Rise of Gru Movie

Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2, and Despicable Me 3 all follow similar storylines where the main character Gru and his minions fight other super-villains, whether it’s for the safety of the world or for selfish reasons. However, in the newly released movie Minions: The Rise of Gru, there’s a different plot where 11-year-old Gru is trying to prove that he can be a successful supervillain. After being rejected by the Vicious Six villain group, Gru steals their most valuable treasure and becomes their target. When an independent supervillain, Wild Knuckles, finds out about Gru and his robbery, he kidnaps him with the hope that Gru’s minions will pay him the ransom of the special jewel, which is also the treasure Gru stole. 

This movie was, and probably will be for a very long time, the funniest movie I have ever seen. Having the minions in the movie already guarantees some high-level comedy, but the way the movie was planned to include silliness every few minutes constantly kept me laughing! 

Not only was this movie hilarious, but it was also a great movie in general. There were numerous plot twists, but also some sad moments, which were followed by humorous ones. In this movie, Gru, despite being a youngster, showed his potential to be an incredible super-villain (which he eventually achieved in Despicable Me). Also, after partnering with Wild Knuckles, Gru learns how to be a true villain and discovers his aspirations for his career. 

I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone who enjoyed the Despicable Me series. However, you don’t need to have watched the previous Minions movies to enjoy this movie. If you like to laugh, I suggest you give this movie a try! You won’t be disappointed!

Interesting Sports Podcasts to Try

If you get bored while running, resting, or doing whatever it is that you like to do, you might want to try a podcast. I enjoy listening to sports podcasts to discover the opinions of experts on certain topics, and I’m here to share some of my favorite ones with you. 

There are 3 podcasts that I feel separate themselves from the rest of them and for different reasons. Some of them offer incredible insight on basketball, while others are fun because they have people debating passionately about players and headlines. 

The Draymond Green Show

The host of this show is the man himself, Draymond Green. He breaks down NBA games and talks about how his team, the Golden State Warriors, played and how the other games went down. His podcasts are especially fun to listen to after he has a big game or an important moment in a game, such as an ejection. Sometimes, he’ll have a guest on the show, who might be a fellow NBA player or someone associated with the NBA. His attention to detail really shows in his podcasts, and I recommend his podcast to anyone who wants to learn a bit more about basketball. This is definitely my favorite podcast at the moment. 

First Take:

What’s better in a sports podcast than Stephen A. Smith yelling at Kendrick Perkins or someone else on the show for their “blasphemous” takes? With various guests on the show as well as the usual crew (Molly Qerim, Stephen A. Smith, and sometimes Kendrick Perkins), the podcast can be really entertaining to listen to or also watch on ESPN. On this show, they primarily debate about basketball, but also have some sections that include football or baseball. Although it’s not my favorite podcast, it’s definitely in the top 2 and I love occasionally listening to small segments at a time. 

Skip and Shannon: Undisputed:

If you want a lot of deep analysis about the game of basketball, don’t go to this show. If you want to see Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe bickering back and forth for two and a half hours, then this is for you. On Undisputed, the 2 hosts don’t really talk about what teams need to do or what they should have done, but they debate on controversial topics concerning ejections, who’s better than who, and certain plays. However, before listening to this podcast, be aware that a lot of the things Skip and Shannon say are heavily biased, especially the ones from Skip. That being said, this show is still a lot of fun and I definitely recommend you check it out. 

If you’re a basketball (or sports) enthusiast, in summer, you might find yourself bored with nothing to do, and if so, give these podcasts/shows a listen. You probably won’t regret it!

-Mert A.

Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP by Mirin Fader

Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP is a book that details Giannas Antetokounmpo’s rise to greatness. 

In 2008, if I told you that a skinny Nigerian kid living in Greece was going to become the face of the NBA and win 2 MVPs, would you believe me? If you said no, you would agree with the majority of people. However, if you said yes, would you stick with your answer if I told you that this kid had illegal immigrant parents, and he had to sell on the streets every day to get his family food to eat? If you would still say yes, you would have predicted the rise of Giannis Antetokounmpo. 

