review and cover mani: sorcery of thorns

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.


There are times when I need to break out my thesaurus to find a term that can encapsulate my feelings towards a particular book. Something that describes the sensations of wanting to climb to the tops of towers and scream, paper a neighbourhood with MUST READ flyers, and the agony of narrowing down which incredible quote to tattoo on my body so I can relive the awesomeness every day. Unfortunately, my thesaurus failed me, but whatever that word may beif it even existsrepresents how I feel about SORCERY OF THORNS. 

OwlCrate exclusive cover
Jacket design by Sonia Chaghatzbanian; Jacket illustration ©️2019 by Charlie Bowater

Between the library setting, alluring manifestation of magic, and Elisabeth’s unstoppable attitude, I devoured each sentence like a reader who'd been starving for a million years. I mean, the books were alive, people! Restrained beneath chains or locked away in a cabinet, revered and respected while also feared. Perhaps a metaphor for knowledge, and one done exquisitely well. When an act of sabotage forced Elisabeth on a path she adamantly opposed, she learned that life was more volatile and complicated than she ever could’ve imagined. Nathaniel’s wry delivery and sense of humour added some levity to more devastating moments, and there’s another particular character who stole the show with his wicked ways. Also, I cried twice during unexpectedly devastating moments and then straight-up WEPT by the end, trapped in a glass case of emotion where I presently still reside.

Gah! It’s the best when I can immerse myself in a story while also fearing the desolation that comes when I reach the end and have to say goodbye to characters who've become friends. It’s been ages since that terror has invaded my heart and squeezed, simultaneously delivering a story I didn’t know I needed while pummeling my soul. Honestly, I’m having a hard time writing this review because I’m still overwhelmed by the amazingness. By far the strongest, most magically devious fantasy I’ve read this year and yes, I’m counting adult fiction as well (this is YA). 


The end.


For this mani, I used:

OPI – Rollin’ in Cashmere, Russian Navy, I Just Can’t Cope-acabana, matte topcoat

China Glaze – Mix and Mingle, Ah-Ah-Ah-mazing, Truth is Gold, Who Wonder, Trash Can-Do Attitude, Chroma Cool, Dance Baby, Fresh Prince-ss, Four Leaf Clover, Water-Falling in Love, Immortal, Street Style Princess

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism, Paper Mache, Figure of Art

ORLY – Makeup to Breakup

Glisten and Glow – Hpnotiq Hurricane

So Nailicious – needle and warrior brushes


review and cover mani: i'll never tell

The back jacket from Goodreads:

What happened to Amanda Holmes?

Twenty years ago, she washed up on shore in a rowboat with a gash to the head after an overnight at Camp Macaw. No one was ever charged with a crime.

Now, the MacAllister children are all grown up. After their parents die suddenly, they return to Camp to read the will and decide what to do with the prime real estate it's sitting on. Ryan, the oldest, wants to sell. Margo, the family's center, hasn't made up her mind. Mary has her own horse farm to run, and believes in leaving well-enough alone. Kate and Liddie—the twins—have opposing views. And Sean Booth, the family groundskeeper, just hopes he still has a home when all is said and done. 

But then the will is read and they learn that it's much more complicated than a simple vote. Until they unravel the mystery of what happened to Amanda, they can't move forward. Any one of them could have done it, and all of them are hiding key pieces of the puzzle. Will they work together to solve the mystery, or will their suspicions and secrets finally tear the family apart?


Summer camp mystery woooot! Bring on the s’mores, canoeing and, of course, tragic accidents. Or was it an accident? Multiple POVs—the siblings, Sean, and Amanda herself—tried to make sense of what happened that fateful summer and McKenzie did a solid job distinguishing distinct personalities. Her pitch-perfect depiction of deep-rooted insecurities and fears along with a tangled web of family secrets meant that while the cast remained contained, the tension never wavered. When their father’s will was revealed, the aggressive implications stoked those flames of distrust and blame which served as a bummer for the MacAllisters and good times for me. 😈

Cover image: Philip Lee Harvey / Getty Images

I loved the off-season setting of Camp Macaw (caw, caw), and while the summer camp I attended was in Ontario versus Quebec, the similarities elicited a rush of musky lake memories. McKenzie nailed those vibes, and the emotional connection each sibling felt towards the camp, whether positive or negative, influenced their perspective. A prime opportunity for explosive revelations, being stuck between the adults they’d become and the children they were, each chapter kept me on the edge of my seat. 

