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Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella

March 2, 2016

shopaholicrescueFrom the author’s website:
To Las Vegas . . . and beyond!
Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood) is on a major rescue mission! Hollywood was full of surprises, and now she’s on a road trip to Las Vegas to help her friends and family.
She’s determined to get to the bottom of why her dad has mysteriously disappeared, help her best friend Suze and even bond with long-time enemy Alicia Bitch Long-legs (maybe…).
As Becky discovers just how much her friends and family need help, she comes up with her biggest, boldest, most brilliant plan yet! So can she save the day just when they need her most?

Sophie Kinsella’s books hold a special place in my heart. I all but stopped reading for pleasure during college and I kind of forgot to pick it up again after I graduated. But when I was lost in the stresses of wedding planning, I was handed Can You Keep a Secret and was reminded that oh right, reading can be fun. In fact, it’s something I should do more often.

I quickly moved on to Confessions of a Shopaholic and since then I’ve devoured every single book in the Shopaholic series. Yes, there have been some bumps along the way, but I’ve always enjoyed going to back to this quirky, charming cast to characters. However, I very nearly quitted the series halfway through the 7th, Shopaholic to the Stars. Have you read it? Ugh, Becky drove me nuts. It was like she was determined to never learn any lessons and to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

Stars ended on a cliffhanger, though, and I wanted to see where that was going to lead, so I reluctantly picked up Shopaholic to the Rescue. And you know what? It was so much better. I mean, yes, I went into it with super low expectations. But just slightly beating my low exceptions wouldn’t have been enough to make me fly through this as quickly as I did.

Becky is forced to come to terms with some of her bad decisions and grows up a bit in this book. It was a refreshing change to the Becky of Stars. But it is still a Sophie Kinsella book, and wasn’t all personal reflection; Rescue is filled with road trip hijinks and the kind of ridiculous situations that only Becky could get herself into. The whole Shopaholic cast of characters is back in this one, including cameos by Confessions antagonist Derek Smeath.

I’m so glad I gave Shopaholic one more try – Rescue might even be one of my favourites of the series. I’m looking forward to seeing what Becky & co. get up to next.

The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes

February 24, 2016

9780141043104From the author’s websiteOne day, sitting in traffic, married Dublin mum Stella Sweeney attempts a good deed. The resulting car crash changes her life.
For she meets a man who wants her telephone number (for the insurance, it turns out). That’s okay. She doesn’t really like him much anyway (his Range Rover totally banjaxed her car).
But in this meeting is born the seed of something which will take Stella thousands of miles from her old life, turning an ordinary woman into a superstar, and, along the way, wrenching her whole family apart.
Is this all because of one ill-advised act of goodwill? Was meeting Mr Range Rover destiny or karma? Should she be grateful or hopping mad?
For the first time real, honest-to-goodness happiness is just within her reach. But is Stella Sweeney, Dublin housewife, ready to grasp it?

The Woman Who Stole My Life reminded me why so much of my shelf space is filled with her books. I first stumbled upon Marian Keyes over 7 years ago and was immediately smitten with her style of story telling, how she mixes humour and tough subjects. In the ensuing years I’ve read everything she’s published (with the exception of her non-fiction – I need to leave something too look forward to!), but it had been a while since I’d last read something by here. Of course when I found out that she had a new book out, I knew I needed to give it a shot.

Let me start by saying that the synopsis doesn’t quite explain what the book is about. Yet, I don’t really want to expand on it, for fear of giving anything away. So, if the synopsis doesn’t hook you, never fear, that’s not really what it’s about. But yet it yes. Ugh, I feel for synopsis writers.

Let’s go with this quote instead:
Once upon a time, something very bad happened to me. As a direct result of that very bad thing, something very, very good happened. I was a big believer in karma at that point. However, as a direct result of that very, very good thing, a very bad thing happened. Then another bad thing. I am currently due an upswing in my karma cycle, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. Frankly, I’ve had it with karma. (p. 22)

All clear?

The Woman Who Stole My Life opens with Stella, who has recently gone through some big shake ups and is trying to make sense of her life. She is wary, maybe a little bitter, but is very much trying to Get On With Life. Instead, she spends a lot of time on Twitter.

The story of the bad thing/good thing/bad thing/bad thing is told through flashbacks and present time, and I was completely hooked. I did, however, think that the first half of the book was a little tighter and the spools loosened a bit in the second half, but overall it might be one of my favourite Keyes.


What I liked most about this book was its look at extended illnesses and peoples reactions to it. The rush of support and care at the first diagnosis which eventually turned to waning interested and even resentment. However, it drove me crazy that, even years later, Stella’s family blamed her for her illness and everything that she missed during her time in hospital. In reality, this could be very close to how some people deal with loved ones’ illnesses. I can imagine that the their feelings towards that loved one and that time could be complex and complicated. But, it made me so sad that Stella seemed to agree with them.


If you’ve read & enjoyed Marian Keyes in the past, definitely give this one a shot. If you haven’t, but enjoy a mix of funny, witty, and tragic, yes give this a shot.

Soundtrack Saturday – The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

February 20, 2016

FromSoundtrackSaturday the authors’ website: American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy-tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it’s Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain’s future king. And when Bex can’t resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

Soundtrack Song: “This Love” by Ryan Adams
Taylor Swift’s “This Love” tells of a relationship that became too hard and fell apart, but was destined to be rekindled. Ryan Adams’ take on it is haunting and bittersweet, and the whole thing matches Bex & Nick to a tee.
Also, I just like the idea of using a cover song for a book that’s a fictional retelling of true events.

Clear blue water, high tide came and brought you in
And I could go on and on, on and on, and I will
Skies grew darker, currents swept you out again
And you are just gone and gone, gone and gone

Bonus Soundtrack Song:Spies” by Coldplay
Because, ugh, those sleazy sneaky spies.

Soundtrack Saturday – I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

February 6, 2016

SoundtrackSaturdayFrom the author’s website: If seventeen-year-old Skyler Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage-months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.
Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings them together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.

Soundtrack Song: “Medicine” by The 1975
Near the end of I’ll Meet You There, there’s a line “Those eyes, looking at me like I’m medicine” and immediately this song by The 1975 came to mind. So I put down the book, found that song, and played it on repeat while I finished the book. And it was absolutely perfect. If you have this book sitting on your tbr pile, do yourself a favour and have this song on hand when you start to read it.

Bonus Soundtrack Song:Codes” by Ellie Goulding
Specifically for the party scene and the lyrics “Tell me black and white, why I’m here tonight, I can’t read the signs.”

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!