Giannis had to go through many struggles as a kid. He would go with his mom to sell sunglasses for a couple of euros each just to try to get food on the table. Sometimes, he would have to go to sleep with a rumbling stomach, imagining the food that he wasn’t able to eat. He would always try to smile, so his brothers wouldn’t start to worry. His family would get evicted a lot, and they would have to move to a different apartment often because they couldn’t pay the rent. However, basketball was a way out. Giannis would forget about all of his worries when he was on the court, playing his heart out. He would dream of playing in the NBA and having his family all with him along the journey. 

Giannis’s childhood was difficult, but he worked hard and didn’t complain. His story should be a lesson to all of us: Anything is possible as long as you put in the effort and work extremely hard. His childhood shows us that we should never count anyone out based on their circumstances. 

The author, Mirin Fader, did a great job including interviews and quotes from people who played a role in Giannis’s childhood. His mom, brothers, and former coaches all had quotes in this biography of Giannis Antetokoumpo. 

While reading about Giannis’s rise to stardom, I was not able to put the book down. It was so intriguing to read about the struggles that he faced and overcame to get to where he is today, and I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Giannis Anteokounmpo. Also, anyone who wants to learn a thing or two about the challenges that some people face would find this book interesting, too. 

-Mert A.

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang

Amazon.com: Dragon Hoops: 9781626720794: Yang, Gene Luen: Books

Dragon Hoops is a graphic novel that follows the Bishop O’Dowd Dragons’ journey to winning the state championship. A graphic novelist, Mr. Yang, is also along for the ride. After losing in the state championship game for multiple years, the Dragons are fed up and ready to make some noise! Their roster is looking stacked, with Paris Austin and Ivan Rabb leading the way as the star players. 

The Dragons experience defeats and victories along their path to the state championship game. There are ups and downs, but they get through those negative moments as a team. 

Gene Luen Yang, the author of Dragon Hoops, wrote about a true story from his time at Bishop O’Dowd High School. Ivan Rabb, Paris Austin, Alex Zhao, and other players are actually real people and not just made-up characters!

I recommend this book to any sports enthusiast. As I read this book, I really enjoyed getting a graphic novelist’s perspective on the team. Since the book was written as a graphic novel, it was easier and quicker to read. Dragon Hoops is a very entertaining book, and if you are someone who enjoys reading graphic novels, you will definitely like this book!

I would give this graphic novel a 10/10 rating because it had a plot to it. It wasn’t like some graphic novels which are just meant to make people laugh and read for fun, but it had a purpose. Dragon Hoops was written to show us the way a high school sports team operates but in a more interesting and entertaining way.

-Mert A.

Dragon Loops by Gene Luen Yang is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Overdrive.

Starting a Collection

Collecting items is fun, but it can be difficult to come up with an idea of what to collect. Some collections can be expensive, others might be rare, while a few might lack importance to you. I enjoy collecting a variety of different types of objects, and whenever I open one of my collections’ boxes, I’m always very excited to look through my souvenirs. If you are searching for something to collect, look no further than this post as I’ll take you through some of my favorite collections! 

Whenever I go to new cities, museums, or historical sites, I always look for one thing in particular: Pressed Pennies! Pressed pennies are great souvenirs to collect because they are inexpensive (They usually cost 51¢ to $1) and supply you with something to remind you of your visit. These small coins have special designs (Small pictures or names) which represent the place you got them from. If you’re looking for a way to collect something to remind you of the places you’ve traveled to, pressed pennies are a great option! 

Ripping open packs consisting of the players in your favorite sport can be very exciting! The best part about collecting sports cards is the fact that they are widely available. You don’t need to travel to different locations to collect them, which makes them very convenient for sports lovers! NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB cards are all available at Target and Amazon. If you are interested in sports, this might be the collection for you! 

