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Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Friday, Aug 18, 2017 at 3:48pm

The year is 1818, and 16-year-old Annis Whitworth has just learned that her father is dead and all his money is missing. And so, of course, she decides to become a spy so following in his footsteps to unmask his killer makes perfect sense. Alas, it does not make sense to England’s current spymasters—not even when Annis reveals that she has the rare magical ability to sew glamours: garments that can disguise the wearer completely. And so she crafts a new double life for herself. Miss Annis Whitworth will appear to live a quiet life in a country cottage with her aunt, and Annis-in-disguise as Madame Martine, glamour artist, will open a magical dressmaking shop. That way she can maintain her social standing, and, in her spare time, follow the coded clues her father left behind and unmask his killer.

I have a soft sport for Regency novels and ladies who rise above social's standard to define their own. For a book that promises all of those things plus magic and murder, I thought this would be my cup of tea. Unfortunately, it wasn't. Everything falls short. There's a murder, and magic is showcased, but I felt none of it was developed properly. The murder is in the background most of the time, the magic especially needed more explanation. The fact that this is the 1800s and no one freaks out about the existence of magic is unreasonable, let alone how Annis, who has been sewing for years, doesn't discover she can sew glamour until the "incident" takes place. A bit of a dive into the magic system could definitely smooth out these wrinkles.

Annis herself is a typical heroine. So typical in fact that she doesn't stand out. Sure, she is witty and smart. But her action makes her come off as naive and reckless instead. The lady just doesn't think about her course of action, and Annis's development (if she has any) certainly doesn't fix that. I found myself wanting to see more of the maid than our heroine herself. One good thing about this book is the nonexistence of romance/love interest. From start to finish, this story is strictly about woman empowerment. The writing in this is not heavy for a period novel, for all the issues that it has, I flew through it quickly. For this reason, Murder, Magic and What We Wore can be a good introduction to the genre of historical fiction for those who are still on the fence about them. Otherwise, those who are familiar with it, I suggest you move on to read better things. 2.5/5 Stars.

- Phuong, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Murder, Magic and What We Wore will be available September 19.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up Kids

The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Saturday, Aug 12, 2017 at 2:36pm

Being a witch is really hard, especially for Arianwyn. Arianwyn thought she was ready for her evaluation but she really was not and she ends up failing her test. Since she didn't pass the evaluation she was assigned to help the town of Lull in disgrace. Arianwyn didn't start of on the right foot and soon finds out that the mayor's neice Gimma, another witch and Arianwyn's revial, has come to help. Meanwhile, Arianwyn gets better and better at using the glyphs and she's got more familiar with them. All the while Gimma opened a rift and let out a very dangerous creature that is a huge threat to the whole town. Can Arianwyn take control of the glyph's and defeat the creature? Read The Apprentice Witch to find out!

I would rate this book a 5/5 as I couldn't put it down.

- Alex, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up Kids

The Van Gogh Deception by Deron R Hicks (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Friday, Aug 11, 2017 at 11:32am

Have you ever seen a fake work of art? Well, twelve year old Art has, in fact he makes them. Or at least he thinks he does. Art was found in a museum without any memories and the doctors diagnosed him with amnesia. Meanwhile, a group of men are trying to kidnap Art because they want something called the spider. Only Art knows what and where it is, but he forgot along with all his other memories. The only clues to his past life are a plastic card, a key, and a journal filled with exact diagrams of some famous paintings. Art soon gets adopted by a family with one daughter his age named Camille, and he finds himself running around the city with Camille, trying to stay alive. Art seems to know alot about paintings, and when he and Camille suspect that Art's key leads to a room filled with poisons and replicas of priceless paintings. They begin to suspect something strange is going on. Now Art has to recover the spider, keep away from these men who are trying to kidnap him, and find out more about his past. Will he succeed? Read The Van Gogh Deception to find out!

- Max, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

The Van Gogh Deception will be available August 29.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up Kids

Dash of Dragon by Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Thursday, Aug 10, 2017 at 4:14pm

Lailu is a thirteen year old cook. But not just any cook. A cook who specializes in monster cuisine. The best part is she and her mentor are opening a restarant and it's the only place of its kind in the whole city. Or it was going to be. The only problem is Greg, an obnoxious boy from school who stole her idea and his restaurant is now way more popular than Lailu's. This isn't her only problem though. Lailu's mentor had to borrow money from a loan shark, Mr. Boss, so he could get money to start the business. But his deal wasn't a good one. If Lailu and her mentor don't scrape up enough money they will have to cook for Mr. Boss for the rest of their lives. Will Lailu and her mentor and get the money in time or will she have to cook for Mr. Boss FOREVER! Read Dash of Dragon to find out.

- Jubilee, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up Kids

The Friendship Bracelet by Arlene Stewart (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Tuesday, Aug 08, 2017 at 7:12pm

How would you feel if your best friend moved to Paris? Bad! This is what happens to Olivia Jones at the start of the summer when her best friend Alex moves away. Her mom owns Katonah Crafts, a craft supplies shop which gives Olivia the idea of friendship bracelets for her and Alex. During the summer Oliva and her other friend Mumu, both go to Camp Munroe. While at camp, they both get poison ivy and other problems, like two boys end up liking Olivia. How will Olivia survive her summer, especially without Alex? Read The Friendship Bracelet to find out!

- Eden, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up Kids
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