Thursday, March 31, 2016

Movie Review: Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

Rating: PG (for thematic material involving slavery and some mild language)

Recommended for: Ages 13 to Adult

From the makers of Ray and acclaimed director Michael Apted, comes the inspiring story of how one man's passion and perseverance changed the world. Based on the true story of William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd), Amazing Grace follows his courageous quest to end the British slave trade. John Newton (Albert Finney), a reformed slave ship captain who penned the beloved hymn "Amazing Grace," urges him to see the cause through.

This movie. It needs to be watched. William Wilberforce was an amazing man. This movie is historical, it's political, it's Christian. It's a powerful story.

Technical: 4.5/5

This is a well made movie. The timeline can get a bit confusing if you don't pay close attention, but I don't really have any other complaints. I don't know all the exact historical details, so I can't say exactly how accurate it is, but it seems pretty accurate. It's well-written and well-acted. And I recognize more cast members every time I watch it. It's got Ioan Gruffudd, Benedict Cumberbatch, Albert Finney, Toby Jones...

Setting: 5/5

Amazing Grace is set in England at the end of the 1700s. Obviously, I've never been to England at the end of the 1700s, but it was quite consistent with my knowledge of the time period. It felt very realistic as well, not like it was filmed on a sound stage or in modern areas, but like it was really filmed where and when the movie is set. There's a lot about Parliament. I don't fully understand the British government, but I do understand politics. Politics is important. It affects so many lives in so many ways.

Plot: 5/5

This is the story of William Wilberforce and his fight to end the slave trade. It's told as a flashback as he gets to know the woman who, within about a week of meeting, would become his wife. When Wilberforce became a Christian, he wanted to leave Parliament to do the Lord's work, but John Newton convinced him that he could do both. That's something that's lacking today. Christians have this idea that the only way to serve God is in the church and foreign missions. We forget or don't realize that Christians need to be in every aspect of life. In education, in business, in entertainment, and yes, in politics. Wilberforce dedicated 15 years of his life to abolishing the slave trade. He had to learn that there is more than one way of accomplishing a task, something else that I wish more people would realize.

Character Development: 4.5/5

The characters felt like real people. After all, they all are real people. Sure, there are characters I know better, but that doesn't matter. It's all very real. You can see Wilberforce's passion for stopping the slave trade, his quirks, his strengths and weaknesses. I also loved seeing him and Barbara together. While I think their relationship went way too fast (that's how it really happened, though), you really can see two people who have a lot in common, who are on the same side of practically every issue, who genuinely care about each other.

Amazing Grace is a must watch. It's not a light and fun movie. It's deep and meaningful. But that only makes it even more worth watching.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Book Review: The Solid Rock

The Solid Rock by Faith Blum

Rating: PG-13 (crimes involving kidnapping women to sell them into prostitution and a recovering rape victim, all very cleanly handled, didn't make me at all uncomfortable, which is hard to do, but it's still there)

Recommended for: Ages 15 to Adult

Joshua woke with a quiet groan. As his senses woke up one at a time, he cracked his eyelids open. Sure enough, there was a silhouetted form standing at the foot of the bed. From the smell, the person was either from the brothel down the street or had recently left one.

He forced himself to breathe evenly and reached for the knife in his thigh holster. With as tough and evil a voice as he could imitate, he spoke, “State your intentions.”

Pinkerton detective, Joshua Brookings, is sent on a job that seems simple on the surface. His fellow detective has been kidnapped and his boss, William Pinkerton senses foul play. Joshua is sent to investigate Edward's case in hopes of finding the kidnapped detective and helping solve the case that has taken over ten years to investigate.

Arriving in Cheyenne, Joshua finds much more than a simple kidnapping. Yet again, he must go undercover, something he made his boss promise never to make him do again. The only Christian in the outlaw group, Joshua falters and almost loses faith in God’s providence. Will he stand on the solid Rock or drown in the sinking sand?