While the tension truly had my stomach in knots, there was unfortunately one element that deflated my agony. The extreme overuse of a particular word became tremendously distracting. I’m disappointed it wasn’t picked up during edits because the word was so prevalent (sometimes appearing multiple times in the same paragraph) it affected my ability to remain immersed in the plot. But with that said, I’LL NEVER TELL is a still an engaging and twisty mystery, perfect for hot and humid summer days (and if you attended summer camp as a kid, I suspect you’ll feel an extra connection). 

Big thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for a finished copy!


For this mani, I used:

OPI – My Dogsled is a Hybrid, I Just Can’t Cope-acabana, A Good Man-darin is Hard to Find, Can’t Find my Czechbook, Gargantuan Green Grape

China Glaze – Throne N Shade, Highlight of My Summer, Saved By the Bluebell, Kill ‘Em With Kindness, Just a Little Embellishment

Essie – after school boy blazer

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mache

Glisten and Glow – topcoat

So Nailicious – needle and warrior brushes


review and cover mani: man of the year

The back jacket from Goodreads:

Beware the Man of the Year. You may praise him, resent him, even want to be him: but beneath the elegant trappings that define him, danger looms. Caroline Louise Walker’s stunning debut novel, for fans of Herman Koch’s The Dinner and Shari Lapena’s The Couple Next Door, delves into the increasingly paranoid mind of a man whose life as the most upstanding of citizens hides a relentlessly dark heart.

Dr. Robert Hart, Sag Harbor’s just-named Man of the Year, is the envy of his friends and neighbors. His medical practice is thriving. He has a beautiful old house and a beautiful new wife and a beautiful boat docked in the village marina. Even his wayward son, Jonah, is back on track, doing well at school, finally worthy of his father’s attentions. So when Jonah’s troubled college roommate, Nick, needs a place to stay for the summer, Hart and his wife generously offer him their guest house. A win-win: Jonah will have someone to hang with, and his father can bask in the warm glow of his own generosity.

But when he begins to notice his new houseguest getting a little too close to his wife, the good doctor’s veneer begins to crack. All the little lies Robert tells—harmless falsehoods meant to protect everything he holds dear—begin to mount. Before long, he’s embroiled in a desperate downward spiral, destroying the lives that stand in his way. It’s only the women in his life—his devoted office manager, his friends, his wife—who can clearly see the truth.

Biting and timely, Man of the Year races along at an electric pace, with a wicked twist that you won’t see coming.


Watching a white, arrogant man self-destruct is my new favourite pastime thanks to MAN OF THE YEAR. The sort of guy who’d read a Huffington Post article and consider himself an expert, happy to mansplain at a moment’s notice, Robert proved to be just smart enough to destroy himself. No matter the situation, he consistently made the worst choices while his narrative showed a strong belief that he was outmanoeuvring everyone around him. Instead, he was losing his damn mind. The absolute best at being the worst—a character I loved to hate—this gem quickly became black humour central. No surprise that Walker wrote this character so flawlessly, as I doubt a man would possess the self-awareness to pen such blind confidence and entitlement. At times, I felt like Walker and I were making sly eye contact, a Jim looks to the camera moment if you will, sharing our mutual amusement over Robert’s behaviour. 

Jacket design by Donna Cheng
Jacket art by Plainpicture/Silveri

While my morbid enjoyment of Robert’s paranoia took the front seat in my reading experience, there was also a fair amount of tension. I understood early on that Robert would create an epic clusterfuck, and with the way Walker set up questionable and suspicious scenarios, I didn’t blame him. Every character held significant secrets and including alternate points of view had me chuckling aloud because oh no collision course, dead ahead. Essentially, a booknerd’s dream come true. Driving the plot with internal tension is exactly what suspense should be, and I was delighted to be reminded. 

