review and cover mani: in a cottage in a wood

I’m always down for a creepy read. Err…as long as it doesn’t involve dolls because I’m already scared of them enough. *shudders* On a recent trip to the bookstore, the novel I had in mind wasn’t in stock and because leaving a bookstore empty handed isn’t a thing I’m physically capable of doing, I checked out the new releases wall. IN A COTTAGE IN A WOOD immediately stood out because I’d seen this ominous-looking cover around bookstagram, and then it promptly came home with me because I love a good psychological thriller.

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

A strange encounter
Neve comes across a troubled woman called Isabelle on Waterloo Bridge late one night. Isabelle forces a parcel into Neve’s hands and jumps to her death in the icy Thames below.

An unexpected gift
Two weeks later, as Neve’s wreck of a life in London collapses, an unexpected lifeline falls into her lap – a charming cottage in Cornwall left to her by Isabelle, the woman on the bridge. The solution to all her problems.

A Twisted secret
But when Neve arrives, alone in the dark woods late one night, she finds a sinister-looking bungalow with bars across its windows. And her dream home quickly becomes her worst nightmare – a house hiding a twisted secret that will change her life forever…


I read IN A COTTAGE IN A WOOD in one sitting and was totally freaked out for about seventy percent. Right out of the gate, the plot got rolling and maintained a steady pulse throughout Neve’s journey to a country cottage she hoped would change her life for the better. Neve’s shining optimism made me feel immediate sympathy for her because unlike me, Neve wasn’t privy to the spooky cover of the book she stars in, which is all sorts of “uh oh, this is going to be intense.” So while she waxed poetic about how amazing living in the country would be, I shook my head and anxiously waited for her to catch up…and by catch up I actually mean begin her terror-fest.

Yay? (Hahaha! I’m the worst.)

Cover design ©️ HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 2017
Cover photographs ©️ Mark Owen/Trevillion Images (main image); 
Shutterstock.com (trees)

The setup for Neve’s arrival worked brilliantly, because by the time she laid eyes on her polar-opposite-of-welcoming home, I cared deeply about her. As such, my nerves fired alongside hers when she began to realize her mistake and quickly regret all of her life choices. (Been there, Neve. Only without the murdery-vibes residence so you win.) With the relatable life situation of a plan falling through and hesitant uncertainty regarding the next move to make, Neve felt familiar. It also helped that I imagined a lot of parallels between how I’d react to certain eerie events and how Neve reacted. One of the joys of reading a book in a single pass is the degree of immersion I can achieve, completely losing myself in the story, and that totally describes my reading experience of IN A COTTAGE IN A WOOD because I really put myself in Neve’s shoes and the plot was b-a-n-a-n-a-s. But I can’t talk about the plot any more than I have already so that’s all you get. 😶

If you love a tightly-written novel that makes you wonder if there are paranormal elements at work, a dangerous stalker, or if it’s all in a character’s head, IN A COTTAGE IN A WOOD is the book for you!! If you can swing it, I highly recommend penciling in a day to read it cover to cover. But before you get started, lock all of your doors and turn on some lights because for real, it’s creepy and if you live in a wooded area like myself, there’s a significant chance you’ll be too freaked out to check if your house is secure once you dig in. Preparation is the name of the game, friends! 


For this mani, I used:

China Glaze – Street Style Princess, Activewear Don’t Care, At Your Athleisure, Just A Little Embellishment, and Immortal

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mâché

Julep – Fiore and Dawn

OPI – You Don’t Know Jacques

Glisten and Glow – topcoat

So Nailicious – needle and slayer brushes

Mitty Burns – minty 0 brush

Triangular makeup sponge for gradient


review and cover mani: how to stop time

HOW TO STOP TIME is the tale of Tom Hazard, a man who ages at a much slower pace than the average person. Haig's beautiful writing had my heart hurting for Tom pretty early on, with an extra one-two-punch that left me burning through pages (but not the sort of one-two punch you’d think, because I’m anti-spoiler and would never do that to you). In short, this novel was another “Matt Haig” experience, because reading his work always be an emotional workout.

The book description, from Goodreads:

"The first rule is that you don't fall in love, ' he said... 'There are other rules too, but that is the main one. No falling in love. No staying in love. No daydreaming of love. If you stick to this you will just about be okay.'" 

A love story across the ages - and for the ages - about a man lost in time, the woman who could save him, and the lifetimes it can take to learn how to live

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he's been alive for centuries. Tom has lived history--performing with Shakespeare, exploring the high seas with Captain Cook, and sharing cocktails with Fitzgerald. Now, he just wants an ordinary life.

So Tom moves back to London, his old home, to become a high school history teacher--the perfect job for someone who has witnessed the city's history first hand. Better yet, a captivating French teacher at his school seems fascinated by him. But the Albatross Society, the secretive group which protects people like Tom, has one rule: never fall in love. As painful memories of his past and the erratic behavior of the Society's watchful leader threaten to derail his new life and romance, the one thing he can't have just happens to be the one thing that might save him. Tom will have to decide once and for all whether to remain stuck in the past, or finally begin living in the present.

