20.8.19

review and cover mani: the turn of the key


The back jacket, from Goodreads:

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is. 
__

Without a doubt, THE TURN OF THE KEY is my favourite novel by Ruth Ware. A gothic delight with a zooming pace, creepy setting, and intricately laid clues that escaped my attention until the end when they snapped together and left me no choice but to mentally applaud Ware for a job well done. Plot twists have become a staple in mysteries and thrillers, a gotcha moment where the reader is supposed to be surprised but not confused. Laying notable clues throughout a novel without arousing suspicion is no easy feat, and in THE TURN OF THE KEY there were multiple unexpected reveals working together yet I didn't see a single one coming. Absolute perfection. 


Jacket art and design by Alan Dingman


Also perfect? The delivery: letters written by Rowan to a lawyer in an attempt to explain her side of the media-saturated story. Her overall goal was to have a big-shot barrister take her case, which meant she needed to convince him of her innocence. Starting the novel at the end so to speak, where Rowan had already been arrested and charged with the murder of a child formerly in her care, cast an immediate shadow over Rowan’s character. Her voice in the letters felt nervous, sputtering even. Exceedingly vulnerable. It was clear she longed to tell her story but was anxious about possible reactions and judgments. A masterful command of tone because Ware conveyed worry from two directions: the barrister believing she’s guilty and Rowan believing that she’s a bad person. It had me on the edge of my seat, wanting to trust Rowan even though my suspicions remained intact. That duality added rich dimension to this mystery and confirmed that Ware knows how to keep a reader hooked. Also, some seriously scary stuff happened in that smart home, friends. SO VERY SCARY. I didn't know what or who to believe and the further I wandered into the eeriness, the more uncertain I became. In other words, it was suspense-central and I loved every second. 




The contrast between the smart home and the isolated, rural, and creepy af property made it a perfect location for a (possible) haunting, so prepare to clear your schedule in order to devour this tension-riddled little number in one sitting. Especially if you’re the sort of reader who enjoys feeling like you’re losing your mind because oh yes, THE TURN OF THE KEY will mess with you, but only in the best ways. Five stars all the way. THE TURN OF THE KEY hits Canadian shelves on Aug 27th, available now in the UK and US.

Big thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for sending me an ARC!




__


For this mani, I used:

OPI – Lucite-tanly Look Marvellous, Coalmates, matte topcoat

China Glaze – Chroma Cool, Street Style Princess

FingerPaints - Paper Mache and Black Expressionism

So Nailicious – needle and warrior brushes



12.8.19

review and cover mani: the unlikely escape of uriah heep

Back jacket description, from Goodreads:

The ultimate book-lover's fantasy, featuring a young scholar with the power to bring literary characters into the world, for fans of The Magicians, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, and The Invisible Library.

For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can't quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob -- a young lawyer with a normal house, a normal fiancee, and an utterly normal life -- hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his life's duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world... and for once, it isn't Charley's doing.

There's someone else who shares his powers. It's up to Charley and a reluctant Rob to stop them, before these characters tear apart the fabric of reality.

__

Let’s get one thing straight right away: I remain pleasantly surprised by how much I loved THE UNLIKELY ESCAPE OF URIAH HEEP. Mostly because I’m not even close to the ideal reader for this delightful crumpet of a novel, thanks to my aversion of literary classics. Yet despite my clear bias, I was hooked on the first page and had tears projecting from my face by the end. So please believe me when I say that everyone needs to read this book

I don’t even know how to compose this review because there were five hundred things I loved and most of them are spoilers. But I can mention that I took two weeks to read THE UNLIKELY ESCAPE because it’s dense, which worked out fine for me. I didn’t want to leave this world. *hugs hardcover* 


Jacket design by Lisa Marie Pompilio
Jacket Illustrations by Trevillion, Arcangel Images and Shutterstock

I think the key to why I connected so deeply to the story lies in two factors. First, making Rob the primary narrator. As I’m not really a fan of classics and wouldn’t have a clue about quotes or significance, I entered with hesitancy because there’s nothing worse than a book making me feel stupid. For instance, I didn’t know who Uriah Heep was (*literary ignorant jazz hands*). But much to my relief, Rob, older brother to Charley (the one who possessed the summoning ability) didn’t know squat about literary critique either. So while it took me a minute to understand why the person with the powers wasn’t narrating, once it clicked, I knew I could dive right in. Whenever a literary reference popped up, an organic explanation came alongside, therefore making classics accessible. Brilliant!



