13.9.18

review and cover mani: the house of one thousand eyes

When I first heard of THE HOUSE OF ONE THOUSAND EYES, it sounded like a great dystopian read. Upon closer inspection, I discovered it was actually historical fiction set behind the Berlin Wall, so tomato to-mah-to? With strong 1984 vibes that hit close to home *glances south* this novel started small and then stretched into a high-stakes, tension-packed reading experience.



The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Who can Lena trust to help her find out the truth? Life in East Germany in the early 1980s is not easy for most people, but for Lena, it’s particularly hard. After the death of her parents in a factory explosion and time spent in a psychiatric hospital recovering from the trauma, she is sent to live with her stern aunt, a devoted member of the ruling Communist Party. Visits with her beloved Uncle Erich, a best-selling author, are her only respite. But one night, her uncle disappears without a trace. Gone also are all his belongings, his books, and even his birth records. Lena is desperate to know what happened to him, but it’s as if he never existed. The worst thing, however, is that she cannot discuss her uncle or her attempts to find him with anyone, not even her best friends. There are government spies everywhere. But Lena is unafraid and refuses to give up her search, regardless of the consequences. This searing novel about defiance, courage, and determination takes readers into the chilling world of a society ruled by autocratic despots, where nothing is what it seems.

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Paranoia touched every character in THE HOUSE OF ONE THOUSAND EYES, as the Stasi didn’t mess around when it came to dissent. Even the wisp of a critique towards the government could send someone to a blank space on the map, or spurn a vicious rumour to isolate the one who'd complained, along with any other number of reprimands. Knowing that up front immediately created pressure, because nobody could be trusted. Lena, however, found herself in a unique situation. Thanks to her stay in a psychiatric hospital, Lena was granted a certain degree of invisibility, which she used to her advantage once her Uncle went missing.   


Cover art/design by Emma Dolan


I found myself connecting to Lena early on, sympathizing with the restrictive nature of her daily routine. Her imagination struck me as a barely used muscle, because the Stasi encouraged dreaming just as much as they encouraged freedom of thought. Meaning, not at all. But Erich did. He cared about Lena’s opinions and encouraged her to think outside the box. So when he disappeared—the only person who Lena felt seen by—I understood why she’d risk her safety and the safety of her Aunt. Understanding her motivations didn’t stop a rush of fear from hitting me in the heart, though. One wrong move would earn Lena a one-way ticket back to the asylum (or worse), and that threat made even small scenes feel tense. More than once, I noticed my eyes flicking around the room as if I were the one who could be overheard. Overcome with the need for Lena to be okay, I’d have to stop myself from skimming pages during her subterfuge efforts—the true mark of me being invested.



The pace did meander at times, and I would’ve appreciated a smoother blend of the secondary storylines, but the dollop of romance gave Lena more room to grow, and the ending had me tipping my hat to Michelle Barker. If you’re into historical YA or dystopian-like novels with a protagonist who’ll bring out your protective side, make sure you pick up THE HOUSE OF ONE THOUSAND EYES!

Big thanks to Annick Press for a finished copy!




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For this mani, I used:

China Glaze – Rock N’ Royal

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mâché

OPI – A Good Man-Darin Is Hard To Find and matte topcoat

Glisten & Glow – Mother Terra and basecoat

So Nailicious – needle brush




5.9.18

review and cover mani: women talking

WOMEN TALKING was a hard read. The premise certainly covered the subject matter, but the delivery—the exquisite composition—had me bouncing from reader-sinking-into-the-story to rage-filled-reader-who-needs-a-cocktail. Clocking in at a little over 200 pages, I should have been able to read WOMEN TALKING in one sitting, but had to break it up because of the fury. Let me explain.



The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Between 2005 and 2009, in a remote religious Mennonite colony, over a hundred girls and women were knocked unconscious and raped, often repeatedly, by what many thought were ghosts or demons, as a punishment for their sins. As the women tentatively began to share the details of the attacks-waking up sore and bleeding and not understanding why their stories were chalked up to 'wild female imagination.'

