Monday, March 30, 2015

When by Victoria Laurie


Maddie Fynn is a shy high school junior, cursed with an eerie intuitive ability: she sees a series of unique digits hovering above the foreheads of each person she encounters. Her earliest memories are marked by these numbers, but it takes her father’s premature death for Maddie and her family to realize that these mysterious digits are actually death dates, and just like birthdays, everyone has one.

Forced by her alcoholic mother to use her ability to make extra money, Maddie identifies the quickly approaching death date of one client's young son, but because her ability only allows her to see the when and not the how, she’s unable to offer any more insight. When the boy goes missing on that exact date, law enforcement turns to Maddie.
Soon, Maddie is entangled in a homicide investigation, and more young people disappear and are later found murdered. A suspect for the investigation, a target for the murderer, and attracting the attentions of a mysterious young admirer who may be connected to it all, Maddie's whole existence is about to be turned upside down. Can she right things before it's too late?

Picture and synopsis from

Overall Summary:
   Death note anyone? I liked this book. It is easy to understand, but still entertaining. Although not all of the characters felt all that developed, most of them where. There are some darker themes in this book, such as drug abuse, but it would still be reasonable for, say a middle school student. Now, I'm a highschool student and I still found this read good.
   As I said before, seeing death dates isn't that original of an idea. (Minor Death Note spoiler) For example, it has been done in the anime, Death Note, where one of the characters had the ability to see the name and death date of everyone. It was the first book I read with the concept though. I know there is more, but I haven't read them. The idea could have been developed on. There could have been a little bit more to her ability to make it unique and different from other's ability to see death dates. Maybe a person who had a different ability could have been thrown in to make the book a little more twisty.
  Reading through Maddie's point of view felt refreshing, because of her honesty. This book does contain some romance, but it is not the main focus. If you're looking for a romance novel about teen love this won't be something you are going to reading any time soon. I didn't really mind though. Not every book has to have a punch of romance in it. The ending was also surprising to me, but, of course I won't spoil it. In the end, if you want an easy read this would be a good book to pick up.

Spoilers ahead!! Don't read beyond this point if you don't want to be spoiled!!

 The murder of Tevin and the other victims was interesting. I thought I knew where the plot was going throughout the whole book and I was pleasantly surprised when my predictions weren't right. I didn't expect Payton to be murdered and Stubby to become a suspect. I would have liked it if the story followed stubby a little bit more. I wanted to know what happened in prison and I think it would have been good character development. I also didn't really understand why Stubby suddenly reverted back to his old self when he was in prison for a while. He hit a couple bumps in the road, but his transition back into regular life was unnaturally smooth. Maddie's mother's transition to drug addict to normal person was also a little ishy, but it's understandable that her transition was cut short because the book was close to ending. The ending itself did surprise me.
  I was, however expecting people's death dates to change. I would have been more surprised if it couldn't. There is a slight plot hole to his idea though. If Maddie can change people's death date by telling them about it or rescuing them from it, isn't it possible that she changed the death dates of some of her clients without knowing it? Her record as a reliable death day teller would go bad if someone didn't die when she predicted it. Imagine if they went out and spent all of their money because they thought they were going to die anyway. But anyways nothing is set in stone and (as like my favorite character would like to say), "Anything can change." For these reasons, I would give the plot a 8.

