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Bone-Healing and the Like


It's been almost six months since I broke my ankle and that sucks. It's not the worst it could be, and that sucks less. But after a couple months in an air cast, it wasn't healing. So my doctor hooked me up with a little take-home ultrasound machine that, according to many, can help with making bones knit back together.

The reasoning behind why the fracture isn't healing is, I assume, down to the surgery I had about ten years ago. Thanks to Stage IV endometriosis, I had to have a hysterectomy and oophorectomy. I knew at the time that early-onset osteoporosis would be a potential issue, but I had no plans to fall off my porch and snap my ankle, so beyond taking extra calcium I wasn't worried about it.

(The orthopedist and his various assistants always ask if I'm a smoker, which I'm not. That's the more mundane reason for bones not healing.)

So I've been using this little machine for going on two months. With three months programmed into it.

So how does it work? I'm not fully sure. Something about ultrasound.

The machine comes in a zip-up case with all sorts of trinket. The machine itself, which has a curly cord (like an old phone) with a magnet on the end. There's also a velcro strap with a port that the magnet fits in, and a bottle of ultrasound gel. You strap the velcro thing around the broken limb, with the port centered over the fracture. You put gel on the magnet, pop it in the port so the magnet is right over the fracture (making contact with the skin), and snap it shut. Then you turn the machine on and it zaps your bone with ultrasound waves for 20 minutes.

The idea is that you do this around the same time every day, and the ultrasound waves joggle your bone cells and make 'em grow. It works for about 80% of patients if you use it every day like you're supposed to and keep those bone cells joggled.

I do mine first thing in the morning before I get out of bed. Make a cup of tea in the little copper kettle on my nightstand, blast my leg with science, and listen to a podcast. (Usually Mom Can't Cook or Who Shat on the Floor at My Wedding in case you're curious what a cozy early morning in the Dennison household is like.) It doesn't really feel like much of anything, which is probably for the best.

Sadly, 60 days in, there's minimal growth across the fracture. Some. Not none. But minimal. There's every possibility it's human error and I'm just placing the magnet wrong (and I double checked with the orthopedist and had him point to the exact spot where the magnet needs to be so I can target it better because "where the pain is" is kinda broad). It's also possible I'm one of the unlucky 20% for whom it doesn't work.

So what now? I've started wearing the aircast again when I'm at home, pretty much constantly, so I don't (deliberately or accidentally) flex it funny. I'm being more persnickety about making sure the magnet is exactly on top of the fracture during the morning bone-zapping. I know for a fact this has done the trick for at least one friend, so I'm on deck to keep giving it a go if it means potentially avoiding surgery.

I've had five surgeries so far in this life, not counting wisdom teeth. That's not as many as lots of people, but I'm kind of feeling done.

All things considered, I share this because I'm fascinated by the science. Because maybe it will still have helped me in the end. Because maybe it might help someone else, or hell, it might jog a cool sci-fi idea. It's kind of neat to know that we can use little magic machines to potentially heal bones. Very Star Trek. As they say, we live in the future. Sometimes that doesn't suck.

November 2023 Book Reviews

As I mentioned recently, going forward I plan to bundle book reviews into a monthly post. It feels more comfortable (kind of like my Sci-Fi Magazine days), and it gives me more space to talk about other things. Normally these will be at the front of the month, but since I made this decision late in November and still had several November ARCs to work through, here we are.

Doyle's World: Lost and Found
Daniel Friedman, MD and Eugene Friedman, MD
Score: A+
Available now

Regardless of Arthur Conan Doyle's feelings on the matter, Sherlock Holmes holds a special place in English literature. He's a fascinating character open to a variety of unique interpretations, and exploring his influences and inspirations takes as deep and detailed a dive as any the master sleuth himself would have engaged in.

The son-and-father writing team have launched a hyper-detailed deep dive of Doyle's life, from his school days to his medical practice to his more paranormal flights of fancy, all in the pursuit of understanding from whence Holmes springs. The majority of this study is well thought-out, intriguing, and edifying. This heavy analysis leads up to the crown jewel of the work: a pair of short stories believed to be by Doyle under a pen name, with preceding chapters offering ample forensic proof of their potential as his handiwork.

