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Cam Gigandet Discusses His Past, Present and Future Entertainment!

Cam Gigandet Discusses His Past, Present and Future Entertainment!

With his striking good looks and dynamic range, Cam Gigandet quickly established himself as one of Hollywood’s brightest young stars. His assent began by honing his skills on television shows like “Jack & Bobby” and the wildly popular series, “The O.C.” It wasn’t long before the powers that be took notice and cast him in even larger roles. It was his role in a little movie called “Twilight” that helped to rocket him to a new level of stardom. It wasn’t long before he found himself starring opposite of many of the silver screen’s biggest names! His latest endeavor is Joel Schumacher’s new thriller, “Trespass,” which pairs him with the legendary Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman.

The film focuses on a private, wealthy community, where priority is placed on security and no exception is made for the Miller family’s estate. Behind their pristine walls and manicured gardens, Kyle (Nicolas Cage), a fast-talking businessman, has entrusted the mansion’s renovation to his stunning wife, Sarah (Nicole Kidman). But between making those big decisions and keeping tabs on their defiant teenage daughter (Liana Liberato), Sarah often finds herself distracted by a young, handsome worker (Cam Gigandet) at their home. Nothing is what it seems, and it will take a group of cold-blooded criminals led by Elias (Ben Mendelsohn), who have been planning a vicious home invasion for months, to bring the Miller family together. When they storm the manor, everyone is tangled up in betrayal, deception, temptation and scheming. Kyle, Sarah and Avery will take the ultimate risk to make it out with their lives – and their family – intact.

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Cam Gigandet to discuss how he got his start in the entertainment industry, his influences, what he learned from working alongside Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman and the challenges involved with making “Trespass.”

Cam Gigandet

What drove you to pursue a career in the entertainment industry instead of some other creative avenue?

I didn’t have the talent for anything else! [laughs]

Come on now! You do great work!

Thank you! But seriously, I just kinda fell into it. I moved down to Los Angeles for no real reason other to be where I grew up and then I fell into an acting class. Maybe it was just my upbringing. I played sports growing up, so acting and that creative lifestyle had never really entered my mind because I hadn’t grown up with it. When I walked into that acting class, it was just so eye opening, so new, different and exciting that I just knew that this was what I wanted to do! Once I made the decision — if you are going to make the decision to become an actor, it kinda has to be “all in and whatever it takes!” I never really had a backup plan, I never really had anything else! It had to be this, one way or another, this had to be the way I made a living. I have been fortunate enough lately to make a living from it

You are doing great so far! Who would you cite as your biggest professional influence at this point in your career and why?

I can honestly say that I would not be sitting here today, talking with you, if it wasn’t for my acting coach and dear friend, who I have worked with for 10 years now. Her name is Leigh Kilton Smith. She has really shown me the way and mentored me since I was very new, since I was on the “O.C.” even. She has really given me what I needed and the tools to make it in this career.

'Trespass' from Director Joel Schumacher

Your latest project is “Trespass.” What was it about the script or the character in particular that drew you to the role?

He is a character that has this belief that what he was doing was the right thing and it needed to be done. He is someone who, with his obsessive kind of nature, narcissistic even, has such strong beliefs that he was saving someone and doing the right thing. He thought that he was the one to do this, that he was the savior. That is kind of a scary notion, to think of someone who has that utter belief and there is a certain danger when you come across those types of people. That seemed so interesting to me and the fact that people like Nicolas Cage, Nicole Kidman and Joel Schumacher were involved. To be a part of something that they were all a part of was something that you can’t really pass up.

What was your process for bringing the character from the script to the screen? Was there a certain mindset you had to be in or do some research for?

For this one Joel and I had talked and there was a little bit of research because it wasn’t just an emotional journey that this guy went on, he had more medical types of issues! So, there was this obsessive narcissism that I had to research. It was always a process of asking why that he does the things that he does. If I could come up with answers that were interesting and use my imagination to justify what he does, it all began to fall into place after that. We were fortunate enough to have a few weeks of rehearsals before we started shooting, which is great because you get to try a lot of things out and throw ideas back and forth to see what sticks. There was so much playing around that we all sort of fell into our characters during that rehearsal process. If something didn’t work, we just left it alone.

It is an awesome opportunity for a young actor like yourself to be able to watch Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman in these rehearsals and on set. Did you learn a lot from your time with them?

Of course! They are both such pros! Both of their processes are so different but both so valid. You can really pick and choose what you want to learn from each. Nicole is a pro 100% of the time. To watch her work through a scene is amazing. She does it with such grace and she is stunning, so it is easy to pay attention! [laughs] She always seems to understand what she is doing, there are no wasted movements, there is always a purpose. That is a trait that I wish I could possess! Nic is more free-spirited, quirky, just kinda different and just kinda lets it go and figures it out along the way. He isn’t afraid to try this, throw this and say, “How about this?” So, it was really interesting to watch the dynamic between the two of them. They are both so valid, so you just kinda have to find what you enjoy but there is always something to learn from people like that.

Joel Schumacher is an amazing director with many years of experience under his belt. What was it like working with him and what do you think he brought to the table on a project like this?

Nicole Kidman and Cam Gigandet

Ya know, I don’t know how he did it! He had always said that the biggest moment on a movie for a director is hiring the cast. He really meant that and I always thought that once the director had his cast he is going to tell them this or tell them that but Joel gave us so much freedom as actors to explore and create these characters. For a director to give up that type of control can be one of the hardest things for a director to do, I can imagine. The fact that he could give us that freedom just shows the trust and faith that he has in us and us to him. We always knew that we were in good hands and that he was never going to let us go in the wrong direction, he would always lead us back. He does that with such ease and calm that you never feel that there is any amount of pressure. That is when you really get to explore and have fun, when you don’t have that pressure that can sit over you when you feel that the director doesn’t like something. Joel takes everything with a grain of salt and he is just so calm and easy that we were never really worried. Joel was great and I loved working with him on the film.

Looking back on the experience from an acting standpoint, what was the biggest challenge in making this film?

One of the more obvious challenges that not only I faced but all of the bad-group-of-people faced was wearing these masks for an extended period of time. It has been done before but wearing the masks and having to focus everything through the eyes and gestures is very different! That was definitely a new experience for me and I think it was definitely a challenge that we all enjoyed playing on this project. Other than that, there were no challenges other than having to stay at the level of Nicole and Nic! [laughs] Rising up to that challenge was very welcomed!

Cam Gigandet

Looking back on your career so far, how do you think you have evolved in your craft since starting out?

