16.9.19

review and cover mani: the ten thousand doors of january



The back jacket, from Goodreads:

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.

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THE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY was so charming I almost couldn’t stand it. Similar to a hug, this story extended its arms and ushered me into a warm embrace before sitting me down to spin a tale. Although from January’s point of view, there wasn't much charm in her life. Trapped in a gilded cage, January spent most of her time alone. Yes, she traveled in luxury and wore fine dresses, but she had zero autonomy and even fewer friends. Landing somewhere between a ward and a pet of Mr. Locke, January didn’t know where she belonged or what she was capable of. So while I had little in common with January, besides a love of books, I connected with her desire for more—to break out of her restrictive life and learn the truth about her circumstances. Via a strange book, of course. 

*jazz hands*


Jacket design by Lisa Marie Pompilio
Jacket Illustrations by Shutterstock


Once January decided to take her fate into her own hands, the pace picked up considerably and before long, she was off on an adventure. The supporting characters brought humour, protectiveness, and badassery to the stage and her unlikely collection of allies gave January the support she needed. I thought January did rather well taking care of herself, considering her sheltered upbringing, and what she may have lacked in experience, she made up for in bravery. Timidly tenacious at first, I loved watching January come into her own and like most journeys, there were serious lows amongst the highs. One in particular that made me want to throw the book across the room and left me furiously messaging a friend who’d already read it because WHAT THE WHAT NOOOOOOOOOO. 



Somewhat disjointed in the beginning with two stories being told, I encourage you to press through those chapters because afterwards, you’ll be welcomed into an enchanting world. Bewitching to the max, THE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY is a must read and perfect for readers who long to be whisked away to new worlds rife with adventure. ALSO THERE IS THE MATTER OF THE COVER. I mean, come on! It’s beyond stunning and you need it forever placed face-out on your bookshelf.

Big thanks to Orbit Books for an ARC and finished copy!



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For this mani, I used:

China Glaze – Wicked Liquid, Water-falling in Love, Chroma Cool, What’s Up Bittercups, I Got a Blue Attitude, Trip of a Lime Time, Buffalo Bills Bills Bills

OPI – Kiss Me on my Tulips, Mod About You, In My Back Pocket, Need Sunglasses, Rollin’ in Cashmere, matte topcoat

ORLY – Storyteller (colorlab)

Essie – Getting Groovy, Party on a Platform

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism, Paper Mâché

Picture polish – camo

So Nailicious – needle and warrior brushes


9.9.19

review and cover mani: the grace year


The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Survive the year.

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden. 

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive. 

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other. 

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

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THE GRACE YEAR. WOW. 

No, really. WOOOOOOOOOW.

Over the years I’ve reviewed books, I’ve become leery of blurbs and pitches using huge comparative titles to lure in readers. Often times when heavyweight comps are used, I wind up disappointed and wonder if marketing teams/blurbing authors actually read the book. In this case, THE GRACE YEAR was described as a blend of The Handmaid’s Tale and Lord of the Flies and while I rolled my eyes at first, I'm delighted to report THE GRACE YEAR was legit that literary combo, along with so much more. 

Gah. 

I CAN’T HANDLE THE AMAZINGNESS OF THIS BOOK.

*collapses on knees screaming TIERNEYYYYYYYYYYYYY*



Cover designed by Kerri Resnick; Illustration by Hsiao Ron Cheng


Through hypnotic writing, a balance between lyrical and cutting observations, visceral imagery, and feminist AF themes, THE GRACE YEAR examined what it meant to be a young woman in a world that didn’t value them. Well, except when it came to consuming their flesh after being tortured by poachers during the grace year--the greater the pain embedded in the body, the greater the supposed healing properties. Ick. This world, friends. Patriarchy to the extreme, it felt familiar and strange at the same time. A world designed to isolate women, break them down, and turn them against each other to nullify their individual (and collective) power.   

Flush with dynamic characters that behaved in predictable and also surprising ways (yay!), I never knew what the next page would hold, the next scene, or the next chapter. Only there weren’t chapters and instead, a series of breaks, which made the story feel epic because there was no good place to put it down. As such, I flew through pages with such velocity I’m surprised I didn’t rip them. 



