14.3.19

review and cover mani: the rule of one





The back jacket, from Goodreads:
In their world, telling the truth has become the most dangerous crime of all.
In the near-future United States, a one-child policy is ruthlessly enforced. Everyone follows the Rule of One. But Ava Goodwin, daughter of the head of the Texas Family Planning Division, has a secret—one her mother died to keep and her father has helped to hide for her entire life.
She has an identical twin sister, Mira.
For eighteen years Ava and Mira have lived as one, trading places day after day, maintaining an interchangeable existence down to the most telling detail. But when their charade is exposed, their worst nightmare begins. Now they must leave behind the father they love and fight for their lives.
Branded as traitors, hunted as fugitives, and pushed to discover just how far they’ll go in order to stay alive, Ava and Mira rush headlong into a terrifying unknown.
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It’s a real treat when I can read a book in a single sitting and with the crazier schedule I’ve had this year, I was extra appreciative to fall into THE RULE OF ONE so easily. With a quick pace and instant stakes, the tension began in the very first chapter because hello! This was a world where families could only have one child, but through resourceful means (thanks to their father’s lucrative and powerful government position) both Ava and Mira were able to attend school, trading places each day, and paying attention to any details the other would need in order to keep their switching seamless. And for eighteen years, they made it happen, until one fateful day when they were caught. 

*cues the dun dun duuuuuun*

Cover design by David Curtis


The fun part about THE RULE OF ONE was the lack of description in the back jacket. Vague teasers like “branded as traitors, hunted as fugitives” didn’t give any hints as to what obstacles the sisters would have to overcome and oooo wheeeee, friends, things got crazy. With only each other to rely on, the twins got a crash-course on survival and although there’d been enormous stress involved in trading places, their living circumstances were cushy and relatively protected, which meant they weren’t equipped for their off-grid journey. The setup for over-the-top tension (Where we they going? Would they make it? Who could they trust?) raised my expectations on how far Ava and Mira would be pushed, and while there were gruelling moments, they also caught a lot of breaks. It was still enjoyable, but I think there was a fair amount of untapped potential in regards to increasingly bleak complications that would’ve cranked my worry and anxiety up to eleven. A solid eight wasn’t too shabby, though. 



In university, I lived with a pair of twin sisters for years, and my favourite part of THE RULE OF ONE was the dynamic between Ava and Mira, because it reminded me of twins' special connection. Having a sibling reflect a mirror image can have ups and downs, and since these twins had to design their lives to be indistinguishable from each other, it opened up the floor for budding resentments. While on the run, Ava and Mira were finally able to be themselves (choosing different disguises instead of identical) but with frustrations and fear running high, it was only a matter of time before the sisters fell out of sync. Even while they fought to a survive against a government who wanted them dead, they never stopped being sisters, and their close relationship sometimes served as a help, but other times, a hindrance. Watching the ebbs and flows of their relationship gave THE RULE OF ONE a unique thread, which ultimately made the plot shine by adding complex emotion. 

All in all, THE RULE OF ONE was a fabulous read, and I’m psyched for the sequel THE RULE OF MANY, which hits shelves on May 7th. If you’re in the mood for some light dystopian YA fiction with a swift pace and dynamic characters, THE RULE OF ONE is the book for you!

Big thanks to Thomas Allen & Son for a finished copy!



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For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mâché

China Glaze – Boujee Board, Too Yacht to Handle, Celtic Sun and Werk it Honey (blended together for base yellow), Emerald Bae, Queen B

OPI – I Just Can’t Cope-acabana, matte topcoat

So Nailicious – needle brush



7.3.19

review and cover mani: until the day I die


The back jacket, from Goodreads:

If there’s a healthy way to grieve, Erin Gaines hasn’t found it. After her husband’s sudden death, the runaway success of the tech company they built with their best friends has become overwhelming. Her nerves are frayed, she’s disengaged, and her frustrated daughter, Shorie, is pulling away from her. Maybe Erin’s friends and family are right. Maybe a few weeks at a spa resort in the Caribbean islands is just what she needs to hit the reset button…

Shorie is not only worried about her mother’s mental state but also for the future of her parents’ company. Especially when she begins to suspect that not all of Erin’s colleagues can be trusted. It seems someone is spinning an intricate web of deception—the foundation for a conspiracy that is putting everything, and everyone she loves, at risk. And she may be the only one who can stop it.

