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Book Review

Click’d

Click’dClick'd by Tamara Ireland Stone
Published by Disney-Hyperion on September 5, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Middle Grade
Pages: 208
Format: Paperback
Source: Miss Print's ARC Adoption Program
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Allie Navarro can't wait to show her best friends the app she built at CodeGirls summer camp. CLICK'D pairs users based on common interests and sends them on a fun (and occasionally rule-breaking) scavenger hunt to find each other. And it's a hit. By the second day of school, everyone is talking about CLICK'D.

Watching her app go viral is amazing. Leaderboards are filling up! Everyone's making new friends. And with all the data Allie is collecting, she has an even better shot at beating her archenemy, Nathan, at the upcoming youth coding competition. But when Allie discovers a glitch that threatens to expose everyone's secrets, she has to figure out how to make things right, even if that means sharing the computer lab with Nathan. Can Allie fix her app, stop it from doing any more damage, and win back the friends it hurt-all before she steps on stage to present CLICK'D to the judges?

New York Times best-selling author Tamara Ireland Stone combines friendship, coding, and lots of popcorn in her fun and empowering middle-grade debut.

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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.

Book Review

Moon Knight, Vol. 1: Lunatic

Moon Knight, Vol. 1: LunaticMoon Knight, Volume 1: Lunatic by Jeff Lemire
Series: Moon Knight #17
Published by Marvel on December 13th 2016
Genres: Graphic Novel
Pages: 120
Format: Paperback
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Marc Spector (a.k.a. Moon Knight/Jake Lockley/Steven Grant) has been fighting criminals and keeping New York City safe for years... or has he? When he wakes up in an insane asylum with no powers and a lifetime's worth of medical records, his whole identity (indentities) are called into question. Something is wrong, but is that something Marc Spector himself? Jeff Lemire (Extraordinary X-Men) and rising star Greg Smallwood are calling everything you know about Moon Knight into question.

Collecting: Moon Knight 1-5

Apparently, I’ve been missing out – Moon Knight is a whole thing – where have I been?!

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

Illuminae

IlluminaeIlluminae by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 20th 2015
Pages: 599
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
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This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.
BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

As I am bad to avoid perusing summaries of books prior to reading them, I had no clue what to expect when I began Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

Little did I know, I was in for a treat.

Illuminae, told through pieces from a dossier compiled regarding the incident at the heart of the story, is at once science fiction, romance, and extreme excitement.

I finished reading the book in less than one day; I could not step away from the story or the characters.

Kady and Ezra are each part of a former couple who find themselves thrust together as the world they know, Kerenza, is destroyed.

Communicating through cyberspace, each aboard a different rescue ship, Kady and Ezra struggle to hack into the truth surrounding the decimation of their homeland and that of a third savior ship.

The duo slowly come back together amidst the chaos surrounding them and enlist others in their fight to find answers and save the innocent from impending doom. With the number of enemies they face growing larger, Ezra and Kady must decipher who and what they can in fact trust.

Illuminae is an incredibly fast-paced novel, despite its number of pages. Outfitted with illustrations, charts, and correspondence, the book is not only a fantastic read, but it is very visually appealing.

Illuminae is the first installment in The Illuminae Files trilogy by Kaufman and Kristoff. I am already incredibly excited to read the second and third books in the series! Gemina, companion book to Illuminae, was released in 2016.

Love, Maggie

Book Review

I Am Malala

I Am MalalaI Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, Christina Lamb
on October 8th 2013
Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
Pages: 327
Format: Paperback
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I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.
On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.
Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

I Am Malala is a beautifully written memoir recounting the violent relationship of the Taliban with the people of primarily Pakistan. This relationship is akin to that of an abusive domestic one, as the militant group seeks to isolate, control, and terrorize its mostly unwilling subjects.

Malala describes an idyllic existence in Pakistan’s Swat Valley prior to the arrival of the Taliban. Her words slowly take apart her beloved homeland, as militants destroy important ancient landmarks and attempt to rewrite history and infiltrate Pakistan’s rich culture.

