review and cover mani: vicious

Books with magic will always be my favourite—my true escapes—so obviously, I’m a major fan of Victoria Schwab. My first Schwab title was THIS SAVAGE SONG, followed by the Shades of Magic series, and with bookstagram counting down the days until VENGEFUL, it was time to read VICIOUS. The Titan books collector’s edition, to be specific. Because that jacket design, for real. And also the book itself…and the ribbon bookmark. My point is, the entire thing is gorgeous times one million, and the inside is even more awesome.

The back jacket, from goodreads:

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. 

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?


It’s interesting that I read GIVE ME YOUR HAND and VICIOUS back to back, as both novels had competitive friends who ultimately destroyed each other. Only in VICIOUS, it was two men. And said men gave themselves superpowers before becoming archnemeses and vowing to destroy the other. Yes, VICIOUS was basically revenge central with an X-Men vibe, which meant I couldn’t get enough. 

Design by Julia Lloyd

But Victor and Eli, an accepted villain versus a self-proclaimed hero who was in denial about his villain-nessweren’t in it alone. Each had a sidekick and in Victor’s case, he had two. So while the men were focused on destroying the other, they had to contend with allies who didn’t always agree with their actions. Even thwarted them, in certain moments, and I adore supporting characters that challenge protagonists while asserting themselves. In the case of Eli’s partner, she gave him a run for his money and the unpredictability of their relationship added another layer of tension. 

Then there were the superpowers. Schwab did a phenomenal job grounding them in science with a dollop of fantasy expertly swirled on top, complete with a gleaming Maraschino cherry of "Omg could that actually work?" The experiments truly felt like they could hold water in real life, and when I begin to suspect random people on the walking trail or in the grocery story of having ExtraOrdinary abilities, an author’s done their job. Also, it reinforced my unhappiness that yet again, I missed the magic train. Like, what does a gal have to do for some sort of supernatural power?!* 

*Not to worry, I’m not about to try this crazy experiment. Or am I? Haha! No. I’m not. Probably. {orders large quantity of ice}

My only critique was the abrupt switching of past and present. At times, chapters felt prematurely cut off—too short without enough of a reveal. I’m down with drawing out backstory, but the back and forth made my head spin, and consequently took me out of the story, which was frustrating. That said, I can’t wait for VENGEFUL. In fact, I may have ordered two special edition boxes, due to my addiction to Victoria Schwab’s writing and consequential need for all the merch possible. There’s still a couple of months left until VENGEFUL hits shelves, so you've got time to read VICIOUS and get psyched. Because revenge is a dish best served whenever, as is losing yourself in a Victoria Schwab world.


For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mache

OPI – Big Apple Red and matte topcoat

China Glaze – Street Style Princess

So Nailicious – needle brush


review and cover mani: give me your hand

Covers with some element of fire always pique my interest, so the second I saw GIVE ME YOUR HAND, my eyes turned into hearts. Then I read the description and was all: YES! I'll take science nerds all day! Ambitious, smart women are the sort of characters I can spend infinite amounts of time with, and adding in a dark secret with destructive consequences made it a done deal. Because I'm all about the destructive consequences haha!

The back jacket, from goodreads:

Kit Owens harbored only modest ambitions for herself when the mysterious Diane Fleming appeared in her high school chemistry class. But Diane's academic brilliance lit a fire in Kit, and the two developed an unlikely friendship. Until Diane shared a secret that changed everything between them. 

More than a decade later, Kit thinks she's put Diane behind her forever and she's begun to fulfill the scientific dreams Diane awakened in her. But the past comes roaring back when she discovers that Diane is her competition for a position both women covet, taking part in groundbreaking new research led by their idol. Soon enough, the two former friends find themselves locked in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse that threatens to destroy them both.


