17.11.17

review and cover mani: wicked like a wildfire

The cover for WICKED LIKE A WILDFIRE caught my attention because…well…its beauty basically rendered me speechless. With the dark purple base, eclectic flowers and design, I was anxious to read it while having no idea what it was about. I just knew I needed the book. So imagine my delighted surprise when I read the back jacket and discovered the intriguing nature of WICKED LIKE A WILDFIRE, dense with unusual magic, family secrets, and an ominous curse—a trifecta of YA awesomeness, if you will. But let me tell you, that’s just the tip of the awesomeness iceberg, so let’s get started with the review!



The back jacket, from Goodreads:

All the women in Iris and Malina’s family have the unique magical ability or “gleam” to manipulate beauty. Iris sees flowers as fractals and turns her kaleidoscope visions into glasswork, while Malina interprets moods as music. But their mother has strict rules to keep their gifts a secret, even in their secluded sea-side town. Iris and Malina are not allowed to share their magic with anyone, and above all, they are forbidden from falling in love. 

But when their mother is mysteriously attacked, the sisters will have to unearth the truth behind the quiet lives their mother has built for them. They will discover a wicked curse that haunts their family line—but will they find that the very magic that bonds them together is destined to tear them apart forever?

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Now that I’ve finished WICKED LIKE A WILDFIRE, the back jacket description seems quite sparse and as a reader that should make you psyched for life because it means there’s a ton to discover. Without spoiling surprises, this book is set in a place that I didn’t know much about and I frickin’ loved how the vivid descriptions made me feel like I was looking out the window while Iris wove her way to the top of a mountain, or steps behind her as she raced through winding streets on her way to work. Authors with the ability to completely transport me are always on my must-read list and Popović is now a member of that club in a major way. 


Jacket art © 2017 by Lisa Perrin
Jacket design by Heather Daugherty


The first part of the book set the stage with character introductions and the status quo for Iris, Malina, and their mother. The pace was steady but on the slower-burn side, until their mothers’ attack and then it became a slingshot. Or a rocket. But a windy slingshot or rocket because roughly seven thousand things happened that left me all:

 kenan thompson wow GIF


Nothing was as it seemed in WICKED LIKE A WILDFIRE and betrayal lurked around every corner. Just when I thought I knew the next turn, everything was flipped upside and I loved every frickin’ second.




Another strength was the magic itself, the manipulation of beauty. Original and fantastical, the gleams were unlike any other magic I’ve read about. They were fascinating and a true testament to the power of imagination. So combined with dynamic characters and a darkly bewitching plot, WICKED LIKE A WILDFIRE stands apart from other novels in the genre and omg I can’t wait for the next one. 

Plus there’s this magnificent cover, which I can’t help circling back to because HOLY THIS COVER. I’m totally incapable of not talking about it. Haha! But for real, this is a must read for YA fantasy fans, so add it to your TBRs, friends!

Huge thanks to HCC Frenzy and HarperCollins Canada for hooking me up with this incredible finished copy!



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For this mani, I used:

OPI – You Don’t Know Jacques, Can’t Find My Czechbook, You Are So Outta Lime, In My Back Pocket, Red My Fortune Cookie, A Good Man-Darin Is Hard To Find, Dating A Royal, Do You Lilac It, My Silk Tie, and matte topcoat

ORLY – Plum Sugar

Julep – Mona

China Glaze – Trip of a Lime Time and Intelligence Integrity & Courage

Mitty Burns – Candy 00 and Clean Pro Flat nail art brush


9.11.17

review and cover mani: the female of the species

Dearest booknerds,

I’m going to get screamy in this review, so you should be thankful I’m not a vlogger or I’d blow out your speakers in a major way because OMG THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES. Trust me when I say that you have an immediate purchase* in your future, somewhere between right now and when you finish reading this review.

*or library reserve, YAY LIBRARIES!


The back jacket, from Goodreads:

A contemporary YA novel that examines rape culture through alternating perspectives. 

Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it.

Three years ago, when her older sister, Anna, was murdered and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best—the language of violence. While her own crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people. Not with Jack, the star athlete who wants to really know her but still feels guilty over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered. And not with Peekay, the preacher’s kid with a defiant streak who befriends Alex while they volunteer at an animal shelter. Not anyone.

