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 Summer Wives,” by Beatriz Williams
2018 Publication , 3 star , female author , novel / July 27, 2018

“The Summer Wives,” by Beatriz Williams, is the story of new money, old money, and no money colliding on an island in the north east coast, told primarily from the point of view of the wealthy (by marrying into it) Miranda. As she spends her first summer on Winthrop Island, among people who’ve been summering their for generations and among the people who live there year round, she’s swept up in the wake of her dramatic new step-sister Isobel. In the few short months she’s there, Miranda gets caught up in a secret of the island, and in the arms of a handsome fisherman/light house keeper. I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review. The novel bounces around in time a bit to build a story around specific characters and maintain a sense of mystery. The “mystery” is blatantly obvious to anyone who’s picked up a book before, leaving the reader to do a bit of math to figure out exactly how old people are at different points in the story. That said, the descriptions of the island, the residents (mostly part time but a few full time), and the drinking culture of the era(s) are…

“Caged,” by Ellison Cooper

“Caged,” by Ellison Cooper, is a fast paced thriller about FBI neuroscientist Sayer Altair, who winds up leading the hunt for an especially twisted serial killer. Said serial killer is kidnapping young women and locking them in cages, dosing them with psychoactive drugs, priming them with mythology about death and dying, and then starving them. It’s a long, slow, scary way to die. Altair and her team are eager to end the cycle of killings and prevent any more girls from being tortured and killed. I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway, but my opinion is my own. Content Note: forced outing of someone intersex/trans There’s really cliched words used to describe thrillers: roller coaster, page turner, gripping, full of twists, etc. “Caged” is all of those and more. “Caged” is a very fast read with a few great red herrings that come across not as cheap or cheating but as organic parts of the story. When I was fooled, so were the rest of the characters, in a very believable way. Cooper does a great job using our expectations against us. Cooper’s characters are interesting as well: flawed, hurting Altair and her incredible grandmother; her partner Vik; FBI…

“The Ghost Script,” by Jules Feiffer
2018 Publication , 5 star , graphic novel / June 20, 2018

Oh my god. I won “The Ghost Script” by Jules Feiffer in a good reads giveaway and my very excited opinion is honestly mine. “The Ghost Script” is the third book in a trilogy. If I’d realized that I wouldn’t have entered the contest, as I haven’t read the first two and it can be hard to jump into a series partway through without knowing what’s gone before. But I’m really glad that I entered the contest (and, of course, that I won). The noir-ish series covers the McCarthy era of anti-communism, the Red Scare, the blacklisting of folks in Hollywood and the politics of the time. There’s right wing unions, left wing unions, communists, trotskyites, and young nazis. The main protagonist is Archie Goldman, a private dick who is… not very glamorous and loses just about every fight he gets into, including fights with himself over what he should or shouldn’t do. There’s a cast of other PoV characters exploring different themes and adventures as well, including murder and revenge. The book is very well paced and even though I was a bit lost at times because I hadn’t read the previous two volumes, I was mostly able to…

“The King’s Justice” by E. M. Powell
2018 Publication , 4 star , novel / June 18, 2018

“The King’s Justice” is a medieval murder mystery/thriller by E. M. Powell, the first in a new series and thus a good jumping on point for people who are interested in murder mysteries/thrillers set in the medieval period. I won this book in a goodreads giveaway and this review is my own opinion. Content Note: threatened sexual assault to more than one party, domestic violence It’s 1176 and Aelred Barling, a clerk in the traveling court of King Henry the II, is sent to a small hamlet in the middle of nowhere to investigate a murder. As a representative of the king, he is there to make sure that proper procedures are followed and justice is served. He brings along an assistant, Hugo Stanton, a messenger that also works for the court. They don’t like each other very much but have to learn to work together… which is a common enough trope but Powell manages to make it feel realistic and organic, not a cliche. The case initially seems obvious. The suspect is locked in a cell and the townsfolk and lord are certain he’s guilty. Barling is ready to give approval for the execution and go home, until Stanton…

“The Burning,” by S. O. Esposito

“The Burning,” by S. O. Esposito, is a fast paced thriller about a woman with Disassociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD). It’s an aggressively feminist book that looks at the many different ways rape culture is the status quo, enforced both actively and passively by both men and women. There’s also arson. I should note that I received this book as part of a GoodReads give away in exchange for my honest opinion. Every time I run into a book featuring Disassociative Identity Disorder, my hackles go up. It’s a flashy, vilified mental disorder often used cheaply and meanly to indicate someone is a villain or just flat out CRAZY!!!!!!!!!. It’s a cliche that further stigmatizes a very real mental illness that affects marginalized people. Esposito seems to have done her homework, however, and her protagonist Alice Leinenger is a person and a character with attributes outside of “just” living with DID. Alice is married to a lawyer and is a stay at home parent (with a nanny) to two young kids. They live in a condo that is impossibly expensive and have more money than I can realistically comprehend. She and her friends casually…

