Awake at Dawn

Caution:  Read Born at Midnight, the first book in C.C. Hunter’s Shadow Falls series, before continuing.  (And if it’s been, say, a year and a half since you read book one, you might want to reread a bit to refresh your memory.  Take my word on this.)

If it’s not apparent from the above warning, I read Born at Midnight about a year and a half ago while on a trip with my dad to Indianapolis.  (We were going to see the Colts—namely Peyton Manning—play the Jacksonville Jaguars.  It should go without saying that we are now planning to see the Denver Broncos play somebody.)  Since I was reading an ARC of this first book in the Shadow Falls series, I knew I’d have a long wait before I read book two.  Well, as often happens, life—and other books—got in the way, and I didn’t make time to read book two, Awake at Dawn, until this week.  (Luckily, I don’t have to wait for book three, Taken at Dusk.  It’s already out.)  Anyway, life continued to get in the way this week.  Thanks to meetings, lawn care, and being completely exhausted from dealing with the end of the school year (we only have one week left), it took me the entire week to read Awake at Dawn.  (For those who know me, it is rare for it to take longer than a few days to finish a book.  I read Mockingjay in eleven hours.)  Part of my problem was also that I couldn’t remember what happened in the first book, so I had to spend a little time skimming through Born at Midnight.  Even then, it was hard for me to get immediately invested in what was happening in Awake at Dawn.  Eventually, the story managed to suck me in, and I couldn’t wait to turn the next page.

Kylie Galen doesn’t know what she is, but she does know that her “gifts” are not normal, even among the supernaturals at Shadow Falls Camp.  She communicates with ghosts, which freaks out the other campers—which happen to include witches, vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and shapeshifters.  One of the ghosts that visits Kylie is telling her that someone she loves will die if she doesn’t do something, so Kylie has to figure out the ghost’s cryptic messages while dealing with the craziness that has invaded her own life.

In addition to dealing with her father (who is a ghost), her mom and step-dad splitting up, her roommates (a moody vampire and a rather absent-minded witch), a best friend who is growing more distant by the day, and her own insecurities about her supernatural abilities, Kylie also has problems with her love life.  (Doesn’t everyone?)  Derek is part Fairy and has been a calming presence in Kylie’s life while everything else seems to fall apart.  Lucas is a werewolf who skipped town with a she-wolf but still manages to invade Kylie’s dreams.  Kylie’s head is telling her that Derek is the one she should be with, but her heart is a bit more confused.  When she learns that Lucas—and the horrible you-know-what he left with—are returning to Shadow Falls, Kylie is more conflicted than ever.  She knows she must follow her heart, but she doesn’t want to hurt anyone…including herself.

While Kylie’s love life is in turmoil, her actual life may be in danger.  She senses that someone has been watching and following her, but she can’t get a real grasp on why anyone would be interested in harming her…or worse.  When she finally realizes who—or what—is on her trail, it may be too late to save herself or even the people she cares about the most.

Will Kylie be able to save herself and those closest to her?  Will she ever figure out who she is and where she really comes from?  Can Kylie choose between Derek and Lucas, two great guys who both mean so much to her?  Will her life ever be normal again?  Uncover the truth when you read Awake at Dawn, the second book in C.C. Hunter’s Shadow Falls series.

Like I mentioned above, it took me a while to get into this sequel.  In fact, the action didn’t really pick up until I was about halfway through the book.  After that, things positively flew by, and it didn’t take me very long to finish the second half.  And I’m so invested in the characters now that one of my next reads will be book three, Taken at Dusk.  I’m really interested to see where these characters will be taken next…especially considering how things ended with some of them in Awake at Dawn.

For even more from the world of Shadow Falls, you can check out a special eBook short story, Turned at Dark, which tells more about Della Tsang, Kylie’s vampire roommate.  (I just got my very first Nook, so I’ll be adding this one to my library.)  In addition to the third book, Taken at Dusk, which is already out, there will be a fourth book, Whispers at Moonrise, and it’s scheduled for an October 2nd release.

If you’d like to learn more about C.C. Hunter and her Shadow Falls novels, visit http://www.cchunterbooks.com/news.html.

