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Midnight Beauties by Megan Shepherd (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

Monday, Sep 30, 2019 at 9:01pm

Anouk and her friends are beasties, but unlike her friends Anouk is the only one who came out of the battle of Montelimar human. With her friends stuck in their animal forms and imprisoned by her worse enemy prince Rennar, Anouk is forced struck a deal with him. She must go to the cottage in the forest of Bavaria to become a witch. Anouk soon realizes that their is more at stake than her fellow beasties.

I really enjoyed Midnight Beauties. I could hardly put it down. My favorite characters are Cricket and Hunter Black. I give this book a 4 out of 5.

-Jubliee, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells (from a Tow Thumbs Up reviewer)

Saturday, Sep 28, 2019 at 11:24am

$24.99 Add to Cart

STOP. I know what you’re doing. You’re thinking Jeez...Shatter the Sky's cover sucks I should move on because judging books by their covers is what readers do. I’m with you on that, friend. But hear me out, okay? And... STOP. Now that I got you interested, you’re going to read this book’s synopsis because it is shorter than whatever I’m rambling about and see what’s up, don’t you? Well, as a veteran around here (read: the girl who has read this book), I’d highly recommend that you not do that. Instead, I’ll guide you the exact quote by the publisher that got me into this book, and that somehow made the book more enjoyable for me than whatever that spoilery and no fun synopsis was doing. Are you ready? “Maren (the book’s heroine) sets out to rescue her kidnapped girlfriend by stealing a dragon from the corrupt emperor in this ‘angry feminist bisexual dragon YA fantasy novel." I feel like most of the contents in that quote should be bolded, all-capped, and rainbow-underlined . You know the ones that I’m talking about. But... if you are somehow still not convinced that Shatter the Sky can... shatter your sky like it did mine, I suppose I’ll throw in a little something while trying to not side-eying you as I do so. (Spoiler: I failed).

Maren is such a joy of a narrator. I’d happily shove all my love and supports her way. She’s literally the walking embodiment of the saying, “Afraid but doing it anyway”. Do you know that feeling when you think you’re just a second rate person and therefore never good enough for whatever you want to become? That’s Maren. But oh, does she prove these doubts wrong. The girl is brave and fierce; she literally goes to hell and back for her girlfriend, and her determination to get Kaia back in her arms no matter what happens is just *chef kiss*. Sev is another major player in the story, one that heavily exudes that walking-disaster-but-in-a-good-way vibe. I can’t say much about him but I thoroughly enjoyed his interaction and chemistry with Maren. And did I mention... wonderful bi rep? Sapphic pairing? DRAGONS (and a good political discussion surrounding their “enslavement”)? An utterly original/captivating plot?

One set back of this book (surprising, I know) is that I would like to see more of Kaia and Maren’s interaction. To my disappointment, I feel somewhat detached from their attachment. On one hand, I’m totally rooting for their reunion but on the other, I didn’t find myself screaming or going to war for their happiness (as one usually do, of course). However, I imagine that this will change in the anticipated sequel.

I still have thoughts but I’m running out of energy to translate them into human language so I guess you’re reading this book and seeing this world and these characters for yourself. I would highly recommend it this book.

-Ella, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

The Surface Breaks by Louise O'Neill (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

Thursday, Sep 12, 2019 at 8:57pm

$24.99 Add to Cart

The surface breaks by Louise O’Neill is a reimagining of the little mermaid. Readers are swept into the life of the Muirgen, Gaia, daughter of the sea king and the decidedly most beautiful. At 14 years old she is promised to Zale who is 40 years old. But like her late mother, Gaia is curious about the unknown world around her, the world she lost her mother too. So when her 15th birthday comes Gaia travels to the surface where she sets sight on a human named Oliver and it's love at first sight. Without thinking, Gaia saves Oliver’s life but must rush back home to save her own. As the year passes and Gaia thinks only of Oliver, she sets out to see the sea witch Ceto, who grants her legs for a month so that Gaia can live among Oliver. Giving up her voice and her life In the sea, Gaia travels to the surface once more, but as a human who’s every step is cursed to feel horrible internal pain. As the month comes and goes Gaia and Oliver gain a relationship, but not the one Gaia gave up her life for. Without any way of sure communication Gaia had no way of telling Oliver how she felt, which paid the price.

