30.9.16

book review (with cover mani!): a court of mist and fury


Let's get one thing straight: I'm not a sap. I rolled my eyes through The Notebook, tapped my foot impatiently at the end of Titanic, and burst out in an inappropriately-timed snort during a particularly romantic scene in Jerry Maguire. So yeah, it takes a lot to make me well up--to acknowledge the push behind my eyes and do nothing to stop fat tears from leaking out the sides because I'm so happy or sad that I need a release. Crying with abandon: not my bag at all.


But this book. *points accusatorially* THIS BOOK I CANNOT. I'm a wreck. Exhausted. Beyond frustrated that I have to wait almost an entire year for the next one. And here's a devastating fact: I hadn't known this was a planned trilogy! I heard Mist and Fury described as a sequel, and because I don't read reviews beforehand, I was expecting the end of the story. 

But it's not the end! This was only book two! BOOK TWO OF THREE! OH MY GOD THE AGONY. I can't stop using all caps, guys. I JUST CAN'T.

via GIPHY

I'm not exaggerating one bit when I say that I sobbed my way through no less than 78% of A COURT OF MIST AND FURY. In fact, I had to put it down for breathers. I can't think of a single emotion I didn't experience and because everything was heightened, my irritatingly uncontrollable weeping was unstoppable. Naturally, I'm not going to tell you why, but rest assured, it was touching and uplifting and tragic and so beautifully written that my grinch-y heart didn't stand a chance. 



Maybe it's because I read the first and second so close together, but I fell into the Fae world so completely that I feel as if I've lost something. I actually can't remember feeling such an ache before--a true book hangover--to the point that I sprinted to Etsy to purchase a candle that smells like a certain character. 

Yes, that's how badly I want to be a part of the story. I purchased an extraordinarily expensive candle so I could make my house smell like a fictional character. A first for me, that's for sure. If I wasn't already completely comfortable with my level of nerdiness, I'd never admit that. But I legit I need more ACOMAF because my feels have overtaken my level-headed pragmatism and I've been left like an Illyrian without wings.

If you haven't read either of the Court books, you obviously won't get the reference but from this moment onwards, I will speak in the manner of the Fae. Because these are my people, and I'll be with them until the end, even though said end is so far away that another Starfall will have occurred. Oh, are you feeling left out because I made another Prythian remark you don't understand? Do yourself a major favour and start reading these so you can be hip to my jive (even if it's only in exchange for me never using "hip to my jive" again. Haha!).



So who else has read these first two books? Please message me and we can talk about the feels!! THE OVERWHELMING AMOUNT OF FEELS. And if you wondered about the reason I didn't include the back jacket description, by definition, it had some spoilers from A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES so don't read it online! JUST DON'T. But for reals people. Please, please, please read these books so we can commiserate!

__

For this mani (one that I'm extra proud of because those fighting leathers -> omg detailed), I used:

OPI - Dating a Royal
China Glaze - Liquid Leather, Man Hunt, Fresh Prince-ss, Intelligence Integrity & Courage
Julep - Lacey and Boris & Nicole
Fingerpaints - Sketch Me
Glisten and Glow - HK Girl topcoat
Tools - piCture pOlish nail art brush no.10, triangular makeup sponge, and a trimmed striping brush. 

And for more, non-book-related manis, check out my IG account!




27.9.16

book review (with cover mani!): a court of thorns and roses

This book, guys. I'm not sure how to begin. Even as I write this intro, I can feel tears pressing against my eyes, so let's just get down to business before I'm outright sobbing.

*bangs bananapants amazing book gong*




The back jacket, from Goodreads:

She stole a life. Now she must pay with her heart.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world. 

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

___

I've read a lot books that feature badass women, worlds in peril, and twisted, cruel plot lines, but I can honestly say that I've never been as attached to a character in my entire life as I am to Feyre--a declaration I don't make lightly. However, the really frustrating part is my inability to explain my reasons. Because in order to do that, I'd have to reveal specific details. And in no universe would I ever want to be responsible for hinting at one single spoiler, no matter how "harmless" it may seem. 

So that's why I won't make comparisons to other books that may diminish the surprises that are tucked away, poised to pop out at the most unexpected moments. Nor will I share my suspicions about the motivations that propel certain characters to act. Because as a reader who loves to get lost in a story, I don't want to deny you any fraction of pleasure you'll get from reading about Feyre--one of the most incredible characters I've encountered. 


But even though I won't delve into the complex components that forged together to create such a captivating tale, I will share with you how I felt. Because that's what A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES does, it makes you feel. Everything. Deeply. In fact, I'd argue that it's the contradiction of emotions that makes this series shine. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and Maas somehow manages to explore both at the same time, making my stomach lurch like it's on a roller coaster, soaring high only to turn around and plunge into the depths.

Yeah, I know that sounds crazy and kind of abstract, but the feelings this book pulled out of me belong in the Epic pile. Love, rejection, pride, self-loathing, hope, despair, it's all in there and combined, it created such unrelenting tension that I was forced to keep turning pages. Because let me tell you, even when things got bad (and oh man, do they get bad), it was impossible to not continue and find out if my heart would shatter or get a temporary reprieve. It was exhausting, in that undeniably pure way--the way that I think all fiction aspires to be.