A few of the deeper analyses (particularly in the Treasure Island chapter) can feel like well-intentioned reaches, at least to a layperson. But those brief moments aside, there's no denying this is one of most comprehensive and conscientiously-written books on Doyle's life and inspiration.

Lauren Roberts
Score: B+
Available now

On the surface, Powerless absolutely feels like something we've read a lot, especially in recent years. And, in fairness, it is—especially when you add that the "terrible thing" in question was an all-encompassing plague whose existence has become a grim presence in everyone's vernacular. But there's enough in this intro to the Powerless trilogy to keep you reading, even if you've seen this all before.

After the Plague, the people of the kingdom of Ilya find themselves with a variety of superhuman powers: the Elite. And then there are the Ordinary: people with no powers whatsoever. To preserve the purity of the magically gifted elite, the king has decreed that all Ordinaries should be banished or executed. That would include thief Paedyn Gray, had she not been trained to pose as a wielder of psychic powers. This gets her by until the arrival of the Purging Trials, in which Elites fight to the death to showcase their powers... and after a run-in with Prince Kai, Paedyn finds herself participating.

Now Paedyn is spinning many plates. She has to keep her Ordinary status secret, survive the Trials, and balance a burgeoning love triangle between herself and the king's two sons. But this year's Trials are special—partly because a rebellion is brewing, and party because Kai is taking part. And his role in the royal family demands that he hunt and kill people just like Paedyn.

Equal parts Hunger Games, Talentless Nana, and shonen fighting manga, Powerless is an interesting mix. It is heavy on YA fantasy tropes, which is either a deal-maker or a deal-breaker—no in between. If you're fine with a tried-and-true formula and aren't looking for anything new, there's plenty of magic, swordplay, and romance to keep you riveted.

The Bootlegger's Dance
Rosemary Jones
Score: A
Available now

This latest installment in Aconyte's Arkham Horror book series ties back to the author's previous work in the line, but foreknowledge is not necessary to enjoy this new story. And if you've ever thought Christmas ought to be a bit more eldritch, this is the book for you.

Raquel Malone Gutierrez's life has changed after illness, causing her to lose her hearing. She's moved on to help her Aunt Nova at the Diamond Dog, a dance hall famous for its jazz music—as well as more illicit business. But bootlegging isn't the scariest thing hiding under the surface of Raquel's new life. Sometimes, her bulky hearing aid picks up the voice of a stranger: Paul, a man lost in time, seemingly attracted to different times and places by a certain festive tune. As Christmas Eve approaches, Raquel takes it upon herself to find a way to save him.

Even with the knowledge that previous books would likely offer more context, this book stood well on its own. Most impressively of all, Jones handles two narratives—one moving ever-forward, one constantly unstuck in time—while leaving the reader with only the intended amount of confusion. Our bewildered time traveler, despite much of his story being a blur, is still just as sympathetic and interesting as Raquel herself. And, in the spirit of scary stories for Christmas, this makes a perfect holiday read.

Betting on You
Lynn Painter
Score: B+
Available November 28

Bailey is a Type A personality. She needs to see rules followed, she deconstructs her pizza before eating it, and she'd prefer her soda half-regular, half-diet. Charlie is... aggressively not these things. Fortunately, when the two are forced to sit next to each other on a flight from Fairbanks to Omaha, they both know they'll never have to see each other again. Until, three years later, they do.

Fresh off a breakup, the now-17-year-old Bailey runs into Charlie at her new job. But now he's more tolerable, even becoming something of a confidant as the pair are fellow children of divorce. It starts when Charlie floats a bet on whether Bailey's bestie will cheat with a coworker, expanding into Charlie becoming Bailey's fake boyfriend to frighten off her mom's new boyfriend. But a ski trip to Colorado changes everything, and soon they've gone from fake PDA to rile up the potential new dad to catching feelings for each other.

With a narrative that skips between Bailey and Charlie, we see both sides of the teen romance blossom. While Bailey fully (but reluctantly) embraces her growing feelings, Charlie—convinced that friendships between guys and girls never work and even romantic partners will always leave him—battles internally over which extreme to go to.

