28.9.17

review and cover mani: the blackbird season

THE BLACKBIRD SEASON is the second book I’ve read by Kate Moretti and my expectations were pretty high because I loved THE VANISHING YEAR. More character driven than TVY, it took me a minute to fall into TBS, but once it got going, I raced to the finish. Also, I’ve been dying to paint the cover ever since I saw it, so let’s get started with the review!





The back jacket, from Goodreads:


Known for novels featuring “great pacing and true surprises” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) and “nerve-shattering suspense” (Heather Gudenkauf, New York Time bestselling author), New York Times bestselling author Kate Moretti’s latest is the story of a scandal-torn Pennsylvania town and the aftermath of a troubled girl gone missing.

“Where did they come from? Why did they fall? The question would be asked a thousand times…

Until, of course, more important question arose, at which time everyone promptly forgot that a thousand birds fell on the town of Mount Oanoke at all.”

In a quiet Pennsylvania town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school baseball field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community.

Beloved baseball coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alicia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the many reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a wayward student, Lucia Hamm, in front of a sleazy motel. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are engaged in an affair, throwing the town into an uproar…and leaving Alicia to wonder if her husband has a second life.

And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police only to have one suspect: Nate.

Nate’s coworker and sole supporter, Bridget Harris, Lucia’s creative writing teacher, is determined to prove his innocence. She has Lucia’s class journal, and while some of the entries appear particularly damning to Nate’s case, others just don’t add up. Bridget knows the key to Nate’s exoneration and the truth of Lucia’s disappearance lie within the walls of the school and in the pages of that journal.

Told from the alternating points of view of Alicia, Nate, Lucia, and Bridget, The Blackbird Season is a haunting, psychologically nuanced suspense, filled with Kate Moretti’s signature “chillingly satisfying” (Publishers Weekly) twists and turns. 

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It’s not often that I read a true ensemble mystery where there isn’t a primary character. THE BLACKBIRD SEASON has four narrators and together, they tell the story of Lucia, a missing student. The multiple points of view worked very well at keeping me on my toes because in my opinion, only one narrator appeared to be somewhat reliable, which meant that I questioned each piece of information that was presented. For me, that’s where the twists came from, and the complicated execution was pretty extraordinary. Like, Moretti must've had an entire wall covered in post-its in order to make sure characters didn’t inadvertently reveal too much at one time. It did make for a slow burn, because I got to know each character intimately, but the backstory was necessary for the second half’s rollercoaster ride. Moretti went deep with these characters, folks, which made the resolution all the more exciting.


Cover design by Emma A. Van Deun
Cover photograph by PlainPicture/Kniel Synnatzchke


My favourite narrator was definitely Lucia because her teenage-angst tone was totally on-point. Ultimately, I had a lot of compassion for her, which I think was by design. Including journal entries made her chapters almost uncomfortably personal and cryptic, like a carrot on a stick kind of deal. Was she the “reliable” narrator though? As if I’ll tell you! Haha! You’ll have to read THE BLACKBIRD SEASON in order to find out. But even if you suspect you wouldn't connect strongly with Lucia, there are three other narrators in play and like I said earlier, each one is rich, layered, and oh so dysfunctional. (Yay! Haha!) 




So if you like to see your stories unfold from a 360 degree view, never quite knowing where things will lead and who to trust, you need to read THE BLACKBIRD SEASON. And lucky you, it came out this week and is available wherever books are sold! Yay!


Big thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for hooking me up with an ARC!



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For this mani, I used:

China Glaze – Boho Blues and Plur-ple,

Julep – Gayle and Beverly,

ORLY – Charged Up

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism

Mitty Burns – Minty 0, Peachy 000, and Clean Pro Flat nail art brushes

Triangular makeup sponge



22.9.17

review and cover mani: the trick

I was a little hesitant to request THE TRICK because it takes place during WWII (a hard time for me to read about) but the premise still piqued my interest and I thought it would count as a serious sort of read. You know, the kind of book that would make me feel smarter afterwards. Ultimately, I was surprised by this historical novel because although the subject matter included somber topics, there were unexpected pops of humour (which I guess makes sense considering it's called "THE TRICK" Haha!). Let me explain.



*stares at cover with heart-eyes*




The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Sweeping between Prague during World War II and modern day Los Angeles, this deeply moving debut follows a young Jewish man in 1934 who falls in love and joins the circus as the country descends into war. Decades later, a young boy seeks out the now cynical, elderly magician in the hopes that his spells might keep his family together.

Prague, 1934: The fifteen-year-old rabbi's son Moshe Goldenhirsch marvels at the legendary circus magician known as the Half-Moon Man. Unexpectedly, he falls madly in love with the magician's delightful assistant, spurring him to run away from home to join the circus, which is slowly making its way to Germany as war looms on the horizon. Soon, he becomes a world-renowned magician known as the Great Zabbatini, even sought after by Adolf Hitler. But when Moshe is discovered to be a Jew, only his special talent can save him from perishing in a concentration camp.

Los Angeles, 2007: Ten-year-old Max Cohn is convinced that magic can bring his estranged parents back together before they divorce. So one night he climbs out of his bedroom window in search of the Great Zabbatini, certain this powerful magician has the power to reunite his family. 

