Delirium and Pandemonium Playlist.

 Okay, so this is a post that I have created for music that goes (at least I think it does) with the first two books in Lauren Oliver’s Delirium trilogy. But all is not set in stone. If you have any recommendations or requests as to which songs stay and which go, I would love to hear from you. Please, feel free to write some comments on the bottom with recommendations, and don’t feel bad about trying to fix it; I can ignore whatever I do not like. Just kidding! Or am I???? P.S. Sorry if there are some of the same songs on this playlist as my other playlists! I can’t help it, I have favorites. 😉

Delirium and Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver.

 “Young Adult Friction” by The Pains of Being Pure At Heart. (For its name alone)(1. Delirium)

 “Eyes Wide Open” by Gotye. (1.Delirium)

“Little Things” by One Direction. (1. Delirium)

 “Titanium” by Madilyn Bailey. (1. Delirium)

 “Cosmic Love” by Florence + The Machine. (1. Delirium)

 “Satellite” by The Wanted. (1. Delirium)

“They Don’t Know About Us” by One Direction. (1. Delirium)

“Give Me Love” by Ed Sheeran. (1. Delirium)

 “Too Close” by Alex Clare. (1. Delirium and 2. Pandemonium)

 “Falling In” by Lifehouse. (1. Delirium and 2. Pandemonium)

 “Blood” by the Editors. (1. Delirium and 2. Pandemonium)

“When I’m Alone” by Nevertheless. (2. Pandemonium)

“Without You” by Blake Lewis. (2. Pandemonium)

“The Scientist” by Coldplay. (2. Pandemonium)

 “Dropped” by Phantom Planet. (2.Pandemonium)

 “My Oh My” by David Gray. (2. Pandemonium)

 “Twenty Eight” by The Weeknd. (2. Pandemonium. Moments with Julian.)

 “Truly, Madly, Deeply” by One Direction. (2. Pandemonium)

 “Maneater” by Daryl Hall and John Oats. (2. Pandemonium. On the very last page, play this song.)

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Fallen Leaves.

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

–John 12:24

Have you ever taken the time to look outside your window and really LOOK beyond its panes to see the seasons outside? I used to live in Colorado and while living there, I experienced real seasons (where I live now, barely any trees change from green to brown unless there is a new water restriction in place). While I was a kid living there, my most favorite season was fall. There is something that is just breathtaking about trees during that time of the year. Fall is my season, and I really miss the vibrant colors that would take your breath away, the spicy, rich scent of decaying leaves heavy in the newly chilled air. Thinking back on those colors and smells, it makes me think about life and death, and how sometimes the end of something is greater, more beautiful and impacting than its beginning. (Ecclesiastes 7:8)

Today I was just sitting at my computer, wondering to myself, “What could I write about, and what could be important to share with people?” Then the seasons came to mind; there are so many seasons to our lives, good and bad, and I want to encourage you in them. The saying, “When it rains, it pours” is very true, and as my life goes on, I see it more and more for my family’s lives and my own. But it also has to do with perspective, too, and God is still good! He arises to each occasion, and as the trials get harder and harder, God gets stronger and stronger in your life. Seasons make no difference to God, the only difference is whether you give that season of your life up to God, allow Him to fix it the way He (not you) wants to. It is so hard to give them to God, but He has a greater capability than you and me, and He will do an amazing job compared to what we would be able to accomplish by ourselves.

