Sunday, October 26, 2014

#PrivateSchoolProblems: Possess Review

This post is part of my blogtober celebration, my month-long blog party about all things creepy and Halloween-y! Don't forget I've got a ton of giveaways going on!

Possess by Gretchen McNeil ( web | tweet )
Release Date: August 23, 2011
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Pages: 379
Keywords: exorcism, demons, supernatural
Format Read: ARC via publisher (thank you!)
Rule #1: Do not show fear.
Rule #2: Do not show pity.
Rule #3: Do not engage.
Rule #4: Do not let your guard down.
Rule #5: They lie.
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.
First of all, I want to say I had NO IDEA this was THE Gretchen McNeil. Of 3:59, Ten, and Get Even. Yep, that girl. This is her debut, and I could not have been more impressed.
Initially I was too scared to pick this book up, and man am I mad at myself I waited so long. This ARC has been on my shelf for an embarrassing length of time (I'm talking since before it was published. That's when I got this). I'm also a huge fan of McNeil now, and I've actually got another window open as I type this buying 3:59 and Ten because I've not read those yet.

I really felt fully immersed into the story from page one, and it dumps you right into the middle of one of Bridget's first "banishments," her nicer way of saying exorcism. She's evidently got way more power than the priest leading her has ever seen, so she's his mentee learning on the job and attending all kinds of demon-ridding activities. You know, on top of being in high school and worrying about boys (there's a really cute one in this).

McNeil didn't hold back when it came to plot, and I was definitely surprised by some of the plot twists that happened. One left me sitting on the couch with my mouth hanging open because I just didn't believe it. Think Walking Dead plots, where no one and nothing is safe, no matter how much you like them.

The characters were great (um, steamy kiss scenes galore! That was a huge surprise considering the overall topic of the book), the plot was suspenseful and interesting, and I ended up reading this in one day, and I feel like I finally got out of my three-star-okay-books rut.
Below is a screenshot of my Goodreads updates (which I'm trying to do more of; they're a lot more fun than Facebook!)
I forgot about my problem with the cover — the fact that the character is Chinese is a pretty important point, and it seems like her whole family is, so I was a little confused why the girl on the front seems so American. But maybe that's just me? What do you guys think?

My general feeling about this book is GO BUY IT IMMEDIATELY. It was great. I'm very pleased with how it turned out. (Also was sad there wasn't a second because it DEFINITELY seems like the start to a series.)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

More Local Halloween Fun!

This post is part of my blogtober celebration, my month-long blog party about all things creepy and Halloween-y! Don't forget I've got a ton of giveaways going on!

I was going to post a review today of a book I FLEW through, but last night (being Thursday, since I'm writing a post for Saturday on Friday. But I digress), my family and I and some friends went to a pretty new Louisville event, I think it's in its second year. 

It's basically this big walk through Iriquois Park, Louisville's largest park (probably, it's huge), with 5,000 pumpkins per night, and they're all lit and illuminated, and there was music and sound effects and fog all over the place. All the pumpkins were carved by local artists, and when I say carved, I mean hella artistically decorated and scraped pumpkins. 

It was insane. 

So I thought I would share my experience there!

The theme was "A Walk in Time," and it started off in the prehistoric periods with some hella sweet dino pumpkins. If you know anything about me, it's my obsession with dinos. Especially triceratops and stegos. They're my favorite :) But it was too crowded right at the beginning to get any good pictures. It fanned out as we went, so I was able to get some more.

Next up was the Ice Age, and I snagged this super sweet photo of a SABOR TOOTHED TIGER. Be prepared. You're not ready for the ridiculousness that is this pumpkin.

I told you. It was insane. I loved this whole experience so much. From there we went through periods like the Viking Age (of which I got all excited because I could educate my mother about the importance of ornamentation on viking protection wear, and she promptly pushed me away so I would shut up) to the Middle Ages with Merlin, Arthur, and a sweet Robin Hood pumpkin. 

Next was more America-centered, with Columbus, a Declaration, Thanksgiving, and then we finally, after a long walk, hit pop culture row, where I got some cool pictures of my favorites like this lovely lady.

