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Thursday, September 3, 2015

ARC Review: The Misadventures of Maggie Moore, Vol. 1 by Michelle Graves

What determines how wonderful a work of fiction is? To me, a triumph one hopes for regarding a good read, would require the work to be written with passion, unique diction, and undeniably lovable characters with plenty of chemistry. Though this may not be the case for everyone, such qualities seem immeasurably pertinent to the success of a story to me. With The Misadventures of Maggie Moore, I found more than the aforementioned requirements within. In fact, I became so enthralled while following Maggie through her travels and adventures that I failed to find sleep at a decent hour. I simply could not put the book down, until I had no choice but to grudgingly retire to bed, lest I not wake up and usher my children to their first day of school as required.

Maggie, my new favorite heroine is remarkably unique. From beginning to end, her ability to trudge on no matter the detour confronted with, made her amazing beyond compare. Her father, a soldier taken too soon via an IED attack in Iraq, led her to initially become idle in life. Leaving behind an internship right after graduating college, she and her mother spent nearly a year grieving and trying to provide some sort of comfort to one another. However, once Maggie’s mother is able to pull herself from despair, she forces Maggie back out into the world.

Only having a couple of weeks to find a job, and start anew, Maggie finds herself in an awkward position as a sports journalist. Knowing nothing of sports, she is unable to do the job properly. Although failing miserably at interpreting sports, being an intelligent young woman and a fantastic writer lands her a second chance. A trial column, developed for special interests in relation to obscure sporting events might have seemed daunting to others, but Maggie boldly dove right into the presence of a provided opportunity. Alas, this is where the story truly begins in terms of plots, yet within the just the first couple of pages, I was inevitably hooked. Why? Well, the diction, of course! Furthermore, Maggie, oh Maggie, she is so very entertaining.

She had me laughing throughout the entirety of the book. She is quirky, humorous, slightly neurotic, and absolutely delightful. She is inside of her own head, and very contemplative which is another aspect of her unique character traits. The interactions she has with each secondary character from those she interviewed during her first assignment involving Dragonboat Racing, to those she met in her trials of learning about Extreme Ironing, showed her giving and open nature. Even her initial encounter with the male lead John Cormick, proved to be a moment of unexpected wonder.

When life throws Maggie curves, she continues to dodge and thrive even when this handsome, yet ill-mannered stranger appears. Consistently bickering with Murphy’s Law, Maggie manages to attract trouble, and that fact is not lost on John Cormick. Belligerent, reserved, and inconceivably arrogant, he is decidedly much more jaded than her teenaged-self had pictured when idolizing him. Little does she know the truths hidden behind his fa├žade of confidence and repressed anger, let alone who he could be if given the chance.

The introduction of John Cormick was and still is a moment of the story I could not forget, for it was not only funny, but strange and eyebrow-raising. John, a famous photojournalist who, as so eloquently and enjoyably put, is a man with a very mercurial attitude instantly pushes Maggie’s soft-hearted buttons. He is fun, even though he truly isn’t, which is highly unusual, but it works ridiculously well. I was in love with his character instantly, with no trouble discerning that somewhere in his frigid demeanor a spark of raw beauty lie broken; still as a frozen pond that awaits spring to help renew the life-giving sustenance that those living require. John, despite his gruff and abrasive behavior captures the reader with his moments of concern for Maggie.

Furthermore, once one is able to comprehend the reason behind his behavior, it makes compassion inevitable, giving the reader a need to comfort the man, and help him. John, for all his harshness, is actually quite vulnerable after being held as a prisoner of war while captured in Iraq. To avoid any spoilers, I cannot say any more about such aspects of the story. With that said, however, I can ensure that without the emotional depth of this story through powerful backgrounds to the characters, John and Maggie would not work so well together. Now, at first, the two are brought together in off-the-wall, though believable incidents. Such instances seem touched by fate, but as the two are forced to co-exist professionally, we are sucked into a whirlwind of adventure with Maggie writing, and John capturing the life of the story through photographs.

Of course, insinuating that their relationship is akin to anything relatively normal would be wrong. Due to John’s unusual behavior, and his apparent cold indifference toward her, she believes that John loathes her (and has no respect for her). The tension is palpable between the two individuals and sometimes the reader cannot help but feel Maggie’s frustration. After all, what is bickering, and heated disputes without a little love thrown in? Fact is, these two are in fact perfect for one another, but neither sees it initially. Unfortunately, we will have to wait until Volume Two in the Maggie’s adventures to determine the outcome of their relationship, but there is nothing but joy found in their interactions. The two bring passion, joy, horror, and despair into each other’s lives with no warning, and in turn, their professional partnership is truly riveting.

I cannot possibly explain the depth of my love for this story any more than I already have, yet I feel as though I have not said enough. Maggie and Johns story is one of growth, finding oneself, and learning how to live. Not how to exist, but truly live when one feels as though they’re sinking ever deeper into a place unknown; encased in darkness. Without the ability to lift oneself up, examine one’s feelings, and risk safety, how can one ever thrive? By reading this story, I felt light, airy, and full of hope. Simply put, Michelle is a brilliant writer who grasps the concept of a “feel-good” story, and I cannot help but feel compelled to wait eagerly for the next installment. I want to see how Maggie continues to grow, learn, and live life. I want to find out how John copes with his secrets once they are strewn out at his feet for all to see. I want to see how both hopefully turn to one another, when it’s clear that love is on the horizon. Mostly though, I have to admit that I am simply eager to be privy to her next adventure.

**ARC provided by Author**

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