GIVE ME YOUR HAND was a fascinating reading experience. Mostly because I was tricked by Megan Abbott. I gravitate towards more plot-based novels, as their pace tends to be quicker, but still enjoy a good psychological thriller as long as I know that’s the deal before starting. With that in mind, the first fifty pages of GIVE ME YOUR HAND primarily set the scene and outlined the beginning of Kit and Diane's somewhat toxic friendship in high school. I was interested, but not overly invested. Then, suddenly, my neck was sore, my limbs stiff from sitting in the same position for too long, and I was well over the halfway point, glued to the page. Literary sorcery, I tell you! I don’t even remember any specific point where it changed. One second I was only sort of connected and the next, I was flying through pages and gasping with surprise during a series of OMG MOMENTS where things got mental. Yes, all caps, bold and italic in the same sentence are 100% necessary. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have doubted Abbott’s ability to write a psychological thriller that tunneled into the recesses of warped minds and also embraced plot. I mean, she’s Megan Abbott. 

Jacket design by Julianna Lee. 
Jacket art by Mat Collishaw (front).

Along with being a psychological thriller, emphasis on the thriller, GIVE ME YOUR HAND was unapologetically feminist—my favourite sort of feminist. From Diane and Kit, the research topic pioneered by their badass idol, and said badass idol herself, women were front and center. Abbott also touched on a universal female experience: the belief there’s only room for one woman at the top—that if another woman succeeds it means no others can. In the university lab Kit worked in, she and her peers assumed that of three available positions, only one could be for female researcher, which had me nodding my head while also seething. Because why is that? And the research topic of PMDD, a completely understudied area because the medical community doesn’t take women’s pain seriously while erectile dysfunction has been studied ad nauseam—a condition that has no pain, by the way—also had me rolling my eyes and harbouring not-positive feelings about society. I guess what I’m saying is that GIVE ME YOUR HAND fired me up, which meant that I cheered on Kit and Diane with extra-large pom poms, even when they were doing terrible things. Because when everything a person has worked towards is threatened, the stakes can't be higher. In the case for Kit and Diane, each had too much to lose and I held on for the bananas sequence of events that forced them to decide how far they were willing to go. Non spoiler alert: it was pretty darn far. 

So if you’re in the mood for well fleshed out, fierce, and brilliant female characters who don’t always make the most moral decisions and therefore pay the price (*cackles*), then make sure you get your big sexy brain to a bookstore tomorrow, because GIVE ME YOUR HAND hits shelves July 17th!

Big thanks to book sparks for a finished copy!

As an extra bonus, book sparks has generously offered a copy to a lucky reader! Head on over to my Instagram account to enter. Open to US and Canadian mailing addresses. 😊


For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mache

China Glaze – Bottoms Up, Boujee Board, Sun Worshiper, and Plur-Ple

OPI – Stay Off the Lawn, In My Back Pocket, A Good Man-Darin Is Hard to Find, Need Sunglasses, My Private Jet, and matte topcoat

So Nailicious – needle brush


review and cover mani: ayesha at last

AYESHA AT LAST was an absolute delight. Tight storylines with delicious layers of complications gave a solid nod Pride and Prejudice, but the fresh Muslim take and Canadian setting created a fun and touching story that stands on its own. I got attached to the main characters pretty quickly and then held on for the emotional rollercoaster. Because for real, there were a ton of moving parts.  

The back jacket, from goodreads:

Pride and Prejudice with a modern twist 

AYESHA SHAMSI has a lot going on.  Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century. 

When a surprise engagement between Khalid and Hafsa is announced, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and his family; and the truth she realizes about herself. But Khalid is also wrestling with what he believes and what he wants. And he just can’t get this beautiful, outspoken woman out of his mind. 


As AYESHA AT LAST is a retelling-ish tale, I was aware of the general progression of events, but then something awesome happened: I totally forgot them. Confused? Me too! Haha! It was remarkable, really, because every so often, there’d be a heavy reference that reminded me of the connection to Pride and Prejudice and I’d think: Oh riiiiiight. Bennet and Darcy. Those two.

Because these characters felt like real people I could to run into on the street. So quirky and honest and endearing that before long, they became friends. Each cast member, from Ayesha to Khalid and everyone in between, were well-rounded, authentic characters who never felt like they existed solely to tell Ayesha and Khalid’s stories. And isn’t that the best? 

