Book Review: Mazarin Blues (Hep Cats of Boise Book 1) by Al Hess

It's 2065, and when beta versions of the AI in people's heads start turning hostile and people with them start dying and disappearing, Reed will have to decide what to do with his, who seems to have developed feelings for him. In the meantime, he meets his dream guy and starts embracing the Art Deco counterculture he's always loved.

Book Cover - Mazarin Blues by Al Hess
Title: Mazarin Blues
Book Number: Book 1
Pages: 268
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon


This was so good and different, and I loved it!

A unique premise that put a really cool twist on the “self-aware artificial intelligence with emotions” theme.

Great writing.

A likeable, interesting, witty, anxious, realistic, imperfect but trying his best, developed main character.

A sexy, sweet, rebellious, tattooed, eyeliner-wearing love interest.

A complex, caring, sensitive AI secondary main character.

A gruff and stony but good-hearted supporting character / secondary love interest.

A believable m/m romance that had struggles and mistakes as well as chemistry and sweetness.

A sweet enby/enby romance with a character who doesn’t open up easily.

Diversity and representation that felt so organic and well done and was just part of the characters. Reed, the main character, was autistic and had anxiety. Jax, the love interest, was diabetic (he had some sort of futuristic insulin mod that took care of it, so that was just a brief mention) and Latinx. Mazarin, the AI character, was genderfluid (she/her and he/him) and asexual (not sex-repulsed, and according to the author’s site, I think gray ace). Em, one of the main supporting characters, was nonbinary (they/them) and disabled. And I think they were all either pan or bi, except Reed who was gay.

Side note: Man, Mazarin is living the dream! He has a body that can switch between genders whenever he wants! You might think the fact that his body is a hologram would be an issue for me, but considering my chronic illness and chronic injuries, not having a solid body would just be a nice bonus. Anyway, back to the review…




An unpredictable plot.

A setting in the future but with Art Deco-inspired subculture.

This is one of those books that managed to break the mold and really stand out for me, which is saying a lot considering I read roughly 150 sci-fi/fantasy books a year. This had a cool take on AIs having emotions, likeable and developed characters, lots of great inclusivity, sweet romances, and was overall a great story!

*Rating: 4.5 Stars // Read Date: 2021 // Format: eBook*


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Would you want to join an Art Deco / 1930s subculture if it existed?


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  1. Greg

    Ooh rogue AI and Art Deco? What’s not to like? This sounds fabulous, actually. I like the idea of a hologram body too. How many problems would THAT solve? Seriously though, this sounds great and the diversity sounds really well done too. Love the premise of this.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I knew I had to read it when I saw such a cool combo! And right? Put my brain in a jar and give me a hologram body. I’m ready for the body of the future lol.