book review and cover mani: the lonely hearts hotel

I'm the sort of person who loves to make a list. Whether it be for cleaning the house, getting tax info together or planning a party, when all the boxes are checked, I ride that wave of endorphins like a majestic dolphin. In addition to being on Goodreads, I'm also part of the 50 Book Pledge. The two sites are similar, being they both help me keep track of the books I've read, while also seeing what my friends are up to, but the 50 Book Pledge has a major difference. Badges. Not every book has a badge, but some do. The site has a list of them. *glances back to the first sentence of this paragraph*

That's how I came to pick up THE LONELY HEARTS HOTEL. Because I wanted the badge (alllllll the badges, actually, haha!). It took me a little longer to read, due to the heart-hurting sadness, but it was also a phenomenal story and I'm excited to tell you about it. 


The back jacket, from Goodreads:

With echoes of The Night Circus, a spellbinding story about two gifted orphans in love with each other since they can remember whose childhood talents allow them to rewrite their future. 

The Lonely Hearts Hotel is a love story with the power of legend. An unparalleled tale of charismatic pianos, invisible dance partners, radicalized chorus girls, drug-addicted musicians, brooding clowns, and an underworld whose economy hinges on the price of a kiss. In a landscape like this, it takes great creative gifts to thwart one's origins. It might also take true love.

Two babies are abandoned in a Montreal orphanage in the winter of 1910. Before long, their talents emerge: Pierrot is a piano prodigy; Rose lights up even the dreariest room with her dancing and comedy. As they travel around the city performing clown routines, the children fall in love with each other and dream up a plan for the most extraordinary and seductive circus show the world has ever seen. 

Separated as teenagers, sent off to work as servants during the Great Depression, both descend into the city's underworld, dabbling in sex, drugs and theft in order to survive. But when Rose and Pierrot finally reunite beneath the snowflakes after years of searching and desperate poverty the possibilities of their childhood dreams are renewed, and they'll go to extreme lengths to make them come true. Soon, Rose, Pierrot and their troupe of clowns and chorus girls have hit New York, commanding the stage as well as the alleys, and neither the theater nor the underworld will ever look the same.

With her musical language and extravagantly realized world, Heather O'Neill enchants us with a novel so magical there is no escaping its spell.

It shouldn't have been a big shocker that a book set during the Great Depression, involving orphans, would be sad but wow, was THE LONELY HEARTS HOTEL ever sad. Like, I-don't-know-if-I-can-continue kind of sad. Yes, there were glimpses of how strong the human spirit can be, but it was also heartbreaking.

Side note: why aren't nuns the nicest people ever? I mean, they work for the Big Guy Upstairs, but aside from Maria and Mary Clarence, I have yet to read about a warm and cuddly nun (plus, I'm not sure that Mary Clarence even counts, which means Maria is the only one). They're mostly brutal disciplinarians who don't seem to like children in the slightest, and some are downright abusive. Who on earth put those sorts of nightmares in charge of children?! 

Anyway, as you can tell from my side note, the nuns in charge of Rose and Pierrot's orphanage are not of the Maria variety, which made their childhood extremely difficult to read. But the good news is their horrific childhoods served as a launching point for the two entertainers, and it had me rooting for them to a degree that bordered on painful. Because OMG, they deserved a better life. 

Jacket design by Grace Han. Jacket photographs ©
 Getty Images (Starry Sky), F.B. Johnson & Company C. 1985 (Woman Standing on Crescent Moon)

As the book continued, it didn't get much better. I mean, the awful nuns were gone, but Rose and Pierrot's lives were still filled with tragedy. If it weren't for the tiny flickers of hope (and the badge, haha), I would've put THE LONELY HEARTS HOTEL in my DNF pile. I mean, my heart can only take so much. However, there was another component of the book that kept my interest: the writing. Although heavy on the metaphors and similes, O'Neill created a magical, whimsical tone:

"On the front arch of an old abandoned bank there was a gargoyle of an angel lying on its back, looking up at the clouds in the sky, having lost complete interest in the world." <-- I mean, come on. A gargoyle is suddenly super interesting. That's some crazy-good writing.

