19.1.18

review and cover mani: the hearts we sold

I’m a huge fan of OwlCrate. I love the merch, and the books often aren’t ones that I’d necessarily pick up, which is awesome. I’m behind in reading selections from 2017, and recently made the conscious decision to bump them up in my TBR before they’re lost forever (sounds dramatic but you book enthusiasts know what I’m saying, right?). First up was THE HEARTS WE SOLD and I can't handle how much I loved it! So without further ado, let’s get on with the review!




Book description, from Goodreads:

When Dee Moreno makes a deal with a demon—her heart in exchange for an escape from a disastrous home life—she finds the trade may have been more than she bargained for. And becoming “heartless” is only the beginning. What lies ahead is a nightmare far bigger, far more monstrous than anything she could have ever imagined.


With reality turned on its head, Dee has only a group of other deal-making teens to keep her grounded, including the charming but secretive James Lancer. And as something grows between them amid an otherworldy ordeal, Dee begins to wonder: Can she give someone her heart when it’s no longer hers to give? 

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There were a few components of THE HEARTS WE SOLD that immediately stood out to me. First and foremost, the super cool premise. I mean, demons exchanging wishes for body parts? You have my attention. *turns off phone*


Lettering by Maricor Maricar. 
Jacket photography ©️ by Howard Huang. 
Jacket design by Marcie Lawrence


But a fabulous premise only goes so far. I need amazing characters to make the plot soar. And oh boy, did Dee ever fit the bill. A fiercely determined young woman, Dee wasn’t scared to take what she needed. And even better, when she was scared, Dee pressed onward. It may have been a crawl sometimes, and heck maybe she even took a step back here and there, but for the most part, Dee kept her eyes on the prize and exchanged her heart for a chance to live a different life. After all, bravery only counts when it’s in the face of fear.

The guiding premise launched the plot into a much more high-stakes situation than I’d anticipated and I flew through the book in two days. Lloyd-Jones posed a fair number of thematic questions to her readers as well, which I appreciated.




Most of all, I loved the dialogue. It takes a keen eye and ear to create authentic and engaging conversations, and even more of a challenge to insert humorous quips into tense situations, because there’s the worry of deflating tension. THE HEARTS WE SOLD walked that line with an enviable ease, showing personality and voice without dampening the pace. Realistic and accessible with sharp observations, this is dialogue done right.

If you’re in the market for a wild ride, filled with uncertainty and well-developed characters who are literally willing to risk it all, then you need to read THE HEARTS WE SOLD!!



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For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Paper Mâché and Black Expressionism

Julep – Fiore

OPI – Red My Fortune Cookie, You Don’t Know Jacques, Mod About You, Lucky Lucky Lavender, Dulce de Leche, Tiramisu for Two, and matte topcoat

China Glaze – Immortal

Mitty Burns – minty brush

So Nailicious – needle and slayer brushes





11.1.18

review and cover mani: the woman in the window

THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW is popping up everywhere. I can’t scroll through any form of social media without seeing it. Not only that, Stephen freaking King blurbed this Hitchcockian thriller, along with a who’s-who of the thriller/mystery/crime/suspense community. But still, I thought to myself: no way it can really be that good.

Well friends, I'm psyched to report that it isn't just good, it's phenomenal. The hype is more than justified.




The back jacket, from Goodreads:

What did she see?
It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.
Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.
But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?
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If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a billion times: I love unreliable narrators. Immersing myself in a character who I can’t quite trust, who's saddled with too many biases to convey an objective truth, is the peanut butter to my jelly. In THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, shadows of uncertainty touched every piece of new information, which elevated the tension to stress-eating levels. And with Anna Fox's awareness of her possible confusion--the acceptance that she may not be well--I instantly cared for her. Anna's sharp intelligence only deepened my fascination. Through it all, Anna's empathy for others made her easy to cheer for and by the second chapter, I'd located my pom-poms. 


Designed by Bonni Leon-Berman


Also, there was the writing. Cheese and rice, the writing. A.J. Finn chose the most exquisite words and placed them in the exact right places, creating a Jenga tower of literary triumph. Because pacing and prose and character building, oh my! I mean, there wasn’t even a misplaced comma. Like, who doesn’t have extra commas?! I’ll most certainly be pre-ordering whatever Finn releases next, armed with sticky notes to highlight my favourite turns of phrase.



In sum, I’m adding my voice to what is swiftly (and rightly) becoming a booming chorus and recommending THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW as a must read. Actually, it’s a must read and a now read, as in you must read it, and you must read it now.


