Lord of Shadows

It’s a special day here at Knight Reader. Today, I celebrate my 827th post and my 9th year as a blogger. That’s right. Today is Knight Reader’s 9th blogoversary. That may not mean much to most people, but it’s kind of a big deal to me, especially considering that I think about hanging it up at least once a week.

Knight Reader has seen me through good times and bad: the births of my nieces, health scares, loss of friends and family, and the transition from a high school to an elementary school librarian. It’s been a constant, and, despite my sometimes conflicted feelings on keeping it going, it will likely remain a constant in my life. As long as people keep reading what I care to write, I’ll do my best to keep this blog around.


So…9 years. It seems fitting that my post today focuses on one of my absolute favorite authors/worlds. The second post I ever wrote was about how awesome Cassandra Clare was, and today’s post, my 827th, focuses on Clare’s Lord of Shadows, the second book of The Dark Artifices. As you may know, this series continues to explore the world of Shadowhunters, fierce warriors with angelic blood. There are many, many stories that precede this one, and I’ve listed those below (with available reviews) if you’d care to catch up. (Note: Feel free to completely ignore the movie and TV adaptations of these books. They are crap.)

Now, let’s move onto Lord of Shadows. If you’re not caught up, the rest of this post may be a bit spoilery, so be prepared.

Life is never exactly easy for Shadowhunters, but it appears to be especially difficult right now for those who live in the Los Angeles Institute. They thought they knew Malcolm Fade, warlock extraordinaire. They though they could trust him. They counted him as a friend. And he betrayed them. All this time, he was working against them, killing to further his own agenda. Now, Malcolm is dead, and this tight-knit group of Shadowhunters is dealing with the fallout.

Emma Carstairs is the fierce Shadowhunter who killed Malcolm Fade. She did what she had to do, and she’d do it again to protect those she loves, particularly the Blackthorn family. This family, especially her parabatai Julian, means everything to her, and she’ll do whatever is necessary to keep them safe…even if it means sacrificing her wants, her needs, her very life. At present, it means driving a wedge between herself and Julian. She knows that romantic love between parabatai is cursed, and she simply can’t put Julian, the backbone of his family, through something so horrific, no matter how much they might love each other.

As for Julian, he is tormented by his feelings for Emma, the distance she’s putting between them, as well as the all-consuming need to keep his family safe. Safe from the increasing number of sea demons around them, safe from the Centurions who’ve all but invaded the Institute, safe from the knowledge that their Uncle Arthur, the official head of the Institute, is going mad and Julian’s been running things since he was a boy of twelve. It’s a lot for Julian to take in, but he’ll do anything for his family…even something like journey into Faerieland, something expressly forbidden by the Clave (Shadowhunters’ governing body).

Mark Blackthorn, Julian’s half-faerie brother, has received news that his former lover, Kieran, is about to be killed by the Unseelie King (who also happens to be Kieran’s father). Mark is determined to rescue Kieran, but he will not make the journey alone. Julian, Emma, and Christina, a trusted friend, accompany him, and the quest is just as fraught with danger as they feared it would be. With the help of the Seelie Court, they make it out alive, but they’ve made a dangerous enemy in the Unseelie King…and a dangerous ally in the Seelie Queen.

Back home at the Los Angeles Institute, those remaining are dealing with their own fight. Certain members of the Centurion force are poised to take over the Institute in an effort to further their own hateful agenda. This band of zealots wants to exert power over all Downworlders, and they think taking down the Blackthorn family is the way to do it. While this extremist group, known as the Cohort, is plotting, the Institute residents are also dealing with the unexpected return of a figure they thought was gone…Malcolm Fade himself.

As it turns out, it’s pretty difficult to kill a warlock, and Malcolm isn’t as dead as they had hoped. He’s returned, bringing an army of demons with him, and he remains determined to complete what he was trying to do before his untimely demise. With the help of the Black Volume, he plans to raise Annabell Blackthorn from the dead, and he won’t let anything get in his way. Annabell, however, may have other ideas.

Forced to flee the LA Institute, the younger Blackthorn siblings, Kit Herondale, and their tutor portal to the London Institute. There, they eventually join up with Emma, Julian, Mark, Christina, and Kieran (along with a couple of other familiar faces). They’re dealing with enemies on many sides, but they know they must prevail. They may have to make deals that are untenable, fight those who seem to be unbeatable, and put aside their own complicated feelings. The important thing is that they stay alive, put an end to the dangerous sentiments against Downworlders, and avoid war with the Unseelie King. Unfortunately, all of those things are easier said that done.


I’m going to stop there before I give too much more away. I’ve probably spoiled a lot here, but there is so much more to this book than I could have possibly touched on in one blog post (unless I wanted to spend the rest of the day writing…which I don’t). Lord of Shadows is a 700-page whopper, and every page is packed with something important, exciting, mysterious, infuriating, revealing, and, at points, tragic. The stuff I’ve touched on above is only a fraction of the wonderfully twisted story contained within this book.