The second factor was EVERYTHING ELSE. The voice(s), the prose, the characters Charley pulled from books, the enormous scope of the plot, Rob and Charley’s complicated sibling relationship—both on separate and parallel arcs, the idea that literary characters aren’t static and open to interpretation (god this was done so well), plus the secrets. So many secrets. The slow burn pace resulted in a frickin’ forest fire with oodles of twists, so I can’t for the life of me understand how are there only 90 reviews on Goodreads. I was highly entertained and also learned about classic lit. I mean, come on!! Why isn’t this book all over bookstagram?! Why is nobody talking about this gem?! STOP READING THIS REVIEW AND ORDER/RESERVE THE UNLIKELY ESCAPE OF URIAH HEEP RIGHT NOW. For the love of everything, you need to read it. One million and five stars. 

Big thanks to Orbit Books for sending a finished copy!


__

For this mani, I used:

OPI – Samoan Sand, I Just Can’t Cope-acabana, Gelato On My Mind, matte topcoat

China Glaze – Foie Gras, Kill ‘Em With Kindness, Wait N Sea, Four Leaf Clover, Highlight Of My Summer, Accent Piece

Picture polish – chillax

FingerPaints – Sketch Me, Black Expressionism

So Nailicious – warrior brush





26.7.19

review and cover mani: the two lila bennetts


The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Lila Bennett’s bad choices have finally caught up with her. And one of those decisions has split her life in two. Literally.

In one life, she’s taken hostage by someone who appears to be a stranger but knows too much. As she’s trapped in a concrete cell, her kidnapper forces her to face what she’s done or be killed. In an alternate life, she eludes her captor but is hunted by someone who is dismantling her happiness, exposing one secret at a time.

Lila’s decorated career as a criminal defense attorney, her marriage, and her life are on the line. She must make a list of those she’s wronged—both in and out of the courtroom—to determine who is out to get her before it’s too late. But even if she can pinpoint her assailant, will she survive? And if she does, which parts of her life are worth saving, and which parts must die? Because one thing’s for certain—life as Lila Bennett knew it is over. 

__

With a super interesting premise and gorgeous cover, THE TWO LILA BENNETTS captured my attention right off the bat. I pictured Lila as Jeri Hogarth from Jessica Jones: a take no shit, ruthless attorney who strives to win no matter the cost. Definitely a harder character to cheer for in the beginning, and the authors’ choice of cases didn’t leave much room for grey. Lila Bennett just wasn’t a great person, her moral compass consistently spinning like a windmill in a hurricane. That is, until a certain situation made her question her behavior. I loved that it was a seemingly innocuous decision—a spur-of-the-moment choice—which split her life into two different pathways. And yet the plot progression, whether “captured” or “free,” had surprising similarities, perhaps suggesting there’s no escaping fate.



Cover design by Faceout Studio, Lindy Martin


A character not prone to self-reflection, being trapped in a concrete cell offered a rare extended silence for “captured” Lila to examine her life, as handcuffs and ankle bindings, dehydration and utter terror have a tendency to do. The tension in those chapters kept me turning pages, simultaneously worried about Lila’s safety and also the secrets she was forced to confront. Slowly but surely, my sympathy for Lila began to sprout as she took accountability for her mistakes, and it felt like an organic evolution. 