All cover images: Shutterstock

Ayesha’s struggle to remain supportive of her extended family while trying to have a fulfilling life of her own was totally relatable. Doubling-down on the pressure, Ayesha also fell into a sort of grey area, being judged by non-Muslims for wearing hijab, and judged by Muslims for being too progressive, which must be a reality for many Muslims who’ve grown up in Canada. Ayesha loved to write poetry and longed to travel but needed a more stable career choice in order to pay off her debts. That is, until she found a husband and would thusly be expected to drop everything and become a wife and mother. That element was direct a tie to P&P: women could hold certain approved positions, teacher included, but striving to be a wife was the ultimate and inevitable path. Considered a near spinster in her later twenties, Ayesha seemed to have accepted her place as outside the norm and naturally, that made me love her even more because she wasn’t willing to compromise. 

Then there was Khalid. Grounded in religion, Khalid’s personality worked as the total opposite to Ayesha’s. A man of rigid faith, his stern nature immediately repelled Ayesha, despite Ayesha’s appreciation of his physical appearance. Mr. Darcy was never more religious than most, his uppity demeanour stemming from privilege and wealth, which made Khalid all the more interesting. His somewhat stifled life, one where he did was he was told and held himself to the highest of standards, immediately had me sympathizing with him. Between Ayesha and Khalid, the latter’s journey proved more captivating, more significant. Because while Ayesha had people in her corner who encouraged her to express herself and be true to her dreams, Khalid had no such support. His obedience was a given, which made his choice to take another path all the more powerful.  

And can we please talk about how AYESHA AT LAST was set in Toronto? And how the writing was smooth as silk, rhythmic and immersive? Or to circle back to my intro, how the vast number of interconnected storylines joined forces to form an epic saga of love and family? Where every single character had their own highs and lows, goals and drives? I would like to chat about all of these things because there’s so much awesome crammed into this novel that I can hardly stand it! So if you’re in the mood for a touching, fun, and ultimately uplifting, diverse romantic comedy about two people who have to find themselves before they can find each other, AYESHA AT LAST is the book for you! Five stars, plus one bazillion stars, for a total of one bazillion and five stars. 

As a special bonus treat, the awesome folks at HarperCollins Canada have offered a copy for me to give away! Check out my Instagram account to enter! Giveaway closes on July 20. 


For this mani, I used:

ORLY – Skinny Dip

FingerPaints - Black Expressionism and Paper Mache

China Glaze – Werk It Honey and Water-Falling in Love

OPI – A Good Man-Darin is Hard to Find and matte topcoat

Glisten and Glow – topcoat

So Nailicious – needle brush

Small dotting tool


the time I was interviewed on goodreads and then died of happy-tear dehydration


Yesterday was one of the best days of my life. As I write this, my eyes are sore from roughly 24 hours of happy crying. I love the bookish and nail art communities so much that my heart hurts.

Perhaps I should back up and explain my current blissful state.

A couple of weeks ago, I was interviewed by Cybil, the senior editor at goodreads aka booknerd utopia. When she first followed me on Twitter, it took me a second to process what was happening. Also, her Twitter account is @Cybil, and having a first name only handle and a blue check definitely means you're a big deal, so I was extra holy cannoli!

Then she reached out with an offer to interview me about my cover manis, for the goodreads blog. It took me a few hours to respond because I couldn't quite wrap my brain around the concept. Because, um hello! This is goodreads! How does anyone at goodreads even know who I am?! I mean, this is the site I use more than Google! The site where I get to find new books and talk about books and see what books friends are reading and books books boooooooooks! Eventually, I wrote back with a restrained (for me) tone while my insides fizzled like pop rocks.

Since this was my first interview, on the days leading up to the call, I was too nervous to function. If you've read my reviews or know me in real life, you're aware of my high level of enthusiasm and combined with a more candid nature, I had significant fears of saying something ridiculous. Good news! It only happened once. Haha! Cybil was warm and friendly, which I appreciated so much. Plus, we got to talk about nails and books, which are obviously my two favourite topics.

