Cover Image: You Sexy Thing

You Sexy Thing

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Farscape meets The Great British Bakeoff is a very apt description for You Sexy Thing by Cat Rambo. Niko Larson is a former military leader for the Hive Mind who left to start a restaurant on TwiceFar Station. She took with her a multi-species selection of her former crew and they are on the verge of success in the form of a coveted Nikkelin Orb restaurant award. A threat to the station forces them to escape on board the sentient ship, You Sexy Thing. They escape with only a few possessions, including a crate addressed to Larson that happens to contain Atlanta, the heir to the Paxian empire. They find themselves unwillingly headed toward the clutches of a pirate king holding a deep grudge against Niko that he’s been nursing for years. Their quest for a successful restaurant now becomes a quest just to survive!

Cat Rambo has created a lovable cast of eccentric characters along with an adventure worthy of them. The character-driven narrative lets the excellent world-building unfold in the background as you experience it by watching how it has shaped and continues to drive these individuals. This includes the sentient ship which is exposed to new ways of thinking, and cooking, by its interaction with the crew. The plot moves forward at a steady clip with plenty of action, humor and surprises along the way.

You Sexy Thing is a lot of fun with a group of characters that you enjoy spending time with and a brisk plot filled with action, emotion and humor. Looking forward to seeing more in this universe!

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher.
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An interesting idea but I thought not very well written. Obviously the starting point for a series as it leaves alot of plot points unfinished
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DNF at 45%

Look, I tried, I really tried with this one. I've spent the past month trying to finish this short 300 pages novel but I have to admit that it makes me miserable and that's the thing I need to avoid, having just come out of a huge reading slump.

This is a character driven story and I'm a character driven reader but here, unfortunately, not one character seems even relatively interesting or compelling to me. Furthermore, I have no interest in reading about cooking which should have stopped me from requesting this book in the first place.

This type of story and setup is so not my cup of tea but if it is yours, definitely check it out.
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The teaser hooked me with "Great British Bake Off meets Farscape"

The story took a little bit longer, meandering in it's comfortable little setting.

Then, as things are wont to do, everything went utterly wrong.  And that my friends is when things started getting really interesting.  Rambo lulls you into complacency even as our intrepid heroes gear up for the biggest challenge of their culinary careers, and then pulls the rug out from under everything and sends the plot careening sideways into adventure and strife from most unexpected corners.  Amidst all of this, the characters unfold, giving the reader emotional stakes in the outcome.

A delightful journey, all and all.
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I was hooked by the description "Farscape meets The Great British Bake Off." 

Alas, I was bored from the beginning where nothing much happens but character introductions. II get that they are necessary and I do enjoy them normally, but it just didn't gel with me. I wanted to see the living ship. I wanted the Space Opera to get going. So, once I got there -to the living ship- (at about 21%), I didn't care anymore and I skimmed to the end.  

I'm sure this book will have it's fans, but it's not for me.
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Wow. Just wow.

This is why I read sci-fi. 

A band of misfits that have escaped indentured soldierdom in the Hive Mind end up on an organic bioship named You Sexy Thing. Shenanigans follow.

This cast of characters is one that I'm sort of hoping Cat Rambo continues writing about. And maybe she already has - I had not heard of her before reading this book and that's a damn shame, because she has many works of science fiction and why are women so little known in this genre?! I digress... The juxtaposition of the alien characters in their little found family with the trials and tribulations of something so relatable as running a restaurant hits so many "this is perfect" notes for me. I loved getting to know each of these characters, especially Captain Niko. This is one of those times I wish I was an artist so that I could create fan art for these characters. There are TOO MANY scifi books I've read that have aliens in them who have the same exact culture as humans but are green. That's so blah to me - a complete missed opportunity. Cat Rambo has created entirely ALIEN creatures with different social norms, mannerisms, and cultures, and then has shown how the dynamic between them works. I'd liken it more to Star Trek - how the learning and acceptance of other cultures can and should be the goal, not war.

I loved this book and would most definitely read any others by Cat Rambo - but I do hope that this continues as a series because while the story closed out nicely, there's definitely room for these characters to have many more adventures!

Normally I'm a fast-paced plot kind of girl, but this one was more slow to medium. That worked for the character relationships in the story but made it slower than what I prefer so I gave it 4 stars out of 5.
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TL;DR

You Sexy Thing is excellent space opera. Cat Rambo has created a joyful, hopeful tale of found family. Come for the characters; stay for the fun. Highly recommended.