The approximate seven million twists and gasp-inducing moments were expertly crafted throughout the book, and I experienced every possible emotion ranging from white-hot anger to joyful agony before crying my entire face off during the last several sections, completely overwhelmed. BECAUSE OMG THOSE FINAL SECTIONS I CAN’T. Absolutely bananapants, blow-my-mind and rip-out-my-heart fantastic, I highly suggest you RUN to your bookstore and library to pre-order and pre-reserve THE GRACE YEAR, which hits shelves on October 8th. Five stars, plus a million stars, for a grand total of one million and five stars.





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For this mani, I used:

China Glaze – Prairie Tale Ending, Athlete Chic, Tropic of Conversation, Fresh Prince-ss, Can’t Sandal This

OPI – A Good Man-darin is Hard to Find, Big Apple Red, matte topcoat

ORLY – Storyteller (colorlab), Makeup to Breakup

FingerPaints – Paper Mache, Black Expressionism

So Nailicious needle and warrior brushes




3.9.19

review and cover mani: the arrangement


The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Natalie, a young art student in New York City, is struggling to pay her bills when a friend makes a suggestion: Why not go online and find a sugar daddy—a wealthy, older man who will pay her for dates, and even give her a monthly allowance? Lots of girls do it, Nat learns. All that’s required is to look pretty and hang on his every word. Sexual favours are optional.

Though more than thirty years her senior, Gabe, a handsome corporate finance attorney, seems like the perfect candidate, and within a month, they are madly in love. At least, Nat is…Gabe already has a family, whom he has no intention of leaving.

So when he abruptly ends things, Nat can’t let go. She begins drinking heavily and stalking him: watching him at work, spying on his wife, even befriending his daughter, who is not much younger than she is. But Gabe’s not about to let his sugar baby destroy his perfect life. What was supposed to be a mutually beneficial arrangement devolves into a nightmare of deception, obsession, and, when a body is found near Gabe’s posh Upper East Side apartment, murder.

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THE ARRANGEMENT featured characters that elicited upfront judgment and I knew straight away that I was in for several hours of wonderfully salacious amusement. Harding jumped in Manolos-first into the fascinating world of sugar babies and daddies to create a perfect environment for catastrophe because the decline of Gabe and Natalie's arrangement couldn’t end in any other way except via a pot of boiled bunnies. And, you know, a murder. 😈


Cover design by Lisa Litwack


Gabe reminded me of the protagonist in MAN OF THE YEAR because he was easy to hate, but in that endorphin-producing way where I couldn’t wait to see how he crumbled. Gabe crafted the pyre of his own demise while blind to his progress, thanks to his unwavering belief that he pulled the strings of those around him. I enjoyed Gabe’s tailspin to the point I started to feel like a bad person, but I suspect it was Harding’s desire because Gabe was absolutely the worst. Grown man tantrums are so amusing to observe and watching the power shift from Gabe to Natalie—a woman he pushed to the edge and then had the gall to call crazy—made for delightfully dark entertainment. Natalie wouldn’t go quietly into the night and while I felt sympathetic to her situation, her unpredictability made her dangerous, which therefore meant I cheered for her so hard that my hands hurt. 




Scandalous subject material and a swift pace, THE ARRANGEMENT was a pleasure to consume in two sittings. The murder mystery component tied the characters together and made for a satisfying end, but for me, the pleasure of this novel lay in Gabe’s descent into madness. Definitely a must read!




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For this mani, I used:

OPI – A Good Man-darin is Hard to Find, In My Back Pocket, Need Sunglasses, matte topcoat

FingerPaints – Paper Mâché and Black Expressionism

China Glaze – Campfired Up and Fur Real Though

So Nailicious – warrior and needles brushes


27.8.19

review and cover mani: the swallows


The back jacket, from Goodreads:

A new teacher at a New England prep school ignites a gender war--with deadly consequences--in a provocative novel from the bestselling author of The Passenger and the Spellman Files series.

What do you love? What do you hate? What do you want? 

It starts with this simple writing prompt from Alex Witt, Stonebridge Academy's new creative writing teacher. When the students' answers raise disturbing questions of their own, Ms. Witt knows there's more going on the school than the faculty wants to see. She soon learns about The Ten--the students at the top of the school's social hierarchy--as well as their connection to something called The Darkroom.

Ms. Witt can't remain a passive observer. She finds the few girls who've started to question the school's "boys will be boys" attitude and incites a resistance that quickly becomes a movement. But just as it gains momentum, she also attracts the attention of an unknown enemy who knows a little too much about her--including what brought her to Stonebridge in the first place.

