Nefertiti by Michelle Moran
Broadway Paperbacks, ISBN #978-0-307-38174-3
If you would like to escape to ancient Egypt, this is the book for you. Michelle Moran deftly weaves an engrossing tale about one of Egypt's most famous people using known historical facts and her fantastic imagination.
Set in Egypt in 1351 BC during the Eighteenth Dynasty, we learn about Nefertiti's rise to power through cunning and her amazing ability to give the people what they want. The story is actually told from the point of view of her younger sister, Mutnodjmet, or Mutny.
The author has a wonderful gift with words. She transports you into past, where you feel that you are there, witnessing Akenaten and Nefertiti throwing dreben from the window of appearances, or walking through Mutny's herb gardens. You celebrate their joys and feel their pain as if it was your own.
Michelle covers the time period from just before Nefertiti marries Amunhotep IV (later Akenaten), through their marriage, the conversion of all of Egypt to monotheism, the building of Amarna, co-regency, their daughter's births, Akenaten's death, and finally Nefertiti's own. We also hear the wonderful story of her sister, Mutny, and her trials as the sister to the Pharaoh's Chief Wife. Much of her life is spent in her sister's shadow, but we get to watch her come into her own with adulthood.
Whether you like historical drama, plain drama, or romance novels, you will find this book a good read. It has a little something for everyone, love, heartbreak, war, intrigue, joy and sorrow.
I give this book 4 out of 5 bookmarks :)
Book Club discussion questions included? yes
The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran
Broadway Paperbacks, ISBN #978-0-307-38176-7
Just because I read both of these over the weekend, I'm going to review this one also.
As a follow up to Nefertiti, we fast forward to 1283 BC during the Nineteenth Dynasty to read about Nefertiti's niece and Mutnodjmet's daughter, Nefertari in The Heretic Queen. Written along the same lines as Nefertiti, we are once again whisked away to ancient Egypt to spend some time at court. In this case, we are immersed in the world of one of Egypt's most powerful Pharaohs, Ramesses II, or Ramesses the Great.
Poor little orphaned Nefertari is alone and shunned at court until the high priestess of Hathor, and the Pharaoh Ramesses I sister, Woserit takes her under her wing. Her bitterest rival for the Pharaoh's affections is Iset, a character who seems so conniving at the beginning, yet the author makes us feel compassion for her and by the end of the novel we feel immense pity. She has enemies in every corner of Egypt, and the reader finds herself turning page after page, not willing to put the book down, wondering if she'll ever come out on top.
There is much more archaeological evidence available about Ramesses II and once again, Michelle Moran takes this information and weaves a fantastic story. This is one book that will have you thinking "one more chapter", it's so difficult to put it down. As Nefertari fights against the people's disdain for her as the Heretic Queen's niece, searches for ways to connect with her mother Mutnodjmet (who was almost erased from history along with Nefertiti), and has a passionate love with her husband and Pharaoh, the reader feels so glad to be along for the ride.
As with Nefertiti, this book also has so much to offer, I would definitely recommend picking it up.
I give this book 4 out of 5 bookmarks :)
Book Club discussion questions included? yes
I guess sometimes I rant, and sometimes I rave. Warmer weather is finally here, so I'm in a pretty good mood. The next few posts are happy posts to mark the occasion.
I guess I'll start with a topic that I love: lizards as pets. I love our furry, feathered and finned friends, but I have found through experience that lizards make unique and pretty amazing pets. I had a green iguana as a teen and loved him dearly. Unfortunately I was pretty irresponsible back then (to say the least) and Gaby suffered. I had to have him put down at only 4 years old due to MBD (metabolic bone disease) - I did not take enough care with him. I did not give him the amount of calcium or UV lighting that he required to be as healthy as he could. He was a fantastic pet and believe it or not - he loved eating pizza and mac n' cheese. I cried like a little baby when he had to go. We buried him in the backyard surrounded by flowers. May he rest in peace.
But on to happier things. I am now older and wiser and when it came down to picking pets for my kids, I decided upon lizards. I did a little research on the easiest ones to take care of. Some require a lot of care, while others are pretty easy. There's also the subject of handling, some like it while others will bite your fingers off. I decided not to go with an iguana this time around because they do grow rather large and I wanted something which would stay pretty small. I started reading up on bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps) and fell in love.