MAN OF THE YEAR did take a while to get going and the ending wasn’t as sinister as I’d expected from the build up, but even so, this debut novel cemented my auto-buy status for Caroline Louise Walker. A solid four star read, I’m eager to see what Walker writes next. Big thanks to Gallery Books for a complimentary finished copy!


For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Paper Mache and Black Expressionism

China Glaze – Accent Piece and Ingrid

ORLY – Storyteller (Colorlab)

OPI – In My Back Pocket, I Just Can’t Cope-acabana, Can’t Find My Czechbok, matte topcoat

So Nailicious – needle and warrior brush


review and cover mani: before the broken star

The back jacket from Goodreads:

A fierce young female adventurer battles time itself to claim her destiny in a sweeping new fantasy saga from the author of the Hundredth Queen series.

Everley Donovan is living on borrowed time. The lone survivor of her family’s unexplained assassination, she was saved by an ingeniously crafted clockwork heart. But the time she was given won’t last forever. Now, every tick-tock reminds her how fragile her existence is and hastens her quest to expose Killian Markham, the navy admiral who shattered her world and left her for dead. But Everley’s hunt for justice will be a long and hard-won voyage.

Her journey takes her to a penal colony on a cursed isle, where she will be married off and charged to build the new world. It is here, and beyond, that hidden realms hide, treasures are unearthed, her family secrets are buried, and young love will test the strength of her makeshift heart. When Everley discovers Markham may not be who he seems, her pursuit for truth is bound to his redemption, her tragic history, and her astonishing destiny.


BEFORE THE BROKEN STAR had everything I love in a YA fantasy, which meant I devoured it. Charging out of the gate with high emotional content—desire for revenge (yay!)—and Everley’s clockwork heart, then sword fights in petticoats and a treacherous journey to a penal colony, the story sucked me in as the world melted away. Like the greats Bardugo and Schwab, there wasn’t a wasted word or wink, each action and phrase driving the plot forward, not a lull to be seen. I burned through chapters with abandon because just when one problem was solved, two more appeared like a metaphorical hydra beast of complications and revelations. 

Cover design by Kirk DouPonce, DogEared Design

The hostile and cursed island, populated by convicts and Everley’s new home, proved to be a formidable malevolent environment that forced Everley to confront family secrets. And oh the secrets she discovered! While the pace moved quickly in the first half, once upon the island, things kicked into warp speed. Adventure, tension, and magic, plus lurking threats along the way kept my heart rate up to such a degree, I was shocked to find my pedometer count unchanged. I adore books that leave me breathless, as if I’d run ten miles, and BEFORE THE BROKEN STAR became the latest addition to that short list. 

I appreciated the end to the storyline (to a degree 😉), as cliffhangers in a series make me want to throw things across the room. I absolutely cannot wait for the next book and will be counting down the days until it’s in my greedy paws. If you love young women who don’t take any crap, zooming paces, and dynamic characters, you need to read BEFORE THE BROKEN STAR. Five stars all the way!

Big thanks to Thomas Allen & Son for a complimentary finished copy!


For this mani, I used:

OPI – Stay Off the Lawn, Fearlessly Alice, Rollin’ In Cashmere, Mod About You, and I Just Can’t Cope-acabana

China Glaze – I Got a Blue Attitude, Born to Rule, Wicked Liquid, Boujee Board, and Up All Night

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mache

So Nailicious – needle and warrior brushes


review and cover mani: donna has left the building

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

From the beloved, New York Times bestselling author of Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress comes a hilarious, timely, and big-hearted new novel about rebuilding life in the face of disaster.

Forty-five-year-old Donna Koczynski is an ex-punk rocker, a recovering alcoholic, and the mother of two teenagers whose suburban existence detonates when she comes home early from a sales conference in Las Vegas to the surprise of a lifetime. As her world implodes, she sets off on an epic road trip to reclaim everything she believes she's sacrificed since her wild youth: Great friendship, passionate love, and her art. But as she careens across the U.S. from Detroit to New York to Memphis to Nashville, nothing turns out as she imagines. Ultimately, she finds herself resurrected on the other side of the globe, on a remote island embroiled in a crisis far bigger than her own.