So yeah, you need to read A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES. Now-ish. So what if you've got a big meeting coming up, or if you're a student studying for final exams? Buy this book and call in sick. Escape from your life and experience Feyre's world for a while. It's not always a fairy tale, because things really do take multiple turns for the worse, but it's a magical experience. And don't we all deserve a little bit of magic in our lives? I know I do.

*hugs book*

__

For this mani, I used:

OPI - Red My Fortune Cookie, My Silk Tie, and You Don't Know Jacques
China Glaze - Rainbow and Fresh Prince-ess
Julep - Myriam and Boris & Nicole
Fingerpaints - Sketch Me
Tools - piCture pOlish nail art brush no.9, trimmed striping brush, and a triangular makeup sponge

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


22.9.16

book review (with cover mani!): this is your life, harriet chance!

You know that glorious moment when a book grabs you so hard from the jacket description that you start imagining the story before you've read a single page? Well that's what happened when I first saw THIS IS YOUR LIFE, HARRIET CHANCE!

I mean, how can you not instantly love a title that ends with an exclamation point? What a high energy start! I don't know one other book that has an exclamation point and that sucks! Because if there's an exclamation point in the title, the book has to be amazing, right?!

Non-spoiler alert: The title's exclamation point is totally appropriate!


I love an excuse to get crafty. Yay for YouTube origami tutorials! Haha!

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

With her husband Bernard now in the grave, seventy-nine-year-old Harriet Chance sets sail on an ill-conceived Alaskan cruise only to discover through a series of revelations that she’s been living the past sixty years of her life under entirely false pretenses. There, amid the buffets and lounge singers, between the imagined appearance of her late husband and the very real arrival of her estranged daughter midway through the cruise, Harriet is forced to take a long look back, confronting the truth about pivotal events that changed the course of her life.  

Jonathan Evison—bestselling author of West of HereThe Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, and All About Lulu—has crafted a bighearted novel with a supremely endearing heroine at its center. Through Harriet, he paints a bittersweet portrait of a postmodern everywoman with great warmth, humanity, and humor. Part dysfunctional love story, part poignant exploration of the mother/daughter relationship, nothing is what it seems in this tale of acceptance, reexamination, forgiveness, and, ultimately, healing. It is sure to appeal to admirers of Evison’s previous work, as well as fans of such writers as Meg Wolitzer, Junot Diaz, and Karen Joy Fowler.
___

Harriet Chance is a crotchety, passive-aggressive widow. Suffice it to say, she's hard to like, but this book doesn't progress in a linear fashion, so shortly after being introduced to present-day Harriet, the story goes back to specific, defining moments in Harriet's life. And that's where THIS IS YOUR LIFE shines. Because underneath Harriet's prickly exterior is a woman whose life didn't turn out the way she'd imagined. She's a survivor and in order to keep going, she packed her hopes and dreams in a suitcase and then dropped said suitcase into a bottomless pit, never to be seen again. So really, it's no big surprise that, nearing her eighties, Harriet isn't a joy to be around.



But Jennie, you may be thinking, I thought you said this book had high energy! Remember all the exclamation points?!

And to that, I'd say, yes! The very unique and delightfully quirky element of this book is the way Evison used those energy-inducing punctuation marks. At the start of each flashback chapter, the first sentence ends in an exclamation point, and the POV changes from third-person to second-person--a literary choice that often falls flat for me--but here, it worked. Like, really worked. I was describing THIS IS YOUR LIFE, HARRIET CHANCE! to a friend and she said it reminded her of how a gameshow is introduced and you know what? She was absolutely right. Each flashback chapter is kind of like, Come on down to the showcase showdown!, complete with flashing lights and possibly a whaling siren. So whenever I reached a flashback chapter, I immediately felt a surge of optimistic enthusiasm. And that's pretty freaking cool because Harriet's life has some serious low points. Let me reiterate that: somehow, the upbeat introductions and turns of phrase were perfectly appropriate, even when dealing with more mature subject matter. I'm 70% sure Evison is a secret sorcerer, because he broke many-a-writing rules in this treasure. 

Also, and this observation is slightly out of nowhere, but the exclamation points reminded me of that Seinfeld episode where Elaine decided to excessively add exclamation points to a manuscript she was editing at Pendant Publishing, and anything that makes me think of Seinfeld is a super good thing.


via GIPHY
I'm nearing the end of my review now, and all I've mentioned is a repressed main character and perfect use of exclamation points, but there's still so much more about THIS IS YOUR LIFE, HARRIET CHANCE!, that you need to know. 


Because yes, the book explores Harriet's life, teasing readers with the hope that she'll somehow turn it all around, or at least understand how she became who she is, but there's also a healthy serving of mystery when decisions of days gone past are finally examined and explored. And with Harriet's estranged daughter on board with her, sharing a room the size of a walk-in-closet, they have no choice but to confront the hamper of dirty laundry they've been lugging around for so long.

