Skip to content

Shudder by Courtney Alameda

October 23, 2015

ShutterMicheline Helsing is a tetrachromat—a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She’s aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera’s technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.

When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn’t exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she’s faced before . . . or die trying.

Lock, stock, and lens, she’s in for one hell of a week.

Geez, this was a slightly terrifying book.

Scary stories aren’t usually my thing, The Shades of London series being closer to my level of creepy. But, Shutter was October’s book club pick, so I dived in without even reading the synopsis. And promptly proceeded to curl up into a tiny ball while reading on public transit. Because this is Shades of London kicked up a couple notches.

Micheline Helsing has had to face some pretty gruesome things in her life, and in Shutter we get to face them with her. But while they made me cover my eyes and curl up in the fetal position, they’ve only made her more determined. She’s a character who has to think fast on her feet and while she doesn’t always make the right choices, she’s not going lie down and give up. She is a fighter until the last. Needless to say, she’s a character I grew fond of (but she’d probably beat me up for admitting it).

My favourite thing about Shutter, however, was its references to Dracula. Which I coincidentally happened to be in the middle of reading when I started Shutter. It was a really interesting, and, dare I say, enriching experience to be reading the original classic side by side with the Alameda’s story of the characters descendants. I have yet to finish Dracula but I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of the story parallels with Micheline’s adventures.

This would have worked great as a standalone book, but I have a feeling it’s going to be the start of a series. And yes, I will be reading the next book. At least this time I’ll know what I’m getting myself into.

Let’s try this again

October 18, 2015

alita.readsRemember when I used to blog regularly – joining weekly memes, online events, IRL events, and even hosting my own events? HA HA me neither. It was so long ago, it almost seems like it was a different person.

For about 4 years I was consistent with blogging: sharing my thoughts with the online bookish world, spending hours visiting other blogs, and even more hours reading reading reading. Until suddenly, I wasn’t. I don’t know exactly what happened, but it wasn’t a conscious decision. Life got busy, un-reviewed books piled up, and blogging became this all consuming thing to which I no longer felt I could give proper attention. So, without any fanfare or explanation, I just disappeared.

2 years later, I now realize that I miss writing my thoughts on books. Without writing reviews, I can’t even remember what most of the books I’ve read in the last 2 years were about. And I’m not even reading nearly as much as I was during the Blogging Years. And I miss my bookish community. I think I took the little community I had wormed my way into for granted. I looked at Big Popular Bloggers and their legions of followers and knew I was never going to be that influential. But I know now that that’s okay. It’s going to be a humbling experience, coming back and writing into the void, but I’m looking at this as writing more for my own benefit, as my own record of what I’ve read.

I don’t have any grand, lofty plans about how this time I’m going to Make It Work. I’m just going to take it one post at a time and see where it leads.

With that, time to work on my first book review in two years *gulp*

Fall 2015 Readathon Updates

October 16, 2015

2015 ReadathonHiya! Time to dust off the ol’ blog for another 24hr readathon – which, let’s be honest, is usually closer to a 14hr readathon in my case. I haven’t been able to participate in a readathon for two years and I’m SUPER excited to be back for this, my TENTH readathon. (what. even.)

In the past I would plan my readathon books way in advance, putting all sorts of perfect selections on hold at the library and picking them up from various locations. But I am not nearly that organized these days, so I’ve plucked these beauties off my bookshelves.

Princess in Pink by Meg CabotIMG_20151016_180308 (the Princess Diaries books have been a staple of my readathon choices and I’m looking forward to hanging out with Mia again.)
The Root Cellar by Janet Lunn (one of my favourites when I was a kid and I found this copy in a thrift store a couple years ago.)
Beauty by Sarah Pinborough (an impulse buy from The Last Bookstore last month – I’m a sucker for a fairytale retelling.)
Dracula by Bram Stoker (I’m in the middle of of this right now, so I’ll probably pick it up here & there during the day.)

I’ll be updating this post throughout the day, but I’ll also be hanging out on Twitter and probably also Instagram.

Happy reading : )

5:08am – I’m up & sort of awake. Let’s read!

6:45am – Hour 2 (Tea & Introductory Survey break time)

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Beautiful (and currently still pitch black) British Columbia.
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? I’m actually really looking forward to getting back into Dracula. I took a break from it last week to finish Shutter for book club, which just made me even more eager to get back to reading it!
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? I think there’s still a leftover piece of pumpkin cheesecake waiting for me. Also, wine.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! Hmmm… books. music. crochet. That about sums me up!
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I still can’t believe this is my TENTH readathon. It’s been a few years since I’ve participated, so I’m just looking forward to settling in to my usual rhythm. In the past I’ve also participated as a cheerleader, which was always lots of fun, but this time around I’m going to revel in reading reading reading.