It doesn’t matter if I watch “The O.C.” or even “Trespass,” I always feel that every time that I watch something that I have done, I wish that I could change it or do something differently or I am like, “What were you thinking there?” It always kinda goes through your head. But overall? I don’t know. I think that it is all a learning process. I feel like if I keep getting more comfortable and if I keep taking more risks and trying new things and exploring, I will be OK! I don’t want to sit and judge what I do too much because then I will become obsessed with it and I will lose any confidence that I had! [laughs] Once things are over, I will try to let them be in the past!

You have played many diverse roles. What other projects should we be on the lookout for in the short term?

Hopefully this will all work out but I am shooting a pilot in a few weeks for TNT called “Gateway.” It is a western! Hopefully, if everything goes according to plan, that should air sometime next year!

That is great and it sounds like a great project for you! We will be here to spread the word! Is there anything you want to say to your fans before I let you go?

Yeah! Just that I love them all and to keep going to see anything that I am in! [laughs]

As a fan, I certainly will! All the best to you, Cam! I am sure we will be talking again soon!

Sounds good! Thank you!

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Three Clips From Vincent Lannoo’s Horror Satire ‘Vampires’

Three Clips From Vincent Lannoo’s Horror Satire ‘Vampires’

In Vincent Lannoo’s wonderfully twisted horror/satire VAMPIRES, the rituals and the strict codes of the undead are uncovered by a documentary film crew with the help of a family of vampires living in suburban Belgium.  Get an inside look at a family bored with immortality as they take every advantage they can suck out of the country’s social system in this believable mockumentary film that will make you wonder if this underground culture actually does exist.

Check out the three chilling clips from the film below to see a glimpse at the lengths these creatures of the night will go to in order to survive!

Recently called “a bloody good time”, VAMPIRES is now available to watch on demand from IFC Midnight, via Comcast, Cox, Cablevision, Time Warner, and Bright House.

Synopsis: They did it! They made a documentary on a bunch of vampires!

A family of vampires, bored with immortality, lives in Belgium, eats illegal immigrants, children, handicapped folk, and takes every advantage they can suck out of the country’s social system.

Samson, a seventies throwback, lives his 55th year like he’s forever 20. Grace, an eternal teenager bent on being human again, keeps committing suicide. George, the patriarch, manages as best he can, heading the eccentric family and its on-going squabbles with the neighboring vampires.

It turns out vampires must keep to a strict code. They are, for example, prohibited from sleeping with their leader’s wife. That’s where Samson went too far… Now he and his whole family are exiled to Quebec, where even vampires have to work for a living!

A fresh, biting comedy from Vincent Lannoo!

Get more ‘Vampires’…

IFC Films Official Site: http://www.ifcfilms.com/

IFC Midnight on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/IFC-Films/110646698964366?v=app_161166570562699

IFC Midnight on Twitter: @IFCFilms

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Book Review: Dark Days of The Supernatural – ‘Cryptic Cravings’ By Ellen Schreiber

Book Review: Dark Days of The Supernatural – ‘Cryptic Cravings’ By Ellen Schreiber

Cryptic Cravings is the eighth novel of the Vampires Kisses series by New York Times bestselling author Ellen Schreiber. It is also part of HarperTeen’s summer Dark Days of the Supernatural series, giving young minds and adults alike the paranormal romance and dark mystery they crave.

Raven Madison’s “morbidly monotonous” town of Dullsville has finally become the epicenter of excitement with the addition of her vampire boyfriend, Alexander Sterling, aka secret vampire-in-residence. Although concerned about when, or if, he will induct her into eternal vampire-hood, Raven is blissful as his mortal girlfriend. Her excitement is taken to the next level when the star-crossed lovers happen upon a group of vampires making residence in the town’s rundown old mill

Her bliss is mixed with woe when she learns the group of bloodsuckers not only includes friends of Alexander but also former-foe Jagger and his equally adversarial twin Luna. Jagger’s secret plans for a new club, the Crypt, in Dullsville are discovered by Raven and Alexander. With a checkered past, can Jagger be trusted to open a mortal-friendly dance club or does he have other plans?

Raven is torn between wanting a dance club in her boring town, a club that will meet her macabre desires, while also wanting to keep Alexander’s existence a secret and the town mortals safe. Her torment is further complicated by Alexander’s friend Sebastian and his fiery romantic relationship with Luna. Will Alexander ever give Raven the bite she craves?

I am familiar with Schreiber, having reviewed “Once In A Full Moon” earlier this year. I was drawn to the interesting werewolf love saga hidden within the pages of ho-hum storytelling. With that in mind, as well as her status as a New York Times bestselling author, I figure she has a significant fan base so there must be something to the Vampire Kisses series to keep readers coming back for more.

“Cryptic Cravings” begins with Raven admitting “Dullsville” was “no longer dull” because she’s madly in love with Alexander and witnessed a vampire bite for the first time in her “vampire-obsessed existence.” It took me a page or two to realize Raven wasn’t being sarcastic, her town really is named Dullsville. The town she wishes she lived in, several towns away, is Hipsterville. Schreiber should describe the towns, especially what makes them boring and hip, instead of simply calling them Dullsville and Hipsterville. Please, I can figure it out when you describe boring and hip aspects of the towns. I understand it’s meant to be humorous but I found it distracting.

Also, Raven’s been obsessed with vampires her entire life, yet, as I learn later on, has a normal family? How did this happen? Perhaps it was explained in a previous novel, since there are seven books filled with information about Raven, but instead of Wednesday Addams from “The Addams Family” I don’t see how Raven could be named Raven and be obsessed with vampires since birth (as she admits) with mom, dad and nerdy brother nuclear family unit. Also, she’s been living according to her own rules since she was born, which makes no sense and is a cliched phrase.

Obviously I’m over-analzying and should read on, enjoy the lighthearted fluff and relax, a la authors like Janet Evanovich or a theatrical romantic comedy.

So, I read on. I thought, perhaps this book would appeal to the goth/outsider crowd but then realized it’s somewhat demeaning. Insulting in its use of cliche after cliche and fumbling writing.
Trying to stay positive, I thought maybe as a teen I’d like to read this and went back and forth over this thought until I figured not so much.

Reading this story reminded me of when something trivial happens yet makes you crack. Maybe someone cuts you off in traffic or makes an offhand comment about your bad hair day. Whatever it is, it’s the cherry on top of countless things building up over time. With “Cryptic Cravings” I underlined and circled flaw after flaw, cliche after cliche, inconsistent and unlikely happenings and inconsistent characters to the point it became too much, taking it past the level of light, silly reading to ridiculousness.

