book review with cover mani: the kept woman

Karin Slaughter, guys.


Yes, this creepy baby is totally appropriate. 

Her writing is incredible, the characters she creates are uncomfortably dark, and the plots are beyond twisted. Yes, I said twisted in stead of twisty, because that's what makes Slaughter books so insane (and, if I'm being honest, kind of icky). She makes terrible things happen, and just when I think it's as bad as it can get, things always gets worse. Slaughter's books are the sort that seem strange to say that I loved, because the subject matter offers a buffet of the worst humanity has to offer, but they're completely enthralling. THE KEPT WOMAN, included. 

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Husbands and wives. Mothers and daughters. The past and the future.

Secrets bind them. And secrets can destroy them.

The author of the acclaimed standalone Pretty Girls returns with this long-awaited new novel in her bestselling Will Trent series—an electrifying, emotionally complex thriller that plunges the Georgia detective into the darkest depths of a case that just might destroy him.

With the discovery of a murder at an abandoned construction site, Will Trent and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are brought in on a case that becomes much more dangerous when the dead man is identified as an ex-cop.

Studying the body, Sara Linton—the GBI’s newest medical examiner and Will’s lover—realizes that the extensive blood loss didn't belong to the corpse. Sure enough, bloody footprints leading away from the scene indicate there is another victim—a woman—who has vanished . . . and who will die soon if she isn’t found. 

Will is already compromised, because the site belongs to the city’s most popular citizen: a wealthy, powerful, and politically connected athlete protected by the world’s most expensive lawyers—a man who’s already gotten away with rape, despite Will’s exhaustive efforts to put him away.

But the worst is yet to come. Evidence soon links Will’s troubled past to the case . . . and the consequences will tear through his life with the force of a tornado, wreaking havoc for Will and everyone around him, including his colleagues, family, friends—and even the suspects he pursues.

Relentlessly suspenseful and furiously paced, peopled with conflicted, fallible characters who leap from the page, The Kept Woman is a searing novel of love, loss, and redemption. A seamless blend of twisty police procedural and ingenious psychological thriller, it marks Karin Slaughter’s triumphant return to her most popular series, sure to please new and diehard fans alike.


This was my first Will Trent book and I was worried that I'd come to the party too late. Thankfully, Slaughter's excellent backstory weaving explained the gist of several pre-existing relationships. I say "the gist" because there's no way she could've summed up seven previous books, but I didn't feel lost. I also have a strong suspicion that THE KEPT WOMAN was one of those series instalments that tied up a lot of loose ends (kind of like HOME did, with the Myron Bolitar series), so if you're familiar with Will and Sara, then you'll probably have your mind blown. But even if this is your first experience with them, I can still guarantee a fantastic read. 

My heart broke about a million times for Will--the GBI agent who's desperate for love and went to great lengths to protect a person who's done little to earn his loyalty. In fact, the person is a straight-up nightmare who uses and abuses Will. But Will doesn't waver. Not even when he's at risk and every bone in his body is screaming at him to stop. He doesn't want to be defined by his excruciatingly painful past and yet that's precisely how this awful person sees him. Worse still, they poked and prodded at Will until he did their bidding. It was painful to read, at times, but inside Will's struggle was enough hope and resolution to keep me from throwing myself down a hole of despair. 

And that's what THE KEPT WOMAN was really about. The murder at an abandoned construction site wasn't just a whodunit. No, it went much deeper than that. The crime dredged up the most painful parts of Will's past and put them on full display. In short, the investigation forced Will to confront his demons. And oh my, what intense demons, they were. OMG THE DEMONS, SERIOUSLY. *shudders and weeps*

I feel confident saying that THE KEPT WOMAN won't be for everyone. The violence is acute, and the plot is extremely dark; think crime and thriller to the max. But in addition to that, there's the light of the human spirit. It's buried pretty deep, underneath all the other awfulness, but its there, nonetheless. If you're looking for a single new title, or an entirely new series that doesn't hold back punches to your heart and throat, I think the Will Trent books are for you!


For this mani, I used: 

China Glaze - Wood You Wanna?
ORLY - White Tips and Luxe
OPI - CIA: Color Is Awesome, Rollin' in Cashmere, and matte top coat
Julep - Bea and Janae
Fingerpaints - Figure of Art and Black Expressionism
Tools - triangular makeup sponge, long striping brush, piCture pOlish nail art brush no. 10, and a few hex pieces of glitter. 


book review with cover mani: the couple next door

Colder months always make me want to snuggle up with a good thriller. Maybe it’s the black covers that most thrillers boast nowadays, or maybe because suspense is best read in the dead of night, which now starts at approximately 5:30PM (*sobs*), but in any event, I've been reading a lot of thrillers lately. THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR has been in my TBR pile for a while, but recently shot to the top, thanks to my desire to take bookstagram pic with a recently acquired light-up eh? sign (I really am a total book nerd). Haha!! 


The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all—a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora, but one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents, but the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they've kept for years.

What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family, a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.


I love sneaky characters who abide by the rules of Marauder’s Map, and much to my delight, Anne, Marco, and the entire cast of THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR are up to no good. Some consider their secret(s) a harmless lie by omission, while others adhere to straight-up deception with malicious intent, but the one thing everyone has in common is their ability to bend the truth. There are no innocents here, except for the baby. (Yay! Haha!)

