Monday, December 7, 2015

#CBR7 Review #29: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

“This is my problem. I want other people to tell me how they feel. But I’m not so sure I want to return the favor.”
(Bruh, did I write this? Because this sounds exactly like me. Get out of my head).

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a book full of lines that dig right into your heart. A book full of kindness and kind characters. Of feelings and phrases that seem almost too profound to be coming from such a young character, and yet it doesn’t feel as inorganic as many young-adult novels with characters who don’t feel organically young, just an image or distorted memory of what being young was like.
This book may tread on some familiar ground, and perhaps not all that much “happens” in terms of plot. And yet… so much happens. And every time the young protagonist drives to the middle of the desert to look at the stars I can’t help but think that that is exactly what this book feels like. Staring at the immeasurable sky above, with nothing but space to be. A warm breeze on the wind to tell you that maybe you aren’t as alone or small as you feel looking at something so infinite.
And apparently, I have a lot of thoughts about this book, just given all the things it reminded me of and all the emotions it seemed to stir up in me.

As I was reading Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, a few people asked me how it was. Every time I would respond with, “It’s just so GENTLE!” Because it is: it deals with some common and sometimes difficult issues that people encounter in their lives, but does so in a very thoughtful way. As Alire Sáenz himself writes, “To be careful with people and with words was a rare and beautiful thing.”

The novel itself focuses on a Mexican-American teenage boy in the late 1980s named Aristotle, —who prefers to go by Ari—over the course of a few years of his young life. Told from Ari’s point of view, we get a good look into all the thoughts and feelings swimming in his head, many of which confuse him and he prefers to keep to himself: we get to see so much more than he is willing to show or share with anyone else, and in a way that feels like a gift. And I too resonate with that feeling of not being able to or willing to show what is inside to the external world. It can be scary, even as an adult (well, more like an emerging adult, I guess). Yet, I also find so much resonance with the other main character of the novel, Dante, who is another young boy who Ari becomes close friends with over the course of the novel. Dante is exuberant and full of life. He is able to find so much delight in the world and wears his emotions like badges of honor. And sometimes that is me. The two boys couldn’t be more different on the surface, and yet somehow they manage to fit perfectly together. The novel continues to follow their relationship as it grows, falters, hurts, and heals, over the course of a few summers together. Themes of internal wars, family relationships (particularly those between Ari, his parents, and Ari’s estranged brother who is in prison), Mexican-American identity, hate crimes, coming-of-age, and sexuality are also addressed and weave throughout the lives of the two boys.

Here’s the thing: I don’t know why I am always drawn to young adult novels, particularly when I often get so annoyed by the young characters, or feel like they are just imitations of what teenagers are like (hey, I’m not saying they can’t be profound or smart, but they often read as really… pretentious? I mean I tried to be poetic at that age and boy was it garbage. That’s not to say everyone is like that, though). And we all know teenagers have a tendency to be pretty dramatic about their emotions, which can get tiring after a while. But this didn’t feel forced or inauthentic to me. Well, maybe there was the odd line or two I side-eyed, but that’s not saying much. And perhaps at times I thought that maybe Dante seemed like a bit of a caricature of a character, but not to the point that I was irritated by it. Really, the biggest issue with characters I had was the parents, because sometimes I just considered if I have ever met parents who speak to and have interactions with their children like the ones in this novel do. It’s hard to say, and it left me wondering. However, they are so kind and so caring and accepting, yet complete with their own struggles and issues that you cannot help but feel like they belong so completely in the world presented.

But regardless of this, the characters and how they are written and how they express their internal selves are the real strength of this novel, and something that drew me in right away. Because when it comes to the plot, at some point I got the feeling that I knew exactly where everything was headed, and that it could end in one of two ways. Yet rather than feeling overused to me, the overall plot just felt familiar, and almost comfortable to me. I realize that it is hard for me to write about this without some serious personal bias (can we ever write a review without some sort of bias?), but I was personally glad by how this story unfolded. Because so many books and movies today with LGBT+ themes are inherently tragic, and I hate it. Is that what my life (as a bi individual) is? Destined to be full of heartache and pain? Of hiding and being broken as soon as I let the greater world see who I am? It’s like Ari says, “Another secret of the universe: Sometimes pain was like a storm that came out of nowhere. The clearest summer could end in a downpour. Could end in lightning and thunder.”

But Alire Sáenz doesn’t do that. Really, the whole thing reminded me a lot of the Brazilian film The Way He Looks (Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho, in Portuguese). If you haven’t seen this film, I would very much recommend, as it is also very soft, gentle, and touching, and has the same feel as this book does. See, that’s what I mean about feeling familiar: it’s like I’ve seen another version of this story before, but it’s presented in a way that is emotive enough to be able to connect to in some way. And it’s also not incredible sexualized in the way that a lot of LGBT+ stories are. This reminds me of how Troye Sivan describes the story he presents in his song “Wild” (as a part of the “Blue Neighborhood” trio of songs, it’s called?), in that Ari and Dante’s story is about the young love we may find that is simply innocent and sweet, but still so meaningful and powerful.

And boy do I connect with a lot of the emotions and feelings presented in this novel. I relate to the struggle of really coming to understand what we are feeling inside of us (I think we can all relate to that in a lot of ways).
Of wanting people to let us in, but not being willing to do that in return. Of coming to learn new things about people that we never knew before, and wondering if we can truly ever understand someone else in their entirety.
“I got to thinking that poems were like people. Some people you got right off the bat. Some people you just didn’t get—and never would get”.
Of being afraid of what we feel inside of us, and trying to push them away, but ultimately getting angry and pushing those who give you those feelings away instead. And this hurts, but maybe you can heal at some point.
“Maybe we just lived between hurting and healing.”
These are lines that we may walk every day. I know what it feels like to slowly come to know yourself and to not be certain that you even like who this person is. To question who you are when you come to find new facets of your being.
“And I thought that maybe there were ghosts inside of me that I hadn’t even met yet. They were there. Lying in wait.”
Of being open with some but wanting to hide parts of yourself with certain people: in particular, my parents. They will more than likely be accepting of me, and yet like Dante, I feel like if I reveal particular aspects of my sexuality to my family they will be disappointed, and even if they are not, it ultimately changes how people see you. And that is a scary thing to think about.
I know what it’s like to have feelings for friends that they cannot reciprocate because of who they are, and you try to not be hurt, but it still burns inside. But you can’t blame them, and it makes you angry at yourself that you want to blame them, but also angry at them for making you think these things. We are constantly moving through life and discovering new things, and it changes us. And sometimes these changes are good and sometimes they are bad. And sometimes we would rather live in a world of not knowing than face what we might find inside of ourselves. In these ways, although I am not in the same stage of life as the boys in this book, I still see myself in them in many ways. There are emotions here that I think a lot of people can relate to, not necessarily in the same context, but they are the same feelings nonetheless. Do you see what I mean when I say I have a lot of thoughts about this book/inspired by what I read within it?

