26.8.16

book review (with cover mani!): the singles game

Of all the sports in the world, tennis is my favourite. I love the cute outfits, emphasis on sportsmanship, and hitting the crap out of something within a confined space. Also, there's the scent of freshly popped tennis balls. Mmmm. Haha! In addition to those elements, I love Lauren Weisberger, so it's no surprise that I picked up THE SINGLES GAME.

I'd like to give a special shout-out to a pair of super cool teachers who let me sneak onto their private
tennis club's courts so I could take this picture. Teachers really are the best. YAY FOR TEACHERS!

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

The new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Devil Wears Prada and Revenge Wears Prada—a dishy tell-all about a beautiful tennis prodigy who, after changing coaches, suddenly makes headlines on and off the court.

Charlotte “Charlie” Silver has always been a good girl. She excelled at tennis early, coached by her father, a former player himself, and soon became one of the top juniors in the world. When she leaves UCLA—and breaks her boyfriend’s heart—to turn pro, Charlie joins the world’s best athletes who travel eleven months a year, competing without mercy for Grand Slam titles and Page Six headlines.

After Charlie suffers a disastrous loss and injury on Wimbledon’s Centre Court, she fires her longtime coach and hires Todd Feltner, a legend of the men’s tour, who is famous for grooming champions. Charlie is his first-ever female player, and he will not let her forget it. He is determined to change her good-girl image—both on the court and off—and transform her into a ruthless competitor who will not only win matches and climb the rankings, but also score magazine covers and seven-figure endorsement deals. Her not-so-secret affair with the hottest male player in the world, sexy Spaniard Marco Vallejo, has people whispering, and it seems like only a matter of time before the tabloids and gossip blogs close in on all the juicy details. Charlie’s ascension to the social throne parallels her rising rank on the women’s tour—but at a major price.

Lauren Weisberger’s novel brings us exclusive behind-the-scenes details from all the Grand Slam tournaments: the US Open, the French Open, the Australian Open, and Wimbledon. Charlie Silver jets around the globe, plays charity matches aboard Mediterranean megayachts, models in photo shoots on Caribbean beaches, walks the red carpet at legendary player parties, and sidesteps looming scandals—all while trying to keep her eyes on the real prize. In this sexy, unputdownable read about young tennis stars who train relentlessly to compete at the highest levels while living in a world obsessed with good looks and Instagram followers, Charlie must discover the secret to having it all—or finally shatter the illusion for good.
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THE SINGLES GAME has a lot going for it. Charlie is the kind of character you'd want to grab a beer with--or a water with lime because Charlie's in training--and her drive is apparent right away. Recovering from a severe injury is no joke, and adding the pressure of coming back as good, if not better, than before the injury could've crippled Charlie. But she isn't the sort of gal who'd just give up on her dream. Nope. Not her style at all. In fact, Charlie wants to climb the rankings so badly, she hires Todd Feltner, who's pretty much the worst. I mean, he's also the best when it comes to coaching players who win Slams, but as far as being an actual human being with feelings, he stinks. But Charlie's willing to do what it takes, even if she has to change who she is. And oh man, does Charlie get caught up in the superstar game, both on and off the court, which brings me to another ace aspect of THE SINGLES GAME: the tennis.


Having played tennis since childhood and being lucky enough to have attended the Rogers Cup and French Open (Roland-Garros), I've seen the game from both sides of the net. Rest assured, folks, you're getting the real deal here. Weisberger describes every detail of the game in such technicolour that I pictured myself watching Charlie from the stands at Wimbledon, while sweating with her as she tried to win match points. This book is in-your-face tennis, guys and gals, which is frickin' awesome, and the second reason you've got to read it.


The other characters who help Charlie achieve her dreams are the third reason you need to pick up THE SINGLES GAME. Although this book appears to be about Charlie's rise to the top, it's actually about Charlie deciding what sort of person she wants to be, and her brother, father, and hitting partner are the grounded relationships that offer her a mirror. The banter between them is relatable, and I really enjoyed the inside jokes and heartfelt memories. I also think it's important to note there's a Level 10 Smokeshow of a Spaniard you'll get to drool over. Hello hottie! Haha!

