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A Week In Pictures and Books

March 11, 2018

This week was a wild one, friends, but so packed full of magic. I am almost done with The Shadow Hunters Chronicles (sad!) and speeding just as quickly through my spring semester.

I had the spectacular chance to review the upcoming The Price Guide to the Occult and I am so excited for its launch on Tuesday because it’s excellent!

I spent the day on Thursday with my wonderful gradschool cohort at our state capital, getting our lobby skills on. For this former political science major, it was a total dream, I tell ya what!


The Price Guide to the Occult ~ Leslye Walton

March 10, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN: 9780763691103
288 pages
Source: Publisher (via LibraryThing)

When I first read the synopsis for The Price Guide to the Occult, I thought it would be a fun little story about witchcraft and magic.

Y’all, hold on to your seats because I’m about to freak out.

It’s not just a fun little book.

Following a long line of magically blessed (or burdened, depending upon who you ask) on a tiny North Western island, this little gem of a book manages to pack so much phenomenal mental health awareness and struggle into a few short pages that I may just go around handing the book out to people.

I’ll certainly be keeping at least two copies on my shelf as a therapist and I’ll tell you why.

The story explores mother-daughter dynamics in a raw, honest way that embellishes so much of the normal sentiment that follows with toxic relationships.

Our heroine, Nor, is prone to self-harm, self-deprecation, and feeling somewhat lost.

Her mother is a power-hungry, vain, narcissist, hell0-bent on manipulation.

Though the book gives their behaviors supernatural causes, I couldn’t help but to be floored by just how accurate the analogies were and how vivid the chaos of the stories depicted what many in such relationships struggle with.

I could go on and on about the therapeutic reasons for loving this book but it’s so good, you should just go pick it up and make up your own mind about it.

Please do note: There is some very real talk about catalysts for self-harm in the book. Walton is an angel because at the end of the book, she lists over two pages of readily accessible resources on suicide and self-harm.

It really is just spectacularly handled.

Clockwork Prince ~ Cassandra Clare

March 8, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult Fiction/ Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
ISBN: 9781481456012
560 pages
Source: Barnes and Noble

I am very sure, at this point, that my heart is either unbreakable or unmendable.

Between Sarah J. Maas and Cassandra Clare, I believe my heart has been smashed into tiny pieces so many times it will never be put back together.

As Clare is so adept at doing, she launches us through another episode of The Shadowhunters Take Victorian London, this time with a lot more at stake than had been previously.

Without giving too much away, Tessa has officially joined the ranks of the Institute Kids and they are all hot on the heels of the villain de jure.

For some unearthly (literally) reason, Clare has decided that espionage and betrayal are the chosen poison for this time period and absolutely is nothing is as it seems.

I was luke warm on the old shadow hunters simply because Id made it so far into the modern day story and was sort of whining about having to go back a few centuries. This worry has been completely smashed, of course, and has been so without mirroring the current day folks too closely.

I have to admit that while I love the regular, time period players, my favorite in any decade remains the glorious Magnus Bane. There is something quite literally eternal about him and in Clockwork Prince, that eternal essence is also revealed as intense vulnerability. I almost dropped everything to pick up his stand-alone book but I managed to hold off. I can’t quite put my finger on why I like him, so much, though it might just be that he is becoming so familiar and acts as the score keeper for both storylines.

The remainder of the books in the series is drawing up more quickly than I choose to acknowledge and I find myself desperately trying to slow my roll to no avail.

If you have another series that is long and rolling and lends itself to get lost in another world. Please do send me your suggestions because I am dreading the hangover slump I can see coming at the end of all of this.

The Dream Thieves ~ Maggie Stiefvater

March 6, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
ISBN: 9780545424950
Source: Half Priced Books

Memories are strange things.

I have often picked up a book, thinking that I haven’t read it, only to realize that I have.

Dream Thieves was the opposite for me.

I love Maggie and I very distinctly “remember” reading the first two books in the Raven Cycle. After reading it through, recently, I realized I had not actually gotten to the second book.

I’m so glad that I hadn’t read it, though, because it was spectacular.

Where the first book focuses heavily on Adam and Blue, the second book takes on the inner world of Ronan, perhaps the least likable character for me in Raven Boys.

In a world of shaggy-haired, self-assured prep-school boys, Ronan is the shaved headed, rough around the edges, quick to anger brooding type with none of the warm fuzzy charm of his classmates.

That said, my perspective changed, completely in the second volume of the cycle. We’re catapulted into Ronan’s head, drugs, dreams, and drag racing included. His surly and snarky behavior is explained and we’re left with a much more sympathetic outlook on the once less than cuddly member of the pack.

Because Maggie does such an incredible job of weaving dreams and reality, it is a little difficult to describe the plot, especially if you haven’t read the first book.

