Review: The Witch’s Path by Thorn Mooney

This is by far the best book on witchcraft I have ever read.

I am one of those people that will research witchcraft endlessly. This is part of the fun for me, but it’s also not actually practicing the “craft” part of witchcraft.

Here, Thorn Mooney writes a book for ALL witches, no matter their level. In each chapter, she writes about a foundational part of witchcraft. Not in a beginner-textbook way, but in a way that will reignite your spark for that particular aspect. The chapters are sacred space, devotion, ritual/magic, personal practice, and community.

The best part is the practical exercises at the end of each chapter. They come in sets of four, aligned with the four elements. Air is for beginner witches, fire is for witches that need something quick, water is for witches looking to deepen their practice, and earth is for witches that feel like they’ve already tried everything.

I highly recommend doing the exercises— I did some highlighting in my ebook and went back to them after I was finished reading. Some of them are long, 30-day “challenges,” so you may not want to wait to do them before you finish the book.

Note: the author is Wiccan, but she makes sure that the information in her book is applicable to witches of all paths!


Review: The PTSD Workbook by Mary Beth Williams

The PTSD Workbook by Mary Beth Williams (second edition) is an interactive journey through trauma recovery backed up by science and personal wisdom. It largely conforms to other works about trauma I have read, especially Judith Herman’s ideas about the three phases of trauma recovery.

I was super excited to dive in and do all of the activities. However, the workbook quickly lost my trust, though I continued to read through it in the hopes of gleaning some sort of wisdom. This is a very good workbook that I believe could help many people– with one small revision.

On page 25, there is an exercise about “My Trauma-Related Beliefs.” Readers are invited to think and write about the subconscious beliefs that trauma has given them and explore how true they are. The first example is “I believe I am a victim and that my troubles are the fault of others.” Readers are invited to think about whether that belief has determined their course of action in the past, with the assumption that they will work on revising it once they have had it pointed out. In this example, it’s a failure of personal responsibility to say that all of your troubles are someone else’s fault, even if people never deserve to be traumatized.

The second example is where I have an issue. The belief reads: “I believe that I can’t do things– that I am physically or emotionally incapable of doing them.” To give Williams the benefit of the doubt, I can see how learned helplessness could be a real problem that some people have and need to learn how to deal with. However, it continues in parentheses: “By the way, be aware that ‘I can’t’ generally means ‘I won’t’ or ‘I don’t want to.’ ‘I can’t‘ is really a statement of refusal.”


Psychological disabilities are real, just like physical ones. If someone can’t walk, they can’t walk. If someone can’t grocery shop, for example, they can’t grocery shop.

Let’s take the grocery shopping example further. Obviously, the person in question with a psychological disability (like PTSD) COULD go through the physical motions of going to the grocery store. Some people in wheelchairs CAN walk. However, the health consequences associated with completing that action will often make it not worth it. A wheelchair user, who can walk under very specific circumstances and/or for short times, would still suffer if you took their wheelchair away. They may be in severe pain or fall and injure themselves. Likewise, someone who “can’t” go to the grocery store may know that they will have a panic attack or exhaust themselves if they do, which are both examples of significant suffering that makes the activity not worthwhile. Just because they are technically capable of doing something that someone without a disability could do, it doesn’t mean that it would be good or healthy for them to do it.

You may have heard of “spoons,” or “spoon theory.” It’s not a metaphor that I love, since I prefer more common-sense units like “batteries,” but it’s worth mentioning since it’s spawned an entire subculture. “Spoons” are the measurement of energy or ability a physically or psychologically disabled person has. While they’re not usually easily measurable in exact numbers, a “spoonie” who uses the spoon theory to talk about their illness may start out the day with a finite number of “spoons.” Each activity, depending on how challenging it is to complete, depletes (or sometimes replenishes) spoons. For example, taking a shower might be lots of spoons for someone, while a healthy person would barely notice the amount of energy it takes. A spoonie who is completely exhausted and needs to rest is said to be “out of spoons.” Pushing past this limit, while sometimes possible, tends to result in longer recovery times and lots of suffering.

Part of the implication in the workbook was that people often decide they “can’t” do things just because they don’t want to do them. I can understand why people feel this to be true. There are a few reasons for this.

One, people with disabilities often have to choose carefully what activities have room in their lives due to limited ability or spoons. They may prioritize beloved hobbies or time with family and friends over, for example, doing the dishes, because they can’t do both. This can look like they’re making excuses because they don’t want to do something. In reality, they are trying to take care of themselves by making sure their lives include meaningful activities.