Women Talking is an imagined response to these real events. Eight women, all illiterate, without any knowledge of the world outside their colony and unable even to speak the language of the country they live in, meet secretly in a hayloft with the intention of making a decision about how to protect themselves and their daughters from future harm. They have two days to make a plan, while the men of the colony are away in the city attempting to raise enough money to bail out the rapists (not ghosts as it turns out but local men) and bring them home.

How should we live? How should we love? How should we treat one another? How should we organise our societies? These are questions the women in Women Talking ask one another-and Miriam Toews makes them the questions we must all ask ourselves. 

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I like reading fiction because it creates a certain degree of detachment. When terrible things happen to characters I care about, I feel sympathy to a degree, but the details don’t burrow into my soul. Fiction based on true events can be trickier because I can’t stop myself from remembering the real world origins. In the case of WOMEN TALKING, the whole reason these women were in a hayloft had actually happened, which meant that I often found myself putting the book down in order to seethe and start prepping signs for the next women’s march.  

Jacket Design: Kelly Hill
Jacket Art: (Alphabet) Bukhavets Mikhail/Shutterstock

Going sideways for a moment, the jacket cover for WOMEN TALKING has a special feature. On the front cover, coloured letters spell out “Love” while on the back, letters spell our “Anger.” As my anger rose to the surface quickly, I questioned where the love component could possibly come into play, but sure enough, it did, first and foremost with the women themselves. The meetings were transcribed (and therefore narrated) by August, a teacher with low social standing, and his voice did an excellent job at describing the women’s pragmatic and contemplative approach on deciding how to best protect themselves. How love for family, community, and God, weighed on their hearts. 

The pacifist nature of the Mennonite faith expanded the conversation in a direction that wouldn’t have occurred to me, and the focus on forgiveness challenged my anger-only stance. The women couldn’t just dismiss the idea of forgiveness for (imo) an unforgiveable act, and in their closed society that had no education or rights for women, open wife battery and corporal punishment, an expectation of obedience from any man over the age of fifteen, each woman still had the courage to come together and make a decision that best served themselves. Within forty-eight hours no less, and yet nobody was rushed or talked over. Opinions were respected and when tempers flared, the women would pause to sing in collective harmony (literally), whisper soothing words to those in distress, or otherwise calm the room. The kindness was humbling and thinking about them right now is making me tear up. Honestly, my admiration knew no bounds and I found myself getting fiercely protective, which is why upon mention of the reason behind their gathering, often delivered in a matter-of-fact and brief graphic statement, my stabby instincts would return and I’d have to take a break. 



In sum, this book was way smart. So smart that writing this review has been a challenge, as I’m the sort of blogger who leans toward a peppier style with fun descriptions like bananapants and holy cannoli, none of which were appropriate for WOMEN TALKING. My attachment to the characters, the handful of subplots that danced alongside the primary issue, the way Toews braided forgiveness, anger, faith, and love—what they mean together and alone—within the context of an extreme patriarchal community, joined forces for a powerful reading experience. Five stars plus a million stars, for a total of one million and five stars. 

Big thanks to Penguin Random House Canada for a finished copy!


Indigo | Amazon | AmazonUS (preorder)

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For this mani, I used:

China Glaze – Dance Baby, Don’t Be Sea Salty, At Your Athleisure, Kiki In Our Tiki, Wait N’ Sea, Trip of a Lime Time, Change Your Altitude

OPI – In My Back Pocket, Need Sunglasses, and matte topcoat

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mâché

So Nailicious – needle brush





30.8.18

review and cover mani: in her bones


IN HER BONES was a thriller that featured a dynamic protagonist who leaned towards unlikable and absolutely captivated me. Not being able to read the book in one sitting was a major irritant, because I was all-in with Edie’s decision-making process, and her execution of said process. Because whoa, friends. Just, whoa.



The back jacket, from Goodreads:

New York Times bestselling author Kate Moretti’s next “exceptional…emotionally astute, [and] deliciously sinister” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) thriller follows the daughter of a convicted serial killer who finds herself at the center of a murder investigation.

