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Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Monday, May 15, 2017 at 5:28pm

What if you are destined to be something else entirely? Caroline thinks that her fate as a wherryman is sealed, and she is to be like her father and the rest of the Oresteia who deliver shipments (sometimes ilegally) with their wherries across the Riverlands. But at seventeen, the river god hasn't called Caro's name like he did to the rest of her family, and it may never happen. When Caro's father is suddenly captured, a series of plots is set in motion, one that involves shadowmen, pirates, a drakon, lots of gunshot, mysteries, treason and deception.

Song of the Current stays true to the premise that promises a tension-filled and action-packed pirate tale. Not only was the plot line unpredictable, the heroine is equally fantastic and kickass. Although there are a few little spots that I'd have liked different and... less cheesy, I can't ask for a better pirate-themed novel than this one.

Caro is an easily likeable heroine. Although she does come off a little naive at first, she quickly grows into a fierce pirate lady who forces her own path without anyone telling her otherwise. Not only Caro, but Song of the Current also contains a lot of other independent women, like Caro's mother, who defies the social standards of the time and who is equally badass. Another element that I adored about this novel is the unpredictability of it. I like the idea of not knowing what's ahead and being surprised when it happens.The story itself is original and handled well, which is so RARE... I can't stress that enough. Caro also has a love interest that is a bit out of place when compared to the amount of badassery this novel has. Unlike Caro, he is not well-developed and there is a certain abruptness to his change that made it seem quite unnatural. But the romance between them is cute and slowburning, so I'm not exactly complaning here.

All in all, this is a great read for those who like an action-packed novel. I definitely recommend it, and I give this book a 4/5 Stars.

- Phuong, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Song of the Current will be available June 6.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Want by Cindy Pon (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Sunday, May 14, 2017 at 3:45pm

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite wear special Jin Corporation suits, protecting them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption, Zhou is determined to change things. With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying Jin Corp from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary. But against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is, or destroying his own heart?

Want is my very first book by Cindy Pon, and with a realistic take on what the future may very well look, it is definitely one to look out for. This sci-fi novel starts off a little rough, but as the story progressed, I became enamoured.

Though this is a fast-paced story, none of the storyline suffered, especially not its futuristic Taipei setting which was crafted in such a way that made me feel as thought I was right there with the characters. I was fully immersed in the setting and loved feeling as if this story couldn't have taken place anywhere else.

While I also loved the characters, and while Zhou and Daiyu had a few cute scenes, I'm not fully convinced of their romantic relationship. The progression was too fast and too trusting given the circumstances.

Overall I would give this book a 4/5 stars for Want's amazing setting and awesome storyline. Everything about this book stayed true to the sci-fi realm and definitely left me satisfied. You should all add it to your TBR list.

- Sabrina, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Want will be available June 13.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Now I Rise by Kiersten White (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Saturday, May 13, 2017 at 4:47pm

After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada Dracul is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants, and thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort. What Lada needs is her younger brother, Radu, but Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned a place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, Radu knows if Lada dies, he could never forgive himself. But if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

Now I Rise by Kiersten White is the sequel to Now I Darken, so let me start off by formally saying that I did enjoy this book a lot more than the first. The author made up for the areas the first book were lacking in this text, and stepping back into this world felt right. The history of the lands were mixed into the story telling process and filled-in the information I needed to enjoy this book. With the history and story better unfolding, I felt like there was more meaning to this book and the characters' actions. The characters were who they were in the first book, but evolved into better people in this one. The development needed for each character was accomplished, making them easier to connect with.

Along with the thickening plot, we are also introduced to astounding new side characters. My new favourite has to be Cyprian. This character is so awesome and made the story even more awesome. I also really enjoyed Nicolae, another awesome character I connected.

Overall, if you had second thoughts after reading the first book, my suggestion would be to pick this one up with a clear mind. Questions are answered and the world unfolds to even greater stakes. I would highly recommend Now I Rise because it really is my favourite of the two. I would rate this book a 4.5/5 stars.

- Sabrina, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Now I Rise will be available June 27.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Dreamfall by Amy Plum (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Thursday, May 04, 2017 at 11:03am

Absolutely amazing! I started and finished Dreamfall in two days and it's STILL on my mind, even after I've read a few books since. There were so many aspects of this novel that peeked my interest, but despite that, the nightmares were probably my favourite part of the book. They were thrilling and absolutely horrifying. Each dream was unexpected and different than the last, and creepy in its own way. I found myself freaking out along with the characters. What an experience!

As I mentioned, there are many different parts to this novel. It was cool seeing the medical side of the situation, while also knowing what was happening to the patients subconsciously. It really focused on the different conditions the patients had. Before reading this, I knew vaguely of the different challenges, but I didn't know what they actually were. Take dissociation for example; Cata dissociates when she's either in a traumatic situation, extremely frightened, or emotional. It's how she copes with scenarios she can't handle, and it happens accidentally. It was interesting reading about this from the person's perspective, and it helped me understand what it was like.

It was also intriguing that we learned about each patients' past in portions and not all at once. It added suspense not knowing who they were and what had happened to them. And like any great book with a sequel to follow, it ends in a major plot twist. Well, many actually, and they aren't even obvious. I only saw one of them coming, and the rest were completely out of the blue (but made sense). Overall, I'd rate this book a 10/10. I literally recommend this to everyone.

- Lauren, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Windfall by Jennifer E Smith (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Monday, May 01, 2017 at 5:21pm

Windfall is a predictable novel about luck and the taste of first love. How would you react when fortune come knocking? Alice, doesn't have to because the winning lottery ticket she bought was for her best friend and long time crush, Teddy. Teddy who has a father that gambled all of his family savings away, who has a reputation for breaking hearts, who has promised to never change when he becomes a millionaire. We all know how that goes.

I read somewhere that if a book is selling a premise about winning a lottery, your mind goes to a certain place, a place that you hope said book didn't go to. Alas, Windfall was just as predictable as I've imagined. Not that it was a bad book, I just lost interest in it very quickly. The cast of characters didn't do much to hold me back, it was hard for me to develop a connection for them all. Alice is so insistent in being the nice girlfriend next door, it's annoying. Teddy is made to be a jerk but he turns out better than Alice does. He isn't being a jerk for the sake of being one, the reason of his actions are more realistically justified. Leo, Alice's gay cousin is properly the only ray of sunshine in this novel. Yet he is such a background character with little to no dimension that he fell flat for me.

The relationship and issues that Windfall deals with are properly the only aspects that saved this book for me. This is right in Jennifer E. Smith's domain. Besides the stuff with Teddy's newly found wealth. She doesn't rush by the fact that Alice feels out of place in her aunt's family, how Teddy's dad never comes back, even how Leo decides to abandon his dream to be with his boyfriend. No, she finds solutions to work around these issues and attemps to wrap them up in the end. The solutions may not be understadably perfect, but those attemps are nicely done. Even Alice and Teddy's relationship manages to be quite adorable. With no connection to neither of their charactes, they still made me giggle at school while reading like a crazy fool. I give this book a 3/5 Stars.

- Phuong, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Windfall will be available May 2.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up
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