Now, thousands of miles away in a remote, and oftentimes menacing, tropical jungle, Erin is beginning to have similar fears. Things at the resort aren’t exactly how the brochure described, and unless she’s losing her mind, Erin’s pretty sure she wasn’t sent there to recover—she was sent to disappear.

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Friends, I have an addiction to Emily Carpenter’s novels. Like for real, how is she not a household name at this point? The queen of Southern Gothic expanded her talents in UNTIL THE DAY I DIE by incorporating an emotional core into her signature suspenseful plot, which made this novel feel both fresh and familiar. A little slower in the beginning, the venture into Erin’s consuming grief showed a strong sensitive side to Carpenter’s voice, and once Erin arrived at the spa, the atmosphere closed in around her like a creepy, hostile force she’d likely be forced to overcome. Because, you know, this was an Emily Carpenter novel and her atmospheres are, more often than not, fairly predatory. 😈 


Cover design by Faceout Studio, Lindy Martin


Balancing Erin’s uncertain POV with her daughter Shorie’s, provided a grounded center to the story. Grieving in a different way, bottling up her emotions and lashing out, I felt for Shorie but didn’t question her stability. Presented as a smart, ambitious young woman who knew what she wanted, when Shorie suspected something was amiss, I believed her. 

So to sum up, there was Erin, rightly wary as she began the program at the Spa of This Place is Kinda Sketch and a thousand miles away, Shorie was sneaking around like some sort of STEM Jedi spy-in-training, trying to sort it all out. Even when others around her didn’t take her concerns seriously, Shorie’s firm and tenacious nature made her a force to be reckoned with because she knew if she didn’t put the clues together quickly enough, bad things were going to happen. Total.Bad.Ass.




An easy five stars, UNTIL THE DAY I DIE’s shocking twists had me taking screenshots so I could scream about them in DMs, and the ending made my mouth hang open in disbelief, followed by a two-hand fist pump because WHAT THE WHAT?! The wide expanse of emotional territory and level-ten WTFs makes UNTIL THE DAY I DIE a must read. This baby hits shelves March 12th, so do yourself a favour and pre-order Emily Carpenter’s latest smash.  




Big thanks to Emily Carpenter for sending me a finished copy, which obviously didn't sway my review because I don’t roll like that. 

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For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints Black Expressionism and Paper Mâché

China Glaze – Too Yacht to Handle, Def Defying, At Your Athleisure, Just a Little Embellishment

OPI – CIA = Color is Awesome, Stay Off the Lawn, matte topcoat

Essie – Satin Sister

So Nailicious – needle brush


1.3.19

review and cover mani: the homecoming




The back jacket from Goodreads:

What if everything you knew about the people you loved was a lie?

After the death of their absentee father, Aaron and Bridge Quinlan travel to a vast rainforest property in the Pacific Northwest to hear the reading of his will. There, they meet up with their mother and troubled sister, Franny, and are shocked to discover the will’s terms: in order to claim their inheritance they must remain at the estate for thirty days without any contact with the outside world. Despite their concerns, they agree.

The Quinlans soon come to learn their family has more secrets than they ever imagined—revelations that at first inspire curiosity, then fear. Why does Bridge have faint memories of the estate? Why did their father want them to be sequestered there together? And what is out there they feel pulling them into the dark heart of the woods?

The Homecoming is at once a gripping mystery, a chilling exploration of how our memories can both define and betray us, and a riveting page-turner that will have you questioning your very existence. 

