Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What 2 Read Wednesday:
"None of you are going to die..."
Book Review: The Iron Trial
by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

"None of you are going to die
and you're obviously not dead."

Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, The Iron Trial
Book #1 in the Magisterium series

Having recently reread the entire Harry Potter series with SC, I was slightly skeptical of how good another book about a boy who just finds out he is magic and goes off to a special school would actually be.  J.K. Rowling has set the bar pretty high.  However, other than a few similarities (which would probably be present in ANY book about magical kids going to magic school), this book is it's own story.  

Callum Hunt is a twelve-year-old boy with a physical disability who has to go through the "iron trial," an entrance exam of sorts to the school of magic called the Magisterium.  His father, who was a mage and went through the school, encourages Callum to do all that he can to fail, because he believes the Magisterium is a terrible place, fraught with death and war.  He points to the fact that Callum's mother died just after his birth, because of a war brought on by the mages, as proof of this idea.  Though Callum does his best to fail, he is still chosen to be an apprentice by the same master who taught his mother and father, along with an orphan boy, Aaron, and a girl, Tamara.  Callum's father fights to take him away before the mages can gather them to leave, but is hauled out of the building, and Callum is taken on to the school.

Black and Clare create their own world, with their own set of magical rules, and in some cases delve where Rowling does not dare, complicating the good vs. evil narrative in fascinating ways.  For example, one of my (and SC's) favorite parts of the story is when Callum finds a wolf puppy in the woods.  This is just after a huge battle with "chaos ridden" wolves, ones who have been infected (for lack of a better word) with chaos magic, the dark and potentially evil magic that "devours."  Callum cannot help himself in rescuing this potentially dangerous pup, because he knows what it is like to grow up without a mother, and the pup (later named Havoc) not only brings Callum and his fellow apprentices closer together, but shows them all that there may be more to the magical dark area than the simple dictate "chaos wants to devour."

All in all, this is the perfect series for us to follow up a reading of Harry Potter.  It is HP on steroids, and both SC and I are now firmly enveloped into the Magisterium world.  We cannot wait until the second book,  The Copper Gauntlet, comes out next September.

**This post contains affiliate links.  Please read my disclosure statement.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

10 FOR 10: Trip #4
Grand Cayman

"The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
for He has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers."
Psalm 24:1-2


Our fourth 10 FOR 10 trip was one simply for family time and relaxation.  Over the past couple years we have been lucky enough to take a trip (though some through tagging along for AC's work) to an "exotic" beach location during the early winter months, and this year we planned one specifically to recuperate from the busyness that our life has recently become.  Even on our other beach trips, there has always been an agenda of adventure or work, and while this one did have an exciting learning experience with some aquatic wildlife, most of the time we sat on the beach or lounged in the water.  AC and I spent a ton of time talking about plans for 2015, while SC was in and out of the water all day, building sand structures, making friends with other vacationers, and looking at all the fish milling about with her scuba goggles.  It was the most easy, relaxing, do-nothing trip we have ever taken!  It is definitely on our list of places to go back to one day.

The one adventurous part of the trip was when we went to swim out in the ocean with semi-domesticated sting rays.  We went on a tour that included a stop at "Stingray City," a sandbar out from the north side of the island, plus two snorkel stops over the various barrier reef chunks.  The stingray swimming was interesting, though we will probably never do that part again.  The water at the sandbar came up to my chest, and there were hundreds of stingrays of all sizes swimming at various ocean depths in and around all the people.  I say they are semi-domesticated, because they are used to being fed, so they are curious and friendly, but they have not had their stingers removed, so your feet must stay firmly in the sand.  With the water level up so high, and the surf moving you around, it isn't very easy.  AC had an easier time staying in place because he is taller, except he was holding a squirming SC who was terrified of getting stung.  She was actually fine until some of the other women in the tour group started shrieking, and then she got it into her head that she had something to be afraid of.  The two snorkel stops were amazing, and we saw so many interesting fish. We saw a "stars and stripes" puffer fish, so many angel fish, schools of silver damselfish, bright blue tangs, a needle-nosed gar, and a "stoplight" parrotfish.  Luckily, we didn't see anything scary or dangerous like moray eels, barracuda, giant grouper or lionfish. We regretted our decision not to bring any cameras at this point, though we did it on purpose so as not to be constantly looking through a lens vs. experiencing and relaxing.  Oh, well!  We did get a few fun shots from the cameras on the phone while we were on the beach.

Finally, if you know me well, you know that I collect artisan pottery (mostly mugs) from each location we visit.  Usually I forget to do any research beforehand, which leaves us trying to cram in a last-minute unplanned trip to a local artist shop nowhere near where we are staying or going for the last day.  This time, however, I made a plan and found 3 Girls and a Kiln online, and was able to contact them about what they might have to offer and how to purchase.  They crafted this beautiful mug with coral on one side, and the Grand Cayman motto (from the Psalm listed above) on the other, and actually delivered it to me at the hotel since I was leaving before the next craft fair day.  

In case you missed the first post ...

Next July, AC and I will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary, and as such have been discussing what sort of big trip to take.  However, it occurred to me that we typically take some pretty big trips every year, sometimes as a tag-along when AC works, and sometimes just using all the points and miles he has amassed from his work travels.  I couldn't help but wonder if another trip would really be that special and different.  So, I came up with the idea that instead of just one more trip, we should take ten trips to celebrate our years together.  I told AC, and told him that it didn't have to be just him and me (because SC is also part of our lives, obviously), but that I wanted to take ten purposeful trips, that are focused on celebrating us (and our family) as much as we can.  I told him that they didn't all have to be long or complicated trips, though we had already talked about a few places that will be, and we can start now (in our tenth year) and run through the end of 2015 so that we didn't take too much time away from work.  So, hopefully, these ten trips will make this a celebratory year, one that will stand out for us as we look back (in another ten years).

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...