I was lucky that a friend at work happened to be looking to sell hers. Her kids liked them, but did not want to actually clean up after or feed them, so she was looking for a home for the girls. You can see them above at feeding time - Citrus is the one eating, Vexus is the one looking to eat. I gladly took them in, not knowing at the time that they were still juveniles, which is why they were perfectly happy to share a cage. Imagine my surprise a few months later when they finally hit adulthood and decided that they loathed each other. This may sound mean, but it was so funny when they got angry and chased each other around! We never let them hurt each other, and they have been kept in separate enclosures since then.
Lizards in general, and bearded dragons (beardies) in particular, are such fantastic pets for a number of reasons. I seem to have developed allergies to dogs and cats over the years. I do not have such issues with lizards. They do not bark in the middle of the night. They do not howl like a beaten child when they're in heat. Generally, they do not stink. I say generally because Citrus does have a habit of acting like a monkey and flinging her shit around and rolling around in it when she's pissed off at me. They will not try to smell your guest's crotch or hump their leg. They will not try to perch on your 102 year old grandmother's head, nearly giving her a fatal stroke. They live longer than 3 months (I'm looking at you, Betta). You don't have to walk them at 4:00am in the middle of a snowstorm, them pick up the shit in a little baggie to bring home. You don't have to clean a litterbox. The smell in your home doesn't give away the fact that you have pets (you know the smell as soon as a pet owner opens their door). I could really go on, but I'll leave it for now. These little girls are fantastic.
But you may be asking: do they do anything? Don't they just lie around their tank all day waiting to be fed and then lie around some more? I guess some lizards do. We also have a gecko. She cannot stand to be handled. She's a gorgeous little thing, but we adopted her when she was already 10 years old and her previous owner did not handle her. It's too late now. I try with her, but she's not impressed. So yeah, many lizards don't want to be touched, some can't be for safety reasons, but many can be held and played with and enjoyed. Some species, like the gecko and iguana, can be safely handled from the time they're small and they will learn to be OK with it. Some species, like beardies, crave love and affection.
Our little girls spend very little time in their enclosures, in fact. We give them their "basking" time, which is absolutely necessary for their health and good digestion. But they would rather be outside of their tanks and hanging out with the family. They are incredibly funny at times, and truly, their mannerisms often remind me of dogs. They'll sit by the sliding door looking out into the yard, watching the birds. They'll pace back and forth outside of Mica's tank (the gecko) trying to figure out how to get in there, probably to eat her, because she's little. Vexus has even been known to sit by the front door waiting for the boys to get home from school. They'll sit with you while you read a book or watch TV, and they'll even curl up with you and fall asleep. When you first take them out of their tanks, they're warmed up and raring to go, so they run around the house like little maniacs, sliding on their claws and slamming into walls. Tell me that doesn't sound like something a dog would do?
Having a beardie may sound like all fun and games, but there is a serious side I'd like to mention, in case you're thinking about a dragon for yourself. Lizards, all desert-dwelling creatures in fact, require specialized care. Sticking them in a cage and feeding them whatever is at hand is not going to cut it. Our girls have specialized lighting and large enclosures with basking spots and hiding spots and things to climb on, even though they don't like to hang out there much. Thankfully CFL lighting has been introduced, so that your pet can get the correct UV and heat requirements, while you can save a few bucks. Think 20w versus 75w 18 hours a day. My electric bill thanks me. They are also omnivores, which means they need a good mix of fruits and veggies, as well as insects. A few lizards are happy eating the freeze-dried ones available at pet stores, but mine will only eat them if they're moving. This can get rather expensive, because you have to give them a varied diet consisting of crickets, mealworms, superworms, waxworms, butterworms, silkworms and hornworms. Most of these are high in fat, but make excellent treats. Mine are crazy for hornworms in particular. When I pull one out for them, they actually hurl themselves out of the tank to get to them. Citrus is especially good at catching it mid-flight. They're so funny to watch while eating. They absolutely must have their calcium supplements at the least and a good multivitamin will keep them healthy. Balance is key - do not give them too much of either. Beardies also need baths so that they can soak up water, they generally won't drink from a bowl, although I have heard of a few who will.
