review and cover mani: the bucket list

THE BUCKET LIST had a unexpectedly profound effect on me. Because of that, I don’t really have much of a general intro, as I need more space to articulate my thoughts. On that note, let’s just dive right into the review. 

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

From the author of the critically acclaimed “lively and engrossing parable for women of all generations” (Harper’s BazaarThe Regulars­ comes a deeply funny and thoughtful tale of a young woman who, after discovering she has the breast cancer gene, embarks on an unforgettable bucket list adventure.

Twenty-five-old Lacey Whitman is blindsided when she’s diagnosed with the BCRA1 gene mutation: the “breast cancer” gene. Her high hereditary risk forces a decision: increased surveillance or the more radical step of a preventative double mastectomy. Lacey doesn't want to lose her breasts. For one, she’s juggling two career paths; her work with the prestigious New York trend forecaster Hoffman House, and her role on the founding team of a sustainable fashion app with friend/mentor, Vivian Chang. Secondly, small-town Lacey’s not so in touch with her sexuality: she doesn’t want to sacrifice her breasts before she’s had the chance to give them their hey-day. To help her make her choice, she (and her friends) creates a “boob bucket list”: everything she wants do with and for her boobs before a possible surgery.

This kicks off a year of sensual exploration and sexual entertainment for the quick-witted Lacey Whitman. Ultimately, this is a story about Lacey’s relationship to her body and her future. Both are things she thought she could control through hard work and sacrifice. Both are things she will change by choosing to have a major surgery that could save her life, and will give her the future she really wants.

Featuring the pitch-perfect “compulsively delicious” (Redbook) prose of The RegularsThe Bucket List is perfect for fans of Amy Poeppel and Sophie Kinsella.


So look. First things first, I’m mad at Georgia Clark and the Atria publicity department. YES, WE ARE FIGHTING.

If you’ve been reading my reviews for a while, you’re aware that I’m not the sort of reader who gobbles up emotionally dense fiction. In fact, I tend to avoid those stories. Now, in this case it may be my bad because of THE BUCKET LIST’s subject matter, but Clark’s phenomenally witty writing made me forget that Lacey was dealing with a major issue. Lacey’s way of coping with her BCRA1 positive status drew me close, because I handle intense news in a similar way. Namely, by trying to control the situation completely out of my control, and then distracting myself with everything and anything. So that was my frog-boiling-to-death in an oh-my-god-I’m-feeling-so-many-feelings situation. I was lured in with comedy and got majorly attached, which led to my heart being punched, followed by having my heart repaired in such a satisfying way that I literally hugged the book when I finished, which also hurt because I thought my heart would explode. 

Ugh. My black soul really didn’t know what to make of all the feels but instead of putting it down, I kept going, so invested that I didn’t notice my dog boring a hole into the side of my head due to a twenty minute tardiness in feeding him supper. And that’s saying something because Pickle has a laser stare that I can sense through furniture.

Art designer: Matthew Monahan

Emotional resonance aside, let’s talk about how this hilarious (?!) mastectomy book was also…spicy? Like, get a fan. And ice. And a partner of your choice on stand-by, because inspiration. The boob bucket list in THE BUCKET LIST did not come to play, except it actually did and it was amazing. The thoughtful and adventurous way Lacey claimed her sexuality was empowering af, and I’ve got a decade on her. Good decisions and not-awesome decisions had me cheering and cringing, and in the end, Lacey felt more like a friend than a fictional character. I think it’s important to mention the sexuality-positive vibe extended to all characters, regardless of orientation, and I appreciated the no-big-deal attitude, as that’s the way it should be. Love who you love (and fool around with who you fool around with), friends. 

In short, every sensation—every feeling I’m capable of experiencing—happened while reading THE BUCKET LIST. I’m convinced witchcraft played a role during Clark’s writing process because it shouldn’t be possible. I shouldn’t be able to laugh-cry, happy-cry, sad-cry, make sure my husband was within arms reach, repeat the series of cries again, and then do it all a third time while hanging onto the edge of my seat to see what Lacey would do next. To quote The Princess Bride, “INCONCIEVABLE!” And yet, THE BUCKET LIST did just that and more. 