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All right, so here’s the deal: THE HOMECOMING was bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S. Also, it was scary. Like, I wasn’t prepared for the terror that swiftly had me regretting the choice to read while alone in my house, which probably wouldn’t have been so terrible if we didn’t live in an area similar to the book’s setting. Meaning, woods and large windows that peer into the darkness, freaking me the eff out because wait did I just hear a scream outside WHAT'S OUT THERE?! In fact, I propose there should’ve been a subtitle to THE HOMECOMING, something along the lines of “Welcome to your nightmares.” Not so much in the gore department (although there was a bit) but more like a ghost story with Jack-in-the-box SURPRISES, and since I couldn’t predict said SURPRISES, the anticipation of fear was ever-present. 


Cover design by Sian Wilson


As far as the characters were concerned, the Quinlans didn’t take long to also freak the eff out. Being effectively held prisoner in a remote property with far more questions than answers, memories began to surface that presented even more questions. And the deeper they explored the woods, the creepier their circumstances became. Tension executed with a flawless pace, had I been a cat, my burning curiosity regarding what the hell was going on likely would’ve killed me. Luckily I’m not a member of the feline species, so I survived unscathed. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the Quinlans. 😈



The ending went in an entirely unexpected direction, and I was left feeling contemplative instead of petrified, even venturing into melancholy territory. Now that I’ve had time to reflect, it’s pretty astounding how Andrew Pyper created a tale that shocked me from a terror perspective, and also with the depth of emotion. Five stars all the way for this twisted little number, and a must read if you’re in the mood for a different sort of suspenseful thriller. Just make sure you close your curtains first. And get a bat. You know. To be prepared. 


Big thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for an ARC!






For this mani, I used:

OPI – In My Back Pocket, Stay Off the Lawn, and matte topcoat

ORLY – Storyteller (colorlab)

Glisten and Glow – Mother Terra

China Glaze – Kill ‘Em With Kindness and Street Style Princess

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mâché



21.2.19

review and cover mani: corpse & crown


The back jacket, from Goodreads:

From Alisa Kwitney comes a connected novel set in the same alternative Victorian England of Cadaver & Queen. Corpse & Crown follows the story of Agatha DeLacey, an Ingold nursing student who travels to London and uncovers a devastating secret about the country's Bio-Mechanicals. Inspired by the classic story of Oliver Twist and complete with a dashing Artful Dodger-inspired male lead, this retelling is a satisfying follow-up to Kwitney's clever and critically acclaimed young adult debut.

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Oh my, CORPSE & CROWN did not disappoint. In fact, it surprised me. Like a hydra beast of Frankenstein meets Oliver Twist (I’m laughing because for real what is this mash-up and how did it work so well 😂) this book proved to be much different than its predecessor in all the best ways. I have to admit the very short back jacket didn’t instill me with overwhelming confidence, because there wasn’t much to anticipate, but now that I’ve finished, I understand the vagueness. Because holy moly, things things got crazypants. A slower burn turned into glorious, unpredictable, and escalating surprises, each chapter wilder than the last. Had the back jacket mentioned any specifics, they would’ve been spoilers, so while the description doesn’t have much “hype,” don’t be deceived. There were a ton of bananapants-level twists and overlapping storylines. 


Cover design by Mary Luna


Leaving this review spoiler-free means I can't talk about the plot's awesomeness in any detail, but I can share that CORPSE & CROWN did a fabulous job of reinforcing the problem of ego in medicine. Combining a doctor knows best attitude, both from a patient and practitioner perspective, with a desire to push limits, results in limitless opportunities for danger because nobody speaks up, too afraid to contradict a superior--one who likely has a reputation for not accepting critique in a positive way. Without those checks and balances, the need to prove a hypothesis or test new methods and medications can all-too-easily eclipse patient welfare in the name of science. A Frankenstein retelling is arguably the most appropriate place to examine the darker side of medicine, and as a woman with chronic illness, I was here for itThe phrase “practicing” medicine exists for a reason, and those who believe they’re above failure and can bend science to their will are the ones to stay away from, because while you’re writhing in agony on an exam table, they’re likely viewing you as a subject instead of a person and mentally adding up all the potential organs they can harvest from your body. 

