Jun
05

Title: December (Conspiracy 365 #12)
Author: Gabrielle Lord
Published: December, 2010 by Scholastic
Pages: 181
My Rating: ★★★☆☆ 
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On New Year’s Eve, Callum Ormond is chased down the street by a crazed man with a deadly warning: They killed your father. They’ll kill you. You must survive the next 365 days! Cal has one month to go, but the secrets are mounting higher and time is not on his side. The answers lie hidden thousands of miles away, but with friends and family at his side, Cal’s determined to reveal the truth or die trying …

Final Thoughts:
I finally made it to the end of this twelve-book series. There’s still Revenge, the epilogue book, but as for the main plotline of the series, everything has been pretty much wrapped up. Being so short, I whipped my way through these last three instalments at the same time, hence the lack of a review for the previous two months. October had some cool spy tricks as they attempted a bank heist, and also gave us some more info on Winter’s story, but again, didn’t move the plot a whole lot for Callum. November was just as bad at progressing things—the only thing memorable in that book was the revelation behind Callum’s double—and again, that wasn’t much of a shocker. December made up for its predecessors’ shortcomings, packing the gang up and sending them off towards a twist-riddled, action-full finale.

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Apr
25

Title: September (Conspiracy 365 #9)
Author: Gabrielle Lord
Published: September, 2010 by Scholastic
Pages: 181
My Rating: ★★★☆☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

On New Year’s Eve, Cal is chased down the street by a staggering, sick man with a deadly warning…”They killed your father. They’ll kill you. You must survive the next 365 days. Hurled into a life on the run the 15-year-old fugitive is isolated and alone.

Final Thoughts:
These books are so short, so I thought I’d leave the reviewing until I got through a chunk of them. I’ve just read June through September over the past week, diving into them, hoping for some new discoveries, understanding the clues that have been dropped so far, and finally getting some closure. Being the middle of the series, we didn’t get too much of that. Instead, these books sought to develop the friendship between Cal, Boges and the mysterious girl, Winter. There are trust issues brought into it, and lots of betrayals that definitely warranted that scepticism. Reading them back to back like this, it’s easy to see how formulaic these books are. Each one begins with a quick resolution of whatever cliffhanger had proceeded it, leaving Callum scrambling to pull things back together, then another month of running around, looking for clues, leading up to another catastrophe that just happens to fall on the final day of each month.

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Apr
14

Title: Execution (Escape From Furnace #5)
Author: Alexander Gordon Smith
Published: March, 2011 by Faber and Faber
Pages: 336
My Rating: ★★★☆☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Alex Sawyer has escaped his underground nightmare to discover the whole world has become a prison, and Alfred Furnace is its master. Monsters rule the streets, leaving nothing but murder in their wake. Those who do not die become slaves to Furnace’s reign of cruelty. Alex is a monster too. He is the only one who can stop Furnace but in doing so he could destroy everything. Is he the executed or the executioner? Who will die? All Alex knows is that one way or another, it all ends now.

Final Thoughts:
It took me two weeks to get through—that should tell you something. Being the final book in the series, I pushed through to the end, just because I needed them to find peach—I mean peace—some sort of resolution. The series as whole has been hit and miss for me. The first book took me a while to get into, but then the second and third had me gripping the pages tightly, unable to stop. Book four—the actual escape, or rather fleeing—was the turning point, but unfortunately lost a bit of steam, the same happened with this one. Alex became very much a loner, taking away the fun, brotherhood aspects I’d come to love in the previous instalments. There were still bits of humour, bits of that camaraderie laced throughout, but it was few and far between, instead focussing on the final battle that Alex needed to face with Furnace, the one the whole series had been leading to.

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Mar
07

Title: Fugitives (Escape From Furnace #4)
Author: Alexander Gordon Smith
Published: February, 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Thanks: Macmillan via NetGalley
Pages: 288
My Rating: ★★★½☆ 
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Forever altered by his experience in Furnace Penetentiary, Alex has done the impossible and escaped. But the battle for freedom is only just beginning. Charged with his superhuman abilities, Alex must uncover the last of Furnace’s secrets—the truth about the man who built the prison, the man known as Alfred Furnace. And to do that he must stop running and finally confront his greatest fears.

