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The Walking Dead, Vol. 4: The Heart’s DesireThe Walking Dead, Vol. 04: The Heart's Desire by Robert Kirkman
Series: The Walking Dead #4
Published by Image Comics on April 28th 2009
Genres: Graphic Novel, Horror
Pages: 136
Format: ebook
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Also by this author: The Walking Dead, Vol. 01: Days Gone Bye, The Walking Dead, Vol. 02: Miles Behind Us, The Walking Dead, Vol. 03: Safety Behind Bars
Illustrator: Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn

Life in the prison starts to get interesting for Rick Grimes and the rest of our survivors. Relationships heat up, fizzle out, and change entirely almost overnight. By the end of this volume, relationships between key characters are radically changed, setting the stage for future events in The Walking Dead.

Volume four is my least favorite edition thus far, as I’ve given it a mere three stars. A redeeming quality of this installment is the introduction of the katana-wielding, zombie-enslaving Michonne, by far the most awesome character in the AMC show.

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Book Review

The Walking Dead, Vol. 3: Safety Behind Bars

The Walking Dead, Vol. 3: Safety Behind BarsThe Walking Dead, Vol. 03: Safety Behind Bars by Robert Kirkman
Series: The Walking Dead #3
Published by Image Comics on June 18th 2005
Genres: Graphic Novel, Horror
Pages: 136
Format: ebook
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Also by this author: The Walking Dead, Vol. 01: Days Gone Bye, The Walking Dead, Vol. 02: Miles Behind Us, The Walking Dead, Vol. 04: The Heart's Desire
Illustrator: Charlie Adlard

An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe, causing the dead to rise and feed on the living. In a matter of months, society has crumbled: there is no government, no grocery stores, no mail delivery, no cable TV. In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally begin living. This volume follows our band of survivors as they set up a permanent camp inside a prison. Relationships change, characters die, and our team of survivors learn there's something far more deadly than zombies out there: each other.

Volume three picks up right where volume two left off – with the group of survivors coming across a seemingly abandoned fortress of a prison. Tyreese, Rick, and Andrea set to beginning to clean out the prison – meaning killing the multitudes of zombies trapped inside.

Book Review

Throne of Glass

Throne of GlassThrone of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury USA Children's on August 7th 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 404
Format: ebook
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An alternate cover edition can be found here.

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her ... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead ... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

So, I’m a total pantser when it comes to reading books, meaning I RARELY read full synopses or even skim them prior to choosing a book, as I discussed in my post, Synopsis Free.

Book Review

The Walking Dead, Vol. 2: Miles Behind Us

The Walking Dead, Vol. 2: Miles Behind UsThe Walking Dead, Vol. 02: Miles Behind Us by Robert Kirkman
Series: The Walking Dead #2
Published by Image Comics on November 24, 2004
Genres: Graphic Novel, Horror
Pages: 136
Format: ebook
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Also by this author: The Walking Dead, Vol. 01: Days Gone Bye, The Walking Dead, Vol. 03: Safety Behind Bars, The Walking Dead, Vol. 04: The Heart's Desire
Illustrator: Charlie Adlard

An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe, causing the dead to rise and feed on the living. In a matter of months, society has crumbled: There is no government, no grocery stores, no mail delivery, no cable TV. In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally begin living. This volume follows our band of survivors on their tragic journey in search of shelter. Characters live and die as they brave a treacherous landscape littered with packs of the walking dead.

Miles Behind Us picks up where Days Gone Bye, volume one in the series, left off, with Rick and his comrades burying Shane after Carl killed him in defense of his father. In this issue, it is decided by the group of zombie apocalypse survivors that Rick shall be their leader, as he is a natural and was a sheriff prior to the zombie invasion, after all.