She's the most underappreciated Disney character, but I'll save that for another day.

This was an awesome event, and if you're in the Louisville area for Halloween, it's still going on through next Sunday, the 2nd, and I 100% say it's worth it. Totally.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Book Drinks: Catholic Cheers

This post is part of my blogtober celebration, my month-long blog party about all things creepy and Halloween-y! Don't forget I've got a ton of giveaways going on!

Welcome to the second installment of creepy Friday Book Drinks! This is a regular feature I created where I pair cocktails with books I'm reading because, you know, drinks are great! During #blogtober, though, it's been creepy books and their drink counterparts. Today's post comes to you from the point-of-no-return creepy.

This week I finally picked up my ARC of Possess by Gretchen McNeil. I'm only about 50 pages in, but it's pretty good so far. And I'll admit, I've had it on my TBR for an embarrassing length of time. All because I'm TERRIFIED of the cover. It just LOOKS like a truly terrifying book. So I'm not reading it at night.

But, the book started out supremely reminiscent of my Catholic school days, so instead of pairing it with a cocktail, this afternoon when I got home I poured myself a lovely glass of red wine and realized that was the perfect drink for this book. Very Catholic, very church-associated, and this book is all about (so far, anyway) exorcisms.

So what do you think? Does this cover creep you out as much as it does me? Doesn't red wine pair well with October books?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Showroom Nightmare: Horrorstor Review

This post is part of my blogtober celebration, my month-long blog party about all things creepy and Halloween-y! Don't forget I've got a ton of giveaways going on!

Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix
Release Date: September 23, 2014 (orig. January 1, 2014)
Publisher: Quirk Books
Pages: 243
Keywords: ghosts, paranormal
Format Read: finished copy via publisher (thank you!)
Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.
To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.
A traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting, Horrorstör comes packaged in the form of a glossy mail order catalog, complete with product illustrations, a home delivery order form, and a map of Orsk’s labyrinthine showroom.
Let's talk about the elephant on the blog: There's clearly no way I can ignore how awesomely packages this book is, so I'll begin there. It's designed like an Ikea catalog (which I ordered after receiving the book for review consideration because I'm cool and wanted to compare. Also I love Ikea), with the beginning of chapters featuring different products and their descriptions (which slowly got creepier as the story progressed, but I'll get there). There were coupons for the store, an order form, and a map of the showroom. It was all wonderfully put together, and even though I initially thought it would be difficult to read because of the different column sizes and text, it was not at all, and my ability to read the book was not at all affected by the design, making it a super win.

Next I want to talk about just how imaginative this story was. It wasn't scary per se, but it was one of those that left me turning the pages quicker because I really just wasn't sure how things were going to turn out. It took so many twists and turns that I couldn't possibly have tried to guess the outcome, nor would I have wanted to.

The story follows Amy, a disgruntled employee who gets volun-told to do this night shift, and she and her coworkers begin to see some weird stuff, like writing appearing on bathroom stalls and water stains they were sure weren't there a few hours ago. Tension mounts as they stumble upon more clues (and more people), and the book didn't hold back from leaning toward the realistic rather than idealistic outcomes (even though, you know, this was strange paranormal stuff happening in a furniture store).

It was also far creepier than the original plot I heard, which was zombies. I'm not quite sure what the actual thing would be classified as, but I am definitely pleased as it makes the story worthwhile and more believable, since there's a reason for all the stuff going on, albeit a supernatural one, but it makes much more sense than just brushing it off as an average zombie thing like TV and movies and lots of books are doing currently.

This wasn't a scare-the-pants-off-me read, but it was a lot of fun looking through the book and finding out what was going to happen in this one crazy night at the Orsk, and I really enjoyed the experience of the book.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Throwback Reviews: Killers & Secrets

This post is part of my blogtober celebration, my month-long blog party about all things creepy and Halloween-y! Don't forget I've got a ton of giveaways going on!