My anger (which has morphed into not-so-secret love) towards THE BUCKET LIST means that I insist you read it. Not in a little while, not next month. Now. It’s just beyond. Five stars, plus a bazillion stars, for a total of one bazillion and five stars. 

Ps. I guess I forgive Georgia Clark and the Atria team. Thanks for tricking me because I will love this book forever. So picture my gratefulness for this unbelievable novel peppered with eye rolling because you made me bawl my face off. Is there an emoji for that?


For this mani, I used:

China Glaze – At Your Athleisure and Pretty Fit

ORLY – Storyteller (custom colour)

OPI – Suzi Has a Swede Tooth, Big Apple Red, and matte topcoat

FingerPaints – Paper Mache

So Nailicious – needle brush


review and cover mani: heretics anonymous

HERETICS ANONYMOUS came out of the gate like a llama on the loose. The voice didn’t just leap off the page, but broke into jazz hands and cartwheels—extra impressive for a llama! Haha! Lighthearted, with a toe dipped in heavier issues, this book was a fabulous break from the darker material I often find myself reading. 

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Michael is an atheist. So as he walks through the doors at St. Clare’s—a strict Catholic school—sporting a plaid tie, things can’t get much worse. His dad has just made the family move again, and Michael needs a friend. When a girl challenges their teacher in class, Michael thinks he might have found one, and a fellow nonbeliever at that. Only this girl, Lucy, is not just Catholic . . . she wants to be a priest.

But Lucy introduces Michael to other St. Clare’s outcasts, and he officially joins Heretics Anonymous, where he can be an atheist, Lucy can be an outspoken feminist, Avi can be Jewish and gay, Max can wear whatever he wants, and Eden can practice paganism. After an incident in theology class, Michael encourages the Heretics to go from secret society to rebels intent on exposing the school’s hypocrisies. When Michael takes one mission too far—putting the other Heretics at risk—he must decide whether to fight for his own freedom, or rely on faith, whatever that means, in God, his friends, or himself.


As previously stated, it took me about three seconds to fall in (platonic and super appropriate) love with Michael. His snarky-ish, razor sharp wit reminded me a lot of my high school days, when stakes were relatively low but felt much higher. I loved how Michael’s narrative totally captured the intensity of teenage years, emotions running wild while problems genuinely felt like the end of the world. Like, for instance, when one was forced to move again and then enrolled at a strict Catholic school despite being an atheist. A part of me misses that sort of intensity, but not much because the combination of little agency and fledgling coping skills inevitably led me down a path of bad decisions. Katie Henry must've had a similar experience because she lined up Michael at the edge of a diving board and then lovingly pushed him headfirst into that murky pool of hormones and tension, and the result was a triumphant and hilarious story that placed Michael at the helm. 

Jacket art and design by David Curtis.
Toast photo by Sascha Burkard and Kamyshko/Shutterstock.

While Michael’s incredible voice and personality could’ve overshadowed other characters, the rest of the Heretics Anonymous secret society held their own. Each character had quirks and strong opinions, along with fleshed-out backgrounds. Not necessarily believing in their Catholic school mantra could’ve left each one feeling an outcast, which they kind of were, but by binding together, they created their own community, along with a manifest (which can be found on the first page). That manifest proved useful when the group decided to turn their efforts to highlighting St. Clare’s various hypocrisies, and the Heretics’ antics were easy to cheer for. That is, until they weren’t. Dun-dun-dun.*

*but not a super ominous dun-dun-dun, more like medium ominous 

Reading along with Michael and the Heretics as they attempted to right some wrongs, and watching them grapple with the consequences of success (ooo! Twist!) took the plot around some unexpected turns. Because even the best of intentions can’t predict the future and it wasn't long before the group was forced to make hard choices. Issues of trust, faith, and the importance of honest communication were all addressed, along what it means to forgive. Yes, HERETICS ANONYMOUS had depth along with hilarity, which made it a well-rounded and thoroughly enjoyable read. 

