Audiobook Reviews 4/5 Stars: Dragonia Rise of the Wyverns by Craig A. Price, Jr.


4/5 Start to a Larger Epic Tale


Devarius and a rag-tag band of refugees flee oppression at the hands of the evil empire. For years, the Resistance has bided its time, trying to build, hide, and build some more. Devarius and crew just might give them the edge they need to rise up against the Dragonia empire.


Additional Comments:

– Plot 4/5 – It’s a tried but true plot: the evil empire beating up on everybody and the pure of heart standing against the oppression.

– Pacing 3.5/5 – A huge chunk of the book covers the search for the Resistance. In hindsight, this could have been summarized in a chapter or two because the “real” action doesn’t really happen until they reach their destination.

Side note: Various characters from the Dragonia Empire have bit parts in here, but none really stand out enough to become familiar. I like their parts, but I think the page count could have been evened out a little more to focus on their motivations.

– Characters 3.5/5 – Devarius is a decent enough fellow. I imagine most readers will end up caring about his fate. I don’t remember the love interest’s name, the first lady, or the sidekick. I do remember the sidekick managed to annoy me on several occasions.

– The love angle 2.5/5 – Nearly every conversation with the love interest goes like this “I want to come.  I can help.” Devarius – “You can’t come. I can’t think around you.” Love interest – *frustrated brooding* “Okay, fine.”

– World-building 4/5 – I love all the details here. The different powers for the wyverns are really awesome. Dragons stand out quite a bit.

– Final Battle 4.5/5 – Well-described and epic. (Motivation for the battle stands on shakier ground, but it’s still a great fight scene.)

– Narration 4/5 – Nicely handled.

– Closure 3.5/5 – There’s an unspoken “to be continued” on this story. Personal preference, I need more closure than that. It’s a good pausing place, but there’s so much left unsaid and undone.


There’s definitely more to the story. If epic fantasy is your thing, check out the Dragonia series.


Associate links to follow…

This Book…

Amazon Prime


Audible – If you’d like some free codes, please email me at [email protected] with requests for any of my works.

Movie Reviews 4/5 Stars: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

* Might contain mild spoilers *


The plot’s either overcomplicated or super simple. Guess that depends on your perspective. A pair of government agents start out with one mission and end up with a higher one.

Additional Comments:

– Okay, so this probably won’t end up on my list of “must watch endlessly on loop” movies, but I found it entertaining.
– Characters: The guy who played Valerian sort of reminded me of a young Mark Hamill/ Luke Skywalker. The woman who played Laurelain (sorry about spelling, dunno the comic) totally reminds me of an older Emma Watson. They might even be the same age, but the character seemed like the type.
– The special effects were pretty good.
– The three information brokers were surprisingly funny. The part with the jellyfish was hilarious.
– The story definitely reads like a comic book. Tons of action, adventure, madness, a dash of romance. Okay, so the romance bit wasn’t the forte of the movie, but it adds a new angle. Part of the trouble as a movie might be the “lost in translation” part of adapting a comic book story to a movie. The medium has different limitations.
– Favorite character: definitely Bubble.
– Overall feel to the movie: Weird, but good.


Worth watching as an oddball scifi flick. (Might tick you off if you’re a “true” fan of the comic series.


Movie Reviews 5/5 Incredibles 2 – Spoiler Version


In a time when super heroes are illegal, the Incredibles still feel called to fight crime. Balancing home and work is never easy, but things are especially grim in the beginning. Elastigirl (Mrs. Incredible) sets out to right the image of super heroes at the behest of a billionaire. Meanwhile, Mr. Incredible deals with math and boy troubles with the kids.


If you want to see the non-spoiler version of my review, look here.


Additional Comments:

– The beginning movie – I’m pretty sure most of the theater would have rioted if the story had ended right in the middle when she ate the dumpling thing. The end was much more satisfying. It actually pairs very well with the main movie because it’s about the struggles and trials of raising a child. There are moments of fierce pride at every milestone, yet there’s always that breaking away as kids grow up, find themselves, and move on.

– I like a good twist – I actually had the wrong person pegged for the baddie. It was nice to be surprised, though it made perfect sense once the big reveal happened.

