Ruin and Rising

Before proceeding, you MUST read the first two books in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha series, Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm. There may be spoilers ahead.

If you’re still reading this post, you’ve probably figured out that I recently finished reading Ruin and Rising, the third book in the Grisha series. I had every intention of reading this book months ago, but other things kept getting in my way. This week, in an effort to escape reality, I decided that it was time to finish this breathtaking trilogy. That was a good call. (Given that I just wrapped up my fall book fair today, I really needed that escape.)

Ruin and Rising picks up where Siege and Storm ended. Ravka is now firmly in the Darkling’s control, and Alina Starkov is under the thumb of the Apparat, a priest who is “protecting” the Sun Summoner. Alina has been weakened by her recent showdown with the Darkling, and being sequestered in the White Cathedral, deep below ground and away from much-needed sunlight, has not helped matters. Her confidence is crumbling, and she wonders if there’s any way to defeat the Darkling and restore light to the world around her.

Hope is not lost, though. Alina and many of those loyal to her (including Mal, Alina’s fiercest protector and the boy who still has a hold on her heart) manage to escape the White Cathedral and make their way to the surface. They are now on the hunt for the firebird, believed to be the third amplifier and possibly the only thing that will allow them to finally stop the Darkling and his minions.

As Alina and company are searching for a creature that may not even exist, they are reunited with Nikolai, former privateer and current heir to the throne of Ravka. Nikolai arrives in the nick of time and spirits Alina and friends to his stronghold in the mountains. Together, they make plans for their continued quest for the firebird and the upcoming clash with the Darkling.

While in this mountain fortress, Alina also learns more about her adversary than she ever hoped to know. The Darkling’s past has defined his present and explains so much about his quest for power. Alina, in many ways, understands the Darkling and cannot deny that they have a connection, but she still seeks some way to destroy him…especially when he invades her allies’ hideaway, ravages many of her friends, and forces them to flee and regroup.

Now, Alina’s search for the firebird is more dire than ever. But it may be closer than she knows. What if the power to defeat the Darkling has been beside her all along? What will Alina do when she realizes that possessing this power could mean losing the one thing that allows her to hold onto her humanity?

No matter what, Alina and her allies will soon face off with the Darkling. Will they be overcome by his dark power, or will they find some way to unleash the light and defeat this seemingly unbeatable foe? Who will live? Who will die? Who will be left standing when all is said and done? Find out when you read Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo.


If it’s not immediately obvious, let me say that I adore this series. It ended with a bang and was quite satisfying. I have every intention of reading all of the novellas that go along with it as soon as I can. (I’m not sure if I’ll blog about them here, but I will read them.)

I also plan to read Bardugo’s duology, Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, very soon. From what I understand, these two books also take place in the Grishaverse, and that’s awesome. I’m not ready to leave this world just yet.

If you or someone you know, teen or adult reader, is into fantasy, I’d definitely recommend Leigh Bardugo’s work. I know she’s got an adult series in the works, as well as Wonder Woman: Warbringer, and I’m eager to read those as well.

For more information on Ruin and Rising, the other books of the Grishaverse, and other books by Leigh Bardugo, check out her website. You can also connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

The Hammer of Thor

It might be a good idea to read The Sword of Summer and Hotel Valhalla: Guide to the Norse Worlds before proceeding with this post. At the very least, it is absolutely necessary to read The Sword of Summer prior to starting The Hammer of Thor. You’ll be all kinds of lost if you don’t.

Last night, I skipped all of my shows so that I could finish reading The Hammer of Thor, book two of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan. If you follow this blog at all, you’ve probably figured out that I really dig anything Riordan cares to write, and this book didn’t change that at all. If anything, I love this writer even more because of his inclusion of diverse characters in his books–this book in particular. Add in loads of action, suspense, humor, and sarcasm, and I’m completely sold. Many of my students are with me on that.

