Delirium is the first book of a trilogy by Lauren Oliver.

Delirium Book Cover

Writing style: 4.5/5

Oliver has a way with words, manipulating them into melodies, rather than just simple sentence. It feels like there is a rhythm to what she puts on the page and she is deliberate with every description, piece of dialogue, even the run on sentences she favors. It’s all meant to bring this first person POV to life, help you better imagine and feel the world she’s creating. I especially love how she describes the setting of Portland, Maine – I read somewhere that Oliver spent some time in the city just to make sure she got the details right.

One thing I noticed is that her metaphors hardly ever use the similes “as” or “like” (at least the way she writes makes these not stand out as much). This gives her prose that poetic feel; however, it could get drawn out and melodramatic sometimes, especially when she would do standalone paragraphs at the beginning or end of chapters to set the mood or do character development.

Creativity of story: 4/5

I don’t want to put too many spoilers in this review, but Oliver’s world is basically a love story set in a world without love.

The world of Delirium centers around the notion that love is a disease. I think it’s a great idea to turn an emotion, something so erratic and wild, into a plague that needs to be eradicated, managed, handled. The way the government in this story does this is pretty interesting and realistic, and I enjoyed learning more about the world than I did the love story between Lena and Alex. Why? It didn’t really feel electric or real. It was juvenile, but then again, that’s because the story calls for it – Lena has shunned the idea of love almost her entire life. Watching their love story unfold just wasn’t the most exciting part about this book for me.

Overall thoughts: Worth Reading

It’s got classic elements – the innocent blossoming of first love – and these wild, uncharted territories – love is a disease, it is illegal, and it will kill you. As I mentioned, the love story here is sub-par compared to the world building, and the development of Lena’s character. Her background, the way her thinking evolves over the course of the book, and the secrets about her life are really intriguing. Even her relationships with everyone but Alex are very interesting to watch. I just started the second book in the series, Pandemonium, and so far it seems like Lena has gotten even better as a character.

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Two weeks ago, I spent 7 days writing the third draft of my novel. It’s the first time I’ve ever completed a story from beginning to end. The first and second draft of this story, written in short increments (usually just 15 minutes a day) over the past 2.5 years, were never really “finished.” I’d stop working on the draft a few chapters shy of the actual end because I was still working that part out. But this time I did it. I really finished the book (this version of it anyway).

Karra Barron Novel Writing October 2015 Update

I thought it would be interesting to capture some of my thoughts and feelings during this period. I wrote all day long, typically for 8 hours, with my longest sprint being 15 hours straight on the last day. However, the notes below don’t really capture one of my takeaways form this week of writing: it’s hard and slow-going before it becomes easy, but at some point, the words seem to just flow out of you. I hardly noticed that 15 hours had gone by, I was so engrossed in what I was doing. It was pretty amazing to reflect on this after the fact. Anyway, here are my little journals:

Day 1 – October 5

I am mentally drained as I write this. Not so much drained of my creativity like I can’t get out another word of prose, but more like I’m tired. I didn’t get a restful night sleep and I woke up several times, knowing full well that it would affect my first writing day as a “temporarily unemployed young writer.” Doesn’t that sound very Hemingway of me?

His is the only autobiography I’ve ever read and technically I didn’t read a bio. I read A Moveable Feast, which I got in Paris last year. It taught me one of the most important lessons that I’m going to try and abide by this week: Don’t write until your empty. Leave a little bit so that tomorrow, you have more to say.

So I’m stopping. Not because I have nothing to say, but because I want to start fresh with a better night’s sleep tomorrow.

I did manage to churn out over 1.5 chapters today. I’m doing that thing again where I come up with scenes out of nowhere, unplanned and uncalled for, but I think they’re going to work really well with the rest of the story.

Day 4

My butt hurts from sitting around all the time, but it doesn’t matter because for once I’m doing something that I genuinely love. That I would gladly get sore muscles from. That I would starve myself for. That I would lose sleep over. This book, writing this story, is everything to me right now. Even my body can’t stop me from doing what my mind and heart so desperately need me to do right now.