– Funniest parts:

  • Jack Jack vs the raccoon.
  • Edna Mode discovering Jack Jack’s a polymorph.
  • Jack Jack imitating Edna Mode.
  • We do not fire the baby.
  • Incredible vs. New Math.

– Pretty sure they released it around Father’s Day for a reason.

– Replay value – I think you could safely watch it 2-3 times and still be entertained.

– Villain – Her motive’s okay, but it could be stronger.

Caution: There are quite a few scenes with strobing lights. Close your eyes or pick a spot outside the screen to focus on for a little while. You won’t miss much.


It’s a nice family movie.



Movie Review 5/5 Incredibles 2 – Nonspoiler


Excellent follow up. Super heroes are outlawed, but people still need saving. Bad guys still haunt city streets. What heroes need is a public relations miracle, and that’s exactly what one business tycoon wants to accomplish: legalization of super heroes.


Additional Comments:

– 14 Years Speech 3/5 – Normally, I don’t mind such things, but it kind of jars one. I love them in extra scenes stuff on dvd/blu ray, but I’m not sold on it being necessary on the theatrical releases.

– Beginning short movie 5/5 – I almost cried. It’s simultaneously sentimental, adorable, and powerful.

– While Mr. Incredible minds the homefront. Helen takes on the task of getting super heroes some positive PR.

– Plot 4/5 – The plot’s fairly complex for this sort of movie. It’s not just about heroes vs. villains. It’s heroes vs politicians.

– Humor 4.5/5 – I saw this almost a week ago, so my memory could definitely use a refresher, but I do remember laughing aloud at several points, especially when Edna Mode was involved. The baby’s first fight scene was amazing and hilarious too.

– Characters 4.5/5 – Surprisingly, there’s pretty decent balance between “these people have really cool powers” and “these people just want to live normal lives.” Jack Jack is adorable.

– Note: I did have to squint a few times to deal with the flashing light bits. Pick a part of the screen and focus there or close your eyes. You won’t miss much.


Definitely worth a few watches. Not sure ultimately how many times I’ll see it in theaters, but I aim to see it at least one more time on the big screen.

Audiobook Reviews 3.45/5 Stars: Chasing Eden by B.K. Sherer and Sharon Linnea (narrated by Kristina Fuller Yuen)

3.45/5 stars Insanely Far-Fetched Suspense Story with Fantasy Elements


Major Jaime Richards, an army chaplain, gets caught up in a giant conspiracy with world-altering consequences on the eve of Saddam Hussein’s fall in Iraq.

Additional Comments:

Characters (3/5):

Jaime’s likable but not realistic in any sense. She doesn’t think, speak, or act anything like I’d expect a chaplain to … except in maybe 2 scenes. There’s maybe three prayers in the whole book and they seem bland. We don’t know much about Jamie’s family. I think that’s by design. Does she have just a brother or a brother and a sister? Yani’s mysterious. I get that. There are reasons for the mystery man. There are very few sections by random army personnel. They’re good but too few to know the character.
– Aside: The main character might be a chaplain but it’s not a very Christian-y book. That might thrill people, but it makes her unrealistic. (The cynical part of me says that perhaps she’s “too realistic” in terms of what the church has become in America, very politically correct.) If you’re looking for something marked Christian Fiction, look elsewhere. If you’re just in it for general thriller with fantasy-ish elements, go for it.

Plot (2/5):

Scattered is the best term I can come up with. It’s definitely fast-paced much of the time, but the pacing’s also slightly awkward. It’ll be full-speed action sequence (well-described) then *boom* history lesson. I have several misgivings about coincidences that happen. Without going into too many for fear of spoilers, let me just chat a moment about a few. The character who shows up in the beginning “stumbles out of the desert” right across Jaime’s Humvee convoy – after having been captured by some nameless bad guys and tortured for information. How did she escape? How did she know how to find Jamie? They also went to college together. Jaime’s even in the Middle East at the right time and place she needs to be to be caught in the conspiracy. She speaks the right language to be relevant to the bad guys. I understand that they’re setting up for a larger world, but the plot’s needlessly complicated. It’s like they read a book on conspiracy theories and had a shopping list to tick off for items. Must have 2-3 crazy dudes looking for ultimate weapon for world domination.