So the ultimate question remains: did I like this book? Yes I did. As I mentioned earlier, it is the embodiment of staring up at the night sky in the middle of the desert, with a warm breeze surrounding you. I ate it up. I wanted more. My heart feels like it has been wrapped in a hug. So sweet. So gentle. So pure. So beautiful.

Oh, and one last thing: I didn’t realize that Lin-Manual Miranda is the reader for the audio book version of this story. Which is awesome, and also somewhat hilarious and ironic given that one of the lines he has to say is literally, “I don’t want to study Alexander Hamilton.” (Can you believe this??)

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

Monday, November 30, 2015

#CBR7 Review #28: Border Crossing by Pat Barker

I really don’t know when and how I ended up with multiple novels by Pat Barker on my kindle, but here we are. And knowing that a few of them belonged to a series, I opted to read Border Crossing, a book dealing with child offenders of serious crimes, and examining the idea of people changing and finding redemption years later. Or is evil an inherent trait that can be found in children as well as adults? Honestly, the whole thing sounded kind of like that Andrew Garfield movie, Boy A, except in comparison, I found the whole thing rather bland. Or, maybe “bland” is not the right word… I guess it’s just that I felt like I needed more: more of everything. Some interesting topics and themes were brought up, but I never felt like we really got to the depth of them, or even to the depth of the character of Danny and his manipulative personality, which I found to be super intriguing and the strongest force in the story. Yet, I was left with a sense of just gliding through the whole thing with nothing to really grab onto.

The story of Border Crossing itself focuses on a child psychologist named Tom, who we first see saving a young man who dove into a river in attempted suicide. Tom soon discovers that he knows this young man named Danny, or at least, he knew the boy for a time years earlier, when Tom presented evidence that resulted in the conviction of Danny for the murder of an elderly woman when he was ten years old. But now Danny is out, and has a new identity, yet he seeks out Tom’s help to go back into his past and reconnect to what happened all those years ago. Tom soon finds himself questioning and crossing the lines between the personal and the professional, and asking himself if people can find redemption over time. He also grapples with how to best deal with Danny’s wishes and personality, as well as Tom’s own crumbling personal life. But of course, even though new identities may hold for a while, the newly committed crimes of two young children threaten to bring Danny’s past life back into the focus of the media, and expose him anew. 

Truth be told, I found the character of Danny to be incredibly intriguing, and just the way he interacts with and affects the people around him. Yet, I felt as though I didn’t get enough of him through the vehicle of Tom, and didn’t even fully understand what Danny was doing or wanted from going to see Tom again. So while there was some serious potential and great points scattered through the story, the whole thing fell a little flat and came across as anticlimactic to me in the end. Though, I will say that it was not a difficult read, which is always nice when you don’t want anything too heavy or requiring of extra focus (especially since I read most of this during down-time at work). But in the end, while there isn’t really anything wrong with Border Crossing, I unfortunately feel like it is ultimately very forgettable. 

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

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

#CBR7 Review #27: No One Belongs Here More Than You – Stories by Miranda July

Miranda July is an interesting case, isn’t she? Sometimes I don’t know what to make of her and her work, and I find that she can be pretty divisive. There are some that find her to be gentle, profound, unique, and have a strong voice, while others may find her to be too whimsical, awkward, etc. And I happen to be right in the middle. I absolutely adore some of her work, but other times I just can’t connect with it and think, “Okay… that’s enough of you for a while.” And while the collection of stories in No One Belongs Here More Than You had a few short stories that really struck me, overall there were more misses than hits, and I couldn’t help but feel like everything in it was slowly dragging me down.

It is true that July has a distinct voice, and there is a skill to capturing small, single moments in a way that make you see them as so significant. In many instances, however, these moments in July’s stories center around her character’s sensuality or instances of sexual intimacy, which more often than not came across as somewhat awkward to me, which made me feel awkward reading them. And that is not to say I am uncomfortable reading about sex in any way, but in this case I was simply put off by something in almost all of the pieces included in this collection. In a way, I guess, I could only handle reading about and imagining so many uncomfortable women (and one, singular male protagonist), slowly and knowingly walking towards their own self-destruction, or into a place of more confusion and unknowing than they started in, but not in a inspirational way: in a disconcerting way. Though through some reflection, perhaps I feel a bit put-off by this behavior due to recognizing my own manner of working through life and issues, which may or may not follow a similar pattern. Yikes.

Yet, amongst all the other seeming misses and inclusions I just couldn’t connect with, there was one longer story around the middle of the book that really struck me for some reason, titled: “Something that Needs Nothing.” This story focuses on two teenage girls who run away from their suburban lives to live together in the city. The phases and realizations in their relationships and the way in which the protagonist found strengths and weaknesses made me think of things that, while not exactly the same, bore resemblances to my own life. I was even inspired to write a poem (which may later become a song??) about the things and feelings this story brought up in my own mind. And it’s kind of powerful when you can be inspired to make your own creative response to the work of someone else (kind of like how a dancer may be moved to choreograph in a particular way after hearing a certain piece of music).

The fact remains, however, that overall I did not find No One Belongs Here More Than You to be a very strong collection of short stories. And that is a shame, seeing as I really thought I was going to like it more than I did after having been exposed to some of July’s work before. Though perhaps it was the fact that many of the narrative voices came across as the same to me, and after a number of stories and a number of different characters, it all just felt a little flat. Or maybe it was the fact that I could be intrigued and immersed in a tale, only to come upon a line that I wish was never included, or drew me out of the story completely with the way it came across. I guess there are a lot of things that are keeping me from really loving this collection by July, save for a few of the brief pieces included. 

