24.5.17

review and cover mani: party girls die in pearls

Oh em gee, people, I have a super fun book to share with you today. PARTY GIRLS DIE IN PEARLS was pitched as Agatha Christie meet Clueless and it absolutely delivered. A throwback to traditional mysteries, PARTY GIRLS DIE IN PEARLS presented posh, British 1980s vibes in full technicolor. Whenever a metallic item of clothing appeared, my heart grew one size larger until I feared it would explode. (Spoiler: That didn't take long. Haha!) Ursula Flowerbutton had me at her last name (and also her first, if I'm being honest, because I'm a fan of The Little Mermaid) and she quickly became a force to be reckoned with, so now I'm officially obsessed. 

*points excitedly while still wearing fishnet fingerless gloves*




Back jacket, from Goodreads:

It’s 1985, and at Oxford University, Pimm’s, punting, and ball gowns are de rigeur. Ursula Flowerbutton, a studious country girl, arrives for her first term anticipating nothing more sinister than days spent poring over history books in gilded libraries—and, if she’s lucky, an invitation to a ball.

But when she discovers a glamorous classmate on a chaise longue with her throat cut, Ursula is catapulted into a murder investigation.

Determined to bag her first scoop for the famous student newspaper Cherwell, Ursula enlists the help of trend-setting American exchange student Nancy Feingold to unravel the case. While navigating a whirl of black-tie parties and secret dining societies, the girls discover a surfeit of suspects. From broken-hearted boyfriends to snobby Sloane Rangers, lovelorn librarians to dishy dons, none can be presumed innocent—and Ursula’s investigations mean that she may be next on the murderer’s list.

___

Like most mysteries from the 80s and before, the suspect pool in PARTY GIRLS DIE IN PEARLS was about the size of Lake Ontario--significant, but manageable--and the cast of characters had large personalities, written to perfection. The dry humour made me chuckle, as did the soap-opera style drama, where reactions were endearingly over-the-top. In particular, Horatio the Oxford gossip reporter, stole whatever scene he appeared in. To the point that I felt a strong urge to jump into the book and be his best friend. 

Ursula's other friends included fellow students, but she quickly gravitated towards Nancy Feingold, who made for an excellent BFF partner-in-crime(solving). Her brash American-isms and extensive designer wardrobe softened Ursula's sharper edges, along with getting her into the very parties Ursula needed to attend in order to gather evidence and have some fun. Ursula was more of a prickly sort and I'm happy she had a counterpart to balance her out.


Cover design by Fritz Metsch


Aside from the great characters and smart writing, there was another, fairly random element that made PARTY GIRLS DIE IN PEARLS such an enjoyable romp. You know the sorts of books where the environment becomes its own character? Well in this case, it was champagne, which I know sounds insane but hear me out. As the mystery unfolded, champagne basically became an independent protagonist and involved itself in everybody else's business. No matter what happened, champagne was in attendance. I'd even argue that without champagne, there wouldn't have been a plot, which makes total sense while also making zero sense and I'm laughing as I type this because what does that even mean? For real. How can a beverage become a character? Or play such a huge role in a mystery? You'll have to read PARTY GIRLS DIE IN PEARLS to understand the awesomeness, so after you burn through it, please shoot me an email to let me know I'm not alone in this belief. Haha!




As much as I really liked PARTY GIRLS DIE IN PEARLS, there were also a couple of things that irked me. I found the ending to be rather abrupt, which was a minor bummer, and the trail of clues were occasionally too convenient. That said, those two issues won't stop me from picking up the second. I need more Ursula and Nancy! (And Horatio, of course.) And you do, too. So get yourself a copy as soon as possible. If you have a vacation coming up, this is a perfect choice. And hey, if you really want to up your reading experience, have a bottle of bubbly on hand. It'll add a certain realness to the story and any excuse to drink champagne is a good one, right? Haha!


 Big thanks to Harper Collins Canada for a review copy!



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For this mani, I used:

Fingerpaints - Black Expressionism

OPI - Alpine Snow, A Good Man-Darin is Hard to Find, Charged Up Cherry, and matte topcoat

Essie - Getting Groovy

Mitty brushes - Peachy 000 and Daisy 1.0




17.5.17

blog tour: the perfect stranger




Greetings, fellow book enthusiasts! It's been years since I've participated in a blog tour and I'm super psyched to be part of Megan Miranda's. Her latest novel, THE PERFECT STRANGER, was bananas x 10 and I can't wait to tell you all about it!

*cues must-read siren*




The back jacket, from Goodreads:

In the masterful follow-up to the runaway hit All the Missing Girls, a journalist sets out to find a missing friend, a friend who may never have existed at all.

Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.

Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.

Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?
__


If you've read any of my reviews before, you already know that unreliable narrators make my heart pitter patter. Mostly because they keep me anxious. Haha! So with that in mind, it means a fair bit when I say that Leah Stevens is the greatest unreliable narrator I've ever read. No question. No debate. She is the best. And the combination of her true unreliableness with mysteries in her past and present, is what cranked this book to eleven. It was a risky move, because either element could've fallen flat, but it paid off. Big time.




With other unreliable narrators, their dishonestly often rises to the surface early on, which is what I thought happened with Leah. Even in the jacket description, she's a "failed journalist" who has a restraining order against her. Obviously, she's no angel, because somebody felt threatened by her. So in the beginning, I questioned her degree of truthfulness. But soon, I began to believe Leah had done the right thing at her newspaper and then things got ridiculously interesting. Because quickly after I started to believe her, a bias was revealed that warped Leah's motivations like a funhouse mirror, which had me reevaluating her perspective again! Bouncing between certainty and suspicion made me feel like a pinball in the best possible way.

