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Nemesis by Brendan Reichs (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Monday, Mar 27, 2017 at 12:06pm

What is Nemesis?
- It's a thrilling YA mystery that leaves you wanting more
- It's full of mind-blowing twists that will actually make you look up from the book to shout to the entire world around you TO READ IT
- It's a dark tale that stabs (quite literally *wink,wink*) you in the heart at every turn and constantly throws all new levels of craziness into the mix

Nemesis shouldn't work, but somehow it does. It managed to have me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. It shocked me. It creeped me out. I laughed. I cried. In short, I loved it. It was one of those rare books that glued my eyes to the page and had me devouring each sentence in a mad need to find out what the hell was going on and what would happen next.

The best books are held aloft by a great protagonist and Nemesis is no exception. Min is exactly the type of character I love. She's strong-willed, fierce and brave. She is also angry, bitter and ferocious. Min has experienced her 'murder' and then 'revival' every two years since her eighth birthday. She has lived her life to think that there's something wrong with her, that she is crazy. We soon switch POVs to Noah, our second main character, who is almost the exact opposite of Min. She's like fire, raw and burning, while he's like water, calm and soothing. Noah have been experiencing the same 'murders' as Min, and weirdly he has the same birthday as her. While he is afraid, Min is hungry for answers.

This book opens on September 18, 2017, and an Anvil is predicted to hit Earth. The whole population holds their breath for the final outcome. Oddly, this is one day after Min and Noah's sixteenth birthdays and murders. This book has so many things going on at once, but it never feels overwhelming. The author expertly executes this story by making you think you know where it's going, then making an abrupt U-turn and shouting, "ha! I fooled you all!" The plot is absolutely spectacular from beginning to end. We have Min, who questions everything and is a very action driven character, while Noah is observant and reserved.

In all end, this book is the latest addition to my YA favourites shelf. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves a great plot, diverse characters, and hilarious-to-date humor. 9.4/10 stars

- Yen Anh, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Blacksouls by Nicole Castroman (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Thursday, Mar 23, 2017 at 9:31pm

Edward “Teach” Drummond is setting sail to the Caribbean as first mate on the most celebrated merchant ship in the British fleet—until he rebels against his captain. Mutiny is a capital offense and Teach knows it could cost him his life, but he believes it worth the risk in order to save his crew from the attacking Spanish ships. Sailing on the same blue waters, Anne barely avoids the Spanish attack, making it safely to Nassau. But lawless criminals, corrupt politics, and dangerous intentions fill the crowded streets of this Caribbean port. Soon, Anne discovers that the man entrusted to keep the peace is quite possibly the most treacherous of them all—and he just happens to hold Teach’s fate in his terrifying hands.

This month I joined the two thumbs up program and I have to admit it is great! Sadly, the book I read is not as great as the program itself. I read Blacksouls, it was about Anne and Teach, two teens in love (for anyone who doesn’t like gushy books this book is NOT for you). It wasn’t terrible, but it was special or interesting or very well written or exciting or anything really. The author sounded unnatural and forced. On a scale of DESPICABLE to BEST BOOK IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, I would give this book a MEH.

- Rungano, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Blacksouls will be available April 11.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Literally by Lucy Keating (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Monday, Mar 20, 2017 at 6:35pm

Annabelle’s life has always been Perfect with a capital P. Then bestselling young adult author Lucy Keating announces that she’s writing a new novel—and Annabelle is the heroine. It turns out that Annabelle is a character that Lucy Keating created. And Lucy has a plan for her. But Annabelle doesn’t want to live a life where everything she does is already plotted out. Will she find a way to write her own story—or will Lucy Keating have the last word?

Literally by Lucy Keating was an exceptional read. Everything from the story line to the characters with unique in its own way, and little weird but nonetheless unique. I thoroughly enjoyed the idea of the book as well as the struggles the characters had to face. Overall I did enjoy this book. I have been exposed to Lucy Keating's writing style back when I read Dreamology, and by the looks of it kept the same style.

Having the author herself appear in the book was so neat. The concept behind it was quite original and entertaining. I found she did a great job incorporating and including herself in the text. However at times I felt it a little weird how she described herself. That was frankly the only thing I found to be weird. The rest of the story had its interesting moments, and I did find to be quite and easy read through so that was generally good.

I did really enjoy the connections I made the characters. Each weren't to complex that I didn't understand them and what they were trying to portray. I loved the two love interests however I hated the love triangle only because I myself aren't really fans of love triangles. Overall this story was good, it was a very easy read, and for those who enjoyed Dreamology would also enjoy Literally. I would rate this book as 4 out of 5 for its originality and easy to connect with characters.