End Sequence (4/5)

Unrealistic, but cool.
– Very End Sequence (1/5) – Intriguing in the sense that it explains a lot, but it also strikes as a blatant, “well, if you want to know the real story, you’ll just have to buy book 2” bid. That leads to lack of closure and tends to tick me off. I have a thing about needing closure to enjoy a story.

Action (4/5:

Nicely described.
– Narration (4.5/5) – Fitting. The narrator did a nice job, and I would listen to more books from her. She has a matter-of-fact style but it comes across as informative and earnest not annoying. Her voice quality is soothing.

Content and Language warning:

Besides a few war scenes (well-described), there is also one almost rape scene. There are at least 3 f-bombs in here. I officially tap out of a book at 4, so that’s saying something. Definitely not a kid-friendly book.


It’s an enjoyable listening experience if you can get past the highly unrealistic points.

Associate links to follow…

This Book…

Amazon Prime


Audible – If you’d like some free codes, please email me at [email protected] with requests for any of my works.

Audiobook Reviews 3/5 stars: Henry Pash and the Boztec Revolution by Prateek Goorha


3/5 stars Cute but Ultimately Inane


If you read the blurb after hearing the story you’ll realize that it pretty much sums up the entire plot. Henry Pash gets turned down flat by the patent office for a mysterious invention that you don’t learn about until roughly 2/3 of the book have gone by.

Additional Comments:

– I’m going to preface with perhaps this is just “not my thing” because I tend to hear way more epic fantasy, mystery, and science fiction than humor.

– For something filed under “humor” I’m a little disappointed. Don’t think I laughed aloud once, though there might have been a few things to chuckle about. That might be a simple matter of the humor being not my style. There were a ton of metaphors and similes, several quite clever, but most more annoying than anything else.

– The protagonist had a way of describing things that was very … thorough.

A simple concept like “I thought he would be impressed” becomes à “I was sitting at the edge of my seat hoping for an opportunity to spring out of the chair and lay out the idea upon him first hand. I knew it would floor him like I knew the time of the day. I imagined that awe-struck Turner, hanging on to my every word, eyes widening and mouth agape as I sketched the highlights for him.” While thorough, the way things were described also came across as tedious.

– Characters (2/5):

I get that this is a first person narration style, but nearly every character sounded the same. I don’t mean the narrator couldn’t do various voices – he did fine. I mean that all of Henry’s friends worded things and thought the same way. As a narrator, Henry’s unreliable. By that, I mean, he skips around, telling the story out of order, ultimately for effect. While it works, it’s also annoying. I didn’t particularly like the protagonist. There’s no real sense for what he does besides visit a café and pine/wallow in self-pity for being rejected for his brilliant idea.

– Plot (2.5/5):

This is where the deviation from my usual genres might be kicking in. I found it boring. Nobody died. Nobody got shot at. Nobody faced any sort of danger or crisis. Henry might argue with me on that point as the patent office’s rejections was hands-down the end of his world, so he decided to wallow for a third of the book.

– Twist (4/5) – The way things tie up in the end works. It’s a very neat little package. The conclusion also takes place almost instantly.

– Technology (3/5):

I suppose you could file the book under near-future dystopia or even scifi. The ideas represented by the Boztecs are very cool and all too close to reality.

– Narration (4/5):

Well-handled. There was one breathy character in the beginning who drove me crazy, but thankfully, he didn’t return for the rest of the book. The overall light-hearted tone suited the story very well.

Other Comments:

– There are not enough unrealistic elements to be a strange fairy tale. Moral being, money can’t buy happiness.

– Who do I think this will resonate well with?

Not exactly sure of the target audience, but I don’t think I’m in it. Middle age and older men. Please note that this is in no way a knock against older men. Rather, it’s an acknowledgement that my tastes will probably not be identical to them. Also, not saying that nobody in any other age range or stage of life will like it. Just taking a guess at who might “get” the brand of humor being presented here.


Whether you’ll enjoy the book depends on your tastes. I suppose that’s true for everything in life. The things that bothered me are going to click with others. The humor type is very dry, perhaps too much so. Listen to the sample and/or read a few pages. If you like what you see, give it a go.


Associate links to follow…

Amazon Prime


Audible – If you’d like some free codes, please email me at [email protected] with requests for any of my works.