Ping - Oh wow, Leah's had a hard life. She's a survivor and a gal I'd want in my corner, for sure.

Ping - Wait. Is she maybe a bit off? Cause I don't think she's interpreting that situation in a manner that makes any sense.

Ping - No way. Leah's fierce, persistent, and people misunderstand her because she keeps her guard up. She's a truth-teller, whether others want to hear it or not.

Ping - Cancel that. Leah's legit batshit crazy and it's glorious. 

Ping - OMG she is totally not crazy how could I ever have doubted her WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING?!

Repeat that cycle four times and that's basically how my reading of THE PERFECT STRANGER went. There were a lot of moving parts in the plot and seeing the story unfold through Leah's eyes meant I could never be sure if I was getting closer to the truth (which happened sometimes), or taking a short cut that would prove to be a dead-end (which happened just as often). It was amazing.




So if you're a fan of unreliable narrators, a plot with more layers than a wedding cake, and a steady, tension-filled pace, THE PERFECT STRANGER must find its way onto your TBR. Close to the top. Like, make it your next read. Trust me. Or don't trust me? Am I unreliable? Haha!! You know I wouldn't mislead you. So buy it. Buy it now!


Big thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for including me on this blog tour, and for hooking me up with an ARC!



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For this mani, I used:

ORLY - Charged Up

OPI - Fearlessly Alice, Need Sunglasses?, Towel Me About It, Alpine Snow, and matte topcoat

Fingerpaints - Black Expressionism

China Glaze - Under the Boardwalk, Man Hunt, I Got A Blue Attitude, Plur-ple, and Good Tid-ings

Trimmed striping brush and Mitty Daisy 1.0









4.5.17

book review and cover mani: her every fear

Clutch your pearls to your throats, people, because I have a bananapants thriller to tell you about. In order to properly convey my love, this review will have GIFs. First, because it's the sort of book review where I can't talk about specifics, but more importantly, because I loved HER EVERY FEAR so much that words alone won't suffice.


*launches white and blue glitter cannon because colour coordination is important*






The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Growing up, Kate Priddy was always a bit neurotic, experiencing momentary bouts of anxiety that exploded into full-blown panic attacks after an ex-boyfriend kidnapped her and nearly ended her life. When Corbin Dell, a distant cousin in Boston, suggests the two temporarily swap apartments, Kate, an art student in London, agrees, hoping that time away in a new place will help her overcome the recent wreckage of her life.

Soon after her arrival at Corbin’s grand apartment on Beacon Hill, Kate makes a shocking discovery: his next-door neighbor, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. When the police question her about Corbin, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own—curiosity that intensifies when she meets Alan Cherney, a handsome, quiet tenant who lives across the courtyard, in the apartment facing Audrey’s. Alan saw Corbin surreptitiously come and go from Audrey’s place, yet he’s denied knowing her. Then, Kate runs into a tearful man claiming to be the dead woman’s old boyfriend, who insists Corbin did the deed the night that he left for London.

When she reaches out to her cousin, he proclaims his innocence and calms her nerves--until she comes across disturbing objects hidden in the apartment and accidentally learns that Corbin is not where he says he is. Could Corbin be a killer? What about Alan? Kate finds herself drawn to this appealing man who seems so sincere, yet she isn’t sure. Jet-lagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination full of dark images caused by the terror of her past, Kate can barely trust herself, so how could she take the chance on a stranger she’s just met?

___

So, yeah. I'm going to start by throwing down a fact: Peter Swanson is basically the Roger Federer of misdirection. Every time I thought things were going right, they veered left...and then flipped backwards and upside down. I swear it only took five chapters for my face to do this: 


http://realitytvgifs.tumblr.com/post/150496838497


Which quickly lead to this:

http://realitytvgifs.tumblr.com/post/93412050257


And then...this:

http://realitytvgifs.tumblr.com/post/135711005705

Like, I literally paused and said, "whoa." Aloud. To myself. At about the halfway mark, I started planning out my mani, because unless the book spontaneously combusted, along with every other copy in existence, meaning I would be forever bitter from not finding out how it ended, I'd give it five stars. That rarely happens. Also rare? I actually painted this mani twice, because the first time, I wasn't satisfied with my linework. Yes, I loved this book so much that I wanted my tribute to be as good as it could be. I have never done two manis before (because they take forever). That alone should tell you how good HER EVERY FEAR is. Like, do you even need to keep reading this review? 😉


The second mani (because no way I'm showing you the first).
Cover design by William Ruoto.


There are many novels nowadays that straddle literary and commercial, and I think HER EVERY FEAR is a great example, although it's more like 60/40 on the literary side. Err...maybe 70/30. No. Let's go with 65/35. Haha!

I want to address that because in the interests of keeping it real, I wasn't too keen on the first chapter. There was something slightly condescending about the tone that irked me (which I sometimes find with more literary novels). I ended up putting the book down, in favour for another, but it stayed on my nightstand. I picked it back up about a month later, willing to give it another chance...and proceeded to stay up an extra hour to read. Once I got into it, the voice softened (but remained quite sharp) and my face began its journey of escalating expressions of shock. So if you're not quite sure about the first chapter, trust me. You need to keep reading.




In conclusion, it should come as no surprise that HER EVERY FEAR is getting a must read stamp from me. The book got better and better, each character was completely unpredictable, and my head is still spinning from all the craziness. Just buy it, people. Buy it now!



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For this mani, I used:

Fingerpaints - Paper Mache and Black Expressionism

OPI - It's A Boy!

Julep - Janae and Erin

China Glaze - Wait 'N Sea and Boho Blues

Mitty Daisy 1.0 and trimmed striping brush.