At times when I look outside, I sometimes see Him. I see Him in the waves at the beach, the way they move so surely, so strong and powerfully; they are unwavering. I see Him in the cloudless night, stars shining so bright, all for us to behold and admire His beautiful handiwork. I see Him in the seasons, too, especially fall. The beauty of that season is absolutely amazing to me! The way everything explodes into color, as if it stored all its glory for the end, is just fabulous! The way each leaf seems to have its own breath, leaving a warm, spicy scent in its wake, a smell that remains long after it has died and shriveled away. I think life is the same way. King Solomon wrote that the “end of a thing is better than its beginning”, and now that I really think about it, I have to agree. Look at people in the Bible, how the most impacting people (Jesus for one) were people who laid down their lives for the Call, for God. Sometimes it wasn’t even by dying, but by laying down their lives (giving up what they wanted) for others. Those men and women who laid down their lives are like the fall season in the way that their end was so much more beautiful than their beginning; they shined bright and beautiful in their ends for all to see, all to remember. We, as Christians, are meant to die to ourselves, pick up our cross, and live for Christ, live like those men and women.(Mark 8:34) I’ll be honest; I am really, really bad at it. I like to live for myself; it feels good, but those feelings, I have realized, will not last forever. Who will I be when this life is done? How will I be known? Did I ever really do what I was called to? I guess I won’t know until I meet Him. But while I am here, I need to change, grow into who I was made to be. I don’t know who I am here on earth, but God knows, and He will show me; He can and will show you, too! So, I guess what I am trying to get at is this: we have to lay our desires, ourselves, aside for others for our sunrises to dawn. Jesus died for many, and His sunrise, His dawn will shine for all to see, even those who never wanted to see. It is time we follow His example (me especially) and create, with Him, our own special sunrises. The bigger the better, as long as you do it for and with Him! Are you up for that challenge? How great will your colors be, and who will people see within you? I hope that one day, close or far away, that someone will come to me and say, “I saw Jesus in yours.”

P.S. I like this quote by Charlotte Bronte. We don’t need to be perfect in life, just give it your best try!

“God does not look at the success of the efforts, but at the efforts themselves.”

–Charlotte Bronte

Defiance by C.J. Redwine (Defiance #1)

defiance by c.j. redwine

“Defiance” by C.J. Redwine

5 out of 5 stars!

I want to begin this post with, “WOW!” It has been a while (early this summer) since I have read an interesting dystopian society. There have been sooo many books that have come out as of late, and all of them follow a particular pattern: girl needs to be liberated, she falls in love, oops, a love triangle emerges, lots of people die, and girl turns into Katniss Everdeen (crazy, vengeful woman!). Generic is a great word to describe these trilogies (everybody wants to write a trilogy!), and only a few of these dystopian society books have actually caught my attention. Among these are Lauren Oliver’s “Delirium” trilogy, Lauren DeStefano’s “Wither”, and Kiera Cass’ “The Selection.” They were all really good, and I had so much fun reading them, and some of their societies were just so fascinating. Going into “Defiance” (which, again, was recommended by my awesome older sister!) I was expecting it to be good, but I was shocked with how much I loved it. Not only was the cover beautiful, but the story inside was even better!

“Defiance” is a dystopian society that is, in essence, generic. But instead of feeling bored out of my mind with it, I felt like I was reading something interesting and very entertaining. Sure, “Defiance” has a lot of similarities with those other books, but the way it was written made it so much better than them. Redwine was amazingly skillful in how she wrote her characters’ personalities, and she did a great job of making them stay true to themselves. C.J.’s characters grew and changed, but she didn’t change them in a way that was unrealistic (making them seem bipolar). Logan, smart and cool-headed, grew and changed, but his heart (his good and beautiful heart) was as faithful as ever despite all he went through. The same goes for Rachel, who was strong-willed to a fault, faithful, and a fierce lover and fighter. Rachel went through some major changes, but there are obvious reasons why she changed. I never felt like the story was forced, instead it felt fluid and well planned. Everything just flowed, as if you were floating along with the story instead of reading it. I also want to give C.J. Redwine kudos for not using language in her book. There were seriously TWO very mild swear words in the entire book! It was amazing and refreshing! Ahhh, time to end my spiel and get to the actual book.

“Defiance” begins with Rachel Adams standing by the city gate of Baalboden where she lives. She and her surrogate grandfather, Oliver, have been waiting for hours in the hopes that her father will return home this time, and in time. Rachel wants nothing more than her family to be reunited. But all of Rachel’s hopes and dreams of seeing her father again are dashed to pieces when Jordan Adams takes more than sixty days to arrive home from the Wasteland. Time was of the essence in Baalboden; gone sixty days and you are assumed dead by Baalboden’s leader and its people.