I really need to fill in the gaps of this series. I've read books 3 and 5 now, and greatly enjoyed them, but I can tell I have gaps missing. This book can be read and enjoyed independently, I'm sure it would make a lot more sense in the context of the whole series. It's a very good book, though, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Writing: 4.5/5

A few extra commas and a couple words in the dialogue that felt a bit modern are the only complaints I have about the writing. It pulled me into the story and kept me there, giving me a full sense of the story and settings, the struggles the characters were going through, their hopes and dreams and fears.

Setting: 5/5

The setting felt authentically western. It felt much like many other stories of the same era and setting. I love historical fiction, and I have a childhood love for pioneers caused by the Little House books, so the setting really suited my interests. Faith did her research, too, and it shows. The old west was a harsh place, and Faith doesn't shy away from the harsh side, but it was a good place too, and that also is plain.

Plot: 5/5

I really enjoyed the story. While there are some tough situations (see rating), none of it was out of place and everything was handled in a clean, Christian manner. There was a lot of mystery and intrigue. Also, this book made me really think about what it would really be like to be an undercover detective. You always think that it would be so exciting and thrilling, but how hard would it be to hold onto who you really are when trying to pass yourself off as a criminal to get information? The Solid Rock centers around detective work, but also around leaning on God as the solid Rock. While some of the Christian elements of the story do feel a bit Elsie Dinsmore-ish, I didn't think it really detracted from the book.

Character Development: 4.5/5

I didn't feel like the character development was quite top notch, but it was close. And it could be that I'm just missing things from not having read all the books. I do feel like I got to know Elizabeth and Joshua pretty well, and Priscilla too. They have their own fears and struggles, their own hardships and temptations, and they felt very human. I'd love to read more about them.

Because of some of the subject matter, I wouldn't recommend this book for anyone younger than their teens, but for mid teens and older, I would definitely recommend it. It was a very good book.


Faith is giving away a full set of paperback books! Fill out this form to earn entries to the giveaway. Each entry gives you one point, plus there are opportunities for bonus entries.


To celebrate her release, Faith is holding a Facebook party on March 31st from 2-4 Central time. You can join her and 3 other authors here. There will be fun, games, giveaways, excerpts, and more. Some of the giveaways will stay open through Friday evening, April 1st. Fun fact: the other three authors are all homeschool moms. 

Faith Blum started writing at an early age. She started even before she could read! She even thought she could write better than Dr. Seuss. Now that she's grown up a little more, she knows she will probably never reach the success of Dr. Seuss, but that doesn't stop her from trying.

When she isn't writing, Faith enjoys doing many right-brained activities such as reading, crafting, writing, playing piano, and playing games with her family. One of her dreams is to visit Castle City, Montana someday to see the ghost town she chose for her characters to live in. She currently lives on a hobby farm with her family in Wisconsin.


Tour Schedule

March 26
Writing Dreams-Excerpt and Spotlight
Tee Garner-Excerpt, Spotlight, Interview

March 28
George's Shorts-Spotlight, Review
Karan Eleni-Excerpt, Spotlight, Review
Zerina Blossom's Books-Excerpt, Spotlight

March 29
In the Bookcase-Excerpt, Review
Kelsey's Notebook-Review, Interview
With a Joyful Noise-Excerpt, Spotlight
Melanie D. Snitker, Author-Excerpt, Spotlight
Wildflower Acres-Spotlight

March 30
Jaye L. Knight-Excerpt, Spotlight
Stories by Firefly-Excerpt, Spotlight, Interview
Chess Desalls-Excerpt
Kendra’s Thoughts-Excerpt, Interview
Frances Hoelsma-Excerpt, Spotlight

March 31
David Todd-Interview
Reading in June-Excerpt, Spotlight
Rachel Rossano’s Words-Excerpt, Spotlight
Trust and Obey-Guest Post, Spotlight

April 1
Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections-Tour Wrap-up, giveaway announcement

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Movie Review: The Poseidon Adventure

The Poseidon Adventure (2005 TV Movie)

Recommended For: Ages 13 to Adult

Rating: NR (I would rate it PG-13 for Intense Disaster Sequences, Disturbing Images, Some Violence, and Brief Sexual Content)

A cruise ship succumbs to a terrorist act and capsizes on New Year's eve. A rag-tag group of survivors, spearheaded by a priest and a homeland security agent, must journey through the upside down vessel and attempt an escape.

