26.4.17

book review and cover mani: I found you

Stories about memory loss have always intrigued me. I love the uncertainty. Live for it, actually. Because when a novel begins with a main character who doesn't know who they are, the possibilities are limitless. However, it's not an easy feat to accomplish. Sometimes the concept can be boring, or too obvious, but when it's done right, I'm in it to win it. And that's exactly what happened with I FOUND YOU.

*points excitedly*


I read I FOUND YOU during the long weekend, hence my beverage of choice. Haha!


The jacket, from Goodreads:

A young bride, a lonely single mother, and an amnesiac man of dubious origin lie at the heart of New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell’s next suspenseful drama that will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty and Paula Hawkins.

In a windswept British seaside town, single mom Alice Lake finds a man sitting on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, and no idea how he got there. Against her better judgment, she invites him inside.

Meanwhile, in a suburb of London, twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.

Twenty-three years earlier, Gray and Kirsty are teenagers on a summer holiday with their parents. Their annual trip to the quaint seaside town is passing by uneventfully, until an enigmatic young man starts paying extra attention to Kirsty. Something about him makes Gray uncomfortable—and it’s not just that he’s playing the role of protective older brother.

Two decades of secrets, a missing husband, and a man with no memory are at the heart of this brilliant new novel, filled with the “beautiful writing, believable characters, pacey narrative, and dark secrets” (London Daily Mail) that make Lisa Jewell so beloved by audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Jewell's choice to include a wide variety of POVs is one of the reasons I FOUND YOU worked so well. Each one approached the plot from a different perspective and acted like the corner pieces to the puzzle, framing the man's missing memory. But these weren't cookie-cutter types of characters. No, to up the ante considerably, each character possessed clear biases--a slant to how they viewed the world--which meant that nobody was reliable. Honestly, one of the most interesting parts of the book was seeing how they justified their decisions. Early on, I had a real sense on how they'd behave, which was beyond awesome. Jewell was so clear, in fact, that I'd get a little tingle of anticipation when I knew a character's motivations would crash into another's to make a big ole mess. Yay! (That makes me sound so mean, haha!)


Cover art by Laywan Kwan

As the characters moved forward, both in the present and the past, the picture began to form. But it wasn't straightforward. Discovering the mystery of who was who didn't happen in a straight line. Kind of like an episode of Lost, where information was unearthed, but not in order. It legit kept me turning pages, which was impressive because I usually prefer a quicker pace. Instead, I FOUND YOU offered a perfect slow burn, one that eventually turned into a frickin' forest fire. I mean, I read the book in two days and it would've been one day if mandatory adulting hadn't gotten in the way, because I had to know what happened next.




The final thing I want to mention about I FOUND YOU, is Alice. She kept it so real and I loved her for it. She didn't have a perfectly spotless house and wasn't too concerned. She loved her kids, but didn't necessarily parent them in a traditional way. Alice felt no need to be perfect and it was a breath of fresh air. Mega kudos to Jewell, in that regard, because it made this story feel all-the-more real. 

So if you love a thriller that keeps you guessing, a gradual crescendo of tension, and charmingly-authentic characters, I FOUND YOU is the book for you! 

Big thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for a review copy!
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For this mani, I used:

OPI - Dating A Royal, In My Back Pocket, Towel Me About It, Fearlessly Alice, You Don't Know Jacques, and Matte topcoat.

China Glaze -Man Hunt and Change Your Altitude

Julep - Eliana and Lizzy

Essie - shake your $$ maker 

Fingerpaints - Black Expressionism

Mitty Daisy 1.0, eyeshadow sponge


21.4.17

book review and cover mani: sputnik's children

Every once in a while, I have the urge to read something outside my usual genres. You know, to mix it up. So when I saw SPUTNIK'S CHILDREN on Netgalley, I thought I'd give it a try. It definitely satisfied my craving for something new and I can't wait to tell you all about it!

*cue twinkling stars sound*



The description, from Goodreads:

Cult comic book creator Debbie Reynolds Biondi has been riding the success of her Cold War era–inspired superhero series, Sputnik Chick: Girl with No Past, for more than 25 years. But with the comic book losing fans and Debbie struggling to come up with new plotlines for her badass, mutant-killing heroine, she decides to finally tell Sputnik Chick’s origin story.

Debbie’s never had to make anything up before and she isn’t starting now. Sputnik Chick is based on Debbie’s own life in an alternate timeline called Atomic Mean Time. As a teenager growing up in Shipman’s Corners — a Rust Belt town voted by Popular Science magazine as “most likely to be nuked” — she was recruited by a self-proclaimed time traveller to collapse Atomic Mean Time before an all-out nuclear war grotesquely altered humanity. In trying to save the world, Debbie risked obliterating everyone she’d ever loved — as well as her own past — in the process.

Or so she believes . . . Present-day Debbie is addicted to lorazepam and dirty, wet martinis, making her an unreliable narrator, at best.

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As much as Debbie is described as an unreliable narrator, I didn't find that to be the case. She was certainly a self-medicated narrator, but I always believed her, and that was important because the story had a lot of uncertainty. Without Debbie's charmingly sharp point of view, I'm not sure I would've been so engaged. Because let me tell you, even when the science parts went over my head, I was turning pages as quickly as I could, desperate to know how it would turn out. At times, my curiosity felt downright overwhelming. I mean, the story had time travel, alternate worlds, a mysterious stranger, and a giant ticking clock, so I never had any idea where the plot would veer to next.