Audiobook Reviews 3/5: Sam & the Secrets of the Universe: Book 1: Monad by JA Cawood

3/5 stars Interesting Twist on Boy Learns he has Cool Gifts


Sam’s dead (not a spoiler, that’s in the blurb). He goes to a place called Havona to learn the secrets of the universe. You’ll have to forgive my lack of details. I’m partly trying to avoid spoilers and it’s been a while since I heard the audiobook. I meant to write this ages ago.


Additional Comments:

– Worldbuilding (3.5/5) – This book contains a lot of really cool ideas. They’re pretty hard to describe though, and the author does an admirable job of attempting the feat. For example, the switching bodies section was very cool.

– Characters (3.5/5) – Sam meets several aliens. Only about 4 of them remain central to the story. Can’t remember the names right now, and besides, my spelling of them would be atrocious anyway. I don’t feel like you really get to know the pre-death Sam well enough to like him as a character. I did like his friend, but our time with her is short too. That may be purposeful.

– Plot (3/5) – The book splits roughly 1/5 to 4/5 before death and after death. The after death sections play out like most “training” sequences with the added bonus of very neat new worlds being thrown in the mix.

– Closure (1/5) – Clearly, this book is meant to be a series. I have a thing about closure, as in I REALLY like it and this book severely lacked it. That said, there are definitely good parts to the book. The end fails to satisfy. It’s not quite a true cliffhanger, but the end sprang up and ran right to the edge of … something, a gentle slide into “well, there’s definitely more to come.” Please note, this might just be a personal taste thing. I absolutely hate endings that feel like teasers/ setup for a new book.

– Why couldn’t I connect with the book?

After some soul-searching, I’m ready to conclude “not my cup of tea.” It’s a decent book. One of my major pitfalls in buying into the story was a lack of a real sense of danger. They’re already dead. The sense of “oh, wow, this could truly be the END” never really kicked in throughout the story, even with the threat of “Reset”. That removed a lot of the tension for me. Without tension, I couldn’t get into the conflict. Without conflict, there’s not much of a story.

– Aside: Much of this story, probably right down to starting with the cover, felt stylistically like the “new” Willy Wonka movie with Johnny Depp or the Oz, the Great and Powerful. They’re over-the-top, crazy colors everywhere kind of movies.

– Who do I think would like the book?

Middle grade boys, an underserved market if there is such a thing in literature. This is not a knock against them in anyway. It’s an acknowledgement that their tastes and mine will differ.

– Narration (2.5/5) – Usually, I’m cool with narrators. This one is okay, but his voice isn’t my favorite. He has a very matter-of-fact style of reading that made parts come across as choppy.


The plot feels like the beginning act of a much larger play. If that sort of thing bothers you, avoid. If you’re cool with that, go for it. What it lacks in closure, it makes up for in imagination and neat concepts. Sam’s a likable guy. Give the audio sample a shot and see if you like it. Or read a few pages from the preview and take the leap if you like what you see.

Associate links to follow…

This book …

Amazon Prime


Audible – If you’d like some free codes, please email me at [email protected] with requests for any of my works.

Live Chat Narrator Interview with Reuben Corbett



Hey all, tonight we have a very special guest. He’s the narrator of many great books, including Spirit’s Bane and The Golden City Captives. (both ebooks are free.) By the way, if you have the ebook, usually the audiobooks are cheaper. If you’ve never listened to one of his audiobooks, you should definitely consider doing so.

Feel free to join the discussion by commenting.

Let’s Welcome Reuben.

BL: Glad you are able to join us, Reuben!

Reuben: Thanks, Bonnie.

BL: I am learning a lot about the Audiobook process – it is fascinating!

EF: Hey Reuben, welcome – this is a great place to hang out.

Reuben: I love it so far!


Reuben Corbett Discussion #1

Hey, thanks for joining us today.

Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What got you into narrating?

Do you listen to audiobooks?

How can we learn more about you? (links)

Do you have a FB page?

Reuben: Well, I am from Grand Junction, Colorado. I was a welder for a number of years, worked in all kinds of trades. I have always loved reading books, and I was always told I had a good voice! So I decided to get into narrating. I was a cello performance major in college, so I was already familiar with audio recording. So I got out my old equipment and started reading!

Me: Do you still play the cello?