Review: You Sexy Thing by Cat Rambo

Aliens are one of the things I love about science fiction. Seeing the varied lifeforms that different authors imagine makes me happy. Star Trek’s human-like species have always been a let down for me. Star Wars had a bit more diversity amongst species. Babylon 5 upped the game, but no show or movie has ever topped the variety and imagination of Farscape. The variety of aliens, including the living ship, attracted me to the show; the way the writers used that variety made it one of my favorite SFF properties of all time. If a book’s blurb compares it to Farscape, I’m gonna give it at least a look. When reading that Cat Rambo’s novel You Sexy Thing was compared with the show, I knew it’d be the book for me. Rambo did not disappoint. You Sexy Thing is full of interesting aliens that are more than just humans with pointy ears. Along with an excellent cast, Rambo created a book about found family and what it means to be part of one when the situation is dire.

Niko Larson, owner and manager of the Last Chance restaurant, used a loophole to escape the Hive Mind, and she took her former military crew with her. She claimed to be an artist with her preferred medium as cooking. Her first officer, a mystic, two were-lions, her communications officer, and others work in the restaurant to escape a lifetime military service obligation. On the eve of an important critic coming to review the restaurant, Niko receives an unexpected package with a person in stasis inside, and an admiral from the Hive Mind has brought their officers to the restaurant. The officer is using the reservation as cover to talk to Niko, privately. As Niko and crew begins to serve the critic, a rich racing pilot shows up wanting to meet the critic. Niko needs the critic to love the food and award the restaurant a Nikkelin Orb. This award would make the restaurant a desirable destination and solve their financial woes. So, when she tries to fend off the racing pilot, he offers Niko a sum she can’t turn down to just sit at a table near the critic. With the pilot’s incentive payment, Niko can buy a ship and set out on her long held, secret plans. The future looks bright for Niko and crew until an incomprehensible alien species, called the Arranti, blow up the space station home to the Last Chance. They escape aboard the sentient bioship, You Sexy Thing, only to be captured by pirates.

You Sexy Thing is a space opera told in an omniscient viewpoint. This means the reader has access to everyone’s thoughts, including those of the sentient bioship. Aliens and pirates, advanced technology and magic, Niko’s universe is a full one and a hopeful one. There are a lot of characters for an omniscient novel, but Rambo spends most of the time in Niko’s head, which is excellent. Niko, the focus of the adventures, carries the story. She’s an excellent leader, and while the reader learns about her background, it seems like there’s much more that could be explored. You Sexy Thing reads like an opening chapter in a bigger story without sacrificing completeness.

The Characters

The thing I loved about Farscape is exactly the thing I love about You Sexy Thing, the characters. Each member of Niko’s crew feels whole and unique. Rambo wrote them so that they feel like real people, and while they do have an alien-ness about them, they’re not defined by it. Skiddoo is a great example. She’s similar to a squid but, also, more than just a squid. She stood out to me, not because of her squid-like characteristics, but because she’s very tactile. A lot of Niko’s crew stayed with me long after I closed the book. There’s a scene where Dabry, the four-armed first officer, has to wear a shirt made for people with two arms. He cradles one set against his abdomen giving the impression of a beer belly. How fantastic is that?

Grouped by the Military, Family by Choice

In addition to the lovely characters, their interactions with each other is the core of the book. While there exists a hierarchy that began in the military, it’s clear that the group has fallen into natural roles. There is no strife with anyone in the group feeling out of place. In fact, the group dynamic is extremely healthy, and part of that is the after effects of their time in the Hive Mind’s military. But a bigger part is that they actually care for each other with Niko acting as head of the family. These people are together because they want to be together. When Niko escaped the Hive Mind, she could have peaced out, but she took her crew with her. Once free, that crew could have sought their own path, but they stayed with Niko. The crew of the Last Chance are together by choice, and this is their strength.

