Saturday, December 20, 2014

#CBR6 Review #31: Hellblazer, vol. 2 – The Devil You Know by Jamie Delano

I told myself I would not end this year’s Cannonball read with a review of a textbook. And so, here is the second volume of Hellblazer, which I finally managed to find over a year after I read the first volume. Though I normally can pick up a series and remember most parts of what had happened previously once I get back into it, I had trouble this time, to be honest, and needed a refresher to really start enjoying the story again. Overall, my feelings towards the Hellblazer series so far are similar to my feelings regarding the Constantine tv show that the books have now spawned: it’s a pretty good read and interesting, though there isn’t really anything that makes me feel as though I need to keep going or need to know what happens next. The best thing this series has going for it is the main character, John Constantine, who is curmudgeonly and full of personal demons that all seem to want to spill out while he fights… literal demons (and I might add that the character is what I find to be the best part of the tv series so far too, and Matt Ryan is just stellar playing him, while the story is kind of hit and miss for me).

The Devil You Know picks up after the previous volume, and features some flashbacks to John’s early days when he was in a band with some fellow magic enthusiasts. It tells the tale of one of John’s first major losses against a demon which has affected him ever since, which then leads us to a new fight with that same demon in a more present time. The volume also includes some serious dream sequences and a lot of gross body horror. The artwork itself featured in the book is not of a style that I typically like all that much, though there is still a clear talent in drawing there. I was more drawn to the artwork of the final story within the book, which was painted by David Lloyd (co-creator of V for Vendetta). This tale centers on a mysterious young woman adopted from another country, who seems to leave nothing but sadness and peril behind whenever she meets someone. In all honesty, this was the most interesting story in itself within this collection of issues, in my opinion.

Overall, I’m not sure I’ll really keep going with this series. Not that it’s bad or anything (I mean, I do love all the supernatural elements to it as always), but there are just so many other series that spark my interest more. I do love this character though, and find him to be super intriguing.

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site, and think about signing up for Cannonball Read 7!]

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!]

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

#CBR6 Reviews #17-18: More on Art Therapy...

I promise that I will read and review something different soon, I’ve just been very focused on my school readings right now. And so, here is some more on art therapy! And two very different approaches and focuses within the field at that:

- Studio Art Therapy: Cultivating the Artist Identity in the Art Therapist by Catherine Moon
- Introduction to Art Therapy: Sources & Resources by Judith A. Rubin

Judith Rubin’s Introduction to Art Therapy is just that: an overview of the different possibilities inherent in the field of art therapy, taking a look at the various pioneers of the field who contributed to its history and progression to today, as well as many of the different theories and practical models that may inform one’s practice. The book is a conglomerate of a broad scope of information, yet doesn’t go too in-depth in any particular area. Interspersed throughout, Rubin provides personal cases that she has faced with a number of clients over the years, showing how each client who receives art therapy is different, and therefore requires a sensitivity from the therapist as to which approach will work best for them. While interesting, I found the book to be a little thin in terms of providing just a quick glimpse of a wide range of topics and theories, without providing any true of understanding of any of them. But as a starting-point to possibly inspire more researching and reading into one of the many areas covered? That’s basically what I felt like I was getting into.

Catherine Moon’s Studio Art Therapy on the other hand, was presented as though the reader was already an art therapist (or someone studying art therapy) themselves. Although she clearly presented some of the practical and theoretical bases of the field and her practice, the majority of the book came across as a personal reflection of the importance of knowing the self before being able to help others or to sense what another may need. Many of the stories of clients and experiences Moon presents show how much she relies on her senses and being attuned to the situation and energy of those around her to determine what best to do in any therapeutic situation. Maybe coming across as a bit whimsical or metaphysical at times, I appreciated how sensitive Moon appears to be to others and their needs, as well as her own. This is definitely a skill that I am trying to work on in myself, particularly for my own future studies and (hopefully) work in art therapy.