The Son of Neptune

Before I get to my latest read, I’d like to wish everyone who follows this blog a very merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, wonderful Winter Solstice, and lovely Festivus for the rest of us.  I hope everyone’s holidays are super!  I spent half of today finishing a great book, so my Christmas is off to a great start!

I’ve been meaning to read The Son of Neptune, the second book in Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series, for a couple of months now.  Life (and a few other books) have prevented that from happening, but I finally got around to this book during my much needed winter break.  (Of course, my students had a little to do with this.  They want to talk to me about this book, so I promised them I’d have it read before we returned to school in January.  I am a woman of my word.)  Now that I’ve finished The Son of Neptune, I wish I had read it sooner.  Like all of Rick Riordan’s books, it’s a wonderfully complicated story filled with secrets, tragic heroes, danger, and help in unexpected places.  I was engrossed from the very beginning–especially since the story started off with Percy Jackson–and, now that I’m finished, I’m eager for the next installment.  I hope that you’ll feel the same.  I will warn you, though…if you haven’t read the entire Percy Jackson & the Olympians series (The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan’s Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, and The Last Olympian) and The Lost Hero, read those before starting with The Son of Neptune.  All of these books are beautifully connected, and I wouldn’t want you to miss out on something important.

In The Son of Neptune, Percy Jackson has just risen from a very long sleep. He doesn’t remember much of anything. He only knows his name and that he’s fighting two gorgons (sisters of Medusa). His only hope of surviving is to get to the camp for demigods that’s nearby. Something about Camp Jupiter seems familiar, but it seems a little off to Percy…and the residents of the camp think there’s something a little off about Percy as well.  He’s not exactly welcome with open arms, especially when it becomes clear that he is a son of Neptune (a bad omen at Camp Jupiter).  In this Roman camp, people seem to recognize that there something a bit Greek about Percy, and Romans and Greeks don’t exactly have a history of getting along.  Percy knows his true place isn’t at Camp Jupiter, but he soon discovers that he has a part to play in helping the camp survive…

Immediately upon arriving at Camp Jupiter, Percy encounters two young demigods who become his instant friends:  Hazel and Frank.  Hazel is a daughter of Pluto who is hiding a bunch of secrets, including where (or when) she came from and her role in Gaea’s war against the Olympus.  Frank is seen as a bit of a loser and is still waiting to learn who his godly parent is.  When the answer he’s always waited for finally arrives, Frank is less than pleased with his father’s identity, for it means that his life is about to get a lot more complicated.  (He’s not wrong.) 

Percy, Hazel, and Frank are sent on a quest to prevent Gaea’s giant Alcyoneus from taking the war against Olympus to the next level.  There’s a bit of a problem, though.  (Isn’t there always?)  The three demigods have just a few days to make it from San Francisco to Alaska, and they have to battle lots of monsters along the way.  They’ve also got to make a few important pit stops to communicate with potential allies (who may or may not have their own agendas).  On top of that, once they deal with Alcyoneus, who cannot be killed in his home, they’ve got to return to Camp Jupiter to help save the camp from the monsters on their way to destroy it.  Easy peasy, right?  Yeah…not so much.  On this journey, secrets will be revealed, old (and new) foes and friends will be encountered, and the young demigods will encounter Death himself.  Will they be able to complete the nearly impossible task before them, or will Gaea find a way to further her cause against Olympus?  Will Percy regain his memory?  If he does, what will it mean for his life at Camp Jupiter?  To find the answers to these questions and more, read The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan!

It should go without saying that I thoroughly enjoyed The Son of Neptune. It is a great book for readers ages 9 to 99.  The things that I loved about Riordan’s previous books also apply to this one:  fully developed characters, an intricate plot, tons of action, friends and enemies in unexpected places, and a liberal dose of humor.  I can’t wait to see where the third book, The Mark of Athena, takes us.  It should be an interesting ride.

By the way, The Mark of Athena is scheduled for a fall 2012 release.  In the meantime, I urge you to read Riordan’s Kane Chronicles series–The Red Pyramid and The Throne of Fire.  There’s no word yet on when the third book in this series will be released.  Also, I heard recently that Rick Riordan may be writing a series centered around Norse mythology when he’s done tackling Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians.  If you’d like more information about Rick Riordan and his amazing books, visit http://www.rickriordan.com/home.aspx.  Happy holidays!

