review and cover mani: the cruel prince

I've been eagerly awaiting THE CRUEL PRINCE's release and when my OwlCrate arrived, I literally squealed with delight (as my husband can attest). Due to my love for Holly Black, I reserved an entire Saturday to read. Jk. I planned to only read three chapters with breakfast and then do a bunch of adulting...but suddenly it was the middle of the afternoon because OMG AMAZING and how did I think I could only read three chapters?! So let's get started, shall we?

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.


If you've read any of Holly Black's work, you're already aware of her ability to throw down. Like, when Black writes a novel, she writes a novel. Strong, well-developed characters, a plot that won't quit, escalating tension, and too many omg moments to count are trademarks I've come to expect. All were in attendance for THE CRUEL PRINCE, only by "in attendance," I mean hopped up on pixie sticks and mayhem. I ripped through each chapter like it was the last one I'd ever read, immersed in Jude's narrative. 

Throne art © 2018 by Toby & Pete | Crown art © Shutterstock/Rost9
Photo-illustration by Sammy Yuen | Jacket design by Karina Granda
Jacket © 2018 Hachette Book Group, Inc.

I honestly don't even know what to say because what I really want to do is tell you each and every detail, but that would make this review spoiler-central and also 370 pages long, as there wasn't one wasted moment--no chapters or character arcs that I could to summarize briefly. In fact, I'd be floored if a full synopsis of this treasure even exists. So. Much. Happens. For. Real. 

And Jude. OH HOW I LOVE JUDE. A churning ball of determination, Jude refused to take no for an answer. In that way, she reminded me of my all-time favourite heroine, Anne Shirley, except for Jude's proficiency with a sword and living in Faerie, of course. But that fierce, I'll-show-you attitude and the ability to put on blinders meant that once Jude decided on an action, she never quit, and I will follow any character who convinces me they'll sacrifice everything for what they feel is right (and then stress-eat while reading about the plethora of said sacrifices).   

I'm obsessed with this gold inlay detailing and had to paint it. I mean, can this book get any more awesome?! NOPE.

So look, just read THE CRUEL PRINCE. Read it and bask in the divine, gruesome nature of fey royalty and the humans who get entangled in the drama. The roller coaster of insanity is so bananas that I want to crawl through the screen right now, stare deep into your eyes, and then scream at you to buy this book (only nicely and I'll probably bring cookies or a square of some sort). But that's still fairly creepy so don't make me Ring you, folks. You know I'll do it. ;)

While the cover I painted is an OwlCrate exclusive, the links here are for the standard cover.  

Also, I'd like to note that this is my 100th cover mani!! I can't believe I've painted so many!! To celebrate, I'll be doing a MAJOR giveaway on Instagram, so make sure you follow me! I'll be announcing the details soon!


For this mani, I used:

China Glaze - Dawn of a New Reign

OPI - Rollin' In Cashmere, You Don't Know Jacques and matte topcoat

FingerPaints - Black Expressionism and Paper Mâché

Julep - Anna

So Nailicious Brushes - needle, warrior, and slayer

triangular makeup sponge for gradient

small dotting tool


review and cover mani: in a cottage in a wood

I’m always down for a creepy read. Err…as long as it doesn’t involve dolls because I’m already scared of them enough. *shudders* On a recent trip to the bookstore, the novel I had in mind wasn’t in stock and because leaving a bookstore empty handed isn’t a thing I’m physically capable of doing, I checked out the new releases wall. IN A COTTAGE IN A WOOD immediately stood out because I’d seen this ominous-looking cover around bookstagram, and then it promptly came home with me because I love a good psychological thriller.

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

A strange encounter
Neve comes across a troubled woman called Isabelle on Waterloo Bridge late one night. Isabelle forces a parcel into Neve’s hands and jumps to her death in the icy Thames below.

An unexpected gift
Two weeks later, as Neve’s wreck of a life in London collapses, an unexpected lifeline falls into her lap – a charming cottage in Cornwall left to her by Isabelle, the woman on the bridge. The solution to all her problems.

A Twisted secret
But when Neve arrives, alone in the dark woods late one night, she finds a sinister-looking bungalow with bars across its windows. And her dream home quickly becomes her worst nightmare – a house hiding a twisted secret that will change her life forever…


I read IN A COTTAGE IN A WOOD in one sitting and was totally freaked out for about seventy percent. Right out of the gate, the plot got rolling and maintained a steady pulse throughout Neve’s journey to a country cottage she hoped would change her life for the better. Neve’s shining optimism made me feel immediate sympathy for her because unlike me, Neve wasn’t privy to the spooky cover of the book she stars in, which is all sorts of “uh oh, this is going to be intense.” So while she waxed poetic about how amazing living in the country would be, I shook my head and anxiously waited for her to catch up…and by catch up I actually mean begin her terror-fest.