In any case, here are a few quick lines about what/who each of the remaining stories in the collection focus on:

  1. “The Shared Patio”: a woman becomes transfixed by the man who lives in the building below her and yearns for a relationship with him. 
  2. “The Swim Team”: a young woman reflects on the time she taught a group of older people how to swim without a swimming pool.
  3. “Majesty”: a woman fantasizes about one of the royal princes and imagines how she might meet him on day.
  4. “The Man on the Stairs”: a woman hears someone slowly coming up her stairs in the middle of the night and contemplates how to face him.
  5. “The Sister”: an older man hopes to meet a co-worker’s sister in order to form a relationship with her, yet the sister is elusive to meet.
  6. “This Person”: a hypothetical person has a celebration thrown in their honor, yet this individual wants to do nothing but retreat into themselves.
  7. “It Was Romance”: a woman goes to a class to learn how to be romantic, yet finds that perhaps romance is not necessarily what we think it is.
  8. “Something That Needs Nothing”: as described above, the relationship between two young girls who run away together.
  9. “I Kiss a Door”: a woman learns a secret about a past friend of hers.
  10. “The Boy From Lam Kien”: a woman lets a young neighborhood boy spend time examining her world.
  11. “Making Love in 2003”: a young woman wants to publish a story of a dark being she was once intimate with, only to find herself believing that one of her students is this same being reborn.
  12. “Ten True Things”: a woman takes a sewing class to try and get to know her boss’ wife better.
  13. “The Moves”: a young woman reflects on the lessons her father taught her regarding having sex with a woman.
  14. “Mon Plaisir”: a couple who have been together for a long time decide to become background actors together as a way to make their relationship more interesting.
  15. “Birthmark”: a woman removes a large birthmark from her face, only to contemplate on what this action means and how her identity is still tied to this mark she once had.
  16. “How To Tell Stories To Children”: a woman becomes like a second mother to a child of her friend, which is inevitably a strange family situation.  

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

Sunday, October 18, 2015

#CBR7 Review #26: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places indeed deals with some dark issues, all centered on a character, Libby, who comes across as abrasive and unlikeable, yet she is still understandable and I was able to develop some empathy for her throughout the novel. I also personally enjoyed how the story was told as a series of present-day versus past event chapters, that alternated with one another to reveal different information from the viewpoint of different characters in a more staggered manner. This made the pacing interesting but not too straight-forward, and let me try and come up with my own theories along the way before the ultimate conclusion. Though at some points, I would get so interested in the past events of a chapter that I wouldn’t want to switch back to Libby in the present day just at that moment. 

Dark Places focuses on the life of Libby Day, 25 years after her brother, Ben, was charged with the murder of Libby’s mother and two older sisters when they were all children. Ben would have been 15 at the time, with Libby being around 7. Unsurprisingly, Libby has had a hard time adjusting to life after these events, and still holds some residual effects of experiencing such traumatic circumstances at such a young age. This leaves her now, 25 after, in a difficult financial position. Yet, she sees the opportunity to help herself make some money by agreeing to talk to people from her past regarding the night of the murders, after meeting with a club of sorts that like to investigate high-profile murders. One group, in particular, has been looking at her case and has come to a number of different conclusions regarding who may have in fact murdered her mother and sisters all those years ago. Libby had testified against her brother, but now she has to face the possibility that maybe he did not in fact commit the crime, and that her memory of that night does have some holes in it. Essentially we the reader are led to try and figure out what exactly occurred on the night of the Day murders while Libby herself seeks out information herself.

Along the way, we encounter a number of different topics, including guilt, financial difficulty, martial abuse, satanic rituals, peer pressure, and even the ever-tricky subject of child sexual abuse. That last point is a particularly difficult topic to address, and it just happens that I had recently watched Jatgen (The Hunt) with Mads Mikkelsen before reading this, which also dealt with the subject of children’s claims and accounts of sexual abuse that may or may not be accurate, and this is something that in my field of study can come up and needs to be dealt with in a very specific manner. When addressing such cases, you have to believe the child, and the child needs to know that you trust them no matter what they say. But as it is mentioned in Dark Places, the way in which children are questioned or treated in regards to incidents of sexual abuse is one that can sometimes sway children to behave in a particular way or say things that they think the adults want to hear, possibly even creating new memories of events. It is a hard thing to address, and something that I get really intense about, and I don’t really know how I feel about the way the subject was handled in this book to be honest (that is not necessarily a bad thing), but I think I need to reflect on it a little more before I’ll know for sure. 

In any case, I did get quite engrossed in Dark Places and the predictably dark subject matter. It doesn’t take long to get involved in making your own theories about what might have happened to the Day family, as slowly more and more information of the day leading up the murders is revealed. And really you just need to know what happened, so you keep reading. That’s what I found at least! And now I am definitely going to lend this one to a few friends who I think would also enjoy it.

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

Thursday, September 24, 2015

#CBR7 Review #25: Sabriel by Garth Nix

Let’s be real, I had no idea what this book was about before I started reading it. I wasn’t even aware that it was the beginning of a series! I just noticed the title when I was at the used book store, picking up some mysteries for my mum. And then I took a peek at the cover and thought, “why not!?” It looked like a medieval-ish adventure tale, and that is exactly what I got! And it was slightly confusing at times, perhaps due to the main character being just as out-of-the-loop and trying to figure things out as the reader is, but I still enjoyed the pace it clipped along at, with varying degrees of action and more stand-still or explanatory sections regarding this new fantasy world that the Abhorsen series presents.