Okay that last part may only be applicable in CORPSE & CROWN but keep your wits about you, friends.  




This series remains my favourite Frankenstein retelling, and I really hope there are more books on the way because a lot of crazy stuff went down that left things wide open. While some readers have skipped the first and headed straight for CORPSE & CROWN, I wouldn’t recommend it. Yes, the POVs are different in the sequel, but the concept behind Bio-Mechanicals is explained in greater detail in the first, and there are several crucial scenes that give context for certain relationships. Also, CADAVER & QUEEN is awesome and you need to read it just because of the awesomeness.

Historical science fiction with smart dialogue and strong female characters, the CADAVER & QUEEN series needs far more attention than it's gotten, because HELLO THESE BOOKS ARE AMAZING AND YOU MUST READ THEM AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE SERIOUSLY JUST GO BUY THEM.

That is all.

The end.


Big thanks to HCC Frenzy for an ARC! 


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For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Paper Mâché and Black Expressionism

OPI – Lucky Lucky Lavender and matte topcoat

China Glaze – Boujee Board, I Sea the Point, Bizarre Blurple

Glisten and Glow – After Midnight and Dinner and Drinks

So Nailicious – needle brush





4.2.19

review and cover mani: the wicked king


The back jacket, from Goodreads:

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.


The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world. 

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Oh Jude and Cardan, how I’ve missed those two crazy kids. Only by crazy kids I actually mean ruthless and ambitious Faerie conquerors. Granted, one was more willing than the other, and in THE WICKED KING, the mess Jude and Cardan left in their wake came back to haunt them big time. Naturally, that was bad for them and awesome for readers because hello webs of deceit!


OwlCrate special edition: Throne art © 2018 by Toby & Pete | Crown art © Rost9/Shutterstock.com
Photo-illustration by Sammy Yuen | Jacket design by Karina Granda
Jacket © 2019 Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Holly Black is likely a member of the Fae herself, because her mind works on a higher frequency than mine. The true master of Fae trickery, with an uncanny ability to twist truths so they’re as close to lies as they can be, Holly Black outdid herself in THE WICKED KING. A series of terrible deals led to Jude and Cardan taking the throne, but each came with a price and holy cannoli, those prices were huge. Like a chessboard of betrayal and treachery, made more challenging by personal relationships and loyalties, each chapter had roughly 99 problems with few solutions in sight. The vast majority of those problems became Jude’s responsibilities to deal with, but what else had she expected when she assumed the role of puppet-master for a puppet who wasn't jazzed about his lack of autonomy?

The first half was a slower burn than I expected, because THE CRUEL PRINCE was essentially non-stop madness, but it set the stage for the rest of the story. Also, because this was the middle book, there needed to be some setup for future conflict, along with a deeper dive into Jude’s character. First person POV kept me inside her devious brain and I really enjoyed seeing her lust for power turn into an addiction. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and Holly Black did a great job of showing that shift because the truth remained that Jude was a mortal trying to control Faerie and, well, the Fae will always be a few steps ahead. Watching things unfold while getting more and more complicated had me burning through pages like a madwoman by the end, which was BANANAS. 




That’s about all I can say without spoiling the first book because it’s a series you simply must read and I don’t want to ruin a single glorious moment. If you want some fantasy goodness with a dark edge, look no further than The Folk of the Air series. Only approximately 355 days until #3. 

Also, and this is neither here nor there, but I couldn't help but sing a variation of Madonna's Material Girl while reading:

Cause you know that they are li-ving, in a Faerie world, 
but Jude is just a mor-tal girl...