Beyond the fantasy, however, let me say that the true beauty of the book is in the metaphor, not the literal. As mentioned, Ronan becomes a far more complex character through the dream analogy and we are able to see the fears, worries, and aspirations of all five of our trusty band of teens. Maggie manages to tackle the worries of not only those characters living below the poverty line but those with “everything”, as well.

She also does an incredible job digging into the root of drug use through both Ronan and the neighborhood bad boy. It isn’t about the substance, itself; it’s about feeling completely incompatible with present reality.

It seems like a short book but there is a lot packed into it. I’m pretty glad I revisited this series because I was sure that I had taken all I could from it. I have never been so happy to be wrong.

City of Lost Souls ~ Cassandra Clare

March 5, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
ISBN: 9781481456005
592 pages
Source: Amazon

Oh, my goodness.

As a few other reviewers have said, this book starts out slowly and has slow, drifting moments, however, hold on to your socks. Cassandra Clare just nails that heart wrenching mix of love, longing, and adventure, in a perfectly adept way that I haven’t found anywhere else. I am trying, at the moment, to slow my roll on her series because I am almost done and I don’t want to be. I want to live in it, forever, deadly as it may be.

Now, for something I don’t usually do. I’m going to talk openly and frankly about the rest of the series until this point because by book five, there is no real justice to be done to a review unless you can reference the past (there is a metaphor for human emotions in there but I won’t go into that).

Look, here: if you are reading this and haven’t read the previous four books, why ARE you reading this? Hmmm?

Anyway, you have been warned. There are slight spoilers, ahead.

Basically, at the end of City of Fallen Angels, we find ourselves in a pit of despair, with Simon cursed and Jace playing for the dark side. I don’t know why, after everything our team has been through, this is the thing that proved to break my heart the most. I just feel so strongly for these folks and, as usual, I have my LCSW lens to throw all over everything. For me, Jace’s experience being under the influence of Lilith and her cohort, is very similar to addiction. It steals your soul and is confusing for everyone around.

Maybe I have a soft spot for that feeling, both in myself and in others. But looking over reviews from others, this aspect definitely pulled at multiple heartstrings.

We also got into Alec and Magnus’s relationship a bit more and some of my favorite Quotes on Queerness came from the latter part of this book.

Oh, my, it feels kind of scandalous to just write exactly what I’m feeling. Haha, I never do spoilers but there is something fulfilling, yet sinister about hashing it all out.

Anyway, I am on to the last book and I might cry.


March 4, 2018

Dear ones!

My best friend is having her launch party for P.S. I MISS YOU, TODAY!

If you haven’t been following along, My friend Jen Petroy-Roy has her debut novel coming out THIS TUESDAY!

We are all SO excited.

It has also garnered quite a bit of ire from those who feel like kids maybe shouldn’t know what sexual orientation is. Guess what, friends, kids know. They know because they can feel it. Jen wrote an incredible response to critics that was published in Entertainment Weekly and it’s very well worth the read. Go. Go, now. Read it, here.

I will say this: beyond Jen existing as my best friend and constant cheerleader, this book stands on its own, without the personal connection. As a kid, I grew up in a very Catholic town and even though my parents were very open and accepting, the fact that I had crushes on my female classmates was a constant source of internal stress. This is exactly the book I needed when I was younger and I am so happy that it is going to land in the hands of young, queer kids.

Go check it out and get yourself a copy on March 6th!

City of Fallen Angles ~ Cassandra Clare

February 28, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
480 pages
ISBN: 9781481455992
Source: Amazon

Oh, goodness.

I’m very sure that Cassandra Clare was a clinical social worker in her past life.

With that conviction, I’m going to stop apologizing for looking at The Shadowhunters with that lens.

And, I must say, that City of Fallen Angels is the absolute perfect time for me to drop the apologies on that front.

the fourth book in The Mortal Instruments series is perhaps one of my favorites and it is an absolute heartbreaker (for reasons I won’t get into in detail because of spoilers).

Everything looks peaceful and content at the end of City of Glass, everyone arriving home from Idris and settling into their own lives. Simon actually has a love life (perhaps more than he can handle), Clary and Jace are making amend, and even Alec is on his way to happiness. It also looks like the kids and adults are working together instead of deceiving each other for the first time in a few decades.

But, as usual, what looks too good to be true, almost always is, and darkness comes creeping back in on almost every front.

The reason I declared Clare an LCSW was because of that simmering darkness creeping in around the edges of everyone’s lives. Usually, writers in fantasy and young adult in general, have little regard for the PTSD that should shadow these adventures. Cassandra Clare, however, manages to capture the pain and turmoil that really ought to be present in every story with as much combat as The Mortal Instruments.

One of the things that so endears me to the characters is that they doubt themselves even when they are presenting with bravery and confidence. They question their relationships, their history, their strength. For me, seeing vulnerability in fiction is just about the best thing.

I am switching back to Clockwork Prince, now, according to my lovely guides. I hope you all will pick up this series if you haven’t done so, yet!