The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White: Review

This is one of those books that I looked at for about half a minute at the library, liked the cover, was interested enough by the blurb, and decided to take home with me. The plot is basically thus: Isadora is the mortal daughter of immortal Egyptian gods Isis and Osiris. She is disillusioned by her relationship with her powerful mother, feels unwanted by the god of the dead, aka her father, and thus moves to San Diego to live with her mortal brother, son of same immortal gods. Of course, there is also some dark threat looming over the whole family of gods at the same time that all of this is happening. The book is a combination of, angst-ridden-teen comes-to-understand-her-complicated-family and normal-teen-immersed-in-supernatural-world-saves-all-the-supernatural-beings, plus a little romance splashed in.

I did enjoy this book, it was a fast, fun read, with some angst, some romance, and some good friendships. But I have a lot of problems with it. The biggest of these is that even when Isadora finally comes to understand her immortal mother and accepts their relationship for what it is THEY NEVER ACTUALLY ADDRESS THE REAL ISSUE BETWEEN THEM AND IT’S KIND OF A BIG DEAL! And that bugs me, in case the all caps didn’t get that across. The best part of this book is the way that Kiersten White makes ancient gods comes to life with real and interesting personalities, mostly through the medium of Isadora who has a lot of fun stories and anecdotes about her immortal relatives. The details she gives to the gods personalities and the way she shapes their modern day relationships based on their ancient pasts is really interesting and those parts were my favorites of the novel.

I said that this book was a fun, quick read, but it’s quick because everything is rushed. I had a hard time believing Isadora’s transformations and revelations. She hardly seems to struggle, and when she does struggle it’s pointed out so blatantly that it doesn’t feel like she’s really working for it. In short, the emotion of the novel feels forced.

In my ideal world this novel would be rewritten to develop the characters more fully, to give more room for exploring a modern family of immortal beings and getting more in depth into the mythology and magic that allows the book to function, and it would deal with several issues and question that I found were never resolved nor answered to my satisfaction. All in all I’d give this book a 3/5.


The Sun Also Rises a Brief Review

I read Hemingway for the first time during my first year of university. I hated it. It was a short story, though I don’t remember which one, and I struggled so much to get through even those few pages. At that time I was still determined not to choose literature as a course of study (spoiler: I chose literature as a course of study) and Hemingway certainly wasn’t going to change my mind. I was, as you might imagine, very relieved never to come across Hemingway in another class. Then I went to Madagascar.

What, you may be wondering, does Madagascar have to with Hemingway or visa versa? Well, not a lot, except that reading material can be a bit scarce in developing countries where English is not a common language. Add to this equation a two week convalescence while in the grips of typhoid and one tends to go through all available books rather quickly. Had these circumstances not occurred I likely would never have gone back to Hemingway. As it was, I picked up A Moveable Feast out of pure desperation. It wasn’t even that bad. Granted, at that point the boredom was so pervasive and the remaining literary options so scant that I probably would have read history had the option been available (I hate history, if that was not implied strongly enough). To say I enjoyed A Moveable Feast would be an exaggerating, but, I did enjoy reading it, if you’ll accept the distinction, and I was inspired to try more Hemingway.

I had to wait until my return to English speaking society, but, in the few weeks I’ve been home, I have managed to obtain, and read, The Sun Also Rises. It was an experience. Would I read it again? No. Would I recommend it to someone else? Sure. The thing about reading Hemingway, the way I see it at least, is that you don’t read him for the story, you read him for the quality of writing. Trying to get anything more than enjoyment of the excellent use of the English language from his work takes more mental energy than I at least was willing to exert, but I was able to enjoy the novel aesthetically. Hemingway’s style of writing is so sparse that you are never really sure what you’re supposed to take from it, and, as frustrating as that can be, it’s also the genius behind his work, because you can take anything and everything, or nothing. Of course, on the flip side, because, as previously stated, I hate history and actively avoid learning it whenever I can, I only had the vaguest frame of reference for the events and time period that surround The Sun Also Rises. If I’d had a better historical context I may very well have gotten more from the novel. It all depends on how much work you are willing to put in.