You should also be aware of the extreme expressive nature of these lizards. Citrus is very good at letting you know when she's not happy - which is often. She's a grumpy little thing, but she's cute so we let her get away with it. She is particularly good at giving you "stinkeye", which is her equivalent of "meanface". We get that quite often, and especially after a bath. Beardies also have the ability to puff out their bodies and make their spikes rigid. When they're happy little clams, the spikes all along their bodies and heads are soft. When they puff out those little things can puncture you if you're not careful. This baby girl is excellent at using our hands as a pincushion. Bearded dragons get their name from their beards, which can be regular in colour and flat when they're OK. When they're upset, the beard goes dark brown in colour. When the beard is puffed out and black, stay away! This is an excellent signal that this particular lizard is in no mood for anything, you'd better give her some space. Citrus has either yellow or black beard - there is no in-between. Vexus, on the other hand, is so expressive that you know immediately what her mood is. She can have the black angry beard, the brown unhappy beard, or the wonderful orange happy beard. Her beard will go brighter orange the happier she gets. Since she's such a social creature, just picking her up and sitting with her will net you a happy orange beard. Note the orange beard while "releasing the dragon".
Other beardie behaviors to make note of are the head bobbing, which is hilarious, and the waving, which is the cutest thing ever. Our beardies only head bob at each other, never at us, and they're just trying to assert dominance over each other. Since we keep them apart, there's no danger, but head bobbing usually precedes one trying to jump on the other for a ninja attack frenzy. Since ours were almost adults when we got them, we did not have the pleasure of seeing the arm waving first hand. I have seen videos, and it's one of the cutest things I've ever seen. Juvenile beardies seem to wave to each other to let each other know "hey! I'm here, I'm like you!". It's quite amazing and I wish mine did that. Google 'beardie waving' and a bunch of great videos can be found.
So there you have it. I could probably go on forever about our girls, they're just that special. I probably missed half the stuff I wanted to say about them, but I hope I've given you a good idea of how wonderful it is to have these lizards. They're work and can be a bit costly (not like a cat or dog, though), but on the whole, they're so worth it. Lizards, as long as you do the research and get the right species, can give you just as much love as you give them. Thinking about a pet? Get a lizard, you won't be sorry! I only ask that you please remember that they are living things and should be treated with the proper care and respect.
This rant may be a little angry and rambling, so please bear with me.
My youngest son has not only ADHD (Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a chronic condition that affects millions of children and often persists into adulthood. It includes a combination of problems, such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Children with ADHD also may struggle with low self-esteem, troubled relationships and poor performance in school. - from mayoclinic.org) but also DCD (Children with developmental coordination disorder often have difficulty performing tasks that involve both large and small muscles, including forming letters when they write, throwing or catching balls, and buttoning buttons. Children who have DCD have often developed normally in all other ways. The disorder can, however, lead to social or academic problems for children. Because of their underdeveloped coordination, they may choose not to participate in activities on the playground. - from minddisorders.com). I'm willing to bet you've never even heard of the second one - I didn't either until he was diagnosed. After I scoured the internet for information, it suddenly became clear - he wasn't lazy or slow, he was having genuine difficulty performing the tasks we take for granted, like tying our shoes. He is an intelligent, loving, sensitive child, and maybe he has all of those wonderful qualities because he has these other major hurdles to deal with. One (ADHD) he may yet grow out of, the other (DCD) is his for life. Imagine being 34 years old and not being able to button up a shirt properly? I know, it seems strange to us, but this is something he'll have to deal with for the rest of his life.