The article is live on the goodreads blog right now, and for the time being, can be found on the homepage (???!!!). It'll also be sent out in the July 26th newsletter and will officially go down as one of the greatest things to happen to me. I'm completely overwhelmed by the response and it'll take a while to believe that it's real. Thank you so much to everyone who has commented, liked, and shared the article, and hello to new followers!!

Omg. As if this is my life.

Be right back, gotta get more tissues.


review and cover mani: her pretty face

HER PRETTY FACE was bananas with a capital B. I had to stop at one point and hop onto Insta stories to freak out a bit because W-O-W, Robyn Harding did not come to play. Or, actually she did…with reader’s pre-conceived notions about women who commit violent acts. *spindles fingers while cackling*

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

The author of the bestselling novel The Party—lauded as “tense and riveting” by New York Times bestselling author Megan Mirandareturns with a chilling new domestic drama about two women whose deep friendship is threatened by dark, long-buried secrets.

Frances Metcalfe is struggling to stay afloat.

A stay-at-home mom whose troubled son is her full-time job, she thought that the day he got accepted into the elite Forrester Academy would be the day she started living her life. Overweight, insecure, and lonely, she is desperate to fit into Forrester’s world. But after a disturbing incident at the school leads the other children and their families to ostracize the Metcalfes, she feels more alone than ever before.

Until she meets Kate Randolph.

Kate is everything Frances is not: beautiful, wealthy, powerful, and confident. And for some reason, she’s not interested in being friends with any of the other Forrester moms—only Frances. As the two bond over their disdain of the Forrester snobs and the fierce love they have for their sons, a startling secret threatens to tear them apart…because one of these women is not who she seems. Her real name is Amber Kunick. And she’s a murderer.

In her masterful follow-up to The Party, Robyn Harding spins a web of lies, deceit, and betrayal, asking the question: Can people ever change? And even if they can, is it possible to forgive the past? 


I need to be careful with this review, which is kind of frustrating because I want to SCREAM ABOUT THE AWESOMENESS, but can’t really do that without revealing spoilers. Ugh. Isn’t that the best/worst? I’ve recommended HER PRETTY FACE to several people but nobody’s read it yet and I’m all: I told you about this amazing book last week why the heck haven’t you started already?! Because yes, I am a demanding bookish friend…who has good taste so actually, you’re welcome for the peer pressure. Haha!

Cover design by Kelly Vlagh/Faceout Studios

Okay, back to the review that I cannot seem to write without spiraling into a spoiler black hole. 😫🤐 The fundamentals were in full attendance: strong voices, up-market prose with a literary bend, and escalating tension. It was also feminist in the best way because despite popular opinion, women are just as capable of violence as men. So while HER PRETTY FACE had a foot firmly planted in domestic suspense, the last two questions in the back jacket description, “Can people ever change? And even if they can, is it possible to forgive the past?” created the sweet nougat center of this deliciously provocative novel. As a Canadian, I felt a healthy dose of oh no she didn't when I began to suspect one of the sources of Harding’s inspiration, but she did, and it was glorious. 

I honestly can't get over how smart, sharp, bold this book was, friends. SO SMART AND SHARP AND BOLD. That said, I think it’s important to note that I almost stopped reading, early on. One of the narrators didn’t seem authentic and I struggled to connect. I’m extremely happy I kept going, but wanted to include my hesitancy in case others have the same reaction. Trust me. Keep reading. Things settle in. So if you gravitate towards fiction about taboo topics, polarizing characters, and themes that will stay with you long after you’ve finished, HER PRETTY FACE is the book for you! On sale next Tuesday, July 10th, make sure you pick up a copy!

Big thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for an ARC!