Anyone who reads Lord of Shadows (or any of the Shadowhunter books, really) will find parallels to the world we live in today. No, we’re not dealing with demons, warlocks, faeries, or anything like that–that I know of–but we are dealing with discrimination and hatred of anything seen as different or “other.” In this book, a small but vocal group of extremists want warlocks to register, werewolves to be rounded up and put in camps, vampires to have their blood supply monitored, and faeries, for the most part, to be completely wiped out. The Shadowhunters who sympathize with Downworlders are viewed as traitors. Sound familiar? Once again, fantasy shines a light on the horrific reality we’re facing today and gives a glimpse of the destruction we could see if we allow such hatred to flourish. It’s sobering, to say the least.

So…where do we go from Lord of Shadows? The third book of The Dark Artifices, The Queen of Air and Darkness, isn’t expected to be released until sometime in 2019. Given how Lord of Shadows ended, the wait for book three may very well drive me insane.

On a positive note, there is another Shadowhunter series being introduced a bit sooner. Chain of Gold, the first book of The Last Hours, should be out in 2018. This series is set in 1903, and it centers around the generation following the events of The Infernal Devices series. There’s also an adult series focusing on Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood, The Eldest Curses, on the horizon, as well as another YA series, The Wicked Powers, that will pick up at the end of The Dark Artifices. I know it’s a lot to take in, but this is nothing but good news if you’re a superfan of the Shadowhunter books.

For more information on Lord of Shadows and all things Shadowhunter, visit Cassie Clare’s website, Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook. If you’re not a fan already, I hope you come to love this world as much as I do!

Lady Midnight

Unless you are brand new to this blog, you know that I have a mild obsession with Cassandra Clare’s writing. Despite the current controversy (which I won’t go into here) and the less-than-spectacular movie and TV adaptations of her work, I remain a loyal fan. My enjoyment of her writing has only increased with her latest novel, Lady Midnight, the first book in the new Dark Artifices trilogy.

But before we move on to Lady Midnight, if you’re not already familiar with Clare’s Shadowhunter novels, you’ve got a bit of catching up to do. Read these books first:

For whatever reason, I neglected to write posts on City of Ashes or The Bane Chronicles. Trust me, they’re just as awesome as the other books. In the case of The Bane Chronicles, probably more awesome. (It’s no secret that the High Warlock of Brooklyn is my favorite character.)


Now, let’s turn our attention to Lady Midnight. Some may be a little shocked that I’m just now getting around to posting on this book, especially considering my love of Clare’s books. I promise I have very good reasons.

  1. I pre-ordered the book through Barnes & Noble, and it didn’t arrive at my house until March 11th, three days after the release date. (I can’t complain too much, though. I did get an autographed copy.)
  2. My school book fair kicked off on March 10th and didn’t wrap up until yesterday. If you’ve ever run an elementary school book fair, you know how exhausting it is. I barely had enough energy to read more than a couple of chapters before passing out each night.
  3. My Battle of the Books team has been preparing for competition. Our regionals were this past Tuesday, and I’m pleased to report that we’re moving on to finals next week.

Even with all of that going on, I did manage to finish Lady Midnight last night, and, like I expected, it made me want to weep, rage, and throw things. I mean that in the best possible way.

Lady Midnight takes place in Los Angeles and focuses primarily on Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn. These parabatai live at the LA Institute with the younger Blackthorn children–Ty, Livvy, Dru, and Tavvy–their mostly absent uncle Arthur, and Cristina, a Shadowhunter visiting from Mexico (and possibly escaping her own past).

It’s been five years since the Dark War that took so many Shadowhunters from them, including Emma’s parents and Julian’s father, and time has molded both Emma and Julian into much more than the children they once were. Emma is bent on finding out what really happened to her parents, and Julian is doing everything he can to keep his family together while hiding his wealth of feelings from everyone around him.

When strange murders with possible demonic ties begin occurring in LA, Emma and Julian know they must investigate…but there’s a problem. Some of the victims are Faeries, and the Cold Peace prevents Shadowhunters from investigating crimes involving Faeries. That doesn’t exactly stop Emma and Julian, and the waters get even more muddied when a Faerie convoy arrives at the Institute with an incentive for the young Shadowhunters to provide assistance. In return for their help in capturing the killer and handing him/her over to the Fey, they’ll return Mark Blackthorn–half-Fey, half-Shadowhunter, member of the Wild Hunt, and Julian’s older brother–back to his family.

Mark’s sudden return to his family is an adjustment for everyone…most especially Mark. He struggles with what it means to be part of the human world once more. Part of him longs to return to the Wild Hunt…and what he left behind. Another part of him wants to contribute to his family, but so much has changed since he left. Where exactly does he fit?

