Friday, December 5, 2014

#CBR6 Review #30: Approaches to Art Therapy, Theory & Technique, Edited by Judith Rubin

One last textbook review for the year! At least that’s what I’m telling myself. In Judith Rubin’s second edition of Approaches to Art Therapy, she invites various authors and therapists to contribute chapters on their different theoretical approaches towards art therapy. These are divided into various subsets, including the psychodynamic approaches, humanistic, psycho-educational, integrative, and systemic or group therapy approaches.

As with any book written with various authors making contributions, some chapters read easier and are more inviting than others. Similarly, some of the theoretical frameworks are much easier to understand and I seem better able to connect with than others. Yet, seeing a vast range of approaches to one field is always important, as all the different frameworks contribute something different that may be more useful to some patients than others, and can be integrated into a therapist’s main theoretical approach that they develop personally over time.

While I am more familiar with the psychodynamic theories as originally developed by Freud and Jung, I am particularly drawn to the humanistic theories (including Gestalt, Phenomenology, and Person-Centered Expressive Arts Therapy), as these are more based on the actual expressive experience of the client. But let’s not go too deep into all that right now.

All in all, I read through this book quite slowly, but it was good in giving an overview of many of the various theoretical approaches that an art therapist may use or integrate into their personal practice.

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]

Friday, November 21, 2014

#CBR6 Review #29: Hawkeye, vol. 3 – L.A. Woman by Matt Fraction

I adore Matt Fraction’s depictions of Hawkeye. He comes across as so dry and hilarious, while still having a huge heart and caring for those around him. This volume of the Hawkeye series, however, focuses on his young, female Hawkeye friend, Kate Bishop, who is sometimes just as ridiculous as Clint Barton when she gets herself into trouble. It’s funny, too, because I had just finished reading this book the other day when my friend text me to ask if I wanted to go to the archery range as she needed to de-stress from her studies (neither of us practice archery but we went anyways and it was a good time), and I noticed that I was wearing a lot of purple, just like Kate does. Coincidence? Probably. Also I realize that that was a bad story... Aaaaanyways:

In “L.A. Woman”, Kate buggers off across the country to Los Angeles for some time alone, only to end up in a huge mess of a situation basically from the moment she gets there. And who is to blame for everything? Kate’s foe, Madame Masque, who she previously had altercations with. But despite wanting to get out of town almost as soon as she arrives, Kate is just like Clint in wanting to finish what she starts, and taking care of those who have a part in her life. She may come across as an angsty young lady at times, but she has spunk and charisma: people are drawn to her, just like I am drawn to reading about her character.

So even though this volume of Hawkeye may not have been about our usual, surly hero, Clint, I was not disappointed in following this Young Avenger for a little while. We even got a bit more of a glimpse into her life and where she is from, which up until now has been particularly elusive or left out of Fraction’s comics. If you like the superhero genre, I would definitely recommend at least trying this series out.

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

#CBR6 Review #27-28: Chew, volumes 4 & 5 by John Layman and Rob Guillory

 I feel like there are so many comic book series that I start but don’t keep up with in a timely manner. It’s been almost a year since I last read an installment of Chew, but I still managed to remember most of what was going on. That might be because this series is just so different and strange, that it’s hard to really forget. Or maybe it’s just easy to remember once you get back into it. Describing the plot of this series is difficult if you haven’t read any before, however, as things get… weird.

In any case, volumes 4 and 5 of this series are entitled “FlambĂ©” and “Major League” respectively, as we follow Tony Chu through his cases with the FDA, only to eventually have himself and his partner transferred to other law and enforcement divisions. Meanwhile, an ominous message in flames is seen in the sky, which is assumed to have been put there by aliens. Chu’s daughter also gets tossed into the middle of things, and we find that she too has a particular, food related gift. And of course, as always, more new abilities are exhibited in new characters, including a Effervenductor who can control people through messages in coffee foam, a Voresoph who becomes smarter the more he eats,  and a Xocoscalpere who can sculpt chocolate into forms so accurate that they mimic what they depict exactly (ie, a chocolate sword that can slice just like a real sword).

I feel like my description of these books is making little sense, but if you are already into reading the Chew series, then you know how bizarre and gruesome (yet enjoyable) they are. They are imaginative and perhaps a little gross at times, but interesting enough and with so many threads being sewn into the mix of things that I want to read more and find out where this all goes in the end.

