book review (with tribute mani!): library of souls

This is the third book in the Miss Peregrine’s series, and because I don’t want to spoil the amazingness that is this series, my review will focus on why you should totally still read Library of Souls… after you’ve read the first two. Because it’s a series. And that’s how series work best. Haha! As the cover is freaking incredible, I had to do a tribute mani to go along with my review. You know, because that's how my reviews work best. ;)

The synopsis, from Goodreads (which is nice and vague and won't ruin the first two for you--nicely done there, synopsis writer!)

The adventures that began with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and continued with Hollow City comes to a thrilling conclusion with Library of Souls.

As the story opens, sixteen-year-old Jacob discovers a powerful new ability, and soon he’s diving through history to rescue his peculiar companions from a heavily guarded fortress. Accompanying Jacob on his journey are Emma Bloom, a girl with fire at her fingertips, and Addison MacHenry, a dog with a nose for sniffing out lost children.

They’ll travel from modern-day London to the labyrinthine alleys of Devil’s Acre, the most wretched slum in all of Victorian England. It’s a place where the fate of peculiar children everywhere will be decided once and for all. 

Like its predecessors, Library of Souls blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography.


The coolest thing about the Miss Peregrine’s series is the way it’s written. Yes, there are words strung together in delightful sentences, which are then compiled into paragraphs (like every other book in existence), but what those words are based on is the difference. Throughout all three books, there are old, black-and-white photos. Most are creepy, some even unsettling—a very Nightmare Before Christmas, kind of vibe, if Nightmare Before Christmas included real people. (Fun Fact: Tim Burton’s actually directing the movie, which makes the most sense ever, haha!) And having the creep-tastic photos to go alongside the story is what puts this series into its own category.

Painting these distressed wings to match the cover photo (which is also in the book itself) was equal parts challenging and super fun. Totally worth it, though! And a matte topcoat gives it just the right amount of vintage flair. I just love it! 

Most of the photos are real, and are indexed in the back of each book. Now, I don’t know how much the photos inspired the story, although I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a huge impact on the plot. They all fit perfectly together, as if they’d been developed for the explicit purpose of ending up in Ransom Riggs’s hands so he could bring them all together to tell a tale that is as engaging as it is original. I mean, I literally cannot think of a single other book I’ve read that uses a similar format.

Photos aside, the story itself is extraordinary. With its enormous cast of characters, I can’t begin to imagine how many storyboards Mr. Riggs would have needed to keep them all straight. Because each character is three-dimensional—almost real enough to touch. Plus, the majority of characters are “peculiar,” which means that they have some kind of power. Not quite to an X-men-ish degree, as most aren’t particularly useful on a day-to-day basis, but heck, I’d take any one of them. Err…except for the bees. I’m not a fan of bees. So I tip my hat to the author, because I legitimately don’t know how he did it. Frankly, I’m even a bit jealous.

If awesomely creepy black-and-white pictures and characters with strange powers aren't enough to hook you, there’s time travel, super high stakes (the state of the world!), deep friendships, mental-face adventures that keep you on the edge of your seat (literally--I was perched on the couch for a large percentage of each book), and a small splash of romance. So if you’re looking for a way to ignore your family/friends/pets for 24 – 48 hours, depending how long it takes for you to read three books, I highly recommend the Miss Peregrine’s series.


a little halloween inspiration

Two weeks ago, I shared a Reader's Digest version of my stupid summer, and included in that post was a picture of me, taken a few hours after my cataract surgery.

As you can see, I looked pretty freaking deranged. In fact, I believe my original caption was, "Bring me your delicious children!" Haha!

Well, my very hilarious friend Beth decided to take that picture and do a little editing, because an extremely dilated pupil really shouldn't go to waste. Haha! 

Her edits were so freaking funny that I asked her if I could share them. As you've probably guessed, she agreed. And with Halloween time on the horizon, arguably the very best part of fall (actually, not arguably. It's not up for debate: Halloween is the best. Ha!), I thought the timing was perfect. You know, just in case you know of someone having cataract surgery around the 31st and would like some costume ideas. Haha!

So without further ado, here are the Four Faces of Cataract Jennie:

Hahaha! Aren't they fabulous?! It's hard for me to pick a favourite because I love them all. I find my eyes look the most red and dilated with Dia de los Muerto Jennie, because of the black-and-white theme, but the zombie green matches my eye colour...gah! I seriously can't choose! 

Which one is your favourite? Alternate question: which do you find the most horrifying? Haha!

