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The Waiting Tree

The Waiting Tree - Lindsay Moynihan If I was going to describe this book in one word, it would be gritty. From the small, Louisiana town that’s rotting away, to the four brothers trying to make it on their own, and the struggling cast of characters, this is not a pleasant slice of life to immerse yourself in, even if for a few hours. That being said, I did need to know what happened that I ended up reading this book in one sitting and completely lost track of time. I got entirely sucked in to Simon’s story.From the impression I got reading the summary for this story, I thought the majority of this book would be about how Simon dealt with being ostracized in his town due to his relationship with Stephen. While that certainly plays a part in the story, there’s a lot more than just that. Simon, in short, has a pretty crappy life. Paul, the oldest brother, is one of the most frustrating characters I’ve ever read. He’s abusive, controlling, and hypocritical. Luke, Simon’s other older brother, might agree with Simon but refuses to speak up. Simon’s job is awful, he’s the only one who seems to make any real effort to make their household run, his boyfriend was sent away by his parents, and he’s constantly having to pick up other people’s pieces. Basically, I would not want his life.Simon is probably the only reason I was able to continue reading this book–I think otherwise it might have been just too depressing for me, but I felt for Simon as a character. His struggles really shine through the page and he just can’t seem to fit in anywhere. It’s not until he really has the opportunity to care for himself first that he makes any real progress, and by that time I was rooting for him for so long that any little improvement in his life seemed like a huge accomplishment worth celebration.Final Impression: This isn’t an easy or fun book by any means, but it’s a good one. It’s gritty and very dark at times, but is also intelligent and has a few really great characters. It’s not really as much about Simon being as outcast as it is his life in general, and I think this focus makes for a really well-done, if depressing, book. 4/5 stars.

A Corner of White (The Colours of Madeleine #1)

A Corner of White - Jaclyn Moriarty I really hate that I don't like this book. Based on the summary alone, this is such a "Me!" book. I love when parallel worlds collide or when a book has a really quirky and entertaining plot, but this one just didn't do it for me.I decided to not finish this one because at 30% in, I still couldn't care about the characters or felt like I really had a good grasp on them, especially Madeleine. Elliot was more fleshed-out, but even still I never felt anything resonant with me in this story. I found myself skipping pages and eyeing my progress warily. I also had trouble getting absorbed in to the story because I could never forget I was reading someone's writing. Normally there's a moment within the first few pages of a book that makes me forget I'm reading words and make me become absorbed in to the story again, but that never happened in this book. Some of the description was over-the-top and I couldn't overlook it. I like experimental and quirky writing, but it has to suck me in to the story first. I remember reading a line about car headlights scowling and I had to just sit there for a few seconds re-reading the sentence to make sure I read it right the first time.I did enjoy the the chapters that were set in the world of Cello more, even though they tended to be confusing. I think if I read on I probably would have understood the world better, but I did like the quirky and unique aspects of it. I think I could have really liked this book if it was set only in Cello. As much as I love parallel world stories, this one just didn't do it for me. There are definitely readers who will enjoy this book in all it's fun, quirky aspects, but I just didn't feel enough connection to the characters to continue with the story.

Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré This is my least favorite Harry Potter book, and it actually doesn't have to do with Harry's whining(I find that completely understandable, after what he's been through), but because the last 300 pages have always dragged for me. I know there's a lot of plot-relevant information in this book, but I always find myself skimming the last third, wanting to get on to the magicalness that is The Half-Blood Prince.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré Until the seventh book was released, this was my favorite book in the series. I identify it as the transition book. Books 1 and 2 are clearly meant for young readers, but books 4-7 are darker, more grown-up, and have more at stake, leaving Prisoner of Azkaban somewhere in the middle, which I think is why I love it so much. Plus: the introduction of Sirius Black.

Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska - What can I possibly say about Looking for Alaska that hasn’t been said already? I resolved to read a John Green novel this year, so when I was gift shopping at Target and saw that shiny red bulls-eye sticker proclaiming this book was 20% off, I couldn’t help but to grab a copy of this deceptively slim book. I had put a quite a bit of pressure on this book. John Green seems to be on everyone favorite authors list, so I felt the need to be blown away by this book right off the bat.The first thirty pages left me a bit confused on why this book was such a YA classic. Miles was entertaining enough in his own head, but nothing seemed particularly interesting about him. Then Alaska walked into his life, and I started to understand. Alaska is a force of a character. She’s all over the map and she admits it herself. She’s incredibly intelligent, witty, and has a love for literature that rivals my own, but she also is full of self-loathing, destructive behaviors, and spirals out of control within seconds.Sometimes the novel seemed to wander aimlessly, but I always had a feeling we were headed towards something. Even the most mundane scenes seemed to have meaning the further along in the book I went. I loved the way the book tied so many things together, from Miles’ obsession with last words to Alaska’s love of poetry, suffering, the human condition, etc. It’s a short book, but it tackles many issues within the pages, even though I never got the impression that the book was written with an overarching theme. There clearly is a theme present, but it develops organically from the characters and who they are, not forced by the author.There are also some amazing sentences in this book. I’d go along, reading what sounded like a relatively normal teenage boy’s point of view, and then out of nowhere beautiful sentences would pop up. Sentences like the following:So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was a drizzle and she was a hurricane.I know it’s one of the most popular quotes from the book and practically everyone’s heard it, but it was just one of many parts of the book that lodged itself into my brain and refuse to leave. Besides just how great of wording that sentence is, it’s also true. Alaska is wild and a bit beautiful, but destructive, whereas Miles, at least at first, is steady and safe but unimpressive. And the more I read, the more that became the entirety of the book that made a home in my mind and refuses to leave.It’s too early for me to say, but I think this may become one of my “Very Special Books”. That title can only be given on multiple readings, but it’s given to books that become more than just books to me, that help me measure my life and remember who I am and what words mean to me. At the moment, Looking for Alaska has a high chance of becoming a Very Special Book.Final Impression: Despite my reservations at the beginning of the book, this story soon grabbed hold of me and refused to leave. I became enamored with these characters and their antics. The ideas of this book totally captivated me and I understand why this book means so much to so many people. 5/5 stars. Review originally posted on my blog at Book.Blog.Bake.

Everneath

Everneath - I’ll admit I was hesitant to pick up this book. I was compelled by the summary, but I was afraid the book would fall into some of the stereotypes of paranomal YA that I have a hard time handling; specifically, that it would encourage jerky behavior from its male leads and uphold that type of behavior for a love interest. Luckily, the book totally exceeded my expectations.Nikki is at times, quite a mess of a character, but she’s also compelling. She definitely has some self-destructive tendencies, but can also be really self-determined and convinced what she’s doing is right. I think I would have been slightly annoyed with Nikki at times except I could never stop feeling sorry for what had happened to her. The idea of someone else feeding off your energy for a century, leaving you a broken shell, is enough to make me literally cringe.Jack and Cole are both fantastically written characters. They’re both intriguing in their own ways while being complete opposites of one another. Jack is the perfect, steady character that Nikki really needs when she returns, even if things between them are incredibly awkward at first. I like that at first we don’t know exactly what Jack’s role is, since the book is told from Nikki’s POV. I felt like I was figuring Jack out as Nikki was figuring him out for the second time.There is just so much going on in Everneath(in a good way!). You can read it as a mythological retelling, or as a story of the foundation of love, but there’s a lot of undercurrents about the price of immortality, what constitutes a human being, and who heroes are. These aren’t all themes that might be evident on a quick read-through, but they’re definitely prominent enough that I feel they should be acknowledged. These underlying tensions are really what compels me to the series, and why I want to keep reading.Final Impression: I wasn’t sure if I would like this book or not, but I liked the different take on mythology that I feel isn’t explored as much as some other lore. Even though Nikki had some pretty self-defeating behavior and thoughts sometimes, I never felt like I didn’t get where she was coming from. The way the characters are written and the subtle themes that run underneath this work make this a 4/5 star read for me.Review originally posted on my blog at Book.Blog.Bake.