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

#CBR6 Review #26: Kingdom of Scars by Eoin Macken

The simplest way to describe Eoin Macken’s debut novel Kingdom is Scars would be to say that it’s about an Irish boy just living his life and experiencing the things that teenage boys go through: trying to fit in and become a part of a group, being bullied at school, disrespecting authority, flirting with petty crime, first sexual encounters, being unsure how to deal with girls, drinking, smoking, and all other kinds of things.

And while this may make it seem like just another one of those novels trying to be ultra profound about growing up and coming into manhood, Kingdom of Scars doesn’t seem to try and be extremely poetic about the experiences at all; that is not to say that there is no skill in the writing, but the story told just plays out as if to say, “it is what it is”. In fact, I have difficulty describing what the overall plot of action would be in this novel, as it comes across almost as a series of connected vignettes of one boy’s experiences that come to affect him, his actions, his relationships, and his understandings of the world. Our lives are a series of moments and experiences that shape us, and that is what I see Kingdom of Scars as describing.

The protagonist of the novel is young Sam, who lacks a circle of friends at school (save for one boy), and is trying desperately to be fully accepted by a group of boys who he lives by that he likes to hang out with on a regular basis. The novel follows Sam for a period of time as he engages in different acts and experiences with the boys he wants to be a part of, as he is introduced to a girl and takes his first steps into the world of dating and sex, and as he learns what it means to assert yourself when you need to. In the middle part of the novel I got a little excited by the prospect of there possibly even being a little bit of a surprise paranormal element to the story, but that didn’t really play out like I thought it might (not that that’s a bad thing, I just really like supernatural stuff).

More than anything, however, I was struck by how Kingdom of Scars seems to examine this idea of the illusions we hold of people (though that might just be my interpretation of it): Sam would be seen holding people in such high regard and wanting to be closer to them, only to find that perhaps people are not all that they seem once we do break the barriers and come to know them better. People float in and out of our good graces as our illusions of them are broken by their actions or our new understandings of things, and the more you learn about someone or go through your life experiences, the more you come to grow in terms of seeing people for who they truly are, and seeing yourself for you who are. These are the things that I ended up thinking about while I was reading this novel, and I particularly enjoyed the fact that it got my mind going about such topics.

Overall, I read Kingdom of Scars quickly, and it’s not difficult to get through as the language is reasonably straightforward and effective. While many may be tired of reading angsty teenage stories about growing up and experiencing the world, I found the novel to be illustrative on the experiences that many may have, and to be presented in a way that was simple and not exhausting like I often find some of the more weighty writing styles to be. But then again, that’s just me!

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]

Monday, September 29, 2014

#CBR6 #23-25: Systems Therapy, Genograms, and Helping Skills

More textbooks! I swear this isn’t all I read, but when you have to read so much for school, the last thing you want to do when you have free time is crack open another book (so shameful, really, but I just got a few new comic books I should be able to work my way through soon!). And so, here are a few more of my required readings for my current educational program in art therapy.

This joint review is for the following:
- Essential Skills in Family Therapy: From the First Interview to Termination (2nd edition) by Patterson, Williams, Edwards, and Chamow
- Genograms: Assessment and Intervention (3rd edition) by McGoldrick, Gerson, and Petry
- Helping Skills: Facilitating Exploration, Insight, and Action (4th edition) by Clara E. Hill

First things first, “Essential Skills in Family Therapy” focuses on the basics of working with families and other systems in therapy. What I liked most about it was the fact that they did not assume the reader would be well-versed in any particular therapeutic language and addressed the reader as a “beginning therapist,” as this is basically an introductory book to working with family systems. It also made sure to note many common fears and issues that beginning therapists have, with tips on how to deal with these as they arise, as a way of putting the reader’s mind at ease, which I definitely appreciated as right now I am not the most confident person when it comes to therapeutic skill.

“Genograms: Assessment and Intervention” is a basic starter book on how to both build and explore genograms in a therapeutic setting. There are some interesting genograms included as examples of different famous or historical families, which shed some interesting light on various families that I never knew before (though it is pointed out that the information included is what has been shared in public record and may not be 100% factual, though it is often believed to be). And although the book goes deep into how to interpret genograms and work with them, I found it beneficial in a simple sense of coming to be familiar with what genograms are, how to start creating basic ones, and how they can be useful in therapy and exploration of the self through looking at patterns and history and relations to others in one’s life.