   The good side: she is honest; the bad side: she cries a lot. I can't really hold the crying part against her though. If I were a suspect in a murder and my mom was severely messed up, I would probably cry a lot, too. I liked her honestly though. We see a lot of characters that lie, do that the story takes a dramatic turn or it takes a toll on the main character's view of his or herself. Reading through an eyes of a honest character feels refreshing. When the other characters don't believe Maddie and you know that she is being honest even if it hurts, makes you really feel bad for the character. Other than honesty, she didn't have much going for her; not counting the seeing death dates thing. There was nothing that new: a shy, nice girl who doesn't have that many friends. The sides characters were good as well.
  I liked Aiden, Agent Faraday, Donny and all those characters as well. I liked Donny's determination and love for his niece, but I didn't always support the decisions he made when it came to how to deal with Maddie's living location. Agent Farady confused me a bit. I don't know what made him seem more open than the other Agent Watson. He was nicer though. The only character I didn't really like was Maddie's Mom.
   She was a bad parent, because of her drug addiction and the large amount of trauma she suffered after her husband died. The author did a good job of making her unlikable. There were places where there could have been more character development for her. When Maddie went to visit her in the hospital, her mom tells her to go away. I think it would have been good if her another eventually explained to Maddie why she turned her away. Maybe she didn't want Maddie to see her like how she was.
    The relationship between Maddie and Aiden wasn't really anything romantic. (In an odd way) The lack of relationship felt real, actually. Not every teen has the confidence to go up and talk to the guy or girl they have a crush on especially if they're shy. There wasn't a lot of chemistry between the pair though. For these reasons, I would give the characters a 8.5.

  At the end of the book, I was basically screaming it's Wes, it's Wes! He is the murderer! Boy, was I surprised. I didn't expect it to be the nice man Rick. The author did a good job of leading the audience away from the idea that Rick could be one of the culprits. Instead, she inserted Wes, who seemed like an obvious culprit. It was so obvious that it annoyed me (because I thought that he was the murderer). I wasn't expecting a surprise at the end and I expected to be pretty bored with the ending.
  Although the ending was surprising, I think the author could have dropped more hints throughout the story. I like it when there is some kind of plot twist in mystery novels, but the hints to reveal the real culprit is still there. It's like connecting the dots and maybe missing one dot then finding that you missed it at the end of a story. Doing a face palm feels nice every once in a while. The end of the book was a fairytale ending. My brain can't really decide if that's a bad thing or a good thing. On one hand, I'm happy that Maddie's life is going to be great and she'll have a happy life with Aiden. On the other hand, it would have felt more satisfying and realistic if the ending was a little less perfect. For these reasons, I give the conclusion a 9.
Overall Rating: 8.5

- Kalee

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Angel Experiment by James Patterson


From the bestselling author James Patterson comes the stunning, breathtaking start to the blockbuster series! Six unforgettable kids — with no families, no homes — are running for their lives. Max Ride and her best friends have the ability to fly. And that's just the beginning of their amazing powers. But they don't know where they come from, who's hunting them, why they are different from all other humans... and if they're meant to save mankind — or destroy it.

Source for image and synopsis:

Kalee’s Review

I am a winged creature, mwahahahahahaha. That’s basically what this book is about. Despite the way I just made it sound, it was good. Really good. This was probably one of the first sci-fi books I’ve ever read and it blew me away. I really loved the concept of a band of winged creature, but now that I think about it more, the idea isn’t that original. The way Patterson set up the characters and setting really made the book. It’s not about mutant teenagers in some kind of ruined world, it’s about winged teenagers living in this day and age. They face problems like wanting to normal or living just to conceal their existence to protect themselves from the “School”. Each character has an unique personality and point of view. It makes for some very interesting scenes and makes decision making tough.
Although some characters seemed less developed than others, I loved all (okay, most) characters in this book. They had different backstories that worked in different ways in the story. Max(imum), is the main female protagonist. She is like the “mother bird” of the flock. She takes care of all of the others, who are Fang, Iggy, Angel and Gazzy. I like them all except Angel, but I will not go into detail about due to spoilers. I enjoyed reading from Max’s point of view, because (let’s face it) didn’t we all want to have wings at one point in our lives? Just as a character, Max is interesting to read about.
The other members of the flock were just as great as the main protagonist. Fang is the love interest in this book. He’s the kind of character that you want to learn more about, but because of his personality he doesn’t really reveal much. Once again, the other characters were great, too and it would take too much time to explain every detail of their greatness. You should definitely give this book a peak.

