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The Return of Finally Watched It: “The Public”

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When I heard there was a movie about librarians coming out, you KNOW I had to get my hands on it as soon as possible. But the only places it was playing on the big screen were too far away and it took forEVER for the film to get a distributor. But we finally managed to get a copy on DVD and I sat down to watch it with my kid.

As far as depictions of our jobs go, this is pretty spot on. We get our fair share of strange questions, drunks, homeless people, and yes, even the naked ones. I will give this movie all the praise in the world for the acting as well; all very awesome.

However, the way it ended was very Hollywood. I cannot imagine a sit-in by the homeless and mentally ill resulting in the police raiding the building assuming the librarian is crazy and holding people hostage would end with singing in the real world. But I’d much rather that ending because reality is horrible enough.

I completely got how this movie portrayed the media and politicians twisting information before it reaches viewers and this is sadly also very true. Happens all the time. Overall, I thought this was amazing and I can’t wait to watch it again.

MAKE SOME NOISE!

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Lenni Reviews: “Komi Can’t Communicate” Vol. 1 by Tomohito Oda

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Hitohito Tadano has started at an elite high school and just wants to blend in until he can graduate. That’s until he ends up seated next to the prettiest girl in the school, Shoko Komi. After a while, he can’t help but notice Shoko never speaks and asks her if she has trouble talking to people. While Shoko may appear to be the perfect aloof princess, turns out she gets so terrified to say the wrong thing, she ends up saying nothing. Having opened up to him by writing on the chalkboard, Hitohito decides to help Shoko with her dream: to make 100 friends.

I kinda love this manga. I adore how Shoko doesn’t have any sort of disorder or anything, she’s just SUPER awkward. Watching the kids around her fumble to figure out what the heck she’s doing is funny and it’s genuinely sweet that Hitohito wants to help her out. I’m betting there will be some really interesting personalities Shoko will encounter on her quest for 100 friends and the story makes it really easy to root for her. So unless this takes some sort of horrible dark turn, I’m on board with this series and look forward to more! 4 out of 5!

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Lenni Reviews: “Smashed: Junji Ito Story Collection” by Junji Ito

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and us suggested for mature readers.

In another Junji Ito collection, I am once again impressed, frightened, and confused as to why I keep inflicting these nightmarish stories on myself. But Ito is true to his usual macabre, gory self in this series of short stories that will send shivers down your spine. I never get tired of this guy and love his work. I don’t want to go too deep into all the stories but my favorite was “Earthbound.” 5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Hark” by Sam Lipsyte

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Fraz Penzig is just meandering through life with little ambition and not much excitement in raising his twins with his wife, Tovah. He runs into a man named Hark who expounds on the teachings of Mental Archery. Fanz gets caught up in the movement Hanz accidentally starts and what once was some self-help jargon turns into an unhealthy cult.

From that premise, one would expect some amazing dark comedy, right? NOPE. Written like a cheap self-help book,  you are presented with too many words; leaving your mind desperate to find meaning in the flouncy actions and dialogue. So, your brain grasps at any sort of footing as you wait for something magical to happen.

And I think that may have been the whole point.

That does NOT mean I enjoyed this. Every word feels like work and I frequently just put down my kindle and held my forehead in exasperation. In the end, everybody sucks, everybody dies, and self-help won’t get you around those two immutable facts. An absolutely miserable read. 2 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Orbit” by Leigh Hellman

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

*This review is cross-posted to Otakus and Geeks.

Committed troublemaker Ciaan Gennet runs afoul of the law one too many times and ends up sentenced to probation at a spaceship port facility. He blonde hair makes her a target for bullies so she hopes to keep her head down and serve her time without incident. But when a captain with obviously suspicious cargo docks his ship, Ciaan gets caught up in a multiplanet conspiracy that puts her life in great danger.

