18.10.19

review and cover mani: NOS4A2


The back jacket, from Goodreads:

NOS4A2 is a spine-tingling novel of supernatural suspense from master of horror Joe Hill, the New York Times bestselling author of Heart-Shaped Box and Horns.

Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.

Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.”

Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx. That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.


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If there’s one takeaway from NOS4A2, it’s that if you happen to hear Christmas music drifting out from a Rolls Royce…RUN, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE. I swear, I’ll never look at a luxury car the same way again. Or a Christmas tree. Or ornaments. Or basically anything connected to Christmas because YIKES EVERYTHING IS SCARY.

So, naturally, I loved this book.


Cover photograph © Pari Dukovic/AMC

Taking something beloved to many and turning it into an evil entity is the actual best and Joe Hill smoked it in NOS4A2. For a beast of a novel, clocking in at nearly 700 pages, I hardly noticed the length. Tension oozed out of the nooks and crannies of the text, and I loved Hill’s trademark exposition when it came to character building. No matter how large their role in the plot, each character received some sort of descriptive treatment, not a cardboard cutout to be seen.

The Brat aka Vic was addictive to watch, a MC with depth, grit, and a major case of bad luck, she was an unstoppable force and therefore amazing. Oh how I cheered for her, feared for her, wept for her. Throughout her life, she carried a heavy burden of responsibility thanks to the covered bridge that would appear whenever she needed to find something that had been lost, so even when Vic was a child, she felt a strong obligation to help others, despite the personal consequences. A combination of horrifying and heartwarming, I flew through pages with such velocity, they kind of blurred together. 



The epic scope of the timeline, following Vic from a child to a young woman, and then as a young mother, made NOS4A2 a saga of horror that only Joe Hill could write. Dark and gruesome, featuring the worst sorts of things people can do to each other, but a heroine who’s easy to cheer for, this book is absolutely perfect to read during Spooky Month. Just make sure you clear your schedule because once you devour the first chapter, you won’t want to do anything else. Five stars all the way. 



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For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Paper Mache and Black Expressionism

OPI – In My Back Pocket and matte topcoat

China Glaze – Good as Marigold, Royal Pain in the Ascot, Change Your Altitude, Rock N’ Royale






7.10.19

review and cover mani: ninth house


The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

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NINTH HOUSE I CANNOT.

No, really. I can’t. My brain is incapable of processing all of the awesomeness and my heart still hasn’t recovered. Ughhhhhhh it’s just so damn good. 

Very much an adult fantasy, Bardugo ventured into much darker territory in NINTH HOUSE, eyes open and unflinching. The plot seeped with pain and trauma, including graphic scenes of sexual and general violence, but through a distinctly feminist lens. It felt grounded and not at all exploitive—more focused on the survivor’s experience, including the emotional aftermath. How violence can change a person, and how the burden of violence is carried with a person throughout their life. Think Karin Slaughter but with secret Yale societies that practice magic with Bardugo flare. Gruesome, hard to read, but strangely hopeful in the end. 


Cover design by Keith Hayes

As a protagonist, Alex Stern made my whole life. A true survivor, she didn’t exactly fit in on the Yale campus, which suited her just fine. With a wicked sense of humor and a tolerance for exactly zero bullshit, Alex's natural state had her looking past the status quo and following her gut even when those in power demanded she cease and desist. Especially when those in power demanded she cease and desist, actually. In essence, my ideal sort of young woman, and one I’d follow anywhere. 

Also as a heads-up I would’ve appreciated knowing: NINTH HOUSE was a slower burn, but when the plot got rolling, it was bananapants. Character arcs sewn together into intricate twists, there wasn’t ever a “good” place to put it down, which meant I’d read for an hour and a half at night, 30 minutes over lunch, and any other increment I could squeeze in. The story consumed my thoughts, to the point I had a nightmare about it (re: Karin Slaughter-esque violence). AND THE ENDING OMG WHERE IS THE SEQUEL I NEED IT IMMEDIATELY.


It was just so damn fantastic. GAH, FRIENDS IT WAS AN ABSOLUTE TRIUMPH.

Atmospheric AF, excellent supporting characters, and an intriguing use of magic, all I can say is: Believe the hype (of which there is much). NINTH HOUSE hits shelves TOMORROW, so hopefully there is a bookstore close to you that’s open at midnight because you need this book in your hot little hands. Also, depending on your territory, there are several different covers in play. I love the UK edition the best. ;) But whatever edition you choose, rest assured you’re in for a wild magical ride. 

Big thanks to Raincoast Books for an ARC!!



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For this mani, I used:

China Glaze – Street Style Princess

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mรขchรฉ

OPI – matte topcoat

So Nailicious – needle and warrior brushes


2.10.19

review and cover mani: the bone houses


The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Aderyn ("Ryn") only cares about two things: her family, and her family's graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meagre existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don't always stay dead.

The risen corpses are known as "bone houses," and legend says that they're the result of a decades-old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with new ferocity. What is it that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?

Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them deep into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the long-hidden truths about themselves.


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I’ve been looking forward to reading THE BONE HOUSES since I first noticed Emily Lloyd-Jones’s name gracing the bottom of the cover. I absolutely loved the peculiar epic-ness of THE HEARTS WE SOLD, and with October being Spooky Month™, it seemed appropriate to start with THE BONE HOUSES. The only problem? I read it in two days, which wasn’t near enough time to spend with Ryn and Ellis. Curse you, Emily Lloyd-Jones for writing such consumable novels! (Jk, it’s the best.)


Jacket art 2019 by SPIDER.MONEY (Wansiya Visupakanjana)
Jacket design by Marcie Lawrence


The mental image of Ryn sauntering through town with an axe by her side will make my heart smile whenever I think of it. A scrappy young woman who worked hard as a gravedigger to support her family, she also voluntarily patrolled the edge of the mountain to stop bone houses from infiltrating her community. Even though most people in town didn’t believe in bone houses. A character who stared down fear with reluctant obligation, Ryn made for an excellent guide for Ellis, who wished to venture deep into the mountains. Yes, the same mountains where the bone houses resided. *cue the dun dun dunnnnn*

As I’ve come to expect from Lloyd-Jones, the back jacket description mentioned a scant 30% of the overall plot. The journey into the mountains was just the beginning of Ryn and Ellis’s adventure, and what started as a small idea quickly bloomed into a quest to not only stop the bone houses, but understand why they began attacking people. Through folklore, family revelations, and self-discovery, THE BONE HOUSES proved to be a mission with a heart. 



Also, while it isn’t mentioned in the back jacket, I think it’s important to note that Ellis grappled with chronic pain. Ellis’s strategies for pain management and how it affected his life were threaded through the novel with care and consideration. That said, I wanted to mention it because it can be a sensitive subject. 

Creepy but not terrifying, with a surprising amount of feels (I openly wept twice), if you love books with steady paces, oodles of surprises, adorable undead pets (I won't spoil this for you because your  heart deserves to be surprised by the awesomeness), and a melancholy tone by the end, THE BONE HOUSES is the book for you! 
๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ


Big thanks to Hachette Book Group Canada for an ARC!



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For this mani, I used:

Custom beige:
OPI – I Just Can’t Cope-acabana
China Glaze – Throne-in Shade
ORLY – Storyteller (colorlab)

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mรขchรฉ

So Nailicious – warrior brush