Peak book review

 

“Peak” by Roland Smith was an adventure book about a boy who tries to be the youngest person to climb Mount Everest. I thought this was more of a sad story because of the choices he makes before he climbs Mount Everest. The story was very suspenseful because you didn’t know what would happen to Peak. I think it was a good idea to include climbing jargon to educate people on unfamiliar vocabulary. This book defines the important characters’ backgrounds.  Also, I thought the map on page 1 was very useful so I could see what Mount Everest really looks like. I know this sounds a little cruel, but whenever a book talks about illness, like this book, it always makes me want to read more. I think it is amazing how a 14 year-old boy can climb skyscrapers and mountains. I am a little confused about how Peak did not have to go to juvenile detention for climbing a skyscraper. Being banished from a city is a little barbaric. I thought that the book made the climbing seem realistic and challenging. The trek up the mountain was very detailed and long, so to me that showed that the author put great effort into this book. This book was a very good book.

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Happy Death Day: Movie Review

Description: “Happy Death Day” is about a college student who is trying to be happy on her birthday. That is, until she is murdered by someone wearing a mask and black hoodie. To her surprise, she wakes up to live the day over again. She is again murdered and realizes she has to keep reliving this day until she stops whoever is doing this. Every time she dies, she becomes weaker. Therefore, she only has a limited time to figure out who her true killer is and how to live through her birthday. Will she figure out who the killer is or run out of time? Find out in the horror movie “Happy Death Day”.

Pros: “Happy Death Day” was definitely a surprise because what seemed like a standard slasher flick turned into an actual good movie. The story was great, the characters were likeable, and the ending was somewhat surprising. This movie was produced by Blumhouse Productions, one of the best when it comes to horror movies. They made movies like “Get Out” and “Paranormal Activity”, and did not disappoint with” Happy Death Day”.

Cons: This movie had some stereotypical deaths that probably could have been predicted by the girl character.

Rating: 8/10, good

Astroworld Album General Review

“Astroworld”, Houston rapper Travis Scott’s third studio album, is quite possibly the most hyped rap album of the decade, teased all the way back in May of 2016. With this hype comes some pretty great expectations and you’re probably wondering if it meets those expectations. The short answer is yes – “Astroworld” is everything I and most fans of Travis Scott were expecting. The beats are melodic and cosmic, the features all enhance the respective track they’re featured on, and of course Travis’s flow is on point.

This album is similar to Travis’s previous albums, 2015’s “Rodeo” and 2016’s “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight”. Perhaps the biggest similarity is Scott’s use of features. Scott is right up there with the likes of DJ Khaled and A$AP Rocky when it comes to pulling together hip hop artists for his projects. The album includes appearances from: Kid Cudi, Frank Ocean, Drake, The Weeknd, James Blake, Swae Lee, Gunna, Nav, 21 Savage, Quavo, Takeoff, Juice Wrld , Sheck Wes, Don Toliver and even an appearance by none other than Stevie Wonder on the harmonica. I’d say “Astroworld” is more similar to “Rodeo” than “Birds”, due to the instrumentals found throughout the album. “Birds” had much more typical trap beats, while “Astroworld” and “Rodeo” have unique, epic, almost psychodelic beats. Another reason why the beats on this are so good is because of the several instances when the beat changes mid-song. The best example of this is on the album’s opening track “Stargazing”, where I actually had to check my phone to see which song was playing, only to see it was still “Stargazing”.

So far I’ve only had good things to say about this album. That doesn’t however mean it’s perfect. The lyrics are about what you’d expect from an artist like Travis Scott. References to partying all night and how much money he has are pretty common. The album is without meaning, as the name “Astroworld” references the demolished theme park in Travis’s hometown of Houston. The story of Astroworld is actually quite heartbreaking, as Six Flags was going broke and kind of just took away the park Houston had grown to love. Scott makes multiple references to this and you can hear some roller coaster sounds as well as screams on a few tracks. For the full story of the real Astroworld, I suggest you watch the YouTube video linked here, it’s a really fascinating story and the production of the video is great. Getting back to what I disliked about the album is the fact that a few tracks at the end just aren’t as exciting as the first half. “Astrothunder”, “Can’t say”, and “Butterfly Effect” don’t really serve a purpose and seem like they were just thrown in. The inclusion of “Butterfly Effect” in particular really upsets me as it was a single realeased on May 15th of last year. It really feels more like a song on “Birds” than a song on “Astroworld”. I much would’ve preferred Travis include “Watch”, a single released in June featuring Kanye West and Lil Uzi Vert.

I was going to talk about all the songs on this album but I’ve written too much already and will do that in a separate post, which I’ll link in once both reviews have been published. “Astroworld” is out of this world, pun intended. It’s Travis Scott at the top of his game and is just enjoyable to listen to. My favorite songs on “Astroworld” are “Stargazing”, “No Bystanders”, “5% Tint” and “Wake up”.  I give “Astroworld” an 8.7 out of 10 and would recommend this to any fans of trap and hip hop.

We Are Okay — Review

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Christmas break has begun, and the students have all gone home, but Marin has chosen to spend the holiday all alone in her college dorm. Orphaned when her grandfather died last summer, Marin not only has no place to go, but isn’t sure she wants to return to the home they shared in San Francisco. Staying in New York keeps the ghosts at bay, and helps Marin keep from slipping back into the emotional abyss she fell into when she discovered her grandfather was gone.

But New York is so much colder than California, and while snow is pretty, it’s a bit much for a girl raised near beaches and sun. And now that her best friend, Mabel, has come to visit, Marin finds herself facing some tough questions. Will she stay in New York or come back to California? And, if she does return, who exactly will she be?