JC’s Review

So I read this book in . . . fifth grade? And despite my young age, I really liked it. Even as I grew older, I still loved the series, and I could read it and reread it over and over again. It’s exciting, it’s funny, and it has a really interesting concept: kids with wings.
Max was, and still is, one of my favorite book heroines. She’s totally tough, but she still cares about the other kids in her “flock.” The one thing that I didn’t like about this book was that I thought she could be almost . . . too sarcastic sometimes. Though that could just be me.
I would recommend this to people who like exciting books. The action doesn’t stop in this novel, and I was totally impressed at how Patterson managed to keep my attention throughout the whole book! I loved the characters, the plot, the writing--everything, basically. And I loved how original the idea was, too--I mean, kids who had been genetically mutated to have wings? It’s nothing like anything else that I’d read before.
I love shapeshifters--if you’d read my Nightshade review, you probably read my whole rant about shapeshifters and werewolves and blah, blah, blah--so this topic is really, really interesting to me. Lots of animals have many advantages that we don’t, so I think it’s super cool when people write about kids who have those advantages, too (not to sound like a total freak or anything, but honestly).
There’s something for everybody in this book--there’s action, and emotion, and even a little bit of romance between two of my favorite characters. I would definitely recommend it.

This next part’s for those of you who enjoyed our review and would like to know more about the book. Warning: *SPOILER ALERT!*

The Plot

Kalee: The main plot of this book was to get Angel back from the “School”. I thought this plot was pretty original. What do you think?
JC:  I thought so, too. The whole idea of the kids having wings was pretty awesome, too, don’t you think?
Kalee: I thought it was cool, when I first read it, but now I noticed that putting wings on creatures was pretty common. Patterson did give them other powers later though. I felt the powers made the characters a little overpowered, but not all the characters utilized their ability.
JC: I think that putting wings on people kind of goes along with that popular angel theme (Haha, angel, Angel. I just noticed that. Oh, the irony. Good job, Patterson.). But since this book was first published in 2005, I think that we can cut him some slack on the whole originality thing. Angels weren’t a popular theme for books then, were they? At least, not as much as they are now.
Kalee: I was thinking more Greek mythology, but other than that I guess not.
JC: Right. Did they put wings on people in Greek mythology? Well, Daedalus and his son, I guess.
Kalee: Kid Icarus, haha. (Ignore me) Anyways, did the reason why Angel got kidnapped seem clear to you?
JC: Um, because she’s supposedly more powerful? And . . . I think their experiments were failing, weren’t they? Like with the Erasers.
Kalee: I can’t really remember. I guess they wanted to learn more about her, but the reason why the”School” did experiments in first place wasn’t clear. Their excuse could be: it’s in the name of science.
JC: Because they’re evil masterminds, dude. OBVIOUSLY. No, but seriously, yeah, I think that’s why . . . the name of science thing. They’re craaazy. Craaazy geniuses. So what would you give the plot? I would give an 8.5 out of 10.
Kalee: I would give it the same.