“Last Shot” by DJ Older
2018 Publication , 3 star , novel / May 16, 2018

“Last Shot: A Han and Lando Novel” by Daniel José Older, is an interesting look Han Solo’s past as well as a lovely bridge between the original trilogy and “The Force Awakens.” Why does he leave Leia and Ben? Why does he go off on his own? Why is he so unstable? Lando Calrissian gets examined as well. What happens when a ladies man and inveterate gambler starts growing up, or at least getting older? The book explores this against the back drop of an exciting story involving space battles and mysterious objects and gang cartels and a droid uprising, but that’s not the main focus of the book. The main focus of the book is on Solo and Calrissian being vulnerable and talking about their problems with each other. It’s not all conversations all the time, but their growth is very evident in the pages of the book, and they hash stuff out with each other a few times. I know. I didn’t expect that from a Star Wars novel, either. Not even with all the fan cannon (fannon!) about Poe Dameron and Finn hanging out and sharing jackets and hugging all the time. THAT is a book I…

“Sucks (to be you)” by Katherine Duckett

“Sucks (to be you),” by Katherine Duckett, appears in the May/June 2018 issue of “Uncanny Magazine” and is an interesting take on succubi. There are a lot of stories about Succubi, of course, and their brothers called Incubi. The oldest stories focus on the horror aspect of them. They come in the night! They make you DO THINGS! They steal your VITAL ESSENCE and/or GET YOU PREGNANT!!! More recent stories spin the whole sex thing into a positive and erotic thing, almost as through the Succubi themselves are writing them. Aren’t they sexy? Don’t you want them? “Sucks (to be you)” takes a slightly different view: an emotional one. Ducketts Succubi, at least the protagonist of her story, don’t just need sex. They need an emotional connection. What I want—what most of us want—is far simpler, and gender is immaterial in its pursuit. All I want is a little space in your head. A siphon, giving me a bit of you, ever-flowing: that bit of you that can’t seem to stop thinking about me. As sexual as these Succubi are, they’re also emotional. While some view the effort of getting this attention as a chore, the way that some humans…

“The Sea Half-Held By Night,” by E. Catherine Tobler

“The Sea Half-Held By Night,” by E. Catherine Tobler, is from the 63th issue of The Dark magazine. This short story takes us to Red Bay in New Foundland, a settlement of Basque and Portuguese whalers, and the things that come up out of the sea. I am he that walks with the tender and growing night; I call to the earth and sea half-held by the night. Press close bare-bosomed night! “…sea half-held by the night” is a quote from “Leaves of Grass,” a famed collection of poems by Walt Whitman. The volume of poetry, containing anywhere from 12-400 poems depending on its publication date, emphasizes the body and physical world, as opposed to spiritual, and nature and human kind’s place in it. It’s a lovely bit of poetry, it’s a lovely line, and it’s a fitting title for a story about humans and whales and death. The story is told from the point of view of Tota, a young woman married to a whaler. She works with the whales as well, harvesting spermaceti, the wax-life stuff found in a specialized organ of a sperm whale’s head. It was used in candles and lamps and to make medicines. It’s…

“Tender Loving Plastics,” by Amman Sabet

“Tender Loving Plastics,” by Amman Sabet, comes from the May/June 2018 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Harry Harlow is remembered for his “wire mother” experiments, raising baby rhesus macaque monkeys in isolation save for a vaguely mother-shaped dummy. There were two kinds of “mother”: one was wire and wood and had a bottle of formula, while the other was covered in cloth and had no formula. The baby monkeys vastly preferred the cloth covered monkey and visited the wire one only for feeding. Regardless of the type of substitute mother, however, all rhesus monkeys in Harlow’s experiments grew up with mental issues. As cruel as his experiments were, they vastly changed the treatment of human infants for the better. With all the talk of “attachment parenting” it’s easy to forget that relatively recently parents were advised not to pick up or interact with their babies/children too much lest they “be spoiled” by attention. Primates are hard-wired for loving interaction. We need mothers and fathers, or at least guardians, who provide emotional and physical care including holding and cuddling. Neglect is a pernicious form of child abuse, and can be difficult to prove to child protective services….