For this mani, I used:

OPI – It’s a Boy, Stay Off the Lawn, A Good Man-Darin is Hard to Find, Can't Find My Czechbook, and matte topcoat

China Glaze – UV Meant to Be

FingerPaints – Paper Mâché and Black Expressionism

Julep – Imogen and Kenna

NailsInc - Cornwall Gardens

Glisten and Glow – topcoat

So Nailicious – needle and warrior brushes

Dotting tool


review and cover mani: playing with matches

PLAYING WITH MATCHES was just the lighter fare I needed. Humour and heart are like peanut butter and chocolate, forever a delicious and satisfying combo. PLAYING WITH MATCHES had equal servings of both. Fun and fresh, I laughed at the plethora of hilarious moments that felt all too real in regards to first jobs, first loves, and other first adulting situations. Orenstien captured those highs and lows through Sasha’s twentysomething eyes in a grounded way, so I was able to fall right in and root for her until the end.

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

In the tradition of Good in Bed and The Assistants comes a funny and smart comedy about a young matchmaker balancing her messy personal life and the demands of her eccentric clients.

Sasha Goldberg has a lot going for her: a recent journalism degree from NYU, an apartment with her best friend Caroline, and a relationship that would be amazing if her finance-bro boyfriend Jonathan would ever look up from his BlackBerry. But when her dream career falls through, she uses her family’s darkest secret to land a job as a matchmaker for New York City’s elite at the dating service Bliss.

Despite her inexperience, Sasha throws herself into her new career, trolling for catches on Tinder, coaching her clients through rejection, and dishing out dating advice to people twice her age. She sets up a TV exec who wanted kids five years ago, a forty-year-old baseball-loving virgin, and a consultant with a rigorous five-page checklist for her ideal match.

Sasha hopes to find her clients The One, like she did. But when Jonathan betrays her, she spirals out of control—and right into the arms of a writer with a charming Southern drawl, who she had previously set up with one of her clients. He’s strictly off-limits, but with her relationship on the rocks, all bets are off.

Fresh, sweet, and laugh-out-loud funny, Playing with Matches is the addictive story about dating in today’s swipe-heavy society, and a young woman trying to find her own place in the world.


The matchmaking element produced a fair amount of the punch lines, as Sasha tried her best to find partners for her clients, no matter their inexperience or aggressively specific criteria. I particularly loved the group scenes with other matchmakers, glued to their phones to make connections. It gave me a sense of go-go-go, totally fitting for New York City. While Sasha zipped around, whether by foot, subway, or cab, her unexpected career suddenly became the only constant in her life. Her seemingly-solid relationship exploded into concrete chunks, and the impact forced her to slow down and make some hard decisions. 

Jk. She pretended she was okay and tried to distract herself with a handsome Southern writer and copious amounts of wine. See intro paragraph where I mentioned moments that felt all too real. Haha!

Cover design by Sinem Erkas.

Stories where women save themselves are the ultimate best and as much as I love a high fantasy quest, in the real world, the saving element is more subtle, although just as meaningful. PLAYING WITH MATCHES had that deeper layer of empowerment, which elevated my affection for Sasha. Yes, she had her distractions, but after a while, Sasha had to decide if she’d make choices for herself or keep going with the flow. And isn’t your twenties are about? Watching Sasha’s priorities shift from the desire to please others, to considering her own happiness first—redefining what that happiness would even look like—earned Sasha an endearing place in my heart. 

If you want to laugh, cheer on a wry protagonist, and be left with a smile on your face, PLAYING WITH MATCHES is the book for you! In stores now, make sure you pick up a copy of this charming and voice-rich debut.

Big thanks to Touchstone Books for an ARC!


For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Paper Mâché and Black Expressionism

OPI – Let’s Be Friends, Mod About You, Dulce de Leche, Kiss Me On My Tulips, You Don’t Know Jacques, and matte topcoat

China Glaze – Kiki In Our Tiki, Pretty Fit, Fresh Prince-ss, Bodysuit Yourself, and Chroma Cool

Orly – Storyteller (custom colour)

So Nailicious brushes – needle and warrior


review and cover mani: the book of m

THE BOOK OF M took me a few days to completely absorb. Lyrical and dark, I fell under the spell of Shepherd’s prose. Plus, the premise was fresh as hell and things got crazy. A rollercoaster ride for the mind and heart, there’s something for everyone in THE BOOK OF M.