At the end of the day, Judith Rubin’s introductory book might be good for someone who wants an overview of the field of art therapy, while Catherine Moon’s would be beneficial to those looking at practicing art therapy and being unsure as to how one might come to foster their identity as an artist, a therapist, or both.

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

Friday, June 6, 2014

#CBR6 Review #16: Spirituality and Art Therapy: Living the Connection by Mimi Farrelly-Hansen

An edited collection of essays from a number of different practicing art therapists, from a diversity of backgrounds. Each author presents a different view of art therapy practices, and stems from a different spiritual background, yet they all focus on the connection between creative expression, artistic practices, and the spiritual sense of the human soul. Ranging anywhere from Christianity to Buddhism to Spiritualities connected to the Natural world, the authors tell their personal stories, as well as those of clients that they have worked with, all using the arts to connect them with something greater outside of the self. In turn, discovery of the self and the spirit comes from relating and engaging in the artistic and spiritual world.

Now, this all may sound a little hokey to some, and I understand that: art therapy isn't for everyone. But for those that can really engage and connect to the process, it can be vital in providing a sense of healing, or at the very least, a release of some kind. This book definitely has it's ups and downs in terms of essays that really resonated with me, but all in all, I found myself understanding where the authors and artists were coming from. Being an artist and student of art therapy myself, it would reason that I would find Farrelly-Hansen's collection to be interesting and informative. For others, however, it may be a little dry or seem a little too whimsical. I just don't really know anymore, as when I speak to some about the idea of art therapy, they are incredibly receptive and see it as being a very useful practice. Yet when I speak to others, they are extremely skeptical about the whole thing, and think that it would be a waste of time. I suppose that is what this book would be like, as well: you might buy into it, you might not. Just like the whole concept of spirituality and the multitude of ways to look at that in itself, not even in relation to artistic practices.

One of my personal favourite instalments within the compilation was entitled "Each Time a New Breath" by Bernie Marek, which looked at the creative process through a Buddhist lens: the intake and outtake of experience, moment by moment, allowing things to be present as they need to be, and healing through having a sense of wholeness of the self, opening up to the rawness of our world and our experiences. 
I'm realizing that this review isn't coming across as helpful at all, is it? I guess all I can say is that I found Spirituality and Art Therapy: Living the Connection to be easy to read, and I can definitely see how it relates and will be helpful to my understanding of my studies (yes, this is once again a book I am reading for school). If you are interested in art therapy and how it relates to spirituality, then by all means, read it as well! I certainly found the personal stories included to be quite interesting. 

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

Thursday, May 22, 2014

#CBR6 Reviews #13-15: Psychotherapy, Spirituality, Ethics, Art Therapy, and a Whole Number of Things...

They may technically be textbooks, but I read them from front to back. And considering how I’ve been powering through so many lately, the last thing I want to do when I have free time is read anything for myself, even something fun (guess that means more time for drawing One Direction fanart portraits… I mean… uh…??).

And so, here are my reviews #13-15, for the following books:
- Spiritual Care and Therapy: Integrative Perspectives by Peter Van Katwyk
- Ethical Issues in Art Therapy (2nd Ed) by Bruce Moon
- Issues and Ethics in the Helping Professions by Gerald Corey, Marianne Corey, and Patrick Callanan

Starting with the introductory-type book on Spirituality within the therapy profession by Peter Van Katwyk, the book did a good job of covering a number of topics largely focused on family systems and the integration of spirituality therein. There were a number of diagrams focused on helping styles and orientations that were well thought-out, but perhaps could have used a bit more explanation. For an introductory book, there seemed to be a lot of assumption that the reader would be reasonably versed in the language and concepts already.

