down, with really good Jewy elements. Super fun, there were some great "inside baseball" jokes, and while it probably won't be up for any of the big Jewish book awards, it was definitely one of my favorites this year.

The Cellist by Daniel Silva - Each year, these books greet me like an old friend. And this one didn't disappoint. The formula is great, the story was timely, and I am glad to know that Gabriel Allon is still out there in my fictional world, making sure we're all safe. I was not disappointed with this year's installment in his tale.

The Assignment by Liza Wiemer - This is a YA novel about high school kids given an assignment to argue in favor of the Nazis' Final Solution. Some of them protest the assignment, and it gets some national coverage. Along the way, these kids learn a lot about themselves and their town - with some great conversations about how we learn about history and how we live in our stories. A tiny bit after-school-specialish, but maybe that's because it reminded me of The Wave. I really liked it and I recommend it highly!

That Summer by Jennifer Weiner - it seems like Jennifer Weiner bounces between fluffy and serious books. This one was one of her more serious - an exploration of how one high school night could impact several lives forever. A good read!

While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory - As I've said - big new fan of the romance genre. Jasmine Guillory's books are so much fun. This one did not disappoint. I loved this set of characters, and I was so happy to lean into their slightly improbable love story. I love how she links the stories, so I can't wait to see who the next character to find love will be....

Field Notes on Love by Jennfer Smith - a sweet story about one of a set of sextuplets who sets off on a cross-country train ride with a total stranger and...well....I'm guessing you can tell what happens based on the title. Delightful read. 

January Books
February Books
March Books
April Books
May Books
June Books

Saturday, July 24, 2021

#BlogElul #ElulGram 2021


#BlogElul is a project that I started in 2010, although it wasn't until 2012 that I created the list of topics. Since then, I haven't always completed the whole month of blogging, although I know that many of you have. I also know that the online world has changed so much since 2010, when blogging was one of the only ways to publish your online content easily.

Now we have FacebookTwitterInstagram, SnapChat, and other many ways in which to express ourselves and dive deeply into the themes of the High Holy Days. And so here we are….I've added #ElulGram to the #BlogElul family and the borders of this project are so wide that they reallly don't exist at all. This project is really whatever YOU want - however YOU want to spend your time preparing yourself for the holiest season in the Jewish calendar.

Elul -- that wonderful and terrifying month that precedes the High Holy Days. A month of introspection and considering, a month of personal reflection and preparation.

Who can participate? ANYONE. It's yours. I gift it to you. Elul is for anyone and everyone.

How could one do it? You don't have a blog… No worries. Maybe you have Facebook or Twitter? Maybe you're a big fan of Instagram? Be creative and find your own path! Maybe you don't want to do it daily. Maybe you just want to dip your toe into the experience, or just read (and share?) what others write. It's totally up to you. I always love to see the creative things that the #BlogElul community comes up with.

There are no rules. I provide the topics (see graphic or below for text) for each of the days of the month. Use the hashtag to share your post (I like to put it in my titles) and share other people's posts as well. This could be a way to revitalize your blog, kickstart a new project, or even just get yourself ready for the holidays! I know that lots of people use #BlogElul as a spiritual exercise each year, and I'm so proud to be a part of their yearly journey through Elul.

And what about #ElulGram? This one is even more interpretive. Photos, art, illustrations, quotes -- what kinds of images can you put together to explore and interpret these High Holy Day themes? You don't have to limit your picture-sharing to Instagram (even though I totally appropriated the name), you can use any image-sharing site you'd like, such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. Whatever you do, tag it with #ElulGram so we can call share and follow.

These themes and ideas are broad and open, and again -- remember, there are NO RULES except the ones you make for yourself!

And yes, I know that the dates include Shabbat. I personally don't blog/tweet/Facebook on Shabbat, but I will post before and after Shabbat. You can do whatever you like!

Are you going to play along? Let me know! Leave me a comment here, send me a tweet, or send up a signal fire.... Feel free to grab my pretty badge to announce to the whole world that you're Blogging Elul. If you let me know that you're doing it, we can cross-post, or guest-post, or even just do some virtual hand-holding as the days grow closer to Tishrei. I'll try to link to as many posts and pics as I can - won't it be amazing to all share in the Elul journey together?

I'm looking forward to sharing this journey with you. Elul begins on Monday, August 9th (it's always on time), so I wanted to give you a head start if you're going to pre-write some of your posts. 

I hope that our shared preparation for 5782 brings meaning and hope, inspiration and enlightenment for all of us.