Raven has pale skin, black fingernail polish, combat boots, lavender lipstick and uses corpse white cover-up. Fine. That’s information needed to develop a picture of her character. However, Schreiber took this to the next level, using terms such as a “morbidly monotonous town,” the smokestacks on the building resembling “grave markers,” Jagger driving a hearse and Scarlet a white Beetle painted to look like a skull, Raven listening to music by The Skeletons … there are morbid and wickedly cool outfits, wicked nail polish, morbid matchmaking, a haunting dance club … OK. I get it. She likes death and vampires. Stop suffocating me.

Other terms seemed out of place, like the use of soda jerk, as well as overly cutesy descriptions, including head-over-Doc-Martens, her house of Hello Kitty cards falling down, and blowing the coffin-lid off the secret identity of her vampire boyfriend. Overkill.

I get fluff. I love fluff. It’s fun, lighthearted and easy-to-read for teens and also for adults, who want to escape from serious adult-land for pages at a time. I understand. However, many things in “Cryptic Cravings” are absurd.

Raven and Alexander are peeking in on Jagger and Sebastian at night, trying to find out their plans, and Raven’s foot slips. The jig is up and the vampires hear but, luckily, a pigeon was walking along the window ledge so Alexander tosses a twig near the bird and it, in turn, is startled and flies away. Nocturnal pigeons in the country. Interesting.

Also, everything happens so fast. Raven goes back to investigate the club the next to day to see what’s been accomplished (in one night) and sneaks into a room filled with the vampires sleeping in coffins. When reaching Jagger’s coffin she hears the faint sounds of breathing? Breathing? Do they breathe? Schreiber used all the vampire cliches — turning into bats, nocturnal vision, sleeping in coffins, hanging out in cemeteries, inability to see their reflections or show up on film — but they breathe? They also seem to chew gum and drink strawberry shakes as shown by Luna, and Alexander and Jagger can flush red with anger. Hmm. Luckily Raven finds blueprints for the club so her secret mission wasn’t in vain. How convenient. She takes part of the sketching because Jagger “wouldn’t notice if one was missing.” Um, yeah he would.
More absurdness includes Raven’s friend Becky taking pictures of the vampires, who keep not turning up in the photos, but no one seems to show major concern when she whips out her camera, except for a few isolated times.

Also, Raven uses a flashlight on another secret fact-finding mission even though she’s with Alexander, who can see in the dark. Her flashlight must not work too well since she still manages to hit her head, which bleeds and fills the room with an intoxicating scent for the vampires they are trying to hide from.
Other absurdity includes Alexander parking his car a “safe distance” from the mill, so safe it never is seen by people or vampires driving by the abandoned building in a town known for wildfire gossip, must be some hiding spot! Alexander has an alter ego, Phoenix, which is basically him in a costume, yet no one knows. Must be some costume.

Also, Alexander and Raven know Jagger has a secret room to his club and they can’t get access. They confront him and he turns on “headbanging music” and they “all danced for a few hours.” What? New way to win arguments with my husband or friends, just turn on Megadeth mid-argument.

Also, I found Raven’s character confusing, especially how she went back and forth between obsessively wanting the dance club for the town but being concerned for Jagger’s secret plans, the safety of the mortals in the area and the safety of Alexander’s secret as a vampire. The dance club wins, which doesn’t make much sense.

The story is set in a cliche goth vs. prep town. Raven and her vampire friends look macabre, as is expressed through Schreiber’s dark-adjective heavy prose, and everyone else is cliche prep, going to the country club and described as Prada-bees wearing paisley and athletic boys who are secretly attracted to goth girls. Only Becky and her boyfriend seem to be between the black and white extremes, somewhat. Even Jagger, with his jagged and edgy white hair, mismatched eyes and “Possess” tattoo is mesmerizing to Raven. A cliche girl in a cliche world.

Also, the word nefarious was used more than 10 times (maybe 15 or 20 considering I lost count) in the 211 page easy-to-read book. It reminded me of Vizzini in “The Princess Bride” with his overuse of the word inconceivable. When used among a sea of simple terms, nefarious stands out. When used in excess, it becomes ridiculous. Another overused word is cryptic. Cryptic cravings, cryptic cage, cryptic of all clubs, cryptic clique, cryptic endeavor? In the words of Inigo Montoya, “I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Some of the cliches that stand out include: “It was as if he had touched my soul” (Alexander can touch and, also, see into her soul), “Adventure ran through my blood just as much as oxygen did,” and “His soulful eyes stared into mine and I kissed him with all my love.”

I know. I’m dissecting a book meant to be lighthearted. I should take Schreiber’s series for what it is, fluffy, silly, fun reading. The crop circles part was creative, as well as the underlying story. Also, Schreiber’s a bestselling author with a significant fan-base.

However, there is lighthearted reading and then there are books that make no sense, whether you are a young reader or an adult looking for fun supernatural romance. “Cryptic Cravings” is absurd. For all the Ellen Schreiber fans, keep reading, keep enjoying her books because absurd or not, reading is fun because it’s an escape from reality, an escape into another world.

To learn more about the summer supernatural series, visit www.harperteen.com/feature/darkdays/summer/

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Book Review: Dark Days of the Supernatural – Amy Plum’s ‘Die For Me’

Book Review: Dark Days of the Supernatural – Amy Plum’s ‘Die For Me’

“Die For Me” is the debut book by author Amy Plum and part of HarperTeen’s summer Dark Days of the Supernatural series. The story follows 16-year-old Kate Mercier who is uplifted from New York to leave her past, including memories of her recently deceased parents, behind for a new life with her grandparents in Paris. Although she has her sister, Georgia, for support, she finds the loss unbearable, spending most days indoors until getting the nerve to leave the dark shadows of her bedroom and sit alone in cafes, losing herself in classic literature while her sibling takes on a different therapy treatment, attempting to forget the loss by frequenting various Paris nightclubs.

One day, while lost in Edith Wharton’s “In The Age of Innocence,” Kate catches a young man watching her and an instant spark ignites. He is breathtaking, with longish black hair, olive skin and sea blue eyes complete with thick black lashes. Swoon-worthy. Kate soon learns his name is Vincent and the dance of romance begins, a romance not only hindered by Kate’s fear of loving and losing again but also Vincent’s mysterious, supernatural fate as a revenant — an undead being whose condition forces him to sacrifice his life for others forevermore. The drama is further complicated with a centuries-old battle between good and evil.

Should Kate risk everything for love?

The opening of the story, with Kate clinging to the past when her parents were still alive, creates a character forcing sympathy. Her parents died a week before Christmas and she describes herself as being too “shell-shocked” to put up a fight when her older sister decides the two of them will uproot to Paris. So sad. So instantly I like her, at least feel sorry for her, and form a bond. You can’t dislike a character whose parents just died! My bond deepened pages later upon learning she wears a size 10 shoe … as a fellow victim of larger feet, I couldn’t help but smile.