Irresistibly funny, whip-smart, and surprisingly moving, Donna Has Left the Building spins an unforgettable tale about what it means to be brave—and to truly love—in a tumultuous world.


Like Uncle Albert and Bert from the OG Mary Poppins, I love to laugh. Whenever possible, I lean into humour because hello! Happy, belly aching, tear producing, breath stealing laughter is where it’s at. And oh my, it's been a long time since a book has tickled my funny bone so relentlessly. In DONNA HAS LEFT THE BUILDING, what may appear to be a typical “wife comes home early to find husband in compromising situation” story is anything but. I cannot stress this enough: In no shape, way, or form have you read anything like this treasure trove of hilarity. Granted, Donna didn't find it terribly amusing, but that’s the awesomeness of fiction, right? Think The Good Place sort of emotional torture. 😂

Jacket design and illustration by Brian Levy.
Jacket ©️ 2019 Hachette Book Group, Inc.

But as I laughed my face off while reading on the couch, in bed, and three public waiting rooms, Donna’s journey began to delve into emotional territory. During Donna’s impromptu cross-country road trip, she had to confront the past she remembered with rose-tinted glasses and non-spoiler alert: things didn’t go according to her haphazard plans. Like, at all. Not even a tiny bit. And just when I wasn’t sure if Donna would be able to get out of her own way, the plot took a major turn when she wound up on a remote island where the vibe was anything but jovial. I’ve gotta say it felt a little jarring, on the verge of being two separate books smushed together. Even with steady hints regarding what Donna would be sucked into, the sudden shift in tone could’ve been smoother. Not that it was bad, but Donna’s voice started out like jazz hands and then became subdued as the final quarter came to pass. Reflective, perhaps, and there’s nothing like a genuine crisis to have one reflect on their previous behaviour. *side-eyes Donna*

If you love books that flip expected tropes and crank them up to 11, while snickering as wildly unpredictable characters take you on a ride, DONNA HAS LEFT THE BUILDING is the book for you! It hit shelves yesterday, June 4th, so I encourage you to run like the wind to your bookseller of choice because this gem is a must read. Big thanks to Hachette Book Group Canada for a complimentary ARC!


For this mani, I used:

OPI – A Good Man-Darin Is Hard to Find, matte topcoat

China Glaze – I Got a Blue Attitude and Bottoms Up

ORLY – Skinny Dip

FingerPaints РPaper M̢ch̩ and Black Expressionism

So Nailicious – spear, needle, and warrior brushes


review and cover mani: when we were lost

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Survival. It's a concept these high school students never had to consider--until their plane crashes in a remote rainforest with no adults left alive. With many of them falling prey to threats from both the jungle and man, they soon realize that danger comes in many sinister forms. 

Tom Calloway didn't want to go on a field trip to Costa Rica, but circumstances had him ending up sitting in the back of the plane--which was the only part that was intact after the crash in the remote South American wilderness. Tom and a small group of his classmates are fortunate to be alive, but their luck quickly runs out when some of them fall prey to the unfamiliar threats of the jungle--animals, reptiles, insects, and even the unforgiving heat. Every decision they make could mean life or death.

As the days go by and the survivors' desperation grows, things get even more perilous. Not everyone can cope with the trauma of seeing their friends die, and a struggle for leadership soon pits them against each other. And when they come across evidence of other people in the middle of the rainforest, does that mean they're safe--or has their survival come to an even more vicious end?