Day 6

I’m so close to finishing this draft right now. About four to five chapters away. It’s exciting, but also unbelievable. What I’ve discovered though is that this isn’t going to be the final draft before I give it to readers to edit/judge. The story is solid, where I want it to be, but it’s not how I want it to be. I’m reading Lauren Oliver’s Delirium series right now and let me tell you, the woman has a way with words. Her metaphors, her descriptions in dialogue, her prose is on point. Next draft after this will be about refining the story, making it better. But I’ve got the plot pretty down now. So I’m still deliriously happy. Tonight, I’m going to finish this story. For reals.

Day 7 – Oct 10/oct 11

So I think I’m a real, honest to goodness fiction writer now.
Because it’s 6:53am on Sunday morning and I am done writing my story.
I have the first word and the last word and everything in between.
I know more versions are coming, with edits to certain words, paragraphs even, are coming.
But this is the first time, this story feel honest to goodness done.
I’m so tired I can’t even come up with anymore adjectives. But I’m so happy. So incredibly satisfied and amazed and proud and excited.
I have the title too: [editor’s note: sorry, keeping this a secret for now!].
It fits. It’s right.
Everything is right.

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“We wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for her…Karra.”

That’s a sentence I never thought would ever come before my name (at least, from anyone but my future children). But this was the unabridged lead up to the announcement that I had won the Positivity Award for this week’s November Project.


Every time our leaders, Graham and Richard, do these awards, they do a little speech about why this person deserves it for the week just before revealing their name. I always try to guess who it will be in my head, but it’s never easy as everyone is generally pretty positive here. And this week, the lead up was a little different. 

Instead of jumping right into the presentation of the award, Graham talked about something else really important first – the recent loss of someone he cared about deeply to suicide. It was a heartbreaking and heartfelt speech, reminding us that one of the reasons our tribe exists is so we can be there to support each other through any hardships we may be going through.


November Project ISN’T a #NoNewFriends zone and it isn’t just about free fitness. It’s about being there for each other during the challenging workouts and being that external cheerleading voice people sometimes need to push themselves out of our comfort zones. This group is about giving someone else your support even if you’ve never met them before in your life.

And this is also essentially what the Positivity Award is about – being that person who isn’t afraid to remind anyone and everyone that “Yes, you CAN do this” and doing it in a way that brings a smile to their face and positive vibes to their day.


So yes, to me, it’s a very big deal to receive this award, but what does it all have to do with one, the statement at the very beginning of this post and two, Graham’s speech about being there for each other? 

Well, humbly, it means that I played an indirect part in the creation of the Vancouver chapter of November Project. I was the catalyst for this group that’s now here to be a source of brightness anytime someone needs it. Yes. That in itself is pretty epic.

But now a day later, the weight and gravity of what this and the award means is all starting to sink in. I believe that things happen for a reason and this is a sign. A sign of what I’m not sure yet, but I’ve got the award for 5 more days, so…stay tuned.

In the mean time, if this has inspired or intrigued you at all, definitely come workout with us – every Wednesday, 6:29am at the top of Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver. #justshowup


Photo credits to Thai Truong and the November Project Vancouver crew.

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When I was 11, my mom took me to Thailand for the first time. We explored temples with shiny, golden Buddhas of all sizes, saw an eye-opening cabaret show where I struggled to tell ladies from ladyboys, and shopped till we dropped all over Bangkok. It was pretty awesome.


However, being 11, I was still the world’s pickiest eater and instead of diving into the luscious coconut curries, fragrant rice dishes and savoring the addictingly sweet Thai coffees, I opted for soy chicken and rice practically every night. Seriously. In fact, my favorite food memory was finding a vendor who made the most divine chocolate crepes (all nutella and crispy edges as I recall), but come on, a crepe?!

I’m happy to report that I’ve come quite far since then and enjoy Thai food on the regular now. Need proof? Well, while perusing Bon Appetit for some new dishes to try I happened upon this Thai Beef with Basil recipe that instantly made my mouthwater.



Reading the comments that people left on the recipe, I spotted one suggestion to make this dish healthier by using ground turkey instead of beef. Done and done. I also added red peppers to this since I had some kicking around in the fridge.


