review and cover mani: the child finder

THE CHILD FINDER is a relatively quiet sort of story; the whisper in a crowded room that inevitably draws all the attention. An extraordinary piece of work—heavy and heartbreaking—Rene Denfeld proved yet again that she stands in a class of her own. So let’s just jump right in, shall we?

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight years old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as The Child Finder, Naomi is their last hope.

Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl too. 

As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?


Rene Denfeld’s shining ability is writing with compassion. It’s the undercurrent in her magnificent storytelling, bubbling to the surface at the most perfect times to bring me to my knees. In fact, due to Denfeld’s remarkable talent to break down my barriers and pry open my rusty heart, I needed a couple of weeks after finishing THE CHILD FINDER in order to draft a review without crying.

Designed by Leah Carlson-Stanisic

Challenging preconceived notions is another one of Denfeld’s gifts, so prepare yourself for an in-depth examination of humanity, folks. The grief, the triumph, the sacrifices one is willing to make to survive—it’s all there, nestled in between the gorgeous teal-to-blue-to-green-to-yellow covers. Because I didn’t just hurt and cheer for Naomi. The Culvers, the police, and just about every character mentioned in the book evoked some kind of reaction, each chapter going deeper into the murky waters of omg what else could possibly happen to these people.

But don’t misunderstand because even with my weeping, THE CHILD FINDER was most definitely a thriller. With a tight pace and ominous memories from the past, I remained on the edge of my seat. The second narrator's dreamy POV was just about flawless, while Naomi’s self-sacrifice for the greater good didn’t enter martyr territory (which is basically impossible to do). There is so much more I want to say about the plot of this incredible novel and I’ve drafted paragraph after paragraph but can’t avoid including spoilers, so all I can say is that you’ll be rocked to your core.

In conclusion, I love, love, love, love, love Rene Denfeld and will devour every novel she releases until the end of my days. They aren’t easy reads, but they’re necessary. The adept way Denfeld weaves compassion into the darkest of story lines brings out my own, and then I feel all the feels—the mark of an excellent novel, imho. So what are you waiting for? THE CHILD FINDER is out now, which means you can cancel your weekend plans and read instead. You’re welcome. ;)

Big thanks to HarperCollins Canada for a review copy!


For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Paper Mâché and Black Expressionism

Julep – Courtney

China Glaze – Highlight of My Summer

OPI – Need Sunglasses?, You Are So Outta Lime!, and matte topcoat

Mitty Burns – Minty 0 and Clean Pro Flat nail art brushes

Triangular makeup sponge


review and cover mani: the other alcott

About a year ago, I received the most delightful email from Elise Hooper, an upcoming debut author. Like, the sort of email that still makes me smile when I think about it. And now, Elise’s historical novel THE OTHER ALCOTT is finally gracing bookshelves everywhere. I loved this book, people, so let’s get on with the review!

*cues blowhown and seagulls (which will make sense in a second, haha)*

The back jacket from Goodreads:

Elise Hooper’s debut novel conjures the fascinating, untold story of May Alcott—Louisa’s youngest sister and an artist in her own right.

We all know the story of the March sisters, heroines of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. But while everyone cheers on Jo March, based on Louisa herself, Amy March is often the least favorite sister. Now, it’s time to learn the truth about the real “Amy”, Louisa’s sister, May.

Stylish, outgoing, creative, May Alcott grows up longing to experience the wide world beyond Concord, Massachusetts. While her sister Louisa crafts stories, May herself is a talented and dedicated artist, taking lessons in Boston, turning down a marriage proposal from a well-off suitor, and facing scorn for entering what is very much a man’s profession.

Life for the Alcott family has never been easy, so when Louisa’s Little Women is published, its success eases the financial burdens they’d faced for so many years. Everyone agrees the novel is charming, but May is struck to the core by the portrayal of selfish, spoiled “Amy March.” Is this what her beloved sister really thinks of her?

So May embarks on a quest to discover her own true identity, as an artist and a woman. From Boston to Rome, London, and Paris, this brave, talented, and determined woman forges an amazing life of her own, making her so much more than merely The Other Alcott.


Like virtually every woman I’ve met in my life, LITTLE WOMEN holds a special spot in my heart. Ice-skating in the winter, the lime incident, Jo March writing her heart out with a quill pen—I love it all. I didn’t know, however, that there was more than one talented March sister, or Alcott sister to be more precise. Enter May Alcott, an aspiring artist and younger sister of Louisa.

One of my favourite components of THE OTHER ALCOTT was the behind-the-scenes account of what it may have been like to be famous in the 1800s. Beginning May’s story around the same time her sister published her first novel immediately put me on her side because yeah, Amy March was a total brat, and when strangers put Amy and May in the same category, I sympathized with how frustrating that would be. I mean, who wants to be known as a spoiled nightmare? Not to mention that during the 1800s, there was little support for ambitious women, so really, May Alcott had a lot of obstacles to overcome in order to fulfill her dreams—a marvelous starting point.

Designed by Diahann Sturge

Determined women are always a pleasure to cheer for, and even with May’s dips in confidence, she never stayed down for long. It would’ve been easy for May to succumb to setbacks and throw her paints over the side of the ship she took across the pond, but she didn’t. Like most journeys of self-growth, May was tested, and I think that Hooper did a marvelous job of creating a well-rounded, endearing character.

The traveling May embarked upon in order to further her craft kept the story fresh, although not every city was kind to May. I don’t know much about Europe in the 1800s but it was clear that Hooper did her research. Nooks and crannies of well-known cities were described with the eye of an artist, giving particular attention to structure, colour, and scent. It allowed me to immerse myself, feeling like I was alongside May as she made her way through the streets.

When I reached the end of the novel and read Hooper’s additional comments about her real-life inspirations regarding other female artists of the time, along with their relationships to one another, I became even more impressed with THE OTHER ALCOTT. A true blend of fact and fiction, May Alcott’s story stretched into its own being, removing May from her sister’s shadow. So if you’re a fan of smart historical fiction, THE OTHER ALCOTT needs to be added to your TBR list as soon as possible. You can thank me later. 😉

Massive thanks to Elise Hooper for sending me an advanced copy!


For this mani, I used:

OPI – You Don’t Know Jacques, Dating a Royal, Stay Off the Lawn!, Yoga-ta Get This Blue, In My Back Pocket, and matte topcoat

FingerPaints – Paper Mâché, Black Expressionism and Figure of Art

Julep – Lissa and lizzy

China Glaze - Change Your Altitude

Mitty Burns - Minty 0 and Clean Pro Flat nail art brushes