20.5.19

review and cover mani: valencia and valentine



The back jacket, from Goodreads:

For readers of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, debut author Suzy Krause delivers a quirky, colorful story about love, loss, second chances, and what it means to truly live.

Valencia, a timid debt collector with crippling OCD, is afraid of many things, but the two that scare her most are flying and turning thirty-five. To confront those fears, Valencia’s therapist suggests that she fly somewhere—anywhere—before her upcoming birthday. And as Valencia begins a telephone romance with a man from New York, she suddenly has a destination in mind. There’s only one problem—he might not actually exist.

Mrs. Valentine is an eccentric old woman desperate for company, be it from neighbors, telemarketers, or even the funeral director (when you’re her age, you go to a lot of funerals). So she’s thrilled when the new cleaning girl provides a listening ear for her life’s story—a tale of storybook love and incredible adventures around the world with her husband before his mysterious and sudden disappearance.

The stories of Valencia and Mrs. Valentine may at first appear to have nothing in common…but then again, nothing in life is as straightforward as it seems.

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VALENCIA AND VALENTINE was exactly what I needed. An immediately engaging voice, whip smart writing, and unbelievably compassionate glimpse into the mind of a person grappling with OCD (like, actual OCD not just wanting things neat), this charming novel took an intimate look at two characters, Valencia and Mrs. Valentine. A blend of heartbreaking joy—an exceedingly tricky pair of vibes to combine—and humour, I loved every second.


Jacket design and illustration by Philip Pascuzzo


Valencia’s career as a debt collector, manning the phones during work hours and dealing with screaming clients and death threats, and solo living situation, meant that Valencia didn’t have much meaningful contact with others. The self-imposed isolation and circular, end-of-world thoughts from her OCD forced Valencia into the smallest and most unremarkable life she could muster. Partially because her catastrophic internal voice made it practically impossible to connect with other people, but also as punishment for a terrible act from her past. Basically, Valencia was existing, going through the motions. So when she struck up a conversation—a real, actual conversation—with one of her clients at work, Valencia leaned in like a flower towards the sun. But, you know, with hella awkwardness. And not just because he may or may not of actually existed (mystery bonus!). Suzy Krause’s ability to write that awkwardness, the stuttering thoughts and constant anxiousness at saying the wrong thing or responding in a weird way, immediately had me cheering for Valencia because she was up against the world in every aspect of her existence. And in her own way, she fought through it. Or tried to, anyway. The mix of desperate unhappiness and the terror of letting somebody in felt exceedingly real. I was hypnotized while also dying a little inside. 



Meanwhile, Mrs. Valentine was isolated as well, but for very different reasons. A widow living alone in an apartment, too frail to take walks down the block or do her own shopping, she hired a cleaner who wound up being her primary means for socialization. Sharing her life’s story, Mrs. Valentine took a trip down her remarkable memory lane. A lane with highs and lows that inevitably connected with Valencia, but as if I’d tell you how! That’s a gem you’ll have to discover for yourself. But I will say it was a very unexpected tether of connection. 

If you’re a fan of Eleanor Oliphant and novels that crack open your heart and leave you reeling in melancholic delight, I highly recommend VALENCIA AND VALENTINE. Five stars all the frickin' way. VALENCIA AND VALENTINE is available in bookstores on June 1st, but for the month of May, it's part of the Kindle First Reads program so if you're a member, you can get an early look!

Big thanks to Amazon Publishing for a finished copy!



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For this mani, I used:

OPI – I Just Can’t Cope-acabana, A Good Man-darin is Hard to Find, Samoan Sand, and matte topcoat

China Glaze – Queen B, Tropic of Conversation, Kill ‘Em With Kindness, Pilates Please, Street Style Princess, and Foie Gras

ORLY – Makeup to Breakup

Essie – after school boy blazer

So Nailicious – warrior and needle brushes


3.5.19

review and cover mani: heroine


The back jacket description, from Goodreads:

An Amazon Best Book of the Month! A captivating and powerful exploration of the opioid crisis—the deadliest drug epidemic in American history—through the eyes of a college-bound softball star. Edgar Award-winning author Mindy McGinnis delivers a visceral and necessary novel about addiction, family, friendship, and hope. 