One day many years ago, there was a movie on TV called Poseidon. In the brief description on TV, it said something about a ship capsizing, so my dad turned it on during dinner just to see the ship flip over and then he planned on turning something else on.

We got hooked on the movie. My mom made us turn it off before we saw the ending, and we've wanted to finish the movie ever since. Apparently, there are three versions of the movie (who knew?) and my mom found this version at Goodwill and gave it to me for my birthday. While we were watching it, we found out it wasn't the one that we had watched those many years ago. I enjoyed this version somewhat, but it's definitely not as good as the movie I remember watching.

Technical: 3.5/5
For a movie made by Hallmark, I'm seriously impressed. Any other company... Ouch. To start off, a ship with a hole in the stern wouldn't have flipped over like that. It would have sunk much like the Titanic did, although the Titanic had no huge hole, just a bunch of popped rivets. Second, the CG for the most part looked like it was from the 80's, not two years after The Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King came out. The shots of the ship at sea were obviously fake. One instance where a lady sends off an email in an already-capsized ship seemed very unrealistic. Also, the stretching out of the drama really bugged me. I mean, hello, the ship is going under in five minutes or less, we don't have time for heartfelt words by the dad who's cheating on his wife to his entire family. And could they have slowed down the crossing of the catwalk over a bunch of flames a bit more? Not to mention sending the terrorist over before the twelve-year-old boy. Sheesh. People in movies have no sense of time. The characters dawdled way too much at the ending. The acting, however, was pretty good, especially considering the cheesy script they had to work with at times. The background music, while certainly not going into the record books, was also pretty good, and the scene switches were done well.

Setting: 4/5
A cruise ship, obviously. I have never been on a cruise, so I wouldn't know how accurate it is, but the fact that the twelve-year-old boy can wander around practically anywhere on the ship just because the cook said it was okay seems pretty unrealistic to me. And where were all the lights for port, starboard, etc.? Maybe I'm missing something, but I've seen plenty of pictures of cruise ships sailing at night to know there should be more lights on than just the cabin lights.

Plot: 4.5/5
It's pretty simple, really, not much where you can go wrong. Although it probably would have been best to cut the terrorists and stick to the 90-foot tidal wave. It wouldn't have dragged the beginning so unnecessarily long and would have been a bit more believable in capsizing the ship. All in all, though, it was pretty good. There was one part, a random murder on board ship, that didn't connect to the plot whatsoever except for causing the Homeland Security agent to trail one of the terrorists and end up stopping him.

Character Development: 4/5
Not spectacular, but could have been much worse. I think their problem was they tried to deal with too many characters and develop them all in depth. The most developed would probably be the jerk that was cheating on his wife and the old widow. I liked most of the "good" characters, except for the jerk dad, and I had some reservations about the young nurse trainee who fell in love with a guy that looked older than her father. Other than that, though, with their limitations, I think they did a good job developing the characters, but none of them will live long in my memory, except for the lady played by Alex Kingston, and that solely for the reason that she played River Song.