Through death, drug addiction, prostitution, rape, miscarriages, and violence (a lot of violence), Rose and Pierrot remained somewhat detached. If you watch/have read The Magicians, there's a part of the heart--the one that holds pain, grief, and most of one's conscience-- called "shade." For me, Rose and Pierrot didn't have their shade. They went through life numb, to a degree. The world greeted them with agony, so they became accustomed to it. That was probably the saddest part of all, for me. However, I didn't pity Rose and Pierrot. Quite the contrary, I admired them. Chasing your dreams, no matter how many detours you take along the way and how many times you're told to forget them, is a quality that few possess. Despite every obstacle, those two kids reached for the stars.

So look, you may be wondering how the heck I can recommend this book to others, because it's such a downer. Frankly, I'm surprised myself, as I tend to stay away from novels like THE LONELY HEARTS HOTEL. It's graphic, in every possibly way, and despite what other reviews have said, I don't agree that fans of THE NIGHT CIRCUS would be into THE LONELY HEARTS HOTEL, but if you're looking for a book that challenges the way you see the world--that tears the blinders from your heart and shows you a human experience you'd rather believe doesn't exist--then this is the book for you. But, uh, have something super light and fun locked and loaded for afterwards. Trust me. 


For this mani, I used:

China Glaze - Queen B and The Outer Edge

OPI - Rollin' in Cashmere, Alpine Snow, and matte top coat

Fingerpaints - Black Expressionism

ORLY - Wild Wisteria and Charged Up

triangular makeup sponge, trimmed striping brush


book review and cover mani: company town

COMPANY TOWN is one of the quirkier books I've read in a while. It's more hard-core science fiction that my normal choices and I'm so happy I picked it up. The first few chapters were a challenge for me, because the world building happened quickly, and then I suddenly found myself halfway through and completely in love with Hwa--the greatest bodyguard who has ever existed.

*bangs awesome book gong*

The back jacket:

    Look at one of Go Jung-hwa's clients sideways, expert to end up on the floor with a broken arm and busted nose--if she's feeling merciful. 
    As one of the few people without bioengineered genetic enhancements, Hwa is part of a dying breed in the city-sized oil rig New Arcadia. But she's in peak physical condition and, combined with her speed and cunning, can easily go toe-to-toe with some of the most augmented men in town. After all, she's the best bodyguard employed by the United Sex Workers of Canada.
    When Lynch Ltd., a technological tycoon dynasty, purchases the entire rig, Hwa's talents and lack of any sort of altering attract their attention. They have a fifteen-year-old heir to protect, and Hwa fits the bill--any cyborg meathead can be hacked and rewired, but not her. It's an opportunity of a lifetime, especially for someone who's been living on the fringes of poverty her entire life.
    But when one of her former client's--and friend--dismembered body is found floating in the North Atlantic, Hwa finds her loyalties split between her past and future. And it looks as if the future came to collect in the present...


I cannot believe how much I loved COMPANY TOWN. The writing is razor sharp, political, provocative, and sometimes even playful. I read a few chapters while waiting in a doctor's office and couldn't help laughing out loud at Hwa's perfect responses--the sort of comebacks that I dream of saying. Hwa gives exactly zero fucks and I am here for it. Even as I write about her, my shoulders are bobbing with a chuckle. I rarely share quotes, because I think it can ruin the moment, removed from context, but it's the only way I can show you how on-point the writing is. 

     Silas eyed Hwa up and down. "This is what you're looking for in an assistant? She's epileptic. Or something. I don't know. And her mother is a prostitute. A prostitute who pays union dues, but still a prostitute."
      Behind them, Joel gasped. "Silas!"
     "It's okay," Hwa said. "My mom is a whore."
     "See?" Silas smiled. His teeth were huge and perfect and white. "I was just saying what everybody was thinking."
     "Yeah, having her raise me really introduced me to a lot of assholes," Hwa said. "Professional assholes that pay their taxes and everything, but still assholes."

Cover art by Erik Mohr.

Need some ice for that burn, Silas? Haha!! Mic-dropping dialogue aside, let's circle back to Hwa's career choice of becoming a bodyguard for the United Sex Workers of Canada. Yes, a union of prostitutes who look out for each other. Clients can be blacklisted if they're bad news and if anyone gets out of line, they get a punch to the throat. Love, love, love. And I haven't even gotten to the plot yet: the mystery behind Hwa's friend's death. In between being a badass and teaching others self-defence, Hwa investigates a grisly murder. Her detective work uncovers far more than she'd intended to find, and each revelation ups the stakes.

