[Review]: Judaisms: A Twenty-First-Century Introduction to Jews and Jewish Identities by Aaron J Hahn Tapper

Judaisms: A Twenty-First-Century Introduction to Jews and Jewish Identities Judaisms: A Twenty-First-Century Introduction to Jews and Jewish Identities 
by Aaron J Hahn Tapper

Paperback, 416 pages 
Published June 14th,2016 
by University of California Press 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Engrossing! Enlightening! Enriching! This book delivers thorough research on what it means to be Jewish. This book delivers highlighted interpersonal experiences of the Jewish author. This book delivers by addressing tough topics within Jewish communities. Judaisms: A Twenty-First- Century Introduction to Jews and Jewish Identities by Aaron J. Hahn Tapper does not sway toward a single Jewish identity, but rather highlights the whole universal collective. I felt as high as a kite reading this one. Right at a point of my life when I was hyper-curious about the Jewish identity, this book quenched the thirst of my intellect. Being entrusted with a copy of this book for an honest review was so unreal. I could reread this a million times and still not be filled.

This jewel could easily be included among the texts given to students in Jewish 101, encompassing twelve chapters exploring topics fully capable of being stand-alone texts. The topics are diverse ranging from anti-semitism propaganda to cultural genocide, Jewish religious movements, zions and includes, but is not limited to postbiblical Messiahs. 

Each chapter begins with a narrative leading into the topic, which gives a unique glimpse of Jewish living abroad and stateside. In that sense it makes this non-fiction feel more entertaining allowing you to self-reflect as well. It fully validates the excerpt, “Although this book focuses on Jewish identities, its ultimate aim is to give readers a deeper understanding of identity formation at large, regardless of whether or not one identifies as Jewish.”

My favorite topic was the feature on Ashkenazi-ness and being white in the United States. Reading about Persian Jews, Jews among Muslims, Jews among Christians, and Jews in Asia all makes me feel more comfortable in my own skin. I have an Argentinean Jewish friend and for years we felt like unicorns. But skin color and ethnicity were never the only variations of our identity. There’s also culture, religion, and language. And yet there is no single understanding. This book explores the various variations from dominant to exotic closing loose ends of diversity to one merging of acceptance.

It's Inauguration Day 2017...

It's Inauguration Day and I'm feeling a bit emotional about seeing the Obama family leave. #thanksobama for manifesting my ancestors' wildest dreams. #inaugurationday


[Review]: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins

Hardcover336 pages
Published January 13th 2015 
by Riverhead Books

The debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people's lives.
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

[Review]: The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian

The Guest RoomThe Guest Room
by Chris Bohjalian
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 5th 2016
by Doubleday

See Synopsis on Goodreads!

This is another one I started reading in hardback but had to finish with the audiobook.

This was my bookclub's BOM for July.

So basically you got a 40ish older brother (Mr. No backbone) who throws a bachelor party for his immature womanizing 30ish baby brother at his home (*cough* damn fool *cough*), of which he shares with his devoted wife and 9-year-old daughter. Said baby brother and even more hound dog groomsmen decides to hire strippers of which they pay extra to have sex (I.e. tag team) and guest what, oh the strippers were sex slaves who took that very opportunity to kill their bodyguards/ captures right there in the house. So now the strippers on the run (literally 10blocks down the street... They so smart :/), the house is a crime scene, the older brother's marriage and family is falling apart, and there is a whole lot of media coverage & legal heat on all the groomsmen (ya damn skippy). I couldn't get jiggy with this because the characters were utterly stupid and it was like as the story went on the author kelp dumbing everyone down for cheap thrills and sad attempts at creating suspense. Uh no! This gets a 3 of I'm being nice and a 2.5 if I'm keeping it real. Read at your own risk, but don't say I didn't warn you.

[Review]: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

All the Birds in the SkyAll the Birds in the Sky 
by Charlie Jane Anders
Hardcover, 316 pages
Published January 26th 2016
by Tor Books

See Goodreads for the synopsis!

"There's a strange beauty in the quirkiness of an insane mind. That intro though...*smh*Wow!" -my thoughts
This was my book club, Bookclub Babes (Silicon Valley, CA), book of the month for June.

Please pardon my delay in a review.  The plot of this novel revolves around a witch and a scientist.  IT start with their childhood where she spoke to animals and he created Science Digest experiments.  They were both social outcasts.  He was bullied for being the geek and she was feared for being goth.  Some psychopath enters their life with a premonition and mission that makes their teenage years far more dramatic and traumatizing  than it otherwise would have been. They are separated then fast forward to their adult years reconnect.  The things transpire that would imply that maybe that psychopath wasn't so crazy after all.

My issues with this one were primarily in the layout of the events.  It goes from children, tweens, teens, adults, then backtracks to the missing years.  The transition to adults made the characters unbearably boring.  I found myself zooming through half the book in a day only to doze off right when the story jumped.   I seriously could not go on at that point and had to invest in the audiobook to muster through.  Then things got interesting when the missing years were revealed but then tapered off again before the climatic ending.  I know fluff when I read it.  Heck, I understand fluff.  It's necessary for fluff to be in stories, but the repetition of fluff and hints before things were finally revealed was excessive.  Also while I can do without sex in an adult novel; if you're going to be there dammit be sexy.  It was so not sexy. At book club, we reread that scene and all agreed none were even a little turned on.  In the end, I admit that I actually liked the novel.  I enjoyed the dynamics between two such diverse characters.  I liked the crafting of the underground worlds that overlap and co-exist with ours.  I found this novel uniquely original, and I would recommend it to science fiction and paranormal lovers alike.

Fearless: Conquering Fear!

"All my life I've had this fear.  A fear that I cannot name.  You see I know that I'm not perfect and my flaws are tease worthy, but the taught of being exposed freezes me to inaction.  And it spreads like a bee to fertilize and multiply other fears.  I fear new people because I'm scared of walking into a room and being judged.  But I'm new to a new city and I know no one.  And how will I meet anyone if the thought of meeting someone can crash and burn of unacceptance?  And so I label myself as shy.  I cannot speak in public.  I write my notes and read from a pad in front of an audience because my pad is my shield.  You see I love to talk and I love to share.  And I could do so much more if I wasn't scared.  I stand here today as mere baby steps to change, to growth.  But I long for the day when I can be completely FEARLESS!" -Kat Pierce (me)

If someone would have told me that a mitzvah would feel this awesome I would have never believed them, but it's true. Doing selfless acts is the best feeling in the whole entire world. 

Today I taught a Higher Learning workshop on being Fearless and conquering fears.

What would you do if you were not afraid? This well-known question has probably come across your mind a few times, right? This workshop was aimed at helping you identify the core of what is driving your fears and the tools to work through them.

All donations for this workshop went toward benefiting the Grateful Garment Project - a local San Jose organization that "restore dignity to victims of sexual assault by providing new clothing and other items to victims of sexual assault".

My workshop was such a success. I set out to inspire, educate, and encourage and I believe I was able to do just that. Plus I raised money for charity! I kept nothing for myself and gave my absolute all in this. I too conquered fears today! 

My heart is filled with such joy right now. I'm on cloud nine! 

Please help support victims of sexual assault, whom had the courage of coming forward.
Donate to support The Greatful Garment Project!
This non-profit aims to restore their dignity!

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