As Mark is dealing with his own turmoil, so are Emma and Julian. Emma is certain that the odd murders in LA are somehow tied to her parents. She recklessly follows every lead she can, leading herself and others into more danger than they expected.

As for Julian, he’s finding it harder and harder to hold everything and everyone together. So much has been placed on his young shoulders, and he’s not sure how much more he can handle. Throw in the fact that he’s in love with Emma, his parabatai, and things get even more complicated.

Even as Emma and Julian grow closer together, closer than is allowed by Shadowhunter law, danger and betrayal are making their way toward the Los Angeles Institute and its inhabitants. Who will be left standing when all is said and done? What will be unleashed should these young Shadowhunters fail to stop the maniacal killer? What could it all mean for the Blackthorns and their closest allies?

Read Lady Midnight, the first book of The Dark Artifices, to learn the answers to these questions and many more…


Oh, I have left out sooooo much here. I didn’t even really touch on Cristina’s issues, Ty and how the Clave views those who are “different,” or the appearance of the “Lost Herondale.” I couldn’t possibly cover everything in one blog post, so I’m not even going to try. Suffice it to say that a LOT happens in the nearly 700 pages of this book, and everything is important.

If you’re also a Shadowhunter fan, you’ll be pleased to know that we do see some old favorites in Lady Midnight. Tessa, Jem, Magnus, Jace, Clary, and Church all make appearances, and I’m confident we’ll see more of them as the series progresses.

Speaking of the rest of the series, the next book, Lord of Shadows, is set to be released in May of 2017, and book three, The Queen of Air and Darkness will be out sometime in 2018. Long waits ahead, people.

If you’d like more information on Lady Midnight and all things Shadowhunter, visit Cassie Clare’s website, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Mundie Moms. You may also want to check out the video below from Cassie herself.

That’s all from me for now. I hope you enjoy Lady Midnight as much as I did!

Clockwork Princess

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By the Angel, I don’t even know where to begin. Unless you really haven’t been paying attention, you already know that I am absolutely nuts about anything written by Cassandra Clare. Seriously, the woman could rewrite the dictionary, and I would not only buy it, but I’d also want a first edition autographed copy. It should surprise no one, then, that I rushed to the nearest bookstore after school on Tuesday, purchased Clockwork Princess, the final(?) book in Cassie Clare’s Infernal Devices trilogy, and commenced with the reading. It may, however, surprise some that I didn’t finish the book until last night. Honestly, I’m surprised myself, but my need for sleep and, you know, having to go to work prevented me from reading until I dropped. (I’m not as young as I used to be.) Also, I kind of wanted to prolong the exquisite agony…because that’s exactly what this book was.

Based on everything (and I do mean everything) I read on Twitter, Tumblr, and any other source I could find, I had an idea that Cassie would break my heart in Clockwork Princess, and I was absolutely correct. I’m not going to tell you what happened in the book, but suffice it to say that I just about went through an entire box of Kleenex. (I’m beginning to think that Cassie Clare is in league with Stephen Moffat. Clearly, these two individuals are trying to do me in with all the feels.) I did some serious crying during this book. We’re talking wracking, Reichenbach-Fall, weeping-angels-take-the-Ponds-away-from-the-Doctor, intense sobbing. My eyes are still kind of red. It was awesome.

If you’ve been following the Infernal Devices series at all, you know that things are coming to a head with Tessa, Jem, and Will. On top of all their love triangle stuff, the evil Mortmain is waging war against all Shadowhunters. In Clockwork Princess, questions are answered about Mortmain’s motives, Tessa’s origins, the bond between Jem and Will, and so many other things. I can’t begin to go into everything that happened in this book, partially because I’m afraid I’ll start weeping again but also because I don’t want to take any of this reading experience away from anyone. (Someone accidentally posted a spoiler on my Twitter page, and let’s just say that I am less than happy with that person. I can’t do that to someone else.)

It’s enough to say that this perfect book is perfect. Even though my heart felt like it was being split in two, I felt that everything happened as it should have, and I’m looking forward to City of Heavenly Fire, the final book in the Mortal Instruments series, even more now. (Sadly, we have to wait another year for what I’m sure will be yet another amazing book. Curses! Luckily, we have the City of Bones movie and some novellas all about Magnus Bane to get us through!) I can only hope that we’ll see more of some beloved Infernal Devices characters (and I won’t say who!) in Cassie’s upcoming books.

For those who haven’t yet experienced any of the Mortal Instruments or Infernal Devices books, I don’t know what else I can do to convince you. Get thee to a bookstore or library, or download these fantastic books on whatever ereader you prefer. I don’t care how you read these books. Just read them! You can thank me later.