Also, the entire book takes place on a city-sized oil rig, in futuristic New Arcadia, Newfoundland. I mean...I can't, guys. I CANNOT. It's too good! Hwa speaks just like my wonderful friends from the Rock, dropping b'ys left and right, and it's the greatest ever.

I haven't read any of the other four finalists in CBC's Canada Reads 2017 but I don't care. THIS IS THE WINNER. The ending wasn't quite what I'd expected, which was a bit of a bummer, but the book is otherwise awesome. I'll be reading Madeline Ashby's series about killer robots (vN and iD) asap and I'm beyond psyched to have found another fantastic Canadian author. Go Canada!! So in closing, if you're into science fiction and strong female protagonists, COMPANY TOWN is definitely the book for you! 

For this mani, I used:

OPI - Towel Me About It, Alpine Snow, You Don't Know Jacques, CIA = Color Is Awesome, matte topcoat, and nail polish thinner

Fingerpaints - Black Expressionism

Julep - Abbie

trimmed striping brush, piCture pOlish nail art brush no. 10, triangular makeup sponge


book review with cover mani: the hate u give

I’ve had a very hard time writing a review for THE HATE U GIVE. It wasn't an easy read. Sobering, in fact--the kind of book that I wish I could give more than five stars. Because this is an important novel. One that is timely, powerful, and a hundred percent necessary. The reason that fiction exists, I'd even argue. The perspective is like no other and the writing resonates in a deeply moving way.  It punched me in the heart for all 464 pages. I've never been so grateful. I needed to have my eyes opened. 


The synopsis, from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, Khalil’s death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Starr’s best friend at school suggests he may have had it coming. When it becomes clear the police have little interest in investigating the incident, protesters take to the streets and Starr’s neighborhood becomes a war zone. What everyone wants to know is: What really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could destroy her community. It could also endanger her life.


As I've already said, I've gone through many versions of my review, and none of them articulated the impact THE HATE U GIVE had on me. It’s probably because I was rendered speechless as tears soaked my shirt and, to be honest, I haven’t quite recovered. Nor should I, frankly. 

But I want to keep spreading the word, so instead of spending another day (week? month?) staring at the screen, I’ve decided to just list words that describe THE HATE U GIVE.

Thanks to HCC Frenzy for this super cool button. 

Here we go. Words that describe THE HATE U GIVE:








Harry Potter awesomeness.



Required reading.




Filled with love.


Pulls no punches.

Not actually fiction.*

*Obviously, this is fiction, but also, it isn’t.

So in sum...

Must read.

Right now.

Do it.

Also, I'll read everything Angie Thomas ever writes, from now until forever.


For this mani, I used:

Fingerpaints - Black Expressionism and Paper Mache 

OPI - You Don't Know Jacques, Big Apple Red, It's A Boy, and Matte Topcoat

China Glaze - Intelligence Integrity & Courage

Julep - Faye and Fiore

Glisten and Glow - HK Girl Topcoat

Black acrylic paint for letters

trimmed striping brush


book review with cover mani: burying the honeysuckle girls

Last Monday, we had a holiday for Family Day. I suppose that means you're supposed to spend time with your family but I spent it reading--an entire glorious day of flipping pages. Whoops? Haha! It's such a treat when I can read a book from cover to cover (err...screen to screen because it was an ebook?) and I picked a good one because once I finished the first chapter of BURYING THE HONEYSUCKLE GIRLS, I was all in.

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Althea Bell is still heartbroken by her mother’s tragic, premature death—and tormented by the last, frantic words she whispered into young Althea’s ear: Wait for her. For the honeysuckle girl. She’ll find you, I think, but if she doesn’t, you find her.

Adrift ever since, Althea is now fresh out of rehab and returning to her family home in Mobile, Alabama, determined to reconnect with her estranged, ailing father. While Althea doesn’t expect him, or her politically ambitious brother, to welcome her with open arms, she’s not prepared for the chilling revelation of a grim, long-buried family secret. Fragile and desperate, Althea escapes with an old flame to uncover the truth about her lineage. Drawn deeper into her ancestors’ lives, Althea begins to unearth their disturbing history…and the part she’s meant to play in it.

Gripping and visceral, this unforgettable debut delves straight into the heart of dark family secrets and into one woman’s emotional journey to save herself from a sinister inheritance.

Let's get one thing straight. This book was awesome.

Althea = awesome.

Plot = awesome.

Setting = awesome.

Your face = awesome. (Okay, this one isn't book related but sometimes you just need a reminder from others, about how awesome you are.)