Why the anger? My little guy came home for lunch today a little down. He's easy to read, so I asked what was up and he said "the usual". The boy next door was making fun of him in gym class because he couldn't tie his shoes quickly enough. There have been problems with this boy for years, and in the interest of neighbor relations (we get along just fine with the adults and the other two boys in the house), we try to ignore him and my son no longer plays outside with his brothers if he is there. It's sad, I know, but this is how it works. I asked him if this was outside or during class. Suffice it to say, I was a little surprised when he said during class. I asked where his teacher was. He told me that he was right there, calling out the length of time it was taking him to tie his laces, and saying that he is in grade four and should know how to tie his own shoes by now. What the hell is wrong with this man? Why are PE teachers always the first to get onto or start up the bully wagon for those children who may not be as athletically inclined as others? I could not believe that this teacher is belittling a 9 year old in the middle of class in front of the other students and allowing him to be bullied. In fact, getting in on the action himself.
When we enrolled our son in this school (boundaries changed and this is his first year at this school), we made sure that his records reflect his disorders, which include notations from his specialist stating the special needs he requires. Everything I had previously heard about this school was positive, however, I have to say this school and it's staff don't seem to give a rat's ass about my kid. (I can also say that at least one of my neighbors agree, her son hates the school also, and he doesn't have any disabilities, and is a star athlete.) He's been there for 8 months now, almost a full school year, and I can tell you he has received absolutely NONE of the special needs suggested by his doctor. Zero. Zilch. Nada. In fact, at his last school, he was not yet diagnosed, and they still went out of their way to scribe for him and encourage him to do his best. This particular gym teacher called our home in October or November to tell us how badly our son is doing in his class. My husband asked him if he took a moment at any time to look into our son's record, or if anyone had bothered to tell him that our son had some health issues. He said no, and that he is the only teacher for the whole school - implying that he just doesn't have the time. I am not quite sure what has happened to the school system, but if a teacher doesn't have time for their students, perhaps they should find another occupation - maybe gravedigger. You need to be strong and athletic and no one will hold you back. In fact, they're all waiting for you.
So this jerk has been told by us that our son has some learning disabilities. I sincerely doubt he actually went to read my son's record, but my husband did tell him specifically that he has ADHD and DCD. And instead of taking that into account, he mocks him in class. I am not saying he needs to give my son a free pass. He doesn't need it. He may not be good at sports, but he really tries, because he's interested in it, and he likes being part of a team. He tries out for all kinds of sports, unfortunately he doesn't make the cut. My point is that he really does try, and if he has a problem, maybe the effort should count for more than the result. Would this teacher fail him if he broke his leg and was in a cast? No? Maybe he would, he just seems like that kind of smarmy bastard.
So, I will print out some info on DCD and the Ontario Anti-Bullying Act and go in to see the principal tomorrow. I sincerely doubt that it will make any difference. Once I leave the office I'm sure they'll have a sitdown about what a bitch I am and how slow my son is. Maybe they'll laugh and have some coffee and talk about the weather. However, they do not know me very well. I will take a lot and I will take it for quite a while. However, when I'm done, I'm done. This will be their only warning to correct their behavior. Adults should know better. And adults working with children should definitely know better. If it happens again I just have to say that hell hath no fury. I will contact everyone I know and someone will pay.
My son has the right to have a good day, every day at school. We parents send our children out into the world and when we place them in the care of other adults we expect them to conduct themselves in a manner that is positive and nurturing toward our kids. This school does not do that. I hesitate to mention the name of the school or the teacher involved. However, should it happen again, I will definitely call them out.
I hate door-to-door salespeople. Yup, I really, really hate you. Whether you're looking to sell me a green lawn, discount tickets to the nearest pub, or chocolates for your school trip - I'm not interested. Going through your spiel right after I tell you I'm not interested will not make me change my mind. I didn't want your crap before, I certainly don't want it now that you've kept me at my door for longer than I needed to be past "not interested".
When I get home from work I change out of my work clothes and throw on my rattiest jammies or tights and t-shirt. I want to be comfortable after I've been standing on my feet all day. I also have crap to do when I get home, like make dinner, do the laundry, dishes, homework with the kids, etc. When I hear the doorbell ring my blood pressure goes through the roof. Why? Because you have a knack to show up at my door just as I've started a sauce that needs to stirred constantly or it will burn. Or in the middle of a really, really interesting part of a show (no, I DON'T WANT to pause it). Or right as I'm cleaning lizard shit off my floor. Or I've just sat down at the dinner table. You get the point. It is a rare thing that I'm just sitting around doing absolutely nothing, waiting for something to happen. The same goes for weekends and the few days I get off during the week (yes, they show up on week days also, I just had one), except it makes me even angrier. Leave me alone. Either I have things to or I'm getting prepared for guests. Either way, am I making my point? I don't have the time or patience to listen to you. I have tried to find a "NO SOLICITING" sign, but I have been unsuccessful. I have a feeling they wouldn't read it anyway.
