review and cover mani: queenie

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Americanah in this disarmingly honest, boldly political, and truly inclusive novel that will speak to anyone who has gone looking for love and found something very different in its place.

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

With “fresh and honest” (Jojo Moyes) prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world.


QUEENIE took me on a ride, friends. At first, things were Bridget Jones’s Diary-ish and I was fine, giggling along because sure, Queenie was going through a difficult breakup but I had no doubt she’d emerge generally unscathed. You know worried, but not concerned, if that makes sense. But then Queenie’s decisions took a much darker turn, which spiked my concern to an eleven and made the world go quiet. 

Jacket design by Donna Cheng
Jacket Illustration by Gerrel Saunders

I wasn’t prepared for the degree of vulnerability displayed on the page during those darker days, and it rendered me speechless. As in I couldn’t speak because I was crying too hard. The POV kept me inside Queenie’s mind, which meant I viewed her experiences and rationalizations in real time. Wow, those rationalizations. Queenie didn’t value herself, and watching her accept/excuse terrible behaviour in exchange for companionship were the parts that made me weep. They hit close to home. 

Things got worse before they got better and the plot took Queenie to places, both emotionally and physically, she wasn’t eager to go. Those places were necessary to visit in order to move forward though, and Queenie’s reluctant courage felt so very real. Carty-Williams’s ability to dig into the layered burdens of childhood trauma, mental health, and racism, blew me away. I’ll forever remember a scene with Queenie and her long-term white boyfriend’s family. Mostly because of course. I wanted to scream. And I'm a white lady.*

*Tip. If you're also a white lady and think this scene was exaggerated or "people don't really talk like that anymore" please open your eyes. They do. And if it happens in front of you, SAY SOMETHING FFS. Use that white face of yours. Furthermore, if you don't think anything was wrong with the scene, or support the "overreactive response" take, you've got some major work to do and I hope you reflect on what your reasoning means, and how it's majorly problematic and must stop. 

In conclusion, OH MY HEART THIS BOOK. I honestly haven't stopped talking about it. By including Black Lives Matter, the fetishizing of black women, and feminism, along with the above-mentioned mental health and childhood trauma, QUEENIE proved to be a bold, fresh novel that broke my heart and then put it (mostly) back together. Be prepared for surges of frustration via Queenie’s decisions, but the group texts with her friends and strong family relationships balanced out those downturns, so there were ample bright parts to the dark, the brightest being Queenie herself. Five stars all the way, QUEENIE is out now and a must read. 

Big thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for an ARC!


FingerPaints Black Expressionism, Paper Mâché, Iconic Orange

China Glaze – Good as Marigold and Truth is Gold

OPI – matte topcoat

So Nailicious – warrior brush


review and cover mani: the rule of one

The back jacket, from Goodreads:
In their world, telling the truth has become the most dangerous crime of all.
In the near-future United States, a one-child policy is ruthlessly enforced. Everyone follows the Rule of One. But Ava Goodwin, daughter of the head of the Texas Family Planning Division, has a secret—one her mother died to keep and her father has helped to hide for her entire life.
She has an identical twin sister, Mira.
For eighteen years Ava and Mira have lived as one, trading places day after day, maintaining an interchangeable existence down to the most telling detail. But when their charade is exposed, their worst nightmare begins. Now they must leave behind the father they love and fight for their lives.
Branded as traitors, hunted as fugitives, and pushed to discover just how far they’ll go in order to stay alive, Ava and Mira rush headlong into a terrifying unknown.

It’s a real treat when I can read a book in a single sitting and with the crazier schedule I’ve had this year, I was extra appreciative to fall into THE RULE OF ONE so easily. With a quick pace and instant stakes, the tension began in the very first chapter because hello! This was a world where families could only have one child, but through resourceful means (thanks to their father’s lucrative and powerful government position) both Ava and Mira were able to attend school, trading places each day, and paying attention to any details the other would need in order to keep their switching seamless. And for eighteen years, they made it happen, until one fateful day when they were caught. 

