Friday, September 28, 2012

Freaky Friday: Let Me In

LET ME IN opens with a mix of disjointed images: a man in an ambulance burned by acid, a detective questioning the man in the hospital, a phone call from the man’s daughter interrupting the interrogation, the wind howling as the man jumps out of the hospital window, and finally himself a note with the words, “I’m sory Abby”.
After these quick flashes, we go back in time two weeks before the incident. A strange outcast boy, Owen, is dealing with teenage curiosity about sex, his parents’ nasty divorce, and bullying at school. New neighbors move next door - a girl who wears no shoes even in the snow and her father. The girl, Abby, warns Owen that they "can’t be friends". Then, the film shifts to a killer who murders a teenager and drains his blood in the woods. We’re shown that the killer and the new neighbor / father are the same man. But, things are not as they seem

The film’s lighting is amazing. In each scene, we’re treated to a new shade of color: red, yellow, blue, black and white. The colors reflect the mood, atmosphere, and action of the scene in grim detail. It’s also riddled with David Bowie songs (takes place in the 1980s), which I find incredibly amusing given the subject matter of the film.
As the film progresses, we learn the connection behind the disjointed images in the beginning, and it ties together surprisingly well, despite the shaky start. The two lead actors, Kodi Smit-McPhee as Owen, and ChloĆ« Grace Moretz as Abby, are brilliant and ridiculously adorable, even with the surrounding horrific events and questionable suspects behind them. The love between young Owen and Abby develops into a Romeo and Juliet story - the same play they’re reading in Owen’s class as well as watching - but it’s a love story with a severe twist. You’ll have to watch the film to find out what. Overall, despite being a little slow on the first half, it’s worth the watch.

Rating: B

Have you seen LET ME IN? What do you think of a horror twist on a Romeo and Juliet style story?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Celebrate Reading: Banned Books Week

Sunday, September 30th marks the beginning of Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read. For the thirtieth year in a row the reading community will come together to promote intellectual freedom and the right to express ideas. The American Library Association (ALA) along with tons of organizations across the country sponsor and support this important event.
To celebrate the Office for Intellectual Freedom is coordinating a 50 State Salute to Banned Books Week, which will consist of videos showing how each state’s community celebrates the freedom to read during Banned Books Week.
Virtual Read-Outs will also take place from September 30 - October 6th, so get those vocal muscles ready to make your video.
For more information about how you can get involved, check out the official website at Banned Books Week.

Will you be participating in Banned Books Week? 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

TEN by Gretchen McNeil: Join the Army

YA author, Gretchen McNeil's latest horror novel, TEN, releases this week. First here's a snippet of this awesome book!

TEN by Gretchen McNeil

And their doom comes swiftly.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

Join the ARMY OF TEN to win killer prizes!
The Army of TEN

If that's not enough for you, read all about it in this PW article and listen to Gretchen reading an excerpt here.

And don't forget to buy your copy of TEN today! 
On sale September 18, 2012 (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins)


Friday, September 14, 2012

Freaky Friday: The Possession

First, a big THANK YOU for all of the comments, tweets, and emails in regards to Wednesday's post. I am absolutely floored by the response and appreciate all the wonderful feedback.

Today, I am excited to have a special guest on the blog, fellow paranormal author, Danielle DeVor. I had the pleasure of meeting Danielle through the writing forums and we became fast friends through our shared love of all things weird, including horror movies! First here's a little bit about Danielle:
"I didn’t pop out of the womb as a writer, but I always had stories bouncing around in my brain. Usually, these stories were fodder from daytime talk shows mixed with whatever supernatural element struck my fancy that particular day. I love vampires, horror films, music, ballet, and animals.  I play the harp- which isn’t too common these days."

Is it any wonder why we get along? :) When Danielle talked about seeing the latest creepfest at the theater, she graciously agreed to review the film for our reading pleasure. Squee. Here's her take on The Possession.
The Possession Movie Poster
"Being a bonafide horror-film-fanatic, I pride myself in seeing the great majority of horror films that come out each year. Each time I do, I hope for something that will at the very least entertain me, and I really hope to find something that scares me. A movie that freaks me out is about as rare as finding a long-lost sister to the Hope Diamond. Yeah, I’m that desensitized.

So, keeping all of this in mind, I hauled myself to the movie theatre Sunday night to see the supposed frightfest The Possession. Since the movie is reported to be based on a true story, I first tried to find out what that true story was, at the of the release date for the film, I could not find it. So, with that already unsteady base for the film, I hoped that my fears of suckitude would be unfounded.

Basic synopsis is that a little girl begs her father to buy her the box at a yard sale. After having the box for only a few hours, the little girl begins to act strangely. She eventually opens the box and becomes possessed by the demon that lives in the box- known as a dybbuk box. Her father must find someone to trap the demon before he loses his daughter forever.
Jewelry Box
Could have been avoided with a simple, "I'm sorry honey, you can't have the demon-infested box." Kids!
Well, after seeing the film, I can say this about it. If you have absolutely no idea about demons, possession, and exorcism, then you will probably love this movie. I, being a horror aficionado, however, was bored by the similar conventions to other “exorcism” movies of late: The Last Exorcism, The Rite, Insidious, and The Devil Inside. Basically, to make The Possession, they cobbled together things they thought were scary from other films- such as: Objects moving by themselves, people being thrown about by an unseen force, and spooky “demonic” language.

Onto what I perceive to be as plot holes:

The family is not religious at all. So, when the father discovers that the box is a dyubbuk box, and his daughter is possessed by the demon inside it, I find it odd that the father doesn’t just follow information that has been about in horror films since the 1970’s. One would think that this would at least have been remotely mentioned in the movie instead of him suddenly randomly finding the name of a Jewish man who might be able to help.
Cartoon Demon
Demons are wily creatures who, when possessing a person, do not want to be discovered, so they do not try to convince people of their existence. [Spoiler Alert: Highlight with mouse to see] Even if possible to show up on an electromagnetic image, a demon is not going to appear to be wrapped around someone’s liver in an MRI. Come on people!