I giggled, teared up, and ultimately felt uplifted by this book, so if you're looking for an engaging, heartwarming family saga told with gusto and spunky prose, then add THIS IS YOUR LIFE, HARRIET CHANCE! to your TBR list. Or better yet, just go pick up a copy, because then you'll get to have this fun cover on your bookshelf! It's like the awesomeness never stops!!

___

For this mani, I used:

China Glaze - Too Yacht To Handle, At Vase Value, White On White, and Boho Blues
Julep - Amy, Dawn, and Sam
Seche Vite - Quick Dry topcoat 
Tools - piCure pOlish brush no.10, thin straight striping tape from What's Up Nails

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



1.9.16

book review (with cover mani!): the girl with the lower back tattoo

I’ve been a fan of Amy Schumer for a while. She’s funny, smart, and doesn’t apologize for who she is, which makes her one of those celebrities I’m sure I’d be friends with IRL (if you could only see the party I’d have with my imaginary celeb friends, guys. Haha!). I’ve been looking forward to THE GIRL WITH THE LOWER BACK TATTOO ever since I learned of its imminent descent into bookstores, and now I’m at that level of delusion where I think Amy and I were destined to be friends. Because holy smokes is she ever amazing!

Side note: Don’t worry, Amy. I won't act on those delusions and continue to admire you from afar…but not in a stalker-y way, obvi. I SWEAR I AM NORMAL PLEASE DON’T FEAR ME. However, we do both think that white chocolate is fake chocolate, so we have that as a launching point for a potential friendship. Haha!



 The back jacket, from Goodreads:

The Emmy Award-winning comedian, actress, writer, and star of Inside Amy Schumer and the acclaimed film Trainwreck has taken the entertainment world by storm with her winning blend of smart, satirical humor. Now, Amy Schumer has written a refreshingly candid and uproariously funny collection of (extremely) personal and observational essays.

In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is—a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.

Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friend—an unforgettable and fun adventure that you wish could last forever. Whether she’s experiencing lust-at-first-sight while in the airport security line, sharing her own views on love and marriage, admitting to being an introvert, or discovering her cross-fit instructor’s secret bad habit, Amy Schumer proves to be a bighearted, brave, and thoughtful storyteller that will leave you nodding your head in recognition, laughing out loud, and sobbing uncontrollably—but only because it’s over.
___

I’m not a reviewer who typically quotes portions of a book because, frankly, they always sound out of context. You know, because plucking a quote from an arbitrary place literally removes the passage from its context, but in this book, there were so many mic drop moments that I found myself slipping in bookmarkers to remember certain parts. (In case you’re interested, they consisted of a band-aid wrapper, a cue card with my grocery list (ripped into several pieces) and a prescription receipt.) And for one of the first times ever, when I went back to read them, the excerpts made sense without explanation--a mark of a true mic drop moment, if I've ever seen one. And trust me, guys and gals, these mic drop moments are important. So although I could've focused on the humour, of which there is plenty, the parts that touched me were more than witty quips and self-deprecating jokes, and that's what my review will discuss.


For instance, from page 237, Amy writes: “Life is full of pain and disappointment. I’ve made a whole career out of pointing this out and reliving it in ridiculous ways so everyone can laugh and cry along with me. I wish my mother understood this too. It’s relaxing sometimes, just being human.”

Preach, girl, yesssssss!

More Bob’s Burgers GIFs on my personal blog!

And then from 314: "Beautiful, ugly, funny, boring, smart or not, my vulnerability is my ultimate strength.”

Oh man, did that one make me ugly cry, and right at the end, too. It takes so much for me to be vulnerable. Whenever I try, it’s like wearing a mohair sweater without seven layers of clothing underneath—itchy, uncomfortable, and suffocating. So Amy pointed out a significant truth in that regard, because it takes great strength to be vulnerable, and considering that this entire book was Amy being vulnerable, for hundreds of thousands of complete and utter strangers, it was humbling, which morphed Amy from a comedian to some kind of yogi on top of a mountain. A weed-smoking, cursing, beardless yogi, but a yogi all the same. She spoke to my heart, guys. Right to my damn core. 



Because Amy didn’t have to write the chapter about her history with sexual assault, nor did she have to delve into what it’s like to have a parent with a severe illness, and she sure as shit didn’t have to share insights from the abusive relationship(s) she survived. Those aren't the sorts of stories that people expect from Amy, but in typical form, she couldn’t care less about people's judgement of her. 

In fact, I suspect that Amy wrote this book to specifically cast a light on places that need attention, and by sharing her experiences in a relatable way, she does just that. Plus, right at the end of the book, Amy lists information where you can get involved in advocating for stricter gun control, should you live in the USA. So basically, Amy used her platform to bare her soul in order to make us think and then act

Make no mistake, Amy. I heard you. And now it's your turn, folks! Pick up this book and read it. Then, pass it along to others, because this is a book that needs to be read by as many people as possible. 

___

For this mani, I used:

OPI - Samoan Sand
Fingerpaints - Black Expressionism
Glisten and Glow - HK Girl Topcoat
Tools - piCture pOlish detail brush No. 9

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