Born at Midnight

I’m back!  After thinking I was going to be stranded in Indianapolis thanks to four inches of snow (which would practically cripple us here in South Carolina), I am finally home and ready to get back to normal.  I did finish one YA novel on my trip, an ARC of C.C. Hunter’s new book, Born at Midnight.  This book isn’t scheduled to be released until March 29th, so I was thrilled to get my hands on an advance proof of this first book in what is sure to be a wonderful new supernatural series for teen (and adult) readers.

In Born at Midnight, readers are introduced to Kylie Galen.  Kylie is going through some tough stuff.  Her parents are getting divorced, she and her boyfriend just broke up, and she gets caught at a party where drugs and alcohol are prevalent.  (She was innocent, of course.)  After the party incident, Kylie’s cold, distant mother decides to ship her off to Shadow Falls Camp for the summer.  This camp deals with troubled teens…but neither Kylie nor her mom truly realize how troubled these teens may actually be.

Kylie soon learns that Shadow Falls Camp is a refuge for troubled supernatural teens–witches, vampires, werewolves, fairies, and shapeshifters.  At first, Kylie denies she is anything like these “freaks” and does everything she can to make that point clear with anyone who will listen.  Gradually, however, she comes to accept that she may not be all that normal.  She becomes best friends with a witch and a vampire, and she has not one but two love interests.  Derek is a seemingly safe fairy, and Lucas is an anything-but-safe werewolf that Kylie has encountered previously.  While Kylie is dealing with new friendships and love interests, she’s also coming to terms with her own abilities and what this might mean for her future.

Strange things are afoot at Shadow Falls Camp.  Will Kylie embrace who she is and be a part of this new world, or will she do everything she can to return to her so-called “normal” life?  Read Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter to find out!

In this post, I just hit the basics of this awesome book.  Since I’m one of the first to review it, I didn’t want to give too much away.  I will say that the book left a lot of room for sequels, and I hope to see several of them.  There is so much the author can do with the characters at Shadow Falls Camp.  It should be a fun ride!

For more information on C.C. Hunter, Born at Midnight, and the Shadow Falls series, visit http://www.cchunterbooks.com/news.html.

The Lost Hero

Well, Rick Riordan has done it again.  After the travesty that was the movie adaptation of The Lightning Thief, I thought I was done with the antics at Camp Half-Blood.  How wrong I was.  I just finished reading The Lost Hero, the first book in Riordan’s new Heroes of Olympus series, and I am absolutely hooked.  I loved how this new story and these new characters interact with the characters and events of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.  There is a wonderful sense of continuity, but readers are also introduced to a new story line with its own characters and challenges.

In The Lost Hero, we are introduced to three new demigods:  Jason, Piper, and Leo.  At the beginning, they have no idea who they really are or what they can do.  After a treacherous field trip to the Grand Canyon, however, things begin to change–especially when their gym coach turns out to be a somewhat unpredictable satyr.  The three teens are spirited away to Camp Half-Blood where, one by one, they are claimed by their godly parents.  Even this is not without its conflict.  (I won’t tell you who their parents are.  That would really ruin things for you.  You’ll just have to read to find out.)

Shortly after Jason, Piper, and Leo arrive at Camp Half-Blood, they are sent on a quest–and we all know how wonderful those usually turn out, don’t we?  They must stop something truly evil from coming to life and destroying Olympus and the world as they (and we) know it.  This could prove to be a bit difficult, especially since Jason has a touch of amnesia, Piper and Leo are hiding some pretty important details, and all of the gods of Olympus have gone silent.  To sum up, things are bad, and they’re about to get much, much worse.

Can our heroes succeed in their quest?  Why were these three demigods chosen for this all-important task?  Why does Jason constantly refer to the gods and goddesses by their Roman names?  How are these events connected to Percy Jackson and his actions in the Titan War?  What will they have to do–or give up–to defeat the evil that is rising?  Read The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan for the answers to these questions and more.  (I will warn you that some of these questions may be answered, but about a million more will pop up to replace them.  Awesome.)

Just like the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, The Lost Hero (and the rest of the Heroes of Olympus series, I hope) is great for upper elementary, middle, and high school readers.  Adults will enjoy it, too!  I’m looking forward to the next book in this series, The Son of Neptune, due out in the fall of 2011.