Devilish

Several days ago, I began reading Devilish by Maureen Johnson. This is one of the many books that has been on my “to-read” pile for quite some time, so I thought I’d give it a try, thinking that it would be a perfect read for spooky Halloween times.  Luckily, I was right.  I had planned to finish this book on Halloween, but I admit that I had other things to do, and I didn’t finish Devilish until yesterday.  (This year was my niece’s first Halloween.  She was dressed as Wonder Woman, so I spent most of Halloween taking pictures and much of the next day looking at said pictures. She was adorable.)  So anyway, I finally finished reading Devilish last night, and it was everything I’ve come to expect from Maureen Johnson.  This book was suspenseful, horrifying at times, hilarious throughout, and the main character was brilliant and fluent in sarcasm.  Good times.

Jane Jarvis may be the smartest girl at her Catholic school, but that doesn’t make her senior year any easier.  She and Allison, her best friend, are outcasts at best, and Jane’s main goal is to get through this year and make it to college.  Allison, though, still nurtures a small hope that she can somehow achieve the popularity that has always eluded her.  And, all of a sudden, it happens.  One day, Allison shows up to school with a flattering new haircut, new clothes, confidence she never had, and she seems to know all the answers in class.  Jane knows something weird is going on, especially when she discovers that Allison, her best (only) friend in the entire world, is now going out with Jane’s ex-boyfriend, Elton (a boy who Jane is still not over).  Who is this horribly different person that her supposed best friend has become?  And what brought on this sudden change?

Jane soon learns that nefarious forces are at work, and Allison has sold her soul to a truly heinous, evil being (disguised as a teenage girl) in exchange for popularity and confidence.  Being the good friend that she is, Jane, of course, jumps right into the middle of this mess and gets herself into so much trouble that it will take some divine intervention to get her out of it.  Jane will have some unexpected help, but will she be smart enough to accept the assistance being offered?  And will Jane be able to save Allison and herself before both of their souls are consumed by the evil plaguing their town?  Read Devilish by Maureen Johnson to learn how the quests to belong, get what you want, or gain power can sometimes lead to a deal with the devil.  Is there a way out of such a bargain? You’ll just have to see…

If you’re looking for a book that is in turns funny, suspenseful, and scary (especially if you were raised in a religion–like I was–that preached the realness and dangers of the devil), I think Devilish might just be the book for you.  The book, while humorous, also highlighted the darkness that exists in the world.  Evil exists.  I don’t think anyone can question that.  But what is the root of evil? And is there any way to stop it or reverse its effects?  I’m afraid I don’t have the answers to those questions.  (I’m not sure that anyone does.)

Had to get serious there for a moment.  It’s the lapsed Southern Baptist in me.

Anyhoo, if you decide to read Devilish and like it, you should give Maureen Johnson’s other books a try, especially The Name of the Star.  I loved that book so hard and can’t wait for the sequel.  I also urge you to visit Ms. Johnson’s website (http://www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com/index1.html) and follow her on Twitter @maureenjohnson.  I’ve been following her for about a year, and her tweets make me laugh to the point of crying sometimes.  This woman is seriously funny.

Dreaming Awake

Warning!  Read Falling Under before proceeding.  If you don’t, you will be totally lost without any hope of finding your way out!  (Sorry.  Dreaming Awake messed with my head a little bit, and I’m still kind of stuck in the world depicted in this captivating yet disturbing story.)

A little over a year ago, I read a really cool book called Falling Under.  This book by Gwen Hayes was the very definition of the word “macabre.”  It was at once haunting and beautiful.  Well, this week, I finally got around to reading the sequel, Dreaming Awake, and everything I felt about Falling Under definitely applies to the second book.  Dreaming Awake picks up where Falling Under ended, and it further explores the extremely complicated relationship between Theia and Haden.  Things are more convoluted now than they were before.  Now that Theia has been “infected” with demon blood (from Haden’s mother, no less), Theia, Haden, and everyone they care about are about to enter a world of nightmares that is more horrifying than they ever thought possible…

Theia has just returned from the mysterious nightmare realm of Under…but she’s not returning to the same life she left. Her father is almost unbearably distant, everyone at school looks at her differently (especially the guys), and she’s got the little problem of demon blood running through her veins.  Theia feels more powerful than she ever has, but she doesn’t know how to control her new “abilities.”  A couple of things haven’t changed though.  Her friends are still completely devoted and understanding and are doing their absolute best to help Theia find a way out of her current predicament.  And then there’s Haden…Haden Black, the half-demon who is still the love of Theia’s life.  Sure, his mom, Mara, is totally evil and determined to ruin their human lives and drag them to Under, but Theia never doubts Haden’s love.  Sometimes, he’s the only bright spot in her scary new life.  But evil has a way of destroying every happiness that Theia manages to find, and it’s coming back to claim Theia…whether she likes it or not.