All this makes it sound like I didn't enjoy this movie. I did, sort of, I certainly wasn't spectacular. Especially considering the content with the adulterous man, I wouldn't really recommend this movie. I would go for the 2006 movie instead (which naturally I can't endorse whole-heartedly, since I haven't seen it in years and it was the TV version, but I don't think there was much bad content in it). So, I'm off, and hopefully soon, I'll be able to finish the movie we started many years ago.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Book Review: Montezuma's Daughter

Montezuma's Daughter by Henry Rider Haggard

Rated: PG-13 (historical violence)

Recommended for: Ages 13 and up

 This remarkable novel by adventure writer H. Rider Haggard can be enjoyed on many levels. As a tale of adventure, it takes the reader through 16th-century England, Spain, and Mexico at the time of the Spanish Conquest. But on a deeper level, the author's hopes for humanity shine through the darkness of this time to illuminate the reader with his spiritual philosophy. The closing chapters on the fall of the Aztec capital of Tenoctitlan under the assault of Cortez are profoundly moving. Montezuma's Daughter is a fascinating historical novel and love story, with enough action to keep even the most jaded reader on the edge of the chair. And those who value the deeper aspects of the author's writing will not be disappointed. This publication from Boomer Books is specially designed and typeset for comfortable reading.

 This is the second book that I have read by this author, and it is just as good. Though there is a lot in common between the main villains in both books.

Writing: 4/5

 This book is not written as most old books in a style that sometimes drags. It is full of danger and excitement and if it ever drags, then it is at the very beginning where everything is being introduced. The story is written by the main character who is writing everything that he experienced down. As a result of this, he gives a lot of spoilers. Before the story really gets started you already know who is going to die and who survives. It was easy to read and still interesting. There is suspense from not knowing how something is going to happen.

Setting: 4/5

 There is a lot of traveling in this story. It starts out in England and then goes to Spain and then across the ocean to Central America. From what I remember about this period of history, the events in this book seem to be accurate but it makes me want to learn more about it to see what was real and what was fiction, especially to see if some of the people were really real and that influential. I do know that Montezuma welcomed the Spaniards, but I don't know if the rest of the Aztecs started hating him for it, but it does seem probable. 

Plot: 5/5

 There is an incident which happens in the main character's past (Thomas Wingfield), which leads to a murder. During the confusion and emotions, Thomas swears to get vengeance after his father curses him for his folly, which has to do with a rivalry with his brother over a girl. His father then regrets it, but Thomas still leaves. He chases the murderer, Juan de Garcia, to Spain. When he hears that Juan has gone to the West Indies, he gets passage on a ship. Through a series of misfortunes and close escapes, he winds up with the Aztecs. The story follows how the Spaniards attacked the Aztecs and how this empire ended, all the while Juan is trying to destroy Thomas before Thomas can destroy him.

Characters: 5/5

 Thomas is the main character who tells the story of when he was young. He also provides something for an Inquisition execution in which he also wants to get vengeance for that victim. He hates Juan even though he knows that he shouldn't and he regrets some of the things that he did. He also hates the Aztec customs of human sacrifice and is at one point able to stop it for a time. He does break a vow of betrothal to Lily and marries Otomie, Montezuma's daughter. While he has flaws he is still likable. Otomie loves Thomas and is willing to die with him even when she thinks that he doesn't like her. She is faithful to him, but never truly accepts the true God even though Thomas tries to teach her.
Then there is Juan who is driven by fear mostly and by hate in which he reveals at the end.

It was a good book with a satisfying ending and I would recommend it especially if you like historical fiction adventure books. Haggard is a great writer and I hope to read more of his books.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Book Review: The Lunar Chronicles

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Rating: PG-13 (violence, medical, and romance)

Recommended for: Ages 15 to Adult

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Now that we have Stars Above, it's a good time to review The Lunar Chronicles. It's like fairy tale meets Star Wars, which is pretty cool, and while the kissing is rather more than what I prefer, I still loved the series.


Cinderella is a cyborg. She meets the prince, Kai, when he comes to her mechanic stand with an android he needs to be repaired. He wants to find the lost, supposedly dead, Lunar princess Selene and restore her to the throne, and avert a marriage alliance with evil and manipulative Lunar queen Levana. But Levana is the only one with the cure for letumosis, a deadly and very contagious disease spreading across Earth, a disease the Emperor of the Eastern Commonwealth has contracted.

