Review: the witch doesn’t burn in this one by Amanda Lovelace

the witch doesn't burn in this one 8-- bookspoilsPicking up this poetry collection couldn’t have come at a better time with having just read a book about powerful witches by Leslye Walton: The Price Guide to the Occult.

I really took to heart Amanda Lovelace’s The Princess Saves Herself in This One for its raw and honest take on love, loss, grief, and healing. Plus, the many feminist poems. So with this follow-up collection, I was keen on reconnecting with the author through her words.

As the blurb states, these moving, relatable poems encourage resilience and embolden women to take control of their own stories. The main focus is on self-love and acceptance, feminism, girl-power, and women supporting women. So I missed my favorite section of having more personal poems.

And with the focus being more on the aforementioned, I feel like I didn’t take in anything new and refreshing from the collection. If I take a scroll through my recent retweets on Twitter (@bookspoils), I can definitely see the same notions present in the witch doesn’t burn in this one. But they’re important messages to convey so I didn’t mind the resemblance that much.the witch doesn't burn in this one 1-- bookspoils

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On that note, the poems that really stood out to me were the following:the witch doesn't burn in this one 3-- bookspoils

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the witch doesn't burn in this one 5-- bookspoilsthe witch doesn't burn in this one 6-- bookspoils

the witch doesn't burn in this one 7-- bookspoilsThese are still sitting with me.

ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Expected publication: March 6th, 2018

3.5/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying the witch doesn’t burn in this one, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

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Review: The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton

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“Was she strong enough to carry all these Burdens on her own?
Or would they swallow her whole?”

I knew this book was the one I’d been looking for when I flipped to the last page of the prologue and saw a glimpse of a name I thought to be “Noa,” which was exactly what I was searching for the day earlier when on the look-out for fictional characters with the name Noah, for some inexplicable reason. (I never did find anything other than the biblical story, so please let me know if you have any solid book recommendations.)

The misread name turned out to spell “Nor,” but by then I was already too caught up in the world of The Price Guide to the Occult. I had Nor’s sardonic humor and devotion to anonymity, the promise of a book within a book, and exploring the realms of clairvoyance, telekinesis, divination to keep me satisfied.

To backtrack a bit, I’ve been a huge fan of Leslye Walton’s writing ever since I finished reading The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender back in January 2016. I think about that book more often than I think about any other. It holds such a special place in my heart because it introduced me to two of my favorite aspects in books: family-driven drama & magical realism.

Though I was caught up quickly in the storyline, as I mentioned above, it still took a bit of time to fully settle into the world of The Price Guide to the Occult… And then. Then we get some character dynamics introduced, from Nor’s sweet and lasting encounter with a certain boy to the story of her mother’s “formidable ability to manipulate the minds of those around her.” And it wasn’t long before I was lost in their world, repeating the same old mantra of “just one more page.” Once again, Leslye Walton excels at weaving together an intricately compelling family narrative.

I also had a few meta moments when it mentioned how Youtubers, reviewers, bloggers all raved about the book within our book, “after reading a glowing blog post about The Price Guide to the Occult,” because I was about to do the same.

Speaking of which, here are some noteworthy moments I cherished:

  • The fact that Nor doesn’t attend high school really hit that sweet spot for me. My main problem with YA books is that their setting is nearly always around a school, so I rarely if ever want to revisit those times of my life. So when we have a main character that feels the same and actually dares to drop out and get her GED instead, I’m left glowing.
  • The trusty old companion dogs at Nor’s unwavering side throughout the book.
  • What really got to me, though, was Nor’s unique characteristic of wanting to draw as little attention to herself as possible.

“Nor had never had the heart to tell anyone that all she wanted was to make the slightest mark as humanly possible on the world; she was too preoccupied with proving to herself that she was nothing like her mother to be focused on anything else.”

  • Which then leads me to discuss the subtle crushing she had on a certain someone (and I’m desperately trying to avoid spoilers here). Let me just say that after reading a whole anthology set around the meet-cute concept, I was more than ready for a full romance to sweep me off my feet already. And the author really knows how to keeps us on our toes when it comes to this one.