On the very first page of BURYING THE HONEYSUCKLE GIRLS, Althea swears, and I remember thinking: Oh yeah. I'm going to like this gal. Then it took about four more chapters for my like to turn into love. BURYING THE HONEYSUCKLE GIRLS has many strong elements, but for me, it really came down to Althea. I'm all about a story of redemption and I'll cheer for the underdog. Being a recovering addict in a political family doesn't get much more underdog-ish but Althea rarely felt sorry for herself, which is one of the main reasons I dug her so hard. Props to Emily Carpenter because it's a serious challenge to write a confident yet vulnerable character and Althea walked that line like a badass acrobat. Also, she was kinda funny, in that wry way that made me want to be her best friend. 

Along with Althea, I loved the rich, lush scenery--scenery described in such detail that it took on a life of its own. At times, it felt downright magical. And then there was the actual magic, although I could never be sure how real it was. My curiosity added to the plot's tension, and whether real or not, I drank up the lingering questions of mystical influences like Jinn's Juice. The historical elements worked extraordinarily well, and they reminded me a lot of Kelley Armstrong (who is one of my favourite authors ever). There are decades' worth of family secrets in this book, going back three generations, which layered the gritty plot. So if you like your mysteries served with sides of ambiance, magical realism, and southern historical, you need to read BURYING THE HONEYSUCKLE GIRLS! 


For this mani, I used:

OPI - Alpine Snow, You Don't Know Jacques, Towel Me About It, and Stay Off The Lawn!

China Glaze - Intelligence Integrity & Courage and Def Defying

Julep - Francis, Payton, and Sam

piCture pOlish nail art brush no. 9


book review with cover mani: simon vs. the homo sapiens agenda

I've been working my way through the backlog of ebooks on my Kindle, and last week, it was time for SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA. Holy awesome book alert, people!! I laughed, teared up, and finished with a song in my heart. Gah! I loved it so much!

*stops hugging book in order to display the cover*

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Simon's voice was probably my favourite part of SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA. Articulate and upbeat, wry and insightful, Simon captured my attention right away. Like most interesting people, he wasn't perfect, and his endearing mix of confident insecurity made him supremely relatable. Coming out is no easy feat. Being a teenager is hard enough without worrying about sexual identity proclamations and yet, I never lost faith that Simon would get through. Battered and bruised perhaps, but he'd make it.

That said, I was still nervous as hell for him. There wasn't a lot of "action" in this book, but a ticking clock, in the form of Martin's blackmailing, created a sense of urgency. Even when Simon played it cool, he remained aware of the stakes--that he was at the mercy of another person--and his behaviour fell in line, despite Simon's reluctance. Ugh. Martin was the worst*! ๐Ÿ‘Ž

*Look, I get that Martin's character was also a teenager and he deserves some sympathy for his decisions, but he was still the worst. Understandably the worst, but the worst, nonetheless.

Along with the central blackmail conflict via Martin aka Monkey's Asshole (Simon's nickname, not mine, although I whole-heartedly agree ๐Ÿ˜), Simon also had to deal with typical social problems. Namely, jealousy, the trickiest of all emotions. But in between setting friendships on fire and tossing water on others, Simon fell more and more in love with his maybe-boyfriend, Blue. OMG, guys, it was legit the cutest thing ever! I remember a time when I emailed like crazy with my now-hubs, and reading Simon and Blue's exchanges brought me back. There's something special about writing versus talking. It allows the time to reflect before answering, lessoning the chance of an awkward moment. Simon's personality was so charming in those emails, it was no wonder that Blue fell under his spell. Like, is there a SIMON RULES t-shirt I can order? Haha!

So, in sum, you need to read this book, especially if you're feeling a little blue (see what I did there? ๐Ÿ˜†). There's romance, mystery, and in the end, you'll have a huge smile on your face, along with a few happy tears. Yup. This one's a must-read. And when you do get around to reading it (doitnowdoitnow), have a box of Oreos on hand. Also, Reese Peanut Butter Cups. At times, they're discussed at length and you'll definitely want to eat some. They're the perfect companion for this delicious book.