Sabriel is a young woman, in the latter half of her teenage years, attending a private school in what I assume is our normal world, yet still being taught a variety of different courses in Charter magic, as she and a number of other students are Charter Mages. Or, more specifically in Sabriel’s case, she is the daughter of the necromancer, Abhorsen, which is a title that is passed down through the bloodline of the necromancer family. Not far from Sabriel’s school is a wall that leads to another, more magic-infused (and seemingly more medieval and less-modern?) world known as the Old Kingdom. This is where Sabriel’s father typically lives and attends to business keeping the dead at bay while Sabriel attends school in her own world, and has short visits with her father from time to time. Yet, the novel soon leads Sabriel on a quest in the Old Kingdom, as her father appears to be in danger. While Sabriel is equipped with some magical skills and is quite powerful for her age, growing up away from the Old Kingdom has left her unknowing of many facets to the kingdom and of Charter magic overall. She must find her father with what skills she has, learning on the way, and with the help of a powerful being held as a servant to the Abhorsen line for thousands of years, that now holds the form of a cat (and a snarky one at that, which goes as no surprise given what cats are generally like). Sabriel comes to learn of an evil in the Kingdom that her father has been chasing for many years, and involves the general downfall of the kingdom and dead rising in many areas. The royal family’s bloodlines and their history also becomes intertwined with Sabriel’s quest, in the form of a man who comes to be known as Touchstone. The two end up working together for a common goal in saving the Kingdom from some great and powerful dead, and while my description has already been quite vague, I won’t go into too much detail.

Overall, Sabriel is an interesting adventure stale of a young necromancer coming into her own. There are great points of action and suspense, despite the plot seeming somewhat cut-and-paste, while still being quite original in my eyes (I do like spooky stories about dead things and necromancy). However for some reason, there was one point of contention that bothered me far more than it should have, though this is likely to do with my general mindset on things these days. The romance between Sabriel and Touchstone (It’s not a spoiler, you see it coming the second Sabriel lays eyes on the guy) just seemed too convenient, yet also forced in how it came to be? Listen, I know how it is when you hang out with someone a bunch then one day it’s like, “Oh NO!” because you suddenly realize you have a thing for them. And that is kind of what happens in this story on Touchstone’s part (with Sabriel being more slow-coming). But I just wonder if it’s really necessary? And why oh why, in so many stories, you have two people fall in love and being all, “I can’t live without you!” after knowing each other for like, two weeks maybe? (How about y’all crazy kids calm down?)

But I say these things about romantic sub-plots in stories (and don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a good romance, and get all squeaky and giddy at cute things), because a lot of the time they seem to be thrown in there just because. And I am always especially side-eyeing this when it’s a heterosexual romance, not because I am against this, but because I have had so many people in the past complain about stories involving LGBT+ romantic sub-plots of being “too gay,” as in “we get it, you’re gay!” Whenever someone says that to me, I want to say something about how it wasn’t necessary for there to be a romance in Jurassic World, but I got that incredibly forced and pointless romance anyways despite there being more important things to worry about like people being slaughtered by dinosaurs. Or how many reminders I got in The Scorch Trials of just how straight all the characters were (I get it!). I mean seriously, if there is ANY opportunity to put a heterosexual romance into a story, by golly, they will find a way. But no no, I get complaints about things being too gay after there are maybe one or two different characters who may or may not be heterosexual present.

And so, I have become curmudgeonly about any romance in a story that I feel came about inorganically, or was not per-say all that important or moving. Did Touchstone and Sabriel have to become a thing? Nah man. Did it really add all that much to the tale? Not in my opinion. But like I said, that’s just kind of a qualm I have these days.

In any case, I enjoyed Sabriel quite a bit and am maybe interested in continuing the series to find out more about the young Abhorsen and all the things that come with the powers of being a necromancer. But, I maybe want to dive into something else first before I come back to her.

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

Friday, August 28, 2015

#CBR7 Review #24: Daredevil, vol. 1 by Frank Miller and Klaus Jansen

I have this problem. The problem is that I always want to get into more comic books but never know where to start (bruh, you know people who can probably help you with this). But I saw that this edition of Daredevil said “Volume 1” on it so thought that hey, maybe that would be a good place to start. What I realize is that this was the first run of Frank Miller at the helm for the character (the first half of the volume being predominantly in the drawing, the second half with more of Miller’s writing). From what I understand, many believe that the character of Daredevil really came into his own when Miller began working with him, so at this point of me jumping into the series, Matt Murdock was already established as Daredevil and had some history that required me to fill in some blanks along the way with what I already knew about Daredevil (from the show, other conversations, etc), or to try and come to other conclusions regarding his relationships with certain characters based on the present information given. At the very least, almost all of the issues included in this volume made sure to go over how Matt Murdock gained his abilities and became Daredevil so that we aren’t so out of the loop on that front.

In any case, this first volume of Miller’s work begins with Daredevil appearing in a few issues of The Spectacular Spiderman before jumping into Daredevil on his own. The volume overall largely deals with Daredevil against one of his biggest foes, Bullseye, as well as Kingpin, who is in a stage of returning to America after giving up his life of running the crime lords for some time. We also see the first appearance of Electra, and have some run-ins with The Hulk and other villains. The beginning of the volume seems to be a bit lighter in fare, with the second half becoming more dark, and in my opinion, more interesting.

Overall, it is a good run of issues focused on Daredevil, yet I did feel like I was just jumping into something just for a little stint in the middle. I think I need to either continue to read more in order to get more into it, or to pay more attention with where and when to start a run with an already established character (and particularly one that I already have an idea of in my mind as based on the Netflix show of the character, whoops).

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

Monday, August 10, 2015

#CBR7 Review #23: Bitten by Kelly Armstrong

Another one from the pile my friend handed to me when I asked for book recommendations! And a pretty enjoyable read, too, given how much I like werewolves these days (*cough* Teen Wolf). But I once again fall into this problem that I’ve been having lately in regards to protagonists: they just aren’t connecting with me. That is not to say that I like nothing about Elena, the main character in Bitten. But, she just seems to flip flop a bit to the point where I’m not sure if certain things are in fact out of character or if I just don’t truly understand her in some ways and am therefore seeing them as such. That’s my problem, though, and I don’t think everyone would feel the same as me.

Bitten is about a woman named Elena, who is the only female werewolf in the world (special snowflake sirens screech in the distance!! she’s a hot commodity, y’all!). But let’s not get caught up in what initially made me roll my eyes. Elena has been living a pretty decent human life as a wolf without a pack for a while, but gets called back to her old pack life when some violent acts start to occur in the area around where her former pack lives. Elena falls easily back into this life, and there the internal struggle begins as she is faced with decisions regarding human versus werewolf life, and her new boyfriend versus her old werewolf lover, Clay, with whom she has so much history. The violence in the area around her old pack is related to the threat of some outside, pack-less wolves (“mutts” as they are called), which soon begins to threaten the lives of Elena and her wolf family (I mean, that’s basically what a pack is, right?).