WHEN WE WERE LOST immediately reminded me of a certain television show involving a plane crash and tropical seclusion, but aside from their similar circumstances and setting, they were worlds apart. Tom, the epitome of a reluctant narrator, had no choice but to break out of his comfort zone, both in terms of assertiveness and surviving the inhospitable environment. The outsider perspective worked well, as outsiders are often excellent observers, and Tom was able to quickly identify who would contribute to their survival versus those who’d accelerate their demise. Two discernable groups emerged, similar to what you’d expect from a high school cafeteria, so while Tom battled predators from the jungle, he also found himself immersed in a power struggle. The sort of young man who kept to himself, Tom had no interest in said power struggle, but that didn’t stop him from becoming a target. Having parallel sources of tension, the lethally unpredictable Amazon jungle and the volatile group dynamic, resulted in a page-burning pace. No matter where they were or what they were doing, the group's safety was always at risk. My favourite sort of read. 

Jacket design by Tracy Shaw and Sammy Yuen.
Jacket art by Travis Commeau.

I also really love when novels begin in more of an abstract manner. A challenge, for sure, because it has the potential to backfire, but WHEN WE WERE LOST had a phenomenally executed, pseudo-rambling introduction about the butterfly effect. Relevant to the book for sure, but certainly not a “fall into the action sort of deal” it was more like a gradual unraveling to get to the point. Hella hard to accomplish and it let me know straight away that I would enjoy the writing. Things came full circle at the end, which was even more impressive, so I’m very interested in reading other books by Kevin Wignall. 

Teens who sounded and behaved like teens, several majorly surprising twists, and the ever present fear of spontaneous death, WHEN WE WERE LOST is perfect for readers who love action and adventure. Available next Tuesday, June 4th wherever books are sold. 

Big thanks to Hachette Book Group Canada for a complimentary ARC!


For this mani, I used:

OPI – Stay Off the Lawn, Fearlessly Alice, Dating a Royal, I Just Can’t Cope-acabana

FingerPaints – Paper Mache and Black Expressionism

China Glaze – Emerald Bae

Mitty Burns – candy brush

So Nailicious – warrior brush

Glisten and Glow –  topcoat 


review and cover mani: valencia and valentine

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

For readers of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, debut author Suzy Krause delivers a quirky, colorful story about love, loss, second chances, and what it means to truly live.

Valencia, a timid debt collector with crippling OCD, is afraid of many things, but the two that scare her most are flying and turning thirty-five. To confront those fears, Valencia’s therapist suggests that she fly somewhere—anywhere—before her upcoming birthday. And as Valencia begins a telephone romance with a man from New York, she suddenly has a destination in mind. There’s only one problem—he might not actually exist.

Mrs. Valentine is an eccentric old woman desperate for company, be it from neighbors, telemarketers, or even the funeral director (when you’re her age, you go to a lot of funerals). So she’s thrilled when the new cleaning girl provides a listening ear for her life’s story—a tale of storybook love and incredible adventures around the world with her husband before his mysterious and sudden disappearance.

The stories of Valencia and Mrs. Valentine may at first appear to have nothing in common…but then again, nothing in life is as straightforward as it seems.


VALENCIA AND VALENTINE was exactly what I needed. An immediately engaging voice, whip smart writing, and unbelievably compassionate glimpse into the mind of a person grappling with OCD (like, actual OCD not just wanting things neat), this charming novel took an intimate look at two characters, Valencia and Mrs. Valentine. A blend of heartbreaking joy—an exceedingly tricky pair of vibes to combine—and humour, I loved every second.

Jacket design and illustration by Philip Pascuzzo

Valencia’s career as a debt collector, manning the phones during work hours and dealing with screaming clients and death threats, and solo living situation, meant that Valencia didn’t have much meaningful contact with others. The self-imposed isolation and circular, end-of-world thoughts from her OCD forced Valencia into the smallest and most unremarkable life she could muster. Partially because her catastrophic internal voice made it practically impossible to connect with other people, but also as punishment for a terrible act from her past. Basically, Valencia was existing, going through the motions. So when she struck up a conversation—a real, actual conversation—with one of her clients at work, Valencia leaned in like a flower towards the sun. But, you know, with hella awkwardness. And not just because he may or may not of actually existed (mystery bonus!). Suzy Krause’s ability to write that awkwardness, the stuttering thoughts and constant anxiousness at saying the wrong thing or responding in a weird way, immediately had me cheering for Valencia because she was up against the world in every aspect of her existence. And in her own way, she fought through it. Or tried to, anyway. The mix of desperate unhappiness and the terror of letting somebody in felt exceedingly real. I was hypnotized while also dying a little inside. 

