Sunday, April 7, 2024

#BlogExodus #ExodusGram 5784


Rosh Chodesh Nisan is Tuesday, April 9th.

This year is so different. Since October 7th, nothing has felt quite right.

And of all the holidays we've observed since Simchat Torah, Pesach is the one that I was able to celebrate Chanukah and Purim, but 

And yet - we will. We must.

We are told, each year, that we should see ourselves as though we came out of Egypt. That ability to imagine freedom kept our ancestors going through so many hardships of our history. That ability to hold a vision of a better future...and we will get through this dark time too.

We are a people with a future. Pesach reminds us of that. It reminds us that spring is coming, renewal is coming, and soon, we hope, peace is comign. 

I'll admit that I'm having a hard time picking out menus, feeling more desperate as the days pass and we await the return of the hostages and some kind of feeling that we're able to begin to heal. 

And yet...I'm also trying to find hope, to find normalcy in the cycle and rhythm of our year and our beloved holidays.

I spent a lot of time trying to decide if #BlogExodus and #Exodusgram should happen this year. And I decided yes, I would offer two different graphics and a list of prompts. As I say each year, the themes are open to your own interpretation, and they're words that can hold a lot of meaning in a lot of ways for different people. 

May this season of Nisan, of Pesach, bring us all hope and healing, and may we find blessing in each other along the way.

#BlogExodus #Exodusgram topics for 5784:
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!

Saturday, March 30, 2024

March 2024 Books #MyLifeInBooks


I've mostly moved on from the 2023 recommendations and now I'm into some new stuff. What is on your TBR list?

The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict - I knew nothing about Hedy Lamarr's story and this told it well. My complaint about her books is that they read too much like a wikipedia entry - meaning, not enough imagined insight into the character. Mostly a somewhat dry retelling of the life. I feel like a biography might have done better! 

The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Brammer - A book about a "death doula" but really it's a book about found-family, and I usually like those kinds of stories where there's a mishmash cast of characters who all come together to make their own worlds just a little brighter and better. Heartwarming and sweet. 

Life Intended by Kristen Harmel - a little bit like Sliding Doors, a what-if kind of story, but somehow not quite? I'm not even sure how to explain this book and the story, and that's how I felt while reading it also. But I kept going mostly because I couldn't quite figure out what the point was. (But it inspired me to watch Sliding Doors with one of my kids and that was fun!)

Meant to be Mine by Hannah Orenstein - cute premise but just a little bit uninspiring. 

The Phoenix Crown by Kate Quinn and Janie Chang - Oh! So good!! Really loved this historical fiction about the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. Very compelling, couldn't put it down. I love Kate Quinn's novels and now I want to go check out Janie Chang's. Sometimes a team-written novel can feel uneven but this one felt seamless.

Wings of Fire by Tui T Sutherland - I picked this one up because a fourth grader was reading the 14th or 15th book in this series and when I asked her if I should read them, she did say "well, the first 10 books aren't good but they get good in the last five." I suggested that I might start with book #11, but she was appalled by this idea and insisted that I needed to start at the beginning. I can see why she likes these books so much, it was delightful. I probably won't read all 15 but I feel like I would enjoy them...and I can't wait to see her at Hebrew School to give her my review.

Sword Catcher by Cassandra Clare - I loved this fantasy-romance-magic book. Hints of Jewish elements made me smile. But about halfway through, I realized that there is going to be a sequel, there has to be, and then I checked. I think I have a new personal rule - no more unfinished series! I feel very grumpy to wait to find out what happens next. Couldn't put it down but I'll just have to wait for the next one!

February Books
January Books

Thursday, February 29, 2024

February 2024 Books #MyLifeInBooks

I am steadily making my way through the lists of all the end-of-year recommendations from 2023...but it's hard when new books come out too! It's a neverending saga....

You Have a Match by Emma Lord - a not-bad YA book about finding a "secret" sibling through a DNA testing service. Sweet and a little bit forgettable.

