Friday, August 19, 2011

My Video Review of POSSESS...Gone Wrong

If you read my post yesterday, you know that I had initially planned on doing something else to discuss Gretchen McNeil's debut POSSESS, but got tied up with technical problems.

Well, here's that something else... As you'll be able to see, nothing went as expected. And a review only kind of occurred.


I know, ridiculous.

Musical credits:
Lia Ices "Grown Unknown"
30 Seconds to Mars "Edge of the Earth"
Florence + the Machine "Heavy in your arms"
Two Steps from Hell "Freedom Fighters"
Two Steps from Hell "To Glory"

P.S. If you haven't already, go here to check out my full review of Gretchen's POSSESS as well as to enter to win ARCs of DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor, SHIFTING by Bethany Wiggins, and ASHES by Ilsa J. Bick (this one is signed). Reviews of these to follow.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Review of POSSESS and Another Giveaway

I was working on something totally different and way cooler than this to discuss POSSESS, but I had to abandon it for dumb technical reasons. If I manage to work this issue out, I'll have something new for you tomorrow. Until then,

Some news:

writeonconlogo Have you checked out the WriteOnCon activities this week? They're really on their game, offering a ton of great information about writing and publishing as well as giving you access to people in the industry. If you haven't checked it out yet, I urge you to give it a shot! (click on the image)

Also, be sure to check out my new ARC giveaway before you go (below my review!) Entries will be tallied and winners of POSSESS and THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER will be posted ASAP. That thingy I was working on before technical issues assaulted me kind of took up all my time. Blerg.

So, my review...

POSSESS by Gretchen McNeil
Summary:  Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, by the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from.

Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons' plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king.

The first time I tried reading POSSESS at night, I thought I might creep myself into a catatonic state.* It's not that the book is gruesome or even overly scary. It's just, I don't know--the subject, maybe? Also, I'm a wimp. A big one. As far as creepy subjects go, demonic possession is probably like number one on the list (also clowns and heroin chic). Add to that McNeil's amazingly vivid descriptions and spook-worthy settings, and you end up with this incredible work of creepawesome.

But you know what's weird? Okay, I should really have prefaced this by mentioning that I normally don't read books like this. I'm just not the kind of person that enjoys the thrill of fear. Wimp, I tell you, wimp. BUT as creeped out as I was reading POSSESS, I wasn't terrified--I didn't worry that I'd end up with nightmares. It doesn't take long to realize why either. Mainly, Bridget. The reader becomes so steeped in who she is (even with a 3rd person POV!) that you can't help but feel as she's feeling. And instead of quaking and cowering in a corner (as I'd be wont to do when faced with a demonic possession), she cracks a joke and banishes the heck out of her demons.

Which brings me to what I think is one of the strongest elements of POSSESS--the voice. Seriously, the voice alone is enough to keep a reader from sinking into the abyss of trembling fear. There's this one scene in the middle which takes normal, household items (I'll let YOU find out what they are) and combines them with demonic possession, creating something beyond Hitchcockian (think the clown in just about every horror movie), but Bridget's voice kept me grounded, letting me see through the eyes of one very jaded, hilarious teenager. Imagine a part Asian Emma Stone performing an exorcism (or as Bridget calls it, banishment). Serious entertainment.

I should probably also mention the romance. Because that's in there, too. It's not the primary focus, but it definitely occupies a good chunk of Bridget's thoughts and activity; when you get a look at the love interest, you'll understand why--talk about dreamy sigh. And then there's the priest. OMG, the priest. I should stop before I give something away. Just know I was impressed by how well McNeil crafted that relationship. There's also some mysterious backstory that is not only relevant, but beautifully weaved into the story, building up Bridget's world as something much bigger and more complex (also, cooler...way cooler) than I'd imagined. McNeil took a genre that has often felt hands-off for me and made it accessible and captivating, while retaining the creep factor that has eyes popping and fingers squeezing dents into the cover. POSSESS is a gripping (sometimes hilarious) thrill from beginning to end.

