review and cover mani: #NotYourPrincess

I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed an anthology before, but when Annick Press reached out to tell me about #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women, I knew I had to read it. A collection of over fifty Indigenous artists are featured and their poetry, prose, artwork, and interviews show what it’s like to be an Indigenous woman in today’s society. And OMG is it ever an astounding compellation of work. 

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Whether looking back to a troubled past or welcoming a hopeful future, the powerful voices of Indigenous women across North America resound in this book. In the same style as the best-selling Dreaming in Indian#NotYourPrincess presents an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art that combine to express the experience of being a Native woman. Stories of abuse, humiliation, and stereotyping are countered by the voices of passionate women making themselves heard and demanding change. Sometimes angry, often reflective, but always strong, the women in this book will give teen readers insight into the lives of women who, for so long, have been virtually invisible.


There’s a really fresh and vibrant tone to #NotYourPrincess, and not just because of the full-colour pages. Unapologetic truth is front and centre in the artists’ creations. When I first began reading, I mistakenly assumed that I’d finish the book in one sitting, but I couldn’t. The vulnerability affected me in a profound way and I needed time to reflect. This isn’t hyperbole, either. It’s exactly what happened.

Cover photography by Tenille Campbell of Sweetmoon Photography. 
Shooting by Darian Lonechild.

The overall message of #NotYourPrincess is diversity; that Indigenous women are far more than the negative "stereotypes" we're all aware of. Some of my favourite pieces included “Real NDNZ,” which recreated classic Hollywood portraits of movie stars. Hellllllo Shayna Jackson (Dakota/Cree) channeling Audrey Hepburn! The spectrum of female professional careers displayed was also awesome. Because of course Native American women are doctors, lawyers, and athletes, and it's so important for teens to see these strong messages because we all know they aren't the usual fare. It really is time to ditch those harmful and pervasive images that flood mainstream media—heck, it’s actually long overdue—and #NotYourPrincess delivers them in an accessible way. The collection certainly includes and respects the pain that Indigenous women have felt (and continue to feel), and I love that it ends with a hopeful, empowering note. 

That brings me to a piece of tangible change that non-Indigenous women (and men) can do right now. Halloween is around the corner, which means that costume choices are a hot topic of discussion. In Jessica Deer's piece (Mohawk), she discusses the harmful impact of “highly inaccurate and dehumanizing representations of Indigenous peoples in sports, on television, on the runway, or in costumes on the shelves of a Halloween store" because those representations "shape much of what people know and think about us.” This is a statement that needs to be repeated and heard, because those depictions are everywhere, which means it's obvious that we aren't actually listening. Or we are listening and still choose the wrong choice because we don’t think it’s a big deal.

*beckons you closer to make direct eye contact*

Come on, people. Can we please do better? Cultural appropriation in the form of a "Pocahottie" costume is ignorant and damaging. There are about a million other options out there so please choose one of those. This tired BS needs to stop. You want to wear a crown of feathers? Perfect, be a parrot. Don't wear something that will cause harm to another. Also, I'd like to add that this applies to every day. It's literally the least you can do. Decontsructing systemic racism is challenging, frustrating, and will likely take a long time to achieve. But not wearing an offensive costume? That can happen this very second and it's a first step in helping shift the narrative. Change from the ground up, starting now. 

So after you've ditched your terrible costume in favour of something amazing, or if you've already chosen a hate-free ensemble, head on over to your bookstore of choice and pick up #NotYourPrincess. I promise that you'll be moved and inspired.

Big thanks to Annick Press for sending me a review copy!


For this mani, I used:

OPI - Samoan Sand, Lucky Lucky Lavender, A Good Man-Darin Is Hard To Find, Dating A Royal, CIA = Color Is Awesome, You Don't Know Jacques, Malaga Wine, and matte topcoat

Julep - Erin, Janae, and Lizzy

Essie - Satin Sister and Party On A Platform

China Glaze - Wait N Sea

FingerPaints - Black Expressionism and Paper Mâché

Mitty Burns - Candy 00 and Clean Flat Pro nail art brushes

What's Up Nails - Skinny Zig Zag tape


review and cover mani: the nowhere girls

I’m at a loss sometimes with how timing can work. It's a cliché for a reason, I suppose, and one I'll break out here because there must be a larger force at work when it comes to THE NOWHERE GIRLS. I mean, how could Amy Reed have known, years ago, that her incredible novel would be released during a year when the world stood up and actually acknowledged the prevalence of rape culture? Honestly, it’s staggering to me and I’m grateful for a number of reasons. First and foremost, because THE NOWHERE GIRLS is contributing to a dialogue already in progress—a real, honest dialogue about what’s happening. And I believe this novel is from the front lines of the next generation of people who will eventually rise to power. Because while THE NOWHERE GIRLS is technically fiction, it also isn't. 

