Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva

Professor Layton Movie Review Rachel Poli
via IMDB
Title: Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva
Starring: Yo Oizumi, Maki Horikita

Summary (from IMDB):

Layton and Luke are caught up in an adventure, when a masked figure steals an entire opera house and forces those in attendance to play a high-stakes game. The winner will receive eternal life, but it could mean death for the losers.

My Review:

Okay, I’m kind of cheating this month with my movie review. No, this movie is not about writing. Yes, this movie is based upon a video game series.

However, being a mystery writer I felt as though this movie would be fairly appropriate.

Professor Layton and his assistant, Luke, find themselves in trouble when a masked man takes over an opera house not allowing anyone to leave until they solve his riddles and he gets what he wants. Of course, no one knows his true motive and if you fail his riddles… Well, that could mean death.

Some of the riddles were easy to guess, some not so much. There was one that I was sure I was right and then Layton had to ahead and be smart and prove me wrong. It reminds me of when I’m writing my mystery series and I wonder if any readers will guess what’s going on or not.

The end of the movie is a complete twist, one that I had not seen coming. Yet when I knew the truth, everything else the movie made perfect sense. It really was a great mystery.

It’s a cartoon, it’s silly, but it was well worth the watch for me.

Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva gets  4 out of 5 stars.

Would I recommend? Yes.

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Freedom Writers

Freedom Writers Movie Review
Via IMDB

Title: Freedom Writers
Starring: Hilary Swank, Imelda Staunton, Patrick Dempsey
Rating: PG-13

Summary (from IMDB):

A young teacher inspires her class of at-risk students to learn tolerance, apply themselves, and pursue education beyond high school.

My Review:

Based on true events and the book, The Freedom Writers Diary, this movie is inspiring and powerful. This movie shows just how writing can make a huge difference.

Erin Gruwell (Hilary Swank) is in over her head her first year of teaching. She has a classroom full of interracial freshman who are all against each other. She teaches them to love and respect each other no matter their color or race.

She gives them each a journal to write in every single day. She encourages them to write the stories of their lives and helps them realize that they do matter, they can make a difference whether it’s in their own life, a friend’s, or the world.

Erin taught them way more than English. She taught them history, how to be themselves, and how to really live in this world without being afraid. Because of her, they all were able to graduate high school and some of those students were the first to graduate in their families.

And it all started with a journal.

Freedom Writers gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Would I recommend? Yes.

One of the Few by Jason B. Ladd

Via Publishizer
Via Publishizer

Title: One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview
Author: Jason B. Ladd
Genre: Military/Religion
How I got the book: from the author in exchange for an honest review

Summary (from Publishizer):

His mission began with a realization: though ready to defend his country, he was unprepared for his most important missions as a husband and father. Drawing from his military experience as an F/A-18 “Hornet” Weapons and Tactics Instructor and a former F-16 “Viper” Instructor Pilot, Ladd warns seekers about spiritual apathy and teaches Christians tactics for withstanding spiritual attacks.

Birthed from a legacy of service, One of the Few speaks from the spirit of a man reborn—with the soul of a Marine, the mind of a fighter, the heart of a father, and a commitment to the Son. Join him as he uses fighter pilot fundamentals to embark on the greatest mission of all: the pursuit of truth.”

I’ve had the privilege of following some of the worlds greatest leaders, and the number of collaborators on this project is growing. I’m asking you to join us. The questions you ask along the way could bring you to people and places you never knew.

It might just be the beginning of your own journey to becoming One of the Few.

I used to laugh at Christians. Now I’ve joined them. I’ve led Marines in combat. Now I want to lead others to Christ.

My Review (may contain spoilers!):

This novel is inspirational as Jason B. Ladd tells stories of his time in the U.S. Marines and how he found his faith in Christianity.

The book was written well and formatted in a way that I haven’t come across before. The prologue was before the introduction and then it started on chapter one.

The novel came full circle with the epilogue touching base with the prologue and the last chapter continued from the first chapter.

The story touched upon real life events in Ladd’s life and connected them to what’s taught in the Bible. I enjoyed reading about Ladd’s life and how he discovered his faith thanks to his wife.