The reader is soon introduced to Vincent and his description, when Kate first locks eyes on him, is detailed enough to give an idea but leaves the reader open to imagination with terms like “young and beautiful” and “strikingly handsome.”

Although the book is criticized for Kate falling quickly in love with Vincent, I wasn’t so put out by it because, to me, it’s typical of teenage emotions. Kate’s first dates with Vincent are awkward, she spends countless hours thinking of him but is not sure of her feelings. She’s impulsive, rational and emotional. Typical teenage girl behavior if you ask me, especially when Vincent buys a beautiful necklace for a friend with Kate’s help. She quickly becomes jealous, figuring Vincent has a gorgeous girlfriend to match his gorgeousness. When Kate learns about the supernatural qualities of Vincent’s existence, her response is authentic. She doesn’t jump headfirst into the Twilight Zone but ponders various solutions to the dark magic before her eyes.

I also enjoyed the setting. As you read Kate and Vincent’s love story, you also get a view at the loveliness of Paris as they visit restaurants, museums, cafes and other sites. As a small-town American, everything seems more interesting when it’s taking place in Europe.

Although it may seem slow at the beginning and rushed at the end, I enjoyed the buildup to learn more about Vincent and his supernatural fate. Kate doesn’t know what’s going on and neither do I. The plot continues to thicken and become curiouser and curiouser, as I sit back and enjoy the ride … this is because when Kate happens upon some chance information about Vincent’s secret early in the book, it seemed too easy for a coincidence. I found myself thinking, well … maybe it’s fate and she was supposed to find it or maybe the author is just lazy. That’s when I decided reading is about fun and I’m going to go with it and this book, enjoy it for what it is — a fun, summer read. With most books it takes many pages to get into the story, get used to the author’s quirks, and finally get in the groove.

Although a fun read, the book also has negative aspects.

“Die For Me” reeked of the Twilight series with Kate’s introverted personality, unusual teenage sophistication and scholarly love for classic literature. Also stinking of Twilight-ness is her choice between a normal life and love, the quick path into obsessive, lost-without-each-other longing, Vincent’s impossible beauty and strength and his coven of revenants, their attempt at staying away from each other makes them both depressed and mentally unwell, Vincent is old fashioned and respectful towards the “main event.” Hmm … only thing missing was Kate wanting to become a revenant. Looks like Amy Plum should have also thanked Stephanie Meyer for inspiration in the Acknowledgements at the end of the book. However, don’t all books come from an author’s inspiration from other works?

A side note: In her Acknowledgements, as well as jokingly referenced in the story, Plum refers to the revenants as zombies and her book as a zombie love story. Huh. Zombies creep me out so I haven’t sat through many zombie films but, thanks to a fascination by the main man in my life, I am well versed in zombie.

Yes, the most celebrated zombie in literature and film is a dead person reanimated, not simply the Voodoo legend of a hypnotized person. These zombies are typically flesh-eating and are brought back to life after a pandemic disease.

So, revenants were once alive, died, and brought back to life with no real explanation. OK. Also, zombies serve the dead and revenants serve whoever brought them back to life by feeling a deep need to save people from death so, perhaps, that’s similar. However, that’s where the comparison ends.

Zombies are without consciousness and self-awareness. They respond to stimuli, i.e. brains, but definitely aren’t as human-like as the revenants, which resemble some sort of angel, being brought back to life to serve God. Revenants are gorgeous, strong and athletic, eat regular food and are mentally their former selves.

Another negative aspect is the story is ripe with cliches, including Kate feeling she knew Vincent as they gazed upon each other for the first time and “the world around” them froze when their “eyes first met.”

However, for all the cliches and ridiculous metaphors — especially the barf-worthy kind like “the warmth inside me transformed into a flow of lava” — Plum made up for these literary no-nos with the deep, insightful turmoil Kate undergoes, including her comment to Vincent, “If I were to end up loving you, I couldn’t live like that. In constant agony. Knowing that you were going to be resurrected, or whatever it is that you do afterward, wouldn’t be enough to make up for having to live through your death time and time again. You can’t ask me to do it. I can’t do it.” This, in addition to her inner turmoil (“And now I felt myself perched at the rim of the same black abyss I had finally managed to crawl out of a few months earlier. I felt the overwhelming temptation to lean forward, just an inch, and let myself fall headlong into its comforting darkness. The thought of letting my mind leave my body behind was tempting. I wouldn’t even need to be around to clean up the mess.”) helped me forget about the cliches and occasional cheesiness and focus on the best part of this story, Kate’s struggle with loss and love.

So, if you are looking for a fun summer book, read “Die For Me” by Amy Plum. Check out www.harperteen.com/feature/darkdays/summer to keep your summer reading supernatural!

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Book Review: Dark Days of the Supernatural – Aprilynne Pike’s ‘Illusions’

Book Review: Dark Days of the Supernatural – Aprilynne Pike’s ‘Illusions’

“Illusions” is the third book in the Wing series by New York Times bestselling author Aprilynne Pike and part of HarperTeen’s summer Dark Days of the Supernatural series. Released May 3, 2011, the story follows Laurel Sewell, a faerie attempting to return to a normal life among humans in Crescent City, Calif. with her human boyfriend, David, and human parents after time away in Avalon, aka faerie-land.

The book opens with Laurel’s first day of 12th grade, as life becomes not-so-normal again with the return of her guardian/former love interest, faerie Tamani, who is posing as a transfer student from Scotland. Tamani returns to protect Laurel from trolls, an enemy of faeries, who came to Crescent City to torture Laurel for access into Avalon, where they will wreak havoc of epic proportions. Well, this is speculation since, although evidence of trolls was found, i.e. footprints and bloody animal corpses, the usual tracking serums and traps are not working. A new magic is afoot.

Further complicating the dire situation is Yuki, an unknown type of faerie posing as a Japanese exchange student under the watchful eye of troll hunter Klea. Tamani and Laurel aren’t sure if Yuki and Klea are working for good or evil so they must secretly learn more.

With the addition of a love triangle between Tamani, Laurel and David — reminiscent of Jacob, Edward and Bella in “Twilight” — this story is full of faerie lore, menacing trolls and big life decisions involving true love and choosing between two worlds.

I’ve never read “Wings” or “Spells” so by page 21 I put the book down and turned to Google searching some background because I was beyond lost. I recommend starting at the beginning of the series because Laurel’s plight gets confusing without the background — especially since Laurel, David, Tamini and Laurel’s best friend Chelsea are well developed returning characters — and the storyline is interesting and fun. It’s a welcome change from typical teen supernatural stories featuring vampires, werewolves and angels with ancient folklore, magic, trolls and faeries.