Conversely, and to it’s great benefit, the Issues and Ethics in the Helping Professions text by Corey, Corey, and Callanan was written in a way that appeared to be sensitive to those who had little experience in the helping professions, but also included ideas and questions for those who were already involved in some areas of the field; this made it more applicable to the study and interest of a larger audience. In fact, despite the fact that this text was the longest, had the most technical information, and had the possibility to be the driest in terms of reading, I found it to be not only the most informative, but also the most engaging. When presenting a different range and types of ethical issues that both students and those working within counseling or psychology might face, the authors made sure to reiterate that they cannot give you all the answers for your ethical dilemmas, and that sometimes it depends on whatever body governs you wherever you work, but they did provide some helpful commentary and things to think about which might guide you in making ethical decisions. They also hit on points and issues that I never would have thought of in my current limited experience.

On the other side of the ethics coin was the text by Bruce Moon, on Ethical Issues in Art Therapy, which is the specialized stream that I am currently studying. Considering how art therapy itself is still quite an emergent field, the book was present in a similar manner to the one of Corey, Corey, and Callanan in that Moon made sure to state that he cannot give you any answers, and that you will need to determine the best course to take depending on the context and regulations of each case and ethical issue you face. However, he seemed to leave you out in the water a bit more to question what exactly you would do, without any real suggestions or things to consider. That is not to say that he didn’t pose questions to work through, but the whole book seemed to be an exercise in generating more questions and (for myself anyways) a bit of anxiety and rushing to look at the specific ethics codes that I will likely be following where I am from and for the bodies I will possibly be looking to in the future. However, I did leave reading this book with knowledge and awareness of some of the unique ethical issues and questions that art therapists might face in their field that those in other helping professions might not.

All in all, these texts were reasonably informative and helpful to me at this point in time, however, I definitely feel as though Issues and Ethics in the Helping Professions by Gerald Corey, Marianne Corey, and Patrick Callanan was the most well-presented, the most thorough, and yet somehow the easiest and least tiring to read despite its length as compared to the others.

[Be sure visit the Cannonball Read main site!]

Thursday, May 1, 2014

#CBR6 Review #12: Locke & Key, vol. 4 – Keys to the Kingdom by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

Just as the whole series of Locke & Key started out gruesome and somewhat upsetting, so does Keys to the Kingdom hit the same stride. Developments are made regarding the identity of the dark woman, and teenage hormones run wild as relationships are formed, splintered, patched, and ultimately scarred beyond ever returning to the way they were. And poor little Bode is left taking more hits than he should, as he is essentially left at the mercy of the actions of his siblings and the consequences of their decisions with the Keyhouse keys.

We begin with some seemingly normal issues for a family to have, with young Bode having difficulty making friends: the drawing style from his point of view is even more along the lines of a Calvin & Hobbes-esque story than the typical Locke & Key artwork. But things soon start getting tangled and dark, as the Locke children are attacked multiple times, in multiple forms all created by the Dark Lady. New keys keep getting found in the house, some of which are useful during these attacks, and some of which are dangerous. These include the skin-changing key, the angel key, the music box key, a key for strength, and a key that opens a door full of surprising things. More importantly, however, we begin to see how Kinsey might be regretting removing her tears (and in part, some of her emotional range), now that she likely cannot regain this aspect of herself.

As well, Tyler begins making strides in determining who the Dark Lady attacking them really is. Yet, as always, she (or, I guess, he) is always one step ahead of everyone else, leading to a bloody finale that only makes me want to know what is going to happen next.

I continue to be engaged by this series, in particular the section of this volume entitled “February” where the real chaos of the lives of the Locke family was shown, with day to day attacks and changes in their lives: it really captured how so much happens to us every day, not just physically or literally, but emotionally and internally. I don’t know when I’ll be able to read the next volume of Locke & Key, but plan on it as soon as I can.