Politics of Rambo's Universe

We do catch glimpses of politics in You Sexy Thing but not much. Capitalism is very much the dominant mode of trade, and class divisions are quite real. The Hive-Mind acts like a collective but an authoritarian one, and IIRC they trap individuals in military service much like corporations used to make workers debtors of the company store. In addition, there exists a hippie or libertarian community called the Free Traders. The pirates seem to have been a libertarian group that’s slid fully into a dictatorship. We also learn that monarchies still exist. Again, we don’t get much of the political nature of Rambo’s universe, but like all other aspects of it, there’s plenty of options to explore.
Critiques

I loved this book. Still, no work of art is perfect. I felt that the ending was a bit rushed and not as clear as I’d like. The main plot point is solved pretty easily after all the buildup and torture that took place. Final ownership of the sentient bioship felt more like a plot device than a natural extension of the situation and characters. None of this took away from my enjoyment of the book, and I think most readers will find these minor quibbles.

Conclusion

Cat Rambo’s You Sexy Thing is a fun, hope filled space opera. The cast of characters is fantastic, and I think a lot of people will come to love them as much as I do. If this is the first book in a series, sign me up for book two. I want more adventures of Niko and the crew of You Sexy Thing.
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I loved the combination of cooking meets space pirates. The characters were realistic and complicated, and the story was well paced
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I received an advance copy of this book through NetGalley.

The summary for this book pitches it as Farscape meets The Great British Bake Off, and that's both amusing and apt. <i>You Sexy Thing</i> is a fluffy space opera romp through a far-future packed with various alien beings and unique places. Against this backdrop is an ensemble crew of (mostly) former soldiers who achieved freedom from the collective that once owned them by proposing that their true calling and cultural duty is to have a restaurant. That works out pretty well until the past catches up with them--especially beleaguered crew-leader Niko--when a mysterious box arrives at about the same time as a galaxy-famous food critic. When the station is attacked during that fateful meal, they take refuge on a sentient biological ship, the titular You Sexy Thing. From there, it's time for crew bonding, space pirates, and teaching a spaceship how to cook, because why not?

In case you couldn't tell, there's a definite element of whimsy throughout the book. I'm here for that. I just finished up some of K.B. Wagers' more intense and dark space opera books, so I was ready for a frolic through deep space. I'm a foodie, so I loved the food aspects, and the diversity of the cast is fantastic. My favorite is the most disliked character in the crew, the prophesying alien priest Lassite, who definitely gave me the vibe of Raistlin Majere, one of my all-time favorite lit characters. This particular exchange cracked me up:

Lassite appeared in the doorway. "Permission to speak of doom, captain?"
"Permission denied," Niko snapped.

The end of the book sets things up for a possible series but this would be a solid read on its own. No cliffhangers involved, just a space frolic with banter and pirates and cooking galore.
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I love interesting characters, not quirky character, not the ones that are so different that you have no frame of reference with which to understand them, but Interesting.

Capital I

This book is full of them, Were Lions, Four Armed Grade one Chefs (because who couldn't use more arms in the kitchen), healers who don't always heal, and lets not forget the Octopoid...

It's a tale that begins with a retired crew of soldiers trying to get a Nikkelin Orb (read: Michelin Star) for their newly opened restaurant, with their former Admiral (for all of ten hours) Nico Larson.  A visit from the food critic who could grant the orb coincides with a visit from an Admiral that Nico knows from her life before, and it quickly escalates into an act of wanton destruction, and the whole crew running from (or running towards) the chain of events that have started.

This brings me to the biggest problem I had with the book, there wasn't enough of it, there's a real warmth between the characters and the story moves along at a good pace, there's plenty to get into, but it feels very much like an origins story, even though it ties up (most of) the loose ends by the end of it.  The wry observations are reminiscent of Pratchett, but there's enough grit in the tale to keep the tension present, and that only makes it all the better.

I thought this was excellent, my only complaint was that I was really getting into it when I got to the end.
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I enjoyed this book.  The ship reminded me of Lexx.  I liked the Easter eggs such as whaales leaving earth (star trek voyage home ).  Occasionally  the writing would feel choppy and I'd have to go back to see if I had missed something.  There are several secondary characters  that I hope we learn more about if this series continues.   All in all a good fun read.  Looking forward to more in the series.
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This was a really cute, light hearted space opera that blended together my love of science fiction with my love of food. I loved the diversity of the characters in this novel, including some very fantastical aliens. In terms of tone, this story was definitely on the more goofy side than serious, which made for a fun easy read. This story will definitely appeal to readers who love books in the vein of Becky Chambers Wayfarer series. I would recommend to this one to foodie sci-fi readers looking for a fun adventure story

Disclaimer I received a copy of this book from the publisher.
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You Sexy Thing by Cat Rambo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This space opera sits on the edge of humorous foodie hijinx and immense regret and honestly, I don't know which it ought to be.