Theia is trying as hard as she can to hold onto her humanity, but it’s getting harder and harder to deny the dark urges that have taken hold of her.  People around her are suffering, and, even though Theia knows it’s not entirely her fault, she feels she must do something–anything–to make things right.  But is she willing to give up the love of her life to make that happen?  Maybe her relationship with Haden was never meant to be, but Theia doesn’t know if she can truly sacrifice her love for Haden to escape the nightmare in which she’s currently imprisoned.  Could she possibly ask him to give up his last shred of humanity so that her life could go back to normal?

Theia must make some tough decisions…and she must make them soon, or everyone she’s ever loved will be in mortal danger.  Will her love for Haden and her friends be strong enough to fight the darkness in Under and even in herself?  Can Theia hold onto her humanity when the urges to embrace the darkness are growing stronger?  Do Theia, Haden, and their friends have any hope of defeating Mara, the demon queen, or will they all be dragged Under…forever?  Find out what one girl is willing to sacrifice–and even accept–in order to save the people who matter the most to her when you read Dreaming Awake, the gripping sequel to Falling Under, by Gwen Hayes.

Like Falling Under, Dreaming Awake, creeped me out just as it drew me in.  Both of these books remind me of Tim Burton films (but without Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter).  Yes, there is a definite nightmarish quality, but there’s also a weird kind of beauty in the world of Under.  I highly recommend this book to teen (and adult) readers who are fans of Tim Burton, The Addams Family, or anything else that depicts love with an edge of darkness.

If you’d like more information about Falling Under, Dreaming Awake, or author Gwen Hayes, visit http://www.gwenhayes.com/ or follow her on Twitter @gwenhayes.

City of Lost Souls

Warning!  There may be City of Lost Souls spoilers ahead!

After work on Tuesday, I rushed to the closest Barnes & Noble to pick up a book I waited on for far too long—City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare.  I started reading it as soon as I got home, but, sadly, I wasn’t able to finish it until yesterday.  (Lots of things kept getting in the way—work, my regular TV schedule, meetings, and my need for naps.)  But finish it I did, and I was absolutely blown away.

Like the other books in Clare’s Mortal Instruments series (City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, and City of Fallen Angels) and her Infernal Devices series (Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince), City of Lost Souls had me hooked before I even opened the book.  And I think a part of me was reluctant to finish the book, partly because I wanted to prolong the time I spent with my favorite characters, and partly because I knew this book would end on a cliffhanger, and I’d have a long time to worry about how things would be resolved.  How right I was.

I’m not going to tell you much about what happens in City of Lost Souls because I don’t want to spoil things for you.  This series means too much to me to ruin it for other fans.  I will say, however, that I am an emotional wreck after reading this book.  Sacrifices and deals are made—or at least considered—that change the entire fabric of this world.  The relationships between the characters have me tied up in knots, and I’m hoping against hope that things get better for everyone in the next book, City of Heavenly Fire.  I even found myself hoping that there was some way to “fix” Sebastian.  When you read this book, you’ll see why that hope was rather short-lived. 

While reading City of Lost Souls, I was always for clues about what might happen in Clockwork Princess.  (For those that don’t know, Clockwork Princess is the third book in the Infernal Devices, the prequel trilogy to Mortal Instruments.)  I think I may have found at least one clue, but it’s so out there that I don’t want to say anything in case I’m wrong (but I don’t think I am).  I also looked for things we might see in the next Shadowhunter series, Dark Artifices, which will take place a few years in the future at the Los Angeles Institute.  Based on things I’ve heard from Cassie Clare and the YA blogging community, I encountered a few characters that I know I’ll see again.

In short, I LOVED this book just as much as everything else Cassandra Clare has written.  I am totally invested in what happens to these characters that I’ve come to love and think of as my friends.  (Most of my best friends are fictional characters.)  I am eagerly anticipating the final book in the Mortal Instruments saga, City of Heavenly Fire, which won’t be released until March of 2014.  (Yep.  You read that right.  Nearly two years away.  Let the temper tantrum begin.)  Clockwork Princess will tide me over for a bit, but it won’t be out until March 19th of next year, so I’ve still got about ten months to stew.  Curses!

There is, however, something I’m looking forward to that will ease the pain of waiting.  Cassie Clare is coming to South Carolinain November!!!!  I got to meet her late last year during her Clockwork Prince tour (and she’s as awesome as you’d think she would be), and I was thrilled this week when I heard she’d be coming back to my fair state.  She, along with dozens of other bestselling authors—including Holly Black, Stephanie Perkins, Gayle Forman,  Margaret Stohl, Andrea Cremer, Kim Derting, and too many others to name—will be coming to Charleston for YALLFest (http://yallfest.org/), the Charleston Young Adult Book Festival.  The event will be November 9-10, and I am so there!  I’m so excited about this that I can barely contain my joy!

So, while the wait to find out what happens to Jace, Clary, Simon, Alec, Magnus, Isabelle, and even Sebastian, is way too long for me, there’s plenty going on that will tide me over (including hearing more about the middle-grade series by Cassie Clare and Holly Black that’s currently in the works). 