Going Vintage

Going Vintage - Lindsey Leavitt I don’t normally use this word to describe books, but here it is: cute. This book is cute, and it’s the best word I can come up with for this book. It’s not going to go on a “this-is-my-favorite-book-ever-list”, but it will go on my “read in case of bad day list”. It’ that kind of book.Mallory can be an incredibly dramatic character at times, but she’s the type of character who knows how dramatic she’s being. This makes her behavior, like the obsession with the list, endearing and outlandish in a fun way instead of whiny and ridiculous. It’s hidden behind a lot of fun, but Mallory really does learn a lot through the course of the story. Even as she realizes the golden moral we all know the story will get to eventually, that the list won’t solve all her problems and being a teenager is hard whether in 1962 or 2012, she grows in many more subtle ways as well.One of the things I liked most about this book is how none of the characters come across as being one dimensional. Even Jeremy, Mallory’s ex-boyfriend, doesn’t come across as a villain. He’s definitely a jerk at times(cheating with a girl online tends to get you stuck with that label), but he realizes his mistakes and all in all, acts like a believable human being. I absolutely loved Gina, Mallory’s younger sister. Mallory has such a great relationship with her sister, even through their arguments, and it’s nice to see a sibling relationship presented so positively. They’re great friends and are there for each other(for the most part). I love the idea of lists that runs throughout this book. I”m a list-maker too, so I always appreciate it when they play a feature in a story. Of course, the grand The List of 1962 in the focus of the story, but Mallory makes lists constantly, and it seems like there’s one almost every chapter. I think, more than anything, is what really gave me insight into Mallory’s character. At first, she doesn’t have a lot of self-identity outside of Jeremy, so the lists were a way for me to connect with her as she grew as a character and, as the cliche goes, found herself.Final Impression: Going Vintage was cute, fun, and a little quirky. Even though Mallory could be dramatic at times, she was charming as were most of the supporting characters. There’s a lot of fun in this book, but there’s a pretty good theme running underneath it all. It’s the perfect book to read as a pick-me-up type of read. 4/5 stars.Review also posted on my blog at Book.Blog.Bake.

Ten Girls to Watch

Ten Girls to Watch: A Novel - Charity Shumway There are quite a few things I really liked about Ten Girls to Watch. I like Dawn as a character. She’s believable and honestly, quite similar to me. She has a dream that she’s working towards, but she’s not an instant success story, which is something that I loved. So often you’ll read a story where the main character is a struggling, aspiring actress or writer or singer or what-have-you, but by the end of the novel they have a record deal or have written a book or have become really well-off. Dawn definitely leaves the story in a better place than when she started, but it’s not like she want from online writer to magazine editor-in-chief in a year. I liked seeing all the different women that Dawn interviews for the Ten Girls to Watch feature. It really highlights how many different ways there are to be inspiring and be successful. One of the women was a first grade teacher for forty years; another wrote a novel, and both of those are celebrated as achievements, as well as many others. It many ways, this book is all about celebrating success–but not the type of narrowly defined success we normally see. You’re a politician? Success. You’ve been happily married for thirty years? Success.However,there were a few things I didn’t enjoy. There’s a few love interests, none of which take up that much page time, but none of them caught my interest. None of them were terrible human beings by any means, but they weren’t particularly interesting either, and I found myself bored during the time when Dawn was really concentrating on a guy, which might have been while the middle of this book dragged for me a little. The book’s pacing seemed a little off; I could have done with some more complications in the middle and less towards the end. However, neither of these complaints severely hindered my lack of enjoyment in the novel.Final Impression: An enjoyable read with a character whose story line is both compelling and realistic. Though there were a few minor issues with this book, especially in the middle, this is still a book I would highly recommend, especially since it focuses on the year post-college graduation, which I wish to see more of in books. I particularly like how this book celebrates achievements. A (strong) 3/5 stars. Originally reviewed on my blog Book.Blog.Bake.