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I’ve always been fascinated by magic, because having my mind blown is an awesome sensation. In fact, I'm at my happiest when I'm unable to even hypothesize how my exact card made it to the top of the deck while I thought I was still holding it. I suppose it’s because I want to believe in magic, that the unfathomable can appear before my eyes with no logical explanation and fill my heart with wonder. And it turns out that’s exactly what I had in common with Max. Oh how my heart sang and sank for Max! It’s Max’s desire to search out the Great Zabbatini in order to make his parents fall back in love that gets the ball rolling, and isn’t it nice when a plot starts out in such an innocent way? *insert heartwarming feels*


Jacket Design by Donna Cheng
Jacket Photograph © Cyndi Monaghan/Getty Images (Front)


As much as I liked Max, Moshe Goldenhirsch aka The Great Zabbatini was the more interesting character. No surprise since he’d lived a long life by the time Max meets him, and the majority of THE TRICK was Zabbatini’s story. And what a story it was! Moshe certainly had adventures when he ran away with the circus, transforming himself into a famous magician and then ultimately immigrating to the United States. Naturally, I won't share any details with you but suffice it to say, there was never a dull moment.




Along with two fabulous main characters, THE TRICK has a lot going for it, like thoughtful scenic descriptions and escalating stakes, but my favourite part was the voice. Holy moly the voice!! Similar to THE 100-YEAR-OLD MAN WHO CLIMBED OUT THE WINDOW AND DISAPPEARED, there’s a charming and quirky tone. The clever wittiness added a whimsical note to what could have been a devastating story and I found myself giggling pretty regularly. I mean, parts were still pretty heavy—Moshe is a Jew during WWII after all—but the overall story left me feeling uplifted. In short, Bergmann's prose was astounding and I feel the need to give him a standing ovation (from "The Voice" because I'm nerdy like that). 


http://realitytvgifs.tumblr.com/post/115914390362


So if you’re a fan of historical fiction, whimsical writing, and the power of magic, THE TRICK is the novel for you! It's available in stores now, gleaming from shelves with its stunning light teal and gold cover, which means you should splurge on a hard copy. Because for real, the jacket will add some class to your bookcase. 


Thanks so much to Simon & Schuster Canada for a review copy!



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For this mani, I used:

Julep – Ali, Roc Solid, and Francis

OPI – Rollin’ in Cashmere, You Don’t Know Jacques, and Samoan Sand

China Glaze - Boho Blues

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism

Glisten and Glow – topcoat


Mitty Burns – Minty 0 and Clean Pro Flat brushes



15.9.17

review and cover mani: the child finder

THE CHILD FINDER is a relatively quiet sort of story; the whisper in a crowded room that inevitably draws all the attention. An extraordinary piece of work—heavy and heartbreaking—Rene Denfeld proved yet again that she stands in a class of her own. So let’s just jump right in, shall we?




The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight years old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as The Child Finder, Naomi is their last hope.

Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl too. 

As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?

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Rene Denfeld’s shining ability is writing with compassion. It’s the undercurrent in her magnificent storytelling, bubbling to the surface at the most perfect times to bring me to my knees. In fact, due to Denfeld’s remarkable talent to break down my barriers and pry open my rusty heart, I needed a couple of weeks after finishing THE CHILD FINDER in order to draft a review without crying.


Designed by Leah Carlson-Stanisic


Challenging preconceived notions is another one of Denfeld’s gifts, so prepare yourself for an in-depth examination of humanity, folks. The grief, the triumph, the sacrifices one is willing to make to survive—it’s all there, nestled in between the gorgeous teal-to-blue-to-green-to-yellow covers. Because I didn’t just hurt and cheer for Naomi. The Culvers, the police, and just about every character mentioned in the book evoked some kind of reaction, each chapter going deeper into the murky waters of omg what else could possibly happen to these people.

But don’t misunderstand because even with my weeping, THE CHILD FINDER was most definitely a thriller. With a tight pace and ominous memories from the past, I remained on the edge of my seat. The second narrator's dreamy POV was just about flawless, while Naomi’s self-sacrifice for the greater good didn’t enter martyr territory (which is basically impossible to do). There is so much more I want to say about the plot of this incredible novel and I’ve drafted paragraph after paragraph but can’t avoid including spoilers, so all I can say is that you’ll be rocked to your core.





In conclusion, I love, love, love, love, love Rene Denfeld and will devour every novel she releases until the end of my days. They aren’t easy reads, but they’re necessary. The adept way Denfeld weaves compassion into the darkest of story lines brings out my own, and then I feel all the feels—the mark of an excellent novel, imho. So what are you waiting for? THE CHILD FINDER is out now, which means you can cancel your weekend plans and read instead. You’re welcome. ;)


Big thanks to HarperCollins Canada for a review copy!

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For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Paper Mâché and Black Expressionism

Julep – Courtney

China Glaze – Highlight of My Summer

OPI – Need Sunglasses?, You Are So Outta Lime!, and matte topcoat

Mitty Burns – Minty 0 and Clean Pro Flat nail art brushes

Triangular makeup sponge