For teen readers, Betting on You is a deceptively competent look at friendship, romance, and the changing face of blended families. The book is a little rickety on its judgment call re: friendship between boys and girls, although it makes one or two last-minute attempts at saying something a little more solid on that front. Older readers may squirm a little at the (expected) lack of clear communication between the young protagonists; however, for its intended demographic, it's a fun and adorable read.

COMING SOON: Forgotten Lives 3


When I was first asked to take part in Forgotten Lives, I was both surprised and flattered. When I was asked to come back for a second book, the same. Now we're closing in on the third and final volume for these "what if" Doctors, and I'm to the point of being proud, and I guess a bit sad.

In my head, the Hinchcliffe Doctor has an impossible untold number of adventures. Some I came up with in great detail; others are vague "wouldn't it be cool if" concepts. When Philip Purser-Hallard reached out to us about the third volume, there was no indication of it being the final installment. There was also no indication of there being further ones, of course. Each was its own self-contained thing, and each realization that there was another chance to tell these stories was a pleasant and exciting surprise.

That said, there was a concept. A really good one. The second book had initially had a concept: regeneration stories. This was walked back when the time came to get writing, though some writers chose to stick with those ideas. While I had a story mapped out, I didn't really want to write the regeneration. And since we didn't have to, I didn't. This time, though, the concept was something different. It's an appropriate one, and an interesting one. PPH had general ideas for the sorts of things each story could entail, given our Doctors' themes and placement along this imaginary prehistory. And it just so happened that the idea he had for my Doctor fit with an idea I'd had floating around for a bit.

The Swan and the Flame is not a regeneration story, because I still don't fancy writing that. I would call it more a season opener. In terms of modern Who, it's sort of the mid-era soft reset where the Doctor sticks around, but things have changed irrevocably in some way. A story arc has closed, an arc word has been explained, and a new challenge lies ahead.

My Doctor has changed a lot over time. In The Swan and the Flame, he's still the arrogant, irritated swashbuckler; but he's also seen some things and lost some things. He's in a pivotal moment in this life, where the fire of his rebellion could either flare up brighter or go out entirely. I love to imagine this Doctor as The Doctor's intrusive thoughts personified, and that's something I leaned into even more in this story. I think, if anything, the show he's putting on is becoming a lot more meaningful to him. Less a masquerade and more an aspiration.

In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't know this was the end of the project. It means I wrote with further adventures in mind; in fact, the closing pages introduce a new menace that I'd hoped other writers might have fun playing with. I know I'm not the only one who closed out that way, and that makes me happy. It feels like these Doctors have more life to them, even beyond us.

I can't say much more, because so much of this story is tied up in the overarching story the anthology tells. But I will leave you with three out-of-context lines:

‘We have searched up and down the timeline, throughout the history of this world and others. And there is no doubt in my mind: she is the one we are looking for.’


‘The stars, Mademoiselle.’ He raised a hand, indicating the unseen sky. ‘That is where we’re going, you and I. To the farthest reaches of your imagination and beyond. Unless, of course, your imagination is as exceptional as mine.’


‘Come, now, it’s no secret what you think of your keepers. How keen you are to slip the leash.

I will also leave you with three keywords, in the tradition of BBC teasers: Revolution, Citizen, Exedra.

The rest will have to wait 'til the book is in your hands. But I do hope you'll enjoy it.

Forgotten Lives 3 is now available for pre-order—and only for pre-order—with all proceeds going to Alzheimer's charities. It would mean a lot to me if you supported this book and all the wonderful people who have worked on it.

And if you're a fan of my Forgotten Lives stories, please consider picking up my Black Archive installment on Heaven Sent. It includes an entire chapter devoted to analyzing the psychology of the Doctor, and the research I put into this book played a major role in creating "my" Doctor for these stories.

State of the Site: Winter and Beyond


Between having a nasty cold (and fortunately nothing worse), catching up to work, and other such things, I've been weighing how I'm going to be approaching blogging and social media going forward. I've been off the writing wagon for about two years for Various Reasons. The drought is about to shift (as in something is going to the printer shortly), and I have writing and editing work I'm getting back to as we speak.

That said, there are still things I want to do here on the blog. I want to update y'all on things I have coming out, because apparently there are people out there interested in reading what I write. I want to keep reviewing new books, because I miss getting to spread the word about books and authors like I used to when Sci-Fi Magazine was still a thing. At the same time, I want to make sure this blog is pulling its weight as a way to connect with people and get the word out about things, and not becoming simply a time sink.

