The Phantom Tower – Review

Phantom Tower

“The Phantom Tower”

 By Keir Graff
The Phantom Tower is a very interesting combination of magic and mystery with plenty of mischief. I was really impressed with the idea of the story, how the middle and end were pulled off, and the overall tone of the story.
It includes identical twelve year old twins, Mal and Colm, almost as opposite in personality as they are similar in looks, who have recently moved into Brunhild Tower, an apartment in Chicago with its 13th floor missing. When a mysterious Princess on the 7th floor warns them against roaming the building at midday, they can’t resist, which results in entrance to a parallel dimension of the same building, where the ghosts of all the former residents of Brunhild Tower “live”. The shady Professor, the intriguing Princess, and a few hundred ghosts add to the puzzle.
So now Mal and Colm, their new friend Tamika, and their dead friend Teddy, are all trying to figure out the secrets of the amazing towers and a way to break the mysterious curse that threatens to keep them trapped in the phantom tower, forever.
I would give “The Phantom Tower” a 4/5 probably. It was an incredible story, the idea of it and all, I wasn’t quite sure how much I enjoyed the actual telling of said story, and the beginning dragged on just a little. But the characters were entertaining, the plot was strong, and I enjoyed reading it very much. “The Phantom Tower” included simple details that really pulled the book together as an impossible fantasy and absolutely intriguing mystery. Graff’s writing tone is witty and engaging, and this is a really well written book in terms of the almost childish tone that any twelve year old could pull off, between arguments with a twin or trying to save everyone from an endless fate.
I would recommend this book for mystery and magic lovers, who can handle an entertaining group of kids being the ones to stumble through the adventure of The Phantom Tower.
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Counting Down To Life Chapter 11

Yellow School Bus

Chapter 11

Between Kansas City, Kansas and Denver Colorado

March 22, 2017

Two weeks later, Brooklyn was sitting in the backseat of her own car. Atifa was driving, Laz was in the passenger seat, and Lyvlen was seated beside Brooklyn in the back. She could tell Lyvlen was studying her from the way the Guardian’s daughter was staring at the young human.

Up front, Atifa was more focused on worrying about Brooklyn than she was on the crowded highway. She had been spacey since they met Laz and Lyvlen in the diner almost two weeks ago. It was like Brooklyn didn’t know what was going on half the time. Atifa wasn’t sure if Brooklyn had another vision when no one was around or what, she had been acting so strange since meeting Laz and Lyvlen. For all Atifa could tell, Lyvlen could’ve done something to Brooklyn. Atifa glanced at the two girls in the back and saw that Lyvlen was staring, more like glaring, at Brooklyn who was quietly gazing out the window. Atifa couldn’t see the expression on Brooklyn’s face, but she could ask.

“What’s wrong, Brooklyn?” The Empathy Guardian asked.

“Nothing,” the young human replied almost immediately.

“She’s scared and confused,” Lyvlen said. Atifa rolled her eyes, annoyed at Laz’s daughter for speaking for someone who was perfectly capable of speaking for themselves.

“I’m just thinking,” Brooklyn said. In truth, she was freaking herself out with thoughts of what the dog could’ve meant. So far, Brooklyn had only come up with things that would happen in a movie, not real life.

‘But isn’t this real life?’ Brooklyn heard Lyvlen say. The human looked at the Guardian spawn. ‘You’re the only one that can hear me right now. I’m using telepathy if you haven’t figured it out yet. I’m just letting you know that I remember everything that happened in the Cavern of Despair. The Hellhound thought I was unconscious so it didn’t use the memory wipe on me.’

Brooklyn remembered what happened in the cave. She remembered the voices. What they said, what she did when the sounds of those voices overwhelmed Brooklyn. She remembered hearing Atifa’s voice telling her to join the voices. No one would miss her Atifa had said, but there had been another voice among the ones that were telling her to take the fall. The voice had told her not to do it, it had told her to stay alive, that the world needed her. The voice sounded so familiar, but at the same time, it seemed so unfamiliar.

