Monday, March 28, 2016

Reading Challenge 2016: The Gifts of the Jews

Week 13: A book you own but never read

The Gifts of the Jews 
(Hinges of History Book 2)
by Thomas Cahill

What a Letdown

I had high hopes for this book. I mean, I agreed with the premise of the book going in, so what's not to love?

A lot, it turns out.

I almost didn't make it past a couple chapters in because of the porn scene. Um, not what I signed up for! Cahill could totally clue me in to the (possibly) sexual nature of ancient Sumerian worship/sacrifice without giving the detail he does. I felt like I was back reading the final chapters of DaVinci Code. Ugh. I was concerned that kind of thing would be throughout the work, but thankfully there's just that one occurrence in the book. I did think he included too much sexual detail other times, though, and he used crude language unnecessarily.

Those issues alone make me get rid of the book. If I want to read something sexy (which I don't) then I'll check out a sexy book. But its definitely not what I want in a more academic work.

Except that's another issue. Cahill makes a lot of assertions, but doesn't provide footnotes or resources to show where he got his information. You can't do that. It's not scholarly, and it mars your credibility.

His belief regarding God and the Bible is also one of the most unique I've encountered when reading a book. He tries to tread the ground between the-Bible-in-inerrant-and-infallible and (the-Jewish/Christian-)God-is-not-real. He doesn't believe the Bible is accurate (except for when it is); he believes many Bible stories are retellings of Sumerian legends (believes the Greeks did the same thing), eg Noah's flood is a rip-off of the Gilgamesh epic. He does believe God is real and you can have a relationship with him, but a lot of what God is described as doing in the Bible is "obviously false". Honestly, his whole stance is confusing. If the Bible isn't accurate, how do you know when it is accurate? When it feels right? What if something feels right to me but not to you? Truth isn't relevant to our feelings, either something is or it isn't. The Bible is either trustworthy, or it isn't. God is either who he says he is, or he isn't. This balancing act Cahill tries to do just doesn't work. and it brings a lot of questions to mind irrelevant to the book Gifts of the Jews. 

That's not to say he doesn't make some excellent points. There were definitely times I had "a-ha!" moments, but a lot of what he said was not revolutionary as I already knew some information and had contemplated other points previously. So all in all, the book was pretty disappointing. It was easy to read, and the premise behind his work is a great one, but the execution could have been better.

Before reading this book I was pretty excited about his Hinges of History series. Now I'm just Meh about it. Will I read other books in this series? I might check them out of the library, but I won't be buying any more.

2 stars.

This book is part of the Reading Challenge 2016, to see other books in the challenge, click here.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Reading Challenge 2016: The Mysterious Island (Graphic Novel)

Week 12: A graphic novel

The Mysterious Island
by Jules Verne

Hits the Highlights

Basically, this book is cliffs notes in graphic novel form. It glosses over and skips a lot, but you'll know the story in its most basic form after reading this. The idea, according to the preface, is to whet young readers appetites so they have a framework and desire to read the full novel when they're older. Since I'm in the reverse situation I can't say if the idea will actually work or not, but, for a summary, its pretty good. I'm just not too big on summaries and would rather hand a child the real book straight away. I read unabridged novels, like Price and the Pauper, when I was a child and figured things out so I'm biased that way. I was the crazy child, though who was always reading and always had a book on me. ... guess not much has changed.

3.5 stars

This post appears as a part of the Reading Challenge 2016, to see other books in the challenge click here.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Dear Mom - I Know You're Overwhelmed

Has this week been hard for you?

It has for me too. With 3 under 3 (the youngest just over a month) and none yet potty trained, Daylight Savings Time is no joke. We had a schedule and were barely making the routine work when BAM all of a sudden everything is off by an hour. Except the baby doesn't change her schedule, and since I'm unable to nurse (I have to bottle feed THEN pump) this is pretty disastrous. Can I even make it a year like I want? Panic tries to set in.

I can't think long term right now. I'm in survival mode.

One day at a time. One day at a time. 

Except, I'm not even sure how I'm going to make it through the day.

One moment at a time. Sometimes, one sob at a time.

Sleep is already a precious commodity with a newborn, and they just stripped an hour away. It's cruel! I don't think I've had to literally - forcibly - consciously - live in the moment as much as I have since DST this year. If I try to start thinking beyond that, I just can't take it right now.

Do you relate?

Sure, the details look different, but you're a mom and that's hard work. Are you now having to wake up before the birds to have a few sane moments? In the middle of packing with little ones and not sure how you can make that adjustment while in transition? Teen already have a hard time making it out the door to school on time and now this?

