Sunday, July 31, 2022

July Books I Read #MyLifeInBooks

(Sorry there are no links today, GoodReads was down!?)

Windy City Blues by Renee Rosen - I loved this book because it was full of historical things I never knew about the music industry and Chicago...I kept looking things up to learn more about my city! I thought it was a good story. This one made the cut for my synagogue book club this year too!

The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd - This was a really interesting story. I am a big fan of the "magical realism" - things seem perfectly normal and then there's just a dash of magic...I like books like that. This one was also a bit of a mystery, so it was compelling and I couldn't put it down!

Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover - Okay, let's establish that I've read two other books by this author and I'm not the biggest fan. But at camp...some of the teenagers were trying to convince me that she's the Best. Author. Of. All and so I made them tell me their favorite (this one) and I read it while they were on a canoe trip. It wasn't terrible. It was a little bit sad and very predictable, and it filled a few nice hours of reading while I was waiting for....

Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Daniel Silva - always one of my favorite days of the year when the new Daniel Silva comes out! Gabriel Allon is older now, and he's retired. But somehow he still got involved in solving a big mystery. And it was awesome. Like putting on your favorite sweater. I loved it! I was supposed to hear him speak last week but something came up and I had to miss it. Always a delight!

Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman - I liked this sweet romance about a journalist who interviews her celebrity crush. It was romance-novel-predictable. I liked the casual Jewishness of the main character, mentioning Shabbat dinner in passing, for example. A quick and enjoyable read.

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

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Books I Read in June 2022 #MyLifeInBooks


The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett by Annie Lyons - I really loved this really lovely and moving book about how we create family and what our lives mean. Perhaps a tiny bit heavy-handed, it was still delightful to read.

True Biz by Sara Novic - I liked everything about this book except the way it ended - abruptly! But other than that it was a great story and really continues to have me thinking about how we communicate in the world, and what an incredible road the Deaf community has paved and continues to walk. 

To Night Owl from Dogfish by by Holly Goldberg Sloan, Meg Wolitzer - I liked this "parent trap" style story told in letters between two girls whose dads fall in love...it was suprisingly long for a middle-grade novel, but definitely enjoyed!

The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez - Apparently this is a sequel! But I didn't know that until I was done, and it was fine without the first book. I liked it. I'm not sure the musical element "mattered" to the story but I liked it overall. 

May Books
April Books
March Books
February Books
January Books

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)