Thanks again, Beth! These are a hoot!


book review (with a tribute mani!): a walk in the woods

On my last book buying binge, one of my favourite booksellers (hi Steph!) recommended a few books that hadn’t been on my radar. One of her suggestions was a non-fiction book called A WALK IN THE WOODS. I'd never heard of Bill Bryson before, which slightly horrified Steph, so she started the hard sell. "He just woke up one day and decided to hike the entire Appalachian trail!" she said, with a wide smile and chuckle. The twinkle in Steph's eyes was undeniable and she'd clearly loved it because she and another employee put a big STAFF PICK sticker on the cover, so I added it to my pile. And just like every other one of Steph's recs, it was awesome!

The synopsis, courtesy of Goodreads.

The Appalachian Trail trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America–majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you’re going to take a hike, it’s probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaining guide you’ll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the other hardy (or just foolhardy) folks he meets along the way–and a couple of bears. Already a classic, A Walk in the Woods will make you long for the great outdoors (or at least a comfortable chair to sit and read in). 

The majority of the non-fiction I read is comedic, and Steph’s description of the quirky nature of Bill Bryson’s writing was bang on. I don’t think that I’ve ever read a such a fact-filled work of non-fiction without being bored to tears—a relative triumph, in my opinion. Because Bill Bryson loves facts, guys and gals. He loves them hard. But he's also funny. Very, very funny. It's an excellent combination. So if the book was simply Bill's take on hiking the trail, it would probably still be entertaining, but there's more than just facts, a long hike, and comedy delivery in A WALK IN THE WOODS, and his name is Katz.

Oh Katz. He's just the best!

After Bill sent out invitations via his wife's Christmas card mailing, only one person responded with interest in joining his hike along the Appalachian trail: Katz, an old friend who Bill had traveled in Europe with, when they were in their early twenties. And so the two of them set out, albeit it with much different equipment (higher quality camping gear for Bill and several packages of Little Debbie cakes for Katz--one of the reasons I loved him!). As you can probably guess, this is where the comedy begins in earnest, because two middle-aged, inexperienced men in the wilderness is bound to be funny. You know, as long as it doesn't end with one being eaten by a bear or something. And speaking of bears, that was one of the first times I laughed out loud, when Bill recounted information he learned from a book titled: Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance. 

Good grief, was that a funny section. Haha!

For my tribute mani, I tried to recreate the walking raccoon. Yes, there's one leg too many, and props to you if you noticed before reading this caption. I didn't realize it until I started editing the photos. Haha! The polishes I used were ORLY's White Tips, OPI's You Don't Know Jacques, Julep's Rooney, China Glaze's Change Your Altitude, Fingerpaints' Black Expressionism, and Black Rite Stripe.

While it's clear that Bill’s take on the world is dominantly academic, he remains accessible. It’s a feat, being both an academic and a relatable human, and I would know because I spent a very long time acquiring university degrees where the overwhelming majority of the academics I encountered were somewhat socially illiterate. But the few professors and colleagues I knew who were hella smart and spoke like a normal human? Those were the people I wanted to have a drink with. Or, you know, maybe go on a two-thousand-plus-mile hike with. If I were a hiker, that is. (I'm not. Haha!)

That's why the book works so well. On one hand, there's Bill, the by-the-book hike leader-slash-travel-writer, while on the other hand, there's good ole Katz. An everyman kind of person, if you will. Their different takes on their journey are what makes the story so engaging. And when Katz loses his mind (which happens a handful of times) I laughed out loud. The best way to describe those moments is that Katz said aloud what all of us were thinking, Bill included. Haha!

It's amazing to me how different lighting can alter polish colours. This shot is inside a lightbox, with indoor light. The other two pictures were taken outside, and consequently look much darker.

So if you're in the market for a fun, informative read about an area of the United States that most don't know much about, then I highly recommend A WALK IN THE WOODS. And if you like the sounds of the book but don't want to read it, you're in luck because there's a movie currently playing, starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte (I'll leave it to you to suss out which actor plays which role, haha!).


while I've been away...

It's been about six weeks since I've blogged about anything, but rest assured, I've been keeping busy. Yes, August of 2015 shall now be referred to as The Month of the Hospital, as I couldn't seem to stay out of it. But because I'm super considerate, I spread my hospital visits around. You know, to keep things fair. Haha! 

My first hospital visit, in early August, was for cataract surgery. No, you didn't read that wrong, I said cataract surgery. As in, a surgery most often reserved for older folks. The high dose of steroids I take have some sneaky and sucky side-effects though and, you guessed it, cataracts are one of them. So because I'm high-maintenance and prefer to see as clearly as possible (ha!) I got my left one fixed.