Key chains are meant to go on keys, but that’s not the only thing they are good for. Even if you don’t want to hang these key rings on your keys, you can still use them for a collection! Similarly to pressed pennies, I also look for key chains whenever I travel. Looking back at these collectibles can be reminders of the places you went and adventures you had in your life! If you enjoy traveling and want souvenirs to represent your visits, key chains would be great for you! 

Many of us are fans of actors, sports stars, singers, or other celebrities. Some of us even idolize them and look to model our lives after these people. Bobbleheads, Funko Pops, or figurines might be exciting for you to collect if you look up to celebrities. I, personally, am a huge fan of Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors All-Star point guard, and I have a Stephen Curry Funko Pop and bobblehead because I enjoy collecting Stephen Curry objects. 

Lastly, if you haven’t been intrigued by any of the earlier collections that I have named, don’t worry, you can still start a collection. To come up with an idea of what to collect, think of your hobbies and what you enjoy doing or watching. If you like to solve the Rubik’s Cube, you might enjoy collecting different types of Rubik’s cubes, such as the Megaminx or Pyramix. If you are interested in Marvel, Star Wars, or the Lord of the Rings, you might find an interest in collecting posters of your favorite movie. If chess is your passion, there are a lot of different chess sets you can collect. 

Just remember, collections can be anything and don’t need to seem rare or extra special to be a collection. Even a group of pens, shirts, rocks, or books can be considered a collection, as long as they mean something to you. The best part is: You can always add to and grow these collections, too! Have fun collecting!

-Mert A.

March Madness

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With the month being March, sports watchers have something new to watch which will keep them interested. It’s March Madness! March Madness is the NCAA Division One College Basketball tournament where 64 teams compete for the right to call themselves the Champs. 

First of all, there are four regions in the NCAA tournament: West, East, South, Midwest. Each region has its own one seed, two seed, all the way up to the 16th seed. Until the Final Four, each region’s teams only compete with each other. 

There are six rounds in March Madness, but not all teams are fortunate to make all of them. In fact, only two of the 64 teams are able to compete in all the rounds. To qualify for the tournament in March, teams are required to have a great regular season or win the conference championship. First comes the round of 64, where there are 32 different games total. The one seed in each region matches up with the 16 seed, the two seed with the 15 seed, up to the eighth seed versus the ninth seed matchup. Then, the winners of those games compete in the round of 32, which consists of 16 games. Next is the Sweet Sixteen, with eight games. The winners of the Sweet Sixteen matchups compete in the Elite Eight, which is also a regional final for each of the four regions. The winners of the regions go on to compete in the Final Four, where the region champions play against each other. The sixth round is the NCAA Championship Game, where the last two teams battle for the rights to cut down the nets and hold up the trophy! 

Performing highly in this college basketball tournament can also raise the stocks of players trying to make it to the NBA. Some top players to watch in the rest of March Madness include Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga), Drew Timme (Gonzaga), Jabari Smith Jr (Auburn), Paolo Banchero (Duke), Mark Williams (Duke), Jaden Ivey (Purdue), and Ochai Agbaji (Kansas).  

Some top teams to watch in March Madness include UCLA, Arizona, Duke, Gonzaga, Purdue, Auburn, Houston, Kansas, Villanova, Wisconsin, and Texas Tech.

I always enjoy watching top teams battle it out during March Madness. Whether it’s a 15 point comeback by an underrated team or a 30 point performance by a star player, March Madness never disappoints! 

-Mert A.

Theodore Boone: The Kid Lawyer

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer - Kindle edition by Grisham, John. Children  Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Theodore Boone, a normal 13-year-old living in Strattenburg, is just like any other kid. He’s smart, polite, and a little bit undecided about his future career. However, Theodore Boone is a very lucky teenager, because he has the title that no one else in Strattenburg possesses. Theodore Boone is a KID LAWYER. 

Theo is an only child with 2 parents who are both lawyers. His dad is a real estate lawyer, while his mom works as a divorce attorney. Ike, Theo’s uncle, used to work with Theo’s parents at the Boone and Boone law firm before some unfortunate incidents took away the license that allowed him to practice the law. 