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll know at this point I'm struggling with Blogtober. I work two jobs, and I had scheduled all kinds of posts, but I've run out of pre-written posts, and I can't read my books fast enough. So instead of trying to make up some shitty content today (I don't want to do that to you guys), I'm going to post a few creepy books I've read in the past and do quick mini-sum reviews of them.

The pictures are linked to my full review if you want to go there!

Marie Antoinette: Serial Killer by Katie Alender
I really liked the general idea of this one — Marie Antoinette's ghost comes back to exact revenge on her enemies, and the heirs of people who sold her out. But the writing was pretty juvenile. The characters were stereotypical, and the plot was pretty predictable. But there is a cute, forbidden-romance student-tour guide kind of thing that goes on, and that was pretty enjoyable.

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
I feel like I'm the only person in the camp that didn't like this book, so you may want to not take my word for it. But even after reading it, I still am not totally sure what it's about. I know the main character is new at this boarding school, and he has a really dark secret that I don't really want to reveal because I think it's supposed to be a surprise, but I figured it out early on. If you want more info on how I felt about it, click the picture.

I've got two past reviews for today, and two that I may use in the future because I am quickly running out of topic posts. I have had a lot of fun this month, but I am looking forward to not blogging every day! It's been extremely challenging!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Creepy Classics: Agatha Christie

This review is part of my blogtober celebration, my month-long blog party about all things creepy and Halloween-y! Don't forget I've got a ton of giveaways going on!

For as long as I can remember, I've had an undying love for the queen of mystery, Agatha Christie. So much so, that when I was a senior in high school and we had to do big compilation projects on a classic British writer, when most people snagged up Austen or Marlowe, I jumped on the Christie train. I had Masterpiece marathons on PBS and checked out about 10 of her books from the library.
So today, I'm going to talk about my favorite creepy classics author & some of my favorite works!

Murder on the Orient Express
Though Miss Marple was my favorite leading detective, I absolutely loved this classic murder mystery. Hercule Poirot (I'm still not sure how to pronounce his name, and I've struggled with this for years) is the Belgian detective who gets a telegram (!!!) to return to London instantly, so he books a ticket that night. The train gets stopped by snow, and then all kinds of chaos (including spoiler, a MURDER!) happens that Poirot sets out to investigate.

This is the epitome of classic murder mystery, and the reason I love it so much is that it all takes place in one setting and one time; the entire story happens on the train. It's full of suspense and super classic "gotcha!" stuff.

The ABC Murders
This is another Poirot mystery, but this was, hands-down, my favorite when I was binge-reading all the Christie books. Poirot receives letters, each signed "ABC" with locations and dates of the next murder that will occur. The murders also happen alphabetically to people with alliterative names, Alice Ascher being the first victim. Poirot begins discovering connections when he speaks with a victim's widow, and it's a race against the clock to make sure he can stop the murders before the killer strikes again and lives up to his letters.

This one is very Criminal Minds-esque. It's a puzzle book, and you can't help but try and solve the murder before the characters in the book do. It's fun watching the clues unfold, and if you like a super suspenseful story you'll want to finish in one sitting, this one is it.

What's your favorite Agatha Christie book? Or are you new? Do these sound like ones you'd want to start with?

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Cleavers: The Savages review

This review is part of my blogtober celebration, my month-long blog party about all things creepy and Halloween-y! Don't forget I've got a ton of giveaways going on!

The Savages by Matt Whyman
Release Date: March 6, 2014 (orig. June 6, 2013)
Publisher: Overlook Press
Pages: 288
Keywords: murder, family, cooking
Format Read: ARC from publisher (thank you!)
Sasha Savage is in love with Jack - a handsome, charming ... vegetarian. Which wouldn't be a problem if it weren't for the fact that Sasha's family are very much 'carnivorous'. Behind the family facade all is not as it seems. Sasha's father rules his clan with an iron fist and her mother's culinary skills are getting more adventurous by the day. When a too-curious private detective starts to dig for truths, the tight-knit family starts to unravel — as does their sinister taste in human beings
It's safe to say I really wasn't sure what to expect when I got this book in the mail, and though I initially didn't like the cover, it's kind of growing on me. Especially Ivan, the young boy. Wow, is he creepy.