The Surface Breaks is a unique perspective of a young girl interested in more than the life cut out for her, and curious about the world around her. This book leaves you on the edge, feeling hopeful for Gaia’s future but more nervous with each passing day. It also leaves you with that feeling of “so close” as Gaia unravels the life of her late mother and her connection to this forbidden land. It makes you want to scream at Oliver and the people of the surface.

Although this is not your classic happily ever after, this book leaves you shocked from its unpredictable ending and just wanting more.

-Sophia, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Anything But Okay by Sarah Darer Littman (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

Thursday, Sep 05, 2019 at 7:55pm

Stella lives in a military family. When her brother Rob comes back from the US Marines in Afghanistan, he is not the Rob that Stella once knew. He’s constantly angry and moody. Stella really wants to help Rob get things back to normal. However, one day at the mall Rob got really angry and punched one of Stella’s classmates in the nose. Stella on one hand, does not want to tell her best friend Farida of all this chaos worried that she’ll get sucked into all of it. Stella on the other hand, wants to share her situation with her friend. While the aftermath of the fight continues trending, she will choose to make a difference by running for class president and hiding from her emotions.Read the book to learn more.

I really liked Anything But Okay. Every chapter started off strong and I gained interest from it having a springy start!

-Rebecca, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Ziggy, Stardust and Me by James Brandon (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

Saturday, Aug 31, 2019 at 4:23pm

Ziggy, Stardust and Me hurts and it is not gentle with its punches. Reading Ziggy, Stardust & Me was like having my head jammed under pit black currents, with nothing but the feeling of suffocation and helplessness for company. It was unpleasant and I don’t want to experience any of it again, but also I do because nothing is more blinding than drowning in the dark. I’ll be brief for this one, Jonathan’s, our narrator, voice is so fervent, brilliant, and weightless. He led me through such a wild range of emotions, you name them, I experienced them. At some point the words on the page sizzled and morphed into an actual human-shaped being.

Brandon is a master at characterization, for him, my hat is off and my wig is somewhere on the moon. I don’t think I’ve fully stumbled across a Native American character on the page before (I have my finger-crossed that the foreseeable future will be very different). I found myself once again in debt to Brandon for Web. What to say to a boy who claws and fights and tears his way out in life? What to do when life doesn’t spit on you like it does him and is actually some kind of nightmare that you can wake up from while he is stuck in a broken record that loops and loops? For Web, I want to shower him with love. I want to glue him on a cloud and feed him nothing but cotton candy. But who am I kidding, Web probably choose to escape to space instead, where he’ll wait until the Earth exploded to come back and laugh at us all. Jonathan and Web is an electric current that builds and builds, I was utterly breathless every time these two are shoved together, perhaps even died a little; I couldn’t ask for a better pairing dynamic myself. To quote E. M. Forster regarding his novel, Maurice: “I was determined that in fiction anyway two men should fall in love and remain in it for the ever and ever that fiction allows, and in this sense, Maurice and Alec still roam the greenwood.” In Jonathan and Web’s case then, they too will be in love and happy together forever and ever under these pages. I shall have nothing less of it.

I highly recommend this beautiful piece of Art for anyone, though make sure that you are in the right headspace for it and noted that even if you do, it will still hurt. Major content warnings for homophobia, homophobic and racial slurs, domestic/physical violence, off-page parental death(s), mild depiction of systematic violence against Native Americans, pedophilia, non-graphic depiction of child sexual abuse. To make myself, and the rest of you (thank you for not being turned off by my sudden poetic explosion) feel better, I’ll leave this beautiful quote here. It’s not from the book but I’m sure the book and James Brandon himself would heartily approve and want you to know this, too.
“We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger.

We rise and fall, and light from dying embers

Remembrances that hope and love last longer.

And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love;

Cannot be killed or swept aside.

...

Now fill the world with music, love, and pride.”

— An excerpt from Lin Manuel Miranda’s Tony 2016 Acceptance Speech.

-Ella, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up
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