Thursday, September 10, 2015

Book Review for "Shutter" {by Courtney Alameda}

TITLE: Shutter
AUTHOR: Courtney Alameda
PUBLISHER: Feiwel and Friends/Macmillion
GENRE: Young Adult Horror!!

SUMMARY: Micheline 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 to destroy corporal and spiritual monsters. She uses her SLR camera to exorcize ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. When a routine ghost hung goes awry, Micheline and her team (including Ryder, the guy she's loved forever) are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. She has seven days or less to exorcise an entity of she and her friends will die.

    Shutter Book Bash: We were completely spoiled to have the amazing author, Courtney Alameda join us for the evening! Kelly was our moderator and she did an incredible job bringing Shutter to life! Be sure to check out our Photo Recap of the evening too! (coming soon)
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    Courtney is a veteran bookseller and librarian at the Provo library. Shutter is her debut novel that's been hailed as a "stand-out in the genre . . . (and) sure to please thriller fans" by School Library Journal. 
Courtney was so personable and well-spoken. It was so fun getting to know her! When we asked about how the story for Shutter came about she said that she wanted to write a ghost story that wasn't the typical ghost story. Most of the time ghost stories focus on a specific haunted location. To create a different twist, she wanted a ghost to work off a monster framework. A huge part of her storyline has to do with Micheline's camera, which she uses to exorcize ghosts. She said the idea of using a camera to exorcize a ghost had been done before. BUT she loves to research things to spur new ideas, and came across the fact that certain birds have a fourth cone in their eye that allows them to see many  more colors than normal. Courtney wondered if the same thing happened in humans . . . and as it turns out IT DOES! It only occurs in women, and it's called Tetrachromacy. It makes sensory space color four dimensional. In her story, Courtney makes Micheline a Tetrachomat, meaning that she can perceive ghosts in a a way that normal humans cannot. Pretty clever twist to her story!

As a group, we are always dying to know what actors the authors would pick if to cast the movie version of their book.  Luckily, Courney had some perfect actors for us to match with the characters in our heads.

Micheline - Kerli Koiv
(remember, she's naturally blonde!!)
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Ryder - Ben Barnes
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Leonard Helsing (Micheline's Dad) - Daniel Craig
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Oliver - Cillian Murphy
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What do you guys think? Do her picks go with what you imagined in your head? 

Courtney also shared that she's a huge gamer! A lot of the monster inspirations came from her roots in gaming. It was really important to her to have a strong female character because so many of the females in the gaming world were weak. The strength shown in Micheline comes from the things Courtney took issue with from some of her gaming days.

Courtney also loves horror films, and books such as Resident Evil and Dracula. She talked about how the book Dracula was the first book to really creep her out. And you can't have references to Dracula without leading to the Helsing family . . .  Micheline's lineage. 

We were curious how much of her book was based on monster lore vs. her creation. The creatures in her books are mostly original, with heavy influences from Japanese bestiaries. When we asked specifically about the crazy, creepy scorpion creature, she let us know that it is totally original! 

Courtney is a very dedicated writer, kicking out about 2,000 words a day, which is the same pace as the master of horror novels, Stephen King. She writes every day and her next novel comes out in the fall of 2016.  It's called Pitch Dark, and she described it as a mash up of what it would be like if Indian Jones and Laura Croft took on Aliens!

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As proud as she is of Shutter, she's even more excited about Pitch Dark. We can't wait til it comes out!! 

We all were dying to know if Shutter will have a sequel. She was hesitant to give a definite answer. She talked about how many published stories would be better suited to span one or two book. Some have been stretched to fit the typical trilogy-mold and it leaves the reader feeling that stretch. She wants to make sure that wouldn't happen with a sequel if she decided to do it. She has many amazing ideas for it though!! So we will keep our fingers crossed for more Micheline and the gang. 

CONTENT: We give this book a PG-13 rating for non-human violence, haunting/intense scenes and mild sexual allusions. 

HEAVY - Non- human

We want to give a huge shout out to Courtney Alameda for making our Book Bash to celebrate Shutter so fantastic! 

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