Yay? (Hahaha! I’m the worst.)

Cover design ©️ HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 2017
Cover photographs ©️ Mark Owen/Trevillion Images (main image); 
Shutterstock.com (trees)

The setup for Neve’s arrival worked brilliantly, because by the time she laid eyes on her polar-opposite-of-welcoming home, I cared deeply about her. As such, my nerves fired alongside hers when she began to realize her mistake and quickly regret all of her life choices. (Been there, Neve. Only without the murdery-vibes residence so you win.) With the relatable life situation of a plan falling through and hesitant uncertainty regarding the next move to make, Neve felt familiar. It also helped that I imagined a lot of parallels between how I’d react to certain eerie events and how Neve reacted. One of the joys of reading a book in a single pass is the degree of immersion I can achieve, completely losing myself in the story, and that totally describes my reading experience of IN A COTTAGE IN A WOOD because I really put myself in Neve’s shoes and the plot was b-a-n-a-n-a-s. But I can’t talk about the plot any more than I have already so that’s all you get. 😶

If you love a tightly-written novel that makes you wonder if there are paranormal elements at work, a dangerous stalker, or if it’s all in a character’s head, IN A COTTAGE IN A WOOD is the book for you!! If you can swing it, I highly recommend penciling in a day to read it cover to cover. But before you get started, lock all of your doors and turn on some lights because for real, it’s creepy and if you live in a wooded area like myself, there’s a significant chance you’ll be too freaked out to check if your house is secure once you dig in. Preparation is the name of the game, friends! 


For this mani, I used:

China Glaze – Street Style Princess, Activewear Don’t Care, At Your Athleisure, Just A Little Embellishment, and Immortal

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mâché

Julep – Fiore and Dawn

OPI – You Don’t Know Jacques

Glisten and Glow – topcoat

So Nailicious – needle and slayer brushes

Mitty Burns – minty 0 brush

Triangular makeup sponge for gradient


review and cover mani: how to stop time

HOW TO STOP TIME is the tale of Tom Hazard, a man who ages at a much slower pace than the average person. Haig's beautiful writing had my heart hurting for Tom pretty early on, with an extra one-two-punch that left me burning through pages (but not the sort of one-two punch you’d think, because I’m anti-spoiler and would never do that to you). In short, this novel was another “Matt Haig” experience, because reading his work always be an emotional workout.

The book description, from Goodreads:

"The first rule is that you don't fall in love, ' he said... 'There are other rules too, but that is the main one. No falling in love. No staying in love. No daydreaming of love. If you stick to this you will just about be okay.'" 

A love story across the ages - and for the ages - about a man lost in time, the woman who could save him, and the lifetimes it can take to learn how to live

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he's been alive for centuries. Tom has lived history--performing with Shakespeare, exploring the high seas with Captain Cook, and sharing cocktails with Fitzgerald. Now, he just wants an ordinary life.

So Tom moves back to London, his old home, to become a high school history teacher--the perfect job for someone who has witnessed the city's history first hand. Better yet, a captivating French teacher at his school seems fascinated by him. But the Albatross Society, the secretive group which protects people like Tom, has one rule: never fall in love. As painful memories of his past and the erratic behavior of the Society's watchful leader threaten to derail his new life and romance, the one thing he can't have just happens to be the one thing that might save him. Tom will have to decide once and for all whether to remain stuck in the past, or finally begin living in the present.

How to Stop Time is a bighearted, wildly original novel about losing and finding yourself, the inevitability of change, and how with enough time to learn, we just might find happiness.


Tom Hazard is a character who's experienced history first-hand. Through wars, plagues, booms and busts, he'd adapted in order to survive, but the result was a fairly lonely life, as I’d imagine it would be when everybody you know has passed away. Well, pretty much everybody, aside from the members of the Albatross Society, although like most secret societies, it’s not all group hugs and holiday bbqs. *cues ominous tones*

Jacket design by Jim Tierney

The story offered a balance of present and past, including scenes with well-known historical figures and good gravy, were they amazing. History (albeit fictional) through fresh eyes and suddenly, I was wholly interested in Shakespeare and Captain Cook. I think it’s because according to Tom, these figures were actual people, not the two-dimensional folks we learned about in textbooks. I won’t name drop Tom’s one-degree of separation in regards to some of the more recognizable influencers, as they were the hidden truffles in an otherwise packed box of literary chocolates, but rest assured Tom's past is packed with goodies.