*cues the dun dun duuuuuun*

Cover design by David Curtis

The fun part about THE RULE OF ONE was the lack of description in the back jacket. Vague teasers like “branded as traitors, hunted as fugitives” didn’t give any hints as to what obstacles the sisters would have to overcome and oooo wheeeee, friends, things got crazy. With only each other to rely on, the twins got a crash-course on survival and although there’d been enormous stress involved in trading places, their living circumstances were cushy and relatively protected, which meant they weren’t equipped for their off-grid journey. The setup for over-the-top tension (Where we they going? Would they make it? Who could they trust?) raised my expectations on how far Ava and Mira would be pushed, and while there were gruelling moments, they also caught a lot of breaks. It was still enjoyable, but I think there was a fair amount of untapped potential in regards to increasingly bleak complications that would’ve cranked my worry and anxiety up to eleven. A solid eight wasn’t too shabby, though. 

In university, I lived with a pair of twin sisters for years, and my favourite part of THE RULE OF ONE was the dynamic between Ava and Mira, because it reminded me of twins' special connection. Having a sibling reflect a mirror image can have ups and downs, and since these twins had to design their lives to be indistinguishable from each other, it opened up the floor for budding resentments. While on the run, Ava and Mira were finally able to be themselves (choosing different disguises instead of identical) but with frustrations and fear running high, it was only a matter of time before the sisters fell out of sync. Even while they fought to a survive against a government who wanted them dead, they never stopped being sisters, and their close relationship sometimes served as a help, but other times, a hindrance. Watching the ebbs and flows of their relationship gave THE RULE OF ONE a unique thread, which ultimately made the plot shine by adding complex emotion. 

All in all, THE RULE OF ONE was a fabulous read, and I’m psyched for the sequel THE RULE OF MANY, which hits shelves on May 7th. If you’re in the mood for some light dystopian YA fiction with a swift pace and dynamic characters, THE RULE OF ONE is the book for you!

Big thanks to Thomas Allen & Son for a finished copy!


For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mâché

China Glaze – Boujee Board, Too Yacht to Handle, Celtic Sun and Werk it Honey (blended together for base yellow), Emerald Bae, Queen B

OPI – I Just Can’t Cope-acabana, matte topcoat

So Nailicious – needle brush


review and cover mani: until the day I die

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

If there’s a healthy way to grieve, Erin Gaines hasn’t found it. After her husband’s sudden death, the runaway success of the tech company they built with their best friends has become overwhelming. Her nerves are frayed, she’s disengaged, and her frustrated daughter, Shorie, is pulling away from her. Maybe Erin’s friends and family are right. Maybe a few weeks at a spa resort in the Caribbean islands is just what she needs to hit the reset button…

Shorie is not only worried about her mother’s mental state but also for the future of her parents’ company. Especially when she begins to suspect that not all of Erin’s colleagues can be trusted. It seems someone is spinning an intricate web of deception—the foundation for a conspiracy that is putting everything, and everyone she loves, at risk. And she may be the only one who can stop it.

Now, thousands of miles away in a remote, and oftentimes menacing, tropical jungle, Erin is beginning to have similar fears. Things at the resort aren’t exactly how the brochure described, and unless she’s losing her mind, Erin’s pretty sure she wasn’t sent there to recover—she was sent to disappear.


Friends, I have an addiction to Emily Carpenter’s novels. Like for real, how is she not a household name at this point? The queen of Southern Gothic expanded her talents in UNTIL THE DAY I DIE by incorporating an emotional core into her signature suspenseful plot, which made this novel feel both fresh and familiar. A little slower in the beginning, the venture into Erin’s consuming grief showed a strong sensitive side to Carpenter’s voice, and once Erin arrived at the spa, the atmosphere closed in around her like a creepy, hostile force she’d likely be forced to overcome. Because, you know, this was an Emily Carpenter novel and her atmospheres are, more often than not, fairly predatory. 😈 

Cover design by Faceout Studio, Lindy Martin

Balancing Erin’s uncertain POV with her daughter Shorie’s, provided a grounded center to the story. Grieving in a different way, bottling up her emotions and lashing out, I felt for Shorie but didn’t question her stability. Presented as a smart, ambitious young woman who knew what she wanted, when Shorie suspected something was amiss, I believed her. 