“This was what it felt like to be around him—constantly pulled in two directions, wanting to be both seen and unseen, and not knowing which one she preferred.”

I really wanted a solid build-up to happen for this couple so that by the time they got around to any kind of intimacy I’d be screaming inside. He could’ve just been standing behind her and my heart rate would pick up. It was refreshing to have love interest be so straightforward and honest about their feelings. I would leave the story to go to bed and then wake with a smile at realizing I’d left off right before he showed on the following page. But the romance was never overpowering in its role.

Anyway. I am sidetracking.

  • One thing I do wish we could’ve gotten a more extensive look into was the Blackburn lineage and their matriarch, Rona Blackburn. Like, exploring the different Burdens each Blackburn received. We got a little taste in the prologue but never fully explored past that point the true grandiosity of the first Blackburn women, which is what I loved so much in the author’s debut novel with her ability to flesh-out each generation coming before the main character.
  • The descriptions of imagery and inner monologue from Nor’s dreams were vivid, and it brought to mind Harry Potter’s struggle with seeing through Voldemort’s eyes. Which is why I was surprised when I read the Harry Potter reference to Azkaban in this book.
  • On that train of thought, Nor’s mother, Fern Blackburn, strongly represented the idea of Levana from The Lunar Chronicles, especially once I read the comparison below made by Nor’s best friend, Savvy. It gave me an unsettled feeling.

“Your mom is amazing,” Savvy continued, “but also kind of terrifying, in an evil queen kind of way. I can totally imagine her convincing the huntsman to kill me so that she can eat my heart, you know?”

  • Speaking of Savvy, aka the Guardian of Unwanted Things, I truly couldn’t have asked for a better best friend for Nor. This following quote speaks volumes about their friendship: “Though Savvy couldn’t actually solve the bulk of Nor’s problems, Nor felt better having been reminded that she had someone who gave enough of a shit to try.”
  • I wasn’t ready to be done with this book by the time I reached the ending, so I decided to read the acknowledgments, and I’m glad I did because of this touching paragraph:

(Trigger warning: self-harm.)

The Price Guide to the Occult 1-- bookspoils

All of the above were the things I would later remember. And I so hope that we’ll see more of Walton’s stories in the near future. I’m eager to know, in particular, if The Price Guide to the Occult will receive a sequel.

ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Expected publication: March 13th 2018

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying The Price Guide to the Occult, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: Herding Cats (Sarah’s Scribbles #3) by Sarah Andersen

These collections of comic strips by Sarah Andersen always magically appear in my life just in time to cheer me out of a foul mood. They’re short and entertaining enough (for my attention span at the time) to successfully take my mind of things and feel a proper sense of relief. And I’m beyond grateful, as always.Herding Cats 2-- bookspoilsWith characteristic wit and charm, Sarah Andersen’s third collection of comics and illustrated personal essays offers a survival guide for frantic modern life: from the importance of avoiding morning people, to Internet troll defense 101, to the not-so-life-changing futility of tidying up. But when all else fails and the world around you is collapsing, make a hot chocolate, count the days until Halloween, and snuggle up next to your furry beacon of hope.

In the previous collection, Big Mushy Happy Lump, I really appreciated the short essays that appeared towards the end of the book, so I was ecstatic to see them make a return with this newest publication. As a result, I leaned more towards the comics that touched upon more deep and substantial topics, such as the 2016 election in America, double standards, feminism, etc. instead of the many #trying to be relatable comics.

Speaking of which, here are some of those favorites:

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Herding Cats 3-- bookspoilsI felt this on a personal level. It always brings to mind my favorite response: “Don’t applaud a fish for swimming.”

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Herding Cats 6-- bookspoils@ Ilana Glazer from Broad City.Herding Cats 7-- bookspoilsThis fits perfectly in my mind with the quote by Wayne W. Dyer: “You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.” Herding Cats 8-- bookspoils

Herding Cats 1-- bookspoilsThis, funnily enough, brought to mind the scene below from The In-Laws:

I think that’s a pretty bright note to end my review on for Herding Cats. As always, I’m excited to see what’s in store next for Sarah Andersen.

3.5/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Herding Cats, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!