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site]

Thursday, April 24, 2014

#CBR6 Review #11: Locke & Key, vol. 3 – Crown of Shadows by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

I am very much enjoying the Locke & Key graphic novel series, and am so glad that my sister is letting me read them (even before she has a chance to)! The plot keeps moving along at a not-too-rapid pace, yet every volume is filled with new mysteries, developments, and dangers that this poor family has to face. I find it all to be so riveting, but then, this genre is really right up my alley. If you haven’t read any of the previous instalments of the series, you might be a loss as to my explanation coming up, but here’s what the 3rd volume holds:

 More pages turned in Locke & Key means more keys found at the Key house Estate, yet none of them seem to be the one to the “black door” that Zach/Lucas/Dodge is looking for (whatever his real name is). He is relentless in his search, looking to the ghost of Sam Lesser for help, and treading on the Locke children as they get in his way; he does this all while simultaneously maintaining a friendship with the children, who are still trying to piece their lives together after the loss of their father.

Within this third volume of Locke & Key, the Locke children are faced with a cold reality, and that is that they are alone: their mother is with them, but is she really there? The kids are beginning to realize that their mother cannot help them, and that they must turn to one another when they are threatened, and must work together to try and find the key that the mysterious woman in the well house was looking for, before she can find it.

Along with the new keys (the Giant Key, the Shadow Key, and the Mending Key) that we see in Crown of Shadows, we also begin to see the repercussions of Kinsey removing all the fear from her head in the previous volume: she is not afraid of telling her mother what she thinks about her behavior, and she sure isn’t afraid of social ostracism at school, which leads her to make some interesting new friends that may put a wrench in Zach’s plans to get close to her in order to get closer to his mysterious goals.

As I said before, this kind of story is definitely my kind of thing, and it feels incredibly original and refreshing, yet still so dark and eerie. If you are a fan of the graphic novel genre, I would definitely give it a look if you haven’t already.

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

Sunday, April 13, 2014

#CBR6 Review #10: Spirituality - A Very Short Introduction by Philip Sheldrake

One of the first readings in my new course of study focused on psychotherapy and spirituality, I embark upon a journey of discovering what exactly spirituality is, what it might entail, how it might be different in every individual person, and what exactly my own spirituality might be. The concept is complex, and reducing it down into a short little introductory book like Philip Sheldrake attempts is no easy feat. While he presents the diversity of interpretation and complexity that the term “spirituality” brings in the modern day, I left almost with more questions than answers. I understand that spirituality is a personal thing that each person has to discover and somehow define themselves in each of their own lives, but it truly is a baffling idea to even begin to study: where do you ever start? That’s the real question, I feel.

Sheldrake presents different contexts wherein spirituality may be found, how these might relate to different religions, life practices, and world-views. What he obtains in presenting the great breadth of the topic, however, he does at the expense of depth. This was designed to be a short introduction, after all, and therefore each idea that is discussed appears to just whip right by to get to the next one. I suppose that what it does succeed in, however, is intriguing some interest in delving deeper into whatever facet or spiritual mindset inspires the reader the most. As such, this is a quick and somewhat interesting read to begin understanding the complexity of spirituality in today’s world, despite maybe not being the most comprehensive as each subject is sped through with an apparent intensity to get to the next topic.

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site]

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

#CBR6 Review #09: The Mortal Instruments 4, City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

I told myself I was done with The Mortal Instruments books after the third one…. but then my friends and I were discussing how corny the movie was, and some things about the next few books were mentioned and well, my curiosity got the better of me (I’m weak, okay?). Considering how I already had the whole series up to this point already acquired on my reading device, I saw no problem in just taking a gander at what happened next to these characters I’ve already spent some time with, even though now the whole thing is a little tainted by the whole plagiarism and Weasley incest fanfiction thing that I was unaware of before (yeesh). And I have to say, given that this 4th novel in the series features Simon as a central character whose point of view takes more precedence than before, there is less adolescent moping about Clary and Jace’s “forbidden love”. Though, who am I kidding? The story is still wrought with their yearning for one another and difficulties communicating even though they don’t seem to want to live apart even for a second. Oh my goodness, just talk to each other instead of running from your problems! That seems to be the thing that bothers me the most about all of the characters: they don’t want to deal with things, they just want to mope and stew and see how things turn out without taking action when really they should be taking action.