If you’d like more information about all of Cassandra Clare’s amazing books, check out her website (http://www.cassandraclare.com/), her tumblr site (http://cassandraclare.tumblr.com/), Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/cassieclare), and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Cassandraclare).  You may also want to check out my favorite fansite, Mundie Moms (http://mundiemoms.blogspot.com/).  Also, if you haven’t seen it already (I’ve watched it about five thousand times), here’s the official City of Lost Souls book trailer.  If this video doesn’t make you want to read this outstanding book, nothing will.  Enjoy!

Spell Bound

If you haven’t read the first two books in Rachel Hawkins’ Hex Hall trilogy (Hex Hall and Demonglass), do that before reading this post.  If the title of the post didn’t clue you in, I’ll be talking about the third book in this series, Spell Bound, and it will be very spoilery if you haven’t read the previous books.  This will be your only warning!

I love sarcastic characters—in movies, TV shows, and, most especially, books.  Sarcasm is my first language, so I enjoy characters who share that characteristic.  If you’re familiar with the Hex Hall series at all, you probably know that Sophie Mercer has a special place in my heart.  She is so delightfully sarcastic that it can be kind of difficult to determine if/when she’s actually being serious.  (A problem I also have from time to time.)  Even when the entire world is about to explode around her, she faces nearly everything with a joke, witticism, or snarky remark.  I like that.  I wish I had been more like her as a teenager (except for the whole being-a-demon thing) instead of waiting until early adulthood to let my sarcastic side out to play.  I think I would have had a lot more fun.

Sophie Mercer was just getting used to being a demon (if that’s even possible) when her powers were bound inside of her.  She can’t use them at the moment, and that’s not exactly a good thing.  If she could, she might be able to figure out what’s happened to her dad (who’s been totally stripped of his powers), her boyfriend Archer (who’s part of an organization that wants to destroy supernatural creatures—kind of a mood-killer), her vampire best friend Jenna, and her fiancé Cal.  (Never let it be said that Sophie’s life is uncomplicated.)  She’s also got to worry about the evil Casnoff witches who seem determined to create a demon army.  Add to that, Sophie has just found herself immersed in the Brannick compound.  Sophie’s been taught that the Brannicks want to kill her kind, but that may not necessarily be true.  If it were, would her mother be one of them?

The Brannicks know that war is coming to all Prodigium (magic folk), and Sophie may be their only hope to win the war.  But how can that be true when her powers are locked inside of her?  Well, there may be a way to “unleash the beast,” so to speak.  Unfortunately, it involves going back to Hex Hall, something that may be a bit more difficult that they had hoped…or easier, depending on your point of view.  When Sophie, Archer, Jenna, and Cal are mysteriously transported back to Hex Hall, they know that something is majorly wrong.  The question is what can they do about it?  Magic is not working against the protections the Casnoffs have placed around the school, so what hope do they have of breaking such powerful spells?  (Hint:  A sarcastic-in-her-own-right ghost will lead the charge.)

Sophie and company will do whatever it takes to stop the Casnoffs from turning their classmates into demons, even if it means entering the Underworld itself.  They’ll receive help from unexpected sources, but will it be enough?  Does Sophie have the power to stop this war before everything—and everyone—she loves is sucked into the abyss?  And can she figure out her love life somewhere along the way?  Read Spell Bound, the trilling conclusion in Rachel Hawkins’ Hex Hall trilogy, to find out!

If you love heroines who kick major butt and manage to say all the stuff you wish you could say, you’ll love Sophie Mercer and the entire Hex Hall trilogy.  I found Sophie even more delightful in this book than in the first two.  In fact, my new favorite phrase is probably “holy hell weasel.”  (Just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?)  Sophie’s story was wrapped up rather nicely in Spell Bound, but it may not be the last time we see her.  There are some rumors of a spin-off series, so I can only hope that we’ll see more of the fabulous Sophie Mercer—and the hotness that is Archer—in the future.

Until we see Sophie again, we can learn more about author Rachel Hawkins, the Hex Hall trilogy, and future books, at http://readingwritingrachel.blogspot.com/.  You can also “like” the Hex Hall trilogy on Facebook, and follow the author on Twitter @LadyHawkins.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

I don’t even know where to begin when it comes to my latest read, Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  This book was on my to-read pile for quite a while, and I finally began reading it exactly two weeks ago.  Well, as it so often does, life got in the way (work, sickness, family stuff, bought a new phone, librarian conference, etc.), and I wasn’t able to finish the book until this morning.  Anyway, I’m so glad I finally picked up Daughter of Smoke and Bone (at the suggestion of several fellow bloggers and librarians).  It was well worth every spare minute I spent devouring the world of Karou and Akiva.  Yes, it took me longer to finish this book than is normal, but, in a way, that’s good.  I was able to fully digest the story, appreciate the depth of the characters, analyze the intricacies of the plot, and think about what might be happening in the future.  (I was nearly always wrong, so kudos to Laini Taylor for keeping me guessing.)

