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The Forest Bull by Terry Maggert

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The medium in which I consumed The Forest Bull is by audiobook. It was a fairly painful experience; the audiobook narrator is a woman but the book is from the point of view of a man (...wut?), thus making her sound terribly like a female trucker for the entire book. Narration aside, I tried to get past this poor move and focus on the great story that this book had the potential to be.

The book is about three humans who hunt immortals for a living. The upheaval comes when some unknown Baron contacts them to track down his immortal daughter, Elizabeth. It is an upheaval because they don't advertise their services so they figure that someone fairly close to them is a rat. Much of the book after that is them checking out the Baron's validity while searching both for Elizabeth and the spy in their close circle of friends. Yadda yadda, some other stuff happens, then the end of the book happens and they don't even find Elizabeth WHICH THEY SPEND THE WHOLE BOOK DOING. How can you even finish a book without wrapping up your loose ends? If the thought is to keep looking for this woman over the entire series then it is a terrible idea. I'll never know. All this and the POV of the main character is so weird that I thought it was written by a woman because it seemed a little off compared to other man-POV books I've read.

I don't recommend listening to or reading this book (but especially listening to) and I won't be reading any more in this series and probably nothing from the author, if I'm lucky.

As many stars as I take my Thai food: "Zero."

Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen

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(Lila Bowen = Delilah S. Dawson, for the record)This is another book that I just had to give a 100/5 Stars score. It is SO GOOD. Every word, every move, and each piece of the story is so captivating and absolutely magical.

Wake of Vultures is set in 1860's Texas and follows Nettie Lonesome, a young woman who is as alone in the world as her name suggests. She was orphaned as an infant and adopted/enslaved by two pretty terrible people who overworked her. Nettie's world changes after she kills a supernatural creature, but the interesting thing is she didn't even know that they existed at all before this encounter. Once someone kills a supe, essentially the spell is broken and they are able to see them all under their human illusions.

Nettie find the courage to leave the only "home" she has ever known in search for a better life. In her search, she finds herself on a quest that, unbeknownst to her, has been waiting for her her whole life.

After reading this, I want to travel back to Texas in 1860 and become a Ranger. Kinda. Okay, just kidding, because I really want to stay here with my indoor plumbing, kindle, and contact lenses, but Bowen made being a Ranger seem very exciting! This was a story that was definitely swimming around in my head for several days after I read it, and I can't wait for the next book in the series to come out.

100/5 Stars :-)

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

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Ink and Bone was a great story told by a terrible storyteller. The whole time I kept waiting for the moment where something amazing would happen, the story to click, and for me to feel like a part of the book. This first half was pretty painful- very slow and I had a difficult time caring about what happened. I wanted to stop reading so bad, but it really takes a lot for me to stop reading a book. After the half-way mark some action started to pick up and things got going, but I still felt like I was reading a book rather than a part of the story.

All of the book in the world are controlled by the Great Library and people read books on "blanks," which are books that are blank until you "check them out" from the Great Library. It is way illegal to have a real, physical copy of a book. Jess Brightwell, our main character, comes from a family of runners. Runners procure physical copies of books for very wealthy people and take great risk in getting them to the buyers. Jess is very smart and his father arranges for him to apply to work for the Great Library. He is accepted into the program and travels to Alexandria in the hopes of landing a job.

Though I had a hard time getting into the story, the idea behind it and many of the scenes and events are great. There needs to be more, especially in the beginning, and there needs to be more really good and really bad, not so much ambiguity. The Library is supposed to be a decent institution but the reader knows the whole time that it isn't quite good but we don't yet know what's on, and the characters don't realize anything until the end. I feel like this could be a metaphor for the government but it falls flat on it's face.

2/5

Lady Killer Vol. 1

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Lady Killer is a different a fun story about  basass 1950's housewife... who is also an assassin. Josie spends her days caring for her two daughters, making dinner for her husband, and tracking down her latest assignment. The shit hits the fan when the big boss of the "company" she's worked for for 15 years worries her loyalties to her family will have a negative effect on her work. Josie decided she wants out and enlists the help of another female agent who is also looking to leave.

