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Middle School Monday – The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

MSMI was so pleased to find that The Copper Gauntlet more than lived up to the promise of the first book in the Magisterium series, The Iron Trial. Initially as I read The Iron Trial I thought it was a good fantasy that my students would enjoy, but maybe lacking in the depth I was looking for…until I got to the end. It turned out that almost the entire book was set up for several very important plot twists that I never saw coming. That’s a difficult one to pull over on someone who reads as much MG and YA fantasy as I do. I was duly impressed. This next installment in the series  keeps both the action and the plot twists coming.

If you haven’t read The Iron Trial, stop here and go read it. Very little of what comes next will make sense to you. I’m going to try to convey a sense of how good this book is without giving away any spoilers – wish me luck.

Callum is at home for summer break with his father. Things are tense, since Alastair never wanted Callum to attend the Magisterium, or know anything about his magical abilities in the first place. Add to that the presence of Callum’s chaos ridden wolf pet, Havoc, and you start to get a feel for how things are going. Callum ends up running away from home in fear for his life and finds himself taken in by the family of his classmate and friend Tamara (whom is also hosting the third in their group of friends from the Magisterium, Aaron, the Makar, wielder of chaos magic.)

Meanwhile, someone has attempted to steal a magical item called the Alkahest, a gauntlet that gives it’s bearer the ability to separate a magician from his powers. While everyone fears that it is The Enemy and his forces who have attempted the theft in order to use it on Aaron to separate him from his chaos magic, Callum has a different theory. He believes that it is his father who has tried to steal the Alkahest in order to use it on him. To understand why, you need to have read The Iron Trial.

Once they are back at the Magisterium for their second year of school, it slowly becomes clear to Callum that he must leave and try to stop his father, all the while protecting him from the council, who would probably have him killed rather than allow him to use the Alkahest. In leaving, he manages to take along both Tamara and Aaron, who refuse to let him go on his own, as well as his pet Havoc and the reluctant Jasper, who tries to stop them from leaving. The action continues apace, until the end when there are several plot twists and interesting developments.

13612962One of my favorite things about this series is how it deals with the conflict of good and evil on so many different levels. It ripples out from the heart  of the story (Callum) and touches every person and all of their decisions. We see multiple times individuals who are otherwise ‘good’ do something ‘wrong’ because they believe it is the only way to save someone or something they love. We see otherwise ‘evil’ people protect what they believe in with a matching devotion. We see people who are only out for themselves. Within all of it, we see flawed, multidimensional characters in high stakes situations unsure of whom they can trust. It makes for a fascinating read as well as an interesting foray into the complexities of real life for readers at an age where they are just beginning to see beyond the black and white they’ve been taught into the myriad shades of grey that make up our world.

I wholeheartedly recommend this series to anyone serving ages 10 and up.

Things I’m Not Over: 3 of Christie’s Book Feels

We LOVE Popwatch blog at Entertainment Weekly, and they have a regular ongoing feature called “I’m Still Not Over” which is, quite frankly, genius.  So inspired by this feature, we have decided to share with you some of the book moments, both good and bad, that we will never get over.  By their nature, these posts will sometimes be Spoilery, so read at your own risk.  Thank you Popwatch for the awesome inspiration.

Supernatural: CW


About some of the books I’ve been re-reading…. 
If you don’t want spoilers, don’t follow the link….

 Cassandra Clare’s The Clockwork Princess.
The triangle with Jem and Will and Tessa is just too too much!
And the way that it ends!
The ending of Mockingjay.
I was completely fine without the last chapter. I did not need to know what happened, or that there were marriages and kids and everything else.
And while we’re on Mockingjay, Finnick and Annie. Really? REALLY?!?!?
The Deaths in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
I could get over Hedwig, and I was still pining for Serius and Dumbledor when I hit this book, and the loss of Fred, Tonks and Lupin was just horrible. And then SNAPE. All the history about Snape and Harry’s mother and everything….

Book Review: The Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Henry lurched to his feet, his gingery hair matted with blood and ichor. His gear was torn at the shoulder, scarlet fluid leaking from the would. “Tessa,” he exclaimed, and then he was beside her, helping her to her feet. “By the Angel, we’re a pair,” he said in his rueful Henry way, looking at her worriedly. 

“You’re not hurt, are you?”

She glanced down at herself and saw what he meant: Her dress was soaked with a spray of ichor, and there was an ugly cut on her forearm where she had fallen on the broken glass. It didn’t hurt much, yet, but there was blood. “I am quite all right,” she said. “What happened, Henry? What was that thing and why was it in here?”

A guardian demon. I was searching Benedict’s desk, and I must have moved or touched something that awoke it. A black smoke poured from the drawer, and become that. It lunged at me-“

“And clawed you,” Tessa said in concern. “You’re bleeding-“
“No, I did that myself. Fell on my dagger,” Henry said sheepishly, drawing a stele from his belt. “Don’t tell Charlotte.”

Tessa almost smiled; then, remembering, she dashed across the room and tugged open the curtains across one of the tall windows. She could see out across the gardens, but not, frustratingly, the Italian garden; they were on the wrong side of the house for that. Green box hedges and flat grass, beginning to brown with winter, stretched out before her. “I must go,” she said. “Will and Jem and Cecily- they were battling the creature. It has killed Tatiana Blackthorn’s husband. I had to convey her back to the carriage as she was near fainting.”

There was a silence. Then: “Tessa,” Henry said in an odd voice, and she turned to see him, arrested in the act of applying an iratze to his inner arm. He was staring at the wall across from him- the wall Tessa had thought earlier was oddly mottled and splotched with stains. She saw now that they were no accidental mess. Letters a foot tall each stretched across the wallpaper, written in what looked like dried black blood.

And there, beneath the scrawls, a last sentence, barely readable, as if whoever had written it had been losing the use of his hands. She pictured Benedict locked in this room, going slowly mad as he transformed, smearing the words on the wall with his own ichor-ridden blood.

Mortmain is tightening his plan around the Shadowhunters, and while he lurks in the shadows, his intent is clearer than ever: he wants Tessa.  Will and Jem, along with the rest of the London Institute, are determined not to let him have her, especially as it’s clear that she’s at least part Shadowhunter. However, when she’s taken from them, Tessa realizes that she must be the one to rescue herself- but how, even with a clockwork angel protecting her?

The Clockwork Princess, the third and final book in the Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare, is a wonderful finish to the series. Mortmain is plotting to be rid of the Shadowhunters once and for all, and to do that he needs what he’s wanted since the beginning:  Tessa Gray.  Part Shadowhunter, part something else, her abilities are crucial to his plot destroy everything Tessa has learned to care for, including Will and Jem. Yet Mortmain is not the only one with plots in place against Charlotte and her allies- the Consul is moving against her as well. Risking everything, they must defeat all of their enemies or perish.  The characters really grow within this series, and readers come to love them as their own; the heartbreak and anguish that they go through in this final book is rewarded only by the ending chapter.  Definitely give this series to those who are reading Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series (if only so they can trace where characters such as Magnus come from), or tie in with Kady Cross’ Steampunk Chronicles series or Fisher’s Incarceron duet. 4.5 out of 5 stars.  As of April 9, 2013, Goodreads has Clockwork Princess as 4.64 stars.

OMG, such a wonderful book.  I did NOT want it to end, and even when it did, I wanted more.  The whole love triangle between Tessa and Will and Jem is so poignant and agonizing, especially when you have to know that Jem’s time is limited, even more so with what happened in The Clockwork Prince (Mortmain buying up the drug, etc.). I was floored with what actually happened to Jem, and then with the final chapter I was gone, and my heart soared.  SOOOO wonderful, and with what is a perfect ending to a love story.

The developing love stories between the Lightwood boys and Sophie and Cecily are hysterical and completely spot-on.  I am now having to re-read The Mortal Instruments because I am trying to figure out who are the ancestors of Alec and Isabella in The City of Bones, because right now it could be either brother (I am leaning towards Gabriel, however- if you know, don’t tell me, because I can’t remember, and I’m waiting on the second book to come back). I could cheat and just go to the bookstore and look at the cover (my library covered it, so it’s sealed, so no genealogy chart for me) but I’d much rather try and figure it out for myself. And the relationship between Charlotte and Henry is so touching and real it just wants to break your heart.

There’s just enough of the mechanical and fantastical to keep readers of that genre interested- not near as much as the Steampunk Chronicles, or even The Clockwork Angel but then that’s to be expected in the final book.

I could totally live in this world if not for the stays and dresses. I’d be running around in pants.

TPiB: Steampunk in the Library

“I cannot imagine how the clockwork of the universe can exist without a clockmaker.” – Voltaire

Steampunk: Steampunk is a subgenre of speculative fiction, usually set in an anachronistic Victorian or quasi-Victorian alternate history setting. It could be described by the slogan “What the past would look like if the future had happened sooner.” It includes fiction with science fiction, fantasy or horror themes.(Urban Dictionary)
Steampunk is not tricky, it’s a way of looking at the world through a different lens.  Worlds that exist in the books of Cassandra Clare, Kady Cross, Kenneth Oppel, Cherie Priest, and Scott Westerfield and HG Wells help set the ideas that you’re looking for, and with these crafts to tie into those worlds, your teens will be into steampunk in no time….  Have ideas that have worked for you?  Share in the comments!


For day wear with a twist, think about creating a charm bracelet with shrinky dinks and old world charms added in.  If you don’t have the means to make the photos at your workplace, think about making them at home and bringing them in the day of with using teen volunteers to scouring old magazines for images. 

 Over the Cresent Moon’s blog has this example:

For a top hat with steampunk style and duct tape pizzaz, take a look at what Cut Out and Keep has on their site:
Or for your special someone, how about a button ring?  Lana Red has an easy tutorial: 

For those who have a writing bent in them, what about creating smash books (scrapbook by way of a junk drawer) with your teens?  Over on the Craftster site, there was some interesting ideas to get you started, like this one:
It starts from scratch, but if you get a DIY journal from Oriental trading like these, you could easily add embellishments to steampunk them out.
You could also collect all those metal tins (mints, gum, etc.) that your staff and teens have around, and make mini scenes and modge podge pictures into the insides and outsides of them.  Go Make Something has a good tutorial for prepping them (although I’m sure there’s others):

And the Guides from the Mesa Library has an awesome directory for steampunk and other crafts…