Before I Fall

Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver The first thing I learned while reading Before I Fall? Lauren Oliver is an amazing writer. I fell in love with her writing style in Delirium, but had mixed thoughts about Pandemonium, so I wasn't sure how I would feel about her writing something more contemporary. Lauren Oliver has this amazing way of saying the most beautiful things without her prose sounding overly flowering or like something that could never come from a teenager’s mouth. It’s unlike any other author’s writing that I can think of. It just stands out so well.Even though I flew through this book, I admit it was hard at times because of Samantha, the main character. She’s definitely one of her high school’s “mean girls”, and like most people, I experienced my share of humiliation at the hands of popular girls in my high school as well, which made me want to dislike Samantha. Lauren Oliver made that hard, though. Samantha and her friends do some pretty awful things, but it’s not like they’re just awful people. Along the way, we see the potential each of them has to be an amazing adult once they grow out of that “immature/popular” stage. Samantha and her friends genuinely care about each other, despite their flaws, and seek to protect one another. I was torn between wanting to hate them and not being able to. By the end of the book, none of them are that much better off than where they started, but there is some growth. Emotionally, I did want to see more change in the girls, but I think the way it was portrayed was more realistic. The way the story was structured, over the course of seven days, worked really well. I thought I would tire of Samantha living the same day over and over, but enough changed each day to make it interesting. I enjoyed the latter half of the novel more than the first half.The first couple of days that Samantha relives, she spends most of her time trying to figure out what’s going on. Not quite as gripping as days four through seven. This book, to me, showcases all the best features that good young adult literature has to offer: great and realistic characterization of teenagers, even the ones that are mean, a good look at the fragile structure of a high school social ladder, and the exploration of identity and moving past mistakes. Samantha isn’t a saint by the end of the novel, by any means, but she really begins to explore herself and the person she is and who she wants to be. She also realizes that her actions have consequences, but not in a way that seems at all preachy or forced.Final Impression: Going back to the days of high school is not exactly fun, but Before I Fall does a terrific job of really exploring a teenager’s identity. The premise of the book is perfect for the story that Lauren Oliver is trying to tell, and her writing is just absolutely stunning. 5/5 stars. Review first posted on my blog at Book.Blog.Bake.

Breathe

Breathe - For some reason, Breathe reminds me of Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi. It’s not the plot or the characters or anything, but it just seems similar in writing style and tone. However, I ended up liking Breathe much better. From a Dystopia standpoint, I find the world that’s created in Breathe well-done because it only seems unlikely, not impossible. Sarah Crossan bridges what’s currently going on in the world–the mass cutting of trees– with what could happen as a result in the future, and it’s frightening. I liked each of the three main characters in this book. They were all sympathetic while still being completely different, and their development as the plot progresses is evident. Alina realizes what is exactly so important about the world she’s fighting for, while Quinn emerges from a sheltered standpoint to become an informed and incredibly brave character. Bea starts off the story willing to do anything to protect her family, and while she still has that urge by the end, she realizes the bigger picture that she wants to help the world achieve.One of my favorite things about this book is the way the three main characters relate to their families. Alina is an orphan who has been fighting because of what happened to her parents, but both Bea and Quinn have a significant amount of interaction with their families. Bea in particular has a family that’s devoted to her and she to them, which unfortunately seems to be a rarity in the books I’ve read recently(with a few exceptions). Quinn’s father is probably the most interesting secondary character in the novel. He has this secret life and seems completely heartless at times, but then he does something and you realize he’s just an incredibly flawed human.While I thoroughly enjoyed Breathe, I did have a few problems with parts of the book. For one, the narration switched between the three main characters. I like this technique when done well, but Alina’s voice and Bea’s voice were too similar and sometimes made for a confusing read. Sometimes I’d get a few pages in, realize that I didn’t know who was speaking, and have to go back to the front of the chapter. Also, while the story is well-told, some of the writing was a bit repetitive. Sarah Crossan wrote some magnificent sentences, but she also wrote some that were completely confusing and redundant. This wasn’t a constant, which makes me think it may have been an editorial error instead, but it was frequent enough to be noticeable. There were probably about 5 or 6 times throughout the book where the same word would be used in consecutive sentences, and it just threw me off.There also seem to be a lull in the middle of the book. I flew through the first forty percent of the book, but between the forty and fifty-five percent mark I dragged. The ending, however, was phenomenal. It’s not a completely wrapped-up ending–there’s definitely a bit of a cliffhanger–but it does have this nice, quiet quality almost. It’s hard to describe how I feel about the ending, but it’s probably the most perfect way I could think of for a series starter such as Breathe to end.Final Impression: At times the writing was a bit distracting, and I couldn’t keep up with the narration switches, but on the whole Breathe was an enjoyable Dystopia read that had a world that made sense. I really grew to love the characters and their developments the more time I spent with them. Breathe has a great ending in my opinion, and I’m excited for the next installment in this series. 4/5 stars. Review originally posted on my blog at Book.Blog.Bake.