The Characters

Kalee: I like Max, bro.
JC: Me, too, man. She was totally righteous, you know what I’m sayin’?
Kalee: I hear ya, dude.
JC: Peace, man. And happiness, and love, and . . . okay, I’m done. Max was cool, though, seriously. She was very . . . superhero-y.
Kalee: She is a strong female protagonist that doesn’t need a guy to rescue her. She had her fair share of problems, but she still remained a likeable character. A lot of the time, I end up not liking female protagonist, where it seems likes the writer(s) are trying to shove her awesomeness in your face.
JC: Her whole personality wasn’t too original--strong, sarcastic, kind of closed-off but really caring and loving on the inside. But I didn’t mind that--well, the first time I read this, I didn’t mind because I hadn’t read too many books with this kind of character, but even now, I don’t mind. I like reading about these characters. What’d you think of the other characters, like Jeb and Fang? Or even Ari?
Kalee: I felt the strong urge to punch Jeb throughout the whole book. He had that whole, just trust me, even though I did all these horrible things. Fang was doom and gloom in the coolest way possible.
JC: Yes! Fang was totally cool, and I really wanted him to end up with Max. I felt really bad for Ari--mostly because he’s actually super duper young. And as for Jeb . . . oh, Jeb. I thought that he was just such a . . . argh. Just . . . no, Jeb.
Kalee: What do you think of Gazzy? He seemed like the least developed character. There were a lot of good characters in this book and he didn’t seem to fit in, because of his lack of … well, character. He was overshadowed.
JC: HE WAS SO GASSY. AND I LOVED IT. But Nudge was pretty underdeveloped, too, wasn’tshe? A lot of them were, actually. Even Iggy wasn’t the most interesting character.
Kalee: I think Iggy was wasted opportunity. He could have been a really amazing and I wish his character was more developed. The question, “What if Iggy ended up with Max?” could have given the story a big WHAT factor.
JC: HOLY FUDGEBALLS. Now that, you little Border Kalee, is an amazing idea. We need to go find James Patterson, pound on his door, and share this extraordinary concept with him. Seriously.
Kalee: What did you think of Angel? I found her kind of annoying. She always got her way and seemed pretty spoiled. I wanted somebody to give her a talking to.
JC: Like a know-it-all? Well, Kalee, she kind of does know it all. And she’s, like, six! Of course they’re going to spoil her. I bet that you wouldn’t have minded if she was spoiled if she actually acted her age. Instead, she seemed a lot older than she actually is, and maybe that’s why you think she seems spoiled. In my opinion, though, she shouldn’t have to be so wise and mature all the time. I think she’s allowed to be spoiled sometimes because she acts so old at other times.
Kalee: What would you give the characters? I say a 8.5
JC: I’ll give another 8.5.

The Conclusion

Kalee: The conclusion was pretty predictable. They rescued Angel. Then they flew off into the sunset, literally.
JC: I thought it was fairly predictable, too, but the way they did it was kind of interesting. I thought that Jeb’s whole “You killed your own brother” thing was great for building suspense for the next book. It kind of seemed to come out of nowhere, though. There was no real hinting at it or anything throughout the book; it just seemed kind of random to me.
Kalee: “JC YOU KILLED YOUR BROTHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
JC: Well, that was random. See? Comes out of nowhere.
Kalee: Eggsactely
JC: What? What do eggs have to--ohh, Eggheads. Got it. I’m such an egghead, right?! So much so that I can’t even figure out a pun about our own name! GENIUS! (P.S. Sorry for all the fooling around in this review. We’re a little excited today.)
Kalee: Back on topic. Max and company broke into the school and fought their way back out.
JC: Great. Cliche. Exciting, though. Rating?
Kalee: Was that sarcasm, hmmm? I’d give it an 8.5.
JC: Mm, I’d give an 8.3. Adios, readers.

Overall Rating: 8.47 out of 10

P.S. For those of you who've read the Maximum Ride series . . . What do you guys think of James Patterson adding another book to the series (Maximum Ride Forever) even though he claimed it was already finished? We were just wondering, since some people are excited about it, and some people are suuuuper mad. Okay, thanks! Bye again!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Hate List by Jennifer Brown



Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

Source for image and synopsis:

Kalee’s Review

    I had intended to read this book for a while, but didn’t get around to borrowing it from JC until this summer. The Hate List is a book that deals with a very real problem: school shootings. The concepts of this book is rather dark, and it’s not the type of book you should be reading if you want something to brighten your day. Despite it’s seriousness, I enjoyed this book.
    One thing I liked about this book was how the author handled the school shooting itself and the aftermath. I really like the way the author told the story bit by bit, which really kept me interested in the story. Originally, I didn’t plan on actually reading this book (I had plans to skim it, because I didn’t want to left out on the action), but Brown’s way of spinning the tale urged me to keep on reading. The characters in the story all felt real as well and I was curious to see how each character would react to the shooting.
    Brown did a good job of adding layer onto every character. Each character was well written out and thought differently. Valerie, the main character had many sides to her as well. (She had good character development; Wooo! Character development). The shooter, Nick was also a fun character to read about and I enjoyed learning about him. Valerie’s current and old friends were very well written as well. Their personalities were all unique and they all helped to push the story along. The ending was also well done as well, but I won’t spoil it… unless you want me to. Overall, I think this book is a worth a read!

