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The Wicker King by K. Ancrum (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Tuesday, Sep 19, 2017 at 5:18pm

August is a misfit with a pyro streak and Jack is a golden boy on the varsity rugby team—but their intense friendship goes way back. Jack begins to see increasingly vivid hallucinations that take the form of an elaborate fantasy kingdom creeping into the edges of the real world. With their parents’ unreliable behavior, August decides to help Jack the way he always has—on his own. He accepts the visions as reality, even when Jack leads them on a quest to fulfill a dark prophecy.

Told through words and pictures, the story of the complex relationship between August and Jack will leave its mark on you. It manages to be both twisted and dark, yet full of passion. Alongside August, readers will question how far you would go for someone you love. I read The Wicker King in one sitting.

- Emily, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

The Wicker King will be available October 31.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

How to Disappear by Sharon Huss Roat (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Saturday, Sep 16, 2017 at 5:58pm

Vicky Decker has perfected the art of hiding in plain sight. But when her mother gets desperate for her to make friends, Vicky decides to invent a social life by Photoshopping herself into photos and posting them on Instagram under her screen name, Vicurious. As Vicurious's online followers multiply, Vicky soon realizes she's not the only one who feels #alone and #ignored in real life. And to help them, and herself, Vicky must find the courage to come out from behind her screen, stop living vicariously, and truly bring the magic of Vicurious to life.

This book was amazing, I would honestly say it was one of the best books I have ever read. It is an absolute must read for people attending, or working at a high school and I would highly recommend it to everyone else as well. It makes you stop and think about the people around you, the ones you're close with and the ones you may not know very well, and wonder what they may be struggling with that you don't know about. It reminds you that everybody is really the same when you get right down to it, everyone wants to be loved, excepted and to feel like they belong. That we can get so wrapped up in ourselves and our assumptions of people that that can be forgotten. One particular thing I really liked about this book was the way it looked at the good parts of social media, instead of the bad. How social media can bring people together when they need it most and how it can change people's lives for the better. I loved everything about this book and it will definitely be one I read over and over again.

- Lilja, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C Dao (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Thursday, Sep 14, 2017 at 8:07pm

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng's majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high? Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and  exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins--sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is an Asian retelling of the Evil Queen from Snow White, and thus an anti-hero story. Although, this didn’t occur to me until I was halfway through and wondered if I was reading some sort of villain’s backstory. The world building is rich and complex, rather than focusing on Chinese culture like I originally thought, there is… a mix of all sort of culture in here. I still don’t know how to feel about that, but I must commend the author on her creativity. It was a feast to read about the distinctive legends of this world. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is also one of those books that rely heavily on its characters in order to process. The pacing isn’t slow per se, but there are moments where I wished the book would hurry up and cut to the chase. And the characters, my goodness. For a story that leans slightly toward political intrigue, I was hoping for more players, besides Xifeng, whose personality isn’t so transparent. It wasn’t very exciting to see one player dominating a game of cards, and an inexperienced and naïve player at that. As for Xifeng herself, she has great developments along the way. However, I couldn’t help but question the girl’s motive and behaviour. Everything about our anti-hero felt too contradicting. Why on earth would you insist on listening to the aunt who beats and manipulates you? And for someone who desires freedom, the girl is awfully good at ‘caging’ herself. The stuff about her lover, too, doesn’t make any sense to me. Does she like him, want to manipulate him or secretly want to be rid of him? Because of all this, I couldn’t connect to Xifeng’s character at all, I’d like to punch her more.

The ending was still satisfying to read about nonetheless, and as predictable as all stories about the Evil Queen go. It introduces some character that I’m interested to see more in the next installment. Or perhaps I am just anxious to see the fall of Xifeng. All and all, this is a different fantasy/retelling with great culture representation if you can handle a moody protagonist with questionable behaviours. 3/5 Stars

- Phuong, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns will be available October 10.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Thursday, Aug 31, 2017 at 7:31pm

Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls. In Cat's world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius. That's no surprise, since Cat's father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by an organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive on her own. When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, but Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat's help to release it and save the human race.

This Mortal Coil is action-packed from start to finish. Just when you think you’ve figured out what will happen next, the author, Emily Suvada throws another plot twist at you. Every page holds a new question and an unexpected answer. It pulls you into the world of Catarina, the world during the apocalypse. This is not a book you just read whenever, this is a book that is on your mind at all times, even when you’ve finished reading it. It kept me up till three in the morning because there was no way I could stop reading, not even for a second! In This Mortal coil I felt each emotion, the fear, confusion, anger and most often the uncertainty. I would definitely read this book again and I would recommend it to all my friends. It is 100% one of the best books I’ve ever read! I’d give it 5 stars.

- Nicole, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

This Mortal Coil will be published on November 7.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Tuesday, Sep 12, 2017 at 5:18pm

Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family. Forever. Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe. But Emmett will soon face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.

I'm just...speechless. Nyxia had so many twists and turns and new, unexpected surprises that I'm shocked the characters didn't get angry more often. Every chapter had a secret plan or ulterior motive revealed, and it was up to Emmett to deal with the obstacles. This is the ultimate space novel. Not only does it include aliens and a recently discovered habitable planet, but it also includes Nyxia, a foreign substance that can be manipulated at will. Umm...hello? That is super cool! Scott Reintgen thought up a galaxy of challenges using this extraordinary imagination of his to test the recruits on board the GENESIS 11. It's fascinating to follow along as Emmett and the others use new strategies to best each other.

Not much else can be mentioned without spoiling, so I'll leave you on this note: this is a must-read. I am not kidding. It's completely worth it and you'll be thankful you took my advice after you start reading. I'd rate this a 9/10.

- Lauren, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up
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