As the leader of Baalboden, the Commander can ask for anything and it will be done for him instantly. But the Commander never asks (has no need to), and when Rachel, his best courier’s daughter, is brought before him for the declaration of her father’s death and the reassignment of a protector, he finds a young girl that is perfect to prey upon. With the will of Jordan Adams read, all that is left is to put the assigned protector over Rachel, but the Commander has issues with him. Can the Commander still get what he wants with that boy in his way?

Logan is a nineteen year old know-it-all with a sorrowful past and painful present. Now added to his troubles is his mentor’s daughter, Rachel. Fiery like her red hair, Rachel is a handful and Logan knows it, has known it ever since she had declared her love for him on her father’s back porch and his reply had been unsatisfactory. Since then, Rachel has been like a frightened, and angry, horse around him, ready to rear back at any moment. Now he is to be her protector? What could his mentor and friend have wanted, and why did Adams trust him with his most prized possession?

Although Logan and Rachel have almost nothing in common, they eventually find a common goal to work together on, at least near each other, that is: find Jordan Adams and exact revenge upon the Commander for all the evil he has done. With fierce passion and determination, Logan and Rachel set out on their journey only to find themselves thrust into perilous circumstances that could cost them everything, even each other. Things get even worse when their plans for revenge turn sour and countless innocents are hurt because of it. Logan and Rachel realize they will have to put aside their grudges and personal vendettas to do what is right, not only for themselves, but for their people. But can they ever truly put aside their consuming anger and hurt, and look to their future; could that future  hold more than just satiated revenge?

I recommend “Defiance” to anyone who wants a new and amazing read! It is also really clean, for those of you who are wary of such things. Again, it had almost no language in it, and it was just pure, enjoyable fun all around. I absolutely loved Logan and am looking forward to the follow up books, but I will warn you, Rachel is at times Katniss-ish. Other than that, though, “Defiance” was a well-written adventure that gives dystopian novels/trilogies a good name. C.J. Redwine has created a new favorite of mine. I hope that you, too, can enjoy it as much as I did!

dancing

Stand for What is Right.

“This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.” –T.S. Eliot

As the world spins ’round I see more and more in myself things that I dislike. Shamefully so, I am not stubborn enough to stand for what is right; sometimes all I stand for is what benefits me right here, right now. But God wants more than that from me, from all of us. He sees what we are capable of, not only all the good we can bring to the world, but the evil which we create within our hearts. Despite that fact, He still wants us and tries every day to encourage us to aspire to be the best person we can be. God, since the beginning of time, has been planning for this moment. He has seen, has known, every action, even every word, before you and I did them or have yet to do them. He could make us do whatever He wants, but instead He chose (there is that amazing five letter word) to give us free will, knowing full well that in doing so that free will would provide us with the choice to either follow Him or destroy what He had made perfect. Yet, in all this, God still loved us, His fallen and flawed creation, and provided a way back to the perfection we were created to be:  the way is in Jesus. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was the life, and the life was the light of man. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it…””And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-5, 14) Sorry that was so long, but I wanted to make it clear that He had courage when He came to earth to die for us; He came so that creation could be healed, and that which had been broken should be mended through His sacrifice. Jesus, through the Blood, has broken all the barriers between us and God, and is now, even as we speak, interceding on our behalf. If that is not love, than I don’t know what is.