JC’s Review

    So I read this book a while ago, and it’s still my all-time favorite. I seriously just need to get this out: I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK. It inspires such an amazing mixture of sadness and hope, and I really did love it.
    I thought that Brown did a really great job with such a heavy topic. She was able to portray Valerie as an honestly good person without downplaying the mistakes that Valerie has made. It kind of left me with a better understanding of that whole “everybody makes mistakes” thing. And as for Nick--oh, Nick. I had seriously mixed feelings about him. I wanted to look at him as the bad guy because of the awful thing that he did. But after learning about the way that his classmates treated him, and how truly Valerie loved him? I wanted to dislike him, I really did. But I just ended up feeling really bad for him.
    There honestly wasn’t that much that I didn’t like about this book, though I did get kind of anxious in the beginning because it took so long for the reader to find out the details of what had happened. But really, that was pretty much the only thing that I didn’t like about the book.
    The characters were incredibly dynamic--the “good” characters weren’t always good, and the “bad” characters weren’t all bad, either. I think that this was about the best book that I’d ever read, and I seriously recommend it--and Jennifer Brown’s other books, as well.

This next part is for people who liked the review (or trollers) and goes into more detail on the book. But warning: *SPOILER ALERT*

The Plot

Kalee: The basic plot of this book was Valerie coping with the consequences of her boyfriend’s (and her own) actions. Throughout the book, she has many social problems and has to learn how to deal with them. I thought the the plot of the book made sense.
JC: I thought that the plot was pretty original, too. Though my mom says that it’s kind of like Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. But I’ve never read it.
Kalee: By reading the synopsis, I agree with your Mom when she says it’s similar. The overall feel of this book was pretty dark. Do you think so, too?
JC: Yeah, but I think that Brown did a really good job with it. It was sad, but it was also kind of . . . I don’t know--hopeful? Because although it tore a lot of families and friendships apart, it kind of brought people together, too. People like Jessica and Valerie? I don’t know.
Kalee: I did have that hopeful feel to it, but I felt pretty depressed reading the book most of the time.
JC: Yeah, it was mostly sad . . . but I thought that the fact that the book could inspire such a strong feeling shows how powerful the story and the writing is. But I don’t know . . . I just like books that can make you feel things.
Kalee: Sad, is not an original feel to the book though. The feeling I got from this book wasn’t nothing too new or extraordinarily different than books I have read before. It did give me the “feels” though.  
JC: What, exactly, would you consider an “original” feeling, then?
Kalee: … It’s hard to explain. I kind of knew where the book was headed the whole time, and wasn’t SURPRISED by anything she did or anything that happened. I guess it was just lacking that surprise factor and I have a hard time reading books, when it’s pretty easy to predict how it will end.
JC: Honestly, I kind of agree, but I don’t think that the lack of “surprise” or whatever took away from how good the book was. The purpose of the story wasn’t to surprise or shock you; I think it was more to explore the outcome of an event like the one that happened in the book and to imagine what someone like Valerie, who was so close to the shooter, would feel. It’s supposed to be realistic and raw, not shocking. And I think that the author really succeeded in that.
Kalee: I would give the plot a …. ni--...8.8 out of 10. Not quite a 9, yet.
JC: I give a 9.5! Yayyy! Okay . . . onward!