For me to have that level of investment, the writing has to be on point, and holy hotcakes, folks, Terri Favro can write. Her prose was layered, informative, wry, political, and it blew my frickin' mind. A perfect balance of charming metaphors and witty one-liners, she blended facts with fiction to the point where I began to question my own reality. The concept seemed far-fetched to me in the beginning, but now I'm not so sure. Like, are there other versions of reality? Do we have dopplegangers someplace else, who would consider us the dopplegangers of them?! Do they have bombs? ARE WE GONNA DIE?! Yes folks, SPUTNIK'S CHILDREN will stretch your mind as it entertains you, which is a pretty cool experience. I'd love to get more detailed here, but it's a book you should experience for yourself and I don't want to spoil any of the crazypants surprises. Also, if you're Canadian, you'll love all the sly references to the great white north, from du Maurier cigarettes to Mark's Work Warehouse. I know I sure did!



So if you're into science fiction with a Canadian flare, I highly recommend SPUTNIK'S CHILDREN. It's the sort of book you have to invest in, as a reader, because the details are important, but it's worth the effort. Every sentence is meaningful. And hey, it doesn't hurt that the plot is straight-up bananas and Debbie is a wholly unique character who should probably lay off the martinis (even though she deserves them). What more could you want? Haha! 

Thanks to Netgalley and ECW Press for the review copy!



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For this mani, I used:

Fingerpaints - Black Expressionism and Paper Mache

China Glaze - UV Meant To Be

OPI - matte top coat and nail polish thinner

trimmed striping brush and a dotting tool

6.4.17

book review and cover mani: miss you

With spring doing its best to chase winter away, it's the perfect time for a book like MISS YOU to come into the world. I mean, have you ever seen such a cheery collection of colours on a cover? Fun fact: this cover required the most nail polish I've used for a mani, coming in at a whopping 28 (and even more because I mixed a few custom colours). The intricate nature of the design proved to be quite the challenge, but it was all worth it because MISS YOU is a must read. 


*dramatically strums awesome book harp*





The back jacket, from Goodreads:


Tess and Gus are meant to be. They just haven't met properly yet. And perhaps they never will . . . 


Today is the first day of the rest of your life is the motto on a plate in the kitchen at home, and Tess can't get it out of her head, even though she's in Florence for a final, idyllic holiday before university. Her life is about to change forever - but not in the way she expects. 


Gus and his parents are also on holiday in Florence. Their lives have already changed suddenly and dramatically. Gus tries to be a dutiful son, but longs to escape and discover what sort of person he is going to be. 


For one day, the paths of an eighteen-year-old girl and boy criss-cross before they each return to England.


Over the course of the next sixteen years, life and love will offer them very different challenges. Separated by distance and fate, there's no way the two of them are ever going to meet each other properly . . . or is there?
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Minor Bias Disclaimer: I have a personal connection to MISS YOU's premise because my hubs and I grew up in the same area, but never met until we were in our twenties. We often say that if we'd met any earlier, we wouldn't have liked each other very much (we actually think we would've hated each other 😂), so I was interested to see how MISS YOU tackled the topic of having to meet a person at the exact right time in order for them to connect.


Cover design by Bonni Leon-Berman. Artwork by Jimmy Pierney.


Unfortunately, things started off on a sad note when Tess and Gus found themselves overcoming major, life-changing obstacles they hadn't anticipated. Both ended up making sacrifices for their respective families and for the most part, they were ignored and taken for granted. Like most people who aren't seen for who they are--who live in the shadows of others--Tess and Gus became resentful, which trickles into most of the decisions they make. At times, that made them kind of unlikable. I mean, I've felt my fair share of resentment along the way, and its toxicity is hard to manage, but understanding their motivations didn't mean I supported their actions. But MISS YOU is more than two separate stories, because the whole time Tess and Gus navigated their ways through choppy waters, they were unknowingly rotating around each other like two boats lost at sea. 

The almost-encounters continued for sixteen years and I never knew when another would happen, but when it did, there was always a POV switch. Eberlen created full scenes, bursting with descriptions, which both characters described from their own perspective. The overlapping details--what felt important to each character--were some of my favourite parts. And without fail, whenever the POV shifted, my breath would catch in my throat, wondering if it was the day they'd meet. Each time they missed each other, my growing anticipation kept the tension high, which was good because there were moments when Gus, in particular, was hard to sympathize with. I did, though, because all he really wanted was to be happy. He wanted it so badly he ached. Tess was the same way. Through the ups and the downs, blocked by family responsibilities and hurt feelings, they were desperate for love. Oh, my heart when were they going find it?!




But at some point in every adult's life, there comes a point when you need to take accountability for your actions, and that's when I really started to root for Tess and Gus. They both recognized the source of their unhappiness and slowly but surely began to put the past to bed. Starting over when you're in your thirties is scary, but it's scarier to stay stuck. In the end, these were a pair of very real characters who took a winding pathway to find themselves. Eberlen did a stellar job demonstrating that in order to love another person, you have to love yourself. The ending was a bit rushed, but still totally satisfying. So if you want to read a non-traditional romance with a dash of European travel, this is the book for you!!

Huge thanks to Harper Collins Canada for sending me a copy for review!



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As I already told you, this mani required 28 polishes so get ready for a huge list. Haha!

OPI - Towel Me About It, Fearlessly Alice, My Twin Mimmy, Need Sunglasses?, I Am What I Amethyst, In My Back Pocket, Gargantuan Green Grape, Tiramisu for Two, Suzi Has A Sweet Tooth,  A Good Man-Darin is Hard to Find, Do You Lilac It?, Mod About You, and matte top coat

Julep - Payton, Ilsa, Nayley, and Kenna

Fingerpaints - White on White and Inkblot Blue

China Glaze - At Vase Value, Too Yacht To Handle, Trip of a Lime Time, Def Defying, Boho Blues, and Mix and Mingle.

ORLY - Thrill Seeker, Charged Up, and Paradise Cove

Trimmed striping brush and nail polish thinner