Reuben: I do, but not nearly as much as I would like, with work an all. I definitely need to get back into it!

EF: Reuben, what was your first audition like?

Reuben: First audition for an audiobook? It was terrible, lol. It took me almost 6 months of practicing, auditioning, and recording to really find my voice, my style. I also learned a lot about recording audiobooks! Very different from recording music, acoustic treatment of the room is critical to great sounding recordings.

EF: Do you have a home studio or is there somewhere that you go?

Reuben: Lol, you’re not going to believe this, but my studio is actually in my parents basement! My house is next to a very noisy road, and it didn’t matter how much I did to treat my closet, car noises showed up in the recordings.

Reuben Corbett Discussion #2

How many books have you narrated?

Readers: What have you been reading lately?

Reuben: I have narrated 7 books so far. Right now I am working on the Dragonia Series for Craig A. Price Jr.

Me: I have the first of that series on my to-read list.

EF: I’ve been working on a project for the day job- so I lot of business and leadership books. Way behind on the fun books.

BL: Sadly, I haven’t made enough time to do as much reading as I would like – I am just started the 7th in Toby Neal’s Crime in Paradise

Me: I have all but given up “fun” reading. Usually too much else to do, but I enjoy the whole process … even rewriting, which I’ll be doing a LOT of this summer.

BL: Hope you get a lot of fun reading time! I got away from it for a little while and really missed it – it rejuvenates me when I am spending too much time in my own thoughts

Reuben Corbett Discussion #3

What do you look for when you browse for things to audition for?

Readers: What do you look for in a book?

Reuben: I look for a book that I would want to read lol. I love science fiction and fantasy. I also love self help books lol.

Me: Self-help and scifi/fantasy…that’s an interesting mix. Do you get a lot of fun reading time?

Reuben: I do, I really do. I just love immersing myself in stories. I also love to find ways to better myself, hence the self help books.

Me: What’s one piece of advice you’ve gotten from a self-help book recently?

Reuben: Fear is: False Evidence Appearing Real

Reuben Corbett Discussion #4

Tell us a little about what you’ve been working on recently.

Readers: tell us something you’ve been working on recently.

Reuben: I just finished Craig’s first installment in the Dragonia Empire series. It is very much in the epic fantasy genre. I just started the second book, where the story really gets going!

Me: Tell us a little about that series.

Reuben: It is very much rebellion against empire. Two main characters, Devarius and Paedyn, lead a ragtag bunch of villagers on a perilous quest to join the resistance. There are dragons, betrayal, and romance!



Reuben Corbett Discussion #5

If you could recommend 3 of the books you’ve narrated, what would they be and why?

Readers: Do you listen to audiobooks? What could convince you to try audio if you haven’t ever done so?

Reuben: I would definitely recommend The Afterlife Academy, Spirit’s Bane, and Dragonia: Rise of the Wyverns. Afterlife Academy because it is a pretty silly paranormal book that kids and adults can enjoy. It has fun characters, and great humor. Spirit’s Bane because it is very thought provoking, deeply emotional and spiritual, but also fantastically fun fiction drama. It has action and really great characters that were a blast to do voices for. I’ve already talked a little about Dragonia…

Me: Okay, so, of course I’m gonna focus on SB for a moment… who was your favorite character to voice?

Reuben: Oh my goodness… This book definitely tested the limits of my acting abilities, lots of character voices. I have to say that the most fun voice was the guilt demon! Satan was difficult, as you can imagine. Suave, yet the epitome of evil…lol tough. I also loved doing the voice of Lord Hadeon.

Me: I think the one that impressed me the most was Mina… the one that flat-out made me laugh was the “frantic little demon.”

BL: I have to admit I have only tried one audiobook – and I was not enamored with the story – I am definitely going to give it another try (but with one of Julie’s books!) now that I have started taking walks daily.

Reuben Corbett Discussion #6

What inspires you?

Readers: What inspires you?

Reuben: My inspiration, to be honest, comes from other narrators. I love hearing how other people read, do voices, tone, etc.



Reuben Corbett Discussion #7

What is your process for creating an audiobook?

Readers: Describe one of your creative processes. What do you do? How do you do it?

EF: When I am editing a big project, I tend to cut it into smaller pieces and arrange it on my living room wall. A friend saw it once and asked if I was stalking someone.