Karou is not exactly a normal girl. Her hair is naturally blue, she is an artist in Prague, she speaks many languages–both human and not-so-human–she runs mysterious errands for her “family,” and she was raised by someone–or something–named Brimstone. No one takes her seriously when she talks about Brimstone and the other “monsters” in her world, and that’s okay with Karou. In certain circumstances, the less people know or believe, the better. But even Karou doesn’t know everything about herself. Brimstone won’t tell her about her parents, why she collects teeth from nefarious types all over the world, how the portals to his shop work, or what the other door in the shop leads to. Karou’s life is full of secrets, but when black handprints begin appearing on the portal doors to Brimstone’s lair, those secrets begin to reveal themselves…

Karou isn’t sure what’s going on, but she knows that danger is all around her…and when she’s attacked by someone who can only be described as an angel, she’s convinced that her family is threatened.  Oh, how right she is.  But why?  What does this angel have against the beings that have loved and cared for her forever?  And why is she so drawn to someone seemingly determined to destroy her entire world?

Akiva was bred to be a warrior, to battle the vile chimaera that have plagued his kind for centuries.  But his war against the hideous creatures goes even deeper.  He’s determined to bring an end to this war by any means necessary…until he encounters Karou.  Who is this blue-haired girl with the power of the chimaera and the face of an angel?  At first, Akiva is unsure about Karou’s connection to the chimaera, but he soon discovers that her connection to them–and him–goes far deeper than either of them thought possible.

Karou and Akiva seem to be inextricably linked, and, as they grow ever closer, the past, the present, and the future conspire to drive them further apart.  How can their fragile relationship hope to survive in a brutal war that has been tearing worlds apart for centuries?  And when long-held secrets are finally revealed, will their connection be severed forever…or will it unite them against the forces that seek to kill any hope for peace?  Explore the possibilities when you read Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.

I shouldn’t even have to say this, but I will anyway (because it’s my blog, and I can do what I want to).  I adored this book.  It is unlike anything I’ve read in recent memory.  All at once, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a fantasy, a tale of forbidden love, and a story of an epic, otherworldly war that rivals the myths of ancient civilizations the world over.  Every setting in the book was richly described, so much so that I now feel that I’ve actually been to Prague or Marrakesh.  The characters were flawed yet perfect in their own way.  It was difficult differentiate between “angel” and “devil” because each character had good and evil within them…just like all of us out here in the real world.

If you haven’t picked up Daughter of Smoke and Bone yet, do yourself a favor, and check it out soon.  It’s an amazing story that will definitely keep you on your toes.  It took me on a journey that was both unexpected and amazing, and I hope you’ll feel the same.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the first book in a trilogy.  Book two, Days of Blood and Starlight, is set to be released on November 6th of this year.  In the meantime, you can get more information on author Laini Taylor and Daughter of Smoke and Bone at http://www.lainitaylor.com/ and http://daughterofsmokeandbone.com/.  Enjoy!

Clockwork Prince

Even though this post will not be a typical one for me, I will be talking a bit about Clockwork Prince, the second book in Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices trilogy (which is the prequel trilogy to her Mortal Instruments series).  If you haven’t read all of the books that precede Clockwork Prince–especially Clockwork Angel–I strongly urge you to do that as soon as possible.  All of these books are unbelievably amazing, and the events of today only increased my love of these series.

Now, for the good stuff…

Today, I had the pleasure of meeting the one and only Cassandra Clare.  As part of her book tour for Clockwork Prince, which was released on Tuesday (and which I finished reading last night), Ms. Clare paid a visit to Greenville, South Carolina.  I live just a few miles away from Greenville, and I was understandably excited about meeting one of my favorite authors.  The event was sponsored by a local independent bookstore, Fiction Addiction, and held in a spot called the Hangar at the Runway Cafe (near the downtown airport, obviously).  And I have to say it was one of the most well organized book signings I’ve ever attended.  (I went to see Stephenie Meyer at a Barnes & Noble in Georgia four years ago, and it was absolute chaos.  Imagine thousands of people crammed into a B&N for upwards of five hours.  Shudder.) 

Anyhoo, Cassandra Clare entered the Hangar and answered questions from the audience.  The first few people who asked questions even got a free t-shirt.  I was one of those people…and here’s the back of the shirt:

I asked who she would pick to play Magnus Bane if she had any say in the movie casting.  Her answer both surprised and delighted me–Darren Criss, who plays Blaine on Glee.  She said that his ethnicity matched Magnus’, and he seems to have no problems kissing a boy.  For those of you who’ve read the Mortal Instruments series, you know how important this is.