In The Hammer of Thor, Magnus Chase and friends are on the lookout for Thor’s missing hammer. But Thor hasn’t just misplaced Mjolnir this time. No, the mighty weapon is now in the hands of the giants, and Magnus and company have to get it back before one of their own, Samirah, is traded for the weapon. If they fail, giants are set to invade Midgard (Earth) and will lay waste to everything in their path. (Life can never be easy for a bunch of demigods, can it?)

As Magnus, Samirah, Blitzen, Hearth, and newcomer Alex try to find Thor’s hammer and avoid war and/or Ragnarok, they will face family difficulties, Norse zombies, a super-dangerous sword, a rigged bowling competition against giants, and–worst of all–a wedding. As if that’s not enough, in their quest to find Mjolnir, they may just play into their worst enemy’s hands.


As you’ve likely surmised, I’ve left out a crap ton of details. That is intentional. Like all of Riordan’s books, you really need to experience this one for yourself. The cover alone, though, makes it pretty obvious that a lot of the conflict in this book involves Loki. (This version is not to be confused with the Marvel “villain” played by Tom Hiddleston.) He’s a wily one, and his hand is in most of what happens in this book–including totally failing at being Parent of the Year. We’ll just have to wait and see if things work out for him in the end.

The next book in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series, The Ship of the Dead, is expected to be out on October 3rd, 2017. You can probably guess from the title that this book will involve a bit of sea travel, and, based on how The Hammer of Thor ended, may even feature an appearance from a noted Greek demigod. (Hint: His name rhymes with Smercy Thackson.)

If you can’t wait nearly a year for the next Riordan book, you’re in luck! The second book in The Trials of Apollo series, The Dark Prophecy, will be out in May. (Still a long wait, I know.) If you haven’t read book one, The Hidden Oracle, you’ve got plenty of time.

For more information on The Hammer of Thor and all of Riordan’s other fantastic books, visit the author’s website. You can also connect with him on Twitter, Tumblr, Blogspot, and Facebook.

Finally, check out the official trailer for the Magnus Chase series. It doesn’t give away much (and the narrator’s accent is a little weird to my Southern ears), but it’s worth a watch or two.

Chosen at Nightfall

Spoilers! Read the first four books in C.C. Hunter’s Shadow Falls series (Born at Midnight, Awake at Dawn, Taken at Dusk, and Whispers at Moonrise) before proceeding with this post. I will be writing a bit about Chosen at Nightfall, the fifth and final book in this series, and I don’t want to ruin things for you…but I will. (You may also want to take a look at two Shadow Falls novellas, Turned at Dark and Saved at Sunrise. They shed some light on one of the most interesting characters in this series.)

If it’s not readily apparent, I finished reading Chosen at Nightfall earlier today. I’ve been enamored of this series since I first got my hands on an ARC of Born at Midnight about two and a half years ago. Today, I concluded my journey with these characters (or at least some of them). This finale was chock-full of action, conflict, and danger, but it also contained it’s fair share of levity, friendship, and, yes, romance. Many of the questions that plagued me throughout the first four books were answered in this one, and several problems were resolved. Some of my predictions from previous books came true. Others…not so much. All in all, Chosen at Nightfall was a great conclusion to a series that I’ve truly enjoyed. I hope you’ll feel the same.

Kylie Galen finally knows what she is. As a chameleon, she possesses gifts from all supernatural species…along with a few others that are unique to her kind. And even more that are unique to her. While staying with her grandfather and great-aunt, Kylie’s learning a great deal about her species, but she’s finding life with the other chameleons rather difficult. She doesn’t fit in here like she did at Shadow Falls, and she’s viewed with a certain amount of distrust. What’s a girl to do?

Well, if you’re Kylie Galen, fate has a way of stepping in and making your decisions for you. When Mario, a powerful and evil chameleon, returns with the intent to wreak havoc in Kylie’s life, it becomes clear that she must return to Shadow Falls for her own protection. Her grandfather disagrees with Kylie’s decision to return to the camp/school that is her true home, but it’s really not up to him. Kylie makes a getaway from the chameleon compound and, even though she encounters her share of danger in the process, returns to Shadow Falls…and to the two young men who are fighting to win her heart.

