book review and cover mani: company town

COMPANY TOWN is one of the quirkier books I've read in a while. It's more hard-core science fiction that my normal choices and I'm so happy I picked it up. The first few chapters were a challenge for me, because the world building happened quickly, and then I suddenly found myself halfway through and completely in love with Hwa--the greatest bodyguard who has ever existed.

*bangs awesome book gong*

The back jacket:

    Look at one of Go Jung-hwa's clients sideways, expert to end up on the floor with a broken arm and busted nose--if she's feeling merciful. 
    As one of the few people without bioengineered genetic enhancements, Hwa is part of a dying breed in the city-sized oil rig New Arcadia. But she's in peak physical condition and, combined with her speed and cunning, can easily go toe-to-toe with some of the most augmented men in town. After all, she's the best bodyguard employed by the United Sex Workers of Canada.
    When Lynch Ltd., a technological tycoon dynasty, purchases the entire rig, Hwa's talents and lack of any sort of altering attract their attention. They have a fifteen-year-old heir to protect, and Hwa fits the bill--any cyborg meathead can be hacked and rewired, but not her. It's an opportunity of a lifetime, especially for someone who's been living on the fringes of poverty her entire life.
    But when one of her former client's--and friend--dismembered body is found floating in the North Atlantic, Hwa finds her loyalties split between her past and future. And it looks as if the future came to collect in the present...


I cannot believe how much I loved COMPANY TOWN. The writing is razor sharp, political, provocative, and sometimes even playful. I read a few chapters while waiting in a doctor's office and couldn't help laughing out loud at Hwa's perfect responses--the sort of comebacks that I dream of saying. Hwa gives exactly zero fucks and I am here for it. Even as I write about her, my shoulders are bobbing with a chuckle. I rarely share quotes, because I think it can ruin the moment, removed from context, but it's the only way I can show you how on-point the writing is. 

     Silas eyed Hwa up and down. "This is what you're looking for in an assistant? She's epileptic. Or something. I don't know. And her mother is a prostitute. A prostitute who pays union dues, but still a prostitute."
      Behind them, Joel gasped. "Silas!"
     "It's okay," Hwa said. "My mom is a whore."
     "See?" Silas smiled. His teeth were huge and perfect and white. "I was just saying what everybody was thinking."
     "Yeah, having her raise me really introduced me to a lot of assholes," Hwa said. "Professional assholes that pay their taxes and everything, but still assholes."

Cover art by Erik Mohr.

Need some ice for that burn, Silas? Haha!! Mic-dropping dialogue aside, let's circle back to Hwa's career choice of becoming a bodyguard for the United Sex Workers of Canada. Yes, a union of prostitutes who look out for each other. Clients can be blacklisted if they're bad news and if anyone gets out of line, they get a punch to the throat. Love, love, love. And I haven't even gotten to the plot yet: the mystery behind Hwa's friend's death. In between being a badass and teaching others self-defence, Hwa investigates a grisly murder. Her detective work uncovers far more than she'd intended to find, and each revelation ups the stakes.

Also, the entire book takes place on a city-sized oil rig, in futuristic New Arcadia, Newfoundland. I mean...I can't, guys. I CANNOT. It's too good! Hwa speaks just like my wonderful friends from the Rock, dropping b'ys left and right, and it's the greatest ever.

I haven't read any of the other four finalists in CBC's Canada Reads 2017 but I don't care. THIS IS THE WINNER. The ending wasn't quite what I'd expected, which was a bit of a bummer, but the book is otherwise awesome. I'll be reading Madeline Ashby's series about killer robots (vN and iD) asap and I'm beyond psyched to have found another fantastic Canadian author. Go Canada!! So in closing, if you're into science fiction and strong female protagonists, COMPANY TOWN is definitely the book for you! 

For this mani, I used:

OPI - Towel Me About It, Alpine Snow, You Don't Know Jacques, CIA = Color Is Awesome, matte topcoat, and nail polish thinner

Fingerpaints - Black Expressionism

Julep - Abbie

trimmed striping brush, piCture pOlish nail art brush no. 10, triangular makeup sponge


book review with cover mani: the hate u give

I’ve had a very hard time writing a review for THE HATE U GIVE. It wasn't an easy read. Sobering, in fact--the kind of book that I wish I could give more than five stars. Because this is an important novel. One that is timely, powerful, and a hundred percent necessary. The reason that fiction exists, I'd even argue. The perspective is like no other and the writing resonates in a deeply moving way.  It punched me in the heart for all 464 pages. I've never been so grateful. I needed to have my eyes opened. 