Told in chapters that alternate between the present and the summer prior to Marin’s coming to college, this novel explores the events leading up to her grandfather’s tragic death and the subsequent grief she chooses to navigate on her own. While Marin and her grandfather had lived together since her mother died when she was three, the two navigated in separate circles that overlapped in the shared center space of their home. Marin does not question the fact that she has never entered her grandfather’s bedroom or study, nor has he ever ventured into her rooms at the front of the house. She simply believes it is because they both like their privacy, and doesn’t think the arrangement odd until her friends question why she doesn’t even know how many bedrooms her home contains.

This separation and the revelation of several secrets Marin discovers after her grandfather dies leaves her not only grieving his death, but questioning their relationship and whether she ever even knew who her grandfather was. In addition, Marin must face the fact that she had been deeply lonely her entire life, and that she is worthy of the love and support Mabel and her family continue to offer her.

This novel, which was selected as the 2018 Printz award winner by the Young Adult Library Services Association, is a very strong novel that I would recommend to any teen reader.

The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom – Review

The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is a very entertaining twist on four fairy tale stories:  Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel. It describes the four Prince Charmings and their backstories, and how they all became, well, Prince Charming. Of course, everything has to go wrong. How else will the four princes learn how to save their kingdoms?

Christopher Healy created a world where everything about these “normal” fairy tales is lopsided, in the most hilarious ways. The princes and princesses are endearing characters who happen to mess up, well, a lot, and you can’t help but love them for it.

The main characters are:  Prince Charming, Sleeping Beauty, Prince Charming, Cinderella, Prince Charming, Snow White, Prince Charming, and Rapunzel. Or, rather: Prince Liam, Princess Briar, Prince Frederic, Ella, Prince Duncan, Princess Snow, Prince Gustav, and Rapunzel. (I suppose Ella and Rapunzel are princesses – the book changes that up a little. Makes it more fun that way!).  All of these highly impressive characters eventually run into each other and become an unlikely band of heroes, striving to set wrongs right.

I really enjoyed this book and the rest of the series. I love fairy tales with creative turns, and I have to say, this is one of the better ones. It doesn’t go much into the actual saving of the princesses, but more into the “happily ever after” that the tales never include. The series tells of the group’s subsequent adventures and their path to becoming real heroes.

The other books in the series are The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw and The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle, also by Christopher Healy.

I would give this book – probably the series – a 4.25. It was very entertaining, creative, and detailed; my only complaint is that sometimes it was a little too detailed, leaving the plot behind a little. There were just a few scenes that got a little boring. Otherwise, I loved the series, the characters, the storyline, the humor, everything!

Alto’s Odyssey

I like games that look and feel good. Crisp, artistic graphics? Intuitive controls? Either one of those would sell me on a new app, but when they’re combined, they blow other options out of the water. Alto’s Odyssey does a great job of integrating gorgeous scenery and easy controls into a genuinely fun and uncomplicated time-killer.

Alto’s Odyssey is basically a running game with snowboarding. Tapping makes your character jump, and holding down makes them do a backflip. This simple mechanic is tested by the terrain and features of the game. Alto and his friends can grind on vines and ruins, boost off of waterfalls, and slide on the sides of canyons in the desert environment of the game. Combining tricks can get you an extra boost, but if you misjudge a landing, you will lose it all. There are mischievous lemurs to avoid that will knock you off your board. And if you forget which character you’re playing, the individual strengths, weaknesses, and abilities of the six characters can trip you up. It’s not hard to remember what to do, but gameplay is just tricky enough to make achievements rewarding without making them frustrating.

This game was based on an earlier and simpler app with the same mechanics called Alto’s Adventure. That game was set in the snowy Andes, and although it had largely the same characters and moves, it lacked the new terrain and biomes that have made Alto’s Odyssey so fun for me. Odyssey sends the snowboarders from Adventure into the desert. Their snowboarding moves translate well to sliding on the sand (Sandboarding? Is that a thing?). The best part of the new game is the biomes. You can only find vines and ruins in the Temples biome. Floating hot air balloons (great for bouncing on to make combos!) appear more often in the Dunes, and canyon walls show up in, uh, the Canyons. Biomes gradually shift over a single run. The variety makes every run fun.

Characters and power-ups are perfectly balanced – just helpful enough to make them interesting and useful, but not so pricey or overpowered that they ruin the experience. Speaking of pricey, it is possible to buy in-game currency, but you earn it rapidly enough through normal gameplay that it’s not really necessary! It’s kind of refreshing.

And it’s pretty! The scenery is gorgeous and as the weather changes and the day slides into night, the shifting colors make the game feel entirely new. It can be a bit hard to see in sandstorms, though. The lighting is calm, chill, stress-free, and beautiful.

If you’re looking for a low-stress running game, this one’s probably one of the best out there – and my new favorite. 4.5 out of 5, because Nothing is Ever Perfect. 🙂

Alto’s Odyssey – iTunes, Google Play

Alto’s Adventure – iTunes, Google Play

Super Mario Bros Wii review

Super Mario Bros Wii is a fantastic game for making memories with your family. Super Mario Bros Wii has legendary multiplayer, so I would recommend playing the game with friends or family. The courses are as original as it gets, which makes Super Mario Bros U look like nothing more than a boring remake. I like the new powers in this game because they were very fun to use and they were very useful. All of the worlds are so well-made that I can’t tell which world is my favorite. This game has so many fun challenges like coin rush, free-for-all, and trying to find all of the star coins. The enemies and bosses were the best I have ever faced in Super Mario Bros.  One thing I would have liked to have seen was more levels that could be unlocked through a secret passage, because that would increase the excitement of the game even more. The atmospheres in the levels were exciting; they gave me an experience I wanted when playing this game. The bubbles used to save yourself in multiplayer is useful because you can make a mistake in a level without having to lose a life.