So if you appreciate a voice-tastic protagonist with a solid group of friends who decide to shake things up, or were a fan of Mandy Moore’s delightful film Saved!, then HERETICS ANONYMOUS is the book for you! 

Big thanks to HCC Frenzy for an ARC!


For this mani, I used:

OPI – In My Back Pocket, You Don’t Know Jacques, Stay Off the Lawn, and matte topcoat

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism

China Glaze – Water-Falling in Love, Too Yacht to Handle, and Pilates Please

piCture pOlish – instinct

So Nailicious – needle brush


review and cover mani: our house

OUR HOUSE straddled a couple of genres, but leaned heavily into domestic suspense. I needed a few chapters to settle into the format of a podcast, “word document,” and present time, but soon afterwards, I fell face first into this bananapants plot. Because just like my most favourite of novels, just when I thought it couldn’t get any crazier, Candlish cocked an eyebrow and asked me to hold her beer. 

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

On a bright January morning in the London suburbs, a family moves into the house they’ve just bought in Trinity Avenue. 

Nothing strange about that. Except it is your house. And you didn’t sell it. 

When Fiona Lawson comes home to find strangers moving into her house, she's sure there's been a mistake. She and her estranged husband, Bram, have a modern co-parenting arrangement: bird's nest custody, where each parent spends a few nights a week with their two sons at the prized family home to maintain stability for their children. But the system built to protect their family ends up putting them in terrible jeopardy. In a domino effect of crimes and misdemeanors, the nest comes tumbling down.

Now Bram has disappeared and so have Fiona's children. As events spiral well beyond her control, Fiona will discover just how many lies her husband was weaving and how little they truly knew each other. But Bram's not the only one with things to hide, and some secrets are best kept to oneself, safe as houses. 


The crescendo of insanity started with the bird’s nest custody agreement. Now, I’m not a parent and should probably refrain from judging (haha like that'll stop me), but the concept seemed like a homicide waiting to happen. If I were sharing a house and an apartment with my ex-spouse who cheated on me, it wouldn't matter that we'd physically never be in the same place at the same time. Sharing a living space, despite a rotation, is still an intimate experience and it’d only be a matter of time until one empty milk carton in a fridge cracked the best of my intentions, leading to the bleaching of his clothes, swiftly followed by a stabbing. But here’s where Candlish shone, because despite this custody arrangement that appeared naïve to an outsider, Fiona’s reasoning was broken down into reasonable, digestible parts. Parts that, once stuck together with optimistic glue, came across as plausible. It’s such a challenge to write first person and not navel gaze, and Candlish provided a perfect amount of context to show that Fiona was a contemplative person (perhaps a control freak) whose decisions were always well thought out. So even when I didn’t agree with Fiona’s point of view, I understood it.

Jacket design by Alana Colucci

While Fiona was busy winning Most Chill Cheated-On Spouse, Bram's POV via a word document after-the-fact, began to chart the map he used to sail into a tsunami of bad decisions. One after the other, Bram revealed his degrees of betrayal and Candlish expertly dissected his ego-centric rationalizations, getting down to the core reason he behaved the way he did. I don’t think many would disagree that Bram suffered from entitlement syndrome and thusly, he wasn’t equipped to cope with a situation that spiraled out of his control. Also, he was kind of an idiot, which consistently accelerated his own demise. But groaning, and occasionally laughing, at just how much worse Bram managed to make his problems, added some extra pep to the madness. There’s nothing I like more than saying “Oh my god you DUMMY,” when reading a domestic suspense haha! 

Another element I really liked was the inclusion of social media comments. Fiona’s POV was told through a podcast and in typical social media comment form, they included off-topic remarks, humour, and disbelief. I got quite a few chuckles from those Tweets. There were a few components I wished were summed up in the same manner as Fiona and Bram’s explanations, but the rhythmic and eloquent prose, strong character development, and truly bananpants plot more than made up for it. Delivering the story in three methods, two after the fact and then a real-time perspective when Fiona first arrived at her home to find a different family moving in kept the tension going, once I got into the groove. If you’re a fan of suspenseful novels that leave your mouth agape, you need to read OUR HOUSE!

