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Who Killed Christopher Goodman? by Allan Wolf (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Saturday, Apr 29, 2017 at 3:29pm

Everybody likes Chris Goodman. Sure, he’s a little odd. He wears those funny bell-bottoms and he really likes the word ennui and he shakes your hand when he meets you, but he’s also the kind of guy who’s always up for a good time, always happy to lend a hand. Everybody likes Chris Goodman, which makes it especially shocking when he’s murdered. Here, in a stunning multi-voiced narrative — including the perspective of the fifteen-year-old killer — and based on a true and terrible crime that occurred when he was in high school, author Allan Wolf sets out to answer the first question that comes to mind in moments of unthinkable tragedy: how could a thing like this happen?

Who Killed Christopher Goodman is a very intriguing book from the start. Knowing that the book is a murder mystery, the suspense is there from beginning till end. Each chapter is just one step closer to finding out who killed him, and you just can’t wait to find out! The format and layout of the book is really unique, it switches perspectives a lot, but it’s fun to read. I think my favourite part of the book (as strange as this sounds) was the Author’s Note. It was then that I really realized I wasn't just reading some fictional murder mystery, it was based off of a true story. Reading about which parts of the book were fictional, and which were not, as well as about the real victim Ed Disney, was so touching. It made me sad, but it made me do a lot of thinking. Don’t read the Author’s Note before you’re done the book though! Overall great read, I would highly recommend.

- Martina, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 6:21pm

Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake and spending quality time with her parents. But when her mom's cancer reappears, Lucy falters-in her faith and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend pauses" their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp-one for troubled kids-Lucy isn't sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?

The Names They Gave Us was a heartbreak I was not prepared for. Emery Lord is amazing at making swoon worthy characters, and this book had it but it also had a deeper surface that was graced. It made my heart hurt. I cried twice over and still managed to fall in love with this book. The characters were amazing, and th story was well planned throughout the entire read. This book covers a lot about Lucy and staying but struggling to live by her faith. She is handed with temptations and dished the worst possible fates a teenage girl could face. She questions her God and wonders why hurt the people she cares dearly about. I love the meanings this story has to offer even if I am not a super religious person. But thats what made this book so good, even if you aren't a huge faith follower this book had important lessons to be learned and shared. So Emery did a tremendous job at illustrating just that.

The characters were also top notch, but thats something Emery Lord does well. She creates a range of characters who range in traits, and she makes unlikely situations turn likely. Each character spoke to me in a way that made me feel completely connected with the story and what was happening. Lucy was a tremendous character, she was strong but still struggled with making choices that could greatly effect her life. That however is how life is, and thats what made this book so real.

Overall The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord is another book to add to her great collection of fables. She knows how to tell a story and make readers connect with them in every way possible. I highly recommend this book to those who have read Emery's work before, and for those who like reading realistic YA fiction with very real characters. I would rate this book a 5 out of 5 stars.

- Sabrina, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

The Names They Gave Us will be available May 16.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Beck by Mal Peet and Meg Rosoff (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Monday, Apr 24, 2017 at 9:43am

Beck has had struggles in life, but he has lots more to come. Orphaned at a really young age, Beck is having a rough life. His dad is nowhere to be found and his mother is dead. He is sent to the Catholic Brothers in Canada and from there, he is shipped off to a farm where he is put to work. The family he is with treats him terribly, until one day Beck can’t take it anymore. With the little bit of money he has, Beck goes on an unbelievable journey across the great country Canada. Along the way, he has very hard times but also great ones. How will his journey end? Read Beck to find out!

I give this book 4 stars and I would recommend this to people who are adventure seekers. I like many things about this book, but my favourite is how this book is written. It is written so smoothly, you just want to keep turning the pages. I would recommend the book for readers that are 12 and up because there is some mature content. The book was surely amazing.

- Logan, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

A Million Junes by Emily Henry (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 11:12am

A Million Junes is a whimsical and refreshing read. The author does a great job blending a typical family feud plot with magical realism, the product being this beautifully written novel about love, grief, ghosts, magic, twists, and a "secret-turned-curse" that split apart generations.

Although, I can't say that I enjoyed the romance aspect of the book because it was too insta-lovey and that really puts me off. June is a loveable and sarcastic protagonist, but everything ends the moment she lays eyes on Saul, the guy that comes from a family that her family supposedly hates, and both instantly have crushes on each other.

Emily Henry does a great job handling other relationships however. June has a supportive best friend that doesn't come off as a sidekick, and their friendship is the perfect portrayal of girl love. June's stepdad is equally awesome. He is super supportive of June while she is still grieving her dad, and even tries to keep her father's legacy and memories alive. These kinds of relationships really made the book for me. They just give off such a positive vibe that I'm sure all will appreciate. 

All in all, the magical realism aspect of this novel was great to read aboutm but it could benefit a touch-up to make up for the draggy length and insta-lovey characters. 3/5 stars.

- Phuong, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

A Million Junes will be available May 16.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Vigilante by Kady Cross (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 10:35am

Vigilante by Kady Cross is a blunt, informative novel about rape. It focuses in on Hadley, whose friend Magda was raped at a party and later ended her life. Hadley seeks vengeance for her friend, and goes after Magda's rapists who went unpunished for their crimes.

My interest for this book was sparked because it seemed very similar to the MTV show, Sweet Vicious. It has the same idea, the protaganist is a vigilante going after rapists, except on a college campus. I understand that books and TV shows both have different challenges when it comes to properly portraying and handling heavy topics like rape, but both actually did so exceptionally well.

I didn't exactly like the writing style, because it comes off as aggressive and angry, which is totally justifiable, but makes it hard to read. Rape victims are more than people who feel constantly angry or scared, they're actual people. I just didn't see a whole lot of personalities that stood out, so while I didn't exactly connect with the characters, I did empathize with the ones who were hurting and angry. I just wish I could've connected with them on more levels and see them as real people.

If you're looking for something heavy, but also empowering, this book will do; but if you're looking for something that is heavy, empowering, and has great comedic moments at all the right times, Sweet Vicious might be the route you want to go.

- Chloe, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up
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