Lunars have the ability to manipulate people's minds and make them see things that aren't really there and make them do things that they don't intend to do. Most Lunars use their glamour to make themselves look more beautiful, but some, like Levana, use their glamour to force people to kill themselves, among other things.

I found Cinder to be a bit predictable, but I still loved it. It was probably the cleanest of the series, less kissing, though I think there was one instance of d---.


Scarlet is Red Riding Hood. She lives on her grandmother's farm in France, but her grandmother is missing. She meets a street fighter called Wolf who turns out to be a bio-engineered wolf soldier of Levana's. Only he doesn't really want to be one.

Cinder is a wanted criminal, on the run with thief Carswell Thorne. She's determined not to let Kai marry Levana, but what can she do?

While I still really enjoyed this book, and most definitely had to continue the series, I think it's my least favorite. Scarlet and Wolf fell for each other way too fast, and some of the kissing was just way too descriptive and way too long. :P They are quite devoted to each other, though. And this one was far less predictable. Scarlet is more violent than Cinder. The wolf soldiers are kind of creepy. I mean, they took normal Lunars and crossed their genetics with wolves so they're like half people, half wolves.


Cress is Rapunzel. She's also an expert hacker and a shell, a Lunar with no gift with bioelectricity. Not only can she not use a glamour, she can't be controlled by one. She's also lived alone on a satellite orbiting Earth since she was a child.

Cinder's group is still trying to overthrow Levana and save Kai. They take a detour to rescue Cress, but things don't exactly go as planned.

Levana will stop at nothing to make the marriage alliance happen, but Cinder will do anything to stop it.

Thorne is Cress's "prince." He's not my favorite of the guys, he likes the ladies way too much, but he grows quite a bit throughout his relationship with Cress. I do love his sense of humor. And we finally get to see Cinder and Kai together again! But the ending is quite the cliffhanger in the Scarlet/Wolf story line. There's still kissing, but I don't think it was quite as descriptive as in Scarlet.

I skipped Fairest. I was warned to read the reviews first, and it didn't really look like it was clean. Levana's backstory.


This book is massive. But it's SOOOOO good. Winter is Snow White. She loves her guard Jacin, but Levana, her aunt, wants to marry her off to someone else, a more advantageous match that would keep her out of the way. By the way, Winter is kind of crazy because she refuses to use her Lunar gift.

Cinder's group is ready to get rid of Levana. But there are some necessary rescues ahead, and their plan is very risky. As in they have to let some things they were trying to prevent happen in order to win. And they're around Lunars, so that's dangerous as well.

It's an epic conclusion to The Lunar Chronicles. There are many new stories, more backstory, many old storylines to tie off. In spite of its size, it's still completely action packed. There are a few too descriptive kisses, so warning there. But it's a fairly satisfying conclusion.

Stars Above

And here we have our bonus features. It's a short story collection. Some of them have been released previously, but certainly not all. We get backstory on all the main characters. Well, Kai we just get his first meeting with Cinder from his point of view, but we get to see Cinder, Scarlet, Wolf, Cress, Thorne, Jacin, and Winter as kids.

And then the best one of the collection: Something Old, Something New. This is Scarlet and Wolf's wedding, but we get it from Cinder's point of view. The group is back together, and Cinder and Kai are ready to take the next step in their relationship. While I don't agree with all of Meyer's morals (Scarlet and Wolf are already both living at the farm and Cress and Thorne are traveling the world in the Rampion together even though they're not married), this was a sweet story and I loved it. The perfect epilogue to the series...though I still wish I could see Cinder and Kai's wedding.

Though I don't agree with everything in The Lunar Chronicles, it's a fantastic fairy tale retelling series with plenty of politics. I would recommend it for older teens. I'm just hoping the studio with the movie rights actually goes forward with making them into movies. :D

Friday, March 11, 2016

Movie Review: Freaky Friday (TV version)

Freaky Friday

Rating: PG

Recommended for: Ages 10 and up

 A few days before her mother's wedding, Anna and her mother switch bodies after being given a fortune cookie with a strange prophecy on it at a Chinese restaurant. They must then figure out how to fix the problem before it is too late.