(OMG I just checked out Becky Albertalli's Twitter and SIMON is going to be made into a movie!!!! I AM FREAKING OUT. Here's all the info (but there are spoilers, so beware): http://beckyalbertalli.tumblr.com/post/156223996311/simon-vs-the-homo-sapiens-agenda-movie-meet-the)


For this mani, I used:

OPI - Red My Fortune Cookie
Fingerpaints - Black Expressionism and Paper Mache
ORLY - Skinny Dip
Glisten and Glow - HK Girl Topcoat
Black latex paint for the letters
A striping brush thinned out to near extinction and piCture pOlish nail art brush no. 10.


book review and cover mani: the vanishing year

I've seen this gorgeous book around IG, but somehow, it got lost in my TBR. ๐Ÿ˜ข However, it popped up during Kate Moretti's week on the Tall Poppy Writers' Bloom page (a super cool FB place where authors connect with readers, and each week, a different author hosts discussions). The timing couldn't have been better, because I was in the mood for a chilling thriller. I read the first few chapters over a couple of days, and then finished the last 70% in one night, staying up waaaaay too late. The sleepy day was totally worth it, so you know I had to paint my nails! Haha!

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Zoe Whittaker is living a charmed life. She is the beautiful young wife to handsome, charming Wall Street tycoon Henry Whittaker. She is a member of Manhattan’s social elite. She is on the board of one of the city’s most prestigious philanthropic organizations. She has a perfect Tribeca penthouse in the city and a gorgeous lake house in the country. The finest wine, the most up-to-date fashion, and the most luxurious vacations are all at her fingertips.

What no one knows is that five years ago, Zoe’s life was in danger. Back then, Zoe wasn’t Zoe at all. Now her secrets are coming back to haunt her. As the past and present collide, Zoe must decide who she can trust before she—whoever she is—vanishes completely. 

The Vanishing Year combines the classic sophistication of Ruth Rendell and A.S.A. Harrison with the thoroughly modern flair of Jessica Knoll. Told from the point-of-view of a heroine who is as relatable as she is enigmatic, The Vanishing Year is an unforgettable new novel by a rising star of the genre.

Right away, THE VANISHING YEAR drew me in with its sense of unease. Zoe's husband seemed sketchy from the get-go and Zoe remained alert at all times, constantly evaluating other characters' behaviour, along with her environment. Happy, content people with nothing to hide don't normally do that, so it was clear that Zoe wasn't the most reliable narrator. 


My uneasy feelings continued to grow, thanks to the perfectly-placed flashback chapters, and before long, I suspected every single person in Zoe's inner circle. Twists abounded in THE VANISHING YEAR and my point-of-no-return came rather quickly, hence my sleepless night, and then something so insane happened that I had to use every ounce of willpower in my possession to not shake my hubs awake and scream: "I CANNOT BELIEVE WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THIS BOOK."

For reals. I...I don't know what else to say. The twisty plot knocked me on my ass, which is extra impressive because I was already horizontal. And they weren't "I didn't see that coming but now that I look back, it makes sense," kind of twists, either. Nope, Kate Moretti presented some straight-up literary awesome-ness, served with a side of "shut up, oh no she didn't," and it was the greatest thing ever. 

So if you love psychological thrillers, add this one to your list and then read it right away. Call in sick to work if you can't function on very little sleep because once you get past the first few chapters of THE VANISHING YEAR, you won't be able to put it down. Prepare your life accordingly. Haha! (But seriously.)


For this mani, I used:

OPI - Give Me Space and Towel Me About It

China Glaze - Too Yacht To Handle and The Outer Edge

Glisten and Glow - HK Girl Topcoat

Black latex paint

Makeup sponge and trimmed striping brush


book review with cover mani: the impossible fortress

With my love for glitter and the word awesome, it should come as no surprise that I was all about THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS. Set in the 1980s, and centered around a crew of three, fourteen-year-old boys who do everything they can to get their hands on a Playboy magazine, I was ten kinds of please let me read this! It was a positive joy to read, and I can't frickin' wait to tell you all about it.

The synopsis, from Goodreads:

A dazzling debut novel—at once a charming romance and a moving coming-of-age story—about what happens when a fourteen-year old boy pretends to seduce a girl to steal a copy of Playboy but then discovers she is his computer-loving soulmate.

Billy Marvin’s first love was a computer. Then he met Mary Zelinsky.

Do you remember your first love?

The Impossible Fortress begins with a magazine…The year is 1987 and Playboy has just published scandalous photographs of Vanna White, from the popular TV game show Wheel of Fortune. For three teenage boys—Billy, Alf, and Clark—who are desperately uneducated in the ways of women, the magazine is somewhat of a Holy Grail: priceless beyond measure and impossible to attain. So, they hatch a plan to steal it.