I have tried in the past to be polite and listen to you go on and on about how your product is so fantastic I have to buy 3 right now and sign up for a monthly subscription for the rest of my natural life (and possibly will it to my grandkids). However, I have found that if I need something, I will either a) already have it; b) go out and buy it; or c) look it up online. Perhaps I do need it, but maybe I just cannot afford it right now. None of those scenarios require a person to come to my door to tell me I need it first. Often I find that once the person goes through their memorized speech, you politely decline, and they start in on the second prepared speech. The one where you are no longer the soft sell, you're now the hard one. Maybe they'll try to guilt you in to it. That's happened to me on a few occasions. The last time, I felt bad for the animals and said: 'fine, I'll give you $20". She said great, got out her little form for me to fill out, and did not mention until I was done with the form that it was $20 a month. They were not interested in one-time donations. Oh, no, they wanted my money every month. Suffice it to say, she did not get the $20.
Nowadays I open the door and while the smile is still forming at the corners of their mouths I tell them I'm not interested and I close the door. The smile turns upside down real quick. I have been called "awesome rude" (yes, I can hear you through the door), but quite frankly, you're on my doorstep, wasting my time. I think I have every right to not want to talk to you for even a second. The only reason I open the door is because I have a huge window in the door, and you can see me. I have even peeked around the corner some days, seen who it was and sat silently in the kitchen or family room (wherever I happened to be at the time) and waited until I hear them walking back down the front steps. Sometimes after ringing and knocking two and three times.
I had a very interesting pair come to my door last summer. I was in the kitchen getting coffee when they rang the doorbell. I looked over and made a shooing motion with my hand. It was Sunday morning, and I just wanted to enjoy my coffee and the nice day it was shaping up to be. I sit my butt down on the couch and the doorbell rings again. I get up, look at the door and it's still them. Really? I shoo again and yell out, "not interested". I was also in my pjs at the time, no bra, face and teeth unwashed. Not exactly presentable. I go back, sit down and the bastards start hammering on my door! I could not believe it. I got up, stormed to the door, opened it and started screaming at them like a crazy woman. Profanities may have been used. I just want to put this out there: if you're selling crap door to door and the person gives you two different signs that they don't want to answer the door, you probably should move on to the next house. Or just go home. We don't want you ringing our doorbells anyway.
I also have to single out these two groups:
To the kids/adults selling chocolate and/or candy: Maybe I'm not saying no because I'm an asshole and I hate you (I probably am and do). Maybe I'm diabetic. Maybe I have a weight problem and the last thing I need is a Mars bar on my counter. Maybe I don't feed crap like that to my kids if I can help it. Maybe I really don't have even $2 to spend right now. There are a hundred possible reasons I'm saying no. Don't give me that face (you know which one) or that attitude (you definitely know which one), because I do not owe you an explanation. And just so you know, I have NEVER sent my kids to your door begging for money.
To the people looking for a donation to (insert name here) charitable organization: Again, maybe I'm not saying no because I'm an asshole and I hate you (I probably am and do). Maybe I am trying to figure out on my minimum wage salary how I'm going to feed my kids this week. $20 doesn't sound like a lot. But to me it is. The cost of a cup of coffee a day, you say? I can't afford a cup of coffee a day. I make mine and bring it with me to work. I live in a house, so you automatically think I have a disposable income you can have. Maybe all of hubby's paycheck is going to the mortgage and maybe all of mine is going to food. There's not much left over for you or the orphans or your soccer team or the polar bears floating on the melting glacier ice, sorry. But this is not really any of your business, so piss off and don't give me attitude when I turn you away.
Or better yet, just don't ring my doorbell.
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