That voice,’ Lyvlen gasped, still inside Brooklyn’s head. ‘It’s Zora’s voice. I would know him anywhere. He’s a master of hiding in plain sight, but his voice is always recognizable.’

Lyvlen’s eyes widened, in real life. ‘Why would Zora want you alive? What could he want with some human? Is it because of your connection to him that will help us get to the stones first? Atifa says that your connection could be the difference between us winning and losing this war. Whatever that means, and I will figure that out eventually, just know that the moment you or Zora makes a mistake, I will kill you very painfully.’

Brooklyn huffed and turned back to the window. The past two weeks had made Brooklyn realize how much she hated and feared Lyvlen Drailey. The Guardian’s daughter seemed like she hadn’t had enough human contact to know that people didn’t like having other people inside their heads, but at the same time, Lyvlen seemed like she spent most of her time with other people.

According to Atifa, Lyvlen spent most of her time either passed out drunk or at a party getting drunk. Rather than being useful and helping the Guardians protect the stones that controlled peoples emotions, Lyvlen preferred to waste her potential on useless things like parties, for example.

While Lyvlen may have been an untamable Guardian spawn that could’ve stopped the possibility of the end of the world as we know it.

Brooklyn was shocked out of her thoughts when the car come to a sudden stop. They were stuck in traffic. Brooklyn sighed, the excruciatingly long car ride to Denver, Colorado was just made longer.

An hour later, they were still stuck in traffic. They had moved about six feet, and Brooklyn was beginning to moan and groan like a bored child. Her feet were cramped, and she was incredibly bored.

No one had spoken more than ten words since they got stuck. Brooklyn wasn’t the type of person to whine all the time, every chance she got unless the whining was absolutely necessary to get what she wanted, she just hated sitting in traffic with nothing but silence. There was always some music playing for Brooklyn to sing along to or someone to talk to.

They had tried playing music, but Atifa and Laz began arguing over the music. Laz wanted jazz while Atifa wanted to play some One Direction, Lyvlen just sat quietly through the entire argument, Brooklyn was sure the older girl was asleep but after the Hellhound incident Brooklyn wasn’t going to trust Lyvlen, she wasn’t going to question her either.

Brooklyn had tried starting a conversation, but that ended up in an awkward silence. The discussion began with Brooklyn asking if Atifa or Laz news knew what was causing the traffic jam and how long it would take, and somehow, it ended up somewhat morbid when Lyvlen said something that just ended it.

Now, Brooklyn was bored out of her mind. She couldn’t read because she got car sick. Brooklyn couldn’t watch something on her phone because she didn’t have WiFi or data. None of the games on her phone could keep her occupied for long, and Pinterest could only do so much to keep her attention before she felt sick from reading so much, that is if Brooklyn was lucky enough for Pinterest to load.

Brooklyn was scrolling through the music on her phone. Maybe if Lyvlen hadn’t stolen her earbuds, Brooklyn could listen to something without dealing with Laz and Atifa’s bickering.

Brooklyn was about to tell Lyvlen to give back her earbuds when the cars in front of them began to move, and this time they didn’t stop moving.

Brooklyn sighed in relief, she still wanted her earbuds back because she couldn’t stand the silence for much longer, but at least Brooklyn knew they were going somewhere. When they passed the scene of the accident, Brooklyn put a hand over her mouth to keep from screaming. Her eyes went wide and nearly popped out of her head.

The scene in front of her was gruesome and too horrible to describe. There weren’t words for what Brooklyn saw except horrible and downright terrifying. A school bus was overturned, and there were ambulances and police cars all around the scene. Brooklyn caught sight of a body bag on the ground and thought of how many people, kids, were on the bus.

Brooklyn leaned her head back against the seat and stared into space, thinking about those poor people and what could have caused something so horrible.