Finally, “Helping Skills” is another introductory book on the helping and therapeutic professions. I have a bit of knowledge in these areas, and the book is thick and I felt like it was dragging in parts that I was already familiar with (though that is no one’s fault but my own). Like the Family Therapy book discussed above, it also lays down some guidelines and examples of working in therapy, along with skills that one should know and typical issues that a beginning or inexperienced therapist might run into, along with tips on how to potentially avoid these issues and how to deal with them when they occur.

All three of the books have been helpful in one way or another, but at the end of the day they are textbooks, and I’m not sure who would want to read them unless someone was just generally curious as to the basics of working with genograms, family, and individual therapy.

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]

Monday, August 18, 2014

#CBR6 Review #22: American Vampire, vol. 3 by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque

I have this problem where I always say I’m going to read the next volume or book in a series as soon as I can, but since I always have so many series on the go, it ends up being far too long before I actually get reading the next installment. In any case, it’s been a while since I’ve read any American Vampire, but fortunately I seemed to remember most of the characters and what-have-yous from the previous volumes when I picked up this third collection of issues #12-18.

Volume 3 is split into two major stories, both set within the timeframe of World War II. The first tale, “Ghost War” focuses on the vampire Pearl’s husband, Henry, as he goes on a mission to Japan in the hunt of a new breed of vampire, only to find an island with an infestation that is far more than he (and a tag-along Skinner Sweet) had bargained for. The second half focuses on a miniseries entitled “Survival of the Fittest,” with vampire hunters Felicia Book and Cash McCogan going to Nazi-occupied Romania in search of a cure for vampirism, that Felicia desperately wants in order to remove the non-manifested vampiric blood she has in her veins, while Cash wants to use the cure on his vampire son. But when they go, they find that perhaps their enemies at war are not necessarily searching for a cure, but to ally with the creatures of the night, while the doctor searching for the vampiric cure has other ideas in mind regarding the awakening of great vampires of ancient history.

As per usual, the action is fast-paced, and the story of the vampire bloodlines and evolution is very interesting as we continue our trek through history. The only thing that I was having trouble with was discerning certain character faces from one another at different times, particularly the soldiers while they were in Japan. But I don’t know, maybe that’s just me. In any case, this may not be my favourite comic-book series, but I still enjoy it quite a bit nonetheless.

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]

Sunday, August 10, 2014

#CBR6 Review #21: Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes by Cory O’Brien

“Hey, is there a female version of wingman? Wingwoman sounds awkward. I’m coining a new phrase: Titcaptain. Tell your friends.”

This is it, that book that became a sensation because of Tumblr. And that is in fact where I first found out about it too, only to be so intrigued by the hilarious chapter titles (ie, “Ganesh is the Very Definition of an Unplanned Pregnancy”) that I had to read it.
Essentially, Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes is a collection of a few myths from various cultures and religions, but told in a somewhat non-canonical but still reasonably accurate manner (the degree of keeping canon to the source material varies from story to story and the author’s familiarity with it, it seems). And the manner of retelling is absolutely hilarious, as though some bro just got really jazzed about some myths and HAD to tell you about them because they are so strange and interesting: O’Brien doesn’t hesitate to mention how weird and random these myths are, no matter what culture or religion they are from, spanning from Japanese to African, from American History legends to Native American creation, Christian biblical tales to Buddhism and Scientology, and even some evolutionary science of the creation of the universe. But what ties these stories all together is how themes and personas seem to crossover between many cultures, and the ridiculous “moral” to each story that is added to the end, such as: “although the temptation may be great, you should not assume that everybody you meet is a shape-shifter. It is almost as dangerous as not assuming everyone you meet is a shape-shifter."

The neat little wrapup that is provided at the end of the book is also a nice touch (although quite a shift in tone), as it basically summarizes the idea that no one way of looking at these things is necessarily correct, and all these myths and stories have just been created by people to try and make an account for things that we may not be able to understand or explain in some ways.

Some of the cultures’ myths made no sense to me the way they were told (such as Egyptian, though I am not very familiar with these myths at all), while others were an absolute riot, such as Greek and Norse in particular which I do have a little experience in learning before. Basically, it’s the even cruder and non-censored version of these myths told in the most outlandish way possible, and if you are familiar with the myths to begin with you can’t help but laugh and think, “that’s it! That’s exactly what happened!”