All that being said, City of Fallen Angels is definitely more interesting in terms of plot than the preceding book in The Mortal Instruments series. This largely has to do with the fact that the threat of Valentine has finally been eradicated (or so we think) and so new threats and villainous personalities can be woven into the fabric of this supernatural world. Also, Simon’s character gets to grow and we get to see the struggle he has being a new vampire, which removes the focus from Clary and Jace. I know that those two are the main characters, but I’m getting tired of them. Also, the whole special snowflake thing about Clary not thinking she’s special but then being the most special of all, who every guy has a thing for even though the way they describe her is actually really creepy: they just keep talking about how tiny and vulnerable she looks? I don’t know. It makes me think of those girls in high school who are reasonably nice girls but for some reason every guy has a thing for her, and you ask a guy why everyone likes this girl so much and they give you extremely vague answers or explain traits that literally every girl has and you just leave confused as to what it is that everyone sees in her, you know what I mean? Okay, maybe I’m going off on a tangent here.

In any case, if you’ve read some of the other books in this series, by this 4th one you probably already know how you feel about them. I really like the concept and interpretations of some of the monsters and folklore in this series, but the characters really get on my nerves and their relationships are very stiff. So I don’t know how I feel about it anymore…

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

Favourite Skate of the Day: Duhamel and Radford, 2014 Short Program

Just after their 3rd place finish at the World Championships, I remembered how much I adored Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford's short program skate in Sochi for the Team Skate event. Did you know that Eric Radford actually composed the music for the skate as well? It's beautiful, and just matches the skate and the unique choreography so well! The connection in their partnership is clear, the two of them land all of their jumps almost effortlessly, and this performance helped to solidify a Silver medal finish for Canada in Team Skate as well (which, of course, I was extremely happy about).

Unfortunately, once again, I can't embed this video, but you can find their stunning performance here

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Favourite Skate of the Day: Yuzuru Hanyu Crushing it in Sochi

Tomorrow (or I guess tonight technically?) the World Figure Skating Championships start in Japan. So before those get under way, here is the incredible, record-breaking short program that Yuzuru Hanyu performed in Sochi, right before he and Patrick Chan both stumbled their way through their free skates (it pains me to think about it, because I know that they are both so much better than that). It's so flawless, and he brings so much sass and personality to certain moves in it that I just fell in love with him. Also I'm pretty sure Jeffrey Buttle choreographed this program for him (but correct me if I'm wrong), which makes so much sense when you look at the kind of moves and style in there. 
I look forward to seeing what Yuzuru's career holds in the future, and wish him luck performing in his home country within the next couple of days; I'm sure he's going to blow the roof off the joint! But for now, let's revisit his amazing performance in Russia earlier this year:

(Unfortunately the only video I can find of the actual skate won't embed so you'll have to follow this link here to see it).

(He's really cute, you can't deny it.)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

#CBR6 Review #08: Locke & Key, vol. 2: Head Games by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

This series keeps drawing me in with so many questions and little mysteries about all of the different characters, and if someone hadn’t already borrowed my sister’s copy, I would have kept on with the 3rd volume in this series immediately after finishing Head Games. There is something really refreshing about the familial mystery to be found in Locke & Key, with cleanly detailed artwork that just adds to the overall appeal.

This second volume, Head Games, picks up with the Locke family, and the eerie new friend of Tyler’s, Zach, who was previously in the form of the woman in their old well house. Zach is recognized at the high school by one of the old professors, who identifies him as an old student that had disappeared over twenty years earlier. Zach sees this information as threatening his plans, and decides to “deal with” anyone who seems to recognize him even in the slightest. He does this all while posing as the nephew of the high school gym teacher, who appears to have known Zach back when he went by Lucas, as was a student at the school herself.