Secondly, unpleasant activities often take more spoons just BECAUSE they are unpleasant. It’s like feeling sleepy during and/or after a boring meeting– the properties of the event or activity make it harder to deal with. It’s not laziness or oppositionality or babying ourselves– it’s a genuine result of symptoms that everyone with a disability understands, but those who don’t have one might not.

When dealing with disabled people (either others or yourself) please understand that disability really does mean that there are some things a person can’t do.

Note: there is a lot of ableism surrounding physical disabilities as well as psychological ones. It just isn’t true that physical disabilities are as widely understood as many psychological disability activists believe. I don’t mean to imply that anything else is the case through my comparisons, but I do feel that often physical disabilities are easier for people to imagine and empathize with than psychological ones.

Review: Still Life With Tornado by A.S. King

“I tell the truth slowly. I think that’s how the truth shows up sometimes.”

For much of this book, we don’t know what’s wrong with the main character Sarah. That’s because Sarah can’t even bear to think about it herself. After all, she tells the truth slowly, but she gets there. This is the main source of tension and intrigue for the reader. Not a lot happens in this book except for the character’s internal shifts and the artistry in how they are conveyed to the reader. If that sounds boring, then this is not the book for you. If you can appreciate introspection in your fiction, however, this is a masterpiece of YA.

I connected wholeheartedly with this book, and found exceptional catharsis in it, despite how different the facts of 16-year-old Sarah’s life are from mine. For one thing, she is an artist and I am a writer. She is cisgender and I am transgender. She doesn’t go to school for weeks at a time and my high school attendance was exemplary. However, the overall atmosphere of the book conveyed the exact feelings I had as a teenager with a dissociative disorder, previously known as multiple personalities. In Still Life With Tornado, her dissociation has a magical but poignant twist in that other people can see her other selves as separate, very real, people. When she first meets her other selves (at ages 10, 23, and 40) she is startled and confused, but gradually she and the people around her come to see them as allies. This is the exact trajectory of healing from trauma with a dissociative disorder, and A.S. King has portrayed her version with immense empathy and care. What may have initially seemed to be an unconventional literary device leaves readers stinging with the truth.

Note: Big TW for physical and emotional abuse.

“What We Harvest” Book Review

Title: What We Harvest

Author: Ann Fraistat

Publication Year: 2022

Summary: Wren is a teenage girl in an idyllic town, which has become a disaster zone because of a mysterious Blight that has spread among its supernaturally unique farms. The Blight behaves curiously like quicksilver, but turns its victims into vicious, rotting creatures. She’s desperately trying to save everything and everyone she’s ever known and loved, but how?

What I Liked:

  • This book had nothing extraneous in it. Every single detail came back around into importance, and all the loose ends were tied up by the conclusion. Not a single word was out of place. It was expertly plotted and I am very impressed.
  • The central romance! It was straight, but it was really sweet. It didn’t feel like other romances that are contrived or fundamentally incompatible. You can tell that the characters really care about each other because they prove it through their actions. Side note: there IS another, gayer relationship in the book that I also really liked.
  • It dealt with the themes of climate change and white supremacy without ever explicitly mentioning either of those things AND without creating an allegory that was too heavy-handed. I felt the handling of the themes was masterfully done!
  • It was definitely YA horror, but it was not nihilistic and therefore a very enjoyable read. The romance and Wren’s ceaseless work towards ending the Blight both provided a much-needed measure of hope amid the horror.
  • It’s not a series! I love speculative fiction but I am so over waiting for the next book to come out and forgetting all the details in the process. This title wraps up completely at the end, which was refreshing!
  • The exposition was handled deftly. Because the book starts in the middle of the action, readers have to rely on flashbacks to understand the plot and also the central romance. However, these flashbacks were sprinkled in delicately and with discernment.
  • Claudette! I don’t want to spoil anything, but she was my favorite character.
  • The cover is absolutely gorgeous.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • The pacing made sense, as the book takes place in a disaster zone within two days, but it was really ceaseless in its intensity. This is not a good choice for bedtime reading. If you don’t mind that, then you should definitely pick up this book.
  • I found the ending to be a little rushed and confusing, but maybe I was just so on-the-edge-of-my-seat that I was the one rushing.

Star Rating: 4/5 STARS