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Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Sunday, Feb 05, 2017 at 11:16am

$24.99 Add to Cart

This book held me captive as the story unfolded before my eyes. I will say that while certain aspects of the book felt a little predictable and I saw somethings coming, it didn't affect me falling in love with this story.

I think my most favourite part of the novel was Alosa and Riden. Each character was special in their own way. Each had brilliant sarcasm and quick responses sure to leave the other speechless. I always looked forward to the interviews Riden conducted with Alosa to find out more information about the Pirate King himself. I also really enjoyed Alosa as a character. She was incredibly badass and knew how to hold her own. She was the captain of her own ship, afterall. Overall, I very much enjoyed the prospects she brought to the story. Riden was also a an interesting character on his own. He was brilliant and different from all the other pirates on the ship. He showed compassion for Alosa, but he was also stern and questioned her.

All in all, I would give this book a 5 out of 5 stars for its pirate-themed, action-packed storyline that didn't focus around romance, but still contained a nice element of it. The characters were executed brilliantly and the plot flowed in a way that allowed for an easy, non-confusing read. I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy a good pirate read with a devilishly handsome male protagonist and a strong leading female.

- Sabrina, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Daughter of the Pirate King will be available February 28.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Freeks by Amanda Hocking (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Saturday, Feb 04, 2017 at 6:41pm

I've been a huge fan of Amanda Hocking since I picked up Switched back in 2012. I've read her Trylle Series, her Watersong Series, and I've even picked up her Kanin Series, although I haven't read them yet. So when Freeks was announced, I obviously had to get my hands on the book. McNally Robinson's Two Thumbs Up program came to the rescue, just like usual. 

Freeks ended up being something completely different than what I was expecting, but nevertheless I found myself really enjoying it. Where I expected a story almost completely based on Carnival life, the story was instead focused on people with exceptional abilities and the surrounding town where the Carnival sets up. It was really intriguing to see all these different abilities the people had, along with being able to learn about the different mysteries surrounding the town. 

It took me roughly half the book to realize that the book took place in 1987. Most of the time, you find that newly released books either take place in the present or in an obvious time where things are almost completely different like, in the Wild West or in the future. With Freeks, you still get the feeling that you're in the present, but with a lot of little things that are different. You'd think that the tarot card headers with the date on the front or even the way the characters dressed would have tipped me off, but apparently not.

Once you paid attention to it, you began to notice a lot of minor world details that Hocking put into the book. It was definitely a time period I'd like to find more YA books set in. Although the book is a standalone, I felt like the book could have also been a series. With the way things ended, I feel like the characters still had a large mystical world to discover. If Amanda Hocking decides that she wants to continue the series, you'll find my name #1 on the list to read the next one. Filled with magic, creatures, and tattoos, Freeks was just what I needed to settle my paranormal book love. I can't wait to see what Amanda Hocking has in store for us next. 

- Stephanie, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Thursday, Jan 26, 2017 at 8:57pm

Empress. Rhee, also known as Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an, is the sole surviving heir to a powerful dynasty. She’ll stop at nothing to avenge her family and claim her throne. Fugitive. Aly has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. But when he’s falsely accused of killing Rhee, he's forced to prove his innocence to save his reputation – and his life. Madman. With planets on the brink of war, Rhee and Aly are thrown together to confront a ruthless evil that threatens the fate of the entire galaxy.

Okay so I feel like I should give a warning in advanced, I am a sucker for anything space related. When I saw this book my inner fan girl freaked out. This book lived up to my expectations and just a bit more. There were a couple thing that bothered me, however the majority of the greatness took over. I'll get my minor complaints over with before getting to the fan girl. I found the main character to be a lot older then what her age was put at. Which wasn't a bad thing, it's just the age given didn't match the voice. Rhi felt much more mature for her age then just turning 16, otherwise she was brilliant. The only other thing I had a issue with was the beginning of the story. The plot had jumped in right away and it enticed from the start so I didn't feel like I understood what was going on right away. It took me a little bit to adjust. The storyline itself was really good. It was action packed and unique. I really thought the idea of the "cubes" was well explained and it felt  like it could very well be a thing in today's society. The descriptions and setting were all very well written as well. Another thing I must rave about are the characters, they were so fascinating and easily loved: I adored Aly, I found him humourous and easily likeable.