Please note the giant "X" over my left eye. Always good to mark which eye to be operated on, right? Plus, who doesn't want a big X on their forehead, to go with their super cute blue hairnet? Haha!

Ten minutes after I was wheeled out of the prep room, the surgery was over and I was the proud new owner of a new eye lens and nifty patch!

"Bring me your delicious children!" is all I could think when I saw how freaking dilated my cataract-y eye had gotten after surgery. Haha!

The recovery wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be, but one major problem was not being able to read or paint my nails. The artificial lens that my doctor put in only works for seeing things far away. Up close, it's all a blur. He likes to refer to this as "short arm syndrome," because suddenly, I found myself trying to put as much distance as I can between whatever I'm trying to read and my eyeballs. Unfortunately, this doesn't work, hence my doctor's funny phrase. Also, this is one of the reasons why I love him. He's unintentionally hilarious.  

Anyway, so while I was dying of boredom because my other eye could only read for so long before getting tired, and painting my nails was pretty much impossible (holy not even close to cleaning up my cuticles!) my body decided to double-down on health complications by brewing up an internal infection that traveled up to my kidneys. 

So one bright and sunny Monday, two weeks after my first hospital visit, I pretty much collapsed in my kitchen because I was so cold that my knees started to wobble and I couldn't stand. And when I mean cold, I mean cold, guys and gals. I'm Canadian and am therefore well versed with coldness and I can honestly say that I've never experienced a cold like that. Add in some uncontrollable nausea, and I wound up with a free ride to my local hospital via an ambulance.

After chilling in the E.R. for a while (chilling--get it? Haha! Even when I'm sick, I'm really quite funny) I was formally admitted and then spent the next couple of days hooked up to an IV that slowly dripped medicine into my infection-riddled body. Naturally, I named my IV pole. Because, of course. 

IVana Drip proved to be a tricky little minx, but all in all, we got along pretty well. 

Thankfully, I was only kept for one night, and managed to get a semi-private room with a bit of a view.

The recovery from the infection took about ten days and I'm happy to report that as of last week, blood work confirmed that I'm back to being as healthy a horse. Or my version of that anyway. Haha! My eyeball has healed up nicely as well, but that's why I've been so absent. There just wasn't a lot of time during August and early September where I felt well enough to blog. 

This week, I've had a successive seven-day absence from needing medical attention--yay!--and I've slowly been pulling myself back together. I'm even back to reading now and already know that the book I'm into at the moment is SO resulting in a review and tribute mani (it's so funny!) so hopefully I'll be able to put a review and tribute mani next week. I also have some new posts brewing and my plan is to get back into my blogging schedule within the next few weeks.

So that's what's been going on with me. Not the awesomest of stories, but a story nonetheless. (Shout-out to my hubs, The Remix, for being so supportive during all the madness. You're the best, babe!)

I hope you've all had a great end of your summers! Happy Pumpkin Spice Season! Haha!


and the winner is...

My apologies for the delayed announcement, but the winner of a paperback copy of The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster is...

The Lemoncholy Life Of Annie Aster

Woot woot!! Congrats, Daniela! I'll be sending you an email today!

And thanks to all who entered! :D


the nail files: the final linkup *wipes tear*

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**Link up with us to show off your cute manis (either done by yourself or in a salon), nail polish purchases and/or recommendations, nail polish tips--whatever nail-related thing you'd like! Yay for nails!**


Oh em to the gee, guys. It's the end of an era.


Okay, so maybe "era," is a stretch, being that the nail files hasn't been around that long, but still, it's been such a big part of my blogging life that I miss it already. I had a great time going through my pictures from way back in 2012 and I love that it's easy to see how much better I've gotten, both at doing nail art and taking photos of said nail art. Yay for proper nail art tools and a light box. Haha!

Here are a few collages of what I consider my best manis from 2012 to now.

*cue Greenday's Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)*

Ah, the first year. I became a Julep Maven and got my very first set of dotting tools. Oh the fun I had trying to make symmetrical dots! (Read: I cleaned out the white wine section of the liquor store, haha!) Towards the end of the year, I got on Pinterest, which opened up an entirely new world of nail inspiration. I learned so much from step-by-step tutorials!