Meanwhile, Gemma, a defiant senior, has been plotting her attack for years, waiting for the right moment. Shy loner Norman hates his role in the Darkroom, but can't find the courage to fight back until he makes an unlikely alliance. And then there's Finn Ford, an English teacher with a shady reputation who keeps one eye on his literary ambitions and one on Ms. Witt.

As the school's secrets begin to trickle out, a boys-versus-girls skirmish turns into an all-out war, with deeply personal--and potentially fatal--consequences for everyone involved. Lisa Lutz's blistering, timely tale shows us what can happen when silence wins out over decency for too long--and why the scariest threat of all might be the idea that sooner or later, girls will be girls.

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I’ve been a fan of Liza Lutz since The Spellman Files series and THE SWALLOWS definitely didn’t disappoint. I’ve missed Lutz’s knack for writing unlikable characters (who also don’t care about being liked by other characters—the absolute best) and with adults and teens narrating THE SWALLOWS, I was reminded how great she is at writing younger voices. One thing each narrator had in common (err…except for one) was chutzpah. Whether playing a long revenge game or suddenly wanting a change, these characters were determined to shake things up. And all they needed was a catalyst to get things going. Enter, Alex Witt.


Jacket art and design: Emily Osborne


With dark humour abounding from Ms. Witt’s chapters, she arrived at Stonebridge Academy to find the usual assortment of white and privileged teens amongst enabling teachers and an administration that strove to protect the institution’s reputation no matter what. Lutz did a phenomenal job of threading that privilege through the book, showing how untouchable certain students felt because of “who” they were—that the threat of social suicide and expulsion enforced the code of silence for students inside and outside of The Ten. But Ms. Witt had no problem being the first wave to rock the boat, even if it meant her secrets would be exposed. Gotta love a character who doesn’t take any shit, eh? But The Darkroom wouldn’t go down without taking other causalities with it. The ending left me feeling amped up and also a little conflicted. For sure one that I'll keep thinking about because like the back jacket said, in a world where boys will be boys, it's only a matter of time before girls will be girls.



If you loved the THE NOWHERE GIRLS or THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES, I have full confidence you’ll be into THE SWALLOWS. Smart writing, a quick pace, and feminist AF, it’s a book you can devour in a couple of sittings. My only critique would be the unbalanced teacher/student ratio but since this was fiction, it was easy to let that slide. I absolutely remain a fan of Lisa Lutz and can’t wait for her next release. 

Big thanks to Penguin Random House Canada for a finished copy!



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For this mani, I used:

OPI – A Good Man-Darin is Hard to Find, Malaga Wine, matte topcoat

China Glaze – Intelligence Integrity & Courage, Change Your Altitude

FingerPaints – Paper Mâché and Black Expressionism

So Nailicious – needle brush

20.8.19

review and cover mani: the turn of the key


The back jacket, from Goodreads:

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is. 
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Without a doubt, THE TURN OF THE KEY is my favourite novel by Ruth Ware. A gothic delight with a zooming pace, creepy setting, and intricately laid clues that escaped my attention until the end when they snapped together and left me no choice but to mentally applaud Ware for a job well done. Plot twists have become a staple in mysteries and thrillers, a gotcha moment where the reader is supposed to be surprised but not confused. Laying notable clues throughout a novel without arousing suspicion is no easy feat, and in THE TURN OF THE KEY there were multiple unexpected reveals working together yet I didn't see a single one coming. Absolute perfection. 


Jacket art and design by Alan Dingman


Also perfect? The delivery: letters written by Rowan to a lawyer in an attempt to explain her side of the media-saturated story. Her overall goal was to have a big-shot barrister take her case, which meant she needed to convince him of her innocence. Starting the novel at the end so to speak, where Rowan had already been arrested and charged with the murder of a child formerly in her care, cast an immediate shadow over Rowan’s character. Her voice in the letters felt nervous, sputtering even. Exceedingly vulnerable. It was clear she longed to tell her story but was anxious about possible reactions and judgments. A masterful command of tone because Ware conveyed worry from two directions: the barrister believing she’s guilty and Rowan believing that she’s a bad person. It had me on the edge of my seat, wanting to trust Rowan even though my suspicions remained intact. That duality added rich dimension to this mystery and confirmed that Ware knows how to keep a reader hooked. Also, some seriously scary stuff happened in that smart home, friends. SO VERY SCARY. I didn't know what or who to believe and the further I wandered into the eeriness, the more uncertain I became. In other words, it was suspense-central and I loved every second. 