The Maid by Nita Prose - I didn't know anything about this one going in, and I was glad for it. Loved the "found family" story and the mystery was good too. I think this is the start of a series, but I'm probably done for now. 

Thank you for Listening by Julia Whelan - Great story and characters, I really appreciated the insight into the audiobook world, and I was rooting for the love story! What more can you ask for? (P.S. I'm not really an audiobook listener, but apparently the author is a famous narrator.)

Have you Seen Luis Velez? by Catherin Ryan Hyde - I adored this book. The intergenerational friendship just brought me so much warm joy, and the story was just beautifully told. Don't skip this one. 

Drop, Cover, and Hold On by Jasmine Guillory - love me a good, simple, HEA (happy ever after) romance. I wasn't sure if this one "counted" since it was more of a novella, but other people put it on their lists so I decided, why not?

Amazing Grace Adams by Jean Littlewood - I wanted to love this and it started out strong, but I got a little bogged down in the middle somewhere and never quite found my way back to loving it. I had a hard time keeping track of everything and definitely didn't see the grief part of this story coming. Sigh. 

The Women by Kristin Hannah - It's hard to believe how little I actually know about Vietnam and how I don't think I've ever read a novel about it. This was raw and painful and entirely engrossing. Plus, it included Kristin Hannah's signature deep female friendships, which I appreciate. I'm still reeling from this one. 

January Books

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

January 2024 Books #MyLifeInBooks


New year, new books to read! 

The Island of the Missing Trees by Elif Shafak - Okay, I'll admit it, I get a little cranky about a book with a non-human narrator. This one was saved by that narrator only having periodic chapters. But this particular bias aside, this was a good book with an interesting story about Cyprus - I knew almost nothing about the history of this island! And the universal story about how we determine our identities and what is the meaning of home was really lovely.

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson - This book was ...quirky.... The jist of the story is that there are these two kids who burst into flames. And a woman is hired to care for them, but becomes a loving parent to them.'ll have to read this one for yourself to see if you like it.

Don't Forget to Write by Sara Goodman Confino - really loved this story about a young woman who gets caught kissing the rabbi's son (!) and it turns her whole life upside what turns out to be a great way. It was sweet and light, but also heartwarming. 

The Invisible Hour by Alice Hoffman - This was like two totally different books - the first part and the weird second part. I enjoyed the first part, and the powerful message that reading can help you to find personal freedom was appreciated. But the second part? So confused. And somewhat annoyed. I usually enjoy magical realism but this one threw me for a loop.

Kunstlers in Paradise by Cathleen Schine - Similar to Sara Confino's book above, a young person ends up in the home of an older one, only to learn deep secrets from the older person. (I'm sensing a trope here.) I look forward to discussing this one with our book group in February, if only to ask the question of whether we are ready for Covid19 Pandemic Novels. 

The Only Purple House in Town by Ann Aguirre - found family, casual magic, somewhat sweet romance...this was a little like eating a candy bar. Turns out it's part of a series, but I probably won't read the others. 

The Society of Shame by Jane Roper - Really liked this look at how "15 minutes of infamy" and the speedy news cycle in our crazy world lead to some ridiculousness. 

Can We Talk About Israel by Daniel Sokatch - I'm leading a discussion about this one next month, and there's a lot to unpack here. Readable, good background material, interesting perspectives. 

Yellowface by R.F. Kuang - Oh my. This book dealt with some major issues regarding race and appropriation - who gets to tell certain stories? whose stories get told? how do books get published and who decides what hits the zeitgeist and what doesn't? And truthiness certainly plays in. A powerful book, I couldn't put it down. (But it was a little like watching a slo-mo trainwreck. I knew it was going to crash...I just didn't quite know how.)

Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan - This felt like a classic Picoult, with a family drama/murder mystery/courtroom story all tied up with Issue Of The Day. Still, it was a good read and I was guessing until the end. (Also, my guessing was wrong, which means I should stick to my day job!)

Lots of good reading ahead in the rest of 2024, stick around! :-)