Meanwhile, although “free” Lila remained un-cuffed, she was still under attack. Her mystery assailant’s appearance required a deep dive into Lila’s past to find suspects, and through that process, she began to see just how long the list of potential culprits was. No real surprise for a criminal defense attorney, and her slow loss of control served as another source of emotional torture. For a character who’d grown accustomed to being one step ahead, she didn’t adapt well to falling ten steps behind and even though I knew the “captured” Lila had a literal gun to her head, I was actually more concerned for “free” Lila. A clever twist on a trope for sure, so if you love higher-stake thrillers that venture into darkness but aren’t consumed by it, THE TWO LILA BENNETTS is the book for you! 


Big thanks to Liz and Lisa for sending me an ARC!




__

For this mani, I used:

OPI – A Good Man-Darin is Hard to Find, In My Back Pocket, I Just Can't Cope-acabana, Stay Off the Lawn!, Viking in a Vinter Vonderland, Need Sunglasses

China Glaze – Celtic Sun, Four Leaf Clover, Week it Honey

FingerPaints – Paper Mâché, Inkblot Blue

Julep - Michelle

picture polish - chillax

So Nailicious – needle brush




19.7.19

review and cover mani: sorcery of thorns



The back jacket, from Goodreads:

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

__

There are times when I need to break out my thesaurus to find a term that can encapsulate my feelings towards a particular book. Something that describes the sensations of wanting to climb to the tops of towers and scream, paper a neighbourhood with MUST READ flyers, and the agony of narrowing down which incredible quote to tattoo on my body so I can relive the awesomeness every day. Unfortunately, my thesaurus failed me, but whatever that word may beif it even existsrepresents how I feel about SORCERY OF THORNS. 


OwlCrate exclusive cover
Jacket design by Sonia Chaghatzbanian; Jacket illustration ©️2019 by Charlie Bowater


Between the library setting, alluring manifestation of magic, and Elisabeth’s unstoppable attitude, I devoured each sentence like a reader who'd been starving for a million years. I mean, the books were alive, people! Restrained beneath chains or locked away in a cabinet, revered and respected while also feared. Perhaps a metaphor for knowledge, and one done exquisitely well. When an act of sabotage forced Elisabeth on a path she adamantly opposed, she learned that life was more volatile and complicated than she ever could’ve imagined. Nathaniel’s wry delivery and sense of humour added some levity to more devastating moments, and there’s another particular character who stole the show with his wicked ways. Also, I cried twice during unexpectedly devastating moments and then straight-up WEPT by the end, trapped in a glass case of emotion where I presently still reside.



Gah! It’s the best when I can immerse myself in a story while also fearing the desolation that comes when I reach the end and have to say goodbye to characters who've become friends. It’s been ages since that terror has invaded my heart and squeezed, simultaneously delivering a story I didn’t know I needed while pummeling my soul. Honestly, I’m having a hard time writing this review because I’m still overwhelmed by the amazingness. By far the strongest, most magically devious fantasy I’ve read this year and yes, I’m counting adult fiction as well (this is YA). 

So in sum, just read it, friends. READ IT NOW. REQUEST IT NOW. BUY TEN COPIES AND THROW THEM AT PASSER-BYS ON THE STREET. DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO GET THIS BOOK IN YOUR HOT LITTLE HANDS. 

The end.



__

For this mani, I used:

OPI – Rollin’ in Cashmere, Russian Navy, I Just Can’t Cope-acabana, matte topcoat

China Glaze – Mix and Mingle, Ah-Ah-Ah-mazing, Truth is Gold, Who Wonder, Trash Can-Do Attitude, Chroma Cool, Dance Baby, Fresh Prince-ss, Four Leaf Clover, Water-Falling in Love, Immortal, Street Style Princess

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism, Paper Mache, Figure of Art

ORLY – Makeup to Breakup

Glisten and Glow – Hpnotiq Hurricane

So Nailicious – needle and warrior brushes



5.7.19

review and cover mani: i'll never tell


The back jacket from Goodreads:

What happened to Amanda Holmes?