What’s especially awesome is that this dish is insanely easy and quick to make. I probably spent about 10 minutes prepping everything and 10 minutes cooking it all. Plating it for this post probably took the longest amount of time haha. This also includes the time it took to cook some brown rice to go with everything.

I recommend saving ½ cup of basil and putting it on top of the finished dish to add an extra punch. Don’t worry, the residual heat will end up wilting it a bit so it’s not so jarring. I also found that the fish sauce dressing goes a long way – I only needed about one teaspoon over my food to provide enough of the salty flavor that ties this whole thing together.


Thai Turkey with Basil and Peppers
Adapted from Bon Apetit


2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 red chiles, thinly sliced, seeded for less heat if desired, divided

11/2 pound ground free-run turkey

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ cup low-sodium chicken broth

3 cups fresh basil leaves, divided

2 medium carrots, julienned or coarsely grated

4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided


2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)

1 teaspoon sugar


  1. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add garlic and one of the chilis and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add turkey, season with salt and pepper, and cook, breaking up with a spoon and pressing down firmly to help brown, until cooked through and nicely crisped in spots, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add broth and 2 cups basil and cook, stirring, until basil is wilted, about 2 minutes.
  4. To make the dressing, toss carrots, 1 Tbsp. lime juice, and remaining chili, 1/2 cup basil leaves, and 1 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl.
  5. In another bowl, mix soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and remaining 3 Tbsp. lime juice until sugar dissolves.
  6. Top brown rice with beef and carrot slaw and drizzle with dressing.

Makes 4 servings


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When we arrived in Paris, we had about an hour to appreciate the city before our train ride to Bayeux, but by the time we got off the train from Charles De Gaulle, we were so exhausted from all the air travel that we just stayed within Paris St. Lazare station. We were hungry, so we took a walk around the station in search of food. It was hard to sway the bf from grabbing some Burger King, but we went to a small sandwich shop instead that sold French baguettes, and some salads.

We did manage to go up to street level to snap one picture though to commemorate the bf’s first steps in the City of Lights. I’m also going to take this opportunity to say that the bf is camera shy so I’m going to respect his privacy and try not to include shots of him in any photos that go up, but I swear that’s his hand in the photo, not some handsome French man that I ran away with as soon as we landed!

First steps in Paris

We took one train straight to Bayeux and it was uneventful, which was nice given that we just wanted to relax for a bit. While the bf snoozed I caught up on reading The Goldfinch.

As I mentioned before, Bayeux is the small town that the bf chose as our jumping off point for our D-Day tour. I really had no idea what to expect as we trucked (trained?) closer and closer to it. All I knew from the pictures I saw online was that Bayeux looked a lot like what Belle’s town, from Beauty and the Beast, would look like if it was real – she did live in a French town after all!

I did know that Bayeux was one of the few coastal towns in the area that was virtually untouched during World War II, so it retains a lot of its old world charm. There weren’t a lot of modern-looking buildings, unlike Caen, which is a town twenty minutes away and suffered a lot of destruction during the war. Bayeux was also the first city to be liberated during the Battle of Normandy.


When we finally stepped off the train and into the Bayeux, it suddenly dawned on me that it was Sunday and it was 9pm, which meant that there would be virtually no chance that anything was open in town. Oh and yeah, we were starving. Uh oh.

We quickly hiked ten minutes or so to our “premium hotel,” The Premiere Classe Bayeux. It had a machine outside for late night check-in’s, which I thought was pretty cool despite the fact that it was housed in a small wooden structure with giant spiders living in the eaves of the roof. We soon discovered that our hotel was more of cleaner, fancier (and I use that word very loosely) hostel with a bunk bed, which we used to hold our stuff and free up the very limited floor space, and two single beds that we had to push together to form a decent sized queen (it actually ended up being the biggest bed we slept in the whole trip!).

 Bayeux Cathedral

A quick check on Yelp showed us that we were in luck – there was one restaurant in town open until 11pm! We quickly headed towards L’Conquerant, which was about twenty minutes walking distance from the hotel. In our haste, we almost missed the back of the striking Cathedrale Notre Dame de Bayeux. We literally turned a corner and there it was. I mean look at it!