The Characters

Kalee: Like I said during my review, I really liked the characters in this book. They each were well developed and made rational decisions. Each character had a different opinion and I was sad when something bad happened to the side characters.
JC: Yeah, I kind of mentioned in my review, too, how I liked that there wasn’t just one side of any characters that was portrayed. Valerie wasn’t perfect, but she had a good heart. Even Nick seemed more . . . misunderstood and . . . desperate . . . more than really mean or bad.
Kalee: I was really interested in learning more about Nick and his relationship with Valerie. I really wanted to see what propelled a person to make such a rash decision.
JC: Yeah, I agree that it would have been interesting to learn more about Nick. The little glimpses into his life kind of helped me to understand what caused him to act so extremely. I don’t think I’ll ever totally get it, but I at least understood why he felt so desperate. What did you think of the other characters? Jessica? Frankie?
Kalee: I liked Jessica and Frankie, but I liked Frankie more. Jessica was the kind of character that showed that there are two sides to a person. She started off as that classical, popular girl. It made a lot of sense to me that she felt that she should be nice to Valerie, because of the whole saving her life and all. Frankie was awesome. Frankie was a great little brother and I loved how he was so supportive. He had his fair share of ups-and-downs as well.
JC: I really liked that Valerie had people that she could count on, when so many other people blamed and hated her for Nick’s actions. Frankie was great, and I thought that he dealt with what happened to his sister really well. He understood that she never meant for anything bad to happen, and he kind of seemed like he wanted to protect her even though he was the little brother. I really liked Jessica, too, because she was another character who had lots of dimension and who didn’t blame Valerie for anything that happened.
Kalee: I would give the characters in this book a 9.5 out of 10.
JC: I would give the same. :)

The Conclusion

Kalee: The conclusion seemed sort of obvious to me. Either she would kill herself or do something to make up for actions. The book was pointing towards the later option, because what lesson can be taught when the character doesn’t set the right example in the end?
JC: You’re so brutal. I kind of knew that she would eventually learn to forgive herself, but that’s the whole point of the book, isn’t it? To show you that people make mistakes and that it’s okay to mourn and feel guilty, but there comes a time when it’s finally okay to forgive yourself. I really liked the ending because it’s hopeful, and not totally closed, so it leaves you with the feeling that anything could happen from there.
Kalee: The ending did feel sort of realistic in a way. Everything wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine, with Valerie walking into the sunset. It was a hopeful ending, but you could tell that her happy ending was fragile.
JC: Yeah, because that’s kind of how it is, right? One chapter closes, and the next one comes right after? She’s obviously going to have some difficulties, and she’s not totally over what has happened, but you can feel that she really is getting better. What’s your rating? I’d give another 9.5, I think.
Kalee: Me, too!!

Overall Rating: 9.38 out of 10

Thanks, guys,
JC and Kalee

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Last Knight by Hilari Bell


Need a Hero?

You've got one in Sir Michael Sevenson.

Although there hasn't been a knight errant in over two hundred years, this young noble has decided to revive the trade. He's found himself a reluctant partner in Fisk, a clever rogue who has been given the choice of serving as Michael's squire or going to jail for a very long time. Now Michael and Fisk are on a quest to right wrongs, protect the innocent, and make the world a happier place.

It's not going to be easy. On their first attempt at rescuing a damsel in distress, they break a lady out of a tower, only to discover she was there for good reason: awaiting trial for poisoning her husband. Now the would-be heroes must find Lady Ceciel and return her to justice or be condemned themselves.


Overall review:  
    (This book was published in 2007) During this past spring break, I have found the oh, so glorious fantasy label. Of course, I realized that it existed before, but I didn’t know the books that were labeled as fantasy contained stuff about prince, and princesses, dragons and all that fun stuff. It’s what I’m mostly interested in reading now, because of one of the stories that I’m writing. Blech, I’m doing it again; bad, Kalee stop talking about yourself. Time to fly over to the actual review.
        This book had me laughing at the start. I love both Fisk and Sir Michael just as much! Fisk is a wise-cracking, 17 year old from the streets and Sir Michael is a wannabe hero, who is a noble. Usually I end up hating one of the narrators and just skip over the section that is being narrated by my least preferred narrator. I love the way you can tell the difference between Fisk and Sir Michael when they’re narrating the story. The way they talk about each other is always quite amusing to me. They also have a really good developed relationship. The relationship between Fisk and Sir Michael was quite refreshing to read. Instead of a romance, it was a development of a friendship. The way their relationship progresses is smooth and seems real.
        The plot was straight forward and easy to understand. It can be read by younger readers and old readers. It's not a super suspenseful story or anything of the sort but I really wanted to see what would happen at the end. It is an easy book to understand and you don't really have to try hard to figure out what is going on.
         The story progresses nicely and the plot is easy enough to understand. The sarcasm of the characters made the book really enjoyable to read. Overall, I think you should give this book a peak.