Big thanks to Berkley for an ARC!


For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mache

China Glaze – Street Style Princess, Boho Blues, and Dance Baby

OPI – Dating A Royal, You Don’t Know Jacques, Kiss Me On My Tulips, A Good Man-Darin Is Hard To Find, and matte topcoat

Essie – after school boy blazer

Julep – Abbie and Casey

So Nailicious – needle brush


review and cover mani: sea witch

Villain origin stories always pique my interest, and I have a new goodie to add to the bunch, which put the underwater witch we all know and love, Ursula, front and center. And oh boy, did she steal the show. Eventually, that is, because the coolest part about SEA WITCH is that I couldn’t be sure which female character would wind up with octopus tentacles as their lower half, and I love a book that keeps me guessing. 

The back jacket description, from Goodreads:

Everyone knows what happens in the end.
A mermaid, a prince, a true love’s kiss.
But before that young siren’s tale, there were three friends.
One feared, one royal, and one already dead.


Ever since her best friend, Anna, drowned, Evie has been an outcast in her small fishing town. A freak. A curse. A witch.

A girl with an uncanny resemblance to Anna appears offshore and, though the girl denies it, Evie is convinced that her best friend actually survived. That her own magic wasn’t so powerless after all. And, as the two girls catch the eyes—and hearts—of two charming princes, Evie believes that she might finally have a chance at her own happily ever after.

But her new friend has secrets of her own. She can’t stay in Havnestad, or on two legs, unless Evie finds a way to help her. Now Evie will do anything to save her friend’s humanity, along with her prince’s heart—harnessing the power of her magic, her ocean, and her love until she discovers, too late, the truth of her bargain.

The rise of Hans Christian Andersen’s iconic villainess is a heart-wrenching story of friendship, betrayal, and a girl pushed beyond her limits—to become a monster. 


As SEA WITCH is an Ursula origin story, I must admit I was surprised by the range of feelings I experienced. Specifically, sad ones. The story started four years after Anna’s drowning, where Evie’s grief had latched onto her heart like a barnacle; her regret over that fateful night, ever present. It was smart for Henning to begin that way, because Evie’s grief tied the whole story together and showed why Evie was ready to risk her life for a girl she’d only known for four days. Grief has the ability to bypass the brain and head straight for the heart, so with the new girl’s physical similarity to Anna, I could sympathize with Evie’s immediate, fierce loyalty. 

Book design by Heather Daugherty and Amy Ryan. 
Artwork by Anna Dittman.

Showing Evie’s grief regarding Anna’s drowning also introduced the sea as both a malovent and benevolent force, transforming the water into its own character. Each time a boat set sail or somebody wanted to go swimming, I could never be sure how things would go. If the sea would give, or take away. On the positive side, living in a fishing town meant the community depended on the sea for their livelihoods. Citizens absolutely understood the danger, so once a year, they honoured the sea goddess with a celebration. Lucky for us readers, that celebration began the same day the mystery girl arrived, and provided all the goodies that come with royal bashes: gossipy townsfolk, impending marriage decisions, and of course, caste challenges in regards to impending marriage decisions. Tension on top of stakes on top of tension, just how I like it haha! 

While Evie and Anna 2.0 navigated their way through the celebrations, they grew close enough to share their magical secrets, bonding themselves because magic was illegal in Havnestad. These magical elements added another thread of connection for Evie, who’d thought she was alone. So really, between Evie’s grief and sudden knowledge she wasn’t solo in the magic department, I understood why Evie wasn’t suspicious of new Anna. She was lonely and sad and ughhhhhhh *feels feelings* *shakes fist at Sarah Henning for making me feel said feelings*