Twenty years ago, she washed up on shore in a rowboat with a gash to the head after an overnight at Camp Macaw. No one was ever charged with a crime.

Now, the MacAllister children are all grown up. After their parents die suddenly, they return to Camp to read the will and decide what to do with the prime real estate it's sitting on. Ryan, the oldest, wants to sell. Margo, the family's center, hasn't made up her mind. Mary has her own horse farm to run, and believes in leaving well-enough alone. Kate and Liddie—the twins—have opposing views. And Sean Booth, the family groundskeeper, just hopes he still has a home when all is said and done. 

But then the will is read and they learn that it's much more complicated than a simple vote. Until they unravel the mystery of what happened to Amanda, they can't move forward. Any one of them could have done it, and all of them are hiding key pieces of the puzzle. Will they work together to solve the mystery, or will their suspicions and secrets finally tear the family apart?


__

Summer camp mystery woooot! Bring on the s’mores, canoeing and, of course, tragic accidents. Or was it an accident? Multiple POVs—the siblings, Sean, and Amanda herself—tried to make sense of what happened that fateful summer and McKenzie did a solid job distinguishing distinct personalities. Her pitch-perfect depiction of deep-rooted insecurities and fears along with a tangled web of family secrets meant that while the cast remained contained, the tension never wavered. When their father’s will was revealed, the aggressive implications stoked those flames of distrust and blame which served as a bummer for the MacAllisters and good times for me. 😈


Cover image: Philip Lee Harvey / Getty Images


I loved the off-season setting of Camp Macaw (caw, caw), and while the summer camp I attended was in Ontario versus Quebec, the similarities elicited a rush of musky lake memories. McKenzie nailed those vibes, and the emotional connection each sibling felt towards the camp, whether positive or negative, influenced their perspective. A prime opportunity for explosive revelations, being stuck between the adults they’d become and the children they were, each chapter kept me on the edge of my seat. 



While the tension truly had my stomach in knots, there was unfortunately one element that deflated my agony. The extreme overuse of a particular word became tremendously distracting. I’m disappointed it wasn’t picked up during edits because the word was so prevalent (sometimes appearing multiple times in the same paragraph) it affected my ability to remain immersed in the plot. But with that said, I’LL NEVER TELL is a still an engaging and twisty mystery, perfect for hot and humid summer days (and if you attended summer camp as a kid, I suspect you’ll feel an extra connection). 

Big thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for a finished copy!



__


For this mani, I used:

OPI – My Dogsled is a Hybrid, I Just Can’t Cope-acabana, A Good Man-darin is Hard to Find, Can’t Find my Czechbook, Gargantuan Green Grape

China Glaze – Throne N Shade, Highlight of My Summer, Saved By the Bluebell, Kill ‘Em With Kindness, Just a Little Embellishment

Essie – after school boy blazer

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mache

Glisten and Glow – topcoat

So Nailicious – needle and warrior brushes

21.6.19

review and cover mani: man of the year



The back jacket from Goodreads:

Beware the Man of the Year. You may praise him, resent him, even want to be him: but beneath the elegant trappings that define him, danger looms. Caroline Louise Walker’s stunning debut novel, for fans of Herman Koch’s The Dinner and Shari Lapena’s The Couple Next Door, delves into the increasingly paranoid mind of a man whose life as the most upstanding of citizens hides a relentlessly dark heart.

Dr. Robert Hart, Sag Harbor’s just-named Man of the Year, is the envy of his friends and neighbors. His medical practice is thriving. He has a beautiful old house and a beautiful new wife and a beautiful boat docked in the village marina. Even his wayward son, Jonah, is back on track, doing well at school, finally worthy of his father’s attentions. So when Jonah’s troubled college roommate, Nick, needs a place to stay for the summer, Hart and his wife generously offer him their guest house. A win-win: Jonah will have someone to hang with, and his father can bask in the warm glow of his own generosity.