On the one hand, all the ex-military peeps running a culinary enterprise is fun and I had a great deal of fun with, say, Matt Wallace's mercenary cooks and Steinmetz's Sol Majestic, but while this had flavors of those, I'm not sure it knew what it really wanted to be.

There's a helping of planning and desperation, a core of identity exploration, and even a dash of all-out torture. But most of all, there's a bio-ship, foodie sensibilities, and pirates.

I wanted to like this more than I did. It had the feel of a Becky Chambers a lot of the time and then it keeps shifting gears or even stripping them when it went full adventure instead of foodie-identity. Maybe others will get a lot more mileage out of it.

It wasn't bad but it was sometimes a bit all over the place.
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What a title. I mean that in more ways then one. I really enjoyed this book, and would love to see what happens next. You Sexy Thing is the name of a spaceship that our band of characters reside in. Or used to reside in. Most were happy to never step foot in again. However, due to circumstances outside of their control they're forced to band together for one last adventure. And what a adventure it is! This book was consistently fun and full of heart! 4 out of 5!
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I would like to thank Cat Rambo and Tor Books for kindly providing an electronic review copy of this book.

Although the title sounds like a Harlequin Romance, "You Sexy Thing" by Cat Rambo is a delightful and exciting space opera. This book is packed with all kinds of delicious space opera goodness like super fast sentient bioships cruising the galaxy via wormhole gateways, a militant Holy Hive Mind sneakily taking over the galaxy, a squad of ex-Holy Hive Mind soldiers running a restaurant while trying to avoid  evil and deadly pirates, a mystic priest who talks with the dead, many different types of aliens, exploding space stations,  and a whole lot more. 

This was a really fun read!  I recommend it for anyone that likes books with spaceships, AI, aliens, pirates, soldiers, and outstanding chefs.
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This is right on the edge of "too silly" for me. It mostly doesn't fall over, but skirts precipitously close. There's mention of magic to do various things (although it all happens off-stage) at the same time that this is a galaxy-spanning society with a multitude of species and, it seems, a variety of FTL options for travelling around. There's a bit of prophesying going on, too, just to add to the mix. 

The blurb suggests this is Farscape meets Great British Bake Off. Yes to the Farscape: improbably different alien species interacting, living and working together; up to and including a biological ship, now I think about it. There's also a bit of Firefly. These comparisons are good for me; if you're able to suspend your disbelief about humans and squid-like and bird-like and vegetative species all being in the same place, then you'll be fine with this. The GBBO comparison is a bit thinner and honestly that's where I was a little disappointed. Cooking is definitely a factor here - the protagonists are running a restaurant when everything goes to hell in a handbasket, and features sporadically throughout. It's not a competition and there's not much _baking_, and really there could have been more food in general. So if what you're really craving is a pretty food-based narrative, I don't think this will meet your needs. 

The story is a fairly straightforward one - which isn't a negative: Niko and her companions were soldiers, now run a restaurant, things go boom (not their fault, swear), and then adventures ensue. Including hijacking and piracy and identity trouble and pasts coming back to haunt, etc. It's fast paced, there's a good amount of banter, there's engaging characters, and no desire to make this any sort of morality tale or a solemn exposition of galactic society. It's a romp, and for that it was well worth it. 

(It should be said that there's some rather surprising violence about halfway through - surprising because up to that point it hadn't been graphic at all - which I found disquieting because it seemed so out of place.)

All up, a fun read, and honestly isn't that something we need right now?
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This was a really fun read! The GBBO comparison is a litttle bit weak - while cooking is featured throughout, the competitive nature of it is only in the VERY beginning. Regardless. the crew and ship interactions are really fun! The plot pacing is a little oddball - it doesn’t have the same sort of arc that I expect from this kind of book. It almost felt like it was at odds with what kind of book it wanted to be - examination of relationships/identity or high stakes adventure-y - it does both, and it works ok but feels a teeny bit herky-jerky at times. That said, unpredictability is not a bad thing and I enjoyed the ride regardless!
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What a fun and entertaining novel. The characters are very similar to what you’d find in Farscape or Battlestar if it were more light hearted. A quick 300 page burn, but a fun one. What a cool author pen name too!
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