As the three-day celebration progressed, so did the girls' plans of having Prince Niklas fall in love with new Anna slash creating moments where Evie could bask in the attention from Niklas' cousin and prince in his own right, Iker. And then, just when I thought I had it all figured out, the book hit a crescendo of epic proportions. I honestly can’t praise those chapters enough. They were next-level bananapants but naturally, I won’t give any hints on what they entailed. That said, if you’re not swearing aloud with surprise regarding a character's dark intentions, you’re probably doing it wrong. Haha! I legit lost my mind because I didn’t see ANY of it coming. I do wish the world building had been a little stronger, in particular the deal with what happened under the sea, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the story. The Danish setting also worked well and added some flair by reading like historical fiction. Overall, SEA WITCH hit a lot of notes and totally needs to be in your TBR if you’re pro-villain or a fan of The Little Mermaid. 

Big thanks to HCC Frenzy for an ARC!


For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Paper Mache, Figure of Art, and Black Expressionism

China Glaze – Too Yacht to Handle, Activewear Don’t Care, Werk it Honey, and Wait N Sea

OPI – Viking in a Vinter Vonderland, You Are So Outta Lime, and matte topcoat

Essie – after school boy blazer

So Nailicious – needle brush

Mitty Burns – minty brush


review and cover mani: girls' night out

I’ve been waiting to read GIRLS’ NIGHT OUT since May. The ominous cover demanded some sort of aquatic picture, so I brought it with me when The Remix and I took an anniversary trip to a secluded island. With no shortage of amazing places to try, the only downside to my bookstagram-athon was my increasing desire to read the book. That is the point, of course, to read and review ARCs, but I don’t like to read too far before publication dates, as it's hard for me to not immediately scream about a book when I love it. Well, last week, I finally cracked the spine (metaphorically, of course) and holy cannoli, I'm happy I waited because... *gets megaphone* YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK.

The back jacket, from Goodreads

For estranged friends Ashley, Natalie, and Lauren, it’s time to heal the old wounds between them. Where better to repair those severed ties than on a girls’ getaway to the beautiful paradise of Tulum, Mexico? But even after they’re reunited, no one is being completely honest about the past or the secrets they’re hiding. When Ashley disappears on their girls’ night out, Natalie and Lauren have to try to piece together their hazy memories to figure out what could have happened to her, while also reconciling their feelings of guilt over their last moments together.

Was Ashley with the man she’d met only days before? Did she pack up and leave? Was she kidnapped? Or worse—could Natalie or Lauren have snapped under the weight of her own lies?

As the clock ticks, hour by hour, Natalie and Lauren’s search rushes headlong into growing suspicion and dread. Maybe their secrets run deeper and more dangerous than one of them is willing—or too afraid—to admit.


Female friendships are a special sort of relationship. When solid, they’re unbreakable connections, fierce and firm. But when cracks appear, whether they stem from betrayals, miscommunications, or the simple process of growing in different directions, the cracks are almost impossible repair. Any sort of dispute can cut deep, because the cut comes from somebody who knows all the skeletons in your closet, who's seen you at your best and worst, who you always thought would be in your corner. When that doesn't happen, trust vanishes in an instant and the friendship can never be the same. At its core, that’s what GIRLS’ NIGHT OUT explored. And ooooeeeee, did it feel real. Like, too real. 

Cover design by Faceout Studio

A cast of three can sometimes feel unbalanced, but in this case, Lauren, Ashley, and Natalie acted like a love triangle or sorts, with Lauren and Natalie consistently vying for Ashley’s favour. Fenton and Steinke smoked this type of muddy conflict, where everybody's at fault but unwilling (or unable) to acknowledge their part. One reviewer critiqued these characters for continuing to fight about the same few topics, and to that I say: Um, have you been in a decades’ long friendship? Because when it all falls apart, that’s exactly what happens. Memories are long and the desire to get over hurt feelings doesn’t always result in actual forgiveness. Instead, they lurk beneath the surface, festering like botulism to the soul and before you know it, you're involved in petty fights about nothing when what you’re really fighting about are the hurt feelings that aren't being addressed. That was the most admirable part of GIRLS' NIGHT OUT: the trifecta of awfulness. Through each POV, it quickly became clear to me that there would be no winners. Instead, there were three women with three valid, conflicting perspectives, and no solution in sight. 