Even though I didn’t have the whole picture without the background provided in previous novels, the story is fun and intriguing. I looked forwarded to reading on and digging deeper into who is after Laurel, whether Yuki and Klea are bad news, why the faerie magic doesn’t work, and if Laurel was going to choose Tamani or David. I found myself wishing I’d read the previous novels so I would fully understand the drama. It was like Pike was speaking in a different language, a language I wasn’t fully fluent in but one I understood enough to get by. The faerie heirachy alone is enough to confuse.

Although I prefer a sparkly vampire with a dark side, aka Edward Cullen, for my fantasies, Tamani brings a romantic edge that even got my ole cynical self saying, “wow.” The story is void of any adult sexual situations, making it appropriate for teens of all ages.

At times I found some of it not entirely believable in regards to the main characters’ responses to drama with trolls and Yuki and Klea’s plans, but then again I don’t know what teeanger-me would have done in this situation. Tamani is guarding Laurel from danger with the help of other trained faeries so he’s doing his job and, since they didn’t have a full picture of the trolls, Yuki and Klea’s plans, they couldn’t do much because their magic wouldn’t work… obviously this book has me interested enough to defend the characters so it did its job.

My favorite part of the story is the tension and doubt Laurel expresses as she attempts to choose between David and Tamani — I won’t spoil it, let’s just say Laurel doesn’t run away with the idea of happily ever after forever. She struggles with her feelings, which is so authentic, feelings of love as well as wondering whether she wants to return to Avalon or go to college among humans. Life isn’t easy – faerie or not!

So, for teens looking for a unique supernatural series for fun summer reading (or adults needing a quick escape) check out Aprilynne Pike’s Wings series by HarperTeen as well as other books in the Dark Days of the Supernatural series. When I think summer, I think summer reading!
Check out www.harperteen.com/feature/darkdays/summer — Kate Vendetta

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Danielle Harris Dishes On ‘Stake Land’ and Upcoming Projects!

Danielle Harris Dishes On ‘Stake Land’ and Upcoming Projects!

Danielle Harris is a certainly a familiar face to fans of the horror genre. Her role as little Jamie Lloyd from ‘Halloween 4? and ‘Halloween 5? laid the groundwork for what would blossom into one of the most unique careers in Hollywood’s most challenging genre. Never afraid to experiment or to follow her keen instincts when it comes to a role, Danielle continues to surprise her fans with each new project, be it in front of or now behind the camera! Besides her strong work ethic, her “no bullshit” approach to life, coupled with a winning smile and kick-ass personality, make her one of the most approachable and down-to-earth stars that one can encounter. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with Danielle to discuss her latest film ‘Stake Land,’ discuss the current fate of her highly anticipated autobiography, her upcoming film projects and much more!

You have a habit of selecting some very unique roles and projects that suit you very well. How did you first get involved with ‘Stake Land’?

Danielle HarrisThank you! Ya know, for this project, they kinda signed me. I wish I could say that I could go out and look for these awesome movies but I have been really lucky about having some really rad people contacting about doing these unique projects. It is kind of an interesting story. I was on Fangoria Radio when I was promoting ‘Halloween II’ and the group that was online with me was Larry Fessenden and Jim Mickle. I didn’t know who either one of them were at the time but we were all chit-chatting. I hung up the phone and a few weeks later I got a call from my manager saying that I had an offer for this independent movie called ‘Stake Land’.

They wanted to book me out for five months because there is a big break in the middle and wanted to start in August and not go back until November and then in December. Which was totally taking me out for getting any job for the second half of the year. But when I read it and thought, “Wow! Belle is throughout most of the story but doesn’t really have much to do.” I had three scenes or three lines. I was thinking, “What the hell am I going to do in Upstate New York, freezing my ass off and looking like a fat ass because I am pregnant in the film. Do I really want to do this movie?” [laughs] But I loved the script and I loved the relationships but there was so much that was left unsaid. It was really all about Jim Mickle and Nick Damici and how open they were to creating that as we went. From there, I decided to watch their film ‘Mulberry Street’. I called Jim to see if he was going to use the same DP as he used on that film because what the film looks like was going to play a major part in the story. It was such a big deal because if it didn’t look as beautiful as it does, I mean the film is fantastic, but the look is such a big part of it. He said that he was indeed using the same DP and as I talked to him I just said, “Ya know what? I want to do it! I have never played a character that was so much like me!” In all of the movies that I have done before I play a bad-ass or a sassy girl or a girl who has a real edge to her and, while that may be a part of who I am, I am actually a bit more like “Belle” in real life. I am kinda the mom, the caretaker, the nurturer to everyone. I felt like no one had ever really seen that side of me on film. I felt this film was a great opportunity to showcase those aspects.

I told Jim I would do it and before I knew it I flew off to Philadelphia and I stayed at Jim’s friends guest house and met the rest of the gang. We sort of created the characters as we continued because we kinda shot it in sequence, due to the changes in seasons and the weather changes. We became a family and I think that it shows on screen because you can really see the relationships starting to build as the movie progresses and I think that it has a lot to do with what was really happening behind the scenes as well, in real life. It is really fun for me to watch because I remember all of those days  and having to work fast and furious and freezing our butts off!

It sounds like you had a lot of great experiences in making the film. Any that spring to mind that you can share with us?

Danielle HarrisI remember day one where one of the scenes we are climbing down some mountain and I am afraid of heights! I am also wearing a dress and cowboy boots, I have a big belly and a backpack and a gun! Jim was like, “We’re gonna start here and cross this waterfall and climb way down there!” I looked at him and said, “You are kidding right?!!!” [laughs] And he was like, “No.” So, I was just like ,“Oh shit! Okay!!! Here we go!” [laughs]

My favorite scene in the movie for me is a scene where Belle just can’t go any further. She sits down on a rock and has that moment. “Mister” comes and swoops her up and she says, “My daddy used to carry me like this when I was a little girl.” and says, “I’m not your Daddy, kid” and we have that little hard ass line. I didn’t know how it was going to work. The first time it came out of my mouth, I just got hysterical and started crying. And then Nick started crying. I just thought, “Oh my god! This is magic!” because we had found “it!” Originally, Belle was supposed to be Mister’s love interest. When I got to set, it just didn’t work. It just didn’t feel right. There was something about it that didn’t mesh. We started to nix that and started to figure out the question of: “If she isn’t Mister’s love interest, who is she?” I sorta became the daughter, the mom, the sister, the wife, kinda fitting all of the feminine shoes and I was able to play all of those women in one and show a very soft side as well.

