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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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+.

The Trials of Apollo Book Review

The Trials of Apollo by Rick Riordan

Hello readers!
My name is Rachel and in today’s blog as well as the next few I will be reviewing Rick Riordan’s spin-off series, The Trials of Apollo! This is the second post I have made about that series, so if you want to know more about the first book, please read my other post. Now I warn you there are some minor spoilers in this review to previous Rick Riordan series and a bit of the book so you should definitely read those first and note that the spoilers to the Apollo book will not be major or affect the plot at all so you’re good there.
Now to start off with a short summary. Basically Apollo is still a lovable brat and is still tied to his owner, Meg. This time he faces the evil emperor Commodus, who is arrogant, showy, has captured the second oracle and has a terrible temper. This specific character helps this plot a great deal, given that Commodus was once Apollo’s love. Apollo must fight his emotions to defeat him which had me as a reader on the edge of my seat. This is also a great example of the research and interesting information plugged into a comedic adventure. To continue, Apollo, Meg, and our old friends CALYPSO and LEO (#teamleo) must travel to the Waystation, a safe house near where the second oracle is located. The couple in the station help them find the oracle and also help them try to defeat Commodus. Can I just say couple goals? These characters also knew Apollo, which means they provide insight to Apollo’s life previously and allows for some tension in the team of heroes. This book also further enhances Apollo’s view of Earth as, not a place to take for granted, but also not a place to pity. As he is introduced to more suffering, he learns how to deal just like all the heroes, and so he learns humility. Now let’s talk about the cleverness of the Waystation. Rick Riordan introduces something new, yet oddly familiar. Why is it familiar? Because it is basically a war fortress that is alive. What else have we been introduced to like that? Both Festus (happy the dragon) and the Labyrinth were war machines that were, according to their owners, alive. This connection gives us a territory that we are familiar with, a whole new light. Lastly, and almost most importantly, Rick Riordan shows us a new heroic side to Apollo, as he is faced with death and the death of his friends. (which also gives us great suspense).
To sign off, I would like to say that this series is amazing, as I have said in my previous blog, and that reading it will increase your knowledge of mythology and make you want the next book more than ever. If the Greek series interests you then you should check out the Kane Chronicles and the Magnus Chase books, also written by Rick Riordan. I am going to continue to review this series in further blogs. Thanks for reading, Rachel.

Part 1: Summary – “A Cold Legacy”

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“A Cold Legacy” is the third novel of “The Madman’s Daugher” series, by Megan Shepherd. Published by HarperCollinsPublishers, it is a young adult science fiction novel.

The events in this novel take place during the Victorian Era, in Scotland, once Juliet and her cohorts have left London due to the murder they committed.

Juliet and her best friend Lucy found out that their fathers had been corresponding for years, even after Juliet’s father, Dr. Moreau, escaped London after a scandal. He was thought to be dead at this point; instead, however, he was on an island, conducting revolutionary experiments by creating human-like creatures through the process of vivisection (dissection on live creatures, without the use of anesthesia). He was connecting organs from various animals and was preventing rejection by inserting tissue in the form of a serum. In the first novel of the series, called “The Madman’s Daughter”, the author reveals that Juliet was actually his first experiment. When she was little, doctors said that she was going to die due to a spinal cord deformation. Her mother had desperately asked him to do anything to keep her alive. For that reason, he implanted deer parts to replace her problematic ones. Therefore, she, too, has to take the serum in order to survive.

After people learned about Moreau’s experiments, the family’s fortune had been taken away, leaving them penniless. With her mother dead and believing her father was also, Juliet was left on the streets; Dr. Moreau, however, was living on an island where all residents were products of his experiments, except from his assistant, Montgomery.  All that time, Dr. Moreau and Mr. Radcliffe, Lucy’s father, an investor, were sending letters to each other regarding the experiments. Radcliffe would send large amounts of money for scientific equipment, and Moreau would conduct the experiments.

Moreau had come up with a new idea to perfect his creatures—to use human blood in order to turn an animal into a human. The only outcome of that procedure was Edward. When Montgomery was ill, Moreau drew blood from him for “blood tests”. Instead, he used that blood on Edward. However, due to Montgomery’s illness, the blood which he injected Edward with was infected with malaria. That, in addition to the rabies-infected jackal organs that he had used to create Edward, caused an anomaly in the posterior lobe of the brain. That created another personality within Edward—two creatures in one body. Edward himself was a nice, kind person. However, the “Beast”, or what the characters refer to as his second half, is far from nice. When Edward turns into the Beast, he changes entirely—both mentally and physically. In a matter of seconds, he gets taller and bigger, grows six-inch-long claws, a cruel personality, a deep voice, and frightening yellow eyes. Though Juliet hates the Beast, she can’t help admiring him at the same time. She is jealous of his freedom, and even though she doesn’t want to admit it, she knows that both of them have a lot in common.