That’s what you get in HOW TO STOP TIME, an introspective look at Tom’s past and how it has shaped his present circumstance. Through it all, Tom’s melancholy tone put a cautiously optimistic pit in my stomach as I rooted for him to reclaim his life. Only Matt Haig could create such a seamless fusion of fiction and what it means to be human. Similar to when I finished THE HUMANS, HOW TO STOP TIME left me with much to think about and I frickin’ love when a novel inspires a bout of personal contemplation.

An easy five-star read for me, HOW TO STOP TIME is the perfect book for a thoughtful and compassionate individual, and while there’s a slight time-travel element, it’s not one traditional. You may cry, but it’ll be cathartic, so make sure you have some tissues on hand and above all else, prepare yourself to be whisked away for approximately three hundred pages because it’s the sort of novel you’ll want to read all at once.

Thanks to HarperCollins Canada for a finished copy!


For this mani, I used:

China Glaze – Wait N Sea and Baroque Jungle

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mâché

OPI – Rollin In Cashmere, Need Sunglasses, and matte topcoat

So Nailicious needle and slayer brushes

Triangular makeup sponge for gradient


As an extra bonus, check out some pictures from Timepiece, a wonderful clock store in Cookstown, ON, where I was generously allowed to take a bookstagram with stunning vintage watches!! Thanks again, Bogdan!! Your shop is extraordinary!


review and cover mani: iron gold

I’m a major fan of the Red Rising series. The first three blew my mind and I've been counting down the days until I could get my paws on IRON GOLD, the fourth book, and the beginning of a new trilogy, ten years after MORNING STAR. Friends, this adventure did not disappoint, and while it’s a challenge to write a review for a series installment without revealing spoilers, I’m going to do my very best because the last thing I want to do is ruin the Red Rising awesomeness.

The back jacket description, from Goodreads:

They call him father, liberator, warlord, Reaper. But he feels a boy as he falls toward the pale blue planet, his armor red, his army vast, his heart heavy. It is the tenth year of war and the thirty-second of his life.

A decade ago, Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk everything he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?

And throughout the worlds, other destinies entwine with Darrow’s to change his fate forever: 

A young Red girl flees tragedy in her refugee camp and achieves for herself a new life she could never have imagined.

An ex-soldier broken by grief is forced to steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy—or pay with his life.

And Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile to the sovereign, wanders the stars with his mentor, Cassius, haunted by the loss of the world that Darrow transformed, and dreaming of what will rise from its ashes.

Science fiction world building can be an insurmountable task, even more so when it includes an entire solar system brimming with technology, regulated caste systems, and politics. That sort of challenge means an author’s game must be on point or it’ll quickly descend into hot-mess chaos. Obviously, as I’m on book four, that isn’t even remotely the case with Pierce Brown. Not only are the world elements sublimely assembled into a manner that seems foreign yet also familiar, but the character arcs lift the story to epic levels.

Jacket design and illustration: Faceout Studio/Spencer Fuller

Because for real, these characters feel like real people. Each person, regardless of where they come from, has thoughts and dreams. They love and hate with equal fierceness, bound by loyalty and a desire to protect those they hold dear. Conflicting perspectives on what that protection entails—what characters are willing to sacrifice in order to move forward in their cause—maintains tension throughout each novel, like one of those spinning funnels that quarters race around, spinning tighter and tighter until they drop. But when that quarter does drop, you’d better believe that Brown’s got three more itching to begin their descent because the moment one plotline “ends” (I put that in quotes because rarely is there an actual end) a new one appears—hydras of problems that require adaptability and diligence to overcome.

Along with some fan favourites (the ones that survived, anyway), IRON GOLD introduces three more characters who have just as much at stake in the aftermath of the first three novels. The in-depth, first-person narration has these characters taking shape immediately, and now that I've finished IRON GOLD, they feel just as familiar as older friends. There's a new battle on the horizon that threatens each of them, and seeing the development from different sets of coloured eyes has drawn me even deeper into Brown's world. OMG to the extreme, folks!!

With IRON GOLD, Brown has managed to raise the bar yet again, which is why I'm committed to the Red Rising series for the long haul and will continue to pre-order his books from now until forever. I experience the entire spectrum of human emotions while reading this saga, and when the last page ends, a ravenous appetite for the next instalment comes swift and fierce, so do yourself a favour and pick up this series. With four books already released, they’ll keep you busy for a while and then you can spend the time waiting for number five by creating a faux fur accent piece to wear proudly (which will make sense once you read the first).

Put your paws up, Howlers!!


For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Paper Mâché and Black Expressionism

OPI – A Good Man-Darin is Hard to Find and In My Back Pocket

China Glaze – Accent Piece

Julep – Dawn

So Nailicious needle brush

Hairspray and water for feather flames