The synopsis, from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, Khalil’s death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Starr’s best friend at school suggests he may have had it coming. When it becomes clear the police have little interest in investigating the incident, protesters take to the streets and Starr’s neighborhood becomes a war zone. What everyone wants to know is: What really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could destroy her community. It could also endanger her life.


As I've already said, I've gone through many versions of my review, and none of them articulated the impact THE HATE U GIVE had on me. It’s probably because I was rendered speechless as tears soaked my shirt and, to be honest, I haven’t quite recovered. Nor should I, frankly. 

But I want to keep spreading the word, so instead of spending another day (week? month?) staring at the screen, I’ve decided to just list words that describe THE HATE U GIVE.

Thanks to HCC Frenzy for this super cool button. 

Here we go. Words that describe THE HATE U GIVE:








Harry Potter awesomeness.



Required reading.




Filled with love.


Pulls no punches.

Not actually fiction.*

*Obviously, this is fiction, but also, it isn’t.

So in sum...

Must read.

Right now.

Do it.

Also, I'll read everything Angie Thomas ever writes, from now until forever.


For this mani, I used:

Fingerpaints - Black Expressionism and Paper Mache 

OPI - You Don't Know Jacques, Big Apple Red, It's A Boy, and Matte Topcoat

China Glaze - Intelligence Integrity & Courage

Julep - Faye and Fiore

Glisten and Glow - HK Girl Topcoat

Black acrylic paint for letters

trimmed striping brush


book review with cover mani: burying the honeysuckle girls

Last Monday, we had a holiday for Family Day. I suppose that means you're supposed to spend time with your family but I spent it reading--an entire glorious day of flipping pages. Whoops? Haha! It's such a treat when I can read a book from cover to cover (err...screen to screen because it was an ebook?) and I picked a good one because once I finished the first chapter of BURYING THE HONEYSUCKLE GIRLS, I was all in.

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Althea Bell is still heartbroken by her mother’s tragic, premature death—and tormented by the last, frantic words she whispered into young Althea’s ear: Wait for her. For the honeysuckle girl. She’ll find you, I think, but if she doesn’t, you find her.

Adrift ever since, Althea is now fresh out of rehab and returning to her family home in Mobile, Alabama, determined to reconnect with her estranged, ailing father. While Althea doesn’t expect him, or her politically ambitious brother, to welcome her with open arms, she’s not prepared for the chilling revelation of a grim, long-buried family secret. Fragile and desperate, Althea escapes with an old flame to uncover the truth about her lineage. Drawn deeper into her ancestors’ lives, Althea begins to unearth their disturbing history…and the part she’s meant to play in it.

Gripping and visceral, this unforgettable debut delves straight into the heart of dark family secrets and into one woman’s emotional journey to save herself from a sinister inheritance.

Let's get one thing straight. This book was awesome.

Althea = awesome.

Plot = awesome.

Setting = awesome.

Your face = awesome. (Okay, this one isn't book related but sometimes you just need a reminder from others, about how awesome you are.)

On the very first page of BURYING THE HONEYSUCKLE GIRLS, Althea swears, and I remember thinking: Oh yeah. I'm going to like this gal. Then it took about four more chapters for my like to turn into love. BURYING THE HONEYSUCKLE GIRLS has many strong elements, but for me, it really came down to Althea. I'm all about a story of redemption and I'll cheer for the underdog. Being a recovering addict in a political family doesn't get much more underdog-ish but Althea rarely felt sorry for herself, which is one of the main reasons I dug her so hard. Props to Emily Carpenter because it's a serious challenge to write a confident yet vulnerable character and Althea walked that line like a badass acrobat. Also, she was kinda funny, in that wry way that made me want to be her best friend. 

Along with Althea, I loved the rich, lush scenery--scenery described in such detail that it took on a life of its own. At times, it felt downright magical. And then there was the actual magic, although I could never be sure how real it was. My curiosity added to the plot's tension, and whether real or not, I drank up the lingering questions of mystical influences like Jinn's Juice. The historical elements worked extraordinarily well, and they reminded me a lot of Kelley Armstrong (who is one of my favourite authors ever). There are decades' worth of family secrets in this book, going back three generations, which layered the gritty plot. So if you like your mysteries served with sides of ambiance, magical realism, and southern historical, you need to read BURYING THE HONEYSUCKLE GIRLS! 


For this mani, I used:

OPI - Alpine Snow, You Don't Know Jacques, Towel Me About It, and Stay Off The Lawn!

China Glaze - Intelligence Integrity & Courage and Def Defying

Julep - Francis, Payton, and Sam

piCture pOlish nail art brush no. 9