Demonic possession happens over time. We are talking weeks and months and years here. Not seconds. Not five minutes. This is something that movies like The Exorcist and The Possession conveniently forget. [Spoiler Alert: Highlight with mouse to see] Both films have a father or father figure who screams at the demon to take them instead, and the demon just willy-nilly jumps ship. And- you can see the demon reacting in the new host almost immediately. Really pathetic when the great majority of each film is spent watching the young child become possessed.

The “real” story:

The box was actually sold on Ebay as a wine cabinet. It contained things like hair, a wine cup, and some pennies. Everyone who owns the box has weird things happen around the house and medical issues like strokes, bronchitis, and insomnia. Nowhere in the history of the box has anyone ever been possessed. If they were- they’d be screaming it from the rafters in the hope of making money off the whole thing. So, while it isn’t the worst- like the weird lizard baby at the end of The Last Exorcism, or the gas-mask wearing medium of Insidious, it’s not good. Is it watchable? Yes. Would I recommend wasting your time? No. Go watch The Exorcist again- since it is the best exorcism movie made to date. And make sure to watch it in the dark. :)

My Rating: C-"

Thank you so much Danielle for this AWESOME review! I agree, nothing like watching The Exorcist in the dark. *shudders*

For you blog readers, be sure to check out Danielle's newest book, Riding on the Tail of the Devil, coming from Eirelander Publishing.

What do you think about Danielle's observation on the influx of the exorcism/possession trope in recent horror flicks? Thumbs up or down?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Writing Saved My Life

Angel amongst the stars
Fear not for us tonight
No matter how hard things are
In the end, we’ll be alright
They’ll be a new way of living
And a new life to love
For all the hell we’ve been given
Comes a freedom from above

I wrote this poem shortly after my mother died. For eighteen months, she battled stage four ovarian cancer that spread to other organs. She was forty-one. This November will mark thirteen years, she's gone. When I sat to scribble down my feelings about her death, the above verse came out. I was fifteen. For the first time in a long time, I had written something that didn't involve hate and frustration, something that didn't tear me up inside, something that wasn't about pain or suffering. It took my mother's death for me to finally write about hope, and life, and love.

Come with me to my field of dreams
Where the trees are the gate
Go past the redwood tree
And a little past the lake
Now, we are almost there
See the flowers
Smell the fresh air
The field of dreams is my wish
Real life is nothing like this

I was only five years old when I wrote this poem. My teacher, concerned by the last line, changed it to "So come with me to perfect bliss".  I let her, but it wasn't what I wanted. Even at five, it wasn't what I believed. My mother, so shocked and proud that I'd written this at such a young age and coupled with my high achievements in school, failed to catch warning signs that would later diagnose me with early onset childhood depression.

When I was caught in the depth of despair, I wrote about the blackness that surrounded me. Through it all, I shoved that pen across paper and stamped out my raging emotions in a real and visceral way. I look back on some of those early writings and shudder at the intensity of it. Yet, somehow, seeing it on paper pulled me through the turmoil.

The poems above are written ten years apart. First from the observations of a child about her world to a teenager trying to make sense of her mother's death. Somehow both convey an emotion I couldn't vocalize at the time.

Writing saved my life. 

As you can see, I didn't start out writing romance or urban fantasy. My first love was in poetry, then morphed into children's literature. Yet, I wound up where I am now. And it no longer surprises me. Paranormal romance and urban fantasy lend itself to the world of darkness. The monsters are truly monsters. Evil is raw, powerful and oh so frightening. Yet, with romance love is the main component of the story, and with fantasy the hero(ine)'s journey trumps all else. No matter how bad things get, no matter how dark or scary, in the end love will win, the hero(ine) will triumph. It may not be "real life" as my five year old self knew even then, but it gives us hope for what could be.

How has literature changed you? What experiences led you to where you are today?

If you'd like to support research, or know someone suffering from these illnesses, please click the links above or contact your local non-profit organization or medical professional.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Treasure in the Flame
by Brenda Corey Dunne

Today, I have the honor of sharing with you, Brenda Corey Dunne's debut novel, TREASURE IN THE FLAME, a historical fiction and fantasy adventure. I met Brenda almost two years ago through an online writer's chat on Twitter, #Writersroad. We became critique partners in an online writer's circle and fast friends. Although our critique circle dissolved, our friendship has remained strong. I am so proud to share with you her debut novel!

"Aminda Ingerham’s father will not wake up. The blacksmith’s lecherous son will not leave her alone. The sawmill workers will not accept her in her father’s place. And the Pastor’s spittle-flecked, fire-and-brimstone sermons are only making matters worse.

To save her father’s mill—and his life—fifteen-year-old Aminda must put her trust in a mysterious old tinker, a handsome village outcast and a troublesome treasure map, each leading her to strange and dangerous places she’d never imagined she’d go.

Only then can Aminda find the Treasure in the Flame."

Brenda Corey Dunne grew up in rural New Brunswick, Canada. She is a freckle-faced physiotherapist, proud mom of three avid readers, and wife to an air force pilot. When not working, writing or taxiing she can be found in either the garden or the paddock on her hobby farm…generally with a coffee in one hand and a book in the other. Treasure in the Flame is her first novel.

To pick up a copy of Treasure in the Flame check out these retailers:

And for more about Brenda visit her at these social media outlets:

Best of luck to Brenda with her debut novel! Check out the first few pages on Amazon today.