Me: That’s awesome. I want a pic of that!

Reuben: First, I have to read the book! As I am reading, I can hear the tone of the book, from the way the author writes. Ideas for voices also form as I get to know the characters, where they are from, etc.

Reuben Corbett Discussion #8

Thanks for stopping by tonight. Stick around for a few days as some people couldn’t make it tonight but may drop in later tonight or tomorrow.

Totally not kicking you out, but this ends the “formal” stuffs I prepped. 😛

Closing thoughts?

Reuben: Yes, I have some promo codes for The Afterlife Academy if anyone wants a free audiobook!

Me: I heard it. I’ll second that it’s a good one.

Audiobooks Reuben has done …

The Golden City Captives, Spirit’s Bane, The Afterlife Academy, The Night Human Hunter, Simplify, Godstone, and Dragonia: Rise of the Wyverns. Go here if you want to check them out.


He’s an amazing narrator (quick, clean audio, decent range of voices, easy to work with). If you’re interested in hiring him, look him up on ACX or email me your contact info and I will ask him to get back to you. (devyaschildren @


Associate links to follow…

Amazon Prime


Audible – If you’d like some free codes, please email me at [email protected] with requests for any of my works.

1718 Songs for Students Playlist Explanation

This is the lovely cover shot that Spotify made, so I’ma go with it.

Link to the 1718 Songs for Students Spotify Playlist.

Dear students,


If you have no idea what I’m taking about, you either missed class when I talked about this, you weren’t paying attention, or you’re not one of my current students. All sound possibilities. No matter how you got here, welcome. I hope if you are one of my students you’ve received your personal letter. Not sure how that tradition got started, but it’s something I’ve done each year since starting teaching. Personal letters are a rarity. Also, it gives me a chance to address each of you individually, something that doesn’t always happen in wider school settings. A friend, former student actually, got me started on making playlists. So naturally, I decided to compile one specifically for the students from the 2017-2018 school year. (Random people are welcomed too. I hope you find something to love. There’s some great music here.)

Disclaimer: I own none of the music. All opinions and meanings/interpretations are just that … opinions.

A Note About Flow (List Order):

The song order probably isn’t perfect, but I feel like this is the journey we’ve been on this year. Also, all of us are somewhere here in terms of finding out who we are, what we stand for, and what we believe. I truly hope you each find peace. Generally speaking, the songs start out with ones about longing and confusion then move on to hope and growth. Next comes endurance and strength and finally, victory. (The links should go to Youtube.)

Song List and Their Meanings:

Breath of Life by Florence + The Machine

“I was looking for a breath of life
A little touch of heavenly light
But all the choirs in my head sang no
To get a dream of life again
A little of vision of the start and the end
But all the choirs in my head sang no”

“Whose side am I on?”

In some way, we’re all looking for that breath of life, “a little touch of heavenly light,” but the “choirs” in our heads are saying no. Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen students struggle not just with the chemistry, but with much bigger life issues. It’s hard to turn off the choirs in our head that whisper doubts to us.

Up Down by Boy Epic

Besides being a neat, epic sounding song. I feel like this speaks very well to a general sense of lostness and confusion. “And I’m barely breathing, but I’ll fight on” … “Still fighting my demons”

Strength to Believe by Epic Score

Nothing like a solid, sweeping score to gear up for a fight. If this were a video game, this is about the part where all the bad guys start coming out of the walls and you gotta fight fast or die. I love the title. It’s very uplifting. Sometimes, belief is really hard to come by. This goes deeper than a Hallmark-y “just believe in yourself and everything turns to puppies and rainbows.” Still, there’s some truth to the song. Just listen to it. Music often transcends words. The beginning chords are very inspirational, yet there’s a sense of danger and a promise of a good, rousing fight.

Breath and Life by Audiomachine

Okay, so you probably don’t need the extended version. But it had a safer picture than the other one. Different take on the ideal of time passing and gearing up for life.

Who Are You by Svrcina

At first, I didn’t really like this song, but it became one of my favorites. This is how I feel sometimes. “You’re not such an easy target. One minute I know you, then I don’t. Hello. Who are you?” Students (people in general) are very good at putting on masks. Only when chaos is breaking out do I realize that there are things beyond the here and now that are fighting me. Guessing the same holds true for others. Other times, we just have to ask ourselves the question: who are you?