For more information on Rick Riordan and his wonderful books, visit http://www.rickriordan.com/home.aspx.

Never Cry Werewolf

My latest read, Never Cry Werewolf by Heather Davis, is probably not going to win any awards for excellence in literature, but I must admit that I enjoyed it.  It was a quick, fun read with a thoroughly relatable main character.  Her interaction with a werewolf is a little less relatable, but that’s okay.  I think this book would be excellent for reluctant readers who gravitate toward paranormal stories, and, unlike a lot of what I choose to read, Never Cry Werewolf is fine for both middle and high school readers.

Shelby has just been sent to brat camp for the summer by her distant dad and her new (and evil) stepmother.  They seem to think she has an attitude problem and a tendency to break the rules.  Shelby doesn’t know where they get this stuff.  So what if she’s broken curfew a few times or gone joyriding with the wrong guy.  It’s really not her fault.  Shelby knows her stepmother, sickeningly referred to as Honey Bun by Shelby’s dad, just wants to rid herself of an unwanted stepdaughter over the summer.  Whatever.  How bad can it be?

Shelby’s time at Camp Crescent doesn’t really get off to a stellar start.  She begins her summer by sneaking off to help some guys who are seemingly lost in the woods.  The problem is that she’s already breaking the rules.  Does she have good intentions?  Sure.  Is she frustrated that no one else is doing anything?  Absolutely.  Is one of the guys a hot British guy?  You betcha.  When Shelby and the guys finally make their way out of the woods, with the help of a camp counselor with GPS (who knew?), Shelby finds herself being punished before she makes it through the camp gates.  She’s not exactly making a great first impression.

But that may not be entirely true.  Shelby has impressed the hot British guy, Austin Bridges III, fellow camp attendee and the son of  a famous rock star.  They become friends, and, eventually, Austin trusts Shelby enough to tell her his big, bad secret:  He’s a werewolf.  (I’m sure that was obvious based on the title of the book.  If it wasn’t obvious…well, I really don’t know what to tell you.)  At first, Shelby doesn’t believe Austin, but things begin to happen that quickly make her a believer.  How can Shelby possibly have a relationship with this wonderful, sensitive, gorgeous guy who turns hairy and ferocious during the full moon?  She’s terrified of Austin but strangely drawn to him at the same time.  He’s the only one who understands her, and she’s the only person he trusts with his secret.  Can their friendship survive the summer and all the obstacles facing them?  Can this friendship become something more?  Read Never Cry Werewolf by Heather Davis to find out.

Never Cry Werewolf is kind of a weird combination of Little Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, and the relationship between Jacob and Bella in the Twilight books.  That’s a good thing.  The book is not incredibly deep, but it’s fun, and it does draw attention to the fact that everyone has secrets.  Some are just bigger (and scarier) than others.  This book also highlights the idea of really taking responsibility for one’s actions, something that is sadly lacking in today’s society.

For more information on Never Cry Werewolf and author Heather Davis, visit http://www.heatherdavisbooks.com/books.html.

Goddess Boot Camp

Goddess Boot Camp continues the story of Phoebe Castro.  We first met Phoebe in Oh. My. Gods. where she got a new stepfamily, moved to Greece, started attending a high school full of descendants of Greek gods, met the perfect guy, and found out she was the great-granddaughter of Nike, the goddess of victory.

In Goddess Boot Camp, Phoebe is faced with the struggle of learning to control her considerable powers.  In order to help with her control, Damian (Phoebe’s stepfather and headmaster of her school) enrolls her in the Dynamotheos Development Camp, better known as Goddess Boot Camp.

Phoebe is already dealing with boyfriend issues, preparing for the Pythian Games trials (think Olympics but bigger), and finding out what happened to her dad.  Now she must also attend summer camp to learn to harness her powers before the gods decide to smote her.  Oh, and did I mention that two of her camp counselors are Stella, her evil stepsister (and descendant of Hera), and Adara, her boyfriend’s ex?