Either you're welcome for this, or apologies for getting a song stuck in your head 😂




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For this mani, I used:

Essie – after school boy blazer

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mâché

Picture polish - instinct

China Glaze - Born To Rule and Chroma Cool

OPI - CIA = Color is Awesome, It's a Boy, and matte topcoat

Glisten and Glow - Mother Terra 





25.1.19

review and cover mani: no exit




The back jacket, from Goodreads:

A brilliant, edgy thriller about four strangers, a blizzard, a kidnapped child, and a determined young woman desperate to unmask and outwit a vicious psychopath.

A kidnapped little girl locked in a stranger’s van. No help for miles. What would you do?

On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.

Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.

Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?

Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.

But who can she trust?

With exquisitely controlled pacing, Taylor Adams diabolically ratchets up the tension with every page. Full of terrifying twists and hairpin turns, No Exit will have you on the edge of your seat and leave you breathless. 


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Holy shit this book. HOLY SHIT. I read it in less than 48 hours and my heart still hasn’t stopped pounding. Clearly an author who doesn’t shy away from making things hard for his characters, Taylor Adams created one seriously intense gauntlet of terror for Darby. Because yiiiiiiiikes, did things get dark. 

So. So. Dark. 

Cover design by Elsie Lyons.
Cover photographs © Dmytro Tskyhmystro/iStock/Getty Images; © sbayram/iStock/Getty Images (snow); © Lyu Hu/Shutterstock (lines on road); © Miloje/Shutterstock (texture).


A contained setting from the beginning, the blizzard acted like a literal snowglobe, trapping Darby and four other strangers in a random rest stop, miles from civilization. With no cell coverage, dwindling batteries, and the unexpected discovery of a child trapped in a dog crate, Darby had the hard choice of deciding whether or not to get involved. Like a glorified “what would you do” hidden camera setup, only without cameras and far more potential for violence. Relentlessly paced, NO EXIT followed Darby through her limited options, and took a character who’d rather do nothing and forced her to act. I seem to have a thing for reluctant protagonists, and Darby’s character growth within one terrifying night created a well-rounded story in what could’ve become the equivalent of a slasher flick. That’s my way of saying it was gory and full of SURPRISES, but there was more than external plot in play. I legitimately cared for Darby, which meant my heart was lodged in my throat for roughly 80% of this book.




So be warned, fellow readers, because NO EXIT is all sorts of violent—the sort of violence that made me cringe, unsure if I’d be able to go on. If you’re squeamish or shy away from gore, you’ll likely have a hard time with parts of the book, but it didn’t seem superfluous. Instead, the increasing violence cranked the tension to the point where I didn’t know who would make it out alive. That said, if you can handle Die Hard, you’ll be fine. 

Grisly but real, Darby was pushed far past her limits, which unleashed a fierceness that made her a force to be reckoned with and thank goodness or NO EXIT wouldn’t have been nearly as addictive. With more twists than a corkscrew (which would’ve made for a great weapon, actually) NO EXIT held me captive until the very last page, and is a fabulous choice for fans of darker thrillers that will likely give you nightmares. Five stars all the way. 

Trigger warning: mention of animal abuse.


Big thanks to HarperCollins Canada for an ARC!



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For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Paper Mâché and Black Expressionism

OPI – Big Apple Red, A Good Man-Darin is Hard to Find, matte topcoat

Essie – after school boy blazer

China Glaze – Street Style Princess and Werk It Honey

So Nailicious – needle brush


17.1.19

review and cover mani: freefall



The back jacket, from Goodreads:

A propulsive debut novel with the intensity of Luckiest Girl Alive and Before the Fall, about a young woman determined to survive and a mother determined to find her.

When your life is a lie, the truth can kill you

When her fiancé’s private plane crashes in the Colorado Rockies, Allison Carpenter miraculously survives. But the fight for her life is just beginning. For years, Allison has been living with a terrible secret, a shocking truth that powerful men will kill to keep buried. If they know she’s alive, they will come for her. She must make it home.