But when he begins to notice his new houseguest getting a little too close to his wife, the good doctor’s veneer begins to crack. All the little lies Robert tells—harmless falsehoods meant to protect everything he holds dear—begin to mount. Before long, he’s embroiled in a desperate downward spiral, destroying the lives that stand in his way. It’s only the women in his life—his devoted office manager, his friends, his wife—who can clearly see the truth.

Biting and timely, Man of the Year races along at an electric pace, with a wicked twist that you won’t see coming.

___

Watching a white, arrogant man self-destruct is my new favourite pastime thanks to MAN OF THE YEAR. The sort of guy who’d read a Huffington Post article and consider himself an expert, happy to mansplain at a moment’s notice, Robert proved to be just smart enough to destroy himself. No matter the situation, he consistently made the worst choices while his narrative showed a strong belief that he was outmanoeuvring everyone around him. Instead, he was losing his damn mind. The absolute best at being the worst—a character I loved to hate—this gem quickly became black humour central. No surprise that Walker wrote this character so flawlessly, as I doubt a man would possess the self-awareness to pen such blind confidence and entitlement. At times, I felt like Walker and I were making sly eye contact, a Jim looks to the camera moment if you will, sharing our mutual amusement over Robert’s behaviour. 


Jacket design by Donna Cheng
Jacket art by Plainpicture/Silveri


While my morbid enjoyment of Robert’s paranoia took the front seat in my reading experience, there was also a fair amount of tension. I understood early on that Robert would create an epic clusterfuck, and with the way Walker set up questionable and suspicious scenarios, I didn’t blame him. Every character held significant secrets and including alternate points of view had me chuckling aloud because oh no collision course, dead ahead. Essentially, a booknerd’s dream come true. Driving the plot with internal tension is exactly what suspense should be, and I was delighted to be reminded. 



MAN OF THE YEAR did take a while to get going and the ending wasn’t as sinister as I’d expected from the build up, but even so, this debut novel cemented my auto-buy status for Caroline Louise Walker. A solid four star read, I’m eager to see what Walker writes next. Big thanks to Gallery Books for a complimentary finished copy!




__


For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Paper Mache and Black Expressionism

China Glaze – Accent Piece and Ingrid

ORLY – Storyteller (Colorlab)

OPI – In My Back Pocket, I Just Can’t Cope-acabana, Can’t Find My Czechbok, matte topcoat

So Nailicious – needle and warrior brush




14.6.19

review and cover mani: before the broken star


The back jacket from Goodreads:

A fierce young female adventurer battles time itself to claim her destiny in a sweeping new fantasy saga from the author of the Hundredth Queen series.

Everley Donovan is living on borrowed time. The lone survivor of her family’s unexplained assassination, she was saved by an ingeniously crafted clockwork heart. But the time she was given won’t last forever. Now, every tick-tock reminds her how fragile her existence is and hastens her quest to expose Killian Markham, the navy admiral who shattered her world and left her for dead. But Everley’s hunt for justice will be a long and hard-won voyage.

Her journey takes her to a penal colony on a cursed isle, where she will be married off and charged to build the new world. It is here, and beyond, that hidden realms hide, treasures are unearthed, her family secrets are buried, and young love will test the strength of her makeshift heart. When Everley discovers Markham may not be who he seems, her pursuit for truth is bound to his redemption, her tragic history, and her astonishing destiny.

__

BEFORE THE BROKEN STAR had everything I love in a YA fantasy, which meant I devoured it. Charging out of the gate with high emotional content—desire for revenge (yay!)—and Everley’s clockwork heart, then sword fights in petticoats and a treacherous journey to a penal colony, the story sucked me in as the world melted away. Like the greats Bardugo and Schwab, there wasn’t a wasted word or wink, each action and phrase driving the plot forward, not a lull to be seen. I burned through chapters with abandon because just when one problem was solved, two more appeared like a metaphorical hydra beast of complications and revelations. 