The book was split up into three parts. I have to admit the second part drew me out of the story a bit. There were a few chapters where I felt I was reading an essay about the Bible rather than reading about Ladd’s life. He always connected the Bible to his life, but the Bible was analyzed a lot.

Other than that, I thought One of the Few was a great read and definitely a book for anyone; especially if you’re a Christian.

One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview by Jason B. Ladd gets 4 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“I became acustomed to moving every few years; it was an exciting opportunity to travel the world.” –Jason B. Ladd, One of the Few

About the Author (from his website):

Jason B. Ladd is an author, speaker, and Marine providing a cultural apologetic focusing on leadership, parenthood, and worldview development. He helps people discover, understand, and strengthen their faith.

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One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview will be available on November 10, 2015.

Rippler by Cidney Swanson

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads
Title: Rippler
Author: Cidney Swanson
Genre: Science fiction and fantasy
How I got the book: Downloaded it onto my Kindle

Summary (from Amazon):

When Samantha Ruiz turns invisible in front of team mates on a rafting trip, she knows something’s wrong with her. According to her knowledgeable friend Will, she’s got a rare genetic disorder. Fearing a lifetime sentence as a lab-rat, Sam wants to keep her ability secret. But she also wants to know if there’s a connection between dark Nazi experiments on others like her and her own mother’s death eight years earlier. At the same time that Sam is sleuthing, she’s falling hard for Will. And soon, she’ll have to choose between keeping her secrets hidden and keeping Will safe.

My Review (may contain spoilers!):

Interesting concept. The idea of having people ripple–having the ability to turn invisible–is pretty cool. I love the way Cidney Swanson created the ripple gene.

When they turn invisible they basically step out of their skin. They don’t feel hot or cold, hungry or thirsty. They can walk through things and each material (plaster wall vs. glass door) has a different feel to it and that was described pretty well.

Aside from the cool idea of rippling, the plot itself was okay. Someone is out there trying to kill people who can ripple. It’s not explained that much as the characters try to figure it out themselves. Also, this is the first book in a series so I’m sure it’ll be more explained as it goes on.

However, this book didn’t have a lot of information and the information that was revealed didn’t make a lot of sense to me.

The characters were alright. The protagonist, Samantha, was a hit or miss I think. She cried… a lot. That got annoying pretty fast.

Will, her friend, was 18-years-old. He didn’t act like it. He lives with his older sister (who was pretty cool) and she was pretty protective of him. The way they acted it made it seem as though Will was a lot younger than he was.

The novel was okay, but will I be going out to get the next book? Probably not.

Rippler by Cidney Swanson gets 3 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“I tasted all the bitterness of this choice, because if life were fair, I wouldn’t have to choose between them.” –Cidney Swanson, Rippler

Be sure to check out my Goodreads page to see what I’m reading next!
If you have a book recommendation for me, I’d love to hear it! Feel free to get in touch using the contact form on the Contact Me page.

Gasp by Lisa McMann

2015-08-15 18.24.28

Title: Gasp
Author: Lisa McMann
Genre: Young adult paranormal
How I got the book: I bought it

Summary (from Amazon):

After narrowly surviving two harrowing tragedies, Jules now fully understands the importance of the visions that she and those around her are experiencing. She’s convinced that if the vision curse passed from her to Sawyer after she saved him, then it must now have passed from Sawyer to one of the people he saved.

That means it’s up to Jules to figure out which of the school shooting survivors is now suffering from visions of another crisis. And once she realizes who it is, she has to convince that survivor that this isn’t all crazy—that the images are of something real. Something imminent.

As the danger escalates in this conclusion to the Visions series, Jules wonders if she’ll finally find out why and how this is happening—before it’s too late to prevent disaster.

My Review (may contain spoilers!):

Just like the first two books, the visions are still happening.

Jules has realized that when you save someone from a vision, you accidentally pass on the vision.

They saved a lot of people from the school shooting so now they have to figure out who they passed the visions to in order to stop the next tragedy.

Bed-ridden for a while due to the shooting, Tori finds it hard to help Jules and the gang solve the next disaster; especially since she’s the one having the visions. Ben, who they saved from the shooting, helps them along the way.