So to sum up, there was Erin, rightly wary as she began the program at the Spa of This Place is Kinda Sketch and a thousand miles away, Shorie was sneaking around like some sort of STEM Jedi spy-in-training, trying to sort it all out. Even when others around her didn’t take her concerns seriously, Shorie’s firm and tenacious nature made her a force to be reckoned with because she knew if she didn’t put the clues together quickly enough, bad things were going to happen. Total.Bad.Ass.

An easy five stars, UNTIL THE DAY I DIE’s shocking twists had me taking screenshots so I could scream about them in DMs, and the ending made my mouth hang open in disbelief, followed by a two-hand fist pump because WHAT THE WHAT?! The wide expanse of emotional territory and level-ten WTFs makes UNTIL THE DAY I DIE a must read. This baby hits shelves March 12th, so do yourself a favour and pre-order Emily Carpenter’s latest smash.  

Big thanks to Emily Carpenter for sending me a finished copy, which obviously didn't sway my review because I don’t roll like that. 


For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints Black Expressionism and Paper Mâché

China Glaze – Too Yacht to Handle, Def Defying, At Your Athleisure, Just a Little Embellishment

OPI – CIA = Color is Awesome, Stay Off the Lawn, matte topcoat

Essie – Satin Sister

So Nailicious – needle brush


review and cover mani: the homecoming

The back jacket from Goodreads:

What if everything you knew about the people you loved was a lie?

After the death of their absentee father, Aaron and Bridge Quinlan travel to a vast rainforest property in the Pacific Northwest to hear the reading of his will. There, they meet up with their mother and troubled sister, Franny, and are shocked to discover the will’s terms: in order to claim their inheritance they must remain at the estate for thirty days without any contact with the outside world. Despite their concerns, they agree.

The Quinlans soon come to learn their family has more secrets than they ever imagined—revelations that at first inspire curiosity, then fear. Why does Bridge have faint memories of the estate? Why did their father want them to be sequestered there together? And what is out there they feel pulling them into the dark heart of the woods?

The Homecoming is at once a gripping mystery, a chilling exploration of how our memories can both define and betray us, and a riveting page-turner that will have you questioning your very existence. 


All right, so here’s the deal: THE HOMECOMING was bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S. Also, it was scary. Like, I wasn’t prepared for the terror that swiftly had me regretting the choice to read while alone in my house, which probably wouldn’t have been so terrible if we didn’t live in an area similar to the book’s setting. Meaning, woods and large windows that peer into the darkness, freaking me the eff out because wait did I just hear a scream outside WHAT'S OUT THERE?! In fact, I propose there should’ve been a subtitle to THE HOMECOMING, something along the lines of “Welcome to your nightmares.” Not so much in the gore department (although there was a bit) but more like a ghost story with Jack-in-the-box SURPRISES, and since I couldn’t predict said SURPRISES, the anticipation of fear was ever-present. 

Cover design by Sian Wilson

As far as the characters were concerned, the Quinlans didn’t take long to also freak the eff out. Being effectively held prisoner in a remote property with far more questions than answers, memories began to surface that presented even more questions. And the deeper they explored the woods, the creepier their circumstances became. Tension executed with a flawless pace, had I been a cat, my burning curiosity regarding what the hell was going on likely would’ve killed me. Luckily I’m not a member of the feline species, so I survived unscathed. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the Quinlans. 😈

The ending went in an entirely unexpected direction, and I was left feeling contemplative instead of petrified, even venturing into melancholy territory. Now that I’ve had time to reflect, it’s pretty astounding how Andrew Pyper created a tale that shocked me from a terror perspective, and also with the depth of emotion. Five stars all the way for this twisted little number, and a must read if you’re in the mood for a different sort of suspenseful thriller. Just make sure you close your curtains first. And get a bat. You know. To be prepared. 

Big thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for an ARC!

For this mani, I used:

OPI – In My Back Pocket, Stay Off the Lawn, and matte topcoat

ORLY – Storyteller (colorlab)

Glisten and Glow – Mother Terra

China Glaze – Kill ‘Em With Kindness and Street Style Princess

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mâché