No. It isn’t fiction at all.

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Three misfits come together to avenge the rape of a fellow classmate and in the process trigger a change in the misogynist culture at their high school transforming the lives of everyone around them in this searing and timely story.

Who are the Nowhere Girls?

They’re everygirl. But they start with just three:

Grace Salter is the new girl in town, whose family was run out of their former community after her southern Baptist preacher mom turned into a radical liberal after falling off a horse and bumping her head.

Rosina Suarez is the queer punk girl in a conservative Mexican immigrant family, who dreams of a life playing music instead of babysitting her gaggle of cousins and waitressing at her uncle’s restaurant.

Erin Delillo is obsessed with two things: marine biology and Star Trek: The Next Generation, but they aren’t enough to distract her from her suspicion that she may in fact be an android.

When Grace learns that Lucy Moynihan, the former occupant of her new home, was run out of town for having accused the popular guys at school of gang rape, she’s incensed that Lucy never had justice. For their own personal reasons, Rosina and Erin feel equally deeply about Lucy’s tragedy, so they form an anonymous group of girls at Prescott High to resist the sexist culture at their school, which includes boycotting sex of any kind with the male students.

Told in alternating perspectives, this groundbreaking novel is an indictment of rape culture and explores with bold honesty the deepest questions about teen girls and sexuality.


Where do I begin? It’s just so good, people. Like, up there with THE HATE U GIVE. Because THE NOWHERE GIRLS isn’t concerned with being non-confrontational. This is the truth without rose colored glasses and I’m here for a novel that has the guts to keep it real. Don't assume this book is a vigilante-style tale because it isn't. THE NOWHERE GIRLS is thoughtful, full of wisdom and collective experiences and ultimately uplifting. A remarkable feat, imho. 

Art direction by Jessica Handleman
Front cover design by Alex Robins. 
Jacket photograph copyright 2017 by Daniël Douglas/creative commons 3.0

Grace, Rosina, and Erin were engaging and grounded characters who didn't appear to have much in common, but each felt like their place was on the outskirts, which made them gravitate towards one another. Each strong point-of-view offered another view of the plot’s progression and with it, how their past affected the present; how they were more than what the world expected of them, and how conflicting it can feel when you’re torn between playing it safe or speaking out. Because it’s really easy to look at a story from the outside and make judgments.

She should’ve reported him. 
If she had reported it, she would've saved other from the same fate. 
But she was out drinking and wore a short skirt.
What did she expect, going to a party?

I could go on and on with those statements, thinly veiled judgments that condemn a survivor for what happened to her. They’ve been around forever, so much so that we’re all conditioned to default to disbelief. It’s such a complicated, mindbendingly frustrating pileup of garbage that women have to deal with, and it starts well before high school. I’m so grateful that this book was brave enough to tackle such a systemic problem without watering it down. The surprise fourth narrator, which appeared intermittently to act as a collective voice, didn't hold punches as it shared snippets from "everygirls." I'd argue that those chapters were the most powerful of all and you'll have to read the book to understand why. 

As much as the prevalence of rape culture in high schools was the driving force of THE NOWHERE GIRLS, it included another powerful message regarding teenage girls and their sexuality. Because yes, folks, teenage sexuality does, in fact, include girls. *cues gasps and clutched pearls* It’s frustratingly ragey that girls are still expected to protect their “purity” (implying they must protect themselves inherently means that they will encounter an attack btw) and then shaming them if they choose to disregard the rules placed on them. The result is that young women don’t get access to information, or attempt to seek it out in places that likely aren't female positive. THE NOWHERE GIRLS presents this curiosity in a truly accessibly way and my hope is it will encourage young women to think of their bodies as their own. Sexuality, included. Nothing shameful here, people. Move right along. 

In sum, if you’re an educator, you need to read THE NOWHERE GIRLS. If you work with teens, you need to read THE NOWHERE GIRLS. If you’re a parent, you need to read THE NOWHERE GIRLS. If you’re a teenager, or have been a teenager, you need to read THE NOWHERE GIRLS. If you’re male, you need to read THE NOWHERE GIRLS. Especially if you’re male, actually. Have I covered everyone? Perfect. Get it, read it, discuss it, and repeat. 