While Lauren, Ashley, and Natalie were trying not to fight (and failing gloriously), they did manage to enjoy a little bit of Tulum’s beachy gorgeousness. That is, until Natalie woke up, unable to remember anything from the night before. In usual circumstances, that wouldn’t have been a problem, but Ashley was nowhere to be found. So despite all the personal drama, Natalie and Lauren had to figure out what happened to Ashley and like the proverbial can of worms, the slithering mass of unresolved resentments were thrust into the light. Talk about making a bad situation worse, eh? Terrible for the characters and awesome for a reader. Haha! So if you love books that are suspense-central, set in tropical paradises, with characters who begin their journey already at the end of their ropes, GIRLS’ NIGHT OUT is the book for you!

Big thanks to Liz Fenton, Lisa Steinke, and Amazon Publishing for an ARC!


For this mani, I used:

China Glaze – Kiwi Kool-ada, Werk it Honey, Glamletics, Street Style Princess, Just a Little Embellishment, and Water-falling in Love

OPI – It’s a Boy, You Are So Outta Lime, and matte topcoat

ORLY – Vintage

FingerPaints – Paper Mache and Black Expressionism

Julep – Abbie

So Nailicious – needle brush

Mitty Burns – minty brush


review and cover mani: vicious

Books with magic will always be my favourite—my true escapes—so obviously, I’m a major fan of Victoria Schwab. My first Schwab title was THIS SAVAGE SONG, followed by the Shades of Magic series, and with bookstagram counting down the days until VENGEFUL, it was time to read VICIOUS. The Titan books collector’s edition, to be specific. Because that jacket design, for real. And also the book itself…and the ribbon bookmark. My point is, the entire thing is gorgeous times one million, and the inside is even more awesome.

The back jacket, from goodreads:

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. 

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?


It’s interesting that I read GIVE ME YOUR HAND and VICIOUS back to back, as both novels had competitive friends who ultimately destroyed each other. Only in VICIOUS, it was two men. And said men gave themselves superpowers before becoming archnemeses and vowing to destroy the other. Yes, VICIOUS was basically revenge central with an X-Men vibe, which meant I couldn’t get enough. 

Design by Julia Lloyd

But Victor and Eli, an accepted villain versus a self-proclaimed hero who was in denial about his villain-nessweren’t in it alone. Each had a sidekick and in Victor’s case, he had two. So while the men were focused on destroying the other, they had to contend with allies who didn’t always agree with their actions. Even thwarted them, in certain moments, and I adore supporting characters that challenge protagonists while asserting themselves. In the case of Eli’s partner, she gave him a run for his money and the unpredictability of their relationship added another layer of tension. 

Then there were the superpowers. Schwab did a phenomenal job grounding them in science with a dollop of fantasy expertly swirled on top, complete with a gleaming Maraschino cherry of "Omg could that actually work?" The experiments truly felt like they could hold water in real life, and when I begin to suspect random people on the walking trail or in the grocery story of having ExtraOrdinary abilities, an author’s done their job. Also, it reinforced my unhappiness that yet again, I missed the magic train. Like, what does a gal have to do for some sort of supernatural power?!* 

*Not to worry, I’m not about to try this crazy experiment. Or am I? Haha! No. I’m not. Probably. {orders large quantity of ice}

My only critique was the abrupt switching of past and present. At times, chapters felt prematurely cut off—too short without enough of a reveal. I’m down with drawing out backstory, but the back and forth made my head spin, and consequently took me out of the story, which was frustrating. That said, I can’t wait for VENGEFUL. In fact, I may have ordered two special edition boxes, due to my addiction to Victoria Schwab’s writing and consequential need for all the merch possible. There’s still a couple of months left until VENGEFUL hits shelves, so you've got time to read VICIOUS and get psyched. Because revenge is a dish best served whenever, as is losing yourself in a Victoria Schwab world.