Cover design by Kirk DouPonce, DogEared Design


The hostile and cursed island, populated by convicts and Everley’s new home, proved to be a formidable malevolent environment that forced Everley to confront family secrets. And oh the secrets she discovered! While the pace moved quickly in the first half, once upon the island, things kicked into warp speed. Adventure, tension, and magic, plus lurking threats along the way kept my heart rate up to such a degree, I was shocked to find my pedometer count unchanged. I adore books that leave me breathless, as if I’d run ten miles, and BEFORE THE BROKEN STAR became the latest addition to that short list. 



I appreciated the end to the storyline (to a degree 😉), as cliffhangers in a series make me want to throw things across the room. I absolutely cannot wait for the next book and will be counting down the days until it’s in my greedy paws. If you love young women who don’t take any crap, zooming paces, and dynamic characters, you need to read BEFORE THE BROKEN STAR. Five stars all the way!

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



__

For this mani, I used:

OPI – Stay Off the Lawn, Fearlessly Alice, Rollin’ In Cashmere, Mod About You, and I Just Can’t Cope-acabana

China Glaze – I Got a Blue Attitude, Born to Rule, Wicked Liquid, Boujee Board, and Up All Night

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mache

So Nailicious – needle and warrior brushes



5.6.19

review and cover mani: donna has left the building


The back jacket, from Goodreads:

From the beloved, New York Times bestselling author of Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress comes a hilarious, timely, and big-hearted new novel about rebuilding life in the face of disaster.

Forty-five-year-old Donna Koczynski is an ex-punk rocker, a recovering alcoholic, and the mother of two teenagers whose suburban existence detonates when she comes home early from a sales conference in Las Vegas to the surprise of a lifetime. As her world implodes, she sets off on an epic road trip to reclaim everything she believes she's sacrificed since her wild youth: Great friendship, passionate love, and her art. But as she careens across the U.S. from Detroit to New York to Memphis to Nashville, nothing turns out as she imagines. Ultimately, she finds herself resurrected on the other side of the globe, on a remote island embroiled in a crisis far bigger than her own.

Irresistibly funny, whip-smart, and surprisingly moving, Donna Has Left the Building spins an unforgettable tale about what it means to be brave—and to truly love—in a tumultuous world.

__

Like Uncle Albert and Bert from the OG Mary Poppins, I love to laugh. Whenever possible, I lean into humour because hello! Happy, belly aching, tear producing, breath stealing laughter is where it’s at. And oh my, it's been a long time since a book has tickled my funny bone so relentlessly. In DONNA HAS LEFT THE BUILDING, what may appear to be a typical “wife comes home early to find husband in compromising situation” story is anything but. I cannot stress this enough: In no shape, way, or form have you read anything like this treasure trove of hilarity. Granted, Donna didn't find it terribly amusing, but that’s the awesomeness of fiction, right? Think The Good Place sort of emotional torture. 😂


Jacket design and illustration by Brian Levy.
Jacket ©️ 2019 Hachette Book Group, Inc.

But as I laughed my face off while reading on the couch, in bed, and three public waiting rooms, Donna’s journey began to delve into emotional territory. During Donna’s impromptu cross-country road trip, she had to confront the past she remembered with rose-tinted glasses and non-spoiler alert: things didn’t go according to her haphazard plans. Like, at all. Not even a tiny bit. And just when I wasn’t sure if Donna would be able to get out of her own way, the plot took a major turn when she wound up on a remote island where the vibe was anything but jovial. I’ve gotta say it felt a little jarring, on the verge of being two separate books smushed together. Even with steady hints regarding what Donna would be sucked into, the sudden shift in tone could’ve been smoother. Not that it was bad, but Donna’s voice started out like jazz hands and then became subdued as the final quarter came to pass. Reflective, perhaps, and there’s nothing like a genuine crisis to have one reflect on their previous behaviour. *side-eyes Donna*




If you love books that flip expected tropes and crank them up to 11, while snickering as wildly unpredictable characters take you on a ride, DONNA HAS LEFT THE BUILDING is the book for you! It hit shelves yesterday, June 4th, so I encourage you to run like the wind to your bookseller of choice because this gem is a must read. Big thanks to Hachette Book Group Canada for a complimentary ARC!