I will admit, however, that reading this in one shot might be a bit much: the humor gets a little tiring at times if you read too much at once, so I would suggest doing it in small installments (which is easy as each chapter is reasonably short and quick to read). I can also see how this humor is not for everyone as well; it’s a little coarse at times, but honestly I just heard myself while I read in my head, and the way that I like to explain stories to my friends in the most flippant and excitable manner. All in all, however, I laughed out loud a few times, and would recommend Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes to anyone who enjoys mythology and all the wacky stuff that happens therein.

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]

Monday, July 14, 2014

#CBR6 Review #20: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

With accompanying illustrations by Keith Thompson, Leviathan is a young adult’s Steampunk mechanics vs. Biopunk Darwinists tale set within an alternate history of the initiation of World War I. And at the end of it I was thinking, “that’s it? That’s where you leave me?” only to be pleasantly surprised to discover that Leviathan is only the first in a series of novels (how I wasn’t aware of this before, I’m not sure) that I definitely plan on continuing with when I am able to.

The story begins with two separate focuses: Alek, the prince of the Autro-Hungarian Empire, on the run from the country that has turned on him with a small group of loyal men after his parents are assassinated, and Deryn, a young woman who disguises herself as a male in order to join the British Air Service. For the first half of the novel we see these two young people’s lives being swept into adventure and danger as the beginning of the war in Europe unfolds, and I kept wondering how their two paths would ultimately cross, where they eventually did. But the Austrians are what are known as “Clankers” and invested in creating mechanical war machines, while the English are “Darwinists” who biologically engineer animals and creatures for their usage: does this mean that these two young people will be enemies based on their national backgrounds, or unlikely allies due to the secrets that both of them hold?

The descriptions of Leviathan are vivid, making you feel as though you can really see and hear the strange contraptions and creatures presented, though Keith Thompson’s illustrations scattered throughout help to understand Scott Westerfeld’s vision of this world he has created. The illustrations are detailed and wonderful to see, and the story itself moves along at a quick pace, though I often found myself drawn far more to Deryn’s story than that of Alek’s, despite the fact that I sometimes found Deryn’s use of slang terms of her time/class to be a little over-used or unnecessary. Perhaps my preference from Deryn came from loving the feisty attitude she held, while Alek often seemed a bit too irritating and pompous for my tastes, though that definitely is an important aspect to the character.

Overall, however, and keeping in mind the fact that Leviathan was written to appeal to young adults, I definitely found myself enjoying it and wondering how exactly the reimagining of historical events would turn out. I guess the simplest way to describe this book would be to say that it was just a fun and easy read, with some interesting and creative visions thrown in there. Hopefully I can find and read the next in the series, Behemoth, soon!

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]

Friday, July 4, 2014

Some Drawings I've Been Working On...

Although I am also posting this over on my art blog, I am excited to be finished an art project I've been working on for a while (especially since I haven't had a whole lot of time to work on projects for myself recently)! And that project is a set of portraits of all the lovely young men in One Direction. Did I also mention that I'm going to Arizona to see them in concert for the first time later this year? I'm extremely excited for it! In any case, here is my completed project, though I still have to actually physically attach them in a single frame in order to put it up somewhere.

Each drawing itself is 3.6''x10'' in pencil, using various references (and you can see a somewhat closer look at each of them individually: here). 
So what do we think? Do we like them? Personally, despite the fact that I am always insanely critical about my own artwork, I'm pretty pleased about with they all turned out.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

#CBR6 Review #19: Peter Panzerfaust, vol. 2 – Hooked by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Tyler Jenkins

It’s been almost a year (if not more) since I read the first volume in the Peter Panzerfaust series, which I absolutely adored! And so I had forgotten a few details about what actually happened in the previous installment. But once I got into it, I remembered quickly, and thoroughly enjoyed this second volume entitled “Hook”.

This volume includes issues #6-10 of the comic series, and picks up with one of the French orphans, Julien, at an older age; here, Julien recounts the tales of his group of brothers in war led by Peter, as they try to find and rescue their lost friend, Felix. Along the way, the group meets up with a French resistance, and joins forces with them. One of these French members is a young woman named Tiger Lily, who is tough as nails and Julien soon falls for. We also once again meet Kapitan Haken, whose encounter with Peter is very intriguing due to that which it seems to reveal, but also leave hidden about who Peter truly is.

All in all, this volume continues with an interesting take on the classic story of Peter Pan, but set during the Second World War. The drawings by Tyler Jenkins are energetic and engaging, and I thoroughly enjoyed the inclusion of some strong female characters in this volume. I just wish that each volume could be longer, so I guess I will have to try and pick up another one soon to keep going with these captivating characters.

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]