IMG_20151017_063746~28:50am – Hour 4 (The ‘Whooo boy, off to a slow start’ Edition)

Reading: Princess in Pink by Meg Cabot
Munching: first breakfast – hot cereal & tea
Listening: nothing but silence

Books finished: 0
Total pages read: 122
Total reading time: 3hrs 0min

12:00pm – Hour 8 (The ‘I’ve been on Twitter all day’ Edition)

IMG_20151017_113740Reading: Princess in Pink by Meg Cabot
Munching: Leftover Indian food from last night
Listening: to husband root through the fridge

Books finished: 0
Total pages read: 221 (but far more tweets)
Total reading time: 5hrs 1min

Man, I forgot how fun it is to hang out with readers on Twitter all day. I’m nearing the end of my first book, and after 8 hours it feels like I should have more pages under my belt. But having a fun day nonetheless!

4:IMG_20151017_145733~230pm – Hour 12 (The ‘Whoops just got a little swept up by my book’ Edition)

Reading: Beauty by Sarah Pinborough
Munching: Veggies & pita chips & hummus. Also, wine.
Listening: the whirl of the washing mashing

Books finished: 1 1/2
Total pages read: 394
Total reading time: 8hrs 28min

I wasn’t sure what to expect with Beauty at all, and I have been totally, completely pulled in. Time is flying by and I’ve almost forgotten that there are other things going on. It’s a really interesting mix of a bunch of fairytales, with Sleeping Beauty at it’s centre and elements of Little Red Riding Hood, Beauty & the Beast, and Rapunzel. But I’m only halfway through, so who knows what other surprises await.

Mid-Event Survey!
1. What are you reading right now? Beauty by Sarah Pinborough
2. How many books have you read so far? 1 1/2
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? Still hoping to get back to Dracula.
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? No, not many. But have decided to at least one productive thing today, so I have laundry going.
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? How much time I’ve been spending on Twitter, which really should be all that much of a surprise. 

10:05pm – Hour 18 (The ‘That’s it, that’s all’ Edition)

IMG_20151017_210817~2Reading: Dracula by Bram Stoker
Munching: egg nog & rum and freshly baked cookies
Listening: to husband watch Netflix

Books finished: 2 and a bit
Total pages read: 503
Total reading time: 12hrs 19min

I think that’s it for me. It’s been fun – until the next one!

Fav Books and Tunes of 2013!

January 2, 2014

Hi strangers!

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time remembering the details of any book I’ve read more than, say, a week ago. Blogging really helped with that problem – having to think through and put into words what I liked or disliked about a book and then having those words to look back at later. But since I don’t have a blog full of 2013 reviews to consult, I thought I’d put together a quick list of my favourites of the year so Future Alita will at least be able to remember which were the good ones.

Favourite books read in 2013 (alphabetical order)


I read this during the Spring 24hr Readathon. Nothing like starting the day by weeping into your oatmeal! (And not the first time I’ve done this to myself. You’d think I’d learn.)

Speaking of weeping. One of the few I actually reviewed in 2013, this book is amazing and tore my heart to shreds.

Another book I actually reviewed! What! This book was such a lovely surprise – filled with magic and wonderful characters – I wanted to read it again as soon as it was over. Instead I’ve been devouring (pun unintended) Heather Dixon’s blog StoryMonster.

Fantastic concept, fantastically carried out.

I read this on family vacation with my husband’s family and giggled the entire way through. Then came home and lent it to all my friends.


Aliens attack! But this book is so much more than just aliens attacking. The only thing I didn’t like about The 5th Wave was that I didn’t realize it was the start of a series and thought the ending left a few things unanswered. But of course I will be reading the next book when it comes out. Of course I will. (Anyone know *when* it comes out??)

Super cute book about a movie star in a small town that reminded me of Win A Date With Tad Hamilton but also not quite.

I saw the movie first and loved it and its soundtrack. Read the book shortly after and loved it as well but was glad I saw the movie first so I could enjoy its light-heartedness. Because the book is definitely a lot less light-hearted. If you’re interested, I posted more thoughts on the two eons ago.

This started out all fun and quirky and then became very serious before I knew it was happening. Overall, very good.

Teenaged girl’s spiral into madness! Although at times uncomfortable to read, I couldn’t put it down. Plus, bonus points for being set in my city.