Warning this next section contains spoilers:

    The plot of this book is easy to understand: Sir Michael have to go and recapture Lady Ceciel. They helped her escape at first because they thought she was a damsel stuck in a tower. In order to redeem himself to his Father, Sir Michael has to go and retrieve Lady Ceciel. Fisk, Sir Michael's "squire" is unwillingly dragged along for the ride. The simplicity does have its drawbacks as well. Simple plots can get a little boring and predictable, and (in television shows) have a lot of filler. The side problems that the pair face are rather interesting, but there's nothing that's extremely original. Magic plays a role in this book, too.
  Normally, I'm turned off from a book, when the author throws magic in, when it doesn't seem necessary. But I didn't mind magic (or as the author calls it, magica) in this book. It did add nicely to the story and the Lady Ceciel's motivation was made more unique because of magic. The rode to the conclusion was slow.
    A lot of the time it seemed like our protagonist were taking two steps back every time they took one forward. A lot of the steps they took didn’t really seem like it was  related to the story, but most of the extra steps in their journey wasn’t planned, like getting kidnapped by pirates. But other than it’s slow progression, the plot was good; it wasn’t perfect but it was good. I give the plot an 8.5 out of 10.

    I really like both Fisk and Michael. Fisk previously lived on the streets. When Fisk was unable to pay for his crimes, the valiant Sir Michael stepped in and paid for him. Fisk is super funny and sarcastic. He is quite blunt most of the time and it is obvious what he think of his employer. Fisk is the sort of character that seems uncaring, but really does care. The “uncaring” sort of character is not something that unique, but his personality works well in the story. I can’t really think of another character personality that would work well in this context though. His relationship with Sir Michael is just as great as the characters.
    I find stories that build on friendships rather than lovey-dovey sort of relationships. It is something we are lacking in today’s literature. Anyway, more about Sir Michael. I like how the author gives Fisk and Sir Michael different voices, when they’re narrating. Sir Michael speaks in a more educated tongue, and he uses fancy word like ‘Twas. Fisk uses a more common sort of speech similar to the speech we use in everyday life. (Errr, does that make me not educated?) Anyway, I like Sir Michael’s character.
    He is a noble who had things done for him most of his life. To me, his character really matched his background. If Sir Michael hadn’t worked odd jobs before the main story started, he wouldn’t have been that capable. He gets hurt or in trouble a good amount of times more than he helps. But usually he gets in trouble for reasons that fit his character (if that makes any sense at all). The villain could have been better though, and for that reason I give the characters a 9.

    What to say about this conclusion? It ended differently than I thought it would. I originally thought that in the end, Sir Michael would find a way to bring back Lady Ceciel and redeem himself to his Father. Regardless to say, he didn’t do that; he let her go. I can’t say the ending was bad, because it was still unexpected, but it wasn’t anything spectacular either The ending did (once again) seem to fit the personality of the main character though. For these reasons I give the conclusion a 8.5.
Overall rating: 8.67 out of 10
Have a good day!
I apologize for the stinky review :’)


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Chain Letter and The Ancient Evil by Christopher Pike




Chain Letter
When Alison first read the chain letter signed "Your Caretaker," she thought it was some terrible sick joke. Someone, somewhere knew about that awful night when she and six other friends committed an unthinkable crime in the desolate California desert. And now that person was determined to make them pay for it.One by one, the chain letter was coming to each of them ... demanding dangerous, impossible deeds... threatening violence if the demands were not met. No one out of the seven wanted to believe that this nightmare was really happening to them. Until the accidents started happening -- and the dying...