The art in this comic is some of my favorite. Joelle Jones's strong colors and bold lines give excellent corresponding visuals to the in-your-face theme of Lady Killer. I can't wait for volume 2!

5/5 Stars.

Nora approves this comic.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

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Neverwhere is classic Neil Gaiman but one of my least favorites of his so far. It has all of his usual twists and surprises but with the pizzaz I have come to expect.

Though a series of events, Richard finds himself in London Below, which has many of the same things as London Above but with more Tube stops, warriors, monsters, and a floating market that's always in a different place. In order to leave London Below behind and to stay forever in London Above (his London), Richard finds himself helping Door and her companions on their quest to avenge the brutal killing of Door's family. Some in their party are not who they seem to be and they must find out who before it is too late.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and while I did find my mind wondering back to this book while I was not reading it, I did try to kind of quickly finish the book because I didn't love it.

3/5 Stars

I Was the Cat

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I picked up this book from ECCC (more happy memories!) and I hate that I waited to long to read it. It is a beautiful book; a sturdy hardcover with no jacket (yay!) and is beautifully designed. I wish more hardcovers were made this way. (What's with dust jackets anyway? I feel the same way about DVD covers; I don't like them but I can't bring myself to get rid of them.) The pages are also great quality and I love the design of the inside cover and back pages. It is so noticeably nice that this is my first description of how physically nice a book is.

In addition to being an appealing object to hold in my hands, I really love the story. I've never read anything like it and it has a bunch of cats in it. I was pleasantly surprised with how well written the story is. Usually when the art is so great the story is sacrificed because, well, I guess it's hard to pair an equally great writer and artist? I dunno, but the two aren't always both fabulous. Here I feel like the writing and the art came together quite nicely. I don't want to spoil all the details, but it was creative, interesting, and I didn't expect the little turn at the end even though it wasn't anything too wild and crazy.

This is a fantastic read with amazing (fabulous, wonderful, beautiful, perfect!!!) art. WHEN'S BOOK 2, GUYS???

5/5 Stars
Note: This is a Jacques-approved book.

Victoria, BC and the Olympic Peninsula

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In September my in-laws came out to take Joe and I on a little vacation to Victoria and the Olympic Peninsula. On Thursday after work we drove to Port Angeles and stayed the night there so we'd be able to take an early ferry to Victoria. On the way we ate at Sogno di Vino (I do not recommend), an Italian restaurant in Poulsbo.

Leaving Seattle

On Friday we took the Coho ferry to Victoria from Port Angeles and drove straight to the Craigdarroch Castle since our hotel wasn't ready for check-in. After doing a self-guided walking tour of the castle, we parked near our hotel and walked to Fisherman's Warf for a fish and chips lunch at Barb's. The food wasn't great but there were some adorable seals who swam up to the dock who had the employees of a fresh-fish vendor very well trained. Afterwards, we walked up Government Street, did some sight seeing and souvenir shopping, visited a book store and comic shop, and finally checked in to the hotel and took a much needed nap. We stayed at Gatsby Mansion. It was right off the ferry ramp and a real dream of a house.

Craigdarroch Castle
A friendly seal at Fisherman's Warf

Parliament, eh?

I <3 Orcas

Our room at the Gatsby Mansion

We ended up having dinner at 10 Acres. We ended up eating really late and I was hangry in the worst way. I had the Tagliatelle dish with a Blue Buck by Phillips Brewing and it was SO GOOD. I highly recommend this restaurant and hope to go back when I visit Victoria again.

Dinner from 10 Acres

The Empress Hotel.