Someday, Someday, Maybe: A Novel

Someday, Someday, Maybe - Lauren Graham I know Lauren Graham best as Lorelei Gilmore from Gilmore Girls, my favorite TV show ever, so I was a bit nervous about reading her book. You know how some actress and singers really shouldn’t try to write? Luckily, Lauren Graham doesn’t belong in that category. By about fifteen percent in to the story, I totally forgot the reason I even heard of this book was because Lauren Graham wrote it. That fact just faded away into the story, which captivated me completely in the lights and hustle of New York and the struggles of Franny as she seeks an acting career.Franny was a great protagonist. Talented, but not an instant star. Not a weak heroine by any means, but also prone to despair at times. Determined, but sometimes easily persuaded by others. Smart and witty, but sometimes says stupid things. In short: Franny is a real person. A person I would like to hang out with, but a person with dreams, failures, faults, and strengths.The plot for Someday, Someday Maybe isn’t complex or thick, but it’s enjoyable. Franny really carries the weight of the story on her back, and she does so spectacularly. I really enjoyed the New York setting and how Franny sometimes seemed to struggle against the city, trying to balance her current job and her dream job. The book is set in 1995, which gave it an almost “Friends” feel to me. That pulled me out of the story a little more than I would have liked at times, but on the whole the setting was well-done. This isn’t the type of book that will have you pondering all the tiny elements of the plot, but it’s such an enjoyable read I didn’t even care if it was in a genre I typically don’t read.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide - I’ve been reading mostly fiction lately, so it was a bit difficult for me to get back in the right frame of mind to read nonfiction, even though it’s one of my favorite genres. A journalistic work like Half the Sky is structured so differently than fiction books that it took me awhile to adjust, and for the first forty pages or so I was experiencing some pretty heavy dissonance. I was interested in the subject but having trouble concentrating on what points the authors were actually making, especially since they just dived right in to the subject matter.Soon, though, I was able to really understand what I was reading and my heart was broken. This was a really necessary read for me, I think, to learn about what struggles women face across the globe. Some of the anecdotes that were shared crushed me to really think of what was happening to women across the world. Even though I’ve heard all the statistics, to hear actual stories and sometimes even see pictures of women who have endured horrible abuse really hit home.This is a book everyone should read in order to gain a better understanding of the world. In most places, it’s an extremely balanced look at global issues and when the author’s biases come through, disclaimers are quickly made. It’s a very accessible book that sheds light on issues I didn’t even know were issues, but now that I do, I can’t ignore them.In short, I’m really glad I decided to read these book, and I think it’s a book that would leave most people feeling the same way.Final Impression: I would have liked a better frame of reference at the beginning of the book, but once I got about twenty percent in I was able to really get into the issues and stories that were being talked about. This book did a great job of sharing stories instead of just statistics and I think it would make an impact on most people. 4/5 stars.Review originally appeared on my blog at Book.Blog.Bake.

