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.

Just One Day

Last night, when I should have been packing for a conference, I was instead devouring Just One Day by the fabulous Gayle Forman. This book had been on my to-read list for quite a while, but I didn’t make time for it until this weekend. Oh, how I wish I had read it sooner!

Like If I Stay and Where She Went, Just One Day shows that Gayle Forman is a master at writing love stories that pack an emotional punch. Even more important, in my opinion, she’s excellent at giving readers examples of young women who, while navigating the perilous waters of relationships, also work to discover their own inner strength.

Allyson is nearing the end of a whirlwind tour of Europe, and, to be honest, the trip has been something of a disappointment. Yes, she’s oohed and aahed at all the appropriate moments, she’s seen some impressive sights with her best friend Melanie, and she’s even gotten a haircut to mark what should have been the start of the greatest vacation ever. But Allyson feels like she’s just going through the motions. She should be excited about this extravagant graduation gift, but something just doesn’t feel quite right.

Everything changes, though, when Allyson and Melanie deviate from their rigid plans and are persuaded to take in a performance of Twelfth Night in a Stratford-upon-Avon park. It is here that Allyson’s life changes forever. She meets Willem, a Dutch actor in the play, and she’s immediately drawn to him. There’s something about him that makes Allyson want to break free of limits and responsibilities. Maybe it’s because Willem doesn’t really know her. He doesn’t even know her name. He calls her Lulu because she reminds him of Louise Brooks, the silent film star. Maybe it’s that little bit of anonymity that gives Allyson the freedom to do something that’s so out of character. The freedom to eschew her plans to spend just one day with Willem in Paris.

One day in Paris. One day to see the sights and experience all that the City of Light has to offer. One day to fall in love with Willem, a young man who is so different from the Allyson she’s always been. Here she’s Lulu, a girl who takes things in stride, who has the attention of someone who could be–and probably has been–with dozens of other girls. It’s not easy to leave her good girl image behind, but Allyson wants to be someone different with Willem, and she’s coming to think she can be different when she returns to her real life.

All of that changes, though, when Allyson’s one day in Paris comes to a shattering end. After waking to find Willem gone, Allyson’s entire world seems to explode, and she doesn’t really know how to put the pieces back together. Nothing seems to fit anymore, and Allyson is struggling. It’s hard to admit that one day, one boy could have such a huge impact on her life, but Allyson will have to face what happened and the still unanswered questions if she has any hope of moving on with her life.

In the year after her day in Paris, Allyson must come to grips with how all of this has changed her. She has to deal with going back to being the “good girl” everyone expects and all of the pressure that entails. She faces the undeniable truth that she’s not the person she once was, and she’s no longer content living out someone else’s dreams. She must do what feels right to her…even if that means standing up to her parents, becoming more independent…and returning to the “scene of the crime” and discovering just what happened to make Willem walk away from her.

As Allyson attempts to make sense of everything that has happened in the past year, she’ll also discover that she’s stronger and more capable than she thought. Even if she never discovers why Willem left her, her quest for answers may just leave her with the peace and determination to become exactly who she was meant to be.

_______________

I think you can safely assume that I adored this book. If I weren’t so held back by my own fears–much like the Allyson we see early in this book–I would take off right now on a Parisian vacation, hoping to find my own sense of peace. Unfortunately, I am a big chicken, and that just won’t happen. (Not to mention the matter of not having the money and having to attend a conference for most of this week.)

I’d love to have a journey of self-discovery like Allyson experienced. I imagine that many readers will feel a similar longing. Even with the lows that Allyson dealt with after her day in Paris, she learned so much about herself. She learned that she had to let go of some things, even friendships, her parents’ expectations, and her own need to please those around her. I’m thirty-five years old, and I wish I could do that. Maybe one day.

While I’m envious of Allyson breaking free of her own boundaries, I’m also insanely jealous of her travels through Europe. The only time I’ve been out of the U.S. was when I went on a cruise to the Bahamas. I’ve wanted to travel to Europe, particularly Great Britain, for as long as I can remember, but finances, health issues, and a hefty dose of fear have always held me back. Allyson has inspired me, though. I’m somehow finding a renewed determination to make my dreams a reality. I’ve now got the beginnings of a plan in my head–a plan to save some money, lose some weight, and finally turn my desire for travel into a reality. How long with it take to put this plan into motion? I have no clue, but at least I’m getting started. Thank you for that, Allyson and Gayle Forman!

So, I finished Just One Day late last night, and I fully intend to start reading Just One Year, the companion novel from Willem’s perspective, within the next hour or so. (I have a two-hour ride to Atlanta ahead of me, so I should be able to make quite a dent in the book.) After that, I will read Just One Night, an ebook novella and the final chapter in the captivating story of Allyson and Willem. I can hardly wait to get started!

If you’d like more information on Just One Day or the other amazing books by the brilliant Gayle Forman, check out her website (which has quite a bit of info on the upcoming movie adaptation of If I Stay), Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. You may also want to take a quick look at the Just One Day book trailer below. I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I have!

The Titan’s Curse

I just finished The Titan’s Curse, book three in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, and I must say that these books are freakin’ awesome! I am obsessed with this series, and I plan to start reading book four, The Battle of the Labyrinth, as soon as I finish this post.

In The Titan’s Curse, Percy continues to fight against Luke and the return of the evil Titan lord Kronos. He is joined by Annabeth, Grover, Thalia, two newly discovered Half-Bloods, and the goddess Artemis and her Hunters. After hearing a particularly disturbing prophecy from the Oracle, Percy knows that things are only going to get worse before they get better.

Things get worse pretty quickly. Artemis and Annabeth are missing, and Percy and crew plan to save them. Of course, they battle lots of bad, bad monsters along the way, encounter a creature that could change the fate of Mount Olympus and their lives forever, and continue to deal with their father issues. Will they be able to rescue Artemis and Annabeth before all hope is lost, or will Kronos use them to move one step closer to destroying all of Western civilization? Read The Titan’s Curse to find out!

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!

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!