When a car crash sidelines Mickey just before softball season, she has to find a way to hold on to her spot as the catcher for a team expected to make a historic tournament run. Behind the plate is the only place she’s ever felt comfortable, and the painkillers she’s been prescribed can help her get there.

The pills do more than take away pain; they make her feel good.

With a new circle of friends—fellow injured athletes, others with just time to kill—Mickey finds peaceful acceptance, and people with whom words come easily, even if it is just the pills loosening her tongue.

But as the pressure to be Mickey Catalan heightens, her need increases, and it becomes less about pain and more about want, something that could send her spiraling out of control.


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HEROINE came in hot. The opening sentence of “When I wake up, all my friends are dead,” set a tone that initially scared me off, but I’m happy I came back around because while HEROINE was a heavy read, it also had the signature Mindy McGinnis flare for tackling tough subjects with an unflinching perspective. No surprise McGinnis was up to the task because, well, have you read her other books? *peers over glasses with cocked eyebrow*


Jacket art © 2019 by plainpicture/fstop/Dual Dual
Jacket design by Erin Fitzsimmons


Mickey, determined and focused to get a scholarship for softball, was up against the clock to recover from her injuries in order to play in her final high school softball season, which immediately set the stage for her impending addiction. Because while Mickey’s initial goal of healing quickly had her popping pills, the euphoria of pharmaceutically induced happiness got Mickey hooked. As her addiction progressed, HEROINE became a master’s class in tracing a user’s rationalization process; the twisting and contorting of facts in order justify taking higher doses. Casting Mickey’s mother as a nurse doubled-down on the idea of how easy it is to fall into addiction and while I turned each page, transfixed, I dreaded when the prologue would circle back around. With McGinnis’s reputation for bleaker endings, I honestly didn’t know if Mickey would make it out alive.




While HEROINE is fiction, it also isn’t. And while it follows Mickey’s descent in to addiction, it’s also a story about friendship, sports, and just enough hope to keep you going. But above all else, if you get to the end and aren’t furious with big pharma, you’ve missed the point. These drugs are real and they steal lives. Prescribing such highly addictive painkillers to anybody, especially teenagers, is irresponsible and immoral. There’s no way to predict if that first pill will become the first step down a long road of addiction, which means they shouldn’t exist in the first place. Leave it to Mindy McGinnis to shine a compassionate light in the darkest of places. Deeply uncomfortable and entirely necessary, HEROINE had better win some awards, and should be required reading in schools. Five stars plus one million stars, for a grand total of one million and five stars. 


Big thanks to HCC Frenzy for a gifted ARC!



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For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Paper Mache and Black Expressionism

China Glaze – Street Style Princess

OPI – matte topcoat

So Nailicious – needle and warrior brushes


15.4.19

review and cover mani: we rule the night


The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Two girls use forbidden magic to fly and fight–for their country and for themselves–in this riveting debut that’s part Shadow and Bone, part Code Name Verity.

Seventeen-year-old Revna is a factory worker, manufacturing war machines for the Union of the North. When she’s caught using illegal magic, she fears being branded a traitor and imprisoned. Meanwhile, on the front lines, Linné defied her father, a Union general, and disguised herself as a boy to join the army. They’re both offered a reprieve from punishment if they use their magic in a special women’s military flight unit and undertake terrifying, deadly missions under cover of darkness. Revna and Linné can hardly stand to be in the same cockpit, but if they can’t fly together, and if they can’t find a way to fly well, the enemy’s superior firepower will destroy them–if they don’t destroy each other first.

We Rule the Night is a powerful story about sacrifice, complicated friendships, and survival despite impossible odds.

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I absolutely flew through WE RULE THE NIGHT. Yes, that’s obvious and not terribly creative wordplay, but nonetheless true. A fiercely consumable combination of action-packed and emotionally-charged scenes, there was never a good moment to take a break, so goodbye weekend adulting activities and hello to eating cereal for three consecutive meals because my sole priority was finding out what Revna and Linné did next. 