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Set in a dangerous near future world, The Book of M tells the captivating story of a group of ordinary people caught in an extraordinary catastrophe who risk everything to save the ones they love. It is a sweeping debut that illuminates the power that memories have not only on the heart, but on the world itself.

One afternoon at an outdoor market in India, a man’s shadow disappears—an occurrence science cannot explain. He is only the first. The phenomenon spreads like a plague, and while those afflicted gain a strange new power, it comes at a horrible price: the loss of all their memories.

Ory and his wife Max have escaped the Forgetting so far by hiding in an abandoned hotel deep in the woods. Their new life feels almost normal, until one day Max’s shadow disappears too.

Knowing that the more she forgets, the more dangerous she will become to Ory, Max runs away. But Ory refuses to give up the time they have left together. Desperate to find Max before her memory disappears completely, he follows her trail across a perilous, unrecognizable world, braving the threat of roaming bandits, the call to a new war being waged on the ruins of the capital, and the rise of a sinister cult that worships the shadowless.

As they journey, each searches for answers: for Ory, about love, about survival, about hope; and for Max, about a new force growing in the south that may hold the cure.


Contemporary fantasy is one of my favourite genres because it stretches the world I’m already in. THE BOOK OF M was set in a recognizable future, where things were mostly the same-old, until shadows started disappearing—at first a seemingly innocuous occurrence that grew sinister when the person’s memories began to disappear in turn. With no medical explanation to verify why some shadows vanished while others remained firmly attached, every character was at risk. The constant worry of becoming shadowless served as a baseline for escalating tension. 

Cover design ©️ Leo Nickolls Design
Cover photograph ©️ All Canada Photos/Almy Stock Photo

Beginning with two characters, Ory, who retained his shadow and Max, who’d just lost hers, provided two different points of view, although both perspectives were saturated with fear. Fear of losing the other, losing themselves, and general fear of the world at large, as it could no longer be relied upon for safety and security. Max’s quest led her south, as a persistent rumour stated there could be a man with a cure, while Ory longed to find Max before she forgot him. On their respective ways, old friends reemerged, new friends were made, and oh what an adventure they had. Ory and Max had no choice but to press on, no matter what obstacle lay in their path. Whether over or under, fight or surrender, they kept going, and the further they got, the more they had to risk—another opportunity for agonizing tension that Shepherd used to its full potential. 

Supporting characters also played vital roles in THE BOOK OF M, each with their own specific objectives. Depending on the time, they would either help or hinder Ory and Max and as a reader, I never knew which way it would fall. A few other narrators made an appearance, but I won’t spoil who they were. Their combination with Ory and Max tackled the shadow/less phenomenon from all angles, leaving no aspect from the fallout of memory loss unexplored. Heartwarming and heartbreaking with an overall sinister vibe, THE BOOK OF M was as much about the characters as the plot, which made for a thoroughly immersive reading experience. 


For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism, Inkblot Blue, and Paper Mâché

ORLY – Skinny Dip

China Glaze – The Outer Edge

piCture pOlish – saphira and alice

OPI – Give Me Space

Glisten and Glow – topcoat

So Nailicious – needle brush


review and cover mani: the outsider

I have several major fears, and much to my (evil) imagination’s delight, two of them appeared in THE OUTSIDER. I won’t share which fears they were, but let’s just say that I was extra vigilant to close curtains, lock doors, and do a full sweep of our house before heading to bed…where I’d toss and turn, worried that I was about to get murdered. Yay? Haha, of course it’s a yay, even when I’m huddled under the covers, attached to my husband like a spider monkey because there’s a strange shadow in the hallway. You’ve likely seen the cover by now, so I’m sure you can sympathize why this particular novel hit my scardy-cat nerves. (Note: shadows in a hallway aren’t one of my major fears, so there are still two more terrifying ones in attendance.)

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

From #1 New York Times bestseller Stephen King, whose brand has never been stronger, comes one of his most propulsive and unsettling stories ever.