Together, Jules, her two siblings, Ben, Sawyer, and Tori solve the next tragedy.

It isn’t until much later they realize how Jules got the vision in the first place. I found the answer to that question to be very satisfying. It was great how Lisa McMann brought everything full circle.

There’s no explanation how the visions came to be in the first place, but that’s left up to the imaginations of the readers.

Gasp by Lisa McMann gets 4 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“Too bad there’s nothing admirable about being a fraud.” –Lisa McMann, Gasp

Be sure to check out my Goodreads page to see what I’m reading next!
If you have a book recommendation for me, I’d love to hear it! Feel free to get in touch using the contact form on the Contact Me page.

Crash by Lisa McMann

2015-08-15 18.24.05

Title: Crash
Author: Lisa McMann
Genre: Young adult paranormal
How I got the book: I bought it

Summary (from Amazon):

Jules lives with her family above their restaurant, which means she smells like pizza most of the time and drives their double-meatball-shaped food truck to school. It’s not a recipe for popularity, but she can handle that.

What she can’t handle is the recurring vision that haunts her. Over and over, Jules sees a careening truck hit a building and explode…and nine body bags in the snow.

The vision is everywhere—on billboards, television screens, windows—and she’s the only one who sees it. And the more she sees it, the more she sees. The vision is giving her clues, and soon Jules knows what she has to do. Because now she can see the face in one of the body bags, and it’s someone she knows. Someone she has been in love with for as long as she can remember.

My Review (may contain spoilers!):

Jules tells the story about how she witnessed an accident–except the accident didn’t happen yet. She doesn’t know how or why, but she keeps having visions of a truck crashing into her family’s rival pizzeria.

She can see seven body bags. She doesn’t know who is going to die or when the accident is going to happen. She just knows that she needs to stop it somehow.

With the help of her brother, Jules figures out that one of the people in the body bags is her crush, Sawyer; who also happens to be the son of their family’s rival pizzeria. Knowing this new information, Jules knows that she needs to stop the accident somehow.

As the vision gets worse, Jules learns how to look closer at it and figure out certain details.

Long story short–and the novel is only 233 pages–Jules and her brother save everyone in the crash. Instead of seven body bags, there is one. The driver of the truck ends up dying due to a heart attack he had while behind the wheel; which was the cause of the crash in the first place.

The plot was interesting enough and the characters were fun, but the overall novel was kind of anti-climatic. However, that didn’t stop me from going out right away to buy the last two books in the trilogy.

Crash by Lisa McMann gets 4 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“My sophomore psych teacher, Mr. Polselli, says knowledge is crucial to understanding the workings of the human brain, but I swear to dog, I don’t want any more knowledge about this.” –Lisa McMann, Crash

Be sure to check out my Goodreads page to see what I’m reading next!
If you have a book recommendation for me, I’d love to hear it! Feel free to get in touch using the contact form on the Contact Me page.

Savage Run by E.J. Squires

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads
Title: Savage Run
Author: E.J. Squires
Genre: Science fiction and fantasy
How I got the book: Downloaded it onto my Kindle

Summary (from Amazon):

Seventeen-year-old Heidi Cruise has one chance at freedom, but it involves breaking the law and completing Savage Run, a grueling, male-only obstacle course program. Nicholas Volkov has one goal: to make sure when he becomes president over the hierarchical society of Newland that he doesn’t follow in his tyrannical father’s footsteps. After Heidi registers for the program, Nicholas discovers that she’s a girl. Being a rebel in his own right, Nicholas doesn’t turn her in, but decides to help in any way possible. Heidi struggles through the obstacle courses in Savage Run. Physically and emotionally drained, it is only during downtime between events that she’s able to make sense of her world and get a little closer to the secretive Nicholas. But with the threat of death constantly barreling down on her, and with menacing contestants looming around every obstacle, it’s almost guaranteed that she’ll be killed before she manages to win her freedom

My Review (may contain spoilers!):

This plot was interesting. In a world where women are degraded, Heidi decides to join the Savage Run–a cruel competition in which only boys are allowed to enter. The prize? Freedom.