Big thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for sending me an ARC.


For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mâché

Julep – Roc Solid, Dawn, and Gayle

OPI – Red My Fortune Cookie, You Are So Outta Lime, Suzi Has A Swede Tooth, Kiss Me On My Tulips, and Malaga Wine

China Glaze – Trip Of A Lime Time and Intelligence Integrity & Courage

Mitty Burns brushes – Candy 00, Peachy 000, and Clean Pro Flat



review and cover mani: don't let go

I love Harlan Coben's writing. For more years than I care to admit, I've been devouring every release, especially books in the Myron Bolitar series. Recently, Coben's been putting out more standalones and since I've read all of them, I can say with certainty that DON'T LET GO is my favourite. Love, mystery, conspiracies, humour, DON'T LET GO has it all! Woot!

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

With unmatched suspense and emotional insight, Harlan Coben explores the big secrets and little lies that can destroy a relationship, a family, and even a town in this powerful new thriller.

Suburban New Jersey Detective Napoleon “Nap” Dumas hasn't been the same since senior year of high school, when his twin brother Leo and Leo’s girlfriend Diana were found dead on the railroad tracks—and Maura, the girl Nap considered the love of his life, broke up with him and disappeared without explanation. For fifteen years, Nap has been searching, both for Maura and for the real reason behind his brother's death. And now, it looks as though he may finally find what he's been looking for. 

When Maura's fingerprints turn up in the rental car of a suspected murderer, Nap embarks on a quest for answers that only leads to more questions—about the woman he loved, about the childhood friends he thought he knew, about the abandoned military base near where he grew up, and mostly about Leo and Diana—whose deaths are darker and far more sinister than Nap ever dared imagine.


There were a lot of layers in DON'T LET GO, and they were all equally delicious--a hearty slice of literary baklava, if you will. In some ways, Nap reminded me of Myron, because he was a dependable guy with an endearingly dry sense of humour. But Nap certainly differed as well, particularly with his obsession regarding what happened to his twin brother and high school girlfriend. Becoming a police officer as an adult didn't help much, and for a while, Nap basically conceded that he'd never know the details of why his brother was on the railroad tracks and why Maura disappeared. But when Maura's fingerprints are found at a murder scene, things cranked up to a hundred pretty quickly. Yay! 

Jacket design by Jim Tierney and Christopher Lin, 
based on an original design by Anthony Ramondo.

The pacing throughout this thriller was perfection, and Coben's knack for knowing the exact moment to end a chapter forced me to keep flipping pages to see what happened next. The story unfolded as Nap found clues and tracked down leads, and then the pot escalated and I was like: What is even happening this is bananas!! The first pages of the book explained that as a child, Coben knew of two rumours in his hometown. One involved a mysterious house, which was examined in the YA series with Mickey Bolitar, and the other, a military base, worked its way into DON'T LET GO. And that's why everything elevated to insane levels of crazy, because the addition of a conspiracy made the picture much larger than just a couple of kids who were killed.

The supporting characters around Nap were well-rounded and all held mysteries of their own. I just love when authors can weave subplots into their novels, because it means I'm trying to guess what characters are hiding at all times. One of Nap's longtime friends had a career which is close to my heart, and it made me fall even deeper into the story. Coben touched on a lot of relevant social issues, folks, and it was just the best. And then the ending made me all OMGGGGGGG.

So if you love thrillers that don't involve a ton of violence but oh so many mysteries, you need to read DON'T LET GO. I would've flown through it in a day, if adulting hadn't gotten in the way. Because there are a multitude of reasons why Coben's a consistent bestselling author. Nothing is every what it seems and you'll never see the twists coming. You'll also become terribly attached to Nap and his crew so don't start this book unless you have time to really dive in. Learn from my mistakes, folks, and set aside however long you think you'll need, because otherwise you're likely to get cranky when people won't stop piling work on your plate, as your mind will remain tangled up in Nap's determined investigation. And nobody likes a crankypants. ;) 


For this mani, I used:

OPI - In my Back Pocket, A Good Man-darin Is Hard To Find

FingerPaints - Black Expressionism

Julep - Nadine

ORLY - Scandal

Glisten and Glow - Topcoat

Mitty Burns brushes - Candy 00, Peachy 000, and Clean Pro Flat

Triangular makeup sponge for gradient