I was surprised how much I liked this gory macabre tale. It seemed like a normal family, and I liked how the narration style made the family's actions so normal-seeming. Though obviously their eating habits are far from normal, it was a funny take on the subject rather than just approaching it like a crime novel.

The book was also very British-humor-esque, in that it was pretty dry and straightforward while being humorous about the whole situation. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The story revolved around the family and the private investigator researching the family and trying to figure out why they were so weird. The narration was a third-person omnipotent sort of character, and it jumped around between the family members quite a bit. But, it wasn't hard to follow. I felt like I got to know each member of the family individually, and I wasn't overwhelmed by the hopping.

The private investigator is made out to be this large, fast-food-eating, disorganized sort of fellow, and I pictured him kind of like Vernon Dursley. He was made out to be the butt of the jokes, even though he was trying to stop the cannibal family, and it was all pretty entertaining.

I really liked the humorous spin on such a gory subject, and it brought up a lot of interesting discussions on people's opinions on food. It was also entertaining to read this book as a vegetarian. :)

And, to celebrate, the lovely people at Overlook Press have passed along a hardcover copy for one lucky US resident! Enter to win!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

On Internet Privacy & Cyberbullying

I'm taking a break from regularly scheduled blogtober (where I have 4 giveaways happening, btws) to talk about something that's extremely important.

I just had a huge wake-up call tonight (it's Saturday as I write this), and frankly, I'm a little scared to voice my full opinions. I know I shouldn't be, but it's got me second-guessing every word I write down here in the little box on Google that helps me make this blog post.

If you weren't on the internet in the past 24 hours, you may not be aware of the issue at hand, so I'll BRIEFLY run over it. I'm not going to link to the article, but I believe Jamie has a link you can use so it won't get hits on its counter, and I strongly urge you to use that link. Kathleen Hale, author of No One Else Can Have You, (a book I was already weary of reading because it's a Full Fathom Five novel. That's a whole other issue I won't go into today), released an article on The Guardian recounting how she became obsessed with Blythe, a blogger who had given her book a not-so-great review.

She got to the point where she paid for a background check, actively sought her out on social media, and rented a car to find her home address. If that wasn't enough, she obtained her work phone and called her while she was at her job. Hale's perspective is that since Blythe wasn't a real name, she was in the right by seeking her out since she had been fooled.

Using a blogger persona name is like using a pen name. It's okay.

Stalking is NEVER okay. Bad reviews don't mean bad people. It just means that particular reader didn't like a book. Big whoop. Stephenie Meyer and E.L. James seem to be doing okay career-wise despite literally thousands of terrible reviews.

I know a few bloggers who don't use their real names, and now I'm thinking they've got it right. Which leads me to my next point. I wanted to see just what kind of information was out there that, in the event I wrote a bad review, other people could have access to.

So, camped out on my sofa in the living room (with twitter open in another window so I could keep an eye on what was happening), I began to do some research. I brought up a basic site called I typed in my URL, and there, in plain text, was my phone number and my home address. On a public site. For literally anyone to see.

I began to panic at this point because I know VERY LITTLE about hosting and web stuff. My HTML knowledge is how to create a div and make images smaller. It's not how to fix hosting problems. So since the site brought up my info through GoDaddy, I called their support number. The guy I spoke with was very polite and didn't laugh at me when I said I had NO IDEA how to fix it, but I used blogger. He told me Google was hosting me, and that they weren't affiliated (I thought they were, that's why I called them), but all the information was pulling up because that's what happens when you register a domain. Your info gets put up on all the lists.

I hung up the phone, and I shut my computer. I was too frustrated at this point to continue. So I made some pizza, watched a Gilmore Girls, and regrouped.