Meanwhile, young Bode Locke at the Keyhouse estate continues to explore and discover new areas of the large house. At the end of the previous volume, Bode had found a key at the bottom of the pond on the estate, and works to figure out what the key’s purpose is. When he realizes it’s somewhat magical abilities, he rushes to show his family, and yet, his mother appears to not even notice what is going on. There are many instances where it is hinted that adults may not be able to see the magical properties of the world like children, which begs the question as to whether or not the Locke kids are going to have to deal with some kind of attack or threat from Zach on their own in the near future. With each discovery at Keyhouse, Zach appears to make new and evolving plans, though what exactly his endgame is, we don’t know at this point.

Overall, I’ve been finding Locke & Key to be very interesting so far, and it’s not afraid to be a little gruesome and dark at times (yet as of now, it hasn’t been too over-the-top, which is always good). I would highly recommend it to fans of the graphic-novel genre, particularly things that are a little mysterious, and I hope to read some more soon, as always.  

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

Friday, March 14, 2014

Favourite Skate of the Day: Kevin Reynolds' AC/DC Short Program

Today we have a routine by the lovely Kevin Reynolds, who I sometimes refer to as the True Elf Prince (sorry, Legolas), skating to a musical selection by AC/DC. And why have I chosen this skate today? Because even though he may not land some of his jumps, there is nothing more wonderful than someone being true to themselves. Most of the other competitive skaters may perform to classical music or a swelling movie soundtrack, but not Kevin (at least not in this program): he chooses to skate to the kind of music he loves, with minimal costuming and a little personality flare in his moves, which just shows how much fun he has with the choreography of his program. 
Keep on doing your thing, Kevin, you marvellous being. And might I add, that your long limbs are ridiculous and amazing? Because they most certainly are.

(The skate doesn't begin until about the 3:00 mark of this video):

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Favourite Skate of the Day: Jason Brown's "Riverdance"

Today's skate that I want to share is of Jason Brown's free skate at the 2014 US Open championships. I hadn't really heard of this young man until recently, and absolutely fell in love with this skate for a few reasons: first and foremost, because you can clearly tell that he is having so much fun performing it, and I can't help but smile while watching him. He has so much energy and flexibility in those long limbs of his, and his split-jumps are amazingly effortless! There is something so infectious about Jason Brown already in his career, and I can't wait to see what he accomplishes in the years to come. 
Plus, who doesn't love a good routine set to the soundtrack of Riverdance?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Favourite Skate of the Day: An Explanation of My Weakness that is Figure Skating, Plus Patrick Chan's "Phantasia"

After meeting me, it's only a matter of time until you find out that I am quite a big fan of figure skating (particularly men's figure skating), though this interest is something that ebbs and flows depending on the time: however the Sochi Olympics just refuelled that fire, and I am once again completely in love with the sport.

Because of my rekindled affection for figure skating, I've decided to periodically post videos of some of my favourite skating performances, starting now. But first, some explanation:

Figure skating requires an intense amount of athleticism, which I think some people often forget, as it is technically a "glamour sport". But behind the shiny veneer and effortlessness that is presented, I'd hazard to say that any skater is not a world-class athlete. How many people do you know that can dead-lift a muscular girl while speeding across ice on two blades, only to hold her with a single arm, or throw her up in the air and put her back down light as a feather? It takes strength, balance, agility, flexibility, and all kinds of other skills. Can I figure skate? Oh no, definitely not. I mean, I can skate just fine, as any average Canadian can, but as soon as it comes to spins or balances, jumps or tricks, I'm afraid that I am lacking. But that doesn't mean that I don't love watching those who can! In fact, I can't seem to get enough of it these days. 