The contrast between the smart home and the isolated, rural, and creepy af property made it a perfect location for a (possible) haunting, so prepare to clear your schedule in order to devour this tension-riddled little number in one sitting. Especially if you’re the sort of reader who enjoys feeling like you’re losing your mind because oh yes, THE TURN OF THE KEY will mess with you, but only in the best ways. Five stars all the way. THE TURN OF THE KEY hits Canadian shelves on Aug 27th, available now in the UK and US.

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




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For this mani, I used:

OPI – Lucite-tanly Look Marvellous, Coalmates, matte topcoat

China Glaze – Chroma Cool, Street Style Princess

FingerPaints - Paper Mache and Black Expressionism

So Nailicious – needle and warrior brushes



12.8.19

review and cover mani: the unlikely escape of uriah heep

Back jacket description, from Goodreads:

The ultimate book-lover's fantasy, featuring a young scholar with the power to bring literary characters into the world, for fans of The Magicians, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, and The Invisible Library.

For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can't quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob -- a young lawyer with a normal house, a normal fiancee, and an utterly normal life -- hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his life's duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world... and for once, it isn't Charley's doing.

There's someone else who shares his powers. It's up to Charley and a reluctant Rob to stop them, before these characters tear apart the fabric of reality.

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Let’s get one thing straight right away: I remain pleasantly surprised by how much I loved THE UNLIKELY ESCAPE OF URIAH HEEP. Mostly because I’m not even close to the ideal reader for this delightful crumpet of a novel, thanks to my aversion of literary classics. Yet despite my clear bias, I was hooked on the first page and had tears projecting from my face by the end. So please believe me when I say that everyone needs to read this book

I don’t even know how to compose this review because there were five hundred things I loved and most of them are spoilers. But I can mention that I took two weeks to read THE UNLIKELY ESCAPE because it’s dense, which worked out fine for me. I didn’t want to leave this world. *hugs hardcover* 


Jacket design by Lisa Marie Pompilio
Jacket Illustrations by Trevillion, Arcangel Images and Shutterstock

I think the key to why I connected so deeply to the story lies in two factors. First, making Rob the primary narrator. As I’m not really a fan of classics and wouldn’t have a clue about quotes or significance, I entered with hesitancy because there’s nothing worse than a book making me feel stupid. For instance, I didn’t know who Uriah Heep was (*literary ignorant jazz hands*). But much to my relief, Rob, older brother to Charley (the one who possessed the summoning ability) didn’t know squat about literary critique either. So while it took me a minute to understand why the person with the powers wasn’t narrating, once it clicked, I knew I could dive right in. Whenever a literary reference popped up, an organic explanation came alongside, therefore making classics accessible. Brilliant!



The second factor was EVERYTHING ELSE. The voice(s), the prose, the characters Charley pulled from books, the enormous scope of the plot, Rob and Charley’s complicated sibling relationship—both on separate and parallel arcs, the idea that literary characters aren’t static and open to interpretation (god this was done so well), plus the secrets. So many secrets. The slow burn pace resulted in a frickin’ forest fire with oodles of twists, so I can’t for the life of me understand how are there only 90 reviews on Goodreads. I was highly entertained and also learned about classic lit. I mean, come on!! Why isn’t this book all over bookstagram?! Why is nobody talking about this gem?! STOP READING THIS REVIEW AND ORDER/RESERVE THE UNLIKELY ESCAPE OF URIAH HEEP RIGHT NOW. For the love of everything, you need to read it. One million and five stars. 

Big thanks to Orbit Books for sending a finished copy!


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For this mani, I used:

OPI – Samoan Sand, I Just Can’t Cope-acabana, Gelato On My Mind, matte topcoat

China Glaze – Foie Gras, Kill ‘Em With Kindness, Wait N Sea, Four Leaf Clover, Highlight Of My Summer, Accent Piece

Picture polish – chillax

FingerPaints – Sketch Me, Black Expressionism

So Nailicious – warrior brush





26.7.19

review and cover mani: the two lila bennetts


The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Lila Bennett’s bad choices have finally caught up with her. And one of those decisions has split her life in two. Literally.