Book Review

The Clue in the Crossword Cipher

The Clue in the Crossword CipherThe Clue in the Crossword Cipher by Carolyn Keene
Series: Nancy Drew #44
Published by Grosset & Dunlap on January 1st 1967
Genres: Children's, Mystery
Pages: 192
Format: ebook
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For cliffhanging suspense and thrilling action read THE NANCY DREW MYSTERY STORIES-the worlds most popular mystery series for young readers! Millions of fans have matched wits with Nancy Drew, helping her solve more than fifty baffling cases.

I adore Nancy Drew books in general, but The Clue in the Crossword Cipher is probably one of my favorites in the mystery series yet. I’ve probably mentioned that I love to learn as I read and with this book, set in South America, namely in Peru and Argentina, I was captivated.

Book Review

Insanity

InsanityInsanity by Cameron Jace
Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on December 19th 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Pages: 254
Format: ebook
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After accidentally killing everyone in her class, Alice Wonder is now a patient in the Radcliffe Lunatic Asylum. No one doubts her insanity. Only a hookah-smoking professor believes otherwise; that he can prove her sanity by decoding Lewis Carroll's paintings, photographs, and find Wonderland's real whereabouts. Professor Caterpillar persuades the asylum that Alice can save lives and catch the wonderland monsters now reincarnated in modern day criminals. In order to do so, Alice leads a double life: an Oxford university student by day, a mad girl in an asylum by night. The line between sanity and insanity thins when she meets Jack Diamond, an arrogant college student who believes that nonsense is an actual science.

Well, I sure am glad I went into reading Cameron Jace’s Insanity, the first in the series of the same name, without reading the summary on Goodreads – had I read it, I wouldn’t have been so pleasantly surprised by the story’s plot.

Book Review

The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye

The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone ByeThe Walking Dead, Vol. 01: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman
Series: The Walking Dead #1
Published by Image Comics on February 19th 2013
Genres: Graphic Novel, Horror
Pages: 144
Format: ebook
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Also by this author: The Walking Dead, Vol. 02: Miles Behind Us, The Walking Dead, Vol. 03: Safety Behind Bars, The Walking Dead, Vol. 04: The Heart's Desire
Illustrator: Tony Moore

How many hours are in a day when you don't spend half of them watching television?

When is the last time any of us REALLY worked to get something we wanted?

How long has it been since any of us really NEEDED something that we WANTED?

The world we knew is gone.

The world of commerce and frivolous necessity has been replaced by a world of survival and responsibility.

An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe causing the dead to rise and feed on the living.

In a matter of months society has crumbled.no government, no grocery stores, no mail delivery, no cable TV.

In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living.

Sherriff Rick Grimes wakes up in a hospital after being in a coma for a month, only to discover that the world has changed forever – dramatically.

Book Review

Ghosts

GhostsGhosts by Raina Telgemeier
Published by Graphix on September 13, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Middle Grade
Pages: 256
Format: ebook
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THERE'S SOMETHING DIFFERENT ABOUT THIS TOWN...

Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn't happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister's sake -- and her own.

Raina Telgemeier has masterfully created a moving and insightful story about the power of family and friendship, and how it gives us the courage to do what we never thought possible.

I read Raina Telgemeier’s Ghosts in ALMOST a single day – it’s fast moving, the illustrations are precious and fun, the story is heartwarming, and there is just a tiny hint of romance. Centering around Cat and her little sister, Maya, the tale encompasses a variety of themes, among them cystic fibrosis and Latin American culture.

Book Review

The Fill-In Boyfriend

The Fill-In BoyfriendThe Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
Published by HarperTeen on May 5th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 343
Format: ebook
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When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.
The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.
Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

I am totally not a girl who runs to see romantic comedies – I avoid them at all costs – let alone someone who reads romance-based novels. I felt as though I was being haunted by Kasie West and her books. Seemingly everywhere I looked in the bookish blogging world were rave reviews of West’s writing.