So, when Pete Duffy is accused of murder, Theo feels thrilled to get to watch another trial. He does what any kid who loves to watch trials would do: Try to skip school. When a friend at school comes up to Theo to tell him about a mysterious witness, Theo finds himself as an important part of the murder trial, too. Theo tries to help the star witness overcome his fears and attend the trial to make sure justice is served. 

Theodore Boone: The Kid Lawyer is the first book of an exciting 7 book series. Each book contains a different mystery where Theo tries to take action. Sometimes, he finds himself in trouble, but other times, he finds himself being celebrated by others as a hero. 

This novel shows how you have to work as a team to achieve goals. Theo knew what he had to do, but the mystery witness didn’t want to come out and tell what he saw, which made it harder for there to be a completely fair and honest trial. 

Throughout this book and the rest of the series, Theo fights through his problems, while also advising his friends. He never puts himself over others, helping everyone succeed and be happy. 

I would give this book a 10/10 rating because the author did a great job of including plot twists throughout the novel. Just as the trial seemed to be coming to a close, something significant would happen, creating more and more obstacles for the characters to get through. John Grisham did a great job including his knowledge of the law in this book. I learned a lot of different facts about the U.S. justice system as I was reading about Theodore Boone and the murder trial. 

If you are interested in becoming a lawyer in the future, or if you just want to read about a thrilling murder mystery, this book would be a great read for you!

-Mert A.

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

The Mark of the Thief by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Mark of the Thief (Mark of the Thief, Book 1) (1): Nielsen, Jennifer A.:  9780545561556: Amazon.com: Books

Knocking other people backward, disappearing and appearing out of nowhere, and protecting yourself and your friends with an invisible shield are all things that magic can do! So, when Radulf, the Roman general, comes around to the mines where slaves work, one naughty slave is told to fetch Caesar’s Bulla from a cave. Who is that slave? Nicolas Calva, who will not back down from anyone. Not even his masters! 

After Nicolas is let down into the cave where he needs to grab Caesar’s Bulla, he meets a griffin. This griffin is not an ordinary griffin, though. It is the griffin who guards the Bulla! As Nic tries to grab the bulla, he has to fend off the half-lion, half-eagle magical creature. 

Following his successful attempt of obtaining the bulla, Nic endures many struggles. Radulf, the general, is after him and he wants the bulla for himself. Roman soldiers are ready to capture him at every cost! 

This book is a thrilling ride that does not disappoint. Nic learns about friendship and trust throughout this novel, and a lot of the lessons that he learns can be used in our lives, too. 

Throughout his encounters with Caela the griffin, Nic learns how to care for someone else other than himself or his sister. After living in the mines for 5 years and not knowing life other than difficult days and starving stomachs, Nic was able to understand that there are things in life that are enjoyable, too. The bulla helped Nic get out of the mines, and as a result, Nic learned about the lives of the Romans. 

This novel is the first of a 3 book trilogy, so Nic’s journey is longer than just one book!

The author, Jennifer A. Nielsen did a great job making these stories really intriguing and exhilarating. This book is definitely one of my favorite books that I have read this year and I recommend it to anyone interested in stories about magic.

I would give this novel a 10/10 rating because of how the author added important lessons using events and characters. She did a great job of including plot twists to create excitement for the reader just as the story started to slow down. 

-Mert A.

The Mark of the Thief by Jennifer A. Nielsen is available from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Film Review: Fellowship of the Ring

Want some action? Adventure? Fantasy? This movie has all of those elements! The Fellowship of the Ring is the first of 3 movies that tell the tale of the full Lord of the Rings stories. This movie was inspired by the book The Fellowship of the Ring which is one of the Lord of the Rings novels. This series is the sequel to The Hobbit, so I would suggest you read that book and/or watch the movie before you watch the “Lord of the Rings”. 