Named for Malalai of Maiwand, Pakistan’s version of Joan of Arc, Malala is a special girl who is very close with her family, especially her father, the founder of the school she attends. Malala and her friends find respite from the near constant bombings and shootings on the streets of their city at school six days per week.

Unfortunately, Malala’s school and father are under threat from the Pakistani Taliban to close the school’s doors, as its values do not coincide with those of Sharia Law.

Following in the footsteps of her beloved father, Malala began speaking out against militancy and championing the rights of girls to be educated and giving interviews to various news outlets at age eleven.

Amid suicide bombings and the mass blasting of schools, Malala perseveres, continuing to attend school despite constant threats to cease her education.

The Taliban virtually takes over Pakistan, while authorities stand idly by, merely allowing mass killings, all in the name of Sharia. Malala bravely asserts in an interview that the Taliban “are abusing our religion.”

In October 2012, Malala was targeted and brutally shot by a member of the Taliban, along with two girls sitting on either side of her, due to her standing up for the education of girls and speaking out against terrorism.

Miraculously, Malala and her two classmates survived the attack and escaped Pakistan. Malala is the youngest person ever to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and continues to advocate for universal education through her personal fund.

I never thought I would be interested in reading Malala’s whole story, but I was captivated by her words. Not only am I in awe of Malala’s accomplishments and good deeds, I am amazed and deeply saddened by the destruction of her homeland and culture.

Malala tells her story in such a way that makes it easy for the reader to empathize with her and her situation. As I read I Am Malala, I imagined what it would be like if my home country, the US, were overrun by terrorists who want to destroy everything that I love and believe in.

I admire Malala’s courage very much and truly hope she is able to one day return to her beloved Pakistan.

Love, Maggie

Book Review

The Star-Touched Queen

The Star-Touched QueenThe Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Series: The Star-Touched Queen #1
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on April 26th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 342
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
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Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?
Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…
But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

I hardly know where to begin except by saying OMG, I’m SO grateful and lucky to have had the chance to read and review Roshani Chokshi’s beautiful tale, The Star-Touched Queen, prior to its release thanks to the publisher and NetGalley!

It’s going to be tough to review the story steeped in Indian mythology while avoiding the temptation to add tons of spoilers! However, have no fear: this will be a spoiler-free review!

I was immediately sucked into the pages of Chokshi’s debut. Chokshi’s development of her characters, especially those of protagonist Maya and the mysterious Amar, goes deep; I felt as though I was right alongside Maya throughout her adventures and challenges.

The Star-Touched Queen features a multitude of fabulous twists and turns; just when I thought I had figured out the secrets of Maya’s world and the direction her story would take, I was quickly proven wrong, which made me very happy, as I love being surprised by novels, as opposed to figuring out the ending before finishing my reading.

The book is sprinkled with awesome quotes, most stated by Maya. My favorite of her sayings being, “I’d rather spread ideas than legs.” All I could think was, “Go, girl!”

Maya is the epitome of someone who craves freedom to make her own choices while at the same time remaining tethered to her loved ones and the life she knows.

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the story is the fact that Maya is ‘cursed’ by the stars: her horoscope, which seems to doom her to a life filled with suspicion, sacrifice, and danger.

Typically, some romances in novels drive me nuts, as there is generally so much focus on physical attraction, etc. Chokshi’s romance between Maya and the elusive, secretive Amar is a nice slow burn, which centers on destiny and fate.

Throughout the book, Maya’s beliefs are continuously being tested, as is her basic instinct to place absolute trust in others. In addition, Maya is haunted by a mysterious voice, which torments her with riddles and coerces her to explore a new world and uncover its many secrets.

I especially enjoyed the cattiness of the women of the Raja’s harem, mainly that of Dhina, who verbally abuses Maya every chance she gets prior to Maya’s transition into a new, mysterious life, seemingly written in the stars.

Love, Maggie