In one life, she’s taken hostage by someone who appears to be a stranger but knows too much. As she’s trapped in a concrete cell, her kidnapper forces her to face what she’s done or be killed. In an alternate life, she eludes her captor but is hunted by someone who is dismantling her happiness, exposing one secret at a time.

Lila’s decorated career as a criminal defense attorney, her marriage, and her life are on the line. She must make a list of those she’s wronged—both in and out of the courtroom—to determine who is out to get her before it’s too late. But even if she can pinpoint her assailant, will she survive? And if she does, which parts of her life are worth saving, and which parts must die? Because one thing’s for certain—life as Lila Bennett knew it is over. 

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With a super interesting premise and gorgeous cover, THE TWO LILA BENNETTS captured my attention right off the bat. I pictured Lila as Jeri Hogarth from Jessica Jones: a take no shit, ruthless attorney who strives to win no matter the cost. Definitely a harder character to cheer for in the beginning, and the authors’ choice of cases didn’t leave much room for grey. Lila Bennett just wasn’t a great person, her moral compass consistently spinning like a windmill in a hurricane. That is, until a certain situation made her question her behavior. I loved that it was a seemingly innocuous decision—a spur-of-the-moment choice—which split her life into two different pathways. And yet the plot progression, whether “captured” or “free,” had surprising similarities, perhaps suggesting there’s no escaping fate.



Cover design by Faceout Studio, Lindy Martin


A character not prone to self-reflection, being trapped in a concrete cell offered a rare extended silence for “captured” Lila to examine her life, as handcuffs and ankle bindings, dehydration and utter terror have a tendency to do. The tension in those chapters kept me turning pages, simultaneously worried about Lila’s safety and also the secrets she was forced to confront. Slowly but surely, my sympathy for Lila began to sprout as she took accountability for her mistakes, and it felt like an organic evolution. 




Meanwhile, although “free” Lila remained un-cuffed, she was still under attack. Her mystery assailant’s appearance required a deep dive into Lila’s past to find suspects, and through that process, she began to see just how long the list of potential culprits was. No real surprise for a criminal defense attorney, and her slow loss of control served as another source of emotional torture. For a character who’d grown accustomed to being one step ahead, she didn’t adapt well to falling ten steps behind and even though I knew the “captured” Lila had a literal gun to her head, I was actually more concerned for “free” Lila. A clever twist on a trope for sure, so if you love higher-stake thrillers that venture into darkness but aren’t consumed by it, THE TWO LILA BENNETTS is the book for you! 


Big thanks to Liz and Lisa for sending me an ARC!




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For this mani, I used:

OPI – A Good Man-Darin is Hard to Find, In My Back Pocket, I Just Can't Cope-acabana, Stay Off the Lawn!, Viking in a Vinter Vonderland, Need Sunglasses

China Glaze – Celtic Sun, Four Leaf Clover, Week it Honey

FingerPaints – Paper Mâché, Inkblot Blue

Julep - Michelle

picture polish - chillax

So Nailicious – needle brush




19.7.19

review and cover mani: sorcery of thorns



The back jacket, from Goodreads:

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

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There are times when I need to break out my thesaurus to find a term that can encapsulate my feelings towards a particular book. Something that describes the sensations of wanting to climb to the tops of towers and scream, paper a neighbourhood with MUST READ flyers, and the agony of narrowing down which incredible quote to tattoo on my body so I can relive the awesomeness every day. Unfortunately, my thesaurus failed me, but whatever that word may beif it even existsrepresents how I feel about SORCERY OF THORNS. 


OwlCrate exclusive cover
Jacket design by Sonia Chaghatzbanian; Jacket illustration ©️2019 by Charlie Bowater


Between the library setting, alluring manifestation of magic, and Elisabeth’s unstoppable attitude, I devoured each sentence like a reader who'd been starving for a million years. I mean, the books were alive, people! Restrained beneath chains or locked away in a cabinet, revered and respected while also feared. Perhaps a metaphor for knowledge, and one done exquisitely well. When an act of sabotage forced Elisabeth on a path she adamantly opposed, she learned that life was more volatile and complicated than she ever could’ve imagined. Nathaniel’s wry delivery and sense of humour added some levity to more devastating moments, and there’s another particular character who stole the show with his wicked ways. Also, I cried twice during unexpectedly devastating moments and then straight-up WEPT by the end, trapped in a glass case of emotion where I presently still reside.