God gave us the freedom of choice, the free will to choose between fleeting pleasure or everlasting peace, life, and love, just like He gave Jesus the free will to come to earth to sacrifice Himself for all. Yes, we endure pain now, but so did Jesus, and He didn’t even do anything wrong. As the apostle Paul said in Romans, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed IN US”, (Romans 8:18), and also in Hebrews he says, “…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy the was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”(Hebrews. 12:2) Christ had “victory” on His mind and courage in His heart while up on the cross (that doesn’t mean it was easy). All that we endure now for the truth will be nothing compared to that which will be revealed in us. That is crazy cool! As we live, but do not belong,  in an age of wickedness and suffer because of it, we don’t need to fear because this life is fleeting, already passing from us. It is time we stored up for ourselves true and untarnishable treasures in heaven. Now, don’t get me wrong, you can’t earn salvation, it is given freely to anyone who accepts it with a sincere heart, but doing Gods will does come into play. We do things for God because we love Him, not because we have to earn our way into heaven. Ephesians 2:8-9 says that, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and not that of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

There are times, will be times, when God does ask us to act. This is the very reason I now write this post. There are seasons in each of our lives when we are asked to do something very difficult, and that mission will require courage, courage like Jesus had on the cross. As I have grown older I see why courage is so vital to a Christian’s, any person’s, life, and the reason for this is because every choice we make requires courage even if it only a drop of it. It takes courage to get up in the morning and live your life when things get hard. It takes courage to stick to what you believe. It takes courage to speak up in a crowded room so you can be heard over everyone (especially if you hate crowds). It takes courage to look the enemy in the eye and say “No more!” It takes, at least for me, courage to read the Bible and to face the fact that I have made another mistake. But God is sooo good. There is a Christian song by One Sonic Society called “Now and Forever.” The lyrics are beautiful (to me at least). One of the most beautiful parts is when the guy sings, “I stand in awe, I stand amazed at all You’ve done for me”, and another line he sings is, “Who can I compare to you my God, there is no other love like Your’s”, and “You love me as I am, Your forgiveness knows no end, my sin is gone…” Whenever we face a fear, God is near (hey, it rhymed!) to us. Once the situation is over with and we have tried our best, He is so proud! You once again defied the devil who was trying to keep you chained to fear. Sometimes being courageous is just standing for one minute longer than someone else. (George S. Patton) As you stand, you will get stronger and stronger until you no longer have to go down, instead you can carry others until they, too, learn how to stand against the devil. The only way  evil (evil is the devil without the “d”) can win is when good people are too scared to speak up. As T.S. Eliot said, our world ends not with a bang but with a whimper. When good people do not arise, do not stand against what is wrong, that is when the world ends. There is a reason God did not make Jesus’ life, Paul’s life, John’s life, or Peter’s life easy. He raised up the weak men to become  mighty (1 Corinthians 1:27) to encourage our hearts, and tells about their trials to bolster our faith.

We are not alone in our fears, our burdens, the devil just wants you to think that. You never have to be alone, it is a choice. Life is a choice, freedom is a choice, courage is a choice. What is your choice? How will your world end: with a bang or a whimper?

An Echo in the Darkness by Francine Rivers

an echo in the darkness by francine rivers

“An Echo in the Darkness” by Francine Rivers.

5 out of 5 stars.

An Echo in the Darkness is the riveting conclusion to Francine River’s fabulous novel “A Voice in the Wind”, and is the climactic ending of Marcus’, Julia’s, and Hadassah’s stories. An Echo in the Darkness is beautifully written, and will surprise its readers as to how just one small person like Hadassah can affect so many peoples’ lives, and in turn, an empire. Sometimes one voice can be louder than many, and it, small as it is, can make a greater difference than a thousand others which stand against it. It starts with one.