A Series of Unfortunate Events: A TV Show Review 

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Will the Baudelaire orphans be able to escape their misery? Or will they land in the hands of the wicked actor Count Olaf? It couldn’t get worse than this, or so they thought…

The story entitled  “A Series of Unfortunate Events” was originally written in a phenomenal thirteen book series by author Lemony Snicket. For the most part, the television series stays true to the books with a few minor exceptions here and there. The story begins with Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, who were having an ordinary day on Briny Beach. Tragically, they are told that their parents died in an unexpected house fire that also burned their home. However, this is only the beginning to the tragic tale of the Baudelaires. With the help of a friendly accountant, the children are left in the care of a new guardian, Count Olaf, who plans to steal the enormous fortune their parents left behind. While escaping from Count Olaf’s clutches, they learn more about their parents, a secret organization, and the legacy they are bound to fulfill.

All in all, this is a great TV series. The makers of this show managed to recreate the books in a way I would have never expected. Taking on the role of Lemony Snicket, Patrick Warburton does a fantastic job narrating the story. Although redundant in some points of the show, I found the narration of explaining phrases and key points, true to the books. One great addition to the show is its humor. The jokes and witty banter of this TV show are downright hysterical. For these reasons, I would definitely rate this show an 8.5/10.

“If you are interested in stories with happy endings, then you would be better off somewhere else. In this story is there not only no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle.”- Lemony Snicket –The Bad Beginning: Part 1

 

Review of “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”

To All the Boys I've Loved Before

About this movie:

(Spoiler Alert)

Lara Jean Covey has a box in which she keeps love letters to boys she used to love. No one knows about these letters except for her. This box was given to Lara Jean by her mother who died two years ago. Lara Jean has a total of five love letters. One of which is to Josh, her neighbor. They used to be close friends when they were younger, but then they kind of drifted when he started dating Lara Jean’s older sister, Margot. Before moving away to college, Margot breaks up with Josh. One regular school day, Lara Jean sees Josh and 4 other guys with love letters that she wrote. Peter Kavinsky is one of the guys who received a letter. Eventually, Peter and Lara Jean start “pretend dating” so Lara Jean can convince Josh that she does not love him in that way anymore. Peter agrees to this in hopes of making his ex-girlfriend jealous and getting back together with her. Lara Jean goes from being ‘invisible’ to ‘visible’. But after a while, Lara Jean and Peter start to develop real feelings for each other.

Rating: 10/10

My opinion:

I absolutely loved this movie so much! The plot was so interesting, especially when Peter and Lara Jean started ‘pretend dating’.  I loved how well they picked the actors for the roles of the two main characters. I was waiting for this movie to come out for a while, since I read the book first. I knew the movie was going to be great after reading the book. I was not disappointed. I would definitely recommend this movie to my friends. This movie is intended for audiences 14+.

Counting Down To Life Chapter 10

Cavern

Chapter 10

Conway, Arkansas

March 10, 2017

Brooklyn’s eyelids opened slowly, weighted down by sleep. The room around her was dark, but it was cold and wet. Brooklyn lifted her arms to rub the drowsiness from her eyes, but her hands were bound. She realized they were being held together by a thick, heavy rope.

The girl with tied hands tried to figure out where she was by studying her surroundings, but it was too dark to tell anything except how cold and wet it was.

Brooklyn attempted to pull herself forward with her legs. She didn’t get far, but she did find out something else about the place. There was a giant pit right in front of her. She tried moving back so she could lean against the wall, but all she found was another chasm. She tried leaning to either side before figuring out she was sitting on an isolated spot in the middle of a pit.

There may have been more ground in what Brooklyn was now realizing was probably a cave. What Brooklyn did know was that she was sitting on a relatively small chunk of rock that was most likely high up.

Brooklyn decided to check how high up she was by kicking a big rock off the platform she was on. She didn’t know if she would hear it hit the ground, but she did know it always worked in the movies. Brooklyn found a big enough rock and shoved it with her feet and hoped she wouldn’t fall backward into the chasm.