For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mache

OPI – Big Apple Red and matte topcoat

China Glaze – Street Style Princess

So Nailicious – needle brush


review and cover mani: give me your hand

Covers with some element of fire always pique my interest, so the second I saw GIVE ME YOUR HAND, my eyes turned into hearts. Then I read the description and was all: YES! I'll take science nerds all day! Ambitious, smart women are the sort of characters I can spend infinite amounts of time with, and adding in a dark secret with destructive consequences made it a done deal. Because I'm all about the destructive consequences haha!

The back jacket, from goodreads:

Kit Owens harbored only modest ambitions for herself when the mysterious Diane Fleming appeared in her high school chemistry class. But Diane's academic brilliance lit a fire in Kit, and the two developed an unlikely friendship. Until Diane shared a secret that changed everything between them. 

More than a decade later, Kit thinks she's put Diane behind her forever and she's begun to fulfill the scientific dreams Diane awakened in her. But the past comes roaring back when she discovers that Diane is her competition for a position both women covet, taking part in groundbreaking new research led by their idol. Soon enough, the two former friends find themselves locked in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse that threatens to destroy them both.


GIVE ME YOUR HAND was a fascinating reading experience. Mostly because I was tricked by Megan Abbott. I gravitate towards more plot-based novels, as their pace tends to be quicker, but still enjoy a good psychological thriller as long as I know that’s the deal before starting. With that in mind, the first fifty pages of GIVE ME YOUR HAND primarily set the scene and outlined the beginning of Kit and Diane's somewhat toxic friendship in high school. I was interested, but not overly invested. Then, suddenly, my neck was sore, my limbs stiff from sitting in the same position for too long, and I was well over the halfway point, glued to the page. Literary sorcery, I tell you! I don’t even remember any specific point where it changed. One second I was only sort of connected and the next, I was flying through pages and gasping with surprise during a series of OMG MOMENTS where things got mental. Yes, all caps, bold and italic in the same sentence are 100% necessary. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have doubted Abbott’s ability to write a psychological thriller that tunneled into the recesses of warped minds and also embraced plot. I mean, she’s Megan Abbott. 

Jacket design by Julianna Lee. 
Jacket art by Mat Collishaw (front).

Along with being a psychological thriller, emphasis on the thriller, GIVE ME YOUR HAND was unapologetically feminist—my favourite sort of feminist. From Diane and Kit, the research topic pioneered by their badass idol, and said badass idol herself, women were front and center. Abbott also touched on a universal female experience: the belief there’s only room for one woman at the top—that if another woman succeeds it means no others can. In the university lab Kit worked in, she and her peers assumed that of three available positions, only one could be for female researcher, which had me nodding my head while also seething. Because why is that? And the research topic of PMDD, a completely understudied area because the medical community doesn’t take women’s pain seriously while erectile dysfunction has been studied ad nauseam—a condition that has no pain, by the way—also had me rolling my eyes and harbouring not-positive feelings about society. I guess what I’m saying is that GIVE ME YOUR HAND fired me up, which meant that I cheered on Kit and Diane with extra-large pom poms, even when they were doing terrible things. Because when everything a person has worked towards is threatened, the stakes can't be higher. In the case for Kit and Diane, each had too much to lose and I held on for the bananas sequence of events that forced them to decide how far they were willing to go. Non spoiler alert: it was pretty darn far. 

So if you’re in the mood for well fleshed out, fierce, and brilliant female characters who don’t always make the most moral decisions and therefore pay the price (*cackles*), then make sure you get your big sexy brain to a bookstore tomorrow, because GIVE ME YOUR HAND hits shelves July 17th!

Big thanks to book sparks for a finished copy!

As an extra bonus, book sparks has generously offered a copy to a lucky reader! Head on over to my Instagram account to enter. Open to US and Canadian mailing addresses. 😊


For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mache

China Glaze – Bottoms Up, Boujee Board, Sun Worshiper, and Plur-Ple

OPI – Stay Off the Lawn, In My Back Pocket, A Good Man-Darin Is Hard to Find, Need Sunglasses, My Private Jet, and matte topcoat

So Nailicious – needle brush


review and cover mani: ayesha at last

AYESHA AT LAST was an absolute delight. Tight storylines with delicious layers of complications gave a solid nod Pride and Prejudice, but the fresh Muslim take and Canadian setting created a fun and touching story that stands on its own. I got attached to the main characters pretty quickly and then held on for the emotional rollercoaster. Because for real, there were a ton of moving parts.  