Final Thoughts:
I love the progression this series has. The first three books built up the prison life, the beginnings of the escape, and Alex’s transformation, and their actual breakout from Furnace. Fugitives continues directly on, showing that the escape was barely the beginning of Alex’s story, and I love that. It maintains an edge of danger, with the three friends on the run from police, gun-toting choppers, and scientifically enhanced humans that more resemble rabid animals. And finally, there’s a female character. It was a gripe I had with the prior books—there were no female inmates, or even a mention of a female prison.

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Jan
20

Title: Alienation (C.H.A.O.S. #2)
Author: Jon S. Lewis
Published: January, 2012 by Thomas Nelson
Thanks: Thomas Nelson via NetGalley
Pages: 288
My Rating: ★★★☆☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

The invasion was only the beginning . . .

After his parents were killed in a car accident, Colt McAllister was drawn into a world he thought only existed in comic books-one where mind control, jet packs, and flying motorcycles don’t even scratch the surface.

Along with his best friends Oz and Danielle, Colt is now training at the secret Central Headquarters Against the Occult and Supernatural academy. But strange accidents seem to follow him. . . even with the security of the school grounds. What first seems random soon turns deadly. But who is targeting Colt?

As the alien invasions increase in frequency and force, C.H.A.O.S resources are taxed to the limit and they’re forced to utilize the new recruits. In the midst of battle, Colt will discover some startling revelations . . . about himself, his friendship with Oz, and why he has been chosen to defeat this alien attack against earth.

Final Thoughts:
Compared to the first book, this one lacked a little something. The characters were still just as fun, showing the strengths and the weaknesses in their friendship, but it felt like things could have been taken further. The resolutions to some of the books plot points came a little too easily for me. Personally, I felt like the first half of the book could have been shortened to allow for more time spent at the actual CHAOS academy rather than waiting so long to ship them off—CHAOS was where all the excitement was. Though, for those not particularly interested in boarding school novels, they may enjoy the prolonged transition.

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Jan
06

Title: Invasion (C.H.A.O.S. #1)
Author: Jon S. Lewis
Published: January, 2011 by Thomas Nelson
Thanks: Thomas Nelson via NetGalley
Pages: 336
My Rating: ★★★☆☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Colt McAllister is drawn into a war against things he thought only existed in comic books.After a car wreck takes the lives of his parents, Colt moves to Arizona to stay with his grandfather. There, an informant tells him that his parents were actually murdered because his mom, a journalist, was getting ready to write a story exposing Trident Industries. Along with Oz and Danielle, his new comrades at Chandler High, Colt vows to uncover the truth. But the more they learn, the more bizarre reality becomes. Mind control, jet packs, and flying motorcycles only scratch the surface of what they discover. Colt is recruited by a secret organization called the Central Headquarters Against the Occult and Supernatural. But the battle isn’t just against an out-of-control giant corporation. A gateway to another world is opening, and the invasion has already begun.

Final Thoughts:
When comic books are becoming your reality, your name must be Colt McAllister. It’s an exciting premise that brings together a range of early-teen issues. I may be a little older than the target demographic, but I still found myself caught up in the conspiracies, the friendships and the cool gadgets. It’s actually the first book of this genre that I’ve seen incorporating romance as well as the action. Not enough for my tastes, but still, I appreciated the effort. In general, there were moments were I felt things could of have been described further, but as for the plot, it didn’t detract.

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Dec
28

Title: Death Sentence (Escape From Furnace #3)
Author: Alexander Gordon Smith
Published: August, 2011 by Farrar Straus Giroux
Pages: 256
My Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Alex’s second attempt to break out of Furnace Penetentiary has failed. This time his punishment will be much worse than before. Because in the hidden, bloodstained laboratories beneath the prison, he will be made into a monster. As the warden pumps something evil into his veins–a sinisterly dark nectar–Alex becomes what he most fears . . . a superhuman minion of Furnace. How can he escape when the darkness is inside him? How can he lead the way to freedom if he is lost to himself?

Final Thoughts:
It took me a while to get into the first book, but with each one that followed, I just can’t get enough. This series actually feels like one in the sense that the plot in each book flows into the next as part of a much larger arc. Sure, something new happens in each, the stakes growing ever higher, but it really keeps you guessing as to what may lie ahead. Not shying away from harming and killing off characters, with this instalment, not even Alex is safe. I really like it for that. When the main character’s own mental stability is in question that’s when you know a book is going to be fun.

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