 Several days ago, we just randomly turned on this movie when flipping through the TV guide. My sister had read this book when this movie was coming out, so it caught her attention. I do have a feeling that this movie is nothing like the book, especially from some of the things we learned from looking up the book summary.

Technical: 5/5

 This movie was really well done and I thought that the acting was great. The two main actors had to do two different characters, a brat and a mom, but they both pulled it off convincingly making an amusing movie. The story flowed well and it was pretty easy to follow what exactly was going on. 

Setting: 5/5

 There is nothing really special about the setting. It was just a normal home and a school. There was also the building where the wedding rehearsal dinner was held and a place where a band contest was going on. Everything fit the story very well.

Plot: 4/5

 The story is about Anna, who is a brat. She changes bodies with her mother after getting a weird fortune cookie (from what we can tell, this is not in the book). The story follows how she and her mother get through the day after they have decided to take the others' place. The mother does do something that is wrong and very mean to another student's test. I can't think of any plot holes and it is a satisfying ending. It is not entirely explained why they switched but it makes for an amusing story.

Characters: 5/5

 As in all Disney movies, the characters are well developed. Anna is a brat but throughout the story she learns to put others first, after doing things that makes her mother upset. She does follow her mother's advice about her job, which is pretty funny. Her mother is about to get married and she worries about what will happen if they don't switch back. She does struggle some at school.

 This movie, while not entirely realistic, is a funny movie to watch and I would recommend it.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Book Review: Adela's Curse

Adela's Curse by Claire M. Banschbach

Rating: PG (magic and mild violence)

Recommended for: Ages 10 to Adult

A curse. A murderous scheme. A choice.

A witch and her master capture a young faery and command her to kill their enemy. Adela has no choice but to obey. If she does not, they will force the location of her people’s mountain home from her and kill her. To make matters even worse, the person she is to kill is only a man struggling to save his dying land and mend a broken heart.

Count Stefan is a man simply trying to forget the woman he loves and save a land crippled by drought. When a mysterious woman arrives at his castle claiming to be a seamstress, he knows she is more than she seems.

Adela enlists the help of Damian, another faery, to try and delay the inevitable. He insists she has a choice. But with the witch controlling her every move, does she?

I read this book in one day. I enjoyed it very much, the fairy-tale quality of the story, the characters, the tough decisions they had to make...

Writing: 4.5/5

Claire's writing has greatly improved since her last book. She's gotten better at letting the readers in on her characters' thoughts and feelings. I was truly absorbed in the story. There's still some "head-hopping," but it was fairly minor.

Setting: 5/5

Myrnius is a well developed world. Despite having a definite fairy-tale feel, it still managed to feel real. The world of the faeries and the work they do was very interesting. The world of the humans is distinct from where the faeries dwell and just as well developed. It's a world that would be neat to visit.

Plot: 4.5/5

Adela is in a tough situation. She's controlled by a witch who is trying to get her to kill a man, but not only are faeries not allowed to kill humans, Adela naturally doesn't want to. As her target begins to fall in love with her, things only get more complicated, especially as Adela is finding herself to be in love with fellow faery Damian. Things escalate. I was honestly afraid for some of the characters' lives at times, especially since I know Claire is not above killing her characters.

Character Development: 5/5

I really liked these characters. I felt that I could understand Adela and relate to her. I also liked Damian. In the short time I was with them, they became friends, and I was invested in their lives.

I would definitely recommend Adela's Curse.

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 Author Bio:
Claire Banschbach was born and raised in Midland, TX, the fourth of eight children. She was homeschooled through high school and is now a proud member of the Texas A&M University class of 2014. She is currently working on her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Texas Tech University Health Science Center. She continues to write in her spare time (and often when she doesn’t have spare time). She hopes her strong foundation in God will help to guide her writing.