Derek, the half-fae who can feel Kylie’s emotions, and Lucas, the werewolf who broke her heart. How can Kylie choose between these two guys when she’s got so much other stuff to worry about? It’s not like she’s super busy with anything like finding a way to help the teen chameleons who want more freedom, or dealing with a sword-wielding ghost who shows up at inconvenient times and wants her to kill someone, or trying to figure out why her mom’s boyfriend gives her the creeps, or helping her friends with their love lives, or, you know, learning to fight so that she’ll be ready to face Mario again. No, she’s got plenty of time to worry about deciding between Derek and Lucas, both of whom have given her reason to distrust them. (Where’s a sarcasm font when you need one?) Does she want either of them after everything that’s happened? (Yes, she does, in case you were wondering.) Who truly holds her heart, and can she get past her own issues–and his–to make things really work?

Boy problems aside, Kylie has a life or death battle on her hands. She knows that she must be the one to face Mario, but she doesn’t know if she has the strength or will to destroy a being so powerful…without losing her own life in the process. Kylie will have to use everything she’s learned and all the connections she’s made–to both the living and the dead–to get out of this one with her life and her sanity intact. Will it be enough? Will she finally be able to rid herself of this enemy that has tormented her for so long? The time of reckoning is fast approaching, and it seems that fate is not done with throwing some surprises Kylie’s way…

I hope that the few paragraphs above have intrigued you or whetted your appetite for this book and the others in C.C. Hunter’s Shadow Falls series. If you decide to give the series a try, I honestly don’t think you’ll be disappointed. It’s a great ride for anyone who likes some supernatural teen angst with a bit of action, mystery, and romance thrown in. And even though the characters in these books are paranormal beings, they relate to each other (most of the time) like typical teenagers. They have problems with their parents, they think about sex, they break the rules, and they’re trying to figure out who they are.

I’m happy to report that this is not the last we’ve seen of at least some of the Shadow Falls characters. According to a small teaser at the back of my copy of Chosen at Nightfall, a series is in the works that revolves around your favorite vampire and mine, Della Tsang. (If you’re already a fan of this series, you know that the two Shadow Falls novellas deal with some of her backstory.) I’m hoping we’ll see more information about this on C.C. Hunter’s website soon!

That’s all for now folks! I’ll leave you with this absolutely fantastic book trailer for Chosen at Nightfall. Truthfully, it’s so good that it made me want to read the book all over again!

*I hesitate to recommend this book to middle grade readers, simply because I know some parents frown on cursing and frank talk of sex…both of which are present in this series. (Truthfully, I think a lot of people are a bit too prudish about such things. If you think middle school students don’t curse or talk about sex, well…you’ve never worked in a middle school. That’s all I’m saying.) As with any other book or series, know your readers, and recommend books accordingly. Knight Reader out.*

The Mark of Athena

Spoilers!  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 first two books in the Heroes of Olympus series (The Lost Hero and The Son of Neptune), turn back now.  If you don’t, reading The Mark of Athena could be more confusing than trying to find a way out of Daedalus’ labyrinth.  (If you didn’t get that reference, it might also be a good idea to stop now.)

So, yesterday I finished reading The Mark of Athena, the third book in Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series.  Just when I think that things can’t possibly get any worse for Percy Jackson, Annabeth, and their lovely demigod friends, I’m proven horribly wrong.  After reading The Son of Neptune last year, I knew things weren’t going to be all moonlight and roses in this book, but I don’t think I was prepared for just how bad things were going to get…and, if the way The Mark of Athena ended is any indication, the next book won’t be a day at the park either.