When I was younger, I adored Michelle Kwan, and put up huge cutouts of her from newspapers in my room. I later found great enjoyment in seeing Kurt Browning, Elvis Stojko, and Evengy Plushenko skate, which carried me all the way into my teens where I became enamoured with Jeffrey Buttle. I remember at the 2006 Turin Olympics, waiting nervous as numerous skaters performed after him, while he clung to the Bronze Medal position, only to go on to win the bronze, and blow everything out of the water to become world champion a few years later. It seems like it's always the Olympics that stir me up again (even though I often do get engaged in the World Championships as well), and I also remember getting so caught up in Joannie Rochette's emotional performance at the Vancouver 2010 games (another bronze-winning skate!).

Of course there are so many other skaters that I adore these days, and apparently I know far more about the figure-skating world than I ever realized, as evidenced by all the "fun facts" I've been spewing the past few months. But I don't think any skater has really captured my heart so much as Patrick Chan: I recall seeing his 2nd place skate at the 2009 world's and thinking "I like this guy. He's going to be great." And I was certainly right, as I've since followed him through a 5th place finish in Vancouver 2010, another silver at worlds, followed by 3 consecutive World Championship titles, which is an accomplishment that currently only 2 other men in history have achieved (including fellow Canadian Kurt Browning!). And I continue to love Chan --not just because or since he started winning, like some people suggest-- but because there is simply something special about the way he skates. Also, when I first became aware of Patrick he was only 18, and I was also 18 so... well... obviously I developed a bit of a crush on the guy. How could I not? That's what your teens are for, and he's absolutely adorable!

In any case, to kick off this series of my favourite skates, here is Patrick Chan's Free Skate from the 2011 Canadian Championships. 
This is from those few years where Patrick kept skating to music from the Phantom of the Opera, which seemed to really work for him. The footwork sequences of the choreography are just perfect for him, and I absolutely love the costuming as well (plus Shawn Sawyer's face is priceless near the end; you're great too, Shawn!). 

This has been my first favourite skate of note, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do (well, that may be a bit difficult, but I'm sure you know what I mean). 
Hopefully there will be more to come soon (if I have the chance to post), and if you have any favourite skates of your own that you love for any reason at all, tell me about it, because I'd love to see them!
...... Now everyone knows that figure skating is my weakness, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, March 7, 2014

#CBR6 Review #07: Lucifer, Book 2 by Mike Carey

Collecting Lucifer issues #14-28, and presented in a series of 3-part tales, Lucifer, Book 2 packs just as much interest, theological imagination, grotesqueness, and creativity as the first volume in the series. This kind of thing is definitely not for everyone, and my appreciation of the illustrative qualities varied from artist to artist within the book. However, I once again thoroughly enjoyed the characterization that Mike Carey has created in Lucifer, many of the issue covers and artworks separating the different sections within this book are absolutely stunning!

The second volume of Lucifer picks up where the first book left off: with Lucifer in the process of creating his own new universe. This new realm lies within no boundaries of authority but his own, and without the presence of God or the other heavenly warriors, many different sects of spirits, demons, and other creatures all want a slice of the new world under the Morningstar’s rule. Schemes are made, and deals are laid out on the table, but Lucifer denies all, even to those close to him; the only rule that governs his realm is that no worship can exist, for God, for any other deity, or even for Lucifer himself, and yet many try to garner the favor of the Morningstar by promising their fealty to him.

Many characters from the first volume reappear, in order to either resolve or continue their stories. This includes major revelations with the spirits of the Basanos tarot deck that have inhabited the singer Jill Presto, as well as the fate of the angel Michael’s daughter, Elaine, who is coming to terms and learning more and more about her half-angelic abilities. It is definitely a good thing that I read the first volume of this series not too long ago, however, as I could see myself forgetting certain details and plotlines that found there way back into the story here; that being said, the attention to the detail and not leaving any strand untied is definitely one of the strong points of these books.

I am excited to keep reading this series, as it is definitely right up my alley. I believe the next full volume will be coming out in the second half of March (not long now!), and would love to see where Lucifer’s tale goes from here. It’s complicated and engaging, and I enjoyed book 2 as much as I did book 1. If you enjoy graphic novels, particularly those with a similar style to The Sandman or Hellblazer, then I would certainly reccommend taking a gander at the Lucifer series. 