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3 winners! Prizes include 2 copies of Adela’s Curse, and a paperback version of The Rise of Aredor to celebrate its 2 year anniversary on March 11! Open to international entries. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Movie Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Rating: PG-13 (disturbing situations)
Recommended for: Ages 16 and up

Berlin, 1942: When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move to a new house far, far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people in the distance.

But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different from his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

This movie is about the Holocaust and deals with some of the horrible things that happened. It is also a very historically inaccurate movie and the premise isn't even plausible.

Technical: 3/5

The story flowed well and the acting was good and it was all done professionally. The characters are all supposed to be German or Polish, but they all had British accents.The ending of the movie was completely unexpected and there wasn't really much of a lead up. (The ending was terrible)

Setting: 2/5

I don't know how accurate it is to the book, but historically it is not accurate. The first thing that I noticed was that parts of the house in Poland didn't seem very 1930s and 40s. There was a work camp that wasn't really guarded at all. In some reviews, people who were in work camps said how well guarded they were and how there were warning signs outside of the camps.

Plot: 2/5

While in real life the moving to Poland could have happened, the main boy would have never have made it to the fence and have met a boy inside of the camp. A minor part of the plot is about the propaganda and how it affects his sister. The story also shows how the Germans of that day thought. While it is not historically accurate, it really does make you think about what happened during the Holocaust.

Characters: 4/5

The characters were unique and each had their individual responses to what went on around them. The main boy was very clueless and caved under fear. The boy that he meets is very forgiving. The mother doesn't know about a lot that is going on, but becomes very horrified as she learns.

I would recommend that you not watch this movie if you do not have a good understanding of what went on during the Holocaust.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Book Review: Champion in the Darkness

Champion in the Darkness (The Champion Trilogy Book One) by Tyrean Martinson

Recommended For: Ages 10 to Adult

Rating: PG-13 (for violence and a disturbing image)

Clara is younger than most trainees, but she is ready to hold a Sword Master's blade. While visions and ancient prophecies stand in her way, they also offer a destiny unlike any other. Clara is aided by a haunted mentor, Stelia, whose knowledge of their enemy Kalidess is both a bane and a blessing. As evil threatens their land, Clara and Stelia must find the strength to overcome the darkness!

Champion in the Darkness is YA Christian Fantasy and is the first book in the Champion Trilogy.

While certainly not the best well-written book I've ever read, there was something about this book, I have no idea what, that was just captivating. Not can't-put-it-down captivating, but yet it captured me. I'm not sure if it was the characters, or the plot (whose story structure points were out of place), but I do know it is a book that I will remember.

Writing: 3.5/5
While not bad writing, it wasn't stellar either. There were many instances where things should have been shown and were told. Descriptions were sometimes lacking and things went much too well in the beginning. I know that makes it sound horrible, but it wasn't. It did show in some places, and while Clara's POV was anything but deep, Stelia's and the king's POVs were actually pretty good. I'm hoping the author's writing will improve over the course of the trilogy.

Setting; 3.75/5
I can sense good world building in here somewhere, it just never gets shown well enough. I would really like to know more about the world. It seems intriguing, but the descriptions of it are lacking.

Plot: 4/5
The plot was intriguing, but the story structure was off. The first major plot point was around 17%. It bugged me. I got the sense that the author didn't know where exactly where she was going with the story when she started it and never revised it. I liked the new view on the old "hero-with-a-prophecy-declaring-them-amazing." It was refreshing.

Character Development: 5/5
Honestly, I felt the least connected to the main character Clara than to the others. I liked Stelia and her past, but I got a little tired when they kept on talking and talking about the horrible things Stelia had done without actually saying what she had done. I really liked the parts with King Alexandros and how the stereotype of completely evil king was broken. The secondary and minor characters weren't that bad either. The death of the one character was heartbreaking. I really like the way the antagonist was done.

I enjoyed this book and would like to read more of the trilogy. This is a story with a lot of potential. I would recommend this book for lovers of fantasy and any writers.

I received a free review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was under no obligation to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.