10 most listend to tracks – according to
musicfavs20131. The 1975 – Fallingforyou
2. The 1975 – Chocolate
3. Nolita Knights – Distance Kills
4. M83 vs Ellie Goulding – Anything Could Happen At Midnight
5. Nolita Knights – Let’s Try
6. The 1975 – Sex
7. Luke Sital-Singh – Dark
8. Little Comets – Jennifer
9. Farewell J.R – Night Wolves
10. The 1975 – Me

What were your highlights of 2013? Books, music, movies, tv shows..?

Fall 2013 Readathon Updates

October 12, 2013

deweys-readathonbutton5:00am – Hour 1 (The ‘Am I Wake Yet?’ Edition)


While I am feeling extremely unprepared for this readathon, I assure you have I been looking forward to it for months. Life has been nuts and sometimes you just need to say ‘no’ to things so you can unwind, relax, and hang out with a couple hundred other readers on the internet.

My plan for the day is to work through books I’ve already started. I’m currently 1/2 way through Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson, 1/3 through The Diviners by Libba Bray (so long!), and just barely started Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. I also just picked up How To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford, so maybe I will give that a go.

Anyway, this will be the post I update throughout the day, so feel free to check back every now & then and scroll to the bottom to see how things are going. Or, as always, you can find me on Twitter.

Looking for more info on the Readathon? Click HERE

EDIT 5:05am – I’m up! (I am going to need a nap soon)

6:27am – Hour 2 (The ‘Introduction Questionnaire’ Edition)

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Chilly Western Canada
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
I’ve had Scarlett Fever on hold for a while, so I’m happy I’m able to get back into it!
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
At this moment, first breakfast… which is coming up right after this :)
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
Books. Music. That’s pretty much it :)
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
This is my 9th (!!) readathon, and the first time I haven’t signed up as an official cheerleader. I’m still planning on sprinkling comments around the readathon blogosphere, but would also like to participate in some mini challenges. Like this one! I can’t remember the last time I did the Intro questionnaire :)

8:18am – Hour 4 (The ‘I <3 NYC’ Edition)

IMAG1610Let the food pics begin!

I’m really enjoying Scarlett Fever. Not only because Maureen Johnson’s writing is fun to read, but also because of the setting. I love New York. So much. I was back there two weeks ago and this book is helping me feel like I’ve returned for a day.

Reading: Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson
Munching: Oatmeal with chia seeds, almonds, craisins, almond milk; David’s Organic Breakfast Tea
Listening: early morning silence

Books finished: 0
Total pages read: 117
Total reading time: 2hrs 33min
Total challenge / comment time: 0hrs 19min

11:15am – Hour 7 (The ‘I Finished A Book’ Edition)

IMAG1615-1I finished a book! Yes, it helped that I was already 1/2 finished it when I started this morning, but it still feels good to have something on the Finished pile. I’m not sure I like how Scarlett Fever ended, but I’m still sad it’s over and my time hanging out with Scarlett and the Martins is over for now. Why is there no book 3 yet??

Reading: Trying to decide what to read next! The Diviners or How to Say Goodbye in Robot?
Munching: Eggs, plum slices, hot chocolate with hazelnut liqueur
Listening: More silence. I should put some music on at some point…

Books finished: 1
*Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson
Total pages read: 187
Total reading time: 4hrs 1min
Total challenge / comment time: 0hrs 53min

5:36pm – Hour 13 (The ‘Ate some food, read a book, did a mid-event survey’ Edition)

IMAG1618-1I finished my second book! It’s our book club pick for November so I hope the others all read it because I really want to hear what everyone has to say about it. There will be Things to discuss. And it was a great pick for readathon day. I didn’t want to do anything else until it was finished.

I hope everyone is having a great readathon day!

Reading: Time for The Diviners!
Munching: Lunch – BBQ Chicken pizza. Snack: Chips & salsa, wine.
Listening: Is There Somebody Who Can Watch You by The 1975

Books finished: 2
*Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson
*How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
Total pages read: 463
Total reading time: 8hrs 51min
Total challenge / comment time: 0hrs 53min

Mid-Event Survey Time!

1) How are you doing? Sleepy? Are your eyes tired?
Doing surprisingly well, haven’t needed a nap yet today. But I expect the tiredness will come later
2) What have you finished reading?
Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson and How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
3) What is your favorite read so far?
Probably Scarlett Fever.
4) What about your favorite snacks?
Hmmm… the wine was good. I definitely didn’t stock up on as many tasty snacks as I have for previous ‘thons!
5) Have you found any new blogs through the readathon? If so, give them some love!
I’ve only visited a few blogs today, but this is one of my favourite blog names I’ve come across: Are You Sitting Comfortably?… Then we’ll begin

10:01pm – Hour 18 (The ‘I bid you goodnight’ Edition)

IMAG1624-1-1Time for me to bow out. I’ve had a lovely day of reading that, as usual, went by way too quickly. See you around next time!