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

Friday, February 21, 2014

#CBR6 Review #06: Locke & Key, vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

A recommendation from my sister who hasn’t even read this series yet, but she was told by my cousin that it is really good. And I have to say, the first volume of Locke & Key is a solid and intriguing start to this somewhat spooky and supernatural comic book series. Collecting the first 6 issues, volume 1 is entitled Welcome to Lovecraft and is written by Joe Hill, with engaging artwork by Gabriel Rodriguez: the artwork has a clean style that isn’t too flashy, and so doesn’t distract from the progression of the writing.

Welcome to Lovecraft begins with the murder of a man in the presence of his three children, by two teenagers, one of whom knew Mr. Locke (the murdered man) as a school counselor, and also had had words with Mr. Locke’s eldest son, Tyler. After this grizzly event, the Locke children move with their mother to their family estate in Keyhouse. Each child tries to cope with the death of their father in a different way, though something is clearly a little strange with both the house, and the history of the family. In particular, the strange events surrounding the reasons for Mr. Locke’s murder don’t stay away for long, and certain paranormal activities come to life within Keyhouse, some of which are sinister, and others that may or may not be helpful to the family. The youngest child, Bode, is the one who experiences the most of this activity, but of course the family just thinks this is his wild imagination that is making him tell them about the strange things he is experiencing… at least, they think so in the beginning.

There is clearly something deeper at play that the first volume of Locke & Key suggests at but doesn’t reveal quite yet. This has made me very interested in keeping on with the series and its interesting premise, as Welcome to Lovecraft is a strong start to what I can only hope continues to be an original and mysterious tale.

[Be sure to pop on over to the Cannonball Read main site]

Thursday, February 13, 2014

#CBR6 Review #05 - Egghead: Or, You Can’t Survive on Ideas Alone by Bo Burnham

If I had to summarize my feelings for this book in one sentence, it would read something like, “This is so silly, but I love it!” In all honesty, I don’t know why I had never heard of Bo Burnham until recently, and I must say that although he is a little ridiculous and random, I find his brand of comedy to be extremely amusing.

Egghead: Or, You Can’t Survive on Ideas Alone is a short book of poems with accompanying drawings by Chance Bone; the setup sort of reminds me of Demetri Martin’s writings at times, though with differing comedic sensibilities. Many of the poems come from Bo Burnham’s various standup routines, which are always a little scatter-brained, yet enjoyable.

For the most part, the poems found in Egghead are short, random, and ultimately very clever. Some, I might even call rather profound, or at the very least, quite sweet. An example of such is the poem entitled “Gypsy” which reads:

“On Wednesday morning, clear and calm
I went to Astor Place
and had a Gypsy read my palm
or maybe just my face.

She said my heart was heavy
and my head was stuffed with lies.
But things like that weren’t on my hand
they hid behind my eyes.

The room is dull and dank and cold
but at least I have a hand to hold.”

On the other side of the spectrum, many of the poems presented are just plain absurd and juvenile. And yet… I can’t help but laugh at them. For example:

“duh, duh, duh, duh,
duh, duh, duh, duh,

duh, duh, duh, duh,
duh, duh, duh, duh,

Generally speaking, however, there is a wit to these short, stand-alone writings, and the drawings that go with the poems are just as ridiculous, yet fit so well with the tone and words that they accompany. Every now and again there is a crassness to the poems, but it is typically utilized in a comedic or meaningful way, so as not to seem like the explicit language is just being thrown in there for the sake of it (though every now and again, maybe it is).

I can definitely see why some people might not like this book, as the humor is not for everyone. But I myself enjoy it, and happen to like reading little books of poems every now and again, between all the other academic or typical novel reading that I get up to most of the time.

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read group blog]