-Sabrina, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Literally will be available April 11.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Duels & Deception by Cindy Anstey (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Saturday, Mar 18, 2017 at 7:55pm

Duels and Deception took me a long time to get into. While there are elements of fun, quirky, and even romance to it, I was not engaged or connected at all, which is really sad because historical romance is one of my favourite genres. Duels and Deception centers around Miss Lydia Whitfield, heiress to the family fortune that seems to make her the target of greedy eyes. In order to guard it, Lydia plans ahead for a "perfect future": live a loveless marriage to her neighbour next door and run the family estate. But what if nothing goes as planned? In one of the final steps, Lydia tasked Robert Newton, a young law clerk to draw up a marriage contract and secure a seemed-to-be perfect future... Until both are kidnapped and their reputitation is threatened to be destroyed.

Honestly, the one element that disconnected me to the rest of the story is the writing style. BUT, I think that this concern is only applied to me and my mood at the time of reading this book because the writing really fits its historical background (think Jane Austen but lighter). Though, I don't know what I was expecting but this hit me hard and well.. I couldn't keep my focus up. Personal rant aside, I guarantee that most will grow to like Miss Lydia Whitfield. In a period of male dominance, Lydia is fierce, independent, witty and ahead of her time. There is a great portrayal of female friendship between her and her cousin / friend that worths reading about as well. The romance is slow burning and yet "fast growing" at the same time, the point of view in the book alternates from Robert and Lydia and I can tell the attraction that these two have for each other very earlier on. Netherless, it was fun to see them closer crossing through obstacles to find each other.

I would definitely recommend this book, as I have seen great reviews from others about Duels and Deception, many (14 and up) will most likely enjoy it more than I did. 3/5 Stars.

- Phuong, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Duels & Deception will be available April 11.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Monday, Mar 13, 2017 at 9:31pm

Spindle Fire is a delightful ray of retelling sunshine. It has everything I wanted in a book that promised a strong sister bond and a twist on Sleeping Beauty. This is the tale of half sisters Isabelle and Aurora. When Aurora pricks her finger and falls into a deep slumber, Isabelle is forced to travel to the neighbouring kingdom to find her sister's supposed true love. Little does she know, Aurora wakes up in another world, with dangers to face and secrets to discover on her own. On top of it all, a sleeping illness is slowly making its way across the land and a faerie queen rises with an army. There's also a narwhal hunting expedition (spoiler: in which no narwhal is harmed) if you're not hooked yet.

Okay, where to start. Isabelle and Aurora go through such amazing development throughout the book. Isabelle goes from being the self-conscious, timid shadow of her sister to a strong, brave, determinated young woman. Instead of waiting for her prince to come, Aurora becomes a princess that takes matters into her own hands. Although, Isabelle's development feels a bit rushed as it happens near the end of the book, unlike Aurora who develops slowly throughout the book. Nevertheless, I am happy for both of them. The bond between Aurora and Isabelle is not a false promise, and the scenes they share showcase their sisterly love perfectly. Of course, that love isn't perfect. Aurora sometimes finds herself envying her Isabelle for her freedom, and Isabelle envys Aurora for the beauty and grace she lacks. Even so, the reader is certain that these two will always find their way back to each other despite these things. I appreciate this extra touch very much.

For a retelling, I didn't expect much for worldbuilding but I think the world of Spindle Fire sorts itself out pretty well. The book is told in present tense and I understand that some people may have problems connecting with the story, but honestly, I was too distracted by the gorgeous writing to be bothered. The author's poetry background really shines, and boy does she know how to work a metaphor. I mean, look at this metaphoric prose:

Like a firefly, when she tries to look directly at the truth, tries to reach for it, its glow blinks out, allowing the idea to swim mysteriously away, lighter than air.

There are several beautiful metaphors like this throughout the book and personally, they never feel too much or forced. In fact, they felt natural, refreshing even to read them, if that makes sense. Overall, I wholeheartedly recommended Spindle Fire. It could be that my heart is too caught up by Aurora and Isabelle that my eyes are blinded by other flaws this book may have. At the end of the day, if you like what you've read so far, I'm 97% sure that you will like this book. This book is not only enjoyable, but the message it contains is also too important to go unnoticed. A definite 5/5 stars!

- Phuong, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Spindle Fire will be available April 11.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up
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