I won’t go too much more into details, as it’s always fun when not too much is given away. But the story itself is bloody and intriguing, and the characters all seem to be quite colorful and interesting (if somewhat one-dimensional in the case of a few). All in all, it was enjoyable for a werewolf novel, and I am interested in reading the next in the series. There is just that issue I had with Elena herself throughout the book. Something about her didn’t resonate with me, but that’s okay, as it happens sometimes. Though I did picture her as something of a mix between Ronda Rousey and Natalie Dormer, which certainly helped in coming up with a picture of her in my mind.

At the end of the day, I might pick up another one of these books one day, as Armstrong has a pretty concise yet engaging voice in her writing. It just might not be the first thing on my list to continue with (I just have so many other things now that I need to read and/or continue!).

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

#CBR7 Review #21-22: Introductions to Christian Theology

A joint review of:
- Christian Theology: an Introduction to its Tasks and Traditions by Peter C. Hodgson and Robert H. King, and the companion book of assorted readings, Readings in Christian Theology

I am currently undertaking an introductory course in Christian Theology, as a part of my school program of choice. And I made the mistake of doing it by correspondence after a few course cancellations, scheduling issues, etc. I am way in over my head, and I recognize that.

That being said, I thought that these introductory texts would help me get truly immersed in the subject, but as it is, I find them difficult to read, as I don’t have much of a religious background to understand some of the concepts. It is very in-depth as to a number of the major Christian doctrines and what is essential to the faith, but at times I felt like I needed a dictionary on standby to be truly able to digest the type of language used.

I will say, however, that many of the readings in the accompanying “readings” text are illuminating and helpful in coming to understand some of the different schools of thought present in Christian theology over time. They just often have a style of language that is a little difficult for me to connect with.

So all in all, this isn’t really a topic that I’m well versed on, and perhaps there is a better way to begin getting into Christian Theology than these texts. I’m sorry for continually reviewing my textbooks. I should stop that (even though I do continue to read them all in their entirety).

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

Thursday, July 16, 2015

#CBR7 Review #20: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

After reading another Cannonballer’s review of Modern Romance, I decided I had to take a look and see what it’s all about! A look at the modern dating scene from a sociological perspective mixed with personal memories, and coming from the hilarious Aziz Ansari? That sounds like it was made for me! This book was in fact quite interesting, very easy to zip through while on a couple of long car-rides, and had a light and funny voice to it overall.

But there were a couple of things that has made it fall into the 3-star category for me: for one, while the whole thing has a nice overview of facts, issues, and new things to consider in the modern dating scene (largely, technology and changing social culture, etc), I’m not really sure where the whole thing was trying to go. Is it just a research summary? Intended to help people in their dating life? Not sure how helpful it will be for me, I still feel pretty clueless, so I don’t know.

The other issue that I had was that a lot of the information and discussions presented, I honestly felt like I knew (or at least, was aware of) already. A lot of it was discussed in an interpersonal relationships course I took for my psychology degree a few years ago, even though the modern dating world wasn’t even the focus of the class, really. For instance, the new concept of “Emerging Adulthood” and how this affects individual development, culture, marriage, relationships, economics, etc is an important topic in a lot of different fields today. And I know for a fact that I’ve read about the Capilano Suspension Bridge study at least twice in various classes, so some of the things presented were really like refreshers for me. But that’s my own fault, honestly. 

What I did love, however, was how Ansari presented the information in both an informative but fun way. I couldn’t help but giggle at a number of different parts, and I just love his sense of humor. I also learned a lot about differences between certain cultures and trends in these cultures (ie, Japan), so the chapters based on focus groups conducted in different countries were highlights for me. That and any time a text conversation from a straight white boy was presented. Those always crack me up.

But in any case, I did enjoy this book and thought it was an interesting combination of personal tales and sociological research. I have yet to really read anything else like that, so it was reasonably refreshing. But perhaps the various ideas that went into the whole thing just needed a touch more direction to tie it all together and leave it feeling less like a big overview or summary.

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

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

#CBR7 Review #18-19: Tithe and Ironside by Holly Black

I asked my friend for some recommendations of books, and found these two thrust into my hands. Apparently there is actually another book that comes in between them in the series (Valiant), but that it is about other characters whereas Ironside is more like a direct sequel to Tithe. But anyways, that’s a bit of a side note.

I will start this off by saying that as a kid growing up, I love love LOVED anything to do with Faeries and other little magical creatures like that. So I was intrigued, seeing as how I haven’t actually read any young adult novels based around those types of creatures (which is kind of surprising to me). And these two books were pretty interesting to hear all about these faery worlds and creatures and customs, despite the fact that the plot followed that sort of typical YA, “you’re different from everyone else” pattern. What do we call it? The special snowflake thing? Anyways. The only problem was with the main character, Kaye… There was something about her. I wanted to like her, and for all intents and purposes I probably should have. But there was something about her that did not resonate with me.

In any case, Tithe begins with a whimsical, teenage Kaye and her mother, returning to their hometown after drifting from place to place with Kaye’s mother’s band. This experience over the many years has hardened Kaye quite a bit, but as soon as she returns home she can’t help but return to her old ways of looking for faeries and for something magical around her. This leads to some revelations that Kaye may not in fact be human, and she may also be necessary in a plot to help her faery friends from childhood. What of course puts a jam in the works is the presence of a super hunky faery boy named Roiben (look… I know it’s supposed to be like regal or faery-like but that name just isn’t working for me). They way he’s described makes me think of a young King Thranduil, so you know I’m all about that. Kaye’s childhood friend’s older brother, named Cornelius (or “Corny) also ends up involved in the works, and the two friends become a part of some dangerous faery politics between both the light and dark sides of that magical world.

Overall, the story is one that zipped by really quickly, and I did indeed want to know what was going to happen next. Holly Black has a way of writing that is detailed enough, but doesn’t get jammed up and slow down the pace of things. There were some things that I rolled my eyes at, of course, as I tend to do with YA novels that follow specific plot points or have certain things involved in them. I’m talking about the romantic relationship between Roiben and Kaye (it’s not a spoiler, I’m sure you saw that coming) that seemed very stiff and I was like, oh my goodness you guys have known each other for two days: calm down! But that is to be expected, I suppose. (Also the games of riddles asked throughout various parts seemed a little forced, even though that parts in the Hobbit wherein they are asking riddles is one of my favourites. But let’s not get off track here).  

