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And Then There Were Four by Nancy Werlin (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Sunday, Jun 25, 2017 at 1:56pm

When a building collapses around five teenagers—and they just barely escape—they know something strange is going on. Little by little, the group pieces together a theory: Their parents are working together to kill them all. Is it true? And if so, how did their parents come together—and why? And, most importantly, how can the five of them work together to save themselves?

And Then There Were Four is about five teenagers who are each wanted dead by their guardians for unknown reasons. It has a gripping storyline, but I had a problem with the way it was written. The author has a lot of run-on sentences, and while this wouldn't have been too bad, sometimes I couldn't understand what message Nancy Werlin was trying to get across. It was kind of confusing and made me have to read over each sentence a few times to understand it. Otherwise, the book was pretty fascinating.

The author tells the story from two perspectives: Saralinda and Caleb. Saralinda's chapters are told in first-person narration and Caleb's in second-person. I've only ever read a few novels from second-person perspective, so Caleb's portions of the book were kind of weird for me, but a good weird.

I'd definitely recommend this to people who can handle the change in perspectives and who like thrillers.

- Lauren, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Little Monsters by Kara Thomas (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Saturday, Jun 24, 2017 at 3:33pm

Filled with suspense and unexpected twists, Little Monsters is a dark thriller about deception, obsession and the danger of a toxic friendship. Kacey moves to Broken Falls with her father's adoring family to escape her troubled mom. As the new girl in town, she's soon welcomed into Bailey and Jade's circle. For a while, Kacey thinks her life has taken a turn for the better... until her friends suddenly grow strange and distant. Before she knows it, Bailey goes missing, rumours spread and Kacey is caught in the middle of it all.

I read somewhere that the prolonged suspense of this book makes the ultimate reveal at the end less satisfying. For me though, it was the opposite. It could be because I'm relatively new to the genre, but I had a great time reading this book. I feel that there is just enough mystery and question marks to keep me on my toes leading up to the ending (which was totally unexpected and creepy). I like Kacey as a narrator, and although she does make some questionable choices, her actions are ultimately justified and the relationship that she has with her new family is adorable and heartwarming. Bailey and Jade are something else entirely. I won't reveal too much but trust me that their complexities are crafted by the author with care. This is a 4/5 star-read for me and I definitely recommended it if you are a fan of the genre or looking for something to spice you up.

- Phuong, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Little Monsters will be available July 25.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Thursday, Jun 22, 2017 at 6:05pm

Saints and Misfits offers a realistic, thought-provoking yet humorous portrayal of a Muslim teenager—something I didn't know I needed until now. As an Arab Indian-American hijabi teen, Janna finds herself as a misfit in her father's new family and with her mom, whose attention is seemingly fixed on her brother, Muhammad. Not to mention the presence of saints and monsters wearing saint masks that further jumbles her life. Janna faces many other challenges as well, such as when a picture of her hair is posted online, or when her relationship with a non-Muslim boy manifests into something more. Janna's quirky voice is incredibly engrossing. Her experience may be foreign at first, but quickly becomes relatable and you can't help but cheer her on. Just like all teenagers, she is naive and flawed but eventually these traits are what help her mature; which, in turn, emphasizes the fact that Muslims, like us, are just normal people who do things like waking up in the morning and going to sleep at night.

Besides Janna, the cast of characters is another strong aspect of this book. Each is given a unique personality and development, although Janna is still my favourite character, I feel like the cast isn't overshadowed by her at all. From Janna's charming brother Muhammad, saint Sarah, her witty friend Tats, the insightful Mr. Ram to her parents and more. They offer comic relief and some of the most golden moment that you'll have to find out for yourselves.

This book is a 4/5 star-read for me and I highly recommended it.

- Phuong, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo: The Road to Epoli by James Parks (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Monday, Jun 19, 2017 at 6:41pm

Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo is a funny, and delightfully strange book about an animated skeleton that plays the lute, and his friend, a gelatinous cube of goo. After they are unceremoniously fired (and subsequently banished) from the fictional corporation Subterranean Pits and Lairs LLC, they unexpectedly embark on an soul searching journey led by a perpetually enraged imp through forrests full of (not really) vicious unicorns and (not really) tricky gnomes. It's really the skeleton, Rickety Stitch who's doing all the soul searching, and Goo, the cube of jelly playing the role of the ride or die friend and providing moral support.

The individual characters are brought to life by the vibrant illustrations and the insane story telling skills of the creators. I absolutely love all these characters, and of course the actual story. It's well paced, with little to no plot holes, with genuinely witty dialogue. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anyone who's fans of fantasy or anyone who likes stories with quirkier characters.

- Chloé a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Sunday, Jun 18, 2017 at 12:29pm

The cover of Dividing Eden is one of the reasons I originally picked up this ARC. Simplicity is one of my favourite book cover trends, so that was definitely a factor when I picked up this copy. When I look back on Dividing Eden, I will only have happy memories for the cover because in the end the book did not meet my expectations. Throughout the 336 pages, I was constantly bored and found the plot extremely predictable. At times I even wanted to give up because I just couldn't stand it anymore.

There was the vagueness that seemed to cling to everything in this book. There were many occasions throughout that information was given, but it was so vague that you couldn't help but wonder what the point was. Especially when they brought it up so frequently. One major point would be the Xhelozi who are continuously mentioned throughout the book and were considered a major threat, but in the end only had a minor role for a few pages. It was disappointing. 

Dividing Eden wasn't what I wanted it to be at all. I was disappointed and bored throughout the whole book, and it is more than likely that I will not be picking up the sequel when it releases. 

- Stephanie, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up
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