Saturday, January 11, 2014

Chaos of the Stars by Kiersten White

All good stories have a few false starts... Myth: The children of immortal gods are immortal, too. Reality: Isadora isn’t going to be around forever—and her parents barely seem to notice she’s alive right now. Myth: Once a god, always a god—that kind of power never fades away. Reality: These days, Isadora’s relatives are clinging to the little bit of power they have left. And some of them would do anything to take it all.… Myth: Every teenage girl dreams of falling in love. Reality: From what Isadora’s seen, “love” is a painful mess. All she dreams of is a normal life away from her crazy family—minus any romantic drama. Myth: If you go far enough, you can leave the past behind. Reality: Isadora moves halfway around the world to San Diego for a fresh start, but quickly finds that there’s no such thing as a clean break from family—and that leaving her old life may mean sacrificing more than she ever guessed. The Chaos of Stars blends sweet romance, high-stakes suspense, and the magic of Egyptian mythology to create a complex, funny, and deeply moving story about true love and what it means to be a family. (Summary From author's website)

I really enjoyed reading Chaos of the Stars. I know that the whole demi-god myth is kind of becoming an overdone trope in the market right now, but Chaos of the Stars has several things that makes it stand out. The first is that it is great as a stand-alone novel that has an interesting world that you would like to visit again, but don’t have to once all the loose ends of the novel are tied up. It is kind of relaxing to read a YA fantasy that doesn’t require a three book commitment. Also, while there is romance, there is no love triangle. Lovely! In addition, there is no super reveal about secret powers in which the female protagonist turns into a super warrior so that she can save the world.

The plot instead lingers on Isadora's relationship with her family. Being the daughter of two Egyptian gods can be really confusing at times, and Isadora questions whether her parents really love her. She can’t wait to get away from her mom, Isis and spend some time on her own. When Isis senses danger coming she sends Isadora away to live with her brother in California.  Isadora enjoys volunteering at the local museum and hanging out with the new friends she has made, but when strange break-ins start happening at the museum and at her brother’s house, Isadora can’t help but wonder if there is some plot afoot. When Isadora discovers who is behind the break-ins and what they want she has to race to save the family that she has come to realize that she loves and cares for.
So, yeah Chaos of the Stars is a fun, light-hearted introduction to the insanity that is Egyptian mythology, and makes itself stand out by throwing aside some popular paranormal romance  conventions and focusing the story on family drama, rather than epic battles. I wanted a bit more tension in the first couple chapters, but other than that I really enjoyed the novel.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Year in Review 2013

Well, in regards to the book blog my goals for 2012 were to put up six LDSPBP posts, and I kind of really failed in doing that. I think I got up two and then reviewed two picture books from LDS publishing houses. I did have enough information to put all six spotlights up. I just didn’t have the mental focus for it. Alas, what can I say? Perhaps, I can do better next year.

I also made a goal to read less romance novels but I don’t feel like I really did all that well. I read a ton of regency romance novels and other romance themed books. I sometimes felt frustrated by the fact that romance was in everything. I could not escape it without making a special effort, and I wasn’t really all that interested in making a special effort, especially since I enjoy reading romance. Attempting to read less romance lead me to read more non-fiction, but I only read four titles— two religious based, one on astronomy, and a memoir about an expert horseman/cowboy.

Something wonderful about the blog this year has been the opportunity to participate in so many blog tours and promotions. I also was able to review for Covenant and Shadow Mountain, which made it possible to review more LDS novels despite living in PA where it is harder than even Houston to find LDS fiction reading opportunities. There is no way I can afford an LDS Fiction reading habit unless I receive review copies or access to LDS novels at a public library. So, when I say I am grateful for these opportunities I mean it very sincerely. Thank you for all the blog tour coordinators, authors, and publicists who were so generous to me this year.

