“Chicago,” by Glenn Head
2 star , graphic novel , memoir / October 16, 2018

I picked up “Chicago,” by Glenn Head, on impulse from the library because I live in Chicago and it’s about Chicago. I stupidly assumed the author was roughly my age (mid to late 30s to early 40s) and thus his experience leaving his wealthy suburban family and playing poor person pan handling in Chicago was set in the 90s and he was begging around the intersection of Clark and Lake. Instead he was doing his panhandling on the South Side of Chicago before I was born. Also he’s a bigger asshole then I thought… And I thought he’d be an immense asshole. But hey, Chicago This book is autobiographical, or at least based on the author’s biography. But the protagonist’s name is spelled differently so I assume we’re not meant to take this as literal autobiography and recognize that some liberties have been taken. Possibly fictional Glen has discovered Nihilism and alt comix and decides that he’s got the skills he needs to be an alt comix pro despite being a recent high school grad. His parents pay for him to attend a pricey art college so he can make a living doing alt comix like his hero Robert Crumb….

“The Boy at the Keyhole,” by Stephen Giles
2 star , 2018 Publication , Novella , thriller / October 6, 2018

“The Boy at the Keyhole,” by Stephen Giles, is a thriller set in post-war England, at the manor house of a once wealthy family. Nine year old Samuel is a half orphan, his father dead from a tragic fall. His beloved mother has gone to the USA to try to secure investment capital in their failing business… or has she? As housekeeper Ruth gets increasingly dictatorial he starts wondering more and more whether his mother is actually in the USA… or if Ruth killed her so she can “swan about the place like Lady Muck.” If we can stomach this conceit, it’s a tightly written thriller about a hidden murder, or perhaps the spiraling insanity of a small child. Unfortunately the idea falls apart at the slightest bit of critical thinking. The problem with Ruth wanting control of the estate is that there’s nothing to control or enjoy. A woman who never wanted children, or to care for children, is left the sole caretaker of a bright but weird (and friendless) little kid. I have a 9 year old. I love him dearly. He’s also difficult to take care of in that tedious yet needy way that all (most?) 9…

Schrodinger’s Dog by Allan Brewer
2 star , 2018 Publication , novel , Science Fiction / August 9, 2018

“Schrodinger’s Dog” is a very fine short story stretched out over the course of a novel, filled with tedious exposition and infodumps that detract heavily from the ideas of the book which involve time travel and killing/not killing a dog. I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. “Schrodinger’s Dog,” a book with an exciting summary of its plot, fails utterly to live up to the expectations it raises. A book about time travel, and about killing/not killing a dog (as with the famous Schrodinger’s Cat never-actually-performed experiment, or thought exercise), is bogged down by nothing happening but exposition and some kissing until literally halfway through the book. I slogged through this on a kindle fire and nothing of note happened until 51% of the way through. I don’t lean too heavily on gifs outside of twitter, but this particular scene kept running through my head. When ARE they going to get to the fireworks factory? The idea of the book is an exciting one, so why does nothing of import happen until halfway through the book? Oh, things DO happen before then. The protagonist is married but separated to a woman who put her career on hold to raise…

“The Púca,” by Terri Squires
2 star , 2017 Publication , novel / May 22, 2018

I received “The Púca,” by Terri Squires, as part of a GoodReads give away. It’s a book that has… many issues, most of which could have been resolved with editors– both for content as well as copy editing. “The Púca” follows Mairin and Josh, orphaned twins adopted by their aunt and uncle who live in steamy Florida. They are both excellent swimers, 13 years old, excited about going into 8th grade. The school year ends a bit rockily when Mairin, who has a short temper, instigates a fight with the school bully. Although he has a more even temper, Josh has ADHD and poor impulse control which leads to another bit of excitement: a swimming race in the ocean that goes awry. It’s at that moment that Mairin discovers she can turn into an animal. The two are excited by this, of course, and decide she’s a Púca, which doesn’t really make sense because Púcas are a mythical creature that is a fairly demonic horse that likes to torment dudes that falling-down drunk. As mythical characters to pick it seems kind of random. Anyway, they decide to go about their summer as usual, after first telling their best friends but…