The highlight of 2013 was getting a feature on Ellen's IG. I did the centre mani for her website (it's a mani of those two adorable little girls from England: Sophia Grace and Rosie) and it's been the Nail Art cover photo on the site, ever since. Definitely one of the cooler nail-related things that've happened to me. For obvious reasons. Ha! This was also the year I added nail art brushes to my nail art arsenal, along with vinyl decals and striping tape. I did two nail art video tutorials this year as well, and because they took so darn long to edit and upload, they were also my last. ;)

For Christmas of 2013, my baby brother bought me a light box, and it made all the difference for 2014's pictures. I also upgraded my lens that year, and I think the photos show a remarkable improvement. This was also the year that I bought rhinestones and studs to up my game. Haha! Gotta love the mega-shine that comes from a rhinestone! Nail care also became a priority in 2014, so it marked the end of my dry-ass skin and cuticles. Ha! In addition to all that, I went to my first Julep Maven Meet-up, in Toronto, and it was super awesome to meet Jane Park and try out new polishes. Yay for sneak previews!

With my polish collection larger than ever, 2015 has been the most diverse year, in terms of colour selection. Because, you know, four years in, I pretty much have every colour ever made. Haha! I started getting lots of inspiration from mega-talented nail artists on Instagram, and tried my hand at far more intricate designs. Some of these manis took forever, but they were pretty freaking awesome and therefore worth the time investment. Except, of course, when they failed. Because yes, even four years after I started, I still have #nailfails all the time. *deep sigh* Haha!

So there you have it. We've reached the end of the very last nail files post. Thank you so much for stopping by, leaving a comment, and/or linking up over the last few years. Without you, the nail files wouldn't have gone on for as long as it has and I've loved seeing your pretties each and every week!! And a special shout-out goes to Kimberly, who's been linking up since the very beginning. #nailfileshighfive

Stay sparkly, people!

And don't forget to link up your last nail files post! :D


book review (with tribute mani!): the lemoncholy life of annie aster

I can’t believe that I’m writing this review. Mostly because when you see someone work their tail off and the payoff finally arrives, it can feel like a dream. Enter, THE LEMONCHOLY LIFE OF ANNIE ASTER by Scott Wilbanks, my marvelously talented critique partner. 

Side Note: In addition to a review, it should come as no surprise that I did a tribute mani, because not only am I so darn proud of Scott that I considered making a sandwich board sign to wear around town advertising his release, but the cover of his debut novel is too pretty for life. 


The synopsis, from Goodreads:
Annabelle Aster doesn’t bow to convention—not even that of space and time—which makes the 1890s Kansas wheat field that has appeared in her modern-day San Francisco garden easy to accept. Even more peculiar is Elsbeth, the truculent schoolmarm who sends Annie letters through the mysterious brass mailbox perched on the picket fence that now divides their two worlds.
Annie and Elsbeth’s search for an explanation to the hiccup in the universe linking their homes leads to an unsettling discovery—and potential disaster for both of them. Together they must solve the mystery of what connects them before one of them is convicted of a murder that has yet to happen…and yet somehow already did.
From writing my own manuscripts and reviewing books, I learned early on that some authors are writers, while others are storytellers. And after reading the first page of Scott’s work, it was clear that he is the latter. His creation of a world that’s partly based in San Francisco during the mid-nineties and simultaneously in Kansas, a century earlier, flows seamlessly. As a literally-minded gal, I can get lost easily in complex plot, so adding a time-travel element could have been the kiss of death regarding my ability to fall into the story, but that doesn’t even almost happen with THE LEMONCHOLY LIFE. I was sucked in from the very beginning and rode the cresting wave of tension right to the very end. 

Like most things that are extraordinary, in order to truly enjoy THE LEMONCHOLY LIFE, you must invest in the process and give yourself over to the rhythmic beat of the prose. Scott's not just a storyteller, you see, he's a "proser," meaning that the way Scott delivers his story is just as important as the story itself. Okay, so "proser" may not actually be a word, but you know what I mean. Haha! Don’t shy away from the effort, though. It’s more than worth it. 

Because yes, his characters are truly original; layered, flawed, deeply feeling characters who immediately feel like real people. And yes, the plot is like driving through a mountain range—extreme highs and lows, sometimes on the same page. But the part that really sets Scott apart is his ability to see beneath the surface and bring that depth to life. It’s the unusual, often ignored aspects of the real world that Scott is a master of revealing, and he does so in his own, beautifully-crafted way. Add that to his extensive vocabulary which produces the most perfect words for any situation, and you’ve got a tale that is unlike anything you’ve read before. 