The movie starts with Gandalf traveling to the Shire to visit Bilbo for his  111th birthday. Yes, 111th!! To celebrate this special event, the hobbits of the Shire organize a party. Bilbo, who has missed the mountains a lot, decides to leave the Shire with a prank where he becomes invisible using the ring. Gandalf urges Bilbo to leave the Ring for Frodo, but the ring never leaves a good impact on anyone and Bilbo struggles to part with it. 

As Sauron gains power over time, it is up to Frodo to destroy the ring in the place it was created: Mount Doom in Mordor. Frodo and his friends Samwise Gamgee, Peregrin Took, and Meriadoc Brandybuck all travel together as they escape Black Riders and Ringwraiths. Also, they have to be careful about a former friend who has turned into a foe. Who? Saruman the White, who once was one of Gandalf’s sorcerer and wizard friends. Gandalf the Grey barely escapes his death as Saruman builds an army of Orcs in Isengard.  A small group with Gimli the Dwarf, Legolas the Elf, Gandalf the Grey, Frodo the Hobbit, Samwise Gamgee the Hobbit, Merry and Pippin the Hobbits, and Aragorn and Boromir the men form the Fellowship of the Ring. They battle orcs everywhere they go, but their connection and fierce combat skills help them through their battles. 

One of my favorite quotes in this movie is from Samwise Gamgee. He repeatedly states, “ I made a promise, Mr. Frodo. A promise. ‘Don’t you leave him, Samwise Gamgee.’ And I don’t mean to.” This quote shows what loyalty and friendship are all about. When Frodo is all alone heading to Mordor, Sam decides to stick with Frodo even though he knows that death is most likely behind this journey.

In this movie, sacrifices and teamwork are crucial for Frodo and the Fellowship to reach their goal: To destroy the ring. Even though they have to depart at times, their friendship always shines daylight even through the darkest hours. 

This movie is one of my favorite movies so far because it has action and adventure which I always seek in a movie. The teamwork and friendship that are constantly shown throughout this movie are incredible and inspiring. I rate this movie a 10 out of 10 and I would recommend it to everyone who likes adventure and fantasy movies. 

Also, you can watch and read the other Lord of the Rings movies called The Two Towers and The Return of the King. Enjoy!

Fellowship of the Ring is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Flip the Script by Ed Orgeron

Ed Orgeron, LSU’s football coach, led the team to a national championship in 2019. Unfortunately, it wasn’t easy to get there. Coach O, now in his 60s, had a troubled start to his career at different universities like Ole Miss. He had to fight through his addiction to alcohol and he had to flip the script of the way his life was going. Instead of staying at rock bottom, he decided to climb the ladder, one rung at a time, to make his way to the top. He persevered to stop his addiction to drinking and alcohol. This book is an autobiography about his life, written by Coach O and about Coach O. 

If you have an interest in football or want to become an athlete or coach one day, I suggest reading this book. Not only does it have many important lessons inside, but it also is fun to read and learn about the inside of the locker room during those games and events that you might have seen on TV. For me, it was cool and interesting to be able to learn about Coach O’s journey to becoming one of the best coaches in all of college sports. 

The book talks about Coach O’s early career in coaching and how he had many different jobs at different universities. He was a defensive line coach (DLC), assistant head coach (AHC), assistant strength coach (ASC), as well as a head coach (HC) throughout his coaching career. He is still the head coach of LSU, but he played a role in the pasts of the University of Miami, USC, University of Arkansas, Ole Miss, LSU, and other universities. He also was a part of the New Orleans Saints coaching staff at one point in his career. That is why this book is a perfect book for athletes looking to play in college and professionally. This book shows what coaches in different levels of the sport look for and care about! 

I give this book a 10/10 rating. It shows Coach O’s insights on college and high school football players as well as coaching. He explains how to coach and Coach Orgeron talks about the different ways you can connect to players. If you want to be a coach, this book can be a big help to your career and you can learn from one of the best coaches out there in Coach Ed Orgeron. You can learn how to recruit, talk to players, and how to handle the media. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning from not only an experienced coach, but also a very experienced person.

-Mert A.