Following some brutal events within the conclusion of the first novel, Ironside then picks up with the aftermath of some new governance in the faery world, and all that that entails, while Kaye comes to terms with what her new life should look like, being that she now knows she is a faery but still wants to somehow be connected to her old life. Corny is also feeling a little out of place, now that he knows about the feary world and is afraid of coming under their spells and control, wanting to be able to protect himself, but feeling incredible human.

But to come to the end of this sprawling nonsense of words: I liked some of the minor characters in the book quite a lot more than the main ones. The plot was also enjoyable and not too complicated, but complicated enough to not get too confusing for me. I enjoyed the inclusion of the faery aspects, because as I said, I was very much into that sort of thing growing up. And in general I did like reading them and got through these books quite quickly. So if you don’t mind something that follows some of the common YA tropes, but twists them in a little bit of a different way, then maybe consider giving this series a try. And perhaps I will read the other book that comes in-between these two one day.

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

Sunday, May 24, 2015

#CBR7 Review #17: Stardust by Neil Gaiman

A couple of things have reminded me of the movie Stardust lately, which ultimately led to me feeling the need to read the book, of course! Because why wouldn’t I delve into the source material of something I like so much? And I wasn’t disappointed! As always, there is so much more to the story and more detail than you’d see in a different kind of medium, and Neil Gaiman is very creative and always seems to be able to produce some sort of vivid and imaginative world that just somehow makes sense even with all it’s whimsy. Do I sometimes want to say, “You’re not as deep as you think you are, Sir”? Yes, I do. But that doesn’t mean I don’t immensely enjoy his writing and the stories and characters he creates.

On to the tale itself, Stardust follows the adventures of a young man named Tristan, whose birth came about by some peculiar circumstances, involving a magical land beyond the walls of his town (called Wall, of course). As he comes of age, his sights are set on a beautiful young woman, and claims that he would do anything for her, even retrieve a fallen star that crashed down in the land beyond the wall. And so… that’s exactly what he decides to do: to leave his home on an adventure to find a star, which, sure enough, is not a rock like you might imagine, but more like a woman (named Yvaine). But there are a whole host of other things going on in this land as well, involving a quest to become the new lord of the land, and some witches also on the hunt for the star to reclaim their youth.

As I mentioned before, the tale is imaginative and very fun, and you can’t help but become fond of all the different characters (well, except for Yvaine, honestly, there was just something missing from her that I can’t explain which stopped me from really enjoying her, though that doesn’t mean I disliked her by any means). I swept through the novel quite quickly, as it was hard to put down and I always wanted to know where it went next, even if I was already familiar with the overall story after seeing the film a few times. The one thing that I would bemoan, however, is that the end of the novel almost seemed a little anti-climactic, after everything that Tristan and Yvaine went through. Maybe that’s just me, though.

At the end of the day, I very much enjoyed Stardust, and I know that when I was younger I would have totally eaten it up! It’s just very fun and magical. And who doesn’t like something like that?

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

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

#CBR07 Review #16: Proof That You Can Self-Publish ANYTHING on Amazon

(A review of Gay T-Rex Law Firm: Executive Boner, by Chuck Tingle)

What the hell did I just read??? 
Let’s not get into how I stumbled upon author Chuck Tingle on Amazon, whose stories include those with titles such as: “The Curse of Bigfoot Butt Camp”, “I’m Gay for my Living Billionaire Jet Plane”, “Space Raptor Butt Invasion”, and “Pounded by the Gay Unicorn Football Squad.” All I will say is that curiosity killed this cat… and there was little satisfaction to bring it back.

Seriously, this book took me about five minutes to read, and they were some of the strangest five minutes reading I’ve ever spent. At first you think, “this is ridiculous and hilarious!” as the story begins with Donny, getting hired at Jurassic Law, a law firm with mainly dinosaurs working there, with absolutely no explanation regarding this. Like, okay I guess we are just living in a world with sentient dinosaurs that run successful law firms in New York. I can work with that. But then suddenly things take a sharp turn, and our young, human protagonist is offered a (and I quote): “Contract to run a T-Rex bangbang train on Donny Sullivan’s gay human ass for the sum of ten million dollars even.”

And so, I get to see Donny’s initial reaction of, “I’m not even gay, BRO!” which suddenly turned into, “well, I guess I’m going to have sex with some dinosaurs,” and finally reaching a point of, “wow, I am actually getting pretty worked up with these dinos, let’s get after it!” followed by, well… exactly what you would expect (alright, I may be paraphrasing a bit here, but you get the picture, I’m sure).

I mean… I should have know what I was getting into when I saw the title of this book (I didn't exactly read the description because I am dumb, okay?). But I walked right into it. And it’s not like the writing was good in the slightest; I could have turned around. But I didn’t. At one point I somehow, and for some unknown reason convinced myself that there was a sort of theme or deeper meaning hidden in this story, you know, when the dinosaurs started talking about the greed of humans and what they will agree to do for money… But that was just me trying to make light of the fact that I just read a story about a bunch of dinosaurs running a train on some guy. And not even a well-written one!

So I don’t know what to tell you. But it was free and only took a few minutes to get through. And now I have been requested to do a dramatic live-reading of this ridiculous book at a party this weekend. So I guess that’s happening. I just don’t know how this guy can come up with so many ridiculous ideas for his stories. I’m assuming they are all like this? I don’t know, but I do know that I feel a need to go to Church this Sunday. I just read Dinosaur erotica. What am I even doing?
Oh, and the main T-Rex was named Tyson Rex, because of course he was. 

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

Saturday, April 4, 2015

#CBR7 Review #14-15: Adulthood by Evie Bentley & Counselling and the Life Course by Léonie Sugarman

 These are by far two of the shortest books that I have had to read for school in a long time. Hooray! And they were quite straightforward and easy to get through as well. However, this may be due to the fact that I have previously taken a Lifespan Development course before, so a lot of the information I received was nothing new. More like a refresher. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Leonie Sugarman’s book on Counselling and the Life Course presents a number of different theories regarding lifespan and development, though the focus is more on what these implications might mean when counseling a person. An individual’s present placement within their lifespan or their current stage of development can result in a number of different issues that may be more salient for them, or it can influence how certain life events may affect them. For instance, losing a parent during childhood or adolescence will have different implications for a person than if this were to occur during their middle age.