After her father really dies, three men—Dr. Hastings, Scotland Yard Inspector John Newcastle, and Mr. Radcliffe—try to steal his research. Since the Beast is so powerful, they want to use Moreau’s notes to create an army of similar creatures and ship them to France. Juliet and Montgomery know that this is a terrible idea. If just one of the creatures was able to create such havoc, they can’t even begin to imagine what a whole army of them could and would do.

“What darkness began, only madness can end.”

 

Stick Fight: The Game Review

Stick Fight: The Game is a 2-4 player PvP-only fighting game with thousands of players. You and your opponents play as stick figures who battle it out on very interactive stages. With many different weapons and stages, there is no end to the fun that this game brings. Boasting an 89% recommendation rate on Steam with over 17,000 reviewers, it is shown that the community loves this cartoon-like fighting game containing infinite possibilities.

Stick Fight: The Game was published by Landfall and later released on Steam on September 28, 2017. It is currently $4.99, and solely multiplayer. However, to make up for the lack of a single-player mode, it is possible to play both locally and online, or even both at once. You can join friends who invite you, or you can host a game yourself. There is also an option to let anyone in, so you can play with both your friends and random people at the same time. As the game supports 2-4 players, you don’t need to wait for other people: you can start a game once you get at least one other person to join. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter if someone doesn’t connect in time, because they can join in the middle of a match. The host of the lobby is able to control certain aspects of the game, such as the frequency and type of weapon spawns, the health of all players, and the next stage. There are also general settings that anyone can change, since it only affects the computer of the person that changes it. These include settings that control graphics, sound, and other game-specific options.

 

Stick Fight: The Game has many stage packs, and each of them have their own unique style and mechanics.

The laser pack, as its title suggests, contains a lot of lasers that can move, spin, and turn on and off, and do heavy damage to players on contact. This pack also contains platforms that tilt based on the position of players, so a good strategy is to tilt platforms that have lasers attached to them to try to hit your opponents with the beam. The overall feel of these levels is very futuristic.

The ice pack contains stages that have both normal and icy platforms. The ice platforms can be broken by weapons, causing anyone standing on the platform to fall if they don’t react fast enough. One stage in particular is great for 1v1s, because it spawns both players on opposite sides of the map, and the easiest way to be victorious is to shoot and destroy the platform below the other player, as it is impossible to jump to the other player’s platform.

The western pack includes a more western-like feel with barrels that explode, countless snakes (which trap and continuously hurt you), a sandy background, and wooden buildings. There is even a stage where exploding barrels fall from the sky, causing players to have to worry about getting cornered into an explosion while fighting.

The special Halloween pack, which was recently introduced, consists of platforms that appear and disappear, a dark and dreary background, and stages that contain powerups. These powerups trigger what is basically a boss battle between the collector of the powerup and everyone else playing, and the “boss” is able to use special attacks that nobody else can use.

 

There are two main types of weapons: ranged and melee. Ranged weapons, which include pistols, shotguns, SMGs, machine guns, and game-specific guns, like the black hole gun, are normally used more than melee weapons, since the latter is only effective when you are close to the other player. However, unlike the spear or katana, which have this flaw, there is a knife that allows you to teleport a short distance in the direction of where you click, damaging whatever you pass by. This allows you to virtually fly around the stage while attacking everyone, since there is little to no cooldown between teleports.

 

Overall, Stick Fight: The Game is very fun and creative, and it is always a blast when I play it with my friends.

I Am Still Alive – Review

 

Lost in the wilderness of Canada, alone, and injured, will Jess be able to survive?

Sixteen-year-old Jess hasn’t seen her father in ten years. She’s just been through a tragic car accident that killed her mother and left Jess with months of physical therapy and a permanent disability, and all she wants is to make it through the next two years and graduate from high school. When she hears that she’ll have to move to the wilderness and live with her father for those years, her only goal becomes escaping or convincing him to let her leave.

Her dad lives in the remote wilderness of Canada, above Alaska—so removed from civilization that Jess is the only passenger on the tiny plane she takes to get there. She begrudgingly starts to rebuild a relationship with her survivalist father, but soon after she arrives some “friends” from his past show up and wreak havoc. Lost, alone, and separated from everyone and everything she’s ever known, Jess—along with her one ally, her father’s dog Bo—must fight to survive the winter.

I Am Still Alive alternates between “Before” and “After” sections, which ramp up the suspense and dole out backstory slowly enough to keep readers intrigued. Jess is a relatable heroine, terrified and with almost no experiences in the outdoors besides the few weeks of lessons her dad was able to give her. It’s incredibly satisfying to see her struggle, fight, and hold her own (sometimes!) against the elements and the cruel winter weather. Even simple things, like finding firewood or something to eat, become life-or-death scenarios, and her experiences definitely put our relatively comfortable lives into perspective!

This novel is an action-packed wilderness survival story, with an added element of family struggles and adjusting to life with a disability. I would highly recommend it for older YA readers, due to its serious themes and intense subject matter.