Reading: The Diviners by Libba Bray
Munching: Eggnog & brandy, apple pie cupcake
Listening: Broken Brights by Angus Stone (Which I usually just think of as a nice, mellow song, but now, reading The Diviners, the line “Is that the old man walking in the dark” is freaking me out a bit.)

Books finished: 2
*Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson
*How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
Total pages read: 568
Total reading time: 11hrs 36min
Total challenge / comment time: 1hrs 42min

Raincoast Books Teen Reads Winter Preview

September 21, 2013
tags: ,

Oh hello there. Remember me? It’s been a little while, and honestly, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be back. But the wonderful people at Raincoast Books have inspired me to give blogging another go.

Raincoast2This morning I attended the Teen Reads Winter Preview event hosted by Raincoast. I was a bit hesitant about attending, seeing as my blogging this year has pretty much been, well, non-existant. But I was lured by the promise of caffeine and breakfast and maybe a few books.

The lovely ladies at Raincoast took us through some highlights of their Fall books and then delved into what’s coming up this Winter with a sneak peak at a few Spring titles. It was so great to spend the morning chatting about books, swapping book recommendations, and hearing what upcoming books people are excited about.

And, of course, they sent us home loaded down with books and other goodies


Crewel by Gennifer Albin (signed)
Altered by Gennifer Albin
Antigoddess by Kendare Blake
Before My Eyes by Caroline Bock
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason
16 Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler
A Tale of Two Centuries by Rachel Harris
Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally
Nil by Lynne Matson
Expiration Day by William Campbell Powell
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Plus a couple totes, notebook, and a fancy personalized bookmark. On top of that, I won a signed copy of Eleanor & Park.

Of the stack I came home with, I’m probably most looking forward to Fangirl (while I didn’t love Eleanor & Park, I really liked Rainbow Rowell’s writing and have been wanting to read more of her stuff), A Tale of Two Centuries (time travel love story? yes please), and 16 Things I Thought Were True (just looks super cute). But The Winner’s Curse and The Clockwork Scarab also look really interesting, as do Nil, Before My Eyes, and Strange Sweet Song. Really, I just want to read all of them right now and I don’t know where to start.

These are some other titles I’m looking forward to that were talked about:
This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
Cress by Marissa Meyer
Something Real by Heather Demetrios
Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
Going Over by Beth Kephart

Thank you so much, Raincoast!

So anyway, yes, I’m hoping you’ll see me a little more frequently around these parts. I most likely (definitely) won’t be doing individual reviews for every book I read (at least to start), but I would like to at least do a round up post every month of what I’ve read.

See you soon!

~ alita

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo (thoughts)

June 5, 2013

SiegeAndStormThe highly anticipated follow up to Shadow and Bone! I enjoyed the first book much more than I expected, mostly because I expected not to like it at all. And one of the reasons I really liked it was because of the main character, Alina. So, I was looking forward to hanging out with her once again.

In Shadow and Bone, Alina is just discovering her power and how to use it. In Siege and Storm, she is trying to get a handle on the responsibility that comes along with that power. It’s a responsibillity that I know I wouldn’t want, but Alina steps up – somewhat grudgingly at first, but mostly because she understands that with her gift she can do what no one else can. And also, it turns out she has a taste for power.

However, taking on this responsibility meant a lot of committee meetings, strategy planning sessions, and waiting around for the Darkling to strike. But don’t worry, Siege and Storm isn’t completely lacking in action. Bardugo has provided battles on land and sea – and in the air – featuring soldiers, Grisha with supernatural powers, and mythological creatures.

Really that only thing that irked me was Mal and his response to Alina’s new power and responsibility. At the beginning of the book Mal and Alina are on the run and hiding from the Darkling, and during this time Mal is in his element, keeping Alina safe and working towards a more permanent freedom. Meanwhile, Alina is wasting away and feeling useless because she’s not able to use her power and is unable to contribute to their new future together. However, once their plans are derailed and they get to the Palace, the tables are turned. Suddenly Alina is the one with all the responsibility and incredible power and Mal is reduced to playing bodyguard. And okay yes, they both could have handled some of the situations better and maybe Mal was born to be an awesome tracker and nothing else. But he had no right to make Alina feel bad about the role she had to play and try to convince her to run away, back to how things were at the beginning. Way to be supportive, mister.

Also, one of the other characters made a very good observation early in the book: for soul mates, the two of them were awfully insecure about their feelings for each other.

However, even with all that melodrama, it was still a great read. So if you’ve read the first in the Grisha Trilogy, definitely check this one out.

Source: borrowed ARC


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 606 other followers