Meanwhile, Mrs. Valentine was isolated as well, but for very different reasons. A widow living alone in an apartment, too frail to take walks down the block or do her own shopping, she hired a cleaner who wound up being her primary means for socialization. Sharing her life’s story, Mrs. Valentine took a trip down her remarkable memory lane. A lane with highs and lows that inevitably connected with Valencia, but as if I’d tell you how! That’s a gem you’ll have to discover for yourself. But I will say it was a very unexpected tether of connection. 

If you’re a fan of Eleanor Oliphant and novels that crack open your heart and leave you reeling in melancholic delight, I highly recommend VALENCIA AND VALENTINE. Five stars all the frickin' way. VALENCIA AND VALENTINE is available in bookstores on June 1st, but for the month of May, it's part of the Kindle First Reads program so if you're a member, you can get an early look!

Big thanks to Amazon Publishing for a finished copy!


For this mani, I used:

OPI – I Just Can’t Cope-acabana, A Good Man-darin is Hard to Find, Samoan Sand, and matte topcoat

China Glaze – Queen B, Tropic of Conversation, Kill ‘Em With Kindness, Pilates Please, Street Style Princess, and Foie Gras

ORLY – Makeup to Breakup

Essie – after school boy blazer

So Nailicious – warrior and needle brushes


review and cover mani: heroine

The back jacket description, from Goodreads:

An Amazon Best Book of the Month! A captivating and powerful exploration of the opioid crisis—the deadliest drug epidemic in American history—through the eyes of a college-bound softball star. Edgar Award-winning author Mindy McGinnis delivers a visceral and necessary novel about addiction, family, friendship, and hope. 

When a car crash sidelines Mickey just before softball season, she has to find a way to hold on to her spot as the catcher for a team expected to make a historic tournament run. Behind the plate is the only place she’s ever felt comfortable, and the painkillers she’s been prescribed can help her get there.

The pills do more than take away pain; they make her feel good.

With a new circle of friends—fellow injured athletes, others with just time to kill—Mickey finds peaceful acceptance, and people with whom words come easily, even if it is just the pills loosening her tongue.

But as the pressure to be Mickey Catalan heightens, her need increases, and it becomes less about pain and more about want, something that could send her spiraling out of control.


HEROINE came in hot. The opening sentence of “When I wake up, all my friends are dead,” set a tone that initially scared me off, but I’m happy I came back around because while HEROINE was a heavy read, it also had the signature Mindy McGinnis flare for tackling tough subjects with an unflinching perspective. No surprise McGinnis was up to the task because, well, have you read her other books? *peers over glasses with cocked eyebrow*

Jacket art © 2019 by plainpicture/fstop/Dual Dual
Jacket design by Erin Fitzsimmons

Mickey, determined and focused to get a scholarship for softball, was up against the clock to recover from her injuries in order to play in her final high school softball season, which immediately set the stage for her impending addiction. Because while Mickey’s initial goal of healing quickly had her popping pills, the euphoria of pharmaceutically induced happiness got Mickey hooked. As her addiction progressed, HEROINE became a master’s class in tracing a user’s rationalization process; the twisting and contorting of facts in order justify taking higher doses. Casting Mickey’s mother as a nurse doubled-down on the idea of how easy it is to fall into addiction and while I turned each page, transfixed, I dreaded when the prologue would circle back around. With McGinnis’s reputation for bleaker endings, I honestly didn’t know if Mickey would make it out alive.

