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.


  1. awesome ARC's :) Thank u for this giveaway!

  2. Thank you for the great giveaway. Funny review! I would like to read Possess ASSP

  3. Possess looks a creepy read and the voice that you mention seems add more creepiness as I imagine it. I'd like to try this one. Thanks!

  4. Wow, these are awesome books! thanks for the chance, yay!


  5. Thanks for the giveaway.

    These sound like very good reads.

    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

  6. Those covers look amazing~! I'm sure what's inside is even better :)


  7. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH what a great ARC giveaway. I'd trade in my last won ARC for this!

    (ok not really. ok maybe)

  8. Great review, this one is on my wishlist! Thanks for the giveaway!

  9. Thanks for another awesome giveaway =)You always have good giveaways!!

    Lisa =)

  10. Oh my gosh, I totally screamed with excitement when I saw this post on my dashboard! You have the awesomest giveaways! Great review, by the way :)

    Thanks so much for the giveaway!
    Guen @ Ezine of a Random Girl

  11. You keep adding more books to read to my list with all your reviews...I can't keep up! Perhaps I should quit grad school and be a full-time reader of wonderful books. Yep, sounds pretty good.

    Add me to the giveaway!

  12. Thank you for the giveaway! I'm really looking forward to Daughter of Smoke and Bone. :)

  13. I love your reviews, thoughtful AND entertaining.
    Possess sounds awesome.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  14. You've sold me on POSSESS. I really want to read it and thanks for the giveaway.

  15. Possess is not normally my kind of novel either... but you've intrigued me! Definitely going in the TBR pile. Have an awesome day!

  16. I've read Ashes and it was really good. The rest of the books look marvelous as usual :) Thank you again for a chance to win amazing books!
    impy80 at hotmail dot com

  17. Thank you very much for the chance to win♥

  18. Thanks once again for your super awesome giveaway!!*fingers crossed*

  19. I really want to read Shifting! Thank you for the giveaway!

  20. Awesome review - I'm a wimp too, but you've made me feel like I can handle it! :)

  21. this is such a great giveaway! I've been wanting to read all of these books!

    Kelsey d.

  22. Oooh, Shifting!! Great review of Possess, but there are just so many great books out right now I have no idea how to pick what to read next. ;)

  23. OMG, thank you so much. I so want to read Daughter of smoke and bone!! Possess seems so creepy and cant wait to read your review of Shifting.

  24. I love a good creepy book, especially one that doesn't take itself too seriously.

  25. Possess sounds like a great read, and I am dying to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone! Thanks again, as usual, for the fantabulous ARC giveaway!

  26. Great review of Possess!
    Thank you for the giveaway!

  27. Thanks so much for the giveaway! I really want to read these books! :)

    arallison at gmail dot com

  28. You know, I would definitely have given this book a pass if you hadn't written this review. Like you, I typically avoid this subject matter. Now I will think twice.

  29. They are some really great books there. I have Daughter of SMoke and Bone and Ashes on my "to buy" list.

  30. YAY!!!! Another awesome giveaway!!!


  31. Thanks for hosting - nice post.

  32. They all look amazing! Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

    darlenesbooknook at gmail dot com

  33. Wow, thanks for the great giveaway! :)


  34. All those books sound great! Thanks for a chance at winning them!

  35. man, i've been so busy i haven't had hardly any time to play around with writeoncon. Le sigh.

  36. You're the best, this batch is just sounding fantastic!

  37. isn't it supposed to wimp? or maybe it's whimp? i dunno.

    also: I LOVE YOUR REVIEWS! um, yeah.

  38. How cool. Thanks for the giveaway. ^^

  39. I wish I'd had more time for WOC this year. I was really involved last time.

  40. Thanks for hosting this great giveaway!!

    Networked Blogs Follower: SpadesHighReads
    Have a great weekend!! =)

  41. Thank you for your generous giveaway. <3

    And now I'm dying to read Possess even more! askjdf

  42. This is a wonderful giveaway. Thank you.

  43. Thank you so much for all your lovely comments, everyone! Good luck in the giveaway! I hope you all get a chance to read POSSESS and the others soon!

  44. You're right, I DO want to win these books! Thank you so much for sharing!

  45. I'm amazed at how awesome book covers can be! Thanks for the giveaway.

  46. thank you very much for this great giveaway !

  47. Thanks for the chance at these amazing ARC's!

  48. You always seem to have such great giveaways! Thank you for the chance:)



  49. Hi Carolina,

    This is my first time visit to your blog! A GFC follower and twitter follower too!

    Thanks so much for the fab giveaway.

    Tweeted about it at :!/judimello/status/104670644179976193

    Also mentioned the contest in FB.

    Totally count me in. You have me intrigued about the books already :)

    judimello AT gmail DOT com

  50. Thanks for the giveaway!!!
    I enjoyed reading your review of Possess!! I am so excited to read it! :)

  51. Another great set of ARC's. Thanks so much!

  52. Thanks for yet another wonderful giveaway! These all look incredibly interesting... :)

  53. I loved your vlog review of Possess. You were amazing. The special effects freaked me out like hell. And I bet you're still freaked out whenever you read Possess.



  54. Possess sounds great. I'm going to have to add it to my wishlist.

  55. Thanks for this cool contest. These books look amazing. I've been following Bethany Wiggin's blog for a long time, so I'd love to win her ARC. :)


  56. Oh, wow, do want! I've been wanting to read Ashes for ages... not sure I'm brave enough to read Possess, but I know I'l end up trying!

  57. Girl, you are on a roll. :)

    I'm dying to get my hands on Laini's Smoke and Bone. *crosses finger* (futile, I know, but, still, I try.)

    Happy Monday.

  58. I can't believe I forgot to enter this one! School has started and my brain has shut down.

    Thanks again for the giveaways!

  59. Thanks for this wonderful giveaway!

  60. Great giveaway! thank you **

  61. Thanks!
    I added contest to sidebar:

  62. Thanks for this amazing giveaway - I would love to win!

    susanw28 (at) mindspring (dot) com

  63. Thank you for this magnificent Giveaway!!

    My email address:

    madley (AT) cogeco (DOT) ca

    Thank you!


  64. AWESOME!

    Thank you for such amazing giveaways! <3

  65. I totally agree about clowns. Great review & giveaway thank you.


  66. Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

    Ashley Suzanne
    ashleysbookshelf at gmail dot com

    I also sell complete blogger designs for $40, or for trades. Let me know if you are interested. I would love to create you a design!

  67. This comment has been removed by the author.

  68. great giveaway! I'd love to win!

    I follow you on twitter - @star_light91


    Tasnim x

  69. New to your blog and excited to read more! Thanks for the giveaway:)

  70. Thank you for another totally awesome giveaway!

  71. Thanks for the great giveaway! Here is the link to my tweet:!/raychellej/status/108256790378057728

  72. Thanks for the international giveaway!


  73. AWESOME BOOKS!!!! Whoever wins is a really lucky person :) Used my personal email... flower_child101(at)yahoo(dot)com for this giveaway.

  74. How exciting!!!

    Tweet link:!/nat_isabel/status/108802770445942784

    Facebook link:

    Thanks for the opportunity. (:


  75. Eeeeep!
    Awesome giveaway!!

    princessintears AT gmail DOT com

  76. Fantastic giveaway!

    Laura Ann Dunks - follower

    lauradunks at googlemail dot com


  77. Great review! And thanks so much for the giveaway! I'm looking forward to all three of these books.

  78. Great review! I can't wait to read this.

  79. This comment has been removed by the author.

  80. Nice review. Books and more books. It's heaven.


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