So for reals, people, what else do you need to know? Just buy it already! And if you want to add to your reading experience, snap the lid off a fresh container of tennis balls and take a big whiff. It'll set the perfect mood. ;)

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For this mani, I used:

Julep - Monaco
Fingerpaints - Paper Máchë
ORLY - Mirrorball
China Glaze - Celtic Sun
OPI - My Silk Tie
Glisten and Glow - HK Girl Topcoat
Supplies: loose hex glitter and circular rhinestones
Tools: trimmed striping brush, wax crayon for rhinestone application


To see more, non-book-related manis, check out my IG page! (@jennieshaw)





18.8.16

book review (with cover mani!): this savage song

This book, guys. 

This. Book.

It was tense, insightful, gorgeously written, and positively bursting with interesting moral dilemmas. I read it quickly, even though I didn't want it to end, and now it feels like ten lifetimes until the next book is slated for release. But isn't that the best-slash-worst way to start a series? Of course it is! (Unfortunately. Haha!)





The back jacket, from Goodreads

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwaba young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

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Before I get into my review, I think I should share something: I'm a sucker for the name August. Especially when August is a male character, because it makes me think about the movie August Rush, which has one of the best soundtracks ever. So the combination of a male character named August and the musical-ish story of THIS SAVAGE SONG gave me the warm and fuzzies right away. That said, those warm and fuzzies didn't last long because this book is downright dark

But dark is how I like my YA, so as far as I'm concerned, this book was a total win. I mean, Kate takes no crap from anybody, even if it means getting her hands dirty, there are monsters everywhere, and her world is on the brink of total anarchy. Meanwhile, August is a sympathetic outsider who just wants to belong. But like the back jacket states, he's also one of the monsters. 

So who's the good guy/gal? 

Who's the bad one? 

What the frick is happening?

It's a genius idea, when authors create characters with sliding scales of light and dark. Mostly because it makes me hella nervous, which explains why I read this book so quickly. 


Another bias I have to admit is that I'm bananas about books that blur the line between right and wrong. The messier the morality, the better the book, and THIS SAVAGE SONG is messier than messy--think, glitter-bomb-in-a-tornado messy, only the glitter would be pointy and sharp and probably murder you. Schwab's concept is deliciously complicated, in that regard, and it makes meaningful points about the world that we, the reader, live in. But, you know, in a subtle way because nobody likes a book on a soapbox. 


Plus, there are creepy childhood singsongs. And no love-triangles (which is a pretty common occurrence in YA). Oh, and I can't forget the atmospheric amazingness. Did I feel like I was actually in Verity? Yup. I totally did. And trust me, it was terrifying. 

Add that all up and you've got the makings of a seriously incredible series, which leaves me conflicted because I want to scream READ THIS BOOK NOW, but then you'll be stuck waiting with me. But hey, misery loves company right? So let me know when you read it and we can commiserate about the excruciating wait. Probably over cupcakes. Because cupcakes make even the most painful wait, bearable. 

*buys one million cupcakes*

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For this mani, I used:

OPI - A Man-Darin Is Hard To Find, I'm Not Really A Waitress, and Matte topcoat
Fingerpaints - Black Expressionism and Paper Mache
Julep - Dawn
Tools - piCture pOlish #9, trimmed striping brush, and a triangular makeup sponge

And for more, non-book-related manis, check out my IG page! (@jennieshaw)




11.8.16

book review (with cover mani!): I let you go

This book has been all over the place and I just wasn't sure about it, but when a copy was forced upon me by my favourite bookseller, who was all: Why haven't you read this yet?!, I decided to give it a try. I'm happy to report that yet again, Steph was right on the money, because it was incredible!

*points*



The back jacket, from Goodreads:

In a split second, Jenna Gray's world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.

Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating . . .


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To put it plainly, the subject matter of I LET YOU GO is heartbreaking, but if you can connect with Jenna like I did, you'll be mesmerized by her voice. I think it would've been easy to overdo certain emotional reactions, considering the tragedy, and yet, Jenna's grief is relatively quiet, resting just beneath the surface. Naturally, it comes to the forefront every so often, which is when I'd feel tears sliding down my face, but for the most part, Jenna tries to look forward. 

Because above all else, Jenna is a survivor, but there's more to life than just surviving. She wants to start over and create another life for herself. But how can the human soul recover from such despair? Jenna begins to address that question within the early chapters, and for the rest of the book, we follow Jenna as she tries to figure it out. 



Unfortunately, that's about all I can tell you about I LET YOU GO, because surprises abound in this baby, popping up in unexpected places to give you pulses of anxiety and quash any notion you had about sleeping even though you have a big meeting the next morning. So instead, I've put together a few GIFs that accurately capture my emotional reading experience; the circle of feelings, if you will.