Just a little about me, plus some other stuff

Fun fact about me, I just got back a couple weeks ago from a two month long stay on a little island off the coast of Madagascar where I was living and volunteering doing marine conservation work. Madagascar, if you’ve never been there, or more specifically the island I lived on, is a very hot and humid place. Shorts and t-shirts were sometimes too hot for the days. I think it got cool enough for me to put on long sleeves in the evening twice while I was there, and both times it was after a good downpour. When I left for Madagascar I was excited about the prospect of waiting out a Colorado winter in a tropical paradise where I could be assured that it would never drop below freezing. But careful what you wish for right? I loved the weather, the heat, the humidity, while I was in Madagascar, but after a while I began to miss Colorado, the cold, and, especially, the snow. Go figure. Coming home right at the beginning of March I was hopeful that we’d get at least one good snow after I got home, just something to give me my snow fix and tide me over until next winter. Well, with the sun shinning everyday and temperatures reaching record highs it’s no wonder that I began to lose hope of my snow storm.Well, let this be a lesson on not giving. Or not, I really don’t mind either way.

On Wednesday I first heard the news that we were expecting some weather event on Friday (that’s today). Familiar as I am with the fallibility of Colorado weather forecasters to say I brushed off the possibility would be something of an understatement. What I really did was flat out refuse to believe. I’ve been down this road too many times in the past to keep falling for the same tricks, I thought. Yesterday, when predictions were still holding steady and thoughts seemed to be leaning more from rain to snow, I laughed it off, quite bitterly actually, certain that all these promises were empty, concocted to tease and, ultimately, disappoint me. Conceited, I know, to think that the entire Colorado weather community would come together to produce an elaborate ruse simply to build up my hopes and tear them down again, but, after so many disappointment in the past, that’s how it begins to feel. Today I sincerely extend my apologies to all the weathermen and women out there whom I so daringly disbelieved up until I woke to the sight and sounds of a blizzard this morning. Despite all of your past errors, you have, on this occasion, won back my trust.

Random Thoughts

Let’s talk about jobs

Say you went to college. Let’s assume that when you first started you had no idea what you wanted to do with your life (besides sitting alone in your room and reading all day, which isn’t a practical career choice), but, within the first couple semesters, you start to realize that you have a certain enjoyment in, and talent for, English studies. Naturally one might assume that perhaps that is the path of study that you should pursue. Am I right? Well, at the time I thought so.

Turns out that studying what you’re passionate about isn’t the best way to go about securing a profitable future. That being said, I stand by what I did. English literature, writing, reading, research, that’s what I’m good at and what I like. The problem I’m running into is that no one wants to give me the chance to prove that I can make my English slinging talents useful enough to pay me for them. The last thing I want is to spend my days composing sonnets to the glistening shine of grease behind the window of a Taco Bell drive through, but that might be the way this is going to play out. Not that I’ve ever composed a sonnet before, but if I ever start working fast food I’ll certainly give it a try. What’s more poetic then asking whether a person wants hard or soft shell every five minutes day in and day out? Heck, maybe it would be worth the grease stains and gripping customers just to have the chance to write that poem.


What I did today

Today I decided to start a blog. I’ve tried it a few times before, but it never seems to get off the ground. Honestly, I don’t know if it will go any better this time around, but I’ll give it another try. What am I going to write about you ask? Undecided. Why am I writing a blog when I don’t know what I want to write about you ask? Because if I happen to think of something to say, I would like to have a place to say it.

Today I want to say that I’m excited about the whole idea of a blog. Here I am, with the whole internet on the other side of my keyboard. Of course, maybe no one else out there in this boundless computerized world will ever be interested in what I’m saying here, but that won’t stop me. No one can. Mwahahah! Well, anyway, a creative outlet never hurt anybody, or no one that I know of anyway so there’s no harm in it at least.


Why are we here?

Well hopefully the title should clue you in. Basically we’re here for me to share my random thoughts and experiences. There’s a good chance I’ll be making post complaining about stuff. There’s also a good chance I’ll be posting a lot about how crazy cute my cat and dog are. Heck, I might even post some poetry or some such. The only thing I can promise is that I’ll post what I feel like posting, then, if you feel like it, you can read it. That’s pretty much the plan.