Meanwhile, Evie Bentley’s book largely focuses on adulthood, and the different subsets of stages and ages within. This also includes the somewhat newer theory of there being an “emerging adulthood” between adolescence and adulthood, as in contemporary society a large number of people who are adults remain in a stage of limbo during these early adult years while they go through post-secondary school, still live at home, and generally display characteristics that are a mixture of adult and older adolescent etc. But we all knew that that was a more common things these days, didn’t we? Each subset within adulthood has different issues or intrinsic “conflicts” that will be more common, and Bentley presents these as they may pertain to different ages.

Both books point out that most of the research in their theories (particularly that of Erickson, who is a major voice in the field) focuses on that of male development, and within a Euro-centric context. Social, personal, racial, and economic factors can also influence how a person develops, among other things, as well as how they adapt to changes in their lives. Both authors also make sure to point out that development is extremely variable, even between individuals that appear to be extremely similar in almost all respects. What this means for taking a Lifespan perspective for therapy is that essentially, while people may differ greatly in their development and progress through life, a person’s current life stage may simply provide clues as to what they may be going through or what internal conflicts they may be experiencing at that time.

All in all, these books are informative, though really feel like general surveys of information that you can then get more in-depth with. So they would be good for a bit of an introductory examination of the lifespan or even just the span of adulthood and what may be involved therein in terms of understanding the lifespan perspective of human development.

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

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

#CBR7 Review #13: Locke & Key, vol. 6 – Alpha & Omega by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

The concluding volume of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s comic series Locke & Key is full of carnage, and I didn’t expect anything different. There is resolution, and yet so many more mysteries left to be explored in this world and with all the magical keys and the history of key house. The only truly bad thing about this book was that it had to end, after everything came to a head and we were left to see where the resulting pieces would end up.

 “Alpha & Omega” takes us to the night of prom for the Locke children, as they plan to have an after-party rave in the caverns by their the Lovecraft house. But Bode, still possessed by the spirit of Luke/”Dodge,” has other ideas for how the night shall end, as he appears to hold all the cards in his little game: with almost all of the magical keys in his possession, and no one aware that he is not in fact Bode anymore, Luke is free to play a game that results in his ultimate quest for a world of select loyal followers and slaves. But there is one hitch in his plan, the unlikely hero of mentally disabled, Rufus, who knows more than he is given credit for.

I knew that things were going to come to a breaking point in this volume, like one final showdown of the Locke’s versus the demon inside their once friend, now family member. And it certainly didn’t disappoint, with expressive language, engaging artwork, and somewhat devastating results. There are so many intriguing characters in this series and some moments of real emotion that I just can’t stop gushing. (Okay, maybe the feelings I had were slighty related to the somewhat disheartened state my heart was already in upon learning of Zayn’s departure from One Direction. Fight me about it). There is one scene in the concluding little section where loose ends are being tied that I can’t fully wrap my head around, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

In all honesty, I would recommend this series to a lot of people, especially if you like things that are imaginative, full of mystery, and aren’t afraid for things to get pretty dark at times (even within the first part of the first book in this series we experience intense scenes of blood and butchery). They are all unique and I always ended up reading them super quickly due to how enthralled I was. Maybe a re-read will be in order to see if I catch new things that I didn’t the first time around?

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

Monday, March 23, 2015

#CBR7 Review #12: Locke & Key, vol. 5 – Clockworks by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

The penultimate collected volume of Joe Hill’s Locke & Key series (illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez) provides some history regarding the Lovecraft residence, the history of the magical keys, and how the patriarch of the Locke family became implicated in the history of the house and what is occurring now, back when he was just a teenager. Unlike the previous volumes of this dark and inventive series, past events are the focus of “Clockworks,” and we get some answers as to what the house and keys are all about, and even where they came from. Yet many things remain up in the air, which I am excited to unravel in the concluding book, “Omega”.

“Clockworks” begins with a tale of a young blacksmith named Ben Locke in the Revolutionary War. Most of his family has been killed for harboring fugitives in the caves below Lovecraft, where a door to a demonic world has been found. Ben Locke works to create a lock and key in order to keep this door shut for forever, but also uses some of the metal that has come through the door in order to make other magical keys. These of course become the keys that the present-day Locke children keep finding around their house. 

Upon finding a key that allows them to visit the past as spirits (kind of in a Christmas Carol sort of way), Tyler and Kinsey Locke find this history, and also visit that of their father as a teenager. Their father had been staying at Lovecraft with some friends one year, and it is learned that only children can see and remember the magic of the keys, as a sort of safety trap that ensures no corrupt adult would ever be able to use this magic as a tool for war. Yet the past reveals just how Luke/”Dodge” ended up the way he is today: infected with the spirit of a demon that came through the door that was locked all those years ago. Meanwhile, little Bode lock is searching for the omega key which is what will once again open this door, for as we know from the previous book, “Keeper of the Keys,” Bode isn’t really Bode.

This series is grittier than I realized (not that that is a bad thing, and I really don't know why I'm so surprised by this), and full of imagination, magic, and mystery. Sometimes I get a little thrown off by the language and slurs used at people (oh no, I'm sensitive), but at the same time, isn’t that how people talk when they want to hurt someone? Also, it reflects some of the time-periods in which these events take place, so ultimately it works. All I know for certain in these stories in that there is a final showdown and tragedy on the horizon, where hopefully all the lingering questions I have will be answered and things will come to a head.

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

Monday, March 16, 2015

#CBR7 Review #10-11: Chew, volumes 6 (Space Cakes) and 7 (Bad Apples) by John Layman and Rob Guillory

I seem to go through this comic book series in little stints. I’ll read a few, then take a break until I acquire some more, and then take another break. And while a few details always get lost here and there, it always manages to draw me back and I start to remember where I left off almost immediately. It’s different and fun, but also dark and dirty at parts, and the drawing style of Rob Guillory really reflects this dichotomy of moods and feelings constantly present within the Chew series: sometime you wonder why people are rendered with such strange proportions or images will be humorously exaggerated, only to then flip the page and find something grotesque on the other side. And yet it works: both the story itself and the drawing is engaging and unique, though I will say that I know a few people who are not particularly fans of the art style of Guillory.