Fifteen years ago, Lilith Wade was arrested for the brutal murder of six women. After a death row conviction, media frenzy, and the release of an unauthorized biography, her thirty-year-old daughter Edie Beckett is just trying to survive out of the spotlight. She’s a recovering alcoholic with a dead-end city job and an unhealthy codependent relationship with her brother.

Edie also has a disturbing secret: a growing obsession with the families of Lilith’s victims. She’s desperate to see how they’ve managed—or failed—to move on. While her escalating fixation is a problem, she’s careful to keep her distance. That is, until she crosses a line and a man is found murdered.

Edie quickly becomes the prime suspect—and while she can’t remember everything that happened the night of the murder, she’d surely remember killing someone. With the detective who arrested her mother hot on her trail, Edie goes into hiding. She’s must get to the truth of what happened that night before the police—or the real killer—find her. 

Unless, of course, she has more in common with her mother than she’s willing to admit…

Perfect for fans of Ruth Ware, In Her Bones features Moretti’s “riveting and insightful” (Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author) prose and “chillingly satisfying” (Publishers Weekly) twists, and will leave you questioning the nature of guilt, obsession, and the toxicity of familial ties.

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There’s a fine line between obsession and addiction and in the case of Edie Beckett, the line was so blurred, it basically didn’t exist. She committed full-force to tracking down the families of her mother’s victims, and did so in an astoundingly thorough manner. Yes, she had some insider access to information at her job, but for the most part, Edie used resources available to regular civilians. Cautious in the majority of other areas, Edie seemed most at ease while researching the fallout of her mother’s crimes, although it could be argued that her proficiency in adapting to toxic environments, whether they be physical locations or her few personal relationships, hurt Edie as much as helping her. I love a complicated, guarded, wicked smart female lead, and Edie fulfilled all of my prickly protagonist dreams. Also, if I had to go on the run, I’d want Edie by my side. Like, she could teach a class at the Learning Annex on how to evade law enforcement, and possessed another impressive talent that legit had me nodding in admiration. So, so good!! 


Cover design by Emma A. Van Deun. Cover Illustration by Debra Lill. 
Cover Photography by PlainPicture/Stock4B/Steffen Leiprecht (Subway Train); 
Astrakan Images/ Getty Images (Woman).

The external plot had two mysteries that unfolded together: who killed the man connected to Edie and who wrote an unauthorized book about Lilith Wade. So while Edie ducked and dodged her way around the city streets, she began to wonder if they were somehow connected—if her mother’s past was responsible for her current situation, which in turn forced Edie to look at her childhood for clues. Getting a taste of what it could be like to be raised by a serial killer rounded out Edie’s sharper edges, although to be frank, I liked her edges pointy. 

I would also like to note that Moretti’s choice on where Edie hid from the police disturbed me on another level. This wasn’t a Motel 6 kind of deal, or crashing on a friend’s couch. Oh no. Edie was forced to get down and dirty. Literally. One particular location will haunt me forever. *shudders* So basically, Moretti used everything at her disposal to create a threatening sort of ambiance, possibly mirroring where Edie found herself on an emotional level. That or Moretti just wanted to make me squirm, it really could go either way haha! It was refreshing to see an element that could’ve been the same-old flipped around and used as another obstacle for Edie to overcome. And perhaps require a tetanus shot. Does anyone else feel itchy? No? Just wait until you start reading. 




With intricate character development and sinister execution, IN HER BONES is another feather in Kate Moretti’s fedora of suspense. Writing unpredictable behavior that’s completely on-brand for a character, yet still surprising, is a delicate process and Moretti succeeded not only with Edie, but the rest of the cast as well. IN HER BONES hits shelves September 4th so there's still time to preorder!! Because for real, you need to read this book!


Big thanks to Atria Books for an ARC!