Perhaps a little slow going until Ciaan ends up on the spacecraft but it’s still interesting. Great characters, awesome worldbuilding, and a great spin on some dystopian concepts. We have a smart woman of color as our main lead and I love reading about a motley crew of space rebels. Very cool book. 4.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up” by Naoko Kodama

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Morimoto Machi is not interested in marriage. All she wants is to succeed in her career and live on her own. But as the pressure from her parents to find a husband mounts, Morimoto’s friend, Agaya Hanna, offers to marry Morimoto to keep her parents from complaining. It also helps Agaya since she’s in the market for a new apartment. While the arrangement is inconvenient for Morimoto at first, she soon finds having Agaya around may not be so bad after all.

This is so cute! I love how Agaya stands up for herself against Morimoto’s parents and refuses to be labeled a freak. The pair make an adorable couple. I wouldn’t have minded if this was a little longer and went into some more detail in dealing with Morimoto’s parents. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Sea of Rust” by C. Robert Cargill

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Humanity is gone. Robots are also going extinct. Two remaining AIs are readying to go to war to claim the remaining freebots to add to their collective consciousness. While out scavaging for parts, former caregiver bot, Brittle, gets swept up in an insane gamble to save the last freebots on Earth.

If you like movies like 9, this is the book for you. The plots are similar in that the machines win a war against humans and the world is in ruins; minus any definitive heroes. Every character is flawed and out for myself, making this book ooze the very essence of a bleak, dystopian world. And I loved the adventure.

One nitpick I would have is the robots are almost too human but reading about a bunch of bland, personality drained dolls bashing up against one another would be boring. So, I’m all for it. 4.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Irena Book One: Wartime Ghetto” by Jean-David Morvan, Séverine Tréfouël & David Evrard

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

This graphic novel tells the story of Irena Sendlerowa, a social worker in the Warsaw ghetto in the early 1940’s who helped smuggle 2500 Jewish children out of the ghetto before getting captured and tortured by the Nazis.

While of course, this is not easy to read, it is an important story and I am glad to see it told. I’m not sure I would give this to a young person as it doesn’t flinch much from the horrors of the ghettos and Nazi torture but it’s still a great book. If I had a nitpick, it would be the ending. Spoilery but it shows her walking off into the light as if she died when she didn’t. She lived into her 90’s. 4.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “No Ivy League” by Hazel Newlevant

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*This book has been given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Sheltered homeschooler Hazel Newlevant takes a summer job clearing ivy from the forests in Portland, Oregon. At first, she’s just looking to make some quick cash for a concert but she finds her small world opened when interacting with more diverse kids.

I like this book because the main character isn’t a racist who comes around. Hazel has legitimately not interacted with anything other than other white, affluent, homeschooled kids and comes to realize there’s a bigger world out there. She has been given advantages others may not have and instead of being some White Savior or being riddled with White Guilt, she just makes friends and starts dancing. I respect that.

I do feel more needed to be done with her parents and their reasons for homeschooling Hazel. The mother does go into her backstory a bit but if systemic racism and white privilege are being addressed, more was needed with Hazel’s realization about why her mother chose this rather than a couple of panels and one trip to the library. But that’s just me. Overall, I enjoyed it. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Beastars” vol 1 by Paru Itagaki

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

*This review is cross-posted to Otakus and Geeks.

In this comic, the high school is divided into predators and prey and one student among them is selected to be a ‘Beastar’ – essentially their version of valedictorian as they exemplify the best of both predator and prey. But when a prey student is found dead, tensions are high and loner wolf, Legoshi – a friend of the murdered student – is struggling with his control with so much fear around him.

As I was reading this very sketchy drawn book, I didn’t think I would like it. I was concerned it would be to “on the nose” with the predator/prey aspect only to find it more nuanced than I’d assumed. This is one of the more original manga outings I’ve read in a long time. While the art style may feel strange at first, the characters draw you in. An impressive first volume and I do hope to continue this series.

And yup, totally got the Bella Legosi reference.

4 out of 5.

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