As their senior year unfolds, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting these three teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

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While the cover of THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES is all: Oh I’m bright yellow and happy, don’t let it fool you. This isn’t a happy sort of book. It deals with cruelty of all sorts. Awful, horrendous cruelty that may be too much for people because it stays with you, wiggles into the corners of your mind and refuses to leave. But that said, it’s also wondrous. Powerful and astute, McGinnis pulls no punches. Instead, she adds kicks. Kicks that forced me to take breaks because they hit hard, followed by uppercuts of empowerment and jabs of frustrated rage, both of which brought me to tears more than once.


Cover art by Tracy Turnbull.
Cover design by Erin Fitzsimmons.


Did I mention I was reading THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES while on a plane? Where anyone could see me trying to hide my face behind a book with a friendly-appearing cover? Not even the risk of public side-eyes could stop me from reading, folks, which doesn’t happen often.




As for Alex, the dangerous teen who stole my heart, I’m not sure I can convey how beautifully complicated and kind of effed up she was, without including spoilers. An admitted killer, there was so much more to her character, pops of light in the dark. But even her darkness itself had light because she accepted those parts of herself. Pragmatic and controlled, Alex led a life that accounted for her predispositions and she wasn’t prepared for the changes Jack and Peekay brought to her life. But we don’t always know what we need, as Alex quickly discovered. Her journey kept me on the edge of my seat and by the end, I was dehydrated from all the silent crying. (ALSO OMG THE END.)




So if you’re into darker stories that will leave you wrecked in the best way, you need to get yourself to a bookstore as quickly as humanly possible. Also pick up tissue. Seriously.



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For this mani, I used:

ORLY – Road Trippin’

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mâché

OPI – Dating A Royal, Tiramisu for Two, Malaga Wine

China Glaze – Intelligence, Integrity & Courage

Mitty Burns – Candy 00 and Clean Pro Flat brushes








2.11.17

review and cover mani: sleeping beauties

A few weeks ago, I saw Stephen King and Owen King speak about their recent collaborative novel, SLEEPING BEAUTIES. To call it an awesome night would be a hideous understatement. I’ve been a fan of Stephen King for a long time, which is hilarious because I don’t really like being scared, but my desire for immersive, killer (haha) stories means I’ve read a lot of his titles. Each ticket to the event included a hardcover copy of the book and I was lucky enough to snag a signed copy, which doesn’t really have much to do with my review but WOOOOT!! Haha!


Taking this pic was so.much.fun.



The back jacket, from Goodreads:

In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place. The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain? 

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One of the reasons I love Stephen King’s writing is because he never holds back and in the most gloriously feminist way, nobody is off limits. Nope, there’s nothing sacred about women in King’s novels, that’s for sure, and it’s just the best. That couldn’t be more the case with SLEEPING BEAUTIES. But it turns out that Stephen King didn’t come up with the idea; it was his son, Owen.


Jacket illustration by Frederico Bebber. 
Jacket Design by Jim Tierney.

I know this because as I previously wrote, I managed to get tickets for the Toronto stop on their book tour. The way Stephen and Owen described their collaboration was unlike anything I’d ever heard, each writing pieces of a chapter and then handing it back and forth--a true collaboration. They said the result was a piece of work that didn’t really sound like either of them. At the time, I couldn’t understand how that was possible, but now that I've read the book, it’s true. So while there were typical trademarks of Stephen’s writing: sparing (to no) use of adverbs, rich sensory details, and unreliable characters, the voice was wholly unique. So cool, right?




All that is good and well, kind of what you'd expect from to literary powerhouses, but the part that I loved most about SLEEPING BEAUTIES was Evie. *inserts heart eyes* Mysterious and strong, violent and playful, Evie was a kaleidoscope of awesome pieces, all working together in surprising harmony, and she stole every scene she was in. Learning about her purpose kept me turning pages because I knew that whenever she appeared, shit was about to get real. And I dig that about a character!




The length of SLEEPING BEAUTIES may make you hesitate (a whopping 702 pages) and while I think some cuts could’ve been made, the story operates on a 360 degree swivel, digging into the nitty-gritty of the sleeping virus phenomenon. This next part may seem like a spoiler even though it’s on the back jacket of my copy (not sure why the GR one is different) but there’s also more than one storyline, which added extra areas to be fleshed out and examined. I feel that’s why the pace meandered at times, because there were some characters I didn't care to know much about, but even with the slower bits, it’s clear that storytelling genes are rich in the King household. The subject matter is timely, provocative, and well executed, so if you're into science fiction/fantasy, make sure you pick up a copy!