How to Stop Time is a bighearted, wildly original novel about losing and finding yourself, the inevitability of change, and how with enough time to learn, we just might find happiness.


Tom Hazard is a character who's experienced history first-hand. Through wars, plagues, booms and busts, he'd adapted in order to survive, but the result was a fairly lonely life, as I’d imagine it would be when everybody you know has passed away. Well, pretty much everybody, aside from the members of the Albatross Society, although like most secret societies, it’s not all group hugs and holiday bbqs. *cues ominous tones*

Jacket design by Jim Tierney

The story offered a balance of present and past, including scenes with well-known historical figures and good gravy, were they amazing. History (albeit fictional) through fresh eyes and suddenly, I was wholly interested in Shakespeare and Captain Cook. I think it’s because according to Tom, these figures were actual people, not the two-dimensional folks we learned about in textbooks. I won’t name drop Tom’s one-degree of separation in regards to some of the more recognizable influencers, as they were the hidden truffles in an otherwise packed box of literary chocolates, but rest assured Tom's past is packed with goodies.

That’s what you get in HOW TO STOP TIME, an introspective look at Tom’s past and how it has shaped his present circumstance. Through it all, Tom’s melancholy tone put a cautiously optimistic pit in my stomach as I rooted for him to reclaim his life. Only Matt Haig could create such a seamless fusion of fiction and what it means to be human. Similar to when I finished THE HUMANS, HOW TO STOP TIME left me with much to think about and I frickin’ love when a novel inspires a bout of personal contemplation.

An easy five-star read for me, HOW TO STOP TIME is the perfect book for a thoughtful and compassionate individual, and while there’s a slight time-travel element, it’s not one traditional. You may cry, but it’ll be cathartic, so make sure you have some tissues on hand and above all else, prepare yourself to be whisked away for approximately three hundred pages because it’s the sort of novel you’ll want to read all at once.

Thanks to HarperCollins Canada for a finished copy!


For this mani, I used:

China Glaze – Wait N Sea and Baroque Jungle

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mâché

OPI – Rollin In Cashmere, Need Sunglasses, and matte topcoat

So Nailicious needle and slayer brushes

Triangular makeup sponge for gradient


As an extra bonus, check out some pictures from Timepiece, a wonderful clock store in Cookstown, ON, where I was generously allowed to take a bookstagram with stunning vintage watches!! Thanks again, Bogdan!! Your shop is extraordinary!


review and cover mani: iron gold

I’m a major fan of the Red Rising series. The first three blew my mind and I've been counting down the days until I could get my paws on IRON GOLD, the fourth book, and the beginning of a new trilogy, ten years after MORNING STAR. Friends, this adventure did not disappoint, and while it’s a challenge to write a review for a series installment without revealing spoilers, I’m going to do my very best because the last thing I want to do is ruin the Red Rising awesomeness.

The back jacket description, from Goodreads:

They call him father, liberator, warlord, Reaper. But he feels a boy as he falls toward the pale blue planet, his armor red, his army vast, his heart heavy. It is the tenth year of war and the thirty-second of his life.

A decade ago, Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk everything he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?

And throughout the worlds, other destinies entwine with Darrow’s to change his fate forever: 

A young Red girl flees tragedy in her refugee camp and achieves for herself a new life she could never have imagined.

An ex-soldier broken by grief is forced to steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy—or pay with his life.

And Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile to the sovereign, wanders the stars with his mentor, Cassius, haunted by the loss of the world that Darrow transformed, and dreaming of what will rise from its ashes.

Science fiction world building can be an insurmountable task, even more so when it includes an entire solar system brimming with technology, regulated caste systems, and politics. That sort of challenge means an author’s game must be on point or it’ll quickly descend into hot-mess chaos. Obviously, as I’m on book four, that isn’t even remotely the case with Pierce Brown. Not only are the world elements sublimely assembled into a manner that seems foreign yet also familiar, but the character arcs lift the story to epic levels.

Jacket design and illustration: Faceout Studio/Spencer Fuller

Because for real, these characters feel like real people. Each person, regardless of where they come from, has thoughts and dreams. They love and hate with equal fierceness, bound by loyalty and a desire to protect those they hold dear. Conflicting perspectives on what that protection entails—what characters are willing to sacrifice in order to move forward in their cause—maintains tension throughout each novel, like one of those spinning funnels that quarters race around, spinning tighter and tighter until they drop. But when that quarter does drop, you’d better believe that Brown’s got three more itching to begin their descent because the moment one plotline “ends” (I put that in quotes because rarely is there an actual end) a new one appears—hydras of problems that require adaptability and diligence to overcome.

Along with some fan favourites (the ones that survived, anyway), IRON GOLD introduces three more characters who have just as much at stake in the aftermath of the first three novels. The in-depth, first-person narration has these characters taking shape immediately, and now that I've finished IRON GOLD, they feel just as familiar as older friends. There's a new battle on the horizon that threatens each of them, and seeing the development from different sets of coloured eyes has drawn me even deeper into Brown's world. OMG to the extreme, folks!!