Next, it took me a THOUSAND YEARS, or about 2 and a half hours, to log in as an administrator of my site. I couldn't figure out the username log on, and another phone call to google support left me more frustrated. So I was on a forum for a while before I finally found someone who had the same problem I did, and a solution to fix it. I was finally able to log on to my admin dashboard to see my domain information, and there, in plain site, was the link to who my domain was registered with.

I clicked it, and it took me to my dashboard there (for the record, it's registered with eNOM), and I found a tab that said contact information. FINALLY. I was so happy at this point. It had two bits of contact. First was registrant, which was all my information, and the second was a second-party, which fortunately, Google had registered under itself and provided an address and phone number. I just changed all my info to theirs, got rid of my last name, and hit change. All I had to do was verify the info through a confirmation email.

VOILA. I am so thrilled, and I feel so much more secure.

But my point is this: BE SAFE. Please know how much of your info is out there. Go to this site to find out if your info is visible, and work on taking it down.

I don't want to get into a big argument, but stalking is ILLEGAL, and I hope Blythe is taking the steps to let the authorities know, and there really shouldn't be any other side to this. Reviews are opinions, and they do not attack authors. I urge reviewers like myself to be certain you are only referencing the book in your posts.

But I really just wanted to write this to say be safe. The Internet is not always so friendly in our cozy little book corner. I'm so sad this happened in our community, but I love that we are sticking together to not tolerate something like this.

And if you need any help or have any questions about how to get your info down, I will help as much as I can. I don't know a ton, but I want to help you all feel safer as bloggers.

*hugs all around*

Saturday, October 18, 2014

What's Left on the TBR Pile

This review is part of my blogtober celebration, my month-long blog party about all things creepy and Halloween-y! Don't forget I've got a ton of giveaways going on!

After going through my schedule for the second half of blogtober, I realized I have WAY too many more books on my creepy TBR pile than days left in October. So I'm introducing my halfway point post. I'm going to post all the books I have reviewed this month, and all the books I still have yet to read. That way, even if I can't read them before the month is up, you'll know I still have good intentions!

Books Reviewed So Far

(click on the pictures to see my reviews)

Books Still on the Pile:
 (Yes, I realize there are actually more than 9 days left in October, but I've already got other things planned out, so there just aren't enough empty days on my blog to fit all these)

 Is there anything I should push immediately to the front of my reading list? I'm currently reading The Savages and really enjoying it. :)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Servants of the Storm Giveaway!

This review is part of my blogtober celebration, my month-long blog party about all things creepy and Halloween-y! Don't forget I've got a ton of giveaways going on!

And just as I say don't forget about the giveaways, it's time for another giveaway! This may be the last one in a blog post (keep your eye out for a Twitter giveaway. Not following? Click that bird in the sidebar--->) because I want to give everyone plenty of time to get entered.

Today, the very lovely people at Simon & Schuster have so kindly sent along a copy of Servants of the Storm by Delilah Dawson (I LOVE her name so much) to give to one of you lucky readers! This cover is beautiful, and you are definitely going to want this on your shelf.

Servants of the Storm by Delilah Dawson
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 384
Keywords: fantasy, horror, mystery
Goodreads | Book Depository
A year ago Hurricane Josephine swept through Savannah, Georgia, leaving behind nothing but death and destruction — and taking the life of Dovey's best friend, Carly. Since that night, Dovey has been in a medicated haze, numb to everything around her. 
But recently she's started to believe she's seeing things that can't be real ... including Carly at their favorite cafe. Determined to learn the truth, Dovey stops taking her pills. And the world that opens up to her is unlike anything she could have imagined. 
As Dovey slips deeper into the shadowy corners of Savannah — where the dark and horrifying secrets lurk — she learns that the storm that destroyed her city and stole her friend was much more than a force of nature. And now the sinister beings truly responsible are out to finish what they started.
Dovey's running out of time and torn between two paths. Will she trust her childhood friend Baker, who can't see the threatening darkness but promises to never give up on Dovey and Carly? Or will she plot with the sexy stranger, Isaac, who offers all the answers — for a price? Soon Dovey realizes that the danger closing in has little to do with Carly ... and everything to do with Dovey herself.