If I Stay

If I Stay - I don't normally cry at books. To date, the only books that have made me genuinely cry are: Mutiny on the Bounty, The Book Thief, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.Now If I Stay has been added to the list. And when I say cry, I don’t mean a few tears dripped down my cheeks. No, I mean I sobbed at this book. Legitimately had sobs racking my chest and had trouble catching my breath. This book destroyed me, and I love it for it.There are so many wonderful things about this book, I don’t really know where to start. I love how much music is a theme of this book. Mia, our main character, is SO passionate about music, and I loved reading about her passion.Every time Mia described how much she loved playing the cello, I thought about how much I love words–stringing them into sentences that impart a deeper meaning and reading when others do the same.Mia’s family is at first heartwarming and then heartbreaking. I think it was a really great portrayal of a family that is close to each other and loves each other dearly, while still not being perfect. Sometimes in YA families are absent or just completely dysfunctional, and it’s hard to find a family that seems realistic. Mia’s family does, if a little unlikely.Mia isn’t your strong, fiery protagonist, but she has, I think, a very quiet strength. She’s really a very normal girl except for her musical ability. You get the idea when reading this that you could easily pass Mia on the streets and not notice her at all. She’s timid and uncertain at times, but she’s also incredibly real, which makes the story that much more poignant. Even though this book is emotional, it never felt gimmicky or like the author was trying on purpose to make me cry. The story was handled so carefully that I never felt I was being emotionally manipulated, even though the very premise of the book does promise a certain emotional reaction. Reading about the choice that Mia had to make and how she kept going back and forth because of everything was heartbreaking. It was an incredibly beautiful look at an individual life.The plot in this book is pretty thin; I’d say it’s much more character-driven than plot-driven. It’s slow moving, though captivating, and while I loved this book, I think it’s important to point out because I know that this type of slow, introspective book doesn’t appeal to everyone. Just something to be aware of if you’re thinking about picking up this book.Final Impression: From the beginning to the very end, I was captivated by the heartbreaking story of Mia and her choice. One of the few books to prompt such an emotional reaction in me that I actually cried, I recommend this book to everyone, even people who don’t traditionally like Young Adult. Such a beautiful book, and I’m sure it won’t be my last Gayle Forman novel. 5/5 stars.Review first posted on my blog Book.Blog.Bake.

Winter of Fire (Point)

Winter of Fire - Sherryl Jordan I read Winter of Fire for the first time in sixth grade ten years ago. I devoured the story, and it never really left me. Unfortunately, Winter of Fire is out of print, but every time I went to a used book sale I searched for it, until I finally found it for cheap on Amazon a few years ago. This was my third time reading Winter of Fire, and I have to say, it never gets old.Winter of Fire is definitely a middle-grade book, which was a little hard to get used to after reading so many young adult books lately, but I quickly slipped back in to the story. Elsha is one of the most fiery characters I’ve ever come across in any type of literature, and she won’t leave you without a fight. She’s defiant, strong, and ruthless in her pursuit of justice and ending oppression for her people. She knows there’s more to life than what she’s been given, and she doesn’t let obstacles get in her way easily. In many ways, she's Katniss before Katniss existed. Every time I read Winter of Fire, I see more of the themes of feminism and justice than I did during my initial sixth grade reading, but even then, I could tell that part of Elsha’s character was about deliberately being a strong female. In Elsha’s society, the female Quelled people are the lowest class of citizens, barely better than animals. They’re not even granted the title of woman–instead, they’re called “Harsha”. It may be her lot in life, but Elsha refuses to submit quietly, and I love her for it.This story is actually less action-oriented than I remember. Elsha does have adventures and dangers ahead of her, but what’s more important is the people she comes in to contact with on said adventures. She encounters an entire spectrum of reactions. Some accept her more readily, while others look at her in contempt, and through each character, the world around Elsha is built a little more. It’s an amazing, bleak world. Sherryl Jordan isn’t the type to spend an entire paragraph describing the world around Elsha, but in just a simple sentence I was transported to the dark land where it’s always cold and firestones are the only source of warmth and life. This is one of my most-recommended books of all time, and after another re-reading, I remember why. It’s out of print, but you can find used copies on amazon, and I highly recommend doing so. It has such powerful themes about oppression and gender equality, all the while being cloaked in an amazing story with one of my favorite protagonists ever. Final Impression: Just an amazing, amazing book with some of my favorite characters ever. I’m so sad this book is out of print, and it is easily one of my top ten favorite books of all time. Few books have competition with it on my bookshelf. Read it if you can, whether that’s buying a used copy or checking it out from the library!