With IRON GOLD, Brown has managed to raise the bar yet again, which is why I'm committed to the Red Rising series for the long haul and will continue to pre-order his books from now until forever. I experience the entire spectrum of human emotions while reading this saga, and when the last page ends, a ravenous appetite for the next instalment comes swift and fierce, so do yourself a favour and pick up this series. With four books already released, they’ll keep you busy for a while and then you can spend the time waiting for number five by creating a faux fur accent piece to wear proudly (which will make sense once you read the first).

Put your paws up, Howlers!!


For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Paper Mâché and Black Expressionism

OPI – A Good Man-Darin is Hard to Find and In My Back Pocket

China Glaze – Accent Piece

Julep – Dawn

So Nailicious needle brush

Hairspray and water for feather flames


review and cover mani: the wolves of winter

Atmospheric covers always turn my head, and that certainly happened with THE WOLVES OF WINTER. I mean, just look at it! Tall trees, blue hue, and a mysterious woman walking into a snowy forest, oooooo the vibes! Then I learned the book takes place in the Canadian Yukon, and it was a done deal. 

I’d also like to give props to Simon & Schuster Canada because they sent this beauty in the coolest package ever, which cranked up my excitement level to an even 10. Wrapped in brown paper and tied with a string, a “postmark” from the Yukon in the top left corner, the contents included a first aid kit, matches, collapsible water bottle, and beef jerky “made” by the protagonist! UNREAL. So yeah, I had a plethora of reasons to look forward to reading THE WOLVES OF WINTER and now I’m going to tell you all about it (without actually *telling* you anything because spoilers are the worst).

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive.

Lynn McBride has learned much since society collapsed in the face of nuclear war and the relentless spread of disease. As memories of her old life haunt her, she has been forced to forge ahead in the snow-covered Canadian Yukon, learning how to hunt and trap to survive.

But her fragile existence is about to be shattered. Shadows of the world before have found her tiny community—most prominently in the enigmatic figure of Jax, who sets in motion a chain of events that will force Lynn to fulfill a destiny she never imagined.


The Canadian winter has a well-deserved reputation for being too cold to function, with every surface covered in a thick layer of ice and snow until the middle of May. While I can attest to that being true, I live in Southern Ontario and oh my, did I suddenly become thankful I don’t live any farther north because yikes. Made worse by the lack of electricity, I wrapped myself up in a blanket while reading about Lynn’s day-to-day activities, which focused on making sure there was wood for heat and meat for meals. Two goals, day in and day out. Survival as a way of life, which could be considered monotonous if not for the ever-present fear of death. Yikes, the sequel.

Cover design by Pete Garceau and Hafen Hamburg. 
Cover photographs: Background © Stephen Carroll/Trevillion Images; 
Woman © Mohamad Itani/Trevillion Images; Snonwflakes © Lisa Valder/E+Getty Images 

Armed with a bow and arrow and wry sense of humour, Lynn's strength of character was revealed straight away and I easily connected with her. The first part of the book explained how Lynn and her community lived, which immediately set up the stakes because if they faltered for even a day, the consequences could be lethal. Scarce resources and no law of the land meant that any stranger posed a threat, which raised interesting questions about humanity. Is it worth helping somebody who has the potential to end your life? When you’re hanging on by a thread, putting trust in a stranger can be deadly, but turning away a person in need doesn’t sit right with the soul, so which do you choose?

Those questions were further dissected and examined when Jax arrived. His presence created a dramatic shift in Lynn's life, which is when things really got interesting. Lynn’s first-person point-of-view meant that I learned the truth regarding certain events of the past at the same time she did and it amplified the tension, Lynn's fears and suspicions echoing my own. It was like trying to put a puzzle together without having a picture and because Lynn was in the dark, it negated the opportunity for explanatory backstory. The end result is a novel that shows far more than it tells (woot!!).

So if you gravitate towards postapocalypic novels set in unforgiving environments, with danger lurking behind every snow-covered tree, THE WOLVES OF WINTER is the book for you!

Big thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for sending an ARC packed with goodies!

As an added bonus, I was invited to attend a book club this week, hosted by Indigo and Simon & Schuster Canada, where I had the chance to meet Tyrell Johnson, eat a delicious bookish cookie, and talk all about THE WOLVES OF WINTER! Shoutout to my booknerd partner-in-crime for coming with me, and to the awesome hosts and other readers!! I had the most marvellous time!


For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mâché

OPI – CIA = Color Is Awesome, A Good Man-Darin Is Hard To Find, My Private Jet, Malaga Wine, and You Don’t Know Jacques

China Glaze – Wait ‘N Sea and Just A Little Embellishment

ORLY – Makeup to Breakup

essie  - after school boy blazer

Julep – Kenna and Janae

Glisten and Glow - topcoat

So Nailicious brushes – needle 

Mitty Burns brushes – Peachy 000 and Clean Pro Flat