Even if it Hurts by Sam Tinnesz

I actually didn’t pick this song for you, the artist did. See, I wasn’t very tech savvy about my Facebook app. In trying to find and like Sam Tinnesz’s Facebook page, my phone decided I should just PM the man. So my thumbs up like went directly to him. Later, I got a reply thumbs up (’cause what else can one do?). Anyway, so I told him what happened and then remembered I was compiling this list. I asked him to recommend one of his songs to you guys and this is what he chose because it’s about sacrificial love. There are some beautiful friendships in the classes. Friendship’s about more than goofing around in class. It’s about being there for your friends during the good, the bad, and the ugly.

We Will All Be Changed by Seryn

I originally had the song at the beginning of the list, but I like it much better here. It’s really a turning point song. After realizing you’re looking for a breath of life, preparing to enter a struggle, and drawing closer to friends, you’re ready for change. Life’s all about change. I think I put that in many of the personal letters. But it’s a message for everybody, regardless of if you actually got those words written to you.

Undefeated (feat. Beacon Light) by Tommee Profitt, Beacon Light

Not my typical fare for music, I can assure you. Still, this song is awesome. Listen very carefully to the lyrics. “We undefeated.” “rising back up from the ground” “we rising” “never back down.”

The Hate Inside (feat. Sam Tinnesz) by Tommee Profitt, Sam Tinnesz

This song stands as a beautiful, poignant warning. Holding on to negative emotions, including hate, it’s going to eat you alive. “Like liquid poison, it takes its toll.”

Dragonland by Thomas Bergersen

Besides being great music to study for finals (hint, hint), this is good “wait time” music. The Hate Inside is pretty weighty. This is lighter. There are ominous sections to it, but at the heart, the score’s got great buildup to another fight. It’s very inspirational.

Invincible by Two Steps from Hell

Similar in style to Dragonland. This is good musical encouragement to keep struggling against the things that challenge you. Giving up is the most painful thing to watch. Fight on. Life can be very difficult. Turn to family and friends. People can be difficult, but they make life worth living. Seek to take care of each other. This does not include cheating. Ha, sometimes, it means standing up to a friend and saying, you’re going to have to do this yourself because it’s good for you in the long run.

Something Can Grow by Tony Anderson

The direct result of most struggles is growth. This song is occasionally too slow for my tastes, but it captures the idea of waiting, watching, and growth very well.

Fight Club by Lorne Balfe

I partly needed to get back to rousing themes. Also, the song is great for continuing the idea of battle on as well as introducing the theme of endurance. There are notes in the background that are reminiscent of a ticking clock. To me, that says passage of time.

Trouble in Town by Lorne Balfe

This song throws you right in the middle of a fight. It’s like the previous song set you up then BOOM fight.

Roots by Swingin Hammers

Hands down, one of the hardest videos for me to watch. I refuse. It makes me nauseous, but the music is lovely. The lyrics are powerful too. “I’m tired of running, running, running into the things that kill my soul” “tired of always swinging hammers at the love that makes me whole.” Again, we have the idea that we’re occasionally our own worst enemy. “bout time to start kicking, screaming, got to get out of here fast” Okay, so those last lyrics might be every student and teacher come the end of the school year, but metaphorically, run away from the things that kill your soul. Oh, that applies to many self-destructive tendencies people have.

Heart of Courage by Thomas Bergersen

One of my favorite processing songs. This minibreak should give you time to take in the heavy-hitting lyrics from “Roots.” It’s also a great song for embodying the idea of endurance and carrying on through hard things. Much of life requires a heart of courage to wade through well.

Never Give Up by UNSECRET, feat. Rose Cousins

The central message is present in the title. “Never give up.” “Never ever ever ever, ever ever ever. Never give up …” “It’ll take all of us to make this right” Generally, I’m not a fan of repetition, but the idea that you have to repeat never giving up is important. You have to continually fight the urge to just throw your hands up and quit hard things. Growth comes from struggling through things that hurt. That’s not to say go seek tough things to overcome. Enough hard stuff will roll your way just as a part of life. When they do come, never give up.

