November 5th, 2018

smirk by geekilicious

Book 121-123

The Cat, the Quilt and the Corpse (A Cats In Trouble Mystery, #1)The Cat, the Quilt and the Corpse by Leann Sweeney

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I almost didn't finish this one. It's not bad but the main character, Jill, annoyed me a lot in the beginning. She did get better so I finished it. Jill is living in South Carolina alone now that her husband passed away unexpectedly and at a sadly young age (Jill is around 40). She makes her living in part by making quilts for cats and she lives with her three furry purry friends. Someone broke into her house and stole her cat. The two cops who show up are a study in contrasts, the good old boy who is unconcerned (in spite of the busted out window and the obvious theft) and the young lady cop who is a frustrated forensic scientist (and becomes good friends with Jill).

Jill has a line on the thief but he soon is also dead (and she keeps running through the house, ruining evidence in spite of being told to stop it, see what I mean about annoying)? Jill has to figure out who killed him (that isn't her or her friends) and why he was stealing the cats because she's sure it's related to the murders.

I liked some of this. I would probably read the next one.

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The Witch Boy (The Witch Boy #1)The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked this graphic novel but I had mixed feelings at the same time. For one there was some slipshod world building in the setting. We have our point of view character, Aster, living in what looks like your typical pseudo-European fantasy setting with inconsistent tech (they look semi early centuries but then there are phones) but for some reason just past a protective barrier we have a modern setting that doesn't seem to know about Aster and the magic people and I found that just weird. I mean it's within walking distance. Is it invisible? In a slightly different dimension? I have to say no because later in the story his non-magical friend is able to find it without help.

I found it interesting that several reviewers thought this was all about toxic masculinity. Yes, I suppose there is some but it's the women who are actually oppressing Aster so it really goes both way in this book. The men are shifters, taking on animals forms to fight the demons. Women use magic to do everything else. Aster has no shifter ability but he has an affinity for the feminine magic. His mother, sister, grandmother and the rest of the women keep yelling at him for spying on lessons eventually telling him that his great uncle was like him and using women's magic went wrong and he became a monster.

This doesn't really stop Aster. However, neither the girl nor the boys his age want him around. He goes to the suburbs and meets Charlie, a young girl of color (with two dads) who had a badly broken legs but an unbroken spirit. When boys his age begin disappearing and people wonder if he's to blame, it's Charlie who is his solace and his help.

I liked the characters and the diversity. I liked the art. Charlie and Aster are great characters. The take away of this is gender division is foolish.

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The Stars Now Unclaimed (The Universe After, #1)The Stars Now Unclaimed by Drew Williams

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received this from Netgalley in exchange for my unbiased review. I should have paid attention to the long page count as I can't do ebooks for long stretches of time. My failings aside, this was excellent SF and that's something coming from me who doesn't like to read a lot of fight scenes because this is one long fight scene. It also really commits to the three-act structure.

The first act is 'finding Esa.' I wasn't going to name of first person protagonist since we don't learn her name in the book until almost 75% of the way in but it's in the blurb so... Jane is a soldier for a sect known as the Justified and much like Oppenheimer they created a war-deterrent that got out of control. If there is a falling down in this book, it's the hand wavy nature of the Pulse. It was supposed to stop weapons of war in one locale. Instead it spread throughout the galaxy and some worlds are unaffected, some were thrown back to the Iron Age. Worse, the Pulse wave might be back for seconds and Jane is out to find kids like Esa, Pulse-Mutated with abilities. So the first third of the book is Jane fighting to get Esa and a robot species female named Preacher(Esa's self appointed guardian) off planet before the book's villains, the Pax (sort of a fascist sect) get her.

The second act is 'rescuing Marcus and getting Esa to the Sanctum'. Marcus is a spy and friend of Jane's. He was nearly killed gathering vital intel and Jane is out to save his life, bringing her across the path of another former friend, Javier (I loved both Marcus and Javi) all while trying to outrun the Pax in Scherazade, her AI starship (who is also great).

The third act is the fight to save the Sanctum. So yes, it's literally nearly 450 pages of fight scenes. But all the characters are well drawn, nuanced and down right fun. I loved this and I'm sure I'll be there for book two so what bigger recommendation can you give a book than that? It's worth the read if you like space operas. It won't disappoint.

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