An eleven-year-old boy is found in a town park, hideously assaulted and murdered. The fingerprints (and later DNA) are unmistakably those of the town’s most popular baseball coach, Terry Maitland, a man of impeccable reputation, with a wife and two daughters. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland coached, orders an immediate and public arrest. Maitland is taken to jail, his claim to innocence scorned. Maitland has a foolproof alibi, with footage to prove that he was in another city when the crime was committed. But that doesn't save him either.

King constructs a propulsive plot, and a race against time to uncover the identity of a terrifying and diabolical killer who has left victims—and “perpetrators”—across the country, and who is on his way to his next horrific act.

King’s psychological suspense is at its most riveting in this extraordinarily dramatic and eerie story. He is devastatingly vivid on the experience of being falsely blamed—the effect on the accused, the spouse, the children; the suspicion of friends, even the most loyal; the impossibility of ever being innocent again (if you are lucky enough to live). He is also masterful at showing us that supernatural monsters are startlingly like human beings who do monstrous things.


Before digging into THE OUTSIDER, I caught Stephen King on Colbert, where he spoke about the inspiration for his latest novel: the idea that everybody has a twin. As expected, King took that premise and injected a healthy dose of horror. The result was a book that had me questioning what I would do when confronted with a fact that’s 100% true and simultaneously 100% false. I read enough fantasy/paranomal to be confident that I’d accept (and be psyched by) a supernatural sort of explanation, because some situations can’t be explained in traditional reality. For others, it’s not that easy (which is a testament to why reading fiction is awesome). Believing in the unbelievable requires a certain degree of willing openness and not everyone can suspend their disbelief, as the acknowledgement of the fantastical can launch a person into an existential crisis. That was the case for Ralph Anderson, a police officer who struggled to make sense of Terry Maitland’s ability to be in two places at the same time. Watching Ralph grapple with the process of seeing the truth in a sweeping grey-scale instead of black and white, was psychological suspense at its best. 

Jacket design and artwork by Will Staehle/Unusual Corporation

Alongside the primary plot of “what the hell is going on,” King delved into the fallout of being accused of a horrific crime in a small community. Each perspective was given a chance to shine: Terry, his wife, kids, and legal team, which gave a 360°view of this horrible situation. When faith is broken, it’s all too easy to turn your back on people who’d been your friends only a minute earlier, but what happens when one is too quick to judge? Universal themes with a side of terror are where the King shines, and the way he traced the ripple effect provided a grounded and realistic base to the story. 

The last line of the back jacket, “He is also masterful at showing us that supernatural monsters are startlingly like human beings who do monstrous things,” is the best one-line description of THE OUTSIDERS, so reader beware: you will be freaked the freak out, and not just by the paranormal elements. With King’s trademark, engaging writing and creepy vibes to the extreme, if you’re in the mood to not sleep for several days, THE OUTSIDER is the book for you! 

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


For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mâché

China Glaze – Chroma Cool and Immortal

OPI – Lucerine-Tanly Look Marvelous, Rollin’ In Cashmere, A Good Man-Darin Is Hard To Find, matte topcoat

So Nailicious – needle brush

Mitty Burns – minty brush


blog tour: tell me lies

Last Saturday, I spent all day glued to the pages of TELL ME LIES. Holy addictive novel, friends! The unhealthy dynamic between Lucy and Stephen had me all: "Oh girrrrrrl nooooooo." But in an empathetic way, because I've been there, battling romantic feelings towards a charming person who basically treats you like shit. While Lucy and Stephen shared the narration in alternating POV chapters, this story was more about Lucy. Mostly because she was the only one capable of growth, although it pains me to say that Stephen’s voice brought this book to the next level (because yikes, what a nightmare character).

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

A thrilling, sexy coming-of-age story exploring toxic love, ruthless ambition, and shocking betrayal, Tell Me Lies is about that one person who still haunts you—the other one. The wrong one. The one you couldn’t let go of. The one you’ll never forget.