Whatever your situation, you can do it. I know it doesn't feel like it. I know the world is literally on your shoulders. I know you're tired and frazzled and just want a moment of peace or a bit of uninterrupted sleep. I know you don't know when you're going to go to the store to get more groceries because you forgot to stock up while you had a routine that synced with the clock. I know you forgot to start on time.

But you've got this.

It's ok if you need to have cereal for supper. Or eat snacks for lunch. It's not going to kill you or your children.

Have grace.

This season of life we're in? It's a season. It's a hard season. It's a beautiful season. But it's a season.

This will pass. We will make it through.

And I bet we'll look back on our tears with tears in our eyes at how fast it really all went by.

The years fly by, but I also know some days seem like they'll never end.

But you can do this. You will do this.

How do I know that?

You're a mom. That pretty much means you're a superhero. It's just what you do.

original image source

Monday, March 14, 2016

Reading Challenge 2016: The Story of Ferdinand

Week 11: A book with 100 pages or less 

The Story of Ferdinand 
by Munro Leaf

Not sure why this is considered a classic

It's a nice enough story, but it's just a story. A really simple story presumably for beginner readers. It took me 2 minutes to read the whole book. 

Each page has no more than a paragraph of large text and the adjoining page has a black and white illustration. I think the illustrations are the star of the book and probably why so many people enthuse over it. But really, there's no moral, no point, and it doesn't even make sense (how is Ferdinand the biggest and strongest bull when literally all he ever does is sit and smell flowers?)

I know it's a work for children, so I wasn't expecting much, but I was disappointed at how simple and pointless the work seems. I was expecting a book for around 4th-6th grade, not a black and white picture book. Meh.

2 stars.

This review appears as part of the Reading Challenge 2016. To follow along with the challenge, click here

Monday, March 7, 2016

Reading Challenge 2016: Mansfield Park

Week 10: A book by Austen

Mansfield Park
by Jane Austen

My Least Favorite Austen Novel

Like most of Austen's works, this one has a large following. Unlike her other works, it's not my cup of tea.

It's hard for me to relate to Fanny, the main character. I sympathize with her and understand why she acts as she does, but I feel no companionship with her - or any of the characters for that matter. A book where you do not connect with anyone is a difficult book to read.

The writing is also not Austen's best. It's cumbersome at times, hard to follow, and awkward. After the first several chapters you get into the rhythm of the style of this book, but it can be difficult to persevere.

This is my second time reading this work. I read it a number of years ago and was thoroughly disappointed and put off by the book. Fanny was just too good and literally has no faults (unless not standing up for herself is one, but given her position she could hardly do that). She is truly the moral compass of the work, and that is nice to see, but most of the other characters are so bad that it creates an almost unbelievable situation. In everything, however, Fanny does nothing to advance the plot. Everything is done to her or around her. She moves nothing, and that's a hard lot for the central character.

The work is hardly surprising in what actually happens in its course, being mostly predictable, which is always a disappointment. Many of the societal points Austen makes in this work, she also makes in Pride & Prejudice, though they are perhaps more clearly seen here.

While I like this book better upon a 2nd reading, it is still my least favorite of her works (aside from the posthumously published Love & Friendship collection, which is simply painful samples of her early writing).

2.5 stars

This book appears as a part of the Reading Challenge 2016. To see other books in the challenge, click here.

Thursday, March 3, 2016


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We had an usually nice end-of-February day a few days ago. The kindof day that makes you want to jump in the car and go for a road trip, windows down ... top down in you're blessed with a convertible.

One of those days that makes the wanderlust hit. The kind of day you can't really indulge in when you have toddlers and a newborn. But it got my husband and I talking about how it'd be nice to take a day off and relax together.

Wanderlust days are so much nicer when you have someone to share them with!

And since Modcloth just released their newest collection: the romantic road trip, of course I had to go poke around and see what they were offering. I love the vintage inspired styles on Modcloth, even if I usually wish necklines were higher or hemlines longer.

Wouldn't a dress like this just be darling for one of those wanderlust trips with your love?
Its feminine, modest, classy, fun, and modern all at the same time. And I love that deep blue too. It just makes me feel like breaking out the pearls and pretending I live in the '50s. I don't know, something about wanderlust makes me nostalgic for those days I never knew.

It also reminds me of the ocean, which is where I'm road tripping to in my mind. Spring brings the beach to mind, fall the mountains. And I'm up for a country drive anytime.

And I know maps aren't needed on a wanderlust road trip (unless you have a destination in mind!) but I have a thing for maps so these earrings spoke to me.
And really, why wouldn't you pack them if you were road tripping for the weekend? Can't go wrong with maps like this!

Has wanderlust hit you recently? Where are you going in your mind?