The Gatsby Mansion

On Saturday we ferried back to Port Angeles then drove to the Sol Duc Resort where we stayed for that night. The accommodations were fine but way, way, way overpriced. While we waited for our rooms to be ready, we hiked to Sol Duck (yes, this one has a "k") Falls (very pretty). That afternoon we joined the masses in the hot spring pools they have at the resort. It was okay but pretty underwhelming and very smelly. We ate at the restaurant there at the resort and the food was surprisingly very tasty. I had the Roasted Draper Valley Chicken and this, too, was a fantastic meal.

At Lake Crescent.



Dinner at the Sol Duc Resort restaurant.

Sunday breakfast was had at the resort as well (biscuits and turkey sausage gravy with sweet tea) before we drove to the Quileute Reservation to stay in La Push. We got there around lunch time and had several hours until check in, so we drove to the Hoh Rainforest and hiked the Hall of Mosses trail. It was a beautiful hike and I highly recommend it!

Hall of Mosses in the Hoh Rainforest

Hall of Mosses in the Hoh Rainforest

Hall of Mosses in the Hoh Rainforest
After checking in to the resort (the term is loosely used, but the cabin was really awesome), we walked on the beach that was right in front of our cabin then had dinner at River's Edge Restaurant, which is on the reservation. This is definitely a more humble tribal community; they don't have a casino or large resort to pull in revenue so I was a bit skeptical about the restaurant. It was amazing. Joe and I shared clam chowder (my first!) to start then I had the Smoked Salmon Fettuccine Alfredo. Holy cow. They were so very generous with the smoked salmon and it was so, so tasty. We all loved our meals and highly recommend this restaurant as well.


La Push, WA

View from River's Edge Restaurant on the Quileute Reservation.

Smoked Salmon Fettuccine Alfredo

Sunset at La Push
We headed back to Seattle on Monday and since the weather was pretty nice we took a side trip to Hurricane Ridge. We had about 5 minutes of clear views before the fog and clouds rolled in.

On the way down from Hurricane Ridge.

On this trip I decided to not take my DSLR and try out just using my iPhone for all of my photos. It's something I've wanted to try for quite a while and I went for it. I am pleased with how they turned out and now know if I leave it on a future trip I won't miss out on good pictures.

If I were to do this trip again or have a suggestion for someone else doing something similar, I would recommend not moving around so much. I'd suggest to skip staying at Sol Duc (you can buy a pass to go in the hot springs if you really want to do that) and instead stay two nights on the Quileute Reservation. It was overcast the whole trip and raining for some of it but we still had a great time. Just bring your rain boots!

Servants of the Storn by Delilah S. Dawson

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This is the fifth book and second world I have read of Dawson's and I absolutely love her authorly abilities. She has a magical way of creating worlds or versions of our world without having to explain too much, but you totally know what's going on. She seamlessly gives details throughout the story so it doesn't seem like you're reading paragraph after paragraph of descriptions and rules, because you aren't. Servants of the Storm is set in Savannah, GA (visiting in February, yay!) and the book starts just as the fictional hurricane Josephine hits. Our main character, Dovey, loses her best friend, Carly, in the storm, and Savannah herself loses and untold amount of people, animals, and buildings. About a year after the storm, Dovey stops taking the anti-psychotics she was prescribed after Carly died and realizes that these aren't normal pills- they make you passive, compliant, and zombie-like.

If you're a stickler for spoilers, stop reading now. I feel that mentioning a few of the heavily hinted-at details may convince one to read this book if you are not yet convinced.

Hurricane Josephine wasn't just an act of nature- it was brought about by demons, as most natural disasters are. Demons wanted a stronger hold of Savannah and they needed a way to get more servants, and fast.

Uh, cool!

Of course, I won't give away all of the good surprises of this book. Several reviews I read online said they liked the book in the beginning only, and I think with just a little more information in the description more people would know what to expect and if this is the type of book for them.There's also sisterhood, lust, love, ghosts, and lots of fun, creepy stuff. And chocolate cake!

I haven't been able to find out if this is a stand-alone novel or a series, but since it isn't mentioned it seems to be the former. There's definitely enough material to make it into a series, but I also think it stops at a really interesting place as a stand alone.

