27.9.19

review and cover mani: into the hourglass



The back jacket, from Goodreads:

In the second book in The Evermore Chronicles by Emily R. King, Everley Donovan plunges into the roiling waves of a strange new world to hunt a wicked prince who cheated time.

Everley Donovan’s mission: retrieve the hallowed sword of Avelyn stolen by the wicked Prince Killian, who slayed her family and left her for dead. Should she fail, the seven worlds will come to an end, as could time itself. And no one treasures time more than Everley, whose lifesaving clock heart cannot beat forever. She has set sail with a rogue crew for the otherworlds, where the key to dethroning the prince lies deep within the Land Under the Wave.

But passage through these unknown seas—where horrors lurk and pirates rove—proves a treacherous gamble. The Land Under the Wave was not made for humans, particularly one with a fragile clock heart. Here, Everley’s tragic past resurfaces unsolved questions. Here, too, the prince has hidden secrets more precious than pearls, secrets that could fracture the future forevermore. Everley must take back her sword and break free from this watery world before her time runs out…or so will everyone else’s.

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INTO THE HOURGLASS is book 2 of The Evermore Chronicles, so this review will be scant on details. Instead, I shall strive to convince you to read not only this book, but also BEFORE THE BROKEN STAR. And the best part? Once I’ve successfully peer pressured you to reserve them at your library and/or order them from a bookstore, you won’t have to wait long for the conclusion because EVERAFTER SONG is slated for December of this year.

THAT’S RIGHT, FRIENDS. It means this ENTIRE SERIES will have been released in 2019. Sorcery and witchcraft, how does Emily R. King do it? Also, PLEASE NEVER STOP GAH I CAN’T STOP SCREAMING.


Jacket design by Kirk DouPonce, DogEared Design


I read a fair amount of YA fantasy because I love high stakes and the ferocity of teenagers. Seriously, teens are badasses and anybody who says anything different has never met an actual teenager. They’re passionate, driven and unpredictable, and teen girls in particular possess a fierceness that could legit run the world, which makes for excellent reading set in far away lands. In The Evermore Chronicles, Everley is all that and more, with the added twist of having a clock for a heart. Yes, a clock. For a heart. Because magic is connected with time in this series, and Everley the key to it all. 



Through adventures galore, a slow-burn romance very much à la Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe (which, ahem, I do NOT say lightly), sword fights and petticoats, superbly unique world-building, and high stakes everything, I am completely obsessed. This series hasn’t been getting NEARLY enough attention, hence WHY I AM SCREAMING OMG READ THEM ALL THIS VERY INSTANT. Especially if you’re the sort of reader who doesn’t get surprised anymore. You will NEVER be able to guess where this wild plot goes next, so prepare to have your jaw drop. Also, each supporting character is well rounded with personality galore, plus there are mermaids, giants, elves, and a host of other magical creatures. Oh yeah, I’m gonna need some Netflix or film adaptations STAT because if I don’t get a visual depiction of a sea hag living in a lair filled with house cats (yes I included one minor spoiler to demonstrate how quirky and amazing this series is), I fear I may die. Five stars all the way, I can’t wait for EVERAFTER SONG!!

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



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For this mani, I used:

OPI – I Just Can’t Cope-acabana, Red My Fortune Cookie, matte topcoat

China Glaze – There She Rose, Four Leaf Clover, I Got a Blue Attitude, Saved by the Bluebell, Foie Gras, Born to Rule, Ingrid

ORLY – Makeup to Breakup and Skinny Dip

Essie – Bermuda Shorts

FingerPaints – Paper Mache and Black Expressionism

Picture polish – marine, chillax, instinct

So Nailicious – warrior brush



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