So if you can carve out a chunk of time to acquaint yourself with THE LEMONCHOLY LIFE OF ANNIE ASTER, you’ll be privy to a tale about the triumph of the human spirit and friendship, with a healthy dollop of mystery, just in case you needed another reason to pick up a copy. Because, you know, murder makes every story better. Ha! 

And because I want everybody in the entire world to read THE LEMONCHOLY LIFE OF ANNIE ASTER, I’m giving away a copy! This is an international giveaway, as long as it’s understood it may take a while to arrive, depending on where the winner lives. The rafflecopter will be live for the next week, so good luck!


the nail files: all the sparkle

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**Link up with us to show off your cute manis (either done by yourself or in a salon), nail polish purchases and/or recommendations, nail polish tips--whatever nail-related thing you'd like! Yay for nails!**


For the last week of Sparkle Month, here on the nail files, I decided to go all out and use as many sparkles as possible. Naturally, it made my freaking week. Because sparkles rule!! Haha!

I can't even with this mani, guys.

Can't. Even.

It's so beyond sparkly and I love every single element. Plus, depending on the light, it looks different every time I look at it!

The silvery-sparkle nails have two coats of Mirrorball, but there are three layers of sparkles on my feature fingers. First, I did one coat of Steal the Spotlight and when that was dry, I added two thin coats of Mermaid Tale and Monster Mash, with each colour filling half of the nail. I reversed them as well, just for a little more visual interest. Not that this mani actually needed it. Haha!

For the final touch, I added two rhinestones to each feature nail.

Like I said earlier, loooooooooove.

*sighs happily*

So that brings us to the end of Sparkle Month, and I'm sorry to say that I have another sad announcement. After a lot of thought, I've decided to stop hosting weekly linkups. In April, I recommitted to blogging more and I've found that my nail files posts take twice the time to write/put together as other posts. When I first started hosting, I wasn't writing as much and had more time, but now, things have changed and unfortunately, in order to have a more well-rounded blog, I need to let the nail files go.

But before I shut it down, I'm proposing one final linkup: next week, on August 7th--a swan song to the nail files, if you will. Whether you choose to do a recreation of a past nail files mani, share your ultimate favourite nail colour, or even a collection of pictures that highlight past nail files manis, any post is welcome! Frankly, I'll probably do a combination of all three because I really am sad to say goodbye. That's not to say that I won't still post pictures of my nails, but it'll be mostly on Instagram.

So put your thinking caps on for your last link up post, next week. Let's go out with a bang! :)

Hope you all have an awesome weekend!


the nail files: simple sparkles

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**Link up with us to show off your cute manis (either done by yourself or in a salon), nail polish purchases and/or recommendations, nail polish tips--whatever nail-related thing you'd like! Yay for nails!**


I've had a crazy busy week, this week, so that meant I needed a simple mani (as I really don't like having naked nails--oh the horror! haha!). This one took no time at all and I love how it turned out.

To start, I did two coats of Shelly. When that was dry, I used Erin for the tips by carefully starting at one side and then dragging the brush to the other side. I did this twice, to get a solid, straight-ish line. While that was drying, I applied the three loose pieces of holo diamonds. One coat of Glisten and Glow's HK Girl Top Coat sealed everything together.

I love how fresh and simple this mani is, but the contrast of the light grey and light teal give it a bit of an edge. And, of course, the holo diamonds are freaking gorgeous with their sparkle-factor (thanks again, Beth!). 

What are you rocking this week? Link up and show off! Also, we've got one week left in Sparkle month, so if you've been thinking about joining in on the fun, get your mani ready for next Friday!

Have an awesome weekend!


pretty flower pics from the garden

When The Remix was cutting the grass a little while ago, he asked me if I'd seen the flowers growing in the backyard.

"Oh yeah," I said. "They're peonies."

"Yeah. I know," he replied. "But have you seen them this year? They're huge! And I think there are more than before."

Intrigued, I stopped painting my nails and ventured into our backyard. When we got to the back garden, I couldn't believe how right he was! Not only were they bigger, but there were a whole lot more of them. Last year, all we had were small-ish, light pink peonies, but this year, there were also dark pink and white peonies, along with a flower that is definitely not a peony, but still super pretty. I'm not a gardener, but I'm pretty sure it's called a Fluffy Fluff-Fluff (probably not, haha!). 

I got my little gardening shears (pink, of course) and cut all the big blossoms I could find. By the end of my shear-fest, I needed two vases to hold them all. And because they were so freaking gorgeous, I took a whole whack of pictures.

Here are some (because, you know, sometimes it's just nice to look at pretty things. You're welcome. Haha!):