Enormous thanks to Harper Collins Canada for sending me an ARC of this bananpants novel!
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For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism

OPI – Yo-Ga To Get This Blue and matte topcoat

Red latex paint


So Nailicious brushes – needle and slayer




30.12.17

top 10 reads of 2017!

Another year has come and gone but what a literary ride it's been! 2017 started strong with books of all sorts and didn't let up for a minute. From YA to adult, thriller to historical, and everything in between, I gave more books five stars in 2017 than I ever have before. In total, I read 80 books and painted 43 cover manis--also a personal record. If I hadn't fallen ill in January and August, I have no doubt there would have been more. 

As such, this was the most challenging top 10 list I've ever put together and even now, I'm not completely certain with my choices. But the show must go on and I don't want to start 2018 behind in my posts, so the top 10 I have now will have to stay (until I actually press "publish" and until then, I'll be frantically changing my choices haha!). I've written smaller blurbs underneath each picture but if you click on the title, it'll take you to my full review, and keep in mind that not all of my choices were 2017 releases. :)




THE HATE U GIVE was a force to be reckoned with this year and rightly so. Honest and powerful, Thomas's writing shined a light on the Black Lives Matter movement, from a YA perspective. A must-read for everybody, no matter their age. Especially white folks, because obviously. 




This action-packed Canadian YA dystopian (say that three times fast haha) was a surprise hit for me. I mean, I thought I'd like it but was surprised how attached I became to the antagonist, Eighth. His chapters drew out a wide variety of strong emotions in me and even now, the title gives me feels (this will make sense to you after you read it). Eighth's counterpart Raven proved to be a complicated character herself and I'm dying for the next book to be released.




Incredible plotting and pacing, I flew through THE VANISHING YEAR. The sense of unease was so strong that I vividly remember being on the literal edge of my seat. Unreliable narrators are my favourite and Zoe killed it in that regard. And then things got SUPER MEGA INSANE and I couldn't read fast enough. (I'm also sad that this mani happened to fall on a week where I'd had major nail breakage. There should've been far more room for the fun galaxy background!!)




Nobody makes me laugh like Kirsty Greenwood and in BIG SEXY LOVE, she travels across the pond to NYC. Slapstick, over-the-top, and bursting with humour and heart, this book was a refreshing change of pace from heavier novels. A true nod to the complex fierceness of female friendships, I was laughing even while I cried. So, so, so awesome.




I was fortunate enough to hear S.K. Ali speak about her debut novel, SAINTS AND MISFITS, and her passion had us leaning forward, hanging on her every word. Ali's writing contains the same quality, and I loved reading about Janna's life. I found 2017 to be an extraordinary year for feminist fiction and SAINTS AND MISFITS falls under that glorious (and past-due) umbrella. With elegance and strength, Janna grappled with events in her life, and the added bonus of her Muslim culture meant I got to experience a new world. Woot!!




There are few things I love more than magic but since I possess no magical inclinations myself, I'm forced to read about it and dream. WICKED LIKE A WILDFIRE presented magic in a way I'd never seen before and I adored the powers that Popović created. With a rich setting, flawless writing, and too many twists to count, WICKED LIKE A WILDFIRE was a seamlessly constructed fairy tale that will leave you dying for more. This book also wins my Favourite Cover of the Year Award, because I still can't handle the gorgeous details and colour palette. 





THE CHILD FINDER was everything I've come to expect from Rene Denfeld: a haunting story written from a place of compassion. I find that's the key note to Denfeld's voice, as she explores what the human spirit is capable of--how it can survive the darkest of moments. A steady pace with revelations and crossroads, THE CHILD FINDER proved that Denfeld is a force all of her own and I'll continue to read every book she releases. 




I started reading THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES on a plane and it was the worst because my face exploded with unexpected tears but my attachment to Alex forced me to continue reading and therefore, I continued to cry in public. This was also the official beginning to my Mindy McGinnis addiction and I've since read two more of her novels. All are different but have one thing in common, unapologetic and fairly unlikable protagonists, and I can't get enough.





I was peer pressured to read ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE and I'm so happy I caved. There are no characters like Eleanor Oliphant, with her highly compartmentalized and controlled life, but so much more bubbled beneath her surface. Hilarious and heartbreaking, Eleanor's journey to self-acceptance was ultimately uplifting and magnificent prose delivered her tale with quirky style. Honeyman's exquisite writing allowed for this in-depth examination on what it means to be lonely, and the pain one will endure to let others in. Gah. It's just so amazing!!