The Mark of Athena begins with Annabeth (daughter of Athena), Leo (son of Hephaestus), Jason (son of Jupiter), and Piper (daughter of Aphrodite) descending on Camp Jupiter, the Roman equivalent to Camp Half-Blood.  They’re not sure how welcome they will be, especially since they are literally descending on the camp in what can only be called a Greek warship.  While most of the Roman campers are not exactly thrilled with the presence of the ship (also known as the Argo II), one person at Camp Jupiter is delighted to see it…Percy Jackson.  He hasn’t seen his girlfriend, Annabeth, in what seems like ages, and he’s deliriously happy to be reunited with her.  That is, until his newly arrived friends accidentally start a war with the Romans who have taken him in, and he, Hazel (daughter of Pluto), and Frank (son of Mars) are forced to make a hasty exit with Annabeth and company.

Now, we have seven demigods aboard a Greek trireme heading off on a quest that is likely to kill all of them.  This deadly adventure takes them to such exotic locales as Kansas, Atlanta (specifically the Georgia Aquarium), and Charleston (South Carolina shout-out!).  But these are just pit-stops on the way to their ultimate destination…Rome.  Although the journey is treacherous, these seven demigods must work together to close the Doors of Death, stop Gaea and her giants from destroying the earth, and find some way for Greeks, Romans, and gods to work together.  On top of all that, Annabeth has an additional quest handed down directly from her mother.  She has to follow the Mark of Athena and restore something crucial to her mother.  All other children of Athena have failed (read:  died)  in this quest.  Should be a piece of cake, right?  (If you’ve read any of the previous books, you already know the answer to that question.)

From the very beginning of this quest, things go wrong, and it’s going to take something drastic to turn everything around.  Are these seven demigods up to the task?  What sacrifices will be made to ensure the success of this dangerous crusade?  And are these young people prepared for the fallout of the decisions they will be forced to make?  Discover the answers to these questions and many more when you read The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan.

It should be obvious to all that I loved this book (just like its predecessors).  The Mark of Athena was filled with humor, horror, danger, heavy doses of Greek and Roman mythology, love, giants, disguises, and loads of adventure.  (Kind of sounds like the description Peter Falk gives Fred Savage for The Princess Bride.)  I was enthralled from the very first page, and when I finally finished the book, I had to give myself quite a bit of time to process everything that happened.  (Especially the ending.  That was brutal.)

I can hardly wait to read the next book in this epic series, The House of Hades.  It should be out in the fall of 2013, so wait I must.  There will also be a fifth book in this series.  I’m pretty sure Rick Riordan is trying to kill me with all of this waiting.  (I’m not the most patient of people.)

If you’d like more information about The Mark of Athena and Rick Riordan’s other amazing books, check out his website at http://www.rickriordan.com/home.aspx.  You can also follow the author on Twitter @camphalfblood.

For those who are interested, here is a book trailer for The Mark of Athena from DisneyHyperion.  It tells absolutely nothing about the book, so you don’t really need to concern yourself with spoilers.

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 Sea of Monsters

I’m now addicted to Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson & The Olympians series. I just finished book two, The Sea of Monsters, and I think it was even better than The Lightning Thief. It was action-packed from start to finish, and I even teared up in a couple of places. I cannot wait to start book three, The Titan’s Curse.

In The Sea of Monsters, Percy Jackson is about to end a pretty uneventful year at this year’s boarding school…or so he thinks. One horrible game of dodgeball later, and Percy is fleeing from monsters once again. He also learns the sad news that a mysterious poison has nearly destroyed his beloved Camp Half-Blood, his sole safe haven as the son of Poseidon.

Percy, Annabeth (daughter of Athena), and Tyson (a newcomer to Percy’s life who isn’t exactly what he seems) go on a quest to find the one thing that can save Camp Half-Blood: the Golden Fleece. Along the way, they run into your average, run-of-the-mill, terrifying monsters and dead Confederates, reunite with an old foe, and find help in the unlikeliest of places. They’ve also got to save Grover, Percy’s satyr friend, from marriage to a Cyclops.

The Sea of Monsters is a thrilling, often funny, tale of bravery, loyalty, and an ongoing quest to save the world from unspeakable evil. What will become of Percy and his friends? I’ll leave it for you to find out. Happy reading!