Cover art by Billelis
Cover design by Karina Granda


Forced to enter a world where she didn't excel, after her previous successes were nullified, Linné’s arc captured my attention and my heart. A young woman who'd hurdled herself over every obstacle to join the fight on the front lines, only to be sidelined because of her gender and then assigned to a secret flight unit composed of very un-soldier-like women, Linné didn’t quite know what to do with herself. Bitter, judgmental, standoffish, but still dedicated to the cause, Linné’s struggles to find her place inside and outside of the cockpit made her too vulnerable not to love, so when things got crazy, I was worried sick about her. She pushed everybody away, and while Revna faced similar uncertainties, she had the rest of the unit's support (albeit somewhat tainted support because of how the others considered her living metal legs, at least in the beginning). But whether they liked it or not, they were united by a common goal, and watching how each young woman navigated their feelings of self-doubt and fear produced a lot of head nodding and empathy from me. I also appreciated the various ways Bartlett showed the women's courage and strength because there's so much more to being strong and brave than just throwing a punch.




As I’ve touched on the balance between character growth and action, now I get to rave about the magic. Because flying planes YES. The use and construction of the planes, comprised of living metal (THE ACTUAL AWESOMEST BUT I WON’T SAY ANY MORE) and operated by a pair of pilots with two different magical tasks, made my imagination explode. At times, perhaps slightly challenging to envision, but who cares because it was such an extraordinary concept, especially considering the historical inspiration of the Soviet Union's 588th Night Bomber regiment during WWII. I do wish a particular storyline had more explanation and depth, as it proved critical to the world-building, and the end left me with mixed feelings. Mostly good, but also some wanting. As in, I want another book. The comps are totally bang-on, so if you’re a fan of Code Name Verity or Shadow and Bone, you’ll love WE RULE THE NIGHT!


Big thanks to Hachette Book Canada for an ARC!



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For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mâché

China Glaze – What’s Up Bittercups, Street Style Princess, Change Your Altitude 

OPI – Rollin’ In Cashmere, In My Back Pocket, A Good Man-darin Is Hard to Find, My Twin Mimmy, matte topcoat

SoNailicious – needle and warrior brushes







1.4.19

review and cover mani: everyone knows you go home



The back jacket, from Goodreads:

The first time Isabel meets her father-in-law, Omar, he’s already dead—an apparition appearing uninvited on her wedding day. Her husband, Martin, still unforgiving for having been abandoned by his father years ago, confesses that he never knew the old man had died. So Omar asks Isabel for the impossible: persuade Omar’s family—especially his wife, Elda—to let him redeem himself.

Isabel and Martin settle into married life in a Texas border town, and Omar returns each year on the celebratory Day of the Dead. Every year Isabel listens, but to the aggrieved Martin and Elda, Omar’s spirit remains invisible. Through his visits, Isabel gains insight into not just the truth about his disappearance and her husband’s childhood but also the ways grief can eat away at love. When Martin’s teenage nephew crosses the Mexican border and takes refuge in Isabel and Martin’s home, questions about past and future homes, borders, and belonging arise that may finally lead to forgiveness—and alter all their lives forever.

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With a plentitude of storylines, EVERYONE KNOWS YOU GO HOME was a book that couldn’t be rushed. Set in the present and the past, I felt most connected to the border crossing chapters. Yet another book I shouldn’t have read in a waiting room because I loathe crying in public, it was impossible to tear my eyes from the page. Pushing past fear and brutal conditions, the group’s faint possibility of hope carried them through the most harrowing environments, forever at the mercy of coyotes who viewed them as numbers, not people. The dehumanization they faced in order to escape the violence and poverty of their homes wasn’t sugarcoated, and with the current political climate in the United States regarding Mexican immigration, there couldn’t be a better time to have a novel reconfirm that immigrants are human beings


Jacket illustration by Hannah Perry
Jacket design and hand lettering by Faceout Studio, Derek Thornton


Including a real-time account of Martin’s teenage nephew’s experiences once he arrived in Texas as an undocumented immigrant also consistently punched me in the heart. Because getting over the border was only the first step, and Eduardo had lots of adjusting to do after he made it. During that adjustment, an event transpired that inspired the title EVERYONE KNOWS YOU GO HOME and as much as I love when books pull their titles from the text, this one will always make my chest tighten when I catch the spine on my bookshelf. These characters sacrificed so much to have the chance to live in the United States, but even if they managed to cross, the fear of being caught by ICE and other law enforcement agencies followed them forever. Trying to start a new life with constant fear lurking in the background isn't something I've experienced, which proves why fiction is so important. 



