Basic Witches [buy here or here]
Jaya Saxena and Jess Zimmerman
Basic Witches is at heart a self-help book, but less of the “woo-woo let me teach you my ways” and more of the “here’s some things that might help, also you are the best you you are,” which I have to say is way more refreshing to read.
I don’t really have a lot to say about this book other than that I liked it. It’s one that I think you really have to read for yourself to see if it fits you. One thing I really liked was that it didn’t delve too much into “The Divine Feminine” like so many other witch books do; they used “she/her” as the main pronouns, but acknowledged genderqueer and non-binary people. They also mentioned in their section about sex that it’s perfectly OK to not have or want sex, which is a huge A+.
I will recommend you at least check it out from your library, or look for it in a bookstore (if y’all still have those; we sadly do not), because the cover is damn pretty. Like damn, damn, dammity, damn, damn pretty. When it catches the light, the gold on it literally glows like fire, and if that’s not the coolest shit then get out of my face.
TL;DR: Read if if you want some neat spells or just want to know that you’re not weird for being you, but definitely look at it because, again, damn pretty.
Gone to Dust [buy here or here]
I really loved the premise of this one. A murder is committed and the entire house is covered in a thick layer of vacuum dust, rendering DNA sampling nearly impossible. That’s the kind of story I’d come up with, so I was super on board before I even began.
The writing is better than average for a male writer, with only two unnecessary, though thankfully brief and not dwelled upon, sex scenes. Our protagonist, Nils Shapiro, has a healthy friendship with his male friends and actually does very well at being not a dick to the women he meets. I may be selling this short like this; I really did enjoy his character, but you know me, master of the hard sell.
The book was well plotted and paced. Except for one frankly bizarre subplot about Islamic militants among refugees was, honestly, really fucking odd and out of place and racist. It was legit only used as a plot point for the FBI to come down and stop the investigation for about five chapters before it was resolved anyway.
One thing that did make my Southern Californian heart melt was the constant descriptions of what roads led where, and how he got where he was going. I’m not kidding about this. Every single time he got into the car, we got a street-by-street rundown of his route anywhere. This is literally how we talk in SoCal, and I can’t figure out if this is also how they do in Minnesota or if Goldman’s lived out here long enough we’ve corrupted him.
Overall, I’d recommend it, bullshit subplot aside. It’s a pretty compelling read, and there are enough twists in it to keep you entertained, but none that really come out of nowhere once they’re explained. Nils is a pretty likable narrator among so very many awful ones. Also, no dead queers, so that’s A+, good job.
TL;DR: Good, I’d definitely read the next if there’s a series, but watch out for random subplots.
OK, big reviews are done, now what do I do? What else have I read?
Whobert Whover, Owl Detective [buy here or here]
Writing: Jason Gallaher
Illustrations: Jess Pauwels
It’s a really cute book, y’all. I love reading children’s books because there’s something refreshing in seeing storytelling done in only a handful of pages. That, and I want to write my own someday, too, so they’re great inspiration.
Whobert Whover is swooping over the trees one day when suddenly he spies Perry the Possum lying still on the ground. Lying /very/ still. Whobert is determined to solve the mystery!
The illustrations are adorable and the writing is so cute. When accused of soaking Perry in his sickening slime, Freddie the frog points out that he’s not slimy before even answering the charges against him. Whobert is so energetic in his quest to solve the crime that it doesn’t occur to him to let people answer his own questions.
I super recommend checking it out if you like quick examples of children’s books or really like cute illustration.