Lucy Albright is far from her Long Island upbringing when she arrives on the campus of her small California college, and happy to be hundreds of miles from her mother, whom she’s never forgiven for an act of betrayal in her early teen years. Quickly grasping at her fresh start, Lucy embraces college life and all it has to offer—new friends, wild parties, stimulating classes. And then she meets Stephen DeMarco. Charming. Attractive. Complicated. Devastating.

Confident and cocksure, Stephen sees something in Lucy that no one else has, and she’s quickly seduced by this vision of herself, and the sense of possibility that his attention brings her. Meanwhile, Stephen is determined to forget an incident buried in his past that, if exposed, could ruin him, and his single-minded drive for success extends to winning, and keeping, Lucy’s heart.

Alternating between Lucy’s and Stephen’s voices, Tell Me Lies follows their connection through college and post-college life in New York City. Deep down, Lucy knows she has to acknowledge the truth about Stephen. But before she can free herself from this addicting entanglement, she must confront and heal her relationship with her mother—or risk losing herself in a delusion about what it truly means to love.

With the psychological insight and biting wit of Luckiest Girl Alive, and the yearning ambitions and desires of Sweetbitter, this keenly intelligent and staggeringly resonant novel chronicles the exhilaration and dilemmas of young adulthood, and the difficulty of letting go, even when you know you should. 


I had concerns about reading TELL ME LIES when the back jacket used “toxic love” to describe Lucy and Stephen’s relationship, because I thought it was a veiled way of saying “abusive.” I suppose an argument could be made to that effect, in so far as emotional manipulation, but I saw the implosion of two people who gravitated towards each other, even when it wasn't good for them. Mostly on Lucy's part, of course, because of the two, she was far more emotionally involved, which invariably meant she got hurt. Reading her POV was more of a challenge than Stephen's, because I could feel her pain and frustration—her yearning to be loved, no matter what the cost. But Stephen’s charismatic words were a siren song, each carefully constructed compliment luring Lucy deeper and deeper into dangerous waters. Choosing to believe promises over actions never ends well, and again, I’ve been there. In fact, TELL ME LIES brought up memories about my own version of Stephen, which made me tackle-hug myself* because thank goodness I figured out I deserved better. 

*If you try this, make sure you're in front of a couch or other more forgiving surface because you'll propel yourself backwards and landing on your tailbone isn't a good time. *gets bag of ice*

Jacket design by Donna Cheng

That said, Lovering NAILED Stephen's perspective, the sort of man who figures out how to manipulate another person's behaviour to his benefit, and to their detriment. Like, Lovering straight up set Stephen's POV on fire and I couldn’t stop staring at the flames. At times, I found myself chuckling at Stephen's douchebaggery, as it reminded me SO MUCH of my former off-and-on Stephen-esque relationship. I could actually picture him mirroring Stephen's exact same ego-centric rationale for his behaviour—justifying a hot and cold routine because he wants what he wants when he wants it. I also appreciated that Lovering didn't choose a smokeshow antagonist. Instead, Stephen's physical looks were on the average side, which I thought reinforced his dangerous nature--a seemingly innocuous exterior while inside, he was pure predator. 

{I had another paragraph here, where I said some specific things about Lucy’s path, but have since realized it’s spoiler-y. I could’ve just deleted this entirely, but wanted you to know that I could talk about this incredible book for much longer than this review appears in its final version. Because yes, it’s that good.}

When a novel consumes me to the point that I forget it’s fiction, going so far as to have me reliving my own memories, I’m left in awe. That is absolutely the case with TELL ME LIES. I’m in actual awe of what Lovering accomplished. Characterization done to perfection, TELL ME LIES earns a standing-ovation-style five stars from me, and is a must-read for anyone who’s been sucked into the orbit of a human death star.

Big thanks to Atria Books for a finished copy, and for including me on the blog tour!


For this mani, I used:

OPI – Kiss Me On My Tulips and matte topcoat

China Glaze – Kiki In Our Tiki

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism

White acrylic paint

So Nailicious – needle brush

Triangular makeup sponge