And I have to say that I don’t think that I have ever looked better on film! Not to toot my own horn! [laughs] I just don’t think I have ever looked better! I have never had more dirt and shit and horrible clothes and no makeup and no sleep and freezing my ass off and all of those things that you have to really be OK with yourself as a person to look that way on film! I mean, I am not an actor that gives a crap about that anyway. I mean, you have seen the movies that I have done before! I never get to look glamorous or be pretty in a movie! [laughs] Well, not for long anyway!

So, all those elements helped to show a very vulnerable side of me that I have never been able to do before. I don’t have a dad in real life. He passed away when I was little. I think that if my dad was around he reminded me so much of Nick because my dad was from Brooklyn and kind of a hard, edgy, chain smoker, with a kinda quiet bad guy type edge. I think that it was there from the very beginning, so since I didn’t have a real-life relationship with my dad, that I was able to create that on film with the Mister character and in that scene, you can see it a little bit. It came from love and I think that is why this movie is so close to my heart.

You are regarded as a horror icon at this point in your career. What does your experience with the genre allow you to bring to a project like this?

Ya know, not with Jim. Jim is such a visionary. He is just so smart and talented. He knew exactly what he wanted. Working with Nick for as long as he has and knowing that they are so passionate about it, I didn’t really have to do anything but show up! They were so open with what we wanted to do and letting us create and play. I have been so lucky, having done so many horror movies, that most of the directors are usually, if not always are fan-boys. They have grown up loving this industry and the genre and know it better than I do, even though I have been living it my whole life! They are just so excited to a) be making a movie and b) to have me on set. So, it is rare to have an opportunity like ‘Stake Land.’ It was a great playground! There is definitely nothing that I could teach Jim! We all did these short films that will be online in the coming weeks that tell the back stories of all the characters, because the movie just throws you into the middle and you don’t know where anyone has come from. That is something that I really love. There is no exposition, it just is what it is and where they have come from is not important, it’s about where they are going. We did want to explain a little bit of that.

Seeing that I am trying to direct now and I am trying to get some projects together, mostly in the horror genre because that is where I want to stay for a while, because this is what I know and I love! There are no females that do this and all the leads are female most of the time, which I know because I am the lead most of the time! [laughs] Anyway, they offered me the opportunity to direct one of the back stories for “Lily”. I wrote it, directed it, shot it and loved it! It was amazing but like any other first time director, there were things that I just needed an opinion on. I called Jim and said, “I need you to watch this. Something is just not working and I need your help!” He did and between himself, Larry Fessenden and Graham Reznick, who edited it along with doing the sound design for ‘Stake Land’, who is brilliant, we were able to figure out what the issue was and we fixed it. It is unbelievable now! So, if anything, I learned from these guys! It is the Adam Greens and the Rob Zombies and while I may have worked on more movies than they have, I learn from them!

That is great! It is exciting to hear that you are taking that step to be behind the camera!

Thank you!

When we spoke last year, I know you had been working on an autobiography to chronicle your life in the industry. I wanted to touch base with you on that and find out the status of that project.

Danielle HarrisI had hired a writer and we wrote quite a bit together, because I am not a writer. I am a great storyteller and a great reviser but when telling your own story, it is kind of hard to take yourself out of it. We worked together for a while on it but when I got the outline of what each chapter was going to be about it just didn’t sound like my voice. It was more about who I knew in Hollywood growing up, in the industry and my generation. Ya know, I am kind of in between River Phoenix and Lindsay Lohan, in that little group. In real life, my boyfriend now is Corin Nemec, you know from ‘Parker Lewis’ and ‘Stargate’ and a bunch of genre projects as well. We went to Corey Feldman’s house a couple weeks ago for his house warming! So, as you can see, I live in this weird little world but these are my friends. I think that what was happening was that I wanted to tell the real story about my life and my struggles and me as a person but all that was coming up was these kind of “Hollywood” or “What would sell in a book” for someone that didn’t know anything about the horror series. That isn’t really what I am interested in writing. I think that is why I have had such great success and have fans say that they love reading or hearing what you say and we are fans because “you keep it real!” With me, there is no bullshit! I don’t want to sugar coat my life.

In my life, like I mentioned earlier, I didn’t grow up with a dad because he died when I was a little girl. He was in the mafia. My parents sold drugs. I have this really crazy story that I want to tell because it is really important to me. It just didn’t read well. I thought, “this is just garbage.” I am not going to write a book just because I am trying to sell something. That is not me. So I nixed it, until I can write it myself or find a writer that wants to keep it real. I don’t care if five people buy it but for me to sell 5 million copies it has to be “Hollywood crap” and I just don’t want to do it.

I also read that you had an animated series of sorts based on your life. What can you tell us about that?

That is with the guys at Halo 8! We go back and forth! Poor Matt Pizzolo can never track me down! [laughs] That all started with me being sort of fascinated with animation side and graphic novel side of things which I haven’t really tapped into except for when we worked on ‘Godkiller’. Matt is so creative and I thought it would be so cool to do something else together. I wanted to present the idea of what it is like to grow up in the horror genre and be with all my other little friends in that genre or who grew up on TV shows and show what our real lives are like. I mean, it is kind of funny, I went to New York City for ‘Hatchet II’ and there was this whole big party at Planet Hollywood and I brought a hatchet with me. I was posing on stage with this hatchet and there are about eight people who have come to see me! It is just kind of funny to me! This is so ridiculous that this is going on the wall! My hatchet! It’s kind of like that or the conventions that I do where there are a bunch of has-been ‘80s actors, who are actually very talented, working genre actors, mixed in with porn stars or wrestlers! [laughs] So, I kinda want to incorporate all of that kind of stuff into an animated series for Adult Swim or an adult oriented animated show like that. But I have so much going on that it sometimes takes a back seat.

What’s happening with Horrorgal.com?

I am still trying to get that up and running. I have so much video and footage for that but I just take on too many things at once and nothing ever gets done! [laughs] I am trying to tackle one thing at a time right now.

What other projects are on the horizon for you?