*Never once did she get near catatonia. She exaggerates. Ignore the lies. More like a state where you jump at your own reflection in the glass door.**

**Intentional 3rd person.

Be sure to check out what the other Bookanistas are highlighting today:

WE INTERRUPT THIS BOOKANISTA BROADCAST…to celebrate WRITE ON CON! For some fun writer insights and pep talks, click along to…
Christine Fonseca , Beth Revis , Jessi Kirby and Stasia Ward Kehoe

And, we know you MUST have your Thursday Bookanista reviews so here you go!
Veronica Rossi loves Legend
Shana Silver serves up a Maureen Johnson double feature of The Last Little Blue Envelope & The Name of the Star
Scott Tracey is awed by Anna Dressed in Blood
Bethany Wiggins howls over How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-Boyfriend
Carrie Harris is in a frenzy over Stupid Fast
Gretchen McNeil is spellbound by Witch Eyes
Carolina M Valdez and Shelli Johannes-Wells are passionate about Possess
Matt Blackstone blogs From Bedside

More ARCs Giveaway

This 3-ARC giveaway will run a little longer than usual, primarily because I want to be sure and get in reviews before the giveaway is over (or shortly after). But even without the reviews, believe me, they are all worth entering to win. No, really. You WANT these books.

(Click on book cover images to open summary in another window)

Daughter of Smoke and Bone
by Laini Taylor

by Bethany Wiggins

ASHES by Ilsa J. Bick
This ARC is SIGNED by the author.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER the More ARCs International Giveaway

This giveaway is international and ends Wednesday, Aug 31, midnight EST. You must be 13 years old to enter. If you win, you will need to provide an address for shipment. Under 18's must have parent/guardian permission to enter.

Thanks for entering, and good luck!

THIS GIVEAWAY HAS NOW CLOSED. Here are the winners:

Lola S.

SHIFTING by Bethany Wiggins

ASHES by Ilsa J. Bick
Maria (pronounced Mariah)

Congratulations, winners! Please email me an address to which I can send your book. 

Thanks so much all of you who entered! Please stay tuned to find out about my next giveaway, coming soon. Maybe tomorrow? Hm.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Whoa. It's been a long time, huh? Those of you who have been keeping up, you know I'm writing like a mother-freck. It's got me a bit a lot freakishly absorbed. So I ended up not posting a review/rec last week and now it's got me all kinds of behind because there are just so many books I've loved recently. But you should know today was my wedding anniversary, so I've been up to my eyeballs in busy. So I've only got one review and one ARC to give away today. But it's a doozy.

EDIT: I got a bit further in POSSESS and I'm totally digging it. Cannot put it down, although I should. It's 3:23 AM. Anyway, thought I'd go ahead and add it to the giveaway...I'm a genius. I'll try to give it a full review next week. I know I still owe you a full review of LOLA and PETER NIMBLE, too. I swear, coming up! I'm totally behind.

by Michelle Hodkin

unbecoming of mara dyer
Summary: Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.
She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.
She's wrong.


Dude. This book was NOTHING like what I thought it was. I mean, yes, okay, it was. I'm such an over-exaggerator. But really, it was nothing like what I thought. The thing is, I can't even really go into it without spoiling the whole book for you. Hm. Okay, I can tell you that freaky, unexpected stuff happens in this. You're not sure what is or isn't real--just as Mara isn't sure. It's a total mind trip that plants you firmly in the shoes of Mara Dyer. But in the midst of tripping, you will drool for one Noah Shaw.

Yes. I said it. The boy. The totally hot boy. As in, SMOking. Brains, beauty, and a killer British accent. Also, he's just cool, you know? The boy's got swag. He's the bad boy fantasy of every sixteen year old and cougar, yet he's just so nice in a totally unexpected way. So dreamy.

But boy aside, you also have Mara, a total crack-you-up--quick-witted with a flair for the snappy comeback. Mara and Noah together is pure magic. The story in this is fantastic--mysterious, full of twists and unexpected turns--but I could've read nothing but the dialogue and loved every minute of it. It's smart and funny and dripping with innuendo. The voice in this is just out-of-the-park killer. But it's more than just voice. Hodkin captured the essence of teenagedom: the layers of emotion and the drama, the youthful insecurity and self-focus (I need, I want, what did I do wrong, it's my fault, etc.)...and blossoming desire. Ohhhhh the desire. There's just this brilliant mesh of touches and teasing and boiling hot sexual tension.

And on top of it all, you get this story that is at once a contemp and a romance and yet also a paranormal (or is it?) and a psychological thriller (or is it?)--in essence a mystery with a sizzling romance. THE UNBECOMING OF MARY DYER is a fast-paced read that will have you slowing down just to savor and breathe it in. An unforgettable read. 