1. Heartbreak


2. Surprise

https://tmblr.co/ZjsrOx16NNphl

3. Brain-explosion


Repeat those expressions four times and that's how I got through I LET YOU GO. The writing is riveting, evocative, and downright bananapants, which built the plot to the highest levels of insanity while cracking open my Grinch-y heart. I admire authors who make me squirm in my chair, which is why I'm now an official member of the Clare Mackintosh Fan Club. Because holy squirm-fest! I even found myself leaning forward as I read, because relaxing in a chair felt disrespectful to the stress-eating stakes.


So if you decide to pick up I LET YOU GO, do yourself a favour and don't start right before you go to bed. Not unless you've got some sick days at work left, anyway, because the rest of the world will quickly seem insignificant once you turn that first page. Oh, and don't read any reviews. I've been noticing some reviews for this book include spoilers, which is the meanest thing ever (OMG STOP DOING THAT, PEOPLE). You've got to read this one without any prior knowledge of anything, except the warning that your dogs probably won't get walked and kiddos will have to fend for themselves. Not to worry, though, you can make it up to them later with bacon strips and a trip to the water park. Respectively. Haha!

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For this mani, I used:


China Glaze - Man Hunt and Immortal
Julep - Kenna
ORLY - White Tips
Fingerpaints - Black Expressionism
OPI - Matte topcoat
Tools - saran wrap technique, piCture pOlish nail art brush #9, triangular makeup sponge

And for more, non-book-related manis, be sure to check out my IG page! (@jennieshaw)






2.8.16

book review (with cover mani!): I like you just fine when you're not around

There’s a very cool Summer Reading Challenge happening, open to anyone, where the goal is to read books written by writers who belong to the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. If you look up from this post, slightly to the right, you’ll see a tab labeled: WFWA. Click on it to learn about the awesomeness! Anyway, I love having a list to pick from, and when I saw I LIKE YOU JUST FINE WHEN YOU’RE NOT AROUND, my giggle had me pressing “buy now.” Because funny titles are the best. 


The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Everything is falling apart in Tig Monahan's life. Her mother's memory is going (dementia), her boyfriend is gone (Hawaii), her absent sister shows up long enough to have a baby (and then leaves again, without the baby) and her job as a therapist has disappeared after a contentious couples' therapy session goes horribly and honestly sideways. Oh, and then there's the whole thing about the family secret that nobody saw coming.

But Tig is a survivor (she hopes) who manages to stumble and step her way to a new job, new truths, new outlooks and a new lease on life.

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I’m not sure I need to leave a review, because if the back jacket description isn’t enough to have you sprinting towards your bookseller of choice, then this probably isn't the book for you. I mean, what other life-altering awful thing can happen to Tig? And the book hasn’t even started yet! Don't be scared of the awfulness, though, because while this book tackles majorly intense events, the delightfully humourous tone keeps things light.



Okay, so maybe I lied. This book is actually pretty heavy. However, Tig is such a wonderfully quirky character that even in her darkest moments, she can see the light. And yes, her humour is, at times, a defense mechanism, but there’s also a very relatable pragmatism that Tig possesses. When one extraordinarily awful thing happens to a person, it can consume them. Drag them down. Possibly even drown them. But when there are several extraordinary awful things to juggle and you're all alone, there’s no choice but to get up and just do it. Tig is the perfect manifestation of that sentiment--the Nike of women's fiction characters, if you will. Haha! Don’t get it twisted though, she’s an emotional basketcase, wound tighter than a harp string and liable to snap at any moment, but all of the external problems that Tig has to deal with force her to look within herself, whether she wants to or not. The only way out is through and fortunately, Tig seems to understand the process, so through it, she goes. 

It’s a bumpy ride, that’s for sure, and there’s a 95% chance you’ll cry when reading about Tig's ups and downs, but you’ll laugh too. In fact, I’d even gather to say that you may learn a little bit about yourself, because this book is like that friend who sits you down and holds up a mirror, lovingly exposing the parts of you that need tweaking. What you do with that information afterwards is up to you, of course, but either way, you'll get to know yourself better. 

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For this mani, I used:

OPI - Red My Fortune Cookie and Matte Top Coat
Julep - Amy, Dawn, and Linda
China Glaze - Turned Up Turquoise
ORLY - White Tips
Tools - saran wrap technique, small dotting tool, and piCture pOlish brush #9