The Fill-In Boyfriend beckoned me to crack open its cover for a long time before I gave in to my intense urge to read it, despite my prejudices regarding romance. Now, I’m also not that into reading about romance of any sort in any book of any genre, which helps illustrate my reluctance to read West’s work, which I’ve seen referred to as ‘fluffy’.

The Fill-In Boyfriend is full of fluff and I loved every minute of it! The book’s synopsis and title make it obvious enough that a girl basically uses a guy to pose as her boyfriend. What I didn’t expect was the roller coaster ride of emotions that I experienced while reading this book.

Gia, the protagonist, meets a stranger after being unceremoniously dumped right before her senior prom and, you guessed it, the stranger becomes her prom date and is introduced to her clique of gal pals as her questionable boyfriend.

Gia weaves a tight web of lies to cover up the facade of having a real boyfriend, even keeping the truth from her dearest friend, Claire. Perhaps my favorite aspect of the book is Gia’s newfound friendship with someone whom she normally would have overlooked, being the perfect popular student council president that she is.

The reader is taken on a journey of evolution for not only Gia, but for supporting characters as well. Cracks in Gia’s home life become evident; Gia’s friends slowly grow suspicious of her shenanigans; Gia’s ultimate frenemy is out to ruin her, but no one believes her, which clouds Gia’s judgment and intuition.

A caterpillar at the beginning of the book, Gia transforms into an illustrious, independent butterfly toward the end, gaining serious introspection along the way. I loved reading about Gia’s personal growth and the changes she inspires in both herself and those closest to her.

As I was taken on Gia’s road trip of lies, I was constantly swerving and weaving through emotions ranging from anger, to joy, to sadness, to empathy, to anger again, and finally to a terrific resolution.

The Fill-In Boyfriend has definitely changed my viewpoint regarding romantic, fun novels and I very much look forward to reading the rest of West’s work. Kasie West has made me an auto-buyer of her books with this single story.

Love, Maggie

Book Review

The Girl with All the Gifts

The Girl with All the GiftsThe Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
Published by Orbit on June 19th 2014
Genres: Science Fiction, Horror
Pages: 460
Format: ebook
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Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her "our little genius."
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh.
Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.
The Girl with All the Gifts is a sensational thriller, perfect for fans of Stephen King, Justin Cronin, and Neil Gaiman.

I’m kind of at a loss for words about this one. I dove into the book head first, expecting nothing, as I hadn’t read the summary; therefore, I knew nothing about it besides the title, which made the story seem like it would be cool.

The Girl with All the Gifts started out sucking me in; I couldn’t get enough of the story of young Melanie’s plight and had fun guessing to myself just what condition plagues the girl, as she is sequestered to a cell in a research facility, where other children like Melanie inhabit cells identical to hers, save for rotating artwork on the walls.

I was absolutely fascinated, that is until I discovered the condition from which Melanie suffers – she’s a highly intelligent child zombie being intensely researched by a doctor who chooses children in the facility to ‘study’. The primary doctor obviously gets a rush out of her disgusting ‘work’.

All of the above kept me interested; the relationship between Melanie and the institution’s teacher, Helen Justineau, got tired after a while and started to get on my nerves, which was too bad for me because the relationship between instructor and pupil is central to the book’s plot.

I felt like The Girl with All the Gifts was too long, at over 400 pages. I feel like Carey (a pen name for a well-known British writer) could have wrapped up the book in around 250 pages; the words stretched in front of me like an endless desert highway – no end in sight.

I finally started skimming the book after making it about 150 pages in. As I expected, the remainder of the tale was predictable, drawn out, and, quite frankly, boring.

I wanted to love The Girl with All the Gifts so badly, which is probably why I’m so disappointed.

The bottom line is that the book began very promisingly, with an awesome basis for a story line. Unfortunately, the borderline weird connection between Miss Justineau and Melanie turned me off very much; it was predictable – with Miss Justineau and Melanie simultaneously ‘saving’ each other in a symbiotic relationship.

Love, Maggie