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For this mani, I used:

OPI – In My Back Pocket, Lucky Lucky Lavender, Need Sunglasses, You Don't Know Jaques, and matte topcoat,

China Glaze – Barre Hopping, Plur-ple, Street Style Princess, Pilates Please, Sun Worshiper, Rock N' Royal

FingerPaints  Black Expressionism, Paper Mache, and Sketch Me,

Julep – Roc Solid and Imogen,

So Nailicious – needle brush



24.8.18

review and cover mani: pieces of her

I love Karin Slaughter's books. Whatever she writes, I’ll read. Forever. Her novels are always a crazy ride with more twists than a Tilt-a-whirl, and characters who are seriously adept at keeping secrets. Basically, they’re a fiction extravaganza and in PIECES OF HER, Slaughter proved yet again that she’s got major storytelling game.  



The back jacket, from Goodreads:

What if the person you thought you knew best turns out to be someone you never knew at all . . . ?

Andrea knows everything about her mother, Laura. She knows she’s spent her whole life in the small beachside town of Belle Isle; she knows she’s never wanted anything more than to live a quiet life as a pillar of the community; she knows she’s never kept a secret in her life. Because we all know our mothers, don’t we?

But all that changes when a trip to the mall explodes into violence and Andrea suddenly sees a completely different side to Laura. Because it turns out that before Laura was Laura, she was someone completely different. For nearly thirty years she’s been hiding from her previous identity, lying low in the hope that no one would ever find her. But now she’s been exposed, and nothing will ever be the same again.

The police want answers and Laura’s innocence is on the line, but she won’t speak to anyone, including her own daughter. Andrea is on a desperate journey following the breadcrumb trail of her mother’s past. And if she can’t uncover the secrets hidden there, there may be no future for either one of them. . . .

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PIECES OF HER opened with a bang. Literally. One second, everything was normal—mundane even—with Andrea and her mother Laura at a mall, but the next, total madness erupted after a man barged in and started shooting. The mix of grounded scenes and extraordinary ones gave the plot a boost in the sinister department, because there’s nothing more terrifying than realistic craziness—the idea that anything can happen at any time. In those moments, baser instincts kick in, so I totally understood why Andrea was ten types of whiskey tango foxtrot regarding her mother’s reaction to the shooter. Because for real, it was crazy.

Jacket design by Joe Montogomery. 
Jacket photographs: Yolande de Kort/Trevillion Images (woman); Benjamin Harte/Arcangel (polaroid frames).


So, this may sound strange, because PIECES OF HER had two feet firmly in thriller-land, but an unexpected theme emerged for me: love. Love for family, children, romantic versus toxic, and how all of the above can either cloud judgment or make it crystal clear. Laura and Andrea each experienced conflicting sorts of love, which tugged their hearts in different directions and also explained their more questionable actions. Throughout PIECES OF HER, the women were bombarded with hard choices, both in the present and the past, that tested how far they would go. Complicated motivations increased internal tension while the external circumstances never let up, and there were times the mother and daughter duo felt like they were being torn into pieces (chuckle), unable to fully satisfy their wants and needs. There were no perfect decisions. Each move had a consequence, a price to pay, and it turned out there was no price too great if it meant protecting the other.  *cue feelings*



A different sort of Karin Slaughter, meaning milder violent scenes and therefore no nightmares (yay!), PIECES OF HER delivered a thriller with the heart of a character study. Laura’s bananas past acted like the Energizer Bunny of not-awesome decisions (evil cackle) and Andrea’s more timid personality was put to the ultimate test (sequel evil cackle). I’m enjoying this direction of deep character dives and remain a loyal member of the Slaughter Squad. Five stars, legit. 




Big thanks to HarperCollins Canada for an ARC!

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For this mani, I used:

China Glaze – Just a Little Embellishment and Kill ‘em With Kindness

OPI – Dulce de Leche, You Don’t Know Jacques, Malaga Wine, In My Back Pocket, A Good Man-Darin Is Hard to Find, My Private Jet, and matte topcoat

FingerPaints – Paper Mache, Sketch Me, and Black Expressionism

So Nailicious – needle brush



17.8.18

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.

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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?



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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









14.8.18

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.

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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!




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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


8.8.18

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. 

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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!



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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

1.8.18

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.

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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. 

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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!



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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