Along with currently relevant themes, Natalia Sylvester’s elegant writing brought beauty to bleaker moments—a commendable feat, considering the premise. The sort of novel that should be required reading in schools, in my opinion. There could have been a deeper examination of the relationship between Isabel and Martin because they didn’t seem like a couple. She did a lot for Martin and his family but that investment wasn’t reciprocated, which left me unsure as to why she stuck around. That said, EVERYONE KNOWS YOU GO HOME was a deeply meaningful work of fiction and an unequivocal must read. 


Big thanks to Amazon Publishing and Natalia Sylvester for a finished copy!


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For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mache

OPI – Need Sunglasses, In My Back Pocket, Strawberry Margarita, You Are So Outta Lime, Stay Off the Lawn, Red My Fortune Cookie, matte topcoat

China Glaze – Saved by the Bluebell, My Way or the Highway, Accent Piece

Picture Polish – salt water

Glisten and Glow – Mother Fire

So Nailicious – needle and warrior brushes

27.3.19

review and cover mani: queenie


The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Americanah in this disarmingly honest, boldly political, and truly inclusive novel that will speak to anyone who has gone looking for love and found something very different in its place.

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

With “fresh and honest” (Jojo Moyes) prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world.

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QUEENIE took me on a ride, friends. At first, things were Bridget Jones’s Diary-ish and I was fine, giggling along because sure, Queenie was going through a difficult breakup but I had no doubt she’d emerge generally unscathed. You know worried, but not concerned, if that makes sense. But then Queenie’s decisions took a much darker turn, which spiked my concern to an eleven and made the world go quiet. 


Jacket design by Donna Cheng
Jacket Illustration by Gerrel Saunders


I wasn’t prepared for the degree of vulnerability displayed on the page during those darker days, and it rendered me speechless. As in I couldn’t speak because I was crying too hard. The POV kept me inside Queenie’s mind, which meant I viewed her experiences and rationalizations in real time. Wow, those rationalizations. Queenie didn’t value herself, and watching her accept/excuse terrible behaviour in exchange for companionship were the parts that made me weep. They hit close to home. 

Things got worse before they got better and the plot took Queenie to places, both emotionally and physically, she wasn’t eager to go. Those places were necessary to visit in order to move forward though, and Queenie’s reluctant courage felt so very real. Carty-Williams’s ability to dig into the layered burdens of childhood trauma, mental health, and racism, blew me away. I’ll forever remember a scene with Queenie and her long-term white boyfriend’s family. Mostly because of course. I wanted to scream. And I'm a white lady.*

*Tip. If you're also a white lady and think this scene was exaggerated or "people don't really talk like that anymore" please open your eyes. They do. And if it happens in front of you, SAY SOMETHING FFS. Use that white face of yours. Furthermore, if you don't think anything was wrong with the scene, or support the "overreactive response" take, you've got some major work to do and I hope you reflect on what your reasoning means, and how it's majorly problematic and must stop. 



In conclusion, OH MY HEART THIS BOOK. I honestly haven't stopped talking about it. By including Black Lives Matter, the fetishizing of black women, and feminism, along with the above-mentioned mental health and childhood trauma, QUEENIE proved to be a bold, fresh novel that broke my heart and then put it (mostly) back together. Be prepared for surges of frustration via Queenie’s decisions, but the group texts with her friends and strong family relationships balanced out those downturns, so there were ample bright parts to the dark, the brightest being Queenie herself. Five stars all the way, QUEENIE is out now and a must read. 

Big thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for an ARC!



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FingerPaints Black Expressionism, Paper Mâché, Iconic Orange

China Glaze – Good as Marigold and Truth is Gold

OPI – matte topcoat

So Nailicious – warrior brush

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