Gah! It’s the best when I can immerse myself in a story while also fearing the desolation that comes when I reach the end and have to say goodbye to characters who've become friends. It’s been ages since that terror has invaded my heart and squeezed, simultaneously delivering a story I didn’t know I needed while pummeling my soul. Honestly, I’m having a hard time writing this review because I’m still overwhelmed by the amazingness. By far the strongest, most magically devious fantasy I’ve read this year and yes, I’m counting adult fiction as well (this is YA). 

So in sum, just read it, friends. READ IT NOW. REQUEST IT NOW. BUY TEN COPIES AND THROW THEM AT PASSER-BYS ON THE STREET. DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO GET THIS BOOK IN YOUR HOT LITTLE HANDS. 

The end.



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For this mani, I used:

OPI – Rollin’ in Cashmere, Russian Navy, I Just Can’t Cope-acabana, matte topcoat

China Glaze – Mix and Mingle, Ah-Ah-Ah-mazing, Truth is Gold, Who Wonder, Trash Can-Do Attitude, Chroma Cool, Dance Baby, Fresh Prince-ss, Four Leaf Clover, Water-Falling in Love, Immortal, Street Style Princess

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism, Paper Mache, Figure of Art

ORLY – Makeup to Breakup

Glisten and Glow – Hpnotiq Hurricane

So Nailicious – needle and warrior brushes



5.7.19

review and cover mani: i'll never tell


The back jacket from Goodreads:

What happened to Amanda Holmes?

Twenty years ago, she washed up on shore in a rowboat with a gash to the head after an overnight at Camp Macaw. No one was ever charged with a crime.

Now, the MacAllister children are all grown up. After their parents die suddenly, they return to Camp to read the will and decide what to do with the prime real estate it's sitting on. Ryan, the oldest, wants to sell. Margo, the family's center, hasn't made up her mind. Mary has her own horse farm to run, and believes in leaving well-enough alone. Kate and Liddie—the twins—have opposing views. And Sean Booth, the family groundskeeper, just hopes he still has a home when all is said and done. 

But then the will is read and they learn that it's much more complicated than a simple vote. Until they unravel the mystery of what happened to Amanda, they can't move forward. Any one of them could have done it, and all of them are hiding key pieces of the puzzle. Will they work together to solve the mystery, or will their suspicions and secrets finally tear the family apart?


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Summer camp mystery woooot! Bring on the s’mores, canoeing and, of course, tragic accidents. Or was it an accident? Multiple POVs—the siblings, Sean, and Amanda herself—tried to make sense of what happened that fateful summer and McKenzie did a solid job distinguishing distinct personalities. Her pitch-perfect depiction of deep-rooted insecurities and fears along with a tangled web of family secrets meant that while the cast remained contained, the tension never wavered. When their father’s will was revealed, the aggressive implications stoked those flames of distrust and blame which served as a bummer for the MacAllisters and good times for me. 😈


Cover image: Philip Lee Harvey / Getty Images


I loved the off-season setting of Camp Macaw (caw, caw), and while the summer camp I attended was in Ontario versus Quebec, the similarities elicited a rush of musky lake memories. McKenzie nailed those vibes, and the emotional connection each sibling felt towards the camp, whether positive or negative, influenced their perspective. A prime opportunity for explosive revelations, being stuck between the adults they’d become and the children they were, each chapter kept me on the edge of my seat. 



While the tension truly had my stomach in knots, there was unfortunately one element that deflated my agony. The extreme overuse of a particular word became tremendously distracting. I’m disappointed it wasn’t picked up during edits because the word was so prevalent (sometimes appearing multiple times in the same paragraph) it affected my ability to remain immersed in the plot. But with that said, I’LL NEVER TELL is a still an engaging and twisty mystery, perfect for hot and humid summer days (and if you attended summer camp as a kid, I suspect you’ll feel an extra connection). 

Big thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for a finished copy!



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For this mani, I used:

OPI – My Dogsled is a Hybrid, I Just Can’t Cope-acabana, A Good Man-darin is Hard to Find, Can’t Find my Czechbook, Gargantuan Green Grape

China Glaze – Throne N Shade, Highlight of My Summer, Saved By the Bluebell, Kill ‘Em With Kindness, Just a Little Embellishment

Essie – after school boy blazer

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mache

Glisten and Glow – topcoat

So Nailicious – needle and warrior brushes