Win an ARC of THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin 


POSSESS by Gretchen McNeil.  I haven't finished reading this one yet, so I can't give it a full review yet. But I hope to soon! It's totally creeptastic and gripping so far.

(See its summary)

CLICK HERE to enter to win ARC of THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER and POSSESS International Giveaway

This giveaway is international and ends Wednesday, Aug 17, midnight EST. You must be 13 years old to enter. If you win, you will need to provide an address for shipment. Under 18's must have parent/guardian permission to enter.

Thanks for entering, and good luck!


Be sure to check out what the other Bookanistas are highlighting today: 

Elana Johnson sings out for Chime

LiLa Roecker thinks Epic Fail is a great success - with giveaway

Matt Blackstone feels The Pull of Gravity

Scott Tracey is entranced by Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Carolina M Valdez marvels at The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer - with Giveaway

Carrie Harris is spellbound by Possess


This giveaway has closed. Thanks so much to all who entered. The winners are...

POSSESS by Gretchen McNeil

Kaitlin S.

Congratulations, winners! Please email me an address to which I can send your book! Thanks for entering. Another giveaway coming up soon!

If you haven't entered yet, be sure to enter to win an ARC of DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, SHIFTING, and ASHES. Ends Aug 31, 2011, midnight EST.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Blog Neglect is Necessary

Okay, so, I've been kind of absent recentish. It's because I fell into a hole, see. I'm actually trapped in a cave. Help. I'm kidding, just leave me here. I'll get out on my own.

For real, I've been writing. I've got this manuscript I'm working on that is the most exciting thing I've ever written. I can't really tell you about it, except it's just, man, I don't know. It's got me by the throat. It's the toughest thing I've ever written, too, so it's killing me.

Dude, I wish I could tell you about it. It's like, well okay, it's paranormal, right? But it's also not now paranormal. And it's also in this setting that is not ours, but it's here. And there's all this thrillerish action and a love story and all these feeeeeelings.


Yeah, that did no good. I hope you'll get to read it.

Anyway, my blog neglect came at the same time as Livia Blackburne's article about writers blogging--and how it's a waste of time. Timely, no? I swear we didn't plan it. Anyway, the article is quite insightful (check it out). She doesn't say you get nothing out of blogging, merely that it doesn't equate to book sales, which may be true. It seems like it could be. But I also know that blogging--and actually anything you do can have an indirect influence on anything. I suspect that blogging can ultimately have an impact on sales, though it's difficult to know exactly how much if at all. The key is to really enjoy blogging then, right? Only do it if you derive satisfaction from it. That satisfaction may be all you get. I like blogging, I'm just not good at doing it every day*. I get far more satisfaction from blogging when I feel like it, and I rarely feel like blogging every day.**

But there's one major reason I don't blog super regularly. Well, two. One, because I don't only read my comments; I also try to reply to them (if you've got your profiles linked to an email) and/or visit your blogs (if you've got one), and this can take up a lot of time. So instead of cutting back on that stuff, I cut back on my online content. Perhaps that's not wise, but I figure blogging is about interaction, at least for me. Otherwise I'd just have a website.***

Oh yeah, and reason two...I have to write, and writing takes serious time. Not only do I have a family and a home and an addiction to clean clothes, I have that paranormal thrillerish thing going on and an absolute need to write. It's that or anti-anxiety meds. Also, I have an agent who sort of expects me to write. And I want to give that to her. Me writing equals happiness for both of us. Hopefully.

So. Know that while I'm not blogging, I'm either nurturing my family or sitting on my bed writing in clean underwear. Not the ones that say "Love it or lose it." Those are way too cliché for writing a love story.

But I do miss you. I do.

*I realize this sucks for planners. My apologies to you. But if it's easier, you can subscribe by email and then my posts will show up in your inbox when they go out and you don't have to check to see if I've posted. Although, oh my word, I feel like a douche even suggesting that you might be checking to see if I posted. Does anyone actually do that? I'd feel really stupid if no one does.

**This may be redundant.

***If you'd rather have more content and less interaction, I'm curious to know what you'd prefer, actually.

Oh hey! Before I forget...

If you haven't yet, be sure to check out my mini reviews and ARC giveaways of these YA books:

FURY by Elizabeth Miles, THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater, NOCTURNE by Christine Johnson, and SHELTER by Harlan Coben. This giveaway is international and it ends tomorrow, August 4.


Also, sidenote:

I should not have eaten graham crackers in bed. MISTAKE.