Danielle Harris

I will tell you what I have already finished that will be coming out this year. I have ‘Night of The Living Dead: Origins 3D’ with Bill Moseley (House of 1000 Corpses) and Tony Todd (The Candyman). That is a CGI, 3D animated film for Sony. I play “Barbara” and it is set in current day New York City. From what I have seen, it looks out of this world! Literally, so bad-ass! I also have have ‘The Victim’ with Michael Beihn (Terminator) and Jennifer Blanc. They are two very good friends of mine and you can check out the film at www.grindhousethevictim.com. I play a coke-head stripper which is something that I have not done before! [laughs] So, that was kinda fun, especially since Jennifer is one of my best friends and it was great to be able to work with her. My favorite work as an actor so far is a film that I finished at the end of last year called ‘Shiver’ with John Jarratt, who I adore. Julian Richards directed the film. It is a role that I had a really hard time with emotionally. It is a really dark and horrible, psychological thriller and it is quite fantastic! I have never worked harder in my entire life! That is saying a lot for all the people who have seen what I went through in ‘Hatchet II,’ it literally almost killed me! [laughs] I am really proud of all that work! I am in a movie called ‘The Trouble With The Truth’ with John Shea and Lea Thompson, just the opening scene and it is not a horror movie! I am obsessed with ‘80s movies so I had to work with the two of them! ‘Hatchet III’ has been greenlit and I just signed on to do a movie called ‘Unbroken’ with Tony Todd, who is a buddy of mine. It is a small part in an independent movie but I love the script and really want to be part of it!Thanks for you time, Danielle!

Thank you!

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Be sure to follow Danielle Harris on Twitter at www.twitter.com/halloweengal. Also, check out our exclusive interview with Jim Mickle and Nick Damici about the creation of ‘Stake Land’ at this location. >

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Review: ‘Dark Days of the Supernatural’ Series – Part Five

Review: ‘Dark Days of the Supernatural’ Series – Part Five

The final book in Harper Collins’ Dark Days of the Supernatural series is Kimberly Derting’s “Desires of the Dead,” offering readers a fresh twist on the paranormal.

The bulk of Violet’s life features likely teenage dilemmas: she’s adjusting to dating to her lifelong best friend Jay, who, in turn, is spending a lot of time with a new friend, new-kid-in-school Mike. Although it’s difficult for Violet to share Jay’s time and attention, even more difficult is Mike’s little sister, Megan, who shows an unhealthy admiration for Jay.

Although this sounds like run-of-the-mill high school drama, the other part of Violet’s life makes this book a supernatural thriller. Violet can sense the echoes of people and animals who have been murdered and the matching imprint clinging to their killers. Having only shared this uncanny ability with her family and Jay, she draws unwanted attention after discovering the body of a young boy and calling in an anonymous tip to the police. When the FBI catch her on a surveillance tape making the call, Violet must decide whether to keep her ability a secret or trust an agent she hardly knows.

To had more flame to the fire, Violet becomes the object of a dark obsession and discovers tragic and dangerous secrets from Mike and Megan’s past. All this drama intermixes in “Desires of the Dead,” the sequel to “The Body Finder.”

I enjoyed Derting’s escape from the typical post-Twilight books, i.e. vampires, werewolves, oh my. Too much of a good thing can be a turn-off so her focus on a supernatural mind was refreshing.

Beginning a book by a new-to-you author is similar to learning a new language, their style and word choice is difficult at first, but after 20+ pages — or several language lessons — it becomes easier. In Derting’s book, after 24 pages you get used to her voice while also getting to the good stuff, as in Violet leaving a friend she’s hanging out with to follow the echo of a deceased animal or person — she’s hoping for animal. The echo, marked by the sound of a harp, calls to her and leaves her unsettled. She must find the body.

Violet’s strange connection to the dead makes this book enjoyable, as well as the occasional chapters told in the point-of-view of Violet’s obsessed stalker. However, Derting’s writing is somewhat clumsy and, at times, frustrating. It could use tightening and she should choose a specific level of diction — either use terms like “impenetrable fortifications” or write sentences like “But sleep was all she actually got.” You can’t have it both ways.

All in all, I enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone wanting a quick and easy read to feed a supernatural taste for literature. For teens and tweens, it contains some sexual situations so parents be aware.

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Review: ‘Dark Days of the Supernatural’ Series – Part Four

Review: ‘Dark Days of the Supernatural’ Series – Part Four

Claudia Gray’s New York Times bestselling Evernight vampire series continues with its fourth book, “Afterlife,” concluding the romantic and dark adventures of Bianca and Lucas.

The lovers must learn to deal with their new existence: Lucas as vampire and Bianca a ghostly wraith. Although Lucas spent much of his human life hunting and despising the creature he has become, he must live as one and learn to control an almost uncontrollable thirst for human blood. For help, Lucas returns to a mainstay of the series, centuries old boarding school Evernight Academy. The school is where the couple met and a sanctuary for vampires.

Bianca and Lucas are determined to stay together, even if wraith and vampire is the ultimate odd couple, but face further obstacles when they discover a secret war against wraiths at Evernight Academy — wraiths being the natural enemy of vampires. Although Bianca’s recent transformation revealed supernatural powers, the sanctuary they hoped for is very dangerous.

Lucas and Bianca overcame many obstacles throughout the series, but with the battle between wraiths and vampires on the horizon and their difficult new existence, can they survive “Afterlife”?

For those already in the know about this series — which includes “Evernight,” “Stargazer” and “Hourglass” — you more than likely read “Afterlife” soon after it hit bookstores Feb. 15, 2011. I must confess, Father I have sinned and never read any of the books. So, I began “Afterlife” with no knowledge of the well established love between Lucas and Bianca, their dangerous adventures, and their friends and family, including reader-favorite Balthazar who is at the center of Claudia Gray’s fifth Evernight novel (which is in the works).

Although unenlightened and starting this book as if there was an inside joke no one would let me in on, the story made up for my ignorance. It was like solving a puzzle and although I was without background, it was well written and provided an easy but enjoyable read with a unique and strong basis.

The book featured enough action to keep me focused: the vampire killer group Black Cross, supernatural characters and events, well developed characters in their own right, and even humor — comparing two fighting wraiths to a fluffernutter sandwich as a gooey, sticky mess. Each character, from Bianca’s teacher parents to token human friend-to-the-vampires Vic, was well developed and multi-dimensional.

I enjoyed the clean writing style, the flow of the story and how the book is told in the point of view of Bianca. This provided a great feel for her character, which in turn contributed greatly to the story and other characters.
The last 150 pages were filled with surprising character developments, twists and action building to the unexpected ending (no spoilers).

Although it includes great life lessons, including liking people for who they are, it is more suitable for older teens since it includes some crude humor (vampires lusting over an ovulating classmate) and a few sexual and adult situations.

The Dark Days of the Supernatural series continues to provide excellent mysteries filled with paranormal romance mixed with the supernatural — a great recipe for a book. “Desire of the Dead” by Kimberly Derting is the last book in the series. As I began the story I couldn’t help but worry I would suffer from supernatural overload. However, bravo Harper Collins for ending the series with a great twist: teenager Violet holds powers allowing her to sense the echoes of people who were recently murdered as well as a connection to their killers. Another dimension to feed my supernatural appetite!