5/5

Nefertiti's Heart by A.W. Exley

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This is a great steampunk read! The book follows Cara Devon, who is back in London for the first time in seven years to tidy up her father's affairs following his death. To the outsider, her father has nothing but his house left to his name, but Cara knows that he spent his fortune collecting rare and precious artifacts and hiding them throughout London.

Viscount Nathaniel Trent offers his services to help Cara sell off her father's artifacts, but they soon discover that one of the artifacts is somehow involved with a series of murders that has been going on around London.

I listened to the audio book version of this story and, for the most part, I loved it. My only complaint is that when the narrator does her impression of a man's voice, she sounds like a pervy 80-something-year-old man. Not great when one of the main characters is supposed to be young and attractive!

5/5 Stars

You're Never Weird On The Internet (Almost)

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You're Never Weird... shares interesting background of Felicia Day. Before reading, I didn't really know anything about her and really only picked up her book (and started watching The Guild!) after a friend asked if I wanted to go to her book signing here in Seattle. I'm so glad I agreed to go because otherwise I probably wouldn't have read this hilarious and inspirational book about a weird homeschooled nerd from the south, who is also a genius because she double-majored in Violin (or in Music? Whatever) and math (ew) and still graduated with a 4.0 GPA.

I did like reading about how she grew up, but what I really liked is that she's just a normal person who worked really hard for what she wanted, even though she fought herself the whole way and wanted to give up, she didn't, and she accomplished her goals the old-fashioned way. With dedication. What I like even more is that she created a career for herself out of nowhere. She also has had to deal with a lot of crap from people (mostly about being a poser gamer) that would be extremely hard to get over while still doing what you have been all along. So we have a funny, smart, nerdy girl who is getting shit for being a pioneer for doing what she does. Makes sense.

I highly recommend this book! It is a great read.

5/5 Stars

The Wicked and the Divine Volumes 1 & 2

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I just finished reading volume 2... woah. Talk about an amazing story. Roughly: Every 90 years these gods come back to earth and once they are "reborn" as the gods they are, they have two years to live. They live their two godly years as pop stars, performing and motivating mortals. Volume 1 builds up the gods and shows how they interact with people and volume 2 shows the downside of their two years on earth; They're starting to notice their temporary mortality. We're not much closer to solving Luci's situation, but we do meet two new gods in volume 2 and when we do...wow. I exclaimed aloud!

5/5 Stars

Rasputin Volume 1

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Rasputin is about Grigori Efimovich Rasputin, a man who has the ability to heal people. When he does, he becomes just a little bit like that person, taking on little bits here and there, and gets really interesting when he heals animals...

What makes this comic so unique is that for much of the trade, it is lead by the art and has very few words. The artwork is absolutely fantastic; truly amazing and so unlike anything I have seen before.

Throughout these issues, we see different scenarios where it looks like Rasputin will die but he assures his audience that he has already seen when and how he is going to die and this isn't it. Until the last scene, where something happens and you don't know how he will come back from it. And that makes me super excited for volume 2.

5/5 Stars

Court of Fives by Kate Elliott

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Wow. I just finished listening to Court of Fives and I don't have words to adequately convey how good this book is. It's one of those books where so much happens that I can't say too much or I will give something important away.

This book starts out with Jessamyn's (Jes) one burning desire being to run as an adversary in the Court of Fives. The Fives is a five-part obstacle course that is highly competitive and is watched for entertainment. Jes's immediate goals and situation change so much throughout the book that I can't mention the details, but this quote from her father is the running theme for the entire book:

"There will come a moment in your life where you find yourself confronted with two choices, and both are bad ones... When we come to that fork in our path down which no road is clean, all we can control is what dignity and honor we take our inevitable step."

We learn a lesson in what it means to make decisions for ourselves, without the input of others, and that the decision that seems to be fair to everyone may not be so in long run.