For This You Were Born UNSECRET, Fleurie

“Silence the doubt in your mind. You were by design a victor.” I love those lyrics. A lot of people go throughout life thinking “what’s the point?” and “I’m just not good enough” You were born to be a victor. Silencing doubt in your head is a great place to start.

“Know in your heart you’re alive. Destiny is on your side.” Pretty. Not quite sure I grasp the full implication of the words, but I like the sentiment.

Who Are You (Russ Macklin Remix) by Svrcina, Russ Macklin

Some questions are worth repeating. Besides, this is a nice remix. Surprising how much changing the tempo can change quite a bit about a song. Still, I figured near the end is a great place to revisit the question: who are you?

Guardians At the Gate by Audiomachine

Actually, the video montage here is decent too. Beautiful music to again remind you that life is a struggle, but a beautiful one.

Empire of Angels by Thomas Bergersen

Finally, time to slow down. Again, great studying music. Can’t tell you how many lesson plans got written to music like this. I think this has a lot more gentle themes to it. We’re back to contemplative, softer, still epic music.

Victory by Two Steps from Hell

As I hear this for the umpteenth time, I think I probably should have switched Victory and Empire of Angels, but title wise, I like how it goes now. There’s something nice with ending a year on a note of victory. For some of us, just passing is our victory.


There will be many things for you to face this summer and the years beyond. Music can’t fix everything, but I hope this list has given you something to think about. Success doesn’t automatically mean money and fame. It means living life well, not just for yourself, but for others in your life. Take responsibility for who you are, what you believe, what you will become. It’s been a pleasure to work with each of you. Come visit in future years (um, just not when you’re supposed to be in a different class, even if there’s a sub there…). I have enjoyed getting to know you as you are now and look forward to seeing where life takes each of you in the future.



Julie C. Gilbert





4/5 Solo – Spoiler Review

I do not own the rights to this pic. Found it on Google.


This is the spoiler review for Solo. You have been warned. Short version of the non-spoiler review: I enjoyed it, but it didn’t blow me away like any of the originals or hit the “wow, only Star Wars could be this good” button.

Additional Comments:

– Not quite an opening crawl, but I do like that this time they tried to set the scene for you.

– Things that made me laugh: Han speaking Wookie. The presence of the imperial star destroyer in the tunnel.

– Of course the Maul thing threw me. I loved it.

– Enfys Nest’s reveal was cool too. She reminds me of Princess Merida. Gotta be the hair.

– I think Donald Glover probably fit his character best.

– Didn’t know much about Qi’ra, but I think she probably has some of the most potential for book spinoffs. I want to know what happened when she got caught in the spaceport.

– The way Han picked up the Solo part of his name is interesting, but I think they could have done better. I mean, if the kid remembers his father, how come he can’t conjure a last name?

– As mentioned in the non-spoiler review, there’s decent replay value to the movie.

– Things every fan wanted to see: winning the Falcon from Lando, Kessel run, Solo’s imperial days, meeting Chewie, Han’s penchant to shoot first.

– I really would have liked to see more of the training at Carida. The “3 years later” thing was kind of lame. I kind of liked the original EU version.

– Things I missed the first time:

Totally missed the reason the other crew was even on that mudball planet. They were there to steal the ship, but the first viewing that went right over my head. Dryden Vos looked like he had facial tattoos removed.

– Plot (4/5): I don’t like time skips, but I can see why it was necessary. It was interesting to see Han as a soldier briefly.

– Characters (4/5):

I like young Lando, but L3’s annoying. She does have a few good lines though. It’s good that they had pretty solid focus on Han, but knowing the backstories a bit more for people like Qi’ra would have been helpful. There are hints she’s done things she regrets, but a few more specifics would have been nice. Backstory for how Chewie ended up as the lone prisoner in that hole would have been good. Tobias Beckett’s an interesting character. Dryden Vos was a neat bad guy. Wish he had a few more scenes. Dude can pull off homicidal creeper very well.

– Coincidences:

Running into Qi’ra on the Crimson Dawn guy’s ship is quite the coincidences. Arguments could be made of several coincidences like that in The Force Awakens, but I still like that movie a tad better.

– Epic Shots:

Han smacking a tie fighter with the Falcon.


It’s not going to replace most of the Star Wars movies as my favorite, but it’s up and over The Last Jedi and The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones.