As we head into the holiday seasons. We find us spending more and more time appreciating the family we have whether they are the family we are born into or the family we chose. I thought I would highlights books about families that aren’t born but ones are created.
The Circle of Magic series by Tamora Pierce (Middle Grade) : This series revolves around 4 children, who find themselves alone in the world, discovering strange powers and finding a home at a school of magics.
The Twelve by Cindy Lin (Middle Grade): After Usagi’s sister is taken by the most recent round-up by the Dragon Lord to capture all those with Zodiac powers. She teams up with others to learn the history of her powers and save her sister.
The Gilded Wolves series by Roshani Chokshi (Young Adult): Séverin is a hotelier in late 1800s Paris. He has spent most of his life looking for a way to reclaim his birthright within the Order. The is given the opportunity to do so but only by completing the impossible. This is a crew that have known each other their whole lives and it reads like it.
A Long Way to A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (YA/Adult): Rosemary Harper needs to escape and she finds her path off her planet on a crew of the Wayfarer. The crew takes on the dangerous but lucrative job to tunnel wormholes in the galaxy. It’s a really exciting and heartfelt space adventure.
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune (Adult): Linus lives a quiet unassuming life in the middle of a hectic city. He works as a social worker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He is sent on a mission to evaluate a home that is housing 6 “dangerous” children. Linus is supposed to determine whether the children and their caretaker, Arthur, are a danger to each other and the world.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (Adult): Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced by the Bolshevik court to a lifetime imprisonment in the Metropol hotel. Despite never having worked a day in his life, he develops deep bonds with the other staff and guests over the years.
So for the past week I have been mostly off the grid on a family vacation in Anchorage, Alaska. It was amazing. I have wanted to go to Alaska for such a long time (yes, partially due to Son of Neptune, but it counts). It did not disappoint in beautiful scenery and adventuring time.
My favorite part of traveling anywhere new is the food. It is often slightly different that local fair, but something to make it special. In Alaska there were some very unique types of foods, elk meatballs, for example. One of my pizzas had reindeer fennel sausage. The sushi in Alaska was of such good quality because of the freshness of the fish, highly recommend at least once. One of my family’s places to go when traveling is to local dive restaurants it’s normally really good homey food where you get a sense of the local flavor.
Alaska is well-known for it’s wildlife and it is in fact recommended that you buy bear spray no matter where you hike. We luckily never needed it. We actually didn’t see a lot of wildlife except for a couple very cute harbor seals, a fat moose, and a lot of birds. Actually one of the highlights of my trip was explaining to a man from Hawaii that chipmunks were full grown and not just babies. (Apparently chipmunks do not occur in Hawaii). One of our best tourism stops was the the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center where they rescue and rehabilitate or permanently home wildlife. We saw some amazing creatures there. Also, Santa’s reindeer were most likely girls.
As a PS there were two porcupines, this one is Kit-Kat (and missing a leg) and the other one is Snickers!
All family vacations are hard because it is 100% of your time is spent with the same people. Which fyi is hard no matter how much you like your family it is a lot of exposure! So that can become emotionally draining. As well as especially if you hard-core tourist like me either have a very long day of walking and/or driving in a car. So it can be physically wearing also versus the relax you may be expecting. We ended up averaging about 5-7 miles a day. It was absolutely incredible, except that time when we ended up getting lost down a bike trail on a mountain. No matter how taxing the views were always worth it.
Overall, Alaska is 100%, maybe 98% worth the journey, plus no sales tax.