While HEROINE is fiction, it also isn’t. And while it follows Mickey’s descent in to addiction, it’s also a story about friendship, sports, and just enough hope to keep you going. But above all else, if you get to the end and aren’t furious with big pharma, you’ve missed the point. These drugs are real and they steal lives. Prescribing such highly addictive painkillers to anybody, especially teenagers, is irresponsible and immoral. There’s no way to predict if that first pill will become the first step down a long road of addiction, which means they shouldn’t exist in the first place. Leave it to Mindy McGinnis to shine a compassionate light in the darkest of places. Deeply uncomfortable and entirely necessary, HEROINE had better win some awards, and should be required reading in schools. Five stars plus one million stars, for a grand total of one million and five stars. 

Big thanks to HCC Frenzy for a gifted ARC!


For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Paper Mache and Black Expressionism

China Glaze – Street Style Princess

OPI – matte topcoat

So Nailicious – needle and warrior brushes


review and cover mani: we rule the night

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Two girls use forbidden magic to fly and fight–for their country and for themselves–in this riveting debut that’s part Shadow and Bone, part Code Name Verity.

Seventeen-year-old Revna is a factory worker, manufacturing war machines for the Union of the North. When she’s caught using illegal magic, she fears being branded a traitor and imprisoned. Meanwhile, on the front lines, Linné defied her father, a Union general, and disguised herself as a boy to join the army. They’re both offered a reprieve from punishment if they use their magic in a special women’s military flight unit and undertake terrifying, deadly missions under cover of darkness. Revna and Linné can hardly stand to be in the same cockpit, but if they can’t fly together, and if they can’t find a way to fly well, the enemy’s superior firepower will destroy them–if they don’t destroy each other first.

We Rule the Night is a powerful story about sacrifice, complicated friendships, and survival despite impossible odds.


I absolutely flew through WE RULE THE NIGHT. Yes, that’s obvious and not terribly creative wordplay, but nonetheless true. A fiercely consumable combination of action-packed and emotionally-charged scenes, there was never a good moment to take a break, so goodbye weekend adulting activities and hello to eating cereal for three consecutive meals because my sole priority was finding out what Revna and Linné did next. 

Cover art by Billelis
Cover design by Karina Granda

Forced to enter a world where she didn't excel, after her previous successes were nullified, Linné’s arc captured my attention and my heart. A young woman who'd hurdled herself over every obstacle to join the fight on the front lines, only to be sidelined because of her gender and then assigned to a secret flight unit composed of very un-soldier-like women, Linné didn’t quite know what to do with herself. Bitter, judgmental, standoffish, but still dedicated to the cause, Linné’s struggles to find her place inside and outside of the cockpit made her too vulnerable not to love, so when things got crazy, I was worried sick about her. She pushed everybody away, and while Revna faced similar uncertainties, she had the rest of the unit's support (albeit somewhat tainted support because of how the others considered her living metal legs, at least in the beginning). But whether they liked it or not, they were united by a common goal, and watching how each young woman navigated their feelings of self-doubt and fear produced a lot of head nodding and empathy from me. I also appreciated the various ways Bartlett showed the women's courage and strength because there's so much more to being strong and brave than just throwing a punch.

As I’ve touched on the balance between character growth and action, now I get to rave about the magic. Because flying planes YES. The use and construction of the planes, comprised of living metal (THE ACTUAL AWESOMEST BUT I WON’T SAY ANY MORE) and operated by a pair of pilots with two different magical tasks, made my imagination explode. At times, perhaps slightly challenging to envision, but who cares because it was such an extraordinary concept, especially considering the historical inspiration of the Soviet Union's 588th Night Bomber regiment during WWII. I do wish a particular storyline had more explanation and depth, as it proved critical to the world-building, and the end left me with mixed feelings. Mostly good, but also some wanting. As in, I want another book. The comps are totally bang-on, so if you’re a fan of Code Name Verity or Shadow and Bone, you’ll love WE RULE THE NIGHT!

Big thanks to Hachette Book Canada for an ARC!


For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints РBlack Expressionism and Paper M̢ch̩

China Glaze – What’s Up Bittercups, Street Style Princess, Change Your Altitude 

OPI – Rollin’ In Cashmere, In My Back Pocket, A Good Man-darin Is Hard to Find, My Twin Mimmy, matte topcoat

SoNailicious – needle and warrior brushes