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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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The Dark Days of The Supernatural Tour – Coming To A Town Near You!

The Dark Days of The Supernatural Tour – Coming To A Town Near You!

The Dark Days of The Supernatural is going on tour! Authors from the series will be traveling to Naperville, Portland, Austin, Tempe and Lansing meeting fans and signing copies of their brand new books. Check out below to see what authors will be hitting the road and a full tour schedule.

Be sure to visit the official DARK DAYS Facebook page to watch a livestream of the Naperville and Lansing events.

The series of paranormal thrillers, supernatural romance and otherworldly adventures, features the seven new titles:

– Illusions by Aprilynne Pike
– Divergent by Veronica Roth
– Die For Me by Amy Plum
– Vampire Kisses 8: Cryptic Cravings by Ellen Schreiber
– Something Deadly This Way Comes by Kim Harrison
– Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
– Hereafter by Tara Hudson (on sale 6/7/2011)

TOUR SCHEDULE:

Naperville, IL

Tuesday, June 7th, 7:00 PM
Authors: Veronica Roth, Aprilynne Pike, Ellen Schreiber, Tara Hudson, and Amy Plum
Anderson’s, 123 W Jefferson Ave
*Livestream event

Portland, Oregon

Wednesday, June 8th, 7:00 PM
Authors: Veronica Roth, Aprilynne Pike, Ellen Schreiber, Tara Hudson, and Amy Plum
Barnes & Noble, 12000 SE 82nd Ave,

Austin, TX

Thursday, June 9th, 7:00 PM
Authors: Veronica Roth, Aprilynne Pike, Ellen Schreiber, Tara Hudson, and Amy Plum
Book People, 603 North Lamar Boulevard

Tempe, AZ

Friday, June 10th, 7:00 PM
Authors: Veronica Roth, Aprilynne Pike, Ellen Schreiber, and Josephine Angelini
Changing Hands, 6428 S McClintock Drive

Lansing, MI

Saturday, June 11th, 4:00 PM
Authors: Veronica Roth, Aprilynne Pike, Ellen Schreiber, and Josephine Angelini
Schuler Books & Music, 2820 Towne Centre Blvd
*Livestream event

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New Titles For ‘The Dark Days of Supernatural’ Coming Summer 2011!

New Titles For ‘The Dark Days of Supernatural’ Coming Summer 2011!

Discover seven new books from bestselling authors KIM HARRISON, ELLENSCHREIBER, AND APRILYNNE PIKE, as well as from debut authors VERONICA ROTH, AMY PLUM, TARA HUDSON, and JOSEPHINE ANGELINI, on tour this summer.

DARK DAYS OF THE SUPERNATURAL TITLES INCLUDE:
– Once in a Full Moon by Ellen Schreiber (released 12/28/2010)
– Unearthly by Cynthia Hand (on sale 1/4/2011)
– Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton (on sale 2/15/2011)
– Desire of the Dead by Kimberly Derting (on sale 2/15/2011)
– Afterlife by Claudia Gray (on sale 3/8/2011)

DARK DAYS FACEBOOK PAGEhttp://apps.facebook.com/pitchdark/

DARK DAYS FAN KIThttp://www.harperteen.com/feature/darkday

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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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