She saves her friend from her master and together they pose as boys. Unfortunately, her friend gets killed and Heidi is in it alone.

Only a select few knows Heidi’s secret and keeps it for her, helping her along the way of the Savage Run.

This is book one of a series, so there’s obviously more to it. However, this book ended after Heidi completed the first phase out of three. Being under 300 pages, I felt there should have been more. The first stage took only a couple of chapters at the end. The beginning had so much build-up; sometimes it felt a little too much.

Heidi is the protagonist and to be honest, I didn’t like her all that much. I can’t enjoy a book if I don’t like the main character.

She was whiny and while she was going through a tough time, she repeated herself. A lot. Plus, I didn’t think she appropriately reacted emotionally to certain situations. For example, she kept getting angry and was stubborn with her friend Arthor (who was helping her along the Savage Run). Given the circumstances, she should have been more scared than anything else.

Will I run out to buy the next book right away? Probably not, but I would like to see how the series ends.

Savage Run by E.J. Squires gets 3 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“I think freedom is a gift, and what you choose to do with that freedom is what makes us completely free.” –E.J. Squires, Savage Run

Be sure to check out my Goodreads page to see what I’m reading next!
If you have a book recommendation for me, I’d love to hear it! Feel free to get in touch using the contact form on the Contact Me page.

Anything Could Happen by Will Walton

2015-07-31 14.18.17

Title: Anything Could Happen
Author: Will Walton
Genre: Young adult gay & lesbian fiction
How I got the book: I bought it

Summary (from Amazon):

When you’re in love with the wrong person for the right reasons, anything could happen.

Tretch lives in a very small town where everybody’s in everybody else’s business. Which makes it hard for him to be in love with his straight best friend.  For his part, Matt is completely oblivious to the way Tretch feels – and Tretch can’t tell whether that makes it better or worse.

The problem with living a lie is that the lie can slowly become your life. For Tretch, the problem isn’t just with Matt. His family has no idea who he really is and what he’s really thinking. The girl at the local bookstore has no clue how off-base her crush on him is. And the guy at school who’s a thorn in Tretch’s side doesn’t realize how close to the truth he’s hitting.

Tretch has spent a lot of time dancing alone in his room, but now he’s got to step outside his comfort zone and into the wider world.  Because like love, a true self can rarely be contained.

My Review (may contain spoilers!):

This book has everything a 15-year-old needs to deal with in life; family, friends, death, life, relationships. For Tretch, things are a little more complicated.

Tretch is gay and he’s the only one who knows it. His best friend, Matt, doesn’t even know. But there’s a good reason for that; Tretch is in love with Matt.

It’s always nervewracking when you have a crush on someone and don’t know how to tell them how you feel. For Tretch, things are complicated because Matt is straight.

The timeframe in this book was winter break, just a couple of weeks. I can see it becoming much longer and turn into a coming of age story; it’s already on its way to that, anyway.

While Tretch came out to a few people throughout the book, it wasn’t a huge reveal. Everyone supported him of course, but no one had a huge reaction; good or bad. I felt as though there could have been more.

The book quick at 281 pages, but I think there could have been more. And yet, everything was wrapped up neatly so I can’t complain.

Anything Could Happen by Will Walton gets out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“Because, right now, dancing in my room by myself, knowing I’ve got a whole life folding out ahead of me, with a million things to learn from it, I can feel only one thing.” –Will Walton, Anything Could Happen

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If you have any book recommendations for me, I’d love to hear them! Feel free to Contact Me.

I Am The Traitor by Allen Zadoff

2015-07-26 19.30.08

Title: I Am the Traitor
Author: Allen Zadoff
Genre: Young adult mystery
How I got the book: I bought it

Summary (from Amazon):

The Program has sent Boy Nobody on countless missions, instructed to kill whichever target he was given. But now, after going rogue, he is on his own mission to rescue his friend Howard, who was captured by The Program.

Boy Nobody manages to free Howard as well as Tanya, a mysterious girl who was being held with him. Putting their skills to the test, Howard and Tanya help Boy Nobody collect information about his father, eventually revealing a dangerous secret that teaches Boy Nobody a valuable lesson — he can’t trust anyone.