Phoebe is just about to lose her ever-lovin’ mind.  All of the pressure is really getting to her.  Camp is cringe-worthy, her boyfriend is acting mysterious and secretive, and some weirdo is sending her cryptic messages her dad.  The only thing that seems to save her sanity is running, but even that has the pressure of the Pythian Games attached to it.  How can Phoebe possibly learn to control her powers with all of this emotional turmoil?  And can she learn control before the gods decide she’s run out of time?  Figure it out for yourself when you read Goddess Boot Camp by Tera Lynn Childs.

This is a fun, light read, and I encourage you to check it out if you liked Oh. My. Gods.  Also, if you like the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series but want a little more romance with your Greek mythology, this series may be just what you’re looking for.

The Battle of the Labyrinth

Yay for my 100th post here on Knight Reader! Thanks to all who take the time to read my thoughts on young adult literature. Now, for my latest…

I have now finished book four of the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, The Battle of the Labyrinth, and it totally lived up to the expectations set by the previous three books.  I plan to start book five, The Last Olympian, tomorrow.  (I would start it tonight, but I’ve found that these books make me have nightmares about fighting big, scary monsters.)

As The Battle of the Labyrinth begins, Percy is attending orientation at yet another high school.  As one would expect, things don’t go well.  He is attacked by demon cheerleaders and is forced to flee a fiery mess.  How will he explain this one to his mom?

The forces of Titan lord Kronos are growing more powerful, and Percy and his friends must venture into the mysterious labyrinth to find some way to save Camp Half-Blood, Mount Olympus, and the world as they know it.  This quest is not without its perils.  Percy and the gang encounter hideous monsters, legions of ghosts, old enemies, new friends, and a few gods and goddesses.  Who can they trust?  It is unclear who is working for Kronos and who is on the side of the Olympians.

As war between the Titans and the Olympians looms ever nearer, Percy and friends  must work to rally all who seek to save Olympus.  Can they do it?  Will they even survive that long?

For those of you who choose to read it, I hope you enjoy The Battle of the Labyrinth as much as I did.  As for me, onward to The Last Olympian!

The Lightning Thief

Happy New Year to followers of Knight Reader (all…both of you). I’ve been taking a short break from YA literature, but I am slowly getting back into the swing of things.

A few months ago, I saw the trailer for The Lightning Thief.  I must say that I was intrigued.  I had not read the book (or any of the sequels, of course) since the series, in my opinion, was geared more toward middle school readers.  After seeing the movie trailer, however, I decided to read this series simply because I wanted to see the movie.  (I’m one of those annoying people who must read the book before seeing the movie it’s based on.)  Anyhoo, I just finished reading Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief, the first book in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, and I no longer think this series is just for middle school readers.  This series is perfect for any readers who are into fantasy, heroes, Greek mythology, quests, and all that other fun stuff.

Percy Jackson is on the verge of being kicked out of yet another boarding school.  He can’t seem to behave, his dyslexia and ADHD don’t make school easy, and his pre-algebra teacher has just turned into a monster.  I know some people think their math teachers are monsters.  (Quick shout out to my mom, an eighth-grade math teacher.)  Well, Percy’s teacher actually is.  She’s a Fury right out of the Underworld, and she does her best to destroy Percy while on a field trip.

Well, she doesn’t succeed.  (That would make for a very short and disappointing book, wouldn’t it?)  This little incident, does, however, help to open Percy’s eyes.  He soon discovers that the myths he’s learned about ancient Greece aren’t myths at all.  In fact, he’s the son of a god himself, and he’s got some pretty big problems ahead of him.  Zeus’s master lightning bolt has been stolen, and everyone thinks Percy stole it.  Percy knows that’s not true, but how can he prove it?

Percy and his friends set out on a quest to find the stolen lightning bolt and return it to Zeus before the summer solstice.  As you can imagine, things get in their way.  Percy must deal with a father he’s never really met, hoards of monsters on his heels, treachery from an unlikely source, a perilous journey to the Underworld, and an evil that even the gods will not speak of.  Exciting, yes?  Read Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief to experience Percy’s action-packed journey and see if he is successful in his quest to restore peace to Olympus.

Just for your information, the movie version of The Lightning Thief comes out on February 12th.  For more information, go to http://www.percyjacksonthemovie.com/.  For more information on Rick Riordan and the entire Percy Jackson series, go to http://www.rickriordan.com/.  Enjoy!