Atmospheric, sharp, and haunting, THE WEIGHT OF LIES became my top read of the year the second after I finished. Southern gothic vibes done right with a fascinating protagonist, I've recommended it to more people than I can count because it's frickin' incredible. Just read it. READ IT NOW (PLEASE).


So there you have it. My top 10 reads of 2017! YAY!

On a final note, I'd like to say thank you to the authors, publishers, and PR folks who've sent me books over the last year, but most importantly, thank you to my readers!! I'm beyond grateful for your support for my quirky hobby of cover manis paired with reviews and I'm looking forward to booknerding out with you in 2018!

Happy New Year!!






21.12.17

review and cover mani: if you could see me now

Well friends, the year is winding down and the holidays are just around the corner. But as much as the holidays can be awesome, they can also suck for a host of reasons, which is why I wanted to share a hilarious book because having a super fun novel on your Kindle (or reader of choice) can serve as a great escape. And trust me, IF YOU COULD SEE ME NOW is sixty shades of escapist and slap-your-knee fiction. Haha!




The book description, from Goodreads:

Izzy Harris should have it all – but her boyfriend has been ignoring her for months, she’s been overlooked for a promotion, and the owner of her local coffee shop pervs on her every time she has a craving for a salted caramel muffin.

Then her life is unexpectedly turned upside down.

Izzy dumps her oblivious boyfriend, and leaps on the chance to win a big pitch at work. Needing to work closely with gorgeous colleague Alex is an added perk…

But then her best friend has her heart broken, the pitch is way more complicated than expected, and Alex is keeping secrets. Does Izzy have what it takes to help her friend, save her career and get the guy? 

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If you take a look at the cover of IF YOU COULD SEE ME NOW, you'll see it offers a tagline of A laugh-out-loud romantic comedy. At first, I was all: "Oh really book? You're going to call yourself a LOL romcom? That's a tad presumptuous. I mean, there's a difference between laughing in your head and actually laughing out loud."

And so, with moderately-sized chip on my shoulder, I began reading but soon had to stop because my husband was sleeping beside me and my shaking body woke him up. When he opened his eyes, I lost the control I'd been funnelling into not laughing out loud and basically guffawed in his face for forty-five minutes. He was thrilled (not really haha!).


Cover design by Emma Rogers


To put it another way, if the Richter scale measured side-splitting laughter, this would score at least as a nine. Maybe even a nine-point-five. Because there was an additional plot twist in IF YOU COULD SEE ME NOW that I could barely handle due to its hilarity. 

So actually, IF YOU COULD SEE ME NOW's tagline is one hundred percent accurate and shame on me for being such a hater. (Also, I really shouldn't have been skeptical because it earned the Kirsty Greenwood seal of approval and you all know how strongly I feel about Kirsty Greenwood's sense of humour.) Haha!

Stainton’s ability to flesh out the funny at every turn had me whipping through pages, taking a break only to wipe my eyes because yes, there were two times where I laughed so hard I cried. Even the acknowledgements made me giggle! But since the hilarious plot twist isn't touched in the book’s description, I won’t go into detail. Rest assured though, fellow booknerds, you’ll never guess where this glorious book will lead you.




Nestled between jokes and slapstick situations was a healthy dose of feminism, meaning that Izzy is more than her “stats” of boyfriend, career, and friends. She hid from the world and from herself, making herself small and settling for much less than she deserved because she lacked the chutzpah to demand better. So while IF YOU COULD SEE ME NOW made me laugh, it also offered introspective moments as Izzy tried to gain control of her life. Ultimately, it was an uplifting tale that hit a lot of notes for me, and since there’s no real darkness (murder/violence) it's perfect for a time of year where stress abounds.

In conclusion, I think it's safe to say that I loved this book so if you also love to laugh and feel your heart swell when a character slips on a metaphorical empowerment blazer, working it in until it fits like a glove, you need to read IF YOU CAN SEE ME NOW!!



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For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Paper Mâché and Black Expressionism

OPI – Rollin’ In Cashmere, Strawberry Margarita, Big Apple Red, Kiss Me On My Tulips, and matte topcoat

China Glaze – My Way Or The Highway and Born To Rule

Julep – Janae

Essie – shake your $$ maker

So Nailicious brushes – needle, warrior, and slayer