On the run from The Program, Boy Nobody must face his past, as he’s forced to decide where his loyalties lie.

My Review (may contain spoilers!):

I have to say that this was a satisfying ending to the trilogy. I want more, but then the series would just be dragging on.

Zach saves his friend Howard from The Program and also an unexpected prisoner: Tanya. Zach doesn’t know what to make of her, but he allows her to tag along anyway.

Judging how the first two novels went, I wasn’t sure what to make of Tanya. Was she good? Was she bad? Was she going to live?

I was happy with the way things turned out; especially since I liked Tanya.

Point one for Zadoff; he created some strong female characters who could hold their own. I was impressed with that. You don’t see that too much these days.

This final installment was action-packed from start to finish as it picked up right where book two ended. The ending was not certainly something I expected. I felt like I should have seen it coming, but I didn’t; which is a good thing.

The ending was sort of a cliff-hanger, but not in a suspenseful way. It was more left as an imaginative way. You have a feeling where the characters will go from there, but it’s left to your imagination. You just know that they all got a happy ending.

I Am the Traitor by Allen Zadoff gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“Women. There’s not a lot of information about them in the training manual.” –Allen Zadoff, I Am the Traitor

Be sure to check out my Goodreads page to see what I’m reading next!
If you have a book recommendation for me, I’d love to hear it! Feel free to get in touch using the contact form on the Contact Me page.

I Am The Mission by Allen Zadoff

2015-07-25 08.30.44

Title: I Am the Mission
Author: Allen Zadoff
Genre: Young adult mystery
How I got the book: I bought it

Summary (from Amazon):

He was the perfect assassin.
Boy Nobody: No name. No past. No remorse. At least until he began to ask questions and challenge his orders — until he fell in love with his target. Now The Program is worried that its valuable soldier has become a liability.
Boy Nobody, haunted by the outcome of his last assignment, is given a new mission. A test of sorts. A chance to show his loyalty.
His objective: Take out Eugene Moore, the owner of a military training and indoctrination camp for teenagers. One target. Limited time frame. Public place. It sounds simple, but a previous operative couldn’t do it. He lost the mission and is presumed dead. Boy Nobody is confident he can finish the job. Quickly.
But when things go awry, Boy Nobody finds himself lost in a mission where nothing is as it seems: not The Program, his allegiances, or the truth.

The riveting second book in The Unknown Assassin series by Allen Zadoff delivers heart-pounding action and thought-provoking characters, as well as a new, exotic setting; a new mission; and new secrets to be revealed.

My Review (may contain spoilers!):

This is the second book to The Unknown Assassin series. It is decently thick so I wasn’t able to read it in one day, but it was still hard to put down nonetheless.

We follow the same protagonist as the first book, but his name is Daniel now; as his name changes with a new identity for each mission.

After a fellow soldier from The Program fails his mission to kill Moore, the head of Camp Liberty which a military base for teenagers. Daniel is sent in to complete the mission–without entering Camp Liberty.

The only way to kill Moore is to get close to him. Daniel enters Camp Liberty and completes his mission in three days, but is cut off from The Program. Since he entered the camp, they believed him to have betrayed them.

Things get complicated for Daniel as he is cut off and realizes some things about The Program; not good things, either. He meets an old friend along the way and also meets another soldier just like him.

Maybe he even finds love along the way?

That was my only problem with the book. It ended more-or-less the same as the first book. In the first book Daniel falls in love with a girl. He finds out she’s the enemy and kills her. In this book Daniel falls in love with Moore’s daughter. In the end, his mission changes and he has to kill Moore’s two children. His daughter ends up killing herself before Daniel can.

Throughout this book Daniel kept thinking off and on about the girl in the previous book. I have a feeling he’ll be thinking about both girls in the next book.

I Am the Mission by Allen Zadoff gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“The difference between a hero and a villain is a very thin line.” –Allen Zadoff, I Am the Mission

 

Be sure to check out my Goodreads page to see what I’m reading next!
If you have a book recommendation for me, I’d love to hear it! Feel free to get in touch using the contact form on the Contact Me page.