In conclusion this would have to be my first favourite read the year. I've read a couple book, but none of them really resonated with me like Empress of a Thousand Skies did. I would give this book a rating of 4/5 stars. 

- Sabrina, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Empress of a Thousand Skies will be available February 7.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 3:55pm

Yes. YES. YAASSSS!
So, not going to lie, I went into this book pretty hesitant. Historical fiction just doesn’t really appeal to me, I’m not into the runaway/lost/kidnapped princess trope, and this book seemed to reek of bad romance. But somehow—despite my reluctance—I ended up picking this ARC up. I didn't expect much. I was just going to try a little bit and see how it went, feeling confident that it would be crappy and I would be right. But I GOT SCHOOLED.

I didn’t warm up to Lesley Livingston’s writing style (which was a disappointment), BUT I love what Livingston did with Rome’s complicated history. This is a very plot-driven novel that takes place in Rome during the Cleopatra-Julius Caesar era. Rome is a truly magnificent city with an unforgettable past. The fact that this book is revolves around gladiators—no, female gladiators—intrigued me. Livingston did some research, and it is historically accurate that female gladiators existed. YES! That fact alone helped me love this book a bit more.

So we start off meeting Fallon, daughter and princess to a proud Celtic king. Fallon attempts to do something called the Morrigan Flight, an incredibly dangerous task that is completely reckless. Right away, we see a glimpse of Fallon’s feisty character. I appreciate Fallon's strength as a heroine who commands our attention and holds our love, whilst still being what some would consider unlikable. Fallon is then kidnapped by a group of slavers who sell her to an exclusive school for female gladiators. She now must prove exactly what she is worth; a warrior that will bow to no one.

This book is on the slow side when it begins, but let me tell you, IT IS EPIC. We have an amazing female friendship going on, an important sisterhood and, come on, it’s basically a school for female fighters! Think Vampire Academy meets The Hunger Games. I mean, this book has some serious Hunger Games vibes!

The romance was also a minor sub-plot (Thank God! Too many authors base their books off of romance when the premise of the book promises something different). I am happy to say this is a historical fiction (maybe fantasy) with romantic elements, not the other way around.

I give this book a 4/5 stars. So to wrap up, if you’re a fan of historical fiction and kick-ass women, this is the book for you.

- Yen Anh, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

The Valiant will be available February 14. 

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

How to Break a Boy by Laurie Devore (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 6:56pm

How to Break a Boy is a drama-filled, yet pure and raw portrayal about what is it meant to be "popular" in high school. Olivia Clayton has always been the second best, and Adrienne is always at the top of everything. Adrienne is the best friend that Olivia constantly wants to please, no matter the cost. The drama begins after a family tragedy and Olivia's discovery of the affair betwren Adrienne and her boyfriend. Olivia is left questioning every decision she has ever made, the question stands: will she be able to get out of the shadow of her formal, mean girl self?

Okay, that sounds very cliche but this book is not like that at all. It is basically like an emotional rollercoaster ride if you want a better description. Don't let the bright and happy cover fool you though, and go read it because it's very good! I connected with Olivia on a spiritual level. Her character development was on point. It was very gradual too, which I liked. She doesn't suddenly convert from bad to good on the first page, but the futher I read the more I can tell that she is slowly changing her view and opinion on certain matters and that is how I expected every character development to be like. Although, I must say that I get frustrated with Olivia's bad side pretty easily. But comparing this with how much I adored her in the end, I think the author had done what she meant to do. How to Break a Boy is definitely a character driven story. Besides Olivia, every other character was fleshed out in their entirety. As mean as she is in the book, I thought Adrienne's character was very interesting. She is so much more crazy and complex and she isn't being mean for the sake of being mean. The romance between Olivia and a certain "golden boy" was something else. The uncertainty and tension between the two of them lasted the entire book, I've never encountered something like this and it was great to see how the romance get resolved properly in the end.

I won't talk much about the plot, just know that it is one of those mean girl stories that is properly done! I went in expecting something between drama and a light read. Instead, I came out as a mess. I just couldn't turn the pages fast enough. I give this book a 4.5/5 Stars!

- Phuong, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

How to Break a Boy will be available January 31.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up
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