Every once in a while, I decide to paint a book's title and each time, I regret it. 
The font never comes out as I want it to, and the lack of letter symmetry makes
me crazyface. I must confess that I'm not happy with this mani, and debated on 
whether to not to post it, but I really loved this book and didn't have time to do
 it again, so it'll have to do. Whomp, whomp, and also grrrr. 

The reason I was so fascinated by the characters in THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR was Lapena's enviable ability to crack open her creations' brains and present the messy results in an accessible way. I was left with no doubt, regarding motivations, and that meant I wasn't put off by questionable actions because I understood why they occurred. And trust me, there were countless decisions that could've left a bad taste in my mouth, to the point where I'd put down the book, but instead of being repulsed, I was drawn further into the story. It takes impeccable execution to write unlikable characters that still elicit sympathy from me, and that's where Lapena's talent leapt off the page. None of these guys or gals were awesome, and yet, I was fascinated by them. Once I hit the last third, I finished in one sitting because there were so many loose ends with extremely high stakes, that I just had to know how it ended. Gah, I love when a book holds me hostage!

So if you're into psychological suspense with elements of thriller and crime, then you're going to want to pick up THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR. Twists, what-the-eff?! moments, and heart-squeezing tension abound! And sure, it may make you question the seemingly mundane lives of your neighbours, perhaps leading to an obsession in finding out what they're hiding, but isn't that why we read? To have our world changed, if only for a minute? To wonder what's lurking inside the dark closet of an outwardly "perfect" person's mind? In my opinion, that's a resounding yes, so if you're like me (meaning a harmless but inquisitive snooper) then THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR is definitely a book for you. 


For this mani, I used:

China Glaze - Sun Worshiper
OPI - Need Sunglasses? and Matte Top Coat
Fingerpaints - Black Expressionism and Paper Mache
Julep - Bea
Tools -What's Up Nails regular straight tape and a trimmed striping brush

And for more manis and bookish pictures, check out my IG account! (@jennieshaw)


book review (with cover mani!): city of the lost

CITY OF THE LOST is the start of another amazing series by Kelley Armstrong. I'm in deep with the Cainsville series (the next release isn't out until August of 2017 and omg that's basically forever from now *cries*) and I picked up CITY OF THE LOST, hoping for the same kind of un-put-downable read. Non-spoiler alert: it was everything I wanted and more!

*points while jumping up and down*

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author Kelley Armstrong delivers us to Rockton, a secret little town in the far north where the hunted go to hide. And where a hunter has now come to play.

Casey Duncan once killed a man and got away with it. Since then she’s become a talented police detective, tethered only to her job, her best friend, Diana, and the occasional evening with her sexy, no-strings-attached ex-con lover, Kurt. But then Diana's abusive ex finds her again, despite all Casey has done to help her disappear. And Casey’s own dark past begins to catch up with her. The two women need to run—and Diana’s heard of a place where they won’t be found, a town especially for people like them…

Casey Duncan, people. CASEY DUNCAN. She's beyond awesome. I mean, who else would upend their life and move to the middle of frickin' nowhere (literally) in order to help their best friend? Nobody, that's who. But that's only one example in an endless string of the awesomeness that is Casey. She's incredibly smart and intuitive, loyal to a fault, and isn't afraid to stand up for what she thinks is right.

Actually, that's not totally true. Casey is afraid when she addresses an unjust situation, but she acts anyway, which is the definition of real courage. Also, have I mentioned that Casey drinks tequila? Straight, and without convulsing into a coughing fit? I'm reasonably certain that's the mark of a true badass, so add that to all of her other character quirks and Casey is pretty much the best. Not that she believes it, of course. Nope, not even for the briefest of moments. But that just makes me like her more. Gah! It's all so good!

As you can tell from the back jacket, the book began with Casey's startling confession. It was pure brilliance, and a key reminder of why I love Armstrong's writing. I'm always surprised. But not only with the "whodunnit" aspects (of which there are many red herrings and delightful twists).

When it comes to character development, Armstrong takes my natural assumptions and flips them to create powerful moments. And the best part? Even though I know Armstrong is a wondrous trickster, I never see the flips coming! In CITY OF THE LOST, the character arcs--reveals, secrets, and betrayals--elevated the story's tension to squirming-in-my-seat territory. There was even a part where I teared up. Yup, CITY OF THE LOST is a crime/thriller novel and I cried because it touched my heart. 

*hugs book*

Also in true Armstrong form, the remote northern location was described in eerie, atmospheric splendour, becoming a character in and of itself. The entire concept of Rockton was fascinating: a place for people to hide. And the eclectic collection of residents meant that nobody could be trusted. Talk about an amazing place to set a thriller, right? Combining the unique setting and a killer cast--haha!--with questionable motives and even more questionable pasts, means that I've found another series to obsess over (where I'll devour each new release and then anxiously wait 50 weeks for the next instalment, haha!). 

Soooo yeah. That's just about everything I can say about CITY OF THE LOST without revealing any spoilers. Just add this baby to your TBR pile. Now-ish. :)


For this mani, I used:

Nina Ultra Pro - Hint of Mint
ORLY - White Tips
OPI - A Good Man-Darin is Hard to Find, Stay Off the Lawn, and Red My Fortune Cookie
Julep - Valerie 
Tools - triangular makeup sponge, trimmed striping brush, piCture pOlish nail art brush no. 9

And for more manis and book pics, check out my IG account! (@jennieshaw)