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The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Saturday, Jun 10, 2017 at 4:06pm

The Love Interest is a mixture of YA contemporary and sci-fi. The Love Interest Compound, a secret organization, finds abandoned or unwanted kids, and then educates them in the "arts" of seduction and deception. When the right time comes, these foundlings become spies whose main purpose is to acquire information from particularly special people (e.g. celebrities, politicians, and more). Caden and Dylan, the main protagonists, are assigned to "court"Juliet, a science prodigy. This is not your typical love story, because Juliet can only pick one boy and whoever loses is obliged to prepare himself for the afterlife. They must compete for her affection and the loser will be incinerated. However, something unexpected happens, Caden finds himself developing feelings for none other than his rival.

The concept was interesting enough for me to stick around, and I'm happy to say that I'm glad about that choice. It was a roller coaster full of laugh-out-loud moments and fangirly-ness. This book parodies the cliche love triangle usually found in YA novels and subverting from that traditional trope. (Love Triangle briefly explained: *usually* there's a 'Nice, boy-next-door-type-of-guy' (Caden, in this case) and then there's the 'brooding, mysterious bad boy' (Dylan). We then have a girl that can't make up her mind and is a speshul,speshul snowflake. The two guys fall for the same girl at the same time, thus causing a lot of petty high-school drama). My only complaint is Caden, one of the main characters and our narrator. I don't think it was the best decision to have Caden as the lone narrator, since he lacked the charisma needed to drive the novel's narrative and his voice was as bland and unremarkable as his love interest character was supposed to be. It would have been good to get Dylan's perspective to shake things up a bit. Overall it's a fun read. If you're looking for something different and new, definitely pick this up.

- Yen Anh, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Thursday, Jun 08, 2017 at 6:48pm

First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy was astounding and thought-provoking, much like her other two novels, The Creeping and The Telling. Although they are all contemporary thrillers, First We Were VI had elements and themes I've never before witnessed in one of her novels.

This work of art is about a group of four friends who become a cult in order for their friendship to last 'forever' and to take action for the injustice occurring in their town. It's the characters themselves that surprised me though, rather than the whole cult idea. As expected, and stated in the back description, the characters become more power-hungry, blood-thirsty and dark as the chapters pass. Each character had a painful and twisted history that led them to who they were. Izzy, the main character, had been traumatized ever since she found a body when she was younger and the police didn't help. She was literally scarred for life and could never put "Goldilocks"  out of her mind. This event made her obsessive, shy and quiet. Those aren't necessarily bad qualities to have, but with her explosive passive-aggressive behaviour, she was like a ticking time-bomb.

First We Were IV was a fun and somewhat easy read. The only problems I actually had with it was deciphering what happened in the end (it wasn't explained clearly) and my connection to the characters. As hard as I tried, I couldn't for the life of me feel something for them. It was like I was in a protective bubble separating me from their emotions. If I could've just broken through, I would've been in harmony with Izzy, Harry, Graham and Vivian and completely understood them. Nevertheless, I'd definitely recommend this precious novel, especially to fans of her other novels or just thrillers in general.

-Lauren, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

First We Were IV will be available July 25.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Roar by Cora Carmack (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Wednesday, Jun 07, 2017 at 6:41pm

I am always wary going into a new fantasy read because sometimes the first in a series can fail. Sometimes readers experience a textbook and it can ruin their experience for the rest of the book. Roar is not one of these books. The characters are well-developed and the story itself is very well written. Cora Carmack does a great job showcasing this first book in the Stormheart series.

This is my first book by Cora Carmack and it really did introduce me to her unique writing style. The pace of this story is a good fit for what's going on and everything that takes place. It has a well-developed theme throughout the novel and I was enthused throughout my whole read. Never was I ever bored or confused with what direction the story was going in. Another great aspect to this read are the characters who were all entertaining and easy to relate to.

In conclusion, I highly recommend this read to those who enjoy the YA fantasy genre, and for those who have enjoy Carmack's writing in the past. This book is an excellent start to a well-written fantasy series. I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars

- Sabrina, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Roar will be available June 13.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Monday, Jun 05, 2017 at 5:44pm

Louna also doesn't believe in true love. Her mother and godfather are partners in the business and thus she has witnessed all sort of weddings; even their behind-the-scenes. This, alongside an emotional scar of her own, makes her extremely cynical about the existence of happily-ever-after. That is until Ambrose shows up, a flirty, charming temptation that just may make her think otherwise.

Once and For All is a humorous yet bittersweet contemporary, with a surprising depth of reality that had me fall in love with it since page one. I found myself so heavily invested in the story that the few flaws I encountered hardly affected how much I adored this book. Sarah Dessen does a wonderful job introducing the reader to the wedding planning business, how stressful it is and the ironic reality of how weddings are often far from the presentation of true love that we thought them to be. Louna herself undergoes a major character development, from being entirely cynical to becoming more understanding and acceptance. Ambrose is admittedly my favourite character in the book, sure, the guy is joking and flirting around a lot but "there is a method in his madness", so to speak. And he rescues a dog! It would be impossible for one to not love him then. May I add that the bickering between these two is just too cute for words.

There are also some moment in this book had me clutching my heart, especially the flashback to Louna's first love. It was really bittersweet, but I'm glad that she is able to grow and become stronger due to it. Louna's mother and godfather, William are surprisingly fun to read about. Besides them being supportive toward Louna, their humorous tones and jokes sure brighten the mood for me. All in all, Once and For All is yet another perfect summer read, I'm guilty to say that it was my first Sarah Dessen book, but it was definitely not the last. I give this book a 5/5 Stars.

- Phuong, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Once and for All will be available June 6.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Saturday, Jun 03, 2017 at 6:12pm

Desi Lee knows how carburetors work. She learned CPR at the age of five. As a high school senior, she has never missed a day of school and never had a B. There's one thing missing - she's never had a boyfriend. In fact, she's a known disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet. When the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides it's time to tackle her flirting failures. She finds her answer in the Korean dramas her father has watched obsessively for years - in which the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. Armed with her K Drama Rules for True Love," Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos. But when the fun and games turn to feelings, Desi finds out that real-life love is about way more than just drama.

Maurene Goo's I Believe in a Thing Called Love had my heart racing and emotions everywhere. Based on the description on the back and after reading the first chapter, I was thoroughly weirded out by Desi's insane and widely humiliating experiences with guys. They grossed me out (especially the one you read at the beginning) and had me embarrassed for her after just meeting her.

This novel is quite hard to describe with its continuously moving plot and weird scenes, but I guess the best words to describe it would be: bizarre yet interesting. I don't mean interesting as in It-was-just-okay, but rather that it was thought-provoking and easy to follow along with. Desi, the main character, was very complex. I felt like there were three different sides to her personality: how she acted around her dad, how she acted around her friends, and how she acted around boys. She would become a completely different person! When with her friends, she'd become this slightly bossy but funny and friendly overachiever. This side of herself was the one that came up with the Korean Drama Plan. This plan was what has my head spinning. Some steps made sense while others were creepy, self-centered and dangerous. Unlike Desi, her father was my favourite character. Appa was free-spirited, funny, and knew how to act in all situations. He is the ideal father that everyone wishes they have and just gets you completely. Scenes with him in it were never a dull moment, and, like I said, quite hilarious. Overall, it was s fun yet maddening read that left me a mess and at odds. If give it a 7/10.

- Lauren, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up
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