In The Mind of a Kat

A messy journey through fandom, mental health and creative outlets

Please Do Not Taunt the Octopus by Mira Grant

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Set in the Newsflesh universe, this story follows Dr. Shannon Abbey as she deals with CDC spies, zombie outbreaks and murderous drug cartel despots. Really, it’s just another boring day operating an underground virology lab. And if you end up getting a hug from Barney, that can make it all the better.

I’ve read a few of Seanan McGuire’s books (pseudonym Mira Grant), and so far this novella has not disappointed. It’s limited on gore and violence, and almost lighthearted in a way that one wouldn’t expect of a book about trying to defeat the zombie virus.

Dr. Abbey does everything in her power to keep her employees safe from outside forces and, even is she is a little prickly outside and in, she really does have (most) of their best interests at heart (except for the CDC spies; they could send at least one who wasn’t such a useless waste of resources).

If you like sciencey things and zombies and backstabbing, this book should be on your To Read pile.

The Rat-Catcher’s Daughter by KJ Charles

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Musical hall singer indebted to a criminal? Check. Non-straight, non-binary characters with compelling arcs? Check. Delightful? Double-triple check.

LGBTQIA+ writing is becoming more mainstream nowadays, and one of the more prolific authors of historical LGBTQIA+ romance is KJ Charles. After reading several of her books (like, in the last month), I’m still amazed and dazzled by her simple yet quirky style. There is so much feeling and humor and action and romance that it’s impossible not to be drawn into the worlds that she creates.

Saying that, I should let you know that I have never been a big romance fan. All the woo-woo kissy-pouts and heaving breasts aren’t my cup of tea. But something about KJ Charles’s writing has changed my perspectives on the genre. It could just be that these books are more in line with my inner ideals than traditional romances, but either way, I actually like them.

Read this if you like historical romance, especially LGBTQIA+ centered historical romance. Buttons and lace and propriety, Oh My!

How the Quest Was Won by Ru Emerson

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The final installment of the trilogy, we follow Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer to Helen’s hiding place on Crete. Can the warrior trio stop Menelaus and his priest Avicus from destroying everything Helen has worked so hard for? What mystical forces lie under Crete, and are they willing to protect the city from invaders? And will Gabrielle finally accept Joxer as a part of the group, or will she push him away? Stay tuned to find out!

These books are just… ungh. As much as I want to support other authors, sometimes I find it hard to continue with something when the editing is non-existent. Much of Ru Emerson’s work is like that, though, so really it’s something I need to get over to appreciate the story. Sometimes it feels like the tangents and flashbacks are just there to fill up pages, and there are a few times the plot veers wildly off course.

I love Xena. I grew up watching the TV show and adding the swordplay to my list of imaginative skills when I ran loose in the forest. And sometimes, these books capture the feel of the show. But only sometimes. I’m not trying to put anyone off of reading this series, or really any of the Xena novelizations. Just be warned, these books won’t be on par with some of the better fanfictions out there.

If you want to read it, it’s good for action and adventure! It’s also a great nostalgia-dump, and I highly recommend reading this, even if it’s only for nostalgic purposes.

Out of all these books, I like Mira Grant’s the best. Yeah, my star ratings say differently, but I’m judging them by completely different standards, and that might mean that I can’t fully remember or put into words, but I don’t have to explain any of that to you right now, so there and ha.

*INHALE*

Anyhoo, I think the reason I’ve liked Please Don’t Taunt the Octopus so much is because lately I’ve been reading a LOT of queer sexy books (damn you KJ Charles and your fantastic writing). It’s something completely different, doesn’t revolve around said sexiness, and has a narrator that is full of snark and smarts (two things I like very much indeed).

That’s it for this month’s review. Check back next month to see if I’ve finally finished the Xena book (this has been going on for three months, people) or if I’ve added something that’s not sci-fi, queer, historical or all of the above (it’s highly unlikely, but ***wishful thinking*** on your part, not mine).

If you haven’t heard of any of the books above, I urge you to check them out! (Also, buy secondhand if you can’t get it from the library!!!) I’m all for supporting authors and whatnot, but times are tough and we need to work on reusing instead of buying everything new).

Pssst! Some websites I link to are affiliate links. It costs nothing extra for you (if you make a purchase), & it gives me a little something in return!

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