Ms. Clare answered lots more questions on how she overcomes writer’s block, using outlines in her writing, how much influence she has over the upcoming City of Bones movie (very little, sadly), the love triangle between Will, Jem, and Tessa in Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince, other books she would recommend, how she would encourage aspiring writers, where her ideas for her books came from, the real-life settings used in the books, the inspiration for the character of Magnus Bane (one of my favorites), and much more.  Throughout the question-and-answer session, Ms. Clare kept the audience laughing and made us fall more in love with her and her wonderful stories.

Then, it was time for the autographing to begin.  I took seven books to be autographed–City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels, Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, and Steampunk!–and Ms. Clare graciously signed all of them.  Check it out:

 

Everyone who attended also received a cool Shadow Hunter poster. 

Christmas came early for yours truly this year.  I got to meet one of my favorite authors, tell her how much I loved her books, and I even had the opportunity to recommend a few books to her–Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy series was at the top of my list.  This was an awesome afternoon for Knight Reader.

Now, I’m sure you might be wondering a little about Clockwork Prince, the latest book in the Infernal Devices trilogy.  Well, I’m not going to tell you much about the book because there would be spoiler alerts all over the place if I did.  I will tell you, though, that we learn more about why Will is such a butthead most of the time.  We also delve into Mortmain’s past and what he might be planning for the Shadow Hunters.  For me, however, the driving force in this book was the dramatic love triangle between Will, Jem, and Tessa.  It was infuriating, powerful, and traumatic–for them and for me.  I just hope their situation resolves the way I want it to in Clockwork Princess.

Speaking of Clockwork Princess, it has an expected release date of December 1st, 2012.  (Yes, we have to wait nearly a year for it.  Curses!)  Also, there are two more books in the Mortal Instruments series to look forward to:  City of Lost Souls, due out May 8th, 2012 (and the cover should be released soon), and City of Heavenly Fire, due in September of 2013.  There’s also another Shadow Hunter series in development, the Dark Artifices, which will take place roughly five years after the events in City of Heavenly Fire.  So, there’s lots more Shadow Hunter goodness to look forward to.

If you’d like to learn more about Cassandra Clare and her amazing books, you might want to check out these websites:

You can also follow Cassandra Clare on Twitter @cassieclare.

I will leave you now, dear readers, for I am spent.  It has been a great day filled with books, authors, and fellow word nerds.  I wish every day could be so awesome.

City of Fallen Angels

SPOILER ALERT!!!  Read no further if you have not read Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series (City of Bones, City of Ashes, and City of Glass)!  You may also want to read the first book in the prequel trilogy, Clockwork Angel, for good measure.  If you have read these wonderfully awesome books, you may proceed.  If not, well, what are you waiting for?  These books are WAY too good to pass up.  Get moving!

I don’t even know where to begin.  If you follow this blog at all, you know that I am a HUGE fan of Cassandra Clare.  So, when her latest book in the Mortal Instruments series, City of Fallen Angels, was released on Tuesday, I rushed to the closest bookstore as soon as I got off work.  (I’ve been waiting on this book for over a year, so I seriously contemplated taking the entire day off to read, but circumstances beyond my control prevented that.  Maybe next time.)  I began reading as soon as I got home, and only my need for sleep forced me to put the book down.

Yesterday, I did much the same thing.  I got home and started reading.  I could have finished the book last night, but something stopped me…and it wasn’t the need for sleep.  I have grown so attached to these characters that when I sense that bad things are about to happen to them (and I’m talking seriously, enormously, mind-numbingly bad), I don’t want to face it.  So I put it off.  I almost wish I hadn’t because I thought about what might be coming all day at work.  Again today, I began reading as soon as I got home, and things were worse than I could have possibly imagined.  When I finished City of Fallen Angels a little while ago, I just sat and stared into space because I honestly couldn’t wrap my mind around what had just happened to Jace, Clary, Simon, and the other characters I’ve grown to love.  I still can’t, so this will not be a typical post for me.  I’m not going to tell you much of anything about the book, but I will tell you that the wait for the next installment, City of Lost Souls, will be absolutely horrible.  (In case you’re wondering, City of Lost Souls won’t be released until May of 2012.  That’s right…another year of torture.)

Even though I am filled with anxiety about what happened in City of Fallen Angels and where it will lead in future books, I must say that I feel the same way about this book as I do City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, and Clockwork Angel.  In short, I loved it.  Cassandra Clare has a way of pulling readers into her stories and making them not only care about what’s going on but also feel the emotions of the characters she’s writing about.  I have adored her writing since the first page of City of Bones, and I don’t see that feeling abating any time soon.

As you read about Simon’s struggle with being the only one of his kind, Jace and Clary’s intense and tumultuous relationship, and a sinister evil infiltrating their very souls, you will be pulled into the fantasy that is City of Fallen Angels.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

For more information on Cassandra Clare and her awesome books, visit http://cassandraclare.com/cms/home.