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For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mâché

China Glaze – Wait N Sea and My Way Or The Highway

ORLY – Makeup to Breakup

OPI – Red My Fortune Cookie

Glisten and Glow – topcoat

Mitty Burns – Candy 00, Peachy 000, and Clean Pro Flat brushes




25.10.17

review and cover mani: #NotYourPrincess

I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed an anthology before, but when Annick Press reached out to tell me about #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women, I knew I had to read it. A collection of over fifty Indigenous artists are featured and their poetry, prose, artwork, and interviews show what it’s like to be an Indigenous woman in today’s society. And OMG is it ever an astounding compellation of work. 




The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Whether looking back to a troubled past or welcoming a hopeful future, the powerful voices of Indigenous women across North America resound in this book. In the same style as the best-selling Dreaming in Indian#NotYourPrincess presents an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art that combine to express the experience of being a Native woman. Stories of abuse, humiliation, and stereotyping are countered by the voices of passionate women making themselves heard and demanding change. Sometimes angry, often reflective, but always strong, the women in this book will give teen readers insight into the lives of women who, for so long, have been virtually invisible.

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There’s a really fresh and vibrant tone to #NotYourPrincess, and not just because of the full-colour pages. Unapologetic truth is front and centre in the artists’ creations. When I first began reading, I mistakenly assumed that I’d finish the book in one sitting, but I couldn’t. The vulnerability affected me in a profound way and I needed time to reflect. This isn’t hyperbole, either. It’s exactly what happened.


Cover photography by Tenille Campbell of Sweetmoon Photography. 
Shooting by Darian Lonechild.


The overall message of #NotYourPrincess is diversity; that Indigenous women are far more than the negative "stereotypes" we're all aware of. Some of my favourite pieces included “Real NDNZ,” which recreated classic Hollywood portraits of movie stars. Hellllllo Shayna Jackson (Dakota/Cree) channeling Audrey Hepburn! The spectrum of female professional careers displayed was also awesome. Because of course Native American women are doctors, lawyers, and athletes, and it's so important for teens to see these strong messages because we all know they aren't the usual fare. It really is time to ditch those harmful and pervasive images that flood mainstream media—heck, it’s actually long overdue—and #NotYourPrincess delivers them in an accessible way. The collection certainly includes and respects the pain that Indigenous women have felt (and continue to feel), and I love that it ends with a hopeful, empowering note. 




That brings me to a piece of tangible change that non-Indigenous women (and men) can do right now. Halloween is around the corner, which means that costume choices are a hot topic of discussion. In Jessica Deer's piece (Mohawk), she discusses the harmful impact of “highly inaccurate and dehumanizing representations of Indigenous peoples in sports, on television, on the runway, or in costumes on the shelves of a Halloween store" because those representations "shape much of what people know and think about us.” This is a statement that needs to be repeated and heard, because those depictions are everywhere, which means it's obvious that we aren't actually listening. Or we are listening and still choose the wrong choice because we don’t think it’s a big deal.

*beckons you closer to make direct eye contact*

Come on, people. Can we please do better? Cultural appropriation in the form of a "Pocahottie" costume is ignorant and damaging. There are about a million other options out there so please choose one of those. This tired BS needs to stop. You want to wear a crown of feathers? Perfect, be a parrot. Don't wear something that will cause harm to another. Also, I'd like to add that this applies to every day. It's literally the least you can do. Decontsructing systemic racism is challenging, frustrating, and will likely take a long time to achieve. But not wearing an offensive costume? That can happen this very second and it's a first step in helping shift the narrative. Change from the ground up, starting now. 

So after you've ditched your terrible costume in favour of something amazing, or if you've already chosen a hate-free ensemble, head on over to your bookstore of choice and pick up #NotYourPrincess. I promise that you'll be moved and inspired.


Big thanks to Annick Press for sending me a review copy!



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For this mani, I used:

OPI - Samoan Sand, Lucky Lucky Lavender, A Good Man-Darin Is Hard To Find, Dating A Royal, CIA = Color Is Awesome, You Don't Know Jacques, Malaga Wine, and matte topcoat

Julep - Erin, Janae, and Lizzy

Essie - Satin Sister and Party On A Platform

China Glaze - Wait N Sea

FingerPaints - Black Expressionism and Paper Mâché

Mitty Burns - Candy 00 and Clean Flat Pro nail art brushes

What's Up Nails - Skinny Zig Zag tape