5/5 Stars

Wicked Ever After by Delilah S. Dawson

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Jacques doing is best Criminy glare.
This book is fourth in the Blud series and the second and final part of our favorite couple in Sang, Criminy and Tish. I haven't read all of the Blud novellas (yet) but my overall impression of this series, despite some pretty cheesy lines, is that this is a wonderful, well-thought-out, and brilliant world and story. I absolutely love this world and I love that three of the book focus on different characters. Because of this, we have been able to learn more about Sang than we do most book worlds.

Wicked Ever After starts out with Tish bringing her sick grandmother with her to Sang in the hopes that she can make her well again. At this point, Tish's entire world flips upside down and I... can't really say any more than that  because SPOILERS. I will say that Criminy and Tish spend most of the book running around London and Tish has more ties to Sang than she could have ever imagined.

4/5 Stars

A short review of Wicked After Midnight (Blud #3):

This book was the most perfect mixture of things for me: Paris, Bludmen, and Steampunk! Tons of adventure, action, and intrigue. Demi and Cherie take their circus contortion act to Paris with the hopes of making it big at the cabaret. On the way, Cherie is kidnapped and Demi is offered the help of Vale, a highwayman. Demi has to decide how much she can trust Vale and just how far she is willing to go to find her best friend.

My only complaint is that the main character was a pretty big bitch most of the time to her lover boy. This aside, I really enjoyed this story. As always, I love the world of Sang!

5/5 Stars

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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After I was a little into listening to the audio book, I looked up reviews about the book to find out exactly what was going on because it was slightly confusing. I was shocked to find that this book was written in 1985, 30 ago, yet it is somehow a timeless read. Magically seamless and timeless.

This book reads as a memoir or diary from the point of view from Offred, a woman who was forced to become a handmaid after an attack on the US government gave way to new, crazy leaders forming the Republic of Gilead. Before the change, she (Offred wasn’t her real name but given to her once a handmaid) was married with a daughter and worked in a library. After the takeover, her life as a handmaid meant living in the house of a commander as a means for the commander and his wife (usually an older couple that wasn’t able to have children) to have a child. Similar to a book like The Giver where certain women are selected for giving birth to all of the babies that are doled out to families, but a handmaid does a two-year stint with one commander at a time.

My main issue with this book is that everyone seems to have forgotten most things from their life before (culture-wise) in only what seems to be 3 or 4 years. Maybe this is what makes it so timeless. Offred is very vague on time; I don’t think they have access to a calendar or and easy way to tell how much time has gone by. Or maybe she doesn’t want to think about it.

What I love about this book is how it made me feel. I react with more emotion to things that are not happy and wonderful and this book is haunting. We don’t get all of the answers or details that we want, and I think that makes me remember something longer and better because, since I don’t have the ending, I spend time thinking about the possibilities.

A few quotes that really stood out to me:

“The Fall was a fall from innocence to knowledge.”

“The past is a great darkness and filled with echoes.”

“How were we to know we were happy, even then?”

Night rises vs traditional night “falling.”

"Sinfully scrabbling."


5/5 Stars

French Kids Eat Everything by Karen le Billon

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You guys know how much I love my anything-to-do-with-France-but-especially-eating books!

When in France, Karen kept saying that her girls “can’t” or “won’t” do certain things. I didn’t feel like she was being fair to them and didn’t believe enough in them or their ability to adapt to their new surroundings. I found myself feeling embarrassed for her many times because I didn’t feel like she was embarrassed enough about certain situations. At the same time, I can only imagine how hard it would be to move somewhere and be made to feel like you’re not raising your children correctly, especially when it is the correct way where you’re from. 

I wanted to listen/read this book with the hopes that it could offer tips to retrain myself to eat better and in the French way. It did offer tons of good tips. I was mildly distracted by how much she put down her kids, but other than that I enjoyed it. I feel like Karen gives up on things easily; if it seems like it will be too hard then she changes her mind about wanting it. I have the same tendancies so possibly I am reflecting on myself.