The heist will be fraught with peril: a locked building, intrepid police officers, rusty fire escapes, leaps across rooftops, electronic alarm systems, and a hyperactive Shih Tzu named Arnold Schwarzenegger. Failed attempt after failed attempt leads them to a genius master plan—they’ll swipe the security code to Zelinsky’s convenience store by seducing the owner’s daughter, Mary Zelinsky. It becomes Billy’s mission to befriend her and get the information by any means necessary. But Mary isn’t your average teenage girl. She’s a computer loving, expert coder, already strides ahead of Billy in ability, with a wry sense of humor and a hidden, big heart. But what starts as a game to win Mary’s affection leaves Billy with a gut-wrenching choice: deceive the girl who may well be his first love or break a promise to his best friends.

At its heart, The Impossible Fortress is a tender exploration of young love, true friends, and the confusing realities of male adolescence—with a dash of old school computer programming.


There's a significant possibility that you've seen this book already, because it came out yesterday, and if that's the case, you're probably all: What the heck is this cover, Jennie? It's not even almost like the one at the bookstore. 

The final cover

Well, I was lucky enough to get an ARC of THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS, and the cover changed between when I received the book, and when it was published. I didn't double-check before embarking on the most challenging cover mani of my entire life (OMG 90-degree angles and detail overload), and it turns out the joke was on me because the actual cover has a much less intricate design. Anyway, since I spent the better part of a day trying to freehand all the maze insanity, I wasn't about to redo it. Also, I ran out of matte top coat and my supplier was out too, which is why the cover and nails aren't in the same finish. So if you really think about it, this was an impossible mani, and in that case, it actually matches perfectly. Haha! 

Okay, now that I've gotten that out of the way, on with the review!

This book was a fun, quick read, and if you know anything about 80s computer programming, you're going to be in heaven. Each chapter started with a bit of code, which made me giggle because it reminded me of when I'd watch my dad. For the record, I never understood what he was doing, but I still enjoyed being a small part of the process, which was basically eating Cheetos and not touching any of his equipment. Haha!

However, even though I don't have experience in vintage computer gaming, I do remember quite a bit about the decade. Pop-Tarts and neon colours and Bagel Bites, oh my! Rekulak got each one dead-on, so the setting became its own character, arguably my favourite.

I say arguably, because the three boys, Billy (Will), Alf (yes, like the alien), and Clark were endearing in their own weirdo ways. As supporting characters, Alf and Clark added a lot of fun to the plot, but Billy represented the rare teenage boy who's willing to act in a way that separates him from the pack. This is a boy who doesn't back down, even when he's terrified (actually, he did succumb to peer pressure at times, but hey, who doesn't? ๐Ÿ˜‰). And that, my friends, made me like him from the very first chapter.

In between the Playboy quest and comedic, teenage-boy quips (mostly by Alf), THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS offered a tale that seemed simple at first, and then became unbelievably complicated. As a reader, I could sense danger on the horizon. But the kids, like any normal teens, didn't share that foresight. Their determination didn't account for negative outcomes while my adult brain was all uh oh, spaghettio. As such, I found my anxiousness building, confident the bottom would fall out but not sure when it would happen. Kind of like watching a car with no brakes roll backwards down the hill. I knew it'd be bad, and the only question was how bad. Well let me tell you. It was bad. Like, car-rolled-into-a-Pop-Rocks-factory-and-exploded, kind of bad.

That said, THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS is a book that makes you feel good. Yes, there were ups and downs, but at the end, the simultaneous story lines created a warm and fuzzy experience. I laughed, teared up, and ultimately felt uplifted. So if you're into a trip down memory lane that'll give you lots of positive feels (along with a few points of stress-eating tension) THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS is for you! It was released yesterday, Feb 7, so find it at a bookstore near you! And if you're on Goodreads, there's a giveaway happening right now, up until Feb 21st. Woot!

Thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for sending me this ARC! (Which in no way affected my review; you know I keep it real!)


For this mani, I used:

China Glaze - Aquadelic, White on White, and Liquid Leather

OPI - A Good Man-Darin Is Hard To Find and My Dogsled Is A Hybrid

essie - after school boy blazer

Julep - Lissa

Glisten and Glow - HK Girl Topcoat

Thin striping brush, piCture pOlish nail art brush no 9, and all the patience I possessed.