Unfortunately, when we finally got to the restaurant, there was a sign on the door that said this was the only Sunday night they would be closed. D’oh! We had passed a few other places on the way that were starting to close up, and I prayed that one would still be open, but when we returned to each one, they had finally closed down for the night as well. Lesson learned, should’ve gotten the Burger King. Just kidding. Luckily, we had some granola bars and dried fruit back at the hotel, so we munched on that and tucked in for the night, ready for a whole day of exploring Bayeux.

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On October 26, I ran my last half marathon of the year. I hadn’t planned on running the Rock and Roll Vancouver. My October running event was supposed to be the Victoria Marathon, which I had been training for up until I bought my tickets for Europe with an air of finality. With the push of a button, I was no longer going to achieve my goal of running a marathon this year.

(And honestly, it was fine. As much as I hate not accomplishing a goal, I also want my first marathon to be really special. I’m one of those girls who believes the first-time for everything is sacred, so you want to do it right. And that’s why I’m saving my marathon cherry for the one race I always thought would take it – the BMO Vancouver Marathon. 2015, watch out!)

But back to the Rock and Roll. The reason I signed up for it was largely because (and this is going to sound so silly) the medal said “inaugural” on it and I thought to myself, “Huh, how often am I going to get to do the inaugural of anything?” And then, all of a sudden, I was signed up and a few days later, I was in Europe doing not one single bit of running (except after trains I was about to miss).

So needless to say, I didn’t feel very prepared to do my best in this race. My goal since the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in D.C. last April has been to get sub-2, but as my SeaWheeze recap can attest, this has been a hard goal to achieve. I decided that with little training, I would just enjoy running the Rock and Roll and see what happens.


My fave running buddy, MisoNani, was running this on to. She’d had a bad case of food poisoning a few days before so we both decided to take it easy. We consistently ran a pace of 5:45-5:55/km for pretty much all of the race, which by the way, is the nicest course I’ve done in Vancouver in awhile. I enjoyed the change of pace (pun intended) of running around the downtown core and the Stanley Park sea wall. Instead, this course went from the heart of our financial district on Hasting and Thurlow to the Railtown warehouse district over to East Vancouver, before heading back downtown to Yaletown and through Stanley Park across to the Coal Harbour side where the finish was located. Aside from lots of short, rolling hills in Stanley Park (oy vey), it was a great course with just the right amount of challenge for someone like me (the girl who lacks hill training).

It was around 18km that I noticed my time was 1:34 and I really believed in my heart of hearts that I could run the last 3.1km fast enough to get a Sub-2 time. MisoNani was very understanding and so I set off. I was fine at first, but I had to constantly remind myself not to keep going faster. I tried to maintain a steady 5:00-5:15 pace as much as possible, but then there was a hill and then, another one, this time without a downhill to help make up my time. By 19km, I was pushing it and I knew it. My knees were starting to ache, my IT band was throbbing and my hips were feeling tighter than a cork in a champagne bottle. I was hoping I wouldn’t pop before I reached the finish line. The 20km sign appeared and I told myself, “You can do this. Come on!”

Did I mention I hadn’t looked at my watch once to see what my run time was? I had it set to just show pace. I was afraid if I saw how behind I actually was, I’d just lose all heart and slow down. I wanted to know that I could push myself when I really needed to, so i didn’t look. Not once. Even when the 21km sign never appeared and I was running at 5:00/km and I was getting a little desperate. And then, the finish line loomed in the distance. The crowds cheers grew louder. My legs started moving like a machine, like the wheels on an old school train. Just chugging forward as fast I could. I think I can, I think I can. There’s brother and bf cheering me on. “Push it, Karra!” he shouts. I push. I push so hard, I’m almost crying.

And then, boom. It’s done. I’m done. I somehow manage to remember to smile pretty for the cameras as I go over the finish line. A pretty volunteer smiles and congratulates me as she puts my awesome medal over my head and around my neck.


So what did I clock in at? 2:04:24.

Not a PB. Not an improvement over the SeaWheeze. But it was a time I was proud of. It was proof that once again, I could push through pretty much anything and end up with something decent.

Thanks for a great race Rock & Roll! Congrats to MisoNani on her spectacular 2:07 time and to all the other runners.

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