So my goal was to get up an indie-published novel this year, but alas that did not happen. I am actually okay with that. I’ve gone through three drafts of a story that I really enjoyed working on this year. I haven’t stuck with a book for so long ever. I think I am finally learning how to structure an actual novel length plot. So, I am pleased with the evidence that I have grown as a writer. I worked on a few novellas and rewrote a short story. Doesn’t feel like a whole lot of progress to me, but I keep trying to tell myself that writing is not a race.

In family news, we moved to a new apartment this year in March and really like the floor plan better, and we’ve put a lot of effort into organizing and keeping it clean as we had a wee one coming. I grew a little boy for the most part of this year.  He was born Dec 11 after only two and a half hours of labor. He was transported to CHOP and underwent surgery in his first 24 hours of life because he had a perforated bowel. The test results have been confirmed and he has Cystic Fibrosis. He is still in the NICU healing, but he’s doing amazingly well. He has made steady progress in his recovery and we are so pleased with his progress.  This has been hard, no doubt, and we’ve only been able to handle things hour by hour on some days. Yet, we are also grateful because he was diagnosed so quickly, that we had access to top notch medical facilities, and that we live at a time of such advanced medical knowledge.  Lacking any of these things our little Marcus may not have survived.  We are very blessed.

Books Read in 2013

Books read in 2013

Heart of the Ocean by Heather B. Moore (Review Copy)

Crossed by Ally Condie (library)

Reached by Ally Condie (library)

Drops of Gold by Sarah M. Eden (purchased)

The Ugly Step-Sister Strikes Back by Sariah S. Wilson (free on amazon)

Lavinia by Ursula K LeGuin (library)

Baked Alaska by Josi Kilpack (review copy)

Destined by Aprilynn Pike (library)

Courting Miss Landcaster by Sarah M. Eden (purchased)

Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale (library)

Way of Kings by Sanderson (purchased)

Seeking Persephone by Sarah M. Eden (purchased)

Emeralds and espionage by Lynn Gardner (purchased, re-read)

The List by Melanie Jacobson (purchased)

Doctor Illuminatus (used book sale)

Glamour and Glass by Mary Kowal Robinette (library)

The Sky has a Thousand Stars (used book sale)

21 Principals Richard G. Scott (review copy)

One Drop at a Time M Russell Ballard (review copy)

Belonging to Heaven Gale Sears (review copy)

All That was Promised Vickie Hall  (review copy)

Journey of Promise by Vickie Hall (review copy)

The Emerald Ring by Dorine White (review copy)

A way back to you Emily Clawson (review copy)

A Change of Plans by Donna K. Weaver (review copy)

Love in the Darkness by E.M. Tippetts (review copy)

Through Cloud and Sunshine Dean Hughes (review copy)

Proceed with Caution by Betsy Brannon Green (review copy)

Glimmer of Hope by Sarah M. Eden (review copy)

Longing For Home by Sarah M. Eden (review copy)

Working it Out by Rachel Renee Anderson (review copy)

Finding Sheba by H.B. Moore (review copy)

Not Even Once Club (review copy)

After Hello by Lisa Mangum (review copy)          

Transparent by Natalie Whipple (library)

The False Prince by Jennifer A Nielsen (library)

The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen (library)

The Witnesses by Stephanie Black (review copy)

The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachel Renee Anderson (free on amazon)

Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike (library)

Putting Down the Pieces by Cheryl Leigh (won in contest)

Goddess by Josephine Angelini (purchased)

Blackmoore by Julianna Donaldson (review copy)

Chaos of the Stars by Kiersten White (library)

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson (library)

The House on Rose Creek by Jenny Proctor (review copy)

The Faraway Horses by Buck Brannaman (library)

Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff (library)

Timeless Romance Anthology:  European Collection (review copy)

Eagle by Kindal Debenham

Broken Halo by Kindal Debenham

House of Hades by Rick Riordan (gift)

Favorite Picture Books:

The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz

Shark v.s Train by Chris Barton

Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds

Chalk by Bill Thompson

Tuesday by David Wiesner


Lavinia by Ursula K LeGuin

Blackmoore by Julianna Donaldson

Transparent by Natalie Whipple

Through Cloud and Sunshine by Dean Hughes