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Little Wrecks by Meredith Miller (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Thursday, Jul 20, 2017 at 6:04pm

Little Wrecks by Meredith Miller is about three disenchanted teenage friends, Ruth, Magda and Isabel. All three of them hate the town Highbone, where they live and dream of one day escaping. In the process, however, they end up hurting themselves and each other.

I was excited to read this book as I'd heard it was similar to Girl in Pieces and I'll Give You the Sun which are two of my all time favorite books. While I felt Little Wrecks wasn't as good as either of those books, I can see why people would compare them. Girl in Pieces, I'll Give You the Sun and Little Wrecks all deal with teenagers going through tough times and their writing styles are similar. All three books have very metaphor-heavy writing and I think if you liked Girl in Pieces or I'll Give You the Sun's writing style, then you'll probably enjoy Little Wrecks' too.

Honestly, my biggest issue with this book was Ruth. The book was told from the viewpoints of Magda, Isabel and Ruth and I disliked Ruth so much I had a hard time getting through her chapters. In the interest of not spoiling the book, I won't give specific examples of things Ruth did that irritated me, but I will say throughout the whole book, she had this annoying I'm so special, nobody understands me, my problems are more important and meaningful than yours attitude that I couldn't stand. Ruth often complained how she didn't like how her mom was more like a friend than a parent and she didn't like her mom's boyfriend. She endlessly complains about this issue. The thing is though, Isabel has a mother who is mentally ill and Magda has an absent mom and an abusive dad. Both Ruth's mom and the mom's boyfriend appear to love Ruth and are kind to her the whole book so it was very annoying when she acted like Magda and Isabel were better off than her on the parent front. I also didn't like how Ruth treated Isabel. Sure, Isabel was occasionally absentminded about Ruth's feelings, but Ruth responded by being hostile and dismissive to Isabel in almost every interaction they had. I could probably overloook all of Ruth's faults if she had changed and developed throughout the story and realized that her problems are not the end of the world and she isn't more special than anyone else. BUT SHE DOESN'T! At the end she has the exact same attitude.

Ruth aside, I really liked Magda and found her to be very relatable and Isabel was also interesting. Those two kept me reading and interested. Overall if you like dark YA novels that don't have the stereotypical "happy ending" try out Little Wrecks.

- Niina, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

These Things I've Done by Rebecca Phillips (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Monday, Jul 17, 2017 at 9:48am

BEFORE: Dara and Aubrey have been inseparable since they became best friends in sixth grade. However, as they begin their sophomore year of high school, cracks in their friendship begin to form, testing the bond they always thought was unbreakable. AFTER: It's been fifteen months since the accident that killed Aubrey, and not a day goes by that Dara isn't racked with guilt over her role in her best friend's death. Dara thought nothing could be worse than confronting the memories of Aubrey, but she soon realizes it isn't half as difficult as seeing Ethan, Aubrey's brother, every day. Not just because he's a walking reminder of what she did, but because the more her feelings for him change, the more she knows she's betraying her best friend one final time.

I read the novel These Things I've Done by Rebecca Phillips. I give this book a 9/10. The quality of the writing was amazing and I loved the way that Rebecca Phillips had flash backs every two chapters until the part where you find out about the accident. The way that the flash back chapters work is that Dara blames herself for the accident and ever second chapter leads up to the day that Aubrey dies. My overall opinion of the book is that I love it and I would for sure read another book by this author. I would recommend this book to basically anyone who loves sad but romantic YA novels.

- Courtney, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

These Things I've Done will be available August 1.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

The Rattled Bones by S.M. Parker (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Sunday, Jul 16, 2017 at 4:03pm

The Rattled Bones is an atmospheric novel with a hint of mystery buried deep underneath. It follows Rilla Brae whose family lives in Maine, the novel focuses a lot on the sea and the people that make a living out of it. S.M. Parker has some lyrical prose that I thought was captivating. The novel itself was really interesting and refreshing at about 40 pages in, until I hit the mark where it starts to drag, as in nothing new is happening and we're going in circle kind-of-drag. The promise of a possible ghost appearance was what keep me pushing to be honest. Satisfactory wise, I thought the author did a great job in that regard, I literally had chills down my spine at several specific scenes.

Rilla is your typical tough heroine, not that it is a bad thing. She does have that "my father is dead so I must blame everyone" syndrome though, but not as severe. I couldn't stand her romance with the boyfriend, the author is clearly ambitious to make their relationship in to something more but it felt too draggy and angsty for my own liking. Otherwise, Rilla didn't stand out for me as a character but I think most people will grow fond of her. I am grateful that the "mystery", when solved is something valuable I'm taking away from this novel. Racism buries deep in our history and it's because of stories like this one that unearth them back up again, reminding us where we went wrong. All in all, The Rattled Bones is a novel with good intention but its execution falls short. A 3/5 Stars read for me.

- Phuong, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

The Rattled Bones will be available August 22.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

The Secret History of Us by Jessi Kirby (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Saturday, Jul 15, 2017 at 4:26pm

When Olivia awakes in a hospital bed following a near-fatal car accident, she can’t remember how she got there. She figures it’s because she was in a coma for a week, but as time goes on, she realizes she’s lost more than just the last week of her life—she’s lost all memory of events that happened years ago. Gone is any recollection of starting or graduating high school; the prom; or her steady boyfriend Matt. Trying to figure out who she is feels impossible when everyone keeps telling her who she was.

The Secret History of Us is your generic I-lost-part-of-my-memory-and-now-things-have-changed type of novel. It was a good read, but just that. It wasn't very exciting; it lacked the drive that makes you want to finish the book. I stayed until the end though, thinking that maybe, just MAYBE the plot might pick up a bit or something might pique my interest. No such luck. The ending was satisfying and decent enough, I just wish there was something more. Maybe a bigger, more extravagant plot twist, or a more in-depth examination of the accident.

- Lauren, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

The Secret History of Us will be available August 1.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Changes in Latitudes by Jen Malone (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Thursday, Jul 13, 2017 at 1:52pm

Cassie, the protagonist, is suffering because her parents just got divorced and her life is kinda falling apart. Her mother comes up with the idea to go on a 4 month sailing trip to Mexico as a "family". The trip is with Cassie, her brother Drew and their mother Elise. On this trip Cassie meats Jonah, a 20 year old sailor who has parent problems like Cassie. The two grow very close and eventually end up dating.

Changes in Latitudes was very well written, but had a few honest mistakes with a word missing or a grammar mistake, but I get that it is not corrected yet so it's well done! The storyline had just enough drama but the right amount of reality as well. This novel was for sure one of my favourite Two Thumbs Up books! And I will for sure read more of Jen Malone's books in the future! I would recommend this book to anyone with a sense of humour as well as a heart to read real life romantic novels. I give this novel a 8.7/10.

- Courtney, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Changes in Latitudes will be availble July 25.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up
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