She waited and waited, she counted the seconds until she finally heard a small thud echo through the pit. Sixty seconds, that’s how long it had taken, meaning the drop was over a hundred feet, though Brooklyn wasn’t entirely sure. Knowing that she was over a hundred feet in the air made Brooklyn shake with fear.

She was terrified of heights. Brooklyn began breathing heavily. She tried thinking of only good things, but all she could think of was unicorns, and Brooklyn had an irrational fear of the supernatural horse-like creatures. Brooklyn was shaking from the cold and the fear. She needed to out of here. A low growl came out of the pit. Brooklyn let out a cry. She was close to tears, but she didn’t want whatever had brought her here to remember her.

Just don’t look down.’ A voice in Brooklyn’s head said. The sound of that voice instantly calmed Brooklyn, but she wasn’t sure whose voice it was. It sounded like Finn’s voice, but not quite. It was comforting and helped Brooklyn calm down and relax.

Brooklyn listened to what the voice had said. She began taking deep breaths and stared straight ahead of her. The young girl started to stand, her legs shaking.

As soon as Brooklyn was standing completely, she heard a loud crack from across the cavern. Brooklyn stumbled in surprise and nearly fell off the platform-like rock she was standing on. She heard groaning that sounded like it was coming from a human. Brooklyn heard another crack coming from the same place, a person gasping in pain, and a loud thud and another groan.

“Brooklyn!” Someone yelled. “Are you here?”

It was Atifa. “I’m here,” Brooklyn replied when she realized who it was.

“Are you okay,” another person yelled. Brooklyn didn’t know who he was.

“Who are you?” Brooklyn asked loudly from the other side of the pit.

“A friend,” he yelled back. “The name’s Laz.”

There was another person, Brooklyn could make out a human-shaped lump under Atifa.  Brooklyn was about to ask who else was with the two Guardians, but a loud growl came out of the pit. It seemed to be getting closer and closer. Brooklyn screamed at the two older beings to hurry up. Brooklyn curled into a ball in the middle of the rock, making herself as small as possible so she wouldn’t fall off the rock and into the giant pit. Brooklyn’s ear was pressed against the rock, and she was shaking uncontrollably. She was so cold and the voices. There were voices everywhere.

They were saying things, things Brooklyn felt like she should remember, but she couldn’t recall any of them. The voices felt so familiar. Her head was pounding. She put her hands on her ears and tried to shut out the voices, but they only got louder. Brooklyn began squirming instead of shaking.

Atifa stared at Brooklyn’s small form in the middle of the cave. She could tell Brooklyn was terrified from the way Brooklyn was kicking at the ground and cradling her head in her hands. The Empathy Guardian looked at the man standing beside her and asked, “How the Hell are we going to get her over here?”

“I don’t know!” Laz yelled. “I can’t fly, can I?”

“Well, I can’t either!” Atifa rolled her eyes at Laz. “We have to get her out, she’s terrified. Can’t you tell?”

“She’s not scared.”

“What? Look at her, she’s terrified. Brooklyn’s scared of heights.” Atifa turned her head to look at Laz. There was ice in his eyes, ice, and fear. “What’s wrong?”

“When we came here, this place, it seemed so familiar. I realize now that we’re standing in the Cavern of Despair. You can hear the voices of those you’ve killed with evil intentions,” Laz explained. Atifa turned pale and looked at Brooklyn closely. What was she hearing that made her so scared. Brooklyn hadn’t killed anyone, yet.

“I don’t understand it, but she must be hearing something,” Laz said, shaking his head in confusion. “She’s lived a mundane life, but she hears the voices. You and I can’t hear them because we thankfully aren’t in the middle of the pit, where the spirits are trapped. What would want to keep Brooklyn here? I didn’t think anything but the vengeful spirits of those killed in bad blood was here.”