Karen’s French Food Rules:
1. Parents: you are in charge of food education.
2. Avoid emotional eating. No food rewards, bribes, etc.
3. Parents plan scheduled meals and menus. Kids eat what adults eat.
4. Eat family meals together. No distractions.
5. Eat your veggies. Think: variety.
6. You don’t have to like it but you do have to taste it.
7. No snacking. It’s ok to feel hungry between meals.
8. Slow food is good, happy food. As in, eat slow.
9. Eat mostly real food. Treats for special occasions are ok.
10. Remember: Eating is Joyful! Relax.

3/5 Stars

Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard

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Continuing on my French memoir kick (it’ll last as long as the books do!), I read this follow-up to Lunch in Paris.

It was written I the same fun way that LIP was, complete with delicious-sounding recipes (I love how she tells a wonderful story surrounding food then shares the recipe), but this book mostly takes place after they move to a tiny village in provence and their quest to adjust and fit into village life.

One day, Elizabeth and Gwendyl get the idea to become business owners… of an ice cream shop! They spend months and month testing recipes and researching equipment. They open with great success and just announced the opening of another location in Paris!

Elizabeth also shares with us her struggle connecting with motherhood and with her son, Alexandre. It is a heart-breaking story but one that ends well.

4/5 Stars

The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

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This book sounds awesome; set in Paris in a post-apocalyptic world that is ruled by The Fallen (fallen angels). There are several main Houses, kind of a gang for the elite, that always seem to be feuding or at war with each other.
So, yes, awesome story idea but I feel that it was poorly executed. It reads as though you’re at such a distance while you’re watching the story unfold. I didn’t feel a connection to any of the characters, or really even the house, Silver Spires, that the book follows. It felt very impersonal and that made it extremely difficult to get into the book. There were also a LOT of details at the beginning of the story, making it hard to follow or get in to. It probably took between 50 and 100 pages to be hooked into the story and sold on finishing the book.
It also read like it was written by a non-native English speaker (and turned out it was) which was very distracting from the already hard-to-get-into story. There were no blatant errors, just words or wording of sentences that technically work but that no native speaker would use.
There were no “ah-ha!” moments, no big character changes, no revelations. Just people saying, “I suck at what I’m doing,” and, yes, they do suck at what they’re trying to do and THEY DON’T TRY TO CHANGE OR DO BETTER.
For the length of the book and the epic premise, I expected a lot more from this book and unfortunately it fell flat on it’s face.

2/5 Stars

This book was sent to me as part of the Ace Roc Street Team for review. All opinions are my own.

Benjamin Dewey's The Tragedy Series

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This is something I walked into Emerald City Comicon knowing nothing about and coming out a GIGANTIC fan. I had already been reading The Autumnlands comic (in which Dewey is the artist) so I was excited to visit his booth and get issue 3, the one that got me into reading it, signed. I was telling him how new I was to comics and that the artwork is what attracted me to The Autumnlands, when he pulled out two small teaser volumes of The Tragedy Series to give me. AWW. He and his wife were amazingly nice and friendly and I loved the volumes so much that I ended up buying the hardback of The Tragedy Series (originally a thing on Tumblr) and I Was the Cat, a book he has out with writer Paul Tobin.

The Tragedy Series is written and illustrated by Benjamin Dewey and I just cannot deal with how perfect his animals are. They have such emotion in their faces and posture while being simplistically detailed, if that makes any sense at all. Below, I have included a minuscule sample of my favorites:








LOOK AT HIS FACE

This is me to a T.

The little bear bodies and faces. /sob.

If you like his work, PLEASE check out The Autumnlands. The first trade just came out and IS FIVE EIGHTY EIGHT on Amazon right now which is a crying shame. So buy 10 copies and force them upon anyone you know. And be sure you read through twice; once as you would and the second time to look at the detail in the art. If you think these guys are cute, wait until you see mama cat and baby cat on the very last page of the trade.

5/5 Stars