The back jacket, from goodreads:

Pride and Prejudice with a modern twist 

AYESHA SHAMSI has a lot going on.  Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century. 

When a surprise engagement between Khalid and Hafsa is announced, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and his family; and the truth she realizes about herself. But Khalid is also wrestling with what he believes and what he wants. And he just can’t get this beautiful, outspoken woman out of his mind. 


As AYESHA AT LAST is a retelling-ish tale, I was aware of the general progression of events, but then something awesome happened: I totally forgot them. Confused? Me too! Haha! It was remarkable, really, because every so often, there’d be a heavy reference that reminded me of the connection to Pride and Prejudice and I’d think: Oh riiiiiight. Bennet and Darcy. Those two.

Because these characters felt like real people I could to run into on the street. So quirky and honest and endearing that before long, they became friends. Each cast member, from Ayesha to Khalid and everyone in between, were well-rounded, authentic characters who never felt like they existed solely to tell Ayesha and Khalid’s stories. And isn’t that the best? 

All cover images: Shutterstock

Ayesha’s struggle to remain supportive of her extended family while trying to have a fulfilling life of her own was totally relatable. Doubling-down on the pressure, Ayesha also fell into a sort of grey area, being judged by non-Muslims for wearing hijab, and judged by Muslims for being too progressive, which must be a reality for many Muslims who’ve grown up in Canada. Ayesha loved to write poetry and longed to travel but needed a more stable career choice in order to pay off her debts. That is, until she found a husband and would thusly be expected to drop everything and become a wife and mother. That element was direct a tie to P&P: women could hold certain approved positions, teacher included, but striving to be a wife was the ultimate and inevitable path. Considered a near spinster in her later twenties, Ayesha seemed to have accepted her place as outside the norm and naturally, that made me love her even more because she wasn’t willing to compromise. 

Then there was Khalid. Grounded in religion, Khalid’s personality worked as the total opposite to Ayesha’s. A man of rigid faith, his stern nature immediately repelled Ayesha, despite Ayesha’s appreciation of his physical appearance. Mr. Darcy was never more religious than most, his uppity demeanour stemming from privilege and wealth, which made Khalid all the more interesting. His somewhat stifled life, one where he did was he was told and held himself to the highest of standards, immediately had me sympathizing with him. Between Ayesha and Khalid, the latter’s journey proved more captivating, more significant. Because while Ayesha had people in her corner who encouraged her to express herself and be true to her dreams, Khalid had no such support. His obedience was a given, which made his choice to take another path all the more powerful.  

And can we please talk about how AYESHA AT LAST was set in Toronto? And how the writing was smooth as silk, rhythmic and immersive? Or to circle back to my intro, how the vast number of interconnected storylines joined forces to form an epic saga of love and family? Where every single character had their own highs and lows, goals and drives? I would like to chat about all of these things because there’s so much awesome crammed into this novel that I can hardly stand it! So if you’re in the mood for a touching, fun, and ultimately uplifting, diverse romantic comedy about two people who have to find themselves before they can find each other, AYESHA AT LAST is the book for you! Five stars, plus one bazillion stars, for a total of one bazillion and five stars. 

As a special bonus treat, the awesome folks at HarperCollins Canada have offered a copy for me to give away! Check out my Instagram account to enter! Giveaway closes on July 20. 


For this mani, I used:

ORLY – Skinny Dip

FingerPaints - Black Expressionism and Paper Mache

China Glaze – Werk It Honey and Water-Falling in Love

OPI – A Good Man-Darin is Hard to Find and matte topcoat

Glisten and Glow – topcoat

So Nailicious – needle brush

Small dotting tool