Marcus is changed in An Echo in the Darkness. Sure, he is still enigmatic and has his tempting looks, but it is just a shell, a ruse to deceive those who don’t care to look any deeper than the flesh. He is drawn into himself, now that his beloved Hadassah is gone, and shuns the social interactions which he had once found so stimulating. After enjoying Hadassah’s pure and quiet company, he finds that those gatherings are now just raucous chaos and are dissatisfying. Marcus Valerian now prefers quiet, albeit dark, solitude to his friends’ drunken revelries, at least people he had once called friends. With Hadassah, he had tasted the finest of all delicacies, but now the dust of despair fills his mouth. Life no longer has meaning, wealth and pleasure are worth nothing, and his life is of no value to him.  When she died, he too would have been better off dying with her is what he believes, for every day is another death. Life without her is a life without hope, and a life is no life at all without the hope of love. But a powerful force seems to have an entirely different plan for Marcus in mind. Marcus Valerian, owner of an entire trading empire, eventually decides to travel to Judea, with the hope in his heart of seeing and touching the places where Hadassah had been. He wants to breathe the same air she did, be where she had been, find some kind of peace and rest for his soul, if he even has one, to quench the torment that burns in his heart. But instead of finding peace, he encounters many unexpected trials. Nearly dying after being attacked by zealots and left to rot in a wadi, Marcus tries to find the meaning to why he was ever created. Does life really have meaning, or is it all smoke and mirrors? Taken down a path and on a journey he never could have anticipated, Marcus begins to wonder if he  had really only been just seeing Hadassah’s inner beauty, or if he had glimpsed something more withing her? Would he have been able to love Hadassah had this thing not been in her? And would she have been irreversibly different without it?

Hadassah is alive and well. Alexander Democedes, an aspiring physician, could have killed Hadassah via vivisection, but instead decided to risk his own life by taking her from the Colosseum. For that, Hadassah is eternally grateful to her newfound friend, but she has paid dearly because of his choice, too. Hadassah now lives in chronic pain from her wounds, and exists in a constant state of sorrow over the loss of Marcus. But she is not hopeless, nor is she ungrateful for what Democedes did. Hadassah had believed that she was meant to die in the arena, was even at peace with it, but He apparently had different plans for her life. With the help of her friend, Hadassah recovers physically if not entirely emotionally; soon she also becomes, with the help of her Lord, a renowned healer. Hundreds come to see Rapha, the Healer, and Hadassah and Alexander eventually are called to a very rich idol makers home in the hopes that they will be able to save his wife’s and baby’s lives. Just in time Hadassah and Alexander Democedes arrive and save both of their patients’ lives. As more and more people come to Alexander to see and hear from “Rapha”, it becomes difficult to cater to all of them in the little rented room near the baths, which had become Alexander’s practice. Moving to a bigger place is the only option. But with their move also comes trials. Very unluckily, Democedes’ practice comes to the notice of one of Julia Valerian’s remaining slaves. Wary of the woman who nearly cost Hadassah her life, he does not aspire to help Julia comfortable during her terminal illness, an illness her own actions have caused. Although Alexander does not wish to help her, Hadassah feels compelled to fulfill the promise she had made to Phoebe Valerian to protect and serve her mistresses daughter. It was time to finish what she had begun over seven years ago. But can she endure Julia’s constant whining? Can Hadassah conquer her fear, and tell Julia who she is, tell her all is forgiven? And where is Marcus, and why does he never come to visit his beloved sister?

Julia Valerian is very much herself in An Echo in the Darkness. Selfish, insolent, ignorant of others’ feelings, and empty, Julia is herself, only worse. The demons she fought while her devoted slave, Hadassah, was with her now consume her every waking moment. With no goodness or true beauty in her life, they have free reign in her selfish existence. Julia is sinking quickly into the mire she has created for herself and she has no one to save her. Cast off by her brother and estranged from her mother–all due to her own choices–she battles her deadly illness alone, alone that is, until the mysterious Azar comes to stay with Julia. Azar has recently become famous, along with her friend, Alexander Democedes, for her miraculous healing “powers.” Can she heal Julia like she has all the others? And why does Azar stay when Julia treats her so terribly? Even Julia wonders!

An Echo in the Darkness has many impacting moral concepts, and Francine wraps things up very well with each character. The end brought more than a few tears to my eyes because of its bitter sweet ending. Even if you don’t enjoy Christian fiction, give this book  a try. An Echo in the Darkness (like A Voice in the Wind) is one of my absolute favorite books, and is also a cherished possession. I only hope that you, too, can be as blessed by this beautifully redemptive story as I was, and still am every time I read it.