In any case, Space Cakes and Bad Apples picks up some plotlines of the previous Chew installments that were almost starting to seem like they were scattering all over the place without coming together. But now they are! We continue following Tony Chu and his chibopathy (the ability to get a psychic vision of the past life of anything he eats) after he is found almost beaten to death by a hostage taking in volume 5. But in Space Cakes there is an increased focus on Tony’s sister, Toni, and her cibovoyant abilities (the ability to see the future of any living thing she eats, including any humans she bites in to). Toni becomes involved in some food-related cases due to her work with NASA, and her abilities are ultimately discovered by the Vampire who is collecting people with food-related abilities. These events lead to some tragic events that end up sparking a new fire in Tony to go after the Vampire, and I am curious to see how this plays out. These two volumes also feature a new role for Poyo, the killing-machine of a rooster, so that is of course ridiculous yet incredibly amusing.

With a host of new food abilities displayed in these two volumes (some of which are incredibly useless), as well as a collection of intriguing supporting characters (Tony’s ridiculous half-cyborg partner, John Colby, being a personal favourite), nothing is ever boring in Chew. Though sometimes it can be a bit gross or absurd. Because of that, it’s really hard to know who to recommend this series to; I enjoy it a lot, but I know that it would definitely not be well received by some people that I know. All I can say to summarize this reading experience is that it’s bizarre but in a really good way.

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

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

#CBR7 Review #09: Children Helping Children with Grief by Beverly Chappell

Goodness, February was a hectic month. I feel like so much happened in such a short span of time: too much happened, really! Because I never even had a chance to finish any reading until now, just as I head into a school course focusing on grief and loss.

Beverly Chappell’s book, Children Helping Children with Grief: My Path to Founding the Dougy Center for Grieving Children and their Families does basically exactly what the title implies. It recount’s stories of Chappell and her husband working with various families and children who are experiencing family losses, and how these experiences influenced the ultimate creation of the Dougy Center for grieving children. It also recounts how some other influential people come to become involved with the center as well.

These stories are all told from a personal place, and are often touching to hear. However, being that this was a book that I was required to read for a school course, I was surprised and a little disappointed that there was no real, in-depth insight into how children are able to help other children with the grief process. Sure, there are touches here and there, but the overall method and how this might work is never really expanded on. So aside from being a nice story of the creation of the Dougy Center, I’m not sure I got a whole lot out of it.

But the one thing that will stick with me after reading this more than anything else is a reminder of the fact that children often know that something is going on when a family experiences a loss, yet they are often not involved in the grief process in the same way that adults are: adults are scared of how this information might affect the child, and so they do not explain fully what happened, or they explain the death to the child in a way that the child does not understand. It is difficult to say what exactly the best course of action is in any situation, but knowing that children are resilient and just need to process their experiences in their own way is important to remember. So we shall see what else I learn in the next week to come. 

For now, I will say that this book was not challenging to read and is interesting in it’s own way. I just feel like I wanted something a bit different out of it.

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

Friday, February 6, 2015

#CBR7 Review #08: The Art of Grief by J. Earl Rogers

I come to read a book on with grief through creative arts therapies at a time wherein I face the impending death of a family member. And I am restless. Being a fidgety person to begin with, I can’t keep my hands still when my mind is full of all kinds of thoughts: preparing for courses in school, learning about grief for an upcoming class, dealing with loss and grief myself, and all other kinds of things. And so I draw. My hands take what I am feeling and put a part of me on a page. And I am not entirely okay, but I also don’t feel like I’m drowning like I have felt all too much recently for far too many reasons. But enough about me…

The Art of Grief: The Use of Expressive Arts in a Grief Support Group is predominantly set up as a guide to running bereavement support groups that utilize the expressive arts as a process of healing and working through grief. Different practitioners with a variety of creative and therapeutic backgrounds contribute ideas and sessions that are set up as a guide for running an 8-session group. Practical matters of materials and working with a few different populations (ie, adapting for children or teens) are discussed, as well as the manner in which these approaches may be helpful for those experiencing loss. I can see myself how some of these sessions would be helpful for me in processing grief, but I can also see how some might not work as well for myself. But that’s how it goes with anyone: some people are more receptive and open up better to different mediums than others. Musicians may write songs. Artists may paint. Dancers may move. All are expressions and therefore, extensions of the self. Or so I believe. 

But along with the practical matters and ideas for art therapists and counsellors to use in running groups, a number of personal stories and experiences are also shared in how the creative arts have assisted those dealing with losses, terminal illness, etc. Those personal stories are a great touch to staunch what might become an overly impersonal setup of “here’s a plan of what to do”. But overall I would say that this is more of a book for those who are studying and interested in setting up some sort of bereavement support group, than anything else.

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

Friday, January 30, 2015

#CBR7 Review #07: Case Approach to Counselling and Psychotherapy by Gerald Corey

This is a misleading little textbook in terms of how long it actually takes to get through it. I thought, “oh it’s so small compared to my other books, this will be easy!” But no. The writing is compact and while there is a lot of dialogue in the presented case studies to make things interesting, overall it is quite dry and I found it hard to focus on what I was reading. That is not to say that it wasn’t informative! But as compared to the other two textbooks I’ve read so far this year, it’s been the most difficult to get through.

In this book, Gerald Corey presents the hypothetical counseling case of “Ruth”, and provides information that might be acquired during an intake interview. Corey then invites counselors from a variety of different theoretical perspectives to describe what their style of counseling might involve when working with someone like Ruth. There is also an inclusion at the end of each chapter with discussion on what Corey’s process would be with Ruth within each specified theoretical framework. These theories involve perspective ranging from psychodynamic to humanistic, from family therapy to multicultural perspectives, from gestalt to cognitive behavioral, and more.

The range of practices and theories presented is a good, diverse spread, and each makes sense in their own way of working with the same patient. But of course, there are some that I myself am more drawn to than others, as is always the case with each individual person. Overall this book is full of great information on the subject of counseling and practically working with the different theories, however it is an instructional book, and not exactly the most fun thing to read (and let’s not even get started on the price of textbooks today. My heart weeps at the thought of it).

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