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One Cut by Eve Porinchak (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Thursday, Jun 15, 2017 at 5:41pm

On May 22, 1995 at 7 p.m. sixteen-year-old Jimmy Farris and seventeen-year-old Mike McLoren were working out outside Mike’s backyard fort. Four boys hopped the fence, and a fight broke out. Within minutes, both Mike and Jimmy had been stabbed. Jimmy died a short time later. While neighbors knew that the fort was a local hangout where drugs were available, the prosecution depicted the four defendants as gang members, and the crime as gang related. The accusations created a media circus, and added fuel to the growing belief that this affluent, safe, all-white neighborhood was in danger of a full-blown gang war.

The start of One Cut sucked! It didn't make sense to me why the fight was only half a chapter. So if you're going to read this book, I'm pre-warning you that One Cut is a slow, confusing book. I would give it a rating of 5/10 stars. I suggest this book to no one unless you like to read books about a trial in America that was boring.

- Elia, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Monday, Jun 12, 2017 at 4:18pm

We Come Apart is a very heartbreaking novel written in verse about friendship and love. The themes of immigration, racism, and bullying are very prominent in this story. It is about two troubled teens: Jess, whose family/home life is overshadowed by abuse, and Nicu, who is an immigrant from Romania to England. I would've loved this book, but I just couldn't fully immerse myself in the world. There were things that just irked me, and I couldn't get past those issues.

First off, I couldn't tolerate the writing. I felt so disjointed because of the verse. Maybe it's just me and that poetry/verse has never suited me, but I missed the detail of world-building (it's set in LONDON and it literally felt no different from any book that took place in the United States), and the description of characters and emotion and other things!

As the book progressed, I accepted the writing, until another problem bugged me. The characters. More specifically, Jess. Yeah okay, her life is awful and her home life is bad. I don't want to dismiss those facts, but god, she is such a brat! Like her character development is good, but it's just the fact that she is a bystander and at times a bit too cruel for my liking. Also, Jess seems so emotionless and empty at times that it just felt depressing to read on about her.

It goes the same for the ending! Yes, I understand that not all books have happy-go-lucky endings and characters, but that only works when there's an underlying message of hope and optimism! The ending feels so anti-climatic and... useless. My main confusion about this whole novel is that I don't really know what it is trying to say. 

All in all, I give it a 7.5/10. It is good, but I didn't really enjoy the style it was written in, and I don't fully understand what it was trying to achieve or the message it wanted to get across.

- Yen Anh, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Here Lies Daniel Tate by Cristin Terrill (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Sunday, Jun 11, 2017 at 9:56am

It seems too good to be true when Daniel Tate, missing since the age of ten, turns up on a snowy street in Vancouver six years later. When he tells the authorities who he is, Daniel is reunited with his overjoyed family. In time he’ll recover the memories he’s missing; all that matters is that they have him back. It’s a miracle, except for one thing: That boy isn’t Daniel Tate. A young con artist, this impostor has stumbled onto the scam of a lifetime. Daniel has everything he’s ever dreamed of—wealth, privilege, and most importantly, a family that loves him. Until he realizes that maybe someone knows what really happened to the boy he’s pretending to be. If he can’t uncover the truth, he could be next the next Daniel Tate to disappear.

This was an incredibly well-paced novel, really intense and thrilling. I think I went into cardiac arrest, like, twice. Christin Terill played me so many times, I felt like Boo Boo the Fool. Honestly though, this is a super gripping novel with a lot of twists. It's some Game of Thrones stuff, and you'll know what I mean when you read it. 

- Chloé, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

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
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