So going forward, here are my plans:

Blog Posts Will Be Once a Week

With occasional surprise updates when something like an extremely limited book pre-order goes live, or if I'm signed up for a book tour on a day other than Wednesday. Going forward, the plan is to have a post every Wednesday covering something a little more concrete, rather than posts 3-ish times a week covering one thing.

This also gives me time to get back to other things I'm working on: revving Altrix Books back up, working on writing projects behind the scenes, and also a secret third thing.

Book Reviews Will Be Once a Month

And ideally it will be the first Wednesday of the month. I'm going to be adopting a format closer to what I did with Sci-Fi, covering and rating several books at one go rather than spreading them out as I read them. Ideally I'll be doing five per month — or at least leaving room for five per month. This month will be a bit different since we're into it; I'll be putting my review out once I've got all five reviews ready.

I have lots of great resources for ARCs, but I'm always happy to have more sent to me! If you've got a copy of something coming out that you'd like for me to review, hit me up on your social media app of choice. I'm all over the place.

I'd Like to Share Some Original Fiction

Once I'm caught up to everything, anyway.

I have a lot of very specific things I owe people. But once those things are done, I want to start submitting to anthologies, getting some story ideas out of my head and onto the page, and maybe just dicking around with turning some tabletop campaigns into a readable format for others. I don't know, I just wanna mess around some once I'm up to speed.

Whether I'll offer that on here, or as something on SubStack, I haven't decided yet. Once my feet are a bit more under me, I'll figure it out. But given the nature of writer life and the fact that I intend to start hammering submissions to anthologies again, I'm sure I'll find myself with a few stories in need of readers.

Fewer Sponsored/Merch Posts

As much as I appreciate people wanting to work with me and send me samples, I want to start narrowing that way down. There are two or three groups max I want to work with regularly because I actually do use their products as part of my day-to-day... and because they appeal directly to my book nerd vibe. This will also help me and the blog stay more focused.

I still love anime stuff, and I'll still cover manga and my journalism on here when it's relevant. But I don't really wanna be an influencer, and my work keeps me comfortable enough that I don't actually need to hustle on Instagram to pay the mortgage. There was a time when it was looking that way, but I'm doing pretty all right.

Thanks as always for hanging in there with me over time. I'm looking forward to having some very cool news for you about several things soon.

BOOK REVIEW: The Spirit Bares Its Teeth


Before we begin, let me be up front: this book is a difficult read. And to author Andrew Joseph White's credit, he gives more than ample warning about this. I'm aware that there's no way to account for every single potential difficult reading situation, because trauma doesn't follow a standardized script and pull from a lean list of logical triggers. However, the things The Spirit Bares Its Teeth confronts—not just confronts, but digs into over and over and over—are things much more couched in broader human and historical unpleasantness.

I will not be going into detail on these things in my review, because I would like you to be able to assess the story and see if what it offers is enough for you to brave these things. However, the prime thing I will offer a warning for is intricate surgical gore: detailed, constant, and vivid. If that's an unconditional deal-breaker, this isn't the book for you. Because Silas's journey is couched in both real and metaphorical surgical precision: from impromptu procedures to imagined hysterectomies, from the consistency of eyeballs to the brutality of vivisection. I nearly tapped out, which is probably a testament to White's vivid imagery.

With that aside: the story. Set in an alternate Victorian London, the world has seen the appearance of people with violet eyes. Alongside this event came the thinning of the Veil between the worlds of the living and the dead. Violet-eyed people can see through and manipulate this Veil; however, England has set it in stone that only men can become Speakers. Violet-eyed women may not tamper with the veil. They may, however, be married off in paranormal business dealings, hopefully to bear violet-eyed sons. In fact, he's already promised to a young suitor of his own age, introduced as Edward.

To the world at large, Silas is a barely-functional, violet-eyed girl who is fortunately beautiful enough to marry off to a Speaker. Silas knows he is a boy, though he fluctuates between wanting that to be an accepted fact and choosing to toe the line of femininity for his own safety. He also has autism (not explicitly named, as autism was not understood and named until decades after this story takes place) and fights to simultaneously toe the line of social acceptability—wearing two masks at once at all times. Despite Silas's unique abilities, his interest is in the living body: he dreams of becoming a surgeon like his older brother George, and has practiced in secret under George's watchful eye.