__


For this mani, I used:

OPI – A Good Man-Darin Is Hard to Find, matte topcoat

China Glaze – I Got a Blue Attitude and Bottoms Up

ORLY – Skinny Dip

FingerPaints – Paper Mâché and Black Expressionism

So Nailicious – spear, needle, and warrior brushes






31.5.19

review and cover mani: when we were lost




The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Survival. It's a concept these high school students never had to consider--until their plane crashes in a remote rainforest with no adults left alive. With many of them falling prey to threats from both the jungle and man, they soon realize that danger comes in many sinister forms. 


Tom Calloway didn't want to go on a field trip to Costa Rica, but circumstances had him ending up sitting in the back of the plane--which was the only part that was intact after the crash in the remote South American wilderness. Tom and a small group of his classmates are fortunate to be alive, but their luck quickly runs out when some of them fall prey to the unfamiliar threats of the jungle--animals, reptiles, insects, and even the unforgiving heat. Every decision they make could mean life or death.


As the days go by and the survivors' desperation grows, things get even more perilous. Not everyone can cope with the trauma of seeing their friends die, and a struggle for leadership soon pits them against each other. And when they come across evidence of other people in the middle of the rainforest, does that mean they're safe--or has their survival come to an even more vicious end?

___

WHEN WE WERE LOST immediately reminded me of a certain television show involving a plane crash and tropical seclusion, but aside from their similar circumstances and setting, they were worlds apart. Tom, the epitome of a reluctant narrator, had no choice but to break out of his comfort zone, both in terms of assertiveness and surviving the inhospitable environment. The outsider perspective worked well, as outsiders are often excellent observers, and Tom was able to quickly identify who would contribute to their survival versus those who’d accelerate their demise. Two discernable groups emerged, similar to what you’d expect from a high school cafeteria, so while Tom battled predators from the jungle, he also found himself immersed in a power struggle. The sort of young man who kept to himself, Tom had no interest in said power struggle, but that didn’t stop him from becoming a target. Having parallel sources of tension, the lethally unpredictable Amazon jungle and the volatile group dynamic, resulted in a page-burning pace. No matter where they were or what they were doing, the group's safety was always at risk. My favourite sort of read. 


Jacket design by Tracy Shaw and Sammy Yuen.
Jacket art by Travis Commeau.

I also really love when novels begin in more of an abstract manner. A challenge, for sure, because it has the potential to backfire, but WHEN WE WERE LOST had a phenomenally executed, pseudo-rambling introduction about the butterfly effect. Relevant to the book for sure, but certainly not a “fall into the action sort of deal” it was more like a gradual unraveling to get to the point. Hella hard to accomplish and it let me know straight away that I would enjoy the writing. Things came full circle at the end, which was even more impressive, so I’m very interested in reading other books by Kevin Wignall. 



Teens who sounded and behaved like teens, several majorly surprising twists, and the ever present fear of spontaneous death, WHEN WE WERE LOST is perfect for readers who love action and adventure. Available next Tuesday, June 4th wherever books are sold. 

Big thanks to Hachette Book Group Canada for a complimentary ARC!


__


For this mani, I used:

OPI – Stay Off the Lawn, Fearlessly Alice, Dating a Royal, I Just Can’t Cope-acabana

FingerPaints – Paper Mache and Black Expressionism

China Glaze – Emerald Bae

Mitty Burns – candy brush

So Nailicious – warrior brush

Glisten and Glow –  topcoat