Pandemonium (Delirium Series #2)

Pandemonium (Delirium Series #2) - I was pretty disappointed with Pandemonium as the sequel to Delirium. I fell in love with Delirium right away. It simply blew away all my expectations and held me in a death grip made of excitement and beautiful writing, and I hoped Pandemonium would do the same. I know Pandemonium is the second book in the Delirium trilogy, so I still have high hopes for Requiem, but I will say my overall impression of this series is lower now.Pandemonium is not a bad book; it just doesn’t compare to Delirium in the slightest. First, the writing in this book was not nearly as captivating as the writing in Delirium. Remember this amazing passage from Delirium?:“You can build walls all the way to the sky and I will find a way to fly above them. You can try to pin me down with a hundred thousand arms, but I will find a way to resist. And there are many of us out there, more than you think. People who refuse to stop believing. People who refuse to come to earth. People who love in a world without walls, people who love into hate, into refusal, against hope, and without fear.”I missed that prose throughout Pandemonium. This book is also told in two different in two different timelines: “Then” chapters and the “now” chapters. “Then” chapters follow Lena straight from the end of Delirium and document her time in the wilds, while the “now” chapters deal with Lena as part of the resistance and her interactions with the cured and the DFA. I am normally a huge fan of timeline and POV splits. I know many people don’t like them as a rule, but many times they’re my favorite way to read and to tell a story. However, I really just didn’t feel it in Pandemonium. I found the “Then” chapters much less compelling because they were interspersed throughout the book, so I already knew that Lena survived to the current point in time. It made them feel unnecessary. I think I would have liked this book a lot more if the story had been told chronologically.I will say I liked the inclusion of Julian’s character and the parallels that the relationship between Lena and Julian had to the relationship between Lena and Alex. I felt in many ways, Lena was playing the role for Julian that Alex had played for her to open her eyes up to the world around her and show her that love is not necessarily evil, as she had been taught. Even though I’m not sure how I feel about this new love triangle development, I did like how the relationships reflected each other.I also really enjoyed the story line of the book. At the end of Delirium, I knew that story could continue in so many different ways. I really wanted Lena to join the resistance, and I thought she would, but there was always that doubt in my mind. She had just undergone quite a tragedy and I expected more of Pandemonium to be dedicated to her starting to work through that.Also, as to the “twist” at the end: not terribly twisty. I always thought the story would end there, ever since the end of Delirium. I read novels with a lot of character deaths, and most of them have a certain “feel” for me. Alex’s death didn’t have that seem feel. I never really thought he died, so all of Pandemonium I was just waiting for him to show back up, which meant the ending didn’t really pack a punch for me at all.Final Impression: Ultimately, I found Pandemonium okay, but thought it was a bit weak as the sequel to Delirium. I’m still invested in the characters and their lives, but I wasn’t as much of a fan of the way this part of Lena’s story was told. The time-jumping and predictability make this read nowhere near the level of love I have for Delirium. 3/5 stars. Review originally posted on my blog at Book.Blog.Bake.

I Heart Sex Workers: A Christian Response to People in the Sex Trade

I Heart Sex Workers: A Christian Response to People in the Sex Trade - Lia Claire Scholl On the whole, I Heart Sex Workers is a very balanced, insightful look at what the Christian response to the sex industry should be. It does a good job of debunking myths, providing real stories of workers, and quite a bit of experience. However, the main thing I couldn't get over is the author's portrayal of those fighting human trafficking. Towards the beginning of the book, this portrayal was fair and balanced, as well as making the good points that people working in those agencies don't always "get" what's really going on. Fair enough. However, towards the end it began to feel a bit more personal and it put me off just a little bit. Overall, though, this book is a necessity for any Christian really interested in seeing what a good response to that entire industry would be.