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Review: ‘Dark Days of the Supernatural’ Series – Part Three

Review: ‘Dark Days of the Supernatural’ Series – Part Three

The third book in Harper Collins’ Dark Days of the Supernatural series is “Angelfire,” the debut novel by Courtney Allison Moulton and first volume in a triology.

For the most part Ellie is a normal high schooler who enjoys hanging out with a close-knit group of friends, going to the movies and shopping. Upon meeting her in the first chapter, she is a struggling student who spends most of her time in class bored, more interested in her 17th birthday party and finally getting a car. That is, normal except for the nightmares — every night Ellie is tormented by violent dreams featuring herself as a sword-wielding badass, battling monstrous reapers who hunt her in the darkness of the Grim, a world unseen by humans where demons live. Although terrifying, Ellie sees this torment as only nightmares, choosing to ignore them for the most part.

When Ellie meets Will, a 20-something hottie, her centuries-old past is awakened, including her connection to him, feeling she’s known him for years, as well as feeling on the verge of remembering secrets and a life before her own. On the night of her birthday, Will, who serves as her guardian, awakens Ellie’s power as Preliator, the only mortal in the world with the power to fight reapers and keep them from eating humans, dragging their souls to Hell to create a powerful army for the Second War between Lucifer and God — the Apocalypse.

Ellie has been fighting as Preliator for centuries but is slow to remembering her skills, purpose and history. It’s usually 18 years between cycles but Ellie’s soul has been asleep for over 40 years, for reasons unknown to her and Will, making fighting the battle between the angels and the Fallen even more difficult. Things are further complicated with Bastian, a powerful reaper who is working to awaken a supernatural being that can destroy Ellie’s soul forever and bring forth the End of Days.

This book is full of badass fight scenes with a young heroine who fights terrifying monsters and her own incertainty. The secrets of her past are slowly awakened, especially with help from Will, but mostly feature frightening events — including dying and being reborn over and over and “awakened” at age 17. I love this basis, taking a common human source of worry — God, Lucifer, Hell, demons, souls — and turning it into a trilogy. I also love Will’s character, a 600-year-old vigilante and guardian angel of sorts who is torn between his duty to protect Ellie and his centuries-old love for her, a love that is forbidden.

Ellie’s development throughout the book is believable and, although frustrating, understandable as she comes to grips with her existence as Preliator while confused by what she’s known for 17 years — she’s a normal, human teenager who urges for a normal life with plans for college and marriage. She must balance these desires for teenage activities, like movie nights with friends and homework, with her duties to save the human race from destruction. I enjoyed Ellie’s development as she learned more about her past, which leads to taking her job more seriously. This development was also enjoyable with the bond between Ellie and Will — full of romance mixed with Will’s duty as her protector and his ability to know when she is upset or troubled. He is the ultimate white knight.

The trouble with the book was the writing. At times it was bulky and constricting. There are books written with great detail to develop believable characters and add to the story and then there are books in need of a hacksaw to tighten the structure. While the author created believable characters, especially Ellie, a great story and world filled with frightening reapers and kickass battles, she could cut some of the book out. Clear and concise writing creates a good flow that is easier to understand, especially important with “Angelfire” since the concept is complicated — different types of reapers with different abilities, centuries old supernatural beings, myth vs. truth. I found myself editing some of the sentences. Maybe it’s my years spent working at a newspaper, but the golden rule from a former boss flooded by mind as I read this book: “Say the same thing in less words.”

Overall, I enjoyed this book and recommend it for any teenager or adult looking for a female heroine and true romance mixed with dramatic fight scenes and dark, supernatural creatures. As Ellie tries to remember her past, she must believe in herself and her abilities as Preliator while also keeping the compassion for humanity she developed as a human.

The Dark Days of the Supernatural series continues to please, especially the next book, “Afterlife” by Claudia Gray. Vampires, ghosts, oh my!

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Review: ‘Dark Days of the Supernatural’ Series – Part Two

Review: ‘Dark Days of the Supernatural’ Series – Part Two

As I continue through Harper Collins’ Dark Days of the Supernatural series, I encountered “Unearthly,” author Cynthia Hand’s debut novel.

Two years ago, 16-year-old Clara Gardner’s life, as she knew it, was thrown off balance when it was revealed she’s part-angel, also known as being an angel-blood. In addition to being stronger, faster and smarter than humans — and a quick learner whether it’s her first time on the ski slopes or riding a horse — Clara’s status as part-angel also means she has a purpose, which is revealed through her increasingly vivid dreams. After deciphering these nightly (sometimes daily) visions, which feature a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger she must save, Clara and her family (half-angel mother and part-angel brother) move from their home in California to Wyoming to find him. Clara discovers her destiny living in a small town through clues from her visions — his name is Christian, he’s a student at her high school and he is a total dreamboat. Clara feels physically and mentally drawn to him, something not easily explained.

As she prepares for her purpose — the forest fire that could come at any time — her life is complicated further with the battle between her love for Christian and feelings for someone else, as well as new dangers and challenges between good and evil and love and duty and her conflicting roles as angel-blood and teenage girl. When the raging fire comes to take Christian’s life, will Clara be able to save him?

I love reading a book that creates an escape. When, after reading for 30+ minutes, you look up from the book and wonder where the time went while you were lost in the world created by the author. It’s similar to meditation.

I loved the developed dialogue and characters in this book, especially Clara. Through refined yet subtly revealing dialogue and actions, especially with friends at school, the reader learns so much about Clara, helping her character become believable and relatable. This development gives the reader a closer connection to the story and characters, including Clara’s mother, a half-angel who is reluctant to give her daughter all the secrets of being an “angel-blood.” Cynthia Hand tells a great, detailed story.

I loved the premise of this book also, Clara as a part-angel trying to learn how to fulfill her purpose complete with wings and failed attempts to fly, dark angels, heaven and hell, and her inner struggle with typical teenage girl problems, i.e fitting in at a new school, friends, boys.
A quote from the book that sums up part of the unique premise best is, “I think that all the stories about supernatural creatures, like vampires, werewolves, ghosts, mermaids, aliens, you name it, could all be angel related. Humans don’t know what they’re seeing, but it could all be angels taking on other forms.” Pretty cool theory!

While this book is perfect for teenagers, complete with lessons on friendship, young love and making choices with a PG feel, I also recommend it for all ages. It’s a good book with a great story that will keep you interested up until the shocking ending (no spoilers)!
As for the Dark Days of the Supernatural, I am loving this series. As a young girl, dark genres were seen as masculine. I love this new wave of books with romance and genuine teenage girls mixed with mystic mysteries. I am working my way through the next book in the series, “Angelfire” by Courtney Allison Moulton and love Ellie, the reluctant badass, and the great backstory. More to come!

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