The Ancient Evil
After receiving a chain letter, a group of teens decides it must be a joke--after all, the perpetrator of the original chain letter is dead and buried. But when Fran refuses to perform her "deed", she is almost immediately killed, and the group realizes that the power behind the letters is still alive.
Source for images and synopses:

Overall Review:

    These books weren’t really my cup of tea. I read Chain Letter before I watched “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” but now that I’ve both read this book and watched the movie, I’d be surprised if Chain Letter wasn’t based on “I Know What You Did Last Summer” at least a little bit. To me, the characters weren’t likeable, the plot didn’t really draw me in, and overall, I thought that the whole book was kind of impersonal. It didn’t really make me feel anything, and a book that doesn’t make me feel anything is, to me, an ineffective book. Chain Letter did have a little bit of a creep factor, I admit. But I couldn’t bring myself to really care about the characters, and I couldn’t really tell if they even cared about each other that much.
    The Ancient Evil was even worse. No offense, Christopher Pike, but seriously? The ending was just ridiculous and totally out of the blue, and the characters, though some darker stuff happened to them, were just as unlikeable and impersonal. It sounds horrible, but I almost felt like I didn’t care whether or not they died--I kind of just got that feeling that I would get if a stranger died. You know, that “Oh, that must be so awful for their family” feeling? It’s not like the events in The Ancient Evil had absolutely no impact on me, but it’s not like I was incredible affected by it, either. I couldn’t bring myself to care about the characters, and that, to me, was the main problem with this book.

Read on for a more detailed review of the book. WARNING: *SPOILER ALERT!*

The Plot

    There were a few things that I liked about the plot in Chain Letter. I thought it lacked originality due to its uncanny resemblance to “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” but the perpetrator of the chain letter was surprising, yet not so ridiculous that it was hard to believe. However, in The Ancient Evil, I thought that the plot was just unnecessary and sort of out of the blue. Pike could have--in fact, he should have--just ended the story with the conclusion to Chain Letter, but noooo, he had to add another book! The whole storyline of The Ancient Evil was kind of hard to believe and really unnecessary, to be honest. I realize that Pike was trying to make the story more intriguing by actually killing off characters and adding a sort of supernatural element to the story, but really? If you want to write a paranormal story, write a paranormal story. But don’t add a supernatural element at the very end of the second book! That just doesn’t make sense. All in all, Chain Letter managed to slightly spike my interest, while The Ancient Evil completely lost me. Together, I would give the plots of the two books a 6 out of 10.

The Characters:

    The characters were unlikeable and unrelatable. I thought Fran was okay, since she kind of seemed like this innocent, nervous, frail character for whom you couldn’t help but feel bad. I sort of liked her. Alison didn’t make a huge impression on me, though she did seem nice, but there didn’t seem to be too much dimension to her character; only one side of her was portrayed. It was the same for some of the other characters: Tony was the nice guy, while Kipp was the goofball. And honestly, Brenda seemed kind of selfish, though I could kind of see that she cared about her friends. Joan was actually a pretty dynamic character. She seemed like a total jerk in the beginning, shallow, selfish, and, quite frankly, mean. But she turned out to be a decent person in the end, and I thought that showed pretty good dimension. And, of course, Neil turned out to have another side to him as well, though I did end up feeling kind of bad for him, too, in the end. Overall, the characters were kind of one-dimensional and didn’t make a huge impression on me, which is why I’m giving the characters about a 5 out of 10.

The Conclusion

    Chain Letter’s conclusion was decent. I was surprised by it, anyway, and it was a fairly exciting wrap-up to the story. Still, I found myself feeling kind of detached, and although there was lots of action going on, I couldn’t really bring myself to care about what would happen to the characters. And--I know I’ve said it a million times, but I’ll say it again--The Ancient Evil’s ending was just ridiculous. I mean, a cult? Really? When was that ever mentioned in the rest of the book. Seriously, I get that Pike was trying to make it shocking and surprising, but it just seemed totally irrelevant to the story and left me with a kind of “What just happened?” feeling more than a “Wow, that was an amazing story” feeling. The conclusion of Chain Letter wasn’t awful, but the conclusion to The Ancient Evil didn’t really make sense to me. I would give the conclusion a 4.5 out of 10.

Overall Rating: 5.17 out of 10

Hope this was helpful,
JC <3