In the small community of Owl Creek, Maine, Maggie Carpenter learns that her only child is presumed dead. But authorities have not recovered her body—giving Maggie a shred of hope. She, too, harbors a shameful secret: she hasn’t communicated with her daughter in two years, since a family tragedy drove Allison away. Maggie doesn’t know anything about her daughter’s life now—not even that she was engaged to wealthy pharmaceutical CEO Ben Gardner, or why she was on a private plane.

As Allison struggles across the treacherous mountain wilderness, Maggie embarks on a desperate search for answers. Immersing herself in Allison’s life, she discovers a sleek socialite hiding dark secrets. What was Allison running from—and can Maggie uncover the truth in time to save her?

Told from the perspectives of a mother and daughter separated by distance but united by an unbreakable bond, Freefall is a riveting debut novel about two tenacious women overcoming unimaginable obstacles to protect themselves and those they love. 

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FREEFALL began in a risky way by dropping me into a plot already in progress. Sometimes, that abrupt start can leave me indifferent to the stakes, as my unfamiliarity with the characters means I don't care enough yet to worry about them. But a plane crash in the Colorado Rockies and Allison’s consequential journey of survival didn’t need much explanation in terms of worry. She was alone, unequipped, and unprepared for the arduous journey back to civilization, so kind of a no brainer in the stakes department. Jessica Barry didn’t stop there, though, and dumped an additional fear onto the playing field, as if surviving against the elements weren’t enough of a challenge. In the forefront of Allison's mind, the second she realized she'd survived the crash, her certainty she was being tracked meant she not only had to travel hundreds of miles, but needed to do it quickly in order to stay ahead of a looming threat nipping at her heels—a presence that would kill Allison just the same as a bear, wolf, or dehydration. *high fives Jessica Barry because yikes*


Cover design by James Iacobelli.
Cover photography © Sirachai Arunrugstichai/Getty Images.


So while it took a fair amount of flashbacks for Allison to share the reason behind her fears, I was riveted. At any moment, Allison could have died from any number of sources but oh my, that woman just kept on going. Admirable, for sure, but Allison wasn't a saint with clean hands, which actually made me admire her more. 

To balance Allison's super stressful chapters, her mother Maggie’s POV offered a grief-stained and slower-paced narrative. In the beginning, anyway (things got speedier as they went along). So much sadness had flooded Maggie’s life before Allison’s disappearance, which left her left fairly numb. Nothing like a child’s disappearance and possible death to either send you to bed for weeks or snap you out of your daze, right? Maggie’s desperation (and library savvy) had her doing things way outside her comfort zone, so really, both mother and daughter in FREEFALL were on their own high-stakes adventure where their very lives hung in the balance.

Yes. Both.




The way the story approached the truth behind what Allison had been doing during their two-year separation was executed flawlessly, in my opinion, because Barry threw down a heck-load of dots to connect, and the resulting bigger picture was impressively complicated. A few trope-ish characters created suspicion, no doubt, but even so, things got bananas by the end, and it didn’t matter if the chapter belonged to Allison or Maggie’s POV, I couldn’t turn pages fast enough. 2019 is already shaping up to be the Year of the Suspenseful Thriller, and FREEFALL has definitely secured its place among the best of the best. Five enthusiastic and survivalist stars!


Big thanks to HarperCollins Canada for an ARC!!




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For this mani, I used:

(Note: I had to mix this blue, so if you're in the market for a grey-purplish-blue, mix Man Hunt, Water-Falling In Love, after school boy blazer and a hint of white)

FingerPaints Paper Mâché and Black Expressionism

Essie – after school boy blazer

China Glaze – Man Hunt, Water-Falling In Love, and Chroma Cool

OPI – matte topcoat

So Nailicious – needle brush