After a bold attempt at sneaking into a ceremony to be recognized as a speaker, Silas is whisked away to—let's not mince words—an institution. Couched as a place where young ladies with "Veil sickness" may overcome their troublesome ways and become good Speaker wives, it's exactly the sort of place you think it is. It's also exactly the sort of place where Silas must go full silent running if he ever hopes to make it out in one piece.

However, there's more going on here. Girls who are especially troublesome disappear without a trace, and Silas's tampering with the Veil reveals where those girls may have gone. The ones who remain have their own troubles to deal with, existing in a tense found family where self-preservation gives way to mutual care when Headmaster subjects one of the girls to "special training."

To go into much more would be giving away some of the book's best discoveries. Suffice to say Silas finds an unexpectedly similar ally in his betrothed, and together they must dodge under the watchful eyes of the staff and Silas's fellow students/patients to unearth the institution's dark secrets.

If I could change one thing about The Spirit Bares Its Teeth, it would be the presence of Daphne—as in I'd have loved more. While it's understandable that she must be something of a distant presence, I would love to have had more time as a reader to get to know her. I say this with the awareness that that's probably part of the point of her being so (physically) distant throughout many of Silas's trials. But I also feel like there are unplumbed depths to her, and I closed the book wishing for more time with her.

As mentioned above, this book is extremely brutal, and probably not a comfy read for people who can't stand extended ruminations on incisions, stitches, vivisections, and the like. To give you a metric: I tend to be pretty okay with written descriptions, with actual visuals being where I have to step away. These descriptions were so vivid that it didn't take actual visuals to make my hands start trembling a bit. Props to White: making prose that gnarly in practice is an art. Just be warned. The depictions of the mistreatment of people in a psychiatric setting is also especially gruesome, and gets more so as the book goes on. Thematically and descriptively, it's a lot. But to tell its story, it also needs to be.

If you can stomach all of that, I recommend this book. Its worldbuilding is intriguing, and rests largely on humanity's interpretation of a single reality-altering event. Living with Silas as a first-person narrator is insightful, as we get to see every flicker of internal conflict and self-actualization play out. I also loved seeing time and consideration given to how the rest of the world was functioning under these new circumstances. It's a raw and difficult read, but a worthwhile one.

OUT NOW: Otaku USA's Fall 2023 Issue!


It's that time again! The Fall 2023 issue of Otaku USA Magazine is on newsstands. As ever, I'm super grateful to be a part of this publication. The fact that we have a regularly issued anime-centric magazine in the States is a big enough deal already; getting to share my thoughts on new (and classic) series is just a bonus.

This time around, I have a trio of features on this year's newest titles. There's also lots of coverage of older titles in this issue, too—including the original six-episode Gunbuster OVA, Aim for the Ace!, and our cover girl Kiki!

In the review section, I share my thoughts on Yuri Is My Job! This seemingly one-trick title actually has a lot of intriguing plot threads and emotional stakes. Much like Ouran High School Host Club, it's largely sold on its opening gag, but has lots of hidden depth. Don't get me wrong, it's also still really funny.

On to features... I'm back in the isekai mines for a piece on The Aristocrat's Otherworldly Adventure. It's a surprisingly charming and genre-savvy series. So if you're trying to steer clear of edgy revenge isekai, this is a good place to start. I also completely forgot I referred to the protagonist as "the Bertie Wooster of anime" in this feature, but I'm not wrong.

Slightly grimmer—okay, a lot grimmer—is Hell's Paradise, the subject of my other feature for this issue. This exercise in opposites was a lot of fun to dig into and write about. If you're sensitive to gore and bizarre imagery, you might not feel comfy with this one. But if you're into, like, Devilman and Chainsaw Man, take my review to heart and watch this one.

I'm hard at work on another round of features for the next issue as we speak, so I'm looking forward to telling you all about that one when it drops! In the meantime, pick up the latest issue from the newsstand or grab it online. And if you want more of me talking about anime on a regular basis, check me out in the Crunchyroll Newsroom and the Otaku USA website!