The list:
Elul 1: Decide
Elul 2: Seek
Elul 3: Prepare
Elul 4: Choose
Elul 5: Commit
Elul 6: Want
Elul 7: Understand
Elul 8: Hear
Elul 9: See
Elul 10: Forgive
Elul 11: Trust
Elul 12: Count
Elul 13: Remember
Elul 14: Learn
Elul 15: Plan
Elul 16: Pray
Elul 17: Awaken
Elul 18: Ask
Elul 19: Speak
Elul 20: Fill
Elul 21: Love
Elul 22: End
Elul 23: Begin
Elul 24: Hope
Elul 25: Change
Elul 26: Create
Elul 27: Bless
Elul 28: Give
Elul 29: Return

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Books I Read June 2021 #MyLifeInBooks

Becoming Duchess Goldblatt by Duchess Goldblatt - one reviewer called this book "charming," and it was. It's a little bit sad and a little bit sweet and totally fascinating and fun. To be honest, I hadn't followed her before on Twitter, but I found the whole thing to be funny and lovely. 

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston - if you enjoyed Red White and Royal Blue (by this author), know that this book is different. It is bascially a time-travelling queer romance meets Nancy Drew. Yep. Which makes for an interesting, albeit reality-suspending, read. I think it was a little too long and I am looking forward to seeing where this author goes next. 

And the Bride Closed the Door by Ronit Matalan - I think I need to discuss this book with a group, so if you've read it, let me know. It is short and snappy, and it has gotten good reviews....but I'm not sure I actually understood all of it. 

Raising A+ Human Beings by Bruce Powell and Ron Wolfson - this book made me want to move to LA and put my kids in this high school. A lot of great stuff in here about how to think about kids and values and creating community....I will be unpacking this one for a long time. 

Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland - this book read like a movie - I can almost imagine the screenplay is already written. Two families who run a Catskills resort come back together to decide what to do about their aging property. I hate to say it, but the title is a little bit of a giveaway. Oh well, I still enjoyed it! 

The Woman With the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff - this is another nice piece of historical fiction from Pam Jenoff. The story revolves around two women in occupied Krakow during the war. One is hiding in a sewer with her family, and the other helps them out. There are endless tales of bravery and resilience from this historical period....

To Be a Man by Nicole Krauss - these are short stories (not usually my jam) and each one was exquisitely put together. I don't usually want to revisit books, but I really hope I get to discuss this one with my book group this year so we can dive into several of these stories. 

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado - I loved this book about a teenager who is working to celebrate her body and live in a world that just doesn't. I appreciated the perspective and haven't been able to shake some of the big ideas inside Charlie's head. 

The Marrying of Chani Kaufman by Eve Harris - An interesting look at London's ultra orthodox community, but a little flat or two-dimensional. The characters didn't have a lot of depth so it was a little tough to fully process their motivation. It was a quick and enjoyable read, however. 

Up til now...
January Books
February Books
March Books
April Books
May Books

Monday, May 31, 2021

May 2021 #MyLifeInBooks

Rebel Daughter by Lori Banov Kaufmann - I liked this historical fiction based on an inscription on a old grave! A young Jewish woman survives the Roman conquest of Jerusalem and the story is fascinating. I was told this is YA, but I think it reads more as a grownup book.

Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon - a sweet story about two teens who have been friends forever...and as they try to navigate their relationship along with a kidney donation between them. I'm a fan of this author, and this one was very readable and enjoyable!

Majesty by Katharine McGee - The sequel to American Royals, and I was totally disappointed. I wanted to see what would happen next in the story, but it turns out I didn't really need to know. I just felt like it leaned too far into some boring romance tropes. If you liked American Royals (I did) you might prefer to skip this one!

The Lines Between Us by Rebecca D'Harlingue - Okay, so I read this one thinking it had some Jewish content and it really didn't (until about 75% in, even though I had hunches, it wasn't overt). Aside from that, it was a well-written book with an interesting and compelling story. 

Evening by Nessa Rapoport - Told over the course of a week of shiva for the main character's sister, this was not especially plot-driven but a really good character study. I'm usually "in it for the story" but I couldn't put this one down!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid - This book was like a feast! I loved it. I loved the interwoven tales, and I loved the twist, and I loved the whole thing. Read this one.

While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams - this was good, interesting, and very compelling. I admit to being a trifle lost in the technical aspects of some parts of the story (genetic research is a little over my head) but I read around that and it was great. I look forward to seeing what else this talented woman can do!

The rest of 2021:
January Books
February Books
March Books
April Books

Friday, April 30, 2021

April 2021 Books #MyLifeInBooks

 Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan - loved this sweet (pun intended) story about Rosie, who finds her way into her great-aunt's candy shop business. I really liked learning all about British candy! And of course, predictably delightful love story. 

Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson - this was a fascinating premise for a book, and I had listened to the Nerdette Book Club podcast so I had a little bit of insight before I read the book. I liked the world-building and character development, but I did think the book was much too long...

Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley - I loved this book! I couldn't put it down - it had so many interesting elements about the Native culture in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. At the end, the author's note said that she was trying to write a "Native Nancy Drew" and that is exactly what it felt like! 

Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May - a fascinating personal memoir about the power of periods of dislocation. This book has gotten a lot of play in this dislocating times and it felt like the perfect book to read during this period of enforced isolation. 

The Children's Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin - I remembered learning about this story and I thought I had a pretty good idea of how this story was going to end, but to be honest, it was so well done that it kept me completely engrossed all the way through. It was well-told and a really beautiful story of human endurance.

Adulting by Liz Talley - This was a quick read, about a movie star who is just getting out of rehab and works with a "life coach" - it's mostly predictable but was still a fun book to enjoy.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

March 2021 Books #MyLifeInBooks

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris - I'm always looking for fun and light things to read in between the tougher books. This was suggested to me and I enjoyed it...but I don't feel any compulsion to read more of these. But if you like this! (Also, Yael is into a couple of vampire shows and so I have been half-watching with her and so this was fun. I remember that I liked the Anne Rice vampire books and of course there was the Twilight series....)

Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman - This is billed as a Middle Grade novel, but it reads a little darker and deeper than that. I've never read anything fictionalized about the Chernobyl disaster and this was powerful and memorable. 

Beheld by TaraShea Nesbit - Highly recommended from the 2020 lists, I had big expectations for this book about the Plymouth Colony...but I was somewhat disappointed. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either. It was just...okay. 

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman - I fully admit that the start of this book actually MADE me anxious! The writing was so good that I FELT the anxiety of the characters pouring off of the page. Once I got through that, the book was marvelous and the payoff in terms of the story was excellent. 

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu - I loved this one! Such a great story of female empowerment :-) Can't wait to see the new movie. 

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo - Do you like books that are written in verse? This one is written in a kind of free verse poetic style that I very much enjoyed. A really compelling story about two girls who both experience grief after the death of their father.

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn - I am a fan of Kate Quinn's books and I really like historical fiction! This one is about Bletchley Park, the famous code-breaking facility during World War 2, and it was really intriguing and enjoyable. I did feel like it took a loooong time to get to the end and then the ending felt a little rushed. But I liked this one a lot.

The Consequences of Fear by Jacqueline Winspear - this is the newest book in the Maisie Dobbs series. Maybe you'll recall that I read almost the whole series in 2018, and I was so happy to have a new book about my favorite British detective. It was a little weird reading the book while thinking about The Rose Code, which I had just finished - there was even a mention of the "code breakers" in passing. The books were precisely the same time frame, from two totally different perspectives. Anyway, I loved it as always and I won't spoil the ending but I'll tell you that it made me happy.

The rest of 2021:
January Books
February Books

Sunday, March 14, 2021

#BlogExodus Day 1: Launch

Last year, we launched Pesach in a whole new way.

And we were certain, absolutely sure, that we would never need to launch Pesach this way again.

And yet, here we are. Even less certain about where we are at all!

Do we gather with those who are vaccinated? Do we sit outside? Do we share the escape from Egypt together, apart, on Zoom, or some combination of all of these?

But what I said last year is still true:

And yet, we launch Nisan. Because the calendar doesn't slow down or stop. Because Passover is, at its very core, a celebration that we always need, even in the midst of darkness. Even when we are scared and worried and anxious and afraid, even when our focus is elswhere, the calendar launches us into Nisan.

So just for today, take a breath. Organize a thought. Consider the next step.

Friday, March 5, 2021

#BlogExodus #ExodusGram 5781 - 10th year!

Rosh Chodesh Nisan is on Sunday, March 14, 2021. 

What a year it's been, since we last gathered here for BlogExodus. Last year, we were in a totally disbelieving state of mind. No one could even imagine that we were going to spend our Seders in a "lockdown" and I am pretty sure we all imagined that we would be together again this year.

And yet, for most of us, we are still in Mitzrayim - we are still in the narrow space of this terrible global pandemic that has taken so many lives. But still....Passover beckons. It comes for us, reminding us that the cycle of our calendar continues. It is here to offer a respite, perhaps, from the ordinary, and, just like it did last year, give us something bigger than ourselves on which to focus.

And so, enter: BlogExodus and Exodusgram.

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, Pinterest or....whatever! My #Exodusgram posts will go up on Instagram and then be shared to my tumblr, Whatever you do, don't forget to tag with #Exodusgram so we can all share. (Note for some of my colleagues: this might make a fun teen project...who's up for #SnapTheExodus?)

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 5781
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!

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.