“We can figure that out later, right now we need to figure out how the hell we’re going to get Brooklyn over here,” Atifa scolded.

“Right.”

If only she had an escape. If she could roll over and stop hearing those voices. Brooklyn was tempted to pull herself to the edge of the rock. She wouldn’t hear the sounds of the tortured dead anymore. Brooklyn grabbed the side of the platform and began pulling herself towards the edge. It would be so simple to fall off. Such a simple escape from the voices.

Her chest was off the rock, then her torso was off, and the only thing that was keeping her on the ore was her toes.

“Brooklyn!”  Someone screamed. Another one of the voices. “Don’t do it. They’re just voices, they’ll stop as soon as we figure out how to get you back.” The person continued.

Brooklyn didn’t hear that though. Instead, she heard encouragement to throw herself off the rock that might as well have been a cliff. She heard the voice say, “Please, go. No one else needs to be killed by your worthless self.”

Then, Brooklyn was falling, but something grabbed her right ankle, and she was being pulled back up to the top of the cliff. When Brooklyn was all the up, she was facing a giant, monstrous dog.

Brooklyn’s eyes went wide with fear as the dog stood with its four, black paws surrounded her. Two on either side of her head and two beside each of her legs. Its enormous tail slapped the rock repeatedly. It was growling ferociously but stopped the moment Brooklyn began to scramble back to the sanctuary the pit would give her from the voices, instead it began to howl.

The voices stopped as soon as the dog finished its long scream. Brooklyn stopped moving and stared at the mutt. It leaned its head down, so its massive maw was right next to her ear.

“Remember who your friends are, girl,” it said. “The only reason you are here is that you needed a reminder of who your friends are.”

“What?”

“Remember, the king loves you. I will return you to the Guardians. Your wound is healed, and I have changed the others’ memories. You are the only one that will remember this. Goodbye, Queen,” the dog finished, ignoring Brooklyn’s question entirely.

Brooklyn found herself sitting in a booth in a restaurant. A plate of Caesar salad was sitting in front of her. Atifa and Laz were across from her, and another girl sat beside her. Brooklyn was confused for a minute, but then what the dog said came back to her. She was the only one that remembered their experience in the cave.

Atifa and Laz were stuffing their faces with bread, and the girl sitting next to her was sitting quietly and taking small sips of her water.

“Who’s she?” Brooklyn asked pointing to the girl next to her. Atifa gave Brooklyn a strange look.

“You mean Lyvlen, Laz’s daughter,” Atifa said, raising her eyebrow. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Brooklyn replied. She shoved a piece of lettuce in her mouth and smiled at Atifa while Lyvlen watched the young human girl closely.

Lyvlen wasn’t sure about Brooklyn, there was something off about her.

 

Bulletin Board DIYs

Craft Supplies

Bulletin boards are a great way to organize small papers and memoirs. Here are some craft ideas to add to your bulletin board:

* Painting: Using acrylic paint and a paintbrush, you can carefully add color to the cork part of the bulletin board. Use painters tape to prevent getting paint on the frame of the bulletin board.

* Decorative Tape: Spice up the edges of the bulletin board by adding washi or duct tape. Simply stretch the tape from one end of each side of the bulletin board frame to the other, and the frame will have a new pattern and color.

* Posters: If you don’t want a permanent decoration like paint, try putting a poster over the cork of the bulletin board. Secure it down with thumbtacks, and you can put all your other papers over top of it. This creates a unique and decorative background that you can easily remove if want to. Just be sure to only use a poster that you are okay with getting holes in, from the  thumbtacks that might go over it.

* Decorated Thumbtacks: Thumbtacks are pretty necessary for using a bulletin board, but there can be some pretty boring selections in stores for them. Decorate you own by buying basic thumbtacks and adding Pom poms or other small decorations onto them. Use hot glue or Mod Podge to attach them and voila, you have original and beauteous thumbtacks!